Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor

“The Lord hears the cry of the poor.”
Paraphrase of Psalm 34

Today’s gospel brought back memories of one way my mom would scold us: “First you laugh, then you cry.”  Clearly, Jesus (and Mom’s) point is not simply some arbitrary reversal of feelings.

On the other hand, can we rally believe that our place in is life is totally deserved?  Take a moment to consider how much luck of the draw plays in our position, wealth and status.

Getting back to the gospel:

The Gospel of Luke.....will confound all our expectations and will overturn our experiences. In fact, in the Kingdom of God everything will be turned upside down.  This is especially true when it comes to power, privilege and wealth. Luke assures us time and again that in God’s Kingdom those who struggle in life now—those who are at the bottom or on the edges of human society—will suddenly find themselves at the top and in the center. On the other hand, he warns those who now enjoy the greatest human security and social advantage that their experience may be very different......This notion that in the end God will turn everything we know upside down is often called the “Great Reversal.” It is a hallmark of Luke’s Gospel, where it appears frequently.  
From  “God’s Great Reversal:  Key to the Gospel of Luke” Franciscan media.

Elaine Rendler, one of my go to sources asks the following:  Who might be considered a Lazarus in our lives?.....In a nutshell, a Lazarus is someone for whom we do not have enough compassion.  Let us pray today for compassion.  We will all be richer people.  It is what keeps us human. 

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


“Here at your table the greatest are least.  The burdened find rest and the hungry can feast….God in your goodness, we share a place at your table.”
“A Place At Your Table”   Words and music by Ben Walther

Thursday, September 19, 2019

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

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What I Did During My Summer Vacation

It’s the first day of seventh grade. I walk into the classroom and find the following written in Sr. Philomena’s incredibly neat handwriting.

Welcome back!
Today’s assignment:
What I Did During My Summer Vacation
Minimum of 250 words.

The only thing lamer than “What I Did During My Summer Vacation” would be playing “Seven-Up” when it was the last day of the marking period and a teacher had papers to grade.  Ugh!

With apologies to all teachers who have used this assignment today’s liturgical notes is titled:

“What I Did On My Summer Vacation
  1. Those who sing pray twice
My primary work was directed towards the most important part of St. Mary’s music ministry:  you.  Together we worked on our parish musical repertoire by learning several songs as well as our new mass setting:  Curtis Stephan’s Mass of Renewal.

2.     Cultivating our growing edge
An additional accomplishment was the continued development of young singers.  Congratulations to Alyanna, Bella and Makayla for “earning your wings” by cantoring your first liturgies.

3.     Replacing those members of our choirs that will not be returning this year.

St. Mary’s needs your help to accomplish #3!

Here is a link for the schedules for each of our singing groups.  composite schedulesPlease reach out if you think you might be able to help.  We can work together to find where that might be.

In the meantime let me suggest our Children’s Choir and Family Choir as perfect gateways into our music ministry. 

The music (which will be repeated during September, October and November) and the schedules (which overlap) were chosen with young families in mind.  Why not give it a try?

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


My four goals of music ministry:

             Primary Goals
  1. The music ministry leads and enlivens the assembly’s song and enhances its prayer.
  2. The music ministry develops its members spiritually and musically.

Secondary Goals
  1. The music ministry sings music that the assembly cannot sing.
  2. The music ministry sings beautiful and challenging music to praise God and inspire the assembly.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Children will listen, but.....

“Children Will Listen”  -  Stephen Sondheim
“Actions speak louder than words.”  – Ancient Proverb

A few weeks ago I led the children’s liturgy of the word at the 10:30 Mass. The children had wonderful ideas on how they could respond to Jesus’ command to “enter through the narrow gate.” (Luke 13:24)  

Two of the older children were particularly helpful. Peter and a young lady (whose name I don’t know L helped facilitate the experience for the younger children.  While this may have been unplanned, it seemed as if the three of us were a team! 

Later that morning I noticed the cover of the Archdiocesan magazine on the bookrack in the front of the church. The cover photo was of Catie Kunkel, Campus Minister at Ramapo College.

Catie spent four years at the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at Montclair State where I serve as Music Director. It is also where I found the wonderful singers who are such an important part of our music ministry here at St. Mary’s.  They are a part of a group you don’t hear much about:  young adults who moved closer to the church and her mission during their college years.

I reached out to Catie asking if she would share more about her story for these liturgical notes.  A link to her entire response is on the parish website.  Here is a portion of what she wrote:

When I came into college at Montclair State, I was a girl who was on the pursuit of happiness. I was looking for it in friendships, relationships, sports, grades, and other materialistic things. When I was invited to Mass by a friend of mine during the first weekend of college, I was a little reluctant to say "yes" since I had never been to Mass before. My parents are fallen away Catholics and the only time I had been to church was for funerals, so it didn't have the best connotation. I was brought to the Catholic community through an invitation, I stayed because of the joy and love I encountered.... Campus Ministry is incredibly crucial, powerful, and necessary in our Church today. On campus, we strive to prepare students for living a lifelong Catholic mission and I'm living and breathing proof that it works. I've dedicated my life to serving college students in the way that others served me when I was in college. I'm humbled that though I was on a pursuit for happiness, Jesus guided me to Him where I encountered true happiness. Now, I'm honored that I get to accompany college students on their journey to help them encounter Jesus and teach them how to share Him with others.

Here is the link to the entire e-mail

Blessed to be in ministry with Catie, Apryl, Gabrianna, Aaron, David, Michael and you at St. Mary’s,


Friday, September 6, 2019

Renew Me, Lord

From time to time I use this space to share my criteria for selecting music. This affords insight into this process while allowing me an opportunity to refine my vision.

The music we sing is selected based on:
  1. The scripture of the day (particularly as it resonates with this community)
  2. The particular solemnity or feast day
  3. The current liturgical season
  4. The part of the liturgy where the song is used
  5. A civic holiday or special event
Each of the above is listed in the order of its importance. Today’s musical choices, however, deviate from this norm.

Our prelude, the Ave Maria commemorates the birth of the Blessed Mother celebrated on 9/8.

Today’s gathering/processional is a result of my search for what I would call “The Song of September.” “Renew Me, O Lord” (#645) will be repeated each Sunday this month as it speaks to our return from summer rest to fall routine.

Our offertory and communion songs reflect both a yearning for God and the special care that God has for the poor; themes which occur in the Sunday scriptures over the next several weeks.

I’ve chosen “Hallelujah Is Our Song” (#171) as we go forth into a week where we remember 9/11 and grapple with the senseless gun violence that continues to plague our nation.

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

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