Friday, November 28, 2008

Pied Beauty - my last 24 hours

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things -
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced - fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

1 John 4

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.

He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit.

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us. If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Heart North Carolina

Roses blooming in mid-November. Winter skies blue, lovely blue throughout. Sunshine. These are the days - fall days, winter days, spring days - that make me love this place. It's the heat of summer that I find difficult as a Michigan expatriate. Not that it never got as hot in Michigan, because it did and it does. But it's the quantity. Like how winter in Michigan seems to linger about two or three months too long, like an unwelcome guest who ignores your polite mention to your spouse about how tired you are, and fills up another plate with hors d'oeuvres. Michigan, where you grow up wondering why the groundhog's seeing his shadow isn't good news. That's what summer is like in North Carolina. I never thought I'd think such thoughts about summer, but there it is in black and white.

But that's not where I am. I'm in November. And for me, in the South, November is the second month of wonderful.

Wish you were here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Peace and Love, Man


And, and, and let me add, Stephen Colbert was on Fresh Air with Terry Gross today. You can hear that interview here. Or, rather, there. And on Sunday, the 23rd, A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest of All will air at 10 p.m. on the Comedy Channel.

Time on the Machine

If anyone wants to send me a laptop, I'd be grateful. It's too hard to get time upstairs in the office on the desktop machine. Too hard. Not enough time. The kids simply won't permit it, and I, in obedience, must listen to them. So I'm thinking about a 13" MacBook, titanium uni-body. Nothing fancy. Just let me know when you have it, and I'll send you my address. I'll even pony up and pay for shipping. That's a mighty tempting offer, eh? Think about it. (I'll even promise not to talk about politics here anymore. Huh? Huh?)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Psalm 84

How lovely is thy dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at thy altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in thy house, ever singing thy praise! [Selah]

Blessed are the men whose strength is in thee, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion. O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! [Selah]

Behold our shield, O God; look upon the face of thine anointed! For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in thee!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that
free republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

HT: The Ochlophobist

Diocese of Charleston on Fr Newman's Comments

Statement of Monsignor Martin T. Laughlin
Administrator of the Diocese of Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. (November 14, 2008) - This past week, the Catholic Church’s clear, moral teaching on the evil of abortion has been pulled into the partisan political arena. The recent comments of Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville, S.C., have diverted the focus from the Church’s clear position against abortion. As Administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, let me state with clarity that Father Newman’s statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church’s teachings. Any comments or statements to the contrary are repudiated.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions.” The Catechism goes on to state: “In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.”

Christ gives us freedom to explore our own conscience and to make our own decisions while adhering to the law of God and the teachings of the faith. Therefore, if a person has formed his or her conscience well, he or she should not be denied Communion, nor be told to go to confession before receiving Communion.

The pulpit is reserved for the Word of God. Sometimes God’s truth, as is the Church’s teaching on abortion, is unpopular. All Catholics must be aware of and follow the teachings of the Church.

We should all come together to support the President-elect and all elected officials with a view to influencing policy in favor of the protection of the unborn child. Let us pray for them and ask God to guide them as they take the mantle of leadership on January 20, 2009.

I ask also for your continued prayers for me and for the Diocese of Charleston.

Thanks be to God.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No Communion for Obama Supporters

This statement by Fr Newman angers me on a number of levels. Perhaps as Catholics we need to hang up our citizenship altogether, because there is not a guiltless place to lay one's head on the political landscape. If one must do penance after voting for Obama, then one must do penance after voting for McCain. Perhaps one ought to do penance for voting for George W. Bush who bloodied our hands in an unjust war and taught us how to justify torture. Perhaps one ought to do penance for voting for Bush Sr., since after Clinton took office the number of abortions dropped by nearly half a million from where it had previously stood. I swear, how we love to bully and sway until those around us cower, delighted.

I thank God for those bishops willing to lovingly rebuke Catholic politicians who are ignorant of the Church's teaching on abortion. Where are the bishops in the Church who are willing to stand up against this kind of behavior, which plays at holiness but forgets charity? It's just more Turkish Delight.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Psalm 15

O LORD, who shall sojourn in thy tent?
Who shall dwell on thy holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right,
and speaks truth from his heart;
Who does not slander with his tongue,
and does no evil to his friend,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,
but who honors those who fear the LORD;
Who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
Who does not put out his money at interest,
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Psalm 131

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up,
My eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a child quieted at its mother's breast;
Like a child that is quieted is my soul.
O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Psalm 150

Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
Praise him in his mighty firmament!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
Praise him according to his exceeding greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
Praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with timbrel and dance;
Praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
Praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Better to Say Nothing

Catholics make me want to weep. Our unity should not simply be a unity formed around Rome, but around Christ - a unity born out of and supported by our love for one another. Nourished by Christ's very life. But all I read and hear is anger and judgment. Condemnation. Why? Because of a leader of a country that is not ours? Because a sister votes differently than her brother? Is this unity? Charity? If unity is so fragile, to hell with it. If love is so fickle, then do not waste it on me. Sound and fury. We would be wise to be silent.

Christ is our hope, Christ is our hope, we cry. Christ is our hope. But we do not believe it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Time to Gather

It is time to vote. Remember that how you vote has less bearing on the course of events than you believe it does. And that your prayers have more. Remember that whomever is elected, we will be all right. Remember that our hope is in Christ. Remember that we are brothers and sisters. You and I have been given our freedom, dignity and responsibility by God. We are answerable for how we use these gifts. So we become informed citizens with Christ-formed consciences, we pray, and we do the best we can. Nothing more or less. Make sure you love your neighbor as you vote and as the returns roll in. Bless, do not curse. Remember that God is love. As much as it is up to you, live in peace with all people. Pray for our peace. Pray for the Church. Pray for our leaders, spiritual and political. Sit in silence and pray. Do not judge. Love one another. Be not afraid.