Friday, March 6, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday ... March 6th

Last weekend I did a little decorating - putting up some pictures downstairs in the living room and finally hanging the amazing Congo map MG got me for Christmas. Another Wall full of a story!

The adjacent wall has a bigger story too, if I haven't shared it with you before...

All photos and things from my trip to the Congo. The frame in the bottom right now has a photo in it as well. The fabric in the upper left is a dress that they purchased for me that will be admired more on the wall than in my closet!

I also put these curtains and frames up in the guest bedroom - which makes me SO happy whenever I walk up stairs. That side of the house looks so put together!

A happy place, rather than a drab place, for guests to hang out in while they stay.

An interesting quote from Matt Walsh I found the other day about when he and his wife finally walked into a building they didn't know what was inside. It was a new Mega-Church - reminds me of Elevation here in Charlotte.
"Eventually, our curiosity got the best of us and we went in to investigate. The thing is, even when I was inside, it took me five minutes to figure out that it was a church. All traces of anything sacred, ancient, traditional, or reverent had been stripped away. What was left was something that plenty of people clearly found appealing, but it didn’t look Christian, or sound Christian, or feel Christian. It didn’t go to any great lengths to identify itself as a church, and that’s all for the best, I suppose. After all, there was nothing about it — aesthetically or substantively — that resembled one." source
Hmm... reminds me of what people say whenever we are building new churches ... so many people want it just to be plain and simple so we don't waste money on all of those 'frivilous things' like statues, paintings, chalices, etc...

They are necessary - primarily because they are beautiful. They need no other reason to be there.

A great quote from a great Katherine saint this week:
God's will--peacefully do at each moment what at that moment ought to be done.
- Saint Katharine Drexel (1858-1955), Feast day March 3

I saw this in an article earlier this week and thing it speaks well of the situation at hand in the Church.
We have eliminated almost every strenuous practice of self-denial from the common life of the Church. All we say is that if you are chewing gum during Mass, please to move it to the left side of your jaws so as to clear a space on the right to receive the Lord at Communion.
No ascetic life, no hierarchy, no brotherhood, no risk, no battle – no priests. And then there are the supernatural concerns, about which I will have more to say next time.
Read the whole article on here. Would love to hear your thoughts.

After reading the above article, I read a bunch more of Anthony Esolen and am very interested in reading more of his work. It makes me think a lot about the fall of masculinity in our current culture and about how we seem to be offended by the fact that men and women are different. It's okay that we're different, it's even great that we are. Different doesn't mean bad, it just means different. 

Killed some time last Sunday afternoon between a baby shower and Mass in the rain by going to Lowes Home Improvement to get two things: air filters since it's time to change mine at the house and a de-clogging tool that looks like a yellow stick with lots of thorns. Didn't think much of it, but because I have MyLowes (which is SUPER useful if you have a house because I couldn't remember which filters I purchased last time and it was right there on the internet on my phone!) today I get an email with this ... suggestions for me for future purchase

My house requires 20x14x1 filters - so I purchased them - in this brand. Now if MyLowes was SMART, then it would have recommended a different brand to me, causing me to spend a few more bucks - these are literally the 2nd cheapest ones you can purchase. BUT no, in order to get NO more of my business in this area, they are recommending I purchase filters that are the wrong size ... I purchase these all I do is waste money or return them. No one wins here Lowes, no one!

This week's Latin & Me post is about music, the hardest one to write since it's such a point of contention around these parts and all parts of the Church. Check it out, if you're interested ... no pressure, of course!

For more Quickity, Quick Takes, check out the gang with Kelly over at This Ain't the Lyceum!
See you next week, or stop by this week for more musings and antics!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Latin & Me, part 4

Today we continue my journey toward an appreciation of Latin and Mass in the Extraordinary Form. To read about the other parts check out one and two and three. Just a reminder that this is my personal journey, not a comprehensive discussion of the theology.

The progression of my thoughts is following the pattern of change that happened at my parish here in Charlotte as well as my own personal experiences and thoughts. The next big thing that happened after changing the way we distribute communion (see part three) was an incorporation of Latin responses into the Liturgy accompanied with an overall shift in the style of music that accompanies our Liturgy.

To begin my appreciation for music in Latin I have to travel all the way back to when I was in choir during Elementary School with Ms. Kronenwetter and Mrs. Herzing (my distant cousin). Fr. Ananias came to our parish when I was in 3rd or 4th grade and he wanted us to sing in Latin. So during the season of Lent we sang all of the Mass parts (Holy, Holy & Agnus Dei) in Latin. The ones that most people know - which are actually the funeral tunes in the MEF, an interesting fact! Since we had Mass every Friday, we got these down pretty good and now they are permanently fixed into my memory. We also learned the prayers of exposition as we had Eucharistic Adoration every First Friday following the weekly school Mass we sang at. So we learned them pretty well - the O Salutaris better than the Tantum Ergo - but both became part of my Latin repertoire.

Throughout the rest of grammar school (I went to the same school from pre-k through 8th grade) and high school, we continued to do those Mass parts during Lent.

Then when I went to school at Saint Vincent, my roommate and I started going to Compline (night prayer) on a regular basis. Fr. Brian introduced us to the Marian Songs that are sung at the end of the evening. So he took time to teach us all of the songs. The one most frequently sung is the Salve Regina which is the one I know most well and sing most often still today. This is the Hail Holy Queen in latin. We also learned the Ave Regina Caelorum, the Regina Coeli (the one of these three I know the best), and Alma Redemptoris Mater (this one I know the least well since it's sung from Advent through the Presentation - and we are out of school for most of that time). After we mastered the Marian Hymns, we set out to learn the Te Deum, which I can still only do about 2 lines, maybe, if pressed, and someone begins it.

I loved singing these hymns, I also loved participating in Vespers with the monks on a regular basis and did so many, many times. The second half of my Junior year and my entire Senior year I went almost every day at 5pm before joining my friends for dinner.

Also during college the music at our student chapel was very traditional - always being sure to sing hymns of praise to God rather than songs of praise about what we are doing. I fought this tooth and nail, a lot - mostly because up until just a few years ago my preferred music was the more modern praise and worship music. Even through my twenties - and still now if I need some encouragement in prayer, P&W is what brings me solace, but it's not what I prefer at Mass.

How did I get there? Slowly, more slowly than I'd like to admit - and really not even only my own. We were thrown into the deep end at our parish and to be honest it wasn't pretty. But I would keep this phrase I would repeat over and over in prayer, "I don't come for the music, I don't come for the priest. I come for the kingdom, I come for the feast." Reminding myself that it's not about me, not about what I want - really not about what our music director wants, or even what the priest wants. It's about giving Glory to God whether I love the music or can't stand it because it's not about me.

We have this pretty secular and honestly, very protestant notion in America that everything is about us. We do something at Mass and if we don't contribute in some way (see: active participation defined wrongly) then somehow that was a "bad Mass." But is that really true? NO. There might be things done as "bad liturgy" - ie: norms not followed, the priest inserting himself too much to make it his own, lay ministers taking over roles, etc... However, it takes a lot to make it "not mass" anymore. There are two standards: Valid and Licit. Ideally, every Mass would be both Valid and Licit - the truth is that many Masses are just Valid and the things that clergy or laity do make it illicit.

But anyway - back to use of Latin Music. It took a while for me to move out of my P&W bubble into more traditional hymn appreciation. After our contemporary group was removed from the evening Mass I usually attend, I was at St. Mark (my former parish) for their evening Mass with their contemporary group. I though, "after all these weeks of dryness, maybe this mass with this music will give me the 'pick me up' I've been seeking." But it didn't. For me it was worse than the music I supposedly didn't like over at my parish. So I came to this conclusion about music for Mass - I want music that is done well. I want to experience the beauty of the church - for me, this is mostly when it's just the human voice. I can deal with the organ, I like it just fine - but typically on it's own or when we have a very large choir and the human voice and can stand up to it rather than be drowned out by it.

So that wasn't really about Latin Music, was it? Two more thoughts about Latin responses in Mass (and this time they really are about them).

First, when I was in the Congo I attended Mass in all different languages (see this post for info about how I didn't hear a homily for 3 1/2 weeks in English). I found myself at one Sunday Mass where we had the Archbishop and Mass was in french. The creed was in Latin - and it was the only part of the Mass that I was able to speak during! I was so excited that I could actually participate in a language I could pronounce fairly well! This is one of the reasons why we are encouraged to learn the Latin responses, so when we are in any country with other Catholics we all have something in common - not just a common faith, but a common language. Yes the Mass was the same throughout and I could follow along with my Magnificat, but it's wasn't the same as when I could actually speak the words along with him!

Second, when we began learning the Missa de Angelis at our parish (a video if you've never experienced it), many people were taken aback - and still are 6 months later. It began as a summer project to learn more Mass parts and also to learn Latin responses. This was a new one for me, I had never sung the Gloria in Latin (and that's the only part we do as of today). We learned it over the course of five weeks two or three lines at a time before Mass. I find that it is the most beautiful Gloria I can now sing.

Many people's concern with singing or saying the responses in Latin is that they don't know that language. And yes, that is correct - you might not be able to form sentences in that language, but you do know what you are singing when you sing the gloria in latin because you know the entire gloria in english. It's not a switch-a-roo with words - the gloria in english is just the translation of the Latin!

It takes some time and effort to get to know the other version, just like learning new songs, new Mass settings, and everything new. For weeks I would listen to this video over and over again to get the tune in my mind, and pay special attention to the cantor and rhythm of the music at Mass to make a point to be able to sing it. I want to know it without looking at the book like I do for the other prayers at Mass.

Participating in small ways with the universal church in the universal language of the Church helps me to see the vastness that our faith is - the centuries that it spans - the family that it involves. We might not understand each other's languages, but we can pray the Mass together because we know one language!

Next week the Requiem Mass and the plans for my funeral - which is hopefully many, many years away since I have a novena's time (9 days including today) until I'm even out of my 20s and into the 30th year of my life!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

NAS: Dating Fast (or Slow)

We've all likely heard about them, but have you ever done one? If so, what was your experience? If you haven't, would you consider doing one? Why or why not?

Okay so I realize that the purpose of this topic is not the speed at which we date. But what if it was? Then I would say fast ... as long as the rules of discernment are being followed.

The point of a dating fast, like what Brenda over at Triple Braided Life talked about in January, is to deliberately take a break from dating to grow closer to the Lord and deepen your faith. The point is deliberately, right?

I've been doing this a lot minus the deliberate part, so I can't say that I've intentionally done a dating fast. I can see how it would be important for the culture we live in since there are so many crazy things that single people are expected to do and be. I think it's important to be deliberate and intentional in our dating. Why? Because it's preparation for the biggest decision of our lives.

Not to put a lot of pressure on it - and not to say that whether I go out for coffee with this guy or "provide a private tasting of my famous mac'n'cheese" to the one who asked me that on Sunday evening (and yes, that is a direct quote, that really happened) - is not the 'biggest decision of my life.' Where that leads to is the biggest life decision.

I was talking with a good, good friend of mine about some anxiety she was feeling in a relationship, and one of the things I pointed out was "yes, there's anxiety, it'd be weird if there wasn't - you're making a life decision with this guy - you've never made a life long decision before - everything else you've done has always had a way out, been for a short period of time, and yes might have an effect on your entire life, isn't a life long decision." This even applies to me buying my townhouse - that's not a life long decision. I can always sell it - can't do that with a husband - well, not legally or morally anyway.

Dating leads to making a life decision - so there's anxiety. This also necessitates some intention to the process. Saying yes to casual dates, but making sure it doesn't remain casual forever. 

