Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Yes It Is

So I’m listening to my iPod tonight as I cook dinner. The “Beatles Softies” playlist is on and, without warning, “Yes It Is” starts playing.

My spicy tofu tomato sauce abruptly takes a back seat as I turn down the burners and simply listen to the 1965 lyrics:

I could be happy with you by my side,
If I could forget her.
But it’s my pride,
Yes it is,
Yes it is,
Oh, yes it is.

Suddenly, I am transported back to junior high. 8th grade is an explosive time in life. We’re just discovering feelings and stirrings inside of ourselves that we are ill equipped to deal with. It’s the 1960s and the decade’s “anything goes” spirit has touched even the yearlings who already see “do your own thing” as an emerging mantra.

I was a child of immigrant parents from the Philippines who were vainly trying to raise their children in traditional Filipino values that seemed to be at odds with psychedelic America.

There were several girls I had a crush on: Carol. Barbara. Leslie. And Patricia. I was the oldest in my family and had no big brother or uncle to look up to for advice in matters of the heart. All I had were television sit-coms, fellow classmates (equally puzzled!), and . . . the Beatles.

In their middle period –- Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver -– the Beatles were still singing unabashed boy-meets-girl love songs. The social consciousness and maturity of Sgt. Pepper and The White Album were in the not-too-distant future. But in 1966, the Fab Four were singing “Please come on back to me. I’m lonely as can be. I need you!”

Understand, there was a lot of peer pressure in 8th grade for the guys to find a girlfriend. Couples were sitting together at lunch, girls’ books were being carried by guys, and a quarterly school dance was the hot ticket of the day. But I was na├»ve and sheltered. I didn’t even notice that Patricia had an interest in me until her girl friends started dropping hints. “Hey, Ken! When are you gonna get together with Pat?”

I was flattered by the attention but I tried to ignore it. My mother had tried her best to warn me against the “dangers” of “dating” so young. I was nothing, if not a good son. But it was Patricia’s birthday, and she was having a party, and even though she didn’t officially invite me, it was “understood” that my presence would be expected.

Of course, I heard about her party. Of course, I wanted to be there. Patricia and I had already started seeing each other at lunch. I was already carrying her books as we walked home from school. But go to her party? What would my parents say?

So when Pat’s friends knocked on my door on the afternoon of the party, asking “Aren’t you going?” –- what else could I do? I looked around for something nice in the house, wrapped it as a gift, put on my best shirt, and walked to Patricia’s house –- without telling my mom!

I was greeted at the door as a hero! All the girls in my class were there, with their boyfriends. They all beamed at me approvingly. Pat had already told her parents about me and they welcomed me warmly. It was a cool party! Everyone talked and joked and we were all so glad to be there.

And then the record player started playing the hits of the day: the Supremes, the Dave Clark Five, the Beach Boys, Petula Clark and . . . the Beatles. “Ticket to Ride” was the mega hit of the past summer and, on the flip side of that 45 single, there was the melancholy ballad, “Yes It Is.”

It was a slow song, perfect for a slow dance. Patricia and I held each other and slow danced to “Yes It Is.” In my middle school mind, time froze. I felt as if a spotlight was shining on us and everyone stopped dead in their tracks to watch Pat and me. At that point in time, everything felt right in my world. Beautiful, red-haired Pat and me. It was a moment that I still treasure to this day.

Pat and I became very close after that. We sat next to each other in class and walked home together often. We talked about the future, where we were going for high school. But there was another draw in my life at that time. I had decided to go to a high school seminary and consider the priesthood as my calling.

Middle school emotions are raw and underdeveloped. I don’t think Pat took my going to the seminary very well. Of course! We slowly went our own ways. I was going to the seminary. She was left out in the cold -- or so I thought. We never really talked about it or even said goodbye. Hey, we were only kids! But I have always felt pangs of regret every time “Yes It Is” starts playing on the radio or in my iPod.

