I’ve been reading… I finished Chesterton’s St. Francis of Assisi. What a glorious little book. It has helped me to regard St. Francis in a very new way. I’ve always been rather cool toward him, probably mainly due to modern stereotypes, myths, and sentimentalities… the whole Medieval Flower Child thing, you know. I know it’s horrible, but that’s pretty much the (fake) image of St. Francis I’ve grown up with.
Chesterton gives a much more complete and realistic portrait of the Little Poor Man, especially toward the end. If St. Francis lived much of his life in a free-wheeling joy, it was the least he deserved it when it came time for the frightful seraphic vision, the stigmata, the blindness. And far from being the Christian version of a modern-day New Age neo-pagan nature-worshiper, St. Francis, in fact, reclaimed nature for Christianity, cast off the errors of the real, ancient pagans, and provided us with a glimpse of Eden or perhaps of the New Earth that is to come, in which all creation is redeemed and freed from bondage. At the same time, he never shrank from the material, fallen world… what could be greater evidence of that than his love of the lepers?
If you want to get to know St. Francis of Assisi, Chesterton’s book may be a good place to begin. Remember, it’s one of the Catholic Summer Reading selections, too!
I’ve also begun reading through this beautiful anthology I found at my church library: The Wisdom of Catholicism (ed. by Anton C. Pegis, Random House, 1949). So far, I’ve read St. Ignatius of Antioch’s To the Romans, St. Basil the Great’s On Reading Greek Literature, and St. John Chrysostom’s On Charity to the Poor. I’m always struck by how relevant these ancient writings remain. If that timeless relevancy is not a hallmark of truth and wisdom, I don’t know what is. Next up is a selection from St. Augustine’s Confessions, of which I never, ever grow tired.
I’m continuing with the Brideshead Revisited mini-series on DVD. I have to say that I have gained a sympathy for Julia that I usually lacked while reading the book. The dramatization brought it to life much more than Charles’ narration in the book. Julia’s experience of being a wealthy English Catholic girl resonated with my experiences of being a practicing Catholic in America today… experiences of privation, limited prospects, isolation, uncertainty. Not that those are the only things I experience, but sometimes… Well, it just felt good to realize that maybe I don’t have it so very bad. But my heart did ache for Julia. OH, and Rex’s catechism had me in stitches, LOL! And “Bridey’s Bombshell”–devastating.
I am not going to see the new movie version. It looks to be a very pretty film, but it does not look to be the same story. I can enjoy a pretty film, but when it comes to Brideshead Revisited, it’s the story–and how it relates to my faith and my life–that I care about.
I’ve been doing some other stuff too… but mosting reading and watching stuff. :)