Friday, May 26, 2017

Well Said: Stop thinking about yourself

This is from a 1917 mystery featuring a female detective, Millie, who has an unusual way of dealing with cases. Here she has explained to a prospective client that she doesn't deal in divorce cases because they are too "high" (difficult). She goes on to give some advice instead.
"I will give you a piece of advice if you like."

"I am willing to pay well for it," he expanded.

"This is not for pay. No matter what your wife has done, go home and do everything you can that will be for her good."

The man stared.

"Stop thinking about yourself and your wrongs. I don't know what they are. I'd rather not know. Whatever they are, they are past. If it is best for your wife to leave you then help her do it. Stop thinking about yourself."

The man's narrow eyes widened a little as they studied the quiet face before him.

She nodded. "Help her to get away from you if you think she will be better off."

The man's eyes continued to regard her with a puzzled look.

"But I'd be pretty sure, if I were you, that it's best for her to leave you. It would be a silly sort of body if it's heart went wrong, that went to work planning to get rid of it, divorce it for good and all. That's a homely way of saying it. I'm a homely woman and when people are married they seem to me one just as truly as the body is all one. I don't divorce part of me unless it's too bad to be made right. If it is, I go to a good surgeon and tell him to make quick work of it."

She paused with a thoughtful look and smiled. "But the best surgeons now, they tell me, don't believe in amputating. They bring their cases to a serum specialist, don't they?" She nodded toward the card on the desk. "And you find out what's wrong and give them some more of the same kind, only different and they get well."

The look in the man's darted and broke in a little laugh. "You think I'd better give Rose serum treatment? Spiritual serum?" He chuckled. His face had cleared. "I wonder what kind," he said thoughtfully. His face had the keen look of a scientist attacking a difficult problem.

"Some brand of human kindness, I should say," responded Millie dryly.

The man laughed and got up. "I believe you've been giving me serum treatment." He held out his hand. ...

"I am going home," he said. "I came here with the idea that I was a desperate figure, a kind of modern Othello, blighted life and so on due to infidelity. You have made me see I'm sick, a kind of spiritual invalid that hasn't sense enough to take care of a common cold, just goes around suffering with it."
Jennette Lee, The Green Jacket
"Stop thinking about yourself."

If more of us put the good of the other person first, what a lovely world it would be wouldn't it? That's an interesting perspective for a detective who investigates murders and theft. Full of common sense and a knowledge of what makes people tick.

Note: I'm not sure what serum treatment meant in 1917. When I look on the usually reliable internet all I find is ads for skin and facial treatments so it clearly doesn't mean now what it did then.

Worth a Thousand Words: Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna

Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna,
sister of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, ca. 1880s
via The Corseted Beauty

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 1

Oldest of all novenas,
this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.

(Friday, 6th Week of Easter)
The gift of understanding shows us the riches of the Faith with greater clarity. The gift of knowledge enables us to judge created things in an upright manner, and to keep our heart fixed on God, and on things insofar as they lead us to him The gift of wisdom enables us to comprehend the unfathomable wonder of God, and it urges us to seek him in preference to all other things, amid our ordinary work and obligations. The gift of counsel points out the paths of holiness to us -- God's Will in our ordinary daily life -- encourages us to choose the option which most closely coincides with the glory of God, and the good of our fellow man. The gift of piety inclines us to treat God with the intimacy with which a child treats his father. The gift of fortitude uplifts continually, helping us to overcome the difficulties which we inevitably meet on our journey to God. The gift of fear induces us to flee the occasions of sin, resist temptation, avoid every evil which could sadden the Holy Spirit, and to fear above all the loss of the One whom we love, and who is th reason of being of our life.

Prayer: The Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit! Lord of Light!
From Your clear celestial height,
Your pure beaming radiance give!
The Holy Spirit
Only one thing is important -- eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared--sin. Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for "The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us."

Let us pray:
Almighty and eternal God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Spirit, and hast given us forgiveness of all sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us your sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to you, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of your purity, the unerring keenness of your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the strength and light of my soul. In you I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve you by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against you. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for your light, and listen to your voice, and follow your gracious inspirations. I cling to you and give myself to you and ask you, by your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced feet of Jesus and looking at his five wounds, and trusting in his precious blood and adoring his opened side and stricken heart, I implore you, adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, to keep me in your grace that I may never sin against you. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, spirit of the Father and the Son to say to you always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for your servant is listening." Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
O Lord Jesus Christ who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul, the work of your grace and your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with your spirit. Amen.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Point of Entry

Point of Entry
taken by Valerie, ucumari photography
Some rights reserved

Well Said: Books and Sharks

I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, more than 20 years before the Kindle showed up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them.
Neil Gaiman in a talk about libraries

Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord: Making Heaven Present Everywhere

From previous years, but revised. Let's face it, this is a work in progress.

The Ascension of Christ
Salvador Dali, 1958

Traditionally this is called Ascension Thursday (because Pentecost Sunday is nine days later) but the many of the U.S. Bishops (and those of other places, I believe) have seen it as good to change the number of days that Christ considered necessary between his rising to Heaven and the Spirit's coming to the apostles in the Upper Room at Pentecost. They moved it to Sunday. It's more convenient that way, don't you know.

I have railed against this in the past and some rail against it now.

However, I am struck by one thing over all others.

Christ's ascension to Heaven signals the beginning of the Holy Spirit's age on Earth. Not a day goes by that I don't call the Holy Spirit to me, asking for wisdom, leaning hard on His peace and calm. I am so grateful for Him in my life.

I don't care when the Ascension happened. I am simply glad that it did.

For one thing I am always left a bit giggly at the image of the dumbstruck followers looking up where Jesus disappeared into the clouds. And the sudden appearance of the two men in white who asked why they were standing there looking at the sky. I imagine everyone was overawed by the events that had just occurred, not to mention the sudden appearance of angels, but I always feel I'd have been the smart-mouth who said, "Maybe this happens every day where you come from, but for us this is something new."

The Ascension of the Lord marks the beginning of something brand new.  I give thanks.

Our priest's homily a few years ago made it clear that I missed a vital point about the ascension. I stand corrected and gladly enlightened.
(paraphrasing like crazy)

Christ's ascent raises humankind as well. Jesus is not only consubstantial with the Father. He is also consubstantial with us. Wholly God. Wholly man.

He killed death so we would not have to fear it any longer. He ascends to Heaven to take us there as well.

Giotto di Bondone, Ascension of Christ, circa 1300.
Jesus seems almost to be breaking out of the top of the picture, but as he does so, he is not so much going away into heaven as making heaven present everywhere.
Jane Williams, Faces of Christ
I love that image. It looks as if Christ is opening a big package and that gift that will come in 9 days is the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Well Said: I have learned many things ...

I must confess that I have learned many things I never knew before ... just by writing.
St. Augustine
There's something about having to organize one's thoughts enough to write that sends them further than they'd have gone if everything just remained in one's mind. It is funny how that is. It is why keeping a journal, a blog, or writing letters (or emails) is so good for us. Like St. Augustine we learn things we never knew before.

Genesis Notes: Isaac's Resume

As I said last week, we tend to overlook Isaac because he's a fairly quiet, unassuming soul compared to the vivid personalities that come before and after him. And yet, God told his father, "I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him." That's huge. That's everything, in fact, for the Hebrew people. And for us. God saw his heart and worked with him just as with the more active members of the family.

Meeting of Isaac and Rebecca, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
Strengths and accomplishments:
  • He was the miracle child born to Sarah and Abraham when she was 90 years old and he was 100
  • He was the first descendent in fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham
  • He seems to have been a caring and consistent husband
  • He demonstrated great patience
Weaknesses and mistakes:
  • Under pressure, he tended to lie
  • In conflict he sought to avoid confrontation
Lessons from his life:
  • Patience often brings rewards
  • Both God's plans and his promises are larger than people
  • God keeps his promises. He remains faithful though we are often faithless
  • Playing favorites is sure to bring family conflict
Vital statistics:
  • Where: The area called the Negev, in the southern part of Palestine, between Kadesh and Shur (Genesis 20:1)
  • Occupation: Wealthy livestock owner
  • Relatives: Parents - Abraham and Sarah. Half brother - Ishmael. Wife: Rebekah. Sons - Jacob and Esau.
Key verse:
"Then God said, 'Yes, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.'" (Genesis 17:19)

Isaac's story is told in Genesis 17:15-35:29. He also is mentioned in Romans 9:7, 8; Hebrews 11:17-20; James 2:21-24.
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.

Worth a Thousand Words: Baking Bread

Baking Bread, Helen Allingham

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Our Nation, In Numbers: USA Facts

Where does the money come from?

Where does the money go?

What are the results?
Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, has put $10 million of his own money into discovering the answer to these questions about government spending.

The result is USAFacts, a site which has wonderfully easy graphics to help us make sense of where our money goes.

The best part is that they aren't pushing an agenda, except aiding understanding.
We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative and have no political agenda or commercial motive. We provide this information as a free public service and are committed to maintaining and expanding it in the future.

We rely exclusively on publicly available government data sources. We don’t make judgments or prescribe specific policies. Whether government money is spent wisely or not, whether our quality of life is improving or getting worse – that’s for you to decide. We hope to spur serious, reasoned, and informed debate on the purpose and functions of government. Such debate is vital to our democracy.
Spend some time browsing around. It's fascinating and surprising.

