Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quotation of note

The Epistle of James says that faith without works is a dead faith. A living faith always bears fruit in action, both personal and ecclesial. That's why we read the "Acts" of the Apostles, and not the "Interesting Ideas," "Pious Sentiments," or "Good Intentions" of the Apostles. Words are easy. Action counts.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., Living the Catholic Faith : Rediscovering the Basics (Charis Press, 2001), p. 51

Friday, April 24, 2009

Seven quick takes?

(Spotted here, but apparently the meme originates here.)

7. I could use a nap.

6. An Extraordinary Gathering of Angels, edited by Margaret Barker, is a marvelous compendium of art, iconography, and poetry about the angels. A mini-museum! A revelation and a visual delight.

5. It's in the 60s where I am, with a cool breeze, but the sun is strong. The weather forecasters are saying that this weekend's sun will be of mid-August intensity; and they counsel the use of sunscreen.

4. There's a rally going on right now at Faneuil Hall to "save the Boston Globe," a paper which is in financial peril.

3. Yankees vs Red Sox tonight at Fenway! First time this season.

2. The month of April has just flown by. The May flowers are already here!

1. Three cheers for subterranean bookstores!

:: :: :: :: ::

Did I do this right?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Flower

by George Herbert (1593-1633)

      How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! ev’n as the flowers in spring;
      To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
                  Grief melts away
                  Like snow in May,
      As if there were no such cold thing.

      Who would have thought my shrivel’d heart
Could have recover’d greennesse? It was gone
      Quite under ground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown;
                  Where they together
                  All the hard weather,
      Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

      These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickning, bringing down to hell
      And up to heaven in an houre;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell,
                  We say amisse,
                  This or that is:
      Thy word is all, if we could spell.

      O that I once past changing were;
Fast in thy Paradise, where no flower can wither!
      Many a spring I shoot up fair,
Offring at heav’n, growing and groning thither:
                  Nor doth my flower
                  Want a spring-showre,
      My sinnes and I joining together;

      But while I grow to a straight line;
Still upwards bent, as if heav’n were mine own,
      Thy anger comes, and I decline:
What frost to that? what pole is not the zone,
                  Where all things burn,
                  When thou dost turn,
      And the least frown of thine is shown?

      And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
      I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O my onely light,
                  It cannot be
                  That I am he
      On whom thy tempests fell all night.

      These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide:
      Which when we once can finde and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us, where to bide.
                  Who would be more,
                  Swelling through store,
      Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)

Nothing is so beautiful as spring --
    When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
    Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
    The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
    The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
    A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. -- Have, get, before it cloy,
    Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
    Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Current reading

I hate to do this, but I have to warn the potential reader about My Life with the Saints by Fr James Martin, SJ. While there is no doubt that Fr Martin is an intelligent, accessible, engaging, self-deprecating, humorous, and utterly readable writer, there is at least one passage in his book that deviates from Catholic orthodoxy.

During his chapter on St Ignatius of Loyola, Fr Martin speaks of experiences that draw a soul closer to God. He mentions that a beautiful sunset can cause our minds to turn to the Author of creation, and we concur. He goes on to say that "an intimate encounter with a spouse or partner" can bring us to a greater awareness of the Source of all Love (p. 89, emphasis mine).

Or partner. We really do get enough of this stuff from other places, from the Henri Nouwen of Sabbatical Journey (an otherwise magnetizing book), from "progressive" Episcopalians, and from Andrew Sullivan.

I am assuming that "an intimate encounter" means sexual congress, or some other less explicit erotic experience. And I am further assuming that "partner" does not mean "business partner," but rather "companion of the same sex."

To the orthodox Christian, specifically, to the Catholic, "intimate encounters" with "partners" must be eschewed. Loving God entails keeping the commandments. The full implications of the commandments are admirably exposited in the recently promulgated Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Again, one hesitates to sound like Pat Buchanan or the Marquess of Queensberry, condemning sins to which we are not tempted ourselves. But one does expect orthodoxy from a Catholic priest. Are we being foolishly optimistic?

A further caveat: One of the "saints" in Fr Martin's communion is Thomas Merton, and while we have profited from Merton's books in the past, and often return to them in the present, we begin to think that his beleaguered abbot is a much more fitting candidate for sainthood!

(I did read many of the customer reviews for My Life with the Saints on : a saddening uniformity of five-star reviews accompanied by the most elate encomiastic exclamations. And no reviewer seems to have noticed the phrasing on page 89.)

Fr Martin is a first-rate writer, and I was enjoying his book quite a bit -- until the obtrusion of his tenth-rate moral theology. A shame.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Are you from Massachusetts?

Some indicators:

1. The Red Sox World Series win was, and will always be, one of the greatest moments in your life.

2. The guy driving in front of you is going 70 mph and you're swearing at him for going too slow.

3. When ordering a tonic, you mean a Coke.

4. You went to Canobie Lake Park or Water Country as a kid.

5. You actually enjoy driving around rotaries.

6. You do not recognize the letter 'R' as a part of the English language.

7. Your social security number starts with a zero.

8. You can actually find your way around the streets of Boston.

9. You know what a 'regular' coffee is.

10. You keep an ice scraper in your car year-round.

11. You can tell the difference between a Revere accent and a Dorchester accent.

12. Springfield is located 'way out west.'

13. You almost feel disappointed if someone doesn't flip you the bird when you cut them off or steal their parking space.

14. You know how to pronounce the names of towns like Worcester, Billerica, Gloucester, Peabody and Haverhill.

15. Anyone you don't know is a potential idiot until proven otherwise.

16. Paranoia sets in if you can't see a Dunkin Donuts or CVS Pharmacy within eyeshot at all times.

17. You have driven to New Hampshire on a Sunday just to buy alcohol.

18. You know how to pronounce Yastrzemski.

19. You know there's a trophy at the end of the Bean Pot.

20. You order iced coffee in January.

21. You know that the Purple Line will take you anywhere.

22. You love scorpion bowls.

23. You know what they sell at a Packie.

24. Sorry Manny, but number 24 means DEWEY EVANS.

25. You know what First Night is.

26. You know at least one guy named Sean, Pat, Whitey, Red, Bud or Seamus. Bonus: You know how to pronounce Seamus.

27. McLobster = 3-D McCrap

28. You know at least 2 cops in your town because they were your high school drinking buddies.

29. You know there are 6 New England states, but that Connecticut really doesn't count.

30. You give incomprehensible directions to tourists, feel bad when they drive off, but then say to yourself 'Ah, screw them.'

31. You know at least one bar where you can get something to drink after last call.

32. You hate the Kennedys, but you vote for them anyway.

33. You know holding onto the railing when riding the Green Line is not optional.

34. The numbers '78 and '86 make you cringe.

35. You've been to Goodtimes.

36. You think the rest of the country owes you for Thanksgiving and Independence Day. (...and they DO)

37. You have never actually been to 'Cheers.'

38. The words 'WICKED' and 'GOOD' go together.

39. You've been to Fenway Park.

40. You've gone to at least one party at UMass.

41. You own a 'Yankees Suck' shirt or hat.

42. You know what a Frappe is.

43. You've been to Hempfest.

44. You know who Frank Avruch is.

45. You know Frank Avruch was once Bozo the Clown

46. You can complete the following: 'Lynn, Lynn .....'

47. You get pissed off when a restaurant serves clam chowder, and it turns out to be Snows.

48. You actually know how to merge from six lanes of traffic down to one.

49. The TV weatherman is damn good if he's right 25% of the time.

50. You never go to Cape Cod,' you go 'down the Cape'.

51. You think that Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon are more evil than Whitey Bulger.

52. You know who Whitey Bulger is.

53. You went to the Swan Boats, House of Seven Gables, or Plimoth Plantation on a field trip in elementary school.

54. Bobby Orr is loved as much as Larry Bird, Tom Brady, and Ted Williams.

55. You remember Major Mudd.

56. You know what candlepin bowling is.

57. You can drive from the mountains to the ocean all in one day.

58. You know Scollay Square once stood where Government Center is.

59. When you were a kid, Rex Trailer was the coolest guy around.

60. Speaking of which.... You can still hum the song from the end of Boom Town

61. Calling Carrabba's an 'Italian' restaurant is sacrilege.

62. You still have your old Flexible Flyer somewhere in your parents' attic.

63. You know that route 128 is some kind of strange weather dividing line. snow/rain

64. The only time you've been on the Freedom Trail is when relatives are in town.

65. The Big Dig tunnel disaster wasn't a surprise.

66. You call guys you've just met 'Chief' or 'Boss.'

67. 4:15pm and pitch black out means only 3 more shopping days until Christmas.

68. You know more than one person with the last name Murphy.

69. You refer to Savin Hill as 'Stab 'n Kill.'

70. You've never eaten at Durgin Park, but recommend it to tourists.

71. You can't look at the zip code 02134 without singing it.

72. You voted for a Republican Mormon as Governor just to screw with the rest of the country.

73 11 pm? Drunk? It means one thing: Kowloons!

74. 2 am? Drunk? It means one thing: Kelly's! The one on Revere Beach not the one on Route 1.

75. 5 am? Drunk? It means one thing: You wish you had a blanket in your back seat.

76. You know that P-Town isn't the name of a new rap group.

77. People you don't like are all 'Bastids.'

78. You took off school or work for the Patriots first Super Bowl Win Parade.

79. You've called something 'wicked pissa'.

80. You'll always get razzed for Dukakis.

81. Saturday afternoons meant Creature Double Feature with Dale Dorman.

82. Sunday mornings meant the Three Stooges on Channel 38.

83. You've slammed on your brakes to deter a tailgater.

84. No, you don't trust the Gorton's Fisherman.

85. You know that Papa Gino's usually has a jukebox.

86. You think Aerosmith is the greatest rock band of all time

87. Your town has at least 6 pizza and roast beef shops.

88. You know at least three Tony's, one Vinnie and a Frankie.

89. 20 degrees is downright balmy as long as there is no wind -- then it gets wicked cold.

90. You were very sad when saying goodbye to the Boston Garden.

91. Thanksgiving means family, turkey, High School football, and the long version of Alice's Restaurant.

92. You know the guy who founded the Boston Pops was named Athah Feedlah.

93. You know what the Combat Zone is.

94. You actually drive 45 minutes to New Hampshire to save $5 in sales tax.

95. You've pulled out of a side street and used your car to block oncoming traffic so you can make a left.

96. You've bragged about the money you've saved at The Christmas Tree Shop.

97. You've been to Hampton Beach on a Saturday night.

98. Playing street hockey was a daily after school ritual.

99. Hearing an old lady shout 'Numbah 96 for Sioux City!' means it's time for steak.

100. You remember Jordan Marsh, Filene's, Grants, Bradlees, Caldor, Zayres, or Ann & Hope.

101. You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Massachusetts.