Tuesday, November 30

Blessed St. Andrew's Day!


A P.O.D. Advent Devotion

(Traditionally said 15 times a day, from the Feast of St. Andrew to Christmas)

"Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.
In that hour vouchsafe, O Lord, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior and His blessed Mother. Amen."

Monday, November 29

It is a time of desolation, chaos, and uncertainty; brother pitted against brother, babies having babies, then one day, from the right side of the screen came a man, a man with a plastic rectangle...I mean, LAPTOP COMPUTER!!

Non-Embryonic Stem Cells: The Only Ones that Work

Despite the great push for stem cells derived from aborted fetuses, I consistently hear that only the umbilical-cord stem cells, which obviously do not harm the infant, have been promising.

Here it is in black and white:

Paralyzed woman walks again after stem cell therapy

"A South Korean woman paralyzed for 20 years is walking again after scientists say they repaired her damaged spine using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood."
For your amusement and edification: Signs and Wonders in Fort Wayne from In Pectore, the author of which, speaking of strange sea creatures, hails from the hometown of Snooty the Manatee, who I sincerely hope is not the origin of the siren legend, since he's incredibly...non...um...non-sirenic.

Oh yeah, and while I find the Little Mermaid meme in Andy's charming parody a little puzzling (I only saw that movie once, and was seriously freaked out by the storm scene at the end as a child), I can't complain because it means he's reading my posts. Hehe. Rosemary thought it was funny, and she's a water-nymph, so she would know. (Don't ask.)

I do admit (publically) to a fascination to the subdiaconate and the minor orders in general (the architect Alberti was a clerk, for example), though I'm, of course, not destined for the priesthood. Though, come to think of it, I could have it all and just be an installed lay subdeacon (who doesn't have to say the Office and can marry), which is what they call those nonclerical guys who get to be delegated to help out in indult masses. With an amice! And in dalmatics! (Tunicles, technically, but what's a few inches of sleeve between friends?) The only problem is they...don't...get...to...wear...birettas, and that's half the fun.

Sunday, November 28


Among the scarier things I've seen in a while...

Plaudite, psallite! The Brompton Oratory has a new website!

Saturday, November 27

This article by Matthew G. Alderman was published in the October 1, 2004 edition of Irish Rover, a conservative campus publication at the University of Notre Dame.

Forgotten Corners of Campus: Our Gallant Dead

St. Mary’s Lake and the woods ring our little cosmos here at Notre Dame like the circular bounds of a medieval mappamundi. When I stray beyond the lake path, I go into terra incognita, a domestic Hesperides, a Midwestern torrid zone. Even hugging the irregular, branch-choked coastline of the lake, I've passed into a different world. At night, when the sky is purple and the moon is a neon-white streak on the rippling dark waters, when the trees canopy us with their contorted capillary branches, you feel a sense of mystery and wonder straying into this dark forest equal parts Dante, Tim Burton and Grant Wood.

In the rich gold of late afternoon, our forested hinterland is no less beautiful. The sun strikes the leaves, white-hot. There is a rich interplay of striated light that falls in broad streaks in the depth of the woods, and the trees themselves now turn that early autumnal yellow more green than green. I pause on the path, and move up past the vast shed the art students use for their bizarre sculptures. A large finned tin monstrosity stands glinting placidly on the grass, looking like a cross between a Christmas tree ornament and Sputnik, while a circle of fire-engine red obelisks constructed out of industrial pipe border an empty lawn like an East German fairy ring. I’m lost. But I come round the corner, past an Emergency Call Station picturesquely garlanded with deep green (techno-Bacchic) and see it.

We find our departed forbearers everywhere at Notre Dame: Our Gallant Dead / In Glory Everlasting festoons the Basilica’s eastern portal, and relics wink out at you from behind glass tucked away in one of the faceted apsidal chapels beyond the altar. We live in dorms named after dead alumni, dead priests, dead friends of the University.

There are two cemeteries here at Notre Dame. Everyone’s been to Cedar Grove for a few moments of quiet. But there’s another graveyard here, the final resting place of a sizable and hidden chunk of Notre Dame history. It’s where the Congregation of Holy Cross places its holy dead. Today, the sun is strong and the dark silhouettes of the overarching trees are backlit by boughs transfixed translucently by the dying sun. The grass is newly mowed, thick and green like the stuff at the bottom of Easter baskets. And there, before me, beyond the low iron fence, stand rank upon rank of identical stone crosses marked with the anchors of hope, the sign of the Congregation.

Some of the names of the priests and brothers buried there are almost poignant—or comic—in their anonymity. Brother Felix of Valois. Brother Charles Borromeo. Brother Jarlath. Brother Casimir. Brother Ferdinand. Below their names in religion are the sobering, staccato dates of birth and death (1979, 1979, 1979 over and over again, I notice), and below that, for the brothers, anyway, half-overgrown by grass, is the name they left behind in the world when they entered the Order. You wander up and down the well-trimmed, deserted aisles, and more familiar names startle you. Father John Zahm. Father William Corby. Father Edward Sorin, the founder. You’re walking amid the people who made Notre Dame what it is today, whose names festoon the dorms and monuments that form part of the collegiate furniture of our minds. Our gallant dead. Our dead. Friends of the University. Our friends.

The word cemetery seems to cast the whole scene into gothick black and white, a word of stale air and dying embers. But here, in the Technicolor daylight and on the carpet of Seurat-green grass, you feel perfectly at home. In a park. On a picnic. Sunday in the park with Bill Corby. And there is ample room to picnic here among these worthies.

I once spent a morning in the excavated cemetary beneath St. Peter’s in Rome, a chill, humid warren of pagan and Christian, profane and sacred that smelled of spice, mildew and a strange ancient odor like instant coffee. Faded frescoes of Isis marked one tomb while a blazing mosaic of Christ riding in triumph through the heavens domed another tiny vault. The pagans called them necropoloi, cities of the dead, and Christians named them their cœmeteria, their dormitories until the end of the world. And both alike didn’t let their dead friends molder in anonymity, visiting their sleeping relatives, sometimes even picnicking on the flat roofs of their family tombs.

We call it morbid, coming out of a century full of death, and yet unwilling to understand it. The Christian knows that there is not much to understand. Death is simple, just as life is messy. It is only us the living who struggle as the souls of our beloved relatives fly up through Purgatory to heaven, all those fantastic terraces and spheres of the Divine Comedy, of Dante wandering in the hinterlands of his private cosmos that are the center of the universe.

Our Gallant Dead. Let’s not forget them, and feel unafraid to walk amid their berths in this grassy, golden cœmeterium just as our ancestors in long-ago Rome once did.

The Further Adventures of St. Murgen the Mermaid

Running across Borges' curious bibliographical note on Sirens this morning has inspired me to do a little more digging into the tragically underrepresented field of folkloric cryptozoology in regards to mermaids. There's quite a lot, and one continuous--and rather inexplicable--theme is their natural piety: the wake-foam of the barque of Peter is absolutely awash with them.

Columbus met up with some which might have been manatees or dugongs, which suggests nothing so much as highly-imaginative or possibly intoxicated mariners despairing of the luxuriant pleasures of port-town female company. The Middle Ages, with its artistic love of the fantastic and the charmingly grotesque, chiseled down whole forests of mermaid-decorated misericords in churches and chapels, though these fishtail girls lack the symbolic import of such other chimerical hybrids such as the Christocentric gryphon or the tetramorph of the Evangelists.

And then there are the other eyewitness reports, for whatever they're worth. Some are surprisingly up-to-date. One sighting occurred in 1830 at Benbecula off the Scots coast (the preserved body later being subjected to great scrutiny during a study conducted in 1900), while the Manx (Island of Man) tourist board offered a reward for a siren's capture (alive, of course) as late as 1961. A Dutch zoological text of 1718 took the existence of the zee wyf as cold fact. Borges' reference to a siren found in 1403 at Haarlem seems to be identical to the account two hundred years later in English divine John Swan's 1635 Speculum Mundi of a mermaid stranded on the mud-flats at Edam, complete with the reverence of the cross:
She suffered herself to be clothed and fed...she learned to spin and perform other petty offices of women...she would kneel down...before the crucifix, she never spake, but lived dumb and continued alive (as some say) fifteen years.
They had to clean the "seamosse which did stick to her" off when they first hauled her out of the water. She was given Christian burial when she died. The Carmelite John Gerbrandus seems to have been a contemporary eyewitness to the event.

There's also Melusine, whose name is given in heraldry to the two-tailed sea-maiden on the Starbucks emblem; she seems to have been a half-snake or half-fish hybrid who married Count Raymond of Poitou sometime in the fourteenth century. The Lusignan family, the former rulers of Jerusalem, Cyprus and Little Armenia, later claimed descent from her, and through them, presumably most of the crowned heads of Europe can thus rightfully sue Starbucks for royalties.

Medieval texts, such as Bartholomaeus Angelicus's De Proprietatibus Rerum often made such creatures out to be marine succubae, lethal and seductive.

Another beautiful mermaid was known to frequent the coast off of the holy island of Iona, who fell in love with a saintly monk on shore and sorely desired to have a human soul. Mermaids and other longaevi seem to either be soulless though bodily immortal, or at the very least long-lived; Plutarch grants a lifespan of 9,720 years to nymphs, for example. Whatever the case, the hermit told her she must forsake the sea for her soul, and she despaired. Her tears formed the strange green-grey pebbles that are now only found on Iona.

In 1560, a team of Jesuits aided by the adjutant of the Portuguese Viceroy of Goa--a physician named Bosquez--dissected seven mermaids washed up on the coast of Ceylon and concluded in their report to the Society that they were anatomically identical to humans and had similar souls, which would have been a great comfort to the siren of Iona. The Church was eager to ascertain at the time exactly what these creatures were, whether they had souls or not, as if we encountered space aliens today, but no official ruling ever came down and the matter became something of a moot point.

Still, some missionaries were somewhat disturbed to hear of their parishioners dining on dugongs and manatees. In a non-religious context, in 1739, the Scots Magazine published the account of the sailors of the ship Halifax, noting from firsthand experience that mermaids tasted like veal.

And then there's St. Murgen of Inver Ollarba, who garners a mention in the seventeenth-century Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland. Her legend is possibly the most bizarre in hagiography, surpassing even St. Christopher of the Dog's Head, St. James the Cut to Pieces or St. George of Cappadocia with his four separate martyrdoms. Murgen began life as a girl named Liban, whose background is lost in a muddle of folkloric confusion. She seems to have been either of mortal or of Daoine Sidhe parentage, and swept into the sea in the year 90 with her dog, who was transformed into an otter. At some point during her first year underwater, she was turned into a merrow or muirruhgach, the Gaelic word for siren or mermaid. She spent three hundred years with the tail of a salmon, swimming the Irish sea with her pet otter.

Around 390 (or possibly 558), a ship destined for Rome took her in from the seas, having heard her angelic singing. The cleric Beoc, a vicar of Bishop St. Comgall of Bangor, was on board, and she pleaded him to take her ashore at Inver Ollarba up the coast. On his return from Rome, after reporting to Pope Gregory of Comgall's deeds in office, he fulfilled his promise and Liban was taken ashore in a boat half-filled with water by another fellow, Beorn.

Instantly, a dispute started over who had authority over her with Beoc, Beorn and St. Comgall all pressing their case. It fell to Beoc after they placed her in a tank of water on a chariot and the chariot stopped in front of Beoc's parish church. There, she was given the choice of being baptized, after which she would die immediately and go to heaven, or living another three hundred years--the number she had spent as a mermaid--and then going on to paradise. She chose the first, was baptized by St. Comgall with the name of Murgen, or, "sea-born," and died in the odor of sanctity. Of course, this was all in the days before canonizations became the exclusive and infallible province of Rome. That being said, the Teo-da-Beoc, or, church of Beoc, was the site of many miracles wrought in her name, and paintings of this singular saint still remain there to this day.

I wish I knew what to make of all this weirdness: the Bollandists would have a hernia over it. But, se non e vero, e ben trovato, and, suffice to say, I'd like to think that St. Comgall didn't just baptize some wayward manatee.
The usually-tasteful S. Clement's Anglo-Catholic, Philly, proves with its Harvest Thanksgiving Sunday decorations, that squash and sub-tractarianism don't quite go together as well as people suppose... Still, it gets points for imagination, guys. It's better than the ugly dead branch they stick up in the earthen pot and use for floral sanctuary decorations at some parishes during Lent...
Happy Belated Thanksgiving! And now, a rerun of our beloved Holiday Special, A Holy Whapping Thanksgiving in Rome with the Arkies.

Fr. Martin Hellriegel's agenda for the 1940 "Liturgical Week" Conference, quoted in Dom Alcuin Reid's The Organic Development of the Liturgy, p. 106:

1. We must do away with all slovenliness and routine. Sancta sancte, God's things must be done in God's way!
2. Back, therefore, to a holier and worthier celebration of the Christ-life-carrying and the Christ-life-giving mysteries, the Holy Sacrifice, the sacraments and the sacramentals.
3. Back to the Sunday High Mass, 52 times a year. It is the ideal way of celebrating the Lord's death, particularly on the Lord's day.
4. Back to an active participation by every member of the parish in the prayers and chants of the Church.
5. Back to a more earnest preparation and more joyful announcement of the living word of God. Back to the "homily" patterned after the homilies of the Fathers.
6. Back to Sunday and feastday Vespers.
7. Back to a fitting celebration of the patronal feast.
8. Back to our cassock and surplice for the administration of the sacraments to the sick. The time has come for the embryo of a stole put over the civilian coat to make room for vestments that are a "worthy frame around God's picture."
9. Back to Advent, Lent, and ember days cleansed from lottos, bingos and buncos.
10. In short: Back to a sentire cum Ecclesia for the purpose of restoring true Catholic parochial life in the cell of Christ's Mystical Body, the parish.

From J. L. Borges' Libro de los seres imaginarios, 1967 ed., p. 132, under the heading "Sirens":

...to the Spanish playright Tirso de Molina (and to heraldry) [sirens] are 'half woman, half fish.' No less debatable is their nature. In his classical dictionary, Lempriere calls them nymphs; in Quicherat's, they are monsters, and in Grimal's, they are demons... In the sixth century, a Siren was caught and baptized in northern Wales and in certain old calendars took her place as a saint under the name Murgen. Another, in 1403, slipped through a dike and lived in Haarlem until the day of her death. Nobody could make out her speech, but she was taught to weave and she worshipped the cross [sic] as if instinctively. A chronicler of the sixteenth century argued that she was not a fish because she knew how to weave and she was not a woman because she was able to live in water.
I must apologize for the lack of posts on The Shrine of late. I have been quite sick since last Thursday, and have not been in a particularly literate frame of mind. In fact, I've spent most of my time on my dorm room futon watching reruns of Green Acres and Father Ted, which made the experience even more bizarre than I could have ever imagined. I'm at home now, relaxing and stuffing myself silly with turkey, dressing and green bean casserole (but not cranberry sauce, which has a merely totemic significance in most Thanksgiving dinners) and hopefully will be feeling better soon. Once I get back to ND, expect more posts, including more extracts from my Rover and Advocata Nostra articles, a dialogue between the ghosts of Dante and Petrarch I wrote for one of my history courses, and much, much more.

Saturday, November 20

This from the people who legalized pot...
This is truly wrong.

We will pour thousands of dollars of money into fitting a dolphin with a fake fin, but a couple thousands people in Africa with no food or 35 cents a day for medicine? Nah.. WE GOTTA HAVE THAT DOLPHIN

Yahoo! News - Disabled dolphin jumping again with world's first artificial fin

TOKYO (AFP) - Fuji, a mother dolphin that lost 75 percent of her tail due to a mysterious disease, is jumping once again with the help of what is believed to be the world's first artificial fin.
Fuji initially rejected the artificial fin, which in its current version weighs two kilograms (4.4 pounds) with a width of 48 centimeters (20 inches).
Bridgestone said the artificial fin was given to the aquarium for free, but that it cost the company about 10 million yen (95,000 dollars).

Thursday, November 18

Catholicism: Enemy of Science?

