Category Archives: In the News

For the people of Holy Cross, Batavia

Hang in there.

The news you got is less than happy, of course. (For those who don’t know, their pastor, Msgr. Aaron Brodeski, was arrested for indecent exposure.) It’s been a long time since I played there, at least a decade. But I knew a few people who went there, and I’ve chatted with one of the parochial vicars a couple times at confirmation (where he was master of ceremonies), and I’m a nearby Catholic, so I feel very bad and send my sympathies. A few related thoughts:

Don’t presume he’s guilty, but be prepared for it. We don’t know how the legal process will work out. It is possible that he’s innocent, but, of course, there’s the other possible result.

Surround everyone with prayer.  That includes Msgr. Brodeski, your parish, and the victims. If he’s guilty, Msgr. Brodeski likely will need plenty of treatment and counseling if he’s ever to resume ministry, which is probably not a given. The parish is in flux. The victims are potentially traumatized. That’s a lot of pain, and everyone needs support.

See to the other priests. They have lived with Msgr. Brodeski and probably consider him a friend. And they’re baby priests, who need encouragement and care anyway.

Remember that the faith isn’t dependent on us fallible men. Remember the crucifixion? The apostles were all screwups. We’ve had bad priests, bad bishops, and bad popes.  Our faith isn’t in men, but in God.

Remember that priests are human. And they have a terribly challenging job, one where Satan is cheerily after them. It’s high-stress work. with a zillion demands and everyone dumping their problems on them and expecting them to solve them. If the stress gets to them and they don’t have a proper release, it can manifest in destructive ways.

Hang in there, friends. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. May God bless you and help you work through this very difficult time.


Thoughts on “The Third Way”

Let me start with this: I’m 29, straight, unmarried, and accept (somewhat begrudgingly and sadly) the Church’s teachings on homosexuality. That having been said, I live in a state with gay marriage and work at a company that is a cheerful proponent of gay rights. I have gay relatives and friends.

I think this film ultimately fails at its objective, which is to present Catholic teaching on homosexuality both realistically and positively. Though the film does pretty good at telling us the interviewees who are gay have pretty happy lives, it does a poor job at showing us, and that makes it ultimately unconvincing. I watched the film twice; here are my thoughts: Continue reading

My greatest Church-related fear

I want to take a moment to be very serious for a second and address something that, I suspect, crosses the mind of a lot of liturgical ministers and volunteers within the Church.

A few days ago, Archbishop John Nienstedt was accused of inappropriately touching a minor several years ago. Though, of course, [puts on reporter’s hat] we need to let the charges play out, the charges on their face seem really, really weak. [removes reporter’s hat]

But the damage has already been done. Even if Nienstedt is exonerated, there will be a subset of people who will never let him forget he was charged and insist that he, of course, did it. His bishop ministry, which was already on shaky ground because of the Minneapolis-St. Paul’s long history of bad dealings with the sex abuse crisis, is pretty much done for.

Why does this concern me? Well, I’m not a priest, so I’m not subject to the same rules as priests, in at least one sense. But I’m a single man in his 20s who at times works with children, which automatically makes me suspicious to some. I also understand that there’s nothing stopping someone from making a similar allegation against me.

It would be totally unfounded, completely false. I’ve never abused anyone, and I never will. I ensure parents are always at any kids’ choir I run, and I do my best to ensure that I’m never alone with kids, lest someone else misinterpret decide to cause trouble. But none of that may matter. Even if I’m cleared, I still will have that allegation attached to my name, and there’s little I can do about it. My church ministry could be effectively done for, through no fault of my own.

It’s a frightening prospect. It doesn’t stop me from my music ministry, especially because I take as many precautions as I can. But it sticks in the back of my mind from time to time, and I am forced to pray and trust in others to ensure the specter of a false accusation never happens to me.

Good deed of the day

… goes to Chicago’s St. John Cantius Catholic Church (one of the Latin Mass parishes in the city), who got an organ from a Methodist church restored and installed in their building. I don’t know how I missed this when it originally ran a little more than a month ago, but I’m glad I’ve seen it now. Read the story and watch the video, which has a little bit of the organ roaring to life.

It may not be good if you get the bishop’s attention

I suspect the last week has been less than pleasant for my state representative, Linda Chapa Lavia. (I don’t know her personally, though I think she has popped up from time to time at one or two of the parishes I play at.) She’s Catholic, and she voted for gay marriage in Illinois, despite the Church being entirely against gay marriage. Nothing novel about that, actually, except here’s what she said in voting yes:

“As a Catholic follower of Jesus and the pope, Pope Francis, I am clear that our Catholic religious doctrine has at its core love, compassion and justice for all people.”

Yes, it does. The problem, of course, is that Catholicism views gay marriage as inherently unjust, especially to kids. And when you cite Pope Francis (House Speaker Michael Madigan did too) in your vote for same-sex marriage, you’re going to get more attention than your run-of-the-mill Catholic voting for gay marriage.

Continue reading

A rain-soaked 7 quick takes

— 1 —

So we had about 10 inches of rain in less than a day out here, leading to some relatively nasty flooding on Thursday. Our street, which gets backed up semi-often, got backed up, indeed, but this time, the water went several feet up the driveway. We don’t think our basement was ever in danger (good, because I sleep there), but still, I had to work from home a second straight day because I couldn’t get out of the driveway. Around midmorning, I took this video of the water from my front porch:

— 2 —

I did get out during the evening to see how bad the flooding was. Well, in 1996, a major flood hit my area, with 17+ inches landing in 24 hours. I remember this because we were up all night moving stuff out of the basement, which actually was flooding this time. And this was the worst flooding I’ve seen since then, I think. The river was just below the viaduct, when it’s normally a good 12-15 feet below. It was rushing terribly fast. And all the river islands were well covered. Perhaps we were lucky that we didn’t get worse this time around.

— 3 —

We had a red sky at night, too:

Creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy. Anyway, enough about the weather. Let’s move on to other stuff.

— 4 —

“Looking forward to your wedding!” the text read.

What the?

I was baffled. I’m not married. I’m not getting married anytime soon, as far as I could guess, as I’m unattached at the moment. But there was that text message, from someone I knew, no less.

Clearly, this was a mistake, right?

So I texted back, I fear you sent this to the wrong person.

Whew. She agreed. And a good thing. Because if I’m getting married, I’d rather be the first person to know about it.

— 5 —

Now mildly amused by item 1, I posted a shortened form to Facebook:

…just got a text from someone saying she was looking forward to my upcoming wedding. Wait, what? (I’m not. Unless someone knows something I don’t.)

The secretary of one of my parishes is an old friend (I think we went to kindergarten together in … 1990… yikes, I’m getting old) and liked it on FB. By coincidence, I had to skedaddle over to that parish for a seminar on its organ, which has a lot of digital bells and whistles and neato-torpedo extras. The choir director, when I saw her, congratulated me on my upcoming nuptials. I laughed, realizing my friend had told her what was going on. Explaining what was going on to the other organists present, however, was, er, a tougher task.

— 6 —

My former boss, who is now a friend, was shaken up (emotionally) pretty badly by the Boston bombing, as she had lived there for several years. I felt sad but couldn’t muster much else. It was the same thing with the Texas fertilizer plant explosion. I felt bad, but couldn’t feel much else. Compassion fatigue is a real thing, friends. As a journalist, I read and heard a lot of sob stories over the years, some real, some overdone. It all blurred together, and it makes it hard to feel anything during these sorts of events. I prayed for the victims and their families, of course. But I feel bad, even though I can’t control it, that my ability to really feel in these things is limited.

— 7 —

OK, one more weather-related thing. Because after taking the picture in #3, I immediately thought of this song:

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 quick takes: Abounding “Alleluias” edition

— 1 —

It’s been quiet and serious lately in my neck of the woods. The day job is going through a lot of transitions, many of which I don’t like and which affect my job significantly. The good news is that my Holy Week and Easter services, all nine of them, went fantastically well. I had a different set of music with each service, too. It was a lot of work, and it tired me out, but the results were great. I was thrilled. For example, I introduced this piece with good results (hit the play button):

A Call to Blessing (Easter)

I think I’ve said on multiple occasions that I like Luke Mayernik’s work. And this one, “A Call to Blessing,” is usable in multiple seasons (with alternate refrains available), so it’s a keeper.

Anyway, I realized later on that the English Easter Mass at my main parish may have had a theme. We had “Jesus Is Risen,” set to the “Lasst uns Erfreuen” hymntune, whose refrain is five Alleluias. At offertory, we sang “Ye Sons and Daughters,” whose refrain is three Alleluias. At communion, we sang “The Strife Is O’er,” whose refrain is three Alleluias. And we used the Easter refrain to “A Call to Blessing,” which is one Alleluia, sung by the cantor, then repeated by the congregation.

Ah, Easter. After 40 days of not being able to sing the A word, it’s like we totally made up for it.

— 2 —

So you would think that maybe after Easter, everyone would take a nice, relaxing week with some easy stuff. That’s how it’s going at my main parish. But I’m also playing at another parish on Sunday, and at their choir practice, the fill-in director put something in front of me David Haas’ “Song of the Risen One,” with a time setting of 168-176 per eighth note. And there are 32nd notes in this, too! That basically means I’m playing super, superfast, with this sort of result:

It’s all a blur.

It’s not my usual style, but it’s a pretty song. Listen to it here:

We won’t be doing it with electric guitar, though. Just me on piano and the fill-in director’s husband on acoustic guitar.

— 3 —

Let’s go back to the past, though, if we could. Here are a few of my favorite pieces I did at one parish or another during Holy Week. For example, for Palm Sunday, the choir at my main parish and I did “Soul of My Savior” a cappella. It’s a traditional, pretty hymn. Give it a listen:

— 4 —

At one of the Good Friday services I played (one in the afternoon; one in the evening), we did the Andrew Lloyd Webber version of “Pie Jesu”:

Which prompted me to look up “Pie Jesu,” which allowed me to find the Faure classical version:

Which is widely available via free sheet music (yay, public domain!). Guess what we’re going to do next year, either on Palm Sunday or Good Friday, main parish choir!

— 5 —

I also discovered, at Spanish Easter Mass, that sure enough, they have a Spanish translation for the classic hymn “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today,” titled “El Señor Resucito.” I couldn’t find a good version, so instead watch this karaoke version:

I was also horrified to find an “El Señor Resucito” set to the tune of “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore.” Ugh.

— 6 —

I got my high school alumni magazine yesterday, opened it, and found out that someone who graduated the year after me had died. And the younger brother of someone who graduated the year after me had died. I didn’t know either of these people well. But my high school averages 110 in a graduating class. Even if you don’t know someone, you see them every day. Even if you weren’t at my high school at the same time as someone else, the pool of people who went there is small enough that you feel a loss when you hear of someone dying young.

— 7 —

I posted the following Thursday after I learned of Roger Ebert’s death:

It seems to me that there are very few American treasures anymore, as far as people go. We’re in an era where we prefer the loudmouths, the train wrecks, the dumdums, and the superficial to the kind, the erudite, the type who can disagree without being disagreeable. Roger Ebert was an American treasure. I fear he will be one of the last. R.I.P.

Roger Ebert grew up Catholic but, he acknowledged, lost his faith along the way. Even then, his writing was undoubtedly influenced, even when he was wrong, by his upbringing. (That is to say, when he was wrong, he was wrong for the right reasons.) He was a man of goodwill, and we should certainly pray for the repose of his soul.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!