I attended today’s lecture at Stonehill College which was given by Fr. Jan Michael Joncas. I know that a lot of people don’t like his music, but I think he has some very good music. There is also some music of questionable quality, but that is a matter for a different post. He is also a very nice person who I have been personally aquainted with for several years.

While the topics of today’s lecture were advertised as being: How is God speaking to us during this time of change in the Church? What will we retain and let go of on the way? What wisdom will we offer the next generation as we evolve from the church we know, into the one we want to become?, Fr. Joncas spoke about the various stages of transition from the viewpoint of illness (specifically, his own battle with Guillain-Barre Syndrome) and how the psalms can be forms of prayer during those times.

He described five stages of transition:
1) Chaos and Confusion
2) Diagnosis
3) Suffering
4) a – Therapy
b – Decline
5) a – Return
b – Death and Eternal Life

Fr. Joncas played the piano and lead the singing with the assistance of a small choir. The congregation of approximately 60 people also joined in singing all the hymns. All the music, except for one, was composed by Fr. Joncas. The one exception was “Shepherd Me O God” by Marty Haugen. The lecture ended with the singing of “On Eagle’s Wings”.

Speaking of his recent illness, Fr. Joncas said that the most devastating part was the inability to celebrate Mass and to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. He said the celebration of the Eucharist was the center of his prayer life and “the joy of his ministry”.

At one point, Fr. Joncas mentioned that many people do not like a lot of contemporary liturgical music and attributed it to people’s not understanding the ambiguity of the lyrics. He said that liturgical music must have an element of ambiguity.

Tomorrow’s lecture is about choosing appropriate music for the various parts of the Mass and for various occasions. He will also introduce some new music which has not yet been released.

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