Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Off to Florida!

We're actually driving and not flying but I just love this old poster. My nephew is getting married next weekend and Tom and I are taking the opportunity for one of our favorite activities — a road trip!

Other than the October saint litany or feast day posts,  I'll be off the air until next week. See you then!

The Promenade

The Promenade by Richard Gower
via my daily art display

The thing that keeps life romantic and full of fiery possibilities

Life is always a novel. ... Our existence is still a story. ...

But in order that life should be a story or romance to us, it is necessary that a great part of it, at any rate, should be settled for us without our permission. If we wish life to be a system, this may be a nuisance; but if we wish it to be a drama, it is an essential.... The thing which keeps life romantic and full of fiery possibilities is the existence of these great plain limitations which force all of us to meet the things we do not like or do not expect. ... Of all these great limitations and frameworks which fashion and create the poetry and variety of life, the family is the most definite and important.
G.K. Chesterton, Heretics

The Litany of the Counsel of the Saints II

Magnificat usually has this wonderful litany in the month leading up to All Saints' Day. The last time I did this was in 2013, which means it is way overdue to divide it up with a few every day  for our reflections. There will be a posting of part of this litany throughout October.
This litany is a meditation on what some of the saints have spoken or written. As we listen to these saints, we pray for a deeper personal participation in their sanctity. This litany represents only a small sampling of the vast communion of the saints. Feel free to add your favorites to it. One option is to sing the litany and its response.

R. (Saint's name), pray for us

Saint John the Baptist: "Jesus must increase; I must decrease." R

Saint Peter: "Lord, you know that I love you." R

Saint Paul: "We had accepted within ourselves the sentence of death, that we might trust not in ourselves but in God who raises the dead." R
The Beheading of Saint Paul by Enrique Simonet, 1887


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Eye opening. And heart breaking. A must-listen.

 The Sinister Plot of the Trangender Movement

Today’s children face many new adversities that past generations could never have imagined. Filmmaker, Don Johnson sits down to discuss his new film Dysconnected, and the truth behind this radical movement that is being pushed on our children.

We've seen a number of letters in the Wall Street Journal lately from women who are so happy that they weren't born recently enough to have their strong tom-boy tendencies seen as being a gender problem. That made me interested in listening to this piece which I highly recommend.

 You can read the transcript at Catholic Answers Focus and find the link to the documentary there also.

The Girls

The Girls by Shen Ming Chun
via my daily art display

Climb down a chimney into any house at random, and get on as well as possible with the people inside.

Of course the family is a good institution because it is uncongenial. It is wholesome precisely because it contains so many divergencies and varieties. It is, as the sentimentalists say, like a little kingdom, and, like most other little kingdoms, is generally in a state of something resembling anarchy. ...

The best way that a man could test his readiness to encounter the common variety of mankind would be to climb down a chimney into any house at random, and get on as well as possible with the people inside. And that is essentially what each one of us did on the day he was born.
G.K. Chesterton, Heretics

Monday, October 3, 2022

We have to love our neighbor because he is there.

We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbor. ... That is why the old religions and the old scriptural language showed so sharp a wisdom when they spoke, not of one's duty towards humanity, but one's duty towards one's neighbor. The duty towards humanity may often take the form of some choice which is personal or even pleasurable. ... But we have to love our neighbor because he is there — a much more alarming reason for a much more serious operation. He is the sample of humanity which is actually given us.
G.K. Chesterton, Heretics,
On Certain Modern Writers and the Institution of the Family
I have seen the first line of quote interpreted, often by realtors, as meaning that our neighbors are a precious gift. And they are, but not in the sweetly sentimental way that the realtors put forward. We may, in fact, like our neighbors. But often our neighbors are a source of great trial. They are given to us by God in order to try us, to test us, to teach us.

What is equally sobering is we are given to them, as their neighbors, for the very same reason.

A bowl of oranges and one lemon

Still life by Oscar Ghiglia, early 1900s.
Via J.R.'s Art Place


The Litany of the Counsel of the Saints I

Magnificat usually has this wonderful litany in the month leading up to All Saints' Day. The last time I did this was in 2013, which means it is way overdue to divide it up with a few every day  for our reflections. There will be a posting of part of this litany throughout October.
This litany is a meditation on what some of the saints have spoken or written. As we listen to these saints, we pray for a deeper personal participation in their sanctity. This litany represents only a small sampling of the vast communion of the saints. Feel free to add your favorites to it. One option is to sing the litany and its response.

R. (Saint's name), pray for us

Holy Mary, Mother of God: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." R

Saint Gabriel the Archangel: "Hail favored one! The Lord is with you." R

Saint Joseph: [pause in reverent silence] R
Saint Joseph


Sunday, October 2, 2022

Feast of the Guardian Angels

Another of my favorite feast days. 

Devotion to the Guardian Angels goes back to the beginnings of Christianity. Pope Clement X proclaimed the feast a universal celebration in the seventeenth century. The Guardian Angels serve as the messengers of God. The Almighty has allocated a Guardian Angel to each one of us for our protection and for the good of our apostolate...

We have to deal with our Guardian Angels in a familiar way, while at the same time recognizing their superior nature and grace. Though less palpable in their presence than human friends are, their efficacy for our benefit is far greater. Their counsel and suggestions come from God, and penetrate more deeply than any human voice. To reiterate, their capacity for hearing and understanding us is much superior even to that of our most faithful human friend, since their attendance at our side is continuous; they can enter more deeply into our intentions, desires and petitions than can any human being, since angels can reach our imagination directly without recourse to the comprehension of words. They are able to incite images, provoke memories, and make impressions in order to give us direction.

As devoted as I am to the Archangels, I am especially fond of my Guardian Angel. He is always there when I need him and has a wicked sense of humor. Perhaps wicked is not the right word. He must, therefore, have an angelic sense of humor! This is one of my favorite feast days.

For my personal angel stories, as well as some general information, you can read more here, here, and here.

Prayer to One's Guardian Angel

Dear Angel,
in his goodness God gave you to me to
guide, protect and enlighten me,
and to being me back to the right way when I go astray.
Encourage me when I am disheartened,
and instruct me when I err in my judgment.
Help me to become more Christlike,
and so some day to be accepted into
the company of Angels and Saints in heaven.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Feast Day of St. Therese of Lisieux: The Strong Woman Called the "Little Flower"

What broke open connecting with St. Therese for me? A good translation and a second book. I wrote about it for Patheos several years ago and Therese's feast day seems a good time to share it here.

Brede, No Treacle*: St. Therese and Rumer Godden

Canonized less than thirty years after her death, Thérèse's only book, The Story of a Soul, was enough to get her named a saint, and more recently a Doctor of the Church. Thérèse is the youngest person to be so named and only the third woman to receive this honor.

This all is quite praiseworthy. What is it, then, about this saint that divides Catholics sharply into two camps: those who love her unreservedly and those who are pointedly indifferent when her name is mentioned?

In a nutshell, it is Thérèse's own words that lead many to distastefully associate her with saccharin piety. Her autobiography was written as a young girl to her sister in the flowery, sentimental French style of the late 19th century. Older translations, if anything, heighten the over-wrought style. The other problem is the subject matter: early childhood devotion to Jesus, testimony about her relationship with Jesus, and Thérèse's struggles in the convent to do small things for Christ. Even talented writers might struggle to communicate these concepts well, much less a young woman with limited writing experience.

I read The Story of a Soul long ago because I was urged to do so by many devotees of "The Little Flower," as she is called. Wishing to politely turn off those suggestions, I read the book as fast as possible. Naturally, I got little from it.

The key, as I discovered recently, is not only to read St. Thérèse with attention, but to have a translation that cuts through her "treacle." Robert Edmonson's translation from Paraclete Press does precisely that. Thérèse's trademark piety, sincerity, and liveliness cannot be denied, but this translation makes it easier to see beneath her superficial-seeming surface to the complex person underneath. She emerges as tough, uncompromising, and heroic with a strong core of common sense.
The second experience that I had concerns the priests. Never having lived close to them, I couldn't understand the principal goal of the Carmelite reform [to pray for priests]. To pray for sinners delighted me, but to pray for the souls of priests, whom I thought of as purer than crystal, seemed astonishing to me. ...

For a month I lived with many holy priests, and I saw that if their sublime dignity raises them above the Angels, they are nonetheless weak and fragile men . ... If holy priests whom Jesus calls in the Gospel "the salt of the earth" show in their behavior that they have an extreme need of prayers, what can one say about the ones who are lukewarm? Didn't Jesus add, "But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?" [Mt 5:13]
Her observation sadly resonates all too well with the modern reader. The 15-year-old Thérèse is revealed as someone who faces the truth and applies the only action she can take, which is prayer.

Thérèse also reveals her extreme struggles to love her neighbors in the convent, often accompanied by a lively sense of the ridiculous. There is the example of her determination to assist an elderly Sister down a long hallway after dinner, which begins with the aged woman shaking her hourglass at Thérèse to get her attention. This contains so much truth, conveyed with such good humor, that we can see the Sister's personality exactly because we know people just like her. Thérèse is never afraid to laugh at herself either.
... I've made a sort of speech about charity that must have tired you out reading it. Forgive me, beloved Mother, and remember that right now the nurses are practicing on my behalf what I've just written. They're not afraid to go two miles when twenty steps would suffice. So I've been able to observe charity in action! ...

When I begin to take up my pen, here's a good Sister who passes near me, a pitchfork over her shoulder. She thinks she's entertaining me by chatting with me a little. Hay, ducks, hens, a doctor's visit, everything's on the table. To tell you the truth, that doesn't last long, but there's more than one good, charitable Sister, and suddenly another hay cutter drops some flowers in my lap, thinking that perhaps she'll inspire some poetic ideas in me. Not seeking out flowers right then, I would prefer that they remain attached to their stems.
It has become fashionable to discount St. Thérèse's spiritual struggles by filtering them through modern perspectives. Biographers look at the girl whose mother died when she was very small, at her "abandonment" by her older sisters as they one by one entered the convent, at her early entry into the cloister. They speak of neuroses and a stifled personality by living in the unrealistic atmosphere of the convent.

