I developed into an “Irish-Existentialist” in my late 20’s responding to loss, disappointment, and disillusionment – the glass was always half empty. Divine irony? Bad karma? “Stuff happens?” Maybe all three, but whatever the case, I entered my 30’s an ordained Jesuit priest in turmoil. I felt like I was walking through a very dark basement and could find my way by taking small steps. Painful, yes. At the same time, I found that the music I wrote and the homilies I preached had a new depth. I felt surprised and grateful.
Some years later, after about 25 years of serving as a church musician, I realized I was completely bored. This led to further exploration of my own life as well as study of liturgical theology with particular questions: “Is it possible that the ideals I read about could connect with my ongoing experience of exile?” “Is it remotely possible that suffering actually might mean something for a follower of Christ – other than pious platitudes or cynical dismissal?”
[Me, not bored]
My seeking and finding and losing and rediscovering over the past thirty years or more led me write a book (“In the Midst of Our Storms”). It is not autobiographical. Instead, I attempted to connect lived experience, mainly the kind most of us want to avoid (i.e., suffering), with liturgical theology.
Since the aim of my project is to foster the “real presence” of worshipers to the Real Presence of Christ at Mass, I study biblical texts and liturgical gestures to uncover ways they can draw us into our depths.
Here’s an overview of my project:
1. Life, like the full worship experience, engages both the left and right parts of the brain – understanding & feeling.
2. Liturgical theory and practice can cultivate encounters for worshipers with what is deepest, between Life and Death matters. At this crossroads, it is right for profound resistance to surface, revealing our strategies for self-protection. Amazingly enough, we are more present to God in Christ when we resist!
3. Liturgy elicits resistance in the presence of Christ for the sake of our healing. Such a liturgical spirituality for adults (and those on the way to becoming adults) offers an alternative path to the “good little boy or good little girl” kind of discipleship which many of us were brought up with.
You’ll find my educational background here, if so inclined.