Friday, December 28, 2012

With Gratitude

As the year 2012 winds down to its final days, I want to take this time to thank all of you who visit Gotta Sing Gotta Pray. I appreciate your candor and your comments. It lifts my spirits when, at a conference or when speaking in a parish or diocese, someone comes up and says, "Gotta sing, gotta pray." I hope these reflections have helped you grow in your faith. I know that your engagement here has enlightened my own.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Translation Thursday: "Invisible"

"New Translation Thursday" greetings to you all.

I have to admit that I was paying very close attention to the prayers at the Christmas Mass at my parish this week.

My pastor chanted Preface I for the Nativity of the Lord. I found myself getting caught up in confusion over this line:
". . . so that, as we recognize in him God made visible,
we may be caught up through him in love of things invisible."
Often, when I am listening carefully to the preface being chanted, the meaning becomes elusive. Of course, now that I read this preface, I "get it." But the placement of "of things invisible" caught me off guard, because I didn't have an instant recall of the previous phrase in the previous line "made visible."

The word "invisible" just doesn't resound with me; when I hear it at liturgy, I can't help but think of the way this word has been used in my secular experience, i.e. "the invisible man," etc. I guess I need to continue to develop a new way of liturgical understanding. Sometimes it's just hard for this 54 year-old Catholic!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Boxing Day

Happy Boxing Day to all.

It has been quite a few days at my parish, Saint James.

Here is a report from our local Fox station:

Very strange to be at Christmas Mass with cameras and reporters all over the place. It was a splendid Christmas Mass. The choir was, in a word, amazing and my heart was lifted in hope for our future.

I have come down with the bad cold that so many seem to have contracted; so I am putting in a part-time day here at the office.

I hope your Christmas was filled with joy.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Hope for Many More Christmas Masses for My Parish

Merry Christmas once again. Keep neeeding to remind myself: The church building is simply a house for the Church.

Media hovering around during our Christmas Masses at Saint James.

A taste of the reporting:

This one quite inaccurate:,0,372672.story

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

The sun has set here in the Midwest.

A very Merry Christmas to all.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Christmas Goose

December 21, last day at work here for me at WLP until the day after Christmas. A few years ago I shared a story with you a few days before Christmas and wanted to share it with you again today. This is one of those memories that has stayed with me for years. For those who have heard it before, I hope it brings you joy, as it does for me each time I recall this event. For those who have never heard it, I hope it brings you some insight and wonder. Here goes.

The Christmas Goose

I served as director of liturgy and music at Saint Marcelline Parish in Schaumburg, Illinois from 1992 to 1999. A few days before Christmas, as I was walking to my car from the church, I heard a strange noise. It sounded like someone was coughing. I looked around and saw nothing but a group of pesky geese on the church grounds. A few hours later, walking back to the church, I heard the sound again. This time there was only one goose and as I drew closer, I could tell that the sound was coming from this goose. The goose was obviously in some kind of struggle. It was trying to flap its wings and it was emitting this kind of coughing sound. I found the maintenance man, Gil, and asked him to come with me to take a look. As we cautiously approached the struggling goose, we looked more carefully and saw that the poor creature had become entangled in fishing line. The line was wrapped around its wings, preventing it from flying. The line was also wrapped tightly around the bird's neck, which was probably the reason why it was emitting this coughing sound. Gil and I decided that we needed to do something for the poor goose. He phoned his daughter-in-law, a veterinarian, who gave us instructions on what we could do to save the poor bird.

We went into the maintenance room and found some wire clippers and a towel. Gil and I very quietly and slowly approached the goose—they are very large that close up!—and we placed the towel over the bird's head and then we began our work. Wearing gloves, we both began to examine the areas where the fishing line was wrapped around the goose's body. We carefully began to snip the line, pulling pieces of the line away from the bird, who remained quite docile the entire time. To be honest, my heart was racing at this point. When we finally clipped the line around the bird's neck, we knew we had removed all of the fishing line. We then removed the towel and walked very quickly away from the bird.

The goose just sat there looking at us. It began to cough again and after a few strange noises, it rediscovered its own honk. It just honked and honked away.

Then it began to test its wings, flapping around a bit on the ground. We stood there transfixed by all of this. Then, without a moment's hesitation, the bird began to flap its large wings and lifted itself in the air. Gil and I watched as the bird soared higher and higher and farther and farther away.

Once the goose was out of sight, Gil and I just looked at each other and I noticed a tear in his eye, blurred by the tears in my own eyes.

Those of you who regularly read this blog know that very few things in my life remain unexamined. I am always looking for some deeper meaning in events that occur. When I thought about this encounter with the goose, a comparison came to me instantly. What Gil and I managed to do with that coughing goose was akin to what God has done for us through the incarnation of Jesus, our Messiah. Caught up in sin, we are freed by the mercy of God, who loves us so much that he sent his only Son to be our redeemer. And what does this freedom from sin offer us? The potential to fly free, to soar as God's redeemed people, to be lifted up for a life of service to God's people.

May you and those you love have a very Merry Christmas.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Translation Thursday: Where Else?

"New Translation Thursday" greetings. A winter storm warning has been issued for Chicago beginning later this afternoon and through the evening. "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"

This morning I happened to take a look at today's Prayer after Communion in the Missal:

Grant divine protection, O Lord,
to those you renew with this heavenly gift,
that to those who delight in your mysteries
you may give the joy of true peace.
Through Christ our Lord.

When I read the first line, I thought about the families of those little children killed in Connecticut last week and how the words "divine protection" would sound to them. This morning I also read snippets from an interview granted by the pastor at Saint Rose parish in Newtown, CT, where many of the funerals for these kids are taking place. This is part of what he said: "Where else but the church could we bring this unspeakable act? Where else but the altar could we find some resolution? People bring their wounded and shattered selves here for healing, mending and transcendence."

This pastor, Monsignor Robert Weiss, is a wise and pastoral priest for his people and, by extension, for all of us. Too often we (and I include yours truly here) forget to bring our "wounded and shattered selves" to the altar. I believe deep in my heart that God wants to work a miracle of transformation each and every time we "proclaim the death of the Lord;" each and every time we celebrate the Eucharist. And, even in the midst of the kind of unspeakable tragedy that occurred in Newtown last week, God is still there, reaching out to help us find "healing" and "mending." 

I pray that these families will some day and some how find "the joy of true peace" of which today's Prayer after Communion speaks. I remember well the time when my youngest sister died. I honestly felt that I would never get over it. In her last years, I remember well what Advent was like for me. When I sang "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," I asked God to truly come and take her; to relieve her of her suffering. And if that meant Christ's coming in glory at the end of time, so be it. My prayer was fervent: "Come, Lord Jesus. And please come now!" Advent has always been a bit difficult for me since her death, as I recall those days when I longed for Christ's second coming that would inaugurate a new era of peace and healing and comfort for this weary world and for my sister. Of course, the Lord did come for her and the Lord continues to come into my life every waking moment. At times I recognize the Lord's presence; at other times I am too busy or too self-centered even to notice that the Lord is near.

As I tell people who are grieving: After time, it still hurts as much; it just hurts less often. It will take much time for these families to travel the journey of grief. My hope is that they find at the altar a place where at least some resolution can be found.

"A branch shall sprout from the root of Jesse,"
and the glory of the Lord will fill the whole earth,
and all flesh will see the salvation of God."

Come, Lord Jesus.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Lost Art?

Wednesday greetings from a cold and overcast city of Chicago. We are currently under a "Winter Storm Watch." The first storm of the season is always accompanied by hype and excitement.

I have been watching and reading the news regarding Friday's tragedy in Connecticut. There is one thing that "we the people" seem to agree on: that something must be done. This is the case for so many issues in our country and, dare I say, our Church, these days. On so many issues, we all seem to agree: something must be done. The sad reality (which I hope will change in my own lifetime) is that we are so polarized politically and in our religious viewpoints that we simply haven't been able to agree on what the "something" is. We get so mired in our rhetoric that the problems of violence and injustice continue to escalate as "we the people" continue to argue with one another. The art of compromise appears to be a lost art.

This blog is really no place to air political viewpoints, so I am not going to do so here. I am the kind of person who, when I read a direct quote from an elected official, or listen to them speak, have no hesitation when it comes to sending an e-mail to him or her with my own reaction; positive and negative. I know that these e-mails are probably read by some staffer and never reach the elected official, but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing I did something to add my own voice.

Quite a few years ago, I sent a letter to a sitting president, critical of a policy he was espousing; I supported little of what this particular president stood for. I never received a single response, until a week before Christmas when, in the mail, I received an eight by ten glossy photograph of this president and his wife brightly smiling at me. The area beneath the photograph read, "Thank you for your support."
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Even Now . . . Gotta Sing Gotta Pray

Friday morning began in the usual way, with meetings here at the office, then a quick ride over to O'Hare. I was flying to the California desert to spend the weekend with my parents and a dear friend, a retired priest from the East Coast. I play piano at this priest's Christmas party every year. For the past several years, as I sat there playing and singing, I thought to myself, "Hmm . . . my mom and dad would have a great time at this party." So I was able to arrange for them to be there this year. They flew to California from Boston on Wednesday and, as I said, I was headed out on Friday to meet them there.

As I was in the air, the enormity of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut was unfolding. Like most everyone, what occurred was simply incomprehensible. I kind of had to put my own emotions on hold for the weekend, because of the fact that it was supposed to have been a fun weekend with friends and family.

At the Christmas party, my priest friend arranged for five students from the new Jesuit High School in the desert, Xavier, to sing a few carols at the party. Their director, Stephanie, is a Notre Dame graduate and had sung with the Notre Dame Folk Choir. The final piece they sang was Rosa Mystica, by the late Rev. Chrysogonus Waddell, OCSO. A hush fell over the room of revelers as the choir sang. I was seated behind them, so I was able to look into the peoples' faces as they watched and listened. These were parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. I couldn't help but think what was going through their minds as they watched and listened to these young people, thinking about their own young ones, remembering how their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren have grown and flourished. Not being a parent myself, I will never know those kinds of feelings. Later in the weekend, at another party, I listened to my Dad try to express his own feelings about the tragedy and he simply had to stop because his emotions took over. My mom and dad had six of us and they have five grandchildren. My two nieces are about the same age as those children killed in Connecticut. This is just unimaginable sorrow and pain.

On this "New Translation Tuesday," I feel like tragedy can help put other things into perspective. I did find solace in the celebration of the Mass on Sunday. I wasn't paying too close attention to the words; just remembering the Lord's sacrificial love was what I needed.

Let's continue to pray for these families. And even in the midst of all of this . . .

. . . Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Translation Thursday: Ritual Maneuvering

"New Translation Thursday" greetings from Chicago.

This afternoon, I will be presenting a webinar for NPM focused on the celebration of the initiation sacraments at the Easter Vigil.

As I prepared the presentation, it became apparent that celebrants and those who prepare the liturgy of the Easter Vigil need to consider two main sources, The Roman Missal and The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. There can arise some ritual confusion. For instance, the Missal directs that at the time of baptism (following the blessing of the water, the text of which should be prayed from the Missal) the celebrant should then turn to the RCIA text. So, in the RCIA text, the questions asked for the renunciation of sin for those about to be baptized differs from the text for the renewal of baptism promises later in the Vigil when the celebrant presumably returns to the Missal for that renewal of baptism promises (before then returning to the RCIA text for the profession of faith and act of reception for those baptized candidates (from another Christian tradition), who will be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church. Just writing that sentence points to the challenge here.

