Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Road to Juquila - Part 5: Holy Water

LOS MILAGROS DE JUQUILA, where the miraculous had been reality in 2001 [VHS]
I know it’s been awhile
since I posted something
about my trip to Juquila.
I had hopes of going to Palenque
this year,
but I am slowly starting to realize
that I am being called
to spend more time in Oaxaca.
I feel Our Lady
calling me back to Juquila.

It’s been six months
since my trip to Juquila,
I continue to reflect
on this sacred journey.

My life
and my brain
just seem to be going
in so many directions lately.
And I still have so much more to share
about this wonderful trip
to Our Lady’s little chapel.

Since the celebration
of The Easter Vigil
a couple of months back
my mind’s eye has been focused
on Holy Water.

Since my trip to Juquila
I’ve really given a lot of thought
to our use of Holy Water,
of our non-use of Holy Water,
and to the Holy Waters
found at Juquila.

of course,
water is just plain necessary for life.
We cook with water.
We clean and wash with water.
Water is just one of those things
that one can easily take for granted.

But of Holy Water?
What is it that gives Holy Water her power?
What makes Holy Water “Holy?”

Is it the power of God?
Is it the prayer of the priest?
Is it the assent of the people?
And who decides what bodies of water are holy?

I have several containers of Holy Water
on my home altar:
Guadalupe, San Juan de Los Lagos,
Lourdes. . .and yes,
even Juquila.
And to tell the truth,
I use them sparingly.
And since the Easter Vigil
I am beginning to question
why I don’t just use them all the time.

as already mentioned in previous blog posts,
is located in Oaxaca
in the mountains.
It is a long and arduous journey to get there.
Many of the area
choose to make the pilgrimage on foot,
processing for several days up that mountain
before finally arriving.

At the outskirts of Juquila,
there is a little place
where pilgrims can gather themselves
and their thoughts.
They can formalize their prayer requests
in concrete form
before going on
to the little mountain municipality.

They can stop and rest and eat.
They can also wash up.

as you watch the faithful
stepping into the river
one quickly realizes
that there is more going on
than people washing their face
or splashing their bodies.
It is easy to see
that something of a healing nature
is taking place in those holy waters.

I am certain that God
has greatly blessed that area
including the waters of that river.
And I am certain
that many a priest
has blessed those waters.
So please,
don’t think that I am in any way
negating the Power of the Merciful One
or the works of those
called to an ordained ministry.

But in all honesty,
I can’t help but think
that the water of that river is holy
because the people
are constantly blessing it.

The faithful aren’t just washing up
after a long journey.
They are refreshing
and renewing their belief.

What powerful things can be
if we but only believe.

. . .remember,
if we but believe
we can move those mountains. . .
. . .what we can do
if we had faith the size of a mustard seed. . . .

What happens
when a believing people
enter the waters of that river
and offer prayers of blessings
and thanksgiving?

A couple of years ago
I read many of the works
of Dr. Emoto.
He writes about the power of words
on water.
The Hidden Messages in Water
Great stuff.
I highly recommend.
His work demonstrates that the written words
“love” and “gratitude”
when shown to water,
will change the water.
So does the word “ugly.”
The words change the water.
Water charged and changed with “love”
changes the plant watered with it.
So does the plant
when watered with “ugly” water.
The words change the water.
The water changes the plant.
Can you imagine what that could mean
about the fruit and vegetables we eat?
This is so simple.
Its about words,
only words.

. . maybe that’s why grandma’s chicken soup
tastes so good
and makes us all better
when we are sick:
because she adds “love”. . .
. . but I digress. . .

I’ve said throughout this blog
that words of have power.
In fact,
one of my first blog posts
was about words and tattoos. . .
. . but I digress again. . .

Here’s what I’ve come to believe:
The water of that river is holy
because the people
are constantly blessing it.
Prayers of blessing and thanksgiving
are constantly flowing
from the faithful
as they approach this river,
as they are in the river,
as they leave the river.

