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 -