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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Escritores Católicos o Católicos que Escriben

 En los círculos católicos en que me desenvuelvo, Tolkien es famoso.También lo es Chesterton, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Michael O'brien y otros que no me vienen a la mente. Un día se me ocurrió buscar si había algún escritor, vivo o muerto, que escribiera en español y que se pudiera comparar con estos famosos escritores ya citados.
Buscando en el internet, me crucé con estos nombres:


Juan Manuel de Prada
Jesus Sanchez Adalid
Pablo D'Ors

Pero más interesante aún me encontré con este post De Etiqueta . En el post, pero sobre todo en la vivaz discusión en los comentarios comentan en la necesidad de la etiqueta escritor católico. Hay quienes opinan que una etiqueta es innecesaria y hasta indeseable. Pero la idea que me dio que pensar es que los grandes escritores Católicos (vamos a dejar la etiqueta intacta por el momento) han surgido en países o culturas donde el Catolicismo es minoria, donde la lucha por mantener la fe, por ir contra corriente ha sido una lucha ardua. Inglaterra, por ejemplo. En España, donde todos son católicos ( o eran porque hay quien dice que España no es ya católica), la etiqueta no tiene sentido. Entonces alguien dijo que hay que hacer una distinción entre un católico que escribe y un escritor católico.

Claro que la(s) pregunta(s) de rigor es, ¿qué define a un escritor católico? ¿son sus temas? ¿su cosmovisión? ¿el hecho de que sus personajes recen el rosario? ¿la forma de ver la vida? ¿la forma de ver el arte?

Y aún una pregunta más seria, si el mundo en que vivimos hoy en día no es católico, ni siquiera cristiano, ¿veremos un resurgimiento de autores católicos? ¿tendrán aquellos autores modernos  que la posean el coraje de llevar su fe a corazón abierto?


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Leyendo en Español: La Colmena por Camilo José Cela


Quisiera yo saber escribir! Leer, se. Escribir se me hace más díficil. Cuando busco describir lo que leo, a veces me  hacen falta las palabras. Este año quiero aprender a escribir más y a leer más y mejor. Siempre he sido ávida lectora pero, ahora siento que quiero que lo que leo, cuente. No quiero leer por leer sino para aprender.
Es por eso que he decidido que este año voy  a leer más en español. Claro que esta meta tiene mucho que ver con cierta compra que hice en octubre. Cada octubre una de las universidades locales tiene un venta de libros usados. Un verdadero paraíso para el lector. Paraíso? tentación es más preciso. Bueno, el caso es que en la mesa dedicada a lenguas extranjeras, en vez de los consabidos libros de texto, oh dicha!, había cerca de dos docenas de clásicos de la literatura española. Mi corazón se sentía un poco desbocado. ¿Qué podía yo hacer? ¿pasar la oportunidad? ¿dejar que esos libros terminen en una caja de reciclaje? NO! Así que en ese día de octubre (o era septiembre?), llegué a casa como la orgullosa poseedora de casi dos docenas de libros.
Pero como la emoción de la adquisición pasa rápido, no fue hasta hace una semana que decidí que este año, mis lecturas van a alternar entre lecturas en inglés y lecturas en español. Con eso en mente, comencé a leer mi primera selección: La Colmena, escrita por Camilo José Cela.
No se bien que me hizo escogerlo como mi primera selección de este mi año de español. Quizás fue que mi apellido de soltera es el primer nombre del autor; o quizás porque era el único libro que me sonaba de los que adquirí. Fuera cual fuera el motivo, La Colmena fue mi elección.
Cuando comencé a leer no estaba segura que me iba a gustar. La Colmena es un libro diferente. Mi primera impresión fue que, en vez de leer una novela, estaba viendo una película o documental, donde el director había decidido mover la cámara de manera rápida y sucesiva por una calle llena de gente. No hay tiempo para detenerse en ninguna de las personas que pasan por la calle, sino que sólo tenemos una sucesión de impresiones, observaciones. La novela no tiene trama o personaje principal. No tiene climax o descenlace. Sólo la sensación de que seguimos a un observador que se mueve rápidamente por una ciudad llena de gente, recogiendo impresiones o quizas tomando una muestra. Y la muestra es desesperanzadora. La gente parece desilusionada, triste. No hay dinero pero si hambre. No hay alegría sino tristeza, desesperación.
A pesar de lo dismal de la novela, no puede uno sino darse cuenta que está escrita de manera magistral. La Colmena tiene lugar durante el trascurso de tres días. Tres días en la vida de Madrid. Esta novela está llena de personajes (cerca de 300 leí por ahí). Los personajes, al principio, parecen desconectados pero, poco a poco, nos damos cuenta que hay diferente relaciones entre ellos. Me llenó de admiración como Cela pudo mantener, no, hilar, estas complejas relaciones de una manera estelar.
El año es 1942. Inmediatamente después de la guerra civil española y en medio de la segunda guerra mundial. Definitivamente un tiempo en la historia donde la alegría no abunda. Los personajes se mueven a traves de las horas de una manera triste, lenta, a veces como cerrados a la emoción.
Gracias a Dios la novela termina con un rayo de esperanza:
"La mañana, esa mañana eternamente repetida, juega un poco, sin embargo, a cambiar la faz de la ciudad..."
Estoy segura que hay más profundidad en esta novela. De hecho, me fascinaría tenerla como selección para un club de lecturar. Definitivamente habría mucho que discutir. Mientras tanto como no soy crítica literaria, después de acabar la lectura me lancé al internet a buscar una buena guia de estudio o una buena crítica. Esto es lo que encontré:

