Retreat connects the dots between music, the liturgy and the New Evangelization

Music within the Church has a much deeper theological meaning than some may realize, and an upcoming retreat at Holy Name Parish in Denver seeks to explore this concept.

On July 23, Holy Name will host a music retreat entitled “O Beauty So Ancient and New” aimed at exploring the relationship between sacred music, liturgy and the New Evangelization. The retreat will feature prayer, adoration, fellowship, practical training in traditional Gregorian chant, and a keynote talk by Illuminare Publications president and editor, and Holy Name parishioner, Adam Bartlett.

Bartlett has an extensive background teaching, speaking and writing about liturgical music, and as a former music director and assistant director of the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, Bartlett has spent much of his career exploring the true function of liturgical music within the church, and he said that understanding this is more of a theological matter than anything else.

“When we talk about the purpose of the music of the liturgy, really we’re asking a theological question,” Bartlett said. “Before we can talk about the form that the music takes in the liturgy, we have to understand the reality that the music is trying to make present within the liturgical context.

Adam Bartlett, president of Illuminare Publications, will serve as the keynote speaker of a retreat exploring the relationship between sacred music, the liturgy and the New Evangelization at Holy Name Parish on July 23. (Photo provided)

Adam Bartlett, president of Illuminare Publications, will serve as the keynote speaker of a retreat exploring the relationship between sacred music, the liturgy and the New Evangelization at Holy Name Parish on July 23. (Photo provided)

“We want to affirm everything within its proper place, its proper role, and understand that all these things should work together for the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful,” he said. “That’s what I hope this workshop is going to help showcase.”

Bartlett, along with Holy Name pastor Father Daniel Cardó, conceptualized this retreat as a means to educate people about what the Church teaches about different forms of music, as well as to promote the essential place of music within the relationship between the New Evangelization and the holy liturgy.

The retreat, Bartlett said, will explore the connection between “deep fruitful participation in the liturgy,” as the Second Vatican Council urged, and the Church’s mission to evangelize, especially in light of the New Evangelization.

“Within that,” he continued, “We’re going to explore the way music functions within the different areas of the Church’s life, and even within the culture at large.”

The retreat is open to anyone who may be interested.

“This is really for everyone, and I think everyone should come,” Father Cardó said. “Not only those who[…]have training or talent, this is really an event for everyone to understand the connection between liturgy, music and the New Evangelization.”

Holy Name Music Retreat

July 23rd – 9 a.m.
Holy Name Parish
3290 W. Milan Ave.
Englewood, CO

COMING UP: A beautiful origin: FOCUS initiative seeks to evangelize through beauty

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A new initiative within the Fellowship of Catholic University Students is bringing beauty to the forefront of evangelization.

Dubbed simply as “A Beauty Initiative within FOCUS,” this initiative seeks to encourage the collective talents of FOCUS missionaries, especially those who are artists, and utilize them as a means of evangelization. Serving as the starting point for the initiative is Origin, an album of beautiful worship music performed by the FOCUS worship team.

The idea for Origin and the beauty initiative as a whole was planted at last year’s SEEK conference in Nashville. Shaun Garrison and Leah Sedlacek are among a group of musicians that lead worship for the conference each year, but they said last year in particular was especially powerful. They were a part of a great line up of musicians, not only in terms of musical ability, but also in prayerfulness and in the ability to trust and rely on one another. 

The FOCUS worship team released an album of worship music called Origin at the beginning of the year. The project is a piece of a greater beauty initiative within FOCUS that seeks to encourage artists to find ways to awaken their gifts within the context of the Catholic Church, as well as use beauty as a method of evangelization. (Photo provided)

The FOCUS worship team released an album of worship music called Origin at the beginning of the year. The project is a piece of a greater beauty initiative within FOCUS that seeks to encourage artists to find ways to awaken their gifts within the context of the Catholic Church, as well as use beauty as a method of evangelization. (Photo provided)

Sedlacek recalled taking out her in-ear monitors during their performance of “Be Thou My Vision” and being taken aback by the unity of worshipping voices. It was so beautiful, she said, that she was moved to tears.

“I just started crying. It was so beautiful, this intimacy of singing to Our Lord together,” she said. “I think there I felt the power of the Holy Spirit bonding the band together that was then helping people to be bonded together as the body of Christ to worship.”

“The Holy Spirit was just moving through the music in a way that none of us had experienced,” Garrison said. “All of us were amazed in that moment to be a part of it, but also saddened to think that the reality is we’re only together for seven days a year.”

Garrison and Sedlacek felt as though the Lord was stirring something in them to do more. They drafted a proposal for the beauty initiative, the first step of which was organizing a retreat with the FOCUS worship team and creating an album of music.

Garrison and Sedlacek, along with the rest of the worship team and a few kindhearted volunteers, retreated to a cabin in Buena Vista for five days and held the recording sessions for what would become Origin. The album consists of reinterpretations of old hymns, some modern worship songs as well as a couple of original songs written by some of the musicians involved.

Beauty is something that washes over a person and creeps into the cracks that need God’s presence. It’s a very soft way of evangelization, which then brings [people] to a point where they can open their heart and hear the truth.”

The late-night recording sessions and intense creative output made for an exhausting experience, they said, but one that was unforgettable. All of the musicians felt as though it was a dream come true, being holed up in a cabin for five days and creating music together, and the higher purpose of the project motivated and led them to create something special.

“It was for the Lord, it was for something greater, and I think that was an intangible thing that was present,” Sedlacek said.

Garrison and Sedlacek explained that the ultimate goal for Origin and everything else that falls within this beauty initiative in the future is two-fold: to reach people using beauty as a means of evangelization, and also to encourage other artists to awaken their unique gifts and talents and discover how they fit within the context of the Catholic Church.

“Evangelization is not a method; it’s not something you do. It’s who you are,” Garrison said. “Every single person has a unique calling. The main goal of any of this is not music, it’s to become saints. Music just happens to be the language with which we’re speaking of God’s goodness.”

Though it began with an album of worship music, the beauty initiative within FOCUS is not limited solely to musicians; it’s for any person who seeks to reach people and change hearts by means of beautiful things.

“You can’t help but be moved by beautiful things. They can make you pause and bring you into those deeper questions,” Sedlacek said. “Beauty is something that washes over a person and creeps into the cracks that need God’s presence. It’s a very soft way of evangelization, which then brings [people] to a point where they can open their heart and hear the truth.”

Origin is available for purchase digitally on iTunesAmazon or Bandcamp, or on CD at shopfocus.org

Origin musician line-up: Shaun Garrison - guitar, vocals Jessy Kaufman - vocals, bgv Leah Sedlacek - violin, bgv JohnMarc Skoch - guitar, vocals, bgv Sonny Fortunato - keyboard Kenny Kohlhaas - guitar, vocals Sarah Kroger - vocals, bgv James Rosenbloom - cello, banjo, mandolin Edwin Trahan - bass guitar Tom Veitch - drums, percussion Produced and engineered by Shawn Williams

Origin musician line-up:
Shaun Garrison – guitar, vocals
Jessy Kaufman – vocals, bgv
Leah Sedlacek – violin, bgv
JohnMarc Skoch – guitar, vocals, bgv
Sonny Fortunato – keyboard
Kenny Kohlhaas – guitar, vocals
Sarah Kroger – vocals, bgv
James Rosenbloom – cello, banjo, mandolin
Edwin Trahan – bass guitar
Tom Veitch – drums, percussion
Produced and engineered by Shawn Williams

FOCUS Origin

Watch a video about how Origin came to be: http://focus.org/origin

To learn more about the mission of FOCUS, visit http://focus.org