Posted by dahosek

Beautiful Sentences: Hilary Mantel

There cannot be new things in England. There can be old things freshly presented, or new things that pretend to be old. To be trusted, new men must forge themselves an ancient pedigree, like Walter’s, or enter into the service of ancient families. Don’t try to go it alone, or they’ll think you’re pirates.

Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall.

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Beautiful Sentences: Rabih Alameddine

There are two kinds of people in this world: people who want to be desired, and people who want to be desired so much that they pretend they don’t.

Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman.

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Beautiful Sentences: Hilary Mantel

But she’s turned her face away and she’s crying. She’s not crying for him, because nobody, he thinks, will ever cry for him. God didn’t cut him out that way. She’s crying for her idea of what life should be like: Sunday after church, all the sisters, sisters-in-law, wives kissing and patting, swatting at each other’s children and at the same time loving them and rubbing their little round heads, women comparing and swapping babies, and all the men gathering and talking business, wool, yarn, lengths, shipping, bloody Flemings, fishing rights, brewing, annual turnover, nice timely information, favor-for-favor, little sweeteners, little retainers, my attorney says…

Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall.

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Beautiful Sentences: Rabih Alameddine

My body is full of sentences and moments, my heart resplendent with lovely turns of phrases, but neither is able to be touched by another.

Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman.

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The Washing of the Feet

To be honest, the reason NewImage  went to St Vincent Ferrer for Holy Thursday mass was because it’s across the street from our favorite local burger place and I have a long-standing tradition of going out for a burger and strawberry shake after Holy Thursday mass as a way of celebrating the end of Lent.

But a side-benefit of this was that the washing of the feet at the mass was done the way that I feel it should be done at mass: the presiding priest washes the feet of a group of laypeople (I think he did ten, although twelve would probably be a bit more biblical). My home parish does something that just seems bizarre to me: anyone who wants to get their feet washed is welcome to come forward and then in groups of three or four, they wash each other’s feet. Given that the symbolism is meant to show how those who are nominally in positions of authority should take on an attitude of servitude towards those “below” them, this seems to be entirely missing the point. I’ve seen similarly missing the point displays at other parishes as well, so it’s not just my parish.

Beautiful Sentences: Ford Madox Ford

I console myself with thinking that this is a real story and that, after all, real stories are probably told best in the way a person telling a story would tell them. They will then seem more real.

Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier.

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Occasionally a song surprises

A couple weeks ago at mass, there was a song new to me, “Take from my Heart,” by Karen Schneider Kirner and John T. Kyler. The credits indicate that the lyrics are adapted from the “Act of Resignation” by Catherine McAuley. It managed to be the perfect blend of lyric and melody to really touch me in a time when I had forgotten that music could do this, at least not church music. 

So much contemporary Catholic liturgical music has lyrics which are scriptural paraphrase and end up, over time, being a bit dulling to me. There are a handful of songs which have some turn of phrase or melody that reached me, but it feels like a long time since I’ve had some church music do that for me, so I felt like I should call out this song as something special which I’m thankful for. I’d also note that the publisher on this is World Library Press who I tend to associate with the drabbest of the drab when it comes to liturgical music, so this was an especial surprise.

Beautiful Sentences: Pete Dexter

All the things she read in Raymond Chandler’s books about being hit, he’d never mentioned how heavy it felt.

Pete Dexter, Paris Trout

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Beautiful Sentences: Ford Madox Ford

His face hitherto had, in the wonderful English fashion, expressed nothing whatever. Nothing. There was in it neither joy nor despair; neither hope nor fear; neither boredom nor satisfaction. He seemed to perceive no soul in that crowded room; he might have been walking in a jungle. I never came across such a perfect expression before and I never shall again. It was insolence and not insolence; it was modesty and not modesty.

Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier.

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Beautiful Sentences: Ron Hansen

I see no possible reasons for it. Is it so Mariette Baptiste will be praised and esteemed by the pious? Or is it so she shall be humiliated and jeered at by skeptics? Is it to honor religion or to humble science? And what are these horrible wounds, really? A trick of anatomy, a bleeding challenge to medical diagnosis, a brief and baffling injury that hasn’t yet, in six hundred years, changed our theology or our religious practices. Have you any idea how disruptive you have been? You are awakening hollow talk and half-formed opinions that have no place in our priory, and I have no idea why God would be doing this to us. To you. I do know that the things the villagers have been giving us have not helped us in our vow of poverty. And all the seeking people who have been showing up have not helped our rule of enclosure. And there are breaches to our vow of obedience whenever you become the topic.

Ron Hansen, Mariette in Ecstasy.

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