Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas....

Im not saying anything new here today, just pointing my finger towards some magnificent others...

Here is Kevin O'Brien's Theater of the Word Youtube channel. I spoke with Kevin briefly at the GKC Conference a couple years ago, not aware of who he was and was very impressed....even before I knew I was supposed to be. These guys are doing some terrific work. Its wonderful to be around this type of energy.

And now........the paradox.......

Here is Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ on his show, Crossing the Threshold of Hope. Here is a video from a Canadian Prof. Chycho, a mathematics instructor offering remedial training on Youtube. Shut your eyes and listen to both of these men and you will find that their voice, intonation, passion, and delivery are close to equal....at least they sound the same to my army-induced hearing loss ears.

Merry Christmas Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas poetry - from Frances Chesterton


G. K. Chesterton is highly regarded as a poet, and is well-known as a lover of Christmas.

His better half (okay, given their relative sizes, better fourth) also had a way with words - and an appreciation for the season.

Frances Chesterton wrote “How far is it to Bethlehem?,” which has become a popular and often-played Christmas Carol. The poem is collected in one of my favorite holiday poetry anthologies, Poems of Christmas, edited by Myra Cohn Livingston.

Apparently Frances penned a number of Christmas poems, and at least one Christmas play. I find mention on Amazon of an out of print book that contains “A collection of Christmas cards, each consisting of a poem by Frances Chesterton, sent by G. K. and Frances Chesterton in 1916, 1917, 1919-1935 and by Frances Chesterton alone in 1936 and 1937.” I could not find the title of this book, though – perhaps some scholarly sort knows it and even has a copy.

I also found mention of a few Christmas pieces she wrote: Several poems - “Here Is the Little Door,” “A Lullaby Carol” and “The Shepherds Found Thee by Night,” the latter two also put to music – and a short play, The Christmas Gift.

I found texts for “How far” and “Here Is.” I’d be curious to see those other poems she wrote, and the play.

Here are texts I found.
How far is it to Bethlehem?

How far is it to Bethlehem?
Not very far.
Shall we find the stable room
Lit by a star?

Can we see the little child,
Is he within?
If we lift the wooden latch
May we go in?

May we stroke the creatures there,
Ox, ass, or sheep?
May we peep like them and see
Jesus asleep?

If we touch his tiny hand
Will he awake?
Will he know we've come so far
Just for his sake?

Great kings have precious gifts,
And we have naught,
Little smiles and little tears
Are all we brought.

For all weary children
Mary must weep.
Here, on his bed of straw
Sleep, children, sleep.

God in his mother's arms,
Babes in the byre,
Sleep, as they sleep who find
Their heart's desire.

------

Here is the little door

Here is the little door, lift up the latch, oh lift!
We need not wander more but enter with our gift;
Our gift of finest gold,
Gold that was never bought nor sold;
Myrrh to be strewn about his bed;
Incense in clouds about his head;
All for the Child who stirs not in his sleep.
But holy slumber holds with ass and sheep.

Bend low about his bed, for each he has a gift;
See how his eyes awake, lift up your hands, O lift!
For gold, he gives a keen-edged sword
(Defend with it Thy little Lord!),
For incense, smoke of battle red.
Myrrh for the honoured happy dead;
Gifts for his children terrible and sweet,
Touched by such tiny hands and
Oh such tiny feet.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

When you sing you pray twice


It is still true that when the Christmas season begins I get “as giddy as a school boy”. My wife and I unpack and set up the decorations with the same dance we have done for years and our youthful laugh returns. Whenever “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Santa, baby” or even the Hippopotamus song come on the radio I crank it up. But by the time they light the pink candle in the Advent wreath my ears and soul hungers for more than funnel cakes and corn dogs.

In his General Audience of February 26, 2003, Pope John Paul II reminds us that "one must pray to God not only with theologically precise formulas, but also in a beautiful and dignified way." For this reason, he said, "the Christian community must make an examination of conscience so that the beauty of music and song will return increasingly to the liturgy."

Or as Thomas Aquinas said, “Music is the exaltation of the mind derived from things eternal, bursting forth in sound.”

Last year I “discovered” Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek and the Christmas Gregorian Chants. Now there is music that requires a knife and fork to consume.
This year a friend turned me on to the Christmas choral works of Benjamin Britten a 20th century composer who “got it” right Britten once wrote: “It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness and of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature, and everlasting beauty of monotony.” Note the last sentiment, like GCK said “It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.”
…everlasting beauty of monotony - The beauty of paradox.

ROGER DU B√ČARN gave us this clerihew:

Benjamin Britten,
Feeling hard-bitten,
Gave Billy Budd a bearing
Incomprehensible to Albert Herring.
-----------------------------------
One more thought from Uncle Gilbert on Christmas:
"The place that the shepherds found was not an academy or an abstract republic; it was not a place of myths... explained or explained away. It was a place of dreams come true."

Media related thoughts.........

Chesterton spoke a great deal about media and publishing.....even though he was decades removed from "Big Media." Belloc's thoughts about media control and propaganda came out in a wonderful book a few years ago from IHS Press, The Free Press.

Ive been thinking about how horrible the Churches and other advocates of traditional living have been at entering the mainstream debate. Granted, EWTN is now a top notch outfit in terms of management and production, but outside of Catholic circles, it is not part of the mainstream.

I just think that so many prime teaching opportunities have been lost. I think it would pay to advertise the fact that even after the 2008 election, we still have had more Black Popes then Black Presidents. Do any left leaning groups know that the Catholic Church is the worlds largest provider of health care to AIDS patients on Earth? When Mother Theresa's letters were made public, why didn't the US Bishops or one of the Catholic Universities give the press some information about the Dark Night of the Soul as it exists in Catholic spirituality. Heck they could have even painted it as a form of depression or something, but at least could have raised the level of discussion.

I completely admire Pat Buchanan, though I disagree with him at times, for being able to be who he is, representing what he does, and still be able to interact with mainstream journalism.

I think people are beginning to sense that something is wrong with mainstream news. The massive layoffs are hitting that industry. I think the timing is good for a solid Catholic Press to emerge from Catholic circles and interact with the opinion forming mainstream press.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Chesterton books/New Gilbert arrive

I received two new Chesterton volumes - more of his newspaper pieces, and the second volume of his poems. The prophet certainly was not averse to writing verse - and who knows how many more poems are floating around out there.

I also received the latest Gilbert. I'm glad to see them deal with the anti-semitism charges head on.

I was also pleased to see this humble blog get a mention.

Amid this cornucopia of Chestertonian delight, my only sorrow was that none of my clerihews got in (though the published ones were good).

Hmm. Maybe the editors had a Chestertonian moment and the ones I submitted a while back are being used as coasters or as bookmarks.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The prophet Chesterton – again

Looking for a Christmas lesson for my youth group, about the reality of the Incarnation vs. the make believe holiday of commercialism, I came across an article by Vigen Guroian called The Christian Humanism Of G. K. Chesterton: Truth and the Paradoxical Imagination.

Guroian bases his whole thesis on what Chesterton gave us:

“Chesterton responded with Christian humanism to what he judged to be a serious breakdown of the fundamental moral suppositions deposited by biblical faith and the classical tradition. He believed that this declension was due to the loss of conviction in the culture about the reality of the Incarnation, that is of God truly having become a human being in Jesus Christ with all the import that that has for human existence. For Chesterton, the doctrine of the Incarnation is the hinge that holds together what is, for the Christian, a vision of the world that is essentially paradoxical. And he is astonishingly adept at employing this vision in his cultural criticism and Christian apologetics. The Incarnation sheds light where sin deceives and despair darkens the human horizon. Sin causes us to experience spirit in opposition to matter, faith in conflict with reason, life defeated by death. But the Incarnation reveals these apparent contradictions as paradoxes. Contradiction may signal futility, but paradox is pregnant with the possibility of resolution and harmony.”

Sunday, December 14, 2008

St Glibert, Blessed Belloc

Some good things coming out on here as of late.

In regards to St. Gilbert.........Hey, heroic virtue is the standard. Chesterton was a good man, a devout Catholic, and a brilliant writer but as neat as it would be, I do not quite think I would take up his cause. I could end up being proven wrong.

In regards to the bigger issue, I do think Pope John Paul II particularly made a terrific example of canonizing lay people, and trying to expedite certain causes in an effort to put forth contemporary examples of sanctity. I think that Chesterton will most likely go down in the ages like..........Chesterton! I think that there are some examples of terrific spiritual writers, apologists, and theologians through the ages who were not raised to the altar. Dante, John Duns Scotus (granted he is a Blessed, but I think has no active cause), Brother Lawrence from The Cloud of Unknowing,Meister Eckhardt, and many of the Rhineland mystical writers of his same time period.

Ive noticed some good back and forth regarding Belloc on here as well. Honestly, he is a man I identify with more than Chesterton. As a solider I respect his physicality and sheer toughness. Ive read abit about some of his famous hikes and they are incredible. I used to be a good ruckmarcher, could take 70lb pack and full load 10k in a bit under 70mins. To those who do not have a military background or do alot of alpine type hiking this is very physically rigorous, not just merely putting one foot in front of the other. Belloc must have had a will of steel, feet of leather, and skin of ice to be able to rack up the miles they way he did. Belloc is a master of historical details and primary sources, providing the facts regarding certain situations where modern pundits make up their own history.

Have a terrific rest of the weekend

Saturday, December 06, 2008

St. Gilbert, Patron Saint ...


Saint Gilbert Chesterton.

It has a certain ring.

St. Gilbert.

There are already people agitating for the canonization of GKC. While I support those efforts, that is not my purpose here.

I am considering a post-canonization question.

You see, many saints have particular places, occupations and conditions over which they are considered the patron saints, serving as advocates and intercessors. Some are considered patron saints over multiple areas.

My question is of what thing(s) what would St. Gilbert be a patron saint?

Obviously, he was a prolific writer. Might he join St. Francis de Sales as a patron saint of writers and journalists? I have not found who is the patron saint of essayists, so perhaps St. Gilbert could fill that role.

Although his poetry is not his best writing, it still has its strengths and beauty – and sheer volume. Perhaps he could join St. Columba as a patron saint of poetry?

Then again, given the delightful Father Brown stories, why not a patron saint of mystery fiction?

St. Gilbert was a staunch defender of the faith and a profound thinker. Perhaps he could join St. Thomas Aquinas as a patron saint of apologetics and of philosophy. Given his debating skills, he might be an apt patron saint of debaters – another area for which I have not yet found saintly coverage.

As a convert, he could join the ranks of patron saints like Charles Lwanga, Mary Magdalen and John the Baptist (maybe joining at the same time as Cardinal Newman).

Of course, he did like to drink and eat. Maybe he could join St. Nicholas, St. Augustine and St. Luke in being a patron saint of brewers, or St. Martin of Tours as a patron saint of vintners and innkeepers. He could serve with St. Lawrence as a patron saint of cooks, and, appropriately, comedians (Lawrence’s joke of presenting the poor as the treasures of the Church was a knee slapper).

And while St. Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of lost items, St. Gilbert might be an appropriate patron saint of people who keep getting lost.

The possibilities are endless.

For what other things might he be a fit patron saint? I welcome the input.