Wednesday, February 20, 2019

“Do unto others…..”

Today is the sixth of seven Sundays of ordinary time between the seasons of Christmas and Lent.  (Lent begins on March 6th). 

Our gospel is the second part of the “Sermon on the Plain” from the sixth chapter of Luke’s gospel. 

Do you remember the “blessed ares” and “woe to’s” from last week?  Today we will hear more familiar quotes from Jesus’ preaching such as:  “Love your enemies” and “Do unto others.”

For the second week we will sing Matt Maher’s “Unwavering” at offertory. The verses paraphrase the gospel while the refrain speaks of God’s unwavering love manifest in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Note: Unwavering is not found in the hymnal.  It is printed in today’s bulletin.)

We will also be repeating Ben Walther’s A Place at Your Table. The refrain of this song speaks to an element of Luke’s gospel known as the “Lucan reversal.”  This has to do with the shift of circumstances between life on earth and life in God’s Salvation.  An example of this reversal of fortunes can be found in “The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.  (Luke 16:19-31)

Consider the words of the refrain to Unwavering:

Here in your presence the greatest are least,
The burdened find rest and the hungry can feast.
By love we’re invited, here mercy prevails,
God, in your goodness, we share a place at your table.

From     A Place at your Table Ben Walther

In honor of the good priests and musicians who been the foundation of my ministry,
Have you seen the new parish website?  It is excellent and is always changing.  Go to  to find slideshows of pictures

Friday, February 15, 2019

Blessed are the poor; the kingdom is theirs,
alive in the promise to be dead to the world.

Blessed are the meek, in awe of you, Father;
the Word at your right hand, the Spirit of truth.

From “Unwavering” words and music by Matt Maher

Today we hear the beginning of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Plain” These words, known as the beatitudes will be familiar to many. We will hear more portions of this passage for the next two weeks.

The words to the second half of the reading may be less familiar.  They are the other side of the coin.  “Woe to the rich….the full…….”  

The U.S. Bishop’s website comments:  {these woes} “threaten God’s profound displeasure on those so blinded by their present fortunate situation that they do not recognize and appreciate the real values of God’s kingdom. In all the blessings and woes, the present condition of the persons addressed will be reversed in the future.” 

Today’s offertory song “Unwavering” by Matt Maher highlights today’s gospel. Do not neglect the missional imperative of the bridge, which repeats 4 times for emphasis:

Send us out to be your hands and feet


We will also be introducing the third of three new songs; Ben Walther’s “A Place AT Your Table.” (#350)

The song was inspired by a mission trip to Ghana. Notice how the refrain speaks of the reversal of fortunes noted in the quote from the U.S. Council of Bishops.

“Here in your presence the greatest are least, 
the burdened find rest and the hungry can feast.”

Blessed to be in ministry with you at St. Mary’s.


Monday, February 4, 2019

Hallelujah Is Our Song

This weekend we will be singing “Hallelujah Is Our Song” (#171).  It is the second of three songs that I wish to introduce during the ordinary time between Christmas and Lent.  

I believe you’ll find the story of how it was written interesting. Sarah Hart invited three other writers (Sarah Kroger, Josh Blakesley and Trey Heffinger) to come together to share ideas and do some writing.  

In the course of catching up Sarah Kroger shared that she had been going through some difficult times but found comfort in the words of Saint John Paul II: 

“Do not abandon yourself to despair. 
We are an Easter people and Hallelujah is our song.” 

The words of the composers are equally compelling and appropriate for so many of us, particularly at this time of year: 

What hope we have, 
even in the longest night, 
for the light will overcome.

We will not fear 
for we know the sun will rise.
Halleluiah is our song. 

Whether you are in the midst of profound joy, sadness or somewhere in between I pray that this song helps you recognize the care of God described in today’s scripture readings. 

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


These weeks are a great time to join our music ministry.  Why not give it a 2 month tryout?  See me or one of our cantors today.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Ordinary Time

Today is the second of seven Sundays between the Christmas season and Lent.

You will notice a change in the musical setting of the sung parts of the mass. The refrain to the Gloria, for example, will no longer be from the hymn Angels We Have Heard on High. Instead we will return to “The Mass of Renewal” which can be found at numbers 862, 865, 866, 869, and 870.

I plan on introducing 3 new songs during this portion of ordinary time. 

The first is Tend The Ground (#616).  The composer of the words and music is Curtis Stephan. (Stephan is also the composer of the Mass of Renewal.)

Stephan was inspired to compose this song after reading Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si”.  “Laudato Si” is a quotation from St. Francis of Assisi praising God for the creation of the different creatures and aspects of the earth.  It translates as “Praised Be” or “Be Praised.”

One of the aspects of the Holy Father’s writings that struck me was his linking the care of the earth with the care of the poor and marginalized.  He exhorts all to see the care of both as our response to God’s gift of life. 

Here is the chorus of Tend the Ground:

We till the earth, we tend the ground,
Sowing hope and peace where none is found
In selfless love God’s life abounds.
We till the earth, we tend the ground.
Words and music by Curtis Stephan

The presentation scheduled for last week has been rescheduled to Sunday, February 17th at 3 p.m. in Walsh Hall.  Come learn more about how we at St. Mary’s can praise God by taking care of God’s creation.  E-mail to be on our social concerns e-mail list.

Blest to be in ministry with you here at St. Mary’s,


Friday, January 11, 2019

The Party is NOT Over

Today is the final Sunday of the Christmas season: The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. While the rest of the world may see Christmas as a distant memory, for Christians – The party is not over!

Be attentive for the signs of Christmas. Look around. The trees are still up and lit. The poinsettia’s are still lovely and abundant. The vestments are gold and the banners are white.

I continue to be inspired by the beauty of our church. This is a good time to thank those who decorated as well as the generation that built the church that we are blessed to have inherited.


Our gospel reading takes us to a later time in Jesus’s life. We no longer hear of the infant born in a stable or the boy discussing scripture in the temple. Jesus is baptized by John and will soon begin his ministry.

What about the music?

While my primary source has chosen to move away from Christmas music, I have decided to begin and end today’s liturgy with Christmas. We will also sing the Christmas Gloria (with the refrain from Angels We Have Heard on High) our seasonal psalm, and the Christmastime Alleluia (repeated after the proclamation of the gospel). It will also be the last time our intercessory prayers will be preceded by the chime.

Thank you to John LoPrieto for finding, restoring and bringing the chime to the choir loft. The next time we use it (lent?) I hope to find a few volunteers willing to play it. (You just need to follow a script and use a hammer:)

The hymns at gathering and offertory are more traditional of nature and speak of Jesus’s baptism and his future ministry. Our communion song is a contemporary composition by Matt Maher titled “Love has Come” (#484). Take a quick look at the text at some point.

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


“Do unto others…..” Today is the sixth of seven Sundays of ordinary time between the seasons of Christmas and Lent.   (Lent begins on M...