Judy’s Bracelets

I need hope. I’m homesick and I haven’t even left for life on the road, yet. I look around my empty, too quiet barnyard and I miss the clucking hens, the screeching guineas, the baaing goats. I count how many Sunday Masses I have left to play for and I wonder where I will play my music when I’m on the road. How can I breath if I cannot play my flute somewhere? 

Judy likes to give out bracelets. In her younger years she had a hand in everything that went on in our little mission church. She was a powerful force in organizing dinners, fund raisers and raffles. Recently she has had to slow down quite a bit. Now she blesses us with her bracelets. One year it was angels. The next, St. Faustina. Then the Sacred Heart and Blessed Mother. Lately it has been blingy crosses. The bracelets are special, because they come from Judy, but also because they are given to us at church. When we wear them, we remember our connection. To each other, to St. Anne’s, to the Holy Catholic Church begun by Jesus himself, to Judy.

Last Sunday I counted 5 of us wearing our blingy crosses. I went home and discovered another one hiding in the bottom of my suitcase. Such a small thing. Such a big comfort. When I wear Judy’s bracelets, I feel connected. My heart is lighter, because I have a church family, even if I will be absent for awhile. Most of all I have hope. Hope that I will connect with more of my Catholic family as I travel. Hope that I will find other musicians to play with. Hope that, whatever God’s plan for me, I will recognize it and participate joyfully.

If you liked this post, you might enjoy:

Oops! God, Have Mercy, I Goofed Again


While The Cat’s Away…
Were You There When The Sun Refused To Shine?

Our Lady of Sorrows


Still Bucking the New Translation – Really??

Thanks to Dr. Jerry Galipeau’s excellent blog, Gotta Sing, Gotta Pray, I actually have a “keep it simple” topic  for today;)  Due to all the uproar about the New Translation, and also due to my continuing efforts to be a passable music director for my parishes, I try to follow Dr. Jerry’s blog.  He has been involved with publishing liturgical music for years, and his posts are usually informative and entertaining.  For several months now, he has been posting on issues with the New Translation of the Roman Missal, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I take a look every once in awhile.  The New Translation was mandated for use beginning in Advent of last year.  Six months later, people are still arguing its pros and cons.  Personally, though I like the New Translation, it would really make no difference to me if we went back to the old.

Okay, so I’m an oddball.  Part of me is traditional.  I wear the chapel veil.  I think the music for Mass should be dignified hymns or soft, inspirational melodies and chant, not “praise and worship, rock my world” stuff.  I prefer the tabernacle to be behind the altar, and the church to be dark and quiet, respectful, prayerful.  So I don’t always get my way.  I like to hear Mass in my primary language, but I want to share the joy with my friends who don’t speak or understand English so well, so I embrace the bi-lingual Mass, and can even muddle through a bit of Spanish.  Luckily I can play the flute and the organ in both Spanish and English. (yeah, some dumb humor;)  As a returned-fallen-away Catholic, I’m there for Mass.  Mass is the sacrifice of Jesus Body and Blood for my salvation.  Holy Communion is the common union with my fellow Mass-goers, and by extension the whole church, and hopefully one day the whole world, as the Body of Christ.

I go to Mass to hear the Word of God proclaimed and taught.  I want to learn how to be a better person.  I go to Mass to receive Holy Communion, Jesus entering into union with me to strengthen and transform me.  To remind me of my connection with that guy over there whose manners I find repulsive (hmm…is pride any better?).  And the lady whose dress is too short and too low cut (didn’t I used to dress like that myself?)  And the family who only shows up on Palm Sunday (there were a few years when I didn’t show up at all).  I don’t go to bicker over this word here or that word there.  I’ll let the pope and the cardinals and the bishops and their committees worry about all that stuff.  Life is too complicated.  For this simple-minded Catholic, I’ll take Dr. Jerry’s advice – gotta sing, gotta pray.  Nuff said.


The Pilgrim Virgin of Guadalupe

A couple of months ago I was priviledged to participate in the pilgrimage of Our Lady of Guadalupe within our Mexican community.  Once a year, a couple from Prescott brings a life-size portrait of the Virgin to our small town and She visits a number of homes where we gather for a nightly rosary, singing and a snack or meal afterwards.  The food is always wonderful, the fellowship is comforting and the prayer time is liberating.  More than one person has remarked on the relief experienced after laying his or her troubles at the feet of Our Lady.

This last visit lasted two months.  Though it was often difficult to drag myself out of the house in the evening, when all I wanted was to eat a simple meal in front of the TV or read a good book, once I got there the power of shared prayer and devotions worked its healing magic on my weary body and mind.

Now that the Pilgrim Virgin has moved on, I struggle to say my daily rosary.  The day gets so busy that when evening finally comes I am so tired that I fall into bed, reach over for my beads and maybe make it past the opening prayers before sleep overtakes me.  On days when we have somewhere to go, we manage to say the rosary in the car.  Living 50 miles from anywhere does have its perks.  Sometimes my best time to say the rosary is in the evenings when I am topping off water troughs for the animals.  The rhythm of the prayers, the cool of the mountain evening and the glory of the Arizona sunset just seem to lend themselves to meditation.  Even then, frequently the boy is pestering me to play cowboy squirt guns or throw the baseball with him.  Well, we keep trying.  And we are truly blessed!


The Sunday There Was No Mass

We live in a very rural area.  We were actually considered a “mission” church for many years before the Diocese restructured all the churches into independent entities.  For a while we didn’t even have a priest assigned to us.

Finally the Bishop decided to combine us with two other “local” churches and assign one priest to all three.  So our parish priest travels over 100 miles every Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist with three different communities.  Not to mention a “daily” Mass once a week, confessions, weddings, baptisms, etc., in each community.

So when a late winter storm struck last week and dropped a foot of snow on us, the middle church, on an early Saturday morning, we knew Father had alot more snow up at his higher altitude.  Snow continued off and on all day, with intermittent thawing, enough to wet the roads for ice overnight.  Sunday morning, the roads were closed due to multiple accidents and there was no route open for him to get to us to say Mass.  Inevitably, that Sunday the church was packed.  There is no deacon in our community, and without dispensation from the Bishop, we could not have a communion service.  We did, however, sing and have the Liturgy of the Word.  We then made a spiritual communion before leaving.

Afterwards, we had a food sale in the hall, and one generous patron made a large donation so that any who could not afford to buy could still eat.  It almost felt like what the early church must have been like.  But it also felt suspiciously Protestant.  Without the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, I left with a longing and a hunger not satisfied.  I also missed the usual rituals.  I love the entire process of the Mass, from the processing in, the readings, the shared profession of faith, offering the gifts, consecration, Holy Communion, and final blessing.  When I was away from the Church, this is what I missed.  Since I have come back, I don’t want to be without it.  To receive Jesus, fully, into my body and soul; to have His grace well up inside me and overflow all around me, this I long for.  This I desire most of all.  I continue to pursue it and can never get enough.  I am weak and human, and utterly fallable.  I need His strength to attempt to live fully.

In our area we get this reminder several times a year when Father is sick, or the weather prevents him from coming to say Mass.  How fortunate and grateful we are that we do have a priest to come and say Mass on Sunday, even one extra day a week.  With the shortage of vocations and a culture that despises celibacy, we may someday soon have to drive a great distance to get to Mass.  What a tragedy indeed, if the odd Sunday was the one that we did have Mass.


Fulton Sheen’s Cause – Victim Of Another Bishops’ Snafu?

Rocco Palmo’s latest update to Whispers In The Loggia today, cites yet another incomprehensible move by our “hierarchy”.  I can only hope that it is just a miscommunication that got out of hand.  According to the website for archbishop Sheen’s cause for sainthood, the Diocese of Peoria is passing the buck for Sheen’s beatification, because the Archdiocese of New York won’t release Sheen’s remains for reinterrment in his home diocese.  OH PULEEEZ!!  Are we little boys on the playground fighting over territory?  Do we need to stand in the corner until we can play nice?!

Excuse my ignorant little backwoods version of common sense, but I think that the BIG BOYS need to talk it out and get back to the cause.  Fulton Sheen took Catholicism to the modern world even before Mother Angelica, through his writings and his television series “Life is Worth Living”.  His humor and advice are still timely, and I think we deserve a modern day saint to inspire us.

Now that I have had my rant, I truly hope that Archbishop Dolan (no relation) will take up the cause for Archbishop Sheen, and that we will soon have another official example of how to live for Jesus in the midst of this world’s insanity.