Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's New Year's Eve...

so I thought I'd give an update of this past year! Not sure why anyone would be interested in reading the humble occupations of my year, but it can be rather interesting. So here goes!

January: Um...January. I really expected to remember things that happened a whole year ago? :P I know, I'll check my journal! I stopped writing in it in April, and I think I remember events pretty well from then on. *checks journal* Oh...duh! How could I forget? That was the month in which my sister and I journeyed to a large city about 4 hours from our house and auditioned for the summer intensive of their ballet company's school! That was a very exciting day. It was thrilling to be in such a big city, and in a major ballet studio! My audition left something to be desired, to be sure (it was the 15 and up age group, and everyone else had at least 8 years of ballet to my 2), but it wasn't horrible, and my sister said I had some of the highest extensions, so that made me happy! We had center on pointe, which wasn't much fun for me since I'd been on pointe for a grand total 3 months? But it was okay. After the audition, we visited the priest who had been transferred from our church.
The pro-life rally at our church was that month as well. The girls' group had made a lot of quilts to donate to pregnancy help centers, which were much appreciated.

February: February is never terribly exciting for me, and from I can remember, this one was no different. The biggest thing was that I finally decided that I would not try to have a career in ballet, and that I have a calling to write. It was such a relief! :) Writing has always been the thing that was me.
One of my best friends (I'll call her Essie) also spent two weeks in Italy to visit the order of sisters she joined later in the year!

March: The first part of this month was mainly taken up by our youth ballet company's production of "Beauty and the Beast"! My sister (you know, I'm just going to start calling her Evangeline, which is what her username on the FTN Forum is - even though she never posts!) and I had been rather disappointed with how small our roles - the helpers of the fairy godmother - but they turned out to be wonderful! First off, we were on pointe and the other three fairy helpers weren't, which added a sort of hierarchy and more interest; and, best of all, the little girls in the audience loved us! I think we may have been the most exciting for them - we were fairies and we were "real dancers" in pointe shoes! After one performance, we went to find our parents in the lobby and I think at least 10 parents asked if they could take their kids' picture with us! It was pretty cool...they were so excited and some of them shook our hands and gave us hugs! It was so cute.
On March 13, my friend Essie was accepted into the order! That was very exciting and joyful, but also sad as she informed us she'd be leaving in September.

April: Essie and I had our last sleepover ever. It was a very fun, bittersweet occasion. We stayed up talking half the night, of course, and she told me all about her visit and we just talked. We had a lovely time!

May: We went on a pilgrimage to Holy Hill with our church - it was a wonderful time! We rode a bus there and back again, which was tons of fun; walked in procession to the main church (I carried the Altar and Rosary banner and man was it heavy!); and then attended Mass, for which our choir and choirs from two other apostolates sang (it sounded awesome the times we sang together!). We had a picnic lunch on the large, beautiful grounds, and then attended Holy Hour before returning home.
There was a dinner at church thanking everyone at church who cleans, sings, cooks, or anything else. As usual, my friends and I had a lot of fun helping at it and eating at it and cleaning up after it!
Evangeline turned 13 at the end of the month and we celebrated by going to our favorite pizza place!

June: I turned 16 at the beginning of the month! We went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner...they had an amazing chandelier that looked like a ship (I'll post the picture when I get it off the camera...6 months later. :P We lost our USB cable.)! And I ate lots and lots of egg rolls and crab rangoon and bourbon chicken, so I was quite happy! ;)
There were two weddings at our church towards the end of the month, one on Friday and one on Saturday! Both were beautiful, and I had such a good time dancing at the second one!

July: For the first week we had ballet class, and then we headed down to the summer intensive! You can read all about it here and here.
We came back home on weekends. One Sunday was the church picnic, which was fun, as always, and I discovered I can roll down hills and climb through brush in a long skirt! :D

August:! What an exhausting, fun-filled month it was. The first week (which was also our first week home from the intensive) we went to the Company of the Immaculate Girls' Camp. It was fun for the most part! The next week was filled with class and rehearsals with the youth ballet company for Peter and the Wolf and the Ugly Duckling, which we'll be performing in March.
That same week, a girl from France came to stay with us for two weeks! Her family is friends of Fr. F. and she and her older brother came to see America! They happened to come at a very good time, too...there were parties galore, for birthdays, going-aways (that was the surprise party we had for Essie), and just people wanting to party! I think there must have been at least 6 or 7. It was a blast!

September: Essie left in the first week, which was a bittersweet occasion. I still really miss her. :( This is the post I wrote when she left.
This was also about the time I joined the Fairy Tale Novel Forum (for fans of the novels by Regina Doman - I'd read "Shadow of the Bear" in May), which has been amazingly fun and wonderful! I'm so happy to count all you forum people among my friends! After much hesitation, I also started writing a serial story called "Past the Ends of the Earth" for "Ink and Fairydust", the forum's online newspaper (click here for the latest issue), and I'm pleased to see that people seem to be enjoying it!
I also joined the Pevensie family in the role-playing on the forum, and I'm now Blanche Rose Pevensie, daughter of King Peter and Lady Rose! It's a lot of fun...we have exciting adventures which are great fun to go on, and I think it's helped improve my writing!

October: This was a pretty quiet month. I read and wrote a lot, did school...normal things like that. We prayed the rosary in front of the Family Planning Clinic as a part of 40 Days for Life, and there was another dinner!

November: I was sick a good portion of this month with swine flu, ear infection, sinus infection, goodness knows what else! I managed to write my essay for the Knights of Columbus Respect Life essay contest, though, and it won first place at the regional level for my grade!

December: Lots of Nutcracker-ing! Ahh...I love the's sad that that might havebeen my last one! We shall see. That month went sooo was kind of sad! But Christmas was lovely.

And so here I am, with 1 hour and 17 minutes of 2009 left! It was a good year with lots of changes, mostly for the better. I pray that 2010 will be wonderful and blessed for all of you!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas (how's that for an original sounding title?)

Merry Christmas once again, everyone! I hope you all had a great day!

We arrived at church at 10 pm on Christmas Eve, to practice with the choir before we sang carols..."O Holy Night/Cantique de Noel", "Angels We Have Heard on High", "What Child is This", etc...for half an hour before Mass started.

Father came out into the dimly-lit church at 11 as we sang "My Sheep Were Grazing" and picked up the statue of Baby Jesus in the manger that was sitting on the altar. He then processed to the back of the church carrying the statue, accompanied by us singing "Gesu Bambino", put the statue in the nativity scene in the narthex, and then returned with the statue of the Infant of Prague as we sang "Silent Night." The Infant of Prague was placed on the top of the tabernacle, which is where it remains all through the Christmas season.

The Mass began, and we sang Hessler's "Missa Secunda". It went surprisingly well, seeing as we had started learning it in October and had nailed the Agnus Dei um...about 2 days previous? But it went with hardly a hitch. :)

After socializing for a while after Mass, we returned home around 1 am and sat up and drank egg nog and each opened a gift. Tradition!

My sister and I had to sing at the 10 am Christmas Day Mass, so we did that and then came home and had breakfast and opened gifts. I received many very nice gifts! I just don't feel like listing them all at the moment. ;) Oh, but I'm going to have to take some pictures of the decoupaged box I made for my sister! All you Regina Doman fans will especially like it!

Well, I was going to write a summary of our priest's Christmas sermon, but as I'm developing a splitting headache and can't remember much of it at the moment, it will have to wait! Uh I have two promised posts! heheh

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gaudete, gaudete! Christus natus hodie!

Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born!

Well, the actual day is tomorrow, but as I won't be coming on that day, I would like to wish you all a very merry and blessed Christmas now! I hope you all have beautiful, very blessed Christmasses, my wonderful friends! I'll be praying for you all at Mass tonight and tomorrow morning!

And here is a gift for you all - a chapter from my book, "No Greater Love". I hope you enjoy it!

Just to give a brief overview of the story and characters, so you aren't completely lost, as this chapter comes about halfway through the book: Meg is a 14-year-old girl growing up in London, with her widowed mother, and her good friend Jimmy and his parents. Her father's cousin's family, the Lathrops (Mr. and Mrs. Lathrop, Beth and her husband Billy, John, Eliza, Peter, Henry, and Ann) are visiting them from their home in Yorkshire.

Christmas, 1901

Mum and I were very busy the next few weeks with cleaning and preparing for Christmas. It seemed that we were busy from dawn ‘til dusk, but the beautifully clean house and wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen certainly made up for it.

Finally Christmas Eve arrived, and with it Mr. and Mrs. Lathrop, Eliza, Peter, Henry, and Ann from the farm, Beth and Billy from their little homestead, and John from his school. Jimmy had come home the week before. He looked so different, so much older and taller and more serious. I was almost afraid of him – he just didn’t seem like our Jimmy anymore. How I missed the freckle-faced little lad who had been the dear friend and confidante of my growing-up years. Even though we were both only fourteen, I felt that we had both aged exceedingly since we were twelve and I often sighed for the old days. Why did we have to grow up so fast?

Everyone gathered at our house for dinner around 6 o’ clock, and then we sat in the living room and talked for a few hours. There was a lot of news to be shared – John was doing very well at his art school and his professors all greatly admired his work; Billy and Beth had been able to buy another cow, the milk from which was going to help bring in some more income; Alice informed me that a boy at school was “dead gone” on Eliza, who denied this with a laugh and a toss of her pretty head; Mum told them I had received the highest marks in my class for English this term; and Mrs. Lathrop told us about a singing school some people in the village had begun.

An hour before Midnight Mass we all retired into our rooms to change into our best clothes. Beth came into mine so we could do each other’s hair, and we laughed and talked and teased one another. It was just like old times, aside from the growing bump under her dress.

That, however, was one thing we talked about very excitedly. Would it be a boy or a girl? Blonde like Beth, or dark like Billy? We were sure it would be tall, and we knew without a doubt it would be marvelously good-looking. Beth said she would like me to come and stay with her for a few days when it was ready to be born, and I gladly agreed.

We arrived at church half-an-hour before Mass so we could pray and listen to the choir singing all the old carols. As I knelt between Mum and Beth, I closed my eyes and pictured the little stable I had been building in my heart. All through Advent I had been thinking about how to make a welcoming home for my Infant King to arrive in at Midnight Mass. He would be sleepy – it was His first night in our world, after all – so I had strove to be patient and kind to everyone, even to those girls at school I found especially trying. No storm of rage was going to disturb His slumber if I could help it.

But when He awoke, He was going to want to laugh and smile and see something pleasant, so I had tried to always have a smile on my face, a good word for each person I spoke to, a story or remark that would make them laugh. No one wants to be around someone who is always somber and dreary, so I hoped to bring a smile to the face of Jesus by endeavoring to bring a smile everyone I saw.

Our Lady had been the best of all mothers, so to honor her I had tried my best to be gentle and caring to everyone. That fall and winter Sister had put a few of the older girls in charge of helping the little ones into their coats before we went outside for recess or to go home, and I was always smiling and attentive with my small charges. Before Mass each morning, too, I had waited to help old Mrs. Macready up the icy stairs of the church. And like St Joseph, that most privileged man, I tried to take the best and most loving care of those dear to me.

But the Three Kings had brought Our Lord fine, rich presents, and I wanted to follow suit. How well I knew, though, that I had nothing worthy to offer. Even all the good deeds I had tried so hard to practice were nothing but the straw of the stable in comparison with His infinite glory. I knew that it was only through His eyes of love that they transformed into something beautiful and worthwhile. There was only one thing more I could think of would be big enough to give Him, and that one thing was myself. I gave it gladly. Myself was certainly not very much, but I knew that to Him I was more precious than all the gold and frankincense and myrrh in the world. To Him, I was a precious jewel, and so I offered this jewel to Him wholeheartedly.

The high, pure voice of young Frank O’Neil, the most gifted singer in our choir, suddenly rose above the soft tones of the organ and perfectly expressed what my heart was saying at that very moment.

“What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd,

I would bring a lamb.

If I were Wise Man,

I would do my part.

Yet what can I give Him?

Give Him my heart!”

“Give Him my heart!” the choir echoed.

“Give Him my heart,” he finished, and those words, sung in that hauntingly lovely melody, echoed in my soul forever.


The next morning we all arose in time for the 9 o’ clock Mass of the Angels. As I entered the church, dipping my fingers in the holy water, I noticed Jimmy already there, with his eyes tightly closed and lips moving in prayer. I smiled, for I knew he had also attended the 7 o’ clock Mass of the Shepherds, and my heart rejoiced to see him spending so much time in prayer.

Mass was truly overflowing with beauty and happiness, and it spilled into the hearts of everyone there, judging from the merry greetings and brightly-colored packages everyone exchanged after it was over. The vestibule was filled with people, all laughing and talking and embracing.

My arms were full of gifts from my school friends and I almost dropped a few as I made my way over to where Fr. Wiseman and Fr. Lewis were greeting people.

“Happy Christmas, Meg!” said Father Wiseman, laughing as I disentangled my hand from the gifts to shake hands with him.

“Happy Christmas, Father!” I said. “And happy Christmas, Father Lewis!” I added, turning to him. “This is for you both.” I put the packages on the floor so I could hand them the basket of cakes, cheese, and jelly I had been carrying on my arm.

Father Lewis took the basket and looked under the cloth.

“It looks wonderful, Meg!” he smiled. “All this food – ” he gestured to four other baskets piled high with delicacies – “it will make me fat!”

I laughed and then turned to Alice, who had run up to tell me it was time to go.

“I’ll see you at dinner!” I said, and then ran home with my cousins through the lightly falling snow.

When we arrived home, Mum, Mrs. Lathrop, Beth, Eliza, and I all went right to work in the kitchen, while Mr. Lathrop, Billy, John, and Peter set up all the chairs and tables we owned in the living room, and Alice and Henry took care of Ann and arranged the gifts around our Christmas tree.

The Windhams, Father Wiseman, and Father Lewis all arrived right at half-past noon, and it wasn’t long before we were sitting down around the tables and eating all of the wonderful food we had prepared! There was a big ham, a turkey stuffed with oyster dressing, bowls of yams and squash, collared greens and spinach and corn, cranberry jelly, mincemeat pie, plum pudding, and three different kinds of cake. Father Wiseman joked that if he ate any more, he wouldn’t be able to get up from the table!

So then we all moved into the sitting room to continue enjoying each other’s company. As everyone arranged themselves around the room and continued their conversations, I sat down at the little desk in the corner and was rather quiet for some time. I hadn’t really spoken to Jimmy the night before or today, aside from the usual “Hello” and “Happy Christmas”, and I was quite unhappy about this. I didn’t know what had happened to spoil our old camaderie, but something certainly had changed and I didn’t know what to do about it.

Now Jimmy was standing in a corner solemnly conversing with John about school. They had hit it off very well, as I had expected. Jimmy seemed to be avoiding me and almost afraid of me, too, and that hurt. I sighed.

“Meg, take this tea pot and offer some to everyone,” said Mum, who was contentedly bustling between the kitchen and the sitting room. She leaned closer to me and whispered, “I do declare, I always forget how much I enjoy a party!”

I smiled and took the teapot and approached Mrs. Windham and Mrs. Lathrop, who were busily talking. They greatly enjoyed each other’s company, just as I had anticipated. After serving them each a cup, I approached the boys in their corner. I giggled, for a thought had just struck me.

I came up to them and bowed. “Would you young gentlemen like some tea?” I demanded in a pompous tone. “It is the very best quality, straight from China.”

The boys took the hint and made their best bows, accepting tea very politely.

“You still like your joke, don’t you, Meg!” said Jimmy.

Thank heavens he hadn’t lost his Cockney accent, at least!

“Would you believe this young lady used to ask me if I would like a drink of water and lead me to the pump, then proceed to shove me into the trough and pump water on me?”

“I can believe it!” laughed John. “I’m sure you heard about her drowning?”

“Yes, I heard about it,” said Jimmy, his face getting rather grave, as it always did when he thought of that experience. He whacked me on the back and quickly grew jolly again.

“Let’s get those kids into a game of something,” he said. “Could we go outside?”

“I’ll ask Mum,” I said and ran off to fetch her, smiling happily. Perhaps the old Jimmy was not gone entirely!

“Certainly you may go outside!” said Mum. “Just bundle up and take good care of the little ones.”

“Oh, we will, Mum,” I said. “Don’t worry! Alice, Henry, would you like to outside?”

Naturally they did, so I helped them bundle up, with the clumsy assistance of Jimmy and John and the capable assistance of Eliza.

Finally we were all ready, and we ran outside. It had stopped snowing and I picked up some of the freshly fallen snow.

“Perfect!” I exclaimed, rolling it into a ball, and threw it at Jimmy, hitting him smack in the face.

“Why you little…” he exclaimed, and soon had one returning to me. John quickly came to his aid and Peter, of course, wanted to help the big boys.

“Help me, girls!” I exclaimed as I was pelted with snowballs from the three boys. Alice ran over to me and hurled handfuls of snow at the boys, most of which missed them. Eliza surprised us all, however, by throwing very accurately. Seldom did one of her tightly-packed snowballs miss its mark.

“By George, we need you on the cricket team at school!” said Jimmy to her. “You’re a better shot than half the fellows there!”

We stayed outside for a good hour, and then came trooping in with rosy cheeks and joyful spirits. Mum brought out the hot cocoa and popcorn, and we spent a lovely evening by the fire.

As I sat beside Beth, leaning my head on her shoulder, I looked at all the faces around me just as I had done a year and a half ago. How long ago it seemed!
There were Mum, Mrs. Windham, and Mrs. Lathrop talking together. I was happy to notice that Mum’s face was a little less tired and sad than it used to be, despite her dark brown hair showing a few threads of gray.

Mrs. Lathrop was as cheerful and sweet as ever. Her golden hair was a little grayer than before, and she had a few more lines on her face. Ann was seated on her lap, cheerfully eating popcorn.

