Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reformation Day

Today in Protestant circles, Reformation Day is often celebrated, so in honor of that day, here is a quote from G. K. Chesterton on the Reformation:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Christographia XIV

Is it chance
or dance moves
the world?

Is the world
blind and dumb
or bloom, festal?
A vain jest
or holy feast?

Eugene Warren
Christographia XIV

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sancte Laurentius Ora Pro Nobis

Today is the feast day of St. Lawrence of Rome. St. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons who served under Pope St. Sixtus II. St. Lawrence along with Pope St. Sixtus II and many of the bishops and priests were all martyred in 258 AD during the persecutions of Valerian. St. Lawrence was in charge of the Church's treasures located in Rome, and after the martyrdom of Pope St. Sixtus II, Valerian called St. Lawrence before him and ordered him to present the riches of the church to him or face death.  The story that follows is one that every time I read it leaves me in awe of St. Lawrence's bravery and courage. The Roman Christian poet Prudentius recounts the story of St. Lawrence in his Hymnus in Honorem Passionis Laurentii: Beatissimi Martyris. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Innocence Fritz Zubher-Buhler
 Robert Frost's poem Birches is one of my favorite poems.  The poet reminisces of the simple days of childhood and the carefree fun he had while swinging on the birches in the forest.  But in the second half of the poem, the poet is overcome with nostalgia as he is reminded that the beautiful innocence of childhood is long gone.  In one of the greatest scenes from the AMC series Mad Men, Don Draper is presenting a proposed ad campaign for the Kodak carousel, a projector.  As he makes his pitch, Don offers a short reflection on nostalgia:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

St. Matthew's Passion

Improvisation - Childe Hassam

Music is a powerful art. It can take a person and completely sweep them up in emotion. Occasionally I find a piece of music that reaches inside me and effects me in a way that is almost hard to comprehend.  In Plato's Republic, Socrates offers his theory of music, which places it foremost amongst the arts.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Habit of Prayer

I was reading through selections of the Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman the other day and came across these two descriptions of Cardinal Newman in 1873 and 1886 respectively:
". . . very kindly, with a sort of grave sweet simplicity which coming from so old a man, has in it something inexpressibly touching . . . an air of melancholy, as of one who has passed through terrible struggles, yet of serenity, as of one who had found peace." (1)
"[his voice had] much of its old strange sweetness . . . the look of almost anxious searching had passed into the look of perfect peace. His mind was not only bright as ever, but with the cheerfulness and humour of youth." (2)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Buenas Andanzas

For those of us who did not travel much as children, especially overseas, our desire to see new lands was fulfilled through pictures of far away places and tales of distant lands.  When I was younger my mother bought me a beautiful old copy of Washington Irving's Tales of the Alhambra.  It was a small red book that smelled of a distant era and was covered in dust.  Yet, the yellowed dust covered pages revealed such a colorful vibrant tale of a distant and mysterious land that I longed to someday see with my own eyes.  Even today when I see pictures of the Calat Alhambra I am immediately transported to that humid summer when I would lay next to the open windows of our back porch and travel through the Alhambra with Washington Irving.  My mind danced with images and tales of long ago, if one could not actually see it, this was the next best thing.  

This morning, I came across a National Geographic photograph of Alcázar of Seville which is another Moorish fort and later Spanish royal palace.  The photos immediately recalled to my mind the introduction from Irving's book.  I went back and re-read it. Instantly, it was like not a moment had passed from those old summer days.  I was a kid again and my mind was filled with "traditional ballads, and tales about the wars of the Moors and Christians, and the 'buenas andanzas' and 'grandes hechos,' the 'good fortunes' and 'great exploits' of the hardy warriors of yore."  I was struck, looking back on it, by the beauty and vividness of Irving's language.  It is no wonder that the book had such an influence over my young imagination.  Traveling with young kids is of course not an easy thing to accomplish - cost, logistics and scheduling all conspire to discourage frequent overseas travel.  But books, good books, can be a child's best means of "travel".  They open their imagination to places and sights they have never seen, serving as a viable link to the past while grounding the child's imagination in tales of nobility and good and evil.

Jackie Kennedy once said that "There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world.  Love of books is the best of all."  And what better way to enlarge their world than with tales of distant lands and buenas andanzas? 

The introduction from Irving's Tales of the Alhambra is below for your enjoyment.