POETRY: My Amusing Despair by Scott Cairns

September 3, 2017

I confess that I am not a modern man. As a modern man I am a little flawed. Raimundo is much too happy. Many times, more times than I would care to admit to you, I have suffered from this unforgivable lack, this absence. All around me, poets tearing at their bright blouses, tearing at their own bare flesh. All night long—their tortured singing. And still I have suffered an acute lack of despair. Why is that? Is Raimundo stupid? Am I unfeeling? Doesn’t the bleak weight of the north ever pinch my shoulders? Well, no, not often. And when it does—which is not very often—I can’t help feeling a little detached. As if I had somewhere else to go. As if I were a spectator, a dayworker watching the slow clock. I have an interest in [...]

LENT: My Night Knows No Darkness, by Karl Rahner

March 5, 2015

From The Mystical Way in Everyday Life Even today, the liturgical year of the church has a time dedicated to penance.  Does this not seem strange?  We certainly understand that in former centuries such a time was considered necessary for the management of the spiritual and the religious life.  People back then were full of life’s joy, satisfied and carefree, and they celebrated Mardi Gras in the streets and laughed the laughter that still came from the heart.  Therefore, they could presumably experience a brief period of recollection, of contemplative seriousness, and of ascetic restraint from life’s luxuries as a beneficial change from everyday life and for the good of the soul. What about us?  Do we not consider the [...]

SATURDAY READING: Despair by Joyce Carol Oates

November 1, 2014

From Deadly Sins What mysterious cruelty in the human soul; to have invented despair as a “sin”!  Like the Seven Deadly Sins employed by the medieval Roman Catholic Church to terrify the faithful into obedience, despair is most helpfully imagined as a mythical state.  It has no quantifiable existence; it “is” merely allegory, yet no less lethal for the fact.  Unlike other sins, however, despair is by tradition the sole sin that cannot be forgiven: it is the conviction that one may be damned absolutely, thus a refutation of the Christian savior and a challenge to God’s infinite capacity for forgiveness.  The sins for which one may be forgiven – pride, anger, lust, sloth, avarice, gluttony, envy – are [...]

SATURDAY READING: Hope — The Art Of Patient Waiting by Paula Huston

March 8, 2014

From By Way of Grace When I want to rest my heart, wearied by the darkness which surrounds it, by the memory of the luminous country to which I aspire, my torment redoubles; it seems to me that the darkness, borrowing the voice of sinners, says mockingly to me, “You are dreaming about the light.” Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1973-1897) A long-ago wish had come true: I was finally in England, a place I’d wanted to visit since I was a fairy-tale-reading child.  It was as lovely as I’d always imagined it would be, with its meandering hedges, its yellow fields of rape, its Jersey cows and bunchy sheep, its great silent stone cathedrals.  Britain, with all its historical riches – how easily I could settle down for the rest of my life [...]