Archive for December, 2011

He still tried to think what was the right answer. Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? What did that mean, to kiss? To put your face up like that to say goodnight and then his mother put her face down. That was to kiss. His mother put her lips on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheek; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces? (14-15)

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

n., a caress or touch with the lips.

[Middle English kissen, from Old English cyssan.]

n., the formation of words whose sound is imitative of the sound of the noise or action designated.

[Late Latin, from Greek ονοματοποιια, from ονοματοποιος, coiner of names]

Pompeo Batoni, Sacra Famigla (1760)

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If you want to treat a tiger reasonably, you must go back to the garden of Eden. For the obstinate reminder continued to recur: only the supernatural has taken a sane view of Nature. The essence of all pantheism, evolutionism, and modern cosmic religion is really in the proposition: that Nature is our mother. Unfortunately, if you regard Nature as a mother, you discover that she is a step-mother. The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not out Mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate. This gives to the typically Christian pleasure in this earth a strange touch of lightness that is almost frivolity. Nature was a solemn mother to the worshippers of Isis and Cybele. Nature was a solemn mother to Wordsworth or to Emerson. But Nature is not solemn to Francis of Assisi or to George Herbert. To St. Francis, Nature is a sister, and even a younger sister: a little, dancing sister, to be laughed at as well as loved. (115-116)

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Giotto di Bondone, Preaching to the Birds (1295-1300)

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Lo! The First-born has opened unto us His feast as a treasure-house. This one day in the whole year alone opens that treasure-house: come, let us make gain, let us grow rich from it, ere they shut it up.

Blessed be the watchful, that have taken by force from it the spoil of Life. It is a great disgrace, when a man sees his neighbor take and carry out treasure, and himself sits in the treasure-house slumbering, so as to come forth empty.

In this feast, let each one of us crown the gates of his heart. The Holy Spirit longs for the gates thereof, that He may enter in and dwell there, and sanctify it, and He goes round about to all the gates to see where He may enter.

In this feast, the gates are glad before the gates, and the Holy One rejoices in the holy temple, and the voice resounds in the mouth of children, and Christ rejoices in His own feast as a mighty man.(Hymn 4)

St. Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns of the Nativity

Deacon Paul Drozdowski, St. Ephrem the Syrian

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Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

Truth, then, has arisen from the earth: Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of the Virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.

Truth has arisen from the earth: because the Word was made flesh. And justice looked down from heaven: because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

Truth has arisen from the earth: flesh from Mary. And justice looked down from heaven: for man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

Justified by faith, let us be at peace with God: for justice and peace have embraced one another. Through our Lord Jesus Christ: for Truth has arisen from the earth. Through whom we have access to that grace in which we stand, and our boast is in our hope of God’s glory. He does not say: “of our glory,” but of God’s glory: for justice has not come out of us but has looked down from heaven. Therefore he who glories, let him glory, not in himself, but in the Lord.

For this reason, when our Lord was born of the Virgin, the message of the angelic voices was: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to men of good will.

For how could there be peace on earth unless Truth has arisen from the earth, that is, unless Christ were born of our flesh? And he is our peace who made the two into one: that we might be men of good will, sweetly linked by the bond of unity.

Let us then rejoice in this grace, so that our glorying may bear witness to our good conscience by which we glory, not in ourselves, but in the Lord. That is why Scripture says: He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head. For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become son of God?

Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace.

St Augustine of Hippo, bishop

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Marcus Aurelius is the most intolerable of human types. He is an unselfish egoist. An unselfish egoist is a man who has pride without the excuse of passion. Of all conceivable forms of enlightenment the worst is what these people call the Inner Light. Of all horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the god within… That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worships cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within. Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards, to behold the astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners. (75-76)

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

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Finally, and this was [St. Thomas Aquinas’] supreme achievement, when by his genius as a theologian he made use of Aristotle’s philosophy as the instrument of the sacred science which is, so to speak, “an impress on our minds of God’s own knowledge” (ST I, q. 1,a. 3,ad 2), he raised that philosophy above itself by submitting it to the illumination of a higher light, which invested its truth with a radiance more divine than human. Between Aristotle as viewed in himself and Aristotle viewed in the writings of St. Thomas is the difference which exists between a city seen by the flare of a torchlight procession and the same city bathed in the light of the morning sun. (61-62)

Jacques Maritain, An Introduction to Philosophy

n., “not a “wisdom of conduct or practical life that consists in acting well. It is a wisdom whose nature consists essentially in knowing.” (Maritain, 64)

[Middle English philosophie, from Old French, from Latin philosophia, from Greek φιλοσοφια]

n., the systematic study of Christian revelation concerning God’s nature and purpose, esp through the teaching of the Church

[Middle English theologie, from Old French, from Latin theologia, from Greek θεολογια]

Benozzo Gozzoli, The Glory of St. Thomas Aquinas (15th cent.)

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[Søren] Kierkegaard left [Walker] Percy with two distinctions he would employ for the rest of his life. One was the distinction between two mdoes of knowledge: that of science, which deals with types and generalities, and that of religious faith, which deals with the individual whose salvation is at stake.

The other distinction was a broader one between ways of knowing, which Kierkegaard defined most memorably in an essay called “Of the Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle.” Percy summarized the argument: Kierkegaard says that a genius is a man who arrives at truth like a scientist or a philosopher or a thinker… He can arrive at a truth anywhere, anytime, anyplace, whereas an apostle has heard the news of something that has happened, and he has the authority to tell somebody who hasn’t heard the news what the news is.”

The news, in Kierkegaard’s view, is the Christian message; for him the genius is inferior to the apostle, whose knowledge bears most strongly on the individual life.

In the long term Kierkegaard’s essay made Percy want to be a Christian and an apostle.(142-143)

Paul Elie, The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage (2003)

Duccio di Buoninsegna, The Sending of the Twelve (14th cent.)

n., one of a group made up especially of the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus to preach the gospel.

[Old English apostol, from Church Latin apostolus, from Greek apostolos, messenger, from αποστελλειν, to send forth]

n., a person of extraordinary intellect and talent

[Middle English, guardian spirit, from Latin gignere, to beget]

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The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be hat He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg. If a human being conceives and brings forth a human child instead of bringing forth a fish, or a bat, or a griffin, the reason may not be that we are fixed in an animal fate without life or purpose. It may be that our little tragedy has touched the gods, that they admire it from their starry galleries, and that at the end of every human drama man is called again again before the curtain. (58-59)

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Matthew Offner, Castilla y Leon (2009)

n., a low-growing European plant (Bellis perennis) having flower heads with pink or white rays.

[Middle English daisie, from Old English dæges ēage : dæg, day + ēage, eye]

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You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

St Bernard, abbot

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (1.26-38)

The Gospel of St Luke

The Annunciation (14th cent., Russia)

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Mateo’s birthday!

8:25pm – Torres del Río

31km from Estella – our biggest distance day yet, over nineteen miles, most of which was over brilliantlyt flat dirt roads to Los Arcos. We lost leaving Estella, some twenty minutes wandering about, but we eventually found the processional of pilgrims out of town.

True to form, the first few towns involve good medium gradient hills that tests our morning legs, still weary from the trip to Estella. As it is Sunday/Domingo, nothing is open, except a cafe in Villamayor de Monjardín, which all the pilgrims raided for sandwiches and fruit juice before the 14.5km walk to Los Arcos. The walk there was only difficult in distance, but there were no hills or tough terrain to negotiate.

The final push to Torres del Río was more of the same, but too including some time along the high. It was on this last leg that we are quickly passed by a female, absolutely flying by us on the roadside. We later find her in town, along with a French gentleman, all of us looking for an open albergue. We four finally find Casa Mari, a hostel run by a half-crazy women, dead-set on pronouncing my home nation “ew sa” (USA). The French gentleman is Andrew from Britanny, and the Czech gal is Hedvika, who apparently didn’t leave Estella until 10am, as she attended Mass. Mateo and I gather she must not have stopped once until Torres. And I feel guilty for not attending Mass this morning.

Before enterting Los Arcos, a woman out for her afternoon stroll declares to us “¿qué día bonita para pasar en el camino?” / “Isn’t it a nice day to be on (the) camino?” — And it was. rather cool in the morning for most of the travel.

Also on the long traverse from Villamayor to Los Arcos, we encountered a gentleman I’m calling el lobo solo. This gut is built for camino, or the Appalachian Trail, or any other long distance trip you throw at him. He travels alone, deep-dark tan, killer boot, grey round-brimmed hat. He took only the shortest break in Los Arcos before heading  on to Tores, and not even stopping there. While Mateo and I were enjoying our sandwiches with our boots off aside a stream, he swings past us and simply utters “buen provecho” “enjoy. It seemed pretty badass at the time.

Dinner for Mateo’s birthday

Germans – Ronnie and Bruin
Canadiens – Rachel and Christian

Ronnie is an Arsenal fan and doesn’t care for the Bundesliga. We discuss Wenger, Henry, Bergkamp, and Fàbregas; Bruin is a talkative advertising agent from East Berlin, who’s done camino, but whose knees are bad and had to rest two days in Pamplona, then took a bus to Los Arcos.

A strange, scary situation: a gentleman from Guardia Civil asks Mateo (because he speaks Spanish) a series of questions about we had seen a person in a white truck along the camino. Something about a French girl getting harassed/assaulted right before Los Arcos. We’d like not to think that this is the business of the camino, but I imagine parts can be more perilous than you’d like.

But tonight I got to talk to Laura on Matt’s Skype account, which I know was big for me, since the last time we spoke was Tuesday from a pay-phone in the Dublin airport. She’s in High Point with her parents.

Antón Hurtado, “Torres del Río” (2003) (artist’s website)

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