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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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“More and more as we grow older, we find that the people we see most of are recent acquaintances; not (perhaps) very congenial to us, but chance has thrown them in our way. Meanwhile, the people we used to know so well—for whom we once entertained such warm feelings—are now remembered by a card at Christmas (if we can succeed in finding the address). How good we are at making friends, when we are young; how bad at keeping them! How eagerly, as we grow older, do we treasure up the friendships that are left to us, like beasts that creep together for warmth!”
— Msgr. Ronald Knox (1888-1957)

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"Father, Not Everyone Can Sing"
published 26 May 2013 by Fr. David Friel

EOPLE SAY ALL KINDS OF THINGS to priests, especially after Mass. We get brought up to date on hospital stays & illnesses, graduations & upcoming travels. We hear confessions & complaints, compliments & concerns. We meet newcomers & visitors, and folks tell us about the broken kneeler in the eighth pew (Blessed Mother side). We hear if the homily was on target, and we hear if the homily was horrible. Several weeks ago, though, a woman said something I had never been told before. She said to me, “Father, not everyone can sing, you know.”

What she meant didn’t register with me at first. I probably gave her a quizzical look, which prompted her to explain further. When I celebrate Mass, she said, we sing so much stuff that the other priests don’t usually sing. Now I understood that she wanted me to stop singing the Collect, Preface, Prayer over the Offerings, Our Father, and Post-Communion, which I chant on every Sunday & solemnity.

I was tempted to say many things. For instance, running through my mind went these thoughts:

1. Yes, actually, everyone who can speak can sing.
2. The liturgy, by its very nature, is meant to be sung.
3. Our personal preferences (both mine & yours) must be subordinate to the preferences of Holy Mother Church.
4. Chanting the orations really doesn’t add any time to the Mass.
5. Singing “On Eagle’s Wings” is much more difficult than responding to the Preface dialogue, and yet I’ve never had anyone complain about the mammoth range & odd intervals of the OCP favorite.

By the time I had interpreted her remark, the lady was already passed me and headed towards the door. I only had about 10 seconds to respond. What would you have said?