Sunday, June 16, 2019

Trinity Sunday

Today is Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Western church, and the Sunday of Pentecost in the Eastern church. The day celebrates the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, the three Persons of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Here is the prayer of St. Élisabeth Catez (1880-1906), Elizabeth of the Trinity, O.C.D. (from this site):

"O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to become utterly forgetful of myself so that I may establish myself in you, as changeless and calm as though my soul were already in eternity. Let nothing disturb my peace nor draw me forth from you, O my unchanging God, but at every moment may I penetrate more deeply into the depths of your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it your heaven, your cherished dwelling-place and the place of your repose. Let me never leave you there alone, but keep me there, wholly attentive, wholly alert in my faith, wholly adoring and fully given up to your creative action.

"O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, I long to be the bride of your heart. I long to cover you with glory, to love you even unto death! Yet I sense my powerlessness and beg you to clothe me with yourself. Identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm me, substitute yourself for me, so that my life may become a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, as Redeemer and as Saviour.

"O Eternal Word, utterance of my God, I want to spend my life listening to you, to become totally teachable so that I might learn all from you. Through all darkness, all emptiness, all powerlessness, I want to keep my eyes fixed on you and to remain under your great light. O my Beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may never be able to leave your radiance.

"O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, overshadow me so that the Word may be, as it were incarnate again in my soul. May I be for him a new humanity in which he can renew all his mystery.
And you, O Father, bend down towards your poor little creature. Cover her with your shadow, see in her only your beloved son in who you are well pleased

"O my `Three', my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to you as your prey. Immerse yourself in me so that I may be immersed in you until I go to contemplate in your light the abyss of your splendour!"

Happy 35th Anniversary to us!!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Happy 200th Birthday, Vandalia, IL

My hometown, Vandalia, IL, is celebrating its 200th anniversary this weekend! So many amazing people have been working to make it a great celebration!

When the first Illinois constitution was drafted at Kaskaskia, the delegates included a provision for a twenty-year location of a new seat of government. In March 1819 the First Illinois General Assembly authorized five commissioners to locate a site for the new town on or near the intersection of the longitudinal third principal meridian and the Kaskaskia River. The commissioners selected a place called Reeve’s Bluff, a corruption of the name of settler Charles Reavis. The June 16, 1819, "Illinois Intelligencer" newspaper at Kaskaskia announced the selection of the town site had been made, and the town would be called Vandalia.

Surveyor William Greenup had suggested the name, connoting the dales and hills of the site and also the vanguard of progress that would take place at a state capital. The name already existed: it was a poetic name for the Andalusia region of Spain (mentioned in "Don Quixote") and also the name for a proposed fourteenth British colony, which would’ve included the present West Virginia.

The state auction of Vandalia lots took place on September 6, 1819, and the town was well established by the time the Second General Assembly convened in December 1820.

Ten general assemblies and several sessions of the supreme and federal courts met at Vandalia, using three different buildings, the last of which is our local pride and joy. The National Road eventually reached Vandalia and terminated there. Springfield was designated the permanent seat of government on July 4, 1839. Some of my ancestors settled in the vicinity when Vandalia was capital, a fact that was one inspiration for my 1992 book on Vandalia's era as seat of government.

A wonderful new book about the town's history has been written, compiled, and produced for the bicentennial!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Landscape: Tōshi Yoshida

Tōshi Yoshida (1911-1995), "Sacred Grove 1941”

From the Facebook group "Modern Art 20th Century." Copied under fair use principles.

Landscape: Bracquemond

Marie Bracquemond (1840-1916), "Garden Path." Date unknown.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Landscape: Knab

Villa at sunset (1890) by Ferdinand Knab

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Lamarck and de Candolle

Here is another interesting science book in my collection: Synopsis plantarum in flora Gallica descriptarum by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) and Augustin Pyramus de Candolle (1778-1841). The authors are very important in science history.

In my reading, I kept encountering the phrase "Lamarckian evolution," as a rejected idea but which did hypothesize species variation.

Looking it up, I discovered that Lamarck believed that creatures adapt to surroundings and pass on changes to offspring. His famous example is a giraffe, which stretches his neck to reach leaves. (Of course, neither he nor Darwin knew of genes and genetics.) Darwin, on the other hand, said that organisms that better adapt to their environments have a better chance at reproducing; thus, the giraffes with longer necks survive and pass on that trait to offspring. To put it another way: for Lamarck, organisms acquire a trait or habit and pass it along, but for Darwin, organisms with certain traits mad them more suitable for survival--and survival meant that those traits were passed to offspring. The views of both men were unpopular for a time, but Darwin was able to provide exhaustive evidence for his theory.

As for de Candolle: he offered the idea of "nature's war"--the struggle for existence--which was so influential for Darwin's theory of natural selection. He also experimented with the way plant's leaf movements suggest an "internal biological clock." Darwin, too, studied this quality of plants and published two botany books on the subject.