Music Review: The Piano Priest’s Debut Album (“Now and Not Yet”)


“To sing is to pray twice”

—Saint Augustine


Music has the ability to infuse the human heart, mind, and soul with energy and joy. Singing has helped me on my toughest days. There exists a certain universal quality to music that draws all mankind together.

Father Mark Baumgarten

The Catholic Church promotes unity (one of its four chief characteristics). Music is an important facet of the faith. While one might first think of liturgical music, God can use many kinds of music to promote unity and truth. Father Mark Baumgarten is a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Perth, Australia who uses his musical gifts to evangelize. I had the pleasure of talking with him about his debut album Now and Not Yet.

Fr. Mark wrote and performed the songs His music in the album ranges in style, due to his eclectic taste in music. The first half of the album is from his pre-seminary days and wrestle with philosophical questions about life, whereas the second half relates to his life as a priest.

The Australian priest showcases his skills as a musician, singer, and promoter of truth. Though his songs aren’t overtly Catholic in lyric, his music provides assurance about God’s Providence while being fun to listen to.

Father Mark Baumgarten at Mass
Listening to Now and Not Yet during the day helped ease my stress at work and got me nodding to his upbeat, jazzy tracks like Wake-Up Juice.
I highly recommend listening to this positive piano 🎹 infused album by Fr. Mark.
This music by visiting: Piano Priest.

P.S. Fr. Mark was a semi-finalist in the 2021 International Songwriting Competition (unsigned category) with the song “World Grow Up”

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Book Review― A Catholic Field Guide to Fairy Tale Princesses


“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ― G.K. Chesterton


I’ve always been a fan of fairy tales and fantasy stories. The appeal initially began with the wonderful plots and scenery. But it’s the character development (at least in Disney renditions of the fairy tales) that continues to enchant me to revisit these tales. In the book A Catholic Field Guide to Fairy Tale Princesses: Modern Virtues in Tales as Old as Time, author Therese Zoe Williams examines a panoply of classic and modern princesses and the virtues they espouse.

A Catholic Field Guide to Disney Princesses

One of the challenges Catholics faces is how to evangelize in a secular modern not in line with traditional Catholic Church teaching. Followers of Jesus know this world is not our home. It’s a pilgrimage towards the next reality― Heaven. But this doesn’t mean we should flee from worldly things completely or never engage with the present culture. Williams says it well, “If we are to be truly ‘in this world but not of it’ (cf. Romans 12:3), then we have to sincerely engage pop culture at large. The whisper of God is in everything” (p. 18).

Williams’ book is divided into four sections: The Official Disney Princesses, Other Notable Disney Princesses, Other Disney Women of Virtue, and Noteworthy Non-Disney Princesses. Each chapter includes a description and brief history of the fairy tale related to the princess. Williams also includes a section titled A Real-Life Fairy Tale where she focuses on a saint who exhibits the same virtue depicted by the fairy tale heroine. Chapters conclude with a prayer related to the virtue and/or saint.

This was a fun and quick read. Williams did a great job in showing how the virtues exhibited by Disney princesses are relevant to our lives today. I particularly enjoyed the Real-Life Fairy Tale section. Williams found appropriate saints throughout Church history to match their fairy tale counterparts.

If you’re a fan of fairy tales or Catholic hagiography you will find this book enjoyable. If you are a fan of both, then this is a must buy for you! Purchase your copy of A Catholic Field Guide to Fairy Tale Princesses: Modern Virtues in Tales as Old as Time today.


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Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 34

Hope you had a blessed weekend! 🙏😊

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday.

Jesus is always right. 🙂
Happy Belated Laetare Sunday!
God’s love is all-consuming. ❤️❤️❤️
🪑🪑😄😄
One reason I can’t have a podcast is I’m more of a hoodie guy not a big bowtie wearer. 😄🙂
😄🙂😆
I do declare!
#catholicdadjoke
Solemnity Lenten Fridays are epic! 🙂🥓🍖

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

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The Challenges of a Catholic Attending a Secular College

By: Erica L. Cerasale

Deciding on which college to attend is a large part of a high schooler’s life. So much time and pressure are spent boosting our GPA, participating in extracurriculars, and volunteering so that we get accepted into our ‘’dream school.’’

I was not one of those people.

My GPA was good, but I didn’t have to put in much effort to earn it. The only extracurricular activity that I was involved with was theatre. And for volunteering, I spent some summers helping the public library in my town plus being one of the leaders for Vacation Bible School at the local church.

I applied to four colleges in my state: a private Jesuit university, a private Catholic university, and two public state universities. I ended up deciding on attending Western Connecticut State University. It’s public state college about 45 minutes from my hometown. I picked WCSU because of the financial aid they awarded me, its smaller size, and the opportunity to have a fresh start.

When move-in-day finally arrived, I was surprised at how quickly I adjusted to college. In a matter of weeks, I was able to walk around campus without getting lost. Plus, I had found a group of friends to hang out with.

The Life Changing Experience of the Newman Center

Around the end of September, however, my entire life was changed when I was introduced to my university’s Newman Center.

The Western Connecticut State University Newman Center

The Western Connecticut State University Newman Center.

At the time, I was a Catholic at surface level. I was raised in the faith as a child and attended religious education classes. I also received the sacraments of First Holy Communion, Reconciliation, and Confirmation. However, I did not have my own personal relationship with God. Daily prayer was something that I did not partake in. Nor did I attempt to go to Confession or read the Bible.

The only time that I thought about Jesus was once a week.

Four FOCUS missionaries resided at the Newman Center. It was the first time I witnessed young adults live out their Catholic faith. All the missionaries prayed daily, went to Mass daily, and received Confession often. What was more amazing was the fact that they interacted with others in a welcoming manner. Not only that, but everything they consumed, said and did was for the glory of the Lord. Their actions reminded me of this Bible verse:

Finally, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ―Philippians 4:8

Challenges of Being a Catholic in a Secular College

As I spent more time at Newman, I got to experience many things that I have never experienced before: engaging in fellowship, attending a Bible study; being in the presence of the Lord during Adoration. By learning and growing in faith, I realized that I must do a very important thing; the most challenging thing that I have ever done (or ever will do): being of the Word and not of the world.

Attending a small, secular, state school has made this no easy feat.

Being a Catholic at a college where faith isn’t a priority in many students’ lives can be frustrating. I have encountered the following challenges along the way:

  • Questioning whether I should wear my Miraculous medal or the shirt with Our Lady of Guadalupe on the back out in public instead of during a time when I’m in my dorm room more.
  • Whispering the rosary at night, hoping that my roommates don’t hear me and call me out on what I’m doing.
  • The awkwardness of discussing with classmates why I haven’t seen an episode of Euphoria because ‘’that show is something that I am not a fan of.’’
  • It’s watching some of my friends outwardly (and proudly) state that a woman has the right to decide what to do with her body, even if meant killing the innocent human being that was inside her.

Honestly, there have been times I’ve been upset and wished I attended a Catholic university. In the moment, it seemed ‘easier’ to be surrounded by people who were just like me.

Living the Christian Faith is Worth It

But walking with Christ has never been (or never will be) easy. If it was, then we wouldn’t be able to grow in our faith. The temptation to go with the crowd and abandon my beliefs is something that I will always have to fight against.

But it is something that’s worth fighting for.

No matter what my peers say about the Church, I will continue to advocate for Her. I have experienced faith, fellowship, love, and servitude, and I know just how beautiful it can be. More than ever, college students are chasing sin to fulfill the emptiness in their hearts. But what they don’t realize is that those desires of being seen, wanted, and loved can be satisfied in Christ.

The Lord wanted me to attend a secular college so I can discover Him in a non-traditional setting and to become a vessel of His love for the campus community.

For a girl who never obsessed about which college to attend, I ended up at the school where I was meant to be. And that’s all because of Jesus.


About our guest blogger:

Erica Lynn is a third-year Communication and Marketing student at Western Connecticut State University and is Secretary of her college’s Newman Club. Erica is passionate about fellowship and the power of social media to evangelize within the Church. Follow her on Instagram @_catholit_ to see more Catholic content.

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The Only Lasting Solution to Overcome (or at Least Combat) Stress

The world moves at lightning ⚡ pace and stress seems to compound faster than interest on payday loans.

Add the short-staffing crisis and the ongoing pandemic to the mix and it’s no wonder people’s mental health is on the brink of breaking (again and again).

Will the Stress Ever End?

I have suffered anxiety attacks at least weekly at work.

I often get frustrated at myself for not having more “strength” to weather the stress storm.

“My best is not enough” I think as I analyze the ever-growing list of things needed to do at work.

And it never will be enough.

You are not meant to have perfection or “enoughness” in this life.

Only One can fill your heart and mind with satisfaction and long-term peace, contentment and joy.

God.

Gratitude is our oxygen.

The pressures of the world make it appear survival is the only option. Inhale a large breath and make it last until you burst.

Taking a moment or two to exhale by taking in gratitude infuses new life.

God gives us grace (pure gift) to help us in times of trouble.

The catch?

Gifts are only help when you accept them

Ask and you will receive.

One way to receive grace is to practice gratitude.

Exhale this Monday.

What are you grateful for today?

P.S. Three things I’m thankful for today:

  • Coffee
  • Blankets
  • Bible in a Year podcast

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4 Secrets to Guarantee a Successful Life

Secret to success

💡The secret to success is not really a secret. That is if you pay attention to the best people in life. Jesus. MLKJ. St. Francis of Assisi.

❤️ The people of unparalleled and unparalleled virtue.

My observations and experiences has helped me learn how to be successful.

🧡 I define success as experiencing daily joy in your life, developing strong & genuine relationships, and the ability to create opportunities for yourself.

Here is my list of how to be successful:

1️⃣ Humility—this is foundational for everything

Humble people accept feedback and recognize (and can hire) people with more talent.

2️⃣ Gratitude—enhances and stabilizes humility

Being thankful helps you remember your beginnings and your priorities.

3️⃣ Action-oriented

Without this third attribute a humility, grateful person would be well-respected, but standing still—not reaching their full potential.

Action leads to growth—both personally and professionally.

4️⃣ Active listener/feedback consumer

Combined with character (humility + gratitude) and diligence (action) taking feedback seriously and implementing it as soon as possible puts you on the surefire track to success.

Add in consistency this makes the best recipe for lasting success.

Agree?

Would you add anything or reorder my list?

Let me know in the comments ⤵️

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