Kansas City, Mo., Oct 18, 2009 (CNA) - The Requiem Mass has stimulated composers as varied as Mozart, Gabriel Faure and the modern English composer Herbert Howells. And now, a brand-new work inspired by the Requiem's traditional form will receive its world premiere at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City on November 5.
"'Requiem of Peace' is the title, and that title makes a very big difference to understanding what it's all about," says Dr. Mario Pearson, the Cathedral's music director and the new work's composer.
A Requiem's traditional purpose is to ask God’s mercy on the dead by granting them eternal peace. But Pearson's new work extends that prayer to the living – by adding a reminder to the traditional prayers that peace is still possible in our world today.
Lasting about 45 minutes, or roughly the performance time of a Romantic-era concerto or symphony, the "Requiem of Peace" is scored for a choir of about 40 voices and an 18-piece orchestra of strings with clarinet, French horn, chimes, tympani and piano.
Its 10 sections include the traditional seven sections of the Requiem and three extra sections: a setting of the peace prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, a setting of the Dona Nobis Pacem, and an instrumental interlude written in memory of the victims of 9/11.
All ten sections are joined thematically by a recurring motif. "Sometimes it's taken up by the strings, sometimes by the choir, sometimes by the chimes, and so forth," Pearson says. "It just helps us be mindful of the whole idea, which is a sort of a musical plea for peace in this world."
Pearson was studying composition at Stetson University in Florida on September 11, 2001, "and that's where the whole concept for the Requiem of Peace came about," he says. "Seeing the chaos of 9/11 reminded me once again of the need for peace in this world."
It was a reminder to one who was already quite aware of the need for peace. Pearson was born and raised in the Archdiocese of Cape Town, South Africa, and saw first-hand from childhood what chronic violence does to a community and to a nation.
"I grew up living with a lack of peace," he says. "I remember, very well, me as a teenager playing the organ for so many funerals of teenagers and young children killed in the crossfires.
"Seeing first-hand the violence of the apartheid system as a child made me recognize the need for peace in the world. So actually, it's a very personal story too."
The November 5 service is a multi-media event. The music will be accompanied by PowerPoint slides, including slides of heroes for peace like Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The cathedral's choir, the diocesan choir, and the choir of Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral downtown will join forces for the performance, which is part of an ecumenical liturgical service of readings and hymns called "Requiem and Remembrance."
Pearson says its purpose is "to remember all of those who have gone before us in faith." He will conduct the ensemble and Canon John Schaefer, his counterpart at Grace and Holy Trinity, will be the organist for the service.
"It's a nice piece of music, very attractive" Canon Schaefer says. "It's very accessible to the listener, but also it very profoundly expresses what Dr. Pearson is trying to communicate."
Sr. Claudette Schiratti, the diocese's Associate Music Director, will be the pianist for the Nov. 5 performance. Monsignor Robert Gregory, Rector of the cathedral, and the Very Reverend Terry White, Dean of Grace and Holy Trinity cathedral, will co-preside at the service.
"The world is so full of contradiction, cynicism, division and animosity, and that's just in conversations between people," Msgr. Gregory says. "We hope the beauty of this music will touch people to be people of peace, and to remind people that peace is still possible in this world for those who seek peace."
There will be a candlelit procession to Grace and Holy Trinity for a reception after the service. Admission is free. "No one will be turned away," Dr. Pearson says.
November’s performance is the third annual choral collaboration between the two cathedrals. A free-will offering will be taken to help pay for the orchestra and to help fund another joint choral venture next year.
"I do hope that parishioners from all over the diocese will come and we have a packed cathedral to pray for peace," Pearson says.
"There are never enough occasions for people to do that. At least I hope that's what people take away from it."
Printed with permission from The Catholic Key, newspaper for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, Missouri.
Washington D.C., Oct 18, 2009 (CNA) - Pro-life leader Charmaine Yoest has charged that a compromise now being considered for health care reform legislation would mark a “radical departure” from the past by sidestepping pro-life funding provisions and requiring every area of the country to have at least one health insurance plan that covers abortions.
Yoest, President of Americans United for Life, on Wednesday wrote in a Wall Street Journal opinion essay that provisions which would have explicitly prevented federal dollars from being used for elective abortions were “killed” by all five legislative committees that have handled health care reform bills.
“Instead, the abortion compromise in the works is a provision modeled on an amendment Rep. Lois Capps (D., Calif.) added to the House bill,” she reported, calling the amendment a “radical departure from the status quo.”
According to Yoest, at present the federal government does not pay into health care plans that cover elective abortions, nor are government health benefits used for such purposes.
Though 17 states presently pay for elective abortions, the Hyde Amendment prohibits states from using federal Medicaid matching funds to pay for abortions.
“The status quo now is that no dollar—federal or state—associated with Medicaid may pay for elective abortions,” Yoest wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
She charged that the Capps Amendment would sidestep the Hyde Amendment and other federal laws.
“It would make abortion coverage a part of the public option, funnel tax dollars to private health plans that cover abortion, and ensure that every area of the country will have at least one health insurance plan that covers elective abortion,” Yoest explained. “If this should happen, for the first time in more than 30 years the federal government would be in the business of funding the destruction of unborn human life.”
She dismissed as “a dodge” the Capps Amendment’s accounting mechanism that will supposedly ensure that federal dollars do not directly pay for elective abortions. She wrote that the amendment is being misrepresented to avoid the objections of Americans, only 13 percent of whom reportedly want health care reform legislation to fund abortions.
