All posts by jilsy63

Jill Maria Murdy is the Director of Liturgy and Music at a large parish in Wisconsin. She has written and published many articles on Liturgical Theology, Benedictine Spirituality, and other spiritual topics. Jill Maria is an entertaining and engaging speaker, and knowledgeable in many aspects of liturgy and spirituality. She is also an active community member, and enjoys making music and performing at open mics and area venues in her spare time.

Kitty Logic (or lack thereof)

Kitty logic. Inconceivable.
Yesterday I had somewhere important to be at 8:30 AM.Unfortunately the volume on my alarms was down and I didn’t wake up. I woke up naturally at 8:20 and scrambled KittyBoy was there smiling smugly saying “Look Mama. I let you sleep in!” and then he sort of snickered at my predicament.

This morning I could sleep in a bit, and I had a rough time falling asleep last night, so it would be a precious commodity today .

But ThugCatGeorge had other ideas. He declared Romper Room open at 4:30 am. He lunges in from the other room and pounces heavily on the bed then bounces across me to the window ledge whilst letting out a gutteral.”wake up!”. When I ignore him, he becomes incensed and makes an exasperated, exaggerated breathing sound telling me “I mean it.” as he runs and pounces again, and yells “Gimme a treat…NOW.” He wears me down by repeating this process three or four more times.

Finally I acquiesce. I get up and head towards bathroom. He snorts, “It’s about damn time,” and forges the way. When I stop to use the bathroom he stomps his feet, “Really?” I really “yes really. Just hold your horses.”

When I come into the dining room, he swats at the empty plate where he gets his KittyCrack>aka “morning treat” saying “ITS….ABOUT…..FREAKING…..TIME” pausing to emphasize each word

Miraculously, a few minutes later what ever demon has possessed my boy is gone. SweetGeorge comes back to me and sweetly says “Morning Mamma, I think I’ll let you pet me! Wanna snuggle?” No more Alien Thugcat. Kittyboy is home. (Note…my spellcheck still turns parish to pariah, but know knows Kittyboy and KittyBoy)

Just as we can tiptoe or step slowly, run, or stamp our feet it never ceases to amaze me how much a 14 pound critter can put in his steps. He can come in a room so quietly that you don’t even know how he got there, or he can lunge so forcefully there is no way of missing it. Similarly a mew can appear to be a simple greeting, or a piteous yowl of woe, or an angry expletive. Cats can be as stubborn or aloof as anything, or as sensitive and tender as can be.

People talk about dogs and how happy they are to see their owners when they arrive. But one of the best parts of returning home for me is our nightly routine. He leads me to the bedroom, knowing I will change into pj’s or sweats and pet him as we talk about our days. That is more important to him then his dinner. If I feed him first he gets upset until he has had his daily scratching and petting.

Smiling and feeling a bit silly but ever grateful for the company of my feline friend. Amen.

Big E’s and Little E’s

An outdoor table
Warm sun, good coffee, great friend
Makes a perfect day

Moments of pure grace
Not to be taken lightly
Breathing earth’s goodness

These humble gestures
Are simple, sacred, holy
Now my heart is full

Many years ago a good friend taught me about the difference between big “E’s” and little “e’s”. Big E as in Eucharist. The sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ, of Sacrament and Sacrifice. When a group shares this together they are bound closer to Christ as ” koinonia”, a fellowship, a community of believers. In my faith tradition there is an opportunity to receive not only weekly Eucharist but daily.

Sometimes, because we are distracted by life, or become too lax in our routines, we can miss the significance of these moments, or not be as present to them as we should. Sometimes the availability and familiarity with the Sacrament can breed complacency, or just taking its Presence for granted.

This friend went on to explain to me that “little e’s” were those beautiful moments of grace and gift we can sometimes experience with family and friends. Just as Jesus took something as simple as a bit of bread and a cup of wine, and made it holy telling people “do this in remembrance of me,” so something as simple as sharing a cup of coffee, a spot of tea, a beer, a simple meal, etc can become a sacred moment, a sort of “eucharist with a little e….”when we pour out our lives with one another, are vulnerable…..these moments may be sacred.

They can happen through these gifted times of conversation, or as musicians come together, or as one becomes enthralled with a piece of art or nature. Athletes and others experience these in their own way. Young parents and a new baby know a sense of communion, of oneness that others cannot fathom. These moments are not limited by Creed.

