Bear-i-tone's deep question at The Spirit's Sword reminded me of a brief moment at Mass this weekend. Bear is troubled over the quality of music they are required to sing.
The music doesn't fit the bill. We've lost members over this. We are having trouble recruiting in a large part because of this. Few people like this and the rest are left out in the cold. A very large portion of this music is theologically inadequate. It is inadequate in almost every sense. So I come back to my troublesome question: Should I ask, "Why in God's Name are we singing this garbage?" or "Why are we singing this garbage in God's Name?"
I would say the question should be the latter. He quotes Fr. Longnecker's excellent treatise on What's a Hymn For?
However, if the Mass is meant to take us to the threshold of heaven; if it is meant to be a glimpse of glory and a participation in the worship of the spheres of heaven itself, why then the sentimental, sweet and comforting songs just won't do. They wont' do not because they are bad or untrue, but because they are not good and true enough. Worship that takes us to the threshold of glory needs to be, well...glorious.
Mass is about worshiping God. Our Creator and the very one whom without His active presence we would cease to exist. Mass isn't about how great we art, but about "How Great Thou Art". Which leads me to my brief moment of profound worship. We were asked to stand in as proxy sponsors for a baptism. Hence we were up in the second row, we made it to Mass on time (well about 1 minute late, but they waited for us.) and the kids were in good behavior mode for the most part (more on that later).
The readings fit together wonderfully (as the Church has planned out over a 3 year cycle of Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament and Gospel readings). The homily was well done. But what set this Mass apart was one song. The Offertory was "How Great Thou Art". All four verses and by verse 3, it started to hit me.
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
That floored me. It was one of those moments that sustains me for a long time. I don't get many of the "profound moments" that really affect my heart. I do much out of duty and because I know it is right in my heart. But it is rare that emotions get through. I long for that, but not unlike Mother Theresa's dark night of the soul, I have a 40 days and nights in the desert. Of course I am far from her holiness and complete submission and am by no means a mystic. But lets just say, I can understand what she meant by not "feeling" the presence.
So then, the 4th verse followed.
When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!
I was at the threshold of glory. I wished I could have stayed there. But a fight over a book by the youngest two right before the consecration demanded my attention come back to earth.
But one of those moments had happened. And I cling to them knowing "How Great Thou Art"!