Monthly Archives: October 2017

Catholic fiction

‘The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep’ John 10:11

The riverside dock road stirred with mysterious life. The doorsteps swarmed, the people thronged the streets, silent, grey flocks moving in one direction like birds migrating. Silence accentuated the sense of exaltation, silence and the eagerness that sharpened the lifted white faces.

Timothy Green step down from the crude red buss into a supernatural world. He had not expected anything like this. He could not make out what had happened, or what was happening. It was not a royal visit, for there was no chatter, no flutter of paper streamers, no bunting. It was not the return of a charabanc party, for there were no groups at street corners, no waiting, no gossip. These people moved together, as people impelled by one purpose. They were one.

It could be no common event, but something new and unearthly that possessed them and united them in the integrity of a secret and solemn joy.

Timothy began to move along with the crowd, watching the faces, looking for one less concentrated, less intense than the others, whom he might question without feeling himself an intruder. He found himself beside a young man wearing no shirt under his buttoned coat; the shape of his spine and his shoulders showed through it. Timothy touched his arm, “What is it all about?” he asked.

The young man swung round to him as if he were startled. He answered in a husky, rushing whisper: “Don’t you know? Father Malone is dead.”

Timothy made no answer. He could not understand why their priest’s death move these people to exaltation.

The harsh, rushing voice went on: “I’m not Catholic myself, I’m nothing, but it didn’t make any difference to Father Malone. He’d have given the shirt off his back to the devil himself if he’d have thought he could be cold in hell. He gave me his boots.”

“Gave you his boots?”

“Yes, that’s what he did, happened this way: we were under this very arch that we are under now, it was raining cats and dogs and we were taking shelter. I remember my boots were stiffed with mud and with blood too—”

“With Blood?”

“Yes, you see on I’d been on the roads—tramping—and my feet were bleeding. All of a sudden Father Malone said to me ’Let’s see the soles of your boots,’ and when he saw them and the holes in them letting the water in, down he went on his knees on the wet pavement, and before I properly knew what was happening, I’d got his boots on and he’d got mine.”

“Shame on you then!” a woman’s voice broke in. The young man went on: “He was a very little man was Father Malone, but he always had his boots a size or two to big, so as he could give them away more often. His were fine for me, but mine were three sizes too big for him. I’ll never forget him shuffling off in them with his umbrella up and the rain dripping off the brim of his hat.”

The woman who had interrupted turned sharply and said: “You should never have taken his boots, Sam Martin—and you a wastrel that never did an honest week’s work. You shouldn’t have taken his boots!”

“No, I shouldn’t have. But somehow or other I couldn’t help it.”

Another voice joined in: “That’s true, that priest was forever giving away what he should have kept for himself, and somehow or another you couldn’t help but take what he gave.”

“Sure,” it was the soft voice of Rose O’Shane, “no one can say no to the charity of Jesus Christ.”

‘Dry Wood’ chapter 1 ‘A Priest Lies Dead’ by Caryll Houselander


St Bruno Carthusian founder

“If the bow is stretched for too long, it becomes slack and unfit for its purpose.”

“The cross is steady while the world is turning.”

“The ambiance of solitude, the absence of any disturbing noise and of worldly desires and images, the quiet and calm attention of the mind to God, helped by prayer and leisurely reading, flow into that “quies” or “rest” of the soul in God. A simple and joyful rest, full of God, that leads the monk to feel, in some way, the beauty of eternal life.”

St Bruno quotes


The destiny and daily life of man

The value of work with respect to prayer depends very much on the attitude we bring to it.  Work is a human reality willed by God, and has intrinsic value, if we accomplish it with all good will.  Apart from the intention with which we do it, it has been explicitly willed for us by the Lord: ‘The Lord God took man and set him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it’ (Genesis 2:15).  We have to acknowledge, however, that in certain cases the work, if it is done conscientiously, is not compatible with prayer, or that the actual dispositions of the monk make it impossible for his work to be effectively a prayer.  Prayer and work will then be juxtaposed, and not directly related.

We can be faced with several possibilities:
–work is an aid to prayer,
–work seems to be neutral in regards to prayer,
–work is actually an obstacle to prayer.

‘The Wound of Love’ A. Carthusian



Emptying while fortifying

If we are to pray with the necessary fervor and purity, the following discipline must be carefully observed.  First, you must completely surpass all the anxieties of the flesh…renounce all unkind and empty talk, gossip and clowning.  Above all, you must entirely expel the emotions of anger and sadness; you must uproot the noxious seedings of sensual desire and the spirit of possessiveness.  All such vices, that are visible even to our fellow men, must be cut away and destroyed.  But after this preliminary work of purification has received its crown of innocent simplicity and purity, the foundations must be laid; unshakable foundations of a deep humility, capable of bearing the tower that is to rise even to the heavens… –St John Cassian ‘Conferences’ quoted in ‘The Wound of Love’ by A. Carthusian.


The call of life

The effort for this blog has been absent to a certain degree. The hours at work have sufficiently increased due to the loss of my tool partner. He is a gentleman in his mid-seventies dealing with a type of cancer in his heel, soft tissue sarcoma is the diagnosis. He is the only one in the maintenance department with any longevity, thus establishing his knowledge as extremely useful. With chaos and continual fires being the normal mode of operandi, his presence was appreciated. On the human level, he is a good man and friend, sharing an intense devotion to the Cleveland Indians. With the MLB playoffs starting this week, he will be missed.  There is some anger in the fact we knew for five weeks or so he would be going on medical leave for six to eight weeks and nothing was done. The futile effort to hire another maintenance worker provided nobody. We have just added another line with five hydraulic presses, fed by a coil embossing system and the load of work for two men could be quite extensive. Now by myself, I am covering two buildings for a company that operates singularly through incompetence. That will amount to 63 hours of work for the week, amassing a total of 78.5 paid hours. The money will be astounding, yet the level of discouragement is substantial. Providence provided a late-night conversation with a priest from the seminary, a vocational guide who in person is a younger athletic inspiring, intelligent, and fully alive man. A Sunday morning breakfast was scheduled, with plans for further engagement.  I vocalized my weariness with work and he did not finish his thoughts quoting words from St Ignatius due to his own weariness from an overloaded schedule. His advice centered upon the idea of not making life changing decisions while feeling discouraged. In times of discouragement, it is difficult to decipher the calling of the Holy Spirit. I added the need for immediate comfort and solace being the natural reaction, while the greater strengthening may lie in acceptance, perseverance, and fortitude within an overwhelming trust in God. Daily Mass and my Adoration/prayer time has become the grounding and absolute high point of my day. Though my reading and spiritual intellectual activity has diminished, my prayer time remains comforting and profound, the Jesus prayer a constant companion I always return to no matter how many moments I drift away in thought and responsibility. Foreign classic films absorb the little idle time I have while lounging in bed. The early films of Michelangelo Antonioni, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Robert Bresson providing a steady diet of images and reflections upon life.

French master Robert Bresson


A life within the Church

“The ambiance of solitude, the absence of any disturbing noise and of worldly desires and images, the quiet and calm attention of the mind to God, helped by prayer and leisurely reading, flow into that “quies” or “rest” of the soul in God. A simple and joyful rest, full of God, that leads the monk to feel, in some way, the beauty of eternal life.” ―Carthusian Monks


Something to be grasped

Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross

St Paul to the Philippians

Pier Paolo Pasolini, a wayward filmmaker tries valiantly as a young man. Lord have mercy.