Monday, May 31, 2010

Here is a story about St. Joseph Moscati.

Joseph Moscati graduated from medical school in 1903. After his graduation he worked at a hospital for persons with incurable diseases. In 1908, while he was still working there, Mt Vesuvius erupted causing chaos and confusion. After assisting at the hospital Moscati quickly went to a nursing home located on the outskirts of town. There he stayed and assisted with the evacuation, taking out the last patient only minutes before the whole building collapsed. He sought no recognition for his brave deeds but instead petitioned the Board of Health to recognize those who assisted him.

Go on and vote on Milisande's blog. I think it will be open for the next six days.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Saint of the Week

I have decided to appoint St. Joseph Moscati as the saint of the week.

St. Joseph Moscati was born in late 19th century Italy. He was the seventh of nine children. Joseph was inspired to become a doctor upon watching his older brother suffer from a head injury. He received his doctorate of medicine in 1903. In 1913 he made a vow of celibacy and aspired toward the priesthood but was discouraged from this path by a Jesuit who encouraged him to devote his life to the practice of medicine.
Moscati gave himself completely to his patients. His special love was for the poor and elderly. Often he would see patients for free and even slip money into their prescriptions. He was ahead of his time in his practice and believed that one's physical health requires a balance of body, mind and soul. Joseph's love sprang from the simple fact that he saw all people as children of God and beloved by Him. He worked tirelessly for his patients, completely exhausting himself. He died at the age of 46. He was canonized in 1987 and his feast is November 16.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I'm really tired but I am going to post anyways. This week has been so insanely busy full of baseball practices, appointments, tons of yard work, errands and even a party. The whirlwind continues until Monday when hopefully I will be able to rest but as the old saying goes there is no rest for the weary.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Week in Review

This week I ..

finished watching the extended edition of The Two Towers(thank you Elisabeth!)...

began reading Sun Slower, Sun Faster, a piece of historical fiction about the church in England and the Holy Mass...

studied for the ACT test(fun)...

went to mass at St. Florian's, an old polish church...

and went to my little brother's 1st baseball game of the season(Go White Soxs!).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Diminished but not Destroyed

J.R.R Tolkien’s novels, particularly The Lord of the Rings, give us a deeper understanding of good and evil. Good is always good and evil is always evil. The one ring is inherently evil. The good character of it’s bearers does not change it’s evil nature. It’s power is always black no matter what the intentions of those who wield it are. It’s power can only bring confusion, hatred and destruction. Our actions are the same. They are either good or evil separate of the outcome they produce.
The forces of good and evil daily clash in our world. Evil and hatred are the causes of war, genocide and terrorism. In his own time Tolkien saw the forces of evil at work in the world. The leaders of Communism and Nazism were empowered by darkness. They destroyed millions of lives and divided the country of Europe. They broke the bonds of peace and trust that existed between nations and set up in their place walls of suspicion and hate. Evil always seeks to destroy, to break apart. Saruman destroys what is beautiful and corrupts it breeding orcs from men and felling trees for factories. (Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Print.) The one ring corrupts those who bear it, from the humble hobbit to the powerful wizard.
Tolkien loved the traditional culture of Great Britain. He was deeply troubled by those who were trying to change. The 20th century saw the modernization of society. Everything from government to education to family life was being redefined. Tolkien saw these as negative reformations and changes. He clung to his old way of life. Even the Catholic Church, which he loved so dearly, was undergoing changes in it’s liturgies and rites. Tolkien stubbornly refused to adhere to the adjustments and continued to recite the words from the old liturgies. (Collins, David. J.R.R Tolkien. First. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 2005. Print.) Saruman tried to destroy the traditional way of life that existed in Hobbiton replacing Hobbitholes with apartments and gardens with work yards. (Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Print.) The industrialization of Hobbiton reflected Tolkien’s feelings about the changes happening in his own country.
Tolkien offered to the world a solution to it’s troubles in the final chapters of Lord of the Rings. Strengthened by their quest and the peril they together endured, the hobbits returned to the Shire as leaders. They had grown in mind and body and were able to resist the oppression of Saruman and his men. They started a rebellion and drove him from the Shire. They then assisted in rebuilding the community and took on leadership roles. (Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Print.) Tolkien thought that the peoples of Europe could be strengthened by the war. He hoped that a new age would begin and that leaders would rise up and drive the forces of evil form their homes. Then, like in Hobbitton, Europe could truly be rebuilt and have a chance of returning to normal life. He never saw the dawn of this new hope. He died in 1973 in the midst of the Cold War. He, like the protagonist Frodo, left Europe with a great gift, a legacy, and like Frodo was not able to enjoy the fruit of his labor. “I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.”(Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King. J.RR. Tolkien, chp.9, pg.1029)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rowlings Fans Beware!

J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series discuss the topic of good and evil. Tolkien unlike Rowlings portrayed good and evil as black and white, an action as being either intrinsically evil or intrinsically good. Evil actions in his tales have evil results. Saruman the wizard starts out good but his continual choice of evil corrupts him and all under his power. He is not able to achieve a good end by a bad means. In J.K. Rowlings novels the topics of good and evil are blurred. Although Harry and his friends are the good guys in the series they often do bad things to get what they want.
In the first book of J.R Tolkien’s trilogy two of the main characters are faced with a challenge. Aragorn, the heir of Ilsildor, and Boromir, son of Denethor, could easily have taken the ring from Frodo the bearer but neither do. Aragorn, from the beginning of the tale, chooses not to use the ring for himself but to safeguard it and Frodo. Boromir was tempted by the ring and at one point tried to wrest it from the ring bearer. Although he only wished to use it to help his people the power of the ring caused him to be filled with lust. The ring also tempted Boromir’s father, the steward of Gondor. He used a tool of the Dark Lord in an attempt to safe guard his realm but was corrupted by the dark forces of Sauron and as a result killed himself. The great wizard Saruman fell in the same way. He used an instrument of the enemy to try to gain power for himself and came under the spell of the Dark Lord. (Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Print.) An evil means cannot be used to achieve a good end.
You reap what you sow. Author J.K. Rowling however doesn’t seem to think so. Her characters often do bad things with no negative consequences. They perform unjust acts in the name of justice. No matter what the circumstances good results don’t justify a bad way of getting them. Stealing ice cream for a sibling’s party does not justify the act of stealing even if that is the only way of getting the ice cream. In Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix both Harry and his friend Ron pass exams by cheating. Harry even cheats to win the Triwizard. Harry’s godfather, Sirius, encourages deterrent behavior and Harry and his friends break school rules often but are never punished.
J.K. Rowling’s series presents readers with an ideology known as moral relativity. Moral relativists believe that there are no moral absolutes, that good and evil are relative, and that the morality of an action changes with the circumstance and intentions of the person. It is true that if an individual is unaware that he is doing something wrong he himself is not guilty of the misdemeanor but the action itself remains immoral. Cheating is always wrong even if we do it for the good of another. An example is Hermoine doing Harry and Ron’s homework for them. Just because Harry and his friends stand for what is good doesn’t excuse deterrent behavior. Harry is never punished for his misconduct but is often encouraged to do it. In contrast Tolkien’s characters suffer the consequences of their wrong actions. For example to save the life of Faramir, the son of Gondor’s Steward, Bergond, one of the guards, leaves his post to save him. In Gondor this was punishable by death. Since he had left his post to save someone’s life he was spared this harsh sentence but was still forced to leave the city. Saruman the wizard and his cohort Grima Wormtongue are locked in the tower of Insengard for their traitorous deeds. Actions have consequences. No matter what the results of the action a good end never justifies a bad means. The protagonist Frodo is saved from the power of the ring by the creature Gollum. Although he saved Frodo’s life Gollum is punished by fate since in saving Frodo he took the forbidden ring for himself. Gollum’s lust destroys him and he dies in the fires of Mount Doom as a punishment. (Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Print.)Tolkien’s tales teach us that no matter how noble the intention our evil actions will be punished someday.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Heaven in a Pumpkin Patch

One of the best descriptions I've ever heard of Heaven was in the novel "My Antonia" by Willa Cather. It is a narrative story written in first person. The narrator relates his growing up on the American frontier with a neighbor girl known as Antonia. In the scene of the book that this quote is from the narrator is lying in his aunt's pumpkin patch.
"I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one it comes as naturally as sleep."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Analogy vs. Allegory

J.R.R Tolkien’s literary writings, especially Lord of the Rings, were influenced by his experience in World War I. Tolkien served in the British army as a Second Lieutenant from 1915 until the end of the war. As an officer he participated in several different aspects of the war including communications and front line action. His battalion took part in two major battles, Orvilles and the attack on Schwaben. During the war Tolkien began to develop the stories of Middle Earth that would later on become Lord of the Rings. (May 2010. Croft, Janet. "The Great War and Tolkien's Memory." Mythlore (2002): n. pag. Web. 8 May 2010.) Many parallels referring to the war can be found in the story, however Lord of the Rings is not meant to be a direct allegory, as some claim, but rather an analogy. Tolkien himself made this clear and was very annoyed by those who stated otherwise.
Soldiers in combat experience a special kind of friendship often referred to as comradery. Tolkien experienced this kind of relationship in his days as an officer with the soldiers under his command. Every British officer had a “batman”, a soldier of a lower class who waited on him, took care of his belongings and acted much as a servant would. The character of Sam Gamgee was based off of the “batmen” who had served Tolkien throughout the war. “My Sam Gamgee”, said Tolkien,” Is indeed a reflection of the English soldier, of the private and batmen I knew in the 1914 war.”( Croft , Janet. "The Great War and Tolkien's Memory." Mythlore (2002): n. pag. Web. 8) In the story Sam is “Mr. Frodo’s” servant. He cooks for him, fetches water, makes the campfire and protects him from intruders while he rests. (Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Print. ) Their friendship is similar to the comradery experienced by soldiers. It not ruined by the horror they experience together but rather strengthened by it.
The trenches of WWI were gruesome places. Soldiers returned home with stories of horror concerning their experiences there. J.R.R.Tolkien spent part of the war in trenches on the frontline where he contracted a fever that kept him off the battlefield for much of the war. When creating the landscapes for Mordor and the Dead Marshes Tolkien drew from this experience. (Croft, Janet. "The Great War and Tolkien's Memory." Mythlore (2002): n. pag. Web. 8)The battlefields of WWI were polluted with the rotting bodies of dead men and animals sinking into the mud. When traveling through the Dead Marshes Frodo and Sam see the faces of those fallen in battle. Old and decaying, hideous to behold yet once looked upon their gaze could not be drawn from them. (Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Print.) In a letter Tolkien wrote,” The Dead Marshes and the approaches to the Morarnnon owe something to northern France after the Battle of the Somme”. (Croft, Janet. "The Great War and Tolkien's Memory." Mythlore (2002): n. pag. Web. 8) Mordor resembles “no-man’s land”, the area between the German and Allied trenches. No-man’s land was entrenched with fuming potholes caused by artillery shells much like the one Sam and Frodo hid in during a scene in The Two Towers. The battlefield was deprived of life, like Mordor it’s only inhabitants were enemy soldiers and dead, barren trees. The battlefield reeked of smoke from artillery, Mordor from the fumes of Mount Doom. Just as the horror of the battlefield landscape was caused by man’s misuse of technology so to the desolation of Mordor was not caused by nature but was the work of evil minds.
World War I marked the end of a golden age in Europe. Similarly the destruction of the one Ring brought about the end of the third age in Middle Earth. The third age was a high culture of music and art created by the elves and dwarfs. Their power diminished with the destruction of the Ring and these ancient peoples began to fade. Middle Earth was then left in the hands of men who had to preserve what was left of beauty in the world after the Great War. The fourth age was a lesser one, as was the new age that began in Europe after WWI. The rise of Communism and Fascism, the Cold War and the raising of the Berlin Wall were some of the events that followed the 1914 war. The evils that started it, unlike the Ring, had not been defeated
Some critics of Lord of the Rings claim that it is an allegory of World War I. An allegory is a story in which people, things and events have a hidden symbolic meaning meant to teach a moral lesson. C.S Lewis’s stories about Narnia are direct allegories to the Bible meant to teach children the story of redemption. Tolkien strongly disagreed with this method of instruction and never used it himself. “As for any inner meaning or 'message', it has in the intention of the author none. It is neither allegorical nor topical... It was written long before the foreshadow of 1939 had yet become a threat of inevitable disaster, and from that point the story would have developed along essentially the same lines, if that disaster had been averted.” (Croft, Janet. ""The Young perish and the Old Wither Lingering": J.R.R Tolkien on World War II." Mythlore June (2003): n. pg. Web. 11 May 2010.) Once it was suggested by a Swedish commentator that Saruman was meant to represent Joseph Stalin. Tolkien then clearly stated that nothing he wrote was a direct reference to any person or world event. “Such an allegory is entirely foreign to my thought,” he retorted. (Croft, Janet. "The Great War and Tolkien's Memory." Mythlore (2002): n. pag. Web. 8)Tolkien’s writings were analogies. An analogy is a partial resemblance between subjects usually considered unalike. Lord of the Rings is an analogy about evil and goodness, darkness and light. The War of the Ring has similarities to WWI but does not refer directly to it; in fact there are many differences. As well as being influenced by WWI, J.R Tolkien was also affected by WWII, Communism, total war methods and industrialization. All of these ideologies are found in Lord of the Rings. His dislike of modern technology is very clearly expressed, especially in the scourging of the Shire, which takes place in Return of the King, as well as in the character of Saruman and his industrialized city of Insengard.
The success or failure of a battle is not merely determined by who wins or loses. The total loss of human life must also be considered. Many battles of WWI were literally human blood baths. Some critics say that the whole war was a purposeless waste of human life and that it could have been avoided. Both sides suffered heavy causalities. All of Europe was broken and divided, whole cities wiped out and destroyed. Enmity was planted in the hearts of many and came to full bloom with the outbreak of World War II a decade later. Similarly, the war in Middle Earth cost the lives of many, including great leaders such as Theoden, King of Rohan, and Boromir, son of the Steward of Gondor. The war would never defeat the Dark Lord as Gandulf said in the first half of the book,” Always after a defeat and a respite, the shadow takes another shape and grows again.” (Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Print.) Only through the destruction of the one Ring was the power of Sauron defeated. The only solution to war and conflict is not more violence but conversion. When selfishness and greed are uprooted from men’s hearts then the world will know peace but while it remains conflict and enmity between peoples will continue.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Thought on Love

"LOVE ALONE CREATES." ~ st. maximillian kolbe

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another part of my report.

Of Kings and Serfs

J.R.R Tolkien lived and worked in 20th century England. He was strongly influenced by traditional English culture. Culture is the customs or usual practices of a people. The English have a culture composed of afternoon tea and social formalities, of pipes and storytelling at the pub. J.RR. Tolkien spent much of his free time with friends at pubs exchanging stories and ideas. Tolkien reflects this aspect of English culture in the characters of his hobbits who enjoy whiling away evening hours at the Green Dragon, telling old tales and sharing a pint or two around the fireplace. As did many English men of his time Tolkien smoked a pipe. In Lord of the Rings, Gandulf the wizard and all of the hobbits smoke pipes.
The hobbits of the Shire represent the common English folk of whom Tolkien was so fond. They are simple farmers and tradesmen. They mind their own business and are generally undisturbed by what happens in the outside world. Tolkien grew up with these kinds of people in a village much like Hobbitton. Although he was forced to leave his simple home to attend school he never forgot his country upbringing and revived childhood memories through the Shire.
High or upper class English culture is portrayed in the Elves They speak a language very similar to old English. They are very formal in their social interactions and are older and wiser then many of the other inhabitants of Middle Earth. The elves were the first creations of the gods, the valar. Because of their age the elves had a knowledge not possessed by men or hobbits. When beginning their quest Frodo and his companions went to Elrond, an elf lord, for counsel. (Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Print.) Both the hobbits and the Elves share a love of gardening like the English.
The English monarchy is also given a place in the story through the men of Rohan and Gondor who are governed by kings. They do not resent being governed by hierarchy but loyally obey and defend them. It is part of their heritage and makes them proud of who they are.
Language was for J.R.R Tolkien the heart of culture. Through language we are able to transmit ideas and beliefs to future generations and thus preserve our identity. Tolkien saw that languages were diminishing. Of the 10,000 languages that once existed in the world only 6,000 are still used today. Tolkien saw the disappearance of languages as a decline of culture in general. This is reflected in Lord of the Rings through the fading of the elves, dwarfs and ents. As the Fourth Age begins these ancient peoples slowly disappear. One of the signs of their decline is the disappearance of their languages. Knowledge of them becomes little known and they are replaced by the common tongue. ("National Geographic, Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King.” National Geographic Society. National Geographic, 2009. Web. 4 May 2010.) In our own world we see many dialects becoming extinct and being replaced with internationally known vernacular such as Spanish and English.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Drat! Yesterday I got so caught up in reading in The Hobbit I forgot to blog. Maybe I will post twice today to make up for it.

I finally finished Lord of the Rings a few weeks ago and yesterday The Hobbit so I am definitely going to be posting about them during the next few weeks. I need to organize my thoughts so it all sounds semi-intelligent.

This summer I want to do a series, so to speak, about new saints and blesseds. One of my friends recently was telling me that she couldn't relate to any of the saints. They all seem to be hermits, abbots and bishops she said. Sometimes I think she is right but actually there have been more saints in the 20th century then any other. Surely they must have some things in common with us. Some of the holy people I will post on our Bl. Marcel Callo, St.Joseph Moscotti and Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity. Of course I don't want to undermine the Church Fathers but to make known some of the newly canonized and beatified.

My last idea for summer blogging is to have a weekly review. In the weekly review I will report on all the amazing things I have done in the past week such as discover new and uncharted territories, go treasure hunting with dwarfs and slay dragons(sorry, my mind is still on The Hobbit). I will probably do it on Wednesday because it is a random day to do a review.

