Saturday, September 8, 2007

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The Steel Lily
A PMS: Post-Modernist Sorority
Adventures in Spain — Pars Secunda Sunday, Jul 29 2007
Misc. Ines 11:01 am
Well, my friends! Now that the Lily’s up again… I’ve got some catching up to do!
The wedding in Compostela (July 7) was a blast; it looked like the UN, with people from Iceland, Spain, Ireland, and Argentina (us and a couple of others), as Pilar (the bride) works in translations and is currently doing an Icelandic-Spanish dictionary. We mostly talked with the only ones near our age, a pair of Icelandic kids, who both spoke English well and Spanish fairly. The Mass was Novus Ordo and was… interesting, to say the least… but the music, four-part polyphony by several different composers, including T.L. de Victoria, was magnificent. The party was really fun, though tiring — we were dancing till five in the morning!
On the morning of the 11th I saw the Clerecía, the old Jesuit church, which is very beautiful but unfortunately is only open for tours, and you have to take the guided tour, which goes too quickly to really take in the details. Then on the 12th I went to see about renting a studio with a piano to practice, and from that day on I’ve been going three hours a week, for €3 an hour, which is pretty good. The next day Lucia and I were working together at the library of the old University, and while I searched the catalog for books that might help us she copied an old Mass of the Immaculate Conception out of a 17th century manuscript whose covers were tied shut with a large red ribbon because they wouldn’t stay on any other way!
That Saturday we spent the afternoon at the Prado museum in Madrid, admiring all the beautiful paintings. Lucia really liked the El Greco paintings, though it took me a while to get used to the style, which I did end up liking. There was one painting (by Goya, I believe) of a young woman called Maria Teresa de Villabriga y Rozas who looked so like me it was hilarious! Lu made me stand in profile beside it (it was a profile portrait) and she said it was unbelievably like, and even I saw the resemblance in features; though her skin was fairer than mine her eyes and hair were the same color. This is the picture we saw. The image is bad but you can still sort of tell… You can click on it to get a bigger image, which helps. Then after Mass that evening we met Ignacio’s ex-housefather, Santiago Lorenzo, and his father. We exchanged phone numbers with them, and then went to call the friend who was supposed to put us up, since we didn’t know his address, but he didn’t answer, although we tried several times. So we called home for assistance and Mami and Tata directed us to a hotel run by some Argentinians where they had stayed before. Unfortunately it was full, but Mami and Tata had already called the owners and asked them to help us find a place. Thus, they called a couple of other hotels and found us a room in another hotel on the same street, where we stayed the night comfortably enough for a pretty decent price.
The next morning we went to the bus station to reserve our seats on the bus for Salamanca for later that evening. This done, we went to the chapel, and asked the choir if we could sing with them. They welcomed us with open arms. It was wonderful being able to sing at Mass! We practiced in unison, as they don’t sing in parts, but at Offertory the hymn was O Sanctissima and the arrangement in two parts was too tempting to resist and at the third verse I went full-voice into the harmony and didn’t make a single mistake, thanks be to St. Cecilia. After Mass Santiago Lorenzo complimented us on our singing and asked us what our plans were. While Lu talked to him, a lady came up to me and said, “Are you one of the Americans? What is your name?” I answered, “De Erausquin.” She exclaimed, “I was wondering all through Mass, ‘Who do these girls remind me of?´and I finally realized you had to be Gabriel and Maria Laura’s daughters! You look like Gabriel, and your sister looks like Maria Laura… I’m Lisi Rubio, Father Rubio’s sister. I’ve known your parents since before they were engaged.”
You can imagine my amazement! Mami and Tata had told us to say hello to her if we ever met her, but we had no idea we ever would, since we didn’t know what she looked like, and we certainly didn’t expect her to recognize us at sight! Then Lu came up and I introduced her, and she gave us her phone number, promised help in any problem, and asked us what our plans were for the following weekends. She said she would look for a place for us, (which the Lorenzos were also doing,) and introduced us to a couple of other friends who were also willing to help. After which Lisi Rubio piled us into her van with her seven children, and dropped us off near the Prado museum, from which we walked up to the Puerta del Sol, where we had some lunch and then headed for the Royal Palace and the Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Almudena, which was closed! So we walked about the city for a while, but everything was closed, since it was the hottest part of the day, which is always siesta time, and Sunday besides, so at last we went to the Parque del Retiro (which is immense; it’s a bit like Forest Park), and had our siesta there in the shade of the big trees, and then went to catch our bus back home. After several vain attempts to call home (which, we later learned, was because the family was over at the Kokenges’ watching a soccer game!), we went to bed.
