Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Lagniappe: When Platypuses Fly

Dr. Maturin, who has a great naturalist bent, is speaking to Captain Jack Aubrey of the possibility of their sailing to New South Wales.
"Jack, I cannot tell you how I long to see a platypus." ...

"Never mind. It will be much better this time. You shall see great flights of platypuses at your leisure."

"My dear, they are mammals, furry animals."

"I thought you said they laid eggs."

"So they do. That is what is so delightful. They also have bills like a duck."

"No wonder you long to see one."
Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation
(Master and Commander series #14)

Worth a Thousand Words: Grace Reading at Howath Bay

Grace Reading at Howth Bay (c.1900). William Orpen (Irish, 1878–1931).

Genesis Notes: Rebekah's Resume

Rebekah is a tricky lady to assess, in more ways than one. She is so willing and able when Isaac's servant needs water for the camels. She comforts Isaac for the loss of his mother. And yet she picks a favorite child and does all she can to help trick her other son out of his birthright. As with all real humans, she is complex. She does things we admire and things we deplore. I love this about the Bible. It shows us real people, warts and all, as I've said many a time.

Benjamin West (1738–1820), Isaac's servant tying the bracelet on Rebecca's arm
Strengths and accomplishments:
  • When confronted with a need, she took immediate action
  • She was accomplishment oriented
Weaknesses and mistakes:
  • Her initiative was not always balanced by wisdom
  • She favored one of her sons
  • She deceived her husband
Lessons from her life:
  • Our actions must be guided by God's Word
  • God makes use even of our mistakes in his plan
  • Parental favoritism hurts a family
Vital statistics:
  • Where: Haran, Canaan
  • Occupation: Wife, mother, household manager
  • Relatives: Grandparents - Nahor and Milcah. Father: Bethuel. Husband: Isaac. Brother: Laban. Twin sons - Jacob and Esau.
Key verse:
"Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death" (Genesis 24:67). "Isaac, who had a a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob" (Genesis 25:28).

Rebekah's story is told in Genesis 24-29. She also is mentioned in Romans 9:10.

All material quoted is from the Life Application Study Bible. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin

I love this celebration which always makes me meditate on the beauty of one good friend going to help another, carrying Christ with her to someone she loves.

The Visitation of Virgin Mary to Elizabeth.
The photographer says: "14th century wall-painting in the Timios Stavros Church in Pelendri.
The unborn John the Baptist bows before the unborn Jesus. ..."
Today we learn once more that each encounter with Mary implies a new discovery of Jesus: If you seek Mary, you will find Jesus. And you will learn a bit more about what is in the heart of a God who humbles himself,* who makes himself accessible in the midst of the routine of ordinary life. God's great gift to mankind whereby we can get to know and love Christ, had its beginning in Mary's faith, whose perfect fulfillment Elizabeth now openly reveals: The fullness of grace announced by the angel means the gift of God himself. Mary's faith, proclaimed by Elizabeth at the Visitation, indicates how the Virgin of Nazareth responded to this gift.** The Virgin Mary, who had already pronounced her complete and unconditional fiat, presents herself at the threshold of Zachary's house as the Mother of the Son of God. This is Elizabeth's joyful discovery,*** and ours too; it is one we can never get used to.
In Conversation with God:
Special Feasts: January - June
* J. Escriva, Christ is Passing By
** John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater
*** cf ibid

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 6

Oldest of all novenas, this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.



THE GIFT OF UNDERSTANDING
(Wednesday, 7th Week of Easter)
The gift of understanding enables us to grasp the deeper meaning of the Scriptures, the life of grace, the presence of Christ in each sacrament, and in a real substantial way in the Blessed Eucharist. It gives us, as it were, an instinct for what is supernatural in the world. For the eyes of one of Christ's faithful, illumined by the Holy Spirit, there is a whole new universe to be discovered. The mysteries of the Most Blessed trinity, the Incarnation, the Redemption, and the church become living realities affecting the day-to-day life of the Christian. They have a decisive influence on his work, on his family life and friendships. Prayer becomes deeper and easier.
THE NOVENA
Prayer: The Gift of Understanding


If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay,
All his good is turned to ill.

The Gift of Understanding
Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Spirit, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion BY faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to "walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God."

Prayer
Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Your Light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of You, Holy Spirit and the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to you, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of your purity, the unerring keenness of your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the strength and light of my soul. In you I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve you by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against you. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for your light, and listen to your voice, and follow your gracious inspirations. I cling to you and give myself to you and ask you, by your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced feet of Jesus and looking at his five wounds, and trusting in his precious blood and adoring his opened side and stricken heart, I implore you, adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, to keep me in your grace that I may never sin against you. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, spirit of the Father and the Son to say to you always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for your servant is listening." Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
O Lord Jesus Christ who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul, the work of your grace and your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with your spirit. Amen.

