THE BEAUTY WITHIN

Sister Hanna Maria:
It’s a daily being confronted by the truth of God, which is not apart from me. It’s not different from me, not apart from me, but it is to go into my heart and to meet God in my heart. And also by repeating the Psalms day out and day in. They are so rich. There is no mood where you can’t find yourself in the prayers of the Psalms. So whatever mood I’m in, you go to the office and the day is… The office, the liturgy for us, it’s like the spine. It’s like the skeleton of a body. It’s what keeps the day for us. And it is what keeps us up.

SPIKY, HAIRY, SHINY: INSECTS OF LA

Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins: “Meet your neighbors!” invites the Natural History Museum, but they’re not talking about the people next door. The exhibit “Spiky, Hairy, Shiny: Insects of LA,” runs through April 1, 2022. All over the city, for the last 10 years people have gathered insects to help the […]

CLOISTERED

“A particularly severe form of asceticism within Christianity is that of anchorites, who typically allowed themselves to be immured, and subsisting on minimal food. For example, in the 4th century AD, one nun named Alexandra immured herself in a tomb for ten years with a tiny aperture enabling her to receive meager provisions. Saint Jerome (c. 340–420) spoke of one follower who spent his entire life in a cistern, consuming no more than five figs a day.”

ROBERT MACFARLANE’S LOST WORDS

His capacity to conjure landscape is alone astounding. Add to that an astonishingly wide-ranging grasp of geography, geology, natural history, cartography, and literature. Throw in the fact that he’s no mere scholar or armchair philosopher: every book is grounded in his willingness to take on the physical hardship of mountain climbing, hiking, camping, sailing, and tramping. But what makes Macfarlane sublime is the aching longing for a lost Eden that sounds like a bass note beneath all his work.

NOT GRITTING MY TEETH!

I keep thinking of Fr. Walter Ciszek, who said clandestine Masses in the woods, under penalty of death, as a prisoner in Siberia. “[T]hese men would actually fast all day long and do exhausting physical labor without a bite to eat since dinner the evening before, just to be able to receive the Holy Eucharist—that was how much the Sacrament meant to them in this otherwise God-forsaken place.”