Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas and a Review of WLP's One in Faith Hardbound Hymnal

Greetings on this final day of 2014.

The last week has been a wonderful whirlwind for me. I spent most of Christmas week with my family in Massachusetts, celebrating my Dad's 80th birthday and a Christmas celebration filled with joy.

I attended Mass at a small New England Church, Saint Andrew, in Billerica, Massachusetts. This is one of the three worship sites that make up a merged parish.

We attended the 4:00 P.M. vigil Mass. We arrived about 45 minutes early and got a third row seat. By 3:45, there were scores of people standing in the side aisles. The assembly's sung and spoken prayer was strong, stronger than I had expected. During the young priest's proclamation of the Gospel (he was ordained just a year ago), children processed up the main aisle and created a tableau of the nativity scene. The cuteness of these children, especially the little "lambs" tugged at my heart. Simply a prayerful, simple celebration of the nativity.

I was back in Chicago on Saturday and, while checking out my favorite internet sites, I discovered the review by James Frazier of WLP's new One in Faith hymnal over on the PrayTell blog. I have been asked to review short books before. I can't imagine what a daunting task it is to be asked to review a large hardbound hymnal and its accompaniments. I thought the review was a good one. I appreciated the care in which Mr. Frazier commented on the various elements of the hymnal itself. As with any reviewer, Frazier uses the review itself as a jumping off point to make some comments about the state of Roman Catholic music in general; this is not uncommon, but has less to do with the hymnal itself. Our staff, who has worked so hard on this hymnal project, was delighted with Mr. Frazier's final comment:

A Mature Guide
Kudos to the WLP hymnal committee for providing the church with so worthy a “worship aid” as One in Faith. The book presents today’s congregations with a mature guide into a distant future.

On Sunday, I attended Mass at 11:15 at the beautiful Saint Clement church here in Chicago. Yes, I am still on my quest for a parish home, and 2015 will be the year during which I finally settle somewhere. Some photos of the interior:


 Their "Advent-turned-into-Christmas" suspended wreath is absolutely stunning:

You can see it suspended above the font in the other photos.

Well, followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray, thank you for reading these musings throughout 2014. I am traveling less frequently in 2015, so I will be more dilgent about regularly posting here.

I hope that 2015 opens with a renewed effort at making peace in our hearts, in our families, and in our world.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 22, 2014

O Rex Gentium: The "Desired One" for Vermont and for Me

Monday greetings: O Rex Gentium!

"O King of the gentiles and their desired One, the cornerstone that makes both one: come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth."

Two thoughts fill my mind this day before the day before the eve before.

When I think of the "desired One," my thoughts turn to the people of the State of Vermont. This is a state that holds a special place in my heart and the hearts of my family members and friends. We vacationed in Vermont every single summer, on the shores of the White River, in a small town called Gaysville. Here is a photo of the Gaysville Post Office:

And here is the beautiful White River:

Why musings about Vermont this morning? Well, the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont, which covers the entire state, has been waiting for their own "desired one," a new bishop. And my friend Chris Coyne, currently the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, was named bishop of Burlington by Pope Francis this morning.

Chris and I were in the same homeroom our senior year at Woburn High School in Woburn, Massachusetts. We were in the same creative writing course with Miss Leverich that year. We spent time together preparing for the ordained priesthood at Saint John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts. Chris enjoys the blessings of the ordained priesthood and I, for my part, continue to enjoy and discern what it means to be a member of the priesthood of the laity! Our families were close; our sisters were very good friends. I lost touch with Chris over the years, but have been able to connect with him a few times over the past couple of years. He is an amazingly straight shooter; honest, articulate, deeply spiritual, and just plain hilarious at times. Chris, I saw this sign many times throughout my life; now it is a sign for you:

My second thought this morning is also about the "desired One." Yesterday, I had the privilege of driving a few miles west of Chicago; I needed to deliver a Christmas present to a Godson in Oak Park, Illinois. I decided to go to the 11:00 Mass at Ascension Parish. I have many colleagues here at WLP who minister there in the parish's music ministry, undoubtedly one of the finest parish music programs in North America.

