Seven Quick Takes Friday Vol. 31



Happy St. Cecilia’s Day!

She is the patroness of all musicians, so I love this feast. And here’s the poem for this day, by John Dryden.


Last March, you may remember I visited the Dominicans of St. Cecilia in Nashville, TN. So happy patronal feast day to all the sisters there as well!

Statue of St. Cecilia at the Nashville Dominican Motherhouse.

Statue of St. Cecilia at the Nashville Dominican Motherhouse.


I know I have been terrible AWOL here lately, but between NaNoWriMo (I’m still chugging away, less than 20K words to go!) and random chaos, the blog muses haven’t been hanging around. I’m hoping that changes soon. NaNo takes most of my writing energy at the moment.


Last week’s adorable CCD quote:

Me: (Talking about the fourth commandment) And how do we honor our parents?
Anthony: We don’t stick our tongues out at them.

I love my class so, so much. And we managed to get through the entire story of Moses (well, minus the vivid plague descriptions) and the 10 commandments in one day! This week we’re covering the Annunciation and talking about Advent, since we’re off next week for Thanksgiving break.


Speaking of that–how the heck is it less than one week to Thanksgiving?! WOW! Fortunately I have inherited my mother’s early shopping gene, so I’m about done with my Christmas gifts. I still need to get two more things but I’m ordering those today. For Turkey Day, “we are going out to eat”, and I’m taking Pure Barre class that morning so I can eat sans guilt. 🙂


Reading: I’m re-reading the Royal Diaries and still in Abandonment to Divine Providence. And I have a beef with B&N.

B&N: I love you. But please put only NEW books (as in, released in the past month) in the “new books’ section,  not books that were released in March and thus are not new anymore, and then it’s hard to find legitimately new books. Pleaaase fix this! Why do you do this?!


Watched Man of Steel this week. I generally really liked it. How could I not with three of my favorite actors in it (Amy Adams, Henry Cavill and Russell Crowe?) But I did find two essentially back to back scenes of massive fighting and destruction a bit…wearying. But I know much less about Superman than I do about say, Batman, so maybe this is how it goes?

Various and Sundry

Time for some updates, since I’ve been bad about them. Sorry!

  • OK, first. This is a salad I created over the summer. People really like it. You should try it. (And yes, Jenny, here is lovely yummy food! It’s so good!)
  • Life Revamping Goes on, and this is how it goes:  I am definitely doing well in the “get up earlier” Sweeps. I’ve moved my get up time back 20 minutes, so 40 minutes to go until we hit the 6:30 goal time. The Kitchen needs major work–cleaning out the fridge, the cabinets, etc. and reorganizing–so that’s next up in the house revamping. I’m currently using the Book of Job for my lectio and really enjoying it. (Enjoying Job. I know. I’m weird.) I chose Job because I’d started reading it during my retreat to Nashville, and then left it when I got home, so I’ve decided to finish it and move on from there in terms of what book of the bible to read. I read a chapter a day. (In Job, some of those chapters are really short, but even then, I only read one chapter.)I’m also working my way though a book called The Artist’s Rule, which is about monastic habits in the creative life.
  • I’m also into rehearsals for And Then There Were None, which goes up in mid-October. I’m really enjoying working with such a fabulous cast and director, and bringing this character to life. I’ve modeled a lot of her on the White Rabbit from Alice In Wonderland, if that gives you any ideas. Last Friday we practiced the blocking for the end of Act I, where I have to faint, and I got a lovely bruise on my right leg from all the practiced falling (But I like it.) I really like the physicality of this character, how much she moves and how important putting the character in my body is here. One thing I recently read in an acting book is a lot of actors don’t act with their bodies–they only act with their faces. So I am consciously making an effort to act with my entire body–my fingers, hands, posture, feet, etc.
  • CCD catechist retreat was last Sunday and it was a lot of fun! I’ll be co-teaching 26 first graders and I am so ready to go!

Emily Revamps Her Life Part I

I love all the seasons, but I especially love the sense of newness that comes with fall. I haven’t been a student for (gulp) almost 10 years, but I still like the back-to-school, new notebooks and pencils idea of fall.

And lately, I’ve noticed that my life sort of needs a re-do, or a makeover, or a “back to school” sense, if you will. I need to get rid of all the things I don’t love, don’t use, and don’t need. I need to make time for prayer on a daily basis. I need to have a solid fitness routine.

I’ve had all these seeds careening around in my brain for awhile. But now is the time to start.

Why now?

Well first, I read this book:

It was mentioned by Elizabeth Foss (she also recommended another great book, here, which I also read while I was reading this.) Since she usually links to fantastic books, I added this to my Amazon queue and ordered it a few weeks ago.

The book has a lot of great advice, but this part is my favorite:

The author gives you a 10 day plan to totally remake your home into one you want to be living in. You get rid of everything you don’t use. You clean the spaces. You make them beautiful and inviting.

Now this is going to take me more than 10 days–probably more like 20!–but I am determined to do this.

Day 1 was throw everything away in your house that is trash, that doesn’t work, that’s broken and un-fixable. This has been done in 2/3 of the house. I still have to hit the music room and I plan on doing that today. Also get rid of stuff you don’t want, that’s in plain sight. (This isn’t the time to go through closets, etc.) So when I go down to the music room, I will examine the movie stash (because they’re in the same place). If I don’t love the movie, it gets put in the “Take to Half Price Books (HPB) To Sell” bag.

In the book, Day 1 is described like this:

“I’m talking about the obvious stuff…this is about the stuff that really doesn’t take any effort to find. This is the magazine collection in the bathroom, the trinkets on the end tables, and the knickknacks on your dresser–anything that visible as soon as you enter the room. ” –Organized Simplicity

So today I will finish Day 1.  I’m not following all her tips; instead of having a garage/yard sale, I’m taking things that can be sold to HPB; if they can’t be sold, I’m donating them. (But only donating things that are in good shape.)

Another thing I’ve been doing this week? Getting up earlier. 

I’ve set my alarm clock for 6:30. That means I’m usually up at 7 (I give myself three hits of the snooze). I am not one of those people that can set the alarm for when I need to wake up. I have to build in snooze button hitting time.

If I’m up at 7:00–and I’ve set out my clothes and make up items, and jewelry, the night before–my morning is simple. I’ve also added in a Morning Offering. (There are a lot of them, but I like the one I learned when I was with the Nashville Dominicans on retreat. I’ll post that later.)

I have time for a cup of coffee, and time to say lauds and take my morning meds, before I head out the door.

I want to add more to my morning, but so far, this is it:

  • Morning Offering
  • Dressing/makeup
  • Coffee/breakfast/pills
  • Lauds
  • Car time. 🙂

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!

Nashville Retreat, Part VII: Coming Home, and a Dominican Dog

So, we hit the road around 1:30 or so. By this time, my internal clock was way off, because it was also the day to turn the clocks back an hour. So we’d lost an hour of sleep the night before, but I was glad we wouldn’t be driving in darkness for most of the trip (we were lucky; it didn’t get dark until we were almost in Ohio, and by then, the “hard parts” of the trip were over).

We stopped to get gas, and then at Starbucks for coffee and water for Mary and Katie, where we had a lovely discussion about CAtholicism with the window barrista, named John (who called us “ma’am”–I love Southern guys). Then we were on the road.

The drive was better heading home; there were fewer people on the road, and not a lot of traffic. I still hate those road signs, though! We stopped for dinner again in la Grange, KY, and then for gas outside of Wilmington, OH. There was more talking on the way back and more consensual choice of music instead of me as DJ. 🙂

We got to Columbus around 9:00, and I got home around 10. My body was sore and tired and generally bewildered, but it was a great retreat. I was glad, however, to be able to take the CI out. I’d slept with it on in Nashville so I could hear the rising bell, and wearing it for like 56 hours straight is NOT the best thing ever. I woke up with a migraine this morning and subsequently slept until like 1 PM. But today was all about letting my body do what it wanted, as opposed to making it do what I wanted, as I’d done all weekend. 🙂 I think everyone lost around 5 lbs. with all the walking and climbing and standing and kneeling we did! 🙂

Below is one of my favorite parts of the stained glass at St. Cecilia’s: The Dominican Dog. As Dominicans, it’s sort of a pun: we’re called the “hounds of God,” because that’s what Dominicans is in Latin. So the stained glass window in the oratory has the dog at St. Dominic’s feet, with a torch in its mouth. This is reference to the dream St. Dominic’s mother, Jane, had when she was pregnant with him. She dreamed that she would give birth to a dog with a torch in its mouth, that would set the world aflame. Her priest told her that she would give birth to a boy who would set the world on fire with his preaching–which he surely did, and which Dominicans continue to do today. So a dog with a flaming torch in his mouth is often seen in his iconography. Often the dog is a dalmatian, since it’s colors–black and white–are also the Dominican colors.

The Dominican Dog

The Dominican Dog

Nashville Retreat, Part VI: Sunday

6:00: Rise

6:30: Meditation

7:00 lauds

7:15 Mass

8:30 Breakfast

9:30 pack, strip beds

10:00 group picture in the oratory

10:15 conference

11:15 retreat closing

12:00 Noon prayers and lunch

1:00 Departures

St. Cecilia sisters' locations overseas

St. Cecilia sisters’ locations overseas

Me and St. Cecilia, before noon prayer

Me and St. Cecilia, before noon prayer


I didn’t hear the rising bell, so I missed meditation, but I made it to the church for lauds and Mass. Since it was Laertae Sunday, the priests wore rose vestments, and there were instruments! Four sisters were excellent instrumentalists–there was a flautist, a clarinetist, a cellist and a violinist. Combined with the schola and the organ, the music was truly heavenly! These sisters do their patroness proud!

I was craving something sugary, like juice or soda, by the time we got to breakfast. I knew soda wouldn’t be on offer, but there were glorious pitchers of orange juice! I think I drank the entire thing myself. It was so, so good. That’s one thing about eating in a convent: You really appreciate certain things when you don’t have them! The breakfast was awesome: juice, bacon, eggs….YUM. Ecstasy, right here, let me tell you. I was so excited about orange juice.

After breakfast we went upstairs to pack, and I made the last trek upward. 🙂 We deposited our laundry in marked bins, then brought our bags back to the recreation hall.

Statuary in the recreation hall

Statuary in the recreation hall

painting in the hallway, celebrating the sisters' jubilee

painting in the hallway, celebrating the sisters’ jubilee

the recreation hall, the right side of the room, with the window seats

the recreation hall, the right side of the room, with the window seats

It was time for the photo and the last conference. The photo took awhile–there were so many of us, it was hard to fit us in the frame! Poor Sr. John Thomas had to stand at the very back of the oratory on a chair to get us all.

Fr. Eckert preached the last conference on “Responding in Love: The Moral Life.”


  • Today’s Gospel: The Prodigal Son: God’s great love for us. We have that love, always!
  • As we go back into the world, how do we bring our faith?
  • Living out the 10 commandments
  • In our relationship with God, think of human relationships: Like those, we need to spend time, be with the beloved person, commit to that time.
  • Called to be on fire with the love of God.
  • How do we being to live life with him?
  • Grow in virtue
  • Be surrounded by the saints
  • Be in love with Him
  • Something deeper, stronger: What else do I need to give?
  • What keeps me from being the person I need to be?
  • What is the New Evangelization?–using the creed, the sacraments, to enter into the beauty of Love with God. We are called to fall in love with him.
  • B XVI: “Opening the hears and minds of men to the true Life in God.”
  • The world NEEDS true believers–always in God. Not just “Sunday”, but every day.
  • Being in a relationship
  • Our relationship with God should shape everything we do in life.
  • Need to learn and love and teach our faith.
  • The relationship continues all the time.
  • “Make the center of your life Jesus Christ.”
  • If you do follow and love,y ou will have joy.
  • Love is contradictory.
  • The love of Christ is the only thing that completely fulfills us
  • We can’t go out there with fear.
  • We are in love.
  • If you are truly in love with Christ, you have happiness and joy.
  • Authentic joy, not saccharine joy.
  • Called to be credible, joyful witnesses.
  • The cross always leads to the resurrection
  • Witness that is it possible in this day and age to be authentically CAtholic
  • “We have to be on fire with the love of God!”
  • “The New Evangelization is deeper than buying an iPad.” (Father was making a joke about how he had one; how technology is good, and we can use it to spread the love of Christ and the Gospel, but it’s more than just the gadgetry.)
  • What it is to give everything for Jesus Christ.
  • We have the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel in everything we do.


At the end of his talk, Father called us “sisters in Christ,” and for the first time that truly struck me. I’ve always heard of “brothers and sister” in the Church–Benedict XVI was very fond of “fratelli and sorelli”–brothers and sisters–in his addresses. But as he spoke to us, and as I was surrounded by all these other women and the sisters, it really rang true to me. YES, we are all connected. We were all one family in Christ.

Sister Peter Marie took the podium for the closing remarks. She said that being on retreat was being “on the mountain” with Christ, and now we had to descend to the plain, to our daily lives. But we can always go back to the mountain with Christ, in prayer.

This also struck me. Part of my life has been that deep wanting to always be on the mountain, be at the monastery or the convent or at the place of retreat. But I don’t need to be–I can have the mountain with me, always, interiorly. I don’t need to be in a specific place to be holy.

On the wall in the chapel is the antiphon for St. Cecilia’s Feast Day (November 22) in Latin: Cantatibus organis Caecilia Domino Decantabat Dicens: Fiat Cor Meum Immaculatum ut Non Confundar. My rough translation: As the organ played, Cecilia sang to her Lord, saying: Make my heart immaculate, and do not let it be confounded. Her fiat resounded in me after that last conference, and “Make my heart immaculate” (fiat cor meum immaculatum) is something I’m going to try to constantly remember.

Noon prayers, lunch, and goodbyes followed. There were so many really wonderful women on this retreat, and I was pleased to meet so many of them! Katie went and brought the car up, and before we left, we talked for a few minutes with Sr. Bernadette Marie, who was one of the sisters helping with the retreat. She was, also, so nice and sweet and truly joyful, a soul steeped in prayer. (All the sisters were….they are truly incredible women) She took one last picture of the three of us, and then we were on the road for home.


Nashville Retreat, Part V: Saturday Evening

Saturday Evening

5:00 Vespers and rosary

5:30 Dinner

6:30 Spiritual Reading and Compline

7:30 Discussion Groups

8:15 Holy Hour

9:15 Silence and return to dorms

10:00 Lights Out


Oratory stained glass

Oratory stained glass

oratory altar and ambo

oratory altar and ambo

Vespers was lovely, as usual. In the Dominican way, the prayer is chanted side-to-side, with the sides alternating: this is so one side is “preaching” and one side is “receiving” the preaching. After dinner, we had spiritual reading and compline back in the chapel. I didn’t get spiritual reading, though, because I met with Sr. John Thomas for my “spiritual direction.” We met in one of the parlors for about 15 minutes, and she was incredibly helpful. She is warm and caring and incredibly sweet.I’m going to write to her with updates on how her advice is panning out. 🙂 So we finished and made it to compline, which was my favorite office at the convent because of the salve. I loved seeing the sisters bow to each other as they processed; a lot of them smiled at each other as they did it. There seemed to be such sisterly love and devotion–truly brethren dwelling in love and unity!

After compline we headed back upstairs to break into discussion groups–each group had one or two sisters who talked with us. The best thing I heard here was one of the sisters saying: “You don’t have to wear a habit to be holy.” Holiness is a duty for all of us, but it’s so easy to forget and think that only nuns and sisters and priests can be truly holy.

It was time for holy hour now, and we got to sit in the sisters’ stalls, which was a real treat. Each one keeps a variety of things there: her breviary, a bible, a Magnificat, the hymnal, their spiritual reading book, etc. Some had pictures of statues or of holy places or paintings. The sisters’ schola (choir) joined us and sang about every ten minutes. Father Eckert led the service. Holy Hour consists of the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, an opening hymn, the Divine Praises, the Tantum Ergo, and a closing hymn–usually “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.”

We all used the time differently–some read, some prayed, one girl did sleep. 🙂 It was so great to be there and to just be in The Presence. I read a little bit but mostly just thought about what Sr. John Thomas had recommended, and prayed about it.

After Holy Hour, we headed to bed. I slept very well that night (blessing!)