October 25, 2003

October Poem--Shakespeare--Full Fathom Five

From my favorite Shakespeare play

from The Tempest
Ariel's Song
William Shakespeare

Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands:
Curtsied when you have, and kiss'd
The wild waves whist,
Foot it featly here and there;
And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear.
Hark, hark!
The watch-dogs bark.
Hark, hark! I hear
The strain of strutting chanticleer
Cry, Cock-a-diddle-dow.

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them—Ding-dong, bell.

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October 24, 2003

Marvelous Prayer Advice and Guidance

To be found in The Golden Grove of Jeremy Taylor.

3. Never let any one think it an excuse to lie in bed, because he hath nothing to do when he is up: for whoever hath a Soul, and hopes to save that Soul, hath work enough to do to make his calling and election sure, to serve God, and to pray, to reade, and to meditate, to repent and to amend, to do good to others, and to keep evil from themselves. And if thou hast little to do, thou ought'st to imploy the more time in laying up for a greater Crown of Glory.

4. At your opening your eyes, enter upon the day with some act of piety.

1. Of thanksgiving for the preservation of you the night past.

2. Of the glorification of God for the works of the Creation, or any thing for the honour of God.

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From the Orthodox Church

Story Attributed to Bishop Ignatius Byranchaninov

A brother once sorrowfully asked Sisoes the Great: "Father, what can I do? I have fallen into sin." The Staretz answered him: "Rise again." The brother said: "I rose up and fell." The Staretz answered: "Rise again." The brother answered:"How often mt I fall and rise up?" The Staretz said: "Until your death."

We often give much thought to our failures. We are desolated by them--torn apart, destroyed. But falling is part of the human condition. The Great Saints fell, though compared to us their falling is like a misstep over irregular pavement. The fact of the matter is that this will be our experience. If we think into the future it can lead to despair. But all we need to attend to is this moment--right now. The future does not exist and so it is time to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and move forward to stumble again--knowing that each time Jesus will be there to help us. Rather than a source of despair, each stumble becomes a chance to learn and to love Christ more for His infinite patience. When we look upon that patient and loving face, becoming more and more in love with Him, we are looking upon the face of the Father who loves us. So, let's all get up and move forward knowing that stumbling will occur--we are but infants--but we must not be discouraged by the feebleness of our efforts, but encouraged by the love of God the Father who cherishes each of us as though we were His only child.

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For Father Keyes--October Poem--John Donne--Resurrection

One of a sequence of seven poems, respectfully dedicated to Fr. Keyes and to all Missionaries of the Precious Blood in a belated tribute to their Founder St. Gaspar del Bufalo (October 21) and in honor of Father Keyes's upcoming anniversary of Ordination (Sunday, October 26--12th anniversary). Please pray for Father Keyes for the continued success of his mission and vocation.

from "La Corona"
John Donne

Moist with one drop of Thy blood, my dry soul
Shall—though she now be in extreme degree 
Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly—be 
Freed by that drop, from being starved, hard or foul, 
And life by this death abled shall control 
Death, whom Thy death slew ; nor shall to me 
Fear of first or last death bring misery, 
If in thy life-book my name thou enroll. 
Flesh in that long sleep is not putrified, 
But made that there, of which, and for which it was ; 
Nor can by other means be glorified. 
May then sin's sleep and death soon from me pass, 
That waked from both, I again risen may 
Salute the last and everlasting day. 

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October 23, 2003

The Sacrament of Marriage and Ms. Shiavo's Case

Mark at Minute Particulars makes some excellent points about the sacrament of Marriage and its position in being able to make health care decisions about a disabled spouse. And for the most part I agree. But I have to say that I see very little shadow of doubt about the propriety of the action in this case because one must wonder how much of the sacrament is intact. One of the reasons little discussion has been devoted to this fact of the case, I believe, is because one must get very scrupulous and legalistic about definitions and who can decide what. After all--the sacrament does not appear to be lived out in this case, (further statement may constitute gossip and so I refrain). I think in any discussion of who makes what decisions, extenuating circumstances such as this must be considered. I give more weight to the legislative action taken in this case, not because it was necessarily right and proper, but it is up to the state to defend those who cannot speak for themselves. Under these circumstance, where it might be more convenient for the person making the decision to have someone "put out of their misery," I believe additional scrutiny is probably in order.

The sacrament of Marriage should drive who we consider the proper person to make decisions in this matter, but then, so should all the circumstances of the case and not a mere legalism.

