Monday, April 30, 2012

Good Shepherd Jazz

Monday has dawned cool and gray here in Chicago.

When I was working full-time as a director of music and liturgy, I always loved "Good Shepherd Sunday" because of the wonderful array of "shepherd music" available for use. I remember conducting John Rutter's The Lord Is My Shepherd in my parish in Florida. It didn't hurt that the principal oboist for the Orlando Symphony Orchestra was a parishioner!

Yesterday at my parish we celebrated our annual "Jazz Mass." This Mass occurs on the weekend when we have our annual fundraiser for the Saint James food pantry, called "Jazzin' to Feed." Our parish is in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, where much jazz, blues, gospel, and soul music originated. So our "Jazz Mass" reaches deeply into the roots of this community.

Our music director holds an advanced degree in jazz piano performance and was joined yesterday by two jazz musicians, one on drums, the other on string bass. Basically, at the Jazz Mass we sing much of our usual repertoire; it is just given a certain jazz style. Our opening hymn was Alan Hommerding's fine text Baptized in Living Waters, set to the tune AURELIA (for those not into hymn tunes, think of the melody of The Church's One Foundation). It was amazing to sing such a traditional tune in a jazz style. Ed Bolduc's Mass of Saint Ann sounded wonderful as well. A real high point for me came when these musicians played an arrangement of Marty Haugen's Shepherd Me, O God, arranged by our music director. Folks, it was absolutely heavenly. Sure, it takes a minute or two to get used to hearing jazz chords and harmonic structures at Mass, but this was real prayer. And, especially given the fact that it was being played in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago where much jazz got its start, it was all the more special.

When I got to the office this morning, I had the strains of The King of Love My Shepherd Is noodling around in my head. We sang it yesterday as well. And I couldn't help but think of James Scavone's fine (and non-jazzy!) arrangement of this hymn. So here is a snippet for your listening pleasure for this "Good Shepherd Week."

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Translation Thursday: Some Incongruity

Side-stepping a bit on the usual topic that is "New Translation Thursday," although nothing is unrelated in this giant tent we call the Roman Catholic Church.

Two interesting news bits came into view this morning. The first was a news brief reported on Catholic News Service's web site:

Pope wants US Catholics to lead worldwide church revival, nuncio says
COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI wants the Catholic Church in America to be in the forefront of reviving Catholicism worldwide, the apostolic nuncio to the United States said in Columbus. "The church in the United States should lead the entire church in the world" in a revitalization effort, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano said. "This is a great task, but you have the determination and the grace to do it. This I know is the vision of the Holy Father regarding the church in the United States." The archbishop was speaking to an audience of seminarians and benefactors of the Pontifical College Josephinum at its annual rector's dinner April 23. He called on the American church to go beyond its mission of evangelizing the United States and "to be missionaries not only to the Third World, but especially to the countries of Europe. Christianity (in Europe) in some way has lost its strength and needs an example," he said, noting "very positive signs of growth" in vocations to the priesthood and the religious life in the United States. Archbishop Vigano said he especially wanted to direct his message to young people, particularly those studying for the priesthood at the Josephinum. The institution has experienced substantial growth in recent years and currently has an enrollment of more than 180 men, its highest in 25 years. They represent 29 dioceses from all over the United States, including six that sent seminarians to the institution for the first time this year, and their ethnic and cultural backgrounds echo the diversity of the American church as a whole.

I felt proud and inspired when I read the title of the news bit, which gave way to disappointment when I read the actual text. Believe it or not, I do wake up most mornings recalling what Pope Paul VI said about the Church in Evangelii Nuntiandi, namely that the Church "exists to evangelize." And I realize that the nuncio was speaking at a seminary dinner, but to narrow the field of evangelizers to those preparing for priesthood and religious life was to miss so many whose Catholic life mission is to evangelize; frankly, this kind of thinking missed me.

