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    A View from the Pew

    Navigating the Highway of Change

    Navigating the Highway of Change

    I depend on my GPS to direct me to the church where I worship and then blog A View from the Pew.  Each week, I trust my navigator to safely guide me to my desired location. I need to remember that my GPS needs updating on a yearly basis. Roads change. If I forget to update the navigator’s maps, my GPS will fail. So I do my homework, update the GPS maps and rely on my navigator to do its work. Today, confident in my trusty little GPS, I followed the “voice” as it led me through some new and undiscovered roads to reach St. Bernard’s Church, a small New England parish set within the heart of the town of Assonet, MA.

    As I entered the church, I heard a lovely voice accompanied by an organ singing through Dan Schutte’s revised Mass of Christ the Savior, published by Oregon Catholic Press. Well done, I thought. This pastoral musician must be preparing the assembly to begin its work of learning new texts and tunes to accommodate the changes in the revised Roman Missal. As I located a pew near a lovely elderly couple and a beautiful young family within a robust assembly, people intently sang the new music from a printed sheet provided in the hymnbook racks. As the music rehearsal ended, pastoral musician Denise Weaver briefly and graciously informed the assembly that this music would become this parish’s new sung Mass beginning next weekend. She pleasantly asked us to place the provided sheets back within the hymn book racks. After a short silence, Denise invited us to open our hymnals to the gathering song. We followed her directions and lifted our voices in song to accompany the procession to begin the work of worshipping God together.  

    After the lector pristinely proclaimed the first and second readings, we sang the Gospel Acclamation as the pastor, Fr. Mike Racine processed with the Book of the Gospels to the ambo to proclaim the Gospel and then proceeded to break open this three-step gospel instruction for acting responsibly toward one another. As the pastor preached on today’s challenging readings, he navigated the Christian highway through the parameters of responsibility in the framework of the human community and offered several beautiful narratives to illustrate his points. Further, he contextualized the challenges of the road ahead of us as we begin our sojourn together in the work of learning the new texts and music for the revised Roman Missal. Fr. Mike posed a daring question: “How will we love one another and care for one another as we face these challenges?” Beautifully posed.

    I looked around me at the people in the pews for reactions to Denise’s music instruction and to Fr. Mike’s corporate challenge. No one seemed disturbed, surprised or disconcerted that change will occur and that the work ahead will be rigorous for us all. The people of St. Bernard’s seemed more than willing to meet the challenges posed by Fr. Mike, who they clearly perceive as a passionate, hard working and engaged priest. These people know that change means work and recognize their own duty and discipleship in the work of the liturgy. I have no doubt that they will embrace it and encourage one another in the months ahead. They will learn the revised music under the skillful and very pastoral leadership of Denise Weaver and they will trust their pastor, Fr. Mike, to update his liturgical road maps and navigate the highway ahead to insure the safe arrival of the people in his care to prayerful holy ground.

    How will you safely navigate the highway of change for your people?