Sunday, December 27, 2015

12 Days of Christmas, Drummer Boys, Myrrh and New Year's Resolutions...Music for the Epiphany

Hello St. Francis.
I hope this message finds you winding down from an amazing Christmas celebration and possibly preparing for New Year's and/or Feast of the Three Kings celebrations this week.  It does go fast, huh? Prepare the house, the gifts, Advent, wait, wait, wait and then BOOM!!! it has come and gone.  Even as I sit here writing this blog, I feel as though the passion with which I prepared for Christmas as well as the prayerfulness with which I made a concerted effort to kick up a notch has already been attacked by the NEXT BIG THING.  So, here I am, a little chunkier (Italian Food), a little poorer (two kids) and ready to start 2016 with a bang or a thud...can't make up my mind.
Now, I know that the whole New Year's Resolution thing is written about over and over again so I am not going to give you the full proof way to keep that promise to lose 20 lbs. or exercise more or call your parents or your brother once a week.  We've all been there and done that.  I really would be barking up a dead tree if I concentrated on the whole "Keep the Christmas Spirit alive the whole year round" thing because I think that would just make me want to smack myself with the leftover Lasagna noodles from Christmas.  So, what wisdom can I impart on you this week?  Not much.
What I can say is that as I go through my social media and posts, I have been seeing a lot of funny things.  Simple yet profound.  One of my favorites: "If you want the world to be a better place than stop being a butthead".  I laugh because I am a boy and boys laugh every time someone says the word butt.  Now that I think about it, maybe these posts are on to something.  Let's analyze.

1.  I am treating others a little bit nicer - That can check off the Christmas all year round thing.
2.  I need to be more selfless and caring - That could count as exercise...for the heart.
3.  I will forgive and stop sweating the small stuff - That could be losing the 20 lbs of  negativity I build up each year by not being that way.

Maybe we're on to something.  So as we celebrate the New Year and The Three Kings and we hug and kiss those in our life who we love, maybe we can share a gift like the Magi did.  Maybe we can start a trend to change hearts, keep the Christmas spirit around all year long and make a New Year's Resolution to be a little kinder.  So, Happy New Year to my extended Church Community.  I wish you happiness and health for you and your family this year and...I ask us to consider making this promise to ourselves:

In 2016, I will make the world a better place by not being a BUTTHEAD!!!


Music for the Epiphany...Big Day...Let's Sing Away!!!

Processional - We Three Kings -

Psalm 72 -

Offertory - Behold the Star -

Communion - What Child Is This -

Recessional - Joy To The World -

Monday, December 14, 2015

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town!!! - Music for the Weekend of December 19 and 20

Hello St. Francis,
I hope this message finds you stress free and spiritually prepared for the coming of Christ at Christmas!!!  Yup, me neither.  Still running around like my hair is on fire trying to make all of the last minute preparations.  As a Music Minister, this time of the year takes on a whole new set of stresses, but I would be naive to think that my stresses are more stressful than yours.  As a matter of fact, have you found yourself in that conversation yet?  Two people facing off to see who has the most to do!!!  "I have 73 people coming and I don't know where my tree topper is and I have to wait in a 14 hour line at the store and then it closed and....."  "You think that is bad well...blah...blah...blah..."  You know what, it's a tie!!! Everyone is stressed!!!  The good news is that regardless of whether you cook the very best Christmas roast of all time, or whether you remembered to send all 14,000 Christmas Cards or whether the neighbor has better lights than you do, in just a few days, Good Ol' Santa will be moseying his extra large bag of toys into town.  Thank God!!!  It's over.  

Not to sound judgmental but I don't understand how people can dislike Christmas or this time of year.  Is it busy?  Yes.  Does it drive you nuts?  You bet it does.  Are people who dislike this time of year afraid that they are on Santa's naughty list?  What would the big guy from the North Pole tell you?  Ho! Ho! Ho! Yes, I think he would laugh at our stress.  Does that statement make you hot enough to melt Frosty?  So let me give you this disclaimer before the following statement...No one cares how perfectly your packages are wrapped or whether your Christmas shindig is the best of ALL TIME!!!  So, why do we place our Christmas spirit in those things?  Shouldn't it just be...I don't know, FUN!!!!!

Our Jolly Old St. Nick may have the answer...indulge me here.

S stands for solidarity.  Stand together to serve others and appreciate the traditions of your family and faith.
A stands for appreciate.  More appreciation = Less scepticism
N stands for neighbor.  Tell them that you love them (or at least fake it till you make it)
T stands for Tears.  Let yourself be open to the true emotion of this time
A stands for adaptable.  Don't sweat the small stuff.

In the end, Santa Claus is coming to town and he won't leave coal in our stocking if his cookies are a little burnt or if those stockings aren't perfectly matched.  The only coal in our stocking are the pieces that we put in ourself.  Loosen up!!! Santa Claus Is Coming To Town!!!


Recessional - Ready The Way -

Monday, December 7, 2015

My Participation at My Parish....Music for December 12-13

Hello St. Francis,

Today, a little basic Catholic philosophical education.
Have you ever wondered or even been a little bit confused or angry when someone may say something like "I am saved because I have taken Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior." and then you see them living a life that isn't necessarily "without blemish".  Don't get me wrong, everybody messes up and most of us mess up the same things over and over again...but we feel "Saved" don't we?  This begs a question.  If I am already saved then why do I bother living a life of selflessness, prayer or even common good deeds when I could be spending all of my time looking out for #1?  If I am "Saved"  regardless of anything I do (and we know that we can not save ourselves) why don't we just throw the big guy upstairs a fist bump and then live anyway we want.

Well, here is the philosophy behind all of us being saved.  I am called to love God, to serve God and others and to worship God NOT because "my salvation" rests in the balance or because we have to accumulate a certain number of points to punch my ticket to eternal happiness.  Instead, understanding that I have already been saved, I love, serve and worship God as well as serve my neighbor because it is my delight...not my duty.

You see, there are three big misconceptions about our salvation.
1.  There is nothing I can do to earn my salvation.
2.  Because our salvation has been won for us, we owe God some indescribable debt that should lead us to a life of misery and sacrifice, without joy or any sort of happiness.
3.  Because God has saved us, I can live any kind of life I choose and it will not matter because I am Saved!!!

