Thursday, March 26, 2015

Putting Things in Context

Thursday greetings from the home office here in Franklin Park, Illinois.

In yesterday's post I was lamenting over this cold I picked up and the fact that my prayer life hasn't been quite up to par during this particular Lenten Season. Sometimes I think a blogger like me can fall into the "blah, blah, blah" trap. Yesterday's comment from one of the readers of the blog helped me contextualize.

In response to the question I posed in yesterday's post-- "Last night, while turning to the Lord in prayer during what was a very restless and sleepless night for me, I sort of said, 'Hello, Lord, remember me?' before I started praying in earnest. Ever feel that way?" -- the person who commented said this: "Yes I feel that way every time I have Chemo, but then I remember something my mother used to say . . . God isn't going to let anything happen to you today that you and He cannot handle together. She was right."

So, here I sit, sniffling and sneezing and complaining. I need to remind myself that there are people undergoing chemotherapy right now. I need to remind myself that there are people whose restless nights have to do with the fear that accompanies a cancer diagnosis. I have to remind myself that my woes are like a grain of sand when compared to the terrible anguish like the families of the recent airline crash in Europe must be experiencing.

Maybe this is what God has in mind for me during this Lenten Season: "Jerry, turn to me with your whole heart, watch your complaining, and focus on the things that really matter; I'm not going to let anything happen to you that you and I cannot handle together."

Thank you for yesterday's comment. Helped me more than you know.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"Hello Lord, Remember Me?"

Wow, this cold I have is certainly hanging around; some folks I know have had this stuff for two to three weeks. Keep washing your hands, folks!

I am starting to think that this particular Lenten Season has kind of passed me by. After the first Sunday, at which I attended and spoke at four Masses for a parish mission, I have either been traveling and unable to attend Mass or, like this past Sunday, too sick to go. I have been at Masses, like at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, but I end up having to go to a Liturgy of the Word in one large location, then walk to the Liturgy of the Eucharist in another venue, because our sponsored musicians are leading the music and we want to support their ministry.

So this has been a scattered Lent for me. Last night, while turning to the Lord in prayer during what was a very restless and sleepless night for me, I sort of said, "Hello Lord, remember me?" before I started praying in earnest. Ever feel that way?

I am hoping that the coming week gives me the opportunity to get a concentrated dose of solid time spent at the Church's liturgies in the Church's most beautiful week.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

For Your Day's Enjoyment

Tuesday greetings from the Midwest, where we received nearly six inches of snow yesterday. Happy Spring!

I am a bit under the weather, was home sick yesterday and thought I was better this morning, so I headed to the office. Caught up on a few things, now I am headed home again; feeling pretty miserable.

In case you haven't seen this, here is something for your day's enjoyment.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

(Gotta get better!)

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Step Backward for Sure

Just read something in the Boston Pilot, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston. It was the headline that caught my attention:

"St. Columbkille throws 'out the net;' Baptizes 20 students"

Here's the article.

And here's one section:

"The two efforts in the context of the new evangelization intersected during enrollment, when the parish contacted the school to find out if any students wanted or needed the sacrament of baptism.

Having worked in partnership with the Archdiocese of Boston and Boston College since 2006, the school drew on the longstanding partnership with the parish to encourage the baptisms."

The article makes no mention of the celebration of the sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion.

So, apparently no catechumenate, no rites of acceptance into the order of catechumens, sending for election, nor scrutinies. No parish support or apprenticeship of these young people during an extended catechumenate.

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, in its section on the initiation of children who have reached catechetical age (usually around the age of seven), is clear in two paragraphs:

305. At this third step of their Christian initiation, the children will receive the sacrament of baptism, the bishop or priest who baptizes them will also confer confirmation, and the children will for the first time participate in the liturgy of the eucharist.

U.S. National Statutes 14. In order to signify clearly the interrelation or coalescence of the three sacraments which are required for full Christian initiation (canon 842:2), adult candidates, including children of catechetical age, are to receive baptism, confirmation, and eucharist in a single eucharistic celebration, whether at the Easter Vigil or, if necessary, at some other time.

I have been trying to form parish and diocesan ministers of Christian initiation for nearly thirty years in the vision and practice of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. This journey has been a long one, filled with lots of joy, but many disappointments as well. I am sure this article was widely read and was read with great joy by so many; after all, who wouldn't be delighted that 20 students were baptized? And I can certainly understand that joy and enthusiasm. But how does a parish simply ignore the rites of the Roman Catholic Church and the Code of Canon Law? Parents in hundred of parishes whose children of catechetical age were enrolled in the catechumenate should have every right to be totally confused by the practice at this parish.

This is so disappointing. I just hope that whoever wrote the article somehow missed the fact that perhaps these children were confirmed and received their First Holy Communion. But, sadly, the article says that the baptisms and one profession of faith took place "at a prayer service."

This is a step backward in the implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

After reading stuff like this, I feel like just giving up. More was thrown out here than just "the net" by this parish.

Boston friends, please feel free to chime in here. If I have misunderstood what occurred, please correct me.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

More from L.A. Congress

Friday greetings to all.

And Happy Spring!

Lots of work filling my plate as I settle back into my world here at WLP and at home here in Chicago.

