Friday, December 12, 2008

Mananitas for Our Lady of Guadalupe

Yes. . .I was one of those crazy people
that get up in the wee hours of the morning
to go to church to "wake " Our Lady of Guadalupe on Her feastday.
Here are some photos I took this morning.
Pictures include Mariachi, Band,
and choir and singers from the parish.
A few pics of people
who participated in the "open mic" as well,
including a very young child.
Sorry.
No photos of children's choir.
I can't accompany
and take pictures at the same time!
Pictures taken at the mananitas this morning
at Detroit's St. Gabriel parish.
And sorry not to spend too much time cleaning photos up.
I just wanted to get them up today!
Happy December 12th!




















Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More On Decisions


Recent decisions in my life
Have changed my worship
And rehearsal schedule.

Because of recent decisions made,
I now serve as a pastoral musician,
And choir director,
For six different liturgies
In two different languages
Rehearsing five different groups
In three different parishes.
Every week.
OK. . .well… .one of those groups
Only rehearses every other week.
And not all of those groups sing every week.
And not all of those masses have a choir.
But. . .still. . . .my worship schedule has changed.

I know.
it sounds a bit frazzled,
But it isn’t really.
My music planning tends to overlap.
It’s really only a challenge
In the sense that these parishes
All use different hymnals.
For the most part,
The day and time of each of these liturgies
And rehearsals don’t conflict.

Well. . .at least they didn’t
Until late summer
When I was formally asked
To form/direct a children’s choir
For one of these parishes.

A part of me really wanted to do this.
Of all the groups I have led over the years,
There are two kinds of groups
That are just so life giving to me:
Women’s choirs
And
Children’s choirs.

These children are bilingual,
Though not all of them are bi-literate.
Their parents primary speak Spanish.

This children’s choir, however,
Would require me spending much time
In inner city Detroit.
I’ve been involved in an inner city ministry before.
It really takes a special commitment
To this ministry.

A part of me resisted. .. .
The distance to drive
(especially in snowy weather),
The pay would be meager,
And just the plain messiness
That comes with inner city work.

Don’t get me wrong.
I firmly believe that an inner city ministry
Brings forth great blessings to those involved.
But the pastoral musician
Called to serve in such a place
Must have the vision
To see beyond the messiness
And peal away the layers
To bring forth the gems that are hiding there.

The week to week involvement with the children
Would require a slight change
In my involvement
With the primary parish I serve in.
That seemed to work itself out
Without too much of a kerfuffle.
At least,
It did at first.

But then. . . well. . .
I was asked to prepare the children for Christmas.
I had to think long and hard about that.
I had to pray, reflect and discern.
To accept this
Meant that I would not be present for Christmas
At my primary parish.

In the end,
The decision I made
Was to spend this Christmas
In this Southwest Detroit parish.

This would still require me
To prepare Christmas with my primary parish,
Although other musicians,
Guest musicians,
would accompany.

No, this was not an easy decision to make.
And certainly not one
that will earn me any income.

In fact,
I will end up in the red financially by doing this.
But, as I said in a previous blog entry,
Decisions made via a true discernment process
Are not about money.
If it were,
I probably wouldn’t be involved
In any kind of ministry at all.

Inner city ministry is a special calling.
It’s messy.
Participants are often transitory.
There’s a different concept of time,
A different concept of structure.

There is a deep reverence
Given to popular piety,
A strong commitment
To popular faith expression.
Sadly,
the gift of popular religiosity
is often looked upon as superstitious
or not needeed
in suburban parishes.
So, this aspect of this particular parish
really is gift.

Liturgy is noisy here.
Really.
The liturgy is noisy.
For those of you who like that quite time after receiving the Eucharist
Or after the readings. . .well. . .
You can just forget that.
It’s not gonna happen. . .
. . .at least, not at this particular parish.
(another reason to seek the quiet
that comes in the early morning hours.)

Children acting like children abound.
Sometimes parents don’t realize
That they ought to be in the cry room
Or just watched a little better.
Now, that’s not a complaint nor a criticism.
In fact,
It’s praise.
Young couples with young children
Are going to church in droves
In the inner city, at least, in this parish.
How awesome is that?
I think that is absolutely magnificent.
But that creates…well. . .a messy and noisy liturgy.

If you can’t become a part of the messiness
Of this type of liturgical life
Then inner city ministry is not your calling.

If you can’t see the tremendous possibilities
That lay dormant
Waiting to blossom and become,
Dormant in the children
And in the noise,
Then inner city ministry is not your calling.

If you are the person in the pew
That is complaining because some wayward child
Just ran down the center aisle
And the parent is nowhere to be found,
Then inner city ministry is not for you.

If you are the person who realizes
That mom and dad both work
And one of them is still struggling
To get their immigration papers in order
And that even though their three-year-old daughter
Just ran down the aisle
It’s consecration.
And they need to be in the moment,
In the sacred space of the moment. . .
.. .well, maybe then you realize
the gift that is inner city.
The little girl isn’t going anywhere.
In fact,
She’s in church.
What an absolutely fabulous place for her to be.
It’s noisy and messy.

But mom and dad and daughter,
With all of their life’s struggles,
Are in church.
I praise God for that
And I’ll find my personal quiet time with God.
Some other time.
For this liturgy
Is a communal prayer moment.
And in order to be in the communion
One must accept the mess
And the noise that comes with it.

That’s not to say
That we shouldn’t work
At creating sacred silence in the liturgy,
At having parents use the cry room.
It’s only to say
That inner city liturgical life
Is a very unique experience, indeed.

There is also great creativity
In an inner city ministry.
When people don’t have a lot of money
To accomplish their goals
They find some very creative ways
Of reaching those goals.
And this is one thing that I absolutely love:
The Creativity.

Now, don’t get me wrong.
I am in no way saying that suburban folk aren’t creative.
It’s just a different sort of creativity.
And as a poet and musician,
I find that I am constantly seeking out
Different forms of being creative.

Having said all of the above
I realize that I am the musician
That can see those gems, those pearls,
That are lying dormant,
That are waiting to grow and become. . .
. .. I have the eyes that see
the gift that comes in the messiness.
I can see the gems in the children.
I can see the great gifts
That this inner city parish
Can give to the larger church.

If I didn’t see it,
This decision
Would not have been so hard.

And yet,
There are some who have treated me
Absolutely terrible because of it.
So be it.

Of all of the things I learned in Cursillo,
I think this is what stays with me most:
“To See, To Judge, To Act.”
The thing is,
If you can see it
You have a responsibility to act upon it.

And I think maybe
Those who aren’t happy with my decision
Probably just can’t see it.

I know that I will eventually
Be called to make some other decisions later.
But that bridge cannot be crossed
Until she presents herself.
And with the clustering process,
It would seem that some paths are being made
For me, and for others,
That aren’t quite totally visible yet.
I cannot decide to continue on any one path
Until all of those paths are set clear before me.

And what of my primary parish?
Who will lead music for Christmas?
Well, first of all,
There are some very competent musicians
Who are a part of the music every week.
It certainly is not a situation
Where no one was left to lead music.
And, to be quite honest,
I was a bit surprised
At how easy it was
To find a guest organist/pianist
For each of the Christmas masses.
And even though one musician
Who had previously committed to lead music
Then recanted their offer to help,
It was by the grace of God
That another musician
Quite literally picked up the phone
And called me to say,
“Here I Am!”

In a previous blog
I wrote about how some decisions
Bring about gifts we never would have expected.
One of the guest musicians I found
Was actually feeling a bit out of sorts.
This was going to be the first year
That this person
didn’t serve as pastoral musician for Christmas
In many years.
This person actually thanked me
For the opportunity to sing God’s praises
For the celebration of Christmas.
But you see,
It takes my not being present
To create this opportunity.
It takes my being absent from music
To give the gift of music to another.

And I must be totally honest.
The clustering situation really is taking it’s toll on me.
A part of me wishes
We would just go ahead and get on with it.
Cluster us.
Merge us.
Whatever it is we are to be,
Just create it already.

If some of us will lose our jobs,
Well. . .tell us already.
If our mass schedule will change,
Let’s go ahead and change it already.
If we must get a new pastor
Or worship in a different church building,
Why can’t we just get on with the process
And do it already???
I’ve been at this primary parish
For 3½ years now
And while I knew and understood
That this process was taking place,
It just amazes me
How much the clustering process
Is just dragging along.


I am not the type of pastoral musician
Who comes in just to “fill in the slot,”
Making sure that this mass or that mass
Has someone “doing” music.
I need to belong.
I am not the person who just comes in,
Plays for mass and then leaves.
I have an ardent desire
To belong to the community I serve in.

