Oddwalk Ministries

ministry

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

Hooray for Catholic Schools Week

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Posted Today at Holy Childhood Catholic School in Mascoutah, IL

It’s always a great joy of ours to visit Holy Childhood in Mascoutah, IL for Catholic Schools Week. Just such an engaged student body, and a joy to play with band-mates Rick and Dan, and today Dan’s girlfriend Katie on tambourine.

Two more concerts later this week – Happy Catholic Schools Week all!

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

 

Thank You, Fr. Frank

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This past Friday, our parish lost our pastor, Fr. Frank Bussmann. Late on Thursday night, after spending Thanksgiving with his family, Fr. Frank headed for home.  He only managed to get about ten minutes down the road before he suffered a massive stroke behind the wheel, causing him to crash his car. Luckily, no one else…

The Joys of NCYC

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It’s that every-other-year time again: the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) is almost upon us. This is an amazing event of several great joys. Here are just a few:

1) Seeing 25,000 youth gathered in one place from all around the country (and beyond) is an amazing sign of the universality of the Church and a great witness of hope to our Church now and into the future;

2) Having even passing-in-the-hall moments to greet our peers in itinerant ministry is always a blessing;

3) This year we have the joy of ministering at 2 Masses, and partnering with the NFCYM in creating a new venue at NCYC, the Music and Message Stage. We’re very excited for this opportunity. We’re also grateful that we get to have our first moments on the MainStage in Lucas Oil Stadium – both to announce the new venue (in hopefully comedic fashion) and to offer a prayer and song of blessing over the youth ambassadors at the conference.

We’ve posted a graphic below in case you need to know where to find us at NCYC. Please some say hello and add to the joy of just a great event of faith! —Orin

A Fool for Christ

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Well, Oddwalk is pretty busy right now, gearing up for NCYC in couple weeks, and largely for the Music and Message Stage we have helped put together and will be hosting and emcees for.  That’s why this Jesus-Justice-Joy post is a day late, and relatively brief.

Part of our getting ready for these things, as it often is, is putting together a slide show we hope adds to the engagement and humor of our being in front of folks.  The slide here presented won’t make a lot of sense out of context, but we still won’t bother giving you any, because you don’t need any for it to be funny anyway.

Yes, that’s Young Orin, and no, his speech bubble is not factual.  Pretty sure, anyway.

Today’s turn in our J-J-J rotation is “Jesus” and I (Orin) am struck by, given this work we’ve just been doing, how far I’ve coming in letting myself be presented publicly as a bit foolish, or someone to be derided for.  I don’t think some years ago I would have ever let that happen, but these days, especially in the name of Jesus, it’s quite okay, perhaps even preferred.

By society’s eyes, Jesus was made a fool of during his passion and death – ridiculed and subjected to public scorn, and to a much lesser extant most of the time, that is still a part of being a Christian today – being a witness to Christ demands it, in our effort to become more like him.

So, enjoy this passing glimpse of Young Orin, and know that when this photo is on display before 25,000 young folks gathered at NCYC in a couple weeks, it’s all for the greater glory of God.

—Orin

Oddwalk Turns Thirteen!

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This Tuesday, October 24, Oddwalk turns thirteen years old. Happy Oddiversary to us! We expect to celebrate our jump into these adolescent years by staring at our phones while someone is speaking to us, gushing about our favorite YouTuber, and rolling our eyes at Mom’s “oldies” radio station as it pumps out ancient hits by…

Symbols of Justice, Continuing the Conversation

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Among other things which is giving quite a lot of Americans something I (Orin) might call “News Fatigue,” you have the issue of some NFL players protesting racial injustices by kneeling during the national anthem before their games. [Sidebar: I might suggest reading up sometime on why the heck the anthem is played at sporting events at all.]

Anyway, as some have noted, regardless of what the national anthem signifies, those who kneel during the anthem aren’t any more protesting a flag than Rosa Parks was protesting a bus. It’s not the object or the moment which is under protest, but rather a moment in time to show one’s dissatisfaction. The Black Lives Matter movement has been very active lately in St. Louis following what is seen by many as an unjust verdict a month or so ago. The group elicits a wide spectrum of reactions from folks; I don’t mean to get into that exactly, other than to note they do organize their protests for times and places which both get people to notice, and to realize something symbolic about that particular place and time.

The tricky thing about symbols, like, say, flags, is they can mean different things to different people, and no one person gets to tell someone else what that symbol ought to mean, or that their interpretation of it is incorrect. Perhaps a certain flag to one person might symbolize freedom, bravery, and sacrifice; to another it might symbolize a nation that even over 150 years after a civil war was fought continues to, by action or inaction, let a large percentage of its citizens down in a variety of ways.

And sure, the same aspects of interpretation of symbols holds true for, for instance, flags of former nations that oppressed or killed certain humans for merely being a certain race or creed. The difference is, I hope it’s apparent, is that those who erected those flags lost wars to those who erected ours so that people could, within constitutional reason, live and express themselves as they see fit. And, while such goals were explicitly forbidden for some people under certain flags, it is also true that under ours, not all feel as if what our flag represents to some is a reality for all.

And a small addendum – if you are among the people annoyed by all this chatter on the matter, especially if all you wanted to do on Sunday afternoon was “just watch football,” then I dare say the protests are working. Your minor irritation or perhaps inconvenience is a necessary part of these things, you know, as is conversation on the matter.

So, let’s actually talk. I certainly am aware that I have friends on any and all sides of matters like these. So, if conversation arises here, fantastic. Please, just be respectful, read comments for content, and double-check how entrenched your views are, how dug in your heels are. I will try to be and do those things, anyway.

Lastly, if all we want is unity, I think this is the way, the only way there. Uniformity as a means to an end (unity) will most certainly fail. So, let’s talk.

—Orin

Look for the helpers…

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It’s not a day one easily finds words of joy.

We can, however, continue to seek Christ, even in the most profound tragedies of life, the ones that make the least sense, the ones that shatter our hearts.

Mr. Rogers, of the well-known PBS show of many decades, Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood, was himself an ordained Presbyterian minister. He perhaps sums it up best in moments such as today.

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,…

Guardians of Hope

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“Our Hope, Our Everything”

Certain current events are understandably troubling and causing a bit of concern if you’re like us. Whether it’s the threat of war with North Korea or Venezuela, or the recent events in Charlottesville, many people have heavy hearts and some amount of anxiety about what the future holds.

At Sts. Joachim and Ann, where I (Orin) am the music director, each year the day school and the whole religious education program focus on a certain theme for the year.  And, for several years now, I have written a song to flesh out that theme and help it to dwell in the hearts and lives of the students and faculty.  One of these, “Alive in Love, Alive in God” is on our most recent Oddwalk CD.

This year’s theme at J&A is “Guardians of Hope” – which happens to tie in to an anti-bullying program at school as well.  As I pondered what the text could be for this new piece of music, I started asking myself what it meant to be a guardian of hope – how we do that in any practical way.  Especially framed by current events, the question took on particular urgency and relevance.

When it comes to recognizing hope, seeing it around us, offering it to others – all this, of course, begins and ends with God: God’s creating us in God’s own image and likeness, Christ’s self-sacrificing love, and how we recognize both of these things in those around us and what it then propels us to do.

If we truly saw each human being as created in the image and likeness of the One who created all things, and if we truly believe that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was for the redemption of all who choose to accept that amazing gift and is also our model for loving one another, we would never again be able to wage war, nor would we be able to see ourselves as superior to any other human being.

In short, being a guardian of hope means we recognize the Christian dignity in those around us (and in ourselves) and loving like Christ loved.  And, that’s what my new song tries to say.

Click the picture above – or right here – to view or download a PDF of it, and click here to listen to a demo recording quickly made one afternoon late last week at Church.  If you like, please feel free to use the song – for catechesis, for prayer, for any need it might fill.

And may we all be guardians of hope this year.

Ongoing Creation

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The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: 306 God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their…

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!