Friday, February 6, 2009

Seven Quick Takes (vol. 3)

Once again I am giving an update on the week and things that have occupied my mind... check out all the Seven Quick Takes over at Jennifer's blog at Conversion Diary.

1. Alright, many of us have suspected that soft drinks weren't especially good for us for some time. Whether because of the extra calories and high fructose corn syrup in the regular variety, or the artificial sweetenings of the diet variety, my assumption has been that it just isn't worth it (unless I happen to be REALLY thirsty and nothing else is available).

Well, new evidence confirms that cola isn't good for women, especially. The Baylor Innovations magazine (Winter 2009 issue) has an article about a study results that show that cola tends to lead to lower bone mineral density in women, whether diet or regular. The study seems to indicate that this is peculiar to colas. Other beverages, such as orange drinks and ginger ales, seem to have no effect. Also, the colas don't appear to affect men in the same way. The targeted suspect is the phosphoric acid in the colas (added for tartness). So... if you are one of those who starts her day with a diet cola... think about a switch...

2. In the same issue, results of a study on fertility yield information on 10 things you can do to increase your fertility.
They are:
Avoid trans fats found in many commercially prepared and fast foods,
use more unsaturated vegetable oils
, such as olive oil or canola oil,
eat more vegetable protein,
like beans, nuts, whole grains and seeds; eat less animal protein, choose whole grains and other carbs that are lower glycemic,
drink a glass of whole milk
or have a small dish of ice cream or full-fat yogurt every day, take a multivitamin that contains folic acid and other B vitamins,
get plenty of iron
from fruits, veges, beans and supplements -- but not from red meat, beverages matter -- water, coffee, tea and alcohol (in moderation) are ok; leave the sodas alone,
aim for a healthy weight -- if you are overweight, losing 5-10% of your weight can help ovulation,
daily exercise can help (unless you are already an exercise nut and don't have enough body fat -- this was never my problem).

3. I have finished the book for our book club this month, Angels and Devils, by Joan Carroll Cruz. It was quite interesting. I particularly liked the first part, about the angels. In our family, we have a habit of including the Guardian Angel prayer in our prayers with the boys before bedtime... the book has reinforced my belief that we should be aware of the help and love offered to us in our journey to God by our Guardian angels. It also warns of the dangers of dabbling in the occult.

4. One of my sisters sent me a subscription for Magnificat. The first issue I received was for February. Well, this week has been my first opportunity to begin reading it daily. I have enjoyed it so very much. The various articles on the lives of saints, the monthly chant hymn (this month's hymn is absolutely beautiful -- Aurora soli praevia, for the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes), the morning and evening prayers and readings, as well as daily Mass readings are very nicely put together. I have the big Christian Book of Prayer, with the Liturgy of the Hours for morning and evening prayer and like it also, but I find the specific information about each day that is contained in the Magnificat is also very nice and seems to be helping me to do my readings each day a little bit more diligently.

This morning our family attended the 7 a.m. Mass at our parish. It was very nice to have my Magnificat to follow along with the readings. We are hoping to make Friday Mass as often as possible as a family.

5. There is much consternation among the musicians of the Church Music Association of America this past week or so. The issue in question is eloquently described by Jeffrey Tucker in his posting at the New Liturgical Movement in his article from a couple of days ago here. Also, he has a new article at Inside Catholic here. As I see it, even if a music composer wanted to compose Mass settings in English and make them available for free to all church musicians for use in the liturgy, ICEL still wants its royalty (at least the way the rules seem to stand now). This seems to me to be a very sad situation -- one that encourages commercial publishers in their source for income and that discourages the free exchange of music by individual composers. Do we really want to be saddled with another ubiquitous setting of English Mass music like the Mass of Creation with the release of the new translation? I hope not.

6. This week I have been working away at completing my plans for Lent, Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday for the schola. I think I have a pretty good plan that is not too ambitious for the schola to achieve. I am waiting for our pastor to let me know what changes he would like on the first drafts. Some of the music (if plans are approved) will be:

Offertory Hymns: Parce, Domine and Attende, Domine
Communion chant: Qui meditabitur (we'll use it as a seasonal chant)
Palm Sunday: Hosanna filio David (antiphon)
Offertory: Gloria laus
Communion: Pater, si non
Good Friday: Veneration of the Cross: Popule meus
This is a very long piece with alternating refrains (two different refrains) with verses sung by a cantor. The words are amazingly perfect. Here is a short excerpt:

Popule meus, quid feci tibi? Aut in quo contristavi te? Responde mihi. Quia eduxi te de terra Aegypti: parasti Crucem Salvatori tuo. My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me! I led you out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom, but you led your Saviour to the cross.
Gospel of John: Three cantors (still discussing this possibility - I have a wonderful setting I bought from St. Meinrad while still in Shreveport, but never got to use)
Communion: Pater, si non
Holy Saturday: This will be a bilingual Mass, so readings will alternate between English and Spanish. I also have set the responsorial psalms alternating between English and Spanish. This was only my second time to set psalms into a psalm tones in Spanish. (I did it recently for a Spanish Wedding Mass.)
Exultet: chanted in English (another wonderful St. Meinrad setting I bought)
Sprinkling Rite: Vidi aquam
Offertory: Exultemus et laetemur

I would love to do the shortened version of the Te Deum at the end of Mass at the Easter Vigil, but I think that would be pushing it... it will probably be something else (perhaps the English version of it -- Holy God, We Praise Thy Name).

7. The neighborhood children have had a wonderful time out in the woods behind our house this entire winter. With no poison ivy to be concerned with, the fort-building and game-playing has been a constant thing. Every day nearly, the boys have wanted to head outside to work on their 'bases', pocketknives in hand, during their recess periods. When they hear the school bus drive by each afternoon, bringing their friends home, they can't wait to gather them together for fun and play. It is usually starting to get dark by 6:30 pm or so -- that's when the fun ends...

Tuesday I got a guided tour of the three main 'bases'. They have shown a great deal of ingenuity in using the tree branches for structures, cut grass for a roof, yucca leaves to weave various things... I am not anxious for the poison ivy to begin sprouting... it is very difficult to keep it at bay here in summer. They told me yesterday that they had talked about it and have a plan in mind: When they grow up and have wives and kids, they want to move back here and live in this house together so that their children can play out back as they have... I told them I think that is a fine idea!

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