Tuesday, December 31, 2002

I wish I could write like that

When I wrote that headline I was only thinking of this article in the Washington Post by Gene Weingarten. He writes of his 88 year old father who has one of the more unusual ailments going. But now that I think about it, the headline also needs to refer to Nancy Nall who mentioned the article in the first place. Go and read both. As Nancy says, "because Weingarten's a masterful writer, he manages to make it funny and touching at the same time." And because Nancy is a masterful writer also, read hers too.

New Year’s Eve

Another selection from Kevin Danaher’s “The Year in Ireland: Irish Calendar Customs”. This excerpt tells of the beliefs of the country people about New Year’s Eve.

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“New Year’s Eve and Day 31 December – 1 January never seem to have been major festivals in Ireland. The first of January was not counted as New Year’s Day until so designated by law in the new calendar of 1751, little over two centuries ago. Up to that time the legal year began in Ireland, as in England, on 25 March, while the country people still reckoned their working year as beginning on the first day of spring, 1 February.

“In Scotland, however, where Roman custom had long prevailed, 1 January traditionally began the year and thus was of much importance in popular celebration; a Scottish origin for some of the custom associated with the day in Ireland might thus be sought.

“Divination of the future was common on New Year’s Eve, especially, the forecasting of weather conditions for the whole of the coming year. Wind, sun, rain, snow, floods and all local weather signs were read and interpreted. Such omens often indicated much more than mere weather. In west County Kerry for instance, the direction of the wind indicated the trend of politics in the coming year; if it blew from the West the Irish cause would flourish, while an east wind foretold that the English interest would prevail.

“Indeed, almost anything which happened on New Year’s Eve and Day might be ominous of the future, and the nearer to the midnight hour when the year actually began, the more significant. A very popular belief held that the first person or creature to enter the house after midnight should be black or black-haired and also male to be lucky. To ensure their luck, many households sent out a suitably endowed member or friend before midnight to perform this office of lucky ‘first footing’ immediately after midnight. Others trusted to chance for their lucky first footing and were happy when their first visitor was a black cat or a dark haired boy. And since the latter was sure to be given a little present, small boys took advantage of the custom to get sweets or money at the neighbours’ houses.

“On New Year’s Eve, girls put holly and ivy leaves, or a sprig of mistletoe under their pillows to bring dreams of their future husbands. One of the charms said was:

“‘Oh, ivy green and holly red
Tell me, whom I shall wed’

“New Year’s Eve was known as Oiche na Coda Móire (the night of the big portion) because of the belief that eating a very large supper on that night ensured food in plenty for the coming year. A further ceremony to banish hunger and ensure plenty was fairly widespread. Crofton Croker (Researches in the South of Ireland, 233) describes it thus, while casting doubt on its efficacy:

“‘On the last night of the year, a cake is thrown against the outside door of each house by the head of the family, which ceremony is said to keep out hunger during the ensuing one; and the many thousand practical illustrations of the fallacy of this artifice have not yet succeeded in producing conviction of the same.’

“Nicholas O’Kearney, some twenty years later, sees evidence of heathenish practice in it (Trans. Kilkenny Archaeological Society: 1849-51, 146-7):

“‘There is one custom which I found practiced by a family moving in a very respectable sphere, and which I am informed was not long ago, probably still is, practiced in the County of Kilkenny, and to which I wish to call your attention, because it appears to me to savour of Paganism of the rankest kind. On the eve of the Twelfth day a large loaf called the “Christmas Loaf” which is usually baked some days previously, is laid with great solemnity on the table; the doors and windows are closed and strongly bolted; and the one of the family generally the housewife, then takes the loaf, and pounding it against the closed doors, etc. repeats three times, in Irish the following Rann:

“Fógramuid an Ghorta,
Amach go tír na d-Turcach;
O nocht go bliadhain ó nocht,
Agus ó nocht féin amach.

“(We warn famine to retire
To the country of the Turks;
From this night to this night twelvemonth,
And even this very night.)

“In County Kildare, ‘Omurethi’ is content to record the custom without comment (Kildare Archaeological Journal, v, 440-1):

“‘It was customary on the New Year’s Eve to bake a large barmbrack, which the man of the house, after taking three bites out of it dashed against the principal door of his dwelling, in the name of the Trinity at the same expressing the hope that starvation might be banished from Ireland and go to the King of the Turks. The fragments of the cake were then gathered up and eaten by all the members of the household.’

“In west County Limerick the ceremony was similar; the cake was rapped upon the door with the words:

“An donas amach
A’s an sonas isteach
O’ anocht go dtí bliain ó anocht
In ainm an Athar a’s an Mhic, a’s an Spirid Naoimh, Amen.

“(Happiness in and misfortune out
from this night
Until a year from to-night.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.)

“Many farmers repeated the ceremony at the door of the byre, to ensure plentiful fodder for the cows.

“In some households the cake was tossed out through the doorway, to be caught by a person stationed outside. The invocation of the Trinity was usual in this as in so many other customs, which, incidentally leads to speculation as to the degree of deafness of the smeller-out of heathenism quoted above.

“People tried to ensure that no food was taken away from the house on New Year’s Eve, and even shameless beggars hesitated to ask for ‘loan’ of foodstuffs, and not entirely because of the fear of the householder’s resentment.

“From Rathlin Island, County Antrim comes word of a traditional ceremony which appears to be purely Scottish. A party of young men went about from house to house collecting oatmeal and money to help poor widows and other needy persons in the community. The leader wore a sheepskin tied about his neck and hanging down behind. On coming into the house he took a glowing turf sod from the fire and laid in the middle of the floor, and he and his men marched around this, reciting an Irish verse while the second man in the line held up the end of the sheepskin and beat upon it with a stick. One man carried a bag to hold the gifts of meal, on receipt of which the leader cut a lock of wool from his sheepskin and having singed it over the red coal presented it to each member of the household to smell. The party then left for the next house, announcing their progress by blowing on horns. Another northern custom was the carrying about from door to door by children of a bundle of straw from which they presented wisps to the householders who were supposed to reciprocate with little gifts of money.

“The welcoming of the New Year at midnight on 31 December by the ringing of church bells, band parades, fireworks, bonfires and general well-wishing has, over the past century or so, spread in Ireland form the larger to the smaller towns and villages, where it is usually now observed in this fashion.

“When passing a graveyard on New Year’s Eve or Day a prayer should be said for all those who died during the year.”

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Not a bad plan, that last custom, whether or no you’re passing a graveyard.

A very happy new year to all visitors to The Inn at the End of the World.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Nova Vulgata

Via a reference in Summa Minutiae, I see that the entire Nova Vulgata is on line at the Vatican website. This is a wonderful reference source.

I only wish it had notes to explain some of its changes. Why, for instance, use the Massoretic text numbering of the Psalms instead of the Septuagint? Not an insurmountable obstacle. I've coped with it in the RSV and I can do so in the Nova Vulgata, also. But what's the rationale?

And why some of the new translations? What did they learn that wasn't known before? In the De Profundis - Ps. 130 here, rather than Ps 129 - it reads "4 Quia apud te propitiatio est, ut timeamus te." Which changes the tense of the prior version of the Nova Vulgata ". . .ut timebimus te." Which isn't anything like the "Et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine" of St. Jerome. Which doesn't bear much resemblance to the Pius XII psalter's "4. Sed penes te est peccatorum venia, Ut cum reverentia serviatur tibi."

Why the hopping from one version to the next? The Praefatio gives a nice over view, but specific notes would be nice.

[Addendum. I am wondering if I should leave this on the blog. It gives a very inflated impression of my skill at Latin. I am very much a plodder and I don't get very far without a dictionary. This is the Truth-in-Advertising Disclaimer.]

Sunday, December 29, 2002


I wanted to get a Messiah recording on cd this Christmas. The turntable shuffled off its mortal coil and joined the choirs invisible some 5 years ago. So my 12 inch vinyl discs of Messiah have been functioning exclusively as dust-catchers. I was looking for the Colin Davis recording but couldn’t find it. (Yes, I’ve heard of Amazon.com But I decided on the 24th that I wanted it for Christmas day.) On someone else’s recommendation, I substituted the Andrew Davis version. All-in-all a happy recommendation.

This version uses what I think are called in the trade “augmented resources”, i.e., full symphony orchestra (The Toronto Symphony) and a choir the size of a small town. Not really what I was originally looking for. But it is a very good recording. In spite of the huge orchestra, there is still a baroque “feel” to the interpretation. The tenor – John Aler – I had not heard of before. He does a superb job. He has a rich, full tenor and his embellishments of the score are perfect. The soprano is Kathleen Battle, whom I am usually not a fan of. She often comes across as a bit too formal and cold for my taste. But on this cd there is none of that coldness. A glorious interpretation. Florence Quivar I did not know and is a pleasant surprise. The bass Samuel Ramey seems to be on half the Met broadcasts on Saturday and is very much a known-quantity. I expected good things and he delivered. A good, dramatic interpretation.

If you are looking for a Messiah recording, I forward the original recommendation on to you.

Floreant Left Coast Bloggers

Three weeks ago or so I mentioned that I could find only three left coast bloggers of the Catholic persuasion. A few more have been pointed out to me since, most recently Michelle of And Then? mentioned Molly’s Musings who, like Michelle, is in San Diego.

So. As of the feast of the holy and blissful martyr, St. Thomas á Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury in the year of our Lord 2002, the roster of left coast Catholic bloggers reads - in alphabetical order - as follows:

And Then?
Catholic and Enjoying It
El Camino Real
Lex Communis
Molly’s Musings
One Pilgrim’s Walk
and “The Inn at the End of the World” -- but you already know how to get here.

30DEC2002 - 11:12 a.m. PST: This just in: Peter Sean Bradley of "Lex Communis" points out another member
of our happy band: Between Heaven and Hell. . .
That makes 8 of us.

Another trend: At least 3 of the 8 are California attorneys.


. . . . .
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sundry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blissful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
--from the Prologue to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales

Today is a Sunday and the feast celebrated liturgically is either the “Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity” in the traditional Roman Rite of Bl. Pope John XXIII or the “Feast of the Holy Family” in the Pauline Rite.
Were it not a Sunday, on the 29th day of December we would celebrate the feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury – Thomas á Becket. The feast of the great martyr and patron of England was at one time classed as a double, and in England was a double of the first class with its own octave. These days he has been reduced to a commemoration.

St. Thomas was “born in 1118 of a merchant family. He studied in London and Paris, entered the service of Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, became lord chancellor under King Henry II in 1155, and in 1162 archbishop of Canterbury. Till then a submissive courtier, he now initiated a fearless struggle against the king for the freedom of the Church and the inviolability of ecclesiastical property, occasioning his imprisonment, exile, and finally martyrdom (December 29, 1170). Canonization came quickly (1173); in 1539 King Henry VIII ordered his remains burned.” [Parsch, The Church’s Year of Grace]

A more comprehensive biography can be found here.

An eyewitness account of St. Thomas’ martyrdom can be found here.

What happened to St. Thomas?
There have long been stories that St. Thomas’ relics were not in fact burned by Henry’s men but rather that the monks, knowing of the royal decrees, had substituted other bones for Thomas’s and secretly buried the saint’s. The evidence doesn’t, alas, seem too compelling to me. But since I love that kind of stuff, I pass along a citation to those of you who do, too.

If you have some time, I would also suggest Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson’s “The Holy Blissful Martyr St. Thomas á Becket”. A good read and only a little over 100 pages in the Neumann Press edition.

Introit: Rejoice we all in the Lord, keeping holy-day in honor of blessed Thomas the Martyr: in whose solemnity the Angels rejoice and glorify the Son of God. Ps. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for it becometh well the just to be thankful.

Collect: O GOD, who for thy Church’s sake didst suffer the glorious Bishop Thomas to fall by the swords of wicked men: grant, we beseech thee; that those who call on him for succour may obtain the fulfillment of all their petitions. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

A Child of the Snows

There is heard a hymn when the panes are dim,
And never before or again,
When the nights are strong with a darkness long,
And the dark is alive with rain.

Never we know but in sleet and in snow,
The place where the great fires are,
That the midst of the earth is a raging mirth
And the heart of the earth a star.

And at night we win to the ancient inn
Where the child in the frost is furled,
We follow the feet where all souls meet
At the inn at the end of the world.

The gods lie dead where the leaves lie red,
For the flame of the sun is flown,
The gods lie cold where the leaves lie gold,
And a Child comes forth alone.

- G.K. Chesterton

The Neighbours

My wife and I went for our Christmas Eve walk around our part of town to look at all the Christmas lights and decorations. Some people are very creative, some just put out as many lights as they can find room for, some are modest and "tasteful". All of them celebrate Christmas and are wonderful.

The neighbours here in St. Blog's have their Christmas finery out, too.

Ad Orientem, as usual, has some interesting things you won't find else where. Look for his links to Apollo 8 Christmas Eve broadcasts.

Gerard at A Catholic Blog for Lovers has some lovely passages, including some poetry, especially note the one from the Carmelite, Jessica Powers.

"Davey's Mommy" at Chirp links to a New York Daily News story: "The homeless men and women who gathered in the cold, wearing dark woolen hats and soiled clothes, bore little resemblance to Santa, but they presented a Christmas gift anyway Tuesday, and to a most unlikely recipient — a police officer."

One lovely blog, fairly new to me, called One Pilgrim's Walk, has a fascinating essay on the star of Bethlehem. And NORAD has its eye on Santa.

Quenta Narwenion (sorry I can't make the proper diacritical marks come up) has some good things from St. Philip Neri, the Venerable Cardinal Newman, G. K. Chesterton, and much else.

At Oblique House you can read of one family's preparation for Christmas. I wish I could make that description sound as interesting as Ellyn's writing is.

John Betjeman's Christmas is on view on Mystique et Politique.

And "Elinor Dashwood", a.k.a. Mrs. Cacciaguida, will teach you to make a good Christmas punch with the magnificent name of "Smoking Bishop". Visit her Mommentary blog site.

A reference for a good Anglo-Catholic Christmas sermon, this time from Dr. Pusey, can be found at Little Gidding.

And finally, over at Pompous Ponderings you can find out even before they do what Dave is getting his family for Christmas.

I have a few more favourites that I can't visit this Christmas Eve; the comment system "haloscan" is being cranky about loading tonight so any blog using it is prevented from loading except at a glacial pace. So this has been a shorter tour than originally intended.

If any readers are in the Orange County, California area this Christmas Day, there will be a beautiful Christmas Day Mass at noon at St. Mary's by the Sea, in the ancient Latin rite formulated by St. Gregory the Great and following the rubrics approved by the Blessed Pope John XXIII. You will be most welcome to attend.

And our thanks to Bishop Todd Brown, the Bishop of the Orange Diocese for continuing to provide the ancient rite for us who love it.

Merry Christmas.

Christmas Eve in Ireland - Part II

More from Kevin Danaher's "The Year in Ireland: Irish Calendar Customs"

"In many places three candles were lit in honor of the Holy Family. In Cork, in 1842, Mr and Mrs Hall (Ireland, 1, 25) noted a three-branched candle lit on Christmas Eve, 'without question to commemorate the Trinity', as they surmised, and allowed to burn until midnight. The custom of getting the youngest child - with help from an older person if necessary - to light the prncipal candle is widespread.

"If the prinicpal candle should be quenched without apparent reason before the proper time, this is a bad omen. This was noted by Mason in his Parochial Survey, in Shruel parish, County Longord:

"'A large candle is lighted on Christmas night, laid on a table, and suffered to burn out. If it should happen, by any means , to be extinguished; or more particularly, if it should (as has sometimes happened) go out without any visible cause, the unntoward circumstance would be considered a prognostic of the death of the head of the family.'

"The lighting of candles is usually explained as being done to show that Joseph and Mary, who found no room in the inn in Bethlehem, would be welcomed to the house. In many places the welcome was extended, thus:

"'On Christmas eve it was the custom in west Limerick, not only to leave the doors open and a candle burning in every window in the house, but in addition to leave a table set for three people 'to have a proper welcome before the Travellers to Bethlehem.' A dish of water was left on the window ledge to be blessed by the 'travellers' and then kept for curative purposes.'

"While in County Armagh we are told (Ulster Folklife, 1957, 11) 'On Christmas-eve you put on a good fire before you go to bed, sweep the floor, put bread on the table and keep a candle lit and the door unbarred.'

"Others held that such preparations were to welcome deceased members of the familiy returning to the old home on Christmas Eve. Some househholds lit a special candle for one of the family who had died since last Christmas. After dark, in many places, the children were taken to some hill or high point to see the whole landscape lit up by the candles in the windows.

"Christmas Eve was observed as a fast day. Many people took no food at all until the main meal, which consisted traditionally of stockfish, such as hake, cod or ling, with white sauce and potatoes.

"The fast, however, did not last until midnight, for soon after the candles were lit, and when all preparations had been completed, the celebration of Christmas proper began by the cutting of the rich Christmas cake and the production of tea, punch and other beverages. Sweets and apples were given to the children, and the whole familiy sat around the fire in high good humour until it was time for night prayers and bed. The holy character of the season was not forgotten; the children were told that an angel stood on every spike of the holly leaves, adoring the Divine Infant, and that no prayer was left unanswered on this night of all nights. Even to die at this time was blessed, because heaven was open to all on Christmas Eve.

"In Dublin city small wreaths of holly, yew or other evergreens are still sold just before Christmas. These are taken to the cemeteries and laid on family graves on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and especially on the grave of a relative who had died during the year.

"In mid-County Limerick the old German custom of firing a salute from shotguns at noon on Christmas Eve was kept up by the Palatines until recently; the present writer heard it being done in 1935, when the name 'Grussenschus' was still remembered by old people in the district.

"At midnight on Christmas Eve, according to a belief held in most parts of Ireland, the cows and donkeys kneel in adoration of the Christ Child, and at that moment, too, they have the gift of human speech. Nobody, however, should spy upon their devotions, much less speak to them at that sacred moment. They should, however, be shown every kindness, given a generous feed of sheaf corn or branmash, and many people decorated the byre and the stable with evergreens and lit a lantern there on Christmas Eve. Sometimes the children tied sprigs of holy to the cows' horns.

