Tuesday, October 10, 2017

It's Like........



Have you ever used this phrase when struggling to explain something? Have you ever caught yourself, or someone else inserting this phrase into every sentence? Doesn’t it get.....like.....annoying?

In today’s gospel Jesus uses this term in a very different way: with ultimate clarity. The kingdom is like (or rather) “.....may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” Matt. 22:2

The prophet Isaiah describes a mountain-top feast with similar clarity. On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich foods and choice wines, juicy rich foods and pure choice wines. Is. 25:6

Psalm 23 gives us more images: green pastures, still waters, a table set. The verse we repeat connects us to the theme of all three readings - a vision of salvation.  I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.  Ps 23:6b

We Come to Your Feast reminds us that in the Eucharist we share in God’s kingdom here and now. “By the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life when God will be all in all” (Catechism of the Catholic Church). Perhaps some of you will remember it from the liturgies in which we celebrated the first Holy Communion of our children.

The Lord is My Shepherd is a contemporary version of psalm 23 by Josh Blakesley.  The repetitive refrain is mantra-like and an excellent setting for the Communion procession.

Peace,

Bruce

PS
Our adult choir and children’s choir are seeking new members. Rehearsals take place on Sunday mornings. For more info go to



Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Shelter in the Time of Storm

Liturgical Notes

I arrived at the decision to not submit this weekly article last Monday as I enjoyed the last day of a family golf weekend.  My e-mail to Andrew, our editor playfully announced; “I would be taking a Mulligan.”  The deadline came and went as details on the tragic shootings in Las Vegas came to light.   

The next morning I revisited my original selections for this weekend’s music. My original choice for entrance hymn needed to be changed.  Beginning liturgy with a rousing and joyful setting of psalm 118 (This is the Day #568) seemed inappropriate.

My revised choice is the spiritual found on the other side of this page; “A Shelter in the Time of Storm.” The original text by Vernon Charlesworth contains familiar images that can be found throughout scripture.  They depict God as constant, present and strong or to use a contemporary term; rock-solid.  The verse comes from Isaiah 25:4 reminding us that God watches over us and “is a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat”.   The writer of the original hymn-tune, Ira Shankey was inspired by the singing of the fisherman off the north coast of England as they returned to the safety of the harbor chased by storm clouds.  

The version that we will sing is an adaptation by Rev. Jan Michael Joncas.  Fr. Joncas was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Paul - Minneapolis, MN in 1980.   He is an Associate Professor at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN teaching in both the Department of Catholic Studies and the Department of Theology.   He also teaches in the Liturgical Studies faculty of the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN.  You will probably recognize some of his other compositions which include:  We Come to Your Feast, I have Loved You and On Eagles Wings.

I’ve spent the week playing and praying this hymn in order to prepare it for liturgy.  I’ve also thought about how I might explain my rationale for its use as gathering/processional hymn.

The first question is; “Why make a change based on an event?”  The answer is contained in the timeliness and timelessness of liturgy.   We come to liturgy at a particular moment in human history as well as our own our life’s journey.  We simultaneously step out of time to connect with a God who is unbound by time.  … But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.” 2 Peter 3:8

The second question is; “Why this song?”  For me the answer lies in a faith that God is and continues to be with us in times of joy and sadness, triumph and tragedy, gentle breeze and raging storm.  Fr. Joncas was kind enough to share his answer when I contacted him via Facebook. 

It (the song) arose out of my (personal) struggle with Guillain-Barre syndrome back in2003-2004.  It’s in a black spiritual style since I find the spirituals tradition to be both particularly American and profoundly prayerful.

With prayers for those affected by shooting in Las Vegas particularly the 58 who died and those who mourn them,


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Did you get your $1 cup of Dunkin on Monday?

Did you get your $1 Coffee last Monday?

Those of you that “Run on Dunkin” will understand this week’s headline.  It refers to a promotion offering a $1 cup of coffee on the day following a New York football team win. 

Those of you who are fans of the NY football teams might be lamenting the abysmal start of the Jets and Giants (1-5).

So let’s focus on some teams with winning records and how you can get a FREE CUP OF COFFEE.  Did anyone's curiosity just perk up?

The Children's Choir is 1-0
About a dozen singers; grades 3-8 sang beautifully at the 10:30 liturgy on September 17.  Heads snapped around upon hearing the sound of this (relatively) small but mighty group. 

The Adult Choir is 1-0. 
About 15 members sang at the 12 noon last week.  A rousing 4-part acapella version of the South African “Halleluya, We Sing Your Praises” was a highlight.

Our Guitar Group is undefeated.
It's impossible to determine how many wins our guitar group has this season because these guys faithfully serve St Mary’s EVERY WEEK and have been doing so for years.  They add a unique flavor, style and instrumentation to expand our parish repertoire.

This weekend the guys will be winning both ends of a double-header (sorry for the sudden shift to the baseball metaphor) as they are covering the 9 and 10:30 liturgy.  I'd like to thank them both personally and publicly for their faithful service and for making it possible for me to attend a family outing this weekend.

Here are some things each of these three groups has in common

1.   All rehearse immediately before mass.
2.   All are come when you can
3.   All deserve your appreciation

Here are three things you might want to do the next time you see a member of one of these groups:

1.   Offer a kind word
2.   Make plans to visit a future rehearsal to check out the group
3.   Bring something that you baked to the rehearsal

Just kidding on #3 but either way, we’ll have a cup of coffee for you when you come.

Blessed to lead the Music Ministry at St. Mary’s,

Bruce

PS & BTW
Our cantors; Apryl, Gabrianna, Aaron, David and John are the best!

PPS
Thank you to Tricia Blanchard for filling in as well.



Thursday, September 21, 2017

25th Sunday in OT - TED TALK - Social Concerns

        The Lord is Near To All Who Call On Him

                                                        Psalm 145:18(a)

For the second week in a row we hear a gospel story which, among other things, describes the economy of the kingdom of God.  In “The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant”a steward whose debt is forgiven refuses to do the same for someone who owes him a lesser amount.  In “The Workers of the Vineyard” those who are last to arrive receive equal pay as the other workers.  It is clear from these parables that kingdom's economy is not based on the cost of money or gross hourly wage but rather on God's "radical generosity." 

As I considered what to write in todays liturgical notes I:

 1.  imagined 2 scenarios similar to the one in today’s gospel 
 2.  listened to a TED talk 
 3.  prayed

Here is the first scenario.  A person runs from their parked car to the train platform.  They need to make this train to be on time for a do or die job interview.  They make it up the stairs and rush to the boarding train.  People are standing outside its' open doors.  The train is jammed full.  What if you or I were that person?  What if you or I were the person squeezed between a crowd of people and a train door about to close?  

The second scenario is quite similar to the first except the person is no longer trying to get on a crowded train.  They are struggling to gain access to a lifeboat.  What would you or I do now?

David Miliband is the President of the International Rescue Committee.  In his TED talk he tells this story about his grandmother and her aunt.  They were the only two people in the family to resist the order of the Nazi authorities to report to the Brussels train station.  Her fleeing to a nearby village and a French farmer who ultimately hid 12 Jewish refugees saved her life and made David's possible.

Finally, I took out the Rosary that I had recently received as a gift from a friend who recently returned from Rome.  Monday is the day were the Joyful mysteries are prayed.  The Annunciation, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth,  The Nativity... I reflected on the irony of thinking about the thousands of children in refugee camps through the lens of the joy of the coming of the Christ-child.

Perhaps today's gospel will help us to see, think and act just a little differently.  Please visit our Social Concerns homepage at www.stmarysnutley.org to find a link to David Miliband's TED talk and to learn how you can get involved.

Peace,

Bruce




Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Lord is Near to All Who Call on Him

        The Lord is Near To All Who Call On Him

                                                        Psalm 145:18(a)

For the second week in a row we hear a gospel story which, among other things, describes the economy of the kingdom of God.  In “The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant”a steward whose debt is forgiven refuses to do the same for someone who owes him a lesser amount.  In “The Workers of the Vineyard” those who are last to arrive receive equal pay as the other workers.  It is clear from these parables that kingdom's economy is not based on the cost of money or gross hourly wage but rather on God's "radical generosity." 

As I considered what to write in todays liturgical notes I:

 1.  imagined 2 scenarios similar to the one in today’s gospel 
 2.  listened to a TED talk 
 3.  prayed

Here is the first scenario.  A person runs from their parked car to the train platform.  They need to make this train to be on time for a do or die job interview.  They make it up the stairs and rush to the boarding train.  People are standing outside its' open doors.  The train is jammed full.  What if you or I were that person?  What if you or I were the person squeezed between a crowd of people and a train door about to close?  

The second scenario is quite similar to the first except the person is no longer trying to get on a crowded train.  They are struggling to gain access to a lifeboat.  What would you or I do now?

David Miliband is the President of the International Rescue Committee.  In his TED talk he tells this story about his grandmother and her aunt.  They were the only two people in the family to resist the order of the Nazi authorities to report to the Brussels train station.  Her fleeing to a nearby village and a French farmer who ultimately hid 12 Jewish refugees saved her life and made David's possible.

Finally, I took out the Rosary that I had recently received as a gift from a friend who recently returned from Rome.  Monday is the day were the Joyful mysteries are prayed.  The Annunciation, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth,  The Nativity... I reflected on the irony of thinking about the thousands of children in refugee camps through the lens of the joy of the coming of the Christ-child.

Perhaps today's gospel will help us to see, think and act just a little differently.  

You don't have to be a member of St. Mary's to get involved with our social concerns effort.  Take a look at our web-page by clicking the following link:



or 

Click here for a link to David Miliband's TED talk
Peace,

Bruce




It's Like........

Have you ever used this phrase when struggling to expla in something? Have you ever caught yourself, or someone else inserting this phr...