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    A View from the Pew

    Word of the Day: Mindfulness

    My daughter Martha and I trek to Boston each week as pastoral musicians for morning Mass at Emmanuel College. On our return trip, we stop and enjoy a meal and catch up on conversation. Not known for my timidity to initiate conversations with anyone (ask my husband and my kids for some really hilarious stories if you doubt me), I particularly enjoy engaging the young wait staff who serve us, to inquire about their lives. I often discover their hopes and dreams while they take our orders, pour our coffee, deliver our food and tally the tab. As they intersperse  service between prompted conversation, this venerable community of diverse gifts and abilities open up and eagerly share their hidden desire for their ‘real work’ to begin as artists, engineers, physicians, teachers, business executives and just about everything under the sun. The wait staff job pays the rent:  their desire to begin their true calling can visibly be seen and heard as they share their earnest aspirations. I never leave those conversations without feeling as though I’ve met another version of God.

    Today, our young waiter wore seven colored pens in her white shirt pocket.  Intrigued, I asked, “Are you an artist?” “I am,” she responded smilingly. “Do you study somewhere?” I continued, thinking that she may be art student in the myriad of local schools in the Boston area. “I graduated,” she replied. “I went to Rhode Island School of Design. “I’m at Rhode Island College!” Martha exclaimed. “I study music. What would be the odds?!”

    “What kind of art do you produce?” I prompted the young woman further. “I’m an illustrator,” she replied.  “I really love to explore the world of fantasy through the use of color and exaggerated art forms,” and Rochelle proceeded to tell me a bit about her most recent product of The Tree Top Colonies (“I mean, who doesn’t want to live in a tree house?” she chuckled.) and Reading Under a Mushroom (I would nestle under a giant mushroom to read a good book in a New York minute). She enthusiastically proceeded to describe a fanciful world that prompted me to explore when I reached home. So I did. (Check our Rochelle’s artwork on

    I told Rochelle that I read from books to my children in their formative years. I also would create stories that included them. All three of my children continue to urge me to publish their favorite original story, The Land of No Color. I always argue that the story needs an illustrator, one who can grasp the concept of the story and breathe life into the story lines through a particular kind of pictorial imagination. Acting purely on instinct (or maybe the grace of God), I told Rochelle about my story and asked her if she would be interested in a joint venture. Intrigued as I explained the story to her, she agreed. Et voila. A relationship is born.

    After Rochelle left our table to place our order, Martha cocked her head and asked with intense curiosity, “How did you know she was an artist?” “She wore seven different colored pens in her shirt pocket,” I answered. “Only someone invested in art in some way would do that.”

    Mindfulness. The Word of the day. Pay attention to the signs around us. As the grace of God unfolds around us in every action, in every person, at every moment, do we keep our eye on the ball? For the Christian, and particularly for pastoral ministers at every level of ecclesial life, mindfulness requires a particular discipline, a watchful eye on what unfolds before us as Paschal Mystery in every person and event.

    Today, we mark the 48th anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), a prophetic document that turned the course of liturgical history through the wisdom and vision of Angelo Roncalli, also known as Pope John XXIII, a prophetic voice in the wasteland and wilderness of church in desperate need of renewal. As we do our work and begin a new chapter in the history of the Church during this Advent of new beginnings, do you talk to your people about what they remember, about their hopes and dreams, about what they long for? Do you initiate conversations with your people that prompt relationship between ecclesial ministers and community? That requires conversation beyond “What do you think of the new translation, the new Mass parts?” Mindfulness includes mystagogy and theological reflection, which embrace a deeper conversation that lead to discovery of who we are as Church in this time and place and expand our understanding of what  Sacrosanctum Concilium began  – our celebration as the Eucharistic people of God in this time and place. Now that’s prophetic.  

    Practical tool for Advent use:

    One of the best Advent songs I’ve ever used is a text written by sterling writer Dolores Dufner, OCB set to the hymn tune TEMPUS ADEST FLORIDUM (Good King Wenceslaus). The text can be found in a book called Sing a New Church and published by OCP. The book contains some great Dufner texts set to familiar hymn tunes that your community will love. If you have a license to publish for parish use, print the hymn in your bulletin. I guarantee that your assembly will love this song throughout Advent. You can purchase a license to print just one song at a minimal cost. Send me an email if you want the Gif file and I’ll send it to you for your parish. Here’s a sample of one out of three verses and the refrain:

    Verse 1

    Nations, hear the prophet’s word:

    God will come to save us!

    O, be still and know the Lord;

    How else may God save us?



    People, be not sad of heart;

    God will come to save us!

    Be forever glad of heart;

    God will live among us!


    Advent blessings, Denise 

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    Reader Comments (1)

    If you're looking for a FREE download of the hymn tune TEMPES ADES FLORIDUM (Good King Wenceslaus), go to and download away! No cost!

    December 4, 2011 | Registered CommenterDenise Morency Gannon

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