Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Last night, on my day away from the parish, thanks to the generosity of some people from one of my previous assignments, I was able to attend an open rehearsal of the Cleveland Orchestra and chorus under the direction of Franz Welser-Most performing Mozart’s Mass in C minor. What an absolute treat that was. But the best part is the after rehearsal notes as the musicians go back over the piece to shore up certain sections.
One of the more interesting sections was the Miserere (have mercy). “Be brave!” he commanded the singers. “Sing! Think forte, but sing softly!” And it struck me that this advice is good for the average Catholic too (a faith shared with the maestro.) We are not called to wear sackcloth and ashes, beating our chests and flaunting our guilt for show. If you wronged your spouse, you would not go through the neighborhood heaping hot coals on your head and shouting what a louse you were. (Well, maybe somebody might.) Rather, if you want to salvage love, you go to the person and with forte in your heart, you softly and bravely mend the relationship with that person.
It is no different with God. This too is a relationship with a Person. Sin is a rejection of the right ordering of that relationship. If the relationship is still intact, the sign that the Holy Spirit is still working within you is that you feel strongly (forte!) that you want to mend it. It is an act of bravery to say that you are sorry. And so you speak softly; a nightly act of contrition, the Confiteor at the beginning of Mass, and from time to time the whispered prayers that are said in the confessional.
It makes the singing of the Miserere more beautiful to listen to and the heart more beautiful for God to enter. And in both cases we begin to see the beauty of God more clearly.


Adoro said...

Fr. V. ~ You just gave an introductory lesson to mystical theology. Humble fortitude, self-knowledge, love of God through recognition of our own sin...leading us to be open to God (ie know God), etc.

Nicely done!

(I'm attuned to this now due to my paper on St. Catherine's Dialogues, working on the "critical" review portion.)

uncle jim said...

and on top of that, next time i hear that mass played, i'll hear it differently

Anonymous said...

What Fr. V. has also just done is to remind (at least) me where I live and die, that the human heart may at any time sing sweetly to Him, no matter how rough one's voice/soul otherwise, and no matter how black one's outward day. He awaits the singing of love most especially, as twice noted here, from sinners.

Something has been redeemed, here, and I am a happier sinner today.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father, what if you go to the person you wronged, and the person simply refuses to forgive you? Not only that, but she conducts a public campaign of "putting you in your place", of shaming you, and in the end pretty much hounding you out of an organization that you devoted years of time and expertise to? What do you do then? I'm thankful that God is infinitely more forgiving. I've apologized to this woman (more than once), and I've given my best efforts to bridge the divide, but she will never forgive me. I'm filled with remorse that I've hurt her, and it's almost broken my heart. I pray fervently for a good outcome from this, but it doesn't seem to be happening. Please pray for me, and for her. Thank you.