Monthly Archives: January 2014

Going Where No Ukrainian Catholic Has Gone Before

I’m really learning to appreciate having a roommate who shares the same faith as I because I can come home and say, “I just spent a half hour sitting in front of a picture of Our Lady of Guatalupe and reciting the Jesus prayer.” And that’s normal. The fact that we can then embark on a discussion concerning church services and programming is also cathartic.

I just came home from Adoramus at St. Joseph’s Basilica; the schola was singing (if you don’t remember what ‘schola’ means, check out my last entry). I’d never been to an Adoramus before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Seems it’s a sort of reconciliation service where people are invited to go to confession while readings, hymns (us), and a lot of silence ensue. The service was quite nice and I think I would consider going once when I’m not expected to sing.

The thing that surprised me, however, had nothing to do with the service, but with the congregation itself: it was made up of mostly young people ie. the average age seemed to be about 25! I was shocked, shocked, I say! Never had I seen so many young people gathered at church just to go to church. If that many young people were at one of our churches, there’s some other kind of incentive (well, I suppose there were free snacks after this service…but still).

I happened to mention my surprise at the service’s  demographic to one of my priest friends at the Basilica and he replied, “I find it’s best to get back to the simple, core stuff. It’s just prayer and confession.”

Naturally this got me thinking. Does the Ukrainian Catholic Church have anything similar? The answer came almost as soon as I asked my roommate the question: the Reconciliation service we do at Unity every 2-3 years. Ask anyone who’s attended what one of the most memorable moments of Unity was and I’ll bet you they’d say the Reconcilation service. Why? Because it’s a simple way to get back to one of the core beliefs of Catholicism: Jesus always forgives. Seriously, once you go through that service, I challenge you not to feel at least a little better for sharing whatever’s been weighing on your mind. Or maybe you just want to chat with a priest or sister and ask some questions; that’s cool too. I’ve definitely done both.

My point is, why is something that is so powerful not available more often? Why do we allow ourselves to fall back on the usual Sunday liturgies with no more understanding than the previous week? Perhaps (and this is something my roommate and I concluded), perhaps if we had different services available people would become curious and attend. Maybe they’d ask questions. Maybe they’d then come to the Sunday liturgy with a thirst to know more. Maybe they’d actually stay within the church because then they’d know what it’s about instead of just thinking about faith as following a bunch of rules to ‘keep our noses clean.’

I think that’s the end of my thought train.

Good night! Sleep tight!

Joyanne 😀

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8 Real Reasons You Should Love Clowns

It’s been a while since I wrote something “philosophical” on here (funny, since that’s the whole purpose of this blog), but after reading Buzzfeed’s recent article “11 Reasons You Should Love Clowns,” I felt my fingers itching to contribute my two cents.

I was in Vegas in November 2011 with a bunch of my girlfriends I’d known since kindergarten. Half of us decided to go and watch Mystere by Cirque du Solei. As much as all the acrobatics are excellent to watch, I was mesmerized by one of the featured clowns in that show, the ‘Big Baby ‘ (the late Francois Dupuis). Everything he was doing was just SO SIMPLE that I couldn’t stop laughing (ie. he’d stand on the stage and just look at the audience and laugh). That’s it! I was in awe of how he’d mastered simplicity, something that is so hard to do in the world of performance. Unfortunately, my friends did not think he was anything special and when I tried to explain what being a clown truly means, I got the ever-unsatisfying brush-off answer: “Well, that’s just weird.”

As someone who went through a clown and mask workshop a couple years ago, I am very sensitive when people start talking about clowns because what many people think of when the word ‘clown’ comes to mind usually has nothing to do with the true nature of clowning. Articles like the one posted on Buzzfeed don’t help. True, the reasons the article lists for loving clowns are things I would consider to be true (we are great with kids, we don’t shy away from daring clothing, we do have a range of facial expressions), but these reasons for the most part are superficial and don’t get to the true heart of a clown (not to mention most of the clowns pictured in the article are TERRIFYING! No wonder people are afraid of clowns!).

What is the true heart of a clown? Let me try to explain this by citing my own clown, Dot (sidebar: I speak of Dot as a separate person to myself, though we are inevitably intertwined as we share the same body; this is something all of us who went through clown workshops do, so get over it). Dot is an incredible flirt and will give away her (ie. my) phone number to willing strangers, she loves pink and green (but mostly pink), and she’s obsessed with stripes (how ironic). She doesn’t smoke and will tell you directly that smoking is bad for you if you happen to light up in front of her. She can’t juggle very well, but when she does manage to catch all the balls, regardless of how little time she’s spent juggling, she is super excited. And if she doesn’t catch all the balls… well, she pretends like she does.

Dot also has feelings, very strong feelings that can change in the blink of an eye, like any human being. The difference between an adult and a clown? A clown actually shows how s/he is feeling at any given time. Happy? Jumping off the walls. Sad? Crying her/his eyes out. Afraid? Cowering in the corner. Clowns do what we as adults are afraid to do: they embrace and project their vulnerability to the world.

It’s because of this vulnerability that it’s hard for me when people say they don’t like clowns because being in clown does not mean just putting on a wacky collection of clothing and red nose, and getting all up in people’s faces while acting silly; that can scare people and is the reason why good clowns learn to be super observant and cautious when approaching people. Being in clown means taking one’s inner-most self and putting it out in the world to be inevitably stomped on. In a way, a clown is very much like a child, open to new experiences and seeing their entire world as one great, big adventure. Dot actually reminds me of me when I was about 7 years old, that time in my life when I was old enough to have opinions but hadn’t developed the inhibitions to conceal how I was feeling, that time when I wasn’t afraid to play, to climb trees, to ride my bike, to tell boys that I liked them. Being in clown means ultimately being brave and owning your story. And not only owning it, but sharing it as well.

So, according to Buzzfeed, there are 11 reasons why you should love clowns. To sum up, I’m going to give you 8 more:

1. They take the simple in life and make it profound
2. They can make you laugh
3. They find wonder in everything
4. They turn failure into success
5. They portray all extents of the human experience in a way that gives the audience some release and catharsis
6. They will be your best friend if you let them
7. They are brave
8. They are human

Finis.
Joyanne 😀

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Going Out With A Bang: A New Year’s Post

I was looking through one of my journals yesterday and noticed that two years ago yesterday I’d started this blog. Two years! I feel like I should be singing, “Happy Birthday, dear Philosophy Without The Degree… Happy Birthday to youuuuuuu!!!” But I will spare you and instead focus on writing this post since I realized almost at the same time that I haven’t written here in quite a while. True, I have been focusing on my travel blog/moving back to Edmonton/starting work again/Christmas… but I do feel a bit bad for neglecting my work here for so long.
Right, so New Years. I tell you, this year has just flown by! And at the same time, it feels like I’m exactly where I started. I suppose in a way I am. I’m working the same job I had before I left for Dublin, and I’m living in the same house also. I find myself having to constantly bring forward the memories of experiences I had in Dublin to my consciousness, as well as actually keep in touch with all the fabulous people I met while on my travels so I can keep sane. Finding myself in the same place for right now, though, doesn’t scare me as much as it should, though. I think because I had an amazing, challenging year, one full of discovery and growth, I am okay to be still for a little bit. But only a little bit. I can actually feel myself itching a teeny bit for some movement, but that’ll come soon enough since I’ve decided I’m moving to the city! It’s going to be hard, I know, since I’m basically broke, but I am ready for the challenge. I’m almost positive I’m going back to school in the fall, so that’s another upcoming change in the near future. You can actually read all about that decision (and really, my whole year) on my travel blog, if you’re at all curious.
And what am I hoping for? Well, good health for my family, friends, and myself, and more experiences to help me grow into a better person. I look back at my life in Dublin and I see a woman who’s brave and ready to try new things. I hope to be that woman here too, to share what I’ve learned and the gifts I’ve received from the good Lord. Also, lots of walks and picnics; I miss St. Stephen’s Green so much! Oh, and some grand live music in a pub that will become my regular, though O’Neill’s will never be forgotten. Some art to keep my creative edge sharpened, whether that be theatre, music, or writing. And a chance to do some good for others, somehow. That’s what I hope 2014 will bring.
And on that note, I put 2013 to rest and face 2014, metaphorical sword by my side, ready to conquer any challenges that may come my way. I hope you do the same.
May God bless you with a magnificent 2014!
Joyanne 😀

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