Monday, August 3, 2015

Well Said: God's Fool

Ah, well, I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God's fool, and all His work must be contemplated with respect.
Mark Twain, A Biography

Worth a Thousand Words: Baseball Players Practicing

"Baseball Players Practicing, 1875, Thomas Eakins.
Courtesy of the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art.
Via Wikipedia
There are some modern teams who have old-fashioned uniforms. I always wondered why they didn't look more "authentic" until I saw this and realized the new ones are tighter, don't have big belts, and ... most important of all ... the players don't have handlebar mustaches!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Worth a Thousand Words: Dusk on Fraser's Hill

Dusk on Fraser's Hill
Source: EatingAsia, published under a Creative Commons 2.0 license

Well Said: "And the flower said to the dirt ..."

This is really long but I love the story so much I wanted you to read it too.
It is hard to believe in this love because it is a tremendous love. "It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God." If we do once catch a glimpse of it. Once we recognize that we are sons of God, that the seed of divine life has been planted in us at baptism, we are overcome by that obligation placed upon us of growing in the love of God. and what we do not do voluntarily, He will do for us. Father Roy, our dear Josephite friend who worked with us at Easton and who has been these past two years in a hospital in Montreal, learning what it is to be loved, used to tell a story of a leper he met at a hospital up on the Gaspé peninsula. The leper complained to him, How could he believe in the love of God?

Father Roy proceeded to tell his favorite story. First of all, the humus from which all things spring, and the flower says to the dirt, "How would you like to grow and wave in the breeze and praise God?" And the dirt says "Yes," and that necessitates its losing its own self as dirt and becoming something else. Then the chicken comes along and says to the flower, "How would you like to be a chicken and walk around like I do and praise God?" And the flower assures the chicken that it would like it indeed. But then it has to cease to be a flower. And the man comes to the chicken and says to it, "How would you like to be a man and praise God?" And of course the chicken would like it too, but it has to undergo a painful death to be assimilated to the man, in order to praise God.

When Father Roy told this story, he said with awe, "And the leper looked at me, and a light dawned in his eyes, and he clasped my hands and gasped, 'Father!' And then we both cried together."

Father Roy is a childlike man, and the Russian leper up in the Canadian peninsula was a simple sufferer, and he saw the point that Father Roy was trying to make, and he began to believe in this love and to see some reason for his sufferings. He began to comprehend the heights and the depths and the strange mystery of this love. But it still takes the eyes of faith to see it.
Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage

Julie and Scott are dirty enough ...

... but where is the rest of the dozen? The Dirty Dozen (1967) is the subject of Episode 113 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast!

Prayer Requests — For the Culture of Life

Beyond Cana Marriage Retreat

As many regular readers know, I've been involved with Beyond Cana for many years. It is our parish's marriage enrichment retreat. I've seen God use it to renew and strengthen marriages in wonderful ways, including my own.

This weekend we begin another retreat, joined by many last minute sign ups. I love that as a sign that God is working in couples' hearts always and everywhere.

Please pray for the couples attending and those presenting the retreat.

For Those Who Suffer from the Culture of Death — A Holy Hour Today

We must pray unceasingly for those who suffer from the unmerciful culture of death, laid bare in recent days and weeks with the Planned Parenthood videos we’ve seen and read about.

If you are in New York Friday (July 31) at 3 pm there will be a special holy hour for mercy, healing, and reparation. Please join us in prayer in person or wherever you are. Details here.

The rest of us can join them in prayer and fasting. That's the beauty of God's internet. (Via Kathryn Jean Lopez.)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Catholic Bytes - a great new Catholic podcast

Each episode features a different priest who is in Rome right now. They discuss a variety of topics such as the importance of the body, prayer, how Christ makes us free, saints, and much more.

No matter the topic, the explanation is simple and understandable. A host gently inserts questions for further information but the focus is on the presenter. There's also a quick summing up at the end which is a nice touch.

The episodes are short, between 8-10 minutes, which helps make them easy to fit into your schedule and to understand. Or you can do it like me. I'm addicted and have been listening to one after another.