That means if you need to take a break from dating - taking a fast, so to get your perspective in check on the situation, is a very healthy idea for your future marriage. The goal should be to become more deliberate and more intentional in making life decisions.

Anything that leads to us living an intentional life makes for a great decision!

Oh, and if you're wondering, I said no the the 'private tasting'...

Thanks to Jen for hosting this week and as always to Morgan for collaborating! 
See you next week for a better topic which I am much more excited about! 

Friday, February 27, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday ... February 27th

This has been the uneventful eventful week. Why you ask? Well yesterday was a snow day (and I still didn't write my quick takes or even work on the future weeks of the Latin & Me series, ugh! So it was eventful in the morning to make the declaration that there would be no events that day. I type that out and it's so ridiculous I should probably delete, but I won't because I don't have too much to say on this chilly, snow free morning!

Another installment of my journey toward the more traditional roots of the Church published yesterday. I wrote about how I started receiving communion kneeling rather than standing. One of the comments was that the EMCs at her parish have a really hard time giving communion on the tongue and are even sometimes confused. I can definitely relate. This is why, whenever possible, I try to get in the line for the priest. They seem to be the only ones who can get it right all of the time! No offense to anyone who is an EMC, I am - and I even have a hard time and almost always prefer to distribute in the hand.

I spent yesterday morning watching Season 6 of White Collar. I found it on Amazon Instant Video and had some free credit from when I installed a Health App on my phone that I never use, so I bought the season. It was crazy - and I don't want to spoil anything if you are a fan and haven't seen the final season - but it is good!


This week the NAS ladies and I wrote about Travelling alone. It was a fun post to write, although I think I had a different outlook than a few of the ladies. Three years ago I'm not sure I would have said to travel across continents alone, but now, since I've been to the jungle of the Congo on my own and came back alive, I have some different thoughts!

Did you have this rule when you were a kid? "If you're too sick to go to school, you're too sick to do anything else today." I did - and now it's creeping into my life as an adult in weird ways. Yesterday with all of the snow (the two inches rather than the 7 inches that was predicted), we had a snow day. The morning Mass was cancelled, but the 12:15pm Mass was not. The roads didn't look too bad by 11:45 and I was considering showering and going to Mass, but I thought, "if I can get there now to go to Mass, why are we off work?" I would have felt so guilty for going home afterward and having to explain why I wasn't there that I decided to stay home! Age old guilt! 

A bunch of us at Church are starting up a new social group for people in the 20s and 30s. Tonight is the kick-off event for Aquinas' Finest. Praying it goes super well!!!

Tomorrow MG and I are going to use some complimentary tickets a woman randomly handed me on Sunday for the Home and Garden Show. Maybe I'll get some great ideas for house decorations!

For more Quickity, Quick Takes, check out the gang with Kelly over at This Ain't the Lyceum!
See you next week, or stop by this week for more musings and antics!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Latin & Me, part 3

Well, here I am again to continue my series on my journey to an appreciation of the Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form and the overall use of Latin in the Liturgy. If you are just stopping by and want to read the first two parts, check out one and two.

This week I'd like to explore two things that both happened at our parish around the same time and were stumbling blocks for me. The first was the ceasing of distributing communion under both species at all Masses. The second was the addition of a kneeler in front of the altar to be used as an option for the reception of communion.

At our parish, as with many large churches in this area, we had distribution of communion under both species. This necessitated the use of many ministers - 14 for each Mass for our parish, in fact. Additionally, because of the flow issues created by the area of the choir with the Organ, a Piano, and many people, one quarter of our parish received communion by going to the back of the church. Basically the reverse of what happens at most parishes - protestant and Catholic for that matter.

This was one of the first changes that was made to our Liturgy - in the beginning of October, just 3 months into our new pastor's tenure. We changed the flow entirely to assure that all communicants were coming to the front of the Church to receive - approaching the altar, rather than the back door. To do this well, that meant that there could only be one person distributing communion in the front on the choir side. That logistical concern coupled with the desire to distribute under only one species created the need for only 4 EMCs (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion) at each Mass. There were a variety of responses including people feeling gipped from communion because now "they were only getting the body and not the blood", feeling useless as EMCs since their "service was no longer needed", and many others that I cannot speak to as I do not understand even a fraction of the logic. Additionally, this subject is still a point of contention for many people.

