Monday, March 25, 2019

The Solemnity of the Annunciation

Leonardo da Vinci. The Annunciation.
Detail. c. 1472-1475. Oil and tempera on wood. Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
On today's feast the Church celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation and, at the same time, the vocation of Our Lady. It was her faithful response to the angel's message, her fiat, that began the work of redemption...

The setting of this feast day, March 25th, corresponds to Christmas. In addition, there is ancient tradition that the creation of the world and the commencement and conclusion of the Redemption all happened to coincide at the vernal equinox.

As the greatest proof of his love for us, God had his only Son become man to save us from our sins. In this way Jesus merited for us the dignity of becoming children of God. His arrival signalled the fullness of time. St. Paul puts it quite literally that Jesus was born of a woman. (cf The Navarre Bible, Romans and Galatians, note to Gal 4:4) Jesus did not come to earth as a spirit. He truly became man, like one of us. He received his human nature from Our Lady's immaculate womb. Today's feat, therefore, is really in honour of Jesus and Mary. That is why Fr. Luis de Granada has pointed out: It is reasonable to consider, first and foremost, the purity and sanctity of the Woman whom God chose 'ab aeterno' to give form to his humanity.

When God decided to create the first man, he first took care to create a fitting environment for him, which was the Garden of Eden. It makes sense, then, that when god made ready to send his Son, the Christ, he likewise prepared for him a worthy environment, namely, the body and soul of the Blessed Virgin. (Life of Jesus Christ, I)

As we consider the significance of this Solemnity, we find Jesus very closely united to Mary. When the Blessed Virgin said Yes, freely, to the plans revealed to her by the Creator, the divine Word assumed a human nature: a rational soul and a body, which was formed in the most pure womb of Mary. The divine nature and the human were united in a single Person: Jesus Christ, true God and, thenceforth, true Man; the only-begotten and eternal Son of the Father, and from that moment on, as Man, the true son of Mary. ... (J. Escriva, Friends of God, 274)
There is more from this reflection featured in this previous post for this solemnity.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Graveyards, Babies, and The Jungle Book

Jesse, Maissa, and I discuss Neil Gaiman's wonderful homage to The Jungle Book ... which manages to be both a tribute and altogether original. Get it at SFFaudio.

A Cloudy Day, Bluebonnets

Julian Onderdonk, A Cloudy Day, Bluebonnets, near San Antonio, 1918
via Arts Everyday Living

The Mass gave full expression to the truths and mysteries of Christianity.

As with beauty and imagination, the order and symbolism of public prayer were bound up with truth. The Mass gave full expression to the truths and mysteries of Christianity. The Cross was there, but so was our Lord's crucified body, with the pierced side, the bloodied hands, the scourged and welted back, the thorns cutting into the forehead. His sacrifice was present. And so was the Virgin, who had given him flesh from her own flesh, nursed him from her bosom and accompanied him to the last. She was our link to the Incarnation — how could we leave her out of worship? ...

Without Mary, Christianity risked losing the truth about Christ's own identity — the union of two natures, divine and human, in one person — and drifting toward Gnosticism of various kinds.
Sohab Amari; From Fire, By Water

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Great First Line: Equal Rites

This is a story about magic and where it goes and perhaps more importantly where it comes from and why, although it doesn't pretend to answer all or any of these questions.
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Coffee and potatoes

Albert Anker, Still life: coffee and potatoes
via Lines and Colors

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The action of God in history and time

The lesson repeated over and over again in the books of the Bible — unlike the one suggested by Greco-Roman paganism — is that man, in the events of history, is not the plaything of a blind fate but in the hands of a Power, a Principle, a personal God on whom all depends and who wishes to lead him to his true goal.

This is what gives the Bible its very special meaning and what was already known by its inspired authors, who, in all they wrote, had but one purpose: to bring home to men the action of God in the world and in the dimension of time. To reproach them with lack of the famous modern "objectivity" is pointless. For them, history is written at God's dictation as part of His designs: the moral writings seek to elevate man to the likeness of God; poetry in its various forms exalts the glory of the Most High and furnishes believers iwth the means of associating themselves with His work through prayer; and the midrashim bring home the infallibility of His actions.

What give the historical study of the Bible its whole import and puts the Bible as a history book in a class by itself is that this slice of events cut out of time and space reveals the divine action; in fact, it is the divine action, directed toward revelation. An indissoluble union of human realities — some of them a painful, even a lamentable sight — and transcendent and divine realities; that is the very substance of the Bible; that is what constitutes its greatness, but also its difficulty.
Henri Daniel-Rops, What is the Bible?

