Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 12, 2009
Liturgy celebrates life, belongs to the people
Singer/songwriter David Haas told workshop participants music ministry is the ministry of Hospitality
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
SHERWOOD PARK - When singer/songwriter David Haas began his liturgical workshop, he asked the 350-plus people about their questions, concerns and reasons for attending.
The choir directors, singers, musicians and liturgical planners responded by asking how do you get the parishioners to sing, how do you start a choir, how do you get students interested in music at school.
"Give yourself some solace. I hear these same questions everywhere I go. These are common concerns," said Haas, during the Oct. 3 workshop at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Sherwood Park.
SIX PRINCIPLES OF LITURGY
He presented his six principles of liturgy. His first principle is that liturgy is a celebration of faith.
"We don't know much about Jesus historically. What we do know from the people who walked with him is that he changed their lives," said Haas.
While Jesus never "forced" anyone to follow his ways, many parents take a coercive approach in introducing their children to the Church, forcing them to attend Mass on Sunday morning and go to a Catholic school. Over time, if they have not discovered their faith for themselves, they will tend to leave the Church.
Similarly, Haas said that coercing somebody to sing in the church choir or forcing parishioners to be more active in responsorial songs is the wrong approach.
"The question isn't how do you get people to sing. The question is who do they have to sing about."
Haas, from Eagan, Minn., performed a concert Oct. 2 at OLPH. He is director of The Emmaus Center for Music, Prayer and Ministry. He also teaches in the theology and music departments at a Catholic high school in St. Louis Park, Minn.
With more than 45 collections of original music and having written over 400 songs, he is regarded as one of the preeminent liturgical composers in the English-speaking world.
His second principle is that liturgy is done by the Church, and belongs to the people. Liturgy should celebrate the whole of life, and is not a means to escape life, as some people believe.
"Everything you do, the music you choose, you must ask yourself, 'How is this helping the community?'" he said.
Third, liturgy takes a village, and is the responsibility of the whole community.
Music ministry is a ministry of hospitality, and the liturgy begins the moment a person steps out of his car in the church parking lot. If the person feels welcomed immediately, he is apt to participate more fully in the liturgy.
Fourth, liturgy is ritual prayer. The wooden cross and making the sign of the cross are examples of symbolic language. Music also conveys a message in symbolic language.
"Symbols are at the core of what our Church is. Good symbols should evoke a response," he said.
Parents are quick to give explanations of the cross, chalices, incense and other "smells and bells" that are used in a Catholic Mass. Since these items are symbols, their significance is diminished by explanations. He urged parents to let their children find the deeper meanings of these symbols for themselves.
The fifth principle is that liturgy is sung. The music should not be aimed at entertaining or inspiring, but at engaging the parishioners.
Sixth, liturgy is about discipleship. "Are we better Christians as a result of the liturgy? Is it helping build discipleship? These are the questions you should be asking," said Haas.
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