Wedding Planning Update (Finally!)

I have never been a consistent blogger.  Or a consistent anything, except maybe a consistent lover of chocolate?  And also Lucas?  Anyway, I bring you this post to say that Lucas and I are well into wedding planning now, thanks to my dear mother and “futuristic mother-in-law,” as Lucas’s mother likes to be called, and many friends who have dedicated their time, talent, and enthusiasm to bring me out of too-many-decisions paralysis.  Invitations have not gone out yet, but they will be sent out late next week.  We are keeping our wedding pretty small, with just family and close friends.  We’re really looking forward to it, while we try to focus on preparing for the rest of our lives, not just one day.  

Updates:   Continue reading

Hello, new friends from my UNIV presentation!

St. Peter statue outside St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter statue outside St. Peter's Basilica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you so much for your interest in Gregorian Chant in the Liturgy!  It makes me truly glad to see so many people of our generation drawn towards the chant and the heightened sense of the sacred that it lends to the Mass.  Bis Orat Qui Bene Cantat was a labor of love, and I’m eternally grateful to my benefactors Dr. Kathleen Glenister Roberts of the Duquesne University Honors College, Fr. James McCloskey of the Office of Mission and Identity, and Dean Edward Kocher of the Mary Pappert School of Music, without which my presentation to you would not have been possible.
Below I have posted, for your convenience, a link to the full text of my paper, the new and innovative chant resource The Simple English Propers, the congregational pew resource The Parish Book of Chant, and the website of the Church Music Association of America (CMAA).  I received several questions about how to go about introducing chant to a group that is unfamiliar with it.  If you are interested in making Gregorian Chant more available in your parish or diocese, these resources will take you far.  Nota bene: All Gregorian Chant and most of sacred polyphony is in the public domain, so downloading copies of it is always, always free.  Just like the rest of the best things in life.  If you’re really passionate about learning chant and how to teach it, I recommend attending the CMAA’s annual Colloquium.  I went last summer, and there I learned to read Solesmes notation (the most common chant notation, standardized in 1888) well, I learned about the different genres within chant and their position and function in the Liturgy, I learned how to conduct chant (very, very different from standard conducting), and I networked with people from across the USA and the UK who were much better educated about traditional Catholic music than I was.
I didn’t mean for this to turn into an advertisement for the CMAA.  But, it is what it is.  Without further ado, dear reader, your links:

One thing I beg of the Lord, one thing will I ask: that I may live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Obviously, I didn’t stick to the original schedule of blog posting that I intended to.  I apologize for that.  After Sunday, my daily itinerary in Rome became very, very busy.  Due to our fast-paced schedule that involved walking/running almost everywhere on tough cobblestone streets, by the time I returned back to the hotel each evening I wanted to do nothing but to shower, take care of my poor feet, and go quickly to sleep.  Also I stopped having much of an Internet connection after the first few days.  While I could not remain digitally connected with you, dear friends and family, you were certainly with me in my thoughts and prayers.  At the end of this post I’ll let you know when and where I remembered your intentions, beginning on Monday where I left off.
Intentions:
Nota bene–These are the intentions I purposely listed for each day to not forget them.  I thought about and prayed for all of them at least twice, I’m sure, spontaneously at other times.  Your prayer requests really helped me to strengthen my faith, and my connection with all of you specifically and humanity in general as brothers and sisters.  Each and every one of you is so important in the eyes of God, and so is everyone you meet.  So thank you very much for allowing me to remember you on my pilgrimage.
Monday, April 2
Mass at the Catacombs of St. Callixtus
RCM, LEB, LR, MR, AR, MPR, AR, TFM, TM, NJM, ZTM, JEJ, ABJ, MIJ, GS, KMT, CM, BJL, SL, PL, RL, AJDS, Deacon MV, AC, JMW, AN, BSD, MCM(D)
Tuesday, April 3
Mass at Argogrande, a center of Opus Dei
MCG & mother, VPL, KM, Br. DDB and intentions, LD and intentions, Women of Grandevue (EM, LC, A, AA, L, GC), CAL, EL, FM, JMR, MM
Wednesday, April 4
Mass at Fraterna Domus (our hotel) and the Audience with our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI
AM, LK, ER, KM, SRM, PV, EW, LP and intentions, DD, MCG
Holy Thursday, April 5 and Good Friday, April 6
Focused on meditation of the day’s feasts/fasts and general intentions for the Pope, the Church, the world, and all souls.
Holy Saturday, April 7
AO, LET, ES, CF, JG, AR and intentions, JM, AJM and intentions, KSBS

Hosanna, Filio David!

Hello again!  It’s currently late at night on Palm Sunday, April 1 here in Roma.  This morning (after a light breakfast and the best coffee I have ever tasted), we departed early for 9:30am Mass at St. Peter’s square.  I didn’t take many pictures of the Mass, of course, because I wanted to absorb as much of it as I could, spiritually.  Looking at the world through a camera is no way to do that.  Although, picture number four in the gallery below was pretty exciting to take!  After the Mass, we walked around a bit before arriving at our lunch at Rossopomodoro, which was excellent.  Then we made our way to the crypt of St. Josemaría, where there is no photography allowed.  In other news, my broken Italian-Spanish language combo is improving, and has been useful when I need things like a restroom or some gelati.
  1. My view at Mass in St. Peter’s this morning for Palm Sunday.
  2. The ever-stylish Swiss guard uniform.
  3. Swiss Guard shoes.
  4. This is how close I was to my beloved Papa!  Must have been five feet away when he processed through the aisle after Mass.  I got to see his kind, grandfatherly smile as he reached out his hand to us as he was passing by, just seconds before I took the shot.
  5. The Museo Nazionale di Castel Saint’Angelo
  6. Just the friendly neighborhood Roman Centurion. (Rory?)
  7. Me, down by the river in front of the Angelus bridge.
  8. One of those cool exterior wall art display things that are all over the city.
  9. Street sign on the way to the Villa Sacchetti (the women’s residence, above the crypt of St. Josemaria)
  10. A puppy we passed by on the way!  He was so nice, and very eager to say hi to me!
  11. The exterior of Santa Maria del Popolo, which looks like it is kind of falling apart, but is an absolute treasure trove on the inside.
  12. The main altar at S. Maria del Popolo, which was gorgeous, but is kind of outdone by its left side altar, where there was no photography allowed (but here’s one I found online), because it is home to two original Caravaggio paintings!  (The Crucifixion of St. Peter, and the Conversion of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus)
  13. The obelisk with heiroglyphics in the center of the Piazza del Popolo
  14. Closer look at the Latin text at the base of the obelisk
  15. Entrance to the Piazza del Popolo, as seen from the center.
  16. The cobblestone streets, which are pretty, but kill your feet, and are probably slippery when it rains.

Initials of specific intentions I prayed for at the papal Mass and various chapels today:  TLS, KJS, SMS, LEB, DAF, JCF, SLS, JLS, AL, BSL, TL, CSJ, and all my deceased family members.

Lord, I love the house where you dwell, the place where your glory resides.

This has been a very long day, and breakfast tomorrow is at 6:30, so I’ll try to make this as brief as possible.  Here is a small selection of the 74 photos I took today in Rome.  My flight landed at 8:30am, and I didn’t sleep very well on the plane, so I’ve pretty much been awake for three days.  But I got a second (or third or fourth…) wind when I beheld the beauty and vitality of this city.  A short description of the pictures, in gallery order:

  1. Looking up at the columns and statues that line the sides of St. Peter’s Square.  Note the exceptionally beautiful weather.
  2. The stairs and outdoor altar area of St. Peter’s, where we will be at Palm Sunday Mass tomorrow!  It will probably be decorated more at that time.
  3. I can’t believe my camera captured this gorgeous lighting decently.  I don’t need to describe to you how beautiful that view was, except to say that it took my breath away, as it was my first glance at the interior of St. Peter’s.
  4. A photo that does no justice to the Holy Spirit stained glass window behind the back altar.
  5. Another photo of the same stained glass window, with a better view of the surrounding area, but still no definition on the window itself.  I kept trying to get that shot right because it’s my favorite thing in the world, probably.
  6. “I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple,” and a mosaic of Pope John Paul II’s episcopal heraldry, on the drinking fountain.
  7. My Camelbak capturing the water from the right side of the temple!  I never knew plain water could taste so smooth and sweet as the water does here in Rome.  I half expected it to be dirty city water, but it tastes so fresh.
  8. Another shot of the outside of St. Peter’s.
  9. This is where the Pope lives!
Some of my favorite experiences of today were unphotographable — especially the tomb of St. Josemaría, where we had Mass, the tombs of Sts. Peter, Andrew, Paul, Bl. John Paul II, and other various Popes.  Enjoy the photos!  I will begin praying for all the intentions you’ve requested tomorrow morning at Mass.  Until tomorrow, good night!

The World is Quiet Here

Phase One of the jet-lag prevention strategy is underway.  I’m staying up all night and during my first flight in hopes that I will be able to sleep on the second, longer flight and wake up when we land in Rome in the morning.  It’s 5am EST, so the sun should be rising soon.  I actually love this part of all-nighters, when the whole world seems to be asleep–even on a busy college campus.  There’s a gentle hush over the city, with just the sounds of the trains and the few cars of commuters going to their crack-of-dawn jobs or home from night shifts.  In a few hours, I’ll go to the early morning Mass on campus (because why not?) and stop at the store for a few last-minute items before heading out to the airport.  Even though all my bags are packed, and I’m ready to go (name that song!), this trip doesn’t seem real to me yet.  I suspect it won’t seem real until I’m on the plane, or until I step onto Rome’s cobblestone streets amid the structures both ancient and modern, and breathe the Mediterranean air.

P.S. I’m still taking prayer requests.  The list is sizable, but I have an organization strategy by which I hope to give as much attention and prayer as I can to each individual intention.

Getting Ready for Roma!

I’m leaving tomorrow for my pilgrimage to Rome!!  Right now I’m packing, which obviously includes packing for my physical and academic needs, but for this particular trip also means packing my spiritual “bags” with prayer intentions of my relatives and friends that I will take with me to all the Masses we will be attending.  If you have any intentions, don’t forget to email me, or text me, or comment here if you are comfortable doing that.  As long as I have it in some written medium, your intentions will make their way to my list, and to Rome during the holiest week of the year.  I’m hoping to be able to blog every night, with stories and pictures, and if I do, I’ll include at the bottom of each post the initials of people whose intentions were remembered at Mass that day.

American Tune

In honor of my resolution to enjoy music again, I’ve been singing some of my favorite songs for fun.  It is SO refreshing to make music outside of work again.  And with my handy dandy MacBook (hah), I made you a recording of a favorite song of Lucas and I.  I like it because it allows me to combine my love for both Paul Simon and Johann Sebastian Bach.  In case you don’t know, it combines these two because the melody is taken from Bach’s Passion Chorale “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden (O head full of blood and wounds)”, which he uses in the St. Matthew Passion and again in the Christmas Oratorio.  I used to think, “oh, how ironic it is that Paul Simon’s ‘American Tune’ isn’t even an American tune.”  But recently I have realized that borrowing something from a different culture and calling it “American” is oh so Yankee.  So it’s totally American now, anyway.  And then Lucas informed me that not only did Paul Simon borrow it from Bach: Bach also borrowed it from an obscure German love song that was actually in 3/4.  So it started out as this very, very secular song by someone about whom nobody cares anymore, and became this poignant chorale of devotion to Christ’s suffering and death.

[This is by NO means a professional recording; just part of my practice session.  I used my built-in laptop speakers and recorded it in my dorm room, hence the bit of distant background noise of doors slamming near the beginning.]

Bis Orat Qui Bene Cantat

Illuminated Manuscript With Chant Neumes

Photo Credit: ffom.org

Good news, Internet people!  I received an email earlier this evening informing me that the paper I submitted to this year’s UNIV Congress in Rome has been selected to be presented at the conference!  So not only am I going to the Eternal City during the holiest week of the year, I also get to talk to some sort of audience there about one of my favorite things ever, Gregorian chant!  So now I guess I have to figure out what to say.  I heard a speaker once (the philosopher Alastair McIntyre) read an essay of his out loud to us, pausing every so often to engage us in discussion about the content.  I think that format could work for my paper, and I’m more than happy to get feedback so that I can really get to the issues my audience wants to hear about.  I’d love to hear what you think about that format, or if you have any other ideas.

The title of this post is the title of my paper.  It is a quote from St. Augustine and translates “He who chants well prays twice”.  You can read the whole paper here.  If you’re thinking, “I want to know what you wrote about, but I don’t want to read NINE WHOLE PAGES”, no problem!  Just read my abstract, posted below.  I’ll keep you all updated on my trip and such.  There will be plenty to write about.

Abstract
This essay by Kerri Sullivan seeks to make the reader aware that Gregorian chant is–and always has been–the cornerstone of Catholic music for worship.  It describes briefly the history of Gregorian chant and the Liturgy, then discusses the ways in which the chant is most befitting of the Mass.  This discussion is modeled on the description of the Mass’s meaning and purpose in the Second Vatican Council document Sacrosanctum Concilium.  The essay concludes with some practical suggestions for using music, especially chant, to re-invigorate Catholic liturgical worship today.  As the Mass is the “source, center, and summit of Christian life” (CCC 1324), Catholics have a solemn responsibility to ensure that it is celebrated properly according to the mission of the Church.  To safeguard this heavenly treasure for the benefit of souls, it is fitting to incorporate that music which has served the Mass so well for twenty centuries: Gregorian chant.
UPDATE: (Mar 6, 7pm)
I only have ten minutes to present this.  Guess it’s going to be another boring powerpoint without discussion, or perhaps a Prezi.