Catholic Women’s Almanac No. 25

Outside my window::

It is cold and misty/drizzly. I WANT WARM. Rain is better than snow, but still, it’s depressing to have these cold temps.

I am wearing::

A red short-sleeved cashmere sweater with roses on the left neck; a gray layered skirt, gray socks, black boots.

I am reading::

Summa of a Summa; Death on a Friday Afternoon; Praying with the Dominicans. I re-read the Percy Jackson series over the weekend, so that was fun. 🙂

From the kitchen::

Aglio olio pasta before ballet class tonight–carbs! 🙂 I think a shrimp recipe tomorrow night, or possibly soup and sandwich, given the weather….

Listening to::

Renee Fleming, Dark Hope but about to change it to Jesus Christ Superstar. Yeah, I know. 🙂


Daily office going well, over all, as is spiritual reading. I’m also incorporating some of the Nashville Dominican’s prayers, like the Litany to St. Dominic.

Working out::

Returning to ballet class tonight, because I miss it! I may go again tomorrow night, or go to yoga class, or do circuits here at home. So many possibilities. 🙂 We’ll see how tonight’s class goes.

Around the house::

The spring closet clean-out continues, as does the organizing of the book room. And my kitchen table looks like a ream of paper exploded on it, so I need to deal with that too!

Plans for the week::

Not a whole lot other than my workout classes, and RITE OF SPRING on Friday! So massively excited. And of course Pope Francis’ inaugural Mass is tomorrow. 🙂


Peonies for St. Cecilia

Peonies for St. Cecilia

Cochlear Implants and Music

The NY Times has been talking a lot about cochlear implants lately in the health section, and I wanted to clear a few things up, based on my experience.

One of the things people say about CIs is that they suck for music. This is not precisely true. Like just about EVERYTHING CI related, a lot depends on what your hearing was like before, and how much work you’re willing to put into it. Everyone is different.

I was a musician before. I am a musician after. My old CI processor pitched me sharp, and made hearing instrumental music I didn’t know sort of difficult, but I could fill in the gaps, because, after 23 years of music study, I “knew” where the tune was going to go next. My new processor is much better for new instrumental music, and vocal music.

I can learn new music. Some people, like radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, can’t. He has said in interviews that he only can “hear” the music that he knew before, and for a lot of people, this is the case. But music is such a huge part of my life, I knew I was going to have to regain this ability, and I have. For words, liner notes with CDs are a beautiful thing!

If music is a big part of your life pre-CI, you can probably recapture that with a new processor, especially as the technology improves. But I think a lot of it has to do with how your brain is wired; if you’re intensely musical, you should be able to get it back. Not so much–then, yeah, it might be well nigh impossible. But the technology is rapidly evolving, so don’t give up entirely.

Now, phones are another story…I’m still working on that. That’s been my biggest problem thus far.

Anyway, if you’re considering getting a CI, or you know people who are, don’t despair about the music.It’s much better than with a hearing aid!

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 12



So last weekend was all about Nashville! If you haven’t read the Nashville posts, you can find them all conveniently listed here. (I realize that links here can be hard to see–they’re sort of a forest green. So trust me when I say, it’s there. 🙂 )


After the retreat, the sisters were lovely to send us a follow-up email with the group picture, a booklist, and some more spiritual direction tips. The first is “the heroic minute”–getting up right when the alarm goes off. (I think St. Josemaria is the one who named it thus.) Let me tell you, it’s indeed heroic. I like that snooze button waaaaay too much.


The book list was pretty awesome. I’ll share it with you in a later post, because it’s among my Nashville papers that I still haven’t organized. The Summa is on it, however, and I am making progress there–I’ve read about 100 pages. One of the things the sisters do every day is 15 minutes of spiritual reading, so I’ve adapted that habit for my “studious” spiritual reading–the stuff that requires my total focus and brain power. The Summa is definitely that.


So the other big thing this week: Pope Francis! I must say, I am really dismayed with how some Church traditionalists are getting on the guy for not wearing certain things (an amice? What the heck, folks). To me, he looks like John Paul II in his attire, and in his habits. But I have recently found out some didn’t like his approach to liturgy either. Sigh.

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth reiterating: Just because I attend an NO (Novus Ordo, the “English” Mass) that doesn’t mean I don’t like and want good liturgy. I do not like guitar Masses. I do not want puppets or dancing or any crazy vestments. God deservers proper, reverent worship. I believe that can happen in English. At my parish, we have chant. We have good preaching (Dominicans, bien sur!), we have devotion. You can have the NO and have it. So the EF (extraordinary form, the Latin Mass, the Tridentine Mass, whatever you want to call it) is not the only way to have reverence.

Are all parishes like this? Oh, my goodness, no. And I wish that would change. I think the new translation will be very helpful in restoring some lost reverence in these places.

Let us not criticize our brand new Pontiff because he doesn’t chant blessings, he doesn’t wear certain things, etc., etc. He seems very holy, devoted to prayer and Our Lady, and otherwise a solid man. I don’t know much about him; I imagine few lay people do. But let’s stop. the.freak.out. NOW.


So Rite of Spring is next week. Have I told you about this? Our symphony and ballet companies are joining forces to put on this tempestuous classic of dance and music. Since the riot at the 1913 premier, the original choreography is lost, and it’s rarely performed, especially with both complete symphony and ballet company together. We are so fortunate to see it here in Columbus! I have been waiting about a year for this, ever since it was announced last March.

If you aren’t familiar with the Rite of Spring: it’s the dinosaur segment from Fantasia.

