Posted by: Peadar Ban | July 9, 2014

Italy: A Vacation Which Became A Pilgrimage (Part Two)

What Started Out As… 

The reader will recall that my wife and I had been thinking seriously about taking a cruise in the western Mediterranean; a week long cruise which left from Civitavecchia and made a large circle through that part of the wide world to Livorno, Cannes, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, and Naples before returning to Civitavecchia a week later.  Like most such cruises one spent at least part of a day in each port.  Typically, that meant a mad dash through throngs of peddlers to where the real shopping was; with time enough, if one was lucky, for a few cool ones and a dish of the local gruel while sitting at a less than completely crowded seaside cafe before the whistle blew and we all left Dodge.

These things are really like appetizers, introductions, though I well know there’s a considerable crowd of folks who think  it’s really the things to do.  Having spent seven hours in Spain, they have “done” it, and can add it to the score sheet, the ledger.  What matters most, I suppose, are the buffets, shows and casinos on board, and the stories you can tell around the grill.

I suppose.

We were interested for some of those reasons, of course.  For a while I’d been curious to see what went on beyond the three mile limit. And, to be honest, we did indeed want a peek at some of the places the ship would visit, a life-sized, real life peek.  Our trip up the Rhine a couple of years ago had given us a plate full of “starters” for places I hadn’t really payed much attention to before.  We both wanted to build on that.  Besides, Mariellen herself was eager to spend some time at sea, really at sea.  I would have taken a tug along the same course for that opportunity.

What we would get was a huge thing with 15 or 16 decks, and all the trimmings.  But, more on that later.

With the reservations made we realized that we had Rome on each end of the cruise, waiting.  What could we do there?  We had, after all, just laid out the price of two seats on the 50 yard line at the Stupid Bowl, or darn near it, for a week among several thousand of our closest friends, emphasis on the close.   Over the course of the next few weeks “there” became quite a few places spread across the peninsula from Rome to Milan.  We dreamed aloud, and wished to each other of where and how, and how long.  She set to work, she did, and planned a perfect itinerary for us.  What had started out as a week on the water, and two half days getting there and getting back home became almost a month before and after that trip; a month, almost, by train;  zig-zagging from Milan to Venice, and then to Florence, Siena, Assisi and Rome.

Rome, being Rome, was special.  We decided to spend five days there before the trip and another eight days there after it was over, trading our sea legs for our land legs.  Well, the decision really wasn’t like that.  Mariellen said something like “Dear, do you think it would be good to…”  And I said something like, “That sounds good. ”  Sometimes I said, “Why not?”  Often I simply said, “O.K.”   I don’t think I ever said “Make it so.”  I know I thought of saying it once or twice, but I have been a husband long enough to know not to be so cavalier about my safety.

Two things really impressed me during the several months that she worked on building this excursion: It was her idea, I am pretty sure, to travel by rail once we had gotten over there; except, of course, when we would be on board our cruise ship.  I never said it aloud, but the idea of driving in Italy gave me nightmares.  Actually having seen  what driving in Italy really was like still gives me nightmares.  Finally, it was her idea to arrange for us to fly into Zurich on Icelandic Air, and return home via Aer Lingus with a stop-over in Dublin.  That was because they were the cheapest fares.

There was another reason for Zurich as our port of entry:  She really wanted to fly into Switzerland because that would mean we could connect with Milan via a scenic rail trip through the Alps. We had spent a day in Lucerne at the end of our river cruise, famous for cheese, wine and a big lake beneath some bigger mountains, and had seen the mountains for exactly twenty minutes.  Someone had drawn the drapes of thick clouds that covered them, a mercy that allowed us the merest peak at their snow robed majesties.  It was good advertising, anyway, because we immediately wanted more.

So, when Mariellen discovered this “little engine that could trip” through the mountains that would drop us on Italy’s northern frontier after four hours through troll country in terms that made it sound like a once in a lifetime thing my first thought was, “How many times can you do that?”  Telling me all about it, and showing it to me on the map allowed me to say, “Gee, that sounds great.”

Turns out, I was right.

Well the thing took shape bit by bit over the next month or so.  Every couple of days, it became more real as she’d report on another reservation made in another place, travel to another city via another train, some of them very new, clean and zippy things with more legroom than I’ve ever experienced, enough room for another two legs if I needed them; some of them tired old work horses “gaily” decorated, lamentably, with what seems to have become the major form of artistic expression in Europe, graffiti.  (Put your money in spray paint producers over there.) I’ll confess that as this happened and Mariellen began to get more excited about it, and as I did too, I also began to get a little apprehensive; especially I felt this way after my birthday.  I was now 72, and beginning to feel it

Silly me.  She had that covered, too.  We began training twice a week at a nearby gym.  Mountains?  Bring ‘em!

Posted by: Peadar Ban | June 30, 2014

Italy: A Vacation That Became A Pilgrimage (Part One)

A Steal of A Deal:

We had returned from our two weeks in Ireland and Germany, parts of which I have told about here ( and not finished telling ) over the past dozen or so months. Winter was settling in with all of winter’s gifts…and woes.  And Mariellen, God bless her, was exploring ways in which we might put it all behind us.  I remained in blithe ignorance of her secret plans and plots; except for the occasional snatch of conversation, that is.  “We had such a wonderful time in Ireland with Carolyn, and wasn’t the week in Cologne and Strasbourg just great?  Where do you think we ought to go next, Dear?”  She would put the question innocently enough, and just as innocently, I would answer without any thought of cost, logistics, planning or execution.

My idea of doing something like what we had just done is along the lines of most ideas I have.  Should I ever be placed in charge of planning something great, like a Presidential Inauguration or a Pontifical High Mass in St. Peter’s I would simply tell folks, “Show up at about 11:00am.  Things should be over at about 1:00pm.  Then we’ll go downstairs for some sandwiches and beer.  No shorts or bare feet.”  Had I planned the Normandy Invasion, a mob of us would have kicked in the door early one morning, and beat the snot out of everyone….in Peoria, I suppose.

Mariellen’s different.  Her Normandy would have taken place after Mass on a sunny day in May.  The Other Guys, having been properly informed of an invasion, would have welcomed us on the beach with some cold cuts and cheese, beer for the enlisted swine and chilled Riesling for the officers; then they would have cheerfully surrendered Europe and gone marching home.  Of course I’m exaggerating, but only a little bit.  The rain does indeed never fall until after sundown when my wife plans.  Her predecessor was of the same smoothly efficient character.  It was Sheila who taught me about “hospital corners”.  Before meeting her I’d as soon have stuffed an undershirt between the mattress and box spring as the edge of a sheet.

Anyway, a week or so after this short exchange, Mariellen wondered aloud if we should think about taking a cruise.  And I wondered right back at her.  Where, my wondering led me to mention, would the cruise take us?  Then she said she had found a very good deal on Norwegian Cruise lines for a 7 day cruise around the western Mediterranean.

Full disclosure, here.  After I left high school I was a merchant mariner for a while.   The months I spent at sea have supplied me with a lifetime of dreams and memories.  I loved the idea of going back and was enthusiastic about going…as soon as possible.  Further full disclosure:  When Mariellen says she has found a very good deal, you can bet it is even better than the deal the Dutch got on Manhattan.

Well, this trip would wait a while.  It was a whole year and a half away, and pretty darn cheap for what they were giving us: seven days at sea, seven ports, a room with a view and slippers at Macy’s basement prices.  I’m lying about the slippers, but we did get cutely folded towels.  The added benefit was that we would have paid for it months before we left for Rome (Italy, not New York.)  We would catch the ship in Civitavecchia, Rome’s port city these days, and sail to seven ports around, really, the northwestern Mediterranean; reaching port in the morning and sailing in the evening.

One of the ports of call, the one that interested me the most, was Barcelona, Spain, the home of the architect Antoni Gaudi and his masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia.  The others could wait.  They would be nice to see, even Rome, I admitted in my quiet moments, but this one place where this one building was, was all that was in my bucket, on my list, when I learned what the tour’s itinerary was.  It didn’t take long to make up our minds and decide to go.

OK, Rome would be nice, but we would be in and out on both ends of the trip.  What would be the sense of investing too much time in thinking what one could do in Rome…the Eternal City, after all…during an afternoon or two.  I began to think of other places we might spend a few days in either before or after the cruise to my own personal Shangri La.

