Friday, January 29, 2010

Greetings from Seattle

Happy Friday to you all.

Arrived here in Seattle about an hour ago. I am leading a WLP choral reading session tonight at St. Ignatius Chapel at Seattle University. Here are a few photos:

I am looking forward to working with the fine musicians from the Archdiocese here tonight. I am going to take a stroll now through Pike Street market.

If your diocese or NPM chapter would like WLP to sponsor a choral reading session, don't be afraid to contact us, which you can do through the WLP web site.

Hopefully, I'll have the time in the morning to fill you in on the experience here later tonight.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Translation Thursday - Seeing the Differences in the Gloria

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Thursday." I know there are many of you who have been slavishly following the journey of the new translation. And I also know there are some of you who have had limited interest. I wanted to give you a simple example today of the kind of changes we are talking about with the new translation. Let's take a look at the first two sentences of the Gloria.

Here is the latin from the Missale Romanum:

Glória in excélsis Deo
et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.
Laudámus te,
benedícimus te,
adorámus te,
glorificámus te,
grátias ágimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam,
Dómine Deus, Rex cæléstis,
Deus Pater omnípotens.

Here is the currently used English translation:

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.

And here is the new English translation:

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will. 
We praise you, 
we bless you, 
we adore you, we glorify you, 
we give you thanks for your great glory, 
Lord God, heavenly King, 
O God, almighty Father.

You can see from this simple example that the new English translation is most definitely closer to the latin. If we were to add the Spanish translation of this section from the Gloria, you would also see that the Spanish translation is much closer to the latin as well. When the translation rules were changed to embrace "formal equivalence" over "dynamic equivalence," the translators obviously had to abide by the new rules. You can see the results, just from this small example. 

One of the major changes here is in the adherence to the sense order of the original latin. The one who is being adored, glorified, etc. is named first in the current translation and—strictly adhering to the latin—is now named at the end of the phrase in the new translation. It's strange to the ears at first, of course. I believe we are used to addressing people in this way: "John Smith, I appreciate you, I love you, I give you thanks for everything you have ever done for me." As opposed to: "I appreciate you, I love you, I give you thanks for everything you have ever done for me, John Smith." So the adherence to the latin sense order can seem a little jarring at first. What do you think? Obviously there is a recapturing of the staccato-like rhythm of the latin in the new translation. And composers have done some wonderful things with this kind of repetitive structure: "We praise you; we bless you. we adore you; we glorify you." Once again, I must say that the musical settings will have much to do with the success of the implementation.

Thanks for listening to these musings - busy, busy day here today, so my thoughts around all this are not complete. Just wanted to get this out there an ask for some feedback.

Here is a photo of yesterday's farewell for Sister Joan Thomas (see yesterday's post) here at WLP. This was taken in my office. For you chant lovers, you'll see some notated pages (on lambskin) in the background.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

WLP Says "Farewell" to Sister Joan Thomas, OP

Happy Wednesday to you all. And thanks for yesterday's comments. A special thank you to Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, for giving gottasinggottapray a shout out on the PrayTellBlog yesterday.

I'd like to do something simple today, and that is recognize one of WLP's fine employees. Sister Joan Thomas, OP, the programs coordinator in our marketing department, will be leaving WLP at the end of the week. Sister Joan, a big part of the "soul" of WLP, will soon begin a new chapter in her ministerial life, as the director of music at her Dominican mother house—Marywood—in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sister Joan has spent the past eleven years here at WLP. Joanie is one of those rare people you meet in life who inspires you to make a difference each and every day. Her relationship with our artists and composers has strengthened the bonds between those of us who work here in Chicago and those—who are an indispensable part of WLP—who are "out there" singing, playing, composing, giving concerts, and ministering in parishes, universities, and other ministry sites.

Sister Joan has seen her share of the joys and sorrows, successes and disappointments that life has offered her throughout her life. When my 38 year-old sister Joanne died back in 2001, I turned to Joan for spiritual solace in my own time of intense grief and confusion. I knew I could do this because Joan deeply knew what it meant to grieve. She shared her gift of wisdom with me; something I will never forget.

We will miss Sister Joan Thomas terribly here at World Library Publications. But, with a sense of deep gratitude and sincere hope, we send her off to the next phase in her life, her wonderful life.

