Wednesday, August 17, 2022

My “Special Concern” for Musicians (and All Artists)

For as long as I can remember, I have listened to all kinds of music and musicians (as well as being a musician myself for the past 50 years). Since I have my own multifaceted (mostly amateur) aspirations for creativity and engage in various artistic endeavors (musical, pictorial, and poetic), I know something of the particular intensity of the creative process, and the tremendous focus and energy it calls forth from those who dedicate their lives to this kind of work.

I feel like I “have a heart” for musicians and other artists, because I know that creative people have special challenges and difficulties, and that their lives are hard. And if they become celebrities at a young age, immense pressures bear down upon their artistic creativity and their humanity. They need to be regarded with compassion, and held up to God in prayer. We need to be patient with their foolishness, be attentive to whatever is good in their aspirations and work, hope that they will ‘grow up’ eventually, and grieve for those who tear themselves apart. (Too many times I have had to grieve in this way.)

Artists in general endure much suffering just from the demands of their creative work. In the strange and stressful and turbulent times we live in, they face additional special challenges. Among other things, artists must negotiate the perils (as well as the possibilities) of the explosion of technological media and media’s power to exaggerate the value of superficial fame. Artists whose work makes them famous - by virtue of its merits or by chance or by some combination of these factors - can end up having an exceptionally hard time in this regard. Fame has been destructive in many ways to talented people who are thrust suddenly into wealth and celebrity status without a human context that can guide them, and under intense pressure to produce continual novelties.

The Lord knows intimately their pains, the desires of their hearts, their questions and their (often hidden) cries for help. He knows how much or how little culpability they bear for their sins, even those behaviors that appear outlandish and preposterous to their followers and critics.

In no way am I implying that the chaotic, self-indulgent, vain, narcissistic, and violent actions that poison the atmosphere of the celebrity world are justifiable, excusable, or even tolerable. Objective moral evils can only be harmful for human beings and human flourishing, and God knows who bears what measure of responsibility for the distractedness and the “practical nihilism” that weighs so heavily on the dominant mentality of our society. I myself am a sinner who has been foolish in my youth and stubborn in my old age, and it may be pride and timidity as much as anything else that keep me looking "respectable" on my own small stage in life. 

If all we had was our own fragile human freedom, what could we do? But let us never forget that we are all human. We all have the same human hearts, underlying our differences of cultures and circumstances and various gifts, modes of expression, and sufferings. We all have the same human hearts, made for a mysterious happiness, wounded and broken, desperately in need of God’s love, forgiveness, healing, and transformation.

Through Jesus Christ, the grace and mercy of the God who loves us finds ways to draw us, surprise us, provoke us, and even "outwit" us. The Good Shepherd seeks out all His sheep, He knows our roads, and He travels them all the way to the end. 

The mystery of human freedom remains. We must walk freely with the Lord and struggle and fight against the evils we face and our temptation to settle for less, to be self-satisfied and self-centered. 

I pray especially for artists to be faithful to their calling, and me to mine and all of us. My hope is that the infinite mercy of God will win our hearts in the end.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Mary’s Bodily Assumption

“Today the Virgin Mother of God
was assumed into heaven
as the beginning and image
of your Church’s coming to perfection
and a sign of sure hope and comfort to your pilgrim people”

~from Preface, Solemnity of the Assumption

Saturday, August 13, 2022

How to Love Rightly the Things of This World

Genuine Christian faith entails the conviction that created things are good. As humans, we are meant to be "attracted" by the good in creatures, drawn to desire and love them, and drawn toward God through them, drawn to love God preeminently, who is the source and fulfillment of the being and goodness of created things. The problem is not "attraction" in itself. The problem is the mess that sin has made of our humanity. It is not that things themselves are evil; rather it is our sinful self-obsession, our drive to construct the foundation of our selves through controlling things by our own power, that skews our perception of their essential, gratuitous value given to them by God.

The “world” that Jesus warns His disciples about (see e.g. John 15:18-19) is not the same as “the material world” or the created world as such. It is rather humanity’s sinful “reduction” of the meaning of creation; it is the world distorted and abused by sin (the original sin we inherit from our first parents, and our own personal sins and connivance in the dysfunctional and destructive patterns of sinfulness that weigh upon every period of human history).

