Meeting with the cantors in the courtyard of San Dámaso 3-31-1981
St. John Paul II
In the courtyard of San Dámaso. Rome, March 31, 1981
More than three thousand cantor-psalmists from many Neocatechumenal Communities in Italy ended yesterday afternoon the national convivence organized to prepare the songs of the Easter Vigil, finishing in the courtyard of San Dámaso in the presence of the Holy Father.
The singer-psalmists, gathered all day yesterday in a retreat in Rome, wanted to have a meeting with the Pope to offer him, through song, a sign of Christian witness and its heartfelt meaning. In the Neocatechumenal Communities, more than two thousand in all of Italy, the cantor-psalmist is one who, even though he has no gift for singing or a particular musical sensitivity, interprets the song as a prayer and conveys to others the sense of this prayer-song. Yesterday afternoon, guided by Kiko Argüello, the founder of the Neocatechumenal Communities, they offered to the Holy Father the fruit of Kiko’s intense work and preparation, playing some psalms adapted to a more modern style and some significant songs which by their execution, they hope to bring alive during the Easter Vigil, to the brothers themselves, the true hope of the Resurrection. In this regard, it was extraordinarily significant the song performed yesterday afternoon for the Pope by a group of children belonging to four Neocatechumenal Communities in Rome.
“Why,” asked these children who were four to six years old- “is this night different? Why do we go to bed every night after having dinner, and tonight we are up late and have been fasting? Why on other nights we expect nothing and this night are we waiting for someone? Is it that this night is different from all other?” The entire community responds by singing the joy of Resurrection.
“Thus,” Kiko explained to the Holy Father, “we will live our Easter together with our brothers and our children.”
The Holy Father, once the songs were finished, wanted to thank them for the meeting he so strongly desired and the testimony that, with their songs, they came to bring him.
“I want you to prepare well for this great mystery of the Paschal Night. The Church -said the Holy Father, later- prepares to celebrate the Paschal Night of the Lord, the night of his Resurrection, throughout this whole period of Lent. It does it so that the Lord find our hearts ready, mature, mature at his mystery, mature to his love. It is certainly with the testimony of the Word of God and with gestures of love that we should mature for this night and for this definitive love that has been revealed in the Paschal Night. So I wish you to prepare well for this great mystery, which is at the center of our faith, and is also at the center of the history of man and the universe. I have met you other times in different Roman parishes and I hope that in these parishes you collaborate with the priests and also with the bishops in the sectors of the diocese of Rome, with the Cardinal Vicar, for this is how you affirm your paschal enthusiasm. Easter is the day of the Church. In the Church, as a whole, in your life we must look for a space, an authentic space for our religious enthusiasm and for our apostolate. I would like to thank you for your visit, for all these very beautiful religious songs, and sung with great strength, with great enthusiasm. I thank you for this visit and I bless you all, I bless your families and your children, these who took part in a very special and very beautiful way this afternoon.
I would still like to say a special word for all those near you who suffer: transmit this word, this memory of the Pope to all of them, because spiritually I hold them very close, since they participate in a special way in the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and thus participating in the mystery of His Passion, they prepare us for his Easter. Finally I want to bless you also blessing all the people that, in Rome and also in all the other cities of Italy and outside of Italy, they are loved by you.”