Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:
The world revolves; the Cross stands still. I don’t know Latin, but that’s the rough translation of the motto of the Carthusian order (Stat crux dum volvitur orbis). I’ve thought of it often these past weeks.
Things are happening in our world, nation, state and city at such a dizzying pace that processing is difficult. “I protest!” I have wanted to say, at just about every turn. But to post, for example, on social media is simply to invite a firestorm of invective and argument, which moves nothing forward. Do I want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?
The execution on January 13 of Lisa Montgomery, the first woman to be put to death in federal prison since 1953 and a kind of swan song for the outgoing administration, struck me as especially emblematic of our spiritual corruption: the apotheosis of the chaos, lies, violence, God-is-country, and hate-is-love insanity that is now the sea in which we swim.
In the midst of this, I trudge to daily Mass and, partly through the example of friends who long ago incorporated a daily Holy Hour into their lives, and partly through a kind of silent inner call, have been led to sit before the Blessed Sacrament for at least a short time each day. The first day I’d been kneeling before the tabernacle for approximately three minutes when a woman came up with a rolling suitcase, began a lengthy harangue in Spanish, and when I gently replied, “No comprendo, no comprendo,” opened her pack and tried to sell me a pound of butter.
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