Harmony in the Parish


I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20-21)


St Ignatius of Antioch writes about unity in the Christian parish using choral imagery:

Therefore by your unity and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung. Each of you must be part of this chorus so that, being harmonious in unity, receiving God’s pitch in unison, you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father, so that he may both hear you and recognize you, through what you do well, as members of his son [1 Corinthians 12:27]. Therefore it is profitable for you to be in blameless unison, so that you may always participate in God [1 Corinthians 10:17].   (THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS, pp 78-79)


St Ignatius uses the imagery of a choir to promote unity in the  parish community – the voices in a good choir must harmonize and blend together to create the beauty of music.  Somewhat ironically, in the modern parish some think the choir is a hotbed for discord and conflict.  This may partially be true due to the fact that many in the parish come and go with little real interaction with other parishioners and so have few reasons to be in conflict.  On the other hand, in the choir members must interact on many levels which can create conflict, criticisms, tension and even competition between singers.  So the opportunity for disunity is greater in the choir because members actually have to pay attention to one another, even critically in order to improve.


The imagery of a beautiful choir harmoniously singing is still a good one for how all parishioners should be working together with one another to create a desired symphony among the membership.