Friday, September 30


Where I'm spending my weekend.

"Joy in the Truth: The Catholic University in the New Millenium"
Annual Notre Dame Ethics and Culture Conference

Have a look at the speakers program, but be warned, you might just turn as green as this blog.
A nice piece on the Mass.

Wednesday, September 28


"Oh, and you want bitchy? I can do that. Your reading of my piece doesn't exactly do much to argue against the bigoted perception that narcissism is an important element in male homosexual culture."
Silver Lining

I have to say, the media fall-out from the announcement that the Vatican plans to "ban gay priests" has had one really unexpected silver lining:

Never did I think I would ever see the secular priest avidly asserting the innocence of the vast majority of Catholic priests.

Now, this has mostly focused on the defense of the (real or imagined, no one really knows) legions of homosexual priests, but that's fine by me, because the vast majority of them are innocent.

I just really like reading that in the New York Times, etc. Certainly not the picture they painted a year ago.

And don't even start me on how, until rumors of a "ban" started to circulate, the priesthood was constantly derided for being "too gay." Again, without any real numbers.


One reporter on the Vatican I asked, and he ought to know, told me that the document is a given, it's going to happen. OK, so be that as it may. But I also want to point out that this NOT a "ban," probably it will take the form of a "minor impediment to ordination," just like a number of other conditions. Until 1983, being born out of wedlock was a "minor impediment to ordination." This doesn't mean that gay people won't be ordained ever; it means that special permission will be required, and anyone who thinks that permission will NEVER be granted is fooling themselves. It may be rare, but it won't be never.
I See this Going Well

It's funny Matt should have posted about Anglican-Catholic relations, because I just had a really long conversation about it.

The Archbishop has led a dialogue between the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion and the Vatican for the last several years. He has also made an effort to establish communion with European Lutherans seeking similar common ground with Rome. "We have no doctrinal differences with Rome which would prevent us from being in full communion with one another," he said in a recent interview. "The climate is brewing for the Traditional Anglican Communion to be the 27th ecclesial group accepted into communion with Rome, and the first church touched by the Reformation to do so. My broad vision is to see the end of the Reformation of the 16th century." Archbishop Hepworth said if Christians truly believe in the notion of an undivided Church, they ought to discover what it takes to find unity with both East and West and "be liberated from everything that stops it." (source)

I want to emphasize to everyone here that "27th ecclasial group" is a reference to the 26 Churches, often called sui iuris rites or simply "rites" (Byzantine-Catholic Rite, Ambrosian-Catholic Rite, Roman-Catholic Rite) which together make up the global Catholic Church.

I also want to emphasize that this is precisely what we predicted back in April, and exactly why we thought LEVADA was chosen to head up CDF.

Hey, people pay Rocco for predictions like these.
Agent 99: Oh Max, you're so brave. You're going to get a medal for this.
Maxwell Smart: There's something more important than medals, 99.
Agent 99: What?
Maxwell Smart: It's after six. I get overtime.

Au revoir, Agent 86.
I am unsure of the provenance of this report, but it was sent to me by a friend who is usually on top of things. This is the first news I've heard on the subject since last spring. The report is appearing at other blogs, too.

Traditional Anglican Bishops Endorse Effort to Seek Inter-Communion with the Roman Catholic Church

September 23, 2005

The Archbishop of the Traditional Anglican Communion and primate of the largest conservative Anglican Church in the world has received an endorsement from the U.S. and Central American Church bodies meeting in Portland, Maine this week to begin developing a plan for intercommunion and unity with Rome. The Most Reverend John Hepworth, the Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, attended the meeting of the General Synod of the Anglican Church in America during the week of September 20-24. The Church bodies gave him an endorsement of his efforts to re-establish formal unity with the Holy See in Rome.

He has led efforts on behalf of the Church to re-establish unity with the Roman Catholic Church with whom he has had discussions for the last several years. He has also made an effort to establish communion with European Lutherans seeking similar common ground with Rome. "We have no doctrinal differences with Rome which would keep us from being in full communion with each other," said the Archbishop in a recent interview. "The climate is brewing for the Traditional Anglican Communion to be the 27th ecclesial group accepted into communion with Rome and the first church touched by the Reformation to do so. "My broad vision is to see the end of the Reformation of the 16th century. Archbishop Hepworth said if Christians truly believe in the notion of an undivided Church, they ought to discover what it takes to find unity with both East and West and "be liberated from everything that stops it."

The General Synod of the Anglican Church in America, including the Bishop of Central America, endorsed the efforts of the Primate today in a strong vote of support. The worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion will now begin the preparation of a formal unity plan to present to the Vatican next year outlining how intercommunion may be accomplished. The two churches have similar theological beliefs. The American Church was the last of the jurisdictions to endorse the efforts of the Primate due to timing of their National Synod. The Traditional Anglican Communion has members in 44 countries around the world.

Hat tip to my good friend "Peter Rabbi."

Totally off topic...

This is just a very fun internet toy.

Sunday, September 25

One Week

The Bishops' Synod on the Eucharist is one week away. I am very excited for this synod.

I was reading through one of the working documents
located here

62. In other responses some lamented the poor quality of translations of liturgical texts and many musical texts in current languages, maintaining that they lacked beauty and were sometimes theologically unclear, thereby contributing to a weakening of Church teaching and to a misunderstanding of prayer. A few responses made particular mention of music and singing at Youth Masses. In this regard, it is important to avoid musical forms which, because of their profane use, are not conducive to prayer. Some responses note a certain eagerness in composing new songs, to the point of almost yielding to a consumer mentality, showing little concern for the quality of the music and text, and easily overlooking the artistic patrimony which has been theologically and musically effective in the Church’s liturgy.

