Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ILLUSION, REALITY, AND ANOTHER TRIP TO THE HEARTLAND




I can't begin to share the depth and breadth and width and height of my gratitude as of late. Lost in wonder, all day, every day, even in the midst of fatigue, impatience, fear, and the zillion calls for help, mundane obligations, and petty annoyances of daily life.

My column on arts, culture, faith and life for The Tidings has become a lodestar. I feel as if my whole life has been leading up to this crazy forum in which, WEEKLY, I get to write about the people I admire, the things that fascinate me, and the ideas that set me on fire.

Plus, I get comps! That's right. A PAIR of tickets to the ballet, the opera, the L.A. Master Chorale, thus allowing me to ingratiate myself to the two or three friends I haven't yet managed to totally alienate! Saturday night I saw Swan Lake and Thursday a friend and I will attend Dido & Aeneas/Bluebeard's Castle at the opera.

"Do not worry about what you are to eat or what you are to wear (or what art you're going to be graced to take in). The Heavenly Father knows before you ask Him"...

***

I always peg myself as a warm weather person, but the fact is I love winter, too. The minute Daylight Savings hits, I get out the extra down comforter, haul out the space heater, check my home-made Christmas card supplies, dust off the holiday recipes and, heart leaping with anticipation, start waking at 3:18 a.m.

This week holds a special anticipation as next Monday I'll fly out to Kansas City, get picked up by the good Fr. Xavier, and proceed to Conception Abbey. Here, starting Monday night, I'll give a Day of Recollection for the seminarians. Again, it would be impossible to describe how deeply I feel this as a mystery and a sacred honor. I mean, come on--me? And on the other hand, absolutely, me.

I'm going to stay at the Abbey for a week.




Morgan Meis, a wonderful writer himself, sent the link yesterday to a piece by Francis Spufford (a writer who was new to me) called "The Trouble with Atheists."

Spufford writes:

"What goes on inside believers is mysterious. So far as it can be guessed at it appears to be a kind of anxious pretending, a kind of continual, nervous resistance to reality. We don't seem to get it that the magic in Harry Potter, the rings and swords and elves in fantasy novels, the power-ups in video games, the ghouls and ghosts of Halloween, are all, like, just for fun. We try to take them seriously; or rather, we take our own particular subsection of them seriously. We commit the bizarre category error of claiming that our goblins, ghouls, Flying Spaghetti Monsters are really there, off the page and away from the CGI rendering programs. Star Trek fans and vampire wanabes have nothing on us. We actually get down and worship. We get down on our actual knees, bowing and scraping in front of the empty space where we insist our Spaghetti Monster can be found. No wonder that we work so hard to fend off common sense. Our fingers must be in our ears all the time – la la la, I can't hear you – just to keep out the sound of the real world."
Spufford makes the point that to be a believer is to take fairy tales seriously and it's also to die to every illusion.

"The funny thing is that, to me, it's belief that involves the most uncompromising attention to the nature of things of which you are capable. Belief demands that you dispense with illusion after illusion, while contemporary common sense requires continual, fluffy pretending – pretending that might as well be systematic, it's so thoroughly incentivised by our culture."
To have faith is to become clear-eyed--mostly about yourself--to a degree that is not for the faint of heart. Or as a priest friend says, "If you're lucky, you'll give up all hope of ever being happy in any way you ever thought you were going to be."

In the end, it's you, it's me, before the Eucharist.

And the word was made flesh.
And dwelt among us.

STARGAZER LILIES AND LUX PERPETUA CANDLE,
CIRCA 4 a.m. 

7 comments:

  1. We seminarians are greatly looking forward to welcoming you!

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    1. Bill, thank you. How beautiful that Providence has arranged we should all converge! You all will give me way more than I'll give you. I can't wait to fall in love with Missouri.

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  2. Those photos look like great winged angels hovering over the light of the stable at Bethlehem.

    NY Mom

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    1. Oh wow, that is perfect! They DO look like great angels with billowing garments and elaborately spread and folded wings. Mere feet away from where I brush my teeth and comb my hair, too! I call upon my own guardian angel, St. Michael, et al frequently. Thanks for that gorgeous image.

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  3. AMERICA'S MOST WANTED!! - help protect America's children-



    Individuals with substantiated claims against them of sexual abuse of a minor within the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis:

    Each man has a disclosure page that may be accessed by clicking on his name. This page includes each man’s assignment history.

