"Frozen" hearts no more. . .


I would be lying if I said I was a Disney movie guy. When I was a kid, I do remember watching "Lady and the Tramp" and always loved the scene with the Siamese cats and the little goldfish. Since becoming a father, I have watched more Disney movies in the last five years than in my previous thirty five years on this Earth. From Aladdin to Planes and now Frozen. It is amazing what you will do for your girls.

Today was my daughter, Gianna's fifth birthday. Like most children in the U.S., she is obsessed with the movie Frozen. Unlike most parents in the world, I had not seen the movie. When Gianna went to see it in the theaters, mom was "lucky" enough to go with her. Tonight, she received Frozen on DVD from her grandma and Poppi and tonight, I got a chance to watch it with my two girls.

I am glad that I did.

November 1st, 2013 @ 20:49:50

 I really did like it.  From the music to the animation, it was pretty darn good. I always felt that these movies were made more for the adults than the kids. The themes and the characters, although appearing simple at first, are quite complex. There is always something much deeper to each of them: From Elsa's brokenness and closed heart, to Anna's desire to be wanted and loved, these are things that many of us can relate to in our own lives. The metaphor of the closed gate of the castle that kept the sisters in but also kept the world out are the same walls that many of us put up around us to bury whatever pain we may be hiding from everyone else.

"Conceal, don't feel. Don't let them know." --That line is very powerful to me. How many of us are hiding from something in our lives? How many of us each and every day put on a mask and PRAY that no one has any clue of the pain we are enduring?  It is no wonder why this movie was so popular. It is a story that rings true for many of us.  It is a struggle that many of us deal with in our own lives.

The movie also gave me time to personally reflect on a few things. The mere idea of "frozenness" made me think about the Lenten season.  It made me wonder where I was on my preparation for Easter. What was I running away from? What would I run to? I took a moment to think about my own sin. The sin (cold) that pushes so many away from me. The sin that separates me from the love of God and that love is the only love that will breathe life back to our hearts. A God that in the "greatest act of Love" turned the cold of death into everlasting life in his own resurrection. 

And in the end, it really comes down to one thing. Love.

Funny how that works. We seem to try and find the most complicated answers to questions. For the most part, we come back to love. We return to that in which life is given. We return to the love that sets us free. That same love that died on the cross so that sin would never have the last word. That LOVE is the promise that guarantees us that we would never be have to be Frozen but rather alive in the love of God.

Thank you Jesus for the love that has  pushed the cold away and set our hearts on fire for You.




Priest, Prophet, King.

Lately, I have been getting asked a lot about my new album. What will it sound like?  What are the inspirations behind it?  Will there be saxophone again? ( In  answer to the last question: there will not be saxophone again.:) ) 

As I prepared to write music for this new project though, Ite Missa Est, I wanted to work with other musicians who had a passion for the Liturgy. I wanted to work with people who understood the beauty of the Holy Mass and the need for music that would compliment it in every way possible. I am blessed to have worked on this project  with great artists like Casey McKinley, John Flaherty, Jenny Pixler and Trevor Thomson.  One thing holds true for all of these awesome musicians. They love our God and they all have a passion for the liturgy. 

As I sat down, I knew that I wanted the album to be a mass from top to bottom.  From gathering song to recessional with mass parts included.  I had no idea what was going to come from this prayer, I just knew that if was to be blessed, I had to turn it over to God.

As the songs came forth, I also recognized the blessings in each piece.  "Arise" was our call to wake up from our sleep and see the greatness of our God.  "Offering to You" is a statement of bringing everything to the altar, not just the bread and wine, but each and every one of us. "Wake Our Hearts" is my Eucharistic hymn from a Eucharistic people.  "Fall In Love" is inspired by the beautiful prayer by Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ..  It  is a song about falling in love with the One who made us, in an "absolute and final way".  As Hillsong United says in "Go... giving it all away, giving it all to go Your way".

The song that I had struggled with was the recessional.  I wanted something that reminded me of Steve Angrisano's "Go Make a Difference". That song still brings back great memories to me and really is an anthem to change the world.  As I struggled with a recessional, I recalled a reception I attended with Fr. Robert  Barron and then inspiration hit: It was the theme of Fr. Barron's latest series, staring me straight in the face.   "Priest, Prophet, King".  That was it! The call for us to go out to all the nations -- to bring the Good News just as the Book of Romans tell us all, be "not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ".

Needless to say, I am very excited about the upcoming album. I am grateful to God for giving me so many great people to be with me on this journey. I am grateful for you and I ask that you pray for me and my family as we continue to work to build the Kingdom of God.

The blind leading the blind

Technically, I am legally blind. I have an eye prescription that is 20/400 or something off the charts! In the morning when I wake up, I am in a rush to put my glasses on so that the blur I  see when I awake  comes clear as soon as possible. I have never really thought about it too much. There have been times where I thought I would get LASIX to fix my eyes, but it just never seemed that important. In the morning when I wake up, I rush to put my glasses  or contacts on so I can see throughout my day. Without them, I would not be able to see a thing!

This got me thinking about my faith. How clear is my vision for God? As I move day by day towards Easter, am I making sure I am focused on Jesus? 

It gets really easy to find the comfort in the norm. Giving up sodas or sweets in our Lenten sacrifice, but are we really sacrificing to get closer to our God? Is it clearing my vision so I can see the risen Christ?

For me, the sacraments have become my contact lenses, my glasses. In the haze and blur, reconciliation and eucharist make everything clear. Like I have said before and I will say many times, I continue to stumble, but the promise that is so much greater than me clears my vision and brings me to great joy. It brings me to Christ. It is the reason I write the music that I write and go around the country and speak. I know what the truth is and I want to share it! My hope is that I can help people see clearer.

Thank you Jesus for allowing the blind to see! Thank you Jesus for giving me the chance to open my eyes and see you goodness.

Thank you Jesus!



Is it baseball season yet?

My entire life, I really only played one sport and that was baseball. I loved it when I was a child and I still do to this day. I played my entire life and through high school. I was pretty good, but nothing too fantastic. I just really loved the game. There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh cut grass in the afternoon. The feeling of stepping into the batter's box and looking right into the eyes of a pitcher throwing a nasty slider. It is awesome!

As I have gotten older, my days of playing baseball are resigned to suiting up once a year at my high school alumni game. Every year it feels as if the pitcher has gotten closer to me when I hit and the bases have gotten further away when it is time to run. I am also reminded of my age by the amount of ibuprofen I take the following day so I can relieve the soreness in every single joint and muscle.

There are times during the Lenten season when it reminds me of my baseball days. No matter how much I focus, I can't seem to hit the pitch and no matter how fast I run, I never seem to beat the throw to the bag. My prayer life feels "off" and I need to get refocused.  

Maybe I am oversimplifying this, but the more we focus, the more we see. Meaning, the more we  make an effort in our prayer lives, the clearer things become in our relationship with God. It is true, there are always times in life when we swing and miss, but even in baseball, an all star, heck a HALL OF FAMER fails about 70% of the time at the plate but a good hitter ALWAYS gets back to the plate!

People often ask me how I focus. For me it is through my song. It is through picking up my guitar and praying. That is my new baseball field. That is my batter's box where I get to take a swing at a pitch and hopefully make good contact with the ball.

We may strike out but we get another chance. We step back into the batter's box for another swing, another chance to succeed. Focused on God, you will not fail because God never fails. Ever. You will knock it out of the park.

How focused are you this Lent?

What are you doing to get "refocused"?

Are you slowing down to prepare for  the Easter celebration?

Lord God, make me smaller so I may never think I am bigger than You.

Lord God, make me slower so I may never think I can outrun your great love.

Lord God, make me weaker so in my weakness, You may dwell in me!





CRS and New Beginnings

God works in mysterious ways. A couple of years ago, I was ready to hang it up and be satisfied with playing the music the way I have always done so. Since  then, I have been introduced to my mentor and friend, received my Advanced Certificate in Pastoral Ministry and now tapped to record the new song for Youth and Young Adult programming for Catholic Relief Services. 


God is so good. Look out 2015, there is a fire that is burning!