If you’ve ever seen the film version of Carl Sagan’s “Contact,” you’ve seen two of many magnificent earthbound radio telescope installations, namely the Large Telescope in Arracebo, Puerto Rico and the Very Large Array of dish telescopes in the New Mexico desert. Jodie Foster’s character resolutely believes that “little green men” have and are trying to contact “us.” So, she and her crew relentlessly listen for frequencies that are unidentifiably “foreign” to cosmological emmissions.
I’ve had my second bout of bronchitis at a colloquium this year, but got antibiotics called in from California which I got onboard immediately. That allowed me to participate in my schola and choir for each day, amid getting some rest at other points of the day. But, during yesterday’s Mass (Latin OF) and Wednesday’s EF I purposefully sat in the very back- does that make me a real Catholic or just a conscientious PIP?- even though bronchitis isn’t contagious.
The Reverend Doctor Ed Schaefer’s schola chanted the Latin Introit from the very front of the nave on the gospel side. From the back of the church I could hardly hear them without intensive focus on my part. When I psychologically adjusted to that I heard first the men effortlessly sailing through the antiphon in a manner that would suggest an almost sotto voce vocal technique, but it really wasn’t. They sang with what Horst Buchholz says, “sing with two ears, not one mouth.” And then the more accessible treble women took over the antiphon adding the beauty of womenchant with almost sheer perfection. I had to write down, “I’m listening to angelic choirs (literally?) crossing, or permeating the noises and frequencies that reverberate through both the cosmos and our earth. AKA, “Contact.”
It was yet another revelation to me from yet another moment in a colloquium. Actuoso means that, like those telescopes, we have to have our human “operator,” our will and desire, predisposed to listen for those beatific sounds. Maybe all of them won’t be perfect or pretty or pristine, but they’re there at every Mass. And if you don’t understand what I’m saying, get thee to a colloquium.