"The cock is overwhelmed with joy at Christmas and will crow at unusual times; to hear him crow at midnight was a particularly good omen.

"The weather on Christmas Eve was significant. Cold weather, with frost or snow was welcomed, as this indicated a mild spring and an absence of illness; 'A green Christmas makes a fat churchyard' says the proverb. When it snowed on Christmas Eve the children were told that geese were being plucked in heaven. And a new moon on Christmas Eve was a very lucky omen."

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Christmas Eve in Ireland – Part I

From Kevin Danaher’s “The Year in Ireland: Irish Calendar Customs” Mercier Press, Cork and Dublin (1972)

“Christmas, in Ireland, was very much a family festival, when sons and daughters who were working away from home were expected to return to spend at least a couple of days in their parents’ house. Christmas Eve was the usual time for this reunion, and the young men and women who were employed in towns or with farmers within reach of home finished their work by midday on the Eve, and made their way home before night-fall if possible. Usually they brought little presents to father and mother, and to younger brothers and sisters. Those who could not come were expected to write, and many a poor family looked forward to the ‘American letter’, which was sure to contain not only good wishes, but also a present of money, often a substantial one.

“Christmas Eve was spent mainly in the last preparations for the festival, in the final sweeping and cleaning and , especially in preparing the festive food for the next day’s dinner, traditionally the most plentiful and elaborate of the year.

“Roast or boiled beef seems to have been the most popular old-time Irish Christmas dish. This is remembered in the spiced beef which is still eaten at Christmas, although to a much less extent than formerly, in Dublin and other towns. The farmers as we have seen, made presents of meat to their workers and to the poor of the locality. Often this was corned beef from the animals killed at Martinmas. As meat was a rare luxury for the poor, these gifts were thus all the more welcome on festive occasions.

“Beef was still the main Christmas meat in many parts of Ulster until well within living memory; a boiled ox-head was, we are told, a favourite dish in Armagh, Tyrone, Monaghan and other parts of the north.

“Among the more prosperous farmers of Leinster and Munster the dinner usually included fowl – chicken or a goose – as well as bacon and mutton or beef and all of these, as well as cakes, puddings and pies, were made ready on Christmas Eve for the final cooking next day.

“’Cutlin pudding’ was made on Christmas Eve in County Wexford. First a thick porridge of wheaten meal was prepared, then sugar, dried fruits and spices were added, and the whole was made into a ball as big as, or bigger than, a football, and wrapped in a greased cloth ready for boiling.

“William Penn, passing through Cork at Christmas in 1669 (My Irish Journey, ed. I.Grub, 1952) remarked ‘December 25. Was Pie Day, none could be got to work.’ In the Ballyshannon area of County Donegal there is a tradition of ‘Christmas pies in the shape of cradles decorated with strips of pastry to represent the manger of Bethlehem.’

“In almost every part of Ireland the Christmas candles were lit at nightfall on Christmas eve, usually with some little ceremony or at least with a brief prayer. In west County Limerick it was done thus:

“’On the eve of Christmas, shortly after dark, the man of the house set in the principal windows large candles purchased in the town, fixing each one in a sconce made from a turnip or a piggin filled with bran or flour. One candle for the householder, one for his wife, and one each for the grandparents who lived with them. Little ones often put up tiny candles of their own, often coloured. A bit of holly set off each candle. Some households left the candles burn all night, putting them out on leaving the house before dawn for the first mass. But many careful households put them out before all retired to rest to avoid the danger of fire. One big candle was known as coinneal mor na Nollag. The candles were lit about six o’clock and the angelus was then said by the members of the household.’”

Continued later. . . . .

The Way We Lived Then: Christmas Dinner

“Then they all went to church, as a united family ought to do
on Christmas Day, and came home to a fine old English early
dinner at three o’clock, -- a sirloin of beef a foot-and-a-half
broad, a turkey as big as an ostrich, a plum pudding bigger than
the turkey, and two or three dozen mince-pies. “That’s a very
large bit of beef, “ said Mr. Jones, who had not lived much in
England latterly. “It won’t look so large, “said the old gentleman,
“when all our friends downstairs have had their say to it.”
“A plum-pudding on Christmas Day can’t be too big,” he said
again, “if the cook will but take time enough over it. I never
knew a bit go to waste yet.”
- Anthony Trollope, Christmas at Thompson Hall

The Great Christmas Tree

“There were the exciting great Christmas Tree parties. The highest tree recorded was under the Dome at Castle Howard, 24 feet high. . . .My most constant memory is of the Naworth trees, twenty to twenty-three feet high. My mother was the moving spirit in all this. She bought vast quantities of toys for every boy and girl in every school on the estate and in Brampton. It was not ‘one toy per child’ but lashings over to give a reasonable choice. They ranged from good concertinas to mouth organs; books to tin soldiers; paints, painting books, stories, tea-sets, tops, whips, hoops, skipping ropes, dolls, doll’s beds made by ‘Hop o’ my Thumb; (John Hope, beloved joiner). My mother was in the midst of it all - hanging coloured glass balls in all shapes and sizes, and threading heavy red apples and oranges to weigh down the spruce branches. Our six boys, and the Bulkeley five (of Lanercost vicarage) took their share in creating the trees. Threaders hung apples and balls on rods. Hangers placed them on the tree. Artistic helpers made things: gold paper ships and stars. Needlewomen dressed dolls and upholstered cradles. We were an army of family, maids, governesses, vicar’s wife, coachman’s wife – anyone who likes a party came to sew, to gum gold and silver paper into massive chains, to decorate, and to place the scores of candles on the tree. From early days I claimed it was my privilege to dress the Fairy for the tree top.”
- Dorothy Henley: Rosalind Howard: Countess of Carlisle

[Castle Howard played the part of "Brideshead" in the television series Brideshead Revisited.]

Last Chance

for Christmas confession is today also. Since many parishes have extended hours for confessions
today, here is a link to an easy discussion of the fundamentals of confession by one of the excellent
Dominicans who staff the Rosary Confraternity Center in Oregon.


If there is someone reading this who has just returned from several months seclusion on a
desert island, this is for you: It’s the Vigil of Christmas. Christmas Eve. You may discard
your calendar; you may now use your watch to count down the shopping days, uh,"day" before Christmas.

This used to be a fast and abstinence day. We will still have a fish supper tonight because we always
have. A very good reason to do almost anything good.

At the old morning office of Prime on this day the Martyrology reading would be the solemn
announcement of Christ’s birth. This is the description given by Pius Parsch:

“In some European monasteries the chanter, vested in alb and violet cope, steps into the middle of the choir, accompanied by ministers with candles and censer. He incenses the Martyrology on the violet-covered lectern, and after announcing the date begins to sing. All stand with heads uncovered, as at the Gospel. At the phrase, ‘in Bethlehem,’ all kneel; and at the words, ‘the birth of our Lord,’ all prostrate for the first adoration of the Son of God become Man. The passage begins with the fixation of the date according to the ancient computation.”

Gerard has the text of the proclamation on his website here.

Read it out loud, with appropriate pauses after each line. It’s a wonderful piece of liturgical drama.

Fruitcake Amnesty Program

Heartwarming is what it is, heartwarming. Bringing peace and good will into the world. Just when you thought violence and the dark side had triumphed, this appears. Minneapolis is having a fruitcake amnesty program. You can bring in your fruitcake - any caliber - with no questions asked and it will be exchanged for a loaf of streusel-topped apple-raisin-nut bread.

Monday, December 23, 2002

Santa Claus

Personally, of course, I believe in Santa Claus; but it is the season of forgiveness, and I will forgive others for not doing so.
-G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles [quoted in the December 2002 Gilbert!]

Writing on Horseback

Anthony Trollope would have been a more consistent blogger than I.

“Trollope told me that he was a great reader, omnivorous as regards old plays and other-day romances. However, unlike many bookworms, he was anything but a mere absorbent, for he was always giving out, always writing, and he could do it anywhere. Erasmus’s Encomium was composed on horseback, and Trollope did some of the chapters of Barchester Towers on the ‘knife-board’ of a ‘bus. Fecundity in itself is a distinction, and he told me that he had written more books than any Englishman that had ever lived, but that if Mrs. Oliphant (so much admired by Kinglake) survived him she would soon surpass him. There was none of the sterility of genius about my friend Anthony.”
-F. Locker Lampson, My Confidences, 1896


Someone asked me about hope and hopelessness today. The more I think about my answer, the more I think it was probably inadequate. It wasn’t for want of effort.

And now Steven at Flos Carmeli has been discussing “the essentials” in the way of spiritual reading. This gives me an entre into quoting from one of my favourites, the Barnabite Father Quadrupani’s “Light and Peace”. A very simple book and therefore appropriate for me. It is never far away.

A sample of his chapter on “Hope”:

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1. “Blessed is the man who hopes in the Lord” says the Holy Spirit. The weakness of our souls is often attributable to lukewarmness in regard to the Christian virtue of hope.

2. Hold fast to this great truth: he who hopes for nothing will obtain nothing; he who hopes for little will obtain little; he who hopes for all will obtain all things.

