Wednesday, June 30
Saw the 12:01 showing of Spider-man 2 last night (yeah, I've been waiting for this one for a long time). It was a little slow in the beginning, but in the end I'd say it was better than the first.
Without giving too much away on opening day, this movie was the best film depiction of the struggle between serviam/non serviam I've seen. It's a classic vocational discernment situation: do what you think you want to do, or give up your own desires and lay down your life to serve others. Peter Parker tries living for himself, and finds not only a growing restlessness (a la Jeremiah 20:9), but even loses the objects of his more selfish desires. In the end, only "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it."
There's also a couple of thoughts on the heroism of youth that I dare say JPII would approve of. Plus, it was just a fun superhero movie.
In other words, go see it. It's well worth your $8.
Dürer's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who, as far as I know, have not been blamed for the Tunguska Event, but probably would have thought it was, like, really groovy, dude.
Itinerant Black Holes, Another Fine Name for a Rock Band
Today, in addition to being the feast fof the Protomartyrs of the Roman Church is, in the bizarre news department, the 96th anniversary of the so-called Tunguska Event of 1908. At 7:17 AM of that morning, something, as bright as the sun, fell in the Podkamennaya Tunguska river valley of Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, causing an explosion sixty times greater than the atom bomb that dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. This is approximately equal to 500 kilotons of TNT. Seismic waves were reported in Irkutsk, Tashkent, Tbilisi, Jena and even London.
No crater was found.
The blast, which occurred eight miles in the air over the river, was felt over fifty miles away, incinerating reindeer and causing many surviving animals to break out in strange scabs. Clouds and light from the event could be seen at five hundred miles distance. 60 million trees were felled in a blast zone of 2,150 square kilometers. Radioactivity levels soared, while later research indicated the shock wave from the impact had circled the earth twice. One eyewitness stated that he "saw the sky in the north open to the ground and fire poured out," something verging on the apocalyptic. Another reported, in more detail:
I was sitting on the porch of the house at the trading station, looking north. Suddenly in the north...the sky was split in two, and high above the forest the whole northern part of the sky appeared covered with fire. I felt a great heat, as if my shirt had caught fire... At that moment there was a bang in the sky, and a mighty crash... I was thrown twenty feet from the porch and lost consciousness for a moment... The crash was followed by a noise like stones falling from the sky, or guns firing. The earth trembled... At the moment when the sky opened, a hot wind, as if from a cannon, blew past the huts from the north. It damaged the onion plants. Later, we found that many panes in the windows had been blown out and the iron hasp in the barn door had been broken.Exactly what led to all this is still unknown. Lights, bright twilights and solar haloes had been witnessed across Europe in the days leading to the blast, and decreased shortly afterwards. Theories have suggested alien spacecraft, electromagnetism, a comet, a large glob of antimatter, a sixty-meter-wide meteorite made either of rock or "mirror matter," a techtono-atmospheric phenomenon (a "geophysical meteor"), solar plasmoids, or an itinerant black hole. One suggestion, most spectacularly, blames it on real-life mad scientist Nikola Tesla. I suppose we'll never know, until the little green men show up and take responsibility for this cosmic hit-and-run. I suggest we sue for damages.
Tuesday, June 29
For your viewing pleasure, the official website of the beatification of the Venerable Charles, Emperor of Austria and Apostolic King of Hungary. Wir der Gott Karl der Kaiser!
Monday, June 28
Card. Arinze, the man I most regret not seeing at all in Rome, tells people what any youth could have said all along: there's not motivation to give up one's life "to join a group of old women who seem to be confused [about their mission] or "a diocese where the priests seem to be angry."
Not news, but worth reading.
Man, covered in blood, attempts to buy clothes, garbage bags at 4 a.m. with $100 bill, is suprised when he's arrested.
Hmm... no comment.
Well, it's a start, at least.
NB:The article mistakenly says that sacraments cannot be performed in an oratory. Wouldn't that be the biggest joke of all--3,300 people, and you couldn't even hold a Mass in there!
You want transparency in architecture? Check out the so-called transparente of Toledo Cathedral.
Ave Maria's Our Lady of the Windex is no more, and Fr. Fessio and Tom Monaghan have decided to completely have the chapel redesigned. Let us hope and pray that the new design will build on what is best in both the past and the present. I also hope that Ave Maria College will prosper in its new Floridian home, bringing countless new Catholic nerds into bloom. Though once again, I still can't accept their desire for a top-flight football team. Notre Dame has got to be number one in something.
The political impact of abortion. The inherent flaw in the culture of death: it defines itself by that which is its eventual undoing.
Including Justin Cardinal Rigali, Arbp. Sean O'Malley, and Arbp. Raymond Burke from the US. Couldn't have happened to a better group of guys.
(P.S. Zenit did it, too! "Cardinal Justin Rigali" instead of "Justin Cardinal Rigali"! Gah!)
At Catholic Youth Networking's Litany Collection, you can peruse the Six Great Litanies of the Church, as well as numberless others, such as the undeservedly obscure Litany to the Father of Mankind, a wonderful Gaelic litany to the Virgin and, even more delightful, the Litany of St. Thomas Aquinas, which acclaims him as "Incomparable scribe of the Man-God," and "Intoxicated with the strong wine of His charity." There are also some thoughts on how to pray with Litanies. Litanies are already such wonderful treasuries of Catholic knowledge and piety, and to turn over the phrases in your mind, like turning the pages of an ancient illuminated manuscript bright with blue and gold, is a true pleasure. It's only appropriate that these little treasuries should be gathered into one great one.
Sunday, June 27
Dial-a-Gorilla. Not-for-profit corporation founded in 1939 by Roy C. Schmeedman of Upper Tavistock, Ohio. Schmeedman (also the founder and sole member of the Cleveland, Ohio, Anarcho-Syndicalist Party) was the only survivor of the Clement Valladingham Brigade, an organization of aging amateur socialists who attempted to come to the aid of the Communist side in the Spanish Civil War. However, they took a wrong turn in the New York Port Authority Terminal and were devoured by albino alligators, save for Schmeedman. Inspired by his brief stint as a soldier of misfortune, he decided to start a telephone-order mercenary service; however, because of his remarkably poor spelling skills, the company ended up receiving only requests for King Kong-themed birthday parties. Schmeedman's myopic son-in-law finally closed up the business in 1956 after misreading an order form and mistakenly shipping fifteen thousand thousand cone-shaped party hats decorated with bananas to the pro-Western rebellion in Budapest with tragic results.
Dombrowsky, Billy Bob (1964- ). The so-called "Light Fixture King" of Blattsburg, Nebraska (pop. 808 and a small, annoying pekinese), he became notorious throughout the Great Plains after installing clap-operated lights in the Montgomery Auditorium in Chadron. Now, the Bulwer-Lytton Light Opera Company (motto: "We may not be good, but we can still be loud") which used the theater, was not known for actually generating applause. However, after a performance of Carousel in 1996 when large amounts of alcohol were distributed to sweeten the audience, the spectators burst into riotous cheering and clapping, causing the theater's electrical system (and with it, most of Nebraska and some of Kansas as well) to short out. A later experiment with installing voice-activated lights in a Hasidic synagogue (in order to more fully obey the Sabbath) caused him to retire in disgrace.
Montagu, Rupert (1764-1805). Younger brother of the Earl of Sandwich, and inventor of frozen fish sticks. The idea proved to be before its time, but the concept of breading he espoused may have suggested the Montecristo to French writer and part-time snack inventor Alexandre Dumas. Rupert's premature death in a mayonnaise-related lab accident cut off the premature discovery of tartar sauce which had to wait until 1884, when it was finally developed in its modern form by Rudolf Virchow.
Whoopie Potato. Primitive comedic device invented in 1806 by English aesthete William Beckford during his so-called "Prank" period. Historians generally think he came up with the initial concept in an opium trance, wrote it down on a cocktail napkin, and proved unable to read his handwriting properly once sobered-up. Even William Blake couldn't read the darn thing. It consisted of a potato hollowed out and filled with a small rubberized cloth balloon filled with hydrogen. In theory, it should have made loud rude noises when someone sat on it, but it mostly turned into mush instead, and anyway, tasted much better with chives. Beckford also wrote the epic orientalist novel Vathek and while his subsequent comedic devices proved to be duds (such as the exploding trout, 1809; and a musical glass eye that played Mozart, 1816), he is thought to have laid the groundwork for the greatest creative feat of the Romantic Humor movement, Swinburn's 1833 invention of the steam-powered joy buzzer.