Mrs. Windham still looked so young and pretty, and her curly golden hair puffed out without the least sign of gray. All three mothers were all chattering and laughing and obviously enjoying each other’s company.

Near them sat Mr. Windham, Mr. Lathrop and Father Lewis. Mr. Windham’s face was looking a little older and more tired, but his carefully combed dark brown hair and mustache showed no gray.

Mr. Lathrop’s beard was becoming a regular pepper-and-salt, and he was as quiet as he had ever been. He smoked his pipe and listened to Mr. Windham and Father Lewis, who was very much interested in botany, talk about plants, and added a few words here and there.

Father Wiseman listened to them and gazed into the fire. I saw him looking around the little circle, and I got the feeling that he was doing the same thing I was.

Beside me was Beth. Her sweet face already was taking on the softened look of motherhood and she looked so womanly, dear Beth – only eighteen! On her other side sat Billy, a tall, thin, dark-haired young man, handsome in his own way. He was holding Beth’s hand, and sometimes they would look at each other in a way that made me nervous, curious, happy, and sad all at once. They were in love.

On my other side was Eliza. She was knitting, listening to all the conversation she could hear from her seat, and commenting on it softly. Her red-gold hair fell in big loops down her back. Eliza was now twelve, and was really becoming very pretty.

Alice sat at my feet and gave me bits of popcorn. She was now almost eight and not nearly as quiet and shy any more. She was laughing with the boys right now, her big blue eyes dancing, and I could tell she was having a wonderful time.

The boys lay on the hearth. Peter was lying on his stomach, whacking his heels together. He was a sturdy little boy of ten with a very brainy head on his shoulders, and just as full of lively spirits as he had ever been.

Jimmy sat in front of the fire, looking a little pensive now and then as he gazed into it. I wondered what he was thinking of. He was becoming very handsome, I thought, and looking so much older. It made me sorry in some ways, though – I missed the little Jimmy so much.

John’s hair was just as fiery as ever and his face just as freckly and cheerful. He would be seventeen soon, but still looked and acted very similar to the lad of fifteen I had known. It was nice that at least one person hadn’t changed.

Henry roamed about and solemnly talked to people. Now he had struck up a conversation with Father Wiseman, who was really doing an admirable job at keeping a straight face.

How happy I was! All the people I loved best were around me, and Margie was surely watching us from Heaven. How hard it was going to be to leave them all!

I looked into the fire and sighed a little, and was afraid I would cry. How could I ever leave them all? Courage! I reminded myself. I felt so happy and full of love for all these people that I felt as though my heart would burst and that I could be good very easily. Do you know that feeling? It’s lovely, but it always makes you want to cry.

What a wonderful Christmas that was! I think it might have been the best I’ve ever had.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

O Antiphons - O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: Come to save us, O Lord our God.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sing we joyous, all together, heedless of the wind and weather

^Text added by me (it's from "In the Bleak Midwinter"), and lovely snow effect by Elphie from the FT Forum! :D
I haven't written just a regular post in a long time, and I have things to say! So here it is. :)

We went caroling Monday night with some people from church. It was so much fun! We went to 6 pm Mass, and then headed downstairs and ate some chili. After about half an hour we were ready to set out, and collected our battery operated candles and song sheets. Fr. F. carried a lantern.

We went to quite a few houses, both people from church and people we don't know. At one house we stopped to sing at, the porch lights went on, turned off again, and the next thing we heard was loud thumping music. *rolls eyes* But other people were more appreciative and even came outside. :)

One of the best reactions came from a elderly couple who came to their door to listen.

"That was very nice," beamed the lady when we had finished. "We really enjoyed it."

As we shouted "Merry Christmas" and turned down the street, a lady with a thick smoker's voice shouted from a van paused in the street, "We really enjoyed it too!"

That's the thing I love about Christmas really make so many people happy. It's a lovely feeling to know that you brightened their day. That sounds cheesy, but like so many cheesy-sounding's actually true.

Then we headed to the police station, which is right next to the church. Last year we'd walked through (partly to warm up, as it was -7 Farenheit!) and sang to a young woman who was waiting there. This year, however, it was locked, and when Fr. F. called the phone inside the door, they just said that the police station was closed. :P

"Let's go to the fire station!" said Dr. S., the former English teacher, who is a very bouncy, creative individual. "They're more fun!"

So we headed to the fire station and sang for the one guy who came outside. It was more fun than the police station, because he looked like he was about to cry! It's always nice when something you do touches someone that much.

Then we headed across the street to the apartment (it's actually mainly a home for the elderly) that a sister who goes to our church lives in. She was waiting in the lobby with some other residents and we sang a couple songs, and then Sister began leading us on the grand tour of people to sing for! We ended up going all the way to the 10th floor, with 6 or 7 stops along the way.

"Everyone 25 and younger has to take the stairs!" Fr. F. called. Almost everyone took the stairs. haha

As we came back down the stairs, I looked out the window. The view of the light-filled city was spectacular! And then we were back out in the chilly, somewhat windy, 11 degree weather!

Fr. F. had us all stand in a parking lot across from church so we could get a picture with our church in the background. Everyone was having tons of fun by this time...we were all cracking up because every time Fr. F. would call out a direction like, "Move a bit closer!" or "Smile bigger! You're going to be in the bulletin on Sunday!", we'd all repeat it! When he finally got a good picture, he exclaimed, "That's a super-picture!"

"That's a super-picture!" we all yelled.

During the picture-taking, Abbe K. (the oblate at our church) was doing his "I'm melting! I'm melting! Oh, what a world!" imitation...that was just...disturbing. Hahaha! We all just about died of laughter.

Then we set off down the street again, heading to another apartment that a parishioner lives in! It's the main street in our city, and lots of people honked at us as they drove past, eliciting waves and shouts of "Merry Christmas!" from us.

Abbe K. started singing, "Oh when the carolers go marching in, oh when the carolers go marching in, oh Lord I don't want to be in that number, when the carolers go marching in!" Next he sang, "The carolers go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah. The carolers go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah! The carolers go marching one by one, the littlest one stopped to stick out his thumb...wait, that doesn't work! Oh! The carolers go marching one by one, their lips are numb so they have to hum!" My dad started harmonizing with him...oh, it was funny!

At the next apartment, we assembled in the lobby and the man from our church who lives there went and collected various friends. We sang a lot of songs for them and they greatly enjoyed it!

By the time we finished, it was time to head back to church for hot chocolate. We went back down the street, and Abbe K. said to me, "So! Jesu Redemptor omnium..."

"No!" I said. "Not now!" I'm singing the solo part of that with two other girls for the Christmas Masses.

"Oh, come on, you don't want to try hitting those high notes while walking in this cold weather?"

"Nah...not particularly. Hey! Why don't you try it?" So he did, with alarmingly good results! :O lol

When we arrived back at church, Fr. F. had us all stand in front of the statue of St. Joseph outside. The younger boys stood on the wall and all the rest of us clustered in front, with a space left free so that St. Joseph would be visible.

"Okay, look at your papers and open your mouths and pretend to sing and smile!" said Fr. F. This produced much laughter as we pretended to sing, and then we all started singing "O Little Town of Bethlehem", as Abbe K. waved his lighter!

Then Dr S. took a picture so Fr. F. could be in it too. He started singing along with us, but didn't remember the words and so just sang "La la la", which made us all laugh. Then we sang "Joy to the World" and two of the ladies started bouncing up and down on the "Repeat the sounding joy" part! Everyone was getting so hyper and crazy. Good times. :)

Then we headed downstairs for hot chocolate and cookies. Fr. F. once again told a story from his youth in Brazil. At the time, it was the "cool" thing for young Brazilians to be Communists, and there were frequent street fights between the Catholic and the Communist teenage guys. Well, one day when Fr. was in his late teens, he and a lot of fellow Catholic young men attended Mass at the Cathedral, the way they started each day before dispersing to work and school. They knew that the Communists planned to attack them that day, but they had a defense tactic planned.

The cathedral was in a large square, surrounded by a wall and trees, with an entrance at each corner. The 40 black belts (Fr. F. among them) stood around in the courtyard after Mass chatting, while the others went into restaurants across the street.

Before long, the Communists started coming into the courtyard, leaving people in the entrances to plug them up and prevent the Catholic guys from escaping. One of the Catholics stood on the steps of the cathedral, keeping watch for one of the Communists to hit a Catholic. When one of them did, he gave a signal and the fight was on! The black belts attacked the Communists, and then the other Catholic guys who had been in the restaurants came pouring in through the entrances, blocking the Communists from escaping.

Fr. F. always is pleased to inform us that they sent 22 Communists to the hospital with various injuries, but none of the Catholics were harmed! All the altar boys greatly enjoy those stories. ;) I myself think Fr. F. should write a memoir! He's told us so many interesting stories.

So, that was our fun and crazy caroling party!

I read "Waking Rose" by Regina Doman last week, and it was sort! It was very gave me a new and clearer view of life, romance, college, etc. It was very interesting, and I just loved the book! So I really want to post about it sometime, but I think I'll wait until after Christmas...I want to have time to do a good job on it!