None of these comes close to the reality.  Look at it this way.  If someone gives you a gift that you know you will never be able to repay, would your admiration and appreciation for that gift cause you to use it in the very best way possible?  If that gift solved "all of life's problems" would you forget about the person who gave it to you?  If you could perform some small act or say some small words to that person to express your gratitude and show them your appreciation?  Of course.  It makes sense.  We use our gift to the best of our ability not because we can ever repay it but because...and here is the big one...we will never be asked to repay it.  A gift, freely given with no if's, and's or but's about it.  That is what it means to be "Saved".  To know you have been given this gift  means that you use your salvation to love, serve and worship God because it's what people do who appreciate a gift.

Now, how does this effect the title of this blog 'My Participation at My Parish".  Think about this...
If you love your parish community and know that regardless of the baggage you carry, the difficulties that you bring or the commitment that you make, your parish will always welcome you, inspire you and invite you to a fuller relationship with God and with each other, that is a gift that you can not repay.  If we choose not to come to church or to give of our time, talent and treasure to our church because we know that the church will welcome us and inspire us anyway, aren't we in a small way just like that person who says "I'm saved" and lives a selfish life.

I think that we some times take our salvation, our parish and our parish community for granted.  We think they will always be there and we place much greater expectations on our church than we do on ourselves.  Here is the truth.  I need you to be at church.   need you to pray with me and for me.  I need you to sing the songs, I need you to shake my hand and I need you to give of yourself to our community.  St. Francis or any other parish family you choose to share yourself with is not the same place without you.  You are that important to me, to us.  You see, I can't repay my debt to God either.  I struggle to be the person God asks me to be the same way that you do.  I am a better person, a better parishioner and a better Christian with you in my life.

During this Advent season, make a promise to me, to your parish and to your God that you will make a commitment to recognizing the profound impact you have on the good of our community and commit to make the community a real priority in your life.  We miss you when you are not here.  So be grateful for the gift of your parish.
Thanks for listening.

Music for December 12-13

Processional - Emmanuel -

Psalm - Cry Out With Joy -

Offertory - I've Got That Joy -

Communion - Sacred Silence -

Recessional - Soon and Very Soon -


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Keeping Christ In Christmas - Music for December 5th and 6th

Hello St. Francis,
I am excited to tell you that my home is officially decorated for the Christmas season.  Lights, wreathes, Christmas stuffed animals and a big tree right in the middle of my living room.  When I first got married, both of my grandmothers gave us as a wedding gift beautiful Christmas Manger scenes.  One, is crystal and quite frankly I am afraid of breaking it every time I open up the box ( I can be a bull in a china shop) and the other is a children's set with plastic and durable figures.  I appreciated these because as I grew up there was always a manger in just about every room.  I also felt like the "kids" set was a little premature as we had just gotten married and it was July.  To this very day, my grandparent amaze me with their wisdom.  The lesson that they were trying to give to me is one that I am just beginning to realize.

This year, as my kids were helping us decorate the tree, we got to those manger sets and my daughter began to talk about how she was learning about how much Jesus loved her because He came to earth to be friends with us.  My son asked me who was Jesus' mommy and daddy? And, who were all these other figures that we were putting near them?  And so, the conversation began.  It wasn't a conversation about what they wanted Santa to bring them or which decoration should go where, or, whose stocking got hung in the most conspicuous place.  It even wasn't about "Lucy", our personal "Elf on the Shelf".  The conversation was about Jesus.  As young as they are I felt as though they began to understand something about God and about Christmas.  They are still looking forward to Kris Kringle's annual visit but this year, they want to not just leave cookies and milk (and carrots for the reindeer) by the tree.  This year, they want to also leave a present for Jesus.  I told them that just by remembering how much Jesus loved them, they are giving Him the only gift He wants.  They were amazed!!!  All they have to do is love Jesus and that makes him happy?  I said, "That's it".  My son said "Do we love him the way we love you and mom?"  I said, "That's Right".  "So, I am going to love Jesus as much as I can"  he said.  Then my daughter said "and we should probably try to be nice to other people too since Jesus asks us to do that".

Maybe it was my grandmother's wisdom or maybe it was just the fact that the manger sits right next to our Christmas Tree just like they did at my grandparents house and as it always did at my parents house but I'm sure glad I got that gift.  Maybe, when my kids are all grown up and their grandmother's give them a manger they will remember this conversation that they had with their parents and teach their kids about how much Jesus loves them too.


Recessional - Ready The Way -

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Art of Thanksgiving and New Beginnings... Music for the 1st Sunday of Advent

Hi St. Francis,

So, now that it is common knowledge that Parmesan cheese has more tryptophan in one teaspoon than is found in a pound of turkey which destroys my after dinner nap time on Thanksgiving, I guess I have to come up with something else to do.  Oh yes, I will be watching some football...after Thanksgiving Day Mass at St. Francis at 10:00 am!!!  I don't know about you but this fall has just flown by.  I am still thinking about the warm sunshine of summer and then BANG!!!  There are no more leaves on my trees and frozen turkeys abound at the local store.  I do love Thanksgiving.  It is a time to really spend with the family.  However, things certainly have changed since "back in the day" every night was family diner night.  I guess we can lament over that but life is just different than it was even a few years ago.

So often I hear it said that we need to remember what we are thankful for around this time of year. As a matter of fact, St. Ignatius called "lack of gratitude" one of the worst sins.  So, we put on our nice clothes, maybe even say a prayer before dinner, a dinner that took 5 hours to make and 20 minutes to eat and we act thankful.  Seems kind of shallow, but, nothing is meaningless when it includes Pumpkin Pie!!!  So, how do we go from acting grateful to actually being grateful?

In our churches, schools and places of business we are seeing lots of boxes to put some canned goods in.  It makes us feel good to help those in need.  But, what if we actually skipped the nap, the Macy's Parade or dare I say the football game and actually spent some time being grateful by serving those who have so much less to be grateful for.  Everyone knows about the "local soup kitchen" that serves Thanksgiving Dinner to the poor.  This is what I know, those folks who have so much less than I are so much more grateful for the little they have than I am for the abundance of blessings in my life.

