Thursday, February 22, 2018

Worth a Thousand Words: The Cutest Dog in the World

This is Rose's dog Zoe and though she is a bit grayer now than when this was taken, she is just as cute.

Well Said: Joining a Resistance Movement

Mankind must join a sort of resistance movement. What will become of our world if it does not look for intervals of silence? Interior rest and harmony can flow only from silence. Without it, life does not exist. The greatest mysteries of the world are born and unfold in silence. How does nature develop? In the greatest silence. A tree grows in silence, and springs of water flow at first in the silence of the ground. The sun that rises over the earth in its splendor and grandeur warms us in silence. What is extraordinary is always silent.

In his mother's womb, an infant grows in silence. When a newborn is sleeping in his crib, his parents love to gaze at him in silence, so as not to awaken him; this spectacle can be contemplated only in silence, in wonder at the mystery of man in his original purity.
Cardinal Sarah, The Power of Silence

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

When Noel Bostock—aged ten, no family—is evacuated from London to escape the Nazi bombardment, he lands in a suburb northwest of the city with Vee—a thirty-six-year old widow drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.

Wise beyond his years and raised with a disdain for authority, Noel has little in common with the impulsive Vee, who hurtles from one self-made crisis to the next. The war’s provided unprecedented opportunities for making money, but what Vee needs—and what she’s never had—is a cool head and the ability to make a plan.

On her own, she’s a disaster. With Noel, she’s a team.

Together, they cook up a scheme. But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war—and some of them are dangerous. ...
I really enjoyed this book, having come across it after watching Their Finest which was based on a book also written by Lissa Evans. The teaming of Noel and Vee has been compared by more than one reviewer as having a Paper Moon vibe and that's fair.

I really enjoyed the way the author could set a sense of place and time, seemingly effortlessly. It was a different take on wartime England during the Blitz and yet absolutely recognizable.

I was thoroughly invested in Noel's and Vee's separate dilemmas and enjoyed the way the plot set me up for various predictable events and then took completely unexpected turns. It has serious issues but they're handled with a light enough hand that I never felt dragged down. In that way it reminded me of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.

If you're looking for a light but absorbing story, this is one to try.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Worth a Thousand Words: Redpolls

Redpolls, Remo Savisaar

Well Said: What the desert teaches us

Great things begin in the desert, in silence, in poverty, in abandonment. Look at Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and Jesus himself. The desert is where God leads us in order to speak to us in a heart-to-heart conversation (cd. Hos 2:16-23). But the desert is not only the place where men can experience the physical test of hunger, thirst, and total destitution. It is also the land of temptation, where Satan's power is manifested. The devil often leads us there to hold out to us the prospect of all the world's splendors and to persuade us that we would be wrong to give them up. By going into the desert, Jesus exposed himself to Satan's seductive power and firmly opposed it, thus prolonging the event of his baptism and his Incarnation. he is not content to descend into the deep waters of the Jordan. christ descends also to the very depths of human misery, to the regions of broken hearts and ruined relationships, to the most depraved carnal dictatorships and the desolate places of a world marred by sin. The desert teaches us to fight against evil and all our evil inclinations so as to regain our dignity as children of God. It is impossible to enter into the mystery of God without entering into the solitude and silence of our interior desert.
Cardinal Sarah, The Power of Silence

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Worth a Thousand Words: John Singer Sargent's Theodore Roosevelt

John Singer Sargent, Theodore Roosevelt, 1903
I really love the story that goes with this. It completes the painting for me.
The famous expatriate artist arrived in America in January 1903 and soon received a letter from Roosevelt inviting him to live in the White House during the month of February to work on the portrait....

Together [Sargent and Roosevelt] toured the White House while Sargent looked for proper light and a good pose.... As Roosevelt led the way upstairs, so the story goes, he said, "The trouble with you Sargent, is that you don't know what you want." "No," replied the artist, "the trouble, Mr. President, is that you don't know what a pose means." Roosevelt turned sharply back, grasped the newel-post and snapped, "Don't I!" "Don't move an inch. You've got it now," responded Sargent.
Notes from Kloss, William, et al.
Art in the White House: A Nation's Pride.

