An ongoing discussion of incarnating
Catholic culture in our lives
Part 4, Easter 1998
Alleluia! He is risen!
What’s in a Name?
Over Easter, I was able to spend a week in Steubenville, catching up with friends and families and having good conversations about "the Conversation." Unfortunately, a week, I discovered in dismay, was not enough time to see everyone, and I want to apologize to those I wasn’t able to see, particularly the Brattens and Dougherties, who I missed almost completely! One interesting aspect of the discussions I had was the observations about the difficulty in putting a name to what it is we’re trying to do, what this group actually is (if there is a group, as some said). I am not sure if I’ll be able to express everyone’s opinions clearly, so forgive me if I’m muddling your ideas! But the general sense I got from speaking with people is that the right name for this group hasn’t yet been found. The humorous part was that nearly all the women agreed that there should be a name and wanted to create one, whereas many of the men didn’t see the need and didn’t want to come up a name. Both Chris Ryland and Will Hoyt were particularly articulate on this subject, so in deference to the ancient vocation of Adam, we’ll forgo putting a name on the group for now. As Will Hoyt said, "When the right name happens, everyone will know it." Other opinions welcome, of course. The difficulties of dealing with a group without a name became apparent when we were putting together the plans for helping out with the Strawberry Harvest at the Schmiedicke’s. Coming up with a name for a half-nebulous, half-concrete idea for the teenagers of a half-nebulous, half-concrete group or non-group of dissenting but agreeing individuals was a task the Hoyt family (who helped design the invitation) tackled wonderfully. The task was made even more challenging by Catherine Ryland’s observation as a teen, that the name "teenager" leaves something to be desired. So we settled on "Catholic youth" to designate those people between the ages of twelve and twenty - for right now, at least! And Dru Hoyt suggests (and I agree) that those who experience frustration in putting a name to this group could temporarily just use "Caelum Et Terra Fellowship" or "Those Caelum Et Terra people" or even "Puzzle Pieces" to describe what you are talking about, while we are awaiting the birth of the real name.
The Strawberry Harvestal
Well, plans for the "Harvestal" at the Schmiedickes this summer are underway - note that the date is a week later than what we had originally said in the last newsletter. The invitation was thoughtfully decorated by Sia Hoyt of Steubenville. Candy Schmiedicke is the contact, of course, and her son Nathan, a TAC student, is our music meister for the occasion, so if you plan to go and have musical talent, let him know. We are especially interested in finding musicians who can play Irish dance music. If you are near the Steubenville area and are interested in attending, contact Will and Dru Hoyt to see about carpooling. Andrew and I will be attending from Front Royal, Virginia, and while we have little space for "pooling," we’d be more than happy to "caravan" with anyone going. Oh, and we’ve decided to open up the "Harvestal" to all ages and stations, in case you want to attend but aren’t a teenager. But the activities will be directed primarily towards teens. So if you come, be prepared to help out with teenage activities! And if you’re not up to that energy level, I’m sure there will be room for people who’d like to help cook, clean up, play with the younger kids, and chat with the grownups. So if you can come, please do!
Also a note on activities: the activities (in addition to strawberry picking) planned are ones that the Schmiedickes usually do (such as going to Lake Michigan) or ones that the youth we surveyed indicated that they’d like to do. But we haven’t heard from everyone, so if there are other activities you’d like to have done that aren’t on the schedule, contact either Candy or myself and we’ll see about putting them on. We could do mini-classes or demonstrations of different crafts, agricultural skills, and so on. Or hold a special Mass (if any priests would like to attend), prepare for Total Consecration to Mary, learn Byzantine chant, or whatever people would like. I’d particularly like to hear what kind of spiritual activities the youth would like to have. We could organize a special procession through the fields on the either the Feast of Corpus Christi or the Sacred Heart if there’s interest.
The First Caelum Et Terra PatternShare
We’re also having what I call a "Pattern Share." With the idea of encouraging the expression of our Catholicism in art, we’d like to have the guests bring samples or patterns of arts or crafts that relate to the themes of Corpus Christi or the Sacred Heart. For example, you could bring a pattern for a quilt celebrating the Sacred Heart, or the actual quilt, if you have time to make one. You could bring a woodcarving or a painting, an icon, a plan for a garden dedicated to the Sacred Heart, or an illuminated poem that celebrates these feasts. Your design can be either realistic, or translated into abstract symbolism (like the Amish quilts), in any style. In particular, it would be wonderful to see symbolic abstract designs created that could be made into a border, for decorating home prayer cards for the feast, carving on furniture, or even for embroidering on the hem of a skirt to be worn on the feast. Consult books of Christian symbols or study Catholic artwork on the subject to get some ideas.
Holy Trinity Sunday at the Fahey’s.
Just to remind you that on the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, June 7, the Faheys are welcoming people to come to their homestead in Oxford, NY for a gathering. Andrew and I won’t be able to make it, but I encourage people to go who can. Write to Richard Fahey at the Christian Homesteading Movement, Oxford, NY 13830. Dru Hoyt would like to know if anyone from the Steubenville area is planning on attending.
Another "Troubadour" for Steubenville
Christopher Ryland added his voice to those agreeing with Larry Lewis’s suggestions and promptly volunteered to be the "Troubadour" for the Steubenville area. He’ll be receiving "Puzzle Pieces" from me and will photocopying them to be distributed (mailed or otherwise) to folks in the Steubenville area. So if you are in his area and want to get Puzzle Pieces, let Chris know. .
Prayers for China
Note of interest - anyone interested in obtaining a bookmark with a lovely Chinese statue of Our Lady Help of Christians to encourage prayer for the persecuted Church in China – please write to Aid to the Church in Need, P. O. Box 576, Deer Park, NY 11729. I have rarely seen such a joyful and triumphant image of our Lady and Her Son. The statue pictured is one removed by the communists from the dome of the Sheshan Basilica. Its whereabouts today are a mystery. It is the fervent prayer of the Chinese Church that the statue of Our Lady may someday be restored when Her Immaculate Heart triumphs in their land.
On with the Discussion!
From Dru Hoyt (before I saw them in Steubenville)
Thanks for starting up this newsletter, Puzzle Pieces. I hope to have time someday to contribute. In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed the letters/responses/suggestions Thanks for the time it must take to get it to work.
The idea of a teen get-together in Michigan this summer sounds wonderful and I know Sia would be interested. We met Matthew and Maria Schmiedicke when they visited Steubenville on their return from the March for Life. We had a good impression of the Schmiedicke clan from that visit. Maria spent the night here, Matthew hung out here, and Rachel stopped to pick them up before they hit the road. She had us laughing as we ate our breakfast. She’s got a great sense of humor.
How are you? Hope to see you soon. PS: Are the Brendes on your list? They’d like this.
RDS notes: No, still no word on the current address for the Brendes. Anyone know how to reach them? Please let me know.
From Tom Storck
I have been meaning to write to you sooner to commend you for your efforts to keep the Caelum Et Terra vision going. I do not have much to add to the conversation, except that I like the idea of an annual gathering and that (like many) I hope someday there will be a real community, or perhaps several. I liked much of what Larry Lewis wrote. I see no need to have, especially now, much structure or even a formal name. As to the annual gathering, I agree with Dan that the Feast of the Assumption would be a logical time to have it – however, I have a personal reason for not wanting it then, which is that we like to go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, for the Assumption. There is a festival there every year with Catholics from many languages and rites attending, processions, the liturgy in various rites, etc. It is about as colorful and festive a religious gathering as I have ever been to, and I would be loath to give that up.
Sincerely in Jesus and Mary,
RDS responds: Sounds great! Maybe some of us should meet this August in Carey, hey?
From Lloyd and Penny Connour
Thank you for sending us Puzzle Pieces. We are pleased to learn that you are continuing the Caelum Et Terra gatherings and conversations among friends.
Our main reason for writing is that, since our last letter, we have added some books to our reading list and some quotations from Thomas Merton, which we thought you would like to have. We have one request - that our Rule, etc. not be sent or displayed via any interactive data network.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Lloyd and Penny Connour
RDS responds: Will do, or won’t do, as the case may be. Anyone on the Web interested in the Wayfarers should contact them directly for more information on their rule. By the way, if anyone doesn’t want their names or addresses posted in the newsletter, let me know and I won’t give them out. I won’t publish addresses on-line in the Chesterton Page unless you let me know I can. If anyone doesn’t want their contributions to be posted on an electronic forum such as this one, please let me know.
It is occurring to me that now might be a good time to bring this up. Should we arrange any type of formal gathering to meet to discuss this -- even at the Schmiedickes or at the Fahey’s -- I would like to give you an idea of the frame of mind we should have. Without wanting to seem overly spiritual -- but nonetheless wanting to be practical, I would ask all of you to fast and pray before our meeting, whenever that will be. That is, offer up a fast day and a few rosaries or daily Masses for the intention of our meeting. Because I am almost certain that the first thing that will happen is that there will be some real tensions and disagreements among even those of us who are close friends. For as the wiser among us have remarked, this is a spiritual work as well as a temporal work, and the founding of any kind of fellowship or apostolate is frequently marked by sustained spiritual attack. Of course the enemy doesn’t want us coming together in solidarity -- it’s almost certain he will do something to hinder it. And the most common way he does it is through causing division.
In addition, there’s a certain human and natural element to division, too. As Mr. Lewis has pointed out, through letters we tend to fill in cracks with our imagination and we can imagine that we are actually much more in unity than we actually are. Of course, some of us have experienced this disappointment first hand and could tell us al some sobering stories. We will probably discover how different we all are ("Well, our family doesn’t do it THAT way!") and those of us who like to teach will be anxious to gather followers and those of us who dislike being taught will want to distance themselves from all of us, and naturally, very much strife could happen. Believe me, it may be very hard to bear with each other and love each other in a practical way. Hopefully it won’t be so hard. But it may be, so be forewarned.
The Beatitudes Community says that they warn everyone involved in a new foundation of their contemplative order to prepare themselves for the worst first year ever -- everything will go wrong, there will be all sorts of fights and disunity and outside stresses. Now of course, the only reason our Father in heaven allows these attacks is because they make us stronger. And again, I urge everyone who has not made a Total Consecration of themselves to Mary to consider doing so. Because, as De Montfort said, our Lady has a way of turning these demonic attacks into occasions of joy and gratitude to God. We have to approach this work in weakness, as mere children who are aware of their complete ineptitude, stupidity, obstinacy, and blindness, willing to trust in our Mom. This also takes away any fear, as Kolbe has observed. But all of this needs prayer, and sacrifice, and penance to see it through.
These are all highly personal matters, and I do feel a bit out of place giving a spiritual exhortation here. But I feel that’s all I need to say, and will rely on the domestic priests (the fathers) to consider these suggestions and convey them to their families as they see fit. Volunteers to pray for both the Schmiedicke and the Fahey gathering would be appreciated, particularly if you can’t attend.
Peace to you all in this Season of Joy in the Resurrection of our Savior!
"Puzzle Pieces,"later “the CET Conversation,” is an informal discussion among friends, Catholics interested in low-tech, agrarian culture and the apostolate of beauty. To add your comments to the discussion, email Christopher Zehnder.
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