On top of all of this, this weekend marks the beginning of Advent, the new beginning of the Church Year.  During this time we are called to prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus.  Maybe its time we did some preparing.  I guess when your refrigerator and your wallet is empty, you learn to appreciate even the smallest thing when it's in there.  I know that as I mindlessly stare at my full refrigerator, I come away thinking, "There's nothing in here to eat".  Do you think that could work with our own sense of entitlement and our "right" to be in a place where we have freedom, prosperity, comfort and health?  I think that I want to be grateful because I see the true joy in the eyes and hearts of those who are truly grateful.  What is hard for me is understanding that in order to be truly grateful that I maybe have to recognize things that I am not entitled to or that I haven't earned and that I certainly do not deserve and then pray for the wisdom to have even a small idea of what my life would be like if I did not have these things.

So, when we go to that "Soup Kitchen" I guess the question is, who is really giving and who is really receiving?  When we realize how lucky we are, maybe we will begin to understand what Thanksgiving is supposed to be.  Maybe, our new beginning can be an epiphany of the abundant blessings we have and maybe with that knowledge, we will see God, ourselves and others in a whole new light.  For when we empty ourselves, we are filled with God's love and grace.  That is the way I want to start off my year.


Music for the 1st week of Advent!!!  Sing Away St. Francis.

Processional - Emmanuel -

Psalm 25 -

Offertory - While We Are Waiting -

Communion - Sacred Silence -

Recessional - Soon and Very Soon -

Monday, November 16, 2015

Centering Our Prayer...Music for The Feast Of Christ The King

Hello St. Francis,
This past week, our world was once again shaken by the darkness of evil as we watched in horror the events that took place in France on Friday but also throughout the week in other places where the media coverage was not as extensive.  Reading a newspaper, scrolling through social media and even in our daily conversations, we have been inundated with horrific news.  At the same time, during this time of the year, we are also called to support and remember those less fortunate than us on a local and global level.  We hear stories of the difficult crosses that people and families bear during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.  Sometimes, we are even called to arms when talking about Red coffee cups.   So much going on and so much to pray for.

I don't know about you but sometimes my prayer life imitates my real life.  When I am overwhelmed with a list of tasks I have to accomplish at work or at home, I sometimes feel defeated or at least I get that "What do I do first" type of feeling.  Usually, that means I get very little accomplished, not because of a lack of effort, but, because I run around doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. There isn't really a priority, it's just whatever comes to my mind I try to do.

I feel that way sometimes when I pray too.  I have a list as long as my arm of things that all deserve my full attention in prayer but, because I have so many things on my list, none of my prayers really mirrors the sentiment in my heart.  I want to be wholeheartedly engaged with my prayer, but, what should I pray for first?  Am I asking too much?  And, Oh yeah, there are some things in my own life that I'd like to lift up as well.

When my life is overwhelming, I find it helpful to make a thorough list of things I have to do.  I don't just list the title, I develop a plan.  This thing must be done on this day and this is how I plan on accomplishing it.  For me, small successes, small goals and small actions, when focused add up to larger successes, larger goals and larger actions being accomplished.  The key...One Thing At A Time!!!

May I suggest to you, as we certainly all have a tremendous amount to pray for these days, that we practice that same model.  Today, my prayer was for a single individual whose life has been forever changed by the horrible events of the weekend.  I centered myself on being a prayer companion to one Father who lost a son.  I don't know his name, where he is from, or what he believes in, but I know what it means to be a father and I can not imagine the support I would need if I were in his shoes.  My prayer was focused, it was centered in solidarity, love and selflessness.  I have no doubt that God can put together the pieces of my prayer puzzle much better than I ever could.  I just really believe that in removing my list, my burdens and my self from my prayer, God will grant me the wisdom to know what to pray for tomorrow.  And, who knows, maybe the answers to our questions come in our faith that God will never need us to ask.  Maybe, if we just center our prayer on something simple, the complex won't seem so impossible.

If you would like, you may join me in my prayer for today.

Holy God,
I come to you today after once again witnessing pure evil as the tragic events in Paris unfolded.  I have so many questions and doubts, we ask Why?                     So many of my own wounds have been reopened as I think about the evil that     was carried out in our country, when our own hearts were broken.                   I may come to you seeking  justice. A justice that will rid the world of all           evil and convert the hearts of those who would be the cause of it.                      All of these feelings are valid and real in my soul that seek to be anchored in your hope. However, today, let me put aside all of my questions, all of my pain and all of my desires.   
Instead let me focus on the mother or father, the sister or brother, 
the son or daughter who at this moment has lost someone who they loved.  
Let me pray today for just one heart to be consoled, for one family to be healed and for one person to know that I love them and stand in solidarity with them, ready to help them carry their painful cross today.  
Today I am asked to put aside all of my intentions and journey with one person who needs to be brought out of the darkness of evil into the light of God’s compassion.  
Today, let me be their "anchor of hope".

We ask this through Jesus Christ, who has defeated evil by his Cross.  Amen.

Music for November 21-22 (Christ The King)
Processional - He Is Exalted -
Offertory - Shout To The Lord -
Communion - How Great Is Our God -

Monday, November 9, 2015

Are You In The Spirit? - Music for the weekend of November 14 and 15

Dear St. Francis,

One of the best things that can happen at any church is when a person or a congregation is moved, inspired, challenged and strengthened.  Very often we hear Jesus speak to us through Scripture and our hearts burn.  Sometimes, we really are engaged in the prayers over the bread and wine and realize the great miracle of love that happens in front of our eyes.  Sometimes, our minds and our hearts are fed by the incredible words of a homily, one that seems to speak specifically to us and sometimes, a beautiful song of praise or prayerful musical meditation really touches us and brings us to a place we call "In The Spirit".  As a Music Minister, those are the times when I thank God for blessing me with with the opportunity He has.

Let me suggest another way to get "In The Spirit".  We are all called to be ministers to our brothers and sisters.  That means, that every individual's role at the Liturgy is essential to the "Spirit" of the Liturgy.  There are so many ways to connect even more deeply to your parish family through ministering to them.  How?  Well, have you considered proclaiming scripture?  Have you thought about becoming a Eucharistic Minister or joining the choir or serving as a Minister of Hospitality.  Those are tangible ways to become the minister we are all called to be.  We hear about these things all of the time and they are all very important but, at the same time, they are not the only ways we can be a minister.  How about this...what if when you entered the church this week, you found a person or a family you don't know and sit next to them, shake their hand, introduce yourself and then...PRAY with them.  I don't know about you, but, that sounds like a ministry to me.

I want to share something with you.  I think I speak for all Music Ministers when I say that our ministry is our best prayer.  We have decided to sacrifice our time and share our talent to make music.  That music can be upbeat praise and worship music and it can be meditative and prayerful.  If you love your Music Ministers (and I hope you do) and you wish to show your gratitude for the inspiration they add to Liturgy, here is how you do it.

1.  SING!!! - Take a deep breath and let it fly.  When you sing with us, you connect to us, you pray with us.  That is our ministry!!!  We are a ministry focused on prayer and supporting the Liturgy.

2.  MEDITATE!!! - When the beautiful melody or inspiring words of a song moves you, that is God's gift to you through us.  It again is a part of our ministry to try to provide you with moments to reflect and find peace.

Now, at SFDS as you all know, we rock it out to Songs of Praise and Gospel tunes that encourage you to tap your feet and clap your hands.  When we are groovin', groove with us.  Sing, clap, be "In The Spirit".  We smile and we move because we are praising God!!!  What we are NOT doing is performing for you.  We are leaders of song not concert performers.  Don't get me wrong we want to be good...really good...but not to receive a standing ovation, but, to share our ministry.  We are so blest at SFDS to have a congregation who is incredibly appreciative and supportive of the music.  We can't thank you enough for that.  But, speaking for All Music Ministers, we will feel your love best when you praise God with us!!!  So, get "In The Spirit" and be a minister, thank those who have answered the call to ministry, invite others to our worship and then "Let The Spirit Move You".


Songs for  11/14-15
Processional - Table of Plenty -

Offertory Medley - Now Is The Time -

                           People Get Ready -

Recessional - Soon and Very Soon -

Monday, November 2, 2015

Give Till It Hurts - Music for November 7-8

Hello St. Francis,
One of the questions I get from students and parishioners alike is "Why does God need money?"
Interesting question.  Simple answer, God does not need money.  Never did, although, I'm sure Jesus made a few bucks as a custom carpenter.  If you have ever had custom cabinets put in, you know that they are not cheap.  So, why?  The concept of tithing (giving a percentage of your income to the church) is one that has long since been followed by the majority of congregations.  It can be uncomfortable to talk about especially since at least in most cases, every cent earned is necessary to live the life we have grown accustomed to.  Really, I have met very few people who just throw money away.  Most of us work hard and struggle to save enough for college tuition, weddings and maybe, if we are lucky, retirement.  Most of us spend a significant time "grinding" and it is a sacrifice being away from the family and the home that our work provides.  I have come to value the time I get to spend with my family because they are certainly the most important thing, but, at the same time, if I don't "grind" the amount of hours I do, we won't be able to afford the things that we want to have.  I'm not talking about extravagant things, I speak of a home in a nice neighborhood, dance lessons, sports, quality after school programs and maybe...dare I say...a vacation to spend time with them.
Yet, at every turn someone is asking us for something, someone wants me to dig into my pocket and give.

I don't think that most people have a fundamental problem with supporting organizations, including the church.  I think that at our core, most of us are quite generous with not only our treasure but with our time and talent as well.  For most of us, it isn't a selfish thing to want to keep at least most of what we earn.  If you ask most folks, if they hit the lottery, one of the top things they would do is donate money to people in need or to a cause that they care about.  I think we are  pretty generous.

So, why?

All throughout Scripture, Jesus challenges those who have much to give it away.  But, I never thought He wanted us to be poor.  He always showed kindness to the poor but I never thought He disliked the rich.  I think we find the answer in one of my favorite passages from Scripture.  Jesus lifts up the example of a woman who put a couple of coins in the 'basket" not because of the amount but because of the difficult choice she had to make to sacrifice.  I am coming to realize that there are some things in my life that are not absolutely necessary.  They are good things. The really good cup of coffee...and then a second, the $5, 10, 20 I spend each week on things that I don't need and that while they may be nice in that moment, never make it to my "Spending Log".  Maybe, God asks for money because He knows that we think about money more than we think about Him.  Maybe, if we challenged ourselves to be even more selfless, we will appreciate the things we enjoy doing even more.  "Money is the root of all evil" is a fallacy.  Money is neither good nor evil.  I think we have an opportunity to see God more clearly in our lives if we make the choice to think about Him every time we pull out our wallet.  God would never want us to be in a situation where we could not provide for the life we have dreamed of, I think he just wants to be a part of the dream.

See You Soon!!!

Here are this week's Tunes.
PS - We are going to be learning some new Mass Parts.  I have included recordings of them in the playlist.

Processional - Come, Now Is The time To Worship -

Psalm 146 -

Offertory - Precious Lord, Take My Hand -

Communion - Day of Peace -

Recessional - Our God Is Here -

Sound of My People Mass Parts -

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Remembering Our Loved Ones and the Promise - Music for All Saints Day

Hello St. Francis,
During the month of November, it has become a beautiful tradition of the Catholic faith to remember those who have gone before us.  In many places, there will be Books of Remembrance, Novenas and many other services and prayers spoken for those we have loved and are now with God.  Sometimes I am not sure about the meaning or lose my focus on the concept of what it means to be a saint.  Like many, I have specific devotions to saints and I encourage you to consider a devotion to a saint that stands as the patron(ess) of something important to you.  You may be surprised how many "causes" there are.  For example, my parents often prayed to St. Expeditus to intercede for me.  St. Expeditus is the patron saint of procrastinators.  As you begin to pray with your patron saint, study who they were and what they did.  Hopefully, you will be inspired by their life and come to an even greater respect for the saints of the church.

I think sometimes that we forget what a saint is.  Often we associate sainthood with the "famous" saints.  That is NOT the definition of what a saint is though.  Our faith holds that when we are united with the Father in Heaven, we are Saints.  It's an idea known as the "Communion of Saints"  Every soul who has gone before us and is enjoying eternal life in heaven is a saint.  When I think about the people in my life that I love and have gone to God, I know they are saints.  There is a consolation, peace and joy that comes from knowing that those who sacrificed so much for me are mentioned at every Mass when we profess our belief in the Communion of Saints.

So that begs a question?  If everyone who has been saved by Jesus, and, a place has been prepared for all of us, doesn't that make us saints too?  What does that mean?  Well, maybe if we all began to think of ourselves as "Saints In Training" our eyes would be more open to our own holiness and our call to be the Kingdom of God on earth.  Don't be discouraged by our lack of perfection.  Holiness isn't perfect.  None of the saints we pray with are perfect, none of the people in our lives who have gone before us were perfect.  Holiness is simply the desire to come into a deeper relationship with God, to love God and therefore, love our neighbor.

Jesus never looked down upon the imperfect.  He embraced the imperfect.  It is our imperfection that perfects our holiness.  It is our holiness that makes us saints and it is the promise we have been given that those we love are in communion with God.  We have been given the gift of those who have modeled what it means to be holy in the saints of the church and in the saints of our families.  Let us have faith in that promise and continue our journey with God in holiness to our dwelling place in heaven as a saint where all is made perfect.

Music for the Feast of All Saints:

Processional - Holy, Holy, Holy Cry! -

Psalm - 24 -

Offertory - Oh When The Saints -

Communion - How Great Is Our God -

Recessional - Sing With All The Saints in Glory -

Monday, October 19, 2015

Faith Finds It's Source In Grace - Music for October 24-25

Hello St. Francis!!!
This week let us all live in the joy of God's Amazing Grace.  Sound Good?  I don't know about you but sometimes the "Grace Tank" feels like it is on empty or I just do not have the right amount of grace to be who I am called to be.  Just getting through the day sometimes can be a challenge in itself. Being full of life and positive energy is just too much to ask.  I spend a good deal of time studying the saints of the church and very often I am inspired but too often I come to my own realization that I am disconnected from their humanity.  "It can't be real"  I say.  I can't do what they did.  God must have chosen them for a special mission and armed them with some "extra" grace that we normal folks don't get or understand.  "If I only had what they have." I say to myself, 'Then, I would have what it takes to live more grace-filled".

So, there is a whole bunch that can be said about this.  But, let's keep it simple because life is too complicated already.  Here are two statements of truth that we often forget or deny.

1.  The grace that has been given to me and you is exactly what we need to live a life of positive energy and joy.  Serving others and being saints!!!

2.  God did not give Mother Theresa or Pope John Paul II or Pope Francis any more life giving grace than He has given to us.

That begs two questions that I ask myself and I hope you think about this week as you do what you do.

1.  Does that mean that God's grace is something that I already have and don't use all of the time?
2.  How do I find it?

Great questions if I do say so myself.  Here is my simple answer to this difficult question.  Remember when Jesus took 5 Fish and Two Loaves and fed 5,000?  Neat trick huh?  But what if he wasn't given the Fish or Bread by the young boy who had nothing else to give?  Was it a miracle of Jesus or was it the giving of what the boy had that made it possible for great things to happen?  I think Jesus would say it was the offering of what he had.  I believe that when we are not afraid to empty our "Joy Tank", or our "Faith Tank" or our "Help Someone Tank"  then we will realize that we have more than we thought we have.  Maybe the only reason we haven't felt more "Grace" is because we only use the small part we know we have and hold back the infinite part that we have to trust we have.  It is easier to know than to believe, that is true, but maybe the only difference between us and those great saints is that they just emptied their "Grace Tank" and believed that God would fill it up again.  Maybe, they believed that God would increase their grace, but, what I believe is that IT IS ALREADY THERE!!!  All I have to do is believe in it enough to see.  May we all see God's Grace this week at work in our lives in small and profound ways.

Music for October 24-25
Processional - Amazing Grace -

Psalm 126 -

Offertory - Bless That Wonderful Name -

Communion - Bread For the World -

Recessional - Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus -

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Call To Discipleship - Music for October 17-18

Hello St. Francis,
This week I would like to talk to you a little about what it means to be a disciple.  I think we often associate that word with some sort of unreachable star.  We have so often been taught about the great disciples of Jesus who were martyred and became the great Saints of the Church.  We certainly view them in high regard and have come to some preconceived conclusion that being a "Disciple" is far from anything possible in my life.  Well, if that is the definition we have of a disciple, of course we don't think we can live up to it, as a matter of fact I would dare to say that even the greatest of the disciples never found themselves worthy of that definition, but yet, they proudly called themselves disciples.  Why?  How?
May I suggest that what we consider as a disciple is really not what God does.  A disciple is a person who seeks the opportunity to share God's love with others.  Yep! That's it.  That's all there is to it.  I heard it said that the greatest evil in our world is that we have been convinced that holiness is unattainable.  It is not because people are not good, it is because the definition of holiness given to us by our society and, yes, sometimes our church is so far-fetched that we fail to even try.  Maybe we just need to change those definitions to something more tangible...Oh, by the way, isn't that what Jesus did with all of the unnecessary laws, rules and regulations of the faith?  He mad it simple.  Not "dumbed" down but, what it was meant to be.  So, let's see what we know about these words.

1.  Holiness - Our desire to be close to God and love others.
2.  Disciple - A person who loves God and tries his or her best to be a true brother or sister to others.

Now, we can do that!!! And, they kind of work together.  This week let's really make an effort to be engaged to the people that cross our path.  You never know who or when the person who God has sent will show up in your life and it is quite possible that if we are not paying attention they may pass us by.  It may not be a profound moment (at least to us) but you never know what that simple kind word or gesture will mean to someone who really needs it.  Now, here is the best part.  When we engage in our life, it becomes a more interesting life.  We see and hear things that may have otherwise passed us by.  So the bottom line is this.  When we resolve to be the love, compassion, voice and hands of God in the smallest of ways and we make the effort to notice the people around us we ARE HOLY AND DISCIPLES.  How do I know this, because anything from God is good and living a more selfless and engaged life feels really good.  Be a disciple this week.  Who knows who you will affect.  Who knows, that person may even think of you as a Saint...Crazy huh?

