Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Taboos of Spiritual Lives

I'm wondering why most of us who write posts that are inherently religious in subject matter always write material that seems to describe the assertions of our Catholic tradition with unwavering faith and certitude. Do any of you ever doubt? Are most of us walking around in a state of perpetual ecstasy? Perhaps I'm wrong, but sharing those things that make our spiritual life falter might be just as therapeutic as visiting a shrink or a top-notch theologian.

I've been in blogosphere now for a few years and not once (to my recollection) has anyone openly written about any nagging ideas or circumstances that may have lead to a moment(s) where you question profoundly the existence of God. I wrote about some of my own moments of incredulity way back when I first started this blog, but never have I seen a similar attempt on behalf of other bloggers. Yes, I've read plenty of conversion stories that speak of pre-conversion misconduct and conscienceless ways of living, but one might come to the conclusion that after the conversion all was peachy and fab. Why? Is showing or sharing with others any weaknesses (not sinfulness) in our faith tantamount to being an exhibitionist? Or, worse yet, would a divulgement of that sort destroy our credibility in such a way that the next post we write about Christmas or the risen Christ would have absolutely no merit?

Keep in mind that I'm not saying one should go public with his or her sinfulness so that everyone gets a chance to know about it. I'm referring to those thoughts that off and on plague the religious and may cause him or her to question the validity of their faith.

Even St. Thérèse de Lisieux (and Mother Teresa) had their moments. I'll try to find the quote of St. Thérèse where she expressed a profound moment of disbelief.


And here it is: "I get tired of the darkness all around me and try to refresh my jaded spirits with the thoughts of that bright country where my hopes lie; and what happens? It is a worse torment than ever; the darkness itself seems to borrow, from the sinners who live in it, the gift of speech. I hear its mocking accents; 'It's all a dream, this talk of heavenly country...Death will make nonsense of your hopes; it will only mean a night darker than ever, the night of mere non-existence.'"

I love St. Therese. Here is someone of great saintliness experiencing tremors in here spiritual foundations. It's of little wonder she's a Doctor of the Church. Pray for me and for all of us, Little Flower.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saint Joseph Cafasso

Father Cafasso had spent a whole week instructing and encouraging forty-five notorious criminals in a large cell, in preparation for the feast of the Virgin Mary. Almost all of them had promised to go to confession on the eve of the feast.But when the day arrived, no one had the courage to be the first one, whether because of human respect, the guile of the devil, or for some other reason.

Father Cafasso renewed his request, briefly recalling the instruction of the preceding days and reminding them of their promise, but in vain. What was he to do?

Supernatural love is ingenious, and Father Cafasso found a solution. Laughingly he approached one of them, the tallest and strongest among them. Without uttering a word, he grabbed the man's long, thick beard in his frail hands. At first the prisoner thought that Father Cafasso was jesting, so he only said, with as much courtesy as one might expect from one of his kind, "Take all of me, but leave my beard behind."
"I'm not letting go until you come to confession."
"But I'm not coming."
"Then I wont let you go."
"I don't want to go to confession."
"Talk all you want, you're not going to get away from me. I wont let you go until you've made your confession."
"I'm not prepared."
"I'll help you."
The convict could have very easily shaken off Father Cafasso's hold, but either because of respect for him, or, better yet, because of God's grace, it is a fact that the convict yielded and allowed Father Cafasso to lead him to a corner of the large cell. The priest sat down on a straw mattress and prepared him for confession. Surprisingly, in a few moments, the convict was deeply moved, and amid tears and sighs, was just barely able to finish the recitation of his sins.

Taken from the book The Wisdom of the Saints.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Take a Listen

I've never seen the movie "The Specialist", but I'm a huge fan of British composer John Barry. Barry is amazingly prolific, composing soundtracks to some of Hollywood's most successful films, including the early films of the James Bond franchise. Below is an excerpt of the "The Specialist" soundtrack- one of my favorites by this great composer and one of his more evocative composition. When you listen to it, you might be reminded of a Hollywood-type film noir in which a man wearing a classic Fedora hat and a gray raincoat (a detective?) meets a woman of interest inside a smokey, dimly-lit tavern. The string section has a rich, romantic accompaniment, which is one of Barry's signature marks.

I know you know this one!

Theme to "Out of Africa"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Manna from Heaven??

I can imagine that many Catholics are driven out of the Catholic Church for all kinds of reasons: poorly catechized; misperceptions; misunderstandings; lacking meaningful connections to a local parish, etc. Some fall for the likes of the evangelicals featured in the two short videos below.

I can respect religions that are not mine for reasons that I think are too obvious to state here. I know that the whole salvation thing is much too complex and inaccessible for a human being to know fully, which is why in the Catholic Church we canonize individuals, but never, NOT ONCE, have we said anyone is officially in hell. I also believe that God's saving grace is mysteriously present in non-Catholic/ non-Christian religions, beckoning to him those practitioners through means that are unrecognizable to me as Christian in content.

