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The Little School That Could View Comments
By By Maureen Pratt

At IHM Elementary School in Los Angeles, Arvi Cova sings out as the choir prepares for July's World Choir Games.

ONLY A FEW BLOCKS away from Immaculate Heart of Mary School, traffic on one of Los Angeles’ most traveled freeways stirs up a constant, metallic hum. The side streets are noisy, too, as cars dodge or hit potholes and each other in the never-ending “music” of urban life. Yet, on a crisp, winter day, another gentler neighborhood sound is taking shape, a sound that calls to mind beauty and angels, not honking and the squealing of tires.

“Luuuu ... Laaaaaa.”

The tones are crystal clear and fresh, like a gentle spring breeze through tree branches.

Tucked inside the school’s auditorium, the boys and girls of IHM Children’s Choir prepare for competition at the World Choir Games, to be held in Cincinnati from July 4 to 14. The World Choir Games, dubbed the “Olympics of choral music,” bring together amateur choirs from countries throughout the world, includ ing Europe, eastern Europe, South Africa, North America and the Caribbean. It will be on American soil this year for the first time ever (see The Unifying Power of Music).

Choirs competing at the Games often have extensive performance experience, and many are regulars at the international level. But, for the group of 35 second- through eighth-grade children at Immaculate Heart of Mary School, the Games will be a first; they have never competed at any level. In fact, they are the only U.S. Catholic elementary school choir registered for the 2012 competition. It’s an unlikely opportunity for an inner-city Catholic school in Los Angeles to take the world stage.

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Maureen Pratt writes the syndicated column “Living Well” for Catholic News Service and is the author of six books, including Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness. Her website is maureenpratt.com.

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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Pope Francis said, “The Church gives us the life of faith in Baptism: that is the moment in which she gives birth to us as children of God, the moment she gives us the life of God, she engenders us as a mother would.”

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