Sunday, April 12, 2009
Christ has Risen! He has Risen indeed! View the loveliest poem I have read this century, by Gerard Van Der Luen.
Christ has Risen! He has Risen indeed!
For awhile I have been contemplating the difficulties of producing beautiful poetry in the 21st century, when our daily existence is so full of man-made things which are ugly compared to the natural beauty that surrounded earlier generations of poets. My typical day sees cell phones, televisions and computer screens -- hears digital beeps and blips and tones -- far more often than it sees the beauty of creation and the natural world. And yet poetry must be reflective of the world in which it is created, if it is to be more than a trip down memory lane into an imagined past (a past which had its own share of ugliness and poverty of wonder).
On this beautiful day of Our Lord's Resurrection, I invite you to view this stunning work of language and image:
Climbout on an Easter Sunday
The author is apparently a pilot. Thanks to The Anchoress for linking to this lovely Easter poem.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
At Mass With the Blessed Virgin Mary
A cloud of witnesses assembles near
The altar, yet not seeking Aaron's rod
In blossom; theirs to behold in mystic rite
The immolation of the Lamb of God.
Around the Virgin Mother of the Lamb
(The snow recedes before her purity)
They gather unafraid, her motherhood
Their welling peace, their sweet security.
No sound is heard, but soon anointed hands
Will hold the Anointed One he bids come forth
Into this world, as once at Bethlehem
When countless angels hailed the sacred birth.
Now Mary leads the choirs of th' assembled throng,
One hundred thousand thousand voices cry,
"Lord God of hosts, accept our sacrifice;
Send blessings on Thy people, Adonai."
- Louise Manning, r.c.
I selected it as appropriate for this Feast, even though the reference to Bethlehem in stanza three is unexpected and theologically counter-intuitive.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
I find the coolest stuff by chance - serendipity is a very close friend of mine, or possibly Serendipity is the name of my guardian angel dear, to whom God's love commits me here.
I was looking for reviews of Tanith Lee's book Red Unicorn to see if it would be appropriate for my 11 year old granddaughter Ruth Danyo. Tanith Lee can be a terrific writer but some of her stuff is not for kids, even precocious ones (natch!) like Ruth.
In my search, I stumbled across a blogger who calls herself Recovering Sociopath. She wrote
What comforts me about this is not that abortion and infanticide has been around almost as long as there have been babies-- if I think too long on the millions of children thus murdered throughout history, I start to lose it a little bit-- but that it has always been part of our identity as the body of Christ that we do not kill our children. And as long as we have been the church, it has been part of our job to resist this monstrous evil, this spirit of Moloch, wherever it is found.
But abortion is not going to go away. Even if it were illegal everywhere, people would find a way. I think this is the main reason I am fairly listless about the idea of changing laws. Changed laws are not changed hearts, and our hearts are desperately wicked.
We can and should fight it, of course, and do what we can to save what children we can, but ultimately this battle belongs to the God who has conquered death-- and that is another comfort. N.T. Wright uses a phrase I love: "putting the world to rights." This is what we are called to participate in here and now, however we can, and it is what we hope for when Christ returns, fully and finally to establish His perfect rule.
This is why Advent throbs not only with joyous expectation but also with a terrible yearning. Advent echoes not only with praises but also with desperate cries for deliverance.
He is coming, and He is going to put the world to rights.
He is coming, and He is going to fix all the broken shit.
Read it again: it has always been part of our identity as the body of Christ that we do not kill our children.
From our beginnings in pagan Rome, to our current state in pagan America: it has always been part of our identity as the body of Christ that we do not kill our children.
Thank you, Recovering Sociopath!
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
I just found out that actor Andy Hallett died on March 29 of heart failure, at the age of 33. His character, the karaoke-singing demon Lorne, was one of my favorites on the tv series Angel.
A fellow fan posted this video slide show on YouTube. It features Hallett singing "It's Not Easy Being Green", which is included on the Angel soundtrack album that I acquired just three weeks ago. It's a fitting tribute to his passing.
May flights of angels sing him to his rest. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, by the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Thursday, April 02, 2009
I'm culling my Pious Ladies Bookmobile stock so that I retain only books that a) I like and/or b) they will sell for more than $8.00. I do this periodically and it allows me to make discoveries all over again.
For example: TRUSTING SOUL: Collected Stories & Drawings by Brian Andreas. This is a beautifully crafted book, goofy drawings & text printed in two separate fonts so that it seems like two separate voices, the whole of it printed on high quality paper. My copy is black on gray. I see that he now has a color cover version, but I think I prefer the black and gray.
Visit his web site to get a flavor for this artist, writer, husband and father. His stuff makes me smile:
Don't you dare be
rational at a time
like this, she told
me, or I'll be forced
to admit I wasted
all these years on
I asked her what she planned
to do with her life & she said
she was way beyond that
point already. I'm just happy
I remember to be there when
it happens, she said.
There has never been
a day when I have not
been proud of you,
I said to my son,though some days
I'm louder about
other stuff so it's
easy to miss that.
I'm very broad minded
usually, she said, but it
gets very narrow & fast
I try & walk a line between terror & ecstasy, she said & then she shook her head. You'd be amazed at the people who avoid me for no good reason, other than that.
RULES FOR A SUCCESSFUL HOLIDAY
1. Get together with the family
2. Relive old times
3. Get out before it blows.
Lent is a strange time of year. Not only is winter holding on as best it can with its dying gasps, but Lent always encompasses the month of March, when more people die than at any other time of the year.
When I was growing up in the Church of the 1950's, Lent was presented in its traditional clothing as a time of penance, penitence, and mortification of the flesh. In sixth, seventh and eighth grades, after my dad had retired from the Air Force and we were back in Delaware, I used to love Lenten practices in my new-found permanent parish & school of Our Lady of Fatima, so different from the Catholic chaplaincy in the service. I would visit church in the middle of the school day and make Stations of the Cross by myself or just pray in the dark in the cool, purple-shrouded church interior.
Immediately after Vatican II, Lent was thrown open to all sorts of new interpretations. Mortification of the flesh was considered embarrassingly old-fashioned if not downright reactionary. The Church lightened the required disciplines of fast and abstinence in order that people might freely choose to craft their Lenten observances according to their own consciences and spiritual discernment. Some priests took this as a cue for denigrating the older practices altogether. At a time in which the Resurrection itself was viewed as symbolic rather than real in many teaching circles, what use did anybody have for a time of prayer, almsgiving and fasting?
My Lents in later life are a jumble of the old and new. I am glad to have lived long enough to see the pendulum swing back towards the center in all things liturgical. I am glad that once again our homilists speak of Lent as a three-pronged period of preparation for Easter, with prayer, fasting and the giving of alms once more assuming their traditional places. But I am still a little embarrassed about mortification and penance, and that embarrassment is a fine accompaniment to my habitual laziness and refusal to give myself over completely to the Blessed Trinity in Whom I purport to believe to the point of death. It's like I have a balance in my head to make sure that I obtain X amount of self-imposed gratification every day, regardless of my supposed desire to throw caution to the winds and go wildly Christ-hunting like the bride in the Song of Songs.
I picked up Mary in Our Life by William G. Most and opened randomly to a page, hoping my library angel would guide me to something to still the jumble of Lenten voices in my head. I opened to this:
The right attitude to mortification requires a delicate balance. Various fanatical groups within the Church, both in the past and present, have distorted the balance. In general, they tend to make mortification an end in itself, to be pursued blindly, out of pride in their ability to "take it" and without obedience to proper authority. They forget that mortification is a means to love. They forget that great penances with little love do not have great value (lack of obedience points to pride, not love, as a motive. They forget the law of gradual progress, imposing on everyone without discretion the heroic penances of the saints.
But it is possible to learn something even from those who are in error. For very often such persons err precisely because they have realized some part of the truth so forcefully that they are blinded to all the other elements that should be included. The truth the fanatical groups have seen is that most of us are far from being generous with God. We rightly condemn the errors of fanatics, but we could profitably learn from them the lesson of generosity.
It is well to say that we must take prudent precautions, must follow a good director, must advance gradually, must make all subserve the end of love - these things are all true and must be kept constantly in mind. But we must also remember that although great love can make small penances worth much, we must ask ourselves: Are we sure we have the great love?
If we had as much love as we are apt to imagine, we would probably find some middle position between our tiny, rare mortifications and the excesses we rightly condemn. And we would tend to grow in generosity. How can we hope to attain with only slight effort the high degree of detachment which we ought to have in order to make room in our hearts for great love?
We tend to bargain with God, to ask, "How much do I have to give? I will give this and that, and then I can be free from paying attention to You for the rest of the time." We are like the child who prayed: "O Lord, I give you all that I am and all that I have." He read this out of his prayer book. But then, with the simple perception of a child, he realized what this meant, and he hurriedly added, "-- that is, all except my little white rabbit."