Please don’t wear red tonight.
This is what I said tonight.
For red is the color that my baby wore,
And what’s more,
It’s true.
Yes, it is, it’s true.

Yes, it is, it’s true.

Whither, My Blog?

I don't really know if people are actually reading this blog. After all, I only write sporadically. When I started this blog, I had not yet been on Facebook or Twitter. Those social networks are much easier to maintain. 140 characters on Twitter? No prob! Witty one-liners on Facebook. I can do that!

Blogs are a lot more work: not only complete sentences but also complete paragraphs. Heck, complete cohesive thoughts! And then there's the pressure I put upon myself in my role as a Catholic composer and author. My fellow Catholic composers all seem to write profound insights that are inspiring and uplifting. Good Lord, are they like that every single moment of the day? I know I am not.

Hey, I'm just a poor wayfaring stranger, traveling through this world of woe. (That's a line from an old American folk song that we used to sing at Mass in the 1960s, by the way.) Certainly, my faith is important to me. Jesus Christ is the driving force in my life. But I am a complex human being trying to balance my faith with the pull of the world and the way my life is unfolding as I enter the cusp of senior citizenship.

I have always believed that we can find the sacred in the secular. That is what the Incarnation is about. That is what the Folk Mass was about, and what contemporary Christian and Catholic music try to sing about. Ultimately, that is what religion has tried to be about.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: Instead of trying to find something profound to say on the Internet that will lead readers to the transcendence of God, I feel a lot more comfortable writing about my earthly experience and somehow finding God's presence in that.

And so my blogging begins anew. . .

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Friend, Matthew

It is with a heavy heart that I write this reflection on my little friend, Matthew the cat, my faithful companion who was taken from me so suddenly on August 25. He had just returned home after being locked up in the local animal shelter for five days. How he got there is a mystery. The staff told me some kindly person found Matthew wandering in the street and turned him in, thinking he was a stray. Luckily, he had the implanted ID chip, and the staff was able to contact me.

Oh, how Matthew loved being home again! He followed me around the house and wouldn’t let me out of his sight. After I treated him to his favorite canned salmon dinner, he meowed to go outside so he could once again roam free, see his feline friends, and climb fences and trees. As much as he enjoyed being with me, he also loved his freedom.

A few years ago, in my old Spirit Spot column on spiritandsong.com, I told the story of how Matthew adopted me. Re-reading it now makes me realize what a gift he was to me.

Of St. Francis, Sister Moon and Brother Cat

Last Thursday morning, we rose at 6:30 as usual, with Matthew hopping on my bed and gently nudging me awake to feed him. I then let him out and watched as he jumped onto the back fence and surveyed his world, his tail wagging happily. At 8:45 I went upstairs to get a book. Matthew was lying down at one of his favorite spots at the top of the stairs and his presence made me smile. Then I looked at him more closely. Something was wrong. Although his head was down, his eyes were wide open and he was not breathing. I called my vet and she said to bring him in right away.

I drove to the pet hospital as fast as I could. Matthew was a favorite of the staff, and they ushered us quickly into the examining room. The doctor checked for signs of life but she only confirmed my fear. She looked up at me gently. “I’m sorry . . .”

I am a pastoral ministry professional and very familiar with the five stages of grief. The shock that washed over me was mixed in with a little anger. How? How could this happen? Matthew was not even 5 years old. In his last check-up, the doctor gave him a clean bill of health. She said she has seen sudden death in young cats before. We discussed the possibility that Matthew might have ingested something toxic in the neighborhood. It is the risk that owners of outdoor cats take in allowing them free range.

The staff allowed me a few minutes alone. As I scratched Matthew gently behind his ears one final time, I thanked him for the privilege of being his friend. I blessed his body, pulled the white blanket over his head, and walked away slowly.

