Sunday, April 26, 2015

Seraphim; The Good Shepherd

People seemed to be in search for the good shepherd today. At this morning's children's mass, the First Communion students and their parents answered the question: What qualities do you want to see in your priest?

Here are some answers:

Kindness. We want someone who pays attention to us and treats us well.

Someone who cares. When someone is sick or goes to the hospital, we want the priest to check in on us to see if we are fine or need anything. We want him to ask how we are doing.

Someone who will warn us away from situations in life that could negatively affect our faith while leading us to a place of safety and comfort for our family.

Someone who is good and wants to get to know us.

We want him to be welcoming and non-judgmental. He is to exercise hospitality so that many people can know that the church is their home. We want to be ourselves and to find comfort in our church.

Their responses had nothing to do with intellect, accomplishments, fine clothing or expensive tastes.

When I attended the second mass, the homily was different, but talked about the "Shepherd who has the smell of the sheep on his mind." A priest is credible if he is one with the people and can call them to higher endeavors.

After the mass, I noticed the congregation seemed very happy and engaged. Many wanted blessings; some hugged one another; everyone seemed very happy - and they seemed happy with me. I even heard a couple of confessions - reminding me that I must become more proficient in the language. I am much more comfortable; so are they! Somehow, the grace of God is making this work.

While the day was tiring, a Jesuit friend and I attended a concert in Harvard Square called: Jerusalem: Holy, Disputed, Lamented. It was the balm for my frenetic morning. It was the best value that $20.00 could buy. The quality of the concert merited a $100.00 admission fee. It was that peaceful and inspirational.

The program featured the renowned Seraphim Singers, led by Jennifer Lester, and Kol Arev, the Chamber Choir of Hebrew College, led by Amy Lieberman and Lynn Torgrove. The program began with selections from Biblical texts on Jerusalem, incorporated choral music from modern Jerusalem, and established a framework for peace in A New Jerusalem.

While the songs began strong and hearkened back to the prophets and psalms, the program took on increased intensity and shape. The first part included texts from Isaiah 60, Jeremiah's Lamentations, songs from the Exile, Psalm 21, and poetic descriptions of Holy Jerusalem. The climax seemed to be Avner Dorman's "The Seventy Names of Jerusalem," but the program still intensified. The lyrical enunciation of "V'lirusholayim Ir'cho" was especially haunting and mystical. The program nicely wrapped up with Aaron Copland's "Zion's Walls."

Peacefulness. Sadness. Inspiration. Amazement. Hope. Illuminating. Moving. Joyous.

I wish you all had joined us.

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