These are not everyday occurrences. OR perhaps they are and we just miss the opportunity to see them most of the time. Personally, I think they are moments that are rich enough and rare enough that they can touch us….when we reconnect after a long time with someone, or when we don’t realize how much we needed that until after it is over. They can break through a void, snap us back into good humour, or give us the courage to face whatever happens next. These are the moments of the little e. They are sacred. They are gift. And they can bring me to my knees in glad thanksgiving. Eucharist and eucharist . I need them both in my life.

Jill Maria Murdy's photo.

Many Strong and Beautiful Women-Mother’s Day

When you walk into my living room, the first thing you see is a tapestry that my brother John gave me many years ago. It is called “Many Strong and Beautiful Women” by the artist KIKI. It is a bold, contemporary design that bears taking time to study deeply. One of my favorite scripture passages is Proverbs 31, which is often called “The Valiant Woman” or “The Worthy Wife”

As we recall Mother’s Day today, I am aware that my whole life, I have been surrounded by strong and beautiful women, and I pray in thanksgiving for the way they have shaped my life in the past and continue to do so.
Let me introduce you to a few of them.

First off there is my Mother, Rosemarie Murdy. Mom was sixty going on twenty five when she died, and there was little she couldn’t do! Mother was a registered nurse whose specialty was pediatrics. Long before there were things like neo-natal ICU, everybody knew they would call in Rose to special a sick baby, or to start an IV where no one could.

Mother decorated cakes for everyone in town, sewed every dress I had till 8th grade, and even burned a whole in one of my prom dresses while she was doing the final ironing. She was a marvelous cook, and had a huge garden that provided her family with plenty of wonderful things to eat through the winter seasons. Recently I had a few folks over for a big dinner. I spent a fortune in time and money preparing it, and was exhausted afterwards. Mother cooked like that a couple of times a day on a tight budget, while caring for four kids and working full time!

Mom taught Religious Ed Classes, helped with the Blood Drive, the Boy Scouts, the Cub Scouts; did a stint as Blaine County Republican Chair, and helped where ever needed. Mom definitely was a strong woman, in abilities and in personality. When she had an opinion on something she was not afraid to share it or stick up for it.

In a day when the folks didn’t have much, she was always willing to help someone else in need. I recall the camping trips where we took some poor kids under our wings, or the Thanksgiving the band in town to play for the dance the next night ended up at our place for dinner. Mother had many pieces of hand beaded Native American jewelry. Often someone came into the hospital with a sick child and need some money, so Mom would buy a necklace from them. A few folks would stop at the house to sell her beaded jewelry as well. She always kept extra gloves and hats in the car, and picked up plenty of hitchhikers, and made sure they had warm things when they left……just like they were another one of her kids. There was always an extra plate and place ready at our table.

She was a woman with a strong work ethic, and a deep faith. There is the story of the prophet Elisha asking to have “a double portion of Elijah’s spirit” I often think that if I could be half the woman my mother was, I would indeed be blessed Would that I were.

 

Grandmother Margaret Murdy was another strong soul. She was an art teacher for many years at Sacred Heart School in Miles City, Montana. My grandfather Lloyd Murdy often worked as a hired hand on for other ranchers and was away for months at a time. Grandmother had to make all the day to day decisions and discipline. From what my Father has told me, she was a master of reverse psychology. I don’t have many memories of her. One time we made a project together with flat stones and glue, making it into walls. She came to visit us the summer of 1970, and died on the 4th of July in the big gold chair in the living room. I have the picture of us playing Yahoo, but not a lot of other recollections.

I have little red cardinal knickknacks that were hers, and a few of the “How to” art books she loved. I recall getting a lemon custard cone at the “Penguin” Ice cream shop once when we visited.

I never met my grandmother Walburga Schmidt, but have always felt as if I was a bit of a kindred spirit with her. Grandpa Schmidt came over as an immigrant, and homesteaded in Eastern Montana. He returned to Europe and married my grandmother and brought her over to the US. She went from the beautiful, lush regions of Eichstatt, Bavaria to a dismal dugout in the barren regions of Eastern Montana. Mother told me she loved music, and when I was singing arias in college, she recalled hearing her mother sing some of them. It is amazing to look at pictures of the tar paper shack, and the harshness of that life, yet one can see she made curtains, turning it into a home. She was an excellent cook as well, and always found a way to provide for her family. She died in March of 1962 and I was born in April of 1963. I was lovingly called, “My grandmother’s child.”

