What shall I say about the Irish?
The utterly impractical, never predictable
Something irascible, quite inexplicable Irish.
Strange blend of shyness, pride and conceit,
And stubborn refusal to bow in defeat.
He’s spoiling and ready to argue and fight,
Yet the smile of a child fills his soul with delight.
His eyes are the quickest to well up in tears,
Yet his strength is the strongest to banish your fears.
His faith is as fierce as his devotion is grand,
And there’s no middle ground on which he will stand.
He’s wild and he’s gentle.
He’s good and he’s bad.
He’s proud and he’s humble.
He’s happy and he’s sad.
He’s in love with the ocean, the earth and the skies.
He’s enamored with beauty wherever it lies.
He’s victor and victim, a star and a clod,
But mostly he’s Irish in love with his God.
Now I’m not full-blooded Irish (half of me is Cajun, along with some other bits thrown in there), but I’d like to think that this poem captures the Irish spirit well…
Pax et bonum!
PS: If anyone knows the source of this, I would be very grateful if you sent me a message…
“You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do.You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but also in conversations with those he cares nothing about, on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say…’I now see that I spent most my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.’” -C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Replace the “dead fire” with the glow of a computer screen, and Wormwood has described today’s situation with astute clarity. How often do we while away the time we have, of which we do not even know the final amount, engaging in really pointless activities? You see, in today’s world we have so many modern tools that have made communication so much easier, but these tools can be misused! Do we sit staring at Facebook for hours really for no reason at all, or is it used to keep up with friends and family, to connect to others, as it is meant to be used? OK, I understand that in the case of Facebook, the true purpose of it may in fact be generating advertising revenue for Zuckerberg and Company, but that’s a whole different matter entirely.
I think you get my point, however. Do we use our time wisely? Do we use it serving God and others, or ourselves? At the end of the day do we simply look back and realize that our it was spent in a sort of haze? I realize that we must take time for ourselves, but in the spirit of the great Benedictine ideal, everything in moderation! All that said, one of my favorite quotes is from St. Irenaeus of Lyon: “The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God.” Are we fully alive, or do we let idle periods and activities take up our time, talent, and treasure?
Yes, we must be judicious with our time. We need to be responsible so that we do not lose track of this precious commodity that we cannot get back. This includes some planning. In this planning, however, there must be room for flexibility and an openness for God’s grace to work in unknown ways in our lives. In other words, we need to try our best to organize our time well, but also stay open to the adventure that is life.
While I wont make this a “New Years Resolution” since I personally think that these “resolutions” are often discarded quickly, I will try to make it a goal to utilize the precious gift of my time in a more worthwhile manner so that I may try to give glory to Him above all else. Will I fall? Of course I will. I need to at least reach for this goal though, and rely on His grace. We all need to strive towards Him.
As the New Year dawns, how will you use your time?
Now excuse me while I go check Facebook for the 2,374,956th time today…
And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:6-14)
So here we find ourselves this night, gazing upon this little Child. The Child that means peace and salvation for all. So innocent and helpless, and yet the Creator of the universe. Truly a miracle.
When this post is published, I will be sitting in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament with a friend, waiting for Midnight mass to commence (gotta love technology – I am actually writing this on the 23rd). I must admit that this Advent and now Christmas season has been full of ups and downs. There have been great joys and a few trials. Difficult decisions, and unremitting peace. This season has held special meaning for me in so many different ways, many of which I may not yet realize or understand.
But faced with this little Child before us, everything is naught, for here we find the true meaning of life.
Some see Christmas as a time for gift giving. Others see it as an opportunity to be with family and friends. Still others see it as a time to promote peace and unity. All of these are good and noble ideals behind the meaning of Christmas. But they only lead to the true meaning of Christmas: Jesus Christ. In this small Child laying in the manger, we find the meaning of the entire universe.
But here’s the kicker: we need not realize the true meaning of Christmas only during this time of year! This Child is always with us. He remains with us through our successes and failures. He is there at our greatest heights, as well as our lowest depths. When we fall, this small Child remains with us, taking our place so that we may stand back up and draw closer to true Love.
The true meaning of Christmas is Love. The Love that is this Child, the Love that places itself on the Cross so that we may live. This is a Love that is fierce, passionate, and unrelenting. This is the Love that we must all strive towards, both in our journey towards God and neighbor. This Divine Love found in the Triune Life, seen this night in this small helpless Child, who also happens to be the Creator Himself, must overtake all of us; we must allow Him to overtake us, so that He may shine in all of our actions not only today, but every day of our lives.
Merry Christmas! Know that you remain in my prayers, and please pray for me as well.
On a side note, I highly recommend checking out more of Dr. Tyson’s work. I may disagree with him in regards to religion, but as far as astrophysics goes, he is humorous and engaging, bringing difficult concepts to the people and enlivening their interest in the development of science and technology.
Anyways, on to the point at hand…
I came from a New Age and Pagan background before being baptized in 2005, and so I am well versed in a lot of these subjects. Planet Nibiru/X, the shift to a higher consciousness, psychic energies, and enlightenment in the “aquarian” sense were all very much a part of my life and study for several years. I devoured any books that I could find, and I really believed some of this stuff. Coast to Coast AM was my favorite radio show (actually, I do still listen to it except when there are more…outlandish…guests on the air).
But I eventually found that these theories did not hold up. They did not make sense. There was no “proof” to their validity. Around the same time, I came in contact with the Church, and while that is a much more in depth story, the rest is, as they say, history. In fact, it was my love of subjects such as theoretical physics and quantum theory that helped to draw me closer to the faith. In their beauty, I found the imprint of the Creator of the Universe. I found real Truth in the Faith.
But I digress, as usual. I can hear some people now: “Well Catholicism doesn’t have proof either!” No, it doesn’t. At least not the empirical evidence that our society seeks. The evidence is there, if one is willing to open his or her heart to it. Picking up a history book or two doesn’t hurt either. In the case of the Doomsday supporters, however, there is literally no evidence. Everything they have put forward has been disproven and is not well-researched. The Mayan calendar ending? That’s just a coincidence. The Mayans themselves didn’t believe that the world would end. The alignment with the galactic core? As Dr. Tyson points out, that happens every year. Planet X? There is not a shred of gravitational or other types of evidence to say that there is a rogue planet barreling down on us right now. Besides, we would have already felt the effects of it (extreme tides submerging San Francisco, anyone?).
We need to stop worrying about all of these end-times theories Only the Lord knows when the world will end. What we must worry about is our lives as they are right now. Are we striving to love God and neighbor? Do we reach out to others, and work to deepen our relationship with Him? All of our actions, even the most mundane daily activities, should strive toward these goals, toward this Love.
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matt. 24:36-44)
My prophecy? Just like thisguy, the doomsday prophets will pull back and make new “predictions” on December 22. May the Lord grant us the grace to seek Him in all things…
It is a bit unfair – and frankly rather illogical – to expect one artistic medium to be able to express itself in the way that another does. King David, after all, was a real person, who lived a long time ago, and his deeds are described in the Bible. That, in itself, is an interpretation of his life through the inspired Scriptures. Do we complain that Michelangelo or Bernini’s statues are unfair representations of David, because they do not actually move? Do we whine because paintings of David by artists like Castagno or Caravaggio do not speak?
Many people criticize Peter Jackson for needlessly cutting up Tolkien’s masterpiece. There are times when I have made the same arguments. I first read The Hobbit when I was 7 or 8, and then The Lord of the Rings late middle school. Ever since then, I have had a sort of…love affair…with Middle-Earth. Tolkien’s work has had a very meaningful part in my life, and when I converted to Catholicism, a faith to which Tolkien was ardently devoted, it took on even more meaning for me.
I understand that some people might be upset. When I watched The Hobbit last Sunday with wonderful friend (movies are, after all, best enjoyed in the company of such people), I noticed that there were a few more departures from the book than I expected. I wished this or that could have been left in, etc. etc. But you know what? It was a darn good movie. Just as I understand why Jackson left out Tom Bombadil in the LOTR movies (in the cinematic medium, that part of the story would have felt long and disjointed; in the book it was excellent), I can see why Jackson made certain changes om this current film.
Do I agree with all of divergent points between the books and movies? No, of course not. These movies, however, are not mine. They were created by Peter Jackson, who has his own vision of Middle-Earth, which I am sure is very different from my own. I do think, however, that irregardless of differences from the text, they are very good indeed, and I will be seeing the next two on their own opening weekends. And you know what? I think Tolkien would agree with these sentiments. I also believe that these movies, along with the LOTR Trilogy, Narnia films, and Harry Potter series, serve as an excellent way to lead people back to the original texts, causing them to create their own visions of these worlds. That is certainly a good thing!
In time I will post a proper introduction, either here or I have posted a proper introduction on the About page, but now there are far more important matters to deal with…
All of you have no doubt heard about and felt the effects of the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary. In the wake of that horrible day, there is discussion about gun control and mental health issues. The victims, those brave adults and innocent children, are being remembered. But how can God allow something like this to happen?
I don’t know. There. I said it. I simply do not know. Things like this are mysteries, with a capital “M”. The mystery of iniquity is a reality which humanity has been struggling with since our race came into existence. While I do not know the answer to these questions, I do know that our Lord is a loving God. We may not understand the world, but He truly is in control. I think that it is said particularly well by C. S. Lewis, in his book A Case for Christianity:
God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.
Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk. (…) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.
And so there we have it: free will, our greatest gift, can also be our greatest burden, and in some cases, curse. How do we utilize our free will? Love of self, or love of others and God? Do we see it as the gift that it is, or do we abuse it, tossing it away, like so many other forgotten gifts?
In these final days leading to the Nativity of the One that brings peace to all, let us remember all those victims in our prayers. May they rest in peace in the eternal light of the Father. May the families have consolation, and eventually, come to peace and see God in all of this, a difficult task to be sure. Let us pray for all of those that struggle with mental illness, as well as their care-takers. Finally, and I realize that some people may not appreciate this sentiment, but let us also pray for the soul of the attacker, who was created by God just like the rest of us.
We may not have answers. But we do have Him, and that’s the best possible thing we can have.