Friday, April 24, 2009

Whew! It has been a busy time...

From the lack of recent postings, you may have surmised that I have been extremely busy. With all the musical preparations for Holy Week, I was swamped... immediately following Holy Week and Easter, I was getting ready for our family girls' weekend. Girls' weekend has been an event planned every other year or so for all my sisters, Mother (and any nieces that are old enough to swill wine with us) to get together for a weekend of talking, catching up, fun activities, etc.

This year, it happened to be that we had it here in Fort Worth. All four of my sisters, my Mother, and one niece flew in for it. My one sister-in-law was supposed to have come, too, but had to cancel at the last minute due to my brother's flying schedule.

We had a great time... visiting the Ft. Worth Main Street Art Festival on Friday, hitting the Grapevine, TX Wine Festival on Saturday, Mass and Divine Mercy activities on Sunday... Monday everyone flew home.

Also on Monday, I had my usual kids' choir practice and the adult schola rehearsal in the evening. After that, I rushed home to load up so that our family could go with my husband on a business trip to Shreveport. We didn't want to miss a chance to see friends. I got to sing with the schola there on Tuesday night and share wine and conversation afterwards... also got to spend quite a bit of time with friends -- kids happily playing, catching up on activities.

We got home on Thursday evening... back to our own beds, catching up on emails, etc.... read a book today called the Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls (I really enjoyed it). Things are back to normal again.

This weekend we'll be singing the Communion proper in Gregorian chant for the 3rd Sunday of Easter -- Cantate Domino. We had a pretty light turnout at rehearsal this week, so I am hoping it will go well... we'll be working hard on it at the pre-Mass warmup.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Well, we had a wonderful Holy Week! At Mass, our pastor re-emphasized the fact that evangelism is needed throughout the world. He quoted from words of Pope Benedict XVI while he was in Cameroon to that effect.

My youngest son has taken it to heart. Using his newly purchased (with his own money saved up from selling Nintendo DS games on ebay) digital camera, he filmed Pope Benedict during his Easter Urbi et Orbi address. My husband just heard him showing the clip to two of his friends... and he was heard to say:

" That is Pope Benedict. He is a very holy man. He is very close to God. He can change wine and bread into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ!"

He heard the message... we should all be so bold in proclaiming the Word of God!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

San Mateo Parish Triduum

On Holy Thursday, my family attended Mass at San Mateo parish in Ft. Worth. Ours is a very small church, simple in its decorations and in the way liturgies are celebrated. I got to be a regular parishioner in the pews this time. My oldest boy was an altar server... my husband was one of the men in the parish who had his feet washed. They do something I have not seen at other parishes here. Perhaps it is a custom in the parishes in Mexico... there are 'apostles' robes that the men put on over their clothing for the Mandatum.

The liturgy was a bilingual Mass -- half in Spanish, half in English. Our parish uses bilingual missalettes from WLP, so it is very easy to follow along, whichever language is being used at the time. My Spanish is improving just from reading and checking the translation as the words are said. During the procession to repose the Blessed Sacrament, we sang the Pange lingua (in English), Adoro te (in English and Spanish) and Tantum Ergo (in Latin).

Last night, at the Good Friday service, our schola sang. I was very happy with the results, all in all. We sang the Popule meus (Reproaches) for the Veneration of the Cross in Latin from the Gregorian Missal. I am sorry to say that I started on a pitch slightly too high -- I had to apologize to my altos afterward. For Holy Communion, we sang the Pater, si non (Proper Communion for Palm Sunday), followed by the Anima Christi. I had another couple speak to me about joining our group.

Tonight will be another bilingual Mass. I'll be singing the first part of the Exultet in English; Fr. Bob Strittmatter will sing the rest in Spanish. Then, he and I will alternate chanting the Responsorial Psalms in English and Spanish. At San Mateo, all of the readings are read and all psalms are sung for the Holy Saturday Vigil Mass.

Tomorrow morning, The Fort Worth Schola Gregoriana will sing for the 10:00 am Mass for Easter morning. I am pleased that we will sing all Latin ordinaries, including the Vidi aquam for the sprinkling rite during the Easter season. We will also sing the Easter sequence (Victimae paschali) and a simplified Alleluia (from the Chants Abreges collection). Because of all this Latin, we will try to balance it with English hymns for opening, offertory, Communion, and Closing. The choices for these will be:

Opening: Christ the Lord is risn'n today
Offertory: O Sons and Daughters (O Filii et Filiae)
Communion: Humbly We Adore You (Adoro te)
Closing: Holy God, We Praise Thy Name (Te Deum)

A happy Easter to all...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fort Worth Schola Gregoriana Palm Sunday

Holy Week is here! This morning the Fort Worth Schola Gregoriana sang for Mass at San Mateo Parish in Fort Worth at 10:00 a.m. I was very proud of our group. Here is our list of music that we sang today.

Hosanna filio David (Antiphon prior to blessing of palm branches)
All Glory, Laud and Honor (procession in to Church)
Responsorial psalm (simple chanted Mode VIII - English)
Offertory -- Chanted hymn -- Gloria Laus
Sanctus XVIII
Agnus Dei XVIII
Communion: Proper Communion chant -- Pater, si non
Post Communion: Anima Christi
Closing: O Sacred Head Surrounded

The church was more full than usual this morning and our schola got several very nice compliments. One person expressed an interest in joining our group today also. So, we may be adding another voice.

We'll be rehearsing again on Tuesday evening for the Good Friday service and Easter Sunday Mass. I think the schola is very well prepared, so it should be a matter of polishing things up. To anyone who hasn't either sung in or directed a Gregorian chant schola, you may not realize how wonderful it is that we are being able to progress in this way as quickly as we have been allowed. We are all volunteers and have been able to gradually implement the use of Latin ordinaries and chanted Latin seasonal hymns and several different Latin propers from the Gregorian Missal. Since the beginning of the Liturgical year, we have sung every Sunday Mass. I have to keep reminding myself of just how fortunate we have been, how welcoming the parishioners have been, how enthusiastic the schola members have been...

I know, from anecdotal evidence, that it doesn't usually go this smoothly. At many places where an effort has begun to try to add more Gregorian chant to the Mass, much resistance has been received. The resistance at other parishes may often come from many different quarters: 1) the parishioners in the pews who may a) have an aversion to Latin or b) just prefer the more contemporary music, 2) the Parish Director of Music [ our parish doesn't have one, so no problem there], 3) lack of support or welcome from the pastor [ Our pastor is absolutely wonderful -- welcomes us and also is very sensitive to the needs of the parishioners in the pews]. In short, all things have converged here to make this effort fruitful. We thank God for the blessings!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Seven Quick Takes (vol. 6)

I have been absent from the 7 Quick Takes Crew for a few weeks... but will try to put seven thoughts together on this beautiful morning. Check out Jennifer's Friday offerings over at Conversion Diary.

1. Yesterday was such an unbelievably windy day here in the north Texas area. Apparently it affected plane landings/takeoffs at DFW. And, it did affect us. I had big plans to go pick strawberries to freeze and to make jam. The strawberry patch is only open 3 days/week for picking; Tuesday it was too muddy -- we found out after driving all the way over there; Thursday was waaaay too windy; do we dare try it on Palm Sunday afternoon?

I must say I am very tempted to load up the boys after Mass and go for it. I have missed the availability of fresh (self-picked) fruit since moving over here. I love making jams and jellies. My extended family likes it, too.

2. My little garden is growing well. We have eaten a whole row (admittedly not huge rows, given the size of my garden) of radishes and are beginning to work on row two. From the photo, you may be able to see how well the onions are doing. I also planted four tomato plants, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, green beans and peas. This is all experimental, since my main attempt at growing things to eat has been limited to herbs in past years. I like the small size of my little raised beds. I can easily keep them weeded and planted. I'll keep you posted on our progress.

3. We were part of a slightly smaller group at morning Mass today. Perhaps folks are saving themselves for all the upcoming Holy Week liturgies. My oldest boy is getting very good at being the sole altar server, although today he did forget about holding the book for the intercessory prayers before helping to prepare the altar. Our priest is very kind... gave him a little pat on the arm to let him know it was OK.

4. I have printed up Mass programs for Palm Sunday and Good Friday in preparation for Holy Week. I still need to finish up the special edition for Easter Sunday and then the Easter Season following.

I had a bit of extra space available on the back of the booklets for Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, so I have started including a few little excerpts from the CMAA publication Frequently Asked Questions on Sacred Music. These questions are typical questions such as: " What is Sacred Music", "Why should we regard Gregorian chant as the ideal?" and "Isn't this just a matter of taste?". The answers are well-documented and feature many quotes from Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, Paul VI, Pius X, etc. They also give the references from various Church documents. I am hoping some of the folks at Mass will take the time to read a bit about it. Maybe we will gain some more supporters of the cause.

5. I am amazed at the many ways our new government is intruding upon our lives and the freedoms we have. In recent weeks, we have seen attacks on the unborn, amazingly high governmental expenditures (all in the name of saving our economy), an attempt to restrict freedom in organic farming, bullet casing recycling, etc. The first two items I am sure no one can escape knowledge of... other things seem to be happening quietly and behind the scenes.

Here is some information about the organic farming issue:

House and Senate are about to vote on a bill that will OUTLAW ORGANIC FARMING-- the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (bill HR 875). There is an enormous rush to get this into law within the next week before people realize what is happening.

Main backer and lobbyist is Monsanto – chemical and genetic engineering giant corporation (and Cargill, ADM, and about 35 other related agri-giants) . This bill will require organic farms to use specific fertilizers and poisonous insect sprays dictated by the newly formed agency to "make sure there is no danger to the public food supply". This may include backyard gardens that grow food only for a family and not for sales.

If this passes then NO more heirloom clean seeds but only Monsanto genetically altered seeds.

I find this very disturbing... not just the fact that it will impact organic farmers who grow for sale to grocery stores, etc., but also because it will affect the backyard gardener who brings his excess to sell at farmers' markets. The biggest concern of all, though, is the idea of the reduction of the availability of heirloom seeds. I don't know if, as a practical matter, many folks are aware that many of the wonderful hybrid seeds we happily buy and use for our home gardens will not produce seeds that we could save and use in future years. Heirloom seeds offer that possibility.

One other little known fact of a small, but rather insidious change since Pres. Obama took the reins of power: He recently put out an executive order prohibiting the sale of spent brass casings collected at military shooting ranges to U.S. armaments manufacturers for use in reloading and sale to the public.

Up until now, it has been (from what I have heard) fairly common practice to have all brass casings collected from the ranges and sold to these bullet manufacturers. It greatly lessens the cost of ammunition to the general public for the particular caliber bullets that would apply. Well, military installations are no longer allowed to sell them to U.S. manufacturers. They must sell them to Chinese manufacturers now. I don't know if those Chinese manufacturers would be allowed to sell these products in the U.S. at all, so perhaps the intent is to lessen the supply to U.S. consumers. Just check it out to see if you can find any ammunition to buy for an AR-15. It isn't to be found currently.

Update: A friend corrected my info. This executive order only lasted a week. Here is a news release:

6. I am reading a book I just received by Pope Benedict XVI: The Spirit of the Liturgy. It was recommended very highly by many different MusicaSacra forum participants. I am about 20% into the book and am finding it absolutely wonderful. As with Pope Benedict's other books, I find the amount of information about the historical aspect of things and especially as it relates to the Jewish history gives so much depth to the writing.

This is not a quick read... but well worth the effort.

7. I am appalled that Notre Dame has invited Pres. Obama to speak at their commencement and give him an honorary law degree. I signed the petition against it online... along with many others. I don't have much hope that any of the outcry will touch the heart of Fr. Jenkins, but we should all pray for him.

For a bit of consolation, read this letter sent to Fr. Jenkins by one of our fearless bishops with a few extra comments by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (in red):

March 31, 2009

Reverend John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame
400 Main Building
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Dear President Jenkins:

I wish to express in my own name and on behalf of the Catholic community of this Diocese, my dismay and outrage [goes a little beyond the soft-peddling "disappointment", right?] at your decision to invite the current President of the United States to address the 2009 graduates of the University of Notre Dame and to receive an honorary degree.

This decision of your flies in the face of the expressed directive of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the year 2004, that Catholic institutions not so honor those who profess opposition to the Church’s doctrine on abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

I would ask that you rescind this unfortunate decision and so avoid dishonoring the practicing Catholics of the United States, including those of this Diocese. [He is sticking for his flock.] Failing that, please have the decency to change the name of the University to something like, “The Fighting Irish College” or “Northwestern Indiana Humanist University.” [simply.too.good] Though promotion of the obscene is not foreign to you, [! This refers to Fr. Jenkin’s relationship to the play The V. Monologues ] I would point out that it is truly obscene [i.e., this is worse yet] for you to take such decisions as you have done in a university named for our Blessed Lady, whom the Second Vatican Council called the Mother of the Church.

I sign myself

Very truly yours,
The Most Reverend Thomas G. Doran, D.D., J.C.D.
Bishop of Rockford

h/t Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

I wish any readers the very best for this coming Holy Week and Easter!