Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Church Musician or Not?

You know, when I started this blog, I thought I would be writing more about my music and what I do with it, but I quickly realized that this was just a catch-all for all my reflections on life in general and that music was just one part of that, but...

I recently had a friend over to my house who told me that I could not label myself a Catholic Musician. That to imagine myself "above it all, looking at the back of people's heads and baby faces" was ridiculous. That being a Catholic Musician was just one part of what I do and it certainly was not the largest part of what I do. And, that the music program that I am helping with (I am NOT in charge of it) wasn't ever going to be a program I could hang my hat on or base my reputation on. After I could breathe again (because I was so angry, I lost my breath), I began to think about what my friend had to say.

First of all, I am not imagining myself "above it all". In fact, I imagine myself very much a part of the congregation from the choir loft. It is wonderful that all our focus, every person's, is on the true meaning of the Mass, The Eucharist.

It is true, that this program will never be the Catherdal's program. It doesn't have to be. Being a Catholic Musician, by definition, means using the tools that God has provided you with the bring forth the BEST worship that the congregation can offer. In fact, the documents of Vatican II tell us that the faithful have a RIGHT to a Mass presented with dignity and reverence and to have it presented to the best abilities of the parish.

That's being a Catholic Musician. Taking the resources you have and bringing them to the height of their abilities, whatever those abilities are. So, if your choir is only capable of singing in unison, then you sing in unison, and do it the very best that you can. If they can do Palestrina, then do Palestrina. Your job is to gauge what the abilities of your choir are and how you can best present them to give the Mass dignity and beauty. It's all about the's not really about the music.

Am I a Catholic Musician? Yes. I think so. Am I a good Catholic musician? Yes. I think so. Can I hang my hat on the music progam of my parish? Yes. And I am proud to, because our music program is an honest Catholic music program. We may not be the splashiest. We may not be the most skilled, but we are honest in our worship of God. Are we in a choir loft? No. But every week, we stand facing the Blessed Sacrament. There is a peacefulness in being able to sing directly to the object of your adoration. In the final analysis, it is a prayer. Have we prayed when we leave Mass? Has our music helped the congregation pray? If so, then we have done our job. Remember: It's all about the Mass!

So, yes, I am a Catholic Musician. It is all I want to be. It consumes me. I constantly search for music for the choir. I constantly strive to better myself and to help the others expand their knowledge, as well. I consistently point and re-point the choir back to the Blessed Sacrament; the focus of the Mass. I try to bring their best out, and they continually humble me and forgive my foibles.

Oh, yes, my friend! That is WHO I AM!

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