Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Rest in Peace, Rev. Lawrence Madden, SJ

A very sad beginning to this Tuesday morning. Received word that Rev. Lawrence Madden, SJ, the founder of the Georgetown Center for Liturgy, has died. Larry was an energetic advocate for the reform of the liturgy and was one of my real heroes. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

In a rare Sunday post, I mentioned that my pastor seems to be taking a new approach to the celebrant's prayers at Mass. He prayed the Opening Prayer and the Prayer after Communion very slowly and deliberately.  Austin Fleming made this comment when he read the post: "Also a very good way to pray the current texts which, when prayed reverently and carefully, are very often very fine prayers."

I am gearing up for the clergy convocation for the Diocese of Davenport next week. This convocation will include some very practical elements. Fr. Paul Colloton of NPM and I will be helping those in attendance practice the newly translated texts. The more I see of these texts, the more I am convinced that "slow and deliberate" will be the way to go. And this is a good thing. I am greatly looking forward to this time with the clergy in Davenport. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Slow and Deliberate

Just a little mystagogy on this morning's 9:30 Mass at Saint James.

I noticed that my pastor is praying the Opening Prayer and Prayer after Communion much more slowly and deliberately. Very, very good way to begin to get ready to pray newly translated prayers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day

My apologies for not having posted yesterday.

I wanted to wish you all a restful Memorial Day weekend. It is quite cloudy here in Chicago early on this Saturday morning. I am looking forward to three days here at home, catching up on lots of cleaning and planting. Let's remember those who died to preserve the freedoms we enjoy.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Translation Thursday: Davenport and Cheerleading

Welcome to this Saint Louis installment of "New Translation Thursday."

Saturday of this past weekend, I presented a keynote and WLP reading session to over one hundred musicians in the Diocese of Davenport. The session was held at St. Mary and Matthias Parish in Muscatine, Iowa, pictured here:

The diocesan liturgical leadership is to be congratulated, particular Deacon Frank Agnoli, the director of the office of worship, for encouraging parish musicians to attend this session, as well as another similar session led by WLP's Alan Hommerding in the Davenport diocese a few weeks ago.

I spent time presenting a very brief history of how we have arrived at this point with respect to The Roman Missal, Third Edition. I talked about the evolution of codified liturgical texts in the history of the Church, as well as the differences between dynamic and formal equivalence. There were very few questions or discussion points. I think we may be reaching the point that people are beginning to realize that we are now at a serious point of welcoming the newly translated texts.

This diocese took this approach with the musical settings. The diocesan office (in consultation with other musicians) suggested that three settings from each publisher be suggested for use in parishes. I led the musicians through the three chosen from WLP: Stave Janco's Mass of Wisdom, Scott Soper's Mass of Awakening, and the Vermulst/Proulx People's Mass. They also chose Richard Proulx's Gloria Simplex. We were in a wonderfully reverberant space and the musicians sang their hearts out.

I want to make something clear about what I tell people when I am invited to talk about the new translation. I tell them that I am not a cheerleader for the new translation. The reason I tell them that is the fact that we have not yet had the actual experience of singing and praying these texts at Sunday Mass; we simply cannot make judgments or jump on the cheerleader or boo-leader bandwagon until we begin using these texts. I tell them that I find real challenges in some of the sentence structure of the prayers, as well as in the way the translation can appear stilted and awkward when read. I also tell them that there are places where the faith is expressed so much more clearly than it is in our current translation. You who follow this blog regularly know that my hope is that the advent of the new translation will bring about a new moment for liturgical catechesis.

I am flying back to Chicago this afternoon; in the office tomorrow for a whirlwind day, I'm sure.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Greetings from Saint Louis

Wednesday greetings to all. My apologies for missing yesterday's post. Google's Blogger program, which I use for this blog, was experiencing technical difficulties, and I was unable to post.

I am in the beautiful city of Saint Louis, leading music for a Catholic healthcare system's annual leadership conference. I have been doing this for this system for a number of years. Their commitment to quality and leadership has inspired me and has become a source of great strength and renewal each year.

I will save my "new translation" comments until tomorrow's post.

In the meantime, let's all remember in our prayers those whose lives have been affected by the devastating storms this week.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Strange Sighting on My Way to Mass

Monday greetings to all.

This will be a short post today; I am leaving for the airport shortly.

On my way to Mass at Saint James here in Chicago yesterday morning, I spied something odd on a trailer being towed by a small truck. This was on Interstate 90, the Dan Ryan Expressway here in the city. I quickly got out the camera and snapped a photo.

So, my question to you is, "What is the strangest thing you have ever seen on your way to Mass?"

Here's mine:

I'll have lots to share in the coming days, particularly about my day in the Davenport Diocese on Saturday.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Translation Thursday: Share the Responsibility

"New Translation Thursday" is once again upon us.

I am preparing a keynote presentation I will be delivering on Saturday morning to the musicians of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa. My aim is to assist them in their overall plan for teaching new and revised settings of the new translation of the Mass. One of the tips I have been sharing with musicians has been to share some of the responsibility for learning a new or revised setting with the members of the parish. I suggest that parishes post links on their parish web sites (and/or publish those links in their bulletins) to the electronic music files for the chosen Mass that appear on the publishers' web sites. I have suggested in my own parish that we do this. Father could make an announcement on a given Sunday, telling the members of the congregation that they have "homework" to do in the coming week: "Everyone is asked to log on to the parish web site and click on the link for the new Gloria. Next week our music director will be rehearsing this before Mass; wouldn't it be wonderful if many of us did our "homework" and we filled this church with the singing of the newly translated text of the Gloria?"

So, faithful followers, how do you think this approach would go over in a parish?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Catholic Book Stores

Wednesday has dawned rainy and dreary here in Chicago. Shortly, I am headed to the annual meeting of the National Church Goods Association. I presented a webinar for this group several weeks ago, outlining some of the history about The Roman Missal, Third Edition. Most of those in attendance will be those who sell church goods - religious articles, books, music, prayer resources, rosaries, vessels for the liturgy, vestments - at bookstores and religious articles stores throughout North America. Often, when I am on the road, a local Catholic book store will set up a booth or table with materials pertinent to my presentation. What I find so helpful about these kinds of situations is the fact that most Catholics in ministry either do not visit Catholic bookstores or simply do not have a Catholic bookstore in their area. At these events, those in attendance just "eat up" the materials.

I remember the days when I was growing up in the Boston area. I would visit the Matthew Sheehan Catholic bookstore and spend hours in the place, thumbing through books, looking at music and LP's, and gazing at all kinds of religious art. When I moved to Chicago, I did the same thing at Alverno bookstore on Irving Park Road. I know it sounds strange, but Catholic bookstores have a similar aroma to them. I guess it's because they sell candles and incense. I always had a sense of "being at home" when I visited these stores.

The digital age has meant that we can do lots of our Catholic shopping on line, which is a good thing. But maybe it's time to visit a Catholic book store or religious articles store again.

Do you have a store like this in your area? Do you visit often? Comments welcome.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: My Own Parish Process and Pastoral Companion to the Roman Missal Has Arrived!

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

Last night, the liturgy committee at my parish, Saint James here in Chicago, met to do an evaluation of the Triduum and to talk about our plan for the implementation of the new translation of the Missal. We circulated the new text of the Creed. Some members had not yet seen any of the changes, and some commented that this is not going to be easy for our people. As the plans for the "ever-widening circle" approach to implementation begin to be set in stone in our parish, the members of the committee agreed that we all need to be on the same page. Consequently, our next meeting will be an educational meeting, led by yours truly.

For those of you who have placed orders for Father Paul Turner's fine book, Pastoral Companion to The Roman Missal, the good news is that the book has arrived and shipping has begun. For those who have been waiting for the book to be in the house, now is the time to order. I know this sounds like a big commercial, but this is a book that should be on the shelf of every bishop, priest, and person who is involved in the liturgy. In my travels I have noted the keen interest in this book among catechists as well. One priest in an East Coast diocese told me last week that, as the liturgy director for his diocese, he has been bombarded with questions from the priests in the diocese, questions centered on what he feels priests will need for the implementation. He told me that he told these men that if they were to buy only one book to assist them, it should be Father Turner's  Pastoral Companion to The Roman Missal. Of course, I was delighted to hear this. As the book's publisher and, more importantly, as its editor, I find this to be a fascinating and helpful resource.

Let me give you a "for instance."

The new collect for this coming Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of Easter, is this:

Almighty ever-living God,
constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,
that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism
may, under your protective care, bear much fruit
and come to the joys of life eternal.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

And here is Father Turner's commentary on this particular collect:

"This prayer is new to this day in the 2002 Roman Missal. Immediately after the Council, the prayer for the Fifth Sunday of Easter was repeated on the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time. The first English translation in the Sacramentary transposed one of the lines, adding minimal variety to the two prayers. Now, the collect for this day has been replaced, and the one for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time remains. This collect first appeared in the post-Vatican II missal on Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter. It has now been moved to the next day. That missal turned to the Ambrosian Rite for this prayer, creating a new one from two different prayers for Tuesday of Holy Week in the Sacramentary of Bergamo."

Call me a liturgical geek, but I find this kind of investigation fascinating. Knowing the background and the ways that different texts from different missals and sacramentaries have meandered through the centuries and have now been woven together to form this prayer helps me, at least, appreciate the treasury of prayers crafted long ago that now appear in The Roman Missal, Third Edition.

So, for those of you who have a similar appreciation, please consider getting your own copy of Father Paul Turner's Pastoral Companion to the Roman Missal. You can order the book here, or by calling our helpful Customer Care team (1 800 566-6150), Jude, Patty, Didi, or Kathy. (And tell them Jerry sent you!)

Thanks so much for listening today.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Wonder of Baptism

Monday greetings.

I had a wonderful weekend here in Chicago. Glad to be home and not on the road for a change. The highlight of the weekend came yesterday at the 11:00 A.M. Mass at Ascension Church in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago.

I was privileged to be the godfather of Robert Andrew Xavier Kalemba, the son of Keith Kalemba, one of our music editors here, and his wife, Clare.

The folks at Ascension know how to celebrate well. Under the musical leadership of David Anderson, vice-president over at GIA, the liturgy was uplifting, drew the assembly into the singing, and provided a wonderful moment of celebrating the new birth of this new child of God. I hope that the members of Ascension parish realize how truly blessed they are.

In preparation for the baptism, I have been wondering over the past several weeks what an appropriate gift I could bring for Robert Andrew Xavier. I decided on a crucifix and while in Oberammergau, Germany a few weeks ago, I purchased a hand crafted wood crucifix. Wrapped in the box was a letter I wrote to this small child, hoping that he might read it from time to time as his faith life unfolds.

It struck me while standing there at his baptism yesterday just how challenging it is to live the Christian life in our American society. When entrusted with the baptism candle, these are the words in the rite of baptism: "Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. These children of yours have been enlightened by Christ. They are to walk always as children of the light. May they keep the flame of faith alive in their hearts. When the Lord comes, may they go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom."

Keeping the light of faith burning brightly is no small task. Yesterday Robert Andrew Xavier began his life's pilgrimage of faith; a pilgrim's march that began at the font at Ascension church in Oak Park, Illinois, and will hopefully end when he joins the saints, with that flame of faith burning brightly in his heart, as he goes to meet the Lord. This child has lots going for him, primarily a strong Catholic family and parish environment to nurture his faith. My hope and prayer for this little one is that, as his Catholic life unfolds, he will continue to be strengthened through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Robert Andrew Xavier, you have put on Christ, in him you have been baptized. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger Back on Track

Happy Friday everyone. Blogger (the program that supports this blog) has been experiencing technical difficulties, so yesterday's post was "missing" for most of today, but now it is back sans photo.

Celebrating my birthday tomorrow. I was born on the Feast of Saint Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot.

I hope that your weekend is a good one.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Mass in Regensburg, Germany: Passivity and Activity

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Thursday."

I wanted to provide further commentary on my experience at Saint Peter's Cathedral in Regensburg, Germany.

I attended the Sunday Mass at which the mens and boys choir sang.

Most German churches I visited had a cool electronic system for posting the hymn numbers. All of the churches has a German national Catholic hymnal in the pews. The number was flashed for the Gloria and very few people picked up the books. The Gloria was the traditional Latin chant. It was intoned by the celebrant; then the Gloria was supposed to be chanted aternately between choir and people. Very few people in the pews sang at all (my voice was sticking out quite obviously!). The Entrance and Communion Antiphons were chanted in Latin (with psalm verses) by the choir alone. The Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei were taken from Masses that I did not recognize, and were sung beautifully by the choir alone. The "Memorial Acclamation" was recited and the Great Amen was chanted on two pitches. Following communion, there was a hymn of thanksgiving, in which everyone joined; the number was flashed on the electronic hymn board.

What struck me was the stance of the celebrant and assembly while the choir sang alone. Now, granted, I am an American Catholic not used to this European Cathedral style. So, while the music chanted or beautifully sung in parts by the choir was lovely, I was left feeling like a spectator. The celebrant and people looked as though we were all simply waiting for the piece to finish before moving on. Don't get me wrong; I loved listening actively, but when these crictical moments in the liturgy, when I am called to add my voice to the "choirs of angels and saints" become moments of passivity, I just feel disconnected to the action of the liturgy.

The one thing that I found quite striking during the Mass, however, was the singing of the dialogues. I would venture to say that the majority of people (90% plus) at this Mass were parishioners, or Germans from other parts of the country. There were not lots of obvious visitors at the Mass. The Germans sang their responses in the dialogues with vigor. Perhaps at other Masses celebrated at this cathedral, Masses without choir, the people do join in singing much more of the parts of the Mass. Perhaps if I ever return there, I should experience more of a "low" approach and see how the singing is.

So what does all of this have to do with the new translation? I return once again to the importance of singing the dialogues once we implement the new translation. As opposed to the spoken form, the chanting of these dialogues really lifts the entire experience into a more sacred realm. To the Germans in Regensburg, it was just so natural. It is my hope that this becomes the practice in the United States.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: A Little Help From My Friends?

Another "New Translation Tuesday" has rolled around. Welcome.

Spent the morning at a medical clinic; jammed my foot in a crack in a gap in a sidewalk on the way to work; always something. No broken bones, thank God. I have broken both feet before and was afraid of another fracture, so it should be a week or so and hopefully I'll be good as new . . . maybe better?

At any rate, I have begun to formulate some ideas for my plenum address at the NPM convention this summer in Louisville. I have the closing spot on Friday morning. Here's the title and description:

Unfolding the Mystery: Catechesis and the New Missal
Praying and singing the new translation of the Roman Missal offers us the opportunity to reflect more deeply on why we do what we do when we celebrate the liturgy, this magnum mysterium, week after week. Catechesis will serve the transition in two ways: It can help us prepare our worshiping communities for this new day, and it can help us reach into the depths of the mystery we celebrate to bring us closer to the living God.

I would like to ask you a big favor. If you could formulate one or two sentences on the topic of "Catechesis and the New Missal," addressed to approximately 3,000 pastoral musicians this Summer, what would you say?

Who knows, perhaps your sentences will find their way into my presentation. I would love to make this a presentation that weaves the comments of the faithful followers of this blog throughout it.

Ice on the foot, Ibuprofen in the body.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Pipe Organ: Didn't Realize How Much I Missed Playing

Monday greetings to you all.

Back at the "home office" here in Franklin Park, and so grateful for a wonderful week in Bavaria.

The pipe organ is my first instrument. I studied jazz organ as a child (yes, you can just picture me, the nine-year-old playing the organ at the front of the organ store at the suburban mall; playing songs like "Sonny" and "Midnight Cowbow" and "Tico Tico" to the delight of the hundreds of mall shoppers).

When I was in fifth grade, I played the organ at Mass for the very first time; I played "We Gather Together" at the school's Thanksgiving Mass; played an old and wonderful Hook and Hastings tracker organ in my home parish, Saint Charles, in Woburn Massachusetts, the interior of which is pictured here:

Also in the fifth grade I began to learn Bach and from then until my senior year in high school I kept up with the jazz and pop stuff, as well as the classical literature. During my first few years in the seminary, I would get on the trains and buses in Boston and make my way over to Sait Paul's choir school in Cambridge, for my 7:30 A.M. Thursday morning organ lesson. This is where I learned how to hone my skills at accompanying hymns and chant. The last two years of seminary college, I was a piano performance student at Boston College. All during this time, I continue to play the organ at the seminary and Archdiocesan Masses in Boston.

After fifteen years in parishes with fine pipe organs, I began my work here at WLP in 1999. Not having a full- or part-time "gig" anymore has meant that I have slowly veered away from organ playing. Most parishes where I substitute, or most conferences and other venues where I provide the music have pianos, which I love to play as well. But, I have really missed playing the organ. This is why last week was such a thrill for me. Strapping on the old organ shoes and taking out the Bach and discovering that, for me, organ playing is like riding a bicycle, was so satisfying. There were only about 23 priests on the retreat, yet their voices were strong and filled the chapel at the abbey. And I discovered once again that the foundational support for the congregational singing provided by the pipe organ is really unequalled. It was such a great re-discovery for me. Not quite ready to go out and get a part-time organ playing position somwhere, but I was tempted.

This publishing house continues to be a haven of activity as we prepare resources for the upcoming implementation of the new translation. I have returned with renewed energy for our mission to serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Altotting and Farewell to Bavaria

Saturday greetings from Prien a.Chiemsee, Germany.

I wanted to share information about yesterday's final Catholic site. I visited the pilgrimage area at Altotting, here in Bavaria. Here's apparently how it all started. A young mother's son drowned in a lake or river in the area. She brought the boy's dead body to a statue of the Blessed Virgin, a "black madonna," and the child miraculously came back to life then and there. Millions and millions have visited this shrine, most recently Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. It is the most significant Catholic pilgimage site in Germany.

The small chapel that is home to the statue is also home to the actual hearts of some Bavarian kings, including Ludwig II, his father, and his grandfather. The small chapel is a place of awe, silence, and great reverence. The exterior of the chapel is literally covered with small paintings of thanks to the Blessed Virgin, the black madonna, for her intercession.

Some photos.

There are several churches that ring the central plaza, where stands the chapel of the black madonna. It's the one with the smaller pointed steeple on the left. Here's a photo of the front of the small chapel.

I took this photo of one of the sign posts in the square there. The Germans want to make sure that tourists know how to find all the spots.

One final photo of this beautiful pilgrimage spot.

I hope your Second Week of Easter has been a grace-filled week. I am certainly feeling the abundance of God's love and peace.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, May 6, 2011

One Last Day in Bavaria: Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, A Beacon of Peace

Friday greetings to all. Today marked the final day of the army chaplains' retreat at the Ettal Abbey. Mass was celebrated this morning and the principal celebrant was Father John McLaughlin. John was the president of my senior class at Woburn High School in my home town in Massachusetts. John was ordained in his thirties, after having been a successful businessman for a number of years. He is just finishing up a stint as the vocations director for the Archdiocese of Military Services in the United States. This position was created three years ago and John was the first director. John has travelled the world for the past three years talking with men in the active military who have expressed an interest in a vocation to the priesthood. Did you know that 10% of priestly vocations in the United States are current or former military personnel?

Here's a photo of Fr. John McLaughlin (center), Fr. Tim Hubbs (my seminary classmate who is the army chaplain who arranges the retreats-on the right), and yours truly:

It was tough to say goodbye to these fine priests; it was great hanging out with them during our free time this week.

I wanted to share the story about the Ettal abbey with you. In the early fifteenth century, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was traveling through Bavaria and he had a statue of the Madonna and child with him. When he arrived at the Ettal area, he was inspired by a vision. That heavenly vision dictated that he build an abbey at the site and enshrine the statue there. It's so amazing to me that this entire abbey and entire town was constructed around a very tiny statue. Here are some photos I took of the statue this morning, enshrined in the abbey Church where we celebrated Mass this morning. The statue is in the gold area on the high main altar.

And here are some close-ups. It strikes me as a very tender scene.

After leaving the Abbey, I decided to visit one of the most personally inspiring Catholic sites for me; the parish church in Saint Radegund, Austria. This is the parish where Franz Jagerstatter was the sacristan; the parish church in his home town. Franz was beatified by Pope Benedict a few years ago. Blessed Franz refused to join Hitler's army, because of his Catholic beliefs. He was killed by the Nazi regime because of his refusal. If you ever have a chance to read my late friend Gordon Zahn's book, In Solitary Witness, do so. This is an inspiring story that will leave you humbled and awed at the devotion of this young husband and father who gave his life for the Catholic faith. The book is out of print, but it can be found on Ebay and Amazon. Visited his home in Saint Radegund today, as well as the parish church where he served as sacristan and worshipped the Lord at Mass. Some photos, first of his home, then the parish church, as well as his grave.

His parish church:

A photo of the church's interior:

And finally, Blessed Franz's grave (his wife and children are still living and attended his beatification). Folks, this is one of the most sacred places on earth for me; in this time of war and killing, this blessed man's story preaches the Catholic message of peace in a voice clearer and stronger than any other voice today.

Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, pray for us.

One more incredible Catholic pilgrimage site was visited today, but I will wait until tomorrow morning to share that with you.

It's home to Chicago tomorrow afternoon. This week has been just what I needed; wonderful prayer with great priests; awe-inspiring scenes of God's natural wonders displayed on this planet; great German food and beer; great music-making; and inspiring Catholic sites. Maybe it's time for Doctor Jerry to lead another catholic pilgrimage; this time through northern Italy and Bavaria! Anyone interested?

God is so good.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Translation Thursday: One More Installment from Bavaria

"New Translation Thursday" greetings from Ettal, Germany. I had a chance to speak with some of the miltary chaplains who are on retreat here this week regarding the new translation. They are, like most priests, looking for resources to help them implement the changes. Their ministry can be quite different from the parish priest; many of them are deployed in war zones and the new translation is often the farthest things from their minds; helps put things in perspective for me. these fine priests are providing ministry to soldiers and their families; people who are often in a great amount of distress. Please keep these men in your prayers.

Here is a photo I took today of the exterior of the Benedictine Abbey here in Ettal. Today is actually the anniversary of the founding of the Abbey.

And here is a photo of the organ I played yesterday and will play again for the closing retreat Mass tomorrow morning.

The organ basically sits in a little niche off of the choir area. Believe it or not, I was trying to sing verses of the communion song from that organ bench into this space:

I couldn't resist sharing a few photos I took of the sacristy, where the priest and ministers of the liturgy vest and prepare for Mass:

I have greatly enjoyed being the music minister here in this beautiful place all week. Please enjoy some additional photos I took while doing some sightseeing over the past few days. First, King Ludwig II's Neuschwanstein Castle:

And Saint James Cathedral in Innsbruck (as you know, Saint James is my home parish in Chicago):

Here are a few photos of the interior of Saint James in Innsbruck:

Finally, a few photos of some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. So much to be thankful for.

The monks of Ettal brew some very fine beer and liqueurs.

Thanks for browsing through my "vacation slide show."

I hope your Easter Season is unfolding with joy and grace.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Glorious Days in Bavaria

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday" from Bavaria. Please indulge me today; not wanting to focus on issues of the new translation just now. The retreat here at the Ettal Benedictine Abbey began in earnest today. I wanted to share some photos of the very modern "Rainbow Chapel" at the Abbey:

Here's a photo of me at the wonderful pipe organ.

And here are some photos of the abbey church, where we will celebrate Mass tomorrow morning.

Looking forward to sharing more as the week unfolds.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, May 2, 2011

God's Abundant Blessings in Music and Majesty

Monday greetings from Ettal, Germany. Arrived here at this small monastery village yesterday afternoon. Before leaving Regensburg, I had the privilege of attending Mass at the cathedral, Saint Peter's.

There was a men's and boy's choir that led the music in a high European cathedral style (you can just about see them in the rear of the sanctuary in the photo below). The proper entrance and communion antiphons were chanted in Latin by the choir. The processional into the cathedral was accompanied by the organ, then when the celebrant reached his place, the chant began. The assembly was not invited to become involved in the chant.

The Kyrie was sung by the choir; lovely piece. The hymn number was then projected and the assembly alternated verses of the Gloria in Latin with the choir.

Those "regulars" in the assembly knew the chanted dialogues quite well and responded with vigor. The Creed was sung in Latin, again alternating between people and the choir. A motet was sung by the choir at the preparation of the gifts. The Sanctus was from an elaborate Mass; we all stood there and listened. The Memorial Acclamation was recited and the Amen was chanted in response to the chanted doxology. The Lamb of God was another extended setting from a Mass;we all simply waited for it to be concluded. These choir pieces were magnificently sung; but it seemed so much like a concert to me than the celebration of Mass.

After Communion, a hymn number was posted. We all sang a great Easter Hymn, with an Alleluia refrain. The Mass concluded with the dismissal with its Easter alleluias attached, to which the assembly responded with vigor.

Then came one of the musical high points of my life. There has been a brand new organ installed at this cathedral, which I read about the day before; the dedication will be celebrated next month, so I was not expecting it to be used. Was I wrong! The organist played at least a fifteen minute postlude, a complete improvisation weaving together the themes of the post-communion hymn of thanksgiving and the chant from the Easter dismissal. I stood there and felt the tears flow freely. It was absolutely stunning. Just when I thought it couldn't sore any higher, I was brought to loftier heights. I was left speechless.

After Mass came the drive south through Munich to Ettal, in Southern Bavaria. It is here that the German Alps thrust themselves out of the Alpine planes; reminded me of the music I had heard that morning.

Today I visited the "roof of Germany;" the Zugspitze, the tallest peak in Germany. The retreat began this evening. I am privileged to be playing a marvelous pipe organ all week in a startingly modern chapel that is part of this Benedictine Monastery. At two of the Masses, I will play the organ in the main abbey Church. I will take some photos of the monastery tomorrow and share them with you then. Until then, enjoy the Bavarian Alps.

Feeling God's abundant blessings today.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.
P.S. Since I do not have access to my e-mail accounts, I am not able to monitor comments. Feel free, though, to comment, and I will post when I return at the end of the week.