Tuesday, January 17, 2017

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time


Today is the first of 6 weeks where we will hear from chapters 3, 4 and 5 of Matthew’s Gospel.  

In a pattern similar to during advent, the lectionary pairs these portions of Matthew’s gospel to the prophecies Isaiah to which they refer.  

Today’s pairing makes it clear; Jesus is the light that has arisen for the people who sit in darkness and dwell in a land overshadowed by death.  

Today’s gospel reading also contains several important elements which we will continue to hear throughout the upcoming weeks.

1.       Jesus preaches   
2.       Jesus calls
3.       Jesus heals


                                                  ****

The United States Conference Council of Bishops (USCB) has produced a statement that takes it’s name from the readings which we will be hearing over the next 6 weeks.  The document is titled: Communities of Salt and Light: Reflections on the Social Mission of the Parish.

Here are just a few highlights from my initial reading:

1.       To be Christian means to be actively involved in Christ's mission

2.       The local parish is where this work begins

3.        As Catholics we are called to reach beyond our own community.

Jesus is calling us to bring  His light to the world - The work of Christmas begins.

Blessed to be in ministry at St. Mary's,

Bruce


Monday, January 9, 2017

The Work of Christmas Begins

“Blessed are they who are poor in spirit.” 

                                                                      Matthew 5:3 

Today the liturgical calendar begins an 8 week stretch of ordinary time connecting the seasons of Christmas and Lent. 

With the exception of today; the gospel for the next 7 weeks, is taken from chapters 4, 5 and 6 of Matthew’s gospel. 

These chapters will be familiar to many as they contain Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. 

A well-known element of the Sermon on the Mount is the Beatitudes. 
These 8 aphorisms have been the focus of my prayer and musical preparation.

They are also where my job as music director and position of interim chair of social concerns intersect. 

Today, and over the next 7 weeks I plan on using the song “We Are the Light of the World (#595) as the recessional hymn. 

We will sing just one verse each week as each verse focuses on one of the beatitudes. 

This week’s verse may (found at the top of this blog) may the most perplexing. 

How can being poor in spirit be a blessing? 

Here’s something I found that might help. 

When we come to God, we must realize our own sin and our spiritual emptiness and poverty. We must not be self-satisfied or proud in our hearts, thinking we don’t really need God. If we are, God cannot bless us. 

The Bible says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). 

Fr. Rich has been having the staff pray a prayer by Howard Thurman titled; “The Work of Christmas Begins.” I have a feeling you’ll be hearing and/or seeing it soon. 

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.

Howard Thurman

My hope is that our worship will lead us to begin the work of Christmas here at St. Mary’s. 

Peace, 

Bruce



The Epiphany of the Lord

Star of Wonder, star of night… 
Guide us to thy Perfect Light 



Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. 

The word itself comes from the Greek; epiphaneia meaning manifestation or appearance. 

Matthew’s gospel tells the story: magi from the east follow the star and come looking for the newborn king. They bring the rarest and most precious of gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh and offer him homage (praise.) 

One might say an epiphany is an “aha moment.” Despite the humble surroundings, this is no ordinary baby. It’s not even an ordinary king. This is God’s Son! 

Today’s prelude; A Child is Born (#99) has several references to the Epiphany of Our Lord. 

The refrain connects the song to today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah. The Christ-child is the light which breaks the darkness that covers the earth. 

The verses speak of our theological understanding of the divinity of the Christ-child. While Jesus is born of Mary, he is "begotten by the Father." Verse 2 and 3 speak of an even more special relationship between God the Father and God the Son. "The Word in flesh appearing" and "Word of God Incarnate" are references to John 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. This means that Jesus is, was and always has been part of God since the beginning of time. 

You will also find references to this relationship in the creed which we profess. 

*** 

With Christmas falling on a Sunday, so does the Solemnity of Mary, Queen of the Universe (January 1) Thus, Epiphany becomes the last of just 3 Sundays in this year’s Christmas season. Some will find this interesting. For a church musician it is akin to the stars being aligned. 

Praying that many wonderful things appear in your lives and the life of our parish in 2017. 

Bruce

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year's Day




The LORD bless you and keep you!

The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The LORD look upon you kindly and

give you peace!

So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,

and I will bless them."

                                                          Numbers 6:24-26


On Monday, December 19, I sat down to the most recent episode of a show that I have been watching “religiously” for years:  “60 minutes.”   As I pushed the button of my remote I was reminded of the promos I saw on the NFL on CBS the previous day.   I looked forward to the segment that appeared to be a choir singing to Pope Francis on his 80th birthday.  


The segment I saw did not contain giddy choristers and a smiling pontiff in a white hat.  This segment was about other men wearing white hats or more precisely; white helmets.  These men were Syrians.  They came together to excavate people buried alive in airstrikes the Syrian government is inflicting on its’ own people.  The volunteers in white helmets rush to where the strike occurs looking for signs of life; an arm or a hand, the sound of breathing.  They then begin to dig furiously in an effort to save the life lying in the rubble. 

As I watched the television my pulse rose and my mind raced.  I knew that I had to write about this and I had to do it soon.  The question was when.


****


It is now Wednesday, December 21st: the deadline for today’s bulletin.  I turn to the scripture readings we will hear proclaimed today and am distracted by a note:  


Since 1967 the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God has been designated  “World Day for Peace.”
 
I need to write about Syria, right now!


I try to read today’s first reading (see the quote above) through the eyes of a Syrian.  I read Paul’s words to the Galatians and ask myself, “If Christ has made all heirs and adopted sons and daughters of God are not these Syrians equally blessed by the God of the Israelites?


****


I’m not saying that I am going to put on a white helmet and go to Syria.  


However, I must do something today…  and tomorrow I need to do something more ….  and the next day something more….and when that’s done, something more.   


I am also saying that we as a parish community will not be fully who God is calling us to be until we are a 100% missional church. 

This is not a call to divert all our energy and resources to Syria.  


I’m saying that St. Mary’s won’t be who God is calling us to be until each of us does something for God’s children somewhere…  and tomorrow each of us does something more ….  and the next day something more….and when that’s done, something more.


One thing we can all do right now is pray.  I’ve included “Day of Peace” (#523) in today’s music.   It is a simple and beautiful prayer for God’s children of all ages.  It is a prayer for those living in Syria, Singapore or Centre Street.   My prayer is that you will see and hear it through the eyes and ears of someone in need.


Looking forward to 2017 at St. Mary’s,


Bruce


PS

Contact me at b.mauro1@yahoo.com or at the parish office if you’d like to be part of the Social Concerns mission.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Christmas Rush

It is Thursday, December 15 and I am in what have begun to refer to as "minus-time."  This is when the day’s to-do list continually gets pushed to the next day like a personal game of "kick the can down the road."  

One of the things that will not wait is the bulletin deadline and the Christmas bulletin is due today.  

For those of you who are visiting St. Mary’s, I have served as the director of music for the past three years.  This weekly column is my way of sharing the connection between the music I select and the weekly scripture readings.   (Except for when the Holy Spirit or some other event leads me on a tangent.)

So, here I am in minus-time overwhelmed by the threads of multiple ideas rolling around my head.  With each new thought the feeling grows like an icicle hanging overhead that is ready to come crashing down.
This is important; it's the Christmas bulletin. 

So I do what I always do.  I look back to the readings.  

For the past few weeks I’ve been drawn to a particular verse as I planned, rehearsed and played.  Perhaps our Marian novena had some influence in leading me in this direction.  

Amidst all of Isaiah's prophecy and Matthew and Luke's stories of angels and dreams this gem shone through:

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
                                                                            Luke2:19

Then I look at the musical selections.  I see words like: Joyful, Faithful, Triumphant, Sing, Adore and Glory.

Isn’t this why many of us return to St. Mary’s and churches around the world on this day?  Are we not looking to uncover and rediscover and ponder the things we treasure?

My hope is that the music and spirit of our worship will help you recall the Christmas memories you treasure and grace-filled possibilities for you and those you love in the upcoming year.
 
Blessed to spend another Christmas at St. Mary’s,

Bruce

P.S.
Merry Christmas to all.

P.P.S.
Happy birthday, Mom. 
Thank you for supporting my musical training and work.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Advent IV



What the world needs now is…..

Those who are old enough, or eclectic enough to remember the Burt Bacharach tune might be singing “love, sweet love.”  The song has also been used in the films:  Forest Gump, Happy Gilmore and Austin Powers:  International Man of Mystery.  

You’re also probably wondering what a 1960’spop song has to do with the fourth Sunday of Advent.  Good, I’ve got you right where I want you!

This liturgical note focuses on today’s recessional hymn and last week’s prelude:  “The Whole World is Waiting for Love.”  (#64)  The song was written Sr. Marrianne Misetich SNJM, a member of the Sisters of Providence.  Here’s a little background on the Sisters order:

·      *   It was founded in 1843 in Montreal, Canada by Mother Emilie Gamelin. 
·       *  In 1852 the first Sisters travel to the American west from Montreal, but their mission is cut short by lack of preparation and support. On their way home to Quebec, they stop in Valparaiso, Chile, and remain to serve orphans and others in need.
·       *  In 1856 a second group arrives in Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory, from Montreal. They open their small home to orphans and the elderly.
·         *In 2001 the foundress, Mother Emilie Gamelin is beatified (the step prior to being canonized a saint).
·         *The Sisters have spent over 150 years building and staffing hospitals in the Pacific Northwest

Reflect on these simple words set to simple music. 

We’re waiting for Jesus like Mary, We’re waiting for Jesus the Lord.
Come down, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
The whole world is waiting for Love.  The whole world is waiting for love.

We’re laying a manger for Mary.  A manger for Jesus the Lord……            
Come down, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
The whole world is waiting for Love.  The whole world is waiting for love.
We’re making it lovely for Mary.  So lovely for Jesus the Lord…..
Come down, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
The whole world is waiting for Love.  The whole world is waiting for love.

NBC/Comcast’s public service announcements remind us “We Need a Little Christmas.”  I don’t disagree, but I believe what the world needs now……what the whole world is waiting for….. is love. 

Blest to be waiting with you at St. Mary’s,

Bruce

P.S.

If you’re interested in finding a way of spreading your love in 2017 consider joining our parish social concerns team.  Send me an e-mail a