Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Without You we can do nothing...

I think you've done well if you can take one gem, one single nugget of wisdom away from a work-shop, or day of reflection.
Sifting through the bushels of facilitator-speak, there is almost always some kernel of great truth to be found, right?
And besides, this is the midwest, the hospitality is always generous, the food always good.

I attended one diocesan thang when I had just begun doing this for what I laughingly 9or laughably?) call a "living", where the key-note speaker, possessor of a very Big Name in the liturgical-industrial complex, began his address smiling about all the work he had put in on the past Christmas.

"I did THIS, and this, and then I did that, and I had done all of those, and gotten new ones of these and spent all this time planning that, and arranged and wrote and stapled and composed and phoned and directed and played and found and persuaded and taught and...."
He had a stand-up's timing, and a funny charming manner, and I thought excellent, and waited for the punchline.

And it came, "and then at 12:05 pm I slumped on the organ bench and thought, is that all there is? isn't anybody going to THANK US for the Christmas liturgies we made for them, all the things we gave them?"

And we all roared with recognitions, and I thought good, now he'll give us sitting here all smug the zinger we deserve -- WE didn't make anything, GOD DID IT ALL.

Of course you will always feel dissatisfied if you are looking for credit for something you didn't do. (Not to mention a fundamental misunderstanding of the identity of your employer/boss/client. Hint: not the guy who signs your check. As Gaudi liked to remark)

But that wasn't where he went with it, his talk went on to be about how we as pastoral musicians must avoid burn-out since we are so under-appreciated.
He wasn't being ironic at all! And around me people nodded even more knowingly at that!

So the nugget of wisdom I took away from that day didn't come from the speaker -- it was my realization that if the whole thrust of liturgical planning as taught by the LIC, and the focus of so much of the music, (actually, the texts thereof,) pushed by the LIC seems wrong, wrong, wrong... well there's a reason for that.

And that is that their understanding is wrong, wrong, wrong.

They really DO think it's all about what we do and what we're gonna do, and what we can do... no wonder so much of the prayer we sing is Pelagianism Lite.

But the leading lights of the LIC are coming around:
About 18 months ago I heard a lecture by a prominent liturgist who suggested that, instead of thinking that the liturgy is primarily the "work of the people"—as it is described in many liturgical circles—we should first think of the liturgy as the work of God. Look at that prayer again: "for when we proclaim the death of the Lord (the very definition of what we do at Mass) you continue the work of his redemption." God is always at work; working on each and every one of us and we experience this at Mass when we celebrate the Eucharist, proclaiming the cross and resurrection of Christ. But this is a holy exchange of work, for we must do our part, the necessary work that it takes to "proclaim the death of the Lord."

When I shared this with the members of the liturgy and spiritual life committee at our meeting last night, it dawned on me that this is a great stance to have when going to Mass: expecting that God will be hard at work on me, while I am doing the work of the liturgy.

No comments: