Saturday, November 04, 2006

Don Giovanni, a cenar teco m'invitasti e son venuto!

Christina and I went downtown last night to experience Mozart's Don Giovanni, a production of the Houston Grand Opera at the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts. We had a great time, and we of course loved the opera. Not bad for our first time! We had seats up in the loge section, which afforded us with a really great view of the stage as well as the orchestra below. And surely, the cultural and historical significance of this opera was not to be missed. So much fun!!

If you're interested, here is a Playbill Arts article about this production, with some photos of the performance.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

St. Catherine of Genoa, Treatise on Purgatory

... from the Treatise on Purgatory, by St. Catherine of Genoa, a most beautiful devotional read concerning purgatory and the holy souls embraced in God's perfect, divine love.
I perceive there to be so much conformity between God and the soul that when He sees it in the purity in which His Divine Majesty created it He gives it a burning love, which draws it to Himself, which is strong enough to destroy it, immortal though it be, and which causes it to be so transformed in God that it sees itself as though it were none other than God. Unceasingly He draws it to Himself and breathes fire into it, never letting it go until He has led it to the state whence it came forth, that is to the pure cleanliness in which it was created.

When with its inner sight the soul sees itself drawn by God with such loving fire, then it is melted by the heat of the glowing love for God, its most dear Lord, which it feels overflowing it. And it sees by the divine light that God does not cease from drawing it, nor from leading it, lovingly and with much care and unfailing foresight, to its full perfection, doing this of His pure love. But the soul, being hindered by sin, cannot go whither God draws it; it cannot follow the uniting look with which He would draw it to Himself. Again the soul perceives the grievousness of being held back from seeing the divine light; the soul's instinct too, being drawn by that uniting look, craves to be unhindered. I say that it is the sight of these things which begets in the souls the pain they feel in Purgatory. Not that they make account of their pain; most great though it be, they deem it a far less evil than to find themselves going against the will of God, whom they clearly see to be on fire with extreme and pure love for them.
God is merciful. His grace brings about our sanctification and salvation in Him, and it proceeds to complete the job even after death, so long as we desire, moved as it were by Him, to live in that grace and love here on earth.
Feast of All Saints, Feast of All Souls

These two great feast days have grown to be immensely important to my general spiritual life. Ever since becoming a Catholic in 1997, my appreciation and understanding concerning the mystical reality of the Communion of Saints and, indeed, the communion of all the baptized in the grace of Christ has grown in leaps and bounds. The realization that has most fostered my devotion to the holy souls in Purgatory is the realization that the connection we share with them and with the saints in heaven is not unlike that connection that all the baptized share, particularly those of us living here on the earth. We are all baptized into the same Christ, into His death and resurrection.

Sometimes it's easy to take our connection with the saints for granted. Our divine patrons and protectors, unceasingly offering prayer for us before God's throne. They behold the beatific vision, truly. And also those at God's doorstep, being purged of whatever remains of their sinful, selfish, and earthly inclinations after death before being able to completely behold the fullness of God's beauty and embrace. We have a connection with these souls that transcends the flesh. And our connection with each other really is no different. Yes, we interact with each other in the flesh, and though we do not yet behold the beatific vision, we should live with an appreciation of the profound spiritual unity we share in Christ. And so, knowing this connection, what is there to fear when one of us dies in God's grace? Yes, we can no longer behold one another in the flesh, but the spiritual reality is not destroyed since we know and believe that Christ conquered death.

So let us always and unceasingly offer prayer for both the living and the dead... and let us ask the dead, those who have new life in Christ, to offer prayer for us.
UCSB Daily Nexus & California Elections

Some interesting things...

My opinion of the UCSB Daily Nexus is not very high... and this is largely due to many, many reasons, not the least of which is their recent embrace of obscene and pornographic writing over the past couple of years. But I want to comment on a couple of their reflections of some of the California issues in next week's election.

First, it's interesting that they are endorsing Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. That's the first time I've seen them support a Republican of any stripe... not that it's saying much.

But here's what they say about Proposition 85, which will require parental notification for minors seeking abortions in the state:
This proposition puts unnecessary pressure on young pregnant girls and could lead these individuals to seek illegal abortions. While it would be nice if all parents could be involved in their children?s lives, certain exceptions prove parental notification to be dangerous. Prop 85 does not account for abusive parents who would kick their daughters out of their homes or for victims of incest.
Well, that's just it, isn't it. If a girl lives in an abusive situation at home, what is the alternative? Why it would be the status quo. Give the girl the (dangerous, unsafe, medically unregulated, yet legal) abortion she seeks, and then return her back into that abusive living environment... no questions asked. Not a chance - that solution is not sufficient. If a young woman is in an abusive situation, then she needs to be removed from that harmful environment. I believe Prop. 85 actually facilitates this rather than protecting the status quo. Yes, it involves the law. But protecting children often does -- that's why we have the law and child protection.

(Of course many of us already believe, as the early American feminists believed, that abortion, even when it's legal, is the ultimate form of oppression of women).

The Nexus then endorses Diane Feinstein (no surprise there), saying this:
Feinstein has, for the most part, championed everything that Californians believe in. She is for education, the environment, a woman?s right to choose and embryonic stem cell research. Meanwhile, Mountjoy does not embody California?s generally liberal attitude.
Is California really that liberal? It may surprise you to know that Kerry won California by only 55%. Would you call that a landslide victory? It is true that California's largest cities generally come out in favor of abortion. But it isn't generally true for California as a whole. Of course, if you oppose abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, you must oppose education and the environment as well, right? ;p Of course, those of us who endorse medically proven stem-cell research that doesn't involve the destruction of human embryos are told to "Shut up! There's no room for discussion, here!" Bleh...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Count Dracula goes to Washington

Last week we were flipping channels on the television and landed on some show about vampirism... Apparently folks in Transylvania are upset with Bram Stoker for ruining the reputation of their national hero, Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. And they don't like the whole vampire-lore popular culture surrounding Dracula that Americans seem to perpetuate. "How would you like it", they say, "if we made George Washington into an evil vampire?" Well, I'd have to say, that'd be totally awesome! Of course, can you really compare George Washington to a man known for impaling vast enemy armies on a pike? Either way...

Have a happy and fun Eve of All Hallows! In whatever you do, don't forget that this day means nothing without the Feast of All Saints, Nov. 1st.


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