HINGS HAVE BEEN pretty crazy in the Motyka household for the last couple of weeks, what with my wife delivering our first born son, Thomas, as seen looking surly to the right. Because of that, it’s been a couple of weeks since I last contributed anything. I wrote this piece last week, but never got around to posting it. Here goes:
While speaking with my friend Mike on the phone yesterday, I was reminded of something I’m constantly harping about: the average Catholic in the pew just isn’t aware of the Church’s norms on liturgy in general and music in particular.
Mike is a professional musician, and he was telling me that despite being baptized Catholic, attending Catholic schools, and attending Mass regularly, he never knew about the Church’s musical heritage until the last few years. Now, he takes pride in the Requiem Mass, thinking “that’s our music” whenever his chorus sings a Requiem Mass. Even after many years of singing in choirs and performing sacred music, he never understood its proper place in the liturgy until fairly recently. I can sympathize with this view. Until I experienced sacred music in its proper context, it didn’t quite “click.”
One thing my parish is trying this year is the inauguration of an Archdiocesan Honors Choir, a select choir of high school students from the archdiocese to participate in major liturgies during the year. Their first experience in this choir will be on Holy Thursday, a perfect opportunity to expose the singers to the Church’s musical heritage. Holy Thursday is a perfect opportunity since it is glutted with ritual music. I hope to impart exactly what Mike described: show the students the inherent connection between music and the liturgical act. Forming connections with the local high schools to find quality singers is one way to put this kind of special group together, and we intend to make a big deal out of it; the singers will even receive invitations from the Archbishop.
One way the liturgical life of the Church will improve is through education. The constant cries for “catechesis” are easily tuned out, however, since opportunities and open minds are hard to come by. The Church’s youth are a good place to start. They have no idea what heritage they’re even missing, and it gives them an opportunity to be counter-cultural. Youth choirs are a great chance to feed that desire and develop the future of Catholic music.