Sunday, February 26, 2017

In light of the Oscars (more from Peter Maurin)

A bit of wisdom from Peter Maurin from his Easy Essay "Prostitution of the Theatre"

In the Middle Ages
the Theatre
was considered
as an efficient way
of preaching,
They liked to produce
Mystery Plays.
They aimed to preach
and not to pander.
Pandering to the crowd
has brought the degradation
of the theatre.
The Theatre started
in the Church.
The Theatre has ended
in the gutter.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Reading on, keeping on

After finishing the Aquinas novel (de Wohl's The Quiet Light), I'm going with something more spiritual (and Franciscan) as a prelude to Lent: Poetry As Prayer: Saint Francis of Assisi by Father Murray Bodo, OFM.

I've read some of Father Bodo's other Franciscan writings, and I am enjoying this so far. I've read many reflections on St. Francis before, but none focusing on the poetry of his life and prayers.

Otherwise, the usual - praying outside Planned Parenthood (today in pouring, chilling rain - offered it up), and wasting time on social media fighting the cultural wars. Gotta cut down on that.

In addition, there are more developments with The Margaret Home. After last weeks tour that got us all excited, we got the engineer's report. All sorts of work needed - the cost will be in the tens of thousands. Well, we did expect some hurdles. This may be the first of many.

Prayer for the Margaret Home

St. Margaret of Cortona, you gave yourself to the crucified Christ in thanksgiving for his love and mercy. We ask your prayers for this home, which bears your name, that it may be a refuge for those in need and a sign of Christ’s love and mercy and a sanctuary where your children are welcomed and protected. O glorious St. Margaret, present this request to your crucified Lord and ours. May your example guide us, and your support protect us. Be our ...companion, we beg you, until we reach our Father’s house. Amen

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.
St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us. 

Pax et bonum

Friday, February 24, 2017

The air Jesus breathed

with every breath
breathing in air Jesus breathed -
first crocus

Pax et bonum

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Peter Maurin - Englishmen without blinkers

A Few Englishmen

R. H. Tawney said
that the Englishmen wear blinkers.
Because they wear blinkers
the Englishmen
lack vision.
Because they lack vision
the Englishmen
are very strong
for supervision.
And supervision
is not a substitute
for vision.
A few Englishmen
got rid of their blinkers.
Among the Englishmen
who got rid of their blinkers
one can name:
William Cobbett,
John Ruskin,
William Morris,
Arthur Penty,
Hilaire Belloc,
G. K. Chesterton,
Eric Gill.
The best of all
is Eric Gill.

(Maurin included Belloc and Chesterton!)

Pax et bonum

The Quiet Light - well worth reading

I finished The Quiet Light by Louis de Wohl, an historical novel focusing on St. Thomas Aquinas and his times.

It was well worth reading.

Like all good historical fiction, it brought the time period in which it was set to life. In this case, it was the events surrounding the life of St. Thomas, including the Crusades, his family's opposition to his vocation, the ongoing war between Frederick II and the papacy, the latest heresies, and the pushback against the mendicant orders. As is the case in such novels, there is a mix of real and fictional characters, and, in this case, a little romance.

The book was well written. It kept my attention, and kept me interested in the characters and what might happen. It also got me checking some histories to find out more details and to see what parts of the story were indeed true and what parts fiction.

Quibbles: I wish there had been more of St. Thomas and his spirituality and ideas, and less of the romance. I was able to guess where many of the fictional parts of the story were going - though that might be just the reader/writer in me and my familiarity with the conventions of the genre.

Still, I recommend the book for lovers of historical - and religious - fiction. I know I will read more of de Wohl's books.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Progress on the Margaret Home

As I've noted before, I'm part of a group of people creating a home for women in crisis pregnancies in Rochester, NY. The Margaret Home - named after St. Margaret of Cortona, the patron saint of single mothers - is intented to provide a place for young women to live for a year or two while having their babies and get the support they need while getting their lives in order - school, job, finding a place to live, whatever.

This is a pro-life ministry.

