Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Grateful Heart


This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us be glad and rejoice in it.
O God of new life,
we acknowledge the presence
of your resurrected Son
as we gather together in his name.
Grant us the gift of Easter peace
on this day of gladness.
May our decisions center on what really matters:
leading those whom you entrust to our care
into a deeper relationship with you.
May your sacred presence fill this room
with love, respect, and care.
We ask this in his name,
Jesus Christ the Risen One,
who is Lord forever and ever. Amen

Hello and a blessed Easter Season to one and all. This prayer is from my little book, Gathered to Serve: Prayers for Parish Leaders, available here at WLP. One of our aims here at World Library Publications is to assist those who are in leadership positions in parishes in whatever ways we can. This book of prayers for parish leaders came about because of a comment made to me by my good friend and colleague, Patricia Romeo, the music director and organist at St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence, Massachusetts. She said that her parish staff was looking for solid (and short!) prayers to begin their parish staff meetings. I wrote the prayers with Pat in mind, as well as all who work so tirelessly to lead parishes throughout the United States and beyond. Pat is one of those people who helped form me as a pastoral musician. Back in the 1970's and 80's, while I was a seminarian at St. John's Seminary in Boston, there was a group of us—the Music Commission for the Archdiocese—who led liturgical music workshops on a regular basis for the musicians of the Archdiocese. We would average somewhere around 400 musicians per event. Those were the days when new musical compositions for the liturgy were being written in abundance. Those were the days when musicians began to see themselves as important ministers to others. These were times of great promise in the Church. We were singing hymns and songs that put the scriptures in our hearts, minds, and voices. It is because of people like Pat Romeo that I began to see that a life centered in liturgy and music could be one that would be fulfilling and would help lead others closer to Christ. I am so grateful for her and look forward to seeing her at the convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians here in Chicago this summer.

I'd like to ask you to bring to mind those in your early days of formation as a pastoral minister who were influential, who helped shape you into the person you have become. If they are still among the living, why not drop them a note or email thanking them for what they did for you? 

This brings me to my main point for today. It's all about living life with a grateful heart and what a difference this kind of attitude can make. I have certainly had my share of heartaches and disappointments throughout my life. I recall some dreams that were lost. I think of friends and family, so close to my heart, who have died. I think of colleagues who have lost their jobs recently. And yet, I try to make a conscious decision every day to be grateful for the gifts I have been given. And that begins, of course, with gratitude to God and my parents and godparents for having me baptized. When all else is perceived through this prism, then one cannot help but move through life with a grateful heart. I believe you can do this even on days when the joints are achy, when the spirit is listless, when the rain never seems to stop, when the incoming emails number in the hundreds, when children disappoint, when musical style wars rage, and even when God seems absent. Friends, lift up your hearts this Easter day. Pray with a grateful heart for all those who love you and have helped you become the person you are. We gotta sing and we gotta pray: Now Thank We All Our God.

1 comment:

catholicsensibility said...

You're an award-winning blogger, Jerry: http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/lemonade-stand-awards/. Thanks again for your efforts here.

Todd