Celebrating the Word on our own

Looks like Magnificat has ended its free “Celebration of the Word” PDF distribution to help families pray along with the Liturgy of the Word on Sundays. I can understand why: More dioceses are allowing public celebration of Mass again, and it’s understandable to encourage Catholics to return to Sunday Mass. Many of those same dioceses (including ours), however, haven’t reimposed the Sunday obligation, given that plenty of people remain wary of collective worship for fear of COVID-19 infection.

As I mentioned last weekend, I’m starting to return to Sunday Mass at our parish; however, with no Sunday obligation for now and all the COVID-19 complications, I had resolved to keep F home for now and set aside time for us to go through the Celebration of the Word together.

The end of the Celebration PDF distribution complicates that plan, of course. So, I went ahead and created a Celebration of the Word document template, based on the basic Magnificat-created PDF structure, and added this Sunday’s readings and several prayers to align with the liturgy (but not replicate all of it word-for-word, as much of the Mass liturgy requires a priest). Included are the Apostles’ Creed, an Act of Spiritual Communion, and the Hail Mary and prayer to St. Michael the Archangel at the end. F needs to learn the Apostles Creed and the St. Michael prayer anyway, so it seemed a good way to introduce her to those.

Meanwhile, I’m registered for tomorrow’s 7 a.m. Mass. (Registration is intended to help the parish ensure manageable, socially distanced attendance.) Not my favorite time to attend, but I’m still looking forward to it. Then, Lord willing, I’ll come home and F and I will have our own Celebration and connect with God together. Pray for us.

In New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton says that retreating into solitude should not be used as an escape from the world but as a means to live more fully in it. “Go into the desert,” he wrote, “not to escape other men but in order to find them in God.”

~ John Dougherty, “Don’t feel guilty about taking a retreat from Trump,” America

A good time for comebacks

It somehow seemed appropriate to return to Mass on the feast of Corpus Christi (or the eve of Corpus Christi, as I attended the Saturday vigil Mass). Our parish, under guidance from the archdiocese, began offering Sunday Mass last weekend, but I didn’t feel ready to return then. But it was time this weekend.

Started out my Saturday afternoon at church in a makeshift confessional, set up in the parish cry room, I guess to allow for easier disinfecting after each confession. After four months in an inert spiritual state, it felt good to “get back on the wagon,” as the priest put it, and start fresh with God’s grace.

I was allowed to stay for the 5 p.m. Mass, and that gave me a half-hour to sit and realize how much I missed being in church. I also realized how much I need a more breathable mask.

The experience wasn’t ideal in a few respects: I couldn’t really hear the priest well, I forgot to wear the beret headcovering I use in church, I forgot to bow before receiving, and I received in the hand (like the archdiocesan rules said I had to) when it turned out that plenty of people were able to receive at the communion rail on the tongue, as I prefer. I felt out of practice. But I was still glad to be back.

The Sunday obligation remains suspended in our archdiocese, but I’m going to try to keep going – and I might even try to hit a weekday Mass here and there. In the meantime, I’m not going to take F with me until the obligation is in place again and the pandemic rules are relaxed a bit. And then I have to set up time with the pastor to see when she can begin receiving the Eucharist.

F and I have been using “Celebration of the Word” handouts and her new subscription of Magnifikids! from Magnificat magazine each Sunday morning to read through the Liturgy of the Word, pray, and learn a bit about feasts and other things that I thought she learned in her Episcopal Catechesis of the Good Shepherd lessons (but didn’t!). She seems to be connecting with this Sunday time more than she tended to at services in our old Episcopal parish, so I’m in no hurry to stop it.

It’s been a good weekend to contemplate God and start over with Him. Deeply grateful.

Hunkering down this weekend to make sense of the world with Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and the Psalms. My brain needs a little peace right now.

Very happy to see this statement on the death of George Floyd from top leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including Auxiliary Bp. Joseph Perry of Chicago, one of the highest-ranking African-Americans in the Church.

For what it’s worth, Bp. Perry is one of my favorite church leaders. He’s a liturgical traditionalist and a fine advocate for African-Americans in the Church. My everyday rosary was blessed by him at St. John Cantius parish in Chicago about two decades ago. God bless him.

I can’t stomach Catholic social media right now. Too many people getting on the “open our churches immediately” bandwagon. Hey, I miss Mass and adoration chapels as much as the next observant Catholic, but the anger behind so much of the new clamor is disconcerting.

That anger: Is it driven by a desire for spiritual sustenance or rage over being inconvenienced by a pandemic you don’t necessarily care about or believe? All it does is drive people away from the God you say you worship.

God bless this nun who’s just trying to keep our Lord’s spot tidy during live-streamed Adoration from her convent.

Outside of YouTube and a printout of the Liturgy of the Word, this is as close as I got to Mass today.

The work station doubles this morning as a focal point for the Mass readings and morning prayer. (And I found a shard of old palm that we hadn’t brought to the parish for Ash Wednesday.)

I forgot that Palm Sunday means the lengthy Passion reading; forgive me, God, for going with the shorter version this morning.

So delighted to see my Roman Catholic parish offering video of Sunday Mass now. (It’s offered in Spanish as well.)

(Camera work still needs finessing, but this is Holy Mass, not a Scorsese movie. Works for me.)

From @millinerd in The New York Times (!) on this Feast of the Annunciation: “God became human once, for all, in the womb of Mary. Then, through the Eucharist, he enters human bodies over and over for as long as time endures.”

My Ten: Favorite things I can't live without

I’m a sucker for a light regular feature. The New York Times’ Sunday Routine is an example of this: a weekly feature that profiles New Yorkers and how they spend their Sundays. The Times also puts together an irregular feature, My Ten, that asks celebrities about the 10 favorite things they can’t live without. It’s not an original concept; I’ve seen it in other places, usually as an excuse to work in overpriced merchandise links.

(My Ten is so irregular that it doesn’t have its own page yet; examples include lists from Questlove, David Chang, and Emma Thompson.)

I’ve been wanting to write a Sunday Routine of my own for a while, but it takes time for me to figure out. (Besides, if I wrote one now, it’d be basically a whole lot of sitting around steeped in cabin fever and chronic anxiety.) Right now, a My Ten is easier to slap together.

PEPPERMINT GREEN AND “TURMERIC BLISS” TEAS. I can’t drink coffee as much as I used to, but I still need my caffeine fix. I’ve largely weaned myself off diet soda (except for the occasional diet root beer, which isn’t usually caffeinated, or diet Cheerwine, which is), and I wanted something relatively healthy. So, I found myself turning to tea. I started with peppermint tea, which is not caffeinated, but found several green tea blends with peppermint for my caffeine; Traditional Medicinals and local retailer Nuovo Tea produce my favorites.

I also get my favorite turmeric blend, Turmeric Bliss, from Nuovo (the blend is actually produced by Adagio Teas, not to be confused with a Tazo Tea product with the same name): turmeric combined with ginger, peppercorn, mango, apple, and other fruit and floral ingredients. I credit my daily two cups of this turmeric blend with helping me break my dependence on ibuprofen for pain management, and it’s become a tasty way to wind down my day after dinner.

PILOT G2 PENS, BLACK BOLD (1.0). Austin Kleon turned me onto these. I used the 0.7 fine point version of the G2 for a while, but I find the bold tips much smoother to write with.

INDEX CARDS. I carry around a small Field Notes-type notebook, but I rarely use it for reasons I can’t quite explain. I also carry around index cards (usually of the 4-by-6-inch variety), usually in a small plastic holder intended for photos, that I do use for lists, doodling, and notes; they especially come in handy when I need to give my tween something to draw on during Mass.

MAGNIFICAT and HANDBOOK OF PRAYERS. As I’ve been in Catholic re-entry mode over the past year and still haven’t fully memorized the order of the Mass (I still stumble over the “consubstantial” thing in the Nicene Creed), having the Magnificat to follow along with has been absolutely essential. Paired with my monthly Magnificat, the Handbook of Prayers – produced by Midwest Theological Forum – complements it perfectly with a robust set of prayers and practices, including Marian devotions, the Stations of the Cross, and a good confession guide.

WORKS BY ST. JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA. St. Josemaria’s three books of maxims – The Way, Furrow, and The Forge – provide me with inspiration and encouragement in my spiritual life.

ROSARY. I think the red glass-beaded rosary I carry around was a freebie from one of the numerous Catholic orders or charities that received donations from my mom when I was growing up. But for a freebie, it’s been pretty durable. More importantly, Bp. Joseph Perry kindly blessed it for me when I asked years ago after a Tridentine Mass at St. John Cantius parish in Chicago. It’s been a constant companion the past few years.