Camilo José Cela biografía

Una buena guía de estudio 

 Una buena reseña en Goodreads

Algo más científico 








Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lessons for the New Year or What St. Paul is Teaching Me


It seems that naturally, this time of the year, my gaze turns inwards as I reflect over the last year and make plans for the next. The problem with me is that my gaze falls first on the things I didn't do:
  • the resolutions I didn't keep (I was going to be organized!)
  • the exercise plan(s) that were abandoned (The 30 days shred that never got to 30 days)
  • the health habits that never lasted more than a few weeks (kefir, chia seeds anyone?)
  • the books that weren't read ( I was going to read more Spanish this year, right?)
  • the relationships that weren't built (where are those dates with M?)
  • the intellectual goals that weren't achieved (Oh Chesterton! this year we will meet!)
  • the housekeeping plans that were simply forgotten (Motivated Moms? Flylady?)
Reading St Paul's letter to the Philippians the other night, it occurred to me that I am seeing it all wrong. St Paul tells the Philippians that even death is gain to him because it will be the ultimate way of being close to Jesus (paraphrasing here, in case you were wondering how come you don't recognize St. Paul's words). Death as a gain! I am so not there! But, if you can turn around death, the ultimate fear, around and see it as gain, then maybe everything depends on perspective.

Christians definitely look at the world differently.

The thing is that even goals not achieved, and resolutions not kept can be good things, if a lesson was learned, if I use it as a stepping stone. Furthermore, it is not the goals that are important or the resolutions,

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ...that you stand firm in one spirit,with one mind striving side by side for the Faith of the Gospel, and not be frightened in anything by your opponents... for it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ, you should not only believe in him, but suffer for his sake. (Phil. 1:27-28a, 29)

 I don't like to suffer, I don't like when life is hard. I consider a good year the one with more occasions for joy than for sorrow. But, is it always true? I tend to want to run from painful situations, to avoid pain at all costs, to fast-forward through difficult moments to get to the good ones. Again, it is a matter of perspective. Isn't the life of a Christian to live in Christ, as Christ? Isn't it true that the moments when I am closer to God are the difficult ones, the ones that hurt, the ones where every fiber of my being wants to scream: STOP, let me off!? Isn't in those difficult moments I run to the One that can help? I don't know if I can say that, whatever happens to me that can be labeled as suffering, is for the sake of Christ but, if I can see the hard moments as a stepping stone to something better, as tool for growth, then I have a powerful weapon against my greatest enemy: fear!

Fear can't have a hold of me if I stand firm on the believe that all situations: good or bad, sad or joyful, can lead me closer to God and the life he intends for me.

St. Paul also makes another point-maybe more relevant to new year's beginnings:

"I press on... forgetting  what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead"
As I read this, I thought of St. Paul's life. He had persecuted Christians. Who knows what harm he caused them! He could've lived his life with a paralyzing grief, full of remorse and regrets; but, he trusted in the redemption he had received, the forgiveness that was his, and pressed on, his eyes fixed on the goal and not on the mistakes.  Another lesson from St. Paul: dwelling on what we didn't accomplish or what we didn't do or in what we did wrong is not good. Of course, we take stock. How can we press on if we don't look at where we are coming from? But there are different ways of looking back: I can look back just as an exercise to help me figure out where am I going or, I can look back and dwell on the negative. The latter is worthless!

