Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jesus, I trust in you: A distillation of all that is meant by "prayer"

This is the bumper sticker I have on the back of my car:

I ordered a number of them around a year and a half ago. I believe it was from this site.

I put it right up above the tail light on the trunk hatch, so it's good and visible. I figure down on the bumper is too out of the way. Once and a while when I'm at a red light I'll pop a glance in the rearview. The expressions are various.

Having a Divine Mercy bumper sticker is more than just stating that you're Christian through kitsch; far more. To the person who sees it, the image does not direct their attention to me as a Christian - because the image is directed at them.

"By means of this image I shall be granting many graces to souls, so let every soul have access to it." (#570) St. Faustina diary.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Desert Fathers

LI. He [Hyperichius] said again, "It is better to eat flesh and to drink wine than to eat the flesh of the brethren by backbiting them."

LXVI. An old man had lived long in the desert, and it chanced that a brother came to see him, and found him ill. And he washed his face and made him a meal of the things he had brought with him. And when the old man saw it, he said, "Indeed, brother, I had forgotten what solace men may have in food." He offered him also a cup of wine. And when he saw it, he wept, saying, "I had not thought to drink wine until I died."

I love that last one.

Do you know how to program a compu--//**^^..>>]-]-b-bake bread?

"It was always cold in the house...'cause they didn't want to use up what they had in case it got colder. We'd be all dressed up sitting there by this little stove...but my mother used to bake bread in that stove, and the bread was just delicious. Everything was terrible but we had good food."

I'm sure that in an economic crash people who know nothing of food preparation and cooking would be forced to discover how to cook basic good food. Nonetheless, one may find it interesting and worthwhile to watch someone who has actually been through the Great Depression cook food. Apparently Clara Cannuciari's Great Depression Cooking with Clara videos are quite popular. I've only found out about them today. She also talks about her experiences somewhat in her videos.

Her site can be found here. Her youtube videos can be found at that site, under the "episodes" category.

Hat tip to Spirit Daily.

Rising sap

At the Brown brothers' wood, wanting to say damn the winter; but knowing spring does not declare oaths on arrival. It hinges on starkest death. After the snow-laden threshes, the reiterated cold grips, it is suddenly there, like the full recapturing of some once-forgotten memory, now incarnated beyond phantom logic. The lingering end of winter can be the worst part of it. The longing for the infinite associations of spring and its deepening banquet feast, summer (ferried to the mind in recollected cow lowings over clean, waist-high grass, the rain-sound bristling poplars and swallows lunging and rising over the vast inebriation of the fields' mown hay heat), can overextend itself, wanting to kick what is thawing. Nonetheless, I think the longing is good. But it should refrain from damning the winter.

You have to work fast, for the sun ever moves

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Desert Fathers

XLVI. The abbot Silvanus with Zachary his disciple, came to a certain monastery, and before they took their leave, the monks made them eat a little. But after they had gone out, his disciple came on water, and would fain have drunk. Then said Silvanus, "Zachary, to-day is a fast." He said, "But, Father, did we not eat to-day?" The old man said, "That was love's bread, my son: but for us, let us keep our own fast."

XLVIII. One of the fathers used to say, "One man is found eating much and yet refraining while he is still hungry, lest he be filled: and another eats little, and is filled. He who eats much and refrains while he is still hungry, hath more merit than he who eats little and is full fed."

LI. One of the fathers fell ill, and for many days could touch no food. But one of his disciples urged him, saying, "If you will let me, my father, I shall make you a little cake." And the old man nodded, and he made it. Now beside him was a little pot of honey, and another similar pot with linseed oil, and it was stinking and good for nothing, unless perchance for a lamp: and the brother by mistake put some of it in the cake, thinking that he was putting in honey. The old man tasted it, and said nothing, but ate in silence: but when it was given him a third time, he said: "I cannot eat, my son." But the young man, coaxing him, said, "Look, Father, they are good cakes and I am eating some myself," and then when he tasted it, and knew what he had done, he fell on his face saying, "Woe is me, Father, for I have killed thee: thou hast laid this sin upon me, because thou didst say no word." And the old man said, "Vex not thyself, my son, because of it: for if God had willed that I should eat a good cake, thou wouldst have put in the honey, and not this that thou didst put in."

