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 04, 2010

PSA


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Good night Poodle!

Donations and earning a living.


You better work.
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St. Paul boasted that he earned his living by the work of his hands, telling the Corinthians in today's first reading at Mass, "We work hard at manual labor."  Indeed, this is what monastics do, and why contemplative monasteries generally have a specialized work from which they earn their living and sustain themselves.  Some farm or raise cattle, some roast coffee, some make candy, some make vestments and sacred art, some make coffins, and so on.  On the other hand, some online ministers have a wish list and a paypal app... while poor monks go hungry.  With St. Paul the poor monks might say, "We are fools on Christ's account.  Ah, but in Christ you are wise!  We are the weak ones, you the strong!  They honor you while they sneer at us!"  - 1 Cor 4: 9-14   Well, maybe it is not that bad.
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Just this last month I was hit with large auto repair bills ($1500-), hospital bills for my cat - I won't tell you how much, and the house insurance went up 31%.  So I am thinking of selling off some art and antiques just to live.  Believe me, I know what it is to go without in the 'great recession'.  But this isn't about me.
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Work it.
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So - aside from donations, how can a group of hermits earn their living?
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Writing icons and teaching iconography is a good start - but unless an artist makes prints and reproductions - affordably - and has a market for his or her work, art isn't always that lucrative.  At best it is mostly supplemental.

  • Coffee has been done - but competition never hurts either.  I drink Louisiana coffee and chicory - I know of only two brands available - so...  That angle might be a good one.  Chicory gives the coffee a full bodied taste, sometimes reminiscent of a slight bittersweet cocoa.  I love it and drink two pots a day.
  • Another venue could be tea - tea is huge.  Imagine monastery tea?  I like it.  Tea has a contemplative image too.
  • I thought of marijuana but realized that wouldn't be legal to produce... unless medical marijuana gets legalized.  What?
  • Candy and cookies and breads of course - but that stuff is so perishable.  Although no one makes marzipan - imagine marzipan pigs and St. Nick's at Christmas - some with chocolate covering too.
  • My big idea however is micro brews - featuring monks or nuns drinking - pictured on a cool European style label.  Home made brews are big - and maybe not so hard to make.  Same with home distilleries - they are popping up around the country.  I think a cool monkberry vodka could be a big seller.
  • Clothing - how about making monk-style work shirts?  European chefs and kitchen workers once wore a sort of linen blouson big shirt, with a button-down hood attached - it could be belted as well.  I wore one when I travelled across southern Europe as a pilgrim.  (Think of cutting off a cowl to make a shirt.)  Also monk neck rings and scarves and hats - made out of fleece - with an embroidered crest.  Cheap and easy to produce and warm.  I prefer a neck ring to a scarf anyway.
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So there you have it - some of my ideas for monks and nuns to be self-sufficient.  Any other suggestions?
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St. Hildegard of Bingen



Speaking of the medieval German mystic and her gifts, Pope Benedict noted:
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This is, dear friends, the seal of an authentic experience of the Holy Spirit, source of every charism: The receiver of supernatural gifts never boasts, does not exhibit them and, above all, shows total obedience to ecclesial authority. Every gift distributed by the Holy Spirit, in fact, is destined for the edification of the Church, and the Church, through her pastors, recognises their authenticity. - Idle Speculations has the full text.
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Trivia:
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At one time, St. Hildegard was especially loved by New Age spiritual types.  I've always thought she could be a special patroness of binge drinkers - due to her title, von Bingen.  Did you know many medieval ascetics fasted on beer and bread?  And some think that a specific mold growing on the stale bread could have induced LSD type hallucinations, which might have been mistaken for mystical experiences.  (Or was it the beer?) 
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Oh!  To have lived back then.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Trappist simplicity.


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Architect John Pawson designed the abbey church shown in this video.   

The main difference between a mendicant friar and a monk.


