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 08, 2011

St. Sebastian and other news...


I might try to be more - 'pithy' with my posts in the New Year - and keep my commentary to a minimum.  We'll see how long that lasts. 

So anyway - I started a new image of St. Sebastian in anticipation of his feast day.  It is only 9" x 12", acrylic on gesso board.  I'm liking it already.  Anyway - what follows is the prayer for the saint's feast day:
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Lord, fill us with the spirit of courage which gave your martyr Sebastian strength to offer his life in faithful witness.  Help us to learn from him to cherish your law and to obey you rather than men.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.
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The prayers I am using for the painting are the rosary and Psalm 119: Love of God's Law, an alphabetical psalm.  It is frequently the same prayer I pray at adoration.  I have found that the more one prays the psalms the deeper the Word enters one's heart and there is no need for one to make up words to pray, much less imagine...
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Lord, you are just indeed;
your decrees are right.
you have imposed your will with justice
and with absolute truth.
I am carried away by anger
for my foes forget your word.
Your promise is tried in the fire,
the delight of your servant.
Although I am weak and despised
I remember your precepts.
Your justice is eternal justice
and your law is truth.
Though anguish and distress have seized me,
I delight in your commands.
The justice of your will is eternal;
if you teach me, I shall live.  Ps. 119: 137-144
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Art:  Sebastian and Fabian - they share the same feast day.

Living online.


Sometimes it all gets a little too bizarre.  I'm convinced a good share of bloggers have something wrong with them.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Pulled a Boehner



John Boehner.
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I always thought the Speaker's name was pronounced 'boner' and so I was disappointed when I heard it pronounced 'baner' (I don't know how to put in the long 'A' mark).  I even thought 'bahner' might have been a pronunciation, but I kept going back to 'boner'.  Anyway - when he does something media disapproves of, I'll bet someone uses the boner word, only they'll say, he pulled a Boehner.  Get it?
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Now about his tears. 
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Do you think the press is going to play the bully because the Speaker of the House tears up from time to time?  In a day and age when making fun of people and their weaknesses is practically illegal, there certainly has been a lot of discussion about this.  Many weaker types in our culture are lobbying for legislation outlawing any kind of bullying.  So why does the press focus so much on Mr. Boehner's 'gift of tears'?
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Anyway - I really like John Boehner

Implanted memories?



Something is off.
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Way off!  Belgian nuns molesting boys?  C'mon.  They are making it up!  Story here.  (The parent site takes forever to load BTW - at least for me.)
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And then...
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"In a stunning ten-page declaration recently submitted to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, veteran attorney Donald H. Steier stated that his investigations into claims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have uncovered vast fraud and that his probes have revealed that many accusations are completely false."  Read the rest here.
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What I know for sure.
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I know for a fact false memories can be implanted in vulnerable individuals... it happened to my little brother.  At the same time, I know true memories can be all together repressed... it happened to my sister.  Which is why I believe history will prove the clergy sex abuse scandal was grossly exaggerated and sensationalized, not unlike the Salem witch-trials in the late 1600's, and the Satanic-sex-abuse-day-care scandals of the 1980's.

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Just be skeptical about what you read or hear from media - especially blogs.  If it is too good to be true - it is probably false.  If it is too horrible to be true - it is probably sensationalized falsehood based on an element of truth.

Symbologists


A conspiracy theorist's picnic.
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Both Fr. Z and Fr. Blake have written about the Masons.  And all the crazies are coming out to comment....  Love it! 
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Art:  "Men Who Like to  Dress Up" - a portrait of Harry S. Truman in Masonic regalia.

Breaking News!: 20% of all young British women use morning after pill. But of course!


Who wouldn't use it if it is available?
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A poll has shown that as many as one fifth of all young women in the UK have used the morning after pill (MAP) in the past year after “unprotected sex.” - Source
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I'm sure even good Catholic mums know this.

Inside that I cried.


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Three paintings sold this past week.  You have no idea how hard it is to let them go.  One woman told me she was going to hang it in her bathroom.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Dead zones...



Birds falling in flocks from the sky, fish washing ashore, extreme weather...
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Yesterday at adoration one of the mystics stopped by to talk.  It was just the two of us in the church and he told me that our Lord said it was okay to talk because he was talking about God.  I sat and listened for 45 minutes until I finally convinced him I needed to pray for a special intention.  In the meantime, while I listened, I offered it up as a penance, albeit praying the Lord to shorten the time.  I decided to do this in imitation of Christ in the Eucharist - after all, He is there silently enduring much worse.  I wanted to exercise myself in patience and charity (after the cleaning lady episode a couple of weeks ago) thus my 'listening ministry' went so far as to draw tears; although the speaker was sure my tears were holy tears of edification over what he was telling me.  I offered the misunderstanding as my little sacrifice of praise.
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Disinterested friendship...
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Although I wasn't interested, my friend told me in great detail about his visions, crows, demons, and his gifts of bi-location and healing.  He shared some end-time secrets with me as well, it seems we're there.  I promised not to tell anyone who it was who told me these things... although I probably should tell you that the Ark of the Covenant will soon be unearthed in Nazareth and transported by angels, led by Moses, to Annunciation parish in Minneapolis.  Our modern parish church will soon become a great pilgrimage destination.  The man who told me all of this appeared to be completely normal and lucid - just a regular guy.  He spoke in a matter of fact manner and was very friendly and very humble about his gifts. 
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For the past several months, every Wednesday that I set aside for recollection and adoration is now filled with temptation, excuses to avoid going or staying the full time, distractions, interruptions, or just plain boredom.  I must admit, I prefer that to mystical experiences.

A Blessed Epiphany to All.


Happy Christmas!
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Art:  Epiphany, Giotto

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Who she callin' a ...


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Adrienne obviously doesn't know the story of my life...

Bring back Shame!


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Larry wants it back... click here.

What You Will...



A Twelfth Night post about contemporary "performance life".

[Reader be forewarned, this post is much ado about nothing.] 

I always get Twelfth Night mixed up with Midsummer's Night Dream - just because I love all the craziness and fantasy in Midsummer's Night - which I romantically associate with Twelfth Night festivities.  Since the traditional date for the feast of the Epiphany marks the beginning of Carnival, one might understand why my fantasy gravitates towards such characters as Oberon and Titania, along with Puck and the other fairies.

In a sense contemporary life has become all about performance - in just about every respect, but none more so than living one's life online.  (Which may account for my boredom.)  Nearly every one of us can become  excessively self-aware in our chosen online avocation - perhaps none more so than YouTube performers, bloggers and Facebook addicts.

In the US I think it all started in the 1950's with television shows such as Candid Camera and Bandstand.  Dick Clark's American Bandstand really capitalized on teenage narcissism watching kids dance for the camera.  By the late '60's, kids were performing for the cameras.  And don't forget all the live game shows where ordinary people got on camera acting like greedy fools.

With the advent of video and cam-corders, used for surveillance and fun, somehow many of us accustomed ourselves to the awareness someone is watching... or maybe some of us just liked to pretend someone was observing us.
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Just shooting off my mouth now...
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I worked with a fellow who mastered the art.  We worked together in fashion in the '80's and became friends - we made each other laugh.  'Freakishly' tall,  he was one of the most wildly entertaining guys I knew.  Anyway, when he'd get a few drinks in him he went into full performance mode, becoming a case study in gender disorientation.  For instance, in the bar, on his way to the men's room he'd position himself like a runway model, look down at his shoes, throw his head back like a woman tossing her hair, and he'd walk like a runway model across the bar to the men's room.  I would be laughing so hard I'd be crying - the return trip was priceless because he'd come back and ask, "What?"  (As in asking what was I laughing about.)  The best part was how he pretended not to be aware of his performance... nor to understand when I complimented him, "You never even looked at the camera!"  Good performance.

So anyway - why did I tell you that?  Because it is stupid and silly and it is Twelfth Night and it never fails to make me laugh.  And because bloggers and commenters can be kind of like that.  Many of us put on our best performance online, projecting ourselves in the way we imagine ourselves, fully aware that someone is watching - or reading.  Not unlike my former friend, we sometimes perform for the camera, as it were.  We have accustomed ourselves to performing for 'our public'.  We've groomed ourselves, as it were, in the consciousness someone is watching, someone is paying attention to us - perhaps with the secret hope, one of these days, we might even be discovered...  Protesting our innocence of course, denying any artifice or conceit or ambition or self-promotion on our part.  I think that is what makes some blogs boring - phonies.   

Suddenly I've become extremely self-aware and I'm so scared what people will think of me after writing this...
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Yeah, so anyway pumpkins, I'm actually much too bored to finish this post...  