Seeds no more


from this post and this post,

are now these:

Never in my lifetime will you prune me.
I take care of my shape well enough;
besides, though thornless, my leaves are so tough
and lance-like, that I'm sure you will agree,
the merest eyesight will inform the most dumb:
one foot at closest, round my parameter,
is an excellent rule of thumb.

Forest drawings

With brush

The Church even blesses ashes

I don't mind at all going to bed with ashes on my forehead. This morning most of it was still there. I took a piece of moistened tissue and rubbed it off and threw the piece in the front yard where it will disintegrate into the dirt - after the snow has melted (yes, snow; those arctic winds sometimes like to come down and play games when the crocuses come up).

The reason I did that is because of a question that occurred to me: since we are not to dispose of holy water or any other blessed object in the garbage or down ordinary drains that lead to a sewer (such as showers), but are to either burn, bury in the ground or dirt of household plants, or wash down a sacrarium (special sink that leads directly to the ground for the washing of sacred vessels or contaminated holy water), wouldn't it be the same for holy ashes? They've been blessed.

Or maybe everyone has been doing this; disposing them in the ground. I know I haven't been.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Feast Day of the Holy Face


May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth by all the creatures of God and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the adorable Face of Thy Beloved Son for the honour and glory of Thy Name, for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of the dying. Amen.

After receiving this prayer, Sister Mary of St. Peter was given a vision in which she saw the Sacred Heart of Jesus delightfully wounded by this "Golden Arrow" as torrents of graces streamed from It for the conversion of sinners.


Eternal Father, turn away Thy angry gaze from our guilty people whose face has become unsightly in Thine eyes. Look instead upon the Face of Thy Beloved Son, for this is the Face of Him in Whom Thou art well pleased. We now offer Thee this Holy Face, covered with shame and disfigured by bloody bruises in reparation for the crimes of our age in order to appease Thine anger, justly provoked against us. Because Thy Divine Son, our Redeemer, has taken upon His Head all the sins of His members, that they might be spared, we now beg of Thee, Eternal Father, to grant us mercy. AMEN.


ETERNAL FATHER, we offer You the Holy Face of Jesus, covered with blood, sweat, dust and spittle, in reparation for the crimes of communists, blasphemers, and for the profaners of the Holy Name and of the Holy Day. AMEN.


Our Lord told Sister Mary of St. Peter that the Image of His Holy Face is like a Divine Stamp which, if applied to souls, through prayer, has the power of imprinting anew within them the Image of God.


Thanks to: Catholic Tradition.

Also check out: The Holy Face Association.

Saint Veronica,

pray for us!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscar Night

It's been a night of surprises at the Oscars. The first major award of best supporting actor went to some guy and he thanked some people. Everyone was expecting whatshername to win best actress but her expectations were dashed when the award went to Weepyface for her understated and controversial role in Feministchoicehistoricalrevisionismwhatever. Guyinsuit won best actor and in a speech that received a standing ovation from three quarters of the crowd he said this was for all the whatsitcauses that are getting more fasionable. Director, Ferableaumex Kaumoulouis was much elated as he went up a second time to receive the Oscar for best picture for his film One Night of Orphan or some other kind of person in Street, Exposing Urban Something or Other, or possibly Unflinching Look into the Arab World and into Drastic Dire Changes in Something or Other World, or whatever the title of the film was. The Oscar host, Funny Person, got many laughs, especially when he said something that was really funny. At one point though, there was dead silence and some boos when he said to whatshername not to worry because there is always next year, so don't stop starring in roles as drifting losers or something.

In all, it was a good Oscar night, and I'm glad I didn't watch it -er, glad I'm not watching it.

Reconverted storage rooms

In addition to the 24 hours of Confession set to be in New York, there is some other good news in a piece at Father Z.'s here (with his emphasis in black and comments in red), on the revival of Confession in one parish.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Desert Fathers


V. The abbot Cyrus of Alexanderia, questioned as to the imagination of lust, made answer: "If thou hast not these imaginings, thou art without hope: for if thou hast not the imagination thereof, thou hast the deed itself. For he who fights not in his mind against sin, nor gainsays it, sins in the flesh. And he who sins in the flesh, hath no trouble from the imagination thereof."

XIII. Another brother was goaded by lust, and rising at night he made his way to an old man, and told him his thoughts, and the old man comforted him. And revived by that comforting he returned to his cell. And again the spirit of lust tempted him, and again he went to the old man. And this happened many times. But the old man did not discountenance him, but spoke to him to his profit, saying, "Yield not to the devil, nor relax thy mind: but rather as often as the devil troubles thee, come to me, and he shall go buffeted away. For nothing so dispirits the demon of lust as when his assaults are revealed. And nothing so heartens him as when his imaginations are kept secret." So the brother came to him eleven times, confessing his imaginings. And thereafter he said to the old man, "Show love to me, my father, and give me some word." The old man said, "Believe me, my son, if God permitted the thoughts with which my own mind is stung to be transferred to thee, thou wouldst not endure them, but wouldst dash thyself headlong." And by the old man saying this, his great humbleness did quiet the goading of lust in the brother.

Kill Goose

Time can be like a goose that flies over your head. You have to get a throwing stick, hunker down and wait for it to fly by and knock it out of the air, then grab it by the neck and chop its head off, cut it open and pull out its guts, defeather and season it, put it on a spit and roast it slowly over a fire. You have to make it yours. If not, then it just flies past. Getting the goose implies more slowing down than gearing up.

I'm moved by things that are done deliberately as proof that we have the upper hand on time, and not time on us. I do not mean that we have unlimited time or that we have power over the amount of what time God gives to us; but that we are to see that God gives the time to us: that he doesn't give us over to time.

Time made for feasts and retreats - or as in some cultures, days given over for a marriage - are measures by which time is shown to be at our helm. Where we don't have the time is precisely where we are meant to chop off the goose's head. This is not to undermine priorities; but what if we don't meet our priorities well because we haven't seen to the more important priorities?

This is by way saying how much I like the idea of New York parishes having, on March 6 and 7, 24 hours of Confession. Creative Minority Report has the scoop here. I wish this could become a common thing in dioceses everywhere. Of course I also wish that parishes would have regular scheduled confession times longer than what they are and on more days than what they are.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Keep awake and watch

"Television is about visible fallacy, something that appears real but is not. Adoration is about invisible truth, something that cannot be seen but is present nonetheless. Worshipping the Holy Eucharist in silence is profoundly countercultural in an age filled with electronic sound and fury signifying nothing. But to present that presence as a digital image on a glowing box is to thrust it back into the realm of the unreal. To remove adoration from physical proximity to the Real Presence is to neuter it entirely."

--Daniel Mitsui in a good essay, The Eucharist and Mass Media.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Whispering Knoll

Light and silence on the forest floor
when the down-slipping sun opens the wood's doors,
reaching in its sidelong song for a short lease,
in swaths of shade and gold, laid side by side,
is a Pentecostal sort of peace - or Emmaus at least.
The airy mint and cushy ground of shed quills
become recipients of the wind's escaped rills.
To know the crannying breeze in between
the outer trees, while utter calm in the wood's
pillared midst, like in a great room whose walls
are pocked with accidental portals,
is to see, as in a gem, or in a song
that is never-wood-leaving, green's perpetual blessing;
and redwoods on the knoll, a crown; house of whisperings.

The Desert Fathers



XI. A brother asked the abbot Mathois, saying, "If I go to live in a certain place, how wouldst thou have me behave there?" The old man said to him, "If thou dost dwell in a place, seek not to make thyself a name for this or that, saying, 'I do not come into the assembly of the brethren,' or 'I do not eat this or that,' for these things make thee an empty name, but thereafter thou shalt suffer annoyance, for when men hear of such, thither they run."

XII. The abbot Nisteron the elder was walking in the desert with a certain brother and seeing a dragon they fled. And the brother said to him, "Art thou also afraid, Father?" The old man replied, "I am not afraid, my son: but it was expedient that I should flee at sight of the dragon, that I might not have to fly the spirit of vainglory."

XVIII. Another time another judge came to see him [Simon] and the clergy that went before him said to him, "Father, make thyself ready, for the judge hath heard of thee and comes for thy blessing." And he covered himself with his sackcloth, and taking in his hand bread and cheese, sat down at the doorway of his cell and began to eat. In due course the judge came with his escort, and at the sight they made a scorn of him, saying, "Is this the solitary monk of whom we have heard such great things?" And straightway they turned about, and departed to their own place.

Mary, Mother of the Christ

I can see Al Pacino as Herod, which is rumoured to be his role in the coming film, Mary Mother of Christ (or is it Mary, the Mother of the Christ?). Camilla Belle as Mary: I just hope they do not use make-up on her face - at least not the kind that would increase her sultriness.

It looks as though the film will begin filming in Morocco this May. It will be directed by Alejandro Agresti. There's some kind of internet video going around that has pretensions to being the film's preview, or "teaser trailer". It's just the title of the movie with a drawing by Tommy Canning, overlaid with music swiped from The Passion of the Christ. No point in watching it.

The film's screenplay was written by Benedict Fitzgerald and co-written by Barbara Nicolosi. Fitzgerald wrote the screenplay with Mel Gibson for The Passion of the Christ. He also wrote the screenplay for John Huston's Wise Blood.

Mary Aloe, one of the producers, had this to say:

"This is not a Christmas movie. This is a part of Mary's life that has never been shown on the big screen before. It takes us through Mary's youth, young love, her life as a new mother and the triumph through the absolute terror of Herod the Great's reign. It is truly a story of real female empowerment."

Which makes me entirely and justifiably skeptical of the whole thing. I'm not one of those who castigated The Nativity Story over every single detail (I liked the film for allowing me to dwell on the bare fact the Jesus Christ was born), but the fact is, the portrait of Mary in that film was so utterly lame that it made the almost equally lame portrayal of Joseph look truly wonderful. Not wrong (though people, like iconographers, would soundly say the birth scene was wrong); just lame. So, well, this film Mary Mother of the Christ is probably going to be an even bigger sounding board for those ready to make criticism.

I hope the film turns out to be a miracle; an extraordinarily subtle portrayal of the Mother of God, in all her potentialized queenly majesty and her present humble invisibility. But I'm not holding out.

In Awe

For it is said that after the departure of the Valar there was silence, and for an age Iluvatar sat alone in thought. Then he spoke and said: 'Behold I love the earth, which shall be a mansion for the Quendi and the Atani! But the Quendi shall be the fairest of all earthly creatures, and they shall have and shall conceive and bring forth more beauty than all my Children; and they shall have the greater bliss in this world. But to the Atani I will give a new gift.' Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else; and of their operation everything should be, in form and deed, completed, and the world fulfilled unto the last and smallest.

But Iluvatar knew that Men, being set amid the turmoils of the powers of the world, would stray often, and would not use their gifts in harmony; and he said: 'These too in their time shall find that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work.' Yet the Elves believe that Men are often a grief to Manwe, who knows most of the mind of Iluvatar; for it seems to the Elves that Men resemble Melkor most of all the Ainur, although he has ever feared and hated them, even those that served him.

