November 08, 2016
Fr Julian Tenison Woods understood harmony in music.
Music was very much part of his life. His Uncle Nicholas, who lived with the family for some time at West Square, London, was a gifted musician and encouraged an interest in music in the young Woods boys. Julian learnt to play the piano and continued to play both piano and organ throughout his life. He was the only organist in the Marist Fathers College at La Seyne in France. At Penola there was a harmonium in the church and every evening that he was home he played the music of great ecclesiastical composers. He was also fond of singing and, when visiting homes in his parish, often provided music for the entertainment of family and guests.
Fr Julian saw harmony in nature:
There is an echo in the harmonies of nature which penetrates the soul and lures it on like the sound of distant music, until it has no eye or ear for aught except the works of its Creator (Quoted by Fr Julian)
Fr Julian urged the Sisters to live in harmony:
We are but instruments held in the hands of God and must never act as if we were more
(Book of Instructions 1870)
In a musical instrument we see if some, or if only one, of the chords go wrong, the rest in some way suffer from it.
We know at once what is wrong by the sound these suffering chords make, until it is repaired and harmony restored again…So, all pull together, and all be one in mind and spirit.
(Instruction to Sisters of Perpetual Adoration 30 Nov 1880)
Living in harmony with nature and with God gives us full happiness and purpose (1887)
Pope Francis, too, understands harmony in music and speaks of harmony in the Church:
Let us think about the image of a symphony, which implies accord, harmony, various instruments playing together. Each one preserves its own unmistakable timbre and the sounds characteristic of each blend together around a common theme. Then there is the one who directs it, the conductor, and as the symphony is performed all play together in “harmony”, but the timbre of each individual instrument is never eliminated; indeed, the uniqueness of each is greatly enhanced! It is a beautiful image which tells us that the Church is like a great orchestra in which there is great variety. We are not all the same and we do not all have to be the same. We are all different, varied, each of us with his own special qualities.
And this is the beauty of the Church: everyone brings his own gift, which God has given him, for the sake of enriching others. And between the various components there is diversity; however, it is a diversity that does not enter into conflict and opposition. It is a variety that allows the Holy Spirit to blend it into harmony. He is the true “Maestro”. He is harmony. And here let us ask ourselves: in our communities do we live in harmony or do we argue amongst ourselves? …
The Church is everyone in harmony: never gossip about others, never argue! Let us accept others, let us accept that there is a fitting variety, that this person is different, that this person thinks about things in this way or that — that within one and the same faith we can think about things differently — or do we tend to make everything uniform? But uniformity kills life. The life of the Church is variety, and when we want to impose this uniformity on everyone we kill the gifts of the Holy Spirit
(General Audience, October 2013)
Where do I find harmony today - in my life, in nature, in the Church?
Sr Carmel Jones rsj