Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lagniappe: "A little extra money is always welcome"

Soundings must be made at all three mounds. We make a start with Tell Mozan. There is a village there, and with Hamoudi as ambassador we try and obtain workmen. The men are doubtful and suspicious.

"We do not need money," they say. "It has been a good harvest."

For this is a simple, and, I think, consequently a happy part of the world. Food is the only consideration. If the harvest is good, you are rich. For the rest of the year there is leisure and plenty, until the time comes to plough and sow once more.

"A little extra money," says Hamoudi, like the serpent of Eden, "is always welcome."

They answer simply: "But what can we buy with it? We have enough food until the harvest comes again."

And here, alas! the eternal Eve plays her part. Astute Hamoudi baits his hook. They can buy ornaments for their wives.

The wives nod their heads. This digging, they say, is a good thing!

Reluctantly the men consider the idea. ...
Agatha Christie, Come Tell Me How You Live

Worth a Thousand Words: Satan of the Sea

Via Pulp Covers

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Gladioli in a Vase

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Gladioli in a Vase, c. 1875
via Arts Everyday Living

Well Said: There is no entering in ...

The next morning we reach the Cilician Gates, and look out over one of the most beautiful views I know. It is like standing on the rim of the world and looking down on the promised land, and one feels much as Moses must have felt. For here, too, there is no entering in. ... The soft, hazy dark blue loveliness is a land one will never reach; the actual towns and villages when one gets there will be only the ordinary everyday world—not this enchanted beauty that beckons you down. ...
Agatha Christie, Come Tell Me How You Live
There is a lot of wisdom in that short observation. It's a lesson I always need to remember to apply to my own life. From far away, plans, dreams, desires, always look perfect. But it is close up, in the nitty gritty, where we live.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Genesis Notes: Hagar's Resume

I never thought of Hagar as a perpetual avoider, a run away, but there you go. And yet she also was thrust into a situation which most of us would find challenging, to say the least, when Sarah gave her to Abraham as a surrogate. We might also get in the habit of running away under those circumstances.

Matthias Stom, Sarah Leading Hagar to Abraham
Escape of some kind is usually the most tempting solution to our problems. In fact, it can become a habit. Hagar was a person who used that approach. When the going got tough, she usually got going -- in the other direction.

However, it is worthwhile to note that the biggest challenges Hagar faced were brought on by other people's choices.

Strengths and accomplishments:
  • Mother of Abraham's first child, Ishmael, who became the founder of the Arab nations
Weaknesses and mistakes:
  • When faced with problems, she tended to run away
  • Her pregnancy brought out strong feelings of pride and arrogance
Lessons from her life:
  • God is faithful to his plan and promises, even when humans complicate the process
  • God shows himself as one who knows us and wants to be known by us
  • The New Testament uses Hagar as a symbol of those who would pursue favor with God by their own efforts, rather than by trusting in his mercy and forgiveness
Vital statistics:
  • Where: Canaan and Egypt
  • Occupation: Servant, mother
  • Relatives: Son - Ishmael
Key verse:
"Then the angel of the Lord told her, 'Go back to your mistress and submit to her.'" (Genesis 16:9)

Hagar's story is told in Genesis 16-21. She also is mentioned in Galatians 4:24, 25.
All quotes from Life Application Study Bible. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

While Scott runs through a frustrating maze, Julie marvels at her ability to find Karl Urban in every inkblot she sees.

We dig deep below the surface Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes and find Genesis everywhere we look. Get it all in Episode 154 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Entrance to the Underground

Entrance to the Underground
by Edward B. Gordon

Well Said: One does not set a Force in motion lightly.

“... But if I go with the Host ... then I go as an agent of the Holy Catholic Church, prepared to execute what I would consider the most spiritual rites of my office. Then I go as Christ’s representative on earth.” He was now looking at Matt seriously, solemnly. “I may be a poor excuse for a priest—at times I’ve thought so—a bit jaded, a bit cynical, and just lately suffering a crisis of ... what? faith? identity? ... but I still believe enough in the awesome, mystical, and apotheotic power of the church which stands behind me to tremble a bit at the thought of accepting your request lightly. The church is more than a bunch of ideals, as these younger fellows seem to believe. It’s more than a spiritual Boy Scout troop. The church is a Force ... and one does not set a Force in motion lightly.”
Stephen King, Salem’s Lot

Solemnity of St. Joseph

Because March 19 falls on a Sunday, the celebration of this solemnity has been moved to March 20 for this year.

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

Well Said: The worst form of inequality

The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.
Aristotle
And thousands of years later, here we are ... still in the same place.

Worth a Thousand Words: Lady with a Bouquet

Lady with a Bouquet. The artist's wife with flowers from the Viburnum 'Snowball' bush, Charles Courtney Curran

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

Just a few things for St. Patrick's Day.

