Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Five Bighorn Sheep

Five Bighorn Sheep, Colorado Nature Photography

Well Said: Say a prayer, not an editorial

Crater didn't know why the captain wanted him to say a prayer, but he gave it some thought and said, "Dear Lord, I didn't know Tilly, but I hope You'll take her into heaven. She messed up here at the last but that doesn't matter now, not to her and maybe not to You either."

"I said say a prayer, not write an editorial," Teller growled.

The gillie jumped in. For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes, blessed be the Lord thy God who loves thee still. Amen and good-bye.

Teller stared at the gillie, then said, "Well, at least that thing's got some sense."
Homer Hickam, Crater

Genesis Notes: Growth and Testing

GENESIS 29 & 30

These chapters are interesting. Jacob, avoiding Esau's anger, is off to seek his fortune. He's been used to getting his own way through trickery and his own wits. but now he's going to come up against other people who are just as wily as he is. And who are also used to getting their own way.

This doesn't make Jacob any less determined, but it does mean it's an opportunity for growth and change. When the chips are down, how do we react? It is this which forms our character.

Also in these chapters, the focus is on family. Jacob falls for Rachel, works to earn her and then is fobbed off with first-born sister Leah. We greatly feel the injustice for Jacob and Rachel. But we also now have Leah in the mix. She longs for her husband's love and is denied repeatedly. And Jacob is continually dealing with his tricky father-in-law who wants nothing more than to cheat him. This is both humbling and serves to teach lessons.
It is not done thus in our place, to give the younger girl before the firstborn. Laban is an instrument of dramatic irony: his perfectly natural reference to "our place" has the effect of touching a nerve of guilty consciousness in Jacob, who in his place acted to put the younger before the firstborn. This effect is reinforced by Laban's referring to Leah not as the elder but as the firstborn (bekhirah). It has been clearly recognized since late antiquity that the whole story of the switched brides is a meting out of poetic justice to Jacob—the deceiver deceived, deprived by darkness of the sense of sight as his father is by blindness, relying, like his father, on the misleading sense of touch. ...
Jacob has a visceral sense of just what his actions felt like to Esau.

God shows himself in this family struggle as he has through every family we've encountered in Genesis. I think about how he reveals himself through the everyday like breeding sheep and the big events like Leah's children. No special dreams or spoken voices are needed. God's there through everything in this story of our long-ago ancestors in faith.

Jacob and Rachel at the Well, Francisco Antolínez
All quotes from Genesis, translation and commentary by Robert Alter. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Well Said: The common people and the high lords

The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are.
George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones

Worth a Thousand Words: Return from fishing, dragging the boat

Return from fishing, dragging the boat; Joaquim Sorolla y Bastida

Save Send Delete Review of Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life


Danusha Goska has published a thoughtful and generous review at her blog, Save Send Delete.

Here's a bit:
Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life: Prayers and Reflections for Getting Closer is one of the weightiest little books I've ever read. There are just 209 pages of main text, and each page has few words. I open randomly to page one hundred and I find a three-sentence quote from the Gospel of Luke, a brief, one-paragraph quote from Saint Augustine, and ten sentences of reflection from Davis. The few words that appear on each page, though, like the words in a rich poem, are dense with meaning. They are the kind of words that cause the reader to pause and ponder. [...]

Davis wants this book to be an aid to other Christians in their prayer life. Online reviews attest to its value and success at just that. ...

I think Seeking Jesus has another use. I think this would be a great gift to an open-minded Christophobe. There are a lot of people these days who insist that all Christians are violent bigots. Jesus is certainly the main character of this book, but Davis is a very appealing sidekick. She is humble, eager to learn, thoughtful, and patient. I think giving this book as a gift to someone trying to understand a modern American Christian's interior life would be a very charitable act.
Do go read it all. It gives a wonderful overview coupled with Goska's feelings about the book.

Then stop by Amazon to pick up your own copy!

Hansel and Gretel - on SFFaudio

Jesse, Maissa, and I discuss the classic fairy tale, Grimm Brothers style, at SFFaudio. Our discussion is preceded by my unabridged reading of the folk tale.

A good time was had by all. (Except, of course, by the wicked old witch. That goes practically without saying.) Join us!

Julie and Scott attend a wedding in India.



It took 1 hr and 54 minutes, exactly and approximately. 

We discuss Monsoon Wedding (2001), directed by Mira Nair, in episode 161 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Snow, Moon, Flowers

Sakai Hôitsu; Snow, Moon, Flowers

Well Said: Love and marriage and the right room

It seems like people make the mistake of thinking love is about the bedroom. It's not. It's about the emergency room. Love and marriage are about who will sit there and wait.
Stephen Tobolowsky
Truer words were never spoken.

National Catholic Register Review of Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life


A lovely review from Sarah Sarah Reinhard at National Catholic Register.

Among other things she says:
"This is about forming a friendship that will last through eternity," Davis writes. And that's exactly the foundation she's set for each reader of this volume.
Go read the rest at NCR and then stop by Amazon to pick up your own copy!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist

This feast, a segment of Advent in the season of Ordinary Time, makes us aware of the wonderful inner relationship between the sacred mysteries; for we are still in the midst of one Church year and already a bridge is being erected to the coming year of grace.
The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch, via Catholic Culture
I've always respected John the Baptist's role in salvation history.

But I never really appreciated his role fully until reading this in Magnificat a few years ago.
I want to show you a sun that shone more brightly than all these, a soul that was truly free and detached, cleaving only to the will of God. I have often wondered who is the most mortified of the saints I know, and after some reflection I have come to the conclusion that it was Saint John the Baptist. He went into the desert when he was five years old and knew that our Savior and his came on earth in a place quite close by, one or two days' journey perhaps. How his heart, touched with love of his Savior from the time he was in his Mother's womb, must have longed to enjoy his presence! Yet he spends twenty-five years in the desert without coming to see our Lord even once; and leaving the desert he stays to catechize without visiting him but waiting till our Lord comes to seek him out. Then when he has baptized him he does not follow him but stays behind to do his appointed task. How truly mortified was his spirit! To be so near his Savior and not see him, to have him so close and not enjoy his presence! Is this not a completely detached spirit, detached even from God himself so as to do his will and serve him, to leave God for God, and not to love God in order to love him better? The example of this great saint overwhelms me with its grandeur.
St. Francis de Sales

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary


In the midst of the second world war Pope Pius XII put the whole world under the special protection of our Savior's Mother by consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart, and in 1944 he decreed that in the future the whole Church should celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is not a new devotion. In the seventeenth century, St. John Eudes preached it together with that of the Sacred Heart; in the nineteenth century, Pius VII and Pius IX allowed several churches to celebrate a feast of the Pure Heart of Mary. Pius XII instituted today's feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the whole Church, so as to obtain by her intercession "peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue" (Decree of May 4, 1944).
As always you'll find a lot more information, prayers, and activities at Catholic Culture.

I particularly like this reflection which reminds me of why Mary was not only the first and best of Jesus' disciples, but why I should ask her for help in my own Christian journey.
The Preface of the Mass attributes a number of qualities to the Heart of Mary. It is wise, because she understood the meaning of the Scriptures as no other person had ever done, and she kept in it the memory of the words and things relating to the mystery of salvation. It is immaculate, that is, immune from any stain of sin. It is docile because she submitted so faithfully to God's will and to every one of his wishes. It is new, according to the ancient prophecy of Ezechiel  -- a new heart I will give you, and a new spirit -- clothed in the newness of grae merited by Christ. It is humble because she imitated the humility of Christ, who said Learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart. It is simple, free from any duplicity and full of the Spirit of truth. It is clean and thus able to see God according to the words of the Beatitude. It is firm in her acceptance of the Will of God when Simeon announced to her that a sword of sorrow would pierce her heart, when persecution broke out aginst her Son or when the moment of his death was a hand. It is ready, for whilst Christ slept in the sepulchre she kept watchin the expectation of his resurrection, just like the spouse in the Canticle of Canticles.

As we consider the splendour and holiness of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we can examine today the depths of our own soul: whether we are open and docile to the graces and inspirations of the Holy Spirit, whether we jealously guard our heart from anything that could separate it form God, whether we pull up by the roots our little feelings of resentment, of envy ... which tend to bed themselves down within it. We know that from our heart's richness or its poverty our words and deeds will speak. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good things. (Matt. 12:35)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Elisabeth of Bavaria

Elisabeth of Bavaria, Empress of Austria (1865).
Franz Xaver Winterhalter (German, 1805-1873).
Look at that dress! I know she was a great beauty of the time but that dress is the star of this painting to me.

Lagniappe: Cooking With Actual Food

It was lovely to be cooking with actual food. There's something so grounding about it. It's not that I was doing any magic, beyond the magic it is to take big flat mushrooms and raw potatoes and turn them into something totally delicious. I was just making dinner. But I wonder how much of cooking for someone else is magic anyway, more than I know about. I think it might all be.
Jo Walton, Among Others
This evokes a sense of place and activity that speaks strongly to me, even if it is "just making dinner." And she's right, cooking for others is magical though it is usually felt most strongly when you all come together for the meal.

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. So I'm reposting. The links may be old, but they're tasty.


On the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we give special honor to the source and symbol of the love Our Saviour has for us. Celebrated the Friday after the feast of Corpus Christi, the feast day celebrates the devotion to the Heart of Jesus; one of the oldest devotions of the Church, dating back in some form to the Patristic Era, the era of the early Church Fathers. Sr. Mary Jeremiah, O.P., S.T.D. Describes the importance and significance of the devotion:

“Jesus Christ is the center of the universe. His pierced Heart, as the symbol of His infinite and divine charity united to his human affections and love, is the focal point of all time. Those who lived during the long period before his incarnation and redemptive death and resurrection waited with yearning for the promised redeemer. Those who witnessed the piercing of his side, as well as all people who will live, are invited to gaze upon and contemplate this mystery. . . As Christians lovingly gaze upon his Heart, they are given the grace to believe in God's mercy and forgiveness.” - from the book The Secret of the Heart
Read the rest of this excellent article at Aquinas and More
The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a moveable feast, which means that it depends on the date of Easter Sunday. It is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost Sunday, which falls on the 50th day of Easter.

I personally have a special love for the novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
O Lord Jesus Christ, to your most Sacred Heart I confide this intention. Only look upon me, then do what your love inspires. Let your Sacred Heart decide. I count on you. I trust in you. I throw myself on your mercy. Lord Jesus, you will not fail me.

(Mention your request)

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, your kingdom come.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I have asked you for many favors, but I earnestly implore this one. Take it, place it in your open heart. When the Eternal Father looks upon it, he will see it covered with your Precious Blood. It will no longer be my prayer, but yours, Jesus. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you. Let me not be disappointed. Amen.
There is something about this part especially that gets to me: "When the Eternal Father looks upon it, he will see it covered with your Precious Blood. It will no longer be my prayer, but yours, Jesus."

I tend to forget about the Litany of the Sacred Heart but it is very useful for prayerful meditation on the perfection that is Jesus' heart with which we try to bring our hearts in line daily.

Other Good Thoughts about The Sacred Heart of Jesus
"In the best apologetic manner the Catholic lady said, "Well, you know how you Baptists accept Jesus into your heart? We Catholics ask Jesus to accept us into his heart.
He also has a nice piece which reminds me that one of my very favorite churches, La Basilica de Sacre Coeur in Paris, is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Go. Read.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

3 Myths (and 1 Truth) About Grain-Fed Beef

I've been a fan of the Nutrition Diva for a long time. I especially love the way she looks into facts versus what "everyone knows" (a.k.a. "myths) on different topics.

This time she's looking at grain-fed beef, In particular 3 myths and 1 surprising truth about the impact of various feeding programs on the health of the cow and on the environment. That's an area where there are a lot of misconceptions. And I was really surprised by the truth ... also pleased.

You can listen her podcast episode or read the transcript — both are at Nutrition Diva.

Worth a Thousand Words: Sun and Sundial

Sun and Sundial, Wettenhausen monastery emblem

To go with today's quote!

Well Said: May the gods confound the man ...

May the gods confound the man who first found out how to distinguish hours, and the man who put this sun-dial here to cut my day to pieces.
Plautus

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Well Said: If you feel like fighting fire with fire ...

If you feel like fighting fire with fire, remember real firefighters use water.
Anonymous
I love this. It goes hand in hand with the quote someone used at dinner last night.
An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.
Anonymous
(attributed to many, confirmed for none)

Worth a Thousand Words: The Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux



Matins : Arrest of Christ - The Annunciation
Jean Pucelle, 1324-1328

This is via French Painters where there are a wealth of images from Pucelle's fabulous creations of breviaries for private devotions.

I'm always fascinated by these sorts of books and wish something like them were readily available today. They combine the best of words and images to help draw you out of yourself and into an encounter with God. There is also usually a playful element that I really love, as witness from this closeup.

Genesis Notes: Esau's Resume

I've already talked about my soft spot for Esau. Let's look over his resume to see what we can apply from his example to our own lives.

I haven't mentioned this before, but one of my favorite parts of these resumes is at the end when we see where else a person is mentioned in the Bible. I like to read up on how others use their examples also.

Francesco Hayez, Esau and Jacob reconcile
Common sense isn't all that common. In fact, the common thread in many decisions is that they don't make sense. Esau's life was filled with choices he must have regretted bitterly. He appears to have been a person who found it hard to consider consequences, reacting to the need of the moment without realizing what he was giving up to meet that weakness. He also chose wives in direct opposition to his parents' wishes. He learned the hard way.

Strengths and accomplishments:
  • Ancestor of the Edomites
  • Known for his archery skill
  • Able to forgive after explosive anger
Weaknesses and mistakes:
  • When faced with important decisions, tended to choose according to the immediate need rather than the long-range effect
  • Angered his parents by poor marriage choices
Lessons from his life:
  • God allows certain events in our lives to accomplish his overall purposes, but we are still responsible for our actions
  • Consequences are important to consider
  • It is possible to have great anger and yet not sin
Vital statistics:
  • Where: Canaan
  • Occupation: Skillful hunter
  • Relatives: Parents - Isaac and Rebekah. Brother - Jacob. Wives: Judith, Basemath, and Mahalath.
Key verses:
"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears." (Hebrews 12:14-17)

Esau's story is told in Genesis 25-36. He also is mentioned in Malachi 1:2, 3; Romans 9:13; Hebrews 12:16, 17.
All material quoted is from the Life Application Study Bible. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.