three firsts

When I went to church this morning, Sister Alma, who is pastoral minister, asked about my mom who is under home hospice care. Sister Alma usually goes to visit, but she has had a bad cold so has been unable to make her usual rounds. She asked if I brought communion to my mom on Sundays, which I had never thought to do. She went to the office to get a pyx for me; that is the small container that is used to carry the Eucharist to someone who is unable to attend mass. I brought the pyx with me when I went up to receive communion, the Eucharistic minister placing a host in the pyx before I received myself. When we went up to my parents’ for Sunday dinner, my mother and I said a couple of prayers together and I gave her communion. It was a privilege to be able to do this and I will be able to do it every week. Sister Alma will still visit when she is able to, but my mom will at least get communion once a week even when she can’t.

The other two firsts belong to the now seven-month-old ABC. After weeks and weeks of swollen gums and chewing on everything she gets her hands on, the corner of ABC’s first tooth broke through today. She also managed some self-propulsion today, not exactly crawling, but sort of scooching on her belly, enough that she moved off her play quilt and across the braided rug to the chair before I scooped her up. As is typical, she was moving backward rather than forward, but still progress!
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Singing the “O Antiphons”

Last Sunday, I posted about how moved I was with the communion song at church.  This week, I am sharing again. I managed, barely, not to cry this week, though.

We sang all the verses of Dan Schutte’s “Christ, Circle Round Us”. Sadly, the recording below does not have all the verses.

Schutte based the tune on the chant melody for Salve Regina, giving it a sound that is both traditional and contemporary. The text is based on the “O Antiphons” which are traditionally sung in the last days of Advent. They use the language of the Hebrew Scriptures to evoke the coming of the Messiah. They also incorporate more universal themes of winter solstice, longing for light and new growth.

What strikes me especially this year is the emphasis on hope. Hope is not one of my stronger virtues, but it is one that I need to find in large measure now, with so many challenges facing us.

Sometimes, the right song helps.

Remembrances on Sunday

Today would have been my friend Angie‘s 65th birthday and I just sent a contribution to her memorial fund. In the brief note that I sent to her family, I noted that I can’t imagine that Angie would have “retired” because she was all about love and service and would not have stopped doing that. I am honoring her memory today and remembering her family and friends who have been without her physical presence for over ten years.

As it happens, two of my college friends lost their mothers this month, one unexpectedly and one after a long period of illness, so I am sending thoughts and prayers out to Sally and Tricia, their moms, and their families.

Two friends are dealing with a sudden medical emergency with their loved ones. One’s husband’s life was saved by emergency open heart surgery. The other’s asymptomatic brother was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at his first screening colonoscopy at age 50. Both men are facing a long road to recovery and I am holding them and their whole families in thought and prayer as well.

Yesterday, I attended vigil mass at St. Joseph’s, which was the long-time church home of my friend Marcia, whom we lost to ovarian cancer several years ago.  Last month was ovarian cancer awareness month, with several big fundraising events. There has been some progress in detection and treatment since Marcia died and I hope that the advances will help her descendants to lead long, healthy lives.

It’s a quiet Sunday morning. Soon, B and I will head up to Good Shepherd Village to visit Grandma, Nana, and Paco with an extra measure of thankfulness.

A women-centric Sunday morning

Being a long-time feminist, I tend to notice when things are more male-centered or female-centered, and, being Catholic, Sunday mornings tend to be more male-centered. Today has been a lovely, woman-centered surprise.

It began early this morning when I read a blog post from Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan containing the homily from the latest ordination in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests in Albany NY. It was preached jointly by her and the ordinands and referenced several women mystics from the Catholic tradition.

The gospel reading at Mass this morning was the healing of the woman with a hemorrhage and the raising of the daughter of Jairus.  As so often happens, the names of these two are lost to history, but I find their stories and their juxtaposition in Mark’s gospel compelling.  The mature woman, who has been bleeding for twelve years and has been bankrupted by paying doctors who have not helped her, is healed, unbeknownst to Jesus, when she touches his cloak. When Jesus asks who in the crowd touched him, she comes forward and tells him the story. It was her faith that healed her and allowed her to re-enter society. Given that Jewish women were considered ritually impure when they were bleeding, she would have spent those twelve years unable to touch people and be part of normal life. Her healing gave her her life back.

When this happened, Jesus was on his way to the house of Jairus to heal his daughter who was very ill. Before they arrive, word comes that the girl has died. Jesus continues, though, and raises the girl from her deathbed and restores her to the arms of her loving parents. The Scripture tells us that the girl is twelve years old, an age on the cusp of womanhood. I love the symmetry of the story: two females restored to life, one young, one older, both related to the number twelve, which is so often used in the Bible to denote completeness.

In church this morning, we also got to hear an appeal from a Benedictine sister from Tanzania on behalf of her order’s orphanage there. She is in the US attending college, in Buffalo in my home state of New York, and hoping to go on for her master’s in special education so that she can return to Tanzania to assist in the education of the children in the orphanage. Interestingly, we also have a connection to the Rift Valley Children’s Village, another orphanage in Tanzania, through cousin Sara, who has volunteered there extensively. It was a privilege to be able to offer prayers and financial support this morning. It was also most welcome to hear a woman’s voice from the ambo.

Now, my daughter and I are relaxing together before lunch. I wonder what other woman-centered events the day will bring?