Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wow...I'm actually dressing up for All Saint's Day this year! :O I dressed up two years ago, and thought, "never, nevermore, oh never!", but this year I got a strong craving to dress up! I have a lovely colonial-style dress that one of my best friends made about 5 years ago. After she left for the convent this fall, she gave it to me. I'm wearing a piece of sheer dark blue cloth over it as a cloak, and a crown on my head, as I'm portraying St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

So yeah...I thought, what the heck, and who cares if I'm the oldest! Dressing up in a pretty floor-length dress will make it worth it. ;) Plus, I get my food free at the Holy Name Society pancake breakfast for being in costume! I'll hopefully post pictures on Sunday!

I hope we'll all be well enough by then, though! I had a sinus infection most of last week, and I'm still coughing and have a croaky voice, but my sister might have swine flu! She has a fever of 102 and is coughing a lot and really tired. Could you say a prayer that it's not too severe and that we don't all catch it? Thanks so much!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Casablanca, Jane Eyre, and the Parable of the Vineyard

This is a post I've been wanting to write for quite a while now!

WARNING: It will have some spoilers for Jane Eyre and Casablanca!

It all started about a year ago, when I finally saw the movie Jane Eyre and then read the book. One of my friends had scared me off from reading the book, saying that it was terrible because Mr Rochester tried to marry Jane when he already had a wife. However, a few years later my family decided to watch the movie, enjoyed it very much, and then I read the book. I was greatly impressed by it - I found it to be very religious in a very good way.

However, I've heard a lot of people complain that they don't like it because it's "immoral". I don't find it immoral at all, and I'll tell you why. I'll warn you that I haven't read the book in a while, so some of the finer points may be slightly off, but I'll do my best.

Nowhere in the book is Mr Rochester's wrong behavior condoned. At the beginning of the book, we find him a rough, somewhat bitter man. He swears, he doesn't bother to be polite to people, but Jane likes him nonetheless and sees that there is a better man underneath his scaly exterior. She likes him in spite of his sins, not because of them.

When the full extent of his wrongdoings is revealed and Jane discovers he was about to commit bigamy, she wastes no time in removing herself from his house. She won't let him touch her, not even to say goodbye. He belongs to another woman, even if this woman is out of her mind. Jane knows what is right and wrong, and like the strong person she is, she leaves him, even though this cuts her to the heart and makes her feel that it will kill her.

Mr Rochester pleads with her to stay; he even offers to live with her as brother and sister. Jane knows that this will be too much of a temptation and she steadily refuses. Nowhere does Charlotte Bronte give the impression that Jane was wrong in doing this. We know that she has made the right choice, even though it's almost unbearably difficult.

In the end, we can love Mr Rochester because he is redeemed. During the fire that consumes his home, he has the perfect chance to simply let his wife perish in the flames. Everyone would think she had simply been trapped, and he then could marry his true love. But no. In his moment of redemption, Mr Rochester risks his own life to save the life of his wife, who ends up flinging herself from the roof. He suffers for his sins as the fire blinds him and robs him of one arm, but he has changed. The true, noble man has broken through, and he ends up with his heart's desire - his Jane; a family and home of his own, not haunted by fearful memories; and he even regains his sight.

We watched Casablanca a few weeks ago, and during a conversation with one of my friends over text messaging a few days later, I discovered some parallels between these two stories. She had just watched it also, and had several problems with it - namely, Ilsa's love affair with Rick so soon after the supposed death of her husband, Ilsa going to Rick the first night she and Laszlo are in Casablanca, and Rick himself. I was going to copy down what I replied in my texts, but I forgot and deleted them. :P Oh well, I think I'll remember.

Well, first off, I looked the problem my friend had with Ilsa falling in love with Rick right after she had heard that her husband Laszlo was dead, especially since it turned out he wasn't dead at all. I pointed out that, as far as Ilsa knew, Laszlo was dead and gone forever.

