The Triduum, Easter, and Divine Mercy Sunday

Well, my dear readers, we have come to the most important time of the year: the time when God’s mercy is celebrated far and wide.  Tomorrow, we recall the painful suffering Our Lord endured for our salvation.  Holy Saturday recalls His descent into hell so that the fruits of His Passion might be poured upon all the dead including Adam and Eve.  How can one neglect the eagerness with which Our Lord must have rushed to Adam’s side to proclaim to him that all was forgiven?  The second reading from the Holy Saturday Office of Readings makes for an edifying read.  In my own case, I am not sure whether anything more profound has been said of God’s mercy outside of the Scriptures.  Indeed, the Magnificence and Magnanimity of God toward us who are burdened by our sins, failings, and the thought that heavy punishment awaits us makes the heart rejoice!

Harrowing of Hell

The one Our Lord is lifting up is Adam and Eve is on his left.

One of the terrible things about this life is that we are constantly tempted to doubt God’s goodness.  There is evil in the world; we suffer evil done to ourselves; and we suffer through evil done by ourselves.  We barely make the slightest progress to amend our wicked ways and often find ourselves becoming worse.  We shout with St. Paul: “O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)  We see our sins reflected in the wounds of Christ.  These wounds reflect Our Savior’s undying love for us, but how often does our wickedness crush our souls such that we are tempted to say with St. Peter: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8).

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But, God does not want to leave us.  When Peter first said that to Christ, Christ responded: “Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men.”  Then, after Peter could not keep his eyes open to comfort our Lord in His agony in the garden, after Peter denied Him three times, and after Peter avoided Him during His three hours of agony on the cross, Jesus Christ says to St. Peter and the rest of the disciples:

36 …”Peace be to you; it is I, fear not.”

37  But they being troubled and frightened, supposed that they saw a spirit.

38  And He said to them: “Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

39  “See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have.” (Luke 24)

St. Thomas the Apostle and Our Lord

This is as if to Our Lord is saying: “Be at peace and don’t fear to come to me.  I have really taken your nature upon myself and endured the agony of the cross to bind you to me forever.  Look upon my wounds!  Touch these wounds which I boast of because they redeemed you.  I did not come to condemn you.  I am not angry with you.  Do not be slow to believe that God is Love.  On that painful cross, mercy triumphed over justice so that I can show mercy to whoever comes to me.”

But, God’s mercy did not stop with forgiving us and saving us from eternal death.  He raised humanity above the angels and promised us a glorified body like the one in which He rose on Easter Sunday.  And by the indwelling of His grace, we can come to imitate His divine perfections and His most divine life.  All the above is accomplished through God’s grace.  The sole thing God asks from us is a good will, which He Himself grants and strengthens, to correspond with these graces.

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And yet, we are sometimes more willing to suffer for our sins than receive mercy for them.  When life turns difficult, we get the impression that God is punishing us for our sins–how do we know that we suffered X, Y, and Z because of our sins?  Such thoughts only impress upon us the idea that God is a wrathful judge!  Jesus Christ did not undergo the crucifixion so that He can be wrathful, but so that he can show mercy in super-abundance.

Hence, I should like to remind my Catholic readers that, besides our Easter duty to confess if we have committed a mortal sin in the past year and to receive Holy Communion at least once during Lent, we ought to gain a plenary indulgence on Divine Mercy Sunday (April 27).  This is how Our Lord’s revelation to St. Faustina describes it:

Ask of my faithful servant [Father Sopocko] that, on this day, he will tell the world of My great mercy; that whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete remission of sins and punishment.

Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to my mercy.

Oh, how much I am hurt by a soul’s distrust!  Such  a soul professes that I am Holy and Just, but does not believe that I am Mercy and does not trust in My Goodness.  Even the devils glorify my Justice but do not believe in My Goodness.  My heart rejoices in this title of Mercy.  (Divine Mercy in My Soul, paragraph 300)

Divine Mercy Vilnius

These are the instructions for the indulgence:

The plenary indulgence is granted (under the usual conditions of a sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and a prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on Divine Mercy Sunday, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, recite the Our Father and the Creed, and also adding a devout prayer (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!).

So, go to confession again on Saturday, April 26th, and follow the rest of the instructions.  What do you have to lose?  Don’t say to yourself: “It sounds like cheating.  I deserve to be punished for my sins.”  Such hardness of heart!  Do you think that God prefers seeing you suffer for your sins over seeing you as clean as new fallen snow?  That He rejoices in your pain?  Of course not!  Rather, He would much rather bring you straight into heaven without judgment!  So, focus on God’s Mercy this Easter and celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy in all its fullness.

Hidden Gems of Anime: Soukou no Strain

I promised an article on Soukou no Strain, aka Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry (What a horrible English title!), back in November.  This splendid show of just thirteen episodes came out back in 2006; yet, it wraps the viewer so well in the struggles of its characters that I’m surprised people no longer mention it.  I suppose the singularity of the plot excludes comment?  I cannot think of another sci-fi anime including so much quantum science and portraying a one man quest to annihilate humanity which can only be stopped by his sister!

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Anyway, the show begins with Ralph Werec departing for the space force in order to train for being a mecha pilot.  His younger sister, Sara Werec, is distraught because the dynamics of sub-light speed travel would prevent them from seeing each other again: she would age and die before Ralph.  (To use an example of how time passes differently for people traveling at or near light speed, my high school professor claimed that if people on earth watched a person traveling at light speed lifting a cup of coffee through a live video feed, you might see the cup move from the table to his lips in fifty years!)  And so, Sara herself later joins the space force in order to see her brother again.  Before she graduates from its Strain pilot academy (they call giant robots Strains), *Spoiler alert* Ralph returns to earth as a traitor and slaughters all Sara’s friends with his Gloire-type Strain.  Sara’s piece of equipment for connecting to her Strain, called a Mimic, is destroyed during the battle.  Her desperation to learn why Ralph betrayed the Union leads to her entering Gambee pilot training under an assumed name.  A Gambee is a less powerful kind of mech which does not require a Mimic to pilot.

Sara and Emily

Might I add that this anime portrays the relationship between big brothers and little sisters more realistically than my dear readers are likely to find in current anime?  Ralph and Sara are closely connected by familial affection rather than romantic feelings.  (If not for shows like Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, I would lack a reason to remark on that.)  This show knows how to play the audience’s heartstrings.  I was watching Soukou no Strain with my younger sister, and this show has a very touching flashback to Lottie and Sara’s time with their respective older brothers.  Once the flashback was over, my sister could not hold back but tearfully rose from the couch to gave me a hug.  (I almost teared up myself–almost.)

The Strain Pilots

Even without this sense of identification, one’s heart would need to be made of stone not to be moved by the characters’ plight.  Sara in particular suffers rejection from her fellow Gambee pilots.  With the betrayal of her brother–her only family, she lost the ability to relate to others.  This betrayal makes her regard herself as trash.  The Gambee pilots interpret her self-hatred as snobbery and harass her accordingly.  Besides confronting Ralph, part of the heroine’s journey involves learning that she is valuable–that her fellows do not treat her as she deserves.

Lavinia certainly thinks that Sara is worthwhile, spawning one of the funniest episodes in the series, "Lavinia's Lovely Plot."

Lavinia certainly thinks that Sara is worthwhile, spawning one of the funniest episodes in the series, “Lavinia’s Lovely Plot.”

Sara’s discovery of Emily, a doll containing a Mimic without a partner, is her first step in discovering her value.  Her daily routine comes to include speaking to this doll, which is located in the workshop of the genius Melchi and his assistant Carmichael.  Discovering that she is somehow compatible with this Mimic, she is able to take off in an experimental Strain when her brother attacks the training fleet to which Sara is attached.  Thereafter, she becomes incorporated into the unit of Strain pilots and her wounds begin to heal.

Lottie and Sara as friends.

Might I add that I love Lottie’s nickname for Sara: “Konjou Onna” or “Gutsy Girl.”

And so, this is a great mecha show with complex, likable characters, strong pathos, and exciting interstellar battles.  You’ll regret it if you pass up on this gem–one of the strongest single season shows ever made!

Elfen Lied and the Causes of Sin

Reading the manga of Gokukoku no Brynhildr inclined me finally to read the manga of Elfen Lied, which is by the same author, Lynn Okamoto.  I will say that the manga Elfen Lied is more violent and sexually graphic than the anime, but it explores its themes more thoroughly.  (Yes, I argue that Elfen Lied is a very intelligent work, though the case can easily be made that the author should have restrained himself in regard to its repulsive images.)  In this article, I shall remark a little on the nature of evil, which appears to be the main subject of Elfen Lied.  The manga focuses on the fact that man is tainted–or, to speak more precisely, in a state of total depravity–by original sin, which we see in the characters’ self-absorption, focus on baser things, and the dehumanization of other people.  Most of the characters are victims of some kind–whether one speaks of Mayu flying from her perverse step-father or Lucy, whom people see as an instrument for breeding Diclonii or–in her earlier years–a fun object to torment.

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The viciousness displayed by the Diclonii are impelled by their forced isolation or their desire to revenge themselves on the human race.  In the latter case, it is important to remember that the general run of people are mirrors: we reflect goodness or ill-will as it comes at us.  Only the truly vicious person does evil things to people who show him goodness.  Only the saint or man dedicated to repentance returns good for evil.  People who have never known love can hardly help reflecting the hatred and malice directed at them.

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Take the famous flashback to Lucy’s past.  She is beaten, tormented, and ostracized by her fellow classmates.  She feels loved only by a puppy.  Once she finally gains a human friend, she discovered that this girl had only befriended her in order to betray her.  With the dog–her sole friend–butchered, she kills her malicious classmates and flees into the woods, producing total isolation.

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As spiritual writers remark, the devil likes to tempt people when alone, whether they are Our Lord Himself, St. Anthony the Great, or my dear readers.  The devil wishes to lead us into sin, especially that most terrible capital sin of invidia or ill-will, often translated as envy.  I am afraid that Lucy is a particularly easy soul to tempt from ill-will to the blackest misanthropy.  Though, the devil commonly appears in Elfen Lied and–I would argue–is the main villain of the show, scientists can’t perceive him.  The scientists come up with the absurd reasoning–which smacks of superstition–that murder is written into the Diclonii’s genes.  If they had not made themselves out to be so righteous, they would have perceived the same affliction in their own natures–original sin!  If murder were really written into the Diclonii’s genes and not the result of scientists exacerbating fallen human nature’s inclination to evil through ill-treatment, then we could not have a Diclonius as sweet as Nana–my favorite character, by the way.

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Indeed, the devil is more apparent than God in the manga because people have forgotten God.  Perhaps this, more than isolation and envy, is the main cause of the crimes committed in Elfen Lied.  Forgetfulness of God means disbelief in the idea that people are created in God’s image and likeness.  As many people aptly argue, ethics become emotivism without God.  The villains of this series are particularly warped and hardhearted.

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But, good exists in the world too, as shown by the love of Nana for her papa and Kouta and Yuka’s willingness to take in homeless people.  (I shall argue in another article that goodness starts to shine more brilliantly as the manga shows evils multiplying.)  In a sense, we’re all wandering and homeless without God.  Though imperfect and marked by frailty, people are often the vehicles for bringing God into other people’s lives.  The recognition Kouta gives to Lucy and Mayu affirms the value of these two persons.  Due to their perception of themselves as lovable and valuable beings, they work to make other people feel valued.  Love, most importantly, the love of God, turns people from selfishness and malice.  Yet, one wonders whether love can save Lucy, who is simultaneously the most guilty and most victimized of the characters?

Kill La Kill: A Love Story

medievalotaku:

A flawless masterpiece of critical interpretation! The article is the most thorough piece on Kill la Kill’s themes I have yet read. Very long, but worth reading!

Originally posted on Chromatic Aberration Everywhere:

In the weeks following the  Kill La Kill  ( KLK ) finale, I’ve seen a lot of people weighing in on the show. Given it’s popularityover-the-top theatrics , and symbol-heavy plus  textually-dense  narrative, this isn’t anything too surprising. I really liked the show, and it’s inspired a lot of really cool discussion around the anisphere . People generally have a wide range of opinions on any given show, and it’s been fun seeing all the different ways people have experienced KLK .

That said, I’ve heard a lot of refrains that have been bothering me a little bit, which go like:

  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (TTGL) was just done better…”
  • “I couldn’t really relate to the characters, so I just never got into the story…”
  • “The show was thematically incoherent, so I’m not sure what was the point…”
  • “It was really entertaining, but I didn’t feel emotionally invested…”

And so…

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Spring Season 2014: Not so Bad After All

Seven out of the nine shows which caught my attention have been viewed so far.  I also added one more: Blade and Soul, due to D. M. Dutcher’s first impressions of the season.  Some of the backgrounds are remarkably beautiful, and the action’s not bad.  On the other hand, the character designs and predominately female cast make this show feel like Queen’s Blade–not that I watched more than two minutes of the show!  (Yes, I ought not even have entertained any hope for Queen’s Blade being a good anime.  But, Grenadier and Freezing are examples of enjoyable fanservicey shows which have more to them than the heroine’s bosom.  So, I felt Queen’s Blade had a chance.)  All the characters in episode one appear disappointingly flat; n.b. I refer to their character, not physique.  But, I am ready to give this show one more shot.  I have yet to find episode one of Mekakucity Actors, and reading about Abarebou Rikishi!! made me more eager to watch Ashita no Joe than the sumo version of a similar story.

Black Bullet

Anyway, the first show to receive my approval was Black Bullet.  The cast of characters are pretty cool–even the frenetic Enju–and the tale seems to be a cross of Psycho-Pass and Mushi-Uta.  (If you haven’t seen Mushi-Uta, watch it when you’re in the mode for something weird and soul crushing.)  Despite the cheerful characters, there’s plenty of darkness surrounding this world, and I expect the story to become darker as the series progresses.

hitsugi_no_chaika

Hitsugi no Chaika seems to be a lighthearted fantasy.  I like the fact that unicorns are treated as baneful rather than cute.  Some have noticed that the hero’s sister is unusually possessive of her brother, perhaps even incestuous.  But, this trait is more an affectation than purposive, as one would find in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei.  For example, she attacks her brother for dining with Chaika and says later, after Toru speaks badly of himself: “Even if you are my honored brother, I will not allow you to look down on the brother I admire so much.”  It’s comedic, not serious!!!  Then, Chaika herself is a fun character with her stilted speech and super-powered sniper rifle/magical rod.  With it’s splendid mixture of comedy, quirky characters, and action, I’m expecting good things from this show.

Multiplication troubles

TWWK made brief comments on Gokukoku no Brynhildr on Beneath the Tangles.  He claimed that the beginning of the episode indicated that the series would be dark and brooding.  It can be, but the characters are too focused on survival and making the best of their fugitive lives for these moods to last long.  From having read the manga, I can say that Lynn Okamoto, the author of Elfen Lied, has improved on his craftsmanship, as the characters are more vivacious and the killing is less–even if this series’ secret government agency is more odious and cruel.  I could barely put the manga down and expect good things from the anime adaptation–still not sure whether they will tone down the blood and gore.

 

Only anime would have a cute gamer for a ghost.

Only anime would have a cute gamer for a ghost.

Nanana’s Buried Treasure promises complex, likable characters.  The story is set on an artificial island dedicated to boarding schools where the author has decided to study.  (That’s one way to make sure parents don’t get in the way of the tale.)  Only, he discovers that he shares his room with the ghost of murdered Nanana–one of the founders of this island.  The characters are so likable that I find myself enthusiastic for this show–despite the little amount of information given by the first episode.

knights-of-sidonia-anime-pilot

Two mecha series looked like they could be fun.  Knights of Sidonia does a beautiful job of employing CG.  They focus on the backgrounds and the scenery rather than on the characters, and I find myself curious to learn more about this world.  Captain Earth has hero for whom I identify greatly.  (Letting one’s studies go in order to research more important things?  Might as well be your humble blogger piloting the mech!)  This show offers a very intriguing opening despite the traditional “Congratulations!  You’re now a mech pilot in charge of saving the world!” scenario.

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But, the main reason I find myself a little leery of the above two shows is because my tastes do not lean toward mecha.  I thank Full Metal Panic for making me interested in the genre.  After all, I started watching anime with shows like Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai: Hunt for the Sword, Inuyasha, Peacemaker, and Samurai Deeper Kyo.  See a common theme here?

Samurai Hunt for the Sword: my introduction to harem anime and boob jokes.

Samurai Hunt for the Sword: my introduction to harem anime and boob jokes.

And let me tell you all you need to know about Dai-Shogun – Great Revolution: it’s horrible and will liquify your brain.  The first episode features a hero who’s only interest is fighting, plenty of fanservice, and a murderess who amputates her victims’ analog stick–to borrow a slang from Gintama–before finishing them off.  Yeah, a show which panders to the base desires.

But, I must retract what I said in a prior article.  I’m impressed so far and hope that this strong start will carry over to a great finish.

Here Comes the Calvary

medievalotaku:

A nice reflection on Psalm 7. Put in very modern terms.

Originally posted on TheWannabeSaint.com:

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“It’s been too long, Lord. Am I even on your radar? Are you paying attention? Do you see what’s happening to me? Am I by myself, fighting this battle alone?

My body aches, my heart hurts, and I am losing ground fast. Please, Lord, help me! Save me! I have no chance without you.

Lift my head, turn my gaze, give light to my eyes and soul or let me die. Let the evil ones dance on my grave if you aren’t willing to stand by my side.

You are the one I am counting on. My spirit is holding out hope your calvary is on its way.

Amen.”

a reflection based on Psalm 7

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blessings,
bdl

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http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Early Disney: The Barn Dance, The Opry House and The Skeleton Dance (1929)

medievalotaku:

I found this article on the early history of Disney very cool. One almost wishes that it doesn’t end!

Originally posted on Anime Commentary on the March:

Poster_of_the_movie_The_Barn_Dance

Walt Disney’s first few years in the film industry came after he briefly worked as an ambulance driver in the military; he met Ub Iwerks at Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio in 1919, a year after the end of World War I, and the two began collaborating on animated shorts. Their first venture was the Laugh-o-Grams series, after a brief stint in an ad company; their most famous creation, however, happens to be Mickey Mouse. Based on a real mouse Walt had as a pet while in Kansas City, Mickey proved popular with audiences, with Steamboat Willie being the official public debut of the iconic mouse (although two earlier shorts preceded it, Steamboat Willie saw distribution first). In 1929, Mickey starred in several shorts, all with their own self-contained story; like other shorts from this period, Disney’s cartoons presented a cast of characters in various different situations, with no real set in-universe chronology. The…

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