Monday, July 18


This Nightstand Is Boring

Mine looks nothing like it, and is more interesting (I think). In answer to Matt's tap, here it is. I even avoided the temptation to put more stuff on my nighstand before filling this out!

I have one nightstand. Upon it rests:
- An alarm clock that only goes off 33% of the time
- A lamp
- The schedule for my local Theology on Tap
- A bottle of Holy Water
- A Rosary made of Rose petals
- A whetstone to sharpen knives
- A jumpdrive
- "The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary"
- The Theological Dictionary of Rahner and Volgrimmer
- A Card from Lucy

The otherside of my bed, though, there is my dresser. Not a nightstand, but there's stuff on it!
- A resin Chinese statue of Buddha
- Roman chariot
- Icon of St. John the Baptist
- Five Olympiad medals from gradeschool
As Zenit reported last week, Pope Benedict will be writing his first encyclical while vacationing in the Alps.

In honor of this momentous occasion, I would like to take the opportunity to reproduce here the best Envoy Magazine "At Ease" feature ever, since this one, for whatever reason, is nowhere to be found on their website. If they have a problem with me typing it up and sharing it, they're welcome to email me. But really, it's too good not to be on the internet.

So, without further ado, here it is, in its entirety:

CONTACT: Jackie Navarro-Valls IV, (212) 555-1173

Vatican City, Aug. 15, 2141 (ENS) White smoke rose above the ancient rooftops of the Vatican today, signaling the election of the first American pope. Stanislaw Cardinal Koslowski has begun a new life, as Pope John Paul V. If his tenure as Archbishop of Chicago is any indication, he will be a tough-minded, street-smart pontiff who won't mince words when tackling tough issues.

Like his predecessors on the Throne of Peter, Koslowski is know as a staunch defender of Pope John Paul the Great's 1994 declaration that the sacrament of holy orders is reserved to men (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis). Koslowski's Chicago-style bluntness in dealing with radical feminists and liturgical innovators was showcased dramatically when, in his first month as Archbishop, he issued his one-page pastoral letter, You Got a Problem With That?, condemning liturgical abuses, reinstating the mandatory use of communion rails, and formally abolishing several contemporary liturgical songs, calling them "dumb, stupid, I'd rather listen to a traffic jam."

A source close to the new pontiff has told us that, in the year prior to his unexpected election to the papacy, Koslowski had drafted fifteen new pastoral letters for the Archdiocese of Chicago. The source said that one of the pontiff's first actions will be to revise those pastoral letters into papal documents for the entire Catholic Church. We were provided with a list of the new documents we may expect to see from the Holy Father in the near future:

Tu Et Quis Exercitus? (You And What Army?) Encyclical laying out the pope's reaction to media reports suggesting he might be pressured to abandon his support for the Church's traditional opposition to abortion.

Amen Amen Dico Vobis; Nihil Muliebrium Sacerdotum (Read My Lips: No Women Priests) Encyclical asking radical Catholic feminists what part of Pope John Paul the Great's Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (on the reservation of holy orders to men alone) they don't understand.

Rursus Dicam: Nullo Modo (I'll Say It Again: No Way) Encyclical explaining the pope's position on women priests even more plainly.

Fac Ut Tui Meis Loquantur (Have Your People Talk To My People) A apostolic exhortation to the editors of Envoy magazine, expressing the pontiff's exasperation over their incessant requests to "do lunch" with him sometime.

Haec Res Est, Conveniamus Optime Vel Exite (That's The Deal, Take It Or Leave It) Encyclical explaining that priestly celibacy in the Latin Rite is a non-negotiable job requirement, and tat the only dame he'd better ever find in any rectory after 6:00pm had better be over sixty-five with a dishrag in her hand.

Aio, Tibi Dico (Yeah, I'm Talking To You) An apostolic letter reminding dissident liturgists to obey the liturgical reforms decreed by Vatican III, which forbade the liturgical use of felt banners, tacky guitar hymns, or using the phrase "we are church."

Soli Rationi Fides (Blind Faith In Reason) An encyclical explaining the fundamental intellectual silliness of atheism.

Non Solum Balaenas Sed Primum Prenatos Liberos Serva (Save The Whales, But Save The Unborn Babies First) Encyclical asking humanity to respect God's gift of nature, and inviting the world's "animal rights" activists to extend their corporal works of mercy to include mammals of the human variety.

Da Mihi Quinque! (Give Me Five!) Apostolic letter announcing with great joy the doubling in twenty-five years the number of ordinations and seminarians worldwide.

Splendor Coquinae Poloniae (The Splendor Of Polish Cooking) encyclical explaining that the pope doesn't necessarily have anything against the traditional cuisine of Rome. He, like one of his more famous predecessors, just likes a little pierogi now and then.

Matrimonium Primum Est DEINDE Liberi (It's Marriage First, THEN Children) An apostolic exhortation to young people about the sanctity and duties of the married state.

Lege, Mehercle, Librum (Read The Book For Crying Out Loud) Encyclical directing the faithful to open the family Bible beyond the page where you write down everybody's birthday.

Nonnumquam Vos Facis Ut Tumescear (Sometimes, You People Really Tick Me Off) Encyclical reaffirming Catholic teaching on birth control and the sanctity of human life in response to yet another effort by the United Nations to push contraceptives, abortion, and euthanasia in the Third World.

Quid Nunc Quaerunt? (Now What Do They Want?) An apostolic exhortation to the editors of Envoy magazine, admonishing them to stop asking the pope for a promotional blurb and to stop dropping by tea Apostolic Palace just because they "happen to be in the neighborhood."

Me Esse, Credo Papam (No, Excuse Me, I believe I'm The Pope) Encyclical reiterating the absolute primacy of the papal and episcopal magisterium in matters of doctrine; and condemning various theological errors propounded by dissenting theologians.

-Envoy magazine, Nov/Dec 1999
Web Discoveries of the Past Week

Learn Byzantine Chant

Create a Post-it mosaic of Elvis

Strong Bad's Bottom 10

Sunday, July 17


So, Well, Thanks for Everything

Now, I'm not into telling Baptists how to run their ecclesial communities...

But surely, this is not how to do it.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has amended its stated purpose from this:

To bring Baptists together "in order that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be spread throughout the world in glad obedience to the Great Commission."

To this:

Our purpose is "to serve Christians and churches [sic] as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission."

I'm also not one to often agree with the Southern Baptists, but I do: "This represents the eclipse of Christ," as the article states.

As much as I have historically resisted the idea, it seems that increasingly the major divide in Christianity is no longer "Catholic vs. Protestant," but rather those who are entrhalled with and dependant upon the person of Jesus Christ and those who think the man's a fine inspiration for, well, whatever it is that they discover their God-given mission to be.
Responding to Don Jim's Bedside Meme, even though I wasn't tagged.

Like the good Fr. Tucker, I sleep alone and I too have two nightstands. On the Gospel side, where I do most of my sleeping, is a clock, a black Sharpie marker, a disconnected phone and a copy of Umberto Eco's How to Travel with a Salmon and Other Essays. Most of the other "night-table" books are on the floor: Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice, P.J. O'Rourke's Peace Kills, a book entitled Revision: A Creative Approach to Writing and Rewriting Fiction, an encyclopedia of Jewish folklore, and a translation of Rabbi Scholem's 1960 work Zur Kabbala und ihrer Symbolik, which I'd forgotten I even had checked out of the library and really have no interest in reading at present. There's also a wadded-up polo shirt.

On the righ hand (Epistle side) is another alarm clock, and on the floor are a bunch of crumpled architectural drawings and a defrosted cube refrigerator not plugged into anything. There's also a rolled-up poster of Dalí's Christ of St. John of the Cross In front of my bed is a pile of books including a pocket guide to baroque sculpture, an outdated guide to literary contests, a book entitled Be Your Own Literary Agent which I have not read, books on Filippo Juvarra and Rome's churches, cases from DVDs of a Tridentine church dedication service and an Anglican Use Mass from Our Lady of Walsingham, and a bound copy of Liturgical Arts Quarterly from 1936. Incidentally, I have a copy of the Book of Divine Worship on my coffee table and an Irvingite Breviary, and on my computer desk are copies of a historical travelogue about the Turkish hatmaking industry, Blessed Juliana of Norwich's Showings, an icon of the Trinity, a DVD of Northern Exposure, a CD of St. Hildegard of Bingen, and a German book on reliquaries.