Check out the link under the picture for many more scans of wonderful art.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Well Said: Doing Something for God

Remember, "doing something for God" might not be God's will.
Father James Yamauchi
It is very much in our modern mindset and also in our American character to show that we care by trying to "do something." And, of course, often action is needed to feed the hungry, help the ill, and so forth. But we like to apply action to every circumstance in our lives.

We're problem solvers and "do-ers" and also ... let's face it ... sometimes a frenzy of activity is the easy way out. We don't have to think or reflect or face ourselves that way. God's ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts. Sometimes, as Tolstoy says, time and patience are the best warriors.

Worth a Thousand Words: The Long Leg

The Long Leg, Edward Hopper, c.1930
via WikiPaintings, in accordance with the Fair Use guidelines listed there

Scott's Skype unexpectedly updates. ...

... Julie is furious — that Old Time Skype was good enough for her! Inherit the Wind (1960) is the subject of Episode 158 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 5

Oldest of all novenas, this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.



THE GIFT OF KNOWLEDGE
(Tuesday, 7th Week of Easter)
The gift of knowledge enables man to understand created things as signs which led to God, and the meaning of their elevation to the supernatural order. Through the world of nature and grace the Holy Spirit enables us to perceive and contemplate the infinite wisdom, power and goodness of God. God's nature is reflected in created things. Like the gifts of understanding and of wisdom, the gift of knowledge is a contemplative gift enabling us to see into the very mystery of God (M.M. Philipon).

Through the gift of knowledge the Christian who is docile to the Holy Spirit will learn to discern perfectly between what leads to God and what separates from him, in the field of arts, of fashion, and in the world of ideas. Truly he will be able to say that wisdom guided him on straight paths; she showed him the kingdom of God, and gave him knowledge of angels (cf Wis 10:10). The Holy Spirit himself will warn us when what is good and true in itself is in danger of becoming bad by leading us away from our last supernatural end. It could be a disordered desire for material possessions, or an attachment to these goods in a way that does not leave the heart free to serve God.
THE NOVENA
Prayer: The Gift of Knowledge


Light immortal! Light divine!
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.

The Gift of Knowledge
The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth--in their relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity, and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first, and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. "Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it."

Prayer
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Your glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to You, and Your eternal rewards. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to you, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of your purity, the unerring keenness of your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the strength and light of my soul. In you I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve you by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against you. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for your light, and listen to your voice, and follow your gracious inspirations. I cling to you and give myself to you and ask you, by your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced feet of Jesus and looking at his five wounds, and trusting in his precious blood and adoring his opened side and stricken heart, I implore you, adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, to keep me in your grace that I may never sin against you. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, spirit of the Father and the Son to say to you always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for your servant is listening." Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
O Lord Jesus Christ who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul, the work of your grace and your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with your spirit. Amen.

Check out the link under the picture for many more scans of wonderful art.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Well Said: Bravery

People glorify all sorts of bravery except the bravery they might show on behalf of their nearest neighbors.
George Eliot, Middlemarch

Worth a Thousand Words: Spring in a Hot Spring

Spring in a Hot Spring (Onsen no haru), Hiroshi Yoshida
via Lines and Colors

Memorial Day


I can only offer my whole-hearted thanks and gratitude to those who gave their lives for their country. All the freedoms we enjoy today would not be ours if it were not for these sacrificial souls.

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 4

Oldest of all novenas, this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.



THE GIFT OF FORTITUDE
(Monday, 7th Week of Easter)
The virtue of fortitude, perfected by the gift of the Holy Spirit, enables us to overcome the obstacles that in one way or another we encounter along the path of holiness, but it doesn't remove the weakness of human nature, the fear of danger, pain or weariness. A person who is strong can still experience fear, but can overcome it thanks to love. Precisely because of love, a Christian is able to face greater risks, even though one may feel repugnance not only at the beginning, but also for as long as the trial lasts or the desired-for object is still being sought. Fortitude does not always eliminate the deficiencies inherent in all created beings.

This virtue can bring one to offer one's life willingly in witness to the faith if our Lord so desires it. Martyrdom is the supreme act of fortitude, and God has demanded it of many of the faithful throughout the history of the Church. The martyrs have been -- and are -- the Church's crown, another testimony to her divine origin and her holiness. Every Christian ought to be prepared to give his or her life for Christ if circumstances demand it. The Holy Spirit would then give one the strength and courage to face this supreme test. Normally, though, what is asked of us is heroism in the little things, in the daily fulfillment of our duties.
THE NOVENA
Prayer: The Gift of Fortitude


Thou in toil art comfort sweet,
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.


The Gift of Fortitude

By the gift of Fortitude the soul is strengthened against natural fear, and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to under take without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. "He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved."

Prayer
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from You, my God and greatest Good. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to you, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of your purity, the unerring keenness of your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the strength and light of my soul. In you I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve you by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against you. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for your light, and listen to your voice, and follow your gracious inspirations. I cling to you and give myself to you and ask you, by your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced feet of Jesus and looking at his five wounds, and trusting in his precious blood and adoring his opened side and stricken heart, I implore you, adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, to keep me in your grace that I may never sin against you. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, spirit of the Father and the Son to say to you always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for your servant is listening." Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
O Lord Jesus Christ who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul, the work of your grace and your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with your spirit. Amen.

Check out the link under the picture for many more scans of wonderful art.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 3

Oldest of all novenas, this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.



THE GIFT OF PIETY
(Sunday, 7th Week of Easter)
Piety enables us to appreciate our divine filiation, giving our relationship with God the tenderness and affection of a son for his father.

Divine filiation is an effect of the gift of piety that causes us to relate to God with the tenderness and affection of a good son towards his father, and to relate to the rest of mankind as brothers of the same family.

In the Old Testament this gift is seen in many ways, particularly in the constant prayer of the Chosen People to God: sentiments of praise and petition; adoration of God's divine majesty; intimate confessions with express to the Heavenly Father with all simplicity our joys, sorrows and hopes ... Especially in the psalms we can find all the sentiments that fill the soul in its confident dialogue with God.
THE NOVENA
Prayer: The Gift of Piety


Thou, of all consolers best,
Visiting the troubled breast
Dost refreshing peace bestow.

The Gift of Piety
The gift of Piety begets in our hearts a filial affection for God as our most loving Father. It inspires us to love and respect for His sake persons and things consecrated to Him, as well as those who are vested with His authority, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, the Church and its visible Head, our parents and superiors, our country and its rulers. He who is filled with the gift of Piety finds the practice of his religion, not a burdensome duty, but a delightful service. Where there is love, there is no labor.

Prayer
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart. Enkindle therein such a love for God, that I may find satisfaction only in His service, and for His sake lovingly submit to all legitimate authority. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to you, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of your purity, the unerring keenness of your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the strength and light of my soul. In you I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve you by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against you. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for your light, and listen to your voice, and follow your gracious inspirations. I cling to you and give myself to you and ask you, by your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced feet of Jesus and looking at his five wounds, and trusting in his precious blood and adoring his opened side and stricken heart, I implore you, adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, to keep me in your grace that I may never sin against you. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, spirit of the Father and the Son to say to you always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for your servant is listening." Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
O Lord Jesus Christ who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul, the work of your grace and your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with your spirit. Amen.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 2

Oldest of all novenas, this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.

THE GIFT OF FEAR
(Saturday, 6th Week of Easter)
Love and fear. These must be the accompaniments of our way. When love banishes fear, fear itself is changed into love (St. Gregory of Nyssa). It is the fear of a child who loves his Father without reserve, and who will allow nothing in the world to distance him from that Father. Then the soul understands better the infinity which separates it from God and at the same time its condition as a child of God. Never until now has it trusted more in God; never, either, has it respected and venerated him more. When the holy fear of God is lost, the sense of sin becomes diluted or vanishes. Then tepidity easily enters the soul. It fails to discern the power and majesty of God, and the honor due to him. ...

Among the principal effects which the fear of God works in the soul are detachment from created things, and an interior attitude of vigilance to avoid the least occasion of sin. The soul acquires a particular sensitivity to discern whatever can grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30).
THE NOVENA
Prayer: The Gift of Fear


Come, thou Father of the poor!
Come, with treasures which endure!
Come, thou light of all that live!

The Gift of Fear
The gift of Fear
fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by sin. It is a fear that arises, not from the thought of hell, but from sentiments of reverence and filial submission to our heavenly Father. It is the fear that is the beginning of wisdom, detaching us from worldly pleasures that could in any way separate us from God. "They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and in His sight will sanctify their souls."

Prayer
Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set you, my Lord and God, before my face forever. Help me to shun all things that can offend You, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of Your Divine Majesty in heaven, where You live and reign in the unity of the ever Blessed Trinity, God world without end. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to you, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of your purity, the unerring keenness of your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the strength and light of my soul. In you I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve you by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against you. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for your light, and listen to your voice, and follow your gracious inspirations. I cling to you and give myself to you and ask you, by your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced feet of Jesus and looking at his five wounds, and trusting in his precious blood and adoring his opened side and stricken heart, I implore you, adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, to keep me in your grace that I may never sin against you. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, spirit of the Father and the Son to say to you always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for your servant is listening." Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
O Lord Jesus Christ who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul, the work of your grace and your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with your spirit. Amen.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Well Said: Stop thinking about yourself

This is from a 1917 mystery featuring a female detective, Millie, who has an unusual way of dealing with cases. Here she has explained to a prospective client that she doesn't deal in divorce cases because they are too "high" (difficult). She goes on to give some advice instead.
"I will give you a piece of advice if you like."

"I am willing to pay well for it," he expanded.

"This is not for pay. No matter what your wife has done, go home and do everything you can that will be for her good."

The man stared.

"Stop thinking about yourself and your wrongs. I don't know what they are. I'd rather not know. Whatever they are, they are past. If it is best for your wife to leave you then help her do it. Stop thinking about yourself."

The man's narrow eyes widened a little as they studied the quiet face before him.

She nodded. "Help her to get away from you if you think she will be better off."

