Monday, March 31, 2014

It's so apropos--

--that this is what's happening in my so-called garden.

Sort of like what is happening in my so-called life. Just kidding! It does echo Laetare Sunday and the downhill side of Lent, though.

I am just happy that today Philadelphia got a taste of Spring. The sort of day in which the sun feels good, and the breeze isn't too chilly. Made me go out back and uncover my little bed and this was what I found. Now, if the neighborhood kitties and squirrels would just not dig around in it...I tried hanging our wind chimes right above to see if it will help.  I know our kitty is losing his mind over the chirping birds outside the window.

I hope everyone is getting some Spring!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Laetare Jerusalem!

I couldn't find a good recording of the hymns we sang today, Jerusalem the Golden, and Father, We Thank Thee Who Hast Planted. But here is the Sanctus from the beautiful Palestrina setting, Missa Aeterna Christi Munera.

Friday, March 28, 2014

7 quick takes of my 7-- the memories edition

I won't lie. I shed a few tears putting this together. I look at these pictures and see the whole story behind each one. Each background reminds me of the places we lived and the dynamics of the family at that time. Sometimes. some difficult memories. But the kids' personalities show through, and I am so proud of the people they are. We love our children imperfectly, and we love them as much as our hearts can possibly hold; how do we imagine God's perfect and all-encompassing love for us?

1. 1981 - Meghann

2. 1987-  Daniel

                                                                                                         with Mom-mom, RIP


3. 1990- Corrie

                                                                         Corrie had special talents

4. 1991 - Melissa

                                                                                                         with Daniel

                     1992:  Corrie and Melissa, with our kitty,  when we lived on a dairy farm.

5. 1993 - Rachael

she was brand new in this pic
She was fond of the "flying arms" pose

6. 1995 - Benjamin

                               Ben weighed more than 10 pounds. We were both worn out.

 7. 1999 - Malaika
 Malaika's birth pics were not for prime time.
 here she is turning 4



my mother and me: 1961

a very tired me with Corrie, Daniel and Melissa
                                                Meghann, Daniel, and Corrie: 1990



Melissa, Corrie and Daniel. Playing...Bible characters? I think Dan is wearing a toga? 

                                                       A tea party. Non- political.                                                                                         

Melissa. Rachael (tiara in place), Daniel, Corrie and Ben

 Just for perspective, here they are now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Annunciation

At the Annunciation, Jesus is bodily present on this earth for the first time. Mary's yes was the vehicle for that.  St. Maximilian Kolbe calls her the spouse of the Holy Spirit.

There were times when I used to wonder what would have happened if Mary had hesitated, or said no. Sinless though she was, she was still 100% human. Her purity only made it possible for her to be completely open to God, but she still was not forced or programmed. I read in the Magnificat that her yes sprang from an absence of cynicism, and an acceptance of possibility in the face of what seemed impossible.

 As limited as my understanding of Mary is, the Annunciation is to me the pivotal moment in history that brings the presence of Jesus alive on earth, and begins the great event of His sacrifice on our behalf. Mary had, if you will, a front row seat to WWJD for 33 years. We adore His presence at Adoration and each Sunday; she was in His presence almost continually. She was already sinless, but all of that proximity to her divine son must have had a radiating effect. As standing in the sun would have a physical effect.

St. Louis de Montfort, in his prayer to Mary, includes this passage:

The only grace I beg thee to obtain for me is that every day and every moment of my life I may say: Amen, So be it--to all that thou didst do while on earth; Amen, so be it--to all that thou art now doing in Heaven; Amen, so be it--to all that thou art doing in my soul, so that thou alone mayest fully glorify Jesus in me for time and eternity. Amen.

I say the three Amens often, after receiving our Lord in the Eucharist.

I rest in the fact that I don't have to know everything in order to trust in everything. Mary only ever leads to Jesus. Jesus only ever leads to the Father. The Father's only desire is to see us happy with Him in heaven forever.

Happy Feast day!


Friday, March 21, 2014

7 quick takes: favorite prayers, a snobby review of my favorite music, and my cat.

1. This, I have come upon fairly recently. It is a prayer before Mass by Saint Ambrose. I can clearly see why Saint Augustine was so taken by this man's preaching. His words say what I cannot summon, but my soul longs to express.

O loving Lord Jesus Christ, I, a sinner, not presuming on my own mertis, but trusting in Your mercy and goodness, with fear and awe approach the table of Your most sacred banquet. For I have stained both my heart and body with many sins, and have not kept a strict guard over my mind and tongue. Wherefore, O gracious God, O awful majesty, I, a wretched creature, entangled in difficulties, have recourse to You, the fount of mercy; to You I fly for healing and take refuge under Your protection, and I ardently desire to have Him as my Savior whom I am unable to face as my Judge. 

To You, Lord, I show my wounds, to You I lay bare my shame. I know that my sins are many and great and on their account I am filled with fear. But I trust in Your mercy, which is endless. Look down on me, therefore, with the eyes of mercy, Lord Jesus Christ, eternal King, God and Man, crucified for men. Hear me, for my hope is in You; have mercy on me, for I am full of sin and wretchedness, You who never cease to let flow the fountain of mercy.

 Hail Victim of Salvation, offered for me and for all mankind on the tree of the cross. Hail, noble and precious Blood, flowing from the wounds of my crucified Lord Jesus Christ washing away the sins of the whole world. Remember, Lord, Your creature, whom You have redeemed with Your Blood. I am grieved because I have sinned. I desire to make amends for what I have done. 

Take away from me, therefore, O most merciful Father, all my iniquities and my sins, that, being purified both in soul and body, I may worthily partake of the Holy of Holies; and grant that this holy oblation of Your Body and Blood, of which though unworthy I purpose to partake, may be to me the remission of my sins, the perfect cleansing of all my offenses, the means of driving away all evil thoughts and of renewing all holy desires, the accomplishment of works pleasing to You, as well as the strongest defense for soul and body against the snares of my enemies. 

2.   I am not sure if this is also from St. Ambrose, but it is a beautiful Act of Hope.

Since Thou dost deign to come and dwell within me, O my Redeemer, what may I not expect from Thy bounty! I therefore present myself before Thee with that lively confidence which Thine infinite goodness inspires. Thou not only knowest all my wants, but Thou also art willing and able to relieve them. Thou hast not only invited me, but also promised me Thy gracious assistance.

3. Prayer for Those Whose Lives I Touched   F.E. Callaghan

 Beloved Shepherd of Souls!
As I tread into the sunset of my life, I grow anxious for the spiritual welfare of souls who came to know me.
It grieves me to think of the offenses they may have committed because of words or deeds of mine.
I have in mind those who were my close responsibility as well as those whom I sponsored in Baptism
and whose spiritual condition is no longer known to me.

In Your Merciful Goodness I now plead for the pardon of the soul who because of me may have lost Your favour.
Humbly I implore You, let not one of them be lost, but when they leave this world may they find glorious entry into the Kingdom of Heaven!

On behalf of those who may need to atone for offenses I may have caused them to commit,
I offer You any infirmities or sufferings I am to undergo during the remaining years of my life.

Dear Shepherd of Souls, grant them life eternal.

 4.  TODAY

My life is a gift of God given, not years but a day at a time. Today is the day the Lord has made for me, and he planned it to be the most important day of my life. Yesterday is gone, never to return. I must not worry about it, but leave it    in the hands of God.
Tomorrow and all that it holds is God's secret and its coming is not assured.
Only today is mine. Each day, arranged by God with infinite wisdom and goodness is his gift,     his act of love for me.
In thanksgiving I will offer him every day the gift of myself my prayers, works, joys and sufferings.
Please God, receive them graciously.

-from a daily prayer book given out by my home parish, St. Monica

5.  Okay, I know you were waiting with baited breath for my Snobby Music Review. 

Bob and I were blessed to go see a program of music at the Kimmel Canter last week, of various artists and time periods, but all pieces I absolutely adore. Okay, maybe not the Franck organ piece. But everything else.

