18 September 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the encouragement and grace You give Your people to trust You in all circumstances.

Msgr. Pope on Onomatopoeia in Sacred Music

"Do you remember the meaning of the literary term onomatopoeia? In case you've forgotten, it's a word that sounds like the object it describes. Words like oink, meow, wham, sizzle, and my personal favorite: yackety-yak are examples of onomatopoeia.

"There are times when music, including sacred music, has an onomatopoetic quality; they sound like what their words are describing. For example, there are songs that describe the crucifixion featuring hammer blows in the background, and songs about the resurrection and ascension that feature notes soaring up the scale.

"The best way to understand musical onomatopoeia is to listen to examples of it. So, consider the eight examples of sacred music I present below, which powerfully take up the very sound of what the words are describing."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the role of onomatopoeia in some sacred music.

To access Msgr. Pope's complete post, please visit:

Community in Mission: The Genius of Sacred Music as Heard in Seven Musical "Onomatopoeias" (11 SEP 16)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Let us ask for a faith that allows us to have trust in God no matter what the circumstances of life." - Pope Francis

17 September 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of uplifting music.

Stumbling on the Road to Salvation

It's not always easy to wrap our heads or hearts around the concept of God's unconditional love and His willingness to help us carry our burdens. Sometimes music can help us better absorb those truths. That's the kind of music that Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Sarah Hart creates on a regular basis, writing songs for artists like Amy Grant, Matt Maher and Audrey Assad. But she also does the same thing on her own albums, including her latest Til the Song is Sung.

I've interviewed Hart many times on Christopher Closeup, and she's always a delightful and honest guest with a lot of wisdom to share. Our most recent conversation was no exception. Though she's grounded in her Catholic faith, she admits that she struggles with doubt and runs from God at times, a topic she addresses in the song "Constant."

Hart explained, "I am comforted by the knowledge that all of the saints that we know and uphold in the Catholic Church have been runners, and have found themselves, at times, reluctant. That's such a gift to us as Catholic Christians . . . If I stopped doubting and I stopped making mistakes and then coming back and asking God's forgiveness, it means '’m no longer in a relationship with Him. So I bless the doubting and the stumbling because it's all part of working on my salvation."

Scripture is one of Hart's greatest inspirations, both in terms of her spiritual life and her songwriting. The song "Good," for instance, issues a wake-up call about how long humanity has kept messing up, and how God keeps giving us another chance. Interestingly, a lot of atheists' arguments against God hinge on the idea that He's a vengeful bully in the Bible. Hart, meanwhile, points out how great God is throughout Scripture.

She said, "In all those circumstances where you see God's wrath in the Old Testament, you also see a God who, over and over again, loves. After the people are wandering in the desert, God says, 'I love you and you're starving. Let Me give you some manna, and I'll lead you to the Promised Land.' . . I always equate the Old Testament God with a father who puts his kids in timeout. [That] doesn't mean He's banished them forever. He puts them in timeout to learn a lesson and then goes into their room, puts them on his lap, gives them a hug and says, 'I really love you so much.'"

I pointed out to Hart that a Christopher-type theme runs through "Til the Song is Sung," because her lyrics promote an attitude of lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness. She laughed and said that when she told her mother she was going to do an interview with The Christophers, her mom started singing our old 1950's theme song, "One Little Candle." Then, Hart agreed that the idea of that light appeals to her.

She said, "This is my ninth record, and I thought to myself, 'How long am I gonna do this?' I felt like God said to me, 'Sarah, you will do this till your song is sung.' . . . But the song's not sung yet, so I'll continue to do music and ministry and traveling until God says otherwise. I think that's the point of sharing the Gospel. Even when music stops for me, I will still be sharing the song because I'll be doing what you guys do: lighting one little candle and carrying the light of God as long as I live, until my song is completely sung."

This essay is this week's "Light One Candle" column, written by Tony Rossi, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.

Background information:

Sarah Hart Music

The Christophers

Reflection Starter from G. K. Chesterton

"You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink." - G. K. Chesterton

11 September 2016

A 9-11 Remembrance

"The favors of the Lord are not exhausted. His mercies are not spent. Every morning, they are renewed. Great is his faithfulness. I will always trust in him." - Lamentations 3:22-24

Over the past few days, people around this region and this nation have been, individually and special ceremonies, remembering the tragic events of September 11, 2001. As part of his remembrance, Deacon Greg Kandra shared the homily given by Father Michael Duffy, OFM, (director of Saint Francis Inn, Philadelphia, PA) at the funeral of Father Mychal Judge, OFM, on 15 September. Father Mychal, a chaplain of the New York City Fire Department, was one of the 343 department members killed on September 11th at the World Trade Center (127 members have subsequently died due to illnesses related to their work in the rescue and recovery effort). The quote from Lamentations was included in the homily.

To access Fr. Duffy's complete homily, please visit:

Franciscan Friars, Holy Name Province: Homily Preached at Funeral Mass for Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM

Father Michael Duffy
Father Michael Duffy

"God of Mercy and Compassion"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of the Daughters of Mary Mother of Our Savior presenting "God of Mercy and Compassion":