2021. november 23., kedd

God's way of beginning a day 

 

This is how usually a 'bad day' of mine begins. I have some ill-feeling because of a disagreement over something, which has managed to slip over from yesterday into this morning. It was traveling with me through the night. Then, something at the beginning of the new day, let's say, a minor mistake by others, triggers out this resentment. It becomes like 'spectacles' though which I see the upcoming events of the day. It is, however, like tinted diving googles. I see everything what happens through these hijacked colours. Then, small conflicts trigger out over-sensitivity, and, this, prompts over-reactions. Like a domino-effect, the whole day can end up in ruins.  

This morning, at the beginning of the Morning Prayer, I was aware of my googles. I felt, I could not remove it just by a thought. Something else was needed. Then the idea occurred that yep, we are praying, right now, the morning prayer to God, and, together with God. This is not only us, who are starting this day, but God, too. So, I continued this quiet unexpected inner conversation. Well, this is how I am starting my day. But what about God? He also has to start this very day, as this is his Creation. He can't afford the human luxury of having the day with grudges. He simply cannot get out of the bed on the wrong side (his Creation, sic!). That thought has instantaneously removed my tinted googles. God starts the day in peace and mercy, and with a positive curiosity. So why not imitate Him? 

While singing the psalms set for the morning prayer, I managed to look at the icon of the full-figured Christ Pantocrator. The icon itself, as one can see it in our chapel, is just a cheap copy. No particular artistic value. But the icon works as it should. Jesus is sitting on his throne. In the background, intense gold. This golden background, with the Judging God, journeying with us into this new day, summed up the moral of what I understood of how God was starting the day. No remorse, no complaints, no fights and inner-courts over events from yesterday. Only free-flowing pure positivity. The magma of divine nature, which is capable of melting everything into herself…and transforming them. Giving things, thoughts and events the shape, they should have. 

If we let our hearts be transformed and directed by these positive energies - the whole day will be, literally, different. You become master of the moment: you can start an encounter with a smile, with a positive twist to the moment. Let us see, how the day, when we begin it as God does, is unfolding. I am sure there are many surprises - just by following the threads, hidden in the day, of His positivity. So, my fallen dominoes, are now being played backwards, the fallen pieces of a ruined day are being set up, one by one. Waiting for God's touch, not of mine.  

 

22.11.2011  


 


 

 Sensitivity to Dream (Daniel 2:31-45) 

 

In the Bible, these are often those who are in exile, or on the move, who have dreams. When there is an existential crisis, there is an eruption of dreams. No wonder that Jewish people (Abraham, Joseph in Egypt, prophet Daniel, Saint Joseph, the three Kings, etc.) became 'experts' of dream interpretation. Culture itself can go through cataclysmic changes, like Europe did at the time when Freud and Jung laid the foundations for interpreting dreams.  

In these 'exile situations', identity becomes fluid. The old belonging is lost, the present is unsettled, the future is yet out of grasp. Undefined. We Christians, today (again!) live with the sense of Biblical exile. It is part of scrutinising the signs of the times. The apocalyptic mood of the readings before advent highlights this instability around, but also in, us. And just like our Old Testament predecessors, we can attain the ability to decipher dreams, and understand the meaning of the signs surrounding us. Like Proust in Search of Lost Times, we can tell a very different story from that of our age. However, instead of a psychological past, we can 'arrive at a separate world, a descent into the abyss of the self, in which the ego's boundaries dissolve and are lost. Like a hallucination empty of objects and people, enveloping the sleeper as he floats in a state of phychic quasi-death.' Here we arrive to 'the edge of the unsayable.' (The Philosophy of Julia Kristeva, Open Court Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois 2020, p.99) 

As mentioned, for the members of the Covenant (old and new), it is not a retreat into the past, but an insight into the Kingdom of God, the World to come. Our dream eruptions - reveal a depth. Though things are fragmentary and can fall apart, as 'the centers no longer hold', but not in this under-surface realm. Our church buildings, icons, and doctrine, the Creed - with their order, and contra-movement to the ephemeral nature of the age - have never spoken so eloquently of the firm roots which we have, or can develop. These roots are the guarantees that we can become interpreters of dreams instead of being entrapped in a dream-like state, without a real voice to awaken ourselves.  

So, this ability to 'root', to understand, and interpret is the moment equal to the Catholic sacrament of transubstantiation of the Eucharist. When we celebrate the mass and receive in the communion Christ himself and his story, we can freely access the Kingdom of God, its life-giving depths. The sings of the bread and wine, which belong to this world, as the Body and Blood of Christ, also belong to the world to come! (The world, in, and beyond our world.) In the communion, we understand that our age, with its powers, is not rock-solid at all. Actually, it is in a fluid state, regardless of the empires that are being built at the moment. The transubstantiation, the miracle of change and the manifestation of divine Presence, is our hidden and joyful ability to break free from the constraints (the mindset) of this world. Christians are free; our daily transubstantiation makes us free. The ability to read all the changes around us en Christo, in the freedom of the risen Lord. So, dear king Nebuchadnezzar (Zuckenberg-Musk), it is not the Lord, which is a dream like message. On the contrary, his resurrection is the real. And compared with him, everything what we judge to be real and rock-solid, your 'meta-verses' and extra-terrestrial expeditions, are put into question.   

 

22.11.2021 

2021. április 13., kedd

Easter Is Our Ability to Listen to Others', articles 47-48, 'Information Without Wisdom' from Pope Francis's Fratelli Tutti, his letter on fraternity and social friendship


True wisdom demands an encounter with reality. Today, however, everything can be created, disguised and altered. A direct encounter even with the fringes of reality can thus prove intolerable. A mechanism of selection then comes into play, whereby I can immediately separate likes from dislikes, what I consider attractive from what I deem distasteful. In the same way, we can choose the people with whom we wish to share our world. Persons or situations we find unpleasant or disagreeable are simply deleted in today's virtual networks; a virtual circle is then created, isolating us from the real world in which we are living.

