Monday, March 31
If anyone can Photoshop Il Papa into some Star Trek action, I will publicly give them the Shrine's official Commendation for Awesomeness. It doesn't entail much more than honor, but at least the next time you're sitting in the dark wondering what you've accomplished in life, it will give you profound reassurance and amusement.
Thursday, March 27
The One Exception to the Mariachis-in-Church-Rule - St. Oliver Plunkett's Head - and an Advance Screening of I Was a Teenage Virgin-Martyr
Also, pursuant to yesterday's discussion: They Saved Oliver Plunkett's Head! And some particularly histrionic images of a recumbent effigy of St. Victoria, Virgin and Martyr (saints named Victoria seems to be particularly popular among devotees of narcoleptic wax saints) from Kilkenny Cathedral, which provides her with the rather bizarre vita that she a was 14-year-old "butchered by King Constantine [?!] on her way to Holy Communion" (on the orders of her spurned pagan suitor--there's always one of those) in Rome circa AD 250. What we do know was her relics were sent to the Emerald Isle in 1845 by Pope Pius IX, and surely someone up there must be answering all those prayers. Okay, all right, this one's just creepy.
Reader Submission: New Aquinas Manuscript!
Summa Taurologica: (De Res)
Article 1: Whether the bovine essence is always expressed as two individuated cows?
Objection one: The Musician often asked for "more cowbell." Yet he does not ever ask for more than one cowbell. Therefore bovinity is expressed in one individuated being.
Objection two: The Announcer argued at every game that there was a "Holy Cow!" This is because cowness is sufficient in itself and does not need multiplicity.
Objection three: The Boy also argues that one should "Not have a cow." We witness again the singularity of bovinity.
Sed contra: The Prophet Amos warns us: "Listen, you fat cows of Bashan!" (Amos 4:1). He argues in the plural, thus speaking to more than one.
I argue that, while bovinity can indeed be expressed in an individuated essence, the true completeness of the bovine is best expressed in two cows: namely, an older cow for milk and all your regular carnivore expressions of butcher cuts, and a young cow for veal. Thus, the perfection of the cow is best expressed in two individuated cows, yet each cow contains the essence of cowness, or the potential for succulence.
Reply to objection one: This is because there was only one musician worthy of the skill of playing the cowbell in the band at any one time. If a trio of skilled cowbell musicians were assembled, we'd have more cowbells.
Reply to objection two: Although the Holy Cow is one, it covers a multiplicity of events on the diamond, from a home run to a triple play, so analogically, we could argue for different cows, expressed equivocally in the word "cow."
Reply to objection three: The Boy is speaking metaphorically.
Wednesday, March 26
America Needs More Napping Wax Virgin Martyrs
The interior of St. Vibiana's Cathedral, Los Angeles, during its heyday. At the summit of the great reredos is a recument wax figure of the virgin-martyr patron of the church and archdiocese, draped in an appropriately grandiose Mediterranean fashion across her bier. The United States could use a few more napping wax virgin-martyrs, as they always make churches more interesting, though perhaps also slightly weirder as well--which I suppose makes them the epitome of P.O.D. (If you do not know what is P.O.D., this is P.O.D., and this is not, though the hat might make a very festive oven-mitt.)
A similar example of the genre, from Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Harlem, New York City. She is perhaps a bit on the sentimental side, or perhaps even mildly alarming, but there is nonetheless a certain charming sleepy meditativeness to her gaze that endears this effigy to me. (Ladies with really great hair, take note: you too can become a saint.)
Wax effigies were also sometimes used in great state funerals in times past, considering the relatively late date of the invention of formaldehyde. One remaining fragment of one, for Good Queen Mary's funeral in 1558, is on display at Westminster Abbey, and remains an interesting curiosity, even if it looks surprisingly cheerful for something supposed to represent a corpse.