"Don't we undermine marriage somewhat if we steamroll over the authority a husband or wife has for an incapacitated spouse?" In answer to this very legitimate question, I think the reply must be based not on speculative theory but what was right in this case or in the case under inspection. If to all exterior appearances the sacrament is being lived out fully, all due consideration must be paid to this; however, I think it is relatively easy to see that there are good reasons to suspect Mr. Shiavo's devotion to Ms. Schiavo and his dedication to her best interest. In such a case, should we close our eyes to extenuating circumstances and stand on a rather legalistic interpretation of what the sacrament is all about? My reading indicates that Mark in no way suggests this and I don't want to leave anyone with the impression that I impute this view to him; however, it is the other side, and a tremendously important side at that, of the discussion. And because it is so seamy and so filled with innuendo and the possibility of uncharitableness, it may not have gotten much play in the course of discussion. However, I don't think we can allow the view taken during the Clinton Administration that what one does in one's private life should not affect the view of public actions. As with all such discussions, this one needs to be considered as a whole--and I suspect that the question of the sacrament is somewhat less problematic in the instance.

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October Poem--Coventry Patmore--The Toys

Thematically related to the discussion yesterday of choices made:

Links to more Patmore:

Poet's Corner

Old Poetry

The Child's Purchase

All Spirit

Complete: Angel in the House and Another, less aggravating version

Victories of Love--Gutenberg

The Toys
Coventry Patmore

            My little Son, who look'd from thoughtful eyes
            And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise,
            Having my law the seventh time disobey'd,
            I struck him, and dismiss'd
            With hard words and unkiss'd,
            His Mother, who was patient, being dead.
            Then, fearing lest his grief should hinder sleep,
            I visited his bed,
            But found him slumbering deep,
            With darken'd eyelids, and their lashes yet
            From his late sobbing wet.
            And I, with moan,
            Kissing away his tears, left others of my own;
            For, on a table drawn beside his head,
            He had put, within his reach,
            A box of counters and a red-vein'd stone,
            A piece of glass abraded by the beach
            And six or seven shells,
            A bottle with bluebells
            And two French copper coins, ranged there with careful art,
            To comfort his sad heart.
            So when that night I pray'd
            To God, I wept, and said:
            Ah, when at last we lie with tranced breath,
            Not vexing Thee in death,
            And Thou rememberest of what toys
            We made our joys,
            How weakly understood
            Thy great commanded good,
            Then, fatherly not less
            Than I whom Thou hast moulded from the clay,
            Thou'lt leave Thy wrath, and say,
            "I will be sorry for their childishness."

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Hymn Request--Flos Carmeli in Latin

Sr. Michael Marie below requested a printed version of the "Flos Carmeli" in Latin. The text follows. I'd have to research recordings, as I'm not immediately aware of any CDs with the hymn on it.

In addition, here are two resources for Latin Hymns and Marian Hymns.

Marian Hymns
Latin Hymns

Flos Carmeli

Fos Carmeli,
vitis florigera,
splendor caeli,
virgo puerpera

Mater mitis
sed viri nescia
esto propitia
stella maris.

Radix Jesse
germinans flosculum
Nos ad esse
tecum in saeculum

Inter spinas
quae crescis lilium
Serva puras
mentes fragiluim

Fortis Pugnantium
Furunt bella
tende praesidium

Per incerta
prudens consilium
Per adversa
iugie solatium

Mater dulcis
Carmeli domina,
plebem tuam
reple laetitia
qua bearis.

clavis et ianua,
fac nos duci
quo, Mater, gloria

Following is a complete English translation of the hymn:

Flower of Carmel

FLOWER of Carmel,
Tall vine blossom laden;
Splendor of heaven,
Childbearing yet maiden.
None equals thee.

Mother so tender,
Who no man didst know,
On Carmel's children
Thy favors bestow.
Star of the Sea.

Strong stem of Jesse,
Who bore one bright flower,
Be ever near us
And guard us each hour,
who serve thee here.

Purest of lilies,
That flowers among thorns,
Bring help to the true heart
That in weakness turns
and trusts in thee.

Strongest of armor,
We trust in thy might:
Under thy mantle,
Hard press'd in the fight,
we call to thee.

Our way uncertain,
Surrounded by foes,
Unfailing counsel
You give to those
who turn to thee.

O gentle Mother
Who in Carmel reigns,
Share with your servants
That gladness you gained
and now enjoy.

