Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Rare Performance ....

JMJ    I was thrilled to find this rare kinescope of the Ed Sullivan show from the 50's.  It features a breathtaking oratorio by  the original Broadway singers who played the nuns in "The Sound of Music," as well as a magnificent performance by the great opera contralto Patricia Neway, as the Mother Abbess singing "Climb Every Mountain."  I hope you like it as much as I do.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Remembering Oscar Wilde ... Poet, Wit, Playwright, Bon Vivant, Struggling Soul - Catholic

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde
With a name like that, he just had to be different...

JMJ    Today is not his birthday or the anniversary of his death.  It is not any significant date in his life which would trigger a desire to remember him -- I simply read something that he said about saints and sinners, and it rang true with me.  Oscar Wilde was a man of great intelligence and wonderfully keen and caustic sense of humor.  He was a great poet and playwright.  He was also a Catholic who deeply loved his wife and children, yet was innately homosexual.  He lived with demons as we all do, yet was able to disguise the inner struggles of life better than most because of his intellectual talents.  And, as most of us do, he found himself with an ever-deepening sense of spirituality, looking for closeness with God at the worst time of his life. Oscar had made the decision to sue in open court a man who had insulted him about his homosexuality, and ended up being prosecuted and convicted because of his homosexuality.  He was cruelly betrayed by loved ones and friends, was imprisoned at hard labor, found himself getting older and beginning to deal with illness.  But through the grace of God and Oscar's own searching, he topped his lifelong love for the Church with a true desire to practice Catholicism completely.

Too often, Oscar is remembered for the unhappy and ugly period of his life.  But I prefer to remember his poems and plays, and incredibly funny observations of the world, as well as words of depth and wisdom.  Beginning with keen wit and moving into spiritual contemplation, here are some of my favorites:

*  "I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying."

*  "Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them more."

*  "Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."

*  "To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early,
     or be respectable."

*  "Be  yourself.  Everyone else is already taken."

*  "Keep love in your heart.  A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead."

*  "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

*  "We are each our own devil, and we make the world our hell."

*  "Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground."

This is what Oscar said that struck me when I saw it:, and made me want to write this little tribute:

That is such a beautifully-spoken Catholic belief, and one that should give hope to all of us. After all, Jesus said to us, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone ... Go and sin no more."  That is our opportunity and salvation, no matter what we may have been before.

At the end of his life, Oscar had been abandoned by his rich society friends, who turned their backs on him when he was no longer of any use to them.  The life of beautiful surroundings and fine clothes that he loved had ended with his trial and imprisonment.  Only a Catholic priest who had become his friend, as well as Catholic friends he came to know, stuck by him in his need.  He was living in poverty in a badly-decorated, ratty little room.  He lay on his bed dying at the age of 46, and at one point he woke up and said to a friend who was there with him:

Wouldn't you love to have the time and the wit to be able to leave this earthly plane with such words?  Well, it is really true, Oscar did say that -- he had the last word, which would have pleased him immensely.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bishop Sheen on Lent ......

“Lent is the penitential season, a time when men once put on hair shirts, sacrificing any hope of bodily ease for 40 days. G.K. Chesterton once said that St. Thomas Becket wore a hair shirt under his purple, so that people might have the benefit of his purple and he might have the benefit of penance.” 

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen