Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Birmingham and a Much-improved Prayer

A cold and raw "New Translation Tuesday" has dawned here in Chicago. Welcome to this installment.

Tomorrow I will be leaving for the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama, to spend two days at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama, pictured here:

Approximately seventy people will attend a two day session on the implementation of the new translation of The Roman Missal. At first, diocesan leaders thought that perhaps 25-30 people would attend, but apparently, there is much interest. I will be giving five presentations, organized in this way:

Session One: Getting to the Heart of the Celebration of Mass
Session Two: The History of the New Translation
Session Three: Examining the Changes in the Order of Mass and the Challenges for Assemblies and Celebrants
Session Four: Singing the New Translation
Session Five: The Pastoral Landscape and Developing Pastoral Strategies

I am introducing a new method during these presentations. I will be asking the people (the majority are non-clergy) to take a look at some of the presidential prayers and practice proclaiming them. I want them to get a feel for the kind of work that their bishop and priests will need to accomplish as they prepare to pray the new texts.

While doing some research with some of the various "leaked" texts, I came across the prayer after communion for the First Sunday of Lent. Here is our current version:

you increase our faith and hope,
you deepen our love in this communion.
Help us to live by your words
and to seek Christ, our bread of life,
who is Lord for ever and ever.

Here is the new text (as proposed in the "leak"):

Renewed now with heavenly bread
that nourishes faith, inspires hope,
and deepens charity,
we pray, O Lord,
that we may learn to hunger for Christ,
the true and living Bread
and strive to live by every word
which comes to us from your mouth.
Through Christ our Lord.

In my opinion, this is at least one example of a much improved text. Stop for a moment and pray this prayer again, perhaps aloud. I find the rhythm of the third and fourth lines to be natural and easily prayed. Sure, this is one long prayer, in one long sentence, but with the appropriate pauses, it is quite beautiful. And look at what has been recaptured in the last few lines. Here we find the direct reference to the dialogue between satan and Christ that marks the Gospels for the first Sunday of Lent. Truly a fine prayer.

I am greatly looking forward to the time with the people of the Diocese of Birmingham. It's one thing to have an hour and a half for a presentation; it's quite another to move through a process with a large group of people over a period of a few days. I always learn many things from these experiences. Please say a prayer for the people of Birmingham, who will be attending this session.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 29, 2010

First Sunday of Advent: Loss in the Midst of Hope

A happy Monday to you all. I hope that your celebration of the First Sunday of Advent helped fill your heart with a longing for the coming of the Lord.

At yesterday's Mass for the First Sunday of Advent, I became keenly aware of the fact that the prayers we prayed and sang would be the final time that the particular English translation of those prayers would be used.  Even though it was not my intention as I arrived at my parish, I found myself experiencing a sense of loss for those prayers that have shaped my Catholic life for most of my 52 years. For instance, I was struck by the prayer after communion:

may our communion
teach us to love heaven.
May its promise and hope
guide our way on earth.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

For me, this prayer has always issued a wonderful reminder as a new liturgical year unfolds. It reminds me that what we do here on earth as we celebrate the liturgy turns my mind and heart to the things to come; to the things that will not pass away. It reminds me that our celebration of the Eucharist here on earth is a foretaste of the life to come. And, keeping this in mind, helps me to know that I have a beacon here on earth, a light that guides my way on this earthly journey. This world will pass away but, as long as I am here on this earth, my life must be guided by the promise and hope that heaven affords.

The newly translated text will look something like this:

May these mysteries, O Lord,
in which we have participated, profit us, we pray,
for even now, as we walk amid passing things,
you teach us by them to love the things of heaven
and to hold fast to what endures.
Through Christ our Lord.

I have commented here before about this particular prayer. The placement of "them" in the fourth line of the prayer is confusing, for the pronoun, in my usual way of hearing and thinking, draws my mind to the noun immediately preceding it, namely "passing things." Of course, "them" refers to the "mysteries" prayed in the first line of the prayer. While I am no an advocate for changing any of the official texts of the liturgy, I wonder—if I were a bishop of priest—if I might be tempted to change the prayer to read:

May these mysteries, O Lord,
in which we have participated, profit us, we pray,
for even now, as we walk amid passing things,
you teach us by these mysteries to love the things of heaven
and to hold fast to what endures.
Through Christ our Lord.

So you see why I may have been feeling a sense of loss yesterday. I would venture to say that most Catholics in the pews pay little attention to the prayer after communion, or to any of the other so-called "presidential prayers" at Mass. There are a number of reasons for this. One may have to do with the fact that some celebrants may rush through these prayers or do not spend enough time preparing to proclaim them.  The prayers tend to wash over us, rather than penetrate our hearts.