Here is the blurb about the program:

Fauré's Requiem

Alain Altinoglu - Conductor
Michael Stairs - Organ
Susanna Phillips - Soprano
Philippe Sly - Bass-baritone
The Philadelphia Singers Chorale - Mixed chorus
David Hayes - Music director
program Gabrieli - Canzon septimi toni No. 2, from Sacrae symphoniae
Franck - Organ Chorale No. 1 in E major
Villa-Lobos - Bachianas brasileiras No. 5
Duruflé - Four Motets on Gregorian Themes
Dukas - Fanfare from La Péri
Fauré - Requiem

Thursday, March 13, 2014

8:00 pm Verizon Hall

Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin has regretfully withdrawn from performances scheduled for March 13, 14, and 15 at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. Conductor Alain Altinoglu, whose engagement comes at the recommendation of Mr. Nézet-Séguin, has graciously agreed to lead the Orchestra on those dates, making his Philadelphia Orchestra debut. There will be no change to the previously-announced program.
The Orchestra’s multi-season exploration of the great requiems continues with Fauré’s intimate and contemplative work. Its distinctive orchestration of lower strings is the centerpiece of a spiritual program featuring unique combinations and ensembles in styles ranging from Medieval chant to antiphonal brass to Brazilian rhythms.

                        the conductor, Alain Altinoglu
             Looks a bit like our own Fr. Kelley. But French.

The only review I could find of this concert, I'm sorry reviewer, but, woefully inadequate. So here is mine. Philadelphia Orchestra Brass. Take your breath away. They were like one big brassy instrument, they were so perfectly in tune and together. I have known and loved the Fanfare from La Peri my whole life, I know it inside and out, and have listened to it done by scores of different groups. Philly, you were the very best. My only slight disappointment was that it seemed kind of fast, and some of the harmonies not allowed to linger, even for a second longer, before they were gone.

Here it is done the way I like it. The video says it is 24 minutes, don't worry the fanfare is just the first short piece, about two and a half minutes. Philly zipped through it much quicker. Mr. Altinoglu replaced Nézet-Séguin, and I can't help but wonder if he might have savored it a bit more.

You may have also noticed the Durufle motets are on the program also.. I posted the Ubi Caritas a few weeks ago. Beautifully done at this concert by the Philadelphia singers. My only distraction was one smallish Philadelphia Singer. A bass, smack in the center, right beneath the organ, who kept catching my eye, buried though he was, and the lighting was left very soft. He had a sort of alarming mannerism of lifting his chin and stretching out his neck with each note, while making a pursed-lip "oooooo" formation. How he did that no matter what the words were baffles me still. But the effect in general was...

I curse my love of Mr.Bean at times like this.

 The main reason I wanted to see this concert to begin with, was the Faure Requiem. Much like the Fanfare, it is a piece I have have loved and listened to since my teenage years, except this piece has become part of the FABRIC OF MY BEING.  I have a favorite recording, to me the Only Way to properly perform it, (haha), so I knew going in, that hearing it done some Other Way was going to be a little rough.

Again, I don't know if the conductor had any responsibility for how it was done, my apologies, Mr. Altinoglu, but I was really sad. Some of the most gorgeous parts were completely glossed over. At times, the tempo was double what it should have been. I could see him conducting in cut time. One of the most exquisite Amens in all of music was practically obliterated. Now, would it have been the same under Nézet-Séguin? Who knows. But if indeed this conductor's way was significantly different, then bravo to the orchestra and singers for gamely following. It was so painful to hear this Requiem raced through in parts, and it's dynamic range greatly reduced. The ppps were there but none of the fs, or the occasional ff. Which made the ppps seem less ppp. If you get my drift.

So, here is The Version, for anyone who might like to enhance the beauty of their Lent with a Requiem. I was only able to find the ending movement to share with you here.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.

May angels lead you into paradise; upon your arrival, may the martyrs receive you and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem. May the ranks of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, once the poor man, may you have eternal rest. 

6. I am obviously not going in order of gravity here. As a way to give alms this Lent, please go here and consider helping this order of monks. There is a link to go through Pay Pal.

7.    And, lastly in gravity, but firstly in cuteness; my cat.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lent and the battle of guilt vs conscience

So, today, through one thing and another, I am continually reminded of my weakness. Well, not just today, but shall I say, especially today.

  Of course, Lent tends to expose my weaknesses as I try to reign them in and become more disciplined. It reminds me of cleaning closets. The more I dig in the closets, the more forgotten items come out into the light, and are now looking me in the face; forcing me to make decisions on their future. Some of these are from a time when I lived very differently than I do now. But I remember those times with gratitude, and quite a bit of awe at how God has worked.

 I am almost 11 years a Catholic, this Easter. The several years leading up to my conversion, and the first several years in, were full of grace, and a steep learning curve. I was still such a newbie, and having come from the Evangelical world, I hadn't met our friend, Catholic Guilt yet, nor even his nicer relative, Well Formed Conscience. So, as I blundered towards God, I was blissfully unaware of my foibles. I am not going to enumerate them all here. Neither you or I have that kind of time. But when I look back at that time, a few of the many positives that stand out were that I was earnest and unafraid. I did make mistakes, but I made them in the context of growth. It is my feeling that God was pleased, as a parent would be pleased at the progress of a child. The mistakes are expected and part of the growing. When children are learning to walk, they occasionally fall. When  learning to eat, they make a mess. When learning to speak,  unintelligible for a little while.

As a parent, we find all of these things endearing and kind of treasure them, as we know they will pass quickly, and our little ones will very soon grow up.

 Even as they become teens and young adults, sometimes we must stand and watch as they make larger mistakes. Maybe we aren't grinning at this point, but we are there to offer support and guidance, and of course, prayer. We have to entrust them to that same God who saw us through our own rough times.

 And so,here in the Lent of 2014, I am doing my little sacrifices and extra reading, going to confession, and just generally attempting to be more aware of God and of myself in relation to Him. As I mentioned about the cluttered closet, along with many gifts and graces, I can't help but see the junk a little clearer too. But now, folks, our buddy Catholic Guilt has caught up to me, as much as I try to ignore him and just focus on Well Formed Conscience, CG is kind of a loudmouth and not easily brushed aside.

There is always something I have not done enough of, or in the best way possible, or with the best attitude in the whole world, et cetera. I am trying to remember, that even though I have 11 years under my belt, I am not "there" yet, and still in a growing process, and will be until my last day on Earth. And remembering some of that fresh enthusiasm and delight from the earlier days, I think that maybe it is okay to forge ahead without expecting from myself immediate perfection in every circumstance. Maybe a little trust that God, in His wisdom, has laid out my path in a way that I, a garden variety sinner, can grow in holiness a little each day.

In January, I did Jen Fulwiler's Saint Generator, to choose a Saint (or have one pick me) to pray to especially this year. Truth be told, I forgot about it till now. But, I remember at the time, being pretty blown away at having gotten Saint Mary Magdalene. It came back to me today, as I am remembering a time when I was a little closer to the start, and the flood of Grace was still fresh. The amazement that God was with me in my little life, sticking in there while I blundered around, sometimes really badly, and bringing me step by tiny step, closer to Him. I remember how I always loved the verse, "He who has been forgiven much, loves much." I remember how much Christ loved Mary Magdalen, how extravagantly she loved Him, and how he gave her the honor of being the first to see Him after His resurrection.

I am reading more about her life now, and I don't think I (or hardly anyone) would be able to live the life she led after His ascension. But, she still embraced many difficult (read: impossible to imagine) earthly penances for her earthy sins, though forgiven. Her death was beautiful and surrounded by the miraculous, and she was greatly honored after she passed.

So, I guess what I am saying is, don't forget that God loves us as a father because He is our Father. If you are a parent, think about that before you beat yourself up. How much did our own parents have to deal with in our own upbringing? Or, if you are a parent and are having difficulties with a child, think of your enduring love for them, even in the worst times.

 His example of complete self-emptying love, in order that we might obtain forgiveness for our sins and go on to be happy in heaven with Him forever, was not all done so that we could turn around and berate ourselves night and day for our frail humanity. Rather, that we can acknowledge our frailty, and turn it over to the Blessed Mother and her Son, to do with us as He will. And stay the course, always in the shadow of His loving wing, trusting Him to bring us closer.

Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

PATRON SAINT OF: Apothecaries, Casamicciola, Italy, contemplative life, contemplatives, converts, druggists, glove makers, hairdressers, hairstylists, penitent sinners, penitent women, people ridiculed for their piety, perfumeries, perfumers, pharmacists, reformed prostitutes, sexual temptation, tanners,(not the tanning booth kind) women
GUIDANCE: Friend and follower of Jesus. Filled with sorrow over her sin, she anointed Christ, washed his feet with her hair. Exorcised by Him. Visited by the Risen Christ.
FEAST DAY: July 22

"Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much."--Luke 7:47

* After going back a reading over my post, a little clarification, I feel, is needed.

