Saturday, April 12, 2003

nihil obstat

is doing wonders for ecumenism !!
Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos

Via Doxos.
Action and contemplation
and cordless phones

This somewhat half-baked simile just struck me ... but it is amazing how much the human person is, in the theistic world-view, something akin to a cordless telephone.

Think of the cordless phone. It sometimes sits in the cradle, or whatever it's called, to be recharged. But it sits getting recharged with the expectation that it will be used, and perhaps used quite often!

Work and prayer. Will our work succeed if we don't get recharged -- sitting, receptive to the grace from above? Or will our connections be hampered by static? Similarly, can a cordless phone expect to sit idle day after day, week after week, without occasionally being used for the purposes of the caller?

Never quite thought of it this way before. And I don't quite know what made me think of it now! But we are all the cordless phones of the Lord; may our connections be free of static!
Added to Places Oft
under "The Bloglings"

A Saintly Salmagundi.
fifteen syllables : seven, five, three

Ice, thin as tracing-paper,
covers the puddles
this morning.

10. IV. 2003
Rules for Good Living
a collaborative poem written in 1990 or 1991 by dylan and Deborah

dylan's lines in purple
Deborah's lines in the redder shade

Although, at six o'clock, I am not a
miracle of a thousand leaves,
nonetheless, my bridesmaids
coddle me, their plaything for a day.
"Apples!" exclaimed the holy voyeur
as he opened the fidgie-fater.
"Alas, my hamster Woozy bought no beer!
And the turpentine is full of turpitude."
April, that crummy ditz, skidded
on her skateboard into my sandbox. Then we
rolled onto my castle (O messy ecstasy!)
killing hundreds of tiny devil's chesspieces.
After the ceremony, bellies were glue
and the peaches hid behind the door.


+ + + + + + + + + +

Interstitial matter

Am just going to type a short paragraph (or two) here, as I think there should be some kind of buffer zone between the extreme frivolity of the anthem above, and the solemn meditation by the martyred monk below. Perhaps I may even remove the poem at a later date, but it does give some idea of where I was at, circa age 21.

I'm tempted, also, to discuss this morning's weather, but the weather remains, for the moment, undiscussable. There is a rumor that sun will emerge by early this afternoon.
Venerable Charles de Foucauld
allows our Blessed Lord to speak in this excerpt from today's Magnificat reflection

Like all poor people, I was exposed to scorn, and it was because in the eyes of the world I was a poor "Nazarene" that I was so persecuted and ill-treated during my public ministry -- that the first time I spoke in the synagogue at Nazareth they wanted to throw me down a cliff, while in Galilee they called me Beelzebub and in Judea devil and possessed. It was why they treated me as an imposter and traitor and killed me on gallows between two thieves. They took me for an ambitious nobody.

Be taken as what I was taken for, my child, unlearned, poor, of lowly birth, also for what you really are : unintelligent, untalented, and ungifted. Always look for the meanest tasks, but cultivate your mind. But do it secretly. Do not let the world know. I was infinitely wise, but no one knew it. [...] Be very unlearned in the eyes of men, and very learned in the knowledge of God at the foot of my tabernacle. [...]
Excerpts from The Roman Triptych

a recent sequence of poems by His Holiness John Paul II. Via Catholic Bookshelf.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Revised & added
to Places Oft

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, kids of all shapes and sizes ...

are you basically like me?

Are you just loving this rain we've been having?

I don't know about you, folks; but me, I just can't seem to get enough of it ...
Friday five
via Fructus Ventris

1. What was the first band you saw in concert?

Simple Minds at the Wang Center, 1985.

2. Who is your favorite artist/band now?

To narrow it to just one? Tracy Chapman.

3. What's your favorite song?

Most Christmas carols are up there in the top 10. I like the way the Miserable Offenders sang "There's a wideness in God's mercy." I like No Doubt's "Hey, Baby."

4. If you could play any instrument, what would it be?

Guitar, piano.

5. If you could meet any musical icon (past or present), who would it be and why?

Maybe Sir Paul McCartney. Just to say hello.

I've removed the St Patrick icon that was here, because the text of the blog would always "break up" after that point, and if it continues to act weird after changing it in this wise I'll remove the post altogether.

Also, via this Orthodox website in England ... an excuse for an article on priestly celibacy in Roman Catholicism, in which the nameless (and somethingelseless) author attempts to connect celibacy to the scandal of actual and alleged sexual abuse of minors. We don't blame alcohol-related car crashes on laws that prohibit drunk driving.

Odd rhetoric in this article about the scandals being the fruit of 900 years of Roman error.
Five years ago

when he walked and prayed the Via Crucis, the Holy Father employed meditations written by the Orthodox theologian Olivier Clément. I have often wondered whether these meditations were ever published in book form.

No matter. Here they are in French. And here, in Italian.

Should I work on an English translation?
two tanka
of uncounted syllables

Honking geese --
are they saying they're cold?
but this chill warms!

Sparrows and starlings, too,
gab about the weather.


Large-bellied, slow,
these ponderous pigeons --
just like me!

although, truth be told,
I have a thin, thin voice.
Louis Lavelle
from today's Magnificat reflection

No one realizes his life alone, but only through the mediation of others. I need the reassurance and the help of friends, but I need men's hatred, too. It tests me, forces me to become aware of my limitations, to grow, to perform a work of ceaseless self-purification; it makes me more faithful to myself, protects me from all temptations to take the easy way to "success"; it compels me to fall back on what is deepest, most secret, and most spiritual in me, where those who hate me are powerless to hurt, where they meet no object into which to fix their claws, and nothing they can destroy. [...]
A prayer to the Most Holy Mother of God

O my most holy Lady, the Mother of God, by thy holy and all-powerful prayers remove from me, thy humble and burdened servant, despair, forgetfulness, lack of understanding, and negligence, and take away all unclean, crafty, and blameworthy thoughts from my smitten heart, and from my darkened mind; quench the flame of my passions, for I am poor and lost; deliver me from many cruel recollections and undertakings, and set me free from all evil actions; for thou art blessed of all generations, and thy most honourable name is glorified unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Via A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers (SVS Press, 1983, 1999), p. 8.
Congratulations !!

This blogger is engaged to this blogger !!

Huw Raphael, the blogger at Doxos, examines a truly wrong-headed view of the Incarnation.
Memorandum to self

Don't read everything in the Herald.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

There's Greek Orthodoxy, and Russian Orthodoxy

and Serbian Orthodoxy, and the OCA, and Antioch, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

There is also Celtic Orthodoxy.

Found while looking for the Lorica, which is on their site.
the poetry of edward estlin cummings

inspires the title for yet another blog !!
St Patrick
and yes, I know it's April 10, and not March 17 !!

Breastplate : The Lorica, or Deer's Cry

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.
have changed the title

of my poem "untitled 25 XI 2000" to "bridgewater canticle" as many of the phrases came to me during a post-thanksgiving rail commute from bridgewater to boston -- some relatives live near there --
Saint Faustina Kowalska

I began reading her Divine Mercy diary on page 77 because I was arrested and implicated by the following sentence :

Suffering seemed to spring out of the ground.

The contrast, unintended, between "suffering" and the seasonal resonance of "spring" ... as if suffering were in bloom, like a flower! This kind of language has always scared me, but for some reason, that sentence seemed the most fitting place to begin the diary.
Concluding prayers for the Mysteries of Light
via the May 2003 Magnificat, pp. 17-18.

Baptism in the Jordan
Jesus taking leave of Mary, you accepted John's baptism so that the waters of this world might be made holy for the sacrament of our rebirth. Teach us to recognize the full and complete dignity of the new natures that we receive in baptism, and to live as obedient children of your heavenly Father.

Wedding at Cana
Jesus listening to Mary, you fulfilled the wish of your Mother at a wedding feast and transformed marriage into a covenant of divine love, making families living images of the love that you as God share with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Teach us to live the mystery of our transformation and make us obedient sons and daughters of the Lord who created heaven and earth.

Preaching of the Kingdom
Jesus united with Mary, you revealed to your disciples the mystery of the Godhead and promised the grace of conversion to all who hear and keep the Word of God. Teach us to recognize the Pope, bishops, and our pastors as the legitimate bearers of the authority by which you call every human being to dwell in the one communion of divine friendship.

Jesus apart from Mary, you, with a blinding light, manifested in your perfect humanity the power of divine grace that transforms every part of our frail human natures. Teach us to embrace the mystery of your luminous presence, so that we who dwell in your brightness may never succumb to the darkness of mortal sin.

