October 11, 2003

Prayers Needed for All Those Who Feel Abandoned by Their Mother

You are probably aware that the Epsicopalian Church is still in an enormous uproar. For some reason, it seems to have stronger resonances here in Florida--perhaps because the Episcopalians had asked the use of the Catholic Cathedral in St. Augustine for the ordination of their bishop. Such permission had been granted until Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of the Episcopalian Church announced that he would officiate. The Cathedral in St. Augustine withdrew its permission--largely making the point that while we can recognize something Christian in the Anglican Communion, the presiding bishop's actions have put him outside the Christian flock. A Letter from Cardinal Ratzinger and a conversation between Rowan Williams and the Pope have consistently reiterated this theme.

The crisis affects all of us. Most particularly, those who are presently part of the war-torn Episcopalian Church need our prayers that they may find safe harbor. Please see this and read the last several entries for an "insider's" view of what is happening. This is not a tempest in a teapot, but a great convulsion in the body of Christ that may lead on to a great restoration of the body or may lead to multiple fragmentation. Whatever happens, we need to pray that all who are directly touched by this crisis are blessed by it and come closer to God as a result.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:32 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Poem for October--Longefellow's Wreck of the Hesperus

Wreck of the Hesperus
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It was the schooner Hesperus,
That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughtèr,
To bear him company.

Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,
Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,
That ope in the month of May.

The skipper he stood beside the helm,
His pipe was in his mouth,
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
The smoke now West, now South.

Then up and spake an old Sailòr,
Had sailed to the Spanish Main,
"I pray thee, put into yonder port,
For I fear a hurricane.

"Last night, the moon had a golden ring,
And to-night no moon we see!"
The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe,
And a scornful laugh laughed he.

Colder and louder blew the wind,
A gale from the Northeast,
The snow fell hissing in the brine,
And the billows frothed like yeast.

Down came the storm, and smote amain
The vessel in its strength;
She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
Then leaped her cable's length.

"Come hither! come hither! my little daughtèr,
And do not tremble so;
For I can weather the roughest gale
That ever wind did blow."

He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat
Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,
And bound her to the mast.

"O father! I hear the church-bells ring,
Oh say, what may it be?"
"'T is a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast!" --
And he steered for the open sea.

"O father! I hear the sound of guns,
Oh say, what may it be?"
"Some ship in distress, that cannot live
In such an angry sea!"

"O father! I see a gleaming light,
Oh say, what may it be?"
But the father answered never a word,
A frozen corpse was he.

Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,
With his face turned to the skies,
The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow
On his fixed and glassy eyes.

Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed
That savèd she might be;
And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave
On the Lake of Galilee.

And fast through the midnight dark and drear,
Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept
Tow'rds the reef of Norman's Woe.

And ever the fitful gusts between
A sound came from the land;
It was the sound of the trampling surf
On the rocks and the hard sea-sand.

The breakers were right beneath her bows,
She drifted a dreary wreck,
And a whooping billow swept the crew
Like icicles from her deck.

She struck where the white and fleecy waves
Looked soft as carded wool,
But the cruel rocks, they gored her side
Like the horns of an angry bull.

Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice,
With the masts went by the board;
Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank,
Ho! ho! the breakers roared!

At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach,
A fisherman stood aghast,
To see the form of a maiden fair,
Lashed close to a drifting mast.

The salt sea was frozen on her breast,
The salt tears in her eyes;
And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed,
On the billows fall and rise.

Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,
In the midnight and the snow!
Christ save us all from a death like this,
On the reef of Norman's Woe!

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Yesterday-A Poem NOT about April

Several times in recent date I have read of a poem categorized as being about "april being the cruelest month." In most cases the person quoting the line wished to disagree in one way or another and to say why some other month is more cruel. (Usually my favorite--October, but then chacun á son goût.) However, the poem they are quoting isn't really about April being the cruelest month, although that is the first line after the epigraph. It is in fact probably the most important poem of the 20th Century and the harbinger and measure of the modernist movement:

from The Waste Land
T. S. Eliot


APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.

You can see from the context that what is happening is that we are being introduced to one stream-of-consciousness in a multiplicity. April is the context because it springs from this consciousness. However, April is cited as cruel because of its forced resurrection which mixes "memory with desire." It forces us out of ourselves and into the light when we had long lain dormant.

