Monday, December 19, 2011

St. Nick

I wish I had this charming post by Regina Doman about Santa Claus for St. Nicholas' Day on December 6, but it's good to have it now. I especially liked this part:
Our pastor Fr. Jerome Fasano (whom I think is the best homilist in the US) gave us a stern lecture Dec. 6th weekend when he first came to our parish, talking about the terrible scandal of so many Catholics in American accepting heresy, even unwittingly, because of lack of teaching. He said that he was pleased to see how devout and faithful our parish was, but he suspected us of harboring one heresy he found absolutely unacceptable: that there is no Santa Claus. (There was a relieved shout of laughter from the congregation at his words.) Now he gives a similar version of the homily seasonally, telling us the facts about St. Nicholas (for instance, that he was imprisoned for the faith, and that he attended the Council of Nicea, where he distinguished himself by punching Arius the heretic in the nose), and urging us to not deny our children devotion to this wonderful saint.
With Christmas around the corner, it's not too late to be talking about St. Nicholas. You know about this web site of St. Nicholas resources, right?

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Ray of Sonshine in a Worldly World

Via Elizabeth Scalia comes this NPR story about a "victim who treats his mugger right":
"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."

The Anchoress writes:
NPR did not make this connection, but I will:

"To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. (Luke 29)"

Read the whole thing, both links.

Diaz's mother must have had her heart flutter as she heard her son tell her what happened; but she responded to the story by telling him, "You're the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch."

That's the kind of person I want to be.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I didn't really post in time last week for {phfr}...

round button chicken last week is this week's.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, December 5, 2011

An Advent playlist

My kids are playing all of my Christmas music.

What can I say? They're kids--they love this time of year. They love Christmas.

But I still want my Advent.

So I'm sharing the list of songs that I turn on every time I think to wrest back control of iTunes. It's Advent music, and I have been collecting it for the express purpose of having holiday music to play and still being able to save "Joy to the World" and "O Come All Ye Faithful" for Christmas morning.

I'm not so much of a purist, however that way my temptations lies, that I won't ever listen to early Christmas music without a grudge, although I admit to being a humbug sometimes. And I actually enjoy quite a few pieces that are what you might call secular/classical holiday music. But today I want to think about Advent. So here's my playlist, informally.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
I have three different versions on this playlist. First, "Veni, Veni Emmanuel" by The Christendom College Choir and Schola Gregoriana, is an old school, Latin, choral version of the quintessential Advent hymn. I scored this at iTunes U, which is just an awesome resource for all kinds of free stuff.

Then there's "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (Reprise)", from Celtic Christmas by Eden's Bridge. I love this group. This is a soulful, more intimate version of this beloved song (and in English).

I have a personal attachment to A Season of Hope: Rediscovering Our Advent Heritage by the Brotherhood of Hope. I will be saying more about this album. For now, can you tell now that I love "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"? This one only has two verses, but it's a neat sort of "mash-up" with another song. "Watchman, Tell Us of the Night," has antiphonal lyrics from the 18th century and an (I think) original melody.

Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day
1833's version of Lord of the Dance. I still like it. Seriously, though, this song combines the anticipation of Christmas Eve with the drama of the Incarnation. (My version only has the chorus and first two verses.) It's a light, happy melody with a merry English feel.

Creator of the Stars of Night
This is one of the hymns I brought home from church, so to speak, where we typically have accompaniment. This a cappella version is beautiful. On YouTube, a solo version.

On Jordan's Bank the Baptist's Cry
Another favorite from liturgical hymns, from the same album, Advent Promise. The best thing is when the kids and I are singing these from the hymnal. They are already familiar with the melody; the younger ones practice their reading, we all get a little theology lesson. Which is the way such music should work, after all.

Ave Maria
The verses that, one might say, marked the beginning of the first Advent in earnest. The "Ave Maria" has been set to music by countless composers. Gounod's is hands down my favorite. Absolutely. And yet I currently have only an instrumental version. Here's one of the best tenors of the day, Juan Diego Florez, singing it.

I do have a recording of Juan Diego Florez singing "Ave Maria" by Schubert the other standard, perhaps even better known than Gounod's, and of course, just gorgeous
Gabriel's Message
The story of the Annunciation to music again, but a more modern telling. This is a recent discovery of mine--only last year. I find this recording by Moya Brennan intriguing.

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Thanks to this recording, I think that this is one of the most beautiful Advent hymns ever composed. Watch it here on YouTube; the version on the album is even prettier.

O Eve
I think this one, by composer Frank La Rocca, is still my favorite.

Canticle of St. Nicholas.
I don't remember where I got this lovely Ukranian carol. I think it was a free Amazon download, but it's popping up as a free download everywhere on search engines now. I'd love to know what it says. The best I can tell, it's a hymn in praise of St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, who is highly revered in many European countries and whose feast is December 6 or December 19, depending on whose calendar you are using.

People Look East
There are two songs I automatically think of when someone says "Advent music": "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," and this one. It's a stately recessional hymn when sung at Mass, but at home I like this version by Al Petteway and Amy White--it's low-key but upbeat, a nice start to the ramp-up for Christmas.

Also worth mentioning are two albums that make great Advent listening in their entirety. One is, of course, Handel's Messiah. The words for Part I of this Easter masterpiece are drawn heavily from Isaiah, which makes it thematically perfect for Advent. It has become a traditional Christmas concert piece. (I actually have only a CD of highlights, but they're all good Advent-y highlights!)

The other is the above mentioned A Season of Hope, by the Brotherhood of Hope, which I am happy to see is also available on iTunes. This is a wonderfully varied collection of music, and proceeds support the Brothers in their ministry. I owe a debt of gratitude to their spiritual care in my college days, so I like to give them a shout-out when I can. They put out this album when Advent albums were a little harder to come by.

What's your favorite Advent music?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe

In this house is a growing devotion to Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I found this novena recently from some of my records--I wish I remembered where I got it so I could give credit--and thought I would share it with you. Start it tomorrow, to finish the prayers on the day before the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12.

First Day

Dearest Lady of Guadalupe, fruitful Mother of holiness, teach me your ways of gentleness and strength. Hear my humble prayer offered with heartfelt confidence to beg this favor......
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Second Day

O Mary, conceived without sin, I come to your throne of grace to share the fervent devotion of your faithful Mexican children who call to you under the glorious Aztec title of Guadalupe. Obtain for me a lively faith to do your Son’s holy will always: May His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Third Day

O Mary, whose Immaculate Heart was pierced by seven swords of grief, help me to walk valiantly amid the sharp thorns strewn across my pathway. Obtain for me the strength to be a true imitator of you. This I ask you, my dear Mother.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Fourth Day

Dearest Mother of Guadalupe, I beg you for a fortified will to imitate your divine Son’s charity, to always seek the good of others in need. Grant me this, I humbly ask of you.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Fifth Day

O most holy Mother, I beg you to obtain for me pardon of all my sins, abundant graces to serve your Son more faithfully from now on, and lastly, the grace to praise Him with you forever in heaven.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Sixth Day

Mary, Mother of vocations, multiply priestly vocations and fill the earth with religious houses which will be light and warmth for the world, safety in stormy nights. Beg your Son to send us many priests and religious. This we ask of you, O Mother.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Seventh Day

O Lady of Guadalupe, we beg you that parents live a holy life and educate their children in a Christian manner; that children obey and follow the directions of their parents; that all members of the family pray and worship together. This we ask of you, O Mother.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Eighth Day

With my heart full of the most sincere veneration, I prostrate myself before you, O Mother, to ask you to obtain for me the grace to fulfill the duties of my state in life with faithfulness and constancy.
Our father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Ninth Day

O God, You have been pleased to bestow upon us unceasing favors by having placed us under the special protection of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Grant us, your humble servants, who rejoice in honoring her today upon earth, the happiness of seeing her face to face in heaven.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

{this moment} - Christmas Tree Lights

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, visit SouleMama and leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Revisiting a good week...

I've noticed something.

I tend to be very quiet about the big days. (With exceptions. It's not right to add another person to your family without publicly acknowledging it. ☺) But many times when we have something big going on--something one would think merit a mention--I just don't talk about it here. I seem to need a few days to emerge, and then it seems dated to post about it.

Last weekend, for example. We had an unusually full and blessed few days. When these days happened, we were immersed in the moment. But this time, I am not worrying about being less than timely.

Happy Thanksgiving, by the way. And Happy Advent.

Here are some of the big days we had.

Guests and games at Thanksgiving

Anwen, born again

Getting a Christmas tree

I actually prefer to get a tree later in the season. Some in this house have a different opinion! And the chance to go with extended family, in town for Anwen's baptism, was too good an opportunity to miss.

My birthday rainbow at sunset...can you see it?

Updated for {phfr} 12/8/2011:

round button chicken

All of this post's pictures count for at least one of Pretty, Happy, Funny, and Real. But here's a bonus:

Real. That's me; for my birthday, my family crowned me Queen for the Day with an artificial lei.

I tell you what, I'm as rich as a queen every single day with them.


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