Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pueri Cantores, Lee Gwozdz, and Pope Francis!

Thursday greetings on this final day of 2015.

Just checked Facebook and found these two photos posted by Lee Gwozdz, who is the president of American Federation Pueri Cantores. Lee headed the delegation of a thousand singers from the United States to Rome for the international festival. This must have been the thrill of a lifetime for Lee and these young singers. Check this out!

My heart is filled with joy for these music makers.

And don't you just love the lanyard around the pope's neck. I wonder if the name tag says "Pope Francis" or "Papa Francesco?" As if he needed a name tag for people to check to see who he actually is! This is hilarious, but what a moment, don't you think?

Be sure to read Paul French's comment on the previous post.

On that very bright note, I want to wish you all a very happy New Year. As the page of the calendar turns, my heart is filled with a longing for a lasting peace, for an increased dedication to dialogue, and for an outpouring of God's mercy for you, me, and our weary world.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pueri Cantores in Rome

Tuesday greetings.

Thank you for your responses here, through email, and via the Gotta Sing Gotta Pray Facebook Page regarding my post yesterday. One of you thought I was the victim of a scam; most of you thought this was a moment where God's grace was at work.

Living in a large city with a substantial population that lives on the streets, I am always wary of those asking for a handout. Too many take the money and buy drugs or alcohol; it is always so difficult to discern, but the guy with the red gasoline can seemed pretty genuine to me. By the way, when we discovered that his car was no longer where he left it, he insisted on putting the gasoline we had purchased in that red can into my car's gas tank, which we did.

I was so pleased to see the announcement on the Vatican News Services web site this morning concerning the meeting of Pope Francis with the members of Pueri Cantores.

World Library Publications is proud to be in a collaborative relationship with the American Federation Pueri Cantores. We publish the music in our Pueri Cantores Choral Series. 

Let's pray for the thousands of young singers gathered in Rome this week, that they will be inspired by the music they sing and by the encouragement of Pope Francis.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Red Gasoline Can

Monday morning greetings to all during this festival of Christmas.

We are in the middle of a fierce ice storm here in Franklin Park, Illinois. Just took these two photos from my office window. This is not snow; this is accumulating ice. Ah, the Midwest!

I hope that you had a peaceful and wonderful Christmas. I left my home and walked to my parish, Old Saint Patrick's, at about 3:45, arriving at the church on Christmas Eve for the 5:00 Mass at a little after 4:00. I was standing in line, probably with 150 people lined up ahead of me, waiting for the four 3:00 Masses to conclude. Everything was orderly once those Masses concluded and some folks visiting me from Washington, DC and I got seats in about the eighth row.

I took this photo of my friend and her daughter as the portrayal of the nativity story by the parish's children was taking place. Kind of sums it all up for me:

I went downstairs at about 4:30 to find the men's room and noticed that the hall was filling up quickly for the second scheduled 5:00 Mass. People were just lined up outside and pouring into the hall. I later found out that the hall and church could not accommodate all those that had arrived, so a third 5:00 Mass was quickly arranged in another space. Thank the Lord there was an additional priest at hand.

It made me think of those places where priests are not readily available. I thought about our abundance at Old Saint Patrick's in so many ways, but also thought about the ways that this parish reaches out to those who have nothing.

I was at Mass yesterday with a friend and when we left the Church, we noticed a man in the street carrying a rather large red gasoline can. He was stopping people and my friend engaged in conversation with him. He said that his car had run out of gas on the expressway and that he needed to fill the can with gas so that he could get his car moving again. You know, when you live in a large city, you can become hardened to some of the folks who are looking for money seemingly on every corner. But this guy with the gas can seemed different. So we got him in the car, tried to get it warmed up for him quickly because he had obviously been out in the cold for some time. We drove him to a gas station and filled the can for him. For those of you familiar with Chicago, this is what happened to this guy. About three hours previously, his car ran out of gas on the Dan Ryan Expressway coming into the city. He pulled over onto the Roosevelt Road ramp and left his car there. He then somehow walked to Lake Street and Ogden Avenue in search of a car repair shop where he could borrow a gasoline can. This was a very long walk for this man. He then made his way downtown to try to get funds from people passing by so that he could fill the gasoline can. Another very long walk. This is where he met my friend and me.

Well, after we got the gas, we drove up onto the Dan Ryan Expressway and went to the exit beyond where his car was so that we could head in the right direction to find his car and put gas in it. Our hearts sank as he told us, "I left my car right there! I left my car right there! And now it's gone!" So we drove him to the car repair shop because he said he had promised the mechanic who let him borrow the can that he would personally return it into his hands once he had filled his gas tank. We arrived at the repair shop and the mechanic had stepped out for a little while. Our new friend refused to give the can to anyone else because he had promised to personally return it to the specific mechanic. We told him that we would take him to the train and pay for his way on so that he could get home and start the search for his car, which surely had been towed away.

He said, "No, you guys have done more than enough for me. I am so grateful." And then he went back into the auto repair shop to wait for the mechanic so that he could keep his promise to him.

Fr. Ed Foley's homily at Mass that day was all about how God becomes incarnate in our families; how God can break in and surprise us in our daily lives.

My heart broke for this poor guy with the gasoline can; I just hope that maybe he experienced the incarnation of God somehow in that encounter. I know I did.

Merry Christmas.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Christmas Goose

Tuesday greetings from the dreary Midwest.

I will be staying here in Chicago over the Christmas and New Year holidays, spending lots of time here at the office in between the days off.

I would like to re-post something that I have posted here over the years at this time, my "Christmas Goose" story.

It is even more poignant for me during this Jubilee of Mercy.

I hope you enjoy it.

The Christmas Goose

I served as director of liturgy and music at Saint Marcelline Parish in Schaumburg, Illinois from 1992 to 1999. A few days before Christmas, as I was walking to my car from the church, I heard a strange noise. It sounded like someone was coughing. I looked around and saw nothing but a group of pesky geese on the church grounds. A few hours later, walking back to the church, I heard the sound again. This time there was only one goose and as I drew closer, I could tell that the sound was coming from this goose. The goose was obviously in some kind of struggle. It was trying to flap its wings and it was emitting this kind of coughing sound. I found the maintenance man, Gil, and asked him to come with me to take a look. As we cautiously approached the struggling goose, we looked more carefully and saw that the poor creature had become entangled in fishing line. The line was wrapped around its wings, preventing it from flying. The line was also wrapped tightly around the bird's neck, which was probably the reason why it was emitting this coughing sound. Gil and I decided that we needed to do something for the poor goose. He phoned his daughter-in-law, a veterinarian, who gave us instructions on what we could do to save the poor bird.

We went into the maintenance room and found some wire clippers and a towel. Gil and I very quietly and slowly approached the goose—they are very large that close up!—and we placed the towel over the bird's head and then we began our work. Wearing gloves, we both began to examine the areas where the fishing line was wrapped around the goose's body. We carefully began to snip the line, pulling pieces of the line away from the bird, who remained quite docile the entire time. To be honest, my heart was racing at this point. When we finally clipped the line around the bird's neck, we knew we had removed all of the fishing line. We then removed the towel and walked very quickly away from the bird.

The goose just sat there looking at us. It began to cough again and after a few strange noises, it rediscovered its own honk. It just honked and honked away.

Then it began to test its wings, flapping around a bit on the ground. We stood there transfixed by all of this. Then, without a moment's hesitation, the bird began to flap its large wings and lifted itself in the air. Gil and I watched as the bird soared higher and higher and farther and farther away.

Once the goose was out of sight, Gil and I just looked at each other and I noticed a tear in his eye, blurred by the tears in my own eyes.

Those of you who regularly read this blog know that very few things in my life remain unexamined. I am always looking for some deeper meaning in events that occur. When I thought about this encounter with the goose, a comparison came to me instantly. What Gil and I managed to do with that coughing goose was akin to what God has done for us through the incarnation of Jesus, our Messiah. Caught up in sin, we are freed by the mercy of God, who loves us so much that he sent his only Son to be our redeemer. And what does this freedom from sin offer us? The potential to fly free, to soar as God's redeemed people, to be lifted up for a life of service to God's people.

May you and those you love have a very Merry Christmas.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Teresa of Calcutta: Sanctity Declared Even in the Absence of God

The news arrived today that Pope Francis has confirmed a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, paving the way for her canonization in 2016.

In a letter she wrote in 1961, she penned this:

"Darkness is such that I really do not see--neither with my mind nor with my reason--the place of God in my soul is blank--There is no God in me--when the pain of longing is so great--I just long & long for God . . . The torture and pain I can't explain."

I remember so well these words, and others that spoke of an emptiness, a darkness within her and how shocked many were that this living saint could have experienced such a prolonged "dark night of the soul." Yet, her closeness to Jesus led her to find Jesus in those to whom she ministered.

Canonization of such a person comes as a source of inspiration and solace for me, for I find myself sensing the total absence of God at times in my own life. I remember well a time in my life when my dreams were dashed and I felt so alone. I remember well another time when a loved one received a cancer diagnosis that was devastating, and I wondered where God was in all of it. I remember well a moment when I wondered if God had abandoned me in my own particular struggle at the time.

What brought me back each time was the inbreaking of Jesus Christ, sometimes in stunning ways, but usually in quiet ways; the kind of ways when the Lord creeps back in through another person or through a moment of experiencing sheer beauty.

I once sat with the Lord in the person of my sister, when she was in her final months of life fifteen years ago. I am so glad that I told her that I knew Christ more sitting with her than in any other setting in my whole life.

So, on a day when we hear about the upcoming canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, I am taking comfort in knowing that even for a person who found God absent during significant stretches of time in her life, the Church still declares sanctity in all of it.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Eve Masses

Thursday greetings.

A very dear friend, her husband, and two children will be spending Christmas with their extended family here in Chicago. He has been deployed overseas for several months and has recently returned home. Several months ago she asked me if their young family could attend Christmas Mass with me at my parish. I used to stay over at her family's home in Florida when I worked in their parish; they were a second family to me. So, I was thrilled that she, her husband, and two children would be coming to Mass with me at Old Saint Patrick's, my new parish home here in Chicago.

This morning I looked at the Christmas Eve Mass schedule. There are FOUR three o'clock Masses! And there is an alert on the page where the Mass schedule is found:

"Please note: As Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses tend to be fuller than usual, we ask that you arrive early. Please be understanding of spacial constraints, plan ahead, and arrive early. Thank you!"

I can't even begin to imagine what the parking situation will be like.

So, I've decided that we will go to the five o'clock Mass, probably walking to Mass from my home. There are only two of those.

I guess I have been away from a "popular" parish for so long that I forgot what Christmas Eve is like in these kinds of parishes. This is so different from my experience growing up, when we would all get up at 5:00 A.M., open our presents, then all head to our parish church for the 9:00 A.M. Mass and our annual visit to the outdoor nativity scene. So relaxed and unhurried. Seems like the Christmas Eve Mass phenomenon in Catholic parishes has morphed into mimicking the frenzy of the season leading up to it.

Still excited to be spending time with members of my second family!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Cherishing the Catholic Lineage

Tuesday greetings to all.

I don't know about you, but this time of year can make me wistful and nostalgic. A friend and colleague here at WLP researched my family lineage last year and what a gift that was for me.

I began to think today about all those Advents and Christmases that Galipeau's must have spent in France, in Canada, and in the United States over the years. My Galipeau line is traced back directly to Dissay, France, a small town near Poitiers. There is a plaque there that names my great grandfather, nine times over, Antoine Galipeau, who emigrated to "New France" from Dissay.

There are two parish churches in Dissay, St. Pierre, pictured here

and Saint Paul:

Just thinking today what it must have been like to walk to these churches in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to celebrate Christmas. I wonder what my forbears ate and what traditions and music they celebrated and sang.

Some day I hope to visit this place. Christmas has a way of moving our hearts and minds to times past. And I love it and cherish it.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sparking the Musical Fire

Monday greetings from the Midwest, where it is unseasonably warm.

When I was worship resources editor here at World Library Publications, I did a lot of writing. I wrote weekly scripture reflections that appeared in many of our worship resources. I edited and did lots of writing in Pastoral Patterns Magazine and had a regular column in AIM Magazine.

The only thing I am asked to write now on a regular basis is the material for the inside covers of our resources Seasonal Missalette, We Celebrate, Rejoice, and Celebremos/Let Us Celebrate; I really enjoy writing these "liturgical reflections on the season."

