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.

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,


Merry Christmas to all.

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,



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

Advent III


Are you distracted even as you're sitting in church trying to get ready for mass?

Would it help to have something, which redirects your focus to meet Jesus in Word and Sacrament?

Then you're just the person I think of when I write these bulletin articles/blogs.

Take a moment and think back to the last two weeks of Advent.
What do you remember?

Don't worry or feel guilty, this is not a test.   Let your mind wander to Advent.   If this is the first  week you've made it, think back to Advent past.

One thing you may remember is the traditional hymn; O Come, O Come Emmanuel.   At St.Mary's we are using this traditional melody in some novel ways.  The first is that we are playing it (along with some improvisation) as the presider and ministers process to the altar.

Here are just 2 reasons:

1.  To make it clear that we are no longer in ordinary time.

2.  To create an Advent gathering that is more meditative and free from words and singing. (Yes, this is coming from the guy who is all about words and singing.)

You will also hear this familiar melody in the commons of the mass: The Holy, Sanctus,  Memorial Acclamation, Amen and Lamb of God set to Richard Proulx's Missa Emmanuel.  (Note: The Gloria is omitted on Advent Sundays)

During advent we are singing part of the prayer of the faithful. You can find the words to There is A Longing at #399 in the Breaking Bread hymnal. We will sing verses 1, 3 and 4 in between the petitions read by the lector.

Our communion song; Advent Litany (#51) is an interesting composition. The original Latin text hearkens back to the seventh century. The verses are in the style of a Gelineau psalm from when the mass started to be said in the vernacular.

Take a moment to get an Advent booklet from the doors of the church. This will afford you an overview of the season.

During advent the church prays "Maranatha" which translates; "Come, Lord Jesus." My prayer is that our music will help you to move closer to that reality.



Advent II

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb…
the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.
                                                                                    Isaiah 11:6

This time of year reminds me of the story of a father who spies his 5 year old daughter standing next to his infant son’s crib.  As the father stands quietly and unnoticed in the doorway he hears the girl whisper to her baby brother, “Billy remind me where we came from, I’m beginning to forget.”

Today’s reading from the prophet Isaiah foretells the birth of the Christ-child.  This child, born 2000 years ago reminds us not only from where we come but to where we are going.  Isaiah goes on to describe the Christ-child’s kingdom as God’s holy mountain; a place of radical hope and peace.  

The church calls us to look for signs of and participate in the fulfillment of this’ kingdom.  You will see signs of this all around you; if you know where to look.  They can be seen in the youth who serve at St. Mary’s in peer leadership, music ministry, altar servers and care kitchen, to name a few.  They can be found in those who serve the community either through school or civic organizations.  The spirit of these young people is energizing.  As the girl in the opening story suggests; they remind us from where we come.  

This child-like enthusiasm is not limited to children.  Ministry happens because of the work of people of all ages.  The challenge is for each of us to add our voices to the one Matthew describes as “a voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord.”

In January St. Mary’s will be forming a social concerns team.  We will be looking for ways that we can actively work toward the building of Christ’s kingdom here in Nutley and beyond.  

As you hear and sing Isaiah’s words in today’s offertory song (found on page 6 of the advent booklet) please consider reaching out to me via e-mail or at the parish center to be part of this social concerns effort.

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


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