“To See, To Judge, To Act.”
I would rather act
Than react.
And I can only act
With the information I have.

Spending Christmas in southwest Detroit is a process.
I am creating some new friendships,
Developing some new relationships
That I am very happy to have.
The inner city will probably never
Pay a salary to a pastoral musician/music director
That a suburban parish can.
But I find that I do belong to this community.
And, whatever else may happen with the clustering process,
I have a great weight lifted from my shoulders
Knowing that this parish
is willing to adopt me,
If only to prepare children for Christmas.
Do you understand?
I belong.

I hope you enjoyed the song, Mi burrito Sabanero.
This song is one of the many songs
that the children of Detroit
are preparing for Christmas.
And you know,
I can teach them this song.
If I couldn’t, well, the decision to do Christmas
In Detroit wouldn’t have been so hard.
But I can teach them.
And if I don’t teach them,
. . .well. . . that would make me
About as useful
As the person from that gospel story
A few weeks ago
Who buried his talent.
I don’t know about you,
But I can’t own that.

The Cursillo taught me
“to see, to judge, to act,”
and so, I did.

My sincerest apologies
To those who feel slighted by my decision,
For that was never my intention.
And please realize
That there are other circumstances,
Circumstances that I cannot type
On to this electronic parchment.
But rest assured,
these important decisions
are always made by yours truly
in and with a discerning Spirit.

God Bless on us on this special Day
(December 12th)!
And God bless the children
who love to sing about the Bethlehem Burro!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Decisions - Part 1


You Are Mine - David Haas


I recently returned from a trip to Mexico.
And I do have a lot to write about that trip.
I have photos and video of the trip. . .
. . the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. .
. . Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral.. .
. . The Museum of the Templo Mayor. ..
. . .Cathedral of Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos. . .
. . .The Shrine Church of St. Toribio Romo. . .The Pyramids. . .
. . .The Giants of Tula. . .. . Museum of Anthrolopogy. . .
. . .Yes. . . I have thoughts on all of the above
and more.
And that will be forthcoming.

But I think I need to write about something else right now.
I need to write about
Decisions
And Discernment.
And this writing will be
at least two entries in this blog.
This first one,
on the process itself.
The second blog entry
will detail some of the thoughts and insights
that led up to the decision itself.

And I probably should have written on this subject
before I left for Mexico.
As it is,
waiting to write on this subject
has only served to give me
affirmation and confirmation
that the decisions made
via a discernment process
were, in fact, guided by the Holy Spirit.

Decisions.
Decisions are funny things.
Some people get upset
Because of the decisions of another.
There is a part of me that can understand that.
But then, there is a part of me that doesn’t.
I mean,
No one can decide something for you,
especially if it’s something of importance.
People have every right
not to like the decision of another.
But we cannot decide for another.
And if we try to change someone’s mind
about a decision they made,
well, depending on what the circumstances are,
that could be downright immoral.
I mean,
we could try and change someone’s mind about something.
But we may not have all of the information they have,
all of the memories they have.
And this all contributes to the decision making process.

As someone who has spent her entire adult life
(and a great chunk of my youth)
In some sort of ministry or another,
I know all too well that important decisions are made
After a period of reflection, prayer and meditation.
Important decisions are made after a period of discernment.

You know,
some people throw that word around,
“discernment,”
because it’s good ecclesial vocabulary.
But many don’t have a clue
As to what it really means.
What a pity.

Discernment.
These are not decisions
based on dollar signs.
These are not decisions
based on popularity contests.

Some decisions don’t require much thought at all.
For example,
deciding what to make for dinner.
I don’t need to think to long and hard about that
unless I’m trying to do something silly
like impress some dinner guests.

Other decisions,
well, some other decisions really require intense prayer.

We can’t just weigh the pros and cons
of a particular situation
and make our decisions based on that.
Doing so will make sure that the “pros” always wins,
which, in turn,
may mean taking the easy way out.
And as anyone involved in ministry knows,
the easy way is not always God’s way.

Discernment certainly is not based
on what would be the easiest thing for me to do,
or the easiest thing for those around me.
If it were,
the task wouldn’t be so hard,
so time consuming.

For the fact is,
if the path were easy
more people would be on it

And we can think a lot about how things may turn out.
“If I do A, then B or C might happen.
If I do X, then Y or Z might happen.”

This is thinking logically.
However, when making important decisions,
we need to remember
that not everyone in the world thinks, acts or reacts logically.
Discernment is not always logical. . .
well.. .logical as the world would see it.
And when people learn of the decision made,
well, they might not act or react logically either. . .

And so,
we must be ready to accept the consequences of decisions made
knowing that what may happen
may end up being something we never would have imagined.
And that, really, is a very good thing.
However, if you aren’t ready and open to accept the consequences
you aren’t ready to make the decision.

You must be open.
You must be ready.
If you walk into a decision
fearful of what the turnout might be,
You aren’t open.
And I think here is where we have some people
who get upset at the decisions made by others.
It may be that they aren’t open to the gift
that may just show up
On their doorstep.
Sometimes there are many gifts that lay dormant,
waiting for just the right change to occur
to blossom and become.
But some. . . .
. . .well, rather than being up for the challenge
are fearful or angry about the change.

The thing is,
change does happen.
Case in point: Parish Clustering.
Rather than be angry,
frustrated or fearful of the changes that clustering brings,
We need to look toward
what new gifts may land on our doorstep
when we cluster with another parish.
I've done anger.
And believe me,
this is much better.

Sometimes, in order to receive the gift,
you simply must be open to receiving it.
If you were truly open,
many a good thing would come to you.
Because you spent time meditating about it.
Because you spent quite some time in prayer about it.
You’ll make the decision
not really sure of what will come,
but ready for blessings,
Ready for good things,
including some challenges.

And challenges are gifts in disguise.
A crisis is really a turning point.
Where or what we turn toward
is really up to us.
Let’s face it.
In the challenge, in the crisis, we grow and become.
In my life,
I have found challenges
to be a part of the “selving” process.
When we cease “selving” we cease to grow.
I, myself, am someone
who needs that constant agitation.
I don’t function well
in a cozy, predictable setting.
It is the very struggle that gives life.
At least, it is as such for me.

Now,
there is also responsibility and expectation.
If I make this decision,
am I not holding up my responsibility?
Have I let down people who depend on me,
who expect something of me?

On the other hand,
Have the expectations I had been honored?
Have I been respected and honored?
And ever more important,
have I been able to accomplish
the goals and expectations
in this particular situation
that I have set for myself?
Why or why not?

And in the end,
I must ask myself,
“Where will I serve the greater good?”

And,
particularly to the clustering reality,
I can be reactive or proactive.
I choose the latter.
But I certainly didn’t chose it
without some extensive time in prayer.

And let me also say
that I’ve learned some new things
about the clustering process
that I did not know when I was praying, discerning.
And I must say,
this new bit of information
only serves to affirm the decisions I made
after intense prayer.

Many people do pray when making an important decision.
But I have known a few who don’t really
complete the circle of prayer.
Oh, they voice their concerns to the Merciful One.
They may seek the wisdom of Our Lady.
They cry out to Jesus.
But they fail to listen,
to be still and listen.
God is speaking in the quiet.

Oh, some read The Word.
And we hear and listen The Word in Church.
But until we just stop talking
We won’t hear the Word
as it is meant to heard for our lives.
It is in the quiet
that The Word is Heard.

Most who know me well
know that I begin my day at 4:30a.m.
In the quiet,
before the rest of the house
And the rest of the world wakes up.
Just to be in the quiet.
Oh, I can try to create the quiet during the day,
turning off the TV, the PC, the radio, the phone. . .
But there is always outside noise.
The best silence
is not the silence I try to create,
but the quiet that flows naturally.
My world just seems to be at it’s natural quietest at 4:30a.m. . . .
So I seek it, the quiet, with earnest.
I get up early just to be in the quiet.
And when I have something that requires special prayer. .
. . .well, I find myself awaking even earlier.

And let me also say
that there is a difference
between just being quiet
and really experiencing the quiet.

In the quiet. . .
that’s where important decisions are made.

In the quiet. . .
this is where God speaks.
At least,
this is where I find God speaks to me the most.

I am not listening to the quiet
if I am listening to all of those voices
telling me what to do.
Oh, maybe there is some message of importance
that they bring to me.
But it’s hard to listen
when all the voices come at me at once.
It really is hard, my friends.
It’s in the quiet
That I get the message.

