31 May 2003

Incidentally, you know you're a Catholic nerd when...
...you and your sweetheart, currently separated by many miles, think it's lovely and romantic to arrange to go to adoration at the same time at your respective parishes. And your sweetheart refers to it as a double-date with Jesus.
For those of you who haven't yet noticed the links to the left of these lovely and I'm sure very enlightening posts, I would suggest you visit them, as most of them are much more enlightening than I am, if, perhaps, not as lovely. (I'm a very vain and conceited girl, and take a look at my website if you don't believe me. Especially the pictures.) The blogs of the guy with glasses and my sweetheart are not terribly enlightening except insofar as they give you a glimpse into the minds of two of my best friends. Come to think of it, you may not want to visit those links, after all. You might get scared and not come back. I know I feel like my education is being furthered by the Accidental Choir Director and the Curt Jester, though; the Curt Jester on every subject under the sun, and the Accidental Choir Director on the subject of sacred music in a more "real" setting than the one in which I have become immersed at college.

The chant Mass at our lovely Jesuit university is rather unique. The regular congregation is extremely small, consisting of not more than 25 people. The musicians are all of professional quality, with the possible exception of the organist who has promise but doesn't practice as often as he should (though who among us does?). We also have quite a number of priests around who are capable of chanting Mass, which is also not the norm. This combination of circumstances creates a lovely Mass, but not a Mass of the sort that could be practiced in most normal parishes. How many parishes could have a Schola of ten or twelve professional-quality singers, all of whom are dedicated to Gregorian chant and renaissance polyphony? I'd guess not too many. So, the Accidental Choir Director, even though he too is working at a university, shows me what the possibilities and frustrations are of someone who loves the ancient music of the Church but is in more, well, normal circumstances. The circumstances in which I shall most likely find myself at the end of my time at the university I currently attend. Sometimes I find it depressing, other times, encouraging, but always educational. I now have lots of material with which to pester the pastor and music director of my parish at home. Fr. Kalil's taste in music runs in the direction of white gospel, which to my mindset, is decidedly the wrong direction. I don't mind that he likes it, I just mind that he brings his personal taste to Mass with him and expects other people to like it too. Have I mentioned yet that he likes to get the congregation to clap along?

Ok, now it's time for the rant to really begin. I'm going to be the cantor for the 5pm Mass tomorrow. The situation has changed in the past year since I was a regular cantor at this parish. As I said in a post a few days ago, the OCP hymnals are gone. Every week, a "worship aid" is printed up (I think this is terribly misnamed; it doesn't aid me in worshipping at all) with the music for that day. Readings too, presumably--I haven't yet had the opportunity to examine one thoroughly. The organist for tomorrow is also not a regular at the parish; she's from another church upvalley and was called in as a sub. (She actually got called first and requested to work with me because she likes my voice and says I'm very professional and easy to work with. Isn't that nice?) Until this evening, I hadn't had the opportunity to talk to her about tomorrow. She called me tonight and started to suggest songs, which startled me. Our wonderful and very communicative (detecting sarcasm yet?) director of music had not informed her of the new music situation. He picked out songs for us, and ok'd them with me, and the misnamed documents are probably already printed. And he never told her. She doesn't even know some of the songs he chose.

Obviously we're going to be reciting the Gloria tomorrow evening, as I don't like the setting he chose and she doesn't even know it. We'll pull it together somehow, and the congregation may have to just watch because we will have to substitute for the things the organist doesn't know. I think that, at least from an aesthetic standpoint (and I'm all about aesthetics) a silent and rapt congregation is better than a struggling organ accompaniment and a consequently confused congregation, though you're free to contradict me if you feel otherwise. It'll be all right, I guess. The congregation and the two associate pastors just love me. I think the pastor doesn't like me much because I say things that make him uncomfortable, but he respects my gifts and the fact that the congregation seems to appreciate what I do, so future such jobs for me are not going to be forfeit if I do something "unorthodox" tomorrow. Although, my unorthodoxy is more orthodox than their orthodoxy, if you catch my drift.

30 May 2003

Happy 129th Birthday to Gilbert Keith Chesterton! Why am I saying happy birthday to him? If you have to ask, see post of 20th May.

Apparently, someone is planning a musical version of the Lord of the Rings. Reuters article here
This is just wrong. There is no way! Ugh. I can't speak anymore on this topic.