I want to share with you today the reflection I wrote this morning for many of our Autumn editions of these resources. So appreciative of all the work that you parish musicians do for those of us in the pews!

Liturgical Reflection on the Season

When I was in the fifth grade, after having taken piano lessons for two years, I was asked to play the grand pipe organ in my parish church for my Catholic school’s Thanksgiving Mass. It was an old pipe organ and it took quite a bit of pressure to press down on the keys to get the organ to play. The memory of the sound that filled that church and the voices of over five hundred children singing the hymn We Gather Together stays with me to this day. It was the first Mass at which I had ever been the minister of music.

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands:
                Break into song; sing praise.”

This is a verse from Psalm 98, which we sing on the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time this year. My life as a liturgical musician has been filled with glorious musical moments, like the one described above. It has also been filled with some less-than-glorious moments. The biggest source of woe for any church musician is a congregation whose musical sound is tepid at best. It has always struck me that 35,000 fans at a Chicago Cubs baseball game can lift their voices (and their cups of beer) and join in the singing of Take Me Out to the Ball Game, but those same folks won’t even open a hymnal or missalette at Mass on Sundays to sing hymns and songs that have the capacity to reach deeply into the hearts of believers. I remember a friend once asking me what my favorite musical instrument was. I responded, “Well, my favorite musical instrument is the singing assembly at Sunday Mass.”

It is good to remind ourselves that our parish musicians—pianists, organists, guitarists, cantors, psalmists, and instrumentalists—are not here to put on a show or delight us with their musical talents. They put their talents at the service of those of us in the pews. And the greatest way we can respond to their ministry is by raising our voices in song with those around us. I am a “pew Catholic” these days; I no longer am a minister of music at Mass. And I sing. It strikes me how many times children seated around me will simply stare at me as I sing at Mass. They look at me as if what I am doing is odd or out of place. Nine times out of ten, the parents of these children are not singing at all.
Music is an art form that can bring us to realms that the spoken word cannot. Many years ago, I played and sang a song at Sunday Mass whose theme was about not being afraid. After Mass, a woman approached me and told me that her husband had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that very week. She said, “I came to Mass today without my husband, who is hospitalized, for the first time in decades. And I just said to God, ‘I need to hear something from you today.’ And then, Jerry, you sang the words ‘do not be afraid.’ It was beautiful and it was God speaking to my heart. Thank you for your music.”

If you are someone who hesitates to sing at Mass, why not start singing today? It may surprise the people around you, maybe even members of your own family. Who knows? Maybe you will be the spark that gets the musical fire going! “Break into song; sing praise.”

Gotta sing. Gotta pray. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

This Angler's Bait: 1660 Years Later

Wednesday greetings on an unusually warm December morning here in Chicago.

For the past several days, I have been re-reading St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Lectures on the Christian Sacraments, which he wrote in the middle of the Fourth Century. Think about that. That's over 1660 years ago.

Surely, pastoral realities are much different today than they were then, right? In my conversations with RCIA ministers throughout the United States and Canada, I find some ministers frustrated with the reasons why many people come into the RCIA process. And studies bear this out as well. Many come because they are marrying a Catholic. I know some RCIA ministers who think that motivation is not a good one, since conversion doesn't seem to be at the core of the decision to follow Christ. My response has always been, "Grace builds on nature. Let God do God's work in that person's heart, despite what you think about their motivation."

In a catechetical session addressed to catechumens who were entering their final period of preparation for the sacraments, St. Cyril discusses the reasons why people came to the Church seeking the initiation sacraments. Remember, over 1660 years ago!

"Perhaps thou comest on another ground. A man may be wishing to pay court to a woman, and on that account come hither: and the same applies to women likewise: again, a slave often wishes to please his master, or one friend another. I avail myself of this angler's bait, and receive thee, as one who has come indeed with unsound purpose, but art saved by a good hope. Thou knowest not perchance whither thou wast coming, nor what net was taking thee. Thou art within the Church's nets, submit to be taken; flee not, for Jesus would secure thee, not to make thee die, but by death to make thee live. For thou must die and rise again; thou hast heard the Apostle saying, Dead indeed to sin, but alive unto righteousness. Die then to thy sins, and live to righteousness: yea, from this day forth, live."

Sure, a few things are different 1660 years later (e.g. the end of slavery). But it would seem that Cyril's words ring true today, don't you think?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Jubilee of Mercy Dawns: "It is he who seeks us!"

The Jubilee of Mercy has dawned.

Some images captured from the video feed.

Pope Francis:

"This Extraordinary Year is itself a gift of grace. To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. It is he who seeks us! It is he who comes to encounter us! This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God's mercy. How much wrong do we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy! But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event God's judgment will always be in the light of his mercy. In passing though the Holy Door, then, may we feel that we ourselves are part of this mystery of love, of tenderness. Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things."

When Pope Francis opened that Holy Door and crossed that threshold, he brought with him my own sinful heart, redeemed by God's infinite mercy.

Deo gratias! Thanks be to God!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Know Christ

Unusual second post of the day.

Know Christ.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

General Directory for Catechesis: Inspiration for the Jubilee of Mercy

Monday greetings from Chicago, which is wrapped in fog this morning.

From yesterday's First Reading from Baruch:

"Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery;
put on the splendor of glory from God forever . . .
. . . for God is leading Israel in joy
by the light of his glory,
with his mercy and justice for company."

On the eve of the Jubilee of Mercy, today is a day to announce that we've got company.

Mercy and justice are knocking at our doors.

Tomorrow, and over the next several days, doors will open all over the world, inviting believers and non-believers alike to pass through those doors and over those thresholds to join company with mercy and justice.

I have never, ever known a time in my life when mercy and justice were more keenly needed.

I have some concrete plans for the Jubilee of Mercy in my own life. If someone were to ask me what is  the most important thing to do during the Jubilee, my answer would be a simple one: know Christ.

I turned to the General Directory for Catechesis this morning for inspiration and, in paragraph 34, I found it.

"Jesus Christ was the first and supreme evangelizer. He proclaimed the Kingdom of God, as the urgent and definitive intervention of God in history, and defined this proclamation 'the gospel,' that is, the Good News. To this Gospel, Jesus devoted his entire earthly life: he made known the joy of belonging to the Kingdom, its demands, its magan carta, the mysteries which it embraces, the life of fraternal charity of those who enter it and its future fulfillment."

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Take the Time to Notice

It certainly has been a weary week for our weary world. Driving into work in my carpool this morning, one of my colleagues remarked about how all of these mass shootings just make him fearful for his three kids. Not having children myself, I can't imagine how parents must feel when random shootings occur. I would imagine, though, that parents are hugging their kids a lot tighter these days.

As I sat at my desk here a few minutes ago, I was struck by the sunlight piercing our morning fog here in Franklin Park, Illinois. I swiveled in my chair and noticed the way the sunlight was kissing my little Chicago Blackhawks shrine in my office; it was pretty stunning. And I thought, "Why not snap a photo?" Strange how one can find beauty in the oddest places. Just gotta look for it these days.

While we spend time mourning the loss of our brothers and sisters killed in California in the past few days and search for answers amid all this horror, we can't forget that beauty still peeks its head into our lives throughout the day. Take the time to notice.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Bloom Where You're Planted

On yesterday's blog post, I wrote this:

"I guess I have become accustomed to expecting bad news. I wake up each morning, check the news, wondering what latest atrocity has been committed by my human brothers and sisters upon one another."

Little did I know that just a few hours later, horror would again unfold, this time in San Bernardino, California.

News spread around our office as people accessed news sites as the information slowly began to be shared by the media.

What should our reaction be? One person's response was straightforward, something like, "I really can't do anything to address these atrocities in a specific way. All I can do is look at the world in which I live and be kinder and bring peace and work harder to do both."

This reminded me of an old Carey Landry song: Bloom Where You're Planted

Anyone else remember singing this in your younger years?

In the face of the turning of hearts to evil ways, why not take the time right now to turn our hearts to more peaceful and kinder ways, where we are planted?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mercy Here

Wednesday greetings on a cold and snowy morning here in the Midwest.

In an interview in the Italian magazine Credere, published today, Pope Francis talks about the soon-to-be-upon-us Jubilee Year of Mercy. Some excerpts.

"It is obvious that today's world is in need of mercy and compassion, or rather of the capacity for empathy. We are accustomed to bad news, cruel news and the worst atrocities that offend the name and the life of God. The world needs to discover that God is the Father, that there is mercy, that cruelty is not the way, that condemnation is not the way, because it is the Church herself who at times takes a hard line, and falls into the temptation to follow a hard line and to underline moral rules only; many people are excluded."

When I read these words, I felt as if the pope were speaking directly into my own heart. I guess I have become accustomed to expecting bad news. I wake up each morning, check the news, wondering what latest atrocity has been committed by my human brothers and sisters upon one another. Here in Chicago, the Tribune newspaper each morning lists those who were killed or wounded overnight. They choose that word "wounded" as if the paper were reporting on war casualties. And I think the word is appropriate because Chicago is a place where war is being raged on many levels. I hold such hope in my heart that this Archdiocese will take up the mantle of mercy and put God's mercy in dialogue with the atrocities that occur here each night.

Pope Francis goes on.

"The image of the Church as a field hospital after a battle comes to mind here; it is the truth, so many people are injured and destroyed! . . . I believe that this is the time for mercy. We are all sinners, all of us carry inner burdens. I felt that Jesus wanted to open the door to His heart, that the Father wants to show us his innate mercy, and for this reason he sends us the Spirit . . . It is the year of reconciliation. On the one hand we see the weapons trade . . . the murder of innocent people in the cruelest ways possible, the exploitation of people, of children. There is currently a form of sacrilege against humanity, because man is sacred, he is the image of the living God. And the Father says, 'stop and come to me.'"

In the past, when I would hear words like "the weapons trade," or "the murder of innocent people," I would think that these terms were being used to name situations and places in far-flung parts of the world, where cruelty has become institutionalized, often in the name of God. Yet, what I am slowly coming to realize is that Pope Francis is talking about what goes on in my own city every day.

The "weapons trade" to which he refers has lots to do with the easy accessibility of firearms here in the Midwest, not just some weapons trade going on in foreign countries. And "the murder of innocent people" happens here, too. Just recently, a child was murdered in by gang members in a Chicago alley, apparently as a retaliation against that child's father, who was a member of a rival gang. "The murder of innocent people."

Against the backdrop of all of this, we have the words of the Lord Jesus in the Gospel appointed for this Wednesday of the First Week of Advent:

"Jesus summoned his disciples and said, 'My heart is moved with pity for the crowd.'"

A Year of Mercy? Absolutely needed. In my heart and in yours. In my city and in yours. In my country and in yours. I am going to try to make a difference, the "mercy difference" as best I can. Thank God for Pope Francis.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Advent: Pray and Act

Tuesday greetings on this first day of December.

Lots of mixed emotions swirling around over the past several days. My last post "Disgusted in Chicago" touched on my deep feelings about the 13 month delay in releasing that horrible video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald. After a wonderful Thanksgiving on Thursday, Friday dawned and I decided I needed to do something more than sulk about what had occurred. So I joined about one thousand others and walked down Michigan Avenue in Chicago, a march for justice. It was a peaceful march in the cold rain. I wasn't there to block shoppers' entrances into stores; I just felt like I needed to do something. So I joined a diverse group of Chicagoans, among them Catholic priests and other clergymen and women and simply walked and joined in a call for justice.

Then, on Sunday at Mass came the final words of the First Reading: ". . . this is what they shall call her: The Lord our justice." The homilist asked us to pray for an end to violence and for justice in our world and particularly in our city. Then he said that it couldn't stop with prayer; we are called to act. So, in the middle of what was planned to be a relaxing holiday weekend with family and friends, I prayed and I acted for justice. Some have already told me that they thought the march on Friday was not a good thing because it caused some stores to lose some of their "black Friday" revenue and that the march accomplished nothing. The march itself lasted for a little under an hour and the media and Chicago Police Department made it clear that it would disrupt traffic. We had police presence and protection all the way along. I feel in my heart it was the right thing to do. I just couldn't sit at home on Friday.

So, Advent has dawned and I am looking for other ways to pray and act.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.