Friday, March 31, 2017

I Have Carried You

The Lord says to his people:
"I have carried [you] from your infancy.
Even to your old age I am the same,
even when your hair is gray I will bear you;
It is I who have done this, 

I who will continue,
and I who will carry you to safety"

(Isaiah 46:3-4).  

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Eileen's Treat: TWO Hockey Games!

Caps fans enjoying the game.
Earlier this month, when I wrote about Eileen's birthday celebration, I noted that we planned to continue the fun by a family outing to see a Washington Capitals hockey game. Needless to say, John Paul and I are hockey fans, but people are often surprised to find out that "sweet, patient, mild-mannered Eileen" is the biggest fan in the family.

In fact, it's not surprising at all that this energetic, intensely focused, dedicated, hard-working lady appreciates competitive sports, and especially hockey, with its combination of graceful skill, toughness, speed, teamwork, and crazy luck.

So for her birthday present John Paul, Teresa, Josefina, and I got tickets to a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets (a key division rival) for March 23. What I didn't know, however, was that Eileen's friends had another plan: they got two very nice seats on the second level and a parking pass for Eileen and I to go to the Caps game against the Arizona Coyotes on March 25!

Two hockey games in forty eight hours? A dream come true for my wife. A somewhat more daunting project for me: trips to the city really wear me out. But I knew that both evenings would be special in different ways, and I was determined to pace myself and save up enough energy to do it.

There was only one thing (or "two things" I suppose) that we couldn't plan or guarantee for this double birthday gift: the Capitals actually winning both games.

Hockey is a fickle friend. There was some risk involved here.

The Caps will probably finish with the best record in the NHL this year, but they can still lose. Their most frustrating losses in the past have been playoff games, and I tend to be more "philosophical" than my wife about regular season games. But even I would have been disappointed by anything less than two wins here.

"Big Brother Time"
Thankfully, the Capitals delivered splendidly on their part of the birthday celebration. On Thursday night we were on the edge of our seats with great goaltending and a 1-1 tie taken all the way to the tie-breaking one-on-one shootout.

It's very gut wrenching when everything comes down to the shootout (similar to the soccer experience of "penalty kicks" to end an elimination game). The Caps scored the only goal of the shootout, however, and pulled out an exciting victory. We all had a great time.

It was fun going for an adventure with three of the five kids, as they don't get so many chances to be together and bounce off one another these days, now that some are growing up and having adventures of their own. I know Josefina enjoyed her "big brother time."

On Friday, I rested.

Saturday was a lovely day that proceeded at a leisurely pace. We had plenty of time to get into the city again, get lost and have Google Maps GPS lead us through the labyrinth of Washington DC, and still arrive in time to park and stroll through Chinatown and have a nice dinner.

Below on the right is the Peking Duck. Delicious dipping sauce and moist tasty meat all the way through:

Then we strolled over to the Verizon Center for the game, got a couple of draft beers and settled into our seats. They were terrific, just to the left of center ice on the second level, at a perfect angle to see all the action of the game.

Our view to our left looked like this:

It was another low scoring game for the first 50+ minutes, with the Caps taking a 1-0 lead well into the third period. But then Arizona tied the score with 7 minutes left to play, and we began to wonder if we were not headed toward another regulation tie, with another harrowing overtime period followed by a shootout.

Caps fans were summoned to rally the team with the customary third period multimedia-led roaring of "UNLEASH THE FURY!" I was thinking to myself, "Well that was spirited and a little silly." But then the Capitals scored three goals in less than five minutes in an explosive, dominating display of ... fury. I have never seen the fury quite so thoroughly unleashed. Let's just hope that "The Fury" won't be shy when it's needed during the playoffs! 😜 

Happy with our victory (both our victories), Eileen and I enjoyed the evening air as we walked back to the garage through Chinatown, stopping for ice cream at a not-particularly-Chinese HΓ€agen-Dazs. It was a lovely time in every way.

I was exhausted on Sunday. And Monday, and most of the week, but I was able to take the time to recuperate. It was worth it. Almost like a little vacation. It made Eileen very happy, and that was the best thing of all.

