Last year, many liturgical musicians and pastoral leaders had to struggle with that question when one of our own prolific composers was revealed to also be a serial abuser. When some parishes and entire dioceses decided to ban the public use of this person’s music, some argued, saying, “If we only sang music by saints, we wouldn’t have much to sing.”
Recognizing that this brief reflection can’t adequately address this issue, I will simply say that this argument is flawed.We are all sinful people with the ability to create beautiful things. The saints, with the Spirit’s help, made of their imperfect lives something beautiful for God. Click To Tweet
First, it underestimates music’s power to harm and divide as much as heal and unite. Second, and to the point of these feast days, it implies that saints were perfect people in their earthly lives. They were not. The Beatitudes never said, “Blessed are the perfect….” The saints were flawed—some even greatly—imperfect humans. They sinned, some a lot. What made them saints is that they changed and changed greatly.
We are all sinful people with the ability to create beautiful things. The saints, with the Spirit’s help, made of their imperfect lives something beautiful for God.
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”
Image credit: Photo by Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash.
Read more reflections on the Sunday readings here:
- The heart of the Eucharist
- Come and fill our hearts
- The slow work of the Spirit
- Listen for the Spirit
- Let’s be recognized