The first part of June has been a virtual summer camp at Heidmann West, as we had a bunch of extra young people staying with us for three weeks. They’re fantastic kids, and we had a great time with them. We miss their presence already, but we are gradually returning to normal.
Getting back into a regular schedule, including a sensible amount of screen time for boys who have gotten used to video gaming many more hours a day than is truly healthy, is a process. Today, the process includes, for the little boy, transitioning from the Supertux on mom’s computer to Starfall on the Kindle – and som new library books; and for the big boy, oh the maths he will math…
Here are a few pix from the ranch trip earlier this month. I didn’t get to go along this time, but from the looks of it, the kids and Paul had a great time. They got to do some shooting on Friday, and went to El Morro on Saturday, a beautiful and fascinating monument. On the way home they stopped at the bottom of the Salt River Canyon to splash around in the river. Some even made it to the other side! Even though these were cell phone pics, I still managed to have some fun with them.
This has been quite a turbulent week for political and religious commentators, in the lead-up to publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si. The great wind blowing from both sides of the ideological spectrum has been typically partisan, and therefore unreliable. I have steadfastly refused to read any commentary from either side before a) reading the document myself, and b) ascertaining that the author has actually read the document.
That said, as I scanned through my newsfeed yesterday, I noted a few responses from people who either were in the process of, or had (miraculously) finished, reading the encyclical.
“I just finished reading Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, released today. Both philosophically and theologically it keenly illuminates why in our present age we do not relate rightly to the environment. This is a great gift to the Church, and to all persons of good will.” ~ Bryan Cross
“Reading Laudato Si’ as if it were a climate-change encyclical, period, is somewhat akin to reading Moby Dick as if it were a treatise on the 19th-century New England whaling industry. The ships and the harpoons are an important part of the story, to be sure; but if they become the whole story, you miss what Melville’s sprawling novel is really about. Ditto with Laudato Si’: If you read it as ‘the global-warming encyclical,’ you will miss the heart and soul of what this sprawling encyclical is about — which is us.” ~ George Weigel, The Pope’s Encyclical, at Heart, Is About Us, Not Trees and Snail Darters
I’m delighted to be following my pastor Fr. John Lankeit on Facebook, where he is posting a section-by-section response; and one more link, 11 Things You Probably Wont Hear About Pope Francis’ Encyclical offers a few interesting, if “cherry-picked” quotes.
And that’s all I have for now. I’ve read the first 16 paragraphs, but couldn’t delve into it much more yesterday as it was too noisy in my house, and this isn’t the sort of reading you just skim. I’ll get to it, if not this week, then over the 4th of July at the ranch where it’s nice and quiet.
If you want to read it yourself, which of course I recommend, you can read the encyclical on the Vatican website:
or you can download it for easier reading on your computer or Kindle:
Doubtless you, like me, find it difficult not to be saddened by the state of western civilization, by wars, by abuse and opression of the weak, the poor, the powerless, and especially by the escalating persecution of the faithful throughout the world. Where can we go for a little good news?
Whether you are a Catholic Christian or a non-Catholic Christian, I think you will find this homily by our cathedral Rector, Fr. John Lankeit, to be wonderfully encouraging.
I grew up listening to my dad’s favorite musicians, the Melody Four. In his beautiful tenor voice, he sang along with every song, on every record. One that I loved in particular was Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee. Here’s their rendition from 1962.
Here it is, in Latin, with the English translation below.
Jesu, dulcis memoria,
dans vera cordis gaudia:
sed super mel et omnia
ejus dulcis praesentia.
Nil canitur suavius,
nil auditur jucundius,
nil cogitatur dulcius,
quam Jesus Dei Filius.
Jesu, spes paenitentibus,
quam pius es petentibus!
quam bonus te quaerentibus!
sed quid invenientibus?
Nec lingua valet dicere,
nec littera exprimere:
expertus potest credere,
quid sit Jesum diligere.
Sis, Jesu, nostrum gaudium,
qui es futurum praemium:
sit nostra in te gloria,
per cuncta semper saecula.
Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast!
Yet sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy Presence rest.
No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find,
A sweeter sound than Jesus’ Name,
The Saviour of mankind.
O hope of every contrite heart!
O joy of all the meek!
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.
Jesus! our only hope be Thou,
As Thou our prize shalt be;
In Thee be all our glory now,
And through eternity. Amen.
37. The Blessed Virgin compared to the Air we Breathe
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89). Poems. 1918.
