Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: Changing Acclamations?

"New Translation Tuesday" has rolled around again.

Sorry for not posting the last few days. I was supposed to be headed to Boston on Saturday night for a family reunion of sorts and in my haste through O'Hare, ended up catching my "boot," which is still protecting my broken foot, on something and down I went again. Feeling like the Lord on the way; "Jerry falls the second time." Hoping there will not be a third! At any rate, got pretty banged up, and I never made it to Boston, and I am back in the office this morning.

I wasn't able to get to Mass on Sunday; the pain medication was very strong, so I missed the celebration of the First Sunday of Lent.

However, I was able to get a look at Sunday's music program, and noticed that our music director is staying with the same set of acclamations (Holy, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen) that we have been singing since September. I think this is a good idea as we continue to get used to the new translation. What is happening with the Eucharistic acclamations in your parish during Lent?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Translation Thursday: A Sense of Frustration

Welcome to this edition of "New Translation Thursday."

I was looking at some photos I took during a vacation in Sicily a few years back and came across this one, taken at the ancient Greek ruins at Agrigento. Thought I would post it, since we here in Chicago are expecting four to nine inches of snow tonight . . .

So, what did you think of the prayers at yesterday's Ash Wednesday celebration?

I certainly understand that we need to do everything we can as Christians to resist temptations, but the military-style language of the Collect ("campaign," "take up battle," and "armed with weapons") distracted me beyond measure.

Last week, a priest asked me what he was supposed to do at the end of the Ash Wednesday Mass. Under the heading "Prayer over the People," the rubric reads "For the dismissal, the Priest stands facing the people and, extending his hands over them, says this prayer:"

He wondered if there was to be no dismissal formula after that prayer, since the rubric reads "for the dismissal." I didn't know what to tell him. He then told me that he was very hesitant to use the word "compunction" in the prayer and that he was thinking of changing the prayer completely or just skipping it altogether. This kind of confusion and dissatisfaction with the prayer is certainly not what the Church intended with this translation. I could sense a real frustration within this very pastoral priest.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday and Baptismal Character

Ash Wednesday greetings to one and all.

Woke up this morning in beautiful and warm Central Florida and now here I sit at my desk in Franklin Park, Illinois. Even with all the travel that I do, air travel still amazes me.

Lent has really come around fast this year, hasn't it? It will be a strange Lent for me at my parish, Saint James, again this year because we have no one preparing for Baptism. But I will still use this time to prepare myself for the biggest and most important ritual event of the year for me and all Catholics, I believe. And that's our annual renewal of baptism promises at Easter.

From the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy:
109. The season of Lent has a twofold character: primarily by recalling or preparing for baptism and by penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the word of God and devote themselves to prayer, to celebrate the paschal mystery. This twofold character is to be brought into greater prominence both in the liturgy and by liturgical catechesis.
I spent lots of time talking about this at the pre-Lenten mission in Florida the past few days. If you have never tried really focusing your attention on the baptismal character of the season, why not do so this year? It will undoubtedbly make your renewal at Easter all the more meaningful.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: Singing and Praying in Central Florida

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings from Central Florida. Happy Mardi Gras!

At last night's parish mission session here at Nativity Parish in Longwood, the confirmation candidates and their parents were present. We spent about a half hour talking about the sacrament of confirmation. My contention is this:
Confirmation has become, for most Catholics, a compartmentalized moment; little development and deepening occurs after the sacramental moment.
I find that most adult Catholics agree with this statement. When I talk about the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, there is some sense of recognition, but it is usually a recognition of what they were taught about confirmation, rather than the fact that these gifts are ready to be cultivated and utilized throughout life. I just believe that we Catholics tend to forget so much of the potential of the sacraments. It has been a real privilege and honor to be with these fine people at Nativity Parish.

I wanted to comment on my experience of the Masses this past weekend at Nativity. I attended four, offering a reflection about and invitation to the mission at each of the Masses. The liturgy and music program here is quite fine. The music director takes moments like introductions to hymns and acclamations and the conclusions of these to connect the congregation with the treasury of the Church's musical heritage. For instance, before the communion processional hymn begins, as you sit there, you will here strains of an ancient chant that eventually turns into the introduction to the communion processional song. This occurred several times during each of the Masses, much to my own delight. Lots of musical talent here and the parish is being well-served. If you ever find yourself on vacation here in Central Florida, you should take the time to visit Nativity Parish and attend a weekend Mass, especially musicians out there!

