Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tyler Follow-up: A New Bishop!

A rare Saturday "good news" post.

Msgr. Joe Strickland was named by Pope Benedict as the next bishop of Tyler, Texas, where I was last weekend. This is a pastoral and very, very good appointment.

Congratulations, "Fr. Joe" and the Diocese of Tyler!

Read more here:

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Friday greetings to one and all.

As most of you are aware, Pope Benedict XVI will canonize Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha on October 21.

Brother Mickey McGrath, OSFS, has painted a beautiful image of the soon to be Saint Kateri. We at World Library Publications are making this image available in three formats: a holy card, a note card, and a poster. You can find more information here.

Here is the image:

I think the prayer card would make a wonderful remembrance of the canonization of the "Lily of the Mohawks," this new American saint. And the poster is perfect for Catholic classrooms, religious education centers, rectories, and parish offices.

Thanks for listening to this "brief word from the sponsor!" Have a wonderful weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Translation Thursday: Golf and a Succint Definition

Can it already be Thursday? This has certainly been a busy week for me. My brother and sister-in-law are visiting from Massachusetts. They are avid golf fans and they had tickets to yesterday's practice rounds of the Ryder Cup in nearby Medinah, Illinois, which is really like the Superbowl of Golf, with the United States pitted against Europe. Well, I tagged along. I have never had much interest in golf. As a matter of fact, yesterday marked the first time I had ever stepped foot on a golf course. Well, folks, it was pretty exciting. Seeing Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, and the other players from the United States, as well as Sergio Garcia from the European team (whom my brother tells me is the number one player in the world right now) was really cool. I found the whole experience kind of peaceful. The course was beautiful; lots of woods, and the day was clear and comfortable. Here are a few shots I took:

Recognize anyone in this photo?

At any rate, it was an enjoyable day.

I just read that the pope's Wednesday audience yesterday was focused on the liturgy. He said, “the word ‘liturgy’ means the participation of the People of God in the work of God.” For years, I have been struggling with how best to define the term "liturgy." We have thrown around terms like "Liturgy is the work of the people." Or, "Liturgy is not the work of the people; it is primarily the work of God." I think the pope's phrasing yesterday was quite succint and helpful. Think about it a bit more deeply: "the word 'liturgy' means the participation of the People of God in the work of God." It does raise the bar, doesn't it? At the liturgy, we participate in the work of God; no small matter, for sure. What does that mean to you?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Restored Order of the Initiation Sacraments

Happy Monday to one and all.

There is a chill in the air here in Chicago this morning. Got up early and went to my 6:00 A.M. spin class at the gym. I could tell that Autumn had arrived here in the Midwest.

I have great memories of my time in Tyler, Texas. I have been traveling to and speaking in the diocese for many years. At first, I was doing presentations on the RCIA. The bishop had a real passion for intitiation and what the catechumenate could mean for formational ministries in general. A few years ago, the bishop decided that having two sequences for the sacraments of initiation operative in the diocese made little sense. So he restored the order of the sacraments in the diocese. Now, when parents feel their child is ready for formation for confirmation and Eucharist, the parents present their child for formation, as long as the child has reached catechetical age, which is around seven years of age.

This family-centered approach has been working quite well in the diocese. Once the child has moved through the formation process, confirmation is celebrated with the child's family at Sunday Mass. The newly confirmed child then receives First Communion at that same Mass. The bishop of the diocese has confirmed and given First Communion to thousands of children over the past several years. He was quoted as saying something like, "Even if you have only one child for confirmation and Eucharist in your parish, I will come; after all, that's my job." I think this bishop showed lots of courage in restoring the order; it has taken lots of work and the diocese is still moving through the attending issues that result from such a move. But I have to hand it to this small diocese; they are definitely on the right track in my book.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Greetings from the Great Diocese of Tyler

Saturday morning greetings from the Diocese of Tyler, here in East Texas.

I thoroughly enjoyed the formation day for clergy here yesterday; the focus was on mystagogical/liturgical catechesis. I reviewed mystagogy from two angles: its historical development and its meaning in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The clergy here have a great morale and they seemed to engage wholeheartedly in the presentations. Currently, the Diocese of Tyler is waiting for the appointment of a new bishop. Please pray for the clergy and the great people of this diocese (which is 40% Hispanic); pray that their new shepherd will lead them and guide them to a closer relationship with the Lord.

In a little while, I will be heading to the diocesan chancery office, where I will do the second part of this two-day workshop; this time for the lay ecclesial ministers of the diocese. The focus is the same as it was yesterday. We are beginning a bit differently today. This morning we will begin with the celebration of the Eucharist. After a short break, I will lead the group in a mystgogical reflection on the Eucharist just celebrated. My aim here is to show those in attendance a method of mystagogy by actually doing it. Then, after lunch, we will examine the method used and then I will give them some historical background on mystagogy, much as I did yesterday. I try to do my best to weave in stories and practical examples so that people can see that mystagogical catechesis is very do-able.

Usually on these kinds of trips, I don't really get the opportunity to see the local area too much. Last night, I was treated to dinner at a little restaurant, "Currents." A small place, not really easy to see from the main road, it specialized in French and American cuisine. Here's a shot of the interior:

As I said, a small place, but let me tell you, this "city boy" had one of the best meals he has had in a very long time at this little gem in East Texas. If you are ever in this area, Currents is a must!

It's been an exciting few days here in one of my favorite dioceses in the country.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Translation Thursday Greetings from the Rose City

"New Translation Thursday" greetings from the "Rose City," Tyler, Texas.

Just arrived and am looking forward to a great day with the clergy tomorrow at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

I have been here several times over the years. My focus for the next few days is on mystagogical catechesis.

I will keep you updated.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: Tyler and a Tough Prayer

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings.

I will be giving two major presentations for the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, later this week. Friday is a day for the clergy and Saturday for lay ecclesial ministers. The focus is on mystagogical catechesis on the Mass and the days are entitled "Believe, Celebrate, Live the Eucharist." This title reflects the diocesan leaders' hope that I will be able to introduce WLP's resource of the same name as part of our time together in Tyler.

What was your experience of the collect this past weekend? I have to admit that I was paying very close attention but lost the movement in the prayer:

Look upon us, O God,
Creator and ruler of all things,
and, that we may feel the working of your mercy,
grant that we may serve you with all our heart.
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 that middle line, "and, that we may feel the working of your mercy," I guess, that threw me. Perhaps there needed to be a longer pause after "and" with a different inflection for the rest of the line. I just had trouble grasping it. Maybe I need to do more preparation before Mass and read this prayers myself.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Consubstantial and No Room for a Coffin

Monday greetings from the sunny Midwest.

Yesterday at Mass, I moved my location to sit with some of the older African-American women in my parish. I love these ladies!

Well, the woman next to me asked me a question right away: "Jerry, in one simple sentence, can you tell me what the word 'consubstantial' means in the Creed?" Yikes! My response was to say that a simple definition is that the Father and Son, two of the three persons of the Blessed Trinity share the same substance, the Son is "one in being with" the Father. She said, "Oh, I know that, then why did they have to change the words if the meaning was the same? I read and write poetry and I just feel that these texts should flow; even after all this time, when I get to the word 'consubstantial' in the Creed, it makes me stumble. It just doesn't flow."

That was the first part of the conversation. The second part was quite different. She told me something that I have heard at least four of our elderly African-American women say since it was announced that Saint James Parish will have a new church building built. She said, "I am hoping that they get this building thing going; I want to be buried in a church building; I don't want them bringing my body into this hall." (We are currently worshiping in a Catholic school auditorium.) Funerals cannot even be held in the auditorium because we simply cannot get a coffin into the building!

So there is an understandable level of anxiety for some of our older parishioners. It has been a sad thing that during this, our time of "exile," we have not been able to provide basic Catholic services for our parishioners. Cardinal George and the archdiocesan officials named that as a central problem in our current situation. I hadn't given it much thought, mostly because I have been focused on Sunday liturgy at our parish. Providing a place to celebrate a funeral Mass is a basic thing that most Catholics don't even think could ever be an impossibility in their parishes. For us, it has been different. And it makes me think of a wonderful future for our parish and for our parishioners.

Please keep Saint James in your prayers as we move forward.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, September 14, 2012

J.S. Paluch: Preparing for the 100th Anniversary

Friday has dawned; sunny and beautiful here in the Midwest.

The J.S. Paluch company, of which World Library Publications is its music and liturgy division, will be celebrating 100 years in service to the Church in 2013. We have been collecting all kinds of stories, fun facts, and photos as we prepare for this milestone. I wanted to share a photo of one of the original printing presses used to print materials for parishes. This press is displayed in our lobby here in Franklin Park, Illinois.

On the wall above the press are some of the actual plates used for printing on this press. I snapped a photo of one of the plates:

It says "Prayer Booklets Made Especially for Congregational Praying and Singing." I think this is so cool. I feel privileged to be a part of a company that has been helping the praying and singing Church for so long. And it's great that the title of this blog kind of reaches back into those earlier generations.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Translation Thursday: Longing for Consistency

"New Translation Thursday" felicitations to all.

I am noticing one practice that has developed in me when I go to Mass on Sundays. Perhaps this has developed because of the fact that during the ensuing week I will be offering some comments about the prayers prayed at Mass. I am most definitely paying much closer attention to the prayers prayed by the celebrant. The fact that my pastor takes good care in his slow and deliberate delivery also contributes.

For instance, after Communion on Sunday, when he began the prayer, I really listened closely:

Grant that your faithful, O Lord,
whom you nourish and endow with life
through the food of your Word and heavenly Sacrament,
may so benefit from your beloved Son's great gifts
that we may merit an eternal share in his life.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

It could be argued that this prayer is simply too long. But this past Sunday, my pastor prayed it in a way that made it make sense to me. I came away with an increased understanding that the Word and the Sacrament are both food that endow me with life and that these two gifts nourish me on my way to heaven (hopefully!).

Strange how sometimes these prayers are immediately grasped and at other times I am left scratching my head, wondering what the prayer meant. I guess I am in a state of longing for consistency. How about you?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Daily Mass Intercessions 2013 Has Arrived

Wednesday greetings from Chicago, where the weather is sunny and warm.

A little WLP "commercial" for today.

I just received my copy of Daily Mass Intercessions 2013, a helpful resource we publish here at WLP. This year's cover design is just beautiful. Bryan Cones' prayers have won numerous awards over the years. As I say quite often, "No parish should be without this resource!" Have you ordered yours for 2013 yet?

Thanks for listening.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Give Your Burden to the Lord"

Eleven years ago today, on September 11, 2011, following the frightening events of the day, I was asked to put together a short prayer service for our employees here at the J.S. Paluch Company and World Library Publications. I turned to Psalm 55, then wrote a short prayer. That prayer was sent, through a chain of e-mails, to a number of people, one of them being an Episcopal priest in New York City, who made hundreds of copies of the prayer. He brought them immediately to Saint Francis Hospital in Manhattan. He had hoped to share the prayer with the throusands of injured people that everyone thought would be brought to the hospital. We all know that those numbers of injured never materialized, since most who were in the towers were killed instantly. He did pass the prayer out to the hundreds of medical personnel who waited at Saint Francis Hospital that day for those who could never come. Let us remember those who died that day. And let us pledge a renewed commitment to peace.

Psalm 55

Listen, God, to my plea, do not ignore my cry.

Listen and answer, I shake with grief
at the furor of my enemies.
They threaten and attack me; they shout out curses,
venting their anger against me.

My heart is pounding, I can feel the touch of death.
Terror holds me in its grip, trembling seizes me.
"If I had wings like a dove, I would fly far and rest,
fly far away to the wilds to escape the raging storm."

Confuse their speech, Lord! I see violence and strife
stalk their city walls both day and night.

Evil and destruction live in their midst;
oppression and deceit never leave the public square.

If my enemy insults me, I can bear it;
if a foe rises against me, I can hide myself.

But it was you, my own friend, the one I knew so well.
With you I could always talk, even as we walked to the temple,
my companion amid the crowd.

God hears my cry, brings me to safety
when the battle is raging and my foes are many.

Give your burden to the Lord, who will be your support.
If you are faithful, God will not let you fall.

Let us pray.

O God of mercy and forgiveness,
We stand before you in pain, in fear, and in grief.
We know you desire good for your people,
which is why we are stunned when we face terror of today's magnitude.
We cry out to you with the word that we share with one another:

In our fear and doubt, we still turn to you,
O God, and ask your presence.

Welcome those who were killed today
into your loving embrace.
Give them eternal peace.

Comfort the families of those who lost loved ones.
Give them strength.

Be with those who have suffered pain.
Heal them.

Guide those who care for the injured.
Be their strength.

Lead our country through this grief.
Comfort us.

Bring justice to those responsible for this terror.

And Almighty God,
we pray that you do not abandon your people
in their time of need.


Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Busy Catholic Weekend

Happy Monday.

Busy weekend for this Roman Catholic. Saturday was spent in a six-hour meeting with other parishioners and our parish staff at Saint James. I am part of a group trying to fashion a new mission statement for our parish. It was a well-facilitated day and we were able to carve out our first draft.

