I might not have considered writing music in earnest, and especially a Mass, were it not for some painful life experiences that drove me to explore other options for meaning. In December 1993, I left the military as a chaplain after serving three years, a portion of which was spent in the Persian Gulf Conflict. I was suffering with PTSD and Major depression and realized staying in chaplaincy ministry was not an option. I decided to return to the Catholic Church, which was the church of my youth, but could not let go of the idea that I had been called to ministry.
Through much soul-searching, I came to believe that I could still be a minister and touch peoples' hearts to God through music. I began working towards that goal by getting piano lessons, learning the Finale program, and taking lessons in composition, since my training primarily had been BA in vocal performance. My learning curve was steep. I am reminded of the passage "Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting." Ps. 126:5 When I think of sowing in tears, I am reminded of hard work. God gives us the seed of a vision, and the tears are the hard work we do with what God has entrusted us with sharing. And when I say hard work, I mean HARD work, especially for someone like me. But God gave me the melodies, and it was my job to pull out the hammer and chisel, writing/rewriting, editing again and again parts to go with these melodies.
This creative work became part of my therapy, as it truly helped me deal with the effects of PTSD and depression. Through it all, God wanted to teach me endurance and to persevere, trusting that God would work out things the way God wanted them to work out, not how I thought they should work out. Also it taught me to put even more effort into improving my skills, which needed it.
Recently, I have had a second episode of cancer. Finding out this Mass was accepted for publication and that people would hear and sing it and be blessed truly has helped during this difficult time. It has brought hope - God will be with us in all our trials, to help us do His will if we trust and follow Him.