First of all, it's Lent and St. Patrick's Day is on Friday ... you really just need to shoulder your cross and skip the corned beef (which is never a problem for me ... I loathe it).

Bishops regularly get asked for dispensations under these circumstances and, from what I've seen over the years, they all have the tendency to do what the new Dallas bishop did this year — allow your meatless day to be observed the day before or after.

Get creative with potatoes and you will be in the proud spirit of the Irish who can celebrate using whatever is at hand.



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 ...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Well Said: God made the world beautiful because he loves us.

One July evening, cloudless, moonless, with just a hint of a humid breeze, her father took her out into the back yard in the dark and told her to look up at the sky.

From one horizon to the other, all across the black carpet of the night, were the stars — thousands of them, tens of thousands, in clusters and rivers of light. And in the quiet, her father said, “God made the world beautiful because he loves us.”

That was more than sixty years ago. … still, when she closes her eyes, she can see that carpet of stars and hear her father’s voice: God made the world beautiful because he loves us. Creation is more than an accident of dead matter. It’s a romance. It has purpose. It sings of the Living God. It bears his signature. And it's our home.
Charles J. Chaput, Strangers in a Strange Land

Worth a Thousand Words: Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, 1876, Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Strangers in a Strange Land by Charles J. Chaput

Strangers in a Strange Land: 
Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World
by Charles J. Chaput
We've spoken frankly so far about the American landscape as we now know it. Some of the words have been difficult. But candor is not an enemy of love. And real hope begins in honesty.

The current spirit of our country inclines us to be troubled. It's a sensible temptation. How can any one person or small group of people make a difference? How can we change and renew things so that our children grow up in a better world? We come back to a question suggested at the start of this book: How can we live in joy, and serve the common good as leaven, in a culture that no longer shares what we believe?
As we might expect from the author of Render Unto Caesar, this is a book which focuses on how we can live both an authentically Catholic life and an American life in changing, chaotic times.

The first half of the book examines our nation's history, especially as it is tied to religion; how our society became "post Christian;" and why it will not return to the way it was. That last truth hit me hard. I'm not someone who thinks restoring a few laws is going to change the national psyche but I think I felt as if everything would settle back into old norms at some point. Absorbing Chaput's explanation was tough. But if we don't know the truth, then we aren't on firm ground for future decisions. So I'm grateful.

The second half looks at where we go from here, as Catholics, as Americans. I found it realistic and hope-filled and inspiring. What is hope and how do we maintain it? How do Jesus' promises in the Beatitudes apply to our lives and times? What does it mean to be the "people of God" in a distracted and unbelieving age?

Chaput's answer is one that I have always felt is a basic truth, perhaps because I myself came from a completely secular life before my conversion. We begin by reforming our own hearts, being authentic Christian witnesses by living our own lives with conviction. We have to be in love with our faith and with God. That is what spills over as we go into the world for work, school, and all the things that make up a normal life.

It may not always be easy, but, let's face it, we've been spoiled. All you have to do is look at the way Christians are persecuted around the world to see that.

In different ways, with varying directness, Chaput repeatedly points out that people living a fully Christian life make a difference in the world.
Jesus uses three images to describe using our gifts for God's kingdom: salt, light, and leaven, or yeast. ...

Note the logic at work here. Yeast mixes with flour and makes dough rise. We sprinkle salt on our food, and the meal tastes better. We turn on the lights of a dark room so we can see. The yeast, salt, and light aren't the focus of our attention. Rather, they impart their qualities to something else to make it better. And so it should be with the work of the Church in the world.
Chaput directly addresses why withdrawing from the world won't work. I found his first reason the most compelling: "The world will come after us" because reminders of an abandoned past will be increasingly irritating. In his discussion of forming a Catholic identity, Chaput acknowledges the Benedict Option idea, albeit without naming it specifically, adding:
This is wisdom, so long as we don't give up on the good present in American society. We need to create places where Catholic culture can flourish and be handed down to the next generation. ...
I'm not a fan of the Benedict Option, at least as I've read about it to date, but I do think it has begun a much needed discussion. Catholics and, indeed, all Christians need to be mindful of the uneasy ground beneath our feet as our society goes through a watershed moment. Strangers in a Strange Land is a clear-sighted road map to where we've been and where we need to head now.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Well Said: Our place of holiness

We, the ordinary people of the streets, believe with all our might that this street, this world, where God has placed us, is our place of holiness.
Madeleine Delbrêl

Worth a Thousand Words: Lotus Lilies

Lotus Lilies by Charles C. Curran, 1888

Saint Junipero Serra's Camino by Stephen J. Binz


Saint Junipero Serra's Camino


A Pilgrimage Guide to the California Missions
by Stephen J. Binz
For each of the 21 missions, this guide offers you the street address for your GPS, the mission’s website, a brief history of the place, the story of the mission’s patron or namesake, and information about the mission bells. You’ll be given a tour of the mission church, as well as a prayer service for your visit.

But this book is much more than a simple travel guide. You’ll learn more about the life of Saint Junípero Serra, whose vision is responsible for this holy Camino. You’ll be enriched by two interwoven traditions: the Spanish Franciscan and the American Indian.
I've always been drawn to the idea of walking the Camino de Santiago, that ancient pilgrimage which treks over mountains and takes weeks to complete. I've also always known in the depths of my sensible heart that time and money will never allow that pilgrimage.

However, it never occurred to me that there is a camino of sorts in the United States. California has a well known string of twenty-one missions stretching from San Diego to San Francisco. On foot, on bike, or by car, that is within my reach. Stephen J. Binz has written an eminently usable guidebook which has all the usual practical travel guide info, ranging from GPS to area history to mission bell names.

I learned a lot about California's early history that I never knew before, including details about problems between native people, colonists, and soldiers. Binz also includes that the unintended consequences of Spanish evangelization which didn't always work out for either the missionaries or the natives. I really respected Binz's acknowledgement that history is never simple as we like to paint it, while he sorted through each mission's story.

What makes this more than a travel guide, however, is that Binz takes care to feed the traveler's spiritual side. He explores each mission's patron with the lessons they have for us in our times. Each entry includes a litany and spiritual readings from scripture or missionary letters. These are designed to make each mission visit into a visit with Our Lord.

The only thing I'd change would be to include more photos of each location and to print them in color. But if you want to make a camino pilgrimage, this is the most complete resource I can imagine.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Embraced by the Raging Waves

Embraced by the raging waves
taken by Remo Savisaar

Well Said: Which path one chooses

As for me, I believe in a good God and in a life that is on the side of good, a life in which it is not a matter of indifference whether one takes one path or another.
Paul Claudel

Real Music by Anthony Esolen


Real Music

A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church
by Anthony Esolen

I am writing this book to bring back the words of great Christian hymns, most of which are no longer heard anywhere. These hymns are not pious sentiments (or, worse, self-celebrating sentiments or social propaganda) set to a catchy tune. They are works of art. They are, at their best, profound meditations upon the meaning of Scripture, their artistry serving to help us to see truths we may have missed or to hear in our hearts, not only in our ears, the implications of the Word of God for our lives. they are verbal and melodic icons of Jesus Christ.
I'm lucky enough to be part of a parish which offers a rich variety of music and our choice is the 11:00 Mass, where we often sing same great hymns that Anthony Esolen writes about in this stellar book.

Esolen's translation of Dante and his commentary on the missal, The Beauty of the Word, are favorites of mine. His adroit connecting of poetry and prayer with underlying meanings have often opened my eyes and inspired me. Naturally I was eager to see what he would show me in some of my favorite hymns. (Without the music, it's hard to have a complete experience so a CD of 18 beautifully sung hymns is included with the book, though that is far from the complete number that Esolen examines.)

He begins with the psalms and how many classic hymns have come from them. Then he looks at how the English poet would focus on a particular aspect of a psalm and develop it as a bit of theology for us to sing.

I've loved these hymns for their rich imagery and meaning but never made the sorts of connections that Esolen points out. That is why it is so good to have Anthony Esolen for a guide. He clearly loves the theology, poetry, and meaning of each hymn.

Here's an example, from the chapter "Who is Christ?"
The glory of these forty days
We celebrate with songs of praise;
For Christ, by Whom all things were made,
Himself has fasted and has prayed.
The poetry is so straightforward that we might miss the artistry. Notice the word glory. That should surprise us. When Jesus went forth into the desert, what glory accompanied Him? No train of disciples, no fanfare, no parade, no earthquake. The glory, then, must subsist in the very absence of the manifestations of glory. It susbsists in loving humility—a glory the world misses.

Thus we can understand the first part of the stanza only in the context of the last part. This is what's glorious: Christ by Whom the world was brought into being (cf. Jn 1:3), Himself has fasted and has prayed. He Himself has done so. The pronoun is emphatic. The richness of the world's being—all things—is placed in contrast with Jesus' depriving Himself of food, and His attitude of complete openness, complete self-emptying, in prayer before the Father.
We sing These Forty Days all the time during Lent but until I read Esolen's explanation, the hymn never came fully alive.

Chapters range from The Psalms to the Nativity, the Cross and the Resurrection to Our Love for Jesus to The Glory of God, and, of course, much more. Not only does this book help us to enter into each song, it gives us spiritual food in helping us understand and grow closer to God.

I can't recommend Real Music highly enough. Read it and then go ask your music director to slip some of these classics into his regular repertoire. They're good for the soul.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Projet d'aménagement de la Grande Galerie du Louvre

Hubert Robert - Projet d'aménagement de la Grande Galerie du Louvre (1796)
via Wikipedia

Lent: Who Do You Say I Am?

From a long ago insert I wrote for our church bulletin.
Who Do You Say I Am?
Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. ...
Luke, chapter 4

The common practice today is to measure the Bible against the so-called modern worldview, whose fundamental dogma is that God cannot act in history—that everything to do with God is to be relegated to the domain of subjectivity. And so the Bible no longer speaks of God, the living God; no, now we alone speak and decide what God can do and what we will and should do. And the Antichrist, with an air of scholarly excellence, tells us that any exegesis1 that reads the Bible from the perspective of faith in the living God, in order to listen to what God has to say, is fundamentalism; he wants to convince us that only his kind of exegesis, the supposedly purely scientific kind, in which God says nothing and has nothing to say, is able to keep abreast of the times.

The theological debate between Jesus and the devil is a dispute over the correct interpretation of Scripture, and it is relevant to every period of history. The hermeneutical2 question lying at the basis of proper scriptural exegesis is this: What picture of God are we working with? The dispute about interpretation is ultimately a dispute about who God is. Yet in practice, the struggle over the image of God, which underlies the debate about valid biblical interpretation, is decided by the picture we form of Christ: Is he, who remained without worldly power, really the son of the living God? ...

The point at issue is revealed in Jesus’ answer, which is also taken from Deuteronomy: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Deut 6:16). ... The issue, then, is the one we have already encountered: God has to submit to experiment. He is “tested,” just as products are tested. He must submit to the conditions that we say are necessary if we are to reach certainty. If he doesn’t grant us now the protection he promises in Psalm 91,3 then he is simply not God. He will have shown his own word, and himself, too to be false.

We are dealing with the vast question as to how we can and cannot know God, how we are related to God and how we can lose him. The arrogance that would make God an object and impose our laboratory conditions upon him is incapable of finding him. For it already implies that we deny God as God by placing ourselves above him, by discarding the whole dimension of love, of interior listening; by no longer acknowledging as real anything but what we can experimentally test and grasp. To think like that is to make oneself God. And to do that is to abase not only God, but the world and oneself, too.

Joseph Ratzinger4,­ Jesus of Nazareth


-------------------------------------------------------

We are quite used to thinking of Jesus’ struggle with temptation as a scenario of the devil offering worldly methods which Jesus spurns while worshiping God. This often leads to us considering what we must struggle with or deny in order to follow Jesus.This is valid, however, we have seen this piece of scripture presented so many times that it can be easy to miss levels of meaning aside from struggle with physical desires and denial.

Therefore, it is startling to see Joseph Ratzinger boldly state that Jesus’ verbal battle with the devil is one of Biblical interpretation. It brings us down to earth with a thump. Moving to this different level of understanding scripture offers challenges to our easy doubts of God’s presence in our lives and in our world.

It is easy to doubt and to fall back on the well worn phrase “trust but verify.” Indeed, we have been taught this lesson by the world, where business and politics, to name merely two influences, have given us much reason to be wary, cynical and doubtful of claims we cannot see, touch, or prove scientifically.

However, we cannot use these criteria when it comes to friends, loves, children, spouses, or, most importantly, God. With these cherished relationships, we must learn in a way that cannot be quantified. We must release our need to control. We must listen. We must remain open. We must learn. We must trust.

We may not know what questions to ask in order to learn to love God better. Jesus came to bring us the answers before the questions were spoken. We can find them by being open to God’s living word and listening.

-------------------------------------------------------
1 Critical explanation or analysis, especially of a text.


2 The theory and methodology of interpretation, especially of scriptural text.

3 Psalm 91 is a prayer of someone who has taken refuge in the security of the temple. Verses 11-12 state, “For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” Read the entire psalm to see the statement of God’s promises therein.

4 Pope Benedict XVI wrote Jesus of Nazareth under his own name, Joseph Ratzinger.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

Perils of the Home Office



Political analysis pales when the kids pop into the room during a live BBC interview. And I thought it was bad when the dogs bark during a phone call.

(Video via The Guardian)

What We've Been Watching: Dietrich, Hepburn, Chess Playing, and a Big Shipwreck

Creature Comforts
★★★★★
Stop-motion animated series with a cast of animals, sound-biting on specific topics such as sporting adventures, Christmas, and visits to veterinarians. The show satirizes modern man on the street and documentary interviews, responding to unseen questioners. The voices of the characters are supplied by everyday people speaking varied regional accents, credited as The Great British Public. The creatures are portrayed in their own habitats. Creature Comforts was originally a short film, then a series of highly popular commercials, later a U.S. series. - Written by David Stevens, IMDB
We've been watching the American series which the library had in dvd format. These are surprisingly charming and funny. The animators did a great job of matching animals with recurring interview subjects and you feel as if you know them by the time they come around in different episodes. A gentle and humorous antidote to a stressful day!

