Thursday, May 24, 2012

Infertitily as a School of Prayer

I've read a couple of very thoughtful blog posts lately that have exposed the tendency of Catholic believers, including those who deeply and sincerely love the Lord, to adhere to the fallacy of magical thinking, which supposes that if I live a good life and do good things, good things will happen to me. Here is another, by a theologian who, with his wife, has struggled with unexplained infertility:

In contemplating the silence of the cross, the image of Christ stretched out in love, I could feel my own will stretched out gradually to exist in harmony with the Father’s. . . . And as my will was stretched out, I found . . .  that the “calling” of infertility has made me aware of the lonely, the vulnerable, the needy, and allowed me to perceive the true gift of a human life.  My meditation upon the image of the cross gave me the strength to go forward with the process of adoption; it sustains me as we continue to wait for a child; a child, who may need more love than we can ever give, more care than we can imagine; to enter into the suffering of the widow, the immigrant, the lonely, who also comes to Mass with a heart deeply wounded. . . . And the more I enter into prayer, the more I see that in these grace-filled moments, [the message of the angel] Gabriel has already come.

This deep wounding of humanity is something that's always been close to my own thoughts, and it's even closer now, as my family grows in love for the little person who, were it not for the strange miracle that is adoption, would have been cast out from all the circles of love and friendship offered by his own culture because he was born with a visible sign of our universal woundedness.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Poor Baby: Heather King on Abortion

As I've mentioned before, this blog used to attract some very vocal haters. I'm not sure why, but I think it may have had something to do with my status as a post-abortive woman and a revert -- almost a convert really, since I'd been raised in a very catechesis-light progressive-Catholic milieu. It seemed to me, from some of their barbed comments and vicious personal emails, that these readers believed that my gratitude at being forgiven my sins was insufficient because I had not demonstrated a close enough affiliation with the political right, and, as has become more and more apparent in the years that I've been writing this blog, many orthodox Catholics do align themselves tightly with this particular political philosophy, in spite of the fact that it has little to do with Catholicism. But if you've been reading this blog for more than five minutes, you already know that this is not a political blog, and that I'm not that personally interested in politics.

When I read Father Robert Barron's interview with Heather King about her own post-abortive healing, I wondered if the haters were going to get in a twist about her, too. Maybe they already have, but let's hope not. Most of us here love Heather and wish her well. And most of us, while we don't necessarily rush out to take suffering by the hand, know that those who suffer deeply, and who do so with an awareness of suffering's redemptive nature, are not only blessed, but are also a blessing to those around them.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Voices That Have Gone, Part 12: RIP DFD

The greatest exponent of German art song of our age, and perhaps of any age, has died.

Otepoti and I have sometimes disagreed about the great Fischer-Dieskau. My personal preference is for a more direct expressive style than his -- one which, through the singer's masterful use of his body, allows an unfettered and elemental emotional resonance to join with the music; this may be heterodox, but I prefer Hans Hotter and Dame Janet Baker in this repertoire. Fischer-Dieskau could be too cerebral at times, too nuanced; at his worst, his singing lectured the listener, so to speak. But still, I loved him. Few singers, living or dead, could approach the humanity with which he sang.

The Times article notes that, unlike his frequent collaborator Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Fischer-Dieskau never had to defend a decision to join the Nazi Party; he never joined. Like the Pope, he was conscripted into the German army, and while he was at the front, his cognitively-disabled brother was killed by the Nazis in one of their many institutions for this purpose. Fischer-Dieskau became a prisoner of war, and made his first Lieder recordings only days after being repatriated (because of food shortages, he sang without so much, I recall reading, as a sip of coffee in the morning of the recording session). I daresay that his emergence on the international music scene did much, in intangible ways, to rehabilitate the world's perception of Germany in the post-war period.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was a great artist, and I surmise he was a great man as well, since we may be recognized as who we truly are by the good we do in the world. May he be rejoicing in heaven as I write this.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Not Sheer Suffering

I'm on enforced light blogging while I struggle against some freelance deadlines. In the meantime, I want to recommend a blog written by a friend of mine. 

The author of Followed By Glory is not only one of the bravest women I know, but also a rare instance of a Christian truly striving to live her life in radical surrender to God's will. She illustrates Anne Morrow Lindbergh's axiom that "sheer suffering" is not a teacher, for "[if] suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable."

In addition, she is someone I admire.

I will have more to say here in a couple of weeks if I make my deadlines. In the meantime, all my readers are in my prayers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Repost: Mother's Day

On Sunday evening, after the party ends
and family have gone, you’d love to say
how you can’t bear this gathering each May.
Your thoughtful husband usually sends
a rose bouquet, but changed his mind this year:
a special gift, it makes your finger shine
with emerald and ruby. “Too much wine,”
he banters as he wipes away your tear.
But you and I know, mother, what he can’t -
your April foolishness; how bit by bit
they snipped me out of you, took care of It;
how through the years I’ve been your confidante,
the reason for this night’s unraveling,
the garnet missing from the mother’s ring.

-- Catherine Chandler

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"I cry a lot because I miss people . . . "

I have nothing now but praise for my life. I'm not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more.... There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready.

His words remind me of Holden Caulfield's proscription against telling others what's in your heart, because "if you do, you start missing everybody."

May the great writer and artist Maurice Sendak be finding things more beautiful than he ever imagined in the life after this one. May he know infinite mercy.

(Above: the poster for the Houston Grand Opera's 1980 production of The Magic Flute, designed by Sendak, in which Mozart is greeted by the Three Spirits.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

On Dating a Man Who Wants His Future Wife to Homeschool

[E]xpecting a woman to act in the place of an entire educational institution and raise kids at the same time is, like camping, deeply irrational. I'm not telling anyone to not homeschool; all I'm trying to do is point out is that men who have an idea in their heads about it should probably put some actual thought into what is or is not a reasonable expectation to have from a potential date.

If I said, "I want to find a man who is willing to live in the woods in a tent, away from civilization and running water, for the sake of the KIDS," would that be reasonable?

This seems to be the week that sacred cows are tipped by smart young Catholic women writers.