Divine Beauty

Monday, March 19, 2018

Divine Beauty - Film

Here is a project with which the Bear could not be more proud to be associated. A film from the Bear's polymath Maltese-American publisher, Marcelle Abela. The Bear is an old radio broadcaster, as is Red Death*, and we both enjoyed getting back into some voice work.

In another matter, the recent banning of this ephemeris from Facebook continues. On the other hand, the Bear's net worth did not drop by billions since. Coincidence? If you value this little (and it truly is little) blog, please consider sharing with your friends by retweets or other means to help make up for the FB strangulation.

Thank you - the Management

*as in experienced

Friday, March 16, 2018

Lentblogging Day 31- Who Do You Want to Be on Easter?

As Lent draws near its end, it is a good time to look behind us and see what our Lenten program looks like.

The Bear hopes yours is better than his. He looks behind him and thinks a frat party could hardly have made a worse shambles.

And, yet, he cannot say the exercise has been unfruitful.

Lent isn't a game where you win or lose. It's a handful of choices that mark your desire to cooperate with the grace of God in a special way for 40 days. Your discipline, your fasting, your prayers, your almsgiving and your service to others will not be perfect. Perhaps you have done better than the Bear. You could hardly have done worse. However, Lent is not a game in which we keep score against others, either.

From the beginning, the Bear has thought it best to pick just one virtue to grow and one vice to root out. What if we really did that every year? If the best you have come up with is "to be a better Catholic," or even "the best Catholic you can be," the Bear thinks you might benefit from refining your goal.

Bears, as you know, are very practical. Perhaps too practical for the tastes of some, but that's okay.

Fortunately, there's still time. Not only during Lent, but as long as you draw breath. If you're feeling a bit panicked because your counting stone pile is small, you can still enjoy the feast, then continue a little Lent after. Lent is like the "reset button." It stops the momentum of worldly life and lets us start again.

The unworthy Bear will be praying for you, as he hopes you may pray for him.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Shipping Day!

Head of Shipping and Biting looking a little disorganized.

If a few days go by and you have not received a copy of SAINT CORBINIAN'S BEAR LENTEN COMPANION for BEARISH HUMANS you believe you should have received, please let us know. Also, once you receive yours, please be so kind as to delete the electronic copy you should have been provided in the meantime.

As a favor, once you've read it, please consider leaving a review at Amazon. It already has a couple of early 5-star reviews. About forty more and Amazon might notice it! (If you have read Judging Angels, and haven't yet reviewed, it you could do the Bear a big favor by leaving a short review of that, too.)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Lent Book Shipment Status

Buster Resting Up for the Big Push
If you orderd a copy of 

First of all, thank you.

The original shipment of books was accidentally delivered to someplace in Missouri, not to Bear's Cave. Red Death got one from Amazon (which has the paperback edition for $18.99 or the Kindle version for $9.99.) The rest should arrive soon.

You can also purchase an autographed paperback direct from the Bear using the PayPal DONATE link on the sidebar to the right. Please do include instructions regarding autograph and how you would like it inscribed.

As soon as he receives his shipment, he will autograph them and inscribe them per instructions in the PayPal orders. (If there are no instructions regarding an inscription, Bear will simply autograph them in generic fashion.)

Autographed copies will be passed to the head of our shipping department, Buster along with addresses to be wrapped and shipped.

Shipping is free in the United States for single copies. For orders placed from outside the U.S., the Bear will inform you of shipping costs. Please keep in mind that shipping costs outside the U.S. can be greater than the price of the book.

Still plenty of time to get in on the first wave. Buy from the authors and you will receive an electronic version to tide you over until you get your paperback copy.

SAINT CORBINIAN'S BEAR LENTEN COMPANION for BEARISH HUMANS  is 178 pages, including front matter and the authors' pictures and bios at the end. It is not very much like the Lentblogging the Bear does. For one thing, the Bear had the time to craft each story with care. For another, the book traces the character arc of the Bear's adventure through his first Lent. Each day presents a different story illustrating a certain lesson usually with commentary provided by St. Corbinian himself. Thus, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

It has a few professional illustrations to help you remember certain points and each chapter has study questions. (Bear wanted to call them"reflections," but study questions they are). The questions are designed more to make the reader think about the day's lesson, rather than test her reading comprehension.

It is written to be read one day at a time. Not only do they track the authors' experiences of Lent, day-by-day, but it is better to think about the material, rather than gulp down several chapters at once. There are SPOILERS, too.

A couple of early birds have already gotten their reviews up at Amaszon (both 5-stars.) After the 40 days and completion of the book, please do the Bear a favor of providing a nice review, if you found it worthwhile, or, if not, please let the Bear know how he might make it better.

The stories are deceptively short, but always meaningful. And often quite funny, as is the case with the Bear trying to come to spiritual grips with his eating of a barn animal, with an internal monologue describing it as "a suspicious death."


Imaginative, deep. This is a great writer that has helped to stoke the Lenten fire.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Lentblogging Day 24- WAR!!!

Once upon a time, in a country far, far away, when talking Bears were far more numerous and enjoyed cordial relations with humans, the Bear wished to spend a Lenten Friday with his fellow Catholics, perhaps meditating on how Our Savior suffered to win his Bride, the Church.

One village he passed seemed particularly animated, and the Bear thought: Here are truly men of good will who are gathered together in Christian brotherhood to observe Lent.

Indeed, there were two equal groups of people, each group holding aloft statues from the Stations of the Cross.

The Bear tried to remain unobtrusive, but was soon noticed.

"Over here, Bear," hissed a woman. "We could use us a stout fellow like you."

"Don't listen to her, Bear," called another woman, from the other side. "You don't want to associate with their kind."

The Bear did not know what to say, but at that moment, a wave of sound moved across the two groups. The Bear listened closely, for he thought perhaps they were going to begin a prayer, or perhaps sing a hymn. He loved to sing, although he sang loud, not well.

A man with sly eyes and a large grin joined him. He was rubbing his hands together in delight.

"Hold on," lifted a voice from one side. "Jesus Condemned to Death belongs to our side."

"And, so it begins," the sly-eyed man whispered to the Bear with a gentle nudge to the ribs.

"Not this year," came the answer from the other side ."You homos are lucky we let you have the Third Fall."

"But we always have Jesus Condemned to Death."

"Is that what that fake pope of yours said? So, this year it's different. Enjoy the novelty and shut your damned mouth."

"He's a wonderful, merciful man, and wise, not that you Nazi  bastards would know it. Rot in Hell."

"What's a Nazi?" the Bear asked.

"Relevant to the first half of the 20th century, that's all. Isn't this marvelous? You can't even tell it's Lent!"

"Well, they do have the Stations of the Cross," said the Bear, but just then a man struck down someone on the other side with Jesus Falls the Third Time, killing him.

"You can kiss my ass, 'cause you're not gettin' him this year," he said. "If you don't like it, go sing Kumbaya with your Piskie priestess friends."

A priest interposed himself between the two factions. "Please, my dear people. It's Lent. It's the season we should all come together in prayer and fasting because the Chair of Peter has been vacant during the last six anti-popes."

Another priest confronted him. "My dear brother, why do wish to promote error and cause conflict during this holy season of preparation for Easter? Your position is extreme. It has only been this last one who is an anti-pope," he said, and struck him in the head with a smoking thurible, sending him fleeing the town screaming, trailing fire and smoke from his head like a meteor.

"Everyone knows we got two popes!" cried a large man, who broke a jar of wine over the priest's head, knocking him to the ground. The burning incense from his thurible kindled his clothing and he burned where he lie to oohs and aahs from both sides.

Over one side, a rainbow banner that said Tolerance was unfurled. Over the other, an ornate flag embroidered with many saints and Traditio was raised. A hush fell over the two crowds as they looked at the dead men in the small space between the two factions, then, their heads turned as one as they watched a tiny trail of smoke disappear over a distant hill.

