Meditating on PROVIDENCE

I invite you to see my latest Luke Live Online! on YouTube and the reflection on the hand of God in all things to rejuvenate, transform, make good on the human condition and the vagaries of Nature. Faith –all the great faiths of the world invite trust in Providence. Every birth is willed by God –not its imperfections or illnesses–as a beginning toward transformation in this world of seeing, feeling, touching, being into an eternal communion. Go to:

Here’s a copy of the poem I read around in The Atlantic issue September 2018. The poem is by Carl Dennis and may be found in his collection NIGHT SCHOOL.

PROVIDENCE 

By Carl Dennis from his collection NIGHT SCHOOL 

PROVIDENCE seems to be one of the words

That shouldn’t be mourned as it falls from fashion.

Goodbye to the notion that whatever happens

Is meant to happen, foreseen and approved

By a thoughtful heaven.  A word that’s proven

Invaluable to the privileged when they’ve cautioned

The less-than-privileged to be content

With the portion that happenstance has assigned them. 

It’s the work of providence that you were born

To a sharecropping family on a hardscrabble farm,

Not to the family that owns the land. 

Goodbye to the word, and yet its disappearance

Might make it harder for the sharecropper’s daughter

To explain to her husband’s wealthy parents

Her reluctance to take a pill guaranteed

To make the baby boy she’s soon to bear

More handsome and clever than he would be otherwise.

Providential, meaning the baby for her

Is a gift meant to be welcomed as is, not a kit

To be assembled at home in the latest style.

A gift whether or not he later looks back

On his birth as providential or as a simple

Piece of good luck, providing him with a mother

Who would urge him to do the work

That pleased him most,

Work she believed he was meant to do. 

LUKE LIVE Online Session 8: CHAPTER 2: 1 – 7 accompanied with the Song Meditation: NIGHT OF SILENCE / SILENT NIGHT

Begin by going to my recitation of this passage with the accompanying Song Meditation. Simply copy this link and paste in your browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9X0Qw_Dq4T8 As you listen, you may follow along with the following text

The Birth of Jesus. [a]In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus[b] that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.[c] She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Night of Silence / Silent Night Counterpoint CREDITS

Kantor, Daniel © 1984 by GIA Publication, Inc. 7404 S., Mason Ave. Chicago, IL 60638;  http://www.ocp.org/compositions/30161

This arrangement by Paulo J. Almeida http://www.pauloalmeida.com/

Piano: Laurence Rosania http://www.ocp.org/artists/1268

Violin: Christiana Liberis  http://www.christianaliberis.com/

Cello: E. Zoe Hassman

Flute: Matthew Wright http://facebook.com/matthewalanwright

Oboe: James Mobley  https://www.facebook.com/jmdesignstudio

Glockenspiel / Bells: Paulo J. Almeida http://www.pauloalmeida.com/

Night of Silence / Silent Night Counterpoint

Cold are the people—winter of life

We tremble in shadow this cold winter night

Frozen in the snow lie roses sleeping.

Will they ever echo the sunrise?

Fire of hope you’re are only warmth—

Weary!  You’re flame may be dying soon.

Silent Night, Holy Night,

All is calm, all is bright

‘Round young virgin, mother and child,

Holy infant so tender and mild—

Sleep in heavenly peace!   Sleep in heavenly peace!

Voice in the distance calls through the night

On wind you enfold us, you speak of a light!

Gentle on the ear you whisper softly

Echoes of a dawn so embracing!

Breathless love awaits darkened souls

Soon we will know of the morning!

Spirit among us, shine like a star!

Your light that guides shepherds and kings from afar.

Shimmer in the sky so empty, lonely

Rising in the warmth of your son’s Love!

Star unknowing of night or day

Spirit, we wait for you loving son!

You have just heard part of the traditional Christmas proclamation including Daniel Kantor’s Night of Silence with Franz Gruber’s Silent Night in counterpoint. 

  1. What feelings are evoked?

I love the fact that Kanter’s NIGHT OF SILENCE was composed as a counterpoint to SILENT NIGHT.  If you like, repeat the track, with your group singing verses of Silent Night to my singing NIGHT OF SILENCE. That experience, or just knowing about the song’s complementarity, offers a visceral understanding that unity and diversity can and must co-exist in our world for Peace to be realized. 

Luke Live Online Session 7: More Reflection on Zechariah’s BENEDICTUS

I am often asked why Luke was inspired to include the story of Zechariah, Elizabeth and John the Baptist’s birth in relating Jesus’s story to his primarily Gentile audience.  Luke had to make evident to them that Jesus were rooted in Judaism which alone, among all other religions at that time, had identified one, true God. Furthermore, Luke’s listeners had to understand that God willed Jesus to manifest Israel’s prophetic teachings: the importance of an honest, reverent relationship with God over and beyond the temple cult, the insistence that we improve the quality of our relationships with others especially those who suffer from society’s neglect, disrespect or prejudice, those who lack opportunities for work and livelihood, and those who suffer from being sick and/ or disabled.  Also Luke’s Gospel will affirm the central Christian witness that God intended Jesus to inaugurate the Pharisaic belief in resurrection from the dead. The Jewish sensibility that the Messiah required a forerunner was an essential link to all of this.  Here ‘s my commentary on Zechariah’s Canticle “Blessed be, the Lord,” also known as “The Benedictus” (Latin for ‘Blessed’).   The same insights gleaned from Mary’s Magnificat apply here.  Moreover, Zechariah’s Canticle highlights even more dramatically how the vision of prophets such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Malachi and others was about to be realized in a way. 

Since the Exodus, Israel professed God as the great Liberator, the One who frees people from oppression.  Ever after, faithful Jews insisted that what God had done for their ancestors, God would continue to do for them and for all who seek God with a sincere heart.   Zechariah embodies this belief as he rejoices that his people will now be “free from the hands of enemies” and “free to worship God without fear” i.e., without interference from worldly powers.   When Jesus began his public ministry in Nazareth, he, too, embodies this truth by quoting the prophet Isaiah: “God has anointed me … to let the oppressed go free.” 

Continuing with the Canticle, Zechariah makes clear that FREEDOM FROM OPPRESSION IS part of a progressive movement in which ultimately the entire world will accept God’s invitation to treat all people as equals–all peoples as children of God.   Each in their own way, the Hebrew prophets insisted that God had invited Israel to become the world’s leader in this progression that would ultimately achieve harmony and peace for peoples everywhere.  Through Judaism, and, for Christians, through Jesus, God invites humanity to return to the glory of Eden–the world as God intended it before free will turned much of humanity against God and God’s ways.  As Zechariah’s canticle continues, this concept becomes clearer. 

“Filled with the Holy Spirit,” Zechariah looks upon his son John and declares that this forerunner to Messiah will “give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins because of the tender mercy of our God.”  This statement puts all peoples, all nations and all religions on equal footing.  Indeed, one common denominator for humanity is that “everyone needs forgiveness.”  Life and Hope cannot be sustained without it.   It is this honest and humble recognition that will move the world out of its tribal sensibilities (the “us” against “them” mentality) toward a universal brotherhood and sisterhood working out conflicts with equanimity.  

Of course, to forgive and receive forgiveness presents many challenges for us today as then.  The choices as to the degree of accountability that each act of forgiveness must include wreak havoc with our souls.  After all, it is not easy to decide how much, how little to exact from those who have harmed us or harmed others.  Indeed, there are times when making demands on offenders is fitting, just and right.  For example, there are times to insist that money lent to a relative or friend be paid back in full.  Such accountability empowers the relative or friend to mature, to take responsibility for his or her actions.  Other times, however, it may be best to wipe the slate clean and grant complete clemency.  In the case of abusive relationships, it is right and just to abandon the relationship altogether—especially when the abusive party makes no attempt to change or proves incapable of improving. Forgiveness, like all human values, requires faith, dialogue and discernment with others.

Taking all of this into account, we need to note that the Bible offers a progression in its examples of how and when forgiveness is offered.  One of the oldest biblical writings, for example, comes from Leviticus 24: 20 in which we find justice expressed as “an eye for an eye” which began to put limits on exacting justice.  Genesis, however, (stories and events documented generations after the older “legal texts” of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy[1]) offers us “the mark of Cain”—evidence of an even greater mercy.  You will remember God does not kill Cain for murdering his brother Abel.  Moreover, God’s mark on Cain forbids others to take revenge upon him (Genesis 4:8—16).  These sensibilities deepen over time throughout TANAKH and Jesus builds on these as evidenced n Matthew’s Gospel’s Sermon on the Mount (MT: 38—42) and Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (Lk 6: 27—42).  These prescriptions reach their ultimate manifestation through Jesus himself when he cries out on the Cross “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”   Note that there is no exemption clause here—every one and all are forgiven.   Ultimately, when we take the Bible as a whole, it insists that accountability always leaves hope for the offending party, even as it grants us some satisfaction in terms of justice.  Hope is embodied in the opportunities it offers offenders to change, to make amends so that he or she can reclaim their inherent, basic, common human dignity.  Humanity’s survival is dependent on a universal commitment to forgiveness for genuine love to manifest itself and grow in the world. 

For Discussion:

  1. What biblical stories exemplify the importance of Zechariah’s pronouncement of the necessity for forgiveness of sins?  Consult the ways all world religions, world literature, drama, films, television stories offer catharsis through forgiveness. How do you relate to these stories?  How do they impact your understanding of forbearance, patience with yourself and others, mercy and forgiveness of yourself and others in your life?
  2. Recall your childhood experiences of forgiveness and accountability.  Was there a proper balance? How have these experiences informed your adult sensibilities?
  3. What are your personal experiences of forgiving and being forgiven as an adult?  How do you balance forgiveness and accountability in your life now? What criteria do you use? To what extent do the Golden Rule and Platinum Rule apply?
  4. In what ways might you be struggling with forgiveness and accountability today?  (Apply this to yourself as well as toward others.)
  5. What historical and contemporary world events challenge your faith tradition or alter your convictions about forgiveness and the balance of mercy and justice?

There are abundant resources that help us engage in the process of forgiveness—forgiving yourself, forgiving others.  See the corresponding page on the website for some suggestions:

There are abundant resources to explore forgiveness in your life.  Here are just a few:

Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Matthew Linn:

DON’T FORGIVE TOO SOON  (New York: Paulist Press, 1997)

http://www.paulistpress.com/Products/3704-6/dont-forgive-too-soon.aspx

HEALING LIFE’S HURTS: Healing Memories Through Five Stages of Forgiveness (New York: Paulist Press, 1988)   http://www.paulistpress.com/Products/2059-3/healing-lifes-hurts.aspx

Paulist Father Frank Desiderio’s Forgiveness Retreats: http://www.forgivenessretreats.org/

Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/do-the-right-thing/201403/forgiveness-4-helpful-strategies-do-it-better

The Center for Non-Violent Communication: https://www.cnvc.org/

[1] Genesis: Introduction by Jon D. Levenson in The Jewish Study Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004) 11

Other sources include http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Book_of_Genesis:  composed “just before or during the Babylonian exile of the 6th century, and the Priestly final edition was made late in the Exilic period or soon after.”  FYI, scholars consider the OLDEST book of the Bible, the first to be recorded in writing is JOB.

EXPLORE Parallels between Zechariah’s Canticle and the hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

The Canticle of Zechariah parallel lines:
69 [t]He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant, 70 even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old: 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us,
72 to show mercy to our fathers
 and to be mindful of his holy covenant
73 and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father, and to grant us that, 74  rescued from the hand of enemies, without fear we might worship him 75 in holiness and righteousness
 before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High,
    for you will go before the Lordto prepare his ways,
77 to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God
    by which the daybreak from on highwill visit us
79 to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow,
    to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
O COME, O COME, EMMANUEL VS. 5 TO 7  Verse 5: O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;

make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery. Refrain
  (Verse 4 has this line: “O come, O Rod of Jesse’s stem (i.e. David), from every foe deliver them.”                             Verse 6: O come, O Day-Spring from on high And cheer us by thy drawing nigh Disperse the gloomy clouds of night And death’s dark shadow put to flight.  Refrain   Verse 7:
O come, Desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all humankind;
O bid our sad divisions cease,
And be for us our King of Peace.  Refrain

1. What feelings are evoked by listening to this portion of the hymn?

2. You’ve noticed that the hymn makes reference to the importance of Davidic descent in ancient Judaism and this concept of a “royal family” exists in many times and cultures. From ancient times up to the late middle ages, the world valued ancestral blood lines in leadership and revered them.  Of what benefit is that to us today?  Can we translate the importance of an ancestral line to a modern mindset?  If so, how?  If not, why?

3. Invite discussion on the many ways religious and spiritual leaders build on their predecessors’ lives and actions.  What can we learn from this dynamic? 

Luke Live! Online: Reflection on Mary’s Prayer THE MAGNIFICAT

The Canticle of Mary. 46 And Mary said:*

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

47 my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

48 For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;

behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

49 The Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

50 His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.

51 He has shown might with his arm,

dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

52 He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones

but lifted up the lowly.

53 The hungry he has filled with good things;

the rich he has sent away empty.

54 He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,

55 according to his promise to our fathers,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

56 Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Now let’s take a closer look at the words of Mary’s prayer that you have just heard. Tradition identifies this prayer as “The MAGNIFICAT.” “Magnificat” is a Latin word. Its English equivalent is the word “magnifies.”  The Christian tradition translated Luke’s original Greek into Latin and from Latin into English with the phrase “My soul magnifies the Lord.”  Scholars who created the New American Bible translation chose the word “proclaims” in this context.  Thus you heard Mary say in this translation, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” Other translators coined these phrases: “My heart praises the Lord” (Good News translation), “My soul glorifies the Lord” (NIV), “My soul exalts the Lord” (New English Bible).  The Revised Standard Version (RSV) and the New Revised Standard Versions (NRSV) returned to the more classic English translation “My soul magnifies the Lord” as do all of the King James versions. 

To magnify is to enlarge—i.e., to make God’s greatness more evident. The words “praise” and “proclaim” accomplish the same purpose. The more we praise God, the more opportunity for people to ponder God and God’s greatness.  Both Christians and Muslims see Mary’s willingness to conceive and give birth to Jesus as a perfect witness to God’s greatness.  Her willingness to trust God in this miraculous conception also emphasizes the importance of surrendering to God’s will.   And even though Mary is not part of the Hebrew Scriptures, her cooperation with God, which we call GRACE in this moment, concretizes her Jewish sensibilities inherent in the words of Psalm 79, verse 13: “We, your people, will give thanks to you forever; through all ages we will declare your praise.”   Also Psalm 111: 3: “Majestic and glorious is God’s work, God’s righteousness endures forever.”  Thus Mary can rightfully say, “from now on will all ages call me blessed,” and “God’s mercy is from age to age.”  Remember, Grace has an uncontainable quality that extends far beyond any one individual or group or place or time.  Indeed, many faiths and philosophies uphold that “goodness begets goodness,” ‘truth strengthens truth,” and that “love knows no boundaries.”  

In Mary’s prayer we also find affirmation of the great reversal promised in the Hebrew Scripturestraditionally called TANAKH[1]: “the poor will be exalted, the exalted humbled.” Most notably there is the Song of Hannah in the book of 1 Samuel 2: which contains phrases such as

“My heart exults in the Lord, 

my strength is exalted in my God.

 Speak boastfully no longer nor let arrogance issue from your mouths.  The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, 

while the hungry batten on spoil. 

The Lord makes poor and makes rich. He humbles, he also exults. 

He raises the needy from the dust; 

from the ash heap he lifts up the poor, to seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage.” 

Clearly the Divine Action is to reconcile peoples to their proper state of living:  a celebration of our common humanity—everyone standing before God as equals.  This is a “great reversal,” indeed, for so much of human history progressed—just as our world continues to progress—at other people’s expense.  God’s reversal through prophets and through Jesus insists that we implement checks and balances on progress for everyone’s mutual benefit.  Indeed, the biblical vision obliterates the importance of status and heritage because they distract us from the common vision that we are all one.  Ultimately, social rankings are illusions.  At the end of each and every day, everyone needs air, water, food, clothing shelter, sleep and, yes, toilet facilities.  We must not take any aspect of our humanity for granted.  The Book of Ecclesiastes puts it this way: “As they came forth from their mother’s womb, so again shall they return, naked as they came, having nothing from their toil to bring with them.”  (Ecclesiastes 5:14)

When all social divisions cease, every person is as important as another.  This is humanity’s one, unifying vision: Every individual is an instrument of Providence.  Believers are invited to live daily in awe and wonder that we are able to experience life and love because of God and through God.  The Catholic liturgy proclaims God as the one “In whom we live and move and have our being.”  (This is a direct quote from the Book of Acts 17: 28.) In secular terms, gratitude for life itself breeds humility which, in turn, brings people together.   

INTRODUCTION TO AVE MARIA

         Now I invite you to collect your feelings and thoughts about THE GREAT REVERSAL, AND THE ANNUNCIATION AND VISITATIONS PASSAGES through my song meditation, Schubert’s AVE MARIA.  The words are Latin but they comprise Luke 1, verses 28 and 42.  Verse 28 recalls the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary that preceded the Visitation passage you just heard. Gabriel calls out to Mary: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” The next line of the prayer and lyric echoes Elizabeth’s words to Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”  For Christians these words are an affirmation of our belief in the “Incarnation,” God entering into human history as a human being.  We’ll explore that further in subsequent tracks.  I invite listeners from other faiths to meditate on the ways your religions affirm God’s presence in the world through people of good will in all times and places. 

The song’s second verse addresses Mary as Mother of God, that is, of Jesus. Christians believe Jesus to be both fully God and fully human—the complete manifestation of God to the material world.  Both aspects of Jesus are inseparable, therefore Mary is the mother of the ONE who is both God and human. That is followed by a prayer of petition that Mary will pray for us now and at the hour of our death so that we may be with God for all eternity.   These themes also have secular counterparts that can be part of your discussion with relatives and friends who hold other faiths or maintain more secular perspectives.  

“Full of grace” is to be blessed, to be congratulated, to be filled with good news, good thoughts–to be caught up in a life-affirming enterprise.  Prayer, which comprises the second part of Hail Mary, for example, is an active expressions of HOPE in eternal life.  Its secular counterpart is the concept of horizon—a reality that can be seen or envisioned but not fully grasped because, like the horizon itself, it beckons only to recede further into space and time.  Recede though it may, the impact of horizon—magnificent sunrises and sunsets–lingers and we are able to grasp some of its energy and inspiration in the here and now.   Here then is Schubert’s AVE MARIA.  Additional commentary with questions for discussion will follow. 

 Here are links to two of my recordings of AVE MARIE -one Audio Only with Instrumental Ensemble from my CD The Gospel of Luke In Word and Song; The second is a Video with piano accompaniment by Laurence Rosania.

Latin Catholic prayer versionLiteral English Translation 
Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Maria, gratia plena,
Maria, gratia plena,
Ave, Ave, Dominus,
Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus,
Et benedictus fructus ventris (tui),
Ventris tui, Jesus.
Ave Maria!

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Ora, ora pro nobis;
Ora, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Nunc et in hora mortis,
In hora mortis nostrae.
In hora, hora mortis nostrae,
In hora mortis nostrae.
Ave Maria!
Hail Mary, full of grace,
Mary, full of grace,
Mary, full of grace,
Hail, Hail, the Lord
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed,
Blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Thy womb, Jesus.
Hail Mary!

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Pray, pray for us;
Pray for us sinners,
Now, and at the hour of our death,
The hour of our death.
The hour, the hour of our death,
The hour of our death.
Hail Mary!

For more on Schubert’s AVE MARIA, see: 

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Ave_Maria_(Schubert)


[1] I want to emphasize the Hebrew word TANAKH in sensitivity to our Jewish friends.  What Christians call “The Old Testament” is actually the writings of The First Covenant, i.e. God’s covenant with Israel—the descendants of Jacob aka Israel.  The Covenant through Jesus for Christians is truly a Second Covenant. The Jews call their books TANAKH and so we respect them by using this title rather than “Old Testament.”  Contemporary Christians affirm the validity of God’s Covenant with Israel grounded in Paul’s Letter to the Romans 11: 29 and in the Catholic Ecumenical Council known as Vatican II (1963-65) in the document NOSTRA AETATE (“In Our Time”) See

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html  In truth the people of Christian History have been disrespectful of Judaism and contributed to anti-Semitism and violence against the Jewish people.  Yet, Judaism constitutes the very foundation of Jesus and therefore Christianity.  In that way our ancestors neglected to observe the Fourth Commandment (Catholics) aka Fifth Commandment (Orthodox Christians and Protestants): Honor your Father and your Mother. 

Questions for Luke Live! Online! More on The Annunciation and New Material on The Visitation Luke 1: 39-56

BY Paulist Father James DiLuzio to accompany Luke Live! ONLINE

Commentary on Luke 1: 26 to 56   

The Annunciation and Visitation segments of Luke’s Gospel highlight a number of universal human experiences beyond the specifics of the Incarnation—God as the person of Jesus.  Foremost is the announcement of conception—that moment when women share the news that they have a child to bring into the world.  Echoing many wonderful moments in the Jewish scriptures TANAKH[1] (which Christians call the “First Testament”), this moment shared between Mary and Elizabeth known as “The Visitation,” engages listeners in a timeless celebration of life and hope. At the same time, it acknowledges human vulnerability.  For amidst the joy there is also trepidation as Elizabeth is pregnant in old age and Mary is pregnant out of wedlock.   Because Elizabeth is so advanced in years, she has to “go into seclusion” to care for and nurture her baby in utero.  That little phrase “go into seclusion” is a powerful reminder that even though God may answer our prayers, we must do our part to honor the blessings we receive.  Mary, too, will have to take responsibility for the gift of a child because of her youth and unwed status.  Indeed, both women would have been subject to public scrutiny, judgments and condemnations just as goodness, beauty, even life itself often become objects of ridicule and derision for those rooted in resentments or caught in webs of despair, chains of anxiety, fear or suffering.

Another spiritual message: God enters into human history.  These Gospel events and many like them affirm that human life has a purpose beyond mere survival.  God enters into history by endowing each and every individual with the gift of free will: the awesome capability to discern good and to choose good over evil, life over death. The stories of Jesus and his disciples, beginning with Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah—and all stories like them—offer the blessed assurance that God is with us “from age to age,” accompanying us, supporting us on our earthly journey so that we may cooperate with grace, to choose every possible manifestation of life and what is life-giving.   A secular parallel to these events and themes includes the many ways the stories of our ancestors (i.e., ancestors from our individual family trees and from our larger ethnic and national collectives) can inspire us toward the good in the here and now.  Indeed, history itself offers us innumerable opportunities to keep learning from the past—correcting its mistakes and fostering its virtues for the good of all.  Believers call this “Grace;” secularists might simply call it “the nobility inherent in every man, woman and child.”

[1] TANKAH is an acronym of the first Hebrew letters for each sections of the Jewish Bible: Torah (“Teaching”, also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (“Prophets”) and Ketuvim (“Writings”)—hence TaNaKh. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanakh   It comprises the same writings in most of what Christians call “The Old Testament.”  Use of TANKAH is more multi-faith sensitive than “Old Testament” as is “First Covenant” and “First Testament.”

HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:

A. Explore the myriad of thoughts and feelings women in your group (or YOU as WOMAN,  or women in your family) may have experienced when You or They first knew or learned they have conceived? Invite them to relate these to the thoughts and feelings Mary and Elizabeth expressed in the Gospel.

B.  Ask women and men who have not had children, their emotional responses to other people’s pregnancies, particularly those of their siblings or close friends or the conceptions of a favored niece, nephew or Godchild.

C. Refer to birth announcements in the Jewish Bible called TANAKH[1] and in the Koran and other faith traditions as well.  Now ask yourself, “How do these add to your discussion of your experiences of pregnancy and sharing the “Good News?” You may wish to follow these links:

The Annunciation to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18: 1-15

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2018&version=NABRE     AND LATER IN Genesis 21: 1-8

The Annunciation to Hannah that she will bring the prophet Samuel into the world:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Samuel%201&version=NABRE

And Hannah’s Prayer of Thanksgiving

For your convenience, I’ve inserted a selection of texts from THE KORAN.  The website source appears after the text. from KORAN

 SAHIH INTERNATIONAL TRANSLATION

KORAN

3:44  That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muhammad]. And you were not with them when they cast their pens as to which of them should be responsible for Mary. Nor were you with them when they disputed. 3: 45  [And mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah ]. 3:46: He will speak to the people in the cradle and in maturity and will be of the righteous.” 3:47-48 She said, “My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?” [The angel] said, “Such is Allah ; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.  And He will teach him writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel.

19: 18 – 35 She said, “Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah .” He said, “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy.”

She said, “How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?” He said, “Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter [already] decreed.’ ”  So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.”

But he called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream.  And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates.  So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, ‘Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.’ “

Then she brought him to her people, carrying him. They said, “O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented.  O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste.”

So she pointed to him. They said, “How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?”

[Jesus] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of Allah . He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet.  And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive.  And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.”  That is Jesus, the son of Mary – the word of truth about which they are in dispute.  It is not [befitting] for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is.

What the KORAN teaches about MARY

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2015/12/18/what-islam-really-teaches-about-virgin-mary

IF YOU WISH TO EXPLORE MORE OF THE KORAN ON YOUR OWN, GO TO:   https://quran.com/      (Choose ENGLISH  translation on top right of the web page)

D. Can you embrace the concept that whenever two people share the news of a pregnancy with joy (or GOOD NEWS of any kind), they are caught up in the same spiritual and emotional realities of the Annunciation and Visitation and other faith events?   Why or why not?

E. Have you ever made a conscious connection with your own experiences and the biblical ones?  If you have, what has that experience been like?  In doing so now enliven your faith?  If you are a secularist, how might these and other birth stories affirm your own humanity?

F. Explore sharing “Good News” of any kind with significant people in your life.  Include such “Annunciation and Visitation Moments” as opening your first college acceptance letter, or Marriage Proposal, Engagement Announcement, job promotions or the beginning of any new enterprise.  I am sure you will discover a lot of common ground here as the parallels are endless.

G. Now here’s my rationale for these questions:  Moments of “GOOD NEWS” have a universal, mystical quality about them as if we are “suspended outside of time and place.” When, as people of faith, we allow ourselves to be caught up in these moments, we believe we are experiencing God.  This is one of our many opportunities to see Scriptures as our autobiographies.  For those more skeptical about owning moments as “experiences of God,” how might you describe these kind of events and experiences of sharing “Good News?”

[1] I want to emphasize the Hebrew word TANAKH in sensitivity to our Jewish friends.  What Christians call “The Old Testament” is actually the writings of The First Covenant, i.e. God’s covenant with Israel—the descendants of Jacob aka Israel.  The Covenant through Jesus for Christians is truly a Second Covenant. The Jews call their books TANAKH and so we respect them by using this title rather than “Old Testament.”  Contemporary Christians affirm the validity of God’s Covenant with Israel grounded in Paul’s Letter to the Romans 11: 29 and in the Catholic Ecumenical Council known as Vatican II (1963-65) in the document NOSTRA AETATE (“In Our Time”) See http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html  n truth the people of Christian History have been disrespectful of Judaism and contributed to anti-Semitism and violence against the Jewish people.  Yet, Judaism constitutes the very foundation of Jesus and therefore Christianity.  In that way our ancestors neglected to observe the Fourth Commandment (Catholics) aka Fifth Commandment (Orthodox Christians and Protestants): Honor your Father and your Mother.

MEDITATION on the ANNUNCIATION

Prepared for YOU by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP

Let’s focus more on the ANGEL experience and the topic of Miracles. Whether or not you are open to believe in angels, many people have what they call a NUMINOUS experience or an experience of sublime, positive energy that is akin to what is depicted here in what the Christian tradition calls, “The Annunciation,” the great announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary.  However you choose to identify the situation, whether you understand it as a divine intervention or simply a personal, deep inspiration or premonition of what God is capable of, a powerful CHAIN REACTION occurs—an overflow of hope and all of its possibilities.  

For Christians, being designated as “full of grace,” or “full of God’s favor” provides the necessary condition for humanity to be open to the miraculous—that is in this part of the Gospel to angels, to their inspiration and to what God may achieve.  In evidence here is the biblical truth that God loves us First, that God’s love initiates all things.  In this case, Mary’s assent is a response to God’s love that inaugurates the miracle of a virgin conceiving a child without a human male’s contribution. In religious language we call this miracle “INCARNATION”—God becoming fully human in order to identify with the human condition in all of its fullness beginning in and with the fertilized ovum or embryo attaching to a virgin’s womb. Believing in that, of course, is a matter of faith, both faith in miracles and faith in the claims of Christianity.  

Some say that one is either open to the mystery of the miraculous, the suspension of the laws of physics, biology, natural phenomena, or one is not.  At the same time, some miracles can be explained scientifically without in any way detracting from a belief that God is acting in the world.  Still, some phenomena such as Messiah’s conception in Mary’s womb cannot be explained scientifically at all.   

Here are some questions for discussion:

QUESTION 1: To what degree do you feel compelled to insist on explanations for all events of your life or world history? What motivates you to take a leap of faith?  What are your personal obstacles to faith?

QUESTION 2: Does a scientific explanation for an event dismiss the possibility of God’s intervention in history or participation in it?  Similarly, can the “miracles” of modern science –the ability to engage in organ transplants, cure diseases – be also understood as God’s spirit at work in the world?  Are they any less “miraculous,” in being explained in medical terms? 

QUESTION 3Can you agree that “mystery” is a common human experience whether one follows or does not follow a religion? 

QUESTION 4: Discuss the benefits and burdens of each worldview, i.e.

a. belief in miracles

b. the power of God or of “goodness” working through people

c. trust in mystery 

d. rejection of all of the above concepts

QUESTION 5: Whether or not you find yourself open to the miraculous or unexplainable phenomenon, what do you think is the meaning and purpose of Mary’s virgin conception of Jesus?  

QUESTION 6: Christians uphold a belief in the Incarnation — God becoming human in, through and as Jesus of Nazareth, but one doesn’t have to be Christian to explore this aspect of our faith, that is, that “God shares in all dynamics of the human condition.”  To what extent to those upholding other religions and spiritualities uphold or explore that statement? Discuss how or how not “God or “Your Higher Power” or “The Cosmos” share in all dynamics of the human condition.”  In secular terms: “we all participate in something greater than ourselves, be it beauty, truth, hope, justice, mercy, compassion, love beyond all telling.” 

FATIMA, The Movie – My Review opens August 28 in theaters and on digital platforms

By Paulist Father James DiLuzio CSP

Wherever you are on the Spiritual Spectrum, in whatever way you evaluate the experiences of visionaries, especially those who attest to visitations from, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the new film FATIMA invites you to a valuable conversation about faith, mystery and the efficacy of prayer.  Catholic and Orthodox Christians will find the film prayerful. Protestants and people of other faiths will be invited to explore ways they understand prayer, define their concepts of heaven, hell, and Divine Mercy. It raises important questions as to the realities of eternal life, the connection between heaven and earth on a day-to-day basis and the very nature of faith.  People with agnostic sensibilities, or, who are confirmed atheists, might treat this meditative film as something akin to the challenges of practicing yoga as the picture highlights the conflicts within human hearts and social structures that challenge ongoing inner peace.

Beautifully photographed and scored, FATIMA is contemplative; it is not hagiography.  It does not reek of piety or rapturous emotion, but it is thoughtful, and, at times, profound. Nevertheless, conflict and drama are evidenced within the Church and in issues of Church and State. All depicted skillfully by director Marco Pontecorvo. Plus, there are well-executed special effects, especially the well documented 1917 “Miracle of the Sun.” FATIMA is also well-acted. Two world renowned actors are featured in small but significant parts: Harvey Keitel as the skeptic professor who interviews Lucia, one of the visionaries in her senior years, and Sonia Braga, international Brazilian star as the elder Sister Lucia.  The film, however, belongs to the three children – Stephanie Gil as ten-year-old Lucia dos Santos, Alejandra Howard as Jacinta Marto, seven, and Jorge Lamelas as her brother, Francisco Marto, nine.  Miss Gil is often center stage, while Miss Howard is especially endearing. Lucia’s skeptic mother, Maria Rosa, played by Lúcia Moniz, is quite excellent, too, as is Lucia’s more sympathetic but conflicted father, Antonio, played by Marco D’Almeida. There is a moment in the film between father and daughter that continues to linger in my mind supporting an image of a better, more caring, sensitive world.

 Although there are a few examples of dramatic license in FATIMA, the film offers authentic storytelling with an almost documentary-like detachment.  Do not let this deter you from engaging in this movie!  It offers numerous opportunities for the faithful and the secular to converse, share feelings and insights. Those interested in Christian-Muslim dialogue will find FATIMA a fine springboard for discourse.  The people of Islam have a strong devotion to Mary, the Blessed Virgin, because of her surrender to God’s will for her. (“Islam” means “surrender.”)  Neighborhood Churches and Mosques would do well to offer ZOOM, SKYPE, or MESSENGER meetings in small groups after watching the film on one of its many digital platforms beginning August 28th.

Note to Young Families: The three children’s visitation from the Blessed Virgin Mary from heaven is contextualized in the world of Portugal in 1916-17.  Various acts of pieties such as strict fasting and willful acts of self-suffering and biblical concepts of an “Angry God” were common.   

More Information at https://www.fatimathemoviel.com

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2197936/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 Father James DiLuzio CSP provides missions and retreats throughout the USA.  See www.LukeLive.com  Through this pandemic, he offers a YouTube series YOUNG AT HEART and Reflections on Luke’s Gospel entitled Luke Live! Both of these are available at  https://www.youtube.com/JamesDiLuzio

Homily for 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Fr. James DiLuzio

WISDOM comes with humility — a HOMILY  17th Sunday Fr. James DiLuzio

I watched a film this week that offered a scathing indictment of the American experience. Its plot and its characters make a good case that our nation was founded on violence, ravishment, prejudice, and greed. It reminded me of how these forces remain operative today, permeating the national psyche and our daily lives. 

I also watched a news program about the military interventions in Portland, Oregon these past weeks and the commentator said, “neve have we seen military force use tear gas against American citizens.”  I gasped.  Was he too young to know of the tear gas and violence police and military used against African Americans in Selma and on college campuses in the 1960’s? 

Of course, none of these examples represent the entire story of America, nor do they acknowledge the virtues evident in so many of her citizens.  On the positive side, everyone should know that the US military escorted nine African American students into Central High School in Little Rock AK in 1957 to keep them safe from white natives’ protests. Still, why did this have to happen if not that for somewhere deep in the national psyche hatred, prejudice, inducement to violence and economic oppression lingered still?  

These remain the questions of our times, the context of our lives today in the US of A and they must give us pause. “Why,” you ask?  Because the issues raised by BLACK LIVES MATTER and #ME TOO and the sexual abuse scandals and power plays in the Church, in our government and all realms of power demand it.  And because that is what our parables today invite us to ponder.

Why sell everything one has for a treasure buried in a field, if not to clear one’s life of all that is wrong, sinful, superficial of little or no value and start again, begin anew with treasure that is of immense importance?

Why sell all one’s jewelry business to obtain a pearl beyond price if not to rethink how one lives one’s life better, to nurture and polish what is good and abandon what is wrong?