Solemn High Tridentine Mass and Architectural Presentation at the Church of Our Saviour, Park Avenue, This Coming Sunday
Proposed temporary chapel for St. Agnes Catholic Church, New York City, by Dino Marcantonio
Sponsored by the good folks at the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny:
As was previously announced, the Society is sponsoring a Solemn High Mass at the Church of Our Saviour, New York City, on Low Sunday, March 30 at 5:00 pm. Following the Mass in the undercroft of the church, the Society will present Dino Marcantonio, AIA, architect and lecturer at the Yale School of Architecture. Mr. Marcantonio's talk is entitled "The Dome on the Square in the City of God."Mr. Marcantonio is a very talented architect and also a great devotee of the Tridentine liturgy. Don't miss this!
Dino Marcantonio is a long-time advocate of traditional architecture. He has practiced architecture in New York and Washington, DC and taught at Notre Dame and Yale. He has authored articles on the subject of traditional architecture for such journals as Latin Mass, American Arts Quarterly, Sacred Architecture, and The Classicist. He currently teaches classicism in the graduate program at the Yale School of Architecture.
A study model for the figure of a bishop-saint on the tomb of the rather slow Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, whose main contribution to world culture, in addition to being a bête-noire for particularly hysterical Ripperologists, is the aforementioned grandiose art-nouveau tomb by Sir Alfred Gilbert, of whom more here. A fascinating little bust, though it appears he is inexplicably wearing a cope morse with his chasuble.
Tuesday, March 25
Two Holy Cows
You have two cows...
Franciscan: You have two cows. Moved by the beauty of sister cow, you unleash them. Your ensuing lack of milk allows you to glory in the poverty of Christ.
Carmelite: By concession of Pope Innocent IV, you have two cows. You don’t eat them between Sept. 14 and Easter.
Discalced Carmelite: You have two cows. You feed them by arduously dragging hay to their tough, but then you deliver it by truck. Ultimately, abundant hay falls effortlessly from the sky.
Benedictine: You have two cows. You use one to preserve the art of animal husbandry for all time. You kill the other and make intricate, colored markings on its hide.
Dominican: You have two cows. You feel as if you should share one with the Franciscans, but can’t bring yourself to trust them with it.
Cistercian: You have a more extraordinary method of procuring milk.
Carthusian: You should have two cows, but they never made it to the Grand Chartreuse as they kept mixing up the difference between "Cistercian" and "Carthusian."
Trappist: You have two cows. You do not appreciate their mooing, yet require their milk to craft high quality fudge. You assign them to a novice.
Jesuit: You have two cows, but everyone from Louis XIV to Pastor John at 1st Community Baptist believe you control the cattle industry. Admittedly, you founded many farms in the bovine tradition, but struggle with what bovinity means in the 21st century.
Opus Dei: You have two donkeys, and tend to them very carefully. You never admit that you engage in this work, but are delighted to meet other covert donkey owners.
Communion and Liberation: You have two cows, and bring them to huge annual gatherings. You speak to them only in the present tense.
SSPX: You have two cows. You raise them precisely according to USDA standards, c. 1950. One cow denies that the USDA exists and runs off to take care of itself.
St. Egidio: You gather two cows together in a very old barn and reflect on Scripture. Other cows begin to come, too. You sell their milk for third world debt relief.
Augustinian: Posthumously, two cows claim you as their owner. One of them burns down the northern half of the barnyard.
Salesian: You have no cows, but work to improve the welfare of calves orphaned by factory farming. You are a visionary when it comes to cattle futures.
Some Historic Renderings of Brooklyn Catholic Churches
Can I Get an "Amen"?
It was a longstanding custom for the congregation to applaud in church, or to shout out signs of their disapproval, when bishops preached to them. There are several indications in the fifth century patristic homilies of the bishops strugling for control over their audience. In the Alexandrian cathedral one of Cyril's avid followers, the lay professor Hierax, had the function of leading the applause during Cyril's sermons. Hierax was a well-known figure, a prominent Christian and a highly visible member of Cyril's entourage. ~pp. 10-11, St. Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy, John McGuckin
Monday, March 24
The Papal Visit Is Starting to Get Weird
More disturbing is item number two, that Kelly Clarkson will be singing Ave Maria at the said Youth Rally. I have not yet been informed if she will be singing the Schubert or Tomás Luis de Victoria versions, nor do I really think there is any answer to that question that will not make me start banging my head on the table. (Okay, I suppose I'd find something to complain about whoever they picked; even the now disturbingly (okay, mildly) sexed-up Charlotte Church gets on my nerves, and has, ever since I found out she'd she decided to stop being 11 years old some time ago. My latent inner dad keeps wanting to say, whenever I see a photo of her, "Young lady, where do you think you're going dressed like that?" I think I will enjoy being a father, if I am ever so lucky.)
Thirdly, it appears that the setting for the mass at Yankee Stadium is going to be built out of Legos, but, in a move to appease Traditionalists, they are using the medieval castle Lego series to set the artistic tone for the design.
Seriously, okay, it could be worse, and at least it has a nice royal purple, heraldic sort of vibe, and there's a baldachin and a great big throne of sorts, perhaps one even with the traditional seven steps, though I don't know. But still, it's pretty silly looking and one wonders what Bernini, who was in his day the Industrial Light and Magic of his age as well as one of the greatest architects of his generation, could have done with the place. Even some of the older folks at the Vatican could have probably done a much better job, considering the grand tradition of temporary Baroque decorations continued, in somewhat attenuated form, at St. Peter's well into the last century.
So That's Why Le Corbusier's Work Looks that Way
~Inspector Clousseau, A Shot in the Dark.
Maryland, Your Maryland; Also, a word on St. Lazarus and Toilet Paper Mummies (Not a Band)
(Edward Herrman voice on) On This Day in 1634, the World Catholic Conspiracy Reached What is Now the United States (/Herrman off). I.e., Lord Baltimore founded the colony of Maryland. Patriotic gore, despot's heel on the shore, peerless chivalry reveal, girding beauteous limbs with steel, etc. A shout out to all our readers from the Old Line State, especially Shrine friend and current reigning churchlady at Notre Dame, the Sober Sophomore!
Incidentally, The Sober Sophomore also reports this conversation with her Byzantine Catholic roommate, relevant considering all the hoopla over the misplaced St. Patrick's day:
If anyone wants to adapt this custom to the Western Kalendar, I believe July 29th is his feast day. And I'd seriously pay for any photos.
Roommie: Did the diocese move St Patrick's Day to today?
Mary Liz: No, it was moved to yesterday.
Roommie: Well did you hear those girls running up and down the hall this morning knocking on each other's doors and shouting Happy St. Patrick's Day?
Mary Liz: No. I must have really been tired.
Roommie: Yeah, they were green head to toe and all Irish and stuff.
Mary Liz: huh
Roomie: But today on our calendar [Byzantine] it's the feast of St Lazarus. I kind of want to wrap myself in toilet paper and run up and down the hall knocking on doors and shouting "HAPPY SAINT LAZARUS DAY!"
Saturday, March 22
"Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep."
(Read the entire "harrowing" ;-) tale here.)
Sunday, March 16
What care we Snyders for the impermanence and vagaries of politics? Empires come and go. But when one is devoted to the cause of pretzelry, there can be no end.
Saturday, March 15
Come the Revolution, The Following Will Be Banned
2. "Begging the question" when not used in the strict context of a conversation on formal rhetoric.
3. "What's up?" used as a greeting, since it implies a response, and it's hard to explain the state of your life when Dave from accounts has already gone down the hall.
4. George Lopez St. Patrick's Day-themed marathons inadvertently coinciding with Holy Week.
5. Ponytails that are anywhere right or left of the exact up-down axis on the back of a girl's head.
6. Laugh tracks, except on M*A*S*H.
7. Misleading packaging on Books on Tape. If I want to listen to a book about the controversial 1969 massacre of diseased giraffes in Czechoslovakia by Cold War era special forces, I expect it to be nonfiction, otherwise, why bother?