I was okay with being needed to serve less, I appreciate having the extra time in my pew after communion to spend in prayer. I was also okay with not being able to receive from the chalice each week - which might have been because the chalice was still used at Daily Mass - so I could receive under both species during the week when I attended Mass.

My hang up happened in June of the next year - just 5 to 7 months from when we first changed the entire flow. It was the feast of Corpus Christi and Fr. W decided to celebrate the feast by offering communion under both species so he began offering intinction at a front kneeler to anyone who desired to receive both the body and the blood of Christ. It was a special feast so I decided to go up that line for communion and received kneeling on the tongue - this was my first time, ever, I believe, to be honest.

The kneeler remained for Daily Mass that week and intinction was back the following Sunday for anyone who desired to get into that line, and honestly, I never looked back.

That summer I went to Brazil for World Youth Day and at all Papal Eucharistic Celebrations, the faithful are to receive on the tongue, a decision made a while ago that makes sense with the venue. This prevents abuses, the dropping of Our Lord into the sand never to be found again, and even people taking the hosts home or things like this. That week solidified my preference.

This I do believe is a preference. There are many practical reasons why it could easily be the norm all rooted in the logistics of having Our Lord in our hands. Just a few weeks ago a conversation with our Associate Priest enhanced my understanding reminding me that when we receive in the hand there will by the very nature of bread be crumbs in our hands after we consume the host. This then puts our Lord on hymnals, door handles, bulletins, garbage, people's heads, etc...

Why does this matter? Well, from what I was talking about last week - we are becoming one with the True Presence of Our Lord. The host is either Jesus or we are doing a lot of silly rituals to worship a piece of bread - and not a good tasting one at that. If it's Jesus, then He deserves the very best that we can give him. This means we receive communion as reverently as we possibly can with the most care to protect the dignity He requires.

I will reserve my thoughts on the chalice at this time, and maybe forever, as to not disgust you - but suffice it to say there is no other time, ever, where I would share a communal cup with 100 of my friends let alone strangers!

If you thought these points were areas of contention surrounding the Liturgy, come back next week for some thoughts on the integration of Latin Music and responses into the Novus Ordo (ie: the Mass most of us attend every Sunday). That is quite the heated debate!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

NAS: Travel

How do you travel as a single lady?! Any tips or tricks you'd like to share? Do you have anything fun planned for this year?

Multiple times per week when I'm brushing my teeth in the morning I think about how boring my life is, how I never go anywhere. To be honest that is a complete and utter lie. I mean between July 2013 and March 2014, I hung out on four different continents - let along the time I spent traveling around the U.S. to Denver, New York City, Savannah, Orlando, and my parent's place. I'm the girl who bought a plane ticket to Africa and went into the bush all alone. (it's a great story)

Let me type that again - I went to the Congo, alone!

I still can't even believe that I did that - it's the craziest thing ever ... but the most amazing experience of my life.

So my off the cuff tips for traveling alone, they aren't super original, so be prepared to be underwhelmed!
  1. If you want to go somewhere, just do it - buy the ticket! I was thinking of going to see my friend Elisabeth in Denver and was wavering back and forth for weeks. A volunteer in my office told me, "You're single, you have the vacation, you have savings for the ticket - just go. You won't regret going, but you might regret staying home." So if you have vacation & savings - do it! Life is about experience not wealth, not stuff, you'll have the memories of being in those places, visiting with those people, and experiencing the world forever!
  2. If you're going alone, be smart. There's no reason to be afraid, but a heavy level of fear so you are smart is good. Know where your bags are at all times, keep your money in a pouch underneath your clothes (if traveling outside of the states this is a must) or in your pocket, and be aware of your surroundings. Sit near people who look trustworthy. Stay awake in the airport, although I didn't listen to this piece of my own advice. I was so tired in Belgium (and cannot sleep on planes for anything) that I laid down on the floor at the gate and napped on my bag - pillow and blanket and all. There's no reason to avoid traveling (by plane, train, or car) just because you're alone. Being with a group is awesome, but when it's just you, you're more likely to get in to see tight spaces or sneak in the back end of another group.
Heading to Texas at Easter, Georgia for a family reunion in July, maybe the beach sometime in the summer, New York City in September to see my brother and Papa Frank, and next Summer to Poland!

Those are all the tips I can think of and need to get going on my passport renewal application! 

Check out the other ladies over at Morgan's and back to Jen next week for a fun topic that I really don't want to write about! Latin & Me, part 3 on Thursday back here!

Friday, February 20, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday ... February 20th

Well I missed the link-up with the Not Alone Series Gals this week, so I'm going to write about my Spiritual Reading books for my Quick Takes and make this a Double Take!

Prompt: What are some of your favorite or go-to books, devotionals or even blogs that help encourage you in your spiritual life?

I don't know how great I'll be at giving suggestions, but I do have a few in my mind to share about, so here goes nothing...

I've written about this book before, but in recent memory it's been very helpful. Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence.

The author discusses suffering a lot and how we get to where we are in the Spiritual Life. Some areas are a lot to take in, that all things are necessary and desired by God for our good. That's hard to handle a bit when we are thinking about bad things that happen to us. Overall the Lord wills the good in our life - the good that will get us to Heaven to be with Him for eternal life! Oh, and it's also just 99 cents on Kindle! A steal!

I spent almost a year reading this book when my friend Elisabeth gave it to me for a bday/Christmas present a few years back. St. Therese of Lisieux' The Story of a Soul is a beautiful story of her life. The amazing things that she went through, how she lived, the faith of her father, the encouragement of her sisters - all of this for a little soul so was just striving to get closer to Jesus and be with him forever. I think of her a lot when little things about people begin to annoy me.

I'm now reading this spiritual memoir about her book and so far, just two chapters in, it's good. A great reminder of the highlights of Therese's book!

I pretty much love reading anything about this particular Therese - she's one of my favorites!

Last year a friend and I read through this retreat book, Consoling the Heart of Jesus. A few years back at my former parish, I went to a retreat led by him and it was a lovely weekend. He uses a lot of Therese's theology and the Divine Mercy to walk us through a spiritual journey.

It is great for a weekend, a week, or a few months. I do recommend reading it with a friend so you can have great discussion!

This little book is my absolute favorite novena. The 54 Day Rosary Novena is a beautiful. The reflections for each of the mysteries provide much food for thought and keep my mind on track throughout the praying of the Rosary.

If you've never done it before, it's 27 days of Petition followed by 27 days of Thanksgiving. A powerful novena!

Last year a few of us from the Not Alone Series Facebook group read this book together. I have been reading Jennifer's blog, Conversion Diary, for years and was happy to read her spiritual journey. Since I have never experienced life as an atheist, I was happy to walk along with her journey toward the Church and learn a few new ways of thought as I went along!

The title of Something Other than God reminds me about how we are all searching ... and desperately hoping that something besides God will fill that hole in our hearts and lives.

My last Spiritual book is a comment on my Lenten Practice - beginning a year long process to read the entire Bible and Catechism of the Catholic Church. I'm two days in, ie: Genesis 1&2, Psalm 1&2, Matthew 1, CCC Intro through 10. Seems like it's going to take a while to get there, but I guess that's why there are 363 more days to the plan! If you want to join in - this is the reading plan I'm using!

See you next week for more quick takes and another installment in the Not Alone Series - oh, and part 3 of my Latin & Me journey!

For more Quickity, Quick Takes, check out the gang with Kelly over at This Ain't the Lyceum!
For more from the ladies in the Not Alone Series check out Jen this week (& Morgan too)!
See you next week, or stop by this week for more musings and antics!