Is there any such thing as grief which is good? Grief is horrible. Terrible. Life-altering.
Last month I was calmly working through the piles of paper on my desk, so happy that I finally had a chance to get all of this work done, when the phone buzzed in. It was a hospital chaplain asking me to call my sister-in-law immediately.
I was worried her mother had died, or even that my brother had died. I was absolutely floored when I learned that my dear niece had died.
It’s not that it’s not my story to tell, although it isn’t really. But there’s not much of a story. She had stomach pains and digestive issues and was admitted into the hospital. In the morning she wanted to shower so they left her alone, and when they returned she had died.
More info will pan out, but having only one niece and a small family, I’ve felt the loss acutely. And her beloved daughters are being well looked after, and prayed for to no end.
Still, it’s a difficult time. As much as I deal with death, dying, those bereaved – and have dealt with it all in my own life – this has struck me in a profound way. I never anticipated this happening, and it’s been a cause for great reflection.
And the painful reality is, that life goes on. Life goes on in all of it’s fullness and beauty, and a new generation needs the strength of those left behind to witness. If you may, please pray for the repose of the soul of my niece, and for the consolation and welfare of her two daughters.
But life goes on. Life is changed, not ended, and life is for the living.
I’m thankful for the years I had to spend with her, and the many lessons that she helped me to learn in life. I miss her, and will always pray for her.
O God, Who have brightened this most holy night with the splendor of the true light, grant, we beseech You, that we may know in heaven the joy of that light which we have known mystically on earth.
Sometimes I realize I have no business keeping a weblog. Though I do get a fair amount of visitors, I’m a very self conscious blogger. While on Facebook or Twitter I usually just say what I want to say (with appropriate filters,) when I blog I tend to be like, “Here’s a picture from of my daily life. Um… buh bye!”
With that being said, here are a few things on my minds the last week, month, year…
Questions about Pope Francis. People will often ask me what the Holy Father means when he says things like, “And since people have a tendency towards the sickness of coprophagia, it can do great harm.”
I don’t know. Coprophagia sounds completely disgusting to me, I have zero tendency towards it, and as much as some people have said this expression is commonly used in South America, I’ve never heard it used there despite my 6 visits, and being taught all the dirty words (to the great hilarity of my teachers,) on my first visit of 2.5 months.
I honestly don’t know, but it’s obviously in the realm of the bizarre.
Cardinal Burke is the voice of those presenting the dubia to the Holy Father. It’s a normalized, though rarely used part of Church practice. Since Pope Francis has not answered the dubia, one can only look to what Cardinal Burke has to say about them. He’s pretty concise in this interview from EWTN:
“Father, what about your family?”
I had a great time with my family this Christmas Season. I tend to stay busy, and realized I haven’t spent a lot of time at all with my niece and her children. In fact, the picture up top of is of Alyssa the Lovely, my great niece. While it a long story the point of it is, we all got together Monday, the day after Christmas Day, and had a grand time. I’m always preaching about families, and realized I needed to get back to my own. Time flies when you stay busy.
“Father, we’re so worried about you being transferred.”
Yes, well, I don’t see that happening anytime in the near future. I don’t know why there are rumors circulating about that I will be transferred, but they are completely without foundation. While it’s vaguely possible that the Archdiocese may decide that my charmingly eccentric personality and brilliant management skills (work with me here, people….) may be direly needed somewhere else, the fact is that there are many truly wonderful Priests who could fill any need the Archdiocese needs; and I feel they are entirely happy with my being out here in the hill country. As am I. It’s one of the best places on Earth to be
“Father, what do you do with all the photo you take?”
I often post them on Facebook, Twitter, or here. The photos on the Parish website are from my cameras. A lot them are sitting on hard drives waiting to be turned into books to leave in the Parish archives for future use.
Yes, it’s back to Anne Katherine Emmerich’s visions. I”m fascinated by them.
It was a warning from on high that had led Joachim into the Holy Place, and it was by a similar inspiration that he was brought into a subterranean passage which belonged to the consecrated part of the Temple and ran under it and under the Golden Gate.
I have been told what was the meaning and origin of this passage when the Temple was built, and also what it was used for, but I have no clear recollection of this. Some religious observance relating to the blessing and reconciliation of the unfruitful was, I think, connected with this passage. In certain circumstances people were brought into it for rites of purification, expiation, absolution, and the like.
Joachim was led by priests near the slaughtering-place through a little door into this passage. The priests turned back, but Joachim continued along the passage, which gradually sloped downwards. Anna had also come to the Temple with her maidservant, who was carrying the doves for sacrifice in wicker baskets. She had handed over her offering and had revealed to a priest that she had been bidden by an angel to meet her husband under the Golden Gate.
I now saw that she was led by priests, accompanied by some venerable women (among whom I think was the prophetess Anna), through an entrance on the other side into the consecrated passage, where her companions left her. I had a very wonderful view of what this passage was like.
Joachim went through a little door; the passage sloped downwards, and was at first narrow but became broader afterwards. The walls were of glistening gold and green, and a reddish light shone in from above. I saw beautiful pillars like twisted trees and vines. After passing through about a third of the passage Joachim came to a place in the midst of which stood a pillar in the form of a palm tree with hanging leaves and fruits. Here he was met by Anna, radiant with happiness.
They embraced each other with holy joy, and each told the other their good tidings. They were in a state of ecstasy and enveloped in a cloud of light. I saw this light issuing from a great host of angels, who were carrying the appearance of a high shining tower and hovering above the heads of Anna and Joachim. The form of this tower was the same as I see in pictures, from the litany of the Blessed Virgin, of the Tower of David, the Tower of Ivory, and so forth. I saw that this tower seemed to disappear between Anna and Joachim, who were enveloped in a glory of brightness.
I understood that, as a result of the grace here given, the conception of Mary was as pure as all conceptions would have been but for the Fall. I had at the same time an indescribable vision. The heavens opened above them, and I saw the joy of the Holy Trinity and of the angels, and their participation in the mysterious blessing here bestowed on Mary’s parents.
Anna and Joachim returned, praising God, to the exit under the Golden Gate: towards the end the passage sloped upwards. They came into a kind of chapel under a beautiful and high arch, where many lights were burning. Here they were received by priests who led them away.
The part of the Temple above which was the hall of the Sanhedrin lay over the middle of the subterranean passage; above this end of it were, I think, dwellings of priests whose duty it was to look after the vestments. Joachim and Anna now came to a kind of bay at the outermost edge of the Temple hill, overlooking the valley of Josaphat, where the path could no longer go straight on but branched to right and left.
After they had visited another priest’s house, I saw Joachim and Anna and their servants starting on their journey home. On their arrival at Nazareth, Joachim, after a joyful meal, gave food to many poor people and distributed generous alms. I saw how full he and Anna were of joy and fervor and gratitude to God when they thought of His compassion towards them; I often saw them praying together with tears.
It was explained to me here that the Blessed Virgin was begotten by her parents in holy obedience and complete purity of heart, and that thereafter they lived together in continence in the greatest devoutness and fear of God.
I was at the same time clearly instructed how immeasurably the holiness of children was encouraged by the purity, chastity, and continence of their parents and by their resistance to all unclean temptations; and how continence after conception preserves the fruit of the womb from many sinful impulses. In general, I was given an overflowing abundance of knowledge about the roots of deformity and sin.
A few shots I took of the Super Moon the other day from the Riverwalk in New Orleans. I’m not the best…. but practice makes perfect, and I’m still all about the practicing of art. In reality, I’m more of a snapshot taker than a photographer. I hope to grow as the Lord may wish; perhaps this was more my own desire than His.
I’ve actually grown to really like this in many respects…. However:
Many people look at me in shock when they find out that in my previous life, prior to Priesthood, I was a musician. There are next to zero recordings of anything I’ve ever played for; however, this is one of them. And the only reason I deeply dislike this song is because of the way I play it. To be fair, Kitty Cleveland sings it beautifully, and her artistry makes the song.
The background: Kitty and I had worked together numerous times, and eventually started working together at the annual Divine Mercy Mass, at St. Joseph’s Church in downtown New Orleans, after I had been playing the organ for it for a few years.
Fr. Stan Klores was in charge of it, and the ceremony at the beatification of St Faustina Kowalska was absolutely beautiful (as are they all, to be honest, I have no clue who is in charge or who plays for it anymore.) Fr. Stan knew me from Seminary, and always asked me to play the organ for the large Masses he planned. It’s one of the reasons that I don’t know him that well, as I was always a half a block away or so in the choir loft, as opposed to praying with him prior to Masses in the Sanctuary.
But back to our story here….
At one of these Masses we finished the Communion Hymn, and Kitty, who was the cantor. said, “Let’s do this”, and gave me a lead sheet (a lead sheet consists of a melody w/ words, and chords written above it.) She pointed to the piano, and I thought well sure, this looks simple enough.
So, we played through it to an outburst of thunderous applause, which I didn’t understand, aside from Kitty’s beautiful artistic talent.
But the point of this story is, that I was reading chords and words, and had no clue what do do musically with them, and had to make it up on the spot. So, I chose word coloring… which was making the tone of the playing fit with the mood of the words. Whatever. I honestly had zero time to consider the piano arrangement.
Fast forward to after ordination, and Kitty called me to play in a studio for her for the recording of the song, which was an entirely graced event, and I said “Ohwell sure.”. I had played the song three times already, and people seemed to like it, so, why not?
I was ordained at this time and my Pastor complained mercilessly about my going off to play music (which I did twice during my year with him,) however; I did go off to record with Kitty this song, and played it as I saw it, with my previous word coloring in mind, and the thought that we had done this piece together several times prior. It’s heavy and clunky.
To my mind, the transformation in the song comes when Jesus is revealed in the breaking of the bread; which is why the entire piano prior to that part of that song is in the lower realm and rather vague. There’s a part in the recording which Kitty insisted that we rerecord over my playing, during an interlude. It really shows, though I do agree with her in retrospect. I just never had the time to think about the arrangement of it.
But, in the listening, it’s obvious that my thought process goes along with the revealing of Jesus Christ in the breaking of the bread. What really makes the entire recording plausible is Kitty’s artistry, recording experience, and the master technician which saw the whole thing through. (He expertly deleted a very sour note.)
I am at least fond, however, of the synthed vocals which I tracked over the piano, and which is more reflective of my organ playing style.
Whatever. The message in the song is beautiful; we both prayed our way through it, and it has touched the hearts of many. +