Assyrian Horses

Assyrian horses, alabaster bas-relief from Nineveh, 7th century BC

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Band Baaja Baaraat (Band Music and Revelry)

Bittoo meets Shruti when he crashes a wedding for free food and she tries to have him thrown out. He's interested in flirting but she's all business about her future, which does not include romance. That's ironic because she's going to begin a wedding planning service. When his father wants Bittoo to return to the sugar cane farm, Bittoo throws in his lot with Shruti's. It's strictly business. Of course.

This is a solid romantic comedy and a much better movie than the description makes it seem. The script often surprised me by taking unexpected turns. Probably the most refreshing bit was that it focused much less on the problems of running a wedding planning company than those of their relationship. Normally that wouldn't be a plus for me but these two actors elevated the movie and with the plot twists it all worked. Plenty of songs and dance numbers kept it fun and the item number is wonderfully over the top.

Solemnity of St. Joseph

Good news! NO FASTING on a solemnity. So enjoy a break from your Lenten fasting while giving thanks for St. Joseph. May he help us to all be so self-giving and faithful.

Giuseppe Maria Lo Spagnolo Crespi - Death of Saint Joseph [c.1712]
Via Gandalf's Gallery
The season of Lent is interrupted by the Solemnity of Joseph, Husband of Mary. With the exception of Our Lady, there is no greater saint in Heaven than Saint Joseph. This feast originated in the fifteenth century and was then extended to the whole church in 1621. In 1847 Pope Pius IX named Saint Joseph Patron of the Universal Church. Pope John XXIII had Saint Joseph's name included in the Roman Canon.

Here was an ordinary man to whom God granted extraordinary graces. Joseph was to fulfill a most singular mission in the salvific design of God. He experienced indescribable joys along with the trials of doubt and suffering. We recall his perplexity at the mystery of Mary's conception, at the extreme of material poverty in Bethlehem, at the prophecies of Simeon in the Temple, at the hurried flight into Egypt, at the difficulties of having to live in a foreign land, at the return from Egypt and the threat posed by Archelaus. Joseph proved himself always faithful to the will of God. He showed himself always ready to set aside his own human plans and considerations.

The explanation for this remarkable fidelity is that Jesus and Mary were at the centre of Joseph's life. Joseph's self-giving is an interweaving of faithful love, loving faith and confident hope. His feast is thus a good opportunity for us to renew our commitment to the Christian calling God has given each of us. (St. J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by)

In Conversation with God, Vol. 6: Special Feasts: January to June

St. Joseph, Terror of Demons
by Deacon Lawrence Klimecki
My favorite title for St. Joseph is Terror of Demons. For more about that title, read at the link for the picture above.

Monday, March 18, 2019

March Snow

Edward B. Gordon,
Today the snow blustered over land and sea. Flakes as big as handkerchiefs danced in the wind.
Nothing like that here so maybe that's why I like the painting!

"Freedom in the service of the good," freedom that allowed "itself to be led by the Spirit of God."

Too much autonomy was as likely to yield despotism as the hideous statist projects of the last century. True freedom, Benedict [XVI] taught, was something else. It was "freedom in the service of the good," freedom that allowed "itself to be led by the Spirit of God." To know what God wants and to bring oneself into conformity with the transcendent order of the universe, then, was freedom. That was the essence of Israel's joy, what set it apart from the pagans with their idols and god-emperors. The Christian, however, had the added joy of knowing the "face" of the law: self-sacrificial love. The road to fullest freedom ran through the Cross.
Sohab Amari; From Fire, By Water

Friday, March 15, 2019

Hannah & Rose discuss medieval hair, non-medieval poetry ...

... and the smelliest poison in the world as they watch Tristan & Isolde (2006). Get it in episode 35 of More is More, the bad movie podcast.

The most remarkable record a people ever left

So the Bible is in the first place a history. It is the record of a people, in fact the most remarkable record a people has ever left, for future generations, of all it did, suffered, believed, thought, and hoped. It is the record of a family, Abraham's, kept for about two thousand years, the record of a family that from the Patriarch to Jesus can be followed in its human destiny as well as in its providential mission. That is what gives unity to the Bible and all its heterogeneous parts.
Henri Daniel-Rops, What is the Bible?

Fritillaries in a Copper Vase

Vincent van Gogh, Fritillaries in a Copper Vase, 1887
Vivid. Bright. Full of life. Like a flame captured in a vase.