Monday, December 29, 2008

Chiara e Francesco

This video clip is from the Italian made-for-television movie Chiara e Francesco. Now through Ignatius Press, this movie is in English or Italian language and distributed under the title of Clare and Francis. This marvelous movie brings the most accurate and profound glimpse into the lives of these 2 great, popular and often times overly romanticized saints.

From Ignatius Press:
Produced under the sponsorship of the Franciscan Order, Clare and Francis was shot on location in Italy by Italian film company Lux Vide—the producers of Saint Rita, Pope John Paul II, and St. John Bosco. It is unique among films on Francis because of its historical accuracy and its authentic spirit of joy and piety that Francis was known for, as well as the major role played by Clare, who is given equal stature with Francis.
One aspect of a great movie is the music. My wife and I enjoy the music of Monseñor Marco Frisina and I had stumbled on to his working with this movie and ordered the soundtrack a few months ago. Monseñor Marco "has been the chapel-master of the Musical Lateran Chapel since 1985. In those years, more precisely in 1984, he thought of creating a choir to animate the liturgies. The Rome Diocese's choir was born exactly in this way, spontaneously, as it is a group of no professional young people, who wants to follow together a spiritual and cultural path. The Rome Diocese’s Orchestra was then born to accompany the choir's musical activity... He was also the responsible for the Jubilean events during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, such as the International Eucharistic Convention, the Youth World Day and the Jubilee of the Families."

An added bonus is the interview and review of the movie by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, ofmcap, the preacher to the Papal Household. This video clip in Italian is suppose to be included in the DVD and with English subtitles. The DVD that I purchased did not come with the correct video clip, instead it was a clip of Fr Cantalamessa talking about Mt. Tabor. (I am inquiring to Ignatius Press about returning the one I was sent and getting one with the correct video clip.)

My wife and I, both professed members of the Secular Franciscan Order and who have seen many movies on Francis, rate this movie the best - giving it 2 thumbs up.

Loaded Canons

What's in Your Bible? Find out at BibleStudyMagazine.comHere's a nifty comparison of biblical canons provided by Bible Study Magazine. [ht: New Advent]

Friday, December 26, 2008

Angels - Messengers and Guardians

The Catholic Church teaches that we have guardian angels, even setting aside a day to honor them (October 2).

My personal favorite depiction is the one Pat Brady (and carried on by Don Wimmer) gave to Pasquale's guardian angel in the comic strip, Rose is Rose.

Above you see that Pasquale's guardian angel normally presents a facade similar to the appearance of Pasquale himself; until trouble presents itself. Then, the guardian angel assumes a masterful, powerful, awe-full persona.

Somehow I have come to picture the angels who announced good tidings of great joy to the shepherds, who surrounded the cave-stable that night in Bethlehem, to be the latter: the kind who would bring us mortals to our knees with their numinosity and glory.

Oh, and by the way: the strip above appeared on December 14, 2008: the feast day of St John of the Cross. And my birthday ... for future reference.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Without You I do not know even how to be human

In reading this prayer of Father Peter John Cameron, OP from the Magnificat I came across this line, "Without you I do not know even how to be human." WOW, meditate on that for the rest of the day, I told myself.

“No one, whether shepherd or wise man, can approach God here below except by kneeling before the manger at Bethlehem and adoring him hidden in the weakness of a newborn child.” (CCC 563).

Lord Jesus, as I kneel before you manger in adoration, let my first Christmas word be: thank you. Thank you, Gift of the Father, for coming to save me from my sins.

Without you I do not know even how to be human. The characteristics of your human body express the divine person of God’s Son. And in that wondrous expression, Lord you reveal me to myself. Thank you for that saving revelation in your sacred humanity. As the Christmas liturgy proclaims, “in Christ man restores to man the gift of everlasting life.” Thank you for coming as one like myself to save me from myself.

You come as a baby because babies are irresistible and adorable. You come as a baby because you want our first impression of God incarnate to be that of one who does not judge. How I long to be united with you in every way. May I never be attracted to the allurements and charms of the world. May I love you always, at every moment, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. May the tenderness, the dependency, and the mercy that you reveal in your infancy become the hallmarks of my life.

Newborn Savior, the very silence of your incarnation proclaims that the answer to the misery, the strife, and the meaninglessness of life cannot be found within us. You alone are the Answer. As I kneel before you, eternal King, I surrender to you all my selfishness, self-absorption, self-indulgence, self-righteousness, self-assertion, and self-exaltation. Even as I adore you on this night of your birth, rid me of the nagging desire to be adored.

Word become flesh, you make your dwelling among us. Yet you do not live your life for yourself, but for us. And you enable us to live in you all that you yourself lived. Help me to embrace this truth with all my mind and heart. Come and live your life in me. Empty me of my willfulness, my petulance, my hardness, my cynicism, my contemptuousness. Fill me with your truth, your strength, your fortitude, your purity, your gentleness, your generosity, your wisdom, your heart and your grace.

O Emmanuel, may the assurance of your unfailing Presence be for me the source of unending peace. May I never fear my weakness, my inadequacy, or my imperfection. Rather, as I gaze with faith, hope and love upon your incarnate littleness, may I love my own littleness, for God is with us. Endow my life with a holy wonder that leads me ever more deeply into the Mystery of Redemption and the meaning of my vocation and destiny.

Longed-for Messiah, your servant Saint Leo the Great well wrote that in the very act of reverencing the birth of our Savior, we are also celebrating our own new birth. From this night on may my life be a dedicated life of faith marked by holy reliance, receptivity, and resoluteness. May I make my life a total gift of self. May my humble worship of the nativity manifest how much I seek the father’s kingdom and his way of holiness. The beauty of your holy face bears the promise that your Father will provide for us in all things This Christmas I renew my trust in God’s goodness, compassion, and providence. I long for the day when you will teach us to pray “Our Father.”

