Friday was a day of amazing music in NYC, starting with Pope Francis at Ground Zero. It started with the amazing voice of cantor, Azi Schwartz, and ended with Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s dramatic, and magnificent return to the Metropolitan Opera. Then again the finest music in the world can be found, right there in NYC. I feel a little homesick. Once upon a time, when my mother and I had a subscription to the Met, this would be the night we would be there, left, second row, sitting right in front of actor John Saxon, who had the same night.
Anyway, Azi Schwartz is the Cantor and Music Director of Park Avenue Synagogue in NYC. He has a YouTube Channel. How often do I rant and rave about a tenor? He’s worth ranting and raving about. His voice brings tears. I noticed, at the end of the service, the Holy Father made it a point to speak to him. Of course he would. He’s an opera freak. An opera freak knows a good voice when we hear one.
I always associate music with faith. I think since the beginning of the Judeo-Christian religion it has been a vital part of worship and praise, as well as lament. This week, music has been used as part of what I can only call a national revival brought to you by the Vatican. For the cynics among us, after watching what has happened this week, witnessing it from afar, and seeing the effect on people I know, I now truly believe there are times when the selection of the Holy Father is up to the Lord. This country has needed what I can only call a national exorcism. We’re bogged down in hate and vitriol. For a brief shining moment, this humble man has erased that nastiness and given us hope.
Our country is divided by something truly dark and almost evil. I’ve never seen such divisiveness and such hate. For awhile I was blaming it all on the far right, but I can’t, not anymore. The left is becoming toxic. There is something truly wrong here, a disturbance in the Force, to to speak. The worst of human nature is peeking out, pretending to be politically correct. The basic freedoms we have known are being threatened so that people won’t get upset, have their feelings hurt, and maybe be required to face something they consider unpleasant. By avoiding reality, they are destroying our freedoms.
Among the freedoms being destroyed are those enjoyed by Christians. I did not think so, until recently. I have since learned that there are truly absurd individuals out there ‘militant atheists’ who are attempting to destroy anything Christians believe. We are being bullied, stalked, and threatened – and that’s just online, for expressing our faith. This week, they have been strangely silent. It won’t last.
Watching the Pope this week has reminded me that our nation has lost something special. Both parties, Democrats and Republicans are to blame. Liberals and conservatives are to blame. So is the religious right, for turning us into cynics. I just wonder how long the goodwill spread by Pope Francis will last.