October 31, 2016

Vatican II Speaks To The Election

Maybe like a lot of people, I find the choices for the next president of the USA disappointing. Even if I had bothered to ask for an absentee ballot--I'm registered at home in a very blue state and so I didn't think it mattered much--I don't know if I could vote for either of them.

October 27, 2016

The Dashboard Clock Changing Difficulty

This weekend the clocks turn back here in Italy. Here they call Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time ora solare and ora legale, respectively. 'Solar time' and 'legal time.' The change in the fall is a week before that in the USA. Not that this affects me much, but I do notice that regularly expected emails start to arrive at different times, and I have to remember the difference when tuning into radio programs from home. In the spring the difference is two weeks.

So I was reminded of a cute story. One of the senior friars would go through some stress twice a year because he could never remember how to change the time on his watch. It was of the inexpensive, digital variety. Brethren were consulted, manuals were searched for online, etc., and eventually the biannual crisis would be resolved.

So one time I suggested to him, given that his watch was of a very inexpensive kind, why didn't he just get another one. He could set one to EST and the other to DST, and then twice a year he would only have to switch watches.

The friar seemed to appreciate the solution. But then he raised the following objection:

"But next I will need two cars."

October 15, 2016

Lazy Capuchin Friars

One of the brethren brought to my attention this excerpt from William Dean Howells's Venetian Life.
The islands near Venice are all small, except the Giudecca (which is properly a part of the city), the Lido, and Murano. The Giudecca, from being anciently the bounds in which certain factious nobles were confined, was later laid out in pleasure-gardens, and built up with summer-palaces. The gardens still remain to some extent; but they are now chiefly turned to practical account in raising vegetables and fruits for the Venetian market, and the palaces have been converted into warehouses and factories. This island produces a variety of beggar, the most truculent and tenacious in all Venice, and it has a convent of lazy Capuchin friars, who are likewise beggars. To them belongs the church of the Redentore, which only the Madonnas of Bellini in the sacristy make worthy to be seen.

October 14, 2016

The Beard From Head To Heart

Recently I was in an email conversation about an occasional topic on this blog, Capuchin beards and Capuchin beard-growing.

One of the participants offered a link to an interesting Jewish take on the spiritual meaning of beard-growing. Rabbi Aron Moss writes:
One of the greatest struggles in life is to live up to our ideals. ... Between theory and practice there is a huge gulf. It is one thing to have good intentions, but that is far from actually doing good. ... This is what the beard represents. The beard is hair that grows down from the head to the rest of the body. It is the bridge between mind and heart, thoughts and actions, theory and practice, good intentions and good deeds.
Read the whole thing here.

When I was a kid the Chabad-Lubavitchers had a van that they would park in town in order to attract unobservant Jews and therein convert them. People called it the 'Mitzvah Tank.'

October 1, 2016

Quid Pro Quo

On a Saturday morning one of the General Councilors of the Order was mopping his room. As I passed in the hallway, he remarked that in the olden days the General Definitors (as they were until recently called) would bring along to Rome a brother famulus to assist them with such things.

As I thought upon this as I started to clean my own room--it is a duty explicitly defined by the Statutes of the General Curia and customarily fulfilled on a Saturday--I began to wonder if it wasn't because the Church has largely abandoned the Roman Canon (e.g. Eucharistic Prayer I), and so no longer prays pro famulis, that the brothers were no longer found ready to be famuli.

One gives himself to obedience for the sake of some spiritual benefit, of course. And if the spiritual benefit disappears, what use is the obedience?