Friday, March 23, 2018

Worth a Thousand Words: Moulin de la Galette

Vincent van Gogh, Moulin de la Galette, 1886
Via Arts Everyday Living

Well Said: Remember You Have Only One Soul

Remember you have only one soul; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one Glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.
St. Teresa of Avila, Maxims for Her Nuns

Litany for Lent #2

This seems the perfect litany to prepare us for Palm Sunday and Holy Week. Via a spot with many litanies for you to explore.
Christ, our Lord,
you endured the agony in the garden
to strengthen us in prayer.
Christ, have mercy.

You carried your cross to save us.
Christ, have mercy.

You were nailed to the cross to heal our wounds of sin.
Christ, have mercy.

You died on the cross to bring us eternal life.
Christ, have mercy.

You were raised to life so that we could live with you for God.
Christ, have mercy.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Worth a Thousand Words: A Breath of Fresh Air

A Breath of Fresh Air, Karin Jurick

Well Said: The cardinal sin

Perhaps there is only one cardinal sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise, because of impatience we cannot return.
W. H. Auden
I tend to think of impatience as being a specifically American flaw. However, this makes me reflect that impatience is perhaps simply a human flaw. Certainly it is food for reflection.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

An Inadvertent Trilogy: Their Finest, Dunkirk, Darkest Hour

We wound up watching these movies within a few weeks of each other and found that these separate takes on the battle of Dunkirk made a wonderful, if inadvertent, trilogy. They also make an interesting set of movies for reflection in the storytelling art, since they all center upon the same event but from very different points of view. 

During the Blitz in WWII, young Catrin Cole is hired to write the "slop" (women's dialogue) in propaganda films for the British public. These heavy-handed films are viewed with derision by the public so a film crew is assembled to make a better film that will have "authenticity, informed by optimism." And, of course, our young heroine is part of the screenwriting team that shapes the film which winds up being about a plucky pair of sisters who pilot their father's boat to Dunkirk to save soldiers trapped on the beach.

This largely ignored movie wants to be about a lot of things and mostly succeeds. It has a meeting of like minded souls, it nods to feminism and ageism, it shows what it was like to be in London during the Blitz, it is a movie about making movies and therefore takes us through the art of translating story into film. I found it likable but couldn't love it unabashedly, although I definitely do recommend it. It certainly is a basic, if sideways, introduction to the battle of Dunkirk for those who weren't aware of the desperate situation those soldiers faced and the bravery of the ordinary citizens who set out to save them.

This shows the results of the Dunkirk tale on the British public during the war, which makes us curious to know exactly what happened at Dunkirk. So let's see ...

The German army has trapped the British Expeditionary Force (400,000 soldiers) on the beach near the French town of Dunkirk. The ground forces halted but German planes continued to bomb the British. Meanwhile, the British soldiers knew only that they were trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea with no escape in sight.

This movie shows us three stories: two soldiers trapped on the beach with the troops, a small boat on the way to rescue soldiers, and fighter pilots trying to keep German bombers at bay so the boats can get the soldiers away.

Christopher Nolan wanted to make a movie that dropped the viewer into the experience of the battle of Dunkirk. He certainly succeeded. Nolan watched a number of great silent films in preparation, knowing that someone in peril isn't constantly narrating their own actions. As a result, there is a lot of action where we are simply watching and not needing dialogue. It works.

Because we are concerned with only the immediate plight or tasks of the moment, there are no politics or important people featured. This is about how everyone felt in their particular places and the measures they all took to succeed. Christopher Nolan does jigger the timelines for each story so that we see each one culminating at the same time but you can largely ignore that and just watch for the stories. It works either way.

This movie shows us how the term “Dunkirk Spirit” was coined. After this the national mindset was united among both soldiers and regular citizens to never surrender. If there is someone we wanted to hear from during Dunkirk it was Winston Churchill. So let's hear what he was doing ...

Unstoppable Nazi forces are on the point of conquering Europe. The Allied army is cornered Dunkirk’s beaches. Britain’s fate hangs on the abilities of Winston Churchill. Should he agree to negotiate for peace with Hitler or fight on against incredible odds?

This movie reminded me that there was nothing certain about the outcome of WWII and just how grim everything was as Europe fell to Hitler. The sense of doom was palpable as we watched German progress across Belgium and France. Dunkirk is the battle against which we see Churchill's decisions being made and his political struggles with those who want to sue for peace instead of fight. As I watched, I kept thinking of what we'd seen in Dunkirk, that while those men battled for life on the beach there were similar political battles being fought behind closed doors. All of which culminated in a seminal turning point in WWII.

This was also the first movie I'd seen from director Joe Wright, whose cinematic style captured me early into the film. His use of symbolism, light and shadow, movement and silence, all enhanced the story while seeming a natural part of what we saw. A really effective film and my favorite of this trilogy.

Worth a Thousand Words: Morocco

Morocco, Belinda Del Pesco

Well Said: Masks and what is behind them

Having given up God so as to be self-sufficient, man has lost track of his soul. He looks in vain for himself. He finds masks, and behind masks, death.
Jacques Mauritain
There could hardly be a better summary of the modern condition. This, too, is one that is worthy of meditation during Lent. The path to the Cross is hard, no doubt. But what lies beyond is not death, but life.

Where do we cling to masks, where do we eschew the Cross, which is to say Christ's own sacrifice for us? It is these realizations that send us to Confession, which helps us see ourselves and God as masks are stripped away and soothing, healing light is let in.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Well Said: The Path

What you're missing is that the path itself changes you.
Julien Smith
I think this is one that we all know, deep down, but we all have to ponder it for ourselves. I suppose Lent is the perfect time to consider the path and what changes we are agreeing to when we set ourselves upon it.

Worth a Thousand Words: The Siesta

Frederick Arthur Bridgman, The Siesta

Scott couldn't believe they threw Julie overboard, but the sea calmed immediately so he couldn't argue their logic.

The Book of Jonah — it's not just the story of a man and a big fish. We dig deeper into Jonah's story in Episode 178 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast. Join us!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Well Said: Unconsciously bearing testimony to God

I maintain that whatever either our lawgivers of philosophers uttered well, they elaborated by finding and contemplating some part of the Word. But since they did not know the whole of the Word, which is Christ, they often contradicted themselves … For all these writers were able to see realities darkly through the sowing of the implanted word that was in them … it was the work of Divine Providence on your behalf, that they, though often unconsciously, bore testimony to what the prophets said regarding one God … It is not, mind you, that we Christians hold the same opinions as your poets, but that all speak in imitation of ours.
St. Justin
More proof that Catholics have long relished looking for God's fingerprints in everything. Love it!

Worth a Thousand Words: A Street in Venice

John Singer Sargent, A Street in Venice

Solemnity of St. Joseph

Good news! NO FASTING on a solemnity. So enjoy a break from your Lenten fasting while giving thanks for St. Joseph. May he help us to all be so self-giving and faithful.

Giuseppe Maria Lo Spagnolo Crespi - Death of Saint Joseph [c.1712]
Via Gandalf's Gallery
The season of Lent is interrupted by the Solemnity of Joseph, Husband of Mary. With the exception of Our Lady, there is no greater saint in Heaven than Saint Joseph. This feast originated in the fifteenth century and was then extended to the whole church in 1621. In 1847 Pope Pius IX named Saint Joseph Patron of the Universal Church. Pope John XXIII had Saint Joseph's name included in the Roman Canon.

Here was an ordinary man to whom God granted extraordinary graces. Joseph was to fulfill a most singular mission in the salvific design of God. He experienced indescribable joys along with the trials of doubt and suffering. We recall his perplexity at the mystery of Mary's conception, at the extreme of material poverty in Bethlehem, at the prophecies of Simeon in the Temple, at the hurried flight into Egypt, at the difficulties of having to live in a foreign land, at the return from Egypt and the threat posed by Archelaus. Joseph proved himself always faithful to the will of God. He showed himself always ready to set aside his own human plans and considerations.

The explanation for this remarkable fidelity is that Jesus and Mary were at the centre of Joseph's life. Joseph's self-giving is an interweaving of faithful love, loving faith and confident hope. His feast is thus a good opportunity for us to renew our commitment to the Christian calling God has given each of us. (St. J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by)

In Conversation with God, Vol. 6: Special Feasts: January to June

Sunday, March 18, 2018

7th Sunday of St. Joseph

Coronation of Joseph, Valdés Leal, c, 1670

The Fatherly Intercession of St. Joseph

The fatherly intercession of Saint Joseph in the Church is a prolongation of the authority he exercised over Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, and Mary, Mother of the Church. This is the reason why Saint Joseph has been declared Patron of the Universal Church. That home in Nazareth contained all the elements of the nascent Church. It is fitting that Joseph care for the Church in the same holy manner in which he watched over the Holy Family  in Nazareth. (Pope Leo XIII) ...

Saint Joseph's mission extends to the end of time. His fatherhood applies to each one of us. Saint Teresa of Avila has written: Would that I could persuade all men to have devotion to this glorious Saint; for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God. I have never known any one who was really devoted to him, and who honored him by particular services, who did not visibly grow more and more in virtue; for he helps in a special way those souls who commend themselves to him. It is now some years since I have always on his feast asked him for something and I have always received it. If the petition be in any way amiss, he directs it aright for my greater good.
In Conversation with God: Volume Six: Special Feasts: January - June

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Weekend Joke: Didn't Get the Job

There are plenty more where that came from — at Savage Chickens.

Top o' the Mornin' to Ya: Happy St. Patrick's Day

A Joke
from Miss Cellania some time ago, but which I continually find amusing.
Mrs. O'Connor wants a Divorce

"Well, Mrs. O'Connor, so you want a divorce?" the solicitor questioned his client. "Tell me about it. Do you have a grudge?"

"Oh, no," replied Mrs. O'Connor. "Shure now, we have a carport."

The solicitor tried again. "Well, does the man beat you up?"

"No, no," said Mrs. O'Connor, looking puzzled. "Oi'm always first out of bed."

Still hopeful, the solicitor tried once again. "Well, does he go in for unnatural connubial practices?"

"Shure now, he plays the flute, but I don't think he knows anything about the connubial."

Now desperate, the solicitor pushed on. "What I'm trying to find out are what grounds you have."

"Bless ye, sor. We live in a flat -- not even a window box, let alone grounds."

"Mrs. O'Connor," the solicitor said in considerable exasperation, "you need a reason that the court can consider. What is the reason for you seeking this divorce?"

"Ah, well now," said the lady, "Shure it's because the man can't hold an intelligent conversation."
"It is my design to die in the brew-house; let ale be placed to my mouth when I am expiring so that when the choir of angels come they may say: 'Be God propitious to this drinker.'"So said St. Columbanus who is just one of those written about at Patron saints of beer.

A bit of St. Patrick's Confession which you may read it its entirety here.
1. I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age. I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our deserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts, nor were we obedient to our priests who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought down on us the fury of his being and scattered us among many nations, even to the ends of the earth, where I, in my smallness, am now to be found among foreigners.

2. And there the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that, even so late, I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my insignificance and pitied my youth and ignorance. And he watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son.

3. Therefore, indeed, I cannot keep silent, nor would it be proper, so many favours and graces has the Lord deigned to bestow on me in the land of my captivity. For after chastisement from God, and recognizing him, our way to repay him is to exalt him and confess his wonders before every nation under heaven. ...
St. Patrick's Breastplate ... the confession above is exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to have led to the glory that is this prayer.
I arise today, through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness, of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today, through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism, through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial, through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension, through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today, through the strength of the love of the Cherubim, in obedience of angels, in the service of archangels, in the hope of the resurrection to meet with reward, in the prayers of patriarchs, in prediction of prophets, in preaching of apostles, in faith of confessors, in innocence of holy virgins, in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of heaven; light of sun, radiance of moon, splendor of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of wind, depth of sea, stability of earth, firmness of rock.

I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me: God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak to me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me, God's host to save me, from the snares of devils, from temptations of vices, from every one who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a multitude.

I summon today, all these powers between me and those evils, against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul, against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of pagandom, against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry, against spells of women and smiths and wizards, against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today, against poisoning, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so there come to me abundance of reward. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me, Christ in the eye of every one that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today, through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness, of the Creator of Creation.

(The full text of what has come to be known as St. Patrick's Breast Plate. While it's not known for sure, ancient tradition has ascribed the prayer to Patrick himself. This is an older translation.)

For Celebrating:
  • Make some Irish Soda Bread. (For other Irish recipes, check here ... I'm not into corned beef at all, but lamb? Oh yeah ...)
  • I love the idea of  Irish dancing. See, that's how you use up all that alcohol in the Guiness (you are drinking Guiness today aren't you?) ... leaping and twirling?

    We foot it all the night,
    Weaving olden dances,
    Mingling hands and mingling glances
    Till the moon has taken flight;
    To and fro we leap
    And chase the frothy bubbles,
    While the world is full of troubles

    WB Yeats, The Stolen Child
Irish Heritage: I have been asked if I am Irish and yes I am. I believe it was my great-great-grandfather who was named Reeves. That then lead to some thought that the surname was actually an occupation as well, which I hadn't thought of. And so it was, according to Wikipedia at any rate.
Reeve may refer to:
  • High-reeve, a title taken by some English magnates during the 10th and 11th centuries
  • Reeve (England), an official elected annually by the serfs to supervise lands for a lord
  • Reeve (Canada), an elected chief executive in counties
  • Shire reeve, an office position that originated the term Sheriff
So I come from a proud line of middle managers. Ah, tradition ...