If you are a Catholic (once a Catholic always a Catholic) practicing another faith and want to reconnect with your spiritual roots, why don't you click on the "Catholics Come Home" icon located on the top right hand side of this blog. It will provide you with a slew of information as to how to come back home. If you want to find a Catholic parish in your vicinity, click here.

How do some of these televangelists do it? Peter Popoff, who is as crooked as they come, had been exposed for fraud in the late 1980's and then makes a resurgence as a televangelist despite his charlatan past.

Peter Popoff's Manna from Heaven

They Speak in Tongues

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My First Portrait

I'm trying to get myself into a Lenten state of mind. I'm trying to instill in me the Lenten spirit that echoes of renewal and rebirth in Christ, and of the promises of life in Him after this one.

This is my first portrait of Jesus, done in pastel pencils. It isn't very large, and after examining it up close I see the tell-tale signs that this image was produced by a neophyte. This is absolutely true. I'm a complete novice in the art arena and NOWHERE nearly as talented and as experienced as Terry, who has produced some very beautiful pieces. The many infractions that are clearly visible in this portrait might still be correctable, but down the line. I may leave them there as a way to gauge my progress and learn from my mistakes. I haven't worked with pastel pencils to this degree ever, so I still need plenty of elbow grease with this medium.

Excuse my imprudence. I still had it on the easel when I took this picture, so the masking tape is still showing. Again, I clearly see the "too much" and the "not enough" faux pas present in this drawing, which I may correct in a future opportunity.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Here's one I should have posted during Christmas week (lyrics below).

New Kids got run over by a reindeer
All the little children are in shock.
No more loud annoying high falsetto-oh-ohhh
Now there's no more New Kids on the Block.

They were singing their new hit song,
"Cover Girls With The Right Stuff".
Now they're trophies for a reindeer,
Mounted on his mantle, Hangin' Tough.

Many times I was mistaken,
When I went to see their show.
Danny, Donny, Joe, Jon, Jordan,
Or was it Larry, Curly, Shemp and Moe-oh-oh-oh-ohh?

New Kids got run over by a reindeer.
All the little children are in shock.
No more loud annoyin' high falsetto-oh-ohh
Now there's no more New Kids on the Block.

Now the New Kid fans are cryin',
And they say this really sucks!
But don't blame it on the reindeer,
'Cause I'm the one who gave him fifty bucks.

Life is great without the New Kids,
Now let's deal the final blow:
Drop our pants and hang our hineys,
And tell their fans it's really mistletoe-oh-oh-oh-ohh.

New kids got run over by a reindeer.
No more little brats for me to mock.
No more pre-pubescent high falsetto-oh-ohh
Now there's no more New Kids on the Block

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Goin' Honky Tonkin' (A trivial post)

Did you know that the majority of radio stations in the United States cater exclusively to country music aficionados? This music genre is arguably one of the most popular types currently in existence, boasting millions in record sales each year, and televises countless numbers of award ceremonies that many Americans enjoy watching. Many of my closes friends love country music as do many of my co-workers.

I hate it.

I love the country and the contemplative plains and log cabins and horses and stables and much of the imagery that is currently associated with country music. It's the soundtrack to the country scene that I CANNOT absorb without medicinal assistance (kidding). But my aversion to country music is very real. That twangy, ascending and descending scales played by an instrument (I think) called the pedal steel guitar is the yowl of Armageddon, as far as I'm concerned. And the accentuated vernacular that we all have heard country music singers employ, I simply find cruel and immoral, since I'm convinced it's bundled with the sounds of a tortured kitty. Ya'll get me?

No, no, no, thank you, Mr. Strait. Listening to your song makes me feel like I'm on a wagon surrounded by outlaws.

By the way, I'm opened and receptive to criticism of the so-called "music of antiquity" : the Allegri, Victoria, Tavenor, Part and Palestrina compositions. I recognize that their music- which I love to no end -is not exactly what one would refer to as mainstream.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pray For Elle

Elle passed away. Please keep her mom, Adrienne, in your prayers.

"Sunlight streams through window pane unto a spot on the floor.... then I remember it's where you used to lie, but now you are no more. Our feet walk down a hall of carpet, and muted echoes sound.... then I remember, it's where your paws would joyously abound. A voice is heard along the road, and up beyond the hill, then I remember it can't be yours.... your golden voice is still. But I'll take that vacant spot of floor and empty muted hall and lay them with the absent voice and unused dish along the wall. I'll wrap these treasured memorials in a blanket of my love and keep them for my best friend until we meet above."

Keep Elle in your prayers.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Reconciled and Reformed

Looks like the brothers (Barry and Robin) made-up and have decided to reform the Bee Gees.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Guess what?

February 17, 2010.
It will arrive (thank God) before you know it.