Friday, October 31, 2008

November Events

I wanted to post a quick summary of some upcoming events for November. If anyone thinks of more, please feel free to add/amend.

  • November 1: All Saints' Day mass at Christendom (Palestrina chorus singing), 11:30 a.m.
  • November 3: Major Speaker Russell Shaw at Christendom, 6:30 p.m.
  • November 4: Election Day--go out and vote!
  • November 9: Solemn High Mass at Old St. Mary's in D.C. (Palestrina chorus singing), 5 p.m.
  • November 12: Fortepiano recital by Susan Duer at Christendom College Library, 8 p.m.
  • November 15 & 16: Concert of Renaissance Polyphony by Collegium Cantorum (of whom Anthony is a member), 8 p.m. & 3:30 p.m. respectively
  • November 21-23: Christendom College Players present The Secret Garden at Skyline High School
  • November 22: Woodwind Quintet Concert at Christendom Commons, 7 p.m.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Joe and Liz's Wedding

Last Saturday, I had the good fortune to sing at a wedding of a couple of my friends, Joe and Liz. They are both fun, laid-back people and the wedding, as weddings generally do, suited the personality of the bride and groom. Their ceremony took place in an intimate chapel connected to a parish church in Annapolis, Liz's hometown. I must mention that she looked gorgeous, an absolutely stunning bride as, Krystle later remarked, brides should be if they possibly can. Krystle herself was part of a very large wedding party; I believe there were six bridesmaids and six groomsmen, plus the matron of honor and best man. Nevertheless, despite the proliferation of these witnesses, the nuptial mass began more or less on time. Though the priest took an updated approach to liturgical prayer, his additions of a "blessing by the children" and a first-name orchestration of the ceremony were offset by the choir's renditions of traditional polyphonic ordinaries and motets, especially William Byrd's Mass for Three Voices, as well as by the Gregorian gradual "Uxor tua," stuck in awkwardly between the first reading and the responsorial psalm. Unexpectedly, Joe and Elizabeth made the effort to memorize their vows, rather than repeating them after the priest, which made that part of the ceremony especially romantic. They sealed their covenant, in the middle of mass, with a kiss!

After mass, we headed over to the Knights of Columbus hall for the reception. Overall, I found the party playful yet also very tasteful. A buffet-style brunch was served on real dishes, with coffee and juice in real glass mugs and cups. The tables were set up in a "card party" theme, with each table suggesting a different card game, such as Spades, Poker, or even Mao! Though I did not end up playing cards, I did enjoy chatting with a few old acquaintances. Of course, dancing ranks high among my favorite wedding reception activities: I danced a few swing dances, as well as a tango and a polka (Anthony made fun of my dance partner for choosing to polka to Josh Turner's "Would You Go With Me," but it was a blast! Totally worth the blisters . . . ). The bride and groom danced a lot also, showing off their swing skills in an impressive fashion considering Liz's beautiful and extensive gown. She later urged all the ladies to join in a freestyle dance to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." All in all, the wedding was small and simple, yet abounding in festivity and joy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I love living in a Catholic bubble

Here I am at work on a Thursday morning, trying to concentrate on an important conversion project and not to be distracted by the Woot-Off in progress, nor to worry about my NDGS midterms this evening. I turn on some tunes and it hits me how cool it is to live and work here! One of my coworkers makes Catholic kids music, another chants in the St. John's schola. I chat online with our resident filmmaker to let him know about the upcoming All Saints Day mass at Christendom, at which I will sing. Life is somehow simple and good.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pictures from Homecoming

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fr. William: Champion of the New Liturgical Movement

Fr. William Fitzgerald is a priest after my own heart. In the rhetoric surrounding the debate between the Novus Ordo Missae vs. the Missal of Pius V (termed by Fr. William the "Classical Roman Rite," causing Nicole to think of harpies!) we too often get caught up in the minutiae, the details surrounding each form of the mass, and more importantly, our own personal attachment to one or another of the forms. Not so Fr. William. In his talk last night entitled "The Mass: How Extraordinary?!" Father gave us a clear and simple objective: think as the Holy Father does about the liturgy. He pointed out that the extreme of a narrow focus is those Catholics who demand, "what they want, when they want," with regard to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice. He contended that we should be comfortable with Mass in either form, ordinary or extraordinary. At the same time, he pointed out that the Church's vision for the ordinary form is much different from what we often see in parishes today. Moreover, he explained that the Holy Father specifically used the word "extraordinary" with regard to the older form to indicate that the celebration of this form will be the exception and not the rule. Fr. William's fascinating, dense reflections gained credence from his personal history, one of strong attachment to the liturgy and of extensive education in matters liturgical. His wide knowledge showed itself in his compact history of the Mass in the Western Church. While recognizing the excellence of the Tridentine Mass, he sees Pope Benedict XVI's plan as ultimately one of reform, not of trying to situate the Church of today in a past time. By taking such a "middle road," as well as by using a matter-of-fact tone free for the most part from personal criticisms of either side, he showed us a great example of how to think with the Church and love our liturgical tradition.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Old Town Alexandria

