Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on YouTube!

It’s Walker Percy’s Hundredth Birthday and We Suck

… but here’s the beginning of an epic poem about the time a young man met the man himself:

November 22, 1989

The day I met Walker, the rain had fallen
in Louisiana sheets, and I’d left
my tent illicitly pitched in the Bogue Falaya
State Park, along with a bookish bottle
of Early Times I’d taken a few swigs off of
in the dark the night before as pine cones pitched
and fell outside as if in triadic morse code
from Flannery in heaven telling me grace was in
the river. And alligators, too, I reckoned.
I walked the cracked sidewalks of Covington, aimlessly,
dazed by the wonder of seeing vines sprouting
through the cracks in a sacramental vision,
a concelebration of the namer and the named,
and lept across the flashflood puddles
as I made my way towards no destination
but found myself in The Kumquat bookstore
to oggle shelves bursting with signed copies
of The Moviegoer, The Last Gentleman, Love in the Ruins, Lancelot,
The Second Coming, The Thanatos Syndrome, Lost
in the Cosmos, The Message in the Bottle, books
that had changed (and continue to change) my life.
Oh Walker (Oh Rory) I was twenty-four
and pining for a woman I was also
on the run from in triangular
despair (yet thanks in part to you I also
was aware, at least a little — a foothold —
of the despair, contrary to that Kierkegaardian
epigraph, precisely pitched though it is).
Oh Walker: so I bought a stack of books,
some for me and some for those I loved,
and left instructions with the keeper of
the store to have you encode, in your
physician’s scrawl, your cracked prescriptions
where the vines of love and truth might grow from bourbon
and ink, the cumulative bliss of limitation,
where you and I might clear a space for being.

I Don’t Wanna Go to Mass

Something Potter came up with after his daughter said she didn’t want to go to mass. Apparently he was trying to one-up her in the anti-mass department.

San Diego in the news.

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Not my town, but the original San Diego – San Diego de Alcala. Or rather, his corpse. And a praying robot made in his image. A little something for anyone who has ever felt the least bit automatic during recitation of the rosary.

Sext

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Catholic Celebrities in Need of Prayers

Of course all celebrites need your prayers, but since I was about to title this Catholics Behaving Badly or something similar, perhaps we could focus some of our spiritual efforts on behalf of coreligionist Brian Williams, who seems to be having an especially hard time of it these last few weeks. Right now it’s a somewhat embellished story about getting shot down in a Chinook helicopter, last month it was having to defend his daughter’s acting abilities, or maybe career choices (actually, no, don’t follow that second link, especially if you’re in a public place), as one of the stars on HBO’s Girls

“She’s always been an actress. For us, watching her is the family occupation and everybody has to remember it’s acting, no animals were harmed during the filming, and ideally nobody gets hurt.“

Think your life is rough? I don’t care how wealthy or insulated or just plain spoiled rotten he or they or you are—that is rough.

God help us all.

Pious Editions and Other Accretions…

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Regarding Ms. O’Connor and her struggle with the ultimate tension of any fictionist – nature and grace – Paul Elie has a new shot soaring across the secular bow here.

 

 

 

Practice What You Preach Department

faded signposts

We shall still more thoroughly ground the young man, if, on introducing him to poetry, we explain to him that it is an imitative art and agent, analogous to painting. Not only must he be made acquainted with the common saying that poetry is vocal painting, and painting, silent poetry, but he must also teach him that when we see a painting of a lizard, an ape, or the face of Thersites, our pleasure and surprise are occasioned, not by the beauty of the object, but by the likeness of the painting to it. For it is naturally impossible for the ugly to be beautiful, but it is the imitation which is praised, if it reproduce to the life either an ugly or beautiful object. On the contrary, if an ugly object is represented as beautiful, we deny the truthfulness or the consistency of the picture.

How to Study Poetry by Plutarch.

 

 

Hot Prayer Tips

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In the waiting room while my dad gets his ticker worked on.

Anecdote of the Storage Cubby

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Keeping the Dog Far Hence: A Lenten Reflection

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By Cecilia O’Brien

That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!

-Eliot

Waiting, waiting, waiting…

Lent arrives during the most appropriate season in our little patch of the world. Southwest Wisconsin at this time of year is a season of mud, dirty snow, patchy ice, fleeting sun and winds whispering promises of things to come. The days grow longer and the hours a bit slower as we wait, and wait, and wait for signs of spring.

The frozen ground begins to reveal the hidden sins of winter; animal waste, a plethora of bones dragged in by the dog, long lost mittens, buckets and plastic bags, and other sundry items that have fallen from our pockets or have been swept from our cars. It is ugly, the dirty snow, the brown earth, the garbage.

As is the season, so too is the state of our souls. Lent pulls back the blanket of complacency, revealing our imperfections, inconsistencies, and inadequacies. It lays bare the detritus from seasons past. Our souls are scarred with sins of gluttony, pride, selfishness, lust, anger…. The list goes on and on. It too is ugly, the blanket of complacency, the scars, the sins.

And yet hope lies in those winds of promise. Hope for new life, green pastures, gurgling streams, and the warming rays of the sun. Work must be done. The plastic and paper garbage must be secured lest the wind blows them in all directions once again.

The dog does not like to lose her many bones littering the lawn and field. We have tried burying them or tossing them over a distant ravine but she always manages to retrieve them, scattering them about, scars on our landscapes, obstacles in our paths. So the bones and garbage are collected, placed in garbage bags and sent to the county dump and recycling center to be crushed, incinerated, or reformed.

Our sins also have the tendency to make their way back to our soul’s landscape, blocking the way, obscuring the warming rays of the Son. They too must be collected and disposed, leaving our soul exposed to the light of grace.

The confessional is our soul’s county dump. We acknowledge our sins, gather them in a heap, and one by one feed them into the great incinerator of God’s mercy. Our soul’s soil lies exposed, to soak up the gift of grace through the sacraments.

So this Lent, as we wait and wait and wait, for the green of spring and the promise of resurrection, let’s gather up the garbage, the old bones, and dispense ourselves of them in the sacrament of penance and reconciliation.

NOTICE / AVISO

Muscle Shoals : Korrektiv Press

I saw this a few months ago and it hit me like a prophetic vision of what Korrektiv Press could be: the Muscle Shoals of the new media/publishing world. Rally Korrektiv, rally!

Aside from that … just a great documentary. Something mystical happened at Muscle Shoals. Highly recommended.

A good book may not be so hard to find as a good man.

O’Connor’s A Prayer Journal is out November 12.

FOUND: Chastity’s Tassles

Fighting evil: Tess Scherkenback (left) Brynne Larson, and Savannah Scherkenback (right) want to free Britain from demons and evil spirits which they say have a grip on young people

Or at least a good contender.

And by the way isn’t there a novel somewhere in here too?

Sanctus Pater Noster Dominicus

Cell 7 of the Convent of San Marcoby Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), 15th Century

Cell 7 of the Convent of San Marco
by Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), 15th Century

Today is the feast of Saint Dominic de Guzman, founder of the Order of Preachers.

As previously noted in Korrektiv, Holy Father Dominic practiced ‘nine ways of prayer’, based on distinct gestures or attitudes of the body. The Nashville Dominicans have a superb illustrated outline.

Blessed Fra Angelico‘s fresco of the mocking of Christ (above) depicts Dominic off to the side, reading — but, it’s safe to suppose from the context, not just reading: In his Eighth Way of Prayer, Saint Dominic integrated the acts of prayer and reading. Dominic’s reading-prayer did not consist only in his meditation on the text, but also in his reverent handling of the book as a physical object, and in his engagement with the Divine Author as a presence in the room. The Nashville Dominicans quote Fr Simon Tugwell, OP’s description of the Eighth Way:

Sober and alert and anointed with a spirit of devotion which he had drawn from the words of God which had been sung in choir or during the meal, [Dominic] would settle himself down to read or pray, recollecting himself in himself and fixing himself in the presence of God. Sitting there quietly, he would open some book before him, arming himself first with the sign of the cross, and then he would read. And he would be moved in his mind as delightfully as if he heard the Lord speaking to him. […] It was as if he were arguing with a friend; at one moment he would appear to be feeling impatient, nodding his head energetically, then he would seem to be listening quietly, then you would see him disputing and struggling, and laughing and weeping all at once, fixing then lowering his gaze, then again speaking quietly and beating his breast. […] The man of God had a prophetic way of passing over quickly from reading to prayer and from meditation to contemplation.

When he was reading like this on his own, he used to venerate the book and bow to it and sometimes kiss it, particularly if it was a book of the gospels or if he was reading the words which Christ had spoken with his own lips. And sometimes he used to hide his face and turn it aside, or he would bury his face in his hands or hide it a little in his scapular. And then he would also become anxious and full of yearning, and he would also rise a little, respectfully, and bow as if he were thanking some very special person for favors received. Then, quite refreshed and at peace in himself, he would continue reading his book.

Whatever you’re doing …

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The Leprechaun’s Advice to My Daughter

leprechaun-pot-of-gold-coins-by-IGNACIOLEOI have a nine-year-old daughter who, as is the practice in our diocese, went through confirmation and first communion (in tandem) about a year ago. Since then, I’ve been wondering if waiting until later for confirmation (as is the norm in most dioceses, I think) might not have been the better course. She was all for getting confirmed, seemed to really like the grown-up credentials that were thereby assigned to her, etc., which I thought was all well and good. But since then things have degraded. Getting this girl to mass every week has increasingly become an ordeal. She hates it, is bored by it, whines and moans and protests about it every week, and then sits through it as disengaged as she can be, occasionally asking when it will be over. This is troubling to say the least.

With that in mind, tell me if the following deception on my part is morally questionable and/or in any other way ill-advised. Or is it a justifiable form of holy trickery akin to what Walker Percy said about the Catholic writer having to use every trick at her disposal to lure the reader into receiving the news from across the sea?

Last night this girl left her shoes out for the leprechaun who always visits the night before St. Patrick’s Day to leave goodies in. She included a little gift for the leprechaun (a pencil with shamrocks on it) and a note asking him to leave her a real photo of himself as proof of his existence. So I left some chocolate gold coins in the shoes, took the pencil, and then scribbled a thank you on her note (in my best leprechaunish hand) saying that she should check her email (yes, she has her own email account) for a photo. Then I got online and created an email account for the leprechaun (leprechaun_37@), found a suitable photo online, and sent it to her as an attachment from “yours truly.”

She loved it. To tell the truth, I’m not sure to what degree she really buys it. I think she is willing to suspend disbelief and join in the fun of it to some extent. But at any rate, she is playing along and very keen on having a leprechaun she can exchange emails with.

Fast forward to me telling her it’s time to get ready for mass. Her reply: “We have to go to mass on St. Patrick’s day?!” All the more so! says I. “I’m going to ask the leprechaun,” says she. So she sends the leprechaun an email: “do i have to go to mass?”

And here is the leprechaun’s repy:

Ah, H_______ my dear dear girl, what do you think? Not only do you have your marvelous Sunday obligation today, when all the faithful (among whom I assume you are counted!) are obliged to partake of the presence of Our Lord in the bread and wine — not only that (as if that weren’t more than enough miracle to draw you forth to the church my dear girl) but today is the feast day of the great great saint, Patrick of Ireland, who certainly deserves to be honored in a special way with extra prayers and oblations and songs of praise … and of course the wearing of your finest green adornments, my dear girl. Now off to holy Mass you go and no more hemming and hawing!

Your friend,
Leprechaun #37

P.S. Here is a wonderful prayer of St. Patrick I hope you will share with your family on this splendid feast day. Will you invite your mother and father and sister to pray this prayer with you today? This would surely make St. Patrick smile down on you from heaven and the sun shine a bit brighter this day.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Please advise, ye fellow bad Catholics.

The Digriteor

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I
Did you hear the one about the orange
Under the electron microscope, and how
The grand canyon of it all they found

In the black and white they took would give
The lie to think the gods of nature wrought
Cartesian topologies for men, our palms

To sooth, our minds to smooth, and tincture truth
With text of juicy parchment? Moist yet dry
It slices deep horizons into wedges.

II
(I digress.)
It’s mighty odd
To be bruised and bothered by blisters;

Though I have lately found
July’s clouds – July’s birds
And July’s raving wind. They sing July’s graves, wild with dew.

Though I called, though I called,
Though I most seriously called
They were the facts I lost, ever-divergent,

Told in angles and slants;
Yet, bruised and bothered by blisters,
They say to me no true word that’s not.

III
They say that atoms are God’s rosary beads –
They spin off through fingered voids like blebs of fire,
Each revolution increasing by one

The total sum that sloughs from stars and sand,
What Abraham was pained to count. And yet
His foot would make its mark and guide his eyes

To smart additions of eternity,
The promised land extracted ex nihilo.
Unpeel that mystery, you’ll find it rhymes with prayer.