Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Of Your Charity

Yesterday one of my uncles, my dad's brother, suddenly passed on into eternity. He was 76 years old, and it is thought that he had a heart attack.

Though I grew up only a quarter mile from his house, and he and my dad (and their sister) were partners in our family dairy farm, I cannot say I knew Uncle Jim well. I knew his two kids, my cousins, well, but I simply had no closeness of any kind with my uncle.

To my knowledge he lived and died without any religion of any kind, and I am saddened by this. I am sorry too for my cousins' loss of their only remaining parent.

And so I would ask you, dear readers, of your charity, to say a prayer today for my Uncle Jim.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual
light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Piano

I have always loved the piano. I didn't take lessons growing up as many of my friends did, mainly because we never had a piano in the house. But my desire never waned. When I was 18 we did get a piano. My parents got it for $100. It was old and small--didn't even have 88 keys. I think it had 85. But it was good enough to start lessons on.

When I got my first 'real' job at age 20, the first thing I wanted to buy was my very own piano. So I saved and I saved, until the day I went downtown to the piano store and was able to buy one on my own. It was a Kohler console piano, walnut, and I thought it lovely. It was delivered to my parents' house where I still lived at the time, and there it stayed through my 20s. And all through my 20s I continued to take lessons.

I never became an accomplished pianist, but I always loved to play. Circumstances led me to stop lessons at some point around age 30, but I kept my piano, moving it everywhere I moved (much to the chagrin of every brother and friend who ever helped me move!)

My piano has followed me everywhere, including the 2200 mile move to St. Louis some ten years ago. In the early years of our marriage I played a very little, but was too busy with my babies to play as I once did. Ensuing years silenced the piano even more as my ability to play with both hands became less and less possible, my left hand succumbing to the effects of MS.

But two years ago next month, piano music came back into our home when our boys began taking piano lessons, and what a blessing it has been. Each week a fine young piano teacher comes to our home to instruct the boys. And everyday I sit at the piano and go through the lessons with our sons. I never imagined two years could show so much progress in them, but it has. One son especially loves to play, but it is a delight to listen to either of them at the piano.

I didn't realize over 25 years ago when I bought this piano that one day it would be my sons' playing on it that I enjoyed so much. Very infrequently I will still sit down and play a few old favorites, albeit one-handed, and when I do, the boys will yell from whatever room they're in, "Mom, is that you??", surprised at my quasi-ability to make 'beautiful' music. But as much as I have always loved to play, it is now our boys' music that brings me such joy.... on my very own, old, piano.

St. Cecilia, Patroness of Musicians, pray for us!

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Beautiful Day at the Oratory

Yesterday was an especially nice Sunday. Our boys were very excited to see the newest priest at St. Francis deSales Oratory, Canon Jason Apple. As a deacon, he was our oldest son's catechism teacher at the SFdS homeschool co-op and thus, our son was particularly anxious too see this former deacon recently ordained to the holy priesthood. (Click here for some nice pictures posted at St. Louis Catholic from Canon's ordination).

And see him we did. The boys followed his every move around church as we sat in our places waiting for Mass to begin. "Look," they both whispered to me, "there he is!"... "Is he going to say Mass, Mom?"... ""Look, Mom, he's going to hear confessions now!!"

It really impressed upon me how much our young boys look up to these deacons and priests. They were truly in awe of him. Such a high calling they have! And so we offer our congratulations and prayers for Canon Apple. And we are reminded to pray:

Lord, send us priests,
Lord, send us holy priests,
Lord, send us many holy priests and religious vocations!

After Mass the boys received their first instruction in serving from Abbe Alex, the Oratory Sacristan (and also our younger son's catechism teacher). Some of the concerns I posted in my last blog entry were relieved as my husband and I sat in the pew observing their practice. All of the boys--five in all--were very attentive and reverently followed Abbe's excellent direction. If our boys were excited about serving before, they are more-so now.

And so ended another blessed morning at the Oratory. God bless our good priests and religious!

As we got in the car to go home, my 7-year old son and I had the following exchange:

"Mom, if God is calling you to be a priest, but you don't want to be one, do you still have to be?"

"Why? Don't you want to be a priest?"

"No," he answered, almost sheepishly.

"You know what I think?" I asked him, "I think if God one day calls you to the priesthood, you will probably want to become a priest. You have lots of time to pray about what God is calling you to. For right now I think He's just calling you to be an altar boy, don't you?"

"Yeah!" he said with a sigh of relief and a big smile.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Altar Boys

As a mother to two boys, I have long thought of how proud I would be if one day either or both of them might join the procession at Holy Mass as altar boys. Well, that day might just be in sight! Today I received a call from our Oratory Sacristan who wished to schedule a time for meeting with interested boys, and to begin training them to serve.

My boys are very excited about this! And so am I, though admittedly I am not a little bit apprehensive, simply because I know my boys! Can these two, who are perpetual motion--squared--at home, actually sit in the choir stalls as still as potted plants for the duration of a solemn high mass--often the better part of two hours?? I see other boys their ages fulfilling such service every Sunday, but can mine do the same? I am hopeful, but I will certainly implore Our Lord and Lady in this! And I need to find out soon who is the patron saint of altar boys (anyone care to save me the googling?)

But concerned though I might be, I did find some encouragement from a mother of many sons, who perhaps felt as I did when her oldest boys first processed in to Holy Mass. Just this week I got a book of poetry by Hilary McRee Flanery, also known as Long-Skirts (a link to her poetry blog is here, or on the blog list on the right). In her lovely book A Breath of Home, there is a poem entitled Five Sons wherein she observes the transformation of her active, loud, raucous boys into still, quiet and serene altar boys:

Five Sons

Today, five sons,
Served on the altar.
Determined boys
Who would not falter.

Boys, at home,
Who fight and shove
But on the altar
Assist with love.

At home shouting,
From top of lung.
On the altar,
Latin’s sung.

At home running
Can’t sit still.
On the altar
Disciplined will.

At home throwing
Cereal, toast.
On the altar
Adoring Host.

At home bedrooms,
Scattered scene.
On the altar
Order, serene.

I, proud, mother,
Faithful to Rome,
Five sons on the altar,
Five men at home.

Thank you, Long-Skirts! This is my hope and prayer for my two sons, that indeed they will honor Our Lord as altar boys, and that the coming weeks will be just the beginning of many years of service for them at the Altar of Our Lord.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Poem for Every Mom

Rummaging through my desk this morning I came across a tattered print-out of a poem I love. It is by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton and was published in 1958 in Ladies' Home Journal. Five children we do not have, but with the two God has blessed my husband and I with, I can affirm every line, and that with a lump in my throat!

Song for a Fifth Child

Mother, oh Mother,
come shake out your cloth,
empty the dustpan,
poison the moth,
hang out the washing
and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house
is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery,
blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).

The shopping’s not done
and there’s nothing for stew
and out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
but I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.

Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.

So quiet down, cobwebs.
Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.