Monday, August 31, 2020

"He's Doing a Lot of THINKING...?" (Video Included)

So we have come to the end of August in the year of 2020. The human race has not yet become extinct. That's good news!!

And the Janaros had our main event of the year. Everything went off as well as we could have hoped. It was a fine wedding ... with a few distinctively "corona" peculiarities, of course. Perhaps I should use that masked man with the boutonniere as my "Self Portrait 2020."

Actually, people have been grumbling a lot about how awful the year has been, but I don't think any of the problems we are dealing with today will be gone by 2021. It could be frustrating for those who are counting on things eventually getting "normal" (whether it's through a restoration of "the old normal" or an adjustment to the all-to-frequently proclaimed "new normal"). This year is actually just bringing into greater focus the chronic abnormality most of us have living in for our entire lives.

Many of us are still affected somewhat by the lingering "atmosphere" of utopian scientism, the presumptuous prejudice that was the motivating (though illusory) aspiration driving "the modern world." It formed in humans (at least in the "first world") the expectation that science and technology could solve, or would very soon be able to solve, all our problems. This was, in fact, an abnormal way of living. Clearly, we are coming to see that the reality of things is "more complicated." We are now living through a traumatic period of transition, in which utopian scientism is simultaneously reaching the peak of its material achievement and being unmasked as a profoundly inadequate set of tools for fixing and perfecting humanity.

New powers and new techniques open up constructive possibilities, but they can also give rise to new problems. As long as freedom exists — wounded freedom, vulnerable to distraction, negligence, and malice — we will have an ongoing flow of human crises and problems that cannot be ended simply by the application of technology, the "forward march" of science, or any kind of social engineering.

Still, we are right to continue to try to make our external circumstances "better," and in this we have good hope of some real success. Sometimes, however, this kind of progress or reform is "messy," with inevitable mistakes, disagreements, and conflicts that arise not only from our failures in relation to one another, but especially from the dramatic character of life itself. This is the real "normal" in human existence: living with the awareness that we are engaged in a drama, with ongoing and sometimes unexpected challenges, and that in order to grow and thrive as human persons we must face these challenges together.

One source of the increasing interpersonal violence we direct toward one another in so many facets of life may be linked to the dizzying speed and power we have become accustomed to exercising over places and things. All this power has exacerbated our (utopian and self-deceiving) tendency to demand that every problem, every obstacle, be resolved quickly and completely or else ignored or denied. But other people come along and make things "messy." These other people who come from different perspectives, with different methods for approaching a problem, people who think and act out of their own experience of life and their own suffering, become intolerable obstacles to us as we seek to implement our (efficient, thorough) solutions and programs.

Thus our ideas become ideologies and "the other people" become enemies. We then feel free to heap contempt upon them.

Of course, it is sometimes the case that "the other people" are wrong. They still deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, to be approached with a genuine compassion (that does not condescend, but truly sees the other as a person). Without allowing ourselves to be tricked or used, we should work together with them as much as we can.

We don't owe respect to discredited movements, ideologies, theories, or prejudices. We don't owe respect to Nazism, Marxism-Leninism, Racism, Obscurantism, Oppression, the Chinese Communist Party, the Ku Klux Klan, etcetera. We are not saying that we have to work with people who identify with these groups or their views. [In some cases, such as the CCP, we may be forced to deal with them because of the extensiveness of their power, but even then we must not compromise our moral principles, we should do whatever we can to help the victims of their violence, and in all cases we had better keep both eyes wide open].

But human persons are always worthy of love and respect. And in crises of worldwide proportions, we need to work together as much as possible. We need to cultivate the art of realistic collaboration, with patience in the face of complex circumstances and compassion for one another in our differences.

In the crises of our time, the way forward is messy. But it is possible to go forward if we do it together, as neighbors, as brothers and sisters.

Too often, however, we continue to fight against one another, smear one another with dirt, condemn one another, "cancel" one another, exclude one another from the status of being human persons with dignity and intrinsic value, and try to humiliate one another. This is not only just plain wrong. It is a "luxury" we can no longer afford.

The consequences of factionalism and strife in the global village will be catastrophic at levels far beyond what we have experienced thus far.


Here is a video, where I don't develop these points. I listen to the river and talk about the fading sun and the shadows of the leaves, and then I talk about the need for cooperation and community. And I say that I don't have "solutions" to offer. I'm "doing a lot of thinking" — not to be evasive but to be thorough.

I'm a plodder. In a world full of InstaOpinions, someone has to plod. Even where I have strong and well-founded opinions that I venture to present, I still continue to plod — thinking things through in different ways, as events unfold, revising or following up on my presentation where necessary. This is what I have to offer: perhaps it will yield, in the end, a few insights, a few words worth saying.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Lucia Turns Twenty!

August 28th was Birthday number 20 for our dear daughter Lucia Janaro.๐ŸŒน๐Ÿฐ Happy Birthday Lucia! We love you!❤ (Sorry... you gotta let silly Dads do things like this, but not too often.๐Ÿ˜‰)

This means we have "only" TWO teenagers left in the family. Which, of course, means we've still got plenty of basic "parenting" ahead of us. 

Of course, we'll always be "Mom" and "Dad" to each and all our "kids" (even after, God willing, we acquire another set of names in the small voices of a new generation).

Indeed, as I have learned myself through the years in so many different ways (beautiful, dramatic, and even painful ways), you never stop being somebody's kid.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Saint Augustine's "Hundredfold"

Saint Augustine.

There's no end to what we could say about his life, his holiness, his wisdom, his importance as a theologian, philosopher, teacher, and writer.

Here is one particular thing (among many others) that amazes me about him: Saint Augustine is a special example - a witness for the whole world and the entire history of human culture - of what Jesus calls "the hundredfold" (Mark 10:31).

Jesus says that if we follow Him, we will receive eternal life... but also, we will receive a hundredfold in this life (along with "persecutions"). He also says "seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added as well" (see Matthew 6:33).

What does Jesus mean?

He does not mean the we should follow Him in order to get stuff in this life. That would be to reduce Jesus to our own measure. Jesus wants to transform us according to God's wisdom. He wants to give us a new mind and a new heart. He promises eternal life, which is the mystery toward which everything in this life points, and which is therefore the real meaning of everything in this life.

