Tous les matins du monde

31 03 2008

An excerpt from a movie based loosely on the life of the mysterious French composer known as Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe. Music courtesy of Jordi Savall.

God and the Light Bulb

28 03 2008


Listening to Catholic radio today, I caught the tail-end of a program on G.K. Chesterton. As usual, I was really interested in the program in order to mine it for the one line zingers that Chesterton is infamous for. One such zinger was his saying that science could no more tell you what to think than the telephone can tell you what to say, or something to that affect. I can concede that Chesterton very much had his finger to the pulse of the throbbing pains of modernity, though I have never found his prose very pleasing.
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27 03 2008


Hence it happens that the passion of a lover is not extinguished by the sight or touch of any body. For he does not desire this or that body, but he admires, desires, and is amazed by the splendor of the celestial majesty shining through bodies. For this reason, lovers do not know what they desire or seek, for they do not know God Himself, whose secret flavor infuses a certain sweet perfume into His works. By which perfume we are excited every day. The odor we certainly smell; the flavor we undoubtedly do not know. Since, therefore, attracted by the manifest perfume, we desire the hidden flavor, we rightly do not know what we are desiring or suffering.

-Marsilio Ficino, Commentary on Plato’s Symposium on Love

New resource

26 03 2008


A page on the music of the Spanish missions here in California, with musical excerpts.


25 03 2008


The four Gospels are placed by Origen in relation to the four elements of the world: he sees there the four elements of which the universe of grace is constituted. “the world that God has reconciled to Himself in Christ”…  Scripture is like another world, built on the first, and if “it is a mixture of things visible and invisible”, that is because the latter is also. 

 -Henri Cardinal de Lubac, History and Spirit: The Understanding of Scripture According to Origen

There are then two approaches to word/truth:

1. Word and truth as quantity and bits of information. Truth is something that is posessed, absolutely trascendent, and somewhat ghostly. It is abstract and very separate from the concrete. It is form extracted from matter. It is the basis of our modern approaches to metaphysics, hermeneutics, exegesis, political thought, etc.

2. Word and truth as symbolic reality (the ancient tradition): The truth is something to be assimilated, “swallowed”, and “performed” in the soul. The exterior order of the universe is meant to be absorbed into the soul so that it can reveal to the soul the order inherent inside it; the spark of divinity as St. Gregory Nanzianzen puts it. What goes on in the inner self is an expression of the order outside of oneself, and the realization ultimately arises that it is the interior beauty that is superior. Thus, the text is not something from which truth must be extracted like juice from pulp. It is rather a sign by which one’s ascent to the Divine is unlocked.

It is arguable that we don’t really understand a lot of what we read.

Return to the Country Chapel

23 03 2008


or: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

March 16th, 2008
 My birthday

The trip between Berkeley and Hollister takes approximately an hour and a half, but it is a whole world away. Living in the Bay Area, one’s head sometimes needs a bit of airing out. The Bay Area is one of the prettiest places I have ever lived, but it is also cramped, crowded, and not very pleasant at times. Once you get to the open spaces of San Benito County in spring time, everything being so green that it is almost unnatural, the soul of this country boy begins to cool again. Sometimes, you just need the space to breathe.

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On the Agony in the Garden

15 03 2008



Padre Nuestro, que estás en los cielos,
¡por qué te has olvidado de mí!
Te acordaste del fruto en febrero,
al llagarse su pulpa rubí.
¡Llevo abierto también mi costado,
y no quieres mirar hacia mí!

Te acordaste del negro racimo,
y lo diste al lagar carmesí;
y aventaste las hojas del álamo,
con tu aliento, en el aire sutil.
¡Y en el ancho lagar de la muerte
aun no quieres mi pecho oprimir!

Caminando vi abrir las violetas;
el falerno del viento bebí,
y he bajado, amarillos, mis párpados,
por no ver más enero ni abril.

Y he apretado la boca, anegada
de la estrofa que no he de exprimir.
¡Has herido la nube de otoño
y quieres volverte hacia mí!

Me vendió el que besó mi mejilla;
me negó por la túnica ruin.
Yo en mis versos el rostro con sangre,
como Tú sobre el paño, le di,
y en mi noche del Huerto, me han sido
Juan cobarde y el Ángel hostil.

Ha venido el cansancio infinito
a clavarse en mis ojos, al fin:
el cansancio del día que muere
y el del alba que debe venir;
¡el cansancio del cielo de estaño
y el cansancio del cielo de añil!

Ahora suelto la mártir sandalia 
y las trenzas pidiendo dormir.
Y perdida en la noche, levanto
el clamor aprendido de Ti:
¡Padre Nuestro, que estás en los cielos,
por qué te has olvidado de mí!

Gabriela Mistral

Our Father who art in Heaven
Why hast Thou forsaken me!
You looked upon the fruit in February
When it was cut open for all to see,
Now my own side has been opened
And your face is turned away from me!

You remembered the day of the black cluster
And over to the red press you gave it for wine,
And you stirred the leaves of the poplar,
With your breath, a wind divine;
But in the delivering winepress of death
My poor chest you will not unbind!

Walking I saw the violets open
And of the wind’s taste I had my fill,
I have lowered sorrowfully my yellow eyelids,
To see neither February nor April.

I have closed my mouth, overflowing
With the verse that I should never speak,
The cloud of autumn you have cruelly wounded
And now you want to turn towards me!

I was sold by him who kissed my cheek
For a tunic shameful and guilty,
I in my verses a face full of blood
Like You I offer up reverently,
All I have this night in the Garden
Are John’s cowardice and the Angel’s hostility.

At last, the endless fatigue has come
To seal my eyes heavily,
The tiredness of the dying day
And of the dawn that comes rapidly,
The fatigue and wailing of the sky of tin
And of the same sky, an indigo sea.

Now the martyred sandal is unloosed,
And my locks are pleading to sleep,
And in the lost night, the cry learnt from You
I now in despair unfree:
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Why hast Thou forsaken me!

-translated by Arturo Vasquez

Couperin: Leçons de Ténèbres

13 03 2008

Notes on a conversation

12 03 2008


 1. Does the lack of hegemony of the Church in most fields of human knowledge mean that our religiosity is now more superficial than it used to be centuries ago?

2. Does this superficiality in the Church lead to our emphasis on the Magisterium as a legal body that ties together a set of propositions and practices that otherwise would be completely arbitrary in themselves?

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Latent Calvinism

10 03 2008


With some people, you can move the furniture around and even change the wallpaper, but when they go from Protestant to Catholic/Orthodox/whatever, the predominant theological premise remains the same: 99% of people go to Hell and are therefore WRONG whereas I am part of the elect and hence I am right. Since everyone else is wrong, everything they do is wrong, and it should be condemned as wrong.

 I for one prefer to have mercy as I would wish to receive it. In other words, I may think that that guy who just graduated high school and is bagging groceries, smokes pot, listens to rap, and needs to pull his pants up, is on the wrong path, but I would like to think that he is trying his best with what he has been given. If he isn’t, then what excuse do I have? I don’t think that God is just hanging over us, ready to condemn us because of XYZ, as if He were standing over us with a clipboard ready to reject us as defective as in the old style factories. If this were the case, then I would definitely be rejected precisely because I do know better.

 And that is why I am reading the Renaissance Neoplatonists: they viewed the world through the prism of what is being done right rather than what is being done wrong. It is an attempt to trace truth even in the least likely of sources.