when disagreeing becomes a hate crime

The idea of opposing dangerous ideologies is not foreign to Americans,
but the idea of opposing an ideology that is also a religion is more problematic.
It has become increasingly problematic now that we live in an era in which merely
disagreeing with another’s opinions is tantamount to a hate crime.

William Kilpatrick
excerpt from LifeSite.com


(statue of homeless Jesus outside of Christ Cathedral Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Ideology versus religion.
Disagreement versus hate.

We seem to be having a very difficult time discerning between these 4 words.

Ideology:
a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture
b: a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture
c: the integrated assertions, theories, and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program

Religion:
a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Disagreement:
the state of being at variance

hate:
a: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury:
b: extreme dislike or disgust

I stumbled across the following article that I found most telling.
The title alone grabbed me and reeled me into reading further.
The Catholic Church Needs to Wake Up to Islam

The article focused on the hierarchy of the Chruch,
in particular the Catholic Chruch, and its inadequate response,
handling and understanding the difference between a religion versus that of an ideology.

With the religion and ideology in question being Islam.

A religion and ideology that has minced no words in its disdain for
those of the Judeo/ Christian world.

The problem is that church leaders seem not to understand that the two are indeed the same…
as in one in the same…a mindset along with a belief system.
Mr. Kilpatrick pointedly explains that the church fathers just don’t seem to “get that.”

Not only does the hierarchy of the Catholic Church struggle with the difference…
most of the Christian fold struggles.
They, they being you and I, struggle along with most of the secular west.

For you and I need to understand that a basic ingredient to our western DNA psyche is
the fact that we like to and want to “play nice”—it’s who we are.
We’re a kumbaya lot.

And that’s because we think and feel that that’s just how normal civilized human beings act…
People want to play nice right?

We want to and desperately try to give the benefit of the doubt to each and all—
along with that whole notion of ‘do unto others as you would want to be done unto you…
despite any religious inclination or not…that mindset is really at our core.

The problem is that various ideologies do not “play nice” nor do they care to play nice.
And we westerners just don’t get that.

And in our rush and zeal to always play nice, we’ve raced off half-cocked
decreeing that anyone who disagrees with an ideology…
well, they are guilty of being hateful…as in committing hate crimes.

So we’ve basically thrown the concept of disagreement out with the bath water and
hopscotched all the way over to hate.

Remeber when we use to acquiesce to those we couldn’t come to terms with by
saying “well, let’s just agree to disagree” …meaning that we realized that we were at
an impasse of thought on a topic or issue but we’d remain civil, cordial and even peaceful
by letting the disagreements pass without driving a wedge of contention—
each of us would keep our independent thoughts without fussing or bickering or
forcing our ways, thoughts, ideas upon the other.

It’s what civilized folks did.

Unfortunately, our society has morphed into something else entirely.
We no longer allow for disagreements but rather equate the word disagreement
with the word hate.

Two entirely different words with two entirely different meanings yet we’ve twisted them
together…melding the two into one.
Yet unlike Islam which is both a religion and ideology,
disagreement and hate are not one and the same.

And so sadly we are now seeing the various leaders of both the Christian and Jewish faiths
failing to understand the trouble in all of that thinking.

Yet what is most worrisome in all of this is that the Judaeo/ Christian faiths are
not offered or afforded the same gift of tolerance or global acceptance and the right
to disagree as, say, the ideology of Islam receives…
or even atheism for that matter…but that issue of thought
is for another day.

So now Christians and Jews are expected to bend to the wields of the very ideology
that actually seethes a deep hatred toward their very existence.

So it was with great interest that I read the following words and article by
William Kilpatrick in an article in Crisis Magazine.

Mr. Kilpatrick offers a warning that it would be wise that our religious leader stand firm
against ideologies…while explaining that to stand firm does not mean that we are to hate…
merely that we hold true to the tenants of our faiths…

By contrast, Church leaders and Pope Francis in particular, have become,
in effect, enablers of Islam.
Pope Francis has denied that Islam sanctions violence,
has drawn a moral equivalence between Islam and Catholicism
(“If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence”),
and has campaigned for the admittance of millions of Muslim migrants into Europe.
Moreover, he has criticized those who oppose his open borders policy as hard-hearted xenophobes.
In return for his efforts,
he has been publicly thanked by several Muslim leaders for his “defense of Islam.”

One might be tempted to use the word “collaborator” instead of “enabler.”
But collaborator is too strong a word. In its World War II context,
it implies a knowing consent to and cooperation with an evil enterprise.
It seems clear to me that the pope and others in the hierarchy are enabling the spread
of an evil ideology; however,
it’s not at all clear that they understand what they’re doing.
Francis, for instance, seems to sincerely believe that all religions are roughly equal in goodness.
Thus for him, the spread of any religion must seem like a good thing.
It’s an exceedingly naïve view, but one that seems honestly held.

But one can’t plead ignorance forever.
Eventually, the reality of the situation will become plain to all but the most obtuse.
At that point – at the point the threat is undeniable –
we assume that the people in power will wake up and take the appropriate actions.
But what if the awakening comes too late? The pope, for one,
has shown little evidence that he will change his views on the subject.
If anything, he has doubled down –
recently going so far as to say that the rights of migrants trump national security.
We should not look to the pope to lead the way on this issue.
He seems constitutionally incapable of entertaining doubts about his Islam policy.
It looks like the impetus to change course will have to come from bishops,
priests and Catholic laity.
They had better get busy.
There is no time to waste.

Published with permission from Crisis Magazine

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/the-catholic-church-needs-to-wake-up-about-islam

of gods and goddess…

“Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell?
Sleeping or waking, mad or well-advised?
Known unto these, and to myself disguised?
I’ll say as they say, and persever so,
And in this mist at all adventures go.”

― William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors


(statue of Thalia, 2nd century / The Vatican Museum / Rome, Italy)

Thalia, the Greek Goddess of comedy, was the 8th of 9 muses and was one of the
many daughters of the Greek God Zeus.
Most scholars credit Zeus with having 92 children…
so I’m not exactly certain as to where Thalia
rates on the favorite list but seeing that she was in charge of comedy and all things happy,
she was probably a favorite daddy’s girl…
but I digress.

And as the goddess of comedy and poetry, her very name, which translates to flourishing,
referenced that her gifts would flourish through the ages…

However today, I am actually wondering more about the Goddess Moron…

As in I just know that with all those gods and goddesses,
throughout all of the mythology we had to learn in school,
surely there was one named Moron…
Who, might I add, was responsible for stupidity…..
As in, moron being a word that translates to idiot, dunce, blockhead…
as in…
well, I’m sure everyone gets where’s this is all going.

Shakespeare first introduced us to the notion of a comedy of errors with his
play of the same name.
Yet over the years the ‘catch phrase’ came to mean something that was to be
“made amusing by bungling and incompetence.”

So when we say something is a comedy of errors, we mean it is a situation
that is one of idiocy, most likely caused by the Goddess Moron, or at least by a
dunce or idiot acting like a moron who has
demonstrated a certain level of incompetence or bungling…

So during my arduous ride home today on the burgeoning Atlanta interstate system,
the same interstate system that is now bursting at the seams due to the massive interstate closure
as a result of last week’s fire and road collapse,
I found myself pondering the notion of writing a book.

I think it will be entitled, My life, a comedy of errors
but that title may already be taken…
so….how about…
“Wait and let ME do that…so you can learn from my incompetence”
I’ll use the pen name Goddess Moron.
If Dana Elaine Owens can rename herself Queen Latifah, I, Julie Cook can rename myself
the Goddess Moron.

Makes perfect sense.

And why all this self deprecation you wonder….
Well, I’m so glad you asked…

Have you ever had to go to your town or city’s courthouse to get official paperwork?

A nightmare, I know…..

And if so, you may understand that such a visit is a matter of hoop jumping.

Due to the interstate closures and downtown now being impenetrable, you have to go
to the northern city’s annex.
A building built in the late 60’s that has never had an update or remodeling experience.

You arrive, along with thousands of others who had the same brilliant thought as yourself…
show up on a Thursday cause it seemed like a good idea…

You have to park in an overflow lot that is down by a dumpster and a sea of kudzu
and busted asphalt.
Winded after hiking up from the pawpaw patch,
you enter through a set of double glass doors covered with all sorts of warning signs.

A guard greets you…but….
no one smiles and babies are crying.
There is an odor.
Stale, smokey, bodyish…odors
There are guards and deputies staring you down as you fret that by the way you
are standing could just possibly land you in the pokey.
It’s that serious.

You stand in a long line just to get a ticket to stand in another line and
to be able to simply ask a question…
Asking a question of a person behind a bullet proof glass.
There is a small hole that you can speak through as well as listen through.
You tell her you’re here to probate your dad’s will.
“Oh you’re in the wrong place, you need to be upstairs”

Relieved to leave the sea of waiting humanity, you go outside and walk up the sidewalk
to the “top floor.”
Here another guard tells you to go to the last room down the hall on the right.
The sea of humanity waiting in the hallway is a key clue as to you being in the right spot.

Here is where people buy marriage licenses, gun carry permits as they gather
copies of officially filed identifying papers, probate wills, etc….

You sign in on the sheet sitting on the counter, in the cramped little office,
while the nonplused woman working the other side of the counter tells you to sign in,
go sit down somewhere and not to crowd the counter…
and oh, she’s locking the doors at 1:00 until 2PM for lunch…
You look down at your watch, it’s 12:20.

She processes two of the sea of waiting folks when the magic number 1:00 strikes.
She clears the office telling those waiting inside to go out in the hall and wait with
the others until 2:00.
She locks the door.

You have all your papers in a nice folder sitting on your lap.
You have the check ready for the $200 processing fee.
Your cousin had actually come to meet you and help out but after leaving the first office of
humanity, you thank him, telling him that he is free and needs to go back to work—
because only one from the family should remain in servitude to the system.
You now make nice conversations with your fellow waiters….or is that waitees?

The bell for 2:00PM sounds and the nonplused woman returns and unlocks the door.
She is alone today and mad.
Her supervisor failed to show up for work, leaving her alone to tend to the sea of humanity.
You think that maybe she should now be supervisor.

You hear a few folks fussing, as they walk past you into the adjacent courtroom,
complaining that “if 3 million people voted for her, why did we get him”….
It registers in your brain that you know what they’re talking about and you just
shake your head while you hear another voice screaming in your head that if the man
could just do his job maybe, just maybe,
this whole sea of waiting humanity might not have to wait so long
and that perhaps some of the idiotic bureaucracy could finally be dealt with…
finally allowing this bureaucratic nightmare,
that is morphing into the monster we have created into this thing we call government…
but that screaming voice in your head is now apologizing for digressing…

All of this while new folks file into the cramped office to sign the sheet…
with the nonplused woman behind the counter telling everyone she is closeing the
office at 4PM and everyone will have come back in the morning at 8:30.
A newcomer asks is she’ll pick up where she left off on the list the following day.
“No” she answers flatly, “it’s a new day”…

Finally the sweet little lady, who has been sitting by you this entire time,
has her name called.
She just needed a $10 copy of proof guardianship for her now 22 year old granddaughter
for a college scholarship—
never mind the college has three copies already on file–
she needed another new one…

As you continue waiting, you rather mindlessly and nonchalantly look down,
for the millionth time, at the letter from your lawyer sitting on your lap.
You have the packet she sent to present to the court,
you made certain you had the death certificates,
you had the check ready to be filled out…
you had proof of ID…
but wait….
the will…
where is the will?????

You feel your cheeks burning.
Your stomach flips over.
There is a pain now drilling deep into your temples.
You live an hour and a half away…
You’ve waited almost three hours….
You feel as if you’re having an outer body experience.
You are not allowed to ask any questions until your name is called.
Do you keep sitting, waiting, just to ask if you need the hard copy
of the will in order
to probate the will???

Seems like a no brainer.

You get up from your now well worn chair…
you silently leave your fellow waitees…
making your way back down to the dumpster, busted asphalt, kudzu and your car.

You feel hot tears rolling down your cheeks.
A nice man passes you on the sidewalk…
he sees your tears as he kindly and somewhat knowingly smiles.

When suddenly out of nowhere…
you hear a familiar shrill and overtly heavily ladened southern
laced voice opine…..
“Well fiddledeedee, tomorrow is another day”

Thankful for the wisdom from the southern goddess Scarlett…
you make your way back to the sea of cars on the interstate
ready to come back and do this all over again….another day….

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction;
whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap
a harvest if we do not give up.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,
especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Galatians 6:7-10

Just looking pretty or is there more to it?

A thousand will flee
at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
you will all flee away,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill.”

Isaiah 30:17

And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
Luke10:18

Principle-particularly moral principle-can never be a weathervane, spinning around this way and that with the shifting winds of expediency. Moral principle is a compass forever fixed and forever true-and that is as important in business as it is in the classroom.
Richard R. Lyman

DSCN0156
(a weathervane atop Christ’s Church Cathedral/ Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2105)

Perched high atop many a historical, religious and or official sort of building one can usually catch a glimpse of some sort of decorative adornment, standard or symbol.

DSCN1176
(topping at Adare Manor complete with lightning rod /County Limerick, Adare, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

It may be a flag, a statue, a cross, a weathervane, or mere spire.
Yet usually most buildings deemed of significance are most often capped off with a bit of a whimsical architectural finishing touch–the exclamation after the sentence, the topping to the cake…

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(St Mary’s Catholic Church / Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSCN0038
(Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook /2015)

DSCN1541
(Ashford Castle, Cong, County Galway / Mayo border / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

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( St Coleman’s Cathedral, Cobh, County Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook /2015)

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( St Coleman’s Cathedral, Cobh, County Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook /2015)

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(Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

These architectural adornments, which are mainly decorative, might be used as some sort of message bearer, as in a desire to draw the attention of the masses below upward, or on the other hand they may be used to send a somewhat cheeky ominous warning to the underlings below.

Yet some are theses engineered toppers serve a dual purpose–having a more practical service and need…as in the case of redirecting lightening…

Lightning_striking_the_Eiffel_Tower_-_NOAA_edit
(1906 image of lightning striking the Eiffel Tower, courtesy the web)

Throughout the history of architecture, these often ornate ornamental pinnacles of man’s devising are used as either beacons with which to proclaim, sentinels to warn or welcome…devices to denote direction or a means to redirect and defend.

It seems as if it’s more than a matter of simply looking pretty as there is purpose hidden in the beauty…

Beacon
Proclaim
Guiding force
Warning
Directional
Defender

What of you….
Are you one who points the way?
Are you one who defends and protects?
Are you one who offers warning?
Are you one who offers directions?
Are you one who declares and proclaims?

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(Holy Trinity Abbey, Adare, County Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth
Romans 1:16

history of responsibility

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
George Washington

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Statue of George Washington and small friend / Boston Public Gardens / Julie Cook / 2014

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of Liberty is as follows:
1 : the quality or state of being free:
a : the power to do as one pleases
b : freedom from physical restraint
c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
e : the power of choice

Dictionary.com defines Tyranny as:
1. arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.
Synonyms: despotism, absolutism, dictatorship.
2. the government or rule of a tyrant or absolute ruler.
3. a state ruled by a tyrant or absolute ruler.
4. oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.
5. undue severity or harshness.
6. a cruel or harsh act or proceeding; an arbitrary, oppressive, or tyrannical action.

Our founding fathers believed, with all their hearts, that it was necessary to fight with sword and blood for the establishment of a Nation grounded and anchored by a state of existence known as Liberty.
The sacrifice was great.
Many lives were to be lost.
Days turned to weeks as weeks turned into years.
Hardships, suffering, hunger became common place.
Misery was rife.
But the will and perseverance of this group of men, prepped to birth a Nation, was rooted in the knowledge of what life under Liberty could and would mean.

These guiding Fathers next fought and wrestled with the grievous weight of words and what those words were to look like when lived by the citizens of a free Nation–a Nation free of Tyranny and oppressive rule by a king or despot.

It was a time of deep soul searching, heated debates and arguments, flaring tempers–but in the end, they all possessed the same desired result—that being for the people of the united colonies to live as one Nation under the blanket of shared Liberty.

Have we, all these many years later, forgotten the sacrifices made?
Are we so smug that such ideals now seem trite and of ancient history?
Have we grown, as Benjamin Franklin would admonish, fat and lazy, drunk with complacency?
Are we so apathetic that we are no longer concerned with the safeguards which must be honed and fine tuned in order to continue growing in the original direction set forth?

Do we argue with the rhetoric of “that was then, this is now—- things have changed, all of that which was, is no longer relevant to our modern technological savvy ways?”
Have we lulled ourselves into such a state that we don’t want to rock the proverbial boat—we’ll just let the Government take care of us–isn’t that what everyone really wants, a Government which acts more like a benevolent parent rather than a Government which needs and requires it’s people to work to maintain its very functions.

Woe be unto those who’s watchman is caught sleeping, the enemy will take advantage of the unguarded post. It is the responsibility of the Nation’s people who must work to maintain that which was fought and fraught with angst, blood and lives. The question begs, what is the responsibility of you and I to those who birthed this Nation as well as to the Nation itself which was birthed so long ago?

When one is given a fine gift, if that gift is not cared for, polished, cleaned, tended to with regular maintenance but rather is left to simply run itself and “do it’s thing”, unguarded, unobserved, unattended, allowed to morph and grow into something else, then the original gift is simply no longer. . .

May we remember we must care for and maintain this most humble yet fragile gift.

The Contradiction of a Conundrum

“Only the man who follows the command of Jesus single-mindedly, and unresistingly lets his yoke rest upon him, finds his burden easy, and under its gentle pressure receives the power to persevere in the right way. The command of Jesus is hard, unutterably hard, for those who try to resist it. But for those who willingly submit, the yoke is easy, and the burden is light.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(pinnacle of the Gordon memorial, Wright Square / Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

None of us will leave this world unscathed or scarless.
Even the most decent among us will know the pain and heaviness of life’s burdens.
Some of us seem to have more than our fair share of woefulness–
leading us all to realize that Life is indeed unfair.

And yet we live in a world full of the contradiction of a conundrum . . .

“Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:m27-30)

We are told that we who are weary and worn out by the heaviness of our lives, may lay our burdens down, that we may finally find rest. . .
And yet on the flip side. . .
We are told that we must take up our cross, a heavy seemingly burdensome cross–knowing that to do so equates to death.

The conundrum.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
(Matthew 16:24-26)

Yet as ironically and obviously straightforward as it truly is, as Pastor Bonhoeffer explains, this contradiction, this conundrum of our lives, is perhaps as simply simple as our totally yielding with effortless submission verses the hard headed stubborn resistance of self that we so tirelessly cling to.

It is as easy as exhaling. Completely letting go of our stubborn self and of all that entails.
It is in that blessed exhaling where the rest is waiting.

Once again, as with much of life, it’s merely a matter of choice. . .
But what a choice it is.

weighing one’s options

“Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them.”
Immanuel Kant

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(The statue of the bird girl, which use to reside in Bonaventure Cemetery but was moved following the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, for safety reasons, to the Telfair Museum –Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

When all the world seems to scurry off, heading in one direction as lemmings racing to the sea. . .
When everyone around you points skyward, just as henny penny, waiting for the sky to fall. . .
When all around you moan and groan, just as Eeore would lament, “oh no, we’ll never make it” . . .
When false prophets clamor that the end is near. . .
Take heart.

Choices made.
Decisions to follow are easy.
Decisions to stay behind are hard.
A crowd races down the street,
Shouting, yelling as everyone pushes and shoves.

Turn around.
Stop where you are.
Is this who you really are?

You must weigh who you are,
who you wish to be.
Does is matter who they see you to be
or does it matter who you see?

A scale tips and the balance is broken.
A time will come when it does matter.
A choice will have to be made and the question will be,
which do you choose?

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.

(Isaiah 40:3)

Candlelight Carol

“I shall light a candle of understanding in thine heart, which shall not be put out”
The Apocrypha II Esdras 14:25

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(sunset out of Julie’s back door / 2013)

Years ago, 1987 to be exact, I bought a little CD, (yes they had them back them), that I have actually worn out. I had to buy a new copy last year. I think I just saw it in a music store, intrigued by the cover, I wanted to give it a try. If you’ve been a reader of this little blog of mine, you most likely know how much I love Illuminated Manuscripts and the art of Medieval Europe as well as the Renaissance. The cover jacket of the CD is a reproduction of the Adoration of the Magi taken from the Book of Hours by Boucicaut which was the initial draw for me to reach for this soon to be tiny treasure in my world.

The CD is entitled the Christmas Night – Carols of the Nativity / The Cambridge Singers / The City of London Sinfonia / conducted by John Rutter. The theme of this album is centered around the birth of Christ. The words and music of the 22 carols span more than six centuries. The music is pure joy to my heart. It echoes of a different time, harkening to a time of innocence that is both ancient and magical—despite a few of the songs more current inception, all maintain the style which is based on Gregorian chants, early French organum and courtly music of long ago.

The voices of those singing is what I think of when I think of the adoration offered by the cherubim and seraphim—tender, otherworldly, reverent, and of a holiness that goes beyond comprehension.
The lyrics of many of these songs, when read, then heard, are so painfully profound and yet tenderly sweet.

When I was in college, studying Italian Renaissance Art History, I was always deeply moved when studying Bernini’s statue of the Ecstasy of St Teresa (Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome). I’ve written about this statue before. St Teresa had written very vividly about the visions she had received from God:
Beside me, on the left, appeared an angel in bodily form…. He was not tall but short, and very beautiful; and his face was so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest rank of angels, who seem to be all on fire…. In his hands I saw a great golden spear, and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails. When he pulled it out I felt that he took them with it, and left me utterly consumed by the great love of God. The pain was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness caused by this intense pain is so extreme that one cannot possibly wish it to cease, nor is one’s soul content with anything but God. This is not a physical but a spiritual pain, though the body has some share in it—even a considerable share.

bernini_st_teresa_avila

Teresa’s mystical words were beautifully and vividly captured by Bernini in such a powerfully visual, as well as visceral sculptural marvel. Bernini’s massive work appears lighter than air as Teresa appears to almost levitate, as the Angel gently takes hold of her cloak. Bernini captures the very moment the angel pierces Teresa’s heart. To gaze upon the statue is to be afforded a glimpse of something beyond words. The pain and yet utter and complete ecstasy captured in the expression of Teresa’s face is both consuming as well as tremendously immense, as we, the viewer, feel as if we are witnessing something that perhaps we should not be privy to as it is almost too private, too intimate and entirely too personal.

The music of this CD is, to me, similar to witnessing the consuming flame of Teresa’s heart. Something that goes almost beyond me and of my mere earthly comprehension. There are several songs, hymns, arrangements on the CD that pull at my heart, transporting me to somewhere else. One of the many tracts of the CD that I find to be so moving is tract 10, the Candlelight Carol. To read the words is moving yes, but coupled by the musical arrangement and heavenly voices—it is simply beautifully overwhelming:
Candlelight carol
This was written in response to a commission
from the Church of the Assumption,
Pittsburgh, in 1984. Originally for the organ, the
accompaniment was later scored by the
composer for flute, oboe, harp and strings,
in which version it is performed here.

How do you capture the wind on the
water?
How do you count all the stars in the sky?
How can you measure the love of a
mother,
Or how can you write down a baby’s first
cry?

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and starglow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn.
Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo!
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born.

Shepherds and wise men will kneel and
adore him,
Seraphim round him their vigil will keep;
Nations proclaim him their Lord and their
Saviour,
But Mary will hold him and sing him to sleep.

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and starglow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn.
Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo!
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born.

Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger:
Christ our Redeemer asleep in the hay.
Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation:
A child with his mother that first Christmas
Day.

Words and music: John Rutter

The words are tender and sweet as they depict the intimate connection between new born and mother–and yet we, the listener, already know that there is a weight of an unseen heavy burden which lies upon this tiny little figure held gently by a loving mother. Mary, no doubt, pushes deep down and away those words proclaimed to her by the Angel who had visited her 9 months prior–“that she would give birth to a son who she is to name Yeshua (Jesus) who will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” Troubling words for any young mother.

How could such a burden ever be for this tiny and most vulnerable new being who Mary now holds so close to her breast? How does one measure the love of a mother, how can one write down a baby’s first cry? How can words ever describe such? Mary must think that perhaps, if she holds him close enough and tight enough, she can always protect him, shielding him from this “proclamation.” How Mary’s heart must have been so conflicted on that particular night so long ago which witnessed a World forever changed.

To think of Mary as any new young mother who meets the small “burden” she has carried, loved, nurtured in utero, and now delivered for the first time, is something I think we often don’t consider in realistic terms. Imagine having the knowledge that your child, your very first newborn, has something about him that is not like other babies. Those who have given birth to children with special physical needs do understand this weight of worry. The joy of meeting someone you have loved and nurtured yet never met for the past nine months, knowing that the life ahead is to marked with hardship and difficulty can be overwhelming– and yet, the very first moment of meeting and of holding overshadows that worry and dread. It is pushed aside momentarily as you cradle, holding and loving, something so terribly sweet that the moment is almost too painful to your heart. Overflowing with a deluge of emotion.

It is such thoughts and emotions, as well as others, that the music of this CD helps to bring to a level of conciseness that, I personally, do not often have when I think of the holy little family so very long ago. I tend to put them—Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus, on a level other than my own–that somehow the burden of carrying and delivering a child for Mary, was not as it is for us today. But the truth of the matter is that is was much more difficult for Mary. It’s just that I don’t think we often think about Mary in those terms. The words from this tract help me to ponder more of the reality verses the often perceived fairy tale of that life changing event.

May you, during this time of Advent, find through song or visual image, a connection that perhaps you never realized before, to that magical and yet life changing night so very long ago. May you ponder the mysteries that a young family were burdened by which, down through the ages, have come to touch both you and I. Mystery, wonder, and awe. . .lay ahead for all of us as we are all connected to that first moment when Mary held her tiny new born son in her arms. We are all present, then and now.
This is your true Christmas gift.