As one of my friends had in her Facebook status today, Happy Christmas Eve Eve! :) I will have a gift for you all on here tomorrow!

O Antiphons - O Rex Gentium

O King of the Gentiles and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: Come, and deliver man, whom Thou formed out of the dust of the earth.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;

Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,

And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Monday, December 21, 2009

O Antihphons - O Oriens

O Dawn of the East, brightness of the light eternal and Sun of Justice: Come, and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

* * *

I was going to write a regular post, too, but ran out of time! I will tomorrow! :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

O Antiphons - O Clavis David

O Key of David and Scepter of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: Come, bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,

And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

* * *
This is probably my favorite of the O Antiphons. I love the symbolism, and I just love the sound of the words. Can't you see the captive, sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

O Antiphons - O Radix Jesse

O Root of Jesse, Who stands for an ensign of the people, before Whom kings shall keep silence and unto Whom the Gentiles shall make supplications: Come to deliver us, and tarry not.

O Come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyrrany;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o'er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Friday, December 18, 2009

O Antiphons - O Adonai

O Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel, Who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come, and redeem us with outstretched arm.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The O Antiphons - O Sapientia

I thought I'd share one of my favorite Advent traditions with all of you!

The seven O Antiphons are short, beautiful gems of prayers that are chanted at Vespers the week before Christmas. There is one for each day, and they all reflect the longing of the captive people for their Savior. I discovered them through the Christmas Novena from Women for Faith and Family, which we have been praying since I was 7 years old. Here is the novena (it was supposed to start yesterday...unfortunately we forgot about it. :P):

The Christmas Novena

All: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

Our Father... Hail Mary...

Father: O Lord, Open my lips.

All: And my mouth shall proclaim Your praise.

Father: O God, come to my assistance.

All: O Lord, make haste to help us. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

Father: The Lord our Coming King, hasten to adore.

All: The Lord our Coming King, hasten to adore.

Eldest child: Rejoice, O Daughter of Sion, and exult, O Daughter of Jerusalem.

All: The Lord our Coming King, hasten to adore.

Eldest child: Behold, He that is God and man shall come forth from the house of David, His Father, to sit upon His throne, and you shall see Him and your heart shall rejoice.

All: Hasten to adore.

Eldest child: Behold, the Lord shall come, our Protector, the Holy One of Israel, bearing on His head the crown of the Kingdom.

All: The Lord Our Coming King, hasten to adore.

Eldest child: The Lord will descend, as rain on the field. His justice shall rise in those days, and all the kings of the earth shall adore Him, all nations shall serve Him.

All: Hasten to adore.

Eldest child: A child shall be born to us, and He shall be called the God of strength. Bethlehem, city of the Highest God, out from you shall go forth the ruler of Israel, and peace will be on the earth, when He shall have come.

All: The Lord our coming King, hasten to adore.

Father : Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

All: As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

All: The Lord, our Coming King. Hasten to adore.

All: Blow ye the trumpet in Sion, for the day of the Lord is nigh: behold, He will come to save us, alleluia, alleluia!

Father: Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exult. Praise the Lord, you mountains.

All: Let the mountains break forth into gladness, and the hills with justice.

Father: For the Lord shall come and to the poor He shall show mercy.

All: Drop down dew, you heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the Just One;

Father: Let the earth be opened and bud forth the Savior.

All: Be mindful of us, O Lord, and visit us in Your salvation.

Father: Show to us, O Lord, Your mercy, and grant us your salvation.

All: Come, O Lord, in peace visit us that with a perfect heart we may rejoice before You.

Father: Come, O Lord, do not tarry; do away with the offenses of Your people.

All: Come and show to us Your countenance, O Lord. You sit upon the cherubim.

Father: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

All: As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

All : Blow ye the trumpet in Sion, for the day of the Lord is nigh; behold, He will come to save us, alleluia, alleluia.

[Isaiah 35:1-7a ]

Mother: A reading from the prophet Isaiah: The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the rose it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.

The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the weak knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance with the recompense of God. He will come and save you."

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy.

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water.

All: Thanks be to God.

(On Dec. 16, continue: "Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His Name shall be called Emmanuel, Alleluia, Alleluia." Each day thereafter until Christmas, say the O Antiphon of the day.)

The Magnificat

[Luke 1:46-55 RSV]

Father: My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

All: For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed,

Father: For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.

All: And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.

Father: He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,

All: He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted those of low degree;

Father: He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.

All: He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy.

Father: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his posterity forever.

All: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Father: As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

All: (repeat the O Antiphon of the day)

Concluding Prayers

Father: O Lord, hear my prayer.

All: And let my cry come to You.