3. The mercy of God is infinitely greater than all the sins of the world. We should not, then, confine ourselves to a consideration of our own wretchedness, but rather turn our thoughts to the contemplation of this divine attribute of mercy.

4. “What do you fear?” says Saint Thomas of Villanoa: “this Judge whose condemnation you dread is the same Jesus Christ who died upon the Cross in order not to condemn you.”

5. Sorrow, not fear, is the sentiment our sins should awaken in us. When Saint Peter said to his divine Master; “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man, “ what did our Saviour reply? “Noli timere, -- fear not.” Saint Augustine remarks that in the Holy Scriptures we always find hope and love preferred to fear.

6. Our miseries form the throne of the divine mercy, we are told by Saint Francis de Sales, for if in the world there were neither sins to pardon, nor sorrows to soothe, nor maladies of the soul to heal, God would not have to exercise the most beautiful attribute of His divine essence. This was our Lord’s reason for saying that He came into the world not for the just but for sinners.

7. Assuredly our faults are displeasing to God, but He does not on their account cease to cherish our souls.

8. We have, says Saint Paul, a good and indulgent High-Priest who knows how to compassionate our weakness, Jesus Christ, who has been pleased to become at once our Brother and our Mediator.

9. Do not forfeit your peace of mind by wondering what destiny awaits you in eternity. Your future lot is in the hands of God, and it is much safer there than if in your own keeping.

10. The immoderate fear of hell, in the opinion of Saint Francis de Sales, can not be cured by arguments, but by submission and humility.

11. Hence it was that Saint Bernard, when tempted by the devil to a sin of despair retorted: “I have not merited heaven, I know that as well as you do, Satan; but I also know that Jesus Christ, my Saviour, has merited it for me. It was not for Himself that He purchased so many merits, -- but for me: He cedes them to me, and it is by Him and in Him that I shall save my soul.”

12. Far from allowing yourself to be dejected by fear and doubt, raise your desires rather to great virtues and to the most sublime perfection. God loves courageous souls, Saint Theresa assures us, provided they mistrust their own strength and place all their reliance upon Him. The devil tries to persuade you that it is pride to have exalted aspirations and to wish to imitate the virtues of the saints; but do not permit him to deceive you by this artifice. He will only laugh at you if he succeed in making you fall into weakness and irresolution.

To aspire to the noblest and highest ends gives firmness and perseverance to the soul.

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Yes, Light and Peace is a far cry from The Way of Perfection. But as I always seem to be starting over at the beginning, it speaks to my needs. Perhaps to yours. Take a look at the other works Steven lists. Excellent suggestions there.

(My copy of Quadrupani is some 20 years old. I think TAN still has it in their catalogue.)


This is the last of Bill East's commentaries on the "O" antiphons

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O Emmanuel (23rd December)

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum,
veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations, and their
Salvation: come and save us, O Lord our God.

'Emmanuel' derives from Isaiah 7:14,

'Ecce virgo concipiet, et pariet filium,
Et vocabitur nomen eius Emmanuel'

'Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
And his name shall be called Emmanuel.'

This is referred to the birth of Christ in St Matthew's Gospel:

'Hoc autem totum factum est,
ut adimpleretur quod dictum est a Domino per prophetam dicentam:
Ecco virgo in utero habebit, et pariet filium,
et vocabunt nomen eius Emmanuel,
quod est interpretatum Nobiscum Deus.'

'Now all this was done,
that it might be fulfilled which was said by the Lord through the prophet,
saying: Behold, a virgin shall have a son in her womb, and bear him,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel,
which is, being translated, God with us.' (Matthew 1:22-23).

Emmanuel, 'God with us', is perhaps the most important title in the

'Rex', 'King' is a title often applied to Christ in the New Testament,
e.g., at Matthew 2:2, 'Ubi est qui natus est rex Iudaeorum?' 'Where is
he that has been born King of the Jews?' Or the title placed on the cross:
'Hic est Iesus rex Iudaeorum' 'This is Jesus, King of the Jews' (Matthew

'Legifer', 'lawgiver' equates Jesus with Moses who gave the law to the
Israelites on Mount Sinai. Jesus is portrayed as giving a new law, e.g.
in his delivery of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. Or cf. John 13:34,
'Mandatum novum do vobis: ut diligatis invicem, sicut dilexi vos' -
'A new Commandment I give you, that you should love one another,
as I have loved you.' ['Mandatum' here gives us 'Maundy' as in Maundy
Thursday, the day of the Mandate].

'Exspectatio gentium' has already been mentioned with reference to 'O
Clavis David'. It derives from Genesis 49:10,

Non aufertur sceptrum de Iuda,
Et dux de femore eius,
Donec veniat qui mittendus est,
Et ipse erit expectatio gentium.

'The sceptre shall not be taken away from Judah,
nor the leader from his thigh,
until he comes who is to be sent,
and he will be the expectation of the nations.'

'Salvator', 'Saviour', is applied regularly in the OT to God, and equally
regularly in the NT to Jesus. The equation is made explicit in the last
words of our antiphon, 'veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster' -
'Come and save us, O Lord our God'.

In England, there was an eighth antiphon, 'O virgo virginum', 'O virgin of
virgins', applied to Mary; and example of English exuberance spoiling
the careful and spare patterning of the Roman liturgy. I shall not go into it
now, but rather wish all list-members a very happy Christmas, Hannukah,
Ramadan or whatever. I shall switch on again in the New Year.


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Sunday, December 22, 2002

Not happy with the new cathedral?

These folks have a solution. Of sorts.

They seem to be serious. There's no reference to "The Onion" that I can find.


Today is the feast of the 11th century Irish scholar, Marianus Scotus, called “The Chronicler”. His Irish name is Maelbrigte. Like so many Irish monks of his time, Marianus was missionary. He was ordained in Cologne and became a monk of the Abbey of Fulda which seems to have been an almost entirely Irish foundation in its origins. Marianus even claims St. Boniface to be of Irish descent

The liturgical celebration today is that of the 4th and last Sunday of Advent.


Another of Bill East’s exegeses of the Advent “O” antiphon. The signature
“Oriens” at the bottom of his explanation is, of course, his own name
“East” in Latin.

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O Rex Gentium (22nd December)

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

O King of the Nations, and their desire; the Corner-stone, who makest
both one; Come and save mankind, whom thou formedest of clay.

The key text here is Haggai 2:8, 'Et movebo omnes gentes, Et veniet
Desideratus cunctis gentibus' 'And I shall shake all nations, and the
Desired One will come to all nations.' Haggai is a prophet writing at the
time of of what is called the Restoration, that is, the return of the Jews
to the holy land after the exile in Babylon, the rebuilding of the temple
and the restoration of public and religious institutions. As Haggai
writes, these things do not yet amount to much, but he forsees a time
when the glory of the restored temple with exceed that of Solomon's
original building. Christians see this prophecy fulfilled in Christ.

The phrase 'Rex Gentium' I have not found exactly, but cf. Psalm 2:6-8,

Ego autem constitutus sum Rex ab eo
Super Sion, montem sanctum eius,
Praedicans praeceptum eius.
Dominus dixit ad me: Filius meus es tu;
Ego hodie genui te.
Postula a me, et dabo tibi gentes haereditatem tuam,
Et possessionem tuam terminos terrae.

'Yet have I set my King:
upon my holy hill of Sion.
I will preach the law, whereof the Lord hath said unto me:
Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
Desire of me, and I shall give thee the heathen [i.e. nations]
for thine inheritance:
and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.'

The corner-stone goes back ultimately to Isaiah 28:16,

Ecce ego mittam in fundamentis Sion lapidem,
Lapidem probatum,
Angularem, pretiosum, in fundamento fundatum;

'Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious
corner stone'

This is quoted at 1 Peter 2:6. St Paul at Ephesians 2:20 also refers to
Christ as 'ipso summo angulari lapide Christo Iesu' - 'Jesus Christ himself
being the chief corner-stone.' In context, Paul explores the meaning of this
image as referring to the Jews and Gentiles as it were coming to God from
two directions, and meeting in Christ, as two walls meet and join in the
corner-stone. 'Who makest both one' refers to Ephesians 2:14,
'qui fecit utraque unum'.

'Quem de limo formasti' derives from Genesis 2:7, 'Formavit igitur Dominus
Deus hominem de limo terrae.' Again Jesus is identified with the God of
Creation, the God of Genesis.

A number of texts have been combined to produce a coherent theology:
Christ is the Lord of all nations, both Jews and Gentiles, as a corner-stone
supports both walls; he is the agent through whom both were made, and
will lead both to a destiny greater than anything in their previous existence.


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Saturday, December 21, 2002

Domine Nostre Jesu Christe,

. . . .qui de sinu Patris egressus, venisti ut carnis nostrae vestimentum indueres,
- libera quod perierat naturae vitiatae contagio.
Veni, Domine Jesu.

Nolite timere! Quinta enim die veniet ad vos Dominus noster!
Ad Benedictus, ant.

[all from Morning Prayer for Saturday the 21st of December]


Today the new calendar honors a Dutch theologian who wrote a new catechism. He's a Jesuit.

C'mon, don't let the stereotypes get to you. This is better than it sounds. Read more about the
16th century doctor of the church St. Peter Canisius here if you have some time and here for a shorter precis of his life.

