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Sacred Then, Sacred Now

Dear Friends in Christ,

            I am happy to announce that this Sunday, at both the 10:30 am and 12:30 pm Masses, we will once again be offering sacred music in a classical setting, to support our worship of God the Father, in union with His Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  As was the case with the introduction of the use of the kneeler for reception of Holy Communion, so too, the use of sacred music, which is distinct from contemporary Christian music, has been widely appreciated since we began offering it during Holy Week.  The beauty of our Catholic faith and divine liturgy is that it has transcended current fads and cultural secularism for 2,000 years now.  Rather than making our Sunday Mass experience something similar to the engaging experience a fan now has at Oriole Park at Camden Yards or M&T Bank Stadium with fireworks and fan chants such as “Let’s go Os” and “Move those chains,” our worship at Mass is meant to be utterly different than that, in a beautiful and self-transcendent way.  I recently came across a pastoral letter from the Diocese of Wichita in which their bishop discusses the role of sacred music at Mass and how such music can assist the congregation in worship.  It is worth the read and can be found here:

            While I am not suggesting that we do away with our contemporary worship music- I quite like it and have even written a few songs in recent months I hope to use at Mass one day- I do think the points raised in the pastoral letter, referenced above, are worth discussing.  From the way we dress, to the way we worship, all say something about what we believe.  Looking to the past, we can learn both positive and negative lessons as it regards how we worship.  One such lesson is the sad chapter of the heresy of iconoclasm, which emerged, in part, because of the spread of Islam, which forbade any paintings, mosaics, or sculptures depicting God.  This Christian heresy was enacted in AD 745 under the emperor Leo III and was primarily situated in Byzantium.  Fortunately, it was successfully refuted at the Council of Nicaea II, in AD 787.  Just as it was wrong to destroy sacred art in the 8th Century, so too, I believe, it is wrong that we abandon the great patrimony of the Church as it regards the use of sacred music at Mass.  This Sunday, under the direction of Dr. Ernie Barretta, we will use a Mass setting adapted from Franz Schubert’s German Mass, composed in 1827, as well as selections from Vivaldi’s Gloria, composed in 1715, as well as Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor, composed in 1783.

            My hope is that our recovery of this aspect of our Catholic faith- which is in perfect keeping with the Second Vatican Council and its teaching on the Sacred Liturgy, found in the document titled, Sacrosanctum Concilium, - will help us to worship our Triune God on the Lord’s Day.  Our lives are busy and filled with both joys and sorrows.  As the mystical body of Christ, our coming together in worship on Sunday, with the help of sacred music, is the greatest act we can accomplish here on earth, for it is the eternal reality we have all been called to in heaven.  What was sacred then, in the time of Vivaldi, Mozart, and Schubert, is sacred now, and the gift these Catholic composers left us is immense.  May our participation in the Mass and our use of sacred music help us to enter, more deeply, into the mysteries of our faith, as we worship and receive love incarnate.

In Christ,

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Our mission is to strengthen marriage and the family through the sacramental life of the Church
and to cultivate a spirit of shared commitment to the following areas of Christian life:
Conversion, Discipleship, and Evangelization.