Music for Mass on October 17-18 - SING AWAY ST.  FRANCIS!!!!

Processional - The Lord Is My Light -

Psalm - 33 -

Offertory - Go Out Go Out -

Communion - I Want Jesus -

Recessional - Go Make A Difference -

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Relationship With... - Music for October 10-11

Hi St. Francis,
This week, one of our musical themes is going to be "Our Relationship With God".  A big topic for sure, that can't really be fully realized in a few snazzy tunes at church.  But, like all good things, our relationship with God is something that is built over time when we commit ourselves to it.  Sounds like every other relationship in your life?  That's right, it is!!!  This week the music will celebrate God's ability to fill our lives with even more love, peace and joy than we could imagine.  God truly does amaze us some times.  Even in times of difficulty, we can feel God's embrace and protection. "Wait a second, sometimes I really do not feel that." we may say.  I have said that too.  That is a fork in the road type of moment for some people.  I really believe that the answer comes in its own way but in order for us to understand it, we must make one simple choice.  Am I going to do it my way or am I going to surrender myself to God's Loving Plan for me?  Sounds simple right?  I can talk for hours about all of the reasons why we do it our way and a lot of those reasons seem completely valid and well thought out.  The only problem is that whether it is a valid reason or an emotionally driven response to life's difficulties, when we choose our way we are not choosing God's.  So yes, it is that simple.  When I surrender myself to God, His wisdom, His love and His peace journey with me.  But, how do I do that?  Well, I would say start by really making an effort to open your eyes to the lives of so many of our community members at St. Francis who live that way so beautifully.  Use the resource of our community to gather the courage you need to truly take that "Leap of Faith".
So, the process continues.  May today be a day when all of us give up a little more of ourselves and fill that space with the love of our God.

Music for October 10-11
Processional - God Never Fails -

Psalm - Taste and See - Angrisano -

Offertory - I Surrender All -

Communion - In This Place -

Recessional - Let There Be Peace On Earth -

Monday, September 21, 2015

Guess Who's In Town This Week? - Music for September 26-27

Hello St. Francis,

So, if you haven't heard we have a very special guest visiting us this week!!!  The whole country and especially all of us who live locally have been making preparations for the big arrival and we will be waiting to hopefully be able to greet him or just see him as he passes by.  I think that the biggest and most meaningful thing we can do this week is inject that attitude of welcome, joy, inclusiveness and excitement into the way we welcome each other to our parish community each weekend.  I think that if we all could bottle the feelings we have right now for Pope Francis and then do as he asks us to do by treating all of our neighbors with the same respect and fellowship, than we would be living out the call that our Pope, oh yeah, and God has made to us.
I hope that His words inspire us all to live that way.  I know that those words will be filled with the key to unlock the grace that is inside of us all.  But, then will we choose to live it out?  I guess we need to start somewhere.  Faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains.  May this time of joy and excitement as our Spiritual Father journeys through our neighborhood kindle that faith and give us what we need to live it a little better.  Safe Travels!!!!

Music for September 26-27

Processional - All Are Welcome -

Offertory - I have Been Annointed -

Communion - Precious Lord - 

Recessional - I'll Be Somewhere-

Friday, September 18, 2015

Welcome Back Choir and Wait Till You See What We Have In Store - Music for September 26-27

Hi St. Francis.
So we are really excited to be starting a new season with our choir.  We have a few new members and are always looking for even more to be a part of the fun!!!  It is so important to any parish to have a community that sings!!!  The energy, the praise and hopefully the inspiration is why people come to church.  We all want to smile, pray and be energized by our Liturgy.  It only happens if we allow ourselves to be a part of the community by praising Jesus through our word and through our song.  Whether you are a part of the choir or not, sing out and clap your hands.  Pray and praise.  That is what takes ordinary and makes it extraordinary.  Who celebrated the Liturgy?  Not the priest, not the choir, but ALL OF US!!!

See you at church.

Music for September 26-27

Processional - Come By Here My Lord -

Offertory - Come Lord Jesus -

Communion - He Looked Beyond My Faults -

Recessional - Jesus on the Mainline -

Monday, September 7, 2015

An amazing message...and something to pray about. - Music for September 12-13

Dear St. Francis,
This Sunday something very profound and humbling happened at St. Francis DeSales.  Fr. John, a missionary priest from Africa spoke to us about the difficulty of life in his country, the poverty they live with, the lack of basic things like medicine, food, schools and churches.  He spoke about how he left that place to come here to a country he does not know without knowing the language of this country and journeying only due to the support of others.  I'm not sure if we really pay attention to the Missionary Priests and Religious who visit us from time to time.  You know when you are telling a great story how you are visualizing it as you speak the words and it takes on a deeper reality, while others may not remain engaged because they had head similar stories before.  I've been there.  Here is what amazed me.  At the end of his appeal he promised us that these people who have nothing and struggle for everything were actively praying for us.  I asked Fr. John about that.  He said we (yes St. Francis DeSales in NYC on the Upper East Side) are being mentioned by name in his local parish.  They are praying for our health, our spirituality, our growing in love with God more deeply.  They are praying for us.  Pretty powerful!!!  Sometimes I wonder who is really poor.

Here is your music for Sept. 12-13 - Sing away St. Francis.

