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Cardinal presides over 'symphonic homage and prayer' at Symphony Hall


Conductor of the Orchestra and Choir of the Neocatechumenal Way, Pau Jorquera, leads the choir and audience members in singing the Jewish prayer "Shema Yisrael" during the "symphonic homage and prayer" entitled "The Suffering of the Innocents" May 6 at Boston's Symphony Hall. The celebration, presided over by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, was an homage to all innocent victims and especially those of the Holocaust. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

BOSTON -- Boston's Symphony Hall served as a meeting point for representatives of the Catholic and Jewish communities of Boston May 6, as more than 2,000 people gathered to hear a "symphonic homage and prayer" entitled "The Suffering of the Innocents" presided over by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley.

The symphony was composed by Kiko Arguello, one of the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way, an itinerary of formation within the Catholic Church. According to Arguello, he began to compose the symphony in 2010 as an homage to all innocent victims and especially those of the Holocaust, known among the Jewish people as the "Shoah."

The symphony was first performed for Pope Benedict XVI in 2011. Since then, it has become a catalyst between the Jewish and Catholic community, having been performed several times in Israel.

"At first, I didn't imagine how the Lord was going to use the symphony," Arguello said. "Now we have come to understand that the Lord wants to use us to get (the Church) closer to the Jewish people."

The May 6 performance was the U.S. premiere of the symphony, which was also to be performed in New York and Chicago.

Performed by the Orchestra and Choir of the Neocatechumenal Way under the leadership of conductor Pau Jorquera, the 196 professional musicians and singers are all members of the Neocatechumenal Way who donate their time and talent to perform the symphony free of charge. The group relies on voluntary donations for travel and production costs.

In Boston, a number of complimentary tickets were offered to each parish as well as Pastoral Center staff and representatives of the Jewish community.

"We are not only here to attend a concert, but a symphonic catechetical celebration," said Arguello addressing the audience before the performance.

Speaking in his native Spanish, Arguello said, "This symphony wants to pay homage to all the innocents in the world...above all to pay homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary."

"I present to you a small musical composition which I would like to be celebratory as well as catechetical," Arguello continued, "on the suffering of the innocent, on the suffering of the Virgin."

"Many say that after the horror of Auschwitz it is no longer possible to believe in God," he said. "No! It is not true. God became man to carry upon himself the suffering of all those innocent ones."

"With these musical strokes we would like to celebrate together," he said. "I hope it may touch your hearts profoundly."

The event began with the proclamation of two Scripture readings followed by the symphony itself, which was divided into five movements: "Gethsemani," recalling Jesus' time of prayer before the crucifixion; "Lamento," recalling the Virgin at the foot of the cross; "Perdonales," recalling Jesus' forgiveness for his killers from the cross; "Espada," the sword that pierces the Virgin Mary's soul, and "Resurrexit," reflecting on the resurrection of Christ.

In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley reflected on the theme of suffering.

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