Baseball Season begins

Sure, I’m a day late but my Nationals had their game in Cincinnati pushed back to Friday so I forgot to do this yesterday. We’ve got six new Managers and five of them do not have any experience managing, it will be an interesting year for all involved.

First off predictions it seems like most of the teams from last year will be making it back again.
AL East- Yankees and Red Sox
AL Central- Indians
AL West- Astros

NL East- Nationals
NL Central- Cubs
NL West- Dodgers

Maybes: Twins or Angels as the other AL Wild Card.  As for the NL Wild Cards not really sure some are positing that the Phillies are back other say the Mets have a team or the D-back and Cardinals

Second: Shohei Ohtani will be one of the biggest stories of the season, Ohtani was a dual threat in Japan for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters pitching and hitting. This past winter he made the move to the MLB and the LA Angels where he will be pitching and playing as designated hitter. Ohtani will be pitching on Sunday and there have been discussion of how he will be used.

It is also the first day of the Divine Mercy Novena.

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Deus Caritas Est: Part Four

This week we finish up going through Pope Benedict’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est. The focus this week is the conclusion of the document.

The conclusion starts with Benedict directing us to the Saints. He starts with one of that everyone should know Martin of Tours who illustrates the irreplaceable value of the individual testimony to charity when he offered his cloak to a poor man.  Then he moves on to Anthony the Abbot and the whole monastic community and loads of others, like Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, John of God, Camillus of Lellis who founded the Camillians or Clerics Regular, Minsters to Sick which was basically the Red Cross before it existed, Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac who were the co-founders of the Daughters of Charity, Giuseppe B. Cottolengo who formed many orders which still work together in activities focused on communicating God’s love for the poorest, John Bosco who founded orders which focused on poor children, Luigi Orione a student of Don Bosco and founder of the Son of Divine Providence who are dedicated in helping the poor, Mother Teresa of Calcutta to name but a few—stand out as lasting models of social charity for all people of good will. All of these people have done wonders and provided care to the less fortunate, we need to follow their example. Benedict picks out the example par excellence Mary, the mother of Jesus and mirror of holiness. Mary is great because she wants to magnify the Lord this can be seen in the Magnificat.   As we can pray or sing during Vespers “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” Benedict traces this throughout the life of Mary from the Visitation to Pentecost.

His Holiness make note that the lives of the Saints don’t end when they die but continue in heaven with God. One thing is clear that as we draw closer to God we cannot withdraw from society, but become closer to it. At his Passion Jesus turned to his beloved disciple saying “Behold, your mother!” This is Mary and we are all the beloved disciple, Mary is our mother and she shows us what love is and whence it draws its origin and its constantly renewed power. This is what love is, let us all have to courage of Mary to say Yes to God’s call in our lives. As well as being open to the world although it seems like a horrible place currently.

Stations of the Cross

As we enter the holiest of weeks of the Church year Holy Week we turn to the Stations of the Cross. Now this is a fairly old tradition in the church with it dating back to somewhere in the mid to late 300s, it originated with the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. The Via Dolorosa, the way of grief/sorrow/suffering, a pilgrimage site which runs through the city of Jerusalem there have been some alternate routes and there continue to be today. It covers the 14 stations of the cross, nine of which are on the route and five are located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  In the middle ages the Franciscans made outdoor shrines in Europe to duplicate the experience with seven to thirty stations on an approach to a church. It took until 1686 when Pope Innocent XI said that the Franciscans could have stations in their churches. In 1731, Clement XII expanded this to all church although Franciscans needed to erect them and it wasn’t until 1862 that the right was extended to all bishops in the church.

There are two sets of the Stations, the Traditional set that most of us know and the Scriptural one which the Pope does on Good Friday. The Scriptural Way of the Cross were established by Pope John Paul II in 1991 as a way to add nuance to an understanding of the Passion. The Scriptural Way was introduced because of the 14 stations in the Traditional Way only eight can be found in the Scripture.

The Traditional one are as follows

  1. Pilate condemns Jesus to die
  2. Jesus accepts his cross
  3. Jesus falls for the first time
  4. Jesus meets his mother, Mary
  5. Simon helps carry the cross
  6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
  7. Jesus falls for the second time
  8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
  9. Jesus falls for the third time
  10. Jesus is stripped of his clothes
  11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
  12. Jesus dies on the cross
  13. Jesus is taken down from the cross
  14. Jesus is placed in the tomb

The Scriptural one are as follows

  1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane;
  2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested;
  3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin;
  4. Jesus is denied by Peter;
  5. Jesus is judged by Pilate;
  6. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns;
  7. Jesus takes up his cross;
  8. Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross;
  9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem;
  10. Jesus is crucified;
  11. Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief;
  12. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other;
  13. Jesus dies on the cross; and
  14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.

A fifteenth station, the Resurrection can be added to both of these

Bugsy Malone (1976)

Now Bugsy Malone is a movie that is very unique, to start off it is a musical loosely based on events in New York and Chicago from the early 1920s to 1931 during Prohibition, specifically Al Capone and Bugs Moran. The content is lightened up for the children who are the only actors in the film, most of which were under the age of 16. The film has a wide variety of people in it from the likes of Jodie Foster, who won two BAFTAs for her role (with Taxi Driver), and Scott Baio to the Florrie Dugger and Jeffery Stevens.  The film itself was very popular in the UK and Japan but didn’t receive the same notice in America. It is 353rd on the Empire list of 500 best films from 2008 and 19th of the 100 greatest musicals chosen by Channel 4 viewers in 2003 as well as being one of the most screened films in secondary schools in the UK. The film eventually was adapted for stage.  I first learned about this in “Crocodile” the third episode of fourth series of Black Mirror which featured a song at the end of the episode. Spoilers to follow.

The film begins with a member of Fat Sam’s gang getting “splurged” by members of Dandy Dan’s gang, using rapid-fire cream-shooting “splurge guns” (this was to make the film children friendly). Fat Sam (John Cassisi) introduces us to Bugsy Malone (Scott Baio) as well as Blousey Brown (Florrie Dugger), an aspiring singer who wants to audition for Fat Sam’s speakeasy. Bugsy runs into Blousey and is smitten at once. Fat Sam sends his gang to try and find some of these “splurge guns” but this ends up not so well as they are splurged. We find out Sam’s girlfriend Tallulah (Jodie Foster) is the lead singer at Sam’s Club, she flirts with Bugsy and plants a kiss on him when Blousey shows up for an audition.  She gets hired, but refuses to speak with Bugsy. Sam gets Bugsy to drive him to meet with Dandy Dan, but it turns out to be a trap. After safety getting Fat Sam out of there he gives Bugsy $200. Bugsy and Blousey reconcile and Bugsy promises to take her to Hollywood. Bugsy get beat up and his money stolen he is saved by Leroy Smith, a black tramp with a talent for boxing. Bugsy brings Leroy to Cagey Joe to help train him. Sam calls up Bugsy for another small job offering him $400 to steal some “splurge guns”. Bugsy gets the guns with the help of a soup kitchen filled with down and out workers. They bring them back to the speakeasy just before Dandy Dan’s gang show up there is a huge “splurge gun” fight with everyone getting covered with cream, both gangs realize that they can all be friends, and Bugsy and Blousey leave for Hollywood.

That is the plot more or less. On top of this remember it’s a musical as well so we’ve got some crazy music from Paul Williams with adults singing the songs with them coming from the kids voices. Looking back on the film both Paul Williams and director Alan Parker aren’t sure if this was the best idea. If you are in for a weird film this is one to look up. It’s got some real cool things in it as well like those cars are pretty awesome, they are peddle cars that look like old cars. As well as the idea of having kids play all the roles I doubt that anyone would have approved of this if it were made today. It is by far the best G-rated gangster film I have ever seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They realize they can all be friends, and Bugsy and Blousey leave for Hollywood.

Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord

The final Sorrowful Mystery is the Crucifixion of the Lord and focuses on the death of Jesus. It can be found in all the Gospels and it is mentioned several times in the Letters as well. This can also be found in some other non-Biblical books like Tacitus and Josephus as well as in the Babylonian Talmud, it is also mentioned in the Koran where Jesus isn’t Crucified but raised by Allah unto heaven.  So Jesus carried the cross and we have the Stations of the Cross which highlight these events, eventually getting to Calvary or Golgotha where he was stripped from his clothes and offered wine mixed with myrrh or gall to drink. Jesus was hung between two thieves with a sign saying Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.

The fruit of the mystery is Perseverance in faith, grace for a holy death and Forgiveness. This has quite a few fruits. We touch on the Cardinal Virtue of Fortitude as well as the Gift of from the Holy Spirit. It’s pretty great let us all pray for a holy death. As well as the courage to ask for forgiveness of all that we’ve done wrong in our lives to others and what not.

Deus Caritas Est: Part Two

As we have had the past two weeks it is time to explore Pope Benedict’s first Encyclical. In case you forgot it focuses on Love. Last week I went through the Introduction, now we are going to get into Part One of the Encyclical, this section is titles The Unity of Love in Creation and in Salvation History.

To begin it tackles the basic fact that we begin with a simple problem with the word “love” as it has become one of the most frequently used and misused of words, a word to which we attach quite different meanings. Benedict dives into it with the three Greek words for love, eros, philia (the love of friendship) and agape, there is another storge (familiar love) but this is rarely used in ancient texts so it’s not talked about, pointing out that the Greek Old Testament used eros only twice while in the New Testament it is mostly found as agape, which Benedict points out is infrequently used in Greek, and John loved using philia.

This turns philosophical by quoting Nietzche “Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it, certainly, but degenerated to Vice” Benedict goes and looks at how eros was seen in the pre-Christian world. He points to the Greeks who “considered eros principally as a kind of intoxication…process of being overwhelmed by divine power, to experience supreme happiness”, Virgil is know for his “Omnia vincit amor et nos cedamus amori” (Love conquers all let us, too, yield to love), and there were many fertility cults along with “sacred prostitution” of sorts in temples. So eros was celebrated as divine power, as fellowship with the Divine, but it oddly lacked the human. This is what the Old Testament was arguing about you need body and soul to experience eros and not a degradation but a maturity of the body. Sure the Church in the past has been opposed to the body, just look at St. Paul’s writing and his body (sarx)/spirit (pneuma) debate, and it still sort of exists today. Benedict takes this here and goes into the commodification of love/ sex as that is what most people look at it now as a thing you can buy and sell, just look at the internet and see the extant of the porn that can be found, for sale and for free. We now considers our bodies and sexuality as the purely material part of ourselves, to be used and exploited at will.

Benedict changes course here and goes into the Old Testament looking at the Song of Songs/Solomon/Canticles. Sure we don’t hear from this book very often but it’s a book of love songs. Benedict notes that in Hebrew there are two words used for love dodim (love that is still insecure, indeterminate and searching) and ahabà (I give/love) this was translated by the Greeks as agape. Love is now a concern for someone else. This gets a bit out there offering different ways to look at the words  eros, is used to indicate “worldly” love or “ascending” love or possessive love and agape, being used to indicate love grounded in and shaped by faith, or “descending” love or oblative love. The Pope gives a great thing here and says that these two types of love can never be completely separated, as anyone who wants to get love must want to give love. This can be seen in the story of Jacob’s ladder where love can be seen as an inseparable connection between ascending and descending love, between eros which seeks God and agape which passes on the gift received. It is nicely summed up in this passage “Fundamentally, “love” is a single reality, but with different dimensions; at different times, one or other dimension may emerge more clearly. Yet when the two dimensions are totally cut off from one another, the result is a caricature or at least an impoverished form of love.”

We dive back into the Bible and The Shema. Looking at the Bible we can see God loves, and his love can be called eros, but at the same time it is also agape. This turns to Jesus eventually as he is the combination of eros and agape. The Eucharistic feast is a prime example “This is my Body”…”This is my blood” we have been given so much and in this feast we all become one.  Let us remember The Great Commandment to love one another for Love can be “commanded” because it has first been given.

As The Beatles said “And in the end/The love you take/Is equal to the love you make.”

Carrying of the Cross

The fourth sorrowful mystery is Carrying the Cross it can be found in all the Gospels (Matthew 27:31–33, Mark 15:20–22, Luke 23:26–32 and John 19:16–18), but only John specifically mentions a cross and all but John mention Simon the Cyrene, who helped carry the cross. In a couple of weeks we will hear this story at Church several time. Jesus takes the cross, although there is some disagreement as to if it was a whole cross as we see in art or rather just the crossbar as many modern scholars believe. Jesus takes the cross and then we have the whole Stations of the Cross, more on that later.

The fruit of this mystery is Patience. This is something that we all could use a lot more of in the world today. All to often do we need/want everything to be done immediately. Society has trained us to want everything done as quick as possible but we need to take some time. Patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and we should continue to ask for patience in our lives.

Trois couleurs : Blanc (1994)

Blanc is the second of the well regarded Three Colors Trilogy by Krzysztof Kieślowski. The first one is Blue based on Liberty (liberté), this one is White and based on Equality (egalité), and the next one Red is based on Fraternity (fraternité). Roger Ebert calls it an “anti-comedy between the anti-tragedy (Blue) and the anti-romance (Red)”, which seems to be the best description of the film that I can find. Spoilers to follow.

This time around the main character is a shy man Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), an immigrant from Poland. We meet him before going into a divorce hearing and despite his limited knowledge of French he learns that, his wife, Dominique (Julie Delpy), doesn’t love him and that the reason for the divorce is that the marriage hasn’t been consummated. Humiliated by his wife Karol has lost everything but a 2 franc coin. He is left to busk in the Métro de Paris where another Pole, Mikołaj (Janusz Gajos). recognizes a song Karol is playing on his comb harmonica and they become friends. Mikolaj offers Karol a job to kill someone. They make their way back to Poland with Karol smuggled in a suitcase. Now back in Poland Karol become a wealthy man and decides to humiliate his ex-wife to get back at her for all that she did to drive him from Paris.

The Shema

Yesterday, I tossed out the Shema while talking about Deus Caritas Est and just went on offering no real explanation or anything on it. The Shema is a prayer in the Jewish faith that is a daily declaration of faith.  It is called the Shema because it begins Shema Yisrael or Hear, O Israel. This is prayed when “you lie down and rise up” so at night and in the morning. It is also prayed before going to bed, although that is usually just the first part. If you don’t understand Hebrew you can say it in your vernacular but make sure to carefully articulate and enunciate the words with no interruptions during the prayer. .

 

It consists of three paragraphs: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41.

To pray you cover your eyes with your right hand for the first verse.
Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad
Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One
the next line is whispered (as it is not in the Torah at all)
Baruch sheim k’vod malchuto l’olam vaed.
Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever

Then it is time for the Vahavta which finished up the first section.  This begins “You Shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.”  It also reminds us to remember the commandments and to pass them on to our children.  It moves on the V’haya im shamoa which comes from Deuteronomy 11. This section focuses on rewards and punishment for keeping the commandments. It also sort of repeats the first section but in the second person plural.  Then we finally get to the third section the Vayomer which comes from Numbers 15. This section is about redemption.

Perhaps one day I will have a post about the different types of prayer in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths.