Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary!

Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag

Today, September 8, is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Also known as the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary or simply The Virgin Mary's Birthday, it is a special feast day for Catholics, celebrating the birth of the Mother of Christ. September 8 marks nine months after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8). It is an important feast because it prepares the way for the birth of Jesus Christ.

My way of honouring Mama Mary's birthday is by sharing some of my favourite Marian hymns in this blogpost.

First of all: since we've started up Compline again this academic year, it's only fitting that I begin this post by sharing some musical settings of the appropriate Marian antiphon of the season: Salve Regina. Those who have participated in the Fatima devotions locally in the Triangle (North Carolina) area know the simple chant that concludes the community's Rosary prayers:

Here is the version we chant every Sunday evening in Compline from Trinity until Advent:

Here are a few of my favourite settings of the Ave Maria. First, this setting of Ave Maria by Josquin des Prez. It starts off Ave Maria, gratia plena dominus tecum, virgo serena (Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, serene virgin). I particularly like the ending, which is a Josquin's plea to the Virgin Mary: O mater Dei, memento mei. Amen. (O Mother of God, remember me. Amen.)

Here is one by Jacob Arcadelt. It also inspired Franz Liszt to compose a piece for the organ (Ave Maria d'Arcadelt).

Another favourite is by Tomás Luis de Victoria.

When I first heard this setting by Franz Biebl, I was in love. It is essentially a sung Angelus prayer.

Finally, this is Robert Parsons' setting of the Ave Maria. It was one of the most challenging pieces I've had the pleasure of learning, and out of necessity, I've had to learn three parts (soprano, alto 1 and alto 2), but the time spent learning it was very well worth it. This is a gorgeous piece!

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Catholic Photo Challenge #5: Filial Trust

Here is the latest Catholic Photo Challenge that can be found at the Everything Esteban blog.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"322 Christ invites us to filial trust in the providence of our heavenly Father (cf. Mt 6:26-34), and St. Peter the apostle repeats: “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you” (I Pt 5:7; cf. Ps 55:23)."

For this photo challenge, capture a scene or event that expresses joy in a carefree moment. A scene when you, or someone else, is living in the moment, not fettered by worries or needing to be in total control.

Joy in a carefree moment. Admittedly, the only thing that pops into my mind is children at play. So here is a picture that I took whilst I was on vacation with my family in Hawaii back in September, 2012.

Jacob and Ella playing in the sand, September 2012.

Their little "castle" had it all: lots of sand and water that could almost serve as a moat. These two really love playing at the beach, and I hope this picture captured that.

Thanks for reading. Please make sure to see the other entries on this topic by clicking here.

Pax et bonum!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Catholic Photo Challenge #4: Sign of Fidelity

I will admit: when I first saw the latest Catholic Photo Challenge on Everything Esteban on July 1, I immediately had a thought as to what I should post. Lazy me kept procrastinating and putting it off, and here we are at July 15. I guess I'm not exhibiting fidelity if I dragged my feet like this for 15 days... but I'll admit I had quite a lot to do this month, so that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. :)

I had two pictures in mind for this one. Here's the first one.

For the past couple of months, I've been more involved with the local Filipino community's Fatima prayer group. There is a Fatima statue and a Sto. Niño (Infant Jesus of Prague) statue that travels from house to house. During the year, a host family keeps the statues for a week, and then they move on. During the month of May, the statue goes from house to house daily. There is a set of prayers, including the Rosary, a Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and with the exception of the month of May, a Litany to the Infant Jesus. There are other prayers that are prayed by everyone present.

The organizers, the Castillo family of Durham, often remind us that the community that prays together stays together. And I've noticed just how close-knit the members of the Filipino community here are. There are the faithful few who go to every one of these gatherings, including daily during the month of May. And their faith is quite strong.

Here's my second picture.

These items were gifted to me by Fr. Julian Jagudilla, OFM. He used to be one of the parochial vicars at St. Francis of Assisi church in Raleigh, and he's now in New York City. He had made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and upon his return, told me he had some "pasalubong" for me, and immediately handed me these items. (Not pictured is a San Damiano cross, which was something I had wanted for a long time.) Many prayers have been said with these Rosary beads, and I keep them in my backpack. So they're always with me wherever I go.

So this is my entry for the first half of July. As they say, better late than never, right? :)

Thanks for reading. Please make sure to see the other entries on this topic by clicking here.

Pax et bonum!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley Come to Life

Artist’s rendition of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley from the site.
I just made a new blogpost on another site on which I make occasional contributions, SQPN's Secrets of Harry Potter. There has been a lot of excitement about the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Diagon Alley theme park opening up at Universal Studios Orlando on July 8, 2014. Fr. Roderick messaged me a couple of days ago to let me know about a great collection of images and videos of this new park, and in the post I made over at the Secrets of Harry Potter, I give a list of links to what is essentially a sneak preview of this new park. They all point to the work of Dave Parfitt over at Adventures by Daddy.

Click here to read the post and check out the links.

And yes, this makes me really want to go back and check out the new HP-themed park... but when the crowds die down. I admit that the last time I went to explore WWoHP—Hogsmeade, I didn't enjoy it because of the huge crowds. For me, the only highlight was seeing Tom Felton up close twice whilst I was there. And the butterbeer. Mmm, butterbeer.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Catholic Photo Challenge #3: Good Shepherd

I will admit: I had wanted to give Steve's second photo challenge on Isaiah 9:1 a go; however, I had a difficult time trying to think of something that would fit that theme of light and darkness.

On the other hand, when I saw the third photo challenge, I knew immediately who my subject would be!

First of all, the challenge:

For Catholic Photo Challenge #3 (June 15-30) – show us an image that represents a "Good Shepherd" to you. Be sure to tell us why!

This person is probably very well known to you if you have followed Catholic media for a while. I've known of him since at least 2008 (many of you knew him longer). We even worked together on a little podcast about a literary figure made famous in a book series and films that enjoyed world-wide popularity, and I also helped him proofread his book that was released last year. I feel like I've known him forever despite having only met him in person last year October.

Fr. Roderick and me at the CNMC in Boston, October 2010. Photo by Fr. Darryl Millette.

Yes, the person I'm talking about is Fr. Roderick Vonhögen. I appreciate that he uses technology to reach out to people well beyond his parish(es) in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. His interests are varied and diverse, and he loves sharing it with others through his podcasts and other media. He also has a knack for inserting catechesis ("The Peculiar Bunch") without being overtly preachy. Even though most of our interactions have been "virtual", I know he's also very pastoral, and it was nice experiencing that in person at a Mass that he concelebrated (and delivered the homily) as well as at an Evening Prayer that he led at the conclusion of the CNMC in Boston.

It's very easy to relate to him, and IMHO, he definitely has the qualities of being a "Good Shepherd" to all of us bleating sheep.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Catholic Photo Challenge: Seeing God in the Works of Creation

My friend, Steve Nelson, had been participating in the 'Weekly Photo Challenge' over at On Catholic Weekend, Steve had talked about creating a similar photo challenge based on Catholic themes, and the Catholic Photo Challenge was born.

It's pretty simple: on the 1st and 15th of each month, a new theme that is based on some aspect of the Catholic faith will be posted. You choose a picture that you've taken (could be recent or one from the past) that you think fits the theme, and you explain why. When you share it on social media, use the hashtag #catholicphoto.

So with that out of the way: the first challenge (15 May – 31 May) is on the theme 'Seeing God in the Works of Creation'.

Here is my entry.

Waiting for the sun to rise at Haleakalā ('House of the Sun'), Maui.

On a cold, late September morning, my family woke up super-early to go see a sunrise at Haleakalā in Maui. It was an amazing experience. If you go, make sure you dress warmly because the low temperatures will dip to around 40 °F (5 °C). At a little under 10,000 feet (3,048 metres) above sea level, we were above the clouds, and I took a heap of pictures using the ProHDR app on my old iPhone 3GS.

This picture was taken 10 minutes before the official sunrise. I was amazed at all the colours that my simple cell phone camera captured. Below the orange line are the clouds. From where I was standing, it almost looked like an ocean, albeit a billowy, pillowy one. (Part of the reason why I took so many pictures was because I was trying, but failing, to capture those amazing clouds.) Admittedly, I was very disappointed that I wasn't capturing the clouds to my liking; however, when I looked at the blues and purples and grays in the picture, as well as the variation in terrain as we were looking into the crater of the volcano, I couldn't help but think of how majestic this was and that God had a hand in creating all this beauty around us.

Ten minutes later, the sun rose, and I remember hearing something like a horn blowing. I was a little far from this, but someone was also reciting some sort of a poem that goes like this:

E ala e Ka la i kahikina
I ka moana
Ka moana hohonu
Pi’i ka lewa
Ka lewa nu’u
I kahikina
Aia ka la.
E ala e!

The sun in the east
From the ocean
The ocean deep
Climbing (to) the heaven
The heaven highest
In the east
There is the sun

We stayed a little longer, and then we eventually made our way down the mountain and waving at the bicyclists as we passed by.

(Note: Yes, I waited until the very last minute to post this. I promise that I won't wait so long for the next one, which should be posted tomorrow, 1 June.)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Where has Lyn been?

My poor, neglected blog! I see my last post was made in early March. I have a couple of blogposts I intend to write, and I hope to be able to make time to do that over this Memorial Day weekend.

Hello, everybody! I will admit that after I had applied a new template to this blog, thinking it would encourage me to blog more, it had the opposite effect: I blogged even less. I still write the occasional blogpost for Webshoo as well as the weekly blogpost for SQPN's Catholic Weekend, but as far as my own blogs here on Blogger and my even more neglected blog at LiveJournal... well, let's just say I found other things to do besides commit my thoughts to computer.

So today, right after the recording and livestream of the latest episode of Catholic Weekend was completed, I decided, on a whim, to apply a different template to my blog. I figured KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) would be a great place to start. So I applied a very plain simple template (the one you're seeing now). I will work on updating links, cutting out old links and putting in new ones. I see a lot of old links on the right-hand sidebar that will need to be trimmed.

That will happen gradually. In the meantime, here's one blogpost. I hope to be able to come up with more in the days to come. Thanks for reading! xxx

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lenten Sacrifices

Colourful Mardi Gras beads hang on a fence in a Durham, NC neighbourhood. Photo taken by Lyn Francisco using the ProHDR app on an iPhone 4

With today being Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday, naturally one’s mind starts turning towards Lent, which begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. Many people start talking about what they’ll be giving up for Lent as a kind of personal sacrifice. I’ll admit to you that I don’t recall having had such a tradition growing up. I do remember abstaining from meat on Fridays and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I also remember abstaining from meat and eating less during Holy Week. We spent more time praying during Lent. I recall praying the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross with my mom and brother. I also remember the Rice Bowl tradition: spare change goes into the Rice Bowl, and whatever is accumulated there during Lent would be donated to help feed the hungry.

I’ve heard many of my friends say they’ll give up things like playing video games, Candy Crush, Facebook, and the usual chocolates, soft drinks, potato chips, etc. For me, since it really hasn’t been a part of my tradition, instead of giving something up, I’m planning to add something. It will be a variation on the Rice Bowl theme. Whenever I have a meal outside, whether or not I buy my own meal or if a friend buys the meal, I’ll put the amount of the meal into the bowl. Whatever is in the bowl by the Triduum (Maundy Thursday/Good Friday/Easter Vigil) will be donated to Catholic Relief Services through their Rice Bowl program. Of course, I’ll also abstain from meat on Fridays. Considering the activities I have in church on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, I’m not sure I’ll fast (we can’t have the organist fainting on the bench during the service!) but if I do, I’ll be sure to time my meal such that I’ll ensure I’ll have the energy to do the jobs I have to do on those days.

The other day, I downloaded CRS’ Rice Bowl App. (By the way, it’s available on iTunes and Google Play.) I’ll definitely be using this app during Lent.

What Lenten practices are you planning to do this year? Please feel free to let me know in the comments section!

Friday, February 28, 2014

In an Orgelbüchlein mood...

I'll have to admit: today was the first time in a while I cracked open my copy of the Orgelbüchlein. There some lovely pieces in there that have been a part of my repertoire for years. It was nice to dust off O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß (BWV 622; Oh Man, bewail your great sins) and even nicer to know it won't take me as long to get it back in my hands and feet. It's one of my favourite pieces to play during Lent. One of my friends quipped that it was essentially Jesus Christ's entire life in one song. I certainly can't argue with that! The first time I had heard this piece, it was love at first listen. It has a gorgeous melody line, and it just falls in the hands and feet so comfortably. I'm planning to play this as a prelude for either Lent I or Lent II.

The first piece I learned how to play out of the Orgelbüchlein was Christ lag in Todesbanden (BWV 625; Christ lay in the bonds of death). I'm so glad my organ teacher had insisted I learned how to play this piece! It's my go-to piece as either a postlude for Easter Vigil or prelude for Easter Sunday. On the rare occasion I'm asked to play a funeral, I'll also play this piece as a postlude.

One piece I've always wanted to learn how to play was O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig (BWV 618; Oh innocent Lamb of God). I spent some time earlier this evening playing through it. I think I can do this! With some practice, I'm hoping to be able to play this piece as a prelude for Lent V or Palm Sunday.

There are so many treasures in J.S. Bach's 'Little Organ Book'. Hopefully, one of these days, I'll be able to get more of these pieces into my repertoire. I don't really play all that many of them. Other pieces I've learnt include Jesu, meine Freude (BWV 610; Jesus, my joy), In dir ist Freude (BWV 615; In you is joy), and Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (BWV 639; I call to you, Lord Jesus Christ).

I'll close this post with a YouTube video of organist Wolfgang Zerer playing O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig. At least hearing this, I have hope that I'm not too far from having this playable in time!