64. Some responses reported other occurrences, opposed to afore-mentioned Church tradition, which obscure the sense of the sacred and the transcendent character of the sacred mysteries. For example, many new Churches—not to mention older ones after renovation—are built on the fundamental architectural plan of bringing the faithful into close proximity to the altar to ensure visual contact and communication between the celebrant and the assembly. Likewise, the tendency to turn the altar around to face the people—in practice eliminating the presbytery—is based on the same idea. In doing so, what might be gained in communication might not sufficiently safeguard a sense of the sacred, which is also an essential part of liturgical celebrations.

66. The responses consistently ask for greater times and spaces dedicated to adoration and meditation. Indeed, because of the frenetic pace of life today, people need to stop, think and pray. Various religions, for the most part in the East, propose meditation according to their particular religious traditions. In light of this challenge, Christians are called upon to rediscover the beauty of adoration, of personal and communal prayer, of silence and of meditation. Christianity teaches that these are a personal encounter with the Blessed Trinity, in Jesus Christ, risen and present in the Eucharist, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to the praise of God the Father.

I've actually had parish priests tell me that the Eucharist is "not about having Jesus inside of you," but about the (metaphorical) sprinking of His Blood on the people as a whole. Hmm.

75. Some responses, however, are less encouraging... the placing of the tabernacle in a separate or little-noticed place, which a good part of the faithful, upon entering the Church, cannot easily find, thus making them unaware of the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and keeping them from praying...

I hope every liturgist on the planet just heard that the little Eucharist Cubicle they built to our grandmothers' dismay was not actually "in conformity with Vatican 2," but a disappointment to the Church herself.

Now, granted, the schema for councils and synods do not always reflect the actual decrees of councils and synods. But it's better than a sharp stick in the eye. And, since this working document is a compendium of the responses of the world's bishops, I think there will be some correlation between the contents of the working document here mentioned and the synod's final recommendations.

Image Credit: The Onion

Notre Dame Introduces "Holding Jesus"


Yet More Jenkins POD-ness

Saturday, September 24


More POD @ ND


This POD moment brought to you by the Notre Dame Inauguration Committee

There were two bishops so clad at the Inauguration Ceremony; Bishop John D'Arcy of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, pictured above, and Bishop Daniel Jenky, CSC, of Peoria.
There were also 3 Bishops and a Cardinal in full choir dress at the Mass earlier that morning, but I have yet to find pictures.


Fr. Jenkin's Inaugural Address yesterday afternoon was nothing short of incredible. I highly recommend reading the entire address here.

Some highlights:
"A Catholic university has a distinctive identity today. But in the beginning, all universities were Catholic universities. The first university was founded in Bologna, Italy, in 1088, as a place for Church officials to study canon law. After that came the University of Paris, developed out of the school at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Next was Oxford, which grew up out of the remains of an Augustinian monastery.

These universities were, as Pope John Paul II later described them: 'ex corde ecclesiae' – 'from the heart of the church.' Their emergence was stimulated by deep principles in the Catholic tradition. These Catholic principles that inspired the founding of universities still define Notre Dame's character and describe her mission today.

... Moreover, the Catholic tradition insists on the unity of all knowledge. Truth is one. Knowledge in every branch of inquiry is intrinsically valuable, and scholars in diverse disciplines pursue the same truth. Truths found in physics and biology do relate to those found in art, literature, and philosophy, and our common pursuit of truth must include conversations across disciplines. The Catholic tradition resists the fragmentation of knowledge; it insists on the essential unity of a university.

... Notre Dame is different. Combining religious faith and academic excellence is not widely emulated or even admired among the opinion-makers in higher education. Yet, in this age especially, we at Notre Dame must have the courage to be who we are."
While the speech was well and positively worded, many of his remarks, especially those on faith and reason and the unity of knowledge took a gutsy stab at the model of a secular research university that is too often emulated here. He spoke not only of the history and traditions of Notre Dame, but that of Catholic universities as a whole. His treatment of the issue of diversity was one of the best I've heard. He spoke of its importance from a 'Catholic as Universal' standpoint, of being able to test our Catholic ideas against others, while not wavering in them.

On a side note, the last line I quoted sounds very JPII-esque.

All in all, I should say that we're off to a good start.

Thursday, September 22


For anyone who's interested...

Several of the events for Fr. Jenkins' inauguration will be broadcast live on the internet. It looks to be quite a to-do, with visiting dignitaries and lots of Catholic/academic-type pomp and circumstance.

Besides, you get to hear me sing, which ought to be reason
enough right there.
Basilica Guardians!
"The Earth continues its tireless journey through the cosmos. The sun rises on another day. The world awakens, God's plan advances. But something is amiss. I sense it everywhere. I can feel it in the wind. I can see it in the frightened eyes of the animals. I can taste it in my mashed potatoes. I feel it from the top of my head, down to my Thomas Aquinas underpants. Something is wrong."
Okay, so maybe it's just a bunch of Notre Dame inside jokes. It's still hilarious.

Wednesday, September 21


Daily Thought

Even if Tolkien had never written Lord of the Rings, I would love him forever because he wrote this:

“Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth.”

One of the biggest lessons I've learned is the importance of the constancy of Jesus Christ, yesterday, today, and forever. So, I wanted to share.

Christ alone will always be with you; He is there in the Eucharist. Once you can spend a quarter hour alone with Him, you will always have a friend, a constant friend, no matter where you travel or who else passes out of your life. There is always Christ, and so for my part I encourage you all to dedicate time to silence before Him in the Tabernacle each day.

The reality of having that one single constant Person throughout all one's life should be enough, in and of itself, to drive us all towards a passionate practice of the Catholic faith, and a love of the Eucharistic Lord.

Tuesday, September 20


From Fr. Tharp:
"I don't drink decaf unless it is absolutely necessary for social decorum. Decaf is evil. I am not exaggerating. Coffee by its nature has caffiene. To decaffienate is to remove an essential good, albeit an accidental good, from the coffee. Therefore, decaf is evil because of the lack of good that ought to be present. Now where is my grinder?"
Amen. Alleluia.
The Cnytr, she is now in love with the football of the Irish that are the fighting, and we of the Whapsters we say, of course she would be, she has the very good taste, no?