Lagniappe: Texts from Don Quixote

dragons everywhere

where are the dragons?
where are you?

I am beset by dragons my love!
There has been perfidy
in this strange land of iron islands
and wraiths that drape themselves in steam

are you in the kitchen?

no kitchen could produce a bellow so terrifying
nor a stench so foul
as that of these steel dragons

I think you are in the kitchen

they perch upon nests of flame

you are absolutely in the kitchen
that is the tea kettle


please do not stab my tea kettle

ah, dear one
your concern for my safety does you credit
but a man must be brave
where is my steed
where is Rocinante
Mallory Ortberg, Texts From Jane Eyre:
And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters
This is such a fun frippery of a book. It didn't always hit the mark, but when it did I couldn't help laughing. Out loud, of course!

Scott invited Julie to the open house for his new House of Usher.

She thought the bleak tarn wasn't bleak or tarn-y enough. And she rearranged the furniture. Scott walled her into the basement to rethink her decisions.

Episode 176 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast: Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Well Said: Embracing the Future

To have a child is to embrace a future you can't control.
Radio Lab, Tom French, 23 Weeks 6 Days episode
We tend to think of what we can't control in terms of dread, of the worst that could happen. But what if we turn it around and think of the times joy or happiness has surprised us? That is something we can't control either. And a child brings those in measures overflowing, in unpredictable ways.

Worth a Thousand Words: Bouquet of Flowers

Henri Rousseau, Bouquet of Flowers, 1909-1910
via Arts Everyday Living

Thank you for the prayers

The Beyond Cana retreat went really well, with five couples refreshed and renewed in their marriages. As well, we always experience many blessings while we are helping put the retreat on and this time was no exception.

Our thanks to everyone who supported us in prayer!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

3rd Sunday of St. Joseph

Lorenzo Lotto. Madonna and Child with St. Jerome, St. Joseph and St. Anne.

Joseph, Husband of Mary

Painters have traditionally depicted Joseph as an elderly man in order to emphasize the perpetual virginity of Mary. Yet it is more likely that Joseph was not much older than Mary. You don't have to wait to be old or lifeless to practice the virtue of chastity. Purity comes from love; and the strength and joy of youth are no obstacle to a noble love. Joseph had a young heart and a young body when he married Mary, when he learned of the mystery of her divine motherhood, when he lived in her company, respecting the integrity God wished to give the world as one more sign that he had come to share the life of his creatures. (St. Escriva, Christ is passing by)

Let us ask the Holy Patriarch to teach us how to live this kind of love in the circumstances to which God has called us. We want this love that lights up the heart (St. Thomas, On Charity) so that we may perform our ordinary work with joy.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Litany for Lent 1

Years ago I regularly posted a Friday litany during Lent. And I'm in the mood to do it again. Here we go with one of the shortest I've ever seen ... from a spot that has many good litanies to offer.
Litany for Lent
Lord Jesus, you have come to save us from our sins.
Lord, have mercy.

You fasted to encourage us to do penance.
Lord, have mercy.

You suffered temptation to give us strength.
Lord, have mercy.

You were transfigured to give us hope.
Lord, have mercy.

You suffered insults to bring us salvation.
Lord, have mercy.

You accepted death to bring us life with you.
Lord, have mercy.

Gone Retreatin'

As regular readers know, Tom and I have been part of the Beyond Cana retreat team for about 12 years. Ever since it has begun at our parish, actually.
The Beyond Cana® marriage retreat offers the time and tools to restore and strengthen marriages - with God and His direction for us at the center.

It's a 2½ day retreat designed to enrich the marriages of couples who want to focus on the communication, respect, love, and intimacy that are so integral to a good marriage.
It is presented twice a year and it's that time again! Please keep the team and the attending couples in your prayers. I'll be back on Monday!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lagniappe: Roman Libraries

I do not know whether any lending-libraries existed in Rome, but there were reference libraries, not only in Rome, but also in the country towns. Aulus Gellius says that once, when staying with a distinguished man at his villa near Tivoli, an argument rose among the guests on the danger of drinking iced water in hot weather. Those who considered the habit harmless doubted certain quotations made by a fellow guest, who, to prove his point, ran out to the public library and returned with a quotation from Aristotle strongly denouncing iced water as dangerous to health. Gellius adds that the guests were so much impressed by the quotation that they all decided to give up iced water in future. What interests me is not their decision, but whether the man who ran to the library was allowed to return with a copy of Aristotle, or whether he just wrote out the quotation; and this Gellius leaves in doubt.
H.V. Morton's A Traveller in Rome (1957)
Funnily enough, what interests me is just the opposite from Morton. I find it fascinating, and also hilarious, that all it takes is a quote from one famous philosopher and everyone decides to change their habits. Then, as now, food fads require very little traction to become authoritative and have everyone jumping to adjust their lifestyles. Human nature really doesn't change from age to age.

Worth a Thousand Words: Dogs from Europe

Hashimoto Kansetsu (1883 - 1945), Dogs from Europe
via Wikipedia

Lent and Fasting From Meat on Fridays

Reposting this because, well, it's that time of year and we all need a little help with the fine points of what the Church means by "meatless!" 

Also the point about fasting from flesh is one that strikes me hard every time I think of it.

From the USCCB's Lent FAQ:
Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs — all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden. However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste). Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.
In America, fasting from meat led to the fish fry as a
Lenten tradition. (Public domain photo.)
I was looking for this for another reason, actually, but it applied to the question our retreat group was asking about providing a Friday lunch including Tomato Basil Soup made with chicken broth.

I think the main reason, though I now have lost the place I originally read this, is that the original intent of fasting from meat is that we are fasting from ... flesh.

It is because Christ put on flesh to become man that we fast from it in penance for what He went through on our behalf.

A lovely connection isn't it?

At least it is to me.

And to have to dig into each ingredient turns it into an exercise in scrupulosity for me. I like that they make it easy for us that way.

I've always cooked with those sorts of guidelines for Friday fast days (heck, every Friday is a fast from meat at our house). So it's nice to see it spelled out ... no need for any vestiges of guilt when I put a bit of lard in our refried beans for those nachos!

Praying for the victims and their families in Florida

I was horrified, as were we all, to hear about the shootings in Florida. And when I read Archbishop Chaput's response, it echoed my own.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia issued a Feb. 15 statement in wake of the shooting in light of his past experience as shepherd of Denver.

“Nineteen years ago, I sat with the parents of children murdered in the Columbine High School massacre and buried some of their dead. Nothing seems to change, no matter how brutal the cost. Terrible things happen; pious statements are released, and the nation goes back to its self-absorbed distractions.

“The latest massacre in south Florida requires two things from all of us. We need to pray for the victims and their families because, as I witnessed firsthand at Columbine, their suffering is intense and long lasting. And we need to be angry: angry at our lawmakers for doing so little to prevent these catastrophes; angry at our news and entertainment media for simultaneously feeding off these tragedies and fueling them with a steady stream of sensationalism and moral incoherence; angry at ourselves for perversely tolerating these things, and then forgetting them until the next round of violence.

“This is Lent. As a people, we have a lot to repent and confess. And let's not lie to ourselves that tighter gun restrictions — as vital and urgent as they now are — will solve the problem. We've lost our respect for human life on a much broader scale, and this is the utterly predictable result.”
We talk and talk and what is being done? Little. We point our fingers and argue and settle back down into thinking it won't happen again. We fail both the victims and the perpetrators who, if they were in their right minds, would be horrified at what they have wrought.
Dearest Lord, have mercy on us. Show us the way. Help the suffering victims and grieving families and friends. Heal us all.
I can do little right now except pray. And yet, I am also helping prepare for our parish's semi-annual marriage retreat. It is our bit, the entire team's effort, to help make this world a better place. One where the goodness can ripple out and affect a broken world.

Doubtless there is more I can do, but for right now I am thankful to have this event to throw myself into.
Please, dear Lord, use us all to restore respect for human life so we may love one another as you love us.