Saturday, July 29, 2006

Martha, Martha, sollicita es, et turbaris erga plurima. . .

Well, the funeral was double-booked. The mortuary booked two pipers so Blessed John Soreth was short-changed in his blog-mention for naught. Very annoying in one sense, i.e., I could have used the money. On the other hand, it was so hot and humid in the highland rig that I was moderately happy to pass the playing on to someone else.

And Someone, in response to much prayer, has turned down the heat. The humidity is still high for this part of the world but the temperature today is largely bearable. The weather guesser says the weather system causing our 100°+ thermometer readings is heading east. I thought those east of us were already sweltering; apparently they're due for more.

And this morning, oh this morning the admonitions of the apostle regarding custody of the tongue were ignored with woeful consequences. When asked if I had any appointments today, instead of nodding and hauling the pipes out to the park to at least get some practice in, I very unwisely, indeed negligently, allowed as how I seemed to be free today. And thus did Saturday pass, carrying bags and parcels and following SWMBO through one of Orange County's finest malls.

And today was the feast of St Martha, who was "careful and . . . troubled about many things" and learned that only one thing is necessary.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Bl John Soreth, O. Carm.

I have a funeral to do this morning in Montebello so this will be just a short mention. But today is the feast day of one of my favourite saints, Blessed John Soreth. He was Prior General of the undivided Carmelite Order in the 15th century. The Ancient Observance keep his day on July 24 but the Discalced have moved it to the 28th due to the conflict with the feasts of some of our nuns who were martyred by the Spanish communists.

There is a little bit about him here.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Blessed Titus Brandsma, O.Carm.

This is the feast of Blessed Titus Brandsma in the Carmelite calendar. He was martyred by the Nazis during the second world war for his insistence on the independence of the Catholic press and his consistent denunciation of the Nazi racial policies. Short life can be found here. A longer study of Blessed Titus - several pages and many pictures - can be found here.

This little selection is from one of his sermons now appointed to be read as the second reading for his feast day in the Carmelite calendar. You can see from only two paragraphs why he was such a burr under the saddle of "the master race".

You hear it said that we live at a wonderful time, a time of
great men and women. It would probably be better to say that we
live in an era of decadence in which many, however, feel the need
to react and to defend what is most precious and sacred. The
desire for the emergence of a strong, capable leader is
understandable. But we want such a leader to fight for a holy
cause, for an ideal based on divine designs and not merely on
human might.

Neo-paganism considers the whole of nature as an
emanation of the divine: this is what it holds about various races
and peoples of the earth. But as star differs from star by reason of
its light and brightness, so neo-paganism considers one race more
noble and pure than another; to the extent that this one race is
held to embody more light within itself, it has the duty of making
that life shine and enlighten the world. It is maintained that this is
possible only when, eliminating elements foreign to it, it frees
itself from all stain. From this notion derives the cult of race and
blood, the cult of the heroes of one’s own people.
From such an erroneous starting-point, this view can lead
to fatal errors! It is sad to see how much enthusiasm and effort are
placed at the service of such an erroneous and baseless ideal!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lebanon: The Suffering of the Orthodox Churches

A report from a Lebanese Orthodox Christian on the plight of the Orthodox Christians under the Israeli bombardment.

Monday, July 24, 2006

More from the Nuns on Mount Carmel

Zenit has an interview with Sr Maria Giuseppina, O.C.D. the prioress of the Carmel on the mount. You can find it here.

St Charbel Makhlouf

Although I usually see his feast day listed as the 24th of December, the day of his death, on at least one calendar, today is the feast of St Charbel Makhlouf, a 19th century hermit of the Maronite Rite and - appropriately enough at this time -- one of the principal patrons of the Lebanon.

There is a website dedicated to him here which contains two very large essays on his life. Since there are very few facts and stories to relate about a hermit, these are very largely studies of his spirituality. Shorter summaries of his life can be found here and here.

St Charbel, pray for the peace of your homeland.

The Weekend

On the plus side, last weekend provided an opportunity to co-operate with the Holy Father's request for penance in aid of peace in the Lebanon without my having to decide how exactly to do that. For example:

1) Temperature reading of 101° at Long Beach airport. We're a touch further north than that so I assume a few degrees warmer also. And a good dose of tropical humidity up from Mexico.

2) At 2 in afternoon on Saturday the electricity went down. It stayed down until noon-ish on Sunday. Southern California Edison refused to either provide any recorded information worth listening to or a live human being to confirm that they actually knew about the power failure. Oh, the nice recorded lady does tell you (eventually, after you've punched in your life history in numerical format) that you may hold and speak to one of their representatives. If you do that and hold long enough, the nice recorded lady comes back on the line and in her perkiest voice says "Remember not to touch any downed power lines. Good-bye!" And then she hangs up on you.

