April 21, 2009

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts

Just as sometimes a child when he or she grows up in the teenage years might grow rebellious, lose their moorings with their family, and then come back to it ... I'm thinking, I'm hoping, that's the way it is with a lot of our people who have decided to depart from the church...We see in the sociology of people that leave the church, many of them, most of them, ... go to the evangelical mega-churches, where they find the preaching of the Bible, the Gospel, the teachings of Jesus, preached with particular vigor and clarity. I wonder if we have to examine our conscience as a church to say have we done that... or have we gotten a little too subjective... diluting, watering down the essentials of the faith. - New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan

I am slowly becoming grateful for the people of my past who allowed, encouraged or witnessed my fall. They did not steal my Jesus. They ultimately helped me to discover the Risen Christ. I had spent years feeling crushed by my repetitive failures. I had spent years trying to excuse my sin, or rewrite how I felt about it, or blame others for it, when I needed only to have my sin redeemed by a love I had not yet truly known. One’s history leaves an indelible scar on the soul. My past has reared its head at various points in my marriage. It has resurfaced at times in my relationships with family members I once or twice wounded. It has had to be dealt with regularly, and privately, and sometimes publicly. But we are incarnate beings. One can no more erase years of one’s life than they can erase the “Catholic guilt” or the effects of sin. I wish I could say that I never sinned again after my reversion. I wish I could say that I never sinned mortally. I wish I could say that my marriage has been a safe haven from any sort of temptation, and that all of my writing now gives glory and praise to God. But I cannot. I can only say that I now have a Redeemer for my sin, for my married life, for my motherhood, and for my writing. No small statement. - Betty Duffy

Little Michael, who had been making his way around the room during most of the prayer [on Good Friday night], had ended up in the desk chair - Michael's desk chair (my desk space is in the kitchen. It works.). He was spinning around and insisted that it was time for him to do his "made up prayer." "It doesn't have Pokemon in it, does it?" I asked warily... He sat in his daddy's desk chair. He twirled and did the Sign of the Cross - which he does much better since starting "school" - having to serve as "Prayer Leader" there on occasion - and started his prayer. As he sat there, for the first time, I could see the resemblance to his father. With Joseph, it is easier to see. Michael's mother said, in reference to Michael as a child, "He (Joseph) looks like he did and he (Michael) acts like he did." But just something about his face right then..I could see it. He prayed. "God," he said, as he turned this way and that, "we will see you in no time. And then we will see you all the time." Amen. - Amy Welborn

When I used to see large families (say, families with five or more children), the idea always creeped into my mind that one or more of the children are, for lack of a better term, expendable. That’s not quite the right term, but let me illustrate this creepy attitude that used to afflict me. A guy down the street had seven children. His wife had complications with their eighth child and was hospitalized for a few weeks. My wife was talking with a few of the older children one afternoon to see how their mother was faring. Their little little brother (four years old or so) came running up and said to my wife, face beaming and excited, “My mommy’s coming home today.” My wife told me this charming story, and I immediately started wondering, “How special is a mommy to a little boy with six other siblings? Can he really be that special to her and she to him?” I now have a large family (six children, oldest being ten; more may be coming). I frequently find myself picking up one of them and thinking “What would I do without this little guy/girl?” My mindset has—with no willfulness on my part—intuitively switched from presuming expendability to presuming necessity. There’s something in me that says this fourth/fifth/sixth child is crucial to me and my family. I’m curious about that unnoticed change in my mindset (what causes one’s mental landscape to swtich? Obviously, external factors play a critical role, but how does the switch occur? There’s fodder here for research and contemplation and writing). I’m more curious, however, about its relationship to God. The rigors of logic and philosophy tell us that God created this world and all its creatures because He wanted to, not because he needed to. In this sense, we are expendable to him. This seems especially believable when one considers the billions and billions of people that have passed through these earthen gates. But the rigors of theology (which start with His revelations) tell us he mourns to lose any of us. Theology also analogizes him to a parent. The parallels to my previous attitudes are remarkable. - Eric of "The Daily Eudemon"

I was unprepared for the fact that the experience of artistic nudity is by nature an act of objectification. The artist evaluates you on the basis of color, shape, or composition. And it didn’t matter how much of my soul I tried to project to Karly. I would end up a two dimensional image on a canvas. I should have known better. - Betty Duffy, recalling the time she served as a nude model

I have to believe that artistic expression can aim for the communication or representation of soul, although it must speak in the language of shape and form--or, in the case of writing, these clumsy words. (in fact, that was the subject of my master's thesis, on Thomas Eakins' portraits---he wanted his students, after being well-trained in the matter of anatomy, to learn to capture the figure's "centre line"--a unique, determining meridian, from which all else flowed.) I know that I didn't manage to capture much of your soul in my chances at drawing or painting you back then, and honestly feel that I know you better now after being made privy to the revelation of your writing. But learning to see the face of God in others, in the people around us, is one clear path towards the divine, and attempts to represent that vision can be, however limited, a holy offering. There is nothing we want more than to be understood, to be seen fully, and our friends
and community can provide a taste of that..." - the artist responding to Betty Duffy

Michael once had to send a book for an imprimatur. (This is done by the diocese in which the author resides.) The book was one about nurturing faith in young children, and emphasized, as one would do with young children, the concrete, emphasizing the importance of things - beads, statues, water, pictures...and the value of teaching young children prayers and so on. The book was sent back with a terse note from the religious sister in the diocese who had read it, "That's all pre-Vatican II. We don't teach those things anymore." Well, evidently, the purpose of the imprimatur had been lost in translation, the purpose being not whether you enjoy the content or not, but whether it is contrary to Catholic doctrine or not. That said...this was the woman religious in charge of religious education for that diocese (who was not the person to give the imprimatur anyway, of course), and who had been for years. One could multiply examples - Amy Welborn


dylan said...

About that last excerpt, with the nun and her dismissal of orthodox Catholicism as "pre-Vatican-II" : In-flipping-credible. Words fail one. (At least, the printable ones do.)

TS said...

Indeed, it's ironic that many heretical Catholics who say they want more 'democracy' in the Church show they're really not in favor of democracy at all.

Roz said...

Just stopping by to say hello and tell you that this "spanning the globe" feature is absolutely indispensable. Don't give it up. Please. Ever.

TS said...

Thanks for the encouragement Roz; I've lately been not as diligent in collecting quotes!

Betty Duffy said...

I couldn't agree with Roz more (especially, if you keep collecting mine. Many thanks for the mentions).