Lent is coming! Full list of resources here, but take special note today, if you don’t mind, of these Stations of the Cross..and pass it on to your parish!
John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross, published by Ave Maria Press. This, again, is available as an actual book and in a digital version, in this case as an app. Go here for more information. (The illustrations are by Michael O’Brien)
A few years ago, I wrote a Stations of the Cross for young people called No Greater Love, published by Creative Communications for the Parish. They put it out of print for a while…but now it’s back!
Podcast listening? Not much of great interest this past week, since I’m mostly concentrating on that Couch to 5k thing. I’m up to Week 8! 28 minutes! (But that’s on an indoor track – we’ll see what happens when I am able to go outdoors again, given the harder surfaces and more, er, varied terrain outside.
So, Melvin lost me this week with Phenomenology. I tried – I really did, but listening to philosophy talk about Husserl, Heidegger and meaning through earphones while running with youth basketball going on below was pretty much a lost cause. What was interesting was this program on Zola in England. After the Dreyfus trial, Zola fled to London – by doing so, he enabled keeping the case open. While in England, he began work on his last series of books, the first of which was called Fecundity or Fruitfulness – and, although Zola is a hard slog (I read Lourdes – barely), the premise is fascinating and timely – in which Zola blames oppressive social and economic systems for discouraging the lower classes from reproducing, decrying contraception, abortion and child abandonment….
I’m currently reading The Colony, which is about the history of the leper colony at Molokai. The origins of the place are so sad, an example of incompetent and deceptive government action in the face of tragedy.
Related, but somewhat contrasting is this fascinating story that provided me with a brief excursion down the rabbit hole this past week:
On September 1, 1803, King Charles IV of Spain, who had lost one of his own children to smallpox, issued a royal order to all royal officers and religious authorities in his American and Asian domains, announcing the arrival of a vaccination expedition and commanding their support to
- vaccinate the masses free of charge,
- teach the domains how to prepare the smallpox vaccine, and
- organize municipal vaccination boards throughout the domains to record the vaccinations performed and to keep live serum for future vaccinations.
The expedition to vaccinate the population in South America against smallpox was a public health undertaking of staggering proportions. A small group set out by ship and horse to traverse present-day Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Bolivia, carrying the vaccine and administering it in villages and cities along the way. The territory was not only vast but also brutally harsh, with precipitous mountains, dense jungles, and uncharted rivers. The expedition traveled in primitive riverboats and on mules when the terrain was too rugged for horses.
First Destination: Puerto Rico
The María Pita left the Spanish harbor of La Coruña on November 30, 1803, with the smallpox vaccination expedition team consisting of a director, Dr. Francisco Xavier Balmis; an assistant director, Dr. Jóse Salvany Lleopart; and several assistants and paramedics. The ship reached Puerto Rico in February 1804 with its cargo of vaccine serum preserved between sealed glass plates; also onboard were 21 children from the orphanage at La Coruña who carried the vaccine through arm-to-arm vaccinations performed sequentially during the ship’s journey, and thousands of copies of a treatise describing how to vaccinate and preserve the serum, recounts José Rigau-Pérez in an article on the smallpox vaccine in Puerto Rico.
I’m going to try to do a learning post tonight, but in short, this week was a week of lots of science (properties of matter, heat transfer), art (printmaking) and puzzles (logic chapter of Beast Academy)
Also, here’s a fun thing: Hit the Lego store when the staff is unpacking a shipment and you just might find yourself the recipient of big bags of random pieces they don’t have room to stock in those bins on the back wall….and it might be your lucky day.
Through reading H. Allen’s Smith’s The Pig in the Barber Shop, I discovered a book called Father Juniper and the General, written in the late 50’s by another American ex-pat in Mexico named James Norman. It’s in the Don Camillo – Father Malachy genre – priest does battle with and outwits local civil/social authorities, and it’s amusing. I’m surprised I’d never heard of it, considering I thought I’d read or at least heard of every vaguely Catholic themed middle-brow book published in the US in the mid=century when I was editing the Loyola Classics, but apparently not!
I actually accompanied my kids to the movies the other day (they are old enough to go on their own, together now) – Big Hero 6, which was…good! As usual with movies today (get off my lawn!) the climactic battle goes on waaaaay too long, but the setting – a mythical more Far Eastern version of San Francisco – was fascinating and the animated characters were surprisingly well individuated.
Speaking of movies: over the holiday weekend, we watched Strangers on a Train, which I enjoyed for some fantastic set-pieces and Robert Walker’s compelling performance, and didn’t enjoy for the mostly-stiff other performances and off-putting amoral tone surrounding the murder of Granger’s wife and the “happy ending” of him and his paramour. I just thought that was so weird.
Also, The Trouble With Angels, which I hadn’t seen in a while, but is so good. Still. I had remembered the Hayley Mills’ character’s embrace of religious life as more of a surprise, and while it is a bit of a twist, the really observant viewer can see it coming, and her spiritual discomfort and awakening is sketched rather well, as she confronts her own fears about getting old and dying , encounters mercy again and again in the Rosalind Russel’s Mother Superior, and observes the ties of family among the sisters, a kind of family she’s never experienced herself. It’s based on a memoir called Life With Mother Superior by Jane Trahey, a female pioneer in advertising, and the Hayley Mills character is based on a friend of hers who really did go on to become a Dominican Sinsinawa!
Better Call Saul actually looks like it might be…good. When it was first floated, I thought, “Oh, no….” and when it was announced as a thing, I thought, “Not a good idea.” But in reading about the show’s premise, in which there are actually emotional stakes at work and seeing previews, I’m getting excited. I’ve read a couple of reviewers who opine that it’s better than BB…hard to imagine,but… Love the logo!