Monday, November 27, 2006
Enjoy, and God bless Sir Alec and his family and God rest his soul. ~ susie
Terry Mattingly's religion column for 08/09/2000
When Sir Alec Guinness began pouring himself into a new character, the first thing he focused on was the legs.
The goal was to discover how the character carried himself day, after day. Once Guinness had the walk right, he could ask why the man walked that way. This would then affect his stature, speech and mannerisms. If he could get the feet and legs right, the rest would follow.
This truth also could be applied to Guinness, 86, who died last week (Aug. 5). What, for example, would compel this most reserved and private of superstars to run through a London street and then fall on his knees?
In his autobiography, "Blessings in Disguise," the actor described one such scene: "I was walking up Kingsway in the middle of an afternoon when an impulse compelled me to start running. With joy in my heart, and in a state of almost sexual excitement, I ran until I reached the little Catholic church there ... which I had never entered before; I knelt; caught my breath, and for 10 minutes was lost to the world."
Guinness was at a loss to explain his actions. He finally decided it was a "rather nonsensical gesture of love," an outburst of thanksgiving for the faith of the ages. The actor dashed into that church not long after March 24, 1956, when he converted to Roman Catholicism and ended his pilgrimage from atheism to Christianity.
The actor liked to quote the witty British writer G.K. Chesterton, who said: "The Church is the one thing that saves a man from the degrading servitude of being a child of his time."
Public tributes to Guinness have emphasized his remarkable range in a 66-year career on stage and in film, from "Hamlet" to "Murder By Death," from "The Bridge on the River Kwai" to "Star Wars." Few have mentioned his conversion -- including a faith-free 3,100-word New York Times obituary -- or pondered its impact.
"Guinness didn't have to show off his faith. It had soaked in," said Joseph Pearce, author of "Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief."
"He just was who he was. All that we really know about Sir Alec Guinness -- right down the line -- is that he did not consider his life to be public property. ... He was particularly irritated when people would, literally, come up to him after Mass and try to talk to him about his movies."
Now there's a scene. Picture someone confronting Guinness, moments after he had knelt to receive Holy Communion, and asking about Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Guinness took his first steps to faith while playing Father Brown, Chesterton's great detective-priest. Shortly before work began on the 1954 film, which in America was called "The Detective," the actor's young son, Matthew, was stricken by polio. As Guinness walked home each night from the studio, he began visiting a Catholic sanctuary, to sit -- alone.
Finally, he struck what he called a "negative bargain" with God. If his son recovered, Guinness vowed never to prevent the son from converting. Soon the boy walked, and then ran. The next year, Guinness made the first of many retreats to Mount St. Bernard Abbey. By 1957, father, mother and son were Catholics.
It's crucial, said Pearce, to note that Guinness converted in an era when a spiritual lightning bolt crackled through British intellectual life -- affecting the faith and work of Chesterton, T.S. Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, Graham Greene, Malcolm Muggeridge and many others.
"It would be wrong to try to see Alec Guinness in isolation," said Pearce, whose book covers this period and drew a letter of gratitude from the actor. "But Guinness was not as outspoken as some others. He did not wear his faith on his sleeve, like a Chesterton. He was not an evangelist. ... But his faith did affect his life and his work.
"For most artists who are Christians, there is just no way of disentangling the two -- the life and the art. It's a meaningless question. That is, if the person was genuinely committed to practicing his faith, which Guinness most certainly was."
Sunday, November 26, 2006
I have thought much of the Cross lately. We had a relic of the one True Cross at St. Robert Bellarmine about a month ago. I've been taken with the feet of Christ on the crucifixes I've seen lately, in so many churches, and I plan on compiling the lot of them and make a collage or a slideshow. They're all so different yet the same. They're sometimes larger than would seem, as a pilgrim noticed and told Denise and me at the Holy Family Shrine a few weeks ago. It has given me much pause, too, to ponder those pierced, precious feet.
To me, the feet that carried the sins of the entire world, certainly had to be large. They carried the good news to the world also, but the world - for the most part - has rejected that good news. But for those of us who have, by grace, received the good news, and welcomed Christ into our hearts and lives, then we see that those feet deserve our love, and our kisses. I don't go up and kiss the feet on the crucifixes, but if I did, Christ would know my heart, that I don't worship 'carved' feet, made by a man, but HIS Feet...made by God, knitted together in Mary's womb. Those feet, represented in carved images, are the feet worthy of worship. We go to them in the silence of our hearts and see them with the eyes of faith.
