To Escape

From time to time in every person, escape is desired desperately.  For some, escape is ever on the brink of consciousness.  There is a deep dissatisfaction with human life, one’s own life and news of the world.

It is useless, useless, said the Philosopher. Life is useless, all useless (Eccl 1:2). 

With realization that human accomplishment is vanity, comes the idea of escape.  Leave the bad, get to the good.  How to get on the path to the good?  Where is that “narrow way” (Mt 7:14) that leads to life, nirvana?

I hope you find it.



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‘Stabat Mater’

Though I’m a Catholic, I’m not one for Marian devotion.  My heart belongs to Jesus.  However I was struck by the poetic beauty of this Marian hymn I came across in my access of today’s scripture readings on the U.S. Catholic bishops site.

A Mother Stands (Latin, Stabat Mater)

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
‘Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of his own nation
Saw him hang in desolation
Till his spirit forth he sent.

O sweet Mother! font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
Mourning him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of you to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.

Wounded with his every wound,
Steep my soul till it has swooned
In his very Blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In his awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally.
Amen. (Alleluia)

In Catholic church liturgy, September 15 is a day of memorial for our Lady of sorrows.  This 13th century hymn therefore, is fitting to include in church worship for the day. One may learn about the background to the hymn at Wikipedia.  I think the words or ideas of the hymn are theologically valid for any Christian, Protestant or other.  Its artistic beauty is self-evident.

The inspiration here is John 19:25ff., one of my favorite passages in all the Bible.  It really shows personal involvement in the composition of Gospel of John, so different from the oral tradition of the synoptic gospels.

  Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.


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Jesus Said:

One thing about the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, which has some crazy content:  almost all its sayings of Jesus begin with the simple introductory formula, “Jesus said” (in Coptic, the word order is, “said Jesus”).  This implies that Jesus was an important person, for his words were memorable and so preserved.

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today (Mt 6:34).

Hoy mismo!

This is the day!  It’s today!  A book called The Eternal Now (1963) by Paul Tillich has it that the eternal is present in the temporal.  Hey, now!

“Throughout this life, you can never be certain of living long enough to take another breath”  (The Zen Teaching of Huang Po, tr. John Blofeld, NY: Grove, 1959, p. 64).

The wise advice of Jesus of Nazareth shows the future interfering with people’s minds and it shouldn’t.  Perhaps the state we’re in is the result of original sin.  Can one live without the future?





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Remember Lin Zhao

See the source image

Lin Zhao, 1932-1968, was a Chinese dissident, executed for her loudly expressed views against the corruption and injustice of Chairman Mao’s communist regime.  She was a convert to Christianity after attending a Methodist school and joined the Communist Party as a 16-year-old.  She was an agitator early on and she didn’t live long, but her writings survive.

Jailed in 1960, Lin Zhao spent 8 years in prison until she was secretly killed by firing squad.  In prison she was not silent, but continued her advocacy for reform on behalf of “the common people.”  In her cell, she wrote in her own blood, on linens and such, pricking her finger with bamboo.

Lin Zhao’s radical activism reminds us, in the West, of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but she stands in a long line of Chinese dissent.  She combined religious and political idealism and dedicated herself to a better world.


Lian Xi, ‘The Chinese Dissident who Wrote in Blood’

‘Screening China’

‘In Search of Lin Zhao’s Soul’

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“I don’t give a damn about your intentions [at all]”


Above title of this post is a line from the song by Alabama Shakes – ‘Always Alright.’  They performed it on the Saturday Night Live stage in February 2013.  You may check out their SNL shows (and others) on YouTube.  They are of high quality, musically speaking, representing the genre of southern rock and roll.

Alabama Shakes . . . their music is emotionally powerful.

n.b. Info on the band:

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The Star Spangled Banner – an Appreciation

The ‘Star Spangled Banner’ is a patriotic song consisting of words and music about the United States of America.  It is the national anthem and thus played and/or sung at important public events.  It comes at the beginning of an event, setting the tone for the people gathered.

Here is a simple piano delivery of the tune:  The lyrics are based on a poem – ‘The Defence of Fort McHenry’ – written by Francis Scott Key in the year 1814.

The first two lines of the poem:

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,

picture the United States flag as the goal of a quest, a quest to see.  To see it, for Francis Scott Key, meant victory.  In 1814, the flag had fifteen stars on it.  Today, 2017, the flag has fifty stars.  The stars represent the states of the Union.  That Union is an ongoing victory, the achievement of many people becoming one.

USA Flag

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Transmission of Enlightenment in Buddhism

The Buddha held up a flower before his circle of disciples.  All were confused except one, M. (I abbreviate the name), who smiled.  Buddha was happy and announced that M. had received enlightenment and wisdom.  M. alone understood.

‘The Flower Sermon’ is found in the Zen collection called Mumonkan.


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