Category Archives: The Rare Travel-Related Post Because I Don’t Travel a Lot

What have we learned? CMAA colloquium edition

I recently attended the Church Music Association of America’s annual colloquium, as I’ve noted over multiple prior posts detailing smaller pieces of it. I’m not overstating things, I suspect, when I say it was a life-changing experience, one that has me considering a career change and doing sacred music full-time.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I subscribe to everything they espouse. But I went to the colloquium (and would like to go again), because I specifically wanted to challenge myself and understand better opinions that I may not necessary subscribe to. One day, I may work for a pastor who subscribes to this stuff, and as a professional, I want to be able to carry out what he would like to do, even if I don’t necessarily subscribe to it. As such, here are my reflections on the week and what I learned:

Continue reading


Be nice to seminarians

One of the things that I think important, but rarely get to carry out, is encouraging seminarians in their vocations, even if they don’t end up becoming priests. We all should, of course; the problem is that I actually don’t know any seminarians. The fiance of the younger of my two sisters was in the seminary for four years, but that doesn’t count. (Note: he met my sister after he left the seminary.)

Continue reading

Considering Communion on the tongue

The CMAA Colloquium is encouraging everyone attending to receive Communion on the tongue (at the Extraordinary Form, of course, it’s the norm), and at least at the first OF Mass they did, they made it very difficult to receive in any other fashion. (I’m not sure that’s OK, but I’m not a liturgical expert. If anyone out there can enlighten me, that would be appreciated.)

So, OK, I’m here this week to learn new things and try new things, and I don’t think I had ever received Communion on the tongue.

So I knelt at a gap in the communion rail (because of course there was a gap). A couple things I noticed from the experience:

Communion went pretty quick. Makes sense. It’s faster to have one person moving and a bunch of people waiting in position.

Receiving the Eucharist did seem more intimate at the Communion rail. That much I liked.

And really, I actually kind of liked the experience. Considering that and the practical consideration of speed, I wouldn’t object to the reinstitution of Communion on the tongue, nor to the use of the Communion rail, in a parish I work at.

The power of beautiful music, in one voice

It was the first night of the church music conference. Met a lot of good folks, including seminarians and fellow weekend warriors such as myself.

Seated at our table was a young man (actually, perhaps a year or two older than me) who, it soon became obvious, had a fairly severe stutter. Very nice guy; just needed some extra time to get out his words. We had a delicious dinner and introduction to the week, and then it was time for chanted compline. The leader asked the guy with a stutter to be one of the cantors.

Embed from Getty Images

?, I thought. Then he opened his mouth to sing.

No stutter. Not even close. His voice was resplendent, confident, strong. He led the chants with no issues whatsoever. It was, in a word, awe-inspiring.

I did some research later and discovered that his experience is true for many who stutter. Why may not be clear. But for him, I would posit there’s divine influence afoot. The music, rich and beautiful, brings him out of himself and unites him to the church throughout the world.

May we all be so lucky to see that divine presence in our own lives.

What I’m doing on my summer vacation

Last time, it was what I thought I might be doing for my summer vacation. Well, I’m doing what I thought I might be doing, which means in a few weeks, I will have done what I thought I might be doing, which may confuzzle everyone enough.

I’m off to the Church Music Association of America’s summer colloquium in Indianapolis. I will be staying with terribly overly indulgent friends whom I cannot even begin to repay, as they easily saved me $1,000 in hotel bills. And I will spend a week fully engaged with church music, which is going to be important, because if one day I’m going to go full-time as a church musician (something I’d like to figure out how to do), I need to be able to hold my own out here. So let’s discuss what I’m hoping for over my week in Indy.

Embed from Getty Images

Continue reading

7 quick takes: Nearing the home homestretch

— 1 —

In less than two weeks, I close on my house. It’s starting to feel more and more real. The other day, I cashed out the rest of my savings bonds, the ones I didn’t need in college and instead saved for a moment such as this. I packed up all but the necessary books and sheet music as well. I suppose it won’t feel 100% real until I’m in the house. But that won’t be long now.

— 2 —

Part of my vacation (which ended Tuesday) involved visiting my grandparents on dad’s side:

Because they live outside Pittsburgh, a solid eight+ hours away, I only get to see them once a year or so. They’re in their 80s, so I get reminded that each time I visit may be the last. So even though we didn’t do a whole lot–got lunch and watched TV–it was still worth every second.

— 3 —

I’m off at my main parish for the second straight week because of my little brother’s all-afternoon graduation party. This hasn’t happened since I came back four years ago. And it’s weird.

— 4 —

I noted with some interest that a nearby parish that had the Extraordinary Form is cutting it back from weekly to twice a month. Does that mean the Latin Mass didn’t really get a foothold there? (There is a new pastor, but he is trained in the EF, I believe.) Now I’m curious. Conveniently, my new house is nearby. I might go to Latin Mass one day just to see what’s up. I like Latin (took four years in high school) and like to use it at Mass, but have never felt attracted to the EF. But it seems like something I should know about, especially if I ever end up playing for them.

— 5 —

I should show you my gift from the groom at the wedding last weekend:

I love this gift.

I love this gift.

Yes, it’s a pocketwatch, and it’s awesome. And I’ve been carrying it constantly since.

— 6 —

Prayer request: a family the next town over, whose kids went to grade school with me, has been hit with tragedy again. In past years, the dad and one of the three sons, only 19, committed suicide. This week, another son, only 30, was found dead of as-yet unknown causes. I can’t imagine being the mom, the daughter, or the surviving son, and they can use all the prayers you can give them.

— 7 —

To close: And you thought your golf game was having a bad day.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Lessons from vacation

I just got back from a week away (including a grand total of zero Masses played last weekend). Here’s what I learned while away:

Continue reading