But the poem is not about April, and Eliot did eventually come to terms with the despair he so neatly chronicles by joining the Church of England. And really the only reason for this post is not to correct anything or make any real point at all--it simply gave me sufficient excuse to quote an excerpt from a poem I love and I love to talk about.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Poem for Yesterday--One of the All Time Greats

John Keats is one of the all-time great poets and the following ode with its unusual and langorous construction is truly a highlight of his work.

To Autumn
John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Reestablishing What Was Lost Yesterday

The next couple of entries are reposting what was lost from early yesterday. I'm truly sorry the interesting conversation re: Mr. D"Hippolito's comments has been foreshortened, but then these things happen.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Quenta Nâwenion Announces the Veiling of a Carmelite Sister

Please visit here for the details. Please remember Sister Claire in your prayers as she approaches her wedding day.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 09, 2003

Prayer Attributed to Sir Francis Drake

Prayer Attributed to Sir Francis Drake, 1577

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 01:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

On Pro-Life Endeavors

I found the following strongly worded and provocative entry in a comments box at Disputations--as it was a rejoinder somewhat off the main point, I thought I would drag it out and comment upon it here.

Comment by Mr. Jospeh D'Hippolito at Disputations

Second, regarding your skepticism of voting because of "pro-life" issues: The biggest problem with "pro-life" Christians in general is that they demand (let alone expect) a democratic government expressed through republican institutions to remake society in their moral image. That is beyond the scope of such institutions, which are designed to ensure individual liberty against government intrusion, not to create a society of virtue where none exists. The Founding Fathers always knew that the success of their experiment depended on a virtuous citizenry.

Besides, "pro-life" Christians have deluded themselves into believing that the ultimate answer to abortion lies in public policy, rather than private endeavors. What sort of endeavors? For one thing, sex education based on personal responsibility and Christian values. For another, centers funded by Christians of means where unmarried, pregnant women can have their babies safely, learn maternal skills, perhaps even get a modicum of job training and a GED. For a third, promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion.

Mr. D'Hippolito and I have exchanged views in the past at Disputations. Mr. D'Hipplolito tends to strong language and strongly worded thoughts. That said, I cannot but agree with the essential thrust of what is said here. Well, let's say that with a little demurral. I do believe that as committed Christians we should push to have as much of our worldview as possible represented in the laws that drive our society; however, I do not think that legislation is ultimately the solution to the problem. The solution lies in making abortion not merely a crime but unnecessary and undesirable.

Now, to give groups credit, many pro-lifers do not spend their time pushing for absolutist legislation that has, it seems to me, little chance of success. A great many do run the kinds of help places Mr. D'Hippolito lists above--but more are needed and more volunteers are needed, and more responsibility needs to be taken by parents for the proper education and instruction of children in matters dealing with sex--and yes, schools should be stressing Chrisitan values and personal responsibility.

All that is here seems very sensible to me. I would just add that it does no harm to continue to work for legislation that helps to put limits on abortion as well. I just don't think it is reasonable, practical, or sensible for that to be the main or only thrust of any work toward a solution to the problem and crime of abortion.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October Poem of the Day--"The Highwayman"

Alfred Noyes, author of "The Highwayman" converted to Catholicism after the death of his first wife. He was author of several mutli-volume epic poems and has a longish piece at CIN on St. John the Evangelist.

The Highwayman

Alfred Noyes

Part One
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight, over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding-
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say-

"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."

He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(Oh, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the West.

Part Two
He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon,
When the road was a gipsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching-
King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through the casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her.
She heard the dead man say-
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till here fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love's refrain.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs
ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did
not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up strait and still!

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him-with her death.

He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.

* * * * * *

And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding-
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard,
And he taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:22 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 08, 2003

Narnia Resource

A book highly recommended at Blithering Idiot, is made available on-line. Peter J. Schakel's Reading with the Heart: The Way into Narnia has long been out of print, but the author has generously made it available to readers through the web. Thanks to both Blithering and Mr. (Dr.?) Schakel.

