Thursday, November 30, 2017

Advent Quiz (Answers Included)


1.  How long is advent?   The quick answer is 4 weeks.
Be watchful!

2.  How many days?   This year it will be 22.
You do not know when the time will come.  Be alert!

As I write this article two thoughts vie for my attention. Together they form The Great Advent Conundrum of 2017. (My thanks and apologies to the play about a comet with the similar name.)

The thought in bold is from the first line of today’s gospel. (Mark 13:33) You will probably find it familiar as we heard similar words from Matthew during the last Sundays of ordinary time.

The second is a riddle that is both informative and frightening. Christmas on a Monday creates the shortest advent possible.

So what do we do?

One source I read suggests letting go of busyness for the sake of being busy and focusing instead on the small yet important things.  Here are just 4 ideas to consider today:

A New Church Year’s Resolution

1. Be open: 
Take on a posture of prayer. Stand, kneel or sit tall. Uncross your arms. Allow the peace and joy of the Lord to show on your face.

2.  Be attentive: 
Open the hymnal and focus on the words of the readings, prayers and songs. It will help crowd out distractions.

3.  Be changed:
Leave with a small but focused action plan.  Take a card from the giving tree.  Join the social concerns e-mail list.  See the good deed that comes to mind as the call of the Holy Spirit.  Act on that felling today.

4. Be prepared and tuned in
Follow the advice we give to students of all ages:  “Do the reading and come on time.”  Pick a day this week to find the readings for next Sunday.  Take a look at the connection between the reading from the prophet Isaiah and Mark’s account of John the Baptist.  Come to mass early next week.  Be ready, open, attentive, and ready to be changed.  Rinse and repeat.  (Just kidding on the rinse.)

Anticipating great Christmas gifts in small Advent packages,


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The end of the line (kind of)

Today is the final part of a four week series. Each segment has looked at the last Sundays in ordinary time from the perspective of today's gospel.  (Scroll down to see the entire series.) 

Prior to writing this last segment I clarified my reasoning for being so focused on Matthew’s account of the last judgement.

Part of the appeal is Matthew himself. The literal title of his day job (tax collector) might not have much cache. But reframe it to “he works in finance” or call him “a numbers man” and he suddenly Matthew takes on an importance more in line with the stories he tells.

Today’s gospel is a case in point. Matthew is the only evangelist to include this story in his gospel account. I am intrigued as to why the compilers of the lectionary chose this gospel to stand next to the gospels for the other 2 years readings for Christ the King:

cycle b: Jesus being questioned by Pontius Pilate (John 18:33b-37)

cycle c. The Crucifixion (Luke 25:35-43.)

Lastly, it might be the wisdom or sense of urgency that comes with maturity (ok....age.)
What about you? Perhaps you as I:

  • are tempted to ask Jesus when we saw him hungry, thirsty, imprisoned etc.

  • find his response to be equally sobering.

  • feel a sense of relief for more time and a chance to do better.

Today's music points to the reality of Christ as King of all; particularly the least, the last and the lost; those whom the world overlooks but who are sheep in the eyes of the Lamb of God, the Good Shepherd.

If you are not familiar with You Gather In the Outcast, you should check it out.

Particularly blessed and grateful this Thanksgiving,


This week's music:
Prelude                 He Is Exalted
Prelude                 Laudate Dominum       12 noon                
Processional         Crown Him With Many Crowns              BB 728         
Psalm                   R & A
Alleluia                 Choral Fanfare for Christ the King 12 noon                           
Offertory              You Gather in the Outcast                        BB 618
Communion          Behold the Lamb                                      BB 338          
Recessional          Soon and Very Soon                                BB 574            

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Dash of Your Life

You might be surprised that the music director is not going use this week’s Parable of the Talents as a plea that you share your musical abilities with the church. 

One reason is that the talents in the story refer to money. 

The other is that my focus remains on how the gospel fits into the mini-season of the last Sundays of ordinary time. 

The Parable of the Talents is the first half of a chapter which is concluded next week. This concluding story depicting the final judgment is found only in the gospel of Matthew. 

As I reread the readings for these last three Sundays I thought of a poem title; “The Dash” written by Linda Ellis. Here is a link

The poem highlights the significance of the dash between dates of a person’s birth and death. 

Perhaps this often repeated quote by a former pastor (Fr. Dino Zeni) when he preached at funerals summarizes it well: 

 “It is not important how or when we die. 
What is critical; is how we live.” 

I am also reminded of a lesson learned from my father. 

Mom and Dad were coming to Saturday evening mass. I was playing at mass as well as the 2 p.m. first communion which preceded it. When the communion ended I went to a nearby diner to have a cup of coffee. 

As I pulled back into the church parking lot I saw my dad under the hood of a car which I did not recognize. It wasn’t until I walked up to the car that I realized what had transpired. The owner of the car had been stuck since the end of the communion mass. A severe speech impediment prevented him from asking for and receiving help. My father; the good Samaritan had initiated the conversation and offered to help. 

As we gather at mass praying John Becker's setting of the  Litany of the Saints I will be thinking of my dad; Vincent J. Mauro, his birth on Dec. 11, 1933, and death on May 4, 2013 but most importantly I will be thinking about the dash in between. 

I invite you to do the same for someone whom you love.

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


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Binge-watching the gospel of Matthew

In many ways I am a creature of habit.   On Sunday afternoon I take the weekend’s music sheets out of my binder. Those that are repeating move forward to another week. Others are returned to the general binder to wait for their next use. 

Monday mornings begin early. I take a fresh look at the upcoming week’s readings and music selections made several months in the past with my first cup of coffee. Today I grab a pencil as an outline for what follows flows quickly and easily.

The 32nd Sunday in ordinary time is the second of the three Last Sundays in ordinary time. These three Sundays make up one side of the hinge between the current church year and the next which begins with Advent.

For many years I’ve viewed, thought and written about these 3 weeks as a mini-season. This idea seems more prevalent this year. Perhaps it’s the binge watching prompted by a new subscription to Amazon Prime.

As I read these 3 weeks of readings I can’t help but look ahead to a cliffhanger on the last episode of the season.....I mean last Sunday of the church year: The Solemnity of Christ King of the Universe.

If the 25th chapter of Matthew were a script for the show it would read like this: 

A line of people process to the Son of Man seated on a throne. As each person arrives at the front they are pointed to the left (goats) or the right (sheep.). The camera cuts back and forth between the Son of Man and another featured character as he makes his way to the front of the line. As he reaches the front we see a close up of him and Jesus. The Son of Man lifts His arm slowly as he prepares to point... to.... the...... (Cue theme music and credits.)

This article is not about binge watching some tv drama like “This is Us.” This article is about us! It’s about you and me, our friends and family, parishioners of St. Mary’s, Holy Family and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, All of the Saints and Souls. It’s about The Kingdom of God.

This is what lead me to pick and repeat the songs of gathering for each of these weeks:

* John Becker’s prayerfully moving setting of The           Litany of the Saints (717).

* The classic Shall We Gather At The River which         uses imagery from the heavenly vision of the Book     of Revelation

Our offertory song; Parable (#683) is the song I wish people would know of when they pick the reading from Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 (There is an appointed time for everything) for a funeral.

The communion song; All Good Gifts is a throwback to another time and reflects the fact that at the heart of every of every Eucharist lies our giving thanks to God.

Finally, the recessional song Stay Awake (#58) reminds us (as do the readings of this mini-season) that we should not wait for advent to prepare for the Lord’s second coming.

Blessed to be serving at St. Mary’s,


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