The fourth Sunday of Advent: Christmas is almost here. The children made Advent chains, as usual. Now is the time that the chain gets very, very short and the anticipation palpable. Unfortunately, I’m only getting the excitement from a distance, given the evacuation. My wife and I are having a different sort of countdown, to the time that we get to see each other in person. We’re hopeful the evacuation is lifted soon, but just don’t know.
This morning at mass, father gave an excellent homily. He started with the fact that Christmas is almost here (naturally), and zoomed in on the idea of preparation for this incredible, mysterious act of love by which the Eternal Word became flesh for us. Wow.
He basically worked backwards through the readings, and highlighted how today’s gospel recounts the humble fiat (and yes, he actually used the Latin) that made Mary into the new temple. You can see where this is going. He paused for a minute in the second reading, about the great mystery of the incarnation, then went on to explicate the first reading. He spent quite a bit of time explaining the historical context, then discussed the parallels between the physical temple and Mary, the new temple where God came to live. He also focused in on the fact that Jesus is of the line of David, so we also have Nathan’s prophesy of David’s son building the temple echoed in Jesus. Through it all, he underscored how we need to prepare ourselves, and be ready to welcome Jesus into the world. Wow.
We get excellent homilies from all of our priests. We’re incredibly lucky. The people are, by and large, reverent as well. The choir…is more about performing than supporting the liturgical action. It’s a shame, really, because it detracts so much from the sacrifice of the mass, and because they’re actually really good. They could easily handle sacred polyphony. Chant would be a piece of cake, too. Instead, they pick hymns and songs that aren’t always in line with the liturgical season, replace parts of the mass (today for the Mystery of Faith it was the refrain from “O Come All Ye Faithful” repeated twice), and generally make it more of a concert than playing a proper role in the liturgy. The problem is the parish priest seems to have little or no sway over the choir director. They did stop using some bizarre song for the Creed after I complained to the priest, but the other things are ongoing. Little steps, I guess. I am considering writing a letter to the choir director to challenge him to try out sacred polyphony or other more traditional settings. Then again, I’m an outsider. Still, chant with African drums could be…interesting.