My question to you: How did your celebrant maneuver through this moving back and forth between texts from the Missal and texts from the RCIA this past Easter?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our Lady of Guadalupe and Christmas in the City

Wednesday 12-12-12 greetings and a very blessed Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to all.

My apologies for not having posted the last few days; lots going on in this publishing house. I spent a good deal of time last night putting the finishing touches on the webinar I am presenting tomorrow for NPM (National Association of Pastoral Musicians). The subject: RCIA and the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night.

Wanted to share some photos of my own experience of "Christmas in the city of Chicago." I have lots of visitors over Christmas week and, with such a small space, decided against putting a Christmas tree in the house, so I compromised and placed the tree on the balcony outside:

Should be especially nice when (if) we get snow over the holidays.

I also spent time at Marshall Fields (oops, Macy's!) on State Street here in Chicago over the weekend. Here's a shot I took of the grand Tiffany ceiling.

They don't build them like that anymore!

Well, off to my workday.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Five Popes Have Arrived

Greetings on this Friday of the First Week of Advent.

Our "Five Popes" poster arrived in our warehouse today. You may remember me talking about it last week. I know I shared photos of the proof from the printer last week; just wanted to do the same today with the real deal.

Brother Mickey McGrath did a great job with this poster, which is featured on WLP's web site's home page.

I am home here in Chicago this weekend: I am greatly looking forward to spending time in one of the best cities in the world!

I hope that wherever you are you have a blessed Feast of the Immaculate Conception and Second Sunday of Advent.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Translation Thursday: Deeper Questions

"New Translation Thursday" greetings from Baltimore. I am here for a planning meeting for the Mid-Atlantic Congress for Pastoral Leadership 2014. It is a sunny and chilly morning here on the East Coast.

There have been studies released recently, some scientific, some not so scientific about the effectiveness of the new translation of The Roman Missal, Third Edition. These studies are important as we continue our way through the implementation.

Once the dust settles, especially in light of the movements of the "new evangelization," I am hoping that we begin to ask deeper questions of clergy and laity: "What difference does your celebration of Sunday Mass actually make in your day-to-day life?" "How does the celebration of the Mass as a married couple affect your relationship?" "When you consider that Mass draws us into a deeper relationship with the Lord, who died and rose to save us from sin and bring us salvation, how does this reality have an impact on the way you treat other people--at work, at home, at school?"

I guess I am wondering if, with the focus on the "new evangelization," we as Church leaders will help the folks in the pews articulate their lived experience of the paschal mystery.

Just some Thursday morning musings from Baltimore.

Gotta Sing. Gotta Pray.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Virtual Community of Care

Wednesday greetings from chilly Chicago.

Last night, while on Facebook, I noticed some posts from a cousin of mine in Massachusetts. She was asking for prayers for my uncle, without much more commentary. There were lots of people among our family and her friends who responded with words of concern, expressing their heartfelt thoughts and prayers. I began to pray for my uncle. The posts continued and eventually we found out that my uncle needed more care and was placed in a Catholic care facility. The photo my cousin posted was so heartwarming, my uncle sitting in his new place, shuffling a deck of cards, playing gin rummy with my her.

I have been thinking for quite some time about the whole Facebook phenomenon. I know that last year, when a niece of mine was quite ill, my brother and his ex-wife (my niece's parents) posted consistently on Facebook and the outpouring from family and friends, near and far, was overwhelming. While these parents are not people of faith, I couldn't help but think that these Facebook posts ("I'm praying for your daughter;" "I hope she is well soon;" "Thoughts and prayers;" "Will be praying for her;" etc.) were coming from people who were praying and hoping for my little niece's recovery. What I saw was what looked like a small faith community being formed around my niece and her parents. And all of this was done in the virtual world, a "virtual church" if you will.

I experienced that same thing last night with all the posts about my dear uncle. Sure, Facebook has its drawbacks, and I have certainly seen those first hand, but in cases like my niece's and uncle's, it becomes a virtual community of care. Last night I posted that I was very grateful for Facebook.

I am leaving in a few hours, headed for Baltimore, where I will be meeting with other Catholic publishers and the Baltimore Archdiocesan staff to make plans for the Mid-Atlantic Congress for Pastoral Leaders 2014 in Baltimore. Maybe a Maryland crabcake for dinner tonight?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: "The Second Time Around"

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings to all.

This past Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, was obviously the first anniversary of the implementation of the new translation of The Roman Missal.

When my pastor prayed the Collect, I was surprised at how I remembered that text from when it was proclaimed last year. Of course, my ears were so attuned to the new translation last year on that Sunday; I was looking for ways to comment on the text for my blog. Well, on Sunday, there was a familiarity with this text that just seemed kind of settled for me.

My pastor preached an inspiring homily during which he pointed us to the end times. He quoted the Collect:
" . . . the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming . . ." and it fit quite nicely into his overall homily.

This just all felt quite right to me, and it surprised me somewhat. As much as I stand before the new translation with both critical and appreciative eyes, it all comes down to the text's ability to be a vehicle for God's redemptive action in our own lives. On Sunday, I experienced that action through the text.

What was going on inside you when you heard those texts "the second time around"?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 3, 2012

More of Saint James

I wanted to post an additional video I took yesterday, showing the interior of Saint James Church on Chicago's near south side, my parish church. It will be razed within the next several months. Here you go.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ringing in the Advent Season

Happy Monday of the First Week of Advent.

