An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Friday, September 29, 2017

Tales of an Altar Server

Behind the scenes of an altar server make for some great stories. And even the not so behind scenes, the ones front and center in view of the entire parish, such as trying to light the altar candles when they keep going out, or almost lighting your sleeve on fire, or ringing the bells during Mass at the wrong time.

Believe it or not, there is a lot of drama going on behind the altar before Mass starts -- the hustle and bustle of getting changed in a small area, the dispensing of job assignments, the rush to find a replacement for a server who didn't show up, and the running around with last minute requests (a glass of water, forgotten notes, a tissue).

Altar Server Stories. That's what we call them around here ...

Holy Smoke!

Recently my son had to serve at a funeral, something he has done on several occasions. This time, however, he was the lead and for the first time had to prepare the thurible with incense. He wasn't sure of amounts, so to be safe he put in a little extra of everything.

Holy smoke! That wasn't smoke gently wafting toward the heavens; it was a veritable thundercloud hovering overhead. Afterwards the priest said, "A little heavy there on the incense."

No kidding.

Teetering Candles

The problem: a brand new processional candle didn't fit snugly into the candle holder, thus causing it to wobble (not a good thing when it's lit and you're processing into the church). So an intense discussion ensued on how to stop the candle from wobbling.

Picture, if you will, three boys huddled around a candle and a candle holder, with a box of matches, melting the bottom of the candle with the hopes that once inserted into the candle holder it will stick.

They light matches. They drip wax. Then Timothy, determined to make that darn thing stick in place, exerted a little too much pressure and the brand new candle snapped right in half. Now picture, if you will, three boys looking at each other in horror.

Then it was confession time. Timothy went to the priest, told him what happened, and the priest laughed and said, "Don't think anything about it. Here's another brand new candle. Have at it."

Fire Safety

There is a certain finesse to carrying a candle without burning your bangs, or lighting a candle without catching your sleeve on fire. Candles, matches, fire. An altar server knows fire safety. Why, just look at my son lighting a match right next to that box of tissues. Safety first.

Eyes Wide Open

"Nonnno says he can sleep with his eyes wide open," announces Nicholas.

I think Nonno is pulling your leg," I reply.

"Actually, I can do that," says Jonathan. "Sometimes, when I am altar serving, it's like I regain consciousness and the homily is halfway over. That's why I like to alter serve ... it helps the time go by quickly."

Your Turn

Do you have any Altar Server Stories? Do tell ...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Writing, Fall, Waiting

The past few months I faced a looming deadline which was all sorts of scary, but wonderful, too. Yesterday I met the deadline and closed my laptop. And so now I wait ... and decorate for fall.

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Presentation on Michelangelo's Pieta`

During an information session before our Girls' Trip to Italy two years ago, I gave a small presentation on Michelangelo's Pieta`. Since today is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, I thought I'd share part of my presentation with you.

Michelangelo's Pieta`
(an excerpt of a presentation by Maria Novajosky)

Things to note when pondering Michelangelo's Pieta`...

1. Mary’s body is larger than Christ’s because Michelangelo wanted her to be able to cradle the body of her crucified son. To achieve this, Michelangelo gave Mary a large lap by sculpting her garments as a sea of cascading fabric.

2. In cradling her son, notice that Mary’s right hand does not come into direct contact with his flesh. This symbolizes the sacredness of Christ’s body.

3. Unlike most artists of the time, Michelangelo focuses on the triumph of Christ’s atonement rather than the sorrow of his death. For this reason, he made Christ’s wounds small, allowing us to focus on the faces of Mary and Jesus instead of his suffering; in fact, it’s almost as if Jesus is in a deep slumber rather than dead.

4. Mary seems very young … too young to be the mother of a grown man. At the time, Michelangelo defended this by saying that because she was born without sin, her youth reflects her sinless state; furthermore, in choosing to sculpt a young Mary, Michelangelo was highlighting her son’s triumph over age and death.

