Exercises in Spontaneity

As if affirming my recent articulation-to-self regarding my need to rediscover and [re]grow my capacity for spontaneity [within order], I was prompted to take a very sudden road trip to St. Louis. When I say “very sudden,” I mean that I made the decision to go at about 1230 on Sunday, shortly after we exited Annunciation’s parking lot, then packed and left within half an hour of arriving back at home after a lovely Easter lunch at WG Kitchen & Bar with the fam.

Work prevented me from joining my family in St. Louis the first weekend of Lent, just before Mama and Papa left for the Philippines. And so it was that on Ash Wednesday, poor Mum and Kuya Marty both attempted to shake some prayerful and sensible resignation into a crying Ais, cranky with anger at both work and self. But this Lent was definitely Lent… and it all came crashing down when Mum told me, at the beginning of Holy Week, that Mama and Papa were not home yet – they were supposed to be home on 3/28 –  because of completely unexpected health issues that necessitated hospital time and x-rays and CAT scans and the whole horrible nine yards.

When Mum told me on Easter Sunday that they were finally back, I looked at my work schedule, thanked God that Steve had let the choir off on Tuesday night, and decided that all other obligations on both Monday and most of Wednesday could be dropped. I vaguely remember Dad saying something about my car not having had its post-winter checkup yet, but I guess he and Mum figured out pretty quickly that there was no talking me out of it – thanks Mom & Dad – and I got to St. Louis at about 0845pm there. They weren’t expecting me until much later, but, being single and intentional, a ten-minute stop for gas and snacks was my only deviation.

Mama cried when she saw me, which made me cry, and so we just sat there for a bit and had a very good cry together. Plus hugs.

And that was Easter Sunday.

Monday and Tuesday were spent grocery shopping, hospital checkup-ing, cooking, eating, blogging, napping, music-making, crazy dancing, praying, and lots and lots of chit-chatting. One of the super-cool things that Mama shared with me was her [pre-Vatican II] Marian Missal, pictured below.

Mama's Missal
Mama’s Missal

It’s very different, visiting Mama and Papa all by myself. I could be blanking terribly, but I think the last time I got to spend any just-me-and-them time was nung umuwi kami ng ’06 for my fifteenth birthday. And before that, I probably hadn’t been alone with them since they used to babysit me while Mom and Dad [and Paco] went on their business trips. Hindi naman unusual for Papa to start telling stories, and for me to sit back in wonder and awe at his long memory, but on this trip, it was Mama’s turn for stories, and she had a few that hit me pretty hard. When one sees one’s grandparents [and parents, and aunts and uncles, etc.] boasting near-50 years of marriage, it’s often hard to remember and to imagine that there must have been all the usual hoping and longing and waiting and uncertainty and heartache and heartbreak of teens and twenties, somewhere in their past. I’ve heard Mum’s stories, of course, and wondered exceedingly at the parallelisms that have popped up. Now I’ve heard Mama’s, and it strikes me as incredibly sad in many ways that Mama and Papa have countless stories that I’ll never hear, quite simply because my own life events have the potential to trigger only so much of their memory-sharing. The last story that I recall evoking such poignant feelings – and tears – was Mom’s story of Lolo’s lips turning blue from the cold and lack of oxygen, as he carried bags of canned goods from the grocery store to send home to the kids. Just as it says in John 21:25, “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written,” there is so much in the histories of our own respective domestic churches, stories of so many miracles and so many sacrifices, and of the sanctification of ordinary daily life, that will never be passed on beyond one or two generations… My only hope and comfort is that we might one day indeed be blessed to know it all, if we persevere and reach heaven and come to know all things in Christ.

Ninang Joy came over on Monday, and she brought Alfie and Ana. Alfie’s a teenager!!! and he’s tall!!! There’s always something so august about running into the big people that you remember holding as babes. Ana’s as beautiful as ever, and so lambing.

Teenage Alfie!
Teenage Alfie!

So one of the more epic-ly spontaneous things that I’ve done since my 7-year anniversary of my Consecration was to volunteer to co-head the committee for the 2016 Catholic YA Square Dance.

Yes, I’m crazy.

I am completely convinced that I am crazy, because I left the square dance on the 28th in this oh-my-God-I-was-born-for this high.

Maybe I should back up.

The 4th Annual Catholic YA Square Dance took place at St. Max [for the second year in a row] on Saturday, March 28, and I was happy to be kinda sorta back on the committee for it and volunteering where I was able. Being on that post-reConsecration high, I danced myself something silly. Easily the most ridiculous part was doing some hyper insane jumpy dance thing with Mike for the quite literally the entire duration of Shake It Off, curls bouncing in that way that makes Ninong laugh hysterically and Marty shake his head, promptly dropping to the cold gym floor once the song was over… and then, on my way to get a drink, telling all passing friends that I desperately needed to go out and get some air, mister no-footwork, strictly-dips-and-spins Matt, grabs my [good] hand and starts dipping and spinning me. Now, granted, I’m a spinner, as was easily determined by my second summer of ballroom dancing in Michigan, but I was about as breathless as I’ve ever been in my entire life. I can only think of two comparable situations: 1st Dan testing in 2007, and Level III testing last year. Well, God granted me the grace to take it, and then the Holy Spirit inspired Matt to drop me halfway through the song and grab Jen. I still didn’t make it outside, however, as whatever the public saw only led to Wayne demanding an explanation as to why, with my apparent energy level, I was not on his team for the Flying Pig.


Fast-forwarding a bit, past all the hyper jumpy dancey things with Mike [and Bobby! Bobby’s one for jumping around, too!!!!], all the sane and comfortable line- and square-dancing, and finally, watching Jen totally kill Party in the USA – she’s a boss – I had gotten around to talking to a good number of both old committee members and new interests, and when Finck put himself forward to co-head the committee for the Spring dance with me – well. That was that. I certainly would not have done it without his backing.

Consequently, some fifty-one emails, several phone calls, and countless text messages have been exchanged between our awesomely solid committee members. A dance for late Summer/early Fall is in the works, as well as another Benefit Concert with Easter Rising, and the Spring dance. And as if He was looking to affirm my desire to use the Spring dance to target the college crowd, in an attempt to take Anthony Esolen very seriously, Marie shared the original dance mission statement with all of us:

1. Raising awareness of vocations around the Archdiocese
2. Raising money to support the seminarian formation
3. Helping young adults find support/connections within the Church
4. Provide an opportunity for good, clean, family-friendly fun!

I cannot begin to express my joy at these developments. God is so good.

On Palm Sunday, for Palm Sunday purposes but also a belated birthday celebration for myself, I finally managed to get my family out to Hofbrauhaus! and we met up with the Wurths there for lunch immediately after Mass. Yena and Mum and I also went to watch Cinderella, and that is officially my favorite remake-of-a-Disney-movie ever. (TANGENT. Mental note to self that now I feel like watching Maleficent again.) The whole movie reminded me very much of one chapter in Arms of Love that was simply full of daily, ordinary decisions to respond to things positively or negatively.

We have officially moved Women’s Group from Liette’s house to Domus Dominae. The women were so sweet and had birthday red velvet cupcakes for me and Liette! I am also now officially addicted to Bengal Spice tea. And just to be completely clear, that has absolutely nothing to do with football and everything to do with cinnamon.

It’s the first time that I’ve celebrated Holy Week on entirely my own schedule. As I had to work on Holy Thursday, I was led to do my Visita Iglesia on Spy Wednesday.

St. Ignatius
St. Ignatius
St. Ignatius
St. Ignatius
Old St. Mary's
Old St. Mary’s
Old St. Mary's
Old St. Mary’s
Old St. Mary's
Old St. Mary’s
Old St. Mary's
Old St. Mary’s
Holy Cross Immaculata
Holy Cross Immaculata
Holy Cross Immaculata
Holy Cross Immaculata
Holy Cross Immaculata
Holy Cross Immaculata
Holy Cross Immaculata
Holy Cross Immaculata
St. Louis
St. Louis
Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center
Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center
Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center
Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center

Mom and Dad have tried to teach us about the tradition of the Visita Iglesia, but I never really appreciated it until I did it for myself. I was able to keep all, both the major and minor hours, of the Liturgy of the Hours, and as I could not do my pilgrimage on foot, I attempted to compensate by leaving food for after the sixth church. I spent my midafternoon learning Behold the Cross on the fly for Good Friday. Upon being “summoned by the Arlinghaus,” as Rose so affectionately put it, Marty drove Patrick, Ian, and myself to St. Peter in Chains, which I counted as my seventh stop, for Tenebrae. It seemed to me very fitting that we ended up sitting with the seminarians.

I have no words for Tenebrae; I never do.

I blame the words; they’re far too thin.

After Tenebrae, we ended up at Domus Damascus, and enjoyed my birthday coffee from Annie, chocolate-covered pretzels, Nutella, and multiple games of Catch Phrase. Spy Wednesday ended with Night Prayer and a beautiful Salve Regina.

I have apparently forgotten how much I prefer opening shifts to mid- and/or closing shifts. Or perhaps I have only developed this preference because of the arrival of Spring. At any rate, it’s lovely getting off at 4, with the sun still shining brightly. My Holy Thursday shift flew – thank goodness – and I was able to eat a little and rest a little before joining the choir at 6:30.

Gahhh, I love Annunciation.

Some presiders make our brief glimpses into eternity seem like things to be hurried through.

Father makes our brief glimpses into eternity something to be craved.

Desperately, relentlessly. We are so blessed.

I was recently re-reading Anne of the Island, and there’s that bitter heartrending passage in chapter 14…

… oh, Anne” — she reached out and caught Anne’s hand pleadingly, impulsively — “I don’t want to die. I’m afraid to die.”

“Why should you be afraid, Ruby?” asked Anne quietly.

“Because — because […] it’ll be all so different. I think — and think — and I get so frightened — and — and — homesick. Heaven must be very beautiful, of course, the Bible says so — but, Anne, it won’t be what I’ve been used to.

Through Anne’s mind drifted an intrusive recollection of a funny story she had heard Philippa Gordon tell — the story of some old man who had said very much the same thing about the world to come. It had sounded funny then — she remembered how she and Priscilla had laughed over it. But it did not seem in the least humorous now, coming from Ruby’s pale, trembling lips. It was sad, tragic — and true! Heaven could not be what Ruby had been used to. There had been nothing in her gay, frivolous life, her shallow ideals and aspirations, to fit her for that great change, or make the life to come seem to her anything but alien and unreal and undesirable. Anne wondered helplessly what she could say that would help her. Could she say anything? […]

“[…] it won’t be just the same. It can’t be. I want to go on living here. I’m so young, Anne. I haven’t had my life. I’ve fought so hard to live — and it isn’t any use — I have to die — and leave everything I care for.” Anne sat in a pain that was almost intolerable. She could not tell comforting falsehoods; and all that Ruby said was so horribly true. She was leaving everything she cared for. She had laid up her treasures on earth only; she had lived solely for the little things of life — the things that pass — forgetting the great things that go onward into eternity, bridging the gulf between the two lives and making of death a mere passing from one dwelling to the other — from twilight to unclouded day. […] it was no wonder her soul clung, in blind helplessness, to the only things she knew and loved.

I think the greatest blessing that came with moving to Annunciation is how I’ve come to see it as home, in the truest and best sense of the word. I never seem to tire [in spirit] of being there, never feel rushed while there or hurried to leave it, happy and anxious to return… but not in an earth-bound finite sort of way. Everything about our worship is supposed to stop and point and turn us heavenwards – or rather, homewards – and Annunciation does just that.

The world is so unfortunate in its fear of silence… and we are so unfortunate when we fall for and even buy into that lie. Ugh, Jesus, why do we, in our weakness, constantly forget that the world cannot ever teach us how to simply Be? Silly us. It’s one of the joys of profound silence, after all… the opportunity to know and to be Present and experience Presence and just Be.

After a lovely hour of profound silence, Holy Thursday ended with half a dozen or so faithful gathered for Compline.

We were once again “summoned by the Arlinghaus” – Rose, I love it; it just makes me giggle and giggle – to run through The Passion before the choir needed to congregate on Good Friday. Perhaps I ought not have been enjoying it quite so much, but my challenge was trying to figure out and remember in which octave I was to sing which lines. The maid’s a maid – go figure – but I had to remember to sing down an octave for the [crowd] lines of the chief priests, soldiers, and other obviously male characters. It probably should have been the obvious solution, but I’m glad that Marty clearly directed me to do so when he and Brian and I were glancing over it for the first time on Spy Wednesday.

There was also a procession to be practiced, and albs to be fitted. Steve said afterwards that it was pretty cool, the four of us processing and the gospel acclamation starting when we were only halfway up. We also ended up wearing our albs through choir practice and the entire service, and “Angels??” flashed through my head, seeing Marty and Brian walking side by side in their albs around the outside of the church, some thirty paces ahead of me. Zoops.

Marty’s been throwing out LotR references and [adulterated] lines ever since he started rereading the Trilogy on Family Day, so naturally my mind’s been coming up with a few here and there as well. The first half of Good Friday was warm and sunny – in fact, the sunshiney-ness bouncing off of Marty and Brian’s white albs definitely prompted the “Angels??” moment – but clouds gathered as Annie, Nate, Patrick, Ian, and Marty and I headed to Mt. Adams to pray The Steps immediately after Mass. God decided to give us a steady light sprinkle while actually going up the steps, and it was just drizzling as we exited Immaculata and started heading back to our respective cars. Quite suddenly, though, came on the thunderstorm, just as we were coming up on the intersection of Pavilion and Guido. We hurriedly put our umbrellas up, and there was Gandalf yelling in my ear, “This is not the weather of the world!

End LotR reference.

Nate turned 24 on Good Friday! I got to talk to him for just under seven minutes. It was such a beautiful thing to hear his voice. We’ll have known each other ten years this summer! God is so good to us.

Em had sweetly offered to have dinner ready for us to break our fast upon returning from The Steps, but we had sadly forgotten to figure out a way to let her into an empty Domus Dominae. Oh well! Seafood pasta doesn’t take long, and Annie and Em did a fantastic job. We did finally getting around to watching The Passion and doing Night Prayer.

As we were backing out of our respective parking spaces at Annunciation, Father had stuck his head out the window and requested volunteers to help decorate the church for Easter Vigil, so 9am on Black Saturday found us stuffing candles and counting programs, de-stamen-ing Easter lilies, polishing candle stands…

Then, while Father was preoccupied with training the servers for the vigil service, Marty and Brian and I went spelunking.

Kind of.

We went as far under Annunciation as we could. We found names spray-painted onto beams, dated from as far back as the 1930s. We added our names accordingly and took some super fun pics and thoroughly enjoyed our epicly impromptu Black Saturday adventure.

somewhere under Annunciation...
somewhere under Annunciation…

We headed back to Domus Dominae to make lunch together.

What actually happened was that I got kicked out of the kitchen for a brief period of time, and was only allowed reentry when I promised to behave and not make cheffy comments regarding the dissection of garlic and the tearing of kale and the use of yogurt in tomato sauce.

Marty and Brian cooked an absolutely incredible lunch for me, Annie, Paco, and Matt. Being off the hook, I worked on a new veil for vigil.

courtesy of Marty & Brian's mad chef skillzz
courtesy of Marty & Brian’s mad chef skillzz

Vigil was stupendous. And words are too thin.

I was five minutes late to [choir practice prior to] vigil. I was working on my veil up until the last second. “But you got it done, right?” teased Matt. Indeed I did. Was it Paco that said that little veils looked like doilies? To which Marty replied, “Go big or go home.” “Well that’s one way to look at veils, I guess…”

I might not have been five minutes late, had I not run out to get yeast for Marty’s hot cross buns that he forgot to put eggs into and consequently ended up with hot cross biscuits.

After some last-minute hymnal-insert-stuffing and cleaning and general ordering of the church post-vigil, Father ended up coming over to join in the midnight festivities taking place at Domus Damascus. The hot cross biscuits were pronounced “fine,” and the ice water, “very good.”

Circles and circles and circles… at both the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses, I was wearing the skirts that Mama brought me from the Holy Land. Springier colors for Vigil, orange and pastel blues and greens; and royally triumphant colors for Easter Sunday, sanguine and gold. “Ate, your clothes match my tie.” Lol. I replied that I had also noted that Kuya and I had very much matched on Good Friday, in all black and our respective crosses. [And then the albs.]

In spite of a very late night of much laughter and plenty of sugar and all the hot cross biscuits, I somehow did not destroy the Asperges Me on Easter Sunday. Hooray.

And after re-stuffing hymnal inserts – we’d put them all in the wrong side the night before – the family went out to WG Kitchen and Bar for lunch, aaaannnddd I ended up in St. Louis.

Then came the shenanigans of the Octave of Easter.


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