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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: Music on Long Island

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings from Bethpage, New York, here on Long Island.

Last night, at Saint Edward the Confessor church in Syosett,



a group of music directors gathered for a WLP choral reading session, "Sing the Seasons."


We sang through 25 pieces of music, ranging from James Clemens' The Holly She Bears a Berry to Lisa Stafford's hauntingly beautiful Mourns the Tree. The reading session, co-sponsored by the Rockville Centre NPM chapter, is being repeated today at Christ the King in Commack, New York.


With my job responsibilities and travel schedule, conducting choral reading sessions is a rare treat for me. WLP's selection of fine choral music has grown over the past several years. I tried to represent a wide range of music for these sessions; Spanish and bilingual selections, such as Peter Kolar's Oracion de los Fieles (Bilingual Intercessions); and music for childrens' choirs, like Marie-Jo Thum's delightful When We Sing.

Back to Chicago tonight. Beautiful, cool, and crisp day here on Long Island after an evening of steady rain.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Monday, October 15, 2012

From Dallas to Long Island via Chicago

Monday greetings from Long Island. Early flight to LaGuardia, then a drive out here to Bethphage. Presenting two WLP choral reading sessions here for the Diocese of Rockville Centre tonight and tomorrow afternoon.

The day in Dallas on Saturday, focused on "breaking open the word" went quite well. Very enthusiastic crowd and they stuck with it (and me) for six hours. Here's a photo I took of the group gathered in Dallas:


Well, time to start preparing for tonight's session here on Long Island.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, October 12, 2012

To Dallas and Long Island

Greetings on this beautiful autumn Friday.

In a few hours I will be leaving for Dallas, Texas.



I am presenting a day on "Breaking Open the Word" on Saturday. I am looking forward to sharing a new idea with the 100+ who have registered for the day. I am focusing on a new topic for me: "Apprenticed to the Living Word." I hope it goes well. The day will include the celebration of a liturgy of the word, followed by an actual "breaking open" session; I will be employing an adaptation of the "African Model."

I return to Chicago early Sunday morning. Monday morning, I leave for New York's LaGuardia Airport, then head out onto Long Island for two WLP choral reading sessions for the musicians of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. I have spoken there before and they are a great group of spirited church musicians.



I hope that wherever you are, you have safe and enjoyable weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Translation Thursday: Fifty Years



On this "New Translation Thursday," I can think of no better words than those of Bl. Pope John XXIII; his address that opened the Second Vatican Council. Today is the 50th anniversary of that speech.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.



OPENING SPEECH FOR COUNCIL OF VATICAN II

POPE JOHN XXIII
OCTOBER 11, 1962

(On October 11, 1962, the first day of the Council, Pope John XXIII delivered this address in St. Peter's Basilica.)

Mother Church rejoices that, by the singular gift of Divine Providence, the longed-for day has finally dawned when -- under the auspices of the virgin Mother of God, whose maternal dignity is commemorated on this feast -- the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council is being solemnly opened here beside St. Peter's tomb.

THE ECUMENICAL COUNCILS OF THE CHURCH

The Councils -- both the twenty ecumenical ones and the numberless others, also important, of a provincial or regional character which have been held down through the years -- all prove clearly the vigor of the Catholic Church and are recorded as shining lights in her annals.

In calling this vast assembly of bishops, the latest and humble successor to the Prince of the Apostles who is addressing you intended to assert once again the Magisterium (teaching authority), which is unfailing and perdures until the end of time, in order that this Magisterium, taking into account the errors, the requirements, and the opportunities of our time, might be presented in exceptional form to all men throughout the world.

It is but natural that in opening this Universal Council we should like to look to the past and to listen to its voices whose echo we like to hear in the memories and the merits of the more recent and ancient Pontiffs, our predecessors. These are solemn and venerable voices, throughout the East and the West, from the fourth century to the Middle Ages, and from there to modern times, which have handed down their witness to those Councils. They are voices which proclaim in perennial fervor the triumph of that divine and human institution, the Church of Christ, which from Jesus takes its name, its grace, and its meaning.

Side by side with these motives for spiritual joy, however, there has also been for more than nineteen centuries a cloud of sorrows and of trials. Not without reason did the ancient Simeon announce to Mary the mother of Jesus, that prophecy which has been and still is true: "Behold this child is set for the fall and the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted" (Lk. 2: 34 ) . And Jesus Himself, when He grew up, clearly outlined the manner in which the world would treat His person down through the succeeding centuries with the mysterious words: "He who hears you, hears me" (Ibid. 10:16), and with those others that the same Evangelist relates: "He who is not with me is against me and he who does not gather with me scatters" (Ibid. 11 :23).

The great problem confronting the world after almost two thousand years remains unchanged. Christ is ever resplendent as the center of history and of life. Men are either with Him and His Church, and then they enjoy light, goodness, order, and peace. Or else they are without Him, or against Him, and deliberately opposed to His Church, and then they give rise to confusion, to bitterness in human relations, and to the constant danger of fratricidal wars.

Ecumenical Councils, whenever they are assembled, are a solemn celebration of the union of Christ and His Church, and hence lead to the universal radiation of truth, to the proper guidance of individuals in domestic and social life, to the strengthening of spiritual energies for a perennial uplift toward real and everlasting goodness.

The testimony of this extraordinary Magisterium of the Church in the succeeding epochs of these twenty centuries of Christian history stands before us collected in numerous and imposing volumes, which are the sacred patrimony of our ecclesiastical archives, here in Rome and in the more noted libraries of the entire world.

THE ORIGIN AND REASON FOR THE SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL

As regards the initiative for the great event which gathers us here, it will suffice to repeat as historical documentation our personal account of the first sudden bringing up in our heart and lips of the simple words, "Ecumenical Council." We uttered those words in the presence of the Sacred College of Cardinals on that memorable January 25, 1959, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, in the basilica dedicated to him. It was completely unexpected, like a flash of heavenly light, shedding sweetness in eyes and hearts. And at the same time it gave rise to a great fervor throughout the world in expectation of the holding of the Council.

There have elapsed three years of laborious preparation, during which a wide and profound examination was made regarding modern conditions of faith and religious practice, and of Christian and especially Catholic vitality. These years have seemed to us a first sign, an initial gift of celestial grace.

Illuminated by the light of this Council, the Church -- we confidently trust -- will become greater in spiritual riches and gaining the strength of new energies therefrom, she will look to the future without fear. In fact, by bringing herself up to date where required, and by the wise organization of mutual co-operation, the Church will make men, families, and peoples really turn their minds to heavenly things.

And thus the holding of the Council becomes a motive for wholehearted thanksgiving to the Giver of every good gift, in order to celebrate with joyous canticles the glory of Christ our Lord, the glorious and immortal King of ages and of peoples.

The opportuneness of holding the Council is, moreover, venerable brothers, another subject which it is useful to propose for your consideration. Namely, in order to render our Joy more complete, we wish to narrate before this great assembly our assessment of the happy circumstances under which the Ecumenical Council commences.

In the daily exercise of our pastoral office, we sometimes have to listen, much to our regret, to voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not endowed with too much sense of discretion or measure. In these modern times they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin. They say that our era, in comparison with past eras, is getting worse, and they behave as though they had learned nothing from history, which is, none the less, the teacher of life. They behave as though at the time of former Councils everything was a full triumph for the Christian idea and life and for proper religious liberty.

We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand.

In the present order of things, Divine Providence is leading us to a new order of human relations which, by men's own efforts and even beyond their very expectations, are directed toward the fulfilment of God's superior and inscrutable designs. And everything, even human differences, leads to the greater good of the Church.

It is easy to discern this reality if we consider attentively the world of today, which is so busy with politics and controversies in the economic order that it does not find time to attend to the care of spiritual reality, with which the Church's Magisterium is concerned. such a way of acting is certainly not right, and must justly be disapproved. It cannot be denied, however, that these new conditions of modern life have at least the advantage of having eliminated those innumerable obstacles by which, at one time, the sons of this world impeded the free action of the Church. In fact, it suffices to leaf even cursorily through the pages of ecclesiastical history to note clearly how the Ecumenical Councils themselves, while constituting a series of true glories for the Catholic Church, were often held to the accompaniment of most serious difficulties and sufferings because of the undue interference of civil authorities. The princes of this world, indeed, sometimes in all sincerity, intended thus to protect the Church. But more frequently this occurred not without spiritual damage and danger, since their interest therein was guided by the views of a selfish and perilous policy.

In this regard, we confess to you that we feel most poignant sorrow over the fact that very many bishops, so dear to us are noticeable here today by their absence, because they are imprisoned for their faithfulness to Christ, or impeded by other restraints. The thought of them impels us to raise most fervent prayer to God. Nevertheless, we see today, not without great hopes and to our immense consolation, that the Church, finally freed from so many obstacles of a profane nature such as trammeled her in the past, can from this Vatican Basilica, as if from a second apostolic cenacle, and through your intermediary, raise her voice resonant with majesty and greatness.

PRINCIPLE DUTY OF THE COUNCIL: THE DEFENSE AND ADVANCEMENT OF TRUTH

The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously. That doctrine embraces the whole of man, composed as he is of body and soul. And, since he is a pilgrim on this earth, it commands him to tend always toward heaven.

This demonstrates how our mortal life is to be ordered in such a way as to fulfill our duties as citizens of earth and of heaven, and thus to attain the aim of life as established by God. That is, all men, whether taken singly or as united in society, today have the duty of tending ceaselessly during their lifetime toward the attainment of heavenly things and to use. for this purpose only, the earthly goods, the employment of which must not prejudice their eternal happiness.

The Lord has said: "Seek first the kingdom of Cod and his justice" (Mt. 6:33). The word "first" expresses the direction in which our thoughts and energies must move. We must not, however, neglect the other words of this exhortation of our Lord, namely: "And all these things shall be given you besides" (Ibid. ). In reality, there always have been in the Church, and there are still today, those who, while seeking the practice of evangelical perfection with all their might, do not fail to make themselves useful to society. Indeed, it from their constant example of life and their charitable undertakings that all that is highest and noblest in human society takes its strength and growth.

In order, however, that this doctrine may influence the numerous fields of human activity, with reference to individuals, to families, and to social life, it is necessary first of all that the Church should never depart from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers. But at the same time she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and new forms of life introduced into the modern world, which have opened new avenues to the Catholic apostolate.

For this reason, the Church has not watched inertly the marvelous progress of the discoveries of human genius, an has not been backward in evaluating them rightly. But, while following these developments, she does not neglect to admonish men so that, over and above sense -- perceived things -- they may raise their eyes to God, the Source of all wisdom and all beauty. And may they never forget the most serious command: "The Lord thy God shalt thou worship, and Him only shalt thou serve" (Mt. 4:10; Lk. 4:8), so that it may happen that the fleeting fascination of visible things should impede true progress.

The manner in which sacred doctrine is spread, this having been established, it becomes clear how much is expected from the Council in regard to doctrine. That is, the Twenty-first Ecumenical Council, which will draw upon the effective and important wealth of juridical, liturgical, apostolic, and administrative experiences, wishes to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion, which throughout twenty centuries, notwithstanding difficulties and contrasts, has become the common patrimony of men. It is a patrimony not well received by all, but always a rich treasure available to men of good will.

Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us, pursuing thus the path which the Church has followed for twenty centuries.

The salient point of this Council is not, therefore, a discussion of one article or another of the fundamental doctrine of the Church which has repeatedly been taught by the Fathers and by ancient and modern theologians, and which is presumed to be well known and familiar to all.

For this a Council was not necessary. But from the renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a Magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.


HOW TO REPRESS ERRORS

At the outset of the Second Vatican Council, it is evident, as always, that the truth of the Lord will remain forever. We see, in fact, as one age succeeds another, that the opinions of men follow one another and exclude each other. And often errors vanish as quickly as they arise, like fog before the sun. The Church has always opposed these errors. Frequently she has condemned them with the greatest severity. Nowadays however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She consider that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations. Not, certainly, that there is a lack of fallacious teaching, opinions, and dangerous concepts to be guarded against an dissipated. But these are so obviously in contrast with the right norm of honesty, and have produced such lethal fruits that by now it would seem that men of themselves are inclined to condemn them, particularly those ways of life which despise God and His law or place excessive confidence in technical progress and a well-being based exclusively on the comforts of life. They are ever more deeply convinced of the paramount dignity of the human person and of his perfection as well as of the duties which that implies. Even more important, experience has taught men that violence inflicted on others, the might of arms, and political domination, are of no help at all in finding a happy solution to the grave problems which afflict them.

That being so, the Catholic Church, raising the torch of religious truth by means of this Ecumenical Council, desires to show herself to be the loving mother of all, benign, patient, full of mercy and goodness toward the brethren who are separated from her. To mankind, oppressed by so many difficulties, the Church says, as Peter said to the poor who begged alms from him: "I have neither gold nor silver, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk" (Acts 3:6). In other words, the Church does not offer to the men of today riches that pass, nor does she promise them merely earthly happiness. But she distributes to them the goods of divine grace which, raising men to the dignity of sons of God, are the most efficacious safeguards and aids toward a more human life. She opens the fountain of her life-giving doctrine which allows men, enlightened by the light of Christ, to understand well what they really are, what their lofty dignity and their purpose are, and, finally, through her children, she spreads everywhere the fullness of Christian charity, than which nothing is more effective in eradicating the seeds of discord, nothing more efficacious in promoting concord, just peace, and the brotherly unity of all.


THE UNITY OF THE CHRISTIAN AND HUMAN FAMILY MUST BE PROMOTED

The Church's solicitude to promote and defend truth derives from the fact that, according to the plan of God, who wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (l Tim. 2:4), men without the assistance of the whole of revealed doctrine cannot reach a complete and firm unity of minds, with which are associated true peace and eternal salvation.

Unfortunately, the entire Christian family has not yet fully attained this visible unity in truth.

The Catholic Church, therefore, considers it her duty to work actively so that there may be fulfilled the great mystery of that unity, which Jesus Christ invoked with fervent prayer from His heavenly Father on the eve of His sacrifice. She rejoices in peace, knowing well that she is intimately associated with that prayer, and then exults greatly at seeing that invocation extend its efficacy with salutary fruit, even among those who are outside her fold.

Indeed, if one considers well this same unity which Christ implored for His Church, it seems to shine, as it were, with a triple ray of beneficent supernal light: namely, the unity of Catholics among themselves, which must always be kept exemplary and most firm; the unity of prayers and ardent desires with which those Christians separated from this Apostolic See aspire to be united with us; and the unity in esteem and respect for the Catholic Church which animates those who follow non-Christian religions.

In this regard, it is a source of considerable sorrow to see that the greater part of the human race -- although all men who are born were redeemed by the blood of Christ -- does not yet participate in those sources of divine grace which exist in the Catholic Church. Hence the Church, whose light illumines all, whose strength of supernatural unity redounds to the advantage of all humanity, is rightly described in these beautiful words of St. Cyprian:

"The Church, surrounded by divine light, spreads her rays over the entire earth. This light, however, is one and unique and shines everywhere without causing any separation in the unity of the body. She extends her branches over the whole world. By her fruitfulness she sends ever farther afield he rivulets. Nevertheless, the head is always one, the origin one for she is the one mother, abundantly fruitful. We are born of her, are nourished by her milk, we live of her spirit' (De Catholicae Eccles. Unitate, 5).

Venerable brothers, such is the aim of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, which, while bringing together the Church's best energies and striving to have men welcome more favorably the good tidings of salvation, prepares, as it were and consolidates the path toward that unity of mankind which is required as a necessary foundation, in order that the earthly city may be brought to the resemblance of that heavenly city where truth reigns, charity is the law, and whose extent is eternity (Cf. St. Augustine, Epistle 138, 3).

Now, "our voice is directed to you" (2 Cor. 6:11 ) venerable brothers in the episcopate. Behold, we are gathered together in this Vatican Basilica, upon which hinges the history of the Church where heaven and earth are closely joined, here near the tomb of Peter and near so many of the tombs of our holy predecessors, whose ashes in this solemn hour seem to thrill in mystic exultation.

The Council now beginning rises in the Church like daybreak, a forerunner of most splendid light. It is now only dawn. And already at this first announcement of the rising day, how much sweetness fills our heart. Everything here breathes sanctity and arouses great joy. Let us contemplate the stars, which with their brightness augment the majesty of this temple. These stars, according to the testimony of the Apostle John (Apoc. 1:20), are you, and with you we see shining around the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, the golden candelabra. That is, the Church is confided to you (Ibid.).

We see here with you important personalities, present in an attitude of great respect and cordial expectation, having come together in Rome from the five continents to represent the nations of the world.

We might say that heaven and earth are united in the holding of the Council -- the saints of heaven to protect our work, the faithful of the earth continuing in prayer to the Lord, and you, seconding the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in order that the work of all may correspond to the modern expectations and needs of the various peoples of the world.

This requires of you serenity of mind, brotherly concord moderation in proposals, dignity in discussion, and wisdom of deliberation.

God grant that your labors and your work, toward which the eyes of all peoples and the hopes of the entire world are turned, may abundantly fulfill the aspirations of all.

Almighty God! In Thee we place all our confidence, not trusting in our own strength. Look down benignly upon these pastors of Thy Church. May the light of Thy supernal grace aid us in taking decisions and in making laws. Graciously hear the prayers which we pour forth to Thee in unanimity of faith, of voice, and of mind.

O Mary, Help of Christians, Help of Bishops, of whose love we have recently had particular proof in thy temple of Loreto, where we venerated the mystery of the Incarnation dispose all things for a happy and propitious outcome and, with thy spouse, St. Joseph, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, intercede for us to God.

To Jesus Christ, our most amiable Redeemer, immortal King of peoples and of times, be love, power, and glory forever and ever.

Address of His Holiness Pope John XXIII at the Opening of the Second Vatican Council, copyright © 1962, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. All rights reserved.



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More on Saint Kateri

The Saint Kateri resources arrived on my desk today. Wanted to share these with you. When I saw the prayer cards, I immediately ordered enough for every person in my parish!

See today's earlier post for more information. Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

New Translation Tuesday: Oops!

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings from Chicago, where the air is clear and crisp. The Autumn colors are just beautiful here.

Well, it happened to me this past Sunday. I guess I must have been on "auto-pilot." After the "Behold the Lamb of God . . . ," there I stood, in full voice, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you . . ."

It was a little embarrassing, especially after all this time. It was interesting because just a few minutes earlier, the celebrant was also on "auto-pilot" for the embolism following the Lord's Prayer. He caught himself in the middle of saying the old translation, stopped, thumbed through the Missal, then began the prayer again, this time with the new translation. I guess it will still take some time for this new translation to become a part of our "Catholic DNA."



As we approach the canonization of Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, I want to remind you all again about WLP's beautiful resources to commemorate this important moment in U.S. Catholic history. Brother Mickey McGrath has painted an inspiring image of Kateri, a person very close to his own heart. We have prayer cards available for your parishioners (in packs of 25), personal note cards, and a poster for the Catholic classroom, the parish office, religious education centers, rectories, and the Catholic home. I just love Mickey's portrayal.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Notre Dame at Holy Name

Monday morning greetings. Autumn has taken hold here in Chicago; cool, crisp days have replaced the warm ones of the summer.

I have a day off today in observance of Columbus Day.

On Saturday, several of us from World Library Publications attended the 10:00 A.M. Mass at Holy Name Cathedral here in Chicago at the invitation of Steve Warner, director of the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir. The Notre Dame football team was playing a "home" game on Saturday evening, "hosting" Miami at Chicago's Soldier Field. I understand that when Notre Dame plays home football games at the campus in Indiana, the day begins with Mass at the University's basilica. The Saturday Mass at Chicago's cathedral was the celebration that would have normally have taken place on the campus. Here's a shot of the Notre Dame Folk Choir at the cathedral:


They were ministering to us from the front of Holy Name; a bit of an awkward space, but they sounded wonderful.

Did you catch any of the pope's opening message during the inauguration of the synod on the new evangelization? He echoed Paul VI's inspiring words from Evangelii Nuntiandi: "The Church exists to evangelize." In a world that increasingly seems not to need nor want to hear the Good News of Christ, it should be interesting to watch how this synod unfolds.

I am spending today preparing for a day of formation in the Diocese of Dallas on Saturday. It is a day focused on "breaking open the word." I am excited about and challenged by the topic.

I hope that your Monday is a good one.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Vatican Council II: Approaching the 50th Anniversary

Friday greetings to all.

We are six days away from October 11, 2012, the Fiftieth Anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.



On the wall, just to the left of my computer screen here at the office, is an icon of Blessed Pope John XXIII. This "child of Vatican II," I obviously have no living memory of this great man, one of my heroes. I have been doing some digging recently and have discovered some videos on Youtube, which I will be sharing as these next days unfold.

When the prisoners erupt in applause during this video, it took my breath away. I hope you are as moved as I was, especially if you have never seen this.



I hope your weekend is a good one; it's a three-day holiday weekend for us here at World Library Publications and the J.S. Paluch Company.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

New Translation Thursday: Liturgy "Created or Modified"

"New Translation Thursday" felicitations to all.

At yesterday's general audience, Pope Benedict had this to say about the liturgy, as reported by Catholic News Service:

"The conviction must grow in us every day that the liturgy is not 'our' or 'my' doing, but is God's acting in us and with us." "If in the celebration (of Mass) the centrality of Christ does not emerge, we won't have Christian liturgy, totally dependent on the Lord," who supports it with his presence. It's not the action of the individual--whether the priest or one of the faithful--or the group gathered in the pews "that celebrates the liturgy, but it is primarily the action of God through the church, which has its own history, rich tradition and creativity. This universality and fundamental openness, which is characteristic of the whole liturgy, is one of the reasons it cannot be created or modified by the individual community or by experts, but must be faithful to the forms of the universal church," he said. The faithful fully experience the church in the liturgy, which is "the act in which we believe God enters into our reality and we can meet him and can touch him. ... He comes to us and we are enlightened by him," the pope said.



I must say that I have been inspired by the pope's words. I think, for instance, of the liturgical life of my own parish. My pastor has, on occasion, reminded us that the liturgy is not ours, per se. He reminded a group gathered just this week that we are not the "Saint James Community Church on Wabash Avenue in Chicago. We are a Roman Catholic Church that is connected to a universal Church." I think this is a value sometimes forgotten or overlooked by some in my parish. We can certainly sometimes get a bit myopic in our own ecclesiology (I sometimes fall into this trap, to be honest with you). I have been grateful for my pastor's steering us in a good direction.

What puzzles me about the pope's remarks, though, is the section when he speaks about the liturgy, saying, "it cannot be created or modified by the individual community or by experts." I must admit that it has been a long, long time since I have had an experience of a liturgy (Mass) that has been "created" or "modified" in such a way that it breaks with the Roman rite. Am I alone?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

No More Tropes for the Lamb of God

Hello all.

Just received the BCDW Newsletter. Page one, lead article:

USCCB Administrative Committee Approves Change to Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship

In response to a request from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the USCCB Administrative Committee adopted a change on September 12, 2012 to the U.S. Bishops’ 2007 guidelines on liturgical music, Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship. Number 188 of the document has been altered to remove any further permission for the use of Christological tropes or other adaptations to the text of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).

Not unexpected. Note the words "further permission."   Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: "The Best of Times and the Worst of Times"

Welcome to this edition of "New Translation Tuesday."



At Mass this past Sunday, I listened carefully to the Collect, which when examined right from the Missal, looks like it would be difficult to proclaim:

O God, who manifest your almighty power
above all by pardoning and showing mercy,
bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us
and make those hastening to attain your promises
heirs to the treasures of heaven.
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.

My pastor prayed the prayer slowly and deliberately, pausing in just the right places to make this prayer understandable instantly. Opportunity seized and won.

The Prayer after Communion, on the other hand, did not go as well. And I knew he was trying very hard to make it work:

May this heavenly mystery, O Lord,
restore us in mind and body,
that we may be coheirs in glory with Christ,
to whose suffering we are united
whenever we proclaim his Death.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

It was the phrase "to whose suffering we are united" that caused him to stumble. And it happened at both Masses I attended at Saint James. To be frank with you, this phrase leaves me with the question, "Who actually phrases things like that in English?" I think this is one of those cases where the translators were probably backed into a corner with having to use new rules of translation. Unfortunately, at least for me, this just didn't work at all. And what is saddest about this is the fact that the theology expressed in the prayer is too important to be obscured by an extremely awkward translation. Opportunity lost.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fine Musical Instruments: All the Difference

A glorious Monday has dawned here in the Midwest. Looks like our temperatures here in Chicago will begin to get lower as the week wears on.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of playing at the Masses at Saint James. Our music director's child was baptized at the 9:30 and I covered for him at the 11:30.

One of the things that non-musicians can't quite grasp is how important a good musical instrument is to the musician. I grew up in a parish in Massachusetts that housed an old  Hook & Hastings tracker pipe organ. While pretty basic, it nonetheless really filled the church with a full sound that supported the congregation's song.

While I was in the seminary, I played the organ regularly at Saint Peter's Church in Lowell, Massachusetts. Here is an old postcard depicting the church and the massive rectory:


It was another Hook & Hastings with four manuals and a sound that would blow your socks off. I absolutely loved playing that organ.  The church has since been demolished. In a strange twist of fate, Patrick Keeley was the architect for Saint Peter's. He was also the architect for Saint James in Chicago, which now faces demolition as well.  I always wondered what happened to that organ. Recently, I discovered that the organ had been saved. Here is an excerpt from the Andover Organ Company's web site:

The "new" organ was the Hook & Hastings instrument, Opus 1848, 1899, originally installed in St. Peter's Church, Lowell, MA, rescued at the last minute by Andover on a bitterly cold March day just ahead of the wrecker's ball. St. Peter's had been closed for 10 years due to structural problems. With some additions, the organ was ideal for the new Corpus Christi Church. Consultant James Jordan, James DeFrancesco and Thomas Ryan, Liturgist, along with the Pastor, Reverend Marcel H. Bouchard met with Don Olson of Andover to work out the details of the installation. The main problem was that in St. Peter's, the height of the organ case was 38 feet and the space allotted to the organ in Corpus Christi was 21 feet. With designer Jay Zoller and master woodworker Al Hosman, the case was reconfigured to fit into the space. The massive 16' Open Diapason pipes were lowered to six inches above the floor and the impost and case panels were cut apart, lowered and mitered to fit.

The organ was installed at the new (2003) Corpus Christi parish in East Sandwich, Massachusetts, which is on Cape Cod.



When I found this photo, my heart skipped a beat; the original style of the pipes (as I had experienced them at Saint Peter's in Lowell so many years ago) had been restored:


I would love to play that organ once again, in its "re-incarnation."

I say all of this because of the delight this musician experienced at Saint James yesterday. We obviously do not have a pipe organ in our Catholic school auditorium, our current worship space. But we do have a Yahama grand piano and, to be honest, it is one of the finest I have ever played. Its action is quite responsive and I find it so easy to "paint" with this instrument. There's nothing like having a fine pipe organ or a great piano at your fingertips.

Musicians, you know exactly what I mean in this post. There's nothing quite like arriving to play at Mass and finding an out-of-tune piano, or an organ with all kinds of notes taped to it warning the visiting organist to avoid certain stops, or keys for that matter!

I loved playing yesterday; it's one of those things I miss about working in a parish. Maybe I should do it more often.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.