5. Note that Mary is sorrowful, but not grieving. This suggests that Mary, who represents us all, reminds us that we do not have to mourn for Christ; that he is risen and we can grow young again through his sacrifice on the cross. Although a sorrowful scene, it is one full of hope.

6. You will also notice Mary’s sash that stretches diagonally across her chest. When Michelangelo finished the Pietà, it was an immediate success. People flocked from near and far to come see it. One day Michelangelo was standing in the crowd when he heard some pilgrims attributing his work to a lesser known sculptor. Michelangelo was so incensed that he returned that night and chiseled into Mary’s sash the words "Michelangelo Buonarroti of Florence made this" and to this day it remains Michelangelo’s only signed work.

7. Finally, the movement of the entire sculpture cascades downward, much like a waterfall: Mary’s garments, the weight of Christ’s limbs, even Mary’s face as it gazes down at her lifeless son. But Mary’s left hand, open and turned upward, counterbalances the rest of the sculpture by symbolizing the resurrection of Christ, the continuum of hope, and maybe even the act of letting go – Mary offering her son to mankind.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Life Lately (what I can't do and can't say; lunch in a hurricane; working out with words; rocking the ordinary)

1- I can't hum

This past weekend, while we watched The Weather Channel nonstop as we waited for Hurricane Irma, we all played Cranium. If you don't know, Cranium is a multi-activity game in which teams race around the board completing different activities -- some of which include sculpting with clay, acting, solving puzzles, and humming. Yes, humming, in which your team has to guess the title of the song you are trying to hum.

Ummmm ... I can't hum.

That is, I can hum gibberish, but give me something like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and it sounds like something from Aerosmith.

Of course, it doesn't help that I am laughing maniacally.

2- I also can't NOT say anything

Does that even make sense? In Cranium, charades is another activity and everyone knows that when you play charades you are NOT ALLOWED to talk. Geeze Louise. I try to keep my mouth shut, but then I hum or make sound effects. And then I laugh and since my mouth is open -- I can't help it!! -- a word pops out. Not THE word I'm trying to act out, but something helpful.

3- Timothy knows how to set the mood

Last night Timothy ran around gathering candles and matches. Then he placed the candles on our coffee table, arranging them just so. He turned off all the lights.

All this to watch British Top Gear. (If you don't know, that's a car show.)

4- What I'm listening to

Okay. Unlike most normal people who like to listen to music while they work out, I listen to audiobooks. It's what works for me. I cannot tell you how many times I've extended my workout just to hear what happens next. Or sometimes, I purposely stop at a cliffhanger so that the next day I am DYING to work out just so I can hear the rest of the story.

Currently I am listening to Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I read the book last year, LOVED IT, and as an audiobook I'm loving it all over again. The British accents, the singing, and the acting keep me riveted.

And working out.

(On a side note, there are a couple of sad scenes which had me in tears. So then I'm working out and CRYING and everyone thinks I'm certifiably nuts. Whatever.)

5- Alleluia Rocks

My sister has an Etsy Shop called Alleluia Rocks where she sells hand painted rocks. She's very talented. So many ideas on how to use rocks: Papers blowing in the wind? Use as a paperweight. Planters a little blah? Nestle rocks in the soil. Is someone having a bad day? Send an inspirational rock. Decorating for Christmas? I love the brown Nativity rocks. Recently I ordered the "Give Thanks" rocks which I will use as place settings on my Thanksgiving table.

6- The Italians

This past Monday, the very day in which our area was hit with pounding rain and ferocious winds (the effects of Hurricane Irma), my mother planned a small luncheon. Here were the people invited: Massimilla, Maria, Stella, and Italia (really and truly her name). How's that for a roundtable of Italian names? Anyway, no guys were included. Nonno was going to stay hidden in his workshop; Joe and the boys were going to have sandwiches.

Except ... in the middle of cooking my parents' house lost power. So my mom cancelled the lunch, brought everything over here to finish cooking, and then we all had a nice lunch together. Gals AND Guys.

7- What I'm doing today

Cleaning, cooking, writing, planning, working out.

Life lately ... just ordinary days.