Were You There When the Sun Refused to Shine?


Sometimes a line in a song cuts straight to the heart.  I feel it with the National Anthem (and the rockets’ red glare…), The Celtic Farewell (may holy angels be there at your welcoming, and all the saints who go before you there), and Were You There?  For me it’s verse 4, “were you there when the sun refused to shine?”  What event could be so profoundly tragic that the earth itself, even the sun, would go into mourning?  Only the death of God, its beloved Creator.

According to the gospel of Palm Sunday, Luke 22:14-23:56, “It was about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun.  Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.  Jesus…breathed his last.”(NAB)


Both the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus and the pagan Roman historian Tacitus confirm the crucifixion of Jesus in their writings, but historians disagree about the truth of the other phenomena during and after Jesus’ death.  Several apocryphal gospels agree with the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), attesting to the eclipse, earthquakes and the resurrection and appearance of dead saints in Jerusalem.  Dionysius the Areopagite, witnessing the eclipse from Heliopolis writes, “Either the Creator of all the world now suffers, or this visible world is coming to an end.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_eclipse. Historian Sextus Julius Africanus denies the possibility of an eclipse at Passover, which is held during the full moon, because a solar eclipse can only happen during a new moon. Though he goes on to quote the records of Phlegon, chronicalling a solar eclipse at full moon during the reign of Tiberius. Eusebius also quotes Phlegon connecting an earthquake with the same eclipse. Tertullian and Lucian of Antioch both imply that evidence of this darkness still existed in Roman records during their time. 


Paulus Orosius, historian and student of St. Augustine of Hippo, writes in his “The Seven Books of History Against the Pagans”, ” that Jesus “voluntarily gave himself over to the Passion but through the impiety of the Jews, was apprehended and nailed to the cross, as a very great earthquake took place throughout the world, rocks upon mountains were split, and a great many parts of the largest cities fell by this extraordinary violence. On the same day also, at the sixth hour of the day, the Sun was entirely obscured and a loathsome night suddenly overshadowed the land, as it was said, ‘an impious age feared eternal night.’ Moreover, it was quite clear that neither the Moon nor the clouds stood in the way of the light of the Sun, so that it is reported that on that day the Moon, being fourteen days old, with the entire region of the heavens thrown in between, was farthest from the sight of the Sun, and the stars throughout the entire sky shone, then in the hours of the day or rather in that terrible night. To this, not only the authority of the Holy Gospels attest, but even some books of the Greeks.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_eclipse.

So what do all these interesting writings have to do with faith? Just that I find it utterly sad, when meditating on the Crucifixion, that even creation mourned the death of Christ.

Were you there?

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Julie Carrick – Living The Faith Boldly

Year of Faith Events – Carrick Ministries

Julie Carrick sang her first solo at the age of 5.  Since then, she has devoted her life and her music to Jesus.  Even after surviving a rare form of lung cancer a few years ago, Julie continues to minister and share her faith with Catholics all over the world.  We were recently blessed to once again host one of Julie’s fantastic missions:  Living Our Catholic Creed.  

One thing you will notice about Julie is that she is humble and transparent.  She shares freely of her own pain and her own joy.  Her music flows from a wellspring of experience throughout her life.

She proudly tells of how her husband of nearly 30 years bore witness to his Catholic faith to a co-worker.

She shares her agony upon learning that her daughter had been raped and subsequently became pregnant.  Her daughter Edel’s courage in accepting and embracing that new life is also a part of Carrick Ministries.

She shares her own story of temptation, when she has to make a choice between a lucrative recording contract with “stipulations” and her own morals and values.

Throughout the evening, Julie performs her award winning compositions, as well as classic hymns, interweaving inspiration with quotes from St. Teresa of Avila and an attentive reading of the Creed. 

This mini concert/mission is perfect for the “Year of Faith”.  You will truly be inspired to live your faith boldly, taking a stand for marriage, for life, and for what “We Believe”.

For more information on Carrick Ministries, available concert and event dates and to order Julie’s recordings, see Carrick Ministries.

No compensation was received for this review.

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Simple Music Guidelines

Mass confusion.  That’s what music for Mass seems to be these days.  Catholic liturgical music has gone from chant, to folksy, to rock ‘n’ roll, to chaos.  Well, maybe chaos is too extreme a word.  Whatever happened to good old-fashioned guidelines?  Is it just assumed that we know what we’re doing?  If music is the least of the priorities of those who issue guidelines for the Mass, then something is seriously wrong, because there is an awful lot of music in the liturgy.  There are at least four hymns and half a dozen sung responses.

Much is left to the discretion of the music director, which is as it should be, ideally.  My question is, where does the music director turn for direction?  As organist and music director for two small town rural parishes, which share one priest with a third small town parish, I have been searching for over a decade for guidelines in choosing hymns and settings for our services.  I do the usual:  read the readings, psalm and gospel, choose applicable hymns from the missalette and hymnal, try and be consistent with the music for the responses.  With all the choices available, it can get overwhelming.  In my youth, we had a teen group that would play for the teen Mass.  I do believe we occasionally made some inappropriate choices in the music we played for Mass in the name of keeping it “upbeat and lively”.  I now have a totally different perspective of what kind of music is in order for our most sacred of services.

This is where I get lots of feedback.  Even though most of our congregation does not sing no matter what type of music is played, some will not hesitate to inform me that the songs were:  “wonderful as usual” (thank God you didn’t notice all my goofs), “boring old hymns” (if the words to “Immaculate Mary” bore you, maybe you need a little focus and meditation), “songs we don’t know” (really?  This is the 100th time we’ve done “Be Not Afraid” out of the missalette and you don’t know it?), “too much Spanish” (1/2 and 1/2, alternating, for a bilingual Mass), the Our Father is supposed to be said, not sung (still waiting for the final word on this).  Yet the Diocese, for all its’ concern with Safe Environment, annulments, fundraising appeals and the New Translation (overly hyped I think), does not seem to think liturgical music worthy of being addressed.  Ah, so I guess this is just part of my personal spiritual journey.

So as I continue to search for answers to the all-pervading question of what to play for Mass this Sunday, I will read the blogs of other church musicians, occasionally check the diocesan website for information, and network wherever I can, to see what other music directors are doing.  And in the end, I’ll make sure and clear it with my pastor.  Meanwhile, Holy Spirit guide me, and help me to choose music that will soften the peoples’ hearts and lift their spirits.

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