Friday, March 27, 2009


I have an old Rosary that used to belong to my dad. It breaks a lot. I love praying with it, but even last night as I took it to bed, somehow one of the hoops pulled free and I had to set it aside until the morning when I could get out my needle-nose pliers to fix it.

I also have an Orthodox prayer rope that, as I requested it to be made, has beads between every ten knots - a 50-knot prayer rope that also serves nicely as a Rosary (without the introductory beads). I use it to pray the Rosary or the Jesus Prayer or any prayer, such as lectio, where I repeat the prayer. I hesitate to say "count" because it's not counting so much as tracking where I am, especially with a devotion such as the Rosary.

Anyway, all that information to say that I use the prayer rope most of the time - it's what it is with me now, and since it's knotted wool, it's sturdy as I'd like. My question is, do they make Rosaries that are of sterner stuff? I'm looking for something I can carry about with me 24/7, but has more the feel of a Rosary. Quite honestly, I'm perfectly content with my Orthodox prayer rope, retrofitted for my Marian devotion. But I do like the way the Rosary hangs upon my fingers. Sometimes I simply prefer the heft of it. Any suggestions?

Churchy Stuff

Life is full. I miss blogging, but I often feel as if I don't have the time unless I steal it from another place. I feel as if I'm taking something from my family when I walk up the stairs to my little half-storey office and sit down at the computer. At least when I watch TV, I watch it with others - perhaps we're only a group of isolated people in front of the TV, but it still feels more communal to me than the computer. Presence is important. Being present is not everything, but it is something more than absence.

That being said, I woke early this morning and would like to share a few items.

Cate was baptized, in a somewhat private affair, on February 28. The other children were baptized quite publicly, during Sunday Mass, but this was a quiet affair on a Saturday morning. It was lovely, as are all baptisms. And tears, though not shed, were heavy in my eyes. As I get older, I get weepier - rather, I am more easily brought to tears. All the same, sacraments and tears seem ready companions, for how can one be brought into the presence of such grace, the presence of God, without tears? It is at such times that joy or sorrow or repentance or comfort or peace swells into salty sacramentals. Glory to Jesus Christ!

Anna will be receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation (Conversion, Confession, Forgiveness, Penance) tomorrow morning. The children will be singing two songs and doing some readings and meditations before going before Christ to receive peace and pardon. It is a wonderful introduction to their life in Christ, and a sacrament that needs a better exemplar in their father. I hope to make Penance a more regularly sought grace in my own life. This sacrament is too often misunderstood by me, too often pushed away. I imagine because I need it so desperately.

We went to a St. Patrick's Day feast at our parish last weekend (Guinness stew - yum!) and simply had a ball. The kids did some Irish dancing, and I can't remember the last time all of us had so much fun. I was flushed with joy, drunk. During one of their dances, Fr. Al got up and was swinging from partner to partner by his elbow and when he got to Will, the raccoon couldn't do it - the thought of dancing with Father sent him into hysterics. What joy! What fun! It's good being Catholic. It reminded me of the Simpsons clip, if I can be so irreverent, of Homer and Bart's conversion to Catholicism and Marge's vision of heaven - of what Catholic heaven is like. What a great memory (the dinner); what wonderful fellowship.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Brideshead, Revisited

This week I finished the BBC miniseries (1981?) Brideshead Revisited and was thankful for the recommendations to watch it. It's amazingly faithful to the novel and brought home the genius of Waugh again to me. And it made me further think about the differences between Waugh and Hollywood's Brideshead. The difference, it seems to me, is one that orbits about the idea of romance. You see, Brideshead Revisited is a romance, but of an entirely undecipherable kind to Hollywood - it is a love story in which Julia chooses God over Charles. It is a love story that rightly portrays God as one who refuses to lose Julia or Sebastian and Lord Marchmain, or even dear Charles Ryder. And, pitiably, all Hollywood can achieve is to try to portray a cold religion that interrupts and ruins and makes miserable the love between Julia and Charles. But Waugh's love story is vertical. (And it oddly reminds me of the ending of C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces.) It is the burning flame near the tabernacle within the chapel at Brideshead that consumes the vanity of Hollywood's version, that burns quiet and faithful until all our vanities are consumed - until we burn as it burns.