2018 Advent Retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey (Part 2)

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.


The Pillar of the Cloud by Cardinal John Henry Newman

A couple more notes from my Advent Retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey.

(1) Handcrafted stoneware/porcelain pottery from the monks at St. Joseph’s Abbey.

(2) Added three books to the Limestone Library from the Abbey Bookstore:

(2a) Life Lessons from the Monastery by Fr. Jerome Kodell

“Our life is an arc of ascent and descent. And this is for our good, because the project of this life is to learn how to turn over control to the Creator so that we may have the interior freedom to leave this world in peace and be ready for new life with God.”

(2b) Lead, Kindly Light by James Sharp

“Mary is the most beautiful flower ever seen in the spiritual world. It is by God’s grace that there have ever sprung up at all the flowers of holiness and glory. And Mary is the Queen of them. Therefore she is called the Rose, for the rose is of all flowers the most beautiful.”

(2c) Night Prayer by Catholic Book Publishing Corp

Loving Mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again.

To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel’s joyful greeting,
have pity on us poor sinners.

KH3 Countdown

It’s less than thirty days away! Here’s a list of five (um, six) things you can do while you’re counting down:

(1) Preview KINGDOM HEARTS III at Disney Springs (Disney Parks Blog)

(2) Pre-Order Face My Fears by Hikaru Utada. The release is scheduled for January 18th

(2a) Hear Skrillex, Utada Hikaru’s Dizzying Preview of New Song ‘Face My Fears’ (Rolling Stone)

(2b) Listen to Kingdom Hearts Live / Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra & Kuehn’s Mixed Choir (YouTube)

(3) Watch Kingdom Hearts Story Summary (YouTube)

How will KH3 start?
Riku and Mickey – Extracting Aqua from the Realm of Darkness
Kairi and Lea – Training with Merlin
Sora, Donald, and Goofy – Training with Hercules in the Olympus Coliseum

(4) Create or search a Kingdom Hearts board on Pinterest

(5) Unlock the Starlight Keyblade (IGN)

(6) Replay your favorite title from the series

US Coup d’état / Banana Republic **Updated**

Post was originally published on August 16th 2018

It’s really simple (and in the irony of all ironies) would make an incredible Hollywood blockbuster.  During the Obama Administration, federal agencies (CIA, FBI, DOJ, NSA, etc.) used opposition research from the Hillary Clinton campaign to spy on candidate/nominee Trump. He was also spied on as President-elect and President.

Let that sink in because this **** usually happens in a banana republic. It’s also tangentially related to the Yellow Vests, Brexit, and Open Borders.

UPDATE*** These are occurring fast and furious (classical reference in headline – it’s a tribute to Glenn Reynolds).

Eight days in May: New revelations about intrigue to remove Trump (Washington Examiner)

Michael Goodwin: Andrew McCabe is a national disgrace – and we owe him a big, fat thank you (Fox News)

“And damn this feels momentous. Because this matters. The other one did, too, but that was to ensure that we didn’t F something up. This matters because this MATTERS.” — Peter Strzok

New

Are the Investigations the Cover-Up? (American Thinker)

The Most Successful Coverup: Democrats get away with a much worse crime than Watergate (The American Spectator)

Strzok Joins List of 25 Top FBI, DOJ Officials Who Have Been Recently Fired, Demoted, or Resigned (The Epoch Times)

A World in Revolution: The Inevitable Backlash against Global Elites (YouTube)

Donald Trump is a symptom of a new kind of class warfare raging at home and abroad (USA Today)

May the Shutdown Go On Forever (PJ Media)

Walls Are Closing in on the FBI—and Its Media Accomplices (American Greatness)

Related

Press needs to restore its credibility on FBI and Justice Department (The Hill)

“Now, these are all established facts. Let’s review them again: Ohr was a senior Justice Department official whose wife was employed by the research firm hired by Clinton and the DNC to get dirt on Trump. This was not reported on any disclosure forms. Ohr’s wife worked on the same Trump-Russia project as Steele, who concocted the dossier, and Ohr himself established a secret back channel with Steele, who had been dismissed for lying to the FBI — all, apparently, so that Steele was never far from learning about the investigation or having input into it. His texts even refer to a fear of “firewalls” being discovered.”

Sweet Shutdown, Roll On (American Greatness)

“The furloughed federal employees in question are the Beltway parasites who feed off the taxpayers in real America, and provide next to nothing in exchange for their three square meals a day and fancy digs in what has become, for all practical purposes, a one-party deep state that now consists of eastern Maryland, the District of Columbia, and northern Virginia—and thus the rest of America. Bureaucrats are happy to munch on the hands that feed them, with slovenly, indifferent “service” in useless, invented sinecures, but would never think of barking at the guys who actually throw them the bones, and thus keep them ensconced in petty power over their fellow citizens.”

Bonus Art

Christmas 2018 Sabbatical (Principle of Connectivity)

This placeholder is a tradition now. It’s a space to capture all the randomness linked to my couple weeks of downtime. I’ll try to organize it near the end of my break.

Here’s a fun fact…my first post was on August 21, 2003 on Blogger. I’ve been posting for 15 years and 4 months (or 5,601 days / 800 weeks and 1 day).

Scan is from The Art of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away

(1) A couple of musical preludes:

(1a) Somewhere Only We Know / Kacey Musgraves (YouTube)

(1b) Nothing Else / Angus & Julia Stone (YouTube)

Something from the 30s and something from the 80s:

(1c) And The Angels Sing / Benny Goodman & Martha Tilton (YouTube)

(1d) Somebody’s Baby / Jackson Browne (YouTube)

(2) Flipping through The Art of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away and just realized how reverently he and Makoto Shinkai depict train stations. In Spirited Away it’s the entrance to the other world and in 5 Centimeters per Second it’s the scene of Takaki and Akari’s reunion.

(2a) Spirited Away 1

(2b) Spirited Away 2

(2c) Spirited Away 3

(3) Another musically inspired quote from Haruki Murakami:

“Thelonious Monk did not get those unusual chords as a result of logic or theory. He opened his eyes wide, and scooped those chords out from the darkness of his consciousness. What is important is not creating something out of nothing. What my friends need to do is discover the right thing from what is already there.”

(4) More from Murakami…

“The bell was never mine alone. It belongs to the place, to be shared by everyone.”

“Every so often, I found myself wondering about the plastic penguin. I had given it to the faceless man as payment for ferrying me across the river. There had been no alternative, given the swiftness of the current. I could only pray that little penguin was watching over Mariye from somewhere
—probably as it shuttled back and forth between presence and absence.”

Blogging

(5) I get this question quite often. Here are my top five indispensable blogging tools:

(5a) WordPress, (5b) Flickr, (5c) Directnic, (5d) TextPad, and (5e) Libib

Hockey

(6) Carolina Hurricanes left hockey fans conflicted with throwback Hartford Whalers night (CBS Sports)

I was just in Raleigh for a couple of days and saw the Hurricanes play the Arizona Coyotes.

(6a) Islanders score five unanswered goals, top Senators (YouTube)

(6b) Islanders ride Barzal hat trick to John Tavares smackdown (NY Post)

(6c) Scott Eansor’s hustle and determination led to a shorthanded… (Twitter)

I attended four hockey games over my sabbatical and my record was 4-0-0. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers defeated Springfield 5-3 on December 15th and Hartford 3-2 on December 27th. The Hartford Whalers (Hurricanes) defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-0 on December 16th and the New York Islanders the Ottawa Senators 6-3 on December 28th.

Politics & Culture

(7) As the Old Faiths Collapse, the Greens, Social Justice Warriors, and Techno-Futurists Aim to Fill the Void (Daily Beast)

I saw this on Twitter but Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) also linked to it as well.

(7a) Sweet Shutdown, Roll On (American Greatness)

“On the Left, the unattainably perfect (which is what Marxism is, in both its economic and cultural manifestations) must always be the mortal enemy of the good, and especially the good enough. The Left makes no allowances for human fallibility or imperfections; it attributes every failure to willful malfeasance, animated by “racism” or some other malevolence.”

(7b) How prophetic was C.S. Lewis? The Abolition of Man is mentioned in Sweet Shutdown, Roll On. I’ve quoted that book many times in previous posts, but perhaps nothing as much as: “But the man-moulders of the new age will be armed with the powers of an omnicompetent state and an irresistible scientific technique: we shall get at last a race of conditioners who really can cut out all posterity in what shape they please.”