I think a week per installment is enough and this post is getting fearfully long, so I will publish it and plunge into installment three!
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Update on Technical Difficulties Friday, Jul 27 2007
Misc. Gloria 10:14 am
As you probably noticed, there’s been some technical difficulties with the Steel Lily lately. It seems to work sporadically, and right now, I got in long enough to post this. There’s been a lot of comment spam coming in (some posts got hit with 50+ spam comments), and in order to test a hunch, I’ve disabled comments for the time being to see if that helps. My hunch is that the spam was flooding the server and causing the site to go down. Anyways, keep trying to post-it helps to see when people are able to get in.
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Adventures in Spain: Pars Prima Wednesday, Jul 4 2007
Travel Ines 8:15 am
Well, y´all, we´re in Spain again!
The flight from Chicago went smoothly. Other than the fact that I pulled an all-nighter it was okay. And about… oh, maybe midnight St. Louis time, we heard the two gentlemen behind us saying… no way, but way… Compline???
Lucia leaned over the back of her seat and asked them, “Are you saying Compline?”
They said, “Yes…are you Sisters?” I answered, “Sisters as in related, but not as in religious, no.”
“Then how do you know about the Office?” They were stunned. I answered (perhaps too) matter-of-factly, “Well, we´re Catholics…”
Promptly two large hands were extended over the seat, and both expressed their delight at “meeting two good strong Catholics,” and asked us to join them for the rest of the Office, which we did (it was actually Vespers not Compline, they were on the Magnificat.) Then we shut our eyes while they were saying “night prayer” (Compline) and were awoken again when they asked us to lead the Salve Regina, which we sang with them. They complimented our voices and then I asked them,”Are you priests?” One of them was; the other is his brother, we found, and they were going over with the brother´s wife and family (four or five kids) to spend ten days in Ireland. We told them about our family, and when they heard Mami is expecting #11, Father said “Ah, she´s well on her way to heaven!” Wasn´t it great of him! He and his brother are two out of twelve, they told us.
Then the famous quote “There are two kinds of people on earth, those who are Irish and those who wish they were!” came up… Lu told them our great-grandfather was a Toomey, and Father came out with the most original compliment on our ancestry that I´ll ever hear: “Ah, God rest him, and bless him for giving you that beautiful [Irish] blood.” I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.
Later when they, too, fell asleep, I sat for a while and then pulled out my notebook and began to write a poem “In Praise of Ireland.” (yes, yes, there I go again…) In the morning I gave it to them, and they were so pleased with it that Father gave me a holy card, and his brother, “Danny boy” as Father called him, asked me for my email address, to write back, which I gave him. They promised to pray for us at the shrine of Our Lady of Knock, and I countered it with a promise to pray for them at Compostela. A pretty good deal, overall…
Today Lucia and I (after pulling an almost-all-nighter, as we couldn’t sleep), went to the University - or she did, I went first to the Casa de las Conchas, the public library, and read a bit, and then headed out to the Plaza Mayor where Juan Matias had told me there was a music store where they could point out a place where I could practice piano (I cannot go into Webster with two months’ lack of practice on my hands!). They told me the way to a music school which (as it turns out) does have piano rooms for rent, but the price wasn’t posted and nobody was in to tell me anything about details, so I’ll have to wait and see how that turns out.
Then I went up to the Clerecía, the Jesuit seminary church, and they had a guided tour at noon, so I decided to wait for it. I had about half-an-hour which I spent strolling around, and I also did a bit of shopping… try and guess whose fan I bought, Gloria and Michelle? :p Then I went back to the Clerecía but since I was the only one there they cancelled the tour, unfortunately! So I went out to the New Cathedral (begun 1513, and they call that new?) and drafted this post sitting in the Plaza Anaya, in front of the Puerta de las Palmas (over which is a gorgeous carving of Our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.) After which I went into the Cathedral and once again admired the beautiful side-altars and had a good look at the cupola over the high altar, carved all round with scenes from the Life of Christ. Underneath it is a great mirror and you can look down into that and see everything reflected, so you don’t have to break your neck looking up!
This computer is running out of time… the disadvantages of cyber-cafe computers! And so, farewell!
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The Steel Lily Wednesday, Jun 27 2007
Misc. Lucia 11:25 pm

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Wednesday, Jun 6 2007
Misc. Lucia 4:13 pm
Ines and I are going to Spain in less than a month, so hopefully there will be some interesting stuff posted in the travel category soon. I will try to think of something in the meantime, though.
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Villanelle to Our Lady Saturday, May 19 2007
poetry and Literature Ines 1:06 pm
I fell in love with this form of poetry when I read some villanelles by Oscar Wilde; so, using his as models I came up with some of my own. This one is to Our Lady.
O Mary, Queen of Heaven high,
Thou matchless maiden without stain,
Hark to thy children as they cry!
The dusk is falling, night is nigh,
Darkness descends upon the plain,
O Mary, Queen of Heaven high,
And we affrighted to thee fly
Lest by sin’s darkness we be ta’en;
Hark to thy children as they cry!
We pray, protect us where we lie
At rest, or toss upon the main,
O Mary, Queen of Heaven high!
For if thou heed us not we die,
And all our struggles are in vain;
Hark to thy children as they cry!
Help us, sweet maiden motherly,
That heaven’s halls we thus may gain;
O Mary, Queen of Heaven high,
Hark to thy children as they cry!
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another poem Thursday, May 10 2007
poetry and Literature Ines 12:21 pm
I came up with this after Father came down the hall, on a sick-call; the sudden, absolute silence, after a few thuds as everyone dropped to their knees, was awe-filling. I thought of the last line first, actually (amusingly,) and scribbled down the poem when I was supervising a class about half-an-hour later.
Any suggestions for a title are welcome!
The buzz of study is the only sound
That breaks the sunlit silence of the halls;
The gentle breezes blowing all around
Echo the hum of voices through the walls.
But then a little bell’s light silver trill
Makes sudden silence, like a leaden weight,
Fall on the classrooms, and in reverence still
All swiftly kneel — the King comes by in state,
Borne on the bosom of His holy priest
To one that was not able to draw nigh
To take into his heart the Eucharist,
Before whose presence all hearts silent cry,
“Let us in all eternity adore
The Holy Sacrament of Christ the King…”
As the bell’s trill fades out the distant door
All rise and go on with their studying,
But for a while there lingers in the air
An echo of the silence that did fall
Over the students at their labor there
When Christ the King came silent down the hall.
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Another Steel Lily Monday, Apr 30 2007
Misc. Lucia 8:59 pm
I just finished writing a paper on St. Hildegard of Bingen and how she became a saint by following her vocation. It’s here.
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Confused thoughts on “Becket” Monday, Apr 30 2007
Misc. Lucia 8:57 pm
A lot of us Steel Lilies went to see Becket, which was being re-released at the Tivoli here in St. Louis. I thought I would write a little about it.
Of course, it was pure Hollywood, though ‘the girl,’ as Ig would say, dies near the beginning. The trouble is that according to most of Becket’s contemporaries, there never was a girl. Other historical inaccuracies include its portrayal of Becket as a Saxon (he was actually a Norman, albeit of a tradesman’s family) and the absence of his greatest line: If all the swords in England were pointed at my head, your threats should not move me. Apparently the man who wrote the original play read the chapter on Henry II in an outdated history of England and threw off the play in a few days. It isn’t rated, but I feel pretty confident in giving it an R. Actually I didn’t know all these things when I was watching it, but the real reason I liked it (besides the Dies Irae and Te Deum in surround sound) was the way they showed St. Thomas as a phlegmatic saint. I mean, they show him as far from a saint at the beginning (by the way, it is true that he pushed the tax on Church lands while chancellor) but the way he explains it is a very good portrayal of the phlegmatic temperament, or of as much as I know of it from having it. He doesn’t care about anything enough to take trouble for it, but he is a hard worker towards the goals he has set for himself–to help the king in strengthening England. He won’t speak his love, ever, and he might even believe he has none. But when he gets a new job, he has to set new goals (being intelligent and conscientious) and he works toward them as doggedly as he did for the old. The way he prays looks pretty phlegmatic too: Dear Lord, I don’t know how to love but I will do everything for you (of course that is love). And his prayer in the monastery, though it has some Hollywood misconceptions about the monastic life, sounds pretty convincing in that a phlegmatic would really rather stay there the rest of his life (we hate unnecessary fuss and fighting). By the way, the pope at that time was a great guy and very favorable to Becket. Not what they show at all. But enough of this rambling; the short and the long of it is that I don’t know whether to recommend it or not. For me, the bad parts were worth it for the inspiration, but then strong inspiration for a phlegmatic is rare and some other things don’t bother us as much.
PS After all that, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, he doesn’t seem to have been a phlegmatic either.
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1 comment:

Hans Lundahl said...

Compostela - did you do the Camino?
Was the bridegroom Icelandic?

Iceland has, I believe, the greatest proportion (though for one of the smallest populations) of Catholics in the North Europe West of Russia. Oh, except the still Catholic Lithuania, of course.

The Catholic period in Iceland knew a great deal of married priests, like Orthodox countries.