Never More Me
Inspirations & Motivations Behind My Songs and Images For fourteen years I have wondered if I ever would be able to produce a record. My answer to myself would consistently be "no". Whenever I would be invited to instruct a parish mission or retreat, concert or talk, people would repeatedly ask if I had a CD (or tape back in the day). My response would be "no, I don't have one." My own reasons prevented the reality from ever coming to fruition: • I just didn't think that my music would be "good enough", • My spirituality is personal and dear to me. It really struck me oddly to pour my own personal spirituality on to a disk that could go anywhere. • The resources needed for such a project are not negligible. The cost was a third deterrent. One by one these obstacles were removed. Finally, two years ago I resolved to go for it. I had reconciled myself to the fact that the Lord would use His relationship with me to speak to others. My sense of gifted inferiority could not stand in the way. Lastly, a wonderful and faithful married couple believed in me, perhaps more than I did, and helped to back the project. Thank you. It's coming back to you. Never More Me This is the title track on this first CD which hopefully is the first of several. The first and last tracks are Eucharistic in nature, the whole project held together by His Presence. I wanted this record to offer more than entertainment or a "feel good." I wanted the music and the lyrics to be a prayer that glorifies God -- that teaches and feeds listeners something of Christ. The title conveys that Christ is the fullest and most true "me." Receiving Him in the Holy Eucharist with a soul and heart longing for wholeness creates the chance to be more this "Real Me." I actually played this in my parish for the first time the weekend when our First Communicants were to receive Jesus in His Holy Eucharist for the very first time. They brought a whole new appreciation of this song into my life. One Cross This song I would like to make a gift to all priests and a "thanksgiving" to the Eternal High Priest, Jesus, in whom we serve in persona Christi. I wrote this song in two phases. The refrain goes back to seminary days, sitting at the grand piano in the beautiful chapel of my alma mater. The original verses, though, in their melody and in their words from Jeremiah just didn't fit anymore. The new verses were inspired by the signature retreat I wrote and have lead about 40 times -- From Albatross To Phoenix. The melody reminds me of the signing of the ship's log, and the words come from Matthew's Gospel: 11:28-30. I want to thank this record's producer, Rick Elias, for giving the song it's current sound. There's power in uniting our personal crosses with the One Salvific Cross of Christ Jesus. There's power in permitting Christ to live in us who, Himself, gives us the wholeness of life every human heart seeks. Jesus is the Son of God who the Father sees when He looks at us; Jesus is the Lamb of God who took our burdens upon Himself in order to bring life out of them. He keeps this promise He seals in His own Blood. From the Inside Out There are some Christian covers on this record that move my own spirit. I must confess, I included them not only because they speak to me and I enjoy singing them; but, this being my first CD, I actually feared that my own music just wouldn't be good enough. Hopefully, I'm wrong. This song from the Christian group, Hillsong United, moves me in it's description of human weakness. I hope to convey the hope that dwells in a penitential heart. There is an unfailing quality to God's offer of mercy and a certainty in our repentant heart. Everlasting and Never-ending! The Last Word This song was a wonderful surprise as I hoped the Lord would pour out some gift with musical and spiritual integrity. I wrote this over the last few months, and I think it has become my favorite track on the record. It's my own reflection on Jesus' last words from the cross. In a broader context, it's my reaction to the power of God's Word period. When the Lord speaks, His Word does what it was spoken to do, in us or around us or having nothing to do with us. God means what He says. God does have the last Word: "You will have life and have it to the full (Jn.). God does breathe the first breath: first into man (creation in Gen.) and then the breath of the Risen Lord into the apostles (the New Creation in Jn.). "It is finished," says the Lord who has made all things new. The "Paradise" we yearn for is afforded to the repentant thief and now to us. But, perhaps the most comforting and powerful word is the word of forgiveness and love that brings you and me back to life in Christ. Word of God Speak I want to thank Mercy Me for such a beautiful plea to the Lord, that His voice might meet our eyes, "washing" them, and our hearts, giving them rest. If I don't invite the power of the Word to be spoken into my life, God will not argue with me. Arguments are between two