Saturday, October 02, 2004 +

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

From "A Conversion Story", First Things, April 2000:

A decisive moment in my journey of faith came when, one day, seemingly out of nowhere, the thought pierced me that Jesus had died for my sins. And, immediately on its heels, came the devastating recognition that I am not worth his sacrifice. Only gradually I came truly to understand that the determination of worth belongs not to me but to him.

Romano Guardini

Guardini's The Humanity of Christ: Contributions to a Psychology of Jesus could help one learn to read Gospel Scenes.

If we could work our way back to the picture of Christ as it existed before it had been turned over in the apostles' minds or elaborated in their preaching, before it had been assimilated by the corporate life of the faithful, we could find a figure of Christ even more colossal and incomprehensible than any conveyed by even the most daring statements of St Paul or St John.

Jesus never made the slightest gesture of detaching himself from a hostile, degrading, senseless world; of repelling what he could not avoid, as having no part in him, or of retreating within himself. What he had to contend with was wrong in every way, but he accepted it and, indeed, took it to heart, we might even say.

Aware that he had been sent by the Father, and filled with a desire to obey the Father's will in all things, he accepted everything that happened to him.... In the final analysis, it would not be of great importance what actually did happen, so long as it was the proper thing required by the situation at that moment.

Only because he lives, acts and speaks, does what he is speaking about exist.

[His thought] is clear, concise, utterly responsible, with no trace of self or superfluity.

A continual solitude enveloped Jesus. There were always men about him, but among them he was alone. His solitude arises because no one understands him. His enemies do not understand him, the multitude does not, but neither do his disciples.

Scarcely a single act of genuine communal existence is recorded in the Gospels; scarcely one true "we" in the strict sense of the term. Not even in prayer is it ever expressed. The résumé of his message from the Father, and the basis of the proper relationship to him, were given by Jesus in the prayer, Our Father. The subject of the Our Father is the "we" of the Christian: but Jesus never repeated this prayer with his disciples, never included himself with this "we". There is no place, as far as I can see, where he took the lead in joining together with his disciples in prayer. Where he himself is seen to pray, as for example at the end of the Last Supper, and still more strikingly, in the Garden of Olives, he speaks and adopts an attitude which no other man can imitate.

The story of his temptation [does] not relate to any real temptation at all: the incident is a revelation of the absolute unity of the will of Jesus with that of God.

He is always himself. There is no split discernible in his character. Indeed, we always get the impression from his behaviour that Jesus possessed great untapped reserves of strength, that he was actually much more than he appeared to be on the surface, and that he was capable of doing much more than he actually did.

Compared with the works of the great mystics or one of the great sermons of Buddha, the Sermon on the Mount appears almost a commonplace thing. The works of the mystics appear to be more profound, more powerful, more moving, more sublime - whatever term you prefer to use to describe that unusualness that is the hallmark of genius - until we realize that a judgement of this kind is not applicable to Jesus.

Jesus' place is not on the side whence the act of religion comes; his place is on the side whither it tends as to its object; he must be ranged, not among the pious and devout, but with the end to which the devout address their piety.

Jesus teaches us to use the Christian "we" when we address the Father. He unites all the faithful in one fellowship, enabling them to say, appropriately, "Our Father". But he himself does not use this "we".

He is not pious, but engenders piety.

To give his disciples his own Body and Blood as food, and to say that this was being sacrificed for them in atonement for sin, is, humanly speaking, the most appalling nonsense and an example of morbid hubris, apart from being disgusting.

Jesus says: To show love is to love me. To fail to love is to fail me.

We do not say: This language is good because it announces the truth; we say: It is good because it affirms him - Jesus.

In St John's Gospel we are told how Jesus was disputing with his enemies, and said to them: "I am he". These words are language which only God could use.

Jesus is truly seen only by the man who believes in him, or who - and this is the real antithesis of faith - finds him a stumbling-block.... Faith or scandal: these are the only real attitudes caused in man by Christ.

Friday, October 01, 2004 +

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Oct. 1 is her feast day.

"Littleness, as she understood it, and mediocrity as we live it - I could not conceive of two more contrary ways of life."
-- Karl Stern, in Luce, Saints for Now.

From her autobiography (trans. Ronald A. Knox):

I found myself crying out: "My, God, I choose the whole lot. No point in becoming a Saint by halves. I'm not afraid of suffering for your sake; the only thing I'm afraid of is clinging to my own will. Take it, I want the whole lot, everything whatsover that is your will for me."

I felt that I was born for greatness; but when I asked myself how I was to achieve it, God put into my mind that ...the glory which was reserved for me was one which didn't reveal itself to human eyes. I must devote myself to becoming a great saint. That sounds conceited, of course, ...but this daring ambition of aspiring to great sanctity has never left me.

When I'm told that an innocent soul can't love as a repentent soul does, how I long to give that sentiment the lie!

It isn't that [the Lord] wants us to do this or that, he wants us to love him.

Notes 37

Thy will be done.

