Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Never let evil talk pass your lips; say only the good things men need to hear, things that will really help them.
--Ephesians 4: 29

A sampling of the greetings, insights, listening-reading-watching tips and general ephemera that crossed my desk this week:

From seminarian Tim Smith:

"Hey just biked 50 miles in the beauty of SouthEast Minnesota rolling hills and did a Holy Hour at this Amazing Shrine.

On the Way Home I Started Jamming to this sweet song. Know of My prayers."

From Ron Wall of Calgary, Alberta who is preparing to move with his wife Diane and possibly his son Austin to St. Louis, MO: the visas just came through.

Introducing Huke Green.

From correspondent Kevin Funnell:

From Bernadette Murphy: a blog called Little Seal by Emily Rapp about Emily's and her husband's 18-month-old son Ronan who's dying from Tay-Sachs disease. Reflections on culture, death, philosophy, theology, occasional stabs of joy, and the unhelpful things people sometimes say when your kid is sick.

Re a youtube I recently posted of a Chinese choir singing Jean Sibilius's "Finlandia":

Lovely. As a 3rd generation Finn who grew up with stories of great uncles who died during the Winter War, I thank you. It's all about "sisu."

"Sisu" is a word that most consider difficult to translate but I heard it a lot growing up in regard to that Winter War when the Russians attacked Finland. It generally means "never give up.... stick to it..... bold determination....perseverance in the face of adversity...." but as it says on my t-shirt (acquired in Astoria, OR, a great destination for many immigrating Finns) -- "SISU -- It's a Finn Thing." Of course, in more commonplace terms, I also heard it when I was in high school, struggling with algebra, and ready to give up in disgust.

Here's a link to a Time article in 1940:,9171,763161,00.html

In college, my cultural anthropology professor claimed that sisu arose from Finland’s history and it's geographical location. Surrounded by bigger neighbors who tended toward bullying behaviors, Finns needed that certain "je ne sais quoi" to cope. She was also the person who informed me that linguistically Finland is the only northern European country with a language all its own -- it's an agglutinating tongue and does not have Germanic roots.


A link to an article in The American Catholic re the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945.

From the speech of Gen. Douglas MacArthur on that day:

Men since the beginning of time have sought peace…. Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural development of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.

Take away the uniforms, the show weapons, the top hats, the white gloves, the historic pens, and the flags and you have two battle-weary human beings who probably just wanted to sit down, shoot the breeze, and eat a meal together.

From poet Rita A. Simmonds:

Sunflower Beatitudes

These sealed sunflowers
stand to the sermon of the sun,
attentive they lean,
silent as seed.
How blessed
are the poor,
the meek,
the pure.
This earth will be theirs;
their eyes will see.
How blessed
and tall,
their heads still green.
They wait
for the sun
on faces unseen.



  1. I have never seen that quote from Gen. MacArthur, but I now have it in my "quote vault" ready to go. It goes superbly with your recent posts about chaplains (which probably prompted it.) It seems to be an unusual quirk of American history that our most successful Generals (Sherman and Lee both spring to mind) often have some of the more profound insights into the human nature and the ridiculousness, sometimes necessary act of war. I have Robert E. Lee's quote about "the definition of a gentleman" under glass on my desk at work. I'll see if I can find it and post it. And The Hold Steady are one of the least appreciated bands out there.

  2. The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman.
    The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly--the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light

    The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others.-- Gen.. Robert E. Lee

  3. I thought you might like this:

    Our Lady of Sorrows - Memorial

    Commentary of the day
    Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897), Carmelite, Doctor of the Church
    Poem « Why I love you, Mary», §20-25 (©Institute of Carmelite Studies)

  4. Now that's news I can use. Thank you, Heather. —Bill

  5. Not to nitpick (since Kathy's description of sisu is so delightful), but Finnish is related to Estonian, which is a separate language but mutually intelligible.

  6. Ah, my refresher for the day.
    Thanks Heather. I love love
    the tee shirt:)

  7. Rita Simmonds' poem is quietly, wonderfully luminous.

  8. Heather, that tree on Lucile Avenue looks like a Bradford Pear Tree.

  9. Heather, that tree on Lucile Avenue looks like a Bradford Pear Tree.

  10. Oh Rita is a wonderful poet, Dylan! Her poems appear frequently in Magnificat and have won several awards from the Catholic Press Association as well. She wrote this one and gave it to me as a birthday present, if you can imagine such an honor! two would have a lot in common, actually...

  11. Re the speech by MacArthur, here's a link about "endless war":


I WELCOME your comments!!!