Making an offering through music
How would you define priesthood? At its core, priesthood across cultures seek to draw people into a close union with God. The priest stands in a mediating role – offering prayers and sacrifices on behalf of the congregation.
In baptism preparation, I often point out that a child is being initiated into Christ’s office of priesthood.
Priesthood for a lay baptised can mean different things such as bringing people into an encounter with God or praying on behalf of someone. Some have even argued that the production of sacred art is in some ways a priestly act, because the artist is leading creation – here wood, oils, pigments, fabrics, eggs, etc. to honour God with their very being.
It is within the context of the final example above, that I wish to write to us about music in our communities.
What is church music to you? Filler around key moments? Entertainment? Something to give the people to do? Decoration?
I argue that sung music in the parish is a profoundly priestly work. In an increasingly noisy world, a Christian congregation, takes sound and makes something beautiful out of it for God. It makes an offering. Singing is also the act of a priestly people.
In the bible, Israel is referred to as a priestly people and now at mass, the congregation gets a chance to offer worship in praise and petition through hymns as one body.
Further, it grows more united each time it sings together. Anyone who has sung an anthems in a stadium or at a pub can attest to the solidarity the experience creates. How much more for us, when we bring with us, our wounds and divisions over this vote or that polemic.
Why do I say any of this? The parish has been appealing to you, requesting any help you can offer with our music on weekends. We have largely gotten by on the generosity of volunteers, but as volunteers have stepped back, new parishioners have not taken their place.
May I appeal to you again, if you have musical talents, to consider assisting our Catholic household on the weekends? I am asking for your help to enable the men and women beside you to fulfil their priestly duty which begins before the priest has even begun processing in.
I end with two quotes concerning music, from the Second Vatican Council’s document on the liturgy with emphasis added:
Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion [to its connection to the] liturgical action,
whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites.
Accordingly… the purpose of sacred music, [is] the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful…