(Read Part 1 of Worship: Our Heavenly Occupation here.)
Weeks ago, while getting ready to sing for mass, a sister from community and I were chatting about the guidelines for liturgical music of the Archdiocese of Manila, particularly at this time of transition into the new English translation of the Mass. As we were discussing rules that would affect us music ministers most of all (just like that, more than half of our regular roster has been deemed unacceptable), someone in the group commented in frustration how such rules were overly rigorous, missing the point of heartfelt worship. Scrap the “ooh-ing” of this song, don’t let the tune go up higher on this word or that–as long as you’re singing from the heart, therefore in essence praying twice (to quote St. Augustine), what does it matter if you sing “sins” or “trespasses,” “test” or “temptation?”
Yesterday, I caught the finale of the first ever Asian version of the Next Top Model franchise (and just in case some are curious, no, I don’t faithfully watch the series…although I won’t deny that when I chance upon the show while channel surfing, I, er, linger). Tyra Banks flew in to be present for the final episode, and as part of her critique of one of the finalists, she lectured that she had to model H2T–from head to toe. Whether she was walking down the runway, or posing for the camera, every inch of her body had to know, feel, that she was modeling. The arch of each toe deliberate, every step and sway packed with meaning.
Since I’ve started using the Daily Roman Missal last year, I’ve come to appreciate even more how the celebration of the Eucharist is worshiping H2T–standing to take part in community prayer and professing our faith, kneeling down to show reverence for the Holy Presence that comes and gives Himself to us, bowing our heads as we acknowledge our sinfulness, striking our breasts as we own our sin (through my fault, my fault, my most grievous fault!). Every pregnant pause, hands raised and hands clasped, hands making the sign of the cross. Jesus desires that we worship in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24), and as our spirit resides in a body, so must the physical engage fully and completely in worship. Each gesture and “Amen” deliberate, every note of every song bursting with meaning. Head. To. Toe.
Liturgical guidelines such as those set for music are meant to involve every element of the mass in our offering. Our bodies, our songs, even our attention to details are brought to the altar, that as we pray for God to accept the gifts that we bring, we may know in our hearts that we bring nothing less than everything, nothing less than our best.
Not to justify getting lost in the details (where the devil is, after all). Sacrificing passion for protocol is the temptation we must guard ourselves against, the very same trap Christ warned the Pharisees about millennia ago. Is getting rid of or outright ignoring these rules the answer to avoid falling and failing in this regard? If something’s got to give, what must change: the rules, or our hearts?
Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. –Matthew 5:17
We involve our body in worship. And we do it together because we are One Body–coming before our God who deserves so much more than we can ever give, even the best we have to offer.
Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.
May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His name, for our good and the good of all His holy Church.
Accept our sacrifice, our efforts, our hearts, and in so doing, may we be ready to receive You–Body and Blood, in Spirit and in Truth. Amen.