This cheers me up, though. "Watch me smoulder..."

29 May 2003

I'm feeling restless, and I'm not sure why. It may have something to do with suddenly starting to think about religious life again, which I haven't thought about for almost two months now. I don't really know what my vocation is. I went for 8 years almost sure that God was calling me to religious life, and my suspicions were only confirmed by the fact that I never really had any opportunities for romance. But now I do have that opportunity, and like most healthy 18-year-olds I jumped at the chance, and it doesn't feel wrong. But how much should I trust my heart and how much should I trust my head? Trusting the signs is, at this point, out of the question, as I'm starting to think that every bird that lands in the tree outside my window is trying to tell me something. I guess I just have to keep asking God to hit me over the head with a 2x4, as Christopher West would say, and hope that eventually it penetrates my inordinately clouded intellect. Or maybe I just need to sit tight and try to keep an open mind. The Master seems to have a propensity for only lighting one step of the path at a time, much as we'd like to see the whole path. It's just so hard for me to get used to walking that way.

27 May 2003

Mass yesterday was interesting. Our Lady of the Pines is one of the mission churches of a neighboring county, and is served by a priest who also serves two other mission churches nearby, St. Joseph's and Our Lady of the Lake. Our Lady of the Pines consists of a small structure, open on one side, which houses the altar, ambo, and priest's chair, with a sacristy in the back. With absolutely no shelter but the trees above are the rows of white-painted wooden pews and kneelers where the congregation sits. The highway is about forty feet behind the structure which houses the altar. The priest pauses when motorcyclists go by because the congregation cannot hear him over the roar of the engines. It is in operation from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and this is the way it has been for twenty years. There is a new priest almost every year, and sometimes visitors. You never know who will be saying Mass. The priest this week announced that St. Joseph's is petitioning to be made a parish, and if their request is granted, the pastor will of course continue to serve Our Lady of the Pines and Our Lady of the Lake. They also want to build a community center and a new church for St. Joseph's because the current church is too small and there is no parking lot.

Please pray for the success of this community. The county has the highest percentage of people on welfare in the state. It is quite a depressed area, but the Catholic community there is strong and I think they will do well if they can maintain that sense of unity. Our Lady of the Pines is a beautiful place. Since I'm of Celtic origin, I might say it seems to be one of the "thin places," where the veil between the worlds is thin and nearly transparent. "Otherworldly" would be a more common term, I suppose. For walls, tree trunks; for a roof, tree branches; for stained-glass windows, the light shining through the green leaves; for musical accompaniment, bird songs and a babbling brook. I'm not advocating this as how all churches should be (the car noise from the highway and the dirty pews being examples of the problems), as the architecture of man is beautiful and worthy. But it was lovely to spend some time in a church whose architecture was mostly of God's design.

23 May 2003

you're a harp!

what musical instrument are you, eh?
brought to you by Quizilla

Ok, I wasn't going to post goofy quiz results. But I actually got this result, which amuses me, and I think the picture may be of the same model harp that is sitting in the next room. Besides which, hardly anyone ever includes the harp in all these "What instrument are you?" things, which kinda hurts, but I understand. I'm thrilled to see it here. We harpists are a unique breed, set apart from other stringed instruments. I mean, think about it. No one knows what category to put it in. Technically it belongs with plucked strings, but the other inhabitants of that category are the guitar and banjo, which it doesn't really resemble. Harp is closer to a piano than it is to a banjo, thank you very much. It's closest relative is the lyre, but you don't see many of those kicking about nowadays. Probably it's closest relatives after the lyre are the dulcimer family, but you don't see many of those either. And how would you classify a hammered dulcimer anyway? Before I go off completely on interesting stringed instruments or the history, construction, repertiore, and myths and legends of harps, I should probably stop. If you want to pick my brain about harps, post a comment.

22 May 2003

Spent all of 20 minutes outside yesterday. I had my sunglasses, but not a hat. The bright sun and hot weather took their toll; I had a headache and was crabby the whole evening. Apologies to Mama and Papa.

Got a phone call on Tuesday from the Headmaster of my alma mater asking me to sing at the baccalaureate Mass...tomorrow. His vision was to have former choir members sing a prelude, and to have me organize it. (Me? Organize something? Naw, no one ever asks me to do that!) I couldn't get a hold of him to discuss it until this morning. Unfortunately, between the people I don't want to work with and refuse to ask, the person who has to work, and the person told the Headmaster she'd sing but who hasn't been home all day and apparantly doesn't have an answering machine, it looks like I'm doing a solo. As much as I loved that school, I remember why I was glad to graduate. Gah! Organization? In advance? What do those mean? Wait, wait--just got a hold of the girl who wasn't home. We've agreed that with just two of us, there's no point, and since it's only a prelude, no one will miss it. I don't really feel obligated to the school anymore, but I'm so conditioned into saying, Yes Headmaster, of course, Headmaster, anything you say, Headmaster, that I have a hard time saying no. So she's going to call him and say no for me. *big grin* Problem solved.

I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow. Grumble grumble. Nothing serious. I have to get a prescription refilled and the bottle says "0 refills left." So I have to talk to the doctor. My first appointment since my 18th birthday, so this will be my first time seeing a doctor who is not a pediatrician. My mother asked if I was ok with going by myself. "Yeah, I'm a big girl." I said. I'm a bit surprised that I'm not really nervous. For as long as I can remember, the thought that I might have to talk to a stranger absolutely paralyzed me. I've made leaps and bounds in the past two years. I can now enter a store and make a purchase by myself, I can ask a clerk to show me where an item is if I can't find it myself, and I can speak to a waiter in a resaurant in a voice that is actually audible. I'm becoming a normal, nearly independant human being. Well what do you know. And yes, once upon a time I was incapable of doing those things. It frustrated my parents no end that at the age of 16 I could barely make phone calls even to people I knew or go to a party by myself. I can do those things now. I'm not shy anymore. I'm still reserved, but that is different. That has more to do with pride than fear.

Next weekend I'm the cantor for the 5pm Saturday Mass. I don't get to choose my own music because they have to make the "worship aides" that have now completely replaced the OCP missals and hymnals which formerly graced our pews. Believe it or not, getting rid of the OCP books has not improved the music. It's actually gotten worse, which I hadn't thought possible. Tony said that he would choose "conservative" music for me, though. (Chant? Only in my dreams.) I've been emailing him articles about Gregorian chant and quotes like the one from Cardinal Ratzinger in which he says, "Rock music is intrinsically opposed to Christian worship," ever since I've been at college. He gets the point, that I'm not happy with what's going on. But he hasn't done anything to change. I think the pressure from our pastor (whose taste in music runs toward white gospel and who actually encourages the congregation to clap along with livelier numbers) is too much for him. He claims to be "hooked on Christian praise music" but I can see the weariness in his eyes and manner. He's hooked on keeping his job.

21 May 2003

I'm too lazy to come up with anything even as boring as what I've been posting. So, for those who happen to read this, here are a few of my favorite quotes:

From G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy:

The devotee is entirely free to criticize; the fanatic can safely be a sceptic.

Every man who will not have softening of the heart must at last have softening of the brain.

Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to suit our vision. Progress does mean (just now) that we are always changing the vision.

Silly examples are always simpler.

From other Chesterton work:

They think us barbarians because we cling to the past. We think them barbarians because they do not cling to the past. (Time's Abstract and Brief Chronicle)

Dogmas are not dark and mysterious; rather, a dogma is like a flash of lightening--an instantaneous lucidity that opens across a whole landscape. (Chesterton on Shaw; the Irishman)

Music is mere beauty; it is beauty in the abstract, beauty in solution. (Chesterton on Shaw; the Critic)

The vessel was just comfortable for two people; there was room only for necessities, and Flambeau had stocked it with such things as his special philosophy considerd necessary. They reduced themselves, apparently, to four essentials: tins of salmon, if he should want to eat; loaded revolvers, if he should want to fight; a bottle of brandy, presumably in case he should faint; and a priest, presumably in case he should die. (The Sins of Prince Saradine, from The Innocence of Father Brown)

From People Who Are Not G.K. Chesterton:

The freedom of the liberal arts consists in their not being disposable for purposes, that they do not need to be legitimated by a social function, by being "work." (Josef Pieper, Leisure, the Basis of Culture)

Why lose your temper if by doing so you offend God, annoy other people, give yourself a bad time, and have to find it again in the end? (St. Josemaria Escriva)

Lord, make us crazy with that infectious craziness that will draw many to your apostolate. (St. Josemaria Escriva, "The Way")

Sometimes the message of the Holy Spirit to those who have ears to hear is that the thing they are being told is a load of rubbish and they would be better off in the pub. (Amos, a poster on the website Ship of Fools, which I highly recommend)

If this is how You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few of them. (St. Teresa of Avila, who happens to be my patroness, yay!)

All right, enough. You get the point that I've read a lot of Chesterton and like him. (Got 14 volumes of the Collected Works for my birthday two years ago and have worked my way through about four of them.)

18 May 2003

Toasted the Holy Father with apple cider after dinner. Then tried to walk in from the backyard and tripped on the back steps. Could I stub my toe like a normal person? Nope, because when you're weird like me, you can't even get hurt in normal ways. Caught my toes on the stairs and skinned the underside of two of my toes. Good grief. You probably didn't need to know that, but I thought I'd tell you anyway.

This afternoon was interesting. I had my first proposal of marriage. No, it wasn't from my sweetheart. I took my mentor and his wife up on their offer to "drop by." I called first, of course, because that's how I was raised. They said a lot of people drop by unnanounced and uninvited, and Mr. Riley grumbled that some of them even stay a few days. I just was not brought up to do things that way, though. As a visitor, you don't want to inconvenience other people. I apparently wasn't inconveniencing them, though. I stayed for two hours, and they seemed sorry to see me go. Mr. and Mrs. Riley were lovely and hospitable, and their three children not badly behaved. They weren't lovely and quiet, but at 6, 4, and 3, lovely and quiet would have been very surprising indeed. The three year old, a boy, is absolutely charming and I think handsomer than the other two. He has an extremely sweet smile, and a sweet disposition too, at least as long as he's getting his way, but that is normal for three year olds. He was shy and didn't even want to come out of his room at first, but eventually he warmed up. He came out and sat on his mother's lap and smiled at me. His 6 year old brother teased him about liking me and told him to come give me a hug, but he shook his head and said no. After about half an hour, he did come over and give me a hug, and then another hug, and then he sat on a chair about his size and faced me. His parents and siblings and I were carrying on about three conversations, but he looked at me, smiled his adorable smile, and said "Will you marry me?" I said, "I think you're too young for me." Then he asked me how old I was, and I told him, and then our little conversation got interrupted by his brother announcing to their parents what was going on. It was so cute, really. The little guy didn't want me to leave--he asked if I would eat dinner with them, and when I said no he asked me to come back tomorrow, and then his mother suggested that he just request that I come back soon, to which I relented. So, my first proposal at age 18, and it's from a three year old who can't even say my name correctly. We do have the same birthday, though. And his brother now says I'm Ben's "girlfwend." I wonder if my sweetheart will object to his competition.

By-the-by, Mr. Riley has now published an ebook of his poetry.
First things first: Happy Birthday Pope John Paul II!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that's done, I can complain about Mass today. It was First Communion for the CCD kids--75 of them, and of course they all processed in and processed out and their entire families were there. Many of them are Hispanic, so when I say "whole family" I mean about 20 family memebers per kid. So the church, which holds 1,500 people and is rarely full, was very nearly full today, and the processions all took a very long time. We sang nine verses of the entrance hymn, which was rather boring as the hymn only had three verses. Fr. Raul's homily appeared to be a call-and-response affair. "Every time I say the words 'the Body of Christ,' I want to you say 'amen!'" (Puts hand to ear) Congregation shouts: "Amen!!" So we shouted "amen" about every minute and a half, because of course his homily was on the Eucharist. I suppose his comment that the Eucharist is better than ice cream might appeal to young children, but I think it also underestimates their understanding of what the Eucharist is. Then again, maybe I'm naive. Anyway, someone started clapping during the rather upbeat offertory hymn, with several others joining in, and one of the communion hymns was a gospel tune. So, people shouting "amen!" at random intervals, clapping during songs, and gospel music... Does this sound like a description of a Catholic church to you? Because it doesn't to me.

There were a ton of extraordinary ministers. More than they actually had use for, apparently, because three who had chalices didn't seem to know where to go and ended up just coming back to the table by the tabernacle. I noticed that one place where someone with a chalice ought to have been was deserted. There were two liturgical dancers in white dresses with blue sashes and bare feet who carried some banners in procession, but I never saw them do any actual dancing, thank heaven. Not only was it strange, it was badly organized.

The first communicants received Our Lord in the hand, not on the tongue. I was shocked. At my First Communion, at the same church albeit 11 years ago, we were told that while we could choose afterwards to receive in the hand, that this special day, the first time, we must receive on the tongue. I nearly always receive on the tongue now (except when i find myself facing the Down's syndrome extraordinary minister--I tried it once, confused him, and he dropped the host, and I'd prefer not to have to pick Our Lord up off the floor), and I find the symbolism much richer. On a more practical level, while feeding onesself is a common activity, having something placed in your mouth by another person is not. You have to pay attention. Forcing the child to pay attention to what is happening is definitely not a bad thing. I'm not entirely sure I'd reached the age of reason when I made my First Communion. I had white gloves and Sr. Joyce told me I had to take my gloves off before I went up to communion, and I asked her why it mattered, since I wasn't going to touch the host. She told me "do it anyway" and I did. That's all I remember of the day. I don't remember the Mass at all. I really don't think the children who received today should have been allowed to receive in the hand. There is something special about receiving on the tongue, and as most of them will choose to receive in the hand for the rest of their lives, they may never have that expericence and will not know its joy. It's sad, really.

Somehow, I barely feel like I've been to Mass today. I will say some extra prayers or something. For the souls of the "liturgists" who designed that extravaganza, for the souls of the composers who wrote that music, and for myself, that I will have charity in my future dealings with these people and will not think too ill of them. Perhaps I shall also pray that I be given a sweet and persuasive tongue with which to persuade them that this is not the path to beautiful and reverent liturgy, and that their ears will be open to my pleas.
*Rant* I wanna talk to my sweetheart and he's not online! And now it's too late to call because his parents will be asleep.

I've been reading odd fanfiction. Someone decided that the Forbidden Forest backs up to Lantern Waste and has been melding the worlds of Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia. He's clever, but this is land where angels fear to tread, and for good reason. Harry Potter stories are not supposed to contain religious imagery, and the Narnia stories are all about religious imagery. I think his fanfiction is betraying both authors. I have to admit, though, that I do like the fact that he has Harry ending up with Ginny instead of Cho. :) But Harry as King of Narnia? Uh, no, I don't think so. Let's leave that to High King Peter, shall we?

Whoa! *sudden realization* Just figured out why High King Peter is named Peter. And Lucy means "light." Good grief. Now I want to go look up the meanings of all the names. Can't believe I've missed that for so long. I guess that's why I'm still a student, now isn't it?

17 May 2003

Heeheeheehee! *impish laughter* I'm such a cornball. *sings* I'm as corny as Kansas in August...
I sent a package to my sweetheart two days ago and he got it today. I had only intended to send him some books, but the box wasn't full and I didn't have much in the way of packing materials available. So I went rummaging around in my room and what do you know, I found a teddy bear that my godmother brought me from Germany. I was rather attached to it, so I didn't want to give it to him outright, but I decided to send it along anyway with a note that the bear was "on loan." Since the bear didn't have a name, I asked sweetheart to name him. So now I have a teddy bear that's a few hundred miles away, wearing leiderhosen, and is named Heinrich. I thought a bear in leiderhosen was rather appropriate, as he likes polka music. It's an illness of which I hope to cure him, or at least replace it with something I like better, like Irish dance music. Well, we use accordions too...

Went back to my high school today to visit. Chatted and, well, gossipped I guess, with the nice lady who works in the office for a while. Found out that the Class of 2003 were up late last night filling the school office with balloons. Heaven knows who they got the keys from. Then they all took off and went to the beach today. I haven't decided whether they are less mature or more inventive than my class. The Class of 2002 was so ready for college by the end of senior year that when senior skip day came, we just stayed home. I think most of us slept. We didn't play a prank. Of course, I went to say hello to my favorite teacher, of whom I am extremely fond. I saw his wife in the post office when mailing the package to my sweetheart and she said I should come down to their house sometime. He repeated the invitation today, and gave a slightly more definite time frame by making it clear that he'd like to see me again before they leave for New York to attend his step-son's graduation from West Point. They leave next weekend, which means I have to drop by next week. Apparently people from the school drop by all the time. It's a very small school and we're all quite close. I was never very social in high school, though, and I suppose I'm the only one who hasn't been to their house. I'm nervous, though. I have to announce my arrival by calling first, and I've never called their house. Then I have to go. A lot of people live there. Mr, Mrs, their 3 kids, Mrs' adult daughter, and Mrs' parents. And I only know Mr. well, although I think Mrs. is fond of me too. "Dropping by" is definitely not something I'm used to, though. It's not part of the culture I grew up in. But I've got a week to get used to the idea. I have to do it now, because I've been invited twice and I know Mr. really wants to see me again. I've only seen him twice in the past year, and we haven't really gotten to talk much. I miss him a lot, and I think he misses me too. Our relationship is a little more than the normal teacher-student, but he tends to do that with most of his students. It's just possible for that to happen at our strange little school, and it's not at all suspect because the teacher knows the family, the family knows his family, etc.

He's my mentor, as much as it is possible for someone not a musician to be my mentor. I get the feeling it frustrates him that I'm so deeply involved in music now, because he doesn't know much about music. But I have found my artistic calling, just as he found his long ago, and he knows that and supports it. It frustrated me terribly at first that I couldn't understand his poems, that I knew and still know nothing of poetry. I appreciate it's beauty, but cannot comprehend it's form and cannot construct or analyze it. But I can construct and analyze music, whereas he can only appreciate it's beauty. At last, I can meet him on a slightly more equal footing. Of course, he is master of his subject, and I am novice at mine, but he's got 26.5 years of life on me, so that's just how it's going to be. Today is his 45th birthday. I hope it is a happy one, and I hope some lovely woman of his household, whether his wife or stepdaughter, makes him a rusty nail or something. He seems to like rusty nails. I don't know what goes in them, but he's an Irishman through and through and that includes a fondness for drink. He's probably not an alcoholic not because he's not tempted to be, but because he knows it's the wrong thing to do. Knowing him, he probably thinks of it in terms of it being "ungentlemanly." Which is just fine, if it keeps him from destructive tendancies. I love him so much. Not eros, but, oh, I don't know. Just love. I love him, but don't want to possess him; does that make sense? He taught me that I could love that way, selflessly, and I will always be grateful to him for that. He was my first love, and I will always love him. And I'm so glad he still writes to me, because his letters and his poetry are so beautiful.

15 May 2003

Well, the flowers had exactly the effect on Mama that I had hoped. She seemed quite pleased. As I walked up on the hill behind our house, on which most of our backyard is situated, with my mother tonight, I was thinking about man's dominion over nature. My mother and father, with the help of a hired hand as they are middle-aged and need someone with a stronger back, have tamed that yard. It's about 3/4 of an acre, which for a residential area of this state is not bad. When we arrived 12 years ago, it was barren and covered with weeds that took simply ages to kill. Now it's got pine, redwood, spruce, oak, and maple trees, a vegetable garden, roses, iris, rosemary, huge bushes and groundcover, a gazebo with climbing roses, and tiny patches of flowers here and there. On a warm day, the scent of the jasmine that climbs up the patio cover could almost knock you flat. A spot of the yard that was once my garden where I could plant anything I wanted has now been put to better use as a plot of garden for the glorification of Our Lady. It was inspired by the statue of Our Lady that I placed there, I'm proud to say, but the rest was my mother's idea. There's a japanese maple shading it, and all the flowers are blue and white. Lots of forget-me-nots, which of course are also known by the name "Mary's eyes."

Just as they tamed the yard, they tamed our pets. As we walked up the hill to admire the garden's beauty, a little parade consisting of a dog and two cats followed us. Well, they weren't following me. If I go up by myself, the dog might follow me if I called him, and the cats would ignore my absence from the house. But if Mama goes, boy, everyone goes. My mother has been given stewardship over that plot of ground and those animals, and she cares for them well.

Unfortunately, I am not as inclined toward gardening as either of my parents, or my grandparents for that matter. I generally prefer to stay indoors. Part of it is probably that my eyes are very sensitive to light and so it seems much brighter out to me than it does to other people. If I don't wear sunglasses on sunny days I walk around squinting. Hot weather is also terribly uncomfortable, and as I am pale I get sunburnt easily. Ohh, so many reasons not to go outside, at least in summer. Mama likes to walk in her garden each day, admiring her flowers. I prefer to walk in the garden today with a pair of scissors, so that I can admire the flowers tomorrow without the unfortunate necessity of leaving the house. I do make an exception in my preference for staying indooors: going for a walk at twilight or after dark. Especially down between the lake and the river, with the noticable lack of street lamps... Ahem. (Hi, sweetie.)

The Holy Father's 83rd birthday is this Sunday. He's three months younger than my grandfather. It's amazing to see him still going as he is. We're pretty proud of Grandpa who bowls twice a week and plays golf at least that often, but he doesn't have Parkinson's. The Holy Father travels all over the world and gives speeches all the time. That is amazing for anyone, let alone an ill 83-year-old. I would venture to say that the Holy Spirit keeps him going. Obviously God isn't quite done with this man yet. How I do wonder what He's got in mind for the Holy Father.

13 May 2003

Another copied entry from previous blog. This one is from Friday, 25 April. I was thinking about it a bit today, as I saw both of the parish musicians I worked with while in high school today. As soon as they ascertained that I am indeed home for the summer, they started fighting over who gets me for Pentecost morning. I think I'm going to end up wending my way down to the Lutheran church with the guy who now works there. Tony, who is the parish music director, said I would probably find their taste in music more acceptable (i.e., more conservative). Anyway:

I've become so interested in sacred music it's nuts. Perhaps I'm destined to be a church musician after all. Ok, yeah, I always knew I would do parish work no matter what else I ended up doing. But I'm really encouraged by reading stuff from the webring "St. Blog's Parish" and by taking chant seminar. Dr. Ed showed us all kinds of nifty extra books today. I'm learning fast which hymnals are worth shelling out the cash for and which ones I should scream "run awaaaay!" at the mere mention of. He showed us a Graduale Simplex, which is a very useful thing. It is a book of Proper and Ordinary chants for the Mass, but they're simplified. Everything would be quite easy for an average volunteer (read "nonmusician") choir to sing. They are in Latin, with approved texts, and it uses responsorial Psalms instead of Graduals (promulgated by the Vatican in 1974--post-Vatican II). Nifty, and as I said, a very useful thing.

"By Flowing Waters" is basically an English version of the Graduale Simplex, but Dr. Ed said that, while it was a nice idea, the guy who did it didn't do a good job, besides the fact that it's all in round-note notation, which annoys me. Good to know it annoys Dr. Ed too.

I wish there were more books of the type he showed us in Music of the Catholic Church last semester. Nice little books of polyphonic music that were pretty simple. Some SATB, some SA or SSA for children's choirs. Think kind of "dumbed-down Palestrina." I read an article today that suggested it would be better for choirs to do this sort of repertoire and allow the esteemed Palestrina to rest in peace rather than cause him to be restless in his grave. A good idea, especially when I recall my parish choir's attempts at Sicut Cervus. Don't even get me started on the Handel, which I'm still not convinced even belongs in a Catholic liturgy anyway....

I half hope that I do become a parish musician--the primary musician of some parish--someday, if only so that I can put all of the knowledge I've gained to use. I really wish I had more influence in my parish at home. I've heard so many people complain about the awful electric guitars and terrible music they play. The point of this raucous music is ostensibly to encourage participation by the congregation, yet the complaints I hear are mostly to the effect that the people can't sing along with this music. Yet I see the congregation at our Chant Mass here singing the Ordinaries in Latin and I want to bow in awe before whoever composed music that is so sublime and yet so accessible. I suppose I shall have to content myself with bowing before this beauty's Ultimate Source.

12 May 2003

Wow. I can hardly believe it, but I'm actually home. My parents came and got me from college and drove me back home from the land of unpredictable weather (80 degrees in the early afternoon, hailing at 5pm?) to the land of the warm sun and blooming flowers. Mental note--have a fresh bouquet of roses on the sideboard for Mama when she comes home from work tomorrow.

I'm really going to miss some things about college this summer. My friends, of course, but that goes without saying. I'm going to miss having access to that wonderful library when I actually have time to do some pleasure reading. I'm going to miss going to the 10pm daily Mass with all my friends and hearing Fr. W's homilies. Won't miss Fr. G's bad singing, though. Speaking of singing, probably the biggest thing I'm going to miss is Chant Mass on Sundays and singing with the Schola. I have come home not only to the land of warm sun and blooming flowers; I have come home to the land of mediocre parish musicians and a pastor with extremely bad taste. He likes white gospel music. And this, and things in this vein, will be inflicted upon me for the next three months. I just know I'm going to be coming home from Mass, opening up my Graduale, and very badly sightreading the proper chants every Sunday. I begin to wonder what the music is like at the Tridentine Mass they have up the road on first and third Sundays. Stodgy old hymns borrowed and imitated from the Lutherans and Anglicans would be much preferable to the OCP (and worse!) stuff they do here. Or maybe I'll just have to get a job as a cantor and pick my own music. (I'm a girl--I suppose "cantor" ought to say "cantrix" but that sounds funny because we hardly every bother with those things in English.)

I think I can handle it. I handled it just fine for the 17 years before I started singing chant. It's just that I now know that there exists sublime music to make the Liturgy rich and beautiful and pleasing to the ears of Our Lord. Once you start down the road of loving chant and the works of Palestrina, Victoria, and Tallis, well, I don't think you can really turn back. I don't want to turn back. I want to envelop myself in the music of the ancient and medieval and renaissance Church, and toss out almost everything composed in the past 35 years, but the past 35 years is what I'm going to have to live with. Most of the teenagers I've known don't want to go to Mass because they think it's boring. I'm practically pleading, "Mom, please don't make me go to Mass! The music hurts my ears!" But the Mass doesn't stop being the Mass because the music is less than sublime. It's no less transcendent in substance simply because it's not transcendant in appearance. So I'll go and try to ignore the music, even though I'll be singing it. Ugh. There's no way I'll be able to get away with not singing in the choir. It's just too bad I have absolutely no influence with the director.

09 May 2003

Ok, just had another Catholic nerd moment with best friend Lizzy a few hours ago. You know you're a Catholic nerd when...
...someone says "The room is immaculate" and you say "Like Mary?"
I'm going to transfer one or two things from my previous blog here. This is from Friday, May 2nd.

I'm a Catholic nerd. We already knew this, especially after that treatise on sacred music a few days ago, but the blog which starts off "You know you're a Catholic nerd when..." confirms this. Catholic Nerd.

I'd like to add a few to her list. You know you're a Catholic nerd when...

...you greet a friend with "Happy Feast Day!" because today is the feast of the saint whose name he took at his Confirmation.

...you have ever considered naming one of your possible children after one of the more obscure Fathers of the Church. (Hopefully you then realize that no one will be able to spell or pronounce it.)

...you have ever referred to a saint not by his or her name, but simply as your patron or patroness. (Extra points for referring to Mary only as your Mother.)

...you actually have a party on the feast of one of your favorite saints. (Katie, we must begin plans for St. Cecilia's day this year.)

...you know that if you became a nun, you would wear a habit. (For guys--you'd consider wearing a cassock if you became a priest.)

...you have a desire to say a Glory Be after every prayer. (Extra points for wanting to say a Gloria Patri, mucho points for wanting to chant a Gloria Patri.)

...knowing that a guy or girl goes to daily Mass is a big turn-on.

Ok. That's enough for now. Be warned--I may have more in future!
Hello. My name is Alle Psalite. Not really, of course. It's the text of a medieval song that I can't seem to escape from. My fault, I suppose, for hanging around too many choir directors who have a thing for medieval music. I'm starting to develop a thing for medieval music myself. I've just finished my freshman year at a Jesuit university, which is both a good and bad thing, I suppose (the Jesuit bit, I mean). I'll probably write more on that later.
I'm a music major concentrating on harp performance, but have developed a fascination with Gregorian chant and other (good) sacred music to the extent that I expect to do my graduate work in that area. This is provided, of course, that I don't flunk out because I spend too much time talking about the need for liturgical and musical reform in the Church with my other Catholic/music nerd friends. I've taken all the classes on Catholic music that were offered this year--Music of the Catholic Church, Gregorian Chant Seminar, and Gregorian Schola. The Schola sings at our chant Mass every Sunday, and I love it. I'm also slightly obsessed with the teacher of the above classes because he's really cool. This is probably a sufficient introduction for now.
My previous blog.