Our music

I still miss the churches back home.  Depending on the time of the Mass and the church I attended, I knew exactly what to expect.

Whether the song was Be Not Afraid, which reassures me of God’s love, or On Eagle’s Wings, which chokes me up so badly that I have to fight back the tears if I want to sing along, I’ve always delighted not only in our familiar songs but also in our shared faith.

I still believe what Sister Margaret once told us: God loves to hear our prayers and praise through the music we sing.


Yesterday Jay Masterson, music director at St. Joseph Church, emailed.

Pope Benedict’s love of classical music unites him with many people.  Music is truly an avenue to experience spiritually from many different aspects.  His comments on Schubert add a dimension to my appreciation of the piece.  In addition, he provides us with a window on how music feeds Papa Ratzinger’s soul.  I’m glad he can enjoy music even though he has many concerns about the state of the Church.  With Christ all things are possible.


Today, Jay added this:

Life is short, precious, and filled with  challenges.  Music has been the one thing that I have held in my heart  since my childhood.  Music has comforted and inspired me through tough times even though I have little formal training.  Music transcends time and space, intersects and then penetrates the hard crust of the world system that we occupy in our daily lives.



Dear Saint Cecilia, one thing we know for certain about you is that you became a heroic martyr in fidelity to your divine Bridegroom.  We do not know that you were a musician, but we are told that you heard angels sing.  Inspire musicians to gladden the hearts of people by filling the air with God’s gift of music and reminding them of the divine Musician who created all beauty.  Amen.

O Lord, please bless this music that it might glorify your name.  May the talent that you have bestowed upon me be used only to serve you.  Let this music be a witness to your majesty and love, and remind us that you are always watching, and listening, from your throne above.  May your presence and beauty be found in every note, and may the words that are sung reach the hearts of your people so they will draw closer to you.  May your Spirit guide us through every measure so that we might be the instruments of your peace and proclaim your glory with glad voices.  Amen.

August 20, 2015

If our hearts are given to anything else the way they ought to be given to the Lord, they remain unfulfilled like an unresolved strand of music.  This is why the more we resist God, the more suffering we cause ourselves
(St. Bernard).

November 20, 2015

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song (Psalm 95:1-2).

November 27, 2015

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16).

September 16, 2016

“Your body is the harp of your soul, and it is yours to bring forth sweet music from it or confused sounds” (Kahlil Gibran).

July 21, 2017

The secret of Saint Francis’ joyful spirit was his vibrant belief in a God of overflowing goodness and love.  Francis was so in love with God that at times he would pick up two sticks from the ground, tuck one under his chin like a violin and move the other over it like a bow.  Then, in an ecstasy of joy, he would sing in French songs of love and praise to God.

Francis used to say that he wanted his followers to go about the world like strolling minstrels, “to inspire the hearts of people and stir them to spiritual joy.”  They give us an example to follow in our own day! (Jack Wintz, OFM).

August 23, 2017

“When you pray to God with psalms and hymns, meditate in your heart upon that which you utter with your voice” (St. Augustine).

October 29, 2017

We often think of obedience as compliance with a command.  But this would make God some sort of exalted drill sergeant.  In my experience, most of the time, God doesn’t command.  Rather, God sings, and I sing back.

The singing, I mean, can be as jubilant as the red of God-made tomatoes, as the soaring of a kite or the splashing of children in a pool.  The singing is my heart’s joyous response.  But God’s singing can also be as heavy as the fragrance of lilies in a funeral home, heavy as the news of a friend’s grief.  God’s singing can be as light as harpsichord music or a spring outing, as sad as the howling of a night train or the evening news.  It can be cheerful, enchanting, challenging, amusing.  In everything we experience we can hear God singing, if we listen attentively (Br. David Steindl-Rast in The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life).

Jay’s tribute (below) to Ben, beloved friend & virtuoso accompanist – SJC

Links of interest…  17th century hymn to the Virgin Mary…  Ben Jenkins…  Catholic composers: Hildegard von Bingen…  Classical music (free download)…  Evangelizing power of the pipe organ…  If music be the food of love…  Innocuous but uninspired music at Mass…  Intersection of Catholic faith & modern classical music…  Is singing praying twice…  Lord, I lift your name on high  Music can improve your healthhas long spoken to me / provides a deeper sense of promise…  Musicians perform for pope one of his favorites…  Mystery of the Trinity that we forget…  New kind of music…  Patronage as evangelization…  Pope’s choirmusic…  Pre-battle chant of the Knights Templar…  Ricordi Archive online…  Sacred music: Echoing on earth the heavenly choir…  Saints who were musicians…  Six easy steps to improve the use of music at your church…  Songs come from prayer…  Spring requiems: New Catholic music for mourning…  St. Cecilia: patron saint for musicians, singersprayers…  St. Gregory the Great…  Supreme musical achievement of J.S. Bach…  Three Catholic men, their music & mercy…  To pray, just sing…  Tradition of sacred choral music needs to be “revived”…  “Txichochi Conetzintle” sung for our Lady of Guadalupe…  “Via dolorosa” of sacred music & hope for its resurrection…  Weightless (reducing anxiety)…  Why there’s hope for Catholic liturgical music / we owe our seven musical notes to St. John the Baptist

