Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sickness and Lovecraft

Unfortunately, feeling unwell, I missed Holy Hour and Mass for St Philomena; Fr Rowe was a bit disappointed (he told us yestereven) by the absence of many, particularly as he preached a long sermon on aids to chastity after the example of the virginal martyress. Yesterday I got through work, and got to Confession, which is always a boon. The Redemptorist behind the grille reminded me that occasions of sin are like a firey cauldron: advice sobering and true, which I have tried to take to heart and act upon. I said the Rosary afterward before the altar and image of Perpetual Succour, with a degree more fervour than usual!

Last night, despite being offcolour, I made it to Fr Rowe's farewell dinner for one of the FSSP seminarians, who's departing for the States shortly, to begin his studies in Nebraska. Aaron and two of my housemates also came, and we were certainly well-fed!

However, ever since returning from WYD I've not been back to complete good health I think, and today I again woke sick and unwell, and called in sick, which my doctor confirmed later. Having not had as much energy lately, since the end of July I've been reduced to the modern Office again, fearing to tire myself out on that work of supererogation the Breviary when I must needs put my duties at work first. The Office is familiar to me, having used it for so long, but getting through it each day has been difficult and fitful, and I feel I haven't really prayed.

While prayer has not been as I would like it to be, on the natural level it has been nice to do some secular, fictional reading. Fr Bernard, a Dominican sometime stationed in Providence, Rhode Island, some years back introduced me to the wierd work of H.P. Lovecraft. and I've been enjoying reading his eldritch stories. For some odd reason, while in the past I disliked and but rarely enjoyed horror (excepting only a few of the classic vampire tales), I find Lovecraft congenial, despite his atheism and (worse?!) 'cosmicism', that nightmare vision of man in a cosmos uncaring, where his cherished morality and beliefs are meaningless, and sinister inhuman forces are real and strong, stronger than he.

(I wonder idly if existentialism would have been Lovecraft's cup of tea? or would de Beauvoir, Sartre and Camus have seen themselves in his tales? No; as another Frenchman said archly, "Whatever would the devil do in Paris? He would find men as diabolical as he, and himself dismissed as a naïve provincial." But I digress; I detest existentialism.)

Months ago I recorded buying two volumes of Lovecraft's stories: these I've finally finished reading, and now have acquired two more volumes in the Penguin Modern Classics edition (The Call of Cthulhu and Other Wierd Stories and The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Wierd Stories), which I have just started into. There are some duplicated stories, but these latest additions are annotated, which I like. So thanks, Fr Bernard, for your introduction to Lovecraft, via that screening of an adaptation of "The Call of Cthulhu" - a DVD I'm now ordering...

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