The ability to sit down and listen to others, typical of interpersonal encounters, is paradigmatic of the welcoming attitude shown by those who transcend narcissism and accept others, caring for them and welcoming them into their lives. Yet "today's world is largely a deaf world… At times, the frantic pace of the modern world prevents us from listening attentively to what another person is saying. Halfway through, we interrupt him and want to contradict what he has not even finished saying. We must not lose our ability to listen". Saint Francis "heard the voice of God, he heard the voice of the poor, he heard the voice of the infirm and he heard the voice of nature. He made of them a way of life. My desire is that the seed that Saint Francis planted may grow in the hearts of many".


2021. április 1., csütörtök

From Pope Francis' Fratelli Tutti - Pandemics and Other Calamities in History 1 (articles 31,32)



True, a worldwide tragedy like the Covid-19 pandemic momentarily revived the sense that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person's problems are the problems of all. Once more we realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together. As I said in those days, "the storm has exposed our vulnerability and uncovered those false and superfluous certainties around which we constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities… Amid this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about appearances, has fallen away, revealing once more the ineluctable and blessed awareness that we are part of one another, that we are brothers and sisters of one another".

The world was relentlessly moving towards an economy that, thanks to technological progress, sought to reduce "human costs"; there were those who would have had us believe that freedom of the market was sufficient to keep everything secure. Yet the brutal and unforeseen blow of this uncontrolled pandemic forced us to recover our concern for human beings, for everyone, rather than for the benefit of a few. Today we can recognize that "we fed ourselves on dreams of splendour and grandeur, and ended up consuming distraction, insularity and solitude. We gorged ourselves on networking, and lost the taste of fraternity. We looked for quick and safe results, only to find ourselves overwhelmed by impatience and anxiety. Prisoners of a virtual reality, we lost the taste and flavour of the truly real". The pain, uncertainty and fear, and the realization of our own limitations, brought on by the pandemic have only made it all the more urgent that we rethink our styles of life, our relationships, the organization of our societies and, above all, the meaning of our existence.

2021. március 31., szerda

From Pope Francis's Fratelli Tutti, art.31

In this world that races ahead, yet lacks a shared roadmap, we increasingly sense that "the gap between concern for one's personal well-being and the prosperity of the larger human family seems to be stretching to the point of complete division between individuals and human community… It is one thing to feel forced to live together, but something entirely different to value the richness and beauty of those seeds of common life that need to be sought out and cultivated". Technology is constantly advancing, yet "how wonderful it would be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation could come with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, even as we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters who orbit around us".

2021. március 30., kedd

From Pope Francis' Fratelli Tutti, art.30 - Globalisation and Progress Without a Shared Roadmap 3

From Pope Francis' Fratelli Tutti, art.30 - Globalisation and Progress Without a Shared Roadmap 3
In today's world, the sense of belonging to a single human family is fading, and the dream of working together for justice and peace seems an outdated utopia. What reigns instead is a cool, comfortable and globalized indifference, born of deep disillusionment concealed behind a deceptive illusion: thinking that we are all-powerful, while failing to realize that we are all in the same boat. This illusion, unmindful of the great fraternal values, leads to "a sort of cynicism. For that is the temptation we face if we go down the road of disenchantment and disappointment… Isolation and withdrawal into one's own interests are never the way to restore hope and bring about renewal. Rather, it is closeness; it is the culture of encounter. Isolation, no; closeness, yes. Culture clash, no; culture of encounter, yes."

2021. március 29., hétfő

From Pope Francis' Fratelli Tutti, art.29 (Globalisation and Progress without a Shared Roadmap 1)


With the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, we do not ignore the positive advances made in the areas of science, technology, medicine, industry and welfare, above all in developed countries. Nonetheless, "we wish to emphasize that, together with these historical advances, great and valued as they are, there exists a moral deterioration that influences international action and a weakening of spiritual values and responsibility. This contributes to a general feeling of frustration, isolation and desperation". We see "outbreaks of tension and a buildup of arms and ammunition in a global context dominated by uncertainty, disillusionment, fear of the future, and controlled by narrow economic interests". We can also point to "major political crises, situations of injustice and the lack of an equitable distribution of natural resources… In the face of such crises that result in the deaths of millions of children – emaciated from poverty and hunger – there is an unacceptable silence on the international level". This panorama, for all its undeniable advances, does not appear to lead to a more humane future.

2021. március 26., péntek

From Pope Francis's Fratelli Tutti (art.27-28) - 'Walls vs God's Openness'

Paradoxically, we have certain ancestral fears that technological development has not succeeded in eliminating; indeed, those fears have been able to hide and spread behind new technologies. Today too, outside the ancient town walls lies the abyss, the territory of the unknown, the wilderness. Whatever comes from there cannot be trusted, for it is unknown, unfamiliar, not part of the village. It is the territory of the "barbarian", from whom we must defend ourselves at all costs. As a result, new walls are erected for self-preservation, the outside world ceases to exist and leaves only "my" world, to the point that others, no longer considered human beings possessed of an inalienable dignity, become only "them". Once more, we encounter "the temptation to build a culture of walls, to raise walls, walls in the heart, walls on the land, in order to prevent this encounter with other cultures, with other people. And those who raise walls will end up as slaves within the very walls they have built. They are left without horizons, for they lack this interchange with others".

The loneliness, fear and insecurity experienced by those who feel abandoned by the system creates a fertile terrain for various "mafias". These flourish because they claim to be defenders of the forgotten, often by providing various forms of assistance even as they pursue their criminal interests. There also exists a typically "mafioso" pedagogy that, by appealing to a false communitarian mystique, creates bonds of dependency and fealty from which it is very difficult to break free.



2021. március 25., csütörtök

From Pope Francis's Letter on Social Friendship - Conflict and Fear 1

War, terrorist attacks, racial or religious persecution, and many other affronts to human dignity are judged differently, depending on how convenient it proves for certain, primarily economic, interests. What is true as long as it is convenient for someone in power stops being true once it becomes inconvenient. These situations of violence, sad to say, "have become so common as to constitute a real 'third world war' fought piecemeal".

This should not be surprising, if we realize that we no longer have common horizons that unite us; indeed, the first victim of every war is "the human family's innate vocation to fraternity". As a result, "every threatening situation breeds mistrust and leads people to withdraw into their own safety zone". Our world is trapped in a strange contradiction: we believe that we can "ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust".

2021. március 24., szerda

From Pope Francis' Letter on Social Friendship, art.24

We should also recognize that "even though the international community has adopted numerous agreements aimed at ending slavery in all its forms, and has launched various strategies to combat this phenomenon, millions of people today – children, women and men of all ages – are deprived of freedom and forced to live in conditions akin to slavery… Today, as in the past, slavery is rooted in a notion of the human person that allows him or her to be treated as an object… Whether by coercion, or deception, or by physical or psychological duress, human persons created in the image and likeness of God are deprived of their freedom, sold and reduced to being the property of others. They are treated as means to an end…

[Criminal networks] are skilled in using modern means of communication as a way of luring young men and women in various parts of the world". A perversion that exceeds all limits when it subjugates women and then forces them to abort. An abomination that goes to the length of kidnapping persons for the sake of selling their organs. Trafficking in persons and other contemporary forms of enslavement are a worldwide problem that needs to be taken seriously by humanity as a whole: "since criminal organizations employ global networks to achieve their goals, efforts to eliminate this phenomenon also demand a common and, indeed, a global effort on the part of various sectors of society".


2021. március 19., péntek

A Throwaway Culture 1

Some parts of our human family, it appears, can be readily sacrificed for the sake of others considered worthy of a carefree existence. Ultimately, "persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected, especially when they are poor and disabled, 'not yet useful' – like the unborn, or 'no longer needed' – like the elderly. We have grown indifferent to all kinds of wastefulness, starting with the waste of food, which is deplorable in the extreme".

A decline in the birthrate, which leads to the aging of the population, together with the relegation of the elderly to a sad and lonely existence, is a subtle way of stating that it is all about us, that our individual concerns are the only thing that matters. In this way, "what is thrown away are not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves". We have seen what happened with the elderly in certain places in our world as a result of the coronavirus. They did not have to die that way. Yet something similar had long been occurring during heat waves and in other situations: older people found themselves cruelly abandoned. We fail to realize that, by isolating the elderly and leaving them in the care of others without the closeness and concern of family members, we disfigure and impoverish the family itself. We also end up depriving young people of a necessary connection to their roots and a wisdom that the young cannot achieve on their own.

(From Pope Francis' Encyclical Letter on Fraternity and Social Friendship, Fratelli Tutti, art.18-19)

2021. március 18., csütörtök

Lacking Plan for Everyone 2

To care for the world in which we live means to care for ourselves. Yet we need to think of ourselves more and more as a single family dwelling in a common home. Such care does not interest those economic powers that demand quick profits. Often the voices raised in defence of the environment are silenced or ridiculed, using apparently reasonable arguments that are merely a screen for special interests. In this shallow, short-sighted culture that we have created, bereft of a shared vision, it is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars, albeit under the guise of noble claims.

(From Pope Francis' Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti, On Fraternity and Social Friendship, articles 17) /Illustration: Andy Goldsworthy's Ice and Snow Ephemeral Sculptures

REFLECTION:

Some might that Pope Francis' is kind of not interested in recovering Europe's unique culture shaped by the Christian heritage and the Enlightenment's humanist heritage, at least it is not primary concern. May be, that's true, and explains his focus on the issues of the third world, and our global responsibility for the common good of all. Yet, the conscience which he gives voice is Europe's conscience, it is still the voice of the Christian Europe. We can be proud of our heritage, that it is the table of the Eucharist which is the table for the single human family which dwells in the same home!

2021. március 17., szerda

Lacking Plan for Everyone

15. The best way to dominate and gain control over people is to spread despair and discouragement, even under the guise of defending certain values. Today, in many countries, hyperbole, extremism and polarization have become political tools. Employing a strategy of ridicule, suspicion and relentless criticism, in a variety of ways one denies the right of others to exist or to have an opinion. Their share of the truth and their values are rejected and, as a result, the life of society is impoverished and subjected to the hubris of the powerful. Political life no longer has to do with healthy debates about long-term plans to improve people's lives and to advance the common good, but only with slick marketing techniques primarily aimed at discrediting others. In this craven exchange of charges and counter-charges, debate degenerates into a permanent state of disagreement and confrontation. 

16. Amid the fray of conflicting interests, where victory consists in eliminating one's opponents, how is it possible to raise our sights to recognize our neighbours or to help those who have fallen along the way? A plan that would set great goals for the development of our entire human family nowadays sounds like madness. We are growing ever more distant from one another, while the slow and demanding march towards an increasingly united and just world is suffering a new and dramatic setback. 

(From Pope Francis' Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti, On Fraternity and Social Friendship, articles 15-16) 

 

COMMENT: 

  • ­I was thinking of the value and precious presence of the elderly in our parish. They are coming from a world, the world of their parents and great-grand parents, which still was a good listener. Their first reactions, through their life experience, are love, attention, patience and listening. They have a special call among us, namely, to show a living alternative to the present culture of mistrust and refusal. Resistance and renewal to the present maladies comes form grass-root level. And the love of our elderly is so real and so close at hand! 

2021. március 9., kedd

Shattered Dreams 2

'Opening up to the world' is an expression that has been co-opted by the economic and financial sector and is now used exclusively of openness to foreign interests or to the freedom of economic powers to invest without obstacles or complications in all countries. Local conflicts and disregard for the common good are exploited by the global economy in order to impose a single cultural model. This culture unifies the world, but divides persons and nations, for as society becomes ever more globalised, it makes us neighbours, but does not make us brothers.  

We are more alone than ever in an increasingly massified world that promotes individual interests and weakens the communitarian dimensions of life. Indeed, there are markets where individuals become mere consumers and bystanders. As a rule, the advance of this kind of globalism strengthens the identity of the more powerful, who can protect themselves, but it tends to diminish the identity of the weaker and poorer regions, making them more vulnerable and dependent. In this way, political life becomes increasingly fragile in the face of transnational economic powers that operate with the principle of 'divide and conquer'. 

(From Pope Francis' Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti, On Fraternity and Social Friendship, a. 12) 

/Comment. Perhaps, as Christians, we can reflect on the growing power of those who own, run and control the social media platform. Is not their identity (hubris?), their voice getting stronger and stronger, in proportion as they become financially richer from this new form of trade?  

  • Is not Christian identity facing a new challenge, in terms of clinging to its own narrative, the unique source of orientation, Revelation? Is not 'self-forgetting' and abandoning religious observance is something that weakens the person, and makes it more and more exposed to the manipulative forces of consumption and 'information-trade'? 
  • In this climate, the Eucharist, and the role of the local churches is so obviously important. We need to form and make our local churches resilient. We have to have places and communities of worship where God speaks to us./ 

2021. március 4., csütörtök

Without Borders 1-2

There is an episode in the life of Saint Francis that shows his openness of heart, which knew no bounds and transcended differences of origin, nationality, colour or religion. It was his visit to Sultan Malik-el-Kamil, in Egypt, which entailed considerable hardship, give Francis' poverty, his scarce resources, the great distances to be travelled and their different language, culture and religion.

That journey, undertaken at the time of the Crusades, further demonstrated the breadth and grandeur of his love, which sought to embrace everyone. Francis' fidelity to his Lord was commensurate with his love for his brothers and sisters. Unconcerned for the hardships and dangers involved, Francis went to meet the Sultan with the same attitude that he instilled in his disciples: if they found themselves 'among Saracens and other non-believers', without renouncing their own identity they were not to engage in arguments or disputes but to be subject to every human creature for God's sake. In the context of the times, this way s was an extraordinary recommendation. We are impressed that some eight hundred years ago Saint Francis urged that all forms of hostility or conflict be avoided and that a humble and fraternal 'subjection' be shown to those who did not share his faith.

Francis did not wage a war of words aimed at imposing doctrines; he simply spread the love of God. He understood that 'God is love and those who abide in love abide in God' (1 Jn 4:16). In this way, he became a father to all and inspired the vision of a fraternal society. Indeed, 'only the man who approaches others, not to draw them into his own life, but to help them become ever more fully themselves, can truly be called a father.' 

In the world of that time, bristling with watchtowers and defensive walls, cities were a theatre of brutal wars between powerful families, even as poverty was spreading through the countryside. Yet there Francis was able to welcome true peace into his heart and free himself of the desire to wield power over others. He became one of the poor and sought to live in harmony with all. Francis has inspired these pages. 

(From Pope Francis' Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti, On Fraternity and Social Friendship, 3-4.) 


2021. február 23., kedd

Readings for Lent - Old and New 5

1.The Call of Jesus Our Friend 

To discern our personal vocation, we have to realise that it is a calling from a friend, who is Jesus. When we give something to our friends, we give them the best we have. It will not necessarily be what is most expensive or hard to obtain, but what we know will make them happy. Friends are so sensitive to this that they can already imagine the smile on their friend's face when he or she opens that gift. This sort of discernment that takes place among friends is what I suggest you to take as a model for trying to discover God's will for your lives. 

 

I want you to know that, when the Lord thinks of each of you and what he wants to give you, he sees you as his close friend. And if the plans to grant you a grace, a charism that will help you live to the full and become someone who benefits others, someone who leaves a mark in life, it will surely be a gift that will bring you more joy and excitement than anything else in this world. Not because that gift will be rare or extraordinary, but because it will perfectly fit you. It will be a perfect fit for your entire life. (From Pope Francis' letter to young people, Christ Is Alive, art.287-288) 

 

2. Expulsion From Paradise 

 

Let me ponder on Adam and Eve's fall into sin, how they covered their nakedness with fig-leaves when they saw that they were naked. How to this day, all repented sinners, when they have lost virtue, feel exposed and cover their nakedness with some sort of lie or fantasy. (Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, Prolouge, 3 December)




2021. február 19., péntek

Readings for Lent - 'Old and New' 3

1. Prayer for discernment 

A particular form of discernment involves the effort to discover our vocation. Since it is a very personal decision that others cannot make for us, it requires a certain degree of solitude and silence. The Lord speaks to us in a variety of ways, at work, through others and at every moment. Yet we simply cannot do without the silence of prolonged prayer, which enables us better to perceive God's language, to interpret the real meaning of the inspirations we believe we have received, to calm our anxieties and to see the whole of our existence afresh in his own light. 

Yet this silence does not make us close in ourselves. We must remember that prayerful discernment has to be born of an openness to listening – to the Lord and to others, and to reality itself, which always challenges us in new ways. Only if we re prepared to listen, do we have the freedom to set aside our own partial or insufficient ideas… In this way, we become truly open to accepting a call that can shatter our security, but leads us to a better life. It is not enough that everything be calm and peaceful. God may be offering us something more, but in our comfortable inadvertence, we do not recognise it. (From Pope Francis' letter to young people, Christ Is Alive, art.283,284.) 

 

2. Purpose and Discernment 

'…The person who makes a journey without purpose, as the Fathers say, labours in vain. … What aim then ought we to have when we come to meet one another? First of all, love, for it is said, "When you see your brother or sister, you see the Lord, your God." Go in search of the fear of God, but with discernment, so that you go to meet one another as friends, each one bowing his head before the other, as we say each one humbling himself before God and before his brother, and cutting off his own will for the sake of his brother.' (St Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses.) 

 

 


2021. február 18., csütörtök

Readings for Lent: 'Old and New' 2


1. Formation of Conscience 

Here we see the importance of the formation of conscience, which allows discernment to grow in depth and in fidelity to God: forming our conscience is the work of a lifetime, in which we learn to cultivate the very sentiments of Jesus Christ, adopting the criteria behind his choices and the intentions behind his actions (Cf. Phil 2:5) 

 

In this process of formation, we let ourselves be transformed by Christ, even as we develop the habit of doing good, which also is part of our examination of conscience. We do not simply identify sins, but also recognise God's work in our daily lives, in the events of our personal history and the world around us, and in the witness of all those men and women who have gone before us or accompany us with their wisdom. This helps us to grow in the virtue of prudence and to give an overall direction to our life through concrete choices, in the serene awareness of both our gifts and our limitations. (From Pope Francis' letter to young people, Christ Is Alive, articles281-282) 

 

2. A penitential prayer from the Orthodox Tradition 

 

Attend, O heaven, and I shall speak; give ear, O earth, to the voice of one who repents before God and sings His praise. Look upon me, God my Saviour, with Your merciful eye, and accept my fervent confession. More than all men have I sinned; I alone have sinned against You. But as God take pity on Your creation, o Saviour. With my lustful desires I have formed within myself the deformity of the passions and disfigured the beauty of my mind. I am surrounded by the storm of sin, O compassionate Lord. But stretch out Your hand to me, as once You have to Peter (Matthew 14:31). I have stained the garment of my flesh, O Saviour, and defiled that which was made in Your image and likeness. With the lusts of passion I have darkened the beauty of my soul, and turned my whole mind entirely into dust. I have torn the first garment that the Creator wove for me in the beginning, and now I lie naked. (From Great Compline. Monday in the First Week. The Lenten Triodion.) 


2021. február 17., szerda

Egy legenda feltámadása: Ippolit Matvejevics zenekar

 
Nagylemez és memo anyag laza 30 éves késéssel:
https://ippolit.altpop.hu


A Süketfajdok tánczenéje A és B oldalak
 
 
Koncert 1987:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT1iiz6hjmA&feature=youtu.be
 

IPPOLIT MATVEJEVICS


Bő harminc év késéssel jelent meg a szolnoki progresszív alt-rock csapat, az Ippolit Matvejevics stúdióanyaga "Egy sosem volt legenda feltámadása" címmel az Alt Productions kiadó gondozásában. Az 1985 és 1990 között létezett zenekar vinyl lemeze egyfajta kései mementóként tárja elénk a késő Kádár-kor és a rendszerváltás időszakát.

Ippolit Matvejevics a Tizenkét szék című Ilf-Petrov, szovjet-orosz írópáros regényének egyik főalakja, a Madame veje, a vezetékneve pedig Vorobjanyinov, azaz Verebes. Az együttes alapításának gondolata Szolnokon, egy tiszaligeti hintán született meg, 1985. május 25-én valamivel éjfél előtt. Az egykori Madame Petuhova volt énekese, Pap Csilla találkozott egy másik buliból hazafelé tartó Csomor Csabával (akkor épp a Sound együttes végnapjainak dobosa volt) és Vígh Csabával, aki ugyanabban a formációban basszusgitározott. A véletlen találkozás résztvevői között, a kellően feldobott hangulatban néhány mondat után megszületett az egyezség, hogy az egykori Madame Petuhova együttes zsenge, ám biztató kísérletezéseinek továbbvitelére márpedig „kell egy csapat". Fél évbe telt, mire az ötletet tettek követték, Dian Róbert gitáros és L. Menyhért László fuvolista csatlakozásával gyakorlatilag az ötnegyed Sound együttes lett maga az Ippolit Matvejevics.

Az akkor a Megyei Művelődési és Ifjúsági Központ fenntartásában lévő szabadtéri színpad sarkában volt néhány kisebb helyiség, itt kezdődtek meg a próbák, mégpedig a formáció alkotótevékenységének öt évét mindvégig meghatározó módon: a Pap Béla által írt szövegekhez készültek az együttes közös munkájával a számos elemből építkező, többek által art-rocknak nevezett zenék. Dian Róbert felelt a gitártémákért, a néhány koncerten a Petuhovában is felbukkanó L. Menyhért László ütősökkel és cizellált fuvolajátékával tette izgalmassá a számokat, míg a megbízható ritmuslapokról Csomor „Csörömpő" Csaba és Vígh „Hörömpő" Csaba gondoskodtak. Negyed év intenzív próba után 1986 tavaszán, az AORTA megyei selejtezőjén mutatkozott be az együttes, a Keletre fel!, és a Drakula birodalma című számokkal. A zenét leginkább hard-rock elemek alkották és Dian Robi szélvészgyors gitártekerései jellemezték, néhol a fuvola fátyolos felhangjaival. A számok nem a hagyományos verze-refrén-verze szerkezetben álltak össze, hanem több, olykor az előző részhez alig, vagy egyáltalán nem illő motívumokból. 

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1986-ban a zenekar a tehetségkutató verseny területi fordulóját megnyerve bejutott a tizenhárom együttest számláló országos döntőbe. A kor szelleméhez igazodva az  évtized közepén az amatőr zenei versenyek jelenthették az egyetlen kitörési lehetőséget, így nem csoda, hogy abban az évben országszerte 600 (!) együttes jelentkezett a versenyre. Ennek tükrében az Ippolit Matvejevics együttes harmadik helye komoly sikerként értékelhető, főleg azért, mert a mezőny javát leginkább az Első Emelet akkori mérvadó zenei világa ihlette (az első helyet az Exotic és az Új Menüett megosztva kapta).

A bronzhelyezéssel járó díj két részből állt: az együttes ideiglenes profi működési engedélyt kapott (melyet a következő év tavaszán váltottak egy sikeres vizsga után állandóra), és két-három szám felvétele a Magyar Rádió nyolcas stúdiójában, ahol Victor Máté zenész- producernek szabad keze volt. Már amennyire. A felvételek tervezett időpontjában már Kiss Imre állt a rádió Szórakoztatózenei Osztályának élén és kis hezitálás után úgy döntött, nem vállal kockázatot a zenekar szövegei kapcsán, így nem lett rádiófelvétele az együttesnek. Reklamációra abban a korban nem volt lehetőség.

Az akkoriban a BRAVO kiadó ügyeit intéző Boros Lajoshoz Viktor Máté révén jutott el az együttes híre, ő azonban egyszerű ötlettel vette elejét az esetleges kellemetlenségeknek: az AORTA-n készült felvételek alapján közölte, hogy az ének hamis. Ennyi. E nyilvánvaló kibúvót még próbálta a zenekar semmisé tenni, hirtelen felindulásból készített négy felvételt a Rádió Szolnoki Stúdiójában Tóth Árpád segítségével és elküldte Borosnak. A később trónra lépő „Lali Királyt" nem sikerült meggyőzni, de így legalább ez a szalag megőrizte az egyébként az ország egyetlen hivatásos női kamarakórusában, a szolnoki Bartók Béla Kamarakórusban tizenkét évig éneklő Csilla hangját, az Ippolit Matvejevics szellemi hagyatékának kis töredékét.

1987-88-ban az akkori lehetőségekhez képest számos koncerten lépett fel az együttes, eljutott alternatív zenei fesztiválokra, rendszeresen lépett fel a korszak legendás klubjában, a Fekete Lyukban, és a korszellem igényei szerint még ORI-vizsgát is tett, aminek megléte volt a színpadi szereplés feltétele. 1988 szeptemberében Csomor Csaba elhagyta az együttest, baráti szolidaritásból Vígh Csaba is vele tartott, és egy jazz-rock formációban folytatták zenei kalandozásukat. A helyükre némi keresgélés után érkezett Andrási Sándor basszusgitáros, az országosan is ismert, szintén szolnoki Wu-2 együttesből és a számos hard rock bandában edződő B. Tóth Lóránt dobos. Közreműködésükkel az együttes számai lényegesen keményebben szólaltak meg, köszönhetően elsősorban „Madár" két pedállal dübörgő lábdobjainak.

Még egy tagcserés támadás zajlott 1989 végére, amikor a ritmusszekció ismét átalakult, visszatért Vígh Csaba basszusgitározni, és érkezett az Exitben edződő, később az Akelában is megfordult Ratkai Miklós a dobok mögé. Az ő szintén keményebb dobolása újabb lendületet adott a zenekarnak, az utolsó alkotói korszak több szerzeménye (Hétköznapi kommandó, Ma, Nomádok) is e hangzásvilágra épült.

Az összesen huszonhárom dalt készítő együttes szövegeiben a rendszerváltozást közvetlenül megelőző évek társadalmi eseményei is tükröződnek, melyek alól szinte kibújni sem igen lehetett: a Hétköznapi kommandó című számot például nagy nehezen sikerült rákönyörögni a Nagy Feró által gründolt Garázs című válogatás második lemezére, melynek felvételére a Golgota utcai Rocker stúdióban azon az 1990-beli októberi napon került sor, amikor a legdurvábban elbarikádozta az ország valamennyi közútját a taxisblokád. A stúdiómunka igazi örömzenélésnek hatott a hangszerek és erősítők Népligeten át történő kézben cipelése okozta kihívás mellett.

Az együttes 1990 nyarán lépett utoljára színpadra, nősülések, gyerekáldás, ilyesmi volt a háttérben. Kései mementóként még összebarkácsoltak egy számot némi baráti segítséggel, (a stúdiófelvételen Zombori Sándor basszusgitározott, Tóth Árpád bűvölte az effekteket) az 1992-ben kiadott "Szolnok Rock" című válogatáslemezre. A Védtelen világ című szám felvétele az együttesben is néhány koncert erejéig felbukkanó Tóth László gitáros (ex-Wu2) által alapított Denevér stúdióban készült. 

Az "Egy sosem volt legenda feltámadása" című vinyl lemez az alábbiakat tartalmazza: hét szám, 40 percnyi múltidéző felvétel, hatoldalas kiadvány, korabeli zenekari matrica, és az első 25 példányban lemezenként eltérő további korabeli érdekességek. A korong Szolnokon a Szkítia - Avantgard Könyvesboltban (Baross út 3. - www.bigbandi.hu), Budapesten a Wave hanglemezboltban (1065 Bp., Révay köz 1.) kapható, illetve a kiadónál is megrendelhető (altproduct@gmail.com). További információk az együttesről a honlapjukon és Facebook-oldalukon találhatók.

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READINGS FOR LENT: 'OLD AND NEW' 1 (Ash Wednesday)

I. Vocation and Discernment
Jesus is walking in our midst, as he did in Galilee. He walks through our streets, and he quietly stops and looks into our eyes. His call is attractive and intriguing. Yet today the stress and quick pace of a world constantly bombarding us with stimuli can leave no room for the interior silence in which we can perceive Jesus' gaze and hear his call. In the meantime, many attractively packed offers will come your way. They may seem appealing and exciting, although in time they will only leave you feeling empty, weary and alone. Don't let this happen to you, because the maelstrom of this world can drive you to take a route without real meaning, without direction, without clear goals, and thus thwart many of your efforts. It is better to seek out that calm and quiet that enable you to reflect, pray, look more clearly at the world around you, and then, with Jesus, come to recognise the vocation that is yours in this world.

I mentioned there that all of us, but especially the young, are immersed in a culture of zapping. We can navigate simultaneously on two or more screens and interact at the same time with two or three virtual scenarios. Without the wisdom of discernment, we can easily become prey to every passing trend. Indeed, this is all the more important when some novelty presents itself in our lives. Then we have to decide whether it is new wine brought by God or an illusion created by spirit of this world or the spirit of the devil.

Such discernment, even though it includes reason and prudence, goes beyond them, for it seeks a glimpse of that unique an mysterious plan that God has for each of us... It has to do with the meaning of my life before the Father who knows and loves me, and with the real purpose of my life, which nobody knows better than he'

(From Pope Francis' letter to young people, Christ Is Alive, articles 277-279)


II. Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, 'The fear of the Lord'

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But, if a person has not begun aright, how shall he/she finish aright? If a man has followed the wrong path from the beginning, he must go back and find the beginning, setting his feet on the right path. he who has not the fear of God cannot have love for God. The greatest ascetics, torturers of self who spent forty or fifty years in incessant ascetism, day and night, were filled with the fear of God right up to the time of their death; and these, the most sinless of mortals, cried out in the hour of death: 'Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!'

The fear of the Lord is the salt of devotion. If this salt is lacking, all our devotion is insipid and tepid. The fear of the Lord girds up the loins, encircles the waist, gives the heart sobriety, curbs the mind and chastises self will. Where is repentance without the fear of the Lord? Where is humility? Where is restraint? Where are chastity and patience, service and obedience?

Oh, my brothers and sisters, let us embrace this teaching as holy truth: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
(Bishop Nikolai Velemirovic, Prolog, 2 June)


A prayer specially written for Ash Wednesday and Lent 2021
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.

The remembering is easier this year, O God,
our vulnerability and fragility
laid bare by a global pandemic.

The ashes of our former lives,
of our loss and lament are
front and centre, too close for comfort.

Returning with all our hearts,
with fasting, weeping and mourning
has been our long unchosen lent.

And yet we do come,
returning with hands open,
hearts tender and heads weary,

returning with tearstained faces,
smudged with the ashes
of sadness and grief.

Returning with questions,
sorrows, frustrations,
longings and hopes
 
that you will take the ashes of our lives,
this dust from which we are made and
reshape us, breathe new life into us,

giving us a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning
and a mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
 
So help us, God,
Amen.
 
[Written with reference to the Ash Wednesday liturgy, Joel 2: 12, Genesis 2:7 and Isaiah 61:3 by Wendy Lloyd]




2021. február 14., vasárnap

The Leper as An Example for Our Faith

In our Bible study group, Philip shared with me his experience of leprosy. His father took him to the missionary hospital. There, as a nine-year-old, he saw how a leper's hand was operated. Not going into visual details, the operation was needed to strengthen the ligaments in the person's hand. As leprosy advances, the person loses its senses to feel pain, and hold himself or herself. The reason I am sharing this recollection is to feel the leper in the Bible close to us. We are indeed closer to him than we think. What can we learn from the life-example of our Biblical leper?  

'A man infected with leprosy must wear his clothing torn and his hair disordered: he must shield his upper lip and cry: "unclean, unclean." As long as the disease lasts he must be unclean; therefore he must live apart: he must live outside the camp.' This 'unclean', 'unclean'echoes in us with a timely message. Is not our experience of Covid 19 so much similar to that of those, who became outcasts because of leprosy. We feel a similarly painful separation. This is a separation from our previous, normal life. This is a similar separation from our friends, colleagues or members of family whom we are no longer able to see or visit when we want to.  

'He must shield his upper lips and cry: "unclean, unclean".' With the beginning of the penitential season on Ash Wednesday this coming week, we should also ask. Are not we indeed 'unclean', have not we become 'unclean' as a culture? Is not our state - our unadmitted sins, our unexamined lives - crying for forgiveness? Have not we offended God, and Nature itself, with our sins and selfishness? Before we enter Lent, as a community, as a nation, as a culture, should raise this question.  

To answer this big question, first we need to meet this leper (inside us) in person. For what we can learn from him, can lead us to genuine repentance. How is he our life example, an example for our faith? 

Matthew and Luke, in their Gospel report that this miracle happened in the presence of a huge crowd. The leper comes to Jesus in the midst of a great crowd. They must have been astonished that a leper presses through them: a leper who was not allowed to approach anyone. The fact that he made his way to Jesus through all these crowds was so astonishing that Matthew uses the exclamation, 'lo!'.  

The man 'comes beseeching him and falling on his knees to him' as a most humble suppliant. Luke says, he fell on his face while kneeling, bowing his head to the ground. In Matthew he prostrated himself and addressed Jesus as kyrie. 

Oriental people were very free with prostrations, and kyrie was often little more than our respectful 'sir'. But here something more is going on.  

At the time leprosy was incurable. So what the leper asks is less important. He knows that it is incurable. He knows that this healing may never happen, and he would humbly accept it. Instead of what he asks, the way in which he asks is significant. He fully believes in the power of Jesus to heal his leprosy with a single word. 'You can clean me', and he adds, 'if you will.' 

There is no doubt in him about Jesus. The emphasis is on his submission to Jesus. He leaves his healing to the will of Jesus. As a leper he does not expect this teacher to touch him, he does not have to… He places his case completely in the hands of Jesus. This is the highest form of trust. He is willing, if Jesus so wills, to remain in his living death. 

Richard Lensky's Commentary draws our attention to the fact: this leper distinguishes God's temporal gift from his spiritual and eternal gifts. He exactly knows that he is asking for a temporal gift, which God's wisdom and love may withhold from us and often does. 

 

How did this leper come to this wisdom, humility, and faith?  We do not know the exact details. But his case shows how the teaching of Jesus produced this spiritual effect. That is why it is so important to listen to Jesus' teaching. To be 'hearers', week in and week out, daily. This faith was produced in someone, who 'was full of leprosy' (Luke). It was in an advanced state. Just like we have been immersed in Covid 19, for a year now.  

We don't know when God will give us our recovery from Covid19. We all want to be cured from it. Yet, the leper reminds us, it is a temporal gift. God may give it or may postpone our healing. Is there something which we have to do, as a preparation? Something, similar task of trust and hope, preparation and effort to get to Jesus, as the leper did? What is this task? 

Whenever our prayers will be heard, we can be certain, that Jesus is moved by compassion. The biblical word is olpagnisomai which Mark uses. The verb means to have one's inner organs moved, lungs, heart, and liver, which were considered to be the seat of the feelings such as love or pity. We may say that 'his heart was stirred'.  

It implies not only a pained feeling at the site of suffering. It is more than sympathy which feels the other's suffering and shows mildness or kindness. 

The story of the leper shows how Jesus heart was ever filled with merciful kindness and feelings of pity for the distressed. Whenever and wherever suffering and sorrow of body or soul met his eyes, Jesus was moved with the will to help. Whenever he sees suffering, he is moved to help.  

Covid 19, after a long year, is still with us. Is there something, what is that something, what is missing, which we should do in order that Jesus act out his compassion, which is surely there. Is this delay form his part or from our part? 

 

14.02.2021 

 


2021. február 7., vasárnap

New Creation: the metaphor of the ‘kintsugi tea-cup’(Job 7:1-4,6-7; 1Corinthians ).16-19, 22-23; Mk 1:29-39)

 

I would like us to see our three readings against the image of a beautifully mended broken Japanese tea-cup. In Japan, re-building the broken vessels has developed into on art. It is called 'Kintsugi'. A Kintsugi master mends the the broken tea ware with Japanese lacquer and then covers the lines of connection with gold. The result is not the old, mended vessel, but a completely new creation, which is even more beautiful than the original. So let us have a look at our readings with the help of this beautiful metaphor. 

In our first reading, Job - as always - depicts the broken human condition. 'Like the slave, sighing for the shade, or the workman with no thought but his wages, months of delusion I have assigned to me, nothing for my own but nights of grief.' In his book we can recognise our own sufferings, personal and collective. In times of Covid 19, the pain of Job fully resonates with our pains. With him, we cry out, 'everything is broken.' 

Apostle Saint Paul knows well this brokenness. Think of his conversion. His pharisaic Jewish tradition was shattered by the new faith in Jesus Christ. All he saw was that people were leaving their teachers and turned to Christ. Paul was broken. He thought he failed. In his anger, he persecuted the members of the new movement, and agreed with putting them to death. He fell from the horseback, became blind. A broken man. Listening to his words speaks about how he found himself again in Christ. His letters, with honesty, recall his previous life. Or he is always honestly mentioning his struggles and sufferings in declaring the good news. Yet, in every letter of his, what dominates is the radiance of grace. Symbolically, it is what we see in our Japanese tea-cup. The golden lines, connecting and vitalising the previously broken parts. 

The Gospel passage, in a close up, shows Jesus 'mending' a broken situation. Peter's mother-in-law is ill. Now he restores the unity of the family. Out of illness and concern, he creates a loving and flourishing community. In it, everyone finds their place immediately. Peter's mother-in-law 'serves', the apostles listen to his teaching. Then we see Jesus healing all who were brought to him. (A good model of the church, how it can suddenly function and flourish again.) 

Again, our image of the renewed vessel helps us understand an important feature of Jesus' teaching and healing ministry. Whatever situations and people he touched, he did more than healing them and giving them the right instructions. He added something previously missing from these people's life. It is an unspoken beauty, which they could not even name. Think of the 'golden lines' in the vessel, the added beauty. Jesus forged a new community. In those, to whom 'faith in him' was added, they remained faithful to him. The first Christians came to faith not out of blue, but because they were marked by Jesus' healing love. This was that added beauty, which remained invisible and unnamed while he was them in his teaching ministry. 

Finally, let us think about ourselves, in front of our metaphor. Our parish, our life together, is like a broken and renewed vessel. Regarding our past, our failures, we are a broken vessel. 'The Christian gospel, [locally, too] begins with the awareness of our brokenness…Christ came not to "fix" us, not just to restore, but to make us a new creation. [Just as the Kintsugi master] does not just "fix" or repair a broken vessel. Rather, he makes the broken pottery even more beautiful than the original.' (Makoto Fujimura, Art and Faith) 

 Let us bear in our hearts this image and think of our own community as a new creation, repaired and renewed in Jesus' hands. What does it entail, how should I see my brothers and sisters, easy and not easy ones, in line with this image? What does it say about us when we are together? Is not this image of the renewed cup with the golden connecting lines between the pieces a good expression of how the Eucharist which we receive unites us? 

However, let us return to Saint Paul's letter. 'Do you know what my reward is? It is this: in my preaching, to be able to offer the Good News free, and not insist on the rights which the gospel gives me.' Let us think about our role. Let us ponder that 'added beauty' which only we can offer to our broken world? Paul remains a powerful reminder that we Christians have a unique contribution in this world. What is it which no social action, no technology, no government, no local council, no political movement can not give - only us. Think of the 'golden line' in our vessel, which is the image of the Church. It is the living faith, our living worship in trust in God and in one another's goodness. Let us cherish this beauty in order to connect us, let it shine and grow! 

 

05.02.2021 


2021. január 19., kedd

Imitation Christi - A Special Form of the Apostolic Succession

 

We can define the church as the community where we are being healed from our addictions. In the church we become aware of our dependences and learn how to keep them at bay. 

Saint Paul's letter further enhances this definition. In this community, we imitate our Saviour. 'Our one desire is that every one of you should go on showing the same earnestness to the end, to the perfect fulfilment of our hopes, never growing careless, but imitating those who have their faith and the perseverance to inherit the promises.' (Hebrews 6:10-20) This imitation implies an almost unconscious attention to values and virtues in others of which source is the person of Jesus, the way in which he lived among us.  

This is a special form of the 'apostolic succession'. The loving deeds of our Lord, the gestures of his love were also passed on to the apostles, and later Christians. It is good to think of this 'rich memory of the Gospel', being present in each of us. When we recognise and imitate the goodness and Christian thinking of others, we imitate the source, our Lord. 

 

19.02.2021 


2021. január 17., vasárnap

Where Do You Live?

 

I remember the words of my spiritual director from decades ago. 'God is calling every young man and women for the sanctity of life. Every young person, at a stage of their lives, hears the call to the priesthood, or to dedicate themselves to God alone (like in religious life).' This call can vanish, it can remain unanswered. Today's readings are about this call. They invite us to revisit this voice in us. "'Samuel, Samuel!' Samuel answered, 'Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.'" (1 Samuel 3:10) 

The loving Father invites everyone to be part of the Kingdom of God. All of us have a role, a very unique contribution that no one else can do. Every baptised person is like an 'embassy'. Where we live our task is to transform that spot into the Kingdom of God and order it and fill it up with its life. 

But happens to this call? What happens to this voice in us? Why is it fading away, as abandoned churches, places of worship sold out and converted into pubs are echoing this question. Our second reading, Paul's letter (1 Corinthians 6:13-15), in a very straightforward way, helps to answer this question. 'Keep away from fornication!' - the apostle says. Our call to love God and our neighbour, our vision of how we should live with Christ, the desire to be with Him in prayer and compassion can be gradually erased from our heart. Personal and collective sins, it is only matter of time, will lead to this erasure. 

So when we read cheerfully the enthusiastic question of the first disciples - we should do it with a desire to repent. 'Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, "What do you want?" They answered, "Rabbi where do you live?" "Come and see" he replied; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day.' (John 1:37-39) Other translations say, 'Come and you will see!'  

Let us rejoice in these words today. For we have found in them the very source of our Baptismal vows. Let us 'unbury' and clearly see those things which dulled and tarnished our active role in the Kingdom of God. Let us repent; that is the importance of confessing one's sins and do it aright. 

When we rejoice with the first disciples that 'we have found the Messiah' of our soul something important happens. First, we realise that we are called to be different set apart from the bad practices of the world: idolatry, prostitution (or fornication), and warfare. But on a personal level, we realise and admit our own addictions, as all of us are addicted to something. When we say that 'we have found the Messiah', we can rejoice over the fact that part of our being Christians is being healed from our addictions. Let us celebrate with Andrew and Peter, that the church is the place where we gain our ultimate freedom. 

 

17.01.2021