Saturday, December 29, 2007


I'm locked out of Abbey-Roads2 again.
This happens periodically and as usual, I'm annoyed about it. I usually do my more serious stuff for Abbey2, although I post serious things on Abbey1 as well, albeit more personal and oftentimes more silly. I don't know how long I'll keep that up however. And I may just post here exclusively. After viewing Cynthia Large's work, I want to resume painting. In addition, I'm running out of things to write about on my blogs, and I don't want to simply post news articles.
As you may have noticed, I have been reading Caryll Houselander - just bits and pieces - and I find her insights somewhat helpful - although I have some difficulty with her spirituality, which I find to be a bit feminine for my taste. Actually, a few of her thoughts reminded me of these lyrics by Sting:
When you're down and they're counting
When your secrets all found out
When your troubles take to mounting
When the map you have leads you to doubt
When there's no information
And the compass turns to nowhere that you know well... -"Let your soul be your pilot."
Houselander on psychologically expensive friends.
The expensive people are those who, because they are not simple, make complicated demands — people to whom we cannot respond spontaneously and simply, without anxiety. They need not be abnormal to exact these complicated responses; it is enough that they should be untruthful, or touchy, or hypersensitive, or that they have an exaggerated idea of their own importance, or that they have a pose — one which may have become second nature, but is not what they really are. With all such people we are bound to experience a little hitch in our response. If we are not sure that what they say is true, we are embarrassed. In time, our relationship with them becomes unreal. If we have to consider every word or act in their company in case it hurts their feelings or offends their dignity, or to act up to them in order to support their pose, we become strained by their society. They are costing us dearly in psychological energy. - Caryll Houselander
So anyway - if you have posted comments to Abbey2 and they are not up - the reason is I can't get into the site to edit or write. Usually, in a few days, I'm able to get back in. In the meantime - I am here. I'll be posting things which may seem disconnected, however, they grabbed my attention and were meaningful for me. It will all make sense in time.

The work of Cynthia Large.


I happened upon the artist, Cynthia Large while searching for an image of St. Christina the Astonishing. Her work is masterful! Please visit her website here to view her all of her work. What follows is a brief biography I took off her website:

I was born in Northern California in 1972, and raised among the redwoods. Between the ages of 15 and 17 I lived in some isolated areas of Utah and tangled with small religious movements and heresies. Curiousity has not yet killed the cat, and the study of both orthodox and heretical faiths continues to inform my work.

Theology is combined in my paintings and assemblages with ideas about music and mental illness; these themes form the (sometimes) overlapping spheres of genius, madness, and spiritual ecstasy.

In 1990 I moved to New York, received my B.F.A. from Parson's School of Design in 1994, and then spent two years in the Netherlands, examining the art and religious upheavals of the late Middle Ages. During this period I studied the techniques of the early Flemish painters, and developed a method of painting based on what I learned.

Egg tempera and oil are my primary mediums; the process is labor intensive, and each painting takes nearly two years to complete. The frames are handmade of various woods, with inlaid marquetry panels, and I often incorporate salvaged piano keys and organ pipes in my work. In 1999, I received a grant from the Money for Women / Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for my paintings of the composer and pianist Clara Schumann. My current series of paintings, "Holy Mischief", portrays the lives of the most restive and unruly figures in the history of religion.

I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends, and believe that artistic talent is a gift from God, as all gifts are. I strive, in my daily work, to honor that gift, and to remember the One who bestowed it. I currently live in New York. Cynthia Large, Quaker Artist

[Art: Julian of Norwich, Cynthia Large]

Saints who must have been nuts...

Crazy Saints.
I certainly do not think it is an exaggeration to suggest some of the saints may well have suffered from mental illness, or at least some form of neurosis, at one point or another in their lives. Yet many people tend to resist that idea because mental illness has been so misunderstood throughout history. Mrs. Parkes has an interesting post of famous people who have been diagnosed bipolar, which occasioned my reflection upon what saints may have suffered from mental illness, either episodic or long term. The following is my list of candidates of saints who may have suffered some form of mental illness in their lives.

