HE ANNUAL FSSP Sacred Music Symposium has gained a reputation as the sacred music conference par excellence when it comes to Catholic musicians “in the trenches.” In the following Zoom call, several faculty members discuss highlights from this year’s conference. The following faculty members were present: Charles Weaver, William Fritz, Richard Clark, Jeff Ostrowski, Charlotte Lansberg, and Alfred Calabrese.
The Prayer • Before the meeting—and before the recording began—a powerful reflection by John Henry Newman was read. Everything Catholic musicians do should be placed “within the context of eternity.” Every effort, struggle, and joy should be offered to Jesus Christ. Here is the reflection by Saint Newman:
Consider, then, what it is to die; “there is no work, device, knowledge, or wisdom, in the grave.” Death puts an end absolutely and irrevocably to all our plans and works, and it is inevitable. The Psalmist speaks to “high and low, rich and poor, one with another.” “No man can deliver his brother, nor make agreement unto God for him.” Even “wise men die, as well as the ignorant and foolish, and leave their riches for others.” Difficult as we may find it to bring it home to ourselves, to realize it, yet as surely as we are here assembled together, so surely will every one of us, sooner or later, one by one, be stretched on the bed of death. We naturally shrink from the thought of death, and of its attendant circumstances; but all that is hateful and fearful about it will be fulfilled in our case, one by one. But all this is nothing compared with the consequences implied in it. Death stops us; it stops our race. Men are engaged about their work, or about their pleasure; they are in the city, or the field; any how they are stopped; their deeds are suddenly gathered in—a reckoning is made—all is sealed up till the great day. What a change is this! In the words used familiarly in speaking of the dead, they are no more. They were full of schemes and projects; whether in a great or humbler rank, they had their hopes and fears, their prospects, their pursuits, their rivalries; all these are now come to an end.
One builds a house, and its roof is not finished; another buys merchandise, and it is not yet sold. And all their virtues and pleasing qualities which endeared them to their friends are, as far as this world is concerned, vanished. Where are they who were so active, so sanguine, so generous? the amiable, the modest and the kind? We were told that they were dead; they suddenly disappeared; that is all we know about it. They were silently taken from us; they are not met in the seat of the elders, nor in the assemblies of the people; in the mixed concourse of men, nor in the domestic retirement which they prized. As Scripture describes it, “the wind has passed over them, and they are gone, and their place shall know them no more.” And they have burst the many ties which held them; they were parents, brothers, sisters, children, and friends; but the bond of the kindred is broken, and the silver cord of love is loosed. They have been followed by the vehement grief of tears, and the long sorrow of aching hearts; but they make no return, they answer not; they do not even satisfy our wish to know that they sorrow for us as we for them.
We talk about them thenceforth as if they were persons we do not know; we talk about them as third persons; whereas they used to be always with us, and every other thought which was within us was shared by them. Or perhaps, if our grief is too deep, we do not mention their names at all.
The entire thing can be read here.