My house now seems a little emptier. Matthew’s food dish and water bowl are still in their usual place, and his favorite toys are scattered in every room. I catch myself in tears every now and then. Crying for a cat! And why not? After all, Matthew was my friend, my loyal companion. I was looking forward to his growing old along with me, with his purring presence a soothing balm for the passing years. Now, no more.

Memories flood my mind. On Sunday afternoons, when I returned home from church after a long morning of liturgies, Matthew was always waiting for me at the porch. He would hop on the hood of my car as I parked. I held out my fist to him, in the “fist bump” greeting that is exchanged between buddies. Matthew always walked up to me and bumped his little head on my fist.

Regular listeners of my weekly Liturgy Podcast have learned to expect surprise cameos from Matthew as he would sometimes sneak up behind me during a recording and meow into the microphone. Matthew often took walks with me in the neighborhood, and he delighted in showing off his athletic prowess by suddenly scampering up a tree that we passed by.

Occasionally, I would get a knock on my door. “Is that your white cat?” a new neighbor might ask. “Well, he just invited himself into my house!” Yes, Matthew was the unofficial Welcome Committee of the neighborhood.

What I found most endearing about Matthew is how he was always interested in what I was doing. If I was working at my computer, he would hop onto my desk and sit next to the laptop as I typed away. And boy, did he love music! He enjoyed my piano playing and always came into my studio whenever I played Bach. I actually tested this out a few times. When Matthew was in the hall outside my music room I would play rock or jazz and get no response. But whenever I played Bach, we walked right in and sat at my feet, his tail wagging gently to the music.

I will never again play “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” without thinking of my cat.

Matthew taught me a lot about enjoying life and enjoying the moment. His enthusiasm was always contagious. More than anything else, he taught me about loyalty. What a friend I had in Matthew!

Although he is no longer with me physically, Matthew will always live on in my heart. I have been writing down the stories of his many adventures over the past three years, and my plan was to someday write a children’s book. “Someday” needs to happen sooner than later. My book on Matt the Cat is all I have left of my little pal. Stay tuned.

St. Francis’ heavenly animal preserve just got brighter. Matthew, thank you for being my friend.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Folk Mass: 1968

This is the original draft of the Introduction to my book, Keep the Fire Burning: The Folk Mass Revolution. I eventually decided on a different Intro but this draft serves as a remembrance of my very first Folk Mass when I was a sophomore at Queen of Angels High School Seminary, Mission Hills, California.


In 1968 the world was a mess. The spring assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were followed by urban unrest and a violent Democratic convention in Chicago. The Soviet Union had crushed out dissent in Poland and Czechoslovakia. Millions were starving in Biafra as bloodshed escalated in the endless war in Vietnam. Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on birth control, drew the ire of progressive Catholics and was widely ignored.

Within the cloistered confines of Queen of Angels High School Seminary, this global turmoil was far removed. It was time for morning meditation, and the seminarians were supposed to focus on the spiritual platitudes from their olive green prayer book. But all that went out the window on this glorious autumn morning. There was a definite buzz in the air, a tangible excitement that sliced through the mandatory silence like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Here at the minor seminary of the conservative Archdiocese of Los Angeles, we were going to celebrate our very first Folk Mass!

I was a rowdy sophomore, ill at ease in my black-and-white boarding school uniform. Most of us seminarians, despite our fresh-faced youth, were already professional liturgists. We prayed a modified version of the Divine Office together morning, noon, evening and night. We celebrated Mass daily at 6:30 am, sometimes in silence, but usually in song with the seminary’s grand pipe organ swelling out in the “four hymn” mode so prevalent in the mid-1960s. On feast days we sang High Mass with Jan Vermulst’s Mass for Christian Unity. Occasionally, we sang in chant, and our alma mater was the beautiful Gregorian “Ave Maria.” But on this memorable morning, as Father Ready and the altar servers processed out of the sacristy, our voices rang out with a fire that we never before experienced at liturgy.

Come, let us worship the Lord, our God.
Come, sing praise to his name . . .

The accompaniment was simply three acoustic guitars and an upright bass, without a microphone, and the student musicians stood in the back of chapel, behind the assembly. Their stirring blend reminded me of my favorite Peter, Paul & Mary records. There was no cantor. In fact, that word had not yet been applied to Catholic liturgy. The momentum of the singing was carried by our unabashed youthful enthusiasm. We were worshipping God with the sound of our generation!

Something was happening in our Church, something that was quite beyond our secluded existence in California’s San Fernando Valley. As I sang along with my brother seminarians, I glanced down at the copyright credits on our printed worship aid. Our music director, Monsignor Gerken, had taken care to do everything properly.

“Come, Let Us Worship” by Bro. Gregory Ballerino. Copyright © 1967 by the Gregorian Institute of America, Chicago, Illinois.

“They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love” by Fr. Peter Scholtes. Copyright © 1966 by F.E.L. Church Publications, Ltd., Chicago, Illinois.

These exciting songs came from the Midwest a year or two prior to our singing them. Clearly, an extraordinary Spirit was sweeping the land. After that first Folk Mass, my life would never be the same.

The story of the Folk Mass is a largely forgotten chapter in the history of liturgical renewal in the United States. The mere mention of those words brings a variety of reactions ranging from wistful nostalgia to the rolled eyes of outright derision. The Folk Mass movement has been blamed for everything from the allegedly poor state of liturgical music today to the beginning of the end for the sensus mysterii. It conjures up images of guitar-wielding nuns in modified habits, too-groovy-for-their-own-good priests, and liturgical experimentation gone haywire. And yet, for many American Catholics, the Folk Mass was the only tangible way that the Second Vatican Council came to life.

The Council was certainly groundbreaking. News accounts of the bishops’ deliberations filtered back to Americans by way of official condensed reports in their diocesan newspapers or in Xavier Rynne’s “eyewitness” accounts in The New Yorker. Terms like Sacrosanctum Concilium, “ecumenical dialogue,” and “The Church in the Modern World” were weighty and even intimidating to the average person in the pew. But celebrating Mass in English? That got people’s attention. Congregational singing? It was awkward at first, but people reluctantly caught on. Guitars and folk music? Good Lord! What next? The Folk Mass was either embraced whole-heartedly or rejected vehemently. For the former, it was the means by which a whole generation became personally involved with their Church. . .


Keep the Fire Burning: The Folk Mass Revolution
by Ken Canedo

Available on Amazon.com

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mary Magdalene: Early on Sunday

I was at the garden that morning,
Just weeping.

We women discovered the tomb empty.
After everything he’d been through,
his body was stolen away.
Even in death the humiliation persisted.

Someone approached me,
the gardener, I presumed.
Why are you weeping? he asked.

Sir, tell me where you have laid him
and I will take him away.

And then he called my name
with his unmistakable voice
that could penetrate right through
to a person’s soul.

He is alive!
Alive and smiling radiantly!
I was beside myself with joy!

He is alive!
He, who lifted me out of the depths
and called me to a fuller life!
He, who believed in me so profoundly
that I started believing in myself!
I rushed to embrace him.

Do not cling to me, he said gently,
for I have not yet ascended.
Go now to my brothers and tell them
I am ascending
to my Father and your Father . . .

Such news I could never keep secret!
I ran faster than I thought possible
to share my joy with Peter and the others.

They didn’t believe me.

Oh, they were polite and caring,
but I could see it in their eyes,
their faces.

They didn’t believe me!
Were they so defeated by the shock of his death
that they could not receive this good news?
I could almost be angry,
if I didn’t love them so.

Peter, dear Peter, did stir to life at my story.
He and John ran out to the tomb
to see for themselves.

He is alive!
I know this with every fiber of my being!
I saw him!

He is alive!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday: Break Through!

There is a sense of
on Holy Saturday,
a strangeness.

Pensively, I walk
through this day,

Two emotional nights
exhaust me:

Thursday’s mandate to wash feet.
Bread and wine, to remember him.
Intensive prayer, alone in his Eucharistic presence.

Friday’s stark cross
on which hung the Savior
of the world.

What do these things mean to me?

I think about his disciples
on that tumultuous first Holy Week,
going from Palm Sunday hosannas
to the shocking finality of his death.

How could it end this way?
What would become of them?
Were they now guilty by association?
Would they meet the same crucified fate?

I picture that primal Saturday
as a day of despair.

Something needs to break through
this void,
this emptiness,
this darkness.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday: A Fisherman's Perspective

Something went wrong.
They flocked to him for healing and wisdom.
He fed them with bread and fish,
four thousand at a time!
He kept them spellbound
with stories and parables.

Where are they now?

Something went wrong.
He was supposed to usher in a new kingdom
and re-establish Israel to its rightful place
in the community of nations.
He was the Messiah!
I was positive of it!
I was prepared to face imprisonment and death
for him!

Something went terribly wrong.
The crowd sang “Hosanna” just five days ago.
But they turned against him.
Today they were shouting,
“Crucify him!”
After all the miracles,
after all the hope he inspired,
they just stood there and watched him die!

Who am I kidding?
I’m one of “them,” too!
I, the chosen, the leader,
the one he called “Rock.”
I didn’t even have the courage
to stand up for him
when he needed me most.

I denied him!
I abandoned him!
I, who bragged so much about my loyalty!

How can I ever face anybody again?
How can he ever forgive me?

Something went so terribly wrong!
And yet –
What’s that he’s saying from the cross?

“Father, forgive them,
for they know not what they do.”

After everything he’s been through –
the false accusations,
the abandonment of his friends
the scourging and humiliation,
the excruciating pain
of being nailed to a cross –
after all this
he still has the heart to forgive!

I don’t know what lies ahead in the next few days.
I need time to make sense of all this.
It can’t end this way!

Yet, once again,
the Great Teacher is giving us a valuable lesson
in the midst of this terrible chaos:


Could that be what his bloody death is all about?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Thursday: Bread and Wine

Of all the signs and symbols
Jesus might have used
as a remembrance of his death,
he chose bread and wine.

No impressionistic brush strokes,
no detailed sculpture,
no soaring symphony,
no poem or novel,
no Hollywood blockbuster --
although all of these have,
at one time or another,
portrayed the Passion of Christ.

But Jesus chose
bread and wine,
the work of human hands.

We break bread to remember
his broken body.
We share the cup of wine to remember
his blood poured out for us.
Simple.  Powerful.
And totally unforgettable.

As profound in that Upper Room
as it is at St. Peter’s in Rome.
As impressive at a sports arena youth liturgy
as it is in a tent chapel on the battlefields of Iraq.
As meaningful at a hospital bedside
as it is at the parish down the street.

Wherever we celebrate the Eucharist,
whatever the circumstances,
it is Jesus that we recognize
in the breaking of the bread.

This is my body
which will be given up for you.
This is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.

So that sins may be forgiven!
Do this in memory of me.

The mystery of our faith!

Bread and wine.
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Contact

Birth of a Star (NASA photo)

Today on Twitter, the Star Trek community was celebrating First Contact Day. On April 5, 2063, Vulcans will land on Earth and establish their first contact with humans, as portrayed in the 1996 movie, Star Trek: First Contact. Live long and prosper!

The question posed to Trekkers today: What would you say to an extraterrestrial if you encountered one?

Before I go on, I need to state the obvious. Yes, I am a Trekker. I have followed the franchise enthusiastically since the days of the original TV series of the 1960s. Captain Kirk, Mister Spock, and their shipmates are archetypes for the geeks of my generation. After a brief flare-up of excitement in the 1970s with George Lucas’ first Star Wars trilogy, I returned to the Star Trek fold with the Next Generation series of the 1980s-90s, where the storytelling surpassed the original series in many aspects, including the stellar portrayals of Captain Picard and Commander Data.

Yes, I’m a geek and proud of it! My favorite TV show these days is The Big Bang Theory, where Sheldon Cooper and his gang revel in their Star Trek geekhood. Blessed are the geek, for they shall inherit the mirth!

But, to get back to the original question: What would I say to an extraterrestrial upon first contact?

(Note: I am not a trained scientist. Any science expressed in the following paragraphs may be fraught with error. End of disclaimer.)

First, I don’t believe an alien encounter will happen in my lifetime – if at all. The distances in the universe are too astronomically vast to allow for convenient interstellar travel. The laws of probability preclude any possibility that life as we know it even exists elsewhere in the universe. We humans exist because of a happy accident of our planet being in the right place at the right time – third rock from the sun, far enough away to cool down for life, but close enough to keep us warm. Of course, theologians say that is not an “accident,” but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The operative term is “life as we know it.” Okay, we carbon-based lifeforms have it made here on Earth, but what rule says that all lifeforms in this infinite universe have to be carbon-based? If we grant that a non-carbon-based lifeform came to Earth, chances are it would not be humanoid, despite what Star Trek and Star Wars say. It would most likely not have four limbs, or a head with a face that has two eyes, two ears, a nose, and a mouth. Therefore, communication with this hypothetical lifeform would be an impossibility. So, forget about having any kind of conversation.

Telepathy? Perhaps. But, again, that implies a commonality of brain synapses and basic concepts. That’s hardly likely. The bottom line is that our extraterrestrial would probably be too repugnant for us humans to even gaze upon it.

We also need to consider the whole idea of how our conjectural ET would even get to our planet. It is pretty well-established that there are no other intelligent beings in our own solar system. So any alien would have to travel from at least the next nearest star, Alpha Centauri, which is “only” 4.37 light years away from us, or 41.5 trillion kilometers. That means it would take our alien “only” 4.37 years to travel to Earth, if it were traveling at the speed of light. And that, my friends, is a physical impossibility, at least for our species. Granted, perhaps an intelligent race far more advanced than ours may have solved the faster-than-light problem. Even so, can you imagine how the stress of such speeds would affect a physical body?

Conversely, if light speed travel was not an option, travel time would go up exponentially. Our interstellar wayfarer would need to spend years, if not decades, getting from its star system to ours. It would need to be blessed with either extraordinary longevity, or travel with a family so that its offspring would carry on the mission after its demise. Or, it would need an excellent suspended animation technology.

Whatever the propulsion method, our wanderer would need to have a pretty darn good reason to endure the stress of space travel and come out all our way.

That brings up another question. Why would an alien race want to encounter the people of Earth? If we think of them as curious and benevolent explorers with a thirst for knowledge, we are assigning too much anthropology to them. We know from our earthly experience that the various lifeforms on this planet are always in search of energy sources – food! If the search for energy is a constant for existence, it would not be too far-fetched to think an extraterrestrial explorer is looking for “food.” Something unspeakably horrible must have happened on its homeworld to drive it all the way to our planet, and I can’t believe it would be just to satisfy intellectual curiosity.

Put it this way: Does the lion have an “intelligent” conversation with a zebra before chomping down on it?

Okay, I am painting the worst-case scenario. Let’s put aside, for a moment, the impossible distances, the species incompatibility, the communication barriers, and the threat of malevolence. Assuming an alien came to Earth and was humanoid enough to allow for some basic communication and understanding, what would I say to it?

I’m not a scientist, but I have studied theology, and it’s the theological possibilities that capture my imagination. I would ask our alien traveler such questions as:

Do you believe in a Supreme Being?
Do you believe you were created?
What is the meaning of your existence?
How does my existence alter your own existential viewpoint?
Will your existence be eventually terminated? If so, what happens to you after death?
Do you believe in another plane of existence that lies beyond your physical reality?