My fear is that, with the new translation, some celebrants may not spend the time it will take to practice these over and over again in order to transmit the meaning. Some may simply get the official words out, doing no more than what is minimally required. If this becomes the case, we will lose the treasury that is these prayers.

Each Sunday for the next year, I will be paying closer and closer attention to the opening prayer, the prayer over the gifts, and the prayer after communion. I will spend time each week comparing these prayers to those that we will most probably be praying next year. This will be my way of mourning their loss. It will also be my way of preparing my ears, mind, and heart to the new way I will need to listen. My hope is that this comparison will lead me to discover new beauty in the newly translated prayers. I had a difficult time discovering that for the First Sunday of Advent.

I will be praying for bishops and priests in the months to come. I will be doing everything I can to encourage them to take much more time with these prayers as they begin to think about praying them a year from now. What will you do to encourage your own bishop and priest to begin thinking anew?

These days, I am taking inspiration from one of Steve Warner's pieces, Set Your Heart on the Higher Gifts.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, November 26, 2010

One Year's Worth of Prayers

Hello followers. Hope your Thanksgiving was a good one.

Here in New England with family for the weekend.

I will return to my regular blogging on Monday.

Apparently the entire Missal has been "leaked." Check out Pray Tell for more info.

One year from tomorrow we will begin to pray these newly revised texts. Please start praying fervently for your bishops and priests; they are going to need all the help they can get. And one year's worth of prayers might not be enough . . .

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Teamwork

Welcome to this Thanksgiving week edition of "New Translation Tuesday."

I am already in the Thanksgiving Holiday mode. I leave in a few hours for Boston in order to spend the holiday with my family, something I haven't done in a number of years. Let's all pray for safe travels for all.

Sorry I didn't post yesterday; the day kind of ran away from me.

I have been thinking about what to post here for a number of days. On Saturday morning, this past weekend, I shared WLP's musical settings of the Mass with several hundred musicians in the Archdiocese of Denver. I had them do some small group work beforehand, asking them what they saw as the greatest area of concern as we approach the implementation of the new translation. Several said that it was important that their pastors be "on board" with all of this so that their attempts to teach new musical settings would be fully supported by their pastors. One of the points I try to make with all of this is that in parishes, we are going to have to work together as pastoral teams with the implementation. Pastors will need to lead, catechists will need to share their expertise at formation, and musicians and liturgists will need to share the very best material, both musical and liturgical.

I don't have very much else to say about the translation and all these recent developments. I am a little weary of it all right now. I think I need a long weekend away from thinking about all of this. How about you?

I hope your Thanksgiving brings you joy and our world one step closer to God's promised reign of peace.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Rhetoric and the New Translation

Just watching the sun rise here in Silicon Valley in California. I am presenting two workshops on the RCIA, one focused on apprenticeship and the other on conversion at today's Faith Formation Conference here at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

So much has been happening in the past few days with regard to the new translation that it boggles the mind. You know, I bristle when I hear terms like "the text has been leaked." It all sounds so Watergate to me. And this is why I bristle. Ever since the advent of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, during which the press legally acquired texts that had been in diocesan files for years, I have become an advocate of more transparent processes in the Church. Of course, there needs to be a guarded custody of certain documents that deal with the legitimate privacy issues of the People of God.

But why would we even have to turn to a phrase like "the text was leaked" when dealing with the translation of the Missal? Is this a document that contains material that would harm the People of God? No. Is it a document that contains information that might expose the Church to scandal? No. Is it a document that, if "leaked" would cause irreparable harm to Pope Benedict or to our bishops? No.

If what was "leaked" eventually results in a move to more transparent processes in the future, then that is a good thing. Why are we treating this like we are all involved in an unfolding spy novel?

I think the answer is simple. We care that the texts that we pray and sing, the texts that express our love and lament, our joys and sorrows, the very beliefs that ground us, are good ones. And for many of us, this is a very, very serious issue. Someone (and I have jokingly suggested it be Dan Brown!) needs to write the history of all that has happened with the translation of the Missale Romanum since the Second Vatican Council. This obviously cannot happen until the implementation is complete. But this history will be much needed as we look for new and better ways to move through a process with clarity and integrity. No, I am not suggesting an exposé here, just an honest re-telling of the process of translation. Knowledge is power. And let's commit ourselves to using this kind of knowledge to do an even better job when the People of God are faced with translating the Missal again.

Thanks for listening. And please pray for the safety of travelers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Translation Thursday: Saddened Today

Welcome to "New Translation Thursday." And greetings from beautiful Santa Clara California after a long day of travel.

There is really only one thing to report today, and that is Bishop Seratelli's report to the US Bishops yesterday about the state of the Missal. I am confused about the difference between faithful and slavish. And frankly, I have become so jaded throughout this process that, sad to say, I have a hard time believing anything said about this translation, from anyone. Folks, this really saddens me. I guess I am a more grown-up Catholic now, after having lived through this and trying to serve the People of God throughout what I can only describe as a mess.  Perhaps I've been on planes too long today, but I am really suspect of it all. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel differently.

Anyway, here goes:

There has been some discussion recently about a report surfaced through some segments of the Catholic Press regarding the present state of the text of the Roman Missal, Third Edition. A number of facts will hopefully clarify the situation and, in so doing, give us the calm needed to welcome and implement the new text.

First, it is helpful to keep in mind the genesis of the final text that is now being prepared for publication. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) prepared for the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops preliminary drafts (“green books”) of the 12 sections of the Roman Missal. After incorporating the feedback and responses of the individual Conferences of Bishops and the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, ICEL then prepared the final drafts (“gray books”). These were approved by canonical vote by each of the member Conferences. In approving the gray books, each conference also had the opportunity to make further suggestions to the Congregation, as was done in particular by our Conference. We submitted many amendments to the texts. The Congregation, working with the Vox Clara Committee, carefully listened to what the bishops said. The Congregation incorporated many of the suggestions of the various Conferences (including our own), combined with their own review and changes, and put forth the final text. The Congregation followed the principles of Liturgiam Authenticamfaithfully but not slavishly.

This is the final text now being readied for publication. This process includes a final review and copy edit which, given the size of the text, uncovers some minor questions of consistency, typographical errors, and layout. Those questions are being addressed by the Congregation for Divine Worship. This review has not dealt with the translation itself. The critique that has circulated has necessarily failed to take into account the final version of the text, which incorporates some corrections issued by the Congregation since the transmittal of the full text to the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops in August 2010.

To sum up, there is a final text. It has received a recognitio. As the work of editing and assembling nears completion, there is assurance that the published text will be available in more than ample time for implementation in Advent 2011. It is good to note also that the catechetical preparation for implementation is already underway and has proceeded with much enthusiasm and wide acceptance by both clergy and laity. It is clear at this point in time that there is an attitude of openness and readiness to receive the new text. Let us pray in this time of transition and change that the Roman Missal, Third Edition, will enable all to understand more deeply the mysteries we celebrate.

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli
November 18, 2010

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Musical Mass Settings Have Arrived!

Happy Wednesday to you all.

And thanks so much for yesterday's comments. Feel free to add your own voice to yesterday's post.

Yesterday afternoon was a pretty exciting time here at World Library Publications. The first round of new and revised Mass settings were delivered to us by the printer, including the newly composed settings: Mass of Wisdom by Steven Janco, Mass of Awakening by Scott Soper, and Mass of Grace by Lisa Stafford. Revised Mass settings that arrived included: Mass for Christian Unity  by Jan Vermulst (Richard Proulx, adapt.), Sing Praise and Thanksgiving Mass by J. Michael Joncas, People's Mass by Jan Vermulst (Richard Proulx, adapt.), Misa Luna by Peter Kolar, and Mass of Redemption by Steven Janco. We took a quick photo of these Mass settings, as you can see above.

This is the culmination of years of work by our composers, editors, and art and design professionals. When I held all of these Masses in my hands, I was filled with a tremendous sense of pride and joy. I have been sharing examples and samples of these settings around the country for at least two years, as their production unfolded. I can honestly say that our original approach to new and revised Mass settings has resulted in what you see before you (and a few more will soon be released). Basically, what you see before you is an array of very diverse musical styles for the Mass. Yesterday, one of my friends in the chant world, Jeffrey Tucker, had this to say about the Mass of Grace and the Gloria Simplex, both of which are composed in chant-style: "I think you might be the only major publisher who has seen the power of this genre of music, and I really hope that it does well." Thanks, Jeffrey, for that vote of confidence.

In my travels, I have watched and listened to musicians as they sing through these various settings. We decided very early on to make decisions about Mass settings based on the reality of parish life across the United States. There just isn't a "one size fits all" approach. When I think of our mission here at WLP to serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church, I can't help but believe that we are serving those needs very well with our Mass settings. I look forward to the day when I can join my own voice to others as we sing and pray these texts.

What's in the works for us? Soon you will see a newly composed Mass, the Mass of Saint Ann, by Ed Bolduc. This has been composed for the parish that uses a more contemporary style of music at one or more of its liturgies. I have shared the Gloria from this Mass with quite a number of musicians and they have sung it with gusto (and with smiles on their faces!). You will also soon see Steve Warner's Mass for Our Lady. Many who have sung this setting have made the following remark: "Even after singing it once, I feel like I have been singing it for years." You will also see a Mass setting for children by Kathleen Demny, Mass of Joy. Kathleen's original setting has become quite popular and the new setting is quite fine. We are also working with our African-American composers, who are crafting Mass parts for Black Catholic parishes.

Folks, it was so exciting to hold these settings in my hands yesterday. Perhaps some day we will all share the similar feelings when we are actually holding The Roman Missal in our hands (and it will take two hands to hold that enormous book!)

I am leaving tomorrow morning for San Jose, to speak at the Faith Formation Conference sponsored by the dioceses in California's San Francisco Bay area. Then on Friday it's off to Denver to spend Saturday with the musicians of the Archdiocese for their Saint Cecilia day. This will include a one hour rehearsal for the music for a Mass that will be celebrated that morning. Then we'll all have lunch together, then I will have a presentation on what parish musicians will need to do to assist in the implementation of the new translation. I will also share samples of WLP's new and revised settings. I am really looking forward to what looks like will be an exciting day.

So much excitement going on. I hope that you visit WLP's web site and Sing the New Mass to see and listen to our musical settings.

I know that this probably sounded like a long commercial. I guess there is some of that kind of thing mixed in here. But, as a publisher and a singing and praying Catholic, it is a wonderful thing to have watched people employ their God-given talents to craft such beauty. And for that I am humbled and proud, all at the same time.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: "Do You Think God Really Cares?"

Welcome to this edition of "New Translation Tuesday."

One of my colleagues here at World Library Publications recently related a conversation she had with her Dad, a relatively new Catholic. The conversation was about the changes in the new English translation of The Roman Missal.

This man asked this question: "Do you think that God really cares about these ridiculous changes to the Mass?"

I would like to ask you, the faithful readers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray: How would you address this man's question?

This is much of what we will face as the coming months unfold. I am already envisioning the conversations that will take place during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, when I will be spending time with my family, many of whom are practicing Catholics. And these conversations will be taking place in the Archdiocese of Boston, where the Church as a whole has suffered immeasurable damage from the fallout of the clergy sexual abuse crisis there.

What would you tell this man?

Gotta sing. Gotta Pray

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Thrill Yesterday and Surely a Thrill in January

Monday has dawned with glorious sunshine here in Chicago.

I had a bit of a surprise yesterday at St. James, my parish here on the near south side of Chicago. Snapped this photo yesterday after Mass:

When I picked up the program for Mass, I noticed that one of my own pieces, On the Wings of Change, had been chosen as the song after communion. Our music director came over to me at the Sign of Peace and asked if I would play it. So, there I sat, after Communion, playing this piece with the community gradually joining the choir as it unfolded. I wrote this piece for the National Council of Catholic Women in the early 1990's. It's always very moving to hear one's own song sung at the liturgy. I have very few published pieces, so this was an unusual thrill for me.

I wanted to alert you to a little contest that WLP is running over on Facebook. We are giving away a trip for two (including airfare—anywhere from the "lower 48 states"—and two nights hotel) to New York City to attend the John Angotti concert at Carnegie Hall on Friday, January 14. It's easy to enter, so please take a look. This promises to be a great performance, as John will be joined by other artists and a 200 voice choir. I am planning to attend and would love it if one of the regular readers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray won the prize!

I hope the week ahead is a good one for you. Please pray for our bishops who are meeting this week in Baltimore. They have some challenges this week, including the election of a new president, as well as dealing with what has been occurring with the new translation. I raised a few Hail Mary's for them this morning.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, November 12, 2010

WLP Appreciation

Happy Friday to you all.

Today is a special day here at World Library Publications. Our staff is leaving a little early to be treated to an early dinner at the home of Mary Prete, our Vice-president of Parish Services. Mary and I have been cooking for days to show our appreciation for the work and dedication of the staff here at WLP.

This has been a particularly challenging and exciting year for us. A major focus of our work, of course, has been the crafting of musical and pastoral resources to prepare for the upcoming new translation of The Roman Missal.  When I think of the hours and hours of work by our composers, our editors, our art department, our editorial department, our marketing department, our permissions department, and our helpful people in WLP customer care, it really boggles my mind. All this, while continuing to serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church in so many other ways. This is a very special place to work, due in the largest part to the wonderful staff here who work for you, the people in the field.

So, today I would like to say "thank you" to a great group of dedicated employees. To the WLP family: you are simply the best. I am grateful for the privilege of leading you and working with you in this great adventure.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Translation Thursday: A Year Anniversary

Welcome to this edition of "New Translation Thursday." 

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the "New Translation Tuesday" and "Thursday" posts. I took some time this morning to look back. I am offering you some snippets from each of the last twelve months. 

November 2009
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? 

December 2009
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.

January 2010
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.

February 2010
I have always had empathy for people whose language of prayer—the language they use to pray to God in those deeply personal and contemplative moments—is not necessarily the language they are asked to pray when parishes recite and sing the liturgical texts at Mass. What effect will the new English translation have on people whose first language is not English? Some of you would respond that there is an easy answer: sing and pray in Latin. This might be helpful in large multicultural gatherings of people who do not share any common language. Does replacing one "second " language with another "second" language really address the issue?

March 2010
Sure, there will be a time of transition, a period of liminality. It will just be natural for many of us to get all worked up about the new translation. And, if the newly translated texts become a wall of impenetrability—if they truly become a block that prevents God's action in the liturgy from reaching our hearts and minds—we will need to speak up; we will need to talk with our pastors and bishops about this.

April 2010
So, today I am taking a deep breath. There is indeed much work of preparation to be done and I will continue to focus on the new translation every Tuesday and Thursday. Everybody, take a deep breath with me, too.

May 2010
The question that kept coming to me as I tossed and turned that night was this: "Have you made my God more distant with your new translation—have these new words stressed the transcendence of God to the diminishment of the immanent?" In other words, as I am shaped by a re-shaped lex orandi, will my own belief, my own lex credendi be reshaped in such a way that I feel more of a distance from my God, who became flesh in Christ, and sent the Spirit as a companion on my life's faith journey?

June 2010
Folks, as a Catholic publisher, owned by a dedicated Catholic family, today I am inclined to look out at someone and cry, "This is a fine mess you've gotten us into." Only I don't know toward whom my frustration should be directed. Frankly, there is that hesitant part of me—the brutally honest part, really—that  believes that this frustration should be directed beyond the grave to the one that many are trying to call "the great." For all that Pope John Paul II did for the Church, I wonder if his lasting legacy will be a more divided, more polarized Church. Only time will tell.

July 2010
Seriously, think about the implications if we do not "get" the text by the end of July. And think about what it means when the situation at hand implies that the conferences of bishops are very much in the dark. I am left wondering, "What kind of Church is this?" Aren't we all called to try to be on the same page? Aren't there transparent processes in place so that, following them, we all have a sense that the conclusions reached are ones that have been the fruit of scholarly dialogue and sound pastoral debate?

August 2010
We were quite surprised when the August 20, 2010 text arrived, only to find that there were changes to these already approved texts. 

September 2010
Is anyone else who reads this blog as frustrated as I am about all of this? I know that in another year, we will actually have the missal in hand (although that is beginning to sound like a less realistic expectation), and that what we have is what we have. And we know that the Church has gone through this kind of thing before. Perhaps it was easier when communication was not so instant; when we didn't have e-mail, when there were no blogs, when there was no instant posting to web sites. Perhaps before all of this technology the process was as complex as it is now, with its unexplainable and sometimes secretive twists and turns. Maybe not knowing about all of that was a better thing. But this is a new world with so much at our disposal to assist God's people. Still hopeful here, but that hope is getting chiseled away bit by bit. Thank God that God is God and we are not.

October 2010
And, through all of this, I want to say that these prayers are more important than ever. I, for one, want to "to love the things of heaven and hold fast to what will endure." My opinion? The 2008 text, at least for this one prayer for this one particular Sunday, looks like it will endure. But not the 2010 text.

Whether we want to admit it or not, these prayers have the potential to transform hearts. I believe to the bottom of my heart that when these texts are proclaimed, God's work of salvation continues in the here and now. I, for one, need these texts to do that for me, for my mom and dad, for my siblings, for those with whom I worship, and for the entire Church. And for that salvation to continue, the meaning of the texts must be able to be proclaimed and understood.

November 2010
Folks, if you have been following developments over the last few weeks, you know that there has been a major snag in the process of the the new English translation of The Roman Missal. Simply put, there have been adjustments made to the text that the bishops of the English-speaking conferences spent years working on and had sent to Rome. Apparently, there are mistranslations, some theological blurring, and generally a move away from the principles laid down inLiturgiam Authenticam in some of the translations. I am joining my voice with the voices of those who have expressed the hope that these issues will be addressed and resolved quickly and thoroughly. It is hard to find anyone who is happy about all of this right now.


It's been quite a year, readers, hasn't it?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"From the Font Through All Our Days"

Welcome to Wednesday's edition of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray.

Last night I had the privilege of speaking to a group of liturgical ministers in Orland Park, a suburb south of Chicago. Saint Francis of Assisi is a relatively new parish here in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Here's a photo:

We talked about cultivating a baptismal spirituality as a foundation for ministry. The evening included a ritual of baptismal remembrance.