Friday, June 25
Three bishops were arrested and detained for their loyalty to the Pope, two were released and one was not. Of course, China denies everything and perfectly respects human rights throughout the country. Will there ever be political pressure on China about this??
Priest Beats Up Would-Be Robbers
"Growing up with four brothers and two sisters taught him how to fight, Foley explained."
"So I put him basically in a half-nelson and held him to the ground."
I nominate this guy for dealing with perps in the abuse scandal.
Or, "modern is not always better," from NCR.
Thursday, June 24
The Frauenkirche, Dresden, from an archival photograph. Clearly not Pastor Inqvist's home parish.
Lutherans, Maggie Magdalene and Sea Cows
Brian (alias "the Protein Shake King") of In Pectore asks to Stop the Manatee Hate. *** Zadok is incredulous at an atrocious translation of the New Testament featuring such characters as Maggie, Barry and John the Dipper, as yet unknown to Scriptural exegetes. *** Dresden completes the reconstruction of the spectacular eighteenth-century über-Lutheran Frauenkirche, which got the crud blasted out of it by Allied troops in 1945. *** While you're in the Saxon mood, check out the Gabrieli Consort's recording of the Christmas Vespers of Heinrich Schütz, which prefigured Handel's Messiah and, like the Frauenkirche, proves that Lutherans, too, have their own extravagant moments from time to time. At least outside of Lake Wobegon. *** And lastly, the Holy Father meets the Harlem Globetrotters (sounds like an episode of Scooby Doo, methinks) and we hear about joke the Pope told involving Cardinal Wystinski and skiing, and a very funny one at that.
Shrine of the Holy Whapping comes up pretty high on a search for "the floor of hell is lined with the skulls of bishops." In case you were wondering.
Zorak has proposed that faithful Catholics practice a Eucharistic fast on Respect Life Sunday (Oct. 3), in reparation for pro-abortion Catholics, and as an act of solidarity with them. My first impression is that I like the idea, although in order for it to achieve it's intended effect, it would have to be viewed as an act of reparation (in addition to actually being one), which would mean overcoming American Catholics' tendency to over-politicize everything on both sides.
I do like the fact that it would be a way of teaching by example that the Eucharist is not something to be taken lightly. It would certainly require alot of prayer and humility from participants, however, and I'm not sure I have that much faith in human nature, especially in large groups. Perhaps St. Blog's pastors have thoughts on the subject? (Paging Frs. Tucker, Johansen, and Sibley...paging...)
antigonize. noun. To annoy or irritate excessively by obsessively insisting on burying your own brother at all costs to health and/or sanity.
Rural Elektrafication Program (REP). noun (historical). An effort begun during the Great Depression (1929-1941) to give employment to destitute opera singers by providing denizens of the backwoods with free productions of the works of Richard Strauss. It was later abandoned (1953) because of lack of interest and because audiences kept requesting encores from Die Fledermaus by mistake.
zipp-a-lin. noun (obsolete). Metal clasp-locker device for balloons patented by Gummo von Zeppelin, the forgotten little brother of the famed aeronaut Ferdinand of the same name. After unsuccessfully being used unsuccessfully to close the flies on the trousers of the enormous anthropomorphic balloons used in the 1893 Mäcy's Thanksgiving Day parade in Berlin (one failure on an inflated replica of Frederick the Great left the great soldier pants-less and caused the German Empress and a large number of her retinue to faint), the entire project was abandoned. When suggested he use it on sweaters, he laughed mirthlessly.
Wednesday, June 23
Rubens's painting of St. Joan, 1618-1620
La Chevalerie, Chevaleresses et Chevalières
As the Shrine's resident knight-errant, Templar buff, and intermittant votary of St. Joan of Arc, I can't help taking an interest in a new blog entitled Novae Militiae (by one Nevski, an Eastern Orthodox Christian with a love of St. Bernard of Clairvaux) which concerns itself with "chivalric musing and resources on personal and societal transformation," in particular this voluminous and fascinating post on the significance of Christian knighthood in the modern world. Nevski, I raise my sword to you in salute!
On the theme of knighthood, we also have François Velde on the subject of Women Knights of the Middle Ages, including the Order of the Hatchet, the Order of the Glorious St. Mary, and the knight-canonesses of St. Gertrude of Nivelles, who received the unheard-of accolade of being dubbed with a sword, a practice still unknown today among the Dames of the Holy Sepulchre, of Malta, and the various Papal Orders. In this same vein of distaff chivalry, there's the Nine Worthy Women who arose from the medieval mania for lists of virtuous people, places and things.
Lastly, there's Count Berthold von Imhoff's lovely portrait St. Joan of Arc, not exactly a dubbed chevalière per se, but certainly a patroness of all ladies who take up the spiritual sword in this day and age. The Count (1868-1939) was a German-born Canadian artist, a painter of churches and a recepient of the Papal order of St. Gregory (the "Greg"). Who'd've thunk it?
The Thérèse movie is in the distribution phase, so now is the time to let them know where you are! If you want to see Thérèse in your area (and I know you do!), go to the site, click "See Thérèse" in the top corner, and enter your zip code.
Bishop Sheen doing what he did best. Can one get more POD than this, I ask?
The Servant of God Fulton Sheen on the Sacraments and the Divine Sense of Humor. From the website of the rather remarkable St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, in Camas, Washington.
From On the Nature and Quality of Horses, a 16th-century manuscript.
Scholastic Principle: A Horse is a Horse, of Course, of Course
I am no great enthusiast of the turf (excepting a handful of youthful readings of the old Black Stallion series and an inexplicable fondness for the movie Seabiscuit) but it is, of course, the sport of kings, if not the King of Kings. Nonetheless, as the Catholic Packer Fan reports, Smarty Jones, this year's not-quite-Triple Crown, has got roots in the Roman Church. Unlike the rumors that Jones was variously running for president and dating Jennifer Lopez, this one seems pretty darn authentic: John Servis, the horse's trainer, belongs to St. Ephem's in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, while one of his aunts (the trainer's, not the horse's) is a Dominican nun. The Little Sisters of the Poor in Queen's Village, NY, also are among the horse's biggest fans, while the owners themselves, Roy and Patricia Chapman, are Catholics too. If that isn't enough to make him Catholic, there's the fact that he ran--and won--the Kentucky Derby while wearing a Sacred Heart medal under his saddle, and even more astonishing, he was born on Ash Wednesday in 2001!
That being said, probably best not to bring him to church. He'd probably drink out of the baptismal font, and I'd shudder to think what sort of dubium the Congregation for Divine Worship would put out on that.
Tuesday, June 22
...that Wisconsin is better
Edward Ward's Sir Thomas More's farewell to His Daughter.
St. Thomas More, Martyr
Mrs. More: Arrest him!
More: For what?
Mrs. More: He's dangerous!
Roper: For all we know he's a spy!
Margaret: Father, that man's bad!
More: There's no law against that!
Margaret: There is, God's law!
More: Then let God arrest him!
Mrs. More: While you talk he's gone!
More: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down (and you're just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
--A Man for All Seasons
Today is the feast of St. Thomas More, a figure of double importance to me as the patron saint of my home parish and of my parents, who are both lawyers and strong admirers of his principled stand and his ability to live in the world and at the same time not be of it, and still have a good laugh occasionally. Like Chesterton, he is one of those marvelous men of the Church that one can imagine easily having a grand time out if you had dinner with them, and all the time God being firmly the source of that divine hilarity. And, in the end, that hilarity revealed, not a frivolous heart, but one that was rock-solid in its defense of the rights of the See of Peter against a wicked King. And so he "merrily met" with his Redeemer in Heaven.
Some more More goodies: A Man for All Seasons on DVD. *** The parboiled relics of St. Thomas More, his missing tooth, and the burial place of William and Margaret Roper. *** Facsimile of the 1518 Basel edition of Utopia online. *** His last letter. *** Taylor Marshall provides an Anglican perspective on the saint, who is commemorated (perhaps ironically) on their calendar as well. Though I profess puzzlement at Taylor's rather pungent reference to the "wicked, Jesuitical, treacherous, Italianate, idolatrous, Romish mass-priests of the era." Hhhhhhmmmm...I had no idea that Fr. Guido Sarducci lived back then. *** Splendid neo-medieval image of More on the rood screen of St. Mary's, Kettlebarston, in England. In an effort to give Henry VIII a coronary, he is depicted in the company of Pope St. Felix and fellow papal supporter and martyr St. Thomas Becket. *** Dr. Johnson (another inhabitant of the Anglican sanctoral calendar, 13 December) on More: "He was the person of the greatest virtue these islands ever produced."