WP page…  Petitions…  Praise…  St. Joseph

WP post…  August intentions (Jay’s guest post)…  Call of service

Prayer power


“Where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst” (Matthew 18:20).

Prayer works, and miracles do happen!!!

For the one who asks, receives.  The one who seeks, finds.  The one who knocks, enters (Matthew 7:7).

Please join the St. Jude Prayer Circle for the healing of cancer.

FMA-R-416a        FMA-R-416b        FMA-R-416c        FMA-R-416d

FMA-R4-13a        FMA-R4-13b        FMA-R4-13c        FMA-R4-13d

DRSSJ-6057A-a        DRSSJ-6057A-b        DRSSJ-6057A-c        DRSSJ-6057A-d

DSIP-StJ-a        DSIP-StJ-bc        DSIP-StJ-d

Contact information

St. Jude prayer leaflets are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598; the Dominican Rosary Shrine of St. Jude (formerly in Detroit), 501 Sixth Street SW, Washington, DC 20024-2716; and the Dominican Shrine of the Infant of Prague, 5 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, 06511-6815, respectively.

August 3, 2012

“The value of persistent prayer is not that God will hear us, but that we will finally hear God” (William McGill).

July 19, 2014

Prayer is an aspiration of the heart; it is a simple glance directed to heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus (St Thérèse of Lisieux).

April 28, 2015

“He who fights even the smallest distractions faithfully when he says even the smallest prayer will also be faithful in great things” (St. Louis De Montfort).

May 18, 2015

“Prayer is an outburst from the heart, a simple glance darted upward to heaven”
(St Thérèse of Lisieux).

July 11, 2015

“Prayer ought to be short and pure, unless it be prolonged by the inspiration of divine grace” (St. Benedict Joseph Labre).

August 16, 2015

Prayer gives us strength for great ideals, for keeping up our faith, charity, purity, generosity; prayer gives us strength to rise up from indifference and guilt, if we have had the misfortune to give in to temptation and weakness.  Prayer gives us light by which to see and to judge from God’s perspective and from eternity.  That is why you must not give up on praying! (St. John Paul II).

October 30, 2015

An aspiration, like prayer in general, is an elevation of the mind to God.  But it is an elevation that is impelled by love, composed of only a few words, and directed like a dart to God, that he may know the holy affections and desires of the soul.  Like arrows that shoot directly toward their target, these prayers leap, as it were, from the soul directly to God (Fr. Kilian J. Healy, Awakening Your Soul to the Presence of God).

August 1, 2017

Prayer does not end but continues progressing toward greater integration and deeper intimacy with the divine.  Like dancing, the more frequently prayer is practiced, the more graceful and integrated its movement and rhythm become.

The intimacy and the love shared between the lover and the beloved, radiating from each and every moment of the dance, illuminate the relationship in its beauty.  Such a beauty in turn inspires, attracts, and draws others to join in the dance.  Therefore, prayer proceeding from the individual naturally flows out to touch and to enliven the community (Robert J. Wicks in Prayer in the Catholic Tradition).

August 22, 2017

Christian prayer is meant to be profoundly whole— body and soul, affection and thought, heart and understanding.  Such prayer leads to courage, the movement toward reconciliation with God, the beginning of a pilgrimage to our Father’s house (Dr. Anthony Lillies in Fire from Above: Christian Contemplation and Mystical Wisdom).


Links of interest…  Does prayer change God’s mind…  Dominican Rosary Shrine of St. Jude…  Five prayers…  Friends of St. Peregrine (Scotland): homepage / relic…  Claretian National Shrine of St. Jude: home / solemn novena…  Hope for eternal joy…  Go ahead & ask…  Listen for the Spirit in your prayer…  Prayer: & devotions to the Blessed Mother / & seasons / for all occasions (AMM) / for the sick / healing / in time of suffering / little book of caregiver prayers / more / morning & new beginningsof a grateful heart / online prayer book / ten ways to grow in prayer / treasure of 3,398 / why we must pray…  Praying to the saints: gracious advocates / heavenly intercessors / intercessory prayer / litanies / novenas (221) / why pray to the saints…  Recognize the power of prayer…  Suffering with joy

