Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Spring in DC

A couple of weeks ago, we drove up to DC to visit with Max and his friends. And on the road trip, I got my first taste of Buc-ee's.  Excellent beef brisket! Friendly staff! Clean bathrooms with art on the wall. Very Texas! I'm so grateful Michael enjoys driving and is happy to make the long drive without my help. My job was to pick music, audio dramas, and navigate once we got closer to DC. I'd forgotten how horrendous the traffic is. Michael was glad to relinquish the keys to Max when we got there. He knows DC well given he takes the metro and rides his bike everywhere. It makes me happy to see him happy, but how I wish he were just a wee bit dissatisfied so that he could be thinking of working his way down to Charleston. I'm so grateful he takes the time to nurture all his relationships.   

We had such a good time sight-seeing. Went to Meridian Park. Loved the statue of Dante and St. Joan of Arc (she makes an appearance in my historical)! Later that evening Michael and Max had a nice smoke out on the porch. It got chilly so I stayed indoors to finish By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho. Such a beautiful story of young people discerning their vocation.

It was so moving to visit Arlington National Cemetery. Just thinking about how many people have died to secure the freedoms we enjoy makes my heart overflow with gratitude. I didn't realize that Arlington house was that of Robert E. Lee. Michael is reading his biography and he reads snippets aloud to me so it was doubly interesting to visit the house and gardens and know of the beginning of a national cemetery.

We had a picnic lunch at the arboretum and enjoyed walking about on the trails, admiring all the beautiful flowers. So many azaleas in bloom! I also loved the bonsai exhibit--I've always loved miniatures and the bonsai is no exception. Some were over 100 years old! 

Sunday was lovely. We heard Mass at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America. Such a simple and beautiful Gregorian chant Mass and in such a sacred space. Reminded me of this lovely quote of St. Augustine:  
Augustine of Hippo

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 have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”

The mosaics depicted all the mysteries of the rosary as well as many saints and scenes from the Bible. Ave Maria was shown in many different languages. I still haven't deciphered the heiroglyphics! The gardens and grottos were such a delight. To have this in the middle of the city is such a blessing to the residents. In this monastery we can never forget the roots of our Christian faith. It is Jewish. I'm especially reminded of this every time I sing the psalms--many of the chants date back to Jewish times. Pope St. Gregory only formalized what was already a practice. The monastery was having a garden sale--we brought home a banana plant! 

Finally, the main event: celebrating 25 years of the monks of Norcia. We were first introduced to them Michaelmas 2015 and how beautifully the community has grown! The brew-meister is a native of SC. He was a postulant when we first met, now a priest--Fr. Augustine. I know Michael would love to make a retreat there; maybe he will when he retires. I've known a few people who've gone there for a month and it is very difficult re-entering the world. I remember that the monks have a transition to make too, when they return to their quiet life in the monastery. They must decontaminate, if you will, from the worldly pleasures. I am so grateful that they do come out into the world to give us a taste of heaven. Ross Douthat spoke about his friendship with the monks, how chronic Lyme changed his life, how he became the beneficiary of the monks' prayers--he, along with his wife, Abigail Tucker, and their children were able to make a retreat at Norcia. The monastery is a lighthouse--it both points to the heavenly way, as well as being a beacon that draws people toward them. So many people are building their families in the shadow of what the monks have built, given the chaos of living in a post-Christian society. There's a renewal of religious life because we long for the transcendent. When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith? Yes! Perhaps it's only a remnant, but it's enough. Come, Lord Jesus! 

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Ascension of our Lord

Happy Feast of the Ascension!!! Where our Lord is, there we hope to be too! It is the second Glorious Mystery and we pray for the virtue of Hope. What's been lost in the new liturgy are the three Rogation days prior to Ascension Thursday. It's when we pray for blessings upon our crops, for a bountiful fruit. With the industrial food system, we don't think about these things, but when you consider how unnatural it is, how detrimental it is to have pesticides and hormones contaminating our food (no wonder an increasing number of people have chronic health problems), think about supporting your local farmers. Since the Covid crap began, we began buying our meat, eggs, raw milk, and whatever vegetables we didn't grow ourselves from local farmers. Our health is so much better and it feels good to know where our food is coming from. 

We'll also begin the world's oldest and original novena in preparation for Pentecost! That's one of the reasons I don't like that Ascension has been shifted to Sunday. It's Ascension Thursday for a reason: 40 days after Easter. Plus novena = nine days of prayer. Yeah, the numbers matter to me. Le sigh. 

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy Love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

It's hard to believe that it was only last year Dagny graduated from Ave Maria.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Happy May!!!

I love the month of May for so many reasons as numerous as May flowers: it is the month of honoring Mary, St. Joseph her husband, provider and guardian of the Holy Family, Dagny's birth, St. Joan of Arc, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, the Visitation in which Mary visits her elderly cousin Elizabeth, who is carrying St. John the Baptist in her womb, and who recognizing the Presence of His Savior, leaps for joy. I love this scene so much: 

Elizabeth says, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” 

Mary responds with her Magnificat. My favorite rendition is Palestrina's sung by Voces8: This painting captures the joy so beautifully. If anyone knows who the artist is, please let me know so that I can try to get a copy of it. 
VulgateBook of Common Prayer (1662)
Magnificat anima mea Dominum;
et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo,
quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae;
Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est, et sanctum nomen eius,
Et misericordia eius a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo;
dispersit superbos mente cordis sui;
deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles;
esurientes implevit bonis
et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum, recordatus misericordiae suae,
sicut locutus est ad patres nostros,
Abraham et semini eius in saecula.

The Gloria Patri is appended to the canticle but is not part of Luke's Gospel.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto,
sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper: et in Saecula saeculorum. Amen.
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded: the lowliness of his handmaiden: For behold, from henceforth: all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me: and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him: throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel:
As he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.

The Gloria Patri is appended to the canticle, but is not part of Luke's Gospel.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Keeper of the Bees

We're learning so much since Michael started keeping bees. We now have two hives--a top bar and the more traditional box. This should ensure lots of honey and wax and bees for the garden. Such wonderful creatures. Life is sweet with bees! In fact, we'd all starve without bees. People don't realize that 75% of the plants we eat need pollinators. All the pesticides used in industrial farming are killing the bees. I'm so thankful we have many local farmers who practice regenerative farming and who are happy to share what they know. 

Our first batch of bees arrived in the mail about a month ago--they went into the top bar and they're doing well, building comb and filling it with brood. The new bees are hatching.

We picked up the second batch from R&R Acres and it's a fully functioning hive--almost ready to swarm--in fact, while we were at the farm, there was a callout to collect a swarm. Here, Michael is adding empty frames in-between the fully-formed ones so that the bees have room to grow. It's so nice to have bees humming and buzzing in the backyard again. Welcome, new bees! 

Some fun pictures from R&R family farm. We visited the store and I bought some soap and a face-toner (smells divine with rose and hibiscus and honey) and the chocolate covered honey was absolutely delicious! The striped bird in the cage is a young emu. The older ones were delightful to watch too. What a beautiful place to raise a family. It can look idyllic but it's a lot of work! I know I don't have the energy but it is such a joy to see young families succeed at building and sustaining a family farm.