1. I have managed to spend a good portion of the week working on various chant projects. I transcribed the music for the Easter Vigil Exultet, and the Gospel of John reading. Also, the responsorial psalms for the rest of Ordinary Time of the church year through week 7. I know I should be getting better at singing psalms without music in front of me, but it is so much easier with it. I am getting very adept at using the St. Meinrad's square notation font.
2. We had quite a nice little ice storm here. What a difference a week makes. Last week, I was allowing my boys to play in swimsuits with the water hose in the backyard. This week we had school closures, trash pickup postponements, sheets of ice everywhere... Yesterday morning the temperature outside was only 19 degrees...
3. Last night was my Catholic Women's book club meeting. We talked about the Miracles of the Eucharist book that I have been reading. The conversation also wandered to a discussion about how young First Communion catechism classes are going (one of the members teaches them), personal experiences of a supernatural nature, The Shack (while a nice enough Protestant novel about forgiveness, it does have a few things that were troubling to those of us who had read it), and the Eucharistic texts of so many traditional Latin chants. One of the book club members who also sings in the schola with me had brought her Parish Book of Chant. She read the translations of Ave Verum Corpus, Ecce Panis Angelorum and a few others to give them the idea... The theology behind the texts of those chants makes One Bread, One Body seem very insipid in comparison.
4. My sweet husband made coffee and had it all ready for me this morning. That was a nice way to start out the day.
5. I had not baked anything sweet or particularly good for my boys since Christmas baking. It was time to make them something, so I decided to make cookies. They participated and did a nice job of finishing their schoolwork in a timely manner... Perhaps a good batch of Ginger snaps. I have a really great recipe:
Gingersnaps (preheat your oven to 350 degrees)
3/4 c. butter, softened 2 c. sugar 2 eggs 1/2 c. molasses
2 tsp white vinegar 3 3/4 c. flour 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ginger 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/4 tsp. cloves
Cream butter and sugar; add molasses, eggs and vinegar. Add dry ingredients, small quantities before the flour, mixing well. Roll into balls; then roll in granulated sugar. Bake 2" apart for about 10-12 minutes. This recipe makes about 6 dozen 3" cookies. They are nice and chewy (I have another recipe for crunchy -- maybe next time).
6. I watched the film Made of Honour and had a couple of thoughts. It was a film that had a sort of redeeming quality in that it did make me laugh several times and had a sort of message. The message was that, in the end, sexual promiscuity does not make one happy. However, it also seemed to say that another person can ultimately fulfill all your needs and desires. We know that only God can do that. Aside from the fact that it is definitely a 'chick-flick' and focuses on romantic love as the be-all and end-all, it had several parts with bad language and sexual references that were unnecessarily crude. This was a PG-13-rated film. I would NOT let my youngsters see this film.
and finally,7. I finished reading Fr. Richard John Neuhaus' article in the February 2009 First Things, "Secularizations". I recommend it very much. Also, in this month's journal, I particularly liked Mary Eberstadt's "The Will to Disbelieve" and Gilbert Meilander's "Progress Without Pause". I also finished reading Fr. Neuhaus' "The Public Square". He must have had an inkling that his time left on earth was not long. Here is a short excerpt from the final pages of the issue:
"As of this writing, I am contending with a cancer, presently of unknown origin. I am, I am given to believe, under the expert medical care of the Sloan-Kettering clinic here in New York. I am grateful beyond measure for your prayers storming the gates of heaven.
Be assured that I neither fear to die nor refuse to live. If it is to die, all that has been is but a slight intimation of what is to be. If it is to live, there is much that I hope to do in the interim. After the last round with cancer fifteen years ago, I wrote a little book, As I Lay Dying (titled after William Faulkner after John Donne), in which I said much of what I had to say about the package deal that is mortality. I did not know that I had so much more to learn. And yes, the question has occurred to me that, if I have but a little time to live, should I be spending it writing this column. I have heard it attributed to figures as various as Brother Lawrence and Martin Luther -- when asked what they would do if they knew they were going to die tomorrow, they answered that they would plant a tree and say their prayers. (Luther is supposed to have added that he would quaff his favored beer.) Maybe I have, at least metaphorically, planted a few trees, and certainly I am saying my prayers. Who knew that at this point in life I would be understanding, as if for the first time, the words of Paul, "When I am weak, then I am strong"? This is not a farewell. Please God, we will be pondering the world for years to come. But maybe not. In any event, when there is an unidentified agent in your body aggressively attacking the good things your body is intended to do, it does concentrate the mind. The entirety of our prayer is "Your will be done" -- not as a note of resignation but of desire beyond expression. To that end, I commend myself to your intercession, and that of all the saints and angels who accompany us each step through time toward home."