And I am not listening to the quiet
if I am busy reacting
to the decisions other people have made.
I am not listening to the quiet
if I am reacting to how people react
to my decisions.
Reacting is not listening.

Listening to the quiet
means that I must stop talking.
Plain and simple.
Just Stop talking.
I know.
I learned this the had way.

I hope you enjoyed the song.
I love the first line of the song. . .
"I will come to you in your silence. . ."
Ain't that the truth?

Gracias, Diosito Misericordioso.
Thank you for the quiet.
May others come to know You
In the precious gift of silence.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Cluster Monster


I attended
our parish worship commission meeting last night.
There was a bit of tension during the meeting
As we discussed various topics.

But in all honesty,
I created some of that tension
With my brutal honesty.

You see,
I have made some decisions in recent months
In regards to my ministry.
And some of those decisions
Were already out in the open.
Some of those decisions
I had already discussed with the pastor.

But the last decision,
Well, let’s just say
I spilled the beans
at the worship meeting last night.

I won’t detail those decisions
Here on the blog
As those are topics best held in another forum,
Specifically, the parish setting.

But I think it is most appropriate
To share in this blog
One of the “whys” of my decision.
And I think it is appropriate
Because there may be other pastoral musicians
Who now find themselves
In the same situation that I do.

One of the reasons for the decisions I have made
Is greatly influenced
by this monster named “Clustering.”
In all honesty,
I think this is nothing more than semantics,
Nothing more than the ecclesial vocabulary for “Downsizing.”

In my opinion
Clustering is only a stop gap,
Something that will only delay dealing
With the inevitable problem:
The Clergy Shortage.
And in fact,
I believe that we are committing
A sarcedotal genocide
By giving these good men
Two or more parishes,
Which only increases stress levels,
That, in turn,
Leads to all sorts of health issues.

I have more views on clustering,
But I’ll stop with that one.
Whether or not I like it,
The Cluster Monster (see image above)
is visiting our churches.
And, somehow,
We must find a way to deal with it
All the while keeping the faith.

As a pastoral musician,
I find that I must find a way
To remain standing and active in ministry,
Regardless of who gets clustered with whom,
Regardless of which parishes close.

Jeanne Cotter,
Perhaps the greatest and best liturgical pianist
Of our time,
Once said,
“Sing as if your life depended on it.”
And for those who are musicians she said,
“Play as if your life depended on it.”
What wisdom.
For the fact is,
If you are truly a pastoral musician
Those words ring true.

But lately,
It gets harder to sing the song
With all the uncertainty of clustering.

Will the mass I sing for
Still be a part of the parish schedule?

Will the parish I serve in
Remain opened, or will it be closed?

Will I be singing in a different church,
A cluster partner church,
One year from now?

Will I be singing with the same choir
Or a different choir?

Will I be accompanying on the same piano?
An electronic piano?
A pipe organ?
An electronic organ?

Will I be singing from the same hymnal
Or a different hymnal?

Will I be preparing worship aids each week?
Or will I be preparing LCD projected hymns????

From the beginning,
I did not like the clustering process.
But in as much as it is a struggle we share,
I respected the struggle and the processes thereof.
After all, there is growth in struggle.
However, the process has not respected us.

Originally,
St. Helena in Wyandotte was our cluster partner.
The pastor was then assigned to St. Stan’s in Wyandotte
and the cluster shifted.
We lost our original dancing partner.
St. Helena was now to cluster with St. Stan’s
But rather than formally cluster with her new partner,
St. Helena was subsequently closed.
Yes, closed.

In all honesty,
This scared me.
But more on the illogical process of clustering. . .

Our current cluster partners are
St. Francis Xavier in Ecorse
And Our Lady of Lourdes in River Rouge.
However,
that process took a back seat as Fr. Charles
(Pastor, St. Elizabeth in Wyandotte)
is now involved with yet another cluster,
St. Patrick and St. Joseph, both in Wyandotte.
While we have respected the cluster process
With St. Francis and Lourdes
(joint religious ed, pulpit exchanges, parish directory, etc.)
The cluster process is not respecting us.

Five parishes are now dancing together
And least two of them are sharing a partner
(oops, I mean pastor!)

As one employed by the Roman Catholic Church,
I find myself asking the question,
“Where will I be when the process is completed?”
That is a very tough question to answer
When the rules of the game keep changing.

Many in the United States
Are worried about employment,
Have already lost employment,
Are struggling financially.

Serving as Pastoral Musician
Is not only my ministry,
It is my livelihood.
In this sense,
Clustering is a real life issue for me.

My sincerest apologies
To those who may have felt some tension
At last night’s meeting
Because of what I shared.
But I would rather be brutally honest
Than leave folks second guessing
Because that only leads to gossip
And untruths being spread.
And my apologies if my sarcasm offends you.
But I have always likened myself to the cactus,
standing tall, sometimes flowering,
with just enough pointy edges for protection.
(probably an image I picked up in my youth,
being the daughter of mexican immigrants and all. . .)

Anyway, The Fact is that
The Cluster Monster
Is not a fictional character.
He’s real, folks.
And he’s hiding under the pew.
I know.
I’ve been staring him in the face.

I thank God
For the many blessings I have received in my ministry.

And I remain ever grateful to the angel
Who teaches me to be proactive.

St. Cecilia, pray for us.
St. Helena, Pray For Us.
St. Stanilaus Kostka, Pray For Us.
St. Patrick, Pray For Us.
St. Joseph, Pray For Us.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Pray For Us.
St. Francis Xavier, Pray For Us.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray For Us.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

To be a good photographer
is an art that we often don't recognize.

It has been said that a picture
is worth a thousand words.

These photos made me stop and think
of many, many things.

I salute and thank those photographers
who took these images.

The one that most made me think
is the image of the priest.

You can view the photos I speak of here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pastoral Musicians, Please Help Me!

I really need the help
of those of you who are pastoral musicians.
I tire of looking through the websites
of the publishers of pastoral music.
I've looked through OCP, GIA and World Library.
I hope someone can help me.

What is it I'm looking for?
I'm looking for a sung mass.
That is to say,
I'm looking for mass with a sung presider's part.
And this mass I'm looking for
must be in Spanish.
And not just a Spanish translation
of something.
I want something with true Latin musical style.

The only mass setting I've found
with a sung presidor part is
"Misa del Pueblo Inmigrante,"
by Bob Hurd and Jaime Cortez.
This is a wonderful mass setting
and I am currently using it.
But the truth is
this is really only a sung preface.
And while I may use this,
I am really looking for a sung Eucharistic Prayer.
Does anyone know of any?

There are many fine pieces of music in Spanish.
Misa Luna by Peter Kolar is a work of art, indeed.
Misa Salvadoreña is absolutely beautiful.
And, sooner or later, I am certain that I will use both of these works.

But for the immediate
I really need an arrangement
with sung presider part.

I'm also looking
for a mass setting for children in Spanish.
And here, too, we find a lot of good music
offered by various publishers.
But, again, I seek a mass setting
with not only acclamations
but with sung presider part.

Maybe the two mass settings I'm looking for
will end up being one mass.
It could be as such
that there is a simple setting of a Children's mass
that could also be used for the entire parish.

It's just that I find myself in a parish
where the pastor is a musician.
He love to sing and play his guitar.
And he is working hard
at developing the music program in the parish.
What a grace filled moment, indeed!

But you know,
I just can't seem to find
this that I seek.

Any suggestions?

. . . .I know, I know. . . .
. . I'm gonna hafta break down
and work with on this project with my pastor
and just create the music we need. . . .
. . I already have a Eucharistic Acclamation
for a Children's Eucharistic Prayer in head
al ritmo huapango. . .
"Gloria al Señor en el cielo. . ."

. . . . But you know,
if there's already something out there
that I just don't know about
please let me know. . .

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Concert at St. Gabriel



St. Gabriel Parish in Detroit
Is celebrating 93 years.

One of the many festivities being planned
Is a wonderful concert.

This will take place this Friday,
September 26th at 7:45p.m.,
immediately after the evening mass.

Featured in this event will be
Proyecto Artifice and Rondalla San Gabriel,
Both groups are from St. Gabriel parish.
St. Gabriel pastor, Fr. Jaime,
Directs both of these groups.


A special guest choir will also be part of this event,
Cántico de la Mujer Latina.
Translated, the group’s name means
Canticle of the Latin Woman.
And, you guessed it,
It’s a Latina Women’s Choir.
This group is directed by yours truly.
The concert will be primarily in Spanish,
Though Cántico de la Mujer Latina
Will sing at least two songs in English.

You’ll also be able to hear some original poetry
As I will be reciting one of my works that night as well!

The event will also feature an Art Gallery.
I’ve already seen some of the works to be displayed
And I can say first-hand that the artwork is spectacular!
At least 20 works by a young man name Gilberto
Will be on display during this event.

This enjoyable evening is the brainchild
of the pastor, Fr. Jaime Hinojos.
Fr. Jaime is always finding creative ways
of celebrating special moments in parish life.

Do Join us:
Friday - Sept. 26th@ 7:45p.m.
St. Gabriel is located at
8118 W. Vernor
Detroit, MI 48209

The concert will take place in the school hall.

Better yet,
Come to mass at 7:00p.m.
And then stay for the concert and art exhibit.
And, oh, mass is in Spanish!

Yahoo Map


About the photo:
Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego.
I took this photo on Sunday there at St. Gabriel.
I've always admires this Guadalupe side altar.
Now just think,
if you come to mass before the concert
you'll be able to admire this altar, too!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What is a Rosary?

I mean, really.
I know well what it is in terms of a tool for prayer.
But what else is for others?
How do others use the rosary,
Besides prayer.

We put rosaries in our cars.
I do so because as such
It becomes a symbol of my faith.
I also actually pray with it
On days when I find myself
Waiting for my son after football practice.
Any mom who has ever waited for their child. . .
For the school bus to return from a game or fieldtrip,
For them to exit the school after showers after a game. . .
Any mom knows that sometimes we just wait.
What do you do when you wait?
I pray with my rosary.
And I always have a rosary in my car.

Some wear a rosary as a tattoo.
That, perhaps, is also symbol.
Of all the images
That could be permanently painted on your body
I guess a rosary is a good choice.

Some wear the rosary as a piece of jewelry.
Now,
I have always had mixed emotions on that one.
I mean,
If my car can wear it,
Why shouldn’t people?
And wouldn’t it make more sense for people to wear it
Than for our cars to wear it?

But it is those who wear the rosary as a talisman
That have always given me concern.
As if, by wearing these magic beads,
They will somehow be protected from all harm.
This is where my mixed emotion
On wearing the rosary comes from.

There are all kinds of vulgar things
That people can wear as a necklace.
To be honest,
I would prefer to see them wearing a rosary
Than some vulgar statement or image.

But more and more
We are hearing stories
Of youth not allowed to wear the rosary as jewelry
Because it is a gang symbol.
A Dallas area student
Was told to remove or hide her rosary
For just such a reason.

But where are we
That schools have metal detectors
And security guards?
Where are we
That the rosary has been co-opted by gangs?

Where are we
When people would rather wear a rosary
Than pray a rosary?
Where are we
When people would rather have a rosary painted on them
Than to pray the rosary?
Where are we
When people would rather have their car wear the rosary
Than pray it?

Where are we
That people would use a rosary
As a talisman?

Maybe if more of us were praying the rosary
I wouldn’t find myself
Asking these questions. . .

. . and for those of us who know and understand,
there is no excuse. . .
. . even “no time” is no excuse. .
. . it’s as a said before,
there is always enough time
to pray three “hail marys”. . . .

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 911

On September 11, 2001
I was actually at church.
At the time I worked for an historic church in Detroit.
A tour bus had just come in to visit the historic place. . .
. . .the visitors to church didn't know what was happening. . . .
. . .The church secretary, myself and a few others
all watched the towers fall from the TV set in the rectory living room. . .

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Religious Women

This labor day weekend
I spent some time with religious women.
The Grand Rapids Dominicans
and The Missionaries of Charity.

On Saturday,
members of my women’s choir
drove up to Grand Rapids.
We were invited to participate
in the Perpetual Profession of Vows
of one of our members.

I was totally impressed
by the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids.
They are a dedicated and prayerful bunch,
to say the least.

They are aware and involved.
Just entering the Dominican Center at Marywood
one saw immediately
how involved they are
in areas of justice and peace.

And the art on the grounds
was just amazing.
And I love art,
all things creative.
So, needless to say,
I took few photos!
But I was impressed
that these ladies
say a lot
with the art they have on exhibition.
To even have art on exhibit
is saying something.

I totally enjoyed my company
at lunch and at dinner.
These ladies make you think.
These ladies gently agitate
to make your brain cells grow!
I just love that!

The mass and profession
were just wonderful.
There were several hundred people in attendance.
The chapel was packed.
My women’s choir joined the Dominican Sister’s choir
and it was just an experience
that I will never forget.
The whole assembly sang and responded
with great gusto, with energy and enthusiasm.
Theirs is a preaching charism
and preach they do!

And then,
almost in polarity,
I spent Monday evening
with the Missionaries of Charity.
They are holding a novena
in honor of their foundress, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
They are another amazing group of women,
in full habit
and living in the barrio of Southwest Detroit.
To tell the truth,
I was just plain honored
when they invited me to the convent.

The novena was simple.
All in Spanish
before the Blessed Sacrament
and with people from the neighborhood.

These wonderful Sisters
got it.
I mean,
they got it.

You know,
when the rest of the liturgical world
is struggling to define Liturgical Inculturation,
struggling to control Popular Religiousity,
struggling to create a Liturgical Catechesis
(as if it needs to be “created”), . ..
. . .or any other liturgical buzzword or phrase,
these wonderful Sisters just plain got it.

When the rest of Detroit
is struggling with clustering
and who gets what mass time
and who gets what priest.. .
.. .well, these Sisters just plain got it.

It’s not about what parish you belong to.
It’s not about who your pastor is.
It’s not about what time you gather to pray.
It’s about Being.

They accepted the popular piety of the neighborhood
and incorporated their patron saint.
As a pastoral people,
they accepted the language and culture
of their surroundings
and worked to use the same to affirm the faith.

They didn’t just invite other people into their world.
They dared to enter into the world of others.

And they did so with a rosary novena.
It was simple.
It was powerful.
And it moved me to tears.
These women,
whose first language is neither English nor Spanish,
sang Pange Lingua in Spanish.
That, my friends,
was more than I could bear
and the tears just made themselves present.

In a previous blog entry
I said something about holy space, sacred ground.
These Sisters just plain got it.
They sang an ancient hymn
that has been historically sung in Latin
in Spanish
in Southwest Detroit,
in a neighborhood that they gently adopted.
Pange Lingua.
It wasn’t only about the Blessed Sacrament before me.
It was about Body of Christ
that surrounded me at that moment.
I just cried.

I have the great honor
of being invited to serve as Pastoral Musician
for their big feast day this Friday, tomorrow.
If you’re in the Detroit area,
please do come to St. Gabriel Parish for 9:00a.m. mass
with these Sisters, The Missionaries of Charity.
(Holy Hour at 8:00a.m.)

You know,
these women,
the Dominicans and The Missionaries of Charity,
are really quite the same,
despite their obvious differences.
They are living examples of people
who have become all things to all people
in order to bring some of them to Christ.
Would that more of us would do the same. . . .

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Three Hail Marys

"There is always enough time to pray three ‘Hail Marys.’"
Our Lady of Guadalupe St. Hedwig Parish Detroit
"There is always enough time
to pray three ‘Hail Marys.’"


That’s what Mary G. would always say.
She was one of those church ladies.
You know the ones I mean.
She did everything:
serve as Eucharistic Minister,
fill in for the secretary on her day off,
stuff the church bulletin,
count the collection money. . . .

She was very staunch in her ways,
often making me very angry
because she always thought
that her point of view
was the only point of view to have.

God has already called her home.
But her words
stay with me:
"There is always enough time
to pray three ‘Hail Marys’"


This really isn’t a hard practice for me to follow.
I have always had a devotion to our Blessed mother,
particularly under the tile of
Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I found myself
practicing this "Three Hail Marys" devotion last night
as I drove home from St. Gabriel parish
after a rehearsal last night.
As I neared the intersection
of Outer Drive and Fort Street,
where the cities of Lincoln Park and Detroit meet,
I found myself with more than enough time
to pray "Three Hail Marys."

A few years ago,
my eldest son was car-jacked there.
I suddenly realized
that I had been praying "Hail Mary"
every time I drive through that intersection.
Last night I realized
that the intersection is calling me to prayer.

At the time when my son was car-jacked,
I found my prayers were three-fold.
Of course,
I offered prayers for my son.

But I also offered prayers
for the young man
who held a gun to my son’s head
and shouted at him,
"Get out the ride."

What could have happened
in this young person’s life
that he chose to do this?

Where did he get the gun?

What did he want the car for?

Even as I write this
I offer prayers to Our Lady for him.
And I remember him
to St. Monica as well.

At the time
I also offered prayers up
for this young man’s mother.

Was she a good mother
whose son went down the wrong path?

Was she a bad mother
who just didn’t care?

Was this young man’s mother deceased?

Whoever she was
and whatever the situation
I found that I needed to offer prayers for her as well.

You know,
it isn’t just sacred space
because we worship there,
because the church building is there.

It’s sacred space
because we walk on it.

It’s sacred space
because we drive through it.

Outer Drive and Fort Street.
It’s a sacred land
because no matter how many times
I drive through that intersection
I always feel the sudden desire to pray.

Thank you, Mary G.
This time your point view
truly proved to be the only point of view to have.

There IS always enough time
to pray three Hail Marys.


About the photo:
Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day 2007
St. Hedwig Parish
Detroit, MI

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Citing the Women

In one of the comments in my previous blog entry,
someone mentioned that they did not know
some of the biblical women I mentioned.
So, I promised that person that I would give the references
where these ladies can be found.

I’ve been looking up references
and double checking all of the numbers.
I do believe I have them all in check now.
Sorry it has taken so long
to finally give the biblical references.

But here we go!

Women Omitted from the Lectionary:
Huldah, the Prophetess (2 Kings 22:13-19)
Lois and Eunice (2 Timothy 1:4,5)
Phoebe (Romans 16:1,2)
. . . .as I continued to write this blog entry,
it slowly became clearer why Phoebe was left out of the lectionary. . .

Women in brackets as optional in the Lectionary:
The Prophetess named Ana
(Luke 2:22-40) Lectionay #524
The woman with a hemorrhage
(Mark 5:21-43) Lectionary #99
the woman who anointed Jesus on the head
(Matthew 26:6-13) Lectionary #38

Old Testament Ladies:
Ruth (Ruth has an entire piece of the Old Testament, can be found after Judges and before 1 Samuel)
Miriam (Exodus 15:20,21 - Miriam actually makes several appearances in the Old Testament . . .Numbers 12, Micah 6:4. . but she was forgotten in v. 21 of Psalm 70 as only Moses and Aaron are mentioned there.)
Hanna (1 Samuel 1:1-20)
Rebekah (Genesis 24, Romans 9:10-12)
Hosea’s Wife (Hosea 1:2,3)
Lot’s wife, Gomer (Genesis 19:26, Luke 17:32)
Tamar (Genesis 38)
Judith (Judith can be found in the Old Testament after Tobit and before Esther)

Women with No Name in the New Testament:
The Woman at the Well (John 4:1-42)
The Woman from Cana (Matthew 25:21-28)
The Woman bent over (Luke 13:11-13)
Peter’s Mother-In-Law (Mark 1:30,31)
The Child of Talitha Koum (Mark 5:35-43)
The Woman Caught in Adultery (John 8:1-11)
The Woman Who Anoints Jesus (Luke 7:36-50)
The Daughters of Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-29)
The Women Jesus Appeared to (Luke 24:1-12)

And oh,
I realize that there are a number of women
that I did not mention in my previous blog post.
Rest assured,
that I did not forget them.

Here’s a partial list:
Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-45)
Rahab (Joshua 2:1-21)
Delilah (Judges 16:4-22)
Bilhah and Silpah (Gen.16:4-22)
Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:1-7)
The Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-13)
Abigail (1 Samuel 25:14-31)
Rachel (Jeremiah 31:15-17)
Mary Magdalen (John 20:1-18)
Damarias (Acts 17:3-34)
Priscilla (Acts 18: 1-3, 18-19, 24-26)
Mary, Junia, Tryphaena and Tryphosa (Romans 16:6-13)
Mary of Bethany (John 12:1-8)
Tabitha (Acts 9:36-43)
Lydia (Acts 16:9-15)

And finally,
as perhaps the hardest for some to swallow,
a few excerpts regarding women deacons.
Now, rest assured,
that I am no advocate,
neither pro nor con,
for women’s ordination.
And while I know that the words "deacon" and "deaconess"
may have a different meaning from the original Greek
and in the context of history,
the fact remains that the word "deaconess" (Diakonos)
is used in the works quoted below.
And so, I simply state
that the following documents exists.

And the first document I quote is the bible
"I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is also a minister (diakonos) of the church in Cenchrae, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the holy ones, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a benefactor to many and to me as well." (Romans 16:1,2)


Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.)
"A Woman shall not receive the laying on of hands as a deaconess under forty years of age, and then only after searching examination. And if, after she has had hands laid on her and has continued for a time to minister, she shall despise the grace of God and give herself in marriage, she shall be anathematized and the man united to her." (Canon 15)

The Council of Trullo (692 A.D.)
(also known as Quinisext Council)

" Let the canon of our holy God-bearing Fathers be confirmed in this particular also; that a presbyter be not ordained before he is thirty years of age, even if he be a very worthy man, but let him be kept back. For our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized and began to teach when he was thirty. In like manner let no deacon be ordained before he is twenty-five, nor a deaconess before she is forty." (Canon 14)

Citing the Women.
It’s been more fun
and thought provoking
than I ever would have realized.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Letter to St. Peter's Wife

My Dearest Rock Princess,

First of all,
I hope you don’t mind my calling you "rock princess."
I just figure that since you are married to "the Rock"
I should really honor that.
And I didn’t want folks to confuse that
and think I was referring to the actor
named Dwayne Johnson.
And, being that your husband was the first Pope and all,
I just consider you as sort of royalty.
Besides,
it never occurred to the scripture writers to call you by name.
So.. .I call you"Rock Princess."

I’ve written to your husband, San Pedro, a couple of times.
But you know,
I just thought it was high time I contacted you.

Tell me, Princesa, tell me the truth.
What role did women play in the early church?
I’d rather ask you than read it in some theology text book.
Mind you,
I’ve studied formally at seminary.
But I would just rather hear it
from a woman who was there.

What happened to the role of deaconess
that we read about in Romans?
And why did the so called "scholars"change the text?
Does not the original Greek say "deaconess?"
What happened to them?

And does it bother you
that people don’t recognize you as the first Pope’s wife?
Did you and San Pedro have any children?
What are there names?
Can you tell me something about them?
Did you and the pope have any grandchildren?

And tell me,
how active a role did your mother play
in helping to form the early church?
And the child of Talitha Koum,
was that a relative of yours and Pedro?

And tell me, Princesa,
What do you think of what has happened to Sister Louise?
I mean,
I fully understand that the church must guard her teachings,
protect what’s important.
But what is important?
"Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again."
Isn’t this the truth we must guard?
Isn’t what happed to Sister Louise
nothing more than Ecclesial Espionage?
Where will the hidden cameras be next?
Who will we see praying with whom on camera?
And then condemn them for it. . .
It just doesn’t seem right.

The church says " don’t do this. Don’t go there."
And then, the church goes and does it.

And what is going on in St. Louis anyway?
I, for one, truly admire Fr. Bozek.
I cannot say that I agree
with everything he has said or has done.
But I admire him.

I mean,
you can’t have dialogue
unless and until someone first speaks.
When someone speaks or writes something
and those words make you think,
its like activating brain cells.
Whether you agree or disagree is irrelevant at first.
The point is that you form thought
triggered by the words of another.

If someone speaks or writes
and it makes another think
I believe that those words serve a purpose.
For once brain cells are activated action is certain to follow.
And if the reader or listener
can offer a comment or challenge,
well, only then do we have dialogue.

And so,
I admire Fr. Bozek because he makes me think.

To think:
Something that I dare say
the church has historically not expected of her members.

Sadly,
for Fr. Bozek and Sister Louise there was no real dialogue.
It would seem excommunication is handed out
like free parking passes lately.
And I dare to say
that it has lost its power.

My apologies, Princesa, if my sarcasm is showing.
But you know,
The nopalito will never flower
without the espinas to protect her.

Anywy, my point is
that Sister Louise and Fr. Bozek. . .
. . . .Their words and their actions
all somehow make me think of you.

I wonder. . .
If you were on this earthly plain today. . . .
Would the church spy on you with a hidden camera?
Would the church consider you a harlot
because you had an intimate
marital relationship with a Pope?
Would the church condemn all of your comadres
via guilt by association?

Or,
Would the church consider you a rezadora,
pastora de la comunidad?


Alas,
the church doesn’t even bother to remember you by name.

But I remember you
and I think of you often.
And I am inspired by women like you.

Please,
give my "hello" to all of the Gospel Girlfriends that,
like you, were never given a name in scripture:
Girlfriend at the Well, The Comadre from Cana,
the woman bent over,
Tu mamá.

Oh,
and give my greetings to the gals of the Old Testament:
Ruth, Miriam, Hanna, Rebekah, Hosea’s Wife,
Lot’s wife, Tamar, Judith. . .all of the girls.

Please remember me to those ladies
the lectionary places in brackets
as women optional to our story:
The Prophetess named Ana, The woman with a hemorrhage.
the woman who anointed Jesus on the head.

For the fact is,
they are not optional to me at all.

And send my greetings
to those women whose stories
are completely omitted from the lectionary:
Shiphrah and Puah, Deboraha, Huldah the Prophetess,
Phoebe, Lois and Eunice.
It would seem that some women
are still being cut from the story.

Finally, and most importantly,
please remember me to Lupita in a very special way.
Let Her know that when difficulties arise
I remember Her words,
"Am I not here, I who am your mother?"
Let Her know that when I remember Her words,
I feel inspired, encouraged and accompanied
in all of life’s difficult moments
and joyous moments as well.

You are so lucky, Princesa.
You got to know Her in person.

Thank you, Princesa, for taking the time to read my letter.
I admire you more than you may ever know.

-Tu Amiga,
Rubi.

Ps
Tell me, Princesa,
when are you going to start your own blog?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A Letter to St. Peter's Wife
(c) 2008, Rubi Martinez-Bernat.

About the author:
Rubi works in the area of music and liturgy in the Archiodese of Detroit and has several blogs and websites, including: LiturgyHouse.org. Permission is given to use this writing on websites or blogs as is in it's entirety provided that: 1) Author name and copyright are included; 2) this paragraph must be included with clickable link in this paragrah; 3) Nothing may be deleted or added. All other use in all other media prohibited.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fundraiser for Mexican Ballet


In a few of my blog entries, I’ve mentioned a parish with a dance troupe. Actually, it is a Mexican Folkloric Ballet. They are an outstanding group of performers and hail from St. Gabriel Parish in Detroit. They are having a fundraiser. You’ll find the details below.

The funds will benefit the group’s new costumes. Some of which, I may add, are elaborate and absolutely gorgeous!

But you know, if you can’t make it to this event, you may just want to drop a check in the mail.

Mail to:
St. Gabiel
8118 W. Vernor Highway
Detroit, MI 48209-1524

Please make check payable to St. Gabriel, but put “dance group” or “asi es mi tierra” in the memo line so that Esther, the parish secretary, will be able to apply accordingly.
If you can't make the event, please do contribute what you can.
Show your support
of a unique program for children and youth.
Show your support
of the really great works
being done by a parish in the inner city.
Show your support
of culture and the arts, especially folkloric ballet.
But please support this excellent group.
Here are the event details:

Loteria Mexicana
El Ballet Folklorico Mexicano ' Asi Es Mi Tierra'
invita a una Loteria Mexicana

The Mexican Folkloric Ballet
“Asi Es Mi Tierra”Invites Everyone to Mexican Bingo

Lugar / Place
Cafeteria de la Iglesia San Gabriel
St. Gabriel Parish Cafeteria
8118 W. Vernor, Detroit, MI

Hora / Time:
2:00 PM

Fecha / Date
Domingo 13 de Julio del 2008 / Sunday July 13, 2008

Precio:/price
$10.00 (tickets) 2 tablas/20 juegos (2 cards/20 games)

A beneficio de:
Vestuario Grupo Folklorico

To Benefit: Dance costumes for group

Antojitos y Refrescos de venta
Food and beverages for sale

For more info or tickets contact:
Yolanda Perez 734-642-5414 or Sra Ofelia 313-730-6680

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

EE - Part 1: What is Web 2.0?

Electronic Evangelization - Part 1: What is Web 2.0?

As promised,
I am going to tackle this whole idea
of using the internet for Electronic Evangelization.
And I begin this series of blog entries
with Part 1: What is Web 2.0?

Now, in a previous blog entry some time ago,
I stated that I am not black hat,
meaning bad guy computer hacker.
I stated that I am not white hat,
meaning good guy computer hacker.
Actually, I am closer to red had,
old lady having fun on the computer.

So if my explanation of web 2.0
seems less than technical,
that is why.

But if I,
a non-technical middle-aged woman
having fun on a computer
can reap the benefits of web 2.0,
then I am most certain
that churches across our fair land
can use this bit of information
as they traverse the road less traveled,
the way of Electronic Evangelization.

Web 2.0 is, basically,
a way of sharing and mashing together information.
It’s like a sharing of resources.
This idea shouldn’t seem too far-fetched
as in the off-line world of church,
parishes are merging and clustering;
i.e., sharing their resources.
Web 2.0 is the same idea,
the sharing of resources,
but in the online world.

For example,
if I created something,
a video, for example,
I give you permission to use it
and post it to your site.
Ask any teenager
who has done exactly this
to their MySpace profile page.
That, my friends,
is Web 2.0 101.

Now, in another previous blog entry
I wrote about the Latino U.S. vote.
I borrowed a video from Youtube
that I thought was appropo.
The video plays on my blog
thanks to the beauty that is web 2.0.
YouTuber NuevaVista70 left the embed code public,
allowing me to "share" this video.
(I’ll explain how to use embed code in other Rubi Writing.)

Web 2.0 is about sharing and collaborating.
Web 2.0 is about building your content
and then allowing the community
to build upon it and, sometimes, enhance it.

And the even greater beauty of web 2.0
Is that as the community builds it
more people come. . . .
. . . hmmm, sounds like a definition of Liturgy to me,
if ever I learned it:
Liturgy, from the Greek, "Laos Ergon."
Meaning, The Work of the People.

OK. . .
. . .maybe I’m stretching it a bit here,
even Rambling as Rubi is known to do. . .

But the point is,
you don’t have to create it all on your own.
The World Wide Web and her people
(all of us)
are working together.
And that,
my friends,
is the beauty of web 2.0.
We are connecting to people,
connecting with people
that we may otherwise
never be able to connect with.

Web- based communities, wikis, blogs,
social-networking sites:
These are all web 2.0.
(OK. . wikis can pose problematic at times,
as these can prove to be people re-writing history,
but more on that later. . . )

Blogger, MySpace, YouTube, Yuwie,
Rotatrix, Flikr. . . .
All of them are web 2.0,
and all of them are FREE!

So,
what does this have to do with spreading The Word?
Let me give you a fairly easy example.
Post your Pastor’s Passionate Preaching on Youtube.
Then, post it to your parish blog and website.
(Hopefully, you have a parish blog and website.
I’ll explain why you should have both
in another Rubi Writing.)


Then, have members of the congregation
post it to their Youtube, MySpace, Yuwie, Rotatrix.
It’s your Pastor become virtual and viral.
I mean,
how many times have we all spread
an inspirational story,
some photos,
a joke, etc.
You send it to me.
I send it to my circle of emails.
Some of those folks will send it on.
And so on and so on and so on.
What if. . .
. . .we actually send the pastor’s preaching?
That Word your pastor just preached last Sunday
has now gone all over the world wide web.

But more,
because you left that embed code public
in the YouTube account,
any other pastor,
or anyone for that matter,
can use it for his website or blog.

And because there is room for commentary,
your pastor’s preaching may actually gain value
and viral momentum
as other’s learned in The Word
add bits and pieces of insight
into the comments section.

At Youtube,
you can post a link to your church website or blog
right on your profile page.
You can even post a link
to your church’s site(s)
in the description of the video.

Why,
you can even add text via annotations
to your video.
While you can only link back
to your profile page,
you can still have the text to the link visible:
StJohnDoeParish.org
(Again, I’ll explain how to do all of this
in another Rubi Writing.)


So. . . with the links from YouTube,
you are not only spreading
The Good Word,
with your Pastor’s Passionate Preaching.
You are encouraging folks
to visit your parish website,
where,
hopefully,
there’s a lot more good stuff
for them to learn about. . .
. . .and maybe even a phone number
or email address
where they can ask about
joining your parish!

Now,
what if you posted that same video
not only on YouTube,
but on GodTube and GoogleVideo,
and other sites?
Traffic to your parish website
will explode!

Now,
what if a Presbyterian Pastor also Preached Passionately
and posted to YouTube
and left the embed code public.
Why,
you can "share" in his talented preaching
and do all of the above
all over again.
It might not be your pastor
or your religious denomination,
but it may be eloquent and marvelous
and something your parish wishes to share with others.
Bingo!
You’re evangelizing electronically,
web 2.0 style!
What's more,
the internet has allowed you to share resources
and even helped to create
an ecumenical atmosphere!

Once again, I need to state
that I am in no way suggesting
that the computer replace face to face
person to person evangelization.

But you know,
I remember in the olden days,
a pastor could be found everywhere in the community,
trying to bring the faith
to wherever the people were.

I remember when I was growing up
the pastor in all his collared glory,
was at the 4th of July festival
greeting and meeting folks.

I remember him going
to the local arcade
to be present to the young folks.

The fact of the matter is,
the venue with the largest number of people
who need evangelizing
is the internet.
By and large,
this is where we’ll find our youth.

If we are going to bring young people to church,
we first need to hang out
at the places they hang out,
i.e.; MySpace, YouTube, etc.

The internet is growing
by leaps and bounds.
A new blog goes up every ½ seconds.
There is a lot of trash out there.
Somebody really has to take up the task
of spreading a little Jesus
to all of this electronic parchment.

There's a lot more to web 2.0 than this.
That little organ button at the top left
of this blog is an RSS button.
That's another fine example,
and something which your parish blog
should use,
But. . .again. . .I'll walk you through that
in another blog entry.

. . .and oh, those bookmarking sites are web 2.0, too!

So,
share your resources.
As you share your content across the World Wide Web
you'll find it's not that hard to share your faith
and do a little Electronic Evangelization in the process!

YouTuber, mwesch,
created this video about web 2.0
a short while back.
This says it all.
Enjoy!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Defining Quadraparroquial

After yesterday's blog entry,
several asked me what Quadraparroquial means.

Parroquial means "Parish."
Like, Parroquial School means a school run by the parish.

So, if I invent a word like Quadraparroquial,
what I am saying is that I feel at home
in four different parishes.

But it's slowly growing to five.

My first home is
St. Elizabeth Parish in Wyandotte, MI
I'm the music director there
and have been at this parish for 3 years now.
St. Elizabeth - My Primary Parroquial Home.

My second home is
St. Alfred Parish in Taylor, MI.
I lead the music for the afternoon Spanish mass
twice a month.
I've been here for about 3 years now as well.
Bi-Parroquial Defined.

My third parish home is
St. Gabriel Parish in Detroit, MI.
(turn your speakers up if you click the link.
Fr. Jaime is a professional musician!)
I subbed for a musician about 2 years ago
while he was out of town.
This was for the 7:00p.m. Spanish Mass.
Then I stepped in when their parish organist died,
but only for a mass or two.
And then I got called back during Lent
to lead for the Spanish mass again.
Tri-Parroquial Defined.

During the school year on weekdays
I can sometimes be found,
not at the organ bench
or piano bench,
but in the pew at
St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Allen Park, MI.
My son attends high school there,
and well,
I just sometimes worship there because I'm there!
I started attending daily mass when my son
was in middle school.
He would read or be an altar server
and I was just the mom showing some love and support.
Quadra-Parroquial Defined.

Lately, however, it would seem I need to add a 5th parish to the list:
St. Hedwig; Detroit, MI.
I'm still not quite as comfortable here as in the above parishes.
But I've certainly been called to serve as a musician
for special masses (Weddings and 15eras).
I'll be at St. Hedwig twice in July.
. . .and becoming Quinte-Parroquial!

You know,
I have to admit that it really feels good
knowing that I can feel at home
in a number of different places.
Would that all parishes could be as welcoming
as the ones mentioned above.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Electronic Evangelization

I received a call from my pastor last week..
. . .well, o.k. . .
one of my pastors.
The truth is,
I've been practicing tri-parrobics.. . .
. . . sometimes, during the school year, even quadra-parrobics. .
but that's another blog entry.

Anyway,
my pastor called me because the new parish website was finally up.
It took a really long time to move that project
and I could just hear the pride in his voice.
I didn't want to pop his bubble,
but it really was only a homepage.
The project took a long time,
for a variety of reasons.
And I could tell he was just so happy.

He called because he was asking me how to use Youtube.
How do you upload?
How do get the code?
Do you need an account?

I remember discussing using youtube
for Electronic Evangelization with this particular website committee
quite some time ago.
The response from one of the members
was that we should use Godtube instead.
I remember saying we should use them all:
Youtube, Godtube. Google video. . .
The thing is,
I don't think everyone understood why I said that.
As usual,
I was thinking way outside the box.
Way, way outside the box.

So, I've decided that I will use this blog
to give a step by step for using Youtube.
And I'm going to that for a variety of reasons.
First, because my pastor asked me how to do this.

But mostly,
I'm going to do this
because I think most parishes still don't quite get
the idea of using the internet
for viral marketing.
Let alone, for Electronic Evangelization.

I think many
don't have a clue as to just why places
like MySpace are reaping success.
But more,
many don't know how to use web 2.0
for Electronic Evangelization.
I dare to say
that many pastors and parish lay leaders
don't even know what web 2.0 is!

And another thing,
Blogs are VERY important in this online age we live in.
Parishes need to blog everything.
Blog religious ed news.
Blog the pastors column.
Blog social ministry updates.
A blog will give you more "space"
than a traditional printed bulletin.
I mean,
the content is already created every week.
Just click it into a blog.

Blogs will get traffic faster than a traditional website.
Mostly because they are updated often.
Google likes to see frequent updates.
The more updates, the better.

And blogs are interactive.
People can comment and react
to all things written.

But blogs also offer other benefits,
which I will also detail in future blog entries.
Again,
it's about Electonic Evangelization.
And using tools that are so readily available to us.

You're probably wondering what the heck I'm
rambling on about here.
So,
I've decided that I'm going to do a series of blog entries,
a Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, if you will.
Not just to give a step-by-step of using Youtube.
But why we should be using these online places
for Electronic Evangelization.

These places:
Youtube, Myspace, Blogger. .
They're all FREE!
Why not use them?
Plus,
it's a great way to get young people involved
in a parish ministry.
Most teens already have a Youtube and/or Myspace.
Most teens know some basic html.
I know my 14, soon to be 15,-year-old
knows way more html than I do!

So, use their teenage knowledge.
Invite them into an electronic ministry. . . .
. . .The creativity could be phenomenal. . .

. . .oops! . . .
I jumped out of the box again. . .

Oh. . .and somewhere along the way
I'll write about using the internet
for fundraisers.
I think many parishes may be missing
an opportunity in this arena as well.
But first,
we really need to learn other things.

Now, don't get me wrong.
I am in no way suggesting that we replace
good old fashioned parish life and ministry with the internet.
Far from it!

What I am suggesting
is that we use the internet
to our benefit.

Oh, still another thing,
If your parish has a very special group or ministry,
they really should have both their own blog and website.
For example,
one of the parishes I frequent has a dance troupe.
They, my friends, are quite deserving
of their own online home.
And this for a variety of reasons.
But, again, I'll detail why in the weeks to come.

O.K.
Enough of Rubi's Ramblings for one morning.
I have mass at two parishes today.
So. . today I'm only practicing the art
of being bi-parroquial!

Be sure to check back for this
Electronic Evangelization series!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Mission

I don’t go to the movies much these days.
I only have basic cable
and I can tell you that I watch more
Little House on the Prairie,
Seventh Heaven, and Touched by an Angel
than anything else.

OK,
I do manage to watch Beverly Hillbillies
and I Love Lucy reruns.
(Ricky Ricardo was a Latino before his time,
but that’s another blog entry!)

When my sons were younger,
we’d be at the theater every other week.
My eldest sons are now in their twenties.
But,
I can tell you
that when my sons were training to become altar servers
they were top notch,
remembering all of the special names of things liturgical.

I’ll never forget when Fr. Kelly
asked the group of young folks in front of him
what the name of the this was,
as he pointed to the ambo.
My boys were the only ones to raise their hands.
When called upon,
they answered correctly.
"How did you remember that,"
asked the priest.
My sons responded in the only way
a moving going youngster could,
"Because it’s like Rambo,
only without the ‘r.’"

Yes, the Rambo movies
were quite popular in the mid 80's.
But there was another movie
that went almost unnoticed
around the same time.
In fact,
I think it was more popular South of the Border
than in the United States.
It starred a very young Robert De Niro.
So young, in fact,
that when I watched the movie last night,
I barely recognized him.
It was his voice that gave him away. . .

Anyway, thinking of this film for a few days recently,
I went to my local video renting place
to see if I could find a copy.
Sadly, they didn’t carry it.
Couldn’t find it at the library either.
I did the only thing I could do:
I bought it online over at Amazon.com

It’s a true story about a Jesuit mission
and the wonderful gift of music
God has graced an indigenous community with.

It’s a story that begins
with a missionary
gaining the trust and confidence of the indigenous
through music.
It’s a story that ends
with music that survives
when not much else does.
(And this reminds of the woman
who works at the archdiocese
who told me music isn’t evangelization,
but that’s another blog entry as well!)

It’s a movie about brave and daring missionaries,
and dare I say,
very hard working men,
who brought Christ
to those the world said
where nothing more than animals without souls.

It’s a story about men
who trap other men and use them for slaves.
It’s also a story about men
who are slaves to wealth and power.

It’s a story about a bishop
who knew what was right, just and moral
but deciding to side
with those of earthly power and greed.

It’s a story about murder,
conversion and penance.
And a story about forgiveness.

It’s a story about one man’s
journey of faith
as he answers the call to priesthood.

It’s a story about the horrors experienced
by a community
and the Jesuits who risked their very lives,
indeed, risked excommunication
to protect and guard the sacred
when the church, herself, would not.

Buy it.
Rent it.
Just watch it.
The name of the movie is,
"The Mission."
It starring Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons.
It will tug and your heart strings.


And then make you all the more hungry and thirsty for justice.
What’s scary,
is that it also opens your eyes
to where many of the injustices lie.

. . . .The thing is,
justice cannot be lukewarm.
Yes,
that’s a very scary thought. . . .

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fiddlin' Around

Last weekend I went to the Irish Festival
here in Wyandotte,
the city where I live.

Anyone who knows me very well,
knows that I just love ethnic festivals
and art fairs and what not.

I love all things creative and artistic,
even when not of the genre I prefer.

I mean,
I love a good Mariachi.
But still, I attended the Irish festival.

So, what’s my point?
At this Irish Festival
I had a most wonderful time.
A wonderful and talented group
of young musicians performed, and,
well, what can I say but that they were just awesome!

Being a musician,
I can appreciate the quality of their musicianship.. .
. . taking cues from each other,
acknowledging each other,
assisting each other.

And their preparedness and confidence. . .
. . what a gift!
And they just seemed to be having
one good time!
To top it all off,
they were all teenagers!

Now, why would I blog about this
in a liturgy blog?
As always,
I try to make the connection
between liturgy and life.
I mean,
sometimes we go to church
and listen and pray and sing,
but make no real connection
with what goes on
in the church building on Sunday
and what goes on in everyday life.

The point is,
we need to celebrate the gifts God has given to us.
And we need to expand them
and share them.
And we need to really appreciate
the gifts that others bring,
even when we prefer another genre of gift.
And quite often
that gift is not a part of the Liturgy of Sunday,
indeed,
not even a part of the ecclesial structure at all,
but a part of the Liturgy of Life.

Laos Ergon - remember that?
The work of the people.
In the Liturgy of Life
we are constantly sharing the gift,
expanding the gift,
receiving the gift,
accepting the gift,
giving the gift.
Sadly,
unless it’s connected to the institutional church,
many just plain don’t recognize the giftedness of others.

These young people celebrate,
share, and are obviously
constantly expanding their gift.

Their parents recognized the gift,
and did what they could,
are doing what they can,
to bring out the gift.

Their teachers recognized the gift,
and did what they could to make the gift more.

And, together,
the community around these young people
are bringing this gift to others. . .
. . .which is how I came upon them
at the Irish festival.

The thing is,
when you celebrate the gifts
that our Good and Gracious God has given you,
well,
that plain and simply is
a song of praise to the Master Designer.

Enough of Rubi’s Ramblings.
Here they are
in a video I took in Wyandotte, MI.
Don’t forget to visit them at their website:
FiddlersRestrung.com


Friday, June 20, 2008

You Reap What You Sow

Do you ever get the feeling that people just stop trying?
Or that people have just gotten plain lazy?

I have a couple of relatives in my family
who are immigrants,
both of which have attained permanent resident status legally.
One of them constantly reflects
on what is going on at work.
The average worker
will only do the minimum amount of work necessary
to receive the maximum amount of wages.
Conversely,
the employer will pay the minimum amount in wages,
just enough to keep his employees.

What ever happened to giving your all?
You know, a company is only as successful as her employees.
It would do us well to give a little more, especially nowadays.

If we work hard for our employer
then maybe our employer won’t go out of business.

And maybe you can’t pay your employees a whole lot,
with the economy being what is and all.
But you know,
giving out a Christmas ham
or turkey at Thanksgiving
might just be the edge
to keep your workers giving just a little more.
If you don’t normally have your staff work on weekends
but need them this Saturday for a special order that’s due,
buy their lunch.
Take care of your workers and maybe,
just maybe, they’ll take care of you.

Somehow,
many have just plain forgotten that we reap what we sow.

And last week,
I got really flustered.. . .even angry.
Now, I manage my anger pretty well.
I’m usually even tempered enough
to really examine a person’s motives and thoughts
before I explode at something they said or did.
I think what made me angry at what happened
was that the person didn’t do anything. . .
. . .and what they said showed me
that they weren’t even listening.

I went to local grocery store
and while there it started to rain very hard
with wind blowing pretty mightily, too.
Understandably, many of the shopping carts
had blown all over the parking lot.
One of them was on the way out to the street
where it would surely cause a major accident.
And then there were several more
that were being pushed
in that same direction by the wind. . . .

. . . .I suppose I should have gotten out of my car
in the wind and rain and all,
blocked the cars behind me, etc. . .
. . .Hindsight is 20/20. . .
but I did what I thought was the next best thing. . .
I called the grocery store on my cell phone
(I wasn’t the one driving!).
I mean,
they have employees who gather the carts, don’t they?
Not that I wanted to see anyone get drenched.
But that would have been better that seeing an accident.

Well.. . .It took me forever to get an actual person.
Push 1 for this. Push 2 for that.. .
and then a sub audio index. ..
Push 1 for this. Push 2 for that. . .
When I finally got through to an actual living person
she said I had the wrong number.

I tried to explain to her that I had just left the store
and was in my car
and the carts were on their way to Eureka road.
She told me to hang up
and dial again and ask for customer service. . . .?. . . .
I suppose it was just too much for her to transfer me
or to just plain communicate this information to the appropriate person herself.
Sadly, this grocery store has at least one employee
who has just stopped trying.

I mean, she didn’t even try hard enough
to placate me with a lie,
"thank you, ma’am. I’ll take care of right away."
She told me to hang up and call again. . . .

Oh. . and then, there’s the cell phone company.
We recently renewed one of the contracts.
We don’t have a land line,
but between us we have 5 cell phones.

OK.
Time to renew one of the contracts.
Well, the bill comes in with all sorts of charges,
extras I didn’t ask for
and one thing that was a part of the last contract
that I asked not to add this time around. . . .

And to top it all off,
when we got the phone, we had a problem.
When you push to get your voice mail,
it didn’t go to voice mail at all.
It rang someone else’s cell.

So, we get a call from the company
to see how we like the service.
I was polite,
but I told them about all the things that went wrong.
They promised to clear up the excess charges
and offered apologies.

Just to be sure,
I went to the place where the contract was made
a couple of days later.
The fact is, all of those charges were still on the phone.

And then. . . .the one assisting me
accused me of setting the wrong phone
number for the voice mail,
when, in fact, the very person who was accusing me
was the one who set everything on the phone
the day the contact was renewed. . . .

I mean, have people just stopped trying or what???
What did this cell company reap?
Next time around, we won’t be using them.

So, what’s my point with all of this venting?
My point is that sometimes adults
need to go back and relearn some basic stuff.

Say, "I’m sorry," if you’ve made a mistake.

Say, "please," when you should.

If you promise to do something, then, just do it.
If something happens that you are unable to follow through,
offer an apology and see what you can do to make it right.

Don’t accuse someone
of your own error.

Say, "thank you, " often.
To God.
To your family and friends.
I have learned that the more you say, "thank you,"
the more blessings you’ll receive.

The more you say "thank you,"
the more reasons you will have
to say, "thank you."

Reciprocate, if possible,
when someone does something nice for you.
And again, a "thank you" goes a long way.

And remember,
always give a little bit more when you are able.
A little extra time,
a little extra effort.
Send out a little extra prayer.
You’ll appreciate this later,
when it’s your turn to reap.
And the thing is,
we never know when that is going to be.

You reap what you sow.
It’s really not that hard a lesson
to learn from the Gospel.