To be honest, I don't really actually read many of the things near my bedside table; most of my actual reading goes on at lunch on workdays, or on weekends at my desk or on the couch. The stuff in my bedroom sort of migrates there after I lose interest or get done with it.

Now, Emily, Andy, Ithkul, Dan and Brian, let's hear about your bedsides!
"Madness--pazi ta design za potencialno slovensko ambasado v Washingtonu by 'Catholic Nerds' at the University of Notre Dame"!

The Slovenes have found out about my embassy. It's getting rather mixed results, more as a result of the extravagant style (someone asks if Mad King Ludwig has come back to life!) rather than the elaborate historical iconographic program. That being said I'm astonished it's held up as well as it has considering how little info on the nation I was able to get my hands on when I designed it. In real life, I would have done something smaller and cheaper, but when you're doing a theoretical thing with no budget, you really want to pull out all the stops.

For the record, the Ambassador thought it was pretty cool, and very Slovenian, though he didn't have time to look at it chamber-by-chamber, of course.

Update: Disturbing news about the mysterious lack of grape-juice in Slovenia.
I have in my possession, Farewell, Hecate, a long-lost poem of T.S. Eliot dated probably to 1926. It was discovered stuffed and folded under a wobbly table-leg in a Victorian mansion formerly owned by Goodnight Moon authoress Margaret Wise Brown. This radical new discovery will certainly overturn all previous Goodnight Moon scholarship, which prefers to omit the clearly mythic overtones in favor of a Marxist interpretation which sees the room full of the implements of bourgeois life as an indictment of the materialization of childhood. It also means Mrs. Wise Brown evidently stole the idea for her famous work from Eliot, a shocking and perhaps even unsettling idea in this already uncertain age.

It may well be, however, that Margaret intended her work as a sort of gloss for young readers, and the title page of the original draft copy was eaten by her nephew Tommy at some point in the publication process. A small but vocal faction of Moonists, led by Graham Hancock and Michel Baigent, tend to see Margaret Wise Brown as the pen name of a group of time-travelling Albanians attempting to ascribe the poem to Flannery O'Connor through a series of Baconian cryptograms which ultimately fail since they mistook the book title
Wise Blood for Wise Brown.

There is some small doubt as to the authorship. The original manuscript is written partially in crayon on a children's menu from the Drones Club, with a crude caricature of W.H. Auden and Baron Corvo on the verso as well as something labelled "Mr. Sun" over a boxy-looking house with a triangular roof which may in fact be Westminster Abbey. A small feminist faction in the academy has preferred to see this as the work of T.S. Eliot's niece Tess Eliot, suggesting the T.S. at the top may be a misspelling; or the two letters may have been lost through the smudge from the blotchy Hawaiian punch stain in the upper corner. Surely, a close examination of the new poem will prove to even the most feeble-minded reader that this could not be the work of a six-year-old.

Farewell, Hecate
by T.S. Eliot

Fac me cocleario vomere.
—Gummo Pound, Ezra’s brother.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the night is spread across the sky,
Like a kindergartener who’s been finally put to bed
Amid the screams and counter-screams,
Let us go then, to the cupboard and pick up certain half-deserted rubber sheets,
The muttering retreats,
Of restless nights since Ronald’s still not been toilet-trained
Despite what that worthless shrink has claimed,
(And yet he is almost four)
Making a Freudian argument of tedious intent
To lead to the overwhelming childlike question:
O Madame Porter, don’t say hush:
Let us sit and eat our mush.

In the chamber, green, and great,
Blazing like the burnished throne in which she sat
By the burning light of sea-wood fed with copper
Orange and melusinate ultramarine,
Therein sat une téléphone,
Strange device of disembodied
Song and dance of long-distance solicitations
(London to Paris, through the crackling static, for Monsieur Eugenides,
His pockets stuffed with rotting dates).
So rudely forced upon an unsuspecting world
And then the balloon,
The lurid latex globe as fire-engine scarlet as the blood of soldiers
As the blood of Philomel the nightingale,
Singing outside the convent of the Sacred Heart—O ces voix!
Singing jug jug twit twit say no more say no more to dirty ears.

And hanging upon the plastered wall, peeling and laconic
Amid the lurid likely prints
One expects to find in half-forgotten oyster bars
Smelling of sea and urination,
The image of the cow that jumped over the moon—
Io enthroned great and horn’d in the heavens.
And there they sat,
Three little bears in three little chairs
(I can’t help it, one said, she of the long face,
As they came and went talking of time and kittens, mice and space)
And out from one corner peeped, like a wingèd cupidon
The young mouse,
And the tiny doll-house, so very old
Within like a cabinet of curiosity,
Filled with Ionian white and gold.

And the moon shone bright on old Mrs. Porter
And her daughter,
With comb, with brush, with soda water.
Eating barley tonic mush sent c.i.f.
Tasting of brown river water, the stink of tar,
And the lounging memory of fishermen at noon.

Farewell, O room
Farewell, O moon—
Great Diana, Hecate’s twin set in blinding white beauty among the
Heavens, both terrible and merciful with the amoral pagan beauty
Of natural thunders and multifoliate wonder—
Farewell, hornèd Io over the heavens—
Farewell bears, Ursa major, ursa minor,
Banished to the skies by an angry myth,
Farewell light and lurid balloon, O unnatural sun.

(In the hallway, women stay,
Talking of their curds and whey).

Farewell, forever, O mittens and kittens,
Drowned in the Thames near Tower Bridged
Where the nymphs have fled.
Farewell, farewell, socks and clocks,
That mark off with insistent moments the time we spend,
Precious as the blood of a red balloon,
Farewell, O slimy rat with dragging belly,
Sickly mouse
And farewell, Ibsen’s great doll house.
Farewell, nobody, Odysseus’s lie.


Farewell mush,
Farewell stars,
Argus-eyed and ominous,
Farewell ær,
Farewell o you fearful noises everywhere:
Weialala leia
Wallala leialala,
As we sneak with Junior sleeping at last
Down to Oxford on a purple barge.
I thought I heard a dying fall.
Why then Ile fit you. Maurice Sendak’s mad againe
Dayadhvam. Damyata.
Shantih shantih shantih.

Saturday, July 16


You Are Incredibly Logical

(You got 100% of the questions right)

Move over Spock - you're the new master of logic
You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.
A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!

How Logical Are You?

Friday, July 15


That is One of the Most P.O.D. Things I've Ever Seen..

Whatever's on those candles, I've never seen anything like them before. Are they relics? What are they?

Does anyone know?

Have a penitential Friday!

Thursday, July 14


In case anyone is interested,

Crisis is offering $10 subscriptions for the next week.

Wednesday, July 13


Je Ne Suis Pas Celebrer

Who is least likely to be celebrating Bastile Day?

My nominations:
5. Joan of Arc
4. Fr. Nicholas Gruner
3. This Guy
Henri, Comte de Paris, Duc de France
And finally, perhaps least likely to be celebrating Bastile Day,
1. Institut du Jesus-Christ Roi Souverain Pretre

Image Credit goes to The Book of Days, which has a very interesting write up on the actual Man in the Iron Mask for July 14's entry.

An Appeal to Her Majesty the Queen

This I did not know, but apparently Queen Elizabeth still has some actual authority to govern up her sleeve.

The Queen can, I guess, block legislation in Canada by refusing to allow the Governor to grant royal assent once a bill is passed.

A Methodist minister in Canada is pleading the Queen to do just that with regard to same-sex marriages:

"Our beloved Queen Elizabeth II, I know that the refusal of the Governor General to give royal consent would precipitate a crisis. Millions have nowhere else to turn but you,'' Mainse wrote in a letter he sent last week to Buckingham Palace.

"Should you act in this, millions of us would surely become more fervent supporters of the monarchy than ever,'' he wrote.

(read the rest here)

A crisis is true: I imagine that if the Queen actually did interfere with such a hot-button issue, the days of a Republican Canada would not be far off. And I can't say that I really think her interference is likely, as it seems to be the Queen has not sought to garner political clout much at all during her reign. I imagine nothing will come of this, but it was interesting to hear that some European royals could (theoretically) do more than, well, sit around looking royal.


Things Have Been Busy

Things have been busy at the Shrine: We've held a public exorcism for Emily, began to canonize Dan...

Matt, don't feel left out:

I do believe I've had a vision of you regaling your presidential guests at the White House.

Afterall, the ecclesial pull of a saint is good, but can you imagine basking it the political power of the Presidency?

As Matt often reminds us, he is pro-opera and he votes!
Responses to London

My response to the bombings in London, as all of ours, I imagine, is that of the Holy Father -- the fervent offering of prayer for that consolation which only God can give.

Along with prayer, P.B. Griswold (presiding bishop of the ECUSA) also offered this admonition:

"The three Abrahamic faiths are called to be the servants of God's peace which embraces all people and alone can overcome the fears and hatreds that divide us and prevent us from regarding one another as God's beloved children. May all who call God Father and the Compassionate One be drawn together in a renewed commitment to peacemaking for the sake of God's world."

Now, I totally agree that I hope all who call God Father might be drawn together in peacemaking. I think most people do.

What I don't understand is his freedom of conscience to tell Muslims what their faith dictates.

Speaking simply on basis of my probable natural human reaction, if an imam in Cairo tried to tell me what Christianity was called to do, even if I agreed, my immediate psychological reaction would be: Who do you think you are?

Now, if an imam in Cairo gave interpretation of Christianity which I totally disagreed with, my natural psychological reaction would be: Who do you think you and your crackpot theories are? I've been studying this stuff for a decade trying to get it right, and you think that because you saw a Copt once or because the Koran says such-and-such, you understand Christianity and can speak in its name?

Now, grace and virtue might temper my reaction, but naturally, that is what it would be. Now, the one thing we all have in common with the moderate Muslims, or with Muslim suicide bombers, is, of course, our human nature. And so, I assume their natural reaction would be the same: totally unconvinced, and either annoyed or ticked off that you're trying to teach the expert a religion you don't even embrace.

So why do so many Westerners insist on telling Muslims what Islam is really about? Do they really think what they say will come across as credible to Muslims of any stripe?

Do you have Prince Albert in a Can?

The devotion to the Five Wounds of Jesus often contains a petition for "all Catholic kings and rulers."

Well, there's a new one here.

Prince Albert is, however, more of a playboy than a ruler: a few days ago, for example, news broke of his illegitimate child with a flight attendant. Nonetheless, Matt will enjoy the Prince's new coat of arms.

Failing French

I'm currently learning French, so this article caught my eye.

A Japanese governor has called French a "failed language," and he is being sued as a result.

While any Latinist would certainly consider French to be a disintegrated language, "failed" sounds harsh. But I have to agree with his reasoning: the number system.

Counting above 69 in French becomes very complicated: there is no word for 70, so one says "soixante dix," or "60-10," "60-11," or even more cumbersome, "soixant dix neuf," "60-10-9" for 79.

Eighty is even more confusing: it is read "quatre vingt," or "4 20." Thus, 88 become "4 20 8."

Ninety, however, takes the cake: "97" is "quatre vingt dix sept," or "4 20 10 7."

Apparently, this is vestigal of the Celtic numbering system, which was based not on 10 but 20. Therefore, the higher numbers are delineated by 20's, not 10's.

For the record, however, the problem is more with FRANCE than with the FRENCH LANGUAGE, because French-speakers in Belgium do, in fact, have words for 70, 80, and 90.

Tuesday, July 12

Rumblings in Anglicana

Apparently, all of Anglicanism doesn't ordain women bishops--yet. That was news to me.

But the real news is this: the discussion is up in the air, and 1/4 of the Anglican episcopate isn't happy about it.

I think that it is dishonest to ordain women to the priesthood and not to the episcopacy: if an ecclesial community believes that women can be granted the sacerdotal character, then to with-hold the fullness of that sacerdotal character from them (the episcopacy) is really to say that they are second-class Christians.

The Catholic Church, conversely, by clearly stating that women are not called to the sacerdotal fatherhood for the same reason that men are not called to biological maternity -- the simple reason that it is not according to our respective natures, or our respective natures as perfected by grace -- the Church by-passes the Modern notion that service=power and priesthood=POWER, the sort of power that crackles like blue lightening from one's fingertips. But once the sacerdotal character ceases to be a unique form of masculine paternity enabled by grace, and becomes simply the means by which authority is endowed, well, I think the Anglicans are up a creek without a paddle.

This hasn't stopped 800 traditional Anglicans from threatening to quit, should the ecclesial community opt to ordain women as bishops.

Amazingly, even if the Anglicans approve women bishops, many traditionalists will stay within the Communion if they are given a separate "male-only" province within the Communion... which makes me wonder: if a separate "male only" province would NOT recognize the legitimacy of women bishops... isn't the mutual recognition of orders a key component of any real "communion"?

I also wonder: should they ordain women, and 800 some clergy find themselves without an eccleisal structure, would Pope Benedict (now realizing that real ecumenism with the Anglican communion is extremely unlikely) act to create an Anglican Catholic Rite in communion with Rome, as we've discussed prior on this site?

Read more.
You Are 83% American
You're as American as red meat and shooting ranges.
Tough and independent, you think big.
You love everything about the US, wrong or right.
And anyone who criticizes your home better not do it in front of you!

How American Are You?


Greek Church Musicians to Hear New Chants

"While western churches argue over guitar and drums, Greek Orthodox parishes are still deciding whether an organ violates a sacred a capella tradition."


Eucharistic Procession in Notre Dame Magazine

Our Eucharistic Procession from this last April 16 was written up in the summer edition of Notre Dame alumni magazine.

Read the entry here.

I don't have a cell phone,

but if I did...

Sunday, July 10


Like a Lingering Fart...

... the EU Constitution lives on.

Somehow, a 56% majority in the tiny duchy of Luxemborg has "given new life" to a constitution whose authors promised it would dissapear if only one nation voted it down.

"Don't those plebes understand that if they misuse their democracy by blatantly rejecting what we prepare for them, we'll have to take it away?"

Not that the EU is patronizing, or anything...

Shrine Opens Cause for Founder's Canonization

PALOOKAVILLE, WI (AP)--The well-known Shrine of the Most Dolorous Holy Whapping of the Sacred Left Ankle of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Catholic Internet refuge, opened the cause of sainthood for its founder, Dan of the Holy Whapping.

"We've been contemplating this move for some time," reported Andrew of the Holy Whapping, grounds keeper and public contributer at the Shrine. "It's common knowledge that a religious organization in the Catholic Church really isn't anything until it's founder is canonized a Saint, or at very least Blessed."

"It's only natural that we would want to promote the Founder's cause."

The move, however, faces obsticles, admits Shrine Inquisitor, Nino de Guevara. "Typically, the Vatican prefers sainthood candidates to be, well, deceased. Admittledly, the Founder is very much alive: but I don't think we should box-in the Divine Will. With God, all things are possible."

"Besides, 'Servant of God'-status should be a cinch. No miracles necesary, little invetigative reporting... With appropriate episcopal backing, it's a shoe-in."

Critics, however, question the Whapters' motives. "Frankly, it all sounds like some guy trying to canonize his roommate," says Cptn. Nofun, retired Army chaplin. "I think they're just in it for the book deals and good seats at the ceremony."

Saturday, July 9


An Embassy for the Republic of Slovenia in Washington DC, Street and Garden Facades, project by Matthew Alderman, Spring 2005, University of Notre Dame.

This hypothetical design for a Central European nation's embassy is an essay in depicting, describing, and in some sense constructing, nationhood. Slovenia is a young nation with, nonetheless, a long history. While the Eastern European National Romantic movement of the late belle-epoque largely bypassed Slovenia, it served as a model of how to marshall Slovenia's forgotten and sometimes conflicting pasts into something both modern and timeless. The design of this embassy draws on various regional architectures of the country--the Germanic palaces of the dark, forested northern borderlands, the Venetian architecture of the Istrian coast and the Baroque and florid art nouveau of Ljubjana, its centrally-placed capital to create a truly national style. Each represents a crucial time-period in the development of the independence of Slovenia's life of the mind, of her language and her art.

First Floor Plan, with door-frame detail from the Hall of Venus, or Library. The Hall of Venus derives its name from an elaborate chivalric pageant held in the thirteenth century by the Slovenian-speaking dukes of Spannheim, where a symbolic tableau held showed authority bowing to poetry in the form of a figure representing Venus.

An iconographic fresco cycle draws the viewer retrogressively backward through the country's past as he moves through the embassy floorplan, taking him from modern Slovenia with its representative democracy and ties to America, through periods of national revival and national oppression under German rulers and Turkish janissaries back to its distant elemental agrarian roots as a tribal republic under the sixth-century dukes of Karantania, whose election rites so fascinated Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (later Pius II) and the founders of the American republic.

Side facade showing change in grade elevation, rear ballroom and garden wall. The wooden architecture reflects Slovenia's rustic, pastoral antiquity, while the peasant's hat above the coat of arms in the upper left corner is a decorative device repeated throughout the building, a local symbol which in the fresco cycle devised for the embassy, serves to parallel the liberty cap of other nations.

The Slovenian embassy re-enacts and codifies Slovenia's past and at the same time expresses her commitment through time to the values that both she and America hold dear, serving as a beacon of both her proud and unique history and at the same time the universality of her democratic beliefs.

For larger versions of these images, go to Slovenia 1, Slovenia 2, and Slovenia 3. They will also be published in the 2005 Notre Dame School of Architecture student retrospective, Acroterion.

Friday, July 8

Vatican Publishes Index!

No, not that Index. This is the "Index of Universities and Institutes of Superior Instruction of the Catholic Church." John Allen talks about it in today's Word from Rome.

It includes an interesting synopsis of the discussion of Catholic Identity at Catholic schools.

The Vatican suggests these benchmarks:
- Concern for social justice
- Sacramental and devotional life
- Curriculum -- are theology and the Christian tradition core elements?
- Percentage of Catholics among faculty, trustees, and staff
- Religious and doctrinal attitudes of students over time
- Practice of the faith -- do students pray, go to Mass, express an interest in religious vocations, etc.?

Umm... Emily?

Is there something you've been meaning to tell us?

Thursday, July 7

Fellow language nerds will appreciate the Carnival of Etymologies featured regularly at Done With Mirrors. This week, 'olympic,' 'supreme,' and 'zombie,' among others.

(via Fr. Tucker)


Cafepress could be one of the most fascinating sites of the Web: anyone who thinks they're witty can just go ahead, and sell a shirt. And even if only one shirt sells, it's still economical! It's the ideal example of what my marketing classes called "Mass customization," which is, by the way, the latest buzz-word in business.

While surfing along, I found this shirt, which made me realize: One thing that's always amused me is when extremist Muslims call Christians "infidels."

Infidel means "unfaithful."

What religion was abandoned by whom? None of MY anscestors were Muslim... can (at least coastal) Arab Muslims say the converse?

Wednesday, July 6

Well, Amy Welborn has blogged so much that this five-day-old post has already dropped off the front page (a problem we'll never have around here), but I think I'll comment on it anyway, since the conversation is so interesting.

It seems the Bishop of Phoenix is going back to the original order for receiving the Sacraments: Baptism, First Reconciliation, Confirmation, then First Communion. Now, I'm no sacramental theologian, so I'll leave it to others to get into the why of this one, aside from noting that we have an ancient historical basis for doing it in this order.

What does interest me, on the other hand, is people's objections to going back to the original order. They seem to be as follows: A) Change will cause more problems than it will solve, B) children at this age aren't mature enough to make a decision for the Faith, C) We'll never get them back in religious ed once they're Confirmed.
All of these strike me as being rather lame once you get down to it, and here's why:

A)Change will cause more problems than it will solve. If it takes a change to truly bring about the right order of things, then it will sort itself out in the long term, even if there is confusion in the short term. Good catechesis will asist greatly in this, and you may actually have people (*gasp*) understanding something about the Sacraments when all's said and done.

B) Children at this age aren't mature enough to make a decision for the Faith. On the contrary, I think that children often see things more clearly than high-schoolers do, especially where moral matters are concerned. Also, it's important to remember that the graces conveyed in this Sacrament are very real, and give a child the strength he needs to live out a Christian life in today's culture, which is attacking them at a younger and younger age. They're at the age of reason, and if they're old enough to sin, they're old enough to make right decisions, too.

C) We'll never get them back in religious ed once they're Confirmed. Now this is the one I really find interesting, because it belies so many of our assumptions about religious education. If the Sacraments are the proverbial "carrot on the stick" to get people into church, we've got much, much bigger problems. In my experience, the people who are only there because they need to get this stamp in their Catholic passport only do the minimum and don't really learn anything, anyway. We have to remember that a child's religious education at their parish is only maybe 2 hours a week; and they're going to fill the other 166 with something. If the Faith isn't a part of their everyday life, those two hours (with rare exceptions) are going in one ear and out the other.

If the parents are fullfilling their marriage vows and taking the responsibility for raising their children in the Faith, on the other hand, they will be bringing their kids in for religious ed anyway (unless, of course, the program is as woefully inadequate as many are, and thus a waste of their child's time).

The fact of the matter is, it isn't really the parishes responsibility to raise these children in the Faith; it's the parents'. Now the parish can offer support through CCD classes, VBS, and whatever else, but if the parish is trying to do all the work, it shows. Even with great resources, dynamic catechists, and full-color workbooks, a parish's efforts can never replace parents simply living out their faith on a daily basis.

Monday, July 4

Nobody Calling on the Phone...

Mrs. Vaughan recently quizzed her class: "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?"

"Is God your real name?" - Jake

"Will I meet George Washington and Elvis in Heaven?" - Cullen

"Why did you make Poison Ivy?" - Alex

"Can we still visit Earth after we're in Heaven?" - Joey

So: What would you ask? Myself, I have to give it more thought.

St. Thomas Aquinas, given the same opportunity, asked "Am I in a state of mortal sin?"

Some Good News on the Fourth of July

I firmly believe that human trafficking/sex slavery, and the pornography or prostitution which pays for it, is by far the greatest evil of our day, much worse than any other evil which afflicts our world today.

"JESUS CHRIST said to His disciples, 'Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard!" (Luke xvii. 1-3)

US police have broken up two human trafficking rings which smuggled hundreds of South Korean women into California to work as prostitutes.

"The police arrested about 50 people and are questioning around 150 women after taking them into protective custody.

The women were working in dozens of brothels disguised as acupuncture clinics and massage parlours in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

This type of criminal organisation exploits the hopes and dreams of immigrants," said US attorney Debra Wong Yang at a press conference in Los Angeles.

This could be one of the largest human trafficking cases prosecuted in the US.

The women were reportedly charged $16,000 to be smuggled into the US.

They were repaying their debts by working as prostitutes and giving their earnings to the ring.


Those arrested have been charged with conspiracy to harbour illegal aliens for prostitution and transporting them across state lines, as well as money laundering and sex trafficking.

The two rings operated separately, one in San Francisco and one in southern California.

But investigators believe the ringleaders knew each other and were lending each other some of the workers.

"If they needed a couple of extra women in San Francisco, the (Los Angeles) ring would send them up," said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the US attorney's office in Los Angeles.

Some of the women are believed to have entered the country through the Mexican and Canadian borders, while others used illegally obtained tourist visas.


Should Catholics Marry?

Civilly, I mean.

Spain, Canada, the Netherlands, and, um, I think it's Belgium, have all legalized same-sex marriage. No, more than that: They have all re-defined marriage such that there is no difference between marriage and homosexual union.

I was listening to Catholic Radio today, and the question arose:

If marriage is re-defined in this way, can Catholics really get married by the state?

By entering the same union used by homosexual partners, the Catholic couple risks saying: "What we are doing is equivalent to what a homosexual couple does." And of course, that is not what we believe: therefore, should Catholics boycott civil marriage?

I'm not sure what to think about the proposal. On the one hand, states which radically alter the definition of marriage have effectively botched their obligation to govern marriage. Therefore, if a critical mass of Christians (Catholics, Baptists, Evangelicals...) refused to have anything to do with re-defined marriage, the state would in practice lose its practical oversight of holy matrimony.

I'm generally suspicious of moves to remove the government's oversight from marriage, however. Marriage is not a private affair! It is the cornerstone of society, literally, because society is born and raised in individual families. Therefore, if a goverment is intended to govern society, it must protect and govern families (family=society). Philosophically, it's a slam-dunk: the government should have a role in family law.

Practically, the government that redefines marriage to include homosexual union is no longer doing anything to protect or govern marriage: They no longer prevent birth control, they no longer prevent divorce in any meaningful way, they no longer prevent more than one marriage, they no longer limit marriage to man and woman, and in doing that, no longer require that adoptions take place in the context of a family. So, what does the government really DO for marriage anymore, anyway?

Hmm... Thoughts?

Sunday, July 3

Another Day, Another Sea-borne Ordination

According to In Pectore, another old lady went through ordination on a boat, in France.

THIS TIME, however, she was ordained... by herself.

I am amazed only at theological stupidity, powerlessness, and irrelevance of a "self-ordination."

And again, why is this always done on a boat?


Those aging women stuck in the 70's (look at that logo!), the National Organization for Women, have a very spiffy form all set up, so that anyone can enter their state and their email address into a form like this and a message demanding a pro-abortion replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will automatically be sent to the person's senators.

PEOPLE! We need one of these! Is there anyone out there in the Pro-Life blogosphere equipped to construct and disseminate a similar system?

Just as important as acting, however, is


to make our actions efficacious. All we really need is a Justice who will remove the abortion issue to the public realm, legislature, where it belongs.

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you... For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
(Matt xi. 30)

This verse just made me think of those Protestants who denounce the "yoke of the Papacy" as some awful burden thrust upon Catholics, oppressing us and violating some sort of "freedom of the Christian."

Good God, is that not the case.

Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero as Pope?

No, actualy, it's just Mr. Bean. While the Mr. Bean does bear a remarkable resemblance to José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the difference is that Mr. Bean's antics are funny.

Saturday, July 2



In a comment box below, a reader noted:
"I was under the impression that Mass vestments were merely stylized versions of late Roman-Empire Sunday best. All the symbolical interpretations, while lovely in their way, are rationalizations from a much later period."

The obvious implication here is that this makes the insights gained from meditative reflection on pre-existing objects somehow less... valid?

Obviously, some vestments (such as the stole) were chosen and maintained for a specific symbolism since inception, because they were not normal Roman garb. However, in other cases (such as the chausable), they were simply maintained (not chosen) for the symbolism which they came to represent.

I have to say: that's really not a Catholic mindset! Many moderns have this idea that only a causal scenario can produce valid significance: that is, that a vestment (for example) had to be chose BECAUSE of a pre-determined symbolism, and that symbolism determined later would be somehow "false."

Not only is this not the way we approach, say, the symbolism of vestments, but it is not the way we approach Jesus Christ Himself.

Can it be said that the all meditative (and edifying!) ways in which we regard Jesus Christ, or all the symbolism we apply to Mary from the Old Testament, even in the most official Catholic prayers, were in any real way the intent of the original Biblical author? Highly doubtful.

Yet this form of theology is entirely legitimate, dating back to the Syriac Christians contemporary with St. John the Apostle. Theology done through the retro-spective assignment of symbolic meaning completely predates theology done with philosophical terms (where causal analysis would, in fact, be employed).

Some medieval monks, as they constructed an abbey in the 10th century or so, wrote a book on the "meaning" of the aspects of the church building. The brick mortar, they said, symbolized God's love because it took ordinary "stuff" (like us) and, with the addition of water (God's grace), it erupted into heat and ended in strength.

Obviously, the monks did not start using mortar because of this meaning: it is certainly what the brick mortar meant, but that symbolism was discerned after they started using it.

And, again, as evidenced by the way that pre-existing Old Testament imagery (which its authors seldom would have intended to refer to Christ) was used to shape our entire early-Church understanding of Jesus and Mary, that is the oldest way of doing Catholic theology.

(Although, there is this much of a "causal relationship": after the meanings for Old Testament types of Mary or Christ, or meanings of vestments, were discerned, these verses and vestments were maintained (at least in part) because of the symbolism which they came to represent, establishing, in this sense, a causal relationship between their symbolism and continued institution. But again, scratching around for a causal relationship is simply not necesary for credible theology done in this sense.)
Take the MIT Weblog Survey
Kind of an amusing survey. I'm really curious how it takes your blog address and pulls 5 random links from it.

Friday, July 1

No surprises here, but a fun quiz nonetheless...

You scored as Roman Catholic. You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic


Neo orthodox


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan






Classical Liberal


Reformed Evangelical




Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with
(via But I Digress...)
I've been waiting for this day for a long time...

Fr. John Jenkins, CSC, takes over as Notre Dame president

"Jenkins said the Catholic character should permeate every part of life at Notre Dame, whether it is studying religion, literature or technology.

"At Notre Dame you can have conversations that bring in faith and morality as well as the kind of technical or scientific or intellectual issues in an integrated away," he said. "We are really distinctive in that and it's a tremendous contribution we can make to society and the world."

The approach also can cause controversy, as Malloy discovered when he allowed "The Vagina Monologues" and a Queer Film Festival on campus. The decision, which Malloy never discussed publicly, drew criticism from Bishop John D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese and others. Supporters argued that academic freedom is necessary on a college campus, even a Catholic college campus.

Jenkins said he's prepared for criticism as he puts his stamp on the university."

Fr. Tucker blogs on a pet peeve that's also near and dear to my heart:
... many of the good Catholics who are sprinkling their conversation, their blogs, and even their dead-tree journalism with Latin really don't know what they're doing.
...I pray, though, to Blessed Vergilius Maro that non-Latinists would prudently think twice before they write Latin and make sure that they're correct before exposing their words to the world.
As a friend once put it, tongue-in-cheek, "Emily, you idiot, you're spending all this time and effort on a Latin major, and look at all these people who can do Latin without studying!"
A reader recently commented:
I had a vague notion that all the vestments mean something and are all meant to be there, but come to think of it I realize I don't actually know.
Coincidentally, I just got finished writing a short section on this very subject for work, so here it is, modified a bit for a non-K-6 audience:
Alb - The alb represents that our souls are washed clean at Baptism. Any baptized Christian may wear the alb.

Cincture - Over the alb, the priest or deacon wears a cord called a cincture around his waist. It represents the virtue of chastity, and is usually white. If the alb has a waistband, the cincture is not required.

Amice - The amice is a rectangular piece of fabric with ties on each end. The fabric is tucked in around the collar of the alb and the ties are crossed in front and tied. The amice represents the helmet of salvation. One doesn't see this terribly often anymore, but the rubrics still require it if the alb does not cover one's street clothes at the neck.

Stole - The stole is a long piece of cloth in the liturgical color of the day. It represents the authority that the priest or deacon received in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. A deacon wears the stole over one shoulder and fastened at the waist on the opposite side. A priest wears the stole over his neck, with both ends hanging down in front, either crossed or straight down.

Chasuble - The chasuble is worn only by the priest. It is also the liturgical color of the day, and often elaborately decorated. The chasuble symbolizes charity, which is the greatest of virtues; thus, it is worn on top of all the other vestments.
For more detailed information on the symbolism of the vestments, I recommend Fr. Tucker's archives (click this link, then scroll up a couple lines). Catholic Encyclopedia also has good information on the history of each piece.
A New Look

Due to problems people are having viewing our blog in Internet Explorer, the blog is being redesigned by a fellow Domer (his blog, Omnia Catholica, can be found on the side bar!).

If you have any suggestions as to what should be RETAINED or CHANGED in our blog's template or appearance, please, put your input in the comment box here!

Wednesday, June 29

Well, the boys nearly burnt the blog down when I was gone, but, armed with my brand spankin' new Lappy 486 (or something like that), I'm ready to get blogging again! So, without further ado, I think I'll start by answering Mike's book meme from awhile back, just to prove to him that I actually do read his blog.

1.Total Number of Books I Own

I'm going to take a wild guess and say around 400, although I keep finding boxes full of them when I least expect it.
2.The Last Book I Bought

A vintage copy of The Year and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it's a 1956 book full of POD things to do with your kids throughout the liturgical year.

3.The Last Book I Read

I tend to have more than one going at once, so I'll just list this summer's notable reads:
The Man Who Was Thursday
In This House of Brede
The Cube and the Cathedral
4. Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me (in no particular order, and not counting Scripture)

The Lord of the Rings These were the first books that made me scared, that made me cry, and that showed me what a Catholic aesthetic sense was all about. I could go on, but I imagine most people here know exactly what I'm talking about without my saying it.

The Liturgy of the Hours This might be cheating (somewhere along the Scripture line), but my breviary has traveled alongside of me off and on for a long time now, and it always seems to offer some sanity and comfort even just by having it around. It represents the universality and timelessness of the Church to me in alot of ways, and as such, is kind of the warm blanky of my books. Also, carrying it around is a rather obvious visible sign of my Catholic Nerd credentials, which has led to one or two interesting meetings.