But they are not just
blessing the water with their words.

They are blessing it
with all of their being:
Body, Mind, Spirit.

they have been on foot for days
making a sacred procession.
They have been in prayer
and singing sacred songs
as they journey.
They have worked hard
to get to this sacred place.
The have worked hard
to be in Sacred Space.
Laos Ergon: The Work of the People.
Their time in this Holy Water
IS Liturgy.
And Liturgy,
all liturgy,
a sacred, holy event.

We become what we get close to.
Look at your closest five friends.
How much are they like you?
How much are you like them?

This water, too, becomes
what it gets close to.
It becomes Sacred and Holy
because a Sacred and Holy people
approach her, seek her, touch her,
and bless her.

The water is blessed
because a blessed, holy people
are in constant contact with her,
blessing her.
The water,
ever present,
is also listening
as the faithful voice their prayers.

And now,
I’m calling the river “her”
as if she were alive.
The thing is,
she is.
And she is very, very sacred.

mind you,
I’m not at this time
speaking/writing about ecology
or keeping the earth green.
That discussion,
I’m sure,
will make itself known.
What I am speaking of here
is very simply
the power of words.

Words have power.
Don’t forget
the Word Became Flesh.
I don’t know why the works
of Dr. Emoto
would come as such a big surprise
if we really believe
what we’ve read a gazillion times
in the Scripture.

Words Have Power.
And the faithful
are constantly
pouring blessings
on the water
of this river.

The faithful
are making this water Holy
with their words,
with their prayers,
with their work,
with their bodies.

why are those holy water bottles
just sitting on my home altar?
Why am not blessing myself
everyday with them?
Why haven’t I blessed
the whole of my house,
inside and out,
with those sacred, holy waters?

What good are they
if I don’t use them?

We become what we get close to.
I could use a little Guadalupe
in and around my neighborhood. . .

My middle son
was in the hospital a couple of months back.
His illness was sudden
and changed our lives.
At the time,
a little Juquila healing
would have been most appropriate.

And then,
not too long ago,
I was sick myself for awhile,
missing quite a bit of work
and just having hard time
getting over a respiratory bug.
Guadalupe Holy Water
really could have made all the difference.

I should be blessing my vegetable garden,
my car,
my son’s school books. . .

. . . a pitbull went after my cat
not too long ago
and really, really scared her.
I should have blessed her
and entrusted her, once again,
to the care of St. Francis. . . . . .

I can’t tell you
the number of prayer requests
that come through
my facebook.
Why haven’t I just given
my bottle of Lourdes Holy Water
to someone who really needs it?
Why am I hoarding it?
What good is my faith,
my belief,
if I don’t share it?

I did not enter the river
when I made my trip to Juquila.
I regret that now.
as I have every intention
of returning to Juquila
you can bet your bottom dollar
that I won’t deny myself
that sacred experience.

And so now
I’m blessing the waters of that river
even though
I am thousands of miles away. . . .

Words Have Power.
And when words are spoken
in prayer and blessing,
they have the greatest power of all.

Holy Water.
Something so simple,
so basic,
and yet,
so powerful.

You know,
we SHOULD be blessing the waters
of the gulf area.
And maybe we should be pouring
our bottles of Holy Water
right into it. . . .

Friday, June 25, 2010

¡Si se puede! You Can Do It!

I have more reflections
on the children’s choir.

Just after I was asked
to direct his fine group
I went to Mexico.
I started rehearsals with them in September 2008.
And then, I went to Mexico
about two months later.
The trip had already been planned.
I really didn’t like the idea
of starting this new project
and then being gone for two weeks.
But so be it.

Thinking of and praying for the children of the choir,
I purchased some maracas
during my visit to Chalma.
We tried to incorporate instruments
my first Christmas with them.
What a disaster!
Several of the maracas broke.
I purchased a dozen
as they were the small kind
made out of gourds.
three of them got legs and walked.