Institution of the Eucharist
Jesus, Son of Mary, you handed over to your disciples, in an action that surpasses human understanding, the gift of yourself under the appearances of bread and wine, and you have established an order of priests to ensure that this mystery remain until you come again in glory. Teach us to love the gift and mystery of the priesthood and to encourage young men to answer the vocation that you yourself implant in their hearts.

Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman
from today's Magnificat reflection

Our duty lies in risking upon Christ's word what we have, for what we have not; and doing so in a noble, generous way, not indeed rashly or lightly, still without knowing accuraely what we are doing, not knowing either what we give up, nor again what we shall gain; uncertain about our reward, uncertain about our extent of sacrifice, in all respects leaning, waiting upon him, trustin gin him to fulfill his promise, trusting in him to enable us to fulfill our own vows, and so in all respects proceeding without carefulness or anxiety about the future.

[...] there are those who in their secret hearts, if not in open avowal, will draw back. Men allow us ministers of Christ to proceed in our preaching, while we confine ourselves to general truths, until they see that they themselves are implicated in them, and have to act upon them; and then they suddenly come to a stand; they collect themselves and draw back, and say, "They do not see this -- or do not admit that" -- and though they are quite unable to say why that should not follow from what they already allow, which we show must follow, still they persist in saying that they do not see that it does follow; and they look about for excuses, and they [...] are sure to say we carry things too far, when we carry them home to themselves.

This sad infirmity of men, called Christians, is exemplified in the subject immediately before us. Who does not at once admit that faith consists in venturing upon Christ's word without seeing? Yet in spite of this, may it not be seriously questioned, whether men in general, even those of the better sort, venture anything upon his truth at all?

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

When being tired is the only prayer

My eyes are open and want to be closed. My brain is tired. It's raining outside. My lower back is snoring. I lie down and begin to snore, and wake myself up thereby. Too tired to read, I pray for friends both far and near. It is dry inside. I pray for those outside. God is above, beside, within. He is the preserver of our words and the refiner of our silences. I do not speak to him, but wordlessly let him take this day -- thus far -- and this exact point in time, of damp that wishes to be dry, of cold that wishes to be warm. Do I wish myself more awake, or less spent? It is good to be tired, even exhausted. It is good to have survived the day's minor pains, to have been cheerful (or was I?) in vexation. And now a space of time to rest. It is fitting, meet and just.

a human being who fulfills his true capacity, his by nature -- with all of his will for life, his affection for the real -- ought to be at the mercy of, hanging on moment by moment to, this unreachable, indecipherable, ineffable, absolute Unknown. How does this unknown reveal its will to the human being? How does it communicate its intelligent plan that guarantees the meaning of everything? It speaks through apparently fortuitous circumstances, the banal conditions that determine the human being's every instant.

What a paradox! In order to follow the absolute light of meaning, one would have to be obedient, like one navigating in dense fog, moment by moment, obeying the very thing that is most apparently irrational, that is to say, absurdly shifting circumstances, subject to the wind of time.

One needs great courage ... The human being cannot live five minutes without affirming in some way some ultimate "something" that makes those five minutes worth living.

Msgr Luigi Giussani, from today's Magnificat reflection
Dorothy (Walker ((Thomas (((Flannery O'Connor))) Merton)) Percy) Day

Book about the four is out. Briefish article in Time about the book. Via the blog of Gerard Serafin.
Andrew Sullivan
rather recently

has dissed someone in thus wise :

Only in the cocoon of 43rd Street could such a writer, who gets everything wrong, contradicts himself from day to day, and writes in prose worthy of Anne Lamott could still get front-page play day after day.

"In prose worthy of Anne Lamott." Bravo !!
Another "ache" pair. Or a pair of pairs?
see three posts below

Leak, leach; and break, breach.
Sign seen on a Red Line train
the Red Line is a branch of Boston's subway

"DISSECTION -- a student's right to choose? The Massachusetts Teacher's Association doesn't think so."
From the Oremus Hymnal
Online version of the Episcopal 1982 Hymnal

There's a wideness in God's mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in his justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good;
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in his blood.

There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than up in heaven;
there is no place where earth's failings
have such kindly judgment given.
There is plentiful redemption
in the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the Head.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of the mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we should take him at his word;
and our life would be thanks-giving
for the goodness of the Lord.