It is one with this gift of freedom that the children of Men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it, and depart soon whither the Elves know not. Whereas the Elves remain until the end of days, and their love of the Earth and all the world is more single and more poignant therefore, and as the years lengthen ever more sorrowful. For the Elves die not till the world dies, unless they are slain or waste in grief (and to both these seeming deaths they are subject); neither does age subdue their strength, unless one grow weary of ten thousand centuries; and dying they are gathered to the halls of Mandos in Valinor, whence they may in time return. But the sons of Men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called Guests, or the Strangers. Death is their fate, the gift of Iluvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy. But Melkor has cast his shadow upon it, and confounded it with darkness, and brought forth evil out of good, and fear out of hope. Yet of old the Valar declared to the Elves in Valinor that Men shall join in the Second Music of Ainur; whereas Iluvatar has not revealed what he purposes for the Elves after the World's end, and Melkor has not discovered it. --The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Desert Fathers


XXVIII. The abbot Mathois said, "The nearer a man approaches to God, the greater sinner he sees himself to be. For the prophet Isaiah saw God, and said that he was unclean and undone."

XXXVI. A brother asked the abbot Alonius, "What is contempt?" And the old man said, "To be below the creatures that have no reason, and to know that they are not condemned."

Let Jesus say, 'saved'; not you

The alarm clock that I received at Christmas was pre-set on some Christian station. From what I've heard on it so far it's a rather Fundamentalist station, though I don't listen to it beyond the seconds it takes for my arm to reach over and turn it off - or press that big bar, that wonderful, horrible sleep button. Maybe someone at the manufacturing plant is pre-setting the radio knobs on purpose.

Leaving it on that station, I thought it would be good as an alarm to wake up to in the morning. Honestly, it's not that good to wake up to. Usually it's someone's very generic, yet almost codified preaching that makes me wonder if it ever occurs to these people that the Bible could ever become an idol. Other thoughts too.

One morning between the sleep button's nine minute delays, I caught the words from one preacher:

"And let us pray for those who are not saved…"

Lying in bed I thought something along the lines of, "What ridiculous, stilted acrobatics of language that is".

Leaving aside the obvious question of how one could possibly pray for those who, according to the bare logistics of the phrase, have already been rescinded with eternal damnation, there is another, stupider thing. The other, stupider thing is the state which must be implied in order to speak the abovementioned phrase, namely: "That I am one of those who bin saved".

Hence, whenever referring to [other] sinners from that point on, it is from the hermetically sealed vantage that even insults and poisons the sinner's sins, and turns the whole deal of unique, singular repentance and conversion into something like a robotic, bureaucratic sleight of hand: not saved and bin saved. Not saved can upgrade to bin saved; and it makes one wonder: then how could he have ever been "not saved"? Since being not saved is eternal and absolute loss of Heaven; since the word "saved" is past tense and implies a whole corollary of one's choices. He could be, in retrospect, "not yet saved" up until the point of his conversion (if one is to take their notion of salvation); but how in the heck can one as a potential candidate for salvation (which is everyone) be "not saved"? For again, our salvation, or damnation, whichever of our choosing, is eternal and absolute.

It only gets worse when one considers the speaker's real meaning of the words; the inside and subjective knowledge of what he means by it. "One who is saved" means of course one who has accepted Jesus Christ as his sole salvation. One who is "not saved" means one who has not accepted Jesus Christ as one's salvation. When speaking among ourselves who have "been saved" about this "not saved" soul, it cannot be said so to mean that you could possibly be saved and that without Jesus you cannot be saved and that in order to be saved one needs to accept Jesus Christ; you who are, as with everyone, a sinner. For that would lead us to say, properly, "Let us pray for the conversion of sinners"; but simply it must be said that you are one of those "not saved"; unless of course you accept Jesus Christ and say you bin saved. Scratch head.

Clearly these people don't believe that those "not saved" are predestined to hell, since they are calling for prayer for them. So why the stupid, orbiting, kid-glove language? (The kid-glove language is for themselves by the way) Why do they say "not saved" instead of something that would imply potential salvation, if only for the purpose of making grammatical sense?