Even a rainstick
met its demise.
When I explained to the children
how the sound was made
I think they got curious.
“Miss Rubi,
it just broke.”

After this,
I just put the toys away
and decided to concentrate
on singing only.
Instruments could wait
until some time in the future.

I knew they could do it.
The time just had to be right.

as I stated in my previous blog post,
there were some real discipline issues.
I knew they could use the toys creatively,
but other things had to come first.

All the while
they kept asking me
when I was going to bring
the instruments out again.
I kept telling them
that singing was primary.
If they stopped singing
to play the instrument,
we don’t want that.
Your voice is the primary instrument.

During the course of this past year
I was looking for some vocal music
for my work at my other job
with the kids at COMPAS.
(Center of Music and Performing Arts Southwest)

I was seeking music
that would build self-esteem and confidence.
these are inner city Detroit kids.
I look at my work at COMPAS
not only as teaching music,
but also to build confidence
and a sense of self-worth
in these young folks.
And I found this wonderful song
written by Jim Rule,
dedicated to the memory of Cesar Chavez.

many of the children of the choir
of St. Gabriel parish
attend The Cesar Chavez Academy.
And my own father
was graced to have spent some time
with the legendary Cesar Chavez.
Cesar Chavez by TIME Magazine. Size 8.00 X 10.00 Art Poster Print
this was not a religious song,
not a church song,
not a liturgical piece.
I asked my pastor
if it would be OK to teach the children this song
and he said, “Go for it!”
I kinda knew he would.

And then I decided that now is time
to bring back the toys.
I purchased a set of chimes
and a claves to complete the set.
And the video below
is the end result.

Carlos, Jean Paul and Gerardo
can carry a simple rhythm in 4
on the maracas.
And Carlos can do 3/4 very well.
Rita is great on claves.
And Viridiana knows exactly
when to come in on chimes,
as do the lovely ladies of the rainstick.
And through it,
not a single instrument was broken
this time around.
My kids were ready.
My kids ARE ready!

At the end of the video
you can see their sense of joy,
their sense of accomplishment.
You’ll see Elizabeth give a little dance.
Carlos gives a waive.
And Jean Paul raises his arms in victory!

Cesar Chavez was right all along.
¡Si se puede!
You CAN do it!
At the very least,
my Beautiful Bilingual Babies can!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Heaven on Earth?

About two years ago
I received a phone call
from the man who is now my pastor.
He asked me to come to his parish
to direct the children’s choir.
After some discussion
I accepted
and I started rehearsals
at the end of September 2008.

It was a very messy process.
There were discipline issues,
both in behavior
and in commitment to the project at hand.

But directing children’s choirs
is one of the things I like best.
to be quite honest,
I think it’s one of the things
I do best.

Children are eager.
They learn quickly.

that’s not to say
that teaching them is always easy.
A rehearsal must be well planned out.
You can’t skip a beat,
not even when a child comes in late
and their mom has a question.
If you lose their attention,
even for a second,
you need to know how to get it back
in an instant.
But if you know how to teach them,
children just learn quickly.

And children don’t have opinions
the way adults do.
I love working with adult choirs,
so please don’t get me wrong.
But adults are quick to tell you
that a song is too high,
too low,
too fast,
too slow.
They are quick to tell you
that they don’t like a particular melody
or that the song doesn’t fit
this or that particular mass.

Not so with children.

They just sing whatever is presented to them.

But this particular group of children,
let me just say that
anything you can think of inner city
was/is going on in their lives.

I have children who are survivors
of domestic violence.

There was one child that I thought had measles.
When I asked about it
the child responded that
“Mom just can’t get rid of the bed bugs
no matter how much she cleans.”

One evening I came in
and one of the children was already there.
I unlocked and opened the church door
and suggested that she wait at the entrance
until I turned on the lights
so she wouldn’t have to walk through a dark church.
And then she said,
“It’s OK.
I’m used to seeing by candlelight in the dark.
Sometimes my daddy can’t pay the bills.”

Many of these children
live in neighborhoods
with abandoned buildings.

There is a woman
who comes to beg for money sometimes,
standing just outside the church entrance.
To me,
she has sort of become an unofficial greeter.
She is there just about every Sunday
before the rest of the community.
I don’t know her story,
as she doesn’t speak much.
When I try to start up a conversation with her,
she often just walks away.

One child knows her well.
She said, “That’s so-and-so.
She lives in the abandoned house
next door to me.”
I don’t know what hurt me more,
the fact that this woman
lives in an abandoned building
or that the child
just saw it
as a matter-of-fact circumstance.

These are just some of the fabulous children
that form this choir.

And then,
there is one child who is taking guitar lessons.
And I just learned
that two of these children
will be taking piano lessons
in the summer sessions with me
at the performing arts school where I teach.

God has called all of these children together
to form this choir.
What a magnificent God we have!

This past Saturday
the kids sang in concert.
we’ve done a few concerts already,
but something was different about this one.
Something was just so different about this one.

One of my personal goals
when I took this ministry on
was to have the children
singing in parts
by the end of my second year with them.
if you would have seen them
at the start of this project,
one wouldn’t think this possible.
Their attention span
was all over the board.
And again,
the discipline thing was. . .
well. . . let’s just say
that they needed refining.

I formed them into two choirs:
Choir 1 and Choir 2
(Soprano and alto).
It took them awhile to get it.
At first they thought
I was separating them
into two different choirs.
But I finally got them to understand
it was about singing in parts.

At the concert on Saturday
they debuted some of the music
they have been working on.
The seemingly unattainable goal
of having them sing in parts
has been attained!

And you know,
I think they knew it.
They knew and understood
that this was big milestone.
And I think they sang so well
because they knew they had managed
to do something major.
They have started to ask me
if we will be forming a “Choir 3" and “Choir 4.”
Little do they know
that I have Taize plans. . . .
. . .something they should be able to accomplish
at this point!. . . .

My babies did great
in the concert on Saturday.
My Beautiful Bilingual Babies
were awesome!
Those in attendance
actually gave them
a standing ovation.
“Nothing gives me greater joy
than to know that my children
are walking in truth.”
(3 John 1:4)

Four of the children,
for a variety of reasons,
could not participate in the concert.

Two children in attendance
asked if they could join the choir.

Another child who left the group
wishes to return
now that he understands
a little something about
long range visioning and planning.

next time around,
the photos and video
will have at least seven more children.

My ultimate goal
is a Children’s Choir
of forty-five members.
Wouldn’t that be just awesome????

And one of the parents
volunteered as choir secretary
to help me keep lists and phone numbers in order.

. . and you know,
I don’t remember where the statistic came from,
but at an NPM conference
many years ago,
a speaker stated
that some 80%
of people who sing in choirs as adults
sang in a choir as a child.
This being the case,
Detroit is Making
some Marvelous Music Ministers!!!

inner city Detroit. . .
. . . would it be a stretch to say
this is heaven on earth????

- - - - - - - - -
St. Gabriel's Children's Choir
singing "El Fuego Cae"
Detroit, MI - June 19th, 2010 Concert

Monday, June 14, 2010

Concert - June 19th - Children's Choir Program Line-up

I just want to be sure
you're aware of the concert next Saturday,
June 19th at 1:00p.m.

The Children's Choir of St. Gabriel Detroit
will be performing in the church,
located at 8118 W. Vernor in Detroit.

Here is the complete program for the event.
We do hope you can make it!

The program is bi-lingual,
being presented in both Spanish and English.
The Church is air-conditioned
and there is a reception afterward.
And it's FREE!!!!

Children's Choir Concert Program - June 19th - 1:00p.m.

*Bienvenida (Welcome)
Michelle G. - Celine G.

El Fuego Cae, Cae
Maracas - Carlos E., Jean Paul G.
Chimes - Viridiana C.
Claves - Rita R.

