Monday, May 21, 2018

Lagniappe: Sinking as a hedonist into novels

My mother read secondarily for information; she sank as a hedonist into novels. She read Dickens in the spirit in which she would have eloped with him.
Eudora Welty
Yes. Also Tolkien. And Dante. And Agatha Christie.

Clearly I've got a problem.

Worth a Thousand Words: Morning Bathing

Morning Bathing, Remo Savisaar

The Journey Home — My Interview

I had the rare privilege and pleasure of speaking with Marcus Grodi about my conversion story. It airs on The Journey Home show today.
  • Mon. May. 21 at 7:00 PM
  • Tue. May. 22 at 12:00 AM
  • Thu. May. 24 at 1:00 PM
You can also catch it on YouTube and as a podcast. It may show up in those places a bit later than the show airs. I'll update this spot once I've got the scoop.

After recording, everyone in the office gets together for lunch ... with lots of great stories, of course!

Scott produces and directs the show. He also makes sure you get picked up at the airport and have a delicious meal when you arrive. His hospitality and conversation were really wonderful and meeting him (and his wife!) was one of the great pleasures of the trip.

Ryan Dellacrosse (Fuzati, in Houston) was the other guest being taped that day. I loved hearing his story and getting to meet this energetic guy who has devoted his considerable business knowledge to helping Catholic companies market themselves better.

First thing Monday morning, before recording, you get it started right. With Mass, of course, just as you'd expect!

On the way into the church. 

Surprises abound on the way to Zanesville! Guess what this company did?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pentecost: The Coming of the Holy Spirit

The coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was not an isolated event in the Church's life. The Paraclete sanctifies it continually as He also sanctifies every soul. This He does through all the innumerable inspirations which are all the attractions, motions, rebukes and interior compunctions, lights and intuitions which God works in us. So He strengthens our heart with his blessings, with his care and fatherly love, so as to arouse us, move us, impel us and draw us to holy virtues, to heavenly love, to good resolutions: in short, to all that leads us to our eternal life. (St. Francis de Sales) His action in the soul is gentle and mild ... He comes to save, to cure, to enlighten. (St. Cyril of Jerusalem)
Our priest said once in a scripture study class that God loves us so much that He went to the trouble of plugging a translator right into our hearts. If we take the time and trouble to listen for that whisper, we hear the Holy Spirit there within us ... and He is there to help us speak to God in turn. What a fantastic image and it is one that I think of often. Talk about going the extra mile! God has done everything that one could imagine to help us get the point, to communicate, to talk to Him and be in relationship with Him.

I also like the way that same point was said by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, "the only person allowed to preach to the Pope." He's served John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis in that capacity.
When the Holy Spirit takes possession of a heart, a change comes about. If before there was a "secret rancor against God" in the depths of a man's heart now the Spirit comes to him from God and attests that God is truly favorable and benign, that he is his ally and not his enemy. He opens his eyes to all that God has been capable of doing for him and to the fact that he did not spare his only Son for him. The Spirit puts "God's love" into man's heart (see Rom 5:5). In this way he makes him a new man who loves God and who willingly does what God asks of him. God, in fact, no longer limits himself to telling man what he should do or not do, but he himself does it with him and in him. The new law, the Spirit, is much more than an indication of a will; it is an action, a living and active principle. The new law is new life. That is why it is more often called grace than law: "You are not under law but under grace" (Rom 6:14).
Life in Christ: A Spiritual Commentary on the Letter to the Romans
Amen ... I can testify to that!

 Pentecost -- The Cry of Release from Meditations on the Passion
Under copyright by Iain McKillip and used by permission

Saturday, May 19, 2018

34 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 34 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.

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 9

Oldest of all novenas, this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.
This is the last day of the novena and tomorrow is Pentecost!

Netherlandish Master, The Spirit, c. 1500.

(Saturday, Vigil of Pentecost)
When the soul is docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, it becomes that good tree which is known by its fruits. These fruits enrich the Christian's life and are manifestations of the glory of God: By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, Jesus says at the Last Supper (John 15:8).
Prayer: The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Thou, on those who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
In thy sevenfold gifts, descend:
Give them comfort when they die;
Give them life with thee on high;
Give them joy which never ends. Amen.

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
The gifts of the Holy Spirit perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Spirit. These Fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.

Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Your heavenly fruits, Your charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Your inspiration may merit to be united eternally with You in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Friday, May 18, 2018

Filmspotting - Lord of the Rings 15th Anniversary episode

Filmspotting's latest episode is devoted to the Lord of the Rings film trilogy to mark the 15 year anniversary of the last film coming out.

It is fascinating because one host has watched the films before and loves the book, while the other watched only the first film when they came out and never read the book. Their conversation is really interesting.

Well Said: The accursed inventions that are ruining everything

Meanwhile, the sworn bookseller of the university, Master Andry Musnier, was inclining his ear to the furrier of the king's robes, Master Gilles Lecornu.

"I tell you, sir, that the end of the world has come. No one has ever beheld such outbreaks among the students! It is the accursed inventions of this century that are ruining everything,—artilleries, bombards, and, above all, printing, that other German pest. No more manuscripts, no more books! printing will kill bookselling. It is the end of the world that is drawing nigh."

"I see that plainly, from the progress of velvet stuffs," said the fur–merchant.
Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
I always love seeing the "current" complaints of our time show up in times long past.

Worth a Thousand Words: Flames

Flames, Uemura Shoen

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 8

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

Ottonian Master Pentecost, C. 1030-40

(Friday, 7th Week of Easter)
The gift of wisdom gives us a loving, penetrating faith, and a clarity and understanding of the unfathomable mystery of God which we never thought possible. It can have to do with the presence and nearness of God, or the Real Presence of Christ in the tabernacle, which produce an extraordinary happiness. ...

The more usual thing, however, will be to find God in everyday life, with no special effects but the the intimate certainty that God watches over us, sees what we are doing, cares for us as for his children, at work or at home. The Holy Spirit teaches us that if we are faithful to his grace, our everyday affairs are the normal way to God, there we serve him in this life and prepare ourselves to contemplate him in Heaven for all eternity.

Prayer: The Gift of Wisdom

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray!

The Gift of Wisdom
Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all the other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written "all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands." It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Saviour: "Take up thy cross and follow me, for my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all the passing joys and satisfactions of earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Lagniappe: Lazarus and David Copperfield

One Sunday night my mother reads to Peggotty and me in there, that Lazarus was raised up from the dead. And I am so frightened that they are obliged to take me out of bed, and show me the quiet churchyard out of the bedroom window, with the dead alllying in their graves at rest, below the solemn moon.
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
It never would have occurred to me to think about the story of Lazarus as terrifying children. I can see it though. The walking dead ... not a comforting idea without deeper context.

Worth a Thousand Words: Tankard

Tankard, 1574-75, The Clark

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 7

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

PETRUS de Raimbaucourt, The Descent of the Spirit, 1323

(Thursday, 7th Week of Easter)
There are many moments when we could stray from the path which leads to God. There are many side tracks we could wander down. But God has reassured us with these words: I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you (Ps. 32:8). The Holy Spirit is our best Adviser, our best teacher, our best Guide. Our Lord's promise to his Apostles for when they might find themselves in very difficult situations, is very heartening: When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Matt. 10:19-20). They were to have the special assistance of the Holy Spirit as would Christians through the centuries when placed in similar circumstances. ...

The gift of counsel presupposes that we have used all the other means necessary to act prudently: to obtain the necessary data; to foresee the possible consequences of our actions, to learn from the experience of similar situations in the past, to ask advice when the moment comes. this is natural prudence which is then reinforced by grace. Along with supernatural prudence we receive this gift of counsel which allows us to make a sure and quick decision regarding the means to be used, or the reply to be given, or the way to be followed. ...
Prayer: The Gift of Counsel

Heal our wounds -- our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away!

The Gift of Counsel
The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants, and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. "Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth."

Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Your holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Your commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Worth a Thousand Words: Cats on a Red Cloth

Franz Marc, Cats on a Red Cloth
via Arts Everyday Living

Well Said: I loved the Church for Christ made visible.

I loved the Church for Christ made visible. Not for itself, because it was so often a scandal to me. Romano Guardini said the Church is the Cross on which Christ was crucified; one could not separate Christ from His Cross, and one must live in a state of permanent dissatisfaction with the Church.
Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness
That is what we really must remember. We will often be dissatisfied with the Church or the people associated with her. But with proper perspective we can love her at the same time as we are scandalized.

Oops! We join the Novena to the Holy Spirit in progress.

I completely forgot that I should have begun the Novena to the Holy Spirit the day after the Ascension. Nine days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost is perfect for a novena, which is where the word comes from - nine. The apostles obediently prayed with Mary in the Upper Room during that time, not knowing what they were praying for ... but receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

It is these gifts for which we pray during this novena. My apologies as we join the novena halfway through. I've posted all the prayers on the proper days so you can catch up (as I am doing). This link has them all in order (backwards!).

These gifts are worth praying for and this novena is still the only one officially  prescribed by the Church. So it is worth catching up on!

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 6

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

Sacramentaire Pentecote, Illustration de la Bible de Jérusalem

(Wednesday, 7th Week of Easter)
The gift of understanding enables us to grasp the deeper meaning of the Scriptures, the life of grace, the presence of Christ in each sacrament, and in a real substantial way in the Blessed Eucharist. It gives us, as it were, an instinct for what is supernatural in the world. For the eyes of one of Christ's faithful, illumined by the Holy Spirit, there is a whole new universe to be discovered. The mysteries of the Most Blessed trinity, the Incarnation, the Redemption, and the church become living realities affecting the day-to-day life of the Christian. They have a decisive influence on his work, on his family life and friendships. Prayer becomes deeper and easier.
Prayer: The Gift of Understanding

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay,
All his good is turned to ill.

The Gift of Understanding
Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Spirit, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion BY faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to "walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God."

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Your Light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of You, Holy Spirit and the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Well Said: You must stick by the work entrusted to you and the task you have undertaken

I am shocked that you are so upset by all these routine scandals that you prefer to spend your life in silence rather than to stay in the duties entrusted to you.

Where will your blessed perseverance be if your patience fails? Remember the apostle who said: “All who want to live piously in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution”. Endurance exists not only in confessing the name of Christ by sword and fire and various punishments. But differences in customs, insults of the disobedient and barbs of wicked tongues and various temptations are also included in this kind of persecution.

There is not a single occupation that is without its dangers. Who will guide the ship if the pilot quits his post? Who will guard against wolves if the shepherd does not watch? Or who will drive away the robber if the watchman sleeps? You must stick by the work entrusted to you and the task you have undertaken. You must hate the sins, not the people. Even though tribulation brings us more than we can endure, let us not be afraid as if we were resisting with our own strength. We must pray with the apostle that God give us “the way out with the temptation,” that we may be able to withstand, for Christ is both our courage and our counsel, "without him we can do nothing" and "with him we can do all things."
St. Braulio (d. 650) in a letter
to his brother who wanted to resign being abbot,
via The Voices of the Saints: A Year of Readings by Bert Ghezzi
This quote was sprinkled with references to scriptural passages in parentheses which I assumed were added by Bert Ghezzi and not St. Braulio. If I got that wrong I apologize but it was insanely distracting when reading this powerful letter.

It could have been written to us today. We forget that we aren't the only ones who have felt buffeted by insults, misunderstandings, and temptations when trying to live our faith.

Worth a Thousand Words: Spring in Paris

Camille Pissarro, Place du Theatre Français, Spring
In the "wish I was there" category — Paris in springtime which, not coincidentally, is when I first went there. It was Easter weekend so the French had closed the place down. Germans, Japanese, and we were left stranded every morning on the steps of the Louvre wistfully looking at locked doors and paging through guidebooks to see if anything might be open. No formal sightseeing was available but luckily Paris itself is enough. And it was.

Scott is a specially enhanced Multi-Neural Capacitant with the ability to stop galactic wars.

So he's pretty annoyed when Julie kidnaps him to use his mental abilities for memorizing cocktail recipes. Join us for episode 182 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast: A Game of Fox and Lion by Robert R. Chase.

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 5

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

Descent of the Holy Spirit, Dore

(Tuesday, 7th Week of Easter)
The gift of knowledge enables man to understand created things as signs which led to God, and the meaning of their elevation to the supernatural order. Through the world of nature and grace the Holy Spirit enables us to perceive and contemplate the infinite wisdom, power and goodness of God. God's nature is reflected in created things. Like the gifts of understanding and of wisdom, the gift of knowledge is a contemplative gift enabling us to see into the very mystery of God (M.M. Philipon).

Through the gift of knowledge the Christian who is docile to the Holy Spirit will learn to discern perfectly between what leads to God and what separates from him, in the field of arts, of fashion, and in the world of ideas. Truly he will be able to say that wisdom guided him on straight paths; she showed him the kingdom of God, and gave him knowledge of angels (cf Wis 10:10). The Holy Spirit himself will warn us when what is good and true in itself is in danger of becoming bad by leading us away from our last supernatural end. It could be a disordered desire for material possessions, or an attachment to these goods in a way that does not leave the heart free to serve God.
Prayer: The Gift of Knowledge

Light immortal! Light divine!
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.

The Gift of Knowledge
The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth--in their relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity, and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first, and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. "Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it."

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Your glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to You, and Your eternal rewards. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit