Dominican Coat of Arms
Photo by Gabriel Gillen+
St. Vincent Ferrer Church
Yesterday was the Feast Day for St. Dominic, 8 August. Magnificat included a meditation by Fr. Vladimir Koudelka on St. Dominic’s postures of prayer — this one on the second posture, prostratio:
We talked briefly as a Parish Council last Saturday about training in prayer. In many ways, we do that every week in worship (the whole Eucharistic portion is a prayer, along with the Psalm, The Prayers of the People, and the hymns: as St. Augustine is supposed to have said, ‘He who sings prays twice’) and daily when we have times of devotion. But above is some specific and excellent advice on praying. For all nine ways or postures of prayer, see the ‘Fish Eaters’ site. (The Koudelka+ meditations are from the Dominicana journal in 2013.).
For more information on St. Dominic’s life, see James Kiefer’s hagiography [‘writing about the lives of saints’] site.
St. Dominic’s Tomb
Basilica di San Domenico
By poet William Cowper, from ~1779:
Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises with healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.
In holy contemplation we sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new.
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.
It can bring with it nothing but He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing will clothe His people, too;
Beneath the spreading heavens, no creature but is fed;
And He Who feeds the ravens will give His children bread.
Though vine nor fig tree neither their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the field should wither, nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice,
For while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.
Even seems to add gently to our contemplation of the Transfiguration, which we celebrate this Sunday, 6 August, while also harking back to our Advent study of Habakkuk. For a further meditation on the hymn and Cowper’s life, see ‘Sometimes a Light Surprises: The Treasured Gift of a Troubled Soul’ by Paxson Jeancake (there’s a name!) from The Gospel Coalition website from 26 October 2011. It’s #667 in our hymn book.
Watch it now — it even features a Taco Bot 3000 (yes, that’s right, a Taco Bot 3000!): ‘Raining Tacos’ by Parry Grip and BooneBum!
T/Y to Nephew Nat.
Photo from an obituary in The Guardian, 9 July 2017
…the poem to which I refer most often when I am writing or speaking about the global persecution of Christians is one that Ratushinskaya wrote the day after she was freed from labor camp. It is a poem I use to inspire myself and others to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith. The poet’s early release came as part of the negotiations for the summit between Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev in Reykjavik, on October 9, 1986. The next day she wrote this:
Believe me, it was often thus:
In solitary cells, on winter nights
A sudden sense of joy and warmth
And a resounding note of love.
And then, unsleeping, I would know
A-huddle by an icy wall:
Someone is thinking of me now,
Petitioning the Lord for me.
My dear ones, thank you all
Who did not falter, who believed in us!
In the most fearful prison hour
We probably would not have passed
Through everything – from end to end,
Our heads held high, unbowed –
Without your valiant hearts
to light our path.
(Kiev, 10 Oct. 1986)
–an excerpt from Faith O’Donnell’s obituary for the lovely and courageous Ukrainian poet and Soviet dissident Irina Ratushinskaya, who died on 5 July 2017 at age 63 at ‘Irina Ratushinskaya: Poet of the Valiant Heart’, Juicy Ecumenism, 11 July 2017
What an impression Ratushinskaya’s beautiful and harrowing Grey Is the Colour of Hope about her seven years in a forced labor camp made on a young reference librarian at the University of Georgia in the late ’80s.
T/Y to Laurie+ for this tip.
Holly Ordway, author of Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms, a book worth reading (not least of which because Ordway is also a fencer and ponders what that means for her unfolding faith), writes in Christianity Today (24 July ’17) about why loveliness and beauty need to be part of sharing our faith in an excerpt from her new book Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith.
Architecture, art, music, and literature invite but do not impose. The skeptic is enabled to take a step inside, literally or figuratively, and to be involved in some way with this beauty. It may speak to the longings of his heart, or it may unsettle him and provoke him to questioning and wondering. If we have been able to offer real beauty, the one thing that we can say is that he will not leave the church, or close the book, entirely unchanged.
Of course, we must bear in mind that our Christian faith can never be reduced to a single knockout argument that will be convincing for all who hear it, or a single work of art that will be transformative for all who see it—nor should we wish for such a thing, for it would be tantamount to saying that we don’t need the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who brings conviction. We plant and water; God gives the growth.