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And suddenly the truth came to me, as we stood there, trembling, searching, at our point of fulcrum. There were no watching eyes. The windows were as blank as they looked. The theatre was empty. It was not a theatre. They had told her it was a theatre, and she had believed them, and I had believed her. To bring us to this - not for themselves, but for us. I turned and looked at the windows, the facade, the pompous white pedimental figures. - John Fowles, The Magus
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Photo:  From Sartorialist

Twelfth Night...


The end of Christmas?  Or the beginning of Carnival!
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An evening's wassailing not being what it once was, Twelfth Night has declined into one of the less widely celebrated of the ancient festivals. All the same, Twelfth Night is still one of the most welcome days in the calendar, in spite of the absence of agreement about when it actually falls. If you take the view, as some do, that the evening of 24 December marks the start of Christmas, then last night, 4January, was the twelfth. If you go with 25 December as the first night, as most do, then Twelfth Night instead falls this evening, 5 January. Many nevertheless continue to regard 6 January, the feast of Epiphany, as Twelfth Night. Yet if there is little concord about when Twelfth Night actually falls – and perhaps it hardly matters – there is at least a healthy consensus that it marks the decisive end of Christmas. Twelfth Night, whenever observed, is the universally understood moment when the decorations come down, the cards are removed and the tree is stripped and banished. In Trafalgar Square tonight, London's Christmas tree, which survived student protesters' attempts to torch it last month, will finally become mulch. In Tate Britain, Giorgio Sadotti's bare spruce will come down too, as the spirit of Christmas is driven out of the gallery in a free one-off piece of performance art. Twelfth Night offers one last chance for revels and misrule. Shakespeare, who understood this best, subtitled his transgressive play What You Will. Tomorrow, though, the normal order resumes – and not before time, for many of us.  - The Guardian
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(For the very traditional, Christmastide lasts until Candlemas.  Happy Christmas!)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Wow! I am so bored with blogging and bloggers and the Internet and TV and, and, and...


I must say!

The Rabbit's New Year


Mrs. Rabitowitz.
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On New Year's Eve I painted a little portrait of Mrs. Rabitowitz - just as a sort of memorial. She is dead of course, mysteriously murdered, perhaps poisoned. I miss her terribly. She liked to be around me as I tidied up the yard and did my chores. She was especially attentive during the winter months when I put out feed for her and the other critters and of course the birds. She wasn't at all afraid of me, and she was always respectful of the gardens.
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Sadly, her relatives are not quite as civilized. They are voracious eaters... eater bunnies, I call them. Perhaps Mrs. Rabitowitz had been too indulgent with her little ones, but I rather think the trauma of her early demise, the tragedy of the circumstances of her death, as well as growing up on their own without a mother - I think that may account for the new generation's disrespect for boundaries and their avaricious behavior.
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At any rate, the new generation of rabbits is eating my hedge row - last year they killed out a section of the back cotoneaster wall, this year they are going after the south wall. They eat the bark of the mature stems, just as the squirrels consume the bark of the lilac trees. This despite the fact I have provided nutritious feed for all of them, comprised of seeds and nuts and hard grains. Unfortunately for the birds, I've had to stop feeding for now, and I've resorted to spreading granulated fox urine throughout the hedge row, although I noticed new footprints in today's fresh snow.
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In the meantime I will pray St. Martin De Porres to help out, he is very persuasive with little critters. I'll continue some of the natural fox granules before doing anything else. I'm considering a 'Have-A-Heart' trap and possible relocation, although that would be my last resort. I couldn't kill any of them.
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I don't like killing.  I've even gone so far as to have an arrangement with the mouses that they may not live in the house, although they are welcome to come into the garage when it gets too cold. I have a little bag of peat that they can either snuggle in or take from for their nests - peat warms a nest nicely - I found that out from a gnome many years ago.
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Young mice can be rather impetuous... they sometimes 'forget' and attempt to barge in, but the cat takes care of them when they dare to do that. Last year a very handsome young mouse got in. Xena was still alive, and as heavy as she was I woke up to what sounded like a wrestling match going on. I got out of bed to see what all the ruckus was in the middle room. Both Agnes and Xena were standing somewhat proudly over the tail of the Zebra rug. Still rather drowsy, it appeared to me a portion of it had been torn away. As I bent over to pick it up I realized it was a very striking, young mouse, black as coal, his coat so shiny as to glisten in the night light from the hall. Sadly, I disposed of his still warm carcass, congratulated the cats, washed my hands and went back to sleep. The story must have gotten around, because there hasn't been a mouse in the house since.
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I wish animals were more understanding of domestic rules.  But I digress...
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As I began to tell you, for New Year's Eve, I painted the portrait of Mrs. Rabitowitz alongside the hedge.  She often sat exactly like that when I came out.  In her honor, I shot off a few small fireworks leftover from summer as the clock struck midnight.
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Today is the 11th day of Christmas by the way, and tomorrow is 12th Night...  happy Christmas! 
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Monday, January 03, 2011

The Holy Name



The Key of David.
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On this the 10th day of Christmas we celebrate the feast of the Holy Name.  The Holy Name contains the whole Gospel, the whole of the prophecies of the Old Testament.  The Holy Name "contains all...  His Name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies".  (CCC 2666)  The Holy Name, JESUS, frees the addicted and the imprisoned: it is the great light for those who sit in the darkness of death.  The light of the Holy Name is so powerful and revealing, even kings and rulers and presidents have sought to obliterate and cover it up - yet the Holy Name is victorious over sin and death.  In hoc signo vinces.
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O Jesus your Holy Name proclaimed, even from the moment of your conception, your mission as Savior.  Enkindle in our hearts a deep love and reverence for your Holy Name, that filled with confidence in its saving power, we will be courageous in breaking with every sinful affection and unlawful attachment.  Amen
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Bottom photo:  Remember when Obama addressed the audience at Georgetown in 2009?  The Holy Name in the pediment above the row of flags had been covered over at the request of the White House.
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Top Art:  Adoration of the Holy Name, El Greco

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Someone else had the same idea...


More resolution suggestions...
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My resolution to avoid blogs that make me crazy is echoed in the following commandment(s) proffered by Brett Salkeld of Vox Nova:
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8. Avoid occasions of blog sin. If you frequently find yourself losing your cool in discussions at certain blogs, stop commenting on them.  If you try that and don’t succeed, stop going to certain blogs altogether.  It is the sin of pride that convinces us that we must engage certain people in order to show them the truth.  The fact is that people who can’t engage each other productively force one another away from the truth, not towards it.  The Holy Spirit has more instruments than just you.  Take a step back, make an act of trust in the Spirit, and resign yourself to other apostolates.  There’s probably a homeless person near your house who hasn’t had a meaningful conversation in a long time.  - Brian Salkeld
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Read the entire post Suggestions for a Better Catholic Blogosphere in 2011.
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Quite seriously, Brett offers some very good suggestions.  Avoiding the occasions of blogging sin is for me a real issue - which is why I've resolved to avoid a few blogs and their authors.  As in any 'break-up', let me just assure you, "It's me, not you.  I'm the problem." 

I think I'm getting better with my commenters, however a few of my readers continue to have difficulty with what I post or what others have to say - I blame myself.  I shouldn't write about everything that comes to mind - although a few dear readers seem to have formed some sort of opinion about me beforehand and no matter what I write - I'm wrong.  Wrong or write?  That is the question.  I'm still going to write.  That said, Mr. Salkeld has more advice for the comment box.
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7. Admonish your allies. Admonishing sinners is probably the most thankless of the spiritual works of mercy. My feeling is that it takes a particularly high level of sanctity to be able to admonish one’s opponents in the blogosphere to any good end. Rather than telling those with whom you disagree how poorly they are conducting themselves, take the opportunity to caution your allies when they have crossed a line. This has at least three advantages: it is more likely to be effective than admonishing your opponents, it develops the virtues (patience and humility come to mind) that might eventually be useful in admonishing opponents, and it helps ensure that those who agree with you aren’t costing your side of the argument credibility by their bad behaviour. - Brett Salkeld
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I would add to that:  Admonish your fans to not think too highly of you.  Try to avoid 'vain rejoicing' when they praise you or compliment you - it is not good for your spiritual health.  (Especially for weak-minded people like me.)  These people may mean well, to be sure, and may be lovely online friends, but they don't really 'know' you.  Needless to say, compliments and praises often deceive us into thinking we have something going for us beyond our personal opinion.  Without intending to do so, their praise often flatters our pride and is vain and useless, feeding a false sense of self-importance if one is not careful. 
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In my case, after a short time, most people soon come to understand I'm just an ordinary man, a sinner struggling to live a Christian life, and I make a lot of mistakes.  Some of these readers leave on their own accord - and rightly so, for the good of their souls.  Some come back as if to gawk at a train wreck, only to leave again - which is why I would also say, never believe that you have real friends online.  Although in reality, some of the more critical and indignant may in the end be the best friends one has, because they show us our faults.
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Photo:  New Year Resolution #2 - Post my real photo.

Epiphany



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