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We All Shed [Aug. 4th, 2014|05:39 pm]
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As posted on Facebook:


In the Philippines there is a cultural tradition of forty days of mourning after a death. There is usually a black rectangular pin worn on the lapel or collar for the duration.

I didn't have one, but I did have a black mourning cross an aunt made for the family when my maternal grandfather died. It's hard to keep wearing it though-- for one thing, it's rather flimsy, being a couple years old and not meant for long use. For another, the plant I work in disallows any personal jewelry, including wedding rings.

Still I wanted to mark his passing somehow, and I decided to abstain from cutting my hair and shaving for forty days to honor him. Convenience aside, it's a practice that has a pretty rich and ancient lineage spanning several disparate societies. Maybe I'll actually read about it someday.

On Saturday my wife cut my hair, and I took off the 'stache. It corporealized a feeling I've had in the past few weeks: that of an age or an era passing, and a chapter in a book closed.

With my father at rest, I no longer have any compelling interests in the Philippines. That sounds colder than it actually is; of course, I'll have plenty of reasons to want to go back someday, such as the desire to have my wife see my hometown, or to let my son and daughter learn more about their own ethnic heritage. My best friend and his family still lives there, and I have no shortage of family, friends and acquaintances to visit in every main island.

But those would be visits of desire. Nothing ties me there anymore. All of my blood family is here now. I have lived here for ten years, seven of them as a citizen of this nation, but always with that cloud over my head, that I would have to return to the Philippines from time to time for something or another. Have to. I have to no longer.

Now it feels like I can finally take root.

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Exodii [Jul. 22nd, 2014|10:00 am]
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As posted on Facebook:

As many of you may be aware of by now, there is an ongoing humanitarian crisis at the Southern border that predominantly involves children. This issue lies very close to my heart. As I may have intimated before, I can hardly look at pictures or videos of refugee children anymore without my heart breaking for what my own children have, and what these do not-- the security of a loving home, food, clothes, a time to play and to rest.

I could only look on and pray during the tragedy in Syria. I managed what little help I could muster in addition during the natural disasters that displaced millions in the Philippines. I can only look on and pray for the tragedies today in Palestine and in Mosul. But this border crisis is literally happening right now within the nation of which I am a citizen. It hits very close to home, so to speak.

I want to do something. And to inform action, I wanted to know what my own church's response to the issue was, to start with. Certainly, I could be in no doubt as to the spiritual disposition necessary to meet this crisis, and I was very happy to read this article that introduced me to the site Aleteia.org:


I was however, thoroughly shocked at what I proceeded to read in the comments. I'm sure I don't need to describe it in full here; you can probably imagine it easily enough. The atmosphere manifested in its ugliest in the the people who picketed the bus routes carrying these refugees to various destinations within the US. I could scarcely believe I was reading these things as put down by fellow Catholics.

Certainly, as regards the virtue of prudence and good stewardship, there is plenty of wiggle room when it comes to certain discussions such as border security and immigration. There is no Church doctrine concerning such paltry and recent things as national state lines and who may or may not cross it, and nor should there be. The Church's purview is the salvation of souls, and that is what I see pouring across the border and into this land: fifty-seven thousand souls seeking help and salvation. What will they see when they come here?

I recognize the very real need for laws and proper enforcement. I see the very real need for security and order, especially in these doubtful times. But I see much more clearly that well beyond these human needs, there is now an opportunity to address the needs of the Divine. In less mystical terms, you do not quibble about rules and regulations when your neighbour's house is on fire. I will not deign to acknowledge those who wonder whether the house is on fire at all. I have plenty of rebuttals to those who object to simple charity on whatever grounds they may stand on-- fortunately for me, I do not have to go into any of it. I offer it up, keep my peace, and move on.

That is because I am reading that despite whatever reticence and insular instincts being aired where I could see them, the reality in play at the moment is much more comforting: people of good will are helping however they can. It remains to me to seek out what me and my family can do past stuffing an envelope and delegating it once again, but at least I have my consolation. God's hand is not too short to save.

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Pater Noster [Jun. 15th, 2014|09:04 am]
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These past few years, I have had many opportunities in my recent state in life to reflect on fatherhood. I am by no means near the end of these reflections, but these times seem to call for an ever more urgent consideration of these things. It is a damning indictment of this generation that simple presence, or sticking around-- the most basic duty of fatherhood, its bare minimum and least foundation-- has come to almost be considered a credit, and in some areas even a rarity and a prodigy.

I hold myself to no such standard. I know that so much more is expected of me. The one I need to measure up to is a Heavenly Father, and my primary duty is not simply to feed my family (though that is certainly part of it) but to get my family to Paradise.