Maybe I will post again later but now I have to go to the library.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Here is the second part of my English essay.

Reflections on a Dark Age

As well as being greatly influenced by the First World War, J.R Tolkien was also affected by WWII, the rise of Communism and modernism and the breakdown of tradition. Although he himself did not fight in WWII two of his sons did. His concern for them is reflected in the characters of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. As Frodo’s uncle, Bilbo, is very concerned about the peril his nephew is in. Bilbo tries to take on the quest himself at the council of Elrond but is not allowed to do so because of his age. (Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Print.) Tolkien to, it seems, wished to take his sons places in the war as he wrote to his son Christopher, “ If only I could do something active.” (Croft, Janet. ""The Young perish and the Old Wither Lingering": J.R.R Tolkien on World War II." Mythlore June (2003): n. pag. Web. 11 May 2010. ) His opposition of communism is very strongly portrayed in the scouring of the shire, which happens at the end of the third book, Return of the King. While the war of the rings was being waged off in foreign lands Saruman the wizard was doing his best to industrialize the shire. He instituted community ownership of all produce and appointed some of his men to distribute it. The appointees kept the best produce for themselves and then sold much of it, earning a profit for themselves. Those who refused to cooperate were thrown in prisons where they were practically starved to death. Those who survived resembled inmates released from concentration camps.
J.R. Tolkien was saddened to see the decline of tradition in his lifetime. Having been raised in the country, he remembered those days as some of the best of his life. He shunned the hustle and bustle of the modern world and preferred a simple way of life. He never owned a car but instead rode his bike or walked wherever he could. (Collins, David. J.R.R Tolkien. First. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 2005. Print.) Tolkien’s villains are portrayed as destroyers of nature and all that is beautiful while his heroes love and protect it. ("J.R.R Tolkien and Nature.", 2007. Web. 11 May 2010.) Tolkien’s villains also love machinery and seek to replace nature with it. Suraman manipulates nature by breeding orcs in a process similar to cloning. He chops down trees to build cities and factories that pollute the environment. Sauron kills all beautiful things in his realm and creates the mechanical monsters the Nazgul ride. (“National Geographic, Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King." National Geographic Society. National Geographic, 2009. Web. 4 May 2010).

Friday, May 14, 2010

I'm done! I finished my first semester of community college. Now I will be able to post every day(right). I really am going to try to post something everyday even if it is just a small quote or something.

For my English class our final assignment was a research report on an artist. I chose to do mine on J.R.R Tolkien. The paper had six parts, a biography, historical context, cultural context, argument, comparison and a conclusion. This is the biography. Probably the blandest part of the paper but a good introduction.

The Making of an Artist
John Ronald Reul Tolkien, also known as J.R.R Tolkien, began writing stories at the age of seven. From his earliest years he was attracted to fantasy. His first story was about a big, green dragon. He was also fascinated with languages and words. In grammar school one of his teachers introduced him to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which greatly influenced his style of writing. In high school his favorite subjects were grammar, Greek, Latin and philology, the study of languages. He began to study Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse during this time. In college he took an interest in Finnish and began to attend a Finnish Grammar school were he studied the language and mythology of Finland. (Collins, David. J.R.R Tolkien. First. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 2005. Print.)During World War I Tolkien lost many of his good friends. The loss of his school colleagues deeply touched him. He realized how frail human life is and resolved to give something to England before he died, a great work, similar to the old Finnish tales he had studied. He wanted to write an epic that embodied the spirit and culture of the English people. “Tolkien had read thousands of legends from many countries. He knew how they were set up. But he didn’t want to copy any other story. For England he hoped to write with clear and simple beauty.” (Collins, David. J.R.R Tolkien. First. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 2005. Print. ) Tolkien began his great epic in 1917. It took almost his whole life to complete and is known to the world as The Silmarillion. It was his tribute to his fallen comrades and his gift to his country. It was published in 1977 four years after his death.
Although Tolkien considered The Silmarillion his greatest work the world knows him as the creator of The Lord of the Rings. The Lord of Rings began in 1929 with the creation of the first hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo was originally invented to entertain Tolkien’s children at bedtime. Upon sharing the stories with his friends they insisted he publish them. Tolkien was reluctant but eventually agreed. Bilbo’s adventures, titled The Hobbit, were published in 1937. The public loved them. They wanted a sequel so J.R began work on part one of The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring. It wasn’t published until 1954 due to the great length of the story. In between the time of the Hobbit’s publication and Lord of the Rings Tolkien wrote a number of short stories including The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Farmer Giles of Ham. These stories never had the success of the others. The public loved him for his hobbits.