Monday, June 26, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Snow, Moon, Flowers

Sakai H├┤itsu; Snow, Moon, Flowers

Well Said: Love and marriage and the right room

It seems like people make the mistake of thinking love is about the bedroom. It's not. It's about the emergency room. Love and marriage are about who will sit there and wait.
Stephen Tobolowsky
Truer words were never spoken.

National Catholic Register Review of Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life


A lovely review from Sarah Sarah Reinhard at National Catholic Register.

Among other things she says:
"This is about forming a friendship that will last through eternity," Davis writes. And that's exactly the foundation she's set for each reader of this volume.
Go read the rest at NCR and then stop by Amazon to pick up your own copy!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist

This feast, a segment of Advent in the season of Ordinary Time, makes us aware of the wonderful inner relationship between the sacred mysteries; for we are still in the midst of one Church year and already a bridge is being erected to the coming year of grace.
The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch, via Catholic Culture
I've always respected John the Baptist's role in salvation history.

But I never really appreciated his role fully until reading this in Magnificat a few years ago.
I want to show you a sun that shone more brightly than all these, a soul that was truly free and detached, cleaving only to the will of God. I have often wondered who is the most mortified of the saints I know, and after some reflection I have come to the conclusion that it was Saint John the Baptist. He went into the desert when he was five years old and knew that our Savior and his came on earth in a place quite close by, one or two days' journey perhaps. How his heart, touched with love of his Savior from the time he was in his Mother's womb, must have longed to enjoy his presence! Yet he spends twenty-five years in the desert without coming to see our Lord even once; and leaving the desert he stays to catechize without visiting him but waiting till our Lord comes to seek him out. Then when he has baptized him he does not follow him but stays behind to do his appointed task. How truly mortified was his spirit! To be so near his Savior and not see him, to have him so close and not enjoy his presence! Is this not a completely detached spirit, detached even from God himself so as to do his will and serve him, to leave God for God, and not to love God in order to love him better? The example of this great saint overwhelms me with its grandeur.
St. Francis de Sales

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary


In the midst of the second world war Pope Pius XII put the whole world under the special protection of our Savior's Mother by consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart, and in 1944 he decreed that in the future the whole Church should celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is not a new devotion. In the seventeenth century, St. John Eudes preached it together with that of the Sacred Heart; in the nineteenth century, Pius VII and Pius IX allowed several churches to celebrate a feast of the Pure Heart of Mary. Pius XII instituted today's feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the whole Church, so as to obtain by her intercession "peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue" (Decree of May 4, 1944).
As always you'll find a lot more information, prayers, and activities at Catholic Culture.

I particularly like this reflection which reminds me of why Mary was not only the first and best of Jesus' disciples, but why I should ask her for help in my own Christian journey.
The Preface of the Mass attributes a number of qualities to the Heart of Mary. It is wise, because she understood the meaning of the Scriptures as no other person had ever done, and she kept in it the memory of the words and things relating to the mystery of salvation. It is immaculate, that is, immune from any stain of sin. It is docile because she submitted so faithfully to God's will and to every one of his wishes. It is new, according to the ancient prophecy of Ezechiel  -- a new heart I will give you, and a new spirit -- clothed in the newness of grae merited by Christ. It is humble because she imitated the humility of Christ, who said Learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart. It is simple, free from any duplicity and full of the Spirit of truth. It is clean and thus able to see God according to the words of the Beatitude. It is firm in her acceptance of the Will of God when Simeon announced to her that a sword of sorrow would pierce her heart, when persecution broke out aginst her Son or when the moment of his death was a hand. It is ready, for whilst Christ slept in the sepulchre she kept watchin the expectation of his resurrection, just like the spouse in the Canticle of Canticles.

As we consider the splendour and holiness of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we can examine today the depths of our own soul: whether we are open and docile to the graces and inspirations of the Holy Spirit, whether we jealously guard our heart from anything that could separate it form God, whether we pull up by the roots our little feelings of resentment, of envy ... which tend to bed themselves down within it. We know that from our heart's richness or its poverty our words and deeds will speak. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good things. (Matt. 12:35)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Elisabeth of Bavaria

Elisabeth of Bavaria, Empress of Austria (1865).
Franz Xaver Winterhalter (German, 1805-1873).
Look at that dress! I know she was a great beauty of the time but that dress is the star of this painting to me.

Lagniappe: Cooking With Actual Food

It was lovely to be cooking with actual food. There's something so grounding about it. It's not that I was doing any magic, beyond the magic it is to take big flat mushrooms and raw potatoes and turn them into something totally delicious. I was just making dinner. But I wonder how much of cooking for someone else is magic anyway, more than I know about. I think it might all be.
Jo Walton, Among Others
This evokes a sense of place and activity that speaks strongly to me, even if it is "just making dinner." And she's right, cooking for others is magical though it is usually felt most strongly when you all come together for the meal.

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. So I'm reposting. The links may be old, but they're tasty.


On the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we give special honor to the source and symbol of the love Our Saviour has for us. Celebrated the Friday after the feast of Corpus Christi, the feast day celebrates the devotion to the Heart of Jesus; one of the oldest devotions of the Church, dating back in some form to the Patristic Era, the era of the early Church Fathers. Sr. Mary Jeremiah, O.P., S.T.D. Describes the importance and significance of the devotion:

“Jesus Christ is the center of the universe. His pierced Heart, as the symbol of His infinite and divine charity united to his human affections and love, is the focal point of all time. Those who lived during the long period before his incarnation and redemptive death and resurrection waited with yearning for the promised redeemer. Those who witnessed the piercing of his side, as well as all people who will live, are invited to gaze upon and contemplate this mystery. . . As Christians lovingly gaze upon his Heart, they are given the grace to believe in God's mercy and forgiveness.” - from the book The Secret of the Heart
Read the rest of this excellent article at Aquinas and More
The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a moveable feast, which means that it depends on the date of Easter Sunday. It is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost Sunday, which falls on the 50th day of Easter.

I personally have a special love for the novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
O Lord Jesus Christ, to your most Sacred Heart I confide this intention. Only look upon me, then do what your love inspires. Let your Sacred Heart decide. I count on you. I trust in you. I throw myself on your mercy. Lord Jesus, you will not fail me.

(Mention your request)

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, your kingdom come.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I have asked you for many favors, but I earnestly implore this one. Take it, place it in your open heart. When the Eternal Father looks upon it, he will see it covered with your Precious Blood. It will no longer be my prayer, but yours, Jesus. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you. Let me not be disappointed. Amen.
There is something about this part especially that gets to me: "When the Eternal Father looks upon it, he will see it covered with your Precious Blood. It will no longer be my prayer, but yours, Jesus."

I tend to forget about the Litany of the Sacred Heart but it is very useful for prayerful meditation on the perfection that is Jesus' heart with which we try to bring our hearts in line daily.

Other Good Thoughts about The Sacred Heart of Jesus
"In the best apologetic manner the Catholic lady said, "Well, you know how you Baptists accept Jesus into your heart? We Catholics ask Jesus to accept us into his heart.
He also has a nice piece which reminds me that one of my very favorite churches, La Basilica de Sacre Coeur in Paris, is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Go. Read.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

3 Myths (and 1 Truth) About Grain-Fed Beef

I've been a fan of the Nutrition Diva for a long time. I especially love the way she looks into facts versus what "everyone knows" (a.k.a. "myths) on different topics.

This time she's looking at grain-fed beef, In particular 3 myths and 1 surprising truth about the impact of various feeding programs on the health of the cow and on the environment. That's an area where there are a lot of misconceptions. And I was really surprised by the truth ... also pleased.

You can listen her podcast episode or read the transcript — both are at Nutrition Diva.

Worth a Thousand Words: Sun and Sundial

Sun and Sundial, Wettenhausen monastery emblem

To go with today's quote!

Well Said: May the gods confound the man ...

May the gods confound the man who first found out how to distinguish hours, and the man who put this sun-dial here to cut my day to pieces.
Plautus

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Well Said: If you feel like fighting fire with fire ...

If you feel like fighting fire with fire, remember real firefighters use water.
Anonymous
I love this. It goes hand in hand with the quote someone used at dinner last night.
An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.
Anonymous
(attributed to many, confirmed for none)

Worth a Thousand Words: The Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux



Matins : Arrest of Christ - The Annunciation
Jean Pucelle, 1324-1328

This is via French Painters where there are a wealth of images from Pucelle's fabulous creations of breviaries for private devotions.

I'm always fascinated by these sorts of books and wish something like them were readily available today. They combine the best of words and images to help draw you out of yourself and into an encounter with God. There is also usually a playful element that I really love, as witness from this closeup.

Genesis Notes: Esau's Resume

I've already talked about my soft spot for Esau. Let's look over his resume to see what we can apply from his example to our own lives.

I haven't mentioned this before, but one of my favorite parts of these resumes is at the end when we see where else a person is mentioned in the Bible. I like to read up on how others use their examples also.

Francesco Hayez, Esau and Jacob reconcile
Common sense isn't all that common. In fact, the common thread in many decisions is that they don't make sense. Esau's life was filled with choices he must have regretted bitterly. He appears to have been a person who found it hard to consider consequences, reacting to the need of the moment without realizing what he was giving up to meet that weakness. He also chose wives in direct opposition to his parents' wishes. He learned the hard way.

Strengths and accomplishments:
  • Ancestor of the Edomites
  • Known for his archery skill
  • Able to forgive after explosive anger
Weaknesses and mistakes:
  • When faced with important decisions, tended to choose according to the immediate need rather than the long-range effect
  • Angered his parents by poor marriage choices
Lessons from his life:
  • God allows certain events in our lives to accomplish his overall purposes, but we are still responsible for our actions
  • Consequences are important to consider
  • It is possible to have great anger and yet not sin
Vital statistics:
  • Where: Canaan
  • Occupation: Skillful hunter
  • Relatives: Parents - Isaac and Rebekah. Brother - Jacob. Wives: Judith, Basemath, and Mahalath.
Key verses:
"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears." (Hebrews 12:14-17)

Esau's story is told in Genesis 25-36. He also is mentioned in Malachi 1:2, 3; Romans 9:13; Hebrews 12:16, 17.
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.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Study reports beautiful churches important in young people's conversions

Inside of Notre-Dame Basilica (Montreal)
Now that there's a study proving what most of us already knew, can we return beauty to our churches?
The Telegraph revealed the results of the study, stating that, “Around 13 percent of teenagers said that they decided to become a Christian after a visit to a church or cathedral.”

Even more surprising was the report’s finding that the “influence of a church building was more significant than attending a youth group, going to a wedding, or speaking to other Christians about their faith.”

In fact, “The study suggests that new methods invested in by the Church, such as youth groups … are less effective than prayer or visiting a church building in attracting children to the Church.”
Philip Kosloski reports on this as well as considering how U.S. parishes have begun building traditionally beautiful churches again.

I still remember being in Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal and seeing a young man standing in the center aisle with tears running down his face. His concerned girlfriend was asking if he was ok. He looked somewhat embarrassed, responding, "No, I was just having a moment. It just hit me all at once."

Yes, that beauty does hit you and hits you hard. If we are open to it, often God's presence is using beauty to touch your soul.

More than beauty is converting young people

The Telegraph reports on the study's other points. Interestingly, the British are dumbstruck that one in six young people are Christian, saying how high these numbers are. I was interested in the point that it is not youth groups or guitar masses that pull people in but having read the Bible or being taken to visit a church.
The study suggests that new methods invested in by the Church, such as youth groups and courses such as Youth Alpha, are less effective than prayer or visiting a church building in attracting children to the church.

One in five said reading the Bible had been important, 17 per cent said going to a religious school had had an impact and 14 per cent said a spiritual experience was behind their Christianity.

“Things which we would class as old hat methods are some of the more effective ways."
Yes, the good old fashioned ways of personal encounter with Christ still work just fine.

Lagniappe: The Anti-authoritarian Authority

“Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you."

"Sir?"

"It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority."

"Sir?"

"That's practically zen.”
Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

Worth a Thousand Words: Mute Swan chicks following mother

Mute Swan chicks following mother, taken by Remo Savisaar

A Movie You Might Have Missed #67: The Founder

He took someone else's idea
and America ate it up.



The Founder is the story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers’ innovative  restaurant, McDonald’s, into one of the biggest restaurant businesses in the world with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness.
This normally isn't the sort of movie I feature as "a movie you might have missed." It's got a big star, a director who's done movies people know (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks), and is about an American institution. And yet I'm continually surprised to find that so few people have heard of it.

We enjoyed it a lot both as a biopic and as a business movie. Make no mistake, it has a very definite point of view. If you check History vs Hollywood, as I like to do after watching any movie "based on a true story, you will see where the creators made story choices to enhance the points they were interested in discussing. The movie as a whole leaves you pondering innovation in its many forms and what it means "to invent" something.

Also, I defy anyone to watch this and not come away wanting a burger and fries. Maybe with a milkshake on the side.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Cypress at L’Arcade

Cypress at L’Arcade by Belinda Del Pesco

Well Said: Blandings Castle and the original garden

The gardens of Blandings Castle are that original garden from which we are all exiled. All those who know them long to return.
Evelyn Waugh on P.G. Wodehouse's Blandings Castle series