Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hark the Bonnie Christchurch Bells

If you are in Dublin right now you are very likely listening to the bells of Christchurch ring out the old year and ring in the new. The Sunday Times says:

Final preparations were being made for the ringing in of the new year in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin yesterday. Professor Gary McGuire, ringing master of the Christ Church Cathedral Society of Ringers, was testing the bells. “The bells have have been heard throughout Dublin for many years,” he said. The society was established in 1670.

Watch the ringers on Youtube here.


The particularly observant among you have noticed that up until this afternoon The Inn's archives stopped at the end of March 2006. I, as it happens, am only relatively observant and noticed it but recently. The Case of the Disappearing Archives isn't solved yet even though you will now see a full set of archives listed. It seems they do still exist somewhere out there in the æther. On a whim I decided to add the links manually to the template and see what happens. Well, Hey, Presto! all the manually-added archive links work and the archives are back again.

I have no idea why that worked but I am quite delighted that all this deathless prose will not be lost to posterity. Now I shall have to remember to add an archive link to the left-hand column 12 times a year. Beginning tomorrow.

God bless Blogspot, anyway.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

El Santo Niño

Devotion to the Child Jesus at Christmas time. And, mirabile dictu, in a secular newspaper.

Found While Looking for Something Else

Did you know the Vatican has its own national anthem? It's news to me but it's on the White House's website. You can listen to it here and learn the lyrics in Italian and English, too.

Friday, December 29, 2006

St Thomas of Canterbury again

Some rhyming antiphons from Matins and Lauds of the Sarum Breviary (via Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year) for the feast of St Thomas:

Summo sacerdotio
Thomas sublimatus,
et in virum alium
subito mutatus

Thomas being raised to the fullness of the Priesthood,
was suddenly transformed into a new man.

Monachus sub clerico
clam ciliciatus,
carnis, carne fortior,
edomat conatus.

A monk, wearing the hairshirt
secretly under his cleric's dress, he
subdues the rebellion of his flesh,
for he was not a slave to the flesh.

Cultor agri Domini
tribulos evelit,
et vulpes a vineis
arcet et expellit

Husbandman of the Lord's vineyard,
he roots up the brambles,
and drive the foxes from the vines.

Nec in agnos sustinet
lupos desævire,
nec in hortum olerum
tineam transire.

He neither suffers wolves to prowl among
the lambs, nor slugs to crawl in the garden.

Exulantis prædia
præda sunt malignis,
sed in igne positum
non exurit ignis.

He is sent into exile, and his possessions
made over to wicked men; but the fire of
tribulation burns him not.

Satanæ satellites
irrumpentes templum,
inauditum perpetrant
scleris exemplum.

The satellites of Satan rush into the Temple,
and perpetrate the unheard-of crime.

Strictis Thomas ensibus
obviam procedit,
non minis, non gladiis,
sed nec morti cedit.

Thomas advances to meet the unsheathed swords:
nor threats nor swords nor very death can make
him yield.

Felix locus, felix ecclesia
in qua Thomæ vivit memoria:
Felix terra quæ dedit præsulem,
felix illa quæ fovit exulem.

Happy Canterbury! Happy Church that cherishes
the memory of her Thomas! Happy land that gave
such a Bishop, and happy too the country that
harboured such an exile!

Granum cadit, copiam germinat frumenti:
alabastrum frangitur, fragrat vis unguenti.

The grain of wheat falls, and bringeth forth
much fruit: the precious vase is broken,
and perfumes all the earth!

Totus orbis Martyris
certat in amorem,
cuius signa singulos
agunt in stuporem.

The whole earth seeks how most to love our
Martyr, and men look in wonder at each other
as they hear or see the miracles that are wrought.

29 December -- St Thomas of Canterbury

You've seen that image before on The Inn. It's a favourite.

The Hooly Blissful Martir deserves more attention than I can devote this morning. There is much in Gueranger and later this afternoon I shall try to type out some of the antiphons, or a hymn, from the Sarum Rite that he gives.

In the meantime, some text and links from prior years can be found here, here, here, and here.

Another Side of Gerald Ford

This was in the PT this morning.
It tells of Lt.j.g. Gerald Ford, U.S.N.'s role in saving the aircraft carrier Monterey during the second world war. God rest his soul.

(Yes, the link is to the NY Times and not the PT. The PT almost never puts their non home-grown columns on the web.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Carmelite Monks in the News

The Carmelite Monks of Wyoming are once again in the news. The Billings Gazette writes about them during the Christmas season here.

The article doesn't mention that they use the traditional Carmelite liturgy. . .but they do. Their own website can be found here.

Sherlock Holmes Tea?

So it would seem. You can get some to try here. (I am apparently more Scottish than the vendor had anticipated and consequently unwilling to fork over the $15 required for 8 ounces. Maybe when my lottery ticket numbers come up. In the event I remember to buy a ticket.)

The Christmas Piper

Most years I try to find a Christmas piper. This one is from the Duc du Berry's Book of Hours. This year he has an accompanying verse from "Christmas in Ritual and Tradition" quoting J.J. Jusserand's "A Literary History of the English People" (London, 1907):

“The shepard upon a hill he satt;
He had on him his tabard and his hat,
His tar-box, his pipe, and his flagat;
His name was called Joly Joly Wat,
For he was a gud herdës boy.
Ut hoy!
For in his pipe he made so much joy.
* * * * *
Whan Wat to Bedlem cum was,
He swet, he had gone faster than a pace;
He found Jesu in a simpell place,
Betwen an ox and an asse.
Ut hoy!
For in his pipe he made so much joy.

‘Jesu, I offer to thee here my pipe,
My skirt, my tar-box, and my scripe;
Home to my felowes now will I skipe,
And also look unto my shepe.’
Ut hoy!
For in his pipe he made so much joy.”

I thought I had dodged this particular bullet. . .

. . .but my pre-Thanksgiving cold-and-sore-throat, which thankfully lasted less than a week, is back just in time for Christmas. I didn't miss Christmas Mass. I'm not incapacitated, neither am I languishing on my bed of pain. In short, there is no legitimate excuse for not having a Christmas post up on The Inn. But there is a reason: I am feeling rather lazy, grumpy, and sorry for myself.

Maybe if I had a sip of St John's wine. Msgr Richard Schuler tells us about St John's wine in the 21 December number of The Wanderer. So in honour of the day that's in it, as today is indeed the feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist St John, herewith:

St John the Evangelist was honored on December 27. His feast was a general holiday, being kept as the third day of Christmas. Special wine, called St John's Love, was blessed on St John's Day, the formula for the blessing being found in the Rituale Romanum. It was thought that St John had survived the drinking of poisoned wine. Those going on a long journey fortified themselves from harm by drinking St John's wine, and at weddings it was regularly drunk. Often those about to depart this life were given a sip to strengthen them for their departure from this world. In St John's Gospel, Christ is called the Light of the World, and so when lighting the Christmas tree, a child with the name of John is often given the privilege of lighting the tree.

Catholic Culture gives a little family ritual to go with the St John's Day feast.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

And the Award for "Best Sight-Reading of a Musical Score" in 2006 goes to. . .

. . .the Los Angeles indult Mass chant schola at St John Vianney Chapel on 24 December.

And well-deserved it is, too. Or it would be if there were such an award. All the proper chants today were sung for the Fourth Sunday of Advent up until the sermon. At which point father read the little announcements, one of which was that, as the Fourth Sunday of Advent fell on 24 December, the Mass for today would be that of the Vigil of Christmas. The schola proceeded to sing the remainder of the chant propers for the Mass of the Vigil of Christmas. Whether the schola sight-read them at the time or scurried out the back to practice them during the sermon, we couldn't say. But either way, we are mightily impressed. We used to be fair to middlin' at sight-reading a vocal score (back when we had a voice and it was worth doing) and can still make a decent stab at a pipe score but Mass propers -- four line staff notation, square notes, and Solesmes neumes -- defeated us every time. It needed to be sounded out slowly and painfully and usually corrected by someone else. Figuring that stuff out is hard.

So, schola: this is the applause you didn't get after Mass. (Because chant isn't the only thing we do properly and according to order at the traditional liturgy.)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Saturday Before Christmas

The photograph shows the manger scene at our local parish, St Peter Chanel. Well, not "local" precisely. Let us say "local" in that it is the closest parish to The Inn at which Catholic doctrine will still be preached. I was out practicing in the park for a while this afternoon (the lip still needs to be kept in shape and the reeds can't be allowed to dry up even in the Christmas season.) The park was almost empty on this quite pleasant December day. . .two or three dog-walkers and three black fellows keeping their baseball skills intact over on one of the ball diamonds. So no one came over to talk and I got in a fairly good practice, including a few of the Christmas carols that fit the pipe scale.

And then I made a little visit to St Peter's to say Vespers. Christmas confessions were going on in the back so I could sneak a snapshot of the manger without disturbing anyone. (Yes, you're right: the Baby Jesus is missing. The picture was taken on the 23d. Give us another day or so. . . .)

It's A Wonderful Life

The Times's contribution to the season this morning consists of a few articles on Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life". This one gives some background on Capra and the film. Here Karolyn Grimes, the actress who played the daughter "Zuzu", tells something of her life after "Life". Some still photos that didn't make it into the print edition. And some "Wonderful" tidbits.

Yes, one is occasionally grateful even for The Times.

Odor Sanctitatis?

Or maybe just odor pontificalis. Click here and find out how to smell like Pio Nono.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Game is Afoot!

The Christmas number of The Strand Magazine arrived this morning. I planned on saving it for the Christmas weekend but now I find I've already allowed myself to read - not to say devour - half of it. Must be more abstemious. It is, after all, still Advent.

From the editor:

In our holiday issue, we have a collection of yarns which will ensure that you are so preoccupied with reading The Strand that you won't notice some of the more annoying holiday television commercials. Rumpole is on the case in John Mortimer's "Rumpole and Father Christmas," Hamish Macbeth makes his first appearance in The Strand Magazine-in M.C. Beaton's "Knock, Knock, You're Dead," Alexander McCall Smith offers up a tale which shows us why father knows best in "A Sound Understanding," Ed Hoch presents us with the cozy Yuletide mystery "An Irregular Christmas," and Peter Tremayne disturbs Holmes' holiday in "The Case of the Panicking Policeman." For our Great Detectives series, Patricia Craig profiles Nicholas Blake's Nigel Strangeways and Simon Winder profiles the greatest secret agent of all time, none other than Bond, James Bond, that charming, martini-drinking, womanizing hero who is always lucky enough to run across the most egomaniacally stupid villains on the face of the earth! And as usual, this issue of The Strand also features reviews of the latest mysteries, audiobooks, and children's mysteries as we continue to expand our review section.

Two New Ones

A pair of new web-logs (new to me at any rate) which I find myself coming back to regularly: Crazy Stable and Auntie Joanna Writes. Quite different but good writing in both and very enjoyable. Recommended. Both should be in the coveted Left-Hand Column of The Inn when I get a moment. Oh, why not do it now as long as I have the editing page open? Give me three minutes and they both should be up, providing everyone is out doing last minute Christmas shopping as they should be and not overloading the Blogspot server fiddling with their own blogs.

The Church Interiors Challenge

Find out how much you know about the interior of a church and then look at your own local parish church with new eyes.

Interesting. I didn't to too badly. The final "perfect score" actually had more to do with figuring out the nature of the game than with perfect knowledge of ecclesiastical architecture. And, of course, the final recommendation to "then look at your own local church" fails to consider the viewer in the Archdiocese of Hollywood, whose own local parish church is built on the crushed shoe-box model rather than the cruciform model. But still. For those who like that sort of thing this is that sort of thing.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Larry Sherry - 1935-2006

Well, the card says "Tigers" but if you were 11 years old in 1959 and living in Southern California, Larry Sherry and "Dodgers" will always be synonomous. Koufax, Drysdale, Podres, and Sherry stitched up the World Series that year for our almost brand new Dodgers. He finished all four Dodger wins that year and won the series MVP. And in the Coliseum, too, possibly the worst possible stadium for baseball in the country -- including the minor leagues.

There never were all that many Jewish baseball players but L.A. had two of the best that year in Koufax and Sherry. And now The Times this morning says Larry Sherry is dead at 71. God rest his soul.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Gaudete Sunday

Another of the Blessed Cardinal Schuster's historical briefs on the liturgical day. He goes into great detail on this, the third Sunday of Advent, and never explicitly calls it "Gaudete Sunday".

The Third Sunday of Advent
Station at St Peter's

Seeing that in Rome on the fourth Sunday of Advent there was no station – because of the great ordinations of priests and deacons mense decembri which took place on the preceding night – this third station preparatory to Christmas was celebrated at St Peter's, with unwonted splendour of rites and processions, as if it were the mind of the church to introduce us at this moment to the holy joys which belong to the season of our Lord's birth.

This, in fact, is the week of the great scrutinies and of the solemn fasts preceding the ordinations; hence the faithful also on this day assemble at the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, in order to obtain for themselves his heavenly protection, and to share with the Pastor Ecclesiæ the joy which fills the hearts of the flock at the glad news of the approaching parousia: Prope est jam Dominus. . . .

Formerly the Pope used to repair to the Vatican Basilica at sunset on the Saturday, and, being present at Vespers, intoned the first and last antiphons which were indicated to him by one of the canons. The Ordines Romani tell us that in reward for this service the Pontiff was accustomed to place a gold coin in the mouth of the worthy ecclesiastic.

It was the duty of the Vatican Chapter to provide the Pope and the cardinals with supper and sleeping accommodation for the first part of the night; this latter, however, was not required for long, since the Office of the Vigil began shortly after midnight. The Pope, preceded by acolytes with candles and torches, went first to incense the altars of St Leo I, St Gregory the Great, St Sebastian, St Tiburtius, the Apostles SS Simon and Jude, the Holy Face, the Blessed Virgin and lastly that of St Pastor. This being done, he went down into the crypt of the Confession of St Peter, and after he had offered incense at the tomb of the Apostle the first Offices of the Vigil began. Three psalms and three scriptural lessons were chanted by the clergy, then the primicerius intoned the Te Deum, the Pope recited the collect, and so ended the first part of the night psalmody ad corpus.

The procession then returned to the basilica above in the same order in which it had come down, and after the altar under which the body of St Peter rested had been incensed, began the Office of Matins, properly so called. This pro­ceeded without there being anything special to be noted. The Vatican canons chanted the lessons of the first nocturn; in the second, the first two lections — extracts from the letter of St Leo I to the Patriarch Flavian — fell to the bishops; the third lection and the first of the third nocturn to two of the cardinals; the last but one to the senior canon of the Vatican Chapter; and the last one of all to the Pope. The Office of Dawn followed, in which the Pontiff intoned the antiphon preceding the Canticle of Zachary, and last of all recited the final collect.

The stational Mass for this day, as it immediately precedes the Christmas season, had originally a strikingly festive character. We know that novenas and triduums in preparation for the greater feasts are of later origin, and in the golden age of the Liturgy these weeks before Easter and Christmas, with their vigiliary Masses and stational synaxes at the most famous basilicas of the Eternal City, were intended to prepare the souls of the faithful and to obtain for them from heaven the grace to profit by the various solemnities of the liturgical cycle.

At the Mass the Pope intoned the Angelic Hymn, which was then taken up by all the clergy. After the Collect, the singers, led by the cardinal deacons, the apostolic sub-deacons and the notaries, recited the Acclamations or Laudes, in honour of the Pontiff, the clergy and the Roman people, a custom still observed at the coronation ceremony of the Sovereign Pontiffs. At the termination of the holy sacrifice the deacons replaced the tiara on the head of the Pope, and, having mounted their horses, the whole cavalcade proceeded with all due solemnity to the Lateran, where the banquet took place.

To-day's ceremonial has preserved very little indeed of all this brilliant ritual setting; joy is, indeed, by no means the dominant note of modern society. At the Mass, it is true, the sacred ministers are clothed in rose-coloured vestments in place of the customary ones of violet, and the organ once again fills the aisles with its strains. The divine Office itself has not undergone any change; it preserves intact its primitive spirit of festivity and eagerness aroused by the nearness of the coming of the Saviour.

The Introit is derived from St Paul's Epistle to the Philippians (iv, 4), and is well adapted to the occasion. The Lord is now very close at hand, and at this announcement the heart overflows with joy. Yet this joy is in complete contrast to that to which the world gives itself up, for it is the fruit of that inward peace which the Holy Ghost communicates to the soul when it remains faithful to God's holy will. Such fidelity — the careful fulfilling, that is, of the duties belonging to one's state, is here called by St Paul modestia; the exact measure and form, as it were, of all the virtues. Interior peace might well find an obstacle in the sorrows and anxieties of the outward life; but St Paul would have us banish from our hearts all excessive solicitude, having recourse in humble confidence to God in prayer, and laying all our needs trustingly before him whom he calls the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation. Psalm Ixxxiv, which forms the concluding portion of the Introit, is in a special manner the canticle of the Redemption.

So that's what modestia means: "the careful fulfilling,. . . ,of the duties belonging to one's state". It always seemed somewhat oxymoronic for St Paul to advise us to let our "modesty" be known to all men. "Modesty" then, isn't quite proper for a 21st century translation. I wonder: was it proper for 16th century English? Used "modesty" to be more like Schuster's definition of "modestia"?


Bl Mary of the Angels

Today is the feast day of another of those headstrong, steely-eyed women that the old holy card painters never seemed to have in mind when they produced their creations. There are a few rather spare lives of Blessed Mary on the web, most of them reiterations of the little one paragraph life given in the breviary. This page provides a bit more information. The second nocturn for her feast has even more but I am out of time for translation. (I've a wedding to do in Dana Point shortly and it looks to be coming on to rain.) Perhaps next year.

For now, her collect:

Deus, qui beatæ Mariæ Virgini tuæ angelicis dedisti moribus vivere: præsta nobis famulis tuis; ut, eius imitatione carnis superatis illecebris, Angelorum consortium consequei mereamur. Per Dominum.

O God, Who hast made the blessed Mary, Thy Virgin, to live like an angel: grant to us Thy servants that, following in her footsteps, we may overcome the desires of the flesh and be worthy to enjoy the companionship of the angels: through our Lord.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thoughts on Watching Television

No, sorry, not a Marshall McLuhan post. Not really up to philosophy this morning. More of a TV Guide sort of thing.

For the first time in a very long time -- probably years -- I saw a network news broadcast. And they are still doing it: making news crews stand out in the freezing cold weather to report on something that happened indoors. First they attend a press conference in the press conference room. And then they go out and stand in front of the White House, the governor's mansion, or the police station in the snow, the rain or the fog to sum it up. Is this just to prove to the boss that they showed up or do they think the audience appreciates watching them suffer for their art? In my occasionally humble opinion, I rather think the but-one-thing-is-certain summing up would go over just as well from a well-heated interior shot.

The Path to the Literary Heights

It seems Dan Brown is a man of many talents. (Or perhaps "person" is the more appropriate noun in this instance.) Not only is he the J. Gordon Coogler of the ecclesiastical novel, but apparently he began his career as a staple in the self-help section of your local Barnes & Noble. The 11 November 2006 number of The Spectator reveals that the Dan Brown of Da Vinci Code fame is also the Danielle Brown who in 1995 gave the world 187 Men to Avoid, a "survival guide for the romantically frustrated woman." In case you were wondering, The Spectator lists some of the men Ms/Mr Brown advises avoiding including "men who don't separate their white and coloured laundry. . .men who work at carnivals. . . .men who read their horoscope. . .men who own hamsters. . ." There are more. Oddly, it doesn't mention albino monks. No doubt that revelation came later.

Good old Ms/Mr Brown. Still going about doing good after all these years.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's Nice to Know Who's Really Responsible

"Traffic is brought to you by the Southern California Lexus Dealers."
--heard on KPCC yesterday while waiting at a red light in an enormous line of, yes, traffic.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Carmelite Calendar

There are two possibilities for today. In the old calendar a medieval Carmelite brother, Bl Francum Lippi, was honoured today. In the new calendar a recent canonisation takes his place, St Maria Maravillas de Jesus who evaded the persecutions of the communists in 1930's Spain and lived to found several houses of the Order.

More can be found at last year's post here. Although one of the referenced links seems to be AWOL.

(And where are my archives disappearing to? God bless Blogspot, anyway.)

Pipes and Drums Afloat

The U.S. Naval Academy has had a pipe band for some years. But now it is "official" and the only active duty pipe band in the Department of the Navy. This article tells a little more. They have their own page on the Academy's website here.

But the USN is not the only Navy interested in pipes. The Royal Naval Piping Society has its own page here.

And the French Navy have their own bagadou with a website here. (Note the picture of the band on the main page; is that a whiskey still they're standing in front of? There's one belonging to Jameson's distillery in the middle of this page. Same thing, no? Not taking any chances with their ration of grog it seems.)

Armageddon is One Step Closer

I find I approve of a Times editorial. True, it's only about SUVs and tinted windows and such. But still. It may be a first since the days when old man Chandler ran it and Bill Buckley and Henry Hazlitt appeared on the editorial page.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

2d Sunday of Advent

Winter and December have finally arrived on this Sunday morning. Not actual snow, of course. The picture is of the beautiful medieval parish church of St Laurence in Alvechurch, Worcestershire. Lakewood, the Athens of the south county though it be, has neither architecture nor weather to compare. But I rather liked it when I found it here so you get to look at it, too, what with us having our first gully-whumper rain of the season last night and today being Sunday and all. (You can click on the picture and make it well-nigh enormous.) Oh, yes. And what to post to honour the second Sunday of Advent? How about one of the vesper antiphons:

Ecce apparebit Dominus, et non mentietur: si moram fecerit, exspecta eum, quia veniet, et non tardabit, alleluia.

Behold the Lord shall appear, and shall not lie: if He make any delay, wait for Him for He will come, and will not be slack, alleluia.

10 December -- The Beatified Martyrs of East Anglia

All of these martyrs are in Bowden and Blesseds Thomas Tunstall, Montford Scott, and Henry Heath are listed separately by name in the venerable Catholic Encyclopædia. I had never heard of them listed as a group, though, but so they are in English calendar. The citation is here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Education in the United States is Run by the Clinically Insane


4 Year Old Accused of Improperly Touching Teacher

"In Hoc Signo Vinces"

Constantine had the cross on his banner at the battle of the Milvian Bridge. According to The Times this morning archaeologists have discovered the standards of his rival, Maxentius. Or at any rate, the standard holders.

Archeologists have unearthed what they say are the only existing insignia belonging to Roman Emperor Maxentius — precious objects buried to protect them after Maxentius was defeated by his rival Constantine at the battle of Milvian Bridge in AD 321. Some of the objects are believed to be the bases for the emperor's standards — rectangular or triangular flags, Italian officials said Wednesday.

A little googling reveals a bit more than The Times's one short paragraph. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has more detail here.

Friday, December 08, 2006

On The War for Christmas

"There is no such thing as a feast 'without gods' -- whether it be a carnival or a marriage. That is not a demand, or a requirement; it does not mean that that is how things ought to be. Rather, it is meant as a simple statement of fact: However dim the recollection of that association may have become in men's minds, a feast 'without gods,' and unrelated to worship, is quite simply unknown."
--Josef Pieper, Leisure, The Basis of Culture. Seen quoted in the 30 November 2006 number of The Wanderer.

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Benedictus Antiphon: Ait Dominus Deus ad serpentem: Inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem, et semen tuum et semen illius; ipsa conteret caput tuum, alleluia. Gen I:xv

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

[Yes, the picture is really the Annunciation. But it's still Our Lady, and a favourite picture.]

The Transit of Mercury

Sounds like "Buses from Outer Space!" doesn't it. But it actually refers to "the planet Mercury pass[ing] in front of the Sun on Wednesday, Nov. 8th--a rare transit visible from the Americas, Hawaii and all around the Pacific Rim." (A more complete explanation can be found here.)

Astronomers amateur and professional took some wonderful pictures. Several pages of them can be found here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Spam, Glorious Spam

An update on the battle from the New York Times.

I cannot use the e-mail feature on my pda for business. Without constant accessing and deleting, the amount of spam overwhelms its capacity. Since the anti-spam companies have no solution, I certainly don't either. But I will offer this as a promise (borrowed from Jerry Pournelle a few years ago):

Given that A is a professional spammer. If B does some mischief to A or his property and I am on the jury, I will not vote to convict B.

Date: 7 DEC 41
Info: -URGENT-

Today is the 65th anniversary of the day that will live in infamy and this morning's paper thought it worthy of mention.

The Press Telegram gave it front page status with two articles, this one with the recollections of a Pearl Harbor survivor and this one with the stories of the veterans attending the quinquennial meeting of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

In The Times this morning is the obituary of Brigadier General Kenneth M. Taylor who as a 21 year-old Army Air Force pilot was one of the first two pilots to get airborne on December 7 and give the Japanese a little of their own back. It's a shame the webpage doesn't include the picture in the print edition. The then Lt Taylor looks about 12.

The Times also has a couple more articles on the survivors, here and here.

And the National Geographic's Interactive Pearl Harbor commemorative site is still up with, I think, a few additions. At least I don't remember them from last year. You can find it here.

An audio recording of President Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech can be found here.

What I'm Not Getting for Christmas

One of these. Maybe if they discount it from $400 to, say, $29.95. What an improvement over sitting in the back garden on the reclining folding chair with the binoculars, penlight, and National Geographic map of the night sky.


Time for a re-read of St John of the Cross on detachment.

St Vibiana Again

I swapped the original picture of St Vibiana's shrine in this post for a new one. You can click on this one for a larger view.

Sancta Vibiana, ora pro archidiocesis Angelorum.

St Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor

Today is a significant day in my particular calendar of liturgical peculiarities. Today marks one of the very few instances where I find the collect in the new Pauline Rite is quite superior to the Roman Rite. (Don't go looking in your missalette for it; the ICEL version has nothing to do with it.) Whatever about making the rest of the liturgy "relevant to today" this one is certainly relevant to the needs of the Catholic Church in the United States circa 2006:

Deus, qui beatum Ambrosium episcopum cathoicæ fidei doctorem at apostolicæ fortitudinis exemplum effecisti, excita in Ecclesia tua viros secundum cor tuum, qui eam fortiter et sapienter gubernent. Per Dominum.

I wonder if the consilium had any idea how "relevant", indeed desperately necessary, that plea of that collect was going to be.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Late-Night Whammy . . . .

. . . .strikes again. Yes, posting blog entries when one should be sleeping is always a mistake. That last entry looks a little pointless, doesn't it. There's supposed to be a really gorgeous night-sky illustration. I didn't link to it and now I can't find it.


And a happy Advent to you, too.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

3 December 2006

"The nearly full Moon crosses the Pleiades tonight, temporarily occulting (covering) several of the cluster's brightest stars." -from the MacDonald Observatory's "Stardate".

St Vibiana, Virgin & Martyr

Yesterday was the feast of St Vibiana, the patroness of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Her relics used to be enthroned beneath the high altar of the Cathedral named in her honour. Her cathedral is no longer a cathedral. We have a new one. You may have heard. And it is no longer named after her.

The good news is there is still a little shrine maintained in her honour which you can go and visit and pray that she have mercy on this diocese so long committed to her protection. The bad news is you'll have to visit the new cathedral to do so. But that is do-able. Many have done so before and emerged with faith and sense of aesthetics intact. You can too. Her little shrine is in the crypt and it is worth a visit. (Click on the image for a much larger view.)

Happy New Year!

The First Sunday of Advent is today (or as my very deaf friend announced to all the congregation before this morning's Mass in what he is under the impression is a whisper, "Today is Primum Adventum!"). And the first day of the new liturgical year. Here is a portion of the Blessed Cardinal Schuster's reflection on the First Sunday of Advent:

Unlike the old sacramentaries, in which the year began with the feast of Christmas, the Roman Missal enters to-day upon her liturgical cycle. The reason for this is that the Incarnation of the Word of God is the true central point – the milliarium aureum -- which divides the long course of the ages of humanity. In the designs of divine Providence the Incarnation either prepares that fulness of time which heralds the coming of the year of redemption, or, from the cradle of Bethlehem, directs its steps toward the Valley of Josaphat, where the Babe of the Manger awaits the judgement to be pronounced on all the seed of Adam, redeemed by his precious blood. The order of our present Missal is more logical, and corresponds more closely to this lofty conception of history, by which the Incarnation is made the true central event in the world's drama. The early Christians, on the other hand, when they began their sacramentaries with the festival of Christmas, were following, in so doing, the primitive liturgical tradition, which, down to the fourth century, knew nothing as yet of a period of four or six Sundays of preparation for this, the greatest of all solemnities.

It was towards the middle of the fifth century, when, consequent on the christological heresies of Nestorius, the commemoration of the birth of our Saviour rose to great prominence, that a special season of preparation for Christmas began to make its appearance in the Liturgy, at Ravenna, in Gaul and in Spain. The controversy with Nestorius and Eutychius, and the great Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon – in which was solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the two natures, divine and human, united in the one Person of Christ, and in which the glories and prerogatives of the Theotokos were consequently highly exalted – these all gave to Catholic devotion a powerful impulse towards that mystery of Redemption, through the Incarnation, which found in St Leo the Great and in St Peter Chrysologus its most able and enthusiastic exponents.

As the first portion of the Leonine Sacramentary is mutilated and incomplete, it can tell us nothing concerning the early sources of the Advent liturgy in Rome; but in all probability the rite of the papal metropolis, in this as in other respects, was practically identical with that of Naples and with the suffragan see of Ravenna, where Chrysologus – even if he be not the author of the Advent collects in the famous Ravenna Roll – delivered to the people on four different occasions four splendid homilies in preparation for the feast of Christmas.

For many centuries the Roman Church has set aside four weeks for the keeping of Advent. It is true that the Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries, as well as several other ancient lectionaries, reckon five weeks, but the lectionary lists of Capua and Naples, and the custom of the Nestorians, who know only four weeks of Advent, bear witness in favour of the antiquity of the pure Roman tradition on this point also.

Unlike Lent, with its predominant thought of penance and grief for the deicide about to be consummated in Jerusalem, the spirit of the sacred Liturgy during Advent, full of the joyful announcement of approaching freedom, Evangelizo vobis gaudium magnum quod erit omni populo, is one of holy enthusiasm, tender gratitude, and an intense longing for the coming of the Word of God in the hearts of all the children of Adam. Our hearts, like that of Abraham, who as our Lord says, exultavit ut videret diem meum, vidit et gavisus est, must be full of holy enthusiasm for the definite triumph of humanity, which, through the hypostatic union of the two natures in Christ is raised above to the throne of God on high.

The chants of the Mass, the responsories, the antiphons of the Divine Office, are all for this reason bedight with Alleluias. [One paragraph omitted here.]

To-day's station at the Liberian Basilica – in which, from the time of Sixtus III (432-440), a Roman reproduction of the Nativity at Bethlehem has been venerated -- seems as if it would point out to the faithful the true meaning and aim of this season of prayer. It is there that the Præsepe Domini awaits us, the crib of the Incarnate Word, which, while it demonstrates the reality of his human nature, is at the same time the throne and the chair whence he will give us his first Gospel lessons upon obedience, poverty,and the mortification of the senses, whilst condemning pride, sensuality and the deceptive pomp of this world.

The Ordo Romanus of Cencius Camerarius attests that in the 12th century the Pope was still wont to repair on this day to St Mary Major, there to celebrate the stational Mass. It is probable that this custom goes back to the time of St Gregory I, the great reorganizer of the stational liturgy, especially as several of the ancient manuscripts of his works contain the information that to-day's homily on the Gospel, which is read in the Breviary, was actually delivered at St Mary Major.

We're Havin' a Renewal

One reads about the vacated monasteries and convents but I, at least, don't run into them that often. (Except, of course, the local parish convents which formerly housed the local school's teaching nuns. In this Archdiocese, these are now universally empty or converted to other uses.)

Last Saturday I played for a memorial service held at a "Teen Challenge" retreat facility for a former TC volunteer. I found that the retreat facility had been a Servite seminary up until 1975 or so when it was sold after vocations vanished like the morning dew. Here are a few pictures of this still very beautiful campus. (The quality of the views is not what it might be as they were taken with the camera on my pda. Apologies.)

Approaching from the surrounding area.

The courtyard entrance. The wrought iron gate says "Castillo Isabella"

Taken from the balcony above the main entrance foyer.

Ceiling in the main hall. The picture doesn't do the carved and decorated beams nearly enough justice.

The tower above the main building.

Another view of the same tower.

It could be worse, you know. At least it's in Christian hands. The old Carmelite convent in Long Beach is now a Buddhist monastery.

Friday, December 01, 2006

120 Years Ago Today

Rex Stout, one of masters of detective fiction in the golden age, was born 120 years ago this day in 1886. As the creator of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin he has earned a permanent place in the detective fiction pantheon.

There are any number of sites devoted to Stout and his fiction. Start with Wikipedia to give you an overview here. This site gives an annotated Nero Wolfe bibliography. The Wolfe Pack is for the truly committed. And there are links on enough on all three of those pages to take you through the weekend.