Choristers' Challenge

Sing like a Catholic. Sing the Mass.

Category: evangelism

The Harvest is Abundant: School Mass Musicians

The Catholic School year begins with song as our student musicians lift their voices and hearts in praise to God at School Mass. The youth exude excitement, joy, and enthusiasm. They hunger for God. They are searching, and they need adult role models to show them who Jesus is. Jesus says, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few, so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”  (Matthew 9:37-38)

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Do adults know how to show Jesus to youth?

We see discouraging signs all around us, such as decreased Mass attendance, and legislation attacking the principles of our faith.  Christianity appears to be losing, not winning, hearts. Many Catholic adults, lacking solid catechesis themselves, don’t know how to share the Christian faith with their children and others. Pope Benedict XVI encourages us to persevere in forming youth amidst the challenges of our secular world.

There has been a collapse even of simple religious information. This naturally forces us to ask: What is our catechesis doing? What is our school system doing at a time when religious instruction is widespread? I think that it was an error not to pass on more content. Our religion instructors rightly repudiated the idea that religious instruction is only information, and they rightly said that it is something else, that it is more, that the point is to learn life itself, that more has to be conveyed. But that led to the attempt to make people like this style of life, while information and content were neglected. Here, I think, we ought really to be ready for a change, to say that if in this secular world we have religious instruction at all in the schools, we have to assume that we will not be able to convert many in schools to the faith. But the students should find out what Christianity is; they should receive good information in a sympathetic way so that they are stimulated to ask: Is this perhaps something for me?

– Pope Benedict XVI, Salt of the Earth p 125-126

Are you ready for a change?

Are you ready to share the treasure you have found in Jesus Christ?

May God bless our student musicians.

May God bless all those who inspire youth to fall in love with Jesus.

The Elementary School Sing the Mass Challenge: Day 1

Today, we sang our first Mass for the elementary school Sing the Mass Challenge. I was nervous about how the school would respond to being told that the Mass was being recorded. As we only have a couple grade school Masses left for the year, we needed to get it right quickly, or we would run out of time. Also, today was the first time trying out the new microphone set-up and I didn’t know if the mics would pick up the congregation clearly. On top of that, there was a 6th grade field trip today! The elementary school leaders were gone.

Nevertheless, today was a great success. Listen to the clips of the school singing the Mass. Fr. Andrews sang various dialogues and prayers, too. Mrs. Mary O’Boyle Kienbaum and Mrs. Virginia Maas inspired the Gloria Singers and the school with their direction and flute playing respectively.  I was proud to be playing for such a vibrant and joyful congregation.

Here are the recordings from this morning. We will record these songs again next week and then compile the best takes for a Sing the Mass album. Way to go Norfolk Catholic Elementary!

O Sons and Daughters

Lord, have Mercy – Mass in Honor of Saint Cecilia by David Hurd

Alleluia

We are the Stewards – Sara Kalamaja

Holy

We Proclaim

Amen

Our Father

Lamb of God

How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place – J. Michael McCabe

Regina Caeli

Alleluia No. 1

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World Youth Day and Poland

Musical preparations have already begun for World Youth Day: Krakow. What is the sacred music scene in Poland? What will the world’s Catholic youth find in the land of Saint John Paul II? I know several people who will be attending the events in Krakow this summer and I am really excited for them.

Poland and Youth: what promise! Poland’s history is so replete with suffering and faith it is no wonder that it has produced so many saints. How much worse would the twentieth century have been without faithful Polish Catholics?

Saint John Paul II. Pray for us.

Saint Faustina. Pray for us.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe. Pray for us.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Pray for us.

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You Can Share the Faith

youcanshareYou can Share the Faith: Reaching Out One Person at a Time by Karen Edmisten.

Today, I finished Karen’s latest book which explores the many facets of  sharing our Catholic faith. If you haven’t read Karen’s books, I recommend that you read them all. I guarantee that you will be hooked and yearning for more. Her books never fail to inspire and encourage, brimming with joy and hope.

The topic of her latest book threatens to discourage me daily. Simply put, I can’t share the faith. I can’t convert hearts. I can’t make people believe what I believe. Karen’s book helped  me to see how sharing the faith actually works, as in how God uses people to share the faith…how the Hound of Heaven constantly reaches out to each one of us…how our prayers matter…how conversion is messy…that great pain and even great sin can be the greatest impetus for conversion.

Karen covers all the fears and frustrations of sharing our Catholic faith. It really is a daunting task, but Karen shows that, even in our weakness, God can use us. Her insights and stories illustrate how God masterfully uses our relationships as the means to be a witness to our faith.

The other week, during a discussion about sharing the faith, I made a disparaging remark about teenage faith formation for kids whose parents don’t practice their faith. I said in an arrogant tone, “Parents are the most important influence on kids. Parishes should strive to form the parents so that they can share the faith with their kids.”  Karen’s story of conversion showed me my error, as she found the Catholic faith through friends and in spite of atheist parents. Karen doesn’t make the mistake that I made and reduce evangelization to a cookie cutter model.

Sharing the faith is not a simple 3-step program that, once learned, you do over and over again with instant success. Instead, sharing the faith is this mysterious phenomenon in which God uses us, as flawed as we are, as His instrument. I don’t wake up and say “I am going to convert 4 people today.” I wake up and pray, “God, I am in love with You. Use me.”

Embarrassing Holy Spirit Moments

I think I was in third grade when a travelling evangelical puppet show came to our church. At the time, my family attended Victory Road Evangelical Free Church. It was a great community. Sunday School and services filled up Sunday mornings. Praise and prayer every Sunday night. Wednesday night Bible studies. The primarily young families were on fire with love for Jesus. My brother and I would spend evenings running around the church with a dozen other kids while the parents conversed.

By the time the traveling puppet show came around, I had heard a few altar calls and I knew that my time was coming to respond to the call. However, I also knew that I was still young enough to wait a little longer. I remember asking my mom if it was time for me to accept Jesus as my personal Savior and she responded by asking me what I felt about it.

I felt that I wanted to give my life to Jesus, but that I needed to feel a strong emotion about it. It didn’t seem right to do something like this without strong fervor.  I think part of my hesitation was the public and adult nature of the altar call. Normally, the pastor would invite people to come up in front of everyone. Even though I felt the tug on my heart to tell Jesus how much I loved Him, I didn’t want to go in front of the assembly and then have the pastor ask me questions.

This puppet show ended with an altar call. I felt the desire to respond stronger than ever and the tears started welling up. Surrounded by kids, with a puppet leading the call, I stood up and prayed that Sinner’s Prayer.

Thank you puppets.

Please share your embarrassing Holy Spirit moments.