Monday, December 31
What Happens When a Bookstore Closes?
P.S. Nobody panic! This is Loome's Antiquarian Booksellers, not Loome's Theological Bookseller.
Not the Bat of Saint Sylvester
St. Sylvester receives from the Emperor Constantine the world's first cone-shaped party hat, on New Year's Eve, AD 317.
One of my most memorable New Year's Eve celebrations was a trip I took with my parents while in high school to Brussels that has made me fond of things Belgian (or Flemish/Walloon, since it appears to be splitsville for the kingdom these days) ever since. One thing that stuck in my mind--along with the frosty air, people's breath steaming in tomb-cold Gothic churches, and the enormous life-size Nativity Scene in the Grand-Place with its blonde, mannequinish Mary--was that the dinner-menus for that particularly festive evening were titled "Le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre," not "New Year's Eve." (The term means the "long festive dinner of St. Sylvester," not "the bat of St. Sylvester," as the opera Die Die Fledermaus is based on the French play, Le Réveillon, which means The Dinner Party.) There's something delightful to the realization that in Francophonia this most secular of holidays--the ecclesial year begins with Advent and the old civil calendar started on the feast of the Annunciation before things got boring--still has a bit of old Catholicism clinging to its sequined skirts.
I believe Hungarians also call it something similar--though this is based on the scrupulously-researched souce called "a flyer in a language I can't read stuck to the front window of the Hungarian cafe in my neighborhood that looked kind of festive and had the word 'Sylvester' somewhere in it." Brazil, which also has its own réveillons on New Year's Day proper, has its biggest marathon today, the appropriately-named Corrida Internacional de São Silvestre, though I can't really see any connection to the fourth-century pope save for the date.
Hispanics such as my grandmother celebrate New Years by attempting to eat twelve grapes at midnight, presumably in an effort to accidentally choke themselves. (If you are Cuban, of course, you can't go swimming for probably about six hours afterwards, but that's for a wholly different reason.) Rather than being a cute old custom, it turns out it was invented in 1909 by a bunch of Valencian grape-sellers (no pun intended) trying to sell off excess stock. (By the way, I wonder a little about the Wikipedia page on New Year's customs as it lists "Auld Lang Syne" as being by Guy Lombardo rather than Bobbie Burns, though I suppose I get their point.)
As to St. Sylvester himself, Evelyn Waugh in his decidedly weird historical novel Helena, tossed in a joke by one of the characters about Sylvester being so boring that if he ever got canonized, his feast day would have to be on the last day of the year, which is a little unfair as St. Sylvester was quite a big deal in the Middle Ages as being on the receiving end of the spurious Donation of Constantine (but, as they say, if it's not true, it should be) and is now ranked as the eighth-longest-reigning pope of all time, reigning 21 years, 11 months and 1 day (8,005 days).
Now if anyone can find a way to link this to Prince Orlovsky's gnomic utterances or, more pertinently, dropping disco balls in Times Square, you'll be my hero.
Sunday, December 30
Assorted Christmas Cheer
Shepherds' Pie with Yukon Gold Potatoes and Double Gloucester
Asparagus with Butter
Flambéed Spotted Dog with Currants and Brandy-Butter
Weather: Delightfully cool and damp.
Dinner was followed up with a large fire in the great hall with a brick of Irish turf thrown in for flavor.
[Look, that's what we call it, the great hall, and it's fairly big as these things go in suburbican north Florida.]
"'Bless me,' cried Jack, with a loving look at its glistening, faintly translucent sides, 'a spotted dog!'"
—Patrick O'Brien, The Ionian Mission.
Spotted dick is a steamed pudding, containing dried fruits, usually currants. The dessert originates in and continues to be popular in the United Kingdom, especially Scotland, where, presumably, it was originally created. Usually served either with custard or with butter and brown sugar. Spotted refers to the raisins (which resemble spots) and Dick may be a contraction or corruption of the word pudding (from the last syllable) or possibly a corruption of the word dough. It is also known as spotted dog, plum duff, steamed dicky, dicky pudding, figgy dowdy, as well as plum bolster, and Spotted Richard.
The last, only in formal settings.
Dinner Menu, Alderman Residence, December 25, 2007
Traditional Cuban-style Pork Haunch marinated with sour orange juice and Mojo Criollo
Traditional black beans and white rice
Assorted Marzipan and (non-traditional) Mozartkugelen
Jesus Christ the Apple-Tree
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple-tree.
His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne'er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple-tree.
For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
'Tis found in Christ the apple-tree.
I'm weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be,
Of Jesus Christ the apple-tree.
This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple-tree.
~Divine Hymns or Spiritual Songs, New Hampshire, 1784.
Jack: It's after six o'clock, Lemon. What am I, a farmer?
~30 Rock, Season 1
A Query from Our Gentle Readers: Cane Ettiquette
I don't own a cane myself (though I do have a stout walking-stick covered in stockneglen I occasionally use when taking vigorous walks when down in Florida), as I don't really have the clothes for it. Not because there's anything wrong about all things retro but because it requires too much energy on my part. (On the one hand, my wardrobe of khakis and polo shirts means I can get dressed in the dark. On the other hand, I keep getting mistaken for an off-duty seminarian.)
Our reader writes:
I had no idea who else to address this to, but thought, given your aesthetic sensibilities, you or your blog-readers might be able to help me.Anyone, anyone at all? Maybe we can start a trend.
I've recently purchased a formal cane, to "wear" on very formal occasions, especially when I attend the opera. Now, I'm a perfectly healthy young-adult male, with no walking problems whatsoever. I just thought it would be "cool" to have my own cane for formal occasions.
Trouble is: I really do not know what the etiquette is for walking, gesturing, or sitting with a cane when the cane is not just for medical purposes. How tall should a "decorative" costume cane be? Is it proper to hold it off the ground when one is not walking with it, to gesture with it, etc?
Yes, I realise this fashion statement of mine is far from mainstream (at least here in America), but maybe you or your British readers might be able to give me a hint or two?
Thursday, December 27
Did he really use Esperanto??
Sunday, December 23
Is Britain a Catholic Country?
But, on the other hand, as one of the commenters on the above news article points out,
"From a population of 50 million, a grand total of 1.5 million Catholics and Protestants go to church. Ten times as many watched Strictly Come Dancing last night."
On the third hand, it's still rather fun (would they say "cheeky"?) to propose the following definition of the English Reformation:
"A period of approximately five centuries during which attendance at a nationalized church surpassed that of Churches in union with the Roman see."
Thursday, December 20
Your Bible Says What?
It's amazing how God used a monkish scribe some 13 centuries ago who broke the Scriptures into chapter numbers in order to designate a strip of asphalt as holy. Because really, that monk should get all the credit. But, well, whatever.
Wednesday, December 19
A Cross Stands at the End of Europe
A view of the Calvary set up on the extreme western tip of Ireland, quite literally the end of Europe, photographed by the author last July.
Some Art Deco Gothic for Your Aedification
Our Lady of Refuge, Brooklyn, from a visit last winter; note, below, the large disc-shaped metal Stations of the Cross and all-brick interior.
Infant of Prague Redux
My favorite story of non-Catholics' fascination with Catholic vesture involves a certain clerical atelier in a large Midwestern city. A man came in and he wanted to order a vestment -- he was a minister and he wanted to make a good impression on his congregation. They showed him all over the store. They showed him chasubles, and stoles, albs, surplices, rochets, and copes. They showed him cassocks and simars, Bernardin polyester, faile and silk brocade. He was never satisfied, and kept trying to describe for them what he was lookin for. Finally, a curiosity caught his eye -- a little figure in the corner by the window -- it was the Infant of Prague -- this minister wanted to commission the tailor to make him a human-sized "Praguewear", complete with frilly cuffs and exaggerated Elvis collar and all!The mind reels. On the other hand, it would have probably made Zwingli cry, so maybe it's not such a bad idea after all.
And Do The Papal Paratroops Yell "Hieronymus!" When They Jump Out of Planes?
19th Century NamesOur alert reader adds:
A: He got his name because Mexican victims of his attacks would cry out in terror to St. Jerome.
Q: Who is Geronimo?
Now, there is a discussion on the Jeopardy Forum as to whether or not you would pick St. Jerome if you were beset by a group of angry Apaches. I say there are a whole host of intercessors I would rather call upon.Thoughts? And more importantly, anyone out there know whether this is true? Geronimo's given (if not technically Christian) name was Goyaałé, which, despite looking faintly Polish, means "One Who Yawns" in Chiricahua, and thus looks suspiciously easily for Hispanicization to Geronimo.
I also said I knew just the right group of POD Catholics to survey for this question.
