About this blogger:
Dr. Lucas Tappan is a conductor and organist whose specialty is working with children. He lives in Kansas with his wife and two sons.
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"Nothing should be allowed that is unworthy of divine worship, nothing that is obviously profane or unfit to express the inner, sacred power of prayer. Nothing odd or unusual is allowable, since such things, far from fostering devotion in the praying community, rather shock and upset it and impede the proper and rightful cultivation of a devotion faithful to tradition."
— Pope Paul VI • 10/13/1966

The Devil Gets in the Details
published 26 April 2016 by Lucas Tappan

LMT Disaster Sign AST SUNDAY, the Most Pure Heart of Mary Schola Cantorum presented its annual Spring Concert, consisting of Pergolesi’s Stabat mater and Schubert’s Mass No. 2 in G Major. It was a wonderful concert—I knew beforehand it would be because the morning couldn’t have been a greater comedy of errors.

My plan was to wake up early and make my meditation before going to the local coffee shop in order to mentally prepare for the day and spend some time with the concert music. I made sure that the only Mass I had to provide music for that morning was the usual choir Mass at 11:30 a.m., and I didn’t have to meet the choristers until 10:00 a.m. It couldn’t have been better planned. Now enter the devil.

All night long our children made sure my wife and I were on a continual adventure, which included my having to drive giant, boy eating spiders out of my oldest son’s bed as he screamed, “Daddy, don’t let them get me!” After hitting random spots on the bed and assuring him he was safe I went back to bed, but it wasn’t long before the next child woke up. I spent several hours lying uncomfortably in a twin bed with him wondering how I was ever going to get up on time. Shortly after 7:00 a.m., long after my wake up call, I dragged my body out of bed and thanked God that everyone was still asleep and that I would be able to get out of the house before the daily commotion began. Right then I heard, “Good morning Daddy!” There was our youngest son standing with a big grin on his face ready to start the day. I knew if I didn’t leave right then my morning would be shot, yet I knew that on judgment day I would wish that I had spent this time with him. So I put him in the stroller and we went for a 30 minute constitutional. It was in the upper 60s and the light played through the giant trees of our older neighborhood as we passed numerous people out on their porches drinking a cup of coffee. I tried my best to enjoy it, knowing full well that my plans were shot. I finally got out of the house, but not before everyone was awake and I had given out hugs and kisses and well wishes for the day. It was now almost 9 a.m.

I should have skipped the coffee and gone straight to church and spent some quiet time with God, but instead I rationalized that I really needed that  cup of coffee, and anyway, I would still have time to get everything done, right? Not so. When I got to church I made a short list of things I needed to do, but realized it wasn’t as short as I had thought, so I had to skip the time in the chapel and just dive in. I was so flustered I kept forgetting things and had to make several trips between buildings retrieving items. When I got back to the practice room at 10:00 I didn’t find a single chorister. Where were they? Well, there was a mix up and they didn’t realized I had already unlocked the door to the building, so they were all standing outside. As I traipsed into the building I was hit by the furnace blowing full heat everywhere, even thought it was going to be in the 80s that day (and already was inside the building).

We dove into rehearsal and things were somewhat back to normal when I grabbed for my coffee, actually a large “Death by Chocolate” cafe mocha, sitting on the piano (I know, I know, I shouldn’t have put the coffee on the piano). As I took the cup and lifted it to my mouth, the lid popped of and in my surprise I squeezed the cup and my “Death by Chocolate” attacked—everything and everywhere. It was all over my good suit, my white shirt, one of my favorite ties—the piano, piles of music, the conductor’s stand and the floor. We tried to clean it up, but all we could find were those typical brown paper towels found in public restrooms, which barely work at drying hands, much less mopping up 20 oz. of coffee (and why does 20 oz. of liquid on the floor seem more like 2 gallons?). At this point I could only laugh and thank God that I hadn’t been wearing my suit jacket, which strategically worn would cover large blotches of coffee during the concert that afternoon (you guessed it, no time to go home and change between Mass and call time).

In a similar vein, as our choir prepared for our Rome pilgrimage last fall, I struggled for a month as everything in my life seemed to go wrong and I made myself physically sick with worry. Shortly before we left I went to spiritual direction and discussed this with my director, who after some discernment told me it really sounded like the devil was attacking something he didn’t want to happen. After that moment, the attack seemed to stop and the choir had a wonderful time in Rome. The same thing happened Sunday—God was giving me a chance to simply trust Him, so I did the best I could. Happily enough, the day ended on a wonderful note and everyone was pleased with a job well done. I am sure that each of you have similar experiences all the time. Just remember to laugh, thank the Good Lord and keep your coffee off of the piano!