Saturday, August 31, 2019

On My Work (Fall 2019)

It’s a new academic year. That is always meaningful for me. I thought at the beginning of this year 2019-2020, it would be interesting to put to myself the question, “What do I do?”

When people ask this question, the “bottom line” is usually directed to the proverbial “putting bread on the table,” and understandably so. Now that it has been a decade since I retired from classroom teaching, I am finally getting to the age where my Emeritus status is no longer utterly peculiar. I am retired from the workforce, a “pensioner” before my time for health reasons after a long period of adult life intensively immersed in stressful, difficult, and absorbing work. The nature of the work is one of the things that broke my health, but that story has been told elsewhere.

Though I cannot hold a regular job (and I am grateful for the provisions in place - to which I contributed extensively in my working years - that have helped support us), I am not by any means “idle.” Teaching is so much more than a job; it is a profession in the classical sense. It is, in the human realm, a vocation, a whole way of life that entails preparation, the conferral of distinctive qualifications, and a level of commitment that orients and forms the mature personality. (I think if we had a more personalistic sense of the nature of human work, we would see that the dignity of “profession” - as a formative basis for different kinds of contribution to human life as interpersonal communion - applies widely to all kinds of fields of human endeavor, and is one aspect of the personal dimension of all human work.)

I am still very much engaged in the academic life: in the university culture, in scholarship and writing. I hope to make some enduring contribution to my own time, and leave some legacy for those who come after me.

What do I do? I am a teacher, by profession. This means being always a scholar, which is really a fancy way of saying "always a student." I am always trying to learn, and to communicate what I learn to others and hopefully inspire them to learn more.

Limitations, ironically, open up new possibilities. I have some energy for research and writing, which I try to use well. Currently, I have a regular column in Magnificat, this Blog (8+ years running), and other materials that I produce and distribute through digital media and graphics. It's interesting for me to consider that I am probably reaching more people than ever in these ways, even though I can no longer give regular lectures or "be productive" in a manner more consistent with my talents and education.

I do what I can. Most people my age are acquainted with their fair share of frustration and failure. We all suffer in different ways, and given my circumstances I can only be grateful for what I am still able to do, however unconventional the methods and unpredictable the patterns may be. Even on the worst days I am still capable of reading (or at least "listening"). Being slowed down has made me more aware of the patience required to learn anything really well.

I do have a number of ongoing research projects that I follow at my own pace. I don't know if I will be able to make any important contributions through these efforts, but I hope I can at least point in certain directions and encourage others to pursue further certain important themes. I have areas of focus that come under the more general heading of "reflections toward a personalist and communitarian theological and philosophical anthropology." They include theoretical efforts to elucidate further the foundational elements of a Christ-centered Christian humanism, as well as concrete studies of the nature of communications media, the impact of globalization and the explosion of technological power, China and East Asia and their historical and current relationship to the West, aesthetic values in contemporary culture, music and art...

When I write it down, it looks like a lot. But these are all connected to the important ecclesial themes of evangelization, inculturation, and dialogue.

If I use "the part of my brain that still works," I find that I have much to learn and share with others, much to ponder (which I can do even on days when other activities need to be set aside), much to remain engaged with, and to hold in solidarity and compassion.

For the rest, I am still learning how to be patient with the peculiarity of my own sufferings. Though I struggle with it, this is probably the most important "work" I'm called to carry out.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Saint Augustine in the Third Millennium

The great Saint Augustine, whose feast we celebrate today, remains one of the most "accessible" of the first millennium Fathers of the Church. This is all the more true given the fact that he has had a contemporary interpreter: none other than our previous Pope Benedict XVI.

In the five Wednesday General Audiences he devoted to Saint Augustine in January and February 2008, Pope Benedict presented an erudite summary of Augustine's vast work as well as some beautiful personal reflections on what he has learned from the great Latin Doctor.

Here are some words from Pope Benedict that struck me today:

"When I read St Augustine's writings, I do not get the impression that he is a man who died more or less 1,600 years ago; I feel he is like a man of today: a friend, a contemporary who speaks to me, who speaks to us with his fresh and timely faith. In St Augustine who talks to us, talks to me in his writings, we see the everlasting timeliness of his faith; of the faith that comes from Christ, the Eternal Incarnate Word, Son of God and Son of Man. And we can see that this faith is not of the past although it was preached yesterday; it is still timely today, for Christ is truly yesterday, today and for ever. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thus, St Augustine encourages us to entrust ourselves to this ever-living Christ and in this way find the path of life" (Benedict XVI, General Audience 1/16/2008).

"Faith in Christ made him understand that God, apparently so distant, in reality was not that at all. He in fact made himself near to us, becoming one of us. In this sense, faith in Christ brought Augustine's long search on the journey to truth to completion. Only a God who made himself 'tangible,' one of us, was finally a God to whom he could pray, for whom and with whom he could live. This is the way to take with courage and at the same time with humility, open to a permanent purification which each of us always needs...

"Even today, as in his time, humanity needs to know and above all to live this fundamental reality: God is love, and the encounter with him is the only response to the restlessness of the human heart; a heart inhabited by hope, still perhaps obscure and unconscious in many of our contemporaries but which already today opens us Christians to the future...

"Saint Augustine defines prayer as the expression of desire and affirms that God responds by moving our hearts toward him. On our part we must purify our desires and our hopes to welcome the sweetness of God (cf. In I Ioannis 4, 6). Indeed, only this opening of ourselves to others saves us. Let us pray, therefore, that we can follow the example of this great convert every day of our lives, and in every moment of our life encounter the Lord Jesus, the only One who saves us, purifies us and gives us true joy, true life"
(Benedict XVI, General Audience 2/27/2008).

Some texts from Saint Augustine:

"Who shall bring me to rest in You? Who will send You into my heart so to overwhelm it that my sins shall be blotted out and I may embrace You, my only good?.... Behold, the ears of my heart are before You, O Lord; open them and say to my soul, 'I am your salvation'. I will hasten after that voice, and I will lay hold upon You. Hide not Your face from me" (Confessions, book I:5).

"You had shot at our heart with the arrow of Your love, and we bore Your words transfixed in our breast" (Confessions, book IX:3).

"Late have I loved You, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved You! You called, You shouted, and You broke through my deafness. You flashed, You shone, and You dispelled my blindness. You breathed Your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for You. I have tasted You, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for Your peace" (Confessions, book X:27).

Monday, August 26, 2019

Late Summer's First Cool Air

August is nearly over. A new academic year begins this week at our school and many other universities in the USA.

The heat has broken (at least for a few days) and we have been enjoying some mild temperatures. The days are growing shorter, with sunset before 8PM now.


And here are the colorful clouds just before the early sun breaks through and scatters them (at about 6:45 AM in the morning).


The “Happy Creek” is low, but still flowing on this pretty day.


And here is my favorite Sycamore tree in the neighborhood, on the far edge of a horse field. I usually pay more attention to it in Winter, when its bare white branches make such a striking impression as they reach for the sky.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

“Grant Your People to Love What You Command”

The Collect for this Sunday and the 21st week of “ordinary time” is a theologically rich prayer. 

Notice that we ask God to grant us love for His commands. It is God who empowers us to move toward Him, to want to obey His will.

Let us always remember: the Christian life is grace. Ask for grace! Thus the Church prays:


"O God, who cause the minds of the faithful
to unite in a single purpose,
grant your people to love what you command
and to desire what you promise,
that, amid the uncertainties of this world,
our hearts may be fixed on that place
where true gladness is found.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son,
who lives and reigns with you 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever, Amen."

Friday, August 23, 2019

Hong Kong People Never Give Up


Hong Kong people refuse to give up! Considering all the circumstances, their continued dedication to the course of non-violent protest is remarkable and inspiring.

We are in the midst of the 30th anniversary of the series of events that led to the liberation of Eastern Europe, the melting away of the "Iron Curtain," and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.

I remember well these events (including the "Baltic Way" action of August 23, 1989, which inspired this most recent gesture by Hong Kong demonstrators).

The results of 1989 in Europe seemed impossible ... until they happened.

Hong Kong's young people are seeking "the impossible" today.

I can't imagine how they might prevail against the immense political iron fist of China's "Partystate," but this amazing Summer of 2019 may be one step in a long struggle that may yet contain many surprises. Even apparent defeats may lay the foundations for a better future. It is often thus in history.

For now, the Hong Kong demonstrators (with some exceptions among fringe elements) appear intent on an intelligent, persistent, non-violent approach. From what I can see, there are various groups with diverse views collaborating in the protests. 

They will need heroic patience. At best, they probably are facing a long period of resistance, which is likely to become more difficult, less popular, and more lonely before a breakthrough appears.

