Oddwalk Ministries

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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

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…

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…

NCYC Is Special. Here’s Why…

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This past week, Orin and I had the great privilege of serving in a variety of roles at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. For much of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, he and I were on a dead-run hosting the Music and Message Stage, leading music at two Masses, and even getting to do…

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

Does God Remain Hidden If I Remain Silent?

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Recently, I’ve ruffled a few feathers on my personal social media accounts.  While I certainly don’t enjoy making people uncomfortable, recent national and world events have propelled me to be a lot more politically outspoken than I had been before. My new mission has two parts. 1. Share my thoughts and views in an articulate…

Joy at NPM

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Hi all, Orin here, continuing his usual busy summer of acronyms: a couple weeks ago was YSP, this week is the annual convention for NPM, National Association of Pastoral Musicians.  (Next week is another YNIA which Shannon and I will do together, Shannon already told you about one of those.) Anyway, yesterday was travel day, which is why this Jesus-Justice-Joy post is a day later than usual.

Just as YSP brought me a certain joy (which a tired me told you a tiny bit about in a video), every year NPM brings me a joy as well. While of course I am a church music director in addition to my Oddwalk fun, I’m here this week also as a composer of music for the Church as well.

Here’s a photo from the exhibit hall last night of a book from GIA that both Shannon and I have songs published in, called Crossgeneration.

 

Knowing it’s selfish mostly, it does bring me a bit of joy to see that music that I and Shannon have written in print – but beyond my own ego, part of that joy is it being still available to the wider Church to help them pray in song. (I hope to sneak photos of other octavos in print with WLP and OCP later today!)

Another joy this week is being able to reconnect in person with so many other composers I have gotten to know over recent years. There is a certain fellowship and camaraderie in that particular group of people, with a particular ministry to and for the Church.  Here are a few of us out to dinner last night, photo credit to Kate Basi.

 

Sharp eyes will see my wife Erin in the photo. Another joy is being able to spend a chunk of this week with her, taking a little personal time here and there to just be us, away from home and most of the responsibilities and worries there.

All of these joys are rooted in Christ and my faith in him.  It is Christ who gathers, who forms community, and gives us talents to praise him in song.  St. Augustine purportedly once said that “The one who sings prays twice.”  If so – and I think that’s right – there’s a whole lotta prayin’ goin’ on in Cincinnati this week at NPM.  Thanks for reading!  —Orin

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.

An Outward Sign of Christian Dignity

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prayerleader-200wAt NCYC last month, Oddwalk had a couple conversations (in person, on Twitter) about the appropriateness of the young lay leaders of prayer, and specifically their vesting in albs and leading a communal blessing by signing themselves (as directed in many places in the Book of Blessings).

It could be that the folks we had conversations with (one adult, one youth) weren’t the only ones to have concerns. The NFCYM has posted a wonderful resource explaining the catechetical, pastoral, and legal reasons that what we experienced at NCYC was exactly what was needed for that time and place.

A couple quotes to draw attention to:

The question—and answer—of proper liturgical vesture involves both clear instruction from the Church and mistaken notions from many of its members simultaneously. Frankly, it is a wrongful notion to describe a lay person leading a formal prayer service in an alb as “looking and acting like a priest.” In fact, at NCYC, the youth presiders were looking and acting exactly as they should: like a lay person leading prayer.

Again, in brief, a catechesis of liturgical vesture is one that begins not with the difference of ministry or station, but on the common community shared by all in the dignity of their baptism. There is no ordination without baptism (and all the sacraments of initiation: Confirmation and Eucharist, too). There is no “priestly vestment” that does not begin first with the garment of Christian faith—laity and ordained alike—the alb with which we are all “clothed in Christ.”

As a ministry especially concerned with justice and specifically the joy we can find in our having been created by God and given a Christian dignity that is indelible, we are so pleased with how the NFCYM has addressed the concerns – as too we are pleased that there are interested people, especially youth, willing to make their voice heard about matters important to them.  Please take some time to read the whole document!

Edit, 12/7/14 – new link to article: http://www.ncyc.info/2013/logistics/leaders/alb.htm

He was a General too

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Seen as a tag line on an email recently: “Every gun that is made, every warship that is launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower, Republican)