Refuge

Refuge is a word that has been on my heart a lot over the past six months. Its cousin-word, “refugee”, has been very prominent in the news during the past few years, and for good reason. Thousands of Syrians left their homes to find a safer, healthier and happier place to live. A few of those families were helped by my home parish of St. Augustine’s, and we welcomed them into our community, helping them get a fresh start with housing, clothing, ESL classes and fellowship. For many of us, we will never find ourselves needing to leave home and start anew somewhere else. I do feel, though, that in our lives, we are in need of some kind of refuge. We need a safe place to go to, away from busy routines, emotional turmoil, mental health struggles and more. As part of a planning committee at my parish, we discussed ways in which we can better fulfill the needs of our community. In my reflection and prayer, my mind turned towards organizing an event that would help all of us pray about how our parish should proceed, moving forward, but would also help individual needs, too. I brought forward a plan to re-introduce the practice of monthly evenings of Eucharistic adoration to our parish. These evenings would provide an opportunity for those gathered to pray, in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, supported by music, words of reflection, and times of silence. In this way, a dynamic prayer experience would be created in which people could find refuge. Refuge, for those who attend, is an opportunity to unburden...

Music Selections for Mass

For the past 10 years, I have played an active role in music selection for the masses which I have led or co-led for Sunday liturgies, feast days, and retreats. During that time, I have done a lot of research and self-teaching to train myself on how to be better at selecting appropriate songs, hymns and psalms that connect to the readings for each mass. Many parishes include a section devoted to their music ministry and, sometimes, songs are listed there for each Sunday. There are also a multitude of bloggers who have shared their own song selections. Then there are more official documents from organizations like Lifeteen and the CCCB (for the Catholic Book of Worship) with song suggestions for each week and each liturgical season. Many times, I have immersed myself amongst these resources, spending hours at a time planning for a  month or 6-week block of masses. Many times, however, I have been frustrated because I can’t easily find a resource that has a combination of hymnal/traditional and contemporary selections. They are often separated, in the same way that I see music leaders arguing about which is better: traditional and Gregorian Chant or contemporary Catholic & praise & worship music. So, I would return to the readings of the day and try to make the best connection I could to my own personal songbook and the hymnal my parish used the most. While I am not a scholar of church liturgy, my quest to marry traditional and contemporary styles in a way that finds best practice for antiphon/song selections for each part of the mass is one...