Guest post by Ricky Jones
I wasn’t born Catholic nor have I been a Catholic for very long. I was baptized about two years ago. Like most people, I never thought I did wrong, or that I was a sinner. I didn’t even know what sin was. Until the age of 23, no one ever had taught me anything about God. All I knew was that some people believed that He created us and that if we don’t do His will, we’re going to go to hell. I met my girlfriend, Johana, five and a half years ago in Phoenix, and thanks to her and her family, if not God Himself, I began to learn about God.
I would go with her and her family to Mass every Sunday, but just to go. I didn’t understand the majority of what they said in church. They are Mexicans and were all raised as Catholics. At the beginning, I didn’t want to know anything about religion, because in school they had taught me that God doesn’t exist and that we come from monkeys. That’s probably why I came out so hairy. My mother was never “religious,” and did she not teach me anything about God.
Mark your calendars YIMC Book Club members, because it’s time for us to take up the runner-up in the poll which C.S. Lewis won last time. What, you had forgotten? No worries, I will keep you up to date. I’m talking about The Great Heresies by Hilaire Belloc.
Now, before you all mutiny and go whining about how it’s summer-time and school is out etc.,etc., do me a favor. Save the complaining for another time. Sheesh, it’s starting to sound like my household around here with all my children reminding me that school is over! Adult lesson #1: School may be over, but life doesn’t go on vacation.
Besides, didn’t you see my post this morning? Reading this book will help you boost your number. So mark your calendars, head to your favorite book store, beg, borrow, (but please do not steal) a copy of Belloc’s “book on the biggies.” Real cheap-skates(I’m first in that line!) can even find it for free on-line. And don’t scramble too fast because although we will still meet on Thursdays, we don’t start until next Thursday. Looking at my wrist watch, that appears to be June 3rd.
This coming Thursday, though, I intend to follow Jack Lewis’ advice and give you a short, palate-clearing reading selection. Just like we did last time. Maybe we can actually have some decent discussions now that the Skipper (ahem, Webster) is ashore on business. Just don’t tell him I said that. Capice?!
If you will be joining us, sign up in the comment box below. In the meantime, take a look and a listen to this so you can prepare your brains’ “reading voice” for the sound of the character known as Mr. Belloc. Enjoy!
Tis is the season of school music concerts. Our oldest son, an eighth grader, loves playing the upright bass in his middle school jazz band. As a parent, I find it such a joy to watch 25 awkward middle school students, most of them boys, transform into confident jazz drummers, saxophone players, trumpeters and bassists. Much of what they play is swing music, a form of jazz music that became popular in the 1930s. The music, has fans worldwide, speaks to the sheer exuberance for life we can feel when we begin to count our blessings.
One of the best parts of being a parent is that our children take us places. I never had much of an interest in jazz music, or specifically in swing music, until our son developed an enthusiasm for it. Here is a clip from the 2004 Japanese movie “Swing Girls” that gives a sense of the transforming power of this music. In the movie, which won seven Japanese Academy Awards, a group of delinquent high school students from rural Yamagata prefecture form a jazz band. Here is a clip of their first efforts to learn to play swing music.
Who cannot tap one’s feet and smile when hearing Louis Prima sing “Pennies From Heaven?” The ebullient Italian-American trumpeter, singer, and songwriter from New Orleans was born into a musical family from Sicily and was strongly influenced by fellow New Orleaner Louis Armstrong. Prima’s style adapted to the times, but perhaps he is best known for the swing combo he led in the 1930s.
Glen Miller was one of the first famous swing band leaders. Here is his band playing Tuxedo Junction, one of the tunes my son’s jazz band plays.
The 1930s generated many great swing band leaders and musicians; for starters, the Dorsey Brothers, Cab Callaway, Artie Shaw, and Fats Waller. Thank God that Pandora Radio allows us to listen to these greats. I especially like this Pandora station: Big Band/Swing.
Here is Louis Armstrong in 1959 performing in Stuttgart, Germany. I figured this tune was especially appropriate to end this YIM Catholic post.
Guest post by Meredith Cummings
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts of the Apostles 2: 4).
The beloved Carmelite Chapel at our local mall is undergoing a makeover after 50 years in business. Since late winter, it has moved temporarily and now sits in an abandoned retail shell beside Toys ‘R Us, opposite Nordstrom’s. The temporary chapel (left) is not exactly a visual inspiration. Not knowing just where the oldest chapel in an American mall had been moved, I went in search of it this morning because I wanted to go to confession before a weekend retreat.
Father Herb was presiding and the first reading was underway as I walked in. About fifty communicants were present. The acoustics were awful. I heard every third word of Father’s homily and followed the communion liturgy only because I know most of it by heart. We wallowed in an echo chamber without an echo. But it was the Mass. I know this because Father Herb is a beautiful elderly priest and he would not lie about such things.
Afterward, I asked Father Herb if he would hear my confession. Of course he would, and while he greeted a few more departing communicants, I stood waiting for him before this (left) photo of Carmelite Saint Thérèse of Liseux, a Doctor of the Church, I will tell you now, it is very hard to make a bad confession after you have gazed at this face for more than a couple of seconds. I thought of this young woman living from age 16 to 24 in a Carmelite convent in France, then dying there of tuberculosis, and I really could not feel anything but inspired. The confession was short and sweet—centered on a matter that has been troubling me for nearly a year now—and then I hit the road in the direction of the retreat.
There is nothing like the Mass, after or (in this case) before Confession. I am happy to be a Catholic.