By the way, I read Blithering Idiot to keep a sense of the pulse of conservative Episcopalianism in this time of crisis. (Midwest Conservative Journal is also an excellect resource for this. ). I continue to pray for those in the church who have chosen to lead others astray and hope that they will eventually come to understand the magnitude of what they have done.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 12:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On Confession

Via Father Jim, this wonderful discussion of Confession at Father Rob's place. I will want to come back to this time and again as a reminder.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

On Contemplation

This really struck me as I was reading it. The message is for all who aspire to "higher" or "deeper" prayer. I think of this as the transformation Jesus promised Nicodemus who came in the night--"Ye must be born again."

A Letter to Pope Paul VI
Thomas Merton

God seeks Himself in us, and the aridity and sorrow of our heart is the sorrow of God who is not known to us, who cannot yet find Himself in us because we do not dare to believe or trust the incredible truth that He could live in us, and live there out of choice, out of preference. But indeed we exist solely for this, to be the place He has chosen for His presence, His manifestation in the world, His epiphany. But we make all this dark and inglorious because we fail to believe it, we refuse to believe it. It is not that we hate God, rather that we hate ourselves, despair of ourselves. If we once began to recognize, humbly but truly, the real value of our own self, we would see that this value was the sign of God in our being, the signature of God upon our being.

The contemplative is not the man who has fiery visions of the cherubim carrying God on their imagined chariot, but simply he who has risked his mind in the desert beyond language and beyond ideas where God is encountered in the nakedness of pure trust, that is to say in the surrender of our own poverty and incompleteness in order no longer to clench our minds in a cramp upon themselves, as if thinking made us exist. The message of hope the contemplative offers you, then is not that you need to find your way through the jungle of language and problems that today surround God; but that whether you understand or not, God loves you, is present to you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you, and offers you an understanding and light which are like nothing you ever found in books or heard in sermons. The contemplative has nothing to tell you except to reassure you and say that if you dare to penetrate your own silence and dare to advance without fear into the solitude of your own heart, and risk sharing that solitude with the lonely other who seeks God through you and with you, then you will truly recover the light and the capacity to understand what is beyond words and beyond explanation because it is too close to be explained: it is the intimate union in the depths of your own heart, of God's spirit and your own secret inmost self, so that you and He are in all truth One Spirit.

Powerful imagery, powerful words. The sorrow and the longing in our hearts is the longing of God to find a dwelling place within us, when we are too small and cramped to believe that He would be willing to live within us. Oh Jesus, open the doors and raise high the gates, come through in your triumph, riding on a donkey, a kingly procession and prepare the dwelling place. Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine--the dwelling place of the Eternal God and King of the Universe, of His Sacrificed Son, savior of the world, and of the Holy Spirit who breathes life into faith and joy into hearts that are dead. Only having your heart can we have a dwelling place suitable for the Lord of All.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

One Last Poem-Walter de la Mare-The Listeners

This is my October poem for the day. I recall that Dylan did not much care for narrative poems, and for the most part that represents a sound poetic judgment. The following is not exemplary poetry, but it does make for a slightly chilling read in the right atmosphere.

The Listeners
Walter de la Mare

"Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
Of the forest's ferny floor;
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
"Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

I particularly like the image of the last two lines--"how the silence surged softly backward," closing like a curtain, once again cutting the listeners off from contact with the outside world. This is the same world, same atmosphere as that wonderful film The Others.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Today's Poem-Coleridge-The Lime-Tree Bower My Prison

What better poem for absent friends?

The Lime-tree Bower my Prison
[Addressed to Charles Lamb, of the India House, London]
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

              Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
              This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost
              Beauties and feelings, such as would have been
              Most sweet to my remembrance even when age
              Had dimm'd mine eyes to blindness! They, meanwhile,
              Friends, whom I never more may meet again,
              On springy heath, along the hill-top edge,
              Wander in gladness, and wind down, perchance,
              To that still roaring dell, of which I told;
            The roaring dell, o'erwooded, narrow, deep,
            And only speckled by the mid-day sun;
            Where its slim trunk the ash from rock to rock
            Flings arching like a bridge;--that branchless ash,
            Unsunn'd and damp, whose few poor yellow leaves
            Ne'er tremble in the gale, yet tremble still,
            Fann'd by the water-fall! and there my friends
            Behold the dark green file of long lank weeds,
            That all at once (a most fantastic sight!)
            Still nod and drip beneath the dripping edge
            Of the blue clay-stone.
                             Now, my friends emerge
            Beneath the wide wide Heaven--and view again
            The many-steepled tract magnificent
            Of hilly fields and meadows, and the sea,
            With some fair bark, perhaps, whose sails light up
            The slip of smooth clear blue betwixt two Isles
            Of purple shadow! Yes! they wander on
            In gladness all; but thou, methinks, most glad,
            My gentle-hearted Charles! for thou hast pined
            And hunger'd after Nature, many a year,
            In the great City pent, winning thy way
            With sad yet patient soul, through evil and pain
            And strange calamity! Ah! slowly sink
            Behind the western ridge, thou glorious Sun!
            Shine in the slant beams of the sinking orb,
            Ye purple heath-flowers! richlier burn, ye clouds!
            Live in the yellow light, ye distant groves!
            And kindle, thou blue Ocean! So my friend
            Struck with deep joy may stand, as I have stood,
            Silent with swimming sense; yea, gazing round
            On the wide landscape, gaze till all doth seem
            Less gross than bodily; and of such hues
            As veil the Almighty Spirit, when yet he makes
            Spirits perceive his presence.
                             A delight
            Comes sudden on my heart, and I am glad
            As I myself were there! Nor in this bower,
            This little lime-tree bower, have I not mark'd
            Much that has sooth'd me. Pale beneath the blaze
            Hung the transparent foliage; and I watch'd
            Some broad and sunny leaf, and lov'd to see
            The shadow of the leaf and stem above
            Dappling its sunshine! And that walnut-tree
            Was richly ting'd, and a deep radiance lay
            Full on the ancient ivy, which usurps
            Those fronting elms, and now, with blackest mass
            Makes their dark branches gleam a lighter hue
            Through the late twilight: and though now the bat
            Wheels silent by, and not a swallow twitters,
            Yet still the solitary humble-bee
            Sings in the bean-flower! Henceforth I shall know
            That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure;
            No plot so narrow, be but Nature there,
            No waste so vacant, but may well employ
            Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
            Awake to Love and Beauty! and sometimes
            'Tis well to be bereft of promis'd good,
            That we may lift the soul, and contemplate
            With lively joy the joys we cannot share.
            My gentle-hearted Charles! when the last rook
            Beat its straight path along the dusky air
            Homewards, I blest it! deeming its black wing
            (Now a dim speck, now vanishing in light)
            Had cross'd the mighty Orb's dilated glory,
            While thou stood'st gazing; or, when all was still,
            Flew creeking o'er thy head, and had a charm
            For thee, my gentle-hearted Charles, to whom
            No sound is dissonant which tells of Life.

And so I would say to absent friends, "No sound is dissonant which tells of life."

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Yesterday's Events

Many of you may have noticed that Dylan paid a visit to the blogworld yesterday. It was a much needed, much appreciated boost.

My flurry of poem-posting reminded me of one of the reasons I started this blog at all--poetry. And so contrary to what might seem to be implied by the housekeeping entry below, I have no intention of abandoning the posting of poetry--I intend to pick back up and post it more often. Part of what has been missing here is that interaction and synergy with more last than star. I hadn't realized it, but my missing Dylan had taken the unconscious form of a lack of poetry on the site--kind of a wandering in the wilderness.

I do miss his voice, and I am profoundly grateful that he found his way here. I'm glad to know that he has the ability to contact us, however fleetingly. And it is to his eventual release and return to us that I dedicate each day's poem.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 07, 2003

Housekeeping and Maintenance Items

I have been doing a fair amount of editing and categorizing of previous posts. Most of these include posts from the archives and I have noticed a disconcerting tendency for the titles of the posts to be deficient in certain information. In many cases one could spend an hour analyzing the title to try to figure out what it was I was likely to be telling everyone and not come even close. Thus, I've determined to try to make my titles more informative, but hopefully no less interesting. This will give those of you who have expressed a passionate dislike of poetry, mine and otherwise, a chance to escape before you have read too much. I will not eschew the humorously, sly, or ironic when appropriate, but I do hope that I have learned something from all this editing I've been doing, and I trust that it will better serve the readers of this blog.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Room in the Dragon Volant Available as E-Text

The fantastically rare Room in the Dragon Volant by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, of Carmilla fame. Thank heaven's for rescuing such things from obscurity, if only to a pixelated existance.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A New, Detailed, Interesting Blog

Mr. Scott Fischer, who has the initially disconcerting initials SWF, is blogmeister at the interestingly titled viam pacis. He claims to be an ENTJ, and I have no trouble believing this because in a matter of one short week I feel I know more about him than I do about 90% of St. Blog's Parishioners. There is much of interest here.

Oh, and Mr. Fischer did correctly discern that I pay attention to my sitemeter references. It is, in fact, the only reason I retain sitemeter. I've long thought about removing it, but if I did so, I would stand no chance of finding such unusual and interesting sites.

Welcome Mr. Fischer and I trust that St. Blogs gives you a "laurel and hardy handshake." (Comment if the reference is too obscure.)

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Reflection on Poetry Day

I think this spate of poetry today is a way of making up for how much it has been missing of recent date.

I miss Dylan. A lot. I want him back. More than a lot.

Please pray for Dylan that he return to us soonest in good health and frame of mind and begin his work of poetry anew.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 10:25 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

In Our Continuing Effort to Celebrate October, This Rerun

October is among my favorite months of the year. Perhaps my very favorite. To start with, I love everything pumpkin--muffins, ice cream, bread, soup, fritters, donuts, you name it.

Well, here's a poem from the past in honor of October.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

For October, Which I Haven't Really Begun to Celebrate Yet

Another guilty poetic treasure

Annabel Lee
Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulcher
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason
(as all men know, In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In the sepulcher there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

From St. Robert Southwell

Today is simply a day for poetry.

A Child My Choice
St. Robert Southwell

Let folly praise that fancy loves, I praise and love that Child
Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word, whose hand no deed defiled.

I praise Him most, I love Him best, all praise and love is His;
While Him I love, in Him I live, and cannot live amiss.

Love's sweetest mark, laud's highest theme, man's most desired light,
To love Him life, to leave Him death, to live in Him delight.

He mine by gift, I His by debt, thus each to other due;
First friend He was, best friend He is, all times will try Him true.

Though young, yet wise; though small, yet strong; though man, yet God He is:
As wise, He knows; as strong, He can; as God, He loves to bless.

His knowledge rules, His strength defends, His love doth cherish all;
His birth our joy, His life our light, His death our end of thrall.

Alas! He weeps, He sighs, He pants, yet do His angels sing;
Out of His tears, His sighs and throbs, doth bud a joyful spring.

Almighty Babe, whose tender arms can force all foes to fly,
Correct my faults, protect my life, direct me when I die!

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

From Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke

A psalm of tremendous consolation:

Psalm 139
Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, 1599

      O LORD, O Lord, in me there lieth nought
    But to thy search revealed lies,
            For when I sit
            Thou markest it;
    No less thou notest when I rise;
Yea, closest closet of my thought
    Hath open windows to thine eyes.
Thou walkest with me when I walk;
    When to my bed for rest I go,
            I find thee there,
            And everywhere:
    Not youngest thought in me doth grow,
No, not one word I cast to talk
    But yet unuttered thou dost know.
If forth I march, thou goest before,
    If back I turn, thou com'st behind:
            So forth nor back
            Thy guard I lack,
    Nay on me too, thy hand I find.
Well I thy wisdom may adore,
    But never reach with earthy mind.
To shun thy notice, leave thine eye,
    O whither might I take my way?
            To starry sphere?
            Thy throne is there.
    To dead men's undelightsome stay?
There is thy walk, and there to lie
    Unknown, in vain I should assay.
O sun, whom light nor flight can match,
    Suppose thy lightful flightful wings
            Thou lend to me,
            And I could flee
    As far as thee the evening brings:
Even led to west he would me catch,
    Nor should I lurk with western things.
Do thou thy best, O secret night,
    In sable veil to cover me:
            Thy sable veil
            Shall vainly fail;
    With day unmasked my night shall be,
For night is day, and darkness light,
    O father of all lights, to thee.
Each inmost piece in me is thine:
    While yet I in my mother dwelt,
            All that me clad
            From thee I had.
    Thou in my frame hast strangely dealt:
Needs in my praise thy works must shine
    So inly them my thoughts have felt.
Thou, how my back was beam-wise laid,
    And raft'ring of my ribs, dost know;
            Know'st every point
            Of bone and joint,
    How to this whole these parts did grow,
In brave embroid'ry fair arrayed,
    Though wrought in shop both dark and low.
Nay fashionless, ere form I took,
    Thy all and more beholding eye
            My shapeless shape
            Could not escape:
    All these time framed successively
Ere one had being, in the book
    Of thy foresight enrolled did lie.
My God, how I these studies prize,
    That do thy hidden workings show!
            Whose sum is such
            No sum so much,
    Nay, summed as sand they sumless grow.
I lie to sleep, from sleep I rise,
    Yet still in thought with thee I go.
My God, if thou but one wouldst kill,
    Then straigh would leave my further chase
            This cursed brood
            Inured to blood,
    Whose graceless taunts at thy disgrace
Have aimed oft; and hating still
    Would with proud lies thy truth outface.
Hate not I them, who thee do hate?
    Thine, Lord, I will the censure be.
            Detest I not
            The cankered knot
    Whom I against thee banded see?
O Lord, thou know'st in highest rate
    I hate them all as foes to me.
Search me, my God, and prove my heart,
    Examine me, and try my thought;
            And mark in me
            If ought there be
    That hath with cause their anger wrought.
If not (as not) my life's each part,
    Lord, safely guide from danger brought.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Good Place to Visit

If you have not already done so, take a few moments to visit the website of the Carmelite Nuns of Terre Haute. They've spent a lot of time putting together a lovely and loving website. It's a place of serenity and prayer. If their beautiful site is reflective of their charism overall, Terre Haute is a blessed city.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lowly Pilgrim, Where Have You Gone?

Second day in a row I'm unable to access The Lowly Pilgrim and it's the dreaded URL not found. Please return to us soonest, you're already missed.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 06, 2003

Odd Ways the Holy Spirit Works

When I first started my entry on the Wesley quote below, my intent was to talk about how we should relate to one another when we disagree. You know, the usual spiel you get here from time to time.

Instead it mutated to a reflection on God's Grace, providence, and gifts to us. I was surprised at what resulted.It's amazing what God can do when you just let Him get through the surface armor.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 04:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Unseen Warfare of Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

Another excerpt from Ordinary Graces that spoke to me during reading time this morning:

from Ordinary Graces
compiled by Lorraine Kisly

Those who have realized how dangerous and evil is the life they lead, the devil succeeds in keeping in his power mainly by the following simple but all-powerful suggestion: "Later, later; tomorrow, tomorrow." And the poor sinner, deluded by the appearance of good intention accompanying this suggestion, decides, "Indeed, tomorrow; I shall finish what I have to do, and then, free of all care, will put myself in the hands of Divine grace. . . .

Nothing but negligence and blindness can explain why, when the whole of our salvation and all the glory of God are at stake, we fail to use immediately the most easy and simple and yet the most effective weapon, namely: to say to ourselves resolutely and energetically: "This moment! I shall start spiritual life at this moment and not later, I shall repent now, instead of tomorrow. Now , this moment is in my hands, tomorrow and after is in the hands of God. Even if God will grant me tomorrow and after, can I be sure that I shall have tomorrow the same good thought urging me to mend my ways? . . . Moreover how senseless it is when, for example, a sure remedy is offered for curing one's ills to say: "Wait, let me be sick a little longer."

Praise God in His saints and in His gifts to us through them. Now is the proper time, now is the expedient moment. Now is all there is--the past is gone, the future yet to come, we cannot know what is there--so now is the time for healing and for hope.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Advice for All Christians

from Ordinary Graces
compiled by Lorraine Kisly

Do not condemn or think hardly of those who cannot see just as you see, or who judge it their duty to contradict you, whether in a great thing or a small. I fear some of us have thought hardly of others merely because they contradicted what we affirmed. All this tends to division; and, by every thing of this kind, we are teaching them an evil lesson against ourselves.

O, beware of touchiness, of testiness, not bearing to be spoken to; starting at the least word; and flying from those who do not implicitly receive mine or another's sayings!

Expect contradiction and opposition together with crosses of various kinds. Consider the words of Saint Paul: "To you it is given, in the behalf of Christ [for his sake, as a fruit of his deeds and intercession for you] not only to believe but also to suffer for his sake."

It is given! God gives you this opposition or reproach; it is a fresh token of his love. And will you disown the Giver; or spurn his gift, and count it a misfortune? Will you not rather say, "Father, the hour is come that thou shouldst be glorified; now thou gives thy child to suffer something for thee; do with me according to thy will?" Know that these things, far from being hindrances to the work of God, or to your soul, unless by your own fault are not only unavoidable in the course of providence, but profitable, yea; necessary for you. Therefore receive them from God--not from chance--with willingness, with thankfulness. Receive them from men with humility, meekness, yieldingness, gentleness, sweetness. Why should not even your outward appearance and manner be soft?

