Post by Allison
My parish choir's alto section – all two of us – came a half hour early Thursday night to rehearsal to work with our music director on Georg Friedrich Händel's Hallelujah Chorus. As we sang, with our church enveloped in darkness and the world outside dark too, I realized being able to sing Alleluia – which means Praise God - is one of the reasons I am Catholic.
This Lent has been a long and lonely time for my soul. We Catholics do not sing or say Alleluia during this penitential season. Some Christian friends who attend non-liturgical churches do not understand why Catholics observe 40 days of Lent and then the 50-day Easter season. The rhythms of the Church's calendar help me to understand the drama of salvation.
As for Händel's Messiah, I've been singing and hearing it since childhood. I think of it as one of my personal theme songs. It was almost an anthem for my public high-school chorus and my parents sang Messiah in various choral groups. How I am looking forward to singing it with my fellow choristers at Easter Vigil after we have traveled together through Lent! Easter, in which we celebrate our Lord's resurrection, doesn't makes sense without Lent. Without understanding deprivation, we cannot understand salvation. Without the sorrow of Christ's suffering, our Easter joy is meaningless. Our church was dark Thursday night except for a light in the choir loft. As I surveyed the darkened sanctuary below, with its veiled statues and crucifix, I could see only the candle burning in front of the tabernacle. The light of salvation like this, too.
When we are unbelieving, our world can be dark and desolate. Yet God is always with us. We are heading into the most solemn and holy week in the Christian calendar. We journey with Jesus to Calvary and we do so with the assurance He is risen. For a sneak peak at what will be celebrated next Saturday evening at a Catholic church near you, check out this clip