Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What has a Cute Chipmunk got to do with the Divine Office?

Not much, unless you count the verse from the Canticle of Daniel (Morning Prayer of Sunday Weeks I and III) where it says, All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord.  But it will give you a hint of what  I've been doing  the past week: walking in the woods and fields taking pictures of the glories of springtime.   Hence, not a lot of blogging. But I will be decorating future posts with the results of these spring rambles.

Today's Office of Readings has a sermon by St. Augustine that is not about small animals, but rather on the theme of Sing a New Song to the Lord. St. Augustine must have been a great music enthusiast.  I look forward to hearing his voice in heaven. He is the originator of the phrase he who sings prays twice, a phrase that most Catholics, who do not like singing at mass, are tired of having thrown at them.

Me, I totally get Augustine. I love singing in Church, provoking one of two responses: children  turn around and stare at me, and nice old ladies come up to me after mass and say "you have a lovely voice." In either case, it's rather sad, because if even half of the congregation had been singing, no one would have especially noticed me. We would have all been blending together. I do understand that some of the contemporary hymns are either too difficult or too stupid to sing. But if only  people would sing the old ones, which are easy and doctrinal. Oh well.

Luckily, Augustine's sermon is about more than literal singing. So there is hope  for the rest of you. He says sing with your voices, your hearts, your lips and your lives. See? Our lives should the song. And not in the movie musical sense, thank heaven. Augustine continues, ...you ask me how to sing his praises...you wish to know what praises to sing. The answer is His praise is in the assembly of the saints; it is in the singers themselves...live good lives, and you yourselves will be his praise.

So fear not, all ye Catholics who can't sing. You don't  have to sing (literally) in order to sing (spiritually)  a new song to the Lord. Your daily holiness is a heavenly melody.

But couldn't you just once try belting out "Alleluia the Strife of O'er" or "Holy God We praise Thy Name"?  You might get to like it.