Fides et Ratio I read this encyclical once in high school, and have been assigned it 3 or 4 times in college so far. The idea that Faith needs to safeguard Reason as much as Reason needs to defend Faith has always stuck with me.

A Treasury of the Familiar This is a WWII-vintage book of poems, speeches, and quotes that we had in my house when I was growing up. It was one of those big, cozy, old-smelling hardcovers, and I have fond memories of curling up with it and reading Longfellow and Shakespeare.

Goodnight Moon If you don't understand immediately why I chose this one, you never will.

Theo of the Body should be in here, too, as the book that has probably most influenced my thought in my adult life, but I don't know if I can count it, since I haven't actually read most of it.
5. Tag five people, and have them do this on their blog. Well, since this meme has pretty well made the rounds, I'll stick to people I know:
Katie, Holly, Ben, Jess, and Joseph, you're it!

Tuesday, June 28

Reader Bleg

I assume that means "blog beg." Anyway.

We at the Shrine recieved the following email:
I will be teaching religion at our new Catholic high school this fall, despite my lack of qualifications to do so. (mild exaggeration) I am curious as to how many of you graduated from Catholic high schools, and what you considered the most valuable parts of your experiences there. And if you remember the texts you used in your Church history classes, that would be even better. :-) I get to pick what the juniors will read, and am somewhat torn between several options. I would be interested to hear your input and appreciate any responses I receive from you all. Any "things I read in high school that helped deepen my faith" ideas would also be most welcome.
I did not attend Catholic school until I got to Notre Dame, and frankly I think my faith was the better for it -- only because I saw what our local Catholic high school turned out: Lots of kids who, as I've said before, "Know the color of the smoke which announces a knew pope, but seem to have infinitely more skepticism towards the Church than they have love for Christ."

So I would emphasize that any school program should somehow facilitate
1) A true reverence for Christ, so that rather than being a reliable punchline, Catholic identity really is Christocentric. This reverence should really extend to the way the history of the Church is presented, to how the Divine Person of Christ is regarded in conversation, to a palpable reverence for the currentinstitution of the Church.
2) A real opportunity to encounter Christ as a living force. This really happens sacramentally, especially through Adoration and Confession. But in the classroom, the history of these practices, and the experience and writings of the saints, could be studied and explained.

I remember the first time I saw someone take the Church seriously. That opened me up to take the Church seriously. I think that's the greatest witness that an adult can provide.

The books I read that made a difference for me in 8th grade were "Why do Catholics Do That?" and "Rome Sweet Home" by Scott Hahn: I needed basic formation in what Catholics believed and did, and I needed someone from outside to tell me that Catholicism was worth converting to. However, depending on how good the Catholic school, this may be totally unnecesary for individuals who have GONE to Catholic school.

I would recommend reading the original sources whenever possible. One of the greatest thrills I had in studying the Church on my own was the ability to look up conciliar documents written centuries ago and say "This is what they believed, and I believe it, too." These are not as hard to read as they might sound: I read a lot of the Council of Trent the summer before high school. So, if you're teaching history, try the original sources! The Councils, the Fathers, etc.

Anyone else?

Papa Bear..?

Looking for a cuddlier version of Catholicism? It's only 160 euros.

Sadly, there are no plans to extend the line to include a line of alternative garments, Vatican play-sets or spin-off collections of Curial greats.

Read more here.


The REAL FACTOR behind the conclave politics that led to the election of Joseph Ratzinger.

Your Plans for the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul

An Early Morning Solemn Angelus

In the rural, people say the 6:00am Angelus while kneeling outside under their garden trees. Having finished, they bow deeply and make the Sign of the Cross, believing the blessing of the Holy Father is carried by angels throughout the world to all who sincerely await it.

Using Articles of Devotion Blessed by the Pope or Any Bishop.

The faithful, who devoutly use an article of devotion (crucifix or cross, rosary. scapular or medal) blessed by the Sovereign Pontiff or by any Bishop gain a plenary indulgence on the feast of the Holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, provided they also make a profession of faith according to any legitimate formula. (n.35)

†Praying for the Pope
You weren't really going to let the feast of St. Peter pass without praying for Papa, were you? The faithful who recite this prayer on any day receive a partial indulgence. (n.39)

V. Let us pray for our Sovereign Pontiff, Benedict XVI.
R. The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

†Prayer to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul
While you're on your knees, a partial indulgence is granted any day for the following prayer. (n.53)

Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, intercede for us.
Guard your people, who rely on the patronage of your apostles Peter and Paul, O Lord, and keep them under your continual protection. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Thank you!

The Shrine is now fully armed and operational, thanks to the comment-box insights of Mary and Brian.

OK, now THIS is funny

I realize this is a tangent from our religious purpose, but this is funny. Recently, the Supreme Court decided that eminent domain extends to COMMERCIAL purposes, meaning that if the government believes that another PRIVATE ENTITY can use your property more wisely than you yourself can use your property, the government can take your property and give it the other individual/corporation/etc.

Although in practice this would be extremely rare, it is also (in my eyes) alarming. That monastery with 100's of acres on the outskirts of Springfield? Friar Tuck's Strip Mall.

Anyway, someone has decided to bring the unease which property-owners feel about this decision straight home to the Supreme Court: a private developer filed an application (fecitiously?) to use this very law to build a hotel over Justice Souter's home.

"The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America."



In case you didn't notice, our posts keep showing up BELOW the sidebar. Anyone know how we can fix this situation?


Today, Pope Benedict released the compendium of the Catholic Church. It is in question and answer format, and includes the following:

- 200 pages
- 598 Individual Questions
- 15 "works of art" (To call it "illustrated" is a stretch)
- Section on Doctrine
- Section on Liturgy
- Section on Morality
- Section on Prayer
- An appendix of "Catholic Numbers": 3 theological virtues, 7 deadly sins
- An appendix of the Latin texts of many traditional prayers, including the Sign of the Cross, the Gloria, the Hail Mary and Come, Holy Spirit, etc.

The Pope specifically requested that the faithful learn these prayers in Latin.

One cardinal mentioned that the Q&A's might "even be memorized." Here is a sample question:

Question 1: What is God's design for Man?
"God, infinitely perfect and blessed, in a design of pure goodness freely created man to have him participate in his blessed life. In the fullness of time, God the Father sent his Son as the redeemer and savior of men, who had fallen into sin, gathering them in his church and making them adopted sons by the work of the Holy Spirit and heirs of his eternal beatitude."

I am not sure how easily memorized that is. However:

Question 472: Why should society protect embryos?
"The inalienable right of every human individual, from the point of conception, is a constitutive element of civil society and its legislation."

A memorizable length, if not a memorizable vocabulary.

Biggest Dissapointment: Only the Italian edition was released. National bishops' conferences will be responsible for translating and publishing the text into other languages. Aside from not-exactly trusting the USCCB translating crew, this means that the Compendium will be held up in Bureacracy for quite some time.

Rumor has it that the Compendium's text will be released tomorrow.

In vaguely related news, when I did an GOOGLE search for a picture of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which I love, and agree with completely), I found THIS image, which suggests that, maybe, just maybe, the SSPX does have a sense of humor, afterall:

Monday, June 27


That's Nice

The Supreme Court delt a blow to those secularists (like the ones who removed the cross from LA's county seal or take "God" from the pledge) who insist that anything "religious" should touch the government like matter touches anti-matter.

Instead, the Court ruled:

"Simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the Establishment clause" of the Constituion, which prohibits the Establishment of a religion by the Government.

So, hopefully, this signifies a curtailing of the stupider attempts at total divorce between all Government and all Religion that has been on the rise lately.

So: Now you know! Don't let anyone tell you differently: Religious content in governmental structures IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

Thursday, June 23


Remember the "Danube Seven"?

In 2002, a group of seven women decided they would be ordained* into the Christian ministerial priesthood in a boat (?????) on the Danube river. You have to give them credit for knowing how to work PR: that nasty Catholic church, it might not be able to convince 90% of Europe to go to Mass on Sunday, but crap, apparently they forced us to perform our underground ceremony in international waters... um...

Anyway, BBC reports that they're back, present for the ordination of another woman.

Frankly, that's boring: the *interesting* part is that now the original seven women consider themselves to be BISHOPS. I wonder if they bothered to find someone in a mitre to go through the words, or if they gave themselves the promotion.

I also find it interesting that the very same group of people who usually argue in favor of women's ordination also argues that priests should only be ordained when needed, since somehow their "power" comes "from the community," so we shouldn't have priests who aren't pastors or bishops who aren't in charge of a diocese. Hmm.

*"Decided they would be ordained." This should sound ridiculous to you: "ordained" comes from "ordered" to service Christ by sharing in the responsibility and authority of His ministerial priesthood. And, YOU CAN'T ORDER YOURSELF, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR SOMETHING THAT IS NOT YOURS, OR GIVE YOURSELF AUTHORITY, no matter how nicely dressed-up the guy who is legitimating your fantasy might be.

Votes for Laymen!

This is the sort of power I like to see go to the laypeople: a national association of Catholic musicians is asking which religious songs have touched your lived experience of the liturgy. The pope can appoint his own bishops, thanks, and they can do their duty without my interference (as long as they... do it). But this, this is the sort of imput I'd like to have.

Other people have no problem campaigning for their presidential candidate, so I have no problem trying to sway your vote:

Vote for Schubert's Ave Maria! It's so good! Traditional (not transient), Biblical, and it passes the 50% test.*

And of course, in gratitude for these growing civil rights for lay Catholics, be civil!

Vote here.

*The 50% Test: If a piece of liturgical music makes more reference to the worhsipper than God Himself, the worshipper ceases and desists singing said piece of music.

Wednesday, June 22


Bonfires on the Birth of John the Baptist (June 24)

The birth of St. John is celebrated because, while not conceived without original sin as in the case of Mary, the Mother of God, still St. John was freed from original sin when Elizabeth heard the voice of Mary and John leapt in her whom. St. Augustine mentions this belief as a widespread conviction. (Sermo 292, 1; PL, 38, 1320)

The Seasons
Because of the summer solstice, the days begin to grow shorter and shorter after his birthday. The days after Christ's birthday, on the other hand, begin to lengthen. Hence John's statement about Jesus, "He must increase and I must decrease" (Jn. 3.30), is echoed in the cycle of the cosmos.

Door Decoration
Traditionally, doors in England were decorated with St. John’s Wort on this day (the flower is named after St. John because it blooms around the time of his feast).

John the Baptist was a true light that shone in the darkness. Christ Himself spoke in highest praise of His precursor: “I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.”

All across Europe, Christians adapted the former pagan summer festival of niedfyr (“need fires, lit to cleanse, cure, and prevent all kinds of disease, curses, and dangers) to honor St. John.

The fire is lit with a blessed candle. As it is lit, a poem in St. John's honor is sometimes red. The fire is blessed, usually the official blessing below. During the bonfire, traditional hymns in honor of St. John are sung, particularly the Ut Queant Laxis, which is, incidentally, the origin of "Do, Re, Me, Fa, So, La, Ti" (and, therefore, of all Western musical theory).

Blessing of the Bonfire (ROMAN RITUAL)
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.
Let us pray.
Lord God, almighty Father, the light that never fails and the source of all light, sanctify + this new fire, and grant that after the darkness of this life we may come unsullied to you who are light eternal; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.
The fire is sprinkled with holy water; after which the clergy and the people sing the hymn Ut queant laxis.
P: There was a man sent from God.
All: Whose name was John.
Let us pray.
God, who by reason of the birth of blessed John have made this day praiseworthy, give your people the grace of spiritual joy, and keep the hearts of your faithful fixed on the way that leads to everlasting salvation; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

St. Anthony's Day

Here's a picture of St. Anthony's shrine at our house, following the blessing of lilies we mentioned before.
Google Maps
Very cool.

Zoom all the way out, and move the cursor and you can zoom really close to just about anything--downtown Istanbul or the street my old house was on. I tried to find Osama, but no luck.

And yet, to me, also very freaky.

Another Latin-Mass Order

Archbishop Burke approved another Latin Mass order while in Wisconsin a few years ago, the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem.

Ironically, for anyone who knows the meaning of a "canon regular," the order moved with Archbishop Burke to St. Louis from LaCrosse, WI.

Has anyone encountered this community? How are they doing?

Intercession and Islam

The Catholic Monarchist has posted the alledgedly Turkish "Prayer against the Christians," supposedly captured by the King of Poland in 1683:

Eternal God and creator of all things, and thou O Mahomet his sacred and divine prophet. We beseech thee let us not dread the Christians, who are so mean and silly to rely on a crucified god. By the power of thy right hand, so strengthen ours that we may surround this foolish people, on every side, and utterly destroy them. At length fulfill our prayers and put these miscreants into our hands, that we may establish thy throne for ever in Mecca, and sacrifice all those enemies of our most holy religion at thy tomb. Blow us with thy mighty breath like swarms of flies into their quarters, and let the eyes of these infidels bedazelled with the lustre of our moon. Consume them with thy fiery darts, and blind them with the dust which they themselves have raised. Destroy them all in thine anger. Break all their bones in pieces, and consume the flesh and blood of those who defile thy sacrifice, and hang the sacred light of circumcision on their cross. Wash them with showers of many waters, who are so stupid to worship gods they know not: and make their Christ a son to that God who ne're begot him. Hasten therefore their destruction we humbly entreat thee, and blot out their name and religion, which they glory so much in, from off the face of the earth, that they may be no more, who condemn and mock at thy law.

I have a question for anyone who knows Islam well:

I was surprised by the first line of the prayer. Do Muslims actually, in fact, pray to the Prophet Mohammed? I hadn't thought so, but I really don't know.

Monday, June 20


GOOD versus EVIL

The Empire Strikes Back. Captions, anyone?



Ladies and gentlemen, EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS, that great wonder that has yet to produce any actual wonders, has had a BREAKTHROUGH.

No longer will research on ADULT stem cells be the only productive stem cell research.

NOW, by killing an embryo --which, by the way, is NOTHING MORE than egg and sperm, nothing more, dammit-- we can produce...

An egg, and sperm.

That's right. By killing a baby... we can now make a baby. So, this research is intended for all the people suffering from Alzheimers'... who can't concieve?

Sunday, June 19

An article by yours truly is up at Spero Forum about the Pope's new coat of arms. While covering the tiara debate (old news), it brings up some interesting info about the Christological symbolism of the Moor's head in medieval art that may have influenced its use by the diocese of Munich-Freysing. It was also written before the papal arms appeared with the tiara on the Swiss Guards' flag.
Excavating the Soul: Rediscovering Evelyn Waugh’s Greatest Work

Helena. Evelyn Waugh.
Loyola Classics, 240 pp., $12.95
Reviewed by Matthew Alderman

From the April 2005 edition of the Advocata Nostra, an independent orthodox Catholic publication serving the students of Notre Dame, St. Mary’s and Holy Cross.

There was once a time, in illo tempore, when superstar Catholic writers like Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Walker Percy and the inimitable Chesterton, were published by the great publishing houses and read by heathen and Christian alike. While works such as Brideshead Revisited still populate bookstore shelves, many others, such as Waugh’s favorite among his own novels, Helena, have been lost to the ages. Loyola Press does us all a service by excavating these gems of popular Catholic fiction in their new Loyola Classics line. Series editor Amy Welborn has selected five titles for publication this spring, including Myles Connolly’s Mr. Blue, a 1928 tale of a modern St. Francis; and Rumer Godden’s hefty 1969 In This House of Brede, a novel of modern convent life.

And Helena. I discovered this book once before, as a yellowing, out-of-print paperback tucked amid third-rate thrillers in the School of Architecture’s Rome Program library. While Waugh labored long over this, his only historical novel, it is often misunderstood. While not attempting to be an archaeological reconstruction of St. Helena’s search for the True Cross, its mixture of deliberate anachronism, historical fact and historical fantasy, succeeds in showing both the oddness of the decaying late Roman world and its uncanny similarity to our own strange age.

The book is not without its flaws, especially if one is expecting your standard Waugh romp. But every wrinkle has its purpose. For instance, while his vision of Constantine as an arrogantly spaced-out new-ager spouting luminous gibberish seems to me an unfair characterization of a great, if sometimes conflicted, emperor, it remains a dead-on portrayal of the modern attempt to free man from sin by denying sin’s existence.

Like St. Helena’s discovery of the Cross, Helena presents truths archaeological and spiritual. Unlike the dark humor of his earlier works, Helena is both more ethereal and also far grimmer. To Waugh, Helena was a saint who did not look it, a crotchety old woman rather than an ecstatic virgin fed to lions or a wild Stylite. She was a saint simply because she followed God’s distinct plan for herself to encounter the messy reality of the Cross. The Cross is a historical fact held up here to refute the airy dreams of secular humanism, here appearing under its earlier disguise as fourth-century Gnosticism. These concerns are treated by George Weigel in his new introduction, a delightful bonus.

We are indebted to Loyola for digging down, like Helena, into the strata of Catholic fiction to uncover this forgotten novel. It is my hope that it will inspire Catholic readers and Catholic writers alike. Modern fiction is extravagantly antinomian, while today’s Catholic novel preaches loudly and unsubtly to the choir. The Church deserves the best in fiction as well as in fact, and Loyola has done well to remind us of this as we continue forward into this new and uncertain century.

"Beauty has its own authority, an authority to which every human being responds, and an authority that in no way threatens." -Fr. Radcliffe

I submit to you that beauty is really the source of authority. Not in the theological or philosophical realm of licit authority, I suppose – or, at least, not immediately. The president of the United States doesn’t have authority because he’s handsome, or even because the concept of an elected executive overseeing a federal alliance of 50 states is beautiful, but instead his authority comes from the law. Nonetheless, beauty is the practical origin of authority: if I as an individual person enthusiastically embrace the president or presidency, it is because I love the concept of the presidency or a cause which the president is promoting or the person of the president. It is beautiful, and I respond to that beauty as it demands.

The Church has a lot of power over me. In some sense, I think the Church has absolute power over me: certainly, my obedience unto death; but also power over my actions and opinions and formation of my thought. I know that someone will object: no church should have such power over anyone! Or, someone else will say, “The Church does not even seek to have that much influence over its followers!” Theologians and philosophers do the important work of distilling (from what the Church is and her mission) the matters in which the Church ought to influence her faithful and the faithful ought to, or in cases absolutely must, obey. But while these powers may belong to the Church because of the inherent intent of Christ in founding a perfect society, for example, or whatever their argument might be, this argument in no way explains why the Church has any power over me. The Church, quite simply, has power over me because I choose to submit and am compelled to obey.

But it was not the lecture of a theologian, the legalizing of a dogmatist, or the proofs of a philosopher which constructed (or imposed!) this authority upon me--and for exactly that reason, it would be futile for any one to say, for example, that “the Church has no right to form your opinions!” or, as others would likely say, that the Church should have some authority over me, but that I go too far. The authority which the Church has over me, even if it is more than it asks for, it has for one reason: beauty. And, we naturally give –quite generously—of ourselves to those whose beauty (and I speak mostly of interior or inherent beauty) we love.

For example, I once owned a cassette of “The Supertones.” I admit it. There is only one rational explanation: one of my middle-school crushes liked Christian ska. Ladies and gentlemen, I would never have owned a cassette of the Supertones if it were not for that reason. Obviously, anyone would have told me that whoever this person was (I hardly remember her name now), she had no right to change my taste in music – and legalistically, maybe even morally, she didn’t. On the other hand: isn’t that sort of generosity natural? Even more so, then, with sublime love of the Church. I remember when I realized the Church was beautiful, and the Christian soul was beautiful, and that Mary was beautiful. (I confess, it was through her maternal guidance that I came to recognize, in a meaningful way, Beauty Itself in Christ Jesus. I confess this, but I am by no means ashamed of it: I think it highlights Mary’s role wonderfully.) When I realized this, the Church had me, and had me completely (very much despite my personal experience of it until that point, which has been quite banal and imminent).

I would argue that true love of the Church (and love proceeds from recognizing, and wishing to honor, true beauty) is all the authority the Church could ever need or ever want. Love of the mystery of the Church is patient, it is kind; “it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Imagine if the Church had that “authority”? If it proceeded from love, it would be an authority that hardly wearied, but perhaps even vivified, the believer (rather than an authority to be shrugged-off or overthrown).

So, where am I going with this reflection?

I love apologetics. I have been taught that, with 40 years of study, philosophy can definitively prove God; theology and apologetics can certainly prove the claims of the Catholic Church and the wisdom of submission to her. But while these things can laboriously prove the validity of the Church and the extent to which she should have authority, they cannot move us to accept, they cannot compel us to joyful submit, to any manner of authority.

But, struck by the beauty of the Church, love carries the soul so much further “into” the Church than she could ask or even (when it comes, perhaps, to naming your kids “John-Paul Maximilian”) want. In a parallel universe, I can’t imagine that I would have strong opinions about damask silk, old men in Rome, or Austrian folk customs; but when these things so wonderfully express the beauty of a Church I love, they themselves become so beautiful and so joyful to embrace.

So, when it comes to evangelization, while proofs of Christian teaching or (this is more for the Protestants) threats of dire consequences can be tools to help evangelization, they really cannot be the be-all and end-all of spreading the Gospel. Explaining the True will work for those who already recognize and love Truth, if they are intellectually gifted; explaining the Good will work for the morally fit. But the Beautiful, the Beautiful is compelling to all.

Basically, my point is that the crux of true conversion, the best means for speedy evangelization, seems to be beauty. Propose something beautiful, and only then might people truly “submit” – and yet, it hardly feels like submission: it has become “an authority that does not threaten.”

I think we used to do a much better job of reflecting the beauty of the Church externally than we do now. Russia became Christian, not because of deft logical argument, but because the emissaries from Kiev to Byzantine said: “When we were in Haggia Sofia, we felt like it was heaven on earth.” They glimpsed the beauty of the Church. A book I just read, “How to Win Converts,” written in the 1950’s, said that any Protestant who attended Mass three times was generally expected to convert, the ceremonies of the Mass and the piety of the people so aptly reflecting the beauty of the Church. We still see this in the schismatic movements: housewives who 40 years ago wouldn’t have cared about scholastic theology now construct elaborate arguments about the invalidity of the new Mass—not for the theological joy of it, I argue, but because they want to justify a beautiful celebration of the older Mass against generally more banal celebrations they’ve lived with so long. All of them are conversions driven by beauty.

And certainly beauty is not beyond our reach today: it comes from the mystery of the Church itself, and is simply reflected in our piety and in the dignity of our celebrations. Any form of Catholic worship or of the Mass ("new" or "old") is quite capable of doing so. But, despite the importance of reflecting this beauty, we so seldom do, and we put so little effort into it! Yet this is our greatest vehicle of evangelization, and of truly profound evangelization.

I’m not arguing for a disconnect between reason and love, by the way. Rather, to quote Ratzinger quoting Paschal, I am simply mentioning that the heart has reasons of which the mind is unaware. (Did anyone notice this was the head of the Holy Office quoting a formerly banned book?)

(Random aside: For exactly this reason, the compelling authority of beauty, I despise the tragically-common practice of “fasting from beauty,” such as using deliberately ugly things during Lent, or stripping down worship-space to be more “purified” and “spiritual,” or “penitential.” These things remind us wonderfully of the very reason we sacrifice! Incense, statues, tracery are not things that we indulge ourselves in, as if we could “fast” from them, but instead the constant offering of our best to God in worship—done, as it were, "for God's sake"--and that is not something that a false spirit of penance, which seldom results in real personal sacrifice, can excuse us from offering.)

The occasion of this reflection another encounter I had with “the hardened Church insider.”

Catholic schools are particularly well-versed at creating the Hardened Insider, it seems. These are the people who know the color of smoke which comes upon the election of the Pope or even the inner workings of Curial cardinals, but somehow remain coolly detached, maybe even slightly jaded, with regards to the mystery of the Church itself, of the Body which is grafted onto Christ in his Pasch. These are the sort of Catholics who become the 1950’s administrators or the 1970’s reformers or the 1990’s liturgists, each of them experts in their field, who are inexplicably untouched by so much that represents the beauty of the Church, or get caught up in power-struggles or rights or what have you. I was trying to figure out how people so “in” the Church can sometimes seem so untouched by it, and the best I can conclude (as I have here) is the lack of a subjective internalization of the infinite beauty of the gift this Church, this transcendent Church, is. Maybe it was easy for all those of us who didn't go to Catholic school (which would be most of the "committed" Catholics I know) for some reason. I don't know.

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