I can’t even tell you how happy we were to be a part of the Winkler wedding on Saturday!!! We met Jeff about 13 or 14 years ago, when we began attending Westfork Church. He played the drums in the worship band, and I want to tell you something: I was not a fan of worship bands, in general. I have my opinions about liturgy and worship and they have always involved a lot more traditional hymnody, Palestrina, and Gregorian Chant, than Matt Redman and Keith Green. But during those years at Westfork, I was very, very blessed by Koos, Jeff, Doug and Keith, who offered their very best to God and the church every week. (And by the way, Jeff was, and is, one of the most talented drummers I’ve seen.)
More important even than his musical gifts, however, was the heart of service that permeated everything he did. Jeff worked beside Paul with the youth all the years we were with Westfork, serving, feeding, caring, counseling, supporting, and really being the hands and feet of Jesus to families in that neighborhood – and his care and compassion have continued on to this day.
So when Jeff met Jennifer (a fourth grade teacher at a Great Hearts school, and an RCIA catechist at St. Joan of Arc Roman Catholic Church), through our mutual friends, we were incredibly thrilled for them both, and have been so happy to get to know the amazing woman who has captured his heart. Paul, his brother in ministry for so many years, was honored when Jeff asked him to be his sponsor as he went through RCIA this past year, entering full communion with the Catholic Church at Easter.
And finally, Saturday afternoon, the day after Jennifer’s last school day for the year, they were married at St. Joan of Arc (which, the artist in me must comment is a beautiful church with modern architecture but also some lovely statuary and a gorgeous altarpiece). Paul was again honored to be asked to read the Epistle lesson during the mass. It was our first time attending a Catholic wedding, and it was very interesting to note the similarities as well as a few differences from what we had at our Episcopal wedding.
One of the things I really loved was the tadition of offering the bridal bouquet to Mary after the ceremony, and saying a prayer during the singing of Ave Maria. Very touching!
I only got a very few photos at the wedding and reception, but I think they captured their sheer joy – especially the first dance as husband and wife, to Elton John’s “Your Song” – which they happily sang to each other the whole way through.
Thanks for letting us be there, Jeff and Jen! God give you joy!!
Saturday was a big day for celebrations. We received not one, but two invitations to attend the Sacred Heart Home Educators graduation ceremony for a couple of friends, and if that weren’t enough, we have also long been planning to attend the wedding of our dear friend Jeff Winkler to his beloved Jennifer. I knew for certain that Junior could not handle two big events in one day, so I cleverly split the responsibilities. I took Megan, Geneva and Jacob with me to the graduation in the morning, while Laurent stayed home with Paul to make sure they both made it to the wedding on time and wearing presentable attire; we were then to meet up with them at the other church in time for the afternoon event.
It was our first time at one of these homeschool graduations, so we were intrigued. The SHHE is much, much smaller than the statewide Arizona Families for Home Education, which held their grad ceremony on Friday night (and we wished we could have gone to that one, too, as we had some very special MoezArt friends graduating!). Being a Catholic home schooling organization, naturally the ceremony was conducted in conjunction with a mass. The SHHE is blessed to have Father Paul Sullivan as our “chaplain” if you will (I actually don’t know if there is another title, but at any rate, he is always the go-to priest for the Catholic home schooling events). The commencement was held at St. Thomas the Apostle, and it is such a beautiful church in which to worship. With a small graduating class of just ten, the ceremony, which was directly after the mass, was brief enough to allow each graduate the attention and applause they have earned with their hard work. It was a joy to be present and acknowledge the accomplishment of these great young people, and the labor and love of their parents in seeing them through to this milestone.
After the mass and ceremony and pictures, there was a delicious potluck dinner and more pics with friends. We had a great time, and once again, we wish a hearty congratulations to Faith Jezek and Theresa Pueyo!
It seems that the young men of my son’s acquaintance have been engaging in the time-honored ritual of back-yard camping, and last week, Jacob decided to give it a try. He was determined to live in the back yard for 3 days straight. I admit to being skeptical that he could pull off that long a detox from his computer, but I was certainly game to support the endeavor.
I sent him out to the shed to see if he could find his father’s back packing tent, and at first he came in with the family-sized one, for which our back yard might (barely) have room. I thought it might be easier for him to learn how to put up the one-man tent, so out he went again to rummage around till he found it.
He was pretty excited to head out there later that night; unfortunately, one of his sisters opened the back door, and indicated that the yard (or at least the back step) was crawling with cockroaches. Now, it is probably true (as my husband later informed me, with not a little exasperation) that the tent is well designed for just such eventualities, and is impervious to critters of that sort; however, at the time, I was overcome by what can only be described as a blinding case of “the willies”, and it got the better of me.
I am truly sorry and humbly repent for squashing my son’s adventurous spirit. It will not happen again. This week he will most definitely be camping in the back yard every night, for as many nights as he would like, critters or no.
Have at it, young man! You’ve got to practice up for when you go out backpacking with your dad later this summer.
After posting earlier the passage from James regarding taming the tongue, I thought to myself… I wonder if any of the Saints ever mentioned the battle of the tongue?
I should not have gone there. SO many great and thought provoking quotes! I had to cull through to try to find favorites, and then cut those in half, just to whittle my choices down to a somewhat manageable number. Hopefully I will read through these on a regular basis and benefit from the reminders herein.
Maybe someone else will too.
‘Hast thou seen a man hasty to speak? folly is rather to be looked for, than his amendment.’
‘Thy mouth is the mouth of Christ; therefore thou mayest not — I speak not of detractions, nor of lies — thou mayest not open for idle speeches that mouth which should be reserved only for the praises of God and the edification of thy neighbour.’
St. Anselm of Canterbury
‘Peter, having said a word, lamented it bitterly, because he forgot him who said: “I said, I will take heed in my ways lest I sin with my tongue.” and the other who said: “A fall from a height to the ground is better than a slip with the tongue.”‘
St. John Climacus
‘Let it be your care always to speak well of all. Speak of others as you would wish to be spoken of by others. With regard to the absent, observe the excellent rule of St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi: “Never to utter in their absence what you would not say in their presence.”‘
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
‘Oh! how frightful the account which tale-bearers must render to God! The sowers of discord are objects of abomination in his sight. Six things there are that the Lord hateth, and the seventh his soul detesteth. The seventh is the man that soweth discord among brethren!’
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
‘Talkativeness is the throne of vainglory, on which it loves to show itself and make a display. talkativeness is a sign of ignorance, a door to slander, an inducement to jesting, a servant of falsehood, the ruin of compunction, a creator and summoner of despondency, a precursor of sleep, the dissipation of recollection, the abolition of watchfulness, the cooling of ardour, the darkening of prayer.’
St. John Climacus
‘But now lay you also all away: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy talk out of your mouth.’
‘You must abstain from certain jests and jocose remarks on the real and known defects of others; for such jokes offend the persons to whom they are applied.’
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
‘You must never utter a word of self-praise; when you are praised by others, you must raise your heart to God, and change the subject of conversation; and when you are contradicted or ridiculed, you must not be angry. Whenever the companions of St. John Francis Regis made him the subject of their jests at recreation, he endeavored with great good-humor to keep up the conversation, that, by being the object of their laughter, he might contribute to their amusement.’
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
‘Never forget that souls are poisoned through the ear as much as bodies through the mouth.’
St. Francis de Sales
‘All that aspire to perfection should avoid excessive laughter. Moderate laughter, which shows the serenity of the soul, is neither a violation of decorum nor opposed to devotion.’
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
‘The signs that accompany those who wish to submit to the Logos of God and who bring forth good fruit are: sighing, weeping, sorrow, stillness, shaking of the head, prayer, silence, persistence, bitter grief, tribulation of heart arising from religious devotion. In addition, their actions manifest vigilance, fasting, self-control, gentleness, forbearance, unceasing prayer, study of the divine Scriptures, faith, humility, brotherly affection, submission, rigorous toil, hardship, love, kindliness, courtesy and-the sum of all-light, which is the Lord.
The signs that accompany those who are not producing the fruit of life are listlessness, day-dreaming, curiosity, lack of attention, grumbling, instability; and in their actions they manifest gluttony, anger, wrath, back-biting, conceit, untimely talk, unbelief, disorderliness, forgetful-ness, unrest, sordid greed, avarice, envy, factiousness, contempt, garrulity, senseless laughter, willfulness and – the sum of all – darkness, which is Satan.’
St. Symeon Metaphrastes
‘Endeavor also to avoid as much as possible all disputes. Sometimes trifles give occasion to arguments that end in disputes and injurious language. There are some who violate charity by proposing, through the spirit of contradiction, certain topics of debate which give rise to useless disputation. Strive not, says the Wise Man, with a matter which doth not concern thee.
But you will say that in every debate you defend the right side of the question, and that you cannot listen in silence to assertions utterly destitute of foundation. I answer in the words of Cardinal Bellarmine: “That an ounce of charity is more valuable than a hundred car loads of reason.”
In all debates, but particularly when the subject is of little importance, give your opinion if you wish to join in the conversation; but be careful never to defend it with obstinacy. It is better to give up your own opinion than to enter into a useless and perhaps dangerous controversy.
Blessed Egidius used to say that in such controversies to submit is to conquer; because submission evinces a superiority in virtue and preserves peace. Surely the preservation of peace is of far greater importance than the empty honor of a wordy victory.
Hence St. Ephrem used to say that to maintain peace he always yielded to his adversary in disputation. Hence, also, St. Joseph Calasanctius advises “all who desire peace never to contradict any one.”‘
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
‘We should note how clearly the Apostle describes the causes of listlessness. Those who do not work he calls unruly, expressing a multiplicity of faults in this one word.
For the unruly man, is lacking in reverence, impulsive in speech, quick, to abuse, and so unfit for stillness. He is a slave to listlessness.
Paul therefore tells us to avoid such a person, that is, to isolate ourselves from him as from a plague. With the words “and not according to the tradition which you have received from us” he makes it clear that they are arrogant and that they destroy the apostolic traditions. Again he says: “nor did we eat any man’s bread as a free gift; but we toiled strenuously night and day.” The teacher of the nations, the herald of the Gospel, who was raised to the third heaven, who says that the Lord ordained that ‘those who preach the Gospel should live by the Gospel’ (1Cor. 9:14) – this same man works night and day “so that we might not be a burden to any of you.” What then can be said of us, who are listless about our work and physically lazy – we who have not been entrusted with the proclamation of the Gospel or the care of the churches, but merely with looking after our own soul? Next Paul shows more clearly the harm born of laziness by adding: “not working at all, but simply being busybodies;” for from laziness comes inquisitiveness, and from inquisitiveness, unruliness, and from unruliness, every kind of evil. He provides a remedy, however, with the words: “Now we instruct such people . . . to work quietly and to eat their own bread.” But with even greater emphasis, he says: “if anyone refuses to work, he should have nothing to eat.”‘
St. John Cassian
Note: Cover image is a painting of St. Anselm of Canterbury, found in the Church of St. Anselm, Bomarzo, Italy.
Let’s have a show of hands: Who here has successfully tamed their tongue?
Right. So all of us can thank the Apostle James for this much needed, if uncomfortably pointed, exhortation. May we heed this wisdom, and be sowers of peace.
Taming the Tongue
3 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters,[a] for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4 Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature,[b] and is itself set on fire by hell.[c] 7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8 but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters,[d] this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters,[e] yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.
Two Kinds of Wisdom
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth.15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for[f] those who make peace.
What does a man do for love? What will he sacrifice? What burden is too great to shoulder for his beloved?
It has ever been the case that, day after day, month after month, year after year, my wonderful husband has cheerfully labored on behalf of his wife, his family, and his flock. Self sacrifice is a way of life for him, be it physical labor around our home and ranch, working on our cars late into the night, or countless offerings of time and treasure to help others. It is an incredible grace to live with him and be his partner in life.
But there are times when his self abnegation surpasses human comprehension, and yesterday, he made a sacrifice that could only -ever- be motivated by true love. Here’s what happened:
My Windows box (which he had been using, but gave to me a few months ago to give me more speed) crashed, due to the usual malware that infects Windows OS. I finally agreed to let him put Linux on it, and since then he’s been working to make sure I could still process my photos. Adobe Creative Cloud is Windows-dependent, as are the other memory-hog software I use for photo processing. So he gave me a Virtual Machine, and I was overjoyed to be able to continue pursuing my passion with photography!
But the speed was very slow because my box does not have the necessary RAM. Now, we do not have the money to buy me more RAM. His first inclination was to let me try working my photo magic from his computer – which also runs Linux – and lo, it was miraculously fast! I was so grateful!! But then, as he stood beside me looking at his brand new ThinkServer, upgraded with extra RAM, a solid state drive, and graphics card, he mused, “I should give this one to you, and take yours back…”
Shocked, I exclaimed, “No, honey! You need this one for your programming and… whatever you do…”
“No, this is way more computer than I need. I mean, I love this computer! Don’t get me wrong – but you need it more than I do.”
I was dumbfounded. And then, simply, and with a small, satisfied smile he said, “I always give you the computers I love.”
And there it is.
That, my friends, in engineering language, is True Love.