Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Is this elevator going up? Music for May 28th

Hello St. Francis.
This week the Music Ministry is armed with two themes as we celebrate the 7th Week of Easter and also the Ascension of Jesus.  As you know, the disciples were a group that was filled with a great deal of fear.  They were fearful when Jesus left them on Good Friday.  They did not know where to turn for the answers and felt alone.  They were also fearful after the Ascension.  Once again, they hid from the world and could not discern the next step in their lives and ministry.  Fortunately for us, we know that soon the Holy Spirit will descend upon them and start a fire that his illuminated our faith for 2,000 years.  After the Pentecost, they went out to all nations preaching Jesus' message of love, forgiveness and peace.

I can't imagine those days between when Jesus ascended and the Pentecost.  I guess we all know the feeling of looking at a task that we know will be tremendously long and difficult.  A task that requires our attention, our time and our talents.  I think we can all relate to the feeling of not knowing where to start or in some cases, having no idea where the task will lead.  I think that is how the Apostles must have felt.  Kind of lost and kind of overwhelmed.  So, if I may offer a suggestion, in our times of fear and when we feel like we may not be ready or good enough to complete the mission laid before us, it is then that we should lean on...you guessed it, FAITH.  Our faith can jolt us to a place of confidence.  A confidence that comes from God.  A knowledge that through our surrender to God's will, the path and the steps of that path will be laid in front of us by God, and, we know we will not walk alone.  This, my friends, is what JOY means.

This week, we praise the Lord with an energy and a spirit that can only be fueled by God's grace.  Although from time to time we may also be fearful of our call to evangelize the world, we know that with God nothing is impossible and we know that within our parish community, we will find the support and encouragement to complete the tasks laid before us .  Let us all sing of Jesus' wonderful name as we praise and exalt our Father and thank Him for the light and the fire he has created within us.
On this special weekend, I encourage you to SING WITH YOUR HEART as well as your VOICE. CLAP YOUR HANDS and come to full participation in the prayer we pray.
I can't wait to pray and praise with you this weekend.
Peace,
Jim

Here are the links to your recordings.  As usual, we will certainly add our own stamp to each of these songs.  

Processional - He Is Exalted 


Communion - In This Place

Communion Meditation - Go Light Your World

Recessional - Every Praise
Hello St. Francis,

This week our parish family will be celebrating a very big day in the lives of many of our young people as they receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time.  I don't know about you but my 1st Communion memories have stood the test of time.  I remember with great fondness many moments of my own 1st Communion...(MANY years ago).  For me, I was blessed to have my entire family present and we celebrated this occasion as momentous day in my life.  Many things have changed in our church since I received my 1st Communion but, thankfully, many things have remained.  For example, I remember that we were asked to get dressed back up in our 1st Communion outfits for the next week's Mass so that the parish could see how handsome and beautiful we looked.  For some reason, I remember watching the congregation watch us receive Communion with big smiles on their faces.  I asked myself and to a certain extent continue to ask myself this question.  Why did they look at me with such reverence and joy when all of them were allowed to receive communion any time they wanted? 

I think that one of the aspects of 1st Communion that we all cherish is the innocence and awe of the children who receive it.  We see a faith in them that does not question, that does not fear and that is filled with life and expectation.  There is a reverence and a joy about these children that not only bring us joy, but also bring us back to a time when maybe we felt the same way about it.  Where did it go?  Have we from time to time allowed this beautiful and traditional ritual of our faith become simply a part of a routine?  You know what I mean...we sit, we stand, we say Amen, we sing, we receive Communion and then we are off to continue life as we know it.  I think this type of pattern is easy to fall into.  I would like to suggest something to all of us.

This week, remember your own 1st Communion.  Remember the anticipation and the excitement.  Remember the joy and the reverence.  Remember the celebration and the family.  And then, when you process with your parish family to receive Jesus, think of these children who will receive Jesus in the way we are all called to.  It is true that taking the routine we have gotten into and transforming it back into the ritual it is will take some effort.  It will in some ways force us to be more engaged, more prayerful and more filled with wonder and awe.  But, when you think about it, isn't that what it should be?  Isn't that what will increase our capacity to truly appreciate the gift we have in Eucharist, in the Mass and in the community we call home? 

So, this week, let the wisdom and faith of these small children inspire you to see this precious gift with the eyes of a child and with the faith to know that when we do receive Eucharist, we grow even closer to Jesus, and by being closer to Jesus, he will bless us with the grace to see all things with the optimism and innocence of a child.

God Bless...Please Pray for our young children who will receive Jesus for the first time this weekend.

Jim

Music for April 17th


Psalm 118

Monday, May 15, 2017

What A Gift!!! Music for May 21st

Hello St. Francis,

This week our parish family will be celebrating a very big day in the lives of many of our young people as they receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time.  I don't know about you but my 1st Communion memories have stood the test of time.  I remember with great fondness many moments of my own 1st Communion...(MANY years ago).  For me, I was blessed to have my entire family present and we celebrated this occasion as momentous day in my life.  Many things have changed in our church since I received my 1st Communion but, thankfully, many things have remained.  For example, I remember that we were asked to get dressed back up in our 1st Communion outfits for the next week's Mass so that the parish could see how handsome and beautiful we looked.  For some reason, I remember watching the congregation watch us receive Communion with big smiles on their faces.  I asked myself and to a certain extent continue to ask myself this question.  Why did they look at me with such reverence and joy when all of them were allowed to receive communion any time they wanted? 

I think that one of the aspects of 1st Communion that we all cherish is the innocence and awe of the children who receive it.  We see a faith in them that does not question, that does not fear and that is filled with life and expectation.  There is a reverence and a joy about these children that not only bring us joy, but also bring us back to a time when maybe we felt the same way about it.  Where did it go?  Have we from time to time allowed this beautiful and traditional ritual of our faith become simply a part of a routine?  You know what I mean...we sit, we stand, we say Amen, we sing, we receive Communion and then we are off to continue life as we know it.  I think this type of pattern is easy to fall into.  I would like to suggest something to all of us.

This week, remember your own 1st Communion.  Remember the anticipation and the excitement.  Remember the joy and the reverence.  Remember the celebration and the family.  And then, when you process with your parish family to receive Jesus, think of these children who will receive Jesus in the way we are all called to.  It is true that taking the routine we have gotten into and transforming it back into the ritual it is will take some effort.  It will in some ways force us to be more engaged, more prayerful and more filled with wonder and awe.  But, when you think about it, isn't that what it should be?  Isn't that what will increase our capacity to truly appreciate the gift we have in Eucharist, in the Mass and in the community we call home? 

So, this week, let the wisdom and faith of these small children inspire you to see this precious gift with the eyes of a child and with the faith to know that when we do receive Eucharist, we grow even closer to Jesus, and by being closer to Jesus, he will bless us with the grace to see all things with the optimism and innocence of a child.

God Bless...Please Pray for our young children who will receive Jesus for the first time this weekend.

Jim

Music for 1st Communion Mass at 9am



Music for 11am and 5pm Sunday

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My Prayer...Music for the 5th Sunday of Easter

Hello St. Francis,

I was talking with a friend recently about how reluctant she is to ask God for things. Me, I’m a terrible nuisance, and nothing is too trivial for me to pray about, from the common cold to parking spots. But I often forget to ask for things that really matter, from big things like the growth of God’s kingdom to little things like daily help with my anxieties and ungodliness.
So why don’t we ask God for things? Sometimes we may think that our requests seem too trivial to bother him with.  Sometimes we may be protecting ourselves from disappointment and doubt. Sometimes maybe we can even feel like we’re being discontented, selfish or greedy.  Often, I think that we may assume that our prayers can’t affect any outcome or we think we can handle it ourselves. And finally, we assume God is unwilling or unable to help.

So why ask God for things—even trivial things, even things we’re uncertain he wants us to have?
As I talked with my friend, I realized that asking is a step towards relationship, not a step away from it. It’s better to ask and deal with our disappointment and doubt if God says “no” than never to ask anything at all, at least we’re dealing with God, not ignoring him! Asking is an expression of dependence: when we ask, we rely on God rather than ourselves.

It is tempting to manipulate a situation so that what we desire comes to pass. However, taking a situation into our own hands usually leads to conflict, frustration, and discouragement. In order to truly seek God’s will and not our own, we should consider the benefits of receiving our request and the benefits of not receiving our request.

In this way, our expectations balance out and we can pray with a heart surrendered to God, trusting that He will do what is best for us and most glorifying to Him. When we have just as many reasons to thank God for not granting something to us as we have for receiving something, then we can take true delight in seeing God perform His perfect will, whatever it may be.

As we grow, our prayers will grow bigger too; but God wants us to come as we are, trusting he will hear us, like children to their father and mother, bringing both our big and small concerns to him.
So, I think there is something we can all pray for together.  Moms!!!  Whoever these people are or were in our lives, this week, we remember them in a special way.  

So, my friends, let us pray:

Good and Gentle God, we pray in gratitude for our mothers and for all the women of theory who have joined with you in the wonder of bringing forth new life. You who became human through a woman, grant to all mothers the courage they need to face the uncertain future that life with children always brings.


Give them the strength to live and to be loved in return, not perfectly, but humanly. Give them the faithful support of husband, family and friends as they care for the physical and spiritual growth of their children. Give them joy and delight in their children to sustain them through the trials of motherhood. Most of all, give them the wisdom to turn to you for help when they need it most. Amen.

MUSIC FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

PROCESSIONAL: PLENTY GOOD ROOM





Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Counting Sheep...Music for May 7th

Hello St. Francis,
I remember in many of my old classrooms there was that picture of Jesus with a lamb on his shoulders on the back wall. After a while I didn't really see it anymore. It was just a pleasant portrait on the back wall of our room. It was and is such a comforting image.  Jesus, leaving behind the 99 to find the lost sheep, maybe that sheep was me.
Unfortunately, that placement and purpose is the exact opposite of the way this image functions in the Gospel of John that we will hear this weekend. It was meant to be at the forefront of readers' minds and it was not just intended to comfort. A really smart person told me one time to not confuse familiarity with understanding. That warning came to mind this time when I read and reflected on the passage about Jesus as Good Shepherd. It turns out that the Good Shepherd is not an image intended to comfort children. It is an image intended to inspire the faith of adults in difficult times.  It is an image meant to counter forces that would isolate them from each other and undermine their faith in Christ. 
Now, I don't want to be a fire and brimstone type person, but, let's think about it.  The sheep faced many dangers in their existence.  The one constant that connects all of those dangers is that the sheep were away from their shepherd.  We are taught that the sheep know their shepherd's voice, but, do I?  I think that if we all really think about it we will admit that we like the comfortable, heart warming Shepherd that is pictured so often.  I think that we are challenged by the Shepherd who vows to separate the sheep from the goats.  I think it is east to believe that the Good Shepherd will care for his flock, especially all of the different kinds of "lost" sheep that we see everyday in our lives.  It isn't quite as easy to believe that we are called to be the coworkers with the Shepherd.  
In the end, it is often worth an evaluation of our own faith and conscience to make sure we are not anchored in a comfortable and unrealistic familiarity, but, rather continue to challenge ourselves to dig deep for a true understanding.  Easy?  Not at all.  But, either is being a shepherd.
Jim
Music for May 7th

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Reward of Patience...Music for the 3rd Sunday of Easter

Hello St. Francis,

So, over the past few years I have spent a bunch of time reflecting on the Gospel of the Road to Emmaus that we will hear this weekend.  I was pretty sure I covered it from every conceivable angle. But, as Scripture tends to do, a new thought entered my mind.  In case you did not know, I am the proud father of two incredible children.  I remember people telling me before they were born how difficult being a parent is.  I thought I understood until I actually became a parent.  Don't get me wrong, being a parent is the most amazing and rewarding thing in my life, but that doesn't mean it is simple.  I think I have boiled down what makes it difficult to a few things, one of which I want to talk to you about this week.

I know that it is true for me and I assume that most parents feel the same way, if we could, we would try to take away all of the things in our children's lives that would cause pain.  As a parent, the concept of trial and error and "let them figure it out for themselves" with your kids is so difficult.  I mean, who wants to see their children struggle.  If it were up to me, I would download all of the stupid mistakes I made and all of the experience I have gained over the course of my life directly into my kids.  I want them to have the answers and, maybe selfishly, I don't want them to struggle with the questions.

So this brings me to Emmaus.  Here is the point.  Why didn't Jesus just tell them who he was?  Why did he go through the entire dissertation?  Why not just download the faith they needed to see into their minds and hearts?  Why the struggle?

It occurs to me that the really solid foundations in my life were developed over time when I eventually came to my own revelation, in my own time.  Jesus knew that the impact of this moment could only be realized on their time...not his.  He recognized that just telling them who he was, just giving them the answer would not profoundly change their lives the way that it did when they came to the understanding on their own.  He was patient, he let them reflect, contemplate, just be.  In the end, their eyes were opened as much by their own epiphany as by the breaking of the bread.

And so it is with us.  I think sometimes we seek the answers so quickly, we may forget the profound nature of the question.  When I wish for my children not to have to grind over the questions that I had to, I do not offer them the same power in the decision that they make.  Of course we want life to be simple, and 1+1 will always still equal 2, but, in our struggle, with patience and perseverance, we too can recognize Jesus, we too can be transformed by the miracle of the epiphanies in our life that can only come with time.

Jim

Processional - Standin On The Promises
Psalm - 16 Keep Me Safe
Offertory - Bless That Wonderful Name
Communion - In The Breaking of the Bread
Meditation - Worthy Is The Lamb
Recessional - Rejoice

Monday, April 10, 2017

We are all a part of the power of our prayer?

Hello St. Francis,

So, we have made it.  It's almost time for the Easter Bunny to come and relieve you for your Chocolate deprivation...or whatever else you gave up for Lent.  I hope that these few weeks have been ones filled with digging deeper into your faith and finding God more clearly in all things.  Lent is a time of preparation that allows us the time to discern what Jesus' gift of the Eucharist, his passion and death, and resurrection mean to us and how seriously we take our call to discipleship and to carry our crosses with grace and dignity.  We know how the story ends, triumphantly!!!  But, the only thing that makes a happy ending better is when we understand the struggle that had to be overcome to reach that ending.

We have been so blest in many ways at St. Francis.  As I think about what we enter into this week, my thoughts turn to the example we have been given in the person of Fr. Neil.  At St. Francis, we had the opportunity to grow in our faith by participating in Fr. Neil's witness, but, we also got the great privilege of walking with him on his road to Calvary.  It was our mission to comfort and strengthen him as he carried his cross of sickness.  The only thing is though, even though we all knew he was sick, weak and struggling, you would never know it when you engaged him in conversation or celebrated liturgy with him.  That voice filled with such power and that faith that just spilled over and enveloped each person he celebrated with. This week we will hear about  the suffering Jesus had to endure on his road to the cross.  For many years, I thought of this story in a pretty dark and dim way.   There was guilt, sadness and a real sense of disconnection from God.  Now, having thought about this and having experienced the powerful witness of faith given to us by Fr. Neil, I see the cross, I see Fr. Neil's cross and I see my cross as a wonderful privilege.  One that will lead me and hopefully others by my example to the revelation of God's unending love for all of us.


So, this week, make a real effort to come to your parish home as we remember this story.  The story of Jesus' cross, the reality of our own crosses and the faith of Fr. Neil which lead him, and us to resurrection.  Let the words, the scriptures, the music and the community itself open our minds, and our hearts to know how much God really loves me and you.  Really know it!!!  Because, it is when we realize how much God loves us, that we will truly realize the purpose, the vocation and the ministry of Fr. Neil.  A vocation fixed on love.  A mission that brings to reality the ultimate truth.  God Is Love.

Blessings!!!  Pray for someone this week!!!
Jim