For The Prayers Of St. Gregory Of Narek (A Few Words For Wednesday) UPDATED

Grigor Narekatsi, Ms. 1568 (1173), Matenadaran, Yerevan, Armenia. Public Domain.

Grigor Narekatsi, Ms. 1568 (1173), Matenadaran, Yerevan, Armenia. Public Domain.

A few days ago, Pope Francis declared St. Gregory of Narek our newest Doctor of the Church. It appears that Grigor Narekatsi is a man of many talents. The hastily compiled list of his accomplishments on Wikipedia includes,

“monk, poet, mystical philosopher, theologian and saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church, born into a family of writers.”

From what I gather, he composed some very beautiful prayers that I look forward to pondering as a part of the Lenten triumvirate of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. [Read more...]

The Thanksgiving Holiday Isn’t Catholic, But It’s Looking Like William Shakespeare Was

So be thankful for that! Guess what else? There is a Jesuit angle that may unlock the mystery of genius’s religious background.

Writing for the Washington Post, Terence McCoy shares what was found when a First Folio of the Bard’s work was discovered in a French library.  Long ago, the metadata it had been catalogued under was in error as to its age, see? [Read more...]

Top Artists: Beyoncé, Al Green, Sam Rocha…Wait. Who?

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 4.00.25 PM A few days back, on the Feast of St. Augustine, Sam Rocha’s album was released. It’s been climbing the charts ever since. I told you guys it was good, didn’t I?

But what about other reviewers, you say? [Read more...]

I Watched “Noah,” And Didn’t Lose My Faith

Actually, Joe Six-Pack did the unthinkable and saw two (count ‘em!) movies this weekend. The first was for a date night with my wife, and the second was because of all the hullabaloo about Darren Aronofsky’s latest effort.

Since you’re dying to know what the first film was, lets get it out of the way first. [Read more...]

Because Tolkien and Lewis Took A Walk After Dinner

 

I had someone leave a comment on a post who lamented questioningly,

“After all, do Christians proselytize to others as they wish others would proselytize to them? The very notion is ridiculous.”

Below is a great video clip, courtesy of Kevin O’Brien’s Theater of the Word, Incorporated, that puts that statement to the test. Because we are called to spread the Good News in ways that appeal to all people. [Read more...]

Gone Readin’ Helena by Evelyn Waugh

Why haven’t I been posting much lately? You can blame Fr. Steve Grunow, who suggested the book you see above to me a few days ago. I’ve never read anything by Evelyn Waugh, and I’m not ashamed to say that for most of my life I figured Evelyn was a lady, and I wasn’t much interested in what she had to say.

Yeah, yeah, I’ve got me a college degree and all, and after I became a Catholic and snooped around a bit I learned that Evelyn was a man, a Catholic, and he wrote some great novels that were turned into classics for Masterpiece Theater. Still, I was about as excited to read anything written by him as I was interested in say…watching paint dry, or grass grow. Yawn.

But then I found that neat book about the True Cross by Louis de Combes, and Fr. Steve suggested Waugh’s book. I checked the catalog at the library, noted a copy was on the shelf, and I strolled over there and picked it up pronto. I haven’t been able to put it down since. Here’s a taste:

“Chlorus, is it true what they are saying in Ratisbon: that you are going to be Caesar?”

“Who say that?”

“The governor’s wife, the widow of the banker, all the ladies.”

“It may be true. Aurelian and I have spoken of it before. After the battle, he spoke of it again. He has to go to Syria now, to tidy up trouble there. After that he will return to Rome for his triumph. Then we shall see.”

“Do you want it?”

“It’s not what I want, ostler; it’s what Aurelian wants that counts, he and the army and the empire. It is nothing to be shy of, just another, larger command—Gaul, the Rhine, Britain, possibly Spain. The empire’s too big for one man; that’s been proved. And we need a secure succession, a second-in-command who’s been trained to the job, knows the ropes, can step in straight away when the command falls vacant; not leave each army to declare for its own general and fight it out as they’ve done lately. Aurelian is going to talk to the senators about it when we go to Rome.”

See? Clear thinking like that is what I was just talking about a few days back. And does everything go according to plan? As if!

I’m not going to tell you anything more about the book but this: Helena has just embarked on her quest to find the True Cross and you can forget about me posting anything remotely intelligible until I finish this book. Color me gone!

Jesus Goes Mainstream, Classical Music Edition

Over the last several weeks here on Music for Mondays, I’ve been exploring Jesus in mainstream culture through music. So far I’ve covered pop hits from the 1960′s and 70′s, as well as the 1980′s up through the early 2000′s. Last week I took you back to the times of Spain shortly after the Protestant Reformation.

Yes, I’m zig-zagging all over the timeline. For this week, I’m moving forward a bit starting in 1723 with pieces by Bach, then to the mid 1700′s with Handel (that’s him in the portrait above) and ending in 1825 with something by Franz Schubert.

First up is a selection that I always remember fondly because my wife chose it for our wedding. What, you too? Ain’t it grand?

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, J.S. Bach. Performed to a standing ovation of proud parents and admirers, kids from the Joven Orquesta del Club Argentino do Bach’s piece justice here,

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St. John’s Passion, J.S. Bach (1724). Performed by The Chamber Orchestra of Kazan State Conservatoire. You know what is neat about this performance from Russia? It’s so well done, and since the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima was last Friday, what better than to hear classical Jesus music from Russia? Thank God folks are able to worship there again! And play music like this too.

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St. Matthew’s Passion, J.S. Bach (1727). Bach also wrote a Passion from the gospel of Matthew. Possibly the gospels of Mark and Luke as well. This selection is performed by the Brandenburg Concerto with tenor Martyn Hill. I love the oboe in this piece, don’t you?

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Behold the Lamb of God, George Frideric Handel. This is performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah.” Handel wrote this in 1741, and revised it in 1754. FYI, Handel is buried in Westminster Abbey and has a feast day on the Episcopal Church calender.

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And the Glory of the Lord, George Frideric Handel. Also from “Messiah,” this time performed by the Bow Valley Chorus, from Alberta, Canada.

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Ave Maria, Franz Schubert This was played at my wedding too (I married a Catholic girl, remember?). From Schubert’s Lady in the Lake, based on poems by Sir Walter Scott, this is the prayer of the character Ellen Douglas, sung to Our Lord’s (and our) Mother. Led by violinist Joshua Bell, this is the Verbier Fesitval Chamber Orchestra, with guest Angelika Kirchschlager as the mezzo soprano. Bravo!

That’s about all the time we have for today. I promise more for next Monday. Ciao!


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