3) Some neighbors chose that afternoon and evening to have a party. They had power. Power enough to run the stereo, anyway, and play one tune. I don't know the name of this tune but it uses electronic instruments exclusively and consists almost entirely of a noise sounding something like "Whumpa-chunka". Accent on the "Whump". The Love of My Life claims that more than one tune was played. She insists that the beat varied. She may be right. Tempo and beat have always been my weak point.

So, I offered up heat, noise, and a towering rage at Southern California Edison for the Middle East. Oh, yes, and whatever you call it when everything to drink has gone warm because you've run out of ice.

That's why you didn't see anything here at The Inn about St Mary Magdalene, Dan Brown's favourite saint, whose feast day it was on Saturday. Her hometown of Magdala lies next the sea of Galilee in the north and is subject to rocket attacks these days from Hizballah.

Yesterday, along with being the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, was also the Carmelite feast of Our Lady of Divine Grace. This feast marks the octave day of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For a short time the 23d was kept as the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces but after the Vatican Council of the 1960's it was changed to Our Lady of Divine Grace.

The collect for the feast Beatæ Mariæ Virginis, omnium gratiarum Mediatricis:

Domine Ieus Christe, noster apud Patrem mediator, qui beatissimam Virginem Matrem tuam, matrem quoque nostram et apud te mediatricem constituere dignatus es : concede propitius; ut, quisquis ad te beneficia petiturus accesserit, cuncta se per eam impetrasse lætetur: Qui vivis et regnas cum eodem Deo Patre in unitate. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, our Mediator with the Father, who didst deign to make Thy blessed virgin Mother our own mother also, and mediatrix between Thyself and us, gracously grant that whoever comes before Thee to ask Thy bounty may be gladdened by obtaining all he asks through her: Thou who art God living and reigning with the same God the Father. Amen.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


From Rome: "The Holy Father is following with great concern the destinies of all the peoples involved and has proclaimed this Sunday, July 23, as a special day of prayer and penance, inviting the pastors and faithful of all the particular Churches, and all believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace. . . .In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis the right to live in peace in their State, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland."

Christian Lebanese Caught in the Crossfire. Lebanese Christians who have been the staunchest backers of Israel and the Bush administration are perplexed with Israeli shelling of their homes and businesses as the Jewish state attempts to defeat Hezbollah.

The Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Acca, Haifa, Nazareth and all Galilee appeals for help for his desparate people. "The whole Galilee region is practically paralysed,” the archbishop wrote, “(there are) no jobs, no circulation, and people stay at home waiting for deliverance and sometimes receiving a rocket. . . . Archbishop Chacour further explains, “most of the Jewish brothers and sisters have shelters against bombs which the Arab villages have not.” “Others,” he said, “escape to Tel Aviv, which is not possible for us Arabs.”

Maronite Catholic bishops called for a ceasefire, humanitarian corridors and solidarity. An immediate ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors; condemnation of the Israeli invasion but also of the policy of kidnappings; backing for the government and an invitation to all parties to search for unity of intent; unity with the Pope for the day of prayer for peace in Lebanon, slated for tomorrow. These were the points of a statement issued by the Maronite bishops at the end of an urgent meeting called by Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir.

And "Where Are the Christians?" asks Pat Buchanan. Why is Pope Benedict virtually alone among Christian leaders to have spoken out against what is being done to Lebanese Christians and Muslims?

Oh, I remembered what I had to say all right

I just waited too long and then didn't have the heart to say it. I mean, they lost to Kansas City, fercryinoutloud. Twice in a row. Kansas City. Kansas City, who usually couldn't get a number in the win column if it came free in a box of corn flakes.

How do people with no faith and no hope of an after-life get the courage to follow baseball, anyway?

[Lector: "They move to Detroit and follow the Tigers, who're playing .677 ball at the end of July."]

Oh. Right.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Apparently the World Soccer Clamjamfrey is Over

I seem to have missed it. I had more snarkey asides saved up for it but I am reliably informed that it has been over for quite a while now and that some team in Europe won it. My Reliable Informant is open-mouthed in astonishment that anyone could be so cloistered in 2006 as to miss an event of such World Significance. Nevertheless, it is so. Although I in my turn cannot fathom the depth of ignorance exhibited by my Reliable Informant as to the status of the race for the American League, Western Divisional title. Personally, I attribute it to R.I.'s parochial upbringing outwith North America where the glories of the National Pastime are hardly known.

And so long as we're mentioning the National Pastime, a few comments:

1. Could someone please teach Ervin Santana some control.

2. There are other ways of scoring runs than swinging for the centerfield seats every time. Remember how you* did it in 2002? Bunts, walks, base-stealing, sacrifices, line drives.

[*"you" = the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim just up the road from San Diego.]

3. Barry Bonds is on the front page of the sports section. Again. Probably deservedly so. But could someone explain to me why the NFL gets a free pass on the steroids thing? Look at the size of those guys. All from three squares and plenty of exercize?

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

I had a few more pontifications in mind this morning. But it is now noon on Friday and there is nothing in the house for dinner that doesn't contain meat. So off to the market. And if I still remember what at the moment seems so important, I will belabor you with it later this afternoon.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

In festo Sancti Eliæ, Prophetæ, Ducis ac Patris Nostri

July 20 is the feast of St Elias the Prophet in all branches of the Carmelite Order, in the Byzantine Rite and in some other calendars and martyrologies. In the Carmelite Order he is honoured as the founder -- "Dux et Pater" -- of the Order. These days that is taken in a spiritual sense, i.e., the inspiration of the early crusader founders who dwelt on his holy mount of Carmel. But in the middle ages he was quite literally the founder and the Carmelites were the direct descendants of the sons of the prophets (vide 3 Kings 2:14-15).

Here is the Matins Hymn in the old office of St Elias [a.k.a., "Elijah"]:

Te, magne rerum conditor,
Mens nostra gliscit laudibus,
In hoc Thesbite maximo,
Quem diligis, extollere.

Hic namque sacri nominis
Tui zelator provocat
Vates Baal nequissimos,
Victosque iure interficit.

Illo precante, victimas
Absumit ignis cælitus:
Hi perstrepentes acriter
Sunt omnibus ludibrio.

Tum Iezabelis impiæ
Vitans furorem noxium,
Sub iunipero dormiens,
Adesse cernit Angelum.

Panem sibi qui proferens
Lymphamque, iussit pergere
Cibo refectum strenue
Ad montis Horeb verticem.

Hoc in cibo ieiunium
Tulit quadragenarium;
Hac vi dapes sunt prædite,
Quas dextra Dei porrigit.

Omnis tibi sit gloria,
Verbum, Pater, Paraclite,
Inseparata Trinitas,
Quæ condidisti omnia.

This verse translation was done by Sister Mary Paula,O.C.D.:

Great Author of all things that are
To you we sing in joyful praise
Of him the Thesbite whom you love
Elijah, seer of ancient days.

With burning zeal for your blest name
He challenged wicked priests of Baal
And conqu'ring killed them in his might
To make your sacred law prevail.

The victims offered by his prayer
Drew heaven's blest consuming flame.
In vain Baal's servants scream and rave
Their frenzy brings them only shame.

Then Jezabel, unholy queen,
In fury raves, the prophet flees.
Beneath the sheltering juniper
He sleeps and then an angel sees.

The angel offers strengthening food
With water pure his thirst to end
And marks a journey he must make
Mount Horeb's summit to ascend.

No food but this for forty days,
He journeys through the desert land
Prefiguring the royal feast
Prepared us by the Father's hand.

To Father, Word and Paraclete
All glory, honor ever be
O undivided Trinity
Through whom creation came to be.

The troparion and kontakion in honour of the Holy Prophet Elias the Thesbite, from the Melkite Byzantine Liturgy:


The Glorious Elias, angelic in body, pillar of prophets, second herald of Christ, by sending grace upon Eliseus from on high, dispels disease, cleanses lepers and over flows with healing for those who honour him.


O Glorious Prophet Elias who foresaw the glories of God, by your command you withheld the rains from heaven : intercede for our sake with the only One who loves mankind!

And, finally, a little note from an American Carmelite who is in contact with the Carmelite nuns on Mount Carmel in Israel. As you may know, Mount Carmel overlooks the port of Haifa which has been subject to missile attack by Hizballah. Indeed, the first missile landed on land belonging to the monastery of Stella Maris where the friars reside. The note:

I had the opportunity today to speak by phone with a couple of the Sisters from the Haifa. Of course, they were more interested in hearing some good news, rather than sharing bad news. But, there has been some good news today in Haifa: they report that there were only three siren warnings sounded – and that’s progress. On this Feastday, they continue to beg all of us to pray for peace in the region. And, they’re concerned for the safety of the nuns at the Harissa Carmel, near Beirut, since they are fairly exposed to Israeli bombardment.

I’m kicking myself because I forgot to ask if the Fathers hosted their usual celebration for the Prophet Elijah. I can’t imagine the current political and military situation would keep everyone away from the most important feast of Mount Carmel. Usually, Jews, Moslems, Christians and Druze gather on the basilica grounds or at the nearby Jewish “shrine” to pray and picnic. In fact, more folks gather at Stella Maris today than on July 16, traditionally. It’s amazing to see.

So, I’ll just pass on the Prioress’ thanks for your prayers and words of encouragement.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

News About Lebanon and Israel

The Israeli side is fairly easy to follow. The local sources are well-known. And, of course, American news agencies have little trouble locating their own people in Israel. For local sources try:

The Jerusalem Post
A Carmelite friend recommended this source as one of the more frequently updated from Israel.

KOL Israel is the Israeli radio service. There is a webpage here with links to twice daily on demand news broadcasts. If you are on the east coast of North America, KOL Israel's shortwave broadcasts should be an easy catch. Here on the west coat it's a different proposition as they seem to have no relays. The time/frequency schedule can be found here.

News from Lebanon is less well-known but still available. There are many sources in French and Arabic but these English language news outlets do exist:

The Daily Star
Ya Libnan
Lebanese Lobby

Lebanon is without a radio exterior service. There was one shortwave station, a Catholic outlet called "Radio Charity". This was blown up by persons unknown last year about this time. According to WRTH, the broadcasts continue to be relayed by Vatican Radio but are targeted only at Lebanon itself. The website - linked above - does have some information about the Church in the Lebanon but it is not a major news source.

This site assembles news reports from Lebanon from across the web; sort of a Drudge Report focused on the Lebanon.

The BBC has a site devoted to the Middle East, although not exclusively to the Lebanese situation. There are often audio and video reports linked.

There are bloggers in Lebanon reporting what they see around them:

Vox's Den [a.k.a. Cedars Awakening] This one is a Christian blog.
Beirut Under Siege
Ms Levantine
Lebanese Bloggers was mentioned before. The war has left only one blogger contributing to this group blog.

So Whose Fault Is It?

The rescue from Lebanon with a 90 day payment plan, I mean. Congress says it's sick and the State Department should be ashamed of themselves and the State Department says Congress made them do it.

For once in my life I seem to be agreeing with Nancy Pelosi. The Executive Branch picked a fine time to start obeying the law.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Blessed Therese of St Augustine and Companions, Martyrs

Today Carmel celebrates the birth-in-heaven of some of our Carmelite martyrs of the French Revolution. I did a longer piece on these martyrs two years ago which you can find here. July 17 washes away the bad taste left in the mouth by July 14 - jour du Bastille.

(There's a wonderful opening scene in the beginning of Claudette Colbert's 1937 comedy "Tovarich" in which Miss Colbert and Charles Boyer play Russian artistocrats exiled by the Bolsheviks who find themselves in the middle of a street celebration in Paris. They're having a wonderful time dancing until they happen to ask a Parisian what the celebration is for. It seems it is July 14 and they are celebrating Bastille Day. The dancing stops on a dime. They go off chastened, asking pardon of the Russian saints for celebrating such an evil event. Which has nothing to do with our Carmelite saints, except in my own stream-of-consciousness sort of way. And I had no place else to mention it.)

The Times Recognizes the Existence of Christian Lebanese

But you had to read carefully. This was it:

Hezbollah has continued to shoot an unabated barrage of rockets into Israel, in turn frequently hitting civilians, even after Israeli missiles shattered the airport and highways, struck predominantly Christian neighborhoods and drove thousands of people from their homes.

It appeared in this article and, so far as I could tell, nowhere else.

Pope Benedict XVI on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

From the Holy Father's Angelus talk yesterday:

By a happy coincidence, this Sunday is July 16, day in which the liturgy
remembers the Most Holy Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Carmel, high promontory
that rises on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, at the altitude of
Galilee, has in its folds numerous natural grottoes, favorites of hermits.

The most famous of these men of God was the great prophet Elias, who in the
9th century before Christ, courageously defended the purity of the faith in
the one true God from contamination by idolatrous cults. Inspired in the
figure of Elias, the contemplative order of Carmelites arose, a religious
family that counts among its members great saints such as Teresa of Avila,
John of the Cross, Therese of the Child Jesus and Teresa Benedicta of the
Cross (in the world, Edith Stein).

The Carmelites have spread in the Christian people devotion to the Most Holy
Virgin of Mount Carmel, pointing to her as a model of prayer, contemplation
and dedication to God. Mary, in fact, before and in an unsurpassable way,
believed and felt that Jesus, the incarnate Word, is the culmination, the
summit of man's encounter with God.

Fully accepting the Word, "she happily reached the holy mountain" (Prayer of
the Collect of the Memorial), and lives forever, in soul and body, with the
Lord. To the Queen of Mount Carmel I wish to commend today all the
communities of contemplative life spread throughout the world, especially
those of the Carmelite Order, among which I remember the convent of Quart,
not far from here. May Mary help every Christian to meet God in the silence
of prayer.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following words:]

In recent days the news from the Holy Land is a reason for new and grave
concern for all, in particular because of the spread of warlike actions also
in Lebanon, and because of the numerous victims among the civilian
population. At the origin of these cruel oppositions there are, sadly,
objective situations of violation of law and justice. But neither terrorist
acts nor reprisals, especially when they entail tragic consequences for the
civilian population, can be justified. By such paths, as bitter experiences
shows, positive results are not achieved.

This day is dedicated to the Virgin of Carmel, Mount of the Holy Land that,
a few kilometers from Lebanon, dominates the Israeli city of Haifa, the
latter also recently hit. Let us pray to Mary, Queen of Peace, to implore
from God the fundamental gift of concord, bringing political leaders back to
the path of reason, and opening new possibilities of dialogue and agreement.
In this perspective I invite the local Churches to raise special prayers for
peace in the Holy Land and in the whole of the Middle East.

Was this the talk that elicited those snide comments from Bill O'Reilly yesterday on television? I wonder what he found wrong with it. What a strange man.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Die 16 Iulii -- Commemoratio Solemnis Beatæ Mariæ Virginis de Monte Carmelo

From the entry for July 16 in Dr Pius Parsch's The Church's Year of Grace, vol. IV:

Mary of Mount Carmel. Today is the principal feastday of the Carmelite Order. Through the efforts of the crusader Berthold, a group of hermits living on Mount Carmel were organized into an Order after the traditional Western type about the year 1150. Oppressed by the Saracens, the monks slowly emigrated to Europe. During the night preceding the sixteenth of July, 1225, the Blessed Virgin is said to have commanded Pope Honorius III to approve the foundation (cf. fifth Lesson at Matins). Since the Carmelites were still under constant harassment, the sixth General of the Order, St. Simon Stock, pleaded with the Blessed Virgin for some special sign of her protection. On July 16, 1251, she designated the scapular as the special mark of her maternal love. That is why the present feast is also known as the feast of the Scapular. The scapular, as part of the habit, is common to many religious Orders, but it is a special feature of the Carmelites. A smaller form of the scapular is given to lay persons in order that they may share in the great graces associated with it. Such a grace is the "Sabbatine privilege." In the so-called Bulla Sabbatina John XXII affirmed that wearers of the scapular are soon freed from the flames of purgatory, at least by the Saturday after death. The latest confirmation of the Bulla Sabbatina was promulgated by the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences, July 4, 1908.

From the July/August 1980 number of The Maryfaithful:


When certain Portuguese questioned the genuineness of the Sabbatine Privilege in the year 1609, the matter was thoroughly investigated by the Holy Office in Rome, and at the end of three years, on January 20, 1613, Pope Paul V approved the following: "It is lawful for the Carmelites to preach that the faithful may reverently believe...that the Blessed Virgin will assist by her continued intercession, by her pious suffrage and merits, and also by her special protection after their death, particularly on Saturday (which day has been dedicated to the most holy Virgin by the Church), the souls of those Brethren and members of the Confraternity who depart this life in charity, and who whilst living on earth have worn the Habit, have observed chastity according to their state of life, and have recited the Little Office, or, if they know not how to read, have observed the fasts of the Church and have abstained from flesh meats on Wednesdays and Saturdays (unless the feast of Christmas falls on either of these days.)"

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ora pro Carmelo

Several of our Carmelite houses are caught in the middle in the current Israel /Lebanon conflict. One of the missles launched by Hizballah landed some few yards away from the Stella Maris Monastery near Haifa. The illustration is near to Stella Maris and shows the "actual entrance to the grotto, El Khader, called by the Discalced Carmelites "The School of the Prophets." A former novice of the nun's monastery on Mount Carmel explains that The entire area north and south of a major Israeli defense forces (IDF) base on the northern ridge of Mt Carmel is OCD property: the friars to the north and our nuns to the south. The entire area from our nuns’ monastery to the lighthouse is known as “Stella Maris”… [Thanks, Deborah.] The nuns also have a monastery not too far away in Nazareth. The other monasteries are further to the south in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

There are also several houses of our Order in the Lebanon. The one shown in the illustration opposite is in Kubayat. There are others in Beirut, Tripoli, Jounieh, Becharri, and Mijdlaya. All except Mijdlaya seem to be north of Beirut; I cannot find Mijdlaya on the map. There is a monastery of nuns in Harissa, near Junieh and just up the coast from Beirut. Since neither Israel nor Hizballah seem not to care whom they are bombing, all are in danger. Prayer for Carmel, and all of Christian Lebanon, the birthplace of the Maronite Rite, would not go amiss.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lebanese Bloggers

A useful and interesting site for following the Israeli invasion of the Lebanon: Lebanese Bloggers.

[A tip of the balmoral to Serge for the reference.]

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"'Shakespeare' wasn't written by Shakespeare but by another man with the same name." -Mark Twain

That's the key to enjoying the latest round of Agatha Christie's Jane Marple mysteries on the PBS "Mystery" series. These programmes aren't based upon the novels of the Agatha Christie who wrote mystery novels and stories in the first part of the 20th century. This is a different woman with the same name who also wrote about a character named Jane Marple.

Once you realize the two authors have very little else in common, it's easy to settle down and enjoy the new productions. Well, O.K., you also have to ignore the anachronisms and the not terribly subtle political agendum. But that shouldn't be too difficult; it's every where else here in the land of the pc -- you should be used to it by now. Once you've adjusted your "willing suspension of disbelief" settings to include intrusions from the fatuous assumptions of 2006, it's really quite an enjoyable series.


The current New Yorker has a riveting article on investigations into Al Q'aeda prior to 9/11. Whether it could have been stopped can never be known. But the article details leads which the FBI had which might have done so had the CIA not refused to share information with them. The New Yorker article is, alas, not online. Worth a trip to the newsstand or the library, though. For a taste of it, there is an interview with the author here.

Fascinating stuff.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Small Kindness

I was playing for a funeral at a mortuary chapel last Saturday when I saw this. I hesitate to mention it here as it seems such a small and insignificant thing. Yet, I found it very affecting at the time and I am, obviously, still thinking about it. So I shall just tell you what I saw and you can make of it what you will.

I played Amazing Grace just outside the front door as the service began. As I finished, a sheriff's car drove into the parking lot. Three deputies got out and led a muscular prisoner with a shaved head and wearing an orange jumpsuit into the chapel. One deputy led the way, followed by the prisoner in shackles, followed by another deputy, followed by the third who carried a shotgun. I assumed we were not dealing with a jay-walking violation here. They led him to the rear pew where he sat alone, with two deputies including the one with the shotgun standing behind him. The other one stood at the door.

The service continued with no reference to the prisoner. I imagine few, if any, even knew he was present. The funeral was for an old woman, born in 1914 in England. She was a war-bride who married an American soldier. She had children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. Judging by the prisoner's age, I would guess the old woman was probably his grandmother. There were eulogies from family members and the young prisoner started to weep quietly. One of the deputies standing behind him then moved away and went into the mortuary office and rummaged around for a minute or two. He came back with a box of kleenex which he placed next to the young man who could then wipe his eyes and clean his face.

That's all. Just a simple, unexpected kindness: a box of kleenex for a prisoner who was crying. At the end, he was led away and the other mourners went to the reception. Western civilisation did not hang in the balance. So far as I know, no one saw it but me and the other deputy. But I was very glad to see it.

Gathering the Clans

I'm delighted to read that Karen Hall went to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games last weekend and had a wonderful time. As who wouldn't. She'll tell you about it here. If it were not already evident that she is a woman of high intelligence, good morals, and excellent taste it now becomes irrefutable as I find that she is also a kinswoman, having a MacHardy on the mother's side as I do.

Touch not the cat bot a glove!

Holy Ireland: Getting Renewed with a Vengeance

Earlier today, [July 9, 2006] at the Dublin Pro, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin ordained three men to the priesthood. The men -- one of whom served 25 years as a Christian Brother -- were the first ordinands for the Republic's capital in two years. . . .

. . .As recently as the 1970s, 90 percent of the Irish identified themselves as Catholic and almost the same number went to mass at least once a week; now the figure for mass attendance is closer to 25 percent, according to church officials in Dublin.

Rocco has more here.

Congratulations. . .

. . .to Fr John Berg, F.S.S.P., the new Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter. A true international society: Fr Berg is an American, who follows a Frenchman, Fr Devillers, in the position, who in turn succeeded the original Superior General, Fr Josef Bisig, a German Swiss. The announcement can be found here.

Preaching Christ: As Dangerous As Ever

In Turkey

In India

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bl Jeanne Scopelli, O.Carm.

If it weren't Sunday, today would be the feast of an early Carmelite prioress, Blessed Jeanne (or Jane) Scopelli.

Some biographical notes from Carmel, Its History, Spirit, and Saints:

Blessed Jeanne was born at Reggio, in the Duchy of Mantua. Her parents were of distinguished rank and equally eminent virtue. . . .She determined to give herself wholly to God, nevertheless, to satisfy her parents, she agreed to remain at home and there lead as far as possible the life of a Carmelite until she was free to follow the longing of her heart.

After the death of her parents, and after four years of effort, she succeeded in founding a Convent which she called "Our Lady of the People." She and her companions then placed themselves under the direction of the Fathers of the Mantuan Congregation [a reform of the Carmelite Order, pre-dating the Discalced Reform], and she was at once appointed Superior of the house she had founded.

Her virtue [and austerities were] great. . . .she gave long hours to prayer each day, and with such fervor that she obtained of God all she asked of Him. She suffered from cruel attacks of the demon, who vainly endeavoured to deceive and terrify her, but she was invincible by the power of prayer. . . .

Blessed Jeanne fell ill at the age of sixty-three, and Our Lord Himself appeared to her, inviting her to the heavenly nuptials upon a given day. She then called her daughters about her, telling them the exact hour of her departure, and saying sweet words of affection and advice. She especially besought them to be devout to the holy Scapular. Then, receiving the last sacraments, she peacefully awaited the coming of the Bridegroom as He had promised, and gently passed from earth to heaven, July 9, 1491.

The fame of her holiness and miracles grew day by day, and after a year her body was exhumed and found without a trace of corruption, distilling a fragrant oil. It was then placed in a more fitting shrine and exposed to the veneration of the faithful. Clement XIV approved her cultus of over three hundred years, on August 24, 1771.

The collect for her feast in the Pauline Rite can be found here. The far more pleasing collect in the old Rite is this:

Deprecantium exauditor, Deus, qui beatam Ioannam orationis ac pœnitentiæ spiritu contra dæmonis fraudes roborasti : ipsius meritis et intercessione, nos eodem confirma; ut, superatis hostium insidiis, ad palmam victoriæ perducamur. Per Dominum.

O God, help of those who cry to Thee, who didst strengthen blessed Jeanne with the spirit of prayer and penance against the wiles of the demon; by her merits and intercession strengthen us with a like spirit, so that we may withstand the attacks of the enemy and gain the palm of victory: through our Lord.

St George for England

It seems the CofE is worried that St George may be too warlike and obstreperous for our Mohammedan brethren and so may forced into retirement as patron of England. Dhimmi Watch quotes the Daily Mail here.

The Holy Grail. . .

. . .is claimed by the Cathedral in Valencia, Spain. Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass with it and now Pope Benedict has gone to venerate it. Very interesting piece here for Arthurians.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Price for being PC

About $115 million this time.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

On Haditha and such:

From Jerry Pournelle:

I come down to hear the radio is full of news of US Marine atrocity stories. I doubt most of them; but I do point out that if you send people into a civil war, you will reap results you did not want. Men are not angels. Every Western society, from the ancient Greeks to the Celts, has legends of heroes and their virtues -- and sins. The virtues of the warrior are protection of the innocent and loyalty to the king; the sins are their opposite. All the great heroes went off the rails and harmed innocents or failed to protect them; most were disobedient at one moment or another. And all societies have those legends.

And we expect perfection, every day, all day: be armed, be vigilant, live in situations where one mistake can cost the lives of your comrades; and always be correct.

There is a cost to living like that.

There is little cost to those who send the warriors, and even some rewards for defaming them.

The Glorious Fourth

We spent a lazy afternoon at the home of friends for a BBQ and some chat. And then home before dark to mount the fire-watch. At the moment - the November elections may change this - Tomorrow's City Today, where I live, move, and have my being, allows fireworks of the hilariously named "safe-and-sane" variety.

This year the fourth of July pyromaniacal fever was somewhat more subdued than usual. You might not have thought so had you been here; it's a relative judgement. Instead of Stalingrad it was more like, say, the Anzio landings. The urge to set fire to things and blow them up was still there but most folks in this town will still remember this from last March. [Even more on the Big Bang here.] The sheriff's office remembers too, and was out in force. So the rockets and the cherry bombs and the low-grade explosives still went off but there was a touch more circumspection about it. And it seems to have stopped altogether – both the legal and the illegal devices -- by about 10:00 p.m. Legally, I believe they had another hour to blast away.

Of greatest interest to me, of course, was the happy fact that no incendiary devices landed on the roof; the Ancestral Manse still stands.

And speaking of fireworks, did Blogspot take a mortar round to the server last night? It seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time to post anything today.


Fascinating article on the home-made ISPs some of the American forces in Iraq have cobbled together to keep connected with cyberspace. You can find it here. A shame about the casual mention of porn; I presume it's accurate, though. (And no, the picture is not of my desk no matter what my wife may tell you to the contrary.)

Estate Planning for Pets

Yup, pretty much just what it says: a life of leisure for Rex and Fluffy after you've shuffled off this mortal coil and joined the choirs invisible. The University of California and the State Bar have got it all worked out.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Eastern Monasticism

The Times this morning has an article on the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of Saint Anthony in (relatively) nearby Newberry Springs. You can find it here. There are a few nice pictures at the "photo gallery" link on that page.

The article doesn't reveal anything particularly new or startling - unless, of course, one knew nothing about monasticism - but it's a nice mention from the very secular Times and gives the opportunity to cite the monastery's website here. And also to point to their almost next door neighbour, Holy Resurrection Monastery also in Newberry Springs whose site can be found here. Holy Resurrection was founded under the jurisdiction of the Ruthenian Eparchy of Van Nuys but has since transferred to the Romanian Byzantine Eparchy of St George based in Canton, Ohio. Both jurisdictions are in communion with Rome.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Vulgus vult decipi, et decipatur

Or as our own Mr P.T. Barnum would have it, "There's one born every minute."

Human Rights Twisted Out of All Recognition

Touchstone has a "News" section in the back of the book, usually small bits and pieces most of which have gone unnoticed in the rest of the media. This paragraph is from the current [July/August] number:

"Limitless human rights are what our cave-dwelling ancestor already had – nothing prevented him from depriving his neighbor of prey or finishing him off with a cudgel," said Nobel Prize winter Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, defending the statement on human rights of the tenth World Russian People's Council, which had criticized Western ideas that use human rights to promote immoral behaviors condemned by traditional religions. "Even to call for self-restraint is considered ridiculous and funny. However, it is only self-restraint that offers a moral and reliable way out of any conflict." If Russia joined NATO "which is engaged in propaganda and forcibly inculcating the ideology and practices of today's Western democracy in various parts of the planet, it would lead not to a expansion, but to decline, of Christian civilization."

Sporting News: Revelation

After seeing it mentioned several times on the web that the Holy Father was following the German team in some sporting event which is apparently very popular at the moment overseas, I decided to investigate to see if I could determine what this might be. Well, what a let-down. After diligent research, I'm sorry to report that all this carry-on refers only to soccer. You know, that game played on Saturday mornings in every park in America by 11 year-old girls. Not football at all.

It's so disheartening. One scandal after another. Soccer. Tsk. You'd think they didn't know that we're in the middle of baseball season.

Tips for the Socially Hesitant

From Monica Ali in the 24 June 2006 number of The Spectator:

"(I)f in doubt in any social situation always try to find a Russian, then you can skip the small talk and go straight into politics, literature and death."

More things I didn't know about the traditional Roman Rite liturgy. . .

. . .again from the Blessed Cardinal Schuster's Liber Sacramentorum, this time discussing the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost:

The progressive order of the psalms for the Introit shows us that these Masses of the Sundays after Pentecost formed "originally a series by themselves, which now, unfortunately, has been disturbed by frequent breaks, which date from the seventh century at least. The Würzburg list of Gospels indicates that there were at Rome in the eighth century two "Second Sundays" post Pentecosten, one ante natale Apostolorum and the other post natale Apostolorum; after which the cycle continued with the dominica tertia, and so on. It is important to note that the Feast of SS Peter and Paul, like the other greater solemnities of the year, formed a chronological milestone from which the various weeks of the liturgical year were reckoned. To-day's Gospel of the miraculous draught of fishes taken by St Peter is assigned in the same list to the second Sunday (ante natale Apostolorum), and refers, perhaps, to the feast which Rome was already beginning to celebrate with still greater solemnity. We can hardly picture to ourselves in these times the devotion with which the natalis of the Apostles Peter and Paul was celebrated at Rome in the early days of Christianity. From all over Italy, even from the most remote provinces of the empire, bands of pilgrims arrived for this occasion, to whom Rome was the type of the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the martyrs.

The Introit is drawn from Psalm xxvi, and well reflects the mind of the Church during this period of combat and peril: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? My enemies that trouble me have themselves been weakened and have fallen." This miracle, described by the Evangelists as having taken place when Jesus was made captive in the Garden of Gethsemani, is constantly being renewed in the history of the Church, wherein we find that all those who have made war upon her have always ended in disaster and ruin.

The melody of this psalm must have had a special pathos when sung by the terrified band of faithful Christians in the darkness of the catacombs. "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?" Nero, Domitian, and Valerian have each been cast down from his throne by the hand of God. That Church which they sought to destroy stands still unmoved, and the morrow draws near when, from the height of the Vatican, she shall rule in the place of the Caesars over all the nations of the world.

The Collect appears to pursue the same thought, as is seen in the Introit. Of very great importance to the expansion of the Church are the social conditions of a country. These are subjected to God in such a way that, whilst the nations are agitated and disturbed by their passions, he orders all these events and turns them to his final glory and to the salvation of souls. We therefore join to-day in the Church's prayers that the divine Providence may so dispose the course of human affairs that nothing shall arise to hinder the Catholic family from giving to God the united homage of its devotion. In other words, we beseech almighty God not to permit the return of persecution, because, although it might enrich the Church with martyrs, yet the normal life of the Christian community develops more freely during times of peace and goodwill.