In a generation that has forgotten honour, I need to raise my boy to be an honourable man. In a generation that seems content with poor facsimiles of men, I need to provide my daughter with a model of strength and sweetness. In a generation that can only say, "Don't be a creep," I need to say, "Blessed are the pure in spirit." In a generation that only cares whether their children will earn enough, I only care whether my children will give away enough.

The fact that I need all these lessons myself (perhaps two or threefold) doesn't excuse me. But I, nor anyone else, need not despair. That same Heavenly Father I aspire to is my same help and succor, the source, center and summit of my life as a son and a father. None of us need ever say we are orphans ever again.

Happy Father's Day, all! And Happy Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity!

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I've Been Busy On Facebook Today! [Jun. 15th, 2014|09:02 am]

My father... is a singular character. No matter what, I know that he loves me and my siblings very much.

Spiritually, GK Chesterton has become my adopted father, as in the large, looming masculine figure in my life to whom I turned to learn how to be a man myself. I have had a few such figures over the years-- from uncles and teachers, to Asimov, to King, to Gaiman-- but I ultimately became this Englishman's spiritual son because of the spiritual truths I found so rich in his writings. I found in his words the things I needed to hear and be taught from an early age on but lacked, and am now only beginning to be able to impart on my own children in my turn.

Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man are my two favourites of his, and I read them at least twice a year. They, and many of GK's works are available as free ebooks in many online stores and libraries. Go and take a look, if it please you. Go and meet my father.

"WHEN your father told you, walking about the garden, that bees stung or that roses smelt sweet, you did not talk of taking the best out of his philosophy. When the bees stung you, you did not call it an entertaining coincidence. When the rose smelt sweet you did not say "My father is a rude, barbaric symbol, enshrining (perhaps unconsciously) the deep delicate truths that flowers smell." No: you believed your father, because you had found him to be a living fountain of facts, a thing that really knew more than you; a thing that would tell you truth to-morrow, as well as to-day."

~G.K. Chesterton: 'Orthodoxy,' Chap. IX.

Originally shared on Facebook.
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The Video Game Was Rubbish Too, I Hear [Jun. 5th, 2014|09:46 am]

(Me talking to wife about some of the things I've read lately.)

So I've finished Joan of Arc, and then went on to my e-reader to finish off Grimm's Fairy Tales. After that I started on Aesop's Fables, the particular edition of which is started off by an interesting preface, including a fascinating history of the genre, its transmission and pedigree.

At the very beginning though is a brief description of the distinction between the Tale, the Parable and the Fable. It also puts forth the superiority of Fables over the other two forms, which I found very strange. Upon rereading the paragraph, I suppose it can be interpreted to mean merely a superiority in conveying a moral lesson simply by being more direct and unmistakable than either the Tale or the Parable, but even here the superiority is highly suspect and certainly debatable.

For the very directness is a flaw, and the unmistakability often mistaken. In many I can guess the lesson before the story is ended, which makes reading them rather tedious; in others, the opposite is true. I guess one lesson, and then it actually teaches something else entirely, which of course means that the story rather failed in its purpose.

Now this is all well and good for children to whom all these lessons are new and commendable to learn; but perhaps I lose something as an adult, laden as I am with the subtleties of experience and the belligerence of higher formal education. The positive way of saying it is that Fables teach common sense. The negative way of saying it is that all this moralizing just comes off as platitudes.

I observed to Allie that, much like the Greek Sophists were paid handsomely for their sophistry, perhaps the Greek fabulists were also paid well for their platitudes.

In which case, would that be justly called platitution?

I slept on the couch that night.
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Heresy Channel [Jun. 1st, 2014|10:09 am]
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So last Friday was the feast of St. Joan of Arc and I did a little more reading on her online, plus started a second readthrough of Mark Twain's little-known book 'Joan of Arc'. I also found a small History Channel article about her called '7 Things You Didn’t Know About Joan of Arc'. Most of it was factual and harmless enough, but one of the items kind of rustled my jimmies a bit. And they quoth...

"2. In modern times, some doctors and scholars have “diagnosed” Joan of Arc with disorders ranging from epilepsy to schizophrenia."

This sentence is intellectually bankrupt. Why this is even there I do not know (but can hazard several cynical guesses). It insinuates without asserting, and is subtly inserted in a list of facts and parasitically leeches credence from them. It says nothing factual about St. Joan and nothing nobody can surmise who knows anything about the nature of 'modern' experts. If you but move the time period these 'modern' experts are from, they would 'diagnose' Joan with everything else from vitamin deficiency to womanly hysteria, depending on the fads of the time. It does not even have the balance that a CliffNotes reading of Joan's life found in Wikipedia has. At least there it gives equal space both to things like the theory that Joan's Voices came from tuberculosis, and to the rebuttal that explains why that is patent nonsense.

