On Family

26 12 2008


I know I promised those who are still reading a present, but that fell through. Truth be told, I am beginning to have second thoughts about this whole blog thing, just because it feels like I am just spinning my wheels a lot of times. It’s like the various times of my life where I write poetry: a lot of times some of the poems I write are good, others not so good. I usually stop at the point where I feel that I am writing the same poem over and over and over again. Blogging is a little more forgiving since you can post what other people write and merely comment on it, or you can post videos, poems from others, etc. I am trying to write things for a wider audience other than this blog, though that requires more time and attention. If I ever do get a wider audience, chances are that this blog will still remain for all of my ideas that are too off-the-wall for anyone else to publish. A lot of what follows will be some of those ideas:

AG being out of town, I was free to go home to Hollister for Christmas. What I attended on Christmas Eve (Noche Buena), somewhat half asleep, was the familial ceremony known as the “Ceremonia para acostar y arrullar al Niño Dios”, which is when the family gets together, sings songs, and puts the Divine Child in His crib. The most touching part is when, while some were chatting after the rosary, my grandmother began to sing a lullaby to the Infant Jesus while holding Him in her arms. Touching, but that’s just what Mexican grandmothers do. They also feed you. The reason I was half-asleep was because I had eaten myself into a tamale-induced food coma.
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22 12 2008

Well, this is year three of blogging, and still it seems to be going strong. In the ten months that I have started this new blog, I have tried to make it more of a spiritual exercise (not in the Ignatian sense) than some sort of on-line diary. Thus, personal news and reflections have been kept to a minimum. However, as for many, 2008 proved to be a difficult year for me, and 2009, barring some sort of miracle, will prove to be even more difficult. I commend myself to your prayers.

I am putting the blog on hiatus until after the New Year. Most of you during this time should not be on the Internet anyway and should be enjoying the Christmas season with your loved ones. In my own life, this will give me some time to write for other fora as well, and allow me to write enough posts for this blog so I don’t have to worry about it much.

I will have one more post, a present of sorts, to be posted for those who will still be reading this blog. Expect it in the next couple of days.

Thank you for reading, and Merry Christmas.


Secularization: A Concrete Case

19 12 2008


From Platonic Shift by Lee Hamilton

The change that has taken hold in Québec has been astonishingly rapid. I come from a francophone family (on my mother’s side) that was steeped in Catholicism, but which has – over the four living generations that can still be gathered in a (large) room – lived out the dramatic inter-generational passage from religiosity to secularism.

Read the rest here

It is pretty certain that no such secularization has yet to take place in Latin America, and even the cult of Santa Muerte and Jesus Malverde in Mexico, among other things, means that secularism has not yet penetrated in spite of the best attempts of the government to supress the influence of the Church in Mexico. Nevertheless, in Argentina, it was interesting how many people didn’t even know what a cassock was. It is a universal phenomenon, just taking different forms in different places.

In the end, it seems that secularization, as I have argued before, comes about when people feel they no longer need God for their daily needs. As Mr. Hamilton argues, in the case of Quebec, the government stepped in to take the Church’s place, and in many ways it is doing a better job. There is no real way around it: being affluent weakens religion. No wonder Our Lord is so harsh against rich people in the Gospel.

De voce

19 12 2008

Lope de Vega & Francisco Guerrero – Soliloquios amorosos de un alma a Dios.

Montserrat Figueras (Soprano).

Canta Amarilis, y su voz levanta
mi alma desde el orbe de la luna
a las inteligencias, que ninguna
la suya imita con dulzura tanta.

De su número luego me trasplanta
a la unidad, que por sí misma es una,
y cual si fuera de su coro alguna,
alaba su grandeza cuando canta.

Apártame del mundo tal distancia,
que el pensamiento en su Hacedor termina,
mano, destreza, voz y consonancia.

Y es argumento que su voz divina
algo tiene de angélica sustancia,
pues a contemplación tan alta inclina.

-Lope de Vega

The Problem of Evil in Neoplatonic Thought

18 12 2008

But it is as if two people were living in the same well-built house; one of them criticizes its structure and its builder, although he keeps on living in it all the same. The other, however, does not criticize; in fact, he affirms the builder has constructed the house with consummate skill, and he awaits the time when he will move on, and no longer have need of a house… He who finds fault with the nature of the universe does not know what he is doing, nor how far his arrogance is taking him. The reason is that they do not know about the successive order of things, from the first to the second to the third, and down to the last things; nor do they know that we must not abuse those things which are lower than the first, but gently acquiesce in the nature of all things.


Boys cannot understand the counsel of their elders, nor peasants the thoughts of the wise. However, with unbecoming arrogance, the earthly creature Man often presumes to fathom the reasons of divine nature, and search into the purpose of its providence. And, what is worse, men of all ages blasphemously discuss the divine mysteries at banquets, even in brothels. Pythagoras justly prohibited speaking of these mysteries without divine insight. No man, but the divine, Campano, perceives the divine… It should therefore be enough for man to know that the beautiful working of this single universe is governed by a wise architect, on whom it depends. From goodness itself only good can spring. And what proceeds from that can only be ordered well. Therefore, everything should be accepted for the best. Who thus understands the divine, and loves it, is divine by nature, good in practice, joyful in hope, blessed in reward.

-Marsilio Ficino

Of the most ridiculous of people who pretend to be philosophers, the most foolish are those who toil over the “problem of evil”.  This most of all is like chasing your own tail. If you want to understand evil, look at yourself, at your own fears, and your own mortality. The chaos in your own heart is the cause of the chaos outside of it.

The only satisfactory resolution to the problem of horrible things happening to us is, to echo Plotinus, to realize that this house that we live in now is only a temporary stop in our pilgrimage towards eternity. We are, as both of the divines say, called to a higher life, on the cusp of eternity and time, eternal life and temporary death. There is no other way to make sense of the atrocities and tragedies experienced here; providence is beyond the grasp of the human mind. Only the invoking of the divine in ourselves can save us and bring back light from the darkness. The only way to escape the evils of our animal existence is to leap over the human towards the divine. This is more a ritual, a surrender to the One using the things of this world to recognize our own falleness, than a puzzle to be solved by the humanly clever.

La sombra de San Pedro

17 12 2008


La siguiente oración se suele usar mucho para apartar el mal. También la usan mucho los curanderos durante sus ceremonias. Encontré esta oración en este sitio:

San Pedro Nubes

Librame Pedro Divino
por tu caridad y amor;
Hoy salgo yo al camino,
gran Apóstol del Señor.
Te pido, Apóstol Sagrado,
que tan solo al invocarte,
Cuando me vea atribulado
tu siempre estés de mi parte.
En cualquier peligro grave,
en cualquier triste aflicción
Y en donde quiera que yo ande,
Pedro, allí tu protección.

Pues una meced te pido,
por tu sombra refulgente,
son muchos los enemigos
que me siguen diariamente.
De un asalto en el camino
en una hora desastrada,
Cubrenos Pedro divino,
con tu sombra tan sagrada.
Cuando yo la camino salga
y me asalte el malhechor,
Allí tu sombra me valga
en el nombre del Señor.

Tu de Dios fuiste elegido
para ser su secretario,
Apóstol Señor San Pedro,
sírveme de relicario.
En la mansión de la tierra,
En cualquier trance o peligro
De persecución o guerra
Librame, Pedro divino.
Haz que Dios goce en el Cielo,
Por ti todo bien se alcanza,
ábrame las puertas Pedro
de la bienaventuranza.

Tú seas mi custodio y guía
Por donde quiera que salga
En la noche o en el día,
Siempre tu sombra me valga.
Te pido con eficacia,
Príncipe Apóstol Sagrado,
que no pierda la gracia,
Que no muera en pecado.
Por aquel grande dolor
cuando tu arrepentimiento,
Pedro Apóstol del Señor,
Librame cada momento.

Cuando mi alma perdonada
Sea la culpa inmortal,
No me niegues tu la entrada
A la patria celestial.
Ruega al Señor por nosotros
Que te hacemos petición,
Favorece a los devotos
Que cargan tu devoción. Amén.


Santo Apóstol, Pedro Clemente,
De mi no apartes tu protección,
A ti me acojo yo reverente
Y elevo humilde esta petición.

Cubreme, sombra del mas sublime
De los pastores, tenme piedad,
Aparta siempre de mi destino
Toda miseria y enfermedad.

Quien no me quiera que huya de mí,
Las personas adversas apártalas,
Bendice, Pedro, tú mi camino
Y no me dejes nunca penar.

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The Chinese Pipa

16 12 2008

As played by Wu Man

On the Power of the Stars

15 12 2008


And some random reflections

[Image by Robert Place found on this site]

But what is remarkable about the Florentine cupolas is that they represent no merely random arrangement of the stars: the artist has preserved the aspect of the sky exactly as it appeared at a given day and hour. Why was this done? Without the slightest doubt, because some event of decisive importance for the Church had taken place at that very moment – an event over which the celestial powers then above the horizon had presided. Aby Warburg was able, in fact, to prove that the arrangement of the stars shown in the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo corresponds exactly to their position in the sky above Florence on July 9, 1422, the date of the consecration of the main altar.

-taken from The Survival of the Pagan Gods by Jean Seznec
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Real Kneeling Theology

14 12 2008


A Los Angeles Times story about pilgrims to the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe. See the video as well.

I have always been skeptical of all talk of an “interior life” or faith as an abstract idea. This for me is far more familiar and far more real.

¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!

12 12 2008