We had actual paper tickets on Thursday night (above). Saturday's "tickets" were bar codes accessed by my mobile phone. 
We got a nice look at the Cherry Blossoms blooming on "the Mall" near the Washington Monument.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Making Space for One Who Loves Me

"To have faith is to make space for God’s love, 
to make space for his power, 
for God’s power. 
Not for the power of a powerful person, 
but for the power of one who loves me, 
who is in love with me 
and who wants to rejoice with me. 
This is faith. This is believing: 
making space for the Lord 
so that he can come and change me." 

~Pope Francis

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mary's Unique Name: The "Grace-Filled One"

Today is the wonderful feast of the Annunciation. In the midst of Lent, we pause to remember that the foundation of the value of any penance we do is the gratuitous gift of God who comes to dwell among us. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the only-begotten Son of the Father has become incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

This is the astonishing, inexhaustibly new "news" that the angel Gabriel announces to a young girl in Nazareth, and to the whole world through her and the witness of St. Luke's gospel.

Inseparable from this revelation, however, is something else that the angel makes known. God has prepared a "place" for himself and his coming. The power of the Incarnation and Redemption "already" brings about in a perfect way the new reality, the new life that God wills to share with the world in giving his only Son.

For the announcement we celebrate today begins with the "angelic salutation" that we know so well. When we pray, "Hail Mary, full of grace" (cf. Luke 1:28) we echo those words. The original Greek text is "Chaire, kecharitomene," and many English language Bibles translate this as "Rejoice, O favored one." Indeed, the Greek "chaire" is well rendered as "rejoice," which is evocative of the messianic joy of "Daughter Zion" in the prophets (see Zephaniah 3:14). Perhaps from the Ave of the Latin Vulgate to the "Hail" of our classic Marian prayer something of the jubilant connotation is not so directly conveyed to us. It is present nonetheless, and it is worth remembering this moment of Mary's joy when we pray the "Hail Mary."

The term that follows, however, is quite precise and unique, even if those translations that use the term "favor" would appear to weaken its force or render its significance vague. The entire content of the Annunciation makes it clear that this is no ordinary "favor" of God. Mary is destined to carry the Holy One, to be "overshadowed" by the presence of God's glory, the Shekinah of the cloud and the fire that descended upon the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary of Israel reserved to the high priest in the ritual of atonement, the place where Moses spoke with God.

Moreover, "kecharitomene" is not a mere adjective but a substantive term, like a name. Mary is not just "favored" in a relative sense; she is "the favored one." And what kind of a "name" is this, and what more does it convey? Gabriel calls Mary kecharitomene. No one else in the Bible is identified with this term. No one. Translations can try to "tone that down" all they want; they can't take away the fact that the "chari" in "kecharitomene" is the "charis" of St. Paul, by which we are redeemed and justified and set free from sin and sanctified. Grace.

The new life. Mary not only "has" it; it totally penetrates her identity. She is the one who is graced. St. Jerome, who's Greek was pretty good, rendered this in Latin as gratia plena. Mary is "full of grace"--if anything the original Greek is stronger and more emphatic than this. It indicates a reality unique to Mary, that entirely encompasses who she is.

Mary is The Graced One; she is nothing else but this gift of grace, perfected by God from the beginning in view of the One who would take flesh in her womb, and with whom she would cooperate by her loving, grace-filled yes all the way to the Cross and to our redemption.

The angelic salutation and Mary's free response are mutual components of the mystery of the new covenant revealed on this day, the truth of human destiny, the full unveiling of the plan of God that already illuminates the joyful heart of Mary full of grace.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Blood of a Martyr: Blessed Oscar Romero's Witness

Today is the commemoration of Blessed Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, and the 37th anniversary of his martyrdom. August 15 of this year will be the centenary of his birth.

Romero is still remembered as a fearless champion of social justice in El Salvador, who denounced the ruthless oppression of the poor in his country in the chaotic years leading up to its long civil war. He stood with the poor, with forgotten and suffering people, and gave them a voice and an awareness of their own dignity as human beings.

But Romero was always more than a "civil rights advocate." He placed the defense of the dignity of every human person and the denunciation of those who perpetrated injustice squarely within the context of an integral witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He envisaged the human search for freedom and a more just and loving social order as included within the content of a human existence destined for a transcendent fulfillment in relation to God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, in eternal glory.

