Bulletin Letter, Ordinary Time Sunday 22B
Already in my three years of priesthood, I’ve done a number of funerals and burials for veterans of our nation’s military. Anyone who has witnessed the same would likely agree that the graveside military rites are very impressive and moving, an expression of gratitude on behalf of the country they served to protect, and a sign of solidarity with the veterans that still live.
Also in my time as a priest, I’ve already witnessed the funerals of several other priests, now fellow brothers who strove to serve and defend the people of God in Christ’s Church. If you’ve been to the funeral of a priest in recent years, one of the most profound moments actually takes place outside, at the very end. As they load the body into the hearse, the bishop and the fellow priests in attendance all join together in singing the Salve Regina, the Latin of the Hail, Holy Queen, a hymn to our Blessed Lady from “this valley of tears,” a hymn that almost all of us learned during our time in seminary as the closing of each day at the end of Compline. So as the day of his short life comes to a close, we bid farewell to our brother by joining our voices in this plea for a Mother’s care.
The Salve Regina is part of our common heritage, not just as priests, but as fellow Catholics on a worldwide and historical scale. In 1974, Blessed Pope Paul VI published a booklet of simple chants, Jubilate Deo (“Sing to God”), that he hoped would continue to unite the voices of all Catholics. It is a powerful experience to be able to join people from all over the world in the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei. Even if we never travel outside these United States, our voices echo those of Catholics not only from other parts of the world but down through the ages of history, with countless Saints and Doctors of the Church now in heaven.
At Masses during the week, since getting the St. Michael Hymnal at Cathedral, I’ve been trying to teach some of the chants from this booklet, that—by Bl. Paul VI’s design—is to form a “minimum repertoire of Gregorian chant.” I also do this so that I don’t have to look at the hymnal myself, as I purify vessels and clear the altar after Communion. I’ve mainly focused on the beautiful hymns to our Blessed Mother, as these are used seasonally in Compline and seem very appropriate after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. The Wikipedia article on “Jubilate Deo” has a full listing of the Latin Mass parts and hymns that every Roman Catholic should be able to sing. It’s actually a relatively short list.
With one voice, we lift our hearts to God. Thank you for your willingness to learn together, things new and old.