Someone else was also thinking about the same thing.  And, therein lies the tale I hope to tell; a tale of adventures, laughs, great meals in great places, unexpected friends and unexpected enemies, mild difficulties and little discomforts, incredible beauty and surpassing  joy.  I say I hope to tell it because I know the teller of the tale; someone who is easily distracted; distracted by something like this, for instance.

P1080336

Somewhere at Sea on the Mediterranean

 

Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 19, 2014

Wearing The Very Stars

This poem below is something I wrote after reading and thinking about another poem called “Visitation” by Trevor Erickson which appears in the current edition of StAR, The St. Austin Review .

 

WEARING THE VERY STARS

“I must to my kinswoman go
Beyond the fields of home.
This little town leave upon the rising road
Through wind twisted olive groves
And over shining crystal streams.

Go to the Hill Country by paths so old
Now, deep ruts among rock and stone.”
She does not go alone. No!
Eternity she carries, her son, God’s own
Within.  So much more she is than seems.

Such a cargo slows her youthful haste
While dark eyes: grim, rude, cruel, stare
Out at easy prey along the lonely way.
But stare is all that they do. “Another day,”
They growl, slink away.  She confounds, confuses cruelty.

Pausing at the highest peak
She waits the waning day,
The reverence of constellations;
Receives the sun’s glowing robes
The ministry of the silver moon.

Mary, wearing the very stars, walks on.

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May 19. 2014

Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 14, 2014

FOUR AM, MAY 14. 2014

Four AM, May 14, 2014

It was just four the big clock’s numbers read
When I woke up and saw them from my bed.
Calm, night ruled quietly.  The sun slept still
Miles away beyond the woods and homes and hills,
Beyond the river running down to the sea
When I rose and left my bed silently.

Downstairs I put the kettle on to boil
And put a tea bag in my mug and all.
The while waiting I thought to go outside
To see how was the world; a thing I’ve tried
And liked doing since I was a young boy.
Alone while the world awakes is a joy.

I can imagine myself witnessing
Creation’s wondrous leap first light always brings
To mind, or listen for wind’s first breath drawn
As if the world is happy for the dawn.

A mist of rain, droplets whispering, fell
Softly on my face, the rain’s sound and smell
A welcome at the break of day beyond
River’s deep run.  Above my head I found
No stars at all, but thinnest ragged scree
Of clouds between time here, eternity
Whitened shade of blue above, shallow sea.

I went back when robins in the trees awoke
To choir morning’s coming as day broke.

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May 14, 2014

Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 5, 2014

HERE COMES EVERYBODY!

I’m not a linear thinker, and have never been.  I’m as undisciplined as a small child in a big garden, a little stream on a slight slope, stopped briefly and re-directed to a place I never thought of going.  I am a meander, a ramble.  Hence this longish thing.  Follow me, if you will.  Or not.

I’ve never read it, but in “Finnegan’s Wake” there are many references to a character, variously named..one of which is something like Humphrey Chimpden Earwick.. who goes by the initials HCE. Some have told me that James Joyce meant HCE to mean, also, “Here Comes Everybody”, and to stand, somehow, for the Catholic Church, which is open to all; nothing required up front but Faith.

It has been said for as long as I can remember that Faith is a gift, and gifts need unwrapping. I was born into a family of Catholics who came from a long line of Catholics.  So you could say I never had a choice about being a Catholic.

But, I do have a choice about staying a Catholic, a choice about un-wrapping, about using the gift.  So have we all the same choice.

My grandmothers were Catholics, one from Leighlinbridge, a small village in County Clare, then still a part of The British Empire, whom many probably thought at the time would last a thousand years; and the other, a child of the great Irish diasporsa, the long “bleeding out” of Ireland’s life under England’s “loving” care, was born in Five Points; that neighborhood of some notoriety in NYC. Her father, an immigrant from Dublin, was a fireman. From them both through my own mother and father I draw my faith, and was born into what we Catholics sometimes call “The Family of Faith”.

Ella Mc Gowan, the New York Irish girl, was born in 1880. Catherine Fanning was born shortly after, in 1881. Nanny was a toddler and Grandma just barely 6 months old when Angelo Roncalli entered the “family” in a little town in Italy. They have a much younger brother, Karol Wojtyla, who was born in 1920.  It’s a big family; the biggest in the history of the world!

I’ve been reading a book written by G.K. Chesterton called “Heretics”.  Chesterton joined my family when he had grown up.  I like reading the things he’s written.  Besides being very, very smart, he doesn’t allow his smartness to get in the way of his wit, nor pitch his message too high above anyone inclined to listen to what he’s saying.  This book “Heretics” is where Chesterton argues against a lot of the attitudes and ideas which people at the beginning of the last century found very attractive, bright, shiny and new.  They are attitudes and ideas that seemed to me as he shined a bright light on and took an amusing glance at their advocates and the ideas themselves to be a bit like crib toys dangled above infants to amuse and distract them, but of no real or lasting value.  Funnily enough, considering their very obvious lunacy and uselessness, a lot of them are still pretty popular today.

The chapter I’m reading in the book right now is called On Certain Modern Writers and The Institution of The Family .  It’s a wonderful little essay about what we all think may be a good thing but which on closer examination turns out to be not so good at all; the idea that big globs of us all gathered together in one place..in big cities, or metropolitan areas, say…are better for a number of reasons than little towns.  In the main, he says, big places allow us to be alone, to get away from the “maddening” crowd, to pick and choose our own associates, friends, interests.  GK thinks this stinks, attitude and fact, and proposes the ancient institution of the family as the best place to be (and small places, hamlets, villages, towns along with them) simply for the fact that they do not afford us the luxury of anonymity.  One of the points he makes is this one:

“The best way that a man could test his readiness to encounter the common variety of mankind would be to climb down a chimney into any house at random, and get on as well as possible with the people inside. And that is essentially what each one of us did on the day that he was born.

This is, indeed, the sublime and special romance of the family. It is romantic because it is a toss-up. It is romantic because it is everything that its enemies call it. It is romantic because it is arbitrary. It is romantic because it is there. So long as you have groups of men chosen rationally, you have some special or sectarian atmosphere. It is when you have groups of men chosen irrationally that you have men. The element of adventure begins to exist; for an adventure is, by its nature, a thing that comes to us. It is a thing that chooses us, not a thing that we choose.”

My sister, Stephanie Ann Teresa Gallaher-Morse, and I have often referred to our family, the people we lived among, including my grandmothers, as we grew up, and the things which occurred there, as a long day’s journey.  Anyone who has graduated high school will know what we are speaking about; the surface storms, sometimes violent and long lasting, the treacherous currents to be learned, the open waters and pleasant climates, and the deep undercurrent of love.  It would have served as well to refer to our growing up as a streetcar ride; one that still continues in the strong light of day.  It was certainly an education.  It was from time to time as well a crucible, a refining fire.

Another book that I am wandering slowly through is John Henry Cardinal Newman’s “Essay On The Development of Doctrine”.  I’d offer you a quote from his book, but there isn’t really anything short enough to take from it unless I was writing at least a thousand word introduction and another 2 or 3 thousand words after the quote as an explanation.  I love his writing, but, Lord, he knows how to fill a page.  I’ve never been there, but I find myself imagining that reading Newman is closest to taking a walk in Shanghai, with little or no knowledge of Chinese and no road map; an exhilarating and at times fearful experience where you wonder why you ever started, and where that was, but enjoy the magnificent structures along the way while looking forward to finishing, hopefully before Christmas.  He spends a lot of time on heresies, too, and heretics.

He reminds me of something I once told an attorney who was the “mouthpiece” for a fellow I was interested in putting away for a long while.  During the course of a very long afternoon of steadily applied pressure on my part to his client’s ability to withstand it, he interrupted me to ask what was my intention.  I replied that my intention was to sail the battleship Missouri into his harbor and blow him and his client out of the water.  Four years and a lot of work later I did just that.  The client went to jail, bankrupt and penniless.  His lawyer went into therapy after suffering some kind of mental crisis.  Newman’s “little” essay does just that, like snow on Mount Zalman; glistening in the distance, but also tearing down grain by grain by grain, the heap of stone it covers.

And, then there’s a short piece, an editorial I’ve recently read in “Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity“.  At least that’s what I think it calls itself.  The short piece is by a fellow whose writing I like to read because what he writes is true; true the way granite is true; true the way an oak is true; true the way, sometimes, a mighty wind is true; hard, and beautiful and occasionally very frightening.  In this article, Anthony Esolen, blows a trumpet, a horn like Gideon’s, against the heretics, and says to the “family”, “Gather and stand against our newest, our latest enemy.”  Read the article and find out who that is and what the fight is about.  I couldn’t help thinking that, as usual, like Gideon we’re up against tough odds.  I also couldn’t help thinking, as I read it, of Henry V’s little talk to his Band of Brothers, the other members of The Family, the ones still at or near to, Home.

Bl. Cardinal Newman’s long essay about the development of doctrine is at once a defense of and an attack against everyone in the long history of the Catholic Church who thought they had a better idea.  If my guess is anywhere near correct “better ideas” started popping up almost as soon as they could. As he says in more ways than one, and Chesterton too, they soon splinter, mutate into thousands of variations.  It’s a lucky thing St. Thomas still had Jesus around, you know, or all those Synods and Councils wouldn’t have had much to do back in the day; and maybe Rome would be a small town with barely a memory of what it used to be.  One of the best things Christ did, after saving the world, was tell St. Peter what he had to do.

The point about families is that they need heads, someone in charge, or the kids fight in the back of the car for the window seat, Mom wants to go “this way”, and Billy would rather play ball than mow the lawn.  And, no one wants to wash the dishes.  Pretty soon, the place looks like Dogpatch.  Unless….

Sometimes, you have to send one of the older guys out to get some of the younger kids in from play, or from having wandered to far.  They never really want to go, so you tell them, “I’m sending  you.  You tell them I said ‘Come home, or else’ “.  And, every once in a while you’ve go to “go to Law”, as they say in Blighty, and make sure Jones behind you stops letting his kids take your apples; or worse, “war” for want of a better word, just to keep the family and what it stands for together and safe.

Grandma and Nanny would understand that, break out the beads and fight their way, too.  Then, watch out!  Because here comes Everybody.

Posted by: Peadar Ban | April 11, 2014

Ink Is What A Pen Needs

INK IS WHAT A PEN NEEDS

I wrote and sealed a letter just the other day
Then took it to the curb and placed it
In the box where it lay and waited
As did I
For the mailman to come by;
And I have to say
I enjoyed the exercise.

Before I wrote a word I sat and thought
Of what to tell my friend.
How I might begin, and how end;
What to put between
The end and the beginning…
Whether the letter should be long, or short.

Then I boiled some water and brewed a cup of tea,
Found a pen, one that still had ink.
(That should have been easy, one would think,
Here where pens proliferate like weeds.
But, no!  Each one I picked and tried
Was dry.)

Who would dare read dry pen impressions,
Faint, brailish dry pen scrapings?
For letters, philosophies or screeds
Ink as well as mind is what a pen needs.

I found one though, and sat down to begin;
Tea beside me
World outside me
April bright and new
In the morning when
I began to write to you.

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04/09/2013

Posted by: Peadar Ban | April 4, 2014

Today April 4, 2014: Omphaloskepsis

EXPLAIN HOPE

6:30AM, April 4, 2014

6:30AM, April 4, 2014

Briefly I sat amid the log shadows of the new day and looked east at the bare branches of Spring, the rude dampness of pale green lawns, felt the still coolness against my cheek while tiny birds and bully jays scattered the seed I’d put out for them yesterday in the streaming sun, while near the fence one last lump of snow died, longed for last July, un-mourned this morning.  A few hours ago it was a madman’s dream, a mother’s hope, a child’s imagining, an old man’s ancient memory awake. I know because before I went up to bed I stood and looked about, and felt frost fingers caress my face, saw the neighbor’s drive covered in chaotic chalk scribbles where the kids had played under the ancient unseen stars behind their scrim of daylight blue, the unheard sounds of swirling galaxies, the first chord-burst of being at the beginning and the steady drone of time since.  Yes, I stood cloaked in night and saw the day done, gone only hours by, gone down the stream of years and centuries into the Sea of What Has Been. How silly, I thought, standing there, sitting here I think now, to say:
“Could the day, each day, have no meaning at all?”

What is the purpose of sunlight beyond mere stimulation of life in sleeping seeds (on just one place in the universe?), beyond mere stimulation of neurons deep in my brain?  Why does it exist except as product of force, heat and photonic speed? Why the light of galaxies beyond a trillion trillion miles, beyond a billion years, and between? traveling across emptiness, down passing years for my eyes each night, whether they are there or not, to see?  Are they mere random, rainbowed, things; or more than that?  Why a tiny flower’s shy color beneath a waking bush of still sleeping
leaf and blossoms or the beauty of their plumage, even the subtle gray of stubborn doves, on birds bouncing on the first sweet currents of the day.  Can it simply be that they are and that they have no meaning at all; that nothing means anything.
All merely is?

Explain then, love, joy, desire, sadness, anger, friendship to me. Reactions, only, to some stimuli?  Explain mere appreciation to me.  Explain order or chaos, the chaos of a snail’s track on the sand, a squirrel’s hurried search across the lawn for last year’s fallen seeds.  Chaos, order?  Order, chaos?  Explain the order growth and learning
bring to a child’s brain.  Explain the chaos of a toddler, the chaos of a puppy, the chaos of a storm across the wide deep sea, the chaos of a waterfall.  Explain the pain of illness, the peace of death, the comfort of mourning.  And explain the fact that I or anyone, can sit and write this while a
Jay calls Morning to light the new day.

If nothing has an end, nothing has a meaning.
If nothing has a meaning, nothing has worth.
If nothing has worth, nothing matters.
If nothing matters, everything is useless, futile, unnecessary.

Explain hope!

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Saint of the Day

St. Isidore of Seville (560-636)
Isidore was a bishop in Spain. He promoted science and established schools and convents. He was a prolific writer who mastered all branches of knowledge of his day. A Doctor of the Church, his writings include a dictionary and an encyclopedia.

Reflections from the Saints

If a man wants to be always in God’s company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us.

– St. Isidore of Seville

Scripture Verse of the Day

Ephesians 4:1-3

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Life in Christ: Catechism #2203

In creating man and woman, God instituted the human family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution. Its members are persons equal in dignity. For the common good of its members and of society, the family necessarily has manifold responsibilities, rights, and duties.

One Minute Meditations

Charity
I am glad that you feel concern for your brothers: there is no better proof of your mutual charity. Take care, however, that your concern does not degenerate into anxiety.

– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way

Posted by: Peadar Ban | March 31, 2014

Today, March 31, 2014 (A Pleasant Ache)

The Lamb of March seems this morning to have been kidnapped.  A cold rain, a bit of sleet, greeted me this morning; little pellets nipping at the windows.  Rain had come on with serious purpose yesterday, slacked off a bit in the afternoon, and returned with renewed vigor during the night.

April, that cruel month, will seem a pussycat compared to the past four weeks.  For all of that, though, the dearest freshness shows itself everywhere, even on gray, ice coated mornings.  Below the bare branches of the dwarf spireas at the front of the house tiny crocus leaves peek. Brave and eager for the light, heedless of the cold still lingering in the frost filled soil, the little green exclamations stab upward into Spring while most of Winter, long wished away, unfriendly lingers.

The rain has done its work though, along with the steady climb of the temperature.  Only across the street do continents of snow stay, sullen in the shade of dark pines; gray brutish things avoided by children now interested in bikes and jump ropes and the first few ball games.  All that remains nearby, here, are some Lonely Isles, and snow-pelagos beneath the trees where squirrels busily hunt for last year’s hidden harvest, and neighborhood cats wait patiently for them to walk into their mouths; or birds to fall there.

Don’t keep score.  Birds and squirrels know who and where they are.  They meet far above them to scold feline presumption and insolence and sing warnings to any newcomers.

Now the sun brushes aside the thinning cloud curtain.  Perhaps it means today to send Winter at last away.

Such being the case, I will oil my leaf rakes and get ready to ache this evening from shoulders to toes.  It will be a pleasant ache.

