Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Readying for NPM in Michigan

Wednesday greetings from the unseasonably cool Midwest.

And a very Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends. All of my family roots are in French Canada, so I feel a special affinity with my friends to the north today.

To say that we are busy here at WLP would be an understatement. Next week is the annual convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, taking place in beautiful Grand Rapids, Michigan. For the first time, WLP's booth in the exhibit hall will feature live music, highlighting the instrumental music we have published in the past few years.

We had our annual NPM WLP kick-off luncheon today and it featured Vernor's Ginger Ale, a Michigan favorite! We also had delicious cherries, also grown in Michigan.

I volunteered for three twenty-minute time slots and will be playing from three collections, pictured here:

I don't play regularly in a parish any more, so I have been practicing away. Noel and Offertoire are both by the composer Cesar Franck, arranged for C instrument and keyboard by Dr. William Torolano. Psalms without Words, Volume Two, was composed for piano by Edward Eicker. I am greatly looking forward to playing these in our booth next week.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Lost Sheep on Chicago Streets

Monday greetings from the rainy Midwest.

Last Thursday, I flew to El Paso, Texas, then drove over to the Las Cruces, New Mexico, to give RCIA presentations at the Southwest Liturgical Conference's Hispanic Musicians Conference. It was wonderful to be with approximately 200 musicians who are serving Hispanic communities so well in the Southwest and across the United States.

Here is a photo I took of the beautiful Organ Mountains near Las Cruces.

A highlight of my visit was reconnecting with two of my favorite people, the beautiful daughters of WLP's own Peter Kolar. Here I am with Chloe and Karla Kolar:

I arrived back in Chicago on Saturday night, took a nap for a few hours, then at 1:00 A.M. on Sunday was a part of Chicago's annual "L.A.T.E. Ride," a 30 mile bike ride through Chicago neighborhoods during the wee hours. I rode with WLP's own Keith Kalemba.

Unfortunately, about 150 of us (there were over two thousand riders) somehow missed a turn early on in the course and we ended up several miles away from the other riders. Keith came to the rescue and, like a good shepherd, led us safely through some not-so-friendly neighborhoods to an area where we met up with the other two thousand riders. He snapped this photo of #91 (that's me) at the end of the ride, just as the sun was beginning to rise.

I have to admit that I was tense during those several miles when our little group was separated from the larger group. They were under police protection at intersections and their ride was being monitored by course marshals; we were simply alone at 2:00 A.M. on a Sunday; not the best time in a big city like Chicago. And of course, I tried to make some connections to our faith as we tried our best to reconnect with the main fold. Sometimes it is simply unnerving when you lose your way, don't you think? But then there is inevitably someone in whom we can place our trust. I think the "lost riders" were grateful for our shepherd!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

WLP Wins Three Paul Revere Awards

Just so proud today of the team here at WLP. Not only are we serving the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church, we are doing so in an award-winning fashion.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Order of Mass: Side by Side Latin and English Version

Greetings on this first Monday of the Summer season.

When I arrived at the office this morning, I found two books in my mailbox. A few years ago, following the release of the new translation of The Roman Missal, several parishes asked us to publish the Order of Mass (Novus Ordo) in a side-by-side format in two languages, English and Latin. This was a painstaking process for our editors, music engravers, and designers, but their work has really paid off. These two books are quite beautiful. The one with the green cover has the Latin chant with modern notation. The one with the red cover has the Latin chant with traditional square-note notation. Both editions use modern notation for the chant for the English. On each page spread, Latin is on the left, English on the right.

Here's a sample page with the traditional notation for the Gloria in Latin.

And the contemporary notation for the Gloria in Latin.

All of the chants for the English language are those from The Roman Missal, Third Edition. All of the chants for the Latin language are those from the Missale Romanum.

For parishes that are celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass in Latin, these are excellent books from which members of the congregation can follow along and sing. I think they are also useful for people who might want to see the Latin as the English is being sung and prayed.

At WLP, we serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church. I believe that these books make a contribution to serving those needs. What do you think?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Re-Charging the Ministerial Batteries

Wednesday greetings. Here in the Midwest, we received a one day reprieve yesterday from the incessant rainy weather. Now, of course, it's raining again.