In the traditional calendar of Bl. Pope John XXIII this is the feast day of St. Thomas the Apostle. Thomas has come down to us as "Doubting Thomas" since he did not at first believe the testimony of the other apostles that they had seen the risen Christ. It seems to me that in Thomas we have a more reliable witness than in the other apostles. He was Thomas, called "Dydimus, the twin". He had been mistaken for someone else his whole life. "Hey, Al: you goin' the dance this weekend?" "Uh, actually I'm his brother Thomas. You'll have to ask him." Thomas was an expert from birth in mistaken identities. When he tells us that it was really Jesus Christ in that upper room and not someone who merely looked like him we have the testimony of an expert witness.

O Oriens

Today Bill East’s wonderful explication of the “O” antiphons is resumed.
(I have no idea what I did with my copy of his texts for the 19th and 20th
of December. Blogspot isn’t the only one with archive problems.)

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O Oriens (21st December)

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina
sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis.

O Day-spring, Brightness of Light Everlasting, and Sun of Righteousness:
Come and enlighten him that sitteth in darkness and the shadow of death.

My illustrious namesake derives his title from the Song of Zechariah, or
Benedictus, which I quoted yesterday. Luke 1:78-79,

Per viscera misericordiae Dei nostri:
In quibus visitavit nos, Oriens ex alto,
Illuminare his qui in tenebris et in umbra mortis sedent . . .

'Through the bowels of compassion of our God,
Through which the Dayspring from on high has visted us,
To illuminate those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death . . .'

Notice that our antiphons are proceeding in a chronological direction
through the Bible; not in the texts quoted, which are from here, there
and everywhere, but in the events alluded to: Creation - Exodus - Jesse -
David - and now the beginning of the Gospel, John the Baptist.

The symbolism of light is often applied to Christ in the NT, but for
specifically eternal light we should look to Isaiah 60, which is all about
light. The chapter begins,

Surge, illuminare, Ierusalem, quia venit lumen tuum,
Et gloria Domini super te orta est.

'Arise, shine, Jerusalem, for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.'

Note orta, 'risen', the past participle of orior, of which Oriens is the
present participle. At verse 19 of this chapter we find,

Non erit tibi amplius sol ad lucendum per diem,
Nec splendor lunae illuminabit te;
Sed erit tibi Dominus in lucem sempiternam.

'The sun shall be no more thy light by day;
neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee:
but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light.'

This is taken up in the Book of Revelation, or Apocalypse:

Et civitas non eget sole, neque luna ut luceant in ea, nam claritas Dei
illuminavit eam, et lucerna eius est Agnus. (Rev. 21:23)

'And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it;
for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.'

We should also note the Second Letter of St Peter, 1:19,

Et habemus firmiorem propheticum sermonem: cui benefacitis attendentes
quasi lucernae lucenti in caliginoso donec dies elucescat, et lucifer
oriatur in cordibus vestris.

'We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereto ye do well that ye
take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn,
and the day star arise in your hearts.'

The 'Sun of Righteousness' comes from Malachi 4:2,

'Et orietur vobis timentibus nomen meum Sol iustitiae, et sanitas in
pennis eius.'

(note again the use of orior)

'And there shall rise upon you who fear my name the Sun of Righteousness,
with healing in his wings.'

To quote a much later writer who continued this highly creative tradition
of turning the scriptures into liturgy:

"Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise,
Triumph o'er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear."

(Charles Wesley).

Or again, by the same author - I quote it in his original form; we are
more familiar with it in the slightly altered form it received from G.
Whitefield, M. Madan and others:

"Hail the heavenly Prince of peace!
Hail the Sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings."


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Friday, December 20, 2002

To watch a Cubs game in person

. . . .you will now actually have to buy a ticket and go inside Wrigly Field. What a concept. It says here The Chicago Cubs are suing the owners of rooftop businesses that overlook Wrigley Field and sell tickets to watch games, saying the establishments are stealing from the team.

You'll still have to be outside the park to catch some of those home runs, though.

Thursday, December 19, 2002


This is the feast of St. Dominic of Silos. He restored the Benedictine monastery of Silos in Spain. This is the monastery whose monks produced the album ‘Chant’ a few years back that made Gregorian chant a household word in this country. St. Dominic the founder of the Order of Preachers was named after today’s saint. From Engelbert’s “Lives”: “Expectant mothers invoke [St. Dominic of Silos] for a happy delivery. When a queen of Spain was on the point of giving birth to a child, the abbot of Silos took St. Dominic’s staff and carried it into the royal palace, and this relic remained there until the happy event had taken place.”

The commemoration of the Irish saint Ursinus (or Ursicinus) is also kept on this day. He was forced to leave the monastery of Luxeuil with St. Columbanus and traveled into exile as far as the wilderness above the river Doub. The legend says that the area was populated only by bears whom the saintly Ursinus got to do his bidding. He acquired the nickname “Ursinus” from these companionable bears and his real name is no longer known. There exists a bell which is said to have belonged to him and is of antique Irish design. [All from D’Arcy]


The fourth “O” Magnificat antiphon.

O CLAVIS DAVID et sceptrum domus Israel,
qui aperies, et nemo claudit; claudis, et
nemo aperit; veni, et educ vinctum de
domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.

O KEY OF DAVID, and scepter of the house
of Israel! who openest, and no man
shutteth : who shuttest, and no man
openeth; come, and lead the captive from
prison, sitting in darkness and in the
shadow of death.

This text is taken from Parsch’s “The Church’s Year of Grace”, vol. I

“The six-pointed star is the Jewish symbol for the shield or key of David. To Jews it is still a symbol of God and His most holy Name. It also was for them a sign of the promised Messiah (star of Balaam [Is this right? Shouldn’t that be ‘star of Bethlehem’? Did Balaam have a star? –jpc-]). It should, then, be perfectly obvious that Christ is the “Key of David,” i.e., the One who opens all the secrets and mysteries of the Old Testament. The scepter implies a true fullness of power over God’s kingdom.

“Reflections. (a) The figure. Substantially the passage is from Apocalypse 3:7, where Christ speaks of Himself as the ‘Key of David, who opens and no one shuts; who shuts and no on opens.’ But there also is a passage in Isaias (22:22) which corresponds almost word for word with our antiphon. The Old Testament text, however, is not messianic; it is directed to the faithful civil ruler whom God supports: ‘I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder. He will open and no one will shut; he will shut and no one will open.’ The symbol of handing over the keys denotes the conferral of supreme authority. With the keys he becomes chief executive and all his transactions are divinely approved. Evidently St. John borrowed the passage from Isaias and applied it to Christ, a precedent followed by the liturgy. The antiphon puts additional stress on Christ’s power by adding the title: ‘Sceptre of the house,’ or better, ‘over the house of Israel.’

“(b) Exegesis. . . . . .

“Lastly, the petition in our antiphon is somewhat more extended than on previous days. Christ holds the keys to the prison where Satan keeps men enchained. Through original sin mankind languishes in prison; redemption includes deliverance from this imprisonment. The antiphon describes it very realistically: Captive mankind sits in darkness and in the black shadows of death. Imagine an ancient prison (they called it a ‘lion’s den’). May Christ the Redeemer, we plead, unlock this prison, He has the key. May He convert the countless pagans whom Satan still holds captive; may He loose the bonds of sin and show sinners the rising light of Christmas. And are there no passions, no evil enticements from which He must free me?”

"Tradition!" -Tevye

Mark Cameron has two excellent posts on view this evening at Mystique et Politique: What is a "Traditional" Catholic? parts one and two. The first quotes liberally from my friend Kirk Kramer's outstanding definition of what a traditional Catholic should be. In my occasionally humble opinion, in any discussion of traditional Catholicism Kirk's definition needs to be an essential element.

This document is not meant to be an exercise in barren polemics or to call into question the good faith of other people. The unity of the Church must be grounded in charity, first and foremost; it must also be grounded in truth. We do not want to pretend to be other than what we are, Catholics who passionately love Christ our Lord, His immaculate Mother, His Church, His vicar on earth, and the liturgy which for a millenium and a half has been the principal means employed by the Church to help men to love and follow Christ better.

Lines Remembered This Afternoon While Trying to Comb Out Hat-Hair

I'd rather have fingers than toes;
I'd rather have eyes than a nose;
And as for my hair,
I'm glad it's all there.
I'll be terribly sad when it goes.

[Yes, I'm aware it's on its way out. Hence the hat referenced in the title.]


In some of the old lists of saints, this is the feast of St. Adam. Yes, that Adam. Our – my and your -- great, great, great, [insert umpteen millennia worth of “great”s here] grandfather. You’ll find his life in the first part of Genesis. (I looked to see what great, great, [etc.] grandmother Eve’s day is. I can’t find it. She doesn’t seem to have one. Seems rather ungallant to me.)

This is also the feast of the 14th century pope, Blessed Urban V. According to Engelbert, he “showed from his childhood a character hostile to every frivolity.” Ahem. Yes. Well. Those who know me are now wondering why I have seen fit to single out for mention someone so obviously not my patron and model. But he had other qualities, too. An Avignon pope, he attempted to return the papacy to Rome. In 1367 he sailed with 27 galleys to the Italian port of Corneto. In October of that year made his triumphal entry into Rome. In the end he was not able to maintain himself there and had to return to Avignon. During his reign he sent missionaries to India, China, and Lithuania. He also called a crusade to defend against the Mohammedans. He and the Byzantine Emperor John V Palaeologus entered a pact, short-lived though it was, ending the great schism. He died in 1370.


The third O antiphon:

O radix Jesse, qui stas in
signum populorum, super
quem continebunt reges os
suum, quem gentes depre-
cabuntur: veni ad liberan-
dum nos, jam noli tardere.

O Root of Jesse, who standest
as the ensign of the people; before
whom kings shall not open their
lips; to whom the nations shall
pray: come and deliver us; tarry
now no more.

I don’t have a copy of Bill’s comments for today’s antiphon. (My own archives are in such a state that I am in no position to criticize Blogspot on their archiving problems.) So this is from Pius Parsch’s “The Church’s Year of Grace”.

“The burden of the text is taken from various sections of the book of Isaias (see 11:1; 11:10; 52:15). Let us try to unravel the liturgical synthesis. In spirit the prophet saw how Judah and the kingdom of David would be destroyed. But there would remain a holy root. From the stump of Jesse (the name of David’s father) springs forth a twig, a twig that becomes a banner unto all nations. In its presence kings will become reverently silent, and the nations adore. It is clear that the prophet is speaking of the Messiah. David’s royal line was dethroned with the exile and thereafter remained shrouded n oblivion – Jesse’s stump. But with Christ a new branch buds out of the old root; the throne of David is again occupied. “And the angel said to Mary: The Lord God will give unto Him the throne of David His Father and He will reign in the house of Jacob forever.” Christ is of the root of Jesse, both as a descendant of David and as occupant of the royal throne. The wording of the prophetic text, however, does no pas over our Savior’s external lowliness and poverty..

“The bulk of the antiphon is devoted to a description of the kingdom. The small twig becomes the unifying principle about which the nations will gather like soldiers and citizens about their flat. With yarning the peoples will assemble around Him, will turn and acknowledge Him as Ruler. The Messiah’s glory will be so great that eve kings will stand dumbstruck in wonder and awe.”

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

The Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The 18th of December was an ancient feast in honour of Our Lady's pregnancy. It does not appear to have ever been universal in the Roman Rite but it was very widespread. This is Gueranger's description of the feast:

(from Dom Gueranger’s “The Liturgical Year”, vol. I)

“This feast, which is now kept not only throughout the whole of Spain but in many other parts of the Catholic world, owes its origin to the bishops of the tenth Council of Toledo, in 656. These prelates thought that there was an incongruity in the ancient practice of celebrating the feast of the Annunciation on the 25th of March, inasmuch as this joyful solemnity frequently occurs at the time when the Church is intent upon the Passion of our Lord, so that it is sometimes obliged to be transferred into Easter time, with which it is out of harmony for another reason; they therefore decreed that, henceforth, in the Church of Spain there should be kept eight days before Christmas a solemn feast with an octave in honour of the Annunciation, and as a preparation for the great solemnity of our Lord’s Nativity. In course of time, however, the Church of Spain saw the necessity of returning to the practice of the Church of Rome, and of those of the whole world, which solemnize the 25th of March as the day of our Lady’s Annunciation and the Incarnation of the Son of God. But such had been, for ages, the devotion of the people for the feast of the eighteenth of December, that it was considered requisite to maintain some vestige of it. They discontinued, therefore, to celebrate the Annunciation on this day; but the faithful were requested to consider, with devotion, what must have been the sentiments of the holy Mother of God during the days immediately preceding her giving Him birth. A new feast was instituted, under the name of ‘the Expectation of the blessed Virgin’s delivery’.

“This feast, which sometimes goes under the name of ‘Our Lady of O’, or the ‘feast of O’, on account of the great antiphons which are sung during these days, and in a special manner, of that which begins ‘O Virgo virginum’ (which is still used in the Vespers of the Expectation, together with the O Adonai, the antiphon of the Advent Office), is kept with great devotion in Spain. A High Mass is sung at a very early hour each morning during the octave, at which all who are with child, whether rich or poor, consider it a duty to assist, that they may thus honour our Lady’s Maternity, and beg for her blessing upon themselves. . . .We find that the Church of Milan, long before Rome conceded this feast to the various dioceses of Christendom, celebrated the Office of our Lady’s Annunciation on the sixth and last Sunday of Advent, and called the whole week following the ‘Hebdomada de Exceptato’ (for thus the popular expression had corrupted the word ‘Expectato’). . . .”

The Great Antiphon to Our Lady

“O Virgo Virginum, quomodo
fiet istud? quia nec primam
similem visa es, nec habere
sequentem. Filiae Jerusalem,
quid me admiramini? Divinum
est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.”

“O Virgin of virgins! How shall
this be? for never was there one
like thee, nor will there ever be.
Ye daughters of Jerusalem, why
look ye wondering at me? What
ye behold, is a divine mystery.”

Memento Mori

While on the subject of death, this is the 45th anniversary of the death of Dorothy L. Sayers, novelist, Anglican theologian, occasional poet, and translator of Dante. "Novelist" in this instance means "mystery novelist". She founded the Detection Club with Christie, Chesterton, and Msgr. Knox. If you haven't sampled Sayers, I would suggest "The Nine Tailors". It finds its way onto most lists of best novels in the genre.

Flowers of the Forest

Just heard the other day that, Lindsay Kirkwood, one of the better pipers and teachers of piping in North America has died. Apparently he had a heart attack at 43. He leaves behind a young family and many students who will miss his clear instruction and warm encouragement. There is a short obituary here.

18 DECEMBER - O Adonai

This is the second of Bill East’s essays on the “O” antiphons of Advent. It’s often pointed out that on Christmas Eve, when all the antiphons have been sung, the initials of the first word spell out “Ero cras”, or “Tomorrow, I will be”. Whether intentional or co-incidence, it’s a pleasing little circumstance.

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O Adonai (18th December)

O Adonai, et dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, who appearedst in the bush to
Moses in a flame of fire, and gavest him the Law in Sinai: Come and
deliver us with an outstretched arm.

"Adonai" means "Lord" and is the name used in the Jewish tradition for
God. The divine name, spelt with the consonants JHWH, was probably pronounced
"Yahweh"; however, it came to be considered too holy to pronounce at all,
and the Masoretic vowel-signs for the word Adonai were attached to the
consonants. This was a signal for the reader to say "Adonai" rather than
"Yahweh" when reading aloud. The convention was misunderstood by some
(though not all) of the reformers, who combined the consonants of JHWH and
the vowels of Adonai to create the quite novel word Jehovah.

Our antiphon, then, identifies Christ very directly with the God of the
Old Testament, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3) and gave
him the Commandments on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20).

The phrase 'domus Israel', 'house of Israel'; is used many, many times in
the OT as a name for the Hebrew people, and also a few times in the NT.

The phrase 'in brachio extento', 'with outstretched arm' is characteristic
of the Book of Deuteronomy in describing God's mighty act of delivering
Israel from bondage to the Egyptians; cf. Deut. 26:8, 'et eduxit nos de
Aegypto in manu forti, et brachio extento.'

The O-Antiphons therefore begin by associating Christ with God in
Creation: he is the Sapientia, Wisdom, who was with God and was God in the
beginning, without whom nothing was made; in other words, with the God of Genesis.
Then they move on to associating him with the God of the Exodus, which in
the NT itself is regarded as a type of Christ's redeeming passion (cf.
Luke 9:30-31, the Transfiguration: 'And behold, two men talked with him, Moses
and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his Exodus, which he was to
accomplish at Jerusalem.')

Several more of the antiphons compare the redemption wrought by Christ
with deliverance from situations of imprisonment or slavery mentioned in the

Curiously, none mentions the Exile in Babylon, which is alluded to so
plainly in the first verse of our Latin hymn:

Veni, veni, Emmanuel, O come, O come, Emmanuel,
captivum solve Israel, Redeem thy captive Israel,
qui gemit in exilio, That into exile drear is gone
privatus Dei Filio. Far from the face of God's dear

That allusion is down to our hymnographer; and a happy and creative
enough allusion, it seems to me.



. . . .is the feast of St. Flannan, the 7th century abbot and first bishop of Killaloe. Flannan, as abbot, made a pilgrimage to Rome. While there, he was consecrated bishop by Pope John IV. St. Flannan’s Oratory still stands in Killaloe and is reputed to have been the parish church of Brian Boru.

There has been a cathedral in Killaloe since St. Flannan’s day. The present St. Flannan’s Cathedral was begun in the 13th century and is now the Church of Ireland cathedral for the diocese of Killaloe. (Or as it is officially known: “The United Dioceses of Limerick, Ardfert, Aghadoe, Killaloe, Kilfenora, Clonfert, Kilmacduagh and Emly.”)

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

The Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

The Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Valparaiso, Nebraska is celebrating the first anniversary of its dedication this month. So far as I know, this is America's newest Carmel. There is a website here. Do take a look at some of the latest photographs showing the completed monastery here and the ceiling mosaics here. The sanctuary appears to be appointed to facilitate an "ad orientem" liturgy. I have heard that the liturgy will be "traditional". But what that means in practice I don't know. Bishop Bruskewitz is a friend to the traditional Gregorian rite so it may mean just that.