Lagniappe: Trying to negotiate with Beethoven...

Trying to negotiate with Beethoven was like trying to take a steak away from a hyena.
Robert Greenberg,
How to Listen to and Understand Great Music

Worth a Thousand Words: “Over a Balcony,” View of the Grand Canal, Venice

“Over a Balcony,” View of the Grand Canal, Venice;
Francis Hopkinson Smith
via Lines and Colors

Monday, May 22, 2017

Well Said: This Stalinist Path of History-Flattening and Monument-Erasure

On the dismantling of monuments, specifically four Confederate monuments in New Orleans:
Most people seem to need this debate to be more simple. Not only Ivy League professors and descendants of Confederate veterans, but also those who should know better. Maybe Americans’ deep-rooted Puritanism drives them to view every person as either glorified or damned.

And so we spiral down this Stalinist path of history-flattening and monument-erasure, one side waving a battle flag that Robert E. Lee himself renounced, the other insisting that every man who wore gray was little different than Leonardo DiCaprio’s caricature in “Django Unchained.” Americans long ago abandoned Lincoln’s admonition—malice toward none, charity for all—and in some important ways the U.S. is less united today than in 1866.

In a world of demons and angels, we can’t agree on who’s which. And we don’t have the charity in our hearts to admit most of us are somewhere in between.
Tony Woodlief, Charity for All? Not in Today’s Debates Over Civil War Memorials
You may read the entire editorial at the Wall Street Journal or at Lux Libertas.

As my husband said, "Tyrants are always the ones who erase history. Now we don't have an individual tyrant. It's been institutionalized."

In my own case, having just finished rereading A Tale of Two Cities, I was put in mind of the mob in the French revolution and Madame Defarge in particular. Not a drop of charity there for anyone.

Worth a Thousand Words: Prelude in C Sharp Minor

Prelude in C Sharp Minor by Edward B. Gordon

Friday, May 19, 2017

Well Said: Our inequalities become openings to love ...

People are equal in one sense only, but it's a decisive sense deeper than any simple equations of worth. ...

Our dignity is rooted in the God who made us. His love, shared in every parent's experience, is infinite and unique for each of us as individual persons - because each son and daughter is unrepeatable. Only God's love guarantees our worth. And therein lies our equality. Nothing else has God's permanence. In him, our inequalities become not cruelties of fate, but openings to love, support, and "complete" each other in his name.
Charles J. Chaput, Strangers in a Strange Land

Worth a Thousand Words: Girl in a red dress reading by a swimming pool

Girl in a red dress reading by a swimming pool (1887). Sir John Lavery (Irish, 1856-1941). 

Hey, I didn't know they had swimming pools in 1887.

Going out of town for a quick getaway to celebrate our anniversary. I won't be as delightfully dressed as the Girl in a Red Dress, but I could see myself lounging and reading while others swim.

My Christopher Closeup Interview Airs Sunday on Sirius-XM and Relevant Radio

I was so honored when Tony Rossi from The Christophers asked to interview me about my new book, Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life.

First of all, because I respect The Christophers so much. Their motto, "It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness," is how I try to live. They've been promoting this mindset for a very long time.

Secondly, because I have so much fun talking to Tony. He is a first-rate interviewer and asks such interesting questions, many of which never would have occurred to me in the first place. And he's read the book — I could tell precisely because of the questions he asked.

We got in some extra talking time so my interview will air in two parts.

Part 1 of the interview will air this Sunday:
  • Sirius-XM’s The Catholic Channel (129) at 6:00 am and 10:30 am (Central time)
  • Relevant Radio network at 3:30 pm (Central time)
Tune in and get the inside scoop on Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life ... and me!

33 Years of Wedded Bliss

We can tell what doesn't work in marriages. So often today people ask, "Who will make me happy?" But what we should ask is, "Who will I love so much that I will sacrifice myself to make them happy?"
Father Roch Kereszty

It's our wedding anniversary today and although our lives have their fair share of challenge at the moment, it has done nothing to our marriage but draw us closer together.

That makes all the years of working out how to best love and serve each other worth it. I'm sure we'll look back on this time and find it has done nothing but add to our deep love and respect for each other.

Dear, even-tempered Tom is truly my soul mate. I'm so very lucky that he loves me as much as I love him. He has taught me so much over the years about music, about thinking, about humor, about originality, about kindness and consideration. Not because he actively taught me but just by being around him. That in itself tells you a lot about the sort of person Tom is.

It's wonderful having spent 33 years with someone. You know each other's references (jokes become real one-liners), you understand each other's moods, and it is a deep, restful relationship that is not without delightful times of surprise and passion.