The last Utterance

Catholic Priests & religious throughout the world pray five times a day. Whether you are a nun or the Pope, five times a day, we pray the same prayers. It is one of the many things that unites us as Servants to the Body of Christ.

The last prayer of the day is:

May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death.

Thankfully, God continues to grant me the former, and not the latter!

It’s such a simple, and yet powerful moment, this the last utterance of the day. I have been saying this prayer since Seminary, twenty-five years so far, and it’s meaning and power are never lost on me.

It is an amazing experience! Every day, my sister and brother clerics and I are so willing to bear our souls so completely to God’s will and direction. Whether we wake up here to serve another day or wake up in Heaven, in God’s warm embrace- that we welcome the outcome without reservation.

Sort of brings me to ground. Reminds me that, regardless of where I am or what I am doing, at the end of the day, it’s up to God what happens next.

Sometimes, we need that reminder. Often a hard thing to admit- that we can so easily get ahead of ourselves, forgetting our true nature- our purpose driven life, and focus on ourselves- who we think we are, and all too often- who we want other people to think who we are.

A self-serving life is not a life of sacrifice and service to others.

Grant me a peaceful death takes on new meaning.

Grant me the peaceful death of my self-serving ego; my consumerism, and my self-centered ideal.

Grant me the peaceful death of my self-portrayal of personal importance, my self-aggrandizing, and my poor behavior.

We should all beg for the death of that person within us, so what when we awaken after the restful night we prayed for, we can be renewed, wiped clean, and ready to be Servants of God… and each other.

Grant me a peaceful death.

My Funny Hat

14 years ago today, I laid prostrate in front of the Altar of God. When I rose, I was a successor to the Apostles- a Bishop in Christ’s One Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.

Have I done a good job? Maybe… I won’t know until I see our Lord face to face.

Have I tried my best? Yes. Have I failed? You better believe it.

Am I done? No. Is God done with me? Doubtful.

The best part of being a Bishop is all of you. Your work is the church! Without each of you, there would be no flock for me to shepherd.

If that were the case, I’d just be another old man sitting in a field, wearing a funny hat.

Thank you all for keep me from looking like an idiot… Although, God does protect the foolish!

God Bless you all.

Oh, Gregorio!

My all time favorite ancient piece of Sacred Music is “Miserere Mei Deus” written by Gregorio Allegri . It was written in the early 1600’s for performance only in the Sistine Chapel, with an imposing threat of excommunication of anyone who attempted to make a copy.

In 1770, Mozart was in the Eternal City. Heard the piece performed twice, and in his brilliance, transcribed it note for note, word for word, all 14 minutes of it. The first unauthorized copy of the piece – he left with his Catholicism in tact.

This work is generally considered a prime example, and one of the most recorded pieces of late Renaissance music. It is based on Psalm 50, and is always sung in the presence of the Holy Father on Maundy Thursday.

This isn’t a song for a community sing along! In fact, it takes 2 choirs to sing it.

Why the music history lesson? Well, I was so pleasantly surprised on Ash Wednesday while attending Noon Mass at the Basilica that their choir, split in two and placed at different places within the Great Upper Church sang this amazing piece for us.

When I saw it in the worship leaflet, I leaned over to my son and said “be prepared for tears.” I cannot hear this song and not cry.

It bring me to a profound sense of the divine. My mind takes flight, brings me to a place where I focus only on prayer and supplication- to a place where, my soul resonates with the music.

Good music should be heard by the ears, processed by the mind, and sung by the soul, thus joining us to the choir of Angels in Heaven. Well written, expertly performed with instruments only finely tuned by the hand of God, music should always move us to a sense and awareness of the Creator, His Son and His Mother.

Music makes us better people- and better Christians.

In the 1700’s, playwright William Congreve, in his play The Mounring Bride, coined the phrase, “Music has charms to sooth a savage breast.” True words from British Neoclassical Period.

Music does sooth us! We meet through music, we fall in love with and through music, we breach divides with music, music engages our soul, mind, and heart. Music provides a background of sorrow and celebration for our lives.

And most of all, we sing prayers of thanksgiving to God through music.

Oh Gregorio! Thanks for helping me sing to God.

Amen