Sunday, August 3, 2008

Personal news.....

I regret that I have not posted something more meaningful. I have a few things of a personal nature to pass along...

I have had inquiries as to whether the blog is working. I was first locked out of my blogger account because of a major snafu with Blogger which mistakenly thought my, and many other legitimate blogs, were spam-blogs. I couldn't post for 24 hours and when I could, had to deal with the Sitemeter debacle which has since been rectified. I'll be adding the code back soon.

First and foremost, my time has been occupied by my mother's hospitalization. She suffers from a low blood count and periodically needs to go in for evaluation and transfusions. She has been there since Thursday and is in very good spirits and doing quite well. The doctors have decided to keep her to do more studies on her heart and some other things that may be making her anemia worse. Prayers are appreciated, most especially for the graces to always accept God's will for us, whether we are the patient, or the family supporting the patient.

Times like these can be challenging, but they also bring about opportunities for growth. There are opportunities for patients to offer up suffering and families to offer up the sacrifice of their time. It all goes full circle and sooner or later, most of us will be on the receiving end of a lesson in humility - to accept help and service from others.

I am involved in many things at Assumption Grotto. Since 2005, I have been active in the Assumption Grotto Choir, and I am a secular Carmelite. I have been collecting various audio recordings which need to be edited before they can be made available to people and have a major backlog. As you know, I have served as parish photographer for events and of course have this blog, and several others that have occupied some of my time. In addition, I dabbled in video last year only to find that it was so time intensive to work with, and took up so much computer space (very rapidly), that I had to set that aside.

I also have other projects in the works that I have not had time to get off the ground, many of them involving writing and web work. I took a break from choir last year for one series of Orchestra Masses and managed to get some writing going. But, I got back into choir and simply could not get to the writing. This is not blog-writing, but other things of perhaps a more professional nature. This too is time intensive as it requires sifting through many books and materials and I need long periods of time in which to get absorbed.

Following Bishop Schneider's visit, during holy hour, I finally concluded that I need to take an indefinite break from choir. I was very much at peace with it. As much as I love being in the choir - the sense of family that I have there, the excellent learning opportunities from several highly skilled people, including Fr. Perrone, and just a whole lot of fun, I can no longer ignore the pull towards these writings. Once a month or so, I need to take advantage of the 6:30am Mass on Sunday and after a holy Hour, have breakfast and coffee with my mother, then head home to those writings.

I'm not running from anything, but running to something - silence and solitude where God-willing, I will have the graces to do things I'm not really trained or educated to do.

I am also cutting back in other ways, such as backing down on video work (mainly due to lack of computer space and time), limiting my photography in some areas, while taking on new things in other areas. The focus will remain on liturgical and devotional life at Assumption Grotto.

I also have a business that I started three years ago that I have not done anything with and will lose it if I don't show progress soon. It began when people wanted to purchase photos from me and I could not sell them in any quantity without charging taxes and other basics. The Grotto giftshop has agreed to take some framed pictures wholesale and this income can be used to help support the work I do which is growing more costly all the time (especially where I need comptuer software, hardware and photography equipment). It will also support our parish giftshop.

I'm also exploring the possibility of offering some paid photographic services. People keep asking me to do homeschooler portraits, First Communion portraits, weddings and more. So far, I have turned down mos things or have been unable to commit. I need funds to support my work so this may be the way to do that. Further, things at my company are shaky, and I'm hoping to survive yet another round of layoffs. It's possible I may need to lean on photograhy for a living if not in the near future, then down the road.

I'm seeing 300-500 global visits daily on this blog (far greater number of page views), depending on the season, the day of the week, and whether there is some major event happening, like the Pope visiting the US. I need to make a change and if I lose some readers, that's ok. I have to go on principle. Many hits come through google searches on specific topics. I eventually want to migrate to which has been dormant for quite some time. It stalled on account of Summorum Pontificum which forever changed the vision for the site. It will now be used to house many of my major writing projects and some other things to promote reverence in the liturgy and virtue in life.

It is so easy to get caught up in the news of the day that there is no time for spiritual reading or study. This is especially true if you find yourself attracted to what I call the "scandal of the day" type news. That is, the most outrageous thing happening out there in the Church. Trust me - I'm speaking from experience....our lower human nature feeds on these things and takes time from doing more God-pleasing things. It is our higher spiritual nature we should be feeding.

I found that kind of stuff making me bitter, angry and cranky with others who didn't get it. If you have an ounce of charity lacking, it will come out when you try to discuss good and just changes in the liturgy with those not yet graced with authentic understanding of liturgy. Catechesis ought not happen with a verbal baseball bat, digs or slams, but with love and respect, ever mindful of the dignity of the person (even if they are completely off base and being uncharitable themselves).

A couple of years ago I was challenged by the good priests at my parish, in particular, those of the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross - the same order of which Bishop Schneider is a member. Several had told me it was not a good use of time to propogate all of the bad things happening in far corners of the Church. It didn't have to do so much with trying to keep it all hidden. Rather, their focus was on what was good for my spiritual advancement, and the advancement of others. That kind of content was good for neither.

Back then I was encouraged by the good priests to elevate the writings of others - in particular the greatest writers in the Church. I have been telling myself, "tomorrow" for over two years now. I thank God they challenged me and now I need to act on it. That means fewer, but more robust posts. Instead of posting daily, I will probably be working for days on a single post before you see it. I feel the need to take Te Deum Laudamus on a deeper spiritual path, with richer, original writings that reference writers far greater than myself. We will see what the Saints, the Fathers, and the Doctors of the Church, the Popes, the CCC and various other documents have to say on targeted subjects.

Te Deum Laudamus captures the heart and soul of Assumption Grotto - a place where I learned to seek the face of God in the Mass. First and foremost, this blog will continue to witness the beauty of liturgical and devotional life at Grotto through photoposts.

I will still be following certain blogs - most especially that of Fr. Z, the New Liturgical Movement, and a few others. I encourage you to do the same if you want to know what is happening on the liturgical front.

If you really want to know what is going on around the Church, follow the resources many bloggers do to get their content: Zenit, Vatican Information Service (VIS) CWNews, LifeSiteNews, LifeNews, Catholic News Service (USCCB), Catholic News Agency.

I ask God to grace all of my readers with a desire to grow in the spiritual life through good reading online, and in books.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!