"These fears were focused in 1582, when the vigorous reforming Pope Gregory XIII revised the existing hopelessly innacurate 'Julian' Calendar, omitting ten days from October 1582 to correct the errors which had crept in over the centuries, and introducing a new method of calculating the Leap Years to prevent new innacuracies from arising. Gregory's reform was long overdue: the need for a reform had been widely discussed for centuries, and it was a huge improvement over the existing calendar. It was widely welcomed by astronomers and scientists, including the Protestants Johann Kepler and Tycho Brahe. The Gregorian Calendar, however, caused widespread anger and fear among Protestants, many of whom saw it as a device of Antichrist to subject the world to the devil. Gregory's coat of arms included a dragon, and this was seized upon [...] as an omen. The Pope, it was claimed, was trying to confuse calculations of the imminent end of the world, so that Christians would be caught unprepared. The changes were an interference with the divine management of the universe. [...] Gregory was attempting to smuggle idolatrous observances into the world under the pretext of more efficient calculation. The university of Tubingen declared that anyone who accepted the new Calendar was reconciling themselves to Antichrist. It was outlawed in Denmark, Holland, and the Protestant cantons of Switzerland, and in many German Protestant states the civil authorities prevented the Catholic clergy from using it. [...] England did not accept the new calendar until 1752, and Sweden not until 1753. The Pope had become the bogey-man of Protestant Europe."

--Eamonn Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, pp. 180-181.

Incidentally, I have seen Gregory XIII's tomb in St. Peter's, with its wonderful sculpted baby dragon peering up out of a stone coffin. He's the cuddliest, most harmless thing you'll ever see...

Architectural awesomeoness from Andrew Cusack: everyone's favorite Gothamist blogs on an all-star theoretical project for the newly-renovated Hell's Kitchen in New York, done by a veritable Justice League of America of classicists and New Urbanists, from ND's Very Own Thomas Gordon Smith (who showed me the fine article on the project in City Journal) to Peter Pennoyer (who I met last week), Richard Sammons (who I once met at a reception), and the firm of Franck, Lohsen and McCrery (who I have never met, but give me time). The whole enchilada brings to mind the glory days of the New York skyscraper under McKim, Mead and White and their followers. Also, we discover that the Legion of Christ has not quite abandoned the California mission style.
There's a Vietnamese Constitutional Monarchist League?
Surfing the Referrals...

All right, boys, I think one of you has some explaining to do:
This page just turned up on a search for "cefalu sicily's most evil man"

Actually, the funniest part may have been the perky headline MSN put on the page: "cefalu sicily's most evil man -- More Useful Everyday" how he's useful, I'm not entirely sure.

On the other hand, I know exactly who's responsible for this one:"moorish architecture ceilings chapel holy spirit" (*coughmattcough*)

And I'm quite proud of ending up in the top 10 on this one: "Notre Dame Catholic orthodoxy"

One of the advantages of being at Notre Dame is all the great scholars that come to speak on campus. Of all the events throughout the year, though, it's hard to top the annual Center for Ethics and Culture conference, which will be taking place this weekend. This year's theme is Epiphanies of Beauty - The Arts in a Post-Christian Culture. Only an event of this magnitude could get the likes of Alasdair MacIntyre, Ralph McInerny, Thomas Gordon Smith, Duncan Stroik, and Barbara Nicolosi all in one place for one weekend. The only problem is deciding which of the talks to go to (if anyone has any thoughts, please share!)

Wednesday, November 17


Blogging confrere CatholicNerd over at Ecclesia Militans sends out an urgent plea to his readership to help save the indult Tridentine Mass in eastern Washington state! Anyone out there in St. Blog's who can help?

Tuesday, November 16

Inculturation At Its Finest

Some fine examples of Chinese Christian churches built in the first half of the 20th Century. The expression of the Christian faith in the classical religious arts of Asia has long been a fascination of mine.

Monday, November 15

Hey, check out the nifty button I just put in, currently residing about halfway down the sidebar (and at the bottom of this post). It features the saint of the day in the Roman Calendar, as well as the Latin collect, in a little popup window.

Calendarium Romanum Generale

Thanks to Catholic Ragemonkey, from whom I stole this.

Well, that's one way to fix a virus.
"Did the quadratic formula explode?"
FDA To Announce Important Labeling Changes for Mifepristone

"The Food and Drug Administration will announce today important new safety changes to the Danco Laboratories, LLC's labeling of mifepristone (trade name Mifeprex, also known as RU-486). Mifeprex was approved in 2000 for the termination of early pregnancy, defined as 49 days or less. FDA and Danco Laboratories have received reports of serious bacterial infection, bleeding, ectopic pregnancies that have ruptured, and death, including another death from sepsis that was recently reported to FDA. These reports have led to the revision of the black box labeling. "

(The death which the FDA is referring is not only the fetus' death, but also the risk of death for the mother)

Friday, November 12


Catholicism WOW

Confiteor, fratres, that I do not speak German, almost at all. My dad & I were scolded in the Frankfurt airport for not speaking it, given my Germanic last name. BUT, if I did read German (instead of reading it through a bad Google translation), this would be my favorite German blog. It's quite cool to see dedicated, young Catholics in Germany!
For the amusement of all, especially Lizzy, St. Blog's resident grailologist over at Catholics, Musicians, Students: the apocryphal coats of arms of King Arthur's knights, as imagined by a bunch of medieval heralds with a lot of imagination and waaay too much times on their hands. Great fun.
If Thomas Kinkade was a Mormon, and if he had decided to paint The Calling of St. Matthew...it would probably look like this. Weird.

(Oh, and if you say, "Well, Caravaggio painted people in contemporary dress in his work," I respond that, "Yes, but we dress uglier now.")

Thursday, November 11


Professor M. explains the Julius II-inspired iconography of the Sistine Chapel today in class:

"...the bearded old white man factor..."

And here, on the drunkenness of Noah:

"...old bearded white man is not looking so good..."

Actually, it was a very cool lecture: do you know, for example, that the chancel screen in the chapel falls precisely beneath the image of the expulsion from Paradise?


Corpus Christi in Nineteenth-Century Mexico City

From Ruth R. Olivera and Liliane Crete. Life in Mexico under Santa Anna, 1822-1855:

The procession of the Holy Eucharist...was one of great pomp and solemnity. Many more people observed the procession than were part of it, and it became an occasion for high fashion among the wealthy, who watched it from their balconies, and for holiday dress among the general throng of spectators below...

A twenty-one-gun salute marked each of the nine phases of the ceremony. The first was at the break of dawn, the second was at the beginning of mass, the third was at the elevation of the Eucharist [One moment: sweeeeeeeet. Okay, back to regularly scheduled programming.] and the fifth was as the Eucharist was escorted by the archbishop out of the cathedral in a grand procession composed of all the dignitaries of the church, the religious communities, the employees and administrators of the civil government with their alternates, the rectors of the schools, the seminarians and students, and the rank and file of the military. A sixth salvo was fired as the procession passed through Vergara Street in front of the Teatro Nacional, a seventh when the procession reentered the cathedral just as the last of the officials were leaving, the eighth at twelve noon, and the ninth and final salute at sundown...

Never was the pageantry more magnificent nor the dress code for city officials and the military more flamboyant than when it was decreed by Santa Anna [then dictator of Mexico] in 1854. Public employees appeared in blue dress coats embroidered in gold, white trousers with stripes of gold, and gold-embroidered vests set off by ornaments appropriate to the individual's rank, plus plumed hats and rapiers. What a bonanza it was for the tailors of the city! [...] Of course, the military was just as colorful in green frock coats with yellow piping, deep blue trousers with sky-blue piping and caps with green pompons. Even their horses had to be of a minimum required height.
Matt Is Not Making This Up

From the back of a volume sitting on my desk, under the heading Books of Related Interest:

Dogs of the Conquest
by John Grier Varner and Jeanette Johnson Varner
"A vivid and surprising account of the introduction of European dogs into the Americas." --The Times of the Americas. 256 pages, illustrations, maps.

Traditional Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico
by Alan R. Sanstrom and Pamela Effrein Sandstrom
"A valuable addition to Mesoamerican ethnography...It contains the largest catalog of Mexican paper figures ever put in print." --American Anthropologist. 354 pages, color and black-and-white illustrations.
Help Wanted

If anyone knows how to make a clear distinction between sacraments (esp. such as Anointing of the Sick) and liturgical sacramentals (such as the Imposition of Ashes) IN THE THOUGHT OF VORGRIMLER, please share your thoughts. I'm at an impasse.

I really do mean in the thought of Vorgrimler, because of course I know the easy answer is that (1) Christ didn't institute liturgical sacramentals and (2) liturgical sacramentals don't effect what they symbolize. But these distinctions are inherent to Vorgrimler's sacramentology, and I want to see if I can make the distinction on his grounds (that a sacrament, as liturgy, is the actualization of the Church-Sacrament; the problem here is explaining how non-sacramental liturgy is essentially different).
Yeah, it's true

You are a Square. What a weirdo.

What kind of Sixties Person are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

That Old Time Religion, Ever New

Sr. Joan Thompson, diocesan Liturgical Consultant, meets YHWH, the Great and Transcendent I AM, Lord of History, in her following critique of His draft of liturgical practices, Exodus 40, submitted in His bid for liturgical design consultant certification with the diocese.


"On the first day of the first month you shall erect the Dwelling of the meeting tent."

A strong start, especially with the words "meeting tent." Keep in mind, however, not to focus too much on this actual tent; ensure, Elohim, that you ordain minimal decoration, or else it may distract the assembly from the rites at hand. Confer the bishops' document for the construction of tents, "Built of Living Sheets and Poles."

"Put the ark of the commandments in it, and screen off the ark with the veil."

I'm afraid that a veil is clearly not in line with your attempt of convenantal-worship renewal. No veil.

"Bring in the table and set it."

Points for the word "table," but ideally, You would have specified that the table should be set up in such a way that all the people of Israel can gather around it. You mean a free-standing table, I assume.

"Put the golden altar of incense--"

Whoa, Eternal Lord! Not so fast. We don't do incense anymore -- didn't you get that memo? Potpourri has similar olfactory effects, without the baggage that incense carries.

"Put the altar of holocausts in front of the entrance of the Dwelling of the meeting tent."

While that is the venerable European tradition for the construction of "altars of holocaust," I would consider shifting the altar a bit off to one side, rather than straight in the middle. By constructing it to the right of center, you can also allow for the Torah lectern to be situated on an equal footing, emphasizes the dual nature of covenantal worship as word-and-bloody offering. Additionally, the rigid, overly-formal visual impact of a dead-centered altar may reduce a spirit of truly human joy and spontaneity in worship-place.

"Set up the court round about, and put the curtain at the entrance of the court."

Excellent! You know, more and more nomadic tents of worship are being redesigned in-the-round. Consider leaving out the curtain, however: you want to portray the image of a welcoming faith community, and the curtain could easily become a psychological blockade barring the entrance of the questioning or unsure.

"Take the anointing oil and anoint the Dwelling and everything in it, consecrating it and all its furnishings, so that it will be sacred."

I appreciate Your generous use of sacred sign by anointing everything with oil, clearly avoiding the logic of minimalism that has marred such celebrations in the past. However, I take issue with Your premise: all creation is equally sacred, so it is wrong to suggest, as You do, that such an anointing will make the tent any more or less sacred -- unless, that is, you are referring simply to the social construct of "sacredness," by which the community is setting aside this sacred space for itself as special and unique.

"Anoint the altar of holocausts and all its appurtenances, consecrating it, so that it will be most sacred."

Again, YHWH, I really have to stress that the entire tent is equally and wholly sacred. This hierarchically ordered notional of holiness is entirely unjustified--unless you are referring, perhaps, the people gathered; it may be argued that the people present in your "meeting tent" are the most sacred, as we are indeed called to be a people set apart to serve the poor.

"Then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the meeting tent, and there wash them with water. Clothe Aaron with the sacred vestments and anoint him, thus consecrating him as my priest."

Oh, my. I assume that You've made a mistake, Lord. Sure You, ominscient as You are, realize that we are all incorporated into a universal priesthood! This notion of uniquely consecrated priesthood is positively medieval, and should have no place in this liturgy. Perhaps we could refer to Aaron, if we must, as the presider?

"Bring forward his sons also, and clothe them with the tunics. As you have anointed their father, anoint them also as my priests."

I'm sensing a problematic pattern, Eternal Light. This consistent emphasis on Aaron and his sons...

"Moses did exactly as the LORD had commanded him."

This also concerns me greatly. Bishop Sklba has written a column on the heresy of Rubricism, perhaps you should read it, Eternal Word. And talk to this Moses about learning to adapt his liturgical actions -- the community's liturgical actions --more to the present circumstances, so that they can learn to "be" liturgically in the context of what is more relevant and familiar to them, as opposed to what some old guy in Rom-- er, Jerusalem, prescribes. He really should be thinking for himself at his age. I thought we had solved the problem of believers infantalized by such meaningless dictates!

"He took the commandments and put them in the ark; he placed poles alongside the ark and set the propitiatory upon it."

Could we change that p-word to offering? It, uh, it might scare people. This is getting exasperating.

"He brought the ark into the Dwelling and hung the curtain veil, thus screening off the ark of the commandments, as the LORD had commanded him."

THERE'S THAT DARN VEIL AGAIN! Thou art being positively impossible. Holy objects are made holy by the people's desire that they be holy, by the ritual-actions of the community! The whole community is consecratory and really should be allowed full and active participation in this sacred action. Mr. YHWH, tear down this veil!!


As it happens, YHWH was not recommended for liturgical certification, and it was heavily emphasized that in no way should the Eternal Word be allowed to exercise a liturgical ministry. "It would be an un-ending, unbloody, holy mess..." she was heard to mutter.

Sunday, November 7


Saturday, November 6

Netherlands braces for 'jihad'

THE HAGUE — The Dutch government yesterday vowed tough measures against what a leading politician called "the arrival of jihad in the Netherlands" after a death threat to a Dutch lawmaker was found spiked with a knife to the body of a slain filmmaker by his radical Muslim attacker.

Apparently the film maker had made a piece critical of Islam.

Friday, November 5


Just in case the Innocent III action figure and the Playmobil nun weren't enough for you, I present the Father William Corby action figure. For those of you who aren't familiar, Fr. Corby was a Holy Cross priest and a chaplain during the Civil War. There is a statue of him here on campus, and a hall that bears his name. One account even says that the team is named "Fighting Irish" for his brigade.

From a page on Fr. Corby at Gettysburg: (scroll to the bottom to see the statue at ND)
"Suddenly, Father William Corby, their chaplain, turned to the colonel and asked for permission to address the men. Receiving it, he hurriedly reached into his pocket and pulled out a purple stole which he placed around his neck. Then he climbed up on a large boulder so the troops might see him. As he gazed out over the dense columns, his first concern was for the souls of these men, men who at that moment stood so close to eternity. There was no time for private confession, so he told the brigade that he would pronounce a general absolution of sins for those who were sincerely contrite and who would resolve to make a confession at their first opportunity. But as he reminded the soldiers of their duty to God, he did not forget their duty to country. He also reminded them of the noble cause for which they fought and declared that the Church would turn its back on those who deserted their flag. Finally, he stretched his right hand into the air and began to recite the Latin words of the absolution.

As he did so, every man in the brigade, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, fell to his knees. Though the battle raged around them-off to the left by Devil's Den and the Round Tops, over to the right in the Peach Orchard-for just a moment, on this part of the field time seemed to stand still. The entire Second Corps fell silent as they watched Father Corby pray over the kneeling regiments."

Thursday, November 4

Futher Rubbish from the Encyclopedia of Failed Ideas

Chia Hypothesis. A discredited evolutionary theory advanced by Dr. Tobias ffoulkes (1799-1867), a minor colleague of Darwin's, if by colleague you mean he crashed a few times on the evolutionist's futon, after spending much of the night at the Royal Geographical Society hooked up to a beer bong, while the two of them were at the University of Edinburgh. ffoulkes, while serving as a surgeon on the H.M.S. Bloodhound discovered a strange domesticated creature kept by a number of Amazonian tribes which appeared to bridge the gap between plant and animal due to the luxuriant growth of chlorophyll-bearing hairs running the ridge of its back. The natives called it the chia, and he would later give it the scientific name of genus chia, species chia He later enumerated in his work On the Origin of Kitsch (1850) two sub-species, the feral, or wild chia (chia chia ferus), and the domesticated, or chia pet (chia chia chia, or ch-ch-ch-chia, for short). While initially thinking they were New World cousins to the mythical vegetable lamb, he later invented an elaborate hypothesis suggesting they were the result of an unfortunate liaison between a tumbleweed and a guinea pig. Darwin hotly contested this by suggesting he go back to his beer bongs. While largely discredited, his theories on the limited syllabification of chia communication have become of interest again as they provide much insight into the parallel field of Pokemon phoneme analysis.

Witherspoon, Sir Archibald (1905-1985). Freudian psychoanalyst-turned-stage director, most famous for arguing in his 1964 monography Danes in Drag that Fortimbras was, in fact, a transvestite. His principal argument was based on the fact that Fortimbras's name means, in old French, either "strong in arms" or "strong in women's underthings," depending on which old Frenchman you ask. He died in a freak staging accident during a rehearsal of a cubist version of Titus Andronicus when a twice-life-size 3-dimensional plaster version of Nude Descending a Staircase crushed him like a bad tomato.

Oedipus retold entirely using California personalized license plates. Wow.

Thanks to Holly for passing this along.

Wednesday, November 3

Lane: Well, I've always dreamed some guy would give me a really confusing Czechoslovakian novel.

Lane: Gift-giving is serious business. If you don't believe me, try spending a month at Korean Bible Camp.

Rory: This stuff is like tribbles.

Lorelai: I got here early and there was nothing to do except feed gummy bears to the bomb-sniffing dogs which, apparently, the United States government frowns upon.
Rory: You got in trouble with the government while you were waiting for me?
Lorelai: Just a little.
Rory: How much is a little?
Lorelai: Learn Russian.

Lorelai: I am a grown woman.
Rory: Says the woman with the Hello, Kitty waffle iron.

Emily: We intend to leave here completely different people.
Lorelai: Yes, I'm going to be Ted Nugent.

Christopher: This town is like one big outpatient mental institution.
Lorelai: Glad you could join us.

Lane: I'm saying this book is a Czechoslovakian football.

--Gilmore Girls, seasons 1 and 2
Is it just me, or does the fact that there is a genre of Japanese theater called No just cry out for an Abbott and Costello routine?
From National Review Online's Kerry Spot:

Ohio Republicans now saying Bush is ahead by more votes than there are provisional ballots, including overseas absentee ballots.
Do we all holy rites;
Let there be sung 'Non nobis' and 'Te Deum'...

Henry V, Act IV, Scene 8
The Roe Effect in Action?

"Bush built a solid foundation by hanging on to almost all the battleground states he got last time. Facing the cruel arithmetic of attrition, Kerry needed to do more than go one state better than Al Gore four years ago; redistricting since then had left those 2000 Democratic prizes 10 electoral votes short of the total needed to win the presidency."

(for the full article, go here)

Which, though it doesn't say, could at least be indirectly related to the slight exageration that "everyone pro-choice has already been born."

Tuesday, November 2

Some otherr translations of the Dies Irae, which the early twentieth-century liturgist Adrian Fortescue considered the finest sequence produced by the Middle Ages: a literal translation can be found here, and the more poetic 1848 Day of Wrath, O Day of Mourning (which appears, of all things, to be a Lutheran translation) is also available online, which I like best in terms of rhyme and rhythm except for the fact it omits the Sibyl in the first verse, which, of course, makes it lose POD points from the get-go.

That Day of Wrath, that dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
Both David and the Sibyl say.

What terror then shall us befall,
When lo, the Judge’s steps appall,
About to sift the deeds of all.

The mighty trumpet’s marvellous tone
Shall pierce through each sepulchral stone
And summon all before the throne.

Now Death and Nature in amaze
Behold the Lord His creatures raise,
To meet the Judge’s awful gaze.

The books are opened, that the dead
May have their doom from waht is read,
The record of our conscience dread.

The Lord of judgment sits Him down,
And every secret thing makes known;
No crime escapes His vengeful frown.

Ah, how shall I that day endure?
What partron’s friendly voice secure,
When scarce the just themselves are sure?

O King of dreadful majesty,
Who grantest grace and mercy free,
Grant mercy now and grace to me.

Good Lord, ’twas for my sinful sake,
That Thou our suffering nature didst take;
Then do not now my soul forsake.

In weariness Thy sheep was sought;
Upon the Cross His life was bought;
Alas, if all in vain were wrought.

O just avenging Judge, I pray,
For pity take my sins away,
Before the great accounting-day.

I groan beneath the guilt, which Thou
Canst read upon my blushing brow;
But space, O God, Thy suppliant now.

Thou who didst Mary’s sins unbind,
And mercy for the robber find,
Dost filled with hope my anxious mind.

My feeble prayers can make no claim,
Yet, gracious Lord, for Thy great Name,
Redeem me from the quenchless flame.

At Thy right hand, give me a place
Among Thy sheep, a child of grace,
Far from the goats’ accursed race.

Yea, when Thy justly kindled ire
Shall sinners hurl to endless fire,
Oh, call me to Thy chosen choir.

In suppliant prayer I prostrate bend,
My contrite heart like ashes rend,
Regard, O Lord, my latter end.

Oh, on that day, that tearful day,
When man to judgment wakes from clay,
Be thou the trembling sinner’s stay,
And spare him, God, we humbly pray.
Yea, grant to all, O Saviour Blest,
Who die in Thee, the Saints’ sweet rest.

--from the Latin of Thomas de Celano, 13th c.

May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

Monday, November 1

A quote from Halloween weekend:

Dan: You ninjas are a menace to society!
Guy dressed as Ninja: No! Society menace to ninja!

The Blessed Damozel, 1875-78. Dante Gabriel Rosetti.

"All beautiful women were 'Stunners' with us. Wombats were the most beautiful of God's creatures. Medievalism was our beau ideal..."

--Val Princep on D.G. Rossetti's slightly peculiar aesthetic beliefs, quoted in Hilton, The Pre-Raphaelites, Thames and Hudson, 1970.

...WOMBATS? I mean, medievalism is great, and so are beautiful women, but...WOMBATS???
A year ago today, I was in Venice, stranded at S. Giorgio Maggiore in the driving rain, and we were all attending a solemn Mass with the Benedictine monks. The recessional was, of all things, an organ intabulation of Luther's "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." Considering the day before All Saints Day is celebrated as Reformation Day by the Lutherans, I wondered if this was merely an extremely strange coincidence, or perhaps proof of the Divine sense of humor.

Wittenberg, circa 1517

The infinitely-varied Zadok the Roman and the multitalented Lauren of Cnytr discover the pleasures of the Tu es Petrus Hard Rock Cafe on the Via Veneto, as well as a frightening entity known as a Salmon Burger. *** "The Archbishop should have mechanisms to help him. This is one of them." Ecclesia Anglicana goes, quite inexplicably, all Erastian on us and also offers a Thurberesque take on the Windsor Report. *** Ode to Ouzo, and a Caveat to the Ode to Ouzo. *** The latest in High-Church Eye-Candy at S. Clements, as always. *** Hear Rep. Grima Wormtongue (D-Rohan) be interviewed by Michael Moore in the weirdly hilarious short film Fellowship 9/11. As we all know, it's the oil in Mordor they want. *** Luther's Potty discovered: "thrills experts," who clearly need intense group therapy. *** Parish church door bricked up in protest by (who else?) Italians. *** The Teresa Heinz Kerry warning system is unveiled by Mr. Otto Clemson Hiss. *** And, last but not least, to warm my Cuban heart, the fall of Castro. I wonder if they could play with the videotape like the Allies did with Hitler's little dance routine?

Architectural Hubris? "I am the greeeat and powerful Ozzzzzzzz!"

Well, it looks like The Windex Chapel at Ave Maria has just gotten a little less glassy, though this seems to be, as Phil the Prince of Inferior Light might say, darning with faint praise. The photographs at Cannon Design frankly don't strike me as terribly promising; as far as I can tell, the revised facade looks virtually the same, but with more concrete, less glass, and no gigundo crucifix.

I think one could make a case, ala Sacrosanctum Concilium, that it isn't exactly noble simplicity: while the gilding and marble of St. Peter's is not ostentatious, saying, as my blogging consoeur Emily here puts it, "hey, we're gonna stick the biiiiggest crucifix in the world smack dab on the front of our glass chapel," is. The interior, shown above, doesn't seem too promising either. It is supremely blah, neither good nor bad. It's...interesting, the one worst word you should never stick to an architectural design. The steel tracery is rather lovely ala Thorncrown Chapel, but strikes me as likely to look too cartoonish in such an immense space. I assume Tom Monaghan is going to put his gigundo crucifix back in there at the back of the sanctuary (near the altar, which is virtually invisible in the picture), but all I see is organ pipes, never a promising sign...and, of course, the Wizard-of-Oz style Giant Floating Head of Mark Mendell.

The whole Ave Maria chapel saga has mystified me from start to finish: it seems a "methinks-the-lady-dost-protest-too-much" attempt to be different at every conceivable level from the mainstream (if one can use such a word) of the orthodox Catholic liturgical revival. While absolute rock-hard revivalism isn't the be-all and the end-all, Monaghan's clumsy embrace of modernity is utterly mystifying, since most of his students are likely going to Ave Maria to get away from the sterile parish life cultivated in big astrodome-modern parishes. It's not bad, it's just... One screws up one's face and wonders, why? What sort of message is he trying to send? I know he means well, but, Tom, Tom, Tom...why?

It verges on head-banging territory.

If you want a chapel to inspire orthodox Catholic students, get an orthodox Catholic to design it, like Thomas Gordon Smith. And, if you want some innovation within tradition, get Erik Keilholtz to do the reredos. It may take a while, but both prudence and patience are virtues, and I would hope that the students and professors of Ave Maria would have the souls of the cathedral builders who took it one stone at a time rather than members of the Microwave Generation.
And now, after much technological ado, I would like to present, for your viewing pleasure, the PODest birthday cake ever. A creation of friend and comment box persona "S" on the occasion of Andy's birthday, it features details such as Bernini's collonade and even the streetlights of the Via della Concilazione.

Do not attempt to adjust your monitor; you are actually looking at a St. Peter's birthday cake.

Redskins' loss may be Kerry's gain

Regardless of the outcome, I'm thinking the game will turn out to be a pretty accurate indicator of how messy the election will be.

A brief history of the trend.

Playing with these election calculators is really way too much fun.

The Pope's Teachings at Discount Prices!

Sounds kind of like selling indulgences, but I promise, this is legit. The Gift Foundation is currently offering Christopher West's "Naked Without Shame" CD Set at cost. If you haven't heard these talks before, I can't recommend them highly enough. If you have, you probably know someone who should hear them. And they're under $4 apiece. Let the evangelizing begin!
Voting with a Catholic Conscience

From a recent issue of The Observer, our campus newspaper:

This year I have tried honestly to weigh in that sacred inner scale of conscience the good of a greater care for the poor, the good of ending capital punishment, the good of being more dovish than hawkish in foreign policy, all these goods and more against the evil spectre of another 30 years of legalized abortion, perhaps another 40 million dead, another 40 million anguished mothers, another countless many who will have some hand in this ongoing tragedy - and I can't.

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