The Inn at the End of the World
"[A] man . . .the other day pointed out that I was never bored. I hadn’t thought of that before, but it’s true: I’m never bored. I’m appalled, horrified, angered, but never bored. The world appears to me so infinite in its variety that many lifetimes could not exhaust its interest. So long as you can still be surprised, you have something to be thankful for." -Theodore Dalrymple
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Eructavit cor meum. . . .
Why the text of a psalm? Not sure, actually. This psalm occurred in yesterday's daily office and it's been on my mind. It's one of the psalms in the traditional Little Office of Our Lady, I think for Lauds if I remember correctly. It's a beautiful text and this is one of the most beautiful of the translations. Somewhere in the past two hundred and fifty years, though, someone's tinkered with it. It used to begin "My heart is inditing of a good matter. . . " and that's the text Handel used for one of his Coronation Anthems. I think I prefer that one, probably because I can hear the music when I hear that text, although it may just be my curmudgeonly preference for antiquity.
Psalm 45. Eructavit cor meum.
MY heart overfloweth with a good matter; I speak the things which I have made concerning the King. * My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
2 Thou art fairer than the children of men; * full of grace are thy lips, because God hath blessed thee for ever.
3 Gird thee with thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou Most Mighty, * according to thy worship and renown.
4 Good luck have thou with thine honour: * ride on, because of the word of truth, of meekness, and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.
5 Thy arrows are very sharp in the heart of the King's enemies, * and the people shall be subdued unto thee.
6 Thy seat, O God, endureth for ever; * the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
7 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; * wherefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia; * out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.
9 Kings’ daughters are among thy honourable women; * upon thy right hand doth stand the queen in a vesture of gold, wrought about with divers colours.
10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider; incline thine ear; * forget also thine own people, and thy father's house.
11 So shall the King have pleasure in thy beauty; * for he is thy Lord, and worship thou him.
12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; * like as the rich also among the people shall make their supplication before thee.
13 The King’s daughter is all glorious within; * her clothing is of wrought gold.
14 She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework: * the virgins that be her fellows shall bear her company, and shall be brought unto thee.
15 With joy and gladness shall they be brought, * and shall enter into the King's palace.
16 Instead of thy fathers, thou shalt have children, * whom thou mayest make princes in all lands.
17 I will make thy Name to be remembered from one generation to another; * therefore shall the people give thanks unto thee, world without end.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Jean Arthur TV Movie Alert Service Bulletin
A Twofer tonight on TCM: The More the Merrier at 5:00 p.m. PDT followed immediately by Talk of the Town. As a double feature, the films should be shown the other way round. Talk of the Town is good fun on its own but it can't quite live up to the romantic and comedic delight that is The More the Merrier. I suspect first time viewers will be somewhat disappointed coming to it directly after the brilliance of TMTM.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Some Piping for the Weekend
The Irish Pipers Pipe Band of San Francisco are playing their medley at the Pleasanton Games three years ago. They start off with "The Strutting Hornpipe". (The announcer gives the rest of the tune names but that one didn't quite make the clip. He doesn't actually give them all that accurately to be sure: the slow air he calls "boogaloo" should be "Boolavogue". Sheesh.) This is their Grade III band - they have a Grade V band now, too. Their music is always a delight.
St George for England
It's the feast of St George, the patron of England. There's no English blood that I know of coursing through these veins, but for better or worse, this civilization is of English origin, the only literature I have any real acquaintance with is English, and the only language I speak with any felicity at all is English. Whenever the form asks if I have any other languages, I usually put down "Latin" with the parlous hope that no one will call me on it. Six and half years of classes ought to count for something, but it slips away so fast. I took a course in Irish for a couple of years and got relatively good at coming up with simple sentences. I had three years of Russian and got so I could converse slowly and haltingly with fellow students who also spoke slowly and haltingly and had mercifully limited vocabularies. Two years of German in which I got remarkably good grades by sitting in the back of the classroom reading novels - the one I remember to this day wasn't really a novel but Betty MacDonald's The Egg and I which was made into a movie with the divine Claudette Colbert - and then memorized the vocabulary at home and plugged it into Latin grammar. There was a year of Spanish: Deseo comida! Deseo dos hamburgesas, con lechuga y salsa de tomate! The cultural immersion was not deep. There was also the semester of Greek which seems to have left no abiding impression at all.
Where was I?
