Monday, August 31, 2009


Last night Fr. Pf and I went to the Blossom Music Festival to hear the Cleveland Orchestra play Bolero otherwise known as the fifteen minute snare drum solo and crescendo – known to most people over 40 as the piece used in the movie "Ten." It was cold and threatening rain so we were able to get seats pretty close to the orchestra. “Wow,” Father said closely mimicking the C. S. Lewis book, “They have faces. I usually only see them as white jackets from a great distance.”

We were close enough that we could hear page turns and people taking breathes – even the soloists who were playing string instruments. It was if they were part of the instrument and they needed to breathe for it. It was neat to see so closely some of the world’s greatest musicians playing some of my favorite pieces. Our seats were eye level with their shoes and I was thinking that being the world’s best they could at least do with better socks.

They also performed selections from Carmen. Even if you are unfamiliar with opera in general you know at least some of this piece – especially the Song of the Toreador. According to the program notes when George Bizet premiered this piece it was an absolute flop. But that was due more to the audience not receiving what they expected than it not being a good piece. To put it mildly they went expecting Bugs Bunny but they got Henry V – a far better piece for which they were wholly unprepared. Three months later Bizet died thinking Carmen one of the worst operatic disasters in history instead of what it is: one of the most widely known and loved pieces of opera ever.

He was not alone. This happened quite a bit throughout history. Swan Lake was an unmitigated disaster when it was first produced. Not till after the death of the composer did it become the icon of ballet that it is today. And so it goes with art, books, and ideas, discoveries, and efforts of all kinds.

I think about parents teaching the faith to their children. Teach and desire it as they might some kids wander astray. That does not mean that what you give them will not bear fruit. I think of my Dad. He wanted nothing of Church or God his whole life. How that must break a mother’s heart. In fact, it was not until he was not far from his death bed that he took to prayer and sacraments. But that might not have been the case had his parents not laid some sort of groundwork. Would I have had the environment to become a priest had he not been baptized and confirmed as a youngster – marrying a Catholic woman and being married in the Church? Two generations later those efforts resulted in a vocation. Whoda thunk it?

Do not despair your efforts at bringing God into the world. Martyrs never experience their influence on the world in this life. Keep true to the calling, stay true to the course, your single life may influence more people than you can imagine in your lifetime.


Anonymous said...

Amen :-)

Warren said...

I like to remind people that our view of God must be a very horrid one, if we think he has not thought of everything we've thought of. If his plan, his purpose, and his ability to spread his grace and his love through the world is somehow perceived as limited, stilted, or not powerful enough to make a big difference, even when we think all hope is lost, that we have far too small, far too insulting a view of God.

Thus, when we see a life lived adrift, and far from God, and we are tempted to despair, we should remember that things are perhaps not exactly as we see them.

On U2's latest album, there's a line in one of the songs; "Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady".

If we imagine all our efforts are getting any of God's work done, despite his limited capacity for action and his phenomenal distance from our everyday world; we have it so exactly backwards, don't we?