Friday 24 October 2008

Dangerous Beauty

The sea in not less beautiful in our eyes because we know that sometimes ships are wrecked by it. On the contrary this adds to its beauty.
Simone Weil, Waiting for God

Saturday 18 October 2008

Jasmine in the evening...

Sometimes you should just avoid taking a hungry vegetarian walking in the evening. In my defense though, it smells great and I think it might be addictive.

Thursday 16 October 2008

The collar

We  talked briefly today about loving poetry. This poem did not come up, but I do not have John Donne with me here, and this is my very best second.

I love this poem on many levels. Most simply perhaps because I associate myself with the idea: My lines and life are free: free as the road, loose as the wind, as large as store. But, as the poet so carefully suggests this is a human paradox. Ultimately, perhaps it is an illusion. Whatever the religious context of this poem, I find that it is a spring board for many other thoughts, and for this reason alone, it amuses the more bizzare thought processes of my mind!

I struck the board, and cried, 'No more.
I will abroad.
What? Shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free; free as the road,
Loose as the wind, as large as store.
Shall I still be in suit?
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me blood and not restore
What I have lost with cordial fruit?
Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did dry it: there was corn,
Before my tears did drown it.
Is the year only lost to me?
Have I no bays to crown it?
No flowers, no garlands gay? all blasted?
All wasted?
Not so, my heart: but there is fruit,
And thou hast hands.
Recover all thy sigh blown age
On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute
of what is fit, and not. Forsake thy cage,
Thy rope of sands,
Which pretty thoughts have made, and made to thee
good cable, to enforce and draw,
And be thy law,
While thou didst wink and would not see.
Awake: take heed,
I will abroad.
Call in thy Death's head there: tie up thy fears.
He that forbears
To suit and serve his need,
Deserves his load.
But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild
At every word,
Me thoughts I heard one calling, Child:
And I replied, My Lord.

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Faith Index

Ben XVI - Education and Inspiration

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Reading Index

Authors and Posts

Father Christmas - The Monks of Tibhirine

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Index of Stations

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Cloister Feasting

Find food for fasts and feasts, or choose something you fancy from the recipes - 

Fourth Week of Advent
Fourth Week of Advent 2
John the Evangelist - 27th December
Christmas Octave - Holidays and Holy Days
St Agnes - 21st January
Francis de Sales - 24th January
The Conversion of St Paul  - 25th January
St. Angela Mercini - 27th January
St. Thomas Aquinas - 28th January
St Thomas Aquinas - 28th January 2
St. John Bosco - 31st January
Our Lady of Lourdes - 11th February
The Chair of St. Peter - 22nd February
Shrove Tuesday
Ash Wednesday
Simple Lent Supper 1
Simple Lent Supper 2
Simple Lent Supper 3
Simple Lent Supper 4
Simple Lent Supper 5
Sunday in Lent
St. Patrick - 17th March
Easter Sunday
St Pancras - 12th May
St Dominic - 24th May
St Madeleine Sophie Barat - 25th May
St Philip Neri - 26th May
Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary 2
Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary 3
St Thomas - 3rd July
St Ulrich - 4th July
St Benedict 14th July
St. James - 25th July
St James - 25th July 
St James - 25th July
St Maximillian Kolbe 14th August
St Bernard of Clairvaux 20th August
St Monica 27th August
St Aidan of Lindisfarne 31st August
Fast Friday Friendly Hug
Fast Friday Luxury

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Monday 6 October 2008

Change of Season Cravings

I am sure that many of you think that recipes and food can have very little to do with odd whatnot. However, never one to disappoint, I though I would just share with you a delicious dish which is great shared with friends AND some folklore about the ingredients. 

Rosemary Oven Roasted Potatoes

Peel and chop into little 1/2 inch cubes some fresh new potatoes and place them into a non stick oven dish. Drizzle them liberally with olive oil and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Grab a good sized handful of rosemary sprigs. Taking two or three of the sprigs, hold each one upright and run your forefinger and thumb down the central twig to release the leaves. Stir these into the potatoes and tuck the remaining whole sprigs into the dish strategically. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes turning the little gems over frequently until they are golden. 

This is a great side dish at a barbeque, alternative to chips, snack served in paper cones....anytime really.

Now, the folklore:

Rosemary originated in the Mediterraean, but has now spread to most temperate climates. It holds the ancient Latin name lamiaceae, which means 'sea dew'. You may thing that this is because of the oceanic colour of its' flowers, and perhaps you are right, but there are more entertaining stories to be had about its' foliage. Rumour has it that during their flight into Egypt the Holy Family had cause to hide from some soldiers. Mary threw her cloak over a rosemary bush and knelt behind it with the child, Jesus. When she rose again, in safety, the flowers of the sweet smelling plant miraculously turned from white to blue in her honour.

You might think that one miracle story would be enough for rosemary, but no. The plant is also said to bloom at midnight on Christmas eve (no I have never checked, don't spoil it). It apparently will only grow for 33 years, the age of Christ, and then will wither and die.

Shakespeare's Ophelia famously says 'There's Rosemary, that is for remembrance", and indeed, it used to be common practice for mourners to throw rosemary onto the coffin from the graveside. Strangely, it has also been a traditional plant for the bride to have in her bouquet and is said to bring happiness to the couple. Often grown at the front of the house Rosemary has the reputation of being able to keep spirits, thieves and witches at bay. Medicinally it is a good cure for headaches and, the oil makes both excellent antiseptic and insect repellant.


Put the first new potato of the year in your overcoat pocket and you will be cured of rheumatism for life, so says the oldest folklore cure. The humble potato once fetched £300 a pound as an aphrodisiac. For Irish Farmers the best day to plant a field of spuds is the feast of St. Patrick, but should this day be missed Good Friday is a close second. Traditionally potato fields in Ireland were dressed with the blessed Easter Palm in the hope of a good harvest. At 'Lughnasa', celebrated on the Sunday nearest the 1st August, the first new potatoes should be tasted by the whole family for prosperity and good health to flourish during the year.

Now you are fully informed you can choose the most prestigious day on which to mix these two yummy ingredients!

Friday 3 October 2008

An excellent reading from Job

From the heart of the Tempest the Lord gave Job his answer. He said:

'Have you ever in your life given orders to the morning or sent the dawn to its post,
telling it to grasp the earth by its edges and shake the wicked out of it,
when it changes the earth to sealing clay and dyes it as man dyes clothes;
stealing the light from wicked men and breaking the arm raised to strike?

Have you journeyed all the way to the sources of the sea, or walked where the Abyss is deepest?

Have you been shown the gates of death or met the janitors of Shadowland?

Have you an inkling of the extent of the earth? Tell me all about it if you have!

Which is the way to the home of the light, and where does darkness live? You could then show them the way to their proper places, or put them on the path to where they live!

If you know all this you must have been born with them, you must be very old by now!'

Job replied to the Lord:

'My words have been frivolous: what can I reply?
I had better lay my finger on my lips.
I have spoken once...I will not speak again;
more than once...I will add nothing.'

This was the first reading of the Mass of today. I haven't read Job in ages, and this just reminded me to go back and read it again. The symbolism and imagery here is amazing. Writers of all ages have picked up on it: the janitors of Shadowland, the Abyss, the idea of giving orders to the Sun; Job the man who argues with God, Brilliant.

I also thought it was appropriate material for reflection for me - going off to study a PhD and all. No matter how much you can teach yourself about something, it is never ever going to be possible to know very much at all.

Wednesday 1 October 2008

Cordoba - A house of prayer for all nations

The strict boundaries between inside and outside seem not to exist in traditional moorish architecture. The prayer space of the mesquita of Cordoba would have once blurred with the 'patio de los naranjas', a classical abloutions court where the faithful prepared for prayer. All 19 naves, once open onto the courtyard, would have shed brilliant shafts of sunlight onto the majestic columns which continued the linear pattern of fruit trees, drawing them into the mosque.

Today, the cathedral exists in a mysterious half light; it is so awe inspiringly beautiful it could make you cry. The pillars create a forest to be explored. Inside each of the naves are tiny side chapels, each dedicated to particular saints and filled with religious ornaments, paintings and peculiar pieces of renaissance furniture. History is here; the brokenness of humanity is in every brick. The mosque was begun upon the ruins of San Vincente, a visigothic construction, in 785 under the direction of Abd-ar-Rahman I. Three further muslim architects would envision and complete the work upon what was to be considered the most important sanctuary of Western Islam. 

King Ferdinand III reconquered Cordoba in 1236 and the mesquita became Cathedral. It was not until 1523 however, that the Cathedral Coro was begun. Its construction came about amid a sea of controversy since the ingenious architecture of the mosque was easily recognised by all. Carlos V, who sanctioned the work, repented afterwards, saying: '
You have built here what you or others might have built anywhere, but you have destroyed something that was unique to the world.' 
The coro stands unrepentant in the middle of the sea of columns, blocking what must have once been a clear view from the 'patio de los naranjas' to the mihrab on the far Eastern wall. It is the contrast between simplicity and detail which strikes you first. The features of the mesquita are clean, focused and simple; against it the renaissance detail and gold is an overpowering distraction. Under the canopy of pillars I felt free to reflect upon the greatness of God, but in the coro I was led to more mundane thoughts, such as; 'where did they get that gold?'

There was one chapel which was beautiful in its conception and execution. The Blessed Sacrament chapel, at the heart of the cathedral, was set apart from the coro, I think due to restoration works which were taking place. It was in the majestic forest of stone, facing up towards the eastern walls. The Blessed Sacrament was presented simply, humbly with a crucifix and sanctuary lamp. I liked it there. It was possible to think about all the people who has used this place as a space for prayer. I could not sense the obvious divisions and struggles for power that dominated the rest of the building. The confusing thing about Cordoba is, I am not quite sure what God would make of it. In the simplicity of a quiet corner of devotion, it was possible to see that the history of bitterness, power and division over religion really was not 'The Plan'.

There are more pictures to follow: I am waiting on Gemma!!!!