*El Oración de San Patricio (About St. Patrick's Prayer)
Natalie A.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate
Gaelic Melody (Bunessan) Translation by James Quinn
Rainstick - Elisa E., Elizabeth M., Estefania

Ven, Espíritu Santo
Jaime Cortez, OCP Publications
Soloista (soloist) - Rita
Chimes - Viridiana C.
Maracas - Carlos E., Jean Paul G.

*San José (About St. Joseph)
Carlos E.

Hombre Justo
Celine Durea, CSJ; OCP Publications
Rainstick - Elisa E.

Oracion - Mi Amigo, Jesús
Gerardo R.

Mi Amigo, Jesús
Silvio Cuéllar, OCP Publications
Solista (Soloist) - Jessica R.

*Oracion A La Virgencita de Guadalupe
(Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Esther G., Jean Paul G.

Holy Is Your Name
Wild Mountain Thyme, arr. by David Haas, GIA Publications
Chimes - Viridiana C.

Virgencita, Dulce Madre
Silvio Cuéllar, OCP Publications
Trio - Esther G., Celine G., Michelle G.
Maracas - Carlos E.

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Music by Cesareo Gabarain, text unknown
Duet - Estefani O. & Elisa E.
Rainstick - Estefania R.

Canto Final/Rosas del Tepeyac.
Carlos Rosas, OCP Publications
Rainstick - Estefania R.
Chimes - Viridiana C.
Maracas - Carlos E., Jean Paul G.

* Intermedio (Intermission Announcement)
Michelle G. - Michelle G.


Guitar Soloists
(Rita & Alfredo)
Introduced by Fr. Jaime

Soon and Very Soon
Andrae Crouch, Bud John Songs, Inc.
Solo - Gerardo R.
Chimes - Viridiana C.
Claves - Rita R.
Maracas - Carlos E., Jean Paul G., Gerardo R.

The Love God Has For Me
Donna Pena, GIA Publications
Duet - Viridiana, Estefania

All In All
Dennis Jernigan, Shepherd's Heart Music Inc.
Rainstick - Estefania R.
Chimes - Viridiana C.

Halle, Halle, Halle
Traditional Carribean, arr. John Bell, Iona Community, GIA Publications
Chimes - Viridiana C.
Maracas - Carlos E.
Claves - Rita R.

Si Se Puede/You Can Do It
(Dedicated to the Memory of Cesar Chavez
im Rule, PNO Tuna Music
Rainstick - Elisa E. , Estafania R.. Elizabeth M.
Maracas - Carlos E., Jean Paul G., Gerardo R.
Claves - Rita R.

Cantos Originales del Padre Jaime

(Original music written by Fr. Jaime)


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Children's Choir Concert - Detroit's St. Gabriel Parish - June 19th, 2010

The Children's Choir
of St. Gabriel Parish of Detroit

The Parish's Students of Classical Guitar
A Concert
Saturday, June 19th at 1:00p.m

The music will be bilingually performed (Spanish and English)
and will feature several children soloists,
including a duet and a trio.
Several children in the choir will also play various hand-held percussion instruments.
Several musicians will accompany the Children's Choir.

The students of classical guitar
are taught by none other than our pastor, Fr. Jaime Hinojos.
These guitar students will be our featured musicians.

Reception following the concert.

For a complete program line-up
and a list of the members of the choir and musicians
accompanying St. Gabriel's Children's Choir
Go Here.

This will be a wonderful event by some marvelous Detroit inner-city children.

St. Gabriel Parish
8118 W. Vernor Highway
Detroit, MI 48209
(313) 841-0753
(the concert is free of charge and the church is air conditioned!)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Divine Mercy

Here's a song to the Divine Mercy.
My pastor wrote it.
Give it a listen and, if possible,
grab it for your website/blog.
We're in a contest and would appreciate "grabs" and "listens."
Thank you!