Thursday, September 29, 2016

Blogging Around

A Single Phrase Helped Save This Marriage

Finally, hoarse and broken, I sat down in the shower and began to cry. In the depths of my despair powerful inspiration came to me. You can’t change her, Rick. You can only change yourself. At that moment I began to pray. If I can’t change her, God, then change me. I prayed late into the night. I prayed the next day on the flight home. I prayed as I walked in the door to a cold wife who barely even acknowledged me. That night, as we lay in our bed, inches from each other yet miles apart, the inspiration came. I knew what I had to do.
Read it all here.

Beware the (Online) Culture of Wrath

Stephen D. Greydanus on how to avoid poisoning your soul, or those of others, on social media. He's got good ways to do a self examination checking for unseen problems in your own participation. And some excellent common sense guidelines.

What My Dying Friend is Teaching Everyone Around Her About Faith

Her luminous witness of a peaceful spirit despite real and ever present danger has directed the attention of everyone around her away from the cancer to the Divine Physician. She is embracing her cross like a lover, revealing thus the one she loves.
Read it all here.

Why a Hawk is a Hummingbird

You know what they say about location and real estate. Hummingbird nests often appear in clusters, but for years researchers couldn’t figure out what attracted the birds to certain areas. Turned out the answer was, “good neighbors.”
Fascinating. Read it all here.

Feast of the Archangels

This is one of my favorite feast days so I re-present one of my favorite posts about it.

St. Michael the Archangel

St. Gabriel the Archangel

St. Raphael the Archangel
The liturgy for today celebrates the feast of the three archangels who have been venerated throughout the history of the Church, Michael (from the Hebrew Who is like God?) is the archangel who defends the friends of God against Satan and all his evil angels. Gabriel, (the Power of God), is chosen by the Creator to announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation. Raphael, (the Medicine of God), is the archangel who takes care of Tobias on his journey.

I have a special fondness for angels and it is a sign of my Catholic geekiness, I suppose, that I got an excited "Christmas morning" sort of thrill when I realized today's feast.

I read for the first time about angels when we were in the hospital with my father-in-law after his stroke. That made a big impression on me at the time. I always attribute the miracle that happened to the Holy Family but the angels are divine messengers and so have their place in it as well. Because of that I always have remembered that we can call not only on our friends for intercessory prayer, but also on angels for intercession and help. The prayer to St. Michael is one of my favorites.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray. And do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl around the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Some more on angels.
You should be aware that the word "angel" denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels.
From a homily by Pope Saint Gregory the Great
Read more about angels at Catholic Culture.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Horse in a Landscape

Franz Marc, 1910, Horse in a Landscape
via WikiPaintings
There is something mesmerizing in this painting. Is this how the horse sees? Is it viewing a painting? The playful tone seems to invite mental hijinks. And yet, I love the painting simply as a work of art. I could look at this all day.

Checking his WikiPaintings entry I see that he painted a lot of animals and that his painting style and my taste part ways about 1912, right after his Girl With a Cat. But nothing grabs me the way this horse does.

Well Said: Tolkien's concern

The Ring is less morally ambiguous than the average realistic novel, but that's primarily because Tolkien wasn't especially interested in the problem of knowing right from wrong. His concern was to explore the psychology of the moment when you know right from wrong but aren't sure whether you have the courage and fortitude to do the right thing.
Alan Jacobs
Yep. And that is why The Lord of the Rings is endlessly fascinating.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Well Said: What wonder you do not understand...

We are talking about God. What wonder is it that you do not understand? If you do understand, then it is not God.
St. Augustine

Worth a Thousand Words: Couple in Love in Moonlight

Couple in Love in Moonlight, Jakob Alt

Genesis Notes: Adam's Descendents

Genesis 5 shows the descendents from Adam to Noah and is one of those endless seeming lists of names that make my eyes glaze over.

There's nothing for modern people in these lists. Right? Au contraire!

The Phillip Medhurst Picture Torah 43. Adam's descendants. Genesis cap 5. Schenck

The Bible contains several lists of ancestors, called genealogies. There are two basic views concerning these lists: (1) they are complete, recording the entire history of a family, tribe, or nation; or (2) they are not intended to be exhaustive and may include only famous people or the heads of families. "Became the father of" could also mean "was the ancestor of."

Why are genealogies included in the Bible? The Hebrews passed on their beliefs through oral tradition. For many years in many places, writing was primitive or nonexistent. Stories were told to children who passed them on to their children. Genealogies gave a skeletal outline that helped people remember the stories. For centuries these genealogies were added to and passed down from family to family. Even more important than preserving family tradition, genealogies were included to confirm the Bible's promise that the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, would be born into the line of Abraham.

Genealogies point out an interesting characteristic of God. People are important to him as individuals, not just as races or nations. Therefore God refers to people by name, mentioning their life span an descendants.

Life Application Study Bible, emphasis added

Monday, September 26, 2016

Well Said: The most dangerous thing you can do ...

The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it is not. If you leave out justice you will find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials "for the sake of humanity," and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man.
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Worth a Thousand Words: Fall Landscape

Julian Onderdonk, Fall Landscape
via Arts Everyday Living

Friday, September 23, 2016

Well Said: Wherever there is love, there is a trinity

Wherever there is love, there is a trinity: a lover, a beloved, and a fountain of love.
St. Augustine

Worth a Thousand Words: Hand in Reflecting Sphere

Hand with Reflecting Sphere, M. C. Escher
via Lines and Colors

St. Pio's Feast Day

I will stand at the gates of Heaven and I will not enter until all of my spiritual children are with me.
Today is St. Pio's feast day. I just love this guy, an Italian priest who knew how to throw his head back and laugh, who would scold a famous actress for being shallow, who suffered the stigmata for over 50 years, who knew (and could see) his guardian angel from the time he was a tiny child, who could bilocate and read souls, who was one of the greatest saints in living memory ... and who I share a birthday with (although his was 70 years earlier - May 25).

Finally I have found the original photo which attracted me to him when I was leafing through a book of saints in our church's library ... it communicates a sense of joy and light-heartedness that was striking. I thought, "Now there is someone I could talk to...that is what a real saint should look like."

Deacon Greg Kandra has, in years past, featured a homily he gave focusing on Padre Pio and tells this story which reflects the saint's fine sense of humor and irony.
One of my favorite stories about him happened during the early 1960s.

Italy was in crisis. The Red Brigade was sparking violence in Rome, and it was considered dangerous to travel around the country. For protection, people began carrying pictures of Padre Pio.

During this time, Padre Pio had to leave his village to visit Rome, and one of the other friars asked him, “Aren’t you worried about the Red Brigade?”

“No,” he said. “I have a picture of Padre Pio.”
Here is an extremely brief and incomplete look at the saint, which nonetheless is not a bad summary.
While praying before a cross, he received the stigmata on 20 September 1918, the first priest ever to be so blessed. As word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following WWII, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, reportedly able to read the consciences of those who held back. Reportedly able to bilocate, levitate, and heal by touch. Founded the House for the Relief of Suffering in 1956, a hospital that serves 60,000 a year. In the 1920's he started a series of prayer groups that continue today with over 400,000 members worldwide.
You can read more about Padre Pio here

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Well Said: A Seven Year-Old’s Experimentation with a Life of Crime

I walked with purpose and carefully replaced Batman in the comic’s rack. I passed the shelf with the Life Savers. I glanced at the old woman behind the register. She was reading a magazine. I bent down quickly and pretended to tie my shoe. I reached up and grabbed a roll of Wint-O-Green and jammed it into my pocket.

I was surprised by a revelation: I was already guilty. I never thought of that. I always thought that I wasn’t really a thief until I left the store. Not true. I was a thief now. I became one as soon as I demonstrated my intention to steal by putting the candy in my pocket.
Stephen Tobolowsky is a master storyteller as I've mentioned before. Be sure to read the entire piece.

Worth a Thousand Words: The Blue Grotto in Capri

The Blue Grotto in Capri, Jakob Alt

Genesis Notes: Cain's Resume

We may feel that we know much more than we want to about Cain. He is the familiar character who doesn't do what he is supposed to, defies authority, and never sees the light. The Life Application Study Bible profile helps us see the key lessons from Cain's life.

Cain, Henri Vidal, Tuileries Gardens, Paris, 1896
Strengths and accomplishments:
  • First human child
  • First to follow in father's profession, farming
Weaknesses and mistakes:
  • When disappointed, reacted in anger
  • Took the negative option even when a positive possibility was offered
  • Was the first murderer
Lessons from his life:
  • Anger is not necessarily a sin, but actions motivated by anger can be sinful. Anger should be the energy behind good action, not evil action
  • What we offer to God must be from the heart -- the best we are and have
  • The consequences of sin may last a lifetime
Vital statistics:
  • Where: Near Eden, which was probably located in present-day Iraq or Iran
  • Occupation: Farmer, then wanderer
  • Relatives: Parents - Adam and Eve, Brother - Abel, Seth and others not mentioned by name
Key verse:
"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:7)

Cain's story is told in Genesis 4:1-17. He also is mentioned in Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Gloria Swanson Reads

Gloria Swanson reading “The Shulamite,” the literary basis for her film called “Under the Lash”. c. 1921
via Awesome People Reading

Well Said: Happy Enough

Miss Celia stares down into the pot like she's looking for her future. "Are you happy, Minny?"

"Why you ask me funny questions like that?"

"But are you?"

"Course I's happy. You happy too. Big house, big yard, husband looking after you." I frown at Miss Celia and I make sure she can see it. Because ain't that white people for you, wondering if they are happy enough.
Kathryn Stockett, The Help