Requiem for Napoleon

Napoleon House

The title of this post in all honesty has little to do with the content, other than that the contents are vaguely connected. It is, in all reality, a music post which left me feeling a little ignorant, and yet a bit more educated. After all, life is all about learning, living, loving, friends, charity, and listening to great music.

Two friends from seminary recently visited and we spent a night out on the town, and one of my friends, we’ll call him “Fr. Mark”, wanted to hang out in a courtyard sipping a Sazerac. (Being the designated driver back up to Abita Springs, I had an evening of club sodas and tea.)

But what better place than the Napoleon House? It was legendary in music school, as they had a collection of classical music (back then it was actually vinyl records,) and often will (or at least would back in the day, I’m really never there these days,) play requests. It’s said to have been built as a house for Napoleon himself to live in, should he have escaped from Elba – an event which, for better or for worse, never came to pass.

So anyway, before I drag on too long here, while we’re there sipping and chatting out in the courtyard, a tune came on that I recognized but for the life of me could not name. (Nor could my two friends… we’ll call the other one “Fr. Ed.”) And it was familiar enough that it drove me nuts all the way back home. I knew it was from an opera, and it was the one about the poor girl up in the attic dying of tuberculosis, or some other horror.

It was an orchestral version of a famous aria, the kind of aria you hear a zillion times; the kind which every opera enthusiast and singer knows by heart, knows their favorite singer thereof, probably has the libretto for, and of which has multiple favorite recordings.

I’ll apologize right now to any opera enthusiasts, one of which I am clearly not.

But about 20 minutes away from Abita Springs it finally came to me… Quando m’en vo’ …From the Opera La Boheme. Or at least I think it is, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

So! That led to finding this recording, which is beautiful of course, and is currently the first one to pop up on a YouTube search for Quando m’en vo’. And isn’t Anna absolutely beautiful?

Alongside it is also a recording of same, via the famed, long deceased Maria Callas, also well worth a listen:

And, since every website tracks our every move these days, alongside of that – YouTube, obviously knowing my current penchant for listening to Gregorian Chant and evidently knowing that I’ve searched high and low for the best and least expensive steam mops around, featured one of my favorite chants — the Dies Irae, from the Requiem Mass. (YouTube is oddly ignorant of the many Titanic Documentaries and sinking videos which I’ve watched in the last month or so. But that’s another story for another time.)

The Dies Irae is allowed once again, in the use of the Tridentine Mass, it was forbidden for years. Evidently the idea of God’s wrath and judgment is to much for the modern world to handle.

That being explained, here is a version of the Dies Irae. There are no doubt better versions of it out there, but for anyone learning chant or wanting to know more about it, this is good as it allows you to follow along with the chant notations. It’s a sort of modern, yet ancient, “follow the bouncing ball” type thing:

And there it is folks. That’s a wrap.

The Daily Walk, Bees and Sky

O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, hasten to help me.

My daily walk the other day took my past a
huge hive of bees
.

Doesn’t that just remind you of the Easter Vigil?

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,
which glowing fire ignites for God’s honour,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees
to build a torch so precious.

B31Y0692

Bright shall be the glory of wise counsellors, as the radiance of the sky above; starry-bright for ever their glory, who have taught many the right way.
Daniel 12:3

Ciao.

A Prayer of St. Aelred

Lord I sometimes wander away from you, not because I am deliberately turning my back on you, but because of the inconstancy of my mind. I weaken in my intention to give my whole self to you. I fall back into thinking of myself as my own master. When I wander from you, my life becomes a burden, and within me I find nothing but darkness fear and anxiety. So I come back to you and confess that I have sinned. Forgive me Lord. — St. Aelred of Rivaux
saint aelred
I wandered into Church this afternoon to pray, and picked up one of the Advent booklets we’re giving out, and opened it up to read this beautiful prayer from St. Aelred. He’s renowned for his treatise on Spiritual Friendship, a brief summary of which can be found here, and a pdf version can be found here.

Aelred speaks about spiritual friendship – a relationship which helps us grow in love: love of each other and love of God. In fact, for him friendship is a sacrament of God’s love. In an earlier book he says that just as there is a continuous dialogue and interchange of love berween the three persons of the Trinity, so human beings – the rational creatures made in the image and likeness of this Trinity of Persons – are called to relationships based on mutual dialogue, exchange, sharing and self-giving. This is the theological foundation for all spiritual relationships. In fact, through the experience of spiritual friendship we come to experience something of God’s love. He refers to this friendship as a very holy sort of charity.

But his prayer (rather than his treatise, although it did come to mind,) struck me so peacefully as I knelt in Church and prayed and felt God’s grace working in my life, healing my spirit and bringing a sense of understanding to the quasi-complex, more than likely semi-pelagian issues of the last weeks. Also, this is the start of Advent Confessions, and tomorrow is First Friday (which will bring an abundance of Confessions…) so I realized the need for a more thorough examination of conscience. I have issues, man.

God’s grace…. It’s only by God’s grace we get to heaven.

Groundbreaking News

Today I was asked to take part in the Groundbreaking Ceremonies for St. Andrew’s Village (this being the Feast of St. Andrew, and all.)

20131130_0297

Fr. Bill Billinski was there; he helps with Confessions for a lot of the “God’s Special Children” Masses and knows many of the founders present.

20131130_0304

Sen. Mary Landrieu gave the Keynote Speech, which was a fun take on what had to happen behind the scenes legislatively for this huge project to come to pass.

20131130_0308

We listend to all of the local dignitaries giving speeches which were well thought out and brief. Then a handful of us piled into a Limo Bus and headed out to the woods about 5 minutes away where this project will be built. Fr. Mike Mitchell has done a lot of work with the Gods Special Children Masses, and so has his buddy Fr. Frank Candalisa.

Readying the Shovels

We all had to wear hardhats.

20131130_0312

It was a fun event to be a part of; everyone was in a great mood and the day was beautiful.

“St. Andrew’s Village will be a faith-based, mixed-use Village community where both adults with developmental disabilities and non-disabled individuals can live, work, worship, and socialize throughout their lifelong journey.

“Born of a partnership between parents and community members to provide for adults with special needs, St. Andrew’s Village will be the first community of its kind in the state of Louisiana.”

Glad to support them, and glad they’re finding a home at long, long last.

Faceplants on the Path

I have issues, man.  And every now and again I take a faceplant on the path to holiness.

See, every now and again I’m reminded that I need to head to Confession.  Priests are only human; those to whom much is given… etc.  The burden of conscience is higher since we’re trained in such issues to begin with and go through years of ‘formation’ so that when anything which might cause us to fall into sin, (be it mortal, venial, whatever) — anger, pride, envy, lust, gluttony… is experienced, we have the experience and tools necessary to manage and cope with the stresses which lead to that.

Theoretically.

In reality we live in the community of believers, and often have to rely on them for insights and help when things get sketchy. As King David wrote (and for all the Biblical scholars out there who debate whether or not it was David who actually wrote the Psalms, I can only say that it doesn’t matter, and  you don’t know, )  “I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me.”

Practically, sometimes we just fall into the trap of worldliness.  And while some things may not be sin for others, when you have an informed conscience and know better, you just join the ranks of sinners and fall into line for the Confessional.

Concupiscence

The Catholic Encyclopedia has some great writing on concupiscence, (noting as well that it does not refer to simply lust, in case you’re wondering what area of sin we’re talking about here, which is really none of your business, but moreso not germane to the point.)   Basically, it sums up what Paul writes to us in his Letter to the Romans — that I don’t do the good that I want to do, I do the evil that I do not want to do.   Try this on for size, from the Knox translation of Romans 7:15-23:

“My own actions bewilder me; what I do is not what I wish to do, but something which I hate. 16 Why then, if what I do is something I have no wish to do, I thereby admit that the law is worthy of all honour; 17 meanwhile, my action does not come from me, but from the sinful principle that dwells in me. 18 Of this I am certain, that no principle of good dwells in me, that is, in my natural self; praiseworthy intentions are always ready to hand, but I cannot find my way to the performance of them; 19 it is not the good my will prefers, but the evil my will disapproves, that I find myself doing. 20 And if what I do is something I have not the will to do, it cannot be I that bring it about, it must be the sinful principle that dwells in me. 21 This, then, is what I find about the law, that evil is close at my side, when my will is to do what is praiseworthy.[3] 22 Inwardly, I applaud God’s disposition, 23 but I observe another disposition in my lower self, which raises war against the disposition of my conscience, and so I am handed over as a captive to that disposition towards sin which my lower self contains.

This is my life, people!

Or if not my life, at least a part of it.  But if the Apostle went through the same experiences, I can’t be in bad company when I strive for holiness and intend to live victoriously over sin.

Advent, starting this evening, is a great time to root out the things in our lives tempting us to sin, in whatever form it takes in our lives.  We’re all tempted and give in to sin in various ways, yet the struggle for holiness is what we’re given grace to accomplish.  Pray for me, I’m certainly praying for you… whoever you are.