A few months ago when our theme was “Food, Feasts and Gluttony” I purchased a copy of I Am the Bread of Life by Sister Suzanne Toolan and Elizabeth Dossa. Sister Suzanne is the composer of the song, as well as many others and is also a gifted teacher of music. The book is made up of a series of essays –some are biographical, others Sister Suzanne’s thoughts on topics such as Silence, Liturgy, Ritual, Celebrations, and some contain practical advice on prayer, music and liturgy.
As a Lutheran, I didn’t agree with everything in the book, but much of the material on liturgy resonated deeply with me. It’s obvious that to Sr. Suzanne, music is a spiritual practice. She took care to make sure her students understood what they were singing. She felt the music should encourage their faith. She speaks about liturgy not as something to study, but as a beloved and thoughtful discipline. Here are some of her quotes:
“A good hymn is almost instructional.”
“Entertainment or liturgy as theater has no depth to it.”
“There is a unity of spirit in the singing.”
“The Liturgy is about leading the congregation to the Real Presence.”
Sister Suzanne is an amazing woman, and anyone interested in the liturgy and music of the church will enjoy this read.