Here's an article from my town's newspaper, The Tallahassee Democrat, detailing a new building designed by Barnett Fronczak Architects. They're the folks I'm working for this summer, which is, I think, the best firm in the whole Panhandle region. I had no part in the creative process, but the print version of the article featured a picture of a colored-pencil rendering of the building that yours truly produced. Those of you in the area, it's on the inside of the Local Section, and I don't think the photo does it justice, of course.
A Tridentine Jewel Box
I recently was priveleged to pass my gaze over a wonderful parcel of photos from the dedication of St. Mary's Oratory in cozy little Wausau, Wisconsin, a glowing little jewelbox of the German immigrant neo-Gothic of the Midwest. The mother church of the town, sermons were given there in German well into the 1930s.
The church's restoration, which includes triptychs that would have made the van Eyck brothers proud, new altars crowned with gilded and crocketed canopies, and dark oaken choirstalls spiked with medieval filigree worthy of a Burgundian duke, was a pet project of the Institute of Christ the King, equal in splendor to its Italian seminary, housed in an ancient villa nestled in the hills north of Florence. The Institute is distinctly traditional in its piety, and, having the indult, consecrated the restored church with full billowing Tridentine pomp.
There is no word for church, really, in English, when it comes to talking about the physical fabric of the building. We make due with assigning the word church, more properly denoting the people, the assembly, the Ecclesia outside of space and time. In Latin, the word Templum is most fittingly applied to the church building, and indeed, in Rome, we often hear of the Tempietto up on the Janiculum, and, more importantly, the Templum Vaticanum. There is something solid, earthy and foreign to the word temple, and it makes you shiver a little to apply it to an ordinary little parish church, as if Catholicism had its own sacrificial priesthood, slaughtering lambs--
But it does, does it not? What's the Eucharist? Sunday brunch? It's a banquet, a wedding feast, but it's a sacrificial banquet. The sacrifice has been made unbloody, but a sacrifice it remains, returning always to the bloody sacrifice of Mount Calvary with which it is indelibly, mystically linked through space and time. The two are indistinguishable, the two are the same sacrifice. It, unbloody now, is still as solid and real as the sacrifices of the Jewish Temple--and more so, as St. Paul reminds us. To those of an anemic and disembodied spiritual turn, perhaps temple sounds too strange. Perhaps they'd prefer something airy and light: faith community, gathering, something luminous and Gnostic.
I'll take templum any day: it is a word one can grip, and the rites of Trent for its dedication have an equally solid, physical, real feel to them, full of oils and dust and water, sprinklings and daubings.
So, speaking of sprinkling, let's talk about Lustration.
Now, Lustration is one of those great Catholic words which sound sinful but really aren't, like lavation, or my favorite, occult compensation, which sounds like something Goths do on moonless nights, but really has to do with property rights. (There's also anamnesis, but, strictly speaking, that really sounds more like a mental disease than anything disordered.)
The Lustration was part of the antique rite of a church's dedication, a sprinkling of the church's exterior in solemn procession using a curious mixture known as Gregorian Water, in which water, ash, salt, and wine were mingled. They would circle the church three times. The Blessed Jacobus de Voragine in his thirteenth-century Legenda Aurea Sanctorum notes the procession's triune nature mirrors the "triple circuit that Christ made for the sanctification of the Church," from heaven to earth, from earth to limbo, and back to earth, where He again rose to Heaven. The church would then be entered through the principal door by the consecratory Bishop, who struck his crozier against the portals thrice and cried aloud three times:
"Lift up your gates, ye princes, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the king of glory shall come in." And from the inside a deacon answers “Who is this King of Glory?" The Pontiff and the clergy say "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle." Then all shout "Open up!" The deacon opens the door and the pontiff, with the end of his crosier crosses the threshold, saying: "Behold the sign + of the Cross, flee, all ye phantoms." Then, all enter the church. Once The Pontiff [bishop] is in, the Pontiff says aloud: "Peace be to this house." And the deacon who was inside answers: "At thine incoming."This fascinating little rite, which I am given to understand is kept in a slightly different form among the Jesuits at Gonzaga on Palm Sunday, is virtually identical in content to the description given by the Blessed Jacobus:
The thrice-repeated knocking at the door of the church signifies the threefold right that Christ has in the Church...by creation, redemption, and of the promise of glorification. The triple proclamation, "Lift up your gates, ye princes," denotes Christ's threefold power, namely, in heaven, on earth, and in hell.The Church's dedication then proceeds in earnest, with the singing of litanies, an internal aspersion of the Church and a unique lustration of the altar with the Gregorian Water to set it apart from the world of the secular. Water is used in the aspersion, according to the Blessed Jacobus, "to remove every malediction [because from] the beginning, the earth was accursed with its fruit because its fruit was the means by which man was deceived, but water was not subject to any malediction. Hence it is that Jesus ate fish, but there is no written, explicit record of His eating meat, except perhaps the Paschal lamb..." Perhaps a somewhat fanciful scholastic gloss, but interesting nonetheless.
Then follows the actual taking possession of the Church by the Bishop in the name of God, which includes a very strange and evocative rite, whose exact meaning has always eluded me but nonetheless has a peculiar fascination for me. Vested in his violet cope, the Bishop moves to a place that has been prepared below the altar rail, where sand and ashes have been spread in the shape of a large X. He then scribes on the X the letters of the Latin and Greek tongues. There is always something numinous and elemental about alphabets; perhaps it's just a leftover fantasy of the Judaic obsession with letters and numbers that had full flower in the more heterodox branches of Hebrew mysticism, but nonetheless these signs still have significance to us today. Jacobus describes the rite in great detail:
...the alphabet is written on the floor, and this represents the joining of the two peoples, the Gentiles and the Jews...wrought by Christ by means of the Cross. Therefore, the cross is drawn...obliquely...to signify Hh who at first was on the right has gone over to the left, and that he who was at the head has been put at the tail... The cross is drawn obliquely because one Testament is contained within the other, and a wheel was in a wheel: Ezek. 1:16.The Christian, I suppose, is philosophically the child of Jeremiah and Socrates, or, even more appropriately, David and the Sibyl. The Christian has a Greek head and a Hebrew heart, and here it is, enshrined in the very ritual to hallow God's home.
I spoke of the new Oratory as a little jewel box, and it truly is, considered in even the starkest architectural-crtical terms. But so is the rite that consecrated it; the old ceremony conducted here still has the power to fascinate, beguile, and most importantly, make holy the throne of God on earth. I examine the other parts of the rite. I see photographs from the deposition of those sacred spiritual gems, the Relics which adorn the altars. I see the marking of dedicatory crosses on the walls--which Jacobus compares to an Imperial banner of victory raised over a captured city. I see the Unctions (another one of those amusingly un-sinful words). I see the vestition of the altar and the Pontifical Mass with its Sacrifice and its Anamnesis (that recollection and memory which sound so amnesiac to our unknowing Anglo-Saxon ears), it seems an inexhaustible hoarde of tangible grace caged so wonderfully by this temple.
No words of mine could give the true sense of the sparkle of this solid, earthy rite, conducted in so obscure and normal a place as Wausau, Wisconsin, under the gilded shadow of a temple filled with open triptychs that bloom like so many gaudy and glorious Flemish enamels.
Thanks to Zadok for discovering these photographs. And a word to my friends: Wausau isn't so far away from ND. I have two words: road trip!
Monday, June 21
Catholics in Political Life
"...all must examine their consciences as to their worthiness to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord. This examination includes fidelity to the moral teaching of the Church in personal and public life."
V. O Tlekalth Kokepe Scatsazact, nilt kah: huttlestiya quonquant-tict shikshict.
R. O Tlekalth Kokepe Scatsazact, nilt kah: huttlestiya quonquant-tict shikshict.
--Church of England Litany, translated into Neklakapamuk
At Project Canterbury, you can read portions of the Book of Common Prayer translated into such diverse languages as Cree, Pashto, Sea Dyak, Mohawk, and more. It may lack the sacred economy of our own Latin or the fustian elegance of Cranmerian English to my utterly untutored eye, but I have to admit it's goshdarn interesting. In the same vein, here is my favorite Catholic hymn in Quechua, the language of the Incas: check out "Hanacpachap Cuissicuinin," the earliest piece of European-style music known to have been written by a native of the New World, found in a 1631 compilation called the Ritual Formulario of Cuzco. Complete verses, with one of the numerous conflicting translations, can be found here as well. Nifty.
