Maundy Thursday 2021
Beauty can’t be bad but it can be irritating. Then again, ugliness can sometimes be beautiful.
Both these paradoxes come to mind as I ponder the problem of pollen and the problem of sin, two topics that don’t usually spring to mind at the same time. Perhaps, therefore, some explanation is necessary.
Take, for instance, these two photographs that Susannah took of the resplendent magenta blossom on the tree that overshadows our dining room window and which, as the photos show, is a favourite spot for our ducks to take their daily siesta. Its beauty almost takes my breath away, yet it serves as a symbol of the irritation that Leo always feels this time of year because of his allergies to pollen. His eyes puff up so badly that we have to place him under house arrest, preventing him from going outside to play on the swing-set at the side of the house. His allergies are so bad that Evangeline has just spent a good deal of time vacuuming the car to depollinate it. This is how beauty can be irritating.
As for how ugliness can sometimes be beautiful, I am currently looking at the cover of the latest issue of the St. Austin Review, which is on a Lenten theme and which has Rubens’ Crucifixion as the cover image. Need I say more about how something as ugly as the crucifixion of Our Lord can be made a thing of sublime beauty at the hands of a master? And yet the beauty is not inappropriate; not in the least. It’s a beautiful depiction of the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to hubristic humanity. The fact that God could give His only Son to save us from ourselves is a beauty beyond words. The ugliness of the crucifixion is all too real, especially as experienced physically by Christ Himself, but the sufferance of such suffering by Christ is the beauty of caritas, the outpouring of Divine Love on sinful man.
Such thoughts are appropriate for Maundy Thursday, as we enter the Triduum, when joy turns to sorrow and finally to glory.
It’s been a good Lent, at least by my woeful standards. My abstinence from God’s gift of fermented and distilled beverages has gone well and was easier than I’d envisaged, as has been the abstinence from coffee.
My Lenten spiritual reading has been particularly edifying. I finished the spiritual ascent of Mount Purgatory yesterday, having completed the reading of Father Paul Pearson’s Spiritual Direction from Dante: Ascending Mount Purgatory (TAN Books). I still have a few more pages to read in the two books by Father Vincent McNabb, Chesterton’s great friend, which have accompanied me on the Lenten journey. In addition, my daily praying of the Penitential Psalms has kept me mindful of my sins and my need for Christ.
I went to confession yesterday, which should set me up well for the festivities to come.
We have a friend coming to stay with us for the Triduum. She comes every year. We’ll pick her up from the airport tomorrow (Good Friday). It will be good to see her again.
As for the week that’s been, it’s been relatively quiet. Last Friday, I gave my weekly online lecture for Red Cultural, my friends in Chile, but there will obviously be no lecture tomorrow. We will return to Oedipus Rex when we reconvene next week.
Last weekend, Evangeline took part in her first ever Taekwondo tournament. She received first prize for board breaking in her section and second prize for form.
We continued our discussion of Russell Shaw’s Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity for this week’s FORMED Book Club, which we record on Monday for airing on Thursday. I was interviewed for Archangel Radio on Tuesday morning about my essay for Crisis Magazine on Homer and yesterday I gave an interview to a young man which I’ve posted to this site. It’s on England’s truly Catholic heart. I also had a meeting yesterday to plan a pilgrimage to England next year. More on this as things unfold.
Yesterday I wrote an essay entitled “Long Defeat and Final Victory”, an Easter-themed meditation, for the Imaginative Conservative and this morning I wrote “Antigone in a Nutshell” for Crisis Magazine.
As soon as I sign off, I’m going to head to the gym and then will return home to post this and the three podcasts which I recorded yesterday to the Inner Sanctum.
Such is the summary of the Pearce Family’s Holy Week. All that remains is for me to wish all my friends in the Inner Sanctum a solemn and joy-filled Triduum.