Dappled Things Update
In order to safeguard this mission, we have followed the policy of only receiving submissions from contributors between the ages of 18 and 35. However, throughout the past two years we have received comments from many readers and potential contributors who wish Dappled Things would accept work from persons of any age. This desire is understandable, as there are almost no other venues that specialize in creative work inspired by the Catholic tradition. Still, we have hesitated to remove our age limits because we do not want a situation in which more experienced writers and artists crowd out those who are still at the start of their careers.Also, we have a whole new edition of the magazine chock-full of such emerging authors for your enjoyment:
After much deliberation, we have concluded that opening up the magazine to creative Catholics of all ages need not undermine our mission. We will remain committed to seeking out and publishing the work of emerging writers and artists, but we will now welcome submissions without regard to a person's age. By doing this, we hope Dappled Things will become a locus of the best creative talent available within the English-speaking Church. We want Dappled Things to be a magazine of which the Church can be proud (in a completely non-sinful way, that is) and through which Catholics can offer an alternative to the often confused culture that surrounds them.
If "The Golden Compass" and "The DaVinci Code" are works that characterize the "wisdom" of our age, we hope that Dappled Things will become a venue where those with a more profound vision -- the Tolkiens, Lewises, Waughs, and O'Connors of the future -- will be able to become known and share their work with the world. So whether you are a reader seeking material that will enrich your mind, soul, and imagination, or a writer who hopes to share some truth and beauty with the world, we hope you will join the Dappled Things community. To submit your work, please visit our website for instructions.
It is a pleasure to inform you that the Advent/Christmas 2007 edition of Dappled Things has just been published online. Herewith a sampling of the excellent pieces that you will find in the new edition:There's these, an expose of "The Dirty Linen of Literary Studies," some more poignant (if disturbing) work from the splendid poet Gabriel Olearnik, an article about a parish in which Latin Rite and Eastern Catholic communities worship under the same roof, a beautiful oil painting inspired by the life of St. Josephine Bakhita (the saint recently mentioned in Pope Benedict's encyclical, Spe Salvi), as well as more excellent fiction pieces, essays, poems, and works of art. Enjoy!
Our feature for this issue is Fr. James V. Schall's "The Truth of His Humanity," an article in which he ponders the birth of Christ and the significance of the fact that he was not only true God, but true man. This article, imbued with Fr. Schall's usual insight, is recommended reading for these final days of Advent. Through it, Fr. Schall wrestles with several important questions surrounding the Nativity:If we wonder about the apparent slowness in spreading this Good News of the Incarnation and Nativity, we are tempted to question of the Father's schema for our redemption. Surely, it could have been a more "efficient," a more rapid, process. It seems to lack power and proper planning. It seems haphazard and not particularly effective for its apparent purpose, which had to do with going forth and teaching "all nations" the meaning of what transpired in these places.Those who have been following the exploits of "J," the arrogant if witty protagonist of Eleanor Donlon's "Magdalen Montague" series, will be glad to know that we have published part III: "The Return to Magdalen Montague." "The Return" reveals a dramatic transformation in J's character. Readers will have to visit the website to find out what it is, but for the moment I give you his father's reaction to the change:First he goggled. Then he stared. Soon he glowered… and he glared! Immediately following this lively display of emotion, he commenced sputtering like a frustrated kettle, his face turned a regal shade, and he swore at me soundly, starting with, "Damnation!" and concluding with a series of expletives beyond even my ken.
Rather than attempting a second time to be relevant to me by pandering to my ego, the magazine sadly choose Putin instead.
There's always next year!
Tuesday, December 18
Sorry, Philip Pullman...
(Was that too harsh?)
Another Young Order Builds Another Cool Monastery
Overheard on the Subway
Big Bald Well-Groomed Middle-Aged Man: Um, I'm a lawyer.
Slightly Shopworn Female Young Person: (Goes on, as if this is normal, despite the fact they're sitting about six feet apart with the subway doors between them.) I was thinking about how to get a talk show. Well, not a talk show, you know. You know anything about this?
Big Bald Well-Groomed Middle-Aged Man: (Hugs his valise a bit closer) No.
Slightly Shopworn Youngish Female Person: Maybe like public access. You know.
Big Bald Well-Groomed Middle-Aged Man: I guess that's the way to do it. (Train stops, doors open, gets off train.)
And then I pray that she doesn't notice me, either.
Nepalese Airline Sacrifices Goat to Appease Sky God
You know, I can kind of respect that. Of course, it's pagan, and I'm not entirely sure I'd like to be invited to the celebratory barbecue afterwards (1 Corinthians 10:28, plus I'm not a big goat meat fan), but still, I imagine if I were from Nepal*, it'd be what I'd do in a similar situation. (It's the Hindu equivalent of POD.) It's It makes me wish, though, for headlines like "Failing Polish Airline Offers Novena to St. Joseph of Cupertino" or "Air Malta** Makes Our Lady of the Airways Honorary Pilot." I'm sure she'd like the hat.
*A place in dire enough straights since their Royal family turned into a soap opera, and a Univision soap opera at that, with some garnishings of the French Revolution laid on for seasoning.
**Official Motto: "Making Poland look lukewarm since 1530." Heck, they make the Vatican look lukewarm on good days.
Saturday, December 15
Mouse Hunt, Pars Secunda
In any case, I don't have to look or see the disgusting little animalcules, so case, closed, for the moment, anyway.
Could It Be?
Because a gold-embroidered brocade biretta would just be, you know, tacky, on anyone else.
In Case You Were Wondering
More on the chap who inspired Lord Peter Wimsey's foolish good looks here. Sadly, no photos, though.
Now That The Golden Compass Has Gone, Via Box Office Disaster, From Wicked to Sad and Kind of Pathetic, a Caption Contest
The Magisterium has replaced Phil Pullman's coffee with Folger's Crystals. Let's see if he notices.
Wednesday, December 12
Pope "Not Condemning, Just Saying"
Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise [commentary] on climate change prophets of doom, [suggesting] that solutions to global warming [should] be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology.
The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics [who are all going to eat you] suggested that [concerns] over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters [might be exaggerated].
The German-born Pontiff [who is going to bomb London] said that while some concerns [are] valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement.
His remarks will be made in his annual message for World Peace Day on January 1, but they were released as delegates from all over the world convened on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali for UN climate change talks.
The 80-year-old Pope said the world needed to care for the environment but not to the point where the welfare of animals and plants was given a greater priority than that of mankind.
"Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow," he said in the message entitled "The Human Family, A Community of Peace".
"It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances.
His remarks reveal that while the Pope acknowledges that problems may be associated with unbridled development and climate change, he believes the case against global warming to be over-hyped. [blink] [blink] [No one who actually read the message, or even the quotes provided in the news story itself, would think this was an accurate one-sentence summary...]
[How can a country that large be so completely free of competent journalists, anyway?]
With thanks to this original article, which itself reads like a parody...
Tuesday, December 11
iFeliz dia de Lupita!
I once found fresh flowers in the snowbank on the morning of December 12.
In the Heavens, Mary commands the angels and the blessed. As a recompense for her profound humility, God has empowered her and commissioned her to fill with saints the empty thrones from which the apostate angels fell by pride. The will of the Most High, who exalts the humble, is that Heaven, earth, and Hell bend, with good will or bad will, to the commandments of the humble Mary, whom He has made sovereign of Heaven and earth, general of His armies, treasurer of his treasures, dispenser of His graces, worker of His greatest marvels, restorer of the human race, Mediatrix of men, the exterminator of the enemies of God, and the faithful companion of His grandeurs and triumphs!
- St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion, para. 28
Por supuesto, las Mananitas--
Monday, December 10
The world needs a few more of these:
The Giant Rat of Sumatra, a Tale for Which the World is Not Yet Ready
For those of you who doubtlessly picture me shrieking in terror, I have been very stoic throughout the whole process. Seeing foot-long rats in the subway has generally made me indifferent to a small furry blob about four inches long. That being said, I don't like the idea of subletting my apartment to Basil, unless he wants to start paying rent.
I have put down some glue traps, though I am not entirely sure what I will do if I catch any mice, given what is effectively mouse fly paper immobilizes your quarry without dispatching it. Clobbering it is disgusting and messy, except as a last resort, teaching it to squeak The Bells of St. Mary's is simply not going to happen, and throwing it out the window is likely to lead to pressed charges. After several email and phone conferences with my mother (my patient and extremely understanding post-collegiate crisis hotline/personal assistant/co-conspirator/editor/financial advisor/dispenser of smiles at just the right moment who I never thank nearly enough for all her help, support and advice) I've finally decided on an elaborate disposal procedure involving plastic bags, a down jacket, elbow-length rubber gloves, dumb luck, and a lot of running like heck.
So I was very amused this morning on the train to run across P.J. O'Rourke's own mouse-trapping advice in his hilarious if utterly useless Bachelor Home Companion:
I once lived in a house that had rats. I took a handful of diet pills and sat up all night with a bottle of whiskey and a pistol waiting for them to poke their heads out of the woodwork. By four A.M. I was seeing any number of rats, many of them Day-Glo orange and wearing ballet costumes. This technique is not very effective.Given the vaguely psychopathic nature of the procedure, as well as the host of unanswered metaphysical questions it answers, I'll decline, but if anyone out there is more desperate than I am--or has an inexplicable urge to mount an all-rodent production of Hamlet, feel free to try it out.
Traps are not very effective either. If you check on your rat traps in the middle of the night, you're liable to see the rats using them as Nautilus machines.
