Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017


Like Eduard Artemyev's electronica album Metamorphoses (a real gem), this one is great too, by Miha Kralj, previously unknown to me. I only knew of Eduard Artemyev before because of Tarkovsky - namely Stalker. These eastern European electronic artists starting form the early 80s on have a kind of genius. The music doesn't really sound stuck in that era.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Monday, February 6, 2017

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Such beautiful words from our Holy Father

"We do well to take up the dreams of our elders, so that we can prophesy in our day and once more encounter what originally set our hearts afire.  Dreams and prophecies together.  The remembrance of how our elders, our fathers and mothers, dreamed, and the courage prophetically to carry on those dreams.

"This attitude will make us fruitful.  Most importantly, it will protect us from a temptation that can make our consecrated life barren: the temptation of survival.  An evil that can gradually take root within us and within our communities.  The mentality of survival makes us reactionaries, fearful, slowly and silently shutting ourselves up in our houses and in our own preconceived notions.  It makes us look back, to the glory days – days that are past – and rather than rekindling the prophetic creativity born of our founders’ dreams, it looks for shortcuts in order to evade the challenges knocking on our doors today.  A survival mentality robs our charisms of power, because it leads us to “domesticate” them, to make them “user-friendly”, robbing them of their original creative force.  It makes us want to protect spaces, buildings and structures, rather than to encourage new initiatives.  The temptation of survival makes us forget grace; it turns us into professionals of the sacred but not fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters of that hope to which we are called to bear prophetic witness.  An environment of survival withers the hearts of our elderly, taking away their ability to dream.  In this way, it cripples the prophecy that our young are called to proclaim and work to achieve.  In a word, the temptation of survival turns what the Lord presents as an opportunity for mission into something dangerous, threatening, potentially disastrous.  This attitude is not limited to the consecrated life, but we in particular are urged not to fall into it." --Pope Francis

Full text of Pope Francis' homily for the feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

The one who suffers most

So much work goes into sinning. It is a horrible labour because it is fed and fueled with the division of one's soul. One might entertain the notion of freedom from the commandments in order to commit sin, like it would be a reprieve; or one imagines freedom is just a general state of doing what you want; but one is a dupe to think that one will be free in sin.

Sin demands all-consuming toil; it demands your soul be divided; and divided ever more insanely without rhyme or reason. The toil is not necessarily a toil that one can ascertain as such, in the sense of seeing yourself positively labouring at something. Often it is a toil of quiet negation that robs the soul of its freedom. When the whip and prod of this slavery are at their quietest, they are at their worst, they are at their highest command. The most lethargic and laid-back assumptions soaking in a hottub and cloud of marijuana smoke, answering every impulse to repent with, "The Dude abides", or some such, has in it a horrible fortitude toiling at sin.

More work goes into regressing than into progressing. The work here is the division of the soul, whereas in the most strenuous work of progress in holiness, in union with Christ, the soul is yet somehow still at rest, for it is whole. How many sins are committed by Christians because they allow the general sadness and boredom and noise of the world, in the ordinary minutes, to make them forget the victory that Christ has won in them? How many sin because they forget to smile?

The very word "comfort" implies its unattainability, or rather its absurdity; thus to live in it extravagantly or persistently (that is to say, always choosing comfort over and above anything else) implies a life of deep alienation, of a position of very deep discomfort with life, because one has to service the comfort that one wishes to have or sustain. Go to any mall. Look at the faces. Comfort is one of the coldest words in the English language. Borrowing money at compounding interest is just such a great metaphor for the labour of sin, until you realize that it is, or can be, a literal carrier of it. It is no metaphor at all.

Thomas Merton wrote:

“The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most.” 

We're familiar with the terminology about slavery to sin. Yet don't we tend to think about that slavery as something static? Today the term "slavery" is so ubiquitous with the political and ideological that it has lost its keen verb sense, such as when we say "to slave away", as well as simply its original legal sense. Still less do we think about the underlying assumption that mediated the legality of slave-trading: that the slave was to do work for someone. You wanted a slave that could work. No one wanted to own a person because they just wanted to own a person.

St. Paul talks about "the wages of sin". Slavery is to toil away, as your fate, for someone's other benefit. "Slavery of sin" does not just imply that one is in chains; it implies a grueling, soul-sapping toil - every second that goes by. Where slaving for someone as in the slave-trade (which is by no means dead today) was a fate, and you toiled until you died, the toil of the slavery of sin is exponential in demanding your dissipation and division.

He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
    it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
    they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
    the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
    and plants for people to cultivate—
    bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens human hearts,
    oil to make their faces shine,
    and bread that sustains their hearts.
The trees of the Lord are well watered,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests;
    the stork has its home in the junipers.
The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
    the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.
He made the moon to mark the seasons,
    and the sun knows when to go down.
You bring darkness, it becomes night,
    and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
The lions roar for their prey
    and seek their food from God.
The sun rises, and they steal away;
    they return and lie down in their dens.
Then people go out to their work,
    to their labor until evening.

--Psalm 104, 10-23

Thursday, January 26, 2017

"Resting on an air mattress, on a big lazy lake

of my own subjective desires." --Bishop Robert Barron.

Last night at Mass I had a moment in which I felt quietly and powerfully - not for the first time - that quickness, that haste, that hinge, that total hairpin turn in the conversion of St. Paul. Who in using their imagination and empathy, combined with the reflection of their own conversion experience (which is never finished in this valley of tears), can't picture what it would have been like, even just a little, for Saul?

"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them SKYBALON, that I may gain Christ..."

Look up "skybalon", by the way.

He said WHAT!

“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” --Pope Francis

Wednesday, January 25, 2017