See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Transitus...


Shortly after 7PM little Therese died this very same evening in 1897. I was working tonight and forgot.

She died much like Our Lord, suffocating in great agony; the weeks and days leading up to her death, St. Therese suffered an ineffable darkness, "the trial of Faith". Neither her own words, nor those of any other living person, can describe what it was like to share so intimately her Beloved's death. Not even her sisters could comprehend it.

Therese is little, and yet great. Nevertheless she is always little...very, very little. I sometimes lament she has been declared a Doctor of the Church, resulting in many academics, intellectuals, and masters of theology and spirituality making a science of her "little way." Many times they miss. They miss her "littleness" - her insignificance...

The only great theologian or mystic that I know of who best writes of her life is St. John of the Cross, the writer whose works Therese's spirituality most perfectly embodies. John of the Cross was a little soul as well.

And the person who most closely lived Little Therese's "little way" was even more little and insignificant that herself - Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Happy feast day little God-Mother!

Contemplating death...


Did you ever have a recurring dream? Today's reading from Mass seemed like that to me.

The responsorial psalm is the same as Thursday's;

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart." Psalm 90

The first reading from Ecclesiastes speaks to man's end..."Vanity of vanities!"

While our Lord warns his disciples, "Pay attention...the Son of Man is to be handed over to men." Luke 9, 43.

The disciples "were afraid to ask him about this saying." I believe this betrays a human fear of death, and therefore, something akin to a denial of death.

Few of us are prepared for death. We may think we are, yet I'm pretty certain we are afraid of it. I used to boast I had no fear of it. That is also a sort of denial...a vanity.

St. Joseph, patron of a happy death, pray for us now and at the hour of ours.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Vanitas


Painting by Chris Beaumont, 1988

"Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!" Ecclesiastes 1

Our first reading from Mass today. Later in the reading, "All speech is labored, there is nothing one can say."

In the responsorial psalm we pray, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart."

The Holy Spirit tells us about Herod in today's gospel, "And he kept trying to see him." Jesus. Yet out of curiosity.

In Magnificat, the commentary from Josef Pieper discusses curiositas in reference to custody of the eyes. Blogging in all of it's forms is a vanity.

"All speech is labored; there is nothing one can say. The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor is the ear satisfied with hearing." Ecclesiastes.

O Lord, teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.

On Spirit Daily, Brown had a post linked to a kid's video inside St. Peter's at Rome that showed a ghostly figure near the high altar. Curious. It struck me however, as indicative of how some people seek signs and wonders and apparitions and revelations to nourish and instruct their faith, while missing the presence of Jesus; in the Eucharist, in the Church, in the Scriptures. This in addition to not heeding the authentic Teaching Magisterium of the Church. In this, we all can be a little like Herod at times.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In Memoriam


September 28

Albino Luciani 1912-1978

The Servant of God, Pope John Paul I



Holy Father, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death. Amen

"Falsehood I hate and abhor" Psalm 119


Giovanni Bellini: "Allegory of Deceit"

Having grown up in an atmosphere of dishonesty and pretense, the product of alcoholic parents, since earliest childhood I decided two things, to always be honest, and not to care about status - oh, and there was a third - never to marry. (I never wanted to repeat the errors of my parents.) Today's first reading reminded me of this, "Two things I ask of you, deny them not to me before I die: Put falsehood and lying far from me, give me neither poverty or riches; provide me only with the food I need; lest being full, I deny you, or being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God." -Proverbs

In my efforts to be honest I have often lacked tact. Once the owner of the company I worked for had me look at some artwork from a gentleman we both knew. He is a very good, devout man, the father of a priest. The piece he was showing us was by another very devout woman, a holy picture they hoped we would print and sell. When I looked at it I just said, "Oh, that's nice." Then they asked if I thought we could sell it.

I answered, "No, it is badly drawn." I then constructively pointed out the defects, the lack of artistic merit, while going on to explain how sometimes, in our devotion, we are convinced God wants a commercial endeavor to prosper. I explained that could certainly be his will - but not at such an incomplete stage. One has to be able to market it. (And of course, one has to have talent for the enterprise.)

I always get myself in trouble for my candor - even more so when I attempt to couch it in humor - which few people understand. I just hate deceit...except when it's jocose. (That is, when a statement is obviously absurd, ironic, or just ridiculous. I'm prone to do this in arguments or serious conversations that are going no place. I say something so ridiculous one couldn't possibly believe it. It's funny in a dumb way, and it breaks the tension - usually, or at least allows me to leave on a "high note" like George, from "Seinfeld.")

Today, I ask the Lord once again, "Put falsehood and lying far from me." And again, "Remove from me the way of falsehood, and favor me with your law."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I KNOW!


Pictured:
An extraordinary minister of the Eucharist.


Don Marco, my friend from Rome is in the U.S. for a time. He must be helping out at various parish liturgies and has come to see how the American Catholic church operates. (He is currently chaplain to a community of Benedictine nuns.) In his latest post, he does not say where a recent experience of Eucharistic ministers occurred, but it spurred him to write about it. You have got to read it on his blog "Vultus Christi". Many of us know all of this already and yet have had to live with it for decades - it's nice to read a fresh take on the matter however. Good job Don Marco!

(When I left the novitiate at the Trappists, one of the most difficult adjustments for me were the liturgical goings on in the various parishes I attended Mass.)

Devil on my shoulder?


Pictured: Botero - "Self-Portrait On My First Communion Day."

I was told that I probably had the devil on my shoulder when I wrote critically about the dress company selling modest dresses. The now unnamed website feels their clothes are fashionable, yet modest, for girls. I've been told numerous times the post was not nice. (Check out "Fashion Week...") The fellow who showed the line to me also said he wished he had not. So do I.

A few days ago I was told I'm going to purgatory for thousands of years for the Warhol post. Others say hell.

So let them sell "Little House on the Prairie" fashions - if they believe in it, how does my opinion count? So what?

I also covered the woman's breast on the Warhol photo for that post.

Inquisition anyone?

St's Cosmas and Damien


The Holy Helpers.

The two physician saints are depicted here in one of their most famous posthumous miracles. They replaced the diseased leg of a man with the leg of another man who had died. It was obviously from a man of color. Hence, the worlds first leg transplant...probably not so astonishing for self-sufficient moderns, who have become accustomed to transplant surgeries. If you are going in for a transplant, I think I would pray to these two saints if I were you. If you're waiting for a transplant, all the more reason to invoke their assistance.

Go to Don Marco's site, "Vultus Christi" for everything you want to know about these two saints.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The blessed Pope, John Paul I


I read with joy that the Holy Father's cause is progressing well. He was like a shooting star, having reigned for only a month. He humbly combined his predecessor's names to become the first pope in history with a double name. By this act he demonstrated to the world and the Church that the Vatican Council was indeed an authentic council and the papacy would continue the reforms initiated there. John Paul II proved likewise.

Such a short reign, marked by extraordinary humility and charity - you see this in his face. Pray for us John Paul I as we prepare for the anniversary of your death, pray for unity within the Church. (JPI's anniversary of death is September 28 - he died in 1978.)

Here is the article:

"Rome, Sep. 25 (CWNews.com) - The diocesan investigation into the cause for beatification of Pope John Paul I is nearing its conclusion, 28 years after the death of "the smiling Pope."

Thursday, September 28 will mark the anniversary of the sudden death of Pope John Paul I, who had succeeded Pope Paul VI just 33 days earlier. According to an official responsible for the cause, the diocesan inquiry will come to an end within a few more weeks.

Ordinarily, the local investigation of a cause for beatification begins in the diocese where the candidate died. But in this case, for a variety of reasons-- including the fact that Pope John Paul I had spent so little time as Bishop of Rome-- the inquiry was begun in the Belluno diocese, where Albino Luciani was born in 1912. According to Msgr. Giorgio Lise, a vice-postulator for the cause, the diocesan inquiry is likely to conclude by the feast of St. Martin, the patron of the Belluno diocese, on November 11." [snip] continued

Too funny!


Liza Minnelli - LOL!

I don't believe there has been anyone more amusing since Tammy Faye Baker.

The judge in the civil case brought against Liza by her soon to be ex-husband David Gest, with his claims of spousal abuse - naming Minnelli as the perpetrator, has now ruled in Liza's favor. He threw the case out. The divorce may now proceed.

Michael Jackson introduced the two, and he and Elizabeth Taylor were maids of honor at their wedding. It so should be made into a movie or something.

Go here if you're at all interested.

St. Sergius of Radonezh


Monk and mystic - friend of animals.


My favorite saint from the Russian calendar. He founded, if my memory serves me, the famous Monastery of the Holy Trinity near Moscow, along with a couple of others as well. He had frequent apparitions of the Mother of God, lived the ascetic life most perfectly, and had the animals of the forest, including bears, eating out of his hands. He is like the St. Francis of the Russian Orthodox Church. September 25 is his feast day. He died in 1392.


