I am taking a break from Christmas prep to enjoy the St. Augustine's Advent concert videos. Kevin is so good to me, getting these uploaded in the midst of many things to do. Deep breath and focus on Jesus, then back to work. :)
Occasionally one has experiences that lift the spirit, feed one's soul, and ya get 'warm fuzzies'. Yesterday's German Mass and Oktoberfest at St. Joseph's in Detroit was just such an occasion. Those magnificent old churches in the downtown area are trying valiantly to stay open to serve the faithful and minister to the surrounding (often blighted) communities. The priests and their tireless, little flocks are heroic.
Besides the ethereal beauty of the church, St. Joseph has marvelous acoustics. They take their strong German heritage seriously and when your archbishop is fluent in German, and your choir world class, you have an incredibly beautiful German Mass to kick off your Oktoberfest.
Archbishop Vigneron assisted by Deacon Joseph Lennon (who baptized Regina.) It was a pleasure to see the deacon again!
Our St. Augustine's Schola was invited to sing in the afternoon choral section of the Oktoberfest.
The younger kids and friends having Oktoberfest fun while the schola rehearsed. It's possible Dad was enjoying German beer over in the beer tent.
This was during rehearsal, which the kids told me was abysmal. Usually this means the performance will be outstanding, and it was!
Here is Dr. Russell's note from this morning:
Dear St. Augustine's Families:
Our Schola's participation in the Ninth Annual Sacred Concert at St. Joseph's in Detroit was a rousing success! The audience, especially those who were not associated with the program, were so surprised and delighted that they led a standing ovation for the choir.
This is a great tribute to the fifty or so students and their families who were able to contribute their time and efforts to presenting (for the first time outside of our dear Old St. Patrick's Parish) what an excellent youth choir can do with the riches of the Church's musical treasures. To perform in such a large and classically beautiful church as St. Joseph's was an honor and a learning experience in itself. It was clear that the students realized they were in a completely different league when they could hear how much breath and vocal control it would take to fill the magnificent and soaring nave, typical of a European cathedral. But they rose to the occasion beautifully and certainly held their own against much more extensively trained small adult choirs!
Father Perrone of Assumption Parish, the most recognized priestly musician/composer in the Detroit Archdiocese, held himself as amazed at what Mrs. Campbell and the Schola has accomplished.
Thank you all for your participation; especial thanks to Mrs. Campbell and Jihye Kim for their wonderful work; and grateful thanks to the mothers who coordinated our trip to Detroit and all of the fun of the Oktoberfest! The whole venture was put together on a shoe-string yet it provided, I hope, a wonderful and lasting memory for each student, family, and listener.
Several difficult events, illuminating conversations, and the good influence of friends have converged this summer, all pointing to a longing for beauty around me. Beauty, peace and goodness. Life is hard, our culture can be ugly and I need to fortify my family with what is good, true and beautiful. People are hurting and the love of God and His beautiful gifts to us will carry us through the pain. Then we return the glory to Him.
In our homeschool, history and literature come easily, they are our natural favorites. Math is a given because we all know we must plug away at it. Living in the boonies, even nature study pretty much comes right to our door. However, what is beautiful often gets set aside for what seems to be more urgent in many aspects of our home life. Function over form. My pragmatic nature will quickly chose what is practical over what is beautiful. But what if I can chose both?
My intention is to plan for beauty. But beauty and charm can be expensive. I have to be creative to stay within the practical.
We are surrounded by lovely parks and walking trails. Lets keep nature notebooks again. And take the time to fill them. Our shelves are lined with good books, lets step away from the screens and read them. There are plenty of able bodies here to tidy and clean, we can't redecorate but we can polish it all up! We have easy access to beautiful music right on our CD shelf, not to mention our children's voices. Lets be quiet sometimes and listen. Great art is balm to the soul, lets slow down and study the details.
I have never been a crafty mom, and Pinterest makes my eye twitch. But I have a few old art project books here. With two little girls who love to craft, and two talented big girls, surely we can make our own beautiful creations. Our boys have pretty creative minds too. Let me see what I can find that will interest them!
Homeschooling, homemaking and mothering are all so intricately linked that little touches of beauty in one small area can spill over and permeate other details of home life. Much of it will be intentional, much of it will just be a more observant eye and appreciation for what is already there.
What is beautiful, is comforting and strengthening. What is good and true and beautiful directs our hearts to God and that is the greatest comfort of all.