If you get the chance, please say a prayer for Sister Joan, that her transition will be a smooth one and that her gifts will be strengthened, her health buoyed, and her joyful spirit will continue to inspire those around her, as she has inspired us here for eleven years.

Sister Joan, may you continue to praise, to bless, and to preach.

Thanks for listening today. Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Translation Tuesday - Caring for All

Welcome to another installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

This past Saturday, while waiting in line for refreshments during a break in my presentation to ministers of care at Addolorata Villa here in suburban Chicago, a woman in line with me began to ask some questions about the upcoming translation changes. Her first question: "How do you think the regular people in the pews will react?" I told her that my hopes were that there would be solid preparation and explanation of the changes beforehand so that people would not be caught unaware. She then began to comment about how she thought that people would generally react negatively to the whole thing. She explained that she has been involved in some kind of parish ministry since the early 1970's. She said that in the past few years she has witnessed a series of backward steps, unravelling the intent of the Second Vatican Council. She mused that this new set of translations is another backward step.

I did not have the time to engage in a conversation about such deep issues. I wanted to ask her what she perceived as the "backward steps." I could guess that she was talking about the restoration of hierarchical terms in Roman documents and documents we receive from the USCCB. She may have been talking about the tightening of rubrics around the celebration of the Eucharist. She could have been talking about the whole issue of reporting "liturgical abuses." In a sense, it doesn't really matter what issues have led her to come to her conclusions. The fact is that she has come to the conclusion that, in her view, there has been a so-called "retrenchment" taking place.

Folks, we have to be prepared not only to implement a new translation of the Missale Romanum. We have to be prepared to engage a person like this woman; a dedicated parish minister whose viewpoints may differ from our own. For her, it's not just about a translation change; it is something far deeper. She sees the Church going in the wrong direction and sees the new translation as symptomatic of that change. I know there are some who would simply brush her perceptions away; telling her that she is the one who is going in the wrong direction. There are others who would agree with her wholeheartedly; people who would organize picket lines in front of parishes denouncing the new translation and calling for a return to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Those of us entrusted with the pastoral care of all of those God entrusts to us have a difficult job ahead of us. We need to care for those who will see this new translation as a move in the wrong direction; we need to care for those who will see this new translation as move in the right direction. And, we will need to care for those whose viewpoint falls somewhere in the middle; these are, I believe, Catholics whose engagement in liturgical matters does not mean as much as perhaps our own engagement does. My great hope is that the new translation will be a time to wake up those who have settled into the great malaise. Perhaps this will be the opportunity to help them engage in what is actually being celebrated week in and week out: the paschal mystery.

Well, enough of my musings for now. Feel free to comment.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ministers of Care and Fifty Days of Joy

Happy Monday to you all.

I had a great experience on Saturday morning at Addolorata Villa in Wheeling Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Approximately 100 ministers of care from the Northwest Deanery here in the Archdiocese of Chicago met for a morning of reflection. I spoke with them about developing a deeper sacramental spirituality. They were a great group of dedicated ministers. We took some time to recall our own baptisms and we were able to experience a baptism remembrance ritual in the beautiful chapel, pictured here:

By now you know that every once in a while, I do a little plug on this blog for a resource we publish here at World Library Publications. Lent is right around the corner. If your parish has catechumens and candidates who will be receiving the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil this year, please consider giving them a gift that will help them extend their sacramental experience well into the Easter Season. The Fifty Days of Joy by Fr. Dennis Chriszt, C. P.P. S., is a book that will help the newly initiated reflect more deeply on the celebration of the sacraments at the Vigil.

Using scripture (all texts included in the book), stories, and reflections, Fr. Dennis leads the newly initiated through each day of the Easter Octave, as well as each Sunday of the Easter Season. There is a place in the front of the book to inscribe the name of the person who has been initiated. This is also a helpful resource for RCIA ministers who are called upon to lead sessions during the period of mystagogy. Thanks for listening to this brief commercial.

At yesterday's Mass at my parish, St. James on the near south side of Chicago, the lector who proclaimed the second reading was terrific. He read the long version of the reading and had us all at the edge of our seats as we listened to Saint Paul's theology of the Body of Christ unfold. When he reached the line about one member of the Body suffering—and the fact that we all suffer with that person—I couldn't help but think of the outpouring of prayers and resources for our brothers and sisters in Haiti. This has been a great example of the Body of Christ in action.

As you know, it has been almost a year since our beautiful church building was closed. Engineers continue to do the work of inspecting the structure to determine its viability for the future. I found a great photo of the interior of Saint James Church, taken from the choir loft during Mass a few years ago. Here you go:

I hope you have a great week.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thanks to Buffalo and Some Views of Saint James

Happy Friday to you all. It's cold and overcast here in the Midwest, but the days are growing longer, giving us a bit of hope that Spring might not be far away—ah, we wait in hope!

Thanks to all of my new friends in the diocese of Buffalo who posted comments about yesterday's blog. I was so pleased to see Margie G.'s comment:
Thank you Jerry....that was so beautifully put. I needed to hear it said just that way. I have been struggling with the whole idea of these new translations and you have given me just the lens I need to view them in a new way.

You see, as a Catholic publisher here in our offices and cubicles in Franklin Park, Illinois, we often wonder what impact our work is having "out there." Thanks, Margie, for this boost. And I am glad that my comments helped you in some way.

I am looking forward to a presentation I am giving tomorrow morning to a group of ministers of care from parishes in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I am also looking forward to returning to Mass at St. James—my parish here on the near south side of the city of Chicago. Even when I am gone for one weekend, due to my travels, I miss the folks there and the sense of connection and the nurturing I find there. I did take a few photos of St. James on Epiphany. Remember that we are temporarily (hopefully) worshipping in our parish hall while engineers examine the viability of our dear old church building. Here is a shot of the arrival of the four magi (two women and two men):

And here's another view of our place for worship:

I hope that wherever you are that the coming weekend's celebration of the liturgy lifts your heart and strengthens you to do the work of the Lord in the coming week.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Translation Thursday: What Really Matters

Good day to you all. It's time for another installment of "New Translation Thursday." Before I move into that, I want to tell you a little bit about my experience in the Diocese of Buffalo yesterday. Here's a photo of the good folks who were gathered there:

The diocese is working with a foundation that gives grants to parishes for faith formation initiatives. About 150 people—clergy and lay ecclesial ministers—gathered at the diocesan seminary for two days to listen to several speakers talk on a variety of topics. The initiative's aim is to address the needs of young adults in parishes. Those in attendance, working in parish teams, are beginning to formulate the kinds of programming that will address the spiritual needs of these young adults. Once the program or project is formulated, the parish team then begins the process for applying for the grant. It was very exciting to see such enthusiasm about ministry with young adults. I hope that my presentation—"Cultivating a Sacramental Spirituality"—was helpful for those in attendance. Kudos to the diocesan staff for their fine work.

As I was doing my presentation yesterday, I included a quote from the late John Paul II's apostolic letter that inaugurated the "Year of the Eucharist" late in his pontificate. This is the paragraph I quoted from Mane Nobiscum Domine:

 “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. This will be the criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged.” (28)

When thinking about the new translation, I find myself constantly returning to this paragraph. The criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations will be judged are our mutual love and our concern for those in need. The hope, of course, is that the implementation of the new translation will—even with much contention—draw people closer to the eucharistic Lord. There is part of me that says things like this: "It matters little who pours the wine into the various cups; it matters little where extraordinary ministers of communion stand before they receive the eucharist; it matters little who does the purification and cleaning of the vessels after communion; it matters little who holds the key to the tabernacle." What really matters, what actually are the criterion for the authenticity of our eucharistic celebrations are our mutual love and our concern for those in need. Of course, some of you will think that this is a slippery slope I am describing here, a kind of "anything goes at Mass as long as we feed the poor" attitude. That is not what I am suggesting. As we await new words to pray, I just do not want us to lose sight of what makes our celebrations authentic. And I want people who have celebrated the Mass in latin before the Second Vatican Council, who prayed the words in English in the first translation, who prayed the current words for the last forty years, and who will pray new words in the coming years; I want them to know that no matter what set of words was or is prayed, what really matters was or is whether or not the Mass led to mutual love and care for those in need.

Thanks for listening.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Brief Greeting from the Diocese of Buffalo

Happy Wednesday to you all.

I am sitting here in the airport in Buffalo, New York, after having delivered a keynote address this morning, focused on "cultivating a sacramental spirituality" for priests and lay ministers here in the Diocese of Buffalo. There were about 150 in attendance and we were able to go into the beautiful chapel at Christ the King Seminary and experience a baptism renewal. There's a marvelous pipe organ here, which was a great delight as we sang the Herman Stuempfle text "God, Who at the Font Once Named Us." Here's a photo of the chapel:

I will talk more about my experience here in tomorrow's blog.

Gotta sing. Gotta Pray.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Prepare and Pray—A New Resource

Happy Tuesday to you all, and welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday." I will be leaving for Buffalo, New York later today to present a keynote at a diocesan conference. My topic is on "living the sacramental life." I am excited about this, since many in attendance work with young adults.

Many have asked what the Catholic publishers have been doing to provide materials to help the Church move through the process of implementation of the newly translated liturgical texts. Perhaps it was because I was in the seminary for so long back in the 70s and 80s, or because I know so many priests, that one of the first things that came to my mind was a question about how we would help bishops and priests in their role as celebrants at Mass. Here at WLP we thought it might be a good idea to issue a recording of the four eucharistic prayers that have already been approved and that have appeared on the USCCB web site for many months now.

I phoned the good people at both ICEL and the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship, asking them if they thought this was a good idea. We received positive responses. And so, the work began. We wondered who would be an appropriate person to proclaim these texts for us. We were fortunate and privileged that Bishop Peter J. Sartain, the bishop of the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois, agreed to our request. Many of us had been present at liturgies at which Bishop Sartain was the celebrant. We all commented on how his style of proclaiming the liturgical texts was clear, prayerful, and reverent. The recording, Prepare and Pray: Eucharistic Prayers I, II, III, and IV  will be available here at WLP in the next few days.

As a "pew Catholic" who will be lifting my own heart in prayer with priests and bishops as they pray these new translations, I have listened to this recording over and over again. I wanted to begin to feel the cadences of these texts and to begin to get used to hearing them. This has been a good exercise for me personally. Included with the recording is a booklet that contains all of the texts of these prayers, so that bishops, priests, and we lay Catholics can follow along.

Our hope here at WLP is that this resource will help those who will be proclaiming these texts get a jump start, long before the actual implementation. My personal hope is that priests and bishops might put the CD in the CD players in their cars, especially those priests in rural areas who are serving several parishes within many, many square miles. I also imagine—perhaps—bishops and priests downloading these recorded texts onto their MP3 players and listening to them while exercising, walking, and while taking time for prayer.

Know that we are committed to doing whatever we can to help with the implementation of the newly revised texts. And thanks for reading this blog and for your support in our mission to serve the needs of the singing and praying Church.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Louisville and Apprenticeship

Happy Monday to you all.

I spent the weekend in one of my favorite places in the United States: Louisville, Kentucky. Why is this one of my favorite places? Because of the vibrancy of the people of the Archdiocese. I believe this was the fourth time I have been to Louisville to do presentations. This past weekend, the site was the beautifully renovated church, Our Lady of Lourdes, pictured here:

On Friday evening, I led a WLP choral reading session. The local NPM chapter wasn't sure if they would get anyone to come on a Friday night. Lo and behold, there were about sixty who came. Many had not had the experience of singing with such a large group, so it was a real treat for many, as well as for me. I was able to give them each a packet of music, about twenty choral octavos in all. They were so grateful for this gift from WLP. It was a grand night of singing. We at WLP cherish these opportunities to share the best choral music for the singing Church today.

On Saturday, I led a day-long session on the RCIA. We focused on the apprenticeship model for initiation, which is clearly articulated in Ad Gentes, the document on the Church's missionary activity from the Second Vatican Council. There were over eighty people in attendance, all on fire with the vision that the RCIA puts forward for parish life. This is why I love going to Louisville. The RCIA ministers there have been most capably led by their diocesan leader, my friend Maureen Grisanti Larison, the Archdiocesan Consultant for Adult Formation and Initiation. What I have come to discover, because of great places like Louisville, is that the RCIA thrives most vibrantly in places where there is strong leadership and passion about initiation. The Archdiocese of Louisville is a great model. It was an honor to serve these good people.

Apprenticeship as the model for Christian initiation is a topic around which I have much passion, so much so that I wrote a book about it. In case you haven't seen it, it's entitled Apprenticed to Christ: Activities for Practicing the Catholic Way of Life. Here's a link to the book on WLP's web site. And here's what the book looks like:

I spent two years writing the book, which moves through all three years of the liturgical cycle, suggesting an apprenticeship activity for each Sunday; an activity that I saw as being suggested by the scriptures for the given Sunday or solemnity. It is a very practical book and I was thrilled to see so many in Louisville purchase this for their RCIA teams on Saturday.

I am headed to Buffalo tomorrow afternoon to give a keynote presentation there on Wednesday. I look forward to sharing with you a new installment of "New Translation Tuesday" tomorrow.

Let's continue to pray for the people of Haiti. I wrote a set of intercessions for the people of Haiti, which has been posted on WLP's web site. They are also translated into Spanish. You can find them by clicking on this link. I was at Mass in a parish in Louisville on Saturday evening and heard these very texts prayed as part of the general intercessions. I believe that as this week unfolds, the Haitian people and the relief workers will need our help more than ever.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Translation: Parish Presentation

Welcome to another installment of "New Translation Thursday."

My heart is so heavy with grief for the people of Haiti. Again, please consider making a donation to Catholic Relief Services. You can find the link here. We are working hard here today at WLP to provide people with prayers and resources for relief for the Haitian people, so this blog entry needs to be rather brief.

I have been contacted by a parish here in suburban Chicago to give a presentation on the second night of their four-night parish mission next month. I have been asked to focus on the rationale for the new translation, then offer a question and answer period with the parishioners. Up until now, I have only made these kinds of presentations to the "professionals," i.e. pastors, parish administrators, musicians, and liturgists. This will be a first for me "in the trenches," so to speak. If you were in my place, what would you say?

I will also be providing their choir with a few of the new musical settings for the Mass texts. We will distribute the pew versions that night as well, then all sing through some of these new settings. Should be very interesting—perhaps a model for the way we do this when all of this comes to pass.

Sorry I can't provide more in this post. Know that I will keep you all informed about how this evening session goes at that parish.

Here's a photo I took earlier this week after I got off the train after work. Chicago, even in the snow, is a beautiful place, don't you think?

Please pray for the people of Haiti and be as generous as you can.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Let Us Turn To God in Lament and in Hope

Let us turn our hearts and minds today to our brothers and sisters in Haiti who are suffering immeasurably. I just made a donation through Catholic Relief Services. Please consider doing the same. You can access their donation page here.

At times like this, I find the psalms to be a source of two things. First of all, they help me cry out in lament and anguish to God. Secondly, they offer the kind of hope that comes only from God. Please join me in praying this sections of the Sixth Psalm.

Have pity on me, Lord, for I am weak;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are trembling.
In utter terror is my soul—and you, Lord, how long . . . ?
Turn, Lord, save my life; in your mercy rescue me.
For who among the dead remembers you?
Who praises you in Sheol?
I am wearied with sighing;
all night long tears drench my bed;
my couch is soaked with weeping.
My eyes are dimmed with sorrow,
worn out because of all my foes.
Away from me, all who do evil!
The Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my prayer;
The Lord takes up my plea.

Eternal rest grant into those who have died. May the healing Christ touch those who are suffering in mind, body, and spirit.

In anguish, despair, and hope, gotta sing and gotta pray.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Take Me Out to the New Translation

Happy Tuesday to all. Welcome to another installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

I've been noticing more and more "from the pastor's desk" articles concerning the upcoming new translation of the Missale Romanum. Google searches are wonderful at finding these. Here is an excerpt from one I recently read:

In any case, in the not-too-distant future we’re
going to have a new English translation of the priest’s
and people’s parts at Mass. It’s going to demand some
serious attention by all of us to get used to them,
because it’s hard to “un-memorize” familiar texts and
learn new ones. I have to admit I have mixed emotions
about the whole project. It’s a much, much better translation
– more rich in its language, and especially faithful
to the Latin and to the Biblical and historic images and
phrases that are so fundamental to our prayer and doctrine
– and that’s all very good. I think most people will
identify it as “very Catholic,” and that’s good too. But
again, “unlearning” anything is tough, and nobody looks
forward to that! So we’ll have to do lots of preparation
and explanation as the new texts – and the music which
will accompany them – go into effect.

I think this pastor hits the nail right on the head with respect to the issue of "un-memorizing." At a talk I gave recently about these translations, I used an example from the non-sacred realm (although there are many Chicago Cubs fans who would say that this is indeed sacred ground!) At any rate, if you have ever been to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field here in Chicago, the seventh inning stretch is quite a moment. 40,000 plus fans get to their feet, hoist their beers, and sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame like you've never heard. Every time I've experienced this moment in person, it is quite moving (maybe because I am a musician.) Go to this link to see and hear the experience for yourself. Then I say to myself, "If all these people can sing this song with such full voice, why can't they sing the music of the Mass with the same energy? After all, baseball is not going to get them to heaven." Of course, we could talk about the influence of culture (including sports) on the lives of Americans and also talk about where people put their time, money, and energy. But that's for another day. 

My point in sharing this experience is that I ask people what would happen if, over the course of a season, the leadership at Wrigley Field let the fans know that about two-thirds of the way through the season, the words to the song were going to need to change. Say, perhaps, because there was an original set of words that were uncovered and the person who owned the copyright no longer gave permission to use the revised words. (This has happened in Catholic music publishing in the past—ask me some day about the hymn Seek Ye First.) Obviously there would be an uproar, but, in the end, the law is the law. So, on that fateful day, the new words of Take Me Out to the Ballgame are projected on the jumbo screens throughout the ballpark, the organist gives the intro, the leader begins "A one, a two, a three. Take me out to the ballgame . . ." What do you suppose would occur? What words would the beer-wielding fans sing?

Some of you might say that this is a ridiculous example, and I know that it is, in the extreme. But there is something about the example that does ring true, which is why the pastor's comments above are so critical: "Unlearning is tough, and nobody looks forward to that!" 

I'll say it again: music will play a pivotal role in the re-learning of these new texts. There is lots of work to be done, folks, as you are well aware. Here at World Library Publications, we are continuing to plow ahead with our revised settings and our newly composed settings. There will be much from which to choose. My hope is that you who are pastors and musicians out there will benefit from the hard work that our composers and editors have been engaged in over these years to bring you the very best. 

And let's once again keep in mind that what we are talking about here is the summit and source of our lives as faithful Catholics, which is the very reason why the pastor cited above has "mixed emotions about the whole project." Any time you change something that is at the core of peoples' lives (like faithful Chicago Cubs fans), there are bound to be lots of mixed emotions. I'm praying hard for the Church right now. Hope you are, too.

Thanks for listening. Looking forward to the comments.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Baptism of the Lord and a Restored Font

Good Monday morning to you all. I hope your celebration of the Baptism of the Lord was a good one.  I found this photo of Pope Benedict baptizing an infant yesterday in the Sistine Chapel—great shot, yes?

Reminded me of something that happened last week. For those of you who follow this blog regularly, you know how much I walk about baptism. Go here to see the reflection I wrote about my own pilgrimage to the place where I was baptized. For some reason, one day last week, I "googled" the name of the church where I was baptized (St. Anthony in New Bedford, MA) and the words "baptism font." I was brought to a page from the parish's electronic version of their bulletin some time in 2005. The "letter from the pastor" indicated that the baptism font, which had been sitting in the sacristy for years collecting dust, had been restored and brought into the church. I emailed the pastor, Fr. Roger Landrey, and he got back to me immediately and shared this photo:

This is a photo of a recent baptism at St. Anthony's. Yes, that's the very font in which I was baptized on May 25, 1958. Fr. Landrey promised to send me more photos of the font.  This was a great way to enter the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord yesterday, with this fresh visual reminder of the day that everything changed in my life; the day that nothing would ever be the same again.

Rejoice in your own baptism during this week. And say a prayer of thanks to God for those who loved you so much that they brought you to the living waters.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ending the Week on a Note of Pride

I hope your Friday has been a good one thus far. I usually make it a point to write this blog in the early morning hours, when my mind is relatively clear, but it just didn't work out that way today.

I was quite pleased with yesterday's webinar on preparing a prayerful Lent. There were 123 people in virtual attendance, including a number of students and faculty members from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. I gave them a big shout at the beginning of the webinar. Nice to hear that students have such a keen interest in the liturgy. We asked those in attendance to complete a short survey about the webinar. Here's one comment from the surveys that I'd like to share. It came from someone who attended from Ireland!

"WLP is a premier Catholic publishing group. I love being able to work with this company that really seems to have a family feel to it. Services like these webinars are just one more thing which make WLP one of the top publishers of Catholic resources."

Folks, this is a great way to cap the week. I know I have said it before, but it bears repeating. I am so fortunate and blessed to be working with and leading such a talented group of people whose gifts help the singing and praying Church. At Mass on Sunday, I will be bringing them to mind at the eucharist and saying a special prayer of thanks for them all. Here's a photo (again) of those who are such a gift to me and to the Church.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Translation Thursday: The Work of the Vox Clara Committee

A happy Thursday to you all. It is snowing here. The weather folks tell us we are in the midst of a "three-day snow event." Ah, winter in the Midwest.

This is "New Translation Thursday." I am presenting a Webinar "Preparing a Prayerful Lent" this afternoon. There are several hundred people signed up to attend. I am very excited about this new venture for us here at WLP. I hope you can join us. Here's the link that will enable you to register: 

As far as the new English translation's timetable for implementation goes, those "in the know" are now saying that probably the earliest we can expect the recognitio from the Vatican is some time in July of 2010. This is because the Vox Clara Committee will be meeting to consider the new texts in April of 2010. The Vox Clara Committee, in the words of Pope John Paul II, was "established to assist and advise the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in fulfilling its responsibilities with regard to the English translations of liturgical texts." This is apparently the final hurdle before the texts go to the Congregation for final approval, for the recognitio

So, it looks like we have a bit more breathing room as we prepare new and revised musical settings of the Order of Mass. As you can imagine, as a publisher, we will be checking the Catholic news services every day, beginning in April, for the news. Then, once the recognitio is received, it will be full steam ahead. Remember that we are still not sure whether or not the Memorial Acclamation "Christ Has Died" will be allowed for use in the United States, as requested by our conference of bishops. Imagine what it is like as a publisher to have to lay out the pages of the various components of these Mass settings (full scores, choral scores, assembly editions, accompaniment editions), without knowing the answer to this critical question. I, for one, do not believe that "Christ Has Died" will make it into the approved version, as I have mentioned before. But, who knows? 

Be assured, once again, that we at World Library Publications are doing our very best to provide the singing and praying Church with the finest musical and liturgical resources.

On this snowy and wintry day, gotta sing, gotta pray.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Joyous "Little Christmas"

Happy Wednesday to you all and a joyous "Little Christmas" as well.

All of our Christmas decorations here at WLP remain up through at least today. My own Christmas decorations at home still fill the house, but the tree is on its last leg (or trunk, as the case may be). It's always a sad feeling to see another season go, especially for those of us who are facing a cold hard winter. It is 14 degrees here this morning and, with the wind chill, the "real feel" temperature is 4 degrees. We are under a "winter storm watch" beginning tonight, with several inches of snow expected by Friday morning. Before month's end my travels will take me to Louisville, Buffalo, and Seattle, so I should see quite a range of weather during January.

I am mindful today of my own parents, who are making their yearly "flight of the snowbirds" from Boston to Fort Myers Beach, Florida. I wish them a safe trip and a nice warm winter. It's certainly not the star of Bethlehem that they are following, but the star that is at the center of our solar system!

I hope you will be able to attend my webinar tomorrow—see the previous post. Speaking of that webinar, I need to put the finishing touches on my presentation. Wherever you are, I hope are keeping warm and cozy during these winter months. And for followers in Australia and New Zealand, I hope this summer break is a good one for you!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Invitation to a Webinar with Yours Truly

Wow, a second post in a single day - trying to make up for last week, I guess!

Forgot to mention in my earlier post that I am conducting a free webinar on Thursday: Preparing a Prayerful Lent. Here's a description of what I plan to do:

"This first in a series of WLP webinars will offer musical and liturgical suggestions aimed at helping parish leaders prepare for a rich experience of the Lenten season for all parishioners. Led by WLP’s associate publisher, Dr. Jerry Galipeau, this 45-minute presentation will focus on ways to shape the season musically, as well as offer tips for celebrating the various rites of the RCIA process during Lent. Jerry will include some suggestions for nurturing the hearts and souls of the parish leader during this very busy time of the year."

Here's the link that will enable you to register:

Gotta sing. Gotta pray. Gotta teach!

"Why Did the Pope Change the Rules?" - New Translation Tuesday

Welcome to the first "New Translation Tuesday" entry for 2010.

As you may know from previous posts, at my parish, St. James, our parish worship and spiritual life director is moving on to another position in mid-February. The search committee for his replacement met for the first time last evening.

One member of the committee kindly drove me home after the meeting. I was grateful, since the temperature was nearing the single digits—sure beat having to stand on a train platform in the cold! During our meeting, the issue of the implementation of the new translation of the Missale Romanum was discussed. This conversation was in direct relationship to the kind of liturgy and music minister we want to hire. It was expressed by everyone that we wanted someone who would not be presenting a negative view of the new translation to our parishioners; we are looking for someone who can help us navigate our way through what will undoubtedly prove to be a challenging time for our community.

On the ride home, my fellow search committee member began to talk about the changes in the translation. He began by talking about a parish west of Chicago he recently heard about. Apparently, the pastor there has "turned the altar back around" and is "saying Mass with his back toward the people." My friend began to wonder aloud about where the Church was headed. He admitted that he is not a big fan of Church hierarchy in general, especially given his perception that many bishops never admitted any culpability during the continually unfolding sexual abuse scandal. It was within the context of this discussion that he looked at me and asked, "Can you give me just one reason why the translation is changing?" At that very moment, it dawned on me that there will be many, many of us who will be asked this simple question. But, I believe, it is the context that is probably more important than the question. One can never excise context. And herein, I believe, is where what would perhaps have been an easier transition is muddied by context. Whether or not we want to admit it, we are living in a Church that is still reeling from the clergy sexual abuse scandal. Recent events in Ireland (if we believe we are, indeed, all one body) should be affecting every single Catholic around the world as much as if these instances of abuse and cover-up had occurred within our very own parishes or dioceses. I have heard of at least one bishop who has declared the scandal over, and that all we need do is move on. My question to him would challenge his very notion of what it means to be a Roman Catholic.

Friends, we have to remember that, when we begin to move into praying new words and singing new or revised musical settings to these words, that there is much more going on in our Church right now than a change of translation. And we have to be ready to deal with issues that go beyond changed words.

My response to my friend in the car last evening? I simply told him that, for a variety of reasons, Pope John Paul II changed the rules with regard to the translation of the original Latin texts of the Mass into English. I explained the principles of dynamic equivalence that were at work during the translation back in the late 1960s. I told him that these were officially recognized principles for the translation of liturgical texts. Then I told him about John Paul II's changing of the translation rules to formal equivalence; the new set of principles used to re-translate the Latin texts. He's a smart man. He listened and absorbed. After I finished my explanations, he asked why the pope had changed the rules. I told him that I believed that the rules were changed in order to bring English-speaking Catholics closer to the exact meaning of the Latin texts; that there were some deficiencies with the current translation using the old rules; that our English texts would be expressing the Latin texts more like other non-English language translations of the Latin; that it was a move to render a more exact translation of the Latin so that we would all be in closer unity.

He said nothing, but shook his head back and forth. He then changed the subject.

Many, many, many conversations like this have been occurring and will continue to occur. Frankly, I am not sure if there will be a general level of satisfaction with any answers, whether stumblingly expressed as were mine, or those that will be eloquently expressed in parish bulletins, books, catechetical programs, and from pulpits across the English-speaking world. And I truly believe that this has as much to do, if not more, with context as it does the translation itself.

We continue to work hard here at WLP to make sure that you have appropriate and beautiful musical settings for the new texts. As I have said before, I believe that it is music that will be the greatest single factor in the implementation of this new set of words for worship.

Thanks for listening and, as always, feel free to comment.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Star of Wonder

Happy Monday to one and all.

This is my first day back at the associate publisher desk here at WLP. I had a wonderful Christmas break and feel re-energized for this New Year. I hope and pray that your Christmas Season is unfolding with joy and peace.

I am usually at the annual meeting of the Catholic Academy of Liturgy and the North American Academy of Liturgy at this time of year, but I will not be attending either meeting this year. So, yesterday was the first time I have celebrated Epiphany with my parish, St. James, here on the near South Side of Chicago. It was a great celebration. Don't you think Epiphany has one of the greatest sets of readings of the liturgical year?

It has become a tradition at St. James that the magi drop by for a little visit after the announcements, and yesterday was no exception. Led by a young man holding a large star affixed on the top of a long pole, the magi followed the star throughout the hall as we all sang We Three Kings. We do things a little differently at St. James. There were four magi: two women and two men. And they gave gifts to everyone as they left the hall. It was a great way to celebrate this wonderful feast.

Well, folks, I began writing this blog entry at 8:15 this morning. It is now 4:15 and this is my first revisit to the computer - just one of those days.

Stay tuned tomorrow for another installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.