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I.N.R.I.

INRI

A rough quiet was universal in the grain,
The world was sunk with a thud in its post-hole,
The land planed smooth with a dead calm
On a length of rude wood. This somber season
          Lends itself to bare scenes
          Seen in bone white of moon.
Sorrow’s sisters, the winter constellations
Sink below spring’s crowned horizons
To lend the cruel thorn of remembrance to time
As old cares cease with cold easterlies
          Like history’s cessation itself.
Seasons hewn down and lumbered out,
          These ordinary passages
          Are timbered to mean less with knowledge.
          And so, drawing us close to a return
          From exile, our souls, sand blasted
          In desert treks, are polished like bone
To dry exultations. Cuttings and witherings
Are tossed to burn, texts of ash on our tongues.
          —It is the loneliest madness to know.
          And yet, even as the moon rises,
          Dividing the sea up in a surge,
          So, too, the huge will of the eternal
          Will interpolate exalted
Histories, bitterly salted, old and new,
With nature dethroned, denuded as never before
And man besieged, bereft as never again.
          So, our wills now testify to deserts
          Our minds return to wilderness
Our hearts hold crossed-lengths of wood
Blood-soaked in a single word saying,
          “All time is made minion of
          The rising horror of love, love
          Risen once in a creak of wood
          Rising ever in a darkened sky
          Risen again, in the closing book,
          Rising ever in the suffering eye.”
So we give up the world’s passions
For one passion. And naked thus we pray:
                We will drink not now to drink no more
                We will eat not now to eat no more
                We will feast not now to eat and drink forever.

‘… His Sepulchre Shall Be Glorious.’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

In that day the root of Jesse, who stands for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious.’

Isaiah 11: 10

‘Let Him Not Lose What He So Dear Hath Bought.’

From Cell 25 of the Convent of San Marco, by Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), 15th Century

Think on the very làmentable pain,

Think on the piteous cross of woeful Christ,

Think on His blood beat out at every vein,

Think on His precious heart carvèd in twain,

Think how for thy redemption all was wrought:

Let Him not lose what He so dear hath bought.

–Pico della Mirandola (translated by St Thomas More)

‘… He Shall Be Led as a Sheep to the Slaughter …’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

‘He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth.’

Isaiah 53: 7

Darkness

 

From the Dominican Office of Tenebrae (‘Darkness’) for Good Friday, A.D. 2009, at Blackfriars, Oxford.

The text for this portion of the service is the Benedictus, or Canticle of Zechariah. Though this canticle, comprising Luke 1:68-79, is part of the Church’s morning prayer every day of the year (at the hour of Lauds), it has a special resonance on these days.

Because of the compassionate kindness of our God,
the dawn from on high shall break upon u
s

To shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet in the way of peace.

‘…My Victim, Which I Slay for You…’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

‘Assemble yourselves, make haste, come together from every side to my victim, which I slay for you, a great victim upon the mountains of Israel: to eat flesh, and drink blood.’

Ezekiel 39:17

“Natural order? You sound like one of those insane Neo-Catholics.”

Altered-Carbon-2

…is an actual line of dialogue from Altered Carbon, Netflix’s dense and gorgeous sci-fi series about life after death has been digitally defeated. Consciousness has been codified, so you can get “spun up” into a new bodily “sleeve” for all eternity — provided you have the means. But wouldn’t you know it, there’s this weird bunch of religious zealots who object — who make noises about soul and body having more to do with each other than ghost and machine, who think it devilish to deny death and what comes after. Who make noises about human dignity. Remarkable.

It’s chock full of sex and violence, and the dialogue isn’t always the strongest, and the acting isn’t always spot-on. But there’s a lot there, and I’m kinda fascinated. It’d be fun to see some smart Catholic critic dig into it. Heh.

Hostiles

A very good movie, which reminded me a little of (the also very good) Meek’s Cutoff in its consideration of the mutual antagonism between Native Americans and White Settlers. The year is 1892, and the now safely united US government has all but finished clearing the way for westward expansion. Captain Joseph Blocker, who has himself done a fair amount of this clearing, has now been tasked with escorting a former adversary, Cheyanne Chief Yellow Hawk, from a fort in New Mexico Territory to the Chief’s ancestral lands in the newly created state of Montana. Violence ensues and then recurs like bad spells of the weather, meted out by both the U.S. Army and what Native warriors remain. Though, interestingly enough, not between Chief Yellow Hawk and Blocker, who need one another to fight other hostiles, Native American and Caucasian alike.

The friend with whom I watched it praised the movie for its story of a man growing beyond the racism with which he performed his duty to clear the territories by subjugating or killing people he refers to as “savages”. I saw that, but what interested me more was the way the knife’s edge between sanity and insanity was even sharper than that between violence and peace. In the end I decided that it was because of Blocker’s stubborn insistence on sanity that he is able to rise above the genocidal racism by which he has fought, and lay claim to the humanity he’ll need away from the battlefield. Uniformly well acted, especially by Christian Bale, and director Scott Cooper’s best yet.

Dreams

It is, of course, common internet knowledge that bitches love mixtapes.

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But dudes like mixtapes too. I know, because The Wife made one for me early on in the whole “she loves me/she loves me not” stage of things. Side A was titled “From love’s first fever…”; Side B, “…to her flame.” (A nice tweak on Dylan Thomas.) First song on Side B was “Dreams” by The Cranberries. (This was before it got used in every film trailer ever.) It was enough to give a young swain hope that he was not a swain in vain.

Anyway, it’s part of our history, and I was sad to hear of lead singer Dolores O’Riordan’s death.

Gerasene ’17: The Kollektiv at Notre Dame

4a52b04c-9854-4f8d-857b-c68d95a89614-002[Image: the Mississippi gravesite of Senator LeRoy Percy, Walker Percy’s uncle.]

CONFIRMED: Two [hopefully three] members of the Korrektiv as panelists at this summer’s Trying to Say “God”: Re-enchanting Catholic Literature, June 22-24 at the University of Notre Dame. Rally, Korrektiv, rally!