This morning I was honored to celebrate a Votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist with our Early Music Academy, featuring John Taverner's Missa Mater Christi Sanctissima. Here's my homily, as well as a recording of the Sanctus.
This morning, we celebrate two great liturgical acts of holy communion. The first is that unique, perduring and most sacred action, which is the source and the summit of our lives: the Holy Eucharist, Holy Communion. In just a few minutes we will present bread and wine, along with the sacrifices of our lives, and God will receive them and return to us the the Body and Blood of his Son, through which we are made one in love.
And in so doing, “in celebrating the sacrifice of the Lamb, we will be united to the heavenly ‘liturgy’ and become part of that great multitude which cries out: ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!’ (1) The Eucharist is truly a glimpse of heaven appearing on earth. It is a glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem which pierces the clouds of our history and lights up our journey.” (2)
But this morning we celebrate a second form of holy communion, as well, for which I thank you, as you so passionately embrace the sacred song of the Church, fostering a real communion, drawing us into the beauty of the mystery of Christ and his Paschal love for his Body, the Church.
What makes this music sacred, what gives it such power, is precisely its polyphony: that by the creation of a single harmonious sound from many voices, you echo the song of the angels in heaven. And, as the Bishops have reminded us, you “mediate the holiness of God and [form] a Holy People more fully into communion with him and with each other in Christ.” (3) That’s the holy communion which your scared song accomplishes.
And, while we may not place a vigil light in front of the choir as we do in front of the tabernacle, the communion you foster is every bit as real, and rooted in the Paschal song first intoned from the wood of Cross, sung by our great high Priest this morning through your lungs and your voices.
Finally, we are blessed that this Holy Communion, which has been at work in the Church since John Taverner first led the choir in Saint Botolph’s Church in Lincolnshire’s old Boston, today echoes off the walls of this holy house. As the Church will be blessed by these sacred songs in all the Churches from which you come. Until we are, at last, are but one song and one voice, in holy communion with the heavenly hosts, in one great chorus of joyful praise of the Lamb whose Paschal Death and Rising is our salvation.
1 Revelation 7:10.
2 Pope Saint John Paul II, Encyclical Letter ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 19.
3 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship,