Like all of us, I would imagine, I had a very busy summer planned–virtually all of which has been canceled. One thing that was not canceled, but instead moved online, is the national convention for pastoral musicians (NPM). This was to be my first time presenting, and all the presentations are going forward, albeit in a different format.
For the past several weeks, I have been working with fellow Catholic composers Janèt Sullivan Whitaker (“In Every Age”) and Sarah Kroger (“In the Silence”)to prepare a women’s retreat. While the retreat was originally intended as an in-person, one-day event for convention-goers, moving it online has given us the chance to open up participation to women of many interests from across the country. How cool is that?
The Women’s Retreat has a $40 fee and will meet for one hour each on May 21 & 22 (4-5 p.m. Eastern) and two hours May 23rd (1-3 p.m. Eastern) over–what else?–Zoom!
Sarah , Janèt and I, along with the amazing Berta Sabrio, will be breaking open the topics of “Encounter; Named and beloved; Call/Mission.” I hope you can join us!
Please feel free to share. We’d love to have as many Catholic women participate as possible. This link takes you to registration–it is the link for registration for the NPM convention, so to register only for the women’s retreat, click “not a current member” and go to the second page, where the last option at the bottom of the page is “register for pre-convention events in May and June only.” From there you’ll be able to choose the women’s retreat.
It’s going to be a great event. Hope to see many of you there!
No doubt most of us experienced this already, but just in case, I wanted to make sure I shared it. I wasn’t able to watch live, but I used it as my morning prayer this morning and it was a very emotional and beautiful experience.
It is peak color where I live. Every year at this time, I go crazy with my DSLR. Today seems like a good time to share the beauty that is God’s creation–the glimpse of God’s goodness and beauty and creativity that comes as the world is preparing to settle into its long winter rest. How can we see such glory and not feel, in our bones, the responsibility that comes with being the crowning of creation?
(Note: as I noted late last week, I am celebrating my 20th anniversary
this week with a trip with my husband. As you can imagine, a
work-at-home mother of 4 trying to pull off an anniversary trip means a
LOT of logistical planning, so this week I’m sharing, with minor
edits, a post originally published on my personal blog
in 2009. To understand it, you need to know that my daughter Julianna
has Down syndrome. At the time this was written, she was a toddler. This
is one of my all-time favorite spiritual lessons learned from my
It happened for the first time over the Fourth of July weekend. We were staying with my in-laws, and Julianna’s cousins sat on the floor with her and played “Pat-a-Cake.” They showed her the motions and chanted the little ditty in unison, and about the time they reached “put it in the oven for…” Julianna would erupt in a long, loud yell and clap her hands, showing every one of her teeth. The girls did the rhyme over and over, and Julianna never let them down. Every single time, she overlapped the last line with a shout of joy. (I can’t call it a squeal, because that word connotes something much higher-pitched, and Julianna’s is a dusky alto voice.)
In the last six weeks, that fresh, unsophisticated reaction has become one of our favorite things about life with our daughter. It makes us laugh, but not for the reason you think. Yes, it’s funny and cute, but there’s a pure, unadulterated joy in that reaction that never fails to evoke a sympathetic resonance in our own souls. All children find joy in simple things, but it’s more pronounced in Julianna, because of the unevenness of her development. Her body’s skill level is, oh, let’s call it fourteen months; her speech is even farther behind than that—but her emotional level, her understanding, is much closer to her true age of 2 ½. So the things she reacts to are far ahead of her ability to express.
We had pizza one night, and she yelled and clapped to show how excited she was. My husband caught on quickly. He began to encourage her, saying, “Yay for the pizza!” Julianna learned her cue so well that her daddy progressed to “Yay for the ice cream!”
She’s unbearably cute about it. She grins so hard, her eyes squint;
she yells, claps her hands, and looks around to make sure everybody is
taking as much pleasure in the moment as they ought to be.
One morning last week, as I was out running and soaking in the wonder of a beautiful sunrise, I found myself smiling and saying, “Yay, God!” And it hit me: this is the meaning of praise. The psalms are full of “praise God!” Somewhere along the line I remember learning that prayer should be first praise, then thanks, and only after that petition. I have always been confused by the difference between praise and thanks. Aren’t they one and the same? What words do you use to praise God? Eventually I came to the conclusion that “praise” is one of those “effective” words—a word that has no meaning except its own utterance—a word that accomplishes its meaning simply by the act of being spoken, like “I baptize you” or “I forgive you.”
But Julianna has taught me a deeper truth: that praise is not about
words at all. It’s about opening yourself up to the moment, delighting
in what you experience, and allowing the knowledge of the One Who made
it possible to intensify the joy.
Sometimes it feels like railing against consumerism has become downright cliché. But things become cliché for a reason. Here’s another cliché: when we spend hours picking out a host of presents for a kid, spend a ton of money on it, and what they find most interesting is the box. We all recognize the truth of that one! It’s happened to all of us, right?–your kids are given gifts and they’re like, “Yeah, whatever, what’s next?” As a parent, it makes you writhe with shame. Too bad we aren’t so aware when we do that ourselves….
This is the first of two hard-hitting quotes that should cause us to examine our consciences and our biases. It’s easy to make fun of “tree huggers,” isn’t it? To view concerns about environment as secondary (at best) or pagan (at worst). Tune in tomorrow for the second half.
In my “other” life, part of what I do is writing and composing for the Church. Recently I found out that my newest song from WLP, “Show Us Your Face,” was named as a finalist in the Association of Catholic Publishers’ “Excellence in Publishing” awards for 2019. You can hear it on the “listen” tab at this link.
Two other songs are in the running, both of them fierce competition:
Rise Again, written by my friend Christian Cosas; and Struggler, by Brother Isaiah and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Hope you’ll listen to all three!