Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Priorities...

I feel lately as though I'm stuck in Orwell's 1984.

 I find myself constantly shocked by circumstances and situations that seem to be in reverse order.

Let me emphatically state right up front...I am NOT judging the state of anyone's soul here.  I'm simply commenting on what I'm seeing, and that it startles (and sometimes scandalizes) me when I do. 

 For instance...

There are so many people putting vast amounts of time and energy into secular pursuits, who state "I'm too busy" when asked to engage in those same activities at church.

I'm shocked that families invest vast amounts of time and energy into secular choirs or orchestras, but do not give anything to the music ministry at their church. Or give a token amount of time, a couple of times a year.

I'm shocked at tradesmen who repair roofs, or are electricians, or are financial experts who don't give of those skills to their faith community or expect to be paid a king's ransom to use those skills for the church at which they worship.

Now please understand.  I'm not saying that a person should be on every committee and spend every waking moment involved in church activities.  I certainly don't. 

I'm also not saying that people shouldn't be paid a just wage.  But on the other hand...if you know that your church is hurting for money, why is it such a foreign concept to give your time and talent? 

What I am saying, is that I find it more than a little sad when parents teach their children that they should give their best to secular pursuits, but not to their faith community.

Charity begins at home you know...isn't your faith community a home to you?

I get overwhelmed by this sometimes.  I'm so disappointed by what I'm seeing in the outside world, that I have the urge to retreat to my house and stay there. 

It's not that I'm judging anyone else's choices...at least I'm not trying to...

It's that seeing the out of whack priorities makes me sad and a little frightened for my own children.

I've heard all the stories of 1950's style Catholicism and I get that it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows.

But at the same time...it seems to me that people had their priorities in a better order.

God first, then family, then the secular world.

That order seems to be reversed today.

I hear stories of people who spend much of their time in the car driving from this activity to that activity, in order to help their child reach their full potential.

Ummm...I thought the idea was to raise saints.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that children shouldn't have any hobbies or interests to pursue, just that no child, needs six or seven such interests.

We have six children still at home.

They are each involved in a couple of church activities, and even at that, I worry that they are doing too much.  We may or may not continue to be so involved next year, depending on the impact it has on family life and prayer this year.

Each child has one activity that doesn't directly involve church. I've got children taking piano, violin and voice.

Three of them also want to study organ, and if we can get the funds together, we'll do that, but only because they want to be able to play for Mass, and in a couple of years the organist for our choir will be graduating college and may not be staying in town.

This may require the children to drop another church related activity, but they know that and have said they agree with this policy. 

However...we don't do 4-H or sports or other clubs. We have done those things in the past, we just aren't doing them now.  It would take too much time away from family time.

Anyway...back on topic...like any parent, I want good things for my children.  I want them to grow up and be adults in a world in which priorities are in the proper order.

Sometimes I feel that I am in a distinct minority in that wish, even among my very faith-filled friends.

I do wonder sometimes if it's MY priorities that are backwards, because I seem so out of step with so many people.

But then I realize...I'm not out of step with the one person who matters the most to me.  If and when I get out of step with HIM...then I've got a problem. Until then...I'll just keep on with my current policy, without apology.

Thanks for reading... 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What was food is now a pet...

Well.

We had originally intended to butcher all of the pigs we are raising for meat.

However...our swineherd (the 13 year old boy) has fallen in love with one of the females.

She was originally named Bacon.  He re-christened her Miss Piggy.  (Not very original, but hey he's 13 what do you want?)

Yesterday, he entered a very heartfelt plea (complete with tears) to spare her life and keep her as a breeding sow.

He's fine with her pen-mates going off to the butcher in three weeks.

He's downright giddy at the prospect of the beef animal going in.

Dancing with happiness at the prospect of the Turkeys going through the process that will end with them in the freezer.

It's just this one pig you see.  She's special.

I asked what makes her special and he very honestly replied...

"I just really like her".

Ok.

So we had a family meeting and fortunately for my son (and the pig), it was agreed.

We'll have less pork in the freezer, but my son has a new pet.

At least this pet will provide meat (in the form of the piglets she gives birth to) down the road.

I'm ok with that I guess, but now we have to winter-proof the pig hutch.

Not something I was planning to do this late in the year.

Want to make God laugh?  Tell him YOUR plans.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Saturday morning...

Saturday mornings at our house are interesting.

Unless Himself is working, we try and stay home, the honey-do list is ALWAYS longer than my arm.

The Cory Stewart show is on WCSR, and always entertaining. (Although it is entirely possible to get musical whiplash when listening.)

Before we turn that on however, we pray a rosary.

Sometimes it's just Himself and I, sometimes a child or two wakes up and joins us.  I love it when they do.

Praying with the children first thing in the morning sets such a wonderful tone for the day.

They are trying to wake up, forget which mystery we're doing, yawn in the middle of a prayer.

Himself and I smile a lot.

I like that.  It starts my day by reminding me what's important.

God has entrusted these little ones to my care.

I need to take the time and spend the time.

Some "expert" some where coined the phrase "quality time" years ago, to assuage the guilt that so many working parents felt.

Baloney.

It's not quality time, it's QUANTITY time.

Whether you work outside the home or not, your children need you to spend time with them.

Time talking with them.  Time praying with them.  Time cuddling on the couch with them.

I get it that life is busy.  Mine is too, and I DON'T work outside the home.

It doesn't matter.  You don't get a pass.

Take the time,  MAKE the time.

Turn off the radio when you are in the car and TALK to your children.  Or pray together while on the road.

Turn off the television in the evening and read them a story instead.  (My teenagers will even sit and listen to The Hungry Thing when dad reads it aloud.)

If you have stuff to do around the house, invite your children to do it with you.  Some of the neatest conversations I've had with my kids have been while doing grunt work around the house.

I know you've heard all this before...too bad.  Hear it again.

Thanks for reading...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Commentary on a visit to Walmart...

Otherwise known in our house as "The Tenth Circle of Hell", because I am firmly convinced that if Dante had experienced Walmart, his vision of Hell would have had a tenth circle.

I don't like to shop there.  I avoid it as much as possible, but living in a small town, they are the only store that carries certain things.

So I went.

The shopping part itself wasn't horrible, I found what I needed and salespeople didn't bother me with the pseudo-friendly desperation to sell me something that I run into at department stores.

The other customers on the other hand...there are some things that you can't un-see.

The fact that I am unable to bleach my brain clean of what I witnessed prompts me to state the following...

Size 24W spandex should not exist.   (No REALLY it shouldn't)

Evidently parents no longer teach their daughters about pantyhose.  Ladies if you just HAVE to wear something that tight...buy some control top pantyhose (all-in-one...no lines) and use them. (I could give this same advice to some people at church.)

It's just as evident that parents no longer teach their sons that walking around with your underwear showing isn't macho...it's just stupid looking.


Just because it's warm out does NOT mean that you have a God-given right to wear Daisy Dukes.  NO ONE has the right to wear Daisy Dukes (not even Catherine Bach herself).   You don't need to show that much leg.  Really you don't.  It may be "attractive" to some men, but ask yourself if it's a man who will respect you.  


Same goes for short skirts.  I'm not talking just above the knee...I'm talking mid-thigh or higher.  Who are you trying to attract?  And for what purpose?  Skirts that short used to only be worn by prostitutes plying their trade on street corners in seedy parts of town.  When (and more importantly WHY) did they become acceptable for non-prostitutes to wear?

Neither do you have the right to wear spaghetti straps.  (Especially if you are anything larger than a B cup ladies.  If you are big busted...give those girls some support!!!!) 

While we're talking about spaghetti straps...have you ladies never heard that it's trashy to walk around with your bra straps exposed?


Last but not least...big bosom-ed women should not wear V-neck shirts.  Just SHOULD NOT!!!!

People...you aren't big boned.  Take the pork rinds out of your cart and buy some vegetables.  And NO they can't be dipped in batter and fried.  And lay off the beer.  Go for a walk.  (Yes I know some people have medical conditions.  Trust me, that many people do not.  Some have a 'lack of self-control' condition.)

While you are waiting for the vegetables to take off those extra pounds...buy some clothing that covers all the bits and blobs of you currently hanging out the top, and the bottom or oozing out the sides.

Guys...Scratching yourself in public, using vulgar language and belching loudly and then laughing about it  is NOT in the least attractive.  You don't look like a stud when you do those things.  You look like an idiot.

Ladies...screaming at your children to shut up because they don't enjoy spending hours wandering around Walmart does NOT impress anyone with your parenting skills.  If you can't keep your temper in public, and become verbally abusive towards your children...it does cause people to wonder how much more abusive you are in private.

Pajamas are not appropriate attire to wear in public.  If you can't get dressed for the day...don't go out.

Buy a full length mirror and put it next to the front door.  Take a good look at yourself before you leave the house...then maybe the rest of us won't have an urgent desire to bleach their brain.

I'm 45.  Which I'm pretty sure is not that old.

So...when did people stop caring what they looked like in public.  No really.  When did this happen?

It's almost as if society collectively decided to throw away the notion that it matters how we present ourselves in public.

Why is that? 

Thanks for reading...


Saturday, August 17, 2013

I bet you thought I forgot about this blog didn't you?

Well I didn't. 

I just took on a lot of projects this summer and I've been very busy.

So busy in fact that I gave the garden a sabbath.

But we got pigs and turkeys and ducks this year to add to the menagerie.

We also decided to gut and remodel the family room and the kitchen.

As usual, my ambition was far greater than my time and energy.

So both rooms have been torn apart since March-ish.

Himself is working such long hours, that he can only help me sporadically and most of the time when he's home I'd rather he be doing things with the children.

Praise God that Himself is a patient and understanding man.

Six long months later, the Family room is about finished.  In fact except for installing and painting some trim it should be done by tomorrow evening.

It will however take a few weeks to get the house back in order.

Just in time for the Fall purge in fact...which makes the timing providential.

Then we have to rent a dumpster and clean out the garage and clean up the yard before it gets too cold to work outside.

The good news is that I can do most of the work on the kitchen in cold weather.

So by next spring (Probably March-ish) I'll be done with the kitchen too.

Just in time to plant a garden. 

So...at the end of the day, I guess it'll work out.

But I hope I remember this summer and next time not tear apart more than I can put back together in a reasonable amount of time.

Knowing me however...I probably won't.

Have I mentioned how grateful I am that Himself is a patient and understanding man?

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Another wedding...

I'm very excited.

a young lady in the parish has asked if the choir could sing at her wedding. 

So I sent an email around to the choir and also to some people in the parish who sing but can't commit to the choir right now. 

So far we have ten women and three men, but not everyone has responded yet.  (I just sent the message out last evening).

Even so, we'll have a respectable choir for the young lady.

She's still choosing music, but I know that at least some of the Propers will be chanted.

This is going to be so fun.

Thanks for reading...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The politics of music in the Mass

The title of this post is just weird.

There shouldn't BE politics when it comes to what is sung at Mass.

You look at the Roman Missal, choose option one and call it a day.

Right?

Ummm...No.

At least not these days. (And probably not before now either, despite what romantics would have you believe.)

At our parish, we are in the process of restoring one Mass to the musical standard of option one.

A small minority is complaining about it.

This group is very small...but they are very angry and VERY loud.

I must confess I don't understand why.

If people don't like what's going on at the one Mass...there are two others for them to choose from, that have a cantor, minimal Latin and your basic four hymn sandwich. 

At the ONE Mass that is being restored musically, the Ordinary is sung in Latin.  The occasional choral piece or hymn is sung in Latin. (The Latin hymns are devotional hymns that all Catholics should know and most used to.)

However, the Propers although being sung, are sung in English. Most people don't understand Latin, and the Propers are lessons, similar to the readings.  Singing them in Latin would defeat their purpose, which is instruction of the congregation. 

The Responsorial Psalm is still being sung instead of the Gradual.  The Alleluia is one that the congregation knows and it doesn't change every week.

We tried to introduce the Asperges Me, but after some people asked why we skipped the penitential rite, Father very wisely opted to hold off on that until he could offer the congregation some Catechisis on the Mass.

We haven't replaced the Opening Hymn with the Introit (it wasn't even suggested as this choir director thinks it would upset too many people) so we are in fact singing both.  (Slightly stuffing the Mass...but that's not a big deal except to those people who time it and get mad if the Mass doesn't come in at 50 minutes exactly.)

In fact all of the musical decisions have been made taking the sensibilities of the congregation into consideration, from start to finish.  Even so, I have been accused of making choices based solely on my personal preferences. 

HA!  That is hilarious, because it is so wildly untrue.

A Mass based solely on MY personal preferences, wouldn't have any hymns in it at all. (It is my opinion that hymns are for devotions not for the Mass).

There would be incense, candles and a battalion of altar BOYS.  Father's vestments would be as rich and expensive as the parish could afford, and he would have proper vestments in all the needed liturgical colors.

The Ordinary and all the dialogues would be sung...in Latin.  Including the Creed, the Our Father, the dismissal etc...They would NOT be accompanied by the organ.

The Propers would be sung.  In Latin. 

The Responsorial Psalm would be replaced by the Gradual. Sung in Latin.

The Alleluia or the Tract would be sung every week.  In Latin.

We'd sing the Asperges Me every week.

The sign of peace would not include all the glad handing that goes on right now, we'd go straight from Father saying "Let us offer each other the sign of peace" into the Agnus Dei.

While I'm venting...the handholding and the "touchdown Jesus" position would just stop happening.

We wouldn't have several extraordinary ministers at EVERY Mass. 

People would be able to receive the Eucharist on their knees if they wish, without worrying about "holding up the line" or "distracting people"  or having people think they are "showing off".

People would remember they were in the presence of the Son of God and dress accordingly, rather than dressing as if they were at the beach. or the bar.

But see...here's the thing...

My personal preferences have very little to do with anything.

The Propers have been restored to the Mass, because every little bit of legislation on the subject calls for the Propers to be sung.  By a choir if possible, but at least by a cantor. 

Since most of the people in our Parish are not fluent in Latin, they are sung in English.  Remember...my PERSONAL preference would be for the Latin...but English better serves the congregation, so that is what we sing, and what we will continue to sing...at least as long as I'm responsible for picking the music at that Mass.

The last three Popes have said that every Catholic should at least know the Missa de Angelis and the Jubilate Deo Mass Ordinaries.  Latin remains the official language of the church and all Catholics should know these two at a minimum so we can worship together at international Masses.

So while I like it...we sing it because the Pope has asked us to.

I've been told by more than one person not to obsess over what a few cranks are complaining about. 

Intellectually I understand that.  I know that some people just like to complain, and if they weren't complaining about this, they'd find something else to complain about.

I know that I can't make everyone happy.  I know that if the music really bothers someone, they have the option to go to another Mass. 

I know that most of the people coming to the High Mass, love the music and are very appreciative of the efforts that the choir is making.  (I know because people have come and told me so.)

I know that for years, those of us that wanted the High Mass didn't have any option, and that we aren't asking for too much by wanting the opportunity to attend such a Mass.  After all it's our parish too.

Finally I know that it doesn't matter which of the three Masses became the High Mass, the complainers would still complain.  And really having the last Mass of the weekend as the High Mass makes the most sense for a wide variety of reasons, the most practical of which being that it gives the incense a chance to dissipate before the next Mass...which is vitally important to those who have allergies. 

Emotionally however, it bothers me.  I don't like conflict, and I don't like the idea that anything I'm doing is making life harder for someone.

But you know what?  I don't necessarily think that it's a bad thing that it bothers me.  It helps ensure that I keep the needs of the congregation and the parish at the top of the list when making decisions. 

Which is as it should be.  Anyone in service to the church should put the needs of the congregation ahead of their own personal preferences. 

Well...I feel better now.

Thanks for reading...