Viit here for details on his life.

"There you go again." - Ronald Reagan


I thought of that quote from Reagan after reading about Mel Gibson's criticism of the war in Iraq. A war no one wants, or likes, but is connected to the war on terrorism, just as much as the war against Nazi Germany and Japan were connected in the mid 20th century.

I find it curious that Mel is so vocal about the "human sacrifice" our Country is committing by sending our young men to fight in Iraq, and connecting that to the Mayan cult of human sacrifice. This country has been committing human sacrifice for decades with the legalization of abortion. Gibson knows that. I did not see it mentioned in the news reports I read of him promoting this new movie of his, nor in his calling for a new movie against the war.

One just cannot help but wonder, now that Disney will release his film, "Apocalypto," if Mel isn't doing some PR work on his own to overcome the scandal in a teapot he created with his drunken remarks about Jews a few months back. Hollywood is overwhelmingly against Bush and the war, is he playing into their hands looking for reconciliation? Or is he just promoting his film? Here is a snip of the article concerning his latest statements:

"LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Mel Gibson has returned to the spotlight to promote his upcoming movie "Apocalypto," and to criticize the war in Iraq, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Almost two months after he railed against Jews when he was arrested for driving drunk in Malibu, the actor made a surprise appearance Friday at Fantastic Fest, an event in Austin, Texas, devoted to new science fiction, horror and fantasy films, the trade paper said in its Monday edition.

He presented a work-in-progress screening of his Mayan adventure tale, and then took questions. About one-third of the full house gathered for the film gave him a standing ovation. The film is scheduled for a December 8 release via Disney.

In describing its portrait of a civilization in decline, Gibson said, "The precursors to a civilization that's going under are the same, time and time again," drawing parallels between the Mayan civilization on the brink of collapse and America's present situation. "What's human sacrifice," he asked, "if not sending guys off to Iraq for no reason?"" [snip]

Never trust Hollywood. Perhaps one other sign of our decline is that the public is so willing to esteem the opinion of entertainers over those more qualified voices who have long warned of 'the death of the West'. It should be obvious to every thinking person that our civilization has been in decline for quite some time, since the legalization of abortion, to be sure. The war is less a sign of the decline as it is an effort to salvage, and maybe protect what is left. The signs of our decline are manifold; first and foremost is the acceptance and promotion of infanticide/abortion, child pornography, along with the sexual exploitation and abuse of children, our open-ended consideration of euthanasia, rape, murder, drug and alcohol abuse, prescription drugs for the depression epidemic in our country, divorce, illegitimate children, domestic abuse, homosexuality, and so on. The list is a long one. Not to mention the trash that comes out of Hollywood - some of it Gibson's.

Katherine Hepburn said it best when in an interview, after being asked what she thought of the Hollywood film community, "Pigs. They are all pigs."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

This modesty thing...


It's taking on a life of it's own!

My post on Warhol, with the picture from "The Factory" drew a few comments - via email. Some people were concerned about the nudity. One of the characters has a breast exposed. As an artist - an old one now - I don't eroticize or objectify the human body. I'll admit for a time I avoided life studies in my youth because I had - I was late teens, early twenties. I had to get over it - impure thoughts emanate from the heart. To be sure, pornography, along with our adolescent, obsessive-compulsive sexualized culture influences that, while at the same time ensnares the passions. Pornography, soft or hard core, has destroyed our sensibilities. My recent posts and the emails I received have raised the question however, why is the female breast eroticized? Are men's pecs eroticized? I just don't get it.

Throughout the history of art the human body has been celebrated for it's beauty. We have lovely images of the Madonna nursing the Infant Jesus. This one attributed to Da Vinci is particularly tender, chaste, and lovely...yet they all are. I do not even object to a mother nursing in public - it is so not a sexual act. To think so is diabolical, anti-woman, anti-child, -anti-life. Being a prude is not a virtue.

A man who works in our warehouse once shielded his eyes from a metal bas-relief of a similar image of the Madonna. I don't get it. I have had customers complain of an antique retablo of the Virgin of the Milk we have for sale - a classic Ecuadorian image of devotion. Another person complained of an image we sold of a detail of the Sistine Chapel of one of the allegorical figures nursing a child.

It has got to be the exaggerated American fixation on the breasts of women, the larger the better. There are even restaurants named after them. Radio talk shows, shock jocks, continually talk about them. It is totally absurd. It's offensive to women. While some women go in for breast enhancement surgery, falling for the vain joy men are attracted to. Regardless of the morality involved, it is just dumb, teenage, adolescent - stupid. Ah! Dorky! (Now the word fits!)

It is such a strange culture we live in. I don't think I'll know where to look anymore when speaking to women, especially those who wear printed t-shirts or medals hanging over their breasts, or low cut dresses. C'mon guys - grow up - she ain't yo' mama!


Granted, the woman in the Factory photo is not nursing,
however the image remains innocuous - it is emblematic of the decadence, albeit adolescent, of the Warhol milieu. As it stands, it is art - not pornography, no more than Caravaggio's painting of the Madonna of the Rosary with an old man sucking the breast of a maid - shown here. (Oh! Maybe this breast thing isn't just a 20th century American male thing?)




It's just a breast. Learn to think of it as a feeding tube if it's so troubling. This extraordinary self consciousness of women about their breasts, influenced, in part by men's lust, keeps many back from even inspecting them for breast cancer or going for mammograms, things that could save their lives. Guys, get over the obsession.

Dr. Seuss


He invented the word 'nerd'. I never knew that. I didn't like Dr. Seuss as a kid because I early on developed a taste for fine art, therefore cartoons held no fascination for me. I always read the stories of saints and rarely anything else - well maybe Greek mythology and Grimm's Fairy Tales - but that is about it.

Now as an adult I like Dr. Seuss and the Simpson's.

So he invented 'nerd'. What is the origin of the word 'dork'? I'll look that up. What if it says, 'Terry Nelson'?

Our Lady of Ransom


Or, Our Lady of Mercy.

Today's feast of Our Lady is primarily celebrated in South American countries and in Spain. It is the titular feast of the order of friars known as the Mercedarians, founded by St. Peter Nolasco. St. Raymond Nonnatus was also a member of this order, founded to ransom Catholic slaves held captive by Muslims.

Unlike today, when there is no bargaining with terrorists, in those days ransom would be paid to free those held captive. St. Raymond exchanged himself for such and was enslaved for a time. The Saracens pierced his lips with a padlock to prevent him from speaking about the Catholic faith. He himself was later ransomed by his fellow Mercedarians.

Things do not seem to have changed much with Muslim-Christian relations have they? The Holy Father meets with Muslim leaders tomorrow. Let's pray Our Lady to guide this meeting.

During the English persecutions under the reign of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, devotion to Our Lady of Ransom took on greater fervor in the hopes of bringing the Church of England back into "Our Lady's Dowry".

In our day, aside from the continued threats of terrorism, our culture is faced with many other moral afflictions, such as addictions to vice and various obsessive-compulsive disorders. Our Lady of Ransom would seem to be the title one could implore Our Lady to obtain freedom from those sins that ensnare us.

Sunday supplement on modest fashions...


There are modest fashions available. Check the web. A woman can find modest fashions that do not look like Pollyanna or some gypsy fortune teller. I found them.

1st photo: Ralph Lauren, Spring 2006

But if someone is serious about modest fashions, go into design. Study fashion design - go to school. Educate your taste. Go back to the earlier designers; Chanel, Balenciaga, Dior, Givenchy, Blass, and research what was classic in their designs and update it. Fashion is nothing but older looks updated and recycled. Be creative. What I have seen on modesty fashion sites is awful.

I have some photos here of modest fashions. Is the skirt too short? Lengthen it. The neckline too low? Wear a shell or a scarf. There is nothing wrong with these clothes. The mistake many women and girls make is they go after trend instead of classics - or sometimes worse, they go after "cute" - only babies and little kids are cute. There is no reason to look dowdy. If you don't have taste, get advice. If you can't afford designer, learn to sew. But don't dress like a frump.




2nd photo: Ralph Laren, Fall 2006

Could she be any more covered?













3rd photo: Ralph Lauren, Fall 2006

What could be more modest except maybe a burka?














4th photo: Balenciaga, Spring 2006.


This dress is modest, simple,
clean, no silly frillies.
(Lengthen the skirt if it's too short.)



There are indeed modest styles out there - search the web. Granted, the above examples may be for women instead of girls, but they are examples. Ray, of Stella Borealis found this site from Regnum Christi - not exactly high fashion, but it's contemporary, and as I told him, it doesn't look like "Little House On The Prairie".