Tag Archives: parish life

Prayers of the People

I try to keep a positive attitude at mass, and I’m pretty much able to do that.  The only exception, at least in my current parish, is the petitions or “prayers of the people”.

Too often they turn into either little exhortations on the issue of the day, or a kind of substitute announcement.  An example of both of these rolled into one petition(!) would be:  “For all those suffering due to abusive practices of mining companies, who pollute the ground waters in [country x] with illegal dumping of [chemical y], for which there will be a meeting of the parish’s development and peace group on Monday at 7 pm, we pray to the Lord.”


First of all, the Lord knows when the meeting is.  We don’t need to include it in the prayer.  And the Lord knows about company x and chemical y.  Can we not just pray for the suffering of the world?

George Weigel has an excellent column in the Denver Catholic Register, suggesting that at least at some masses, the petitions be routinized.  His formula goes like this:

For the holy Church of God throughout the world, let us pray to the Lord.

For Benedict, Bishop of Rome, and the bishops in communion with him, let us pray to the Lord.

For this local Church of [name of diocese], for [name of bishop], its chief shepherd, and for the priests and deacons of [name of diocese], let us pray to the Lord.

For this parish of [patron of other name], its pastors and its people, let us pray to the Lord.

For an abundance of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life, let us pray to the Lord.

For the unity of all Christians, for the relief of those suffering persecution for their Christian faith, and for the conversion of their persecutors, let us pray to the Lord.

For the civil authorities, that we may be governed in justice and truth, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who are sick, and for all those with special needs, let us pray to the Lord.

For our beloved dead, let us pray to the Lord.

That, I suggest, covers the most important bases. Such a scheme also locates the local parish within the broader Christian community of the diocese, and locates the diocese within the ambit of the universal Church: facts about which Catholics in America often need reminding. And such a formulaic schema avoids politics while making clear that we should pray regularly that the politicos recognize both the responsibilities and limits of their power.

We pray to the Lord.

Random musings on the single life.

Not mine.  I haven’t been in that state for 26+ years.

But singleness, the vocation to the single life, and where singles “fit” have been in my mind recently.

This morning, I listened to a podcast from the BBC’s Thinking Allowed program.  It was the December 9th edition, and discussed the increase in the number of people living alone in the UK.  For women, there was a sense that singleness was somehow a “lesser” state.  One of the discussants, Dr. Jan Macvarish (University of Kent, Canterbury) did a qualitative study of a small sample of single women (What is “the problem” of singleness?Sociological Research Online, Volume 11, Issue 3 ).  From paragraph 1.32:

One [study subject], who had been married for a short period more than two decades earlier, while in her early twenties, confessed that she sometimes used ‘divorced’ rather than ‘single’ to describe herself, to convey a ‘sense that she had a history’. This seemed to be motivated by concerns of self-presentation. However, she was also dissatisfied with being single and recounted how, in other circumstances, she would describe herself as ‘single at the moment’ because she does ‘not like to think of her singleness as a permanent thing’.

In the abstract to another paper (Intimacy in the 21st Century:  The Negotiation of Divergent Rationalities), Macvarish writes

In the context of weakened shared meanings of love, commitment, partnership and children, the affirmation of the identity of the ‘successful single’ and the endorsement of the individual who protects the self before risking the vagaries of intimate interactions with others, are relatively strengthened. In rationalising their singleness, the interviewees were able to draw upon many culturally affirmed claims, such as the inadequacy of men, the unpredictability of relationships and the burden of children. Such claims seemed to be both culturally prevalent and powerful relative to more nebulous, individualised and partial desires for relationships. The interviews revealed that singleness may rarely be experienced as a choice and that there are limits to the capacity of the ‘single lifestyle’ to provide a valued and fulfilling sense of self and social identity.

Nowhere in the discussion was there any allusion to the concept of singleness by choice:  of a vocation to the single life.  That people who live the single life simply “give up hope”.

The second place where this came up was at an executive meeting of the women’s group in our parish.  There had been some feedback given to the President that an event to which we had invited members of the organization and their families was excluding single members.  Apparently, a few (one or two?) ladies did not have any family and so could not bring anyone.   This event was a pot luck lunch after a brief ceremony for the membership, which was held after a Sunday mass.  The lunch was arranged to accommodate those who would be coming to mass with their families, and it was our last meeting before Christmas.  It was a wonderful event, with people of all ages, with lots of fellowship.

So, now we find ourselves stepping lightly around our planned Valentine’s Day blessing and wine and cheese  event for couples after a Saturday mass next month.  In the meeting, I stated that our organization has, in it’s statement of objectives, the mission to “exemplify the Christian ideal in home and family life” and that we are called to support marriage and family in any way we can.  We are organizing other events that will be for ladies of all ages (a High Tea) and people of all vocations over age 19 (a pub/karaoke night).

Have we become such a politically correct society that we cannot address the needs of one group without alienating others?


Finally, on a happier note, Catholic writer (and blogger) Dorothy Cummings’ book Seraphic Singles: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Single Life  is due out March 1, 2010.   It’s a humorous look at the single life, sort of The Rules with a Catholic bent. Even though I’m not in the target audience, I’ll be picking up a copy!  I enjoy both her blogs.  She’s a devout Catholic with a terrific sense of humour.  We’re not that rare!

Sunday Choral Report – Baptism of the Lord

Back on our regular choir schedule this week, with practice at 10 am before we sing at the 11:30 mass.  Today’s lineup included a traditional American hymn from the shape-note singing tradition called Wondrous Love, and the exquisitely beautiful piece To Thee O Lord by Rachmaninoff.

Processional:  When Jesus Comes to be Baptised (CBW3 – 350)

Sprinkling:  Come to the Water (Glory and Praise 52)
Offertory:  Wondrous Love (Traditional American)
Communion:  To Thee O Lord (Rachmaninoff; text A.M. Henderson)
Recessional:  Songs of Thankfulness and Praise (CBW3 – 348)

After mass, I grabbed a quick lunch and headed over to my SILs place to help her out with the children (4,2 and 4.5 months) while my brother is out of town.  We took them on the subway to the ROM to see the dinosaurs and also dropped by the Schad Gallery of Biodiversity which is wonderful.  Even though I’m a member, I’d never been in that gallery before and very much enjoyed it.  We returned to their place, grabbed a quick dinner, and popped the very tired boys into bed before I headed home.


And now I’m off to throw some ingredients into the bread maker and then gonna pop myself into bed!

Seven Quick Takes Friday


  1. My sister and her family are coming from Ottawa to meet our new niece.  They’ll arrive this after noon and stay until Monday.  While they’re here, we’ll have a party for new niece’s older brother who turns four in a couple of weeks.  So today I’m cleaning and shopping and making beds!

  2. It’s been cool these past couple of weeks, just the way I like it.  Hovering above freezing during the day, but lots of sun.  It’s great weather for my stage of life and it makes me feel energized.  My mom was a little concerned about me just wearing a light leather jacket out every day, but understood about the internal heat generation that’s been going on.

  3. I’m trying out some contact lenses; must be that mid-life crisis thing again.  I went for a regular eye exam yesterday and came out sporting contacts and a new pair of over-the-counter reading glasses (bright red!).  I wore them for about four hours yesterday and will try for five today.  Dr. Tang, my wonderful optometrist, gave me two mono-vision lenses, left eye optimized for distance and right eye optimized for reading.  The reading is not great yet, but maybe my brain has to be trained for that.

  4. Just got tickets for Fiddler on the Roof, another Mirvish production opening shortly in Toronto.  I’m taking my mother there for Christmas and am really looking forward to it.  She’ll be in town for the holidays and it will be a fun outing that I know she will enjoy.

  5. I can’t say enough about this Gary Taubes book I’m reading: Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health

    . I got it from the library after watching him give a lecture (in a video) and now I’ve added it to my Christmas wish list

    .  I’ll post at length about it in the future, but it’s refuting a lot of conventional wisdom about diet, is compelling and thoughtful, not sensational at all.  I will definitely be making some significant dietary changes, mainly cutting out refined carbohydrates.  I highly recommend this as required reading for anyone concerned about their health and the nutritional foundations.

  6. I have most of my out-of-town shopping done and am caught up on all the birthday shopping from the past few months.  I know what I’m getting for everyone remaining, and that’s the biggest hurdle.  My mother-in-law is arriving for a month on Monday and I want to be able to have a peaceful and relaxing time while she’s here, and enjoy the Advent season.

  7. This Sunday after the main mass, the chapter of the Catholic Women’s League that has been newly re-established in our parish will be installed and blessed.  I’m on the executive, and it’s great to see our efforts coming to fruition in this formal acknowledgement of our chapter status.  We’re having a potluck lunch afterwards for members and their families, and I have signed up to bring bottled water, 6 dozen rolls, and butter.  The busy woman’s offering!

More Seven Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary today!

Sunday Choral Report – Christ the King

It’s hard to believe that we’ve hit the last Sunday in the liturgical year, and that Advent starts next week.  For Christ the King, we had a couple of rousing hymns:  To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King (CBW3-438) and Crown Him with Many Crowns (CBW3-437) as processional and recessional respectively, and were joined by a guest trumpeter.

