Danielle Rose: Culture of Life

In the spirit of the marches and rallies for life happening all across the country, I want to bring attention to music missionary Danielle Rose and her album Culture of Life.

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Copyright to Monstrance Music and Danielle Rose.

 

For those who don’t know, Danielle Rose is a Catholic singer/songwriter. She’s been making music since 2001. My personal favorite album is I Thirst, but I also like the tracks from Mysteries and Pursue Me. However, Culture of Life is by far her best album yet.

I don’t consider many real world people to be role model material, so believe me when I say that when I see Danielle Rose as my role model, know that my statement carries a lot of weight. One thing I’m noticing in all these songs is that God is always included in the story. None of these songs could be considered “praise and worship” in the traditional sense, but instead are more meditative, thought-provoking.

  • Little Flower: I love the Chinese flute intro, for starters. I also love the emphasis on God’s provision. “God provides” rings throughout, as if to say there is no need to worry about caring for the child in question. (In other words, take that one-child policy!) The music video is amazing, too. Watch it and please raise awareness of the Little Flower orphanage. Donate if you can.
  • Just One Life: Covering two instances where life hangs in the balance, with the bridge of Mary saying “yes” to the life God wanted to give to her. I can almost see a music video of my head of the stories getting happy endings, even though they don’t get any closure in the song. But maybe leaving them more open-ended is a good thing, since it makes you think of how much value one life really has.
  • You Matter: Living in Texas has made me a sucker for fiddles and steel guitars. It sounds like a wonderful, beautiful country-style song. The lyrics convey a love song, but it’s not one dedicated to a romantic interest in particular. Instead, it’s general enough to apply to anyone. It could be about a love interest or a child or a dear friend, but it’s a love song nevertheless. It’s a song you can dance to. If only country songs these days were more like this!
  • Waiting For You: It’s kind of crazy to think that the same lady who wrote ”Nothing Compares to You” is writing this love letter for her future husband. It’s a song of lovely longing worthy of being compared with the other epic love songs out there. This song does not beat around the bush about the importance of chastity, but it paints the waiting in such a beautiful light. What I love most, though, is that God still has her heart. St. John Paul II would be proud.
  • Make Love With God: Once again, this song does not beat around the bush about the sanctity of marriage. Too many songs about sex these days don’t really talk giving yourself to someone else. Instead they talk about what they’re getting out of it. And many, many people will probably laugh at the lyrics, but be honest. How many songs do you know talk about sex in such a beautiful way that respects both parties and includes God in it? And talks about family?! It’s not just making love, it’s making life.
  • A Mother’s Communion: This is every mother’s song to her child. It echoes what Pope Francis said about motherhood being a type of martyrdom. Never have I connected motherhood to the Eucharist until I listened to this song. My pastor said yesterday that our lives and our bodies are not our own (in reference to yesterday’s second reading). How often have we heard that phrase: “This is my body…” associated with justifying an abortion. How unaware they are that having that child is a call to surrender and selflessness. Pray for them.
  • Joseph’s Prayer of Adoption: It’s only natural that a song about motherhood would be followed by a song about fatherhood. This isn’t the first time she wrote a song in Joseph’s POV before and the lyrics feel like something Joseph would say to the child Jesus, like a father telling a bedtime story. The best part of this particular song, in my opinion, is when it extends from St. Joseph’s adoption of Jesus to God’s spiritual adoption of all of us.
  • Can You Hear Me: A lamenting song of the kind of loss that only abortion can give. Her vocalizations sound like crying, but in such a tragically beautiful way. The melody as a whole is haunting. This song provokes prayers for all those affected by abortion and I pray that it also invokes compassion. Danielle sounds like she’s really crying in this song, especially in the end. And heck, I’d probably be crying along with her.
  • Psalm 51: Okay, this lady obviously has some country roots in her. If “You Matter” reminds you of the upbeat country songs, this song is more akin to the strong, steady ballads that aren’t heard as often. Even though the lyrics speak of surrender and being sorrowful, the melody of the song speaks of strength.
  • Glorious Wounds: Another country-sounding song with fiddles and guitars. The uplifting tone also makes this song the closest thing to what’s typically recognized as “praise and worship.” It praises and worships the holy wounds of Christ, but also brings in the “felix culpa,” the blessing that comes from the brokenness. We may have our scars, but Christ still has His and we can use the scars of our lives to heal those who still have open wounds.
  • Not a Burden: I can see this song being sung as a round. I love the drums used. It inspires the hand-clapping and swaying kind of dance you would see in a charismatic Mass. It kind of reminds me of old spirituals like “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” The chorus is guaranteed to get stuck in your head.
  • Sharing Calvary: I can see myself listening to this during Lent. This song acts like an Ignatian meditation that takes you to Calvary and makes you feel like you’re really there, watching it or being a part of it. We can see ourselves as either thief or a spectator, sharing the pain that the ones crucified are experiencing. I love that it carries the theme of the previous song, that good things come from the pain and suffering that life brings.
  • The Saint That Is Just Me: This was the first song from the album I heard and I related to it instantly. I want my life to be just like so many other people, wishing I was someone else. The reason I have very few real life role models is because I’m more inclined to follow the example of the saints. But in the end, this song reminds me that God created me as I am and gave me this particular life for a reason. The first call will always be to holiness. How we live that call to holiness is up to God, but we need to answer that call to holiness first.
  • Reborn: I remember a movie night I had with my second graders where we watched a movie that included a scene of an old lady attending Mass. It was later revealed that the old lady was dead all along and her soul was attending Mass, preparing to enter Heaven. When I saw that scene, I thought of my dear friend Fr. Keon who passed away. I could easily see him saying these lyrics. Sometimes, I see him at Mass, celebrating with the priest. And other times, I think he’s still in the cafeteria at my old college, watching over the students. I still miss him, but this song makes me smile.
  • I Love Lifeland: It almost sounds like a children’s song, but I started laughing with joy as soon as the song started. It’s basically the song you would sing on a long road trip or at a summer. It’s like the Catholic version of Taylor Swift’s “22” or a throwback to “My Favorite Things.” There’s a little improvised scatting that acts like the bridge and just makes me wanna dance. The laughter in the song is absolutely contagious! What a beautiful way to end the album. It celebrates life with all the little moments and how the little things add up to a lot. And yes, this is my favorite track! How can you beat lyrics like “Daily Mass is the cat’s pajamas”?!