The next piece of news is from the April 30 issue of America magazine, an article entitled "Why They Left." Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., the bishop of the diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, commissioned a survey/study which sought out people who have left the Catholic Church in an effort to unearth the reasons why they left. The interviews also were aimed at asking these people what they would say to the bishop if given a chance. I was familiar with the fact that this survey had been done; America has done a good job reporting the results. Bishop O'Connell is to be applauded for his leadership.

So here's my conundrum today. On the one hand, we have Pope Benedict looking to the Church in the United States to be a worldwide leader to revive the Church. This is all well and good, but it is a fact that, as the article in America begins, "it is no secret that increasing numbers of baptized Catholics in the United States never or rarely attend Sunday Mass." It seems to me that we can have all the "positive signs of growth" we want in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, but somehow we need to be asking the questions, as did Bishop O'Connell, about why people are leaving. But we cannot leave it there. Unless we have some way of addressing the issues raised by these kinds of surveys, there will be fewer and fewer Catholics in the pews to whom this new flock of growing numbers of priests and religious will minister in the future.

These have been disappointing days for me personally. I was on my bicycle this morning at the gym and began to pray the rosary, as is my custom. As I began, I thought about the tears in the eyes of the nearly 80 year-old religious sister in my parish who was so deflated this past Sunday as she reflected on the Vatican's recent statements about religious sisters. And I thought of a retired priest that I know who, reflecting on the same issue, said to me, "Are they trying to find ways to divide us?"

These are legitimate questions, questions that affect me deeply. I was unable to contine with my rosary this morning. I did speak with the Lord, but it was more of an honest and frank and sometimes angry conversation; certainly all part of the prayer life.

And even on days like this . . .

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Meetings, Meetings, and Preparing for Travel

Happy Wednesday to all. Today is "one of those days" here at the home office. I am involved in a week-long series of meetings that I am finding very energizing and exhausting all at the same time. But it is indeed very good to be here in Chicago for such a long stretch.

A week from this coming Friday, I will be leaving for a few weeks of partial vacation/partial ministry. I will be spending a week in Croatia for vacation and my plan is to blog while there. One of my chief aims is to visit some ancient and not-so-ancient Christian sites (and baptism fonts) while traveling to places with names like Split, Porec, and Rab. I am really looking forward to this little pilgrimage to what many tell me is one of the most beautiful places on our planet. Looking forward to sharing photos of the journey as it unfolds.

From Croatia, I will travel via a few days on Lake Konstanz in central Europe to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps in Germany,

where I will be leading the music for a five-day retreat for Roman Catholic Army Chaplains. Again, my aim is to continue the blog from there. So I hope that my musings while away will help open the Catholic world to you as well.

Well, time to get back to the meeting!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: "Just Right"

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings from Chicago. Many of you who follow the blog know that I am a dedicated fan of the Chicago Blackhawks, who were eliminated from the run to the Stanley Cup last night. So a little sad this morning, but too much to do to spend any more time sulking.

This past Sunday at my parish, Saint James, we were privileged to have the former Archabbot of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Southern Indiana (picture here)

as the celebrant at the 11:30 Mass, at which two young adults were confirmed. Archabbot Lambert Reilly preached beautifully, helping us all understand the Holy Spirit's role in the unfolding of salvation history.

Here's a photo of the Archabbot:

I was trynig to think of a word that would describe him and what comes to mind is "distinguished." He chooses his words carefully and has an old-world style to his preaching and presiding.

The words of the newly translated Missal sounded quite natural as they fell from his lips. The rhythm of the cadences of the presidential prayers (Collect, Gifts, Communion) just sounded "right" coming from his mouth and I had no problem grasping the meaning. This is probably a combination of his style and the fact that I am getting used to these prayers as well.

It continues to be impressed on me how much the success or failure of this translation in practice has to do with the celebrant.

Have you had similar experiences?

Feel free to comment and, if you haven't had the chance to read the comments from Friday's post about religious sisters, please do so and don't be afraid to add your own. You can always do so anonymously.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, April 23, 2012

First Communions

Monday greetings from cool but very sunny Chicago.