Having a well formed conscience is a Good Thing. What I am calling Catholic guilt, is my tongue-in-cheek way of referring to an unhealthy kind of guilt, one that accuses my every move, and doesn't lead to holiness, but only fosters confusion. And we all know who is the author of confusion. So, I am not saying God winks at sin, I am saying that He forbears with the one who wants to grow in holiness. I was simply remembering a time before I picked up a habit of allowing self accusation to cloud the workings of my conscience.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

today's heavenly postlude

sacred by Kelly Seppy on Grooveshark

Lord, for thy tender mercy’s sake
 lay not our sins to our charge, 
but forgive that is past, 
and give us grace 
to amend our sinful lives: 
to decline from sin and incline to virtue,
 that we may walk in a perfect heart
 before thee now and evermore. 


O God, who seest that we have no power whatever from ourselves; keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts which may hurt the soul.
Through our Lord.

Friday, March 14, 2014

7 quick one word Lent takes

1. Quietness

Lent offers this gift more often than other times. I try not to turn on music or TV and just let things be silent. It truly is a way to let Christ in, by not filling the space around me with sound. I tend to pray and talk with Him more throughout the day. And hear and feel Him more.

2. Clarity

Funny how number one and acknowledging the presence of Christ can lead to this. Well, not not really funny, or surprising,  but always a gift.

3. Charity

Easier to access when my spirit has been fed in prayer, quietness, and more frequent confession.

4. Beauty

I see it everywhere when I slow my roll enough to pay attention.

5. Grief

This one may surprise you, but to be still in prayer, everything in the heart is revealed. Listening recently to one of Fr. Z's Lentcasts, ( I know, he spellz it with a Z somewhere), He quoted somebody as saying not to shun our grief over past sins, but to be sorry and ask forgiveness each time. And to embrace the temporal consequences, as it is better to do penance now than in Purgatory.  This seems foreign to our ears, as we are told that Christ forgets our sins (He does). But the earthly consequences remain, and are, in fact, a gift.
* I apologize for surely slaughtering original version of this, but the gist is there.

6. Work

With less time spent on forms of entertainment, and attempting to be more disciplined, I find I spend more time doing housework and planning meals, which I enjoy the fruits of, and add to a sense of peace.


7. Patience

Is definitely a virtue, and I am either being shown how IM-patient I am, or being given opportunities to become more so. Add to this, persevering in prayer and being content to wait on God's answers and timing. And this past week or so, hugely rewarded with new, wonderful jobs for Meghann and Jeff! And a giant release of heaviness and stress for them both! Praise Be Jesus Christ!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

He is the one who always accepts you

In yesterday's daily reading in the Marion Consecration, 33 Days to Morning Glory, is Mother Teresa's letter to her Missionaries of Charity. She wrote it on March 25th, 1993, after hearing Pope John Paul II's Lenten message on Jesus' words, "I thirst."

An excerpt:

Jesus wants me to tell you much love He has for each one of you--beyond all you can imagine. I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus -- one to one -- you and Jesus alone. We may spend time in chapel -- but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks at you with love? Do you really know the living Jesus -- not from books but from being with Him in your heart? Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you? Ask for the grace, He is longing to give it. Until you can hear Jesus in the silence of your own heart, you will not be able to hear Him saying, "I thirst" in the hearts of the poor.  Never give up this daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person -- not just the idea. How can we last even one day without hearing Jesus say, "I love you"--impossible. Our soul needs that as much as the body needs to breathe air. If not, prayer is dead--meditation only thinking. Jesus wants you each to hear Him -- speaking in the silence of your heart. 

Be careful of all that can block that personal contact with the living Jesus. The Devil may try to use the hurts of life, and sometimes our own mistakes  -- to make you feel it is impossible that Jesus really loves you, is really cleaving to you. This is a danger for all of us. And so sad, because it is completely the opposite of what Jesus is really wanting, waiting to tell you. Not only that He loves you, but even more -- He longs for you. He misses you when you don't come close. He thirsts for you.  He loves you always, even when you don't feel worthy. When not accepted by others, even by yourself sometimes -- He is the one who always accepts you. My children, you don't have to be different for Jesus to love you. Only believe -- you are precious to Him. Bring all you are suffering to His feet -- only open your heart to be loved by Him as you are. He will do the rest.

(emphases mine)