Oddwalk Ministries

liturgy

Moust-Ash Wednesday

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A number of our Jesus-Justice-Joy weekly reflections lately have focused on Joy, and this one will too.

“But,” you say, “Orin! How can that be? Lent begins this week.  Don’t you know that Lent is all sad and repentant and morose and sackcloth and ashes and other depressing things?”

Well, I know it’s Lent, yes, but Lent need not be those things, at least not overly so.  Indeed we ought to be repentant, and sad for our sinfulness.  And, further, knowing our sinfulness led Jesus to his suffering and death on the cross, well, sure, we can be sad and even grieve these things.

But to do so without also knowing there’s more to the story is to, in a sense, make an idol out of only one tiny facet of our faith.  We must always take our faith as a whole – it’s not like during Advent we forget for four weeks that Jesus did actually come to ransom captive Israel.  It’s not like during Lent we should remember only the repentance, the suffering, the death.  We should also, while celebrating these things, remember that there is new life that arises from these very same things – there is joy and even more celebrating to come.

Did you catch, there, that we “celebrate,” even in Lent?  It’s true.  There’s an expression, in Latin, that goes:

Lex orandi, lex credendi

Which is to say, in English: “The law of prayer is the law of belief.”  Even more simply, we pray what we believe, and we believe what we pray.  With that in mind, let’s turn to a prayer that we will hear and pray together very soon:

Each year you give us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed. You give us a spirit of loving reverence for you, our Father, and of willing service to our neighbor. As we recall the great events that gave us new life in Christ, you bring the image of your Son to perfection within us.  (Preface for the 1st Sunday of Lent)

We pray that lent is a “joyful season” in which we prepare to “celebrate” the paschal mystery – Christ’s redemptive suffering, death, and resurrection.  And, as we ponder these things, we become more Christ-like through the power of God perfecting that image within us.

Wow.

So, I (Orin) have attached to this post an image.  This Wednesday, after our parish school’s 8th graders lead music ministry at one of our morning masses, I’ll be giving them each one of these – hopefully to remind them that Lent, which we should dive into whole-heartedly and intensely, is only one part of a broader story, a broader mystery, which as a whole tells us where we’ve come from, who we are now and who we should strive to be, and the future that awaits us all if we help each other grow in faith and holiness.

Blessings on our Lenten journeys this year, one and all.  —Orin

The Liturgical Composers Forum: Pointing to Jesus

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Starting tonight, Orin (today’s blogger) will again be attending the 20th annual Liturgical Composers Forum in suburban St. Louis. This gathering was begun by Fr. John Foley, SJ two decades ago, at the time a program of the now largely non-existent Center for Liturgy at SLU. These few days bring together some of the most familiar…

Here I Am Lord

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It’s my (Orin’s) turn again at Any Given Sunday Project to write a Sunday Scripture reflection, this one for this coming Sunday, January 14.  The psalm of the weekend holds a special place in my heart, and is central to a story often told at Oddwalk appearances. Here’s an abbreviated version of what you may…

Advent Vinegar or Sugar?

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It is hopefully no surprise to anyone by now that the Church has entered another new year, as always beginning with the season of Advent.  It should also surprise no one when I (Orin) observe that some places have been in full-on Christmas mode since November 1, if not before.

Many of our peers in Church life, be they youth ministers, liturgists, priests, or the faithful baptized are bothered, perhaps even perturbed by the rush into the Christmas celebrations, and that by 7pm on December 25, some trees have already been kicked to the curb.  “One thing at a time,” they exclaim.  “We need more stillness, silence, waiting, expectation in our lives.  We need to remember the Lord is coming again!  We need to remember our traditions and our history.”

I suspect I can speak for Shannon too, but I certainly don’t disagree with any of that.  I am at the same time not so sure how much the angsty “Waaaaaaaah it’s still advent and also get off my lawn” sorts of statements and social media posts help.  Perhaps it’s just venting among friends, but I don’t think it’ll “convert” anyone to a certain way of seeing things, in this case the need we all have for a few weeks of advent in our lives.

A few days ago I posted this as a comment on a friend’s facebook status – a status that was more tongue-in-cheek than anything – but was still one about how Christmas had begun too soon.

Working at a Catholic shrine where a christmas drivethru of lights began a week (or sometimes more) before thanksgiving and the first thing one saw was a giant arch that said “Merry Christmas” across the top, I feel your pain. I used to be rather “vinegar” about it all; I try to be a little more “sugar” these days.

So, to that end, We at Oddwalk crafted a little video, one that is itself goofy and tongue-in-cheek, but attempts to use humor to remind folks, “Hey, don’t forget it’s still Advent around here.”  Hopefully this little bit of sugar will go further than some folks’ vinegar this time of year.  We are better evangelists when we do so with joy, after all.  So, check out what happens when you take some cheery advent songs and change them from major to minor.  Advent blessings to you all.  —Orin

 

Sir We Would See Jesus

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I started writing songs in 1995, when I was twenty years-old. I truly had no idea what I was doing, of course. I knew I liked the challenge of creating something new, but lacked any real knowledge of poetry and/or music theory. In those days, I would simply write the best song I could and…

Are You God?

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School is back in session at the parish where I, Orin, am music director. Sometime near the beginning of each school year, we gather the entire student body, PreK-8th Grade, in the Church to go over some music that we’ll be using at some upcoming Masses; that day this year was this past Thursday afternoon,…

We’re writing a book!

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Hey everyone! Shannon and Orin are excited to announce that… wait for it… we’re writing a book! If you had not guessed from the title of this post, seeing some news on social media that led you here, or from this super-cool graphic, we’ll say it again – we’re writing a book!

It will be published next July by Twenty-Third Publications, a division of Bayard which specializes in books and devotionals for nourishing your spirituality and celebrating the liturgical year, as well as the newest resources to help you lead and guide your parish community.

Our book has a working title of “Praying and Living the Faith Through the Year” and is a collection of twenty interactive prayer services on various Church themes and celebrations as well as other special times during a school year. Each service has suggested music, prayers, scripture, and interactive, prayerful activities to help bring faith to life. While the “target audience” for this book is middle-school-aged youth and those that minister to them, this collection should also be useful for other ages, as well as other situations, like youth ministry and family units.

Here’s the rundown (for now) on “chapters” the resource will have:

• Welcome to Teachers/Staff/Students (Community)
• For Grandparents (Generations, Wisdom)
• At a time of tragedy (Consolation)
• All Saints (Communion of Saints)
• All Souls (Deceased Family and Friends, Tradition)
• Thanksgiving (Gratitude to God)
• Christ the King (Dominion, Sovereignty)
• Advent (Waiting in Joyful Hope)
• Immaculate Conception / Guadalupe (Mary, Dignity)
• Christmas (Incarnation)
• Discipleship (Learning, Following)
• Before an Exam (Peace, Assurance)
• Ash Wednesday (Repentance)
• Lent (Returning to God, Conversion)
• Holy Week (Suffering, Obedience, Cross)
• Easter (Resurrection, New Life)
• Mercy (Divine Mercy)
• Ascension (Church and Our Mission)
• Pentecost (Holy Sprit, Gifts of the Spirit)
• At Graduation (Transitions)

Each chapter will also include some introductory material from us, for those putting together each service.

We feel this resource will pull together strongly many aspects of Oddwalk’s varied ministries – storytelling, humor, prayer, music, retreats – and hopefully be a welcome and successful resource for many folks helping to lead the young Church on their journeys to and with God.

Watch this space for more updates, especially as the project gets closer to completion! We can’t be more excited to be working with 23rd, and can’t wait for you to be able to hold this book in your hands – and use it!

That’s Extraordinary!

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In case you forgot…

You know what ordinal numbers are, right? Well, you probably do even if you don’t know that’s what they’re called. Ordinal numbers are the ones we put st, nd, and rd behind: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. They’re the ones that describe the position of something, usually in a list.

Ordinal numbers are the reason that the upcoming 6 month stretch of the Church year is called Ordinary Time — you know, 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time and all that. Now, Ordinary Time following Pentecost does start with the celebrations of the Holy Trinity and the Most Holy Body and Blood, but it’s still Ordinary Time.

The point is, it’s not Ordinary Time, as in something commonplace or normal; it’s not Ordinary Time because it’s not Advent, Christmas, Lent, or Easter; it *is* Ordinary Time because the Sundays and weeks are counted. That’s all.

Yet, I knew one priest years ago who insisted on calling it “Extraordinary Time.” He didn’t get into all the mumbo-jumbo about ordinal numbers, he simply referenced what is indeed true about all these coming Sundays, particularly the Gospel passages we will hear at those Masses. The Gospels are always about what Jesus said and did in this world; these upcoming Ordinary Time Gospels are all about Jesus teaching us to be disciples. That’s why this particular priest liked the expression “Extraordinary Time.” It’s a 6 month length of time where, if we pay attention and are open, Jesus teaches us still today what it means to be his follower and his witness in a modern world.

I don’t know that I personally like the expression, but I appreciate the motivation behind it. How will this summer be extraordinary for you, as a person of faith, as we count our way through many weeks of Ordinary Time? I suggest by really focusing on what Jesus teaches his faithful Sunday after Sunday, and living it each week to the best of our abilities. Happy Summer everyone!

