In the same week:
* My dad came to visit and stayed with me all week. Not bad in and of itself, but it just brings up tensions and things that give me some trouble.
* I’ve been “putting out flames” about some discussions with my choir members on choral harmonies for congregational music. (More on that in another post.)
* Two choir members apparently set up a meeting with my supervisor concerning the congregational harmonies thing. (On which, as I will post later, you will see that I basically capitulated.) This is fine, except one of them is one with whom I work a fair amount. “Normally”, choir members should come to me directly with concerns unless they are uncomfortable coming to me; it was bothersome to see that this person is, in fact, uncomfortable with me. It made me feel untrusted and brought back the defensive feelings from another choir member telling me that some with whom she is in contact think I don’t really listen to people - and this after many instances, even in the 5 months I have been at the parish, of accommodating people’s feedback.
* The other choir member is one who, with her husband, left the choir in anger after the Easter Vigil. (Apparently they are planning to give me another chance, which makes me breathe a sigh of relief.) I don’t often take it very well when people become so upset with me, particularly when I feel (as, justified or no, I did) that so little has provoked it. Suffice it to say it was the worst I hope I ever feel after an Easter Vigil - which usually for me is an almost euphoric high. (WHY a Catholic, esp. without kids, would ever miss the Vigil is beyond me.) Anyway, that whole thing still makes me uneasy. She did, though, email the choir in support of the idea that “let’s all just reset and give this thing another try, since (Cantor) came in at such a strange time of the year”. (I started a week and a half before Ash Wednesday - yikes!)
* Another choir member in particular set up a meeting with me to discuss her issues. This is a choir member who compulsively gives you 30 minutes of background information. She is such a sweet lady that you just can’t (or, at least, I can’t) bring yourself to say, “get to your point, please”, but UGH.
* This same choir member related how she was very surprised when I told her what Vatican II really said about Latin. The choir was a little uneasy around Easter with an amount of Latin that, relative to what they had been given previously, was pretty abundant; this choir member thought it would interest many to know some of the rationale behind the retention of liturgical Latin. So, I shot off an email to the choir that gave CSL 36, CSL 54, MS 47, GIRM 41, and SacCar 62, then the following commentary:
The reasons why Vatican II’s expressed desire for congregations to sing and/or to speak in Latin was not heeded are mysterious and complex, and they certainly are WAY beyond the appropriate scope of an email. But a significant fact to bear in mind is that the term “Latin Mass” can accurately describe the *modern* Mass just as it describes the Mass as it was before Vatican II.
I have planned a good deal of the choir’s choral repertoire for the coming year; at this point, not much Latin is “on the plate”. (I do have in mind to sing the “O antiphons” in Latin at the Advent Lessons and Carols.) What Latin we do sing will be introduced early, with translations made available to the choir and, whenever possible, to the congregation.
As an aside, you may have heard of Pope Benedict’s liberalization of the pre-Conciliar Mass (i.e. “the old Latin Mass”) on July 7th. What this means is that any priest who so desires *may* (not “must”, or even “should”) now celebrate the Mass as it was before Vatican II. As you may expect, the number of priests who want to do so, *and* who know how, is very small, especially in the United States.
* This apparently didn’t sit well, for whatever reason, with the choir member who is/was upset with me, who had another meeting with my supervisor.
* Also, the day before, the supervisor, having been apprised of my email, ordered me to place her on the choir email list. She’s not in the choir, so I felt this was a bit inappropriate. The strange thing was, she told me she thought what I had written was ok, but at the same time was pretty clearly upset about it.
* At the same time as all this fun and goodness, I have been engaged in a defense of liturgical Latin (i.e. diversity with vernaculars, not to the exclusion of either) on an email list populated largely with people who are glad not to be praying in Latin except the occasional “Ubi caritas”. I think I’ve got a very good case, but I did not persuade many except “legalistically”. Finally I was informed that I was becoming “a bore”. Too many posts in too little time. Again, not something I take very easily - esp. given the conviction that I have concerning liturgical Latin.
ANYWAY. Reset. I just hope I won’t regret taking this job; I moved cross-country to come here, and it seemed such a nice prospect to work for a large parish. The strange thing is that I hear, and hear of, very few complaints from the congregation itself. I mostly deal with complaints from a few of the choir members. I think what bugs me the most is not being seen as trustworthy.....I guess that just will come with time.