Two weeks gone

Ordinary Time 1/Epiphany 1 – Thursday

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The Quiet Nights Orchestra - Chapter One
The Quiet Nights Orchestra – Chapter One (click here to purchase and download)

That’s almost two weeks now where I haven’t had any sort of violent mood swings from down to up and back again. It still feels quite odd but I am slowly getting used to the happiness at the end of each day.

Maybe those last four months of 2009 were a form of purgation. Not quite fully purged yet, but the process has been interrupted for a period of illumination (to use some terms of what those who have gone before in the faith have termed, “the stages of spiritual growth”). There is still a lot further to go.

On a bright side, maybe the period of darkness was also a form of preparation for the stresses of my new work position which I began this week. If a standard working week is 36 hours and 45 minutes of work, in the four days of this week that have gone by so far, I’ve already hit the 34 hour mark already with one more working day to go. Looks like I’ll be having to get used to 40+ hour working weeks from now on in.

Reading some inspirational books now which are helping me to unwind and ponder over life introspectively.

Ralph Martin, The Fulfillment of all Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints (2006: Steubenville, Emmaus Road Publishing)

Margherita from Christian Supplies mentioned to me a bit of background about Mr. Martin and he certainly has had an interesting life. A guide to holiness that utilises the insights of Holy Scripture as well as seven of the “Doctors of the Church”, as classified by the Roman Catholic Church. I already have a love of the writings of St. John of the Cross and given that he makes an appearance in Ralph Martin’s books as one of the seven doctors, my interest in this was piqued. Holiness and sanctity are not the preserve of people such as Billy Graham, St. John of the Cross, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta or even Australia’s first saint (expected to be canonized in 2010), Mother Mary of the Cross (a.k.a. Mary Mackillop). After all, as St. John of the Cross writes “In the first place it should be known that if anyone is seeking God, the beloved is seeking that person much more.”

I’m looking forward to slowly chewing my way through this book at least once every year. It should be a good book (alongside the Good Book) for lectio divina.

Karl Rahner (ed.), Encyclopedia of Theology: A Concise Sacramentum Mundi (1975: London, Burns & Oates; New York, Continuum; Mumbai, St. Pauls)

I’ve seen this one on the shelves at St. Paul’s Book Centre for the last year and a half amidst a number of theological dictionaries and encyclopedias. So when I mentioned to Father Bruno earlier this week that I was looking for a good basic reference tool on Roman Catholic theology and viewpoints on non-Roman Catholic theological viewpoints that was not simply a rehash of the current Catechism of the Catholic Church or something that wasn’t really meaty enough, he pointed me straight away to this one. Lucky too. I might have one of the last few new copies that was easily available for purchase as this is now out of print. I have the St. Pauls published edition and it’s a reprint from 2004 by the Society of St Paul in India.

Karl Rahner S.J. is the editor of this and while I am familiar with this Jesuit’s work, it will be interesting to sit back in a chair, espresso beside me (or a nightcap) and read through some of the varied articles that comprise this abridgment of the six volume reference work from the 1960s known as Sacramentum Mundi. It’s quite even handed in tone and very open in an ecumenical spirit towards non-Roman Catholic Christian viewpoints (then again, this particular book was completed just after Vatican Council II had finished up). As Father Bruno said to me, if a work is first class, it will remain first class even if years has passed. Looking at the year this was published and reading through a selection of the articles in it, it certain is first class in content and it is eminently readable by most laypersons. Though those who already have a pre-existing condition… I mean love, of theology will get more out of this rather magisterial work than the layperson who only has a passing interest in theology.

Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work (2009: New York, The Penguin Press)

The last four months, apart from the spiritual darkness, also coincided with me questioning whether or not I am cut out for office work as a career. Matthew Crawford felt the same way himself years ago while working in a Washington D.C. “think tank” before finally leaving the white-collar world of D.C. for the blue-collar world of the trades. What I have read so far truly is as the subtitle of the book says: it really is an inquiry into the value of manual work. I find myself somewhat satisfied (amidst the tiredness and some cussing post-work) after a good morning, afternoon or day outside in the yard doing manual labor. And far from it being considered “mundane”, there is a certain skill involved in working out how one is going to construct a shed or in doing some landscaping.

For some of us, working in an office cubicle is our thing; for others, it may be the closest thing to hell on earth. While Crawford left the office environment, this chronicle and his own thinking on the philosophy that undergirds modern office work should provide any office worker with some thought provoking material on how this applies to them and whether there is another option to one’s working life than what they are doing now. I’m about a sixth of my way through this one and it’s been enjoyable reading so far.

Now look at the time, it’s almost 2230hrs. Given I got home at about 2000hrs tonight, I think it’s time for some sleep. I have another long day ahead of me tomorrow.

+ 2215hrs


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