If we follow Jesus, if we trust in Jesus, we will attain the fullness of salvation - we will live forever in communion with God, in that transcendent joy that God has promised to those who love Him and remain faithful to Him. This is what corresponds to the longing of the human heart, and is the fulfillment that everyone seeks (whether they realize it or not). To amplify this point, Jesus also assures us that if we follow Him, our lives even in this world will be enriched in value and significance beyond anything we could aspire to according to our own measure.

Luigi Giussani often said something that resonates deeply with me, and corresponds to my own experience. He said that if you really follow Christ, you will also discover that you love your wife a hundred times more than you ever could have imagined; that you love your children a hundred times more, your work a hundred times more, your friends a hundred times more. You will discover the real greatness of this life, and you will even be able to embrace suffering.

There is a particular way in which Saint Augustine's life indicates this pattern. Here was a man who set out to be a great rhetorician, a master of articulation and persuasion, an all-around "artist with words." He pursued this ambition with relentless passion, but without understanding its true value. And then he found Christ, and he gave up all thought of being a rhetorician. He gave up the desire to be known for his speeches and writings and works in this world. He longed for Christ, followed Christ, and kept his heart fixed on Christ.

And from out of his singular passion for Christ - without even thinking about it, or caring, or noticing it - he wrote an amazing book. Desiring only to praise Christ, he wrote a book (his Confessions) that was not only the greatest book of its epoch, but one of the greatest ever written in human history. He gave the world inimitable and unforgettable Latin prose, soaring and poetic diction, and timeless, soul-penetrating insight into the heart of the human being.

Aurelius Augustinus the rhetorician and scholar, had he followed his own ambition, might have become a teacher with some following, or even perhaps a minor provincial statesman of his period. Students of late antiquity might have known his name. But Saint Augustine, by following Christ, became also a hundred times more in the history of this world. He wrote books that speak to every time and in every language, and he gave us words that ring out through the ages - words that rival any that have ever been uttered in human speech.

There is something of the hundredfold here, even if he himself didn't perceive it or concern himself with it - even if it has been more for our benefit than for his.
"Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. 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 X:27).

Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Christian Vocation is an Ongoing Conversion

Christian life is a path of conversion from an egocentric posture to an ever deepening habit of authentic charity - an attitude of mind and heart that truly loves other persons for who they are, and for how Jesus makes Himself present to us through their own personal uniqueness. Our Christian vocation takes concrete shape in the Lord's call to love, addressed to us in daily life, in our families, in work and social environments, and on the internet too. And Jesus shapes our lives in such a way as to draw us along the path of loving Him and loving others. Our sufferings, too, are encompassed within this particular plan of healing and transforming love that Jesus has for each one of us as a unique person, whom He embraces in His infinite wisdom.

In answering the call of the vocation to charity, we must have great trust in Jesus, for without Him we can do nothing. But He is with us, working in our lives and teaching us through His Spirit how to grow in genuine self-giving love. We must not become discouraged by our persistent imperfections and selfishness, but continue to work toward cooperating with God's grace and growing in love.

Saint John Paul II speaks of the Christian life as an ongoing conversion, a work-in-progress through which God's love is integrated into every aspect of our lives, bringing personal and social healing and transformation:
"What is needed is a continuous, permanent conversion which, while requiring an interior detachment from every evil and an adherence to good in its fullness, is brought about concretely in steps which lead us ever forward. Thus a dynamic process develops, one which advances gradually with the progressive integration of the gifts of God and the demands of His definitive and absolute love in the entire personal and social life of man. Therefore an educational growth process is necessary, in order that individual believers, families and peoples, even civilization itself, by beginning from what they have already received of the mystery of Christ, may patiently be led forward, arriving at a richer understanding and a fuller integration of this mystery in their lives" (Familiaris Consortio, 9).

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Thirty Years Ago: Encountering a New Humanity (Part 1)

In the midst of this year, with all its confusion, I have had much occasion to remember what happened to me 30 years ago, and how important those days remain for me. I have been struck by this in spite of many distractions (or, rather, it has proven resilient and vital again and again in response to what would otherwise be nothing but frustrating distractions).

Thus I have recognized and relied on the ongoing relevance of an essential and formative encounter that began for me in those days, and that continues to grow even with my stubborn and complicated character, my strange and peculiar life, and all the resistance of my pride.

It was in the year 1990 that I "first became involved with" a group of Catholic Christians on the campus of CUA (where I was studying theology as a lay student at the Dominican House of Studies). At the time, I saw this involvement primarily as a rather clever choice that I was making to associate with like-minded young people.

Yes, young people. I was 27 years old in 1990. 

In spite of the campus meeting place, not many who belonged to this group were students. It was mostly Catholic young urban professionals, men and women in their 20s, well-educated, intellectually inclined, and (with a few exceptions) single.

"Joining this group" was an intelligent choice, one of the few I have really made in my largely hesitant, mediocre life. But it was so was much more than "my choice." It was a gift given to me, a crucial event that happened to me. It was a whole beautiful and mysterious path that opened up for my life — a path that was to shape profoundly the ensuing 30 years (though I have often wandered off to the side or moved very slowly during that time).

Every week, the group met for Mass, then gathered in a classroom for what seemed like a disorganized and free-wheeling discussion about how we were experiencing and living our faith. Afterwards we would go out for pizza. On weekends and at other times we would also hang out, not just for fun, but also to explore the awareness we were trying to cultivate that we were a community in Christ. The discussions at the weekly meetings were loosely based (often very loosely) on a reading for the week from an intriguing and difficult text, a book by an Italian priest that had only very recently been translated into English.

The priest was Monsignor Luigi Giussani. The book was The Religious Sense.

But I have forgotten another very important reality. In the midst of the large weekly meeting there were always a few Italians. They were students or professionals working in the Washington D.C. area who also participated in Giussani's movement in Italy. They didn't try to take over the group, or put on a show of being "experts in Giussani-ism" (๐Ÿ˜œ). They had not come with a "plan" to "start the movement in the USA." But they were active and engaged with the rest of us, and they had a kind of groundedness and freedom which shaped them as very distinct, self-possessed, confident personalities who were also some of the most open people I have ever known.

We were pretty clueless as to what this "movement" was all about or what the heck we were doing. But the Italians didn't really try to "explain it" to us, and they certainly didn't try to impose anything on us. Rather, they befriended us with what I later realized was tremendous confidence in the grace of Jesus Christ and His presence among us. And they shared their own experiences with us of "Comunione e Liberazione,the immense Catholic movement in Italy (and elsewhere in Europe) through which they had discovered that Christ was real, that He was the meaning of all of life.

Being with them and with one another (and studying this seemingly incomprehensible book), we encountered Jesus Christ in a particularly vital way, a way that corresponded to the depths of our own humanity, and a way that called us to be incorporated more profoundly into His Body, His Church, with a greater attention to reality, a deeper charity, and a passion to be witnesses in the world to Him. An ecclesial movement called Communion and Liberation thus began to be (and continues to be) a small but tenacious and fruitful gathering of people who live their Catholic faith with the "accent" of this particular charism, fully and faithfully inserted within the whole Church and in the society of the USA.

Two people I met in those early years of belonging to CL stand out immediately for me. One of them was Msgr Giussani himself. I have written already about his particular counsel and encouragement for me in my professional vocation as a teacher. I didn't meet him until 1991. But the other person is someone I met on the first day, when I went into that classroom for my first experience of the "School of Community." It was more than an "occasion" — the fact is that everything that happened to engender, build up, and sustain my companionship with this person over the years remains rooted in that friendship with Christ that we both began to experience in those days, 30 years ago.

That person is sitting here with me in the same room as I write these words. Her name was different 30 years ago; it has long been changed to what it is today: "Eileen Janaro."๐Ÿ˜‰

[to be continued...]

Monday, August 24, 2020

Crescent Moon at Dusk

This is a sliver of the moon in the evening sky from last week. The "crescent moon" is lovely, and this composition (in the early evening, near the horizon) definitely got my attention.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Desire of Our Hearts For "True Gladness"

We ask the Lord our God, our Father, to fill our hearts with His love, to change us, to give us a new life that is beyond anything we could ever have imagined if He hadn't made us for it and called us to it. We ask Him to fix our hearts on that place where true gladness is found.

I want to point out some of the really profound "Collect" prayers that we have on the Roman rite liturgical calendar around this time of year. Last week's and the current week's prayers (i.e. the twentieth and twenty first weeks of Ordinary Time) are great examples.

Here is the prayer from last week:

Here we acknowledge the transcendence of God, and also the transcendence of our own destiny. Our God is "above all things" and has destined for our fulfillment "good things which no eye can see," the joys of communion with Him. We have a supernatural destiny which is beyond ourselves while also made accessible and intimate to our humanity by God's loving initiative, His grace in Jesus Christ.

Grace engenders a relationship of love: God loves us in such a way that we are empowered to love Him and "attain" His "promises." He reveals and gives this new life to us through Jesus, who is the meaning of our existence and all of creation. Here "we pray" to God our Father, we ask Him to "fill our hearts" with His love so that we are moved and changed and transformed that love. His love "warms" our hearts, engages them, forges within them a new way of experiencing and responding to reality and to Himself. Grace enables us to love Him "in all things" as well as "above all things," so that in this world in which we live we already begin to find Him and be drawn by Him.

Jesus who has taken our humanity wants to transform the depths of our hearts so that through His love our "human desire" will surpass itself. We are called to 'lose ourselves' not in some nihilistic way, but with the confidence that in communion with the Trinity we will enter into a mysterious 'beyond' in which nevertheless we will also 'find ourselves' and the goodness of all things in a super-eminent way.

God's grace has already called us and prepared this destiny for us, which we can only attain through a loving and hopeful faith in Jesus. In the Church's prayer we ask for the grace that enables us to grow in this living faith, to move forward in the journey to our fulfillment.

The prayer for the current week is similarly rich in the way it touches upon the essentials of freedom, grace, and destiny:

There is a beautiful reference here to the communion of the Church, in the sense of the unity we share in moving forward together toward a "single purpose," a unity which God has already given us through baptism into the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. Here too, we are asking to grow on the path toward fulfilling His purpose. We ask God to give us a greater measure of love for His will and desire for His promise, so that faith and hope may also be strengthened and focused on "that place where true gladness is found."

Again and again we see that the "hinge" of the Collect each week is found in words such as "grant us, we pray" or some similar form of asking God - in His love and mercy for us - to give to us that which is the foundation and the vitality of our gift of ourselves to Him, in love.

This corresponds to His grace working in us, His Holy Spirit transforming us through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Mary the Gate of Dawn, the Mother of Mercy

On the feast day that one might call the "Octave of the Assumption" - the celebration in which we honor the "Queenship" of Mary - I have found myself drawn to to an icon that is little known in the West, but that represents an important "meeting place" for Baltic peoples and Slavs, for Latin Catholics and Byzantine Orthodox.

Some years ago, I obtained an inexpensive print of the icon of the Virgin Mary called "Ostrobramska." The image was fascinating and distinctive, but the accompanying description - unfortunately for me - was in Russian.

Today that wouldn't be too much of a problem; I could just scan it with my phone and use the app of my choice. The English that popped up wouldn't be pretty, but I'd at least be "in the ballpark." But this was long before Google Translate. In fact, it may have been before "Google anything"!

I probably used "the World Wide Web" to search for information, with the dial-up modem and the dong-dong-bidong noises and the waiting and waiting... and hoping no one else needed to use the phone (because there was only one "phone line" in the house, but... never mind: kids, ask your parents and they'll tell you what it was like๐Ÿ˜‰).

One way or another, I found out more about this beautiful icon. It was (only) about 500-or-so years old, and was in a chapel in the eastern gate of the city of Vilnius... or Wilno... or ะ’iะปัŒะฝั (Vilnya) depending on what language you are speaking (Lithuanian, Polish, or one of the Eastern Slavic languages - with variations that I can't go into here). It was probably originally painted (perhaps on commission) in a Western European Renaissance style for this important city in a remarkable kingdom that flourished for several hundred years, but that we don't learn much about in school: the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The "original" painting
This was the golden age of Polish culture and political power, when the Jagiellonian dynasty - who ruled as Kings of Poland and Grand Dukes of Lithuania - consolidated the dual monarchy into a confederation.