“The only honest way to maintain the status quo is to add a provision modeled after the Hyde Amendment to any health-care reform that becomes law,” Yoest added.
“If Democrats really want to maintain the abortion status quo, they would drop the Capps Amendment and add a Hyde Amendment to explicitly exclude funding abortion,” Yoest’s column concluded. “The Capps Amendment takes us toward a new era of unprecedented federal abortion funding.”
Lincoln, Neb., Oct 18, 2009 (CNA) - The Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln, Nebraska will mark 50 years of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration with a celebratory Mass on Sunday evening.
More than 436,000 consecutive hours of prayerful Eucharistic Adoration have been logged dating back to October 1, 1959, Southern Nebraska Register reports.
After Sunday’s 6 p.m. Mass at the cathedral, a special 40 Hours devotion will begin with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The following day, Msgr. Adrian Herbek will be the homilist for Benediction at 7 p.m. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz will celebrate the closing Mass Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m.
Mrs. Cassie Chandler, one of the adoration team captains, explained the inspiration behind perpetual adoration by quoting the Gospel of Mark: "Will you not watch one hour with me?" As Mrs. Chandler told the Southern Nebraska Register, "These words of Jesus on the night before His crucifixion embody the spirit of perpetual adoration."
"The unbroken chain of devotion is recorded in a collection of register books, which show hour by hour, the names of those who have watched and prayed with Jesus at their appointed hour," Mrs. Chandler said.
The idea for the devotion took hold in the Fall of 1959 because of the advocacy of a local priest. The cathedral’s predecessor, Holy Family Church, put the idea into practice.
Because the church was small, schedulers relied on non-Catholic spouses and and priests from other parishes to maintain a constant presence before the tabernacle. Men and couples were encouraged to take the nighttime hours, while women took daytime hours.
In 1965 the church was replaced by Cathedral of the Risen Christ, which was built on the same grounds.
One scheduler, the late Katherine Easley, would welcome new priests to the parish by asking them which late night hour they would take, recalled Msgr. Robert Tucker, the pastor of the Cathedral.
He told the Lincoln Star of another scheduler, the late Barb Miller, who was always concerned about finding volunteers for the overnight hours.
Whenever an hour became unfilled, she would pray to the Blessed Virgin: “Mary, you don't want your son to be alone tonight. Help me find somebody.”
“Then she would call and someone would say yes. She never worried about finding people, she always prayed about it,” the monsignor said.
When she was asked about finding adorers for the night hours, Mrs. Chandler explained,"There is a mystical aspect in perpetual adoration which is not present in partial adoration. In parishes that have abandoned the overnight hours, adoration had degenerated. Adorers sign up for daytime hours, but many never keep their hours."
While it might seem difficult – or even unfulfilling – to devote a weekly hour before the Blessed Sacrament, the Cathedral perpetual adoration team would be the first to say that a person receives far more than he or she gives during that one hour.
"The benefits to each person are immeasurable and the graces showered on our parish are the greatest gift of this program," Mrs. Chandler said.
A dinner for perpetual adorers and substitutes, past and present, will follow the close of 40 Hours. Among the honored guests will be adorers who have been part of the program since its inception: Lou Keady, Dolores Young, and Raymond and Mary Zink.
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2009 (CNA) - Tens of thousands of faithful attended the Angelus with Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square on World Mission Sunday. Pope Benedict’s words to them recalled missionaries who suffer persecution, including Father Ruggero Ruvoletto, killed in Brazil, and Father Michael Sinnot, kidnapped in the Philippines.
His message, Benedict XVI explained, was inspired by an expression from the Books of Revelation: “The nations will walk by its light.” The light is that of God, revealed by the Messiah and reflected in the Church, the Holy Father added.
“It is 'the light of the Gospel,’ that guides people towards the realization of one great family, in justice and peace, under the fatherhood of one good and merciful God,” Pope Benedict explained. “The Church exists to proclaim this message of hope to all humanity, which in our time ‘has experienced marvelous achievements but which seems to have lost its sense of ultimate realities and of existence itself.’"
The Church, he continued, feels the urgency of working to ensure that the sovereignty of Christ is fully realized. The Pontiff expounded, “All of its members and articulations cooperate in this project, according to the different states of life and charisms.”
“On this World Mission Sunday I remember the missionaries, priests, religious and laity, who devote their lives to bringing the Gospel into the world, also facing hardships and difficulties and sometimes even real persecution. I think, among others, of Father Roger Ruvoletto, a Fidei Donum priest, recently killed in Brazil, and Father Michael Sinnot, a religious, kidnapped a few days ago in the Philippines.”
Pope Benedict publicly thanked the Pontifical Missions for their valuable service rendered in animation and education to the missions and urged all Christians to a gesture of sharing, in material and spiritual help of the young, poorer local Churches.
Benedict XVI concluded by speaking about Sunday’s feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, whose Acts of the Apostles narrates “the spread of the Christian message to the ends of the known world.”
“Let us invoke his intercession, together with that of St. Francis Xavier and Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, patroness of missions, and the Virgin Mary, so that the Church may continue to spread the light of Christ among all peoples,” the Holy Father said. “I ask you also to pray for the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which in recent weeks is taking place here in the Vatican.”