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Andrew Motyka is the Archdiocesan Director of Liturgical Music and Cathedral Music for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
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Legitimate and necessary concern for current realities in the concrete lives of people cannot make us forget the true nature of the liturgical actions. It is clear that the Mass is not the time to “celebrate” human dignity or purely terrestrial claims or hopes. It is rather the sacrifice which renders Christ really present in the sacrament.
— Pope Saint John Paul II (20 March 1990)

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Would You Like Some Cheese with that Whine?
published 11 December 2013 by Andrew R. Motyka

TRY NOT TO CRITICISE most behaviors unless I can sympathize with them to help give advice. Luckily, I am full to the brim with personal flaws and have a wealth of experience from which to draw.

Well, it’s the second week of Advent, and every music director out there is up to their eyeballs in preparatory work for Christmas. It’s this time of year that I find myself instinctively complaining to almost anyone who will listen about how much work I have left before the big day. This is the time of year when I go against my own advice and work from home and on my “days off.” This is the time of year when…wait…I’m doing it again, aren’t I?

I read an interesting thought a couple of weeks ago, and have been pondering it since: that complaining can be sinful. It is a small sin, most likely, but it is a form of pride. It is the assumption that I, who have life, redemption, and existence itself through no merit of my own, somehow deserve to have it better than I do. With all of the things God has given me, all that I recognize and take for granted, I have no right to whine when things go wrong in my life.

This is much harder to stop that I imagined. I am a Massachusetts native at heart (a friend of mine semi-affectionately calls them “Chutesys”), and complaining about my lot is second nature. I’ve been trying to do better at living in gratitude, but that’s not even the point I am trying to make. What I have been pondering is that I deserve nothing. Short of the grace of God, I am Nothing (I’m not trying to belittle myself; I mean I literally don’t exist without His grace). If my very existence is total gift, what have I to complain about?

What I’m trying to say is: yes, I would love some cheese, but this Advent and going forward I’m trying to cut back on the whine.