Monthly Archives: December 2018

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Our Lady as Widow

It was my consolation from God on the night my husband died, to realize that of all the titles I had heard of Our Lady, widow was not one of them, but now I know intimately the pain she must have felt at St. Joseph’s death. I suddenly realized every time Jesus refers to a widow and/or an orphan, He refers to His Mother and Himself.   I found this article very helpful:

“The experience of Mary and her times of loneliness that arose from the circumstances of her life as the mother of Jesus is a reminder that Mary’s life was real and truly human.

She knew what it meant to be isolated, to fear, to experience terrible anxiety, loneliness, and hurt. For all her sinlessness, Mary’s life was filled with the faith-demanding events just mentioned. There likely were many more.”

happydeath

“A union of soul with soul more perfect”

My husband, John, the author of this blog, always said he was (_) with a life expectancy of 20. He had a genetic disorder, and so he and I discussed death probably way more than the average couple. I shared this in a discussion about what Heaven will be like, and I thought it might be helpful. It’s from a letter to a young widow by St. John Chrysostom:

But, as it is, we have been relieved from this apprehension, and we are firmly persuaded that in the great day he (the widow’s husband) will appear in much radiance, shining forth near the King, and going with the angels in advance of Christ and clad with the robe of unutterable glory, and standing by the side of the King as he gives judgment, and acting as one of His chief ministers. Wherefore desisting from mourning and lamentation do thou hold on to the same way of life as his, yea even let it be more exact, that having speedily attained an equal standard of virtue with him, you may inhabit the same abode and be united to him again through the everlasting ages, not in this union of marriage but another far better. For this is only a bodily kind of intercourse, but then there will be a union of soul with soul more perfect, and of a far more delightful and far nobler kind.

accessory anniversary band celebration

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Written Christmas 2017 by Mary

Mary gave birth to Jesus in an animal shelter because the government (during the so-called Pax Romana) forced them to travel to a city with short notice, a city that should have had quite a few of their own relatives and friends in it to help them. Then, the government decided terrorizing families and killing the little ones born around that time was a good way to prevent future toppling of the government, and they had to flee to Egypt with just their clothes on their backs. Shepherds and pagans sacrificed their lives and livelihoods to recognize His Revelation of His Divinity and Humanity while believers slept. Don’t worry if your Advent and Christmas are not “perfect,” if animals are kinder than humans, if strangers are truer than relatives or friends, if your life is a painful mess because the government, employers, and the Church are proving sorely lacking in their responsibility to their citizens, workers, and “least of these.” Turn to Him and His Holy Family. They have been there and understand deeply the suffering, of going without proper food, clothing, shelter, transportation, employment, and medical care, in the midst of a world that could provide (by the Mercy of God) except for greed and pride and power-lust and lack of trust in Him (all sins of which I am guilty–throwing no stones). Prepare the manger of your soul to welcome Him and to rejoice with the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph. Do what you can and be at Peace, the one He gives, not the world. May we all repent and joyfully and generously open our eyes to the Holy Family in our midst, bringing His Mercy in our tiny offerings of love. I wrote this, musing on various FB posts, from friends and family, my chronic illness groups, autism groups, Catholic groups, homeschooling, Dean Koontz groups, etc. We have been so very blessed by animals, relatives, friends, private employers, government employers, the military, conscientious objectors, strangers, Catholics, Protestants, pagans, other people of faith, and non-believers, all of whom have a place in the Advent and Christmas story. I have seen in a very extraordinary way this year how He chooses to reveal Himself to each person on an individual basis. I cannot say that I understand everything, of course, but I do understand that much, that His Revelation is here and now if you wish to see Him, just ask. But it does require falling to your knees (or bowing) in repentance and love and a change that will be continuously worked out with trembling in this fallen world. His Glory is in the cave, on the plain, and on the mountain. We cannot bear it *all* in this mortal life–that is what Heaven is for. But He provides what we need to know He is Who He says He is.

People understand “cancer”

(John drafted this but never finished it.  His lifelong struggle was getting people to understand that his condition was as terminal as cancer.  It was very hard for me, as his wife, to see that people did not understand this, how delicate his precious earthly life was and every time they beheld my darling husband, they were beholding a wondrous miracle of God.  Humankind cannot bear very much reality.)

They understand “heart disease.”
They understand “diabetes.”
At least as well as they “understand” anything about someone else’s sufferings.
I’ll never “get better.”  I’ll never “recover.”  I have good times and I have bad times, but my “good times” usually lead directly into my “bad times” because my body can’t take it.
I have  a dissected aorta.  If such things can be quantified, articles on pain often mention aortic dissection as the worst possible pain a person can have (though it can also be asymptomatic).
I have 2 aortic grafts, including an artificial valve.
I have a 4.9 cm aneurysm in my gut that will, if it doesn’t burst first, have to be operated on once it hits 6 cm.  Right now, my left kidney and left leg are getting their blood supply. from scar tissue.  The most likely best outcome of my next surgery will be that I lose just one leg or kidney.
In fall 2008, I spent 2 months coughing and taking antibiotics for “pneumonia” and was told I had a nodule on my left lung that looked like a possible tumor, too small to biopsy or operate on yet.  After my dissection in 2011, I found out it wasn’t a nodule or a tumor–it was scar tissue from a lung collapse that wasn’t properly treated–the two months of “pneumonia.”  I spent two months thinking I had some horrible contagious disease and then 2 years after that thinking I had early stage lung cancer (attributed to my frequent CT radiation) because an urgicare doctor didn’t know that hearing no air in my lung (his words) meant it was collapsed and not pneumonia.
My natural lenses sit at the bottoms of my eyes, attached by a few zonules.  If those ever tear completely, my lenses will pose a risk to my retina and have to be removed.  As it is, if I turn or move my head too quickly, or lay flat, my lenses float up, disrupt my vision, disrupt the pressure in my eyes, and give me a headache.
I have, for simplicity’s sake, a brain aneurysm.  It’s in a vein, so they say it’s nonoperable and won’t burst.  But it’s right in one of my motor cortexes, and when it acts up it causes everything from slurred speech and forgetting how to sign my name to migraine to loss of motor control.
I have a tortuous carotid artery.
I *used* to have mitral valve prolapse, but that has apparently been healed by the Lord.
I have a paralyzed vocal cord, the cost of my last aortic graft surgery, which not only limits my speech but my swallowing and breathing.
I have gastroparesis, and eating too much or eating the wrong foods causes unbearable cramping, nausea and occasionally vomiting.
That’s not getting into my chronic joint problems and the side effects of my medicines.

“It doesn’t get better”

We hear it all the time.  “It gets better.”
No, “it” doesn’t.
Life stinks.  At its best it’s like a night in a bad hotel room, as St. Teresa of Avila put it, and our idea of a “bad hotel room” would be better than the best luxury hotel she could have imagined.
And mental illness, like any other disordered inclination or biological defect, doesn’t really “get better” without medical and Divine intervention.
Moods are reactions to circumstances.

(another snippet never quite finished)

Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Mystery of Collaboration

Note:  John had drafted this but not finalized it before he died.  He loves Webber and Eliot.

With the announcement that Cats is finally being made into a movie, I’ve been thinking of different aspects of that process.
Because they started their careers together and had some huge successes at young ages, fans, critics and the collaborators themselves often express regret “Lloyd Webber and Rice” were more “Lennon and McCartney” than “Rodgers and Hammerstein.”
Objectively, Phantom of the Opera is Lloyd Webber’s most successful musical.  Financially, it was the most financially successful stage show or movie of all time before being surpassed by The Lion King in 2012 (with of course lyrics by Rice), and is still the longest running musical in Broadway history.
“Memory” has been my favorite song since I was 6.  It’s an oft-repeated (and variously misquoted) anecdote that when Andrew wrote the tune that became “Memory” (a tune that has often been accused of being plagiarized from Puccini, Ravel, and/or John and Michelle Phillips) he wrote it as a tribute to Puccini, for a planned musical about Puccini.  He asked his musicologist, organist and composer father, William, “Does this sound like anything to you?” And his father replied, “It sounds like a million dollars!”  Looking up a source to cite for the anecdote, I found this great article from 2007 that sums up, except a few quibbles, what I think of Lloyd Webber and most of the criticism against him.   It is kind of ironically, actually, that what contemporary critics call “plagiarism” or “pastiche” is what Eliot himself did in his poetry, and what Eliot described in “Tradition and the Individual Talent.”  Anyway, Bill Lloyd Webber was wrong: his son’s haunting and hauntingly familiar tune, combined with lyrics by Trevor Nunn based on T. S. Eliot (mainly “Preludes” and “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” but also themes from Four Quartets and some of Eliot’s other work) became an instant standard, one of the most successful songs of the 1980s.  Elaine Paige released 2 singles, of the original lyric in 1982 and the revised lyric in 1998, both of which charted in the UK.  Barbra Streisand’s “definitive” version peaked at #52 on the top 100 and #9 on the AC charts.  Barry Manilow’s cover surpassed Streisand’s, charting at 39 and 8, respectively.  I once read there was a point in the 80s where between those three and numerous other covers, “Memory” was always playing on the radio somewhere.  Cats itself has grossed over a billion in worldwide ticket sales.
Lloyd Webber wanted a big aria/pop single for Cats and suggested his Puccini tribute but needed lyrics. Rice offered a lyric which was used in rehearsal but later rejected (often cited as the final breaking point in their collaboration).  Richard Stilgoe, who wrote the prologue, “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats,” based upon Eliot’s unpublished poem “Pollicle Dogs and Jellicle Cats,”  submitted one.  Director Trevor Nunn wrote the lyric that was used.

In a musical, there are three elements: the music, the lyrics, and the “book,” which is the story.  So while Lloyd Webber is not a lyricist, he often actively participates in the story.
Part of the effectiveness of their two most successful collaborations was due to the differences in Rice and Lloyd Webber’s worldviews that made their long-term collaboration untenable.  Rice is an atheist; Lloyd Webber has always at least respected Christianity though his own level of faith is unclear.  Rice admired Eva Peron; Lloyd Webber saw her as despicable but decided she was tragic.

Stilgoe, who like Rice was known mainly for writing comic lyrics.  His only full-fledged  musical with ALW was Starlight Express.  He wrote all the lyrics for Phantom of the Opera but then up-and-coming Charles Hart was hired to rewrite it to be more serious.  Hart went onto contribute to Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard, both of which are arguably contain some of Lloyd Webber’s most beautiful melodies and a number of instant standards.

Don Black collaborated with Lloyd Webber on Tell Me On a Sunday/Song and Dance, and was part of the teams for Aspects and Sunset.

Deacon Dana’s tribute to John, the author of The Lewis Crusade

https://beingisgood.blogspot.com/2018/10/john-hathaway-our-newest-saint.html