Sunday, July 29, 2007

finding subs...

so a while ago my boss told me that it wouldn't be a big deal if I ever had to miss Mass and couldn't find a sub, he said that all the churches that he's ever been at had that happen except the cathedral. So I was planning on having August 18 be that day (my first in over a year!) because all of my possible subs are going on vacation or will be at a wedding...
and then I found out the priest would be gone also...and so he said that I really have to find a sub. but he would prefer not to pay (even out of the goodness of his heart,) more than $75. I'm scrambling, and running out of ideas...
I'm not writing about this to moan about him, or my job or anything, but rather the sad state of things in GENERAL when there are no substitutes out there!

when I'm like the only person in the WORLD who can do my job! ugh!

Friday, July 27, 2007

bulletin article II

here's the article as it went to press and we received the bulletins this morning. Comments are welcome, I suppose, but they won't do much good now, and my boss did thoroughly edit it beforehand...

What is Mara Singing
at Communion?
A month ago, as an experiment, I began singing the proper Communion antiphon of the day at the beginning of Communion.
So what IS this “proper antiphon”? The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) gives four options for the beginning of Mass (the procession,) the Offertory, and at Communion. These are almost identical and are listed and summarized as 1) The antiphon from a book called the Roman Gradual, 2) The seasonal antiphon from the Simple Gradual, 3) A song from a collection approved by the US Bishops, 4) another suitable liturgical song. (GIRM 87)
These four choices are listed by the Church in order of priority. I am attempting to provide the first option at Communion time (when I think no one wants to sing anyhow...) along with Psalm verses. The tradition of singing Psalm verses is given as an option in the second and third listed above.
The Psalms are the inspired Word of God and they have a special place in the worship of God.
Historians have evidence of the practice of singing the Psalms during the Liturgy, and particularly at Communion as dating from the late fourth century A.D. In paragraph 88 in the GIRM, the option of singing a psalm or canticle of praise by the entire congregation is given, and that is what I have been doing over the past few weeks.
The melodies that you have been hearing recently are taken directly from the Roman Gradual. These are the original Gregorian chants which often date from the tenth century, and certainly even earlier.
This ancient form of singing is so clearly part of our musical heritage as Catholics, even if just from its age which proves its transcendence throughout time. But, I also believe that it is intrinsically beautiful. The feedback that I have been receiving from people only confirms this. Beautiful things inspire our souls to more fervently praise God. One might argue that the stained glass windows in our church are inefficient in that they let in less light, are more costly to maintain, and break more easily than other windows, but what would our lovely church building be without them?
Since singing this “proper antiphon”, I have received many positive comments. Now that I have received such encouragement, I would like to extend the invitation to those who are interested to join me as a small, experimental schola. A schola is as a small choir that perhaps has just this one part assigned particularly to them for the time being. I am already aware of two people who are interested and I hope there are more.
In Musicam Sacram, one of the Church’s primary documents on music after Vatican II, it states, “There should be choirs or cappellae, or scholae cantorum especially in cathedrals or other major churches, in seminaries and religious houses of studies, and they should be carefully encouraged.”
Currently, we just have one choir that sings on a regular basis, so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have other groups of singers who help out at Masses! In addition to adding other people singing this antiphon, I plan to provide the congregation with translations to what is being sung in the Latin so everyone could know what we are singing.
Is this too historical? I get excited about this stuff! It’s so neat, for me at least, to think about how wonderful it is for we as Catholics to have such a rich history of music. I pray that you also will be blessed by this music.
― Mara
“Beauty is a key to the
mystery and a call to
— John Paul II, Letter to Artists, 1999

Monday, July 23, 2007

moan-my poor little organ..

ah, it's one of those 3-rank factory-produced Mollers, made in the 60's. I mean. I'd rather have it over any electronic organ any day, but really. When the church is can be pretty hard to "lead the congregation." What I would give for just one, nice, loud reed.

Case in point...
this weekend, at the later Mass (always full,) I don't rehearse the choir in the summer, but they're welcome to sing the hymns, and this weekend more of them than usual showed up. Fine with me, but the first hymns was "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy," and halfway through the first verse I realized the congregation was belting it out, and the choir was following THEM cuz they were louder than the organ! (and yep, I had all three ranks and some octaves pulled. sigh.) So I gave them a look started doing some left hand conducting, and we managed to accelerate the song to its appropriate pace.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

bulletin article

I plan on writing soon, like later today, a bulletin article for next weekend entitled something like "what the heck has Mara been singing at Communion?" I got a LOT of positive feedback this weekend. So I know the time is ripe for some serious explaining.

(the real reason I'm writing this all in here, is cuz last time I wrote that I was going to write a bulletin article but didn't really know what to write soon as I posted it here, the ideas and resources just started flowing!

so here goes...

Communion antiphons...

why I am singing them...(GIRM 87) then also quote GIRM 88?

how ancient a practice it is in the Church of singing Psalms at Communion...

the intrinsic beauty of what I have been singing...

explain what a "Proper" is?

how I would like to get people to join me to make a schola (ok, I'll word that better,)

how I am planning on getting the translations to those who want them. (I'm thinking of having a monthly sheet that has the 4 or 5 Communion antiphons with their translations available in the back of the church for those who want to pick them up.)

should I go into how, "if you're following along in your Missal, what I am singing at Communion just might not be what it says is the 'Communion Antiphon,' " that could be a really in-depth discussion that could just cause more confusion than it explains. sigh.

I don't think I'm going to talk about the fact that it's Latin, -people don't seem to mind if they don't have to sing/say it. and that could be a whole additional bulletin article. or pamphlet. or homily...

a nice follow-up article would be to write about what the Church says about "active participation," and how that doesn't necessarily mean that YOU have to be singing! That's not an issue for right now, because no one wants to sing during Commuion, but that could be if we begin incorporating more of the propers at other places in the Mass.

open to more ideas over the next few hours/days!

Friday, July 20, 2007


I recently observed the most blatant example of why priests really should face ad orientem.

I was Mass at St. X, where I haven't gone in years, and I observed the priest during the Eucharistic Prayer, doing his absolute best to make the prayer relevant and interesting and applicable and perhaps even entertaining? for all of those present. However, his tactics seemed rather ridiculous when I thought about the context...

He was up there, praying, with his arms outstreched for the entire prayer, and looking around at the congregation, just, I don't know how to describe it in words, I wish I could give a demonstration to you all! but, basically just looking around at everyone and grinning! I mean, in a nice way, but because he was up there at the altar, feeling like he was on display and knowing that everyone was looking at him, he felt so completely obligated to draw them all into it, which seeems nice and maybe not so bad, until I thought about how he was addressing his prayer to God, and here he was looking at all of us and grinning!

I wonder if anyone else noticed how that seems kind of silly. I mean, I know that this priest is very well-intentioned, and has a good heart, and it might not be his fault that he feels he has to face the people, and as a result of that he feels like he has to draw them in somehow, but if he just turned around, and faced the same direction as them, he wouldn't even have to worry about that-he could just pray with them!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

the word is out...

my blog has been "found..."

I guess I really need to start watching more what I say on here... ;-)

Saturday, July 14, 2007


I finally figured out what TLM stands for! (took me long enough, yes, I know, but at least I didn't have to embarrass myself and ask anyone! I was confusing myself, becuase I was thinking "Tridentine Low Mass?" "The Latin Mass?")

