Saturday, April 8, 2017

Entering into the Paschal Mystery--While Working

As a parish Director of Music, one of the downsides at times was the feeling that I was too "actively participating" in the Mass, I found it difficult to enter into the Mass in that quiet, meditative way that is possible when one is not concentrating on various responsibilities, or serving others.

Particularly for musicians, the creativity of the profession can overtake every attempt to meditate. If I found a Psalm in the Office for Holy Week particularly meaningful, for example, I would quickly jump to an idea about how to incorporate a motet on the Psalm into next year's Lenten programming. Such examples of the distractions of "good ideas" could be multiplied, particularly with all the details of the complex liturgies of Holy Week.

I would like to offer a few suggestions for profitably praying through Holy Week while working.

  • Take time out for personal prayer, preferably in a different church, when it is quiet. 
  • Keep a notebook handy, and when distractions almost inevitably come, write them down. Let the notebook "remember" to rehearse that difficult passage with the tenors, or what have you, while you gently recall yourself to your prayer.
  • Pray for the people in the choir and for your congregation, and for your clergy.
  • Use postures of prayer to involve your body in a wholistic way before God.
  • Consider letting one of your choir members lead prayers before rehearsals and liturgies, letting you off the hook and giving yourself a chance to respond for once, rather than leading.
  • Go to confession this weekend.
  • Ask the saints to help you to pray. The Pope Emeritus said in one of his books that when he starts to pray, he asks Sts. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Bonaventure to help him, because "they are friends of mine." The saints who are particular friends are ready and waiting to help, and we can rely on their good will.
  • Do a non-musical good deed for someone early in the week.
The key here is to let the love of God come first, as the heart and soul of our work for God. We don't want to be sounding gongs, or clanging cymbals, but true ministers of conversion. That always starts with myself. 

We never know. This might be my last Lent on earth, my last Holy Week, and it might be the same for others. I still remember a very ill man in my parish, must be 25 years ago now, who would die within a year, kneeling for the veneration, knowing full well that he would need help to stand up again, and looking nonetheless grateful for the opportunity to show his love for Christ. 

May it be the same for all of us during this time of grace.