A friend of mine has daily and weekly access to her grandchildren. The closest thing to this I had as a young child were a couple of neighbors. Grandma Grayce and Smokey Sandford lived next door, and they were as close to family as one could have without being flesh and blood. There was no fence between our yard and theirs, so our world and games stretched forth into both yards.

In the evenings we would all sit in the back yard and they would do stuff like humor me and time how long it took to run around the house. Grayce and Smokey knit us beautiful wool mittens, and taught me how to play Cat’s Cradle, and numerous card games. They helped keep an eye on us a lot as kids. Grayce made a paprika salad dressing that was simple but good. She was a teacher from Morris, Minnesota when she met Smokey. They spent most of their lives on a homestead on the Missouri River. My dad was always fascinated with the River, and learned much from them about it. When the family went to Grandma Murdy’s funeral, I stayed with Grandma Grayce. They drove a blue rambler with plastic bubbly vinyl seatcovers, and had those amazing bubbling tube Christmas decorations. (Years later, Grandpa Schmidt came to visit us and stayed for several years, so I did get an intense experience of live in Grandpa with him, but I was older then)

Grandma Morgan lived down the hill two blocks away. As a little girl, I heard her playing the pump organ and pretty much knocked on the door and made myself at home. With her we blew soap bubbles through wooden spools, played Old Maid and Crazy 8, and she made these cut out animals out of milk cartons. It was another regular place on my stops.

Growing up in a small town, there are so many people than influence. Lucia Leeds, Nancy Inman, and Gladys Burkhartsmeyer were my introductions to music and vocal production as I sang with the church choir at a young age. Evelyn Schubert, Rita Langford, and Maggie Moffat were all some of my heroes from church choir, and women’s softball. JoAnn Meyer was the stay at home mother of six who moved into town about my 5th grade year. There were always fresh cookies there. She and Ruth Sowers were the adult friends that were not your Mom that you could talk to and ask questions.

Then there were the mothers of all my friends. Mary’s mom Mockie, Sue’s Mom Muriel, Teresa’s Mother Melinda, Micks’ mom Aurelia, Rob’s Mom Ruby…..and so many others…. They all had a hand in raising us. Anybody’s mom could kick your butt if you needed it when we were out playing. Betty Sattleen, Cora Hellman, or Jean Erickson would remind you how to behave too.
Let alone those influential teachers, Janet Olson (and her sister Elsa) Mildred Doney, Anne Dannis, Mrs. Kimball, Mrs. Obrien, Mrs. Jellum, Mrs. Perry, Miss Swant, Mrs. McKay, Mrs. McKivor, Becky Stuker,…. Carla Rask is the only person who ever made me feel like I could succeed when it came to sports, and was kind when my natural clutziness kicked instead.

The women I met during my years at Sacred Heart Monastery taught me so very much about faith, about religion, about life. Ruth, Brigid, Renee, and Annella were my spiritual Ammas. Emily and Jean were my guides. They had such deep devotion to our Lord, and such patience with me. They were so formative in my life, and I am always grateful for that time, and that whether I am inside a Monastery or not I still have the spirit of St. Benedict and the Sacred Heart of St. Gertrude. It has led me in my ministry and my whole life.

When I speak of Strong Women, one who need special mention is my Dad’s wife, Donna Neibauer. She lost her own beloved Neil at young age, and has been through many hardships with My Dad’s brain injury, Tom’s Accident, and Jodi’s illness and passing. She has ever been kind and generous, going out of her way to make us feel welcome in her home. On one side of the hallway hangs the Neibauer picture’s baby and graduation picture, and the other side has the Murdy kids. It is not easy to meld worlds and families when everybody has all moved away, but she has done a wonderful job, and has taken such good care of my Dad all these years.

My aunts and cousins are amazing too. Everyone has their own bit of wisdom and their own life experiences. I’ve been so grateful to live near my Aunt Donna, when the rest of family is so far away. She has been a strong voice of reason and compassion in my life, and a sounding board when life is complex. When I am near her, I feel close to my Mom. It has been amazing to watch my cousins become wives, mothers, grandmothers…….of course sometimes I think “How did they age when I have not?” for I still feel rather childish at times. It is amazing to see their families, and my brothers and my sister in laws too, and how proud I am as I watch the people my nieces and nephews are becoming.

Then there are those of you whom I have not named: My friends, my confidantes, those women I have walked through my life with: the grade school friends I still connect with, people I went to college with, choir and parish members with whom I worship, those whom I make music with, those I know professionally, those whom I have met through modern technology but have yet to hug in the flesh. It is these women that I have learned the sacredness of a cup of coffee or tea, the sharing of a quick bite, a simple text on a busy day, special moments of music, and of silence. Times of great joy, and great despair. The bonds of friendship can be just as strong as the ties of blood. I am ever grateful for you.

So yes, Mother, I love you and miss you this day, but I also celebrate with deep gratitude, You and all the strong women like you that have been a part of my life, and those I have yet to meet. You have formed me. May I draw upon your wisdom, and may I follow your examples today and every day. Amen

Let it Be Done

As we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation today, I recall making my first profession on this date many years ago. Thankful for my Benedictine Roots, and the many things they taught me. Many friends have posted beautiful classic artworks on the Annunciation, but I am especially enthralled with Children’s books. Julie Vivas’ illustrations to “The Nativity” are beyond exquisite!

and while I’m being a bit contrary, Chris Muglia’s song “Let it be done.” is so rich.

I think there are so many times in my own life, I have NO CLUE what God is doing. I can be frustrated and disappointed and cry, or freeze and break down, or be angry and stubborn. But my best bet is to take a deep sigh and say to God , “Let it be done.” however, that is not a “One and Done” either….. it is something we (I) must say over and over throughout our lives. I just pray that I may have the grace of God to listen, and be open to the message…. .even when it is not what I want to hear. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djzew0ZRj-k

 

Mother….never forget you….. and Taco Salad

Today is a lovely day and the first day of Spring. And on this Friday evening in 1992 Mother slipped into the arms of her loving Savior. I have many friends who are celebrating the recent loss of loved ones. I empathize with you this day, and always as I feel the pain of not having Mom nearby. This year has been rather strange, as it matched up with the exact days of the week, so I have been recalling the whole last week of her life clearly. It always struck me so profoundly that my Sisters in Sacred Heart Monastery were celebrating the First Vespers for Benedict’s death, as family was with Mom.

Wednesday, Mass at SFC was offered for Mother and her Mother, whose Anniversary was also this week. The first reading was so powerful from Isaiah that day :
But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

Thank You Mother. I love you. Miss you.

Jill Maria Murdy's photo.
The same day,  my old friend Teresa Baxter sent me her recipe cards of Mother’s taco salad ( that I wrote out for her as a kid)

More John 3:16

This morning’s Gospel John 3: 14-21 has that infamous quote that we’ve been seeing at every major televised event since the 1970’s …… John 3: 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

While I’ve never been one to do that (I’d have to go to a sports event first, and they don’t look kindly on these signs at broadway shows and classical concerts) God and I have a longstanding joke, or affinity around this.

For many years now, at 3:16 AM or PM, I usually get some little jolt calling me to prayer. It might be waking in the night and needing to walk to the little room down the hall, or my cat waking up, and looking at the clock and seeing 3:16.

Similarly I may be driving or in a meeting, or any number of things, and all the sudden I glance at the clock, and there it is again, that 3: 16. Usually I smile and muse, and at least acknowledge God, or take a bit longer for prayer.

On stressful days, or in the midst of a confrontation, I’ve seen those numbers and realized “You are with me…. you have it all in control.” On the days I miss it, and glance down at 3:17 or 3:19, I feel like I have missed an important part of my day.

Of course I am not the only one who holds a claim to these times. The ancient monks prayed seven times a day. Perhaps this is my way of keeping one of the Little Hours. Those with a special devotion to Faustina often pray the 3:00 prayer.

The point is, we can pray anywhere, any time…. and don’t have to search to hard for inspiration. God is with us and ever so close!

http://www.usccb.org/bible/john/3:14

Jill Maria Murdy's photo.

You Are Dust

Yesterday I played for three Ash Wednesday Services. Sometimes when you are so very close to the liturgy, you can get caught in the mechanics and logistics of making sure everything is set out correct and you didn’t forget anything; hoping the cantor gets it, having to pitch in for the sacristan who couldn’t make it, hoping the adjustment the sound crew made on the mics was correct, wondering why the numbers of people are different than last year, thinking about how much there is to do between Lent and Easter…. ya da yad…..

I have to say I was blessed with two moments of grace yesterday. During the evening liturgy, during the distribution of ashes, there was a minister very near the piano. We were doing Rory Cooney ‘s “Hold Us in Your Mercy: Penitential Litany” which is so perfect for that time. But instead of just hearing the two part call /response between the cantor/congregation, I heard it as a four part canon, as I could continually hear the woman distributing ashes saying “Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return” and the “Amens.” It was such a rich cacophony of sound…… and a full blessing. Sometimes, hearing the minister can be distracting while playing, but this time I was able to fully enter into it.

Then when I got home from my long day, a young parent contacted me. Her son was so very excited that we had done one of my songs that day, and told his mom “Did you know Jill Maria Murdy WROTE it?” It was just such a sweet and gentle moment….and it revived my drooping spirits.

Winter blasts, earth cold and dormant,

Seeds lie planted deep within

Slowly life begins her myst’ry

Healing stillness, cleansing sin

Teach us how to wait in patience,

Trusting in your constant love,

We like wheat, once sown in darkness

Bursting through to light above.

Fearful still, we find resistance,

Stubbornly we won’t let go

Holding burdens ever closely,

Doubting we can ever grow

Coax us gently, draw us nearer

That we may be born again

Finding joy, eternal richness

Rising from the single grain.

JMM

If You Wish, You Can Make Me Clean

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched him, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”

Sometimes when we hear things like today’s scriptures, which tell the OT story of the leper shouting “Unclean” and the Gospel story where Jesus heals the leper, it is easy to blow them off as something that happened a long time ago. I recently heard someone say “We need to update the bible so that people understand it.” Yet those stories are ever true today.

Who is it that we avoid like the leper or the plague? Do we turn our heads away from the homeless one on the street, or the obese man, or the woman with Down’s Syndrome? Do we steer clear of the person who obviously has some mental health issues? Or just the person who annoys the heck out of us? (For me, when I find myself shunning or avoiding someone, or passing judgement, it usually means there is something about them that I see in me and it bothers me. So when I want to turn away is really when I should go forward and embrace them.)

Or, how many of us are like the leper in dialogue with Jesus. Maybe we don’t have the “scab or pustule or blotch of leprosy” but if we are honest with ourselves, we all have something that we long to be freed from.. that we long to be made clean.

There are many demons. Every day on the news we hear of the growing heroin epidemic, depression and anxiety abound, many struggle with cancer or terrible illness, others with the memories of abuse, or the memory of something that they have done and they cannot forgive themselves. Others struggle to get out of debt, or to overcome other stigma and handicaps.

But if you go back to the story of the leper, there are a couple key things to note. We can’t just wish for our problems to go away and magically kick our heels. First, we have to name the issue. The leper goes to Jesus and begs for healing. The person with a tumor must go to the doctor and present them with all relevant facts. The one approaching a 12 step program has to admit they are powerless, veritably screaming out “I can’t do this on my own, I need help.” To do any of these things is humbling. It means naming a part of self that we may prefer to keep hidden, or that we’d prefer to be like an ostrich about, burying our own heads in the sand.

Then, there is another thing. Healing in the scriptures always require an action! Jesus says “Go show yourselves to the priests” later on in this scripture passage.

The person on a diet needs to change their thinking and their lifestyle about food and exercise. Messy house woman may need to just buckle down and clean, or know when it is time to ask help beyond that, and call in a professional organizer or or a friend to help pitch.

The woman with cancer needs to have the surgery, and follow through with the treatments. The one with health issues must take their medications and follow instructions. The man burdened by his infidelity may need to seek a clergy person or a counselor so that he does not become frozen in a place and a pattern for ever.

Lastly, I don’t think we can ever predict the timing or the outcome. For one person, a medication may take care of an issue. For another, alcohol may always prove to be a temptation….. this taking care of self is usually an ongoing process. And in some cases, like the story of Jesus with Mary and Martha at the death of Lazarus, there was simply nothing he could do. The man was already dead. Hard things happen. Bad things happen. But Jesus doesn’t offer some overworn platitude. He simple offers the gift of presence to the two, He is with them, and he weeps.

So often when one is sick or hurting that is all we can do. Shed a tear, share a mug of coffee…. give the precious gift of time.

I remember when Mother was dying, many would say “If there is anything you need let us know.” and they were sincere in there words, but they just didn’t know how to help or what to say. (I know I have been in that same quandry so many times I can’t even recall, as I’ve blurted out that or something similar….) But the thing I remember something else too…. the woman who just came to the house and made Mom a cup of coffee, and then went and got the vacuum out, and didn’t listen to any protests. She just did what needed being done.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/mark/1:40

As many approach Lent it may be a time to ask? What do I want to change? How do I need to be healed? How can I do this? BLess you, and may you have the courage to cry out for what you need!.