We deserve to be called “worldly" (in this negative sense) insofar as we willingly blind ourselves to the whole reality of the created world. This world is meant to be the place where embodied persons are called to give and receive love in a multitude of "incarnate" gestures and expressions, which are made possible by the wisdom and goodness inherent in things created by God that contribute to the meaningful and precious environment He entrusts to us, and the beautiful path of our history - our journey toward Him. By contrast, “worldliness” is the result of the effort to cut off the world from God. Our "worldly desires” perceive only "worldly goods," i.e. things merely insofar as they are subject to our own selfish grasping and manipulation.

Thus we do violence to the world God has created in the gift of His love. We covet, take, steal, hoard, violate, and destroy things because we refuse to receive them and give them. When we forget the gift of God, we cannot engage reality: we don't know how to "possess" things with freedom, to learn from them, deepen them by "collaborating" with their riches and marking them with the seal of our own personal creativity, and thus being able to give of ourselves through them. We are the ones who have brought evil and destruction into the world; we have made the world a deceitful, harmful, dangerous place.

But God loves the world. He loves us. The Father reveals the depths of this love by sending His Son, Jesus, the Word made flesh, who dwells among us, accompanies us, dies for us (and thus stays with us even through death) so He can raise us up, heal us, and transform us by joining us to Himself and drawing our hearts to Him.

In following Him we are led to rediscover all the created things of the world in Him. We begin to see ourselves and all things as having their true meaning in Him and for Him. There is nothing reductive about this, because reality is ultimately personal and interpersonal. The encounter with the Person of Jesus is decisive because He fulfills and transcends (in infinite depth) every person and every thing.

In Him, our lives and everything on our earthly path is transfigured. Even though it doesn't often seem that way, as we trudge through the many difficult and lonely days in this life, we hold onto the truth in love and hope, through faith in Jesus who has gone before us in death to resurrection. Thus we learn to engage life and the reality of the world passionately, attentively, but with peace and joy in our hearts, because we know that Jesus Christ has saved the world.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Clare of Assisi and Her “Poor Ladies”

In his biography of Saint Francis, Saint Bonaventure writes of Saint Clare of Assisi (feast day, August 11):

She was the first tender shoot among them and gave off a fragrance like a bright white flower that blooms in spring, and she shone like a radiant star. Now she is glorified in heaven and duly venerated by the Church on earth, she who was the daughter in Christ of our holy father Francis, the little poor man, and the mother of the ‘Poor Ladies’ (Pauperes Dominae).”

After 800 years, we know these devoted nuns as the “Poor Clares.” Their prayers - along with those of other communities of monks and nuns - “carry” the rest of us: in Christ, they sustain the Church… and the world.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Christina Grimmie Inspires My Hope For the New Generation

Here we are now, marking six years and two months of remembering and honoring the life and legacy of Christina Grimmie.

I have written many words, and have attempted to express what I perceive to be the greatness of her heart, and the firmness of her commitment to follow Christ. I have tried to articulate the surprising and unusual character of her vocation to be a different kind of presence in the world of mainstream pop music and new communications media. She was not called to preach (though she was open and honest about who she was, and the One she belonged to); rather she was called to let Jesus work through her - to be with people and accompany them, to touch people’s hearts with the tenderness of His gaze, to shine His love in places that are often dark and distant, where there is a lot of confusion, alienation, and pain. In this human context, she was called to develop her talents and her passion for music, and to sing with her amazingly versatile, powerful and gentle, wonderfully expressive voice.

She was also a regular girl, who liked boys and video games and anime cartoons, who liked to have fun and be goofy. Yet she also had a strength and generosity of personality that drew people to her, and she was willing to risk herself… for her music career, and especially for her (mostly young) “frands” and for anyone who was sent her way - that they might know they were loved. Indeed, the way she was taken from this world seems to indicate that she remained faithful to her vocation to the very end, to the final moment of her bright beautiful young life. Six years later, people continue to “discover her” on YouTube, to be amazed by her music, and to encounter her joy and the embrace of her love that illuminates her videos and seems to reach people personally even now.

