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Archive for October, 2015

Cat-o-Lantern 2015

I guess it kind of ended up looking like the cat (the eyes, if nothing else):

jack-o-lantern

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Greetings all,

This is a feature I have not looked at very carefully in the three years of this blog’s existence.  If this works, then hopefully my homepage will attract more regular visitors through greater “user-friendliness.”

So here goes nothing: (more…)

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van_Gogh_-_The_Church

I wanted to share a short video (about two-and-a-half minutes) featuring a young man from my neck of the woods.  His name is Hank Stratton — and though only in high school, he is already a quite brilliant artist.

Note: I share this partly in honor of Red Ribbon Week.  When I was working in substance abuse prevention, my colleagues and I were very passionate about promoting protective factors — that is to say, healthy activities that help young people to focus their talents, energies, and passions constructively — within the community.  Here is just one example of the kind of human potential that makes the pleasures of drugs and alcohol superfluous.

Here is the link to the video (I’ve arranged it to begin at the relevant section): WBTA News Interviews Hank Stratton.

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Acknowledgements

  1. “Vincent van Gogh – The Church in Auvers-sur-Oise, View from the Chevet – Google Art Project” by Vincent van Gogh – 6wEjLceQPXkTtA at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vincent_van_Gogh_-_The_Church_in_Auvers-sur-Oise,_View_from_the_Chevet_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg#/media/File:Vincent_van_Gogh_-_The_Church_in_Auvers-sur-Oise,_View_from_the_Chevet_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

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Red_Ribbon_WeekWe will be observing Red Ribbon Week in the U.S. in less than a week.  Let it be a sign of our fervent opposition of both drugs and the abuse of otherwise benign substances, as well as our commitment to honoring the law enforcement officials who have risked and given their lives in the fight.

HomelessBut at the same time, may the red ribbons also symbolize our solidarity with those who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions.  Why?  Because they are our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, friends, cousins…fellow flesh-and-blood human beings.  Hence we must remember, as the saying goes: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Most of us are not encumbered with illegal addictions, thank God.  But let’s face facts honestly.  How many of us will go shopping even when we know we don’t really need to?  How many of us spend umpteen hours a week watching mind-numbing TV programs even when it gets in the way of proper care for our bodily health, our personal and domestic responsibilities, and valuable family time?

How many of us will fill up our houses with various things we like to collect without ever using them?  How many of us eat and drink more than we need to, or eat/drink too much of the wrong things, even when we are aware of this habit’s incremental detrimentality to our health?

Lastly, as much as we may decry the drug-addicted son who steals money from his own mother’s purse to get his “fix,” how often are we willing, in subtle and small ways, to hurt the people we love in order to get what we want?

And so on down the line.

This leads us to an invaluable perspective.  Addiction, as we understand it, is merely an intensification, a heightening, of the condition from which we all suffer — namely (and to use a classic technical term), concupiscence, the disordering of the passions and their war against our reasoning powers.  And doubtless, our own wrongdoings have added to the great pool of “mass concupiscence” that floods humanity, making each of us in some mysterious manner partly responsible for the addictions of our alcoholic and so-called “junkie” brothers and sisters.

Therein lies the secret of what we may learn from these people: They know we are at war.  They, more than most of us, can sympathize with St. Paul when he says:

I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members

(Romans 7:23)

…and elsewhere:

For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.

(Romans 7:19)

St. Francis_MeditationThe saints, in their arduous quest for holiness, have often gained a very keen sense of this condition within themselves, and of their (and our) complete helplessness and insufficiency apart from God’s grace.

So in short, saints and addicts know the fundamental truth of which the rest of us, for the most part, tend to be in denial (for which reason the devil can often do his work undetected).  This is, as it were, the anthropological aspect of addiction.  I think there is a theological element to be considered as well, and I will explore that next time.

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Acknowledgements

  1. “Lozano Red Ribbon Week”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lozano_Red_Ribbon_Week.jpg#/media/File:Lozano_Red_Ribbon_Week.jpg
  2. “SDF à Charleroi – 1” by Jmh2o – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SDF_%C3%A0_Charleroi_-_1.jpg#/media/File:SDF_%C3%A0_Charleroi_-_1.jpg
  3. “Francisco de Zurbarán 053” by Francisco de Zurbarán – http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/francisco-de-zurbaran-saint-francis-in-meditation/27646. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Francisco_de_Zurbar%C3%A1n_053.jpg#/media/File:Francisco_de_Zurbar%C3%A1n_053.jpg

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Letchworth_WaterfallWell, the medievals used to say that God wrote two books: The Book of Scripture (a.k.a. the Bible), and the Book of Nature.  One finds His explicit self-revelation in the former, but hints of both God and His plan are discernible in the latter as well.