people trying to prove each one's point. The Lord has confirmed His point. I took the liberty to modify the words in this version from "won't you pour down" to the plea "pour down," and from "washing my eyes" to "wash my eyes." I like the clear permission we give the Lord to simply have Him "pour" and "wash." Word of God speak. Your servant is listening. He Will Carry Me There is a comfort in the message of Mark Schultz's lyrics. This song speaks to a deep place in me. I believe it, and I have experienced it. I really loved singing it from the same deep place in me. Okay, okay, I had to drop it a half-step or so in order to hit the notes. I hope that doesn't take anything away from the beauty of this battle cry. I agree that engaging the battle is never easy, but I praise God that He has already won. I rejoice to live on His side of the battle. This is Love Pope John-Paul II's incisive "Theology of The Body" has helped to form my own appreciation of the meaning and purpose of human sexuality. And, I am just one in a world of hungry hearts who has been fed and changed with the Truth of God's enlightenment to the Church through the Pope who I grew to admire and love greatly. There is no question that marital love is a gift from God to humanity, endowed as a mirror of God's divinity. Michael and Faith live out the Holy Father's "Theology of The Body." They are also the recipients of this next song on the CD. It was my wedding gift to them. I wrote the lyrics within a couple months of their July 2005 wedding. The melody and music came to me a little earlier. Thank you Lord for bringing them together just as you brought Mike and Faith together as one in marital love. Verse 1 presents the "man," or groom longing for a sense of completeness in his life. Verse 2 presents the "woman," taken from her "man" and recalling an eternal moment when she enjoyed being whole, when God held her and everything. The chorus makes it really clear how the love of husband and wife is brought to us in the person of Jesus Himself. He is the Father's love poured into flesh and the power for sacrifice to give life to the "other" whom we love. The bridge allows both spouses to see in each other the Love who is Christ Jesus Himself. He is so very near and visible in the Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church, the Bride of the True Bridegroom Himself. (Happy Anniversary Mike and Faith) Are Not Our Hearts CHRISTSONG is the name of a Catholic cast of artists, five musicians, a sacred ballerina and a mime who studied under Marcel Marceau. Mark Girardin is the very faithful and talented composer/singer who put it all together. We toured for five years together throughout the U.S. and the U.K. Thank you Mark for inviting me to collaborate in this two-hour sacred musical. CHRISTSONG portrays the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries (the Luminous weren't instituted yet), and invites all present into the transformative spirit present in each. "Are Not Our Hearts" is lifted from the Glorious Mysteries portion of the musical. The two disciples who are downcast have their hearts set on fire with the Risen Christ. First in His words to them, and then in His Eucharist (the Word-Made-Flesh) Jesus makes it clear that the "journey is the thing." He will permit us to encounter Him in the journey, and we are changed through the experience. A burning heart will brighten this world with the Source of the blaze. I wanted this record to begin and end with the Eucharist, and it does. In between, I hope the Cross, the repentance, the victory of the Word-Savior, the consolation of His strength, and His love lived out are conveyed. Art & Images Even though I am blind, the visual message of "Never More Me" was important to me. I wanted the message heard and seen: "Hearing is seeing." My hands permit me to "see" in a way. It was important to have hands on the front of the jacket. Those are my own hands pressed together with another set of hands closed over mine. The gesture is lifted from the ordination ritual of a priest, wherein one's freedom is understood in the context of obedience to Christ's will as revealed through the bishop. I envisioned the outside pair of hands having the wounds of Christ and as having light emanating. "I'm never more me than when I receive you." (Thank you Marcy for your artistic eyes and Christian heart which came together in this image.) The back of the jacket, in addition to containing important information regarding this project and my website, contains a picture of myself. I'm dressed in my "blacks" with my white cane in my hand. Linda took many different pictures in various places. I think this one conveys what I wanted. I'm walking away from the camera toward something beautiful opening up before me. The cane and the collar are discernable, but I, myself, am not is what's important here. It's the movement from one's old self toward one's true Self. "Keep me ever more me." Thank you for praying with me.