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Renowned as composer, conductor, theorist, author, pedagogue, and organist, Aurelio Porfiri has served the Church on multiple continents at the highest levels. Born and raised in Italy, he currently serves as Director of Choral Activities and Composer in Residence for Santa Rosa de Lima School (Macao, China).
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“Urban VIII appointed four Jesuits to reform the hymns, so that they should no longer offend Renaissance ears. These four, in that faithful obedience to the Holy See which is the glory of their Society, with a patient care that one cannot help admiring, set to work to destroy every hymn in the office.”
— Fr. Adrian Fortescue (1916)

Facebook, Scammers, and the Economy of Words
published 28 July 2014 by Aurelio Porfiri

218 Francis VERY TWO OR THREE DAYS I receive a Facebook message from different (good looking) girls using these lines: “Do you want to know more about me? Please write me at my personal e-mail.” I would like to take this occasion to answer all of them, even if I am a little doubtful that they are reading these articles.

No, dear girls, I do not want to know more about you, but maybe it would be good for you to know something more about me. If you know more about me you will realize that a person like me does not believe you can know someone using words, words and more words (and in your case, I suppose… scams), rather, you should enter into contact with another through deep emotional communication. I want to call this testimony.

Now, I digress to arrive to another point: today we have an inflation of words everywhere. Some people think they can convince us only with the sound of their voices. Of course this is true up to a point: rhetoric is serious matter and works well in our daily life. But when we come to Mass we should allow rhetoric to give space to spiritual involvement. So, indeed, the verbal excesses should be considered against the very purpose of the Mass: giving space to the Presence, that is shown to us through an apparent absence (at least in a physical sense).

I do not want to touch too much on the issue of the homily, but I should say something about that: some priests think that the Mass is the background that gives space to their rhetorical skills. Hey, wait! Rhetoric can be useful for the time of the homily (no more than 7 minutes would be perfect) but if the Mass becomes the excuse to contain the speech of the priest it means we are missing a point. Indeed we need testimonies, priests that show with their example, more than with their words, what it is to be a follower of Christ. Saint Francis is often credited for saying: preach with every means, if necessary with words. What is meant by this is that we should preach with our life more than with thousands of words.

There is also the danger of priests that adopt the homily with extensions. Those priests, besides the half hour of the homily in the canonical place, benefit us also with introductions to every other part of the Mass. But shouldn’t the Mass shine for noble simplicity according to Vatican II? And if you explain every part of it every Sunday it means that it is not so simple (and for sure not so noble either). There is a joke about the homily that would not be out of place here after the way I started this article, it says that the homily should be like a miniskirt: short, adhering to reality and giving a glimpse to the mystery. So girls, even pretending you are not scammers, you will never conquer my heart even with a very long e-mail. And to our dear priests, please stop submerging us in the ocean of your words, and make space for the only Word that is really worth listening to.

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