(This is the final segment, not the beginning; I tried to find the beginning but YouTube was not obliging for what I wanted. The beginning, though, is recognizable from its very high, strange bassoon part.)


I’m re-reading the Percy Jackson series. “I kissed the poodle. You kiss the poodle.” I just crack up laughing. Great stuff, even if I am totally outside of the target age range. 🙂


I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo in April! So excited. This time I think I’m planning a YA novel, with my dad’s mom’s as the inspiration for one of the main characters (don’t worry, Dad, it’s good!). I’m really excited about this one!

Housekeeping notes

There have been a lot of new followers in the past week (waving hi!) so here’s a few notes about Da Blog:

  • If you mouse over the pictures, the colors get brighter. This is a sort of “muted” theme, so the colors aren’t their true hue unless you mouse over them.
  • The pages at the top have all sorts of fun things, so be sure to check those out. 🙂

A failure to communicate

One of the best pieces of analysis on Francis that I’ve read today, from NRO’s Jim Geraghty:

When It Comes to the U.S. Media, the Vatican Might as Well Be Speaking in Latin

Dear mainstream media: No, you were never going to get a liberal pope.

You don’t have to be the sharpest knife in the drawer to figure out what the U.S. media think are the most important issues before the pope:

Francis’ ascension, however, will not be without its controversies. Francis firmly opposes abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception, the last being a particularly significant position as the Church continues to expand in Africa, where contraception is seen as a vital tool to limit the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Was there any cardinal in the mix who, upon assuming the papacy, would step out onto the balcony, and declare, “Oh, hey, abortion, homosexuality and contraception are cool now”?

A couple times a year, Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne writes a column that says basically, “The Vatican has a big problem, because lots of American Catholics don’t agree with the pope.” It never seems to cross his mind that each pope and the Vatican collectively don’t really care that lots of American Catholics don’t agree with them. Or, more specifically, they would like American Catholics to agree with them, but they’re not willing to change what they teach as right and wrong based upon what the Gallup organization says American Catholics think. They think they get that material from the Man Upstairs. You may or may not agree with that assessment of Divine leadership, but the point is that the pope and the cardinals believe it, and they’re not going to be talked out of it by some pundit.

This is an institution that weathered the storms of the schism with the Orthodox and the Protestant Reformation. They’re not going to suddenly abandon their positions in the face of criticism from Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell, or Andrew Sullivan.

Dave Weigel: “Just a hunch here, but based on headlines it seems like members of the media are more liberal than Catholic church leaders.”

Peggy Noonan calls it like it is:

Right now every idiot in town feels free to tell the church to get hopping, and they do it in a new way, with a baldness that occasionally borders on the insulting. Whatever their faith or lack of it they feel free to critique loudly and in depth, to the degree they are capable of depth. I have been critical of the church over the sex scandals for longer than a decade. Here’s one column—but I write of it because I love it and seek to see it healthy, growing and vital as it brings Christ into the world. Some of the church’s critics don’t seem to be operating from affection and respect but something else, or some things else.

When critics mean to be constructive, they bring an air of due esteem and occasional sadness to their criticisms, and offer informed and thoughtful suggestions as to ways the old church might right itself. They might even note, with an air of gratitude free of crowd-pleasing sanctimony, that critics must, in fairness, speak of those parts of the church that most famously work—the schools that teach America’s immigrants, the charities, the long embrace of the most vulnerable—and outweigh a whole world of immediate criticisms.

But when they just prattle on with their indignant words—gender, celibacy, irrelevant—well, they’re probably not trying to be constructive. One might say they’re being vulgar, ignorant and destructive, spoiled too. They think they’re brave, or outspoken, or something. They don’t have enough insight into themselves to notice they’d never presume to instruct other great faiths. It doesn’t cross their minds that if they were as dismissive about some of those faiths they’d have to hire private security guards.

If your beef with the Catholic Church is the role it gives women, well . . . there’s another big global faith with about a billion adherents who you may want to examine, too. I mean, whatever you think of the role of nuns, they are allowed to drive themselves, you know.

Habemus Papam Francis!

Welcome Pope Francis, everyone.

True story: My mom totally predicted this last night. She said the new pope would take Francis as his name. So Mom is psychic, apparently.

He’s the son of an Italian immigrant, and has four siblings. He did his degree in chemistry, but then joined the priesthood and the Jesuit order. (Cue the Jesuit jokes!)

He seems very humble, devout, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about him in the last few minutes–he fought against liberation theology and Communism in his native Argentina.

Here’s a profile of him ; he is seen as a scholar, but one who can speak to the people in the pews.

Taking Francis as a name is funny for a Jesuit, since the Franciscan order suppressed the Jesuits for about 200 years…but St. Francis was also told by God to “rebuild my church, for it is ruins.” Perhaps that is what our new Pope feels is his calling.

Viva il Papa, and let’s pray for Pope Francis!

Road trip music

Here’s what we listened to during our Road Trip Adventure!

  • U2, “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” 
  • Sarah McLachlan, “Illusions of Bliss” (Twice–we really liked this one)
  • “The Best of Simon and Garfunkel” (The song “Cecilia” is about St. Cecilia, so fitting!)
  • Renee Fleming, “Dark Hope”
  • Josh Groban, “All That Echoes”
  • Sarah McLachlan, “Mirrorball”
  • “What Women Want” Soundtrack
  • Eva Cassidy, “Live at Blues Alley” and “Songbird” (twice)
  • A Disney mix CD
  • A rock mix CD, because I needed “Hotel California” 🙂