8. The following terms, used to signify great age or venerability: "Back in the day," "Old School" or "Back in the days." What ever became of "In Days of Yore"? If it was good enough for Alexander Muir, it's good enough for me.
9. Subway bums who have newer shoes than I do.
10. Altar boys wearing anti-gravity sneakers.
11. Altar girls wearing anti-gravity sneakers.
12. Altar girls wearing strappy stiletto heels.
13. Altar girls.
14. Barnes and Noble cheapo special-edition coffee-table books put together out of stock photos on the Nazis (including the SS, SA, Luftwaffe, and Hermann Goering's avoirdupois, but not Hogan's Heroes, since they amuse us), Communists, secret societies, witchcraft or secret Nazi Communist Witches.
15. Movie promos beginning with "From the Producers of Snow Dogs." Somebody's scraping the bottom of the barrel.
16. Eucharistic Prayer II.
17. Albs with hoods, unless your name is Bernard of Clairvaux.
18. Subway mariachis, unless I'm in the mood.
19. That shark in a tank of Formaldehyde at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
20. "Reverend" used as a noun.
You Know You're a Catholic Nerd When...
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
In related news, a little piece of me died today...
You're a good man, Charlie Brown.
Thursday, March 13
A passage from the article itself is more serious than the headline sounds:
Monsignor Mauro Parmeggiani, Rome’s diocesan director for youth ministry, explained to ZENIT that the Pope wants to transform the traditional meeting with the youth, “which was a sort of party, into a real celebration, not only an external celebration."
The monsignor said the reason to celebrate at a youth day is in reality "an interior one, that of the meeting of man with God, with God’s mercy in his heart; from there Christian joy is born.”
In this context the Holy Father is hosting on Thursday a penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica in preparation for Palm Sunday, which is the day the dioceses of the world celebrate World Youth Day. More than 20,000 young people have signed up for the event, which is also a lead-up to the international World Youth Day, to be held July 15-20 in Sydney, Australia.
Wednesday, March 12
Ave Maria Gratia Plena
Was this His coming! I had hoped to see
Broke open bars and fell on Danae
Or a dread vision as when Semele
Caught her white limbs and slew her utterly
With such glad dreams I sought this holy place
A kneeling girl with passionless pale face,
Tuesday, March 11
Passion Sunday at the Vatican
On the Fifth Sunday of Lent (First Sunday of the Passion in the 1962 Calendar), St. Peter's at the Vatican is witness to a particularly elaborate celebration of Vespers that begins with a long penitential litany-procession composed of dozens of priests and seminarians, as well as the basilica's canons, around the nave, cleared of worshippers, who are clustered in the side-aisles facing inward.
After Vespers at the Altar of the Chair, a bell rings and a prelate and other assistants appear on the balcony above the monumental statue of St. Helena, which has been draped with velvet and adorned with candles. Great clouds of incense have begun to rise from the nave floor scores of feet below. The relics shown and the manner of showing them has varied somewhat in recent years; a colleague in Rome mentioned one year he had seen the Holy Lance, while during my time there the people were blessed with the large reliquary cross holding splinters of the True Cross, and then the Veronica in its silver case was simply shown to the people without blessing.
A current correspondent in Rome notes this same order was repeated last year, and was viewed by some (perhaps incorrectly) as diminishing somehow the status of the Sudarium as a relic. Whatever the reasons behind this choice, which can only be guessed at, this video reproduced below indicates the Veronica was used to bless the people this year with a cruciform gesture, first to the front and then to the sides. I have seen woodcuts from the fifteent century that show a very similar ceremony at Old St. Peter's associated with the same relic, so there is clearly an old precedent at work here.