This is why I have little patience for things like the History Channel and its ilk anymore. They are less interested in the truth than they are in revisionist readings of the events of the past that fit their (typically) secularist, materialist-determinist dogmas. To paraphrase Chesterton, they are ever in the business of dismissing supernatural stories that have some basis, and substituting them with natural stories that have no basis.

The person though, the Maid, the Deliverer of France, remains untouched. Here's to you, St. Joan, and to your Master (and mine) whose Ascension we celebrate today. Jhesus Maria!
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Opening Commissions! [Aug. 30th, 2013|05:48 pm]

This is the first time I've done this here, so we'll see how it goes. I don't really have solid rules or pricing yet, just a general idea of what I'd be saying yes and no to, and I see no point in looking at what others are doing until I get an idea of what kind of work I'd actually be handling. If any!

So, just as a baseline here...Collapse )

Oh my glob, some of these samples. They're old. Like, REAL old. Obviously results may vary depending on the nature of the requests I actually get. Pricing flexible-- again, I won't know how much actually feels right until I start doing stuff. I may bump some down, and if I ever feel I need to bump any up, I'll honor whatever we agreed the first time. So here goes! Give me work, people!

I can be messaged on Deviantart, Facebook, and Livejournal. My email is yuffielash at hotmail.com. Some of you know me in person, so you can talk me that way too!

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Hands Skilled at the Lathe [Jun. 21st, 2013|09:35 am]

I didn't get a chance to say anything about Father's Day, been kind of a cray-cray week. That's just as well though-- it gave me time to reflect more on what it means to be a father, in particular an authentically Christian father.

It's probably a rather unoriginal statement-- but must be stated, nevertheless-- that Saint Joseph remains an invaluable model for those of us who have been called to fatherhood. Just as Mary was chosen from before all time to be the Mother of God, St. Joseph was likewise chosen to be the protector and provider of the Holy Family.

Less talked about perhaps is the fact that, though St. Joseph was perfectly chosen and thus perfectly suited for his role, he himself did not find it the ideal situation and circumstance at the time. He was somewhat advanced in years, and some sources teach that it was probable that he was a widower with children of his own by the time Mary was betrothed to him. In any case, as the guardian of a virgin consecrated to God, he certainly did not expect to be a father (again?), and certainly not the adoptive father to the Son of God.

St. Joseph was human, and whether he doubted that he was worthy of being party to a miraculous conception, or if he took the more human, but not unreasonable course of doubting Mary's own virtue, he remained honorable and kind, refusing to be party to shaming Mary with scandal, and chose to bow out of their marriage arrangement quietly, very likely taking on the brunt of the 'blame' of a consecrated virgin being with child onto himself by doing so.

Now here's where things get interesting. St. Joseph was graced with the visitation of an angel who assured him that yes, this was no accident, yes, he was to be the adoptive father of the Son of God. At this point, he was given the choice. Every father-to-be is given the choice, and not everyone says yes. St. Joseph gave his own Fiat to the angel, and the rest, as we know, is history.

What must it have been like for St. Joseph? Most of us have to contend with the idea that we will never be good enough for our fathers, who may sometimes seem to demand perfection every step of the way. But what about St. Joseph, who knows for a fact that his new son IS Perfection, and he will objectively NEVER be 'good enough' in relation to God the Son?

And yet he fulfilled his role admirably, giving wholly and humbly of what he had to offer-- the life of a poor carpenter in a rinky-dink little backwater town in the Roman Empire. He trained his son in his craft, he showed him the value of hard work and what it meant to be a man in the best ways he possibly could, and we can see this reflected in what Jesus was like as a man when he was grown up. For Son of God though he was, his human nature required a model and a mentor, and that was St. Joseph, patron of fathers and workers.

May St. Joseph be a model to all of us who wish to take on fatherhood, to those of us who said yes to a huge gift and a responsibility, perhaps unasked for, and, like St. Joseph, do so mostly in the background, unpraised, unnoticed, a silent pillar of strength for our families.

St. Jospeh, pray for us.
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Sexy, Sexy Lichen [Jun. 4th, 2013|04:12 pm]
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From my Facebook:

I don't mean to belabour a joke or anything, but it's really quite rare that I'm on the pulse of a trending pop culture phenomenon purely by accident, and I'm rather unexpectedly, schaudenfreudianly enjoying it.

For those not in the know, this pretty much encapsulates people's reactions to the latest development in the Game of Thrones tv series this week.

So a friend/coworker's status thread got me to thinking about books and movies and whatnot, and I mentioned there that weighing outright superiority between the two is a waste of time-- the two mediums offer very different things.

That said, any time I want to prove my "hay, guize, I'm not a 'book was better' elitist" bona fides, I always bring up the fact that I vastly prefer Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy to the books because, quite frankly, the books could be crushingly boring if you're not into moss and lichen and whatnot.

All the same, it makes me sad to hear it when someone just outright says that books don't have a place in their lives. Books have been some of my very best friends growing up, and while I am a greatly visually-oriented person myself, nothing compares to the kind of mental images that a few beautifully crafted words can conjure.

Please be kind to us book readers. Most people only exposed to the movie or TV adaptation of things don't realize how long a lot of us waited, wondering whether any studio would ever see money in the books and then invest production in it. You don't know how hard it can be to swallow pettiness over how things don't turn out as we imagined, and then just try to be happy that more people are getting to see a story that we love.

In exchange, I think we can be entitled to a bit of smug satisfaction when we see the apocalypse coming ahead of everyone, then sitting back and watching the world burn.

Disclaimer: I don't actually love Game of Thrones (technically A Song of Ice and Fire). I learned long ago not to love anything in a world written by George RR Martin. That, and I've embraced a very different set of values now than when I had when I began reading the series, and now the novels just strike me... differently. I'll still be reading it all though, for closure.

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Ave Maria [May. 21st, 2013|08:57 am]

From my Facebook:

Humility in prayer means many things, and one of them is the realization that your prayer will never be enough. What do I mean by this? I mean that as fallen creatures, as wounded images of God, our prayers, by themselves, will always be imperfect, always fall short of pleasing God.

Now does this mean that one should stop praying, or pray only with a sense of dread that God may reject you? Of course not! Sincere prayer is always good and one must always pray with confidence that God hears everything we tell Him, and that He always wants to give us what is best for us.

But how can this be if our prayer is always imperfect? Then one must remember to pray in union with the one whose prayer IS perfect and is ALWAYS pleasing to God, and that is the prayer of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. When we pray the Eucharist, we are directly taking part in Christ's perfect prayer.

But sometimes it is not easy to pray as Jesus prays. We cannot always attend Mass. We can be distracted at prayer. Concupiscence-- the tendency towards sin-- may even make us pray that OUR will be done and not God's, sometimes without us even realizing it.

And that is where the value of communal prayer comes in. Liturgy simply means praying in common with all who unite themselves with Jesus when they speak to the Father. Praying by yourself is good. Praying in a group is better. Praying in union with the Churches Triumphant, Suffering, and Militant? That is best of all.

One of the greatest tragedies that the world's history of the past few centuries has wrought is the development of a theology that puts the soul in perfect isolation before the face of God. It is a philosophy that does away with mediation and the merits of praying for or with others. It gives rise to two seemingly contradictory follies that really have the same root. The first is the sin of presumption-- the idea that since one has a direct link to God in prayer, one is privy to His thoughts and counsels, one is immune from sin and assured of Heaven. The second is the sin of despair-- the idea that since one's prayers can never be enough for God, He only sees one's sins and flaws, He can never hear us, sin is insurmountable, and Heaven is impossible. But it is not good for man to be alone.

For Jesus did not leave us orphans. First of all, he left us his Spirit, which is present wherever one or two are gathered in his name. Second, he gave us his angels, true servants from the beginning, with wills and intellects perfectly aligned to the Trinity's, always with us, always watching, always guiding. Finally, he gave to us his saints who, though human, have conquered their sinfulness through Christ, and are now perfectly united in Christ, always with him, always praying, always offering.


The greatest of these, angels and saints, is the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. If Jesus' prayer is the most perfectly pleasing to God, then Mary's prayer is the most perfectly united to that of Jesus'. For she was there in the Incarnation, she was there in the Passion, she was there in the Resurrection. She is here with us now, transforming our prayer if we let her, making it like hers, and commending it to Jesus in that special loving voice of a mother that only a son can hear.

May is the month of Mary. I haven't had much opportunity to sing her praises as I might have wished. There was a lot going on. But know that through it all, I did not break, I did not cry, I did not lose my temper, I did not give in to temptation, and I solely credit it all to the Rosary, that peculiar and powerful devotion to Mary. If there is one thing to take away from all this I say, it is this: pray the Rosary. I cannot recommend it enough. It is a lifeline to Heaven. It is a chain the binds sin and the Devil. It is holding Mary's hand as a little child. It is a sword that proclaims the Gospel and a shield that defends virtue.

Pray the Rosary. Pray the Rosary. Pray the Rosary.

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