Today is a Holy Day of Obligation (Opportunity) for Catholics. It's a chance to attend mass to celebrate Jesus' mother, Mary and her place in Heaven. Mary is a hot topic for those trying to argue against the Catholic faith. Most of the time other Christian religions simply do not understand what the true teaching of the Church is on the subject. I won't argue or defend the teaching here (not now anyway.) I will however state that no-matter your opinion of the Virgin Mary, everyone can agree that the song Ave Maria is one of the most beautiful religious songs ever written and when sung properly will bring goose-bumps to even the hardest of hearts. We are so blessed to have a wonderful vocalist at our little church in Hilmar. And (surely not by coincidence) her name is Maria. As I am quick to ridicule music at mass that is presented poorly, I must also be quick to recognize when it is exceptional. Tonight, it was extraordinary. Maria is bilingual, so we were also treated to a Marian song in Portuguese. I don't speak the language but I picked up on the key words and knew the subject of the song. The melody and Maria's voice were wonderful at prayerfully painting the picture for me. She truly is a gift of grace and makes it so much easier to praise and worship during mass.