A special thanks to Dan Houze, friend and colleague from Los Angeles, for forwarding me links to some of the moments at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, held last week in Anaheim.

Following the opening event, I was surprised to find myself in front of the camera for a quick "first reaction" to the event. Here is the link to the opening event itself and Sister Edith Prendergast's final opening speech. She retires soon.

And here is the short interview of the "first reaction." Others are part of this video, including David Haas, Cardinal Roger Mahony, John Angotti, Karla Carrillo, James Flaherty, and Harrison Crenshaw.

And here is a full-length video of the Mass that was called the "Australian Mass."

I hope you enjoy these snippets.

None of these can adequately capture the sense of universality and multi-culturalism that fills the large space, which holds nearly nine thousand Catholics. But I hope you get some flavor of the event.

I hope your weekend is a good one.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What a Congress in L.A.!

Thursday greetings from my desk here at WLP in Franklin Park, IL.

A thousand apologies for not having posted this past week. We were at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim and the time was packed with work, speaking, and activities. I spent a few days in the California desert after Congress and did not have internet access.

What a Congress it was! The most multi-cultural and faith-filled Congress certainly in my memory. WLP was well represented. I gave a talk entitled "You Have Put on Christ: Cultivating a Baptismal Spirituality in the Parish." Much material was drawn from my new book of the same name. There were about 300 in attendance and it seemed to go very well. It is always a treat to share some of my photos and videos of Italian baptisteries with Catholics; a real eye-opener for sure.

Here is what our booth space in the exhibit hall looked like when we arrived.

And, seven hours later . . .

WLP sponsored this year's art exhibit, which featured the art in Brother Mickey McGrath's new book, Dear Young People. Here is a photo of Mickey and me in front of one of the panels.

We were privileged also to sponsor Fr. Ed Foley, who gave two presentations focused on Eucharistic theology, drawn from his new resource we just released here at WLP, Encountering the Mystery: An Overview of Eucharistic Theology. Here is Fr. Ed in action.

We also sponsored James Wahl, whose delightful recording for children, Standing on the Rock, was a hit with many who attended his workshop.

We were so happy and proud once again to sponsor two Australian composers, Michael Mangan and Andrew Chinn, as well as Michael's wife Anne Frawley-Mangan. They bring such life to the celebration of the liturgy through music and movement. There was a much larger group from Australia at Congress this year, as one of the dioceses sponsored a group of young aboriginal people, whose dance, story-telling, and presence really made Congress feel so much more international. It was such a treasure to be a part of it all.

And, of course, WLP artist John Angotti wrote the theme song for the Congress this year; the composition was a team effort that included Meredith Augustin (whom WLP sponsored at Congress as well), Gary Daigle, and James T. Brown. To hear it sung by thousands in the Anaheim Arena was spectacular. It (See Through the Eyes of Love) is available on iTunes. John presented a workshop with Brother Mickey McGrath, focused on Pope Francis.

WLP author Mary Birmingham also presented two workshops, one focused on the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, the other on the training of catechists.

We also sponsored Rafael Moreno, who gave two workshops in Spanish. He is such a delight. His recordings are certainly worth a listen.

And we also sponsored the group formerly named "The Jacob and Matthew Band." The band has been reconfigured and now is known as WAL (We Are Loved). I attended the "Young Adult Mass" on Saturday night, at which they were the music ministers. It was so prayerful and exactly what I needed to become refocused on what really matters after a long and hectic day.

Just writing this re-cap reminds me of how blessed we are to have so many fine composers, artists, and authors in the WLP family. I am still on a spiritual high after Congress.

This was Sr. Edith Prendergast's (Director of the Office of Religious Education for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles) final Congress as the leader; she retires from the directorship in June. Her opening address, as usual, was inspiring and hope-filled.

Many thanks to Sister Edith and her fine staff for the amazing effort they expend to bring together over forty thousand Catholics for this event. I've said it before and I'll say it again, every Catholic, ordained and lay, involved in ministry of any kind, should attend the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress at least once! It is an experience one never forgets. I already can't wait until next year!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Co-Workers in the Vineyard of Tucson

Tuesday greetings. It has been a week since I have posted. I spent four days last week in beautiful Tucson, Arizona, speaking at their Co-Workers in the Vineyard Catholic Conference. I had not been there in many years and had forgotten how beautiful that area of our country truly is.

I had a chance to spend some time in their renovated Cathedral of Saint Augustine and, of course, took some photos. Here is a photo of the exterior:

Daily Mass was occurring while I was there:

Here is photo of the baptismal area and the font:

I found the gathering area/foyer to be most fascinating. Here is the carved wood relief above the main door of the cathedral:

How appropriate are the words in the center:

And the artwork along the inside walls is pretty remarkable. With the "Be doers of the word" quote, and these images, on either side of the cathedral's main exit door, one cannot help but sense that what happens inside this cathedral is meant to be taken outside, to make a difference.

The conference itself was wonderful; I enjoyed meeting the great people of the diocese of Tucson and the other dioceses represented.

Tomorrow I am off to Anaheim for the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. Seems like I am spending quite a bit of time in taxis, on trains, and aboard jets these days!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.