St.Paul continues,

"I press on toward the goal... let those of us who are mature be thus minded, and if anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true what we have attained." (Phil 3)
It is, then, a sign of maturity to let go of regrets, remorse, errors. And hold on to what we have attained. Again, a matter of perspective: in looking back, focus on what have been gained. There is always something we have attained, even if only experience.

And then St. Paul offers a perspective that I want to embrace for this coming year:

"Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about that"

This year I want to look at life this way, focusing on what is honorable, lovely, just, true. Not in a pollyanish way but, in a conscious way: choosing to see the lovely not the ugly, the true not the lie, the excellent not the mediocre, and especially that which deserves praise rather than what deserves criticism.

As if this wasn't enough, this reading of St. Paul's letter to the Philippians, gave me another guideline for this year: to learn to be content.

"I have learned, in whatever state I am to be content. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me."
 In summary, St. Paul is teaching me to:
  • focus on the manner I live my life
  • be not afraid!
  • look at the past just as a guideline, not dwelling on what I haven't accomplish
  • press on, strain forward
  • think of what is good, honorable...
  • praise don't criticize
  • learn to be content
St Paul, pray for me!
























Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent: Radically Reorienting Life. A beginning.

The priest started with a definition of conversion: A radical reorientation of our whole life... I didn't hear anything else for a while. Those words: radical reorientation of our whole life, made their imprint in my brain and send the wheels turning. Maybe that is what I need: a radical change, a turn around.
The image came to my mind, slowly taking form:  there I was at what seem the end of a road, a wrong road. What person that realizes she is walking along the wrong road doesn't turn around and start anew? Who would continue down the road that she knows is not getting her where she wants to go? Only an idiot!

The priest's voice crept into my thoughts again. He was talking about the reading from Isaiah:
A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Prepare the way of the lord, make the road wider, smooth the rough spots, remove the the obstacles. Advent calls us to repentance, to change,  to being again. The calendar year is drawing to a close but, the Church year has already begun. It starts with Advent's call to conversion, to radically reorient our lives. The Church in her wisdom knows that after the weeks of Ordinary Time we are ready for some change. The spiritual inroads of Lent and Easter have grown stale. Our old demons are back and our soul feels fatigued and disillusioned. We are struggling again. But the Church reminds us, reminds me:

Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD...


 I need a change. I want a change. And this is a good time to start. For me, this message of change and conversion issued during Advent, is often lost in the fray of Christmas shopping. I don't hear the voice of John the Baptist inviting me to repent. I don't hear the invitation to conversion. All I hear is the voices in my brain reminding me that the house needs to be decorated, that the cookies need to be baked and the presents bought. A thousand and one voices, getting louder and louder, and crowding out the voice I need to be hearing.

I am glad for the time of quiet at mass when the words of the priest worked themselves through the funk, and made me hear and think. It is time for me to clean house, to de-clutter my brain, to focus on what is important. It seems that Advent should be the time of new resolutions.

It seems that I am setting myself up for failure. How can I de-clutter my brain at a time like this. Haven't you heard that there is a Christmas show to put on? Radical reorientation... Radical means from the root. And anything with the word radical in it can't be easy.

No matter. Just in case, I'll start small.

Today, on this Second Sunday in Advent, and because it is never too late, I want to make a new resolution: for the next couple of weeks, it doesn't matter how busy my schedule, how long my to do list, I am going to carve out a pocket of time to be with the Lord. The renewal of relationships begins with time spent together in conversation.

One of my favorite prayers from the Morning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours is this portion of the Canticle of Zechariah taken from the Gospel of Luke:
“In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace"
This Christmas I want to experience the dawn from on high. And I don't want to miss it because my eyes are  looking somewhere else.