It's better to take Thérèse at her word. Many people suffered similar life circumstances and worse, but were never suffused with the love of God, or the wisdom, that Thérèse relates.

An antidote to the heaping of modern perspectives onto Thérèse's insights might be to read one of the finest books ever written about convent life. In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden is fictional but it portrays cloistered convent life in such a real, luminous way that it could be mistaken for an autobiography.

Philippa Talbot, a successful career woman in her 40s, leaves London to join a cloistered Benedictine community. Once she enters, the narrative never leaves that setting, yet the story is riveting. There are mysteries and minor intrigues, but the focus is on the characters, who are fully realized with flaws and virtues alike. Readers soon realize that life among the religious is no easier path; an enclosed community requires more Christian development from the souls within, not less.

Rumer Godden lived at the gatehouse of an English enclosed community for three years while writing In This House of Brede, during which time she converted to Catholicism, and eventually became a Benedictine Oblate. The deep understanding that comes from real exposure to the life infuses the novel with such authenticity that the book is still recommended by actual cloistered religious to those who wonder what such life can be like.

Godden had a talent for looking into the heart of what makes us truly human, both good and bad. In holding up her characters' flaws, she holds up a mirror into which we blush to look, even when the flaws seem relatively minor.
... Odd, she [Philippa] had thought, I never seriously visualized coming out of Brede again; it had not occurred to her, but in those minutes it occurred painfully. She could have blushed to think how once she had taken it for granted that, if she made enough effort—steeled herself—it would be settled. "I know," Dame Clare said afterwards. "I was as confident. Once upon a time I even thought God had taste, choosing me!"

Dame Perpetua had been more blunt. "Weren't you surprised that God should have chosen you?" a young woman reporter, writing a piece on vocations, had asked her. "Yes," Dame Perpetua had answered, "but not nearly as surprised that he should have chosen some of the others—but then God's not as fastidious as we are."
Rumer Godden is the talented writer who provides perspective for the cloistered life that Thérèse experienced. Her insights into the rich, full life that can be had in the convent are the final antidote for those who believe otherwise.

I am no longer indifferent to St. Thérèse. She has become a solid friend who has provided good advice for overcoming my faults and loving my neighbors better. Thanks to Robert Edmonson and Rumer Godden, there are new lessons to be learned both for those who are devoted to St. Thérèse and those who are indifferent.

Treacle = British for molasses (sort of)

Wikipedia: The most common forms of treacle are the pale syrup that is also known as golden syrup and the darker syrup that is usually referred to as dark treacle or black treacle. Dark treacle has a distinctively strong flavour, slightly bitter, and a richer colour than golden syrup,[3] yet not as dark as molasses.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Feast Day of St. Jerome, The Thunderer

Niccolò Antonio Colantonio, showing St. Jerome's removal of a thorn from a lion's paw. Source.
I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: Search the Scriptures, and Seek and you shall find. Christ will not say to me what he said to the Jews: You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God. For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.
Read more at Crossroads Initiative
I do not have that "friendly feeling" with St. Jerome that I have with many other saints. However, I do love the fact that he was well known to be cantankerous and had to fight his temper constantly. It gives me that fellow feeling of someone who has to fight the same failings I do. I also highly respect him for his supreme love of Scripture as the path to God. (Protestants should enjoy this Church Father's works for that very reason.)

This might be the best short summary I've ever seen of St. Jerome's life, and, specifically, why he is such a good patron saint for us bloggers.
He was a great scholar. He knew many languages. He fact-checked against original sources. He supported and was supported by fearless, scholarly and religious women. He successfully fought against the world, the flesh and the Devil.

And dang, did he understand flamewars.
Here is a wonderful poem about St. Jerome which is both accurate and hilarious. My favorite sort of poem, in fact. If you read this out loud you will get the most benefit from it.
From "Times Three" by Phyllis McGinley

God’s angry man, His crotchety scholar
Was Saint Jerome,
The great name-caller
Who cared not a dime
For the laws of Libel
And in his spare time
Translated the Bible.
Quick to disparage
All joys but learning
Jerome thought marriage
Better than burning;
But didn’t like woman’s
Painted cheeks;
Didn’t like Romans,
Didn’t like Greeks,
Hated Pagans
For their Pagan ways,
Yet doted on Cicero all of his days.

A born reformer, cross and gifted,
He scolded mankind
Sterner than Swift did;
Worked to save
The world from the heathen;
Fled to a cave
For peace to breathe in,
Promptly wherewith
For miles around
He filled the air with
Fury and sound.
In a mighty prose
For Almighty ends,
He thrust at his foes,
Quarreled with his friends,
And served his Master,
Though with complaint.
He wasn’t a plaster sort of a saint.

But he swelled men’s minds
With a Christian leaven.
It takes all kinds
To make a heaven.
Read a summary of St. Jerome's life and work at Catholic Culture.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Feast of the Archangels

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.