The new translation has its ups and downs in this parish. The pastor has an engaging and energetic presiding style and the people respond to him quite well. Yet still, there are those moments when, drawn into the dialogues at Mass, done with such vigor by the celebrant, some of those around me quite naturally slipped into the old translation. Same thing happens at my own parish. I guess it will just take time.

The musical setting of the Mass sung here at Nativity is Steven Janco's Mass of Redemption, published by WLP, one of our most popular Mass settings.. I so enjoyed singing the through-composed Gloria from this Mass setting. It just sings so well, a fitting hymn setting for this text. The people are well on their way to making this setting part of their permanent repertoire. The various choirs sang the setting in unison, another smart move by the music director. This, at least for the time being, really helps the assembly sing the setting, as the melody is supported all the way through.

I am presenting a morning of reflection for the parish staff in a few hours. Then, tonight, is the last session of the mission. Because of my schedule, I can only do one mission per year, and I am so glad I said "yes" to my friend Pat, the pastoral associate here at Nativity. It has been a good few days for me.

Happy Fat Tuesday to all!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nativity Parish: The Mission Begins

Monday greetings to all, and happy Presidents' Day.

The parish mission began last night here at Nativity Parish in Longwood, Florida. Nice crowd and they were quite engaged in our conversations about "reclaiming the power of baptism." We ended the evening with a ritual at the baptism font, which can be quite moving for people.

Tonight, because the parish confirmation candidates (teens) will be present, I decided to re-tool the mission and focus on this sacrament tonight (which I usually do the final night). Should be fine and I am hoping that my words will help these teenagers.

The weather here is absolutely beautiful. Sat out on the patio this morning to read the paper and do the crossword. My eight years spent living here in central Florida were some of the best of my life. And being here in February makes me remember how much I loved the weather.

Please pray for the good people of Nativity Parish.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Off to Central Florida

Friday greetings.

I am gearing up to be on the road again. I leave tomorrow morning for Central Florida, where I will be leading a parish mission at Nativity Catholic Church in Longwood, Florida. I used to live and minister in the Orlando Diocese, not too far from where Nativity is located.

Please say a prayer for the people of the parish and for me.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Translation Thursday: My Heart Is Sinking

"New Translation Thursday" greetings to you all.

Tuesday's post generated several comments, two of which I wanted to paste here. My friend in a neighboring diocese, a diocesan leader who has a masters degree in English, had this to say:

I find the disjointed ablative absolute structure, like that in the first part of the Prayer after Communion last week, very distracting, because the prayer does not begin with an address to God, but does that a couple lines in. It does not feel like a prayer.

Sadly, I really think the whole thing is too formal and forced... and that it has sapped the energy out of the Mass and is so difficult to comprehend that it merits being tuned out - and I have a masters degree in English. Can't imagine what the less-educated folks are thinking.

And my friend in a diocese to the south had this to say:

Just about every single Preface I've heard, regardless of who's speaking/chanting it, I've gotten lost. My sense is that most people tune it out, which is sad.

The last couple weekends, I've made a point of just stepping back and listening to the people's responses, sung or spoken. Their responses seem to have gotten more tepid with time. My heart sinks when I scan the congregation and see several long-time parishioners just stand silently during the Creed. The novelty has worn off now, and it seems like some older people (40+) have just given up.

On the upside, our schoolchildren seem to have learned the changes very well, and those few parishioners who attend daily mass have it down pat.

Yes, I know there are those for whom the new translation is a breath of fresh, wonderful air. But these two particular comments really made my heart sink. When I hear words used to describe the Mass, words like "tepid," "it does not feel like a prayer," "I've gotten lost," "long-time parishioners just stand silently," my heart sinks as well. If the situations described above become more widespread or become the norm, we are in deep trouble.

Where is the inspiration and energizing that we need from our leaders, the bishops? Seems to me like this new translation, along with the promise for liturgical catchesis, has been plopped in our laps, and now the bishops are on to their next big thing. Does something seem askew here?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Striking Our Breasts

Wednesday greetings.

