Catholic recording artist urges taking the long way to the summit

08 November 2010

Appears in: Archdiocesan News

Janelle Reinhart says the liturgy should foster participation.

Laurie Skreslet is the first Canadian to climb Mount Everest. His adventure took five years to plan, cost $3 million and used 27 tons of equipment. It took him more than four months of climbing to reach the summit.

Skreslet was a pioneer in his field. About half of the 23 Canadians to climb the world’s highest mountain since him were essentially dragged to the top by guides.

Another man to reach the summit of Mount Everest was a French pilot, Didier Delsalle. He landed his helicopter on the summit, and stayed there for four minutes, then descended.

“Now tell me, of these two men who reached the top of Everest, which one appreciated the summit the most – the man who made the long journey or the man who just landed his helicopter?” asked Janelle Reinhart.

Reinhart led a session on The Liturgy: How to Get People to Engage Oct. 29 at the TRACE conference, an annual event for Catholic educators, held this year at the Lloydminster Exhibition.

The Eucharist, she said, is the source and the summit of the Christian life. Everything Catholics do is in preparation for celebration of the Eucharist. It means always keeping the end in mind.

Why do Catholics serve the needy at soup kitchens on Friday? Why do they do service projects? Why do they teach young children how to pray at Mass? These things are done to experience the fullness of Christian life. In the context of the Catholic faith, that means consuming and being consumed by Christ.


“When we approach the summit of our liturgy, are you more like the mountain climber or the helicopter pilot?” asked Reinhart. She encouraged people to maximize their faith experience by coming to Mass with a proper disposition and being active participants.

Reinhart is a Juno Award nominee, best known for her Christian pop music. She sang and recorded the World Youth Day theme song and sang it for Pope John Paul II in 2002.

Brianna Wells, Robyn Powers and Delaine Ukrainetz were among the local youth who led the music at the Oct. 29 Mass during the annual TRACE conference.

The base camp of one’s faith experience is a personal encounter with Christ, she said. Camps along the way include contemplative prayer, personal devotions (rosary, novenas, spiritual readings), group prayer and study, apostolic works and the sacraments. The summit is the Eucharist.

Reinhart offered some questions for reflection, “What has been my summit experience of the Eucharist? Have I made the effort to climb to the summit or have guides simply dragged me up the mountain? What camp should I spend more time in to enrich my summit experience?”

The purpose of liturgy is that it is a public experience and not a private one. Liturgy comes from the Greek word, leitourgia, which translates literally into a public duty.

“Vatican II calls for full and conscious, active participation of the assembly. Everything that takes place within the context of the liturgy must be done in a way that fosters participation,” said Reinhart.

Preparing oneself is the best place to start when trying to achieve active participation at Mass.

“When you read convicted, the message gets across to a place that resonates in somebody’s heart, and that’s what we want to do,” said Reinhart.

For musicians, this might entail prayerfully choosing appropriate songs, working out arrangements and harmonies in advance, tuning instruments and tuning one’s heart.

“As musicians, we are the soundtracks of Mass,” she said.


Introducing songs beforehand offers hospitality and says, “Your singing matters to us.” It helps foster full, conscious, active participation. Reinhart mentioned a parish that posted songs on its website.

“People could actually log on and listen for the week before the songs that would be played at Mass on Sunday. It’s a pretty cool idea because then everybody can be familiar with the songs. It’s cool that we have this technology available,” said Reinhart.

Music ministers must be astute to what is appropriate music for Mass. Common pitfalls with music ministries are immodest dress, lyrical content that fosters a God-and-me relationship, and an attitude of pride, she said.