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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward a doctorate in liturgical theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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“Although the Mass contains much instruction for the faithful, it has nevertheless not seemed expedient to the fathers that it be celebrated everywhere in the vernacular. The holy synod commands pastors and everyone who has the care of souls to explain frequently during the celebration of the Masses, either themselves or through others, some of the things that are read in the Mass, and among other things to expound some mystery of this most Holy Sacrifice, especially on Sundays and feastdays.”
— Council of Trent, XII:8 (1562)

Corpus Christi
published 2 June 2013 by Fr. David Friel

OST PEOPLE WHO FREQUENT THE WATERSHED are somehow invested in the work of sacred music. Very often, that work can become all-consuming. Instead of refreshing us like art should, the tasks associated with liturgical musicianship can drain us by becoming our sole focus. Especially for those who work full-time in churches, the role of the sacred musician can easily slip into less a role of service and more of a frantic effort to subsist. We may be responsible for Mass upon Mass and choir upon choir. Sometimes we recognize it as it’s happening to us, yet, even though we realize it is unhealthy, it happens to us anyway. We find ourselves powerless to change the situation.

As the Church celebrates this week the great solemnity of Corpus Christi, the remedy for this age-old affliction is set before us. In difficult times, as in peaceful times, we should turn to the Most Blessed Sacrament. The God we serve, after all, is not music; rather, we use music to serve our God. Consider this reflection from Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

“Hence the Mass is to us the crowning act of Christian worship. A pulpit in which the words of Our Lord are repeated does not unite us to Him; a choir in which sweet sentiments are sung brings us no closer to His Cross than His garments. A temple without an altar of sacrifice is non-existent among primitive peoples, and is meaningless among Christians. And so in the Catholic Church the altar—and not the pulpit or the choir or the organ—is the center of worship, for there is re-enacted the memorial of His Passion” (Calvary and the Mass).

This should be our remedy when we sit frazzled on the bench or stand beleaguered in the loft. Let’s leave the loft and spend some time in the pew. Even a short time spent before the Body of Christ can feed us with living waters that will sustain us.

We are called to worship at the altar, not at the organ. In doing the work of the Lord, we must never neglect the Lord of the work.