-- Fr Frederick W. Faber, alt.
Pepys's headache
with reference to amateur philology

Very calm again, and I pretty well, but my head aked all day.

That, from the recentest entry of Pepys's diary for 1660. We are concerned here with the spelling of "ake." Not merely a matter of the labile orthography one finds in an epoch prior to standardized spelling.

I remember reading excerpts of Passages, the long Cantos-like poem by the late Robert Duncan (1919-1988) in which the poet informed his readers that "ake" was the verb and "ache" was the noun. Originally. And he proffered the following pairs as parallels : wake, watch; bake, batch; make, match. Perhaps "ache" as a noun was pronounced or even spelled "atch"?

Not tonight, dear : I have a head-atch?

Or is there a verb "skrake" to go with "scratch"? Are "lock" and "latch" relatives? What of "take" and "touch"? Did "smoke" become "smotch" become "smutch" become "smudge"?

Just wondering -- or, to tell more truly, just wandering.

Drink, drench !! Or, for flagrant fragrances : stink, stench.
from vol. 6 of the journals

from December 14, 1966

A man wrote an article in America on the vernacular liturgy. "If the Church wants to sweep the world like the Beatles ..." with this mentality, what can you expect? But I am afraid that is the trouble. The Church is conscious of being inferior now not only to the Communists but to four English kids with mops of hair (and I like them OK). More and more I see the importance of not mopping the world with the mops, Beatle or liturgical. I am glad to be marginal. The best thing I can do for the "world" is stay out of it -- in as far as one can.


from December 16, 1966

A grand dawn -- pre-dawn still -- the long dark line of hills, the varieties of red and dark and purple in the sky, the chalk streak of a gone jet about the black trees, the lights, there in the farm building through the screen of bare oaks ... grass underfoot slipping with unseen frost. I have become so used to the splendor of morning that I remain with my nose in books and don't go to look at it. Same with stars. Yet last night the Swan was plunging down into the west through my high pines and when I got up Cassiopeia was swinging down into the north, the Great Bear over against her in the north east. The Lion sweeping up overhead out of the Southeast, and Arcturus out there over the dark oak wood at the top of the long field.

Made more coffee.


from December 28, 1966

Flavian's hermitage doesn't look as if it were lived in. Seems empty, uninhabited -- one hardly knows if he has not yet moved in or if he is moving out. Yet he has been there since August. Two outsize ugly crucifixes -- both slightly hideous in fact. A shower without water in which he stores things. Practically no furniture. No visible book. He was talking of a kind of prayer life in which there was practically no reading, only rosary and psalms.

T. Merton, Learning to Love (HarperSanFrancisco, 1997), pp. 169, 171, 174.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Saint Faustina Kowalska

Prayer. -- A soul arms itself by prayer for all kinds of combat. In whatever state the soul may be, it ought to pray. A soul which is pure and beautiful must pray, or else it will lose its beauty; a soul which is striving after this purity must pray, or else it will never attain it; a soul which is newly converted must pray, or else it will fall again; a sinful soul, plunged in sins, must pray so that it might rise again. There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer.

From Divine Mercy in My Soul : Diary of [Saint] Faustina Kowalska (Marian Press, 1987), pp. 81-2.
From today's Magnificat reflection

We are the people of God who should bring the joy of salvation to everyone. With Baptism and the other sacraments, the world of our heart, our feelings, and our human story becomes cleansed and renewed. We are transformed from simple creatures to children of God!

It is an exceptional event : heaven comes down to earth to work the extraordinary in our hearts. This gift is so unique that we can't keep it to ourselves. We have to announce it!

Too many people still do not know that there is a Savior, who came in our midst to bring us the Mercy and the Love of God. The world remains in darkness, troubled and enslaved by fear, because we Christians are living for empty idols. [...] We who have a vocation, in which there is a close rapport with God, get stuck in the mud of the world's selfishness. Called to the high peaks of a proclamation that liberates, we let ourselves be chained by the superficialities of life.

This is the daily experience that my eyes are contemplating, my hands are touching, and my ears are hearing : the dead are raised, prisoners are freed, and the blind see.

Sister Elvira Petrozzi
"In the marvelous phrase of Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee, young people will give their lives for a mystery but not for a question mark."

Read "The Catholic Center" by Fr Neuhaus in the April First Things. In it, we are reminded that there is Catholic continuity (JP2, the Magisterium, Scripture & Tradition, two millennia of apostolic succession, etc.) and a bifurcate party of discontinuity (Lefebvre on the right, Garry Wills on the left). Long read, but it's Fr Neuhaus, and therefore a good read.

Via Gerard Serafin.
This or that
via Oblique

1. Sexier (female) ... Pamela Anderson or Jennifer Garner? I confuse Jennifer G. with Jessica Alba, so the J-gals beat Pam, by several zillion millimeters or miles.

2. Sexier (male) ... Ben Affleck or Matt Damon? Ben looks like the oddest cross between Springsteen and Adam Sandler, so I'll go with Matt.

3. The better piano player ... Billy Joel or Elton John? We need both in our world.

4. Funnier ... David Letterman or Craig Kilborn? Pas de bloody contest : Dave. (Are you like me, kids? Do you fall asleep early? Still, at last glance ... DL.)

5. The dumber cartoon cat ... Stimpy (of Ren & Stimpy) or Tom (of Tom & Jerry)? Stimpy.

6. A better news anchor ... Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather? More of a mensch -- Bob Dole or Fidel Castro? Brokaw. And it ain't close.

7. A better TV chef ... Emeril Lagasse or Jacques Pepin? Emeril, for the exuberance, and for making "careful" rhyme with "raffle." But the Two Fat Ladies ruled. I miss Jennifer.

8. The trashier talk show host ... Maury Povich or Jerry Springer? Maury bores me stiff, and if you're boring, can you be all that trashy? So : Jerry.

9. The worse fast food burger joint ... McDonald's or Burger King? Dunno. Should I say, "We need both in our world"?

10. Of the following two, which one do you consider to be greater ... Franklin D. Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln? Why? Lincoln wasn't no commie, and he freed the slaves. FDR tried expanding the Supremes to 15 to pack the high court with socialist clones of himself. Abe, to speak honestly, is greater. [Typed spoeak at a first go ... thought of leaving it that way to get a plug from nihil !!]
from vol. 6 of the journals

from November 11, 1966. St Martin

Yesterday -- a very good letter from a young married woman in Cincinnati about my "Apology to an Unbeliever," which is in this month's Harper's. She appreciated it -- and says but she never "hears God." And what about it? I tried to answer her honestly without falling into seven deadly heresies -- and realized the complexity of the problem as I never have before. [...]

[...] So trusting in the Spirit whom I don't know and using words to say only as much as we are capable of seeing together at the moment, I try to speak to her as a Brother.

[...] If I do this, then in our honest rapport God himself speaks without anyone being aware (necessarily) of the fact. And I leave the rest to her.


from November 12, 1966

Eliot's essay "What Is a Classic?" is short, brilliant, and absurd. His definition of a Classic is solidly useful, and then he proceeds to make its use impossible except for a few choice spirits -- Virgil, Dante, Racine and for no one in English. Perpetual somersaults of logic in order to make sure that this title must be denied Milton precisely because he is such a genius, but also because he does not completely exhaust the possibilities of language -- etc.


from November 13, 1966

Today, for a certain type of person, to "listen" is to be in a position where hearing is impossible -- or deceptive. It is the wrong kind of listening : listening for a limited message, an objective sound, a sensible meaning. Actually, one decides one's life by responding to a word that is not well defined, easily explicable, safely accounted for. One decides to love in the face of an unaccountable void, and from the void comes an unaccountable truth. By this truth, one's existence is sustained in peace -- until the truth is too firmly grasped and too clearly accounted for. Then one is relying on words -- i.e., on his own understanding and his own ingenuity in interpreting existence and its "signs." Then one is lost -- has to be found again in the patient Void.


from November 16, 1966

Yesterday once again I was going over the whole situation. Should we remain apart? etc. There are moments when it seems utterly wrong to be without her. Yet I know too that, whatever reasonable arguments one might dream up for it, it would be utterly wrong to leave here and drop everything in order to marry her. Neither of us has the strength to stand the pressure this would involve. And we both know it. Yet we love and can't help loving in our own poor way.

Renewed purpose on my part. [...] In any case I know in my heart that my true call is to solitude with God, however much I may love her. She knows this too.

The objective fact of my vows, more than a juridical obligation. It has deep personal and spiritual roots. I cannot be true to myself if I am not true to so deep a commitment.

And yet I love her.

T. Merton, Learning to Love : Exploring Solitude and Freedom, ed. C. Bochen (HarperSanFrancisco, 1997), pp. 158-62, passim.
The 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

goes to Paul Muldoon, born in Co. Armagh, resident in the USA since 1987.

I am, alas, unacquainted with his work. Will raid the library anon!
Catherine Doherty writes : My thoughts today

go back 10 years -- to a trip to Montréal. I had the privilege of lecturing to our French Canadian brothers and sisters. Shortly before that, I had spent some time in Chicago, that sprawling city of the Midwest that is pulsating with life. I met a variety of people, talked to various groups, immersed myself ever deeper into the problems of humanity. When I returned to my little Canadian island I tried to sort out the ideas, the feelings, the impressions that I had accumulated during my travels.

Why did I find this sorting so painful? On the one hand, it lifted me up to great heights from which, a heart filled with gratitude, I thanked God. For I witnessed in those cities a new Pentecost. The Holy Spirit, the Wind that blows so freshly across our earth, was spreading his fire everywhere in the hearts of men, bidding them to renew this earth and restore it to God.

On the other hand, while sorting out my impressions, I plummeted into intolerable dark depths of pain, an excruciating pain of the spirit that left me bereft of any words with which to express it. Why did joy, pain, fear, gladness and sorrow weave this strange tapestry in my heart?

As I tried to think this out, an answer came : that I had been living, not in the eye of the hurricane, but in some strange "center" between the mystery of Iniquity and the mystery of Light and Love. It had been given to me, by the grace of God, to realize dimly -- but vividly and painfully -- that the battle between the mystery of Light and the mystery of Darkness was going on in the hearts of all men today in an explosive, intense form, perhaps in a form that has never, or seldom, been experienced by those who call themselves followers of Christ.

This battle is so intense in the hearts of Christians that it spills over, as it were, into the hearts of non-Christians. As a result of this inner battle between these two mysteries, the very existence of the world hangs in the balance.

It came to me also that this is the time when Christians must pray for one another and for the whole world as they have never prayed before. At times like this the fine line of the battle is indeed thin, and souls can tumble onto the wrong side of this battle line. Yes, it came to me that this is the time of fasting, prayer and the mortification of all for all.

On the priesthood

A priest to me is Christ wishing to be present in our midst in and through this man he has called to be his priest. It doesn't seem to affect me at all if priests are sinful or holy, or anything in between. I understand that they are men. But frankly, if I am in need of one of them and know that he is living a sinful life, I would still crawl to him to get absolution for my sins, or to receive Viaticum if I were in danger of death.

There came a day during the Russian revolution when there were no priests -- either Roman or Orthodox -- left in Petrograd. They had all been killed or were in prison. When there are no priests one realizes their value -- and it doesn't matter if they are in sin or not. I think it was then that I realized what a priest meant to me.

Catherine de Hueck Doherty, from the "Spring" section of I Live On an Island (Ave Maria Press, 1979), pp. 15-16, 18.
Six months today
of blogging at this URL : a half-year of morelast

Offered in gratitude to the loyal readers, the occasional visitors, and those just dropping in :


In Evening Air
by Theodore Roethke (1908-63)

A dark theme keeps me here,
Though summer blazes in the vireo's eye.
Who would be half possessed
By his own nakedness?
Waking's my care --
I'll make a broken music, or I'll die.

Ye littles, lie more close!
Make me, O Lord, a last, a simple thing
Time cannot overwhelm.
Once I transcended time :
A bud broke to a rose,
And I rose from a last diminishing.

I look down the far light
And I behold the dark side of a tree
Far down a billowing plain,
And when I look again,
It's lost upon the night --
Night I embrace, a dear proximity.

I stand by a low fire
Counting the wisps of flame, and I watch how
Light shifts upon the wall.
I bid stillness be still.
I see, in evening air,
How slowly dark comes down on what we do.


#94 of 95 poems

being to timelessness as it's to time,
love did no more begin than love did end;
where nothing is to breathe to stroll to swim
love is the air the ocean and the land

(do lovers suffer?all divinities
proudly descending put on deathful flesh:
are lovers glad? only their smallest joy's
a universe emerging from a wish)

love is the voice under all silences,
the hope which has no opposite in fear;
the strength so strong mere force is feebleness:
the truth more first than sun more last than star

--do lovers love?why then,to heaven with hell.
Whatever sages say and fools,all's well

Monday, April 07, 2003

Possibly upcoming tomorrow
-- please note adverb!

Merton journal excerpts & Catherine de Hueck Doherty from I Live on an Island.

And perhaps excerpts from the Magnificat reflection.

St Patrick, pray for me (he knows why)!

Have a good night, all. Pax vobis, & blessings.
Christianity is Christ!

Dear young people, you know that Christianity is not an opinion nor does it consist of empty words. Christianity is Christ! It is a Person, a Living Person! to meet Jesus, to love him and make him loved : this is the Christian vocation. Mary was given to you to help you enter into a more authentic and personal relationship with Jesus. Through her example, Mary teaches you to gaze on him with love, for He has loved us first. Through her intercession, she forms in you a disciple's heart able to listen to her Son, who reveals the face of his Father and the true dignity of the human person.

5. On 16 October 2002 I proclaimed the "Year of the Rosary", and I invited all the children of the Church to make of this ancient Marian prayer a simple and profound exercise in contemplation of the face of Christ. To recite the Rosary means to learn to gaze on Jesus with his mother's eyes, and to love Jesus with his Mother's heart. Today, my dear young people, I am also, in spirit, handing you the Rosary beads. Through prayer and meditation on the mysteries, Mary leads you safely towards her Son! Do not be ashamed to recite the Rosary alone, while you walk along the streets to school, to the university or to work, or as you commute by public transport. Adopt the habit of reciting it among yourselves, in your groups, movements and associations. Do not hesitate to suggest that it be recited at home by your parents and brothers and sisters, because it rekindles and strengthens the bonds between family members. This prayer will help you to be strong in your faith, constant in charity, joyful and persevering in hope.

With Mary, the handmaiden of the Lord, you will discover the joy and fruitfulness of the hidden life. With her, disciple of the Master, you will follow Jesus along the streets of Palestine, becoming witnesses of his preaching and his miracles. With her, the sorrowful Mother, you will accompany Jesus in his passion and death. With her, Virgin of hope, you will welcome the festive Easter proclamation and the priceless gift of the Holy Spirit.

Pope John Paul II, from the Message for 18th World Youth Day, April 2003.
meditation 97 (verse portion)
in 365 Tao : Daily Meditations

One thousand miles from home, I open the same prayer book.
Some nights it was obligation; tonight, it is comfort.
Jacques Fesch
from today's Magnificat reflection

This execution which frightens you, Mama, is nothing in comparison with what awaits sinners in the next world! It is not for me that you should weep, but for sins which offend God. As for me, I am happy. Jesus is calling me to himself, and great graces have been given me. If you could only taste for a single instant the sweetness of the transports of divine love! And could realize the absolute gravity of the slightest offense! God must come first, do not forget it. He calls you and believes in you. You are rich in his love. Many souls are linked with yours, and you will have an account to render.

You must go to Christ, without whom you can do nothing. If you seek him, you will find him, but you must seek him with all your heart. I'm always afraid that without realizing it you are seeking yourself rather than God. You are the handmaid of the Lord, therefore you owe him complete submission. The Lord is your inheritance, therefore you owe him thanks.

Above all, do not seek your own will, but his.

Jacques Fesch (+1957) was a murderer who experienced a profound conversion before his death by execution.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Credo ut intelligam

blogs in English and German an excerpt from the epic poem Anathemata by the 20th century English poet David Jones, praised by W. H. Auden. Particularly appropriate excerpt to the season, and we note echoes of Eliot and Chaucer in places.
both plain and grand; both nobly simple and richly extravagant; both sensuous and pure

A review of what looks like a great book on the making of the King James Bible. Via Video mel.
Via Dappled Things

An evangelical Protestant in Western Canada writes in praise of the Most Holy Rosary. Do read this one.
four lines of
Howard Moss

from "Underwood"

From the thin slats of the Venetian blinds
The sun has plucked a sudden metaphor :
A harp of light, reflected on the floor,
Disorients the chair and desk and door.
Guest priest at yesterday's vigil Mass

Looked like Jackie Gleason, but with silver hair.
Spoke like Peter Jennings, or Brian Mulroney.
With the azure regions above of nearly evangelical purity, and temperatures more characteristic of northern than southern New England, but tolerable, as we walk the uncharacteristically quiet streets and thoroughfares of the neighborhood, with the occasional white cloud smiling down ...

Let's get high
On the sky.
Psalms in Knox trans. vs. Psalms of 1928 BCP ??

I think old Miles Coverdale has the slight lead, and maybe even more than slight. As I compare (see the left margin) "show my dark speech upon the harp" to Knox's "reveal, with the harp's music, things of deep import" -- I say, with fullness of charity toward the ghost of Msgr Knox, that he mustn't begrudge me if I sneak back to the BCP from time to time !! Knox might be a tad clearer, but the music of the Coverdale is truly momentous and immortal.

But the Knox Bible is attractive in many respects, with the ego mater pulchræ dilectionis verse appearing at Ecclesiasticus 24:24, as it should. I may blog more of the Sapiential Books, the Song of Songs, Job, etc. But I think for future bloggings of psalms, I shall revert to "house usage" & employ the excellency of the tremendous '28 (which is, of course, a translation much older than 1928!).
A prayer to the Holy Spirit

O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who art everywhere and fillest all things, the treasure of blessings, and giver of life, come and abide in us. Cleanse us from all impurity, and of thy goodness save our souls.


and Mr O'Rama kindly points us in the direction of a page of Byzantine/Eastern prayers where the above invocation, and several others, can be found.
Psalm 49 (Psalm 48 in Vulgate)
trans. Msgr Ronald Knox, who uses the Vulgate's numbering

Listen, you nations far and wide; let all the world give hearing, poor clods of earth, and men nobly born, for rich and poor the same lesson. Here are wise words, thoughts of a discerning heart; mine to overhear mysteries, and reveal, with the harp's music, things of deep import.

What need have I to be afraid in troubled times, when malice dogs my heels and overtakes me, malice of foes who trust in their own strength, and boast of their great possessions? No man can deliver himself from his human lot, paying a ransom-price to God; too great is the cost of a man's soul; never will the means be his to prolong his days eternally and escape death. True it is, wise men die; but reckless fools perish no less; their riches will go to others, and the grave will be their everlasting home. Age after age, they will live on there, under the fields they once called their own. Short is man's enjoyment of earthly goods; match him with the brute beasts, and he is no better than they.

Fatal path, that ensnares the reckless! Pitiful end of the men that love life! There they lie in the world beneath, huddled like sheep, with death for their shepherd, the just for their masters; soon, soon their image fades, the grave for its tenement. But my life God will rescue from the power of that lower darkness, a life that finds acceptance with him. Do not be disturbed, then, when a man grows rich, and there is no end to his household's magnificence; he cannot take all that with him when he dies, magnificence will not follow him to the grave. While life lasts, he calls himself happy : None but will envy my success; but soon he will be made one with the line of his fathers, never again to see the light. Short is man's careless enjoyment of earthly goods; match him with the brute beasts, and he is no better than they.
from meditation 96
of 365 Tao : Daily Meditations (HarperSan Francisco, 1992, 380 pp.), with commentary by Deng Ming-Dao

Clear sunlight on falling snow : fire and ice.
Bare-boned trees stark to the horizon.
Cold marshes, havens to ducks and geese.
A groundhog sits motionless on a post.

Mother Marie des Douleurs
from today's Magnificat reflection

There are people who, out of fear of suffering, would prefer not to think too much about our Lord crucified. But to avoid thinking of things in no way alters their reality; and those people who would like it if there were only the Incarnation and the entrance into eternal bliss, by falsifying things terribly, are doing an unimaginable wrong to themselves. As a matter of fact, their willful ignorance will not keep them from being put to the test some day, nor will it prevent suffering from embracing the whole world; but it will leave them without an answer, distressed, incoherent.

If, on the contrary, we really want to know our Savior and his redemptive suffering, we acquire, at the same time that we learn about him, the knowledge of how we should respond to all the circumstances of our lives. And there occurs within us a liberation, a lightening of our burdens, I would even say a serenity which those who have refused to see the cross at the center of things will never know.