Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Teresa THE LIFE


 
Teresa Avila 1515-at Alba de Tormes (1582)    


The Spanish Carmelite nun's autobiography provides a perfect entrance point to the world of mental prayer. She begins her story with tales of her childhood in the early 1500s--the death of her mother, how she became a nun, and the hardships of her life including illness and a period of "lukewarmness" during which she ceased to pray. St. Teresa also relates the visiosn and in- structions she recieved form God later in her life.


Video of Joan Osborn singing "Teresa"



Thursday, February 25, 2016

Augustine: A Little Bit About the Man Who Became a Saint

Augustine CONFESSIONS (Aurelius Augustinus) 354 to 430 A.D.

The Confessions deals with the problem of evil and the temptation of the flesh up to Book 9.
Augustine has an epiphany as a young man and realizes that he wants to live a life of the mind – an intellectual life. The Confessions is a record of Augustine's thoughts as he conducts an honest self-examination of his emotional and intellectual life. In it, he includes a detailed reflection of his education and the adventures of his youth. In this area, he is unusually frank about his experience of desire. He is not against desire but wants to examine the way it influences behavior and judgment. One key incident that he discusses is about stealing. He and his friends steal pears because of wanting a diversion, not because of hunger. In fact, they give the fruit to the pigs. He was just overcome by a desire to steal. This representative problem of wanting -- even without cause -- is what he ponders in great detail. As a young man, he was considered exceptionally intelligent and could read and write well. These skills usually lead to a career in the government service (Roman Empire), rhetoric and law. He excelled in the persuasive arts.


Three religious philosophies played a part in Augustine’s examination: Machanean, Neoplatonism and Christianity. Machanean religious philosophy accepts that the body is wicked and the soul is good; but also does not provide a way to overcome that dichotomy. It is what it is -- there is no way to overcome evil -- and there is no way to know if you will go to hell or heaven. You have to be elected. Neoplatonism philosophy is that evil is the absence of good. Nothingness is the absence of being. It all comes from an error in perception. You have the freewill to go up the moral ladder or slide down this ladder. It’s your choice. Christianity offered a solution because through it anyone could be saved through grace. He believed that through baptism forgiveness was offered and hell was averted, even babies should be baptized because it started them on the path to a Christian life. In fact, when Augustine lost a good friend he was comforted because his friend was baptized. Becoming Christian meant that Augustine had to give up his social life and opportunities for political advancement. Nevertheless, he and a group of friends decide convert with the plan to retreat from the world. However, he never leaves society and the demands of an engaged life. He becomes a teacher of rhetoric and the Bishop of the city of Hippo.

Letters: Van Gogh Admired Tolstoy



SELF-PORTRAIT (1888)


Van Gogh Letter:


Van Gogh’s words written about Tolstoy: “There’s said to be a religious book by Tolstoy, I believe it’s called ‘Ma religion’; it must be very beautiful. From what I gather from that article, in it he’s searching for what will remain eternally true in the religion of Christ, and what all religions have in common; 1v:2 it appears that he admits of neither the resurrection of the body nor even that of the soul, but says like the nihilists that after death there’s nothing more, but when a man’s dead, and well and truly dead, living humanity remains for ever.10 Anyway, not having read the book itself, I couldn’t say exactly how he conceives of the matter, but I believe that his religion cannot be cruel and increase our sufferings, but on the contrary, it must be very consoling and must inspire serenity, and energy, and the courage to live, and a whole lot of things.”

Br. 1990: 690 | CL: 542 From: Vincent van Gogh To: Theo van Gogh Date: Arles, Sunday, 23 or Monday, 24 September 1888

Looking at Van Gogh's 1888 paintings when he was in Provence helps me to imagine him thinking about Tolstoy. In that way his writing and paintings bring history to life. (Follow the header link to read more of this letter as well as other letters.)

CAFE TERRACE AT NIGHT (1888)

STARLIGHT OVER  THE RHONE NEAR ARLES (1888)

SUNFLOWERS (1888)




Finally, seeing Paul Gauguin's perception of Van Gogh painting sunflowers brings the entire 1888 atmosphere to light.


VAN GOGH PAINTING SUNFLOWERS -PAUL GAUGAIN


LEO TOLSTOY: Short Bio-pic




Documentary on Tolstoy that includes period footage of his life. It is a brief but excellent introduction to Tolstoy.

Book Two: Who was Augustine?


And I became onto myself a wasteland. ~Augustine




A U G U S T I N E:

"Born and reared in Thagaste, northern Africa, Augustine was afforded a good education. Augustine’s father, Patricius, was a pagan. His mother, Monica, was a believer who passionately prayed for the salvation of her son. At seventeen Augustine moved to Carthage to continue his schooling. There he pursued a life of sexual immorality, eventually living for thirteen years with a woman who gave birth to their son, Adeodatus. All the while Monica interceded for her wayward son." ~CBN 

Am I the only one who wonders what happened to the woman and Augustine's son? 


Augustine is seen in BOOK TWO as an undisciplined youth as follows:

BOOK TWO Chapters 1 - 10) AUGUSTINE concentrates here on his sixteenth year, a year of idleness, lust, and adolescent mischief. The memory of stealing some pears prompts a deep probing of the motives and aims of sinful acts. "I became to myself a wasteland." CHAPTER I 1. I wish now to review in memory my past wickedness and the carnal corruptions of my soul -- not because I still love them, but that I may love thee, O my God. For love of thy love I do this, recalling in the bitterness of self-examination my wicked ways, that thou mayest grow sweet to me, thou sweetness without deception! And I became to myself a wasteland. THE CONFESSIONS OF AUGUSTINE

Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine




Traditional Roman Catholics seem to suggest a pass on the films overly human depiction of Augustine. However, it has 4.5 stars on Amazon.com, and that is definitely positive. A more contemporary writer Brandon Vogt recommends the film without reservation:


In the end, Restless Heart is the most epic saint biography ever produced.The film stands above the recent flow of sappy, low-budget Christian films and is more in line with The Passion of the Christ. With gifted acting, a moving score, and masterful screenwriting, it breathes life into three of the Church’s greatest and most iconic saints: Augustine, Ambrose, and Monica.