Thursday, June 13, 2024

Portrait of Rosalind Russell

Portrait of Rosalind Russell. Nicolai Fechin (Russian-American, 1881-1955).
Oil on canvas. Acquired directly from the artist by Mary Pickford.
Via Books and Art

Great First Lines: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.
Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Great first lines from a mystery/horror novel that I haven't read in way too long a time.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Fukagawa Susaki and Jūmantsubo

Hiroshige (1797–1858), One Hundred Famous Views of Edo #107,
"Fukagawa Susaki and Jūmantsubo"
Via Wikipedia
I love the perspective given with the bird of prey descending in the foreground while we look past it to the landscape and defining mountain beyond.

Notes on Mark: Forgiveness is Active

Miracle of "healing the paralytic in Capernaum"

MARK 2:7

The story of the paralyzed man and his friends which we looked at last time, has a central issue being considered. The scribes ask how Jesus can forgive sins when only God can forgive. To do so is really controversial. It is saying that Jesus is God.

This also brings us to our own understanding. What is forgiveness? What does it mean to truly forgive someone?
Forgiveness, in the full New Testament sense of the term is an act and not an attitude. It is the active and embodied repairing of a broken relationship, even in the face of opposition, violence, or indifference. When a relationship is severed, each party should, in justice, do his part to reestablish the bond. Forgiveness—which of necessity transcends justice— is the bearing of the other person's burden, moving toward her even when she refuses to move an inch toward you. There is something relentless, even aggressive, about forgiveness, since it amounts to a refusal ever to give up on a relationship.
Gospel of Mark (Word on Fire), Bishop Barron commentary
Now we see why it is so startling for Jesus to forgive sin as if he were God (we know that now but they didn't at the time). He's restoring a relationship on behalf of God. It would be really presumptuous if he weren't actually God.

I really like the point about forgiveness being aggressive because it means refusing to give up on a relationship. I need to remember that myself. Forgiveness is active.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Julie and Scott are having no luck fishing. If only they could hear that guy on the shore who is yelling something that seems important...

 In Episode 333 of A Good Story is Hard to Find we discuss St. Peter: Flawed, Forgiven, and Faithful: Walking with Peter from Galilee to Rome by Stephen J. Binz.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

As the world fell, young Furiosa is snatched from the Green Place of Many Mothers and falls into the hands of a great Biker Horde led by the Warlord Dementus. Sweeping through the Wasteland they come across the Citadel presided over by The Immortan Joe. While the two Tyrants war for dominance, Furiosa must survive many trials as she puts together the means to find her way home.

I put the general description above but, honestly, if you saw Mad Max: Fury Road then you've already got the idea. And if you didn't, just move along - nothing to see here. We loved Fury Road so when it got good reviews we knew we wanted to see it in the hteater. Watching this on the big screen reminded us of what a wonderfully immersive experience the movie theater is. We're definitely going to try to actually go to the movies more often.

This was George Miller doing what he does best — creating Myth (with a capital "M") as he tells the story of a young girl cast into the middle of apocalyptic societies in the vast Wasteland. This could be Gulliver's Travels, the Odyssey or Iliad. The characters are archetypal, the societies encountered each tell us something of basic humanity, the themes are simple but powerful, and the adventure keeps pulling us along. I appreciated the supporting visual touches like the art included on the food convoy tank. Any people wants to tell their story, how great they are, and art is so often the way to do it — even in a society as twisted as The Citadel.

As my husband said, it is amazing how a good story told with great pacing and classic framing/images can make 2-1/2 hours fly by despite the gruesome violence.

I was grateful to Miller for telegraphing the violence and almost never dwelling for long on any of it. I was also fascinated at how he evoked Fury Road which is forward in the future but managed to one-up himself in the prototypes of the adventures and stunts that we already have seen. It isn't omnipresent. We hadn't seen Fury Road since it came out but there were echoes which made us say, "Oh that's right, this happened ..."

A good time was had by all and now I want to watch Fury Road again.


Magnolias, Alfred Parsons

Monday, June 10, 2024

Book Sample — Listening for His Voice

 From my new book, Stay By Me, Dear Friend. Prayer is a conversation and that means listening as well as speaking. These are the first few reflections from fthe first section — Listening for His Voice. It's launching us into new intimacy.


Jesus at My Side 

My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 
Gospel of John 10:27 

As you can see with the shepherd beside me, he is teaching the lamb his voice as he carries it in his arms. All of them take turns with the shepherd as he holds them close and speaks to them personally. When such care is given and received, the shepherd becomes their intimate provider and protector, establishing a relationship of trust with each one individually. 
Erin Pavlicek, The Lesson of an Irish Shepherd 
Jesus’ listeners would have had some of this knowledge innately when he spoke of being a shepherd and we being his flock. Thinking of him teaching the lamb to know his voice makes me melt a little. The more I take the time to listen, the more he carries me, the deeper my trust and love grow. 

Here is the firm foundation upon which our daily prayers will grow. How can we hear Jesus? 

Remain with me the whole day, Lord.

Stay by Me, ... 

 Imagine that this Lord himself is at your side and see how lovingly and how humbly He is teaching you—and, believe me, you should stay with so good a friend for as long as you can before you leave him. If you become accustomed to having him at your side, and if he sees that you love him to be there and are always trying to please him, you will never be able, as we put it, to send him away, nor will he ever fail you. He will help you in all your trials and you will have him everywhere. Do you think it is a small thing to have such a Friend as that beside you? 
Saint Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection 
Saint Teresa wrote The Way of Perfection as a prayer aid for the nuns in her convent. This is the example that made me realize that imagining Jesus at your side wasn’t some kind of New Age idea. It is the fruit of St. Teresa’s lived experience with Jesus. 

 Remain with me the whole day, Lord. 


... Dear Friend 
 Imagine you see Jesus sitting close to you. In doing this you are putting your imagination at the service of your faith. Jesus isn’t here in the way you are imagining him, but he certainly is here and your imagination helps to make you aware of this. Now speak to Jesus … If no one is around, speak out in a soft voice … 

Listen to what Jesus says to you in reply or what you imagine him to say … 

Imagine that Jesus is by your side all through the day. Speak with him frequently in the midst of your occupations. Sometimes all you will be able to do is glance at him, communicate with him without words. 
Anthony de Mello, Sadhana — A Way to God 
 Here’s the practical application of Theresa of Avila’s advice about growing close to Jesus. When the priest on the retreat gave me this to read, I had no idea it was grounded in age-old practice. All I knew was that it worked. It certainly keeps my conversations down to earth. 

Remain with me the whole day, Lord.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

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 grace 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 at hand. It is ready, for whilst Christ slept in the sepulcher she kept watch in the expectation of his resurrection, just like the spouse in the Canticle of Canticles.

As we consider the splendor 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 7, 2024

Poplars in the Thames Valley

Poplars in the Thames Valley, Alfred Parsons

Litany of the Sacred Heart

Here is the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

The U.S. bishops have called on all Catholics to pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart “as an act of reparation for the blasphemies against our Lord we see in our culture today.” 

It is prayed today on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a day when the L.A. Dodgers are honoring the anti-Catholic Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Sadly, this is part of the culture, part of the air we breathe.
And I said, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)
Like Isaiah we are part of an unclean culture. We also know who our King is, the Lord of hosts — and we must make reparation.

The USCCB has a printable version that you can also download as a pdf. This is a version I've had posted for years.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Response: have mercy on us

Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father,
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mother,
Heart of Jesus, substantially united to the Word of God,
Heart of Jesus, of Infinite Majesty,
Heart of Jesus, Sacred Temple of God,
Heart of Jesus, Tabernacle of the Most High,
Heart of Jesus, House of God and Gate of Heaven,
Heart of Jesus, burning furnace of charity,
Heart of Jesus, abode of justice and love,
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love,
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise,
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts,
Heart of Jesus, in Whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
Heart of Jesus, in Whom dwells the fullness of divinity,
Heart of Jesus, in Whom the Father was well pleased,
Heart of Jesus, of Whose fullness we have all received,
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills,
Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful,
Heart of Jesus, enriching all who invoke you,
Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness,
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins,
Heart of Jesus, loaded down with opprobrium,
Heart of Jesus, obedient to death,
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance,
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation,
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection,
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation,
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins,
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in you,
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in you,
Heart of Jesus, delight of all the Saints,

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
R. Make our hearts like to yours.

Let us pray:

Almighty and eternal God, look upon the Heart of Your most beloved Son and upon the praises and satisfaction which He offers You in the name of sinners; and to those who implore Your mercy, in Your great goodness, grant forgiveness in the name of the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You forever and ever.


Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

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
Originally from an article on Aquinas and More, link dead

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.

Here's a good history and background on the Solemnity from The Pillar.

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 have also posted the Litany of the Sacred Heart which 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. 

Thursday, June 6, 2024

MY NEW BOOK! Stay With Me, Dear Friend: In Jesus' Presence Through the Day

How would it feel to be such good friends with Jesus that we could bring up anything and everything — the worries no matter how small, the “wins,” the funny bits, everything strewn through our day? This book is about how to listen for Jesus’ voice and hear it every day as we go about our normal lives. The reflections and prayer prompts in this devotional help you to stay aware of Jesus’ presence while drawing closer in friendship and love.

The painting on the cover shows comfortable, relaxed conversation with Jesus. That's the goal of using these reflections and prayer prompts. They follow an idea shown to me when I went on a silent retreat a couple of years ago. What if Jesus is sitting in the chair next to me? How would I talk with him? Pretty soon it expanded my prayer time — we were chatting familiarly when I cooked dinner, drove to the post office, and walking the dog. In other words, all through the day.

I took to the technique right away, but once I was off the retreat I began seeing all sorts of quotes from the saints that showed this wasn't a new technique at all. Being me, I began collecting those prompts to help me keep it close and personal every day. In no time at all I had filled four small notebooks. 

I wanted everything easier to use and so here's the book I wished for. 

I hope this brings you closer too.

Available on Amazon. Get it here!

I'll be sharing some of the reflections here in the days to come. 

If you like the book, please review it on Amazon, Goodreads,
or wherever else you hang out on the internet!