"It's unusual yes, but it's completely disgusting."
Salo: By Far, the World's Grossest Snack; and the Eurovision Song Contest
Pig lard covered in chocolate, the latest thing at the Tsarkoe Selo Restaurant in Kiev. I kiddest thee not. Is it just that I be pilloried for spreading peanut-butter on green bell-peppers and eating jam-and-parmesan sandwiches when this sort of culinary horror is allowed to stalk the dark streets of World Fooddom? This is the sort of nightmare that only Latka Gravas could love, surpassing even the most disgusting subcategories of sushi that are eaten not only raw, but alive. As a Cuban (pork being, in addition to the Other White Meat, is the Official Meat of Hispanics Everywhere) and a lover of sweets, this is nothing short of blasphemy. Maybe it comes from the mind-rotting influences of the Eurovision Song Contest, which, as this article suggests, desperately needs an entry from Vatican City to raise its moral fibre. How about Ted and Doughal doing a reprise of "My Lovely Horse"?
Saturday, June 19
A fascinating reflection on science, human nature, and the Christian moral life: how monogamy is tied to reproductive success. I term it "reflection" and not "article" because there are no actual scientific citations within the piece, though it does hyperlink to another article on the topic. Also, additional phrases fit for your next theology of the body paper, should the term "marital embrace" get too redundant (best eg, "marital congess").
Friday, June 18
Did I mention to you one of the people who visited the Shrine last week was searching on Google for "Tsar Nicholas in Lego Form"? I have no idea what devoted monarchist would erect a statue of the last ruler of Russia out of building blocks, but I have to appreciate the wonderful futility of such a gesture.
Also, I can admit proudly that we were only the fourth hit on the Google search!
Mark Shea has a post on how world developments mirror the conditions for the Second Coming, pulled from a Church document he left unnamed (and which I don't have time during my break here to look up; I assume either the Catechism or the Fatima document):
675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
Now, my gut reaction is that this sort of analysis is a bit too steeped in his formerly Protestant cultural inheritance. The Second Coming will be prefaced by events that exactly similar to all the other ages of human history, because they will be committed by humans with the same nature as those who lived in every age. Societies have risen and fallen, and will continue so to do. Current events are grave, sure, but to me, don't quite seem any more doomsdayish than the Germanic invasions of Rome or the battle of Lepanto. Perhaps this perspective is a bit too steeped in "been there, done that" Catholic cultural inheritance which is rather loathe to jump up and declare "The end is near!", but I would (1) expect that the conditions of the Second Coming will mirror the falled human tendencies of all the ages, yet (2) on a much grander scale -- grander than the current situation.
The kinder, gentler Holy Office...
Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition
Historian Thomas S. Madden offers a re-evaluation of the Holy Office far different from the smoke-blackened world of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, discussing the Inquisition's role in refining and reforming the European judicial process, providing fair trials in an age when they were scarce, and, most astonishingly, saving repentant heretics from the clutches of state officials who'd sooner flame-broil them in the public square. About only 1% of any of the folks hauled up before Tomas de Torquemada and Co. ever got executed, incidentally, which is a pretty decent track record for a supposedly brutal and bloodthirsty legal black hole with an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope and nice red uniforms. (And for all those Englishmen out there enjoying kicking Spain about with the Black Legend, I have two words for you: Star Chamber. So there.) Also, we're treated to the quotation of an amusing newspaper headline of the recent past, "Vatican Downsizes Inquisition." Really. Fascinating and enlightening stuff. Bring out the comfy chair, eh, Cardinal Biggles?
Oh yes, and the Spanish Inqusition sketch from Monty Python now has it's own (un)official website. Gaudete!
"I wanted to attach myself to the energy of a different name."
Joseph Pearce gives an interview on his new book (which is high up on my reading list).
Plus, getting married at Saint Peter's. (Scroll down.)
The Prayer to be said before a Fight at Sea against any Enemy
O most powerful and glorious Lord God, the Lord of hosts, that rulest and commandest all things: Thou sittest in the throne judging right, and therefore we make our address to thy Divine Majesty in this our necessity, that Thou wouldest take the cause into Thine Own hand, and judge between us and our enemies. Stir up Thy strength, O Lord, and come and help us; for thou givest not alway the battle to the strong, but canst save by many or by few. O let not our sins now cry against us for vengeance; but hear us Thy poor servants begging mercy, and imploring Thy help, and that thou wouldest be a defence unto us against the face of the enemy. Make it appear that Thou art our Saviour and mighty Deliverer, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
--From The Book of Common Prayer, 1662 Ed.
The Illicit Exorcist and the Lamb of God
Baroque Moments in Palermo: Part II of V
The morning of our first full day in Palermo, we ran the gauntlet through a maddening market that seemed more like an African suq than anything Italic. Tables, stalls, counters pressed claustrophobically close in an exhilarating and mind-bogglingly tight crush of people. All around us crowded squat antique grandmothers, squalling children, grubbily sweating fishmongers and even one idiot adolescent squeezing his way through this perilous human straight of Messina on a miniscule motorino. Professor Duarte, the point man for our group, was going excitedly insane at the local color that was being rammed down his throat.
Everything was for sale. There was bizarre marine life that could have crawled out of the marginalia of a bestiary, all clammy and ghostly white with coal-black eyes like an archaic Greek gorgon. There was the usual panoply of random shopworn junk, cheap plastic-coated toys and yellowing magazines full of beautiful nineteen-thirties women in skiing gear. Excepting these odd intrusions, if you had strained the scene through a sepia-tinted lens, watched the stooped old men beneath the vast tent-like canopies suspended over the stalls, it could have been a snapshot of a century ago.
Alessandro, Conte di Cagliostro, the occult Loki of Sicily’s profane mythology, would have been familiar with such a world. Then named Giuseppe Balsamo, he was born in 1743 in a grimy alleyway in the tough Albergheria market district, a haunt of Jewish immigrants, Arabs and Turks; in fact, with his mahogany-dark skin and mish-mash dialect of Italian and Arabic he probably was just as much of an exotic mongrel as the rest of Palermo. The street, now Via Conte di Cagliostro, was nicknamed Via de Pisciata in his time because of its popularity as an open public urinal. It still stinks strongly of human waste, but so does every other back-alley in Sicily.
Cagliostro was a talented scoundrel, who, as a fifteen-year-old novice friar with the Fatebenefratelli, forged documents and theater tickets and finally got himself expelled after making bawdy jokes from the refectory pulpit. Shortly afterward, at age 20, he reinvented himself as a freelance exorcist in a borrowed black cassock and conned a local merchant, Vincenzo Marrano with an elaborate plot to find a spurious Saracen treasure, guarded by wicked djinni, naturally, and buried in Santa Rosalia’s mountain.
To propitiate the wicked Islamic demons, he concocted a superstitious ritual hash of consecrated oils and magical invocations which culminated in the sacrifice of nine live cockerels, plumed in black, white and red. Before the gorgeously bejeweled treasure could be unearthed, Marrano discovered his young demon-tamer had skipped down with his assistant, the unscrupulous Father Atanasio, and was heading in the general direction of Malta. It wasn’t the last time he would depart unexpectedly, and it wasn’t the last time he would make a name for himself mingling mysticism and chicanery in the pursuit of some unholy con.
I felt like I was sinking into his world as I roamed amid the butchers’ stalls of the market, with all its mixture of superstition and hard, hot, dusty life.
Duarte, meanwhile, was making some snapshots of his own as we gazed around. Racks of gutted lamb carcasses swung from butcher’s gibbets. No cockerels, but something just as sacrificial. Some had been cleaved clean down the middle like an obscure martyrdom, their overlapping wings of ribs ranked like the rocaille of baroque escutcheons. Others were still furred, tight and wooly as your carpet at home, a dark, bloodstained maw where their stomachs ought to have been.
Like the whole scene, pressing in on you and still somehow, inexplicably, standing at mental arm’s-length from your perception, I viewed these sacrifices on sale with an odd detachment. I saw beauty, the bounty of rippled roseate meat, marbled gorgeously with pale, glossy white fat. It was serene, unbloody carnage, an unconscious sacramental of Holy Week's coming.
