Sunday, September 26, 2010


Eating by yourself is a hopeless thing
I like hopeful things
Like taking the bus to Sidney and watching the waves
But not when it's dark

Sunday, August 15, 2010

T.S. Eliot on Dante

“The poet does not aim to excite—that is not even a test of his success—but to set something down; the state of the reader is merely that reader's particular mode of perceiving what the poet has caught in words. Dante, more than any other poet, has succeeded in dealing with his philosophy, not as a theory (in the modern and not the Greek sense of that word) or as his own comment or reflection, but in terms of something perceived. When most of our modern poets confine themselves to what they had perceived, they produce for us, usually, only odds and ends of still life and stage properties; but that does not imply so much that the method of Dante is obsolete, as that our vision is perhaps comparatively restricted.”

—T.S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Finished the Iliad

After several months, I have now finished reading that great Homeric epic, The Iliad. It is a beautiful story - beautiful in that it movingly portrays human character in the extreme situation of war. In the last chapter, we see the panoply of human emotions: the frenzy of the games held after the victory of battle, the longing for sweet sleep after a long day, the insatiable grief and self-torment of a man mourning his best friend. It is good to see that humanity at its core has not changed much since Ancient Greece. In this great epic, we see a reflection of ourselves, as through an ancient mirror.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Two thoughts

This morning, I had two interesting thoughts.

The first pertains to a remark I heard by a coworker 13 years ago. “If heaven is real,” she said, “I don’t want to go there. It would be boring.” This morning, I had a thought that, given that God is omnipotent, the possibilities for heaven are limitless. Specifically, one could conceive that each room in the kingdom of heaven might be its own universe, with its own space, its own galaxies, its own planets, its own flora and fauna. Maybe not exactly like that, but that’s one possibility that shows what an amazing and interesting place it will be. No, Sarah, heaven will not be boring.

The second thought was about the idea of multiple universes that is currently fashionable. If there are other universes, can one universe visit the inhabitants of another universe? Probably not, which is sad. But, perhaps we will see each other in the kingdom of heaven? That is another reason why heaven will not be boring.

Monday, October 05, 2009


Today I take up as my life's mission the following phrase from The Imitation of Christ, Book II, Chapter 1:

    To prepare a worthy dwelling for Christ in my heart.

This philosophy is applicable to any state in life. We take whatever comes our way, and use it to prepare our hearts as a dwelling for Christ. If there is trouble in the family, or at work, or in friendship, we treat it as a sharing in the suffering of Christ. When we see others better off than us, we do not envy them, having forsaken the riches of the world, to prepare our hearts for Christ. If we are ill and confined to a bed for the remainder of our years, we use the time profitably in prayer, to prepare our hearts to receive Christ. In this way we attain peace in times of prosperity and in times of affliction.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Find prolonged moments of silence, in order to review your own lives

Pope Benedict XVI: "Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you to find in this Lenten Season prolonged moments of silence, possibly in retreat, in order to review your own lives in the light of the loving plan of the heavenly Father."

Angelus: Second Sunday of Lent, 8 March

Monday, March 02, 2009

Bishop Richard Gagnon's homily

(1st Sunday of Lent, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Victoria BC)

Rainbow as announcement of God's mercy: Even if man falls into sin, God
will not destroy the earth. Christ fulfills this covenant.

Harrowing of Hell: purgatory. Another sign of mercy.

Baptism more than ritual: a sacrament of mercy, through which we are
saved. Also a gift of holiness, as it unites us to God. Also, a task to
live in a way befitting this gift.

Temptation is especially strong in times of holiness, such as the Lenten
season. We must persevere.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Father Benoit's advice in the confessional

Realize the love and forgiveness of Christ.

Spread the joy of Christ.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Went to Confession today, and Father Benoit ended with, "God bless you,
and be happy." Will do!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Instiki 0.10.2 Export Markup patch

If anyone is using Instiki 0.10.2 and wants the Export Markup (Textile) link to work, make the following changes to the source code:

Insert "options[:stream] = false" at line 66:

options[:type] ||= (FILE_TYPES[File.extname(file)] || 'application/octet-stream')
options[:stream] = false
super(file, options)

Insert "require 'zip/zip'" at line 4:

require 'parsedate'
require 'zip/zip'

class WikiController < ApplicationController

Thursday, January 01, 2009

How does one live well?

How does one live well?
Or what makes a day well lived?
Is it to eat well, drink well, and be glad?
To pray in a silent room?
To build sandcastles beneath blue skies?
To create?

How does one live well if one were shut up in a cell with no food?
No materials, no books, no light
Just hunger, and thoughts, and pain,
philosophy, religion, contemplation,
emotion, meditation, and confusion?

What makes a day well lived?
Or is it better to consider a week?
Or a month, or a year, or a lifetime?
Is it better not to consider it at all,
but to live haphazardly, from one inclination to the next,
going by feel, gut, recollection,
remonstrance, rebuke, appetite?

On what can we ground our living?
On what motto, creed, or ideal?
Shall poetry lead us, or some ancient script,
a philosopher from Greece or Rome,
a symphony, a painting, an epitaph?
Shall we lose ourselves in language or in study,
in literature, physics, studying the cosmos?
Will we find our salvation in the order and reason of mathematics?

How does one live well?
Or what makes a day well lived?
Is it to eat well, drink well, and be glad?
To pray in a silent room?
To build sandcastles beneath blue skies?
To create?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Obedience Is Freedom

The rules of religion are, paradoxically, a source of freedom. Without rules and traditions, every day would be similar to the others. I would be working as hard and as late on Sunday as I do on the other days. Day blurs into day, and week into week.

But when authority tells me that I not only shouldn't work on Sunday but that I must not, that this day is to be devoted to study and prayer and family, that this or that day is to celebrate this saint or that doctrine, then I am free to do these things. When I am commanded to go to church on a holy day of obligation, then I am freed up to go to church even in the middle of a hectic workday. Life has so many pressing commitments that a command from authority is needed to open up spaces for prayer and celebration. In this way, obedience (to the church) is freedom (from the world).

It is also freedom from self. Were I to be deprived of the guidance of Scripture and church teachings, deprived of the traditions of holy days and of the Mass - in short, if I were to have no guidance as to how to spend my time or choose my actions - what would life be like? Surely it would be a constant, frenetic chasing of one pleasure after another, never satisfied, always empty and exhausted. But with the constraints and wisdom of an ancient faith, and the spiritual nourishment of Holy Mass each Sunday, life becomes ordered, resilient, festive, joyful, whole.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Like most people, I have high standards for my work and, in some things, certain ways of doing things that I consider to be the Best Way. But in a team, I must accept that other people may have ideas that are equally valid, or ideas that may be deficient in some respects but good enough. But of course, if someone is veering off course, or doing shoddy work, or could benefit from a sugestion, I'll offer my advice.

There is a balance between perfection and good enough, and between strictness and tolerance - between consistency and flexibility, dogmatism and freedom. And they are not necessarily mutually exclusive - one enhances the other, or close observance of one makes the other acceptable. Obviously if things are going too far one way or the other, one must pull back.

So it's a matter of good judgement - making the right call at the right time. I tend toward the strict side of things, and I need to be conscious of when to let up, of when it is more appropriate to be flexible.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"many look forward to a genuine and total emancipation of humanity wrought solely by human effort"

"Thinking they have found serenity in an interpretation of reality everywhere proposed these days, many look forward to a genuine and total emancipation of humanity wrought solely by human effort; they are convinced that the future rule of man over the earth will satisfy every desire of his heart. Nor are there lacking men who despair of any meaning to life and praise the boldness of those who think that human existence is devoid of any inherent significance and strive to confer a total meaning on it by their own ingenuity alone."

- Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Western Modern Culture

"Again and again we encounter the signs of an alternative civilization
to that built on Christ as "cornerstone" - a civilization which, even if
not explicitly atheist, is at least positivistic and agnostic, since it
is built upon the principle of thinking and acting as if God did not
exist. This approach can easily be recognized in the modern so-called
scientific, or rather scientistic, mentality, and it can be recognized
in literature, especially the mass media. To live as if God did not
exist means to live outside the parameters of good and evil, outside the
context of values derived from God. It is claimed that man himself can
decide what is good or bad. And this program is widely promoted in all
sorts of ways."

- Pope John Paul II, "Memory and Identity"

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Today, feeling in high spirits. Read some poetry. Felt inspired. Built something. There definitely seems to be a cycle between highs and lows. Curiously, both are times when poetry is read easily: during the highs, one can revel in the playfulness of the poets; during the lows, one seeks solace in the searchings of the poets. And strangely, at either end I wouldn't have it any other way: I love the confidence and creativity that accompanies the highs; I love the brutal honesty and reality and ability-to-perceive-the-world-as-it-is of the lows.

But for today, I'm carried through the day by good feelings.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Promise to myself: endeavour to get enough sleep each night. It is a
simple practice that yields great benefits; failure to do so results in
unneeded misery.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Four Last Things

"He who meditates on the Four Last Things, namely, death, judgment, and
the eternity of hell and paradise, will not fall into sin."

- St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Rule of Life, I.2, circa 1767

Sunday, May 04, 2008

"Worldly people call illnesses misfortunes, but the saints call them visitations of God and favors."

Worldly people call illnesses misfortunes, but the saints call them visitations of God and favors. When we are ill we ought certainly to take remedies in order to be cured, but we should always be resigned to whatever God disposes.
– St. Alphonsus De Liguori

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Question of Emphasis

Sunday 10:07pm. It's often a question of emphasis, shading. Weight this aspect of life slightly more, or that. And choosing which wisdom to consume. Eventually it all settles down, an equilibrium of judgement, homeostatic philosophy. Stage lights on, and you act.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lift, light

Lift, light, rise, spring, burst
I am nothing, I die.

Lift, glow, arise, renew, reveal
I am nothing, I die.

Sky, fir, cone, phase, flight
I am nothing, I die.

Wheat, wist, leaf, tone, meal
I am nothing, I die.

May the Lord grant us a restful night,
and a peaceful death.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Today I took a break from work

Today I took a break from work, after an intense week. Today is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time on the Church calendar. I want to treat Sunday differently from the other days, focused on God. This is his day, and ours as well – a day to rest.

I went to mass this morning at St. Andrew's Cathedral. Afterwards, I took my mother out to lunch at Subway, where we enjoyed foot-long toasted Subway Clubs. Back at home, I listened to some talks given by the Pope. Took a half-hour nap. Sang a hymn, and prayed part of the Liturgy of the Hours for the Fourth Sunday. And now it's 4:20pm.

So far, the day has been a rejuvenating change from the norm.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

"From this follows the obligation of the cessation from work and labor on Sundays

"From this follows the obligation of the cessation from work and labor on Sundays and certain holy days. The rest from labor is not to be understood as mere giving way to idleness; much less must it be an occasion for spending money and for vicious indulgence, as many would have it to be; but it should be rest from labor, hallowed by religion."

– Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, 41

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"We look to you for our stable hope"

"We look to you for our stable hope in a constantly changing world."

– Psalm-Prayer, Wednesday, Week II, Liturgy of the Hours

Monday, January 21, 2008

The truth is to be found not within

The truth is to be found not within. Nor in the past, nor in literature, nor in art. Not in childhood, not in knowledge, not in dreams. Nor the body, the mind, the heart. The time is short. The truth is found where it has always been found in every age.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Thomas Dubay quote

"The more we are at the beck and call of others, the more we sacrifice
ourselves for their sakes, the more we are conformed to the Splendor of
the Father who chose to live among us as our ransom and our servant."
- Thomas Dubay

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

C.S. Lewis quote

Found this insightful quote in C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity:

"That is why the Christian is in a different position from other people
who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God if
there is one; or - if they think there is not - at least they hope to
deserve approval from good men. But the Christian thinks any good he
does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will
love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He
loves us..."

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Scattered thoughts, and a cool breeze to cool the perspiring neck. Cacophony of branches and roots; tangle of stalks and grasses. Leaning backwards, leaning in, seeking the cool shade. The bee flits from dry leaf to dry leaf, finding no relief.

Weary mind, weary soul, smell of burning wood. And little popping sounds about, and slow-walking people, and resonant bass notes from a faraway drum. Strong, pungent air, smell of stiff stalks, scent of wheat. Smell of sky and leaf, of cloud and twig, birdsong and thunder.

Wild song of a dying bird, ecstatic in its dying. Wild gaze of a hunter sighting his prey, heart arrhythmically pounding, the gaze that sees not, the mind from which reason is absent, the animal impulse that will not be sated. Against the sun, the skin of the neck


Saturday, August 04, 2007


For the weary traveller, there are few things better than sitting in a massive, airy room with a view of the open sky. The crowd tries to make a din, but the noise is subsumed by the empty space, resulting in a quiet peace. Here you observe spent mothers, arms draped over the backs of their chairs, watching over their children. And men wearing hats, talking into their hands, talking of synchronicity.

Time. We're running out of time! Peer up, into the sky, through the water and into the sunlight. Weary limbs fall. Weary couples struggle to sit down, tripping on their luggage, dipping fish into mayonnaise while reading books. Strangers sit down together, make an uncomfortable silence, push a cup of coffee on a table of granite and wood.

The joyful businesswoman is frozen in a state of running, and the dreamer looks up at the clouds, aware of the silence, aware of the buzzing, and seeing conversations flowing soundlessly: words, words, transient words, floating into nothingness. Talk, talk, constant chatter, noise disappearing into the vacuous ephemeral, information quantized into bits, a beautiful woman in a rush to wait, stares, gestures, glances,


Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Dusk, when the air is thick, and families turn off their car alarms and step inside, readying themselves for the journey home. The evening hour, hour of police sirens and horns, hour of the gradient sky, mauve into turquoise into aquamarine. Dusk: one pinprick star in a pastel, muted universe, one lonely lamp on an aluminum foil balcony, round and round the sleepy turnabout they go.