--John Wesley

It seems that often we tend to view God as very one sided--He gives only those things that we view with human eyes as good--opposition, crisis, and difficulty come from somewhere else. But they do not--God allows everything that happens to us, He wills, either permissively or ordained, all that occurs. This includes difficulties. Every moment comes from His gracious hand and Paul tells us: "ALL things work to the good of those who love Him." All, not some, not many, not most, but ALL things work to the good of those who love Him. I cannot pretend to know the wisdom of difficulty, the regeneration that comes from crisis--but as I do believe God to be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, I cannot shy away from the fact that what I view as bad as well as what I view as good comes to me from His hands. I can trust that He knows what He is doing, or I can presume to know better. In such circumstance, I prefer to believe that what I experience is for a cause, my own betterment, or the betterment of those around me. I also want to believe that it comes to me from God Himself as a gift, the problem is that some gifts are so terribly difficult to accept and to open.

And that leads us back around to St. Thérèse's little way. Perhaps I need to be like a very small child and upon opening up the gift, play with the wrapping and the package more than the clothing or other unknown and unappealing item within. Let God work His will in me and rejoice in it--a skill to learn and apply.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:07 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 05, 2003

Hallowe'en is Coming

And many of us do not observe the customary celebrations. For those who do not care for the usual fare, you might look into a wonderful picture book for children. The Pumpkin Patch Parable, by Liz Curtis Higgs, a well-known protestant writer, uses the ancient custom of Jack 'O Lanterns and turns it on its head, making it a parable of God's redemption and the action of the Holy Spirit in human life. Recommended.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 10:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Craig Rice

Following on my note of this morning, following on Lee Ann's note, this announcement of the availability of at least the first three or four Craig Rice novels. An American mystery writer of some little talent and a good deal of humor. Now, if only we can start to see Thorne Smith available.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Interblogview--Robert Diaz


Sorry this took so long--having trouble thinking up reasonably good questions.

(1) You seem to be in the process of discerning a vocation. Who have you turned to for help in the discernment process? What would you advise others in a similar situation?

(2) What are you favorite hymns/settings of religious music and why?

(3) What are five books (other than the bible) that have been important in your formation as a Catholic?

(4) In your FAQ, you have an interesting array of films listed as favorites. Is there any common element among them? What makes a good film for you?

(5) What do you think are the most pressing problems for Catholics in the world today, and what is your suggestion for combatting the problems?

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Present Reading List

Okay, so here's a brief list of the books in the batting circle (and that's as close as you're likely to ever see me approach that, or any, organized sport.

Philip Gulley Home to Harmony--Short Story sermons in disguise--much akin to Jan Karon, but to my mind and taste much more readable than Ms. Karon's stuff

Philip Gulley Signs and Wonders--Ditto, saving it's a novel

Robert McCammon--Speaks the Nightbird--a two volume novel after a very long retirement/haitus from the writing world. McCammon was one of my favorite writers of dark fantasy--his Swan's Song was arguably a much more successful rendition of The Stand. Honestly don't how this one will shape up, but I'm hoping for the best.

Lindsey Davis The Silver Pigs--Mystery set in Ancient Rome--lot's of intimate period detail.

Michael Curtis Ford Gods and Legions--A Novel of Julian the Apostate, but the author of The Ten Thousand which was a novel based on Xenophon's Anabasis.

Randy Wayne White Sanibel Flats--a novel acquired this summer while visiting Sanibel--captures a sense of Southwest Florida.

Harry Turtledove--Ruled Britannia--Welcome to post Armada-invasion England. Shakespeare as subversive playright.

Charles Dickens--Bleak House who can forget Jarndyce and Jarndyce? And Mrs. Jellyby.

In the Silence of Solitude compiled by Eugene L. Romano, HBHJ--Desert Fathers and their application to everyday life.

Dwight Longenecker St. Benedict and St. Thérèse: The Little Rule and the Little Way--you've seen enough of that here to get a notion of what it's about

Rick Warren The Purpose Driven Life--for a previously mentioned fellowship group.

On other book notes--a recent entry at Summa Mamas reminded me of how much I really enjoyed Jon Hassler's Staggerford, consulting the local public library listings, I discover that in the entire system there are precisely three volumes--the status of two of which is in doubt. I guess I'm going to have to find some other way to get some of these books. (Oh, and if you're not reading Summa Mamas, you really should be--endless variety and endlessly entertaining.)

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Review-The Quiet Game Greg Iles

It is a pleasure to read insight about the South from someone who has a notion of what it is about. Ignore the fact that his geography of Disney World is completely messed up (the beginning of the book is nearly completely incorrect).

The book focuses on a nearly Faulknerian Southern Family saga, with the additional complication/impetus of a nearly forty year old civil rights era murder. Much better written than most contemporary thrillers, this will provide a couple of hours of entertainment if you've decided to let Dostoevsky rest for a while. Needless to say there is more than one gratuitous sex scenes and other cumbersome and burdensome apparatus of best-seller fodder. I'm tired of it, and I don't usually reward it, but hearing about the south from a southerner made this worthwhile in this limited instance.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A La Recherche du Temps Perdu--A Memento Mori

I use Proust's title because it seems so apropos. This morning I was given the most wonderful possible gift--a sudden, gentle, completely noninvasive, nonfrightening reminder of the evanescence of this existence and the need to keep in mind how time stand still for no one.

As a result of these reflections, it is possible that things here at Flos Carmeli may well change (hopefully for the better) in the near future. I will endeavor to spend more time on things that are of primary importance. I do not know what form this will take, but I must reiterate my heart-felt thanks to the Lord above who granted me a moment of clarity to evaluate how far I've come and how far I have to go. And to quote Frost,

"I've miles to go before I sleep,
and promises to keep. . . "

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Prayer Requests

Please remember the following in your prayer intentions:

--for the family of a woman who recently suffered the loss of a child in the womb that they all may be brought closer together and come to greater love of each other through this great sacrifice.

--great thanks for supplying Gordon with a temporary job, prayers for its continuation, and prayers for safe travel and for his family who will be left behind while he works out the parameters of what's happening.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Books and Book Buying

Ms. Lee Ann, of amazing book consumption lore, posts here a most insightful and amusing insight into her philosophy of book-buying and book owning.

Little does Lee Ann know that I am every bit the book buyer--the problem here is the EXTREMELY limited secondary market. When I lived in Columbus, I had access to several major library sales each year, not to mention a seemingly endless array of second-hand shops--probably part and parcel of living in a major univeristy town. In my present berg I've found one so-so ongoing library sale (although many will be chagrined to learn that I DID buy a copy of The Purpose Driven Life [for a home-fellowship group]) and one nonantiquarian used book shop. So, I haven't the resources Ms Lee Ann has, though she finds that incroyable. Nevertheless, I do my fair share of buying.

And yet, even so, E-books have an appeal that normal books do not. I tend to like to write out lengthy passages of the books I read to note important points. Well, I don't like the copying thing as I am not one of the world's great typists and the handwriting bit means I spend so much time copying it out, I can't possible comment on it, and the whole purpose for keeping the dratted passage should be noted at the time you keep it, and then subsequently commented upon so you have a kind of extended chronoconversation with the piece. The natural advantage of e-books is that it makes such quoting and commenting possible.

That said, the appeal of a find book, well bound and hefty in hand is infinitely finer than the slender stale sandwich of a PDA. But I stand by my choices--I love the ability to carry 40 or 50 books at a time (when I upgrade to the new PDA I'll be carrying as many as 500 or so at a time. (at 100-200K a pop, a 128 meg memory card/stick can hold a goodly number of books--and not all that I want to carry is so large (most of Shakespeare's plays are smaller.) The profound advantage of having a library wheresoever my PDA may be is well worth the tradeoff in sense-luxury.

One final point on e-books--I am able to get a great deal that I really, really like and which has been out of print for a looooong time. I always bring up H. Rider Haggard, but I'm discovering as well some of the lesser known works of Mrs. Gaskell, Wilkie Collins and Charles Reade. Publishers can't make a lot of money on these very limited markets, so they don't publish them.

I recognize the very great chasm between our attitudes. Nevertheless, I do hear where Lee Ann is coming from and I do have a great deal of empathy for the position.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack