May 31, 2016

C Minor by Richard Wilbur

C MINOR
by Richard Wilbur

Beethoven during breakfast? The human soul,
Though stalked by hollow pluckings, winning out
(While bran flakes crackle in the cereal bowl)
Over despair and doubt?

You are right to switch it off and let the day
Begin at hazard, perhaps with pecker-knocks
In the sugar-bush, the rancor of a jay,
Or in the letter box

Something that makes you pause and with fixed shadow
Stand on the driveway gravel, your bent head
Scanning the snatched pages until the sad
Or fortunate news is read.

The day's work will be disappointing or not,
Giving at least some pleasure in taking pains.
One of us, hoeing in the garden plot
(Unless, of course, it rains)

May rejoice at the knitting of light in fennel plumes
And dew like mercury on cabbage hide,
Or rise and pace through too familiar rooms,
Balked and dissatisfied.

Shall a plate be broken? A new thing understood?
Shall we be lonely, and by love consoled?
What shall I whistle, splitting the kindling wood?
Shall the night-wind be cold?

How should I know? And even if we were fated
Hugely to suffer, grandly to endure,
It would not help to hear it all fore-stated
As in an overture.

There is nothing to do with a day except to live it.
Let us have music again when the light dies
(Sullenly, or in glory) and we can give it
Something to organize.

(via Image Journal)

May 25, 2016

Happy 75th Bob Dylan

Love Dylan. Love his music. Love his music covered by others. Happy Birthday, Dylan!

















April 18, 2016

The One Where I Learn About Podcasts












Guys! I was on a podcast! Huge thanks to Sally and Zac Crippen for featuring me on their weekly podcast, VERNACULAR -- we talk about how food is an essential part of culture, we talk about vocation, I go on this weird tangent about Genesis, we learn the word "peripatetic," I try to convince Zach to drink rosé, and I say "so" and "like" way too much

S.3E.5: The One Where We Talk About How Food Makes Us More Human

Thanks so much Zac and Sally! Can't wait to be on the show again. (Can you send boxes of those chocolate chip cookies to all your contributors? They sound AMAZING.)

April 05, 2016

St. Augustine on Psalm 148 for Easter

Our thoughts in this present life should turn on the praise of God, because it is in praising God that we shall rejoice forever in the life to come; and no one can be ready for the next life unless he trains himself for it now. So we praise God during our earthly life, and at the same time we make our petitions to him. Our praise is expressed with joy; our petitions with yearning. We have been promised something we do not yet possess, and because the promise was made by one who keeps his word, we trust him and are glad; but in so far as possession is delayed, we can only long and yearn for it. It is good for us to persevere in longing until we receive what was promised, and yearning is over; then praise alone will remain.

Because there are these two periods of time — the one that now is, beset with the trials and troubles of this life, and the other yet to come, a life of everlasting serenity and joy — we are given to liturgical seasons, one before Easter and the other after. The season before Easter signifies the troubles in which we live here and now, while the time after Easter which we are celebrating at present signifies the happiness which will be ours in the future. What we commemorate before Easter is what we experience in this life; what we celebrate after Easter points to something we do not yet possess. This is why we keep the first season with fasting and prayer; but now the fast is over and we devote the present season to praise. Such is the meaning of the Alleluia we sing.

Both these periods are represented and demonstrated to us in Christ our head. The Lord's passion depicts for us our present life of trial — shows how we must suffer and be afflicted and finally die. The Lord's resurrection and glorification show us the life that will be given to us in the future.

Now therefore, brethren, we urge you to praise God. That is what we are all telling each other when we say Alleluia. You say to your neighbor "Praise the Lord!" And he says the same to you. We are all urging one another to praise the Lord, and thereby doing what each of us urges the other to do. But see that your praises come from your whole being; in other words, that you praise God not with your lips and voices alone, but with your minds and lives and all your actions.

We are praising God now, assembled as we are here in this church; but when we go on our various ways again, it seems as if we cease to praise God. But provided we do not cease to live a good life, we shall always be praising God. You cease to praise God only when you swerve from justice and from what is pleasing to God. If you never turn away from the good life, your tongue maybe silent but your actions will cry aloud, and God will perceive your intentions; for as our ears hear each other's voices, so to gods years here are thoughts.
— Sermon of Saint Augustine on Psalm 148 for the feast of Easter.

February 23, 2016

POETRY: Lying by Richard Wilbur












LYING

By Richard Wilbur

To claim, at a dead party, to have spotted a grackle,
When in fact you haven’t of late, can do no harm.
Your reputation for saying things of interest
Will not be marred, if you hasten to other topics,
Nor will the delicate web of human trust
Be ruptured by that airy fabrication.
Later, however, talking with toxic zest
Of golf, or taxes, or the rest of it
Where the beaked ladle plies the chuckling ice,
You may enjoy a chill of severance, hearing
Above your head the shrug of unreal wings.
Not that the world is tiresome in itself:
We know what boredom is: it is a dull
Impatience or a fierce velleity,
A champing wish, stalled by our lassitude,
To make or do. In the strict sense, of course,
We invent nothing, merely bearing witness
To what each morning brings again to light:
Gold crosses, cornices, astonishment
Of panes, the turbine-vent which natural law
Spins on the grill-end of the diner’s roof,
Then grass and grackles or, at the end of town
In sheen-swept pastureland, the horse’s neck
Clothed with its usual thunder, and the stones
Beginning now to tug their shadows in
And track the air with glitter. All these things
Are there before us; there before we look
Or fail to look; there to be seen or not
By us, as by the bee’s twelve thousand eyes,
According to our means and purposes.
So too with strangeness not to be ignored,
Total eclipse or snow upon the rose,
And so with that most rare conception, nothing.
What is it, after all, but something missed?
It is the water of a dried-up well
Gone to assail the cliffs of Labrador.
There is what galled the arch-negator, sprung
From Hell to probe with intellectual sight
The cells and heavens of a given world
Which he could take but as another prison:
Small wonder that, pretending not to be,
He drifted through the bar-like boles of Eden
In a black mist low creeping, dragging down
And darkening with moody self-absorption
What, when he left it, lifted and, if seen
From the sun’s vantage, seethed with vaulting hues.
Closer to making than the deftest fraud
Is seeing how the catbird’s tail was made
To counterpoise, on the mock-orange spray,
Its light, up-tilted spine; or, lighter still,
How the shucked tunic of an onion, brushed
To one side on a backlit chopping-board
And rocked by trifling currents, prints and prints
Its bright, ribbed shadow like a flapping sail.
Odd that a thing is most itself when likened:
The eye mists over, basil hints of clove,
The river glazes toward the dam and spills
To the drubbed rocks below its crashing cullet,
And in the barnyard near the sawdust-pile
Some great thing is tormented. Either it is
A tarp torn loose and in the groaning wind
Now puffed, now flattened, or a hip-shot beast
Which tries again, and once again, to rise.
What, though for pain there is no other word,
Finds pleasure in the cruellest simile?
It is something in us like the catbird’s song
From neighbor bushes in the grey of morning
That, harsh or sweet, and of its own accord,
Proclaims its many kin. It is a chant
Of the first springs, and it is tributary
To the great lies told with the eyes half-shut
That have the truth in view: the tale of Chiron
Who, with sage head, wild heart, and planted hoof
Instructed brute Achilles in the lyre,
Or of the garden where we first mislaid
Simplicity of wish and will, forgetting
Out of what cognate splendor all things came
To take their scattering names; and nonetheless
That matter of a baggage-train surprised
By a few Gascons in the Pyrenees
Which, having worked three centuries and more
In the dark caves of France, poured out at last
The blood of Roland, who to Charles his king
And to the dove that hatched the dove-tailed world
Was faithful unto death, and shamed the Devil.

January 22, 2016

Who I'm Fighting For


WHO I'M FIGHTING FOR
One third of my generation was killed by abortion. May the same not be true of these, my friends' children. May they know a world of joy and peace, a world where every life is cherished.

Angelica, Zita, Julia, Ronia, and Ida, Edmund, James, and Nora, Lucy, Alice, and Robert, Montsy and Cecily, Augustine, Maximilian, and Thomas, Gretta, Knox, and Simone, Maximilian, Abigail, and Charles, Xavier, Markos and Mirabelle, Alexander and Adaryn, Madeleine, Penelope, and Eloise, Noémie, Cordelia, and Jonas, Hugh, Gregory, Margaret, Edith, William, Alexander, and Zelir, Timmy, Henry, and Zachary, and Lucy, Isaac and William, Gianna and Dominic, William, Hugh, Mattias, Raphael, and Mio, Sophia, Timothy, Genivieve and Violette, Kathleen, Emily, John Paul, and Monica, Owen, Emma, Johnny, Bella, Dominic, and Samuel, Alexandra and Isaac, Gabriel and Dominic, Ava, Avila, and Maxon, Frederick and John, Olivia, Gianna, and Maria, Adelaide, Clarence, and Eloise, Dairinne, Sarah, Grace, Emma, and Danny, Victor, Karl, Henry, Vincent, and Frederick, Hannah, Natalia, and Lucia, Emma and Corinne, Marianne, Anne, Clare, Maxwell, Cordelia, Raphael, Benedict, Simeon, and Felicity, Macie, Magnus, Aerland, and Hilja, Bertie, Edith, and Vincent, Abigail, Cordelia, Felicity, and Anastasia, Maria and Aurelia, William, Joseph, Gemma, Paul, and Dominic, Kolbe, Lucia, and Blaise, Sebastian, Evelyn, and Cecilia, Anna, Philip, Molly, and Nora, Nick, Patrick, Bailey, Maddy, Grant, Grace, and William, Caroline, James, Alexander, Kristiana, Anne, and Lucy, Claire, Eve, Luke, Liam, Ignatius, Lucy and Margaret, Gerard, Philip, Sotera, Mary Margaret and Lillian, Tessa and Daniel, Anne, Joseph, Julian, Francis Xavier and Isaac, Alex, Michael, Caitlin, and Joshua, Chloe, Hannah, Alastair and Aibhilin, Joseph, Ambrose, and Gussie, Nate, William Augustine, Stella and Max, Ambrose, Augustine and Peter, Jack and Ana, Savannah and Langdon, Dorothy, Inez and Vinny, Claire and Adam, Ava, Dominic, Paul, Mark, David, Gabriel, Gerard, Matthew, Frederick and John, Charlotte, Chase, and Camden, Evangelina and Eamon, Sylvia, Timothy, Ambrose, Miriam, Cecelia, Jude, Hanna, Gabriel, Dorothy, Maria Stella, Adelaide, Victoria, Becket, Charlie, Rafael, Lillian, Charles, George, Rosalie, Abhilin and Cillian, Vincent, Esther and Theodore, Catherine, Luisa, Miriam, Isaac, Julia Marie, Evelyn, Jackson, Lucy and Magdalena, Frederick and Desmond, Esther, Grace Lynn, and Archimedes, Esther, Caleb, Charlotte, Irene, Logan and Deagan,  plus 15 babies in utereo.



Thus says the LORD: 
"A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are not." 

Thus says the LORD: "Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.

There is hope for your future, says the LORD, and your children shall come back to their own country.
- Jeremiah, 31:15-17


December 19, 2015

Two Poems for Advent by Scott Cairns






Christmas Green

Just now the earth recalls His stunning visitation. Now
the earth and scattered habitants attend to what is possible: that He
of a morning entered this, our meagered circumstance, and so
relit the fuse igniting life in them, igniting life in all the dim
surround. And look, the earth adopts a kindly áffect. Look,
we almost see our long estrangement from it overcome.
The air is scented with the prayer of pines, the earth is softened
for our brief embrace, the fuse continues bearing to all elements
a curative despite the grave, and here within our winter this,
the rising pulse, bears still the promise of our quickening.



Overshadowing

Deep within the clay, and O my people
very deep within the wholly earthen
compound of our kind arrives of one clear,
star-illumined evening a spark igniting
once again the ember of our lately
banked noetic fire. She burns but she
is not consumed. The dew falls gently,
suffusing the pure fleece. Her human flesh
adorns its Lord, and lo, the wall comes down.
And -- do you feel the pulse? -- we all become
the kindled kindred of a King whose birth
thereafter bears to all a bright nativity.


by Scott Cairns

December 17, 2015

February 17, 2015

Ratzinger on Mardi Gras

Fasching—Mardi gras—is certainly not a Church festival. Yet on the other hand, it is unthinkable apart from the Church’s calendar. Thus if we reflect on its origin and significance, it can contribute to our understanding of faith. Fasching has many roots, Jewish, pagan and Christian, and all three point to something common to men of all times and places.

But behind this exuberant, worldly feast, there is also an awareness of that temporal rhythm which was given classical expression in the Book of Ecclesiastes: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted; …a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance”. Not everything is appropriate at all times, man needs a rhythm, and the year gives him this rhythm, both through creation and through the history that faith sets forth in the yearly cycle.

This brings us to the Church’s year, which enables man to go through the whole history of salvation in step with the rhythm of creation, simultaneously ordering and purifying the chaotic multiplicity of our nature. Nothing human is omitted from this cycle of creation and history, and only in this way can all human reality, its dark side and its light side, the world of sense and the world of spirit, be saved.

Let us go back to think about the roots of Fasching. As well as the Jewish, there is the pagan prehistory whose fierce and menacing stare at us in the masks worn in Alpine, Swabian, and Alemannic parts of Germany.

At this point we can observe something of great significance: in the Christian world the demonic mask becomes a light-hearted masquerade, the life-and-death struggle with the demons becomes fun and merriment prior to the seriousness of Lent. This masquerade shows us something we can often see in the psalms and in the prophets: it becomes a mocking of the gods, who no longer need to be feared by those who know the true God. To that extent, Fasching actually does contain elements of Christian liberation, the freedom of the One God, perfecting that freedom commemorated in the Jewish feast of Purim.

In the end, however, we are faced with a question: Do we still enjoy this freedom? Or is it not a fact that, ultimately, we would like to free ourselves from God, from creation and from faith, in order to be totally free? And is not the consequence of this that we are once again handed over to the gods, to commercial forces, to greed, to public opinion? God is not the enemy of our freedom but its ground. That is something we ought to relearn in these days. Only love that is almighty can ground a joy that is free from anxiety.

—Joseph Ratzinger

All the same, dear Pope Benedict, I'm going to have a Sazerac tonight and several bowls full of beignets! HT: John Herreid

January 22, 2015

Who I'm fighting for



One third of my generation was killed by abortion. May the same not be true of these,
my friends' children. May they know a world of joy and peace, a world where every life is cherished.
 
Angelica, Zita, Julia, and Ronia, Edmund and James, Lucy, Alice, and Robert, Montsy and Cecily, Gretta, Knox, and Simone, Maximilian, Abigail, and Charles, Xavier, Markos and Mirabelle, 
Alexander and Adaryn, Madeleine and Penelope, Augustine and Maximilian, Noémie and Cordelia, Hugh, Gregory, Margaret, Edith, William, and Alexander, Timmy, Henry, and Zachary, and Lucy, Isaac and William, Gianna and Dominic, William, Hugh, Mattias, and Raphael, Sophia, Timothy, Genivieve and Violette, Kathleen, Emily, John Paul, and Monica, Owen, Emma, Johnny, Bella, Dominic, and Samuel, Alexandra and Isaac, Gabriel and Dominic, Ava, Avila, and Maxon, Frederick and John, Olivia, Gianna, and Maria, Adelaide, Clarence, and Eloise, Dairinne, Sarah, Grace, Emma, and Danny, Victor, Karl, Henry, Vincent, and Frederick, Hannah, Natalia, and Lucia, Emma and Corinne, Marianne, Anne, Clare, Maxwell, Cordelia, Raphael, Benedict, Simeon, and Felicity, Macie, Magnus, Aerland, and Hilja, Bertie, Edith, and Vincent, Abigail, Cordelia, Felicity, and Anastasia, Maria and Aurelia, Joseph, Gemma, Paul, and Dominic, Kolbe, Lucia, and Blaise, Sebastian, Evelyn, and Cecilia, Anna, Philip, and Mary, Nick, Patrick, Bailey, Maddy, Grant, and Grace, Caroline, James, Alexander, Kristiana, Anne, and Lucy, Claire, Eve, Luke, Liam, Ignatius, Lucy and Margaret, Gerard, Philip, Sotera, Mary Margaret and Lillian, Tessa and Daniel, Anne, Joseph, Julian, Francis Xavier and Isaac, Alex, Michael, Caitlin, and Joshua, Chloe, Hannah, Alastair and Aibhilin, Joseph, Ambrose, and Gussie, Nate, William Augustine, Stella and Max, Ambrose, Augustine and Peter, Jack and Ana, Savannah and Langdon, Dorothy, Inez, Claire and Adam, Ava, Dominic, Paul, Mark, David, Gabriel, Gerard, Matthew, Frederick and John, Evangelina, Sylvia, Timothy, Ambrose, Miriam, Cecelia, Jude, Hanna, Gabriel, Dorothy, Maria Stella, Adelaide, Victoria, Becket, Charlie, Rafael, Lillian, Charles, George, Rosalie, Abhilin and Cillian, Vincent, Esther, Catherine, Luisa, Miriam, Isaac, Julia Marie, Evelyn, Jackson, Lucy and Magdalena, Frederick, Esther, Grace Lynn, and many more!


