Welcome to the Ink Desk

Enjoy the ponderings of the Star's contributors and add your own thoughts. As this section develops, we hope it may become a medium for an exchange of ideas among those who are working towards the cultural revival.

  • April 22nd, 2014“The Bards of Wales” by Janos Aranyby Brendan D. King

    Hungarian poet Janos Arany (1817-1882) has been referred to as the Shakespeare of Ballads. His most famous poem,A Walesi Bárdok'  ("THe Bards of Wales," was written in response to the visit of the Emperor Franz Joseph to Hungary in 1857. Arany, like many other European intellectuals, was enraged by the defeat of the 1848 Revolution. Therefore, instead of writing a poem to welcome the Emperor, Arany retold the legend that King Edward I of England, the "Longshanks" of Mel Gibson's" Braveheart," had 500 Welsh bards burned alive for refusing to sing his praises at a banquet.
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  • April 22nd, 2014“The Dark Way” by Joseph Mary Plunkettby Brendan D. King

    Yesterday marked the 98th anniversary of the abortive Easter Rising in Dublin. Until the outbreak of The Troubles in 1969, every EasterMonday was commemorated with parades by the Irish State. It is, after all, Ireland's Independence Day.

    In honor of the occasion, I have decided to post a poem by Joseph Mary Plunkett, one of the Rising's leaders. The poem was addressed to his fiancee, Grace Gifford. Joseph and Grace were married in the Catholic chapel of Dublin's Kilmainham Jail. Just a few hours later, Joseph Plunkett was taken into the courtyard and executed by firing squad. His poem "The Dark Way" may be described as his last message to the woman he loved.

    http://poetry.elcore.net/CatholicPoets/Plunkett/Plunkett23.html

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  • April 22nd, 2014Good News from Spainby Joseph Pearce

    I am always extremely gratified and somewhat humbled to learn that my books have played a part (always under grace) in people's conversion to the Catholic Faith. Since it is always edifying "good news" to learn of conversions or, in this case, a return to the Faith, I thought I'd share an e-mail that I received this morning. I've preserved the correspondent's right to privacy by omitting his name.
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  • April 22nd, 2014The Culture of Death and the Logic of Consumerismby Kevin O'Brien

    Matthew Tan has written an essay that is filled with vocabulary and allusions that only an economist from academia could appreciate, but he ends up saying some compelling things that I will try to translate into non-academic English.

    He points out that abortion is more than an individual decision; the abortion industry is a social construct that communicates a conception of man that has been a long time coming.  This vision of man is the flip side of Fromm's homo consumens.  Not only is modern man thought to find value by purchasing commodities (consuming man) - modern man himself is a commodity.  We are valued because of our visibility, which is what gives us marketability.  Hence, invisible humans, such as unborn babies, have no value whatsoever.  And since the value of life is found in the marketplace, we are compelled to insure against anything that might damage the accidentals - or even the cosmetics - that now determine what man is and make man marketable.  Tan explains ...

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  • April 22nd, 2014Remembering a Murdered Jesuitby Joseph Pearce

    I knew nothing about Fr. Frans van der Lugt before I read his obituary and I know nothing more about him than the information contained in it. It seems, however, a duty to pay tribute to a Catholic priest who risked his life for his flock in Syria, who risked it and ultimately lost it. Read on:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/religion-obituaries/10775431/Father-Frans-van-der-Lugt-obituary.html

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  • April 22nd, 2014Dante: The Self-Help Guruby Joseph Pearce

    Here's an excellent article by Rod Dreher about the ways in which Dante's masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, can help us examine our own consciences and embrace the purgatory of penitence on our paths to recovery from sinfulness.
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  • April 22nd, 2014The Wounds of the Risen Christby Kevin O'Brien

    It was the best Easter homiliy I had ever heard.
    "Good Friday was the worst thing that ever happened in all history," the homilist said.  "And Easter Sunday was the best thing."

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  • April 19th, 2014Easter in the Christian Eastby Brendan D. King

    In the Christian East, there is a very long tradition of congregational singing, as I have noticed in my many visits to both Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic parishes. At no time of the Church year have I felt the floor shake as thunderously as does during the Paschal Season.
    The reason for this is simple: it the Easter Chant "The Angel Cried," which may be compared to the Latin  Hymn, "Regina Caeli, Jubila."
    Two beautiful renditions may be heard below.

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  • April 18th, 2014Good Friday in the Christian Eastby Brendan D. King

    When their meanings are compared, the traditional prayers and chants for Good Friday are very similar in both Eastern and Western Christendom. Among the most sublimely beautiful prayers in either tradition is the Old Church Slavonic chant "The Noble Joseph," which centers around Christ's burial by Joseph of Arimathea. The rendition which appears on the CD "Sacred Treasures: Choral Masterworks from Russia" may be listened to below:

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  • April 18th, 2014An Irish Gaelic Lament for the Passion of Christby Brendan D. King

    In many countries in Catholic Europe, there are traditional folk songs which retell the events of Our Lord's birth, ministry, Passion, and death. From Ireland and Scotland to Hungary, lullabies are sung to the Christ Child in persona Maria. Similar songs are also sung about Our Lord's Passion.

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  • April 18th, 2014The Quotable Boris Pasternakby Brendan D. King

    Outside of Russia, Boris Pasternak is best known as the author of "DoctorZhivago." In Russia, he is better known as a poet, literary translator, and pioneer of the Soviet Dissident movement.

    With two exceptions, the following quotations are from "Meetings with Pasternak," by Alexander Gladkov. Gladkov, a Soviet playwright and GULAG survivor, befriended Pasternak when they wrre both evacuated from Moscow during World War II. Their friendship continued, with interruptions, until Pasternak's death in 1960.

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  • April 18th, 2014Holy Thursdayby Dena Hunt

    There is no pain, no suffering—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—that was not experienced by our Lord during this time we call Holy Week, even the ultimate pain of abandonment by God. Beginning on Holy Thursday until the arrival of Easter vigil, we witness the spectacle of a story we can never remember having learned. It is knowledge we were born with, acid-etched in the human soul from its origin. All the tragedies and heartbreaks we will ever bear, our physical pain, our despair, have their reference point there, in the Way of the Cross. No wonder we flee from it.

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  • April 18th, 2014Easter with Flannery O’Connorby Joseph Pearce

    Here's a brief but excellent article by George Weigel on the faith of Flannery O'Connor:

    http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/04/easter-with-flannery-oconnor?utm_source=First+Things+Subscribers&utm_campaign=863917b6d4-4_17_144_17_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28bf775c26-863917b6d4-172561709

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  • April 18th, 2014The Damage Done by Almost Sinningby Kevin O'Brien

    As we reflect during the Triduum of the effects of sin - sin which battered and bruised Our Lord, betrayed Him, tormented Him, abandoned Him, killed Him, pierced Him - as we reflect upon that, something occurs to me.

    While I have written a lot on the nature and the effects of sin, there's one part of it that I have said little about and that we hardly ever focus on as Christians. 

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  • April 17th, 2014Francis Thompson Comes in Many Guisesby Joseph Pearce

    Visitors to the Ink Desk will know that I've been working with Emblem Media on several projects related to Francis Thompson's masterpiece, "The Hound of Heaven". I travelled with the film crew to England in January to film a half-hour documentary on Thompson's life, serving as historical consultant and being interviewed on camera. 

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  • April 16th, 2014Joyful Sufferingby Joseph Pearce

    Many years ago I had been struck by some words spoken by a fictional priest in a Maurice Baring novel that the acceptance of suffering was the secret of life. This one phrase seemed to encapsulate so much. Since we are all doomed to suffer it is not suffering but its acceptance that makes the difference.

    Later, during my time with Fr Ho Lung and Missionaries of the Poor in Jamaica, I came to see that sanctity required more than merely the acceptance of suffering. Holiness meant moving beyond the acceptance of suffering to its joyful embrace. This deeper understanding was encapsulated in the motto of the Missionaries of the Poor: "Joyful Suffering with Christ on the Cross". The key word in this phrase, the word that literally unlocks the deepest meaning of the motto, is not the magisterial "Christ" or the crucial "Cross", nor is it "joyful" or "suffering". The key word is the humble preposition "with". Holiness is not contemplation of the joyful suffering of Christ on the Cross, it is the act of joyful suffering with Christ on the Cross.   

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  • April 16th, 2014Father Milward and Father Jakiby Joseph Pearce

    I was gratified to receive a note from the venerable Father Peter Milward, best known to the world for his pioneering Shakespeare studies, his correspondence with C. S. Lewis, and his musings on the poetry of Hopkins. Father Milward's note was a response to the preview of the forthcoming issue of the St. Austin Review that I posted on Monday. I announced that the issue's theme will be "Science and Orthodoxy: The Legacy of Fr. Stanley L Jaki", prompting Father Milward to reminisce about his own meeting with Father Jaki and their shared passion for the Catholic Shakespeare.

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  • April 14th, 2014Confessions of an English Immigrantby Joseph Pearce

    My latest article for the Imaginative Conservative describes my view as an English immigrant of my adoptive home in the United States.

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  • April 14th, 2014Preview of the May/June Issue of the St. Austin Reviewby Joseph Pearce

    The next issue of the St. Austin Review is winging its way to the printers. The theme of this edition is “Science and Orthodoxy: The Legacy of Fr. Stanley L. Jaki”. Considering the science-related theme, I hope you will consider forwarding this to any of your scientist colleagues who might be interested.

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  • April 14th, 2014Dante and the Papacyby Daniel J. Heisey

    If a Catholic layman criticizes a Pope, other critics of the Church say he is brave and open-minded; if a Pope were to criticize a layman, those critics would call the Pope repressive and judgmental.  Along these lines, less important is Dante Alighieri using his Divine Comedy to condemn Pope Boniface VIII or other Bishops of Rome to the depths of the Inferno, than how a modern Pope has appreciated and promoted Dante.

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