Music During Lent

03-16-2014Weekly ReflectionCheryl Manfredonia

Dear Parish Family,

Throughout the year, the Catholic Church makes certain changes to the Mass to reflect the liturgical season. Next to the change in the color of the priest's vestments and altar cloth, the absence of the Gloria and Alleluia during Lent is probably the most obvious.

Have you ever wondered exactly why we don't sing these two Mass Propers during Lent? These changes in our ritual throughout the year can be viewed as moving up and down a sliding scale of 'magnificence' so that it will be clear even to the youngest child, what's really important in the full spectrum of what the Church believes.

The Resurrection of Jesus is the number one mystery Christians celebrate, so it's enhanced with three days of intense liturgy (the Triduum), a full week of solemn commemoration (Holy Week), preceded by 40 days of penitential preparation (the season of Lent). Along with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to get ready for Easter, the church also fasts from singing the GLORIA and ALLELUIA.

The GLORIA is an exalted hymn which adds a "celebratory character" to the Introductory rites that is better expressed sung rather than recited. The church doesn't sing these great words until the great celebration. In similar fashion, we don't sing "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" until we get there liturgically.

The ALLELUIA, is an acclamation of Paschal joy, seen as the chief term of praise of the choirs of angels, as they worship around the throne of God in Heaven. Our use of the Alleluia during Mass is a way of participating in the angels' worship. Our participation in Mass is a participation in Heaven.

However, our focus during Lent is on the Kingdom COMING, not on the Kingdom having come. The readings in the Masses for Lent and in the Liturgy of the Hours focus heavily on the coming of Christ. The Church removes the Alleluia from the Mass: we no longer sing with the choirs of angels. Instead, we acknowledge our sins and practice repentance so that one day we may again have the privilege of worshiping God as the angels do …. that day triumphantly coming when the priest chants a triple alleluia before he reads the Gospel. We respond with a triple Alleluia: the Lord has risen; the Kingdom has come; our joy is complete. In concert with the angels and saints, we greet the risen Lord with shouts of "Alleluia!"

Both the Gloria and the Alleluia are "resurrected" at Easter. Have a prayerful, penitential Lent as we journey together toward the joy and hope of the Risen Christ.

God Love You –
Cheryl Manfredonia, Director of Sacred Liturgy