Thus says the LORD: 
"A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are not." 

Thus says the LORD:
"Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears;
for your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD,
and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.

There is hope for your future, says the LORD,
and your children shall come back to their own country.
- Jeremiah, 31:15-17  
  

November 12, 2014

Winter is icumin in - Ezra Pound





Winter is icumin in
Lhude sing Goddamn,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing; Goddamn.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham
Damn you, Sing, Goddamn.

Goddamn, Goddamn, 'tis why I am,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamn, damn, sing goddamn,
Sing goddamn, sing goddamn, DAMN!

- Ezra Pound
(via Mr. F.)

October 30, 2014

Clippings: Orange October!

Another Orange October! Giants win the World Series, and (here's the real headline), my mother emails me a play-by-play of the last inning. Thank you, Giants, for finally converting my mother into a baseball fan, after 30 years of resistance. Full coverage in the Chronicle.

During a strike in 1978, some clever folks produced Not the New York Times. How delightful! (The Paris Review)

"Love of God and love of neighbour, then, are presented to the Christian as a coherent single object of faith." Fr. James on last Sunday's Gospel and the Synod (Thine Own Service)

A simple and delightful fall cocktail (Joy the Baker)

First Listen: Bob Dylan Bootleg Series 11 (NPR)

37 Best Restaurants in Washington woot! woot! (WaPo)


"I asked how he was feeling. 'I’m well rested now,' he said, and waited a beat. 'But I miss being tired.'" -- from a review of the new James Brown documentaryMr. Dynamite (NYT)

One of these days I'll get around to writing out my thoughts on Andy Warhol. (I do love him, you know.) But till then, more fodder for the discussion: The Faith of Andy Warhol (Real Clear Politics)

Tim Stanley is in town, and writing about all our crazies in next week's election. (The Telegraph)

The macabre doodles of William Mackpeace Thackery (The Paris Review)

All 71 costumes in the opening credits of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (Buzzfeed Life)

LITURGIES THIS WEEKEND:

FRIDAY: All Saint's Vigil at the Dominican House of Studies. Best event every year, and it breaks my heart to miss it this year. Insider tip: go early & sit upstairs in the loft. 

SATURDAY: Solemn High Mass for All Saints at Holy Comforter / St. Cyprian

SUNDAY: Requiem Mass in the Ordinariate Use (music: Fauré's Requiem) at St. Luke's Ordinariate, in Immaculate Conception Church, 8th & N Streets, NW, Washington DC. And St. Stephen Martyr Parish is doing Fauré's Requiem Mass as well at their 11 o'clock high-Mass.

(It's pretty awesome to have All Souls on a Sunday so we get to have requiem masses!)

And, last but not least: If you don't have plans this Saturday, why not venture out to rural Virginia for this River Valley Festival? It sounds wonderful! (Wish I could go, myself!)





October 17, 2014

A Meme!



Yesterday I was thinking I should post something personal, but goodness knows there is not enough time to reflect, let alone write something lucid and entertaining and engaging. But then Ann kindly tagged me in a 10 random questions thingy, and I bit.

1. What’s the most recent book you’ve read that you would actually recommend?
Gaudy Night, and really the whole Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane series from start to finish. She does something incredible with these. The first (Strong Poison) is a classic Wimsey mystery, but there is something stirring way down deep inside the character of Wimsey, that Sayers may not quite be able to contain. The second, Have his Carcase is fun and slightly frivolous. The third, Gaudy Night, stands on it's own as a profound mystery -- dealing with graver issues -- not that murder isn't grave, but English murder mysteries are almost quaint at times, whereas this is dealing with psychosis and social issues. It does so deftly and thrillingly; and by the end of it, we've seen the depth of Harriet Vane, and love her as Peter does. The Fourth, Busman's Holiday, we see a new side of Peter -- the side we always suspected was there but didn't have quite clear enough vision. As one of my commenters said, it is one of the most romantic books I've ever read.

2. What’s up next on you Netflix cue?
Hmmm. Been re-watching Parks and Recreation on Hulu. Netflix no longer has a true queue, but here's a good sampling: 20 Feet from Stardom (which is supposed to be incredible, it's a about the women who sang back-up for rock stars in the 60s and 70s), The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, every Marx Brothers film available, and most classic British mysteries and comedies, most of which I've seen, but I always want to see again.

3. Favorite season and why?
Let me quote the Green Lady in Perelandra: "The fruit we are eating is always best of all." -- I love all the seasons, when I am in the midst of them. I will say though: I don't love the transition. When summer is leaving, but there are none of the pleasures of fall (color, crispness in the air, clear days and cool nights) I yearn for sunshine and (yes, even) humidity. The only exception is spring, where the transition IS the season, and I love every moment of it (so I guess Spring is my true favorite).

4. If there was one professional sport you could banish from all the land, what would it be? Elaborate.
Football. As George Will says "Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings." (Plus the worst aspects of modern American culture: loud and unsubstantial television commentary and aggressive advertisements.)

5. You go to your mom’s house. She says she’ll make you anything for dinner. What do you ask for?
Steak Candy. It's grilled skirt steak with a really marvelous BBQ sauce. But she cannot make it anymore because our back yard is too windy for a grill to work. I've never been able to recreate it.

6. What game did you play the most as a child (this could be an imaginary play game, board or card game, or outside game).
Hmmmm. Mom and Dad love strategic and long games like Risk, so we couldn't really play till we were older. There was this one farm-game that was sort of like Monopoly, only way more complicated, and we would bring it out play for a few hours, and then write down meticulously what all we had and put it away, and take it out again a few months (or a year) later, and continue. I'm pretty sure we never finished that first game. My personal favorite game is Taboo. And the only pretend game that my siblings and I could play for any period of time without arguing was lego village, where we'd each play with our own legos, creating a village of sorts (the sort of village that had spaceships alongside pizza parlors along side beach houses alongside pirate ships alongside ski resorts alongside medieval castles, of course).

7. What’s your worst Internet habit?
Watching Parks and Recreation when I get home LATE from work, instead of going straight to bed.

8. Chore that you would happily pass along to someone else given the chance?
Mambo said about me once: "Laundry is your albatros."

9. Fall is the season of the scary movie. Are you for scary-scary or not?
No.

10. You have a Saturday available to you with no responsibilities (work, children, etc.) and all to yourself. What do you do?
Goodness, it's been so so so so so so so long since I've had a Saturday off... Assuming I didn't got to bed at 2 am the night before (because of work), I'd: get up early, make coffee, and read for a bit in the morning. Go to the Farmer's market by 9 (so the good stuff is still there), and pick up a croissant on the way. Come home and cook something with the market goodies. I'd go out for the afternoon: museum, hiking, to the river, book in hand, stop in a coffee shop. Dinner with friends (out or at home), and a nightcap at home, which usually means staying up and talking for hours.