Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! This weekend my brother-in-law was confirmed into the Church, so we went to see him at Kansas, where he is a student. It was my first trip to that state and the campus seemed pretty nice - not unlike most other college campuses, but, surprisingly to me, hilly. The Catholic church on campus, St. Lawrence, was pretty stripped down, but it did have good artwork, a lovely organ, and important details such as, you know, having the tabernacle in the right place. It also had a hymnal I haven't seen before - the St. Michael Hymnal - which, while unfortunately retaining a few Haugen classics like "On Eagle's Wings" - mercifully kept those to a minimum and actually seemed very solid.* Quite a few chants were included, and several hymns were older Latin ones. It's great to have the options - sometimes I think that efforts to reform ordinary parishes are hampered just by the tools they have (you can't sing the Sanctus in any traditional settings, even if you want to, if the ubiquitous "Breaking Bread" doesn't even have it). The prayers for Stations were much better than those I've seen in recent years - no focus on how I'm feeling and what I'm doing, but rather almost entirely composed of Scripture and petition prayers. Following up on the strong musical and prayerful indicators here, Saturday's Vigil was absolutely beautiful. The choir and organist were amazing. I got a bit emotional both with joy at the power and beauty of the "Sicut cervus desiderat" (Psalm 42) in particular - and sadness at the fact that so many, many churches in this country are so far away from it. It was also unusual in that the seminarian, who is being ordained in just a few months, sang the entire introductory part of the Mass and the gospel as well. I usually only ever see that on EWTN with the Vatican Masses. He said afterwards that he is learning the Extraordinary Form but he is excited to be a part of the new generation of clergy that is truly restoring reverence to the Ordinary Form as well. What a blessing to the Church!

My brother-in-law picked St. Thomas More as his confirmation saint. I've always liked his motto of "The King's servant, but God's first." It was fitting for someone who wants to go into government. It was a great thing to witness his confirmation and the baptisms in the quiet of the darkened church. Christ is risen!

*Their website says "We believe that it is very usable in a parish that would like, without moving precipitously, to reclaim and restore some of the traditional music of the Church." So for the liberal parishes resisting traditional music, it keeps some contemporary hymns in there, but the majority is more solid. Sounds a bit subversive! That works for me :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Irish day

This morning we headed out to the Sam's Club parking lot on Greenville and Park to "tailgate" for the St. Patrick's Day parade with the ND Club. Thanks to my sister the coordinator, the Club had a float with some food, t-shirts, plenty of ND-Irish decorations and beer. The staging area was next to the Hare Krishna float. (?) But we were clearly more Irish. It was so much fun to meet new people, including one family with 5 (and almost 6) six kids, another with an adorable baby boy, and a few transplant couples with kids out of the house (including a few working in D.C.). That was one thing I noticed, by the way - an awful lot of people are transplants here and a lot of people seemed to have lived in D.C. at some point. The other main place of origin seemed to be Chicago (well, with any ND Club that makes sense). I guess Texas is a pretty welcoming place.

The tailgating was so much fun, I wanted to watch a football game afterwards, but unfortunately, it's March. Instead, we jumped onto the flatbed and rode (near the back of the parade) a few miles down Greenville, throwing beads and dum-dums to all the parade-watchers. The route was pretty packed. It was a beautiful day and really a fun event. Yay to my sister for planning such a successful Club event!

Now that I somehow survived the bar exam, I feel like I am starting to settle in here (except for the bugs, who keep making unwelcome appearances - ugh, time to call the exterminators back). It's nice to have people to go to lunch with at work (and visit with during not-lunch times while the market's slow!). We're also starting to drive around and look at neighborhoods so we can find a house by end of summer/fall. I'm excited about the process but I'm trying to set myself up for compromise in terms of the house itself. The problem here is that my "Not So Big" houses, which I have loved ever since I read about the concept and could put words to why I hate two-story foyers, are actually not completely the stuff of future dreams here, but are available and in our relatively modest price range (like, $200,000 or less for a four-bedroom - inconceivable in D.C.) from certain builders. Walking through some of these models is fantastic - cozy spaces, good sight lines, open floorplans, spaces with multiple purposes. So it would all seem to be within reach! Oh, but the catch is, none of these is in the established school districts, and/or has much longer commute times. I may end up just being practical for the sake of the future family, and stay within the better school districts closer in - and get a completely uninspiring house. But we'll see...