The Chant Café 2012-12-10 04:37:00

As children grow into adolescence and adulthood, they face
many moral challenges. When navigated well, in keeping with the sound moral
judgment of the Church and the inner light of conscience, these moral
challenges are like vaults, raising people higher. But navigating well is
difficult. The traps are many, and serious, and few avoid them completely.

St Therese of Lisieux was one of the lucky few who avoided
the worst difficulties of adolescence. She attributed this to her upbringing,
and she was grateful, and attributed this to God’s mercy. She compared her life
to that of the daughter of a doctor. If the daughter of a doctor tripped over a
stone, fell and broke her leg, her doctor-father could heal her, and that is
one kind of mercy. But if her father saw the rock in the path ahead, and
removed it, that is another kind of mercy, and the kind that she best knew in
her own life.
I believe that the Church has a
few golden years of opportunity when working with children, from the ages of
perhaps 5-10, to give them a valuable aid to moral formation: Gregorian chant.
During these years, children learn quickly. They memorize easily, and retain
what they have learned for life. It has been my experience working with adult choirs
that have not sung chant before, that the oldest members remember the chants
they learned as children.
Blessed Cardinal Newman wrote, “The
Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not,—like some
well in a retired and shady place, difficult of access.”
No human teacher can give the Christian this
peace. It is the gift of sanctifying grace, the divine indwelling, the interior
place by which God makes the human body His own temple. God Himself gives this
grace, through the Church, in the waters of baptism. We cannot make it, but I
believe we can foster a child’s personal access to God in the soul by helping
them to be present to this divine gift from their youth, through Gregorian
Probably everyone who has taught chant to the young has seen a child
drift away and stop singing, not through laziness or inattention, but with a
kind of otherworldly focus, or contemplation. I consider this to be a moral
formation of a very high type, a touchstone in the life of grace that will not
easily be tempted away, and which, after a fall, will make return to health much easier.
And for those of us who have already passed through the trials of
adolescence, for better or worse, it is not too late. The morning is the
childhood of the day. Waking up, rousing ourselves to chant to God our morning praises
will lead us peacefully through the day, and into night.


Kathleen Pluth (501 Posts)

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