The two mobs dispersed and the Bear saw they were heading toward the church in the square. For a moment, the Bear hoped they were coming together inside, but they started prying out bricks. In no time at all, the church was a ruin. Some carried out pews to make a barricade, but several stout fellows prepared to smash through it with a marble statue of the Blessed Mother.

"Brick for brick!" shouted a youth, then threw one, striking an old woman in the head. A cheer went up from his side as she dropped dead. As if that were the signal, bricks started flying thick in both directions. The men with the statue breached the barricade, but were repelled by a volley of old missals.

"They're Latin, you inbred freaks, so you shouldn't mind getting hit in the teeth with them."

"Hope you like getting your ass kicked in Latin." A number of men around him advanced, chanting,  amo, amas amat.

"This is terrible," the Bear cried as he watched one woman strangling another with a rosary while yelling, count that, bitch! "It's Lent! I can't stay here."

"You won't do better elsewhere, my friend. This war has been going on for years, and there is never a ceasefire. You're in the People's Democratic Catholic Republic of Blog."

"Where can I go to find true believers?"

"Oh, these are the true believers, Just ask them."

"No, I mean ordinary Catholics."

"Not too many of those left, fortunately. Most of them were more... let's say unserious than ordinary. Anyway, they've all been squeezed out. Some have left the country, but a lot of them just got fed up and go to the nondenominational meeting place up the road. It's much less dangerous."

"The one with the free coffee and all-you-can-eat doughnuts and great music by Fleetwood Mac?"

"Er, why yes! Here, my friend. I'll be happy to take you there. Or, better, pick a side. You never know. A Bear might just tip the scales. They obviously need some good counsel, and you're a wise old Bear, if I ever saw one. All you have to do is pick a side."

"I can't sort of hang out in the middle?"

"Oh, sure! By all means!"

"You're only saying that because, look- there is no middle. I think I'll leave this People's Democratic Catholic Republic of Blog. I don't think the Pope is all that great, and there are a lot of problems in the Church, but Lent is Lent," the Bear stated firmly.

"So, long, my friend. Of course. You can leave whenever you want! But, you'll be back. It's bland and boring out there. All the excitement is here! You'll miss those ear-tickling sound bytes and there are some sexual peccadilloes of a Patagonian priest coming up that are just too rich. Besides. You're forgetting Holy Thursday. You can't be thinking of missing the Foot Follies this year, can you, Bear?"

"Well, maybe I'll just watch a bit. I'm not taking sides, though."

"Of course, not, my friend. You just wait there. I'll be back with hot coffee and a bag of doughnuts and we can watch together. Just watch."

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Letblogging Day 23- Ego

The Awful Truth about the Bear

"For godly grief produces repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death." 2 Corinthians 7:10 (RSV-2CE) The note to the Didache Bible from Ignatius Press (with notes based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, plus apologetic resources) warns, "worldly grief leads to despair and loss of faith and hope."

Everything the Bear does smells of pride. It is the ripe stench of pretending to do something for God, while being secretly motivated by ego.

Lentblogging is a great example of this (as might be, for all the Bear knows, Catholic blogging in general; bloggers are mostly smart people, who write well and have something to say, so that's not a condemnation, just speculation). Committing to doing something every day for 40 days is a pretty big deal for a Bear of irregular habits, for a Bear whose energy is unevenly distributed throughout the month.

Daily Lentblogging was Bear's commitment as part of his Lenten bona opera. It was supposed to be an edifying gift to his readers. He would share his own Lenten observations and maybe come at some things from a different direction than other writers. He would talk about different things or some of the same things  in a different way than he did in his Lenten Companion for Bearish Humans. It was an approved discipline in service to God.

It's All About the Bear

If that is the case, why is the Bear's first thought about himself? Why does he want to apologize to you, to explain why he failed to post something every day recently? He has some good reasons, you see. It would make him feel better to lay them out so everyone would go, "aw, poor Bear," and then we could all move forward.

The answer is easy. It is because this ephemeris, like everything the Bear does, is tainted by his ego. (Of course, part of this ego trip is imagining anyone cares whether he misses a day here and there.)

Shame versus Contrition

Another example is confession. When Bear commits a sin, he feels shame. That does motivate him to go to confession, sometimes, but what kind of confession does that make? Shame is a wound to his pride. He thought he was better than that and knows that if others learned of his sin, they might think less of him. Shame is a pretty miserable feeling. Confession can bring some psychological relief.

And, yet, what does shame have to do with anything? Contrition is something different. It is defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1451) as: "a sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with a resolution not to sin again." (Citing Council of Trent, 1551). Also, "when it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is 'perfect' (contrition of charity)." (CCC 1452).

Deal with your shame with your therapist and pray for the grace of contrition, but at least recognize the difference.

The Grace of Mixed Motives

However, even imperfect contrition is a gift that may get you to the sacrament of confession and absolution. (See CCC 1453).

Maybe you can give a moment today to wonder if you have mixed motives for your religious work. At the same time, however, remember that mixed motives are better than no motives at all for Bears- and Bearish Humans.

This Buddy Miller song (from Universal House of Prayer album) seems appropriate.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Lentblogging Day 21 - Halfway There, Running on Empty

On August 24, 2001, a commercial airliner ran out of fuel between Toronto, Canada, and Lisbon, Portugal. The Airbus A330 twin had developed a leak in the right engine and was losing about a gallon of jet fuel per second.

The pilots transferred fuel from the left tank to the right tank to balance the load. Unfortunately, all that accomplished was to lose more fuel. They decided to divert to Lajes, in the Azores.

The right engine quit. Commercial aviation belongs to the big twins, and they can fly just fine on one engine. Except, three minutes later, the left engine also flamed out. Without engines, an airliner loses all sorts of nice things like electricity and hydraulics and reverse thrust to help slow down once they land.

Air Transat Flight 236 was now a glider.

Can you imagine being a passenger in an airplane when an engine stops? The captain says everything's okay, the airplane is built to fly on one engine, they're just going to divert as a routine safety measure, and the flight attendants smile.

And then the other engine goes out. This time nobody says anything. The flight attendants are still smiling, but they're strapping on the parachutes you never knew until that moment they had.

The flight crew figured they had 15 to 20 minutes before they would run out of feet between them and the ocean. They were pretty good, though, because they managed to perform a dead stick landing at Lajes, and the story had a happy ending.

The Bear doesn't know about you, but he's out of fuel. He thought about turning around, but it's just as far to his destination airport as it is from his departure airport. But Lent isn't just getting from A to B. It's about leaving A as one person, and arriving at B as someone better.

The problem is, at least with Bears, is that they are quite set in their ways. For Bears, it is their irregular pattern of life. It is adaptive for them. It makes them unpredictable, which is a good thing when people are allowed to kill you with guns upon purchase of a license.

Bears are so unpredictable, there might be one looking through a window of your house at this very moment. Happens all the time. Bears are also stealthy and seldom get caught. There's probably one in your garage; maybe that noise you heard on your roof a few minutes ago. They got bored with Lent a few days ago, you see, and decided to take advantage of the situation while all humans were weak from fasting and busy with prayer and holy reading, just like you are.

What with all that sneaking around and unpredictability, however, it's more than likely that all Bears will end up as the same damn Bears they started out as on Ash Wednesday. If this Bear didn't, it would be the first time in 1300 years.

Here's the gospel. You may have seen it before. God is patient.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Lentblogging Day 17- The Rosary According to Bears

This is Your Bear on Rosaries

"Advice" is too strong a word for anything said by a Bear, except, maybe, "RAWR!" We'll call these haphazard daily observations during Lent, um, "observations."

Most of these observations have been practical. The Bear figures you are getting spiritual nourishment from some legitimate source. (Okay, Woodland Creatures, settle down; Bear heard the jokes). By "legitimate," Bear means time-tested truths of the ancient faith, whether from the original source or faithfully passed on by later witnesses.

He has spoken more than once about the Liturgy of the Hours, because that is the centerpiece of Benedictine prayer. However, today, he wants to say something about the rosary.

The Bear will let you in on a secret. He does not happen to be a fan of private revelations. The use to which even approved private revelations is put belongs to individual Catholics. As for pious tales, they make a point, but who knows if all of them are history? If you find some irony in that coming from a 1300-year-old talking Bear, congratulations.

There are many old stories and, frankly, a few extravagant claims, connected with the signature Catholic prayer of the rosary. The Bear leaves judgment of those up to each of his readers.

Even Better than Yoga!

Aside from that, however, the Bear will say this:

Done properly, the rosary is a brilliant and effective method of meditation that is superior to vaunted Eastern or other esoteric techniques in sophistication, results and safety. Five decades is the perfect length for today's attention spans. It combines a short but varied repertoire of verbal repetition and physical activity with visualizations to which generations of Catholics have contributed to the Aether, Spiritus Mundi, Astral Plane, Collective Unconscious and/or Communion of the Saints, whichever floats your barque.

It is a complete experience that combines the fingers, the voice, the memory, the imagination and prayer. It is one of the last survivors of the ars memoriae in our wiki-age.

At worst, it will make you healthier. As the Huffington Post reports, a study published in the British Medical Journal says it's as good for your heart as yoga.

So much for Jesoga. (Link to Fr. Z on Jesuit yoga.)

The Bear's "Secret of the Rosary"

With apologies to St. Simon de Montfort, here's the secret according to Bear Theology:

Lisa Frank Delicious Pony
The rosary is a state-of-the-art spiritual super-weapon designed by God to make you not only healthy, but holy, and devils hate it.

What really gets devils is the apparent old-womanish bog Irish superstition of it. Devils (and many humans) still haven't figured out how something that looks like a WWI Sopwith Camel by way of Lisa Frank zooms through their infernal air defense command like a B2 Stealth Bomber.

But, that's the brilliance of the design. It embodies genuine humility. That's right. If you look up the word "humility" in a dictionary, you find a picture of a rosary, not a celebrity. You don't have to be learned to use it. An illiterate old crab-widow in backwater Maryland can use it better than the Pope of Rome.

So, the Bear takes out a little string of beads - one of them is a very girly-looking birthstone rosary - with his massive paws and all of sudden he's spiritual Iron Bear.

Sometimes, it's like the Regina Spektor song: nobody laughs at God when the chips are down, but we can laugh with Him. Not devils, though, not real laughter. (Maybe more like evil cackling, although Bear cannot say for sure.)

"Jarvis, tell me the Third Luminous Mystery, again."

When You Pray the Rosary, You Never Pray Alone
(Although You Still Need a Family Member to Get the Plenary Indulgence)

Your prayers are assisted by the Virgin Mary, your guardian angel, and God knows who else, and are very pleasing to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, Who loves to behold His reflection in His mother.

You want to hear something funny?

The moment Bear typed that, his cursor began speeding backwards, erasing the article before his horrified eyes. Weird, huh? That's never happened in almost one-thousand, five-hundred articles. Hey, if you really believe in devils, sometimes you gotta wonder. (Devils especially delight tempting and tormenting poor Bears; maybe it's different for humans.)

To continue, we immerse ourselves in the mysteries as we say the prayers - almost every word right out of the Bible (take note, any separated brethren who have wandered into these charmed Woodlands) with a bit of ancient creed. Time and space dissolve and we are present at the most important moments in the history of our salvation. We see, even as through a glass darkly; we hear, even as though a peal of a distant bells.

Beyond that lies more, but it would be unfit for the Bear to intrude between the soul and the gifts she receives from her God.

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