    •Thomas Adamson – Permanently removed from ministry from our archdiocese in 1985.
    •*Stephen Baker – Permanently removed from ministry in 2000 (died in 2013).
    •Robert Blumeyer – Died in 1983.
    •John Brown – Permanently removed from ministry in 2002.
    •Eugene Corica – No longer in ministry as of 1995.
    •Cosmas Dahlheimer – Permanently removed from ministry 2002 (died in 2004).
    •Gilbert DeSutter – Permanently removed from ministry in 2003.
    •Donald Dummer – Archdiocese removed faculties in 2006.
    •Ambrose Filbin – Died in 1990.
    •*Edmund Frost – Left archdiocese 1975, unknown when permanently removed from ministry (died sometime before 2006).
    •Gerald Funcheon – Permanently removed from ministry in 1993.
    •Kenneth Gansmann – Permanently removed from ministry from our archdiocese in 1960 (died, date unknown).
    •Thomas Gillespie – Permanently removed from ministry in 1996.
    •Ralph Goniea – Died in 2003.
    •Gilbert Gustafson – Permanently removed from ministry in 2002.
    •Louis Heitzer – Died in 1969.
    •Rudolph Henrich – Permanently removed from ministry in 1976 (died in 1992).
    •Francis Hoefgen – Permanently removed from ministry in 2002.
    •Richard Jeub – Permanently removed from ministry in 2002.
    •Dennis Kampa – Permanently removed from ministry in 2003.
    •Robert Kapoun – Permanently removed from ministry in 2002.
    •Jerome Kern – Permanently removed from ministry in 2002.
    •Michael Kolar – Permanently removed from ministry in 1991.
    •Lee Krautkremer – Permanently removed from ministry in 2002.
    •Reginald Krakovsky – Died in 1997.
    •Kenneth LaVan – Permanently removed from ministry in 2013.
    •Ronan Charles Liles – Permanently removed from ministry in 1985 (believed to have died sometime before 2006).
    •Robert Loftus – Laicized in 1977.
    •Alfred Longley – Permanently removed from ministry in 1968 (died in 1974).
    •Brennan Maiers – Permanently removed from ministry in 2002.
    •Harry Majerus – Died in 1995.
    •William Marks – Died in 1979.
    •Timothy McCarthy – Permanently left ministry in 1991.
    •John McGrath – Died in 1995.
    •Wendell Mohs – Left religious order in 1982.
    •Francisco (Fredy) Montero – Permanently removed from ministry from our archdiocese in 2007.
    •Paul Palmitessa – Permanently removed from ministry in 2012.
    •Joseph Pinkosh – Permanently left ministry in 1992.
    •Charles Potocki – Died in 1992.
    •Francis Reynolds – Permanently removed from ministry in 1987 (died in 1988).
    •**Robert Ruglovsky – Pled guilty to criminal charges 1987, permanently removed from ministry in 1987 (died in 2006).
    •Richard Skluzacek – Permanently removed from ministry in 2005 (died in 2012).
    •James P. Stark – Permanently removed from ministry in 1986 (died in 1999).
    •Michael Stevens – Permanently removed from ministry in 2002.
    •Thomas Stitts – Died in 1985.
    •Robert Thurner – Permanently removed from ministry in 2002.
    •Clarence Vavra – Permanently removed from ministry in 2003.
    •Joseph Wajda – Permanently removed from ministry in 2003.
    •Harold Walsh – Permanently removed from ministry in 2005.
    •Raymond Walter – Permanently removed from ministry in 2003.
    •Justin Weger – Permanently removed from ministry in the archdiocese in 1972 (died in 2005).
    •Curtis Wehmeyer – Permanently removed from ministry in 2012.
    •Adalbert Wolski – Died in 2012.
    •Francis Zachman – Died in 1983.



    further links to information: safe-environment.archspm.org/accountability/clergy-disclosures/

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  4. A list of souls whose only way to manage pain was to inflict it on others. Let us pray for them, pray for those used and wounded by them, and recognize the terrible pain that exists in the very heart of the human condition. Pray for the blindness, at the failure to see the aftermath of their actions, and sincerely pray that while we may not understand what it is like to wound or be wounded in that particular way--all of us know what it is to wound and be wounded. That list is not made of monsters, it is made of men, they are our brothers, our sons, our family. Is there anything more painful than a sexual wound, a blindness that destroys a childhood? In some way or another have we not all had our childhoods destroyed, either by ourselves or another? Let us mourn this, and pray that we can find healing and forgiveness for all of our souls.

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  5. You replaced feeling drunk with feeling spiritual. It's still just boil down to me me me.

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