Hail, Gate of Heaven,
With glory now crowned,
Bring us to safety
Where thy Son is found,
true joy to see.

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A New Parishioner

Or so I guess, Ms. Mary H stopped by here recently and has quite a fine blog of her own. Stop by and say hello.

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October 22, 2003

The Unraveling Continued

This is a terrible sign of where the Episcopalian communion is headed. Children no longer receiving religious preparation and the Bishop asked to forego his annual visit for the conferral of confirmation. I know that there are parts of St. Blog's that are nearly ecstatic over this sad division, but I can't muster up much of any enthusiasm for yet another rending of the body of Christ. It is another sad wound that may bring some into the Catholic Church but is more likely to alienate a great many from going to church altogether. Even if the communion is imperfect, it is still part of the Body of Christ and this is a wrenching and terrible spectacle.

However, even so, one must recognize that God has permitted this for whatever reason. We must pray for the good that can come out of it.

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Today's Quotation

It just amused me as I was reading, so I thought I'd share:


Is that any thing now?


Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more
than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two
grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you
shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you
have them, they are not worth the search.

"The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene I" --William Shakespeare

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October Poem--Milton--Sonnet XXIII

A finer, more eloquent lamentation and heartfelt expression of grief is hard to imagine. This belongs with Anne Bradstreet's "To My Dear and Loving Husband" as one of the great love poems (particularly considering it comes from Milton's hand).

Sonnet XXIII: Methought I Saw my Late Espoused Saint
John Milton

            Methought I saw my late espoused saint
                 Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,
                 Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
                 Rescu'd from death by force, though pale and faint.
            Mine, as whom wash'd from spot of child-bed taint
                 Purification in the old Law did save,
                 And such as yet once more I trust to have
                 Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
            Came vested all in white, pure as her mind;
                 Her face was veil'd, yet to my fancied sight
                 Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd
            So clear as in no face with more delight.
                 But Oh! as to embrace me she inclin'd,
                 I wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.

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Our Choices Matter

Following from yesterday's note that there is purpose to everything, a corollary is that our choices matter. Most orthodox Christians seem to understand this intuitively in the big issues--to sin or refrain from occasion of sin, to support life or to oppose it.

However, where we seem to let it go is in the smaller choices that matter every bit as much. For example, in our choice of entertainment. There is nothing wrong with leisure time, however, it seems that if everything has a purpose, then our choices should also be purposeful. If we choose to entertain ourselves with things that are not worthy of us, we are not doing ourselves any favors. There is nothing wrong with reading the occasional Grisham or Wodehouse as a sort of intellectual palate-cleansing; however, a complete diet of either must be detrimental because we are filling time otherwise better occupied in more edifying pursuits.

Moreover, and this is where it gets sticky, we need to make choices that reduce recreation time. Recreation is supposed to be a break, not the majority of time that we are not at work. Many parents have no problem with this--modern schedules of carting kids to activities, maintaining house and home, participating even minimally in various parish activities--all tend to fill up our time. And yet the average family finds times for 4-6 hours of television a day. There is something wrong with this.

We need to choose as often as possible things that will help us lead Christian lives. So our entertainment, our recreation, and our leisure hours should be spent training ourselves to be better Christians. The things we choose to take in during these hours should strengthen our resolve as well as our minds and bodies.

Everything has a purpose, every choice matters. Every choice has consequences that echo perpetually. So, it would seem, Dostoievski might be preferable to say Agatha Christie, even if I happen to prefer the latter most times. Chesterton might be better than Grisham, and so forth. We simply need to learn to pray before and about everything and let the Holy Spirit be our guide in all the ways we will go.

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October 21, 2003

Request for Feedback

Please let me know if the present line-length in the main blog is comfortable. If not, too long, too short? I think it's about right for good column length and probably good for most poetry display. But let me know if you think it needs something different.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:06 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Terri Update

The Florida Senate passed the bill. Let's pray that Mr. Bush does as he has promised and let us continue to pray for the recovery and healing of Ms. Schiavo.

Appears Bush has signed the orders to reinstate the feeding. Praise God! Praise God! and keep praying. She needs our prayers and support as much now as she did before. Pray for her recovery and no ill-effects.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Terri Update

Assuming the Senate approves it:

from the Orlando Sentinel

Bush said he would sign legislation into law Tuesday night and immediately issue the stay, ordering the feeding tube reinserted. He said he did not think lawmakers were motivated by politics.

"This is a response to a tragic situation." Bush said. "People are responding to cries for help and I think it's legitimate."

