In these early Spring days of our dismay at the rapid spread of the COVID-19 disease and its side effects: the painful impossibility of receiving the Eucharist or attending Mass in person, the isolation (for many) of sheltering in place, severe financial losses (also for many), sorrow for those suffering and dying alone around the world, concern for the safety of those we love, the prospect of Holy Week and Easter Sunday without being able to leave home to worship, and fear about what might yet be to come, it’s hard to set the right tone for a post like this. But here goes.
Though we don’t know when “this too will pass,” it is good news that—God willing and if the coronavirus is controlled in time—the Second Annual “Colosseum Summer Institute for Writers of Poetry and Fiction” will be held June 24-27, 2020, at Villanova University, in Pennsylvania. James Matthew Wilson and Josuah Hren make up the faculty and there will be a keynote poetry reading by the award-winning poet, Michael O’Siadhail. See here for more information. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with an absolute deadline of May 1st.
Scholarships will be offered as they become available. All applicants in poetry will be considered for this first scholarship, The Dana Gioia Fellowship in Poetry, which will cover the full cost of the Institute ($700) and include a $300 stipend to be used toward travel to the Institute.
“O Sancte Sebastiane” is a prayer to St. Sebastian in a time of epidemic, set to music in this motet by Renaissance composer Guillaume Dufay.
Always, at evening and morning,
In all hours and moments
While I remain of sound mind,
Protect me and save me
And take out of me, o martyr,
The harmful weakness
From this kind of illness
Defend and guard me
And all my friends,
We who confess ourselves sinners
Before God and holy Mary
And you, o faithful martyr.
O citizen of Milan,
If you wish, you can make
This plague stop
And obtain this from God
Because it is well-known to many
That you have this boon from him.
You healed Zoe the mute
And restored her healthy
To her husband Nicostratus,
Doing this in a miraculous way.
In their agony and promised
Them the eternal life
Which is due to martyrs.
O martyr Sebastian
Remain always with us
And through your merits
Guard us, who are in this life,
Heal and rule us
And from plague protect us
Presenting us to the Trinity
And holy virgin mother.
And may we end our life thus
That we may have the prize
And the brotherhood of martyrs
And see our holy God.
O how he shone with wondrous grace,
Sebastian the famous martyr
Who, bearing a soldier’s arms
But moved by the victory of his brothers
Comforted their weak hearts
By speaking to them as a heavenly messenger.
Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks: The 2020 Edition
The image is based, of course, on Edward Hopper’s classic 1942 painting, “Nighthawks.” As Open Culture notes, it takes Nighthawks’ “theme of loneliness to new extremes—extremes that we’re just starting to get accustomed to now.”
Malick’s “A Hidden Life”: The Cost Of Conscience
Reviewer Jennifer Frey writes about A Hidden Life, a mainstream movie about martyrdom by highly acclaimed director Terrence Malick. A farmer named Franz Jägerstätter faces a test of conscience, whether or not to sign an oath to support Hitler. He refuses, even when he is told to do so by his priest and his bishop, and even though he will lose his life and leave his much-loved wife and daughters behind to probable poverty.
An interesting quote from the review: “Malick’s film leaves its audience with a question: What does it mean to be a witness in the shadows, to die when the world is not watching? He suggests a partial answer by invoking a quote from George Eliot, which inspires the title of his film: ‘The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.’”
“I Am Patrick” Is Perhaps the Best Film Yet on Ireland’s Greatest Saint
The premier of “I Am Patrick” was appropriately scheduled for March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, at selected theaters, then coronavirus precautions shut down the theaters. You can still order it on DVD here; $15 buys the CD along with instant streaming access.
“I Am Patrick” was directed by less-renowned directors than Malick, from the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Fr. Billy Swan, who wrote this review, wrote his doctoral dissertation on St. Patrick, and he served as a consultant with the movie makers from CBN, with the intention of portraying Patrick from his own writings and stripping away the false associations the saint has acquired over the years. Fr. Swan writes, “Patrick teaches us to see everything, even suffering, as falling under the rubric of God’s providence. Once we avoid bitterness and despair, suffering and trials can invite us to a deeper trust in God, a growing friendship with him, and a confidence that during every trial God’s purposes are moving to their fulfillment.”
And so I thank my God without ceasing who preserved me as his faithful one on the day of my trial so that today I can offer a sacrifice to him with confidence. [Today] I offer my soul as a living victim to Christ my Lord who preserved me in all my troubles so that I can say: ‘Who am I Lord and what is my vocation that you have co-operated with me with such divine [power]?’ Thus today I constantly praise and glorify your name wherever I may be among the nations both in my successes and my difficulties. So whatever happens to me—good or ill—I ought to accept with an even temper and always give thanks to God who has shown me that I can trust him without limit or doubt.” (St. Patrick—Confessio 34)