Monday, July 29, 2013

"This book answers a million questions"

"It is easy to follow and cuts through a maze I have never been able to decipher in the LOTH instructions."

 There are now 42 reviews of The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours on Amazon. Some are from you wonderful people, but most are--I think-- from strangers to this blog. We've been bouncing off and on the top 100 Catholic list these last few weeks after having previously been a steady presence there.  But hopefully an upcoming appearance on EWTN will create a bounce. 

And thank you  to everyone who is talking it up among interested friends, family, and parishioners.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Office of Readings Patristics Guide on Sale

The latest Ignatius Press Sale catalog lists this amazing book for less than Half Price!!!!!

I've given a short  description of  it here. And a much longer review on Amazon, if you need more info.

If you do the Office of Readings, and ever finish a reading wondering, "I wonder when that saint lived." THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU!

If you ever wanted to recall or quote something you are sure you read in the Office of Readings about some particular doctrinal or moral topic, and thought to yourself, "Shoot! I wish I could find that reading again." THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU.

If you ever finished a reading by a particular father/doctor/saint and said to yourself, "I love the way this father/doctor/saint writes. I want to see more of him right now." THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU.

Weekly Q&A - Heat Relief Edition

Welcome, new blog followers Karen and "Flowers". Good to have you here. Feel free to question or comment any time, any post.

Finally, a break in the heat/humidity/frequent rain. We've had a couple of cool dry days and clear, starry nights  that awaken the longing for autumn in my heart.

And made it possible to get the deck painted, so I am feeling very, very good these days.

More exciting news: EWTN has agreed to interview me on Bookmarks with Doug Keck!!!!!
I'm not sure yet if this is a live broadcast or a taping for future broadcast, but it will take place on August 8th at the Catholic Marketing Network convention in Somerset, New Jersey. I'm thrilled that the Everyday Catholics Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours is getting this kind of exposure. Hopefully many more Catholics will start praying with the Church universal as a result of this program.

Okay, weekly Q&A time. Any and all comments and questions about the breviary are welcome here.

And happy St. Anne&Joachim day to you all. I like to think of this as an unofficial Catholic Grandparents Day, so may special blessings come today, through the intercession of this holy couple, to all those in this demographic.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Buy this for Your Teens!

My daughter just reviewed on Amazon  The Truth is Out There, a fantastic graphic novel/comic by Catholic Answers.  This is a decent apologetics course in the format of a sci-fi adventure/comedy.

Written by a young  Maronite monk, no less.

I believe that most confirmation classes in this country could be improved 100% , and result in more kids remaining in the church afterward, if this book were substituted for a large part of the mind-numbing drivel that these classes often contain.

Check it out.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Weekly Q&A Time! Heatwave Edition

image credit

Looks like most of us in the USA are using fans and air conditioners this week.
Resist the temptation to think it's too hot to pray the hours. Just do what I do and pout a tall glass of ice tea to sip with your psalms.

Any questions about the Divine Office this week? Fire away.

Optional and Obligatory Memorials--what are the Options? -Divine Office factoid #9

Probably the single most confusing area of the Liturgy of the Hours involves knowing what your choices are on memorials of saints.  I get asked about this a lot.  Feasts and solemnities are easy--you do whatever it says for each of these days in the proper of saints, with no variation.Observing them is obligatory. There are some questions about whether to use an Evening Prayer I on their vigil, but that is another topic.   The problem with memorials is that there are several ways to do them.  Your breviary actually explains this but it means locating the page of explanations and finding the answer to your specific question. It might be easier to copy and print the following general principles and paste them inside the cover of your book.

1. Memorials and optional memorials are celebrated in the exact same way EXCEPT that the optional memorial is optional. This means you may ignore it and just do the current weekday if you prefer.
2. There are two ways to celebrate memorials: a. Stick with the current weekday in your 4-week psalter, substituting  whatever variations are supplied in the proper of saints. Most of the time this is only a concluding prayer, but sometimes it can be more, so always look over the entry in the proper of saints before you begin. b. Instead of the weekday in the psalter, choose one of the Commons (holy men, holy women, martyr, etc.), which you use for the entire office, except for those items in the saint's proper.

That's all there is to it. No matter what the St. Joseph guide or anyone else may tell you, you are always free to do memorials in one of two ways. (Or not at all when it's optional)

One more thing. Although many memorials have nothing "extra" other than a concluding prayer, always look at the proper of saints before you start. Some of the more ancient, time-honored saints have lots of stuff in their proper. We have a few examples in July: St. Mary Magdalene; St. Anne&Joachim.

The reasoning behind the Church's giving us these options? It seems that the Church has a kind of "preferential option" for the four week psalter and the normal yearly sequence of scripture readings in the Office of Readings. She does not want us to lose the rhythm of the psalter, nor miss too many of the appointed daily bible readings, which is what would happen if we celebrated every single memorial using the  commons for saints. At least, that is how I understand what I see in the Vatican II documents on the liturgy.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ordinary Time is Amazing!

I've written many times about the phase of the liturgical year known as Ordinary time, debunking the idea that "ordinary" means dull, routine, etc.

But today at the National Catholic Register, Fr.Dwight Longenecker really knocks it out of the park with this post about ordinary time.

Check it out!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Another Reason I Like St. Benedict

If you take a magnifying glass to your St. Benedict medal you will see a raven standing at his feet. Or if you don't have a magnifying glass (or a St. Benedict medal) just google "St. Benedict raven", and have a great time looking at all the paintings, icons, statues and Benedictine college sports mascots that depict this bird. Here are a few that I liked:
The story is that when Benedict tried to reform a lax monastery, a couple of monks who did NOT want to be reformed tried to do away with him by serving him poisoned bread. But a helpful raven flew in through the window, snatched the loaf out of the saint's hand, and made off with it. 
I hope the raven didn't eat it. 
Ravens are not generally thought of as "nice" birds, but God seems to like them an awful lot. He sent one to the prophet Elijah with loaves of (non-poisoned) bread while he was hiding out in the desert from his enemies. He inspired the psalmist to marvel at His providence for the "young ravens that call upon Him" in Psalm 147.  I'm pretty sure there's a few more Ravens to the Rescue of Saints stories out there, but can't think of them at the moment. 
Anyway, it's the kind of thing that animal lovers like myself get excited about. 

Gratitude to God, St. Benedict and Benjamin George

Gratitude rays are just shooting out of me today. (No, that sounds like I'm a science fiction character. Let's try again.)

I'm just oozing gratitude all over the place. (Yuck. No....Let's try  one more time.)

I'm grateful for three things that happened today. (Good. Normal. Plain and to the point.)

Today dawned bright and sunny, and it promises to remain so for several days. This after days upon days of rain punctated by cloudiness puncutated with occasional 30-minute stretches of sunshine that only served to tease and frustrate those of us who are longing for some Actual Summer Weather. Although, trying to see that silver lining--I've tried to be grateful that I've only had to water the tomatoes with a hose twice this month. But even that has been difficult, since I've been longing to use my gimmicky, new, as-seen-on-TV hose that expands when you turn the water on and contracts when you shut the water off. Honestly, when I read that verse in Psalm 63 that says " a dry weary land without water," I just want to snort and say, "What's that?"    Anyway, today is beautiful, and I plan to take a nice long hike today, even though each step will go squish in the sodden ground. Thank you, Lord, for the sunshine.  

Next, today is the feast of St. Benedict! The saint who more or less created western monasticism and gave us the Divine Office! (not to mention played a huge part in preserving western civilization after the fall of Rome. Read his biography sometime.)  Don't forget to do his memorial office today, using either the common of holy men with the proper of saints, or else the weekday psalter, substituting all the extras for Benedict in the proper of saints.   Just love the second reading in the OOR which ends with this thought: Put Christ before all else; and may he lead us all to everlasting life. Thank you, St. Benedict.

Last, I just discovered an app that will help hugely with my anger management issues related to Gregorian chant.  You see, I love Gregorian chant. But I hate trying to figure out the archaic  four-line staff system that the movers and shakers of the New Liturgical Movement insist on using. (Even though I am convinced that you can do chant JUST FINE with the modern five-line staff.) After decades of playing piano and reading music with the modern staff, I can't train myself--despite valiant effort--to sight read the four line staff. I'm just too old and the grooves in my brain for reading musical notes are too deep.

But then, early this morning, I discovered the iChant Gregorian app, which is available both in android and ioS.  The screen gives you a Gregorian staff with notes on each line and space, enabling you to tap out any hymn, psalm tone, anitphon,etc., so that you really know you have the right notes and intervals. There are buttons to switch from the Do clef to the Fa clef, and to move these from one line to another. You can also transpose it to any key you like.  Here is a sample screen shot:

So I am hugely grateful to Benjamin George. Finally, someone understands.

Oh, and it's weekly Question time for anyone who has one.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Gettysburg, General Lee,Psalm 144 plus weekly Q&A

Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight. (Psalm 144:1, King James version)

On this hot, muggy, cloudy July 4th afternoon, my husband and I are keeping cool by staying indoors and watching the 1993 film Gettysburg. What more fitting thing to do on this day and on this year, the 150th anniversary of that famous battle. 

In one of the early scenes, General Lee walks out of his tent and appropriately quotes the opening verses of paslm 144.  The script writers knew what they were doing. Lee, a devout episcopalian, probably read his bible daily. And if he used the Book of Common Prayer,the psalms would have been especially familiar to him. So naturally, a psalm about warfare would come to Lee's mind before he embarked on battle.

After a few years of praying the daily Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), many verses from the psalms become old friends. They come to you in moments of joy, grief, exhaustion, adoration, and--like Lee--resolve. Once you've immersed yourself in the psalms as formal, liturgical prayer, you find them springing up into your informal prayer:

O God, your are my God, for you I long...
Into your hands I commend my spirit...
My refuge, my stronghold, my God in whom I trust...
My soul waits for the Lord, I count on his word...

What are the favorite verses and phrases that come to you when you're talking to God?
And what are your questions for our weekly query post?

Happy 4th! Pray for our nation.

And welcome, new blog follower, Walter. Good to have you.