Sorry for the delay in getting this podcast out. Lance and his wife are expecting their baby any day now, and it is exam / final assignment time at university for the rest of the team, so things have been busy! But that is NOT going to stop us from bringing you the podcast!
In other news, we now have a dedicated audio engineer. Josh Fabbi has come on board and is now editing our podcasts. This will greatly streamline the process. Thanks a million Josh!
On this episode:
Music & Sound Effects
Intro 1: Hip Hop Loop With Electric Piano Drums And Bass from http://www.freesfx.co.uk/
Intro 2: '85s (Phatte Harry) / CC BY 4.0
Transition 1: Royalty Free Music - Simple Techno Beat With Bass And Swirley Pads from http://www.freesfx.co.uk/
Transition 2: “Systematic - Great for technological, modern applications with synth elements and funky guitar” from http://www.freesfx.co.uk/
Transition 3: “Compressed House Or Trance Drum Loop” from http://www.freesfx.co.uk/
Outro: "Pyro Flow" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Huge thank you to our new Audio Engineer – Josh Fabbi. You’re a rockstar!
Thank you to Shaun, Daniel, and Lacey!
Thanks to Mitchell Smith for covering the World Meeting of Families!
Thanks to you for listening!
He has nearly twenty-five million followers on Twitter. In the two and a half years he has served in the chair of Peter, he has written, spoken, and traveled extensively to continue the mission of the entire Church – making disciples of all nations. He has inspired millions both within and beyond the walls of the Catholic Church – and has done so with a pastoral tenderness that has made even the mainstream media keep an eye and an ear out not only for his major messages, but also for his daily homilies.
Pope Francis’ latest contribution to this task of evangelization is a pop/rock album entitled “Wake-up,” featuring eleven tracks that mix music with his speeches and prayers. I had the great privilege of getting an advance copy to review, and have been listening to it off and on for the better part of the last week – a challenge given that the Pope’s words are recorded in four different languages (only one track has him speaking English) and that none of the songs are sung in English. But it has been a challenge well worth the effort.
In a nutshell, Wake Up reminds me of World Youth Day. There is nothing in the world like World Youth Day. You leave your home and find yourself in a truly universal experience of being Catholic – being in crowds with hundreds of thousands of other young people who are singing, chanting, laughing, and ultimately seeking a deeper faith. You go through hardships, you experience joy, and you return home changed by the encounter with Christ – and with a much clearer sense of the universal Church. St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have each embraced the opportunity to meet the youth of the world at WYD, where each one has presented the Gospel in a way that is meant to inspire and challenge all who hear it (even if, in order to understand his message, you have to go back and read it after the fact.)
As I began to listen to Wake Up, I was reminded of the WYD experience. It seemed at times like I was being drawn out of my car and into something larger – and it didn't hurt that at times you could hear the crowd’s reaction to Francis. Hearing the Pope speak even though I couldn't understand him the vast majority of the time did nothing to dampen this experience – in fact it enhanced it. Not understanding the words had me paying much closer attention to the passion and conviction with which he spoke, and has had me looking back over the words selected to make up this album (they are translated in the booklet which accompanies the album.)
Francis’ words are selected from his very first greeting following his election at the conclave in March 2013, right up until his visit to the Philippines last January, and they deal with topics related to faith, the world around us, the poor, and the Holy Family.
The music which makes up this album reflects a variety of styles and talents: from the rock beats found in Wake up! Wake up! Go Forward! (the album’s sole English track – though the song lyrics are not sung in English on this track or any other) to a modern cover of the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen), I found the music reflected a good balance of joy and mystery. Those who perform on this album may not be as universally recognizable as the man they accompany – but their musical talent compliments the Pope very well.
All in all, Wake Up is a pleasing listen. Much like the experience of World Youth Day, however, I feel like this album is one that is best digested over time – and will be one I look forward to savouring bit by bit, song by song, and speech by speech in the weeks to come. I am glad to have Wake Up in my music library, and though it may not be a daily listener, it is one I expect to come back to again and again.
Get the album!
Preorder the album here: http://popefranciswakeup.believedigital.com/
We're also giving away two copies of the album!
Comment below, or click here to enter!
I was in a religion class when a student asked me the following:
"Can you prove, with actual evidence, that God is even real?"
Taking inspiration from St. Thomas Aquinas’ five proofs for God’s existence, my reply centered on the fact that it is possible to see that God is the uncaused cause of all around us, that it takes more faith to believe that God doesn't exist (and we're here by happy coincidence), and that everything we regard as true, good, or beautiful is only so because it somehow reflects the truth, beauty, and goodness of God to us.
While the above is an oversimplified answer – and there are no shortage of good, rational proofs for God's existence - a student who asks a question as it was written above, seeking actual evidence, isn't simply looking for a rational or philosophical argument: he wants to see God. This student is no different than Thomas, Jesus' apostle who missed the Lord's first resurrected appearance to them, and had a hard time believing any of it:
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." -John 20:25
It's Thomas' last statement that is probably most relevant here: there are many who seem to choose not to believe, in large part because they are not satisfied with the above evidence that has been offered to them by me, their teacher, our priests, or anyone else.
Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog, or someone who has seen or heard me speak has almost certainly heard me talk about my wife and kids. Chances are less likely, however, that most have ever met them. In the class I was in, only one of 25 students have ever seen my wife (across the Church), and a handful more had seen my kids. I posed the question to them, setting aside the one who had seen her: how many of you believe that my wife exists? Everyone raised their hands. Why? How do you know that I haven't photoshopped myself into wedding pictures, or hired someone to get her to pretend to be my wife? The usual answer I get here is "because you talk about her and your kids, and ultimately, and because we trust you."
One student offered a further answer: "because of the way you talk about her." It was a tremendous statement: the way I speak about her is, at least for this student, an unmistakable proof for her existence.
For the many Thomas' of our world - those who want proof or they will not believe – it’s possible that believing in God is difficult not only because of their doubts and resistances - but because of the way we who profess to believe in Him talk about God? I can speak with great devotion about my wife because of how much I try to devote myself to her, how I put time into my relationship with her whether I'm happy, sad, rested, tired, well, sick, relaxed, overwhelmed, or busy, because she is always before me. I wear a ring on my finger as a reminder of her love and fidelity - and my care for her keeps her ever in my mind and on my heart.
Can I say the same about God? (Can you?)
When people talk about changing the Church to try and re-connect young people with her, it's usually based on some sort of liturgical reform (how we celebrate the Mass) or a change in Church teaching (to catch up to with modern times). I think that the crisis we face as Catholics - really, that all Christians face has nothing to do with either of these issues. The crisis is that we Christians don't talk about Christ in a way that makes people recognize we know Him. And perhaps this is because we don't talk about Him enough... but perhaps it's because we don't know Him well enough. We lack devotion - putting time into this relationship whether we are happy, sad, rested, tired, well, sick, relaxed, overwhelmed, or busy, keeping Him ever before us.
Without discounting the importance of understanding our faith and being able to give well thought out answers to questions about our faith, what may be most needed is that we a) fall in love with Jesus and b) make sure we speak of Him by our life and actions. In this way, students like those I saw on Friday afternoon and any other "Thomas'" will be able to know, without a doubt, that God is real.
Our life in words and actions may be the first - or only - Gospel someone will read. Draw near to Him that it might be an authentic one.
Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people. -St. Teresa of Avila
People are hung up on what we do rather than what we are. What are we looking for in a marriage? Life-long love and commitment? Or life-long fancy vehicles and designer hand bags? (Are we even looking for marriage?) It shouldn't matter what a person does. We might benefit from looking for a spouse that is going to treat us like gold, not one that will just make sure we get our monthly supply of it.
For myself, when it comes to measuring my self-worth I've realized that I see things much more clearly when I have my priorities straight. Sometimes I get discouraged if I can't afford the clothes that I would like to wear, or I get jealous when other people's circumstances seem more desirable. But if my happiness depends on "things" then I will always be waiting for the next best. I have found that my happiness very much depends on how I am living, not what I own.
I'm not trying to say that having nice things or having a well-paying job is bad. I've met people with big incomes who have very happy, loving, Christ-centred homes. But I have also witnessed families who have very little and are so full of joy it's contagious. As well, a few years back I travelled to India and saw poverty we can't imagine and those beautiful people sure opened my eyes to what you "need" to be happy. I saw more smiling faces in those slums than I have ever seen walking down a busy street in Canada.
I know from experience that I am so content when I am making time for God in my life.
I know from experience that I feel amazing if I'm exercising and eating things that are the colour green. (As opposed to my diet of various kinds of sugar, flour and cheesy things).
I also know from experience that 8 hours of sleep does wonders for my attitude and my energy. (Although this is relative to how many kids you have...sometimes 4 hours is a victory!)
And finally, time spent with people rather than things is so much more fulfilling, and life giving!
Personally, I would feel truly accomplished if I could simply master those 4 things. Heck, I would feel accomplished if I could do at least one of those on a daily basis! So, that is what I'm going to try to do! Sounds simple enough right?
I’m not sure which I love more, liturgy, or making bad analogies. Fortunately for me (maybe not as fortunately for you), I recently had an opportunity to connect these two loves! On September 21st, I was one of the lucky 60,000 or so folks who got to witness the spectacle of an AC/DC concert.
It was exactly what any AC/DC fan would expect from a concert. There were face melting guitar solos, Brian Johnson sounded… well exactly like Brian Johnson. The played thunderstruck and pretty much every other one of their classics. The cannons came out during ‘For Those About to Rock’, and you knew that was the last song. Brian Johnson was wearing his trademark wool cap, and Angus was wearing what I’m pretty sure was the exact same school uniform he’s worn at every concert and in every photo since the 6th day of creation.
Now, if you know much about the band, you’ll know one of the biggest criticisms they receive is that pretty much every song they've ever written sounds the same. This hasn't stopped them from release 17 studio albums in their career, and selling out shows around the world consistently for four decades though. You see, despite that criticism, despite the fact we all knew exactly what the show would be like, despite the fact that it pretty much felt like one song from start to finish, and despite the pouring rain, we all had a great time. It wasn't because we were treated to something new and fancy. There was no novelty really at all in fact. It was more because our expectations were pretty much perfectly fulfilled. How is this possible? Because we knew exactly who AC/DC is and what they do.
Let me put it another way… if you had only ever heard Hayseed Dixie’s ‘A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC’ (that’s a real album by the way) then went to the show, your expectations would be too mismatched with what was going on around you to really appreciate and understand the experience. You might like it, you might not, but it wouldn’t be what you came to the stadium looking for. The same goes for Mass. If we don’t have enough of the right kind of exposure and education about it, then we can get in a microcosm of our own parish experience and experience some pretty significant barriers to the presence of Christ when we’re somewhere besides our home.
This is where the bad Catholic analogy comes in (If analogetics were a thing I’d be the Scott Hahn of them!). I’m not joking when I say this, but about 2/3 of the way through the concert I started thinking about how similar this was to going to Mass, especially for me as a liturgical musician. I honestly started thinking about how if we were as good at preparing for and ministering at our Sunday celebration as these guys were at preforming their music, there’d be no more arguing about things like whether OCP is an okay resource, or why any instrument that isn’t an organ is wrong, or when we should really be standing and kneeling despite what the Bishops say. I think something that’s happened with our Liturgy is that we stopped learning enough about what it really is and what it really means, and so we all end up showing up on Sunday with a set of expectations that might conflict with our pew mates, and that can’t possibly be met. I don’t mean necessarily the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but more the subtle things about our worship. Things like the difference between communal prayer and devotional prayer, what an antiphon is, what terms like ‘solemn’ and ‘reverence’ really mean, and how they all fit in to the big picture of the way we celebrate the Eucharist and the Word of God.
I really believe as Catholics we need to re-claim Liturgy, because we’ve lost some of the richness. When someone claims we need to jazz it up to attract more young people, or that people aren’t coming to church because of _________________ (pretty much any specific tradition in the Liturgy, you’ll find people claiming them all), I get the impression they are showing up on Sunday expecting Pizza Hut, and are surprised when they get a hand tossed, thin crust, forno baked Sicilian flatbread (Yes! Two bad analogies in one article!). Now please don’t interpret this to mean that I think we need to reverse everything done in Vatican II, smash all the guitars, and say everything in Latin all the time. I love a lot of the good, contemporary liturgical music out there and will go toe to toe with anyone who says it has no place. I also appreciate the history of chanting, and am transported by the beauty of a simple antiphon, sung harmoniously and ringing out over the congregation.
I guess what I’m saying is my appreciation of liturgy, my love for it, comes from a pretty deep understanding of it, specifically because some really brilliant people have shared it with me and taught me about it in the same way a jeweler might examine every facet of a precious stone (THREE BAD ANALOGIES!!! I think that’s a new record for me). I’ve been to liturgies where the whole congregation is like-minded people, just like the fans at an AC/DC concert, and in those times, regardless of the flavor of tradition we are celebrating through, the experience of Christ’s presence is almost overwhelming. Learning, teaching and sharing more passion for it can only serve to unite us as Catholics and deepen our relationship with Christ present in the Eucharist, the Word broken open for us, the congregation gathered, and the rich tradition of the Church. I think it’s exactly what we need to be… Wonderstruck. (I’m so, so sorry for that pun).
#1 - Know who Christ is
Christ is the one who called you into this profession. Like it or not, He is the reason you are here. You may have an excuse stating otherwise, but He put you in a classroom to help love you and to draw closer to you. He's on your side and wants you to succeed. Know Him and you will have the best professional development this life has to offer: the Catholic faith.
#2 - Know Christ's Church
You have been given supernatural help. The church is more than just an institution - she is the world's largest charity. With 2000 years of deep history, the church reaches beyond what we can merely see. You are supported by a network of people constantly praying for your profession the world over; and don't forget the Angels and Saints in heaven, who God himself sends to guide and support us in unceasing prayer.
#3 - Know Who You Teach
Teaching refugees has changed how I love my students. Learning of the sacrifices families have made to come to our country is astonishing. I have taught families who have fled their country because they were afraid for their lives. Of anywhere they could be, they are in my classroom. They don't have to be afraid of persecution or of corrupt officials, because they know they are in a safe community with compassionate adults.
You will teach people who are amazing, so just appreciate them. Their journey to your classroom door has taken them years and they have traveled thousands of kilometres to get there. Show them you are happy to see them, because Christ has brought them there. You are not their teacher by accident.
#4 - Know Why You Are Teaching
Yes, we need to give students the skills to help them succeed in life - no doubts here. We also must take to heart that we are able to reach young people as we fill a very specific role. You can do so much more than teach a subject. You can teach a soul how to get to heaven. Students may grow old and forget how to read, multiply, or why WWII started, but nothing can undo a soul encountering Christ and being changed for all eternity. There is nothing more beautiful than this and Papa Benedict would agree.
Don't kid yourself, Christ will be with you and guide you in ways you never thought possible. I find the best part of this profession is that my best days are just stepping aside and watching God work. He is the true teacher, so let Him teach through you.
"There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him."
- from the 2005 inaugural homily of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI