All posts tagged: Paschal mystery

Notre Dame Vision and the Miraculous Unlikely

Our God is an unlikely one. I mean this not as an ontological argument (which would be above my pay grade) but as a small observation. To us, the small and the lost, the workings of our God can only rarely seem miraculous, and even when we can perceive them, these miracles of the everyday, it is frequently only possible to do so through that most powerful of lenses, hindsight. In the moment, as they are lived, they instead seem to be merely unlikely. As a twenty-year-old sophomore at Notre Dame, I thought myself to be an unlikely fit for a program like Notre Dame Vision. I knew only a few people who had worked for the program, and while they were wonderful people, this was, perhaps counterintuitively, at the root of my concerns. These people were wonderful, and I was not. My interests and my future lay outside what I perceived to be the confines of a vocational summer retreat for high school students. But I, the unlikely counselor, applied and was perhaps unexpectedly …

God Reigns Over the Nations

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. Alleluia! Christ is Risen! In our daily lectionary, we are pointed to the incredible depth and range of the human experience that we find in the Psalms. We really do have something for the whole spectrum of the human experience in the Psalter. Today, in Psalm 47, we get the biblical manual for what to do on the day that your resurrected Lord and Saviour begins rising up from the surface of the earth until he is taken from your sight on a cloud: “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” “God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.” Admittedly, the account in the Acts of the Apostles is not actually descriptive of the heavenly musical ensemble at this precise moment. And just in case you were confused about what to do at having witnessed this incredible event, the psalmist knowingly added in “sing praises …

Weeping with Rachel, in Sorrow and Hope

There are some stereotypes that often accompany the college stage of a woman’s life. Some (like loving babies, studying in coffee shops, etc), I embraced. Others I did my absolute best to avoid (and we’ll leave those ones to the imagination). My friends and I all proudly took up an affection for and gravitation toward all infants and young children within a mile radius as our stereotypical banner of choice. In fact, we had an unspoken arrangement that involved immediately informing each other of the presence of any nearby bundle(s) of joy. My girlfriends and I reveled in the wonder that small children have; we discussed how there is nothing on this earth more precious than tiny fingers, toes, and noses; we felt the urge to play peek-a-boo with any and all small children who crossed our paths. And if we saw a little tyke just wobbily learning to walk, it was absolutely the game-over-highlight of our day. Not having children of our own yet meant that we certainly still had a somewhat romanticized view of young children …

Confessions of a Post-‘Rad Trad’ Millennial: The Perfect Sacrifice

I grew up in a parish that was very much steeped in the “Spirit of Vatican II”: our priests used glass chalices, wore their stoles over their chasubles, and there wasn’t a Sunday in Ordinary Time when we didn’t sway to the beat of a rousing song. For the most part, I had good liturgical formation growing up. While many abuses perdured, my pastor had a keen penchant for “good liturgy.” When I started working at Holy Name Cathedral as a high school seminarian, I knew much of the hardware of liturgy. It should be no surprise then, that when I was introduced to what the Church now calls the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, I was enamored by its beauty and elaborate ritual. As the self-appointed liturgical constable for the high school seminary, I came close to putting myself in schism, seeing the “new Mass” of Vatican II as a radical departure from what preceded it. This mindset followed me throughout college when I was part of the Latin Mass Society of Quincy, …

The Liturgy: Work of the Holy Trinity

It is well known that the reforms of the liturgy associated with Vatican II had as their goal greater participation on the part of all. Many things changed in the external celebration of the rites designed to facilitate this, and those changes have borne abundant fruit. But the renewal of the liturgy also wished to provide a fresh understanding of the meaning of the rites, a deeper theological grasp of what the words and the signs mean. And ultimately of what God does, what God accomplishes when the sacred liturgy is celebrated. Deepening this theological grasp is of immediate pastoral relevance, for it means greater interior and conscious participation in the rites themselves. This theological renewal is a work that we can take up anew, a question that continually needs our attention. This is the approach that The Catechism of the Catholic Church takes, and here I would like to show how useful some of its formulations are for a deepened understanding of the liturgy. After ten brief paragraphs that deal with preliminaries (CCC §§1066-1075), …

The Mass for Millennials: Lamb of God

Many of us struggle with the “presence in absence” of God in the Eucharist. It is hard to believe that our God, incarnate in Jesus Christ, is really and actively present with us in the Eucharist, which seems to be just mundane, ordinary bread and wine. When faced with this feeling of doubt or even apathy, I find that the “Lamb of God” impels me to confront the “presence-in-absence” of God in the Eucharist in a new way. First, the congregation says or sings this acclamation addressed to Christ: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; grant us peace. Then, the priest raises the eucharistic species and says aloud this text combined from John 1:29, 36 and from the Book of Revelation 19:4 acclaiming the supper of the Lamb: Behold the Lamb of God; behold him who takes away the sins …

Music of Holy Week: The Easter Vigil

The Exsultet The silent darkness of Holy Saturday is shattered by the radiant light of the Easter fire and the resounding echoes of the great Easter Proclamation, known as the Exsultet. In this stunning liturgical moment, the priest or deacon sings the “perfect praises” of the “the light of Christ,” the Paschal candle. The candle represents the risen Christ, the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12, 9:5). This light of Christ has been poured into the hearts of all the faithful through the grace of Baptism, and it will be poured into the hearts of those who have prepared throughout the Lenten season for this liturgy, when they will receive the Easter sacraments. We pray that the light, “divided yet undimmed” may be kept burning as the Church continues her witness to Christ and to fulfill his exhortation to become herself “the light of the world” and the “salt of the earth” (cf. Mt 5:14–16). In the proclamation of the Exsultet and in the sharing and receiving of the light of Christ, we hear and …

Music of Holy Week: Good Friday

On this Good Friday, as we recall the Passion and Death of Jesus, we gaze upon the Cross. On the one hand, we recoil from the Cross in horror as the instrument of torture and execution, the gibbet on which the Savior of the world hung in agony and breathed his last. On the other hand, we rejoice in the Cross as the means by which Jesus Christ accomplished our salvation and the salvation of the whole world. During the Good Friday liturgy, we proclaim the Passion narrative and mourn for Christ as we recall his agony and death, and yet, moments later, we adore and venerate the Cross, acknowledging that it is “our only hope.” Today’s musical pieces allow us to gaze at the Cross in anguish and in awe. The text from the first piece, Eli, Eli (1928) by Hungarian-born composer György Deak-Bárdos (1905–1991), comes from the Passion according to St. Matthew: And about three o’clocl Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabacthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why …

Music and the Paschal Mystery

As the Church enters into its yearly observance of Holy Week, liturgical musicians throughout the world anticipate the fruition of months of preparation and prayer. Every year, the liturgies of Holy Week, and especially of the Sacred Paschal Triduum, place a joyous burden on those involved in liturgical music ministry as they lead congregations in singing the mysteries that lie at the heart of the Christian faith, and in praising God for what has been accomplished in Christ. In a word, the music of Holy Week is saturated. The imagery of the texts and chants found within the Roman Missal is rife with Scriptural resonances from both the Old and the New Testaments, a beautiful example of the “true divine pedagogy” wherein the “New Testament [is] hidden in the Old and the Old [is] made manifest in the New” (Dei Verbum, §§15, 16). In the texts we sing throughout Holy Week, and especially those sung at the Easter Vigil, we sing of salvation history, tracing the marvelous work of God from the creation of the …