Wow, what hype! But it’s the beloved PBGV Max, being naturally ‘on trend’ with a polling site canine pic from last week’s [rather disastrous] UK election! He stands alongside one half of his world’s greatest ownership duo and St. Barnabas friend, The Very Reverend Bob Key, now part of the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group. Presumably the photographer is the other half of this dynamic duo, Daphne Key, also a great friend of St. Barnabas. In times like these, we need more of this kind of diversion!
To begin with, the headline for this CNN news story* sounded overly-politically-loaded, but it turned out to be about an amazing art project undertaken by a Syrian refugee, Abdalla Al-Omari’s ‘Vulnerability Series’: beautifully-done paintings of contemporary political leaders as refugees, in the process seeing them as fellow human beings. The artist comments that he started in anger and ended with real empathy. Included are David Cameron, Angela Merkel, Bashir Al Assad, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, among others.
Abdalla Al-Omari, The Queue, 2016
It’s also an illustration of what Sister Wendy Beckett meant when she once quoted author and art historian Kenneth Clark on Rembrandt’s exquisite painting The Jewish Bride:
‘…certain universal and enduring truths: that we need each other, that we can achieve unity only through tenderness, and that the protection of one human being by another is a solemn responsibility’. Tenderness is closely akin to what I mean by weakness — a loving self-forgetfulness. —Sr. Wendy Beckett, Spiritual Letters
*Make sure to watch the short video as well.
We recently received a copy of the following letter from a high school student writing on his ‘computer school’ site — our nephew Drew! It’s thoughtful and well-written and worthy of sharing, even if we’re years beyond high school (40 years for Libbie+ this past week!!):
Final exams are quickly approaching, and for us High School students, stress, anxiety, and worry begin to set in. These last couple weeks of school seem to turn into months and assignments seem ten times harder. We begin to worry about our finals, knowing that all of our hard work comes down to one final exam. Inevitably we stress out about this, but we must remember that God cares for us, and He will guide us; we just have to remember to trust Him. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” It is essential that we do not attempt to take on all of our worries without prayer, because without Him we are nothing.
Often times during this time of stress we find it easy to have our schedules based on priorities. Sometimes when this happens, it is particularly easy to push out the one thing that matters most: God. We put countless hours of work into preparation for our exams everyday, however we still worry about the next day. We worry so much to the point that we find it easy to push God out of our schedule to do a little more work, or even to catch that extra bit of sleep. In this time it is crucial that we remember what Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Rather than solve tomorrow’s problems, worrying about it only adds to the trouble. While working extra or sleeping more is not necessarily a bad thing, we must remember that God is in control. No matter how easy it is to replace prayer or scripture reading with worry, we cannot. Taking on our worry without God is impossible, but with His guidance we can accomplish anything.
While we must remember to surrender our worries to God, perhaps even more importantly we must remember that our work is not for ourselves, but for God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” In the end, how well we do on our exams does not define us, God defines us. We should work our hardest to glorify God rather than ourselves. We approach finals with the mindset that they are just another task to complete; however instead let us approach them with the mindset that they are an opportunity to glorify God. Rather than work our hardest for ourselves, let us work for God.
Thanks for reading,
Thank you, Drew.
For something amazingly heartwarming, watch this video: ‘The Rescue of DC4’ — it’s okay to skip ahead to see a hero human being climb into the eagle aerie! You finally get a real sense of the size and strength of this nest! And it seems as though there’s nothing odd to the eaglets about a man suddenly poking his head above the rim of their high homestead!
Then here’s the return (actually this one is more of a synopsis of the whole story) — with a kiss and a finger-wagging: ‘Sealed with a Kiss’
Note: There are other viewing options for the same event on YouTube.
And here is the full story — although it would also be great to catch an interview with the kissing rescuer: Eaglet Rescue
Finally, to tune in to the live cams: Cams A & B
From Friends of the National Arboretum
*God’s creation is amazing, human beings and eagles — and so much more!*
On Easter, [the Lord] gives this joy to those who belong to him, that they may serve him despite their imperfection and their new failure. We all participate in this ‘may’.
From Magnificat, 25 April 2017, by Adrienne von Speyr (died 1967, a Swiss doctor and mystical writer):