I found many of yesterday's comments pretty discouraging. Please read the post and offer your own comments.

Here is the response to the question about striking our breasts, taken from the BCDW Newsletter:

1. How many times do we strike the breast in the Confiteor?

The Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship addressed this question in a 1978 dubium (found in NotitiƦ 14 [1978], 534-535):

While in the Roman Missal promulgated by the authority of the Council of Trent the words were very frequently also accompanied by minute gestures, the rubrics of the Roman Missal restored by the authority of the Second Vatican Council are noteworthy for their discretion with regard to gestures. Having said this: The words mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa which are found in the Confiteor are introduced in the restored Roman Missal by a rubric of this sort: “All likewise… striking their breast, say…” (Order of Mass, no. 3). In the former Missal, in the same place, the rubric read like this: “He strikes his breast three times.” It does not seem, therefore, that anyone has to strike his breast three times in pronouncing those words in Latin or in another language, even if mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa is said. It suffices that there be a striking of the breast.

So, there you have it.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: Is Anyone Listening?

Could it be "New Translation Tuesday" already?

Happy Saint Valentine's Day to you all; or as we used to say as kids, "Valentimes Day."

At Mass on Sunday, I noticed that our congregation is still having problems with "And with your spirit," especially after the priest extends the sign of peace to us. "And also...with your spirit" seems to be what is coming out. How is this particular moment going where you are?

Also, I am still struggling with the preface for Ordinary Time I. I am riveted to the pastor's chanting of this and now know the text pretty well, but it still is making little sense to me. Maybe I should ask him to swtich things around a little. As he chanted, I wondered how many people were actually paying attention closely anyway. I am beginning to wonder if people just tune out when they can't understand what is being said or sung, or perhaps they were never really listening before the advent of the new translation. Lots of work to do, I guess, in the area of liturgical catechesis.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Once or Thrice?

Friday greetings to you all.

It's snowing here in Chicago. And the winds are now picking up.

We just received our copies of the latest Newsletter from the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship, which answers the question regarding how many times a Catholic should strike his or her breast during the confiteor.

How many times have you been striking your breast?

Hope you have a weekend during which you do something important for the ones you love.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

New Translation Thursday: One Year Later

Hello and welcome to this installment of "New Tranlsation Thursday."

One year ago yesterday, my blog entry was entitled "New Translation Tuesday: What Will It Be Like One Year from Today?" Here is a portion of that entry:

Last week at the Southwest Liturgical Conference in Salt Lake City, while giving a presentation on Mystagogical Catechesis and the Roman Missal implementation, I asked those in attendance to think about what we might be experiencing one year from now. I offered a few hyopthetical scenarios and I have expanded those here.

So, a year from now, we will be about nine weeks into the implementation of the new translation. Might we be saying things such as:

1. Things have gone so smoothly in my parish; I can't believe that we spent so much time and energy worrying about this; the people seem just fine. Sure, there are still those times when people catch themselves saying "And also with you," and they stumble here and there, especially when reciting the creed, but, all in all, this has been a piece of cake.
2. There are several people in our parish who are very upset by the changes. There are at least three people who have decided to leave the parish.
3. Despite all our efforts at catechesis over the past several months, there are a few angry parishioners who are refusing to say the new texts. When everyone else says "And with your spirit," they are very loudly saying "And also with you." The pastor and the parish staff are at their wit's end. We have tried to talk with these people, but they are quite obstinate. Not sure what to do next.
4. The musical settings we have chosen for the peoples' parts of the Mass have been received with much enthusiasm. On day one, we began to chant all of the dialogues at Mass; the liturgy just seems so much more prayerful; there is a new sense of simplicity and holiness.
5. While the transition has been fairly smooth for those in the pews, our pastor is really struggling with the new texts. I know that he has spent a lot of time preparing the orations and the eucharistic prayer, but it just seems that he is very frustrated as he tries to convey these texts in a meaningful way. My heart is breaking for him, especially considering the fact that he is pastoring three pastoral sites.
6. The new translation has really shaken people up. And this has ended up being a good thing for our parish. We have begun an adult education course on the liturgy and have more people attending than anything else we have ever offered in our parish. People are beginning to get an appreciation for what it is that we do at Sunday Mass; and an appreciation for what God is doing!
7. In hindsight, it has become apparent to us that this transition needed much more of our attention as a pastoral staff. We did little to prepare ourselves and our folks. Because of this, our people are confused and angry. If we had to do it all over again, we know now that we should have spent much more time preparing the parish for these changes.

Folks, I am not a seer in any sense of the term. No one can predict the future. I am sure that these few hypothetical comments must have you thinking. Why not add your own hypothetical scenario and share it with the other followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray? I am setting a calendar reminder for one year from today. At that time, let's revisit our hyopthetical scenarios and see if any of us were on target.

So, folks here we are a year and a day later. As I look at these scenarios, three resound the most: numbers 1, 4, and a little bit of 5.

Why not share which ones reflect your experience and why.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Music for the Paschal Triduum: Welcome Tony Alonso

Happy Wednesday, folks.

I wanted to take some time today to share a new WLP resource with you. We at WLP are so excited to welcome Tony Alonso to our family of composers and performers. His collection, I Shall Live - Music for the Paschal Triduum, is, in a word, wonderful.

We worked with Tony as he shaped ritual music for many of the moments of the Triduum, using the texts of the new translation of The Roman Missal where applicable. I just wanted to share one piece with you today, to give you a taste of this entire collection. This Is the Night: Procession of the Paschal Candle and Exsultet begins with the celebrant chanting the conclusion of the preparation of the Paschal Candle. The piece provides music for the revised acclamation "The Light of Christ. Thanks be to God," then sets the new translation of the Exsultet. Actually, I would use the phrase "paints the new translation of the Exsultet." This is an accessible and beautiful piece of art that Tony has created. I cannot stop listening to the recording. Here's a snippet.

The recording will be available for purchase in early March. Our editors are working hard to make the octavos from the collection available as soon as possible. We Should Glory in the Cross, a processional piece for Holy Thursday, is available now. We sang it as part of the NPM musicians retreat on Long Island a few weeks ago and it worked beautifully. It just "sings" so well.

I don't say this very often (and perhaps I should!), but this collection is a "must have" for every parish. I told Tony earlier this week that for a company committed to serving the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church, this is a proud moment for WLP to be able to fulfill that commitment by publishing this collection.

Thanks for listening (and order your CD now!)

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: Accessibility

Welcome to this edition of "New Translation Tuesday." These past six weeks have had their minor challenges for me. After having fractured my left foot on New Years Day, I have been wearing one of these "boots" to help the healing process, which has been admittedly slow. (Traveling as much as I had to in January apparently didn't help much at all; all I received were raised eyebrows from my doctor after the foot was re-x-rayed last week.)

At any rate, some of my usual getting around has not been without some challenges. Airport security has been interesting, to say the least. I have also noticed that there are many places here in Chicago that are not easily accessible for someone like me right now. Some of our train stations have platform access either by a set of stairs or, in some cases, a very, very long ramp. I realize that my broken foot is really more of a nuisance than anything else; I see this when I encounter people living with severe disabilities who manage the public transportation here every day. The one thing I have noticed, however, is the kindness of strangers. When exercising my New England Chivalry (by insisting that women board the buses and trains before me), on more than one occasion, these women have insisted that I board before them; some have even helped me maneuver the first long step onto the bus. This has all been quite a learning experience for me.

So, you ask, what does this have to do with the new translation of The Roman Missal? I think everything. I have been struggling with physical accessibilty these past several weeks. I also find myself struggling with liturgical accessibility as well. As I rivet my attention on these newly translated prayers, some of them seem like a staircase or a very, very long ramp trying to be negotiated by a person with a broken foot. I am honestly asking myself if these prayers are accessible to the Catholics sitting with me every week at Saint James. I know we have a long way to go in developing a mystagogical mindset for Catholics; a way of "doing" the liturgy that is characterized by close attention to the words, gestures, music, and preaching that expects meaning to really burst forth. But we have to be paying attention first and that to which we are paying attention needs to be accessible. Otherwise we don't have much hope.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Preface: "More Is Less"

A short post on this "Mystagogy Monday."