I have tried through these years to articulate what has struck me about Christina Grimmie. Maybe at times I have tried too hard to “wrap my head around” a reality beyond my grasp, a mystery that cannot be adequately articulated. Such is one of the occupational hazards of the writer and the intellectual, especially in the face of sorrow and tragedy. Still, those of us who practice the craft of words need to say things and write things. I have no “authority” to speak about Christina Grimmie beyond my own impressions (and the similar impressions of many others). I never met her personally, and I can’t say I knew much about her before her death. There is so much that I still don’t know about Christina, about her inner life, her fears, her flaws, her sufferings, her ways of prayer, her day-to-day perspective on life. (Some of these things we will never know in this present world.)

The way Christina presented herself and interacted with people on 21st century media, however, was remarkable (in fact, I have never seen anyone like her in nearly 60 years of my media-saturated life). She was full of music, but also engaged with a wide constellation of human interests and open to a world of people. Her terrific voice and her genius for music were (and are) obvious, but the depth of her humanity might not strike people who just watch a few of her videos, or even those who watched her jaw-dropping performances on The Voice in 2014. 

Beyond the astonishing musical versatility, her seven years on YouTube seem to reveal the growth and development of a normal teenage girl into a healthy and increasingly confident young woman. And that was, in fact, what was happening during that time. In the past six years, I have seen (and, hopefully, helped) three of my four daughters grow from normal teenage girls into healthy and increasingly confident young women (we still have 15-year-old Josefina at home, so the “growing” continues).

My daughters have their own sensibilities, talents, and aspirations. They have their flaws, obviously (as does their father), but they have known the love of Jesus Christ and seek to follow Him, to be faithful to their personal vocations - His ways of encountering them and shaping their lives, whatever may be the circumstances. The same can be said for my son and his wife, and then - of course - there is our first granddaughter with all her possibilities and challenges yet to come.

Fatherhood is very humbling. Yet, somehow - it seems - I have not been a complete disaster as a father (and I am not merely using self-deprecating rhetoric here; it is something of a wonder to me, given my nearly six decades of experience of failing so many times, and in so many ways). How can I possibly manage to be anything like a good father? By staying with Jesus Christ, by begging for His mercy every day, and - with the strength He constantly renews in us through the Holy Spirit - by loving and staying with Eileen every day of our 26+ years of marriage, with our mutual irrevocable determination to love each other, forgive each other, and remain together all the rest of the days that lie ahead.

If I as a father… indeed, insofar as Eileen and I as parents have loved and taught our children well, it has been rooted in this foundation.

And there has been a lot of particular help all along the journey. In navigating these recent years (especially with regard to “teenagers growing up in the 2010s”๐Ÿ˜ฎ), one of the important lights in the harbor for me, during the storms, has been the legacy and witness of Christina Grimmie. Not only her achievements, but also her “ordinariness,” has encouraged me to give my own daughters the “space” to grow. I have been freer as a father, I think, and more attuned to the mysteriousness of my kids growing up, more able to guide them in the craziness of a world that I don’t understand, because Christina dedicated herself to showing that these years can be a beautiful path. I also learned that from other families and their kids - who were (and are) the friends of my own kids - but in this epoch of media it meant something that Christina lived this out on what we perceive as the “higher platform” of being under the spotlight. She faced many of the dangers that we parents fear the most, but she persevered in her great love for God and for other people.

This was the most striking impression of Christina’s life: there seemed to be a special vitality that permeated all her remarkable successes and (even more importantly) the whole way she matured and grew as a person. She trusted in Jesus and sought Him in everything with an immense desire that invested her life with an urgent and intense expectation, opening her up more and more to the possibilities of being loved and giving herself in love. 

In time I began to notice this in her videos - she was full of this great love, which made her “grow strong” more and more, which made her confident, authoritative, and courageous. That’s not to say that she never made mistakes. She probably made a lot more mistakes than I can imagine, but she didn’t let them defeat her; she knew she could always turn to the Lord for forgiveness and to her family, close friends, and Team Grimmie for support. I think she had a lot of hidden struggles, but she stayed focused and kept going with renewed ardor.

Christina has been a great sign to me that God loves this generation, and that He is accompanying them and sustaining them as He sends them forth into adult life, into a world that will pose complex problems and dangers that I won’t always understand. This confidence may appear paradoxical, given the tragic end that Christina met with on that night of June 10, 2016. There is no way to avoid the incomprehensibility of her death, and the sorrow that will always remain for us in this world. I also watched two people die in the past three years, and the fact that they were both over 80 years old didn’t take away my sorrow: they were still my father and my mother. Yet here too, Christina has helped me to walk with my grief.

Ultimately, Christina’s life is a witness to the reality of something greater than death. She always “welcomed strangers” at her meet-and-greets. She always wanted to welcome them “with love” and so, too, we can assume that she opened her arms “with love” to that final stranger who - unknown to her - had two guns hiding under his jacket…

Someone wanted hatred to defeat love on that night. But hatred did not win. When we celebrate Christina Grimmie’s life and legacy, we are acknowledging that her life was and remains a masterpiece. All of us will die, sooner or later. Nothing can change this basic fact. But Christina reminds us that what matters most is our relationship with God, who wants to forgive us, heal us, and give us a share in His unending life. I hope and pray that all of us will have some measure of the courage to love that Christina had, that all of us will know how immensely we are loved by God.

Last month I walked my second daughter Lucia down the aisle in her wedding dress, to help her begin a new adventure, the great adventure of marriage and family. At the end of August she will turn 22 years old, the same age at which Christina “finished the race” and fulfilled God’s purpose for her life. In Christina’s circumstances the end was traumatic, especially for all of us “left behind” who still wish she were living this present life with us. None of us wants things like this to happen to our young people. God doesn’t want it. But He created people to be free, which means He can’t force them to love Him. When people turn away from God, they perpetuate violence against themselves and others, and God “permits” this because He respects human freedom, but also because He intends to overcome evil and bring forth greater good in His infinite wisdom and kindness and love for us. We don’t often see “how this works” but we have to trust in God.

The Lord didn’t give Christina a long life, but He gave her a life full of beauty and courage and love. Indeed, He gave her a life that touches upon what we mean by the word “heroism.” There was, I think, something heroic about her life. Heroism is inspiring. Christina’s heroism inspires me to have peace as time passes, as things change, as my parents pass away beyond this life, as my children grow up and leave home to follow their vocations.

Christina Grimmie’s heroism inspires me to look toward the future with hope, with greater confidence that “God is good / All the time” and that He makes us grow stronger “little by little,” giving us the strength He knows we need. He wants us to trust in Him.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

“Become Like a Child…”

Today we commemorate Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), the great 20th century philosopher, Jewish Catholic convert, Carmelite nun, and martyr for her faith and her people at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942. Above is some digital artwork based on the well-known black-and-white photograph of her.

I keep this quotation - from a letter she wrote to an intellectual colleague - on the shelf next to my bed, and it remains relevant for me every day: 

“Become like a child and lay your life, with all the searching and ruminating, into the Father’s hand” (Edith Stein).

Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Transfiguration Gives Us Hope

Today is the Feast of the TRANSFIGURATION of Jesus. (Here is a reproduction of an ancient Armenian icon.)

"From the cloud came a voice that said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him'" (Matthew 17:5).

Jesus transfigured gives us a glimpse of the glory He has from the Father and wills to share with us, and reveals the transforming beauty of His redeeming love. 

Peter, James, and John behold the reality of what (on the threshold of His Passion) Jesus was about to accomplish through His agony and death on the Cross, through the fulfillment of His love for the Father (and for us) and His breathing-forth of the Spirit. 

"All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The “light” that shines on the face of Jesus is the glory of redeeming love, which illuminates all the moments of the journey of our own lives. It is a mysterious light, in which we walk with Jesus in faith, adhere to Him in hope, and grow in love for Him. It is the light of His presence, now, in the midst of our journeying, by which He changes us and draws us in the Spirit through the circumstances of our daily life (even the most desperate, painful, incomprehensible ones). 