Yesterday morning, for ten minutes before the Mass for the First Sunday of Advent, I played the bells in our shuttered church's bell tower.

The bells are played using a small console in the front of the church.

And here is yours truly playing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. There are a few notes that just would not ring. The video is obviously from inside the church; outside the bells are much louder and stronger.

Here are a few shots of the interior, which I snapped yesterday. Notice that the historic Roosevelt pipe organ is shrouded in plastic.

The architectural details are stunning.

It will be very sad to see this historic building demolished in the next few months. But the parish has proven itself to be much more than a building. Still, there is sadness here.

As the bells rang throughout the neighborhoods on Chicago's near South Side, I hope that people understood that they were being rung as a sign of hope for the future in this Advent Season filled with promise.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, November 30, 2012

That's a Wrap, a Big Wrap!

Friday greetings to one and all.

I received an interesting e-mail last night.

We all have experiences that are unique to our own family life. Growing up in a large family in Massachusetts, one of these oddities was something that sat on my family's kitchen counter for as long as I can remember. My parents somehow obtained a huge roll of plastic wrap (the kind used to wrap food and cover bowls filled with leftovers). The sturdy cardboard container seemed to have an eternal roll of plastic wrap inside. Probably about fifteen years ago, the wrap finally came to an end. Somehow, they found another roll somewhere, which took its place in the kitchen. When my parents downsized a few years ago, moving into an in-law apartment at my brother's home, that roll of plastic wrap went with them. No downsizing when it comes to plastic wrap for my Mom and Dad!

Well, I hope my mother doesn't mind me sharing this with you, but the e-mail arrived last night:

Just thought you would all like to know that the large box of Saran Wrap that we have been using for the last 10/12 or more?  years has finally wrapped its last piece of chicken, and covered its last bowl of leftovers.   We have bought a regular size box that fits in the drawer.  If we bought another big box, (and we did consider it)  we would have had to change the will to include the saran wrap in the estate.  And so, the Galipeau family bids adieu to the BIG BOX!  Let us all bow our heads and observe a second of silence for our Big box of Saran Wrap, and give thanks for the extra space its demise gives me in my pantry cabinet!

I am still smiling.

Isn't family life grand?

I hope your weekend is a good one and that the dawn of Advent brings you peace and hope as we once again prepare the way for the Lord.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gifts for the Music Director

WLP has recently published several small collections of instrumental music. I would like to highlight some of these collections today.

The first is a collection called Psalms Without Words, Volume Two, composed by WLP composer Ed Eicker. One of Ed's pieces with WLP is his arrangement of the popular Christmas piece, Still, Still, Still. Take a listen.

Psalms Without Words, Volume Two highlights Ed's brilliant improvisational skills. I sat down and played through them again this morning. This is a perfect collection for today's liturgical pianist. It's also wonderful for intermediate piano students. Occasionally, we hear from piano teachers who are looking for pieces that their students can play at a Catholic school Mass or at Sunday Mass in the parish. With some practice, these pieces will really shine.

This is the second volume in the Psalms Without Words series. The first in the series is a collection by WLP's own Alan Hommerding, written for piano and flute. WLP's web site describes this collection: "Volume 1 of a new series of instrumental pieces created by some of your favorite liturgical composers expressing their musical interpretations of the psalms. This first volume is a set of two brilliant offerings by Alan Hommerding inspired by Psalms 23:6 “…I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever…” and Psalm 122:1 “I rejoiced when I heard them say…” Psalm 23 is an uplifting reverie reminiscent of French Impressionism and Psalm 122 is a delightful rondo. These pieces are perfect for preludes, postludes, offertory, even performance events. Start your collection of this exciting new series with this charming piano and flute set."

I am often asked this question: "What is an appropriate appreciation gift at Christmas for my parish's music director?" These two volumes would be appreciated by any music director. Alan's would be perfect for a flutist as well.

Also worth considering is a new collection of pieces for C instrument and keyboard: Noel, by Cesar Franck and arranged by WLP composer William Tortolano.

On WLP's Facebook page (please click on our page and like us; help put us over the 2000 "likes" milestone!), the editor of this piece, Keith Kalemba, has this to say about Noel:

"These seven instrumental pieces, originally written by composer and organist C├ęsar Franck for the harmonium, have been newly arranged for C instrument and keyboard by William Tortolano. Dr. Tortolano has arranged these pieces with organ and violin in mind, however they are wonderful for piano and flute as well. Derived from Franck's L'Organiste, these inspirational pieces are perfect for the Christmas season, but can be used anytime for the Preparation of Gifts, preludes and postludes."

Well, folks, there's your commercial from your favorite music publisher today!

Thanks for considering our fine resources for musical liturgy.

Gotta Sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How Could I Have Missed It?

Hey, folks, how could I have missed such a significant milestone today???

Do you know what today is???

It's the first anniversary of the implementation of The Roman Missal, Third Edition.

That's right, last year, November 27 was the First Sunday of Advent.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

New Translation Tuesday: Words Falling from the Sky

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings from a very crisp and cold Midwest.

This past Sunday, my pastor did a wonderful job proclaiming the texts from The Roman Missal.

Last week, I went to the movies with some friends and saw the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. I really enjoyed the film and have been thinking about many of the scenes since.

When my pastor prayed the Collect on Sunday's Feast of Christ the King, a few words really stood out. Having just seen the super-spy in "Her Majesty's Secret Service," can you guess which words stood out? Here you go:

Almighty ever-living God,

whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of the universe,
grant, we pray,
that the whole creation, set free from slavery,
may render your majesty service
and ceaselessly proclaim your praise.
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.

