My Culture and My Faith Intertwined

Catholic

Sunday at Shrine of the Most Precious Blood, my parish, The Society of St. Anthony of Padua celebrated the Mass in honor the saint.  Tuesday the church itself will celebrate a Mass in honor of the saint, as Tuesday is the actual feast day of St. Anthony.

As the mix of Italian and English was filling the church, the statue of St. Anthony with lights all around it at the entrance visible when you first came in, the bread blessed and distributed at the end, everyone greeting everyone, even if they did not know each other, and people introducing you to others, it was beautiful.  It also brought home a very important point, maybe more than one.  It brought home to me that Catholicism is a major part of who I am, culturally whether I agree with all of the theology of the faith or not.  It is a very important part of me, what shapes me, who I am, the conservative side of me, also the spiritual side of me.  I have no problem saying I am of Christ, I am Christian, and yes I have had my crisis moments, my questioning moments, but I never turned my back on Christ.  The core of who I am remained the same throughout my journey and my connection the Trinity, the core of the Catholic faith never wavered, ever.  I have been also aware that as was pointed out last night in a Catholic anniversary program there has to be a periodic examination and renewal, so questioning is not problematic within itself.  However one thing I have realized is that the core principles of the faith are perfectly sound, logical and serve me well in my life should I adhere to them.  Appreciation for them and my culture is a true blessing, the church does and has recognized when it has faltered, even if not right away, but then do we immediately realize when we falter?  What are those principles that have guided me, that the saints have shown me?  There are a few:  

  • Make the journey of faith, really explore the Judeo-Christian faith from all facets, come to it and God with an open and willing heart, spirit and soul, and love
  • It’s okay to stumble along the way, just get up and keep going
  • Stand strong for and in who you are, a child of the Creator, and in Christ who gave his life for you
  • Discover your gifts, talents, purpose in that and how to best apply them for the good of society
  • Value family, cultural traditions, while still valuing progress and moving forward
  • Be a shinning example of faith and strength through faith, no matter what
  • Don’t ever be anything but who you are and are meant to be in Christ
  • Celebrate that every day of your life and help others to do so

As I continue in my work as an artist, and music coordinator for the church, I hope to learn more about myself, my faith, my culture all of that and grown in my relationship with the Trinity, as well align my own trinity in harmony, my heart, spirit and soul.

Amen

“Warrior” Soul, Huh?

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When one hears this phrase and one I have heard in reference to me, including as regards my faith and faith journey all kinds of stuff can come up.  What do I mean when I say a warrior soul?

My journey has brought me full circle to appreciate my love of Israel of the faith of my ancestors Catholicism and also realize politically etc… I lean more along the view of Evangelical Tea Party Protestants. At the same time I am not an overly religious person and often whether it’s to God, Christ any of the saints, most often I don’t use standard prayer,I just have meditative conversation, use visualization, but I do it every day.  I do it with firm faith that what I am putting forth in my prayers, making sure it is within the realms of optimistic realism and God’s sacred boundaries, will come to fruition!  That is one aspect of my “warrior soul”  Another aspect is that throughout my journey and as I explored where I was in the faith journey, I stood by the roots of what I felt was true the Christian core of faith and spirituality, those tenets of faith, God not as some impersonal inner thing, or just all of nature and creation, but a very personal being that took great care in creating everything, including laws of nature, gravity etc…Granted the RCC has gone more liberal and taken the Social Justice thing a bit too far as far as I am concerned, but the core I stand with.  When I stand with the core of the faith and the core of my Italian heritage  I won’t pick a fight, but I will stand firm and strong in defense of the faith, my heritage, and also an important part of that Israel.  My warrior soul is one that though can be as gentle and loving as most gentle breeze can also be as fierce in the battle to preserve and defend the core of who I am as the Archangel Michael.  Never is there any intent to harm, nor should there be, but there must be a strong compass point and you must be willing to, as loving a person as you are, to stand strong with your core.  Recently my Godmother told my mom she worried about me because I was too good a heart, I had not a conniving bone in me and the world being what it was she was worried.  My family knows I pretty much wear my heart, thoughts, feelings on my sleeve, but they fail to realize I have a warrior heart.  Yes I have that very sweet nurturing side, even yesterday if you would have seen me with a dear friend’s child I was very maternal, warm etc.., but when she was trying to put the crayons in her mouth, the protective mommy warrior soul came out and I firmly, very firm voice, a certain look, told her ‘No, crayons for coloring, not for eating” I took the crayon from her and then in gesture reinforced it.  The warrior soul needn’t be one that picks fights, seeks situations of conflict etc.., something like this is an example of a warrior soul, that protectiveness in this situation, and how it is handled.  When it comes to what I care about in terms of projects anything like that, anything related to my heritage and the faith, again, I will defend it, stand by it, flaws and all.  A warrior soul.

