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

The wedding crasher…

Recently, I attended a wedding party/reception (but not the actual wedding as it was in Ireland) and there was a wedding crasher of the most unusual sort.. and of course it was meant for me.

I met a very pleasant young man, who was there with his wife, who is a colleague of the groom– lawyers most of them in attendance (this is DC after all- you can’t swing a dead cat without… you know the rest) except this guy: you see, he is a priest.

Well of course, I can’t stop myself in mentioning that I too, am a priest- retired I assured him surely, and we exchanged small talk while waiting in line for the buffet. I certainly could have said, “I’m an ambulance driver” or something and that’s where it would have ended- but not today, and not for me.

We became completely disconnected from the entire reception, each of us casting aside our spouses for the good part of 90 minutes- literally sitting in the middle of the saloon on chairs, all but oblivious to everyone else, engaged in what our spouses and friends laughingly joked was “shop talk.”

Well, it got real…

We talked about the nature of sin, the current environment of “Fearful Christians” and what does it take to get Christians to “Stand up and Look up.” We discussed the state of the church catholic, the pope, gay marriage, female ordination.. the whole gambit.

It was a very deep conversation.. my brain hurt. Not in the “ouch too much tequila and too little memory pain” but in the stretched my brain to places it hasn’t gone in a while pain. Definitely took her out for a good ole run around the block.. it was a good ache, one I have not experienced in a long while.

After we returned to our spouses, I realized how much social justice we were surrounded by in this pub, which donates all it’s profits to open small schools in the 3rd world- 18 to date as I recall. I then realized that even in the midst of the examples of this socially responsible business, we priests had missed something, and it made me ponder what the evening meant.

In the midst of our deep conversation, surrounded by the reminders of social justice mission work, all the other attendees went to eat at the top floor of the bar (think loft space etc.) so there we were, two priests, talking about mission, ministry, lost souls, and getting people to stand up, in this room all alone; or so I thought. You see, off in the corner there was a young man… in a wheelchair… all alone.

It wasn’t until we were done talking and returning, him to his wife, and me to my husband, that we realized this young man was left all alone in a room full of people, seemingly forgotten- even by the priests who spent ninety minutes lamenting the fear Christians hold onto, which makes it too difficult for them to  stand up.

So, I have been pondering this experience all week and what it means. Some of my priest friends feel that events like this are reminders to me of my priesthood and that I should come out of my self-imposed retirement. I’m not so sure. More often than not, I feel God brought me into ministry, and then showed me it was time to step aside.  These reminders of my Christianity are very important to me, and I am certainly open to the gentle wake of the Holy Spirit as it moves through my soul- but I think my time as a true spiritual guide have passed. Still, all in God’s time.

Oh.. almost forgot.. that wedding crasher.. well, I guess I’m not sure. I thought, in my self-centered, self-aware, self-importance ego that the crasher was the Holy Spirit- there to upset my apple cart.

But maybe, The Holy Spirit was there all along, and the man in the wheelchair was his company to keep.

And just maybe, I was the wedding crasher.

May God give you peace…

M.