They deserve to be bathed in the "perfume" of our lives, broken like that alabastar jar which Mary Magadalene so humbly lavished on our Savior before he would be nailed to that cedar Cross. I came across this today while looking for the words to the hymn mentioned. I might have to go to our parish tomorrow and copy the hymn and post it as I've not yet found it on line.. I'm just thankful for such awe inspiring artists who have gifted our Church with these blessed images. We need the Cross. We need the suffering Christ hanging before us, without embarrassment or compromise. We can't focus only on the "glorified" Christ that is appearing in many parishes, while the crucified Christ is made smaller and smaller and placed off to the side, hardly noticeable.
We can't escape the Cross...the Cross is where we began as Christians and where we must go to 'cross' over to the other side of the veil...only after the Cross will we go to glory and behold not the wood... but the Throne.
Regarding the veneration of the Cross:
In passing to a detailed examination of the Catholic doctrine on this subject of the cult due to the Cross, it will be well to notice the theories of Brock, the Abbé Ansault, le Mortillet, and others who pretend to have discovered that cult among the pagans before the time of Christ. For a demonstration of the purely Christian origin of the Christian devotion the reader is referred to ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CROSS AND CRUCIFIX. See also the works of Harlay, Lafargue, and others cited at the end of this section. With reference, in particular, to the ansated cross of Egypt, Letronne, Raoul-Rochette, and Lajard discuss with much learning the symbolism of that simple hieroglyphic of life, in which the Christians of Egypt seem to have recognized an anticipatory revelation of the Christian Cross, and which they employed in their monuments. According to the text of the Second Council of Nicæa cited above, the cult of the Cross is based upon the same principles as that of relics and images in general, although, to be sure, the True Cross holds the highest place in dignity among all relics. The observation of Petavius (XV, xiii, 1) should be noted here: that this cult must be considered as not belonging to the substance of religion, but as being one of the adiaphora, or things not absolutely necessary to salvation. Indeed, while it is of faith that this cult is useful, lawful, even pious and worthy of praise and of encouragement, and while we are not permitted to speak against it as something pernicious, still it is one of those devotional practices which the church can encourage, or restrain, or stop, according to circumstances. This explains how the veneration of images was forbidden to the Jews by that text of Exodus (xx, 4 sqq.) which has been so grossly abused by Iconoclasts and Protestants: "Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them: I am the Lord thy God," etc. It also explains the fact that in the first ages of Christianity, when converts from paganism were so numerous, and the impression of idol-worship was so fresh, the Church found it advisable not to permit the development of this cult of images; but later, when that danger had disappeared, when Christian traditions and Christian instinct had gained strength, the cult developed more freely. Again, it should be noted that the cult of images and relics is not that of latria, which is the adoration due to God alone, but is, as the Second Council of Nicæa teaches, a relative veneration paid to the image or relic and referring to that which it represents. Precisely this same doctrine is repeated in Sess. XXV of the Council of Trent: "Images are not to be worshipped because it is believed that some divinity or power resides in them and that they must be worshipped on that account, or because we ought to ask anything of them, or because we should put our trust in them, as was done by the gentiles of old who placed their hope in idols but because the honour which is shown to them is referred to the prototypes which they represent; so that through the images which we kiss, and before which we kneel, we may adore Christ, and venerate the saints, whose resemblances they bear." (See also IMAGES.)
This clear doctrine, which cuts short every objection, is also that taught by Bellarmine, by Bossuet, and by Petavius. It must be said, however, that this view was not always so clearly taught. Following Bl. Albertus Magnus and Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure St. Thomas, and a, section of the Schoolmen who appear to have overlooked the Second Council of Nicæa teach that the worship rendered to the Cross and the image of Christ is that of latria, but with a distinction: the same worship is due to the image and its exemplar but the exemplar is honoured for Himself (or for itself), with an absolute worship; the image because of its exemplar, with a relative worship. The object of the adoration is the same, primary in regard to the exemplar and secondary in regard to the image. To the image of Christ, then, we owe a worship of latria as well as to His Person. The image, in fact, is morally one with its prototype, and, thus considered, if a lesser degree of worship be rendered to the image, that worship must reach the exemplar lessened in degree. Against this theory an attack has recently been made in "The Tablet", the opinion attributed to the Thomists being sharply combated. Its adversaries have endeavoured to prove that the image of Christ should be venerated but with a lesser degree of honour than its exemplar.
The cult paid to it, they say, is simply analogous to the cult of latria, but in its nature different and inferior. No image of Christ, then, should be honoured with the worship of latria, and, moreover, the term "relative latria", invented by the Thomists, ought to be banished from theological language as equivocal and dangerous.-- Of these opinions the former rests chiefly upon consideration of pure reason, the latter upon ecclesiastical tradition, notably upon the Second Council of Nicæa and its confirmation by the Fourth Council of Constantinople and upon the decree of the Council of Trent.
I love this painting and see that the board he's planing, is held so tenderly, so thoughtfully by his gentle hands. He's embracing it with his whole body...like he "knows" what is ahead in some 20+ years. Is he praying in his "father's workshop" that he'll be able to go through the suffering, and fulfill the will of his Father in Heaven, by embracing a more heavy timber, with much larger splinters? Each of our sins were/are like the many splinters on that beam he carried on his shoulder on the Via Dolorosa. The shoulder wound, I've read is the one that gave him the most pain of all his wounds. The weight of our sins, tore his flesh on his shoulder, and exposed bone and I notice he's got part of this board on his left shoulder. Is he praying for his Mother, that she'll be able to remain along side him, in his agony, while hers will be so deep that he'll barely be able to contain his sorrow for her?
Did Mary come out to the shop with lemonade and cakes for their lunch and did she know "something" as she watched her son so skillfully maneuver his plane across that beam? Did it give her pause and cause her to ponder in her heart, as she'd done since the annunciation, how her son would die? Did she know that he'd not be with her much longer than two more decades?
As the Word of God, before the creation of man, he created trees of all kinds, that clean the atmosphere and give beauty to the world, housing birds and squirrels providing the relief of shade on a hot summer day. He became a carpenter, a fine craftsman, and worked with the wood provided by these trees to create beautiful, useful things for others...and yet it was the very same wood that would hold his beaten body, where rivulets of blood would stain that wood, and would run down that wood to the holy ground that shook as the sky grew dark and He cried out, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" Did he pray that his followers would find the strength to pray and trust in him to help them carry their own crosses? Did he pray we'd not leave our crosses on the ground in search of a more easy life, and then lose our souls, for material gain, health, addictions to ease or take away pain, aquiring riches as a sign of success, instead of the cross of suffering, that comes before true glory? I wonder....
Monday, November 20, 2006
When she looked up, she saw her son's feet with a huge nail driven through them. If Mary, the Mother of Christ had to suffer the agony of watching her son tortured and crucified, we must realize that we are not going to get off "scot free" from suffering and death. He suffered and died not so that we wouldn't have to, but so that we could endure our suffering and death. Joined to Christ by our suffering is our greatest testimony to love- that we lay our lives down for another.
Sacrifice isn't a word heard it today without being spoken in a derogatory manner, most often. We're American's after all right? I mean, it's 2006! We've got fast food, microwaves, fast cars, jets, e-mail, internet, etc. Everything is at our fingertips that we could possibly need, use or want, to make our lives easier than in earlier generations. All well and good, except when it flows into our Christianity, that's when the red flags are waving, and hopefully, we notice and heed their warning. If we ignore them, and we start believing in an "easy, cheap grace" we're in a very precarious place! Therein lies the potential danger of thinking our faith is supposed to make everything easy, and we're to live free without pain. God forbid!
We must go to the foot of the cross. We have to walk the road to Calvary as did our Lord. We look up and see His holy, bloody feet and having carried our cross there, with our shame, pain, guilt, sin, joy we lay it all down. We take our ALL to him and lay ourselves at his feet in sacrifice so that we can then go out to our world and lay our lives down for our friends and our enemies.
Please read the lives of the Saints and learn of them through their stories. See what their faith in Christ and the Eucharist cost them, and ask their intercession for your own journey toward Heaven, so that you and I can live this life and endure all things in and for His Name and for the redemtption of souls. When we join our prayers and our lives with the Communion of Saints, we have power to overcome temptations, and sin, and self-pity and self-love...the root of sin...pride. Remember, the proud God will reject, not because God is a mean tyrant, but because He is LOVE. However, a contrite spirit and broken heart, in a repentant, humble soul, God will embrace and listen to, and hold in the palm of his Hand as a Father. For He is our Father, our Abba, our Daddy. No fear can overcome us when we remain in His Grace. The remaining in grace is our part, but with trust, and confidence in Jesus and Our Mother, Mary, we can be assured of His part...the promise of eternal life, with Him in the Glory of God the Father, where tears and pain are no more.
I'll post some favorite books soon that have helped me aspire to holiness, in thought word and deed. NOT that I've gained much progress as yet, but asking my big brothers and sisters in Heaven to pray for me, gives me assurance beyond anything I've ever known in my former evangelical days. Saints aren't just "parts of names of churches" as I used to read driving by them: St. Luke's Methodist church. St. Mark's Lutheran church. I simply didn't equate them with the Saints of the bible, or if I did, they were so far back in history they weren't relevant to me at all. Yet those saints and thousands upon thousands of others are real, flesh and blood people who lived entirely for Christ. Some dying many torturous deaths as we know, or the many who suffered physically of TB or other diseases and ailments without cures in science or medicine available. We've come to take our health and medical science for granted, sadly. However, we shouldn't make our health and medical advancements idols, either. Balance in all things, as Saint Benedict encouraged in his rule, is key.
I know how it pleases God, to call on his friends and they encourage me to persevere knowing they made it. I pray to imitate their example every day of my life, to seek purity and holiness and things above rather than fleeting pleasures and trite trinkets here below where rust and moth and the forces of nature turn them to rust and to dust. He died to give us life to the full, and nowhere is it written that life to the full is a life without pain.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Health of mind and body is indeed a blessing, but that doesn't mean that we must think that sickness or disease or illness of mind or body isn't from God. If that idea creeps in, we'll certainly be deceived and led astray by false doctrine. The "health and wealth gospel" took many down the wrong path. I wonder where some are today who believed in that so strongly, when perhaps now, they've been hit by a "sledgehammer" of suffering? We'll all have suffering of one kind or another all our lives. I'd rather accept it as part of the life God has given me, than to fight against it as an enemy, for the sake of a "false gospel."
Jesus never promised us a "rose garden." But our suffering can be as pleasing to his nostrils as much as a fragrant bloom, when we offer up our sorrow and suffering no matter how deep or painful, or however slight. Then we become the 'roses' in his garden, where he'll tend to us, pruning and watering and weeding and we'll be assured of his care, confident and trusting as the lilies of the field, that he'll provide our "garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness."
Saturday, November 18, 2006
* Father Kevin Fete was Dr. Ray's parish priest, of Little Flower Parish in Canton, Ohio. As you can see, that is why I pray to both St Therese and Fr. Kevin. I've been reading much about St Therese lately, and her sisters, and Father Kevin who died July 23, 2006, is now with her. I KNOW they are a team. He was priest of that parish for 10 years, and I just bet St. Therese was with him when he passed on to be with our Blessed Mother and our Precious Savior. I prayed for St. Therse to give Misty a rose tonight on her pillow. Please join me and ask her intercession for this dear, sorrowful gentle woman.
Thank you all,
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
I had the honor and privilege to see Josh in concert in Sioux City in March, 2005 with my sister-in-law, Rita. WHAT A NIGHT! I would see him again in a heartbeat! His voice is as smooth as it gets, and his stage presence is like no one I've ever seen. Neil Diamond was great, back in 1971, but this man is pure poetry. He raises me up on long drives across the prairie helping me to think of things higher and more holy than where my thoughts can sometimes go, that's for sure! Enjoy!
I just found this wonderful video. Thank you Katrina! It's the internet that is making our large universal Catholic Church small, and intimate and a real "family." Yes, the internet is used for evil purposes, but as we know GOD TAKES ALL THAT IS MEANT FOR EVIL AND TURNS IT TO GOOD FOR THOSE THAT LOVE HIM AND ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE. Bless you. And now, folks, you can see why we're also Catholic...it's very much the story of reverts and converts of all "stripes." And get out your tissues...if you're like me, you'll find yourself crying for JOY!
I had the honor or meeting a hero, Chris Sempek. He's the cousin of one of the volunteers at KVSS. He just returned from Iraq and we had a delightful visit a couple of weeks ago. His sister made the stained glass crosses in the doors to the Chapel of the Word Incarnate at the Studio. He told me that most of the Iraqis are glad the U.S. is there, and especially the Kurds. Unfortunately, the good news of all that they're doing in rebuilding of schools, hospitals, etc. is never given any air time. All the good that is being done is ignored and it gets frustrating. He's glad to be back home, but would go back in a heartbeat to be with his buddies. He had some funny stories as well as tragic ones. War is indeed hell, but we're there now, and it's not debatable anymore..."We're there and it HAS TO BE WON."
We thank you, Chris, for your service for our country and putting your life on the line. Even laying it down, if need be, for us back home. Freedom isn't free and never will be. We're proud of you and all Veterans, those alive and those who've gone to their final rest. God bless and keep you always. ~ Rich & Susie
We are now, the "faithful older ones" and yes, my hands are becoming a bit stiff and sore, too. We are now praying our rosaries before the blessed Sacrament for nominal souls, who can't see Him in the breaking of the bread as yet. But take heart, if they're hungry for Truth, they will seek and find. They will see HIM where He's been for 2000 years...right down the street at Mass. The only place where Bread is broken and offered daily as our true food - Life within us - Life Himself.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Rich and I love to travel to different towns, cities and rural areas and take photos of many Catholic Churches. On our way to do this, we usually pass a number of little "church buildings" along the highway that aren't very appealing to the eye. If they're not appealing to the eye on the outside, how appealing to the spirit are they once one is inside? How does a tired, weary soul and a cold heart or a person in a dry season spiritually, find the surroundings conducive to "rise above" the worries, cares, lures, and drabness of the world?
I know that many protestant faiths were eager to do away with what they deemed to be "idolotrous" images of statues, etc. and in breaking away from the Catholic Church, they thought that ripping everything from the walls and making bare the place of worship was more beneficial to their spiritual growth. Then further through the years, many more indepent fellowships and sects even reduced their places of worship to be completely free of anything that could detract from one's worship, assuming it to be all the "Catholic art." I've nothing against Quakers, or Shakers or Amish or others if that is what they prefer. However, some of these small roadside buildings of the "reformed church of this" or the "newly reformed, reformed church of that" particular denominations are simply repulsive - in my opinion. I don't mean that to be harsh criticism of the people that make up that sect or fellowship. But, since returning to the Catholic Church, and falling in love with the Communion of Saints and our Blessed Mother, Mary, I find my spirit soars and my heart jumps with delight when I enter a well constructed, finely crated House of God, either in a city, a town, or out in the prairie in the middle of nowhere. Even if I'm experiencing a dry time in my faith, or feeling sad, or have succombed to some temptation and need to "come back" and "turn my mind and heart toward heaven," it is MUCH easier to do that when I enter a Catholic Church. They can be simple, primative, or elaborate and elegant, or even what would be considered by some to be gaudy. My heart and mind lift when I see the work and labors of love that so many put into creating a true place of HONOR and sanctuary for our Lord Jesus Christ. His tabernacle where He IS, kept in a surrounding of adoration and things pleasing to my phsyical eyes, is also where I know my thoughts will be taken "up to Heaven."
I know the Kingdom of God is in our hearts, and the spiritual Body of Christ doesn't "NEED" these "things" per se. However, we are sacramental people. Jesus BECAME FLESH (he didn't have to, he could have come as an apparition to earth) for us to SEE and to TOUCH. He became one of us. He humbled himself, stripped of all glory to become a baby and grow to be a man to walk this earth with a bedraggled bunch of ragamuffins and scoundrels and misfits, adulterers, tax-collectors, and various assorted sinners. He healed with his spittle and dirt to make mud for one blind man's eyes so that he could see! He turned water into wine. So many other times he used the "fleshly things" of this physical world so that we could be healed and redeemed and saved by the true, physical Blood of the Lamb. Physical things, statues, paintings, frescoes, stained glass windows, beautiful altars are NOT distractions to our worship or our souls, or at leat shouldn't be. They're built by our forefathers as lasting legacies of their faith and love for our Holy God, our Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit and our Blessed Mother and our older sisters and brothers in the Faith. They honored them with their hands and we have the blessing and opportunity to see and touch, to "taste and see" that the Lord is GOOD and is GOD. Tasting and seeing is a physical thing we as 'bodies and souls' need.
We taste and see every time we go to Mass and participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice. We hold the Son of God's flesh in our hands, we drink of His blood. Again, no offense is meant to my seperated bretheren of these other denominations and Christian sects. But as for me, my soul and my mind and my heart NEED to SEE art. It lifts me above the mundane and mediocrity that I'm always so prone to fall into and muddle in at times. God was honored by the Masters throughout the ages by their majestic and awe-inspiring creations, which seem to be most fitting in our Houses of God to attract us to HIM everytime we walk into the "holy hush" and see the goodness of the Lord, so pleasing to our eyes, so pleasing and comforting to our heavy burdened souls. When the ugliness of the world is only growing more ugly, then true beauty is one constant that can 'cure' the depressed spirit, give life to the dry bones, and lift us up on eagles wings to worship in the splendor and glory of the Saints. Statues help me to remember that we belong to ONE TRUE and GLORIOUS CHURCH, full of our brothers and sisters who've gone on before us and are now cheering us on to the finish line of this long, tiring, difficult race. I thank God for their memories kept alive by an artist's loving hand. I thank God for bringing me home to the BEAUTY and WONDER of creation found in our many Catholic Churches.
Reading Marcellino's article below prompted me to post this this morning. I've not been posting of late, as activities have taken priority to blogging, but what a wonderful way to begin again, with the "COME AND SEE" Jesus says... Come and See...Me! Taste and see ME! Taste and see the GLORY of the LORD!