“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart…”-Joel 2:12.
Lent is one of my favorite liturgical seasons for many reasons. One of them is how honest Christians are about how sinful we are and how vast and overwhelming God’s mercy is. Being honest about that stuff is difficult but at least during this one point in the year, we are honest with ourselves, with each other, and with God. We are so honest about this sinfulness that we begin this season by literally smearing it across our foreheads. It’s humbling and shows that we all have room to grow. But the best thing about having room to grow is that you can still grow.
I have a really good feeling that though this Lent is going to be challenging, it will be so rewarding and healing. Please, God, make it so.
Happy Ash Wednesday, everyone.
A patron left us Mardi Gras beads at the library last night, so I’ve been wearing them most of the day. It occurs to me that my face looks really puffy in this photo. I had gum in my mouth when I took this, so that’s why.
There must be water
Somewhere, I say, digging through
Sand and sand and sand.
Acedia is a term for feeling spiritually dry, alone, and for finding prayer difficult. 2017 has been a year of acedia for me.
So we haven’t done one of these in ages. The readings for this Sunday (read them here) were especially poignant considering all the terrible things going on here in the United States concerning race, racial ideologies, and hatred. The pastor of my parish preached a fantastic homily about how hatred and pre-judgement of any kind alienates us from God’s kingdom because anything that comes from God does not divide, but unites.
One line that particularly struck me from the second reading is “For the gifts and call of God are irrevocable.” There’s just something that’s so beautiful and yet terrifying about the gifts and call of God being irrevocable. Terrifying in that at times it feels like we can’t live out God’s call or are afraid to use the gifts he’s given us. But so beautiful in that despite all our fears, reluctance, and stubbornness, he isn’t going to take them back. And he isn’t going to leave us when we don’t follow his call how he might want us to, or if we stray a little too far, “…for he has said ‘I will never forsake you or abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
His call and his gifts are for all. No qualifications or even willingness needed. His arms and his heart are always open, we need only reach out. And that is so important to remember, especially in such troubled times.
I hope the skies are sunny where ever you are today. God bless.
Hello, everyone. We’re going to do something different on the blog today. I’m going to be talking about the film, Silence. I saw it last week and have been wanting to talk about it, but it’s taken me a while to collect my thoughts. For those of you who don’t know, Silence is a movie about two Jesuit missionaries who travel to 17th century Japan to seek out their brother priest, who appears to have gone missing.
This post is going to be something between a review and an analysis, so if you don’t want the movie to be spoiled, then don’t read any further until you’ve watched the movie. For those of you who have seen it or don’t care about being spoiled, feel free to pass go and collect your $200.
After trying to write a lengthy review about this movie, I decided to keep it to a bullet point list of my thoughts. Before anything else, I should define the term apostasy, since it is one I will use often. Apostasy means to reject or to turn away from a faith or belief system in favor of a different one. This has been symbolized in such ways as stepping on a rosary or a cross or, like in the film, an image of Jesus. For more information about this, click here. If you’d like me to elaborate on any of these bullet points, feel free to ask in the comments.
- This film is so respectful of both sides, the persecuted and the persecutors, and allows both sides to explain their viewpoints on Christianity and its place in Japan. And while there is a lot of debate both within the film and externally about whether or not the apostasy committed is justified, the film offers no definitive judgement about it, letting the viewers decide for themselves if those who renounce the faith were right in doing so. While I disagree with apostasy and the idea that Christ would move anyone to apostasize (as he does so in the story with Fr. Rodrigues), it was an interesting way of portraying such a complex and difficult situation.
- The use of color in this film is fantastic, though sparing. The only colors that are used are the reds of fire and blood, the blue of the sea where Christians are drowned, the multiple greens and muddy browns of Japan itself, and the white of the Buddhist/Shinto authorities dwellings and the fans they use. And of course, the white of the Easter lily at the end.
- Rodrigues, played by Andrew Garfield, is an amazing character. Though not much is revealed about his past, I could tell he grew up like a lot of Catholic kids (including this one), learning the stories of the martyrs and looking up to them and not really considering what martyrdom actually looks and sounds like. And when he does see and hear the terrible truth that is martyrdom, he doesn’t like what he sees and hears. And it does cause him to question if such suffering is worth it, especially since God seems silence throughout.
- Can we talk for a moment about Fr. Garupe, Adam Driver’s character? Holy moly, he was totally different than what I thought he was going to be. The trailer revealed him to be a questioning sort of fellow, and that’s exactly what he is. Throughout their time in Japan, he is questioning while Rodrigues is quiet, doubting where the other is faithful. Yet he does not apostasize (at least I think he doesn’t, I might be wrong about that) and dies a martyr’s death while trying to save one of the Japanese faithful. Even if he did apostasize, it still was a brave way to die and one I wouldn’t have thought his character capable of. Yet some of the greatest saints started out as people seemingly the least likely to become holy.
- I can’t remember where this happens in the film, but at some point Fr. Rodrigues tucks the little crucifix from his rosary into the waistband of his pants. You don’t see that crucifix again until the end of the film (which was a tremendous way to end it). That really struck me because it’s an incredible visual metaphor for what he had to do after publicly denouncing the faith and agreeing to live as Japanese. Christians have been under persecution in different parts of the world since the Crucifixion and that simple action was a nod to this fact while showing that he had tucked his faith away in the most intimate part of himself.
- I really like that, however much people aposticized and stepped on icons of Jesus, the images never got dirty, no matter how muddy people’s feet or shoes were.
- The one character I got incredibly frustrated with was Kichijiro. He aposticized, then kept coming back to Fr. Rodrigues for confession again and again. I was so annoyed with him, especially in the middle of the movie (when he gives up Fr. Rodrigues to the officials) and I wondered why he didn’t just give up and either live the faith or leave the faith. Then I realized that I do exactly what Kichijiro does, every time I sin and turn back to God in the sacrament of confession, only to sin again. And I felt ashamed at my annoyance.
- I was so pleased to see, before the credits started rolling, that they dedicated the film to the Japanese martyrs, with the postscript of the Jesuit’s motto, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, “For the greater glory of God”. It just made me think that there is no better way to honor the sacrifice of those brave people than to tell their story in such a wonderful, honest piece of art. I had also been listening to Hamilton earlier that morning and seeing this movie truly drove home the point that we “have no control who lives who dies, who tells our story.” It makes me wish that all martyrs and indeed, everyone, could have their lives told in such a beautiful way.
Have you seen Silence? If you have, let me know what you thought about it in the comments. If you’d like a much more detailed and much better analysis than mine about the movie, watch this video. Also, if you’re looking for a good Catholic youtuber, you should watch this guy’s videos. He’s pretty great.
That’s all I have for now, everyone. Thanks for reading this ramble. Before I forget, I had another story published by the good folks at 101 Words. If you want to read it, click here. It’ll be permanently archived on my writing page, which I am planning on reformatting soon so it doesn’t look like such an eyesore. I hope you’re all having a fantastic Sunday and I will write again soon. Bye!
“His whole appearance betokens of love: His head is bent to kiss you; His arms are extended to embrace you; His Heart is open to receive you. O superabundance of love, Jesus, the Son of God, dies upon the cross, that man may live and be delivered from everlasting death!”–St. Francis of Assisi.
Hello, everyone! I’ve been trying to think of a way to blog about the past few weeks. Nothing’s been wrong, but there’s been a lot going on. A funeral. A wedding. My first event as a photographer. A fitting for a bridesmaid dress. A lot of work and a lot of editing. Working on the first draft that is a few pages away from being done (I think.) But since I can’t seem to find the words to adequately express my thoughts on all of this, I thought I’d talk about St. Patrick instead, since it is, after all, his feast day.
A beautiful icon of St. Patrick. Photo courtesy of stpatswichita.org
St. Patrick is one of my favorite saints. You can read more about his life here since I do a terrible job of trying to sum up people’s lives in a few sentences. I think the quality I most admire in him, aside from his unyielding faith, is the fact that he was able to keep going despite the hardships. He grew closer to God after he’d been captured by the raiders, joyfully returned home after daring the perils of escape, and was brave enough to return to Ireland when asked in a dream. He was able to roll with the punches and keep trusting God and doing his work. Though we’ll never know what private struggles Patrick had, the fact that he was able to keep going and to keep spreading the faith is just amazing. The results of his ministry can still be seen in Ireland today and will be around for some years to come, God willing. Patrick’s persistence and zeal are incredibly inspiring, especially to someone like me, who has a tendency to struggle to keep being faithful when things get rough. And it has been a struggle, for quite some time now.
St. Patrick is someone I think everyone, whatever they believe, can be inspired by. I pray that this great saint blesses the world with his faithful persistence. I’ll be back soon. God bless you.
P.S. Below is one of my favorite songs from the wonderful Irish duo, Makem and Clancy.
P.S.S. I had another story come out last week. You can read it here. This one was my senior English thesis for college so I’m incredibly proud that it has found a literary home. Please read it and let me know what you think.
Hello,everyone! Today’s post is a quick one and is a break from the poetry party we’ve been having for a whole month now. I got an email in mid-October saying that a short story I wrote recently would be published and it came out today! You can click here to go read it and I’ll add it under my “Writing” tab. I’m ridiculously pleased.
Also, it’s the Feast of All Saints! Happy All Saints’ Day, everyone! Anywho, that’s all for me right now. Be expecting a post about my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month as well as more poetry coming soon. Have a beautiful day, everyone!
Hi there. A few days ago, I was flipping through the notebook I used for my poetry writing class back in my junior year of college. We were required to write for half an hour every day and while that was incredibly difficult while balancing four other classes and two jobs, it was wonderful. I was able to get out the feelings that were overwhelming me and I had a legitimate excuse to ignore homework and just create things for a while. So I decided to try this again only posting my poems where someone can read them this time around. I’m also doing this as an alternative to the upcoming National Novel Writing Month, which occurs in November. October is one of my favorite months of the year and I think it’ll be really cool to wrap myself up in poetry as the leaves turn colors and the nights grow darker. Feel free to take part and I hope you like what I post. Today’s poem is more of a prayer to one of my favorite saints, Saint Therese, who was known as the Little Flower. It’s her feast day today. Let the poetry begin!
Le petite fleur
You showed me the
secret garden door
and taught me that
the smallest thing means so much more.
Little Flower, take my hand.
Teach this rose to bloom
help me to see and reach the Son’s light
in the midst of this earthly gloom.
The Gospel for this week was the entirety of Luke 15, though the shortened form is Luke 15:1-10. There are three parables told this week: the good shepard, the woman and the lost coin, and the prodigal son. All of these parables emphasize God’s unending goodness and mercy, no matter how far we go astray or how many times we wander off the path he has set us on.
Instead of me explaining and analyzing these readings, I just want to leave you with a quote from last night’s homily. We had a visiting priest and he did a tremendous job of explaining these stories. Toward the end of his homily he said: “The joy of God is not the death of the sinner, it is the life of the sinner.”
You could think about that for years and still find fresh food for thought. That’s all for today, lovelies. Don’t be afraid to ask for mercy. He will welcome you home, no matter how long you’ve been away.
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. Credited to wikipedia.
My reflection last week went over so well, I decided to keep doing them. I might not do them every week in the future and I might try to do some of these during the week at times if I want to. Do let me know what you think!
Today’s readings played off of each other really well. The first reading (Dt. 30:10-14) shows Moses exhorting the people to heed God’s voice and follow his commands. He explains that God hasn’t placed his commandments in places so far away or so high that they cannot be reached. They are “already in your mouths and in your hearts” and we have only “to carry it out.” Similarly, Jesus relates the story of the Good Samaritan and, after the scholar of the law guesses correctly that the dying man’s neighbor is the one who treats him with mercy, Jesus says “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37).
The Bible is a mix of both the highly mystical and spiritual and the common and practical. Today we fully see that mix on display in all three readings, as the second reading (Col 1:15-20) tells about the mystery that is Jesus. To me, the readings boil down to that fact that while love of God and neighbor is mysterious and difficult, we just need to live it as much as we can, which involves setting aside our own agendas at times. But in carrying it out, we make ourselves, our neighbors, and our world a much better place.
Photo credited to: bibleodyssey.org