Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Bach's Easter Salvation-gift



To be on this planet is to know advances and setbacks, ups and downs, high points and low points.: Church, nation, community, family and each of us as individuals. Sometimes the setbacks and low points are very terrible, and so we look for a way to keep from going under. The  survival life-method might be frivolous, foolish, wasteful or even dangerous. Sometimes creative and life-giving. 

The 1960's was a very difficult time for me. The Church was spinning around in change and my own family had entered a very bad time. An evil person who had been admitted as a guide and friend brought ruin with him. I was terribly distracted, failing and lonely in school and even alienated from my siblings. 

Fortunately, we were allowed to leave the school building at lunch time. And so to escape the isolation and pain of the cafeteria I would walk fifteen minutes to the local public library, bump around in the stacks for another fifteen minutes and then return to school just in time for the bell. 

I remember the precise moment when flipping through the library's collection of vinyl records, Michelangelo's Pieta appeared and the title "Bach's Easter Oratorio." I didn't know Bach. I didn't know Oratorio, but I did know the image of Mary holding her dead Son on her lap after his being taken down from the cross. 

So I brought the album home and listened and listened to this over the top music ~ the libretto in German: "Kommt, eilet und laufet"

Come, hurry and run, you speedy feet,
reach the cavern which conceals Jesus!
Laughter and merriment (jokes)
accompanies our hearts,
since our Savior is risen again.

So ~ in a world of chaos and darkness, too often seeming more down than up, I've found a new release/remake of the 1958 recording I discovered in the library that day and which held me together through some of  the deepest and the worst. I'm pleased to offer here the instrumental introduction (sinfonia) and some Easter images for your eyes.

Maybe listen a second or third time with eyes closed. It's easier to ponder the salvation that way. Salvation not meaning, "Oh, get me to heaven" but the cry from within, "Get me out of this inner bad neighborhood, off this inner wrong road." 

All of this is pure joy! Brilliant with an inner light for us. Doesn't the world need something we can call pure joy!

The complete recording: 1958 Johann Sebastian Bach "Kommt, Eilet und Laufet" BWV 249 Easter Oratorio Stuttgarter Bach-Choir, Marcel Couraud







26 comments:

  1. Beautiful story. Beautiful music. Beautiful images. Beautiful message. Thank you for it all.

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  2. This is truly a testament to the man and priest you are. Your ability to be so honest and open about your painful memories just warms my heart and your triumphant salvation is a lesson for us all. Healing comes from unexpected places sometimes when we aren't even looking for it.

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    1. Right! Rather mindlessly flipping through stacks of vinyl records. God follows us!

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  3. Your video really brings us the story of Jesus' descent into Hell and the dawn of a new day with the Resurrection and the offer of salvation for us all, past, present and future. The music itself is just so joyful you can't help but to be overwhelmed with happiness. Tears turned into gladness!

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  4. You start here with the Pietà, showing absolute agony, and end with such joy. Thank you for sharing your journey with us Father and for giving us this video to reflect upon. The whole post today is very well done and genuinely moving.

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  5. Have a blessed Sunday and thank you for following the posts!

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  6. You are an inspiration to us all Father Stephen.

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    1. And all along the years of my priesthood I've been surrounded by people who are inspirations and strength to me. How good God is to me!

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  7. Father, I can understand how the discovery of this record in your youth could have been a source of joy and comfort in difficult times. And now you have taken that joyful feeling and shared it with us. I find the following message seamlessly translated while watching the images go by in a perfect order: Jesus has given salvation to sinners. He forgive all with an open heart and so must we. There is great beauty in the act of forgiveness and so we must follow Jesus's example. The image of Jesus looking back telling us to come with him to salvation. What are we waiting for? Amen!!!!!! I will save this page and use it as a source of strength when resentments become too much for me.

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  8. Neat! A great deal of attention was paid to the order of the pictures!

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    1. Yes, I can tell that time and thought went into this post, as it most certainly always does. I share the sentiments of the above comment. It is a brilliant way to bring us on an Easter journey towards salvation through forgiveness. Your own journey if very touching. The bad memories shape us as well as the good. Sometimes more so. Is this part of what made you decide to become a priest? This triumph over loneliness and misery.

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    2. The bad memories or the dark, shadowy places do shape us - profoundly. The family destroyer was a priest. The devil is a spoiler. So it is something of a wonder that I became a priest at all. Anyone who knows finds it to be somewhat stunning. But it has certainly shaped how I see things.

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    3. Our experiences do profoundly shape us. A child who grows up in a bad situation learns to survive. They work out early to mask what they feel and if the pain proves beyond bearing, to dig a cave in their head and hide inside. It is stunning that one can find their way out of the darkness and seek salvation as you did. Some of us still hide in our caves.

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    4. The "salvation" I sought was a heart-desire to be safe, free, un-disturbed.

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  9. Thank you for this. I am forever grateful for your encouraging thoughts. I try to picture you telling the story and your words echo in my mind.

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  10. Father, this is a gorgeous post! I am so sorry for your childhood suffering. Unfathomable.

    I had heard that Pope Francis' favorite music is from Bach's Passion and when I learned that I, too, made a trip to my local public library to find the music. It is so deeply touching but, of course, since it's the Passion it isn't at all joyful like your selection. I shared a little something about it here: http://annebender.blogspot.com/2013/09/bachs-passions.html And this link has a video of the Pope's favorite song, Erbarme Dich (The Tears of Peter.) http://annebender.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-tears-of-peter.html

    It seems as though you and the Pope both have great musical taste! Thanks for this touching post.

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  11. Thank you. I"m off to check this out: The Tears of Peter. Bach lived during the Protestant Reformation and so he worked with his own language instead of Latin. It makes a difference when someone is living in their own language.

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  12. Being born on this planet is not a matter of choice. But we can choose to follow the path to salvation of not. What happens to those who do not choose this path? Won't they be saved also. Will they be forgiven also? I find this hard to comprehend. What makes us inherently choose good over evil?

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  13. These are good questions. For all the troubles along the way, I'm content to be me - grateful for all the ways God has led me, protected me. What happens to those who don't choose - will they be saved - will they be forgiven? God sees hearts. When I blow out the candles after Mass and the flame is gone there is this momentary and tiny glow remaining at the end of the wick. Maybe in each of us - no matter how bad it can get or how wrong-headed or unconscious we can be - there is this tiny momentary glow of goodness. I expect this isn't lost on the God of the mustard seed, the little sparrow, the lost coin. I just trust that.

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  14. wow!wow!wow!wow!wow!wow!wow! Thank you for sharing! Thank you for sharing your light!

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  15. Father, I just wanted to add to your list of lovely comments and say how wonderful this post was. Your open way of expressing yourself about the unhappiness you felt as a teenager and the way you found solace in classical music and religion is so heartwarming. And to put the video at the end to illustrate your point just shows how multifaceted your talents run. Just to be able to put it all together. What a gift you have to engage people on so many levels.

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  16. Your posts are so inspiring but this is by far your best. A joyful post filled with love and hope. Bach's symphony brings it a step up. Can't wait to buy it. Thank you for sharing. Its not easy to talk about the tragedies in our lives. Great to listen to these Jesus moments.

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  17. I love your selection of Lourdes and choice of music. Watching it and listening to the music, quiets the brain of all conflict. Peace!

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  18. Reading this has deeply touched my heart. What a wonderful sharing of both your memory as well as the music that helped you through. How joyous it must have been for the women to discover that Jesus was risen from the dead. I share in their you and in yours Father.

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  19. I don't know how I didn't see this on Sunday. It is my most favorite post you have ever done. Poignant, musical, inspiring. It touches me in every imaginable way.

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