Feb 8, 2009

A bittersweet Sunday

I finally got a chance to get to mass as one of New York's great churches, St. Paul the Apostle, the Paulist Motherhouse in Manhattan, where I was a more frequent worshiper until fairly recently and where I was married and in fact, met my beloved wife, Marion. Since I travel so much the prospect of a 35 minute subway ride on Sunday seems less attractive to me than a simple 3 minute walk up the block to our local church in Woodside.

I also planned to go this Sunday in particular because it was Paulist Appeal Sunday and as a good employee who benefits from such funds I always think that I should attend this mass and make my own contribution. Seminarian Dat Tran did a fantastic job with the appeal pitch.

The bittersweet moment came when it was announced that this was the final Sunday that Director of Music Anne Holland would be at St Paul's. Anne, has been the director of music there for the past 18 years! After a blessing that the parish pronounced on her, a thunderous applause seemed to last for about the same length of time.

The St. Paul Singers were always a big reason for me to attend this parish. Anne's leadership in raising their voices in prayerful song often moved me beyond mere singing into a more holy place. Each Holy Thursday the haunting sounds of the Taize chant "Stay with me...Remain here with Me....Watch and Pray...Watch and Pray" move me in ways that a full Benedictine monastery could not equal. Being near Lincoln Center much of the arts community is nearby and that allows a great number of talented men and women to share their gift of music with the parish. Anne is but one of these people, but in my mind, she was the wingnut that held it all together (I'm just an ordinary nut).

Mostly, I'll remember Anne playing the music at my wedding. I remember being comforted by the fact that the music was in such capable hands and her and cantor Nancy Meyer and a select group of the St Paul Singers did not disappoint. People still remind me of how great the music was at our wedding. What most people don't know is that Anne donated her fee for the day as a wedding gift to us. What an awesome wedding gift!

My prayer today is that Anne's gift of music continue to touch the lives of others in whatever way she feels called to bring her talents to the world. Amen.

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