I happened to be reading Sophia Institute Press’s publication of Finding God’s Will for You while in Chicago. The painting on the cover of my edition of this book features Renoir’s portrait “Alfred Sisley,” a pensive man perhaps pondering God’s will for his life. I ran into the original of Monsieur Sisley’s portrait at the Art Institute of Chicago. Neither words nor photographs can convey the awe of looking at the Impressionist masters’ oil paintings in person.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed Prince Louis Arthur Charles into the world on April 23. This day had special meaning for Anglophiles everywhere as also being the feast day of St. George, patron saint of England, and the birthday of William Shakespeare.
My European Reading Challenge this year was going to include novels from my favorite continent to which I wanted to give some time. England was going to be Winston Graham’s Poldark series. Norway was to be a rereading of Sigrid Undset’s Ida Elisabeth or Kristin Lavransdatter.
Instead, 2018 has become the year of spiritual classics.
The tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical on the virtue of hope, Spe Salvi, or Saved in Hope, passed in November 2017. (Benedict is German, of Bavarian heritage.) I reread it for the first time in a while.
Gilion’s rules are simple, and the goal is five books from different countries:
The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it’s supposed to be a tour.
I didn’t complete five, whole European books–Gilion’s Five-Star “Deluxe Entourage” category. I didn’t even make it to four: “Honeymooner.” I finished three: “Business Traveler.”
I fell in love with William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s painting Sewing (1898) when I was about twelve years old. I thought this calm and pensive little girl was so beautiful, and I made up my own stories about her life and interests.
The sweetness of this child still makes me smile. Sometimes I think of her, and the innocence this painting represents, when I sew.
I was in grade school during the first Gulf War. We prayed the Rosary for peace and for the deployed family members of students.
I also remember that when war was imminent, a priest at my Catholic parish announced he was becoming a Navy chaplain. I don’t remember if he already had a past in the Navy; it seems likely he did. But in 1990 he was not a young man.