It's all over the internet and Facebook, but just in case you missed it, here is the full text of pope Francis' Chrism Mass homily.
The homily ends with the following:
"Dear priests, may God the Father renew in us the Spirit of holiness with whom we have been anointed. May he renew his Spirit in our hearts, that this anointing may spread to everyone, even to those “outskirts” where our faithful people most look for it and most appreciate it. May our people sense that we are the Lord’s disciples; may they feel that their names are written upon our priestly vestments and that we seek no other identity; and may they receive through our words and deeds the oil of gladness which Jesus, the Anointed One, came to bring us. Amen."
Even though I am not an ordained priest, I do share in the priestly ministry of Christ through my baptism. I find the pope's words to be an inspiration. As one who is anointed "priest, prophet, and king," I bear a heavy responsibility to spread that anointing to everyone. Thank God for our annual celebration of the Triduum, where we are reminded again that we are baptized into Christ Jesus.
I will have a different kind of Triduum this year. I will be at my parish tonight and tomorrow for the celebrations. But I leave town on Saturday morning to grieve the loss of my friend Mary Miller, along with her family and friends. I don't return to Chicago until Sunday morning. So my vigil this year will be at the side of the remains of my friend.
I will hold all of you in prayer as we celebrate the paschal mystery in myriad ways over the next few days. And please pray for my friend Mary, that she will know the comfort of God's eternal peace.
Facebook can be an amazing place. I have so delighted in watching the posts of many of my liturgist and musician friends, commenting about their preparations for the Triduum. Truly, your work is underappreciated. Please accept the thanks from one who coordinated liturgy and music in large parishes for nearly twenty years. You will help us to love the Lord ever more deeply.
I haven't been doing much by way of commentary on the new translation recently, but this morning, I just wanted to say that I found Sunday's Prayer over the Offerings to be somewhat jarring. My pastor was obviously prepared, but even with loads of preparation, this is a tough one:
Through the Passion of your Only Begotten Son, O Lord,
may our reconciliation with you be near at hand,
so that, though we do not merit it by our own deeds,
yet by this sacrifice made once for all,
we may feel already the effects of your mercy.
Through Christ our Lord.
I really struggled to grasp what this was trying to say as it was prayed on Sunday. The theology embedded in this prayer is wonderful; unfortunately the construction just gets in the way, at least for this Catholic.
My experience of the simple preface was quite the opposite: it was clear and concise:
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
For, though innocent, he suffered willingly for sinners
and accepted unjust condemnation to save the guilty.
His Death has washed away our sins,
and his Resurrection has purchased our justification.
And so, with all the Angels,
we praise you, as in joyful celebration we acclaim:
For me, Palm Sunday, then, had its ups and downs, its "losts and founds."
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.
Yesterday (Sunday) morning, after waking up and preparing breakfast, my cell phone rang. The identity on the phone was recognized and I was nervous that my friend Mary was calling to share early morning bad news. Well, the cell phone being used was Mary's, but the voice on the other end of the line wasn't Mary's. It was her sister, obviously upset, to share the sad news that my friend Mary had not arisen that morning, but was found dead in her bed.
Mary and I were musicians who served the parishioners at Saint Marcelline in Schaumburg, Illinois at the 9:00 A.M. Sunday Mass for years during the 1990's. When I left the parish in 1999, Mary and I continued to be good friends, sharing wonderful dinners twice per year to mark Christmas and to mark our birthdays, which were just days apart; she was a year younger.
Each Christmas, Mary would bake hundreds of her signature rum cakes to share with family and friends. Folks, I am not a big sweets fan, but this rum cake was the best dessert I ever ate! I shared these rum cakes at WLP and would freeze at least one each Christmas at home, so that I could savor the taste some time in the Spring. Well, one of Mary's rum cakes is in my freezer right now.
My friends, my heart is aching in grief for this woman who was, purely and simply, my friend.
She moved back to her home in Columbus, Ohio, several months ago. We had planned to share our next dinner in Indianapolis, a half-way point between here and Columbus. I guess I will have to wait for the grand reunion at the heavenly banquet.