Rick was a very different sort of man in those days than when we meet him as the owner of a saloon in the beginning of the movie - he was brave, idealistic, and fought for the same things that Laszlo did. Ilsa loved Laszlo very much, but as far as I could tell, he was quite a bit older than her, and she was very young when she married him. She loved and admired him, but Rick was someone of her own age, who rather similar to Laszlo himself. She wanted to try and forget the sorrow of her husband's death, and being young, and, as my mum pointed out, IN PARIS, she fell in love with Rick.

Was this the most virtuous and correct thing she could have done? Probably not. But do we always do the most correct thing? No, we don't, and movies usually try to mirror real life. But before you're shocked and it seems that I'm condoning immoral behavior in movies or out of them, keep reading and you'll see.

When Ilsa got the letter informing her that Laszlo was alive, she left Rick immediately, even though this caused her, like Jane, considerable pain and heartbreak. She knew she had to return to her husband, and that in doing this she would probably never see Rick again, but she left him anyway.

Fast forward 10 years. The war is almost over, and the Nazis are hunting down the people who have been helping the Jews and other persecuted minorities. Laszlo and Ilsa end up in Casablanca, and out of all the saloons they could have walked into, they walk into Rick's.

This brings us to my friend's other objection: Ilsa going to see Rick the night after they arrived in Casablanca and she saw him again. Well, this was not a good move on Ilsa's part, but I can nonetheless see why she did it. She really loved Rick , and love can blind people. The interview was unsatisfactory to her, though, for she found him very changed - he had become a bitter, self-absorbed man. She left quickly, even though he wanted her to stay. It was also a blind move of Ilsa's when she went to Rick the night Laszlo went to the secret meeting, but once again, though not a good act, it was understandable.

At the end of the movie, however, we see that Rick has recovered his nobility - like Mr Rochester, his moment of redemption comes. He chooses virtue over love, and urges Ilsa to go with Laszlo. He sees that Laszlo needs her more than he ever will, and besides, Ilsa is his wife. Ilsa still loves Rick and doesn't want to leave him, but she loves Laszlo too and know that, in the end, it will be better for her to go with him.

So now we come to the parable. Matthew 20: 1 - 16 (Douay Rheims version)


HE kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
2. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace idle.
4. And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.
5. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner.

6. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle?
7. They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go ye also into my vineyard.

8. And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.
9. When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: And they also received every man a penny.

11. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house,
12. Saying: These last have worked but one hour. and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats.
13. But he answering said to one of them: friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny?

14. Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee.

15. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good?
16. So shall the last be first and the first last. For many are called but few chosen.

This parable states clearly that, even if someone has sinned greatly and for many years, if they truly repent and change their life they will be saved just the same as someone who has followed God faithfully all their life. This may not seem fair to us down below, but who can know the mind of God? We have to trust that this is the best way, and it is certainly a very comforting thought for a converting sinner.

So that is what makes Jane Eyre and Casablanca good stories, even if the people in them are seriously flawed at the beginning. They repent; they have a redeeming moment; they realize the error of their ways and convert to a life of goodness. We are all sinners, some more than others, but everyone has a chance to see the error of their ways and change them. That is one thing can be learned from this book and this movie.

Ink & Fairydust Newsletter

I thought some of you might be interested in subscribing to "Ink and Fairydust", which is the magazine of the Fairy Tale Forums (a forum for fans of Regina Doman's books). It has lots of fascinating, entertaining, and beautiful articles, stories, poetry, essays, and artwork, including a serial story (whenever I hear "serial story" I think "serial killer", but anyways... :)) written by me. Here is the header (made by moi)for it:

The first installment of "Past the Ends of the Earth" was in this past issue (October 2009), which can be read here. It has been redesigned into a magazine format, and you can click here to see the lovely new front cover!

To subscribe to this FREE on-line magazine, simply send your email adress to inkandfairydust@yahoo.com with "Subscription to Ink and Fairydust" in the subject.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Of animals, and a place in this world.

I was reading "The Wind in the Willows" earlier this week (one of my favorite books, by the way), and this last paragraph of the chapter "Mr Badger" jumped out at me:

As he hurried along, eagerly anticipating the moment when he would be at home again among the things he knew and liked, the Mole saw clearly that he was an animal of tilled field and hedgerow, linked to the plowed furrow, the frequented pasture, the lane of evening lingerings, the cultivated garden plot. For others, the asperities, the the stubborn endurance, or the clash of actual conflict, that went with Nature in the rough; he must be wise, must keep to the pleasant places in which his lines were laid and which held adventure enough, in their way, to last for a lifetime.

That brought to mind something I'm sure we've all heard at some time or another - that we must be content with what our place in the world is. We can't all be heroes, and for some of us, the most heroic thing we will ever do is accept that we will not fight any battles or be admired for the wonderful things we have done. No, many of us will simply exist in the small struggles and joys and adventures of everyday life.

This may sound unappealing. Like Eowyn in The Lord of the Rings, we may cry out that we want to battle and be held in renown, not be sent to help the women and children. Where is the renown in that? But is renown all we should seek? Perhaps the most important thing we could be doing at the moment is insuring that others are safe and comfortable, working for the common good in whatever way we're most capable of, and not falling to the temptation of pridefulness.

Very possibly one is fully capable of fighting a battle, of doing brave and glorious things. But if that is not what we're called on to do, it's a valuble thing to learn to be content with "...the pleasant places in which (our) lines were laid and which held adventure enough, in their way, to last for a lifetime." We must be wise.

So here I promised a reflection on one book and gave you one on a different one! Ah well...the Casablanca/Jane Eyre/parable of the workers in the vineyard post will be coming soon! I won't set a date, though, because I always feel guilty if I can't meet it. ;)

Oh, and another thing I noticed in this reading of The Wind in the Willows is that each of the four main characters are very much prototypes of the four temperaments! We have the courageous, confident, take-charge Ratty (choleric); the home-loving, peaceful, thoughtful Mole (melancholic); the cheerful, gregarious, cocky Toad (sanguine); and the reclusive, wise, peace-making Badger (phlegmatic). Interesting...I wonder if Kenneth Graham did that on purpose.

And, just for the fun of it, here are pictures of all of our pets!
Jack Sparrow the cockatiel, commonly known as Jack, Jacky Boord, or Mr Baby.
Ratty, the enormous (22 lb, 13-inch long tail!) blind cat, also known as Piggy, Toad, or Mr Baby (among other things!).
Smoky, the big chubby cat, usually known as Moky or Gub-Gub.
Sophie, the prittoo little puffball.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Our Lady's Lamp

I'd been meaning to post about praying in front of the Family Planning center on Thursday morning! It was really cool being out there so early in the morning.

We got up at 5:30 am, which turned out to not be early enough, since we got there about halfway through the first rosary. It was cold (my feet especially were freezing, since I was wearing leather boots), and still dark. Our priest and about half a dozen people from our church were there, standing on the sidewalk next to the building, and we quickly joined the line.

I watched the almost-full moon - Our Lady's lamp - as we prayed. It would occasionally pass behind the clouds, but always reappeared eventually. As time passed, the sky slowly lightened from pitch black to dark blue, and from dark blue to gray. You could see already that it was going to be a cloudy day.

We prayed an entire 15-decade rosary (Father asked me to lead the Glorious mysteries), and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Three people honked as they drove by - the first time that happened I jumped about a foot in the air! haha Unfortunately, someone also gave us the finger. But the negative responses are always outnumbered by the positive ones.

Just before we finished at 7 am, I looked up and saw that the clouds were faintly tinged with pink. I was very happy - I love seeing the sun rise! It was such a beautiful sight as we all warmly greeted one another and then dispersed to the various callings of our days.

Each time the moon vanished behind a cloud, I thought, "Okay, it's not going to come back out," but it always did, and was still there after the sun had risen. Our Lady had hung out her lamp, and was keeping her motherly eye on her courageous children who were praying for her voiceless ones.

It was a beautiful way to start the day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The dinner, and other random things.

The fund raising dinner at church was last night, and it was very enjoyable! Neither the prep work nor the actual dinner quite so "fun" as they used to be, but I still had a good time! It seems like that's how it's been going as I get older, though...things that used to be so wonderful and magical and fun have lost that quality. It's that I don't enjoy them anymore, it's just that it's not that all-consuming enjoyment. I guess it's just a part of growing up...rather unfortunate, but unavoidable. You seem to become less attuned to your surroundings, in a way - or maybe more so. I can't really tell. Well, anyways...back to the dinner.

I think that part of the reason I didn't have as much "fun", per say, was that I actually did a lot of work this time. *rolls eyes* heehee All the previous dinners there had been a surplus of helpers and I usually got sent out of the kitchen, ending up just hanging out with my friends most of the time, but this time there were only 5 people so I did quite a bit! That was fine with me...I don't like feeling like a slacker! And now I have a burn, a stab, a slice, and a blister to prove my non-slacker status. :D

One humorous conversation between the seminarian at our church who was in charge of the dinner and me:

S. (noting my hands that were stained orange from cutting up carrots): Orange hands are happy hands!

Me: Pft, when they have blisters they're not!

S: Oh, they still are.

Me: Well, I suppose they like the color.

S: They do. It's a very productive color.

We worked all afternoon for three days, and by the end of the last day I was exhausted! That was partly just because of 5 hours of ballet that morning, and my incredibly painful feet (I'll post a picture of the unlovely things pointe shoes can do to your feet when I get one. ;)).

My sister and I served the punch before the dinner started. I always enjoy doing that! It gives me something to do other than stand around, and I get to talk to lots of people. When the food was ready to be served we went and sat with in our places by some friends of ours. There was also a young couple with two young children sitting next to me...I'd seen them around a lot, but never talked to them, and we had an enjoyable conversation!

The food was soup, pork, rice with roasted red peppers and corn, green beans, salad, and pound cake and ice cream. It was all pretty good, especially the rice!

I was sitting with one of my friends and we were talking a lot about all sorts of things - weird dreams, movies, books, etc. I'd never really talked to her in person terribly much, but we'd been talking over Facebook lately and I know we have several things in common, such as loving Regina Doman's books! :D It was a lot of fun!

The dinner didn't get over until quarter to 10, much to my surprise! In addition to the food, there was a drawing for 7 beautiful Brazilian agates (our priest is from Brazil), and the drawing of the raffle tickets (for which Father played the bugle!).
A Brazilian agate - beautiful!

It was a nice surprise that the guys ended up doing the dishes after the dinner! They almost always disappear and the girls and adults are left doing them (and there usually aren't enough of them), but the kitchen was chock-a-block full, so I was like, "Hey, I won't even try to go in there!" We got home around 11 pm.

Oh, and on a completely different subject, while messing around at ballet class I found out I can do this!

I'd seen pictures of people doing that and always thought "How on EARTH?", but I guess I can do it. :)

Here are some pictures I put together - you can use them for whatever, just give credit where credit is due! Thanks!

And finally, here is a slideshow I made of Sunday Mass at our church from the beginning to the Gradual. I'm working on Part 2.

Coming soon: what do Casablanca, Jane Eyre, and a parable in the Bible have in common? You'll find out.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nope, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth...

Just wanted to make sure you all knew that! I've just been lazy and not posting as much as I should, and this won't be much of a post either because I've been on the computer far too long today and should be getting off!

I'm reading Narnia out loud to my mum and sister...it is so much fun. I love reading books out loud and reading with expression...it's very enjoyable to experiment with! We're about half-way through "The Magician's Nephew" and I am really looking forward to reading "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" and "The Silver Chair" again. Love love love those books...tonight I'm going to start a review of each of them, which I'll post when it's finished. I have lots of other ideas for posts, too, so stay tuned!

The fall fund raising dinner at church is this Saturday - I can't wait! We'll help with preparations on Friday and Saturday, as usual. I let you all know how that goes...it's almost always the best part!

I must away.