However, while researching this book I came across another method of getting rid of rats. It appears in a volume called Household Discoveries, Encyclopedia of Practical Recpies and Processes, by Sidney Morse, published in 1913. I have no idea if this works, but it does sound like fun:Catch one or more rats in a wire cage. Take a pronged stick...wedge the folk just behind the animal's ears and pin him firmly to the floor. Roll a bit of newspaper into a tight cylinder, set fire to one end and with the lighted end singe the hair from his back... Fix a small paintbrush on a long stick...apply a coating of phosphoresent mixture, slightly warm, to the animal's back, and release him next to his hole. Just what impression is produced by what apepars to be the ghost of a departed rat reappearing in his own haunts would be hard to say, but those who have tried the experiment report that no rats remain in the vicinit to give an account of their sentiments.
My own solution, on night 1 of Ratwatch was a bit less physical. After grabbing a candlestick in self-defense, I also immediately went for my copy of the '64 Roman Ritual and read out the portions of the wonderful Deprecatory Blessing Against Mice and Other Pests, with the very explicit curses and exorcism removed, as I figure it's better to leave that sort of thing to the clergy. The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia strongly discourages calling the wrath of God down without proper authorization, which is a good way to get into deep metaphysical excrement (mortal sin territory) with the Almighty. I'm serious, kids.
That being said, the prayers were interrupted with very loud golf-course word (a curse of a different sort, which I very seldom lapse into, let me say) when the darn thing scurried across the room. I mean, I'm only human, and I was also in my pyjamas, which does nothing for your dignity.
It is interesting to note that, except for that one horrible moment in the dark where I mistook the "Got Monks?" baseball cap on top of my lampshade for an enormous rat, they have not shown up again, barring some suspicious scratchings last Tuesday.
How I spent my Friday Night
Saturday, December 8
Tonight on HWTN
10 PM. Late Night Operetta: Sigmund Romberg's The Burgher King. Twenty years after The Student Prince, Karl Franz, now ruler of Karlsburg, has become thoroughly settled and bourgeois and all appears well until his two sons, Franz and Karl, discover him wandering the streets in a frightening plastic mask and paper birthday crown, peddling disgusting American fast food.
12 Midnight. Infomercial. Ultimate Ginsu Knives with Irene Adler and the Count von Kramm.
A Note on Noah Sealth (Chief Seattle), with some Irrelevant Yakov Smirnov References
What you don't know is that Seattle was, in fact, a baptized Catholic who received the name of Noah on his conversion. Whether or not it stuck is an open question, but at the very least the flowery references to his tribal gods in the purported speech need to be taken with a grain of salt. Who knew?
*What a country!
Friday, December 7
Tomorrow is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which, miraculously, has not been transferred by our bishops.
Therefore, at least in the United States, it is our patronal feast and a Holy Day of Obligation. A vigil Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent doesn't count for both the Immaculate Conception obligation and the Sunday obligation. (Read More)
Don't blow it!
Stanley Hauerwas’ Sermon for Reformation Sunday
Reformation names the disunity in which we currently stand. We who remain in the Protestant tradition want to say that Reformation was a success. But when we make Reformation a success, it only ends up killing us. After all, the very name ‘Protestantism’ is meant to denote a reform movement of protest within the Church Catholic. When Protestantism becomes an end in itself, which it certainly has through the mainstream denominations in America, it becomes anathema. If we no longer have broken hearts at the church’s division, then we cannot help but unfaithfully celebrate Reformation Sunday.
For example, note what the Reformation has done for our reading texts like that which we hear from Luke this morning. We Protestants automatically assume that the Pharisees are the Catholics. They are the self-righteous people who have made Christianity a form of legalistic religion, thereby destroying the free grace of the Gospel. We Protestants are the tax collectors, knowing that we are sinners and that our lives depend upon God’s free grace. And therefore we are better than the Catholics because we know they are sinners. What an odd irony that the Reformation made such readings possible. As Protestants we now take pride in the acknowledgement of our sinfulness in order to distinguish ourselves from Catholics who allegedly believe in works-righteousness.
Unfortunately, the Catholics are right....
Therefore Catholics understand the church’s unity as grounded in reality more determinative than our good feelings for one another. The office of Rome matters. For at least that office is a judgement on the church for our disunity. Surely it is the clear indication of the sin of the Reformation that we Protestants have not been able to resist nationalistic identifications.
Preach it, brother Hauerwas!
The full sermon is at Reformed Catholicism
Thursday, December 6
An article on Indulgences... from BBC...
...that didn't contain any blatant errors or snide remarks.