During the offertory, we sang Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace by Samuel Sebastian Wesley.  (Here’s a version from YouTube).  During Communion, we sang Teach Me, O Lord by Gordon Young.

Homilist and celebrant today was Fr. John Reddy from Saint Michaels College School and he was excellent, on topic, by the book, coherent, and kindly.

Remember Not, Lord, Our Offences….

…aka The Sunday Choral Report.

This morning was not the choir’s finest hour.

It was all good in rehearsal.  Is that the sign of doom?

The processional was Praise My Soul the King of Heaven with “updated” words, thanks to the Catholic Book of Worship III.  Heavens – am I turning into an old fogie?  This is one of the most gorgeous hymns evah.  I sang it often in my Presbyterian days…it’s one of those hymns that rests in your heart and head, and when you have to sing it with castrated text, it’s just wrong.  Here is the original text.

Moving on.

We prepared Remember Not, Lord, Our Offences by Purcell for the Offertory.  Now, we were short altos this morning, and our soloist-slash-strong singer was away sick.  The work had a split soprano part and so one of the altos moved over to sing Soprano II mid-way through rehearsal.  The remaining two of us were fine.  But when we got up into the loft, and stood in our positions in a semi-circle around the organ, next to people we weren’t next to in rehearsal, in a room where the sound is completely different….  It kinda fell apart in the middle, and then reconvened to bring us home.  It’s a gorgeous piece.  You can go here to listen to the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge.  The text:

Remember not, Lord, our offences, nor the offences of our forefathers;  neither take thou vengeance of our sins:  spare us, good Lord, spare thy people,whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood, and be not angry with us for ever.  Spare us, good Lord.

The Communion hymn was To Thee O Lord by Rachmaninoff.  It was fine, quite lovely in fact.  And we took them out with Tell Out My Soul, a camp favorite from the summers of my youth.

Good Friday

Another quiet and moving liturgy today.  Entering the church to the empty tabernacle never ceases to take me aback, and this afternoon was no different.  The silent procession and the prostration of the priest and deacon are also very emotional moments.

St John’s Passion Narrative was read and the choir sang the crowd responses.  An unaccompanied soloist sang the spiritual Were You There while the offering was collected.  This was followed by congregational singing of O Sacred Head, Surrounded, one of my favourite hymns that regularly brings me to tears.

During communion, the choir sang When David Heard by Thomas Tomkins, an achingly beautiful piece that was somewhat under-rehearsed (and showed it).  Check out this YouTube version. Warning:  there are some heartbreaking images as you get in to the video.  The text of the piece is roughly 

When David heard that Absalom was slain, 
He went up to his chamber over the gate and wept; and thus he said:  
Oh my son, Absalom my son.  
Would God I had died for thee.

The liturgy ended with veneration of the cross while the choir sang The Old Rugged Cross.

Sunday Choral Report

Processional:  O Praise the Lord (CBW3 – 593)

Offertory:  A Wondrous Love (American Traditional – from Sacred Harp 159)
Communion:  Gustate et Videte (Heinrich Isaac) 
Recessional:  Tell Out My Soul (CBW3 – 575)

Singing A Wondrous Love took me back to a Shape Note Singing workshop I did many years ago when Village Harmony visited our church in Ottawa.  Here’s a version of the song done by a group of American shape note singers.

I would love to attend a singing somewhere in Toronto, if I can find one!

Sunday Choral Report

I’m back in the choral saddle, so to speak, after a week out of town and a week of sickness.  Yesterday was the dress rehearsal for the Aradia Ensemble concert in which I am participating this afternoon.  I am in the chorus for Vivaldi’s Gloria, that is being performed with a small group of (period) instruments and about 20 voices.

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent.  Our celebrant was, I think, in rose.  It was somewhere between liturgical purple and red.  But not the pepto bismol pink that is typical in churches that play by the book.  So I’m really not sure if it was rose after all.
Processional:  No actual procession.  Celebrant was in his seat with lights down.  We sang The Canticle of Mary (CBW3, 14I) as the opening hymn, while lights came up.
Offertory:  Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to the Virgin.  This is a gorgeous piece that should be done with two choirs.  We had two altos and two tenors today, so it was a little light, but it sounded beautiful, better than any of our run-throughs in rehearsal.
Communion:  Rorate Coeli (Gregorian Chant).  This was written in chant notation, the first time I have sung from this type of manuscript.  Here is a video clip of this chant.

Recessional:  Tell Out My Soul (CBW3, 575).  I had never noticed that this hymn is based on the Magnificat.