Of course, reflective soul that I am, I could not help but think of this during my outing to Letchworth State Park with my family over the weekend.  (By the way: If you’re ever in New York State, do yourself a favor and go there.  It has some gorgeous waterfalls, beautiful foliage, nice walking trails, buildings of historical significance, and a gorge that has earned the nickname “Grand Canyon of the East.”)

Last year I spent a weekend on retreat at a monastery in the country, and I remember looking out one morning at a fine mist hanging over a pond outside.  This got me thinking of that famous passage from St. Luke’s Gospel in which the angel Gabriel announces the birth of Christ to the Blesséd Virgin Mary:

The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

(Luke 1:35)

The hovering mist reminds one of the Holy Spirit — ethereal, invisible, otherworldly, and coming from above — and the body of water, an image of feminine receptivity and fecundity, of the Virgin Mary.

Letchworth_Waterfall 1If a pond can remind one of Mary, how much more a great waterfall, with its majestic beauty and humble greatness?

Letchworth_Waterfall 2Now back to the mist.  Here, as you can see, it ascends from the water, as opposed to hovering over it.  Yet here also can we find an analogy pointing to the divine partnership with Mother Mary.  Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, issued forth from the womb of Mary in His Incarnation, as the God-Man, “as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:2, italics mine).

As I’ve said before: Who ever said nature isn’t “evangelical”?

Thanks for reading.  Here are some more pics, if you’re interested:

Rainbow over the waterfall

Letchworth_Rainbow

A “trickle”

Letchworth_Trickle

A couple pictures taken around the gorge

Letchworth_Gorge

Letchworth_Gorge2Stone picnic table where we ate lunch 🙂

Letchworth_Stone Table

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For those of you who weren’t aware, Fr. Robert Barron, whom I’ve admired and followed for years now and whose videos I have often shared on this blog, was recently appointed an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles.  Hence, Into the Dance extends hearty congratulations to him!

Bishop Barron was one of the commentators on MSNBC’s coverage of Pope Francis’ Mass in Philadelphia, along with Brian Williams, Chris Matthews, and Notre Dame professor Kathleen Sprows Cummings.  In this short segment of the commentary, he offers a very concise, charitable, and brilliant defense of priestly celibacy within the Church.  Take a look!

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Whew!  Ever wish life didn’t keep you so busy?  I sure do — if only so that I could blog more often.

I intend to get back into the proverbial saddle over the next couple months (especially since next month marks the three-year anniversary of “Into the Dance”), and I thought I’d offer a quick look at some of the post topics I plan to cover (not necessarily in this order):

1. True Detective

TrueDetectiveDVDCoverI recently “binge-watched” the first season of the HBO series True Detective.  While disturbing at times, the show is artistically excellent and very profound.  I have a lot to say about it, especially with regard its treatment of marriage, manhood, family, and existence.

2. The Rosary

RosaryOctober is the Month of the Rosary, one of the most beautiful and powerful treasures of the Catholic Faith.  Before the month is out I’d like to share a few things about this prayer, and hopefully answer questions people might have (feel free to leave some in the comment section here, if you’d like).

3. Drug/Alcohol Awareness

HeroinOctober is also when “Red Ribbon Week,” which is dedicated to drug and alcohol addiction awareness, falls.  I used to work in this field myself (in the prevention department), and I do have some insights I’d like to offer — not only for those addicted to alcohol or illegal drugs, but also for anyone who might be caught in the midst of addictive habits that may seem deceptively harmless in and of themselves.

Last but not least…

4. My New Blog

question mark

I intend to embark on the adventure of starting a for-profit blog in the very near future.  I will post a link and detailed description when the blog is up and running.  Until then, I won’t say too much about it…but here’s a hint: If you have children, relatives, pupils, friends, or other acquaintances on the autism spectrum — or if you yourself are on the spectrum — you may be interested.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for stopping by, and God bless 🙂

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Acknowledgements

1. “TrueDetectiveDVDCover” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TrueDetectiveDVDCover.jpg#/media/File:TrueDetectiveDVDCover.jpg

2. “An Egyptian Rosary with a Coptic Cross, 2010” by Silar – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:An_Egyptian_Rosary_with_a_Coptic_Cross,_2010.JPG#/media/File:An_Egyptian_Rosary_with_a_Coptic_Cross,_2010.JPG

3. “Anal Heroin” by Psychonaught – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anal_Heroin.jpg#/media/File:Anal_Heroin.jpg

4. “Question opening-closing” by Vadmium – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Question_opening-closing.svg#/media/File:Question_opening-closing.svg

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