Romero preached that all the good that humans accomplish in union with Christ in this present world -- including all the efforts to build up society through politics, education, and cultural and social commitments -- would be transfigured, perfected, and fulfilled in eternity. In this he applied the Church's perennial witness to the gospel, specified by social teachings that are drawn from the gospel and applied to shed light on the concrete exigencies of solidarity and the great commandment to "love your neighbor."

This love is directed also to justice and human flourishing in the goods of the temporal world, where we are called to live in communion with all our brothers and sisters and "work out our salvation" together with them. Thus we obtain "the unfading crown of glory."

Blessed Romero, faithful to Jesus and the Church, called on his flock to convert from sin and to serve the Lord not simply with their lips or with formalistic gestures but also by recognizing Him especially in those who are in need. Romero was not afraid to indicate these needs and call his people to fulfill concrete responsibilities toward one another and the poor, and to refrain from violence.

Sadly, too many of those who held power in El Salvador preferred the way of violence. Romero shed his blood, and thousands of others would follow in a twelve year long civil war. Today there is a fragile political peace, but new kinds of social problems plague El Salvador and many other parts of Central America, new kinds of violence, division, and struggles for power.

As Christians, however, we know that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. I am certain that Blessed Oscar Romero's sacrifice will bear fruit among his people and has already begun something new for all of us on this American continent.
"May this Body immolated and this Blood sacrificed for mankind nourish us also, that we may give our body and our blood over to suffering and pain, like Christ -- not for self, but to give harvests of peace and justice to our people."
~The final words of the homily of Archbishop Oscar Romero, moments before he was shot dead during the offertory of the Mass, March 24, 1980.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

More "Amazing" [πŸ˜‰] Pictures and Graphics

Those of you who are not linked to my social media accounts haven't seen some of these most recent fun and/or interesting photos and graphics I have posted there.

It's really a kind of visual therapy for me to take pictures and learn how to use different kinds of software for presentation and graphics. I think it's doing something to reroute those neuropathways in the brain that can lead to obsessions. Or, at least, it employs them and keeps them out of mischief.

That's my opinion or "hunch" that I present with zero scientific evidence. But, hey, now you can say that you "read it on the internet"! πŸ˜‰

Anyway, here we go (with brief explanations as necessary...)

I call this Lenten Still Life πŸ˜‰. Trappist beer and pious books!

Almost-full moon over Lake Frederick (my new phone cam here).

I have several Bible verse graphics. ShenValley sunset here.

St John the Baptist Church (blur & textured top/bottom to make pic a square).

St John's from the other side.

H. Reed Armstrong's original sculpture in Mary garden.

Bible graphics: Variations on a centered text (above, the winner).

I tried this verse in different hues: this version doesn't quite work.
Hmm... a bit "mustardy," dontcha think?
Not bad... but I went with the first one in this series.

Another verse, very basic setting. 

Green motif and "green leaves" - Kinda St Paddy's Day-ish?

The fire of God's love.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Why Do We Care About Saint Joseph?

Happy Feast of Saint Joseph!

Because March 19 fell on the Third Sunday of Lent this year, the liturgical observance of the Solemnity of Saint Joseph–a great holiday in the church year–was transferred to today.

Many people (especially those of Italian heritage) celebrated and observed the traditional customs of St Joseph's day yesterday. In Italy and other countries in Europe, St Joseph's day is also "Father's Day." The good news is that we may continue celebrating, indeed we must celebrate.

Today is one of only two days during the Lenten season when the Gloria is sung in the Roman liturgy. So please, keep celebrating! And as much as Italians (or, rather, we Italian-Americans) would like to "take over" the observance of this day as "our St Patrick's Day" (πŸ˜‰) we must remember that this celebration is truly for everyone.

St Joseph is "Patron of the Universal Church" and a father to each one of us in a special way. His place at the heart of the Communion of Saints stems from the central role he played in the plan of salvation. In recognizing the miracle of the Incarnation–God's coming to dwell with us in the virginal womb of Mary–Joseph also embraced his own role as foster-father, and assured God's fulfillment of His covenant with Israel by giving Jesus legal title to the lineage of David.

Joseph is also close to each one of us in a personal way. The New Testament conveys only a few details about him (and no spoken words), yet what emerges is a vivid and dramatic humanity, a man who fulfills his unique vocation faithfully.

Joseph's fidelity is exemplary for all of us. No one knew better what it was like to be overwhelmed by the Mystery of God and the smallness of one's own self, but Joseph trusted in the goodness and mercy of the Lord and followed Him. He was given enough light from God to take the next step in every moment of a journey through life that was wondrous and incomprehensible, sometimes dangerous and filled with precious responsibility but also overwhelmingly mundane. After what might be called "the excitement at the beginning" of his vocation, most of Joseph's days were full of hard work in a small Palestinian village where everybody knew everybody else's business, where people lived crowded together in interconnected family groups.

St Joseph continued to live faithfully this life filled with work and many cares, doing countless little tasks, and growing tired at the end of each day. He was responsible for the Son of God and His ever-virgin mother Mary, and the Holy Family was no doubt profoundly, uniquely loving and sustaining. But he also probably had a share of responsibility for other relatives, nephews and nieces, cousins and such–especially those who were fatherless. According to the wider family customs that still prevail in many Semitic cultures, Joseph would have taken care of the children and the widows of his brother or brothers if they died before him.
Nazareth, detail from early medieval mosaic.

Thus, it is not difficult to imagine Joseph the "Tekton" (builder/craftman, which we translate as "carpenter") not only as a builder of things but also as a builder of relationships, of community. We can picture his humble love, his attention to detail, his willingness to serve not only Jesus and Mary, but also his own "extended" family, the neighbors who surrounded him, and a town filled with people who–as we know from Nathanael's remark in John 1:46–had a less than stellar reputation. (When he was told of Jesus, Nathanael's first reaction was to say, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?")

This love gave Joseph plenty of experience of the human condition, plenty of opportunity to deal with people's problems, mediate their disputes, and put up with all their peculiar quirks. Joseph loved and served ordinary people with all their stubbornness and pettiness, day in and day out. This called for a courage far greater than he needed to escape from Herod with the baby Jesus and Mary.

In his vocation in life, Joseph was responsible in so many ways, on so many levels, for building up the first concrete human community in which God dwelled. His life has borne fruit in eternity as he continues to have a unique role in building up the communion of the Church where the risen and glorified Jesus dwells. His paternal solicitude continues toward each of us. His quiet attention, his diligence, his fidelity accompanies us in our own journey through this life. This is not some independent action that he does "in addition" to Jesus or "outside of" Jesus, but precisely within the communion of persons that is generated by the loving heart of Jesus.

Let us turn to St Joseph with all our needs and concerns in life. Indeed we should turn to him with gratitude, because he has already done for us in Christ more than we can imagine. On this day, especially, let us celebrate this strong and tender man who is a gift of God's love to all of us.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Ides of March 1917

In an era accustomed to shocking news, it was still... shocking.

A hundred years ago the world was globally linked, and -- thanks to the telegraph -- news circulated rapidly as a rule. Nevertheless there were exceptions. A landscape broken up by nearly three years of war had more than its share of downed telegraph wires. And reporters still had to rely on ground transport to file their stories.

Sometimes news was delayed.

Thus it happened that the ominous transformation that occurred suddenly in Russia on March 15, 1917 (Gregorian Calendar) didn't reach English language newspapers until the evening of March 16 and the morning of March 17. Anglo-Americans were aware of the protests in St Petersburg in recent days, so it was not surprising that news was difficult to come by in this week.

When the dispatches finally did come through, however, they were more than anyone expected. What had happened was nothing less than the beginning of the end of a world.

The "Tsar," the Emperor, the Autocrat of "All the Russias" had been overthrown. It was a Revolution. It was the end of Europe's oldest reigning dynasty and the fall of a thousand year old monarchy. It launched a vast nation into a crisis of identity that would have enormous repercussions for the history of the twentieth century.

The abdication of Nicholas II to what was perceived to be a "democratic assembly" seemed like an optimistic development to English parliamentarians and American republicans in 1917. In fact, the assembly was deeply unstable and already in the process of collapsing internally. A huge hole was opening up in Russia's political life, and power would soon be up for grabs for whoever was clever enough, opportunistic enough, and ruthless enough to take hold of it.

None of this was apparent, nor did it seem too important, to English and American readers during the third week of March 1917, however. Russia was England's ally in the war, and Russian spokesmen assured the English that the Duma remained committed to the war effort. That's what mattered to the English (and the Americans, who were weeks away from joining the war themselves).

