philosophy

Cat under a Hot Tin Roof

by Howard Hain

 

My daughter wants to be a cat.

Like with most kids, the formal structure of school, day after day, can create a desire to wander freely about the house, one hour into the next, no schedule or agenda, simply playing, humming, and exploring as she goes. A cat’s life viewed in this light can certainly seem attractive. Francesca loves the idea of staying home all day, sleeping soundly in sunny spots, and most of all, the tranquil adventure of discovering little nooks in order to curl up and hide away.

I don’t blame her. And she and I have discussed it several times. After all, the desire to curl up and hide away is pretty universal. It resurrects consoling memories and secure sensations: The womb. Fetal position. Warmth. Safety. Seclusion. Protection.

I think it’s safe to say that voluntary hiding spots—especially those involving blankets, quilts, pillows, and/or stacks of sweaters—invoke great emotional, psychological, and spiritual comfort. And physical comfort goes without saying.

I shared with Francesca a little secret. I want to be a cat too. Well, that’s not really the secret. This is: I am a cat. That got her attention—as displayed by a raised eyebrow and a curious smile. “No, it’s true,” I told her. “Especially when I go to church.” Now this really got her attention. “Yes, when I go to the chapel I become like a little cat…and during Mass I wander around the altar, slowly, very slowly, looking for just the right space to curl up and hide away. And I find it. I always find it. But I also have to wait for just the right time. Because this special little crevice is not always open.” She asked where it is. I let her in on it: “You know the gold box behind the altar?” Yes, she nodded. I told her it’s called the tabernacle, but this she apparently already knew, and she made a point of making that very clear. Well anyway, I asked her if she ever noticed that the tabernacle door was left open during a certain part of Mass. She acknowledged that she already knew this too, but this time with a little less certainty. “Well, that’s where I go,” I nodded. She smiled and made a funny face. “It’s true, I’m telling you…I wait for the door to open and then I quietly climb in.” She liked this. She really liked this. So do I.

She thought about it a little bit and had to confess that a cat would really love a little cozy space like that, especially our kitty named Clive. “He’d definitely try to get in there if the door was left open!”

But she was also a little curious if you could get stuck in there if the door was closed after you got in.

I assured her that God would never trap a kitty like that.

She agreed again.

“You’re right, Daddy, God would never trap a kitty, especially not with Jesus inside!”


 

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philosophy

Sunday Vespers: Head of an Old Fisherman

by Howard Hain
marble-head-of-an-old-fisherman

“Marble Head of an Old Fisherman” 1st-2nd century A.D.  Period: Imperial. Culture: Roman. Medium: Marble. (The Met)


I’ve seen your face before.

We’ve spent time together before today.

You are so beautifully broken.

Made of marble, yet fragile as clay.

The years have chiseled deep.

The salt air has sanded away.

I hope one day to look just like you.

Yes, I know, it’s a lofty goal.

The calm countenance of a wise, humble, seasoned priest.

O, yes you are!

I see right though that meager disguise.

A fisherman, a priest; they’re practically one and the same.

Saint Peter, Saint James, Saint John…

The Fisher-King kept those three extra close.

Plus, your hat gives it away.

Chipped or not, I know it’s really a halo.


“Come, follow me…and I will make you fishers of men.”

—Matthew 4:19


 

Web Link: The Met, “Marble Head of an Old Fisherman”

(Sept/16)

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philosophy

Playing Around

by Howard Hain

bruegel-childrens-games-1560

Bruegel, “Children’s Games”, (1560)


…and a little child will lead them.

—Isaiah 11:6

———

It’s the simple moments. It’s playing hide-and-seek. It’s pretending what isn’t is.

Like a game made-up as we go, with only a single rule: It has to make us laugh.

But not the kind of laughter that hurts anyone or anything. No, it has to be true laughter, the kind that comes from and through kindness, through truly wanting to be with one another—so much so that we’ll make up just about any old game, just as long as we won’t have to go our separate ways.

“Life” then becomes one big beautiful “excuse” to stay together, and our “actions” take on a tremendously meaningful fashion. They become like soft pieces of colorful clothing gently placed upon our joy-filled affections.

Little children know this through and through. They’re constantly changing and tailoring their “clothes”, adapting and accessorizing as they go, with only one goal in mind: for the “fun” to continue. But the fun they seek is not the kind that you and I normally desire—for little children know what few adults remember. They’re not so easily tricked. They know that fun, true fun, has very little to do with the actual game being played, in and of itself. For little children it’s all about what the game, as a mere instrument, allows them to experience—the freedom to let out love.

That’s why the type of game they play can turn on a dime. It just doesn’t matter.

Rules? Scores? Time-limits?

Who cares about stuff like that?

Are we “laughing”? Are we having “fun”? Are we still “with each other”?

Are we still in love?

These are the only questions that matter to a small child.

And with prayer it is much the same. Saints make up all kinds of “games” in order to “excuse” the time that they want so desperately to spend with God. They play all kinds of little games. They slide beads, they sing little songs, they pretend to be statues while playing hide-and-seek with the Lord, and some—the ones that the world most often calls crazy—even dream up little tales and fanciful stories, imagining along with God what could be if only everyone in the world would join in and play together.

But this is no big secret. All saints in one way or another come to say the same thing: Every technique, every approach, every means of entering into prayer…each and every one…they’re all part of one giant “excuse”, one seemingly never-ending “game”. For at the end of the day, techniques and approaches are at best a mere prelude to divine laughter—that infant-like sound composed of pure joy, that only the Love of God can bring into being.

———

He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

—Mark 10:14-16


 

(Jan/8/16)

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philosophy

Time with John

by Howard Hain

 

“I am the way and the truth and the life.”

—John 14:6


 

I am”         =   INCARNATION

“the way”    =   CRUCIFIXION

the truth”  =   RESURRECTION

the life”      =   ASCENSION

The INCARNATION is the CRUCIFIXION and the RESURRECTION and the ASCENSION.

The Word Made Flesh—God Made Man—is Crucified Love, Raised From The Dead, Sitting at the Right Hand of God The Father in Heaven.


Incarnation

Crucifixion

Resurrection

Ascension

“Glory”


Step by Step.

A Five Stage Plan.

Happening All At Once.


Keep it Holy.

Keep it Simple.

Keep it “Unbelievable”, or in other words: A Matter of Faith.



Not understanding is half the battle, the other half is not needing to.



Pure Faith Sets Us Completely Free.



 

(Nov/17-Jan/18)

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philosophy

Stop and Go

by Howard Hain

“1010 WINS”

If you grew up in the Tri-State Region, commonly known as the greater New York City area, you know the sound of “1010 WINS”, the radio station that reaches millions living in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, especially those sitting in traffic.

“Traffic and Transit on the Ones”

Every ten minutes, “on the ones” as they say, comes the coveted traffic report, including mass transit (train and subway) updates, and of course all the action one needs to know about the “bridges and tunnels”.

What a nightmare commuting can be.

Stop and Go.

“YOU GIVE US 22 MINUTES, WE’LL GIVE YOU THE WORLD”

That’s what we hear, while sitting in our cars, or as we get prepared to sit in our cars—or perhaps board buses, trains and/or subway cars.

Twenty-two minutes, that’s all they need, and we’ve got it all: breaking international news, politics, weather, sports, culture, and of course, traffic and transit “on the ones”.

Of course those twenty-two minutes give us everything we need, except relief. Thanks to them we are now very well-informed people sitting in traffic, as opposed to complete and utter ignoramuses actively stuck behind Greyhounds.

“Top and Bottom of the Hour. The Beginning and the End.”

There’s another great news agency constancy at work in the Tri-State Area. Its broadcast begins at the top and the bottom of the hour. But there’s only one message. The news is always good. And it always leaves one relieved.

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are filled with parishes. Most established by the immigrants of their time. And today they march on:

The Liturgy—The Great Prayer of God’s Church—won’t be stopped.

Day in, day out.

It is always the hour.

“YOU GIVE IT 22 MINUTES, IT’LL GIVE YOU MORE THAN THE WORLD”


 

(Jan/27/17)

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philosophy

Wide Open Spaces


20180110_110701

Francesca H. (2017)


The Beauty of Solitude

The Beauty of not being afraid to be alone

Of knowing God always resides within

That His Creation rests all about

Inside and Out

Outside and In


Love God in all Creation.

Love all Creation for God’s sake.


Play

Draw

Write

Sing

Dance

Be Free

That’s why Jesus died


You are a Child of God

Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb

Co-Heir to Christ’s Glory *


* For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!”

The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

—Romans 8:14-17 (NABRE)


 

by Howard Hain, drawn from the artwork above

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