Through it all, they must hold fast to their one ineradicable advantage: their humanity. The greatest challenge of non-violence is to persevere even when all seems lost.

Dear Hong Kong people, persevere!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

A Glorious Crown

"You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the Lord, 
a royal diadem held by your God" (Isaiah 62:3).

The Blessed Virgin Mary, lowly servant, heavenly Queen, Mother of the Lord, our mother.

Salve Regina!

Unknown artist, Mexican folk art

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

You Are Never Alone

"Know that you are never alone...

"Jesus made himself like us, and for this reason, we have Him next to us, to cry with us in the most difficult moments of our lives. We look to Him, we entrust our questions to Him, our pain, our anger... God our Father has answered our cries and our questions, not with words, but with a presence that accompanies us, that of His Son.

"Jesus on the cross was not alone. Beneath that scaffold was his mother, Mary. 'Stabat Mater,' Mary was under the cross, to share the suffering of the Son...

"We are not alone, we have a Mother who from Heaven looks at us with love and is close to us. Let us cling to her and say to her: ‘Mother,’ as child does when it is afraid and wants to be comforted and reassured.

"We are men and women full of defects and weaknesses, but we have a Merciful Father to whom we can turn, a crucified and Risen Son who walks with us, the Holy Spirit who assists and accompanies us. We have a Mother in Heaven who continues to spread her mantle over us without ever abandoning us."

~Pope Francis

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

"In the first creation He gave me myself;
but in His new creation He gave me Himself, 
and by that gift restored to me 
the self that I had lost."

~Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)


Monday, August 19, 2019

Celebrating Through the Rest of August


The Christian life is full of encounters with real persons who inspire and assist us in so many ways. The observance of the liturgical year gives us the chance to renew these encounters. Every season has its feasts, so that we alays have something to look forward to. Look at what's coming up in the days ahead:
●Tuesday, August 20 - Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
●Wednesday, August 21 - Saint Pius X

●Thursday, August 22 - Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (on the eighth day after the Assumption, we honor Mary's unique place as the "lowly servant" exalted by God, who is called "blessed" by every generation).
●Friday, August 23 - Saint Rose of Lima
●Saturday, August 24 - Feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle
●Sunday, August 25 - is SUNDAY!
(Remember, every Sunday is a holiday)
●Tuesday, August 27 - Saint Monica (mother of Augustine)
●Wednesday, August 28 - Saint Augustine
●Thursday, August 29
- the memorial of the "Passion of Saint John the Baptist" (whose birthday we just honored in June).
Right now it's a busy time for celebrating our heroic brothers and sisters in Christ over the course of two thousand years. These great men and women are our friends in the "communion of saints," and they continue to accompany us on our often difficult journey through this life until we arrive at the fullness of maturity in Jesus Christ and join them in the eternal blessedness of God's kingdom.

May the Lord lift up our hearts and give us joy in these days, and in every day.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Your Promises Surpass Every Human Desire

"O God, who have prepared for those who love you good things which no eye can see, fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love, so that, loving you in all things and above all things we may attain your promises which surpass every human desire. 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. Amen."

This is the very rich, hopeful, profound Collect ("Opening Prayer") for the current week of the liturgical year. The Collect prayer varies from week to week (and also differs for feasts and saint's day celebrations); in the Sunday liturgy the priest prays it after the Gloria and before the Scripture readings.

It's one of the places during Mass that can easily feel like a "commercial break," where we might drift off into thinking about brunch or football or some other thing, but it's worth it to listen, participate with mind and heart, and return to these texts during our own personal prayer time.

These texts - often based on ancient prayers and always focused on the theme of the week or day in the liturgical calendar - can help give focus to our worship and our own meditation. They also shed light on how we live our daily life with Jesus and in communion with one another in the Church.

The truth about life is that we are not alone. We belong to God, and we are "members of one another" in Christ's body and children of God in the human family.

We have a destiny that gives purpose to our life, toward which we journey every day even in the midst of the most ordinary circumstances and concerns. We are made for a happiness beyond anything we can imagine, that everything in life "points to," where every moment finds its real meaning and fulfillment: the Mystery of the God who is Absolute Love, who gives himself to us that we might share his unfathomable, inexhaustible joy.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Mary Lives!

Wishing everyone a happy and holy and joyful Feast of the Dormition and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

Mary helps us in everything. She goes before us in glory, soul and body, already now into the fullness of the New Creation. Her splendor is the beginning of the complete realization of God's loving plan for the world.

Today we remember the Woman who is full of God, and whose "yes" to God has become the acceptance of each one of us as her child.  Each one of us is loved by a real Mother, with a real nurturing tenderness, affirmation, and patience that touches our every day - even if we don't realize it.

We pray that the Mother of God might be gratefully acknowledged, honored, and relied upon by every human person, because in the solicitude of her intimate maternal love she embraces each one.

We pray especially that all baptized Christians will recognize that she is their Mother, and allow her - within the mystery of the workings of the Holy Spirit - to help them attain the fullness of Christian faith and life.

Those of us who live in the Americas ought to become more familiar with the very special gift Mary has given us in the middle of this continent, a gift that "mediates" (in some way) the "presence" of her glorified humanity.

We have seen many pictures of the mysterious cactus cloth cloak worn 500 years ago by an indigenous Mexican man. He was a simple, ordinary man. If it were not for this cloak, history never would have noticed Cuauhtlatoatzin, the man called "Singing Eagle" among his own people, who took the names "Juan Diego" at his baptism. He lived an obscure, humble life until that morning of the Winter Solstice - December 12, 1531 - when she found him on a hillside and gave him a sign of herself, impressed upon his cloak. It endures, undiminished, to this very day.

Look at one of the pictures of the image on Juan Diego's garment. There she is...not a myth, not a "mother-goddess," not a scientifically unusual painting by some anonymous brilliant artist, but the wonderful miraculous icon of the Woman who lives in all her humanity, and carries us through all our days.

She is the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God - the true mother of the God who came to dwell among us, to share our humanity, to save us and transform us. She is the Woman who crushes the ancient serpent under her feet, Nuestra SeƱora de Guadalupe. She who is alive in every way communicates her tender love to us, especially to all of us who "dwell on this land." She brings healing.


Mary is the New Eve.  The New Paradise.  The beginning of the New Creation. The young girl from Nazareth who said Yes to God.  She is the Mother of Mercy.

She is our mother. And we are the little brothers and sisters of Jesus, children of God, destined to share His glory forever.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Saint Maximilian Kolbe: The Inner Conflict

"The real conflict is an inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?" (Maximilian Kolbe, writing shortly before his arrest in 1941 - he died in Auschwitz on August 14, 1941).

Monday, August 12, 2019

We Are Already a New Creation in Christ

The journey of faith makes you a new creature, who has "the dignity, the certainty of your destiny and the capacity to operate in a new and more human way."

This new humanity means "a different experience of the sentiment of yourself, a different perception of things, a different emotion of the presence of others, a different impetus and density in relationships, a different gusto in the troubled dynamic of work, an outcome that was inconceivable, unimaginable before" (Luigi Giussani).

According to Luigi Giussani (who is essentially reminding us - with certain emphatic notes - of the teaching of the New Testament), our belonging to Jesus Christ transforms us in a way that already begins in this present life. We change in a way that impacts our experience of reality and ourselves, while not ceasing to be mysterious. We are changed in the depths of ourselves and in our engagement of reality, especially in the realm of interpersonal relations with others and with God.

In our "journey of faith," in this life, we glimpse "signs" of God's power working in our lives, and such indications can bring consolation and encouragement. But in this life - as classical Christian spirituality has always said - we are not meant to seek the consolations of God but the God of consolations, He who is the Source of all that renews and transforms us. 

These signs are not meant to cause us to "pause in life" (so to speak) and attempt to "capture" the transfiguring power of God in some sort of analysis that we could then "possess" (conceptually or imaginatively) as the source of our confidence. God's plan for us remains a mystery always beyond us. We journey toward Him, and He who is Mystery carries us in this journey, He who in Jesus reveals Himself as the Mystery of Love drawn ineffably "close" to us.

We are a "new creation" in Christ, even in this life, not because we adhere to our conception, our own securely mastered definition and self-referential criteria for measuring "new creaturehood." We are a new creation because, in the living and journeying of all of life - everything we go through, everything we feel, everything we suffer - we adhere to Him, we trust in Him, we love Him who has first loved us.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Christina Grimmie: "Why Gain the World...?"

Three years, two months. Christina Grimmie, thank you for not losing yourself. Shine on, bright beautiful star!⭐♫  


Friday, August 9, 2019

Ground Zero August Ninth


Ground Zero August Ninth

by John Janaro

It was a single bright blazing 
luminous moment,
a brief foamy shiny speck of wave 
cresting on the giant ocean of time.

We did not mean to turn our heads, 
but the spark grabbed our gaze.
Our eyes fixed against the sky's edge.

And there was a flash on the horizon,
not like the sun's first hint of daily dawn, 
mild and sweet and seldom noticed.
No, there was a flash—full, furious,
splendid strange
a convergence of ten thousand suns.
The force fell on our skulls and stole our feet,
and we flew.

As eyes, ears, bodies spun through the air,
the clouds roared 
and white hot light swallowed the earth.

There was no time to dither or complain, 
to flee or to be afraid.
Everything disappeared; everything changed.

Everything, and yet...
there is a strange space of passage, still, 
inside this flashing moment.

For who calculates the division of an instant; 
who can fathom the depth of its duration?

Who knows how to measure the distance 
between the beginning of the end
and the end of the end?
What we know is that the moment has come, 
the time is at hand.

A moment of time burns us away
as fire rages in the wind.

~August 9, 2019

Thursday, August 8, 2019

An Important Reminder From Saint Dominic

With his feast celebrated on August 8, the example and witness of the great medieval beggar, Dominic de Guzman, provide valuable instruction for us, all the more so when we dedicate our energies to the most worthy and noble of causes.

Dominic speaks here (in the text accompanying the image on the left) about preaching the Gospel, and his words pertain to the apostolic work of conversion. Here above all fruits grow out of humility, poverty, and love for God and our neighbor. 

But I think Dominic's words also speak to the spirit in which we must take up whatever just cause we are called to pursue, or whatever form of political or social advocacy.

Humility has different external forms. In certain circumstances, it requires vigorous and tenacious action for truth and justice and equity. Moreover, self defense and protection of others may require the use of material force, but never with violence in our hearts against the other person(s) as such.

Make no mistake: "whoever lives by the sword will die by the sword." Let us therefore always seek, by God's grace, to be men and women who build peace in the midst of our brothers and sisters, and who love God with confidence in His goodness.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hong Kong: The Revolution IS Being Televised

Photo by May James / Hong Kong Free Press
‘The Revolution is being televised’ ...on YouTube and Twitter. 

As a “China-watcher” for some years, I am seeing something kinda new and significant in this Hong Kong “Summer of Protest.” 

Unlike the soul-stirring (and ultimately suppressed) student-led “Umbrella Movement” of 2014, there is no visible leadership here. In some places, 'conventional nonviolence' has given way to strategies inspired by Kung Fu philosophy, with guerrilla style disruptive tactics, savvy coordination via the internet, and surveillance-resistant anonymity, all of which enables current groups of demonstrators to have a remarkable degree of elusiveness and mobility. There have been some accusations of protester violence; but the obvious problem is police thuggery. Meanwhile, obsequious local public officials continue to dance to Beijing's tune.

Protesters have been taking to the streets on weekends since the beginning of June, when local legislation was proposed that would allow mainland China to extradite criminal suspects from the semi-autonomous former British colony. The legislation has been "suspended" (but not revoked), and protest demands have expanded to include the perennially controversial overall aspects of the current "One-Country-Two-Systems" arrangement.

This is a dangerous situation.

One thing seems clear regarding Hong Kong politics in the past decade: the kids are not buying it. They don't want their future to be some kind of new Soviet Union "with-Chinese-characteristics." The kids are taking enormous risks, dressed in black and wearing face masks, using 2019 technology in the spirit, bravery, restraint, and cleverness of classic Chinese martial arts heroes. Their opponent is a behemoth, but the kids ought not to be underestimated. Indeed, multitudes from every sector of Hong Kong society are calling for justice and respect for their human dignity. 

I don’t know how it will all play out, but if Beijing sends in the People's Liberation Army they will not find these protesters planted like sitting ducks to be shot down. They may instead be up against the ghost of Bruce Lee (with an encrypted cell phone). 

What will China do then? This is a dangerous situation, indeed. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Transfiguration

TRANSFIGURATION: Jesus Christ is the center of the universe and of history. On Mount Tabor, He reveals His glory as the light. Later, on the cross, He will reveal His glory as unconquerable love.


"O Christ our God, at the time of your Transfiguration on the Mount, You showed your disciples as much of your glory as they could hold. Through the prayers of the Mother of God, let your eternal light shine also upon us sinners. O Giver of Light, glory to You!"