We incorporated as a not-for-profit late last year, received tax exempt status (donations are deductable), and created a board. We contacted similar homes/programs to get their advice and expertise.

We just toured a former convent that looks like a possible good site for the home. The price is reasonable - thanks to the generosity of the order that currently owns the convent - and the building seems in good shape. We are now planning to arrange for an engineer's inspection to find out what else might need to be done and if it will work for what we plan to do. We are also developing a business plan to cover not only what would be needed to fix anything that needs to be repaired, but also upgrading as needed, furnishing the house, and so on. We also need to contact the village where the convent is and the neighbors to find out (and address) their concerns.
But if all goes well, and the cost is not prohibitive, we are leaning toward making an offer.

We need prayers.

Further, even though many people have been donating all or part of their services, there are still costs. Mailings, printing, legal services, even something as simple buying coffee and donuts for an open house for the neighbors should we pursue this house, all require money. If you are so inclined, donations would be welcome.

But again, even more important, keep us - and the women and children - in your prayers.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Margaret Home - St. Margaret of Cortona

We are in the process of creating a home for women in crisis pregnancies - The Margaret Home. We have a chance of buying a convent that will be the site of the home.

The home is named after St. Margaret of Cortona.

St. Margaret was born in 1247 in Laviano, Italy. Her mother died when she was young, and her father later remarried. St. Margaret did not get along with her stepmother and became somewhat wild as a teenager, running away when she was 17 with a wealthy young man. Unable to marry, due to their different classes - despite her repeated requests and his promises that they eventually would wed -  they lived together for nine years, and she had a son. He was then murdered, and she was led to his body by his dog (she is often pictured with a dog).

St. Margaret and her son tried to return home, but her father (in some stories, her stepmother) would not let them. This would fit with the mission of The Margaret Home, taking in single mothers who can't return home.

Homeless, she was then taken in by Franciscans, but for several years struggled with temptations of the flesh. She repented her past sins, and began living a life of penance, begging, and caring for the sick poor. She eventually became a Secular Franciscan. She was noted for her revelations, and her willingness to get involved in public affairs.

St. Margaret died on February 22, 1297. She was declared a saint by the people almost immediately, but was not officially canonized until 1728.

She is a the patron saint of various groups and things, including, temptation, sexual temptation, homeless people, and appropriately for The Margaret Home, single mothers. 

Pax et bonum

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Peter Maurin - on Secularism


When religion has nothing to do with
education is only information,
plenty of facts
and no understanding.
When religion has nothing to do with
politics is only factionalism–
“Let’s turn the rascals out
so our good friends can get in.”
When religion has nothing to do with
business is only commercialism.
And when religion has nothing to do with
either education, politics or business,
you have the religion of business taking the
place of the business of religion.

Pax et bonum

Monday, February 13, 2017

Peter Maurin - Easy Essay on business and selfishness

Classes And Clashes
1. Business men say
     that because everybody is selfish
     business must necessarily
     be based on selfishness.

2. But when business
     is based on selfishness
     everbody is busy
     becoming more selfish.

3. And when everybody is busy
     becoming more selfish,
     you have classes and clashes.

4. Business men create problems;
     they do not solve them.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Catholic Historical Fiction - A list in progress

Shusaku Endo

Silence *

Dena Hunt


Father Michael Giesler

Junia *
Grain of Wheat

Louis de Wohl

The Living Wood
Throne of the World
Imperial Renegade 
The Restless Flame
The Golden Thread
Set All Afire 
The Spear 
Saint Joan: The Girl Soldier
Citadel of God 
David of Jerusalem 
The Glorious Folly 
The Joyful Beggar *
The Last Crusader *
Lay Siege to Heaven 
The Quiet Light *

Susan Peek

Crusader King: A Novel of Baldwin IV and the Crusades
A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of Saint Camillus de Lellis
Saint Magnus, The Last Viking

Michael D. O'Brien


* designates ones I've read

Pax et bonum

So, if I was writing Catholic historical fiction ...