Oh, yes. St George. There's a pageant for St George in London today, the first in 425 years. The Beeb has a story on it here but there seems to be no video and only one picture. And a festival of English folk song that seems to be related. For something on the holy martyr himself, there is always the old Catholic Encyclopædia which has a longish article here. Unfortunately it's by the ever-grumpy Fr Thurston still confident in his belief that all our ancestors were liars. But he does relate the stories. You can take his opinions or leave them as you wish.
And what would St George's Day be without the roast beef of old England?
Recommendation: ignore verses 5 and 6. Instead, sing verses 3 and 4 again very loudly in their place.
ADDENDUM: For a much nicer view of St George, this one from the viewpoint of the Eastern Church, take a look at The Irenikon here.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Today is the feast of St Anselm of Canterbury, whom you probably already know about. Sure, you do. From that History of Philosophy course? The fella with the ontological proof for the existence of God? (It didn't seem all that logical to me either, but what do I know. I don't entirely understand how the infield fly rule works either.) Well, for those who really don't remember, the good old Catholic Encyclopæda can fill you in here.
On the other hand, you probably don't know much about St Maelrubha (642-722), whose feast day also falls on the 21st of April. So, herewith from Mrs D'Arcy's very useful The Saints of Ireland:
What Colmcille and Moluag accomplished in ancient Scotland in the sixth century, Maelrubha rivalled in the seventh with a final great flowering of the Celtic Church before the Vikings. Maelrubha was of princely Niall lineage on his father's side, and through his mother was of Comgall's race of Irish Picts. He went to the monastery Comgall had founded for his education to the priesthood. His mission base at Applcecross, like Moluag's, was an offshoot of Bangor.
The saint's Applecross brethren ranged widely over both Pictland and Scottish Dalriada, and Maelrubha's name is recorded in place names scattered over the length and breadth of Scotland. He won great fresh extensions of the Celtic territory, all of the rugged, almost inaccessible western seaboard between Loch Carron and Loch Broom, the south and west parts of the Island of Skye and eastern Ross. Twenty-one known parishes were dedicated to Maelrubha under such forms of his name as Maree, Mulruby, Mary, Murry, Summuruff, Summereve. For fifty years he tramped the high roads and the low roads with such a reputation for sanctity and miracles he was regarded as the patron saint throughout all of that territory.
To the north of Applecross in the long narrow scenic Loch Maree is Maelrubha's little island, Inis Maree, "the favored isle of the saint." On it besides his oratory and a cemetery was his holy well, a spring "of power unspeakable" in cases of insanity. It was famous until very recent times for the cures obtained there. He is still invoked for mental illness in Scotland.
Scottish legend makes Maelrubha a martyr at the hands of Norse pirates and the parish church at Urquhart is said to occupy the site of the chapel first built to mark the spot where he died. A mound outside Applecross, Cloadh Maree, is pointed out as his grave. Within a radius of six miles of this the area was accorded all the rights and privileges of sanctuary.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Odds and Ends
In the event posterity wants to know what I've been up to.
I missed the traditional Mass on Sunday. No excuse, Sir. Just plain overslept. We had our OCDS meeting that day so I couldn't go to St Therese at 1:00 p.m. and I slept right through the 7:00 a.m. in Yorba Linda. The resulting Novus Ordo was not dreadful. Not ideal and very disappointing compared to the traditional rite. But not dreadful. In fact Fr Ed gave a half hour stem-winder defending the Holy Father against the Diabolical American press. Sort of made it all worth-while.
Monday I played for the opening of a charity golf tournament in the valley. Fortunately, payment does not depend upon the amount of playing I actually do:
+Arise early and get kitted out.
+Do a little preliminary tuning.
+Drive for an hour and a half.
+Arrive and do final tuning; chanter reed has committed suicide during drive; F is flat by several cllicks. Incontrovertibly and irreparably flat. VERY flat.
+Remember Kintail pipes are in trunk of car.
+Say short prayer; test pipe; reeds are singing; all is well.
+Change from brace/boot to ghillie brogue.
+Spend 15 minutes looking for contact person.
+Find contact person; limp to waiting room.
+Spend 45 minutes in waiting room waiting. With foot up.
+Time to go on; test tuning; pipes are solid.
+Play for maybe 5 minutes, probably less (Scotland the Brave, Rowan Tree, and Flowers of the Forest for the fellow who died in whose honour the tourney is held.)
+Drive home for an hour and a half.
And that was Monday.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Oremus pro beatissimo papa nostro Benedicto
Amid the anti-Catholic sentiment in the media of today, please express your fidelity to the Vicar of Christ on earth in this hour when he is unjustly attacked. Pray for our beloved Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that God may continue to grant him an abundance of spiritual wisdom and strength to guide the Barque of Peter through the difficult waters of our times.
A spiritual bouquet for the Holy Father sponsored by the Institute of Christ the King. A much more useful idea than just swearing at the loathsome Times, flinging it across the kitchen and just missing the tea kettle by inches.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
This essay is a delight so I have cranked up the scanner. It's from this week's Wanderer, which does have a website - you can find the front page here - but I don't know how to cite to the page that it's on. (If you'd all get a subscription, it'd save a world of bother. You know how much trouble I have with that scanner.) The title is "A Prescription for the Health Care Crisis". But ignore that. It's not another moan'n'groan about the Obama health thingummy. It's about putting first things first, which things may not be what you think. This piece reminds me how much I still owe to Walter Kerr's The Decline of Pleasure. And Josef Pieper's book on Leisure, the actual name of which I've forgotten.
A Prescription For The Health Care Crisis
By John Dejak
One of my law professors once quipped — rightly, to my mind — that “the Constitution is dead.” Thus, the flurry of commentary regarding the much-touted “Obamacare” and the procedural maneuverings for its enactment as cutting to the very core of our constitutional system — while correct — is a mere symptom of the disease that has been raging for all of human history: the preference and focus on the temporal rather than the eternal. So far, I have said nothing noteworthy. This is not to suggest that intelligent commentary and commonsense activism are not important. Yet, the question arises: What ought we to do in the face of this continued diminution of our freedom and continued encroachment by the smart guys in government? Shouldn’t we primarily turn ourselves to the practical duties of politics and activism toward a restoration of our Constitution?
I answer that we should all have a beer and read Chaucer.
One of the great Jesuits of our day, Fr. Paul Mankowski, spoke of this very topic at the 30th Anniversary of Thomas Aquinas College in Ojai, Calif. He put the issue thusly: “Isn’t it obvious that, in a time of national crisis, pursuits such as philosophy and theology and the other abstract disciplines are a grotesquely irresponsible self-indulgence, that we should put aside these mind-games and apply ourselves to the practical tasks that face us? Or, even if we should decide to linger in the academy, doesn’t common sense tell us that it is metallurgy, not metaphysics, by which we do our part?”
Indeed this is the common query of well-meaning citizens everywhere. To be sure, we must be concerned with the issues of the day and not be cavalier about the significant acts of our politicians and elected officials. But a far more effective and defiant posture is to admit of the insignificance of politicians and elected officials. One can do this precisely by pursuing such things as philosophy and theology in a time of national crisis.
George Weigel, in his biography of John Paul II, Witness to Hope, demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach in the life of the young Karol Wojtyla.
In what Weigel calls a “metaphor for his life,” he recounts a rather harrowing time for Wojtyla during World War II. The future Pope was a member of a resistance group that practiced cultural resistance to the ruling Nazi threat. On one occasion, as the group met clandestinely to read the great and heroic literature of the Polish people, a megaphone-laden truck traveled the streets of Krakow announcing the latest Nazi victories. At the time, Wojtyla was reading selections from the great Pan Tadeusz, when the truck announcing the victories passed the home. The other members of the gathering were fearful of discovery and the fate that would await them if discovered. The truck passed the house and the din of the announcement of Nazi victories overwhelmed the voice of the future Pope. Yet, Wojtyla kept speaking. He did not waver. He did not look up. He kept speaking — reciting the poetry that for years had spoken to the soul of the Polish people and to the greatest aspirations of the human spirit.
Around the same time that Karol Wojtyla was making his stand, C.S. Lewis delivered a lecture to students entitled “Learning in War-Time.” In this lecture, which inspired Fr. Mankowski’s address to the students of Thomas Aquinas College, Lewis answers the question that Mankowski proposes and that faces us today.
He says: “Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself…if men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun.” Men are different from other species, he said, in that “they propound mathematical theorems in beleaguered cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on scaffolds, discuss the latest new poem while advancing to the walls of Quebec, and comb their hair at Thermopylae.”
Fr. Mankowski calls this “defiant detachment.” It is not only an attitude, it is an action. It is not passive, it is active. It is pursuing that which most pertains to the end for which man was made. This is our duty in life whether we live in a peaceful society or whether we live behind an iron curtain or in an iron lung.
Let us take up that cause, fighting in the realm of the practical to be sure; but, even more important, practicing the same “defiant detachment” of Lewis and Wojtyla.
Fr. Mankowski concludes his address with these words: “Because his holy defiance rests on a deeper obedience, because he knows, as Socrates knew, that no ultimate harm can befall him, the just man is made free of the world. Baseball has its place. Banquets have their place. Jests can be made on a scaffold. He can read Dante while under a bombardment and Ezekiel in a Dodgers’ bullpen. And even when the civilization that nursed him seems to be dissolving before his eyes, he can give himself cheerfully to Padre Pio and Weird Al Yankovic and Semitic philology.”
I would add to that, beer and Chaucer.
And I would add to that a rollicking reel on a good-sounding bagpipe. And a smooth strathspey setting step.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Seamus Heaney's Birthday
When I looked down from the bridge
Trout were flipping the sky
Into smithereens, the stones
Of the wall warmed me.
Wading green stems, lugs of leaf
That untangle and bruise
(Their tiny gushers of juice)
My toecaps sparkle now
Over the soft fontanel
Of Ireland. I should wear
Hide shoes, the hair next my skin,
For walking this ground:
Wasn't there a spa-well,
Its coping grassy, pendent?
And then the spring issuing
Right across the tarmac.
I'm out to find that village,
Its low sills fragrant
With ladysmock and celandine,
Marshlights in the summer dark.
Due by the end of the week. Late, as usual. Am spending the day in mad rush to finish same.
Except that I'm not. Not right at this exact moment, am I. I am, in fact, messing about with The Inn. But I will be shortly. You can't spend the day with Form 1040, Schedule C without a break, now can you. The brain will turn to jello.
But I'll be back at it in just a moment. Yessir, any second now.
I wonder if Hilary's posted anything new?
Monday, April 12, 2010
The Puzzles of Antiquity
It took a long time before I could cotton to the Miserere, the 50th or 51st psalm depending upon your translation of choice. It's that bit about "in sin hath my mother conceived me". Well. If they're going to go about insulting my mother on no evidence whatsoever. . . .
It took a long time to realize that it's not about my mother, it's about me. Original sin. My original sin. Oh, yeah, well sure, me. Long as you leave mom out of it.
Which came to mind when I ran across this the other day in an old number of The Spectator:
I love the psalms and read one every night. Many of their first lines come into my head with accompaniment from one of the great English church music composers – “Like as the hart”. . .”O clap your hands.” For someone brought up on them and hearing the psalms spoken or sung in an English Cathedral week in, week out, it is the sudden wonderful images that leap out and both delight and intrigue. “I will shew my dark speech upon the harp.” “Why hop ye so, ye high hills?” But in reading one book, you learn about another, so that it was from the author Robertson Davies that I discovered this week the meaning of “I am as a bottle in the smoke”, which has puzzled me for years. It does not mean a glass bottle but a goatskin used for wine, which has been blown up and hung over a fire until it is dried hard. You learn something every day.
The Spectator, 6 Feb 2010, "Diary" - Susan Hill
Maybe some day I'll find out why Moab is my washpot. The context says it's supposed to be an insult. But as insults go, rather odd.
Friday the 13th. . . .
. . . .comes on a Monday this month.
As always, don't walk under any black cats or allow a ladder to cross your path. And whatever you do, don't be supersitious. It's very bad luck to be superstitious.
Addendum: TUESDAY. That's right, Tuesday. I meant Tuesday.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Taken From a Sitting Position
That's me, my podiatric boot, and one ghillie brogue. It was taken last night at The Plighted Troth Ball from, as the headline proclaims, a sitting position. Because I was not dancing. Again.
This is very annoying. The music was outstanding. And there was I, hobbling about instead of walking. And not dancing. It was like going on a diet and spending the evening in a bakery. I played for the grand march to open the evening, which went fairly well. Except it was a bit fast once I got into Mairi's Wedding. Gotta learn to slow down when MW is a march instead of a reel. Coulda been worse. I haven't practiced enough lately. To do that it's best to stand and walk about. Not my strong suit at the moment.
So if I'm going to grump about it, why do I go? Because the music is still wonderful and it's better being there than not being there. It brings to mind the lyrics of the old tune St Anne's Reel:
There's magic in the fiddler's arm, there's magic in this town,
There's magic in the dancers' feet and the way they put them down;
Smiling people everywhere, boots and ribbons, locks of hair,
Laughter, old blue suits and Easter gowns.
Perhaps kilts instead of old blue suits, but otherwise, spot on.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Some Piping for the Weekend
This is the St Columcille Pipe Band from Arklow playing their medley in the Leinster Championships of 2007. They were in Grade III then and have moved up to Grade II now. I didn't recognize a single tune (except maybe the strathspey, although I have no idea the name) but a very enjoyable medley. A nice sprightly set of tunes, nice tempos on well-tuned pipes.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
The New Kid on the Block
You may have noticed - if you're on-line you could hardly avoid it - that we have a new Archbishop here in the lower left hand corner of the U.S. Things are looking up. The description in Whispers sounds very promising. Some of the folks involved with the traditional Mass in San Antonio had good things to say. (Where did I find that? I've lost the link; you'll have to trust me.) And the Rector of the Our Lady of the Atonement, the Anglican Use parish in the Archdiocese, also had very good things to say. And most promising of all, The Ghastly Times after barely learning his name, doesn't like him at all. He must be wonderful.
Monday, April 05, 2010
I should have said something about Easter. In fact, I meant to but the logistics didn't work out. The Blessed Cardinal Schuster has an interesting short chapter on medieval liturgical customs for Eastertime -- but I can't easily use the scanner and it's too long to type out. For once the scanner is working just fine but I have to lean over to the far end of the desk to use the scanner and my bum foot makes it a dicey proposition. So maybe next year.
Politics - Semper Idem
Came across this in The Spectator of a couple of weeks ago. Peter Jones in his "Ancient and Modern" column has something to say about ancient Roman custom and the modern spectacle of a pair of M.P.s offering their political selves for sale.
The Latin for 'electioneering' was ambitio, and its cognate ambitus meant 'bribery'. Since vote-winning was an honourable pastime, bribery did not mean corruption. It meant doing favours by offering gifts for something in return, which could (at a pinch) be seen to be in the public interest. Such a culture was at the heart of all relationships, social, political, legal and business, in the Roman world. The general public also played the game, getting to the head of the queue by greasing palms. The emperor Caracalla (A.D. 198-217) offered sound advice to officials here: do not take 'everything, nor every time, nor from every one.'
Earmarks, pork, sweetheart deals, log-rolling, junkets and expense padding. Who says no one majors in classics anymore?
Friday, April 02, 2010
Lovely pictures at New Liturgical Movement: Spanish altars of repose, some Roman altars of repose, many pictures of the Holy Father celebrating the Good Friday liturgy.
From Recta Ratio: the full text of St Alphonsus's Way of the Cross.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Now that I can't get to them. . . .
. . .there are services for at least some of the sacred triduum in the traditional rite available here in the Archdiocese. They will be held at St John Chrysostom in Inglewood. Una Voce Los Angeles has the particulars here.
And even if the postman did ring. . . .
. . . .I wouldn't be able to get there in time. I've been wearing one of these little marvels since yesterday.
Since the foot hasn't been healing the way it ought, I had enriched platelet injections Wednesday morning. (That's what he called them. This is what the occasionally accurate Wikipedia has to say about it. Yes, I did too understand it. Some of it.)
I'm supposed to stay off the foot and keep it elevated for the next, oh, eleven years. Or maybe that was three days. It seems longer when you actually have to do it than it did in theory. And don't even think about a three-beat pas de basque or a strathspey travelling step. I wonder how far that is in the future? I suppose I should've asked. Well, just because I can't do it, here are some people who can. This is a demonstration group at somebody's Burns Supper dancing "Best Set in the Hall" to a musical arrangement that took some getting used to (I could still do without the slightly annoying quasi-disco drummer and the - what would you call it? - Arabian oboe?) In any event, the dance is tremendous fun; the crossings to the corner in back of you are untraditional(!) and counter-intuitive and exciting for that reason.
On the plus side, I do get waited on when herself is around. Otherwise it has put a crimp in the interminable cups of tea that are the essential accompaniment to reading Gilbert (or Chronicles, The Remnant, P.G. Wodehouse, or fiddling around with the PC and its brand new replacement hard drive.)
The Postman Never Rings At All
Well, the doorbell's been broken for several years now; he couldn't if he wanted to. But he does still bring the mail and yesterday he brought the latest number of Gilbert. In which, you can find a citation to this article in the Catholic Herald about Aiden Mackey, the great Chesterton enthusiast. I originally wrote "scholar" rather than "enthusiast"; but scholar doesn't convey what a delight Mr Mackey is. Click the link; it's well worth a read.