Monday, December 27, 2010

A personal experience

I wanted to share a personal experience that happened to me back in 2007.

Back then, I was going through a dark time in my life. And I remember one day I was really feeling hopeless. I remember sitting at my desk in my room, and I was on the computer.

I was just sitting there feeling so lonely, and I think I honestly believed that God had abandoned me. It was 8:00ish, and the sun was going down, and then I had this strong urge to look out the window.

I got out of my chair, and I looked outside. And I saw this:
I saw a hand holding a cross. (There was no camera effect/photo editing to this picture)

If you look closely, you can see fingers.

Incase you are are unable to see it....

It was an amazing experience, and definitely will never forget it.

Music for the Soul- Part 2

In one of my last posts, I spoke of my personal views on Gregorian Chant. This one, will speak of the history.

Despite what people may think, Gregorian Chant did not start with Pope Gregory. I believe it started around the time of the apostles.

Christ and the apostles at the first celebration of the Most Holy Sacrament concluded therewith: “and a hymn being said, they went out unto mount Olivet.” Matthew 26:30.

It wasn't until after 100 AD Gregorian Chant really "took off".

Around 100 AD, St. Ignatius of Antioch had a vision.
It involved him seeing angels singing praise to the Trinity in alternating hymns. Three centuries later, the antiphon was formalized by St. Ambrose, who was the Bishop of Milan in 374 AD.

He was "instrumental in establishing the early theory of plainchant and took the first four authentic modes of chant. The faithful during their persecution by the Romans took comfort in the catacombs, through hopeful hymns like Te Deum sung in the antiphony style St. Ambrose taught."

You are probably wondering how St. Gregory the Great ties into Gregorian Chant.

"Pope Gregory is heavily associated with the history of plainchant, and he lends his name to a particular style of plainchant, Gregorian chanting. Gregory did not actually develop this plainchant style, but he codified it, standardizing it across the Christian world and establishing a system of musical notation which could be used to record plainchant melodies. Even as Gregorian chanting arose, however, other styles continued to be used, although Gregorian chanting is the official chant of the Roman Catholic Church."

"Gregory took part in many things. Writing, collecting, or organizing of the body
of plainchant in use at the time, as well founding the first singing school (Schola Cantorum) in Rome to train singers for the church, organizing the church's annual cycle of liturgical readings, and first establishing the church's authority over the secular rulers of Rome"

Gregory became the first monk to ascend the Papacy. It was him, that regulated worship and liturgy, appointed songs and hymns. With his great passion for music, he insisted that chant was played as background music for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. His hope was to assist others in their Catholic help them show reverence to God. As pope, he published "The Antiphonary" as the main core of Catholic authority on Chant. He was also the author of "Te Lucis" and "Rex Christe".

Back then, Gregorian Chant wasn't copied into books. Unfortunately, they used to have to memorize all the songs which took monks forever. Finally, they worked out a way to write music down. Once they figured that out, various words and notes were copied into one great large book, which was used by all the choir monks to sing from.

After many centuries plainchant became very complex, and many different forms of chant were born. It wasn't until the 19th century, that the monks (like Gregory the great) began seeking a single alternative method, which would reflect the early methods of how chant was sung.
"There's a famous monastery in France at Solesmes, and its monks became responsible for the restoration of Gregorian Chant as you hear it today - on CDs
and radio. They worked out a very artistic method of singing it and a new method of writing it down. They then produced books which contained the fruits of their scholarship. Their theories were adopted by monasteries throughout the world. "
So, this is why I enjoy Gregorian Chant. I find a lot of history behind it.
I think it's sad that it's not used in Mass anymore, really. (Unless you attend a Latin Mass).
For a while now, I have had this urdge to become an activist within the Church. Someone that pushes tradition. I call everyone to this. Just pray. Talk with your priest about your ideas.
My idea is getting Gregorian Chant back.
Things will never change if we just stand by and watch.
We have to put our foot down and say: "Hey, you know what? I think you guys should get a Gregorian Chant choir for Mass." Defend your case of why you feel the way you do.

And now for one of my favorite chant songs:

Christ is the Lord!

I'm late, but...
Merry Christmas, everyone!
I know it's been forever since I have written, and I apologize. This year has been crazy, especially the last few months with prepping for the Holidays/birthdays. I got a job last month at at a local restaurant, and so that has kept me busy. I am thankful for this job, because it is difficult.

I try to strive to live by the motto: "Ora Et Labora". (Pray and work).

I may be bussing tables, and I might be tired, but I'll put that feeling aside, and I'll offer it up. I'll pray 3 hail mary's constantly throughout the day, asking Mary for graces if I'm ever feeling frustrated. I've found work to be a very spiritual experiece...that is...if you MAKE it one. Our Faith involves work, itself. :)

Anyway, I wanted to talk about Christmas.

I woke up Christmas morning, and the first thing I wanted to do was listen to my favorite Christmas song: "O Holy Night". I came across a beautiful version on Youtube that everyone should listen to:

As I was listening to it, I seemed to enter a world of pure bliss. One of the lines hit me:

"With all our hearts we praise His holy name..."

What does this mean to everyone? It literally means to praise God with all our heart.
But, I found this to be bittersweet. I began contemplating of those who don't "praise" Him. At least, not with their heart. How many people go to Mass, because they are supposed to? We should go to Mass because we want to. To praise God is to honor Him, pray to Him, thank Him, love Him and adore Him unceasingly. When we leave Mass, the words: "Go, and serve the Lord" don't seem to be taken seriously by many people. If you want to praise God, with all your heart, then you would strive to do this. One of our problems is we say we love God too often, but at the same time we're too choosy. "I love you, God" is easy to say when we're at a retreat, when all is right in the world, when we're at Mass. But aren't we supposed to love and sing praise to God even when all is wrong? Aren't we supposed to trust in Him? Christ's birth teaches one thing: That HE is the light of the world. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He brings renewal.

When we are lost, He is the way.
When we are faced with Satan's lies, He is the truth.
When are souls are yearning for something more, He is the life.
And He makes all things new.

He is everything. This why we should praise Him forevermore. Not just on Sundays. Not just on days where things are going great. But everyday, because CHRIST IS THE LORD.
God made the sacrifice by sending down His only begotton son to die on the cross for us.

This is what true love is. True love is sacrifice. As Faithful Christians, we will be faced with suffering and many strugles. But, we are faced with a choice of how to take these hardships.
Will we walk with Christ in them? Or will we cease to praise Him?

One sad thing about Christmas is that people get caught up in baking, buying presents, decorating etc. And while all of that is fine, we have to remember that advent is like the second Lent. It is a time we should really focus on Christ. We should be meditating on His coming.

This, in itself, should grant us peace. If you asked Jesus what He wanted for Christmas, I have no doubt in my mind that He would say: "You."

St. Paul tells us to be dead to sin, and to be alive in Christ. In order to do this we simply must become prayer warriors. Our souls must rest in Him.
Christmas is a time of rebirth, and I truly do believe that if our souls rest in Christ our Savior..we will experience some sort of "rebirth". It will be Christ living within us.

This can't happen though, if we don't praise Him. Like I said before, Faith is work.We must make an effort to attend Mass, take part in the sacraments frequently, go to adoration, and take time for meditation (scripture reading, maybe).

So, this Christmas season, think of how you can please God. Give Him the gift of self.
What can you do to praise Him? Can you pray more? Attend Mass more?
Give Him time. If you start off with 10 minutes of prayer a day, I have doubt in my mind that this will eventually increase. It becomes a beautiful habit. And with this habit, we really are giving ourselves to Christ, because we are offering our time to Him. That's all He wants.....


we are filled with the new light by the coming of your Word among us.
May the light of Faith shine in our words and actions. Grant this through
our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.