Thursday, July 30, 2015

Never Too Late, I Guess

Thursday greetings on this warm summer day in the Midwest.

Please pardon the fact that I haven't posted since my "WOWed" post on Monday.

So, when I went to Mass on Sunday at Old Saint Patrick's here in Chicago, I decided to more actively seek the presence of Christ at Mass.Gosh, this is something I have been "training the trainers" to do for many years; training those who train RCIA ministers how to allow the liturgy to catechize; how to instill in people a sense that the Lord is actively seeking them out when we gather for Sunday Mass; how to become people with "mystagogical minds and hearts," open to that presence.



And so, there I sat and knelt and stood and sang and prayed and listened. And "my friend," the Lord Jesus became most present to me in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the preaching of our pastor, Fr. Tom Hurley. I stood there during the Gospel of the feeding of the five thousand, grasping the fact that the Lord Jesus has multiplied what little I feel I have in this life five thousand-fold. Even tired from all his preaching and teaching and healing, "my friend" had the time to continue to teach through his actions. He taught his disciples (and me) that even when we are tired from it all, we are still given all we need to continue to make a difference in our little worlds. At the conclusion of the homily the cantor very serenely sang a few verses of Liam Lawton's The Cloud's Veil. The words that kept resounding in my mind and heart were "You are by my side, You are by my side."

Frankly, as the week has unfolded, I find that presence waning as the pressures of my job and life come crashing in at times. And that's when I realized again how much I need Sunday Mass, how much I need that community of believers to help me to actively seek out and find "my friend" again and nurture that ongoing relationship.

At 57, I am just discovering this? What the heck is going on? I guess it's just never too late.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, July 27, 2015

WOWed at Mass

Greetings on this Monday summer morning.

I had a huge "wow" at Sunday Mass yesterday at Old Saint Patrick's here in Chicago.

Those who follow this blog know of my recent struggles to articulate who the Lord Jesus is in my own life and what that relationship is like right now. My ancillary struggle has to do with how to train catechists and those in initiation ministry in naming this relationship in their own lives and how to help others do the same.

Well, yesterday at Mass, I made the conscious decision to open my eyes, my ears, and my heart as widely as possible. My questions: Who is Jesus Christ in all of this? What kind of portrait of the Lord Jesus is painted by the texts prayed by the celebrant; in the sacred scriptures proclaimed; in the preaching; in the texts and textures of the music sung; on the faces of those in liturgical leadership and those around me; in the sacramental and ritual actions?

Like I said, WOW! My friend became more and more real to me yesterday. This Jesus Christ, the miracle multiplier, gave me more fish and bread than I could possibly consume yesterday. 

It's a Monday here with lots of tasks, so I will save some of my discoveries for posts in the next few days.

" . . . like those come before us, we listen and learn. We remember the promise and await your return. So without hesitation a new generation proclaims the salvation of God!"

These were the words of our opening song yesterday, Gathered As One. These words opened my heart and mind; all hesitation was gone. And what happened next surprised me and brought me to tears. 

More later.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Grateful for a Special "Thank You" to WLP

Friday greetings on another beautifully sunny and warm day here in Chicago.

My heart was lifted this morning when the participants at this year's Liturgical Music Institute on Long Island sent us at WLP a simple message of gratitude.


You can find it on Gotta Sing Gotta Pray's Facebook page. While there, please "like" the page.

This has been quite a week for me, spiritually. As I gear up for an RCIA presentation a week from tomorrow for the great folks in the Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana, I am praying that I will be able to help them not only find ways to move their RCIA processes away from a strict teaching model, but also to help them grasp onto the fact that what the Church is asking them to do is help people meet Jesus Christ. Frankly, my experience of this tells me that this is a very tall order; it is so much easier just to teach the tenets of the faith than it is to talk about what that faith means, what that relationship with Christ means in our day-to-day lives. Maybe I am discovering a renewed mission in my own life. But, in order to do that, I have to be more and more aware of and be able to articulate my relationship with Christ as well; also a very tall order!

I hope your weekend is a grand one.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.




Thursday, July 23, 2015

Friend

Greetings on this beautifully sunny and warm Thursday in the Midwest.

I've been thinking more and more about what I wrote yesterday. The "Cone of Silence" is something we used to watch on the old Get Smart TV shows.



I remember as a kid always laughing when the "Cone of Silence" was summoned for use. It was supposed to guard against anyone outside the cone from hearing the top secret conversations occurring within. But it just never worked. Agent 86 and the chief simply couldn't hear one another when the cone came down on top of them.

I bring up this iconic television image because I think it has something to do with the way many Catholics have imposed their own "cones of silence" on their spiritual life. And I would often count myself among those Catholics. Too often we will do everything we can to talk about our religion, or talk about the issues in which the Church engages, or talk about the ways that our parishes manage to or don't manage to live up to our expectations. Frankly, I think these are the easy things to talk about. And we can hide behind them. What we need to be talking about is our own personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. And that is something that makes us just a little frightened and we call down the "cone of spiritual silence." Once we cross the line from talking about religion to talking about who Jesus Christ is in my own life and in the life of my relationships and family, somehow we hesitate. Why?

I wonder if it is because we simply do not have a strongly cultivated relationship with Christ; that maybe we have been hiding behind our texts and strongly held religious convictions for so long that we have lost the core meaning of what this is all about in the first place.

In order for RCIA ministers, and others in catechesis, to help seekers and seasoned Catholics come out from behind the great "Cone of Silence," what needs to be done? How does one help Catholic catechists first name their own relationship with the Lord and then help them remove the cone and freely share that with others.

For me, I have a very vivid memory of the very first time the Lord Jesus actually became real for me. I had spent eight years preparing for the diocesan priesthood in Boston, from the age of eighteen to twenty-six, a big chunk of my life back then. Then, shortly before ordination to the diaconate, my dream was thwarted. No need to go into the details here. The fact was that I was despondent, lost, and searching for what God had in mind for me.

For years, morning after morning, day after day, and evening after evening, I had sat, stood, and knelt in prayer at our seminary chapels. I returned at that time to the college seminary chapel and just sat there and looked up at the crucifix I had seen for so many years. And, quite suddenly, the paschal mystery burst into my heart and, for the first time, I was introduced, really introduced, to Jesus Christ. He, who hung on the cross and rose from the dead, was my Lord and Savior. And on that day, I had the strongest sense--which has never left me--that the Lord Jesus was my friend who would always walk with me through doubt and sin, through times of being lost and frightened, and through whatever the Father had in store for me.

Faith was awakened in me that day, as it never had. And I am now actually grateful for that particularly scary and bleak time in my own life; it was a gift that brought me to Jesus Christ.

How do we, as leaders, help those entrusted with the ministry of Christian formation, first recognize their relationship with Christ, then help them lift the cone of spiritual silence and articulate that clearly with those who are seeking such a relationship?

That's where I am today.

Jesus Christ as "friend." What is your description of Christ in your own relationship with him?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Finding the Lord Jesus

Wednesday greetings.

Permit me to take a plunge into some personal sharing here for a moment.

I had an extended conversation with a loved one last night, one who as been living with cancer for over six years. She is one of the great heroes in my life. I am grateful to those in the medical field who have cared for her and helped her manage her pain. She lives with lots of pain these days, but her spirit is stunningly bright, warm, and filled with humor.

I share this because I have been struggling lately about the difficulties I have with expressing what my own personal relationship with Jesus Christ is all about. In preparation for a talk I am giving in a few weeks, I have been reading Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddell. This book has given me loads of food for thought. Weddell talks about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" mentality that she and her colleagues have discovered while working with tens of thousands of Roman Catholics. Generally speaking, Catholics just don't talk about their relationship with God; they hesitate to talk about the journey of this relationship. This really hit home for me.

In my own presentations to those in initiation ministry, I often tell them that far too often catechists in the RCIA hide behind their notes, their handouts, their Powerpoint presentations, etc. What I mean by this is that, while teaching is certainly an important component in Christian formation, what seekers are really looking for and what we are charged to provide is a place and space where they can find the Lord Jesus and develop a living relationship with him. No amount of lecturing or handouts or Powerpoints is going to provide that. What provides that is living witness; is another person revealing who the Lord Jesus is in their own life.

I have been saying this for years. Last year, while saying these words, I noticed that my Powerpoint slides looked great and that people were following along on my beautiful handouts. It hit me then and there; I was doing pretty much what I was telling them to avoid. So I stopped my presentation and grabbed a chair and took a very deep breath and I waited. They all looked at me, probably wondering if I had taken ill.

I looked at them, and with tears in my eyes and with a hesitant voice, I said that I wanted to no longer hide behind my presentation about faith formation; I wanted to tell them about my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Only the words didn't come easily. I think, now having read Forming Intentional Disciples, that I have been caught up in the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" movement as well.

This has all been quite a turning point in my own life and I am struggling mightily with this.

And I know that I have landed somewhere in all of this, and that came up quite strongly last night as I spoke with my loved one.

You see, about fourteen years ago, as I sat at the bedside of my youngest sister, who would die just a few short months after that visit, I met the Lord Jesus in a way that was so, so strong to me. I found him in my sister. And I told her that, "Joanne, I know this seems weird, but I feel closer to Jesus when I am with you, when you are so sick, than I do or ever have felt in any other time of my life." Not being being people who talked about these things (Don't ask, Don't Tell), I thought she might bristle at my remark. But she just looked at me and smiled. And I found him right there.



Jesus Christ is most present to me in the suffering and I knew that presence again last night. I know that there is all kinds of theologizing that we could do in the examination of this blog post. And I am always tempted to do that. But I don't want to right now. I am just glad that I was able to share this with you.

Do you know the Lord Jesus? Are you able to talk about that relationship?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bishop-elect Robert Barron

Just read that Fr Robert Barron, currently rector of Mundelein Seminary here in Chicago has been named as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, July 20, 2015

WLP's Sing the Seasons!

Monday greetings on this beautiful summer day here in the Midwest.

As the latter portion of summer approaches, I wanted to alert you to events coming up in the next few months that are sponsored by World Library Publications.


Our annual Sing the Seasons Choral Reading Sessions are scheduled to take place across the country in the next several months. They all begin with me presenting one for the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana on Friday evening, July 31. I gotta tell you; these sessions are not only excellent opportunities for parish musicians to discover new choral and assembly music, they are, in a word, FUN!

We hold a raffle-prize drawing at each event. You know, we do loads of work here at WLP once a particular piece of music is accepted for publication. Our music editors collaborate closely with the composer to work on editorial suggestions. Since these editors are all part of pastoral music ministries in parishes here in the Chicago area, they know what "works" and what can "work better" for parish assemblies and choirs. We are proud of the evolution of WLP's contribution to the world of choral music for Catholic (and non-Catholic) parishes throughout the world.

This year, we created a new web site just for the Sing the Seasons events. SingtheSeasons.com is the place to discover where these events are happening, as well as the place to register up to three musicians from your parish. This year, we will be holding these events in Lafayette, IN, Chicago (north and west), Milwaukee, San Antonio, Phoenix, Boston, Charlotte, Denver/Colorado Springs, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Saint Paul, New Orleans, Saint Louis, and New York.

Please consider attending or, if you are not a musician, urge your musician friends to visit the web site and sign up!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Prayers for Musicians in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC

Well, folks, this has been a great week back at the office; here without travel for nearly three weeks and I am loving it.

We are gearing up for the Jubilee Year of Mercy here and have some wonderful resources that we will be publishing for your folks in the pews, as well as for the parish "gatekeepers" and those responsible for parish communications (web sites, bulletins, newsletters, email blasts, etc.) More to come as we draw closer to Autumn.

Last week, at the Notre Dame Folk Choir event at the NPM convention in Grand Rapids, I provided the narration and added a little "ad lib" myself. I was aware that many of the people in the cathedral were musicians who would be responsible for providing musical leadership for the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the United States. I remember well the planning and organization that went into the first visit of Saint John Paul II in October of 1979 (before some of you were born!). I was one of the organists for the first Mass he celebrated in the United States, on Boston Common on October 1 of that year.




Months and months of planning and rehearsals went into that one event, So, at the concert in Grand Rapids, I asked those in attendance to pray for our musician friends and colleagues who will be responsible for the upcoming papal visit. I ask humbly that you join me in prayerful support of those who will work so hard over the next few months to prepare those papal Masses in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC.

I hope that your weekend is a good one. It's going to be a hot and humid one here in Chicago!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What Really Matters

Thursday greetings on an overcast day here in the Midwest.

Did you know that Gotta Sing Gotta Pray has its own Facebook page? Check it out. And please "like" it if you have not already!

Often people choose to comment on that page instead of the comments box here on the blog page.

Yesterday, one of my colleagues, Jennifer Odegard, posted this response to yesterday's blog post.

"Thanks for this, Jerry. Today I noticed the picture-perfect weather, the joy of my youngest dog chasing bubbles in my yard, the gracious manners of a differently-abled young man who was in my house as a guest with his mom and another friend last night, the way my never-clean-enough-for-me-under-construction home was able to comfortably shelter dear friends, and the sweet breath of a 10 week old puppy who traveled over an ocean to be with her new family. Life is hard sometimes, but the beauty wins if we are smart enough to get out of our own way and notice it."

Thanks, Jen, for this reminder.

This morning, after my usual spin class and routine at the gym, I decided to stop on my way to the office to get a cup of coffee at Starbucks. When I went to pay for the coffee (I drink Grande Dark Roast, btw), I noticed the Starbucks gift card in my wallet and I remembered suddenly where it came from.

A few weeks ago, on an early Sunday morning, I got a frantic text message from the music director at my new parish, Old Saint Patrick's. The message said that she had an emergency with the family dog and was at the vet's office, unable to get to the church to play for the 9:30 A.M. Mass. It was 8:30 when I received the message. She was asking me to play the Mass for her. She immediately sent the music list; I was unfamiliar with three of the pieces, so there was a little bit of panic as I agreed to play the Mass.

It all went so well, largely due to the coolheadedness of the musicians who minister there regularly. Frankly, I had a great time and was amazed, sitting "up front" for the first time, at how strong the assembly singing is in the parish. Loved every minute of it.

When I returned from the NPM convention last Friday, I saw a piece of mail from Old Saint Patrick's. I thought it was the stewardship envelopes I was waiting for. I opened the envelope and found a very nice thank you card, with expressions of gratitude written by my friend the music director, as well as the woman who led the choir the morning I filled in. There was a check in the card, which was a very kind, but un-needed gesture. And then there was one other thing in the card:


When I found it again in my wallet this morning, I found myself so grateful for these folks who had gone the extra mile in thanking me.

One other colleague here at the office also posted something on Facebook earlier this week, which really took my breath away. Here you go:

"Social experiment: I am second in line at the grocery store. I have five items and place my items on the belt. I place a divider in front of my items to separate them from the customer in front of me. The woman behind me has a carton of half and half. She proceeds to tell me to use a divider for my items in order to separate them from her ONE item. I then tell her to help herself to a divider to do the same (in so many words) when she suddenly gets irritated and starts to complain. I do it anyway and all I could do was laugh while she kept making faces that even the woman in front of me and the cashier couldn't believe why this woman was being so petty. It was my turn to pay for my items and I then decide to "pay it forward" and tell the cashier to include the charge for the woman's half and half. The woman was so perplexed and starts to ask why I did it. I said, "have a nice day" and the woman in front of me tells her to just be grateful and say thank you. In the end, I was perplexed but also hopeful that I turned this incident into a lesson for the woman who obviously was bothered by something so petty."

I work with some amazing people. I am blessed to have experienced the kindnesses and the experiences of these women. I hope some of their kindnesses and their approaches to life reach more deeply into my own heart.

How are you doing with noticing the joy of the Gospel?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.





Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Grateful for Noticing

Wednesday greetings on a beautiful, cool summer morning here in Chicago.

As I was listening to the radio driving to work this morning, I noticed all the bad news that was being reported. In case you haven't been following what has been occurring in the city of Chicago, in the county of Cook, in the state of Illinois, our city, county, and state are in an alarming state of financial mess right now. A one percent county-wide sales tax, repealed a few years ago, is about to be re-instated. The pension funding issues seem insurmountable across city, county, and state governments. We already pay one of the highest sales taxes in the United States, currently 9.25%. With the impending increase, that will bring it to 10.25%. Frankly, this is an outrage to those of us in the middle class who pay our very high sales and property taxes faithfully. I sometimes fall into a sense of despair and helplessness about these very real issues in my own day-to-day life but, more importantly, in the lives of our team members here at World Library Publications.  I try to do my best to ensure that the salaries and benefits our team members earn are fair and just but sometimes, especially in the face of these rising costs imposed on tax-paying citizens like us, it can get a bit overwhelming.

For me, I have been trying to look for a faith-based solution in my own personal life. A priest I met on the road a few weeks ago talked about Evangelii Gaudium. At a gathering of parishioners, he asked them to share their answers with one another to this simple question: "How do you experience the joy of the Gospel?" For the most part, the question was met with silence or very shallow answers at best.

One of the ways that I look for that joy is in the created order around me. I know this will all sound pie-in-the-sky to some of you and somewhat of a stretch, but I find that I need to have my eyes and ears and heart wide open to the small things about our lives and our world, even our commutes, to see the joy that comes from simply noticing the created order around us.

A few cases in point.

Two days ago, while driving my carpool colleagues home after a long day here at the office, I was stopped at a traffic light and noticed a red car in the lane next to me. This brought me to laughter. Notice the "lashes."


I decided I needed to do more than laugh, so I opened my car window and waved to the driver, trying to get her attention. When she noticed me waving, I yelled out. "That's wonderful. So cool! Thank you!" She smiled and we both laughed as the light turned green. The joy of the Gospel? Maybe.

Later that evening, a series of thunderstorms moved through, just south of where I live in downtown Chicago. I sat out on my balcony, transfixed by the sunset and the storms that followed.


This lifted my heart so much, especially in light of so much bad news about my city, county, and state.

Then, last night, after a twenty degree drop in temperatures here in Chicago, I found myself working busily at my dining room table. I happened to glance out on the balcony and caught the last rays of sunshine dancing on the flowers in my flower boxes. I walked out and snapped this photo.


Experiences like these simple three moments help contextualize things for me. Even when so much seems wrong with the world (my city, my county, my state), there is so much that can bring us joy, if only our eyes, ears, and hearts are open. And this all says to me that God has graced me with such an abundance of small joys. And I know there are many throughout the world (and perhaps the universe), who find it hard to find any joy at all.

I am reminded of a trip I took when I was in the seminary back in the early 1980's. It was a Third World immersion trip to Peru. As part of that journey, we traveled to the city of Chimbote, a city surrounded by fish processing plants. The air was constantly permeated by the worst odor I have ever experienced. It was gut-wrenching for days on end. And I remember being in a crowded bus going through the town and I looked out and saw a group of children playing outside a Catholic school. They were in bright blue uniforms and, as our bus drove by, they looked up at us in the bus and they waved so enthusiastically. Their smiles were some of the brightest and happiest I have ever seen. With the stench of the fish-processing plants nearly choking me and in the midst of my constant complaining about that stench, here I saw joy in its purest form. These children lived in one of the poorest places in the country and had to endure the smell every minute of their lives. But the joy that radiated from them taught me so much about my own privileged life. I was embarrassed, humbled, and grateful for one of my life's deepest "teachable moments."

I know that I still have far to go on my own journey of faith. I wonder where God is calling me to discover the joy of the Gospel even more. And more deeply. Grateful today for the gift of noticing. Noticing the small things.

This all reminds me of a piece of music, Wide Open, which we publish here at WLP.

Take a listen.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Reflections on the NPM Convention in Grand Rapids

Tuesday greetings from the beautifully sunny and warm Midwest.

These past few weeks have been filled with so much joy and memory-making in my own life.

The Fourth of July this year marked my mother's 80th birthday. Our family and extended family of friends gathered in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, for a three-day "Festival of Yvette." It was a wonderful celebration for my mom and my presence there was a surprise for her. Spending time with family always makes me miss being closer to them, but I was so grateful to be there for the celebration.

On Sunday morning of that weekend, before I left the coast of Maine, I purchased two lobsters and had them steamed and packed; I had promised two of my WLP colleagues, Mary Beth Kunde-Anderson and Keith Kalemba, that I would provide a picnic dinner for them on Sunday night as we traveled to the NPM convention on Amtrak from Union Station here in Chicago. I had very little time once my plane from Portland, Maine landed at O'Hare mid-afternoon on Sunday. But I got all the ingredients together and was able to serve a nice white wine with some crackers as an appetizer. Then came the "Maine" course;" a picnic of lobster rolls, fruit, vegetables, and Cape Cod potato chips. Lots of fun on our four-hour journey to Grand Rapids.



There is so much to say about the NPM convention. First of all, I wish that many more people had attended; attendance has been waning in the last few years. Lots of reasons have been posited for this reality and, of course, we are all hoping for greater numbers in Houston next summer. That being said, I do believe that we at WLP provided some great learning, praying, and singing opportunities for those gathered in Grand Rapids. I have already spoken about the marvelous evening with the Notre Dame Folk Choir at Saint Andrew's Cathedral in a previous post. A few more photos of that wonderful event.





This year in our exhibit space, we had live acoustic music, drawn from our various instrumental collections. It was a delight to hear our music come alive.

Our music showcase was on Thursday afternoon, late into the convention. The folks in the room were obviously growing weary from the various activities that had filled their week, but they were engaged and sang our pieces so well. Here's a photo of WLP's Worship Resources Editor, Mary Kiefer, and me on the stage just before the showcase (we were part of the WLP choir for the event.)



You can see that Mary and I are wearing our WLP "One in Faith" shirts; it was at NPM that our new hardbound hymnal One in Faith was officially launched. It was so satisfying to look out and see over a thousand musicians singing joyfully from the hymnal that was five exciting years in the making!

And here is most of our WLP staff during our booth tear down in the early evening of Thursday.


It made me so happy and proud to see all of our team members, brand new and "seasoned" being so helpful to those who serve the Church in liturgical and musical ministries.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Pope Francis and the Hospitalized Children

The first day back after an extended time away is always pretty hectic here at WLP, so I will delay more musings about last week's NPM convention until tomorrow. For now, in case you haven't read them, here are the remarks of Pope Francis to the hospitalized children and their families at Ninos de Acosta Nu Hospital in Paraguay yesterday. I feel so close to the Lord when I see things like this. God bless Pope Francis!

“Dear children, I want to ask you a question; maybe you can help me. They tell me that you are all very intelligent, and so I want to ask you: Did Jesus ever get annoyed? … Do you remember when?

If this seems like a difficult question, let me help you. It was when they wouldn’t let the children come to Him. That is the only time in the entire Gospel of Mark when we hear that He was 'annoyed'. We would say that He was really 'ticked off'.

Do you get annoyed every now and then? Jesus felt that way when they wouldn’t let the children come to Him. He was really mad. He loved children. Not that He didn’t like adults, but He was really happy to be with children. He enjoyed their company, He enjoyed being friends with them. But not only. He didn’t just want to have them around, he wanted something else: he wanted them to be an example. He told his disciples that 'unless you become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven'.

The children kept coming to Jesus, and the adults kept trying to keep them away, but Jesus called them, embraced them and brought them forward, so that people us could learn to be like them. Today, he wants to tell us the same thing. He looks at us and he says: 'Learn from the children'.

