Friday, June 8, 2012

A Most Profound Gesture

I must share a brief but important insight after contemplating our travels through Ireland and Scotland over the past week.

Just four days into our pilgrimage, we made a stop outside of Dublin, at St. Michael's Parish in Gorey. It is a parish that is struggling with its liturgical music scene, but it also is home to one of the most beautiful acoustic spaces we'd come across.

At the end of the concert that evening, the Parish Priest, Fr. Willie Howell, offered some words on what he'd just witnessed. "I think the most important thing we've seen tonight," he said, "was the raising of the cantor's hand."

Willie got his liturgy degree from the University of Notre Dame, so he knows his stuff. But this was far more than an informed comment: it was prophetic. For generations, this nation has accepted mute witness as the normative stance to the joy of the Eucharist. This, even though the compass-point documents of the Second Vatican Council state clearly: "full, conscious, active participation".

In reflecting over this document the past few days, I've come to understand and appreciate these words all the more. In part, because I've realized that they were written as a global exhortation.. There was no asterisk at the end of the statement, saying "Oh, by the way, a few of you English speaking countries are off the hook". The documents were written as a worldwide standard: a standard of participative, encouraging, collaborative joy, irregardless of the nation or the nation's history.

Throughout our journey, our cantors and soloists raised their arms frequently, inviting assemblies to join in acclamation. Sometimes, they were greeted with uncomfortable looks. But more often than not, their invitations were welcomed by both the Irish and the Scots – almost as if they were saying, "finally, someone is giving us permission to sing."

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:En route to Nunraw Abbey, outside of Edinburgh, Scotland

1 comment:

  1. I don't think that this is a message which most Irish people want to hear.