{    Cnytr   }

{Wednesday, May 17, 2006  }

.:{Random: Love's Inquiry}:.

Anima: Tell me, you whom my heart loves, quia fecisti nos ad te, where you pasture your flock, where your own self is hidden, where Truth lives, and where you give them rest at midday (et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te), lest I be found wandering, in error, after the flocks of your companions.
Dominus: If you do not know, O most beautiful among women, my bride whom I have purified, follow the tracks of the flock, my Image in my Art, and pasture the young ones near the shepherds' camps.
posted by Lauren, 12:05 AM | link | 3 comments

{Tuesday, May 16, 2006  }

.:{Poetry and the Nature of Love}:.

Christ and his Bride the Church

Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on our arm;
For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.
Deep water cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away.

~Song of Songs 8:6-7

Apologies in advance for the shortness and disconnectedness of this blurb... not one of my usual thought-out ... thoughts ...

At first glance, it's quite easy to toss out the anthropomorphic nature of many poems that personify Death, Silence, Joy or Love. The author, of course, simply illustrates the quality of each particular abstract idea by making them human, thereby calling attention more vividly to whatever particular aspect he seeks to highlight. Too often this is simply written off as a poetic device. But we as Catholics know that these ideas come from somewhere, and that we know them simply imperfectly. Only by imagining these ideals perfectly -- in our minds, as persons -- can we know them truly and thereby perfectly. But such things, such virtues especially, in their highest form are a person -- they are God. In fact Scripture, 1 John 4:16 ("God is Love"), makes this quite clear.

Obviously there are qualifications here (such that this applies to virtues and virtues properly understood, not just any ol' abstract concept). But I don't feel like making them. Bear with my laziness for the moment.

Hence, St. Thomas Aquinas describes this as the way that we know God -- i.e. that we see certain qualities and perfection in the world and through creatures, and we extrapolate that these perfections exist perfectly, so perfectly, I add (I don't think Aquinas specifically makes this point) that they are a person -- much like how the Love between the Father and the Son is so perfect that is the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

It is only in such poetry and perhaps highly allegorical prose that this can be fully captured.

I once ventured out on a limb in highschool, suggesting perhaps such a reading into Shakespeare's sonnet 116, the last quatrain specifically.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters where it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! It is an ever-fixéd mark
That looks on tempests and is not shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his heighth be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Certainly the poem gives the idea of love as unconditional, spiritual, unalterable, transcendent, unknowable, immutable, eternal, and ever-present: in short, true Love is absolutely perfect and thus, Divine.

I think it is important to note the idea of the marriage of two minds, the mind being a clearly incorporeal matter. The incorporeal cannot be corrupted and therefore cannot be destroyed and is eternal. The marriange of minds, the incorporeality of Love is not of this world. In fact, Love is so incorporeal and perfect, it stands above and outside the lovers as transcendant as the star to which the wandering soul looks for guidance lest it become lost in the vastness of the sea.

Indeed, Love will not even be ruled by Time, the corrupter of the body and of the youth so celebrated in the false and hollow Ovidian reflections of love seen in the 19th century Romantic poets and any false understanding of love being simply for youths in their hot-bloodedness, confusing Love with "lust" and "passion" which pass in a moment and with the youth. Love, however, will bear out even to Judgment day, "even to the edge of doom", the descent into Hell.

It is not only Shakespeare who says such things. Poets in every age have spoken of Love in this way, and in many others. And as Charles Williams' Anthony Durrant says, unless these things are true, all men speaking of this topic are but "lunatics scribbling in an asylum." Although such theological ideas suggested may seem like over-interpretation, for a great poet such as Shakespeare, these ideas were certainly not wholly alien to him and therefore, while possibly not explicitly part of his authorial intent, were not entirely out of the range of interpretation.

Even the non-Christian poets understand something of this nature. For example, and really the excuse for this post, is this gorgeous poem I have recently found by the Lebanese-Chinese poet Khalil Gibran --

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Indeed. Such ideas are reflected in the Psalms, in the Song of Solomon, and in the Epistles.

I shall end with Charles Williams' words on the personification of Love and Romantic Theology as found in his Outlines of Romantic Theology --

The principles of Romantic Theology can be reduced to a single formula: which is, the identification of love with Jesus Christ, and of marriage with His life. This again may be reduced to a single word – Immanuel. Everything else is modification and illustration of this. Romantic Theology, like the rest, is therefore first of all a Christology.

But certain explanations of this principle may very well be made here, explanations necessitated by Christian dogma. Thus, the identification of love with Jesus Christ is an identification with Him as God as well as Man, but not with absolute Deity. As Christ himself prayed to the Father and is himself included in the entire Trinity, so romantic love does not exalt itself, even at its most mystical, beyond an assumption into Deity. The Pater Noster remains, though with certain applications, a prayer to a greater than it.

Again, this identification does not in any sense set up to be the only identification possible of human love with Christ. As Christ is less than the whole Trinity, so romantic love is less than Christ. It is assumed into Him with the rest of manhood, though in a particular and more obviously symbolical manner. The love of friends, the love of nature, the love of places, are no doubt also one with Him, but they are not our present purpose.

Lastly, this identification – the caution is perhaps unnecessary? – is in no sense brought about by man, any more than the Mass is the result of our efforts. Every Mass was said once on Calvary, and we do not so much repeat as are in the Mass absorbed into that eternal offering. So each marriage was lived in His life, though – in terms of time – it waits its due time in the order of the universe to become manifest. Whether they are conscious of it or not, no pair of true lovers are in their history more than this accorded manifestation. Their business is not to be, but to know that they are, His symbols, and that their marriage is His life.

For, subject to the theologians, it may be urged that all the deeds and saying of Christ are eternal as well as temporal; and that therefore they are universal in their application. Each of them is absorbed into His eternity and thence given out again, with exact application, to every instant of created life. To take an example, each of Christ’s denunciations of the priesthood is applicable not only to all priesthood but to that principle in each of us by which we become, each in our place, priests of the Divine Perfection. This and all the applications are not always obvious, but they are assuredly there, and He applies them as they become essential. It is His manifestation of Himself in marriage which is the subject of Romantic Theology.

posted by Lauren, 10:58 PM | link | 0 comments

{Monday, May 15, 2006  }

.:{Prayer requests}:.


When you read this, please say a quick prayer to St. Jude for three particular prayer intentions -- one for a friend of mine, and two for me. One of my intentions is a (miserable) ongoing problem with seemingly little hope of being resolved, and another is a biggish problem that needs a resolution ASAP. St. Jude has never let me down before (I'm an impossible case myself), and it's come down to the panic-button in all three cases.

I've had one particular prayer card with the following prayer to St. Jude since I was 8 years old --

Most holy apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, of things almost despaired of. Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone. Make use, I implore you, of that particular privilege given to you, to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -- (Here make your request) and that I may praise God with you and all the elect forever. I psomise, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you. Amen.

...You can promise the particular patron thing on my account. He's a patron of mine, and a good buddy.

Monday is the coming-down-to-the-wire day. Again prayers are greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Update Holy cow. The power of prayer is freakishly strong. Events have conspired today that, against all logical circumstances, things have been falling into place such that all of the three prayer requests are well on the way to being happily (for everybody) resolved(!). But please keep praying, because there are still a few definitely-in-God's-hands x-factors that need to play out. Thank you everybody!
posted by Lauren, 1:05 AM | link | 3 comments

.:{Feminists for Life}:.

As I was driving home this evening, I was, as usual, madly flipping radio stations for something to listen to. As I stopped to change lanes, I realized, once my attention was free again, that this particular station was speaking out for the pro-life cause, and was furthermore putting forth some very good arguments.

It is rather unfortunate that many who speak out for the pro-life cause either use the same, tired and often unconvincing arguments (the art of rhetoric is often overlooked simply for the sake of the verity of the premises; in issues requiring action, the truth is almost worthless if one cannot persuade others to adopt it), or else shock-tactics that do not win friends and influence people of either side. However, I believe that Feminists for Life speak a language that all can understand and agree with, even using the vocabulary of what is sometimes seen as the opposition. For example, the mission statement reads:

If you believe in the strength of women and the potential of every human life,

If you refuse to choose between women and children,

If you believe no woman should be forced to choose between persuing her education and career plans and sacrificing her child,

If you reject violence and exploitation,

Join us in challenging the status quo.

Because women deserve better choices.

Welcome to Feminists for Life.

There is a better way.

Feminists for Life of America recognizes that abortion is a relfection that our society has failed to meet the needs of women. We are dedicated to systematically eliminating the root causes that drive women to abortion -- primarily lack of practical resources and support -- through holistic, woman-centered solutions. Women deserve better than abortion.

Established in 1972, Feminists for Life of America is a nonsectarian, nonpartisan, grassroots organization that seeks real solutions to the challenges women face. Our efforts are shaped by the core values of justice, nondiscrimination, and nonviolence. Feminists for Life of America continues the tradition of early American feminists such as Susan B. Anthony, who opposed abortion.

The rhetoric, as one may imagine, is not exactly what I (or most people I know) would use. But I think it is effective on a level that many other anti-abortion arguments are not -- namely, in addressing the often me-centeredness of women/"feminists" (read: feminazis; Feminists for Life has, I think, a better approach to true feminism), and the confusedness of the often-misinformed women seeking abortions.

In short, it would be difficult to persuade one who does not believe that he has a soul of the intrinsic evil of abortion -- any moral or "value judgment" tends to slide off the backs of said persons. Yet given the "nonpartisan" and "nonsectarian" natre of Feminists for Life, they are able to break down barriers. Furthermore, so many libs eat up the ideas of "justice, nondiscrimination and nonviolence" -- these issues apply, rightly and properly, to the abortion issue. Bravo to FFL for recognizing that.

The particular interview to which I was listening ought to be up on the archives of whatever site fairly soon. I'll post that as soon as it becomes available.
posted by Lauren, 12:40 AM | link | 0 comments

{Friday, May 05, 2006  }

.:{Follow Up to the Previous Post, or, How Not To Study For A Medieval Philosophy Final Tomorrow}:.

...even if it does involve Socrates and philosophy ...

Please say a prayer for me, bloggians! The last final is tomorrow morning at 8am. I feel horrible. [G]
posted by Lauren, 12:24 AM | link | 4 comments

.:{Run, don't walk...}:.

Over to the Roamin' Roman to see her pictures and hear her stories of her visit to S. Sabina and the cell of St. Pope Pius V!

Also a tour of the Vatican gardens. One of my first memories of Rome in 2001. Ahh.
posted by Lauren, 12:12 AM | link | 1 comments

{Thursday, May 04, 2006  }

.:{1,001 things to do instead of study for a philosophy final}:.

I don't know what the class of '07 has with Mario Brothers. I can remember my sister getting the first ever Nintendo when it came out. I was allowed to play it occasionally, though I never, ever had my own nintendo anything myself.

Either way, everybody I know is entirely obsessed with Old Skool Nintendo stuff, or at least has a particular soft spot for it. Of course, I also hang out with a lot of geeks ...

Whatever your feelings on Mario Brothers, this is pretty cool either way.

Doot doot doot, doo doot doo doo, doo-doo-doo-doo doot, doo doo doo ....
posted by Lauren, 12:45 PM | link | 3 comments

.:{Liturgy Pics On Demand}:.


Here are more pictures, and some video, from the Maundy Thursday FSSP mass in S. Trinita dei Monti:

The reading from the Evangelist.
The subdeacon dons the humeral veil.
Priest, deacon and subdeacon.
Giant corporal?
VIDEO - The polyphonic choir at communion. Lovely. However I have no idea what photobucket has done with the format, and am too brain-dead at the moment to think about it. If everyone hates it and no one can access it, I'll consider fiddling around with it later.
This image mostly for the whole altar.
The priest with his own humeral veil.
Before the covered Eucharist for repose.
Ready for the procession.
Note the umbrollino.
The gifts being given.
The procession really really readies.
The procession begins.
VIDEO - The Pange Lingua. Apologies for my bad singing. I stopped a) because I was paying attention to my camera and b) because I realized that, in the event of my posting this, everybody in the whole durn world would hear me. :P
Towards the altar of repose.
The deacon receives the Eucharist.
The deacon reposes the Eucharist.
The altar of repose with the covered Eucharist.
posted by Lauren, 12:17 AM | link | 6 comments

{Tuesday, May 02, 2006  }

.:{More of That to Which Lorenza Has Been Up}:.

My last two papers for the class whose final I've just taken have been great fun to write, believe it or not. I still find formal paper-writing to be extremely painful and never fully satisfying -- the freedom of making a fool of myself on my blog is, strangely, much more reassuring -- yet the subject matter was both interesting and entertaining.

Lest I come off as totally shallow and vapid, I suppose I had better post one of these papers to show that the only thing on my mind has not been ballroom dancing.

Apologies for some of the prose and for the Grail translation of the Psalm (actually ... I rescind the latter apology) -- here is the latest paper which, thank heavens, was only supposed to be five pages double-spaced. I could have written for ages and ages upon both of these, but during finals week, I simply don't have the time.

I could have written for ages because Raphael's Alba Madonna is one of the few works of art with which I have ever fallen madly and passionately in love. The others are statues of Bernini's in the Villa Borghese in Rome. But I'm very glad this particular Raphael is in the possession of the United States (thank you, Andrew Carnegie and gullible Russians) so the pilgrimage to visit it and be astounded is only a few metro stops and a street-crossing.


In the National Gallery of Art stand two paintings, completed nearly a century apart from each other and quite different in terms of techniques, they nevertheless share a fundamental outlook expressed through their subject matter, the Incarnation. In Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi’s The Adoration of the Magi, the opulence of Florence and indeed the world are presented to the holy family, and in this way instruct the viewer as to the kingly and redemptive role to be played by the Christ child. Yet Raphael’s Alba Madonna portrays the Incarnation in a much more subtle way by showing the perfection of mankind in the Christ child and the regality of the humble Madonna. Viewing them together, one might, because of the differences in visual style, deny any connection between the two. Yet a compositional and ideological examination of both will yield similar conclusions reached by different means in each painting.

The Adoration of the Magi is a Florentine work of art from the middle of the 15th century. Begun by Fra Angelico, the well-known Dominican painter of San Marco, it was ultimately completed by Fra Filippo Lippi, who shared similar techniques and composition with his predecessor, but later incorporated more naturalism in his overall work. One thing certainly shared by these two painters were their patrons, the famous Medici family, whose influence was not absent from their paintings. The Adoration of the Magi reflects the wealth of Angelico and Lippi’s famous patrons, using it to the advantage of the theological point made by the picture.

At first glance at the painting, the viewer’s eye swirls around the storm of indigo, rose, red and orange of the people who come to adore the Christ child from all sides and especially from the far distant reaches of the picture. The exact center of the picture is, in fact, the stable whence came the Christ child and not the Christ child himself – he seems to be deliberately removed from the simple hiding place to occupy another place where he can be seen by all.

The homage paid to Christ is not simply that of the gold, frankincense and myrrh given by exactly three men from the orient. Rather, Fra Angelico and Fra Lippi have interpreted the adoration of the Magi to be the adoration of the entire world from every place and from every age – the first to kiss the delicate foot of the Christ child is a biblical king clad in royal purple, humbly bowing before the baby, but behind him is another regent, bearing facial resemblances to Fra Angelico’s angels in other paintings. He is, in fact, the only other character aside from the holy family to bear a halo or aura, and he carries the most costly gifts of gold. Near to the angelic figure is a figure in Florentine dress with a servant holding the hem of her dress off the ground. Farther back in the picture other characters clearly represent all continents – a Moor and an Arab stand just in front of a man from the Orient on a black horse and with a pointed hat, and in front of the man from the Orient is another, clearly European figure – going, at least, by his headgear. Behind the stable, a number of half-clad figures view the events; these figures might be figures of the dead, referencing Psalm 88(87): “Will you work your wonders for the dead? Will the shades stand and praise you?”

Men and women from every race and tongue, people and nation – shown even by the servants toiling in the stable – come to adore the humble Christ child, shown with his parents to have his eyes turned meekly downwards while the riches of the world are laid at his feet. On the roof of the stable, however, the pheasant lies dead while the deeply-colored and kingly peacock, the symbol of resurrection and eternal life, prefigures the triumph of anastasis over the limitations of death and the flesh, so colorfully demonstrated throughout the painting.

The Adoration of the Magi portrays the Incarnation as a very real physical, fleshly yet simultaneously supernatural reality, touching all corners of the world. In comparison, Raphael’s Alba Madonna, sometimes called simply “The Madonna of Humility”, displays the same sort of intimate mingling with the flesh, yet in a different and less ostentatious manner.

The three figures are composed and centered almost like a piece of statuary, with each figure connected to the
other. In the center is the strong figure of Mary, dressed in biblical robes, a turban, and antique-looking sandals, perhaps as being a reference to the New Eve, and as a “baptism” of pagan ages, once seen as ideal yet unredeemed until now. However instead of taking a queenly seat upon a marble throne, she leans against a stump. Her head, like in The Adoration of the Magi, is likewise bent humbly downward, with her gaze seemingly partially on the children and partially unfocused, perhaps contemplating the scriptures held in her lap with her finger to mark her place.

The figure of the Christ child is a particularly interesting one in this painting. Half-seated half-standing upon his mother’s lap as a two-year-old child is not usually able to do in a stable fashion, his body is extremely striking and beautiful. Raphael employs every ounce of anatomical knowledge gained through the Renaissance to depict the perfection of man, the second Adam, in the figure of the Christ child. With a simple, serene determination, he reaches out and accepts the thin, seemingly spindle-like and harmless cross. Yet the wisdom and determination of the child’s gaze suggests he is not unfamiliar with the tribulations it entails.
The figure of John the Baptist as a child completes the tri-figure scene. In contrast to the leftward-gazing Madonna and child, John gazes up at the two in childlike admiration, but not without a touch of melancholy. His expression seems to be that of a small boy about to cry over something genuinely tragic. Grasping the bottom of the cross in a seeming act of homage and in reference to the traditional depiction of John the Baptist as holding the cross-herald with the “Ecce Agnus Dei” banner, John’s figure stands outside of, or perhaps on the very edge of, the central triangular shape created by the virgin’s head and elbow, completed either with the torso of the Christ child, or else with John’s face.

The simple family scene is an idealized and hidden one: far from being in spotlight of the entire world, this domestic scene occurs first within the hidden confines of a regal yet humble family in the midst of the wilderness. The Incarnation’s glory and kingliness extends to all humanity but comes not with a royal herald but in the whisper of simple family life. Yet at the same time, although profoundly humble, the “Madonna of Humility” is unable to disguise her queenly role – her centrality and strong presence in the painting, combined with the draperies of soft rose and azure command the viewer’s attention almost at once.
The contrast between The Adoration of the Magi and the Alba Madonna is almost too easy to draw – the complexity and busy-ness of the Adoration image almost clashes with the majestic serenity and simplicity of Raphael’s painting. For Fra Angelico and Fra Lippi, it is the homage of the world to a hidden mystery, the exaltation of the humble, that the Incarnation primarily lies. But for Raphael, the mystery is redemptive and wise, coming to the whole world and every age quietly, through the humility of a simple family, but a family embodying the redemption of mankind. From a simple family scene in the wilderness to the pouring forth of nations, the Florentine painters make known the majesty of the Incarnation to all nations.


Arrrghhh ... stupid undergraduate paper ... ignore the badness of everything, please....
posted by Lauren, 11:39 PM | link | 1 comments

{Monday, May 01, 2006  }

.:{Where La Lorenza Has Been}:.

Apologies, bloggians, a slew of papers has made me slightly averse to blogging as of late. Combined with globetrotting and finals (this week is finals week, and I have one more latin composition assignment and one more paper to hand in), the blog has, as you have noticed, fallen by the wayside.

However, I do have some interesting things from Rome to blog which, as soon as I get a friend's pictures (he had a better camera than I), shall be blogged with ASAPity.

What you are looking at above is the FSSP Maundy Thursday liturgy from S. Trinita dei Monti in Rome, the famed church atop the Spanish Steps (which is, at the moment, tragically covered in scaffolding).

I like this particular image because of the way the priest, deacon and subdeacon are lined up. You may notice that the subdeacon is wearing a humeral veil. I am informed that this is because of an ancient Roman custom wherein fragments of the Pope's host were distributed to the churches in the city. The subdeacon, then, waits at the foot of the altar with the paten to take these fragments.

Obviously as time passed and the Roman rite spread throughout the West this role of the subdeacon became obsolete, yet for some reason still preserved within the liturgy.

(And now, for something completely different. Ballroom dancing has been going well: in the latest competition, I brought home six ribbons -- 7th place in International Foxtrot, 6th place in International Waltz/Quickstep, 5th place in American Waltz/Tango/Foxtrot, Waltz/Foxtrot, Tango, and 2nd place in the dance made famous by "Strictly Ballroom", the Paso Doble.)

Keep on tranglin',

Strong Bad. I mean, Cnytr.
posted by Lauren, 12:51 PM | link | 6 comments