Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Apologies

I really shouldn't have to apologize for expressing what is true and correct in Catholic liturgy, in Catholic life.  But, I will, just in case I offend someone with my orthodoxy.  (Is sarcasm a sin?)  I am sad and I terribly miss the work of the people enacted in my old parish of St. Margaret's, Oceanside.  I miss the reverence.  I miss the strict adherance to liturgical norms and GIRM rubrics.  I long for the five Propers instead of the 4-hymn sandwich.  What I wouldn't give to hear a little Gregorian chant, in Latin, at Mass.  How I wish to attend a liturgy where the Kyrie isn't skipped (because of accident or choice) and liturgical dancers are not permitted in the Sanctuary (I am NOT talking about Basque people here, who have a cultural connection between worship and dance, by the way).  How pleased I would be if I could go to a church where it seems there weren't more EMHCs than people attending or where the pastor thought the best way to engage children in liturgy was to have children lectors who really have no business reading out loud in worship (and, really, shouldn't readers be fully initiated?).  I want go ta Mass where there isn't this unnatural desire to go up to Communion simply because everyone else is doing it but rather because people go because of proper disposition, where parents don't insist that their young ones under the age of reason go receive a blessing in the Communion line so the kiddos don't feel left out,where my family and I aren't made to feel awkward because we don't hold hands during the Our Father.  I'd love to step into a sacred environment where the liturgical colors aren't messed with, where there is a preponderance of permanent sacred art that negates the need for temporary banners, where choir members sitting in the front for the whole congregation to see don't fall asleep with mouths gaping during the homily, where the altar servers know precisely what to do and when to do it, where norms are followed and liturgical innovations are regarded like the pariahs they are. 

I am not perfect.  I don't expect liturgy to be perfect.  It is messy especially since it is a "work of the people."  But, I can dream, can't I?

My rant is now done.  :-)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Does it matter?

Does it matter that in my parish, the vestments and banners are so bluish purple during the season of Advent that most people think the color is navy blue?

The pastor says that he chose the more blue-purple to reflect the darkness of the wintery season, to more align the season of Advent to what we see in nature. On the other hand, the hoi poloi seem to think the color is blue to reflect the Marian nature of the advent season (I kid you not).  While this may seem like a matter of opinion, let's suppose for a moment that there is more to the symbolism than meets the eye.

The official, Vatican decreed color of the Advent season is violet. Granted, the hue values of violet vary greatly, depending on the "eye of the beholder" but suffice it to point out that when one thinks of violet, this is usually the color:                 or  maybe even              .  Not only does this color symbolize the penitential nature of the season of Advent, it also reflects the light we see in the sky, just before dawn.  In remembering John the Baptist's words, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30), and that Christ is the Light of the world, we can see how, maybe violet rather than dark purple or navy bluish purple may be a better choice.  Think of the dawn again...what colors are there?  Dark midnight blue, cobalt blue, violet.  That which is closer to the horizon is the color violet, right?  So if Christ is the dawning and his Light is what flashes when He is born, like the sun at sunrise, that time just before His birth, Advent, would be best symbolized through color as violet, the color closest to the horizon, the color closest to the light of dawn.

Think about the seasons...what happens from summer to winter?  The days get shorter and nights longer....less and less light.  What happens after the winter solstice (which, not so coincidentally happens just about the same time as we celebrate the Nativity)?  That's right.  The days get longer.  The light increases.  "He increases but I must decrease."  The Church has used nature, the changing of days to explain this concept. If December 25th is after the shortest day of the year, it would stand to reason, then that the light is increasing at this point.  It is not at it's darkest.  If we use dark-purplish-blue or navy blue, how are we conveying this concept of increasing light, of Christ increasing?

What does the change in light have to do with the Blessed Virgin Mary?

Furthermore, the US Catholic Conference of Bishops have declared that blue is illicit for liturgical use.

So, does it matter that in my parish, the vestments and banners are so bluish purple during the season of Advent that most people think the color is navy blue?  It absolutely does.  For one, it seems as though, by those in the know, who understand liturgically the difference between violet and dark, brooding purple, that the parish is snubbing the authority of the bishop.  Secondly, by not using a truer violet we are missing out on an opportunity to go deeper into the fullness of our liturgical faith, to catechize, to grow closer to Christ in one more way.

I may not be able to change any minds in this diocese but, I can properly educate my boys, in the hope that one day they will become liturgically astute priests and change the current culture, brick by violet brick.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls Day

Today is All Souls Day.  A day to remember and pray for the dead.  Dies irae, day of wrath.  A Christian holiday that has yet to be hijacked by secular society.  Lucky for us Catholics, regular folk have a mighty aversion to death, eternal options other than heaven, and any talk or celebration of it.  I don't believe that we'll be seeing Hallmark greeting cards specifically for November 2nd anytime soon...that is, of course, unless the economy tanks again and people are in a frenzy to make money any. way. they. can.  Pardon my cynicism.

I love All Souls day, not mainly for some altruistic spiritual reason, but mostly because it reminds me of my childhood and a yearly opportunity to do good for souls who did not ask for my help.   I have the fondest of memories of walking from the bus stop to the parochial school I attended from third through eighth grades and stopping in the church that was in the middle of that walk to pray.  To get down on my knees for all the souls in purgatory.  I remember a nun telling me that every minute I spent in prayer for the repose of those souls waiting to be fully reunited with Christ would release 1000 souls.  I vividly remember wondering that if one minute equaled one thousand souls and there were lots and lots of people, like me, praying for those souls, just how many souls in purgatory were there?!?  Must have been a lot.  For my part, I was able to intercede for the release of 15,000 souls each year and at the same time, feel completely inadequate that I couldn't have done more.  I would often wonder about the people whose pain was lifted from the donation of my indulgence earned.

Of course, I am older now and maybe a little wiser.  I understand that it is not clearly by my intercession that souls can enter the gates of heaven after passing through a cleansing pain after death and being purged of their imperfections.  Only God's grace and mercy can do that.  However, that does not mean that we should not pray for each other.  Whether the person we are praying for is in the here and now or deceased, collectively we are a corporate work created by the Father through Jesus and part of the Communion of Saints.  We all benefit from communication with God, and not just on special days like today.  It is indeed Christ's Will for us to pray for one another.

So today, I make this prayer...

Eternal rest grant to them, O God, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May all souls, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

NB:  For more information about purgatory and prayers for the dead, please see the Catholic Encyclopedia selection under the title "Prayers for the Dead" at:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints Day

I went to Mass this morning to celebrate All Saints Day with the school children of St. Mark's.  It was beautifully done.  The readers were well prepared the choir sang quite nicely.  The only thing I missed was hearing the Litany of Saints.  So, in honor of our saints, here it is:

All holy men and women, pray for us!

Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallows Eve

All Hallows Eve, Hallow'een...

No doubt, there are many Christians who will not be celebrating what our culture knows as Halloween tonight, for fear the practices are steeped in the paganism of the past.  While those brothers and sisters in Christ have a point, our little flock of four, on the other hand, has taken a slightly different approach.  Rather than avoid the festivities, we have changed our perspective.  Gone from our decorating are all cultic symbols and gory details of death frequently used this night:  witches, goblins, monsters, ghoulish music, creepy crawlies.  What we do have are scarecrows, smiling pumpkins, stars, lights.  Scarecrows to remind us that we ourselves, through holy living, can scare away evil, smiling pumpkins to remind us that though we face great darkness every day, we can smile knowing that it is God who has our backs, stars to remind us of that great star that led the wise kings to Jesus and that we should be following the light to Him, lights because He is the Light of the world.

Someday, too, when I have more backbone,  I'd like to distribute holy cards with the treats to the children who come to our door. Simple ones depicting the meaning of All Saints Day...the real meaning of Halloween.

It's been ages...

I know, it's been a while since I've last written in this blog.  It seems life and my other blog, sarrasmurf (dot) blogspot (dot) com, has been taking up much of my time lately.  Not ones to sit on the sidelines of our faith, the family has gotten deeply involved in parish life.  My oldest son is a freshman at the only Catholic high school in Idaho, is a Boy Scout with the parish troop and is undergoing immediate preparation classes for confirmation (he will be confirmed in May 2012).  My youngest son is a fifth grader at St. Mark's school and sings with the school Mass choir.  Carl and I have jumped right in and are not only teaching one of the Confirmation preparation sessions, we are leading a weekly teen bible study based on Sunday's readings.  I have also been volunteering at the boys' schools, singing in the choir, cantoring occasionally, and will be helping out at the American Heart Association "Go Red" Luncheon this week.  We've been busy, busy, busy and life is rushing full speed ahead.

With all this "doing" it's been a bit difficult just "being."  Since finding out that our parish has a Perpetual Adoration Chapel, I've felt a longing to spend more time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.   Yet, I have allowed myself to get so busy that I'm finding it nearly impossible to break free from my hectic schedule to even pray a 10 minute Divine Mercy chaplet at His feet.  Seriously?  Ten minutes and I can't do that?  Sheesh!  What's wrong with me?!?

It looks like it's time to be a little less like Martha and more like Mary.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Having some difficulty with the contradictions

It's very strange to be in a diocese where the Masses I've gone to in three parishes have been less reverent, pious, beautiful and mysterious than I've become accustomed to yet an orthodox, faithfully Catholic radio station thrives and will celebrate its second anniversary this weekend.  I'm finding difficulty in wrapping my head around the idea that within a parish, the uber-traditional practice of around-the-clock adoration coincides with liturgical and theological liberties taken during liturgies by the priests.  I walk into the churches and they are traditionally styled, complete with cruciform architecture, icons, stained glass, yet the music is mostly contemporary, the organ sits idle, a gaggle of EMHC form a semi-circle behind the altar before the priest takes communion and the clergy actually say "thank you" to the congregation after we respond "and also with you."  (If it were in Latin, would the priest say "gratias?")  I'm feeling a bit lost in reconciling the two extremes in my head and I just can't figure out how the two can coexist.  Well, that is just silly...I know why they can coexist...the Holy Spirit can make anything holy, despite what we humans do to muck up our worship experience.

I'm hoping that when the new translation is actively used this Advent, "say the black, do the red" becomes the norm.  Maybe from there the rest of the contradictions will resolve.  Until then, my faith and hope will be sustained in the fact that no matter what the liturgical environment, Jesus is still present at every Mass (and in the perpetual adoration chapel just next door).

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bored...what's a mom to do?

I find myself sitting at a picnic table in the middle of a very lively night-slide at a local water park. My husband and kids are off on different directions and I'm alone and kinda bored wondering what to do. I have my camera but can't find the loved ones I want to take pictures of. Well, that's the beauty of being a Catholic mom. While I'm waiting I can spend a few quiet moments in the center of chaos in prayer. I've caught up on my novena to St Cecilia and I will start a rosary next. I love that I can spend time in communication with Jesus no matter where I am.

Well, it looks like I'll be holding off on the rosary...Damien's arrived and he wants a corn dog.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Friendliness, Compassion and Kindness

I just moved to Meridian Idaho.  This is a place where, it seems, that friendliness, compassion and kindess are instilled from birth, in the people who reside here.  It is not just a way of making a sale, but a way of making life.  I have found that Meridian's citizens truly care about how you are rather than who you are.  There's no "keeping up with the Joneses," no road rage, no undue competition for your attention, no unnecessary hurry in this town of combined farmland and city dwelling.  Churches giving worshippers of every Christian denomination a home and community abound on large plots of land and are busy feeding their flocks many times during the week, not just on Sundays. 

Where you have to be reminded where God is and who to trust, say on the main drag in and through Las Vegas... can see God herein all the genuinely friendly, compassionate and kind people of Meridian.

I am looking forward to living simply Catholic here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Music or the Eucharist?

So what's more important at church?

Father's most entertaining sermon?

The beautiful art and stained glass (or lack thereof)?

The really cool programs that "engage" our youth?

Songs we can sing, or even like to listen to?

Or is it the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?

A no-brainer right?

It would be simply amazing if all Catholics, laity and clergy alike, understood the real reason why we worship the way we do.

Certainly aesthetics play a big, big part in how we worship. But, to dwell on what might seem the negative aspects (Father's long homily, the "style" of music, the way people dress to go to Mass, etc.) to the exclusion of recognizing the greatest miracle that happens at EVERY Eucharistic liturgy is to deny the why and Who.

This has become especially clear to me as, much to my previous yet unwarranted chagrin, I was moving from a traditionally-styled church with an equally-styled "traditional" liturgy (where doing things "by the book" and in Latin were the way) to something decidedly more "contemporary." If I had judged a book by it's cover, in this case, I might have run away, holding my very sad but close-minded head in sorrow, from a very holy parish with a very holy man at its helm.

So what if the pastor doesn't wear a cassock, or a Roman collar outside of the liturgy? Here, my new parish provides Eucharistic adoration 24/7...24/7! So what if the music comes from the major Catholic publishers with a more "in-style" style? This new parish of mine sings the ordinaries in Latin during Latin during Lent! So what if they offer a "teen Mass" with a band at the last Mass on Sunday evening? Here, this surprisingly wonderful parish utilizes both a cantor AND a psalmist as to not put the focus on one person as well as keeping the music from becoming a performance...cantor AND psalmist!

This tremendously active parish also runs the second-largest food bank in the state, supports a parochial school, has CCD sessions on three separate days to accommodate everyone, and has a benefactor, so dedicated, that many of the stained glass windows have been installed in this relatively new church building.

Best of all, however, is the fact that, despite the entirety of what mere humans have projected into the parochial community, Jesus...JESUS...comes to this bit of Heaven on earth at every Eucharistic feast and can be found in the Blessed Sacrament chapel at all times, waiting to be worshipped and adored.

UPDATE (11/8/12):  Well, the honeymoon is now over at this parish I'm at.  It is true that there are many wonderful things about my parish.  And, while it is the compete Truth that the Eucharist is the ultimate goal of parish life, it must be said that liturgy must be done according to the rubrics to enable people to worship properly and without obstacle.  While I can get over poor homilies or banal music at Mass or even that the priest wears birkenstocks and street clothes, the fact that the pastor does not wear clerical garb at all outside of Mass and prefers not to be called "Father" but rather by his first name only only give rise to confusion and conflict.  His refusal to be identified as a priest outside of Mass is just a subtle sign of bigger problems...oh, like non-submission to church authority, rubrics or the magisterium, the blurring of Catholic teachings, the summary dismissal of concerns of the faithful who have a right to and request authentic liturgy, and quite possibly the big H...heresy.  This is a priest who has been told by a staff member he is no longer allowed to teach RCIA because his opinions (which do not jive with the Church) confuse the candidates, this is a pastor who continually refuses to say certain words that were changed with the new translation because HE believes them to be heretical (though 2000 years of church history and a bunch of well-renowned theologians beg to differ), this is a leader who allows all sorts of ugly and illicit practices creep into our liturgy because he believes he is being ecumenical and shepherding, this is a member of the clergy who never speaks of sin and I question whether he even believes that there is a hell and that we can go there by our own choosing if we turn away from God.  Beware of namby-pamby, weak shepherds...they may just lead the sheep to the wolves.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I recently read a qutote, which I believe came from Dante's goes something like this: "In Your Will, O Lord, is my peace." It has become my mantra of late. With all the craziness of a two week escrow during Holy Week (of all weeks), I would have expected things to be chaotic and unrestful. But, it is in the recognition that it is His Will that we were able to sell the house for a fair price, or even at all in this sluggish market, and so, I am exceedingly peaceful.

The other powerful force guiding and grounding me is prayer. Constant prayer. The kind of prayer that has me in a continual conversation with my ultimate Beloved. I've been seeking the Lord while He may be found, calling to him while He is still near, thanking Him for His tender mercy, and pleading for answers to that age old question, "What exactly would you have me do with my life, dear Lord?" Not that He's been totally specific with the "what," mind you, but at least I now know the "where."

Rounding out that perfect trifecta which gives me solitude in a nebulous and noisy life is the ability to take afternoon naps. You may scoff but I would suggest that one should not underestimate the fortitude that comes from curling up in rays of sunshine streaming through a window and catching some most needed zzzz's. The short episode of sleep does much to lift the fog and make everything which seemed insurmountable, actually quite achievable.

Peace, prayer and version of the best antedote to a hectic life.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hope is...

A man clinging to his rooftop being rescued after his house was swept nine miles out to sea.

A father clinging to his newborn son, grateful that he and his young family were able to heed the tsunami warning and get to higher ground.

The polite resignation of the Japanse people that though the center has run out of supplies, more is on the way.

A brother who has hit rock bottom, formerly finding solace in the bottom of a bottle, now healing in a rehab center, finding comfort in prayer and sobriety.

Less than stellar job offers and tightening finances which point to another plan, not of our making but of His.

Positive feedback of a potential sale...though they love the house but not the colors of the walls, they say it's only paint, after all.

Jesus on the cross and the empty tomb.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Awesomely terrifying...

Amazing, stupefying, hair-raising, devastating, horrifying.

Water wreaking havoc of epic proportions. Moving plates liquefying what was assumed to be solid.

Worst fears realized for many people, even deeply affecting some who live thousands of miles away from ground zero.

Forces of nature serving reminders that we are small and physically powerless against the sheer brutality this earth can unleash.

Images bored into my humbled head that will never, NEVER be forgotten.

Water saves, water kills.

I am on my knees...