How Can We Prepare?

Many of us have learned of Wednesday night’s attack on two FSSP priests serving in Phoenix, AZ.  Area police continue to hunt for a gunman who murdered Fr. Kenneth Walker, and critically injured Fr. Joseph Terra.  The crime has been reported as a burglary.  No motive has been determined.

Fr. Walker visited our parish in San Diego as a deacon, three years ago.  He struck me as a singularly gentle, innocent, and humble young man.  When I saw his picture in the news today, I had a hard time imagining the level of cowardice and malice needed to take his life.

When members of the Body of Christ are brutalized, it can be difficult to resist an overwhelming sense of sadness and helplessness.  As more details of his murder come to light, we may well discover Fr. Walker was martyred.  How can we honor his life?  How can we prepare a response in our own lives?

It is my honor to direct a few groups of incredibly dedicated and delightful people.  At a rehearsal tonight, after discussing Fr. Walker’s murder, I stood at the podium and saw a mix of faces filled with sadness, uncertainty, fear, and resolve.  I encouraged them to respond to this tragic attack by renewing their resolve to live a life for Jesus.  To choose now, and to prepare now.  May God give us the strength to remain faithful, to fight, to resist, to pray, to console, and to offer all to Him.

Our Sung Prayers Help Prepare Us
We who work in the field of sacred music as choir directors, organists, and singers possess a great treasure in the sung prayers of the Church.  To the extent that we give our talent and training to glorify God and to edify the faithful, we contribute to spreading joy, hope, and peace.  In our chants, we embrace a full range of human experience- joy, wonder, contrition, sorrow- and we trust that God will bring good out of evil.  

One thing I love about Gregorian chant is how it serves to unite believers across time and borders.  To develop a common chant repertoire that strengthens Christian bonds of charity is part of the genius of the sacred liturgy.  For the singers under my direction, I suggest an “emergency chant pack” of sorts that contains memorized, internalized pieces.  Some prayers we memorize together, and more are chosen by the individual.  These time-tested prayers are doctrinally rich, melodically beautiful, and can serve as sources of strength and consolation during the toughest of times.
What chants would be on your list?

7 Replies to “How Can We Prepare?”

  1. "Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna" from the absolution at the Requiem Mass.

  2. The "Requiem aeternam" introit.

    "Veni, Creator Spiritus."

    "Da pacem Domine."

  3. Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Littleton CO will be having a sung high Requiem mass (EF form) for Fr. Walker on Monday June 16th at 8:30am (call time 7:30 in the parish hall). I invite all singers that connect with the Chant Café to come and sing with us.
    Besides the Gregorian Requiem I'm planning the Victoria – Vere Languores Nostros as a communion or offertory hymn and either the Josquin – Ave Verum Corpus Christi or Victoria – O Vos Omnes as well.

    Requiescat in pace. May Our Lord have mercy on his soul and may God heal Fr. Terra.

    Rick Wheeler
    Music Director
    Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
    5612 S. Hickory Street
    Littleton, CO 80120

    If you can join us

  4. I second what Rick Walker is doing in Colorado, and I want to expand on the idea of an "emergency chant pack." It should be bigger. I'm thinking of an "emergency Requiem."

    My background is in communications, public relations, that sort of thing, so these thoughts come out of that experience.

    We have had a number of tragic events in this country in the past few years — I need not name them here. What happens after these events? Somebody arranges to have a Candlelight Vigil of some kind in some open, public space. There are some nondescript comforting songs sung, someone reads out some random comforting words from some faith tradition, and everybody goes home.

    Now, suppose suppose something like this were to be said at one of these events: "Hi, I'm Father Rick Crichton, and I'm with Our Lady of the Precious Blood downtown. Our parish is an mission of the Community of the Holy Cross, and we want to do something to bring God's comfort to our community in its time of sorrow. We know of no better way of doing that than offering a Requiem Mass, in the Traditional Latin Rite, for the repose of the souls killed in this tragedy. We will have this Holy Mass at Our Lady of the Precious Blood on Wednesday, two days from now, at 7:30 pm. Everybody is invited. You don't have to be Catholic to attend. We will pray the traditional prayers of the Requiem, and chant the Church's ancient chants for the repose of the souls of the departed. God will bring you His comfort here."

    I know it sounds crass to put it this way, but this is a terrific publicity opportunity for Chant and the Church's Tradition. Someone may have their first encounter with this at such an occasion.

    That's happening right now in Phoenix. You can see from these video reports (hat tip: Father Z) that there is a lot of sympathy for Father Walker and the Fraternity in that city right now. And these are secular media reports, not the Catholic press.

    Some people are going to start to think: "Hey. The FSSP isn't the Big Bad Anti-Vatican II dinosaurs that I've been taught to believe all these years. It looks like they've Got Something here." That's the potential value of an "emergency Requiem."

  5. It's always struck me, since I learned about it, that Chant is a sacramental – as are holy water, blessed salt, etc. I've found it to be a most valuable recourse in times of temptation. When I'm feeling tempted, if I have the presence of mind to chant out loud and boldly the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria or the Salve, it immediately lightens the burden of the struggle. The devil loathes all prayer, but it seriously confounds him when it's in Latin and chanted. So – prescinding from the question of a longer term prepper chant pack raised by this excellent post (thanks Mary Ann) – my weapons of choice in temptation are: Pater Noster, Ave Maria, the Salve, and Ave Verum Corpus.

    P.S. I've been surprised to find how appreciative children are of the notion of chant as a sacramental – of singing it as a weapon in the fight against the devil's temptations.

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