First of all I want to thank all of you for your response to my announcement this past weekend about our parish’s financial challenges. Your understanding is much appreciated. Working together, with confidence in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will move forward and resolve this challenge successfully.*
One of the things we need to respond to soon is the construction of a sidewalk protection structure in front of the church. Pieces of stone have been falling from the front of the building for some time: for years in fact. Fortunately no one has been hurt. All the loose stones were removed by the firm that did the inspection and study of the church and rectory façade, so I do not anticipate any stones falling for a while. Nonetheless, it is prudent for us to take measures to insure everyone’s safety until the church and rectory facades are replaced.
We have received a permit from the city to do this. The structure they require is rather large and not very attractive. It will take up the entire sidewalk in front of the church. We have a contractor set to construct it. The only reason we have not given the go-ahead on this project is that we do not have on hand $25,000, which is the cost of this structure. As soon as we can afford it we will have it built. Stay tuned.
On a totally different note, if I may express it that way, this Friday is the Feast of St. Cecilia. She was a martyr. While details of her life are sketchy at best, historical research suggests she was martyred in Sicily under Marcus Aurelius between 176 and 180. By 500 there was a dilapidated church in Rome dedicated to her. So devotion to St. Cecilia goes back a long way. She is a very ecumenical Saint, being celebrated on the calendar not only by Roman Catholics, but also by Eastern Rite Catholics, Orthodox and by Anglicans.
She is best known as the patroness of music, and especially of church musicians. We are especially fortunate here at St. Austin to have such good music. Our choir and our ensembles are all quite extraordinary. The high quality of music here draws people to our worship, and so is a great evangelization tool. We owe Dr. Hoffman, the musicians, the cantors, choir and ensemble members all a debt of gratitude.
More wonderful and extraordinary to my way of thinking is the great participation in singing and the music that you – the people in the pews – exhibit. This congregation both likes to sing and sings pretty well. There is always room for improvement, of course, but I bet St. Austin parish sings better than most parishes in this diocese.
This is significant for making real the liturgical vision of VCII. In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy we read: “Liturgical action is given a more noble form when sacred rites are solemnized in song, with the assistance of sacred ministers and the active participation of the people.... Choirs must be diligently promoted, but bishops and other pastors must ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightfully theirs....” (paragraph 112)
So I invite you to celebrate St. Cecilia this weekend, and all the year, by singing out with gusto.