Peter Kreeft is more succinct in C.S. Lewis for the Third Millennium:

“Our civilization’s educational elite, our opinion-molders (who have become much more powerful and much more philosophically radical since Lewis’ day in each of the three main mind-molding establishments: education, entertainment, and journalism) are producing a new species of man: ‘men without chests’, or hearts or consciences – i.e., ears to hear the Tao. In other words, our ‘experts’ are producing men and woman like themselves. They are reproducing not biologically but culturally, by a kind of cultural cloning.”

Mass Transit

(8) Absolutely Everything You Need To Know to Survive the L Train Shutdown (THRILLIST)

2018 Advent Retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey (Part 1)

St. Joseph’s Abbey“Rejoice that you have succeeded in escaping the countless dangers and shipwrecks of this storm-tossed world, and have reached a quiet corner in the security of a hidden harbor.”
— Saint Bruno

I usually select one or two books from the library (in the retreat house) the day I arrive and this year it was Lessons from the Monastery That Touch Your Life by M. Basil Pennington and Spiritual Exercises by St. Francis de Sales. The former was fortuitous (there’s NO such things as coincidences) since the slim volume by the late M. Basil Pennington (St. Joseph’s Abbey) has a chapter devoted to Lectio, Meditatio, Oratio, and Contemplatio and was the subject of Fr. William Meninger’s Saturday/Sunday talk.

Fr. William Meninger started his talk by asking the retreatants if we had any expectations for the weekend.  It was a mature group and most were just seeking a break from the noise. In the end Father Meninger opted to focus on Centering Prayer (although a talk on forgiveness and Julian of Norwich were also options). He gave us a background on its origins and some of the controversy. He also discussed the benefits, some techniques to manage distractions (like monkey brain), and then we practiced collectively during the last ten minutes of the talk.    

If you are interested in the subject and want to learn more try The Loving Search for God: Contemplative Prayer and the Cloud of Unknowing. I’ve also posted a link to an amazing video in the ‘other observations and notes’ section.

My journal entries for the rest of the weekend are fragmentary but sometimes it takes a couple of weeks to identify and distill themes. There’s a simple pre-retreat entry in my journal about our capacity to be surprised (something maybe I heard in a Bishop Barron program) and I spent a bit a time ruminating on that entry since I’d been dealing with a hardened heart all year. 

I also had two books from the limestone library. The first was The Return Of The Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri J. M. Nouwen and the second was The Power Of Silence: Against The Dictatorship Of Noise by Robert Cardinal Sarah.  I spent so much time reading the latter that I never re-read the Nouwen book. I transcribed several quotes, but this is the one that’s a good precept for a hardened heart:

“God always watches over us. Man may experience the darkest nights, endure the worst outrages, confront the most tragic situations, yet God is with him. Often man forgets that God is present. If he is an unbeliever, he supposes that God does not exist. If he has a faith that has grown lukewarm because of the secularized atmosphere of the times, he despairs, thinking that God has abandoned him. But the Father stays with him despite all possible denials.”    

A couple other observations and notes…

There’s a beautiful circular stained-glass window in the back of the church that’s typically the last thing retreatants see at the end of their week/weekend. I usually focus on it only when I’m walking back to my pew after receiving the sacraments.

I always visit the visitors chapel before I start the trek home and NO matter how hard you strain (or how you position yourself in the chapel) you can only see a little sliver of the stained-glass in the back of the church!  I am often tempted to sneak through the cloisters or scale the wall in the visitors chapel to snap a photo, but the risk of being banned from the Abbey and the stigma of showing disrespect is too great a risk. I suppose there’s an analogy here about the stained-glass, with its obstructed view, and that passage about “faith being the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1-2

There was also NO snow on the ground this weekend but the sky was clear and at night, before vigils at 3:30 AM, the stars were immeasurable (although the brutal cold made stargazing impractical). I also didn’t take any photographs…content with the ones taken in a snowy landscape (and during previous retreats).   

This video isn’t a tutorial on centering prayer but includes some amazing images of the cloister (including the circular stained-glass window at the back of the church). It also includes an interview with Fr. Matthew Flynn who sadly passed away on December 4th. Here’s an excerpt from the video of Fr. Matthew:

“God loves unconditionally. They just told us that you’d better behave yourself and God will love you. But if you don’t behave yourself God will leave you. Well, God can’t leave you! There’s no place for God to go! He is in everything. And so, the experience of that love, that’s the contemplative experience. The experience that God loves you in time and space. He intervenes into your history and into your life and touches you in some way. And that can change a person’s life. That’s it. At that moment, you might say, that was the center of the universe, that a human being in time and space was so united with God that he experience LOVE.”

Weekend 441.0 (Annual Advent Abbey Retreat)

(1) An excerpt from Daily Meditations on the Psalms:

“We sing when we are happy. A lover sings when he has found his beloved. Sports fans shout for all to hear when their team has won. When Christians sing on joyous occasions, they name God because He is the source of all the good things that bring them joy.”

Weekend 440.0

(1) One final, musically inspired quote, from Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami:

“‘It’s an usual opera [Der Rosenkavalier]. The plot’s critical, of course, like with all operas, but with this one even if you don’t know the plot it’s easy to give yourself over to the music and be completely enveloped by that world. The world of supreme bliss Strauss achieved at the peak of his powers. When it was first performed, people criticized it as nostalgic, unadventurous even, where in reality the music is quite progressive and uninhibited. He was influenced by Wager, but Strauss creates his own strange, unique musical realm. Once you get into this music you can’t get enough of it.'”  

(2) Der Rosenkavalier Suite (YouTube)

Weekend 439.0 (Andantino con moto)

(1) Dvořák Carnival, Op. 92 (YouTube)

Heard this last night at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center. The performance on YouTube is from Royal Albert Hall in 2012.

(1a) Limestone Photo Archives: Royal Albert Hall

(2) A quote from Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami:

“I was a mere caretaker, and they were kind enough to let me listen to the records there. And I enjoyed listening to the music of Bach, Schubert, Brahms, Schumann, and Beethoven. Not forgetting Mozart, of course. Their music was deep, amazing, and gorgeous. Up to then in my life I’d never had the opportunity to really settle down and listen to that type of music. I’d always been too busy trying to make a living, and didn’t have the wherewithal financially. So I decided that, as long as I’d been provided this wonderful opportunity, I’d listen to as much music here as I could.”

Why the swamp is crusading against Whitaker (or Whitaker in the crosshairs)

“‘If there is hope,’ wrote Winston, ‘it lies in the proles.'” 
— George Orwell

(1) Sorry, But Obama White House, Not Dossier, Was Behind Trump Investigation (Investors Business Daily)

(2) Susan Rice Sent ‘Unusual Email’ To Herself Moments Before Trump’s Inauguration (The Daily Caller)

Weekend 438.0

(1) Decoding images from the Golden Record

(2) America Runs on Dunkin’ – And Now, So Does a Tiny Home.

Weekend 437.0

“The music was somehow addictive, as he had warned. An uninterrupted stream of emotion, Musical instruments in colorful profusion. It was Strauss who boasted, ‘I can describe anything in music, even a common ‘broom.’ Maybe he didn’t say ‘broom’—it could have been something else.  At any rate, there was something painterly about his music.” — Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore

“In a profession that has been an unending voyage of discovery in the realms of color, sound, and motion, Fantasia represents our most exciting adventure. At last, we have found a way to use in our medium the great music of all times and the flood of new ideas which it inspires.”  — Walt Disney

Related photo from the Limestone Archives.

Southampton

Spitfire O’er SouthamptonConcluding my three city swing (Austin, Portland, and Southampton) with another list.

What’s surprisingly missing from this one is anything White Star Line / Titanic related. I was in Southampton for a football match…not to find the Heart of the Ocean.

(1) Sir James Matthews Building is part of Solvent University and features paintings that commemorate the legendary Spitfire.

(2) Boo Hoo Records & Vinilo Record Store. The former is on Old Northam Road.

(3) Old Northam Road had its heyday in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s as the antique quarter. The storefronts are a little worn and tattered but many are full of antique furniture. It’s hard to tell whether or not the space is just being used as storage now or if these are functioning antique dealers.  It’s a great location for pictures though and the procession to St. Mary’s includes a stint on Old Northam Road.  

If you like ocean liner memorabilia and ephemera make sure to visit Cobwebs

(4) St. Mary’s Stadium is home to the Southampton Football Club. The Saints are currently in the Premier League. According to Wikipedia, the stadium has a capacity of 32,505 and is currently the largest football stadium in South East England. 

The stadium is next to a concrete plant that abuts the River Itchen. In this sense Southampton is like Portland in terms of its industry. 

There’s wasn’t anything ostentatious about this ground (certainly NO Jerry’s World). There’s a statue of Ted Bates (Mr. Southampton) near the main entrance and on match day the Saints Brass perform for fans.     

(5) Holyrood Church and Bargate. I took dozens of photos of the former during my 2014 visit for the Brompton World Championship. The church was destroyed by the blitz in 1940. The latter is a town gateway from the 1100s that includes a statue of George III (in Roman dress). Other notable buildings in Southampton include St. Michael’s and the Civic Centre. 

(6) The Giant Ferris Wheel near Bargate isn’t the London Eye but it affords some spectacular views of Southampton. It’s seasonal and its last day of operation was October 28th. It will be in Bradford for Christmas so IF anyone fancies a little holiday magic get cracking!

(7) In need of some ale and food from a classic pub? The Duke of Wellington near the Isle of Wight Ferry Terminal is a safe bet. 

(8) The lobby at room2 is really cool. I may have still been euphoric from my first trip to St. Mary’s (or just really cold) but the Peroni was extra satisfying. The space is modern, comfortable and very cozy.  

(9) My train arrived and departed from Southampton Central via South Western Railway. This is a very simple station but there’s a Costa and Naked Coffee next door. The trip from Waterloo is about 2 hours and includes some brilliant vistas of the countryside.

(10) Take the Red Funnel to the Isle of Wight.

Weekend 436.1

(1) Can You Bring Citronella Plants Inside (SFGATE)

Portland

Christ The Teacher Chapel / University of PortlandThe one on the west coast. I was there for a long weekend and in traditional limestone fashion wanted to draft a top ten…

(1) The Hollywood Theater at PDX. My favorite shorts from the Summer Program are Oregon: Only Slightly Exaggerated and The Famished Frog. I also liked The Water’s Fine because it reminds me of the work we’re doing on the Bike and Pedestrian Committee. 

Tip: The Fish & Chips at Mo’s Seafood and Chowder at PDX is delicious.

(2) Bikes, bikes, bikes! There are bike lanes and bike shops everywhere. Bike culture is thriving in Portland. If cycling had a patron saint it would be Elly Blue.

A couple of notable shops are North Portland Bike WorksCommunity Cycling Center, Upcycles, and Clever Cycles

Tip: Don’t miss the mural at the Community Cycling Center and stop for a cup of coffee at the Fresh Pot if you’re at the North Portland Bike Works.

(3) Union Station.  The ‘Go By Train’ neon sign beckons would be travelers / adventurers.

(4) The Chapel of Christ the Teacher at the University of Portland. The chapel/campus is on a bluff overlooking the Willamette River. 

“Slowly the procession advances, across the meadows and over a bridge…

Bonus: Ed’s story: Lose a dream, find a life

(5) Boys Fort, Powell’s Books, and the Portland Outdoor Store. You could get a one-of-a-kind journal at Boys Fort, a travel guide at Powell’s, and a coat at the Portland Outdoor Store before heading to Union Station to start your adventure in the Pacific Northwest. 

Tip: Budget plenty of time (and pack a really comfortable pair of shoes) since there is some amazing (and unique) retail in Portland like Chrome Industries.

(6) Pearl District. You could spend a full day with just a camera immersed in the architectural detail of this developing area. Visit the Bridgeport Brewing Company when you’re thirsty. 

(7) St. Johns / Cathedral Park. Stand in the shadows of St. Johns Bridge before enjoying the neighborhood retail/restaurants.

“…Finally, we enter a vast forest, and the branches of its trees interlace in the likeness of gothic arches…”

Bonus: Dinner at Wood Fired Eats.

(8) Portland Saturday Market. Impressive array of arts/crafts/food along the Waterfront Park Trail. 

(9) Bridges. A trestle of delights for bridge enthusiasts like the Broadway, Steel, and Fremont.

“…Soon we emerge into a blaze of morning light. Once again, the powers of life and death have triumphed over the hosts of death and despair.”

(10) Entrepreneurialism. The industriousness and creativity of Victor Atiyeh endures in so many Portland businesses (everything from breweries to messenger bags). There is a statue of this former governor at PDX.

*Photo is from the marble tabernacle inside the Chapel of Christ the Teacher. Quote is from The Legacy Collection: Fantasia.

Weekend 436.0

(1) Haruki Murakami: ‘You have to go through the darkness before you get to the light’ (The Guardian)