Advent Reflection – Dec. 8 and Dec. 9

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What role does music play in your faith life? What role does Mary have in your Christian discipleship?

From Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2016-17 by Birhsop Robert F. Morneau


Music plays such a profound role in the church I attend, both the physical parish and the church of my heart. We are blessed with a beautiful choir and our musical director is so talented and has such an amazing voice. For the Immaculate Conception, he sang Ave Maria, and each Christmas I look forward to his singing of O, Holy Night. It defies description and takes my breath away.

I have always been a fan of Gregorian chants and Welsh choirs are the voices of angels.

It is not only hymns and church music that brings me spirituality. I have an affinity for modern, albeit alternative music that lets me travel in my mind to many places and thoughts. My current favorite is the Hamilton soundtrack and my collection of Supernatural and The Walking Dead music. They truly do feed my soul in ways that only writing typically does.

If the flute is being played, we dance. At Christmas parties and wedding celebrations we eat and drink in moderation. If a dirge sounds, we mourn the loss of a loved one or repent of our sins by doing penance, by practicing asceticism.

From Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas:Waiting in Joyful Hope 2016-17 by Bishop Robert F. Morneau

We’ve had this difficulty all year – of trying to discern when to dance and when to mourn. This whole year has been a long, drawn out pop culture funeral beginning with David Bowie and Alan Rickman followed by Prince and Muhammad Ali, and continuing most recently with Florence Henderson and John Glenn. Some of them have been harder on my heart than others, but so much of my childhood has been disappearing before my eyes.

It is always difficult to continue living our daily lives with so much sorrow hanging over us. Each death brought me down, but I got back up. We get ourselves back up and we keep going. Because that’s what we do.

After my mother-in-law was hit by a car and almost died three years ago, we thought she’d live forever. She wasn’t supposed to walk or leave the hospital, and she did. As hard as it was, and as long as it took, she was home, she was walking and she was doing great. She is the epitome of energy and independence and inspiration. We are fortunate that my daughter seems to have inherited all of that from her.

We were stunned while on a visit after school let out that she passed away suddenly at the end of June. We were with her earlier in the day, talking, joking, she admiring my daughter’s taste in clothes as well as the discount we got in buying it. Bargains and garage sales made her happy.

Her passing made all the others less significant, and it’s taken a lot to get through it.Thanksgiving without her was difficult and I know that Christmas will be even harder. We didn’t see her for Christmas, but we spoke to her throughout the day. She is missed every day. Her birthday is in a few weeks, and we will continue to struggle with this loss that is so deep and devastating.

John Glenn (1921-2016)

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John Glenn is an American Hero. I do not use that description lightly. I’ve known John Glenn’s name since I was a child. I’ve spoken about my memories of the Moon Landing in 1969 and my love of Star Trek throughout my life, but John Glenn epitomized so many of the passions in my life.

I didn’t want to be a princess; I wanted to be an astronaut (and about a thousand other things). I watched anything space related that was televised including shuttle launches and landings. I’ve visited the Air and Space Museum at The Smithsonian. I took my class on a field trip to the Cradle of Aviation “museum” at Roosevelt Field when it was just a warehouse, but it had the space equipment to see and explore. I can still remember visiting Kennedy Space Center on one of our family trips to Florida. I still have a stuffed astronaut doll/pillow in a plastic bag somewhere in my garage. Even the mold on it won’t get me to throw it away. I have horrible, vivid memories of the Challenger.

John Glenn was a pioneer; a space man. He was gthe last surviving member of the original Mercury 7 astronauts. He was the first American to orbit the Earth and was only the fifth man in space. Prior to that he was a member of the Marine Corps and he flew combat missions in World War II and the Korean War. He broke a transcontinental speed record flying from Los Angeles to New York, going at supersonic speed. He was a Senator from Ohio, serving four terms with the Democratic party, leaving his mark on my political junkie self. And then after all of that, he returned to space again, becoming the oldest man to travel in space when he served aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

Remarkable.

And more important than those milestones was the kind of person he was. Kind and thougtful, patriotic and dedicated, gracious and never losing sight of where he was from and still encouraging new generations to strive upward and onward, ever moving forward.

Please read this remembrance from journalist, Connie Schultz:

Difficult to Fathom a World without Gracious Hero John Glenn

The New York Times Profile

John Glenn’s NASA Profile

Original Art. Colored pencils. (c)2016

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

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It’s funny how year after year we do things, like observe or celebrate days, and they pass without extra thought.

Today is December 8th and the Immaculate Conception of Mary.It is a holy day of obligation, but I think that even if it weren’t, as our church is named for this feast, we would still enjoy our patron’s day.

At church today, we had the Mass, filled with music followed by hospitality in the gathering space. Sweet breads with apples, cranberries, nuts. Clementines. All varieties of bagels. Coffee, tea, water and juice. Our hospitality ministry really outdoes itself each and every time.

We celebrate Mary’s conception, but we also talk about and remember her Son’s conception, the annunciation, the visitation, the assumption, all the things Mary represents. Our musical director has a beautiful voice, and sings Ave Maria, a rendition that makes me want to simply close my eyes and open my ears and let the prayer rest on my heart.

It wasn’t until later, until after I left, as I thought about all the ways I’m attached to Mary, as a mother, as a daughter, putting the world ahead of her own needs as all mothers do. We give to our kids all the time; so much so that we often don’t even notice we’re doing it.

I glanced at the calendar and realized quite suddenly that my mother died twelve years ago today. I hadn’t noticed because for her yartzeit, her memorial candle, we follow the Jewish calendar, and so her anniversary is the first night of Chanukah, which changes each year. This year it is on Christmas Eve, so that is the date on my mind, but physically, it was today.

She died before I wandered into the church, so I never made the association before today. My mother shares her day with Mary, Mother of All.

It was comforting.

Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall

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Back in the spring, the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall came to one of our local towns. It is a smaller, to scale version of the Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. I’ve seen the replica wall before and it is still surprising at how moving and emotional it can be to visit.

If you have the opportunity to see it in your own area, take it. It is paid for through donations, so you can pay what you can afford and take as muich time as you need for your visit.

There is an area where you can look up family members or friends who may be engraved on the wall, and you can have the opportunity to take a pencil engraving.

There is the continual hum of all of the names being read while you visit.