Calvary was looming on the horizon, and the hour of the powers of darkness hovered uneasily amid the grimy lanes. No sacrificial chickens or sham magic would untangle humanity from the interlinked thorns of the Passion, no matter how much stolen holy oil was poured on Cagliostro’s illicit magic circle.
Come back on Sunday for The Virgin’s Crown, Part III of our series on Palermo, when Matt visits the constellation of Baroque churches that dot Palermo in all their hybrid, idiosyncratic glory, paints a watercolor one hot, dry afternoon and we continue to follow the misadventures of Cagliostro as he transforms himself from lean Sicilian street thug to a tubby Masonic messiah, wreaking occult havoc on the way.
Thursday, June 17
And they say the Eastern Orthodox have no sense of humor...
Kimono chasuble, huh? With sleeves? I think we used to call that a dalmatic, sort of...
And yes, I'm sure St. Thomas would have been caught dead in this. (BTW, it's Saint Thomas Aquinas to you, buddy.)
Thanks to my good friend Fr. Belden for showing me the catalog.
The Little Saint and the Great Copt
Baroque Moments in Palermo: Part I of V
Palermo, like Sicily itself, is a hybrid, lacking the stylistic purity of those great grid-irons of Baroque symmetry, Noto and Catania. Yet, there is something fixed and disagreeably enlightened about those other vast pre-planned towns, built at the command of princes and prelates in the wake of earthquakes that wiped the slate clean.
Noto was actually relocated several miles away after the disastrous 1693 earthquake; the Moorish tangle of upward-sloping streets of the residential quarter are the work, not of Arabs, but eighteenth-century Italian urbanists. Pumice-black Catania is splendid and blank with its expansive empty piazzas blistering in the noonday heat, all the life is packed into the fish market, a tight, reeking twist of lanes beneath the shadow of the Cathedral. Everywhere else, with the undulating, ironworked churches lined up one beside the other like beached leviathans of golden stone, seems like a warehouse of abandoned architectural experiments. It's too clean, too precise.
Palermo, on the other hand, is anything but embalmed; even the verdigris seems more like a crust of living barnacles than a residue of dead rust. Even the dead aren't dead there, and the baroque that rings round their lively plasterwork sepulchres still breathes freely, however dusty the air. For a saint, a saint of the God of the living, not the dead, this hardly raises eyebrows; but for a sinner, it comes as a far larger surprise to find their memory revered just as greatly. And I have a particular sinner in mind. His name adorns streets and osterias bold as brass, even two hundred years after his demise in the frigid Umbrian prison of San Leo, a world away from the teeming alleys of his birthplace.
The city's patron saint, its true holy protector, is Rosalia, a beautiful young hermitess who, in 1159, went up to live in a cave not far from the home of her father, Lord Sinibald, and then was not heard from until 1624, when she appeared in a vision to a hunter and revealed the location of her hermitage and her relics, which, carried in procession, freed the city from the dread pestilence of the Plague then at its height. She's nicknamed La Santuzza, the little saint.
There is a certain sweetness to this name that fits the technicolor holy-card piety of the cheap images of her they peddle from a desk in one aisle of the Cathedral near the canopied tombs of the Norman Kings. She is clad in rumbled brown robes of a faintly Franciscan look, her disturbingly aquiline eyes raised heavenward, pilgrim's staff at her feet. I bought one of these plaques one afternoon, and it shares distinguished company in my icon corner next to a miniscule reproduction of the Van Eyck Ghent triptych and a Fra Angelico St. Dominic in prayer.
However, the city has another hero who some, of a fanciful and roguish turn of mind, like to claim as a patron of sorts, a secular and irreligious sort of patron saint neither saintly nor particularly patronal. For he fled his hometown at age twenty the law at his back, after staging a feigned exorcism in a bizarre bid to locate a hidden Moorish horde of gold buried in Santa Rosalia's mountain. He never returned, instead spreading confusion and scams everywhere he went, from Catherine the Great's Russia to Louis XVI's France, where he succeeded in becoming the center of a spectacular cause-celebre trial which soured the already-musty air of the ancien regime.
Like his city he was more Arab than Italian, a mystagogical charlatan neither Asiatic, African nor European, but somehow all at once. He was called Giuseppe Balsamo. He was also called Joseph Pellegrini, or the Comte Fenix, a Spanish Colonel and a Freemason of the Strict Observance, a runaway novice of the Fatebenefratelli monks and a respected donat of the Knights of Malta, a Palermo slum boy and the ageless Great Copt of occult legends. He preferred to sign himself, though, with the grandiloquent-sounding moniker of Alessandro, Conte di Cagliostro, and he was probably one of the greatest rascals Europe has ever seen. He was the unthinkable, a magician in the noonday of the supposed Age of Reason, a sorcerer who breathed the same air as Voltaire.
Come back Friday for The Illicit Exorcist and the Lamb of God, Part II of our series on Palermo, in which Matt visits the teeming markets of Palermo and we hear of the young Cagliostro's tumultuous role in the affair of Vincenzo Marrano and the nine dead cockerels.
Wednesday, June 16
Apparently a good number of you are confused as to what "separation of Church and State" actually means. Some of you, poor souls, believe it retains its original colonial implications, that bishops aren't automatically senators-for-life or that the President isn't sworn in by the prelate of Washington. Quaint, isn't it? No, separation of Church and State means much more than that: the Churches tow the government line. Sometimes our Churches get uppity, and we have to hammer them down in the press or the collection basket. I fear, readers, this may be one of those times.
Others of you may think that "separation of Church and State" means that the Church has no direct influence on civil functions, but retains its mandate to radically alter people's lives through an encounter with a living Savior. Dear friends. In the phrase separation of Church and State, "State" is taken in the analogous sense -- separation of the Church from any right to influence anybody's life. Well, beyond the Unofficial Approved Comfort Actions (UACA's), anyway (pronounced "yucka," as in Muppet laughter). These include:
- A nice mid-morning snack for all Sunday visitors
- Appearing on the news at appropriate times with consoling words
- Burying people (on the condition that no criticism is given!)
- Performing marriage ceremonies on those who present themselves (and letting them be from thereon after)
- At very least, to convey a nice feeling of forgiveness without prerequisite guilt for anything in particular.
A few others may be added, I suppose, but these would be the biggies.
The reasoning for all this is quite simple: democracy is better served when Wal-Mart executives and their lobbyist exert more influence and have more rights to self-expression and governmental influence than "the many" who constitute Mystical Body of Christ. I mean, why does it have to be so darn "mystical," anyway? That's just kinda weird.
Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida accepted a friendly wager from his Los Angeles counterpart, Cardinal Roger Mahoney.
The payoff? If the Pistons win the title, Detroit's homeless centers will receive a shipment of silk-screened T-shirts with the logo, "Jobs not Jails," and baked goods from Homeboys Industries, a job training facility that offers second chances to at-risk gang-impacted youths in Los Angeles County.
If the Lakers win, Maida will send a case of Friar Ricks home-raised spring honey, along with canned goods and jams from the Earth Works Urban Garden at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
A Prayer for the Night
Into Thy hands, O Lord, and into the hands of Thy holy ones, I commit this night my spirit and my body, my brothers and sisters, my friends, my cousins, my kin, my benefactors, and all Christian people: keep us this night, O Lord, by the intercessions and prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints, from sins, and from the enemy's snares, and from sudden death and the torments of Hell. Enkindle in my heart with the Holy Spirit and with Thy holy grace: and make me to be more obedient to Thy commandments, and let me never be separated from Thee. Amen.
--Early Medieval English prayer
Fellow bibliophiles should check out A Dusty, Sunny Corner, St. Blog's Official book club. Wish I would have caught this earlier when they were starting Citizen Soldiers, but I'm going to try to put their July book on my reading list.
You should, too.
No, the Other Ulysses: Pinturucchio's Return of Odysseus, 1509. I doubt the hero of story and song would have worn such ridiculous trousers at his dramatic return to Ithaca, if he even knew what trousers were...
Today marks the centennial of Bloomsday: the entire action of James Joyce's Ulysses, with its central character of Leopold Bloom, took place on June 16, 1904. To which I answer: who cares? Give me the real Homeric Odysseus (alias Ulysses) any day over some one-eyed fancy-pants literarily incomprehensible gobbledygook. (Unless it's T.S. Eliot, in which case, it's not gobbledygook because I like it, and it's good incomprehensibility, por eso.) Or give me Ulysses S. Grant, that genial alcoholic strategist: at least he knew how to party. Or even Cuchulain (a.k.a. the Irish Achilles), if you have to have a Hibernian. And when Cuchulain's incomprehensible, at least it means he'll totally flip out and hack your head off beforehand so you don't have to listen to any modernist blank verse while alive.
Note to any Joyce fans out there: we kid because we love. Maybe.
Tuesday, June 15
A Prayer for the Night
May He, Who on the ship took His sleep with a peaceful heart,
And rising commanded the wind and the sea,
Grant my heart to keep watch for Him
Though now my limbs repose from weary and toilsome works.
O Lamb of God, Who Hast taken away all transgressions,
O Meek One, guard my sleep against the enemy. Amen.
--Early medieval English prayer
A 1642 image of a stingray, produced by Ulisse Aldrovani, who reported that the creatures "love music, the dance and witty remarks," I know not how.
Cabinet of Curiosities
UK's The Guardian asks the paranormal question: "Where have all the UFOs gone?" Apparently X-Files-level weirdness is getting scarce of late: looks like Nessie hasn't surfaced lately, and poltergeist reports are down. Obviously, they haven't been on this website lately. Nessie, incidentally, has the distinction of having been exorcized by St. Columba. If that isn't enough for your daily bizarro quotient, pay a call on Strange Science, a portmanteau of the odd dead ends of scientific history culled from engravings, yellowing bestiaries and once-impeccable Enlightenment reports. While there, you can rummage through images of the sea monk; the delightful bearded whale; the Danish skvader, a spurious crossbreed of a woodcock and a rabbit; and the nightmare fossil hallucigenia. For all your other cryptozoological needs, check out this purported pleiosaur (or shark) carcass trawled up off New Zealand in 1977.
The Shrine of the Holy Whapping: Because, if we didn't find it first, Fr. Bryce would probably link to it eventually anyway.
Monday, June 14
The Supreme Court decided to leave the phrase "one nation, under God" in the pledge. Even if it was only on technical grounds, it's still a good sign.
Do not love the service of the Lord more than you love the Lord Himself; this is how noble causes (social work, liturgy, equality) become idols that distract us from our goal rather than vehicles towards Him.
First Christian Science Church, Berkeley, a gem of the Arts-and-Crafts style. If Arts-and-Crafts are good enough for Erik Keilholtz, they're good enough for you.
Church Architecture Round-Up
Everyone's favorite Pastoral Provision parish, Our Lady of the Atonement (as opposed to everyone's favorite other Pastoral Provision parish, Our Lady of Walsingham), unveils a gargantuan neo-Gothic expansion to the church and school. As a fan of both Gothic and the Catholic Anglican Use, I congratulate them on their architectural chutzpah, to use a word one doesn't usually associate with England, unless one is a British Israelist...
The Abbey of New Clairvaux is rebuilding an ancient Spanish monastery, Santa Maria de Ovila, dis-assembled and shipped to California (and then prompty abandoned) by William Randolph Hearst. Think of it as a gigantic sacred three-dimensional puzzle...made of very heavy stones. Or the Do-It-Yourself Project from Purgatory. When finished, this new abbey will be, in one of those bizarre quirks of fate, the oldest freestanding building in the U.S.A.
Erik rhapsodizes about his imagined alternative design to the nuclear-reactor Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, causing the Irish Elk to post on the delicate Arts-and-Crafts churches of turn of the century California. Since one of these (see above) is a Christian Science church, this is me being Ecumenical.
Speaking of Ecumenism, have a gander at the picture galleries of ueber-High Anglican St. Mary's in Bourne Street, London, and drool excessively.
And, lastly, touching back on Oakland Cathedral, fix your eyes on ND grad Domiane Forte's equally wonderful Spanish baroque alternate design to replace the yet-unbuilt modernist monstrosity. [NB: Link fixed.]
Sunday, June 13
A Prayer for the Day
Let joy abound with us on every side,
The sacred feast proclaiming far and wide;
Come, let our souls, renewed in love, arise,
In thought, word, action, purged and purified.
We celebrate the Supper of that night,
When Christ Himself, the Lord of love and light,
Lamb and unleavened bread, gave to the Twelve
His body, and fulfilled the ancient rite.
Our souls in joy receive His solemn word--
The Lamb of God, the Bread of Life, the Lord,
His Body broke and gave to each and all--
God's Flesh by God's hand given at the Board.
Thus breaking to the sorrowing ones the bread,
He took and blessed the chalice, and He said:
"Take ye the cup and drink; this is My Blood,
That unto man's redemption shall be shed."
So did the Christ the sacrifice ordain,
And gave His priests the duty to maintain
The rite; 'tis theirs alone to take and give
That love that ever shall with man remain.
The bread of angels is to man restored;
All figures end in heaven's sublime reward;
O wondrous thought! The poor, the weak, the low
Feast on the Body of the living Lord.
Thou triune Deity, to Thee we pray,
Honored upon the altar day by day,
Visit our souls, and by Thy holy light
Lead us to heaven, and be Thy paths our way.
--St. Thomas Aquinas, Morning Hymn for the feast of Corpus Christi
Saturday, June 12
A Prayer for the Day
Actiones nostras, quaesumus Domine,
Aspirando praeveni et adjuvando prosequere;
Ut cuncta nostra operatio a Te semper incipiat,
Et per Te coepta finiatur.
Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Prevent, O Lord, we beseech Thee,
Our actions by Thy inspiration,
And continue them by Thine assistance;
That every one of our works
May begin always from Thee,
And through Thee be ended.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
--Old Dominican Rite Mass, priest's silent prayer of Preparation
Friday, June 11
in Rome was fine. They were rather polite and the accent was amusing. But the UK Sun reports that Portugal, in an upcoming soccer match, will let them smoke pot:
“If people are drinking they lose control, if they smoke cannabis they don’t."
Crowd management by stoning? That's one way, at least.
"And I'm not so crazy about the costume!"
--Fr. Everett, Daredevil, 2003
If anyone remembers the blind troubled-Catholic comic book superhero Daredevil (featured in the dark yet enjoyably cheesy flop film of the same name), you won't help smiling at this unusual rescue staged at a Swedish amusement park...by a funhouse worker dressed as a demon. Unlike the film, though, there is no Greek ninja heroine with a preposterous name that sounds faintly like "electric natchos" nor a climactic fight scene entailing the wanton destruction of a pipe organ. Also, on the subject of devil costumes, Zadok suggests you check out the Corpus Christi celebrations in Venezuela, which have to rack up some POD points for sheer weirdness. Em, wanna throw some of those masked dudes into the next May Procession?
A Press Release from www.house.gov:
Washington, D.C.--Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46) is asking places of worship in his congressional district to toll bells in tribute to the late President Ronald Reagan.
"I think it is a fitting tribute to the man who secured religious freedom for hundreds of millions of people across the world," Rohrabacher said.
Rohrabacher is also asking his congressional colleagues to encourage their constituencies to do the same. "The object is to have tens of thousands of places of worship all across the country simultaneously ringing out their tribute to President Reagan, as Reagan's funeral service concludes at 1:15 PM EDT. It would be a very tangible and impressive gesture to Reagan, with bells tolling across our continent at the same time on Friday," Rohrabacher said. The Reagan family has asked that bells be rung 40 times at 1:15 PM in honor of our 40th president.
Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family has endorsed Rohrabacher's efforts, and will be touting the idea on his radio show throughout the week.
"Many people have contacted my office and asked how they could show their gratitude for President Reagan. This idea is a great way for Americans to participate in the celebration of Reagan's life, and the work that he did towards removing religious oppression."
A Prayer for the Day
God be in my head, and my understanding;
God be in my eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at my end, and in my departing.
--Sarum Missal, 11th c. (from the Oxford Book of Quotations)
Thursday, June 10
Today traditionally marks the Feast of Corpus Christi. The very POD origins of this feast include a vision which appeared to St. Juliana of Mon Cornillon, who saw the Church as the full moon with a dark spot, indicating the lack of this solemnity. She saw that there was a need for a feast commemorating the Holy Eucharist aside from Holy Thursday, which is overshadowed by the sorrow of the occasion. Her bishop concurred, and so, eventually, did Pope Urban IV, who, in 1264, ordered that the feast be celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday.
The Office for this day was composed by none other than St. Thomas Aquinas, including the O Salutaris, Pange Lingua, and Lauda Sion.
So, this Sunday, when the feast is observed in the United States, find yourself a Eucharistic procession with so much incense you can't see it and POD out!
(Audio link from http://www.cantemusdomino.net/blog/archives/001004.php, which has several other fun links, and is definitely worth reading.)
There are many ideals for which I would give my life.
There are no ideals for which I would give my soul,
strangling it through a lack of charity towards those who disagree.
Commenter Tim Ferguson writes:
A former pastor I worked with once told me that he'd allow black vestments in his church over his dead body. He did a full stop when I said, "That's kinda the point."
It's happened to all of us, you're sitting at your desk, writing a letter to your favorite Latinist, when you realize that you don't know how to say kamikaze! Well, fret no more! Excerpts of the Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis are now online! You'll be able to write voluntárius sui interemptor, and many other phrases, with confidence, knowing they have the Vatican stamp of approval!
Some of the highlights:
gin (pótio iunípera)
vodka (válida pótio Slávica)
rum (rhómium; sícera náutica)
gulag (campus captivis custodiendis)
radar (radioëléctricum instrumentum detectórium)
jeep (autocinētum locis iniquis aptum)
jumbo jet (capacíssima aëronāvis)
karaté (oppugnátio inermis Iapónica)
neofascist (renovātus fascálium motus)
overdose (immódica medicamenti stupefactīvi iniéctio)
pizza (placenta compressa)(I don't want to know),
blue jeans (bracae línteae caerúleae)
plaid (strágula laculāta)
hot pants (brevíssimae bracae femíneae)
psycologist (humani ánimi investigātor), and
Unfortunately, the translations are in Italian, but if that's not a problem for you, head on over and expand your modern Latin vocabulary.
Our Lady of Walsingham Church (a parish of the...yum...Pastoral Provision) has a new stained-glass window behind their splendid, authentically Gothic high altar. The church, incidentally, was designed by none other than HDB, the successors to the prolific Cram and Ferguson firm, who occupy the same place in twentieth-century American neo-Gothic that A.W.N. Pugin did for the nineteenth-century British. HDB is not only as archaeologically precise as old Ralph Adams Cram, but equally productive in the number of projects it puts out: not only did they do Walsingham (which sports gargoyles and a replica of the Holy House), but they're involved in designs for an English Gothic monastery nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, an amazing brick academic chapel in Greensboro, and much, much more.
So how do we fix these permalinks, anyway?
Wednesday, June 9
How disappointing! I thought the Bishop was included!
It's not so much the auction as the alternate pictures. (Pax House apparently has a sense of humor.)
Thanks to Brian for sending these my way.
When we were discussing ember days last week, someone or another made a comment that bothered me, and I just figured out why. They said, "Why celebrate the passing of the seasons with fasting? Doesn't sound like celebrating, to me."
It occurs to me that we celebrate birthdays and Father's Day and Christmas, etc., by losing money. Yes, we do. We lose money. Or in other words, we give gifts. Do you see the shift in perspective? That we lose money when we give gifts sounds ridiculous, it loses sight of the purpose: to give a gift out of love and gratitude to one we love.
Ember days is like that. Our attention is called to the earth with the change of the seasons and their beauty, and -- rather than losing the experience of food or depriving ourselves of meat -- we give a gift in love and gratitude.
When this perspective becomes more widespread, Ember days and fasting in general will naturally take hold of the hearts of Christ's faithful in a healthy, sanctifying way, I rather think.
Continuing the Royal Theme
The inexhaustibly-fascinating website heraldica.org offers some unusual tidbits on the French monarchy, including the origin of the design of France's crown as stemming from her titular legal claim on the defunct Byzantine Empire after the nephew of Constantine IX, Andreas Paleologue (1453-1502), signed away his rights to Charles VIII in 1494. Even more intriguing is this passage, on national anthems and the Liturgy of the Hours:
The French monarchy did not have [a national] anthem [...] in the modern sense, but there was a responsory [...] said or sung in Catholic churches, called the Domine fac salvum. The text comes from Psalms 19:10 in the Vulgate: Domine salvum fac regem et exaudi nos in die qua invocaverimus te. (Lord save the king and hear us in the day when we shall call you.)Incidentally, there really was a St. Napoleon--he wasn't simply a figment of Old Boney's somewhat religiously-confused imagination. Also known as Neopolus of Alexandria, he was tortured to death under the reign of Diocletian, personifying those virtues of humility and faithfulness which his excommunicated namesake so flamboyantly lacked. This didn't stop post-Restoration Bonapartists from displaying images of the (presumably non-military) saint as a warrior on horseback with, most extraordinarily, the Corsican ogre's mug where the martyr's face ought to have been.
[...] This was customarily sung on Sunday at Matins [...]. There was a Gregorian plainchant for that psalm [...]. Many French composers wrote motets for those verses, and there are several settings by Lully for example. The French almanach Quid claims that a version of this responsory composed in the late 17th c. for Mme de Maintenon later became God Save the King, but this may be the French mania to claim to have invented everything before the English.
Under Napoleon the responsory was changed to Domine fac salvum imperatorem, and then back to regem in 1814, then in 1830 to regem Philippum (lest the Lord be confused about which king to save), then to rem publicam in 1848, and back to imperatorem in 1852. It's like changing names of streets. Charles Gounod composed a splendid march to the words for Napoleon III, which Harvard still uses, I am told, in its graduation exercises, but with praesem nostrum substituted, when the University president arrives. [...]
Under the French Bourbon monarchy, the feast days with the most dynastic significance were the Assumption (because of Louis XIII's dedication to the Virgin in the 1630s) and the feast day of Saint Louis IX on August 25. By decree of 19 Feb 1806, Napoleon I established two holidays: the feast day of Saint Napoleon on August 15 (coincidentally, the Assumption) which happened to be his birthday as well as the date of signing of the Concordate of 1802, and the anniversary of the coronation as well as the battle of Austerlitz on 2 December. On both occasions, speeches were to be made by priests and Te Deums sung, in the presence of civil and military authorities. Processions were also required on August 15. The date of 2 December is still important for some institutions linked to Napoleon: in particular, in the French Army Academy (Saint-Cyr) where it is called Deux-S (each month of the school year being named after a letter in the name of the battle).
Pickled Royal Hearts
The pickled heart of Louis XVII, the petit dauphin so famed in story and legend for his purported escape from the Temple prison, was laid to rest yesterday in the royal crypt of the old abbey church of St. Denis, the former pantheon of the Bourbons. Two centuries of rumor, fueled by perhaps over-eager conspiracy theorists and romantics, would have it that the heart is a fake, for the sickly ten-year-old boy who died of tuberculosis two years after seeing Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette felled by the guillotine, was claimed by some to be an impostor.
The real heir, like the ill-fated Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, was supposed to have escaped; indeed about 100 claimants showed up after the fall of Napoleon in 1814. One came from, of all places, the Seychelles, while another proved to be a half-Indian Wisconsin missionary. Mark Twain even threw one, an unscrupulous showman peddling himself as the "Royal Nonesuch," into the pages of Huckleberry Finn. And then there was Karl Wilhelm Naundorff, who in death even fooled his own coroner.
Louis-Charles, Duke of Normandy and Dauphin of France, was taken from his royal mother on July 3, 1793 and died on June 12, 1795. A death certificate was drawn up for "Louis Charles Capet, ten years old two months," the "son of Louis Capet, last king of the French." Another "official" death certificate can be found for the Dauphin, dated August 12, 1845, for "Charles Louis de Bourbon, Duke of Normandy, Louis XVII, having been known under the name of Charles Guillaume Naundorff." This German watchmaker's claims had actually been accepted well into this century by some; indeed, genetics did not explode his cause until 1955, when a bone unearthed from his tomb was tested against the preserved capillaries of two archduchesses, sisters of the doomed Marie-Antoinette, which had remained all this time in an Austrian convent. Karl Naundorff was no royal, it turns out. Nonetheless, his tombstone still reads, extraordinarily, HERE LIES LOUIS XVII, DUKE OF NORMANDY, KING OF FRANCE AND NAVARRE. Even more remarkable is the fact his descendents to this day audaciously call themselves de Bourbon. Few take them seriously.
The current identification of the heart is irrefutable, for all the bizarre permutations the pickled organ went through before it reached its funal resting place. The royalist doctor, Pelletan, who performed the autopsy, hid it in his hankerchief and smuggled it out of the Temple; it was later stolen in turn by one of his assistants, whose wife returned it to the doctor. It later passed to the Archbishop of Paris, who fled the country in the midst of the July Revolution of 1830, when a violent mob broke into his palace and smashed the reliquary containing the heart to bits.
Dr. Pelletan's son saved a few dried slices of the heart, which ended up being owned by the head of the modern-day French legitimist party, the Duke of Beuffremont, who had received it from the Spanish Bourbons in 1975. He authorized a round of tests recently, which required obtaining samples of the wizened relic by cutting the now-hardened heart (reportedly as tough as wood) with a saw. They turned out positive, and so, with pomp and as much royal ceremony as this dessicated age could summon, they entombed him only a day ago, alongside his beloved father and mother, the last casualty of the French Revolution.
Of course, science will never convince some. The little Prince Dmitri of Uglich, slain by Boris Godunov and later canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church, was the focus of not one but two impostors, the first one being executed and then having his remains loaded into a cannon and shot towards Poland; this did not prevent a second False Dmitri from turning up claiming to have impossibly survived that most peculiar fusillade--and the first False Dmitri's wife actually believed him. There will always be denial, somehow, somewhere. A few skeptics prefer to claim the little heart is from Louis XVI's brother rather than his son, for all the weird historical anachronisms that brings up.
People are odd that way: they like romance, they like conspiracy and unsolved mysteries, and while perhaps a preserved heart and the purple splendor of a Bourbon funeral might provide all the extravagance imagination would require, there will probably always be a determined knot of people who still think the little Bourbon slipped free and wanders in the trackless forests of the imagination, whether in the Seychelles, in Wisconsin or amid the riverboat toughs of Twain's Mississipppi.
Tuesday, June 8
Christopher West and Fr. Hogan from my diocese talk Theology of the Body in the NY Times, of all places. Go get 'em, guys!
For all your Catholic Nerd-lets, Playmobil now has a nun to add to the collection. I wonder if they'll be expanding into other orders anytime soon? I'd buy an OP one, for sure.
Thanks for the link, G$. (You know who you are.)
... but I really can't help myself:
Man Allegedly Assaults Taco Bell Employee With Chalupa
Brian... what is WITH the Taco Bells in your state?
At any given official function of the Notre Dame School of Architecture, my alma mater, anywhere between fifty and seventy-five percent of the males present are wearing some form of bow tie. Probably some women are too; statistical averages on the subject are hard to get. Ever since Julia Morgan died, female architects tend to be a bit thin on the ground. I’ve heard rumors that we might declare war on the School of Arts and Letters next year and steal their women, though that’s probably wishful thinking on my part.
Nonetheless, despite this handicap, most of the architecture faculty are married, and happily so, with large, delightfully sprawling Catholic families. Obviously the bow ties are attractive to someone, for all the muttering criticism I sometimes hear from my friends on the distaff side of the cosmos. And if you, O aspiring architect, are not in the market for a large, sprawling Catholic family, the sex appeal of the architect is not just a family-man sort of thing.
The architectural bow tie is an absolute aphrodisiac, you see. It’s even a little bit dangerous in that regard.
Really. Frank Lloyd Wright had women swarming over him well into his dotage. And, as for Stanford White, belle-epoque New York’s Don Juan of the drafting table, it worked entirely too well and he ended up getting shot by a jealous husband on the roof of Madison Square Garden, a lavishly-detailed pleasure palace he himself had designed years earlier.
Memo to self: avoid chorus girls named Evelyn Nesbitt.
Destructive tragic affairs aside—and I am very sure that none of our professors are going to get shot on top of Bond Hall or while inspecting the progress of construction at Clear Creek Monastery—there is a startling and faintly comic turn to the uniform tweedy nattiness common to Homo architectus. Some people smirk, some people smile, some people just stare, but I approve. I’ve had non-architectural teachers in the past who have worn just about everything and anything, from perilously tight jeans to clogs and muu muus to frumpy salmon button-down shirts and sneakers, so to see Professor Thomas Gordon Smith ascend the podium in the full armor of the Vitruvian Man, tweeds and splendid butterfly-bright bow tie, is a real pleasure.
There are deviations from the uniform, of course. Take Professor Duarte, for example. You remember him: he’s our redoubtable baroque maniac and wine-tasting enthusiast who’s given to sprinkling his conversation with a wonderfully surreal blend of weird pop culture and esoteric academic gibberish. He always always sports a pair of pink spectacles while touring—the original rose-colored glasses. As a man who attacked each and every building with manic enthusiasm (and bad disco-related jokes), made googly faces at his newborn daughter, and cracked bad puns even in the hallowed chapels of the Vatican—which, as I informed him, is not a sin—he’s definitely someone who, both figuratively and literally, should be wearing rose-colored glasses.
On the other hand, too much conformity has its problems. The sizable and varied wardrobe of bow-ties that most architects sport generally alleviates most difficulties, as I’ve never seen two professors wear the same tie at once. As the party mix and sausages on sticks make their rounds at a reception, one can see anything and everything from tasteful middle-of-the-road numbers to extravagant gilded moths of yellow silk and teeny-tiny red numbers worn for comic affect. And patterned stuff like hounds’-tooth blazers tend to have a lot of variety, too; at the very least you can always slap on a pair of suede elbow patches and a sweater vest if you really insist on sticking out. Some people also think you could slip a black turtleneck in under the radar, but perhaps only if you’re from Manhattan. There, it’s part of your birthright. Elsewhere, it depends probably on the amount of glass, blank white walls and people named Nigel at the gallery opening you’re going to.
And there’s always the option of taking the party line and pushing it to some Borrominian limit. Take Dr. Guimarães for example. She’s the only woman I know who can not only successfully wear two kinds of plaid at once, but who can also sweep into the studio in the middle of a miserably bitter winter week decked out in a floor-length fur coat and a hat worthy of a particularly flashy Russian grand duchess. And more power to her: anyone who knows as much as she does about Romano-Byzantine floor tiles has the right to stick out in a crowd.
Still, there’s always that one horrible thought that some day the algorithms will add up and the impossible will happen, and two great architects will face each other across the open bar and discover with horror that they’re wearing the same bow tie. The unthinkable has happened before: I remember once when two of our faculty took us on a tour of a project site one cold South Bend afternoon in the depths of winter and they both showed up wearing the exact same black beret. My friend S. is still traumatized by the incident: she stopped wearing any sort of headgear shortly thereafter and weeps uncontrollably at any mention of Marcel Marceau. Well, I made that last part up: but she stopped wearing hats, seriously.
For what it’s worth, the professional, day-to-day world outside the glamour domes of New York and Chicago (and South Bend, Indiana), don’t seem to require that full dress uniform nine to five. They’re boat shoes and polo shirt people. If you’re either good enough for your boss not to care or weird enough not to care yourself you can probably sneak in a tee shirt and baggy shorts, though that guy skateboarded to work and didn’t have a wife, so I wouldn’t recommend that: the Stanford White architectural charisma can only go so far with women. They gotta have something to work with.
That being said, though, I hope some day I’ll sport a bow tie when I put up my shingle and join up with a firm. Maybe it’s stiff and silly, or outdated in this era of casual Fridays, but I’ll rally ‘round the bow tie yet. Plus, it’s not like I can help it: something just starts happening to your DNA when you study classical architecture. Your ears start to perk up at words like “Corinthian” and “cyma reversa,” and you suddenly develop an overpowering fascination with tweed sport-coats that were last worn by the late Lord Kenneth Clark.
(Nota bene: If also you start mispronouncing words in a grandiloquently patrician manner, like bahr-OCK for baroque or cah-PIT-alism for Al Greenspan, you are not turning into an architect but a documentary film host. We have medications for that.)
In my case, though, the unstoppable transformation to homo architectus has already begun. I’ve already gotten my first patterned blazer, a real tasteful number in muted greens and browns, not your plain-vanilla blue with gold buttons. I haven’t gotten in too deep yet, but it’s just a matter of time. Some day, I’ll wake up to discover that I’m now one of THEM. My entire wardrobe will have been replaced in the night by their stealthy agents, and hanging on the tie rack—there will suddenly be a tie-rack—will be a forest of new bow ties.