Ha Jolly Ha

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Closing Shop

Well, I want to formally close this old place as I withdraw from the world of blogging in order to prepare for my upcoming entrance into a monastic community. Visitors may still peek through the windows and walk the grounds, but I will not be receiving any messages after tomorrow afternoon. This abode has not only preserved my sanity during long hours of office boredom, but has incidentally inspired a few serious writing attempts, which improved me if no one else. For that reason, I shall remember it with some affection. But it is time to move on to, well, more exciting things. I look forward to finally living out my principles in deeds as well as words.

Some things will definitely be harder to leave behind. The grief of separation from family looms terribly before me in these last months. But whenever my feelings lead me to question the purpose of this stripping away, I remember again that Love is its cause and Love is its goal:

"What does He do to a soul which He has chosen from all eternity to be entirely His? In the great majority of cases 'He leads her into solitude to speak to her heart': Ducam eam in solitudinem et loquar ad cor ejus. Just as a vineyard is enclosed with a hedge to protect it, so the Spouse encloses that soul in the cloister 'in the clefts of the rocks': in foraminibus petrae; the mysterious sepulchre which becomes the cradle of life; He hides her 'in the secret of His face'; in abscondito faciei suae: He makes her dwell in silence, so that she may be recollected, may hear His voice more easily, may please Him alone. He gives the Rule which at each instant shows His will; for light, the Holy Scriptures, which recount His history and reveal His love; He gives the Church for Mother. He confides to her His praises so that 'her voice sounds sweet in His ears' Sonet vox tua in auribus meis, vox enim tua dulcis; He makes her live again the cycle of His mysteries, and by His sacraments gives her sovereign power. Such are the means by which the Spouse establishes safeguards, maintains and augments the love and fidelity of His elect."
Blessed Columbia Marmion, Sponsa Verbi

Friday, April 25, 2008

Clear Creek in the News

Tulsa World recently featured Clear Creek Monastery in a special project including two articles and a pictorial slide show. If you have never visited the Clear Creek website, get over there instantly. It will warm your heart. Here are a few of the pictures you'll find there:

Friday, April 18, 2008

I've Got a Golden Ticket

Photo courtesy Fox News
Though it's more of a scrapbook item now. As you have probably surmised, I attended the Papal Mass in D.C. yesterday. Yes , my sensibilities were offended on any number of levels by the music(most especially by a reggae/tribal offertory piece and a syncopated Veni Creator Spiritus), the concession stands, indecent or casual dress, and pep rally style cheering after the homily. However, I must say there is something indescribably moving about being in the presence of the Holy Father. Il Papa! That says it all. The sense of his spiritual fatherhood really hits home when find yourself physically under his gaze, hearing words directly from his lip, receiving his blessing in person and not on a piece of paper. Besides, there was a dignity about him which transcended the liberal antics - he graciously acknowledged all the cheering before and after Mass, but he gravely remained seated when cheers broke out after his homily. That struck me as a subtle rebuke. Similarly, the only music which he positively acknowledged was Placido Domingo's tasteful rendition of Panis Angelicus. Also, despite a handful of egregious exceptions, I sensed a general intention of accommodating the Pope's preference in the music selections for the Mass which was endearing despite(or perhaps because of) the pathetic ignorance and poor taste it revealed. The Holy Father seems to be biding his time, steadily working for reform but with a patience and gentleness that has caught the world off-guard and won him admiration - even a degree of filial devotion - from unexpected quarters. While this mildness chaffs my righteous inner traddy, I sense a paternal tenderness behind it that I dare not criticize. Perhaps it will even make his reforms more effective in the long run.

So it was mostly a positive experience. I especially enjoyed hearing his homily and bringing home a commemorative metro ticket with the papal flag printed on it!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bees Again

An interesting new explanation for the bee crisis. While a rose by any other name may smell as sweet, it appears that a rose by any kind of factory, vehicle or other noxious engine of pollution will not. These sort of things stir up my latent Luddite tendencies (so she types).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I would just like to mention that TWO students from my alma mater, Christendom College, received awards in ISI's International Student Essay Contest, taking 1st and 3rd places respectively. The topic:
Can Character and Communities Survive in an Age of Globalization?
I skimmed the first place essay and it is worth reading.

The odd thing is that I was just pondering the same question myself and James Poulos over at Postmodern Conservative obligingly offered his thoughts on the question.

Chesterton on Human Creativity

I recently attend a lecture on Chesterton by Dale Alquist, President of the American Chesterton Society. I've been hoping to attend one of his lectures for several years. The best lectures on Chesterton are always replete with quotes and Mr. Alquist did not disappoint in that respect. He also maintained a light-hearted informality which seemed in keeping with the classic Chestertonian spirit, abbreviating his own remarks in order to leave ample time for questions and conversation.

A few of his insights which bear repeating(these are not direct quotes but my own summary and reflection):
  • Man has unique intellectual powers which distinguish him from other animals. While everything in creation reflects the Creator to a certain degree, the peculiarly human powers are higher because they reflect God more apparently. The imagination is one example. It possesses a kind of limitlessness in creative scope which reflects something of the infinite divine nature.
  • The purpose of the imagination is to help us see the truth in all of its wonder and charm. Art is both the fruit of the imagination and a means of training it. The primary purpose of art is to inspire wonder through beauty, thereby preparing the intellect to receive truth.
  • In general, art should depict the world as it should be. Because of our fallen human nature, we understand and depict the fallen world more easily. However, art instructing through negative examples is not as edifying as art which makes the beauty of truth and goodness visible.
I will leave the final word to Chesterton himself:
“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Good Read

From the About page:
is an online feuilleton and news portal collected from a traditionalist perspective. In the left-hand column of the home page is ‘News of the World’. Here we bring notice of current events in Europe, America, and around the globe. In the right-hand column is ‘Around the Sphere’, our collection of the latest interesting posts and entries from around the blogosphere. The middle column is the heart of Norumbega: our collection of feature articles updated (hopefully) every fortnight.

Norumbega is an entirely amateur effort and no one involved in its production is paid for their contribution.

What is a ‘feuilleton’?

Originally, feuilletons were the sections of continental newspapers that were devoted to criticism, art, history, science, or light literature. The first feuilleton was started by Julien Louis Geoffroy and Louis-François Bertin (“Bertin the Elder”) in their Journal des Débats (printed from 1789 to 1944). As the 1911 Britannica remarked of the feuilleton, “it consists chiefly of non-political news and gossip, literature and art criticism, a chronicle of the fashions, and epigrams, charades and other literary trifles; and its general characteristics are lightness, grace and sparkle”.

Norumbega aims to revive the spirit of the feuilleton by ignoring the heavy fatuousness that marks journals of greater import and instead looking at the world from a serious yet light-hearted traditional perspective. Through its three main components, Norumbega aims to enlighten and inform its readers irrespective of the arbitrary distinctions of “Left” and “Right”, of tribe and faction, that mar both print and online outlets. Norumbega aims to be cosmopolitan rather than nationalist or globalist. Above all, Norumbega aims to hold fast to that which is good and true.

What is the origin of the name?

Norumbega is the name given to an ancient and mythical city which rested on a great bay at the head of a great river in the New World. It first appeared on maps in the first half of the fifteenth century and had largely disappeared from them by the end of the seventeenth."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Obscure Dominican Book Recommendation

The Living Water
Fr. Pierre Thomas Dehau
Translated from the French by Dominic Ross, O.P.

When I first opened The Living Water, I did not realize that the entire work comprises a patient unfolding of one passage from the Gospel of John, that of the Samaritan woman at the well. So I found myself pleasantly surprised as each chapter returned to it at some point, to draw forth new insights and meaning. Indeed, the scope of the meditations is truly impressive. With an admirable mixture of precision and emotion, Fr. Dehau considers every word Christ speaks, revealing how even the most commonplace expressions receive a rich significance when uttered by the lips of the Word Himself. Here is an excerpt from Chapter XI which will recommend Fr. Dehau better than volumes on my part:
"Our Lord said to the Samaritan woman: 'If thou didst know the gift of God, thou perhaps wouldst have asked of Him...'(John 4:10). You will notice that Our Lord here employs a very curious expression, perhaps. This word is terrible because, as St. Thomas remarks, it indicates a frightening contingency--that of our liberty.
One can know and not ask. The intelligence does not necessarily move the will. If liberty is a magnificent gift of God, a gift which makes our glory, we can, alas! use it badly as long as we are not in the light of glory. If we will it, we can remain faithful; if we do not will it there is no power in the world capable of constraining us, of forcing our will, down to its very depth, to turn toward God; even the most beautiful lights from God, can accomplish nothing, for our will can always escape from them. Therefore to ask it is necessary that we will it, which is why Our Lord said to the Samaritan: Perhaps...oh! perhaps...! Let us then beg Our Lord to send us graces so efficacious that no heart however hard can resist them, says St. Augustine, in order that bathed in this light, we may indeed ask; for if we ask, God will give us the living water; here there is no more 'perhaps'. 'And He would have given thee living water'(John 4:10). God will surely give it.

Perhaps we will have to wait for an answer, and then it will be for reasons of divine pedagogy. We see good souls who say: I have been asking for a long time and I receive neither promptly nor abundantly; there is nothing but the most complete dryness. How does this happen? Must not the reason for it be sought on the side of God? We do not obtain for one or other of these reasons which I am about to state: we ask poorly--or God wishes us to persevere in our demand.

The first reason: we ask poorly, that is to say, we do not ask humbly. Humility! Ah! such is not easy! And yet if we do not have humility, we stand before God in an attitude which displeases him. Humility is politeness toward God, it is the beholden attitude of the creature toward his Creator; it must begin in the depth of one's nothingness. 'Out of the depths I have cried unto thee, O Lord' (Ps. 129:1). Why do certain little souls obtain all that they wish? Because they ask humbly. He scattered(his gifts), He gave them to the poor. We have already remarked: as soon as God finds really poor, really humble souls He gives with prodigality. 'God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble' (Prov. 3:34). We receive in the measure of our humility. God Himself cannot dispense us from it. He can produce it in us, but He cannot dispense us from it. That, He owes to himself. When a little child, anxious for some object which it covets, does not ask its father respectfully enough, it is quickly put in its place by being told to ask politely. It is not difficult to say to one's father: 'if you please,' but it is sometimes very difficult, so it appears to say it to God. The devil did not want to do it, and we ourselves sometimes have great difficulty doing so and yet as long as we will not do it, God will not grant it, otherwise He would be like a worthless father who does not know how to raise his children. Let us then try to become more and more humble in our prayer.

The second reason why God makes us wait so very long is because He wishes to compel us to persevere. He appears to be sleeping in order that we may continue to knock as in the parable of the Gospel, you know, wherein the poor man makes so much noise at his friend's door, he puts into his demand such importunity, that his friend finally opens up to him. In like manner, the Canaanite woman; the Lord repels her; He seems very hard on her, almost scornful, but it is in order to obtain from her this word, this prayer which He Himself will admire.

I shall add a third reason which can be our consolation when condemned to a delay whose end we do not see: the Lord wishes, by that, to make us copy his own attitude to which most souls condemn Him, to which we have too often condemned Him. Thou waited, says Our Lord, and I...? This is what I do continually, I wait. Thou knocked at the door. And I? 'I stand at the gate and knock' (Apoc. 3:20). The Lord consoles Himself thus by making us suffer what we ourselves make Him suffer. This kind of suffering is very sacred, very holy. We must then know how to say to Our Lord: 'Lord, if I can console you for all the neglect which I have heaped upon you; if I console you by humbly supporting you in your dereliction, by awaiting you for a long time, you whom I have made wait for so long a time, I accept; yes, I am willing to remain waiting at your door as long as you like; but when finally you open it, be sure that I will rush in and when you give me the living water, I shall drink it avidly. For the present, thy will be done.'"