The glory of His redeeming love gives meaning to our lives as we are led, amidst many struggles, to our destiny, to the glorious inheritance promised to the children of the God who is Love.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

More Summer Fun With Maria

“Go ahead, Maria. Stare at Papa’s big nose!”

Maria says “pa-pa” now, when she sees me (well, at least sometimes). She also says “ma-ma, da-da, na-na” and waves her hand and says “hi”!๐Ÿ˜☺️ 

It’s so exciting!๐Ÿ™‚

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Stuff, Stuff, and More Stuff

I have so much stuff! Everywhere. Too much stuff!

Maybe my stuff is not what one would call “riches” in the ordinary sense of the term. A lot of it is broken, useless, or outdated junk. Then there are books, in great stacks on shelves, on desks, on tables, on the ground (such as the piles represented in this artistic-ish illustration). And then there are… more books.

Too much stuff. How shall I ever enter the Kingdom of God?

But really, none of these things compares to the riches that hinder me most: the riches I carry about in my mind. Here there are a few real jewels, in addition to much that is of lesser value, and lots of internal clutter. The jewels are entrusted to me for the benefit of others. I don’t know why I’m so slow to share them.

I am anxious and concerned about many things. But only “one thing” is of need to me.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

“The Truth” is NOT an Ideology

As Christians, we propose the Gospel in the world. 

We witness to the truth about Jesus Christ, and the truth of the dignity of every human person created in His image, redeemed by His death and resurrection, and called to share His glory. Christian witness to the presence of Jesus as the meaning and fulfillment of our lives, of history, of all creation cannot help manifesting itself as a definitive and all-encompassing proposal, as the truth that shapes all of reality. At the same time, “Christianity” must always respect the full measure of human freedom. It must never be reduced to the coercive imposition of “our” ideology; rather it must always constitute an invitation to a relationship of love with the One to whom our hearts belong.

The truth is not the same thing as ideology. Ideology (in the sense I use it here) refers to a systematic, humanly-conceived “program” to organize the world, or some portion of it. It prioritizes its own successful establishment, to the point of imposing itself on others by human forces and human power. Underlying ideology is a stubborn self-willed adherence to something we make up on our own, a contrived scheme that we think will fix the world if we can sell it to enough people or force them to accept it. 

Ideologies can be very impressive, inspiring, brilliant, seemingly visionary. Yet human experience has shown the perils of the ideological mindset. The "tl;dr" of twentieth century history should at least drive home this point: "The imposition of ideology does not work. Even if it begins with noble aspirations, it ends badly: with concentration camps, gulags, killing fields, starvation, war..." If only we could just learn this, even a little bit.

Ideology is destructive. It exalts its own success to the detriment of the dignity and freedom of human persons. In sharing this basic characteristic, it makes no difference whether the ideology is fascism or communism, imperialism or socialism, religious fundamentalism or restorationism - including the ideologized myth of a nationalist “spiritual destiny” to establish the “Third Rome” from the Moskva River to the Black Sea and beyond (a delusion that has no small influence on the present war that continues to impose terrible suffering on the people of Ukraine).

We must resist the temptation to forget that we belong to Christ, and reduce our witness to our own ecclesiastical schemes or illusions of our “Christian projects” attaining worldly recognition and success. This “forgetting of Christ” is the radical source of the divisions, the abuses carried out by the Church’s ministers and members, the scandals that have traumatized and alienated people in recent times (and throughout history). We must beg God’s mercy to overcome the “petty ideologies” that we so easily construct or connive in every day.

Let’s remember that the real truth is not like ideology. It's not about grasping for power and manipulating or suppressing other human persons. The real truth makes us free.

Ideology only makes us partisans of a program, and we become narrow and contentious and blind to our own flaws. We have to be careful not to give in to pride, which could lead us to turn even our faith in Jesus Christ into an ideology. Certainly Jesus opens up to us an astonishing, beautiful (but also mysterious) perspective on all of reality. Through the Holy Spirit, the Lord leads us to see the world in particular ways, but they are His ways. He is the truth. He opens us up to reality, to the adventure of really living and the risk of really loving.

Jesus is the Truth in Person, the Truth who has given Himself for the salvation and transfiguration of the world. And we know that everyone in the world lives by seeking Him (whether they know it or not). We who are Christians, who have been entrusted—by the grace of faith in its objective fullness—with the knowledge of Him and His presence in the life of His Church, are called to share Him and to continue to seek to know Him more.

Because He is Infinite Love, we must never think we have "enough" with Him, or that we have anything more than the beginning, the foretaste, the first fruits that should just deepen our desire to seek more and to love more. If we walk the roads of the world with hearts burning for God, He will draw the hearts of others to the shape of this flame according to His plan for their lives; His Spirit will awaken, enkindle, and foster the fire of their own desire for the fullness of truth, for the vocation to love that constitutes their freedom. 

In the Father’s plan, the light of this flame is destined to shine, for everyone, on the face of Christ.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

“Summer Heat 2022”

JJ Digital Studios presents this original artwork “inspired” by the heat of this season, penetrating even the rich canopy of trees that ordinarily give some shade and protection to large houses in our small towns around here.

It’s called “Summer Heat 2022,” which is not an elegant title, but is simple and direct:

Sunday, July 24, 2022

“Bestow in Abundance Your Mercy Upon Us”

We are at the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time on the Roman liturgical calendar. These weeks of Summer and Autumn that follow Pentecost continue to help us to remember the gift of the Holy Spirit that empowers us to live in Christ, already in “newness of life” even as we journey toward the fullness of eternal life.

In this week’s Collect Prayer, we profess once again our total dependence on God our Father - indeed the dependence of all things on His sustenance. We ask Him to “grant that…we may use the good things that pass” according to His wisdom, so that through them we may hold fast “even now” to that which endures, which brings the true fulfillment of every circumstance and aspiration of our hearts.

We ask the Lord to give us the wise use of the things of this world and the holding fast to our destiny, to draw forth, empower, and sustain our adherence to Him in that very freedom which is also His gift. All we are, all we hope for, is founded upon and cries out continually for His presence, His goodness, His love - for the “bestow[al] in abundance” of “[His] mercy upon us.”

Friday, July 22, 2022

Mary Magdalen, “Apostle to the Apostles”

Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, called แผฐฯƒฮฑฯ€ฯŒฯƒฯ„ฮฟฮปฮฟฯ‚ in the Byzantine tradition ("Equal-to-the-Apostles") and “apostle to the Apostles” in the West (see the text from the Preface below the picture). As John’s Gospel indicates, she was the original witness to Jesus's resurrection, and was “sent” to the others to testify to Him:

Jesus said to her, "go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord'" (John 20:17-18).

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Baby At The Pool!☺️

We went with Maria and her mommy to the pool. Obviously we spent most of the time at the kiddie pool. She seems to love the water.

She probably thinks Papa looks silly wearing her hat!๐Ÿ˜‰

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Martha’s “Need” … and Ours

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing” (Luke 10:42). The Gospel reading for this Sunday was a subject for meditation at the 2022 International Spiritual Exercises of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, presented by Abbot Mauro-Giuseppe Lepori (currently Abbot General of the Cistercian Order). Abbot Mauro reflected on this decisive exchange between Jesus and Martha, and what He means in saying that “there is need of only one thing”:

“This is the word that Jesus wanted to penetrate into her heart so that she might meditate on it and assimilate it, so that it could do her good, do good in her life, heal it, save it, unify it from its fragmentation. The meaning of this message is not a bit of psychological or spiritual hygiene, or an invitation to commit herself to bringing order into her life, starting by getting her bad character under control. The meaning of this word is Christ Himself, the meaning of Christ for Martha, the gift of Christ for Martha, which is already a shared gift even before Martha becomes aware of it. 

“The meaning of this message is that only Jesus responds to the fundamental desire of the heart and of life: the desire for unity, the desire to find a meaning that holds everything together, that keeps us all together, that saves communion, a unity that embraces everything and everyone, in which we feel embraced by everything and everyone, embraced by the everything in everything and everyone that is God, that is the Father, that is Christ, Christ who is the incarnation of the mercy of the Father and thus the incarnation of the embrace of the good Father, the one who welcomes back with infinite joy the prodigal son who returns to Him. 

“Only one thing is necessary, ‘There is need of only one thing.’ 

“Jesus offered Martha this word that puts everything back together again in the one thing needed, which is Jesus Himself, as a gift already present and shared, as a gift that He gives to everyone.”

Friday, July 15, 2022

Bonaventure Seeks God With “Sighs of Prayer”

“A person should turn his full attention [to Christ],

“to this throne of mercy,
and should gaze at Him hanging on the cross,
full of faith, hope and charity,
devoted, full of wonder and joy,
marked by gratitude,
and open to praise and jubilation.

“He will experience,
as much as is possible for one who is still living,
what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ:
‘Today you will be with me in paradise.’

“This is a sacred mystical experience.
It cannot be comprehended by anyone
unless he surrenders himself to it;
nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it;
nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit,
whom Christ sent into the world,
should come and inflame his innermost soul.
Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom
is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

“If you ask how such things can occur,
seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine;
in the longing of the will, not in the understanding;
in the sighs of prayer, not in research;
seek the bridegroom not the teacher;
God and not man;
darkness not daylight;
and look not to the light but rather
to the raging fire that carries the soul to God
with intense fervor and glowing love.
The fire is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem,
fired by Christ in the ardor of His loving passion.
Only he understood this who said:
‘My soul chose hanging and my bones death.
Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God,
for it is certainly true that:
‘No man can look upon me and live.’

“Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness....
Let us pass over with the crucified Christ
from this world to the Father
so that, when the Father has shown himself to us,
we can say with Philip: ‘It is enough.’
We may hear with Paul: ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’
And we can rejoice with David, saying:
‘My flesh and my heart fail me,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my heritage for ever.’ 

~Saint Bonaventure (1217-1274)
from The Journey of the Mind to God, ch. 7

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Slowing Down For Summer

The “Big Event” for Summer 2022 has been accomplished. Lucia and Mike arrived in Spain today to begin their honeymoon. The hot, humid, overgrown, buggy days of late July and August are approaching.

I will have to slow down. I’m very tired. I shall continue to post here as much as I am able. I may need more time than usual to recuperate. These days have been intense and full of complicated emotions underlying the overwhelmingly predominant joy.

It has been a great gift to participate in these days.

Now, we move forward in life, with gratitude to the Lord for everything, following Jesus (or at least seeking to follow Him, wanting to follow Him even though we still so often get lost), calling on the Holy Spirit to be our strength.

Veni Sancte Spiritus / Veni Per Mariam.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Pictures From a Wedding

Introducing… the NEWLYWEDS:

The wedding of Lucia Janaro and Michael Rego was a wonderful event which we all enjoyed. With travel restrictions lifted everywhere this Summer, Eileen’s parents visited from California for a week, Mike’s extended family came from New Jersey, and friends from all around were in attendance.

Maria got a birthday cake at the reception, and then her own birthday party the next day. Lots of pictures were taken and shared, and I’m too exhausted from all of it to write anything now.

So it’s “picture time”!

Above is the most recent and most complete “Janaro-Family-Plus-Spouses-Plus-Granddaughter” photo. We are all here, and Maria looks like she’s enraptured by Aunt Lucia’s beautiful wedding dress.๐Ÿ˜‰

Of course, a little princess also came to the ball…

Yay, Aunt Lucia! (No, you can’t have any beer.๐Ÿ˜‰)

Maria's happy: "I have my own cake for my birthday!"

The “Elders” - Happy Uncle, Happy Dad.

Dad gives - believe it or not - a “brief” toast…

…and dances with the bride!

For the bride and groom, cake and kisses.๐Ÿ˜˜ 

May God give you many happy years!

Friday, July 8, 2022

Rehearsal Day

We had the rehearsal and the dinner, and everything is set to go.

At some point there will be wedding pictures, and a wedding blog post. It may take some time for me to get to it. Meanwhile, here is the picture from their engagement last year, during their semester in Rome. (Rome has been good for my kids, as it was for us a generation ago.) And some peeks from today.

Rehearsal is always fun. Butterflies will come tomorrow.๐Ÿ˜‰