Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy First Sunday of Advent!

The first reading for today's liturgy is taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah. This particularly struck me:

Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
While you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for...

We have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt has carried us away like the wind.

Our guilt has carried us away like the wind. Carry us back, Lord God our Redeemer! Carry us back to the hearth of the heavenly realms, where our true family lives in constant amazement and joy. Let the Spirit and the Bride say, Come! Let us dwell with God our father, Christ our brother, Mary our mother, the hosts of angels and the clouds of witnesses, carried back by the wind of the Holy Spirit, back to the boundless love of the Most High God, may He be praised forever!

The Stabosz brothers, Thanksgiving 2008

My husband Bill, a native Chicagoan, travels home each year for Thanksgiving. He's been doing this since his mother Helen (of blessed memory) first took sick many years ago.  This year our baby Emily and her husband Scott, expecting their own baby in less than a month, traveled with him.

Here is a Kodak moment from Thanksgiving at sister Marge's - the three Stabosz brothers. From left to right these are Wally, Tom and Bill -- youngest, oldest and middle brother. 

I wanted to find a brother poem to go with this picture.  After a bit of browsing I settled on this one, from Thomas Merton, even though narrative-wise it is not appropriate. But this is my favorite poem about the love between brothers.  And being that, 25 years later, we are still at war, and men still grieve their brothers, it is not all that inappropriate. 

For My Brother - Missing in Action 1943

Sweet brother, if I do not sleep
My eyes are flowers for your tomb;
And if I cannot eat my bread,
My fasts shall live like willows where you died.
If in the heat I find no water for my thirst,
My thirst shall turn to springs for you, poor traveller.

Where, in what desolate and smokey country,
Lies your poor body, lost and dead?
And in what landscape of disaster
Has your unhappy spirit lost its road?

Come, in my labor find a resting place
And in my sorrows lay your head,
Or rather take my life and blood
And buy yourself a better bed -
Or take my breath and take my death
And buy yourself a better rest.

When all the men of war are shot
And flags have fallen into dust,
Your cross and mine shall tell men still
Christ died on each, for both of us.

For in the wreckage of your April Christ lies slain,
And Christ weeps in the ruins of my spring:
The money of Whose tears shall fall
Into your weak and friendless hand,
And buy you back to your own land:

The silence of Whose tears shall fall
Like bells upon your alien tomb.
Hear them and come: they call you home.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wal-mart employee trampled to death

I never go shopping on Black Friday. Is this an example of normal BF behavior that got out of hand? Or is it a sign of the economic desperation of the times? That's a rhetorical question. It's a horrible, completely preventable tragedy. But will we be seeing more of this mob behavior in the coming months?

Monday, November 24, 2008

... for the grace of God; Judee Sill, sweetly singing crayon angel

An hour ago I was listening to my brand new Judee Sill CD and weeping.  The tears fell as I heard the well-remembered harmonies of her second album, Heart Food. And the lyrics. 
Soldier of the heart, how'd you get so strong, 
soldier of the heart, take me along. 
Soldier of the heart, how'd you get so true.
soldier of the heart, I'm marching with you.
The battlefield's so cold, take my heart as a token, I long to give it to you.

Flying after a faraway cry,
I wandered to a brink so high,
Plunging down to the last degree,
The next thing I knew I came to,
And saw he was carrying me.  - Soldier of the Heart

I can't tell you how many times I listened to Sill's album, Heart Food, thirty-three years ago with a baby, a toddler, & a newly reawakened faith in Christ and in the Catholic Church. Her music was so beautiful, and so inspiring -- spiritual without any sentimentality, rocking and folking with Texas twang, cowboy lyrics and gospel rhythms. 

I see the vigilante watching in the deep of the night.
I always find him where his heart is, he's fighting the good fight
He smells a scent of trouble and prepares to leave,
He's got his eyes on the horizon reaching higher,
He's got his eyes on the horizon and his boots on his feet.

When I was stranded at the crossroads it was dismal and gray.
When I asked him for directions, he showed me the good way.
And if the sky is swirly still his face never swerves
Because his heart is always faithful reaching higher
You know his heart is always faithful to the captain he serves.
- The Vigilante,

I thought she must be a mystic, living a solitary life of the spirit and putting all of her faith into her songs.

Ten years ago I started looking for her work again. I could only find a few mentions of her on the Internet. I did discover, sadly, that she had died of an overdose of drugs many years before, and that her life had been troubled in very many ways, not the least of which was her refusal to rush her music into production for the sake of capitalizing on what modest fame she had acquired. 

A lot can happen in ten years. Judee Sill's music has attracted a new generation of fans, and her albums have been re-issued.  Last week I bought Judee Sill, Abracadabra: The Asylum Years which includes all of Heart Food as well as her first album Judee Sill, and a bunch of bonus tracks, mostly acoustic versions of songs from the albums. 

The tears I cried just now were tears for the lost boys and girls of my generation. We baby boomers, widely despised of late, came of age just as the Catholic Church -- giddy with the early, wild implementation of Vatican II -- failed to keep its head while all about it were losing theirs and blaming it on them. 
Chase him to the bottom, 'til I finally caught him,
Dreams fall deep.
Where voices come a-chiming, singing and a-rhyming,
Ringing and a-whining,
Hear them weep.
Still the echoes aching, leave us not forsaken
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Now eveming shadows come and hum the requiem,
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison,
Kyrie eleison.
- The Donor

Not everyone lost their way. But many of my generation put flowers in their hair and wandered out into the night looking for the Holy Spirit in all the wrong places.  
Beautiful Pearl, when will You reappear?
Mysteries unfurl and become so clear
When I feel You near.
- The Pearl

Read Will Yaryan's appreciation, Judee Sill: Out of the Mud a Lotus Grew in his Religion, Sex and Politics blog. It includes a link to Judee performing "The Kiss" in 1973. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Serbian abortionist, a dream of St. Thomas Aquinas, a realization

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve, a Daughter of St. Paul with a special love for St. Thomas Aquinas, reports the story of a doctor in communist Yugoslavia who went from performing 35,000 abortions over decades of practice to being an outspoken opponent of abortion in his country. 