By the way, here at the National Shrine of St. Flutius, reactions to the ND-MSU game among the visiting pilgrims were somewhat mixed this last Saturday.
Fun word of the week: Apocrisiarius. Something else to add to my list of pointless ecclesiastical titles that I'd like to have conferred upon me without having to leave the lay state. (cf. my ambition to be made a lay subdeacon, or the papal umbrella bearer, or a captain of the Broken Lance Guard, or Grand Almoner, or absentee Prior of St.-Martin-des-Champs (Lizzy understands why), or the Captain-General of the Galleys of the Venerable Religion of the Knights of Malta, or Cardinal Nepos, or Count Palatine of the Lateran, etc.)
Does Benedict have plans to restore the old double Confiteor????

(Scroll down to August 20's entry, "On the Subject of Possible Upcoming Liturgical Adjustments.")

Monday, September 19

I assumed there would at least be an Isla de San Flutio or the Gulf of Whappingteria somewhere in here, but noooo, we just have the Shea Coast...

(No, seriously, Mark, mazel tov).

The Exorcism of Emily Rose?

Okay, the person who by right ought to handle this topic is The Shrine's Emily, as it's her first and middle names we're talking about. I won't go down that alley any further, as Andy and I have already beaten that joke senseless and stolen its wallet. But I'm curious and want to know, and the Whapster in question is off somewhere, busy sewing burses or plotting a ten-year plan for the the downfall of Planned Parenthood with Lucy, so here goes. Has anyone seen The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and if so, was it a good movie or a bad movie? Is this genuine spiritual fare, or Cath-sploitation?

Catholics in Space

I was a bit skeptical when I saw this book. But the endorsements from George William Rutler, Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, and several chefs, and also the quite lovely and informative flash animation documentary entitled "A Short History of the Vatican Space Program," won me over. (Wait for the animation to load, and watch it to the end, it's worth it). Though, I am somewhat disappointed to see no mention in it of St. Maximilian Kolbe's hypothetical rocket ship nor Fr. Athanasius Kircher's baroque tales of deep-space exploration. Perhaps that's for the sequel.
For anyone out there who still likes the Gnostics...

The DaVinci Code has a lot of people thinking that they like the Gnostics, the loving, enlightened, egalitarian Gnostics...

From the gnostic Gospel of Thomas

(114) Simon Peter said to them, "Make mary leave us, for [she is female]."
Jesus said, "Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven."

Philosophy majors...

My roommate on the phone, downstairs: "What I'm trying to claim is him hitting the golf-ball is a voluntary act..."
Your... Holiness?

The Aposotolic Visitation has begun. Visit number 262,045 to this blog was logged from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana this morning. Even more intimidating, they didn't link to the site, but entered the address in manually.


(ANSA) - Naples, September 19 - Thousands of people packed into this city's cathedral Monday morning to watch the blood of patron saint San Gennaro liquefy in the repetition of a centuries-old 'miracle.' The miracle officially took place at 09.56 (07.56gmt) and was announced by the archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Michele Giordano, who held up a phial containing the blood while a white handkerchief was waved from the altar to the applause of the crowd. This year the miracle took on special importance because it marked 1,700 years from the martyrdom of San Gennaro (St. Januarius) in 305 AD .

Check out also the Mayor's quote.

And for those of you who wonder why it matters...

Failure (to liquify) is a sign of impending disaster. In fact, disaster has struck on at least five occasions when the blood failed to liquefy, including in 1527 when tens of thousands of people died from the plague and in 1980 when 3,000 people were killed in an earthquake which devastated much of southern Italy.

Read more..
Matt, methinks this is your doing.
A Clarification

A nameless blogger from Melbourne, Victoria, who formerly went by the appalation "Sean White" on this blog, has been complaining about something I said about Islam.

In a post deleted because of Sean's hysterics, I said that it is a religion based on Divine Revelation, which it is. Muhammed clearly used the Bible and the Torah in the construction of his Koran. I did not say more or less than that. The entire exchange with Sean was rather surreal, and since this blog is a recreational activity, I usually dismiss posts or posters which disrupt that environment.

Sunday, September 18

"Many great questions press upon my soul and I feel compelled to share them with you. For instance, why is the Ti-di-Bol Man so happy about living in a toilet? Why do Latin American dictators insist on wearing sunglasses and skinny little mustaches when they know it only makes them look sleazy? Exactly what are we saving daylight time for? [...] Why, if I kill a baby seal, am I a terrible man, but if I squash a baby cockroach I am a good man? But, you say, the seal is a helpless animal in the wild, while the cockroach is a pest...then I would say, 'How would you like to have a few hundred baby seals living under your sink?'"

--The Guru (Tim Kazurinsky), Saturday Night Live, 19 February 1983

We all know that if someone is carrying a rain umbrella, it will not rain. In fact, even if one person in a large group is carrying an umbrella, and no one else is, it will still not rain. You might say, that One person carries the umbrella to save us all from rain.

Ah, but how to apply that salvation from rain to each individual member of the party?

Calvin would say that it is simply enough to believe that the One is carrying the umbrella.

Luther would largely agree, yet he would insist on being constantly reassured that the One is really, in fact, carrying the umbrella.

Catholics, on the other hand, would each carry their own paper cocktail umbrella, fully realizing that the paper party umbrellas would never protect them from actual rain, yet convinced that they are to imitate the One carrying the umbrella, and suspecting that, on some level, all of them carrying their small umbrellas together adds to the infinite dryness already won by the One.

Orthodox Christians believe the same thing as Catholics, except with fancier Greek words. And they don’t replace the little paper umbrellas when the paper tears off; they keep using the same ones anyway.

Evangelicals get really excited about telling EVERYONE about how DRY they’ll become if they just believe that the One is carrying the umbrella, but secretly everyone else in the group wonders when these guys have any time to actually appreciate the dryness.

20th Century Mainsteam Liberal Protestants are glad they are dry, but they rather resent that everyone who doesn’t believe that the One is carrying the umbrella gets rained on. They try to explain this away by emphazing that, when it rains, the humidity in the air renders everyone somehow wet, and the space between rain drops renders everyone somehow dry: but the people under the umbrella have the gift of more aptly appreciating their dryness.

Critical scholars analyze both the umbrella and the rain at the molecular level. Seeing the small size of the water atoms and the spaces between the umbrella's fabric, they sincerely doubt that the umbrella would really even keep its original Holder dry. The suggestion that others who believe the Holder is holding the umbrella will themselves be spared rain is clearly a result of the community dealing with the frustrated promises of dryness given on the package in which the umbrella originally came.

Saturday, September 17


Spectacular new armorial art by Marco Foppoli, a pupil of the immortal Archbishop Heim, the longstanding eminence grise of Church heraldry. There are some aspects of Archbishop Heim's work that I find offputting (don't get me started on the Archbishop's opinions on headgear...), but Signor Foppoli has taken the admirable aspects of his tutor and infused them with his own grace and polish.
Now, I go to spread happiness to the rest of the station. It's a terrible responsibility but I have learned to live with it.

--Londo Mollari, Babylon 5

Thursday, September 15

I wonder what the free goodies are like at an Exorcists' Convention.
Vatican cracks down on dissident pasta, panninis

(I know, pannini is a plural in Italian. It isn't in English. So there).
The Hagia Sofia Blog?

Wednesday, September 14


You knew it was coming...

Party aims to ban marriage

"A new political party in Sweden says it will abolish marriage if it gets into power ...

'Instead of marriage we want to promote a co-habitation law that ignores gender and allows more than two people in a partnership.'"


Via DonJim, I enjoyed this entirely too much. An excerpt:

The man of letters, of course, needs a place in which to withdraw from his various dalliances in the social realm and to concentrate on the dominion of learning; a private place in which to enjoy a book, broadsheet or other periodical, or perhaps to brood in a comfortable chair with a dram of scotch and some sound music. The ladyfolk, needless to say, have no place in such a bailiwick, not even to clean, for the wise gentleman knows that a study which accumulates in dust likewise accumulates in a certain intangible value. After all, what man of letters does not relish in removing his 1928 Burns and Oates edition of Martyrs of the Upper Volta from the shelves, blowing the dust from the cover, and charging inwards to read of some blessed soul who met his end in a steamy cauldron?

What then could throw arcadian bliss into disarray quite as much as the sudden appearance of Kaiser Wilhelm?

Has Anyone Read This Guy?

Bettnet links to The Vaticanisti, and I have to say from what I read I was impressed: he had some good stuff I hadn't heard anywhere else, like the Archbishop of Dublin's C&L connections. He's also upbeat, which I value. The primary problem is he doesn't blog with overly great frequency, alas...

Tuesday, September 13

I gotta get to WORK

But first, Thomas Aquinas in Sunglasses.

And I thought our popes looked good in shades.

The site is run by a guy who just got into a minor seminary--sounds like things are shaping up well.

I think we blogged about this place when it was still "New Catholic University."

Now, however, it is "John Paul the Great Catholic University."

Not a bad name, but they better have a kick-butt phenomenology department.

Thrown in the mix with Ave Maria University, Southern Catholic, and whatever the Legionaire's are calling their new school in Sacramento... Looks like the theology majors among us have bright futures.

"Sure, there's the whole 'Paul VI gave it up forever' thing. But if I were Benedict, I'd just have a private coronation after the installation, just me and a few of my 5,000 closest friends."
- Guy Next to Me watching the Installation, circa April 27, 2005

Well, be that as it may.

But I do hope Rocco gets to see this, I think he'd like it.

Image Credit
Don't Get Me Wrong

After the Asian Elephant, whales are my favorite animals.

I just enjoy watching fragile paradigms shift without a clutch.

So I did enjoy this story, for the raw political incorrectness of it all.

You just know 2% of the population of California died of cardiac arrest when they saw that headline. I fear for an even larger proportion of the West Coast population when they face the question: Do we have to serve this in our schools, as multiculturally-sensitive cuisine?

Monday, September 12

Is this the new popemobile?

"Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Allah willing. And this time, don't count on us demonstrating restraint or compassion. We are Muslims..."

Why do they always do the finger-pointing thing?

Apparently the guy on the tape is Adam Gadahn, a boy from Orange County. Really, he should know how campy it looks.

Then Adam says, "Don't believe the lies of the liars at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and 10 Downing Street. They have dispatched your sons and daughters to die lonely deaths in the burning deserts of Iraq and the unforgiving mountains of Afghanistan."

Again, the kid's an American. Who talks like that? Is there something in Radical Islam I don't know about which requires the excessive use of adjectives?

(read original)

Sunday, September 11

For the Latin Lovers Amongst Us

Horatius villam habet, ee-i, ee-i, o
Et in villa equum habet, ee-i, ee-i, o
Cum neigh, neigh hic,
Cum neigh, neigh illic,
Hic neigh, illic neigh
Undique neigh, neigh,
Horatius villam habet, ee-i, ee-i, o

Horatius villam habet, ee-i, ee-i, o
Et in villa vaccam habet, ee-i, ee-i, o
Cum moo, moo hic,
Cum moo, moo illic,
Hic moo, illic moo
Undique moo, moo,
Horatius villam habet, ee-i, ee-i, o

A whole quiz ranking flags...on whether they are hot, or not.

I love vexilology and all, but this probably crosses a number of invisible lines.

Anyway, the poll results are all wrong. We all know the hottest flag is the personal standard of his Imperial and Royal Majesty the Emperor of Austria and Apostolic King of Hungary...

(Pikelhaube tip to Sarah of A Glass of Chianti.)
This is why, late at night, I worry about Christendom College...

(Sorry, Meredith, but...squirrels?)
Me: I'm not sure men could stand the pain of childbirth.
Lucy: (Long pause, thinks about it, and then quietly) They'd turn it into a contest. 'I was in labor nine hours!' 'Oh yeah, well, I was in labor for ten and a half!'

The thing is, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what would happen.

OK, I'm a dork. That's ok.

I'm having a theological emergency: that is to say, I'm currently so taken with a theological question that it is impeding any real progress in other pursuits--i.e., like any of my assignments.

I recently acquired a cheap copy of "God Without Being," by J. Marion, which is what it sounds like: Marion posits that equating God with Being is an intellectual idol, restricting God to the confines of Being. Well, I started reading the book but cancelled the effort in favor of first reading an explanation of Aquinas on Being.

Does anyone have anything experience with Marion's argument? I don't really need a reactionary Thomist defense, because I gave myself plenty of those already. I'm looking for anyone who's actually read Marion to give (1) insights on the text and (2) an optional, separate evaluation of Marion's argument.

The real problem is that I'm addicted to used bookstores like they're crack. But I'm happy in my addiction.

Friday, September 9

File under Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. If this was in a B-Movie and there was an Igor hopping around helping the mad doctor, I'd laugh at the stupidity of the idea. But since this is real, I'm just majorly disturbed. God help us.

Thursday, September 8

Oh, before I forget, Happy Birthday to Everybody's Mom.

Something Else for Dan Brown to Ponder

"You'd think Judas would have started wondering about why he'd been the only guy who'd been seated on the wrong side of the table..."

--Me, after seeing a Last Supper hanging in a dorm chapel.

I knew I liked Fr. Jenkins...

he's a fan of Babette's Feast.
The Seven Deadly Gummy Bears. Yes, you heard it right.

Wednesday, September 7


"All right, I'll believe the one about the alien baby fathered by Richard Simmons, but not the Elvis and Bigfoot thing, okay, Sodano?"

(Image brazenly stolen from Annunciations.)

Okay, but why?

Signs seen on campus:

August 26, 2005


August 27, 2005.

Disgruntled vulcanology geeks?

A Discussion on Modesty

I am a bit of a historic costume geek, as anyone who knows me will be familiar with my long threnodies on the death of gentlemen's spats and womens' evening gloves, and one of the reasons I love fall so much is the predominance of tweed. Well, that and the leaves, and the woodsmoke, and the cool evenings. I kid, I kid. That being said, I've just started carrying out a mini-research project by asking what young Catholic women think about modest dress--not just what constitutes it (the endless and unanswerable debates of knee-length, ankle-length, shapeless or fitted) but what exactly do they find works best for them in terms of style, and what would they like to see that they aren't seeing in the stores. There has to be a better alternative than an unchanging parade of rumpled floor-length skirts and baggy sweaters.

With regards to my own uninformed male opinions, I think it's hard to say if something's modest or not in the abstract; it has to do largely with how someone's wearing it. There are a few guidelines of the most extreme nature, but beyond that, context plays a big role. Getting the tape measure out usually doesn't help much. From the few conversations I've had on the subject with girls, a skirt hemline just below the knee seems a happy compromise. While young ladies have a responsibility to dress modestly, an equal responsibility falls on guys to curb their imagination. Certainly if something so innocuous as bare arms below the elbow or girls' calves are an occasion of sin, I'd suggest the guy get a grip on himself. It's out of the woman's hands by that point, at least I'd be inclined to think so. Both sexes have to work in tandem, and guys need to be modest as well--no running around shirtless on the quad, I don't care how hot it is!

In the circles of Catholic Nerddom here at ND we see a variety of approaches that work. And, most pleasantly, they prevent making the wearer look like she's wearing a plaid table-cloth. Even ankle-length skirts can be worn dressily, based on what I've seen here. Perhaps the Shrine's Emily or Lucy at Lux Fidelis, or Lynn the Frank Parater Fanatic, from our comments-box, will have something to add to the subject. Guys, also feel free to comment. I asked around in the blogosphere, and Lauren at Cnytr suggested good women's suits that didn't look too boxy and masculine, gloves of all sorts, blouses that showed a bit of collarbone but remained modest and flattering, and a revival of the "intellectual" look with glasses and oxford shirts. Jane of Alle Psalite thinks women need more hats and longish (though not extremely long) skirts, and sees nothing wrong with trousers. Neither do I, for the record, so don't go off on about how they're forbidden by the Book of Leviticus. Though, there's something rather poetic about a girl in a skirt, a sight much more common these days than in the past couple of decades.

Incidentally, I have no set opinion on the necessity or irrelevance of chapel veils, it all depends, at this particular moment in time, on whether the individual wearer finds them good for her spiritual life. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps I am not. I do not consider myself expert enough on St. Paul to either defend or refute the interpretations of his Epistles which they ultimately spring from. (I'm not interested in a discussion on this point right now, though it could make good blog fodder in the future.) That being said, I do think when they're used, they should drape well, be gauzy and voluminous rather than attenuated lace pocket-squares, as they have the potential to be quite picturesque and lovely witnesses of traditional practice. Let them be veils rather than antimacassars. Hats also would work well, too, so long as they aren't blocking my view of the Holy Sacrifice.

I'll begin with a quote from St. Francis de Sales: "For my part, I would have devout people, whether men or women, always the best-dressed in any group." Sometimes it works to be a sign of contradiction, but it helps if you're not too grungy-looking. Looking forward to your comments.
I knew there was a reason why I liked My Lord Cardinal Pell of Sydney.
You are Athanasius! You are willing to fight a losing battle, just to make sure that the truth is told. But don't get discouraged; sometimes it takes more than one lifetime for truth to triumph.

Which Saint Are You?
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HT: But I Digress...


The Eternal Thing that Transcends Mere Architecture

A view of the massive model constructed for Sir Edwin Lutyens' Liverpool Cathedral design, 1934

One of the greatest architects of the twentieth century is also probably one of the least known. This is no surprise: with the exception of the magnificent sacred surrealism of Gaudi, the most interesting buildings of the twentieth century were designed by men with names like Bernard Schutze and David Adler, minor masters all but forgotten in the modernist stampede. (Even the major ones, like McKim, Mead and White don't get too much press, either). Sir Edwin Lutyens, though, deserves better: he broke new ground within the classical tradition with his mixture of sober geometry, whimsical lapses into the vernacular and a sensibility which quietly mingled Gothic, classic and a whole range of other influences, even drawing on such distant sources as Mughal India, but never in a showy or self-conscious way. That his magnum opus, the sublime Liverpool Cathedral, was never built and has since been replaced by a spiky modernist-Gothic salt shaker, only adds to the crime of his obscurity.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King would have been the largest church in Britain, almost twice as large as Wren's St. Paul's, and only surpassed by St. Peter's in Rome. Lutyens tells of his first meeting with Archbishop Downey of Liverpool: "I think Dr. Downey [sic; Catholic bishops were sometimes titled Doctor in England at the time] had it in his mind that, in so much that the Anglican Cathedral was being built by a Roman Catholic, his architect should belong to the Church of England. I thought it an excellent idea. 'Why not?' said I. I went to Liverpool... and was shown into a large dull-gloomed room and waited, feeling nervous and rather shy, till in came his Grace--a red biretta on his head and a voluminous sash around his ample waist... He held out a friendly hand. His pectoral Cross swung towards me, and the first words he said were 'Will you have a cocktail?'"

The result was a massive set of plans incarnated in a 17-foot-long, 11-foot high model exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1934. On 5 June 1933, the foundation stone was laid in the presence of the Papal Legate, and mass was said under an 80-foot-tall baldacchino designed by the architect. By 1941, when the war stopped the work, four million bricks and 40,000 cubic feet of Penrith granite had been put down into the crypt. The crypt was completed in 1958, but the estimate of three million pounds for the whole project had been upped to twenty-seven million in 1953, and a smaller domed project by Adrian Gilbert Scott, the brother of the Anglican Cathedral's Catholic architect, put in charge. It was quickly abandoned, and an ugly modern design by Sir Frederick Gibberd won a design competition opened by Cardinal Heenan in 1959. It was completed in 1967.

The design is intruiging, inspiring and slightly idiosyncratic. Lutyens' love of quasi-modern geometric massing sometimes outdoes him (as with the somewhat peculiar and blocky skyline), but the overall affect remains remarkable, a great massive pile of brick and stone heaving a dome skyward. Appropriately, for a church dedicated to Christ's kingship, the theme of the triumphal arch predominates, most notably with the triple-portalled front entrance. The interior would have seemed more Romanesque than classical, dark and hulking and massive with great arches and piers rising into the gloom. Remarkable delicacy accompanies the details of the friezes and capitals, little Mannerist tricks that nonetheless made sense, the sort of thing Lutyens had long specialized in. Byzantine domes hover above the vaults, and a massive baldacchino stands over the high altar, at once sturdy and soaring. All we have are sketches, as the final plans were lost in the curial archives sometime after the great architect's death. Lutyens had done them in the knowledge he would not live to see the church finished, or even to supervise much of the work at all.

In 1969, Lutyens's son Robert wrote, "there is one work of my father's which stands quite outside time and period...which has been saved from prejudiced denigration, by the singular purity--by the abstraction--of its non-completion... It is there, yet it is nowhere; and let no-one condemn it as an unattainable artifact. It could and should have been built. It may well have been the final affirmation of his faith in the eternal thing that so transcends mere building. It is architecture--asserted once and forever--and the very greatest building that was never built!"

One of the only pictures I could find of this thing online was on a page dedicated to the fantasies of a deceased musician who enjoyed designing stop-lists for imaginary organs. This nonetheless seems a fitting tribute to Lutyens, whose humor remains famous to this day.

Tuesday, September 6


La Welborn at Notre Dame

The lovely and talented Amy Welborn (wife, mother and authoress) will give a talk on her new book Here. Now, Catholic life, and the internet at the Notre Dame Law School this coming Thursday, room 120 (NOTE CHANGE), 12:15 to 1:15. All are welcome. I plan on being there, anyway.

Monday, September 5


Ratzenfreude n. Amusement at the expense of angry heterodox.

From For Lack of a Better Term


Liturgy Geek Warning

"Are you turning into a crypto-deacon?"

--Zadok the Roman, on hearing of the last mass I served.

Sunday, September 4


The game was great, but...

...did you see the commercial? Now, I'm not just saying that because I'm one of those girls who see football as a mere social opportunity. (Believe me, if you saw me swearing at the refs last night, you'd know that.) But seriously, the Notre Dame TV spot made my day. For those of you who didn't see it:

A girl walks into a church, kneels, crosses herself, and prays. Now not only was this church beautiful like only Hollywood and the Anglicans know how to do (I kid), but there was no visible free-standing altar! The scenes progress with this girl returning to the church, lighting votive candles, etc. The last thing you see is her reaching into the mailbox and seeing her Notre Dame acceptance letter, then the screen reads: "Notre Dame: a higher education."

Nothing about research, or even academics at all; no appeals to diversity or community. The basic message was: students who pray and go to church come to Notre Dame. There was no question who they were after with that ad.

The times, they are a'changin'.

UPDATE: Watch it here.
And there is a freestanding altar, it's just not very noticable.
As of today at 12:04 AM, the average number of hits per day on this weblog was given as 666.

Hmmmm. Probably has something to do with Jack Chick.

I was a teenage street preacher

Rose of Lima was great, and a Dominican. But the Franciscan St. Rose of Viterbo, who we remember on September 4 when it's not a Sunday, she kicked butt. You gotta respect a gal who at 13 takes on the Emperor, the most powerful man in Europe, as her enemy.

Saturday, September 3


I don't understand football, but I hope we win

On the eve of the first football game of the pontificate of Charlie Weis, a chorus of the greatest college fight song ever written:

Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame
Wake up the echoes cheering Her name,
Send the volley, cheer on high,
Shake down the thunder from the sky,
What tho' the odds be great or small
Old Notre Dame will win over all,
While her loyal sons are marching
Onward to Victory.

Another reason to dislike flavored water, and a very funny story to boot.

The Thomism Blues

This one's for Lauren of Cnytr.

Pope tells Catholics to do calculus

Sorry, after that last headline, it was the only thing I could think of. But yes, multiplying and being fruitful and such is all good. Just keep the mathematics away from me. I can barely count after about ten PM.

Pope tells Catholics to multiply

Yahoo News

Text of Wednesday Address
At This I Laugh...

I can do no other.

I, like many of you, enjoy reading Jack Chick's website. It has a lot to offer the Catholic who is solidly grounded in his faith: laughter, for one thing. I also unfailingly enjoy Chick's depictions of Catholic liturgy: I wish the real thing looked as nice as his drawings, which are uniformly inspired by a missal he probably bought 50 years ago. The "Battle Cry" section is also fun, to see his interpretation of latest world events. The ones about the Papacy are the best, I think.

I used to feel bad, however, when there would be letters included from someone in, say, Poland, saying that Chick brought her to Christ for the first time, and she has now forsaken evil Romanism. That's sad, honestly, and being from Poland or Zaire gave it an extra sting.

I feel bad no longer: I am now convinced at least some, if not all, of these letters are completely fraudulent:

Thank God for the tracts. Yesterday, during visitation and tract distribution, we gave a tract to a 72-year-old man. He had just gone to his priest to confess his plan to murder his daughter. After briefly sharing God's Word, he received the Lord Jesus as his Saviour! He promised he would not proceed to do what he had planned.
G.G., email

Read it here.

I'm actually tempted to write in my own letter, now. What should I say...?

Thank God for Chick tracks! Just the other day, I was going to worship the Really Spectacularly Holy Face of Mary, Whose most holiest contenance blinds the eye to All Else. But just after I had bought the birth control pills I was going to give to the nuns who run the shrine so that Father would say Mass for me (so much easier than going to Church myself!), I ran into the kindliest, gentlest, and most charitable soul I ever met. I think she would have been feeding the poor, this one, if feeding the poor weren't simply an empty work that Catholics invented to get themselves into Heaven! Anyway, I was so taken back by her articulate yet nuanced concern for my spiritual happiness, that I just had to accept the artistic little booklet she offered me.

WOW! It turns our that Roman Whore of Babylon had lied to me ALL ALONG. Fortunately, the scales have fallen from my eyes, and I now realize The TRUTH!! THE BIBLICAL JESUS HAD NO FACE!. This obviously means that Mary had no face, either! How wrong I was to believe the Anti-Church's lies when I went to worship Mary's non-existant face. What Chick says is true: if Mary had eyes, she would be weeping. Thank you, JACK!

I would send it in, of course, if I were as comfortable with lying (and its Prince) as certain other writers...

Friday, September 2

Thoughts on the relevance of Anglicanism's ninteenth-century liturgical experiments to the modern Catholic Litugical Renewal over at The New Liturgical Movement.
Happy Birthday to my Dad! Felix sit natalis dies!

Unburied Dead in the Crescent City

Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna, in die illa tremenda
Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra:
Dum veneris iudicare saeculum per ignem,
Tremens factus sum ego et timeo
Dum discusstio venerit atque ventura ira:
Dies illa dies irae calamitatis et miseriae
Dies magna et amara valde.
Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Κυριε ελεησον.
Χριστε ελεησον.
Κυριε ελεησον.
Don Jim: People who sit around talking about divine punishment during natural disasters are like the ones who saw the blind man sitting in the street and asked Christ whether he was blind because of his own sins, or because of the sins of his parents. Neither, according to Christ. Read more.

Excerpted from the order for a Procession in Time of Tribulation, The Roman Ritual, 1964:

V. Our Father (the rest inaudibly until)
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.

Then Psalm 19 is said; or in place of it, Psalm 90. After the psalm, the priest continues:

V. God is our refuge and our strength
R. A helper in all tribulations.
V. Lord, save Your servants.
R. Who trust in You, my God.
V. O holy God! O holy strong One! O holy Immortal One!
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Help us, O God, our Savior.
R. And deliver us, O Lord, for the glory of Your name.
V. Lord, heed my prayer.
R. And let my cry be heard by You.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. May He also be with you.

Let us pray.
Almighty God, do not disdain your people who cry to You in their affliction, but for the glory of Your name be pleased to help us who are so sorely troubled. Show us, O Lord, Your inexpressible mercy, blot out our transgressions, and graciously deliver us from the condemnation they deserve. We entreat you, Lord God, grant us, Your servants, the enjoyment of lasting health of body and mind and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary ever a Virgin, free us from present sorrow and give us everlasting joy. Graciously hear us, O Lord, in our tribulation, and turn away the stripes of Your wrath in which we justly deserve. God, our refuge and our strentgh and source of all goodness, heed the holy prayers of Your Church, and grant that we fully obtain whatever we ask for in faith; through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Thursday, September 1

Be sure to check out the crazy comments-box additions to our growing canon of (cough) alternate verses to For All Your Saints Still Striving, now featuring special tributes to St. Derfel Gadarn, St. James the Dismembered, St. Humphrey the Hermit, St. Bledrws the Forgotten and plenty more. (I can vouch as a hagiography nerd, all these guys are real.)
Equus pulcher
currens per campos
quo te procedis
vento flante ungulae cirris?

Oh, and whoever produced this has waaaaay too much time on their hands.
The U.S. Air Force has come up with a new symbol. Graphically interesting, but still a little too cheesy sci-fi Thunderbirds-esque for my taste. Of course, I think the Air Force's sense of taste went downhill ever since they took the pockets off their dress uniform. Or maybe when they switched from World War II brown to powder-blue polyester. Still, those boys and girls sure can fly.

Do Not Give What is Holy to Dogs (Unless They're OP)

A puzzling aside from St. Charles Borromeo's famous manual for church builders:

The [chapel] railings should be tightly interwoven with some complex iron work from the bottom part to the height of one cubit in order to keep out the dogs.

Does this mean that, say, Prince Barberini or other Romans had a habit of taking Fido for walks in Sant' Andrea della Valle? Odd, very odd. I don't know about Borromean Milan, but there's only one church in Rome which allows animals inside, the old Florentine parish of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, where I saw a number of small fluffy old-lady dogs and a lunatic carrying out an extensive conversation with a heat lamp in the middle of mass.

Tabernacles and Eucharistic Doves

From Peter F. Anson's intruiguing Churches: Their Plan and Furnishing, published in 1948, and full of all that was good (and some that was bad) in the old Liturgical Movement:
At Amiens Cathedral, the custom [of a Eucharistic dove] has survived all legislation and the eighteenth-century Baroque reredos was designed as a background for a hanging pyx. The first reference to the use of a suspended vessel is in the life of St. Basil, written by the pseudo-Amphilocauts (probably in the ninth century) where it is stated the saint ordfered a golden dove to be fashioned and, having place in it a portion of the body of Christ, hung it above the altar. [...] Yet there are still a few places in Europe where the older methods have survived -- e.g., at Amiens, as we have seen, and at the Benedictine Abbey of Solesmes, which retains a suspended pyx [..] and in Germany and Belgium a few "sacrament houses" -- tall towers usually built against the north wall of the sanctuary -- survive. In 1863, the prefect of the Sacred Congregation [of Rites] wrote to the Belgian bishops forbidding the further use of aumbries or towers for reservation, and ordering tabernacles. This order was not enforced in every diocese where practices which had prevailed for centuries were cherished.
Incidentally, Anson links the centrally-placed tabernacle on the altar to the modern (and laudable) practice of frequent Communion.

It seems some of these older methods have been revived in places; while I somewhat dislike the principles under which it was undertaken, the spired Sacrament House and exquisite neo-neo-Gothic wooden screen at the Cathedral of the Madeleine are quite splendid and are an example of a modern renovation done well. I am leery of screening the tabernacle, but certainly the fact it remains in the center of the apse is a positive development. This instance of a screened apse with tabernacle behind the altar is also a feature of the renovated Christ the King Cathedral in Superior, Wisconsin, the work of (cough) liturgical consultant Dick Vosko. It is, however, not nearly as bad as his other work, and from the photos almost becomes palatable in spots. (The question, of course, is what it looked like beforehand). Anyway, I would sooner have the tabernacle semi-visible behind a beautiful grille at the center of the apse than have God banished to a rear closet somewhere.

And also, in a footnote, a humorous little aside from Anson:

There are some sacristans, especially nuns [!], who seem to think that the surface of a sanctuary floor should resemble that of a ball-room or skating rink.
While we're at it, the Latin and English lyrics to Orientis Partibus can be found here.

Hagiographic Humor

One of our favorite pastimes around here is producing extra verses--of somewhat dubious liturgical quality--for that marvelous work-horse of the hymnal, For All Your Saints Still Striving, which itself already has a whole host of alternate verses for saints' days. Our pal Joseph at Omnia Catholica has made a particular art-form of this practice, though his current verse for St. Augustine is pretty good as a real liturgical lyric, like my own attempt to produce a verse in honor of Blessed Charles of Austria last summer, which is buried somewhere in the archives.

Incidentally, semi-reverent parodies of liturgical pieces have a long history (so do irreverent ones, of course. You could describe Orientis Partibus, the delightful hymn in honor of the donkey that carried Mary to Egypt and sung on the so-called Feast of Asses a "filk" (or at least a re-use of the tune) of the beautiful Marian hymn Concordet Laetitiae, for instance.

Hinhin hinhin hinhin, by the way, is the way Latin donkeys bray.

In that vein, while walking back to my apartment last night, a friend of mine and I produced a verse--probably not appropriate for liturgical use--in honor of Jolly Old St. Nick:

All praise to you, Saint Nich'las
Great bishop of My-ra
When you heard that Arius,
You punched him in the jaw.
And now you are beloved
By kids both big and small:
But if they're really lousy,
They'll get no toys at all!

And now a few from my own pen:

We praise you now St. Joanie,
The toughest French farm girl,
When the Dauphin tried to trick you,
You showed him who was who!
And now we need your prayers today,
Since France is up a creek:
"Where is your bapt-i-ism, O nation proud, not meek!"

All praise to you, St. Christopher
A giant of a guy:
Some people think you had a dog's head,
And others just ask why.
They took you down in '69,
And made your feast look small,
But in our estima-a-a-tion,
You're still really walking tall!

And lastly:

O blessed strange Christina,
The nuns, they thought you weird:
For when they tried to bury you,
You lept up from the bier.
You could not stand stinky onion-breath,
Or sins that really smell:
O through your intercess-i-ion,
May God deliver us from Hell.

And a serious thought on that last verse: to quote Flannery O'Connor, sometimes "the Truth will make you odd." But not always, of course. It takes special grace to be a sign of contradiction.

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