This is taken from a longer essay by Fr. Mark Daniel Kirby, OSB over at Vultus Christ.
This evening we had a splendid Vespers at the beautiful Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine to welcome our new Bishop. All that beauty – sonic, visual, literary (for the Psalms are great poems) – and then I came across this bit (while looking for something else, of course).
If it is true, let us choose our contemplations carefully.
We Become What We Contemplate
Philosophers, psychologists and saints agree that we become what we contemplate. Look at goodness and you will become good. Look at beauty and you will become beautiful. Look at truth and you will become true. Look at purity and you will become pure. Saint Clare of Assisi, herself so marked by Gospel of Saint Luke, wrote to Agnes of Prague: “Gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him” (Second Letter to Agnes of Prague).
Last evening I saw a television show that included hordes of people eating pierogis in Whiting, Indiana. I think I actually know someone who lives there – and she never mentioned the pierogis. Some friend!
I wonder if there's a piroshki festival somewhere.
Florida is full of fruit and vegetable festivals – strawberries have two – Plant City and Starke. Chiefland and Newberry both have watermelons. Windsor has zucchini. Dade City has kumquats. There's a peanut festival in Levy County and somewhere there's a fresh corn wing-ding as well. And I almost forgot the Bostwick Blueberry Festival – one day only and specializing in a blueberry pancake breakfast.
However, consider the radical disconnect between what you see in this trailer and what's happening at the typical "Ground Zero" of your American Catholic parish. Art, beauty, mystery, music? 'Fraid not. While there are wonderful exceptions, many parochial liturgies are a community group meeting with some odd tidbits of vestments, campfire songs, and a motivational lecture in an ambiance similar to a fixed-seating auditorium. It both breaks my heart and strengthens my resolve.
Yes, I know we can't have the glories of Byzantium and Chartres in South Sandusky, Ohio. But we need to find the beauty we can achieve. Yes, I know churches are being redesigned, music redirected, vestments and ritual practice restored. But think of the shock to the potential convert (or uncatechized "Catholic by tribe") who is thrilled by a series such as this and calls the rectory (oops, church office) about exploring this marvelous adventure further – or wanders into the nearest Catholic church on a Sunday morning.
(Thanks to Domenic Bettinelli of Bettnet for the heads-up on the program.)
Watching the Pope at Ground Zero this morning, I kept zig-zagging between EWTN and Fox News, hoping that someone would just be quiet. There was a lovely unacccompanied cello piece (Bach Suite, I’m sure) – and all I could hear was Peggy Noonan nattering and the Fox team talking about nothing.
One thing I notice whenever I watch events like this – the commentators treat the music like background. Of course, that’s how we all treat music 98% of the time – in the elevator, supermarket, mall, airline terminal, taxi cab, home. And when it’s lousy, I don’t particularly care either. When it’s good, then I do.
Yes, another pet peeve joins the menagerie, which is becoming so large that it may soon be a zoo.
A week dear to my heart – the 10th annual TV-Turnoff Week begins tomorrow, April 19th. While I doubt that this is an issue for very many of the visitors to this blog, if you know people to whom this concept is unthinkable, check out the TV Turnoff Network for ideas.
OK, I do watch TV at the gym while I’m grinding away on exercise equipment – favoring Turner Classic Movies, the History Channel, and the Outdoor Life Network where they’re always hunting something. Even though this is clearly “intellectually improving” television, I promise not to watch during the next week. I’ll listen to CDs, gather my thoughts, and watch the men’s pickup basketball games.
I promise not to peer at the Golf Channel, learn handy (if you’re an art major) decorating tips at HGTV, or drool at the Food Channel.
Actually, there were several years in my life when I watched absolutely no television. However, since everywhere I worked everyone else wasted their entire evenings in front of one, I was kept perfectly up-to-date on sitcoms, dramas, and specials – and I had no cable bill.
Now I have mid-level cable because the only channel we get without it is ABC – and Peter Jennings drives me nuts.
Enjoy a TV-free week – go for a walk after dinner.