So, my plea today is for prayers. For my friend Mary. For her Mom, Rita. For her siblings, especially Kathi. Could I be so bold as to ask you to pause right now, close your eyes, and ask God to grant peace to Mary and comfort to her family and to me?
Yesterday morning at Mass, I sat there in that strange and numb state of grief. At the Preparation of the Gifts, we sang Aaron Thompson's Tree of Life. I couldn't hold it in and I cried for my friend. No one really noticed and if perhaps they did, they may have thought that I was moved by the music. No word was spoken directly to me, no word offering solace or comfort by anyone. But somehow the liturgy itself did so. Made me think that perhaps each Sunday, there are many more like me, many suffering that inward kind of suffering, just waiting and wanting for the comfort that comes only from a community of faith gathered to listen to God's word and to break bread.
Mary, my dear friend, may the choirs of angels come to welcome you and lead you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.
Well, folks, the dismantling and cataloging of our historic organ at Saint James, my parish, has begun. I also notice that the floor looks like it has been removed; linoleum floor tiles. Am I sad? Yes, but this organ has been at less than 10% functionality for years. Hoping for a new home (hopefully the new Saint James) for this beast! (in a very good sense). This pipe organ has the fattest, fullest diapason I have ever heard!
Difficult to say "good-bye," but in a sense of good stewardship and for the future of the Catholic presence on the near South Side, saying "good-bye" is a must.
One of the ways that I approach my work here is by looking to what happened on the day I was confirmed, May 13, 1972, at Saint Charles Church in Woburn, Massachusetts. As a manager who is Catholic, I often turn to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, given to me in confirmation, for inspiration and guidance.
I have those gifts on a piece of paper taped to my credenza here at my work station at WLP:
It's that last one that I try to cultivate as much as I can, especially on days when God can seem absent. Sometimes it just takes a simple opening of the eyes.
Here's a case in point. Last night, after a frustrating hour plus commute home, "stop-and-go" on the Kennedy Expressway here in Chicago, I started to prepare dinner. Even though the temperature outside was sub-freezing, that magical Spring early evening sunlight was streaming through the window in my home. As I stood at the kitchen counter peeling the potatoes and slicing the white onions, I was stunned by the sheer beauty of the way the sunlight was flooding the room and kissing the onions and potatoes. That seventh gift of the Holy Spirit, "wonder and awe in God's presence" suddenly welled up inside me. I stood there staring at these onions and potatoes. Finally, I took out my phone and took a few pictures. I don't think I've ever seen a more beautiful onion.
And the potatoes.
Just grateful today for these small things that make me realize the tremendous free gift that "wonder and awe in God's presence" can be in my life, when I take the time to embrace that gift in these simple moments. Who knew that onions and potatoes could provide the context!
I hope that your Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion is filled with grace for you. It is supposed to snow here; we'll probably be batting away snowflakes with our palm branches!
Happy Wednesday. And Happy First Day of Spring. 14 degrees here in Chicago. I stood on the train platform this morning in my Chicago neighborhood and the elctronic monitor told me that my "Green Line" train would arrive in six minutes. Very loooong six minutes! No signs of Spring here yet.
These are kind of in-between days for me. I have a great sense of hope welling up in my heart for the Catholic Church, now under the leadership of Pope Francis. At the same time, I am confused and dis-heartened over the state of affairs at my own Catholic parish. I guess I am just going to have to live with this for some time. Catholic life is never easy, is it?
On a much happier note . . . Our offices here at WLP are part of the corporate central offices of the J.S. Paluch Company. Many of Paluch's parish bulletins are printed in our large printing plant, located here as well. So we have lots of employees in this building, ranging from press operators to customer service agents, to members of our accounting department, editors, music engravers, IT professionals, marketers, rights and permissions personnel, and the list goes on. We have a break/lunch room here where many employees spend their break and lunch times. Yesterday and today, several new vending machines have been/are being installed. And there is a certain level of palpable excitment around here as our food and beverage choices have greatly expanded.
You know, sometimes the little things can make a real difference in our day to day lives. So, please help me welcome our new vending machines!
A word of thanks for your support through this blog and through Facebook regarding the subject of yesterday's blog post.
On this day of the inauguration of Pope Francis, and in honor of Saint Joseph's Feast Day, I want to share a beautiful video with you. It features the new book by Brother Mickey McGrath, Go to Joseph.
I have had the privilege of hearing Brother Mickey speak about the book and his personal devotion to Saint Joseph both at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress and at the Mid-Atlantic Congress in the last several weeks. I hope this video brings you closer to the Lord and to Saint Joseph.
Well, folks, I guess this particular post has been long in the making, but I feel the need to share this with you.
You all know of my love and affection for, and dedication to my parish, Saint James, on Chicago's near south side. From the very first day I went to Mass there--it will be ten years next month--I felt at home; I felt that this was a parish where I would be nourished and where I could make a contribution of time, talent, and treasure. Our old church building, while certainly a beautiful building, to me was always simply a house for this church community. This church community has had many houses over its long history.
We used perhaps a third of the actual space. Half the pews were never re-installed after a devastating fire in the early 1970's. All of the pews in the side transepts were roped off and never occupied. Basically, we were a small community in a church designed to fit a much larger community. After the fire, any interior art was white-washed. Most of the stained glass windows were lost in the fire. The historic pipe organ was badly in need of repair. The 20 tower bells were still able to be played from a small keyboard in the building. While the music program had been a fairly strong one, the hundred or so of us who gathered for Mass simply could not fill the space with our singing. The architectural details within the building were beautiful, no doubt. But this house wasn't serving the liturgical needs of this small community, dedicated to feeding the poor and ministering to the forgotten on the near South Side of Chicago.
There were more drawbacks to worshipping in this place. The Chicago Transit Authority's Green Line elevated subway tracks were built about twenty feet behind our sanctuary. So, at Mass, many trains would drive by, going north, going south. Often the lector, priest, or deacon would need to pause because, especially when the church's windows were open, the noise was a huge distraction. The floor of the church was made up of linoleum square tiles, installed after the fire. Many were coming up, and most were warped.
Four years ago, after a fire at Holy Name Cathedral here in Chicago, there were structural questions raised about the design of Holy Name; and our parish, Saint James, was designed by the same architect. So the city of Chicago and archdiocesan officials inspected our church building and an engineering firm was contracted. The result was that our church building was closed, deemed unsafe.
Since that time, we have been worshipping in our hall, which once served as the now closed Catholic school's auditorium. This has been the house for this parish community now for four years.
In August, it was announced that the Archdiocese has acquired land for a new house for this parish community; a new church to be built a few blocks east, away from the elevated tracks and actually in a neighborhood where people live. The hope was expressed that this would be a place that would be visible, in a neighborhood that is thriving. The archdiocesan officials explained that restoring our old church building was cost prohibitive and that a new building was the only viable answer. Those of you who follow this blog know of my excitement about this very hopeful news.
My unhappy distinction has been the fact that I am on the "demolition" committee; a sad fact indeed. But there are two main treasures to be saved from our old building: the historic pipe organ and the bells in our bell tower.
Several months ago, some new faces began to appear at Saint James. Preservationists began coming to Mass. I respect their intentions and their work in trying to save this old church building. Since then, however, these preservationists have drawn many parishioners into their cause. A rally was held yesterday outside the front of our old church building. There was a bagpiper there and people carried signs.
I am now part of a parish community that is deeply divided. This is the saddest chapter in my own Catholic parish life. I have asked people in our community why they did not speak up when the archdiocese was present; why they did not speak up when the parish formulated a letter of support to the Cardinal when we were asked to express our opinions. The answer, "I didn't feel it was my place."
Well, folks, it has become more and more difficult to celebrate Mass at Saint James. Many people, my Catholic brothers and sisters, have somehow been duped into thinking that if we save the church building, somehow we will be able to afford its restoration and, more importantly, the upkeep, maintenance, and heating costs in the future. My question is: "Where will the preservationsists be once we move back in? Will they be helping to pay our bills?"
This is a sad time, personally, for me. I told two members of our parish staff yesterday that it simply hurts to go to Mass at Saint James, in the middle of such division.
I honestly don't know where all of this will lead. I have decided to continue to be involved at my parish. Unfortunately, worshipping there has now become a cross that I reluctantly embrace.
I share this today simply to ask you to pray for Saint James parish and to pray for me. And I know that it all could be much, much worse. We simply could have been closed as a parish. But the Archdiocese has decided that there must be a thriving Catholic parish in our neighborhood. We have not been able to be that parish in our current building, on basically a dead end street underneath the tracks, with little housing nearby. The new building offers me hope, and I am hoping (perhaps against hope) that my brothers and sisters who are fighting now with the preservationists against demolition will somehow be led to see that re-inhabiting the current building just makes very little sense.
Thanks for listening and, once again, please pray for the parish community of Saint James.
Friday greetings from the home of J.S. Paluch and World Library Publications here in Franklin Park, Illinois. Well, I guess we did it. Yesterday at about noon time, we submitted the materials (photo, prayer, and biography in English and Spanish) to our J.S. Paluch bulletin production plants here in Illinois, in California, and in Florida. And from what I am told, approximately 4,000,000 had been printed by noon today and are being readied to be shipped to our J.S. Paluch bulletin parishes in the United States and Puerto Rico. They are scheduled to arrive next week. I was able to spend a little time in the printing plant here this morning. Here is the simple image, in a simple design, for a simple man, which we have produced:
And here are a few short videos of the printing process:
Quite a day for J.S. Paluch and World Library Publications.
I especially like the prayer that appears on the back of the photo, written by Michael Novak, one of our great editors, who "shepherded" the process:
O gracious God, our shepherd and guide,
look with love on Francis your servant,
whom you have appointed as successor to Saint Peter.
Grant him courage and wisdom,
and fill him with love for your people.
May he serve with fidelity all those whom you entrust to his care
and bring your Church together in unity of heart and purpose
as we seek to fulfill the mission of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
for ever and ever. Amen.
It is an honor and privilege for us to serve our parishes at this historic moment in our Church.
Looking forward to hearing the Eucharistic Prayer in Chicago this weekend: For Francis, our pope, and Francis, our bishop . . .
Thursday greetings from our home offices here in Franklin Park, Illinois.
So interesting to watch and listen to the various media outlets regarding this election, don't you think? Statements such as: "Pope Francis is a staunch opponent of abortion and gay marriage." Or questions like: "What do you think he will be saying as he offers Masses?"
As I watch the panel discussions, at which are seated intelligent priests and bishops, I can't help but feel that they must be cringing inside when these statements and questions arise.
Here on the homefront, this will be a very, very busy day. We have already crafted the biography of Pope Francis, are having it translated into Spanish right now. We have done the same with intercessions and prayers. We are also searching through our various outlets for an appropriate photo of the new pope; all of this to provide to our J.S. Paluch bulletin parishes a beautiful commemorative flyer. This is one that I will hang in my office.
What a day! Was sitting here at my desk, waiting for the smoke and then it came and it was first reported black, then someone screamed "bianco" and all hell broke loose around here.
When Pope Francis emerged and asked the world to pray for him, and when he bowed his head, and when the world (including those in our crowded lunchroom here at WLP) fell silent, I sat there stunned and moved by the Holy Spirit. It's days like these when I feel like a vital part of the great communion of 1.2 billion of my brothers and sisters all over this weary world.
And then to read this about him:
Bergoglio often rode the bus to work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited the slums that ring Argentina's capital. He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church. He accused fellow church leaders of hypocrisy and forgetting that Jesus Christ bathed lepers and ate with prostitutes. "Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit," Bergoglio told Argentina's priests last year.
Greetings on this "Black Smoke" "New Translation Tuesday."
I have had more than one Catholic friend say something like this in the last week or so: "It really doesn't matter to me who is elected pope; what matters is what is going on in my own parish."
And my response (especially on this "New Translation Tuesday") is this: "Are you kidding me?"
The biggest change that most of us have seen in our Catholic lives is the direct result of a papal action, namely the publication of Liturgiam Athenticam during the pontificate of Bl. Pope John Paul II. This is why we have a new English translation of The Roman Missal.Bl. Pope John Paul II simply changed the translation rules, pure and simple. So, it doesn't matter who is elected pope? Think again.
And the process of the new translation seemed to be on a track that was observable; we watched and listened for years as bishops' conferences in the English-speaking world debated and wrangled at times about a word or phrase. And, when they finally sent their decisions to the Vatican, what came back, under the pontificate of Benedict XVI was quite different than what they had approved. So, it makes no difference in the parish who is elected pope? Think again.
And consider the addition of the title "Divine Mercy Sunday" to the Second Sunday of Easter. This grew out of Bl. Pope John Paul II's personal commitment to the devotion that grew around Saint Faustina Kowalska. Popes don't really affect what happens in parish life? Really?
Praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit at this important time in our history.
Wow! I can't believe it has been nearly a week since my last post. I left Toronto very early on Wednesday morning, spent a few hours here at the office, went home, did laundry, re-packed, then flew to Baltimore into what was supposed to be a major snowstorm. Surprise! Not a flake of snow fell in Baltimore and most air traffic was halted into there on Wednesday. Go figure!
I was in Baltimore for the second annual Mid-Atlantic Congress for pastoral leaders. There were about a thousand people in attendance, most from the Mid-Atlantic region, but there were folks there from as far away as Seattle, Washington.
I gave a presentation: "Who Belongs in the RCIA Process," which was well received. WLP was a "platinum sponsor" for the event, which meant that we sponsored several speakers and printed the booklet for the conference.
Here are a few photos. The first is of yours truly holding the World Youth Day book that we helped the Pontifical Mission Society produce. If you have pilgrims planning to attend World Youth Day in Rio this summer, this book is a must-have. Ordering information from the society can be found here.
And here is a great photo of Marilyn Santos from the Pontifical Mission Society and Mary Lou Paluch Rafferty, the owner of J.S. Paluch and World Library Publications. We are proud of our collaboration with the society, which does such wonderful work throughout the world.
So, are you interested in knowing what the most popular resources were at our booth at the Mid-Atlantic Congress? The first was Mary Birmingham's brand new resource, Confirming Adult Catholics, for which I was the editor.
So many parishes try to find ways to effectively prepare adults for the sacrament of Confirmation. This book's first four sessions use the prayers and gestures from the celebration of the sacrament as the foundation for immediate sacramental preparation. The final session is a reflection on the actual celebration of the sacrament. Folks, this book is a real winner! Many parishes simply put parishioners who missed confirmation in the RCIA; and here we are talking about active Catholics who, for one reason or another missed the sacrament. They do not belong in the RCIA because the RCIA is for people coming to faith for the first time. Mary's book is based on her own pastoral experience over the past thirty years. This resource includes the process she developed over those years to minister to adult Catholics seeking the sacrament of Confirmation.
The second resource was Brother Mickey McGrath's new book, Go to Joseph.
Here is a description of this fine book from WLP's web site: "St. Joseph has been an inspiration to many and is perhaps one of the most beloved saints among Catholics today. But how much do we really know about Joseph? His appearance in the Bible is relatively brief and rather obscure, leaving us with little knowledge of who he was and what drove his devotion to and unwavering trust in the Lord. Go to Joseph is an exploration of this man, this human being that so many of us strive to be like, especially in times of conflict and doubt. Originating from the stunning illustrations of St. Joseph by Brother Michael O’Neill McGrath, sixteen different authors have come together to bring you twenty chapters exploring different aspects of St. Joseph’s life as a husband, a father, a craftsman, a traveler, a guide, and much more. Additionally, various works of art are explained in Brother Mickey’s own words connecting the dots as to how St. Joseph inspired him to create these beautiful images. With this book, let St. Joseph’s strength and grace become part of your own life and discover how he has become a role model for the universal Church."
I have to say that this book has generated lots of interest among Catholics. Many Sisters of Saint Joseph have purchased the book, as well as people from many parishes named after the saint, people whose name is "Joseph," relatives of "Joseph's," as well as dads from all walks of life.
Well, my travels have abated now for at least three weeks. Feels so good to be home! The next conference at which I will be presenting is NCEA (National Catholic Education Association). Their annual convention is the week after Easter in Houston, Texas.
My thoughts and prayers are with the cardinals in Rome for the next several days. Who knows, we may have a pope as early as tomorrow!
"New Translation Tuesday" greetings from Ontario. The parish mission at Holy Family Parish continued last night, with a focus on the Eucharist.
I was thrilled to be invited to the parish High School's championship hockey game yesterday. Many of you who follow this blog know what an avid hockey fan I am. I had never been to a high school game and was very impressed with the skating abilities of these young men.
Unfortunately, "we" were defeated by Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School.
Here's a short video I took of the action.
Last night, I asked the folks at the mission if they wouldn't mind appearing on my blog and they agreed to my request. Here are some of the folks attending the mission.
I have so enjoyed spending time with this community of faith. This morning I spoke to two groups of juniors and seniors at the high school, focusing on baptism and confirmation. I don't usually speak to teenagers, but I hope it was beneficial for them.
The mission concludes tonight, then I fly to Chicago (hopefully) in the morning. Our offices back home closed at noon today because of the snowstorm; very unusual for our company. Then tomorrow night I fly (hopefully) to Baltimore for the Mid-Atlantic Congress.
The parish mission at Holy Family Parish in Bolton began last night, with a focus on the power and potential of the sacrament of baptism. It's always wonderful to be here in the Toronto area. When doing presentations on Baptism in the United States, I ask where people were baptized. Most in the US were baptized somewhere in the US, with a few people baptized in countries outside the US. Last night, when I asked the question, responses were: Canada, Italy, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Croatia, Columbia, Hungary, Ukraine, Mexico, and a few more places. This is a wildly diverse place. But it all pointed to the reality that no matter where we were baptized, that sacrament fundamentally joins us together as a family of Christians.
Here's the font in which I was baptized at Saint Anthony Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Tonight's focus is on the Eucharist. I try to help people look at the Eucharist from three dimensions: sacrifice, nourishment, and reconciliation. Tonight's presentation is "heavier" than last night's because I invite people to ponder ways that celebrating the Eucharist call us to be a people aware of the vastness of God's mercy, in their lives and in our world.
I am beginning to worry about my travels for the next few days. Chicago is under a winter storm warning beginning tomorrow. I am scheduled to leave here very early Wednesday morning for Chicago. I plan to spend several hours at the office at WLP, then I travel home, empty my luggage, do the laundry, re-pack, and then leave Wednesday evening for Baltimore, where the Mid-Atlanic Congress begins on Thursday morning. But the winter storm is moving east and Baltimore is now under a winter storm watch for Wednesday and Thursday. Should be an interesting few days.
For now I am focused on the mission here in Bolton, Ontario.
Please pray for the safety of all travelers, especially those headed to Baltimore over the next few days.
Sunday greetings from Ontario. I am here in Canada leading a parish mission at Holy Family Parish in Bolton, a suburb of Toronto. I went to all four weekend Masses and the parish has a wonderful sense of hospitality and it is obvious that much care goes into preparing the liturgy and liturgical music. And the singing is just splendid.
Here is shot of the interior of the church:
To the right is the parish's Book of the Elect. There are five members of the Elect this Lent for the parish; all children of catechetical age.
And here is a photo during the celebration of the First Scrutiny. That's the pastor, my friend Fr. Larry Leger, kneeling in front of the young member of the elect during the laying on of hands during the scrutiny.
The mission gets into full gear tonight, with a focus on the power and potential of the sacrament of baptsim. I am looking forward to these prayerful days with this parish.
Dr. Jerry Galipeau is Vice President and Chief Publishing Officer at J. S. Paluch Company and its music and liturgy division, World Library Publications, located in Franklin Park, Illinois.
Jerry presents keynotes and workshops throughout the United States and Canada on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, liturgical spirituality, ritual music, evangelization, and adult spiritual formation. He earned the Doctor of Ministry with a concentration in liturgical studies from Catholic Theological Union at Chicago in 1999.
Gotta Sing Gotta Pray is Jerry's blog in which he shares reflections on current events in the Church and in the world that may be of particular interest to those serving the Church.