Sunday, September 6, 2015

Battle Hymn for Humanity

Happy Sunday everyone! I was thinking of my friend Hilary's excellent article on music during mass ("Have You Been Missing Out on a Centuries-Old Catholic Musical Tradition?")  as our parish is... not musically blessed. Sure, maybe we could complain about not understanding Latin - but I could not understand/ recognize the song being sung in a country twang while the collection was going on; it was definitely not liturgical.

It is very sad that so many parishes do not have the ability to provide people with more beautiful music to move their thoughts better towards Heaven and God. Since tomorrow is Labor Day, we sang a lot of America-centered songs during mass today, including Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Forgive my side eye (because I really do enjoy this song), but what a completely inappropriate song for mass. Julia Ward Howe wrote this song after visiting a battle field during the Civil War, and it epitomizes the American Protestant-Christian identity in the sense of America being chosen, blessed and called to that higher purpose through election. It's essentially a 19th century pump-up song for the anti-slavery/ women's suffrage movement which is fine for American Sing-Along Songs, but not for mass.

But this is not why I am writing. What I love about this parish is not its music, but the people. It's not a vibrant parish; it is a loving parish. The pastor knows us by name, asks about how things about going (specifically - today he asked how Grace's arm is doing, for example). Will's on night shift, so today I went to mass solo with Thing 1 and Thing 2. They were overall well-behaved, and part of that is because we sat in the back so if Grace wanted to loop around the pew, she could (and did).

On our way in, a lady helped me carry in the extra carseat I use for Laura (as my extra pair of arms). Halfway during mass, a lady came to sit in the pew with us to help with Grace. She offered to carry Grace, who then started using her upset face, so I carried them both to communion - Laura in the ring sling, which I had to put her in beforehand. On the way out, ladies and gents stopped by to say hello to the girls, wish us happy Sundays and talk to Grace. They held the door for me and always make me feel very welcome at the table. I'm always meeting new parishioners because they approach me. (Needed for this introvert!)

The welcoming of this parish is one reason we joined the parish; after the first mass, the priest gave a little talk about how all children are welcome in mass, and we should want to hear them, because it means our parish is alive. Pregnant me may have cried a little bit.

The stories I am reading and hearing about Germans welcoming Syrian refugees across the boarders is exactly right. Americans need to stop congratulation everyone else and start advocating for refugees here in our country as well. America is great because of we welcome the poor, the homeless, the searching. If we don't want people to take advantage of the system, then put them in the system. Stop oppressing people who would rather risk their lives being deported here than risk being killed in their own country. Put them through citizenship classes, give them temporary visas, let them work, and let them make our home their home too.

This is SO IMPORTANT; remember that these people do not have a choice either, unless they stay to
die - these are families, women, men and children:


Citizenship is precious, yes, and so is faith. But when we keep them bottled only for the true believers, we see the disillusionment and cracks more easily. When we sing the battle hymn and forget why we're fighting, we waste the opportunity to uphold our republic. To limit immigration so as to over-complicate the process as a means to discourage is not humane. We are immigration elitists. This isn't a new concept - the Chinese Exclusion Act was only lifted in 1943, after starting as a temporary act in 1882 - but we need to move beyond this thinking that this is someone else's problem. What we support as private citizens affects the State.

The WSJ reports:
ROME—Pope Francis responded to Europe’s burgeoning immigration crisis Sunday, asking every Catholic church on the continent to set an example of Christian mercy by taking in a family of refugees. 
“May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe host a family,” the pope told a crowd in St. Peter’s Square after reciting the traditional noon Angelus prayer. 
There are approximately 120,000 parishes in Europe, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. The pope added that the Vatican itself would receive two families in the next few days. 
The pope has made migration one of the major social causes of his pontificate. Only a few months after his election in 2013, he visited the southern Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, a major entry point for undocumented immigrants to Europe, where he denounced rich nations’ indifference to the thousands who had died trying to cross the sea from North Africa. 
His latest gesture came as Germany and Austria received, via Hungary, one of the largest waves of displaced people since World War II: thousands of migrants, many fleeing Syria and other war-torn countries. 
Some 13,000 migrants had crossed Hungary’s border with Austria by Sunday afternoon. Most of them were already in Germany, which was working to distribute them across the country. 
... “In the face of the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing death in war or hunger, and who are on the road to hope of life, the Gospel calls us, asks us to be near, the littlest and the abandoned,” the pope said. 
Pope Francis said taking in the refugees would be a “concrete gesture in preparation for the Holy Year of Mercy,” which begins Dec. 8.
Lord, may our hearts be opened to mercy of those looked over, at home and abroad. Let us not be so selfish to value our comfort over another person's life and forget our common humanity. Glory, glory, hallelujah! Let our music honor you, Lord, and our actions reflect you.

p.s. have a great Labor Day:

"America the Beautiful"

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Bonus: What can I do for the European refugees?
Donate: Catholic Relief Services
Pray: St. Alban is the patron saint of refugees
Ideas: Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy

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1 comment:

  1. 1. I agree with you 100% about music and Battle Hymn not being appropriate for Mass - there are some good hymns that are also patriotic that are perfectly wonderful for Mass, let's use those instead!

    2. Yes to advocating for refugees here. We are a nation of "refugees" after all, right? I think we should be able to welcome them and get them on the path towards citizenship if that's what they want, or at least work visas for the time being.