The music drew me in; every piece's corresponding hymnal number was posted. The Eucharistic Acclamations were in a "call-response" format and were easily picked up. Lots of singing around me. and the choir was simply stunning. So proud that so many colleagues and friends lead people closer to Christ at this parish; I certainly felt closer to the "desired One" yesterday. After Mass, the choir had a short final rehearsal of their Christmas choral repertoire. What a treat! Here is my amateur video of a portion of Chrysogonus Waddell's Rosa Mystica.

I hope that you grow closer to the "desired One," the "Kind of the Gentiles" as Christmas approaches.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 19, 2014

O Radix Jesse: Watch Out!

Greetings on this third day of the final days of Advent. O Radix Jesse!

"O Flower of Jesse's stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid."

Today's O Antiphon immediately brings me a chuckle as I remember an event in my childhood. At my home parish, Saint Charles in Woburn, Massachusetts, we had quite the weekend Mass schedule throughout the 1960's, 70's, and early 80's.

With four priests in the rectory, our pastor, Monsignor Christopher C. O'Neill, believed in serving the people by providing as many Masses as possible. This was the weekend schedule (and I am not joking here!)

Saturday: 4:00, 5:00, and 7:00 P.M.
Sunday Morning: 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 Noon in English, and 12:00 Noon in Spanish
Sunday Evening: 4:00, 5:15, 7:30 P.M.

That's right, 14 weekend Masses. And there was music at every one of them except the first three Sunday morning Masses. We had a cantor who sang most of the Masses; his name was Mark.

I will never forget the Fourth Sunday of Advent one year.

Standing tall, next to the ambo, was the large Jesse tree, basically a giant, dead, leaf-less tree, with lots of Jesse tree ornaments all over it. For some reason, as Mark was singing the responsorial psalm on that day, the tree started to bend in his direction, until it finally began to fall right on top of him as he chanted the psalm. He very calmly put up his left hand and held the tree up and never missed a word or a note of the psalm. When it was finished, the altar servers came to his aid and all was well with Mark and the Jesse tree again.

"Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid."

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

O Adonai: Art's Power

Greetings on this second of the final days of Advent: O Adonai!

"O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power."

Yesterday's reflection was all about my own lack of wisdom, even though I can be somewhat of a "wise guy" at times.

Today I am drawn into thinking about God's appearance to Moses and I am left wondering about the ways that God appears to me in the "burning bushes" of my daily life. As part of my work, I get to see the various stages of the editorial, production, and proofing processes of various projects. Today one of our editors brought me the final proof of Brother Mickey McGrath's latest book with us, Dear Young People, Inspiration from Pope Francis for Everyone, which will be ready to send to the printer some time later today or tomorrow. This was my "burning bush" moment today. Mickey's art simply reveals so much about God, about the Lord Jesus, about the Holy Spirit, and about this Christian existence. As I turned the pages and read Mickey's reflections, I found myself profoundly grateful for the gift of artists like Mickey in my life.

I truly believe that God uses art to help save us. I have a favorite quote from Paul Tillich:

"The artist brings to our senses and through them to our whole being something of the depth of our world and of ourselves, something of the mystery of being. When we are grasped by a work of art things appear to us which were unknown before--possibilities of being, unthought-of powers, hidden in the depth of life which take hold of us" (Paul Tillich, "Address on the Occasion of the Opening of the New Galleries and Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Modern Art," 1964).

This is exactly what Mickey's images in this new book did for me today. What power is in good art! I will be talking more about this book when it is released. Here is a preview of the cover. All of the art is inspired by various tweets and saying of Pope Francis.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

No Wise Answers On This Day of Wisdom

Greetings on this first of the final days of Advent. O Sapientia; O Wisdom.

"O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence."

Sometimes I think that I am a fairly wise man; I can solve crossword puzzles; I successfully complete the Chicago Tribune's word jumble every morning; I can usually pick up enough words in a foreign language to make my way through that foreign country with relative ease. Jerry, the "wise man."

But recent events show me that this brain of mine lacks the kind of wisdom that we hOnor today, the wisdom that supposedly orders "all things mightily and sweetly."

I was at Starbuck's this morning with a colleague here at WLP. He has three kids and as he waited for his coffee, the front page of the New York Times caught his eye. This was the disturbing photo on the cover page, showing the body of one of the students killed in the Taliban attack in Pakistan yesterday.

We both kind of just looked at each other. The faces of his three kids flashed across my mind. As someone with no children of my own, I often wonder what it feels like when parents see other parents' children murdered. My heart just ached for this colleague as we both wondered allowed about God's presence - or absence - in all of this. My mind wandered as I thought about two of his kids sitting in a classroom in their Catholic school, just like these kids were yesterday in Pakistan. I forced myself to stop thinking about it.

And then, arriving at work, I started to think about what to say about today's O antiphon. The wise man, Jerry, searches for wisdom and finds emptiness. Wisdom? Really? Orders all things mightily and sweetly? Really? Come on, God, where are you in all of this? What kind of sweet order is this?

No wise answers today from this wise man.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Robe of Salvation

Tuesday greetings from the overcast Midwest.

On Sunday morning, I was really draw into the First Reading from Isaiah. I couldn't help but think of the baptismal character of these words:

I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice . . .

When I heard the words, I thought about being "clothed with a robe of salvation." When I was baptized, I wore a baptismal "gown" that has passed through generations in my family. On that day in 1958, I wore the same gown as did my grandfather at his own baptism decades earlier. And my grandfather was my godfather. That gown has become, for generations of Galipeau's, the symbolic "robe of salvation."

The memory of that garment was bittersweet for me and helped me understand baptism more deeply. Many, many of us were baptized in that very garment. Some have spent our lives responding to what having been baptized really means in life. Others have turned away. I do not stand in judgment on any of these loved ones. I hear similar stories throughout my travels, mostly from deeply saddened parents and grandparents. I just wonder how, in the same family, raised by the same loving sets of parents, some respond to the baptismal call and others simply don't. I live in the hope that someday we all will see what joy living the baptismal call can bring. I hope the same thing for you, readers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray. A blessed continuation of this holy season to you.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Where Should We Start?

Greetings on another dreary day here in the Midwest. Promise of sun tomorrow! Hooray!

Yesterday's report regarding the CIA interrogations has me reeling. I remember well a comment my six-year-old nephew made on September 11, 2001. You see, just a few months before, my youngest sister, his aunt, had died after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis. After the horrible tragedies of September 11, my nephew said that "Aunt Joanne now has many, many more friends in heaven." Simply the way a young child interprets reality.

I guess I might be too simple in my approach to living this human existence on this planet of ours. On that day, I felt pain that so many of my human brothers and sisters had suffered and died so horribly. I felt the pain in my heart as I watched loved ones seaching for the missing. And I have to say that I felt the same pain as I read some of the sections of the report on the CIA interrogations yesterday. These people were still human beings, and what they went through at the hands of other human beings brought pain into my heart.

I know that it is all way more complicated. We see human beings bring pain and death upon other human beings every single day. And some of the comments I have read in the "Comments" section beneath newspaper articles about the report left me so sad for humanity. What would happen if we saw one another as members of the same human family first, rather than members of a certain race or ethnic group, or members of a political party or faction, or members of a religious sect? Every one of us was born from the womb of our mothers; we all were fed and sustained; we all cry; we all feel physical pain; we all bleed; we all breathe. I know this is simplistic, but why can't we start with what we all have in common? Respect for other human beings has eroded. We are seing more of the results of that erosion.

Praying that some good will come out of all this.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Reaching into the Unrest

Tuesday greetings on a very dreary day here in the Midwest. Light rain and temperatures in the 30's now for several days.

I remember well my first winter here in the Midwest. I moved here from sunny central Florida. On my first Thanksgiving here, the homilist for the Thanksgiving Day Mass began his homily with these words: "I don't know what we have to be thankful for; we haven't seen the sun here in 29 straight days!" Ah, the Midwest!

I don't know about you, but these are days of fond remembrances for me of Advents and Christmases long past. I guess I still have the eyes of a child during this season. Each afternoon as the light disappears earlier and earlier and appears later and later in the morning, I remember my childhood days in New England. As my carpool colleagues and I drive home each day, I marvel at the Christmas lights adorning yards and homes. I also laugh at overblown Rudolphs and snowmen and Santas and reindeer; most of these are so out of scale in the smallish Chicago front yards. This weekend I saw a yard decoration and as I looked more closely, I realized it was a Christmas Dachshund, like this one:

Makes me chuckle!

I have been praying for peace during these days of protests in our country. The unrest sparked by recent court decisions (or non-decisions) leaves me in a state of unrest as well. "How long, O Lord?" As I sing the Advent hymns, asking for Emmanuel ("God-with-us") to come into our hearts and into our world, I find that too often it seems that God feels strangely absent in it all, kind of like a "God-not-with-us." Yet I know deep down that God is most present when I sense this lack of presence. Kind of a strange paradox, don't you think?

As our days here at WLP become seemingly busier and busier, I am so grateful for the work that the dedicated members of our staff accomplish in these days. Our hope, of course, is that our work is making a difference in parishes. Our hope is that, even in times of unrest and a seeming lack of God's presence, somehow the music and prayer resources we publish will reach into that unrest and keep the promise of peace alive.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Salt and Light Radio Interview and Child of Hope

Friday greetings to all.

I had the opportunity earlier this week to be interviewed by Deacon Pedro at Salt and Light Radio; just a brief ten minutes. If you want to tune in, here is the information:

This edition of the SLHour will be available for online streaming or download on Saturday at noon ET at
The program will also air on:
-The Catholic Channel (Sirius XM 129) this Saturday at 3 and 10pm ET (7pm PT) and on Sunday at 2pm ET (11am PT).
-The Spirit Catholic Radio Network (Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa: Spirit 102.7FM; Spirit 88.3FM, Spirit 91.5FM and Spirit 90.1FM) on Saturday at 10am and 9pm CT
-WJTA 88.9FM Holy Family Radio in northeastern Ohio on Saturday at 1pm
-The Lamb Catholic Radio (South Dakota KSJP 88.9FM and KSTJ 91.3FM) Saturday and Sunday at 9pm
-The Baraga Radio Network (northern Michigan: WIDG 940AM, WICK 90.9FM, WICK 92.1FM, WTCY 88.3FM, WGZR 88.9FM, WGJU 81.3FM) on Monday at noon.

This morning in my mailbox, I found a new collection we have just published here at WLP. I ran to the piano and played through the carols in the Child of Hope collection by John Carter. These are wonderfully crafted and fresh arrangements of traditional Christmas carols: Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming; Good Christian Friends, Rejoice; Still, Still, Still; Angels We Have Heard on High; Silent Night; and Christmas Hymn.

Keyboard players, run to your computer now and order this volume from our web site, or call our great folks in customer care at 1 800 566-6150.

Hope your second weekend of Advent is a blessed one!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Which Gift?

Thursday greetings from the Midwest, where it is an overcast and cold day.

Sometimes, on days like today, I force myself to glance to my right as I sit at my computer. Some of you know me well enough to know that this is what I have taped to the wall of my credenza:

Today, I need to reach deep within my heart and soul for the first and third of these gifts, given to me at the celebration of confirmation.

Take a look for yourself. Which gift/s do you need to use today?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 1, 2014

As Advent Begins . . .

Advent greetings on this frosty Monday morn' here in the Midwest.

I hope your Thanksgiving weekend was a good one. Mine was filled with great food, family, and friends. So grateful for all God has rained down.

I loved singing the Advent hymns at Mass yesterday: O Come, O Come Emmanuel, The King Shall Come, and Lord of All Hopefulness. The homilist invited us to take time during Advent to dedicate ourselves to a real season of deep spiritual preparation for the celebration of Christmas. Trying to take that to heart can be a challenge in this busy season, but try I will.

Once again, I find myself looking to Pope Francis for inspiration in these days of expectant longing. A photo caught my eye this morning. This was taken during Francis' trip to Turkey last week. I hope to get to Turkey in 2015. This depicts Francis bowing and asking for a blessing from the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Fifty years ago, Blessed Paul VI and the then-patriarch Athenagoras inaugurated a dialogue about the re-unification of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Last week's meeting solidified that process with declarations of a "no turning back" stance. What struck me most was the two leaders talking about the reality that unification already exists in the persecutions of and the killing of Christians in the Middle East. We Christians here in the United States, for the most part sheltered as we are from religious persecution, need to feel deeply for our brothers and sisters who have been driven from their homes and towns and who are being martyred daily.

As the candles of our Advent wreaths are lit each day, let us pray for these sisters and brothers who suffer so much. As the wax of those candles melt, let us also pray that hearts hardened by misguided religious zeal will melt and become hearts softened with love, care, and respect, bringing an end to these senseless persecutions.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving: A Grateful Heart

Wednesday greetings to all.

Today, I want to talk with you about what it means for me to live my life with a grateful heart. This is deeply personal so bear with me as I open the book and move through some of the chapters of that book with you.

My first memories of living on this earth are pretty simple ones. The first thing that I can recall is a day in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the place where I was born. My grandparents (Memere and Pepere) had a wooden swing in their yard; you don't see these much anymore. It looked something like this:

The floor and seats were on runners, so you sat across from people sitting on the other side and you all simply rocked back and forth, back and forth. I believe that my heart began to take shape as a grateful one on days like that; simple days spent with grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and cousins. I am grateful that my first living memory is of that swing upon which sat my extended family.

Our family (of four at the time; eventually there would be eight of us) moved to Burlington, Massachusetts (a suburb of Boston) when I was a toddler. Vivid memories of playing with my Dad and sister in the yard; curling up on the floor of our small apartment where the forced hot air vent would warm my little body on those cold New England mornings; snuggling with my Dad in his bed when I was scared or afraid of the dark. My heart surely had to have grown more grateful as I was surrounded by such warmth and unconditional love.

To this day, I cannot wrap my brain around those Christmas mornings while the eventual six of us were growing up. Even though we didn't know it at the time, we were either at or below the poverty level. Yet those Christmas mornings saw us walking into that living room and gazing in awe at those presents under the Christmas tree. Never, ever was there any sense that Christmas for us was anything but abundant. Open the gifts, go to Mass as a family, visit the outdoor creche at Saint Charles in Woburn, Massachusetts, come home and begin to play with our new toys and gadgets, then spend a day eating and playing cards and board games and the French-Candian version of parcheesi with our extended family. My heart would have been bursting with gratitude.

There were some darker days in my own childhood and adolescence as I suffered abuse at the hands of a teacher. I withdrew into the world of music as a way of shielding myself from the fact that my childhood was being stolen right from underneath me. In those days, there simply were no open doors for discussions about these things. When I finally forced that door open, a flood of gratitude filled my heart for parents who deeply lamented with me and were finally able to provide the shelter and protection that I needed for too many years. And even now, knowing full well that the person who I am was deeply affected by the horror of all that had occurred, somehow I am grateful to have survived (mostly intact!).

Folks, we all have our stories; we all have the chapters of sheer joy and exulatation; we have those chapters of disappointments and the melting of dreams; we have those chapters of struggle with addictions and wayward ways; we all have many chapters during which we simply moved along with the flow of life. The book is certainly unfinished for me.

And, frankly, in the deepest part of who I am, there is only one thing that I know is certain and true: I have a grateful heart right here and right now.

And what I am most grateful for at this time of thanksgiving is simply that awareness. Thank you, God.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all and I hope and pray that yours is a grateful heart, too.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Who's On Your Desk - Update

One of my colleagues suggested that I also include a photo of my Mom and Dad, which I framed just today here at the office. This photo is actually on my credenza; it was taken a few weeks ago in Venice.

In four short days, these two will celebrate 60 years of marriage!

Gotta sing. Gotta Pray.

Who's On Your Desk?

Friday greetings to all.

I have added another framed photo today to my desk top here at the office.

Who's on your desk?

Have a great weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Customer Care at WLP

Thursday greetings from Chicagoland.

One of the most gratifying things about working for J.S. Paluch and World Library Publications is when we hear from satisfied customers. We interact with the public hundreds and hundreds of times per day. Yesterday, one of our customers made it a point to call the supervisor of our Customer Care Team here at WLP. She did not need to do this, but did so because of her positive experience with one of our Customer Care representatives. I am deleting the names here, but just wanted to share with you what lifts my heart on a daily basis here in our work to serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church.

The customer left a voicemail message to the supervisor. Here is a transcript:

“Hello, N., my name is N., and I am calling from N. Church in Richmond, Virginia. And I am calling to compliment N., who assisted me with licensing inquiry and purchase and octavo purchases. And she was excellent in this day and age. Wonderful customer service and someone with patience and kindness is a wonderful thing. And I would like to compliment your company; and N., was a wonderful representative for World Library Publications. God bless you all in the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend and thank you again for such an excellent experience shopping with World Library Publications. And her name was N.. Thank you and God bless you.”
Have I told you recently how proud I am of the team here at World Library Publications?
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Shepherd

Wednesday greetings from the still-cold Midwest.

I was not able to physically attend nor virtually attend yesterday's installation of Archbishop Blase Cupich here in Chicago, so this morning I spent time reading his homily.

Here is a brief snippet, which I found to be consistent with my musings yesterday:

"The authenticity that comes in making our own baptismal calling the starting point for all we do is also demanded of me as your archbishop . . ."
It is all about baptism for Archbishop Cupich, who echoes the sentiments of Saint John XXIII, which I mentioned yesterday.
In preaching on the Gospel account of Jesus walking on the water, Archbishop Cupich conluded with these words, which brought me both a sense of comfort and a deep challenge:
"Finally, Jesus gets into the boat. I have always thought that it took more courage for Jesus to get into that boat with those disciples than for Peter to get out of it to walk on water. There was fear, doubt, jealousy even anger in that boat – a lot of unresolved conflicts as a therapist might say.

But, it is in the incomplete, the in-between and in the brokenness of our lives where Jesus comes to share his life in the Father with us. His coming to be with us, his communion with us is not for the perfect, but is for the salvation of souls, for the lost, the forlorn, and those who are adrift. His communion is not just a quick visit, but he wants to be with us to the point of making our lives the dwelling place, the home where he and the Father abide. After going to the mountain to pray, to be with his Father, he comes into our messy lives with his Father in hand, to share our lives where we are.

It is that grace of the indwelling of the Spirit, the love of the Father and the Son, which has always been the source of real, ongoing and sustainable conversion. It is the grace of mercy, totally undeserved and unearned, that brings about real lasting change and transformation and gives life."

Such a message of hope from my shepherd. Such words of challenge from my shepherd.

Just don't let the job diminish your zeal, my shepherd.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Celebrating Baptism on this Historic Day in Chicago

Tuesday greetings from Franklin Park, Illinois. This public transportation commuter is still trying to thaw out after the commute into work this morning.

Today, of course, is an important day in the history of the Archdiocese of Chicago as we welcome a new Archbishop, Blase Cupich.

When these large ecclesiastical events occur, I always remember what Saint John XXIII said when asked by a reporter something like, "What was the most important day of your life?" The reporter expected the answer, "The day I became pope." Instead, John XXIII answered, "The day I was baptized." So, today is a day to celebrate the baptism of Blase Cupich and to recall the day when each of us became adopted children of God in baptism.

Several weeks ago, while visiting Florence, Italy, I was once again in awe of the duomo in Florence.

The baptistery is undergoing major restoration. Here is a cool picture I took as I climbed the tower next to the cathedral. This is a shot looking down into the piazza and onto the enormous baptistery.

We spent lots of time inside the baptistery, where I once again gazed in amazement at the ceiling. Imagine being baptized in this space and then looking up to behold this image of the kingdom of heaven!

So, on this historic day here in the Archdiocese of Chicago, let's pray for all the baptized and, in a special way, for Archbishop Blase Cupich and the people of Chicago.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Music and Hospitality

Monday greetings from the frigid Midwest. Does anyone else think that this is way too cold way too early?

I went to Mass yesterday at a local parish. This is one of those places where I have been quite frustrated because the effort has not been made to let the assembly members know where to find the sung Mass parts.

I was delighted yesterday. Placed into the worship resource was a card that contained the music for the Gloria, Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen, and Lamb of God.

The Gloria was one that I believe was newly composed for the new translation. It was refrain-style; I liked the refrain and sang it; I prefer through-composed Glorias, but this one was fine.

The Sanctus was a re-worked setting. I have never been quite able to grasp the new rhythm for the first line, until yesterday, because I finally had the music in front of me.

I have not been able to sing the re-worked setting of the Memorial Acclamation for this particular Mass setting either; that is until yesterday.

The Great Amen was part of this set of eucharistic acclamations and had not changed.

The Lamb of God was familiar.

Musicians, please, please find a way to let visitors and your parishioners know where to find the music for the Mass. Provide a card. Just do something. With the holidays approaching, you will have many more visitors and "occasional Catholics" in your pews. This is ultimately an issue of Christian hospitality. When was the last time you went to a new restaurant and there was no menu provided?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

One In Faith Has Arrived!

Thursday greetings from the cold Midwest. Was greeted with light snow this morning; we are expecting accumulating snow on Saturday. That should be interesting, since I will be flying home from Dallas on Saturday.

These have been very exciting days here at World Library Publications and J.S. Paluch. Our new hardbound hymnal, One In Faith, and its accompaniments have arrived. Yesterday, we had a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving here in our warehouse, presided over by Fr. Jim Marchionda, OP. Some photos from the event:

Our proud owner, Mary Lou Paluch Rafferty.

The hymnals (without readings version), ready for shipment.

Allow me to take some time to talk about One In Faith, and to share more photos.

The hymnal comes in two versions, with and without Sunday readings:

We have two styles of keyboard accompaniments, portrait and landscape.

We made the decision to use seven-ring super-sturdy binders for the keyboard accompaniment editions.

The reason why? We heard from many musicians (some of whom are part of the aging population), saying that they sometimes find it difficult lugging around these heavy accompaniment volumes. So, we decided to publish in the seven-ring format so that the music chosen for a particular Mass could be removed and placed in a smaller service binder, which we have produced in both landscape and portrait versions, for those who wish to take advantage of this feature. In this way, the binder is attractive for worship and much lighter to handle. Here are those beautiful service binders:

The guitar accompaniment is in a spiral-bound version.

While the hymnals and the accompaniments contain indexes, we decided to publish a smaller, spiral-bound book of complete indexes for the hymnal. Very cool, indeed!

In the production stage now is the choral edition. We have commissioned composers working on the B-flat and C instrument books; we expect the entire line to be complete in about 18 months.

This has been a long process and tons of work for our teams here at World Library Publications. I can't begin to describe my own pride over this accomplishment of our fine employees here.

At a meeting on Tuesday, I became distracted and began to thumb through the pages of the hymnal. You know how sometimes one does that with a hymnal and one can discover page after page of unknown hymns and songs? Well, I was so happy that I was turning page after page after page of hymns and songs that I know and love. This is a hymnal that will serve the needs of parishes with a wide variety of musical styles in place.

Please take a closer look by walking through the index yourself. And if you have any comments or questions, please share them here or email me at

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

An Angel from Alabama

Tuesday greetings from Chicago, where the rain is falling and the temperatures are plummeting.

Another Italy story for you.

A week ago Sunday, through the kindness of Peter Bahou of Peter's Way Tours, my parents and I were able to see and hear the pope's Sunday Angelus from a rooftop garden across Saint Peter's Square. Absolutely beautiful day.

As soon as Pope Francis began to speak, I felt the tears come to my eyes. So many emotions as I recalled the joys I have experienced as a Roman Catholic as well as the pains that many, including me, have felt. But there was one sense that was overwhelming to me as Pope Francis spoke: hope.

After the exhilaration of hearing the pope, we made our way to Piazza Navona for lunch. To say that Rome was mobbed with Italians and tourists alike would be an understatement. It was a holiday weekend for Italians and it seemed every Italian citizen was in Rome that day, by the hundreds of thousands! We sat outside, next to a delightful couple from Alabama, Connie and Herb. Connie was what my mother would call "a hot ticket." She just simply sparkled! They asked us if we were Catholics and we told them about the Angelus and they told us that they had been to Mass and confession at Saint Peter's that morning. We took up Herb's suggestion and drank some fine Italian beer and then parted ways with handshakes, kisses, and hugs.

On Tuesday morning, through the kindness of a wonderful friend who works at the Vatican, my parents and I were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Our friend drove us around inside Vatican City, where we passed the Santa Marta residence, where Pope Francis lives. He then led us inside a side door and then we found ourselves in the sacristy of Saint Peter's Basilica. Our friend vested for Mass, then led us into the basilica. I could sense the fact that my parents were stunned as I heard then gasp as we turned the corner and there, before us, was the main altar. Father brought us to the altar of Saint Thomas. He summoned someone to bring two chairs over for my aging parents and he began to celebrate Mass for us. I was the lector and the day was November 4, the feast of Saint Charles Borromeo, the patron of our home parish in Woburn, Massachusetts. It was just one of those God-given moments when all time seemed to be suspended. In his homily, Father talked about my parents' marriage and what a sign it is for the Church.

I asked Father when it would be appropriate to take photographs and he told me we could pose for photos after Mass. So, there I stood, with my camera, taking photos of my parents with our dear friend. I began to lament the fact that no one was there to take a photo of all four of us when, out of nowhere, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I turned around and the woman simply said, "Jerry, I am here to take the photos of you and your parents, Henri and Yvette; now get up there." Since the basilica had not yet officially opened to the public for the day, Father asked the woman, "How did you get in here?" She replied, "Oh, never mind that, Father, I am here to take this photo of the four of you." Stunned, I walked up to the altar and stood proudly with my parents and our dear friend.

I came back down to retrieve my camera from Connie from Alabama, whom we had met among the hundreds of thousands in Rome two days before in Piazza Navona. Herb was sitting in a chair and simply smiled and waved. Connie gave me a huge hug and a kiss and just seemed to disappear. Thank you, Connie, our angel!

Two more photos. The first, of my parents at the main altar in Saint Peter's Basilica. The second, taken outside on that memorable day.

My heart is brimming with gratitude.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Saint John Lateran

Monday greetings from the "home office" here in Franklin Park, Illinois. Just about over the jet lag now and I find myself smiling a lot as I recall the memories of the past few weeks.

Today, I want to share some photos of one particular place. Last Sunday afternoon, I had some free time, so I took the Rome subway to the the Church of Saint John Lateran. It was wonderful to celebrate yesterday's feast of this church's dedication, having been there just a week before. As you know, this is the site of the first Church in the West and its baptistery is quite significant. It is the oldest batpistery in all of Christendom.

It was a glorious late afternoon in Rome. Here are a few photos of the exterior.

A late afternoon Mass was being celebrated inside, so I was able to take a few photos from the rear of the archbasilica.

Around the corner is the ancient baptistery. Too many people miss it. Here are some photos of the exterior.

The light was just beautiful inside the baptistery. Obviously there has been much added to this building over the centuries. It is breathtaking, especially when one considers its history.

I took a few photos looking up from the edge of the center section.

Along the exterior of the structure built above the font is an inscription. It goes all the way around, inscribed on all eight sides of the structure. You can see some of the inscription here, just below the burst of light:

Here is a translation of the inscription:

Here is born a people of noble race, destined for Heaven,
whom the Spirit brings forth in the waters he has made fruitful.
Mother Church conceives her offspring by the breath of God,
and bears them virginally in this water.
Hope for the Kingdom of Heaven, you who are reborn in this font.
Eternal life does not await those who are only born once.
This is the spring of life that waters the whole world,
Taking its origin from the Wounds of Christ.
Sinner, to be purified, go down into the holy water.
It receives the unregenerate and brings him forth a new man.
If you wish to be made innocent, be cleansed in this pool,
whether you are weighed down by original sin or your own.
There is no barrier between those who are reborn and made one
by the one font, the one Spirit, and the one faith.
Let neither the number nor the kind of their sins terrify anyone;
Once reborn in this water, they will be holy.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.