Monday, June 22, 2015

At a wedding a priest sings a secular song with adapted lyrics

A good friend recently sent me a YouTube link showing a priest singing adapted lyrics to the tune of "Hallelujah"... written I believe originally by Leonard Cohen. I too have enjoyed listening to this tune until I could discern the lyrics, which with all due respect to Mr. Cohen I did not find necessarily inspirational....

As much as I find the music hauntingly beautiful, still, I regret to say that this performance by a priest from the Altar makes my skin crawl.... I understand that our culture has gone over the top in blissfully identifying with what we could all "performance mode"... in our fast changing pleasure driven culture even at the high points and meaningful moments of life everyone wants to perform.

However, a priest in chasuble in the sanctuary behind an altar stands not in his own name nor according to his own sentiments, however noble they may be and however much he may want to demonstrate caring for the engaged couple about to be or just previously joined in holy Matrimony, but that priests stands there first and foremost in the Person of Jesus Christ.

This is not a performance but a real time event that has its counterpart in eternity before the throne of God the Father... or however we can understand the eternal and glorious Presence of the Holy Trinity surrounded by myriads of angels and saints.... You've doubtless heard the expression "a Marriage made in Heaven"? Well that's what the Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is - a couple joined simultaneously on Earth and in Heaven before God.

The chasuble is the garment in which the priest most solemnly represents Jesus at the Last Supper, with the Risen Lord bringing us now present to that moment and experience of his self offering at the Last Supper and and simultaneously to the moment of his self offering on the Cross on Calvary. Because Jesus is risen from the dead He is not a past historical figure but the Living One present at this very moment both on Earth and in Heaven and everywhere simultaneously in the universe and beyond it....

Jesus is both fully human, a man, and the Son of God; so that his offering of Himself at the Last Supper and on the Cross is a perfect offering of divine love, and as such, it is a self offering that is ongoing, not yet finished, until the very last human being will have lived and died and the last day has arrived and the Lord will come in final triumph of divine love over evil.

Even if the Marriage Rite were celebrated without Eucharist and so not in a chasuble for the priest but in alb and stole or alb and cope, this would still not be an appropriate time for a priest to perform. It is dignified, meaningful, and appropriate for other people to play music and sing to accompany in a meaningful way parts of the Liturgy, again with the entire focus of both lyrics and music on the Lord Jesus, the Word being spoken by God, and the High Priest who joins the engaged couple in the Sacrament of Marriage. A church sanctuary built around an Altar, which represents Christ the Rock upon whom we are lifted up to offer our lives also with Him to the Father; it may resemble a stage but it is never a stage for performance only.

If my comments offend anyone's sensibilities, I am sorry for that, but the truth must be told. Even if the entire world decided to do whatever "feels right" with the sacred Mysteries of our faith, I hope and pray the Lord will give me the strength to defend these Mysteries in accord with God's will as expressly manifested in our tradition and the Church's teachings, to my dying breath.

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