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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 an STL in sacred liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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"The Consilium is merely an assembly of people, many of them incompetent, and others well advanced on the road to novelty. The discussions are extremely hurried. Discussions are based on impressions and the voting is chaotic. […] Many of those who have influenced the reform […] have no love, and no veneration of that which has been handed down to us. They begin by despising everything that is actually there. This negative mentality is unjust and pernicious, and unfortunately, Paul VI tends a little to this side. They have all the best intentions, but with this mentality they have only been able to demolish and not to restore."
— Contemporary account of the Consilium by Cardinal Antonelli

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.