Monday, July 12, 2010

NPM Convention: Later on Monday

Good afternoon, folks. It's Monday afternoon now. The session for ensemble leaders with Steve Warner went quite well this morning. The keyboard in the room was, to use a favorite term from one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, a "piece of crap." The sustain pedal was not functioning and the entire instrument (a Roland) sounded like it was being played in a tin can. I pity the musicians that have to play that keyboard for the rest of the week in that room. Enough about that.

Here's one view outside my hotel window. That's Canada on the left.

This afternoon's keynote speaker was Sr. Kathleen Hughes, who was one of my professors at Catholic Theological Union. She has been out of the liturgical mainstream for awhile (she has been in a leadership position in her religious community), so I wondered how "on target" she would be.

Frankly, I found her talk rather surprising. In all my years of knowing her, listening to her talks, and reading her works, I never thought I would hear her say some of the things she said today. This is a talk worth ordering the recording of, folks. I expected the usual cogent arguments about why the direction the Church is headed is all wrong. This is not what she did. She concluded the plenum with nine pieces of practical advice at this time of "crossroads" in the Church. She reflected back upon her own life, when there were times when she was a staunch proponent of her own stances, when she was "bright and right." I believe that her experience and age has made her a wiser person. She challenged us to be in dialogue with those whose piety may not match ours. She challenged us to see in the new translation a great opportunity for catechesis. And, perhaps the most striking thing (to me, anyway) that she said was that she chooses not live her life as a cranky person. Of all the people that I know that I thought most certainly would live a cranky existence as the new translation makes its way into the English-speaking world, Kathleen Hughes would certainly have been at the top of that list. This is in no way is meant as a sign of disrespect. I have a profound respect for this wise woman. And, true, it has been fifteen years since I was her student. I thought she was quite hopeful and prophetic all at the same time. She doesn't mince words, but I came away from this talk with a sense of relief. I went up to her after the talk and thanked her for affirming something in me: my own decision not to enter the ranks of the cranky over this translation business. Folks, life is simply too short.

I hope you do not fall into the "crank rank."

That's all for now. My feet are tired.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1 comment:

Liam said...

Wise words, indeed.

Each the "sides" in the liturgical reform wars has felt (at often given into) temptations to nurse powerful resentments and feelings of victimhood. Anything that does this must be seen as not of Christ, as an occasion of sin of which to be deeply wary.

This is not to say all is right. Rather it is to say that, we might have to modulate our sense of the purposes of what we have done and been, and of what we are called to do and be; worthy passion must be accompanied by a healthy detachment, in a spirit of joyful hope that, however incomplete or frustrated we might feel our efforts are, the Spirit does get the Spirit's work done, but in the Spirit's time. We must understand that no single one of us has a claim to a comprehensive preview of the entire vision of the Spirit, and we must proceed with humility in light of that, a humility that liberates us from the things that would otherwise cause us to be enslaved to resentment and pride.