Not only was the Great War nowhere closer to ending. It was, in a certain sense, just getting under way. The desperate conflict between nations and peoples that would dominate the history of the twentieth century was beginning to take shape.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chiara Luce Badano: A Light That Helps Me Trust in God's Love

My On This Day Facebook flashback page has been reminding me all week of my first "encounter," five years ago, with the amazing Blessed Chiara Luce Badano (1971-1990). This beautiful 18 year old girl died from a long and painful struggle with osteosarcoma (bone cancer), all of which she offered in union with Jesus in His cry of abandonment on the cross.

Though she was beatified in 2010, I had never heard of her before March 12, 2012 when--while fiddling around on the internet--I happened upon an article or web page or something about her that led me to more resources in English and Italian. It's funny, because there was no particularly discernible "reason" why all this should happen on March 12, 2012 as her feast is in October. It was just a circumstance of a moment in time, but it had a profound impact on my life. 

On that day (and the ones that followed) I not only read her inspiring story but also heard her recorded voice and saw this picture and others. I "met" her, in a sense, "through" a multimedia experience on the internet, but of course it was the grace of Jesus living in the Church and in Chiara Luce's witness that touched my heart and initiated something vital and enduring. 

The Communion of Saints is a very real dimension of our Christian lives, and five years ago this week was the beginning of a friendship with this tremendous soul who continues to be a real help to me. She intercedes for me and for our family, but she also "listens" to me and (I really think) guides me in discrete ways to remember the love of Jesus and to notice things I might otherwise ignore. She taps me gently on the shoulder and says, "Look. Look there."

She is, indeed, a "chiara luce," a clear light which shows a glimpse of the extraordinary reality of God's love in the ordinary circumstances of life and in "ordinary people." 

At the center of herself, however, she burns so bright that it leaves me blinded in the luminous night which is the experience of the reality of our faith. The depths of her suffering and love (such as she expresses in the quotation above) completely blow me away: The love Christ has for us and that He empowers us to offer back to Him and, with Him, to the world is something entirely beyond my understanding, my calculations, my measure. I am just a small man with a small mind--indeed I am a crude, narrow, stingy old sinner--but Jesus still surprises me again and again with His mercy, which is my hope. 

Thanks, Chiara Luce! You are a great friend to me. 😊

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Big Storm... Was That It?

"Oh, the humanity!" -- well, not so much for us.

Yesterday, finally--a week before the first day of Spring--we had THE BIG STORM. Well, it was supposed to be, in any case. All the folks on The Weather Channel were running around with breathless excitement after spending most of the Winter in little towns in Minnesota. πŸ˜‰

Some places got hit pretty well, indeed. What about us?

But, I'm sure everyone is wondering, "What about the forsythia bush that has been my pride and joy during this (early) spring?"

Oh my, oh my....

But during the day, some thaw set in and it rallied! 😊

These flowers are so tough. No wonder they can risk coming out at the first sign of Spring weather.

Finally, while I was out inspecting the property, I decided to wax philosophical in a spontaneous way, for less than 60 seconds and in just one "take." If I look pretty grim in this video, it's because I was freezing cold in nothing but a light sweater.

Still haven't learned to put a coat on, even after all these years. Sorry Mom and Dad! πŸ˜‰

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Let Us Set Things Right

In his homily today, Pope Francis said:

Here he is commenting on the first reading, passages from which I have set forth below with the help of some experimentation in graphics:

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Great Green Global Gathering for Grimmie's Birthday

πŸ’š This graphic is not some sort of peculiar early Saint Patrick's Day motif. It's another small effort to pay tribute to the late Christina Grimmie (March 12, 1994 - June 10, 2016) on the occasion of her 23rd birthday.

These days have seen a remarkable outpouring of love and appreciation for the slain artist and her family and friends from so many different people and places.

As I have often noted in this blog, Christina was a prodigious musical talent with a spectacular voice and a beautiful soul. She was an inspiration to young and old, parents and children, people all over the world.

Why green? It was her favorite color, a fact that she managed to convey through countless references and gestures in her many videos. Green was her favorite for numerous reasons: Green for Grimmie, green for the color of elves, and especially green for the color of "Link," the heroic protagonist in the Legends of Zelda video game series. Since her death, her international band of followers have taken as a specific reference the green heart emoji. 

