‘Screwtape Proposes a Toast’

On Sunday, 19 August, Proper 15B, we talked about four different banquets, including the two in Proverbs 9, given by Wisdom and by Folly, and the one, looking forward to the Eucharistic feast described by Jesus, in John 6.53-59. The fourth is where we started, in ‘Hell at the annual dinner of the Tempters’ Training College for young Devils’ with Screwtape giving a reply toast to the principal, Dr. Slubgob. ‘Slubgob’: that just about describes it all! To read Screwtape’s address and toast, see: ‘Screwtape Proposes a Toast’ from The Saturday Evening Post of 19 December 1959. The parish hopes to do a reading and discussion of this article soon. Let us know if you’re interested…

20180830-123340.jpg[Ellen Conder, London, Cargo Collective]

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Not Random Acts, But…

Basic Acts of Kindness!

We ran across this brief online article and recommend it to those facing and dealing with cancer and to anyone dealing with physical and mental illness — it’s good pastoral practice from a rather unlikely source:

Some basic acts of kindness found to help patients dealing with cancer by Leonard L. Berry in The Washington Post, 8 April 2018

An excerpt:

Cancer may not be life-ending, but it usually is life-changing. A cancer diagnosis instantaneously turns life upside down for patients and families. Cancer care is a “high-emotion” service, and the care team must not only effectively treat the disease but also address patients’ intense emotions.

While accurate diagnosis and effective treatment are paramount, simple acts of kindness can be a potent antidote to negative emotions and may improve outcomes for those experiencing the frightening journey called cancer. A growing body of evidence reviewed at Stanford University shows that kind medical care can lead to faster wound healing, reduced pain, anxiety and blood pressure, and shorter hospital stays.

Berry writes about six types of kindness: Deep listening, Empathy, Generous acts, Timely care, Gentle honesty, and Support for family caregivers.

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Promised Easter Painting

We promised to get this painting from Libbie’s+ Easter sermon posted — here it is, finally, as we look toward celebrating the final Sunday of the Easter 2018:


Craigie Aitchison, Crucifixion, June 2008


And the accompanying meditation by Sr. Wendy Beckett’s Sister Wendy’s Bible Treasury, 2012:

The crucifixion is the great Christian emblem. It marks out the presence of a church, it hangs on the walls of Christian homes, it is printed on prayer books, it is held to the heart of the dying and needy and believers generally. In art, the tendency is often to make very vivid the terrible suffering so willingly undergone for our sake.

There are a few crucifixions that stress the inner truth of this death. Shortly before he died, Craigie Aitchison painted this most extraordinary of crucifixions. The earth has become desert, yet from the desert Jesus is drawing new life, the scarlet of a poppy. The very presence of the cross has already created a strip of living green against which we can make out the tremulous figure of an animal, Aitchison’s beloved Bedlington dog.

But above these regulated strips of land, into the immense darkness of the night of our evil, soars Christ on the cross, a luminous body blazing with the fire of love. His features are consumed in the intensity of his passionate sacrifice. Over his head hovers the outline of the Holy Spirit. There are stars in the sky catching fire from the fire of Jesus, and we see the great curve of the rainbow, which God promised would be a sign of his covenant with humankind. Aitchison is showing us not what the crucifixion looked like, but what it truly meant.

See: Centre for Faith Enrichment, Catholic Archdiocese of Perth [Australia]

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More Ascension Thoughts…

From Magnificat’s May 2018 ‘A Light Unto My Path’

Feast of the Ascension by Bishop Robert Barron

I fear that for many Christians, the Ascension implies that Jesus has gone, essentially, “up, up, and away”—that he is now at a far remove from this world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Think of a military commander from, say, the Civil War period. He would endeavor to find the high ground on any field of battle, so that he might survey the entire situation and thus provide more efficacious leadership.

Through the Ascension, Jesus has achieved, as it were, a higher point of vantage, a position from which he can direct the work of his Mystical Body, the Church. It is of signal importance that the Acts of the Apostles commences with a description of the Ascension of the Lord, for what the rest of that text lays out is the manner in which the ascended Jesus coordinates the efforts of his disciples as they go about their ministry. He has not abandoned his Church; he has entered more deeply into its life and work.

It might be useful in this context to say just a word about heaven. Again, we tend to be misled if we literalize spatial metaphors. We poetically indicate the reality of heaven with images of clouds and sky, and these are meant to signal how heaven transcends our world. But this should not be construed as though heaven is geographically far away. On the bibilical reading, heaven is a dimensional system that impinges most intimately on ours, even as it lies beyond. It is from this “place” that the Risen and ascended Jesus acts as Lord of the Church.

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Celebrate Ascension!


Denis Vergin (Haitian, 20th c.) Ascension, 1948


Greetings this Ascension Day, St. Barnabas!

We will not have a service this evening (10 May 2018), as we like to do, but we’ll do some further celebrating on Sunday. In the meantime, and on the actual day in the church calendar, here are a few items to consider… If you don’t have time for them all, choose one or two, but it will give you a way to do some celebrating, worshiping, pondering, even though we are not gathering together.

*Listen to Peter Philips’ beautiful Ascendit Deus in jubilatione [1607] from Clare College, Cambridge, 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjU9GdGt3NI — from Psalm 47.

*Why is celebrating Ascension Day so important? Read 10 reasons why.

*Read Acts 1.1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1.17-23; and Mark 16.15-20.

Let us acclaim and praise the Lord, lifted up beyond our sight.
Response/All praise be yours, O Lord, enthroned in glory!
Lord Jesus Christ, today you have been taken up victorious to the right hand of the Father:
– bring to completion the deliverance of all peoples. R/
You showed yourself to your disciples for forty days:
– strengthen our faith. R/
You entered into the Holy of Holies as the eternal priest of the new covenant:
– intercede for us. R/
Before you took leave of your disciples, you promised to send the Holy Spirit, that they might preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth:
– enliven our witness. R/

+Add your personal intentions and intercessions
+The Lord’s Prayer

O God, you descended in the cloud to the Mount of Olives, as once you descended in the cloud upon Mount Sinai. On Sinai you gave the law of the covenant to Moses. On the Mount of Olives you took to yourself in glory the One who is the law of the new and eternal covenant. Let us who are the members of his Body live in joyful expectation of his return, keeping faith with the covenant sealed in his blood, until that day when we can sing your praises face-to-face. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-From Magnificat Morning Prayer, 10 May 2018

*Finally a Malcolm Guite+ poem:

Here is a sonnet for Ascension Day, the glorious finale of the Easter Season.

Commentary: In the mystery of the Ascension we reflect on the way in which, one sense Christ ‘leaves’ us and is taken away into Heaven, but in another sense he is given to us and to the world in a new and more universal way. He is no longer located only in one physical space to the exclusion of all others. He is in the Heaven which is at the heart of all things now and is universally accessible to all who call upon Him. And since His humanity is taken into Heaven, our humanity belongs there too, and is in a sense already there with him.”For you have died”, says St. Paul, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God”. In the Ascension Christ’s glory is at once revealed and concealed, and so is ours. The sonnet form seemed to me one way to begin to tease these things out. [MG+]


We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed.

If you have any insights or questions, please share them with us!

Many blessings,

Other resources:

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Attenzione: St. Barnabas Service at the Norbertine Center, 6 May 2018

The Fellowship will meet at the beautiful Norbertine Center chapel tomorrow, Sunday, 6 May 2018, around 10 a.m., due to the complete congestion on 8th street in front of Garcia’s and in the surrounding area on the day of the annual Zoo Run. Directions to 5825 Coors Blvd. SW Albuquerque, NM:

I-25 to Rio Bravo;

W on Rio Bravo to Coors Blvd.;

Left (S) onto Coors;

2 miles S of Gun Club Rd. find the Norbertine Ctr. on the R (W)

NOTE: The sign for the Center is small, so watch carefully.

And we will have lunch afterward at Abuelita’s, 6803 Isleta Blvd SW.

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In the news this week: Loneliness

A second meta-analysis took in 70 studies, representing 3.4 million people from the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia. It found that the effect of isolation, loneliness, and living alone had an effect on the risk of dying younger equal to that of obesity.

Here’s a link to the article quoted above, ‘People in rich countries are dying of loneliness‘, from the website Quartz. This is just one of many articles citing the research. We spend so much time considering obesity… Interesting to have a further dimension of our social dis-ease for pondering. Fr. Adrian van Kaam, founder of ‘formation science’ and author on formative spirituality, would call this one of the signs of ‘the abandoned souls of the West’.

This reminded us of an interesting book we picked up over a decade back: Shades of Loneliness: Pathologies of a Technological Society by Richard Stivers. It’s fascinating. True Christians have a lot to offer the world on community and love.

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A rich week… Friday: St. Clare

Republished from Malcolm Guite+’s blog, where you can hear him read the sonnet:

AUGUST 9, 2017 · 4:48 PM

St. Clare: a Sonnet

20170809-131648.jpgSanta Chiara, lovely claritas

August the 11th is the day the church remembers with thanksgiving the life and witness of St. Clare. She was the friend and companion of Francis, and founder of the Poor Clares. Her love for Christ, her share in the vision of St. Francis and her extraordinary gifts a soul-guide, friend, and leader made her a shining light and a clear mirror of Christ for thousands in her lifetime and still a light and inspiration to Christians from many denominations today.

Clare wrote:

Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance!
And transform your entire being into the image
of the Godhead Itself through contemplation.
So that you too may feel what His friends feel
as they taste the hidden sweetness
that God Himself has reserved from the beginning
for those who love Him”

So here is my sonnet in her honour reflecting on how the meaning of her name, ‘light and clarity’, was also the meaning of her life. This sonnet is taken from The Singing Bowl my most recent volume of poems, which is published by Canterbury Press and available through Amazon etc.


Santa Chiara, lovely claritas

Whose soul in stillness holds love’s pure reflection,

Shining through you as Holy Caritas,

Lucid and lucent, bringing to perfection

The girl whom Love has called to call us all

Back into truth, simplicity and grace.

Your love for Francis, radiant through the veil,

Reveals in both of you your saviour’s face.

Christ holds the mirror of your given life

Up to the world he gives himself to save,

A sacrament to keep your city safe,

A window into his eternal love.

Unveiled in heaven, dancing in the light,

Pray for this pilgrim soul in his dark night.

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Today… Edith Stein, Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Today is the Catholic Feast Day of Edith Stein, a Jewish woman and atheist, who eventually turned to Christ, in awe of what he had accomplished through his suffering on the cross. She died in Auschwitz in 1942. Her life story is quite compelling, and Magnificat published today an article from the Vatican News Services in 1998:



Photo from an article
by Robert Cheeks in
The Imaginative Conservative
16 November ’14

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