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Dec. 4th, 2011


(no subject)

LJ, for me, is like that loyal great old friend who I know I should visit more often but always manage to shamefully forget.

Oh by the way. I got married two and half years ago to a pretty fantastic woman. Together we helped make two bewildering little sons.

Life hasn't been easy but it sure hasn't been dreadful either.

Here's hoping you'll take me back, LJ.

Aug. 26th, 2009

von Balthasar




When I wrote my last public entry, I had no intention of delaying over 2 years before I would use this forum again. Much has changed since then, many good things and few to lament. Yet, it feels like home to return here to the quiet and fairly anonymous stranger-friends of LJ.

A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day, being the shortest day
by John Donne

'Tis the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
The world's whole sap is sunk ;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd ; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring ;
For I am every dead thing,
In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness ;
He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have ;
I, by Love's limbec, am the grave
Of all, that's nothing. Oft a flood
Have we two wept, and so
Drown'd the whole world, us two ; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else ; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—
Of the first nothing the elixir grown ;
Were I a man, that I were one
I needs must know ; I should prefer,
If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means ; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love ; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.

But I am none ; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
At this time to the Goat is run
To fetch new lust, and give it you,
Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night's festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.

Mar. 18th, 2007

von Balthasar

A Passing Thought

Rome will always hold a place, a place of stable petrus, in orthodox Christianity, but it may not always be (if ever) Christianity's sole arbiter of Tradition and Scripture.
Gerard Manley Hopkins


commonreader, with her inspired James Joyce excerpt, prompted me to do the same but in a somewhat different vein:

His mind when wearied of its search for the essence of beauty amid the spectral words of Aristotle or Aquinas turned often for its pleasure to the dainty songs of the Elizabethans. His mind, in the vesture of a doubting monk, stood often in shadow under the windows of that age, to hear the grave and mocking music of the lutenists or the frank laughter of waist-coateers until a laugh too low, a phrase, tarnished by time, of chambering and false honour stung his monkish pride and drove him on from his lurking-place.

The lore which he was believed to pass his days brooding upon so that it had rapt him from the companionship of youth was only a garner of slender sentences from Aristotle's poetics and psychology and a SYNOPSIS PHILOSOPHIAE SCHOLASTICAE AD MENTEM DIVI THOMAE. His thinking was a dusk of doubt and self-mistrust, lit up at moments by the lightnings of intuition, but lightnings of so clear a splendour that in those moments the world perished about his feet as if it had been fire-consumed; and thereafter his tongue grew heavy and he met the eyes of others with unanswering eyes, for he felt that the spirit of beauty had folded him round like a mantle and that in revery at least he had been acquainted with nobility. But when this brief pride of silence upheld him no longer he was glad to find himself still in the midst of common lives, passing on his way amid the squalor and noise and sloth of the city fearlessly and with a light heart.

Mar. 4th, 2007



The King of France found in India ? Excellent.

via Shrine of the Holy Whapping
Balthazar Napoleon de Bourbon, a jovial Indian lawyer and part-time farmer, has always been fascinated by France. Framed pictures of the Eiffel Tower and the palace of Versailles implausibly decorate his house in a dusty, bustling suburb of the central Indian city of Bhopal. He gave his children French names even though he has never set foot in France.


This Indian father-of-three is being feted as the long-lost descendent of the Bourbon kings who ruled France from the 16th century to the French revolution. A distant cousin of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, he is alleged to be not only related to the current Bourbon king of Spain and the Bourbon descendants still in France, but to have more claim than any of them to the French crown.

Michael of Greece, who lives in Paris and is of Bourbon descent, believes his detective work on his newfound Indian "cousins" is more than just the latest whimsy in a history of attempts to uncover relatives of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

"If I am right - and I don't have absolute proof, but I completely believe in my theory - then Balthazar Bourbon would be the eldest in the line," he told the Guardian.

"This is the cherry on the cake. Mr Bourbon is head of a decent, dignified, middle-class Indian family. They look so Indian and yet bear this name. When you look at them, it seems incredible. The more unbelievable it is, the more I believe in it."

He said several of his royal relatives in Spain and France were "quite excited and thrilled to have found a new branch". He was in favour of a DNA test, perhaps from a surviving lock of Bourbon hair, to establish the facts.

Jan. 7th, 2007

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Unused, forgotten grandeur

Chapel of Our Sorrowful Mother at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital, Wichita Kansas
photo by Eric L. Huard

In Into Great Silence , an exquisite documentary of life behind the Grand Chartreuse, one the few moments of dialogue heard in the film occurs during the monks' bi-weekly recreational walks. The conversation revolves around the ancient Carthusian tradition of "washing" their hands before entering the refectory for meals. Overall, the gesture is purely symbolic as the film previously shows each monk pouring a few droplets of water from a single basin onto their hands as they scurry along in single file.

Although the topic of discussion centers on a minor, obscure monastic tradition, the underlying wisdom says much about Liturgy and the attitude appropriate for its study, implementation, and development.

"In Silignac, they have not been washing their hands before the refectory for 20 years now."
"Do you think we should stop washing our hands?"
"No, but it wouldn't be a big deal to get rid of something useless."
"Our entire life, the whole liturgy, and everything ceremonial are symbols. If you abolish the symbols, then you tear down the walls of your own house."
"In the Monastery in Pavia, instead of one wash-basin they have six. There you can wash your hands properly."
"Yes, they are also Trappists!"
"When we abolish the signs, we lose our orientation. Instead, we should search for their meaning."
"But one should unfold the core of the symbols."
"The signs are not to be questioned, we are."
"I'm not against handwashing. I just forget to dirty my hands first."
"The error is not to be found in handwashing. The error is to be found in our minds."

A wonderful, almost necessary complement to the film is the book, An Infinity of Little Hours by Nancy Klein Maguire. I highly recommend.
von Balthasar

English-speaking intellectual support of the 1962 Missale Romanum

via The New Liturgical Movement

Epiphany Declaration Published: English Speaking Writers and Intellectuals Join Chorus of International Support for possible Papal Motu Proprio



We, Catholic laity and clergy, predominantly of various English-speaking lands, express our hope and desire to see the form of liturgy used prior to and during the Second Vatican Council given, again, greater freedom of use in the life of the Catholic Church and we express our enthusiastic support for any papal initiative to the same end.

We join in spirit as well with those figures of yesteryear who, in 1971, successfully petitioned the Holy See for the continued use of the classical Roman liturgy, deemed by them and by us as a spiritual and cultural treasure of inestimable value. Today in a similar spirit of love for the Church and her rich liturgical tradition, we unite our own voices with those heard in the recent past: with those of Agatha Christie, Cyril Connolly, Kenneth Clark, Graham Greene, Cecil Day Lewis, Malcolm Muggeridge and Iris Murdoch. Moreover, we join with the likes of such esteemed individuals as Evelyn Waugh in expressing our profound attachment to this liturgical treasure of Church.

As such, we wish to voice our support for the possible initiative of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, which is thought to allow for the wider usage of the classical Roman liturgy in the hope that:

1. Pastorally, the "rightful aspirations" (cf. Ecclesia Dei adflicta) of Catholics attached to the classical form of the Roman liturgy might be more freely and readily realized in the Latin rite;

2. The ancient liturgical usages of the West might be fostered as living forms of worship in the Church, enjoying full right of citizenship in the same – the classical Roman rite as well as the ancient liturgical rites and uses of the religious orders and primatial sees which formed a part of the living, organic and legitimate liturgical diversity of the Church until recent times.

Finally, we believe that the presence of the classical form of the Roman liturgy in broader ecclesial and parish life will positively contribute to the ongoing efforts to implement the liturgical reforms promulgated by the Second Vatican Council as delineated in Sacrosanctum Concilium, and as envisioned by the Fathers of the aforesaid Council.

Saturday, January 6th
Feast of the Epiphany


Matthew Alderman, Intern Architect and Liturgical Artist (USA)
Dr. Deri Balázs, Head of the department of Latin (Eötvös Loránd University), Director of the Institute for Ancient Studies, Editor-in-chief of the Hungarian Church Music Review (Budapest)
James Bogle, Esq., Barrister (London, UK)
Daniel J. Cassidy, Editor-in-Chief, Crisis in Education (USA)
Christian Champion, Department of History (McGill University, Canada)
Fr. Richard G. Cipolla, Ph.D., D. Phil.(Oxon), Chairman, Classics Department. (Brunswick School, Greenwich, CT, USA)
Stephen M. Collins, Musician (USA)
László Dobszay, Writer, Professor (Liszt Ferenc Music Academy, Budapest)
Colin B. Donovan, STL (USA)
Fr. Lawrence Donnelly (Canada)
Jane Errera, M.A., Musician and Speaker (USA)
Fr. Timothy Finigan, MA, STL, Lecturer, Founder of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life (UK)
Fr. Gregoire J. Fluet, Ph.D, K.H.S, V.F., Vice-President, Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Cromwell, Connecticut, Pastor (St. Bridget of Kildare Church, Moodus, CT, USA)
Dr. Michael P. Foley, Assistant Professor of Patristics (Baylor University, USA)
Michael Gilchrist, Editor, AD2000 (Australia)
J. Richard Haefer, Professor of Music (Arizona State University, USA)
Rev. Dr. Laurence Paul Hemming (Heythrop College, University of London, UK)
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, Author and Speaker (USA)
Fr. Thomas Kocik, Author (USA)
Fr. Matthew L. Lamb, Professor of Theology (Ave Maria University, USA)
Philip Lawler, Editor, Catholic World News (USA)
Michael Lawrence, Musician and Writer (USA)
Joseph Mansfield, M.Ed, President of TennSoft LLC (Retired) (USA)
Roger McCaffrey, Catholic publisher (USA)
Dr. Dennis Q. McInerney, Professor (Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, USA)
Dr. Stephen McInerney, Lecturer/English Literature (Campion College, Australia)
Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP, John Paul II Lecturer in Roman Catholic Theology (Oxford University, UK)
Dr. Susan Frank Parsons, President, Society for the Study of Christian Ethics (UK), Co-Founder of the Society of St Catherine of Siena (UK)
Joseph Pearce, Writer, Professor of Literature (Ave Maria University, USA)
Michael Procter, MA LRAM ARCM FRSA, Editor and publisher of Sacred Polyphony, Director of the International Academy of Sacred Music (Venice)
Dr. John C. Rao (D.Phil., Oxford), Associate Professor of History (St. John's University); Chairman, The Roman Forum (USA)
Dr. Alcuin Reid, Liturgical Scholar and Author (UK)
Daniel W. Sexton, Attorney at law (USA)
Dr. Joseph Shaw, Fellow in Philosophy (St Benet's Hall, Oxford University, UK)
Dr. Barry Spurr, Senior Lecturer in English (University of Sydney, Australia)
Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz, Freelance writer in the Catholic media (USA)
Shawn R. Tribe, Writer (Canada)
Edward S. Turner III, CIO IVES Group (USA)
Paul M. Weber, Assistant Professor of Music (Franciscan University of Steubenville, USA)
Fr. Samuel F. Weber, O.S.B., (Wake Forest University Divinity School, USA)
Amy Welborn, Catholic Author (USA)
Fr. Joseph Wilson (USA)
Kieron Wood, Barrister-at-Law (Dublin, Ireland)
Dr. Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Historian and Author (USA)


The joy and shame of being a tourist. I had to take a picture of Multnomah Falls. And a few others.

see moreCollapse )

Oct. 26th, 2006


Stolen from Daniel Mitsui at THE LION AND THE CARDINAL



Tribute to a Great Teacher

September 2006

Dear Friends of Clear Creek Monastery,

Many are the spiritual streams and rivers that have joined in a confluence of grace to produce our monastic foundation on the banks of Clear Creek in Oklahoma. I would like to evoke here one of the human instruments, one of the "conduits" of these living waters of wisdom and Divine love, who, perhaps more than any other, prepared the ways of God's Providence.

Many of you are familiar with the story that began over thirty years ago at the University of Kansas, involving a wave of conversions to the Catholic faith and three professors, who shared a common vision of education, which was both steeped in tradition and overflowing with the youthful optimism of a new beginning. The goal of this "experiment in tradition" as it has been called, was to rescue the hearts and minds of a generation of students who were falling prey to the cynicism and spiritual bankruptcy of the age. What brought the "experiment" to an end was that fact that it succeeded all too well, fomenting jealousy and "death by administration" as was said of its suppression.

John Senior was born in 1923 and grew up in rural Long Island. the sight of social injustice in the 1930s turned him towards Marxism. Later, during is studies at Columbia, he was struck by the vital significance of religion in literature. He did his doctorate on the influence of occult philosophy in modern poetry. This study eventually led him to Eastern philosophy and mysticism. In the late 1950, he happened to read St. Thomas Aquinas, where he discovered a realist philosophy of being. This totally transformed the intellectual landscape of his life and helped bring him to Christ. He was received into the Catholic Church along with his family on Holy Thursday, 1960.

At the time of his conversion, Senior was teaching English at Cornell, but the following year he switched to the University of Wyoming, where he hoped to find simpler and healthier minds, He soon experienced the difficulty of teaching anything serious to students cut off from reality by a diffused relativism, by infatuation with modern technology, by rock n' roll music, and the rest of what was already a cultural revolution in the making. "I understood", he wrote, "that the scholastic system of philosophy, as efficient as it is to refute rationalist skepticism, had no hold on students whose minds were disconnected from sensible and emotional realities". Consequently, he focused his effort on pre-philosophical formation, on the experience of creation and natural things - cultivated through poetry - so as to nourish his students' conviction that goodness, truth, and beauty really do exist and to get them back in touch with the real world and interested in learning.

John Senior's teaching met with success in Wyoming: he was named one of the top fifty teachers in the United States by Esquire Magazine in 1966. But in 1967, he transferred to the University of Kansas where he met two like-minded professors, Dennis Quinn and Franklyn Nelick, with whom he launched the Pearson Integrated Humanities Program in 1970. The Program soon proved to have an extraordinary impact on the students who enrolled. The Great Books of Western Civilization came alive in lectures led simultaneously by the three professors. Young men and women discovered to their surprise that these literary works containing "the greatest things ever said and done" in the past, could speak to their own lives in the present.

Unlike most faculty members of large universities, the professors of the Humanities Program made themselves available for the many questions students had even outside the classroom. It was in this informal context that John Senior, in particular, would share his enthusiasm for the Catholic faith with those who brought up that question. It has been estimated that some 150 students entered the Catholic Church under his guidance, and that of the other professors during the years of the Program.

For students or others who wanted to "do something more" with their faith, Senior encouraged interest in the monastic life. "In the moral and spiritual order", he explained, "we become what we wear as much as what we wear becomes us - and it is the same with how we eat and what we do. That is the secret of St. Benedict's Rule, which in the strict sense regulated monasteries and in the wider sense, through the influence and example of monasteries - civilized Europe. The habits of the monks, the bells, the ordered life, the conversation, the music, gardens, prayer, hard work, and walls - all these accidental and incidental forms conformed the moral and spiritual life of Christians to the love of Mary and her Son."

In 1972, a couple of these student converts to the Catholic Church expressed interest in making a pilgrimage through Europe. Senior encouraged this knowing the importance for them of witnessing what remained of the great monuments - both alive and not-so-alive - of that Christian culture which Europe once was, and still is to some extent. He had heard of a monastery called "Fontgombault", which he wanted them to visit. He even dreamed that they might bring back a monk and start a monastery like Fontgombault somewhere in Kansas.

After visiting Rome, the two young men did make their way to Fontgombault and were immediately won over by what hey saw. The Superior of the Monastery, Abbot Jean Roy, said he could not send a monk back to the United States, but he allowed the two travelers to come back and make a longer stay together with other young Americans. One of the original two eventually entered the monastery. During the next few years many Americans visited Fontgombault, usually staying for several months. Some entered the Novitiate. Of these pioneers, seven persevered in the monastic life and were able to be among the thirteen founders of Our lady of Clear Creek Monastery.

Because of a severe heart condition, John Senior retired in 1983. He remained active, however, notably in cultivating a friendly contact with many of his former students. On April 8, 1999, he left this world to enter into the great mystery of God that he had so often spoken about. He died with the consolation that the monastery for which he had done so much to prepare would become a reality later that year in September.

Although so much could be said about the great educator and amazing soul that was John Senior, I would like to conclude this modest portrait with a quote from a letter he wrote not long before his death:

"I've been resisting those Holy Angels you wrote of whose music is like the "gentle voices" to old Black Joe. For one thing, I still cling to persons beloved and even to poems, like Virgil's on whose Georgics I've been spending several hours per day!... For another, like old Simeon, I await at least the reflection of my own salvation when my eyes shall have seen the longed for American foundation! It's the same with me, in my lesser state, as you said so well of yourself in yours: I've spent the last twenty years forgetting and remembering "the same thing". What thing? You say you don't know any adequate definition? That is because it is Him. There is no definition of singulars - only the grasp, the clasp: "et ipse accepit eum in ulnas suas et benedixit Deum et dixit: Nunc dimittis servus tuum, Domine."

-- Bro. Philip Anderson, Prior of Our Lady of Clear Creek

[end quote]

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