We need to learn from you. We need to learn from your trust, your joy, and your tenderness. We need to learn from your ability to fight, from your strength, from your remarkable endurance. Some of you are fighters. And when we look at young 'warriors' like you, we feel very proud. Isn’t that right, moms? Isn’t that right, dads and grandparents? Looking at you gives us strength, it gives us the courage to trust, to keep moving forward.

Dear mothers, fathers, grandparents: I know that it is not easy to be here. There are moments of great suffering and uncertainty. There are times of heart-rending anguish but also moments of immense happiness. These two feelings often collide deep within us. However, there is no better relief than your tender compassion, your closeness to one another. It makes me happy to know that as families you help, encourage and support each other, so that you can keep going in these difficult moments.

You count on the support of the doctors, nurses and the entire staff of this home. I thank them for their vocation of service, for helping not only to care for, but also to be there, for these young brothers and sisters of ours who suffer.

Let us never forget that Jesus is close to his children. He is very near, in our hearts. Never hesitate to pray to Him, to talk to Him, to share with him your questions and your pain. He is always with us, He is ever near and he will not let us fall.

There is another thing we can be sure of, and I would say it once again. Wherever there is a son or daughter, there is always a mother. Wherever Jesus is, there is Mary, the Virgin of Caacupe. Let us ask her to wrap us in her mantle, to protect and intercede for you and for your families.

And also, please don’t forget to pray for me. I am certain that your prayers are heard in heaven”.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

NPM: Raising a Glorious Sound to Our God

Thursday morning greetings from Grand Rapids, Michigan and day four of the NPM convention. As usual, it has been quite a whirlwind of activity for all of us from WLP who are here to serve the clergy and musicians who have gathered.

On Tuesday morning, I was privileged to be a part of a panel discussion among music publishers that was live-streamed by the good folks at Pray Tell; the discussion was moderated by friend and colleague Fr. Anthony Ruff. You can find it here.

On Tuesday evening, WLP sponsored the Notre Dame Folks Choir, under the direction of Steve Warner and the sparkling accompaniment work of Karen Kirner. The event was held at the beautiful and resonant cathedral of Saint Andrew here in Grand Rapids. It was, in a word, thrilling. The folk choir itself sang with such energy and beauty. For most pieces, the assembly of nearly a thousand musicians joined in and a great and joyful noise was raised to our God. Just glorious!





WLP is in a new collaboration with Children's Choir Clinician Christine Jordanoff. Here she is at work with those gathered to learn from her.


Her new book and DVD with us is When We Sing:Simple Techniques for Conducting Children's Choirs.


One of the great benefits of attending an NPM convention is the opportunity to make music with so many other musicians. This afternoon at 2:00, WLP will present our choral music showcase. I am so looking forward to sharing our music with those gathered here.

Tomorrow morning, it's a very early train back to Chicago,so this will be my last post until early next week. I will definitely be sharing more of the experience with you.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Greetings from NPM

 Tuesday morning greetings from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The NPM convention began yesterday. We have a flute and piano soloist happening right now in our booth and it's quite lovely. Lots to do today. Hopefully I will be able to post later on.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Readying for NPM in Michigan

Wednesday greetings from the unseasonably cool Midwest.

And a very Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends. All of my family roots are in French Canada, so I feel a special affinity with my friends to the north today.


To say that we are busy here at WLP would be an understatement. Next week is the annual convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, taking place in beautiful Grand Rapids, Michigan. For the first time, WLP's booth in the exhibit hall will feature live music, highlighting the instrumental music we have published in the past few years.

We had our annual NPM WLP kick-off luncheon today and it featured Vernor's Ginger Ale, a Michigan favorite! We also had delicious cherries, also grown in Michigan.




I volunteered for three twenty-minute time slots and will be playing from three collections, pictured here:


I don't play regularly in a parish any more, so I have been practicing away. Noel and Offertoire are both by the composer Cesar Franck, arranged for C instrument and keyboard by Dr. William Torolano. Psalms without Words, Volume Two, was composed for piano by Edward Eicker. I am greatly looking forward to playing these in our booth next week.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.