About this blogger:
Richard J. Clark has served since 1989 as Music Director and Organist at Saint Cecilia Church in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also Chapel Organist (Saint Mary’s Chapel) at Boston College. For the Archdiocese of Boston, he directed the Office of Divine Worship Saint Cecilia Schola. His compositions have been performed on four continents.
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"In the Orthodox Churches they have kept that pristine liturgy, so beautiful. We have lost a bit the sense of adoration. They keep, they praise God, they adore God, they sing, time doesn’t count. God is the center, and this is a richness …"
— Pope Francis (8/2/2013)

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Hope and Prayer in this Valley of Tears
published 19 April 2013 by Richard J. Clark

ORGIVE ME for continuing upon this topic. The parish where I work is within a few hundred yards of the fatal bombings at the Boston Marathon. Now we awake this morning to a massive manhunt for one of the bombing suspects. All of Boston is shut down, and authorities have ordered people to stay home. Today our hearts bleed for the MIT Police officer killed in the line of duty. We pray events today are resolved peacefully.

The realities of a grieving city on lockdown have touched everyone. St. Cecilia Church is within the “crime scene” radius, so we have had to pass through Military Police security to even get to the church. (Pictured here is St. Cecilia Church on lockdown—next to the Berklee College of Music—at the corner of Massachusetts Ave. and Belvidere Street. In the background is the Prudential Tower on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.)

Police and military presence is everywhere. People on the streets are grateful for the job the police and National Guard are doing. Today, everyone is a little more patient with each other and far more aware of the preciousness of life.

As I mentioned here this past Monday, the presence of God has been beautifully evident in the extraordinary kindnesses and selfless concern that countless people have shown. When the first explosion went off, so many people ran TOWARDS the explosion to help. The second explosion came twelve seconds later. Again, more people ran TOWARDS the explosions to help the grievously wounded, with no regard for their own safety.

People opened their homes to strangers to house them and comfort them. Faith in humanity is restored, with no question to the selfless charity and love strangers showed each other. The Gospel lives in Boston.

But reality sinks in. Among the anguishing pain in the news are those that perished. The eight-year-old boy who died was a student at Pope John Paul II Academy in Dorchester, a place I recently visited to learn about its extraordinary music program for children. His sister sings in the same music program as my daughter. She and her mother were gravely injured as they waited for their father to cross the finish line. Many people of Boston love and respect this remarkable family whose lives are forever changed with the cruel burden of loss and suffering. Yet, there are so many more whose lives are irrevocably changed.

For all those whose lives are changed forever, our prayer is essential. For all those who grieve along with them, prayer is essential. We need to cry out to the Lord from the depths of our being. The Lord hears our anguish. Only from the depths can we find faith to rely upon God fully and completely for our existence—faith that He hears our call—faith that He will lift us up again.

And so, all the churches of Boston are open for prayer—including our Cathedral of the Holy Cross—for healing and for hope in this valley of tears.

So why is the sacred liturgy essential at the time, more than ever? The liturgy is not, what Pope Benedict XVI describes as “…not just a liturgical ‘game.’ It is meant to be indeed a logike latreia, the ‘logicizing’ of my existence, my interior contemporaneity with the Pasch of Christ and assimilated to God.” (Spirit of the Liturgy)

Pope Benedict XVI also describes how liturgy takes hold of our lives, and makes us “contemporary” with the Pasch of Christ.:

“In the first stage the eternal is embodied in what is once-for-all. The second stage is the entry of the eternal into our present moment in the liturgical action. And the third stage is the desire of the eternal to take hold of the worshipper’s life and ultimately of all historical reality. The immediate event—the liturgy—makes sense and has a meaning for our lives only because it contains the other two dimensions.” (ibid.)

Then, in a most profound reality, Pope Benedict writes: “Mankind’s movement towards Christ meets Christ’s movement toward men.” (ibid.)

So, in Boston, we send up our sighs, our mourning, and our weeping in this valley of tears. We find hope in the encounter of the Gospel being lived out. Great suffering compels us to move towards Christ, and Christ in turn embraces us lovingly in his comforting embrace.

On a side note, I am proud of my choir that came to sing on short notice for a mass of Healing and Hope at St. Cecilia. I am profoundly proud of my choir that arrived early to pray the rosary before rehearsal before mass.

Please pray for those in need of great comfort, courage, and healing.

John 14:18 “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.