Monday, June 16, 2008

Lakefront Congestion

On Friday, this blog turned two years old. I'm proud of the anniversary. In blog years, that's pretty old.

It's ironic that the milestone occurred at the start of one of my longest lags (more than three days) in posting. This past weekend, I was on retreat at Lake George in Upstate New York's Adirondack Mountains. It was rural but they still had limited Internet access. What kept me off-line was a nasty head cold that I developed on Saturday and has persisted to the present moment. (I come to you now courtesy of Tylenol Cold.)

Despite the nasal congestion, I greatly enjoyed the retreat at the Paulist Fathers' scenic and peaceful lakefront property called "St. Mary's on the Lake," located near the southern end of Lake George.

The theme of the retreat, directed by Paulist Father Ken McGuire, was "Spiritual Discovery Through Movies."

We watched four movies during the retreat and then discussed the faith and spirituality themes in each. And, these weren't safe Christian movies, either. The films (in the order presented) were "Brokeback Mountain," "Whale Rider," "Into the Wild" and "Inherit the Wind" (the 1960 black-and-white version with Spencer Tracy).

I had never before seen "Whale Rider" or "Into the Wild" and enjoyed both. "Whale Rider" featured the most messianic character of all four films. While watching "Into the Wild," I couldn't help but thinking of Thomas Merton. If there are movies in heaven, he loved this one with its themes of solitude and man in nature.

Sunday morning, we went to Mass at the chapel on the property. The Gospel was from Matthew Chapters 9 and 10:

At the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.

Then he said to his disciples,“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon from Cana, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

The photo above was taken by a visitor to St. Mary's on the Lake in 2006.


HowiTown said...

HBB Paulie! I love you,

(Happy Blog Birthday . . .)

Gashwin said...

Howdy ... and I'm glad you thought that photo I took at Lake George while I was in the Paulist Novitiate, worthwhile to use here. :)

I have to say that I was a bit startled to see "Brokeback Mountain" on the list of movies used at a retreat. Sure, one isn't necessarily supposed to confine oneself just to "safe Christian" movies -- but it would be interesting to know what was said about that movie.

[If you'd prefer emailing me, it's]

God bless the CSPs -- they tackle a lot of stuff other folks find icky. I wish them the best, though I discerned that my call was not to that community.

Paul said...

Hi, Gashwin. Thanks for the photo. It fit perfectly for the post.

Regarding "Brokeback Mountain," the argument was made that it illustrated redemption following suffering. Specifically, the argument was made, the character of Ennis was "redeemed," or "came to be whole," only after the suffering and death (perhaps violent death) of of the character Jack Twist. In the movie, if you follow it closely, you will also see some crosses. And, of course, Ennis and Jack started out as shepherds watching over a flock.

I'm not sure I quite bought into all of this. But, it made for an interesting discussion.

The Paulists are a good order. I'd say they are at their best when they are going into territory where other religious don't treat. That was Isaac Hecker's vision for them, in fact, to engage American culture.

I'll be praying for your on-going discernment process, G!