Friday, July 24, 2015

A Soul That Shouts. By: Margaret Felice

Today's guest is Margaraet Felice. I met Margaret through social media and am pleased that she was happy to share this post today. Her blog is a place where she genuinely shares the beauty of her heart. More on Margaret and where to find her below,

One occupational hazard for a church musician is that we rarely come across traditional hymns that are new to us: we’ve literally heard it all before. But just a few years ago I got the gift of a new Advent/Christmas hymn when I heard Gabriel’s Message for the first time. I like the tune (when it’s not done too slowly!), the refrain is catchy, and the poetry is above-average.

Like many singers, I have the capacity – either enviable or regrettable – to sing on auto-pilot while thinking about any number of things (for instance, I once discovered I could sing the entire Halleluiah Chorus from memory while deciding what to have for dinner). Not long ago, during Advent, I found myself analyzing the text to Gabriel’s Message while I sang. “Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head/to me be as it pleaseth God, she said.” At the word “meek” I groaned, thankfully silently, since I was singing into a microphone.

“Mary was that mother mild.” “A Virgin pure both meek and mild/In Bethlehem brought forth her Child” “gentle Mary laid her child”… Many of our hymns and images present Mary in a submissive light. Though the reality is that she submitted to God’s will, there are plenty of problems with the relentless stereotyping of Mary as uniformly docile and tame. Do we really believe a shrinking violet would have had the nerve to do what she did?

The text that always leads me back to Mary is the Magnificat, an unapologetically bold declaration of praise. This is a saint I can get behind. She boldly proclaims God’s greatness, she states her theology clearly and without apology, and it’s a pretty safe bet that she shared that same theology with her son.

The ideal woman being meek and submissive may seem like an anachronism, but we’ve kept her alive in our religious iconography, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I’m sick of it. Give me a role model who questions an angel, bravely says yes, deals with a life lived in the rumor mill, does some bossy maneuvering at a wedding to restock the bar, and proclaims God’s praise and promises. When my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord it doesn’t do so timidly – my soul shouts, and there’s a possibility that Mary’s did too.

Margaret Felice is a religious educator and professional singer living in Boston. A version of this post originally appeared on Facebook: MargaretAFelice. Twitter: margaretfelice

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully said Margaret! It was Mary who called me back to church, a journey that I made rather reluctantly, in 1990. What a struggle I had with all the "little lady dressed in blue" notion. The Magnificat is such a powerful way to undo that idea! It is always helpful for me to remember that apparently, in the 80's, during the military dictatorship in Guatemala, public recitation of the Magnificat was prohibited. Power rising up from the roots is like that, isn't it? It does not need weapons, truth and grace are its own force. Peace.