Pray for all due haste and speed in returning this woman's basic rights.

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Terri Schiavo Update

Mr. Polson draws my attention to the fact that I misread the article referenced below to mean that something had been decided. That will wait until this evening--which gives everyone in the state of Florida plenty of time to keep the phones ringing off the hooks and to storm heaven in the name of Mercy for this woman.

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Terri Schiavo, A Personal View

I have felt guilty for not joining the people in Tampa in their vigil for Terri, for not doing much more than handwringing, letter writing, and praying. However, it seems that there must be some of us gadflies left to sting the wounded conscience into action. We all have a role whether we can maintain vigil or not. Keep praying! And pray that if Bush does what he should Ms. Schiavo's recovery is complete and rapid.

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Terri Schiavo--Update

The Senate passed the bill. Now it is up to Bush. Let's pray he doesn't drop the ball on this.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 10:50 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Terri Schiavo Crisis

Many of you may already have seen this. If not--taken directly from the Blog of Gregg the Obscure:

In case you haven't seen this yet at Chez Shea

Urgent Action needed . . .
Here's what needs to happen. Call and/or write James King in the Florida Legislature and demand that emergency legislation be passed immediately--today--to create a moratorium on starving/dehydration such as Terri is being forced to endure.

Phone: 850-487-5229 or 850-487-5030


No time to lose! Please circulate this as far and wide as you can.

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To Everything. . . There Is a Purpose

Nothing happens accidentally. Everything you experience is a gift given by God. Often I know that I wish there were an exchange counter. There are gifts I'd rather not be given--presents I wish I could return.

Another wish I have is that the gifts came with intelligible instruction manuals. What am I to do with this thing you have given me? We can pray about it, but not being subject to locutions, I rarely have a clear revelation about meaning or purpose.

And that all leads to the core of the matter--trust. We must trust that everything has a purpose. We must trust that God knows what He is doing, because we sure don't. And we must trust that if we truly love God and seek to follow His will, we will find the path He has laid out for us.

To every small incident of every single day, every overheard conversation, every stranger encountered, every trifling annoyance, there is a purpose. We may not be able to discern it--but the purpose is there. Each day, each episode, each moment is a gift to us. For our love of Him, let's open the gifts with joy and sit at His feet to learn how best to employ them for our good and the good of the entire world.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October Poem--Wallace Stevens--The Emperor of Ice Cream

Pardon the pun, but an utterly chlling view--and wonderful and beautiful.

The Emperor of Ice-Cream
Wallace Stevens

            Call the roller of big cigars,
            The muscular one, and bid him whip
            In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
            Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
            As they are used to wear, and let the boys
            Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
            Let be be finale of seem.
            The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

            Take from the dresser of deal,
            Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
            On which she embroidered fantails once
            And spread it so as to cover her face.
            If her horny feet protrude, they come
            To show how cold she is, and dumb.
            Let the lamp affix its beam.
            The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

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Praise God, At Least One Step!--Terri News

Praise God, but keep praying. At least the Florida House has voted to allow Bush to help Terri (although as Chief executive of the state, it would seem that one of his prime directives would be to protect the citizenry of the state). Pray that the Senate acts quickly and this poor woman can be saved from the monstrous end expressly manufactured for her by Satan and the culture of Death.

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October 20, 2003

Back to the Original

Too much time spent trying to find where the problem was and fix it. So until there is some easy transformation we will stay at the 3 column format. Thanks to all who responded. I will be working on this from time to time--but don't expect great advances any time soon. Thanks.

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Query to Coders

Does anyone have any idea why the blog displays this way? What is controlling the length of the second column? I don't see any indication of length in any of the code/stylesheets/etc. I found one missing semi-colon, but nothing else. This is very frustrating. That and the lack of a break between "Frequented Blogs" and "Categories."

This is why I don't want to start a new page--hours and hours get poured into trying to get everything to display properly.

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When I have an opportunity today--a review of the Exhibit from the Vatican--the purpose of our trip to Fort Lauderdale. Preview--All you Florida people--yes even you JAX people, make an effort to get down to Ft. Lauderdale and see this--it is worth the time and effort.

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Format Change

I have been requested and am in the process of considering a change back to a two-column format here. I can see some of the advantages of both means of doing this. Personally, I prefer the three column format most of the time. However, it does tend to lengthen posts and scrolling--so two might not be bad. In order to do this I would probably have to create a separate links page, so I would have to either impose upon my hosts to that extent or build a separate page on my own site. I have resisted building my own site precisely because it would become the kind of time-sink which would require me to leave off blogging entirely.

Does anyone else have an opinion on the matter? I respectfully request any such in the comments box below or by e-mail. Or perhaps you all have some solution that I have not yet considered. Please let me know. Thanks.

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October Poem--Rosetti--Goblin Market

So as not to try patience, nor subject reader to infinite scrolling, I post merely two excerpts of this magnificent poem. The subject is the danger of near occasion of sin and the execution is magnificent. Find the entire poem here. This poem should be carefully read and considered and I think in the repetoire of every home-schooler for later years--say grades 11 and 12. There are strong adult themes.

The Goblin Market

MORNING and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpeck'd cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheek'd peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries; -
All ripe together
In summer weather, -
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy:
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye;
Come buy, come buy."
. . .

But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste:
"Good folk, I have no coin;
To take were to purloin:
I have no copper in my purse,
I have no silver either,
And all my gold is on the furze
That shakes in windy weather
Above the rusty heather."
"You have much gold upon your head,"
They answer'd all together:
"Buy from us with a golden curl."
She clipp'd a precious golden lock,
She dropp'd a tear more rare than pearl,
Then suck'd their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flow'd that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She suck'd and suck'd and suck'd the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She suck'd until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away
But gather'd up one kernel stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turn'd home alone.
Lizzie met her at the gate
Full of wise upbraidings:
"Dear, you should not stay so late,
Twilight is not good for maidens;
Should not loiter in the glen
In the haunts of goblin men.
Do you not remember Jeanie,
How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice and many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers
Pluck'd from bowers
Where summer ripens at all hours?
But ever in the noonlight
She pined and pined away;
Sought them by night and day,
Found them no more, but dwindled and grew grey;
Then fell with the first snow,
While to this day no grass will grow
Where she lies low:
I planted daisies there a year ago
That never blow.

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Beach Thoughts on Detachment

I am not a fan of Fort Lauderdale. Sitting in a restaurant on Saturday overlooking one of the many canals that provide access to the city for those with boats, I thought how little that life appealed to me. Walking on the beaches built up with hotels, I thought how little it appealed to me.

Now I am back in my landlocked home and I think, how wonderful it would be to be back there. Without question Fort Lauderdale beach is built up, and I've always disliked beaches that were so commercial. But walking there on Saturday, I realized that there is a good side for those of us who love the sun but don't particularly like being IN it. These buildings provide a wonderful later-afternoon shade that makes swimming in the ocean so much more comfortable.

All of those points aside. I began to consider this whole trip for one reason and purpose--the question of attachment. Recording some of my thoughts after a beach-walk on Saturday, I thought about the question of desire:

But I had a series of questions. Is it wrong of me to want to live near the ocean ? The answer, I think, is no. Would it be wrong to work toward this goal? The answer, I think, is yes--because it would redirect attentions that should be lavished on God. This brings us back to the first question and the answer now seems to be that even the desire must be wrong. I don't really know the answer, but I do know the desire is real. . .

Is it wrong to want something? I believe we are made to want things, that our emptiness longs to be filled with God. Is it wrong to want to live somewhere else or to want to do something else as a means of employment? I don't think so--but the question becomes how much is it permissable to seek these things.

Looking at the lives of the great Saints, we don't see them wanting to live near the ocean or pining because they'd really rather have been carpenters rather than writers or clergy. Because they loved God sufficiently, all other things paled into obscurity. Ordinary life became extraordinary.

So perhaps it is not so much "wrong" to desire these things as it is symptomatic of the need for improvement. When we love God sufficiently everything else is subsumed in this love. When God is the focus of our attention, we no longer think about longer and longer vacations, and spending our time near the ocean or near the mountains, or near anything other than God himself.

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October 19, 2003

A Query for the Better Informed

Does anyone have any idea of what a liturgical drinking straw is? I saw two such objects--One of Pope Pius XII and one of a previous pope Leo XIII, perhaps. Samuel was so taken by them that I totally missed the really fantastic object in that case--a plain glass goblet that was used for celebrating Mass in Auschwitz--more about the whole exhibit, I know I've been obscure, when I've gotten a few other things out of the way.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 12:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Good News/Bad News

Good News: I'm back and experience suggests that I do not need to abandon the blog.

Bad News: I don't have much to say today, so there may be one more entry and then silence again. Thanks for all your encouragement.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 12:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack