Overwhelmed with Joy: Stave Five, “The End of It”

By John Rocha

UnknownOverwhelmed is a one-word description of Ebenezer Scrooge in Stave Five.  What overcomes Scrooge when he wakes up, is joy and later the virtue of cheerfulness.   The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines cheerfulness as “a mood characterized by high spirits and amusement and often accompanied by laughter.” St. Josemaria Escriva in his book The Forge, states that cheerfulness is “Christian cheerfulness is not something physiological. Its foundation is supernatural, and it goes deeper than illness or difficulties…True cheerfulness is something deeper, something within: something that keeps us peaceful and brimming over with joy, though at times our face may be stern (Escriva #520). Ebenezer Scrooge receives two gifts: joy and cheerfulness.  Joy is when we see Scrooge as a young professional working under Mr. Fezziwig and at the end in Stave Five when he awakens from his time with the three spirits.  The joy does not lapse but matures as Ebenezer does into cheerfulness.  Let us contemplate a brief moment on these two virtues. Continue reading Overwhelmed with Joy: Stave Five, “The End of It”

Advertisements

Faculty Christmas Poems: “Joseph’s Pledge” and “The Most Desolate Winter”

kendra-burton-art-joseph-4x6-40

“Joseph’s Pledge”
By Adam Thompson

Womb warm in the quiet darkness of life,
He sups on the silent stillness of love,
As he awaits the pull of time above
And rests in dreams aglow that know no strife.
His mother sweetly sings his hallowed name
And feels him stirring with joyful delight,
As she begins to push against the night
And light the way to heav’n for which he came.
All this I see and know and love with fear
And trembling coursing through my shaking hand.
I cut the cord and awestruck understand.
Behold, my son, the Son, is shining here,
And here beneath his moonbeams and starlight,
I pledge my heart, my mind, and all my might.

16044403592_8e4b1fe78e_z

“The Most Desolate Winter”
By Mike McManus

As the most desolate winter descends,
Only white blankets of melancholy
Left to warm my brittle bones through the night.
Is there sign of hope as twilight ends?

The grey, ominous horizon commends
Darkness of heart through demagogy.
Daylight shrinking, is there any sign of light
As the most desolate winter descends?

Only gravestones in silhouette of friends
Reflect permanent on my mind’s folly.
Has even the sun abandoned my fight?
Is there any sign of hope as twilight ends?

But wait…Is that?…green holly that defends
Against this colorless, dull melody
With red-blood berry wounds imposed by frostbite,
As the most desolate winter descends?

Could this circular splash of color wend
Man through this deep forest of felony?
Could it possibly console through the night?
Is this my sign of hope as twilight ends?

What could possibly have strength to transcend
And turn this myrrh to gift of clemency?
I implore, give us light through this wintery blight
As the most desolate winter descends!

What’s that?! A cry?! Amidst these barren lands?!
Life amidst this frigid hegemony?
Let it be!  Send my inert heart aflight!
Is this my sign of hope as twilight ends?

Yes, life begins and my frozen heart mends,
With joyous verse in place of elegy.
This weak, helpless child shines a ray of light,
And this most desolate winter can end.
This most desolate winter will end.
Yes, this most desolate winter shall end.

Stave 4 of A Christmas Carol: Death and Resurrection

By Nathaniel Saylor

6In Stave Four of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come transports Scrooge to a future time, to a miserable London pawn shop.  There he observes three rascals who have caught one another in the same criminal act: looting a dead man’s body and now trying to sell their loot.  The reader quickly guesses the identity of the dead man; Scrooge staves off the obvious truth.

Continue reading Stave 4 of A Christmas Carol: Death and Resurrection

A Light Beyond Want and Ignorance: Stave 3 of A Christmas Carol

By Ron Bergez

In Stave Three of Dickens’ A ignorwantChristmas Carol, Bob Cratchit carries Tiny Tim aloft on his shoulders into the Christmas-warm Cratchit household, followed by the Tim’s oft-imitated utterance “God bless us every one!” Stave Three becomes the place where we are relieved for a time from the bleakness of Scrooge’s sad, solitary existence and the fearsome revelations which accompany the visits of the Spirits. But then we are challenged. As the stave ends, Scrooge spies from under the Spirit’s robe a foot so meager that it could be a claw. Beneath the Spirit’s garment are two gaunt and frightened children. They are the boy Ignorance and the girl Want, says the Spirit. Both are the offspring of Man, and the Spirit warns Scrooge to beware particularly the boy Ignorance. “[O]n his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” The Spirit disappears. Continue reading A Light Beyond Want and Ignorance: Stave 3 of A Christmas Carol

The First Step of Conversion in Stave 2 of A Christmas Carol: The Recovery of Memory

By Mike McManus

It matters little…to you,$_35 
very little. Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come as I would have tried to do, I have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master passion, Gain, engrosses you. Have I not? 
- Scrooge’s fiancée as she breaks their engagement

Contemporary renderings of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens often emphasize a penny-pinching Scrooge becoming a man of giving. But when consulting the text of Stave 2 in the original work, it is clear that too much emphasis on how Scrooge treats his material possessions provides a focus on the effects of the story rather than the heart of what the story is truly about, Scrooge’s conversion. Continue reading The First Step of Conversion in Stave 2 of A Christmas Carol: The Recovery of Memory

Reflection on Stave One of A Christmas Carol

By Christopher Hall

scrooge_by_ravenscar45-d5lzal5Christmas celebrates a birth, the most amazing birth. So it would be odd to begin a meditation about the true meaning of Christmas by reflecting upon death. And yet that is precisely how Dickens begins A Christmas Carol. He even calls attention to the fact that this is how he is going to begin: “Marley was dead: to begin with.” Of course, this is mostly to underscore the strangeness, the creepiness, the unnaturalness of Marley’s ghostly return—as the narrator himself notes: “There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.” It also underscores Scrooge’s own spiritual state illustrated by his insensate lack of reaction to difference in heat or cold, or the inclemency of the weather, by his lack of feeling for his fellow man and their purposeful avoidance of him. Scrooge is, as St. Paul would put it, dead in his sin. And only an encounter with the dead, with spirits, and with the possibilities of his own terrible fate can awaken him. Continue reading Reflection on Stave One of A Christmas Carol

Chess and Chivalry: A Father’s Perspective

By Albert Chincuanco

2014DadsChessTournamentFinalOne school night two weeks ago, our son JohnPaul (3rd grader at WA) walked over to my wife and handed her a nicely folded piece of paper. She opened it, and a few seconds later I noticed that her eyes glittered with a great smile. Mother and son immediately embraced and kissed each other. At this point, I thought: he must have aced a difficult test.

“Your son wrote me a love letter, daddy!” she tells me.

I said, “Wow, JohnPaul! When did you write it?”

His reply, “We wrote the letters during Chess and Chivalry.”

In a flash, I finally understood why Chess and Chivalry was taught at Western. Continue reading Chess and Chivalry: A Father’s Perspective

Letter on Smart Phones

smartphone-312816_640This week’s personal reflection comes from a friend of the school, Mr. Alvaro de Vicente, the Headmaster of The Heights School, and the upcoming speaker in the Raising Men of Honor Series. Mr. Vicente presents a circumspect piece on the prudential use or non-use of technology with young men. Though his letter is aimed at older boys, his insights are all the more relevant and powerful for our young Green Jays! Continue reading Letter on Smart Phones

The Power of Math

By Richard Gosselin

There is no doubt that most intelligent people would recognize that a literate public is necessary for a prosperous and well-functioning society. But when it comes to the question of whether it is necessary that that same public be numerate my bet would be that there wouldn’t be as much agreement. How many of us of heard not only from our own children but even from grown men and women that they are just “not good at math?” There seems to be an obvious dichotomy here. It’s a public scourge to be known as illiterate, but it seems to be in fashion to claim that one is not good at math. A good case can be made that this notion is not only unfashionable, but it is also not conducive to a good life in a free society. Let me offer a few examples to illustrate the point. Continue reading The Power of Math

Feasting in the Liberal Arts

By Adam Thompson

Eros empties us of estrangement but fills us with kinship, causing us to come together in all such gatherings as these, in festivals, in dances, in sacrifices a leader… in labor, in fear, in longing, in discourse a guide, defender, comrade in arms and best savior; beauty and good order of all gods and men, leader most beautiful and best, whom every man must follow chanting beautifully, sharing the song that he sings, touching with magic power the thought of gods and men. - From Plato’s Symposium

978-0-226-04275-6-frontcoverIn Plato’s Symposium, a group of intimate friends gathers to drink and be merry. Over the course of the feast, the different members of the party, including Socrates, discuss the nature of love into the wee hours of the morning. In the passage above, Agathon delivers a stirring poetic exposition of Eros, the god of love. This ecstatic image of erotic love within the context of feasting and friendly Platonic dialogue highlights the true secular and religious end of a liberal arts education: a festive communal life of freedom for the sake of the contemplation of Love, the very source of all love and freedom and life. Without feasting, the transcendent dimension of human freedom would be greatly diminished, if not lost. Feasting, then, holds pride of place as the source and summit of the liberal arts education, for without feasting man cannot be “crowned and mitered” ruler over himself.

Eros drives the feast because God “fills us with kinship,” as the persons who attend the feast ardently desire companionship and community with one another, the world around them, and the God who brought them into being. There can be no proper school, let alone a liberal arts education, without friends experiencing reality in community and engaging in dialogue with truth and each other. Socrates grows in freedom through a daily examination of the meaning of his life with friends. Socrates is no armchair philosopher, but more like Jesus who always taught through stories and dialogue in a community of friends who lived together freely. It is no mere coincidence that Jesus’ ministry began and ended with a wedding feast at Cana and the Last Supper in Jerusalem. Feasting represents the highest expression of lived freedom in a communal contemplation of something greater than ourselves, namely God.

Continue reading Feasting in the Liberal Arts