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Here are some bits of stuff to read and wonder about.  I call them News Flashes From Home.  They are all about the same thing, really.  It never changes.  Strangely enough, though, it never gets old, arriving fresh on the doorstep every day.  Actually it arrives continuously.  One only needs to think, to read, to listen:

Saint of the Day

St. Benjamin (5th century)
Benjamin was a deacon was released from prison on the condition that he would never preach where he could be heard by the royal court. Thus, he became a street preacher. He was eventually arrested, tortured and martyred.

Reflections from the Saints

Without humility, there is no way of conquering anger.

– St. John Climacus

Scripture Verse of the Day

Hebrews 10:23

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Life in Christ: Catechism #2199

The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it. This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons.

One Minute Meditations

Fruitfulness
My child, all the seas of this world are ours and the places where it is harder to fish are the places where it is all the more necessary.

– St. Josemaria Escriva
I’ve been thinking for the past few minutes about the first and the last little “flashes” together.  Two names flashed into my head in connection with them: St. Maximilian Kolbe and Larry, a schizophrenic man in my town here, who wanders the streets, dressed in rags and patches…looking “like a mountebank” to steal a phrase from Trollope… sleeping under a bridge in all kinds of weather and prays constantly; fishermen, both,  in hard and necessary places.
I like what the Catechism says about the presupposing done in the Fourth Commandment about the duties of “all who exercise authority”.  Don’t you?
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Here are two pieces of music for your Spring listening.
Posted by: Peadar Ban | March 30, 2014

Lo, Rain Falls

On a rainy Sunday morning, long after Spring should have been here, I watched the sheets of rain fall, remembered (faintly) an old hymn, and thought of a better day to come:

Lo, rain falls in sheets descending
From angry clouds on high above.
Wind whipped frigid, unrelenting,
Cold rain falls and earth turns mud.

Morn, grey, cold and shelter seeking
Sneaks behind swift retreating night.
Edging cold shadows westward leaking
Timid day comes poised for flight

Though rain still falls, frigid soaks all,
Winter’s mis’ry claiming place,
Soon clouds part; light lifts their pall,
Sweet spring air storm dissipates,

Soon comes mildness bright birds singing,
Soon comes laughter of child at play.
Back to places colder stinging
Banish winter.  Spring’s here today!

For the curious, here’s the hymn; one of my favorites:

 

Posted by: Peadar Ban | February 27, 2014

Today: February 27, 2014

Sometime between four and five almost every day I find myself closing the door on sleep and stepping off the front porch of wakefunness.  (How cute that typo is.)  At this time of year the sky to the east has just begun to lighten.  The platoon of trees down the block, tall oaks, maples and a few white pines, show in silhouette waiting for their work.  When it isn’t too cold, I’ll open the window to see if the First Bird of Day, the one whose job it is to wake up the world, has begun its appointed duty.

This morning I missed that quiet rendezvous with time and change, and soundly slept until the alarm on Mariellen’s dresser blew a hole through the air and shattered sleep into a million fragments.  I did what any normal person my age would do.  Bent nearly in half I tumbled out and was nearly vertical by the time I reached the clock and put to an abrupt end my agony, and the agony of every molecule of atmosphere in the room.  I took a cautionary look out the window to see if Dawn’s First Light may have been angered by whatever prompted the clock to do that.

The Choir Robed In Color Sings

The Choir Robed In Color Sings

I should have known.  Dawn was busy at Lauds.  There before me a Canticle of Light was being sung.  I did open the window and heard the Antiphon in a joyfully golden Wren’s voice, and the Cloud Choir in robes of light responding down the strophes, processing out.  The thanksgiving of the trees mute and tall behind held my attention until the chill air warned me this might be too much of a good thing.  I was awake, alert and filled with joy.

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I don’t know for sure whose saint’s is today.  But this little thought from St. Gabriel Possenti caught my mind: “I will attempt day by day to break my will into pieces. I want to do God’s Holy Will, not my own!”  He was, not unlike me and quite a number of folks I know, a wild man when younger, who caught a fever of Love that cured him.   I become more convinced that there is only one way to happiness; to do God’s will in everything…even at my age.

Awake from your slumber!  Arise from your sleep!  A new day is dawning….

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