When I do these rituals, I always use a wonderful text by Herman Stuempfle, God, Who at the Font Once Named Us. The text appears below. Why not spend time today reflecting on these words? As I told the folks last night, also spend time remembering those who loved you so much that they brought you to a baptism font and opened a whole new way of life for you.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1. God, who at the font once named us
Sons and daughters, born of grace,
Bathed us in baptismal waters,
Bound our lives in love’s embrace:
Make us one in Christ’s vast fam’ly
Drawn from ev’ry land and race.

2. God, who in the water washed us,
Cleansing us from sin’s deep stain,
Raised us up, a new creation,
Freed, forgiven, whole again:
Fill us with your gracious Spirit;
Let Christ’s life within us reign!

3. God, with Christ’s own cross you marked us,
Made us yours eternally.
By that sign you chose and claimed us
For Christ’s work of ministry.
When he calls us, where he leads us,
Help us follow faithfully.

4. God, whose flaming, whirlwind Spirit
Touched your people while they prayed,
Kindle faith and love among us;
Make our witness unafraid,
Serving all with Christ’s compassion,
Seeking justice, long delayed.

5. Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Hear the grateful hymns we raise!
You have blessed, upheld and led us
From the font through all our days.
Yours the honor, yours the glory,
Triune God, to you be praise!

Text: Herman Stuempfle © 1999, World Library Publications. All rights reserved.
Used with permission.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: "Areas of Difficulty In the Received Text of the Missal"

Welcome to "New Translation Tuesday."

Well, "the report" — "Areas of Difficulty In the Received Text of the Missal" — is now completely public, having been released by the National Catholic Reporter yesterday.

I have just now begun to look at the document; I am sure you will agree that this is quite amazing, to say the least. I am stunned.

My lingering question: will publishers receive texts in time for the actual Missal itself to be published in time for November 27, 2011 and will worship resources publishers receive the texts they need to produce worship resources for that timeframe as well?

I am beginning to wonder if we here in the Unites States might need to take the same course that New Zealand has taken, namely to begin praying the texts of the Order of Mass on the First Sunday of Advent 2011, then the rest of the Missal texts at a later date (entrance songs, collects, prayers over the gifts, the majority of prefaces, communion songs, post-communion prayers, blessings). Since the music publishers have been given the go-ahead to publish, print, and sell the musical settings of the Mass (this permission was granted a few weeks ago by the BCDW), it has become obvious that we will be ready to begin singing the parts of the Mass on the First Sunday of Advent in 2011. But what about the rest of the texts? The report "Areas of Difficulty In the Received Text of the Missal" casts doubt on where the translation process is at this point. For instance, the report could be wholly ignored. If that is the case, the text is the text, and we should see it soon. If not, there appears to be a large amount of work to be done to address the issues in the report. One wonders if this planet's English-speaking bishops are deciding to take some other course of action to address what some have termed a "debacle."

These are very strange times. I'll say it again: more and more people are less and less happy about all of this. How could this have been avoided? Comments welcome.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Little Night Music: On Broadway and at Saint Francis of Assisi

I hope your week has started well.

Mine began on the 6:17 A.M. New Jersey transit train from Penn Station in Manhattan to Newark Airport, then the flight to Chicago. Beautiful day here; not so beautiful in the Northeast, I hear. I hope our friends up there are all safe and sound.

I had a few hours of non-meetings yesterday and was able to get a ticket to A Little Night Music on Broadway; the 3:00 matinee. The show stars Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. It was a wonderful performance and I felt so blessed to be able to see it.

Then it was off to the 6:15 Mass at St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street, with WLP artist Meredith Augustin leading the parish as the director of music. Simply put, I could listen to Meredith sing all day. If you have never had the chance to experience Meredith, please check out her two WLP recordings, Come and Go With Me and Deep River:

And, if you are ever in Manhattan, please visit St. Francis, particularly the 5:00 and 6:15 Sunday evening Masses. I'll leave you with a little bit of Meredith.

Well, lots to do here, folks. I hope your week is a good one. Check back tomorrow.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Metuchen Diocese: Apprentices to Christ

Greetings from the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey.

I will be delivering the keynote at their faith formation conference in a few hours. The theme for the day is "Apprentices to Christ." I have been invited to talk about the way the catechumenate can serve as a model for life-long faith formation. I guess I am the right person for the keynote, since I have focused on this issue for years, particularly through my book, Apprenticed to Christ.

The fact that both the Congregation for the Clergy (through the General Directory for Catechesis) and our own bishops (through the National Directory for Catechesis) say explicitly that the baptismal catechumenate is the "inspiration for all catechesis offers the Church a tremendous challenge. While not neglecting a systematic formation in the faith, the apprenticeship model challenges us to embrace a "learning-by-doing" principle in Christian formation.