So if you haven’t done so already, get this album. So many of these songs can be anthems for the marches and rallies for life while other songs can apply to other aspects of life. I hope that at least one of these songs speaks to you the way they have spoken to me.

Reintroducing Myself

It is a truth universally acknowledged that in every generation, there are many young adults growing up Catholic or learning about the Catholic Church. I am one of these young adults.

 

I grew up a cradle Catholic and I have no regrets about my childhood, but the way my faith grew was very similar to a bamboo plant, which takes five years before it sprouts up from the ground. Catholic School planted the seeds of my faith, but it wasn’t until I went to college that I really learned more of my faith and it wasn’t until after I finished college that I learned how to apply my faith to real life.

 

Growing up these days seems to be really different from how it used to be one generation ago. It’s harder to get a job, people seem to compartmentalize their lives even more, and extreme points of view tend to get more headlines and talking about than actual civilized debates. I still live at home and am looking for a steady, well-paying job, but like everyone else, I see my life as a work in progress.

 

I’m still learning more about what it means to be Catholic every day. I subscribe to online Bible studies, learn new prayers, pray more novenas, and keep up with the latest news on EWTN News Nightly. I’m also planning on going back to school in order to become a teacher so that I can plant seeds of my own.

 

But in between prayers and grad school preparations, I watch Agent Carter, Scorpion, Doctor Who, Castle, NCIS, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sometimes, I watch movies, especially ones with memorable characters and witty dialogue like The Princess Bride and Avengers. I listen to Taylor Swift, Danielle Rose and similar artists, songs from various Broadway and off-Broadway musicals and movie musicals, and obscure bands like Ghost of the Robot. Sometimes, I dance all over my house when no one’s watching. I raid my local library and bookstores for new things to read. And like many other young adults of my generation, I take pictures and posting them onto my Instagram.

 

Mostly, I write. If I’m not writing, I’m thinking of what I want to write about. I write letters to God in the morning and then I pray the Examen using a journal at night. I write about what I’m grateful for. I write random thoughts onto a memo pad app on my tablet. I even write poetry. And like most writers out there, I live with the delusion that some day I could write the next bestselling novel. Except I’m actually trying to make that delusion a reality. (Did I mention that I tend to be self-depreciative?)

 

So this blog will cover a lot of things. There will be vocation stories that go beyond the convent and seminary, movie reviews, commentary on shows I like to watch (whether they’re currently on air or not), and some fangirling here and there. Because being Catholic and young means that faith becomes a part of everything in your life and everything in your life becomes part of your faith.

My Voice: A Poem

My Voice: A Poem

When I was a child, my voice sang songs of wanderlust

Wanting to go into other worlds and have adventures

Then life took an unexpected turn

And I found adventure on a West Coast dust bowl

My voice began telling stories and longing for love

Love found me, but fled just as quickly

As I journeyed onward to a land of cowboys and football

Where my voice relished in expressing itself

Singing along to music made from teenage dreams

And then a dream came true: I found a home

The seeds of childhood finally sprung to life

Under the glow of a golden sun shining over a white tent

My voice sang love songs to the shining sun

and the bright red star that shined at night

But this home was only temporary

As I left the golden sun and bright red star behind

My voice began to fade

Lost without the safety net of the dream come true

I became like a doll, with many people trying to put their voices in me

Until the Son came out on a dreary, rainy spring day

And walked with me as I healed

In dark autumn nights, my voice sang new songs

Gaining the strength of an Amazon, a warrior, a Slayer

When spring came around again, my voice found a new home

I learned to laugh and love and live again

Now I learn how to speak His voice,

Learning the melody of the Word Incarnate

Because He is the one who gave me my voice

Into the Woods: Things I Know Now

Yesterday, I went with my family to see Into the Woods. I’m a big fan of musicals in general and I was really looking forward to it.

What makes Into the Woods unique is that it starts out with the fairy tales that everyone knows and then turns them all on their heads. The film follows the spirit of the original musical, if not the letter of it.  Spoilers will probably ensue, so proceed with caution.

With that, I’ll talk about the characters. The one who stood out most to me was Anna Kendrick as Cinderella. I found myself relating to her character most of all. Her storyline follows the original Cinderella tale instead of the more well-known Disney version, which includes her stepsisters cutting off their toes and heels to try and fit into the slipper and getting blinded. However, the first half of the movie shows a major flaw with Cinderella: she’s indecisive about what she wants. When she finally gets her dream of dancing with the prince, she runs off three times. I understand why she ran the first time. She was overwhelmed by the new experience. But when she was contemplating what to do when she ran away the third time, I wondered what the heck she was thinking even as she was singing it. Sorry to say, girlie, but choosing not to decide is still a decision, and not a very wise one at that. There was no indication of any sort of “turn into a pumpkin by midnight” clause, since she’s seen putting away the dress she wore.

Later on, though, Cinderella finally learns what she wants…or at least finds a happy medium between the two extremes she experienced. Yes, she was trapped as a servant to her stepmother and stepsisters, but she became a princess, she was still trapped. She couldn’t go anywhere without a royal escort. She learned how to hold her own and take care of those in need and learned that not everything was completely black and white.

James Corden was the perfect choice to be the baker. I kept calling him Craig in my head because I knew him from Doctor Who. He had such great chemistry with Emily Blunt that it was hard for me to believe that the Baker’s Wife would cheat on her husband the way she did, let alone try to justify it to herself. However, I put the blame squarely on the prince’s shoulders. After all, he was raised to be charming. And the Baker’s Wife showed hints of wanting to know what being with royalty was like. But to me, it seemed more like she was in love with an idea rather than the reality.

Meryl Streep obviously had a lot of fun being the Witch. I loved her more when she was the scraggly old witch, though, than her more beautiful form. The witch’s motivations are understandable, but unlike what she claimed, saving Jack wouldn’t be the “good” thing to do. Her treatment of Rapunzel was deplorable, wanting her daughter to stay young forever, but the reality of the situation was that Rapunzel was all grown up and needed her questions answered. She was right in the fact that everyone had to stop blaming each other in order, though.

Jack and Red Riding Hood were also great, but Red’s storyline was kind of short compared to everyone else. After the wolf was slain, most of Red Riding Hood’s story arc involved her either motivating other characters or being supported by other characters. Johnny Depp as the wolf was as creepy as was expected. And hey, at least he wasn’t a pirate this time!

My least favorite characters were the princes, although that’s also to be expected. While “Agony” was hilarious, Chris Pine’s Prince Charming was a real sleazeball. Of course, given that Chris Pine’s other most famous character is known for spending time with female characters of every species, the casting was perfect on that end. I also didn’t like Billy Magnussen’s costume. It didn’t look like a prince’s outfit so much as an 80s glam rock outfit. But at least he and Rapunzel got their happily ever after.

The only thing I’d really change about the musical was the way it ended. It doesn’t have to be a total “happily ever after,” but I do want to see the Baker, Cinderella, Jack, and Red Riding Hood living new lives out of the woods. But then again, Sondheim tends to go against expectations.

I definitely recommend this movie to fans of musicals, but I will warn parents that this is not a kid-friendly movie in spite of what the PG rating may say. I would say it’s more for ages 10 and up because of the language, Johnny Depp’s very villainous song, and the implications shown in the second half of the musical.

Isn’t it nice to know a lot? And a little bit…not.