Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Painting In the Octave of Christmas

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas Octave. Sorry I haven't posted (in a week!). Sorry, alao, that I missed my installment of New Translation Tuesday yesterday. I'll be back on track next week.

I am taking this week off from my work at WLP and am heavily involved in a project here at my home. Basically, I am spending this week painting doors. For some reason, when this townhome was built, all of the doors were installed with the factory primer on them, but were never painted. The level that I am working on now has 26 doors in all. Needless to say, this is tedious and very time-consuming, but I enjoy it while I listen to some of my favorite classical music. The challenging part is painting the molded section, like the one you see in this photo. But, enough about door painting.

I enjoyed a peaceful Christmas. I hope you did as well. I went to Mass at 6:00 P.M. on Christmas Eve. The crowd was dissapointingly small, but the choir was terrific. I substituted at my parish on Sunday, because our music director went home after Christmas. When I arrived, people were bustling about shoveling the snow off the ramps and staircases. Inside, there was a flurry of activity, because it was very, very cold. The furnace wasn't working, and never did work the entire morning. It was in the low 20's outside, and probably in the 40's inside. My fingers just wouldn't do what they were supposed to do on the piano. And, I had decided not to wear a winter coat, just a sportcoat, to church. Needless to say, between the two Masses, I donned a warm winter coat and a pair of those wool gloves that don't have any fingertips. I played better at the 11:30.

As I sat there and ministered at St. James, it dawned on me that there are so many Catholics around the world (we number just a little above one billion at this point) who worship in much worse circumstances than did we at St. James this Sunday. I remember visiting shanty towns in Peru in the early 1980's and worshiping in shacks with dirt floors. The walls were painted by the local people and showed scenes of great struggle in the midst of their poverty. The music at that Mass filled the entire town. So, as we sat huddled together in the cold at St. James on Sunday, we were joining our voices--not only with the choirs of angels--but with millions of others around the world, celebrating in different places the Feast of the Holy Family.

I hope that you are well and that, as we prepare to begin a new year, you feel the call to unite your voice to so many others in praise and thanksgiving to God.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Blessings

Happy Wednesday to you all.

I will be taking a blogging break for the next several days in order to join family and friends in the celebration of the Incarnation of the Lord.

Wherever you are, my hope for you is that the music that lifts your heart and mind during these festive days will lead you to a more profound appreciation for the gift that the paschal mystery is to each and every one of us.

If these are difficult days for you for whatever reason, know that you will be held in my own prayer as these days unfold.

More than ever, gotta sing, gotta pray.

Merry Christmas,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Translation Tuesday: Some Scenarios for Implementation

I hope that this Fourth Week of Advent finds you in good spirits as we mark the final days before the celebration of the Festival of the Incarnation.

I know that there are newcomers to this blog, particularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays; days when the focus is on the new translation of the Roman Missal. Welcome, and I hope you find some enlightenment here. I urge you to leave a comment, remembering that "we are all in this together."

One comment before we move into our discussion for the day. Those of us who have ever worked in parishes always get a chuckle out of the many phone calls coming into the parish office. We invariably receive the question: "What time is Midnight Mass?" I have been in parishes where "Midnight Mass" has been celebrated at 10:00 P.M., 10:30 P.M., 11:00 P.M., and, of course, Midnight. My parish, St. James, ceased the celebration of midnight Mass a few years ago, due to the small crowds and the fact that the church is not in the safest neighborhood in the city. I am sure that some of you have heard that Pope Benedict XVI will not be celebrating Midnight Mass at midnight this year. Midnight Mass at St. Peter's in Vatican City will be celebrated at 10:00 P.M. this year, due to concerns about the pope's energy level, especially considering his age and the fact that his schedule is very full at this time of year. One wonders if there is someone working the Vatican phones, who is answering the age-old question: "What time is Midnight Mass?" Or, perhaps more appropriately, "A che ora viene messa di mezzanotte?"

A considerable amount of debate has been swirling around about the timeline of the implementation of the new English translation of the Roman Missal. I have heard lots of things floating around out there and I have a call in to the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship to try and get a pulse on all of this. Here are several possible scenarios, among many others:

1. The recognitio (official approval of the text from the Vatican) is received in April 2010. A "must use" date of the new texts is established for some time in April of 2011.

2. The recognitio (official approval of the text from the Vatican) is received in April 2010. A "can use" date of the new texts is established for some time in April of 2011, with a "must use" date established for a later time, perhaps the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011.

3. The recognitio (official approval of the text from the Vatican) is received in April 2010. A "must use" date of the new texts is established as the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011.

4. The recognitio is not received in April of 2010 at all, and the English-speaking Catholic world simply waits and waits. Remember that there are other liturgical texts that have been languishing in Rome, waiting for a recognitio for a number of years. The Tiber runs slowly most often! If this is the case, then we obviously cannot guess at implementation dates.

You can just imagine the kind of angst that publishers of worship resources for the Church are experiencing with all of this. We here at WLP have been working on new and revised musical settings of the new texts for the parts of the Mass for a number of years. Remember that we publish our worship resources six to eight months in advance. If, for instance, scenario number 1 is the case, we will have two annual worship resources that will have already been published and will be in peoples' hands, for a year in which the translation will change mid stream. In this case, we will need to provide an additional resource with the new texts and new musical settings of the Mass for these loyal customers.

I'll be honest with you. I am hoping that, whenever the recognitio is received, there will be at least one year for publishers to produce the actual Roman Missal. I am also hoping that the implementation of the new texts for parish use occurs on the First Sunday of Advent following the actual publication of the Roman Missal. It just makes so much sense to me, as publisher, and as a parishioner, to implement the changes on the First Sunday of Advent. Parishes can spend those Sundays in Ordinary Time leading up to Advent teaching whatever musical setting(s) that is/are chosen. (I know that you will fall in love with both the official chant settings in English in the Roman Missal, as well as at least one of WLP's new settings or revised settings of our current Masses. Our composers and editors have worked so hard on creating these settings for the singing and praying Church. I am so proud of their work and look forward to the day when these new settings will become a part of my—and your— "Catholic DNA.")

As publishers, we will be obliged to place the official chant settings in English as the first option in the actual Order of Mass section in our worship resources. We are happy to do this. My personal hope is that, in a few years' time, every single English-speaking Catholic in the world will have learned these chant settings in English, so that we all share at least one setting in common.

Those of you who have followed this blog know that I see this time of preparation for and implementation of the new English translation of the Missale Romanum as a real watershed moment for the Church. There will be negativity about all of this—and I have to admit that I share some of that negativity. There will be those whose hearts will be exultant—and I have to admit that I share some of that, too. Wherever you land, try to see this as an opportunity to help people grow in the knowledge of and experience of the Mass. Pope John Paul II is quoted as saying this—and I have never been able to find a reliable source document for this: "If so many millions of Catholics around the world are receiving the Lord in the Eucharist each week, why has so little changed in the world?" This sentiment is what is at the core of our liturgical experience. I live in expectant hope that, when we have moved through all of this, Catholics will live their experience of the liturgy more fully; will see the exit doors of their church buildings as "service entrances" to world longing for the kind of transformation that can only come through being Christ for the life of the world.

Thanks for listening.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Theosis: The Journey of the Christian

Happy Monday to you all.  Nice light snow covers the ground here in Chicago. The Blackhawks won two games this weekend. Who could ask for anything more?

I would like to extend a warm welcome to newcomers to my blog. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, this blog focuses on the issues surrounding the new translation of the Roman Missal. On other days, I talk about other liturgical, musical, and initiation issues in the Church. I also try to speak from my perspective as a publisher of resources for the singing, praying, and initiating Church.

Those of you who follow this blog know that I often speak about my experience of the liturgy at my parish, St. James, on the near south side of the City of Chicago. As you know, during this Advent season, we have worked hard to make silence a part of the introductory rite. My pastor, the deacons, and the music director have done a marvelous job of leading us into a more deliberate, slow, and careful celebration of Mass. This has been one of the great gifts of this season for me. I noticed at yesterday's 9:30 A.M. Mass that this kind of slow and deliberate celebration has "opened" the Opening Prayer, or Collect, for me in surprising new ways. I find myself paying closer attention to what is being prayed. These Collects for Advent have been so rich. Yesterday was no exception:

fill our hearts with your love,
and as you revealed to us by an angel
the coming of your Son as man,
so lead us through his suffering and death
to the glory of his resurrection,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

What struck me about the prayer was the fact that it captures, in a nutshell, what this Catholic journey is all about.  I am currently reading a marvelous book, Theosis: Deification in Christian Theology, edited by Stephen Finlan and Vladimir Kharlamov. Theosis is a theological term that roughly means the journey of attaining likeness to or union with God. A deeply incarnational principle, this union with God, for the Christian, begins at the moment of baptism, and continues until the Christian journey ends with complete union with God in the life hereafter. Yesterday's Opening Prayer was an apt description of the journey of theosis. Filled with God's love, made accessible through the coming of his Son, we are led, because of our likeness to Christ, through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection. Folks, this is what this Christian journey is all about. I like to tell people that, for believers, our lives are like one long procession from the font of baptism to our place at the table of the heavenly banquet. We move through life's journey, hopefully becoming more in union with and in likeness to our loving God. I also tell people that this is not a bad way to live! And it certainly makes a countercultural statement to those who believe they can find "salvation" through the things of this world.

I hope that this Fourth Week of Advent is one of grace and peace for you and your loved ones.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 18, 2009

So Much for Which to Be Grateful

Friday has dawned here in Chicago with cold wet weather - could have one to three inches of snow by tomorrow.

Our WLP staff celebrated Christmas as a group last evening at the home of one of our managers. We sang carols and a few broadway show tunes, and ate up a storm. Isn't it wonderful when you not only enjoy working with people but also enjoy having a good time with them? I am blessed to work with and lead such a great group of talented people here at WLP.

To be honest, it has been a particularly stressful and busy season for me, but there is something about the snow, and the decorations, and the lights, and the chocolates, and the baked goodies, and the appetizers, and the shopping, and the sending and receiving of Christmas cards that make all of the busy-ness so worth it. I am looking forward to celebrating the Fourth Sunday of Advent at St. James on Sunday. I am also looking forward to helping serve the Christmas day meal for the homeless at our parish. I did so last year. I was in charge of beverages. When the folks arrived, there I was with a tray of hot cocoa, coffee, water, and iced tea. It broke my heart when so many people looked at me and said, "I'll get something to drink later; what I really need now is some food." Having grown up with holiday tables of plenty, this experience helped me appreciate all the more the sacrifices that my mom and dad offered to make sure the six of us had plenty of gifts under the tree and delicious food on our plates. And it also made me realize that, as Catholics with grateful hearts, we need to reach out all the more to those who are in need.

It's back to the United Center for me tonight to watch the Chicago Blackhawks play the Boston Bruins. I fell in love with hockey as a kid because I grew up in suburban Boston, watching the Boston Bruins. I am planning to wear my Boston Bruins shirt tonight—we'll see how I am treated in the always interesting upper 300 level seating area in the arena.

I hope your weekend is filled with expectant joy.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Translation Thursday: How to Implement the New Translation

Hope you are enjoying a good Thursday, another "New Translation Thursday."

Just a quick comment and a question today. It has to do—once again—with the new musical settings of the Mass. We are not quite sure how the implementation of the new translation will occur. Will the BCDW (Bishops Committee on Divine Worship) issue a "may use the new translation" date, followed by a period of some duration before a "must use" date is promulgated? None of us is sure about this. If that were the case, how would you handle this in your parish? Some people have told me that they would begin using new musical settings, as well as all of the newly translated prayers and antiphons immediately upon a "may use" date. Others have said that they would use the "grace period," if there will be such a period, to introduce gradually the new settings and prayers in some kind of organized way. At least one bishop I know said simply that the people in parishes would be using the old translation one week, and then, the very next Sunday, all of the newly translated texts will be used.

I, for one, hope that parishes will teach the ICEL chant settings of the peoples' parts early in the process of implementation, as well as one setting that is either newly composed or one of the revised settings—as a start. How all this will play out will, of course, vary from parish to parish. You can trust that we here at WLP are working very hard to provide the singing and praying church with the very best newly composed and revised musical settings of the Mass.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Great Music Director

Happy Wednesday to you all.  Seven degrees here. Enough said.

Happy Birthday Beethoven.

I worked as the director of liturgy and music for extended periods of time in three parishes: St. Mary Magdalen in Altamonte Springs, Florida, Epiphany Parish in Port Orange, Florida, and St. Marcelline in Schaumburg, Illinois. When I knew that it was time to move on from these positions, it was painful to leave, because I had grown to know and love the people, as well as grown to know and love the sound of their voices joined together in song.

Last week I found out that our music director at St. James has made the decision to move on. This has been pretty heart-wrenching for me. For those of you who follow this blog, you know that I have often referred to him as our "great music director." What makes a "great music director?" As a pew Catholic, I think a great director is one who is sensitive to the make-up of the congregation; is someone who is able to provide a variety of music that makes the liturgy musical, music from the Church's treasury, as well as from the treasuries of other Christian denominations; is someone who obviously knows that the greatest sound that he is charged to produce is the sound of a singing assembly. With our music director, all of these things came together quite well. I will miss him dearly.

That's one of the the realities of being a pew Catholic. In my "professional" positions in parishes, it was I who decided when it was time to move on. Our current music director is the third since I have been at St. James. My allegiance is to the parish, obviously. Pastors and parish staff members come and go, yet we who are in the pews provide the steadiness that endures.

I've been asked and agreed to be a member of the search committee for a new director (my second time). I've been asked to bring musical and liturgical expertise to the search committee. Friends, please say a prayer for our work and for St. James parish during this time of transition.

Why? Because we gotta sing and we gotta pray; and St. James needs all the prayers we can get to find the next "great music director."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Translation Tuesday: Proclaiming the Death of the Lord

Happy Tuesday to one and all. The temperatures are plummeting here in the Midwest today. Looks to be a very cold night. Five degree drop just on my 45 minute ride to work!

It's "New Translation Tuesday" once again. The "What Is We Just Said Wait" site has garnered nearly four thousand signatures. Check out the site if you haven't had the chance.

This past weekend I spent some time with a retired priest friend of mine. I was the organist at his parish in Massachusetts in the late 1970's and early 80's. He will be 80 years old next year. His attitude about the new translation: "I'll never use it." It made me wonder how many of our older and retired priests have developed an attitude of simply having had enough with the Vatican's liturgical legislation over the past decade or so. It will be quite interesting to watch all of this unfold in the next few years. Even today, there are priests who still use the old Order of Christian Funerals!

I'd like to comment on one of the anonymous comments from last Thursday's edition of "New Translation Thursday":

While some advocates of the new translation may indeed be desiring to "stick it to their brothers and sisters", those same advocates have had to endure having it "stuck to them" for some 40 years now...whincing whilst saying the Gloria or Creed, knowing that what they're saying is not even close to the actual prayer, all for the sake of advancing an agenda that has turned out, for the greatest measure, to be seriously in error.

I know that this is a forum that attracts those whose lives are bound up with matters liturgical and musical, but I wonder how helpful this comment is to those—especially older Catholics like my parents—who have prayed the post-Vatican II texts for most of their lives. To say that "what they're saying is not even close to the actual prayer" directly diminishes the lived experience of that prayer for decades. And to say to my parents that this all has to do with a group of people "advancing an agenda that has turned out, for the greatest measure, to be seriously in error" would be an egregious statement. My parents have taken their lives, especially the heartfelt pain of having lost a daughter at the age of 38, into their experience of the liturgy. There they have found comfort and solace in the paschal mystery of the Lord. Would they put it in these words? Probably not, but the liturgy has been a source of strength, encouragement, and challenge to them in their nearly fifty-five years of marriage. To discount that experience—to say that the words that they have prayed are the product of a group advancing an agenda—is not helpful and, I believe, would border on the sinful. I certainly would not want "anonymous" to be the person catechizing my parents and their fellow parishioners about the changes in the translation.

Just a caution here, folks. Let's remember that the Catholic Church is made up of people like you and me, and people like my parents, people who strive every day to live the words "When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory." In the new translation, these same people will be striving to live the same mystery of our faith in these words: "When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again." Proclaiming the death of the Lord, and all the meaning that that phrase unfolds in the lived Catholic experience, is what this Catholic life is all about. Let's not forget that; let's not forget the center as these days, months, and years unfold.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"On the Ice" and a Full and Grateful Heart

Happy Monday to you all. I am back at the desk after four days off. Spent these days in the California desert, where it was cool and mostly cloudy, but relaxing nonetheless.

I've decided to give you just a small peek into my life outside of the publishing and church worlds today . . .

Most people raise an eyebrow when I let them know that I am an avid hockey fan. "How could such a  mild-mannered liturgist/musician be a fan of such a violent sport?" they often ask. Well, I grew up in Massachusetts during the era of the likes of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, two tremendous Boston Bruins players. I remember well listening to hockey games on the radio when my parents would pile all six of us into our "Country Squire" station wagon (the kind with the fake wood on the sides) and head back to the Boston area from our bimonthly visits to relatives in southeastern Massachusetts. I loved listening to those games and watching them on TV. That interest waned over the years and has been rekindled over the past five years here in Chicago, where I have become a huge fan of the Chicago Blackhawks. I attend many of their games, sitting a few rows from the last row in the upper level. Last night was a little different. Through the generosity of a friend, I found myself sitting in the first row "on the ice." It was thrilling, to say the least. I have great respect for these athletes who, unlike in any other sport, perform their sport on ice, skating with ease and precision. Folks, I had a wonderful time, and wished the game could have gone on and on. Incidentally, we won 4-0! Here's a photo. I look a little weary—I had been on airplanes most of the day!

Thank you for your comments over the past week. I hope your Advent continues to be a hope-filled one and that these remaining days are marked with joy and peace. Tomorrow, another installment of "New Translation Tuesday." Stay tuned.

After my experience last night, I was filled with lots of joy and had a full and grateful heart. I guess this is how a Catholic has to approach a gift like seats "on the ice." I kept thanking God up and down all night long.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Waiting in Joyful Hope

Happy Wednesday to you all. Snowy and raw here in Chicago. Temperatures expected to plummet into the single digits tonight, with wind chills somewhere near 40 below. Welcome to almost-winter in the Midwest.

Just a short post today. I was reading an author's manuscript yesterday here at WLP. She had written a catechetical session for inquirers and the topic was Christian hope. She was quoting Benedict XVI's encyclical on hope, Spe Salve. This all got my mind focused on a great phrase for believers during this Advent season, "waiting in joyful hope." And this brought me to recall a moving poem by John Keats that I once read. It's called To Hope and here's an excerpt:

When by my solitary hearth I sit,
When no fair dreams before my “mind’s eye” flit,
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head.

Whene’er I wander, at the fall of night,
Where woven boughs shut out the moon’s bright ray,
Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
Peep with the moon-beams through the leafy roof,
And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof.

Should Disappointment, parent of Despair,
Strive for her son to seize my careless heart;
When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air,
Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart:
Chase him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright,
And fright him as the morning frightens night!

Whene’er the fate of those I hold most dear
Tells to my fearful breast a tale of sorrow,
O bright-eyed Hope, my morbid fancy cheer;
Let me awhile thy sweetest comforts borrow:
Thy heaven-born radiance around me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head!

My own hope for all of you is that, even when life becomes difficult and challenging, that you cling to the hope that comes through faith, especially during this Advent and Christmas season.
I'll be taking some vacation time for the next four days. I'll try to post, especially tomorrow. If I don't get the chance, I pray that your Second Week of Advent ends with an outpouring of grace and that the Third Week dawns with renewed hope.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Translation Tuesday: It's Heating Up Out There!

Welcome to another edition of "New Translation Tuesday."

You have probably heard about the article in the current issue of America magazine by Fr. Michael G. Ryan. Here is the link. If you have the time, please read Fr. Ryan's article about the new translation. Reading the comments to the article on America's web site will also give you insight into what a hot button this issue is and will continue to be. Personally, I didn't find Fr. Ryan's article to be a launch of dissent, as some of the commenters argued. This is a seasoned pastor speaking from the perspective of a pastor. He is not arguing for a wholesale rejection of the new translation. He is inviting people to consider more pastoral experimentation, testing, and evaluation before the text is finally mandated. Frankly, I don't think there is much chance of this happening. However, as of right now, nearly 1200 people have signed the statement of concern on the web site "" that Fr. Ryan has begun. You can find that site here.

There has also been at least one person (a fellow blogger) who has created his own survey. You can find that here. Clearly you will see the marked differences in tone. Folks, why all this argument? We are talking about the heart of Catholic life here. You can't do something that touches that heart without all kinds of emotions being stirred. It saddens me that this will inevitably continue to escalate further polarization within the English-speaking Catholic world. The texts of the Mass draw us into a real live experience of the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ. If the new translation thwarts that movement toward Christ, then it will need further revision down the road. We will have no choice.

Thanks for your comments over the past week. Please feel free to comment here as well.

As more snow approaches Chicago, I hope that, wherever you are, you stay warm and safe.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Open Our Hearts in Welcome"

Happy Monday to you all. We had another lovely snowfall over night. It looks like we are going to get walloped with a snowstorm tomorrow into Wednesday. Probably going to be a white Christmas in these parts. Pictured above is a sculpture in Chicago's Millennium Park. It is called "Cloud Gate." We Chicagoans affectionately call it "the bean." Here's another photo to help you see it in context:

I hope you had an inspiring celebration of the Second Sunday of Advent. Our parish's approach to the use of silence, particularly during the introductory rites, continues to go well. I noticed yesterday that with the "space" that the silence provides, I was much more tuned into the opening prayer:

God of power and mercy,
open our hearts in welcome.
Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy,
so that we may share his wisdom
and become one with him
when he comes in glory,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The "open our hearts in welcome" stayed with me for the better part of the day. As I cleaned the house and did some decorating, I was struck by what it really means to have a heart that is open in welcome. It made me see that God is constantly breaking into our days in all kinds of ways; we just need to be open to these discoveries.

I hope that as Advent continues to unfold, your heart will be open in welcome to the ways that the Lord is trying to break into your life.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Reworked Musical Settings of the Mass or New Settings?

Friday has arrived. Christmas tree purchase and decorating begins tomorrow. This morning, we woke up to a light dusting of snow here in Chicago. This is a beautiful city year-round, but there is something even lovelier during these first few snowfalls. I'm sure my tune will change by mid-January!

I'd like to address one of the comments from yesterday's post. Chironomo wrote this:
When you speak of "revised" settings, are you speaking of current settings with the new words fitted in? I thought that idea was rejected initially by a number of composers. Is it now back on the table? 

For several years, I have asked parish musicians what their gut instincts were when it came to this issue. At first, the majority of musicians said that they wanted the Masses that they loved simply reworked. Some said things like this: "I could never give up my Mass of Creation." Once I began to share some of the reworked WLP Mass parts with them, their tune began to shift. More and more thought that the new settings were the way to go, so that there wouldn't need to be the process of unlearning and relearning.

What have we done here at WLP? We have several newly commissioned musical settings of the Mass that will fit the needs of parishes with a wide variety of musical resources. The new ICEL chants will be included in each of our worship resources. What about our most popular Mass settings? We have gone back to the composers about these. The Sanctus has proven to be a rather easy fix, since the changes are minimal. For the Gloria, the composers decided on complete rewrites, but kept with the genre and general musical sense of the entire Mass. They needed to do the same with the Memorial Acclamations. We are fairly certain that only the three Memorial Acclamations that appear in the Order of Mass will be approved by Rome, and that "Christ Has Died" will be gone forever.

The composers of several of our Masses are deceased. With these Masses, we enlisted the help of a prominent composer to work with these settings.

None of us knows how all this will work itself out. I'd like to ask you a question. When you do decide on which Mass or Masses you will be teaching your assembly, would it be helpful for you to have a CD recording of that Mass? Just wondering. Feel free to comment.

I am looking forward to celebrating the Second Sunday of Advent at St. James. I hope that wherever you are, your celebration is marked with expectant joy.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The New Translation: Musicians and the Implementation

Happy "New Translation Thursday" to one and all.

One of the questions floating around out there regarding the new English translation of the Missale Romanum has to do with how parish musicians will approach the implementation. Having been a director of liturgy and music for many years myself, I have wondered about just how I would approach the introduction of the new translation into parish life. In the past, when introducing a new musical setting of the Mass, we would follow a carefully laid out plan. We would begin working on the setting at choir rehearsals a few months in advance of teaching the congregation. We would spend time with our parish cantors, coaching them on the way we would slowly introduce the setting. Usually, the teaching of the new setting would take place over a period of weeks. When the appointed "release" Sunday arrived, we would usually begin by teaching the assembly the new setting of the Gloria. The people would have been given a copy of the Mass's musical setting (we printed our own worship aid). We would move through the Gloria (sometimes that meant just a refrain; sometimes that meant a refrain and other congregational parts scattered throughout; sometimes that meant a through composed setting). We would then use the next few weeks to teach the other parts of the Mass.

What will be new, of course, with what is to come is that not only will the music change, but in most cases, the words will change as well. I think that good musical settings will help carry the implementation along. And WLP, of course, will have wonderful new settings and revised settings to assist the singing and praying Church.

But, in the past, we didn't have to worry about people remembering the words when we taught them the new musical setting. Now, it's going to be new (or revised) music and new words. I can hear some musician friends now, "This whole thing wasn't my idea; please don't shoot the parish musician!" I believe that musicians and priests are going to be the ministers that people will go to with their complaints or their kind words of encouragement. As I mentioned on Tuesday, as much advance catechesis that we can do about all this, the better.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Biblical Songs Illuminated

Good Wednesday morning to you all. I hope this first week of Advent has been a time of grace for you thus far.

You know by now that every once in a while, I will do a brief commercial to let you know about one of
WLP's great resources. Today, I'd like to share a wonderful art and prayer book with you. I do this now because it would make a great Christmas gift. The book is titled Canticle: Biblical Songs Illuminated. 

This book contains the texts to over twenty biblical canticles, illuminated by the well-known artist G. E. Mullan. The renowned theologian and master story-teller, John Shea, offers a reflection on each of the canticles. This book is a gem. For anyone who is interested in taking a deeper look into the biblical canticles, this is a must-have. I have a Mullan lithograph hanging here on a wall in my office. I've always enjoyed the covers he designs for WLP's ¡Celebremos! Let Us Celebrate! worship resource.

And I have known the work of Jack Shea for many years. Jack wrote a wonderful Stations of the Cross resource for us: Stopping Along the Way.

His reflections on the canticles in the latest book will make you laugh and make you cry. The texts, Mullan's art, and Jack's reflections combine to bring the reader into a closer relationship with God.

Obviously, I could go on and on about this resource. Suffice it to say that it is one of my personal favorites.

Thanks for listening today. We are expecting our first snowfall tonight here in Chicago. I guess winter has arrived!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Translation Tuesday: Silence at Mass

Happy Tuesday to you all.

It's "New Translation Tuesday" once again. I've been doing some checking of parish web sites and parish on-line bulletins and am finding that catechetical material concerning the forthcoming new English translation of the Missale Romanum is continuing to surface. And this is a good thing. We need to be doing everything we can to prepare the people for the changes about to come. Liturgy Training Publications here in the Archdiocese of Chicago has published a series of pamphlets designed to instruct Catholics about the upcoming changes. You can find those materials here. Fr. Paul Turner is the author of these texts. He provides a wonderful balance in the areas of history, liturgical theology, and pastoral practice. Fr. Turner authored WLP's popular resource for priests and those ministering in the sphere of Christian initiation: Celebrating Initiation: A Guide for Priests.

With a possible April date for the reception of the recognitio, we are working hard to finish the work on both the revised and new musical settings of the Mass. Our fine team of editors has been hard at work for you, the singing and praying Church.

I did want to share my experience at Mass this past Sunday at Saint James, because it relates to the opportunities the upcoming changes will offer to parishes. The liturgy committee (a board on which I volunteer), has been spending quite a bit of time studying the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. We have been focusing our attention on the introductory rites. When we looked at the vision of those documents and compared that vision to our pastoral practice, we found some areas that needed improvement. Our introductory rites have seemed rushed and kind of mechanical in the past, as if we are trying to move through them to get to the "real stuff." Well, this past Sunday saw a marked difference. Before Mass, our great music director told us that we would be experiencing more silence during the introductory rites. He told us that when Father invited us to call to mind our sins, there would be a longer period of silence for us to ponder that reality. He also told us that once Father said "Let us pray" before the opening prayer, we would be given a period of silence to focus on what we were bringing to the liturgy in our hearts and minds. Then Father would collect all of that in the Opening Prayer, also known as the "Collect."

We were told that silence can sometimes make us feel uncomfortable at Mass. When there is silence, sometimes we think that someone has forgotten to do or say something. We all chuckled at this, since it rang so true. We were then asked to enter a period of silence and were also told that during that silence, the first candle of the Advent wreath would be lighted. After a few moments, one of the sisters on our parish staff ceremoniously approached the wreath and lit the first candle. No words, no blessing; just the simple lighting of that first candle. In my own heart, I knew that Advent had begun. We then rose and joined in singing the opening hymn.

Once the hymn ended, Father chanted the sign of the cross, to which we chanted our "Amen." He also chanted the greeting. I thought it was wonderful; it sounded Catholic. After the introductory to the penitential rite, we did enter into silence. To be honest, I was more preoccupied with how long the silence would be (O, that liturgist inside me!) than in calling to mind my sins. I know this won't happen next week because, in fact, the amount of silence felt "just right" to me. The same thing happened after "Let us pray." Folks, the silence into which we entered was deliberate and "heavy." This was a good direction for us, praise God.

These are the kinds of intentional changes to bring us in line with the Church's vision for liturgy that I hope the introduction to the new translation will engender. I am so looking forward to the Second Sunday of Advent at St. James. Even though this introductory rite may seem to some to be "traditional" or, God forbid "conservative," we still maintained a high spirit of engagement in the rite. Our closing song was Soon and Very Soon. We lifted the roof off the place! It was as Catholic a moment as the introductory rites had been.

O come, Emmanuel

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Attention to Worship

Happy Monday to you all. If you haven't had a chance to read the comments on my previous post, please do so, and feel free to contribute to the conversation. I would like to comment on two issues, the first has to do with something one of the commenters raised, the second is a comment about the clergy sexual abuse mess.

The first issue. It's an age-old argument that one of the commenters put rather well: "What would detractors say the appropriate position should be? So long as there are poor, so long as there are abused, so long as there is war, so long as humanity is, well, humanity then it's inappropriate to give attention to worship? Or should we don vestments made from rags and say Mass in a pre-fab portable building instead of a Cathedral?"

A Mass celebrated in a cathedral with the finest, most expensive vestments and vessels; a Mass celebrated in a shack in the slums of Lima, Peru, with hand-me-down vestments and vessels donated by a wealthy American suburban parish; a Mass celebrated on the desert sands of Iraq or Afghanistan with a priest in camouflage vestments around a makeshift altar constructed beneath a tent; a Mass celebrated in a poor inner city parish around a cross with an image of an African Christ; a Mass celebrated in a prison using a makeshift altar and vessels from the chaplain's "Mass kit"; a Mass celebrated in a wealthy suburban parish with the best of vessels, vestments, and music—friends, these celebrations of the holy sacrifice of the Mass are what contribute to making us Catholic. I take exception to the final question posed by the commenter above. There are many places that serve over one billion of us Catholics that simply do not have a choice when it comes to where and with what liturgical items the Mass is celebrated. The attention that is given to worship in these places has—by necessity—more to do with the people who attend Mass than the vestments and vessels used. And I think this perhaps gets us to the crux of the argument. Allow me to quote from the late John Paul II. This is a paragraph from Mane Nobiscum Domine, his Apostolic Letter that inaugurated the Year of the Eucharist.

"Can we not make this Year of the Eucharist an occasion for diocesan and parish communities to commit themselves in a particular way to responding with fraternal solicitude to one of the many forms of poverty present in our world? I think for example of the tragedy of hunger which plagues hundreds of millions of human beings, the diseases which afflict developing countries, the loneliness of the elderly, the hardships faced by the unemployed, the struggles of immigrants. These are evils which are present—albeit to a different degree—even in areas of immense wealth. We cannot delude ourselves: by our mutual love and, in particular, by our concern for those in need we will be recognized as true followers of Christ (cf. Jn 13:35; Mt 25:31-46). This will be the criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged."

We must do all we can to be sure that our liturgical celebrations draw people into the paschal mystery; into a deep encounter with the death and resurrection of Christ. Only then do we have the possibility of a real change of heart. I think the late pontiff hit the nail right on the head with regard to this issue. Perhaps the Pope Benedict's new pastorale (gold pastoral staff) will lead people to a concern for those in need. That is my hope about all things liturgical. If the liturgy ends at the door, and produces little in the way of creating mutual love and concern for those in need, then we must question the authenticity of the Eucharistic celebration itself.

Now, the second issue. The clergy sex-abuse scandal and the scandal of the cover-ups has shaped some of us lay folks into a less-passive stance when it comes to Church matters. Some of those responsible for presiding at Mass were sexually abusing children. Some of those who were (are) our shepherds were (are) covering up these crimes and shifting these abusers from parish to parish; from one group of innocents to the next. It is the liturgy that is our only hope for real conversion of heart, mind, and action. Unfortunately, it was precisely those who were responsible to lead us in that prayer that is "source and summit" who fell into this heinous activity, which has cost the childhoods of many thousands and caused, in many cases, irreparable psychological damage. This is a hard fact that must be faced. We cannot celebrate Mass around the altar without imagining the thousands who were abused gathered with us around that same altar. And—and this is very difficult—we cannot celebrate Mass around the altar without also imagining the many priests and bishops who abused these children, or covered up the crimes. This is the paradox of the Eucharist. If we believe that it is the preeminent sacrament of reconciliation, then all—saints and sinners—must be there in order for this font to overflow with reconciliatory grace. And if all this happens surrounded by the finest gold, or the filthiest rags, so be it.

Ah, I have gone on enough today. Please know how much I am grateful for my Catholic life, for the Mass, and for God's abundant grace. In this Advent time, my hope is that you will know God's grace and peace.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Day of Catholic Frustration

Hello everyone. I hope your Thanksgiving weekend is going well.

I am feeling quite frustrated as a Roman Catholic right now. The most predominant Catholic story right now is what is going on in Ireland, with the release this week of the "Murphy Report," outlining decades of sexual abuse of children and the subsequent cover-ups by Irish bishops and those in ecclesiastical authority in the Archdiocese of Dublin. In a poll in today's Irish Times, readers were asked if the Catholic Church has a future in Ireland. The results are 3-2, with the no votes leading. People use words like "shameful," and "despicable," and "deplorable" to describe what has gone on. I don't believe our language contains words strong enough to describe this appropriately.

Why am I feeling frustrated? Another prominent story in the Catholic world today is that at tonight's celebration of First Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent, Pope Benedict XVI will premier the use of a new pastorale, or a gold pastoral staff that was made for him.

Ours is a Church suffering at its core because of the sexual abuse scandal and the scandal of the cover-ups. People feel that the Church has lost credibility and its foundation on which to preach and teach about moral issues. In the midst of this appears a new golden pastoral staff. Are we back at the base of Mount Sinai?

Not feeling much like singing and praying today, but, even in the midst of the frustration, I gotta sing, I gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Sanctity of Human Life: "Precious" and Bishop Tobin

Ah, the day before Thanksgiving. As is typical here in Chicago, the day is raw and overcast. Many people are away from the office today, so it is pretty quiet here on the home front.

I don't usually use this blog as a commentary on issues outside of liturgy, music, and initiation, but today I feel compelled.

This past Saturday, I saw the movie Precious. You can find the trailer here. This is not an easy movie to watch. The language is very rough; there are graphically violent scenes; the story is a difficult one to move through. Yet, I came away thinking that this was a movie that proclaimed the sanctity of human life. You see, "Precious," the main character in the story, is pregnant with her second child. The father of both children is her own father. Her first child is a Downs Syndrome child. Her second is a healthy baby boy. A victim of unspeakable physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, Precious does not give in to patterns into which so many around her fall. Instead, she seeks out an alternative education. She doesn't abuse the country's welfare system. And, despite the fact that her two children are the product of incest, she does not have an abortion. As a matter of fact, this movie is all about a simple motivation on the part of this young woman: she simply wants to protect and love her children. This is such a plain fact in this movie and it spoke so strongly to my own heart about the sanctity of human life. I guess this was because this was in such striking relief to the horrors of abuse and neglect that mark so much of this movie.

Why do I bring this all up? I have been closely following the recent news story in Rhode Island. As you may know, the bishop of Providence, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, has asked Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy "not to take Communion" because of the eight-term Democrat's "consistent actions" that defy the church's "clear teaching" on abortion. You may know that Bishop Tobin has appeared over the past few days on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews. Chris is a Catholic. He also appeared on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor. O'Reilly is a Catholic. You can find these "interviews" all over the web.  What I found striking was that these two Catholic men shared honest confusion about Bishop Tobin's actions in the public arena. The bishop was clearly not ready for the Matthew's interview. As I sat there and watched, I wondered if the bishop had ever actually seen Hardball. How could he not have anticipated what was to come? When I watched the O'Reilly interview, I expected the two men to completely agree on the absolute appropriateness of Tobin's actions. But this did not occur. O'Reilly expressed his own confusion and frustration with the inconsistencies in Tobin's remarks. 

I'd like to suggest that the movie Precious does more to make a statement about the sanctity of human life than do the remarks and actions of Bishop Thomas Tobin. I came away from the movie proud of my own embrace of the late Cardinal Bernardin's "seamless garment" approach to life issues. I was very proud to be a Catholic at that moment. I wish I could say the same about how I came away from the two interviews with Bishop Tobin. I was left with the question: Cardinal Bernardin, where are you when we need you? The absolutist approach espoused by Bishop Tobin, I believe, will do little to turn hearts toward a profound respect for the sanctity of human life. By denying Communion—the premier sacrament of reconciliation—to Rep. Kennedy, Bishop Tobin closes the door to the work that the Eucharistic Lord can accomplish in the heart of the representative. This simply does not make sense to me.

This is a heavy subject, especially on the eve of Thanksgiving, but I felt compelled to write about it. I am taking a few days off from blogging and plan to return to the blogosphere on Monday.

I am grateful for you who so faithfully read this blog. May your Thanksgiving be blessed. May your tables be surrounded by God's presence. And may your hearts overflow with gratitude to our loving God.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Translation: Will the Arguments Hold?

Another "New Translation Tuesday" has rolled around. The weather is still raw and miserable here in the Midwest. This is the kind of weather that soaks deeply into your bones. But, it is Thanksgiving week, so the upcoming holiday helps buoy our spirits.

For those of you who have yet to visit the US Bishops' special web page on the new translation, you can find it here.

I've had a nagging question floating around in my brain over the past few weeks. This has to do with current musical settings of the Mass being sung in parishes across the country. I think, for instance, of David Haas' Mass of Light. The refrain for the Gloria is this: "Glory to God in the highest, Sing! Glory to God! Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth." For over twenty years (the copyright date for this Mass is 1988), Catholics who sing this setting have not been singing the words of the Gloria as found in the Church's liturgical books. In my own parish, there are some settings composed by a well-meaning musician that change the words of the Gloria and the Sanctus, so that they are more gender-inclusive. Texts like these have become a part of the fabric of the Catholic worship life in parishes. And they are not slavishly faithful to the texts in the current liturgical books. I guess my question here is this: If Catholics have been singing "variations" on the official texts for years, why will they feel obliged to sing new musical settings of the official texts that slavishly follow the newly translated texts word for word?

Now granted, publishers have been submitting settings to the bishops for review for years, and apparently, there has been some allowance for slight "variations" (a la Haas' Mass of Light). Obviously this will change with the new translation. But the fact remains that there are "composers" out there in parishes setting the texts of the Mass to their own music. I am reminded of this when I visit my parents' parish in Massachusetts. The parish music director wrote a musical setting of the Mass parts which, when I first heard them, sounded completely un-singable and were completely unmusical. Yet the parishioners sing them very well, like they are singing "Happy Birthday" at a family celebration. I wanted so much to go up to the music director and sit down and play and sing Steve Janco's Mass of Redemption, just so that person could hear a great musical setting.

How will Catholics in the pews react to the new translation? When told that these new texts are more faithful to the Latin original, will they care? Since many have not sung the official texts for years, why would they see the logic in the argument about fidelity to the Latin? We shall see. Please feel free to comment. You can do so by clicking on the comments button below and following the prompts from there.

Hope your Tuesday is going well.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jesus: The Center of My Joy

Good Monday to you all. The day is overcast here in Chicago. This is obviously a short work week, one of my favorites of the year. Bought the turkey yesterday. Looking forward to cooking on Thursday.

Yesterday at the 9:30 A.M. Mass at my parish, St. James, we celebrated a joyful feast of Christ the King. The choir was in fine voice. They sang a piece after communion that I had never heard before: Jesus, You're the Center of My Joy. Here's a link to a YouTube video of the piece, performed by a choir in Brooklyn. The St. James choir did a wonderful job on this piece, which opened my heart to the love of the Lord. As this Thanksgiving week continues to unfold, I am so grateful for my Catholic life; for my parents who had me baptized; for a parish that continues to preach and teach the love of God.

Our music yesterday ranged from the strophic hymn Rejoice, the Lord Is King to Soon and Very Soon. As usual, we sang up a storm. There has been significant work done to determine the stability of our church structure. It was closed by the City of Chicago in late winter of this year due to concerns about its structural integrity. I must say that I miss worshipping in the church, but the church hall has provided such a warm and vibrant space for our worship. I don't have many photos of the interior of St. James, but found this one today. It's a photo of our historic Roosevelt pipe organ.

Well, folks, I hope your week has begun on a good note. Again, let's spend the week remembering all the people and events for which we are grateful. Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Grateful on this Friday

Friday has dawned with some actual sunshine here in the Midwest, praise God!

Yesterday I took a peek at my schedule for the weekend and found nothing listed for Saturday and nothing listed for Sunday. These little gifts of time at home are real treasures. Chicago lights up the "magnificent mile" with a Disney parade on Saturday afternoon, followed by fireworks on the Chicago River. I've been before and to see fireworks in between skyscrapers is a unique experience, as you can see by this photo. I'm looking forward to being back at St. James on Sunday for the celebration of Christ the King.

Thanks for your comments about the new translation of the Missale Romanum. I am hoping that the BCDW (Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship) will try its level best to be sure that the implementation date is on a First Sunday of Advent. That will make life a whole lot easier for publishers.

Well, as we begin to prepare for Thanksgiving, let's all call to mind the people and events for which we are thankful. It has been a good, but challenging year for me personally and professionally. But I have learned to go through life with a grateful heart, which is not a bad way to live; it's actually a good Catholic way to live, don't you think? I hope your weekend and your food shopping over the next few days provide you with opportunities to give thanks. Until Monday, remember that we gotta sing and we gotta pray.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Translation: Excited and a Bit Apprehensive

Happy Thursday everyone. It is another miserably dreary day here in the Midwest, but with Thanksgiving just a week away, spirits are buoyed.

Welcome to New Translation Thursday. The US Bishops' approval this week of the new English translation of the Missale Romanum has me excited and somewhat apprehensive at the same time. You see, as a publisher of worship resources for Roman Catholic parishes, we do publish a variety of these resources. Seasonal Missalette® and Celebremos/Let Us Celebrate® are published quarterly. The We Celebrate® worship resource is published three times per year. Word & Song and Liturgy of the Word are published annually. So, wrap your brains around this, dear blog readers. If the recognitio from Rome is received in April of 2010, with a mandatory implementation date of April of 2011, imagine what we publishers will be going through during that time. This means that annual resources for 2011 will need to contain both the current translation and the new translation, as well as musical settings for the current translation and the new translation. It would be so much better if the bishops (or Rome, as the case may be) would delay the mandatory implementation to the First Sunday of Advent following the one year from recognitio date.

I know that many people will be clamoring to use the new texts right away, as soon as the recognitio is received. It will take (best guess) just under one year for the actual Roman Missal to appear in printed form. People will need to be patient as we move through this initial implementation phase. I want to assure you all that we at World Library Publications will serve the needs of the singing and praying Church in the best way possible. Remember, nearly everyone who works here is a practicing Catholic. We will be publishing materials and, at the same time, will be moving through the new translation process in our own parishes.

Many of you have asked about which Mass settings we have revised. You have also asked about new Mass settings that we have had commissioned. I need to tell you that we are not allowed to advertise, market, nor sell these new settings until the recognitio is received. So, I need to refrain from using this blog to talk about these kinds of specifics. Sorry about this; but I need to keep on the up and up.

Should be a heck of a ride, folks, for the next few years. I'll keep you updated on New Translation Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Well, There You Have It

Happy Wednesday to you all. Dark, dreary, cool, and rainy here in the Midwest. Ah, Autumn in Chicago!

Well, as I am sure you heard, the US bishops completed their work on the new translation of the Missale Romanum yesterday. Now the texts are off to Rome. There was some kind of "leak" that indicated that we would be receiving the recognitio in April of 2010, making implementation around Easter of 2011. So, folks, this is going to happen. No more "what ifs" at this point.

That's it for now - just a recap of what is one of the biggest liturgical news items since the Second Vatican Council here in the United States.

Gotta Sing. Gotta Pray.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Translation Tuesday: Musical Mass Settings

Happy Tuesday to you all. The workshop in Merrillville, Indiana last night went well. I always enjoy spending time with parish musicians. We had organists, pianists, guitarists, cantors, and choir members. A nice panoply of music ministers.

Tuesday is new translation time. I am sitting here at my desk with a live feed of the US bishops' meeting in Baltimore. You can find this video feed by visiting:

The "vote" on the new translation is scheduled to occur this afternoon. Today, obviously, is a pivotal day in the whole evolution of the new translation. Archbishop Aymond of New Orleans was elected as chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship. He becomes the point man as this process unfolds.

In a previous post I spoke about how we have been working for nearly eight years here at WLP preparing for the day when the new translation becomes a reality. For musical Mass settings, we began a process of listening to musicians and liturgists in parishes. This was done on an informal basis. As for my experience, I began to ask people whether they thought it would be more helpful to rework current settings or to commission completely new settings. At first, the majority of people I spoke with wanted the old settings redone. As I began to share some of the newer settings that we had commissioned, I believe that peoples' minds began to shift. Many thought that retrofitted settings of the Gloria and the Sanctus seemed awkward and stilted in places. When presented with new settings, there was no musical memory of a previous setting that was causing these kinds of problems. So, we at WLP have taken a "both/and" approach, commissioning new settings, as well as having composers rework their settings. I would love to share some of these results with you but, unfortunately, copyright laws don't allow this at the moment. We have been told that we must wait until the US Bishops receive the recognitio from Rome before we can market, sell, or publish these settings of the new translation.

Suffice it so say that this kind of undertaking is quite enormous for a music publisher. We are doing everything we can to be sure that the singing and praying Church is well served.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Travel: RCIA, Evangelization, Liturgical Spirituality

Happy Monday to you all. Just returned from Albany about an hour ago.

On Saturday morning, I was awakened by a prompt emanating from my cell phone, with this text message:
I had no idea what this meant and went back to bed, then realized what the message actually said, that Bishop Jerome Listecki had been named the new Archbishop of Milwaukee - duh! And, lo and behold, I was scheduled to speak to RCIA ministers in Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon. It was great to see these good and dedicated people all abuzz about their new Archbishop. Let's keep Bishop Listecki and the people of the Milwaukee Archdiocese in our prayers during this time of transition.

I had about 70 people in attendance for the workshop on apprenticeship and the RCIA. It was an engaging time. I always walk away enriched by these workshops. There is so much need out there for solid RCIA training and accessible sacramental theology. The workshop was held at the Cousins Archdiocesan Center in Saint Francis, WI. Here's a photo of the center:

Sunday morning, I was at O'Hare Airport here in Chicago for my flight to Albany. John Angotti and I spoke to the New York State Catholic School Administrators Association. Our focus was on evangelization. The group was receptive to our message. I always enjoy these talks with John because I am so moved by his singing and playing.

And now I am back at my desk for a little while here at WLP. I leave shortly for the Diocese of Gary, to lead their musicians in a presentation on liturgical spirituality. It's being held at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Merrillville, Indiana. Here's a photo of the interior of the church, where I'll be speaking:

And a photo of the exterior view, with the statue of Our Lady of Consolation:

I hope your week is off to a good start. As always, thanks for visiting this blog. I hope you find it helpful and hopeful.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Milwaukee, Albany, Gary and Apprenticed to Christ: Here We Go!

Friday has dawned here in Chicago—another cool, sunny, crisp Autumn day.

I've got a whirlwind three days ahead of me. Tomorrow, I'm heading to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to give a three-hour workshop on Apprenticeship and the RCIA. Here's a link to the information. Then on Sunday, I fly to Albany to co-present an evening keynote address to the Catholic school administrators of the state of New York. John Angotti and I will be giving our talk: "The Doctor and the Rocker Agree: We Exist to Evangelize." This is the fourth or fifth time that John and I have been asked to do this presentation. We weave stories, Church teaching on evangelization, and John's powerful music to do this presentation. I fly back to Chicago on Monday morning, then head to the Diocese of Gary, Indiana later that day for a presentation to musicians in the diocese. My focus is on spirituality for music ministry. The Milwaukee and Gary events are part of WLP's new "WLP Ambassadors" program. Basically, we provide the speaker or clinician free of charge to the (arch)diocese. In exchange, we ask for some time to talk about WLP's great resources. We make them available for purchase for the folks who attend these sessions. It's a win-win situation. Given the realities of the struggling economy, we wanted to help out dioceses with their programming, as well as provide an opportunity for people to see and hear about our resources for music, liturgy, prayer, and Christian initiation.

Since I am doing an apprenticeship talk tomorrow, perhaps this is a good time for a short little commercial message. I spent two years writing my book on apprenticeship, Apprenticed To Christ: Activities for Practicing the Catholic Way of Life. I take all the Sundays and solemnities of the three liturgical years, pull out a scripture passage, then offer a suggestion for a Catholic apprenticeship activity. I also offer some suggestions of primary catechetical material that can be used as a catechetical follow-up after the activity. This is a mystagogical approach to formation and is consistent with the Church's vision for the catechumenate, as well as a vision for all catechesis. You can check out this resource here.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Translation Thursday

Happy Thursday everyone. This is the first installment of "New Translation Thursday." I am going to tell you that this needs to be a shorter entry than I would have liked, due to workload issues here at the office.

First of all, thanks for your comments over the last few days. I believe they generally reflect the state of affairs. Some people think the new translation is one of the the greatest things to happen in the Church ("Every sample I have seen makes me thank the Lord we are finally getting better prayers"); others think this is one of the worst things to happen ("Better Prayers? We'll need dictionaries in the pews so people can look up some of the words in this new translation"). If these comments are any indication of how polarizing the response to the new translation will be, I think we are in for a very rough road, folks.

So the question becomes: How do we pastorally lead our people through the transition with honesty and integrity?

Frankly, I think there will be many pastoral leaders who will simply tell their people that they think the whole thing is a grand mistake, but there is no choice, and that we have to do the best we can with what we've been given. Others will simply say that this is what the Church says, and as Catholics, we simply do what the Church says. Some will painstakingly take their people through the entire history behind the new translation and try to persuade their people that this, indeed, is a good thing for the praying Church. Others will reject the new translation (There are still priests using the old form of the Rite of Christian Funerals). Even our bishops are not in agreement about this translation. See this article from the National Catholic Reporter.

The bishops will be meeting next week (November 16-19 in Baltimore). I think this meeting with regard to "the vote" to send the translation to Rome will be one of the most interesting discussions in recent US Catholic history. Let's pray for our bishops; for wisdom, understanding, right judgment, knowledge, reverence, and wonder and awe in God's presence.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray. Gotta get back to my desk!