Going to Mass today at my favorite church here in Jacksonville, we walked in to discover scaffolding everywhere. This is a beautiful Romanesque style church that is roughly 90 years old and they are doing restoration of the ceiling’s plaster work. A few years back one of the florette on the ceiling gave way and fell to the ground. Communion had just ended and there was no one there standing when it fell to where Holy Communion was just given.
The amount of scaffolding there was rather distracting, but it did get me thinking about the virtues. As a convert sometimes you think that once you have faith and try to cooperate with grace that all of your faults will just give way That instantaneously you can be tested and not fall. Time and experience soon destroys that idea. Today I realized that virtues are much like the scaffolding of the Christian life. Scaffolding is not placed in for support in only one piece, but it is slowly added in and the scaffolding builds on top of the other pieces to both grow and to provide greater support. A virtue is a habit consonance with right reason that further disposes us toward good. Building on a established virtue not only increases us toward the good but also lays the foundation or builds up other virtues. If a virtue has not been built up, then when that area is challenged it will fall. When it has been built up then that consistent habit toward good will not crash toward the ground, but will resist the force upon it.
On the first Sundays of the month this Church does a combination Latin/English Mass like what is done at EWTN. The choir over the couple years that I have attended has grown steadily better. Originally they were often out of key with each other. I don’t have perfect pitch but I can tell when things are not quite right tonally. They were especially good today and their selection of music used both Latin text songs and some older English songs. Unfortunately they capped all of this off with On Eagles WIngs and last month it ended with Shine Jesus Shine. To my way of thinking this is like topping a banana split with a pickle. Another thing I enjoy about this Church is that the choir is in the balcony. Many churches even with choir lofts instead crowd them into the Sanctuary. Music directors then seem to want to treat us like an audience and get the idea that they got to do something like wave their arms around to direct us. There is also the temptation by the people at Mass to then applaud when a seemingly difficult piece was sung. Choirs can help to provide the soundtrack to the Mass, but should not become the performers on stage. There is an old saying that children should be seen, not heard. I am of the opinion that church choir’s should be heard, not seen.