Stability.
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Friars or mendicants professed poverty and did not possess property.  Later on the orders did own property communally.  Nevertheless, the friars were free to move about outside cloister and evangelize or teach or work in an apostolate.  Though they were assigned to different friaries or convents, they did not promise stability to a particular place.  Originally mendicants lived on alms and the generosity of the faithful. 
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Monks and hermits on the other hand are characterized by their stability in one monastery, abbey, priory, or hermitage.  The particular congregation or community usually maintains ownership of their property and are generally self-governing and self-sufficient.
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I think that's about it - if I missed anything, feel free to add to it.
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Oh!  Oh!  BTW - If you are a young man and thinking about monastic life, try entering a monastery in Europe where they make beer...  It may be more comforting than coffee during dark nights.  ;)

Of the world’s 171 Trappist monasteries seven produce beer (six in Belgium and one in The Netherlands).
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What's a Carmelite?


More on the Carmelite-Cowboy Mountain project.
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Controversy surrounded the Teresian reform all over Spain in the early days.  Whenever St. Teresa set out to establish a new foundation lawsuits were filed right and left, and she was roundly denounced to the local bishop, the governor, and at least once, to the Inquisition.  "When you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials."  I doubt the obstacles the Carmelite monks in Wyoming are facing are as bad as all of that - and if it is - good for them - it just might be the right sign it is God's will.  (BTW - St. Teresa never referred to her opponents as liberals and anti-Catholics - instead she recognized it was the devil who tried to block the establishment of houses of prayer.  These days Catholics seem to prefer to demonize people, rather than acknowledge the other.)
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Canonically, Carmelite men are not monks - they are friars.
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I was told that when I was in the OCD novitiate.  The Fathers did not want any mix up - they were not nuns and they were suspicious of men who wanted to live like nuns.  John of the Cross, who desired to be a Carthusian, was persuaded by Teresa to join her in the reform.  He reformed the friars.  Friars are mendicants - like the Franciscans, Dominicans, Servites, etc..  They may live in monasteries or convents, and live the contemplative life, but they also have outside ministries - they are not monks.  Canonically established Carmelite men engage in an active apostolate and mission work.  Carmel, California was named by Carmelite missionaries in honor of Our lady of Mt. Carmel before Bl. Fr, Serra arrived.
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Deserts
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In the OCD (Discalced Carmelite) tradition - especially in Spain - strict contemplative monasteries existed and were called deserts - they were established as houses of recollection for the spiritual renewal of the friars.  For the most part, the personnel rotated and did not take up permanent abode in these refuges.  Thus we see, the strictly hermetical tradition was not the regular observance for Carmelite men.  It is believed even the first hermits on Mt. Carmel exercised some sort of an active apostolate.
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The Carmelite Monks in Wyoming are not attached to either canonically established Carmelite Orders - OCD or O.Carm..  They are an innovation in Carmelite spirituality - which is likely why they call themselves Carmelite Monks.  Obviously they have the permission of their bishop to observe the life they do.  That could change of course, at the discretion of the bishop and the need of the local Church. 
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The prior in Wyoming began his religious life in the archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, at the Carmel of the Blessed Virgin.  Fr. Daniel studied for the priesthood and was ordained in this place.  At some point, possibly in order to secure their way of life and avoid outside assignments by the local ordinary, the prior of the hermitage here in Minnesota incorporated into the O. Carm. or Carmelites of the Primitive Observance.  (Students of the Teresian reform sometimes harbor a few of the old prejudices against the O.Carm., but in reality, there is not a great deal of difference between the O.Carm. and the OCD of today.)
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That said, it is my understanding this may have sparked Fr. Daniel's move back to Wyoming to establish a  more strictly observant hermitage.  (I could have been misinformed on that point however - so don't hold me to it.)  From what I see on the video, their observance is very much based upon that of strictly enclosed OCD nuns, while their new direction - the proposed monumental monastic project, seems more Carthusian than Carmelite - but I'm only making an educated observation here - I have no direct knowledge of their constitutions.  Regardless of outside opinion, the group is approved by their local ordinary and it is a legitimate community and in good standing in the Church.
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As a new religious group following a Carmelite rule, the innovation of strict enclosure for men may be very appealing to a select set of guys seeking monastic life.  If I was younger, I would certainly be attracted to the Wyoming group.  It is what I was looking for as a young man when I entered the OCD Fathers - which is why they had to explain to me, "We are NOT monks, nor are we like the nuns."  In fact - the authentic Carmelite vocation is essentially communal - both for the men and women.
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Just a comment:  I have to say that some Catholics seem eager to approve and promote anything that looks traditional, and jump to conclusions and condemn anyone who questions ventures such as the proposed mega-complex in Wyoming.  Some of the comments on Fr. Z's post on the Mystic Monks demonstrate what I am saying. 
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That's all on this matter.  Talk amongst yourselves.
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Links:
Discalced Carmelite Fathers
Carmelite Hermit Communities (O. Carm.)
Carmelites Worldwide
Carmelite Website - O. Carm.
Carmelite Monks

Teresa of Avila on Poor Monasteries


Our arms are holy poverty, which was so greatly esteemed and so strictly observed by our holy Fathers at the beginning of the foundation of our Order. - Teresa of Avila

"It seems very wrong, my daughters, that great houses should be built with the money of the poor; may God forbid that this should be done; let our houses be small and poor in every way. Let us to some extent resemble our King, Who had no house save the porch in Bethlehem where He was born and the Cross on which He died. These were houses where little comfort could be found.
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Those who erect large houses will no doubt have good reasons for doing so. I do not utterly condemn them: they are moved by various holy intentions. But any corner is sufficient for thirteen poor women. If grounds should be thought necessary on account of the strictness of the enclosure, and also as an aid to prayer and devotion, and because our miserable nature needs such things, well and good; and let there be a few hermitages in them in which the sisters may go to pray. But as for a large ornate convent, with a lot of buildings -- God preserve us from that! Always remember that these things will all fall down on the Day of Judgment, and who knows how soon that will be?" - Way of Perfection

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Our Lady of Hermits

Art credit.

Cowboy Carmelites.



The dispute over Carmelite mountain.
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I can't recall where, but St. Teresa of Avila once stated she wanted her monasteries to be poor and not great monuments which would made a big noise as they tumbled down at the end of the world.  That isn't an exact quote of course, and someone can correct it if they wish, but I've made my point.

Though filled with admiration for the Wyoming Carmelite hermits, I myself wondered about their ambitious plans to build a huge, Gothic style monastic complex in the middle of pristine Wyoming ranch country.  Why so monumental?  When the Trappists first went to Snowmass in Colorado, they built a modest little monastery, and it has remained modest.  When John of the Cross established the first foundation for men of the reform in Duruelo, they had ramshackled quarters at best.  Presently, the hermits in Wyoming have a very nice monastery - primitive, but much nicer than what a lot of people with little means might own or live in.  I'm not criticizing - just making an observation.
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As it turns out, neighbors of the monks are making observations as well, and they are concerned...
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The New Mount Carmel of America
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Planners in Park County are reviewing plans for a residence unlike any other in the Rocky Mountains — a 145,000-square-foot French Gothic-style monastery.
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In a series of public meetings and private gatherings, debate about the project has touched on a wide range of hot-button issues, including land planning, taxes, traditional Western ranching and even religious freedom.
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The stone monastery, to be built in a style dating back centuries, would house 40 men who are members of the Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, a federally recognized religious order operating under the auspices of the Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne.
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Called The New Mount Carmel of America, the monastery would be built on the 2,500-acre Elk Meadow Ranch, traditionally used for raising cattle and sheep. The property, on Meeteetse Creek Road, is about seven miles from the nearest neighbor and 14 miles from Highway 120.
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Some residents and neighbors have asked why the monks, who have resided for years in much smaller buildings in Clark, are seeking to build such an elaborate and sprawling structure near Meeteetse.
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“I’m sorry the architecture is what it is. According to monasticism, we have to stick to our architecture,” said Father Daniel Schneider, prior of the 16-member monastery in Clark, who has taken the name Daniel Mary since becoming a monk.  “It is what it is. It has to be fitting to God because it’s God’s dwelling place, too,” he said during the hearing.  He said the public would be allowed to attend services or make confessions at the monastery daily between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., and that the monks would neither seek to attract visitors nor turn them away. - Billings Gazette
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Monastic institutes and customs...
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If it is God's will, I'm sure everything will go according to plan.  I'm not sure Father's defense is accurate however:  "According to monasticism, we have to stick to our architecture."  I never heard of that rule.  Perhaps he was misquoted.
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As for accepting visitors, that would be in keeping with monastic custom.  I did visit the hermitage where Fr. Daniel resided when he lived in Minnesota.  I stopped by to introduce the Postulator for the cause of Ven. Matt Talbot to the Fr. Prior, only to learn he was away preaching a retreat at the time.  It was a blistering hot summer day, just over 100 degrees.  Fr. Postulator was elderly and frail and yet Fr. Daniel never offered hospitality, not an invitation to get out of the sun and come in to the community house, a visit to the chapel, or even a drink of water.
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It is my understanding the monks in Wyoming live much like the Discalced Carmelite nuns and keep very strict enclosure.
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May God give success to the work of their hands.

The age of consent.



Britain's leading gay activist calls for lowering of the age of consent.
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How convenient.  The age of consent is there to protect young people from sexual predators, not to restrict young people's freedoms.  However, "Peter Tatchell, founder of the group OutRage!, wrote on the website Big Think, 'Whether we like it or not, many teenagers have their first sexual experience around the ages of 14 or 15.  If we want to protect young people, and I do, the best way to do this is not by threatening them with arrest, but by giving them frank, high quality sex and relationship education from an early age.'"
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Huh?  Have there been mass arrests of teens in the UK for engaging in sex?  Are British jails teeming with horny teenagers?  I don't think so.  What a screwed up argument Tatchell presents here.  Like I said - age of consent laws are there to protect kids from predators and sex-ploitation by adults - it's the adults who get arrested in sex with a minor cases.
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This is one more piece of evidence from a homosexual activist that gay men, homosexual men, sometimes prefer chicken.  And yet they like to claim sexual abuse of children is always a pedophilia problem - and never homosexual...  and that the Catholic Church is an institutional predator unwilling to protect children.
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How freaking queer.
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Tatchell's OutRage! has long lobbied for the lowering of the age of consent in Britain, which was already lowered for homosexual acts from age 21 in 1994 and again in 2000 to 16, after heavy lobbying by homosexualist activists. - LifesiteNews
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H/T Tancred at Eponymous
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Photo: Boys Beware, 1961.  Film released through Sid Davis Productions. It deals with a perceived danger to young boys: that of predatory homosexuals.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Painting.


I gessoed over the canvas I was working on - I hated it - so I painted it out with black gesso.  It is like a Rothko now.  I get him.
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Art: Mark Rothko, No. 6(?), 1964 [Black-Form Paintings]

Larry

More on "Real Monks".


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The angelic life...
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I take it back - 'real' monks are springing up all over the world - the amazing video shown above is about the Carmelite monks who make the coffee in Wyoming.  (Unfortunately there is no sound)  The prior of the Wyoming group started out in our diocese with a group of Carmelite hermits in Lake Elmo, a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.  Both hermitages have ambitious plans for a monastic complex not unlike what one would see in Europe.  Both began from nothing, by young - inexperienced men, who desired authentic monastic life.  The growth of the Wyoming Carmelites attests to their authenticity.
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Likewise, little groups of hermits and anchorites have formed around the country - Fr. John Mary's little group, The Institute of St. Joseph is another example of the revival of authentic monastic life. 
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Elsewhere traditionalists have formed deeply observant communities, such as the Benedictine's Pablo informed me about yesterday. 
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This renewal has silently taken shape outside the confines of the established abbeys and monasteries of reformed groups of monks such as Trappists, Cistercians, Benedictines, Carmelites, and other groups who had been more creative as regards the recommendations of Vatican II.  While the other groups opened more to the world, often turning away vocations because they were too 'fervent', these new groups more or less formed out of nothing.  Much like the original founders and later reformers of the great orders began - seeking God alone.  It is a wonderful work of Divine Providence that these "inexperienced" though deeply fervent men, rejected the relative safety, security, and comfort of established-religious-institutional life, venturing forth in very real poverty mind you,  into the wilderness, to seek God alone in the monastic life.  I believe this is what Vatican II meant when it invited religious to return to the original charism of their founders and reformers. 
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I'm convinced these little groups are the actual signs of the 'new springtime' JPII always pointed to - they sprouted without most of us even knowing about it, and if we did, the more jaded amongst us may have thought they'd never last.  God is good.

"Expect things that are sudden."



I think I'm like Michael Brown.
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The headline from Spirit Daily, "Expect things that are sudden" attracted me today.  I had the exact same thoughts lately - "Golly Dr. Thorndyke, it's sure been quiet around the asylum lately, huh?"  Nothing big has happened - no big cataclysm - nothing - YET!  Da-ta-DAHHHHHHHHHHH!
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I know I disparage apparition claims and seers who have gardens popping out of their bosoms for no explicable reason, yet I like to read about such things - guilty pleasures, I suppose.  Some of these revelations may be true after all.  Nevertheless, "expect things that are sudden" sounds more like a general horoscope reading than anything more than a hunch.  I expect things that are sudden all of the time, and nothing happens.
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Nevertheless, I'm with Michael - something is going to happen - suddenly.  Just watch.  (You think I'm kidding - but I'm not.  BTW - I have no special knowledge about this.  I just feel it.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More "I told you so!" Stuff.




Facebook feeds narcissism!
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 I knew it!  I knew it!  I knew it!
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For the average narcissist, Facebook "offers a gateway for hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication." More importantly for this study, social networking in general allows the user a great deal of control over how he or she is presented to and perceived by peers and other users. - News story
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What have I been saying all along you freaks!  An apostolate - my ass.

"What makes a monk a 'real' monk?"


Two comments worthy of a post...
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The first comment asked me what I meant in my last post by the term 'real' monk.  "What makes a monk a 'real' monk?"  I ought to have avoided using the term all together, since it can seem like a challenge to 'real' monks.  Real monks are those who live the monastic life.  Otherwise I don't know what makes a real monk.  Indeed, many monks spend their entire lives trying to answer that very question.  I believe I can usually spot one when I see one however.  These days I tend to think a real monk is simply a Christian who has given up everything for Christ, one who is totally poor and has been humbled, and totally in love with Jesus Christ.  The man who accounts all as loss in order to know and love God.  St. Therese of Lisieux can be a good example of a real monk.  I also met one a long time ago.  He was a simple Camaldolese lay-brother who gave me his ration of bread for the day - to take with me after I had been turned away from the hermitage by the prior.  He taught me the meaning of 'perfect joy' that day.
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The second comment is from Paul Stilwell, which is a quote from Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth...
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"Francis of Assisi was gripped in an utterly radical way by the promise of the first beatitude, to the point that he even gave away his garments and let himself be clothed anew by the bishop, the representative of God's fatherly goodness, through which the lilies of the field were clad in robes finer than Solomon's. For Francis, this extreme humility was above all freedom for service, freedom for mission, ultimate trust in God who cares not only for the flowers of the field but specifically for his human children. It was a corrective to the Church of his day, which, through the fuedal system, had lost the freedom and dynamism of missionary outreach. It was the deepest possible openness to Christ, to whom Francis was perfectly configured by the wounds of the stigmata, so perfectly that from then on he truly no longer lived as himself, but as one reborn, totally from and in Christ. For he did not want to found a religious order: He simply wanted to gather the People of God to listen anew to the word--without evading the seriousness of God's call by means of learned commentaries.

By creating the Third Order, though, Francis did accept the distinction between radical commitment and the necessity of living in the world. The point of the Third Order is to accept with humility the task of one's secular profession and its requirements, wherever one happens to be, while directing one's whole life to that deep interior communion with Christ that Francis showed us. "To own goods as if you owned nothing"--to master this inner tension, which is perhaps the more difficult challenge, and, sustained by those pledged to follow Christ radically, truly to live it out ever anew--that is what the Third Orders are for. And they open up for us what this Beatitude can mean for all."

I think St. Francis was a real monk too.
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Like I said - I'm no expert, so maybe others would like to add to this? 
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Photo:  St. Francis renounces his patrimony.

Monk-berry moon delight...

So anyway.
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I started painting Sunday - yep - just took a brush and paint and started painting.  The painting is based upon the Sinai icon, Ladder of Divine Ascent - it is fairly faithful so far - I did no drawings for it - just the brush - it's looking rather primitive.  I'm forcing myself to paint, thinking it will rev me up to paint seriously.  Even though I'm serious with this one.  (But it is NOT an icon.)
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It's about the monks.
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I've been reading my books on Orthodox monasticism.  I'm enthralled how the Athonite solitaries seem to have maintained a close observance to what the early desert fathers did.  I know their monastic observance  isn't exactly like that, but to know real hermits, who actually stay put in their hermitages or caves still exist in the world is very edifying.  In the West I think the only real monks are (some of) the Carthusians, Camaldolese and Carmelite nuns - though I'm told many of these now have computers and are therefore once again attached to the world.  However, that video I posted this past weekend has intrigued me so much I think of it all of the time now.
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I have a wonderful book on Athos written by Philip Sherrard - Sherrard is a Byzantine scholar living in Greece - the book was published in 1985, so he might be dead.
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Monastic life - an academic life.
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Today Western monks and hermits travel about - in what oftentimes seems an endless pursuit of authentic monastic life, or occasionally just to go on vacation.  I can't imagine a monk getting all excited to go into Manhattan, for instance, or attending a conference on monastic prayer or liturgy.  Merton pretty much did stuff like that - hence these types of monks often "forage in a land they know not" while enriching themselves with worldly honors.  It seems to me that many of the Orthodox monks I read about understand the monastic life much better than our monastic scholars and PhDs in the West.  The more ascetic Orthodox appear to have the simplicity of the old lay-brother monks and friars, so many of whom have been canonized over the centuries.  Today monks and nuns spend an awful lot of time studying monasticism, while neglecting to live it.  But I digress.
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Anyway - in order to make a post, I will share some points from Sherrard's book, Athos the Holy Mountain, which I found interesting, since many of the ideas go to the heart of my idea of monastic simplicity, humility and authentic spiritual poverty.
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Vows:

"The monastic vows themselves are not essential to monasticism.  The early monk was one who turned his back on the world, and had entered the narrow way, but he was without either formal vows or the tonsure or the habit.  (The first Franciscans were like this.)  His profession was merely the tacit one of an intention to lead an ascetic life.  For centuries after the institution of monasticism, formal vows were unknown.  Palladius deprecated the vows as subjecting the free will to the binding declaration of an oath.  The simple adoption of coarse clothing and entering a wilderness, or taking the habit with the permission of an abbot of a cenobium, constituted the profession of the monastic life - which only became strictly formalized with St. Benedict." - Sherrard
I'm against it.
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Of course, I'm not saying the tradition of making one's profession through vows is undesirable - yet for myself, I very much prefer the idea, since by baptism the Christian is already vowed and consecrated into Christ's consecration.  Of course, religious profession renews that reality and as such is like a second baptism, and more importantly, it is required and approved by the Church.  Nevertheless, as a layman, I am content not to add to an already great mystery.  Perhaps it is my way of seeking the last place, without status or esteem.  Much like the early monks and saints such as Benedict Joseph Labre and other fools for Christ.  These types are usually simply referred to as 'confessors' of the faith - something I think the ordinary Christian is called to be.
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Today, modern Orthodox monks take vows.

However - "The distinction between simple and solemn vows has never been known in Orthodox monasticism.  By traditional custom, no dispensation from monastic vows is given - though there have been exceptions to this.  Even expulsion from a monastery for immorality, the shaving off of the beard and the deprivation of the habit, do not constitute a dispensation.  A monk remains always a monk." - Sherrard
I like that - "a monk remains always a monk".
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(I'm no expert however.  Just a man with an opinion.)
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Icon:  The Ladder of Monks.  A 'real' icon and not my painting of one.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Stuck-up.

"What are we going to do now, honey?"

Has Atlas Shrugged?


"I want to be known as the greatest champion of reason and the greatest enemy of religion." - Ayn Rand
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It seems to me Ayn Rand's vision has fast become our reality.
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I'm no political scientist or economist to be sure, but the following article from ChristianityToday seems to pinpoint where we are at as a nation in these days of the Great Recession.  Some excerpts:

  • "Ayn Rand, like Karl Marx, was one more self-proclaimed prophet who denied the existence of a loving God."

  • A senior editor said he had never understood his family until reading this. It made him realize that they had mixed Rand's strongly anti-government, unquestioningly pro-business, and individualistic worldview with biblical Christianity. Theologians call this "syncretism"—which George Barna calls America's favorite religion. It's a religion too many Christians have bent the knee to.

  • Rand still has influential financial disciples like junk-bond king Michael Milken, Chris Cox, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission for the Bush administration leading up to the crash, as well as cultural influencers like Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, media mogul Ted Turner, and pundits John Stossel, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck, who recently advised Christians to leave any church that speaks of social justice.

  • Though dead for nearly three decades, Rand's philosophy is still deeply embedded in large sectors of the American economy, as well as among some Christian financial advisers and religious leaders. So we are wise to discern what tune Rand is singing for future generations.

  • The Economist's Good Guru Guide says, "Ayn Rand—the heroine of America's libertarian right—described her philosophy as 'the concept of man as a noble being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.'" - Ayn Rand: Goddess of the Great Recession
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A couple of popular Randian buzz words currently in use stood out for me in the article:
  • self-actualizing
  • syncretism 
Reminds me of Oprah.
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Link:  Wikipedia synopsis of Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand's philosophy.
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H/T SpiritDaily

Sunday, August 29, 2010

America In Crisis...


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What to expect after Obama.

Stuff like that... kind of a meme.


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Stuff you may have never thought to ask me about.
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Recently I was tagged by a couple of people for a couple of memes, and I forgot to answer them - just like my emails - I often neglect to answer them right away and then I forget about them.  I bet you never knew that, huh?  So here is my way of answering the emails and memes.  (I tag anyone who has ignored my tags in the past - you know who you are bitc... oops!  Sorry Jer-bear.)
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The Stuff Like That meme:
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I've never been a big devotee of St. Augustine or his mother.  Have you ever known a priest with a very influential mother?  Yes, I have too.  That's all.
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I love Mother Teresa, but I don't like the cult so much.  I never cared if they lit up the Empire State building for her or not.  I don't care if she just turned 100 - she's dead.  With saints it's usually the 100 years from their death marker that is celebrated - it's a different anniversary all together.  Or maybe not - I don't care.
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Did you know Raymundo Arroyo pronounces 'centenery' as 'centeenery'?  And he says, 'agane' instead of 'again'?  How affected is that.  No, that wasn't a question.  But it's okay to be affected.
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SNL is no longer even amusing.  It is the worst excuse for a comedy show on television.
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I listen to music and watch music videos on YouTube and I like really weird stuff.  This is exactly how I became a fan of Justin Timberlake - whose dancing is kinda femme BTW.  He seems nice though.
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Larry D. and I frequently post at exactly the same time - our published work is often just minutes apart.  Isn't that something.
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I haven't painted for weeks.  I entered a painting in a juried show and it was rejected - I wasn't going to say anything.  I was very discouraged.  And then I talked to my sister on the phone and I'm still not over that either.  Please don't say anything about this in the com box because I could become violent and I might send out nasty emails.  Oh yeah.
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One of my cats was dying - the Dr. said she had terminal heart disease and she's on heart meds.  Her name is Celine - so I prayed to St. Therese's sister Celine and now the cat is doing really well - she almost acts like a young cat again.  That's good, right?  I was seriously saddened however - I have a very soft spot for kids and animals and people with mental illness.
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I want to sell off some of my art and antiques - maybe online - but I don't know how to do it.  The financial depression is hitting me quite hard these days, as I am sure it is hitting others as well.  Some people not so much - they still travel and dine out and buy stuff - so maybe someone will want to buy my stuff.
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I've been offline because I'm busy in the yard.  Belinda thought I was sick - I don't get sick anymore.
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School starts next week.  I'm not interested.
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The Quincy Jones video on this post is my absolute favorite rendition of Stuff Like That - even better than the original, I must say.
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Oh!  And Pat Sajak is a very decent fellow, I might add.
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I guess that's about it.
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Oh!  Oh!  Be sure and put Jackie Parkes blog in your links.
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That's all.

Water quenches a flaming fire.


Tears of repentance, loving tears born of love.
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Today's first reading on humility from the Book of Sirach read at Mass today, concludes with the verse, "Water quenches a flaming fire, and alms atone for sins." - Sirach 3:29  I can't recall where I read it, but I think the desert fathers may have interpreted "water quenches a flaming fire" as tears of repentance or compunction which in turn extinguish the flames of our passions.  And since the solitary is "too poor to help the poor" with material alms, I think charity expressed through prayer becomes his alms - thus atoning for sins by that means.  As the last monk in the video on my former post stated, "nothing can purify one more than prayer" - although I think suffering does so just as well, if not better for some of us.  "Prayer is good, but suffering is better" as Mother Mary Electa of Christ, OCD once said.
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"I had prayer of the heart, but I lost it."
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At the end of the video, the holy father told the interviewer he had once attained prayer of the heart but lost it, "due to my unworthiness."  The monk would of course tell us that this prayer, like all the contemplative stages of prayer we in the West identify as infused prayer, is sheer grace - it is a gift from God.  As we hear in today's Gospel, it would seem all are invited, but not all are given the ultimate or highest stage of prayer - whether one defines it as prayer of the heart or the prayer of union.  Like the monk in the video, some have tasted or experienced this prayer, but for some reason or another - often through self exultation and pride or even serious sin - end up losing it.  In that case, but for the grace of God we can once again find ourselves back in the lowest place - like the unfortunate fellow in the Gospel.
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All is not lost of course, since it is good to be humbled, to be found amongst the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and those "too little to make their own living", as St. Therese would say;  "because everyone who humbles himself will be exalted."  - Luke: 14: 7-14
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There is great consolation in religion, provided one is content with a sufficiency.

Saints


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The soul cannot know peace unless he prays for his enemies. The soul that has learned of God's grace to pray, feels love and compassion for every created thing, and in particular for mankind, for whom the Lord suffered on the Cross, and His soul was heavy for every one of us.