Monday, August 31, 2009

Back from Orlando - Kudos to the Diocese

Happy Monday everyone. My apologies for my not being as faithful as usual with blog entries. I left for Orlando on Thursday morning and arrived back in Chicago yesterday afternoon. The Orlando Liturgical Conference, which is held every two years, was a great event, as usual. The diocese took a very different approach with this conference. They decided to focus the event on the Advent-Christmas cycle. The conference began with an Advent Gathering Rite, during which the first candle of the Advent wreath was lighted. Fr. Michael Joncas presided and the diocese used WLP's Advent Entrance Rite for the music. It seemed strange to be "celebrating" Advent and Christmas in Orlando in August, but the whole event really worked. The environment in the main ballroom  shifted as we moved through the cycle. By the end of the event, there were lighted Christmas trees, poinsettias, a huge creche scene, and a lovely banner depicting the city of Bethlehem. The major talks focused on the cycle and it all seems to have worked so well.

I gave three talks (Music and the RCIA, The Rites of the RCIA, and Apprenticeship and the RCIA). I also presented a WLP showcase and played the piano for the closing event. I really have a blast at these conferences. I enjoy sharing some wisdom, stories, and experiences with people who are entrusted with the formation of catechumens and candidates. These kinds of events keep my feet on the ground. As you may know, my first real parish experience (after 8 years in the seminary and not having been ordained) was in the Diocese of Orlando, at St. Mary Magdalen Parish. Here's a photo of the interior:

I refer to this first ministerial experience as my "real schooling." It was wonderful to reconnect with people from the parish and from the diocese.

I want to respond to one of the comments posted by someone in response to my blog about the death of Senator Kennedy. Know that I am a supporter of the consistent ethic of life. Senator Kennedy was a supporter of a woman's right to choose an abortion. But what he did accomplish was working for a society into which people would want their children to be born. He greatly improved the social care that was extended to the poor and marginalized in his own state of Massachusetts and beyond the boundaries of that state. For this, I believe he should be honored.

I am grateful for my experience in Orlando the past few days. My years spent in the diocese provided me with such great formation. And for this, I gotta sing and I gotta pray.

I hope you have a blessed week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

May the Angels Lead You

Happy Wednesday to you all. It is rainy and dreary here in the Midwest. Matches my own sadness today as I feel the loss of Senator Ted Kennedy. Having grown up in Massachusetts and having seen the extraordinary work that Senator Kennedy did for the poor and marginalized—those whom others would just as soon cast aside—makes me grieve his passing all the more. I remember playing the organ at major archdiocesan events at Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross and watching the Senator in one of the front pews. I remember meeting him briefly at the Papal Mass on Boston Common in 1979. He carried himself with dignity and pride. I suppose some of that had to do with the "Kennedy Mystique." But, to me, it was more. The social services offered to the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were unmatched, and I believe this was due largely to Ted Kennedy's influence. Born into enormous wealth, he was nonetheless able to see the needs of the poor and work for their well-being. We have lost a great man this day. Edward Kennedy, may the angels lead you into paradise. May the martyrs come to welcome you. Rest in peace. A simple song for you this day. Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back to Work and Workshops

Happy Monday to you all. After a week of rest and relaxation in a remote cabin in Michigan, I am back on the road again. Drove up to Madison, Wisconsin last night. I have a workshop to present in a few hours. WLP's own John Angotti and I will be presenting a workshop we have done together several times: "The Doctor and the Rocker Agree: We Exist to Evangelize." Today's workshop will be followed by a concert by John Angotti. The audience is a group of Catholic school teachers gathered for an inservice day. In the workshop, I will present an overview of Church teaching on evangelization, peppered with some personal stories. John, at the keyboard, shares his music and his own journey of faith, challenging the listeners to see that what they do on Sunday at Mass really has to do with what then happens on Monday, and Tuesday, etc. You can learn more about John and his ministry here.

In case you haven't heard, the United States Bishops have developed a new web site regarding the translation of the Roman Missal. Here is the link. I haven't had a chance to look at it in detail, but will do so over the next few days and will offer some thoughts about it.

I'll be back on the blogging bandwagon as the week unfolds. I am headed to Orlando on Thursday to present three workshops and a WLP music showcase at the Orlando Liturgical Conference.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Spinning Those Hail Mary's

Happy Friday everyone.

This will be my last post for awhile. At the end of today, I am on vacation for a week, headed to a quiet cabin in Michigan - a week of relaxation, reading, and rejuvenation. No email access, no internet access, no wi-fi connection; hmm . . . we'll see how it goes.

Thanks to all of you who read this blog regularly.

On this Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I wanted to share just a little bit about my own devotion to Mary. When I was a child, on Friday evenings during Lent, my parents tried to get us all into our living room, on our knees, to pray the rosary. I remember looking outside our living room window and watching all the other kids playing in the street as the days began to grow longer. If my memory serves me correctly, my parents eventually settled for one decade of the rosary. We were just too rambunctious for this kind of prayer activity. God bless my mom and dad.

The rosary was never really a part of my prayer life after that. At one parish at which I served, there were forty or so people who remained after the 8:30 A.M. daily Mass and prayed the rosary. Often I would need to get to the choir area while they were praying and I always felt the heat of their stares on the back of my neck as I walked up the aisle and into the choir area. I swear that their "Hail Mary's" took on a more intense tone as their eyes followed my every movement. God bless them; and I know this was all in my imagination.

Several years ago, I began an exercise routine. I go to a "spinning" class at the gym. This consists of 50 minutes on a stationary bike in a room filled with about 25 bikes. The music is pumped up and the instructor guides us through the routine of spinning. It is an exhilarating and utterly exhausting workout. Here's what a spin class looks like:

After attending spinning classes for several months, I really got into the rhythm of the whole enterprise. I thought about using my spin time as prayer time and I began to pray the rosary (counting on my fingers, of course) while spinning. The rhythm of the rosary and the rhythm of spinning has become well matched for me. As the "Hail Mary's" spin through my mind, I become aware of those in my life who are most in need of prayer. I ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede on behalf of those I know who are living with cancer. I pray for those struggling with addictions. I pray for friends who are searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places. And sometimes I pray for my own strength and comfort. I will be in my spin class tomorrow morning at 9:00. I'll dedicate my rosary to all of you who follow this blog faithfully. 

Have a wonderful week, and remember: gotta sing; gotta pray.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Three Remarkable Women: A Mom, a "Queen," and a Kennedy

It's Wednesday - a picture perfect day here in Chicago. I hope that, wherever you are, God's splendor is revealed to you in surprising ways.

As some of you may know, I was born and grew up in Massachusetts. The passing this week of Eunice Kennedy Shriver reminded me of my childhood days in Woburn, Massachusetts. My family of eight lived in a relatively poor, racially mixed neighborhood. There were several caucasian families, many Puerto Rican families, and an African-American neighborhood adjacent to our own. 

My mother and our next door neighbor, Mrs. Queen, were real proponents of justice for the poor. I don't believe they realized how influential they were at the time. I remember one day these two women visiting a "slum" just up the block from where we lived. There was an Hispanic woman who lived in that hovel with her many children. My mom discovered that there was no water in the toilets in their apartment. She and Mrs. Queen together began to "fight city hall." I remember opening the local paper one evening and finding a photo of my mom and Mrs. Queen on the front page. They were standing behind the mayor of the city as he sat at his desk reviewing photos these two women had brought him, photos that showed the deplorable conditions and obvious dangers of that building. The headline read "Residents Fear Conflagration." These women were advocates for the poor in our neighborhood, poor families who lived their lives as victims of an absent slumlord (or slumlady in this case). Eventually, the building was razed and my mother kept in touch with the lady with all those children for a number of years.

This was the kind of place Massachusetts was back in the 1960s and 70s. Probably the most prominent Massachusetts family—the Kennedy family—inspired others to reach out to the poor. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a person who epitomized this kind of care. All of the testimonials I am reading about her make me feel proud to call her my Catholic sister. I will remember her and the Kennedy and Shriver families in my prayer.

May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Happy" Jerry Responds

I hope you are having a blessed Tuesday.

A comment appeared a few days ago on another blog and, because it referred directly to me, it caught my attention. The blog was discussing "glumness" at the liturgy. Here's what the comment said:
You want "smiling" and "happy" that is offered as proof of spiritual joy 
while at worship?
Visit "GOTTA SING, GOTTA PRAY," Jerry Galipeau, Doctor of Ministries.
He seems always "happy."

I'd like to address this. I remember a spiritual director I had in the seminary asking me a question that he felt was pivotal to vocational discernment: Jerry, are you sad or are you glad? This question has remained a pivotal one in my life. If I seem always "happy," I believe it is because I continue to answer this pivotal question simply: glad. When I look back over the past thirty years or so, I find a life marked with deep disappointments, moments of great trial, periods of intense grief over the death of a loved one, times when I "hit bottom," times of inescapable pain. Yet, I honestly can still answer the question with "glad."

Why? I think this is pretty simple. The Lord Jesus has made all the difference in my life. Grafted onto the paschal mystery vine, and continually trying to figure out what that means in my own life, has turned me into a person with a grateful heart. Do I still have moments of sadness and disappointment? Absolutely. Do I let those moments take control and pervade my life? No, I don't. And I think it is because of having known the hand of God guiding me through the tough times that I have been given the strength not to be consumed by the sad things. 

And this spills over into my worship life as well. Is my worship life perfect? No. Do I hear dreadful, unfocused homilies from time to time? Yes. Is the music sometimes sub-par? Yes. I firmly believe that God wants to work a miracle of transformation in me each and every time I celebrate the eucharist. I enter the liturgy with this kind of expectancy and, more often than not, God has a surprise in store for me.

This is not a bad way to live one's life. This is why I love being a Catholic and why I gotta sing and I gotta pray.

The following text, from the Kancional, is by Tobias Zavorka, 1602.

Let our gladness have no end,
For to earth did Christ descend.

On this day God gave us
Christ, His Son, to save us;
Christ, His Son, to save us.

See, the loveliest blooming rose,
From the branch of Jesse grows.

Into flesh is made the Word.
He, our refuge and our Lord.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Catholics on Call - Please Pray for These Young Adults

Happy Monday everyone.

One of the great joys in my own life is my involvement with the Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union here in Chicago (pictured above). CTU is my alma mater, the place where I earned the Doctor of Ministry degree with a concentration in liturgical studies in 1999. The Bernardin Center sponsors a program for young adults, "Catholics on Call." This is a program to help young adults who are searching for answers as they ponder a life of service to the Church. This week, approximately 60 young adults are attending a week-long conference at CTU. Each day, they pray, sing, discern, and listen to some great theologians and speakers from CTU and around the country. Last night, I played for the Evening Prayer service. Tonight, it's Taize Prayer and, for the rest of the week, evening prayer each evening. There are four musicians each night, yours truly at the piano, a flutist, a cellist, and a gifted cantor. Making music with these top-notch musicians is sheer joy for me. Dominic Trumfio, the flutist, has a new recording published by GIA Publications, so here's a little shout-out for Dominic. I have been listening to the CD in my car last night and this morning and it is just wonderful. The Image and the Hope is the name of the CD. Check it out here on GIA's web site. Please pray for the young adults at "Catholics on Call" this week as they search for ways to serve God and the Church.

Believe it or not, I was dreading going to Mass yesterday at my parish, St. James. Why? It was in the mid-90's and the church hall is not air-conditioned. And we have what I like to term "archdiocesan fans" in the hall; those big monster fans that blow hot air around and make so much noise that it's difficult to hear. 

Well, I was surprised when I took my seat. The windows were all open and, even though it was warm, the steady breeze kept us all fairly comfortable. And I was so glad that I decided to go to Saint James, rather than a closer air-conditioned church. The music was splendid and the preaching was great, too. After communion, we all sang, I Just Want to Thank You, Lord. My heart was filled with gratitude for my parish, for my parents who had me baptized, and for the privilege of being Roman Catholic. 

Hope you have a great week. Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Rhythms of the Church Minister's Life

It's Friday and it feels like Friday for those of us who work Monday through Friday jobs. I remember well—as I was reminded today on a pastoral musician's facebook entry—those days when my life didn't follow the same rhythms as most people's lives. When I was a full-time director of liturgy and music, I usually took Thursday and Friday off, which meant that Wednesdays were my "Fridays." When I left full-time parish ministry and began working here at WLP, it took me awhile to adjust to the new rhythm. As a matter of fact, for the first six months or so, I didn't know what to do with myself on Sunday mornings without several Masses to play. So, I told all my musician friends that I was available for substitute work on Sundays. I then found myself working five days a week at WLP, then playing at Masses on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings in a variety of churches in the Chicago area. I finally decided that this was too much and that I needed simply to be a "pew Catholic" for awhile. Sometimes when ministers give and give, there comes a time when they need to be on the receiving end of ministry. That's certainly what I discovered. I do miss regular music ministry. There is nothing like it. It's just that I know deep down that I have been called to use my gifts in a different way now. Same mission; different tools. And I count myself very blessed that I have found a parish that nurtures and strengthens my faith and my commitment to the gospel. For those of you who are ministering to people like me, I hope you know how much what you do really—really—has a lasting impact on your people.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Here's a snippet from Michael Perza's beautiful piece You Are the Light I Seek. I hope you enjoy it. Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

ICEL Chants and Participation Aids

I hope your Thursday has been a good day. We are in high gear here at WLP as the summer begins to wind down. Thanks for reading yesterday's "commercial."

I recently read this in the July Newsletter of the Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship:

"With the exception of the popular setting of the Lord's Prayer by Robert J. Snow, the Committee is open to the inclusion of the new chants that have been approved by ICEL. It will also request that publishers make those chant settings in the Missal the first option provided in participation aids. Other settings could be used as well, but this approach is meant to encourage use of the chants."

Well, folks, there you have it. When the new English translation of the Missale Romanum is implemented, publishers of participation aids (missalettes, missals, hymnals, etc.) will be required to place the ICEL chant settings of the parts to be sung by the people first in these publications. I think this is a wise directive.

I hope that parishes across the English-speaking world will learn these settings so that English-speaking Catholics will have a common set of chants to sing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Inexhaustible Riches of the Psalter

Hello everybody. Thanks to those who offered comments yesterday. And now, for something completely different . . . 

Every once in a while (and not very often) I am going to unabashedly promote a WLP resource. This is certainly not the aim of gottasinggottapray, but I am compelled to do so today, because this particular book has touched my own heart.

One of our senior staff members here at WLP is a gifted composer and wordsmith: Alan Hommerding. Alan recently completed a project, which has turned into a marvelous little book: Everyday Psalms: 150 Meditations for Living the Lord's Songs. In his introduction to this book, Alan has this to say: "These meditations are meant to be an invitation, an example of one way to delve further into the treasures of God's word . . . I hope you will come to know, live, and sing the gifts of the psalter a bit better, and also come to know how inexhaustible its riches are." 

Alan has done a marvelous service to us in this book. He moves us through all 150 psalms, taking a short verse from each. Following the verse, Alan shares his own personal reflection, then offers us a prayer. Then comes the real punch: Alan's further reflection, which he terms "Living the Prayer." I have been using this book for my own spiritual enrichment and I find Alan's words to be particularly poignant as I look at ways that I can better live out my baptismal vocation; that I can live the prayer. Some of the things that Alan suggests are really challenging; difficult to achieve in a world characterized by fast-paced consumerism. This book has tugged at my spirit, beckoning me to slow down and examine the ways I have fallen away from a gospel way of life. Thanks to Alan for providing a resource to help us along the avenue of conversion.

I have consistently told you how proud I am of the people whom I serve as the associate publisher here at World Library Publications. The level of professionalism here constantly astounds me. Everyday Psalms makes me feel ever more privileged to work here at WLP and to work with people like Alan Hommerding, who help us on our Christian journey that hopefully will lead us to heaven.

Thanks for listening to this little commercial. I promise not to do it too often!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An Example of the New Translation: The Need for Study, Prayer, and Reflection

A pleasant Tuesday to you all. 

In yesterday's post I asked for prayers for our priests, who will face the challenge of praying the new English translation of the Missale Romanum. I wanted to give you an example of the kind of changes we are talking about here. 

The first section below is from the "commemoration of the living" section of the current translation of Eucharistic Prayer I.

Remember, Lord, your people,
especially those for whom we now pray, N. and N.
Remember all of us gathered here before you.
You know how firmly we believe in you
and dedicate ourselves to you.
We offer you this sacrifice of praise
for ourselves and those who are dear to us.
We pray to you, our living and true God,
for our well-being and redemption.

Here is that same section in the new translation:

Remember, Lord, your servants N. and N
and all gathered here,
whose faith and devotion are known to you.
For them and all who are dear to them
we offer you this sacrifice of praise
or they offer it for themselves
and all who are dear to them,
for the redemption of their souls,
in hope of health and well-being,
and fulfilling their vows to you,
the eternal God, living and true.

Obviously there is a shift here. It takes a while to wrap your brain around the meaning of this new translation. Whereas it seems the current translation focuses on our own offering of this sacrifice of praise, the new translation includes the offering of that sacrifice of praise by all the living. It took me awhile to grasp this, and I am not even sure that I have grasped it completely. Do the faithful offer the sacrifice of praise for the redemption of their own souls, or for the redemption of the souls of all who are dear to them, or perhaps it is both? Or is it that all who are dear to us offer that sacrifice as well, on behalf of all who are dear to them? The use of "they" and "their" gets my comprehension a little twisted. Any clarity here would be appreciated.

The challenge for our bishops and priests will be to examine theses texts, fully grasp the theology they express, and then learn to proclaim the texts so that they make ready sense to the baptized people praying the prayer with the priest. Personally, I think this will take a lot of time and effort. If it brings people closer to the paschal mystery, wonderful. This may take some time. If the texts create too many stumbling blocks, we will need to face that reality. I am praying for the former.

Again, let's pray for our bishops and priests, and for the theologians and liturgical experts that will help them in the understanding and proclamation of this new translation.

Hope you have a good day. Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pray for Our Priests: Meeting the Challenge of the New English Translation

Good Monday morning all. I hope your weekend was safe and relaxing. My Sunday began with the 9:30 A.M. Mass at St. James. Great music, great preaching, hospitality galore, and a cool breeze blowing through the hall (our church has been closed for several months now). Shown above is a flyer that details the summer happenings at St. James.

One of the strange things that occurs at Mass on Sundays at St. James has to do with the fact that when the city of Chicago built the elevated Green Line subway line, they ran it along State Street on the south side. The train tracks are about thirty feet behind our church and hall. When we were in the church and the trains rolled by, we could hear the rumbling pretty clearly. Now, in the hall, with all the windows open, we hear the train approach very clearly. Everything literally has to stop when the train passes by. Lectors stop reading. The homilist stops preaching. Ah, the joys of urban parish life!

One of the things I am going to miss when the new English translation of the Missale Romanum is released is the optional alternative opening prayer, or collect, at Sunday Mass. These were prayers that were composed using original material, hence they were not translations of the official Latin texts. The alternative opening prayer for this past Sunday, the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time is this:

God our Father,
gifts without measure flow from your goodness
to bring us your peace.
Our life is your gift.
Guide our life's journey,
for only your love makes us whole.
Keep us strong in your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The new English translation jettisons these alternative opening prayers, since they are not found in the Missale Romanum. I'll miss these. I'll miss a phrase like "only your love makes us whole." The new translations of the opening prayers—at least the ones I have seen—are going to take some getting used to. I am going to try my best to pay closer attention to these prayers, in an effort to be better prepared to open my heart to listen to God's word. I hope that priests who pray them will prepare them well. One priest recently said to me, "Well, it looks like I am not going to be able to just pray these prayers like I always have, first seeing them when the server opens the book in front of me at Mass." I know there are priests out there who prepare for the proclamation of these texts, like they prepare for the proclamation of the Gospel, like they prepare for the delivery of the homily. It's going to take some time for these new prayers to become a part of the fabric of proclamation. 

I watched my pastor this past weekend beautifully proclaim Eucharistic Prayer 3. After chanting the preface dialogue and the preface, and after we sang the Sanctus, he prayed the prayer by heart, addressing the prayer to God the Father. It's going to be pretty jarring for him when the new translations of these prayers are implemented. It's a good idea for us to be praying for our priests right now, because they are facing a challenging task. From what I have seen, there are some awkward moments in the prayers. I am sure it will be difficult at first, but, as in all things, we will hopefully grow into them.

I hope this new week is a blessed one for you. Gotta sing. Gotta pray.