The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our prayers to God should always be a balance between expressions of praise and gratitude on the one hand, and petition and surrender on the other hand. Being aware of blessings and expressing thanks to God for them motivates our petition as we seek to place our trust in him. Then we pay attention to the response and offer praise and thanks for that response, leading us back over and over in a relationship of trust and love. The Lord’s Prayer becomes that perfect expression of acknowledgment of God’s power and love for us in an act of praise, and our petition for God’s help, his power, and his forgiveness in our lives. Jesus teaches us these words of prayer as a model, and in doing so he teaches us something about the nature of God who desires our closeness. And we echo that same sentiment in today’s Psalm: “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me” (Ps. 138:3). The Lord not only has the power to help us but the desire to help us. May we have that same desire for his help as we place our trust in him.
I recently attended the annual convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (this year in Raleigh, NC), which I serve as a member of the Board of Directors (many of you will remember that I had served the Association as President for several years). It is always a joy to gather with church music directors, singers, instrumentalists, composers, and other liturgical leaders from around the country. The Association is going through a period of transition as we look to strengthen our focus on our mission of advocating and supporting quality sacred music for the liturgy. The Second Vatican Council’s 1967 instruction on Music in the Liturgy, Musicam Sacram, stated, “One cannot find anything more religious and more joyful in sacred celebrations than a whole congregation expressing its faith and devotion in song” (no. 16). Our Association’s mission is in support of that aspiration. It was a particular blessing to experience its expression at the convention Mass with an assembly of nearly 1,400 musicians filling the new cathedral in Raleigh with joyful music in praise of God. Every weekend, though, I am blessed and encouraged by the participation and the song of OUR assembly here at St. Joseph. Visitors and newcomers often note that they are inspired by our singing and our devotion in our liturgy. I give thanks to God for the many people here whose service and ministry help us all to praise God as we lift our hearts and our voice in praise, petition, thanksgiving, and even lament. In all we do— in our worship and our service— may Jesus Christ be praised!