I am a warrior soul, but also with a great capacity to love, nurture all of that.  I will always be a warrior soul fighting for what means a lot to me, my heritage, my spiritual and artistic path.  Amen

Mass of Remembrance, Testament To My Heritage

Life and Liberty, God Bless America

The light shines within., going out in connection to the Divine Creator.

Yesterday we had a Mass of remembrance for the victims of Triangle Factory Fire in NYC, which took place in 1911 at Most Precious  Blood Church.  I would have liked to have seen more people there to honor the memory of these people, some as young as 14, but it was a moment of beauty and sadness both for me.

The beauty of the Mass, of the faith in the Risen Christ, in knowing that in their memory they have life and in Christ they have eternal life was a beautiful thing. I have explored spirituality from different pathways in my life, even most recently Judaism and I guess also when I see the evangelicals all excited prayer and all that it has a certain appeal for someone who is an artist, a songwriter, poet, all that.  Yesterday, I was reminded that faith and The Faith, living it, is not about being entertained, though I think a good Homily is always a good think and a great homily delivered by Priest with a great delivery, awesome, but rather about wisdom.  It is about remembering that we are Catholic, not like other denominations.  We place emphasis on reason, on inductive and deductive reasoning to understand the faith, the Bible, God, the Trinity, life, all that, as much as we do faith.  The core of what makes us Catholic, unmarried religious, sacraments, the structure of the Mass really matter, Lenten traditions and within that cultural traditions all matter.  As I participated in that Mass yesterday and as we then read the names of those victims, with Amazing Grace playing in the background, it made appreciate the beauty of my heritage, of my Roman Catholic heritage.  Does the Institution have flaws, yes, do individuals within the institution have flaws, hell yeah, for remember we all fall short, all, of the glory of God.  I don’t expect the Institution or individuals in it to be perfect, people of overall ethics, integrity, yes, perfect, hell no.  I don’t believe in unicorns or any of that, haven’t for a while in life.  I do believe in the Risen Christ and appreciate my heritage, the Roman Catholic faith included and beauty of a Mass with dignity, not a lot of shouting, clapping etc.. needed, but rather beauty and dignity.

Amen

 

Life, Creative Partner, BFF

Life and Liberty, God Bless America

The light shines within., going out in connection to the Divine Creator.

When I think of a partner, I think of someone who will see me as his equal and who I will see as my equal.  What does that mean?  

Doesn’t mean what crap modern feminists today mean as equal.  I have enough sense to understand that if God wanted me to be a guy I would have been born a guy, so I am not going to try and in any way show out of some warped sense of ego I am better than men or take revenge on the male species for “years of oppression” crap over my gender stuff.  When I think of an equal partner, this is what I mean.  

I mean a man who shares the faith  and culture of my ancestors and that I grew up with perhaps, a man who shares my creative dreams and path.  It would be someone I can share these kinds of projects and activities with on a day to day basis, with whom I could share a similar spiritual life with.  We would create, write, produce, record together. even perform together. There would be mutual encouragement, support, appreciation of each other’s  gifts, talents, hopes, dreams so on and so forth.  We would be compliment and synergy, also share similar worldview.  Though we would care about each other deeply, we would also be able to give each other space to do stuff individually.  There would be a great balance of unity and individuality.  We will be best friends, the basis for any important long term relationship, able to share anything, also be understanding if there are things that we don’t share right away with each other, but might share with someone of the same sex only or first, or bounce off another friend first.  This is what I envision in a life partnership, which I hope God will grant to my life.  This is true feminism, it’s appreciating men for being men, and men appreciating us for being women, and each relationship, friendship appreciating itself for what it is. I pray this gift the Lord grants me in life, a most precious gift.

End of the Day,This Is Me

As I work with BIll Russo and think of how to make the Wednesday Coffee Club more interesting to the seniors, and really remember the beauty of my heritage, as I listen to Dino, and think about my own views on social issues etc.., I am realizing something very important.  

There are two care things I am in life, Italian and artist, and with the Italian comes the Catholic, part of that heritage, identity and I do align with the social teachings, maybe it’s time I really delved into the teachings before going into study of any other faith or philosophy.  As I think of my life, my future there are two things I want in life very much.  One thing I very much want is to be an artist on a day to day basis, to have a space where I can store my portable piano keyboard, take my recorders, plenty of batteries, lots of paper and write, create.  I also want a great partner who will share my culture, the faith of my ancestors, and  be a real creative partner with me, as well as spiritual partner as well as my best friend and I his.  I want to go into studio and record what I create, and use part of those proceeds to support entities within the Italian-American community.  I want to have a life where I am writing, creating, being inspired and inspiring, and a companion who understands true conservatism, appreciates faith, tradition and heritage.  I want to always appreciate that as well.   There is a lot for me to create, write etc…, a lot to explore in terms of faith and spirituality within my heritage, and I hope to do so with a great partner because it is more fun when you are exploring your heritage, your very own self with someone else than by yourself, when you have a special companion to share the journey with you.  I hope to be able to live this as I envision with the grace, and kindness of the Lord providing me with all the opportunities etc…

Amen

 

 

Upon This Rock, Huh?

Life and Liberty, God Bless America

The light shines within., going out in connection to the Divine Creator.

 

That phrase “upon this rock I will build my church” has been disputed and caused rift within the Christian faith community, and for some reason that phrase has been going round and round in my head, and the meaning, what is the meaning? 

Depends on your understanding of Jesus.  If you look at the entirety of the Bible, the Jewish and Christian Bible it has symbolism, metaphor, allegory, and Jesus used that a lot, so when he utters that phrase how are we to take it?  Are we take it as on him literally, on that rock he is standing, on his great personality, what?  Considering that Jesus did use parables and all that stuff a lot I have concluded that he means upon Peter’s leadership due to the word of knowledge given to him by the Father.  Based on Peter being given that particular knowledge, his leadership would be what brought forth the church, and would create the grafting of Jew and Gentile.  Jesus I am sure knew that with time there would be issues and maybe splintering withing the community.  He also commanded them to go tell the good news and baptize people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Jesus is giving authority by way of his instructions, but to Peter he is giving leadership responsibility for moving things forward after he is gone.  This also is important in terms of non Christians understanding Christians.  They received instructions to make disciples of all nations etc… and took this very seriously this responsibility given to them, and throughout history so have others who have accepted the faith, some more than others, particularly evangelicals.  It is important to understand that it was not Peter that Jesus was building the Church on, but rather his leadership, and the knowledge that Peter received of who he was.  One can accept or reject the theology of this, their choice. The point is, the rock is the leadership and given knowledge, not Peter, he was simply a conduit for the task, nothing more, nothing less and he would like you would have succession of heirs in a family, a company etc.. Peter would do so for the Church that Jesus entrusted him with.   Not saying you have to agree or not, but if you can truly understand the responsibility of this commission, the importance of it when accepted as historical truth, then you can better understand Christians. 

As for where I stand theologically, it is a journey and I have not reach the end of it yet.  Do I reject Jesus? No, being Italian and growing up Catholic, though I was not religious, Jesus is always going to be central to my life.  Theologically and Philosophically I am working all that out, and it is an incredible journey I am on, but one thing I do know is that he will always be a part of my spiritual life, somehow. 

Amen

 

 

Authentic Self, Who Is That?

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The Journey That is Life.

 

When I am at the end of my physical life and look back, at least to the later part of it, the one thing I want to be able to say is that I was authentic and true to myself above all things in the context of faith, of my connection to the Creator, and the philosophy etc.. that makes me, me. 

What the heck is that and how do I achieve that?  To begin with I am above all my mother’s daughter, though we can be quite blunt with each other and we tell it to each other as it is at times, pull no punches, so when she wonders where I get my spice to counter my sugar, well I tell her look in the mirror, why don’t ya!  That’s my starting point that I have come to embrace, that I am my mother’s daughter and as such I am both sugar and spice, which is fine with me.  I am also Italian and that means if not fully embracing Catholic as my faith of practice at least honoring it as part of the culture of my ancestors and keeping it alive as part of that tradition, as a cultural aspect of my heritage. Intertwined with all of that is the fact that throughout my life the one thing I have always been is a writer, whether of poems, songs, a blog, writing and even singing, presenting, performing have always been part of me, of who I am.  At the same time I have always been much more spiritual than I have religious, with however very strong sense of natural order of things, even in terms of sexuality and marriage all that stuff.  I want to honor all of who I am including my being very much drawn to Judaism, the root of Christianity, the faith tradition of Yeshua and his family.  Again, I am not one that really is thrilled about religion, but prayer, meditation, song, reflection, yeah, all for it, study, yeah, all for it.  How am I going to honor all I am?  The arts of course. 

That is the beauty of the arts.  One thing I am blessed with is I have connected to the Center for Applied Judaism and will be talking to them about some ideas including recording a series of meditations in their sanctuary, also mini presentations on biblical topics.  I am also blessed to be working with Shrine Church of The Most Precious Blood in my area a church that was created ordered by the Vatican for Italian Immigrants and has a rich arts history, including participating in a monthly concert series, where I am blessed to exercise my Italian.  I hope to be more involved in both, to record material and have a portion of the proceeds go to both organizations, the Center for Jewish Science and Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood, do different projects for each organization.  I can earn my living and at the same time benefit these institutions, be in alignment with who I am, and my culture through the arts.  I can record spiritual pieces that are spiritual, even romantic not necessarily religious and honor my heritage, and also meditations that are spiritual.  The arts will allow me to honor all of who I am and for that I will eternally thank the Lord.  I have refined my focus even further.  Make my living and benefit others, as well as stay true to who I am via the arts.

Amen