They'd be good for anyone who is interested in learning more about the Catholic faith, from those who are simply curious to Catholics who'd like a quick refresher which might also just prove inspirational at the same time.

Catholic Bytes just began about a month ago but they've already got 13 episodes posted.

Not every episode shows up in the iTunes feed but if you go to Catholic Bytes' website, it's easy to go to the older page and download the older episodes.

Worth a Thousand Words: Keepin' It Cool

Keepin' It Cool
"Anana swims in her 60F chilled water to beat the 95F heat."
taken by Valerie, ucumari photography
Some rights reserved

Well Said: What We Deserve

It is always a terrible thing to come back to Mott Street. To come back in a driving rain, to men crouched on the stairs, huddled in doorways, without overcoats because they sold them perhaps the week before when it was warm, to satisfy hunger or thirst — who knows? Those without love would say, "It serves them right, drinking up their clothes." God help us if we got just what we deserved!
Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage
"God help us if we got just what we deserved!"

Yes. That would indeed be a terrible fate.

Can I visit it upon another? There is justice, to be sure, and it is much needed in this world. But justice must be served up with mercy. That is the delicate balance with which we all struggle.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Worth a Thousand Words: Life on the Provence Coast

Life on the Provence Coast
taken by French Sampler
None of the alleys near me ever look like this. Darn it.

Lagniappe: "I do not know of a happier way to spend an afternoon..."

When we were not doing up jams and jellies, we were down in the brook, which is deep enough to swim in, and shallow enough, with a good sand bank, for the children to play on, so it was a vacation indeed. I do not know of a happier way to spend an afternoon than sitting in a shallow brook with babies paddling happily around. There were little crawfish on the bottom, little minnows darting between your fingers as you try to catch them, boat flies on the surface, and beautiful blue dragonflies flying just above the water. There were neither mosquitoes nor flies nor gnats. The sun-warmed waters of the brook made up for all the "pail baths" we had been taking through the heat. We washed the children's clothes before we went back to the house, and we picked Indian pipes and pennyroyal as we went back through the field.
Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage
The lovely thing about this journal is that she writes down life as it happens so between thoughts about faith and deep subjects, worries about retreats and how to feed the poor, comes some beautiful writing about episodes like this "vacation." I feel as if I had gone along.

Please Allow Me to Bend Your Ear About St. Martha, My Patron

Christ in the House of Mary and Martha, Jan Vermeer
via Wikipedia

Today is Saint Martha's feast day and I still have not written anything I like better about her than this piece, which I present again.

It is no secret that Martha is my patron saint. I chose her because she is the patron saint of housewives but it soon became clear that it probably was God who chose to put us together. I relate to Martha in so many ways and her life stands as a measure of the person I work toward becoming ... a faithful servant who loves Jesus and is his good friend.
As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary (who) sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me."

The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
This is the story about Martha that springs to mind for most people and this is the first time (chronologically) that we hear her mentioned. We have all heard variations of the basic message about this passage of keeping your mind on Jesus no matter what else you may be doing.

However, we also see the confidence Martha shows when approaching Jesus with her complaint. What good friends they were for her to feel so comfortable coming to him like that. Jesus' affection is clear as he answers her much more gently than he often does his disciples.

For us, it also is a lesson in the fact that there is nothing too small to go to Jesus about. He will always help us with anything, even if it is something like helping give the right perspective.
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.

So the sisters sent word to him, saying, "Master, the one you love is ill."

When Jesus heard this he said, "This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus...

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home.

Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (But) even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you."

Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise."

Martha said to him, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day."

Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

She said to him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world."

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, "The teacher is here and is asking for you."
Again, a familiar story featuring Martha though more often it is told from the point of view of the miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead. First of all, we may wonder how Martha knew that Jesus had arrived when Mary didn't. What it may make us think of is someone who is attuned to all the little details even in the middle of her grief. Perhaps there was a flutter of unusual activity that clued her in, so she went to investigate.

When we examine Martha's conversation with Jesus, we see again how familiar and friendly she is with him. She doesn't hesitate to say that she is disappointed that he didn't save her brother. How can one not love the confidence and trust that shows?

Martha also shows her great faith and understanding in unmistakable terms: I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world. What an amazing moment that must have been between Jesus and Martha. Yet, after such a moment, she also doesn't forget her sister, Mary, who is still at home mourning. Martha is both loving and practical to the bone.

We have an unmistakable example of that practicality when Jesus is getting ready to raise Lazarus from the dead and we are told: Martha, the dead man's sister, said to him, "Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days" (John 11:39). Martha's unwavering, housewifely, detail-oriented common sense is used to emphasize the greatness of Jesus' miracle. The corpse is well into decay and yet he will still be brought back to life. How like God to use the mundane and practical moment to catch our attention and bring it to an even greater realization of His glory and love for us.
Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.

Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus 2 and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Through watching Martha's progression in the previous Scripture, this very simple mention speaks to the difference between the first time we saw her and now.

Martha served.

That is all that needs to be said. Nothing about needing help is brought up now or comparing another's service to her own. Mary serves Jesus in her way while Martha serves Jesus in hers. Together they complement each other as both have chosen the better part. A beautiful end to a beautiful journey of faith.

I pray that my own journey may prove as fruitful as my dear St. Martha's.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Well Said: Involuntary versus voluntary penance

St. Angela of Foligno said that penances voluntarily undertaken are not half so meritorious as those imposed on us by the circumstances of our lives and cheerfully borne. ...

Most of us have not the courage to set out on this path wholeheartedly, so God arranges it for us.
Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage
You know, that never would have occurred to me. Well said, indeed. And food for thought about how I live my life. For one thing I am terrible about taking up voluntary penances for the improvement of my soul. It is a comfort to think that God provides anyway.

Not that I love inconvenience or hardship, but we can't escape it so this is just one more way to orient myself toward the good that can come (and is intended) from it.

Worth a Thousand Words: Vase with Cornflowers and Poppies

Van Gogh, Vase with Cornflowers and Poppies
via Arts Everyday Living
Last year, I painted nothing but flowers to accustom myself to a a color other than grey, that’s to say pink, soft or bright green, light blue, violet, yellow, orange, glorious red.
Vincent van Gogh, letter to sister Willemien,
late October, 1887
Arts Everyday Living is featuring Vincent van Gogh this week, in honor of the 125th anniversary of his death. Do swing by there and take a look around.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Worth a Thousand Words: Los Angeles Theater

Los Angeles Theater
Illustrator: Chris Turnham
I love L.A. This illustration makes me wish I were there right now.

Well Said: What's Your Hurry?

“What's your hurry?"

"Because now is the only time there ever is to do a thing in," said Miss Ophelia.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin
I'm rereading this for the fourth time as I prepare for an upcoming episode of A Good Story is Hard to Find. Still loving it all the way.

Miss Ophelia and Topsy's relationship is one of my favorite parts of the book.

I listened to a number of audio versions before taking myself back to the one I did myself at Forgotten Classics. I was gratified to find that the reading wasn't half-bad; in fact, no worse than the best of what I could find on Audible. Plus the commentary was comparable to that of Heather Ordover at CraftLit.

It sounds as if I'm patting myself on the back, I know. The truth is that enough time has gone by (7 years) that I can listen to it objectively. I'm just pleased I did the job well. And can enjoy it myself from the "outside," as it were.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Well Said: Prayer for a Busy Day

What kind of an interior life can a mother of three children have who is doing all her own work on a farm with wood fires to tend and water to pump? Or the grandmother either?


How to lift the heart to God, our first beginning and last end, except to say with the soldier about to go into battle — "Lord, I'll have no time to think of Thee but do Thou think of me."
Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage
Within those ellipses (...) Day gave a summary of all her activities on the farm with her daughter. Oy veh!

You don't have to be a mother with little ones to occasionally look at the day ahead and foretell so much activity that just keeping on track is a chore, much less hoping for any spare time to feel the presence of God. I love that prayer for that very reason.

Worth a Thousand Words: Chagall

painted by Karin Jurick
I love Karin Jurick's paintings of people looking at art but this one hits me harder than the others which are usually in well-lit museums. This one is in a museum also but it feels like a chapel because of the lighting and ambiance.