A Typical Sunday

Without a full-time pastor, nobody’s really present for all five weekend Masses in my parish. But me. Three sacristans share duties, and two of them switch off every other weekend at the four English-language liturgies. So they come close twice a month. We have four semi-retired priests and a deacon. But their limit is usually two.

I found my Sunday energy levels sagging when I began serving here last summer. I realized a few changes–changes within me–were necessary.

First, pray more. Not just pray for myself, but for the people I was called to serve here. I suppose I could have offered up a thought that they could bump the Spanish-language Mass earlier than 4pm. Counting my wake-up before 6am and scrolling ahead to my homing about twelve hours later, maybe there was a notion that the day could be compressed a bit more in the afternoon. But I’ve come to enjoy the rhythm of three morning liturgies back-to-back, then ninety minutes for lunch and a break before the last rehearsal.

It also helps that I’m not the boss of music ministry at the last Mass. My Spanish is pretty limited. As is my familiarity with the repertoire. It’s good for me to just be a player, and get to know the Latino community. Still, by the end of Mass, my natural introverted preference is screaming for retreat to a cave.

Two, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed it is easy for my sleep rhythm to go out of whack. It’s not just about the impaired ability to function on a half-night’s sleep. (That seemed so easy in high school, university, and in grad school.) Last night I was in bed before ten, and what a marvelous feeling it is to wake refreshed ten minutes before my alarm went off at 5:55.

Three, eating and drinking is important on Sundays. I’ve gotten into a good habit of cereal or a shake/smoothie/iced cap before I shower, and a mid-morning snack (a handful of nuts or a granola bar) while I warm up the 9:45 singers before Mass. (The donuts in the social hall are too much of a danger, though a small juice seems about right.)

I never paid as much attention to my body’s signals for better health when I started in full-time parish ministry around age thirty. It’s probably never been more important as it is now, especially if I want to continue to serve, and serve with a healthy body and attitude into my seventies.

Except for Charles, I don’t think any six- to ten-hour-a-day church ministers tune in here. But if you wish to comment, what are your strategies for managing long days when you have to be at your best for God and community?

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Amoris Laetitia 174: More On Motherhood

amoris laetitia memePope Francis asserts that mothers work against the spread of individualism. More on the topic of motherhood:

174. “Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centered individualism… It is they who testify to the beauty of life”.(Catechesis (7 January 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 7-8 January 2015, p. 8) Certainly, “a society without mothers would be dehumanized, for mothers are always, even in the worst of times, witnesses to tenderness, dedication and moral strength. Mothers often communicate the deepest meaning of religious practice in the first prayers and acts of devotion that their children learn… Without mothers, not only would there be no new faithful, but the faith itself would lose a good part of its simple and profound warmth… Dear mothers: thank you! Thank you for what you are in your family and for what you give to the Church and the world”.(Ibid)

Thoughts on this? For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 173: A Sense of Being Orphaned

amoris laetitia memeToday, continuing with the topic of parental love. The sense of being orphaned is not limited to those whose parents have die, but also those who have separated themselves from their children’s lives:

173. The sense of being orphaned that affects many children and young people today is much deeper than we think. Nowadays we acknowledge as legitimate and indeed desirable that women wish to study, work, develop their skills and have personal goals. At the same time, we cannot ignore the need that children have for a mother’s presence, especially in the first months of life. Indeed, “the woman stands before the man as a mother, the subject of the new human life that is conceived and develops in her, and from her is born into the world”.(John Paul II, Catechesis (12 March 1980), 2) The weakening of this maternal presence with its feminine qualities poses a grave risk to our world. I certainly value feminism, but one that does not demand uniformity or negate motherhood. For the grandeur of women includes all the rights derived from their inalienable human dignity but also from their feminine genius, which is essential to society. Their specifically feminine abilities – motherhood in particular – also grant duties, because womanhood also entails a specific mission in this world, a mission that society needs to protect and preserve for the good of all.(John Paul II, Catechesis (12 March 1980), 2; Mulieris Dignitatem 30-31)

A sexist take or a balanced one? What do you think? For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Misadventures in Roman Documents

I noticed an effort at CMAA’s forum to duplicate a discussion we had here almost five years ago. Looking at GIRM 30 through 41, the author intends to …

(highlight) some issues that would at times vary from what I and possibly others new to this have believed to the intent of the GIRM…and possibly why there has been confusion.

I am not sure that every experienced church musician always serves with the mind of the Church when it comes to liturgical ministry. I confess that over the years I’ve had misunderstandings that led to errors, ones that others have considered serious, or worse, heretical.

It can help to read a whole document rather than treat it as an adventure in gotcha! with one’s particular perceptions of what is right or wrong with the Church. That’s one reason why I thought it useful here to take documents in whole. When I was in school, we read documents in whole. We didn’t pick out favorite passages like SC 116. We had to wrestle with citations to inculturation, and the Roman proclivity for setting the bar low when and where low is needed.

The thread is titled “USCCB notes about the Mass,” which led another commenter to ask, “More ambiguity from the USCCB?”

I thought it was bishop’s note on the GIRM…don’t recall it being so ambiguous! Wasn’t attacking either document, but remarking on issues that had, in the way that they were presented, could have caused situations – such as priest’s welcoming the people before Mass and singing happy birthday and having strangers stand up during Mass to be welcomed – to come about.

I don’t remember the GIRM as being so – Sing to the Lord-ish, but possibly I have just been away from it so long. My sincere apologies for posting.

I think it’s more a matter of Sing To The Lord being GIRM-ish.

I think most of my musical colleagues at CMAA are earnest, honest, and have the best intentions for the scope of their service in the Church. I don’t think reform2 promoters always serve, think, or act with the intent of the Roman Catholic Church in their efforts. I am sure most of these folks want to. Wanting and doing are two different things. I suggest the same skepticism there as one might bring here: don’t take everything you read on the internet as gospel.

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Amoris Laetitia 172: The Love of a Mother and a Father

amoris laetitia memeSections 172 through 177 deal with the topic of “the love of a mother and a father.” A first word from the Holy Father and a teaching he offered last Fall:

172. “Children, once born, begin to receive, along with nourishment and care, the spiritual gift of knowing with certainty that they are loved. This love is shown to them through the gift of their personal name, the sharing of language, looks of love and the brightness of a smile. In this way, they learn that the beauty of human relationships touches our soul, seeks our freedom, accepts the difference of others, recognizes and respects them as a partner in dialogue… Such is love, and it contains a spark of God’s love!”(Catechesis (14 October 2015)) Every child has a right to receive love from a mother and a father; both are necessary for a child’s integral and harmonious development. As the Australian Bishops have observed, each of the spouses “contributes in a distinct way to the upbringing of a child. Respecting a child’s dignity means affirming his or her need and natural right to have a mother and a father”.(Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Pastoral Letter Don’t Mess with Marriage (24 November 2015), 13)

If this is true, and I’m not arguing against it as such, it means that significant numbers of children who await adoption are denied this “right,” simply because older children are considered less desirable than newborns. While individual couples may discern that adoption isn’t a calling, Christian couples as a body would seem to be indicted for the lack of enthusiasm for adoption, especially those who promote so-called family issues.

Having a mother and a father is an ideal that is probably realized more often today than in previous generations with higher mortality rates.

We are speaking not simply of the love of father and mother as individuals, but also of their mutual love, perceived as the source of one’s life and the solid foundation of the family. Without this, a child could become a mere plaything. Husband and wife, father and mother, both “cooperate with the love of God the Creator, and are, in a certain sense, his interpreters”.(Gaudium et Spes, 50) They show their children the maternal and paternal face of the Lord. Together they teach the value of reciprocity, of respect for differences and of being able to give and take. If for some inevitable reason one parent should be lacking, it is important to compensate for this loss, for the sake of the child’s healthy growth to maturity.

This last sentence is sensible. There are reasons for the loss of mother or father. Having a mother and a father cannot be seen to be an absolute right. But it may well be enough of an objective good that some leeway is needed as the Church administers situations that are less than ideal, but have workable solutions within the bounds of child-rearing.


For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 171: Advice for Mothers

amoris laetitia memeToday, we wrap up the matter of “love and pregnancy” we began the day before yesterday with a word of encouragement from Pope Francis:

171. With great affection I urge all future mothers: keep happy and let nothing rob you of the interior joy of motherhood. Your child deserves your happiness. Don’t let fears, worries, other people’s comments or problems lessen your joy at being God’s means of bringing a new life to the world. Prepare yourself for the birth of your child, but without obsessing, and join in Mary’s song of joy: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant” (Lk 1:46-48). Try to experience this serene excitement amid all your many concerns, and ask the Lord to preserve your joy, so that you can pass it on to your child.

What do you think of this advice?

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 170: Acceptance and Respect

amoris laetitia memeAdvancements in genetics give human beings access to information about an unborn child. However, the deepest intimate part of a person is known by God alone.

170. Scientific advances today allow us to know beforehand what colour a child’s hair will be or what illnesses they may one day suffer, because all the somatic traits of the person are written in his or her genetic code already in the embryonic stage. Yet only the Father, the Creator, fully knows the child; he alone knows his or her deepest identity and worth.

Respect for life is not just the absence of abortion or infanticide. It involves a respect for every child as a person. If believers are unable to provide acceptance, then a petition for healing is needed:

Expectant mothers need to ask God for the wisdom fully to know their children and to accept them as they are. Some parents feel that their child is not coming at the best time. They should ask the Lord to heal and strengthen them to accept their child fully and wholeheartedly. It is important for that child to feel wanted.

Something important:

He or she is not an accessory or a solution to some personal need. A child is a human being of immense worth and may never be used for one’s own benefit. So it matters little whether this new life is convenient for you, whether it has features that please you, or whether it fits into your plans and aspirations.

Likewise, children are not possessions. Parents have no “right” to a child. They have no “rights” as such where children are concerned; only responsibilities.

For “children are a gift. Each one is unique and irreplaceable… We love our children because they are children, not because they are beautiful, or look or think as we do, or embody our dreams. We love them because they are children. A child is a child”.(Catechesis (11 February 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 12 February 2015, p. 8) The love of parents is the means by which God our Father shows his own love. He awaits the birth of each child, accepts that child unconditionally, and welcomes him or her freely.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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