Friday, July 13, 2007

NPM conference

I just got back from the NPM conference. quite different from the CMAA conference, although I suppose it's ridiculous to even compare them. While at CMAA, we mostly sang and heard a few talks, this was almost exclusively talks and addresses, with basically everyone who is anyone in the Catholic music world (because it was the bi-yearly national conference,) ranging from Marty Haugan to Fr. Anthony Ruff. (more on him later.) I went to the Detroit chapter's dinner (even though I'm not technically in the Detroit archdiocese-I just know a lot of people who are,) and I randomly met my priest's brother who is also a priest! That was funny. Apparently they're about as opposite in opinions on these issues as anyone could be. When I introduced myself as working for his brother, his first reaction was, "oh, I'm SO sorry!" haha. But he seemed nice. And was quite concerned that his brother is paying me enough (which he's not and I know it, but I will ask for a raise in a few months.) And the networking was AMAZING. I personally insulted Paul Ford to his face and didn't even realize it. ( the guy who wrote By Flowing Waters? yeah...)

here's the story:
I was with two of my college friends, who are both interested in chant also. So, we went to the chant section meeting at the beginning of the conference. Yeah, it was definitly us and about 10 old people. But it was a good meeting, Fr. Anthony Ruff as well as Fr. Columba Kelly were both there. (a-MAZ-ing! Even though I only talked to him once, I think Fr. Ruff is in the running for my favorite priest! I totally am going to go study chant under him at Collegeville at some point.) so before the meeting started, me and my youngish friends were sitting there, and this guy sits down and starts chatting with us, and he eventually asks us if we've heard of By Flowing Waters. yes, I replied, and I said I was annoyed because they had used a terrible translation (the NRSV. and I said that because I had JUST been talking to my priest about it, and he said that was why we couldn't use it!) so this guy is like, oh, and then he asks if me and my friends wanted a copy of it. I was like, no, I already have one. But the other guys did. so he pulls out his business card, and I look at it and yes, if you're smart than you will have figured out who it was. oops. I turned SO red. I was like, "oh! YOU wrote it!" and then he was like, "we'll talk..." so we did later, and we had quite a nice discussion about lots of stuff, and I regurgitated stuff my boss has explained to me like how we shouldn't use the acclamation "Christ has died..." and we did talk about the actual NRSV translation, and I said I thought the main problem with it was the inclusive language, like how references the Messiah as "he," become, "the one," which totally makes them lose their meaning. so anyhow, because I already had a copy of BFW, he is having LP send me a copy of some book about the development of the Eucharistic prayers (in response to our "Christ has died," discussion. so now I have to read this probably very intellectual book when it arrives.) So he liked me and my friends. As a matter of fact, someone told us later, that after we left the room with the tiny chant section meeting, all the old guys (I don't mean to refer to them derogatorily, I mean the great old guys, like the ones mentioned above,) they were sooo happy and even kind of emotional to see us young people there. like, here they are, they've given their lives to this thing, and I can only imagine what it must be like for them to see us, young people, interested in this and ready to carry it on!

I bought a book on semiology to read, and I'm having a Graduale Triplex shipped (I know there are people who read this blog who are in complete denial that such a way of interpreting chant even exists, but I don't know how you can ignore those little squiggles, and I guess after reading this book I'll even be able to explain them!)

and then to sum up the rest of the conference, I sat through lots of crappy plenum sections (there was only one really scary moment. the speaker, who I thought was doing fine up until then made some comment like, "we don't need a reform of the reform," and EVERYONE started clapping. my friends next to me and I felt about < > this big... but I went to lots of fabulous workshops and talks, I mostly went to the ones about choirs and getting better vocal sound and such. I wrote down lots of good ideas. plus I got TONS of choral music to go through, I think six packets total, from the big three as well as Hope and Concordia. and yes, I will throw out half of it, and my choir won't be able to sing a lot of it, but there will be some usable stuff in the whole thing. I had several friends from school there, and so it was really fun to go out with them every night and stuff.

wow, this is a long post. but I think it's interesting, and there's certainly nothing I want to delete. I just might have to go again next year. oh. except that I am SICK of so many gay guys in one place. I just can't take it sometimes. gay guys and gay PRIESTS! it's enough to make me want to weep. seriously. May God have mercy on us all...

Friday, July 06, 2007


I revisited the question of getting new hymnals today with my priest. He had mentioned it two weeks ago, and I was excited. (sorry, I can't remember how much of this I have posted before.) But now I'm not. Really, there's just like 4 or 5 hymns that I REALLY wish our hymnal (Ritual Song) had (Be Thou My Vision, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Beautiful Saviour/Fairest Lord Jesus, Adoro Te Devote, Ave Verum) that's all I can think of at the moment. The thing my priest hates the most is the inclusive language. Apparently Worship I or II doesn't have inclusive language? anyone know? And that does bring us to another possibility...buying the old hymnals of another church who is replacing them? Any ideas?

Sunday, July 01, 2007


I am soooo confused.
I know it has something to do with the Pre-Vatican II Missal, and the current one...
Today, for the first time, at both Masses I sang the Communion antiphon from the Graduale Romanum with the Psalm verses, (compliments of CMAA?) it wasn't until after Mass that it occured to me to cross check it with the Sacramentary (the "Communion Antiphon" of which is also printed in my handy Today's Liturgy book, as well as any misallette you pick up, so I assume that's the one I'd want.
And I discovered that it's not even the same, for this particular Sunday, as well as many others!
The English translation of which I was hoping to find, would have been either from Psalm 102:1. "O, bless the Lord my soul..." or John 17: 20-21 "Father, I pray for them..." but the one given in my Gregorian Missal (and the Graduale Romanum?) was "Inclina aurem tuam..." Ps. 30:3. In an effort to find out if the Communion antiphons had just been scrambled, (because I can't translate the English in the Sacramentary into Latin to just look up what chant it should be, and I couldn't find a Sacramentary with English and Latin, and the only Latin one at the church was from 1961, and that just confirmed my suspicions that the Latin antiphons I was discovering were taken from pre-Vatican II,) I went through my Gregorian Missal's index in the back with the name of all the chants, and I cross-referenced where in the Bible they were each from (Ps. 30, etc.), so I could use that as a way to find if the antiphons I wanted were just listed under a different day. Even though some weeks have two English options for the antiphon, I still can't find some of them at all, and others of them are listed just under a different day.
I just want to do the right propers at the right time! I'm not planning the music for a Tridentine liturgy! (although in a few months or so I may...) The propers properly!
so where are all of the missing antiphons? (I looked at the introits also briefly, and this didn't seem to be a problem.) what am I supposed to use in 3 weeks for the 16th Sunday OT? I can't find either Psalm 110:4-5 "The Lord keeps in our minds the wonderful things he has done..." or Rev. 3:20 "I stand at the door and knock..."
ok, so I then thought I figured it out with this page:
nope, it's the same as my Gregorian Missal...which, (my entire point is,) I would have thought was ok except that it still doesn't match any worship planning aid which I have before me...
can anyone please explain this?

but now, after that rant, here's my nice little story of the weekend.
so I just decided to give it a try, and just sing the Communion Antiphon with Psalm verses this morning, by myself. I know that people in the past have really liked it when I just sing one of the chants during the sprinkling rite, so I have a theory that they don't mind Latin if they just don't have to do it themselves. so I sang it, and several people told me after the first Mass that they really liked it, and then the same after the second one (but no one will tell me if they don't like it...they'll just tell the priest!) and I was talking to a lady who LOVED it, and she was telling me how yesterday she had gone to a one-day chant class thingy in Detroit and she had loved it, even though she never would have considered singing in the past. and I was like, "great! I'm gonna try and start a schola, especially if I keep getting the positive feedback that I've gotten today, cuz I don't want to be the only one singing...wanna join?" and she's like "sure! and my daughter would love to, also!" and then she went on to say how the guy who led the chant workshop was fabulous and would probably like come to our parish to do a workshop. I had actually heard about this workshop yesterday, and if I had heard about it earlier, I totally would have put it on the bulletin, and I'm sure more people would have gone, but that would be so awesome to get people to come at our church! and I would let the other good nearby parishes know, and then their people could come too! cuz I was getting kinda depressed earlier like thinking, "who on earth would be willing to take the time and learn all these chants to sing with me?" thats a big reason I'm feeling like I don't know what direction to go in...cuz I can't do this all myself! ok, I'm not making any sense anymore, I have so much I need to go do I need to get off the computer...argh, so much for Sunday relaxing...