—Orin

What the Ascension Tells Us About Social Justice

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Note: a version of this post originally appeared at Any Give Sunday Project two years ago. If you’re a regular church-goer, you surely know that the pews are at their fullest on Christmas and Easter. No surprise there. Take a moment and see if you have a guess what the next two most attended Church…

The Joy of the Scriptures

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Psalm 87

Hello all, Orin here.  One of my roles as Music Director at Sts. Joachim and Ann in suburban STL is to prep music for school masses.  One of the tasks for each mass is ensuring we have a responsorial psalm and a psalmist or two ready to go: both I and the pastor at J&A prefer to do the readings of the day, so I need to ensure that the psalms are easily grasped both by the psalmists from the different homerooms in school (on limited rehearsal time), as well as by the assembly.  Before sitting down to write this, in fact, I needed to create a new one for a school mass tomorrow, led by our 4th graders.  You can see an image of the simple music just over there…

By now, ending my 5th year at J&A, many such psalms are already written, and it’s rare I need to take a moment and create a new one, but this morning was such a time.  A quick count shows I’ve created over 130 of these in 5 years.  An unexpected joy of the role here at J&A has become getting to know the psalms in such a broad way.  Many of us know several of the more common Sunday responsorial psalms well, but the psalms at daily mass are much more diverse than at Sundays alone, and as a result, some unexpected poetry, theology, spirituality, and expressions of faith come to my attention over these few years.

This hymn of praise to Zion, for instance, responds joyfully to a reading from the Acts of the Apostles, in which we hear how the early Church grew far past Jerusalem, partly because early followers of Christ were scattered to many places, avoiding persecution, and were bolstered and taught by the likes of Barnabas and Paul.  This passage ends, “…it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.”

There is a joy in the scriptures which only grows and blossoms the more deeply one knows, prays, and lives them.  As broad as the scripture passages are on Sundays, an easy way to encounter so much more is to attend daily mass – a practice which was not a significant part of my life before arriving at J&A, but is now.  When was the last time you attended a daily mass?  Perhaps it’s time to consider a new discipline in faith, and rediscover the joy of the scriptures, like I have.

Holy Week and Catholic Social Teaching

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Pope Francis Washing Feet at a Previous Holy Thursday Celebration

Our “Jesus Justice Joy” reflection this week is a little tardy, owning to two full days of Oddwalking on Monday and Tuesday…

As we approach Holy Thursday evening and the beginning of triduum, I’m struck by how, at Thursday night’s mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Gospel is not what it seems like it should be. One would think that we’d hear one of the evangelists tell about that Passover meal. Rather, we hear in the epistle Paul describe how the tradition of that meal was handed down to him. Instead in the Gospel, we hear a narrative unique to John – the humble washing of the feet.

John’s Gospel doesn’t even include a narrative about the last supper meal the way the synoptics do. Some see the significance of this – that the description of the meal is replaced with this story of the foot washing – as one which instructs the early Christian community to live lives of solidarity and service – both important tenants of contemporary Catholic Social Teaching.

In fact, the whole evening, if one listens from a certain vantage point, is linked to issues of justice: liberation, solidarity, service…

I have often wondered why foot washing didn’t “make the cut,” so to speak, as the Church finally focused in upon seven “Big S” sacraments. It seems like it would meet the usual requirements and definitions of one. Pause for a moment and imagine if, when preparing for first communion, young people also learned about and prepared for foot washing along side of that.

How much more linked then would we as a Church find our reception of Eucharist to the command we are given just a few minutes later: Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life. Eucharist, as much as it is thanksgiving is also service, solidarity, and our freedom. May we recognize it as such the next time we gather around the table.

—Orin

NCCYM 2016 Videos

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This past weekend, Oddwalk was invited to take on several roles that exemplify the things we find important in our ministries, at the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry in San Jose, California.  We are grateful for these opportunities, whether it’s leading prayer, encouraging audience participation, making people laugh, or commenting on our retreat ministry.  Here are a few videos of those moments.

 

First, here we are, with Shannon’s wife Erin, singing a prelude before the Saturday morning mass, a piece by Orin titled “To Know Darkness,” published by GIA Publications and on our “Walk Away Different” CD.

 

Next, here we are talking a bit about our retreat ministry at a “Great Ideas” session later that day.

 

But a highlight for us of these NCCYM weekends is the “Youth Ministry Extravaganza” — a chance for folks like us, who “do what we do,” to thank the youth ministers (and others) in attendance and hopefully feed their souls through, among other things, humor.  We relish the chance to create original “set pieces” for this night (previously “May God Bless and Keep You,” “Songs We Should Never Record” and others); this year, thanks to an idea from our friend Erin Brennan, we created a segment where we pretend to be covering the Games of the XXIII Liturginerd Olympiad.

 

For a couple extra “goodies” related to the Liturginerd Olympics, click here! Thanks San Jose and the NFCYM for a great conference, see you next year at NCYC!

Oddwalk at NCCYM 2016

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img_0394Where will you find us at NCCYM? Just check our handy guide:

— 12/1 3:15pm – Netsourcing session, music & liturgy N09
— 12/1 7:00pm – National Youth Ministry Award introduction
— 12/2 8:00pm – Youth Ministry Extravaganza
— 12/3 8:00am – Music Ministry for Daily Mass
— 12/3 2:15pm – Part of Great Ideas workshop

And of course in the exhibit hall when it’s open. Check your program books for more details. Hope to say hi to many friends old and new!