If today you sing, your hearts will be softened
It’s a common gag that most Catholics don’t sing at mass. It is a job for the cantor or the choir or the brave souls who come together. The rest of us will be singing along with our favorites but we tend to leave the actual articulation of these prayers set to music to the professionals. Songs is when you drift through the homily, find yourself pestered by a thousand thoughts, and then get caught up in lyrics that remind you of where you are and what you’re trying to do – be present at the Lord. Sometimes God is not subtle about these things. There are songs that prevent my distraction, and hymns that help and encourage it.
I know I could cut the internal and external criticism and just sing… and I should. I also know that I don’t always do this.
Singing makes you visible, and most of us know that we would be voted by someone other than God for our voice. It’s not an argument against singing, it’s an explanation of why we don’t. We should, we don’t. We having fallen, I being fallen, let us seek distraction, for our innate disorder repels us.
Two weeks ago, a man from my ward who is a cantor, standing in the choir and offering his voice as a witness to what we should be doing, died of complications from cancer. I had known him for years seeing him work to help with the liturgy. He sang the Responsorial Psalms and the “Dona Nobis Pacem”. We saw him in prayer meetings, and before Covid after mass in the church hall, having coffee and donuts. I also remember getting the wrong name three times before it stuck in my head.
That Sunday, after she passed away, as I was recovering from surgery to rid my body of cancer, I watched Sunday mass in my ward. I could hear his voice. I couldn’t help but hear it as the choir sang. It is a good homage to her soul, may her voice be anchored in Mass in my memory, and during the celebration of the feast of the Assumption of Mary in Heaven. I am sure he sings “Salve Regina” with all he has in the context of the Triumphant Church. As all the masses are the union of Heaven and Earth, I have no doubt that I heard his voice.
The sky is a place of joyful noise, of endless songs of praise.
Maybe we Catholics need to change our tone and start practicing for the purpose of life, and stop Simon Cowwell from being silent. We are not here to play, we are here to pray. We come to mass, we kneel, we get up and we sit and we beat the breasts and make the sign of the cross and genuflection in an attempt to harmonize the body with God. God knows that we need physical contact and intimacy to be real, to truly worship, which is why He gives us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. He knows that we need all of our senses to be provoked because we are infinitely distracted stupid sheep who often think that we are not lost. So He gives us Mass with prayers, with songs, with silence, with everything that is contrary to the world and yet reveals the best reality that God wants for us.
Let us learn to open our mouths and proclaim the goodness of the Lord to the world, to have the courage to be heard, even among our fellow parishioners. It would be a beautiful tribute to all who are singing now, including my friend, and I hope that would mean, when one day we will be the ones who will not be there but who will be at every mass, the militant of the Church who attend mass, will hear our voices in songs.