“WAIT WAIT … DON’T TELL ME.” I wake up early on Saturdays to listen to the first airings of this NPR news quiz program on the Internet, then download the podcast to listen to it during the week. Some shows are better than others; I’m a little weary of the new hit-or-miss (mostly miss in recent months) panelists that it’s been rotating into the show in recent years, and I miss original panelists like Charlie Pierce and Sue Ellicott. But “Wait Wait” is still a huge part of my weekends.

“LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT.” Colbert’s show is a tonic of sanity in the cultural and political hellscape of the past three years.

SPALDING BOOTLEG YOGA PANTS, BLACK. This $20 wardrobe essential of mine is no longer on Amazon, for some reason. (I just ordered a similar product, at the same price, and I’m crossing my fingers that it’s wearable.) I was smart enough to buy two pairs, but I wish I had ordered more when I had the chance. It’s the closest I get to a uniform item a la Steve Jobs’ turtleneck, especially now that I’m working from home full-time. Comfy and durable.

CROCHET BERETS. This item has become another essential part of my daily uniform. I started wearing these as a head covering for church (chapel veils don’t work on me), and ended up wearing them to work and anytime I had to go out. My hair has been thinning for years, to the point where no amount of gel, volumizer, or other “product” will make a difference in covering bare scalp. These are light enough to wear in warm weather, work in casual contexts, and can class up an otherwise blah outfit.

Social distancing? A cloistered Franciscan nun has advice for that.

Followed along with the vigil Mass live-streamed this afternoon from Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. I may be better focused when I pray with a radio Mass and read the Liturgy of the Word with F tomorrow morning.

Sigh. It’s gonna be a long plague.

An abundance of caution

At the moment, we are a two-parish family living among three dioceses: I attend Roman Catholic Mass in the Archdiocese of Chicago, I take my daughter to an Episcopal Diocese of Chicago parish where she is able to receive Communion, and we live within the boundaries of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet.

As of this writing, the Chicago archdiocese has suspended public Masses until further notice; our Episcopal parish reportedly is canceling services over the next three Sundays, and the Joliet Catholic diocese is suspending public Masses this weekend. So, I have Saturday afternoon off (I attend the vigil Mass at my Roman Catholic parish) and get to sleep in Sunday. There is always spiritual Communion, yes, but I’d rather be at church.

Meanwhile, we just learned that the middle schooler is getting an extra week of spring break starting next week; when she returns to school, she will be doing the e-learning thing for at least a week. I actually had to pick her up from the bus stop (which is barely a block from our house) because she had to lug her school-issued Chromebook AND a big bag of stuff out of her locker in addition to her backpack (with a zipper that broke today) and lunch bag.

And then, as mentioned before, I’m under orders to work from home.

I’m not really liking this New Normal business.

I have desperately, and seriously, been trying to give up schadenfreude for Lent. But given the news of late, I am failing miserably.

On the Catholic blog: St. Ephraim, Schmemann, and Lent. Shout-out to my Orthodox friends as Great Lent is under way for them.

So, I guess this means I need to receive the Eucharist in the hand for the time being?

“Dispelling myths about friars (no, they’re not like cloistered monks) was a bonus to his primary goal of becoming a better baker, as far as Corriente was concerned.”

“… a Lenten fast is not meant to be something belabored or even shown to the outside world. It is a vastly personal endeavor that is almost like a conversation between the oneself and the Father.”

On the Catholic blog: A widowed friend finds “acknowledgement and rest” in the crucified Jesus. Find more at rosa-mystica.cc.

C and I were recounting a visit to a Catholic shrine in Paris that I barely remembered, though there was a saint there in a clear casket.

The husband, a lapsed Methodist, recalled more than I did. How? I asked. He looked at me, dumbfounded.

“THERE WAS A DEAD LADY IN A BOX!”

There was a guest at Mass this morning. The priest felt compelled to insist that it wasn’t the Holy Spirit, but was in fact just a bird.

On the Catholic blog: Memento mori, friends.

In other news, you’ll find random theological quotes and an occasional observation of my own at my commonplace book project, Rosa Mystica, now no longer in soft-launch mode.

Fascinating piece here on the debate over female deacons in the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy’s “pretty fierce division” on the matter, and how the issue could either draw the churches closer or further separate them.