Recently, Geoff Sigalet wrote this marvellous essay, “The Psyche of the Mountains.”
It’s partly a review of the new documentary “The Alpinist” about Canadian mountaineer Marc-Andre Leclerc and partly a broader meditation on the nature of the sport.
Go read Geoff’s essay and then check out the two-minute trailer for the film below:
Recently I was having dinner with a friend who spoke to me about Tadeusz Dajczer’s book The Gift of Faith.
My friend had found this among the most startling and edifying spiritual books he’d read. In particular, he had been struck by the inclusion of St. Bernadette’s “Testament of Gratitude.”
Written shortly before her death from illness at a young age, my friend initially thought this “testament” was rather sarcastic and facetious.
This is a throwback post to my Reflections on Rwanda Genocide Study Trip in May 2012
In May 2012, I travelled on the Reflections on Rwanda program, a two-week trip for Canadian students to visit the Republic of Rwanda and study the genocide that occurred there in 1994. The purpose for studying genocide is to gain insight into human nature through studying the extremes in human action. Listening to the stories of rescuers and survivors prompts me to study the virtues required to affirm the sanctity of human persons.
Confronting profound evil is a difficult experience that challenges my faith. We toured dozens of memorial sites throughout the country. Many of these sites were former churches where people had fled seeking refuge and peace. At each site, we saw hundreds of skulls and bones of victims. Looking at those skulls and bones, I thought about my own skull and my own bones. I thought about how these bones and skulls fall short of truly representing the victims. What the skulls and bones do emphasize is equality, but what they deemphasize is individuality. When I observed a display with rosaries and identity cards among the skulls, it made me think about the dynamism of the life that once animated those bodies that were so violently destroyed.
On the feast day of John Paul II, I am remembering this anecdote from my time in Poland:
One day, after breakfast, I was sitting in Starbucks and an elderly gentleman began speaking to me in Polish.
“I’m sorry, I don’t speak Polish,” I told him.
In his book, Patience with God: The Story of Zacchaeus Continuing In Us, Tomáš Halík has an intriguing chapter on Thérèse of Lisieux. In it, I read many things I hadn’t known about her and gained a completely novel perspective on her value.
Here are some selected excerpts:
This is a quick post to direct you to the story of Cyprien and Daphrose Rugumba, a Rwandan couple whose cause for canonization is underway.
This article in The Pillar tells the story of how Daphrose was a faithful Christian who raised her ten children in the faith despite her husband’s infidelity and the mockery he made of her witness and convictions.
As reported in aforementioned the article and also by the Emmanuel Community of which the couple eventually became members and founders of the Rwandan branch:
My mother sent me the snap accompanying this post of a page from a booklet she received when she went to hear the sounding of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.
I was curious to look up these various symbolic interpretations of the significance of the shofar. This list was devised by a rabbi from the late ninth-to-early tenth century.
I had heard Rabbi Jonathan Sacks recall how Maimonides considered the shofar as “God’s Alarm Clock“, but I had never before heard about the connection between the sounding of the shofar as a reminder of the resurrection of the dead.
Eliyahu Kitov’s article says, “The sounding of the shofar serves to remind us of the resurrection of the dead, as the verse [Isaiah 18:3] states: All those inhabitants of the world and those who dwell in the earth, when a sign is lifted upon the mountains you shall see and when the shofar is sounded you shall hear.”
I went and tried to read that chapter of Isaiah in context and I could not really figure out what it had to do with the resurrection of the dead.
I also tried to find other Jewish sources speaking to the importance of being reminded about resurrection on Rosh Hashanah and I didn’t really find anything.
The shofar can only be the spiritual wake-up call it’s meant to be if it’s understood what exactly we are being awoken to and for.
What difference would it make if we were reminded, even annually, to think about resurrection?
On the Feast Day of St. Martha, I am thinking about what I consider to be one of the most intriguing sentences in the New Testament – “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24)
This statement demonstrates the forcefulness and solidity of Jewish belief in an eventual resurrection of the dead.
Another pertinent section is 1 Corinthians 15 in which St. Paul discusses the importance of Christ having been raised from the dead saying, “If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.” (1. Cor. 15:14)
This is a really short post to direct you to this excellent commencement address delivered by Ryan T. Anderson.
He titled it, “‘He Knows What He Is About’: Living a Life That Matters”, which is derived from one of the most splendid quotations of John Henry Newman that Dr. Anderson quotes at the outset and on which my friends and I have been reflecting a lot in recent days.
Particularly of relevance to the theme of this blog, I was struck by how Dr. Anderson exhorted the high schoolers on multiple occasions throughout the address to contemplate the thoughts they might have on their deathbeds as a key to discerning how to live a life that matters.
Below are three short excerpts:
This evening I read a short book written by my friend and colleague’s grandmother.
In the brief memoir, Walk with Me: growing rich through relationships, author Judy Rae reflects on the experience of caring for her husband Joe while he developed Alzheimer’s.
Presented with honesty and infused with a faith, Rae offers a window into how caregiving can be a school in humanity.
Judy recounts the pain and sorrow of watching her husband lose his memory and she does not skirt the undeniably tragic dimensions of this disease.
“I have been told that when a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he is introduced to a world of loneliness, rejection, terror, confusion, misinformation, and termination. Can this tragedy bring with it any victory into our lives?” she asks.
Rae speaks about how Joe became embarrassed and humiliated by what he could no longer do or remember. Despite the continual accompaniment, affection, and affirmation of his wife, Joe’s feelings of uselessness regularly caused him to get frustrated with himself and even to cry.