The man's eyes continued to regard her with a puzzled look.

"But I'd be pretty sure, if I were you, that it's best for her to leave you. It would be a silly sort of body if it's heart went wrong, that went to work planning to get rid of it, divorce it for good and all. That's a homely way of saying it. I'm a homely woman and when people are married they seem to me one just as truly as the body is all one. I don't divorce part of me unless it's too bad to be made right. If it is, I go to a good surgeon and tell him to make quick work of it."

She paused with a thoughtful look and smiled. "But the best surgeons now, they tell me, don't believe in amputating. They bring their cases to a serum specialist, don't they?" She nodded toward the card on the desk. "And you find out what's wrong and give them some more of the same kind, only different and they get well."

The look in the man's darted and broke in a little laugh. "You think I'd better give Rose serum treatment? Spiritual serum?" He chuckled. His face had cleared. "I wonder what kind," he said thoughtfully. His face had the keen look of a scientist attacking a difficult problem.

"Some brand of human kindness, I should say," responded Millie dryly.

The man laughed and got up. "I believe you've been giving me serum treatment." He held out his hand. ...

"I am going home," he said. "I came here with the idea that I was a desperate figure, a kind of modern Othello, blighted life and so on due to infidelity. You have made me see I'm sick, a kind of spiritual invalid that hasn't sense enough to take care of a common cold, just goes around suffering with it."
Jennette Lee, The Green Jacket
"Stop thinking about yourself."

If more of us put the good of the other person first, what a lovely world it would be wouldn't it? That's an interesting perspective for a detective who investigates murders and theft. Full of common sense and a knowledge of what makes people tick.

Note: I'm not sure what serum treatment meant in 1917. When I look on the usually reliable internet all I find is ads for skin and facial treatments so it clearly doesn't mean now what it did then.

Worth a Thousand Words: Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna

Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna,
sister of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, ca. 1880s
via The Corseted Beauty

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 1

Oldest of all novenas,
this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.


THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
(Friday, 6th Week of Easter)
The gift of understanding shows us the riches of the Faith with greater clarity. The gift of knowledge enables us to judge created things in an upright manner, and to keep our heart fixed on God, and on things insofar as they lead us to him The gift of wisdom enables us to comprehend the unfathomable wonder of God, and it urges us to seek him in preference to all other things, amid our ordinary work and obligations. The gift of counsel points out the paths of holiness to us -- God's Will in our ordinary daily life -- encourages us to choose the option which most closely coincides with the glory of God, and the good of our fellow man. The gift of piety inclines us to treat God with the intimacy with which a child treats his father. The gift of fortitude uplifts continually, helping us to overcome the difficulties which we inevitably meet on our journey to God. The gift of fear induces us to flee the occasions of sin, resist temptation, avoid every evil which could sadden the Holy Spirit, and to fear above all the loss of the One whom we love, and who is th reason of being of our life.

THE NOVENA
Prayer: The Holy Spirit


Holy Spirit! Lord of Light!
From Your clear celestial height,
Your pure beaming radiance give!
The Holy Spirit
Only one thing is important -- eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared--sin. Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for "The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us."

Let us pray:
Almighty and eternal God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Spirit, and hast given us forgiveness of all sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us your sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.


Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.



Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to you, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of your purity, the unerring keenness of your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the strength and light of my soul. In you I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve you by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against you. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for your light, and listen to your voice, and follow your gracious inspirations. I cling to you and give myself to you and ask you, by your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced feet of Jesus and looking at his five wounds, and trusting in his precious blood and adoring his opened side and stricken heart, I implore you, adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, to keep me in your grace that I may never sin against you. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, spirit of the Father and the Son to say to you always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for your servant is listening." Amen.


Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
O Lord Jesus Christ who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul, the work of your grace and your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with your spirit. Amen.

St. Philip Neri's Feast Day or "Did Laughing At Yourself Help At All?"

I have always been attracted to this saint without too much of a specific reason other than I knew that he loved to laugh. Then I read a bit more about him and saw that was reason enough. Joy and gaiety were so much a part of his normal disposition that Goethe, who esteemed him highly, called him the "humorous saint." It was his gay, blithe spirit that opened for him the hearts of children. "Philip Neri, learned and wise, by sharing the pranks of children himself became a child again" (epitaph). (from Catholic Culture.)

So it is no wonder that he appeals to me.

One of the stories that attracted me to him is this one from Beginning to Pray by Anthony Bloom. This is one of those classic saint tales that remind us no one is perfect ... so there is hope for each of us.
It is absolutely pointless to ask God for something which we ourselves are not prepared to do. If we say "O God, make me free from this or that temptation" while at the same time seeking every possible way of falling to just such a temptation, hoping now that God is in control, that He will get us out of it, then we do not stand much chance. God gives us strength but we must use it. When, in our prayers, we ask God to give us strength to do something in His Name, we are not asking Him to do it instead of us because we are too feeble to be willing to do it for ourselves.

