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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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“One would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive table form; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer's body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See.”
— Ven. Pope Pius XII (20 November 1947)

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Missionaries
published 29 July 2014 by Aurelio Porfiri

0319_jaricot-LG WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS people that aren’t as popular today as they were decades ago: I am talking about missionaries. Yes, these men and women leave their countries to go in foreign lands and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. Today they are out of fashion, because most of the countries where they were sent to many years ago are now more prosperous than their countries of provenience; and when people become prosperous religion becomes an accessory.

As you know I live in Macau, China. I am always amazed at the work of these men and women that here, in the same city where I walk every day, bring not only the Word of Jesus, but also the fruits of western civilization (developed also thanks to Christianity). I think about Matteo Ricci, ready to go to China and share with the Chinese, among other things, western music; I also think about Alessandro Valignano, that created the first University in Asia, the college of Saint Paul; I think about Robert Morrison, a protestant missionary, working on his translation of the Bible in Chinese; I think about Gabriele Allegra, now Blessed, taking care of the lepers in the colony of Ka Ho….and I see countless others that together with the Gospel also announce the splendor of our art, culture, and civilization.

Some people, usually politically correct cynic people, will start to shout about the imposition of a foreign culture to a local population. But these were gifts, and if you receive a beautiful gift, even coming from the other part of the world, you do not think to refuse it. For example: over the years I have met with many students from the pre-seminary school here, all of them pure Chinese and all of them with the memories of their far ago years of studies. When they talk about those years, knowing I am a musician, they will sing some chant or motet they remember, all in Latin. Does any one of them show any regret for that? No. Indeed, they can appreciate the beauty and spirituality of this music.

But other people prefer to substitute the treasures of our tradition with the so called contemporary style. And so comes my question: isn’t that coming from outside? Asians invented pop music? Or Italians? Or is this a phenomenon developed in Anglo-Saxon countries? I have come to dislike politically correct people. They are the ones that, as Oscar Wilde put it, know the prices of everything but the value of nothing. Maybe today we need missionaries of a different kind, ready to announce the beauty of our faith and tradition with an understanding of the new needs of a changing world.


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