Friday, February 20, 2009

Seven Quick Takes (vol. 4)

Jennifer, over at Conversion Diary, has a weekly sort of meme, where readers can give updates... check out her blog at:

My seven thoughts/updates for the week:

1. The Church Music Association of America (CMAA) is taking registrations for the annual Colloquium that will be held again in Chicago this coming summer (June 22-28). Each year there are poor seminarians and religious who need scholarships in order to be able to attend this event. This year, in order to try to fund this effort, Jeffrey Tucker has a new book, a compilation of his writing about the subject of Sacred Music, that will be coming out soon. All net proceeds will go toward these scholarships.

I had the opportunity to read the book early, which will be entitled: Sing Like a Catholic yesterday (I'm a fast reader). It is a wonderful collection of some of his best work. It covers many different issues in a humorous and gentle way and offers a great deal of information for those not really familiar with the subject and all the talk surrounding it. I plan to purchase several copies for distribution to friends and family. I think it will, perhaps, help them to see why I am so nutty about this topic. I hope others will do likewise. It will help the overall effort to improve the state of music in Catholic parishes in two ways that I can see: a) it will generate funds for the scholarships. In training our future priests and religious, we will be developing leaders of flocks who will have a well-formed understanding of what the music of the liturgy should be, according to the writings of the Church. b) getting more people to understand the issue (by reading the book) and why it is of concern to all of us will help in the grassroots efforts toward bringing back the sacred nature of the music in liturgy.

The book is available to order NOW! I just ordered five copies... look out friends and family... you may not be surprised at your next gift from me... To order some for yourself, just follow this link... If you would like to donate to support these scholarships, you can easily do that at the CMAA site -- all tax-deductible, of course, since CMAA is a non-profit. The tuition and room and board for one person for the entire week is amazingly low -- only $745. Where else can you get this much training, a private room and three meals a day for that? CMAA makes it as inexpensive as possible to allow the maximum number possible be able to afford it.

2. My garden is beginning to sprout... I planted onions, which are sending up nice green shoots in the rows I've planted. Later on this year I should have my own home-grown yellow onions for cooking. I use a lot of them... Also looking very good is my crop of radishes. I am always amazed at how quickly they grow. They are ready in a little over 3 weeks or so. We've also planted cucumbers, carrots, peas and green beans, although they aren't showing any above ground progress yet. Later on we'll add tomatoes and squash to the mix.

We also planted seed for various herbs to start an herb garden. I have (at least at the last few homes we've had) always planted a nice fresh herb garden outside the back door. It makes for ease of use in cooking. I never seem to use the fresh herbs I buy at the grocery store before they get slimy in the refrigerator... by far the best solution is to plant them and cut when I want to actually use them. This year we have started them in a little planter inside... they currently get great light right from my kitchen windows. We started basil, parsley, dill, oregano and thyme. They are all looking good. When it gets a bit more consistently warm, we will transplant outside.

3. The boys and I just got home from morning Mass at San Mateo. My oldest boy is an altar server, so he served for Mass. He normally serves along with someone else and has been very dependent on whoever that is to tell him what to do when. This morning, when serving by himself, I could see that he needs a refresher and frequent reminders before he does this... he was never quite sure where to stand, when to kneel, just what to bring to Father and when... this is something we need to work on at home. All that aside... it is very nice to see his sweet little self, dressed in cassock and surplice, holding the missal or ringing the bells... that would have been missed without his presence.

4. Last week I didn't participate in the Quick Takes because I was at a Sacred Music workshop in the Houston area. For two days, I and a few of my schola members studied and sang with Chant Master, Scott Turkington. You can hear the fruits of our work by clicking on the music player at the top right side of my blog. The first portion was from a concert presented by the local St. Theresa Schola featuring the work of William Byrd. Farther down the list are all the chants that were sung during the 5 pm Mass on Saturday, February 14th.

The pastor gave a great homily on the subject of Sacred Music -- and especially Gregorian chant. I have transcribed the entire homily and submitted it to him for his review. After that, I hope to be able to post it so that others can read what he said to his parishioners and to us. I, (along with the other workshop attendees), am very much in agreement with what he had to say, so he was, in some ways, preaching to the choir... stay tuned for the chance to read it soon.

5. I belong to a neighborhood book club, that I don't attend very regularly. Many of the book selections are not of any interest to me, so I just skip those. I did go to the meeting this week, however, where we discussed this month's book The Shack. This group is made up of a mixture of religious backgrounds -- a few Catholics among them, but mostly Protestants. Many of those attending the meeting had lots to say about various ideas presented in the book... many were so enthusiastic about the book that they had purchased multiple copies and given them out. I found myself a bit uncomfortable with the discussion in general because, while I don't particularly dislike the book, I just can't relate to the underlying [Protestant] theology.

It is a bit hard to describe without getting back into the details of the book (and it has been several months since I read it), but basically it has none of the truths that are foundations of my faith as a part of it. How could it, since the author has no belief in those things? The core of the Catholic Mass -- the Holy Eucharist, the Communion of Saints, the Sacraments, Prayer, Grace, Confession and Absolution -- none of those ideas are represented in this book [or at least not in a way in agreement with Catholic theology] about a man's spiritual struggle and redemption. It was a nice story, but had no real relevance to my beliefs as a Catholic. The author completely discounted the value of organized religion and (if I recall correctly) even tried to indicate that God is in agreement with him.

I really didn't think it was the proper forum to begin discussing theological differences, so I simply said I thought it was a sweet story about forgiveness and that it had value in the idea that we need to forgive others and also heal ourselves thereby. I made the comment that I didn't necessarily agree with the underlying theology (could have kept that part to myself) and got a rather stunned silence in response.

What if we were all to read a book that is completely steeped in Catholicism as a monthly selection? I wonder if they would have felt a bit alienated?

6. I've really got to get going on taking the time to eat more healthy foods and exercise more. I still haven't found my groove here in the new place. Our neighborhood is a wonderful place to walk (my preferred exercise), but it is pitch black dark at the time when I could walk before my husband goes off to work in the morning. My kids are still too young to leave alone while I walk, so if I wait until the sun is up, I have to take them with me... just not the same.

I've actually put on a few pounds and have even sunk to eating many more sweets and unhealthy foods here... does it all go hand in hand? Anyway, I've got to do better.

7. My boys have discovered the amazingly funny (Peter Sellers - Blake Edwards) Pink Panther movies. We have the entire set on DVD, and they have been working their way through the episodes (I have had to fast-forward through a few little sections I didn't think they needed to watch, but mostly it is just ridiculous slap-stick fun).

Hope your weekend is wonderful...

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