~Troparion, Feast of the Transfiguration, 
Byzantine Liturgy

Monday, August 5, 2019

An Encounter with Him as a Living Person...

These words are from seven years ago, on August 5, 2012. The design I put together today. Jesus is the same: yesterday, today, and forever (cf. Hebrews 13:8).


Sunday, August 4, 2019

Reflections on Music and Musical Artists (Part 1)

Frequently on this blog, I write about musicians, performers, songwriters, composers, and various styles of music. In this post, however, I want to begin a series of reflections on what music is and what musicians are doing when they "make" music. 

These reflections will be general, ad-hoc, and variable. They are the thoughts of someone who is both a philosopher and a musician (as well as something of an "arts critic" and an avid listener who enjoys music). 


This means that my reflections will approach the topic from a variety of perspectives. I don't have (nor am I ready to attempt) any systematic "theory of music." I just want to verbalize some ideas and put them on the table. In doing this, I am trying to advance my own ongoing efforts to further refine and integrate many different considerations, impressions, and experiences of music as a fundamental facet of life.

I love how music shapes sound into a “language” that connects people because it expresses in a concrete way the many facets of the human experience, especially the mysterious longing for transcendence that “cannot help” leaving its mark on every authentic artistic endeavor. 


I listen to lots of kinds of music, seeking to discover the urge for beauty that gives it life. Often it is a search for “gold in the mud,” because music frequently reaches us within a context that harnesses it (and tries to use its affective power) to serve complex purposes - including distracting entertainment spectacles, ideological agendas, and emotional manipulation. 


The “language” of music is true in that universal, undifferentiated, multidimensional sense that pertains to the intuition of beauty. But music can be presented within a context that twists its diverse nuances into the service of lies: propaganda, political brainwashing, moral degeneration of various kinds, social/ cultural experimentation that attacks human dignity, or else just cheap superficiality posing as depth (which is essential to powering the engine of consumerism).

Still, there remains the ineradicable human need for beauty, even in its most primitive or elemental forms. Sound has a vast spectrum and an enormous "plasticity," yet the crafting of sounds insists on their being "gathered together" in some manner of resonance. 


The artist makes music by incorporating sounds into his or her own quest for the resonance of audible reality, for its "coming together" (in various forms) as an artifact within the universe of being. Every artist endeavors to make beautiful artifacts that "contain" and communicate something of the trajectory of the universe toward integration, and of the interior personal struggle toward an enduring fulfillment.

The resonance of music expresses, in so many different ways, the drama of the cry of the human heart for something "beyond," something greater - for a fulfillment corresponding to the whole expansion of freedom, for beauty. 

I think we can hear an echo of this cry in the work of any musician who is trying to be a real artist, though it may be partially obscured, muted, or buried under the imperfections and conflicting preoccupations that may accompany their work. 

We can discover these audible echoes of the heart even in some contemporary music artists who are rather caught up in the excesses of their enlarged ego, which - under a gigantic (but also fickle and fleeting) spotlight - craves attention, celebrity, ongoing relevance and - of course - lots and lots of money.

Real artists today are seekers of beauty amidst the turbulence in which they so often find themselves in this epoch. In every age there have been poseurs and charlatans who invade the world of creative expression. And today they are (like everything else in our time) bigger and noisier than ever. It’s not always easy to identify the real musical artists or to recognize the sounds of their searching. I hope God’s grace and my years of experience have begun to give me the wisdom to listen well (and perhaps help others to listen, and to make their own music).

...to be continued...

Saturday, August 3, 2019

"Deepening the Sense of the Mystery"

"Christ does not resolve the drama of the 'I,' eliminating human desire, but, rather, exalting it, deepening the sense of the mystery. What kind of solution would be one that ended up flattening desire or suppressing it? .

"Instead, those who acknowledge Christ see their humanity brought beyond all imagination. For this reason, the deepening in us of the sense of mystery is the sign of His presence" 
(Fr. Julian Carron).

Friday, August 2, 2019

Summer Days

I have spent a lot of time indoors this Summer, because of the heat and humidity. But I get out, and have taken a few pictures.

We have had house shaking, power breaking afternoon thunderstorms.


...and some lovely, cooler, clear weather, like the day Eileen and I went to Wolf Trap (I still have to write more on that wonderful evening of music).


We have a few summer flowers, like this Asian immigrant, the hibiscus ("rose of Sharon") that blooms throughout the summer in this area.


...and the sun still sets pretty late in the evening.