About this blogger:
Dr. Alfred Calabrese is a conductor, educator, composer, scholar, and church musician. Having worked in academia for two decades, he felt called to enter full-time work in the Catholic Church, and since 2007 has directed the music at Saint Rita Catholic Church. He and his wife live in Dallas, TX. They have two grown children.
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“If a pope were only ever applauded, he would have to ask himself whether or not he was doing things right.”
— Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (2016)

Saving the Church, One Choir at a Time
published 29 August 2018 by Dr. Alfred Calabrese

87756 alfred calabrese IS THE SEASON for choirs that have been on summer hiatus to begin work anew. This year, for the first time ever, I decided to begin our season’s work after Labor Day, never realizing last June when I made that decision how welcome these extra few weeks would be. Welcome, because it’s been hard to digest all the awfulness that’s been going on in our Catholic world, hard to know how to answer the inevitable questions that will come from choir members, those eager to know how “I feel” about this or that. I’ll tell them, of course, that I feel mostly likely just as they do—scandalized, angry, discouraged, fed-up, (did I say angry?). Many will have shed tears. Where’s the good news in all of this?

If you have, like I do, an enlightened and thoughtful pastor, then you’ll have some hope. Mine has talked to us about the strength of the parish, the sanctity of the small community. I believe it. It’s the parish, each exercising its own little “Benedict Option” that will save the Church. And it can start with our choirs. Do not be fooled into thinking there is nothing we can do, lowly church musicians that we may be. We have the power because we’re on the ground, in the parishes. We have credibility. Now is not the time to sit idly by and wring our hands. Now is the time for action. Here are three things you can do with your choir to save the Church.

Sing music of the true faith, both ancient and newly composed.

We have at our disposal a treasure trove of truth and beauty, of tradition and sanctification. The beauty which formed the great saints of old is still ours today. Pope Paul VI said, “The smoke of Satan has entered the Church of God.” And yet, each week we give form to true words and truer faith, to music composed for the ancient and beautiful worship of God. With our collective choral inspirations and exhalations, we can cut through that fetid smoke and drive it away.

Pray with your choir.

Begin and end each rehearsal with prayer. Pray upon entering the church and before Mass. Pray for help, for strength, and for courage. Pray for the Church. Find and use the prayers of old before they are lost, those that remind us of the heroic saints, the noble women and men of brave convictions, before we forget that such a being ever existed.

Teach the children.

Let the little ones come unto you. Teach the youngest among you about the faith. If you have not already done so, form a children’s choir. They will learn so much from you. They are our hope and our future.

On the ground in our parishes and in our choirs is where the truth lies. Let us not retreat. In our choirs we teach, pray, guard and defend, build relationships and create the light. We can save the Church, one choir at a time.