Many had already commented on this translation when the new texts were first released, but I had forgotten about the discussions of the phrase "may render your majesty service." I have never thought about referring to God as "your majesty." It sounds so much like a phrase addressed to royalty of this world. I wonder how our friends in Great Britain heard this text when it was proclaimed on Sunday.

Our new transitional deacon, himself a refugee from Vietnam, preached a marvelous homily about the kingship of the Lord, telling us that his kingship will never pass away. I was moved by his story and his words, but couldn't help but think that the Collect somehow reminded me of earthly kingship.

Anyone else have a reaction to the words in the Collect on Sunday?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Five Popes in One Place!

Monday greetings to all duing this final week in Ordinary Time.

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend; enjoyed being here in Chicago.

When I arrived at work this morning, a proof of one of our newest posters had arrived from the printer. The Popes Since Vatican II is an idea that came from the artist, Brother Mickey McGrath, OSFS. It is a generous 20 inches by 16 inches. During this year of faith which marks the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, we thought it might be a nice idea to get the "popes since Vatican II" together. Here is the result:

Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI are pictured. The quote, chosen by Brother Mickey, is from the opening address of the Council:

Amen to that!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Am Grateful

My apologies for missing my "New Translation Tuesday" post yesterday. Shorter work weeks mean lots more work around these parts.

Today my heart is filled with gratitude for so many things.
I am grateful for my family here in Chicago and in Massachusetts, Florida, and Georgia.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work here at World Library Publications and the J.S. Paluch Company.
I am grateful to have visited 49 of the 50 United States, and all but one Canadian province.
I am grateful for good health and a warm home.
I am grateful for friends who show support and offer challenge.
I am grateful to be of French-Canadian descent.
I am grateful for the magic of arborio rice.
I am grateful for the Chicago lakefront.
I am grateful for my parish, Saint James.
I am grateful for you, the faithful and occasional followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray.
I am grateful for the gift of music.

Most of all, I am grateful that my parents loved me so much that they had me baptized.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wonderful Day at Saint Luke's in River Forest

Happy Monday of this Thanksgiving week to all.

On Saturday I was blessed to do a presentation to the liturgical ministers at Saint Luke Parish in River Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The beautiful church exterior is pictured here:

There were approximately seventy people present for the mini-retreat. I talked with them about the importance of cultivating an adult baptismal spirituality. Then we focused on the Eucharist as Table of Sacrifice and Table of Mission. The people seemed to have appreciated the time together. We concluded with a short re-commissioning service during which the ministers were invited to come forward and place their hands on the Lectionary for Mass and The Roman Missal, asking God for strength in their ministerial roles. As much as I love my work here at WLP, it is so energizing to be out there among God's people.

I hope that your week is a good one and that your Thanksgiving preparations are not too frantic!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Plenty of Organists

Just caught this on Catholic News Service:

Organists plentiful but not many parishes 'blessed' with budget for one
NEW YORK (CNS) -- If music conservatories are producing a bumper crop of organ performance graduates, why can't the parish down the street get a substitute organist for the 10 a.m. Mass? There's no single answer, but liturgical musicians who spoke with Catholic News Service attribute it to parish finances, cultural changes and the pastor's interest in music. "Not many parishes are blessed with a budget for both a music director and an organist," said Jennifer Pascual, music director at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. "Music directors are expected to be skilled musicians, conductors and administrators." Joseph Viserta, music director at the Church of the Resurrection in Rye, said: "A lot of parishes don't have the resources to pay a qualified organist to work full time, so these musicians have other jobs, sometimes as music teachers in public schools, and they show up on Sunday, play for two Masses, run a choir practice and get a stipend." If there is a music director, he or she is typically also an organist, Viserta said. The Second Vatican Council gave the role of music in worship a huge boost. In its 1963 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the council affirmed music is an integral part of the liturgy. It called for the congregation's active participation at Mass through musical elements including acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons and songs. As parishes heeded the call to incorporate more music, many moved away from traditional organ pieces to contemporary music played on a variety of instruments. The results varied in quality and mirrored cultural changes in society and the church, according to Paul J. Murray, music director, organist and liturgy coordinator at the Church of the Holy Family in Manhattan.

Have a blessed weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Translation Thursday: Two Recent Reports from the Vatican

"New Translation Thursday" greetings.

Two recent happenings at the Vatican bear notice.

The first is what Pope Benedict had to say recently about the function of music and art in the "new evangelization."

From Catholic News Service:
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sacred music can bolster people's faith and help lapsed Catholics rediscover the beauty of God, Pope Benedict XVI said. "Sacred music can, above all, promote the faith, and, what's more, cooperate in the new evangelization," he told participants attending a conference and pilgrimage sponsored by the Italian St. Cecilia Association. St. Cecilia, whose feast day is Nov. 22, is traditionally honored as the patron saint of musical performers. "Music and singing that are done well can help (people) receive the word of God and be moved in a positive way," the pope said in his address Nov. 10. Many people, including St. Augustine, have found themselves attracted to God because of some profound experience prompted by the beauty of liturgical music and sacred song, he said. In the church's missionary outreach, he said, it urges Catholics to recognize, respect and promote the musical traditions of the local people. Traditionally Christian countries, like Italy, have a rich heritage of sacred music which can help lapsed Catholics rediscover God and be drawn again to the Christian message and the mystery of faith, he said. Because of their important role in new evangelization, he urged church musicians to dedicate themselves "to improving the quality of liturgical song, without being afraid of reviving or emphasizing the great musical tradition of the church, which has two of its highest expressions in Gregorian and polyphony. Show how the church may be the place in which beauty feels at home," he said.

I sent this particular clipping to some of our artists and composers, noting particularly this line: "In the church's missionary outreach, he said, it urges Catholics to recognize, respect and promote the musical traditions of the local people."   I believe that composers who are creating music for the liturgy in many genres (chant, choral music, contemporary styles, for instance) are respecting and promoting these musical traditions of local people. The pope's final line in the report is quite inspiring: "Show how the church may be the place in which beauty feels at home."   The second bit of news is about the restructuring of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship. You can read the report here. Quoting from that report: "The main change is the establishment of an office, specifically dedicated to liturgical art and music, which will provide guidelines to ensure that hymns sung during mass and the structure of new churches are adequate and correspond to the mystery being celebrated."   Should be interesting to watch all of this continue to unfold.   Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Treasury of Choral Music: Mourns the Tree

Wednesday greetings to all.

It is such a privilege (in case I haven't mentioned it before!) to work in this great Catholic publishing house. One of the treasures about working here is the fact that we publish what I believe to be the best choral music for the Church today.

We recently published a piece by Lisa Stafford, Mourns the Tree. It's beauty has haunted me ever since I first heard it and sang it. The poetry touches me deeply and the choral arrangement is stunning. Lisa, thank you for this gift to the Church.

Here's the text:

Mourns the Tree and mourns the wood.

Mourns the forest where it stood.
Bole and branches, strong and wise:
Mourns the Tree of Sacrifice.

Gentle iron not for fear,
Not for wounding, not to tear.
Hands that bless and feet that lead:
Gentle iron, go tenderly.

Oh, sorrow, oh, sorrow, oh, sorrow, oh, sorrow.

Sorrow’s stone and sorrow’s tomb;
Sorrow’d chamber, noble room.
Ages old, in stillness stands:
Sorrow’s stone holds death’s dark bands.

Blessed Tree and blessed wood; Blessed boughs held Man and God.
Portal into Paradise:
Blessed, glorious Tree of Life!

(Text and music by Lisa Stafford. Copyright World Library Publications. All rights reserved.)

Here's a snippet of the recording. And you can see the sample pages here.

This is a piece that will draw people into the mystery of the cross during Lent, on Passion Sunday, and on Good Friday.

Here at WLP, we have a choral subscription service, over $100.00 worth of octavos mailed three times per year. We include our new pieces, as well as some time-honored pieces from our treasury. I know that many readers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray are subscribers to this service ($30.00 per year). For those of you who would like to order a subscription, it couldn't be easier. Just follow this link.

Thanks for considering Mourns the Tree and thanks for listening today.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: "Things"

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings to all.

No doubt you have read the study done by the good folks at U.S. Catholic. I was grateful that this study was undertaken. But there definitely needs to be something done in a much more scientific way; wondering if the U.S. Bishops have any plans to undertake such a study. You may remember in the late 1990's, the bishops commissioned a study on the effectiveness of the RCIA in the United States, which eventually was published in a document called Journey to the Fullness of Life.

It would seem that a study on the effectiveness of the new translation would be a good thing, but perhaps we need to wait a bit longer; give the new translation more time to take hold.

This past Sunday's Collect got me thinking and doing some research after having heard it.

Almighty and merciful God,

by whose gift your faithful offer you
right and praiseworthy service,
grant, we pray,
that we may hasten without stumbling
to receive the things you have promised.
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.

It was the term "things" that caught my attention. Now that we have been using these prayers and I am beginning to settle into them somewhat, I started to think that this word is used quite a bit throughout the Missal. After a cursory search through the prayers, my hunch was confirmed. I had a conversation with a friend after Mass on Sunday, explaining that the term just seems too vague for me. "Things" doesn't seem to be a strong enough term to describe what God has promised. When we hear the phrase "the things of heaven," I am left with the question: "What does that mean?"

So, believe it or not, I have been spending time looking at the various meanings of the word "things." Merriam-Webster lists ten possible definitions, including the following:

1a : a matter of concern : affair (many things to do) b plural : state of affairs in general or within a specified or implied sphere (things are improving) c : a particular state of affairs : situation (look at this thing another way) d : event, circumstance (that shooting was a terrible thing)

2a : deed, act, accomplishment (do great things) b : a product of work or activity (likes to build things) c : the aim of effort or activity (the thing is to get well)

3a : a separate and distinct individual quality, fact, idea, or usually entity b : the concrete entity as distinguished from its appearances c : a spatial entity d : an inanimate object distinguished from a living being

4a plural : possessions, effects (pack your things) b : whatever may be possessed or owned or be the object of a right c : an article of clothing (not a thing to wear) d plural : equipment or utensils especially for a particular purpose (bring the tea things)

5: an object or entity not precisely designated or capable of being designated (use this thing)

6a : detail, point (checks every little thing) b : a material or substance of a specified kind (avoid fatty things)

7a : a spoken or written observation or point b : idea, notion (says the first thing he thinks of) c : a piece of news or information (couldn't get a thing out of him)

8: individual (not a living thing in sight)

9: the proper or fashionable way of behaving, talking, or dressing —used with the

10a : a mild obsession or phobia (has a thing about driving); also : the object of such an obsession or phobia b : something (as an activity) that makes a strong appeal to the individual : forte, specialty (letting students do their own thing)

MERRIAM-WEBSTER ONLINE ( copyright © 2012 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

After doing this bit of research, my head was spinning. But it did help me to do this searching. When I think about "the things of heaven" or "the things you [God] have promised," my initial reaction was that the word "thing" is just too vague. I wondered if there was a word that would be more appropriate, something like "truths," or "realities," or "wonders," or "inestimable signs."

I guess my research taught me that "things" is a word that can encompass all the alternate solutions I came up with. It still strikes me, however, as a banal term because, in every-day usage, the word, at least to me, sounds like it is referring to "stuff," like the "stuff" on my desk, or the "stuff" in my house. Reminds me of the popular "Getting Things Done" movement.