Also on Monday, to celebrate Sarah F's twenty-third birthday, Nicole and I headed to Old Town Alexandria for a night out. The only time I had been there before was for a Theology on Tap session at Pat Troy's. We would later end up at that favored Irish pub, but first we started out at Red Mei, an Asian restaurant chosen by Sarah for its inexpensiveness. Because N and I arrived late, we didn't eat there with her and her friend Marcelle but instead walked a block or so to la Madeleine. I have grown less and less impressed with la Madeleine over the years, mainly because, like Panera, they make you pay too much for fairly mediocre food. Nevertheless, also like Panera, you're paying for the appealing ambiance of the restaurant itself; we had a nice little talk there while munching on my Mediterranean Salade (note to self: don't order salads at the very end of the day at a place like this) and Nicole's Chicken Friande (actually quite decent). Then, we moseyed over to the Scoop Grill for some delicious homemade ice cream. On the way, we stopped into a precious shop called decorium, an upscale home decor destination--we also picked up a job application there for Sarah and had the greatest fun filling out during the rest of the evening! Finally, after Sean V. and Andrew S. joined us at the cash-only ice cream parlor, we walked back up King Street to Pat Troy's. The ambiance was perfect there as well: we chatted the night away, swapping hilarious stories over a few beers with the familiar strains of Irish folk songs playing in the background. My final impression is that Old Town Alexandria is a great place to bring a friend or group of friends and have a bit of fun. Though you must also be prepared to pay for it, like the restaurants I mentioned, the overall charm of the town makes up for the fact. I would recommend it for dates and holidays. :-)

REMINDER: Fr. William's talk is tonight at 8 p.m. in St. John's Library basement level.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lunch Spot

Yesterday, I tried out a new lunch spot here in town: Lucky Star Lounge. I had been there once before to hear my co-worker Danny play, but I did not try the food on that occasion. This time, I coerced a friend into accompanying me to this charming and eclectic spot.

In my opinion, the restaurant can boast a lot of things that are just right; the decor is one of those things. There is the perfect amount and arrangement of furniture to make it feel full without crowding and spacious without emptiness. Moreover, the wall hangings might not be what you would choose to display in your living room, but they're certainly very interesting! In short, the place looks good during the day as well as at night, and going there just makes you feel cool. :)

More importantly, the food was good! Slightly cheaper than element, Lucky Star's menu was also more varied--with a lot of vegetarian options, which makes me happy! I tried one of the daily specials, a vegetarian taco salad, and both the flavor and presentation were highly satisfactory. They used a better quality taco shell than you normally get, which had a good crunch, and the combination of the warm beans and the salsa worked very well for a lunch salad. My companion ordered the Cobb sandwich, and his only complaint about it was that he wished there was more. Perhaps the portion sizes were a touch on the small side, but I felt satisfied with mine even though I had waited until past 2 p.m. to eat. One negative note was that the iced tea tasted a bit off, but other than that it was a delicious meal.

Finally, the service . . . was odd. I couldn't decide whether the waitress was being slow on purpose to give us time to chat and relax. I think that's the most probable view of it, because there weren't really any other parties besides ours to wait on. The food took a bit longer than I expected to come out; in fact, everything took a fairly substantial amount of time to accomplish. However, the waitress was friendly and polite and still retained the impression of attentiveness. I would recommend going to Lucky Star when you have at least a leisurely mindset--so I wouldn't go here for a business lunch or anything of that nature. Nevertheless, I truly enjoyed sitting and talking with my friend and noted that the ambiance is definitely conducive to conversation.

Overall, I would certainly recommend my friends to try Lucky Star Lounge. I intend to return for Sunday brunch in the near future, to see if their quiche and breakfast food is as good as they claim it is. I'm glad there's a new good quality, reasonably-priced place right on Main Street!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A New Direction

I want to take this blog in a new direction. The main reason for this is that I want to blog more and to say things, and I think this might be the right place for it. I don't mean thoughts and musings, more like events and commentary. As always, everyone is welcome to post anything they like. I will begin with current events.

This weekend was Homecoming weekend. This may be obvious to some, but to others not so much! I heard from more than one person that Homecoming may have suffered from insufficient publicity, because they didn't know until the last minute that the day had come upon them. Another factor for the seemingly low turn-out could have been the economic downturn. Besides that, it was a sunny, beautiful holiday weekend, and who wants to waste it going to their old alma mater?

I certainly did! I had a fantastic time, not to say a nostalgic time. It was just lovely to see people I hadn't seen in a while, even just the students, and to enjoy a slice of the bubble after being mostly out in the world. Of course, I'm technically a student because I go to the grad school, but I am very far from my undergraduate days. The dance was one of the most fun ever because, like Caroline Bingley, I can appreciate that if conversation and not dancing were the order of the day, it might be more rational. Of course, I also love to dance!

I could continue with a more detailed recap, but instead I want to alert whoever might be reading this that Fr. William is going to give a talk on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. in the Library basement on the Tridentine Mass. Fr. William Fitzgerald, for those who don't know him, is the delicious new associate chaplain who, Dr. Poterack and I agree, knows all (at any rate, about the liturgy). He really does. You can tell he's one of those people who keep reading, keep studying, keep absorbing, and have an amazingly high capacity for retention within a big picture framework. I had a delightful time talking to him for the first time on Saturday night at the alumni reception, so I highly recommend anyone who's at all interested in liturgy and the Church to come to his talk and ask questions!

That's all for now.