One of the more famous quotes of Blessed Pope John XXIII concerning the Church’s Second Vatican Council refers to him saying that he wished to “throw open the windows of the Church”.  Although I was never alive to witness pre-Vatican II liturgical culture, I have appreciation for its beauty and intent as a means of ritualistic prayer, but yet I also understand many of the reasons why our maverick Pope possessed the foresight to lead the Catholic Church into a new era.  The documents of the Second Vatican Council are numerous and extensive. Interestingly, in the document concerning the Sacred Liturgy, the discussion of music takes up a significant portion and emphasizes a key instruction that “all the faithful should be led to take [a] full, conscious, and active part in liturgical celebrations…” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 2:14).  Singing is one of the primary ways that we, as the faithful, can manifest active participation in the Liturgy.  My own personal understanding of music in the Catholic Church is that it must serve the Liturgy and assist us in experiencing the Spirit of God in our midst.  We all have favorite hymns and songs that we like to sing, but please do not find yourself limited to a handful of melodies scattered throughout the year.  Motivate yourself and your family to actively sing all of our liturgical music, even if it is new and perhaps unfamiliar.  I’m not suggesting that you sing as loud as possible and cause a scene, but I am encouraging you to make some sort of noise (whether on pitch or not!) while reading the text of a hymn. Parents – do you encourage your children to sing during Mass? If not, open the hymnal for them. I carefully select all of the hymns at each Mass to coincide with the scripture readings and themes of the liturgy in hopes of inspiring in you a more fulfilling and prayerful encounter with our Living God. I bet that you will find it much more stimulating to sing along with a hymn rather than stare at a white wall! Once everyone is in the habit of singing, our Parish family will gain tremendous vibrancy and a new sense of enthusiasm will enter our public prayer.Still not convinced? Stay tuned because next week we will discuss my favorite complaint, “Why do we have to sing all of the verses!”.