May your Presence, Prince of Peace, bless the world with peace, the poor with care and prosperity, the despairing with hope and confidence, the grieving with comfort and gladness, the oppressed with freedom and deliverance, the suffering with solace and relief. Loving Jesus, you are the only real joy of every human heart. I place my trust in you.

Oh divine Fruit of Mary’s womb, may I love you in union with the holy Mother of God. May my life be filled with the obedience of Saint Joseph and the missionary fervor of the shepherds so that the witness of my life may shine like the start that leads the Magi to your manger. I ask all this with great confidence in your holy name. Amen.”

Merry Christmas

The Nativity (16th c.) - Theophanes the Cretan

1. Shepherds! Shake off your drowsy sleep,
Rise and leave your silly sheep;
Angels from heaven loud are singing;1
Tidings of great joy are bringing.

Shepherds! The chorus come and swell!
Sing Noel! Sing Noel!

2. Hark? Even now the bells ring round,
Listen to their merry sound;
Hark! How the birds new songs are making
As if the winter's chains were breaking.

3. See how the flowers all burst anew,
Thinking snow is summer dew;
See how the stars afresh are glowing,
All their brightest beams bestowing.

4. Cometh at length the age of peace,
Strife and sorrow now shall cease;
Prophets foretold the wondrous story
Of this Heaven-born Prince of Glory.

5. Shepherds! Then up and quick away,
Seek the Babe ere break of day;
He is the hope of every nation,
All in Him shall find salvation.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Constantine's Pillars - Bethelehem

That's right, by Constantine

The Christian faith was beget of the same Lord Who gave and established His Church upon Saint Peter. It is an historic faith. G. K. Chesterton gives an incomparable description of the historic nature of the Catholic Church in his entering the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. From his New Jerusalem:
As familiarity turns the darkness to twilight, and the twilight to a grey daylight, the first impression is that of two rows of towering pillars. They are of a dark red marble; and they are crowned with the acanthus in the manner of the Corinthian school. They were carved and set up at the command of Constantine; and beyond them, at the other end of the church beside the altar, is the dark stairway that descends under the canopies of rock to the stable where Christ was born.

Of all the things I have seen the most convincing, and as it were crushing, were these red columns of Constantine. In explanation of the sentiment there are a thousand things that want saying and cannot be said. Never have I felt so vividly the great fact of our history; that the Christian religion is like a huge bridge across a boundless sea, which alone connects us with the men who made the world, and yet utterly vanished from the world.

[ ... ]

Not in vain had Constantine come clad in purple to look down into that dark cave at his feet; nor did the star mislead him when it seemed to end in the entrails of the earth. The men who followed him passed on, as it were, through the low and vaulted tunnel of the Dark Ages; but they had found the way, and the only way, out of that world of death, and their journey ended in the land of the living. They came out into a world more wonderful than the eyes of men have looked on before or after; they heard the hammers of hundreds of happy craftsmen working for once according to their own will, and saw St. Francis walking with his halo a cloud of birds.

Fr Barron on Christmas, Heresies

Creative Minority Report posts Fr Barron's videos here: Part I - Christmas and Part II - Heresies.

For All the Father Mulcahys

For all the priests whose work goes unthanked and unheralded, yet who unceasingly incarnate Our Lord for us in the work of eucharistic grace and blessing. [ht: Deacon Greg]

Holy Land Franciscans Help Santa

BETHLEHEM, DEC. 23, 2008 (Zenit.org).- According to the Custos of the Holy Land, it is close enough to Christmas to bring gifts to underprivileged boys.

Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa visited Sunday one of the charitable works of the custody, the Boys Home, which gives shelter to boys from needy families.

The home was founded two years ago and has already reached the limit of children and youth it can accept. The boys range in age from six to 18 years.

For Father Pizzaballa's visit, the 30 of them were in attendance, accompanied by a member of their families.

During the homily of the Mass he celebrated, the Franciscan asked the boys where King David was from. Their hesitation eventually melted away to excited answers of Bethlehem, their own hometown.

The priest went on to speak of the liturgical texts of the day and David's desire to build a house for the Lord, who eventually chose his own "house" thanks to Mary's "yes."

The Franciscan assured the boys that with their own "yes" to the Lord, Jesus continues to be born in the world.

After Mass, Santa Claus arrived with an abundance of toys, which Father Pizzaballa helped to distribute.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Soldier's Night Before Christmas

God in the Cave

A new link of note at Chronicles, The Blue Boar, is publishing excerpts from Chesterton's Everlasting Man entitled, The God in the Cave. Here are Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV. Excellent for contemplation of the miracle of the Nativity and Incarnation of Our Lord.

By the way, if you weren't aware of it, shepherds in those days were the social equivalent to, say, bikers today.

Picture in your mind you standing and looking in the window of the nursery at your child when leather-clad, Fu Manchu-mustachioed, really BIG guys come up and start telling you that angels told them about the birth of your son. They are crying with happiness and they pump your hand with joy, hardly taking their eyes off your son for a moment.

That, gentle reader, is what Joseph experienced that holy night.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Feast of Blessed Jacomo - "Crazy Jim"

Danny Kaye as "Jacomo" in The Court Jester
Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna.

His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life.

He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Third Order of St. Francis. Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him.

After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Franciscan Order. Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular.

Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, Stabat Mater.

On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.

Comment:

“Crazy Jim,” his contemporaries called Jacopone. We might well echo their taunt, for what else can you say about a man who broke into song in the midst of all his troubles? We still sing Jacopone’s saddest song, the Stabat Mater, but we Christians claim another song as our own, even when the daily headlines resound with discordant notes. Jacopone’s whole life rang our song out: “Alleluia!” May he inspire us to keep singing.

Caldecott - The Truly Radical

Stratford Caldecott writes at Godspy,
Today’s real radicals are not socialists who believe in big government stepping in to control everything in their name. Nor are they capitalists who still believe that economic competition alone, unregulated, will work in the interest of the common good. The real radicals want to turn everything upside down and base it around the family and the local community – on cooperation rather than competition, with government merely protecting the conditions under which small community can flourish.
Read all of After the Disaster: Back to the Family and Localism.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Penn Jillette - On Proselytizing

As a long time fan of Penn and Teller, and admirer with my Mass'keteer brothers of the Anchoress, I highly recommend that you visit her recent post with video of Penn Jillette, Penn Jillette; slouching toward Bethlehem.

Case of the Screaming Meemees

Beaker gives a demonstration on why "the center will not hold" if it is "all about me."

Birthing Christ

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The preacher of the Pontifical Household is urging the faithful to follow the example of Mary and give birth to Christ this Christmas. Not physically, of course, but spiritually.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa reflected today on giving birth to Christ in one's heart during his third and last Advent sermon this year at the Vatican in the presence of Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia. The talks centered around the theme: "When the Fullness of Time Had Come, God Sent his Son, Born of a Woman: Going With St. Paul to Meet the Christ Who Comes."

"We are mothers of Christ when we carry him in our heart and in our body by divine love and with a pure and sincere conscience," Father Cantalamessa said, quoting St. Francis of Assisi. "We give birth to him through holy works, which should shine forth as an example for others.

"How holy and dear, pleasant, humble, peaceful, lovable and desirable above all things it is to have such a brother and such a son, our Lord Jesus Christ!"
Read all of Father Cantalamessa's homily here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Between Two Advents

Monsignor James P. Moroney's poignant homily, We all ache for God, and we wait… [ht: The Anchoress]

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Little Moment of Joy

Advent is a good time to think about remaining alert for just such graced opportunities.
Please do the world a favor and read our dear friend Gil Bailie's post HERE.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Important read at Chronicles of Atlantis

Our Dear & Wiser Athos has linked a very important article over at Chronicles of Atlantis. Go to it now.

Sorry about being behind but I am battling "what is going around" but on a couple levels up. It has left me weak and now hurting from the coughing attacks. Hopefully the super-charged coughing repressant that doc prescribed for me yesterday will enable me to sleep, for sleep I have not had for about 3 nights.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saint John of the Cross

Today, besides being Gaudete Sunday, is the feast day of Saint John of the Cross. His spiritual concept of the "dark night of the soul" has helped countless believers through the centuries, most recently and famously by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Pray for us, St John of the Cross, now and in our times of the dark night.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gary Sinise - Ace

A cool actor, in my book, just got cooler. Turns out that Gary Sinise is a Catholic convert. [ht: Mark Shea]

And besides supporting the troops, he's a big time supporter of Catholic Education, and has begun an organization called Operation Iraqi Children.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fr Barron - Kerry Kennedy's Book

Liberal Catholicism, cafeteria Catholicism, doctrine, and social justice. [ht: CMR]

Stoning and Binding Back

Ah, the joy of it. The esprit de corps. The comradery. Yes, it's time once again to take part in the ritual of stoning Satan, boys and girls!

There are many fine explications of collective violence and its formative role in the founding and maintenance of culture, based on the cultural anthropology of René Girard - friend and mentor Gil Bailie’s and others - and they all point to the way that ritual is part and parcel with religion. Religion - religare - means etymologially, literally, to "bind back." Thus, a ritual of "stoning Satan" reunites "us" by taking "us" back to a moment of unity. And that moment in this case was clearly a moment of the many against the few, or the one. "Unanimity minus one," in Girard's famous phrase.

When this happened against the Word made flesh, Our Lord, something utterly new was born into the world called the Christian faith. The crucifying mob was seen for what it was: a craven, bloodthirsty pack. Using the satanic mechanism of scapegoating a victim, God turned the tables and showed humanity its bloodthirstiness. The Resurrection is the ultimate vindication of God.

However, sadly, humanity, uninformed by this revelation - as in the case of the Scimitar - continues to "bind back" and reconstitute itself by such rituals as "stoning Satan."

One might understand the terrorist atrocity at Mumbai in a whole new light by applying Girard's mimetic theory to it and the young gunmen (read: ad hoc priests of the primitive sacred).

Monday, December 08, 2008

Franciscan Blessed Comes in Defense of the Immaculate Conception

Blessed John Duns Scotus, besides being known as the 'Subtle Doctor', is also referred to as the 'Marian Doctor'. It was he who presented a systematic theology of the Marian privilege of the Immaculate Conception, which the Catholic Church officially proclaimed as a Dogma of Faith in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of Pope Pius IX on the 8th of December 1854.

Read more from Noel Muscat, a Franciscan Friar Minor from Malta who since 2004 he has been offering his service to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land as Secretary for Formation and Studies. Muscat concludes his great article JOHN DUNS SCOTUS AND HIS DEFENCE OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION this way:
John Duns Scotus can be described as a Franciscan theologian who provided the Church with the Christological basis for the doctrine on the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, in such a way that it could truly be seen as the result of divine revelation. His Christ-centred vision of creation and redemption proves that the primacy of God's love in the mystery of the Incarnation is still at work in the Church and in the world. The mysterium iniquitatis, or mystery of evil, has been won over by Christ and his Immaculate Mother, whom Saint Francis salutes as the Virgo Ecclesia facta, the "Virgin made Church".

Advent Reminder

And now, for something completely different, just in case the news and deluge of pop culture is messing witcha, and you need some reminding of what we're aiming toward during Advent: Maddy Prior and The Carnival Band sing Shepherds Arise here:

Shepherds arise, be not afraid, with hasty steps prepare
To David's city, sin on earth,
With our blest Infant-with our blest Infant there,
With our blest Infant there, with our blest Infant there.
Sing, sing, all earth, sing, sing, all earth eternal praises sing
To our Redeemer, to our Redeemer and our heavenly King.

[ht: The Iconoclast]

Spengler - Baby Bust

The must-read Spengler pitches in at Taki's with Baby Bust: The Demographics of Global Depression.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

2 Advent - A Message for Young Men


A message for young men on the second Sunday of Advent from Thomas Woods' How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization:
Today, all too many younger people have heard the Church's teaching on human intimacy only in caricature, and given the culture within which they live, cannot begin to understand why the Church proposes it. Faithful to the mission she has fulfilled for two millenia, however, the Church still holds out a moral alternative to young people immersed in a culture that relentlessly teaches them to pursue immediate gratification. The Church recalls the great men of Christendom - like Charlemagne, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Francis of Assisi, and Saint Francis Xavier, to name a few - and holds them up as models for how true men live. Its message?

Essentially this: You can aspire to be one of these men - a builder of civilization, a great genius, a servant of God and men, or a heroic missionary - or you can be a self-absorbed nobody fixated on gratifying your appetites. Our society does everything in its power to ensure that you wind up on the latter path. Be your own person. Rise above the herd, declare your independence from a culture that thinks so little of you, and proclaim that you intend to live not as a beast but as a man.

A Bow from P

For health and various situational reasons, I have not been able to keep up with the blog, and think it better now to discontinue.

The other Mass'keteers are truly great friends and we will remain in frequent contact. Actually, I say that selfishly; they are great prayer warriors and I find myself constantly in need of their intercessions!

May they keep up the great work, both here and on their own blogs!

It's been a party, but I pooped out quite a while ago, and it's time to face the facts!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

With the Dawn of Redeeming Grace

Friend and chaste role model, Dawn Eden, is featured in an article in today's WaPo by Jacqueline Salmon, Getting Into Christmas Spirit is Pure Poetry for Catholic Group.

Cantalamessa - Conversion

Conversion of Saint Paul (1600-1601) - Caravaggio

Preacher Delivers Advent Sermon to Pope and Curia
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The conversion of St. Paul is for the Christian a model of true conversion, says Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa.

"Every religious proposal begins by telling men what they must do to save themselves or to obtain 'illumination,'" he said. "Christianity does not begin by telling men what they must do, but what God has done for them in Christ Jesus. Christianity is the religion of grace.""We are not saved by good works," added Father Cantalamessa, "though we are not saved without good works. It is a revolution of which, at a distance of 2,000 years, we still try to be aware."

Regarding the question of conversion, the preacher said that it "is seen as a condition for salvation."

He explained, "Repent and you will be saved; repent and salvation will come to you. This is the predominant meaning that the word conversion has on the lips of John the Baptist (cf. Luke 3:4-6). However, on Jesus' lips this moral meaning takes second place (at least at the beginning of his preaching) in regard to a new meaning, unknown until now."
Read all …

Click ... Click

[ht: Mark Shea]

Bah Humbug - Tarheels

Another reason to root for Duke!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Hunting for Home(r)

Victor David Hanson explores the difficulties of students seeking a classical education in the day of syllabi driven by post-modern babel:

The Humanities Move Off Campus - As the classical university unravels, students seek knowledge and know-how elsewhere.

An Unlikely End to the Story

Granted the obfuscation generated by the mythos of the sacred precinct surrounding him, it is doubtful that anything will come of this. It is fascinating to think, however, that the Constitution of the United States of America could stop the juggernaut dead in its tracks.

He's Grown to Like the Church

The Devil Made Me Do It (or not)



tip to Anchoress

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What Does the Faith Say?

Excerpt of Pope Benedict XVI from Vatican Info Service December 3, 2008 READ all HERE.

In the evolutionist and atheistic view of the world ... it is held that human beings as such have, from the beginning, borne evil and good within themselves. ... Humans are not simply good, but open to good and to evil ... both of them original. Human history then, according to this view, does nothing more than follow the model present in all evolution. What Christians call original sin is only this blend of good and evil".

"This, in the final analysis, is a vision of despair. If it is true, evil is invincible, ... all that counts is individual interest, any form of progress would necessarily be paid for with a river of evil, ... and anyone who wishes to progress would have to pay this price. ... This modern idea, in the end, can create only sadness and cynicism".

"Again we ask ourselves: what does the faith say? ... St. Paul ... confirms the contradiction between the two natures, ... the reality of the darkness of evil weighing upon the whole of creation. Yet, in contrast to the desolation ... of dualism ... and monism, ... the faith speaks to us of two mysteries of light and one of darkness", and the mystery of darkness is "enclosed within in the mysteries of light".

"The faith tells us that there are no two principles, one good and one evil. There is only one principle which is God the Creator and He is solely good, without shadow of evil. Hence, neither are human beings a mix of good and evil. The human being as such is good. ... This is the joyful announcement of the faith: there is but one source, a source of good, the Creator, and for this reason ... life too is good."

Let me throw out only 1 thought here, as one could go into so many teaching directions from this catechesis by Pope Benedict XVI. He explains that the faith holds that there is only 1 principle which is God. He contrasted truth found in faith versus how the dictatorship of relativism ever-so-pervasively seeps in by division. "...relativism, that is, letting oneself be 'tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine,' seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires." HOMILY OF HIS EMINENCE CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER, Vatican Basilica, Monday 18 April 2005

What we must hold to is our faith handed down to us and taught by the Magisterium. This is also why we, the Mass'keteers, hold Girard in good light because his thoughts always have a link to Church teachings.

The Power (Innocence) of the Mob - A Glimpse into Girard 101

I find it interesting that already we have this article buried on the very last page of our paper.
"Literally anyone, those hundreds of people who did make their way into the store, literally had to step over or around him or unfortunately on him to get into the Wal-Mart store," said Mulvey.

Mulvey said an autopsy found that Damour, 34, died of asphyxiation related to his trampling, and he conceded that it would be difficult to file criminal charges against any of the shoppers.

"It goes beyond identifying specific people to make a case," Mulvey said. "You have to establish recklessness or intent to harm, which led to his death."
The fact that this article was nearly buried shows we still have remnants of the mob still at work in our myth-making, culture's attempt to speak what really happened.

There will probably be lawsuits galore coming out of this tragedy. These lawsuits, an out-cropping of the legal system, attempt to act as a mechanism to right a wrong and to hold off future violence of the mob. We must remember that in ancient times, with no such systems in place, there would have been no mob - only innocent people who would have drummed up a myth to veil what actually took place. Girard 101.

Weather @ the Okay Chorale

If the "reformation" hadn't rained havoc on Christendom, the morning weather might be something like this [ht: Whapping]:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

40th Anniversary of the release of the "White Album"

By now you all have heard the newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published a lengthy and laudatory retrospective on the Beatles Nov. 22 to mark the 40th anniversary of the release of the "White Album," the group's groundbreaking double-record set. Well I can't help but pick out one of my all time fav from that Album, While My Guitar Gently Weeps.


I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it need sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don't know why nobody told you
how to unfold you love
I don't know how someone controlled you
they bought and sold you

I look at the world and I notice it's turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don't know how you were diverted
you were perverted too
I don't know how you were inverted
no one alerted you

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at you all
Still my guitar gently weeps

( I look from the wings at the play you are staging
While my guitar gently weeps
As I'm sitting here doing nothing but aging
Still my guitar gently weeps ) - from original harrison version

Oh, oh, oh
oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
oh oh, oh oh, oh oh
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
yeah yeah yeah yeah

We Need Roots

We've heard from Show of Hand their song Country Life now take a listen to Roots.



Now it's been 25 years or more
I've roamed this land from shore to shore
From Tyne to Teign, or Severn to Thames
From moor to vale, from peak to fen

Played in cafes, pubs and bars
I've stood in the street with my own guitar
But I'd be richer than all the rest
If I had a pound for each request

For 'Duelling Banjos', 'American Pie'
It's enough to make you cry
'Rule Britannia', or 'Swing low...'
Are they the only songs we English know?

Seed, bark, flower, fruit
They're never gonna grow without their roots
Branch, stem, shoot
They need roots

After the speeches, when the cake's been cut
The disco's over and the bar is shut
At christening, birthday, wedding or wake
What can we sing 'til the morning breaks

When the Indians, Asians, Afro-Celts
It's in their blood, below their belt
They're playing and dancing all night long
So what have they got right that we've got wrong?

Seed, bark, flower, fruit
They're never gonna grow without their roots
Branch, stem, shoot
They need roots and

Haul away boys, let them go
Out in the wind and the rain and snow
We've lost more than we'll ever know
'Round the rocky shores of England
We need roots

And a minister said his vision of hell
Is three folk singers in a pub near Wales
Well, I've got a vision of urban sprawl
There's pubs where no-one ever sings at all

And everyone stares at a great big screen
Overpaid soccer stars, prancing teens
Australian soap, American rap
Estuary English, baseball caps

And we oughta be ashamed of all we walk
Of the way we look, at the way we talk
Without our stories or our songs

How will we know where we come from?
I've lost St. George and the Union Jack
That's my flag too and I want it back

Seed, bark, flower, fruit
Never gonna grow without their roots
Branch, stem, shoot
We need roots

Haul away boys, let them go
Out in the wind and the rain and snow
We've lost more than we'll ever know
'Round the rocky shores of England
We need roots...

"If only all Catholics were like..."

Read Amy Welborn's entire post.

One sometimes reads, not only in Catholic sources, but non-Catholic sources as well, as sort of wistfulness for the right sort of Catholic. “If only all Catholics were like….I might be more open to it. Too bad the other ones have to be around to ruin it.” Fill in the blank: Mother Angelica. Thomas Merton. King Louis IX. Dorothy Day. Take your pick.

It’s too bad, the implication lurks, that there are those other sort of Catholics who mess up the pretty picture, the perfect embodiment of the Gospel.

It is, indeed, a difficult reality to grasp and live with: the fact that the Body of Christ lives and breathes in the world as it is, not in a world expressive of our own desires and ideals. It is the obstacle that every one of us encounters and must deal with. It is a mystery, but one that when humbly confronted, leads us ultimately to Christ, for we find it is He in whom our faith must rest, not in his poor servants.


...

Layer upon layer. Nothing is simple. In this Body of Christ, paradox reigns, inherent at its root - the Body of the Christ, the Anointed of God, descended from eternity, yet broken, yet risen, yet still embodied here.

Ultimately, to sneer at the wrong sort of Catholic leads us to one place.

The mirror.

But mirrors can break. And in the mess of glass shimmering on the floor, perhaps we can find some authentic light at last, and let ourselves be guided by Him alone, accepting the mess, sweeping up what is possible, but recognizing that the mess belongs to all of us, not just the other.

She concludes her post with the following from the Office fo Readings.

The wonder of the Incarnation by St Gregory Nazianzen
The very Son of God, older than the ages, the invisible, the incomprehensible, the incorporeal, the beginning of beginning, the light of light, the fountain of life and immortality, the image of the archetype, the immovable seal, the perfect likeness, the definition and word of the Father: he it is who comes to his own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like. He takes to himself all that is human, except for sin. He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, who had been first prepared in soul and body by the Spirit; his coming to birth had to be treated with honour, virginity had to receive new honour. He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit. Spirit gave divinity, flesh received it.

He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity. He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory, that I may share in his fullness. What is this wealth of goodness? What is this mystery that surrounds me? I received the likeness of God, but failed to keep it. He takes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh. He enters into a second union with us, a union far more wonderful than the first.

Holiness had to be brought to man by the humanity assumed by one who was God, so that God might overcome the tyrant by force and so deliver us and lead us back to himself through the mediation of his Son. The Son arranged this for the honour of the Father, to whom the Son is clearly obedient in all things.

The Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, came in search of the straying sheep to the mountains and hills on which you used to offer sacrifice. When he found it, he took it on the shoulders that bore the wood of the cross, and led it back to the life of heaven.
Christ, the light of all lights, follows John, the lamp that goes before him. The Word of God follows the voice in the wilderness; the bridegroom follows the bridegroom’s friend, who prepares a worthy people for the Lord by cleansing them by water in preparation for the Spirit.


We need God to take our flesh and die, that we might live. We have died with him, that we may be purified. We have risen again with him, because we have died with him. We have been glorified with him, because we have risen again with him.

The Money Hole - Part 2

First check out part 1 of the Money Hole HERE.

Bipolar Scimitar

Moshe, orphaned son of Rabbi & Rebbetzen Gavriel Holtzberg (via Pam Geller)

I post this via The Curt Jester not to provoke to mimetic rivalry, but to offer those fellow travelers on this garden planet who are interested in Marian chivalry and prayer knighthood grist for our 3:00 a.m. vigils: He is asking where his father is, and crying for his mother.

The problem is, of course, that the Scimitar is bipolar with scriptures that its adherents do not see in terms of progressive revelation. They can justify actions that are one-with the primitive sacred in bloodthirstiness in the words and actions of their Prophet.

And until the Holy Spirit - the Third Person of the Moly Holy Trinity - breaks through into enough hearts and souls of Scimitar religionists to reject this bloodthirsty "holy warrior" ethos, the world will continue to be a dangerous place - particularly for Jews and Christians.

Pray for us, Saint Francis. You had dealings with the Scimitar. We need your prayers again. And how.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Confession

Quite a good exposition of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. [ht: Catholic Exchange]

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Stork

Proof positive that hard-line Scimitarists need to take a look up, realize they are spinning on a minute sphere in the intergalactic stretches of space, marvel and praise God for their lives - or better - get a life instead of being blithering idiots.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Times Have Changed

[ht: New Advent]

Choose This Day

Jeffery T. Kuhner spells it out in no uncertain terms. For my fellow Girardians, we see one of the twin pincers of the primitive sacred: the neo-pagan with its current Gnostic coloration (the other pincer being the Scimitar). Please read the article in full.

The Vatican is the last line of defense against the new Dark Age ... No self-respecting, principled Catholic can or should support murder - regardless of who occupies the White House.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fr. Benedict Groeschel on Spiritual Life (Audio)

More audio!

Fr. Benedict started embedding a spirituality series, "The Steps of the Spiritual Life," within his Sunday Night Live program. I think it's good. You can stream the first two episodes here:

Step 1

Step 2

Suffering & the God of Love

I thought this EWTN series with Fr. Robert Spitzer on suffering was very useful. Click for streamable or downloadable audio. 15 episodes.

True Faith Cannot Be Put Into Parentheses

Over at Chronicles Athos posted Cultural Dialogue linking an earlier NCR blog post by John L. Allen Jr. Here is a newer post on the same topic from Allen.

Allen says, "Put in sound-bite fashion, the pope’s line boils down to this: interreligious dialogue no, intercultural dialogue yes."

Please read his entire post, however I was struck by what Pope B16 says and then I read today's meditation of the day in the Magnificat and it seem to go right along with this idea that we cannot put our faith in parentheses as would be demanded in today's concepts of interreligious dialogue.

The Vigilance of Faith

We believe not in propositions but in the reality which is expressed by the propositions; we believe, not in a creed, but through a creed. The expression of divine reality in human words is necessarily inadequate; the understanding of the divine reality by the human mind is necessarily groping, and we may well make mistakes. It is possible to accept the formulas of the creeds and still to have a quite wrong idea of the nature of God and of his providence; it is possible to worship God and still to fall into a sort of practical idolatry. If you turn your religion into magic, if you expect an immediate and literal answer to all your prayers, if you expect the grace of God to do for you by miracle what only demands a little hard work, you are misunderstanding the faith. If you think of God in such a way as to project on to him the human emotions of jealousy, anger, spite, you are misunderstanding the faith. If you turn your worship into self-indulgence, your progress in virtue into self-glorification or spiritual valetudinarianism, your religion into a purely formal and external affair, your are misunderstanding your faith. If you allow yourself to accept the assumptions of a pagan environment as far as conduct is concerned, and keep your faith in abstraction from practical affairs, you are betraying it. And you are betraying it, too, if you think of it simply as something received from without, a static deposit, which you have only to accept and guard but without making it your own, without becoming it.

The truth is given us from without, yes; but it is something that we have to realize in actual experience: we have to translate the formulas of the creed into the stuff of life; we have to learn so to see the faith in all the everyday circumstances and events of life that it becomes not something we sometimes think of but something we always are.
- Father Gerald Vann, O.P.

Prayer Request

A prayer request: please pray for my 89-year old father who it seems had a heart attack on Thanksgiving Day morning, drove over an hour to visit my brother's family, drove home under his own power, and was only today talked into seeing a doctor. He is now in an intensive care unit and stabilized.

They will decide on Monday how to proceed with treatment.

I've stood as a pastor at many a bedside with heart attack victims who are "stabilized" - only to die quickly and unexpectedly. So, prayers would be appreciated for Athos's old gaffer, Cecil. Many thanks.

Fable

Another with John Abercrombie, this time with Ralph Towner (and another static visual).



In the continuing tour to track down long lost tracks on the ECM label . . .

Timeless

Just a post to stay in the game, before I forget how to access!


John Abercrombie (guitar) Jack Dejohnette (drums) Jan Hammer (keyboards) 1974

This is long, and only has a static visual of the album cover, but I used to love this song and was glad to find it on YouTube!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Joy of the Season Celebrating the Birth of the Christ Child Begins in America

Mark over at Suicide of the West has been following what is turning into the great American rush for Christmas. I posted a comment to an earlier post of his and Mark decided to include my comment in the post. Here is the comment I made to his post where he challenges us to join in on the great Buy Nothing Day:

... as an owner of a small family-owned retail store and the principle person responsible for our store’s advertising I often feel cursed because as a student of René Girard I know the power of mimetic desire - I just don’t have the big huge advertising budget. I also know that all those on Madison Ave to the halls of Wally World’s advertising department are experts at getting people to lust over a … a … you name it, a vacuum cleaner, for extreme example. Remember that mimetic desire relates to people craving … fill in the blank, anything (it is ALL about the craving and not about the stuff).

I also am aware that the folks who create the ads are in need of a pay check as much as the next guy. And the board of directors often have their careers on the line if they aren’t deciding on best ways to improve the bottom-line numbers. Many shareholders have regularly invested important savings into these companies and need solid returns to help their retirement. And the stock brokers need successful businesses to buy and sell… and so goes the modern day American dream.

Girard from “I See Satan Fall Like Lightning” pg 191: “Because of the simple fact that we live in a world whose structure is based on mimetic processes and victim mechanisms, from which we all profit without knowing it, we are all accessories to the Crucifixtion, persecutors of Christ.”

As a student of Girard I also am aware that the only saving grace to all this craziness that always, always, always leads to violence is (on-going) conversion. Anything short of conversion continues to accept the sacrifice of lives. Business tycoons to educators and a whole lot of us in-between simply refuse to believe this fact - our need for conversion. We believe that if we simply put stock in social programs, good will efforts or stop-gap measures we can be a civil, nice and good people. Conversion is for the fool and religious and it doesn’t have much to do with my life, and it certainly won’t put Christmas presents under the tree.

So yes, raise the banner pointing the crowd in some less frazzled horizontal direction but until we get them looking vertically we are only masking over the violence.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

'My Knights, and My Servants, and My True Children, Which Be Come out of Deadly Life into Spiritual Life, I Will Now No Longer Hide Me from You' - Sir William Russell Flint
+
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.

The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.

Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, (1324-26)

Lay Your Money Down

I'm full of turkey, wild rice, Lady Athos' straight-from-Alabama giblet gravy, and tired of one-sided football. How about watching a race between a Bugatti Veyron and Eurofighter Typhoon?

Fr Barron & Indy

For one brief shining moment - no, not Camelot. It is Fr Barron at the nexus of all that is true, good, and beautiful. He is (a) at Banias, Israel, headwaters of the Jordan River in Caesarea Philippi (Remember? "But who do YOU say that I am?"); (b) he is talking about Indiana Jones films about biblical evil of human grasping at divinity in the the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, and Gnosis; and, finally, (c) a cloaked message for us Girardians. See if you can uncover it...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

After bloating out on turkey Black Friday comes

When black friday comes
Ill stand down by the door
And catch the grey men when they
Dive from the fourteenth floor
When black friday comes
Ill collect everything Im owed
And before my friends find out
Ill be on the road
When black friday falls you know its got to be
Dont let it fall on me
When black friday comes
Ill fly down to muswellbrook
Gonna strike all the big red words
From my little black book
Gonna do just what I please
Gonna wear no socks and shoes
With nothing to do but feed
All the kangaroos
When black friday comes Ill be on that hill
You know I will



When black friday comes
Im gonna dig myself a hole
Gonna lay down in it til
I satisfy my soul
Gonna let the world pass by me
The archbishops gonna sanctify me
And if he dont come across
Im gonna let it roll
When black friday comes
Im gonna stake my claim
Ill guess Ill change my name

A Thanksgiving Day tradition


Part 2 is HERE

Ha_ppy Thanks___giv___ing from W_K_R_P



This is the first of my Thanksgiving trilogy.

Feast Day of Franciscan St. Leonard of Port Maurice


Today we celebrated the Franciscan feast day of St Leonard of Port Maurice. From Pray the Rosary.com we read;
The doctrine of Saint Leonard of Port Maurice has saved and will save countless souls till the end of time. Here is what the Church says in the prayer of the Divine Office, Sixth Lesson, speaking of Saint Leonard's heavenly eloquence: Upon hearing him, even hearts of iron and brass were powerfully inclined to penance, by reason of the astonishing effectiveness of the sermon and the preacher's burning zeal. And in the liturgical prayer we ask of the Lord, Give the power to bend the hearts of hardened sinners by the works of preaching.
I have struggled over the last few years with how I have used nice sound-byte quotes to 'justify' my position from a site only to realize that the author of the quote had much more to say then what is represented by the simple quote and without further investigation on my part into the author I find the quotes can be misleading. I think the following is a case in point:

At American Catholic we read this: St. Leonard once said,
"If the Lord at the moment of my death reproves me for being too kind to sinners, I will answer, 'My dear Jesus, if it is a fault to be too kind to sinners, it is a fault I learned from you, for you never scolded anyone who came to you seeking mercy'" (Leonard Foley, O.F. M., St Leonard of Port Maurice, p 9).
This is probably a product of my demented self-projection, but from simply the quote I get a sense of this friar being a free-loving-hippy-type-dude in a brown robe skipping along the path tossing flowers at every one's feet. I find that many, many people have no real clue at the radical nature of Francis. Even today I believe that there are friars who misrepresent the radical nature of his messages - say for example Francis' love of Lady Poverty.

Anyway St Leonard of Port Maurice was no slouch when it came to preaching/teaching the Good News of tough love as we would call it today. Here is a sample of one of his sermons, please take a moment and link to the site reading the entire sermon, it is well worth it.

The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved by St. Leonard of Port Maurice

It is not vain curiosity but salutary precaution to proclaim from the height of the pulpit certain truths which serve wonderfully to contain the indolence of libertines, who are always talking about the mercy of God and about how easy it is to convert, who live plunged in all sorts of sins and are soundly sleeping on the road to hell. To disillusion them and waken them from their torpor, today let us examine this great question: Is the number of Christians who are saved greater than the number of Christians who are damned?

Pious souls, you may leave; this sermon is not for you. Its sole purpose is to contain the pride of libertines who cast the holy fear of God out of their heart and join forces with the devil who, according to the sentiment of Eusebius, damns souls by reassuring them...

...

Sinners, the advice I want to give you will no doubt seem strange to you; but if you understand it well, it is, on the contrary, inspired by tender compassion toward you. I implore you on my knees, by the blood of Christ and by the Heart of Mary, change your life, come back to the road that leads to heaven, and do all you can to belong to the little number of those who are saved. If, instead of this, you want to continue walking on the road that leads to hell, at least find a way to erase your baptism. Woe to you if you take the Holy Name of Jesus Christ and the sacred character of the Christian engraved upon your soul into hell! Your chastisement will be all the greater. So do what I advise you to do: if you do not want to convert, go this very day and ask your pastor to erase your name from the baptismal register, so that there may not remain any remembrance of your ever having been a Christian; implore your Guardian Angel to erase from his book of graces the inspirations and aids he has given you on orders from God, for woe to you if he recalls them! Tell Our Lord to take back His faith, His baptism, His sacraments.

You are horror-struck at such a thought? Well then, cast yourself at the feet of Jesus Christ and say to Him, with tearful eyes and contrite heart: "Lord, I confess that up till now I have not lived as a Christian. I am not worthy to be numbered among Your elect. I recognize that I deserve to be damned; but Your mercy is great and, full of confidence in Your grace, I say to You that I want to save my soul, even if I have to sacrifice my fortune, my honor, my very life, as long as I am saved. If I have been unfaithful up to now, I repent, I deplore, I detest my infidelity, I ask You humbly to forgive me for it. Forgive me, good Jesus, and strengthen me also, that I may be saved. I ask You not for wealth, honor or prosperity; I ask you for one thing only, to save my soul."


Francis lived in such joy because he understood the lowliness and sinfulness of his pride. He could and did experience the sheer wonderment of God and His Creation because he lived in total dependence and obedience to Christ. Francis knew sin and the power of sin - it is only through this deep understanding of the power of sin that Francis desired nothing, nothing other than to be Christ's servant. Francis knew in his bones that his only salvation came from a total YES, a Mary's yes to God through service, devotion and love of Christ.

God grant today that I may repent of my sins and lead me back to the lower road that leads to heaven.

Fr Z's 20-Tips

You've perhaps seen it before, you'll see it again, but here it is for your spiritual bullpen -- Father Z’s 20-tips to making a good confession.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Weigel - Two Americas

George Weigel gives expression to Two Americas: (W)hat this year’s election cycle clarified decisively is that the great public fissure in these United States is between the culture of life and the culture of death.

Corpus Christianum - An Invitation

From the members of Corpus Christianum comes this new video invitation. Speaking for myself - I, Athos, type this with my own hand - Come join our merry band of chivalric prayer knights-errant.

The Acting Alone is Worth It

All right, all right. You've seen it featured elsewhere, but not succumbed to the 'play' button. It's time to lower the quality of the terms of discourse for a moment and watch The Onion's Money Hole. (Warning: brief scatological reference - Gr. skubbalon - Hey, St. Paul used it too)

Valencia Chalice

The Achievement of the Grail (1891-4) - Tapestry, Edward Burne-Jones

ZENIT reports on more research taking place on the authenticity of the Valencia chalice as the holy Grail.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Culture of Un-Life, Deviancy, Degeneracy


If this took place to strategize about this, then perhaps discussion can finally be brought out into the open about the degenerate (literally) and aberrant sexual practices born of fallen human nature.

But my hunch is that like the early Christians in the catacombs, or English Catholics during Cecil/Lord Burleigh's tightening noose (or fictionally, the "Old Narnians" during the Telmarines' reign in Lewis' Prince Caspian), this will become yet another episode in the sad history of conventional culture in which those who oppose such deviancy in the name of Natural Law and revealed truth will become victim fodder for the sacrificial mechanism of the on-coming neo-pagan revival under the cloak of "enlightened" pragmatism.

Addendum: The deuced thing about the sacred, as R. Girard has explicated, is its power to hem in and seem a masterful and conspiratorial thing. It is hardly so; rather, a clumsy, unconscious thing that overpowers humans with character disorders and hubris aplenty.

If and when push comes to shove in the above matter, members of the Catholic Church and all Christians downstream of her would do well to begin to mimic our elder brothers in the biblical faith, the Jews, and let the pagans wreak their own havoc. But marriage, the family, and the Church should be inviolable and precious; precious as the Magisterium vouchsafed to us.

Reno - Roots, Land, & Show of Hands

R. R. Reno (We Need Roots)nails it for this neo-Distributist (not to be confused with a Redistributist like Big O):

G.K. Chesterton was a sucker for romantic gestures. Lines of soldiers with swords crossed, flags rippling in the wind, cathedral bells tolling: These sorts of scenes moved him, as did visions of lovers pledging themselves to each other in the dusky darkness of a summer evening, monks prostrate on cold, stone, chapel floors as they take their vows, and the quiet, invincible resolution of solitary soldiers who face impossible odds. Life is better—richer, deeper, thicker—for our loyalties and loves.

I share this Chestertonian sensibility, which is why the new music from the English folk band, Show of Hands, gives me goose bumps.

Listen to the band’s bitter lament, “Country Life.” The accompanying video on YouTube features harsh black and white images that match the cutting lyrics.