This weekend as we celebrate the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, I share with you a reflection by Father Jim, which was published by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians this past Monday in its weekly publication: “Sunday’s Word for Pastoral Musicians.”
“For whoever is not against us is for us.”
Would not life – and ministry, for that matter – be much simpler if it was like the printed copy of a well-composed piece of music? A nice, crisp, white background with bold black lines, staffs, meter, notes and rests encompassed by an all-embracing beginning and ending. Of course this can only be appreciated—and performed—if we have successfully studied the art and science of music. I once told this to a young, talented, budding musician attempting to enter the “art of musical liturgy” as a pastoral musician. He, parishioners, co-workers, and I were rather frustrated with the reality of his plunge into this very unique path of discipleship. I suggested that the pastoral aspect of being a musician in a parish is learning to live, play, and lead in the grey spaces (those that are not on the sheet music!). It is all about discernment—praying, searching, listening, and, as best we can, finding and following the path of God’s will and the milieu to do God’s work. And, of course, that is much easier said than done!
In today’s Gospel, Mark presents a Jesus who zeros in on discernment. Like the disciples, we—as pastoral musicians, liturgists, and presiders—must recognize that God’s work is being done all around us (and most likely not necessarily by us or in the way we would do it). When it comes to our particular liturgical ministry, the Gospel challenge is to remember that other approaches, ideas, interpretations, and executions (which may not be our preference or choice) are successfully being accomplished by other disciples (some from within our circles and some from outside our circles).
It would appear that the evidence of genuine pastoral leadership comes when we demonstrate openness to and appreciation for how God is working in and through other disciples and when we refrain from not leading other disciples astray by our domineering opinions, preferences, and expectations.
Perhaps the very simple (yet profound) proverb often cited in Twelve-Step Programs might be the prayer or mantra on our lips as we prepare for and celebrate this weekend’s Eucharist: “Let go, let God!”
Once again we welcome Father Bill Taylor. We do appreciate his willingness to fill in for Father Jim and share himself and his gifts with us.
As I mentioned at the Masses last weekend, Father Jim traveled to Philadelphia last Sunday with 22 pilgrims from our diocese after celebrating 7:00 AM Mass with them at the Center for Ministry Chapel. I also noted that he was one of the official diocesan delegates throughout the country attending the World Meeting of Families which began last Tuesday morning. As I write this article on Wednesday evening, two days of meetings have taken place, and the Holy Father has canonized Father Junipero Serra at a Mass in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The World Meeting of Families (in Philadelphia) will conclude with the Papal Mass on Sunday (today, September 27). Both Father Jim and Father Richard Jozwiak (and, of course, Bishop Cistone) will have the privilege of concelebrating the Mass with Pope Francis. What a wonderful way for Father Jim to celebrate his 35th Anniversary of Ordination! As you have prayed throughout this past week for Pope Francis while in Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia, and for Bishop Cistone, “our pilgrims,” and all attending the World Meeting of Families, please continue to pray for them and for their safe travels home.
The Parish Goal Setting Session this past Tuesday was a delightful experience. Forty representatives from the Pastoral Council, Finance Council, Implementation Team, Commissions, outreach ministry, and parish staff entered into reflection and conversation with one another on how we might address the four pillars of parish life: Community, Worship, Service, and Proclamation of the Word (Evangelization). Several very good ideas were presented. At the end of the evening, in talking about next steps, the group expressed the desire to meet together again next month. So, Goal Setting, Part II will take place on Tuesday, October 6. All seem to be looking forward to continuing the conversation and “putting some flesh” on some of the proposals that were made.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