The lives of the saints are enlightening in this respect, and in the life of St. Philip Neri just such an occasion is described. He was an irascible man who quarreled easily and had violent outbursts of anger and of course endured violent outbursts from his brothers. One day he felt that it could not go on. Whether it was virtue or whether he could no longer endure his brothers his Vita does not tell us. The fact is that he ran to the chapel, fell down before a statue of Christ and begged Him to free him of his anger. He then walked out full of hope. The first person he met was one of the brothers who had never aroused the slightest anger in him, but for the first time in his life this brother was offensive and unpleasant to him. So Philip burst out with anger and went on, full of rage, to meet another of his brothers, who had always been a source of consolation and happiness to him. Yet even this man answered him gruffly. So Philip ran back to the chapel, cast himself before the statue of Christ and said "O Lord have I not asked you to free me from this anger?" And the Lord answered "Yes, Philip, and for this reason I am multiplying the occasions for you to learn."
We need to remember to laugh. And then to ask ourselves, "did laughing at yourself help at all?"

It almost always does. A sense of the ridiculous, especially one's own ridiculousness, is extremely helpful in regaining perspective.

And, back to the humor factor, we all know that The Curt Jester is all over the holy humor thing. I proffer this little gem from his fertile imagination.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Point of Entry

Point of Entry
taken by Valerie, ucumari photography
Some rights reserved

Well Said: Books and Sharks

I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, more than 20 years before the Kindle showed up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them.
Neil Gaiman in a talk about libraries

Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord: Making Heaven Present Everywhere

From previous years, but revised. Let's face it, this is a work in progress.


The Ascension of Christ
Salvador Dali, 1958

Traditionally this is called Ascension Thursday (because Pentecost Sunday is nine days later) but the many of the U.S. Bishops (and those of other places, I believe) have seen it as good to change the number of days that Christ considered necessary between his rising to Heaven and the Spirit's coming to the apostles in the Upper Room at Pentecost. They moved it to Sunday. It's more convenient that way, don't you know.

I have railed against this in the past and some rail against it now.

However, I am struck by one thing over all others.

Christ's ascension to Heaven signals the beginning of the Holy Spirit's age on Earth. Not a day goes by that I don't call the Holy Spirit to me, asking for wisdom, leaning hard on His peace and calm. I am so grateful for Him in my life.

I don't care when the Ascension happened. I am simply glad that it did.

For one thing I am always left a bit giggly at the image of the dumbstruck followers looking up where Jesus disappeared into the clouds. And the sudden appearance of the two men in white who asked why they were standing there looking at the sky. I imagine everyone was overawed by the events that had just occurred, not to mention the sudden appearance of angels, but I always feel I'd have been the smart-mouth who said, "Maybe this happens every day where you come from, but for us this is something new."

The Ascension of the Lord marks the beginning of something brand new.  I give thanks.

UPDATED
Our priest's homily a few years ago made it clear that I missed a vital point about the ascension. I stand corrected and gladly enlightened.
(paraphrasing like crazy)

Christ's ascent raises humankind as well. Jesus is not only consubstantial with the Father. He is also consubstantial with us. Wholly God. Wholly man.

He killed death so we would not have to fear it any longer. He ascends to Heaven to take us there as well.
Amen.

Giotto di Bondone, Ascension of Christ, circa 1300.
Jesus seems almost to be breaking out of the top of the picture, but as he does so, he is not so much going away into heaven as making heaven present everywhere.
Jane Williams, Faces of Christ
I love that image. It looks as if Christ is opening a big package and that gift that will come in 9 days is the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Well Said: I have learned many things ...

I must confess that I have learned many things I never knew before ... just by writing.
St. Augustine
There's something about having to organize one's thoughts enough to write that sends them further than they'd have gone if everything just remained in one's mind. It is funny how that is. It is why keeping a journal, a blog, or writing letters (or emails) is so good for us. Like St. Augustine we learn things we never knew before.

Genesis Notes: Isaac's Resume

As I said last week, we tend to overlook Isaac because he's a fairly quiet, unassuming soul compared to the vivid personalities that come before and after him. And yet, God told his father, "I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him." That's huge. That's everything, in fact, for the Hebrew people. And for us. God saw his heart and worked with him just as with the more active members of the family.

Meeting of Isaac and Rebecca, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
Strengths and accomplishments:
  • He was the miracle child born to Sarah and Abraham when she was 90 years old and he was 100
  • He was the first descendent in fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham
  • He seems to have been a caring and consistent husband
  • He demonstrated great patience
Weaknesses and mistakes:
  • Under pressure, he tended to lie
  • In conflict he sought to avoid confrontation
Lessons from his life:
  • Patience often brings rewards
  • Both God's plans and his promises are larger than people
  • God keeps his promises. He remains faithful though we are often faithless
  • Playing favorites is sure to bring family conflict
Vital statistics:
  • Where: The area called the Negev, in the southern part of Palestine, between Kadesh and Shur (Genesis 20:1)
  • Occupation: Wealthy livestock owner
  • Relatives: Parents - Abraham and Sarah. Half brother - Ishmael. Wife: Rebekah. Sons - Jacob and Esau.
Key verse:
"Then God said, 'Yes, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.'" (Genesis 17:19)

Isaac's story is told in Genesis 17:15-35:29. He also is mentioned in Romans 9:7, 8; Hebrews 11:17-20; James 2:21-24.
All material quoted is from the Life Application Study Bible. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Worth a Thousand Words: Baking Bread

Baking Bread, Helen Allingham

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Our Nation, In Numbers: USA Facts

Where does the money come from?

