HURCH MUSICIANS: If you’re trying to make a difference, expect to be attacked in every way imaginable. They will go after your character. They will go after your family. They will publicly repeat falsehoods 1,000 times—there is no calumny they will not embrace. We must expect this treatment! Think about it for a moment…if everyone in the Catholic Church had good intentions, sincere love of God, and decent musical training, would we be in the situation we’re currently in? Again I say: those trying to serve Jesus Christ (especially in the liturgical sphere) will be attacked. Full stop. Frequently, the assaults will come from people claiming to be “the world’s greatest Catholics.” We must learn to expect and embrace this reality!
Artistic temperament: Musicians tend to be quite sensitive. Somebody on the street corner might say: “You’re a terrible composer.” That person might be tone-deaf and struggle to find Middle C. Indeed, that person might be addicted to crack cocaine. But it doesn’t matter. A musician will go to bed that night thinking: “I wonder if that guy was right about my composition skills…”
Real men: Almighty God did not command us to become millionaires. God commanded us to “be fruitful and multiply.” Of course there are exceptions, such as Catholic priests—who do not marry. But some men excuse themselves from getting married (apparently) because they are too busy trying to “win” at Facebook. Many studies have shown that excessive time on Facebook makes men unattractive to women. Facebook enhances personality traits antithetical to those a real man should cultivate. Calling yourself a man doesn’t make yourself one. I know one man (and he’s married!) who can’t stop talking about how manly he is. Yet, he spends most of his time on Facebook arguing with teenage women at my parish!
In praise of priests: On the other hand, some of the most “manly” men I know are Catholic priests (both OF and EF) who have absolutely no interest in activities such as Facebook. Years ago, it was considered insulting to tell somebody “he’s living in his own little world.” These days, people voluntarily create such worlds, where they are in control of everything and can ban anyone who has a different view.
Misery loves company: Be on your guard against people who are miserable; they will try to drag you to their level. Furthermore, watch out for “liturgical snowflakes”—people who would rather die than admit making an error. They need to realize that truly great scholars and artists are always eager to learn. Even Josef Hofmann (!) kept a little notebook with him, in which he would jot down things he learned. Liturgical snowflakes make our work so much more difficult!
Nothing in excess: Technology can certainly be useful, when its use is governed by right reason. But we cannot stress too much the dangers of isolation and excessive “screen time.” Indeed, when it comes to unrestrained negativity, passive-aggressive behavior, character assassination, and so forth—especially on social media—it is important to avoid participating or even glancing at it. Prevent it from entering into your soul. We must avoid it the same way we avoid temptations against the Sixth Commandment, pornography, and so on; that’s how toxic it is.
Solving The Problem :
When churlish, unhappy, evil people attack us, let us read from “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas à Kempis. Or let us call to mind the sufferings of the Jesuits of North America, such as this excerpt from the life of Saint Isaac Jogues:
The Iroquois continued to torture the victims, cutting, stabbing, burning till dusk fell. The prisoners then were placed in one of the houses, each of them stretched on his back—limbs extended—his wrists and ankles bound fast to stakes driven into the earthen floor. It was time now for the children to amuse themselves. They placed live coals on the naked bodies. Sometimes the prisoners were able to shake off the coals. Like little demons, the youngsters chortled with glee when the victims were unable to dislodge the coals.
On the three following days they were placed on the platform, where old and young, men and women, resumed their sport. The crowd surged up on the platform and beat and stabbed the prisoners. A sorcerer approached the priest and cried: “I hate this one most of all.” With that, he commenced to gnaw his fingers. Next, he ordered a Christian Algonquin woman, a prisoner of the Mohawks, to saw off Father Isaac’s left thumb with a jagged shell. She refused. The braves began to beat her and threatened to kill her. Trembling, she at last complied with reluctance.
When the thumb fell to the floor, Father Isaac picked it up and—as he later wrote—“I presented it to Thee, O my God, in remembrance of the sacrifices which for the last seven years I had offered on the altars of Thy Church and as an atonement for the want of love and reverence of which I have been guilty in touching Thy Sacred Body.”
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus Christ told us: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”