I tried paying real close attention to yesterday's preface (Ordinary Time I), which my pastor chanted. But that middle section was so long, I just couldn't grasp it:

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

For through his Paschal Mystery,
he accomplished the marvelous deed,
by which he has freed us from the yoke of sin and death,
summoning us to the glory of being now called
a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for your own possession,
to proclaim everywhere your mighty works,
for you have called us out of darkness
into your own wonderful light.

And so, with Angels and Archangels,
with Thrones and Dominions,
and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven,
we sing the hymn of your glory,
as without end we acclaim:

There is just simply too much going on in that middle section; wonderful imagery but this is a case where "more is less."
What has been your experience of the prefaces in the new translation?
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Saint Blaise and the Young Catholic Imagination

Friday greetings to all. And happy Saint Blaise day.

I will never forget the day I learned about this feast. I was in first grade at Saint Charles Borromeo Grammar School in Woburn, Massachusetts. First grade classrooms were located on the first floor of the school, pictured here:

Sister James Cecilia, SND, my first grade teacher, taught us about Saint Blaise. My memory tells me that she told us about a boy who had a fish bone caught in his throat and it was killing him. But the boy's mother brought him to Blaise, who miraculously cured the boy.

This was one of the scariest stories for me. You have to remember that in 1964, we Catholics were all eating fish on Fridays. On many Fridays, one of the "Galipeau kids" would walk up to "Hatfield's Fish Market" on Main Street in Woburn to buy a pound or two of haddock, which my mother would then prepare for the evening dinner. Once I heard about the Saint Blaise story, I remember "fishing" through every piece of haddock for the rest of my childhood, looking for that elusive bone that, of course, would lodge in my throat, killing me. Oh, the Catholic imagination!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Translation Thursday: "Don't Give Up on That"

"New Translation Thursday" greetings to all.

Here's a follow-up to my encounter with the woman I described in Tuesday's post.

This is what she said to me concerning the new translation:
She looked me squarely in the eyes and said, "Jerry, what am I supposed to do? I just don't feel inspired at Mass any more and I am afraid that I might drift away."

Well, I looked her squarely in the eyes and asked her if she felt that she still needed God to work transformation in her own life. Of course, she nodded, and then I said, "I know that God continues to work redemption in my own life and I find the Mass the primary source where I discover that redemption time and time again. Does God still want to work on you? If you believe this, and I know you do, you cannot drift away. God waits for you at Mass, even in a translation with which you struggle. Don't give up on that. I need to know that you are not drifting away, because my own life as a Catholic who shares many of your same struggles will be diminished if you drift away. I know in my heart that God wants to work a miracle of transformation in your life. Let's not give up."

Sounds kind of pious as I re-iterate what I said, but I believe this with all my heart.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Gift of the Parish Liturgy Committee

Wednesday greetings to you all, and Happy February!

I volunteer on my parish's liturgy committee and we met last night to discuss Lent, as well as the liturgy we celebrate to honor African-American Heritage Month.

Our reflections and deliberations were centered on the gospels of the Lenten Season. Then we all looked through and reflected on the collects. It never ceases to amaze me that a very diverse group of people can get together and read scripture passages that we have heard for years and find things that never really struck us before. The cycle of scripture readings offers us such a great richness in our Catholic experience. I often tell friends who say, "How can you even stand going to Catholic Mass; it's just the same thing over and over again," that the prayers, readings and ritual patterns may repeat over and over again, but it is me who is different each and every time I hear them or celebrate them. I guess this is what life-long ongoing conversion is all about. That came home to me very poignantly last night. The Gospel of the Transfiguration for the Second Sunday of Lent ends with this line: "So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant." For me, that has been a question at the center of my faith life. I know and believe that Christ rose from the dead and as a baptized person who has "put on Christ," I often wonder what rising from the dead means for me. Rising from the dead, not just in the sense of the end times, but in my every day life.

I love this volunteer work at my parish. It puts me at a table with Catholics who are living the challenges of family life and married life. It helps this theologian to be more rooted in the day-to-day lives of the Catholics with whom I worship. I am so grateful for this gift.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.