If you haven't had the chance to read Friday's post, please do so and add your comments. Yesterday, I shared the blog with the religious sister who ministers in my parish. She was just feeling so disappointed with the week's news, and seemed so close to despair. Tears welled up in her eyes when she read the post and some of your comments as well. Please take the time.

I know that many of us are in high gear for parish First Communions right now. I wanted to share a great collection of ostinatos by WLP's very own Alan Hommerding. Behold the Lamb of God: Seven Eucharistic Ostinatos will provide your choir with some "instant" music for First Communion or really for any Mass. Alan has done a fine job with this very helpful resource. Take a listen.

I searched the web for a First Communion photo and came across this one. Please don't be offended. I chuckled and thought about the day of my own First Communion, February 5, 1965; and I remember pushing my sister into a snow pile that day!

I hope that the coming week is a good one for you. Smile!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Friday greetings.

Today I am thinking about how grateful I am for:

Sister James Cecilia, SND, my first grade teacher, who somehow cradled and taught and admonished and loved 53 of us scared little Catholic kids in 1964.

Sister Della William, SND, my second and third grade teacher, who encouraged me to take my first piano lessons. She also taught me that visiting the elderly in nursing homes was the right thing to to: "Boys and girls, what we did today at the Francis Street Nursing Home is what Catholics do."

Sister Julie Maria, SND, my very first piano teacher (75 cents per one-hour lesson), who helped me fall in love with music and showed faith in a growing piano student.

Sister Leo Marie, SND (now Sister Rita Raboin, SND, working for decades now helping the poor in Brazil), my fifth grade teacher, who taught me a prayer that I still pray every day: "Be pleased, O God, to deliver them; look down, O God, to help them. Turn back the evil men and make them ashamed for hurting your people. Your people are poor and cry to you. O God, protect them. Amen."

Sister Helen Donald, SND, who, in sixth grade, chided the rest of the class for bullying a certain boy in her class.

Sister Mary Rose of the Sacred Heart, SND, who, as my seventh grade teacher, let us take breaks from our studies as she took the time to read contemporary novels to us.

Sister Ellen Julie Flanagan, SND, who tried her best to show us how drugs could ruin our young lives by starting the "Smart Teen" program in our school.

Sister Marie Behan, with whom I traveled the challenging journey of CPE at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts; she taught me that I could believe in myself even in the darkest days; Marie died a few years ago and I wept and wept at the loss.

Sister Mary Ellen Plummer, OP, who walked into the first immersion pool built in a Catholic Church in the Diocese of Orlando as the two of us showed people what baptism could really look like.

Sister Alice Michael of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, for an unparalled dedication to teaching young and old alike the potential and beauty of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

Sister Donna Steffen, who taught me so much about what spiritual discernment is.

Sister George Francis Riseling, SNJM, who simply loved her students at so many schools where she was principal.

Sister Elaine Kecer, OP, who, when asked why she had joined the parish liturgy committee, always said "The liturgy is my life."

Sister Mary Fran Fleischacker, OP, who walked with me through my doctoral program and continues to inspire so many through her love of music and liturgy.

Sister Rosa Monique Pena, OP, whose Cuban smile can light up a room and whose expertise in catechesis has formed thousands upon thousand of catechists who teach with vigor and conviction the truths of the Catholic faith.

Sister Ann, my colleague at Saint Mary Magdalen in Altamonte Springs, Florida, who lived with cancer and showed us what courage meant in her last days.

Sister Carleen Maly, OP, who taught me how important clear communication and the setting of achievable goals and objectives can help a parish (and a publishing company!) grow.

Sister Joyce Rohlik, who loved the elderly more than anyone else I have known.

Sister Nancy Swift, my liturgy professor at the seminary, who taught me to love what is at the heart of my Catholic faith.

Sister Joan Thomas, OP, whose friendship has meant so much to me and to so many and whose smile and gentle manner can transform even the hardest of hearts or the toughest of days.

Sister Mary Jean Ryan, former CEO of SSM Healthcare in Saint Louis, whose leadership has inspired me beyond measure; she taught me more about servant leadership than anyone or any book ever could; she embodies it.

Sister Barb Rastatter, PBVM, the pastoral associate at my parish of Saint James, who lights up my life every single time I see her; she not only ministers to the forgotten and cast away; she becomes their friends. And then has to mourn their loss and does it so deeply and so genuinely.

Some living, some gone beyond the grave. Some are still religious sisters, some are not.

Just so grateful to them.

Please take the time to comment yourself;  to enter the names of those women religious who come to your mind immediately and name a way that they influenced your life.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Translation Thursday: Loving WLP!

"New Translation Thursday" greetings from Franklin Park, Illinois.

I am actually at home for three straight weeks and it feels WONDERFUL!

Once per month, usually on the third Thursday, we have a WLP monthly meeting preceded by breakfast. For several years, I would stop at the grocery store and grab some bagels and make coffee here in our library. Sometimes I would bring hard-boiled eggs and some pastries. Well, this year I asked if each of our departments wouldn't mind preparing one of these breakfasts a year. Today is the final department-sponsored breakfast of the year. One of the reasons I love working here at WLP is that the group that I am privileged to lead is such a talented and fun group of people. And their creativity around these breakfasts has been amazing. I took a few photos a few minutes ago. Here is what our Customer Care Department and Rights and Permissions Department (with a little help from a member of our Marketing Department) has in store for our employees when they arrive today:

Should be a fun morning.

Regarding the new translation, just wondering where you music directors are with your Mass settings these days. Once the Easter Season is concluded, will you be switching to a different setting? Please comment and let us know your plans.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Some Wonderful Choral Music for Your Wednesday

Wednesday greetings during this glorious Easter Season.

Wanted to share a festive little choral piece for Easter with you. Christ Is Risen! Alleluia!, a snippet of which you can listen to here, is a wonderful anthem for Easter, composed by Dale Grotenhuis. I've decided to share more of WLP's choral music with you as the next few months unfold. For those of you who are music directors, I hope that you find these pieces to be helpful for you in your choral planning. For the non-musical types who visit Gotta Sing Gotta Pray, I hope you enjoy the listening experience. One of the things of which I am most proud about WLP is the fact that we publish the finest choral music for the Church. Our composers work so hard to bring the Church the kind of music that touches hearts and brings people closer to the Lord.

On Good Friday in my parish, our parish's music director chose several WLP pieces, one of which was Patrick Bradley's stirring piece, Only Love. Listen here.

Only love held him there on the cross.
He could have called ten thousand angels to come to his rescue;
Only love held him there on the cross.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: When the First Language Is Not English

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings from the home office here in Franklin Park, Illinois on a cool and crisp Spring morning.

This past weekend I attended Mass with my parents at their parish in the suburbs of Boston. The celebrant was of Hispanic descent and he did speak with an accent. He was extremely deliberate with the prayers from the Missal. Because of his deliberate approach, I found myself even more attentive to the newly translated words than I usually am. There were some phrases that I simply lost, due partly to his accent and partly to the awkward construction of the prayers.

My parents, who are well into their seventies, told me that they usually try to sit in a different location in their church to better hear this particular celebrant.

Since the advent of the new translation, this was my first experience of attending Mass with a celebrant whose first language is not English.

I was wondering what your own experience of this kind of situation has been. Feel free to share your comments by clicking the comments area below.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Content of the Faith

Monday greetings to all.

Arrived back from Boston last night. Here is a photo I snapped outside of one of my sibling's homes in the Boston area over the weekend:

Each year Spring is such a miracle to me, especially in places like the Northeast and Midwest sections of the United States. What appears absolutely dead gradually comes back to life; and what vibrant life it is.

I found a really cool web site that allows this kind of cool stuff:

Pretty cool, huh?

Anyway, on a more serious note. As I renewed my baptismal promises at Easter, the event I consider to be the most important annual event for Catholics, I thought about whether or not I had grown in that baptismal faith over the past year. I looked back and realized that so much of my engagement in things Catholic had to do with preparing people for the new translation of The Roman Missal. So much was about helping others to find new ways to appreciate the liturgy and to engage in the celebration of the Mass, especially given the challenges and opportunities the new translation was to afford. When I entered the Triduum a few weeks ago, I realized that I hadn't spent much time in the past year focusing on strengthening my own faith. True, I have continued praying the rosary frequently and I focus so much of my prayer on those on my prayer list. But I guess in all the busy-ness of this past year, I really haven't taken the time that I need to to focus on my relationship with Jesus Christ. I do all kinds of workshops and lectures in which I quote the various catechetical documents of the Church, documents that say things like these two short statements from the General Directory for Catechesis (GDC):

GDC 80

“The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch, but also in communion and intimacy, with Jesus Christ.”

GDC 98
“At the heart of catechesis we find, in essence, a person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

I urge catechists, particularly those involved with Christian initiation, to really ponder these statements which, in essence, say that the "content" of catechesis is a person, the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Too often catechists get so bogged down in teaching the "content" of the faith (doctrines and dogmas and moral tenets), that they forget to introduce those entrusted to their care to the person who is the content of it all: Jesus himself. I guess I find myself in this same bucket very often. I need to stop and think about what these documents are saying about my own life. While I can speak pretty forcefully and (they tell me) eloquently about the content of Church teaching, I can't speak so forcefully or eloquently about my own personal relationship with Jesus of Nazareth.

So, the Triduum this year became a "starting over" point for me. I listened in ways that I had hoped would lead me to know the Lord Jesus in a more familiar way. Walking with him through his last days helped me as the liturgies unfolded. I have a long way to go, certainly. But I am hoping that this fifty-day celebration of Easter, as well as the years ahead, will see a renewed relatinship with the one who is the content of my faith.

Thanks for listening to my post-Easter soul-baring!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gotta Sing Gotta Pray Celebrates Its Third Birthday with Great Moments in Boston

Friday greetings from the final day here at the National Catholic Education Association's annual convention here in Boston.

Today is Gotta Sing Gotta Pray's third birthday. Hard to believe that I have been blogging for three years! Thanks to all of you for faithfully following this blog.

Yesterday, the J.S. Paluch Company was priviliged to sponsor Fr. Ron Rolheiser as the main speaker at "Priest Day" here at the convention. Approximately sixty priests were in attendance, many from the Archdiocese of Boston; many men who influenced my own life as I grew up here. I moved away from Boston in 1984, nearly thirty years ago, so it was a kind of "fast-forward" moment yesterday. Seated next to me was my Old Testamanent professor from my first year in the seminary. It was sheer delight to catch up with him and some of the other priests in the room. And one of the first things that this Old Testament professor, now pastor here in the Archdicoese, said was "Gotta Sing Gotta Pray!" And everyone he introduced me to included the tag line, "Author of the blog Gotta Sing Gotta Pray." So my hat is off to you, Fr. Jack, for your kindness yesterday and your abundant kindness during those years back in the early 1980's. This is a good priest.

Last night, WLP also sponsored John Angotti and his band for a concert here at the Sheraton Boston. I am one of John's biggest fans. Every time I hear him speak and sing, I am moved. Last night was no different. John sang several pieces from his newest album, I Believe.

If you have never experienced John or have any of his recordings, I would suggest this one. It highlights his compositional style and his great vocal qualities. I have a few favorites already from this album, especially "There's a Presence."
Well, I need to get over to the convention center. Tonight, I will be connecting with my parents here in Boston, then spending the weekend with them, my sibs, and my nieces and nephews over the weekend. Boston is CRAZY this weekend: Boston Bruins won their first play-off game last night here; today is Opening Day at the 100 year-old Fenway Park (two blocks from my hotel); and Monday is the running of the Boston Marathon!

I hope that your weekend is a good one.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NCEA, NPCD in the "Hub of the Universe"

Wednesday greetings from Boston.

The annual convention of the National Catholic Education Association kicks off today here in the "hub of the universe."

I am giving a presentation tomorrow focused on weaving music into the parish catechetical and Catholic School religious education programs.

WLP is sponsoring John Angotti and his band tomorrow evening at a banquet of another group gathered here in Boston in connection with NCEA. The NPCD is the National Association of Parish Catechetical Directors; that group is meeting here as well.

There are just under 9,000 gathered here for this combined convention. It is an unusual exhibit area; you have companies exhibiting everything from school gym flooring to chocolates to be sold for school fundraisers; there are catechetical publishers as well as publishers of math and science books. It should be an exciting balance of the week. The extra bonus for me is that I get to see my family while here in Massachusetts.

I hope that your Easter Octave continues to be a time of joy.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: Boston Fare and Ups and Downs of the Triduum

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings from my "hometown," Boston, Massachusetts. Arrived this morning. Here's the view from my hotel window, overlooking the "mother church" of Christian Science.

Before setting up the WLP booth at the Hynes Convention Center for the National Catholic Education Association Convention, had some time for some Boston fare. Here's the restaurant:

And here's the "fare:"

This is a genuine New England Lobster Roll, or as some say in these parts, "Lobstah Roll." Delicious.

It's great to be here in this beauitful city.

Well, the Triduum had its ups and downs for me, with respect to the new translation. I found the newly translated intercessions on Good Friday to be quite good. Our deacon proclaimed the intention and then our pastor chanted the concluding prayer for each one. I thought the language was direct and beautiful, quite easy to grasp and pray.

My pastor did a valiant job with the various prayers prayed after the readings at the Easter Vigil. He was slow and well-paced. Unfortunately, some of these prayers are just constructed so poorly. Even though I had studied them, I struggled with them. I think they are some of the poorest translations in the new Missal, which saddened me.

My question to you: What was your experience, particularly of the Good Friday intercessions and the prayers after the readings at the Easter Vigil?

Well, things shifts into high gear here tomorrow. It's off to Boston's North End for some Italian food tonight.

Happy Easter Octave!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Monday and Off to Boston

Easter Monday greetings to all.

Tomorrow I leave for Boston, Massachusetts (my home town!) to speak at the National Catholic Education Association's annual convention.

I will do my best to post tomorrow, especially my thoughts about the prayers prayed during the Triduum.

Please pray for the safety of all travelers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday Greetings

Easter Sunday afternoon here in Chicago. The day could not be more beautiful. A Pork Crown Roast is in the oven, to be shared later today with friends for an Easter celebration.

I have to say that these past few days have been personally very moving for me. This was one celebration of the Triduum that I really needed. Spent most of yesterday at the parish hall, doing all the little things to prepare for the Easter Vigil. Decided that a crisply ironed cloth on the credence table might speak more of our respect for the liturgy than that one Easter Lily that seemed missing!

I was greatly disappointed in the new translation of the prayers following the readings at the Vigil; more on that on Tuesday. But I really loved the Intercessions on Good Friday. I thought the style of English was simple and straightforward; really helped me pray.

Just wanted to share a few photos from last night. We had no baptisms, so I felt a certain deprivation at the Vigil. But it was certainly a powerful celebration. I was privileged to sing Tony Alonso's new setting of the Exsultet. It was great to sing about the bees and I felt his setting proclaimed this text in a way that really kept the assembly attuned to the text and absorbed.

Here's our fire. Did you know that the new translation says that the Easter fire should be "blazing"?

I was the "coordinator" for the Vigil and helped prepare our environment. Because we are in an old Catholic school auditorium (our church building was closed three years ago because of structural questions; twelve million dollars is the cost to return to our beloved church!), we do our best to make it a holy place. Here are some photos of the "stage."

I hope that your Triduum helped you grow closer to the risen Lord.


Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday in Prayer

Good Friday greetings.

Prayed with nine other parishioners (5% of the parish) this morning at 9:00 A.M. Simple and beautiful.

Just wanted to share a few photos of what we manage to do in our "auditorium" worship space for Holy Thursday. The liturgy was simple and magnificent all at the same time. So many college students in attendance who "owned" the footwashing and enabled so many to have their feet washed. I really felt that we had responded to Christ's mandatum.

And here is a closer look at our altar of repose.

Let's keep one another in prayer.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wonder and Awe

As the Lenten hours begin to wind down here in the Midwestern part of the United States, my wish for all of you is a Paschal Triduum filled with wonder and awe at all that God has done in Jesus Christ, the Risen One.

May the light of Christ dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.

Happy Easter.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Hope

"Spy" Wednesday greetings from Chicago, where it is beautifully sunny, but a bit on the cool side.

After a Lenten Season marked by much travel and less-than-usual engagement in the liturgies of Lent on my part, I am looking forward greatly to the next four days.

I remember having this same sense of anticipation when I was a young kid of nine or ten. The liturgies of the Triduum fascinated me. I just couldn't believe my eyes, for instance, when Monsignor O'Neill actually lit a fire made of newspaper and a few popsicle sticks in the back of our church on Holy Saturday; this was inside the church. From there the Easter candle was lighted and processed. I can still hear the strains of the chanted Exsultet, sung by an enormously talented cantor.

As these days unfold, I hope that new texts will not be a hindrance to the simple beauty of the Paschal Mystery we proclaim in song, word, and gesture. My hope is that this celebration of the Triduum will connect me with my past, with those who have sung and prayed the Song before me. My hope is the same for you.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: Challenging Vigil Prayer and Confused Infrequents

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings.

I spent last night pondering the texts from the upcoming Easter Vigil, snice I am the "coordinator" for the Vigil in my parish this year.

Have you taken a good long look at the first option for the collect prayer after the Exodus text?

Here it is:

Let us pray.
O God, whose ancient wonders
remain undimmed in splendor even in our day,
for what you once bestowed on a single people,
freeing them from Pharaoh’s persecution
by the power of your right hand
now you bring about as the salvation of the nations
through the waters of rebirth,
grant, we pray, that the whole world
may become children of Abraham
and inherit the dignity of Israel’s birthright.
Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

I have tried and tried to pray this prayer aloud, but I just can't make it work. The ideas are all there; unfortunately, the construction blocks the communication of those ideas, leaving me saddened.

Any help you could give me with this prayer would be most appreciated.

On another note, on Sunday at the parish in Detroit, I was surrounded by people who obviously had not yet attended Mass using the new translation of the Missal. There were many "And also with you's" emanating from these folks. One woman, seated directly behind me, following the "O Lord, I am not worthy . . ." leaned over to her husband and simply said, "Oh my!"

I think we all need to remember that the throngs who come to our parishes on this coming Sunday will be in need of gentle reminders about worship resources and the fact that there have been many changes in the texts we pray.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Reflection on Palm Sunday Celebration

Monday greetings, and a blessed Holy Week to all.

Yesterday's experience of Palm Sunday Mass at Sweetest Heart of Mary parish in Detroit was very impressive. One of Detroit's auxiliary bishops, Bishop Francis Reiss, was the celebrant. His homily was brilliant. You have to remember that for the past three years, my chief experience at Sunday liturgy has been in an old Catholic school auditorium (our parish church was shuttered three years ago because of questions about its structural integrity).

So, here is a photo of the men lining up, carrying the "Polish Palms," as these tall poles (pardon the pun) were held aloft:

And here is the procession as it begins, following the blessing of palms. We walked all the way around the church, singing To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King.

And then we entered the church:

And here is a close-up of the sanctuary, with all statuary covered in purple draping:

This parish attracts people (mostly of Polish descent) chiefly from the suburbs of Detroit, since there is very little housing that remains in the area. The church is spotless and meticulously maintained. The retreat went well and my hope is that those who attended will have an enriched experience of the Triduum.

I will have much more to say tomorrow regarding the new translation and the words that were being said from those seated around me at Mass yesterday!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday Greetings from Detroit

Palm Sunday greetings from Sweetest Heart of Mary Church here in Detroit where I will be leading an afternoon of reflection today. Awaiting the start of the procession and Mass. This is a beautifully ornate traditional Polish church. I will post photos tomorrow.
A blessed Palm Sunday to all.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.