02 January 2010

Christmas Gifts

My family members have always been very generous with Christmas and birthday gifts. Unlike my (much older) half-brother, whose birthday is today, I never had to endure the rounds of "this is for Christmas and your birthday!" when opening presents, although my birthday is even closer to Christmas Day than his.

There were a few presents that stood out from the crowd, though. My husband gave me slippers that look like cowboy boots. I always wanted to be a cowgirl, and now I feel like a cowgirl standing in the kitchen making coffee in the morning. Plus, my feet are warm! You wouldn't think this would be a problem in Los Angeles, but I often wear socks around the house even in summer (a sharp contrast to my childhood, when I was barefoot as often as possible). And because we had so much extra work at the church in December, we can afford a horseback ride in San Diego next week! I won't be wearing the cowgirl slippers for that of course, but it will be tremendous fun. I'll try to remember my camera so I can show you all pictures!

Another gift that really stood out, although it was not intended as a gift, was a check from our parish, handed to my husband personally by the pastor. It was payment for our work chanting Vespers for the nine nights before Christmas. We did not expect to be paid for it and did not include it on our time sheets. We were a little startled at first and wondered if it might be some kind of mistake, but then we did the math and worked out that it was compensation for the Vespers novena. Our pastor is not the talkative type and rarely smiles or gives compliments beyond "thanks" or "that was nice," so sometimes it's hard to tell what he's thinking. But, and I hope this doesn't sound mercenary, being paid for your work is one of the best compliments a musician can get. It's not that I mind being told that I "sing like an angel" or that my husband's organ playing is fantastic, or how sweet we look when we sing together, but it's nice to be told that in a way that helps pay the bills! It feels incredibly good to know that our pastor likes what we do and that he thinks we're worth paying for, especially since so many priests and parishes don't think they should have to pay their musicians.

and a prayer request...

If you think of it, please remember our pastor in your prayers. Part of the novena was Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction every night, even though our pastor has severe problems with his arms and shoulders and can hardly lift the monstrance (we got a special lightweight monstrance last year when the larger one became difficult for him, but now even the lightweight one is almost too much). We have Benediction five nights a week at our parish even in usual weeks, and on the first Sunday of every month. It is a tribute to Msgr. Murphy's prayerfulness and consideration of his congregation that he continues this practice even though it must be very taxing for him physically. Please pray that, if it is God's will, Msgr. Murphy will have renewed strength that will allow him to continue to elevate the Blessed Sacrament before his congregation, both at Benediction and at Mass.

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