The Scarlet Empress 1934
★★★★

Sophia Frederica (Dietrich) is minor German royalty who is is brought to Russia by at the behest of Empress Elizabeth (Dresser) to marry her half-wit nephew (Jaffe) and refresh the blood line. Sophia, renamed Catherine by the Empress, is a virtuous and innocent girl. Unfortunately nothing remains pure for long in the Russian court. We see sweet Sophia become Catherine the Great in a film that is a tour de force for both Dietrich and legendary director Josef von Sternberg.

The images from this movie may remain seared on my mind forever. Marlene Dietrich is completely believable in the range from pure innocence to the disillusioned empress who is subverting the mad tsar's army man by man. The surreal set designs reflecting the decadence and inner corruption of the court, making the spaces seem immense while simultaneously cramming everyone practically on top of each other. The direction which makes me finally see why this director was so acclaimed. I'm pretty sure I'll never watch it again but I know I'll never forget it.

A Night to Remember 1958
★★★★★

On April 14, 1912, the "unsinkable" Titanic struck an iceberg. In less than three hours, it had plunged to the bottom of the sea, taking with it more than 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers. In his unforgettable render­ing of Walter Lord's book of the same name, the acclaimed British director Roy Ward Baker depicts with sensitivity, awe, and a fine sense of tragedy the ship's last hours.

I got this for my husband because it is supposed to be one of the most historically accurate movies made. I didn't expect to be so involved that the time flew by, that I would be moved to tears, that I would long for history to be rewritten. I know I will watch it again so I can track characters better through the story. A great film.


Queen of Katwe 2016
★★★★½

Living in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle for 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) and her family. Her world changes one day when she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) who coaches soccer and teaches children to play chess. Phiona soon becomes a top player under Katende's guidance. But she must learn more than the game as she is exposed to life outside Katwe. — Wikipedia summary


Oh the difference a director makes! In lesser hands than Mira Nair's this would have been an ordinary "family film." Instead we got a work with subtlety, nuance, and a definite sense of place.

It was a touch long. By the time we got to the final chess tournament I felt as if I'd been to two too many. However, in the long run that is neither here nor there.

The Philadelphia Story 1940
★★★★★

Katharine Hepburn is the daughter of a wealthy family and about to marry for the second time. In walks her cunning ex-husband Cary Grant with tabloid reporter James Stewart in tow and disrupts everything.

Casting, witty lines, examination of class, marriage, and judging others ... this film is practically perfect in every way.

I especially like the way they continually introduce typical comic misunderstandings or secrets upon which plot points would normally turn - only to clear them up almost immediately by having someone tell everyone what's really going on. It's a nice way to point out this is playing at a higher level than the normal comedy.

Worth a Thousand Words: Early Spring-Bluebonnets and Mesquite

Julian Onderdonk, Early Spring—Bluebonnets and Mesquite

Well Said: Cornbread and Time

Shamelessly, I often opt to buy the boxed, inferior version of everything for the sake of time. Why is it that I utilize the most modern time-saving technology known to humankind and yet I never have enough time? I can't even find the tme to make homemade cornbread. It's tragic.

Jacqueline Rhodes, The Soul of Soul Food
from The Spirit of Food
This is the modern curse and once we recognize it, we have to take determined steps to fix it in our own lives. A good way to start is to make a great batch of cornbread. I can help with that.

Lenten Friday Meatless Meal: North African Eggs

Eggs poached in a flavorful tomato sauce make a wonderful meatless meal and are a lot more filling than you would think. Get them at Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Anna Pavlova

Anna Pavlova by John Lavery

Well Said: Knowing Another Soul

Fred fancied that he saw to the bottom of his uncle Bulstrode's soul, though in reality half what he saw there was no more than the reflex of his own inclinations. The difficult task of knowing another soul is not for young gentlemen whose consciousness is chiefly made up of their own wishes.
George Eliot, Middlemarch

What I'm Reading: Strangers in a Strange Land by Charles J. Chaput

Or, as I've begun calling it around here, the anti-Benedict Option book. So I just thought I'd give y'all a heads up.


Strangers in a Strange Land: 
Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World
by Charles J. Chaput
A vivid critique of American life today and a guide to how Christians—and particularly Catholics--can live their faith vigorously, and even with hope, in a post-Christian public square.
A kind Happy Catholic reader gave me this book. It only took reading the introduction and first chapter to make it clear that this is the anti-"Benedict Option" book:
But we can't simply withdraw from public affairs. Saint Benedict could retreat to the Italian countryside, but Augustine was a bishop intimately tied to his people and their society. For Augustine, the classic civic virtues named by Cicero — prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance—can be renewed and elevated, to the benefit of all citizens, by the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity.
Gauntlet thrown. Interesting-er and interesting-er. I'm really looking forward to reading this.