It's because if they did, it would mean recognizing in humility that they themselves could potentially fall from their own salvation - even after all their wonderful accepting of Jesus into their hearts - the salvation which they have mistakenly taken to mean, in whole or in part, saying you bin saved.

And that would mean the possibility that what they are doing doesn't cut it. Because it is, in the end and in essence, Jesus Who saves us, on His own unconditional terms, and not our accepting Him.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Beginning Again


"There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions." --G.K. Chesterton (From: The Blog of the American Chesterton Society)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Random Thoughts and Jottings

There is no circle of life. Sanity dictates everything has a beginning and an end, including history. It requires a journey unto itself to even begin to realize that everything has a beginning and an end. Everything is in the adventure of culminating in eternity, which is not recurring.


Nothing is removed that is not replaced with something else. Men who speak of the removal of something, as a means of acquiring some benign, multi-cultural neutral ground, are liars. They are liars twice over. Once, for saying the removal of something will settle some "issue"; twice, for being the ones who provoke the "issue" in the first place. For instance, a school principal's removal of the national anthem on the grounds that he is "attending to the needs of all his students". As such, there is no removal alone that gives way to some wonderful green horizon; but there is replacement. The fruit of what takes something's place tells you what the nature and intent of the removal were. And the fruit shows without delay.


Two young pigs are enough to till over a good sized backyard. They are remarkable diggers with their snouts alone. They are little bulldozers. At the right time of year you would hardly need to lift a hoe to plant a garden.


Cold is bracing, fine, bearable, or barely passable, if it goes hand in hand with dry. Cold and wet simply kill.


Notice how idealogues in various positions of authority talk about something else while they clearly do what they say they are not doing. Or they say that to look full-square at the objective quality of what they've done is to be short-sighted and miss the real issue. They turn the objective into the subjective, and the subjective into the objective.


Socialists like this (I'm sure there's other newer names for them) cannot see their country beyond its passing political configuration; and even that much they get wrong; these green "internationalists" that pose as figures whose ideas "transcend borders". These wretched geeks who speak about transcending national borders are the very ones who have nothing but a pathetic, empty, purely politicized vision of their own country. Hence every subverting, backbiting action they make is likewise political in nature. Time and again, butting against any resistance of the real world, they will narcissistically refer the actions they have taken, or want to take, to their pet political ideas while at the same time pronouncing how we must go beyond our partisan bigotries.


The wonderful Magical Stimulus Tree
is that other great money tree
whose money apparently
doesn't mean debt.
This Stimulus Tree comes from the warm snowy land
of candycane lamps and gumdrops.
The bills from this tree mean Change and Hope.
You know the kind that is meant: hope
for the continuation of bloodless comfort
and the continuation of babies' spilled blood.
So, let us hope the bills from this Stimulus Tree
are not the same moneys of late
which they are hoping to stimulate.
Let us hope indeed, that this money tree
does really come (if you will only believe it enough)
from the warm snowy land of candycane lamps
and gumdrops.

Exiting Soul

The woods slant down and hold the sunset's last.
The falling trails darken; the boundary's boles
to the west hold up immaculate stained glass.
Black stumps, standing off paths, seem to grow
eyes and watch the waif, the exiting soul.

Good Words

It is folly to leave your goods where you can never return, and to send nothing to that place where you must remain for ever. --VEN. LOUIS OF GRANADA.

Be assured that one great means to find favor when we appear before God is to have pardoned the injuries we have received here below. --VEN. LOUIS OF GRANADA.

The dross is consumed by the fire, but the pure gold remains and its value increases. It is in this manner that God acts with his good servant, who puts his hope in him and remain unshaken in times of distress. God raise him up and, in return for the things he has left out of love for God, he repays him a hundredfold in this life and with eternal life hereafter. --ST. JEROME EMILIANI.

And here's one that could have come from the tongue of G.K.C.:

Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself: who could be the Master of these beautiful things? And I felt a great desire to see him, to know him and to pay him homage. --ST. JOSEPHINE BAKHITA.

Quotes from: Father Anthony Ho

Chair and Overcoat

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


A friend sends an e-mail with the subject line: Hundreds Attend Global Warming Protest.

Enclosed is this picture:

The Owl of the Remove ponders whether Chesterton and Belloc would have blogged if they had the opportunity. He thinks Chesterton would have blogged, but Belloc would not have, giving this Bellocian quasi-limerick:

I wonder if Belloc would blog?

I suppose that the question is odd.

He would say: "not today, because there's no pay,

Can you pay for a pint at the pub?"

Speaking of which, Timothy Jones talks about a couple of brews, and I consequently find it strange that I am both lean and stocky - sometimes in the same single evening.

Father Dwight Longenecker writes about looking out of windows, a favourite past-time of mine.

Tentative Equinox writes about why one should be Anti-Anti-Bullying Day.

After the ice storms in Arkansas Paul Nielsen contemplates the insufficiency of modern housing.


StAR (Saint Austin Review) has a new, rather pleasant looking site up: I should probably say, "finally". The old one didn't have much, uhm, dynamics.

They have a blog on the site too, written by their contributors: The Ink Desk.

They also have The Reference Room.

They also have a Discussion Table, soon to come.

Excellent stuff.

H/T: Jef Murray, through his newsletter.

Monday, February 9, 2009

From the Heights

This happened almost two years ago. It happened the day after the massacre at Virginia Technical Institute. I had been strolling through Redwood Park in the late afternoon and had decided spontaneously to go to Adoration at a parish not too far away.

After coming out of Adoration I was hit with an irresistible tranquility, and I got in my car and drove off. Little did I know this peace was preparing me to see something.

I was driving to my parents' home down a highway into town, heading directly east. It was early evening when the light has not yet started going dim but the down-swing has happened in the sun's trajectory that enriches everything in deep hues. Fields were on either side and in the east in front of me white clouds billowed up and up, such that if they were bruised with blue and violet you would have said a storm was coming.

But these were cast with rose light that was forming from the west and with the usual grey of white clouds. They were wonderfully lit up from the westward sun. Driving along, my eyes went sort of south east in the sky, and it was as if I said to myself, "I wonder what you can make of those clouds there". This was a very faint thought in the midst of other thoughts; and I didn't make out anything there.

With that, my eyes went back to their regular position, looking directly ahead. And suddenly they were awestruck: practically all of the wide, towering cloud formation in the east was in the bold shape and appearance of an angel blowing furiously on a trumpet.

To state it as that alone would be insufficient. No moving picture could get at the force and movement inherent in this "still picture". This was no singular cloud that a fanciful child looks at and says, "Mommy, mommy, it looks just like an angel." This was a huge mass of stacked clouds set in relief against other massive clouds. The shadows, lights and forms conspired in such a way as to bring out quite scary subtleties; like the forms of the legs discerned as they would appear beneath cloth, puffing cheeks where the trumpet met the lips, the arm palm-side up, holding out the trumpet, the up-caught wing; the whole horizontal sweeping gesture of the body, flying with its face toward the south, one leg outstretched behind it at full length; the other bent at the knee like a 'V'.

You know those "3-D" pictures that were all the rave a while back? The ones you gaze at without focusing, and then suddenly the picture comes sharply out. This was sort of like that but without the cleverness; it was far, far simpler.

This was no accident of the elements. Unmistakable, it was like something there absolutely in the open for anyone to see, and because of it, somehow hidden. Too large for the "public eye", the sight yet was as though it were something merely caused by the heavenly fingertips lightly stirring the surface of the world's water.

The "angel" remained in the sky practically the rest of the drive to my parents, though started dispersing when I got there. Nonetheless, I went onto the lower roof to take some pictures even though the sight was no longer there. The pictures would not take. I pointed the camera elsewhere on random things and it would take pictures. So again, pointing toward the east, I snapped and snapped and the pictures would not take.

