Tuesday, January 31


Shameless Self-Promotion

or maybe, to put a more positive, JPII-esque spin on it, "Self-Promotion Without Shame!"

At any rate, nomiation for the 2006 Catholic Blog Awards is underway. Need I say more?

From Golden Legend to Urban Legend?

I was just perusing the Wikipedia entry (whether it's accurate or not, it is rather interesting) chronicling the modern-day folklore surrounding the so-called "Vanishing Hitchhiker," and it notes, among other things, that the story has its ultimate origin in a 1602 pro-Protestant tract entitled Om the tekn och widunder som föregingo thet liturgiske owäsendet (On the Signs and Wonders Preceding the Liturgical Broil). (I suppose, if one splits hairs, St. Philip the Deacon was the first one, what with the Ethiopian eunuch and all--though we have this on rather better authority). More interesting is that some of the strangely numerous versions of this popular urban legend seem to circle around "vanishing nuns (a surprisingly common variant), some of whom foretell the future." In fact
1975 saw a rash of reports of a prophetic nun vanishing from cars after hitching lifts near the Austrian-German border. On 13 April that year, after a 43-year-old businessman drove his car off the road in fright at the disappearance of his passenger, Austrian police threatened a fine equivalent to £200 (1975 value) to anyone reporting similar stories.

In early 1977, nearly a dozen motorists in and around Milan reported giving lifts to another vanishing nun, who (prior to her unexpected disappearance) forewarned her benefactors of the impending destruction of Milan by earthquake on 27 February (this disaster did not happen) (La Stampa, 25 and 26 February, 1 March, 1977; Dallas Morning News 25 February 1977).
While urban legends about vanishing nuns have also appeared up in the Pacific Northwest, probably the most unusual variant (chronicled by a brace of folklorists, Beardsley and Hankey, rather than a proper miracle detective) deals with, of all people, Mother Cabrini, who apparently got picked up by a motorist in Kingston, New York in the year 1941, before disappearing.


Well, I suppose there have been stranger modes of private revelation. I wonder how Mary's Fiat fits into all this?

Monday, January 30

Confounding Catagorization

The Falsifier
You scored 60% individualism, 12% fatalism, 100% hierarchy, and 52% egalitarianism!

Congratualtions, you are helping to disprove Cultural Theory!
Cultural Theory argues that each person will adhere to one, or possibly
two, of the basic cultures. The other viewpoints will sound insane or
incoherent. Because you agree with three of the cultures, you don't fit
Cultural Theory's predictions.
Take that, Mary Douglas!

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 40% on individualism
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 3% on fatalism
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on hierarchy
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 40% on egalitarianism
Link: The Scientific Cultural Theory Test written by Stentor on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test


POD Nun Alert!

The Canticle of Chiara blog, dedicated to all things female and contemplative, is running a series leading up to next week's feast of Saint Scholastica, patroness of cloistered nuns. Today, she features the Oblates of Mary, an extremely POD group of nuns in Pennsylvania, who dedicate themselves to prayer, retreats for priests, and the sewing of POD vestments. Also check out Chiara's "Religious Orders" sidebar, featuring the best of the best female religious communities!

Dec. 2005 cover of Angelus. Hmm...


The above Google-translated site (from French) tells us:
One knows now, since Friday last 13 January, according to declarations' of Mgr Fellay Higher General of the FSSPX, that Roman authorities... would be almost ready "to regularize "the canonical situation of the FSSPX in the centre of the Church, while " granting to him "a" statute of autonomy ", - measure the importance of the thing - and that for this purpose, they would very seriously consider the creation of "a personal apostolic administration like that created in 2001-2002, in Campos (Brazil).*

The personal prelature would (apparently) be called "the Personal Prelature of the Holy Savio(u)r."

Rumbling abounds elsewhere in blogosphere, but accounts from both the left and the right are so bitter/politicized that I recommend to you the above badly google-translated French edition.

Now, where the rubber hits the road is in the control which the local ordinary would exercize over the personal prelature of Holy Savio(u)r: Opus Dei, the only existing personal prelature, claims that their faithful are subject to the local ordinary in all affairs beyond members in Opus Dei--what exactly that means, I cannot say. Although, I can say that Opus Dei was present in Milwaukee during the reign of Abp. Weakland, or perhaps inspite of Abp. Weakland; this suggests that, as a personal prelature, SSPX would be able to licitly go where no licit Tridentine Mass has gone... in 40 years.

Nonetheless, Canon Law seems to suggests that the consent of the local ordinary is necesary, though leaves much of that relationship to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

*Also, apparently, things have gone well for the Campos priests: they are now present in 13 Brazilian dioceses!

"Even feminists question the goals" of the V-Monologues

There's a student letter to the editor in today's Observer, which, while written from a secular feminist angle, points out that there are other, less questionable ways to serve the cause of women than the Monologues:
It appears that [supporters] believe that if [the Monologues] are banned, that this is tantamount to banning the advancement of such a worthy cause. Even feminists question the goals [of the Monologues] ...Betty Dodson, author of Our Bodies, Ourselves saw the play as having a negative and restrictive view of sexuality and an anti-male bias. She called the play a blast of hatred at men and heterosexuality.

A Meditation on Quill Pens

I've got my eye now on a little laminated holy-card of another oddly slim Thomas Aquinas, beatific and roseate like all the saints used to be, for better or worse, before 1967. He's looking up at a crucifix, and rather absently rests his quill pen on an open book before him. He's holding the goose quill--white tipped with black, just like his robes--the wrong way. He'd get ink all over the paper. I only found this out yesterday when I tried writing with one. It's strangely theraputic.

It would seem at first glance the most desperately antiquarian of measures, writing with a quill, so retrograde as to even shrug off the iron pens of Roman days, like those that purportedly--in the wildest hagiographic flights of fancy--stabbed to death the schoolmaster-martyr St. Cassian. Why not a steel-nibbed fountain pen, or even one of those calligraphy marker deals that you buy and forget to use and find them dried up like zombies in the back of your desk-drawer months later?

I'm in a drawing class right now where we're copying the techniques of the old masters--sanguine pencil, quills, ink-and-wash. Perhaps there's a certain magisterial nostalgia at work here, tapping into the methods that made men like Bernini and Borromini so great, but it's more than that. The quill, this thing that was walking around on a goose a few months ago, is actually pretty easy to use once you slice off the tip and fall into the regular rhythm of dipping and scrawling, tiny mucilagenous pools forming unexpected and delightfully serendipitous shadows at the edges of your sketch. Or you turn it sideways and the line goes down to a milimeter with absentminded, scratchy ease.

Three pens in one, thick, thin, thinner, and perhaps in the end a lot nicer than all the fancy rapidographs and micron pens you can get at the store. At least for some jobs. It could get to be a pain after a while, but like the tiniest of scalpels, it's good for those small, quick, delicate jobs. We look to the past not because of a mere love of ancient things, but because they knew what they were doing.

Perhaps we're not willing to give them credit. As with quills, so with a million other things, including old stories, old books, old tradition, or old philosophy. We invent superstitions like those nebulous Dark Ages to discredit Aquinas and Augustine or pretend the ancient Egyptians were too stupid to build pyramids on their own without construction foremen from Planet X. The ingenuity of the human mind is so easily forgotten in the days of push-button publishing. Perhaps things are too easy. The past is safely cordoned off, behind glass, to be studied in a safe and sterile laboratory. Medieval man lived face-down in the mud, and the cathedrals and castles came out of nowhere. C.S. Lewis speaks of the incredulity modern folk have when asked to read an old text--Piers Plowman, perhaps, or Boëthius. What does that have to do with me? Don't we have historians to deal with that? And so we continue to repeat past mistakes, in higher and more extravagant pitches.

At the same time, sometimes there's a reason the past is past. We may have Chartres, Florence, Reims, Louis IX and Leonardo, but we also have cholera, plague, buboes and the surreal occultism of alchemy. (And just like now, we had have vaccinations and the internet and also Hitler, and...er, the internet). Just because Aquinas wrote with a quill pen does not make him an ignoramus, as some positivists would have it. And just because Aquinas wrote with it does not automatically make it better, as some nostalgics might say. Both souls lose out on the nuance of history, and God is in those details. (Aquinas is reputed to have had some of the worst handwriting in history, a fact which makes me realize there is hope even for myself). But perhaps the discipline and the care and the ease from which the ink flowed from his quill, or the rhythm--sometimes frantic, sometimes soothing--of the dip, scribble, dip, perhaps that got down into his orderly head, like the slow and stately pace of the liturgy.

So much of our Catholic culture is like that--something that seeps down into your soul, something medicinal that may not make sense the first or second or tenth time you do it, but subconsciously it changes and shapes you. Bow your head enough times at the Holy Name and you realize the awe-inspiring power of that Word, or that God is so holy that glory even clings to his name in our insignificant mouths. See a priest with his back to you every week and eventually you realize you're both facing the same direction, and while he may not be talking to you, you're both talking to the same Lord.

But I'm not saying to go back to candelight, quill pens and the, ahem, quaintly brief lifestyle of the medieval peasant. All the time, anyway. But at least the modern world ought to give them some credit, and appreciate the ingenuity they had. I'm grateful for indoor plumbing, and, of course, Blogger. Except, perhaps, in those cases where it works, and where it slips in that little grace-note which we've lost. Technology may have made us lazy, but if we're to get anywhere it will be by an integration of past and future--forcing us to outdo the ancients with modern methods rather than assuming, in the days of steel-and-glass curtain walls we can't use our mighty engines to produce beauty that comes over us by degrees, in the true spirit of Catholic culture. Though it's a task to undertake with humility, and a few scribbles with a quill might help us to remember that only God can make a goose.


Habemus miraculam?

The Vatican may have found the "miracle" they need to put the late Pope John Paul one step closer to sainthood -- the medically inexplicable healing of a French nun with the same Parkinson's disease that afflicted him.
World to tiresome, arogant Muslims: We do not all have to tiptoe around your insecure hypersensitivities.

Sunday, January 29

I know there's been a lot in the news lately (as always) concerning the Catholicity of Notre Dame, but I think the ultimate proof of the fealty of Our Lady's University to Christ's Church emerged last night--at what other major university would you find five separate parties being thrown by five separate groups of people to honor Thomas Aquinas on his feast day?

Saturday, January 28

Incidentally, Taylor Marshall has a couple of fine posts on the sinfulness of contraception over at Canterbury Tales, including a thought-provoking quotation from Malcom Muggeridge.

Novitiate Anniversary

A very happy first anniversary to Lauren of Cnytr on the occasion of her entrance into the Third Order of Preachers! Ad multos annos, and words to that general affect, as the very un-Dominican Bertie Wooster might put it. God grant you much happiness in your vocation!

(If Zadok gets to embarass her, so do I.)

The world's skinniest Thomas Aquinas, La Crosse, Wisconsin. To quote my father, "Good grief!"

Incidentally, while we're on the subject of Heretics and Those Who Refute Them, does anyone think that Utraquist would make a good name for a diet product?

More Fun with Thomas, &c.

From G.K. Chesterton's St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox, a splendid little book about a very big fellow indeed. Everyone knows this anecdote, probably, but it's too good to pass up today:
But Thomas came very unwillingly, and, if we may say it of so kindly a man, rather sulkily. As he entered Paris they showed him from the hill that splendour of new spires beginning, and somebody said something like, "How grand it must be to own all this." And Thomas Aquinas only muttered, "I would rather have that Chrysostom MS. I can't get hold of."

Somehow they steered that reluctant bulk of reflection to a seat in the royal banquet hall; and all that we know of Thomas tells us that he was perfectly courteous to those who spoke to him, but spoke little, and was soon forgotten in the most brilliant and noisy clatter in the world: the noise of French talking. What the Frenchmen were talking about we do not know; but they forgot all about the large fat Italian in their midst, and it seems only too possible that he forgot all about them. Sudden silences will occur even in French conversation; and in one of these the interruption came. There had long been no word or motion in that huge heap of black and white weeds, like motley in mourning, which marked him as a mendicant friar out of the streets, and contrasted with all the colours and patterns and quarterings of that first and freshest dawn of chivalry and heraldry. The triangular shields and pennons and pointed spears, the triangular swords of the Crusade, the pointed windows and the conical hoods, repeated everywhere that fresh French medieval spirit that did, in every sense, come to the point. But the colours of the coats were gay and varied, with little to rebuke their richness; for Saint Louis, who had himself a special quality of coming to the point, had said to his courtiers, "Vanity should be avoided; but every man should dress well, in the manner of his rank, that his wife may the more easily love him."

And then suddenly the goblets leapt and rattled on the board and the great table shook, for the friar had brought down his huge fist like a club of stone, with a crash that startled everyone like an explosion; and had cried out in a strong voice, but like a man in the grip of a dream, "And that will settle the Manichees!"
Incidentally, while much humorous hay has been made of the fact St. Thomas probably...um...had to get his cappa at the Medieval Big and Tall Store (i.e., the question of how the meditating, levitating Thomas might fit into the question of whether God can make an object so big He cannot lift it, or for that matter, his nickname of the "Dumb Ox"), I've never heard any reference to his eating habits. In fact, I would assume him to be rather on the abstemious side of things, which makes me wonder if he had some sort of metabolism problem. Or maybe he just didn't have time to get out much. But anyway, never trust a skinny Dominican, as the Cnytr says.

For Your Edification

before I run off to Mass, I leave you to contemplate today:

The Triumph of St Thomas Aquinas over the Heretics

(bigger image available at the link)

It's the End of the World as We Know it...

...and I feel fine.
(scroll down a bit to see what I'm talking about.)

Thanks to Joseph for sending this over.

Thursday, January 26


More on Jenkins' Address

The Sober Sophomore made the pages of the Observer today!

There is also a good article on campus reactions to Jenkins' address here.

Academic Freedom and Catholic Character

Video of Fr. Jenkins' address is now available online, as well as the text of the faculty address. (The student address was basically an abbreviated version of it.)

Liturgy Alert

Incidentally, for those of you on campus, I have it on very good authority that Friday's celebration of the vigil of St. Thomas Aquinas at 5:15 PM is likely to be pretty awesome. I am informed there's to be a whole lotta Latin--and I don't just mean the occasional motet. Be there, aloha. (Sorry, gratuitous Hawaii 5-0 reference.)

Wednesday, January 25


Nota Bene

Contrary to reports from the UPI and others, there was no 'gay parade' on campus in connection with the film festival. Unless they marched around the perimeter of the theatre after the movie or something.


The text of Fr. Jenkins's Monday address to the faculty is available here at the South Bend Tribune. The speech he gave Tuesday to the students was a similar, if abridged version, with the portions addressing student academic freedom, rather than faculty academic freedom, highlighted.

With regards to Fr. Jenkins' stage presence, as Emily said, he certainly did not seem rattled. I've seen rattled before, and that's not it. While I was unable to see his speech Tuesday live (I arrived late and ended up watching it on closed-circuit TV in the La Fortune Student Center), at least on the big screen he seemed very a composed and coherent speaker, emphasizing his points clearly and cogently. While I have never taken a class with him, I've seen him interact warmly with students, either one-on-one or with a larger group of people, and he's always been very self-assured in the pulpit--er, ambo--whenever I have served mass for him. I think he handled himself very well yesterday.

From today's Observer

Speeches (sic) evidence of Jenkins' leadership emergence

"You can go wrong in two ways," Jenkins told The Observer Tuesday after his address to the students. "One is to just sit in the office and say, 'This is what we're going to do, we won't do that' - just issue decisions from here on out. That's a mistake."The other is, 'Oh, I'm just going to take in the views of some people, and never really act.' That's a mistake. That's not leadership."
Take notes, kids. That's about as close as you'll ever hear to a direct criticism of the previous administration.

Jenkins said he used his first real foray into extensively addressing a polarizing issue not to test the waters, but to explain clearly where he stood and invite response from the University community.

The reason to address academic freedom and Catholic character, he said, stems from a sense of duty to the University.

Jenkins maintains stance, invites response

I don't know what speech the reporter was at, but I never saw Fr. Jenkins looking "seemingly rattled at times." One of my favorite moments came when a student delivered comments, and Fr. Jenkins switched in to Philosophy professor mode, noting that his terms were too vague and he should strengthen his argument by tightening them up a bit.

And, in other news...

Habemus Encyclicam!

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

So, I woke up this morning to find myself on the front page of the paper. Not just quoted, mind you, but color picture above the fold. Great. I hate pictures of myself. At any rate, the article is worth a read, as is this one in the Chicago Tribune (also front page).

It was kind of odd, we were just standing around chatting afterwards, trying to decide whether or not to cut the next class, which we were already late for (not, as the Chicago article states, "arguing outside the auditorium"), when a bunch of reporters came up looking for comments. It was nice to get a word in edgewise with the press, since we certainly got edged out on the open-mike time inside.

It's Encyclical Time!


We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Saint John's Gospel describes that event in these words: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should ... have eternal life” (3:16).

Did Christianity really destroy eros? [...] Evidently, eros needs to be disciplined and purified if it is to provide not just fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns.

Two things emerge clearly from this rapid overview of the concept of eros past and present. First, there is a certain relationship between love and the Divine: love promises infinity, eternity—a reality far greater and totally other than our everyday existence. Yet we have also seen that the way to attain this goal is not simply by submitting to instinct. Purification and growth in maturity are called for; and these also pass through the path of renunciation. Far from rejecting or “poisoning” eros, they heal it and restore its true grandeur.

This is due first and foremost to the fact that man is a being made up of body and soul. Man is truly himself when his body and soul are intimately united; the challenge of eros can be said to be truly overcome when this unification is achieved. Should he aspire to be pure spirit and to reject the flesh as pertaining to his animal nature alone, then spirit and body would both lose their dignity. [...]

More at the Vatican webpage.

Tuesday, January 24


The times, they are a'changin'...

As those of you who have been following the discussion know, Fr. Jenkins addressed the Notre Dame faculty yesterday, and the student body today, regarding academic freedom on campus, especially as it pertains to the V-Monologues and other such events. The full text of the speech can be found here, and is well worth reading.

The gist of it was that, while it is within the purvew of a Catholic university to entertain discussion on such issues, repeated performances with backing from academic departments, implies that the university as a whole endorses such events, and the set of values they hold. Notre Dame would not sponsor events that are overwhelmingly pro-euthanasia or anti-Semitic, although there is, of course, ample room for discussion and dialogue on these issues. In the same way, events that promote a wrong view of sexuality without also presenting a coherent Catholic position, cannot be endorsed by Notre Dame.

The official policy on such matters has not yet been set, and will not until all sides have a chance to weigh in with their opinions, but for the time being, the Monologues will only be allowed to be performed in a classroom discussion setting, and ticket sales and fundraising will not be allowed. Also, the Queer Film Festival will be required to undergo a name change and major content revamping.

One disappointment came not from the speech itself, but from the town hall-style comments afterward. Several proponents of the events in question rushed forward to the microphones with their pre-prepared statements, which meant that by the time comments were cut off, only one supporter of Fr. Jenkins' remarks had been able to comment, even though several were on deck.

In the end, though, I couldn't have asked for much more from the event. Fr. Jenkins was firm and clear, but also very diplomatic, showing genuine concern and interest for those on both sides of the debate. In the end, this debate is going to be won at a grassroots level, soul by soul. Policy changes are important; Notre Dame is regarded by many to be at the heart of Catholic America, and in this position, her official policy has great potential either for edification or for scandal. As Fr. Spitzer has noted, however, true change occurs not only on thise level, but in converting the culture. If policy changes, but those opposed to it are merely left to sit and seethe over it, without coming to an understanding of the beauty of Catholic Truth, we haven't succeeded in our true goal, the salvation of souls.

So, while I am thrilled at the coming policy shift, and heartily applaud Fr. Jenkins for his courage to stand up to wide-spread adversity from students, faculty, and the academic community at large, I would also ask you to pray for those of us "on the ground," for whom much of the dirty work is still underway.


On the Lighter Side (?)

...isn't this one of the signs of the Apocalypse?

Monday, January 23


Roe v. Wade

Yesterday was one of those dark anniversaries that punctuate the modern calendar with increasing frequency--memories like the murder of presidents and statesmen, or terrorist outrages that took down whole city blocks and cut short the lives of ordinary folk whose only crime was to happen to be going about their business. But unlike those, the murder's still going on here, and the numbers mount, like broken, defenseless bodies being dug out of an avalanche, and they were not the result of some immense, vast, faceless force of nature, but by the individual false choices of a million people, some who may have known the full weight of what they did, and some who may not--or so I hope, some who put pen to paper and scratched out words, and some who sat on the sidelines and let it go without a thought. We must pray for all of them, and for an end to the invisible deaths that go on around us every day. Prayer and fasting and peaceful protest.

This is one of the few causes where simply holding up a placard of an unborn babe--with all its little toes and its great translucent belly and head, and sweet little profile--may be enough to prove the humanity of those we're trying to save. It's all there if you dare to look at a sonogram. But few people have the courage these days. I was in Wisconsin this weekend, and at the cathedral at LaCrosse, the Knights of Columbus gave out red roses to the mothers and fathers who'd had their children baptized in the past year, and young parents, still handsome and beautiful with the dew of youth, came up the aisle with two or three little babies and toddlers hanging off them, the familiar parental wobble-shuffle of a compact group of lives knotted together. One family had two sets of identical twins, the little blonde girls with their straw-white hair and matching plaid jumpers, just starting to walk, the newer ones still bald and in arms.

Thanks for choosing life. It was sweet and moving, and at the end I applauded with everyone else--finally a cause I can clap for during Mass, as I whispered to my father. I suppose for these folks in particular it was the only choice. But that hardly takes away the honor. It might seem ghoulish to live in a time when we have to make an effort to thank people for giving birth rather than aborting their children, but it's like being grateful for all and any thing--it's good in the end. It is good to be grateful and thankful about certainties, because it forces us not to take them for granted. We can be grateful for the sun and the moon and the stars, and the beauty of nature and Man, be grateful to God even though they aren't going to go away tomorrow morning when we wake up. It prevents us from getting too complacent.

To all of those who are at the March for Life today, both friends and strangers, let me say I wish I could stand there with you today. I feel like someone left out of a great battle, now abed and away from Agincourt, or a young man hearing tales of the crusaders who flocked too late to the piebald standard of the Templars. But I can do my part, too, as it's not only about being there and praying, but praying anywhere we are. Pray hard, folks. That's the only way we'll win this fight.
New art at Hieronymus's place. If you're not reading his blog already, you should.

Sunday, January 22



Hi, this post is all about guards, SWISS GUARDS. This post is awesome. My name is Commandant Pius Segmüller and I can't stop thinking about Swiss Guards. These guys are cool; and by cool, I mean totally sweet. Like Swiss Cheese, but with a black belt in karate and a totally sweet uniform.


1. Swiss Guards are mammals.
2. Swiss Guards stand guard and eat bratwurst ALL the time.
3. The purpose of the Swiss Guard is to flip out and protect the Pope against heretics with lasers. And carabineri in short school-busses.



Michelangelo-Designed Uniform



I heard that there was this Swiss Guard who was eating at a sidewalk café in Piazza Navona. And when some carabineri dropped a spoon the Swiss Guard flipped out and jumped on everyone with his halberd. My friend Colonel Nünlist said that he saw a Swiss Guard totally uppercut some acolyte just because the acolyte got too close to the Pope's crozier.

And that's what I call REAL Ultimate Power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you don't believe that Swiss Guards have REAL Ultimate Power you better get a life right now or they will whap you with their halberds!!! It's an easy choice, if you ask me.

Swiss Guards are soooooooo sweet that I want to start singing Long Live the Pope. I can't believe it sometimes, but I feel it inside my heart. These guys are totally awesome and that's a fact. Swiss Guards are fast, smooth, cool, strong, powerful, and sweet. I can't wait to start fencing next year. I love Swiss Guards with all of my spirit (including my rational soul).

Questions & Answers

Q: Why is everyone so obsessed about Swiss Guards?
A: Swiss Guards are the ultimate paradox. On the one hand they're guards, and flip out and don't give a darn, but on the other hand, they're Swiss, and are very careful and precise, especially involving cheese.

Q: What do Swiss Guards do when they're not whapping heretics with their halberds or flipping out?
A: Most of their free time is spent flying with papal rocket-powered jetpacks, but sometime they drink beer and eat pizza and polish up their morions. (Ask Colonel Nünlist if you don't believe me.)

This is a picture of my best friend Colonel Nünlist getting ready to flip out. He's a lot older than me and almost gotten the Order of the Golden Spur, which is braggable.


I Could See This Coming

Taylor Marshall continues the Anglican/Ninja meme...

But why not, say, Anglican Pirates, like, you know, Sir Francis Drake with his lasers and his guitars...

Saturday, January 21


"As the woman was formed in paradise from the side of the first Adam, to be a helpmate, like to him,
the Church is formed from the side of Christ fallen asleep on the Cross, to be his companion and helper in the work of redemption."
- Fr. Odo Casel, OSB
Polyester, Homosexuality, and Leviticus

We all know the cycle. It's occurred in the ND student newspaper. Person A writes in that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, referencing Lev. 18:22 ("Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman"). Person B responds by quoting Lev 19:19 ("Do not wear cloting woven of two kinds of material"). "What about cotton-polyester blends?"

The implication is this: because the Jews might have worn polyester if they had the chance, we can't comment on the morality of homosexuality. Certainly, because we wear polyester, homosexuality must be moral.

This argument hides a number of prejudices.
(1) Primarily, it is anti-Semetic: "Those silly Jews condemned stupid things. They're idiots, not worth listening to."
(2) It is anti-Christian: "Your whole Bible is silly by implication."
(3) It is anti-Catholic: "Who can follow the law anyway? Don't try: follow the spirit of the law, which doubtless amounts to hugging strangers."

At it's heart, though, claiming that homosexuality is OK because everyone wears polyester is bad exegesis.

The Book of Leviticus has, of course, many laws. But, it distinguishes between two types of laws:
(1) Laws for the Jewish people
(2) Laws that "defile the land"
The first type of laws (like not wearing polyester) apply only to those initiated into the Mosaic covenant. These are the laws attacked as "stupid" by an anti-Semetic bias.

The second type of laws, laws which prevent the defilement of the land, apply to all peoples, regardless of whether or not they are initiated into the covenant. Lev. 18:26: "The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things" lest "the land bec[o]me defiled."

Here is a list of all the "sins which defile the land," all of the laws in the Old Testament which non-Jews had to obey, or risk being "cut off from the community."
  1. Exod 12.19: Do not eat leaven at Passover
  2. Lev 17.8-9: Only offer sacrifice at the Tabernacle door
  3. Lev 17.10-12, 14: Do not eat blood
  4. Lev 18.26: Do not commit sins listed in 18.6-26 (including homosexuality)
  5. Lev 20.2-3: Do not give children for Molech
Jewish Law suddenly seems a lot more reasonable.

The final question: do these laws which Judaism extended to all people also extend to Christians?

The Council of Jerusalem, which decided to admit Gentiles to the Church, admitted them to the Church on four conditions (Acts 15:29):
In otherwords, the only condition which the Apostles laid down for Gentiles to enter the Church was that they keep all the laws which the Jewish Law commanded non-Jews to keep.

Proper exegesis of Leviticus, then, justifies its condemnation of homosexual acts as relevant to Christians and non-Christians. Despite the attempts of many to dismiss the Old Testament as "ridiculous" based on some of its Mosaic laws, proper exegesis establishes that very few of these laws apply to non-Jews--and, in fact, that the prohibition of homosexuality is among them.

Even if one disagrees with the Church and Scripture and believes that homosexual acts are not sinful, at least read the Bible correctly.

*Presumably, none of us would eat leaven should we attend Passover, either.

Friday, January 20


"To Geneva!"

Celebrating 500 years of Swiss Guards
Really, what we should do is offer to pull out of Iraq and Afgahnistan if bin laden turns himself in.

Thursday, January 19


Fun with the Internet Movie Database

...which never ceases to amuse or amaze me, if I dig hard enough. To wit:

I have found an "actor" entry for Bishop Fulton J. Sheen ("sometimes credited as Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen") and details on the surprisingly extensive film career of Pope Leo XIII, who apparently holds the distinction of being the first pope on film as the subject of such silent mini-documentaries as Pope Leo XIII Being Carried in Chair Through Upper Loggia, Pope Leo XIII Leaving Carriage and Being Ushered Into Garden, and Pope Leo XIII Walking at Twilight. Not to mention film credits for Pius XII (presumably mostly stock footage) and the Sistine Choir (!).

Perhaps even more astonishing is the discovery of a 1914 film which not only included George Bernard Shaw, but G.K. Chesterton. One wonders if one's leg is being pulled here, but given the script was written by J.M. Barrie (presumably a mutual friend), and given G.K. got involved in plenty of hijinks in his younger days (including a surreal day playing at being cowboys" also with G. B. Shaw and also captured on film--if you don't believe me, read his autobiography), well, I suppose anything is possible...

To hell with ethics, on with science!

"American doctors at the conference said it was time to stop debating whether the French operation was ethical or wise and focus now on making such transplants as safe and widely available as possible."

Who cares if we should do it, we can do it!
Mitres as big as your head!
And they say relics are weird.

Wednesday, January 18


If you don't get the reference, don't even bother.

How evil are you?


"Thanks, but I draw the line at concelebrating."
German Catholic Dioceses buy Pope's Home

Which is good news, because I believe that the owner was considering selling it to the Scientologists. For a site that instantly became a place of pilgrimmage, que horror!

The newspaper Die Welt, in a report Wednesday, said bids for the house, which has been rezoned for use as a museum, had ranged from 3 million to 5 million euros ($4 million to $6 million).

Joseph Ratzinger, elected as pope in April, was born in an apartment in the house while his father was a police officer in Marktl, near the Austrian border. The family moved soon after to the town of Traunstein, where he spent most of his childhood.

Die Welt said that 450 people from around the globe had inquired with the realtor about the property. The vendor, 39, said she no longer wished to live in the house on the market square of the little town because tourists were coming to stare and even alarmed her children.

"We're #12! We're #12!"

Well, it might not be the most catchy slogan, but hey, that ain't bad.

Also interestingly, there are more Catholic blogs than Protestant. Huh.

Tuesday, January 17


Most Gratifying

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with QuizFarm.com

Further hints on the Encyclical here.

The Lord's Prayer in the Gothic Tongue

J.R.R. Tolkien used to recite some form of this into his tape-recorder before beginning dictation; one version dates back to 350, and was done by the Arian bishop Wulfila or Ulfilas, who also invented the Gothic alphabet. I do not know if Wulfila's Arianism affected his translation, but here it is...

Atta unsar, thu in himinam,
weihnai namo thein,
qimai thiudinassus theins,
wairthai wilja theins,
swe in himina jah ana airthai.
Hlaif unsarana thana sinteinan gif uns himma daga,
jah aflet uns thatei skulans sijaima,
swaswe jah weis afletam thaim skulam unsaraim,
jah ni briggais uns in fraistubnjai,
ak lausei uns af thamma ubilin;
unte theina ist thiudangardi
jah mahts jah wulthus in aiwins.

Plaudite tympana

The valiant Dawn Eden is back online, and tirelessly continuing her crusade against Planned Parenthood.
Once again, for my fellow Domers out there, the Edith Stein Project is coming. Mark your calendars.

Dissolving Cassocks would Make a Great Name for a Band

Despite having an imagination that might be described as "pretty wild," I usually have very tame dreams involving me worrying about missing Sunday mass, or forgetting to clean my apartment. I once dreamed I fell off an ocean-liner, and there was another one that looked sort of like an animated Leonardo da Vinci sketch, but those are the exceptions.

Oh yeah, and then there was the one where I accidentally walked in on anti-Pope Gregory XVII's funeral (they were wearing, for some reason, red vestments), and I was afraid I'd be excommunicated if I didn't leave. Or the time I dreamed I went to Notre Dame's on-campus basilica, and the Pope was visiting and instead of the choir, there were circus people on stilts. They were singing this very elaborate Kyrie which turned into the Sign of Peace, or maybe vice versa. (I think a couple of priests were in there somewhere in the dream attempting to conduct the Quadripartite Absolution from the Requiem Mass on a large black rug). And bishops in blue copes and matching mitres.

All right, so I have really weird dreams.

Anyway, my father had a pretty crazy dream the other night, which tops all of these. He dreamed he was serving (a presumably Tridentine) Mass in a cassock and surplice (thou art an altar boy forever, I suppose) and he was going to bicycle down to meet me for lunch at the Borders Bookstore Cafe. Anyway, so he finishes Mass and he's bicycling and he realizes he's still in his altar boy outfit. He thinks about stopping but he figures, hey, it's sort of European, maybe people will like it, and so he doesn't bother to change. But he gets to the cafe, and he discovers he's still wearing the surplice, but the cassock is missing. This worries him greatly, until I appear and inform him it was a dissolving cassock.

It's times like these I'm glad neither of us takes Carl Jung seriously.

Ermine: It's not just for outdoors anymore.

Monday, January 16

Christianity est Caritus

The pope's encyclical appears due for release later this week. Happily, it seems to be focusing on my favorite theme of Benedict's* papacy: Christianity is not a tedius list of rules, but a wonderful joy. Until your heart sings, "It is wonderful to be Christian!," you don't truly understand Christianity!

Rocco has the story. That is because he is both well connected and good at what he does, as he reminds his readers ad nauseam.

"B16, you're the bomb!"
Bad News

Iranian leader may be seeking nuclear holocaust as means of initiating messianic age of Islam.

Either way, he has very strong messianic convictions about a coming age of Muslim domination.

This is very scary.

Not the least of the reasons the Iraqi invasion was a bad idea: Sadaam was rather harmless to the international scene in comparison.

Sunday, January 15

Sounds Awesome

I admit, I've steered clear of "the Movements" --Opus Dei, Neocatechumenal Way, Communion and Liberation, Regnum Christi, etc. I've met people in many of them, and usually (if not always) admire them. Certainly, I admire their practice of the faith. But in my personal project of being Catholic, a "mere Catholic," an unassociated layman, I've never felt compelled to be closely associated with any of them.

The NC, however, just commissioned some 200 "missionary families":

"We send our families to these pagan countries. And there, they will shape new catecheses as they can. No doubt, in the beginning, they will go from house to house inviting people to know the Gospel and Christ, with their presence, with their coexistence with neighbors, fellow-workers, friends."

They go where people are not baptized, are without parishes; they go on a mission to the Gentiles, as the Apostles did," the Neocatechumenate founder added.

The Way sends "a priest for every three families with all their children, so that they can create communities starting from the family nucleus," he clarified.


Now, this sounds awesome. Real evangelization! Pauline evangelization! On an organized, rather large scale! By Catholics!

Do any of you know more about NC's "missionary families"? Personal contact? Number that exist? Effectiveness? I'd really like to hear as much as people know.
My God

The Episcopal community officially supports abortion.

I'm stunned. I've seen a lot of loopiness before, but I'm stunned.

Forgive me for commenting on the affairs of another church. But really. If I were Episcopal, I certainly would not be able to contribute money to the national level, or even to my parish if my parish contributed (directly or indirectly) at the national level. I think I would also have qualms retaining membership more generally, knowing that my membership would be thrown around to support abortion: "the n-million member Episcopal Church supports abortion..."


Via Rome Report.

Saturday, January 14


Miscellaneous Thought

I wonder if this renaissance of popular interest in some of the work of the Inklings (in the form of the Lord of the Rings movies and Narnia) might be an opportunity to introduce the world to other dimensions of their world--like Chesterton, who certainly influenced Lewis, or the fiction of their neglected friend Charles Williams, who seems to have become the unfortunate José Carreras of the group. If you want conspiracy, intrigue and the Holy Grail, one could easily film Williams' War in Heaven rather than resorting to the slapdash Da Vinci Code. Certainly, The Man Who Was Thursday could be, in the right hands, a visual romp far wilder than The Matrix or any wanna-be Jules Verne adventure, and one with greater philosophical clarity.

Of course, in the right hands is the key: it took me years to figure out what Chesterton was getting at (even a detailed reading of the work can misunderstand it as pantheist--I seem to remember seeing a Forward added by the author in a later edition intended to refute charges of this, but it's missing from my copy), and only after cheating by reading the annotated edition by Martin Gardener did I finally get the point. Perhaps better to wait for more intelligent times and more capable artists.

Further Thoughts on Narnia

I wrote a glowing review of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe shortly after it came out in mid-December. I still stand by it, and thought the afternoon I spent watching it was a very enjoyable one. Those who haven't seen it, still ought to. That being said, I was not blind to its flaws. My main point in writing my review was not to let, as the old addage goes, the better be the enemy of the good. For a special-affects-laden, big-budget fantasy film--which have such a tendency today to turn into preposterous, gibberish-laden trainwrecks--it was surprisingly good, and embodied a good chunk of the feel of the book, even if some of the message was blunted by the absence of the Emperor-beyond-Sea and a partial misreading of the Deep Magic. That a movie so openly showing themes of Christ-like love, sacrifice and chivalry should be produced by a major studio and is doing great at the box office is nonetheless a wonder.

But I do admit there were flaw, and it is instructive to consider them, now that the film has had a month to win its spurs at the box office. One of them which I hadn't really thought about was recently brought to my attention by a friend of mine, who recently wrote to me to say:
One thing that I wish had been preserved from the books was the touch of foreboding or terrible mystery that the book conveyed in the repeated phrase "Aslan is on the move." Badger, in the book, explained that "he's not a tame lion, but he is good" or something to that effect. "So he's safe then," asked someone else. "Safe! Who ever said anything about safe!" says Badger. This sort of thing is nowhere to be found in the movie where Beaver describes Aslan as the "top geezer" and "king of the whole wood". I would say that the Aslan of the movie is much more a "Marcan" Aslan (if even that), whereas the Aslan in the book is definitely "Johannine". He is big, he is the king, but the movie doesn't give him a terrible majesty.
The 'he's not a tame lion' or a 'safe lion' lines being reduced in their importance or cut entirely, is very unfortunate, I agree. It's also unfortunate (somewhat less so) that they cut the romp he had with Lucy and Susan post-resurrection. This may be a strange thing for me to comment on, but it strikes me that you can't have one without the other.

This second piece is less essential--had they had it with the Aslan they portrayed, it would have lessened his majesty even more significantly--but it shows they didn't try to tackle the complexities of the characterization of Aslan--just like many filmmakers find it impossible to characterize the complexities of Christ, at least without understanding properly Who He Is. They managed to get some of Christ's mercy and tenderness, I think, and some of Christ's majesty--but certainly nothing quite awe-inspiring: it might have been too much on-screen for the Witch to run away screaming from Aslan, but seeing her at least sweat a bit might have hinted at the petty tyrant that she is under her paper-white skin.

I will say, though, at least Aslan is not boring or sentimental, like most pseudo-reverent attempts of filmdom to depict the holy--for example, most films of Our Lord's life save The Passion, Rosselini's overrated and often hokey Little Flowers of St. Francis, or the preposterously dated Brother Sun, Sister Moon, where lunacy and platitude replace much more fantastic and even terrifying mystical realities.

With regards to Aslan's romp, when one has a "terrifying" God, one is free to have One Who is equally loving (and even humorous) as He is majestic, for there is thus no fear of diminution. Even God's laughter is awe-inspiring, to paraphrase Chesterton. Rather than understanding the framework which these extremes fall in, the filmmakers opted for a safer, middle path. Had they tried to go for the gold, the results could have been either spectacular if they had succeeded--or ludicrous, if they failed. The result in Narnia are dependable and decent, but not quite aspiring to be Christ, the Lord of Thunder, as Gerard Manley Hopkins put it. (That being said, I still find a lot to love in Liam Neeson's characterization: but that doesn't mean it could be better). Now that I think about it, Aslan strikes me as a more 'natural' figure than one supernatural in this portrayal, which misses the mark. It's less a sin of commission than omission, and I find, in this case, it easier to forgive.

The Beavers' comment was a bit unfortunate (as much as I love the Beavers, the "top geezer" phrase--which I didn't really notice 'til now--makes me cringe) and if I remember correctly the Beaver spoke very reverently of the Lion in the book. Perhaps trying to express the phrase "Aslan is on the move" and the inward reaction of the chldren visually would have been impossible, but it would have been nice if they'd tried. Another element in that scene which I seem to remember omitted is the Beaver's head-bowing reverence at the name of Adam, which is a rather nice quasi-liturgical (so to speak) detail that got lost in the shuffle.

I still greatly enjoyed the movie, of course--I'd consider it a good film for
today's rather low standards--but that doesn't mean it couldn't have been
better. I am nonetheless optimistic for Prince Caspian and look forward to seeing it on the big screen next year.
The last time I checked, ordained clergy and not miniature schnauzers made better spiritual directors.

Friday, January 13


January 25?

CWN is reporting that the encyclical will be out Janary 25, according to the Italian media. (I know, I know ...)

My question is, what would be the significance of that date? Usually these things are released on some particular feast day, but January 25 doesn't strike me as particularly exciting.
A quick search turns up:
St. Amarinus
St. Apollo
St. Artemas
St. Bretannion
St. Donatus
St. Dwynwen
St. Eochod
St. Juventius & Maximus
St. Racho
St. Maurus
St. Peter Thomas

I guess I'm not holding my breath...

Wednesday, January 11


My closest association with a bona fide saint (aside from a potential kinship to St. Janssen) is with Ven. Solanus Casey, a Franciscan who lived during the first half of the 20th century. Fr. Solanus helped feed my grandfather during the Depression. In a different time and place, my uncle would serve Mass for Fr. Solanus, and often the venerable gave him candybars as thanks.

For this reason, I've always liked Fr. Solanus. Today, however, I ran into a Capuchin who had quite a lot to tell me about Ven. Casey.

By far the most cool story was the multiplication of the ice cream cones. A woman came into Fr. Casey's office (a priest simplex because of his difficulty with languages, Solanus served as porter) with two ice cream cones for them to share. He thanked her, but, putting the cones in a desk drawer, said they would save the ice cream for later. Because it was a warm summer day and the desk was not refrigerated, she was understandably baffled by this behavior. A few hours later, however, four other people entered the room bearing some good news. "Let's celebrate with an ice cream party!" rejoiced Fr. Casey. He went to his desk draw and pulled out, not two, but six ice cream cones--which had remained perfectly cool and unmelted.

"It pleases Jesus and Mary greatly when we celebrate in this way," he explained.

An illumination of one of St. Hildegard's visions

A most excellent post (as always) from Lauren of Cnytr on what is incidentally one of my favorite Hildegard of Bingen poems, O Viridissima Virga. Incidentally, expect a detailed post from me in a few days on my latest drawing projects, one of which Lauren graciously links to in the course of her post.

via Don Jim

Beautiful vestment.

And then, we make the wives of people we don't like cry!

"Ted Kennedy is nothing but a bully."

Think what you want of Alito, the Supreme Court, and his confirmation, but this is deplorable and I repudiate it. The proper government of the nation should NOT require reducing nominee wives to tears infront of a global audience.

The most disgusting part is that those responsible probably went to bed tonight thinking they're good citizens for doing so.

Not so secret anymore...

Reader Albertus M sent me the following:

I snagged this from Zenit: materials from the Vatican Secret Archives site is now online. It has a trove of cool exhibits, including:

I have to admit, I always laughed at the "Secret Archives" link on vatican.va as some sort of Dan Brown bait, but now that they've got something up there, this is really fascinating.

Tuesday, January 10


Congratulations, you are not a Heretic!

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with QuizFarm.com

Thanks to the Ranter for posting this and getting the link working.

Monday, January 9


Real papal ceremonies are looking more like they do in movies all the time.

I'm not complaining.
Well, my family and I are off to California for a week. Expect reports on my return of the manners and customs of this sometimes odd piece of real estate, as well as my up-close and personal reaction to what has been variously called the Taj Mahony, the Roj Mahal or the Yellow Armadillo. I don't think it's gonna be pretty.

Sunday, January 8


I'm Thinking Something Was Lost in Translation

From Reuters.com:

"With Michelangelo's dramatic depiction of the Last Judgment as a backdrop, Benedict attacked the 'thing-ification of mankind', suggesting that people had become little more than objects to be traded, picked up and discarded at will."

um... 'thing-ification'?

The Roman Inquisitor... with his stole over his chausable.

Who thought we'd see the day?

Miscellaneous Thought

Untangling Christmas lights while still on the tree is like full-contact off-road country line dancing.
"United but not Absorbed"

February 2006 is coming.
And Rome Report has some new Anglican-Roman Catholic union updates.

I am looking for a quote from Josemaria on modern/contemporary art. In it, he emphasizes the importance of high quality art, such that even modern art is better than plaster art. I don't necesarily agree with the Founder on this point, but I still need the quote. I read it in my copy of The Way/Furrow/Forge, but I left that book at home. So... Anyone?

Home Improvement: Vatican Edition

(Insert orthographically unreproduceable Tim Allen growling noises here).

Here's a neat little article about Benedict XVI's newly made-over papal apartments. The biggest problem seems to have been where to put the Pope's 20,000-book library (ah, how I love this man), though there's also some disconcerting references to faulty Italian electrical wiring which, as usual, make me wonder how anything gets done in Rome without burning the place to the ground. Again.

Notre Dame in the News

WSJ has an interesting article on faith identity at both Catholic and Protestant schools.

"Addressing faculty at the University of Notre Dame, the school's new president, the Rev. John Jenkins, recently expressed concern that the percentage of faculty who were Catholic had fallen to 53%, compared with 85% in the 1970s. Today's level is barely above a line set in 1990 by the late Pope John Paul II, who decreed that non-Catholics shouldn't be a majority of the faculty at a Catholic university.

Notre Dame is compiling a database of candidates who can contribute to the university's religious mission. Administrators say that instead of reducing quality, Notre Dame's religious identity has lured some premier faculty, such as associate professor Brad Gregory, who left a tenured job at Stanford in 2003 for an equivalent, higher-paying position. 'Notre Dame's Catholic character wasn't only a factor, it was the factor,' says Mr. Gregory, a Catholic, who specializes in the history of Christianity. 'By any ordinary measure, you'd be crazy to leave Stanford for Notre Dame.'

At another Catholic school, Boston College, some administrators would like to hire more people committed to its religious mission, but its faculty has proved 'particularly resistant,' says a 2004 report by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. To achieve its goals, the college is contemplating establishing research centers on Catholic intellectual tradition and Catholic education. Georgetown University, also a prominent Catholic school, appointed its first vice president for mission and ministry, a Jesuit priest, in 2003."

(Link via Amy)

Saturday, January 7


Well, I got tagged all over the place for this one ...

I'd even made the list, I just forgot to post it until Matt reminded me of it!

So, here are the rules, as I received them:
Step 1: Get your playlist (or Itunes library) together, put it on random, and play.
Step 2: Write down the first line from the first 30 songs that play or close to it.
Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song the lines come from. (Title and Composer/Artist) NO GOOGLING on pain of death! (Don't worry, my music tastes are a tad more mainstream than Matt's. ;-)
Step 4: Cross out the songs when someone guesses correctly.

My personal rules:
#1. My sisters should give everyone else a chance first; ditto the boyfriend.
#2. I skipped a piece if it was plainchant, so all the Latin titles are some sort of polyphony (broadly defined). This means you at least have a composer to guess. Also, the polyphony is pretty generally the most well known setting of the text. This is more due to the contents of my library than any editing of the list on my part.
#3. I also skipped instrumental pieces, since there's not much to guess there.
#4. I skipped past Mass ordinaries, since there's no earthly way to guess those, either.
#5. If the title was in the first line of a modern piece, I pulled a line out of the middle, to make things more interesting; so watch the elipses.

So, without further ado (I don't know how I could create much more):

1) There were bells on a hill...
2) Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum virgo serena. Ave cuius conceptio ...
3) Driving home to be with you, the highway's dividing, the city's in view ...
4) Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream ...
5) Yes, I am, I hope you think you've beaten me ...
6) Every time we lie awake, after every hit we take ...
7) Domine Jesu Christe, rex gloriae ...
8) She don't wan't nobody near ...
9) I'm standing outside your window, baby ...
10) It's our call. It sways, it stalls ...
11) This is what they tell me ...
12) I saw her today at the reception ...
13) Jojo was a man ...
14) Day after day, I'm more confused ...
15) I like the way your sparkling earrings lay ...
16) Just yesterday morning ...
17) 737 coming out of the sky ...
18) ... sont les mots qui vont très bien ensemble ...
19) Your passin' broke the silence on that dark October day ...
20) Now on the day I was born ...
21) Wanna tell you 'bout the girl I love, and why she looks so fine ...
22) Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen, Herr Sebaoth ...
23) On Christmas night all Christians sing ...
24) Let me bring you songs from the woods ...
25) You know Dasher ...
26) Loquebantur variis linguis apostoli, alleluia ...
27) Slow dancing on the boulevard ...
28) That's great, it starts with an earthquake ...
29) Out here in the fields, I fought for my meals ...
30) As I walk along, I wonder what went wrong ...

Further Encyclical Thoughts

I had a fascinating conversation with the Shrine's Big Balthasarian on Campus, Dan, about my forecasts for Deus, Caritas Est; while I think much of my speculation is still pretty plausible, I now think perhaps there will be a slightly different emphasis in light of the fact that Benedict is likely to use eros in a broader sense--in the sense (as I understand it) that Hans Urs von Balthasar used it in his own work, a general desire for earthly, physical things, rather than a specificially marital use of the word. I think the Patristic and liturgical aspects of Benedict's own spirituality are still going to play a big role in this encyclical, though.

(Bear in mind, I know very little about Balthasarian theology, and occasionally spell the great man's name wrong and confuse him with a New York bakery; Dan understands it very well, though--so any misunderstanding lies with me, not him!)

Benedict's theological formation long predates the Theology of the Body, of course, but he's not at all unfamiliar with many of the mystical core concepts of the Church's theology of marriage (well, duh), especially through his background in the work of St. Bonaventure--who himself drew connections between marital love and Christ's sacrifice on Calvary if I remember correctly. So maybe there'll be some of that, but the central theme is a more general, and perhaps more widely applicable evocation of eros which will resonate with all of us, whether inside or outside of a relationship.

(Incidentally, I am informed Cardinal Scola has written a book linking the Theology of the Body with von Balthasar. Sounds yummy.)

That being said, this is nonetheless exciting and timely: the world, so used to portraying the Church as quasi-Manichaean, ought to hear that it is possible to enjoy the good things of God's creation in a manner rightly ordered to our love of Christ, and that broader eros is naturally tied in to our desire for Christ. At the very least, using these terms and ideas, so widely misunderstood today, is likely to get people's attention out there. It certainly is something our odd, carnal-prurient-prudish-materialist-gnostic culture could stand to hear; when you imbue the material world with spiritual significance rather than filing away the soul, you can no longer ignore the importance of things--and art--and liturgy--and people's bodies, so mistreated through illicit sex or physical abuse. Dan passed me on a quote that was, I believe, from one of Ratzinger's more recent works (sadly, I forget the title) that illuminates this theme marvelously. Read it slowly:
So it is not merely the external beauty of the Redeemer's appeareance that is praised: rather, the beauty of truth appears in him, the beauty of God himself, who powerfully draws us and inflicts on us the wound of Love, as it were, a holy Eros that enables us to go forth, with and in the Church, his Bride, to meet the Love, who calls us.

Friday, January 6

Well, at least Christians (#31) came out ahead of Masons(#35).
Monks, redux

From the "We don't live like you, we don't dress like you, therefore we fascinate you and draw you in" file:

We all remember the great popularity enjoyed, particularly in pop culture a few years ago, by Gregorian Chant. Germany seems to be having a repeat monkish hit.

The Carthusians are the strictest Christian order and this three-hour, almost totally silent film about them, was not expected to be a hit. But it is playing to packed cinemas, fascinating audiences with the unique glimpse of a contemplative life, unknown beyond the monastery walls.

BBC News

One observes that if the monks dressed in jeans and sang mediocre pop-ish (not popish) songs, no one would care about them, and Christ's evangelical counsels would not currently be selling out to theatres of young people.

Happy (real) Epiphany!

May you find Christ in new ways this day.

Thursday, January 5


CD Meme

Well, if the Sober Sophomore gets to do it, so can I. Plus, it means I get to play with my new iTunes software.

(Katie tagged me and the other Whapsters for this over a month ago--mea culpa for not responding sooner!)

Step 1: Get your playlist (or iTunes library) together, put it on random, and play.
Step 2: Write down the first line from the first 20 songs that play or close to it.
Step 3: Post and let your readers guess what song the lines come from. (Title or Composer).
Step 4: Mark the songs when someone guesses correctly. (I've italicized them).

As this game does not suit itself fully to Early Music (I know I have bizarre musical tastes), you can also guess the album or group these things came from. Also, in cases when the text won't help at all (ie., the Agnus Dei), I've provided the date as a clue. And Googling is allowed. In fact, it'll probably have to be compulsory.

Not all of this is Early Music, though. Bear this in mind. I sometimes even listen to stuff written after 1792 when nobody's watching--thanks to my kind and patient friends who have endeavored long and hard to teach me about such things.

1. Oremus. Deus qui beatum Marcum Evangelistam tuum
2. Warum toben die Heiden, und die Leute reden so vergeblich? (1612-18)
3. If you had seen my Charlie at the head of an army
4. Sonoro clarín del viento
5. Green Sleeves (instrumental)
6. All around my hat, I will wear the green willow
7. What If a Day (instrumental)
8. The fifteenth day of July, with glistening spear and shield
9. Stingo (instrumental)
10. Plaudite tympana, clangite classica, fides accinite, voces applaudite
11. Para quien crie cabellos (folia) (instrumental)
12. Sac ha choune vema
13. Oremus. Da nobis quaesimus Domine Deus noster
14. Grimstock (instrumental)
15. Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus (1682)
16. Dominus dixit ad me: Filius meus et tu, ego hodie genuit te.
17. Natum tanel hancahatisi, Don Lázaro
18. Fanfare Sarasinetta (instrumental)
19. Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi (1682)
20. Kingdom Coming (instrumental)

Thoughts on the Forthcoming Encyclical

Very little surprises me anymore, for better or worse. I'm used to the monumental weirdness of the modern world, today's top news stories easily outparodying yesterday's parodies of them. But his Eminence the Reverend Lord my Lord Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, utterly floored me, and in the best of ways, when he gave us a possible sneak peak of Papa Benedict's new encyclical, Deus Caritas Est:
In a kind of Lutheran fashion, [Anders Nygren in his book Eros and Agape] distinguished between agape, the love of God in us, which is good; and eros, which is our own erotic life and desire, which turns us away from God. He said that in English 'love' is ambiguous and you have to distinguish between these two. And you do.

What the Pope is going to do [in Deus Caritas Est] is to try to save eros. That is to say that our own human love, our desires, are good in themselves... The distinction between agape and eros is not a clean one. In fact, one influences the other and therefore both should be considered good. But we are sinful creatures, so they can be misused.
This is wild, and I mean that in the best sense of the word. While the core ideas are deeply embedded in Catholic marital and sacramental theology, they were often overlooked until John Paul II developed them in epic detail in his catecheses on the Theology of the Body early in his pontificate. That Benedict has chosen to take up the subject again is a pleasant and quite gigantic surprise.

It comes as a surprise, to me, anyway, because I've not seen this theme developed in his pre-pontifical writings as greatly as in JP II's during his Krakow days, where he developed the ideas of the Theology of the Body in Love and Responsibility. Of course, Benedict has always been a bit of a polymath--the wide range of topics he comfortably discusses in his interviews with Peter Seewald spring to mind--and has a curious and understated way of quietly pulling things out of his hat (or camauro) that nobody expected, things which hint at a grander design hiding in the wings. So this surprise should come as no surprise.

This strategy has frustrated some, I know, who were expecting a whirlwind reform of the reform and a dozen other things in the first six months of his papacy. Doing anything that wildly imprudent would have been disastrous, though, as fun as it would have been as a wish-fulfilment fantasy. But Papa Benedict knows he's writing and speaking on a much bigger stage than he's used to and must be prudent, and he also realizes that by working quietly and gradually, one can accomplish great things--and often more quickly than people realize. The encyclical is the first big statement of this pontificate and Benedict has chosen its topic with great care. (It's interesting to note some Vaticanisti are expecting a major shakeup of the Curia around the same time the encyclical will be issued, which suggests Benedict's quiet strategy is about to bear significant fruit).

Why eros? Why now? It's self-evident in retrospect. The subject and time are fortuitous. JP II's groundbreaking Theology of the Body got lost in the shuffle during the '80s, as we all know, through no fault of his own. Like many other aspects of his pontificate, it was orthodox and radical--in the sense of radex or root, and getting to the root of the issue--and it was cutting-edge all at once. And it also bolstered the Church's age-old teachings on sexual morality, and so nobody wanted to hear about it.

Benedict's theology of eros and Logos will differ in angle and emphasis from JP II's work--in a good and non-contradictory sense, I mean--and the world he will reveal it to is a different one from the one JP II spoke to in the early '80s. For one thing, there's a likelyhood the message will be heard this time: orthodox Catholics are already starting to get familiar with the subject through JP II's works as discussed or popularized by follks like Christopher West and Janet Smith, and the world has developed a greater willingness to actually see what Benedict is saying when he gets up there at his papal audiences, perhaps because they're still trying to figure the man out. So the timing is fortuitous.

What can we expect from such an encyclical? Bear in mind, I'm no theologian, and these are the idle speculations of an amateur. Early commentary on the coming encyclical suggested it was
a 46-page spiritual meditation focusing in large part on "eros" (love) and "Logos" (the Word) and their relationship to the person of Christ. [...]In two articles written before his election and published in a recent issue of the magazine Communio, Pope Benedict wrote about the unity of the word and love, as personified in Christ. He highlighted the importance of the personal encounter with Christ, which stirs up love, and said love of God helps define the correct idea of human autonomy. He also wrote that Christ as "Logos made flesh" implied reconciliation between supernatural revelation and reason. (Source).
This would hint at something a little less unusual than Cardinal George's commentary were it not for the very deliberate use of the term eros, rather than agape. As the encyclical is Deus est Caritas rather than, say, Deus est Amor, Benedict clearly wants to discuss both types of love, and show the links between them, within the proper rightly-ordered framework. I imagine he will pull in his interests in the problems of the European "Age of Enlightenment" (and what it wrought), as well as true and false defintions of reason.

JP II's thoughts on the subject were deeply mystical and pastoral, shaped by his inner life and his experiences as priest and bishop, and also interrelated to his own interests in modern philosophy. I imagine Benedict will touch on marriage in his encyclical--it would be difficult not to--but I also imagine, based on the apparent shortness of the text, he will cover it in addition to many other issues in broader depth and less detail than in JP II's mammoth cycle of talks. JP II's work was more focused on the inner life of the Trinity, and how marital love images God's being; it sounds like Benedict will be focusing instead on how eros fits into our relationship with Christ. I imagine he will also draw on his vast knowledge of Patristic theology (so rich with its exploration and definition of the person of Christ) and liturgy, and perhaps even make the point that liturgy is marital and marriage is liturgical, as the Byzantine priest Fr. Thomas Loya would put it.

The subject fits perfectly into Benedict's great love of liturgical spirituality. We live in an essentially disembodied and gnostic age. Despite our prurient fascination with other people's bodies, we really don't understand them, and are even a little bit prudish--witness the inevitable sniggering when schoolkids pass a naked statue in an art museum. The naked body has become solely associated with illicit lust, rather than God-given beauty. Couple this with our modern sense of Cartesian dualism--that we are only our consciousness, and the body really doesn't matter that much, hence I can do with it what I like--and you get a distrust of the physical, the corporeal, and a fashionable postmodern gnosticism. We treat our bodies with respect because they are the work of God, and God knows things are important--flesh, blood, water, wine, bread, incense, and the bones of the martyrs.

I can't get inside Pope Benedict's head, and these are just a few guesses on my own part. I may well be wrong; and if I am, I look forward to the next surprising and wonderful rabbit that our pontiff will pull from his mitre later this month.

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