His realization of the humanity of the unborn began with a recurring dream:
In describing his conversion, Adasevic “dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. ‘My name is Thomas Aquinas,’ the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn’t recognize the name”

“Why don’t you ask me who these children are?” St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

“They are the ones you killed with your abortions,’ St. Thomas told him.

“Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions,” the article stated.
Read the whole thing here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Orissa, India -- a plea for help

Seems like every time you turn around
There's another hard-luck story that you're gonna hear
And there's really nothing anyone can say
And I never did plan to go anyway
To Black Diamond Bay. -
Bob Dylan, "Black Diamond Bay"

Today's Black Diamond Bay is Orissa, India. Our Pauline sisters in Charleston, South Carolina got a call from Orissa asking, "Why does nobody talk about the persecution of Christians in Orissa?"

Sr. Jane prayed about it, and came up with this video as a response. She made it in one day.

Blessed Alberione, pray for us, pray for the people in Orissa, pray for the Apostolate of the media!

Pauline Charism Live!

In this year of St. Paul, I'm all about digging deeper into the Pauline charism. Becoming a Pauline Cooperator was a turning point in my spiritual life. Which is to say, in my life, why be coy? In the way of the world, confessing that one's life is a love relationship with God is tantamount to confessing oneself to be nutsy cuckoo or at least not tethered to the real world, but out there floating on some cloud like my mother said about me when I was much younger. 

But what else is there? I mean, really? I want to spend eternity in love like a schoolgirl telling my Maker all sorts of excessive murmurings about how wonderful it was when He came into my life -- duh, at the very beginning! -- and how great He is, how much joy life has given me -- and sorrow too, yes, plenty of it, but the sharpness and power of the joy is greater than the darkest depths, into which I have been plunged time and again by the tragedies of life and my own skittish psyche. 

I dreamed about Garrett Morris just now. In the dream, I asked him pointedly if he felt like a fish out of water on Saturday Night Live, surrounded by all those dope-smoking white hippie comics. "Not that you didn't smoke dope yourself," I said, and he smiled.

"Race is everything," he said.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Best. John Williams. Tribute. EVER! A capella rocks!

Thanks to Cat Clark for the pointer!

Mother Cabrini: another modern saint in the mode of St. Paul

Frances Xavier Cabrini lived from 1850-1917 and was the first citizen of the US to be canonized a saint in the Catholic Church. She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Italy, then came to this country with a bunch of sisters and founded schools and orphanages in New York, New Orleans, Denver and Los Angeles which especially aimed at helping immigrants to the US. She also founded hospitals in New York, Seattle and Chicago.

She had the Pauline spirit. Here is what she wrote from on board a ship caught in a storm between Panama and Chile. It might be St. Paul writing from the sea just before one of his shipwrecks. I love its dependence on God. Mother Cabrini, like all the saints, knew that what she affirmed was REALITY -- not pious blathering, but the way the world really works when you entrust yourself to God alone.

The winds roar, heavens darken, the waves arise and threaten to turn the steamer topsy-turvy. All this matters nothing. I have given my trust, I must keep my word of honor, and with faith and confidence.

Difficulties! What are they, Daughters? They are the mere playthings of children enlarged by our imagination, not yet accustomed to focus itself on the Omnipotent.

Dangers, dangers! And what are dangers? The specters that surprise the soul, which having given itself to God, or thinking it has done so, still retains the spirit of the world, or at least many sparks of it, which fly up from the ashes and flare at every gust of contrary wind.

‘But I am weak!’ Who is not weak? But with God’s help you can do everything. He never fails the humble and faithful.

‘Yes, but I am so fragile!’ We are all fragile, yet, when Christ is our strength, what shall we fear?

‘I have failed in generosity, I have fallen at the first temptation, now I shall not be able to do anything well.  Who has not been tempted? Who has not somewhere fallen?

Have you fallen? Then, humble yourself, and, with a lively act of contrition from the depths of your heart, ask pardon, renew your promises to God, then get on your feet and be doing with more courage than ever to repair your defects!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's over at last!

Whether your guy won or lost, you'll enjoy this message from a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The News Journal on Owen Danyo and Blessed James Alberione

Blessed Giacomo Alberione, my spiritual mentor, put his whole life in the service of what he called "the good press" -- using all the modern forms of media, from newspapers to radio to tv to movies -- to tell the Good News (the gospel) instead of the bad. Read Owen's story as reported by Gary Soulsman in the News Journal. And read what Gary wrote about the process of canonization in the Catholic Church.

Now read what one of the folks at the St. Catherine of Siena Institute said about the story:

There may be two miracles here: Owen's, and that of a well-done, thoughtful
news story about him.

And thank God for the gift of good journalists like Gary Soulsman and good photographers like Fred Comegys. It's a whole lot easier to write a good story of a tragedy, one with blood and guts and the dark side of human nature, than to write a good story about good news. Cool!