For those of you in Rome for Holy Week, I recall that the ritual is repeated on the morning of Good Friday, though as my memory may be faulty it is best to check ahead for time and date.
Hollywood to Dutch: Free Utrecht!
Monsignor Sasbout Vosmeer, a member of the Society of St. Pius the Fifth, Part One and Vicar-General of the Provisional Goverment of the Prince-Archbishopric of Utrecht in Exile (based in Cleveland, Ohio, out of St. Gertrude the Seriously Inflamed Really, Really, Super-Traditional But Very Suspicious of Rome Roman Catholic Chapel in the Mount Vernon Stripmall off State Road 36), granted an exclusive interview to HWTN, explaining, "The ancient Prince-Archbishopric has been occupied by nefarious Dutch interlopers since 1559, oppressing its quaint culture and mystical traditions of healing. Mr. Gere approached us after getting bored with the Free Tibet Movement, in an effort to find another defunct theocracy to insert into his Academy Award acceptance nominations."
A spokesman for Ms. Jolie said she had been lured to the Dutch embassy with the promise of adopting that kid with the finger in the dike. Ms. Jolie then broke in and asked if Utrecht had some sort of national food similar to like Pad Thai, as she was getting hungry. Mr. Gere quickly got the microphone away from her and proceeded to explain his attraction to the oppressed Utrechters. "They speak this really strange sacred language, really ancient and mystical, sounds kind of like Spanish or Italian, and there's lots of incense and I'm told they believe in reincarnation."
"I said the Incarnation," corrected Monsignor Vosmeer. When later confronted with the fact there is a sitting Catholic archbishop of Utrecht, and there had been one since 1858, Vosmeer said, "Some of my colleagues have started getting some deep suspicions about Pius IX. You know, his cousin's sister's barber was named Albert Lacey, which sounds a a bit like Alfred Loisy, and you know where that road leads."
"Bricklayers?" asked Gere.
"They're called Freemasons," said the Monsignor, patience starting to wear thin.
Gere continued, "And they even have yoga, too; I'm going to start on a class on the Spiritual Exercises."
"It's a retreat, Mr. Gere," said the Monsignor.
"In fact, I've been wanting to study their secret Tantric rites for months now." (The Monsignor simply turned an odd shade of purple at that point.) When asked to confirm that the Prince-Archbishopric of Utrecht had any sort of equivalent to such practices, Gere was handed a copy of The Theology of the Body, but was very disappointed it appeared to contain no helpful diagrams.
Friday, March 7
So That's What Low Mass Looks Like To Outsiders
There is a splendid old joke about the Jewish schoolboy who happens to find himself at a Low Mass and afterward tells his father about it. "A man came in with a little boy and gave the boy his hat. The boy took the hat and hid it. Then the man asked the congregation, "Where is my hat?" and the congregation replied, "We don't know." Then they collected money for a new hat. In the end the little boy gave the man his hat back, but they didn't return his money.
St. Theophylact of Nicomedia
Nuns, Flying, Teleporting, Zombie and Blue
File this under Unintented Consequences of the Spirit of Vatican II:
Did Sister Bertrille lose her ability to fly after they abolished the cornette?
One time with my father while picking up some libations for a party, I was scanning the shelves at a local wine store and misread the label on the dubious substance known as Blue Nun as "Flying Nun Wine," which strikes me as the perfect trademark name should the Daughters of Charity go into matters oenophilic.
(I had a strange childhood obsession with the elaborate and colorful wine labels, including my father making a dedicated trip out to the shop with me to allow me to draw the coats of arms depicted on them in a notebook. The proprietor saw me at a distance and assumed a midget had been sent round by the competitors to write down all his prices.)
From 30 Rock:
Frank: (sounding mildly addled, as usual) Hey, Pete, d'you wanna see a comic book with pregnant zombie nuns?
Pete: I believe I would.
Incidentally, Bl. María de Agreda (who had the dubious honor of having her Mystical City of God placed on the Index, then rehabilitated; a reading of it allegedly later nearly scrambled Giacomo Casanova's brain*) is sometimes also called the Blue Nun or the Blue Lady. While she was not known for flying, she did end up miraculously teleporting to Mexico to convert indigenous tribes there, presumably racking up an enormous number of frequent flyer points with Air Loreto with her nearly 500 visits. Missionaries sent to the area years later found a bunch of practicing Catholics who had been catechized by a mysterious "Lady in Blue," who, after some digging, turned out to be our Mary, who managed this feat without even access to basic materials such as felt banners or religion workbooks with long digressions about Rachel Carson.
(Look, it's no weirder than some of the hallucigenic stuff that goes in in string theory or particle physics.)
*We will be screening They Scrambled Casanova's Brain! on HWTN's Mystical Theology Theater 3000 tomorrow at 3 AM, if you're interested.
Wednesday, March 5
Some Guy who Endorsed McCain
Stephen Colbert on Rev. John:
"I wish this guy could have been alive in 16th century Spain."
Tuesday, March 4
For the Moral Theologians
"The Late Bapticatholic Jerry Falwell"
The Catholic Version of "Captain Planet"?
"... you can be one too!"
The Church in Britain has set up Called Today, a vocations site featuring manga-esque animation and encouraging youngsters to become monks, priests, sisters, nuns, or teaching brothers.
Apparently, the UK is home to something I've yet to see in the United States--under-40-something sisters whose only distinguishing characteristic is a lapel pin.
The superhero, though, is admittedly underwhelming: "Your powers combined, I am the Diocesan Office of Religious and Consecrated Life!!"
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Springfield Cathedral: Historic Reredos Safe for the Moment
We've had a long, strange last couple of days with regards to the upcoming renovation of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, Illinois, particularly regarding the fate of the old high altar. Various sources, some quite trustworthy, others more nebulous, indicated that the reredos with its splendid mosaic of the Blessed Virgin was slated for removal, while other voices suggested that the reredos was to remain but the altar would be modified or removed, and still others said they had been told the old altar would remain untouched.
The most recent credible current information indicates that the tabernacle and reredos are going to stay untouched, though I do not know whether or not the old altar (i.e., the mensa and stipites) itself will be modified. I hope to post more about this subject when I have more certain details.
It is possible there may have been plans initially to remove the whole reredos outright, and were subsequently altered. In any case, I would strongly encourage our readers to politely and concisely express their support for the plan to retain the reredos, as well as encouraging them to preserve the altar itself untouched. I believe it would be very easy for it to used as an altar of repose without any alteration to its historic fabric, which seems to be the very latest plan as of writing. In any case, no interior perspectives or elevations have been released yet. I would appreciate if anyone with more solid information--not rumors--contacted me at malderman83(at)gmail(dot)com.
You can write to the diocese to express your support for the integrity of the historic high altar via:
Catholic Pastoral Center
1615 West Washington St.
P.O. Box 3187
Springfield, Illinois 62708-3187
Monday, March 3
New Line Art from Matthew Alderman
Santa Bárbara, Patrona de la Artillería. Ink on Vellum. February 2008. Artist's Collection.
The original precedent for this image was an illustration of S. Barbara as protectress of the second battalion of the first royal Bavarian artillery regiment during the Great War, where she is shown wearing a modern steel military helmet and leaning on a cannon. Such imagery is rare, but not unknown, due to the saint's role as patroness invoked against sudden death, artillerymen of all nationalities, and for all who work with munitions. (Indeed, in Spanish, a powder magazine is called a santabárbara.) I can think of at least one side-chapel in Rome which is bedizened all over with cannon-barrels and similarly explosive insignia.
I have freely adapted the design but preserved the basic attributes of this somewhat unconventional model; a careful inspection of the drawing will show, nonetheless, the more traditional emblems of the saint--tower, lightning-bolt, sword--embossed and blazoned across of much of the great martyr's equipment.