St. Benedict Joseph Labre. Even Fr. Benedict Groeschl says that his namesake was probably psychotic. Of course, that doesn't mean he was a raving lunatic or a danger to himself or others. I suspect he was maybe a borderline personality with bipolar or something. The trials of the dark night would have cured him, I'm sure.
St. Therese of Lisieux. Something was wrong with her when she was little - so maybe she was bipolar too? A couple of her biographers suggested she may have had some early mental illness.
Christina the Astonishing. For sure! She stood in freezing cold water for hours, attached herself to a mill wheel to be repeatedly dragged under water. Astonishing, yes - normal, no way!
St. John of God. His conversion had been so intense he was confined for a time as a lunatic. With counsel, he devoted himself to caring for the poor and destitute, amongst these - prostitutes and vagabonds, whom he invited to live with him. (Imagine the Twilight Zone theme song here.) He endured great criticism and many people continued to think him insane. He went on to found a great order of hospitallers.
Camillus de Lellis. Maybe not nuts - but obsessive-compulsive - and depressive. He was quick tempered and addicted to gambling before his conversion. He also went on to found a nursing order.
Catherine of Genoa. She had to be a depressive - known to be somewhat humorless, she sought escape in the high society of Genoese social life, before entering her deepest depression, which culminated in her conversion. I don't think she was ever fun to be around however. ("Yeah! Let's call Catherine and get together for a drink!" - I don't think anyone ever said that.)
The Penitents, Thais, Mary of Egypt, and other harlots. Thais had a huge public bonfire of her clothes and jewelry before being admitted to monastic life. (Drama is a characteristic of bipolar behavior.) Mary of Egypt... just read about her - not so normal.
The Holy Fools, Basil, Xenia of Petersburg, and others. Basil went about naked in Russian winter and insulted the Tsar, Ivan IV - you know, "Ivan the Terrible". (That's normal.) Xenia was more or less like a bag lady.
Margaret of Cortona. I'm convinced that Margaret went a bit crazy after she discovered her lover's dead body, and the depression which accompanied the rejection she experienced by family and society after her conversion. I'm also of the opinion she wasn't the best mother - she definitely exhibited symptoms of borderline personality disorder in the manner she cared for her son. (I'll bet you anything she called him bastardo a few times.)
These abnormal people give me hope!
[Art: St. Christina the Astonishing, painted by, Cynthia Large]

Friday, December 28, 2007

Grateful the house-guests and relatives finally left...

God approaches gently, often secretly, always in love, never through violence and fear. He comes to us, as He Himself has told us, in those whom we know in our own lives. Very often we do not recognize Him. He comes in many people we do not like, in all who need what we can give, in all who have something to give us, and for our great Comfort. He comes in those we love, in our fathers and mothers, our brothers and sisters, our friends and our children. Because this is so, we must not be content ever to love with only natural love. We must also love everyone with a supernatural, sacramental love. We must love Christ in them with Christ's love in us. It would be well if those seeking perfection ceased trying so painstakingly to learn how not to love and learned instead how to love well. - Caryll Houselander

Thursday, December 27, 2007

More signs Christmas is over...

Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated in a suicide attack. - BBC

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"I hate it that Christmas comes and goes so fast!"

Have ya got yur tree down yet?

My best friend Darold said it when I spoke with him this morning: "I hate it that Christmas comes and goes so fast!"
I said, "What do you mean? Christmas just started on Christmas Day!"
He said, "Well yeah - that's what they say - but it's really over. Some people have even taken down their tree already."

"I'm so glad it's over!"

"I'm so sick of this Christmas b--- s---!"
Yep - that was my mom around 6PM on Christmas Day, still hung over from Christmas Eve - although drinking for the cure.
Another blog was asking readers to leave comments recalling their family's Christmas traditions and customs - but I didn't think mine would fit in. (Story of my life! LOL!)
[Anyway - I could never have told my mom this, but Christmas just begins on Christmas Day. Yay!]
Photo: Movie still - party scene; "Breakfast At Tiffany's"

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Waking up to Cathy's Precious Moments Christmas...

Precious memories...

Few people realize what a huge fan of Precious Moments our blogger-buddy Cathy is. One year she even made a Christmas pilgrimage to the Precious Moments Chapel (pictured above) where she finally gave in and purchased her massive Precious Moments Nativity set, the central portion of it shown below. I ought to mention that it wasn't easy for her to give up her Hello Kitty Nativity - but that was the old Cath. (Knowing her love for the Precious Moments line of decorative figurines, we can now understand why Cath is always dressed in those billowing, chiffon, pastel-dresses at Mass.)

Wishing all of you a very happy Christmas day.

Monday, December 24, 2007

This Christmas Eve...

Santa called in sick.

The Cat Christmas Pageant...

The photo is of the kitty who played the baby Jesus in the Cat Christmas Pageant at the local shelter last night. (Which is why I didn't post on Cathy's blog BTW!)

A very handsome Jack Russell terrier played St. Joseph this year, while a lovely Siamese played Our Lady. The Pugs were so cute as angels! The Shepherds were real Border Collies and the sheep were all kittens except for a couple of rabbits.

(The three Pit Bulls who were scheduled to play the roles of the Kings had to be put down that day and couldn't be in the pageant. Sad.)

Some people do not believe in Santa.

Too bad for them.

Art: Michael Sowa