Father: Let us pray. Stir up Thy power and come, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and with great might help us. May our deliverance, which our sins impede, be hastened by the help of Thy grace and the forgiveness of Thy mercy. Who lives and reigns forever and ever.

All: Amen.

Father: Let us bless the Lord.

All: Thanks be to God.

Father: May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

All: Amen.

All: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

To order copies of the novena, go to the WFF website.

I thought I would post one antiphon on my blog each day until December 23, along with drawings I did several years ago and the corresponding verse of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"- the words of each verse are based on one of the O Antiphons.

So here is today's!

O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Of friendship and snow.

WE FINALLY HAVE SNOW!!! I'm pretty happy (rather obviously) about that! The first snowfall was absolutely beautiful, but I want to tell this all in order so that will have to wait a minute. ;)

My sister and I stayed over at our friend's house Sunday night so that we could go to her choir concert. It was quite fun! We had a great and hilarious time decorating their tree and playing Apples to Apples that evening. Apples to Apples has got to be the best, most entertaining game ever!

Her mom, who is a librarian, and I also decided to start our own good literature in libraries crusade. We're going to go through the Bethlehem Books catalog and others, find all the good, interesting books, and once a week request the library to order one! She feels quite strongly that we need more good books in libraries, and I definitely agree! And like she said, you can't just sit back and say, "Oh what a shame, I wish something could be done about it" - you need to be the one making the change! It reminded me of the quote from Edmund Burke, "The only way for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." So true.

Tuesday was the beautiful feast of the Immaculate Conception. The same friend of mine stayed over, and we spent the afternoon helping prepare the food for the reception after Mass. It was so much fun! And it was quite nice, because I have some friends who are a few years older than me, and in the past few years they haven't been around as much, being busy with jobs and new lives. It's a normal part of growing up, but I missed them! Lately, however, they've been around more, and I'm also older, so it's easier for us all to talk and be friends again. I'm thankful for that!

So I think we all had an enjoyable time trying to tape table skirts to the punch table; making evil smelling, fishy tasting salmon dip; washing lots and LOTS of dishes; changing the music from Josh Groban to Mannheim Steamroller, much to the chagrin of one of our friends; laughing and having weird inside was a good day.

Mass was at 6 pm, and the Master Choral beautifully sang a lot of Palestrina pieces, including his "Dixit Maria" Mass! Afterward we had a reception in the church basement, at which I served punch, as usual. I always like serving gives me something to do other than just wander around, and I get to talk to lots of people! Then we cleaned up the kitchen and did even more dishes. *sigh* ;) After a while, my sister, friend, and I all decided to go outside.

We ran up the stairs, pushed open the door, and shrieked loudly as a huge gust of snow blew in our faces. Then I saw how much snow had fallen, and began dancing around in it with joy! I'd been wanting snow for weeks. But as the snow spell cast itself over us, our shrieks and laughter gave way to silent wonder. It was absolutely beautiful. Snow had been falling all day and it was still coming down, thousands of beautiful white dots against the gray sky. Since it was 10:30 at night there wasn't much traffic, and what there was muffled by the snow. My friend pointed to the lamppost, which was shining its light on a snow-covered pine tree.

"Look!" she said. "It's like Narnia!"

And it was! We just stood there for about 15 minutes, drinking in the silent beauty, laughing at how much snow was in our hair, trying to watch it come down and getting it in our eyes. The night of the first snowfall of winter is magical. For one thing, it's so bright. The snow and the sky are both white, reflecting so much light, and it's like an odd, surreal version of daytime. If it's still snowing, that makes it even better. I love the sound snow makes as it falls. It whispers quietly of all the secrets of every winter the world has ever known.

The roads were a bit slippery as we drove home, but my mom grew up in the Midwest and is used to driving in that sort of weather, so we were fine. Besides, we had only about 12 blocks to go.

We drove past a huge house near our neighborhood that I absolutely love. It's brick, has leaded windows, and has an actual courtyard with gargoyles guarding the door! It's pretty incredible and looks like something out of a Jane Austen movie. This house has the most amazing, magical Christmas light display! Two trees flank the front door, and they had twined white lights through all the bare branches. That would be lovely on it's own, but the touch of magic and surrealism comes from the large white balls of light caught in the branches! It's incredible...I will definitely try to take a picture of it sometime so you all can see it.

Then we got home and my friend, sister, and I spent most of the night laughing hysterically over the craziest inside jokes and the many, many funny things we were saying! That was a wonderful day!

And as I mentioned Christmas lights, I thought this would be a good time to post the video of the choreographed lights to the song "Wizards in Winter" by the TransSiberian Orchestra! Enjoy!