Not singing in church is likened to not working out while at the gym—it confounds me to no end. I try to go to the gym every day, thus I
see all sorts of ordinary people going about their different workout routines. Some walk slowly on the treadmill, some swim laps, and
others lift weights. I'm not asking you to train for an Olympic team and audition for the Washington Opera Chorus, but I am
encouraging you to “hop on the treadmill” of singing while in church. Over the past four weeks of this series, we have gathered that
heaven could very well be a large choir where everyone is expected to participate. I also have explained that participating in sung
prayer can transport you into a new realm of spiritual existence. The celebration of the Holy Mass is the closest action on earth to
heaven, therefore we ought to emulate heavenly actions described to us in the bible: “sing with the choirs of angels.” Sadly, we live in a performance culture. We expect people to sing to us and in turn we have sacrificed our own musical ability and confidence. I smile when I look out in the congregation and see folks who look like they are waiting in line for painful dental surgery or who stand idle with their arms crossed counting down the minutes until they can “escape” after Communion. It's these types of congregants that I want to reach out to the most. I want to learn why they seem unhappy and I want to share with them the possibility of unimaginably enjoying worship by getting out of it what you put into it. Why am I pressing this issue so much? Several times in my life I have experienced a
profound spiritual moment through the grace of music. I am not talking about a heart warming emotional moment, I'm talking about a "Saul being knocked off his horse on the road to Emmaus" kind of moment. Feeling the Spirit of God manifested in music has fueled
me to continue to do what I do in hopes of transpiring similar encounters for you. It is not only why I work our choirs very hard and expect much out of our cantors and instrumentalists, but also why I whole heartedly encourage the entire congregation to
participate in music, as well. The Catholic Church has been experiencing an “identity crisis” of sorts when it comes to sacred music. After Vatican II, Catholic music became a wasteland of musical genres and compositions. Mass became a variety show and the culture of "you sing, I listen" was born. Now, don't get me wrong, there are times when we can actively participate during Mass through listening prayerfully to the choir or to the organ, but that is not an excuse to not sing! So join in, have fun, offer it up, and most importantly, offer praise and thanksgiving to our Living God who is so very good to all of us. Peace and blessings to you and yours for a very Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year!