Opening - Leaning on the Everlasting Arm - 

Psalm -

Offertory - 
I've Got A Feeling - 

Communion - In Christ Alone -

Recessional - Go Out And Tell -

Monday, August 31, 2015

Welcome to a busy September for the Music Ministry

Hi St. Francis,
So, we have just about reached September.  I don't know about you but I NEVER want summer to end.  I love the warm weather and all that summer has to offer.  But, I also love the fall as it brings so many new beginnings.  Young people going back to school and September is sort of an unofficial beginning to the church year.  The choirs come back.  New parishioners arrive and begin their roles as active participants in Liturgy and Ministry.  We have a lot going on here at SFDS.  We are beginning our campaign to grow our Ministry by adding people who love music and want to praise the Lord with us.  Often, the decision to immerse yourself in another "obligation" is one that some people tend to shy away from.  I get it.  Life is really busy.  Think about this though.  My grandfather always said to me that the most difficult thing to do when you are busy is think about what you should really be busy with.  So often we forget what is really important and spend our time being busy and receiving little or nothing for ourselves.  Obligations are what they are...or are they?  Maybe as we pray this week we can ask for God's wisdom to discern what is truly important in our lives and where our service to God and community falls in our list of priorities.  Easier said than done for sure but, still an important conversation to have with God, our families and may I dare say, our Pastor.  As they say, the only person who controls your happiness...or your priorities is the person you see when you look in the mirror.  Consider making your faith community a priority in your life.  Whether it is with us in the Music Ministry or any of the many other ways St. Francis DeSales offers you to connect with your God and community, make it a new beginning for yourself as well.

Music for September 5th and 6th:

Processional (Not the one you are used to!!!) - Rain Down -

Offertory - I'll Fly Away - 

Communion - As The Deer Longs -

Recessional - We Are The Light -

Monday, August 17, 2015

August is the beginning and the end - Music for August 22-23

Hi St. Francis.
What an inspiring week it was at St. Francis.  If you missed it, just remember to bring your phone to church next week.  We are beginning a new campaign to evangelize through social media.  There are two main parts to this mission.
1.  Bring you phone to church and "Check In" at St. Francis.  Let your 'Friends" and "Followers" know that you have made the choice to share your time with your church community.  To give witness that our faith and our faith community is worth your time and is a huge part of how we can encourage others to come.

2.  As you listen to the Scripture, the Homily or even maybe a line from one of the songs, remember and send your favorite and most inspiring quote from Mass to your social media circle.

So whether you are a poster or a tweeter or both, the message of peace, welcome and challenge that exemplifies the mission of St. Francis and our church can be shared with those who may be looking for a little meaning in their life.  Our time in church and with our community is not all about us and our needs.  The Spirit always offers us the inspiration and the invitation to bring a little love and meaning to others.  Welcome to OUR faith community.  Doors open, eyes fixed on the society we live in today and minds and hearts ready to be inspired and then inspire others.


Music for August 22-23:

Processional - Standing On The Promises -

Psalm - Taste and See

Offertory - Shout To The Lord - 

Communion - Is Your All On The Altar -

Recessional - Go Make A Difference -

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Music for August 15th and 16th

Hello St. Francis.
This week I would like for all of us to take a moment or two to recognize how blessed we all are to be a part of our parish.  There is something special happening here and if you ask me, the way we can make it even better is by choosing a way to actively share our church with others.  As we have heard, there are many folks who have recently lost their parish.  Maybe they are looking for a new place to call home.  Maybe they are thirsting for a place where they will be welcomed, accepted and cherished.  Our mission is to live our faith and to live the joy and good news of the Gospel.  In our prayer, but even more importantly in our purposeful actions, let us seek those who need a new church home and walk with them through our doors and let them experience with us who we are.  I think that this place will bring much comfort and welcome to people.  That is our mission, that is our faith.  While you pray, listen to these hymns of praise and worship.  Allow them to inspire you and then inspire others by inviting them to your home...St. Francis.
God Loves Us and We Will Never Walk Without Him.  He Has Already Won!!!

Gathering - Our God Is Here -

Offertory - No Not One -

Communion - In This Place -

Recessional - He's Sweet I Know -  

Monday, August 3, 2015

We Are Going To Jam With Some New and Old Praise Music This Week - August 8-9

Hello St. Francis,

This week we will sing some music that you know and learn some new ones that will have you clappin' and praisin' and jammin'!!!

Take a listen and learn.  Join the Praise Parade!!!

Can't wait to worship with you this weekend.


Processional - Come To The Lord -

Psalm - Taste and See - Angrisano -

Offertory - O Happy Day - 

Communion - Now Is The Time/People Get Ready -

Recessional - Something on the Inside -

Monday, July 27, 2015

Music Ministry Expansion and Music for 8/2-3

Hi St. Francis.
As you may have heard this past weekend, the Music Ministry is in the process of expanding and preparing for the fall.  We are so excited about the ideas we have to further energize and inspire our worship at St. Francis.  The only thing we are missing to make these ideas come to life is you.  Sharing your gifts of time and talent , especially your musical gifts is something that will increase the depth of your spiritual and faith experience here or at any parish.  We are so blessed to have a parish family that exemplifies what "Church" should be.  Our unity and our diversity are both characteristics that do not necessarily exist in every faith community.  I've heard it said this way..."At our church we get out early to avoid the traffic of all of the other parishes that are crowded."  We want to be the church that burst forth from our walls fed by the word and in love with our faith.  I encourage you to allow music to become a part of your faith journey.  I ask that you come and sit with us as we sing, pray laugh and learn about each other and about our faith and our God.  Here are some of the specifics as it pertains to each Mass.

Saturday Vigil - The Saturday Vigil is going to be run by volunteer singers and instrumentalists.  We rehearse before Mass from 4:00 - 5:00.  Anyone who enjoys singing or playing is welcome to join us any week.  There is no obligation, just show up when you can.

Sunday @ 9:00 Mass - We are calling this the "Family Music Mass".  We invite all of our Religious Education students as well as their family members to join us in song.  The music will not be "Children's Choir" Music but will represent the importance of family and enhance the experience of this Mass by inspiring the congregation through the cooperation of multiple generations making music together.  Rehearsals for this Mass will be on Monday's from 6:15 - 7:00 and/or 8:15 - 9:00 on Sunday Morning.  Come to either or both rehearsals.  They will be fun and energy filled.

Sunday @11:00 Mass - This Mass is going to be filled with high energy Praise and Worship.  We are asking for singers and instrumentalists  who are interested in "jamming" with us.  We also extend a special invitation to our Confirmation and young parishioners to participate more actively in their faith.  We come together at different points on the same road.  We seek to learn from each other and encourage each other through prayer, praise and worship to walk more closely with each other on the path to finding our God.  Rehearsals for this Mass will be on Monday evenings from 7:00 - 9:00 and on Sunday Morning from 10:00 - 11:00.  Again, come to either or both rehearsals.

