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, January 02, 2010

Squirrel-cam...


The Christmas truce is almost over.
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Liturgically Christmas season is over after Epiphany, or is it after the Baptism of the Lord?  Yeah, I think that  is it - because Ordinary Time commences right after.  (I wish they hadn't tampered with the calendar.)  Anyway, I've observed a sort of Christmas truce this holiday season and I've been pretty decent with my blog posts, don't you think?  (I took down a Michelle Bachmann slam-bam post.  She's a local politician - "very pretty, very nice" as Mrs. Dubcek would say.) 
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Blogging is boring during the holidays anyway - people are busy.  They get all involved with family things and alcohol and drug relapses, returning unwanted gifts,  and stuff like that.  Just this morning I noted how another blogger had nothing to blog about so she wrote about ten pages of stuff.  A post about nothing.  This blogging thing is a trap however - we can start thinking we are important, really important - and we tell everything about ourselves, and sometimes even post our blogposts year in review - because we are so important.  (I'm lumping myself in with this critique you know.) 
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My uncle, a recovered alcoholic for like 40 years likes to tell people, especially when signing his Christmas letters, "You are important!"  Very nice, very pretty - but I'm not sure one should take that literally, or at least not to the extent one's vanity would have one do. 
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That said, I believe I mentioned a few months ago that I got some video equipment - I was threatening to do some online talk shows - because I think I'm so darn funny - it worked for Angela.  But now I decided against it.  Today I watched one blogger's series of videos, mostly just to see if that is what he really looks like - it was him.  I'm guessing he got it for Xmas.  I dunno - he appears normal - but that is about it - he rants.  (Unlike Father, I'm not naming names here.  I don't think Father did a Christmas truce.)  Anyway - so now I'm convinced I maybe should sell my equipment and forget the video route all together.  I was laughing at the other blogger's video - but I'm afraid viewers would not laugh at mine, even though my productions would be intended to be funny.
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Of course I could always do squirrel-cam - like Father - he feeds birds, as do I, but the squirrels eat most of it.  So I think I'll forget about that one too.  I don't want to go online begging for donations to feed wild life and travel and stuff.
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Nevertheless, I can still dream about it.  If only I had the Merv Griffin set from Seinfeld - I could maybe even invite people over to be on the show.  Or not.
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Photo:  9 ladies dancing - upstairs - sweatin' to the oldies.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Nine Ladies Dancing - Ninth Day of Christmas

Bet you thought the song was over, huh? (I've always hated the Twelve Days of Christmas too.)

Father De Cock


On homosexual love...
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Fr. De Cock (I know!) just received his doctorate at Catholic University of Louvain with a work "Touched to Love. An Attempt at a Theological Anthropology of the Body and Homosexuality."
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Sounds to me like it could be another twist(ed) attempt in the ongoing interpretation of Theology of the Body.
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New Catholic at Rorate Caeli has the story

Credo



Peter Martyr.
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Peter (of Verona) is my middle name - hyphenated to my baptismal name James (Santiago) at confirmation (7th grade).  I chose Peter because he wrote Credo in his own blood as he was dying.  I couldn't imagine anything more heroic, manly, or true. 
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I believe what the Roman Catholic Church teaches and approves.

Art:  Saint Peter of Verona. One of the first Dominicans.  He was martyred by having an axe thrust into his head. Whilst dying, he used his own blood to write "Credo in Unum Deum" on the ground - "I believe in One God".  His feast day is April 29th.

Credo in unum Deum

Credo in Unum Deum

Eight Maids-a-milkin'


Yeah, not so much...
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Now days we have soy milk.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Cardinal Schönborn in Medjugorje


It is supposed to be a private visit - but it sure makes me wonder.  I would love to believe the apparitions are true - I would love to believe.  I watched a video of Jakov in his annual apparition - I would so love to believe. 
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Alas, I must live in solitude and silence and darkness.  God have mercy upon me a sinner.
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I await the decision of the Church.
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Link:
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Cardinal Schönborn speaks in Medjugorje

Some thoughts on the last day of the year 2009.


Moonstruck.
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I came across a letter from a monk friend of mine - it was written 20 years ago.  I have letters - important letters - all over the house; in books, in folios, in drawers, in journals, in sketchbooks, in boxes - all over the place.  Fr. Tom's letter was interesting, deeply moving really.  I lost contact with him after a letter to the editor at NCR I had written several years ago had been published.  The letter was about a monk who had died young.  Without going into detail - the letter was misunderstood by the monks and I defended myself wretchedly and contemptuously - albeit apologizing shortly after.  I've always been something of a hot-head.  Eventually - mostly out of embarrassment - I just stopped writing or visiting.  (Things I say and write are often misunderstood, as my long time readers can attest.)

The interesting aspect of Father's letter was that in 1989 I evidently was still discerning - that is, considering religious life - 13 years after I had left monastic life, having lived in a Carmelite novitiate, a Trappist novitiate, a Carthusian lay-brother's cell for a month, and visiting numerous abbeys and convents in Italy, France, and Spain.  I had even been professed in Assisi as a Third Order Franciscan, yet in 1989 I was invited to join the Secular Discalced Carmelites - while still wondering if I should be a Carthusian.
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Obviously I wanted to belong somewhere, to be someone or something.  Titles and letters of association behind a name, a habit - such things can become a type of status-symbol for people like me.  (I'm just talking about me here.)  I was looking outside of myself however, looking outside of my reality... learning much in the process of course.  But I wasted a lot of time in what most people today refer to as discernment - I spent years doing that - which is why I can at times adopt a rather imperious tone regarding others who seem to constantly spin their wheels anguishing over vocation.  I mean no harm, I would simply like to somehow relieve their anguish so they could get on with their lives.  Yet each life is a journey, each person's sanctification is a process - oftentimes very painful at that.
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Anyway, Fr. Tom patiently wrote to me with kind advice and suggestions - appearing to be speculating with me.  (In fact - good spiritual direction is often that - not dictating behavior.)  Fr. Tom always seemed to know I was meant to be doing exactly what I was doing - except my worrying about a vocation was distracting me from the present moment - the reality that I was already in the will of God - just as I am in this moment.  A line from his letter impressed me deeply, and affirmed what I've come to understand about my state in life;  "... You will find, as did Catherine of Genoa, that associations do not help you, and it is better for you to be alone.  Only experience will tell you what is best for you."
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There is another amazing paragraph in his letter as well.  I had mentioned to him one of my confessions - what a priest told me.  The priest was an ancient Jesuit - he had to be about 90 years old.  Fr. Andrew had been a missionary in China before the revolution.  He had been in Japan too.  He was a classic Jesuit - very holy.  I went to confession to him regularly at St. Olaf's.
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I was struggling with a particular sin - and so I was confessing pretty much the same thing over and over - at the time I was going to confession 3 or 4 times a week.  One particular confession Fr. Andrew stopped speaking abruptly, looked up as if lost in thought, then he looked at me and said, "Yes.  Yes, I think you will make it."  I asked him what he meant, and he said, "You are going to overcome this."
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Evidently I wrote to Fr. Tom about it and he responded; "Your meeting Fr. Andrew at St. Olaf's was certainly a signal grace.  Like him, I too sense that sooner or later your problems will disappear, or at least not be as intense.  I have known others who struggle for years and then one day the grace is there if they want to accept it.  As Julian of Norwich said, 'All will be well.'"
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That actually happened, suddenly at adoration just over 10 years ago.
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I write this - I don't know why - maybe someone can be encouraged?  Maybe just to praise and thank the Mercy of God.  I'm not sure.
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Keep praying and seeking the will of God - even if you fail every hour - keep trying.  In the end, "All will be well."
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Photo:  "The full moon setting over the west ridge this morning after Lauds." - Our Lady of Spring Bank Abbey, Br. Stephen, O. Cist.   Thanksgiving, prayers and heartfelt best wishes for Stephen - he recently made first profession.
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If you really want to be edified - visit New Liturgical Movement - particularly Shawn Tribe's post on Monasticism.

Zibn Schvans



Oy!  Looks like they kilt one!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Please pray for our soldiers in Afghanistan.


Eight Americans were killed today, as were 5 Canadians...  Please pray for the soldiers and for the families of these men and women; one can only imagine the sacrifice and suffering these people endure.
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Photo credit:  People chant anti-American slogans and burn an effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama in Jalalabad, south Afghanistan, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009., during a protest against the recent killings of 10 civilians allegedly by the coalition forces in Kunar province, eight of them boys aged between 12 and 14. A NATO official said initial reports from troops involved in the fighting on Sunday indicated that the victims were insurgents. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Six Geese A-Laying? C'mon!


Christmastide or not - I need to get back to my day of recollection (penance) - so I'll be off line today - maybe.
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But I will mention this...  I discovered Nancy Pelosi is a theologian after all!  The woman appears to know traditional Catholic Church teaching rather well. 
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Mrs. Pelosi admitted, "I have some concerns about the Church's position respecting a woman's right to choose.  I am a practicing Catholic, although they're probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith."  The Speaker affirmed, yet lamenting, "I practically mourn this difference of opinion [pro-choice vs. pro-life] because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions," she continues. "And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will." - Story
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Sadly, Mrs. Pelosi neglects to acknowledge the consequences of such choices.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

He walked in peace through the midst of them. - Luke 4:30


The perfect joy of Pope Benedict.
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"Christ walked in peace through the midst of them" after the townsfolk dragged him to the edge of town with the intention of throwing him over the hill.  The assault upon the Holy Father Christmas Eve, and his remarkable composure afterwards, reminds me of this gospel passage.  The obvious peace and recollection the Holy Father exhibited seems to reveal the depth of his spirituality and his profound humility - in fact, maybe even a heroic charity.  Which indicates a preparedness for martyrdom.
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I like to imagine the incident was the source of perfect joy for the Holy Father this Christmas.  
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"'Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ. For we cannot glory in all those other marvelous gifts of God, as they are not ours but God's, as the Apostle says: 'What have you that you have not received?' But we can glory in the cross of tribulations and afflictions, because that is ours, and so the Apostle says: 'I will not glory save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.'" - Little Flowers of St. Francis

Fifth day of Christmas.


I can't think of anything controversial - 5 golden rings?  Cash value please.  Oh - well maybe I got something - I drank a fifth of Tequila last night.  (I'm so kidding...  or am I?)
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Photo:  Woman on the beach in Malta...  Hey did Kat post Malta Monday?  I didn't think so - well here she is.  Oh I know!  If she ever moves there I hope she brings a private confessor.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Back by popular demand: Learn disco - the easy way.

Cath and I will be giving lessons New Year's Eve day at Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul from 9 AM to 3 PM. Box lunch available. BYOB.

Antiquities at Loome's



One of the proprietors of Loome Theological Booksellers in Stillwater sent me these photos of two icons they acquired in an estate/library sale. He hoped I could tell him something about them, thinking at first they could even be Latin American. Most people are familiar with Greek and Russian iconography, and therefore regional styles sometimes confuse even the experts. I recognized immediately these were Balkan in origin, at first believing they were Bulgarian. I've since determined they are Serbian and or possibly Wallachian. I believe they are 18th century, possibly early 19th century. The wood panels measure approximately 7" x 10". I would expect they are tempera and gold leaf. If you are interested in purchasing, contact Loome's for more information: http://www.loomebooks.com/   They also have a blog: Ex Libris Theologicis - You still have time to purchase your gifts for Epiphany/Twelfth Night!  (The icon of Christ Enthroned is a gem BTW!)
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Merry Christmas!
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Christmastide - the new penitential season.



And other thoughts of course...
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Post-Christmas diets.  If you work in an office or are amongst people anywhere after Christmas Day, you will most certainly hear people complaining of how much they ate, drank, and all the weight they gained.  See - that's just so odd, foolish virgin talk - they pigged out all through Advent and are doing their penance during the most wonderful time of the year.
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Holy day and Sunday obligations.  Remember a few days - weeks ago - I know, it's all a blurr, but I wrote on how some pastors and religious writers cannot bear to suggest attending Mass on Sundays and Holy days is actually an obligation.  They prefer to believe that people will attend because they want to, out of devotion and religious fervor.  That's so sweet!  Anyway - many protestant sects, as well as the Obamas, are not obligated to attend church on Christmas, and they don't.  Just sayin' Johann - that argument is shot to hell isn't it.
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Christmas songs recorded by popular singers.  They shouldn't ever be played.  I was in several stores last week and the very worst Christmas songs I ever heard were played over the sound system.  One by Willie Nelson that sounded like some old drunk singing in a bar.  The other, "Ave Maria" sung by Stevie Wonder.  Horrible.  It was just horrible.  Now you know why unbelievers want Christmas eliminated from the public square.
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Kids in Santa hats.  Did you know moms put baby girls in baby wigs now?  I didn't - but I saw a lot of baby girls in Santa hats at Mass on Christmas.  So anyway.  I went to the Children's Mass Christmas Eve.  It was wild - but I wanted to go early because we were having a big snow storm and I did not want to go out later or go out the next day.  I saw the Griswolds there - really, about 100 families of them.  I also noticed many 2 parent professional families with multi-national children - obviously adopted.  I could tell the women were professional because they wore suits, and the children were obviously from other countries because they  looked entirely different from the parents.  (Nothing wrong with that.)  The parish I attend is rather affluent - I mention that because it is very expensive to adopt.  Believe me, I think it is wonderful to adopt; children from the U.S. or elsewhere - I also know it's hard to get babies, unless you adopt from other countries.  I know a little about the process from friends who adopted, I also know there are many reasons people adopt, and so on.  So what's my point?  I'm not sure.

"Lunch under the bridge"...


That post title made me think of homeless people living under a bridge.
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It's estimated that 3,000 homeless people, including kids, are sleeping in church basements, shelters and under bridges, mostly in and around downtown Minneapolis. - StarTribune
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A group that assists the homeless and tries to provide a place for them to go for help is trying to raise funds for Chinese food sleeping bags and tents to help the homeless weather the winter in the downtown areas - because there is no room in the shelters.  Story here.
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So.  "How was Christmas?"  I know! - I took that question from the other blog too.  You and I know  Christmas is not yet over - right?  My goodness - it is only the Fourth Day of Christmas after all... you know, four gospels calling...

Holy Innocents


Pieter Brueghel the Elder c.1530 - 1569.




The Murder of the Holy Innocents.
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In 1566, Brueghel painted the scene in contemporary terms.  In the 1930's numerous images emerged from the Nazi death camps which could be titled thus.  How would an artist paint this scene today?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nativity


Jeffrey has assembled quite a collection of beautiful Nativities for our meditation.  Visit him here.  The example shown above by Johann Koerbecke is charming in that it shows the angels nearly as little as the Bambino.  Angels can be quite tiny you know... perhaps as small as a twinkle...

Start spreading the news...


The new Bishop Sheen?  The new Loretta Young?
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Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today




I want to be a part of it - New York, New York


These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray


Right through the very heart of it - New York,


New York






I wanna wake up in a city, that doesn’t sleep


And find I’m king of the hill - top of the heap






These little town blues, are melting away


I’ll make a brand new start of it - in old New


York


If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere


It’s up to you - New York, New York






New york, New York


I want to wake up in a city, that never sleeps


And find I’m a number one top of the list, king


of the hill


A number one






These little town blues, are melting away


I’m gonna make a brand new start of it - in old


New York


And if I can make it there, I’m gonna make it


anywhere






It up to you - New York New York






New York...
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I know...  I know!
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Something is going on!
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Three French hens or Chinese duck for supper... I'm not really sure... he is very theatrical you know.