Take this all for what you will.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Clearest Thing

There's no end to those that are taken away,
against which one's own passing is participated,
arrow-goaled, specified, before one even dies.
Our one lease's recall, clearest thing in all our life,
into each one's life is always infiltrating new.
To it we build a common mask and name. But those
pass away; and they that we knew, once among
the dead, reveal; are newly enamoured
to us, in ways that make our lives no longer ours.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

English Walnut, which the squirrels love in summer

The Desert Fathers

LXXVII. One of the brethren, that had been insulted by another, came to abbot Sisois and told him the scorn that had been put upon him, and said, "I am set to revenge myself, Father." And the old man began to entreat him to leave vengeance to God. But he said, "I shall not stay till I have stoutly avenged myself." So the old man said, "Since thou hast made up thy mind once for all, now let us pray," and rising, he began to pray in these words, "God, Thou art no longer necessary to us, that Thou needst be anxious for us: for we ourselves, as this brother hath said, are both willing and able to avenge ourselves." But when the brother heard it, he fell at the old man's feet seeking his pardon, and promised that he would contend no more with the man against whom he was angered.

Takes more than rabbits to feed this snake

Fossil discovery in northeast Columbia of mega huge prehistoric boa snake that reached the size of 42 feet and weighed one ton and ate prehistoric alligators for breakfast sparks the deep imaginations of scientists who in their multiferous stores of knowledge and data bring the fantasy-fiction-exceeding discovery back to bear on the far greater and mind-boggling discovery of Global Warming, the more exciting thing that reaches through the deeps of time and is the One in All.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Today's from the wood

The Desert Fathers


XVI. A certain philosopher questioned the holy Antony. "How," said he, "dost thou content thyself, Father, who art denied the comfort of books?" He answered, "My book, philosopher, is the nature of created things, and as often as I have a mind to read the words of God, it is at my hand."

By the by, I came randomly on this passage in The Desert Fathers book, just after posting the question below in the post "Dilemma".

Monday, February 2, 2009


A question: what does one do when one has a lengthy list of books one has not yet read that one wants to read, and which are ready at hand - from encyclicals to novels to works of the Doctors of the Church (Aquinas) to classical epics to short stories and dramas - but every ounce of one's desire simply yearns to pick up The Lord of the Rings and read it, for the fourth time?

What does one do? Make a compromise and read The Silmarillion?


To the Philipino person who out of curiosity went to my peach pit carving post after google-searching the words:

what are the places st.paul peach the word of god?

I am sorry for causing a distraction in your noble search for the geography of St. Paul's travels.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Desert Fathers


XLVII. A brother asked abbot Sisois, saying, "I know this of myself, that my mind is intent upon God." And the old man said to him, "It is no great matter that thy mind should be with God: but if thou didst see thyself less than any of His creatures, that were something."

LXV. There came certain folk to an old man in the Thebaid, bringing with them one vexed by a devil, that the old man might heal him. And after much pleading, the old man said to the devil, "Go out from this that God made." And the devil made answer: "I go, but I ask thee one question, and do thou answer me: who be the goats, and who the lambs?" And the old man said, "The goats indeed be such as I: but who the lambs may be, God knows." And hearing it, the devil cried out with a great voice, "Behold, because of this humbleness of thine, I go." And he went out that same hour.


By Pavel Chichikov

Supposing there should be astonishment,
All our fondest suppositions stripped,
The face revealed behind the firmament,
The universe become a small cockpit

A theater round us rising in its rows,
Ranks of powers, principalities,
Great guardians and elemental foes,
Angel armies, demon ministries

Cosmic war, advances and retreats
To which we go as ignorant as bees
To anything but nectar and the hive;
A breaking in, a luminous assault,
Incursions of the sun to make us see
What mystery it is to be alive


The Poetry of Pavel Chichikov