Where does the money go?

What are the results?
Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, has put $10 million of his own money into discovering the answer to these questions about government spending.

The result is USAFacts, a site which has wonderfully easy graphics to help us make sense of where our money goes.

The best part is that they aren't pushing an agenda, except aiding understanding.
We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative and have no political agenda or commercial motive. We provide this information as a free public service and are committed to maintaining and expanding it in the future.

We rely exclusively on publicly available government data sources. We don’t make judgments or prescribe specific policies. Whether government money is spent wisely or not, whether our quality of life is improving or getting worse – that’s for you to decide. We hope to spur serious, reasoned, and informed debate on the purpose and functions of government. Such debate is vital to our democracy.
Spend some time browsing around. It's fascinating and surprising.


Lagniappe: Trying to negotiate with Beethoven...

Trying to negotiate with Beethoven was like trying to take a steak away from a hyena.
Robert Greenberg,
How to Listen to and Understand Great Music

Worth a Thousand Words: “Over a Balcony,” View of the Grand Canal, Venice

“Over a Balcony,” View of the Grand Canal, Venice;
Francis Hopkinson Smith
via Lines and Colors

Monday, May 22, 2017

Well Said: This Stalinist Path of History-Flattening and Monument-Erasure

On the dismantling of monuments, specifically four Confederate monuments in New Orleans:
Most people seem to need this debate to be more simple. Not only Ivy League professors and descendants of Confederate veterans, but also those who should know better. Maybe Americans’ deep-rooted Puritanism drives them to view every person as either glorified or damned.

And so we spiral down this Stalinist path of history-flattening and monument-erasure, one side waving a battle flag that Robert E. Lee himself renounced, the other insisting that every man who wore gray was little different than Leonardo DiCaprio’s caricature in “Django Unchained.” Americans long ago abandoned Lincoln’s admonition—malice toward none, charity for all—and in some important ways the U.S. is less united today than in 1866.

In a world of demons and angels, we can’t agree on who’s which. And we don’t have the charity in our hearts to admit most of us are somewhere in between.
Tony Woodlief, Charity for All? Not in Today’s Debates Over Civil War Memorials
You may read the entire editorial at the Wall Street Journal or at Lux Libertas.

As my husband said, "Tyrants are always the ones who erase history. Now we don't have an individual tyrant. It's been institutionalized."

In my own case, having just finished rereading A Tale of Two Cities, I was put in mind of the mob in the French revolution and Madame Defarge in particular. Not a drop of charity there for anyone.

Worth a Thousand Words: Prelude in C Sharp Minor

Prelude in C Sharp Minor by Edward B. Gordon

Friday, May 19, 2017

Well Said: Our inequalities become openings to love ...

People are equal in one sense only, but it's a decisive sense deeper than any simple equations of worth. ...

Our dignity is rooted in the God who made us. His love, shared in every parent's experience, is infinite and unique for each of us as individual persons - because each son and daughter is unrepeatable. Only God's love guarantees our worth. And therein lies our equality. Nothing else has God's permanence. In him, our inequalities become not cruelties of fate, but openings to love, support, and "complete" each other in his name.
Charles J. Chaput, Strangers in a Strange Land

Worth a Thousand Words: Girl in a red dress reading by a swimming pool

Girl in a red dress reading by a swimming pool (1887). Sir John Lavery (Irish, 1856-1941). 

Hey, I didn't know they had swimming pools in 1887.

Going out of town for a quick getaway to celebrate our anniversary. I won't be as delightfully dressed as the Girl in a Red Dress, but I could see myself lounging and reading while others swim.

My Christopher Closeup Interview Airs Sunday on Sirius-XM and Relevant Radio


I was so honored when Tony Rossi from The Christophers asked to interview me about my new book, Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life.

First of all, because I respect The Christophers so much. Their motto, "It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness," is how I try to live. They've been promoting this mindset for a very long time.

Secondly, because I have so much fun talking to Tony. He is a first-rate interviewer and asks such interesting questions, many of which never would have occurred to me in the first place. And he's read the book — I could tell precisely because of the questions he asked.

We got in some extra talking time so my interview will air in two parts.

Part 1 of the interview will air this Sunday:
  • Sirius-XM’s The Catholic Channel (129) at 6:00 am and 10:30 am (Central time)
  • Relevant Radio network at 3:30 pm (Central time)
Tune in and get the inside scoop on Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life ... and me!

33 Years of Wedded Bliss

We can tell what doesn't work in marriages. So often today people ask, "Who will make me happy?" But what we should ask is, "Who will I love so much that I will sacrifice myself to make them happy?"
Father Roch Kereszty

It's our wedding anniversary today and although our lives have their fair share of challenge at the moment, it has done nothing to our marriage but draw us closer together.

That makes all the years of working out how to best love and serve each other worth it. I'm sure we'll look back on this time and find it has done nothing but add to our deep love and respect for each other.

Dear, even-tempered Tom is truly my soul mate. I'm so very lucky that he loves me as much as I love him. He has taught me so much over the years about music, about thinking, about humor, about originality, about kindness and consideration. Not because he actively taught me but just by being around him. That in itself tells you a lot about the sort of person Tom is.

It's wonderful having spent 33 years with someone. You know each other's references (jokes become real one-liners), you understand each other's moods, and it is a deep, restful relationship that is not without delightful times of surprise and passion.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff by Remo Savisaar

Well Said: Our battle-flag

The battle-flag is always placed among warriors, as a sign to which they look during the hardest fighting of the battle. We are continuously at war with the princes of darkness ... If anyone is troubled, vanquished, and overcome, let him look to the Lord hanging on the gibbet of the cross.
St. Thomas of Villanova
Amen.

Genesis Notes: Isaac, the Bridge Between Generations

GENESIS 25 & 26
Other than nearly being sacrificed by his father, Isaac's life seems pretty boring. He can't keep his sons straight, has trouble controlling "bad boy" Jacob, and generally doesn't seem as if we can learn too much from him. Wrong, as Catholic Scripture Study showed me. I fell into that same old trap of thinking that there is only a lesson if something is interesting. But God doesn't work that way.

"And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.(KJV);
  illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible
The life of Isaac seems insignificant next to the careers of his father Abraham and his son Jacob. There are few chapters of Scripture devoted to Isaac, and most of his story is entwined with the story of the other Patriarchs. Even the Catechism moves from "God chooses Abraham" (59-61) to "God forms his people Israel" (62-64) without mentioning Isaac by name. Yet he is a Patriarch, his name forever included when Israelites call on the name of God, the father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Isaac's main role seems to be one of a bridge between Abraham, father of those who believe, and Jacob, father of Israel. Isaac safeguards and transmits the promise through his own faithful obedience. He embodies the continuity of God's promise, the link through whom it passes from generation to generation. But there is more significance to him than that:
  1. Isaac waits for God's promise, as indeed do all of the Patriarchs. Those 20 years spent praying for a son not only helped form Isaac in faith, they became an example for Israel as it waited for God's promised Messiah. As it is pointed out in Dei Verbum, "through the patriarchs...[God] taught this nation to acknowledge Himself as the one living and true God,...and to wait for the Savior promised by Him. In this manner He prepared the way for the gospel down through the centuries (DV3)."
  2. Isaac is also the fruit, the evidence of God's promise. He is the impossible child, born of two people well past the age of childbearing. His name means "laughter," and his name is a perpetual reminder that God promises the impossible and keeps His promises.
  3. And as the obedient son of the promise, Isaac prefigures Jesus Christ, the promised Son of God. He walked willingly and obediently up the hill to be sacrificed, even as Christ would so many years later. His life is a living testimony to "the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were (Rom. 4:17)." He is the loving son and father and husband, the obedient son through whom God pours His blessing on a nation and on the world.
All quotes from Genesis, Part II: God and His Family. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Tuna Assortment

Source

Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes

Not yo mama's regular fish cakes ... these have a definite Asian style. Get them at Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen.

Well Said: Sacred Idleness

Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.
George MacDonald
We don't really know how to react to such a statement in our rushed, busy world. That in itself is probably a sign that we need to practice sacred idleness. Otherwise, when do we even have time to listen, to hear?

Julie finds Marvin amusing, which depresses him even more. Scott begins working on a Jupiter-sized computer to replace the Earth.


Grab your towels and join us for Episode 158 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast where we discuss The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Nerds, Start Your Engines: Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Firefly - and Boethius

Initial depicting Boethius teaching his students from folio of a manuscript of the Consolation of Philosophy (Italy?, 1385)

I never heard of The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius until a couple of years ago when a friend mentioned, somewhat diffidently, that she was reading it. She said just enough to intrigue me and the book looked intriguingly short. It went onto my mental "read someday" list and that was as far as I got.

Until now. Corey Olsen's first Mythgard Academy class on The Consolation of Philosophy hit my iTunes feed. I've mentioned the Mythgard classes before, especially those to do with the Lord of the Rings and Dracula. They are really excellent and they are free.

As it turns out The Consolation of Philosophy is not only one of the most influential books through Middle Ages and Renaissance, but strongly influenced J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Not to mention that the ideas continue to filter through pop culture and can pop up in such unlikely places as Firefly.

You're not likely to find a better guide or an easier way to learn about this classic work.

Read more about the book and class at Mythgard Academy.

Here's where you can find the podcast at iTunes.

