Discouraged by a faith community’s failure to live up to my version of us, and hurt, I was trying out some alternatives. Like Brody says to Quint in Jaws, I was going to need a bigger boat.
“Looking for a place the devil can’t find you,” said a friend.
“I guess so,” I said.
“And maybe God can’t, either,” he said.
My love for liturgy, and my understanding of it, grew during this time. I was in doubt; not so much the kind of doubt that needs convincing, but the kind resolved by trust. Gun-shy of God and all the people who loved him, I needed to let the church do my praying for a while. The liturgy – whether passing the peace or another chorus of “God of Wonders” (remember that rite?) – believed right into me. “Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith,” says the priest at the Mass. Please do.
Hildegard of Bingen says the devil is afraid of all that singing. He’s afraid humanity’s first voice could be restored, “being transformed to bring back the sweetness of the songs of heaven, [humanity’s] homeland….” So the devil works against it,
…confounding confession and the sweet beauty of both divine praise and spiritual hymns, eradicating them through wicked suggestions, impure thoughts, or various distractions from the heart of man and even from the mouth of the Church itself, wherever he can, through dissension, scandal, or unjust oppression.
We sing our way to freedom, says Hildegard. We sing ourselves to a faith that defeats dissension, scandal, oppression.
“If you are in need of prayer, of restoring, or belonging,” says Hildegard, as the music begins, and the lights change, as the congregation stirs from the sermon, “if your heart cries for unity, integrity, liberation; if you are where there is doubt,” she says, “come now, as we stand and sing.”