If I were to turn my hand to writing Catholic historical novels or plays, about whom or what would I write?

St. Francis of Assisi has been tackled by various people. Maybe from the perspective of a follower?
First generation Franciscans
Dorothy Day.
Peter Maurin
G. K. Chesterton
The Groundlings
John Henry Newman.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Irish Catholics in 1840s-60s Central New York
St. Thomas More (ah, but then there's A Man for All Seasons)
Solanus Casey

And would I go adult or YA? Novels or plays?

What would be marketable?

Typical me - getting caught up in the nit-picky details and never finishing. Sort of like that Catholic mystery novel idea I had.

I think I need to compile a list of Catholic fiction as well. A reading list for me - and another way to waste time. 

Pax et bonum

Louis de Wohl - Catholic novels

I'm currently reading-  and enjoying -  The Quiet Light (a novelized treatment of the life of St. Thomas Aquinas) by Louis de Wohl.

 I've previously read a couple of other books by de Wohl - his St. Francis (The Joyful Beggar) and his account of the Battle of Lepanto (The Last Crusader).

I find it interesting that he went from a secular novelist - and astrologer??-  to writing Catholic fiction. He seems to have undergone some kind of spiritual awakening during World War II.

I've always enjoyed historical novels such as Lincoln by Gore Vidal. Even as a child I absorbed my school library's collection of biographical novels. Come to think of it, my most successful play, The Beau Ideal, was historical fiction.

I find historical fiction brings both history and the personalities of the people involved to life. They become easier to understand, as do their struggles, than is often possible through straight history. This kind of writing when religiously based can bring faith to life. Silence, by Shusaku Endo, is a recent  example that I've enjoyed.

I think we need more such fiction. Such books might capture some hearts and minds in a way that preaching and direct evangelization might not. We need both - the artistic, and the direct - to spread the faith.

Perhaps that's were I need to spend my time?

Pax et bonum

We all need music in our lives

Mitch Finley

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Trump is impacting my life!

I have to admit it: President Donald Trump is having a negative impact on my life.

No, it's not because his orders are giving me visa problems. Nor have I been a target of any of his tweets.

Technically, it's not because of anything he has done that is directly affecting me.

It's because people who hate him and his policies are so passionate about their views.

If you dare say anything positive about him, they often go on the attack and question your morals or your sanity. Or they avoid you.

And then many otherwise nice people are now spouting or posting such intemperate - and sometimes grossly inaccurate - comments about him. Normally rational people have become reactionary, some resorting to insults and foul language.

Mind you, I didn't support him or vote for him. I am opposed to some of the things he has done or has proposed. I have no problem with criticism of his words and actions, but I do with intemperate castigation of them, or with personal attacks.

What all this has done is cause me regularly to back off commenting when I'm tempted to do so. And I've had to bite my tongue (or typing fingers) when I see or hear unfair and inaccurate comments from others. This is hard, because I tend to be an outspoken sort. I enjoy a healthy give-and-take.

I've even unfriended or unfollowed some people on social media because of the nature of their remarks, or to avoid becoming uncharitable in my responses and losing friends.

Further, this has led me to avoid gatherings where I know certain topics will come up. When I think about going to an event, a folk concert or coffee house or music swap just to name a few, I weigh the risks of having the event ruined because others must vent, and so I choose not to attend or tune in.  The same goes for some of the public affairs programs I often watch. I now don't tune in, or change the channel.

I'm discovering there are some great shows of the Food Channel.

Or maybe they just seem great these days.

I don't mind political humor or friendly debates. There are some people - Rob Cullivan, for example - who can carry on debates in a respectful and entertaining manner.

Part of the problem is that so many of my friends are of a liberal or artistic ilk. The painters and poets and musicians and social activists and educators I number among my friends tend to oppose him. And the passion that inspires them in their creativity seems to be focused on him now.

Maybe this is for the best. I waste too much time on politics. I should spend more on prayer, or school work, or good reading.

These days it IS a curse to live in interesting times!

Pax et bonum