Like most "golden ages," it didn't last very long (historically speaking) and by the end of the 18th century, Russia, Austria, and Prussia - through a series of partitions - had removed it entirely from the map.

Nevertheless, although the population of Vilnius was diverse and existed under various political regimes, the icon was always honored. Popular devotion had long credited the Virgin of Ostrobramska with intercessions that brought miracles. At some point (18th century) it was "clothed" in the gold and silver exterior it has today - in the fashion of Russian Orthodox icons.

A miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, not visibly holding the child Jesus, but in a more "Apocalyptic pose" - with the the sun, the moon, the stars ... then the crowns (at various stages worked into the iconography). Here is Mary, at the crossroads of peoples and cultures, responding to the needs of all her children, gently working for peace and reconciliation.

Does that sound "familiar"? No wonder I loved this image. Obviously it's not the same as "La Madrecita" (nothing is quite like Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe) but there are some symbolic correspondences. Above all, there is the fact that Mary - being a good mother - is never far from her children, especially those who have great need of her.

Here she has been honored in a popular pilgrimage destination for Lithuanians, Poles, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Russians - both Catholics and Orthodox. Let's just say, these are not peoples who have been inclined to like one another under ordinary circumstances over the past several centuries (or more). But Mary is Queen! And she brings peoples together and makes peace.

And not just any kind of peace: She bears God's gift of himself to the world, God's peace, God's compassion for our brokenness, who comes to save us in his mercy.

Painted Russian Orthodox icon 
When the smoke of the early 20th century's "Great War" finally cleared, the Ostrobramska icon was for a couple of decades in "Wilno" in a temporarily independent Poland. Once again, Poland was a borderland for "Western" Europe. Just as they had once held back the imperial ambitions of the Swedes in the north and (crucially) the Ottoman Turks from their south (think 1683), so Poland had kept the Bolsheviks and their revolution confined to Russia... at least temporarily.

Meanwhile the devotion to the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Gate of Dawn had spread among the peoples of the region (with copies of the icon "written" in various styles) and was taken by emigrants to the rest of the world.

In 1927, the Pope gave special recognition to the icon, giving it the title "Mother of Mercy." This is particularly striking, given the fact that on April 28, 1935 - the Second Sunday of Easter (the Easter Octave) - Mass was offered in the Ostrobramska church for the first time in the presence of a new image (not of Mary, but of her Son), which was presented through the collaboration of three relatively unknown people: there was an artist and professor at Wilno's Art Academy who painted it, then there was the priest who said the Mass, and finally there was a sister from a convent in Wilno of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Not much note was taken of this event at the time.

This new icon of Jesus with the luminous rays of red and white coming forth from his side was destined to become much more widely known than Wilno's/Vilnius's Ostrobramska, the Gate of Dawn, the Mother of Mercy. For it was an icon of him who is "the Divine Mercy," painted by Eugene Kazimierowski according to the precise directions of the sister whom we now honor as Saint Faustina Kowalska. The Mass was offered by her spiritual director, Blessed Michal Sopocko, who guided Saint Faustina in the following and the written expression of her singular, extraordinary charism, and who later himself became its faithful promoter.

It was the Mass of the Octave of Easter, which today is known as "Divine Mercy Sunday." And today, in the city of Vilnius in the small but independent country of Lithuania, the original image painted by Kazimierowski has been restored. It is the model for all the essential elements of the many stylistically varied icons of the Divine Mercy, through which the merciful Jesus is presented throughout the world.

The Mother of Mercy leads us to... Mercy. That's what Mary's Queenship is all about.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Wisdom of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux


Bernard lived from 1090-1153. This energetic monastic reformer, theologian, advisor to popes and kings, prolific writer, contemplative, witness to the love of God, and Doctor of the Church is one of the giants of early medieval history. The first half of the 12th century saw the continuation of movements of ecclesiastical renewal as well as the growth of new and complex problems that had emerged in the Second Millennium after the birth of Jesus. While Christians from the West held the Holy Land for the first time, the breach between Eastern and Western Christendom continued to widen. Meanwhile the first sparks of rationalism flashed through the minds of European philosophers (e.g. Abelard) as Aristotle and other Greek philosophers were "rediscovered" through Arabic sources.

Amidst the many affairs of Church and society in his days, Bernard stood larger than anyone else because of his holiness, wisdom, and fairness. But more important than any of these things, he was a monk of Clairvaux, dedicated to prayer, lectio divina, labor according to the primitive ideal of Saint Benedict, and above all caritas, the love that God empowers us to have for Him because He has loved us first. Bernard represents the golden age of the Cistercian reform, and for me personally - nine centuries later - he evokes memories especially of my many visits over the years to the monastery "down the Valley" in Berryville, Virginia. Like the brightness of the "sparse" spaces in the Abbey church on a sunny morning, he "lights up" Cistercian simplicity with the ardor and warmth of Christ's incarnate love.

Here are some quotations from the Saint Bernard:

"For when God loves, all He desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of His love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love Him are made happy by their love of Him."

"He who will not submit to God’s sweet rule shall suffer the bitter tyranny of self; but he who wears the easy yoke and light burden of love will escape the intolerable weight of his own self-will."

If human beings could become "masters of all in heaven and on earth, they would soon find all insufficient, and discover that they were forced to seek Him who is wanting still. They must seek God Himself... the soul must cry out...'What besides Thee have I in heaven, and besides Thee what do I desire upon earth?'"

“If we wish to have Christ for a guest often, we must keep our hearts fortified by the testimony of our faith in the mercy of him who died for us, and in the power of him who rose from the dead... Christ died for our sins and rose again from the dead for our justification. He ascended to heaven for our protection, sent the Spirit for our consolation, and will someday return for our fulfillment.”

"In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps.... While she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal."

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

How Can We Be Inspired By "Good Example" in Strange Times?

Ideas, by themselves, are not enough to change our humanity.

We really learn how to be different and more profound human beings when we encounter other human persons who are already living this difference, right before our eyes.

What I'm referring to here, generally speaking, is the importance of "good example" in the development of human life. I want to suggest, from an interpersonal and relational perspective, some aspects of how we grow through the good example of others.

Of course, we should note that "bad example" subverts our humanity by hijacking the dynamic of interpersonal relationships under false pretenses, distracting and manipulating it in distorted ways that violate and enslave the human person. As is usually the case with evils, the decadence and corruption of persons through "bad example" and toxic pseudo-relationships require a more complex treatment, even if we're only trying to outline their dynamics in broad terms. I will address these problems in another post. In this post, however, I want to focus on the good example of persons and the ways it can "reach" us.

We need examples of people who live rightly and well, but also (and this is important) such people will have an impact on us to the degree that their actions move us and engage our lives in a concrete way.

The full measure of human engagement, of course, calls for humans to be present to one another in time and proximity, in the immediate physicality of literal "elbow-to-elbow" companionship that characterizes the sharing of deep friendship, healthy family life, and the local "togetherness" of community. Even here, there are different degrees and different ways of this kind of concrete sharing of life.

Moreover, external proximity to a beautiful and inspiring person is not enough; in order to learn from them and grow from their example, we need to see them with our hearts. We need to be awakened and drawn by their remarkable actions, and by the "resonance" of their goodness with the fundamental needs and questions of our own humanity, so as to enter into the more profound and convincing perception of reality they possess, from which they draw motivation.

Ordinary circumstances provide the paradigm for the environment in which these constructive encounters can (and should) take place. The immediate, physical conditions of human life are foundational and irreplaceable for full, healthy human relationships. But we can still encounter human persons, be engaged by them, and be moved and changed by the goodness and beauty of their lives even when they are not "with us" directly, or even if we have never "met them" in a proximate physical way. Humans engage one another through communication, and real communication is one of the ways that the impact of a human life can be "extended" beyond their immediate place and even down through the generations who come after them.

People who lived hundreds, thousands of years ago can still touch us profoundly through communication: that is, through their words or other modes of expressing themselves, and by the fruits of their actions that continue to shape history. We also "meet" them through stories of their lives that are rooted in what has been handed down about who they were and how they lived.

In these current days, our ordinary circumstances have been shaken up in so many unexpected and unpredictable ways, and we have been thrust into awkward and peculiar situations and strained experiences of both proximity and distance from one another. Old and new forms of communications media (from reading classic books to ZOOM) have been both a source of sustenance and a context for frustration as we try to find provisional ways to stay connected, navigate "spaces," and find a healthy solitude that is not swallowed by loneliness or anxiety.

Whatever restrictions we face, and whatever means are available to us, we can grow by encountering the good example of others. Communications media can help us "meet" one another, in normal circumstances and in times of crisis, if we stay faithful to our own humanity as our hearts reveal it to us, and if we remember the real person who is at the origin of every kind of expression in every form of media.

Giving good example, and following good example, are always necessary, but we can and will find ways to help one another even in the midst of the greatest trials.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

"You Are Worth SO Much More"

This is a "verbal hug" from Christina Grimmie. She posted this on her Facebook page eight years ago.๐Ÿ’š 

The words, and the love behind them, are still on her page, offered to anyone who needs them.

Christina proved, again and again, and with her whole life, that when she said "anyone" she really meant ANYONE - the particular person in need, the person reading this post, or seeing her videos, but especially the person in front of her in the particular moment.

She always had sincere words, posts, jokes, songs, or hugs - whatever she could give in the circumstances - for persons who needed to be welcomed, to experience their value, to know that they were loved. That's part of the reason why she still speaks so powerfully even today.

She still "reaches" people, with love.๐Ÿ’š

Friday, August 14, 2020

Love "Stretches Out a Hand" To All

Maximilian Kolbe offered to take the place of another prisoner designated for reprisal execution in Auschwitz concentration camp.

He gave his life on August 14, 1941, as a witness to the Love that is greater than the most hideous violence, the Love that redeems and saves the world.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Unassuming Heroism of Hong Kong's Agnes Chow

Agnes Chow Ting: on a regular day (left); and on the morning of August 10, when police arrested her at her family's home (right).

Earlier this week, the People's Republic of China's enormous Communist Party moved the forces of its unfettered power against someone it perceives to be a threat to the "security" of a nation of one and a half billion people. This dangerous secessionist revolutionary, plotter with foreign enemies, and instigator of disruption between Hong Kong and the Motherland is "disguised" as a university student barely beyond her girlhood years. She "seems" like an "ordinary kid" who would rather be reading, watching Japanese cartoons, studying, swimming, playing her flute, or spending time with her friends.

The Party, however, knows better. Thus a special police unit arrested 23-year-old Agnes Chow Ting on August 10th, implementing the procedures of the infamous new 'National Security Law.' She has since been released on bail, and it's not clear whether any charges have been filed against her... yet.

Agnes Chow is a danger to China's "national security"? Really?

It must be said that while Agnes may be young and soft spoken, she is very articulate about her convictions. She cannot be silent in front of the CCP's efforts to swallow Hong Kong and erase its identity and civil liberties. But it is "dangerous" indeed, in today's Hong Kong, to disagree with the ideas and plans of the Communist Party in Beijing and the local forces it controls. It is especially dangerous to attempt to communicate your objections to people in other countries that have relations with China - countries that acknowledge the very peculiar arrangement of Hong Kong's "special autonomy" under the provision of One-Country-Two-Systems; countries whose people expect a bare minimum of respect for civilized society within the States that participate in the community of nations (or at least a plausible veneer of respect that - hopefully - puts some limits on violent, unaccountable oppression of persons by their own governments).

It is dangerous, in today's Hong Kong, for an "ordinary kid" to cry out for justice, or even for decency, courtesy, humanity....

Agnes Chow Ting is variously referred to as "Agnes Chow," with the stress on her "Anglo" first name (which for her is also her Catholic baptismal name) or "Agnes Chow Ting," which includes her Chinese given name "Ting" (meaning 'slim' or 'graceful'), or "Zhou Ting" which is the modern Chinese transliteration of her Chinese name, with the family name first as is customary.