You Are Dust

Yesterday I played for three Ash Wednesday Services. Sometimes when you are so very close to the liturgy, you can get caught in the mechanics and logistics of making sure everything is set out correct and you didn’t forget anything; hoping the cantor gets it, having to pitch in for the sacristan who couldn’t make it, hoping the adjustment the sound crew made on the mics was correct, wondering why the numbers of people are different than last year, thinking about how much there is to do between Lent and Easter…. ya da yad…..

I have to say I was blessed with two moments of grace yesterday. During the evening liturgy, during the distribution of ashes, there was a minister very near the piano. We were doing Rory Cooney ‘s “Hold Us in Your Mercy: Penitential Litany” which is so perfect for that time. But instead of just hearing the two part call /response between the cantor/congregation, I heard it as a four part canon, as I could continually hear the woman distributing ashes saying “Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return” and the “Amens.” It was such a rich cacophony of sound…… and a full blessing. Sometimes, hearing the minister can be distracting while playing, but this time I was able to fully enter into it.

Then when I got home from my long day, a young parent contacted me. Her son was so very excited that we had done one of my songs that day, and told his mom “Did you know Jill Maria Murdy WROTE it?” It was just such a sweet and gentle moment….and it revived my drooping spirits.

Winter Blasts

Winter blasts, earth cold and dormant,

Seeds lie planted deep within

Slowly life begins her myst’ry

Healing stillness, cleansing sin

Teach us how to wait in patience,

Trusting in your constant love,

We like wheat, once sown in darkness

Bursting through to light above.

 

Fearful still, we find resistance,

Stubbornly we won’t let go

Holding burdens ever closely,

Doubting we can ever grow

Coax us gently, draw us nearer

That we may be born again

Finding joy, eternal richness

Rising from the single grain.

JMM

Corpus Christi

downloadCorpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ…. I love these Summer Solemnities, like today and last week’s Holy Trinity. For these liturgies, I always like to bring in a good dose of traditional hymnody, as well as balance it with some of the the newer compositions. So of course there was a bit of “Panis Angelicus” and “At that First Eucharist” Sometimes, when you are at four masses or five masses on a weekend, it is hard to stay to stay present and focused, but I really loved every one of the celebrations this weekend. It is so rich to sing, to play, to pray, to focus on the readings, and the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ.

But how lovely to remember the koinonia, as we become the Body of Christ together. As I looked out I could see the woman who just lost her Dad this week, and the couple who had a baby on Monday and brought it to church today. While playing Tom Porters “Let Us Be Bread” I was mindful of Tom, and my many friends in North Dakota and Montana. As we sang “We Come to Your Feast” I was hearing some of Jan Michael Joncas‘s words anew, and finding the wisdom of a dear friend.

Tonight’s liturgy with the band we started with “One Bread, One Cup” and I was praying for Bobby Fisher who is recovering from a health procedure this week.

But there are also moments of humor sometimes. As we sang “Eat This Bread” I recall one summer at Notre Dame, when I was cantoring for the liturgy. I was a bit nervous, and grabbed the “people’s” book instead o a cantor book. So I started well but when I looked down to see the verses, they weren’t there! I did the first one from memory. The second one I sort of mix two together. Up in the loft, you could see Andrew McShane lifting up on the organ bench and looking in his mirror, wondering what I was up to.

We moved into the next verse, and I totally made it up. At this point, Andy realizes what is happening. I come up with one more on the spot, and he realizes, “danger, danger” so after the next refrain, he revs up the stops and takes it away on the organ. I was feeling badly about the whole thing, until after mass, when a couple people approach me, saying “Where did you get those additional verses? My parish does the same ones all the time.” God is good…. and a bit funny. I recalled so many school friends as I sang that hymn.

So tonight, on one of the hymns, I am concentrating pretty hard on the piano, and not singing . I wasn’t following the lyrics as closely as I usually do. I had no intentions of being irreverent or anything else, but I would swear I heard something about “One Body and Crust” instead of “Christ…” All I could think of, was, “yes, that is part of the loaf too, and there are certainly some folks we deal with that are a bit crusty, and I’ve been known to be a bit flaky myself.” In that nano second, my mind had flipped away from the liturgy, and then it came right back, and I was once again grateful to be part of the Body, and the many and different individuals who make it up.

I have another friend who speaks of “Big E’s and Little E’s” meaning Eucharistic moments, and eucharistic moments. I am so very touched by all of you who bring me to Christ…. in the liturgy, or over a cup of coffee, making music with friends, or hanging round a campfire. Those who teach us by example how to serve, and those who call me out of complacency and help me be a better person in spite of myself.