In other words, I would be dying to know if this alien believes in God. If so, how does its idea of God differ or align with mine?

And, has this alien’s God personally intervened in the history of its race. If so, how? Obviously, I am leading up to the whole question of Christ.

Such questions with an alien would surely open up a theological can of worms, but what a conversation that would be! Faith as we know it would either be majestically confirmed, or completely devastated. Am I treading on forbidden ground here?

But this is only conjecture. Given the near-impossibility of a meaningful extraterrestrial encounter, we will never know how such questions would be answered. Meanwhile, I do believe in a God who has personally intervened not only in human history, but also in my own life. That is totally unscientific and unmeasurable. But the existence of God can be reasoned by human intellect. Scripture and revelation confirm and expand upon that reasoning.

I believe my personal experience of grace is proof of God’s existence. My faith community bonds me with others who have had similar encounters with God’s goodness. And, perhaps, it is that spark of divine grace that could inspire an alien traveler to come all the way out here in search of something similar.

As Spock will someday say: “There are always possibilities.”

Note: When I recorded my DOXOLOGY CD a few years ago, I struggled with the album cover. I had composed songs in honor of the Most Holy Trinity, and what image could possibly do justice to the Triune God? By accident (or grace?), I stumbled upon a NASA image on the birth of a star, and I knew I had found my cover.

As Teilhard de Chardin wrote, the universe is singing!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Time goes so quickly as one gets older, and it is easy to just get bogged down in the overlapping tasks of our daily work. Sometimes, I feel like a submarine maneuvering through the dark murky abyss. I need to come up for air and light.

Welcome, Lent!

Everybody has a different response to Lent’s invitation, ranging anywhere between enthusiastic embrace, lukewarm acknowledgment, or outright dismissal. Known traditionally as a season of repentance and a time for fasting and self-denial, Cradle Catholics were raised with the concept of “giving something up” for Lent, a custom that started to lean more toward “doing something positive” in the post-Vatican II era.

I’m not here to pass judgment on anyone’s observance of Lent. But please allow me to share why the season is important to me.

First, I’m a Catholic. I like doing Catholic things. I love our liturgy and how the liturgical seasons call us to enter more deeply in the mysteries of Christ. The Catholic church is my family, and so I participate in family traditions. Gladly!

I would be the first to admit that I am not the ideal person I could be. God isn’t finished with me yet! Living alone as a writer and a composer, the temptation is strong to simply be isolated and bury myself in my work. I’m not an alcoholic, but I found out early as a young adult that I do have the drinker’s gene. Living alone and having that gene can be a volatile combination.

So it is good for me to give up alcohol for Lent as an affirmation that alcohol does not control me. When the urge to have a drink beckons, I drink water. And I pray.

Prayer is my “doing something positive” for Lent. It’s so easy to get out of practice when it comes to prayer. Lent calls me back. I look for more opportunities for prayer throughout each busy day. Prayer helps me get more centered, and in that center I deepen my relationship with God.

If I can give up alcohol and deepen my prayer life, that’s a lot! These are reachable and realistic Lenten goals. For inspiration, I look to Jesus’ forty days in the desert.

At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights. . .
(Matthew 4:1)

So Lent is my time to be led by the Holy Spirit and walk with Jesus in the desert. In that journey of self-denial, I hope to draw closer to God. For me, it’s as simple as that. And God is the simplest of all.

Blessed Lent to you!


Ash Wednesday: My Heart Belongs to God

Fasting has spiritual, physical benefits but also points to good works

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hello! Long time no blog!

Hey, there! I must apologize for not blogging in several months. My life has just been too busy and complicated lately, but I want to use Lent as an excuse to start up again. Expect a new blog next week. Meanwhile, enjoy this video game:

Arcade Games

Here is an old blog I wrote about video games on spiritandsong.com,