[NOTE: Hong Kong's democracy moment is pluralist and "secular," of course, which doesn't preclude the fact that some of its participants (including Agnes Chow) are inspired by their Christian faith. While I discuss many secular events in this blog, my own Catholic Christianity is "in plain sight" and (I hope and pray) always informing and focusing my attention on the whole of reality in all its factors, even in articles that don't explicitly make reference to God, Jesus Christ, or the Church. 

In this piece I will make references to faith, not in order to advocate theocracy (I don't), but because I am looking at a human person who is a Catholic. Agnes Chow acknowledges her faith but doesn't emphasize it in her political activism. The Hong Kong Movement includes a wide variety of people from different religious or non-religious backgrounds, and in any case "flying a Catholic flag" would not help her cause or the Church in present circumstances. I don't know how strong or thoroughly catechized her faith is, or any particulars about her journey in following Jesus Christ, but she is an impressive and brave human being and I'm inclined to presume that her faith is foundational and vital, even if I don't know how "coherent" it is for her. 

And my readers won't be surprized that I am jazzed by the fact that her baptismal name is "Agnes"!๐Ÿ˜‰ It's a good name, and it establishes a connection in the "Communion of Saints" with a singularly courageous girl from 1700 years ago. I also have an "Agnes" - my daughter Agnese Janaro - who is nearly 22 years old, which is if nothing else a constant reminder for me of the "youth" factor in this Hong Kong movement. From what I know, I could easily imagine my daughter and Agnes Chow being friends. In any case, I'm going to refer to Agnes Chow Ting as "Agnes," not because of my "Western cultural bias" but because it is the most immediate human and personal connection I have with her in that great, transcendent and also totally real "family" that is Christ's Church.]

Agnes Chow was an unlikely political activist. Her appearance as an "ordinary kid" is no disguise; she really was an ordinary kid (and continues to be an ordinary young woman). Nothing marks her out as "revolutionary" by temperament or inclination.

She was a shy kid who was (and still is) close to her family, who worked hard in school but wasn't noted as being "extraordinary." She didn't have lots of friends, and felt awkward about herself in early adolescence. She never dreamed of doing anything like public speaking. She liked to swim. She played in the school orchestra. She had a lively imagination, and was fascinated (as are kids today all over the world) by the wide variety of Japanese animated stories that are classified under the genre of "Anime." (In a future post, I need to write about the world of "Anime," and the diverse and sometimes intense themes it deals with: from nihilism and bizarre criminality to the search for deeper identity and moral conviction.) But on all these points, Agnes Chow came across as a nice 21st century high school girl from a good home with a loving family, who was struggling with all the normal problems of growing up.

At the age of 15, the last thing on her mind was politics. But then she saw pictures on Facebook of high school students publically protesting the attempt by the mainland to impose a "moral and patriotic education" program in their schools. Here were other kids her age, marching in the streets. They argued that the "patriotic education program" was really a program of Chinese Communist PartyState brainwashing and propaganda. Agnes researched it for herself on the internet, and it didn't take her long to find that she agreed with their judgment.

Sometimes young people can "smell a rat" in situations where the adults are fumbling around with their noses plugged by understandable adult preoccupations like "I want to keep my job" or "we need to keep this school open" or "we can make this program 'work' by stressing the good stuff and ignoring the rat as much as possible" or (a very real and anxious preoccupation, especially for educators) "we need to keep the donors happy" (alas, kids, be merciful to your elders - someday you will understand that even great ideals are not realized in this world without money, and you must struggle with all of money's power and complexity and the compromises it demands; though you don't need to sacrifice your integrity for money, you will be tempted and you will make mistakes, and you will need to pray as you spend more time and energy than you ever imagined in this perpetual wrestling match with the necessities and dangers of money).

It must be said, a significant group of teachers were pretty quick to call "B.S." in this case. This was a large, stinky rat. Still, the students smelled it first. And they didn't just argue against it. They made a student "strike," and gathered by the thousands outside the government offices and held a continual demonstration. Agnes Chow's internet searching eventually landed her on the website of a high school student group called "Scholarism." She decided to volunteer to help.

Her conviction and commitment moved her forward. At first she was afraid of practically everything that was "public," even handing out flyers. But, as she later remarked, she realized that "You must overcome your fear, and do it" and this, in turn, "makes [you] more and more brave to try the next step." Soon, the shy 15-year-old girl was introducing other speakers, then participating in press conferences and giving her own public speeches. She became one of the faces and voices of the Scholarism group, often appearing next to the brilliant, intense boy with black glasses who was its leader: Joshua Wong. They made much more "noise" than the PartyState had expected or wanted, and so the government withdrew the mandate for the program.

It was a victory for education, for truth... and it was won by the kids.

No, their parents didn't put them up to it. Agnes's parents have worried a lot about her (and I don't blame them). They are not political activists. They are devout Catholics, and they raised their daughter to care about justice, the common good, and helping those in need. They taught her not to live by lies.

That's enough to turn your kid into a radical in today's Hong Kong.

Agnes continued to work with Joshua Wong, Ivan Lam, Nathan Law, and other Hong Kong young people during the "Umbrella Revolution" protests of 2014, and she co-founded a political group called Demosisto. She ran for the Legislative Council, but was disqualified by election officers because of Demosisto's position that Hong Kong people have a right to "self-determination." Then she traveled to educate others about Hong Kong, and gained supporters especially in Japan (Agnes speaks Yue Chinese [i.e. "Cantonese," the distinctive speech of southern China, very different from the now-standardized Mandarin originating in the northeast], Mandarin Chinese also [I assume], English, Japanese, and Korean).

Now she's been arrested, and may well be rearrested once some remotely plausible "charges" against her can be invented. They want to make her disappear. Indeed, they are right to consider her a threat... not to "the people," but to themselves. Agnes Chow is a talented, dedicated, courageous young woman who is speaking truth to power.

Dear blog readers, you know me. If great events are in the making, I always want to know "who is the heroine in this story?" Inevitably there is at least one, and usually there are many. Certainly "heroes" - i.e. heroic men - interest me very much, but I still find that I'm drawn in a particular way to the heroic women of history.

I'm not sure why.

Maybe it's because they're underestimated and their significance is too often underappreciated. Maybe it's because they're particularly eloquent about the impact of historical events on their personal interiority. They illuminate the personal dimension of history, articulating through their own experience how events involve the drama of persons, relationships, families, and communities.

Maybe it's because I was raised by a heroic woman, I married a heroic woman, and I have four daughters (and now a daughter-in-law) who are heroines-in-the-making (each in their own way). They have already proven to be quite tenacious and impressive in their own aspirations and achievements.

Now let me be clear; I am not "expecting" giant-sized accomplishments or imposing preconceived notions of greatness on anyone: I'm not pushing my girls to climb Mount Everest or fly a spaceship or become President - if they want to, that's fine, but what matters (for women and men) is to be faithful to one's vocation, to seek God's will, to worship Him, adhere to Him, and find one's fulfillment in Him.

This usually involves the hidden, apparently ordinary fidelity in daily life that forms the foundation of the specifically (and uniquely) Christian heroism called sanctity. We are all called to become saints, by the grace of the Spirit, following Jesus, loving God and our neighbor. Sometimes we are also called to take on outwardly heroic roles on different levels of historical action.

And although Hong Kong undoubtedly needs saints (and they may have some new martyrs before this ends), our discussion of the drama of Hong Kong right now primarily concerns terrestrial affairs. The greatness we mark as beginning to emerge here is temporal, political, and social. It is also incipient. It is still mostly in the realm of aspirations, initial efforts, possibilities, and the willingness to take big risks. It is not without flaws and pitfalls, and it needs much clarification and purification. It calls for not only courage, but also wisdom, patience, flexibility, and more than a little luck. Here I suppose the old adage could be applied: "Some are born for greatness, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."

One of the signs that a social movement is driven by genuine, healthy, sincere aspirations for human dignity and freedom (as opposed to "tribalism," ideology, the lust for power, or the seeking of revenge) is the degree to which it finds itself being carried along by "unlikely" heroes and heroines. There may be gifted leaders and visionary thinkers in such movements, of course, but it's reassuring to find at the heart of it all that there are many people who are shaping events - great events - simply as a consequence of their decision to do the right thing. They make a commitment to something that they recognize to be good, they stick with it, and then - often without even realizing it - their own stature grows.

One of the reasons I hold real hopes that something good will come from the Hong Kong Revolution is that it involves so many people who are just trying to do the right thing. They are not troublemakers, thugs, egoists, or ideologues who want to change the foundations of reality or engineer a new kind of human being. They just want respect for basic human dignity, for themselves and for everyone in their society.

This is a "revolution" that was literally started by high school kids... and not primarily the rebellious, psychologically traumatized kids, but precisely the "good kids." They have everything to gain in terms of wealth, social status, and opportunities for themselves by playing along with (or at least ignoring) the emerging system that is taking over Hong Kong. But they refuse to play along with the system. They have been challenging the system for eight years, and are now putting their young lives in iminent danger. And there is clearly only one reason why they continue to do this.

They know that this emerging Communist PartyState-dominated system is wrong. What it's trying to do to their people is wrong.

In the end, the young people of Hong Kong may have to endure the system's oppression, but right now, they have a chance to make a difference. They have a chance to take a stand that will write an indellible chapter in the history of their people. These are the circumstances that shape the history of a people, even if - at the time, for all we can see - their protagonists "fail" to attain an immediately quantifiable objective.

Ordinary people will make sacrifices and take risks in order to sow seeds that will bear fruit in time.

This is the hope of Agnes Chow Ting. She hopes for "the dawn" that will come after a long long night. She expressed this in poetic form on Instagram during last Summer's protests:

A very rough English translation conveys something of the sense of her words:

"In this city where bullets fly, 
how extravagant is a smile.
The breeze smelled like tear gas,
blowing the untied hair frizzy and curly, 
and the neatly combed bangs became messy. 
Holding the black helmet recently picked up on the street, 
with a gas mask around the neck, 
putting the eye mask on the forehead temporarily, 
preparing for an unknown nightmare. 
We have been looking forward to the coming of the morning dawn. 
Look, the orange sun illuminates our faces in beautiful and warm colors.  
It is not dazzling; we can remove the helmet 
and look at the beautiful morning light with hope. 
In this city where bullets fly, 
I hope we can continue to remember the warmth of the dawn."

When I read this, I wrote her a message of support. But I wanted to support more than just the political struggle. I wanted to reach out to her as a person, and help her to remember what makes these efforts (and everything else) ultimately worthwhile:
"Agnes Chow, your reflections move me deeply. You are so young for so much suffering (my children are your age), but God will lead you.
"Your patron Saint Agnes was a girl who stood up against the power of Ancient Rome, and Jesus gave her strength to be faithful to the end. Today the people in Rome still love her. She will help you too, and all the brave girl saints of history (think of Joan of Arc), and the beautiful Chinese martyrs.
"I know we never feel as brave as these saints and heroes, but they are here for us. They understand you and all your fears and they will help you to be the person God wants you to be in the place He has given to you: your beloved Hong Kong, the terrible evils you face, your own struggles, your friends’ needs.
"Jesus will never abandon you. He is always there to give you the strength you need and to forgive you, so that you need not condemn yourself. Go to Him with everything.
"Pray. This is the revolution.
"We are praying with you and for you. I pray for Hong Kong, but not only for that, but for you as a person. Jesus has placed you in this movement for freedom, and He wills that it will have enduring value (even if you don’t “win”) - but He loves you first for yourself, always, whatever may come, whatever your own failures too.
"He loves you. Trust in Him for everything!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Christina Grimmie's Embrace of Life

Once again I have taken time to remember Christina Grimmie, after four years and two months. It's fitting, because — as I have said before  she too has "become family" to us. I know she shares our joy in this past weekend.

This picture is titled, simply, The Hug.

I put care and the use of many tools and techniques into this unusual piece of digital artwork (based originally on a photo found long ago — credit to owner — I think it was in the Philippines). Perhaps it's not very accessible. I don't know if it expresses everything I wanted, but it catches something.

Christina was the one who said she felt "like a mother" to all her frands, and that each of us had been entrusted to her by God for a special reason. She probably had the teenagers in mind, of course... but she didn't put limits on God's will, or preconditions to her welcoming embrace of all those God sent to her.

I have come to realize the extensive, vast, encouraging strength of the heart that was the source of so many hugs like this, and I too have been welcomed and affirmed (mysteriously) in this great embrace.

Monday, August 10, 2020

"Full Meaning and Firm Hope"

"The center of existence, what gives full meaning and firm hope to our often difficult journey, is faith in Jesus, is our encounter with Christ. This does not mean following an idea, a project, but encountering Him as a living Person, to be fully involved by Him and His Gospel" (Benedict XVI).

Sunday, August 9, 2020

John Paul and Emily are MARRIED!

Here are a few pictures from yesterday's happy day (I didn't take many, since there were real photographers on hand for that).

The wedding went as well as anything could go in this crazy year. Requirements, recommendations, modifications, etc. in both the State of Virginia and the Diocese of Arlington are sufficiently "open" at this time that we were able to have a nice gathering for the ceremony and a reception too. It's still an unpredictable world, but Virginia has been better off than many other places, and God willing it'll stay that way and other places will improve. As for the world, it never has "guaranteed" anything regarding easy circumstances and it never will. The joy of this day was a gift for which we are deeply grateful.

We continue to pray and do our best and trust in God's goodness moving forward.

But I have so many impressions and thoughts that I still have to sort through and ponder before writing more about this day. So for now we'll stick to pictures. First of all, I'm so happy to present Mr and Mrs John Paul and Emily Janaro:

Here are John Paul and his four sisters (they have all "grown up" on this blog, but just in case you haven't seen them lately, they are - from the left - Lucia, Teresa, Josefina, and Agnese):

And here is the most recent, up-to-date, and complete picture of the Janaro family:

We haven't had many chances to "dress up" in 2020. My role as "Father of the Groom" was relatively easy. In any case, I rose to the challenge... of putting on a suit!๐Ÿ˜‰ Well, in any case, I found an excuse to take some goofy selfies:

Meanwhile, Eileen looked stunning. I sneeked a picture of her and John Paul during the "Mother-Son dance" at the reception. I'm so blessed to have such a great lady for my wife, and I pray that John Paul and Emily will have as much joy as we have known in these years, and that they will be blessed with children as great as the ones God gave us!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

"Lord, It Is Good For Us To Be Here"

August 6: The Transfiguration.

Here is a selection from a sermon of the great twentieth century Russian Orthodox priest and theologian Father Alexander Schmemann. This exhortation, drawn from the richness of the Russian spiritual tradition, draws on the mystical depth of the Gospel that shines as the 'hidden light' of East and West.

"Jesus knows that in the hour of his ultimate sacrifice, ultimate self-giving, everyone will flee in fear and forsake him. But right now — so that afterwards, when everything is finished, the world would still have some evidence of where He is inviting people to come, what He is offering us as a gift, as life, as the fullness of meaning and joy — now, therefore, hidden from the world and from the people, He reveals to three of his own disciples that glory, that light, that victorious celebration to which man is called from eternity.

"The divine light, permeating the entire world. The divine light, transfiguring man. The divine light in which everything acquires its ultimate and eternal meaning. 'It is good for us to be here,' cried the apostle Peter seeing this light and this glory. And from that time, Christianity, the Church, faith is one continuous, joyful repetition of this 'it is good for us to be here.' But faith is also a plea for the everlasting light, a thirst for this illumination and transfiguration. This light continues to shine, through the darkness and evil, through the drab grayness and dull routine of this world, like a ray of sun piercing through the clouds. It is recognized by the soul, it comforts the heart, it makes us feel alive, and it transfigures us from within.

"'Lord! It is good for us to be here!' If only these words might become ours, if only they might become our soul’s answer to the gift of divine light, if only our prayer might become the prayer for transfiguration, for the victory of light! 'Let your everlasting light shine also upon us sinners!'"

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

This is Actually Happening!

I may not be posting much content on the blog in the coming days because there's this... ummm... WEDDING that is... really happening. Earlier, I posted this on Facebook:

Of course, my wife and the girls are busy, busy, busy. As "Father of the Groom," however, not much is required of me in the ceremonial stuff. It still feels weird because... well, it's 2020, haha... but also, a wedding is like "Didn't we just do this fairly recently, not long ago?"

Oh yeah, that was our wedding.๐Ÿ˜ฎ (That was 24 years ago? Really!?)

Don't worry. There will be pictures eventually. Right now, all I gotta do is find some pants to wear.๐Ÿ˜‰

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Guitar Poetry: The "Sound" of Three Centuries Ago

Recently I was doing some research that led me to dip into a bit of seventeenth century English poetry (and, as you might imagine, it doesn't take much to "lead" me into such explorations). I happened upon Crashaw's delightful poem "Music's Duel," which relates a contest of tonal virtuosity between a lute player and a bird.

It's a vivid poem, for a variety of ways in which it gives verbal description not only to the sounds of music but also the gestures of the musician. I took particular note of the Caroline era guitarist, who clearly possessed both passion and considerable skill. 

Though arthritis has slowed me down quite a bit, the youthful version of myself (as depicted above, about forty years ago) might have been up for a similar challenge. He probably would have at least fancied himself up for it.

One thing the excerpt from this poem below makes clear: in the 1600s those dudes could play! My man "the Lute Master" ROCKED.


Excerpt from "Music's Duel"

[The Lute's Master "awakes his lute'"]

...his hands sprightly as fire, he flings
And with a quavering coyness tasks the strings.
The sweet-lip't sisters, musically frighted,
Singing their fears, are fearfully delighted...

The humourous strings expound his learnรจd touch,
By various glosses; now they seem to grutch,
And murmur in a buzzing dinne, then jingle
In shrill-tongu'd accents, striving to be single.
Every smooth turn, every delicious stroke
Gives life to some new grace; thus doth he invoke
Sweetness by all her names; thus, bravely thus
(Fraught with a fury so harmonious)
The lute's light genius now does proudly rise,
Heaved on the surges of swollen rapsodies,
Whose flourish (meteor-like) doth curl the air
With flash of high-borne fancies: here and there
Dancing in lofty measures, and anon
Creeps on the soft touch of a tender tone;
Whose trembling murmurs melting in wild aires
Runs to and fro, complaining his sweet cares...

~Richard Crashaw (1646)