Worth a Thousand Words: Self-portrait with two pupils

Self-portrait with two pupils, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, 1785.

Well Said: Messengers of God

Malachim, or messengers. Christianity has defined these messengers as what we know as angels. The more ancient interpretation in Judaism is that the malachim could be anything. They could be heavenly spirits. Or not. They could come in the form of ordinary people, donkeys, a flame, or even a breeze.
Stephen Tobolowsky, My Adventures with God

Friday, May 12, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Self-Portrait in the Studio

Francisco Goya, Self-portrait in the Studio, 1790-1795
via Wikipedia

I have a thing for self-portraits. Also I love Goya's hat. And his hair.

Well Said: Relationships and the level of your greatest weakness

Relationships never operate at the level of your greatest strengths. They operate at the level of your greatest weakness. Whoever is unfaithful, whoever is more needy, whoever is late, controls the nature of the friendship. You can swing with it or not, but you can’t count on changing it.
Stephen Tobolowsky, My Adventures with God

Getting Closer to Jesus: His Mother

This beautiful, profound meditation on Mary and why we should imitate her is from The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander.
When we are attracted to a particular saint, it is usually the little human details which attract us. These touches bridge the immense gap between heroic virtue and our weakness. We love most those saints who before they were great saints were great sinners.

But even those who were saints form the cradle are brought closer to us by recorded trifles of their humanness ...

Of Our Lady such things are not recorded. We complain that so little is recorded of her personality, so few of her words, so few deeds, that we can form no picture of her, and there is nothing that we can lay hold of to imitate.

But it is Our Lady -- and no other saint -- whom we can imitate.

All the canonized saints had special vocations, and special gifts for their fulfillment: presumption for me to think of imitating St. Catherine or St. Paul or St. Joan if I have not their unique character and intellect -- which indeed I have not.

Each saint has his special work: one person's work. But Our Lady had to include in her vocation, in her life's work, the essential thing that was to be hidden in every other vocation, in every life.

She is not only human; she is humanity.

The one thing that she did and does is the one thing that we all have to do, namely, to bear Christ into the world.

Christ must be born from every soul formed in every life. If we had a picture of Our Lady's personality, we might be dazzled into thinking that only one sort of person could form Christ in himself, and we should miss the meaning of our own being.

Nothing but things essential for us are revealed to us about the Mother of God: the fact that she was wed to the Holy Spirit and bore Christ into the world.

Our crowning joy is that she did this as a lay person and through the ordinary daily life that we all live; through natural love made supernatural, as the water at Cana was, at her request, turned into wine.

In the world as it is, torn with agonies and dissensions, we need some direction for our souls which is never away from us; which, without enslaving us or narrowing our vision, enters into every detail of our life. Everyone longs for some such inward rule, a universal rule as big as the immeasurable law of love, yet as little as the narrowness of our daily routine. It must be so truly part of us all that it makes us all one, and yet to each one the secret of his own life with God.

To this need, the imitation of Our Lady is the answer; in contemplating her we find intimacy with God, the law which is the lovely yoke of the one irresistible love.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Well Said: A vision above material things

Projects undreamed of by past generations will absorb our immediate descendants; forces terrific and devastating will be in their hands; comforts, activities, amenities, pleasures will crowd upon them, but their hearts will ache, their lives will be barren, if they have not a vision above material things.
Winston Churchill

My Year of "In Order" - TV, Novels, Movies

I just realized that I've fallen into a number of long series that it seemed logical to do "in order." That's not normally my style for things like the James Bond movies, where it is completely ok to see most of them without any reference to the others.

And, on the other side of that equation, I'm usually perfectly fine with not finishing series. I never read more than the first of the Dune series, was able to abandon Community after Season 3 (the last good season), and so forth.

But, for these seemed like it would be fun, somehow. They all seem specially suited for summer which is just around the corner.

STAR TREK


This is actually Rose's project because she's never seen the tv shows although she knows the movies. At one point (the tragic period between the original series and The Next Generation), I'd watched these enough that I practically had them memorized. It's been decades since I've seen them, especially in order, and I'm really enjoying working our way through the first season.

We'll keep going until we're done with all the Trek series, making this possibly a lifetime project.

DISCWORLD novels


I've loved some of Terry Pratchett's novels for a long time. Witches Abroad was the first book of his I read. I still remember how delighted I was by his skewering our dependence on the patterns of storytelling while at the same time telling a wonderfully funny and insightful story. I noticed Rose has been reading some of his older books and I realized they are the perfect books for summer and letting the world go hang. I'd read the first few long ago and so launched in with Guards! Guards! and got to know the Watch of Ankh Morpork who I'd only encountered before as comic side characters in the witches stories.

BOND, JAMES BOND


Our household has seen tons of James Bond movies but we realized there are big holes in our viewing. George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, and even a few Sean Connery and Roger Moore movies are missing from our Bond experience. The movies we've individually missed overlapped so much that we decided to fill in the gaps in order. Which will be most of the movies by the time we get done. What says summer better than James Bond movies?