Monthly Archives: February 2004


Stations of the Cross

With The Passion of the Christ out, a lot of people are probably feeling more interested in the Stations of the Cross. I’m interested to find how different some of the prayers for doing the Stations are. Some folks can’t picture doing them without singing the “Stabat Mater”, others never heard of such a thing. (Around here, we seem to be in the latter group while Ebert’s review indicates he’s in the former.) Some are indoors, some outside in gardens or on trails. There are many different sets of meditations and prayers used for the Stations, each with its own advantages. Also, the Episcopal/Anglican church seems to do Stations.

The best explanation of the different versions of the Stations is at the website of Sacred Heart Parish, Morton, WA. You can pick out your own favorite version of the Stations while looking at the same set of pictures over in the frames. (A good use of frames, btw.) Another excellent site is from the Congregation of the Passion. The origins of the Stations in pilgrimages to Jerusalem are explained at Olga’s Gallery and the Via Dolorosa.

Other sites which include both pictures and prayers for the Stations are: St. Charles Borromeo in Picayune, Mississippi; Two Hearts Design; St. Alexander’s, Villa Park, IL;; over at Gerard’s site, Catholic Doors; and Ligurina-Maria.

If you just want a new set of pictures to look at while doing the Stations, check out a nice set of paintings of the Stations from Lodwar, Kenya. Here are some sculptures from St. Augustine’s in Deerfield Twp., Michigan; and from

Of course, the real test is to walk and pray Jesus’ road every day as we carry our own crosses. But the more we try in all ways to die with Christ, the more we will live with Him.

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“Fair Science Frown’d Not on His Humble Birth”: Astronomer in a Country Churchyard

St. Laurence’s Church, Slough, Buckinghamshire was local to Thomas Gray (1716-1771, and may have inspired his famous “Elegy in a Country Churchyard”. (Though, to be fair, St. Giles’ Church in Stoke Poges claims that, too, and probably many others.) It was also where the astronomer William Herschel (1738-1822) was buried. In 2001, apparently someone donated a nice stained glass window dedicated to the memory of the discoverer of Uranus. Note the telescope in the bottom right hand corner of the window.

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It’s only been a day since Ash Wednesday, but already I’ve made a few more steps in the wrong direction. The ancient Romans used to draw the soul as a tiny figure with wings. My anima may be vagula, but not blandula. Her tiny wings are the color of charcoal and ash, and maybe they are broken.

The lucky thing is that Jesus forgives sins. “Cleanse me from my iniquities, and I shall be as white as snow.” Different denominations handle this different ways; some give great credence to mental prayer, others to standing up in front of the congregation to confess. Catholics do something that stands exactly in the middle; we tell our sins to a member of the congregation (namely, a priest), who stands in as a visible sign both of the Church and our incarnate God.

It is hard to tell even a single person what I’ve done wrong. A single person with a long shrewd knowledge of what sorts of things people get up to — oh, it’s hard. But it is fatally easy to tell your sins to God and not feel forgiven enough, or to weasel out of your sins as really not so bad. When you can hear what you’re saying to someone else, and hear their own comments to you, it is a great deal harder to go to one extreme or the other.

I am praying today for several people, including myself, but especially for this young woman. (Link is not work-safe.) May God console her and help her deal with her pain in a better way. Cutting is not the answer; art is a better one; but I think she needs help and love most of all.

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Ash Wednesday

When I was a child, I don’t think they used a lot of ashes in my parish. I was always disappointed to find, when I got home, that there was nothing left on my forehead but a vague dark gray smudge. I could get dirtier than that by reading the newspaper.

This Wednesday night, I could see the black circles on my fellow parishioners from up in the choir loft. Indian ladies honoring their religion could hardly have been marked on the forehead more conspicuously than we. The very last person to get ashes was a baby in her mother’s arms; her small black dot contrasted with her pale forehead like ink on paper.

I looked at us, covered in ashes if not sackcloth, and reflected that this was how sin must look like on our souls. Not to mention regret.

We were doing what the Bible recommended, as the readings made clear; gathering all the people together, young and old, to repent in an acceptable time. It was the beginning of Lent, that sorrowful six weeks whose English name means “springtime”. For six weeks every year, we try to pray, fast, abstain, give alms, and make a little progress on the spiritual journey that God wants us to take. We stop, ask directions, turn around, and try to come back to the right road instead of continuing blindly on our own “shortcuts”.

We start by publicly admitting, as a group, that we’re lost. With ashes.

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Best Religious Poem I’ve Read in a Long Time

I visited the Badger Clark Memorial Society via The Corner, because they noted that he wrote the lyrics for “Spanish Is the Lovin’ Tongue”. But among his works on the website, I found “The Job”, which is just indescribably good. A partial quote:

I know you laughed then, while you caught and wrought
The big, swift rapturous outline of your thought.
And then –

I see it now.
O God, forgive my pettish row!
I see your job. While ages crawl
Your lips take laboring lines, your eyes a sadder light,
For man, the fire and flower and center of it all –
Man won’t come right!
After your patient centuries
Fresh starts, recastings, tired Gethsemanes
And tense Golgothas, he, your central theme,
Is just a jangling echo of your dream.
Grand as the rest may be, he ruins it.

Why don’t you quit?
Crumple it all and dream again! But no;
Flaw after flaw, you work it out, revise, refine….

Go read the whole thing.

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Piro and Seraphim Got Married!

In a development that brought joy to the hearts of all Megatokyo readers/nosey parkers (“When are you two gonna get married?” “Marry her, Fred!” “Don’t you think you should settle down?”), artist Fred “Piro” Gallagher and his lovely SO Seraphim announced on the webcomic today that they’d gotten married in Las Vegas back on New Year’s Eve.

(This no doubt accounts for the unusual beauty and cheerfulness of Ann Arbor this year as I’ve worked on my album.)

Congratulations, Piro and Seraphim! May God bless you and keep you together, and may your lives be long, happy, and prosperous and full of every blessing. Including kids. Remember, it is your geekish duty to enrich the human race with your genes! (More to the point, we think your kids will love having such nifty parents!)

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Yet Another Mind Test

Via the Old Oligarch, and from Mind Media:

Your Brain Usage Profile

Auditory : 50%
Visual : 50%
Left : 46%
Right : 53%

You are moderately right-hemisphere dominant and have even preferences between auditory and visual processing, traits that might make people perceive you as “slightly off balance.”

You are most likely to be slightly disorganized, a “dreamer” and a person who focuses more on the end result than the immediate task at hand. You are creative and spontaneous if somewhat lacking in direction and focus. You are a learner who is generally patient and a person for whom time is an ally, not an enemy.

You are more passionate than most people with regard to life and learning and recognize your own intuitive abilities. You have sufficient goal-direction to satisfy yourself and guarantee success without being or feeling driven. You are willing to be reflective about yourself and others without getting lost in rumination.

The balance of your sensory modes allows for both learning and expressive capabilities achieved by few. You are active and “seeing” while retaining an equally strong propensity for being reflective which slows you down a little but allows for a more comprehensive perception and analysis of situations and problems. You do not spend excessive time analyzing since you mostly trust your perceptions.

In all likelihood, you have a tendency to overcommit and cannot under- stand why others get upset since you operate on a different “time table” than they do. Your organizational abilities are frequently overwhelmed by the stimulation seeking and active nature of your mind as well as by the tendency to create new categories and gloss over details, making categorization and classification almost impossible at times.

To the extent that your career path allows for creativity and abstraction as well as a bit of disorganization, you should find yourself equipped to handle any learning that is required. Your own personal adjustment to your style should come naturally although you are likely to feel frustrated by your own limited discipline and often wonder “Why?”

I don’t know if this is true of me or not….

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