Yesterday, following the 9:30 Mass, the parish staff conducted a second "town hall meeting." It was an opportunity for parishioners to share their concerns and questions about our future and the new church that is to be built for Saint James Parish. Emotions were certainly running high. Change is not easy. I think that some parishioners were thinking that the process had moved much further than it has to this point. It was a little frustrating for our pastor, but the meeting ended on a note of hope and optimism.

By the way, here is the "concept plan" that the Archdiocese of Chicago presented to us a few weeks ago:

In the foreground you can see the "Catholic monument" that will face Michigan Avenue here in Chicago. The new church is set back on the property. Lake Michigan can be seen on the horizon. This is a very densely populated area; 45,000 people live in the zip code of the parish, which is about 4 square miles. We have lots of evangelizing to do!

I am quite excited about moving through the process over the next several years. And you, the faithful followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray, will certainly be along for the ride!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Translation Thursday: Prayers from the Missal or a Binder?

"New Translation Thursday" greetings from a very busy publishing house. The "Heads of Households" of the publishing houses of the Association of Catholic Publishers, as well as representatives from the publishing houses' editorial departments will be meeting here at our home offices today and tomorrow. Should be an informative and lively meeting.

I have a question for you. This past Sunday, while attending Mass at Saint Michael's Cathedral in Toronto, I noticed that the Collect and the Prayer after Communion had been placed in a binder and that binder was opened before the celebrant, who prayed the texts from the binder, rather than from the Missal itself. Have you noticed this as a common practice?

Some of you have contacted me, letting me know that you have had some difficulty placing comments on this blog. If so, please e-mail me directly at

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Falls and "O Canada!"

Wednesday greetings from Chicago. My apologies for not blogging the last few days; had a relaxing weekend in New York State and Ontario over the long weekend.

Wanted to share a few photos with you.

I had never been to Niagara Falls before. It was breathtaking and the "Maid of the Mist" was an experience I will not soon forget. Made me appreciate the grandeur of God's creation.

On Sunday, I attended Mass at Saint Michael's Cathedral in Toronto, the interior of which is pictured here:

The cathedral is currently undergoing restoration and, frankly, it could use it. My experience at the liturgy was a bit underwhelming. The celebrant preached a really wonderful homily and the readings were proclaimed with great care. What was most disappointing was the music. I walked in during the opening hymn, which people were singing with vigor from the Catholic Book of Worship III, the Canadian national hymnal. In the pews were the new "Celebrate in Song" supplements that the Canadian bishops released at the time of the new translation. It contains three new Mass settings, written by Canadian composers, as well as other music for Mass written since the national hymnal was last published. I was looking forward to singing one of these new Canadian settings.

The Gloria was chanted in Latin. In a fairly packed church, I heard the cantor's voice over the sound system and maybe five to ten additional voices chanting. I was frantically thumbing through the hymnal and the supplement for this traditional setting, hoping to add at least another voice, but never found it. It was kind of frustrating. The Gloria ended up being more like a dirge that we simply listened to; very disappointing. When the psalm was intoned, I didn't understand the words. Again, I thumbed through the hymnal, but never found it.

When the time came for the Sanctus, I immediately recognized the organ's introduction. Instead of one of the new Canadian settings, it was Community Mass. Again, very little singing; I didn't know the revised setting so I was lost from the beginning. The memorial acclamation evoked little to no response from the assembly; neither did the "great" Amen. The only time the assembly sang again with vigor was for the closing hymn. I was at a loss to figure out why the assembly sang so little during the Mass. I do need to say that the organist was quite fine; I enjoyed his playing very much.

Here is a photo I took of the cathedral's font, which is located in front of a side altar half way down the church.

Here is a wider shot of the area:

When leaving, I walked through a side vestibule, only to find a more recent stained glass window installation. It was pretty stunning, depicting Miriam with her tambourine, leading the singing after the Israelites passed through the Red Sea.

Here's a close-up of Miriam:

My time in Toronto included a visit to another important shrine:

As a kid I grew up watching and listening to Boston Bruins hockey games, with my heroes like Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. And now I am a dedicated Chicago Blackhawks fan. It was absolutely thrilling to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. I love its name in French: Temple de la renommée du hockey. Ah, my French-Canadian roots were fed here as well.

So, it was a great weekend with friends and family; even though a little disappointing on the Catholic liturgical front. Toronto is simply an amazing and diverse city. Each time I visit Canada, I think of how blessed its people are to live in such a welcoming and celebratory country. "O Canada!"

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.