They got it more or less right, and were more or less charitable.
For those who haven't heard, the Pope has granted a special indulgence for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions at Lourdes.
Translation of relevant sections from Rorate Caeli
A. - if, from the 8th of the month of December 2007 to the entire 8th day of the same month of the next year of 2008, devoutly visit, preferably in the proposed order: 1. - the parish baptistery used for the baptism of Bernadette; 2.- the house called "cachot" of the Soubirous family; 3.- the Grotto of Massabielle; 4.- the chapel of the hospice, where Bernadette made her First Communion, and, at every time, remain for a certain amount of time in pious meditation, concluding with the Lord's Prayer, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and the jubilar prayer or other Marian invocation.
B.-if, from February 2, 2008, on the Presentation of the Lord, up to the complete day of February 11, 2008, in the liturgical memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes and 150th anniversary of the Apparition, devoutly visit, in any temple, oratory, grotto, or decorous place, the blessed image of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, solemnly exposed to public veneration, and take part before the same image in a pious exercise of Marian devotion, or at least remain for a certain amount of time in pious meditation, concluding with the Lord's Prayer, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and a Marian invocation.
C.- The aged, the infirm, and all those who, for legitimate reason, cannot leave their house, may also achieve, in their own house or there where the impediment retains them, the plenary indulgence, if, in the days of February 2-11, 2008, with the rejection of every sin and the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the three conditions, spiritually accomplish, with desire of heart a visit, (to the aforemention places), recite the aforementioned prayers and offer the infirmities and discomforts of their lives faithfully to God through Mary.
If I am at Notre Dame between Feb. 2-11, I know what I would do. And I would use the Athanasian Creed.
La chapelle du Bon Pasteur, dans la rue Daire à Amiens, était la propriété du Conseil régional, qui a décidé d’en changer l’affectation pour pouvoir la transformer en crèche.
From this story of how a group of effectively-schismatic Christians were kicked out of a state-owned church building.
So, a year ago, the regional government turned the church a "creche." What does this mean? A Christmas nativity scene? But then, why is it necessary for them to use it all year long? Or can "creche" mean something like a day-care? Can that be true? I know the French government owns all the historic churches in France, but I assumed that they had agreed to let the Catholics use those churches. Can they really assign church buildings to secular uses like that?
He's Right, You Know
- Mark Shea, on how American Compassion lead a Muslim Woman to the Church
Does the Horn Play "Ave Maria"?
Pope Benedict XVI now has a new set of wheels for his weekly public address on St. Peter's Square - a shiny Vaticanmystic white open-top G-Class.
Mercedes-Benz regularly provides the Vatican with vehicles converted for the use of the Pope since Pius XI first received a Nurburg 460 Pullman limousine as his official car in 1930.
I think it would be really cool if only clerics ordained to the minor order of "porter" were allowed to drive the pope's car. How awesome would that be?
IMHO, Mercedes-Benz should role out a "V-Class" line of autos to the public, which come in Vatican colors and have the Pope's crest imprinted in the leather seats. Standard. The upgraded version comes with Diocesan Position Service, which lists the locations of the nearest Masses, and the roof of the car is lined in watered silk
Somehow, I'm reminded of our plans for the Vatican's airport, complete with deacons chanting "Ite, Missa Est" at the ends of the moving walkways.
An Ambrosian Anecdote
"It is surprising how ignorant the general public is concerning the Ambrosian rite, and we learn that on the visit of Mussolini to the Cardinal [presumably Dom Ildefonso Schuster] two days before his murder (25 April 1945), the fallen dictator inquired whether the Ambrosian rite implied any doctrinal conflict with the Roman rite, and was surprised when he was told it did not. This was a strange question, as the Cardinal remarked, for one who controlled the destinies of Catholic Italy."
St. Nicholas's Day: Naughty or Nice
A particular shout-out to all our readers in the pious and God-protected city of New York (look, I can dream) on this feast of the favorite saint of Niuew Amsterdam, the tough, miracle-working Middle Eastern bishop who inexplicably is now depicted in America as a tubby old white guy with a wife and who dispenses gifts to good children rather than slaps to heresiarchs. (See above, St. Nicholas strikes the arch-heretic Arius, shown screaming like a little girly-man, at the Council of Nicaea.)
St. Nicholas is also patron of Greece, Russia, the Kingdom of Naples, Sicily, Lorraine, the Diocese of Liège; many cities in Italy, Germany, Austria, and Belgium; Campen in the Netherlands; Corfu in Greece; Freiburg in Switzerland; and Moscow in Russia; mariners, merchants, bakers, travellers, children, archers, Greek students, the abovementioned Nieuw Amsterdam (proclaimed as such by the New-York Historical Society in 1809), and Beit Jala in the West Bank.
The legendary Dutch gift-giver Sinter Klaas is believed to live in Spain, rather than the North Pole, due to an erroneous connection between his iconographic three sacks of gold and oranges, which, as everyone knows, come from Spain.
Other auctoritees state St. Nicholas lives with a bunch of short freaks in the "Santa Claus and His Old Lady Commune," where they consume brownies with very peculiar side affects.*
*Don't ask, really, don't ask.
The origin of all those wonderful paintngs of St. Nicholas that show him flying like Superman to the rescue. From Caxton's Englishing of the Golden Legend:
It is read in a chronicle that, the blessed Nicholas was at the Council of Nice [sic]; and on a day,as a ship with mariners were in perishing on the sea, they prayed and required devoutly Nicholas, servant of God, saying: If those things that we have heard of thee said be true, prove them now. And anon a man appeared in his likeness, and said: Lo! see ye me not? ye called me, and then he began to help them in their exploit of the sea, and anon the tempest ceased. And when they were come to his church, they knew him without any man to show him to them, and yet they had never seen him. And then they thanked God and him of their deliverance. And he bade them to attribute it to the mercy of God, and to their belief, and nothing to his merits.Padre Pio once did something similar but it involved him flying through the air to have a little word with the pilot of a plane trying to bomb San Giovanni Rotondo.
Stained-glass by Martin Travers:
Another charming illustration by this artist shows the saint sailing in a wonderfully frilly galleon with a gigantic "N" monogram on the stern.
More St. Nicholas stained glass here, courtesy of the St. Nicholas Center.
From the website of the Coptic Orthodox Church Network:
He was cast into prison during the persecutions of Diocletian and Maximian, but even there continued to instruct the people in the Law of God. He was present at the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325, and, in his zeal, struck Arius with his hand. For this act, he was removed from the Council and from his episcopal duties [don't try this at home, kids], until some of the chief hierarchs had a vision of our Lord Christ and His most holy Mother showing their sympathy with Nicholas.I read somewhere it actually brought forth a "profusion of blood." As the our friends the Churchladies say, being good does not necessarily entail being nice.
Demre, the modern town built near Myra, once had a statue of St. Nicholas donated by the Russian federal government in its main square. In 2005, it was replaced by mayor Suleiman Topcu with a plastic figure of a strange white-bearded man in a fur-trimmed red suit known locally as Noel Baba. The Russian statue now stands somewhat forlornly, as a concession to Moscow, in the ruins of the nearby church of St. Nicholas.
Even to this day, St. Nicholas's tomb (hijacked from Turkey by Italian merchants working in the grand tradition of furta sacra) leaks an oily substance called manna, which is actually not that unusual in terms of saintly phenomena, being also ascribed to St. Walburga, Bl. Gundekar of Eichstädt, the martyr St. Glyceria, St. Sigolena, and St. William of York, among a long laundry-list of others.
Tuesday, December 4
Continuing the Churchlady Meme
Here's a logo I recently devised for the Facebook spinoff group of the Pious Sodality of Churchladies. It's essentially the Notre Dame branch, a slightly different--if overlapping--organization from the Pious Sodality in its weblog incarnation, but still a fun bunch of gals. I post it here for their aedification and your amusement, or vice-versa.
What the (Liturgical) Heck?
Sunday, December 2
The Pious Sodality of Church Ladies
The blog description itself is braggable:
A place for the Pious Sodality of Church Ladies to exchange such pieces of feminine genius as are useful to their craft.
Saturday, December 1
What Would Groucho Do?
The Golden Compass: Nobody Expects the Genevan Inquisition
By way of background, I actually read the first book in Pullman's trilogy some years back, because it had been presented to me as an alternate-history book, a genre I was heavily into at the time and still rather enjoy. As a realistic take on an alternate universe I was disappointed by the magic and goofy history (come now, Pope John Calvin? Givest thou me a break) and set it aside with a sigh and went on with life. It seemed to me garden-variety anti-Catholicism and I didn't give it a second thought. That being said, as a work of fantasy, if not strictly realistic, it seemed reasonably well-written. I later discovered the second two volumes were steeped in a bizarre and sadly embittered anti-Theism.
Like most of these evangelical atheists who have the God bug, Pullman needs pity and prayer.
Executive summary of the trilogy for those of you in Rio Linda: Alternate universe, world dominated by weird Calvinist-Catholic hybrid religion; evil monks, assassin priests, (Father Gomez--jarring chord); scientist Lord Asriel waging war on God through a series of parallel worlds, except it's not God, it's a geriatric angel and somehow Metatron (the Jewish guy, not the Transformer) is pulling the strings; (boilerplate Gnostic mythological filler, blah, blah, blah); lapsed nun agnostic physicist; and then somehow some pre-teen kissing changes everything, God (or Whatever) dies, yay, Republic of Heaven; and everyone goes off to be good little atheists and work their hearts out for the common good. (Or, more realistically, they head off to Las Vegas.) I only read the first book and the summaries I've been given are as turgid as the 3rd and 4th Books of Esdras and equally weird, which I think has to do less with the abridgers than the Gnostic source material.
This is the problem--The Da Vinci Code was a laughable cartoon of a book, while Pullman's writing is at the least reasonably literary in quality and his anti-Catholicism (anti-Theism, really) is motivated less by silly plot considerations than by a deep animus against the Church. Plus, the movie looks seductively, irritatingly, horribly good, unlike the clunky schlockfest with Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou from last summer.
The books are not fit for kids, and I'm not entirely sure a good Catholic adult would find them anything but infuriating. The movie--well, the line a lot of people have been taking is, oh, the studio said they were toning it down, Nicole Kidman's a good Catholic, she wouldn't be in anything like that, &c., &c., and that the danger is the kids will see the movie and then want the books.
I think the movie itself isn't so immaculate, either. Miss Kidman is a fine actress and, for my money, one of the great beauties of the modern age (in my list, a bit behind Audrey Hepburn but at least one slot ahead of the ninth Duchess of Marlborough); I don't question her personal faith, not being in a position to get inside her head and start pulling levers, and am sure her involvement in the project was well-intentioned.
Still, it seems that at least by my own personal standards, the movie has not been toned-down nearly enough. Even the trailers are throwing around words like "Magisterium" and "heresy," and there's a few glimpses of guys running around in quasi-cassocks cut from Nazi-ish field grey cloth, and even what might have been a Swiss guard. Might the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem be a bit testy if they were talking about the Umma, the Khalifa and the like?
I read elsewhere that the Magisterium (note it's still called the Magisterium, not the Politburo, or the U.S. Senate, or the shadowy Derg of the People's Republic of Ethiopia) is, in the movie, not a parody of the Catholic Church, but represents "all dogmatic associations," and God and religion are presented under euphemisms. (My guess is this is why Mrs. Coulter snaps off some odd line in one trailer about "She has disobeyed the Authority!"--jarring chord--in reference, I suppose, to God.) It's not "anti-Catholic," just "anti-dogma." Ah yes. Translation: "We're not anti-Catholic, we don't like Protestants, Jews, Muslims or Hindus, either!"
I will never understand Hollywood.
*If you really must know, yes, yes, those morons at the General Oblation Board have screwed things up yet again and the Consistorial Court of Discipline insists I pop over to Geneva to knock some heads together.
Fr. James Coyle, Martyr of Alabama
Coyle attended Mungret College in Limerick and the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He was ordained a priest in Rome on May 30, 1896, aged 23.Query: why is this man not been beatified?
He sailed later that year, with fellow priest, Father Michael Henry, to the port of Mobile, Alabama and served under Bishop Edward Allen. He became an instructor, and later rector, of the McGill Institute for Boys. In 1904 Bishop Allen appointed Coyle to succeed Patrick O'Reilly as pastor of the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Birmingham, where he was well-received and loved by the congregation.
Assassination and aftermath
Father Coyle was shot in the head on the porch of St. Paul's Rectory on August 11, 1921 by Methodist minister and Klansman E. R. Stephenson. The murder occurred only hours after Coyle officiated at a secret wedding between Stephenson's daughter, Ruth, and Pedro Gussman, a Puerto Rican who had met Ruth by doing work for Stephenson at his house and had been a customer of Stephenson's barber shop. Before the wedding, Ruth converted to Catholicism.
Stephenson was subsequently charged with Father Coyle's murder in an Alabama court. The Ku Klux Klan paid for the defense, a team of five lawyers (four of whom were Klan members). The case was assigned to the courtroom of Judge William E. Fort, a Klansman. Hugo Black, a future Justice of the Supreme Court (who would become a civil rights champion), defended Stephenson.
[B]y 1941, two decades later, a Catholic writer in Birmingham would write "...the death of Father Coyle was the climax of the anti-Catholic feeling in Alabama. After the trial there followed such revulsion of feeling among the right-minded who before had been bogged down in blindness and indifference that slowly and almost unnoticeably the Ku Klux Klan and their ilk began to lose favor among the people." (McGough - 1941)