In Favor of Singing at Mass

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I have always loved to sing. I joined the children’s choir as soon as I was able to do in elementary school and loved it. The highlight of my school years, really. I love singing at Church because it doesn’t involve performing at all. I’m not into acting or pretending to be someone I’m not, one of the main reasons Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday. I just prefer to be myself all the time.

Singing is praying twice. ~St. Augustine

I haven’t sung in the choir for quite some time, but I love singing at Mass. At one time or another I’ve loved every kind of music at Mass, but in the last few years my tastes have leaned toward the more traditional hymns and songs. At my parish we do a lot of latin, gregorian chant, and even polyphony. Our choir is quite amazing and honestly, our music is quite simple and incredibly beautiful.

However, it’s not everyone’s tastes – and that’s okay.

We do a lot of latin, at least two Mass parts are in latin each week. This week it was the Gloria and the Agnus Dei. We know the Sanctus as well and most recently we’re learning the Pater Noster. It takes a long time to learn, but our music director takes us through new Mass parts before Mass and longer songs, like the Gloria, we learned line by line over the course of about six weeks. At first people weren’t very excited, but I think they’re catching on now … or they just don’t come to our parish any longer.

I’ve always told teens the following when they don’t like singing at Mass and say they have a bad voice.

If you have a great voice, praise the Lord with it. If you have a not-so-great voice, torture him with it – he’s the one who gave it to you.

I think Steve Agrisano told us that at a retreat we had in high school once. But anyway, it’s always been my thought that, in general, most people can sing so just get over your yourself and sing out at Mass, it’s for the glory of God!

However, the last two weeks at Mass I haven’t been able to sing since I’ve been battling and then getting over the flu. Every time I spoke, I would just have a coughing fit, let along sing and then not feel like I was dying. So I just kept silent during Mass, hardly even responding. Full, Active, Conscious, Internal participation!

So I’ve noticed even more this one particular woman and her husband who sit near me each week. It’s hard to miss them because they’re about 2 to 3 minutes late every week. She comes in, hops over everyone to the middle of a pew and then about a minute later he comes in and does the same.

She loves to sing. She’s been gifted with a loud voice. She’s not been gifted with a voice that can match the note we’re singing. Today she and her husband were looking in the book for the Gloria, which we sang in Latin. I showed them my bulletin (where we print all of our music every week so it doesn’t need to be announced), and she pretty loudly replied, “I hate the latin” with a sneer on her face.

I was so self-conscious the rest of Mass, that she was looking at me or talking about me back and forth with her husband. So awkward … but they’ll probably be there, right in the pew near me again next week, singing out of tune.

I’m still settled on thinking that everyone should sing, no matter the quality of your voice – but we should try to blend together. Even if you have the best voice, it shouldn’t be discernable above and beyond everyone else’s in the congregation. Everyone should blend together to create a beautiful, joyful noise to the Lord. Remember, singing is praying twice!

 

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I Love a Good Mystery

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On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe I was invited over to a friend’s house for a mexican dinner celebration with her, her husband, and her little ones (three super cute boys and the sweetest little girl). I love going over to visit with them because her boys are so articulate, smart, and adorable. Her little girl is so sweet, and has three older brothers who will do anything to protect her! She and her husband gave me some new book recommendations. I love when friends recommend books and I’m always looking for recommendations. I want to read 175 books this year (I ended last year at 167 – and was only really trying to read for about half of the year) so I need me some recommendations!

I especially love series because I love following the story of a family or a person throughout a good portion of life. I feel like you get to know a character and then I don’t want to leave them. I’ve really loved the Baxter Family by Karen Kingsburgy and Love Comes Softly by Janette Oake. I begin 2017 by re-reading those books and loved them the second time through.

This year I started a few more series that I’ve loved. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery, the Virgil Flowers books by John Sandford, the Little House on the Prairie books, and right at the end Chief Inspector Armand Gamache by Louise Penny. I just finished the third in the series and love the mix of English and French (just a little French), the small town these murders happen in, Three Pines, and the character of Armand. He’s a strong main character who brings out the best in everyone.

The town where the murders in these first three books have taken place has also captured my heart. It feels like a place where I would live, if it wasn’t in the tundra of the great country of Canada. It’s not that I dislike Canada, I just hate all that snow.

But the town is filled with great people, sets of three pine trees, and a town square that is visible from everyone’s home. Their homes seem to be surrounding the main green space where they all gather. This latest novel takes place right around Easter. One year they begin the tradition of painting wooden eggs for the children to find. They hide these beautiful eggs all around the green space and it just sounds like such a quaint place to be. Maybe there’s a town like that in the warmer areas of the US that I can buy a house on the green in … probably wouldn’t be as friendly though. We’re not really know for how fantastically friendly we are, like our Canadian neighbors to the north are!

Off to reserve the fourth book at the library!

Oh 2018, the silence you bring…

My 2018 started so well and got off track so quickly … I’m calling a do-over next Monday!

I flew out on the 1st for Indiana for our annual Sales Kick-Off. With the holiday and the cold, it was quite the effort to get into the airport and off the plane. We had some “it’s too cold for us to be outside” issues as well as a lack of steering, which not super important in the air is, apparently, pretty important on the ground. Finally getting settled into my hotel room in the minus 28 degree weather (and no, we’re not talking celsius) I was ready for a super packed week!

We had a couple of working dinners, days of meetings with a few motivational “you’ve got this for 2018” cheers thrown in all with a team of people who we love but don’t see each other often enough. It is so nice to all be together when we work remotely. You can feel a little like a lone wolf out here when it’s just you and you don’t have person-to-person contact with your co-workers (don’t get me wrong, sometimes that is the best part of working remotely).

I came back from Indiana with the flu though and it’s had me down for three days now. In general I hate being sick, I mean who does really?

So I’m drinking OJ, dining on chicken soup and bone broth, eating vegetables, and not going outside. Oh, and also not talking, but that’s more by necessity rather than choice.

It’s a good thing my job doesn’t call for me to talk and coach people! HA!

Each time I answered the phone this afternoon, I croaked like a frog.

Not being able to talk is akin to torture for me. I can be silent for quite a while, but it’s better for me when it’s voluntary rather than demanded. This reminds me of the first three weeks of the year 2000. I had jaw surgery on December 29th or 30th that ended with me having my jaw wired shut for three weeks. I took the first week off school to adjust and to wean myself off the pain meds. Then I had two weeks in school where I couldn’t speak at all, well, not much at all.

I was a freshman in high school and couldn’t talk – it was torture. I have great teeth now, so it was all worth it – but having a physical ailment that prevents you from speaking is quite difficult. I am grateful that the side effect of the flu won’t last three weeks (well, let’s hope anyway). And I only have three meetings tomorrow where I’m supposed to be presenting…

Who’s the patron said of ailments of the throat? Oh, St. Blaise!! Come to my assistance!!

Goals for 2018

Blog Post Headings for new year 2018

It’s time to make some goals again! I read Finish by Jon Acuff this year so I think I’m ready to make some awesome goals and crush them! Jon says to accomplish your goals, you have to make them realistic (he says, make it and then cut it in half), plot some data points to track progress, get out of your own way by deciding what you’ll fail at, identify the secret rules that keep you from progressing, and most importantly, have fun! So here are my finish goals, some big and some small, for 2018! (You’ll notice that some are a big goal with small goals underneath them – this is going to be my key to success!)

  • Lose 15 pounds by…
    • Walking at least 8,000 steps a day according to my FitBit
    • Tracking my calorie intake via MyFitnessPal
    • Planning “mostly paleo” meals with RealPlans each week
    • Practicing Yoga 5-6 days a week via Bad Yogi classes (4 days on, 1 day off)
  • Read 175 books tracking via GoodReads and by…
    • Limiting television at home to none, at least until September
  • Spending more time with my family by happily attending the two trips we have scheduled (beach & orlando) and Christmas next year
  • Strengthen my friendships in Charlotte and outside by…
    • Go to Chicago for a visit with LK
    • Hosting at least two gatherings with friends at my house
  • Strengthen my relationship with the only man in my life, Jesus by…
    • Praying the Rosary each day
    • Participating in the Fatima processions from May to October
    • Attend Daily Mass & spend 15 minutes before with spiritual reading
  • Be creative at least 5 times a month by…
    • Trying at least one new recipe each week
    • Painting, Crocheting, DIYing, or something else either with friends or at home at least once a month
  • Blog 2 to 4 times a week

Some of these are things I tried to start in 2017 (or earlier) that I don’t want to lose track of in 2018, so they make the list! A few others are new.

The Holy Family

Reading: 1st Reading, option A Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14

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Today is the Feast of the Holy Family, one of my favorites. We are all part of a family. Some of our families are amazing, some not-so-much all the time. We are called to imitate the Holy Family though. When reflecting on the Holy Family I am reminded of something Mark Hart says a lot. He talks about how hard it was for Joseph with his son being divine and his wife being perfect. Mary may have burned the bread sometimes, but she was sinless. So if something went wrong, who was to blame? Not God, not the sinless virgin, but probably Joseph, the only one capable of sin. Although Joseph was very holy – the saints have said he’s one of the greatest Saints in Heaven!!

That’s just a humorous look back on the family as we reflect on ours. All of the members of our families are sinners, although sometimes they are reticent to admit it – I know I am. We are still called to imitate the Holy Family in our thoughts, words, and actions.

Today’s first reading from Sirach reminds us of this and also gives us a promise. The 4th commandment “Honor thy mother and father” is the only one with a promise to be delivered here on earth. The writer of Sirach says “kindness to a father [& mother] will not be forgotten.” The writer also tell us twice that if we honor our father “our prayers will be heard.” We also atone for our sins and will be gladdened by children.

We were given our families for a purpose, the purpose of making us holy. Reflect today on how you have been honoring your mother and father, and any siblings you have. Are you working toward making your family holy?

This first appeared on Carpe Verbum today.

In Favor of Cheesy Movies

There are so many good and terrible things on TV, hulu, netflix, amazon, etc. these days. As someone who’s favorite genre has been romantic comedies, I feel the need to defend them. We all know that the Hallmark Channel runs the cheesiest Christmas Movies during the entire month of December. Now I gave up watching TV (at home alone) a few months ago, so when I was at my parent’s house for Christmas, I was planning to soak up the movies. They are on 24/7 up there!

I had two things I really wanted to watch. The When Calls the Heart Christmas movie special and the Call the Midwife Christmas movie special. These are two shows I really like, and I happen to think they are well done for what they are. Great, feel-good shows.

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We got home from visiting my aunt ten minutes into the WCTH special and I wanted to watch. I was asked repeatedly, “are you actually watching this?” The answer was yes. I know it’s a cheesy show about the Canadian frontier, much of it is unrealistic, and the characters are very simple. Those are the three reasons why I love it so much. It’s nothing like real-life. Jack and Elizabeth just love each other, without complication, and have a fun romantic story.

It’s a feel-good show! And as a cheesy feel-good show, it’s excellent! Also, I’m allowed to like it and want to watch it! And you are too.

For me, watching TV shows or movies is a way to escape reality, not watch reality on the big screen. I can do that by watching the news or a documentary. I just want to feel warm and fuzzy inside.

So this week a friend and I are hanging out for days watching “girl movies” and enjoying each other’s company and her little boy’s hours-long fascination with peek-a-boo!

17 Things I Learned in 2017

17 things I

  1. The difference between shame (“I am bad”) and guilt (“I did something bad”) and that shame has no positive effect on society or a person’s behavior.
  2. Thinking that “someone is doing the best they can with the tools they have” is a better way to live than thinking “everyone is so stupid and doing foolish things on purpose to annoy me.”
  3. I can do something completely out of my comfort zone, like develop a brand new product that we are going to sell to thousands of Churches all over the country.
  4. I won’t be in sales for the rest of my natural days on earth (see point #3).
  5. I have amazing friends (well, I knew this but it was solidified this year).
  6. A trip to Europe is just a plane ticket away and easy to book!
  7. Greece is just as amazing and beautiful as all of the pictures you see online!
  8. Traveling isn’t something I want to do someday in the future, but right now today!
  9. If I breath deeply, I can work through conflict and confrontation in a healthy way that maintains the relationships.
  10. Feelings are valid and should be worked through, not dismissed as foolish.
  11. The way I think the world sees me is not the way the world actually sees me.
  12. When something goes happens you either “win” or “learn” – this way you always win.
  13. Just because I haven’t done something in the past doesn’t mean I can’t do something in the future.
  14. If I set a goal for myself, I can accomplish it from something as simple as walking 8,000 steps a day to developing a product that will change the way some parishes operate (see point #3).
  15. I don’t have to have an opinion about everything. It’s okay to say, “I don’t really know much about that, can you tell me more?”
  16. I can make it as a single person if I trust the Lord with my life today, and then again tomorrow, and then again the next day.
  17. My story hasn’t been finished yet, it’s really only just begun.