Anyone else been struck by the word "things?" Help me (and others) out here, please.

Thanks for listening to my meandering thoughts today.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Translation Thursday Gratitude to My Friends North of the Border

"New Translation Thursday" greetings from Chicago. I arrived here, from Toronto, late last night.

I am so grateful for the time spent with the one bishop, many priests, deacons, consecrated religious, and the baptized lay faithful from all the dioceses of the Province of Ontario over the past few days. Some candid shots of those in attendance:

The meeting was held at Saint Francis Xavier parish in Missasauga. They have an interesting baptism font in the center aisle as you enter the church. There is a glass panel with an etched depiction of the baptism of the Lord.

More of the font, looking down into it., from the other side: 

There are steps leading into the pool from the side (why people throw coins into a font is a mystery to me!),

and when the newly baptized person emerges, the path toward the altar is made abundantly visible:

There was a great variety of ministries represented at the conference, with about 130 people present. We dug into some really tough issues and we discussed the kinds of shifts that need to occur if we are to move into the direction of seeing "sacramental preparation" align itself with an initiation model. Lots to ponder as we moved through the Church's generating vision for initiation from the Second Vatican Council and the related texts from the General Directory for Catechesis.

It's back to the busy world of publishing for me here in Chicago.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Translation Tuesday Greetings from North of the Border

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings from Toronto, Ontario.

I arrived at my polling place at 5:50 this morning and was about 80th in line. After voting, I made it to O'Hare and thanks to Air Canada, arrived here at about 11:30.

Our two-day event, "Go and Make Disciples of All Nations: A Provincial Conference on the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist" begins in a few hours at Saint Francis Xavier Parish in Missasauga, pictured here:

I am of French-Canadian ancestry and I always love visiting my extended Canadian "family" up here. I was greeted with a few snowflakes on the way to the hotel.

Not much more to report today; just been spending time getting ready for the conference.

More tomorrow.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ontario Bound

Monday evening greetings.

Well, this first full day of Central Standard Time saw the beginning of the painting of the exterior of WLP's and J.S. Paluch's office building in Franklin Park. So, to add to the absolute dreariness of the day (cold and cloudy) and the fact that it became dark much earlier than usual, our office windows were covered with plastic. Ever have one of those days when you just wanted to curl up under your desk and nap for hours?

Wow, that sounded pretty depressing!

I have a few trips left for 2012 and tomorrow is one of the most important. I am flying to Toronto to lead a day and a half focused on the sacraments of initiation. The aim is to get the folks to understand that preparation for these sacraments is, at the core, initiation ministry, not "sacramental prep." I have worked a lot on these presentations and I am hoping and praying that they are helpful for this provincial gathering in Ontario. My good friend, Father Larry Leger, wrote a bit about this gathering on his blog.

I will do my best to post from Ontario. I need to get to bed early tonight in order to be at the voting booth at 6:00 A.M., then in a cab to O'Hare for my 9:00 flight. Please pray for the safety of all travellers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Caring for All at Christmas and Easter: WLP Responds

Friday greetings to one and all.

Well, it's time for a little WLP commercial, which I hope at least some of you will find helpful.

A few years ago, we received a call from a pastor who asked us an interesting question. He pastors a large parish and said that at Christmas and Easter, his parish schedules "overflow" Masses to accommodate the many who come to his parish to celebrate these central feasts of our faith. He told us that each year the parish spends time, energy, and money creating worship aids for the people who attend these "overflow" Masses in his parish's gym and parish hall. He said that everyone on his staff is super busy at these times. He wondered if WLP published a resource just for these two feasts, resources that would include the readings and a variety of music usually sung at these Masses. We thought that this sounded like a good idea, so we began our work on two resources.

Christmas Mass Booklets, now available from WLP, contain the readings for all four Christmas Masses, as well as the Order of Mass and 17 well-known Christmas hymns from which to choose. Those Catholics who do not regularly celebrate Mass are still in need of the newly translated texts of the Mass (not to mention Catholics, like me, who still need the text for the proclamation of the Nicene Creed, for instance). These booklets are durable and beautiful, and are meant to last for several years, so a parish can collect them after Christmas and store them until the following year. This will save the parish time, energy, and money. I remember well those days of scrambling at the last minute to prepare the worship aids for the added Christmas and Easter Masses at the parishes in which I served as music and liturgy director. Our Easter Mass Booklets are also available.

As a publisher committed to serving the needs of the singing and praying Church, we believe that we have responded to that pastor's needs and are offering a resource that many parishes can use. I often tell parish ministers that instead of complaining about the "occasional" worshippers who come to us at Christmas and Easter, we need to ramp up our efforts at hospitality at these times, caring for these Catholics (and non-Catholics) in a way that shows that, like the landowner in the parable who pays the same salary to those who begin work at the beginning of the day as he does to those who begin just before closing time, we need to reach out with the same care to those we see only at Christmas and Easter.

Thanks for listening and checking out these resources. Remember, we are always willing to listen to the thoughts and ideas from those of you who are ministering in parishes.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

An Article About Saint James, My Parish

Here you go.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

500th Anniversary of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Happy Halloween to all the followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray.

Today marks the 500th anniversary of the celebration of the completion of the work of Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Pope Julius II, who commissioned Michelangelo's work, celebrated Vespers in the chapel 500 years ago today, on October 31, 1512. Pope Benedict XVI will mark the anniversary by celebrating Vespers this evening in the Sistine Chapel.

Please take some time to mark the anniversary yourself by spending some virtual time in this amazing space.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: The Beauty and Simplicity of the Chanted Texts

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings from a very windy "Windy City." My thoughts and prayers to all in the eastern third of our country who are experiencing the effects of Sandy.

Last weekend, I was privileged to be at three Masses at Saint John Nepomuk parish in Yukon, Oklahoma. Their music director, Robert Noble, is one of WLP's newest composers. Take a listen to one of his pieces. Robert has ministered in this parish for over a decade. The people sing with conviction and are capably led by the music ministers. Their pastor, who attended seminary at Saint Meinrad in Indiana, was well schooled there in chant. He chanted the Collect, Prayer over the Gifts, and Post-Communion Prayer, as well as the preface dialogue and preface at each of the three Masses. He is a gifted singer. I found myself drawn into the prayers. He sang with confidence and simplicity, really lending beauty to these prayers.

Made me think that perhaps dioceses need to do a bit more with their priests now that we have begun to settle into the new translation. I know that the chant sessions I led with clergy in the run-up to the new translation went well, but these guys were still trying to wrap their brains around the new texts themselves, and, for many, the chanting of them was not on their radar. Just wondering if any of you have heard of dioceses beginning these kinds of workshops for priests in this post-implementation moment.

I am presenting a webinar today sponsored by the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, focused on the apprenticeship model of formation; over a hundred are registered. Should be a great time!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Worried in Chicago

Monday greetings from Chicago.

I am sitting here at my desk, worrying about my family and friends on the East Coast who are in the path of Hurricane Sandy.

Let's pray for one another.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Grateful Heart to the People of Saint John Nepomuk

Friday greetings from a sunny and cool Midwest. As I watch the reports of Hurricane Sandy out in the Atlantic, I am growing worried for my family on the East Coast. For those of you in the path of this storm, please be safe and know of the prayers of your brothers and sisters.

Well, it is great to be home here in Chicago. But I did want to share some photos I took while at Saint John Nepomuk parish in Yukon, Oklahoma.

Here are a few  of the exterior:

This was originally a long, narrow church. That original structure was converted to a gathering space and day chapel, and the new, much larger church was built right next to it. Here is the interior:

The font, which you can see on the right hand side, was actually added to the marble steps and is pretty ingenious:

That's a statue of the parish's patron behind the font. Below the statue, inset into the marble, is a lighted golden casket, containing a relic of the saint. In this photo, you get a better sense of how the font works:

I had a wonderful experience of very good liturgy at Saint John's. The pastor chants pretty much as beautifully as any priest I have ever heard. He went to the seminary at Saint Meinrad in Indiana, where he was obviously influenced by the Benedictine monks there.

I will have more to say about chant and the new translation when New Translation Tuesday rolls around.

I hope that, wherever you are, you have a safe and blessed weekend. It will be good to be back at Saint James on Sunday. While in Oklahoma, a very kind woman gave me a check written out to Saint James; perhaps this is the first donation to our new building fund!

Thank you, people of Saint John Nepomuk in Yukon, Oklahoma!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday Greetings from Yukon

Wednesday greetings to all.

My sincere apologies for not having posted this week. I have been presenting a parish mission here at Saint John Nepomuk Parish in Yukon, Oklahoma.

It has been a wonderful five days, focused on "Reclaiming the Power and Potential of the Sacramental Life." I must say that it has been a long time since I have experienced such a sense of reverence at the liturgy as I have here at Saint John's. The pastor chants the prayers of the Mass more beautifully than any priest I have heard. The engagement of the people at Mass, in the prayer, song, and ritual, is exemplary. This has been more of a retreat for me than a mission and I have felt re-charged by the Lord as he has used me as an instrument of evangelization.

I have been having some technical difficulties with my computer while here, hence I have not been able to share photos, but will do when I return to Chicago tomorrow.

I hope you have had a great week thus far.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.
Saint Marianne Cope, pray for us.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Translation Thursday: "What Conscience Dreads"

"New Translation Thursday" greetings.

Last evening I attended a social event and was talking with some priests; most had been ordained 25 plus years. When the subject of the new translation came up, some expressed frustration with the new texts. One of the priests remarked about how difficult it was to prepare and pray the Collect from a few weeks ago:

Almighty ever-living God,

who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
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.

This particular priest told me he finds little to recommend the new translation. While he did say that there is some beauty in some of the newly translated prayers, particularly the eucharistic prayers, he finds himself struggling with most of the texts.

One priest's opinion.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WIth Gratitude to the Musicians of Rockville Centre

Home at last. Greetings on this beautiful Wednesday here in the Midwest.

Yesterday's WLP choral reading session was held at Christ the King Parish in Commack, NY. We were a small group of about fifteen music directors, but the SATB blend was remarkable as we sang through 25 pieces of WLP choral titles.

Christ the King is a beautiful church, with marvelous accoustics, a great piano, and a wonderful organ. Here is a shot of the church's gathering area:

And the interior:

I took this candid shot of the musicians gathered there, with the capable leader of the NPM chapter for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Christopher Ferraro, speaking with them about upcoming events:

I can't tell you what a thrill it was to share our music with these fine musicians, both at Monday night's session, and at yesterday's. I will not soon forget my trip to Long Island, where musical liturgy is very much alive and well. Kudos to people like Chris Ferraro and Deanna Mauro (our accompanist for the two events) and the pastoral musicians of the Diocese of Rockville Centre for your dedication to feeding the musicians of your diocese with musical, spiritual, and liturgical formation events.

When I returned home after the flight from LaGuardia and a too-long cab ride home, this is what greeted me in the courtyard of the complex in which I live. This time of year, these trees are spectacular, especially at night when the lights in the courtyard illuminate them:

So glad to be back home in Chicago, at least for a few days. I head back out on the road to Oklahoma on Saturday to present a parish mission. More on that in the next few days.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.