Sunday evening, post-Colloquium- Wendy and I are happily exhausted. Finished Pittsburgh proper the way we began, with a dinner at the Pittsburgh Steak House on Carson,Southside.We cannot conceive of what it takes for Arlene OZ to “decompress” from one of “these.” I might propose that AOZ is one of the greatest people breathing air on this planet at this moment; she reconciles the Martha/Mary dichotomy with a smile and a couple of hairpins. Make no mistake though, she knows that every glass of the assembled is clean, then filled, then washed. And all the while she’s never left His side, absorbing every graceful word from His heart. And as Frogman eloquently opined, she don’t take a backseat to anybody when it comes to lovingly, nurturingly letting her baby doves fly with the wings of plainsong. She would shy away were that said in public from a dais microphone. Well, Arlene, I’m seconding Noel here and now, you’re front and center, enfolded in Christ’s arms.
And now the then: In the last three years, if there needed to be a clear sign that the tide is turning, it was attested to in this last week. “Then” is to be thought of as “what is to come,” not “what has gone.” “Then came……”
Jessica Happold is 25. In this era 25 doesn’t equal a quarter-century as we all know that the infected media Fr. Pasley spoke of at the final Sunday Mass have mitigated the concept of 25 as a “quarter-century.” Jessica, in any case, comprises all we need to know about the future of the liturgical leadership of our beloved Church. She hails from a one stop-sign (they had a blinking red-light, but then determined it was exorbitant) little burg in Nebraska containing less than 400 souls, some who attend the one Catholic parish, the others a Methodist church. She was born a golden child, according to her mother, who prayed for and received her musician when Jessica emerged singing in the delivery room. (Okay, I made that up.)Cut to Colloquium XX. It’s almost “incontheiveable” that the ripoff, tres cool slogan, ‘Stay Churchy, my friends,‘ is actually attested to by this young woman from a town that Google Earth has trouble locating.
She is finishing her MMusEd at UNebraska, Lincoln while teaching at the parochial school personally overseen by Bsp. Bruskewitz. Jessica was “deemed” to assume the duties of “Choir Director” of Bsp. Fabian’s cathedral as soon as she returns to Lincoln. And, that may not have even yet happened of this writing; her flight was delayed by the Murphy’s Law of modern Air Travel this morning. She could’ve stayed for the final Mass if all the dominos of the chaos theory of travel had fallen her way. But I digress.
Jessica wasn’t quite sure what she was in for when her principal sent her to Colloquium. She knew it couldn’t be bad, but she also knew that she was going in the midst of summer session classes for her MMusEd. She took at least two online exams in the midst of the impossible scheduling of Colloquium, and came out smiling. I think that is the point: she, like AOZ, will always come out smiling.
We, Jessica, Wendy and I, mutually adopted each other Monday morning as parents/child when we checked into Vickroy. She’d arrived Sunday and had gotten the lay of Dusquesne Land. We saw her in the little commons room after getting checked in, and she offered to guide us around campus. The rest? ‘Twas and ’tis a “God-thing.”
Basically, Wendy was her wing-gal when it was obvious she had to sing with Wilco. I just got to be funny-Dad all week. But I assure you, in the wee small hours of the morning, Jessica can hold forth about “being Catholic” with the likes of her sisters and brothers of the post-Resurrection church of people, followers of The Way. She faces challenges, both professional and personal, that she will navigate only, by her own confession, with the Light of Christ.
I can’t really go on further describing the miracle that Jessica is. I can promise that she will be a brighter star among the galaxy of disciples I mentioned as regards Jeff O.
But she, like AOZ and all the wondrous women of CMAA that were here this week or couldn’t be, save in spirit, represents not only the discipleship of the Magdala, and Mary and Martha, but also the bond between Naomi and Ruth, “faithful to you is my name.”