Sunday, September 4, 2011

Llámenme Ignorante

Llámenme ignorante, pero yo pensaba que los taínos estaban extintos. Nunca se me había ocurrido pensar en el hecho de que están vivos en muchas de nuestras tradiciones (al menos en el campo) y sobre todo en nuestra lengua.
OK, yo sé que hay ciertas palabras taínas que sobreviven en nuestra lengua y que usamos con frequencia: Quisqueya, hamaca, barbacoa, etc. Sé también que el casabe es de origen taíno pero leyendo este artículo, escrito por el Doctor Pedro J. Ferbel he aprendido de la sobrevivencia de la cultura taína.
Claro que, como bien dice el artículo, aún cuando hay una al parecer indiscutible influencia taína en la vida dominicana; el dominicano no se identifica con el taíno. Y como va a hacerlo si siempre se nos ha dicho que los taínos están extintos.
Sería interesante hacer un estudio, o leerlo se ya alguien lo ha hecho, de la identidad del dominicano. Yes que a mi me parece que el dominicano tiene un problema de identidad. Lo cual no me sorprende porque con la sopa biológica que somos cómo saber quién somos.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Habit #2: Maintain Key Friendships-from The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers by Dr. Meg Meeker.

Happy mothers know their value and happy mothers maintain key friendships. They know that loneliness is an enemy to be fought. They know they need other women and they don't apologize for it.

At a certain level we all know that friendships are important but, as Dr. Meeker says,

"The truth is, when something needs to be cut out in the crunch of daily demands, friends are the first to go. Sometimes friendship seems expendable, unnecessary. "
Some of us might think that our needs are being met by our family and husbands,

"this is extremely important, but they don't fully satisfy our relational needs because the others in the relationship are too dissimilar from us. Husbands can't be everything to us and certainly children can't be."
I am sure my dh is grateful that I have a group of women I meet regularly with! It is not that I keep him out of parts of my life. Far from it. It is that there are things proper to being a woman that he can't relate to. And I shouldn't expect him to. It goes without saying that my relationship to him is primary but he is not expected to be my all in all. I think he is relieved.

Loneliness can be a great enemy. It is in loneliness that our problems magnify: our thoughts get darker,our sorrows get deeper, our sadness consumes us, our joys go unshared and unseen. Loneliness is crushing. It is in loneliness when we start asking, "What is wrong with me?"

" A mother who feels lonely believes on some level that she is unlikable, even unlovable."
Dr Meek reminds us that "friends are a necessity, not a luxury." I truly believe this. We are not meant to be alone. I am not meant to be alone. I read once in book about social development for children that kids don't need tons of friends. Just one friend can carry a child through the developmental years. Just one friend can make a difference between a normal childhood and miserable one. I think the same is true of us.

*For more discussion on The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers see Elizabeth Foss' blog . She is the one that got me interested in reading the book and she is doing a great job at discussing it every Thursday.*

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It WAS Hard to see her go



I thought it wouldn't be hard this time. I did it last May. I did it all. All of it, the crying, the sadness, the emptiness. The things left behind spoke of her absence. Loud. It was hard then but,I knew she will be back at the end of July. Now I don't know when the house will be filled with her joy, her presence.

It was hard to see her go.

It doesn't matter how much I tell myself:
-you will text (btw, I retract everything I said about texting)
-you will Skype (oh the blessedness of technology!)
-she will visit for holidays (would her work schedule permit her?)
-all mothers go through this (well, I am not all mothers)
-your mother went through that (yeah, but I was 25, not 18)
-it is the American way (well, I am not American)

It doesn't matter, it was still hard to see her go.

Part of me felt as it was not going to happen. When she got back, she fell right into our routine. She filled her space and our lives like always. It felt as if she had not gone at all. Maybe I dreamt it? My whole Dominican self hoped, maybe it is a dream.

But it wasn't a dream... This morning it was time to go. My whole Dominican self cried (inside) not yet! it is too soon! she is too young! this is not supposed to happen until you get married! But it did. This morning. In her new car.

With her dad.


It doesn't matter how much I tell myself
- she is doing what she feels/discerned the Lord is calling her too.

Both these things are a great comfort but, it was still hard to see her go.

All our parenting career points to this moment. This is what we have prepared her for. Her quiver is full, or is it? We did our part, or did we? Nagging thoughts fill my mind: did we prepare her well?

Here again is a lesson in trust.Trust that we did our best, that we did it adequately, that we taught her the skills to supply what we did not teach; and most of all, that the Lord will supply what we might have lacked.

It was hard to see her go but, she was ready. She has been a caterpillar for a while and now she is ready to be a butterfly: beautiful, graceful, and free. She takes with her part of us, part of me.

Now, I look at my two boys left at home and I hug them a little tighter, look into their eyes a little more frequently, pay attention a little closer, savor the moments more earnestly. Some time, sooner that my mother's heart is ready for, it would be time to see them go. And it will be hard.