FEW WEEKS AGO, I had a chance to meet the Archbishop of Atlanta at a deanery meeting for the Archdiocese Pastoral Plan. His Excellency Archbishop Gregory explained his pastoral plan and answered some questions from priests and staffs from different parishes. As a music director, my mind started thinking, of course, about the implementation of the Plan in the music area of the parish.
The Pastoral Plan was finally released to the public last week. There are four main points in the Plan:
(1) Knowing Our Faith;|
(2) Living Our Faith;|
(3) Spreading Our Faith;|
(4) Evolution of Our Parishes.
Here are the explanations of the four points and my thoughts about how to implement them to a parish music program.
Knowing Our Faith — This is the first and basic step to “be a Catholic”. We have to discover and understand our faith. We must know what we believe in! As I contemplated on this first point and tried to relate it to my parish music program, the word “Catechesis” came to my mind. As I mentioned before, liturgical catechesis is very important and it helps us to understand the Liturgy and to participate more deeply. Teaching people the importance of music in the Liturgy and the basic Church teachings on Sacred Music is the first step to build a successful program. It is the key to have a congregation that sings loud and proud. Liturgical catechesis should also be given as a formation to choir members. As church musicians, we need to make sure that we are prepared and understand the spirit of the Liturgy, so we can lead others to God through the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Living Our Faith — Once we know our faith, we need to live out our faith in our daily lives. We can express our faith by having a good prayer life, reaching out to the poor, living a virtuous life, fighting for the good moral values, etc. From the liturgical musician’s perspective, we live out our faith through our singing and our service to the Church. This is the more technical part of music. For example, we learnt that the Church asks that all liturgical music to be “true art”. So, we practice on our own and rehearse with other members in the choir so that we can sing or play beautifully. Latin is the Church’s language and most of us can’t speak or understand it fluently, so we learn the text with the help of translations and understand what we sing. To make quality music and to pray through it is how musicians can “live our faith”.
For our brothers and sisters in the pew, the implementation of the second point would be to learn the responses and the ordinaries of the Mass, to sing the hymns and praise God in the Liturgy, engage in prayer and meditation while the chants or polyphonies are sung. Participating in our liturgical roles actively is definitely a way to live out our faith.
Point 3 and 4 will be discussed in my next post