Sunday @12:30 Spanish Mass - If you are a spanish speaker and enjoy the culture and prayerful energy of a Spanish Mass, please feel free to join us any week.  If you play an instrument or sing, we rehearse before Mass at 12:00.

Sunday @ 6:00 - "Jazz Mass" -  If you have not attended this Mass yet, what a cool vibe you are missing.  The musicians custom arrange classical and contemporary hymns into a smooth and easy jazz feel integrated with high energy Gospel and Praise.  If you happen to be a Jazz junkie like myself and would be interested in joining the group, please contact me or the church office for details.

Great News for those who only sing in the shower!!!
If you are interested in "Taking Your Talents" out of the shower but you are not sure if you would make it past the first round of America's Got Talent auditions, we have the perfect solution.  Our amazing cantor Angela is going to begin group Voice Lessons at St. Francis.  These lessons will be on Thursday evenings in the Parish Office.  Hopefully after a few lessons, you will feel confident enough to share your new found proficiency with us in the Music Ministry.  Information about signing up for these lessons will be published in the bulletin and online in the next couple of weeks.

If you have any questions, please contact me at  
I can't wait to see what God has in store for us this fall!!

Processional - Come, Now Is The Time To Worship -

Psalm - 116 Soper -

Offertory - Come To The River -

Communion - Our God Reigns -

Recessional - We Are One - 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Have you noticed the new look 5:00 Mass? - Music for July 25-26

Hello St. Francis.

If you have not been around the 5:00 Mass you may not have heard that 5:00 Mass is now being led by a completely volunteer cast of choir members.  Each week, some of the choir volunteers to lend their time and talent to making the 5:00 Mass stunningly beautiful.  I can not even begin to thank these awesome people enough.  It has enhanced that Liturgy tremendously.  If you have been around and have noticed, maybe you are thinking that it would be nice to  be a part of  that.  Well, funny you mention that!!!  We are continuing to grow our Ministry and it all begins with the people of St. Francis taking a leap of faith and coming out to be a part.  We will be beginning a Voice Lesson Class with Angela, our incredible cantor.   She will train your voice and make you even better than you already are.  We are beginning recruiting efforts for singers and instrumentalists for all of the Masses.  All we need is for you to join.  Please pray over this and decide to become an active stakeholder in your vibrant and spirit-filled faith community.  All Are Welcome!!!

Here are links to this weekend's music...Enjoy!!!

Processional - Rain Down -

Psalm - My Soul Is Thirsting -

Offertory - Hold To God's Unchanging Hand -

Communion - Total Praise -
Recessional - We Are The Light -

Monday, July 13, 2015

Our Program Is Evolving and Growing!!!

Hi St. Francis,
We are in the midst of "AMPLIFYING" our Music Ministry.  In my few months here, I have been trying to assess the "vibe" at each Mass.  Every Mass at St. Francis has its own flavor and we are attempting to provide each celebration with the Music and worship that best suits each Mass.
To successfully accomplish this, we are asking for your time and talents.  If you are interested in becoming a part of our inspiring Music program, please contact me at  We need singers and instrumentalists.  Please consider taking this more active and important role in your parish community.

Here are the tunes for this weekend - (July 18-19)

Processional - O Magnify The Lord -

Psalm 23 - Blakesley -
Offertory - Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus -
Communion - Day of Peace/We Will Overcome -

Recessional - Go Make A Difference -

Monday, July 6, 2015

So You Have A Little Extra Time This Summer

Hi St. Francis.
Maybe you are finding this summer to be a time when you can catch your breath and recharge your batteries. Maybe you are trying to find something constructive to do.  Or, maybe you are searching for something meaningful to add to your life.  If any of these is the case for you, I would suggest considering a more active role in you parish.  I certainly am excited to welcome you into the Music Ministry if that is your calling.  (NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY) ((BOTH SINGERS AND INSTRUMENTALISTS)) but even if music is not your thing, there are many incredible opportunities to share your time and talent with your parish family in many ways. Maybe, what you seek to fill some time or to fill a gap in your life is to share the gift of yourself with others.  That is what Jesus calls us to and it comes with the promise of a sense of joy and peace.  You can't beat that.  Here are links to the music we will be singing this weekend.  Keep practicing.   You are singing well!!!

Processional - City of God - 

Psalm - 85 -

Offertory - I'll Be Somewhere - 

Communion - Lord, When You Came (English and Spanish) -

Recessional - Go Out and Tell -

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Happy 4th of July

Hello St. Francis.
This week we celebrate the 4th of July and we give thanks to God for our country and the freedoms it allows us, we would be remiss not to also pray for peace and equality throughout the entire world.  As Pope Francis says, it is our call to bring food to the hungry, freedom to the prisoner and a voice to the oppressed.  So, as we celebrate, let us also pray for peace.

Here are your links to this week's music.  Enjoy.

Processional - Our God is Here - 

Psalm - Tate and See -

Offertory - Open The Eyes of My Heart -

Communion - Let There Be Peace On Earth -

Recessional - America The Beautiful/God Bless America -

Monday, June 22, 2015

Music for June 27-28

Hi St. Francis.
I can't help but mention that your voices are getting more and more beautiful each week.  You are filling the church with praise and there is nothing that makes me as a Music Director happier!!!
I ask you to consider filling our worship with your talents to an even larger scale.  Do you play an instrument?  Come and join us.  No locked in schedules, no long term commitments, just pray with us in song when your schedule allows.  Seems simple enough...right?  It is!!!  Especially during the summer months, we are looking to continue to diversify the music experience at SFDS.  Give it a try.  It may be the answer to the question of how you can increase your faith.  It may just be an opportunity to meet some new friends.  What I can promise is that you will certainly get as much out of your time as you put in...with your parish family and with God.
See You Soon.


Processional - O Healing Water - No Recording...Sorry
My Soul Is Thirsting - Angrisano -
Communion - How Great Thou Art -
Recessional - Oh It Is Jesus -