Archbishop Kurtz blesses pastoral musicians

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz extended his arm as he said a special prayer for pastoral musicians who were present at a Blessing of Musicians service Dec. 16 and to all pastoral musicians throughout the Archdiocese of Louisville. The service took place at Holy Family Church, 3938 Poplar Level Road. (Record Photo By Ruby Thomas)

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz offered a special prayer for pastoral musicians during a “Blessing of Musicians” Dec. 16, telling them they are to sing with gratitude in their hearts.

At the service, held at Holy Family Church, Archbishop Kurtz said he was offering the blessing to musicians, “young and old, in every corner of the Archdiocese of Louisville.”

The service was recorded and will be offered via the Zoom video conference platform Jan. 11 at 6 p.m., so musicians across the archdiocese will be able to receive the blessing.

Anna McGreevey, a member of St. Bernadette Church, sang along to the closing hymn, “How Can I Keep From Singing,” during a Blessing of the Musicians service at Holy Family Church, 3938 Poplar Level Road, Dec. 16. (Record Photo By Ruby Thomas)

To reserve a place for the blessing, contact Martha Price Richardson at marthapricerichardson@gmail.com. She is the co-director of the local chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, which is organizing the musicians for the archbishop’s blessing. The recording will also be made available to Catholic schools said Price Richardson.

During his homily, Archbishop Kurtz told the small congregation that he tried out, but didn’t make it into the choir in seminary. The music director reminded the seminarians who weren’t accepted into the choir that they should still “sing with all your heart,” said the archbishop.

“I am thinking of all of you pastoral musicians in all circumstances who are singing with all your heart,” said Archbishop Kurtz.

Jacob Priddy, a member of St. Bartholomew Church, played the piano during a Blessing of Musicians service at Holy Family Church, 3938 Poplar Level Road, Dec. 16. (Record Photo By Ruby Thomas)

He called his listeners’ attention to the Gospel reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians.

“St. Paul says in his letter to the Colossians, sing with gratitude in your heart. And later he said, because the Word of God, he didn’t say ‘is heard by you,’ he said the Word of God dwells within you. Sing with gratitude in your heart because the Word of God dwells within you,” said the archbishop. “What a great gift it is to be a pastoral musician.”

Pilgrims often receive a blessing before heading out on their journey, said Archbishop Kurtz, noting that in Pope Francis’ new book “Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future,” the Holy Father discusses the difference between a pilgrim and a tourist.
Pope Francis says that a “tourist goes on vacation but usually then returns to the same dull routine he left. … A pilgrim on the other hand always has a new horizon,” said Archbishop Kurtz.

“In many many ways, you and I are called, as the Holy Father says, to be pilgrims on the way. The blessing that we receive is the blessing often given to pilgrims who are on a journey. And this is the journey in which — throughout the year, not simply in Easter season — our hearts sing hallelujah as St. Augustine said years ago,” said Archbishop Kurtz. “We are not simply leading song, we’re singing from our hearts and we are singing with gratitude for the blessings that we have seen.”

Madeline Everett, a student at Assumption High School, sang the opening hymn, “The God of All Grace,” during a Blessing of Musicians service at Holy Family Church, 3938 Poplar Level Road, Dec. 16. (Record Photo By Ruby Thomas)

The archbishop reminded those in attendance that even during the pandemic, it’s possible to sing with gratitude in one’s heart.

“In the midst of COVID-19, I hear people talking about the new normal. You’ve probably heard this, too. I almost get the impression that they’re saying the new normal is going to be ratcheted down; somehow the new normal is going to be less than the old normal,” said Archbishop Kurtz.

The pandemic, he said, may present a new opportunity for gratitude.

“So when we sing with gratitude in our hearts, it’s because COVID is giving you and me the opportunity for what you might call purified priorities,” he said. “We are going to look at the blessings of life in a much more grateful way than we did before this pandemic.”

In closing, Archbishop Kurtz shared with his listeners the African proverb, “When You Pray, Move Your Feet.”

“ ‘When You Pray Move Your Feet.’ Can you see the pilgrim coming forward? Well, when we sing throughout this year of 2021, when we move our feet as pilgrims, it’s because the Word of God, Jesus Christ, is dwelling in our hearts and because of it our songs are the deepest form of prayer. … Even this early in the year we sing hallelujah,” said Archbishop Kurtz.

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