I wanted to share with you one last appeal for musicians to consider attending the Liturgical Music Institute to be held at Immaculate Conception Seminary on Long Island this summer.

Chris Ferraro, the institute's director, recently let us know that there are currently 20 musicians registered and that most are from outside of New York State. This should make for a wonderful mix of musicians from different pastoral situations around the country. I wrote extensively about the institute in an earlier blog post.

Summer is a great time for re-charging our ministerial batteries, so to speak. Tomorrow and Friday, I will be attending a gathering of RCIA practitioners and leaders from around the Midwest, "Christian Initiation Gathering: Re-imagining the Implementation." This is an invitation-only event and about thirty of us will be gathering at Saint Julie parish in Tinley Park, Illinois. The event is being sponsored by Liturgy Training Publications. I am looking forward to re-connecting with folks with whom I have had the privilege of working with and learning from over the past thirty years through our shared work with the North American Forum on the Catechumenate.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

All for Me! The Blackhawks' Greatest Fan

Tuesday greetings from the greatest city in the world.

As many of you may know, I am an avid, sort of over-the-top hockey fan. Having grown up in Boston and having the likes of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito of the Boston Bruins as my heroes, hockey has always been in my blood. Then I moved to Florida where, at the time, there simply was no hockey. Then came the move to Chicago, where the team here was dismal at best. I went to a few games through the years in a half-empty stadium.

Then, about seven or eight years ago, I began walking down to the United Center, not far from where I live, about ten minutes before the games. I would pay ten dollars at the ticket window for a seat way, way up in the "300 level" and began to watch two very young nineteen year-old kids play hockey like I had not seen in Chicago: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. In the past six years, counting the great win last night, "my" Chicago Blackhawks have now won three Stanley Cup Championships in six years.

You know, in our world of Church and publishing, and all the joys and disappointments that accompany that work, sometimes it's just good to stop and enjoy something that brings so much excitement and joy to life. For me, that's Blackhawks hockey.

Today, I am basking in it all; just grateful for the opportunity to have gone to some games this year and to have cheered on a group of guys who impress me by their skill, their humility, and their love for me, because I am their greatest fan.

Thank you, Chicago Blackhawks.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Keeping the Flock Protected

Monday greetings on this rainy Monday morning here in the Midwest.

We all awoke to the news this morning that Archbishop Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Anthony Piche of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis have resigned. Earlier this month, the Archdiocese was charged as a corporation for "turning a blind eye" to a string of reports about a priest who was later convicted of sexually abusing two boys.

I remember well waking up on that December morning in 2002, and tuning in to the "Today" show and saw the news report of the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston. Who among us had ever experienced or could imagine the resignation of such a highly placed prelate? And, of course, I remember just a few years ago, waking up and turning on the local WGN news here in Chicago and watching a newscaster fumbling for the words to describe what had just occurred in Rome; that Pope Benedict XVI had announced his resignation. Talk about a highly placed prelate!

My reaction to the Nienstedt resignation? When shepherds can no longer protect the sheep and can no longer keep them all in the fold, it's time for a new shepherd. All kinds of other things run through my mind, especially as one who is himself a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Protection is something that those who suffer abuse of any kind desperately seek. I thank God today that parents and most who care for the young are educating kids at a very early age about what is safe and what is not safe when it comes to encounters with adults. This kind of thing was just not talked about in the 1970's when I was growing up. While I find the fact that these bishops "turned a blind eye" to reports of children being harmed reprehensible, I think that resignation is the only course of action. And it simply makes sense that, in addition to punishment by the civil authorities, that the Church will levy punishment as well. We've seen this most recently with Pope Francis' newest tribunal which will deal with these bishops.

This can all be quite confounding, especially on the cusp of a Jubilee Year of Mercy. But we cannot deceive ourselves. Mercy does not mean ignoring the sin. Mercy does not mean turning some kind of blind eye toward injustice. We all know that God's mercy reaches the hearts of the repentant ones. Perhaps what we are seeing is the beginning of that repentance.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.