Instructions on how to assemble a piece of furniture are most useful to me if they are in English. I need to be able to fully understand and comprehend them in order to assemble said piece of furniture. Liturgy, on the other hand, is not an instruction manual to help us “assemble” the sacred mysteries into something we can comprehend. The paschal mystery is an unsolvable puzzle! It is, by design, mysterious. In this regard, the mass is the most important tool we have to help us ponder the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and nurture our relationship with Christ and each other.
Music has a unique ability to shed light on the very things that elude us and can help us consider the Paschal Mystery, and the scriptures. When we sing something in Latin or Greek, we may not fully understand the text – but consider the fact that we might not fully understand the text even if it were in English. Instead of struggling with understanding, let the music heighten your prayer and consider the connection to our ancestors in the faith – who also pondered the Paschal Mystery, and had the same questions and lack of answers – just in a different language. If you listen to the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requeim, I can assure you that you will be moved to tears and hear God speak – and you won’t understand a word of it.