This is exciting stuff, folks. I hope that today shows the good people here in Metuchen that there are great opportunities and challenges when one embraces this vision.

I hope that your weekend is a good one and that you enjoy your extra hour of sleep!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New Translation Thursday: Muster the Memory

Could it be "New Translation Thursday" already?

When I began these weekly Tuesday and Thursday installments (it will be one year on November 10), I never could have imagined that we would be where we are right now. On November 10, 2009, in the first installment of "New Translation Tuesday," I wrote this:

"As you know, the US bishops will be voting next week on the completed translation and, hopefully, sending it to Rome. Then the waiting game begins. We wait for Rome's recognitio, or really Rome's approval of the new translation. How long will this take? I've heard everywhere from one month to several years. There are texts in Rome awaiting recognitio that have languished there for many years. But, we are also told that the pope is keenly interested in having the new translation approved as quickly as possible. So, we wait and see. I hope you can appreciate the impact that all of this has on a publisher of resources for praying and singing the liturgy. On Tuesdays and Thursdays in the weeks and months to come, I'll share more with you. For now, let's remember that what is being re-translated from the Latin is what draws us all together in Christ."

" . . . what draws us all together in Christ." From what I have seen and heard, the process that has led up to the new English translation of the Missale Romanum has done very little to draw us all together in Christ. Conflicts have arisen; factions have drawn lines of demarcation; blogs have arisen that give people a chance to talk honestly—and sometimes with invective—about the translation. Articles have been written, keynotes and workshops have been presented—from all kinds of perspectives.

Folks, I for one have been living with an inner conflict about all of this. I am a dedicated and practicing Roman Catholic, with perhaps too many years of theological and liturgical training. There is that part of me that, at first, was very hesitant to accept change of this magnitude. I was conflicted because I believe that the Spirit is at work in the Church, even in something that I didn't necessarily or personally think was something positive for the people of God. And that conflict eased the more I realized that our current translation did need improvement. Now, those inner conflicts have taken hold once more. I, myself, am feeling not at all drawn to Christ through all of this.

Will whatever surfaces as our "new translation" indeed draw us all together in Christ? From where I sit, it is looking less and less likely.

I am feeling like the one who wrote psalm 69 (of course not to the same degree):

But I am afflicted and in pain; let your saving help protect me, God,
That I may praise God's name in song and glorify it with thanksgiving.
My song will please the LORD more than oxen, more than bullocks with horns and hooves:
"See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, take heart!
For the LORD hears the poor, does not spurn those in bondage.
Let the heavens and the earth sing praise, the seas and whatever moves in them!"
God will rescue Zion; rebuild the cities of Judah. God's servants shall dwell in the land and possess it;
it shall be the heritage of their descendants; those who love God's name shall dwell there.

Even in the midst of exile and ruin, the psalmist still mustered the memory of God's saving works. Praying with this psalm helps me put all of this translation mess into perspective. I am not trying to be the wearer of the rose-colored glasses here, my friends. Like the psalmist does so often, we need to name the frustration; we need to voice our anger and lament. Then we need to muster the memories of what God has accomplished.

What we need to realize, of course, is that this collective memory of God's saving works is enshrined in words. And this is the most serious issue we are facing, most especially those of us who pray in the English language at the liturgy. Will future generations of Roman Catholic English speakers suffer from a diminishment of the collective memory, because the intelligibility of our texts has somehow been diluted?

These are very serious questions. I certainly didn't think that these would be my questions a year after the bishops of our country approved what they believed to be the English translation.

Let's hold on to our hats.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pray for the Seven Gifts

Wednesday greetings to you all.

The translation issues continue. While on the bike this morning in my spin class at the health club, I began my usual "spinning" of the decades of the rosary. This morning I prayed for my sister who is living with cancer, as well as for my struggling parish. Then I decided to pray for the Church during this troubling time with regard to the new translation. As my legs spun around, I tried to focus my prayer and found it very difficult to do so. For whom was I praying? When I thought about what has been going on, I began to get a little angry and frustrated with those who have "tinkered" with the text. I quickly realized that was getting me and prayer nowhere. I prayed for the pope. Then I prayed in thanksgiving for those who are addressing the problems squarely; I wasn't sure who exactly to pray for, so I decided to ask God to bless and protect the work of the staff at ICEL, particularly Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth and Mr. Peter Finn. Then I asked the Blessed Mother to guide, protect, and bless the work of Monsignor Anthony Sherman and Fr. Rick Hilgartner at the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship. If I think that I as a publisher have been frustrated over these past few years, I think it is a drop in the bucket compared to what these people have experienced.

Finally, I prayed simply for people in parishes. And I prayed for a renewal of the first gift of the Holy Spirit we have all received in the sacrament of Confirmation: Wisdom.

Perhaps today is a good day to remind ourselves of that prayer from the Rite of Confirmation. As we join  hearts and voices at this time, let's ask for an new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all who are working hard to help us to pray.

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin 
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.
Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Shrugging Shoulders

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

Today, our Catholic day of remembrance, affords me the time to pause and remember those who have touched my life but have gone to the other side of life. Today, I remember with gratitude mentors Jim Dunning, Christiane Brusselmans, Frank Sokol, Joanna Case; people with whom I had the privilege to minister. I remember friends who died in the early prime of their lives. I remember with fondness great grandparents and grandparents (my Memeres and Peperes), my many aunts and uncles and cousins. And, of course, touching my heart most deeply today is the memory of my youngest sister, Joanne, who died in early 2001.

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

Now, onto the new translation business.

Folks, if you have been following developments over the last few weeks, you know that there has been a major snag in the process of the the new English translation of The Roman Missal. Simply put, there have been adjustments made to the text that the bishops of the English-speaking conferences spent years working on and had sent to Rome. Apparently, there are mistranslations, some theological blurring, and generally a move away from the principles laid down in Liturgiam Authenticam in some of the translations. I am joining my voice with the voices of those who have expressed the hope that these issues will be addressed and resolved quickly and thoroughly. It is hard to find anyone who is happy about all of this right now.

On a more serious note, being one of those people who is traveling around talking with people about the pastoral implementation of the Missal, these times are especially trying. It is challenging enough to bring people to the realization that our current translation needed some work. It is challenging enough to move people through the differences between Comme le Prevoit and Liturgiam Authenticam. It is challenging enough to try to help people see that there might just be a kernel of wisdom behind the move to go through a new translation process. It is challenging enough to try to respond to peoples' real concerns about the cost of all of this—both the costs associated with the translation process itself and the costs that parishes will incur (purchase of one or more missals, music resources, catechetical resources, etc.). Now comes the challenge of trying to explain to people the mysterious moves of the past few months. Those who were on the fence, ready to give up on the Church, will only be more incensed by these latest moves. Those who have been champions of the principles espoused in Liturgiam Authenticam are now scratching their heads as they see the latest translations that have been leaked, which show a move away from those principles.

The real challenge, for me at least, is in the catechesis that many of us are asked to do for parishes, clergy gatherings, and diocesan leadership gatherings. I believe in clarity and transparency. And I believe the people of God deserve this kind of clear communication and sharing of the facts. Hopefully, within a very short period of time, we will have answers to the questions such as "Why?" and "Who?" Until then, I guess we just tell people that "final adjustments are being made," in the hope that people don't ask more probing questions. There is nothing quite like being a speaker in front of a group of people and when a question is asked, all one can do is stand there shrugging one's shoulders.

Perhaps that's all we can do right now.

A blessed All Souls Day to you.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gotta Sing Gotta Pray and Gotta Have Fun Sometimes

A happy and blessed All Saints Day to you all.

On Friday night, the organ concert at Houston's new co-cathedral was wonderful. If you ever have the opportunity to hear this fine instrument, I hope you enjoy its color and richness as much as I did. Saturday's RCIA workshop in the Archdiocese focused on the period of purification and enlightenment in the RCIA. Those in attendance were engaged and enthusiastic about their ministry. It is such a privilege to be able to help people in their initiation ministry.  Here are a few photos I took at the St. Dominic center in Houston on Saturday:

A great big thank you to the Office for Worship for arranging this day. What I did in Houston was part of the "WLP Ambassadors" program. Basically we come to the diocese, free of charge, presenting workshops on a number of topics. All we ask in return is that we be able to set up a little store where we can make our resources available for purchase. This is a win-win, especially for the people who come to the workshop. Many of those ministering "in the trenches" don't get the opportunity to explore the kinds of resources for ministry that we offer here at WLP. And we get to show people the work of our authors and composers. All in all, the day went quite well.

The current saga of the continued "development" of the new English translation of The Roman Missal has filled the pages of this blog in recent weeks. This is a very serious issue. Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I have had my own struggle with all of this. I have never been a big Halloween kind of person, but this year, I felt the need to just let go amidst all of the seriousness. I was invited to a Halloween party yesterday and decided to have some fun. So, folks, here is the very not-so-serious side of Doctor Jerry:

A little too much self-disclosure? Perhaps, but, hey, you gotta have fun sometimes, right?

Thanks for following my blog. And I hope these two very special days in the liturgical calendar are graced ones for you and your loved ones.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.