My Favorite Picture of You

Posted by Hello

Delacroix’s Christ on the Sea of Galilee

Gospel Scene

He and the twelve get into several small boats and take to sea. As they cross, a great windstorm arises and threatens to throw the boats under the waves. Jesus lies in the stern of his boat, asleep on a pillow.

“Only Delacroix and Rembrandt have painted the face of Christ in such a way that I can feel him. . . .”
—Van Gogh

Bush's Words

This letter appeared in the New York Times on Sept 27, 2004. Jake Holden is a friend and neighbor of ours.

To the Editor:

Any claim that President Bush's words are "the operational vehicles" of his integrity, "the visible manifestation of the character," is belied by the fact, which Stanley Fish notes, that the president does not write his own speeches.

Mr. Fish says that Mr. Bush and his speechwriters "deserve credit for using the accident of euphony to give the argument cohesiveness and force." This implies that the president plays a lead role in writing his own speeches, that they really are his words.

But if the president's inability to speak coherently when he does not have a prepared text to read from is any indication, he is no writer and, in all likelihood, does not even know what euphony is, let alone how to create it.

John J. Holden
Albany, Sept. 24, 2004
The writer is an assistant professor of English at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Thursday, September 30, 2004 +

Mission Statement

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

I shall make all men know that I am your disciple, by loving and being loved by your disciples.

Notes 36

Lord, why do you hide in the earth a person with one talent?
Couldn't you have lent me to a userer?

I have a cup of cold water for your little ones.

Tonight's Debate

1F 45 56 47 46 3F 17 30 4C 7D 15 21 7D 5B 13 02
45 0C 79 15 70 72 55 22 7C 6B 4F 28 44 29 06 78
15 56 09 05 2C 04 2E 5C 18 67 32 5C 35 15 4B 34
5B 3F 31 09 4D 60 19 28 7D 2E 2B 3A 5D 65 47 00
70 01 32 39 3E 10 4B 07 00 23 7B 5D 44 26 5A 4D
2B 68 46 63 45 35 64 62 2D 49 7A

Wednesday, September 29, 2004 +

Notes 35

"Magisterium" - I doubt if the Pope invokes that word very much when speaking to the world.

Some questions one can only answer for oneself, not for others.

Remember: I am not lovable. I am loved.

Jesus did not say: "We being evil"; but: "Ye being evil."

Hell is necessary for Man's dignity.

Ananda K. Coomaraswamy

From Christian and Oriental Philsophy of Art:

All the arts, without exception, are representations or likenesses of a model; which does not mean that they are such as to tell us what the model looks like, which would be impossible seeing that the forms of traditional art are typically imitative of invisible things, which have no looks, but that they are such adequate analogies as to be able to remind us, i.e., put us in mind again, of their archetypes. Works of art are reminders; in other words, supports of contemplation.

The what of art is far more important than the how; it should, indeed, be the what that determines the how, as form determines shape.

It is luxurious to make mantelpiece ornaments of the artefacts of what we term uncivilized or superstitious peoples, whose culture we think of as much inferior to our own, and which our touch has destroyed: the attitude, however ignorant, of those who used to call these things "abominations" and "beastly devices of the heathen" was a much healthier one.

The vulgarism of humanism appears nakedly and unashamed in all euhemerism.

All possessions not at the same time beautiful and useful are an affront to human dignity. Ours is perhaps the first society to find it natural that some things should be beautiful and others useful. To be voluntarily poor is to have rejected what we cannot both admire and use; this definition can be applied alike to the case of the millionaire and to that of the monk.

...our environment, with its exaggerated standards of living and equally deprecated standards of life.... is a matter of fact that a well made icon will be beautiful, in other words that it will please when seen by those for whose use it was made, but the imager is casting his bronze primarily for use and not as a mantelpiece ornament or for the museum showcase.

"To be properly expressed," as Eckhart says, "a thing must proceed from within, moved by its form." It is just as necesary that the idea of the work to be done should first of all be imagined in an imitable form as that the workman should command the technique by which this mental image can be imitated in the available material. "It is," as Augustine says, "by their ideas that we judge of what things ought to be like."

Beauty is at once a symptom and an invitation; as truth is apprehended by the intellect, so beauty moves the will; beauty is always ordered to reproduction, whether a physical generation or spiritual regeneration. To think of beauty as a thing to be enjoyed apart from use it to be a naturalist, a fetishist, and an idolater.

The collector who owns a crucifix of the finest period and workmanship, and merely enjoys its "beauty," is in a very different position from that of the equally sensitive worshipper, who also feels its power, and is actually moved to take up his own cross; only the latter can be said to have understood the work in its entirety, only the former can be called a fetishist.

We are altogether too busy, and have made a vice of industry.

The modern artist's ambition to be represented in a museum is his vanity, and betrays a complete misunderstanding of the function of art; for if a work has been made to meet a given and specific need, it can only be effective in the environment for which it was designed, that is to say in some such vital context as a man's house in which he lives, or in a street, or in a church, and not in any place the primary function of which is to contain all sorts of art.

...if we need art only if and because we like art, and ought to be good only if and because we like to be good, art and ethics are made out to be mere matters of taste, and no objection can be raised if we say that we have no use for art because we do not like it, or no reason to be good, because we prefer to be bad.... In all normal and humane civilizations the doctrine about art has been that art is...a means, and not a final end.... The fact that a man takes pleasure, or may take pleasure, in doing well or making well, does not suffice to make of this pleasure the purpose of his work, except in the case of the man who is self-righteous or that of the man who is merely a self-expressionist: just as the pleasure of eating cannot be called the final end of eating, except in the case of the glutton who lives to eat.

The workman becomes a patron as soon as he proceeds to buy for his own use. And to him as consumer we suggest that the man who, when he needs a suit, does not buy two ready made suits of shoddy material, but commissions a skilled tailor to make one suit of fine material, is a far better patron of art and better philanthropist than the man who merfely acquires an old master and gives it to the nation.

It hardly needs to be pointed out that a treatment which represents a mystical event as if a current event communicates it not less but more vividly, and in this sense more "correctly," than one which by a pedantic regard for archaelogical precision rather separates the event from the spectator's "now" and makes it a thing of the past.

...the common expression according to which it is said that with the Renaissance interest shifted from the future to a present life is a misleading half-truth; the larger truth is that the interest shifted from an inner presence to an outer present, from the spiritual essence of the very Man to the accidents of his sensitive outer ego, and that whereas it had been held that the very Man is literally capable of all things, the stature of this man was now to be reduced to that of a refined and sensitive animal, whose behaviourism should depend, like that of any other animal, on a merely estimative knowledge. It is the former Man, the God, that was to be represented in the ideal portrait envisaged by tradition; the latter and animal-man that is represented in our art.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004 +

Notes 34

Without faith, one cannot see, but only feel.

Saint Augustine

Two loves make up these two cities: love of God makes Jerusalem, love of the world makes Babylon. Let each question himself as to what he loves, and he shall find of which he is a citizen.

What am I to Thee, that Thou shouldst demand my love and if I do not love Thee be angry and threaten such great woes?

Thou wert within and I abroad, and there I searched for thee.... Thou wert with me but I was not with Thee.

Monday, September 27, 2004 +

Notes 33

In a homily, we are always Dives, never Lazarus.

The more I try to be pure, the more attractive women have become. Must learn to accept this.

Sunday, September 26, 2004 +

John Marin

From John Marin by John Marin:

The only leadership I'll recognize if you can call it leadership is by the man who by his good works gives courage to those about him.

Watch those animals put their feet down - they have respect for the Earth.

The wave breaking on the shore - that starts something in the artist - makes for him to hum - that's the story - it's for the artist to make paint wave a breaking on paint shore
That takes nothing away from nor adds to the - wave a breaking on the shore for that exists in itself as a beautiful thing - therefore to assume to copy - is vile -
That wave a breaking on the shore can as I said - start - the start of a wonderful thing by the artist.

Seeing color on an object and seeing color on canvas are two different things. If you are sensitive to color you will place pigment on canvas until it shows itself as color - and if pigment is happily placed on canvas it can ignore the color of all objects - it asserts its own color - let objects assert theirs.

- life long love visions -

The head is apt to remove obstacles - the instinct is apt to go around obstacles."

To say something - What? Well first let's get rid of all - labels - Abstraction - nonobjectivism - all the whole stack of isms -
For are we not seeking the - work of art - which in every instance must obey its laws -
To define this - work of art - to make a stab at it - A certain man makes a drawing of a horse - Yes they say 'that is a recognizable drawing of a horse' - but to be a work of art the sensitive will have to eventually say - 'what a fine drawing' 'how well it places itself on the paper it's drawn on' -
'Why the paper and drawing are one' - 'how it balances' - "how it has all over it a feeling of flowing movement' 'and with it all how - Horsey - it looks'
and all drawing and all painting - whether of - mind seeing objects - or eye seeing objects - have to be recreated to live - of their own right - on this paper or canvas - not killing this great flat - this symbol for rest - whereon they have their movements.
Killing this flat - with the copyings of - mind as well as nature objects - has brought about the decadence of art in the different periods.
Many - so called - works of art come under the head of - Advertisements (and poor advertisements at that) and can be seen - in their all - immediately - that's their business.
A true work of art can stand many seeings - revealing anew at each seeing."

The sea that I paint may not be the sea but it is a sea.

Music is no more abstract than painting.

There is only one excuse for making a picture that being to kill distance
only one excuse for making music - to kill distance
only one excuse for writing - to kill distance
only one excuse for living - to kill distance
the loaf of bread distant from you does you no good -
Those unconscious things that affect You have become close to You without Your Knowing it.

Curious - the lover can hate - but the hater cannot love ...blessed be love

Can Angels Make Mistakes?

It would seem so, considering the bad French of Padre Pio's angel. This suggests that we humans can do some things better than angels.