Link from the Zelda game.
As green is the theme for her truly global (and ongoing) "birthday party" (both online and on the ground in places as far away as the Philippines and Latin America), I decided to stop being such an intellectual fuddy-duddy and use the graphics part of my brain to do something odd and goofy. (Although, let's face it, I'm intellectually pretty odd and goofy too! 😊)

Not that the graphic doesn't have significance: the green background sets off her image in tones of brown and gold and yellow, as if it were a blazing light, a fire -- undefeated but gentle, warm, and above all, luminous.

As a musician and performer, Christina left a legacy both in sound and in image. I think she presented the kind of visual impression that Marshall McLuhan was trying to identify when he coined the term "iconic" specifically with reference to electronic media. But in a way she turned McLuhan's insight on its head: she succeeded in mastering media technology in such a way that she was able to shape it into genuine communication, conveying to it the indelible stamp of her own personality and allowing others to encounter her (in a certain sense) through it. There is perhaps something here at least analogous to the broader and more classical sense of "the iconic."

Christina Grimmie is greatly missed especially on this, her 23rd birthday, but she will never be forgotten, and she is certainly not invisible. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Life and Death, Ashes and Fire

Nine months ago, Christina Grimmie was murdered. Twenty three years ago this Sunday, she was born into this world.

"A time to be born, and a time to die" (Ecclesiastes 3:2). Such a short time. What claim can a drop of water make between the time it sprays up in the wind and the time it falls back into the vast ocean? Or the stick that sparkles in the fire before collapsing into black dust and disappearing into the dark cold earth?

"All is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Still, in all the vast galaxies of dust and fire and ashes there are these tiny specks that call themselves human beings, and that have the audacity to protest against gravity. They fight against the darkness. They refuse to accept their own disappearance. They fight for life, and more... for goodness, beauty, and truth.

Do they have a chance? Do we have a chance?

Let's face it: all our hearts are invested in this wild hope. Humans struggle and dream. They long to win even when all seems lost. They look for help. Indeed, something about the experience of life and its correspondence to the depths of themselves tells them that they must not give up. They must keep hoping, keep seeking.

All through history they have had their hopes, their stories, or (as we see today) their superheroes and their games. They know that it's not just a farce, a delusion--that there is something real about heroism and therefore that it's worth getting up again, summoning the strength, taking risks, being courageous.

The Grimmie family and others who are carrying on Christina's legacy are working hard to arrange for the posthumous release of the significant body of music she made in the last year of her life. Today they also posted a dramatic and fascinating animated video for the song Invisible. Though Christina didn't work on this video herself before her death, it was conceived by those who knew her best, who were closest to her. It was made as a tribute to her spirit and her various interests, style, struggles, and ways of having fun. Click HERE to watch it on her YouTube channel.

Christina loved fantasy genre and was an avid video game player, especially the Legends of Zelda. Not all video games are about gratuitous violence. Some aspire to present the perennial epic human stories in new ways, to dramatize the struggle for the good and against evil. The human question about what makes life worth living cannot be suppressed. We should not be surprised to find it rising up in what we might think are unusual places.

Ecclesiastes, chapter 1, verse 2... in Elvish?
Whatever space is given to human beings to live, they will search for meaning there. Even in the midst of the most intense obscurity and brokenness, the insatiable human thirst for the truth of life--for beauty, freedom, love, goodness, and justice--will assert itself. And with such an enormous and seemingly impossible need, the hope for a hero, a champion, will rise up in the human heart.

Christina Grimmie loved these stories of the battle for the good and the victory of good over evil, and she also loved the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. She sensed both the intensity and the irony of its author's dissatisfaction with the things of the world, the things that pass away, the things that are not enough to satisfy the human heart. She had the verse "All is vanity" tattooed on her right arm in the Elvish script of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Of course, she knew that the stories of heroes were not merely fantasies. She knew that the world was being saved from its own vanities, that history itself was being fashioned into the greatest of all stories, that at the heart of history was a real man who died and rose from the dead.

Ultimately He is the one who summons every human heart to remain in hope.

Two of Christina Grimmie's many posts on Twitter where she witnessed to the hope that shaped everything for her.