Sunday, November 24, 2013

porta fidei

But I still wake up,
I still see your ghost.
Oh, Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for.
--Fun., Some Nights.

Churches, chapels, and sacred spaces seem to have music wrought into their very walls.
In the simple whitewashed chapel in Kolkata, I hummed music in my head that seemed to burst out of the monstrance.
As we stood on the altar of the Basilica on Friday night, I looked up at the starry vault, painted with angels and images of saints.
 We were singing Mozart, and I could have sworn we had stolen their song from their very lips and were singing the music along with them.
The music seemed to swirl around the image of the Virgin, and as she looked up to the clouds where she was rising, the music enveloped her and lifted her up.
This was the music that was carved into the columns of this building and we were bringing it alive.

I am not an expert praiser.
My praise is usually half-hearted and haphazard and sloppily done.
I do my best, but like most of my art, it strives for perfection, while falling far short of its mark. 
Mozart, it seemed to me Friday night, was an expert praiser.
The violin parts sounded less like wooden instruments bound with string and very much like nymphs sighing mournful sighs mournful sighs or angels dancing in the firmament.
The oboe played along with the soaring notes of the sopranos, and I thought my heart would break.
Mozart teased out, somehow, the essence of each instrument: the alto's voice, the cello, the horn, and made it truly sing. 
Made it sparkle and dart about under the dark blue welkin of the basilica's painted ceiling.
Mozart found the heart of each piece of music and laid it on the gilded altar of sacrifice.
I think he is an expert praiser.
Chills ran up and down my spine, as I heard my voice mingled in harmony with the dozens of voices of others. 

I am not a good praiser.
But, through the skill of Mozart, for that moment, I was.

In the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Darjeeling, I found these words: fiat in fides.
Say yes in Faith.
They came on a day I was looking for answers.
The thing about this command: To say yes in Faith is that, at first glance, it doesn't seem to give you the answer. 
I stared at those words and thought: say yes to what?
But that was a moot point.
A fiat is a daily offering, a daily practice of living. 
As the angelus bells ring, we practice offering our fiats along with the Virgin's.
Our fiats are what keeps our faith alive. 
The daily business of faith is to whisper a fiat, to open one's hands to receive.

One who loves deeply simply needs to believe. Boundless love demands boundless possibilities--and that invites an endless increase in Faith.
--Fr. J. Anthony Giambrone

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