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Voice of Joy Holiday Giveaway!

I have a rule about playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving. It is simply not done. This rule is increasingly difficult to adhere to when I enter stores and am immediately bombarded with songs about reindeer, snow men, and sleigh bells. I know I am breaking my Christmas music rule as I write this post...but the video below will explain all:

This is the kind of Christmas music that I can hear throughout the year. It is the music that stirs the soul and awakens the faith as well as the joy of the season. 

I first popped  "Voice of Joy" into my computer for a listen last night. I am still listening to the album as I type this review and I feel as if I have been enjoying a concert by one of the Three Tenors. However, this rich tenor voice belongs to Friar Alessandro, from Porziuncola in Assisi (yes, THAT Assisi...and yes, the friary founded by THE Saint Francis). According to his label:

"The Franciscan Friar is a sanctuary guide in Assisi, Italy where he was born.  His hope as the first Franciscan Friar to be signed to a major record label, is that his voice will have the ability to foster a stronger Catholic presence in contemporary art & music. His enthusiasm for music since childhood influenced him to study organ, musical composition, and operatic singing at institutions and conservatories throughout Italy. However, his success in music felt incomplete in the absence of a driven religious life. So at the age of twenty-one, he entered as a postulant in the Order of the Friars Minor of Umbria and would take his final vows some ten years later.  It was in fact the desire to join the Order which pushed him to complete his qualification at the musical conservatory as it was considered a touchstone for the seriousness of his commitment. At present he lives at the Porziuncola Friary in Santa Maria degli Angeli, Assisi, where he welcomes pilgrims to the Basilica."

However, the longer (and much more miraculous) story can be found on Friar Alessandro's website. I encourage you to check it out if you wish to learn more about how God takes care of his children when it comes to vocations and how He sometimes has greater plans for us than we can imagine. He had such a plan for Friar Alessandro and the results of this plan are albums (such as Voice of Joy), which are bound to inspire the souls of the faithful around the world. Voice of Joy contains several familiar tracks, some of which were recorded in Jerusalem at the very sights where some of the events of the Nativity took place).

The tracks found in this album are as follows and I can assure you that each is a powerful rendition:

1. Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle
2. O Santa Notte
3. Adeste Fidelis
4. Veni Veni Emanuel
5. Agnus Dei
6. O Tannenbaum
7. Ave Maria
8. Madonna de la Claritate
9. Jot to the World
10. Alto e Glorioso Dio
11. Ave Maria
12. Silent Night
13. Caro Gesu Bambino
14. Madre en la Puerta
15. A Gaelic Blessing

Giveaway Rules

The Prize: 
1 Voice of Joy CD

How to Enter for a chance to win the prize:
Comment here, on Facebook, on Twitter (@CatholicSciGeek), or email me at catholicsciencegeek (at gmail.com) with the title of your favorite soul-stirring Christmas song for a chance to win a free copy of Voice of Joy. 

The Winner
The winner will be chosen at random an announced on the December 1st 2013.
I will ship it out the CD asap once I get an address.

Good luck!

Pax Vobiscum

Geeky Review- The Mass: The Glory, The Mystery, The Tradition

The Mass, by Cardinal Wuerl of Washington, DC and author Mike Aquilina, is a book that I would highly recommend to anyone who is new the Catholic Church or any Catholic who would like to learn the significance of the kneeling, the signing, the greetings, the prayers, the hymns, and the vestments of priests celebrating mass. The history of the mass is discussed, with descriptions of the mass as it was celebrated in the early years of Christianity. Quotes from the early church fathers, along with a few interesting historical facts help explain the reasons behind the traditions of mass that we tend to overlook.

One example of this that stands out is the mixing of water with the wine that is to be consecrated. I had never given this part of mass much thought. However, this book explained the practical as well as symbolic significance of this action. In Christ's time, wine was stored in a concentrated state and then diluted at mealtimes. I had learned about the mixing of water with wine when learning about ancient Rome, but had never associated it with the earliest days of the Catholic Church. I also appreciated how the authors made it a point to mention how priests in concentration camps used to ferment raisins to create the wine that is such a necessary component of the mass. Until reading this book, I had not truly appreciated just how important the wine and bread are when it comes to celebrating the mass.

This book explores each part of mass in order from the introductory rite to the dismissal. I have never studied theology, but had some understanding of what each part of mass was all about. At least, that is what I thought until I started really getting into this book. As I read each section explaining the parts of mass, I had many "lightbulb" moments when I finally started understanding the significance and beauty that I had witnessed, but not understood before. God's grace had, perhaps, allowed me to appreciate the significance and beauty of the "Sanctus" (or the "Holy, Holy, Holy") from time to time. There are times when this part of mass fills me with so much emotion that I am either getting chills or beginning to cry. This Sunday was the first time I went to mass since I finished reading this book and it was a POWERFUL experience. I found myself in awe throughout most of the mass and hanging on every word and action of the priest as he celebrated mass.

This book was an easy read and would be a great addition to the libraries of any children (or adults) celebrating their first Communion as well as those who simply want to learn more about that great event to which they devote one hour of every Sunday. There are facts and histories here that are sometimes lost in a generation when parents either do not know enough about sign of the cross, communion, etc. to answer the questions of their children. I would highly recommend this book as a supplement to first communion classes and for families who want to continue passing down a richer understanding of the mass that is so central to their faith. This book will certainly help you become less of a spectator and more of a participant in mass.

I was offered a copy of this book for review, but all opinions and statements expressed in this review are my own.

Pax vobiscum

Mary, the Mother of the Unborn: Prayer Card Series #2

I came across a very lovely prayer card today right after mass. This card features a beautiful version of a prayer for the unborn, which was composed by Servant of God Fulton Sheen. It is a prayer for the children who are in danger of losing their lives before they get the chance to take their first breath. It is a prayer card for the spiritual adoption of an unborn child and I think, perhaps, an invitation for me to spiritually adopt an unborn child who is in need of extra prayers (and also the parents of this child as far as I am concerned). 

This prayer card featured a red rose as well as a small sprig of amaranth. I felt this imagery to be incredibly beautiful and powerful.

Roses are certainly one of the flowers most associated with Mary. Amaranth, from the Greek amarantos meaning unfading as well as anthos for flower, is a flower that retains its color even after it is dried...giving the appearance of an undying flower. Perhaps the image of the prayer card was designed to convey the immortal soul of the children in danger of being lost because the world deems them too disposable to warrant a chance at life. No matter how "unplanned," sick, poor, etc. these children may be...they deserve a chance. Who better to acknowledge this than the mother of the Son of God...the redeemer that was to die for the salvation of the world? The mother that became a mother to all even as she stood on Calvary, watching her son die? 

I believe that the children lost to abortion are never truly lost. I believe that their souls live on, never fading away...because God loved them into eternal existence. In the same way, I believe that God loves the mothers who felt forced by circumstance to abort their children and I...and I pray that each one of them somehow seeks reconciliation with God and their child before it is too late. If you or a loved one has experienced abortion, I encourage you to seek God's mercy...which is unfathomable and limitless. I also encourage  you to seek healing through Rachel's Vineyard and to seek not only God's forgiveness, but your own as well. May God's mercy and love touch your hearts and enable them to heal.
This image does the original no justice, but it was the best I could find for now...
Cards can be purchased at John Brandi Co, Inc
The prayer on the back of the card is a version of the prayer composed by Servant of God Fulton Sheen: 
 
Mary, the Mother of the Unborn

Jesus, Mary ,and Joseph,
I love you very much.
I beg you to save the life of the unborn baby
that I have spiritually adopted,
and is in danger
of abortion.

Let me live...
Let me walk into the sunshine...
Let me live...
Feel my mother's arms around me...
Feel my father's love surround me...
Be a part of God's creation...
Let me live...

The original prayer by Servant of God Fulton Sheen: 

Jesus, Mary ,and Joseph,
I love you very much.
I beg you to save the life of the unborn baby
that I have spiritually adopted,
and is in danger
of abortion.

Mary, our Mother in Heaven,
pray for us,
and especially for your little ones
in danger of abortion! 

Pax Vobiscum