We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee
Because by Thy Holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
If you’re like me, you probably like to meditate on Christ’s Passion on Good Friday. One of the ways that I find helps is to think about the Shroud of Turin, and one of the best resources for that is shroud.com, the official website for the Shroud. This website is run by Barrie Schwortz, who was one of the original researchers on the Shroud of Turin Research Project in 1978. By his own testimony, Schwortz originally believed the Shroud was some sort of painting. But the more the team studied it, the more they found that defied explanation. Although he is Jewish, he strongly believes the Shroud is the real deal: “The only reason I am still involved with the Shroud of Turin is because knowing the unbiased facts continues to convince me of its authenticity.”
All in all, it’s a fascinating website and especially timely for today.
Holy Thursday is always a great time of year to reflect on the great gift that is the Eucharist. To that end, I recommend the new book The Fourth Cup, recently released by Catholic apologist Scott Hahn. The parallels between the Passover and Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary (and, by extension, the Mass) were what spurred his interest in Catholicism back in his Presbyterian days, and they ultimately planted the seeds that led to his conversion. Consequently, the book is filled with a passion and enthusiasm that is difficult to top.
I also have my particular favorite, the presentation on the Fourth Cup. It covers a lot of the same material that Scott Hahn does in his book, but there’s some extra info in there, too.
I have a confession to make–I have never liked Boromir in The Lord of the Rings. I always thought he was stubborn and arrogant; it’s all Gondor all the time with him, and he refused to listen to Elrond, Gandalf, and Aragorn when they kept telling him that in no uncertain terms can they ever use the Ring. I mean, sure, he redeems himself by sacrificing himself to protect Merry and Pippin, but up until that point I’m always, “Why’d we have to bring him again?” Contrawise, I have always loved Faramir from the very first time I read the books. Unlike his older brother, Faramir is not so single-mindedly focused on saving Gondor that he fails to see the big picture, and he actually listens when people tell him the Ring is mucho no bueno (in the books anyway. Don’t get me started on the movies). And the fact that he was never even tempted to use the Ring even when it was three feet in front of him just floored me the first time I read that. Clearly Faramir got all of the awesomeness in the family.
Yet to my surprise, there are people out there–quite a few people–who don’t like Faramir for that very reason! They say he’s too perfect, and that they can’t relate to him because of it. They find Boromir more relatable because of his fallen nature. This upset me at first–why would you prefer the jerky brother over the non-jerky brother?–but over time I began to see a certain logic behind the preference. However, Faramir still plays an important role that I think too many people overlook.
Several years ago, I had a chance to listen to a talk given by Joseph Pearce on the Catholic aspects of The Lord of the Rings, and he was the one who first drew my attention to the parallel of Boromir as a sinner and Faramir as a saint. Boromir had a fallen nature he had to overcome, but Faramir had already overcome that nature (probably because of all the stuff Denethor put him through). So in a sense I can see why more people would like Boromir; we all have fallen natures we have to overcome. But all sinners are called to become saints. Boromir is who we are, but Faramir is who we are supposed to become.
Several months ago, I stumbled across an article that talked about how a group of Dominicans from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. was releasing an album of bluegrass music. I’m no connoisseur of the bluegrass genre, but I’ve always had a fondness for it, and I love Dominicans, so naturally I checked it out.
It. Is. Amazing.
They call themselves the Hillbilly Thomists, a term that Catholic author Flannery O’Connor originally used to describe herself. Judging from the album’s cover picture that dates from the 1920s, there have been Dominicans playing bluegrass at the House of Studies for a very long time; I think this was the first time they gave themselves and name and recorded an album. And they don’t limit themselves to just bluegrass; various YouTube videos show them playing old Irish folk tunes as well. No matter what they’re singing, though, there is an unmistakable joy that permeates everything they do.
It has been a long and eventful year, but lo and behold, Christmas is here once again.
It’s also the day before the Doctor Who Christmas Special, which means *sniff, sniff* it’s almost Capaldi’s last episode.
But enough about that for now! We can cry about Twelve’s departure after we’ve celebrated Christ’s birth. It’s one of the most stupendous events in the history of the world, that God became Man so that we could have a chance for salvation. By becoming one of us, He restores human nature to its original dignity and reminds us of what we were always meant to be–children of God and heirs of Heaven.
For a long time I had been looking for music to listen to during Advent, but with so much emphasis on Christmas, a lot of times it feels as if Advent gets overlooked. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with listening to the different Mass settings for Christmas because it gets you pumped for what your choir will be singing at Midnight Mass (and you’re currently awake enough to appreciate it), but sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and listen to music that talks about how we’re waiting for Christ to be born/return for the Second Coming.
Finally, I have found such a playlist! Enjoy!
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of my favorite apparitions of the Blessed Mother. Ever since I was little, I loved hearing the story of how she appeared to St. Juan Diego…and one of the sources I heard it from was the last place I expected.
Back in the 1990s, there was a TV show called Wishbone, which was about a Jack Russell Terrier that loved classic literature (Wishbone was my first exposure to Phantom of the Opera, but that’s a story for another day). One of the episodes actually covered Our Lady of Guadalupe and told the story of her apparition. For a long time I couldn’t remember if this had actually been an episode or if I had imagined the whole thing, but lo and behold, YouTube proved I wasn’t crazy.