Pastor's Newsletter

The most recent Newsletters and Commentary from Father Harris

April 24, 2018 Mass Commentary

Above left is an image of Henry Williams Baker, the composer of the Hymn: "The King of Love, My Shepherd Is" which is #635 in our "Gather" Hymnbook.

Here is a better rendition of it

I think he looks kind of like Fr. David Kipfer (above right) from St. Columba's in Ottawa. But that just might be me. Henry W. Baker wrote several English Hymns, but this one in particular is coming to mind in light of today's gospel.

Here is a list of all his hymns

He is associated with the famous Hymnal "Hymns Ancient and Modern"

Here is the controversial Marian Hymn I was telling you about

Here are a few of the other famous hymns that he composed:

Angels We Have Heard On High

Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven

O Praise Ye The Lord

Supposedly, his dying words were the third verse of this hymn: "Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed, But yet in love He sought me," In this recording, I also quote a joke about a shepherd and a consultant that Deacon Aaron Hoste (bottom left) told me. Here is my April 24th homily:

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

April 23, 2018 Mass Commentary

To the left is an image of a patch that the National Catholic Committee on Scouting offers to Catholic Boys and Girls that our associated with the Scouting Movement. Today's saint-St. George is the patron saint of Boy Scouts. Above are drawings that were done by Baden-Powell who was the founder of Boy Scouts.

Baden-Powell made St. George the patron saint of Scouting

Being I'm the Catholic Chaplain for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for the Diocese of Peoria, St. George was one of the topics I covered in today's homily:

Shepherd Me Oh God!

To the left is an image of Marty Haugen. He composed a musical setting to Psalm 23 that we used quite often at Funeral Masses:

Shepherd Me Oh God!

He actually comes from a Lutheran background, but many Catholic Churches use his music.

80% of his work is for the Catholic Church

This is what GIA Publications says about him.

April 22, 2018 Mass Commentary

As you can see, the Easter Bunny and me used to hang out. Good times while they lasted. But now the Easter Bunny is gone. So typical of bunnies: they come; they go; and afterwards they leave you the bunny droppings to clean up. But here is the good news I want to proclaim to you this morning; the Good Shepherd is still with us, even though The Bunny has abandoned us. Here is my homily on the topic:

There goes Peter Cottontail

Here are all the songs that I reference:

Psalm 23 Funeral Response (Owen Alstott Version)

I also like this version of Psalm 23

Jesus Love Me This I Know

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

April 21, 2018 Mass Commentary

This is a depiction of the Blessed Virgin Mary consoling St. Peter on Holy Saturday morning. Presumably, Peter went out to the tomb to console Mary, but notice it is Peter who is weeping and in need of consolation. Like many mothers, in her time of grief, Mary ends up doing the consoling rather than being consoled.

She saw with the eyes of faith more really and truly than others with the eyes of the flesh. "

In light of today's gospel reading, but also in light of the fact that today is Saturday- a day in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary- I am reminded of a song: "Hail Mary, Gentle Woman."

Here is a better rendition of it

I fit all of this together in this recording of my homily:

Gentle Woman, Quiet Light

"Hail Mary, Gentle Woman" was written by a guy named Carey Landry back in 1975. Above left is an album cover with an image of Carey Landry on it from way back when. To the right is a current photo of him.

This is what Oregon Catholic Press has to say about him.

April 20, 2018 Mass Commentary

This morning we covered the climax of the Bread of Life Discourse- which is John 6:52-59. We have been covering the Bread of Life Discourse all week, but we have now come to the point where Jesus says something that would have seemed completely absurd to his Jewish listeners, but makes complete sense to us who have a Catholic understanding of the most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. I have covered this in many homilies and presentations, but here are some of my presentations on the topic:

Here is today's homily

The Eucharist, Part "A"

The Eucharist, Part "B"

The Mass, Part "A"

The Mass, Part "B"

This is a photo of Fr. Irvin Udulutsch, O.F.M. Cap. He wrote the song "O Sacrament Most Holy" and many other songs that we use today.

He was a liturgical pioneer

Here is a better rendition of "O Sacrament Most Holy"

Several Hymns are attributed to Fr. Irvin

Here is one you would recognize:

O God Almighty Father

April 19, 2018 Mass Commentary

As we continue with our week long presentation on the Bread of Life Discourse, which is found in John 6, which is John’s theological reflection on the Blessed Sacrament; with this particular section that we have today; I am reminded of the first verse of a hymn that we do here at St. John’s on Holy Thursday Night. It’s called “Pange Lingua”, which roughly means “Sing Me Tongue.” It’s #407 in the Gather Book.

Here is my homily on the topic

Maybe you are more familiar with this melody

Here is the Latin with English subtitles

The Journey Song Version

This is what Wikipedia has to say about it

Top Ten Catholic Hymns

The Seven Great Hymns of the Medieval Church

Above is a photo of Pope Benedict XVI carrying the Blessed Sacrament as part of the procession to the Altar of Repose on Holy Thursday Night, which occurred at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Here is how they do it in Manila

This is how they do it in Albany

This is how they do it in Canada

April 18, 2018 Mass Commentary

In terms of the daily readings of Mass, we continue with our week long presentation of John 6, the Bread of Life Discourse, which is John's theological reflection on the Eucharist. For whatever reason, I am reminded of a song that is in our parish's hymnbook: #383 in the "Gather" Book; the song is entitled "Eat this Bread".

Here is a better rendition of the song

The song is from the Taize' Community, an ecumenical monastic group of men based out of France.

Taize has a Website

Above are two photos of Brother Roger Schutz, the founder of Taize'. To hear the rest of the story, and how I connect it with today's section of the Bread of Life Discourse, you will have to listen to this recording:

Eat This Bread

It was Brother Roger's quest to bring about Christian unity. Sadly, because of the tragic divisions that continue to exist between Christian denominations that we Catholics can not offer an open invitation for everyone to come up for communion. It should give us cause to pray earnestly for Christian unity, that one day we would be one, especially when it comes to our understanding of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, so that we as a Church can truly reflect the unity that exists within the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

U.S. Bishop's Guidelines on Reception of Holy Communion

Why Non-Catholics are not given an open invitation to receive Holy Communion

There can be exceptions to the rule

People will ignore rules

In the Diocese of Peoria, as part of our diocesan statutes promulgated by our bishop, for those who are not able to received communion for whatever reason, they are invited to come up in the communion line, and instead of receiving communion they can receive a blessing. This is not a universal practice in the Catholic Church. In one diocese they allow; in the diocese next door, they don't. There is a bit of controversy over this practice. I seem to remember that it originated with an incident where Pope John Paul II - during communion at a Papal Mass- gave a blessing to a Lutheran Minister who represented the World Federation of Lutheran Churches. However, I can't find anything online to back up that vague memory. But I did find this:

Here is what EWTN says about it

There are those who consider it a grave liturgical abuse

This is what Msgr. Charles Pope said about it

April 17, 2018 Mass Commentary

To the above left is a photo of Sr. Suzanne Toolan of the Sisters of Mercy from "back in the day". Above center is a photo of what she looks like now. Supposedly, she turned 90 years old last October, and she is still teaching liturgy in California. To the above right is a photo of Robert Shaw who was a big name choir conductor "back in the day". Sr. Suzanne studied under Robert Shaw, along with many other things, which makes her credentials quite impressive. She wrote a song that we use all the time at funerals.

Here is a better rendition of the song "I Am The Bread of Life" by Sr. Suzanne

It almost ended up in the trash bin.

There is a hoax about a rejected verse of the song

She wrote a book about it.

In this homily, I explain how this song fits with today's section of the Bread of Life Discourse (John 6:30-35) and how it demands a response of faith from us:

I Will Raise You Up

April 16, 2018 Mass Commentary

To the left are a couple of photos of Josh Groban, a singer that is making classical music popular again. I'm sure his youthfulness and good looks are helping him do so. One of the songs that he performs is "Panis Angelicus" which is based on a song written by St. Thomas Aquinas."Panis Angelicus" means "Bread of the Angels" which is a hymn in honor of the Eucharist. It started out as a verse in this much longer song. Right now, in terms of our daily mass readings, we are covering John 6, which is the "Bread of Life" Discourse. To hear how I bring all this together, you will have to listen to this recording of my homily:

Bread of the Angels

I was rather surprised that there were a few people who came to daily Mass today that had never heard of this song. As a musician, I find that rather surprising. As you can see many artists have performed it. Many composers have come up with their own versions of "Panis Angelicus" but the one that is the most popular- as evidenced by the fact that the above artists chose this version of it, was the version composed by Cesar Franck. His photo is to the left. But his version is not the only version of it:

This is a modern version of it

This is called "Bread of the Angels"

This is the original Gregorian Chant Version of it

April 15, 2018 Mass Commentary

Being our Annual Diocesan Appeal Weekend, but also in light of our first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles, I am reminded of a song that we use quite often at St. John's. It's named "We Are Called" composed by David Haas, and was released in 2001. This song, which is #718 in the "Gather" Hymnbook is the starting point of my homily this Sunday:

Come! Live In The Light!

Above left is a photo of David Haas from way back when. Above right is a more current photo of the 61 year old David Haas.

This is what Wikipedia says about David Haas

GIA claims he was nominated for a Grammy

Here is a better rendition of the Song

April 14, 2018 Mass Commentary

For those of you who are true fans of Classical Music- and not fans of 1980's Techno Pop Music that produced such hits as "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco...

which was a big music video back in 1985....

which- I think- was inspired by the movie Amadeus which came out in 1984, the year I graduated from high school...

Here is the trailer

Wolgang Amadeus Mozart didn't live all that long, but he did produce a great many musical works. Today, in particular, I am reminded of Mozart's "Ave Verum". At the time, It was a modern new setting for an old Latin hymn Ave Verum Corpus which was used for the Feast of Corpus Christi. Mozart was not the only one to come up with a new version of this old hymn, but his version is still the most popular.

There is Sir Edward Edgar's "Ave Verum" the same guy who composed Pomp and Circumstance which they use for graduations. His photo is bottom left.

There is the Franz Liszt Version His photo is bottom center. You will notice that he is dressed like a priest. He always wanted to be a priest, but he never followed through completely. Celibacy and chastity were the issues that held him back, like many young men would say today.

The Willam Byrd Version His image is bottom right.

And there is the Francis Poulenc version. You see a photo of him to the left. It was taken in 1922. Francis Poulenc was a French composer more famous for his opera Dialogues of the Carmelites. Here is the Salve Regina from the final act.

While there might be many people who are inspired by Mozart’s "Ave Verum", they may not be aware of the beauty of the meaning behind the Latin Words. In this homily, I go over the English translation of this hymn, which I find especially appropriate today, as we gathered on Saturday, a day in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to continue with the Bread of Life Discourse, as a few of us gathered this particular Saturday Morning at St. Mary's to praise God for the gift of human life:

Rock Me Amadeus

April 13, 2018 Mass Commentary

Here are a couple of photos from the 2014 First Communion Mass. How reverent these children act when they receive Our Eucharistic Lord for the very first time. Today, in terms of the daily readings of Mass, we begin a week long treatment of the Bread of Life Discourse, which is found in John 6. This is John's theological treatise on the Eucharist. As we begin this discourse, in my homily I covered the song "Look Beyond" which is a song we do quite often here at St. John's:

Look Beyond the Bread You Eat

Here is a better rendition of the song

It was originally sang by "The Dameans"

who were seminarians out of Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.

Below you see their 1969 album cover, and how they looked back then. Well, things have certainly changed.

April 12, 2018 Mass Commentary

This is a photo of Al Barbarino. We had him here at St. John's for one of our "40 Hours of Divine Mercy" a couple of years ago.

Getting to Know Al Barbarino

The Entire Mission of Mercy Playlist

He is known for his great singing, but also his great hair. I make just a passing reference of this in today's homily:

How Can I Keep From Singing?

I'm working on a new series of song related homilies, which is not a new thing for me. I searched my old recordings, and I found that I had at least 80 song related homilies along with other song recordings:

"Songs We Sing" Homillies

Today I was inspired by the song "How Can I Keep From Singing?" It was written by Robert Lawry. There are several versions of this song:

Marty Haugen

Audrey Assad

Pete Seeger

Chris Tomlin

Celtic Woman


I was primarily inspired by the first reading from today's Mass. My primary source was the April 12th Daily Bread Radio Program:

Arch Obedience

I am also pleased to announce that Internationally known Irish tenor Mark Forrest will be coming to our parish for an hour of Eucharistic Adoration on May 15th:

Come Walk With Me

This is a photo of Mark with his wife Muriel. I don't know anything about them, but this guy claims he is fantastic:

Mark Forrest is Phenomenal

Here is Mark Forrest's website:

You can listen to bits of his music here.

I'm please to announce that Joan and Dave Moroney with Mother of Mercy Messengers are coming to be a part of our "40 Hours of Divine Mercy" in June:

Coming to St. John's June 19 -20

Here is their website

Here is a shorter video of introduction

Here is an EWTN Broadcast with them

They have presentations for kids

I am please to announce that Fr. Troy Richmond will be preaching at the 5:00 PM Saturday Mass on June 23rd, as part of our "40 Hours of Divine Mercy" Celebration.

Here is the full schedule of our "40 Hours of Divine Mercy"

Fr. Troy Richmond is the pastor of Saints Mary and Matthias Parishes in Muscatine Iowa. He is known for his charismatic healing masses that he conducts in the area.

Approaching Healing Masses with a Healthy Perspective

The Ministry of Healing

Formed is a new online faith formation resource, basically a Catholic "Netflix" with top-notch videos about the Catholic faith. Formed is FREE for all the parishioners of our cluster: St. John's; St. Mary's; Our Lady of Guadalupe in Silvis; and St. Anne of East Moline. Our parish has paid an annual subscription fee so that it is free for you to use. To sign up, simply go to the formed website and sign up with our parish code. If you need the parish code, just email me; I will send it to you. I would be glad to show you how you can access it. Just make an appointment with me.

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