Grief, a Joyful Nun, Misery-lovers & the Annunciation

Singing nun Sister Cristina Scuccia on Italy’s The Voice

My column at First Things looks at two stories from last week -- one grievous, and one glad -- and how, amid the mysteries contained within each, some people could only be miserable: The immediate responses seemed like reasonable ones: The plight of a family facing a wound of such depth would naturally evoke empathetic sadness in others, and our human need to feel empowered in dreadful circumstances fueled an impressively-answered fundraiser meant to defray the costs of emergency airlifts, … [Read more...]

Augustine’s Confessions Set to Music? Let’s Bring This Baby Home! – UPDATE: GOAL REACHED!

Augustine of Hippo, Modern Icon by Nancy Oliphant; available here

:::UPDATE:::: GOAL REACHED! Applaud yourselves for the hand you've had in a creative endeavor! :::END UPDATE::: Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You … [Read more...]

Advent Reading Recommendations 2013 – UPDATED

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Julie Davis beat me to it, but as usual, I have some Advent Reading ideas -- and more than one of them would also make terrific Christmas gifts: Topping the List, because I just think it's so cool to have music specific to Advent to access at this time: The Benedictines of Mary's must-have recording, Advent at Ephesus. If you didn't get it last year, do yourself a favor and gift yourself with this glorious music, which is the antidote to all the noise that is about to come upon us. Listen … [Read more...]

“A Very Safe Place” in a world so thin of them…

blue mountain

The value of a musical education begun during the early years of childhood has been well-documented; students who are exposed to musical instruction while young tend to do better in math and language arts and -- more importantly -- they develop a musicality that will remain with them for as long as they choose to use it, and can always be re-gained. At a recent family event our sons brought out a guitar, a uke, a mandolin and (and a fiddle for a guest) and it was kind of delightful to have a … [Read more...]

Benedictine Voices: Angels and Saints Debuts at #1

1A SINGING NUN

So, Katrina is in one of her hissing moods, tonight, and I have decided that what she needs is to listen to the incredibly sweet tone of the Benedictines of Mary, whose latest album, Angels and Saints at Ephesus has debuted at #1 on the Classical music charts. Why am I doing this? Because that's just the kind of gal I am, and also because "music hath charms to soothe the savage breast", and for soothing the savage there is almost nothing better than this stuff. I don't know if it's because … [Read more...]

No Room for God in this “Adoration of the Magi”

adoration_of_the_magi_schierenberg

I really like the way Simcha Fisher analyzes this painting, "The Adoration of the Magi" by Tai-Shan Shierenberg. Is it a problem that these "Magi" are not kings or wise men, that they're not even all men, that they don't have historically accurate clothes or hair, or that they don't show any signs of bearing gifts or of having traveled afar? Not necessarily. These departures from more traditional art may irritate or perplex you, but they aren't enough, in themselves, to disqualify this … [Read more...]

The Muscular Spirituality of Leah Libresco – UPDATED

leah goggles

In its end-of-year issue, Our Sunday Visitor has profiled 9 Outstanding Catholics of 2012 who have been particularly effective "examples of leadership, service and witness in the past year." Three of those nominated for consideration blog here, at Patheos -- Marc Barnes (Bad Catholic), Lisa Hendey (A Good Measure) and Leah Libresco (Unequally Yoked) -- and another, Sister Lisa Marie Doty, of Nunspeak Blog has contributed several pieces, to our Habit of Witness series. It was my pleasure … [Read more...]

An Orchestra Assembled from a Land Fill

The next time your kid complains because he or she doesn't have the latest and best version of this or that, tell them you love them, and then sit them down to watch this: My son's g/f, watching, found in this an answer to the utilitarian types who think beauty and art are unnecessary and extraneous. These people are so poor, but they still want art, seek art, live for art. The transcendent connection to God. The beauty that saves us. I want to see this movie. Related: Dame Kiri Te … [Read more...]

Advent: Love Words and Expectations in the Dark – UPDATED

Madonna and Child, by Marianne Stokes (1855-1927)

I am so grateful that Advent is upon us; my favorite time of year! It is all hope, depth, mystery and promise of light, and it feels like we need it; it feels as though we have all been so occupied with politics, natural disasters, willful (and unpersuasive) belligerence and our own daily anxieties and stresses -- so many people I know are anticipating Christmas with dread rather than joy -- that we need our heads turned toward something great! In my column at The Catholic Answer I put it … [Read more...]

Hawaiian Folk Music, Crusades and Columns

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Last night, my husband got home from an outing and watched The Descendents, starring George Clooney. Not really a Clooney fan, but he was very good, and the movie was engrossing. Hubby and I both wished that some religious perspective might have been introduced, but then that would have made it a completely different movie, so -- it is what it is. The reason I'm mentioning it at all, though is because we both commented, almost at precisely the same moment, that we were really enjoying the … [Read more...]

Hilarion Alfeyev on Music and Unity

hilarion alfeyev

It's no secret I am an unabashed fan of Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev and of his writings and his music, which I've linked to several times over the years. Joseph Susanka -- who is a pretty busy guy, what with six kids, a job and his weekly column here at Patheos -- managed to snag an interview with the bishop, and treats us to a fascinating exchange on music, liturgy and Christian Unity. Here is a little bit: . . .today a different problem is acquiring primary importance – the … [Read more...]

Eve in Mary Reconciled as are we All – UPDATED

evemary reduced

Eve and Mary by Sr. Grace Remington, O.C.S.O A couple of years ago I wrote about This beautiful illustration and the poem "O Eve": A Trappistine nun, [the late Abbess] Columba Guare of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, who composed the texts for the Abbey’s Christmas cards, wrote this lovely poem, wherein the Virgin Mary addresses Eve with hope and gladness: O Eve! My mother, my daughter, life-giving Eve, Do not be ashamed, do not grieve. The former things have … [Read more...]

Smokin' Hot Brandon MacFarlane

When Michael Jackson was about 11 years old, he recorded a staggeringly mature, prodigiously musical vocal of Who's Loving You? and I thought I'd never hear another kid who could open up and sing with that sort of soul-stirring freedom. Then I heard my son Buster blasting this from across the house. I thought he'd been listening to one of his favorite gospel singers, and I assumed this was a much older artist. Wow. Right up there with what Jackson managed -- he is completely at ease, … [Read more...]

Accept Almighty Father – FOUND!

A couple days ago I awoke with my memory ringing back a hymn from my childhood that I had not heard in likely 42 years, and which I could not find on google. Happily, a twitter-follower, HeyJulieo found the hymn, with the melody I remember, in the 1966 Parish Mass Book - St. Joseph Edition. Can we please have this wonderful, singable, instructive and reverent hymn back? Please? … [Read more...]