On this day St. Florian is honoured. This is not the Austrian St. Florian who is patron of Poland and of many fire brigades. This St. Florian was one of 60 Christians massacred in Palestine by the Mohammedans about the year 638. (ref: Engelbert's "Lives")

The first of the "O" antiphons are used for the Magnificat at Vespers this evening, marking the last 8 days of Advent.

The explanation below was written a few years ago by Bill East and posted on a mail list. (I think I remember which one; but I'd rather be vague than wrong.) I am presuming his permission to reprint since I don't have a current address for him. (The citation given for Mr. Shiel's article seems to be no longer valid. I've left it as it occurs in the original in the event it is a temporary problem.) I have some of his other "O" antiphon explanations for the coming days, but, alas, not for every day.

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O Sapientia (17th December)

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodisti, attingens a fine usque ad
finem, fortiter suaviter disponensque omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam

O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the Most High, and reachest
from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and
teach us the way of prudence.

The Antiphon is based on Wisdom 8:1, "Attingit ergo a fine usque ad finem
fortiter, Et disponit omnia suaviter."

Wisdom, in the OT "is more than a mere quality and tends increasingly to
become a hypostasis, so esp. in Prov. 8 and Wisd. 7.22 ff" (ODCC).

Proverbs 8:12 ff runs:

"Ego sapientia, habito in consilio, et eruditus intersum cogitationibus .
. Meum est consilium, et aequitatis; Mea est prudentia, mea est
fortitudo. Per me reges regnant . . ." [Making the link between Sapientia and

Wisdom 7:22 ff. runs:

"Est enim in illa [i.e. in Sapientia] spiritus intelligentiae, sanctus,
Unicus, multiplex, subtilis, disertus, mobilis,
Incoinquinatus, certus, suavis, amans bonum, acutus,
Quem nihil vetat, benefaciens,
Humanus, benignus, stabilis, certus, securus,
Omnem habens virtutem, omnia prospiciens,
Et qui capiat omnes spiritus,
Intelligibilis, mundus, subtilis."

"In the NT Divine Wisdom is incarnate in Christ, who St Paul calls 'the
wisdom of God' (I Cor 1:24)" [ODCC]. The relevant passage is as follows:

I Corinthians, 1:23 ff,

Nos autem praedicamus Christum crucifixum: Iudaeis quidem scandalum,
gentibus autem stultitiam, ipsis autem vocatis Iudaeis, atque Graecis
Christum Dei virtutem, et Dei sapientiam: quia quod stultum est Dei,
sapientius est hominibus: et quod infirmum est Dei, fortius est

"But we preach Christ crucified: to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to
the Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks, Christ
the Power ('Virtue') of God and the Wisdom of God; because what is foolish
of God, is wiser than men; and what is weak of God, is stronger than

"Amongst the Fathers most use 'Wisdom' as a synonym for the Incarnate Word
or Logos" (ODCC).

The phrase "suaviter fortiter" occurs in Boethius "De Consolatione" and
has been regarded as the only definite reference to the scriptures and/or the
Christian liturgy in that work. But see James Shiel's interesting article
"fortiter suaviter" which can be found online at

I take the liberty of reproducing Mr Shiel's abstract below:

f o r t i t e r s u a v i t e r

by James Shiel

Abstract: A happy phrase used by Lady Philosophy in Boethius' Consolation
has often been quoted as a meagre but significant indication of Christian
belief. But it seems rather to be the normal expression of a Neoplatonic
sentiment about the combination of power and effortlessness in divine
action. And the pleasure expressed by Boethius over the verbal felicity
simply echoes the emphasis placed on appropriate dignity of idiom in
Eleatic and Platonic descriptions of the divine.

"It is therefore the supreme goodness which rules all things strongly and
orders them sweetly." ashiel.html - fn1[1]

This sentence occurs at a pivotal point in Boethius' dialogue with Lady
Philosophy. Their discussion had started with his complaint about the
injustice of his being imprisoned and condemned as if blind Fortune ruled
the universe. The Lady gradually steers him through arguments about the
instability and illusion of what men generally regard as good, such as
wealth, power, esteem. The prisoner at last comes to fasten firmly on to
one abiding conviction, that, despite the bitter appearances to the contrary,
a supreme goodness coordinates all things, including the vagaries of Fate.
From that central stance the dialogue can go on to explain the nature of
Providence, its control over Fate, its compatibility with human free-will,
its rewarding of moral effort and prayer.

A Christian version of the crucial sentence has been noted in the Latin
church liturgy, in an Advent antiphon with a memorable plain-chant tune. I
translate it from the Liber Usualis (a more complete text than that given
in Bieler's edition of the Consolatio): "O Wisdom who have come from the
mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end strongly, sweetly, and
disposing all things, come to teach us the way of prudence." ashiel.html - fn2[2]
The antiphon is evidently based on the Vulgate Book of Wisdom, the Sapientia
Salamonis (8,1) ashiel.html - fn3[3], which in turn was a close
translation from the Greek Septuagint: "Wisdom stretches from end to end strongly and
disposes all things gently." ashiel.html - fn4[4]

[end of quotation]

Those who wish to know more can find Mr Shiel's article, as aforsaid, at


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Sunday, December 15, 2002

Movies That Shaped Our Culture

Eve Tushnet discusses movies that "shaped our culture" here and here. She makes a nice point that so many "influential" movies were influential only in the way they changed movie-making. But as for changing anyone's life? Not a bit of it.

As for me, my major influences have been My Man Godfrey and every other screwball comedy of the 30's and 40's. I wasted an awful lot of time waiting to be pursued by a madcap heiress.


. . . .is the feast of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, "one of the great defenders of the divinity of Christ against the Arians."

St. Adelaide is also celebrated on this day. She was the daughter of the King of Burgundy, widow of King Lothaire of Italy, and wife of the Emperor Otto, who rescued her from imprisonment by an embittered suitor. Her life was written by St. Odilo of Cluny who was her friend and spiritual director.

Saturday, December 14, 2002


Today is Gaudete Sunday. Rose vestments are the appropriate liturgical colour today if the sacristan can find them in the back of the closet next to the old black ones. This is the official midpoint in the Advent season – even though we’re really more than half-way to Christmas. Tonight in the traditional (1962) rite of Pope John XXIII and Monday night in the Pauline rite, the Invitatory antiphon changes from “Regem venturum Dominum, venite, adoremus” to “Prope est iam Dominus: venite, adoremus”.

The 15th is also the feast of St. Christiana (or “Nina”) who lived in the 4th century. She is considered the Apostle of Georgia. (The one next to Russia, not the one Sherman marched through.) She prayed to "the God of the Christians" for the Tsaritsa of Georgia and cured her of her illness which began the conversion of the country.

Christmas Greetings

The band passed around a band Christmas card for someone today. It was quite well done with a nice picture of us on the cover. I didn't quite hear who it was for but I signed anyway when it was put in front of me. I'm such an obedient soul. Fingers crossed on that, though. If it turns out to be a card to Strom Thurmond I figure I'm pretty much toast. No one will ever link to me again.

Christmas Gigs

I played at a Christmas party last Thursday for a group of retired academics. The request was from an old friend so the remuneration was only nominal. But the company and the lunch were excellent. I played for a bit before lunch and afterward gave my 50¢ lecture on the history of the pipes. (It would have been a touch more coherent if I’d known beforehand that they wanted that.) Fortunately, I like talking about the pipes almost as much as playing them. And then a few more tunes to end.

In the evening the Scottish country dancing group to which my wife and I belong had its Christmas ceilidh. It seems to be the last of the genuine ceilidhs around. So many events are still called a ceilidh but they have all the spontaneity programmed out of them. A ceilidh is supposed to be a party with do-it-yourself entertainment. The people attending do their party pieces, whether it’s singing or reciting their favourite poetry (Bill has a great Robert W. Service repertoire) or a good joke. We had all of that and some fiddling, some piano, and a bit of the pipes. And dancing, ending the evening with Rob Roy, an absolute cracker of a jig.

And finally today the band ended our 2002 performance season playing for a few hours this afternoon at the Valencia Mall. A mall, by the way, is an excellent venue for a pipe band. Much better than a parade: there’s a controlled climate (no 98 degree heat, no rain, no freezing wind), the route is level (no steep hills, no speed bumps, no pot holes), the acoustics are good, the crowds are friendly and in a good mood, and we don’t even have to worry about whether we’re following any horses. We had a good turnout with 14 pipes showing up, and I think, half a dozen drums giving us a nice, full sound. The only drawback with so many of the newer folks in the circle, is that the repertoire of tunes we all know was a bit reduced. On the whole, though, a good performance and good fun.


. . . .is the feast of St. John of the Cross in the Pauline rite and throughout the Carmelite Order. The Ancient Observance Carmelites keep it as a Feast and the Discalced Carmelites as a Solemnity.

Let us be clear. We are not talking about a man who lived in a world of fantasy. Today we appreciate him as a mystic and a poet, but he lived out these values in a busy life. Early in life he experienced pain and suffering. When he was two, his older brother died. When he was eight he lost his father and when he was twelve his mother sent him to an orphanage for poor children. At the age of fifteen he began to work in a hospital for infectious diseases. At the age of twenty-one he joined the Carmelite Order. At the age of twenty four, still a newly ordained priest, he underwent a serious vocational crisis. He met Saint Teresa who persuaded him to start a reform in his own Carmelite Order. At the age of thirty five, he suffered imprisonment – nine months on a diet of bread, water and sardines. At the age of forty seven, his own colleagues turned their backs on him and he had to taste the bitterness of injustice. But this suffering did not make him cynical. On the contrary, it led him to enter deeply the mystery of human existence. He experienced that dark night which he described so well in his writings:

O night that has united
the lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her lover.

All this moulded his character. An independent character, he was careful not to lose his precious energy in peripherals. He kept non-essential things at a distance not for mortification sake, but because superfluous things kept him from his aim in life. He was a pensive, dignified person, rather reserved but at the same time jovial. He enjoyed making others happy. Still waters ran deep. His writings are the result of long years of maturing both of his own personal interior experience as well as of his oral teaching. This interior experience flowered first into poetry and later in his doctrinal commentaries. In his writings we have the two faces of the soul of Saint John of the Cross: song and passion on the one hand, reflections and analysis on the other.

He was a very dynamic man. It is calculated that he traveled more than 26,000 kilometres during his lifetime (and at that time traveling was not at all comfortable); but throughout this activity he was able to keep a serene and contemplative depth. He was very sensitive in his relationships with men and with nature. Very tender in his relationship with God.

The sacristan of the Granada monastery tells us: “He used to be very grateful to whoever brought a rose or a carnation to honour the Blessed Sacrament.” He loved sculpture, painting and music. All his poems are hymns, songs of joy, of sorrow, of hope, most of all of love and praise. This is how his earliest disciples read them and sang them. Saint Teresa used to enjoy singing his most renowned poem ‘Adonde te escondiste?” and she herself taught her nuns a melody so that they could sing it frequently in the community. It is a shame that tape-recorders had not been invented! -from “God is a Feast” by Fr. Pius Sammut, O.C.D.

St. John was “buried under the dust of indifference” for centuries after his death. St. Teresa wrote angrily to Fr. Gracian, “I cannot understand why no one remembers this saint!” He was finally canonized in 1726 and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI on August 24, 1926.

Some of his writings in the modern translation of Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. can be found here. One of the great spiritual historian Fr. Jordan Aumann, O.P.'s essays on St. John is available on line here. The E. Allison Peers translation of The Dark Night of the Soul and The Ascent of Mount Carmel are available here along with the complete works in the original Spanish.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Local Interest Only

So local it's assuredly of interest to no one but me. But I found a lovely website for the church of my baptism, St. Mary's in Greenville, South Carolina. They've just had a renovation. From the pictures, it appears to be a real "renovation", i.e., it's been made new and beautiful again. Congratulations, priests and people of St. Mary's.

O, how amiable are thy dwellings, thou Lord of hosts!
My soul hath a desire to enter into the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh
rejoice in the living God.
-Ps. 83 (84)

G.K. Speaks

A must-visit today for Chesterton fans: Ad Orientem links to a site at which you can hear recordings of GK's voice. I'd never heard his voice before. It's something of a surprise; I'd expected a deeper voice. In fact, he sounds something like Trevor Howard. A surprise, I guess, because he certainly wouldn't win the look-alike contest.

A sample from Ad Orientem's page:

STUDENT: Mr. Chesterton, since you are one of the foremost crusaders in the modern world of letters, we wish to adopt you into the humble ranks of the Holy Cross Crusaders.

CHESTERTON: I have to thank you for this very great honor, and I do so
with all my heart. I can only say I am not much of a Crusader, but at least I am not a Mohammedan!


The famous Sicilian martyr St. Lucy was put to death this day about the year 304. Since the year 1204 her tomb has been in Venice. Hence the well-known "Santa Lucia" of the Venetian gondoliers. The medieval telling of her story from the Golden Legend is here.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Our Lady of Guadalupe Again

Reader Bill W. has kindly pointed me to a citation concerning the status of Our Lady's feast celebrated today. I was wrong about the "Solemnity" status. So if, relying on my blog, you celebrated the first Vespers of her feast last night, you're due for an appearance at the chapter of faults. Her day was raised in status but to that of "feast" rather than "solemnity". (I use the term "feast" rather freely around here to designate any liturgical celebration at all. Strictly speaking, in the new rite the term "feast" refers to the degree of solemnity of the celebration. The most solemn is a "solemnity" which includes both first and second vespers. "Feast" is next in line followed by the "obigatory memorial" and the "optional memorial". In Lent there are "commemorations" of certain saints days also.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2002


Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on this day. She is patroness of the Americas and of Mexico in particular. She has lately become the special patroness of the pro-life movement since her image as shown on St. Juan Diego's tilma shows her as pregnant with Our Lord. I can't find the reference at the moment, but I believe that today's feast was recently raised in status in the Pauline rite to that of a Solemnity in the western hemisphere.

In Ireland this is the feast of St. Finnian, the "Master of the Irish Saints". He was tutor to the great St. Columba and found of the monastery of Clonard in Meath.

The Left Coast Blogging Community

Everything else is a community; why not us? "The commuting community," the L.A. Times might say, "is very concerned about the Highway Patrol's recent personnel allocation." I mean, really.

Where was I? Oh, yes. I mentioned yesterday that there seemed to be only three members of St.Blog's Parish here on the left coast. I have since found there are two more: One Pilgrim's Walk from somewhere in the San Joaquin Valley and El Camino Real from Sacramento. To my knowledge there are now 5 parishioners in the Pacific Time Zone, 4 of them in California and, so far as I can tell, no two in the same diocese. Which proves. . . .um, something I'm sure.


This is the old Irish feast of the two Emers. When St. Patrick returned to Ireland to begin his mission, he went first to see his old master, Miluic. But rather than suffer the disgrace of meeting on equal terms with a slave, Miluic locked himself in his house and set fire to it.

St. Patrick had better luck with Miluic’s family, converting all of them. One son became the first bishop of Granard in county Longford. And it is the feast of his two daughters, both named Emer, that is kept today. They both converted and became nuns, founding in the village of Ballinalee the first convent in Ireland. (The story is taken from D’Arcy’s “The Saints of Ireland”)

In both the traditional Roman and the Pauline calendar the feast of the 4th century Pope St. Damasus is kept today. He had to deal not only with Arius and schisms in Antioch, Constantinople, and Sardinia but with an anti-Pope named Ursicinus in Rome itself.

In the eastern Church one of the pillar saints is remembered today, the 5th century St. Daniel the Stylite. A monk from the year 421, he and his abbot made a visit to Antioch and St. Simeon Stylites. Having received the hermit’s blessing, Daniel established himself on a pillar surrounded by a wooden balustrade from 460 to 493 when he died. His advice was sought be the Emperors Leo the Thracian, Zeno the Isaurian, and Asastasius, as well as the Empress Eudocia.

Monday, December 09, 2002


. . . .is the feast of Our Lady of Loreto. This link gives a synopsis of her story and if you scroll down gives further links on Our Lady and the Holy House of Loreto.

St. Juan Diego

The new Mexican saint, St. Juan Diego has his feast day today. The transfer of the Immaculate Conception almost caused him to be forgotten here.

While looking for links to St. Juan Diego I found this site about three other holy Mexican Indians.

And Then?

. . . has kindly linked to this blog. I return the favour herewith. Michelle of "And Then?" is my neighbor to the south in San Diego. There don't seem to be too many left coast members of St. Blog's parish. Mark Shea is in Seattle and so far as I can tell that exhausts the membership in the Pacific Time Zone.

Drop by and give her a visit. You'll like the weather. She has one of those automatic weather thingummies on the left column so you can tell. I have to do it by hand.
Lakewood, Calif. -- 8 1/2 miles from the Pacific Ocean
Time: 4:08 p.m. PST
Temp: 71 fahr.

President Thurmond to Retire in 2004

St. Nicholas Again

My friend Gary found a site that has the music for the Ruthenian hymn to St. Nicholas mentioned earlier. And all the English words and one verse in the Slavonic.
It's here.

He who dwells in God's holy mansions,
Is our help on the land and oceans,

He will guard us from all ills,
Keep us pure and free from sins
Holy Father Nicholas!

Thanks, Gary.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Every day in every way. . .

I understand less and less. Now take this for example. This is a link I followed from Amy Welborn's blog . The article describes a new "Fr. Solanus Casey Center" in Detroit. I like Fr. Casey. I've read a couple of biographies of him. Among other excellent traits, he played Irish tunes on the fiddle. The article describes the Center and gives a couple of pictures, one of the statue of Fr. Casey and one of the statue of . . . .Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ¿Que? What's that all about? Assuming Dr. King is everything his most ardent supporters say, what is the relevance to Fr. Casey?

Back in Business

Some blogs I very much enjoy that have been publishing irregularly of late are back in business:

man with black hat
Mystique et Politique
The Bellocian

"Clicke, lege" as someone (The Old Oligarch?) says.