In 1964 Bob Dylan wrote a song called THE TIMES ARE A-CHANGING but it is very clear that the times have not changed enough, for what goes around, comes around again and again until we finally strike at the roots of evil.

This should come as no surprise to people of faith. From the Fall, to the stiff-necked people who were our biblical ancestors, to the apostles who fled from Jesus in his time of crises, we humans have often sought retreat than the hard work of change. 

And yet throughout our God burned with zeal for our souls, sent the Holy Spirits’ Refining Fire prophesized by Malachi in the 5th century before Jesus, renewed by John the Baptist and fulfilled in Jesus’ Beatitudes–simple extensions of the 2 Great Commandments that we have yet to follow fully. Ultimately, he sent the fire of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to move the Commandments and the Beatitudes forward.

Jesus perpetuates this refiner’s fire, this Pentecost fire, in all the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. For the Eucharist continues to keep purging us of temptations to the evil of the world—an evil that often rationalizes all the great sins of prejudice, greed, and violence as the bottom line when push comes to shove.

In the heat of this summer, this awful pandemic , when we are prone to thinking ‘every man, woman and child for himself / herself,” and encountering all that is wrong with our society, our economy, our history and are very selves—of course, we can get weary of al the criticism.  But we must not!  We do so at our own peril, at the risk of abandoning the Kingdom that Jesus inaugurated.

Today, as every day, we the faithful must resolve to be led by Jesus to engage in prayer and in acts of kindness and compassion. Indeed, I see you before me and I gain confidence, that, YES, we are here to allow the Fire of the Spirit to refine us in faith, hope, and love. Jesus is with us, so we need not ever default to the status quo, but instead throw off our defensiveness to embrace the One Savior who is meek and humble of heart but also strong and courageous to right the wrongs of today. This Eucharist will rekindle the fire of faith in us to accompany Jesus in his quest for true liberty and justice for all. Believe!

Here are the Scripture Reading for Today:

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 109                                

Reading 1    1 KGS 3:5, 7-12

The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.
God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
Solomon answered:
“O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king
to succeed my father David;
but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.
I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen,
a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.
Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart
to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.
For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”

The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request.
So God said to him:
“Because you have asked for this—
not for a long life for yourself,
nor for riches,
nor for the life of your enemies,
but for understanding so that you may know what is right—
I do as you requested.
I give you a heart so wise and understanding
that there has never been anyone like you up to now,
and after you there will come no one to equal you.”

Responsorial Psalm

PS 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130

R. (97a) Lord, I love your commands.
I have said, O LORD, that my part
is to keep your words.
The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
Let your kindness comfort me
according to your promise to your servants.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
For I love your command
more than gold, however fine.
For in all your precepts I go forward;
every false way I hate.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
Wonderful are your decrees;
therefore I observe them.
The revelation of your words sheds light,
giving understanding to the simple.
R. Lord, I love your commands.

Reading 2    ROM 8:28-30

Brothers and sisters:
We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers and sisters.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.

Alleluia CF. MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
for you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 13:44-52 OR 13:44-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.”
And he replied,
“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

Homily: Listen, Love, Act!

Readings: Hosea 8 HOS 8:4-7, 11-1 ; PSALM115:3-4, 5-6, 7AB-8,-10 ; Gospel: Matthew MT 9:32-3

In the Gospel Jesus drives out a demon who has made a man mute.  We don’t know how the man had become possessed.  We don’t know if he participated in evil or cultivated it. Jesus doesn’t berate him for any of those things. We must then, presume the man’s innocence. He’s was a victim of a demons–Demons who represents all the things that are not of God—fear, hatred, abandonment, neglect. 

Jesus lived his life on earth always in the present moment, attentive to God and the people at hand. Of course, he drives out the demon—no questions asked because he is establishing a Kingdom of the Now and of the Future.  In brief, something was wrong, someone was suffering. Jesus addressed it. 

Our times are a ‘changing.  The wrongs and the sufferings of the African American community are more evident than they have been for decades (although the injustices go back much farther).   Happily, there are signs of true Christianity emerging; Signs that resonate with Jesus’ Death and Resurrection. Americans who are labeled “white” – me included–are starting to pay attention; listening and learning in ways most of our Baby Boomer generation and subsequent generations have not.  This is grace in action. The Kingdom of God comes when we open our minds to Jesus who insisted on the Cross that no one who suffers suffer in silence, no victim remains mute.  Why else would he have spoken Seven Last Sentences to us from the Cross? 

As disciples we pledge to listen to Jesus and so we must pledge to hold back any defensiveness, refrain from excuses and listen, listen to the African American Experience, just as we have been listening to the women of the ME-TOO EXPERIENCE. Both are in our midst but the life and death reality is certainly greatest in the Black community right now. 

Matthew literally writes of Jesus’ “Pity for the crowds.” When we get angry and upset, don’t we want people to “have pity on us?”  Don’t we?  We want to be heard and understood, don’t we? We get angry all the time in our homes, in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods.  And what do we expect?  We want a listening ear, an opened heart, someone with patience, willing to understand? 

Who hasn’t experiences in his or her own home, angry voices even physical anger evidenced by holes in our walls –fist-punched plaster; plates crashed upon the floor?  We all know this just doesn’t happen in the movies.  And haven’t we learned by now that when we focused on the broken materials we never got to the cause of the anger, never got to the root of the dysfunctions displayed? If we cooperated with grace, we learned that only by Listening and/or seeking outside help –objective listeners, concerned, caring listeners—would we / could we prove we loved one another –assuring that mother/ brother/ father/ sister/ didn’t suffer in silence.  No one should.

If we have these expectations within our families and recognize the sources of our own angers come from being neglected, disrespected, put-upon, oppressed—then we must offer what we expect, what we need from our family to others: Listening hearts, open minds. 

We’ve been deaf to the sufferings of the Black communities for too long.  We sequestered ourselves, gated ourselves, segregated ourselves –how few of us have Black Americans among our families and friends, live in our neighborhoods? It’s time we listen and find out WHY and HOW this came to be?  There’s no one easy or single answer, which is we have to listen and, like Jesus, be part of the healing power that can foster the Kingdom of God.   As Catholic we need to ask, how can we expect Jesus to listen to our prayers when we negate or avoid the prayers of others?  Jesus calls us to an all-inclusive communion.  The time for communion is now. 

Playing with PETER PAN amidst Pandemic 2020* Fr. James DiLuzio CSP

* PLAYING PLAY DOCTOR (or Lyricist Doctor if you prefer)

*See Endnote

Back in 2014, I was anticipating NBC’s live presentation of the 1954 musical PETER PAN (December 4, 2014). The original cast with Mary Martin as well as the original story of PETER PAN by James M. Barrie was a childhoot favorite. Valuing my childhood memories, I reviewed and researched the score.  I found that the original composers of the musical, Mark Charlap and Carolyn Leigh, wrote a beautiful song for Peter Pan in Act 2 when he, Wendy and the boys are in their underground sanctuary. Entitled “When I Went Home” it tells of Peter’s one and only attempt to return to his home in London. That song was replaced in previews with a song by Jules Styne/Comden/Green “Distant Melody” – a response to Wendy’s request for Peter to sing a lullaby. 

Unlike “Distant Melody” (lovely in its own right), “When I Went Home” provides a significant insight into Peter’s ongoing rebellion toward home, family and growing up.  Although the melody to “When I Went Home” is strikingly haunting, I sensed the lyrics (featured below) a bit awkward, although consistently poignant. You may listen to a rendition of the song sung by Allison Williams on the NBC broadcast:

Here are the original lyrics so you may follow along with Ms. Williams’ performance:

WHEN I WENT HOME Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh Music by Mark Charlap

Lovely, right?  Still, I found a more haunting, instrumental version of the song onthe DELOS compact disc entitled AN AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE (Songs from various Peter Pan productions).  Track 12 features a stunning new arrangement by Donald Fraser.  I think Fraser’s choice of key signature (A flat) is far more affecting than the key of A –the song’s original setting.

Now for some fun:

When I heard Donald Fraser’s arrangement, I thought to myself: “This is perfect!” so, I composed a revised lyric based on some of the subtle changes Fraser made in the melodic line.  If you can get hold of the Delos CD then my lyric changes will make even more sense.

Here is my “Revised” version (Without permissions I may add!): Footnotes explain my choices.

WHEN I WENT HOME

Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and Music by Mark Charlap

New and Additional Lyrics by James M. DiLuzio

INTRO (These words set to the Instrumental Intro that was not featured in the song): 

  • PETER: I shall tell you about what happened when I flew back to the house in London —
  • When I went home,
  • I thought that certainly
  • The nursery window would – for sure![1] – be opened wide for me[2]
  • And there would always be A welcome light[3] 
  • When I went home
  • I counted so upon
  • A mother waiting up to question me just me where I’d gone.
  • And we’d talk on and on –
  • I’d be all right.[4]
  • You see, when I went home,
  • I found that, sad to say, 
  • You must expect to be forgotten once you’ve run away[6]
  • And so I couldn’t stay 
  • That lonely night
  • When I went home.[7]
  • REPEATS
  • When I went home I counted so upon 
  • Somebody waiting up to ask me questions on and on 
  • To ask me where I’d gone– 
  • Was I all right? 
  • But the window was barred, and the door was barred And I felt such an awful dread 
  • And – for sure – there he was! That other boy 
  • Was sleeping in my bed! 
  • Oh yes, (you see), when I went home, I found that, sad to say, 
  • You must expect to be forgotten once you’ve gone away, 
  • And so I couldn’t stay 
  • That awful night When I went home. 
  • I was forgotten. 
  • When I went home.

Now, if this song were to reappear in the play, where would I place it?  I am thinking of two possibilities:

  1. Directly after “Distant Melody” in Act Two. The two ballads back-to-back would present a distinctive contrast. “Distant Melody” fills the scene with nostalgia for one of Peter’s actual infant experiences; “When I Went Home,” builds on that by providing an experience of an older (but not ‘Old”) Peter impacted by the consequences of his desertion.
  2. In the penultimate point of Act Two as a poignant “11 o’clock” number (i.e. the second to last song of the musical).  This would become a newly-created scene in which, after Wendy, her brothers and the Lost Boys have returned to the Darling’s home for good (but before we return to the Darling’s home / the final scene) we find Peter alone with Tinker Bell in Never Land filled with anger and disappointment, he sings “When I Went Home” to Tinker Bell, after which, she surrounds him with her light to comfort him.  Then the story picks up in the closing joyful scene in Mr. and Mrs. Darling welcome home their children and adopt the Lost Boys.  Of course, we would still have the Epilogue in which Peter returns to find Wendy grown-up and whisks her daughter, Jane, away to Never Land.  

Any thoughts? 

NOTE: I have a secret vocation of wanting to be a “Play Doctor” (i.e. one who alters texts, dialogue, song lyrics in a play to improve it).  I have enjoyed tinkering with a song that was dropped from the 1954 musical PETER PAN.  If you would like to see how and why I changed the original lyric and where I would place the song back into the show, see my latest blog. 

[1] “For sure!” is phrase Peter repeats throughout the play’s dialogue.

[2]  The original melody ascends here on “wide” to a “C” then “B flat” on “for me” (if in the same key as the instrumental).  Fraser, however, lowers the note on “wide” to a “A” then “G.”  I think his using descending notes is more appropriate as it anticipates Peter’s ultimate disappointment.

[3] The instrumental version lowers the note for “light” an octave.  I think that is preferable for the same reason noted above.

[4] Mr. Fraser departed from the original melody line here. Instead, he substituted a measure of lower notes to anticipate the bridge; therefore, I would suggest this lyric: “But that was not what happened.”  This line may be spoken instead of sung.

[5] Peter always flies to windows first.  By going to the door after trying the window, he would reveal his desperation. Thus, I reversed the order of the original lyric.

[6] Peter ran away from home.

[7] Fraser’s instrumental repeats the final line “When I went Home,” thus the additional phrase “That lonely night” and the repeat of “When I went home.”