Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Devil’s Bargain

Instead of turning stones into bread, you turned bread into your body; instead of tempting God, you suffered God to abandon you; instead of being given all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, you cast out the prince of this world. In your love, never let us set the terms of a bargain with you.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Time When Cynicism Is Not Enough

“No. And I resent — ” she stopped herself. She leaned forward, her head a little to one side, her lips not quite meeting, and looked at him. I watched her with pleasure. I suppose she was telling the truth when she said she didn’t try to be a special kind of woman, but she didn’t have to try. There was something in her — not only in her face, it came right out through her clothes — that gave you an instinctive impulse to start in that direction. I kept on being cynical, but it was easy to appreciate that there might be a time when cynicism wouldn’t be enough.
— Archie Goodwin, in Rex Stout, Too Many Cooks, 1938, Chapter 9


Monday, December 25, 2006


Today He’s just a baby.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Keeping Watch


Saturday, December 23, 2006

The New Temple and the Old

I have long contended that Catholicism is closer to the Jewish religion of Jesus’ time than is Judaism. No one agrees with me, except a Jewish doctor in Charles Scribner III’s The Shadow of God:

The cardinal’s longtime physician in the States, a Jewish doctor, had recently retired from his American practice and had settled in Rome. Cardinal Wright was puzzled by this choice of cities. Why, he asked, did the doctor choose the center of Catholicism, a city so steeped in ecclesiastical trappings and culture? The doctor pointed to St. Peter’s as he replied: “Well, you see, we no longer have our Temple in Jerusalem. Your St. Peter’s, its successor, is the closest thing to it, along with your priesthood, and tabernacle, and Holy of Holies.”


Friday, December 22, 2006

The Eye of the Beholder

How . . . to explain the failure of the disciples to recognize the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus, or Mary Magdalen’s earlier mistaking him for the gardener outside the empty tomb — until he addressed her by name? There is no suggestion that our Lord was disguised or that he changed in appearance; the changes seem instead to take place internally, within the disciples themselves; in these instances epiphany is in the eye of the beholder. It is as though a kaleidoscope becomes a telescope; the beauty of fragmented confusion is given the instant clarity of a Van Eyck landscape of luminous wonder. But how to keep the mind’s eye or ear attuned to them — that is the daunting thought. We may bear more responsibility for revelation than we should like to imagine. Not every wise man saw the star; nor, presumably, did every shepherd hear the same celestial chorus over the hills of Bethelem.
— Charles Scribner III, The Shadow of God: A Journey through Memory, Art, and Faith, 2006, 98


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas for John Harris

. . . for me, the day commemorates my awareness as a believer that God is indeed not an inscrutable, irresistible will whose rude decrees must be accepted arbitrarily as good, but is instead a vibrant goodness active in and through the hearts of His creatures. If He is less than baffling in His majesty, it is because His will is revealed to us partially through universal reason and inner inspiration — through a complex kind of intimate magnetism, that is, usually designated by the word “conscience”. The Holy Spirit also conveys (in less modern parlance — for “conscience” is a fairly recent word) this infusion of moral duty’s urgent messages through the individual soul, such that an ancient soldier might know the wrongness of slaying an enemy’s child even though the rules of war permit it, or know the rightness of holding a dying comrade even though the delay may cost him his own life. Every denomination today, I realize, seems fond of explaining the Holy Spirit in charismatic terms suggestive of some ecstatic experience wholly unrelated to action. This is a large part of why I have little to do with any given denomination. The behavior appropriate to followers of Dionysus is anathema to the God of my faith. People in a frenzy are incapable of any moral conduct, good or bad: they have temporarily (so one hopes) subsided into a state beneath that for which they were created. The Spirit’s touch is awakening and enlightening, not intoxicating and benighting.
— John Harris, Have a Christmas


Saturday, December 16, 2006


The first quarter-century is the hardest . . .
— Mark Halpern

Celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary (the real date is Dec. 19). With us: O, D&BW, Dot, Mary Anne, Mark M, Martin, Marilynn, and Eleanor M, J&I&S&VH, Jeff H & Sandy R & Ariella H, T&RA, Lou R, and Jude R

Friday, December 15, 2006


If I shall always be a sinner, why should I expect progress? Pray always.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Art Thou Jesus?

I shall ask this, not of the person in the next room, but of the person in front of me.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Forgiveness of Sins

Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
— Luke 5:21

Of course the Pharisees and scribes were right. Jesus is saying he can do what only God can do. Later he gives this power to Peter and the other apostles. These are not the sins that, in the Our Father, we say we forgive — but perhaps there is a connection, since we cannot forgive, except by power of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.


O my Father!

J’aime bien cette façon qu’a Paul de dire « mon Dieu ». Cet adjectif « possessif » ne signifie évidemment d’aucune façon que Paul penserait posséder Dieu. Il y a plutôt une connotation d’intimité.
— Armand Veilleux, Chapitre 10 décembre 2006 à la Communauté de Scourmont

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Attended the funeral and burial of Alexander J. Kolothros, brother my coworker Doreen Hughes.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Soul a Stable

Went down to Veeder Tree Farm again with JIS&VH to get our Christmas tree. O’s classmate AV was there. SR & J&AH will come over tonight to help decorate.


Attended an Albany Pro Musica holiday concert at the Cathedral. Apparently not a hot ticket: JR won two tickets at a raffle and could not give the other away. How is it that beautiful things are unwanted? Which leads me to .  . .

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For the first time in years I attended Mass without receiving Communion. I felt evil, rejecting the way of love, and headed for hell. But now I believe that you who did not refuse being born in a stable will not refuse entering me if I open the door to you. Lord, you know that I am no inn, but please come under my roof!

+ + +

Life-changing (?) conversation with M&O.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Excerpts from A Right to Die

Rex Stout, A Right to Die: A Nero Wolfe Novel, New York, The Viking Press, 1964:

“My dear sir. Instead of another speech I could quote for an hour. Benjamin Franklin: ‘A man in a passion rides a wild horse.’ Or, by courtesy, a woman. An ancient Latin proverb: ‘Ex visu amor.’ Loving comes by looking. Pfui. Nothing in nature is absurd, though much is deplorable.” (p. 5)

. . .

Wolfe regarded him. “The comment is about marriage. It’s possible that Miss Brooke is more realistic than you are. She may be intelligent enough to know that no matter whom she marries there will be the devil to pay. The difficulties, snags, embarrassments, and complications — I use your words, though I would prefer sharper ones — are in any case inevitable. If she marries a man of her own color and class, the grounds for them will be paltry, ignoble, degrading, and tiresome. If she marries a Negro the grounds will be weighty, worthy, consequential, and diverting. I have never met a women with so much sense, but there may be one. What if it is Miss Brooke?” (pp. 6–7)

. . .

“The mind or soul or psyche —take what term you prefer — of any man below the level of consciousness is a preposterous mishmash of cesspool and garden. Heaven knows what I have in mine as synonyms for ‘woman’; I’m glad I don’t know.” (p. 40)

. . .

I went to the office and told Wolfe, “Okay, Dolly Brooke killed her because she was going to marry a quote nigger unquote, and how do we prove it?”

He frowned. “I have told you not to use that word in my hearing.”

“I was merely quoting. It isn’t —”

“Shut up. I mean the word ‘unquote’ and you know it.”

(p. 70)

. . .

“No. If I had . . .” Wolfe let it go. No use trying to explain when she wanted only to talk, not listen. (p. 177)

. . .

“She called me Maud, you know, and I called her Susan. Of course my Richard had called her Susan, he told me all about her, but I had never met her. I have two pictures of her that he had, one with him. I’m not sure you understand how I felt about her. I’m not saying I loved her because my Richard had, that wasn’t it exactly, but I wanted to be close to her, I wanted to see her every day. Do you understand that?”

“I think I do. It’s sometwhat involved.” Wolfe’s eyes moved. “The kitchen extension, Archie.”

(p. 179)

See also Nero Wolfe.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Cast Down at Your Feet

. . . and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them.
— Matthew 15:30

48 2A 33 58 79 29 39 41 76 2B 35 44 1A 5B
16 4A 1A 68 19 4D 54 34 07 56 0E 71 5D 00
50 0E 3B 52 14 72 22 5F 68 53 6C 61 73 30
51 61 6B 2F 5C 2B 66 56 4E 40 53 4E 50 41
55 4D 38 3E 27 07 31 1A 30 42 46 45 41 3E

Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee.
— Psalm 118:25

Br. Giuseppe Maria Siniscalchi, CFR, When We Are Powerless

Wednesday, December 06, 2006



Listened to Falstaff (Giulini, Bruson).

L’uomo non si corregge.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Some things will only happen in heaven, some things will only happen in our hearts.

M returned to the Glen Sanders Mansion this evening to perform for the Schenectady County Community College Foundation.

Monday, December 04, 2006

To Be Born Again

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
— John 3:3–8

Now is not the season to be crucified with Christ but to be born with Christ. Let us therefore be still, that we hear the sound of the Spirit, and say, Be it unto me according to thy word.

Jesus, Mary, Joseph


Listened to Fidelio (Toscanini, Bampton, Peerce, Steber, 1944).

Sunday, December 03, 2006


DIRECTOR. I would give everything . . . if I could hear in what tone of voice he uttered a sentence. . . . . Then I, too, would see God! Do you understand what I am saying?
— Romano Guardini, Spiritual Writings

Gospel Scenes

M perform this evening with Kent Busman in the Story Sundays series at the Glen Sanders Mansion.

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My Father is 89 today.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Approach to Advent

Time for heroic virtue.

The most afflicted souls are those chosen by the divine heart. . .
— Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, quoted in From the Friars


Received in the mail and enjoyed reading an article on “Keywords: Baseball, Bartlett’s, & Barzun,” by a good reader of Barzun, John Adams.

Thanks to SMAN, attended at the Palace a Christmas concert given by the Albany Symphony. J&IH were to go with us, but IH was ill, so we took T&RA. Besides the orchestra were several choirs, a group of young Irish step dancers, and a bell choir. The sound seemed muted in the first half, louder in the second. I wonder if the orchestra itself is electronically amplified. A Musicological Journey through the 12 Days of Christmas, by Craig Courtney, was truly horrible. A pretty young mother across the aisle made think again of how much more beautiful CH could look.

Friday, December 01, 2006


There are standards relative to others, and standards relative to myself. Compared with the saints, and perhaps with my brother and sister, I am very low. But that does not mean that I cannot be better today than what I was yesterday.

Have the courage to live with continual disatisfaction.
— Roman Guardini, Spirtiual Writings