===============

UPDATE - chapter 2 brings the third mention of not hiding away:
All of which underscores a simple fact: The surest way to transform a culture is from the inside out. And the surest path to doing it isn't through reasoned debate (too tedious) or violence (too costly) but by colonizing and reshaping the culture's appetites and behaviors.
Bam.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Well Said: Perfect and Bulletproof

Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don't exist in the human experience.
Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

Worth a Thousand Words: At the Edge of Canyon

At the Edge of Canyon
another gem taken by Remo Savisaar

Genesis Notes: Ishmael's Resume

Ishmael is usually a character who gets eclipsed by the dramatic tale of Abraham and Isaac. And yet I always feel sorry for that favored, much loved son who is suddenly cast out into the desert. No wonder he cried, despite his years. Everything he knew had been ripped away from him.

This resume shows us the whole picture so we can get perspective on Ishmael.

Hagar and Ishmael in desert, Grigoriy Ugryumov
Much of what happened throughout his life cannot be blamed on Ishmael. He was caught in a process much bigger than himself. However, his own actions showed that he had chosen to become part of the problem and not part of the solution. He chose to live under his circumstances rather than above them.

Strengths and accomplishments:
  • One of the first to experience the physical sign of God's covenant, circumcision 
  •  Known for his ability as an archer and hunter 
  •  Fathered 12 sons who became leaders of warrior tribes
Weaknesses and mistakes:
  • Failed to recognize the place of his half brother, Isaac, and mocked him
Lessons from his life:
  • God's plans incorporate people's mistakes
Vital statistics:
  • Where: Canaan and Egypt
  • Occupation: Hunter, archer, warrior
  • Relatives: Parents - Hagar and Abraham. Half brother - Isaac.
Key verses:
"God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, 'What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation'" (Genesis 21:17, 18).

Ishmael's story is told in Genesis 16-17; 25:12-18; 28:8, 9; 36:1-3. He is also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 1:28-31; Romans 9:7-9; Galatians 4:21-31.
All quotes from Life Application Study Bible. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Well Said: The danger ...

The danger is not lest the soul should doubt whether there is bread, but lest, by a lie, it should persuade itself it is not hungry.
Simone Weil

Worth a Thousand Words: Roosters

Ito Jakuchu, Roosters

Julie comes up with a foolproof heist plan. Scott tells her to rewatch Hell or High Water. ...

... They were about to try it anyway, but called it off once they realized Jeff Bridges would be coming after them.

Toby Howard: You know, you talk like we ain't gonna get away with this. 
Tanner Howard: I never met nobody get away with anything... ever, you?

We discuss Hell or High Water (2016) in Episode 153 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Well Said: No Time for Being

When I am constantly running there is no time for being. I will never understand the silent dying of the green pie-apple tree if I do not slow down and listen to what the Spirit is telling me, telling me of the death of trees, the death of planets, of people, and what all these deaths mean in the light of love of the Creator, who brought them all into being, who brought me into being, and you.

This questioning of the meaning of being, and dying and being, is behind the telling of stories around tribal fires at night; behind the drawing of animals on the walls of caves; the singing of melodies of love in spring, and of the death of green in autumn. It is part of the deepest longing of the human psyche, a recurrent ache in the hearts of all God’s creatures.

So when the two messages, Listen to the silence. Stay open to the voice of the Spirit, and Slow me down, Lord, came, I was forced to listen, and even to smile …
Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water
You could hardly ask for a better reason to embrace Lent could you? Lord, slow me down, help me listen.

Worth a Thousand Words: In The Blossoming Bower

Marie Egner (1850–1940), In The Blossoming Bower

Sunday, March 5, 2017

6th Sunday of St. Joseph

Death of Joseph, St. Martin's at Florac

Death and Glorification of Saint Joseph

It is perfectly fitting that Saint Joseph has been proclaimed the Patron of a Good Death. Certainly no one can ever have experienced a more serene departure from this life than Joseph's in the physical presence of Jesus and Mary. Let us go to Saint Joseph whenever we are helping someone to prepare for death. Let us ask this help when our time arrives to go to the House of the Father. Joseph will lead us by the hand to Jesus and Mary.

After Our Lady, Saint Joseph enjoys the greatest glory accorded to a creature (cf B. Llamera, Theology of St. Joseph). This is only fitting considering his holiness on earth. Joseph gave his entire life to the care of the Son of God and his blessed Mother. Since Jesus honoured Joseph as his father during his earthly life, sincerely calling him "father," He would certainly want to exalt Joseph in heaven after his death (Isidoro de Isolano, The Gifts of St. Joseph).

Friday, March 3, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Ships. Evening Sun.

Konstantin Bogaevsky, Ships. Evening Sun., 1912

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!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Green Soup for Meatless Fridays

Making Lent taste wonderful - Madhur Jaffrey's Indian cream of pea soup. Get it at Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen.

Worth a Thousand Words: Golden moment by the Teno mountains

Golden moment by the Teno mountains
taken by the incomparable Remo Savisaar

Lent and Me - This Year

I've been busy posting lists of books, movies, and suchlike. But I haven't said much about my own personal plans for Lent.

In the past Lenten sacrifice has changed my habits in real life such as not using the computer on Sundays, not listening to my iPod when others are around and so forth.

Here's where I am this year.

Reading

NONFICTION — This year I'm going to read Meditations on Vatican Art. I'm not sure where I first heard of this but the previews on Amazon look wonderful. I love reflecting on art and adding scripture to the mix seems perfect for Lent.

FICTION — I wasn't planning this but kind of fell into reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Again I'm struck by the depths this seemingly simple story has in it and how inspirational I find it. I am, after all, pretty much a hobbit.

Prayer

I like to say I have three prayer times in the day.

When I'm feeding the dogs in the morning and taking them for a walk, I do intercessory prayer and turn my day over to God.

In the evening before bed I do a self examen of my day. I've been getting better about really doing it instead of giving it a lick and a promise.

I like to SAY that after work in the afternoon, I make a cup of coffee and go outside for 20 minutes of contemplative, imaginative prayer. (The dogs love coffee time when we're all out there together.)

I like to say that. And in the past I've done it. But for several months it has been more saying than doing. It is sad how often I have other distractions I indulge than spending just 20 minutes with God. This isn't the first time I've had this problem but I will tackle it once again.

During Lent I promise not to miss a 20-minute date with my coffee, dogs, and Bible.

Fasting

This is the traditional name for "giving up something for Lent." I've done it with food, I've done it with technology, I've done it with bad habits. (Remember that 40 days when I made it everywhere on time? Hurrah for Lent!)

Once again, I am fighting distraction. It is one of the ills of our time. And I'm no different than anyone else.

In February, before Lent, I really cut back on visiting three social media spots which just suck the time right out of me. GoodReads, Letterboxd, and Facebook. That helped a lot.

For Lent proper I'm giving myself the gift of silence. By not listening to my iPod. For most people that would mean no music. For me that means no podcasts or audio books. Aaaaaaargh! Horrible, horrible silence.

Won't someone stop me? Tell me it's too radical? Save me?

Huh. Guess not. So onward I go into the desert.

Almsgiving

This is the one we always dither about and try to get creative with. This year it's gonna be straight forward - we're going to double what we usually give to the church each week. Done and done.

Happy Texas Independence Day!


The Republic of Texas was an ephemeral empire. Like the spring bluebonnets, it bloomed, blossomed, and blanched with the sands of time. But also like the state flower, its scent lingers in the hearts and imaginations of every Texan. A moment ago I referred to Texas nationalism. Many outside the state would, no doubt, find that remarkably pretentious, but those who live here understand the truth of it. Texas existed as a nation for ten years; Texans got used to the idea; and nationalism is a difficult habit to break. The novelist John Steinbeck perhaps said it best:
Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.
March 2 is a day to celebrate Texas distinctiveness. Now I'm not saying that Texans are better that other folks, but I am saying that we're different. And if a people consider themselves different, they are. March 2 should be to Texans what St. Patrick's Day is to the Irish. But what if you are a Tejano. Should you want to celebrate the day that Texas separated itself from Mexico. You bet! Even as early as 1835 Tejanos were distinctive from other Mexicans. The ranching culture that developed in Texas produced its own clothing, its own music, its own customs, and its own food. Gringos call it "Mexican food," but all one has to do to put the lie to that assertion is to eat the food in the interior - or try to. It is rather bland and not nearly as good as the Tejano food (we might as well call it what it really is) right here at home. We sometimes call it Tex-Mex, but in truth, it's all Tex and precious little Mex. It is found nowhere else on earth. How many things might we say that of? Tejano music is not Mexican; it is not American. It is Texan and is found nowhere else on earth. Tejanos also speak a variety of Spanish called Tex-Mex. But try using it in Mexico City, or worse yet, in Seville. Again, it is a unique language and is found nowhere else on earth. Truth is if you're a Texan - be you brown, black, white, yellow, or red - you don't rightly belong anywhere else. Steinbeck nailed that too. "A Texan outside of Texas is a foreigner," he observed. That applies to Tejanos as much as, probably more than, other Texans. After all, whose family has lived here the longest?
Preach it! Be sure to go to the link and read the entire article if the subject of Texas Independence interests you. It's far from simple and Dr. Hardin writes about it very well.

Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo!

Celebrating Texas Independence.

Let us raise our margarita glasses high in tribute to the brave heroes of the Texas Revolution.

Yes it is Lent but not Friday! After the fasting, feasting! Let's all celebrate with that classic Texan dish, Chicken Fried Steak with Cream Gravy. You can get it at Homesick Texan. She's got great looking recipes for both.

Other recommended activities:
Many thanks to my friend Don for keeping important Texas holidays top of mind!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ash Wednesday - A Little Fun

Because this makes me laugh every time, I repost ...

Ash Wednesday is the chance for single Catholics to identify other singles who are, as my friends would say, really eligible! In aid of that, we present:
PATRICK MADRID'S TOP 10 LIST
Catholic Pickup Lines
(courtesy of Envoy)

10. May I offer you a light for that votive candle?

9. Hi there. My buddy and I were wondering if you would settle a dispute we're having. Do you think the word should be pronounced HOMEschooling, or homeSCHOOLing?

8. Sorry, but I couldn't help but noticing how cute you look in that ankle-length, shapeless, plaid jumper.

7. What's a nice girl like you doing at a First Saturday Rosary Cenacle like this?

6. You don't like the culture of death either? Wow! We have so much in common!

5. Let's get out of here. I know a much cozier little Catholic bookstore downtown.

4. I bet I can guess your confirmation name.

3. You've got stunning scapular-brown eyes.

2. Did you feel what I felt when we reached into the holy water font at the same time?

1. Confess here often?

Worth a Thousand Words: Ash Wednesday

Carl Spitzweg [Public domain], Ash Wednesday
via Wikimedia Commons

Ash Wednesday: All other loves will enslave us if they are not ordered to Him

Rerun because I need to read this every year.

Painful though the process may prove to be, I ask God for the transformation I need to become closer to the person He created me to be.

Let's begin with the collect for today.
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting
this campaign of Christian service,
so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
I like this for several reasons, but foremost today it calls to mind that we are in a spiritual battle. It never does to forget that, especially with Satan's wilderness tempting of Christ as prominent as it is during this season.

Daniele Crespi (1597 - 1630)
Il Digiuno di San Carlo Borromeo / The fasting of St Charles Borromeo (c. 1625)
(Read more about the painting and the saint at Idle Speculations where I found the painting)


I always need help having the proper perspective to prepare for Easter.
The Liberating Power of Serving God

"No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Mt 6:24)

God did not save the Israelites from slavery in Egypt so that they might become slaves again by bowing down to the golden calf in the desert. Nor has he freed us from the slavery of our sin so that we might bow down to the work of our own hands or to any other creature, including ourselves and our own desires. Strange as it might seem, we are not really free when we consider ourselves the masters of our own lives. From precisely that standpoint, we quickly fall into the trap of serving someone or something else: our self-images, our bosses, our spouses, our corporations, our tyrannical two-year-olds or teenagers, our homes, our cards, our portfolios, our social statuses, our egos, and the list goes on and on.

When, however, we seek to serve God, we soon learn that we thereby allow God to serve us. He wants our hearts precisely so that he might reign there: more as servant than as king. It is he who sets the table before us, who washes our feet, waits upon us, and invites us to eat of his own body. As servant, he not only nourishes us, however; but he also liberates us fro inordinate attachments that both weigh us down and enslave us. He does not merely liberate us from without, by removing obstacles that would hinder his coming into our hearts. He also and more profoundly liberates us from within; for once we have received him, he beings making order within us, freeing us from all that prohibits us from the interior freedom that characterizes the children of God. He will not allow any competition for his love; for all other loves will enslave us if they are not ordered to him, who alone can render us free.
Taken in this way, we can see how it is actually a relief to have done self-examination to see what has enslaved us, usually without our having been aware of it at all. What a relief to set that down. Even when we miss it, when we long for it, when we are annoyed because we can't have it, there is still a sense of relief in being forced to see with open eyes just what our addictions really are. To see how they have become so much more important to us than the harder path that leads us to a more loving relationship with God. Clarity matters. We have to know what rocks are in the way in order to avoid them.

The Putting on of Ashes
From the Initial "M" in the Introit of the Mass of Ashes on Ash Wednesday
From the Missal à l'usage de Saint-Didier d'Avignon c. 1370
Via Idle Speculations which has information about the tradition of ashes on the forehead

We surely can see why the readings for today included this from Joel which spoke to my heart.
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.
And this from Psalm 51, also part of today's readings, which is surely what we all crave.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise
I do praise him for giving us this season of Lent ... which is something that I never, ever feel until it has begun. But now that I am face to face with Lent, having considered this morning that "Remember, man you are dust and to dust you shall return" ... which means, get serious because you never know when this life will end ... I remember how good it is to consider priorities, to leave behind the transitory, and strive upwards toward the immortal life we were made to have.

Yes, Lent is good.

by Duane Keiser 

RESOURCES
Catholic Culture has a wonderful page about Lent with many links to activities, prayers, recipes, and readings.

They also offer free e-books which have daily reflections on the readings and saints for the liturgical year. I have used these for several years now and cannot recommend them highly enough.