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Blue heaven…  Call of service…  Church time blues…  Forever grateful…  Growing pains…  Healing service…  Holy relics…  Making meaning…  Memorable as ever…  October novena…  One prayer…  Powerful intercessor…  Prayerful ways…  Prayers and blessings…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Saintly connections…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude novena…  St. Jude shrine: Chicago (Claretian) & Corpus Christi…  Stella Maris…  Sweet Jesus…  Today’s beatitudes…  Two angels

August intentions

Pope Benedict XVI has asked people throughout the world to share in his monthly prayer intentions.  For August he asks God (1) that the human family may know how to respect God’s design for the world and thus become ever more aware of the great gift of God which Creation represents for us and (2) that through discernment of gifts and commitment to spiritual formation, holiness may be promoted among the people of God.*

In response, Jay Masterson wrote…

I was touched at how our “Papa Ratzinger” (as the Europeans call him) has subtly interwoven St. Paul’s writings into each of his monthly prayer intentions.  Because we are studying St. Paul this year, each of these two intentions seem to me to echo different themes of St. Paul.


The richness and depth of Paul’s concern for the salvation of Gentile pagans is written largely in several letters to the churches he planted (beyond the well-known sermon to the Greeks at the Aeropagus).  But what is sometimes overlooked is Paul’s concern about the maturity and the holiness of believers who populated the new “churches.”  As I looked through my concordance, I was amazed at how often Paul exhorted believers to a life of holiness.


This study caused me to write down my own reflections on how St. Paul and Papa Ratzinger are increasing my understanding of God’s command to “Be holy even as I you God am holy” (Lv. 19:2).  I have said the prayer of Zechariah hundreds of times in morning prayer, but I never internalized the part about “[serving] him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (Lk. 1:74-75).


Taken as a whole, Paul’s guidance to new believers never stops with a conversion experience.  And his words didn’t stop being valuable at the time of Acts.  My observation is that, just like the early church believers, we who have walked with the Lord a while sometimes lose the excitement of that new love we had when we first found our Lord and Savior and gave our lives to Him.  So it is easy for us to lose sight of the call for ordinary people to be holy.


In my secular life I know that only a dynamic relationship can possess fruitful character, but I don’t apply that to my Christian walk.  I can’t live off memories of the joy of my first love of Jesus.  I require a nurturing experience with Him continuously to be fruitful in bringing others into God’s kingdom.  To paraphrase a dear friend’s comment, “The walk and the talk must match, or it’s no sale.”  My experience teaches me that canned responses to life’s questions will not satisfy cynical, disaffected people.  My life and actions will be a vital witness to them only when my being reflects a living relationship with the Source of my hope, Jesus.  So holiness really isn’t optional; it is a requisite element in my life as a redeemed child of God.

Love and devotion

Our dear Pope has returned often to an overriding theme about the life-giving value of an intimate relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  (Refer to his readable book, Jesus of Nazareth.)  By seeking greater intimacy with someone who knows and loves us so deeply, a life of holiness and clarity can become possible.  Pope Benedict has such a relationship, and it shows.  All self-guided attempts at personal holiness seem doomed to failure because of human pride.  (Even humility becomes prideful, as St. Benedict reminds us.)  Self-righteousness not only turns people off, but also separates us from God’s love and approval, as many of the Psalms state.  Intimacy with Jesus fulfills the deepest longings of my heart to be with Him.  The God-shaped hole St. Augustine spoke of can’t be filled by doctrinal knowledge.  Only increasing love and devotion to Jesus himself can lead me to desire authentic holiness.


In recent years I started some Christ-centered meditation practices.  Through them I have become aware that holiness derives from Him and I can become holy only through growing toward deeper union with Him.  That may be obvious to others, but it was a revelation to me.  The unspoken benefits of meditating on God’s mercy (the Divine Mercy devotion) or in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament are that these practices enable a holy life to develop and to be possible now for us saints with a small s.  The best part is that holiness in our walk attracts people to seek what we have!  When we intimately know that Jesus is our best friend, we exude trust in Him for all things in all circumstances.

Focus on Christ

St. Paul never lost his focus on Christ Crucified and on Him only.  That makes St. Paul’s writings sometimes off-putting.  Yet, his love and tenderness toward new believers appear in every letter we have recorded in the New Testament.  He remained vulnerable and conscious of his need for our Savior to the end.  His weakness became his strength: Paul was approachable, so he could reach believers of three generations while he was alive!  Even 2,000 years after his birth, we are able to relate to Paul’s humanity and his growth in his walk with our Lord.

A holy, living epistle

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that Paul’s call to us to grow from baby Christians consuming simplistic milk to eating the meat of the Gospel is still timely and quite necessary.  Spreading the Gospel isn’t for others in other places; it is something I must do for myself.  If the Holy Spirit so fills me with grace and knowledge of Jesus as my Lord, then that will show in me and in my words and deeds.  My life can become a holy, living epistle.  Zechariah’s prayer applies to me, too!

May our ever-present companion, Jesus Christ, the All Holy One, feed your heart; and may you increase in intimacy with Him.

Affectionately, Jay

*Read more on Amy’s blog and find out about her latest books.  This highly articulate, prolific writer reads all her email and thanks you for writing.

Links of interest…  Amy’s blog…  Pope’s general and missionary intentions…  Amy Welborn

WP posts…  Our music

Little gifts


Last Sunday my prayer buddy Mary B emailed asking that I tune in to Joyce Meyer.

The message

“Working on myself changes my attitude toward others, especially those with whom I’m experiencing conflict” (Meyer, 2008).

Tuesday evening I was multitasking as usual, still ruminating Sunday’s message, ironing, sewing, surfing TV channels.  Steven was at a three-day meeting in DC, so I had the remote control!

Perfect timing

There was Joyce Meyer.  Again.

“I belong to God, and he loves me,” she asked the audience to say.

Her words stopped me in the middle of the kitchen as I made my way to the ironing board.  Steven had been so busy with his meetings that we hadn’t communicated lovingly since he’d left Monday morning, and I missed him.

“Believe and receive”

Build confidence in God’s love.  Confess your love out loud.  Study [the Word].  Read it.  Meditate on it.  Thank him for his love.  But, most of all, say, “I believe God loves me, and I receive it by faith” (Meyer).

Joyce referenced Psalm 86:17: “Grant me a proof of your favor, that my enemies may see, to their confusion, that you, O Lord, have helped and comforted me.

Watch for signs of God’s love.  Record them in a journal… and look for the seemingly silliest things important only to you.

Joyce mentioned the time she’d craved zucchini bread, only to be surprised by a woman in the audience who’d baked a loaf just for her.

Personalized blessings

Joyce’s program ended, so I headed for the computer.  Personal blessings meant just for me, I reminded myself.

WOW!!!  Steven had emailed.  My own personal gift.  Something meant just for me. 

I was in hog’s heaven because the message hit home.  Hallelujah!  Praise God!  God sure works fast! I chuckled.  I immediately emailed Mary B to share the news, and I’ve been glowing ever since.

So, Joyce Meyer’s message is this: Look for “signs of God’s love.”  Acknowledge them and give thanks and praise for God’s many gifts, big and small, in our everyday lives.

November 6, 2015

At the end of the spiritual exercises, Ignatius invites us to “ask for an intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.”  Master Ignatius reminds us that God not only is a giver of gifts, but also continues to dwell in the gifts given, always working and laboring to share divine life and love with me, and us.  For Ignatius, and for us, gratitude is the only appropriate response.  When you give thanks— for family, for friends, for work, for health— to whom are you turning your heart and mind?  May your thanks giving open you to generously offer all the gifts received to the Lord and his people.  Take Lord, and receive… (Ignatian Institute email message).

December 17, 2016

Hold on to Jesus, God-with-us.  Look for signs of his presence in your life.  Wrap yourself in his protection.  Most of all, rejoice in it!  God has sent his son to you.  You have a savior who is always with you! (the Word among us, November 27 – December 31, 2016, p. 45).

March 21, 2017

Have you ever stopped to consider the enormous sum that many “littles” can come to? (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

November 14, 2017

When does God speak to us?  He speaks at all times, especially in prayer.  Prayer is a conversation with God.  But it is not a monologue.  When we pray, then, we should also listen (Fr. Kilian J. Healy in Awakening Your Soul to Presence of God).

January 30, 2018

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait— it’s how we behave while we’re waiting” (Joyce Meyer).


Links of interest…  Cultivating gratitude (heart)…  Gratefulness…  Hope & why the little things matter in the big picture…  If your life is utterly ordinary, you might well be on the right track…  Ignatian Spirituality: dotMagis blog / find your inner Iggy / gratitude list / picturing God /  prayer online / videos: (1) Ignatian prayer, (2) Ignatian prayer: An overview, (3) Finding God in all things, (4) Spiritual exercises, (5) Examen, (6) Discernment…  Joyce Meier…  Morning & new beginnings prayers…  Savoring the small stuff…  Thanksgiving prayers…  What God has given us

WP page…  Steven’s looking-glass

WP posts…  Dear God…  Forever grateful…  Gifts…  Gift of love…  In good time…  Letter to Santa…  Living one’s gifts…  Making meaning…  Morning exchanges…  My Franciscan Crown…  Prayer and praise…  Prayer power…  Two angels