Fr. Brian Barker, O.S.A., currently serving as Director of Augustinian Mission at Cascia Hall, has released his fifth album, titled On The Way. Written and recorded in collaboration with guitarist Fr. Benedykt Pzadan, the album takes its name from the words of St. Augustine’s Rule: "The main reason for your coming together is to be of one mind and one heart on the way to God.” On the occasion of the release of this new album, we asked Fr. Barker a few questions regarding his music and inspiration.
How would you describe your music in On the Way?
I would describe my music as Christian acoustic that comes from the heart. It's just me on the piano and Fr. Benedykt on guitar. Simple, reflective, relaxing, and hopefully, prayerful.
The title takes its name from a line of St. Augustine; how has Augustinian spirituality influenced your music?
As I look back on the past five CDs I've recorded, I see a thread of Augustinian spirituality through all of them. Some of the songs I've written I've used the words from one of his writings, especially "The Confessions." I titled this CD "On the Way," as a way of recognizing and affirming the fact that we're all like Augustine said, "...One mind, one heart, on the way to God." The first two songs of this new CD talk about life as a journey and that in the end, if we've been open to the voice and direction of God in our lives, end up in the same place, the Kingdom.
How did you begin playing and recording music?
I've been playing music since I was in first grade. I come from a very musical family, as both my mom and dad were musically inclined. My first recording was back in 2003. Fr. Benedykt and I have recorded all five CDs together. The whole idea behind these CDs is to give something back. After all, God gave us this talent. I firmly believe we are to use the talents and gifts God has blessed us with to make the world a better place, to do our part in building up the Kingdom of God. That's what we're hoping to do.
Through these five CDs, we've given away over $60,000.00 to various charities and causes, most notably, to help kids who need a surgery and whose parents can't afford to pay for it. We're very happy to do this.
What can you tell us about your songwriting process?
The songwriting process for me may be quite different than how others write song. I don't really know. For me, it's always a melody that pops into my head. Usually it won't go away until I do something with it. For almost all of the songs I've written, the music always comes first, then the lyrics. It's not long, hard or laborious, it's kind of fun.
In this album you collaborated with another priest, Fr. Ben Pazdan. How did you begin working with him? How was the process of collaborating?
I've known Fr. Benedykt for a long time, When I was stationed at Mundelein Seminary as a formation faculty member, Benedykt was a seminarian who lived on my floor. He was a talented guitar player. He recorded a CD of his own in his first year in the United States, to help pay for some of the expenses he incurred while he was in the seminary. He told me about the process of recording and we decided to make a CD of our own music. The rest is kind of history. 14 years later, we're still at it. If our music can help make a positive difference in people's lives, then why stop?