Thursday, April 29, 2004

The Mad Piper

SCOTLAND'S "Mad Piper" has been immortalised in a series of stamps issued to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Bill Millin, 81, found fame as the soldier who piped Lord Lovat's 1 Commando Brigade ashore during the landings at Sword Beach in Normandy on 6 June, 1944.

Mr Millin, originally from Sandyhills, Glasgow, went on to play himself in the Hollywood film, The Longest Day, alongside Sean Connery and John Wayne.

Now an image of him stepping on to the Normandy beach-head has been included on a stamp depicting the greatest seaborne invasion ever undertaken.

The article goes on to say that he "marched up and down Sword Beach playing Highland Laddie as German bullets rained down around him." I heard an interview with Millin and Lord Lovat that the BBC did on the 40th annivesary of D Day which the local PBS station rebroadcast. Lovat said Millin marched up and down playing. Millin looked at him in astonishment and said he didn't "march" anywhere; he ran. And when he got behind a sand dune he stayed there. The by-play between two old comrades was a delight to see.

The rest of the article on Millin is here.

The Mass in English - mach III

The new translation of the Mass into English as proposed by the Clara Vox commission has been made available to the bishops for their comments. Some of it, perhaps all of it, can be found here. The format is rather inconvenient. It is presented as a group of 44 links, each one being a jpg of a single page of the text, English one side, Latin on the other. It's odd enough, in fact, to lead one to believe that this is a "leaked" document rather than a "released" document.

In any event, here it is for your perusal.

I have only just viewed a few random pages. So far, I think it is a great improvement, albeit there are what strike me as rather odd turns of phrase*. And I would have preferred the use of "Thou, Thee, and Thy" to refer to Our Lord and Our Lady. But at this stage of review, a great improvement over what we now have in English.

A sample. Here are the two prayers after the priest's communion:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who at the Father’s will, with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit have given life to the world by your death, free me by this your most holy Body and Blood from all my iniquities and from every evil: make me always cling to your commandments, and never let me be separated from you.

May receiving your Body and Blood, Lord Jesus Christ, not bring me to judgment and condemnation, but through your loving mercy let it be my protection in mind and body, and a healing remedy.

The Roman Canon starts off well. It begins on link 14.

Most merciful Father, we therefore humbly pray and implore you through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, to accept and bless + these gifts, these offerings, these holy and undefiled sacrifices, which we offer you in the first place for your holy catholic Church; be pleased to grant her peace, to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world, one with your servant N. our Pope, N. our Bishop and all bishops who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith.

The initial "c" in Catholic is not capitalized in the original.

*Yes, that struck me, too. The author of the most convoluted prose in blogdom really should be the last person to complain about "odd turns of phrase".

Marines Baptized in Fallouja

No, not "baptism of fire"; that's what I too thought the story would be about. Baptism with water and the Holy Ghost. The L.A. Times has the story here. (A shame it wasn't Catholic, but it was clearly valid.)

It will be worth a couple of minutes of your time to play the "flash" programme. A marine liturgy. "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Oorah!"

Amen, to that.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Consolations after Confession

“Devotions for Confession”, selected and arranged by Hubert McEvoy, S.J. was published in 1962. It is a 286 page manual consisting of 20 separate “Preparation” and “Thanksgiving” chapters of about 7 or 8 pages each. There are traditional prayers, scriptural readings, and selections from ancient and modern spiritual writers.

After confession yesterday morning, I found this little paragraph, quoting from “F. Devas, S.J.” to be very consoling:

WITH this constant falling into sin we are given two ways of accepting our falls. The first and obvious way is the constant struggle to resist the temptation; and the thing that ought to be so consoling to anyone who constantly falls is the knowledge that every effort—the tiniest as well as the biggest—that he has made to resist, is remembered for all eternity, and for every one of those efforts he will be rewarded. When he does give in and commit the sin, as soon as he confesses it, it is forgiven; and not only forgiven, but forgotten, while all that went before the sin, every kind of effort he made to resist, is never forgotten. Therefore, a man may sin and sin, and, at the end of it, it is the efforts he has made to overcome that sin, the determination not to give in, which is the crown of his glory. His struggle is incomparably more valuable in the sight of God than the petty struggles of those who have not the same severe temptation. He may feel, "What is the use of going to confession, when every time it is the same story over again?" But it is that steady accumulation of merit and perseverance that counts.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Housekeeping: The Missing Links

There have been several lately. I would dearly love to blame Blogger. But the evidence points to me. There is a paragraph in italics in the "St. George" post which is a quote from some site. I missed putting in the citation at the time and now I don't remember where it came from. If it's from your site, I apologize.

And all the tea company links were missing in yesterday's "tea" post. If you actually wanted to try some of them, I imagine they would help in finding a source. I've put them in now for anyone interested.

Ta Failte Roimh!

Welcome. This little corner of cyberspace has only very gradually built up a readership from the early days when it consisted of me and the site meter. These days we usually toddle along here at about 40 -- sometimes 30 and sometimes 50 or a bit more. Until yesterday when it peaked at something over 100. I have no idea what caused that. But whatever it was, welcome to you. I hope it wasn't too jarring an experience.

Could it have been the tea? D'ya think? Imagine: 100 more venues in which the water is being properly boiled. Makes one kinda humble and kinda proud. 100 down and some 280 million to go. Our work is cut out for us, Hilary.

Monday, April 26, 2004

"What did the world do before tea? I am glad I was not born before tea." -Rev. Sidney Smith

The proprietress of Fiat Mihi has compiled in this one short post all you are ever likely to need to know about tea.

You all just clicked away to read her post? Good. Then this will make perfect sense. Or as much sense as I ever make.

There are reasons for some of the anomalies mentioned. American tea is referred to as "sweepings". This is true; it is weak and relatively flavorless. This is intentional. Very few Americans put milk to the tea. Without milk a cup of tea of the proper British/Irish/Canadian strength would put the Yankee mouth into a permanent pucker. Ordinarily it might not be necessary to blend a tea this weak if the producer could rely on Americans not boiling water. Lukewarm or hottish water would produce the desired insipid cup even with a good spoonful of tea. However, it isn't all or even most Americans who don't boil the water. It is really only the restaurants and other commercial establishments that don't boil the water, relying on tepid coffee-maker water (which usually doesn't make a good cup of coffee either. But that's another post.) Real people in their homes put the kettle on and, as everywhere else, it boils. So relatively flavorless tea leaves are necessary.

And that is why you will often see the tea bag left in the cup. Some actually do want some tea flavor and let it continue to steep in an unconscious effort to coax a little more taste out of it. Even if more flavor is not wanted, there is conversely no need to remove it to keep it from getting too strong. American tea won't get too strong. Ever. Not like, say, Barry's, which if you left it in the water long enough would eventually become strong enough to unclog the drains.

In addition, removing the tea bag will cause the cup of tea to cool down faster. Remember, it may not have been boiling in the first place.

My wife's solution is to avoid tea altogether outside the home. She was born and raised in Ireland and acquired a taste for coffee in this country principally because restaurant and "office" tea were useless.

If she's in a restaurant that serves espresso, a friend of ours asks them to use the steaming water from the commercial espresso machine to fill the tea pot with the tea in it. That makes a decent cup, especially if they serve a good brand of tea. Twinning's is actually fairly common in restaurants out here.

The English people she mentions who bring not only their own tea with them but their own water have a point. Teas in the U.K. and Ireland are blended bearing in mind the type of water in the location where it will be marketed. Barry's is blended with Cork water in mind. Bewley's assumes the type of water found in Dublin. (I think that they also have regional blends that are marketed elsewhere in the country but I could be wrong about that.) Taylor's "Yorkshire" tea has the water found in the Yorkshire dales in mind.

In my occasionally humble opinion, you can get the best out of whatever brand of tea you're using by brewing it with a filtered water - no hard water or "minerallly" tasting water. If a chlorine scent is in the tap water, try bottled water.

My own favorite is Yorkshire Gold with Bewley's Clipper running a close second.

Thanks for bringing up the subject, Hilary. I enjoyed pontificating on one of my favorite subjects.

Well, whaddya know. . . .

It turns out that the Los Angeles Times does think a major Washington rally concerning abortion has a place on the front page of its paper. It even indulges us with a large color photo. In the past the Times seemed to believe that this sort of thing was of only minor significance. Parochial, really.

But this morning's paper had this on the front page above the fold with the aforesaid picture. (The long shot of the mall appeared in the print edition; not the one with the choleric female celebrities.) I'm sure none of us believes that the ever ethical Times was swayed by the fact that this March on Washington was pro-abortion unlike the other 30 or so that they covered - when they covered them - on page 47 next to the brassierre ads. Perish the thought.

No doubt this means that the Pro-life March on Washington held every January and bringing hundreds of thousands out in the snow will now get equal prominence in the Times. With equally favorable commentary. Even so, perhaps the Times will forgive us if we don't hold our breath while we wait.

One more point of interest: the headline on the article reads: "Abortion Rights Marchers Decry Global Setbacks". I didn't know these folks were having any setbacks at all, never mind global ones. Good on whoever is handing them the setbacks. Exultemus et laetemur as the seasonal refrain goes.


Magno cum gaudio hodie incipimus nuntios Stationis Radiophonicae
Vaticanae in linguam Latinam versos in interrete proferre. Ex hoc
nunc semel in hebdomada unum nuntium partitionis Germanicae in pagina
domestica nostra Latine edimus, quoniam linguam Latinam quam permulti
mortuam reputant magni pretii habemus. Versiones perficit presbyter
Gero Pius Caputsapiens (Germanice Weishaupt), persona in rebus
Latinis versatissima. Quisquis litteris nostris electronicis
notitiarum utaris atque nuntios Latinos invenire cupias, simpliciter
ad hanc paginam quaesumus pergas.

In short (and in English), the German section of Vatican Radio is now presenting some news in Latin. The text page is here.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

More from Jerry Pournelle

As long as I am thinking about Dr. Pournelle, this recent essay "Republic, Empire, Iraq, and Democracy" I found compelling and spot-on in most of its analysis. There is much here to contemplate about the changed nature of our country and how we wish to change other countries.

The reason we can't plant democracy in Iraq is that the country isn't suitable for democracy. As Rousseau observed, following Aristotle and most of the classic scholars, democracy is suitable only for fairly small and uniform states. The Cantons of Switzerland come to mind.

Iraq is a "nation" in name only, created by the British as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. It is not small, it is not uniform, and its people have far more local loyalty than they have to any ruling class in Baghdad. Worse, there is so much oil revenue at stake that desperate measures will be taken by those who seek to control it. The game is very much worth the candle. And when the stakes are high, the unscrupulous often trump those with scruples. So it goes.

Our efforts in Iraq are more likely to bring about Algeria in its early days, rather than the picture we have of Iraq as a democracy like Switzerland or the United States.


Iraq could have become a Federal Republic with rather weak central power but strong state powers, which is, you may recall, what I advocated a year ago; but the problem is that the United States doesn't understand what a Federal Republic is. We have been too busy converting the USA into an Imperial state, winner take all in one big national election, strip real power from the States. The States retain power only so long as the ruling elites of the US allow it.

Read the entire essay here.


Amongst many other good things, Jerry Pournelle posts one more bit of mail "from the USMC grapevine":

Update from LtCol K

...the last two days have been the hardest two days this battalion has faced in over 30 years. Within the blink of an eye the situation went form relatively calm to a raging storm. You've known that since arriving there has been violence; attacks have been sporadic and mostly limited to roadside bombs. Your husbands have become experts at recognizing those threats and neutralizing them before we are injured. Up to this point the war has been the purview of corporals and sergeants, and the squad they lead.

Yesterday the enemy upped the ante.

Early in the morning we exchanged gunfire with a group of insurgents without significant loss. As morning progressed, the enemy fed more men into the fight and we responded with stronger force. Unfortunately, this led to injuries as our Marines and sailors started clearing the city block by block. The enemy did not run; they fought us like soldiers. And we destroyed the enemy like only Marines can. By the end of the evening the local hospital was so full of their dead and wounded that they ran out of space to put them. Your husbands were awesome all night they stayed at the job of securing the streets and nobody challenged them as the hours wore on. They did not surrender an inch nor did flinch from the next potential threat. Previous to yesterday the terrorist thought that we were soft enough to challenge. As of tonight the message is loud and clear that the Marines will not be beaten.

More here.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Redemptionis Sacramentum II

I read it last night. At best it's a disappointment and fairly useless. At worst, it's a catastrophe.

It corrects no abuses. There is not an "abuse" listed that hasn't been condemned elsewhere. If the Hapless Bench couldn't be bothered to enforce the prior regulations why assume that one more document on the same issues will change anything?

There is the usual lamentation about some practice that continues for most of a paragraph. And then in the final sentence it is permitted. The provision for girl altar boys in paragraph 47 is a prime example. And you absolutely shouldn't be using "extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion". Unless, of course, using them would speed things up. Yes, I know the key term is "unduly prolonged". This is America in 2004. "Unduly prolonged" is a web page that takes 45 seconds to load rather than 5. Anything that isn't speeded up when it can be is "unduly prolonged" under the "cultural" conditions prevailing in this country.

If anyone ever needed any documentary evidence that the "reform" of the Roman liturgy over the past 40 years has been an unrelieved catastrophe, this document should provide all that's needed. The footnotes provide a litany of failed attempts to sort out the situation, to permit the galimaufry of creative options and still retain something resembling Catholicism. It's horrifying to read these things and note that scattered among the tut-tutting about quasi-liturgical peccadiloes - apparently the rosary needs scriptural readings - are throw-away warnings about practices that invalidate the Mass. E.g., it seems bread and wine aren't just an option.

Of particular interest to me is paragraph [3] on the very first page: The norms contained in the present Instruction are to be understood as pertaining to liturgical matters in the Roman Rite, and, mutatis mutandis, in the other Rites of the Latin Church that are duly acknowledged by law. It takes no imagination at all to foresee the Hapless Bench using this paragraph to justify wreaking their own special havoc on the traditional Roman Rite Masses celebrated under the indult and on the Anglican Use Masses. The remaining celebrations of the traditional Ambrosian Rite and Mozarabic Rite would be subject to it also.

Prediction: those sources* that always hail every piece of paper from Rome as the last word in wisdom that will now correct all abuses - even though none of the others issued in the last 40 years has - will love this also. And nothing will change. Except in those situations which were already liturgically stable and thriving. Those will get worse.

*I mean the NC Register, the Visitor, the Wanderer. That sort of thing. (I dearly love the Wanderer; but even Homer nods.)

Friday, April 23, 2004

Redemptionis Sacramentum

The long-awaited Roman document intended to correct liturgical abuses has been published and is available on-line today. The easiest site at which to access it seems to be the Adoremus web page. They have it here.

The Vatican site for the document is supposed to be here but it isn't working for me.

There is supposed to be an introduction to the document here but that isn't coming up either. Since the Adoremus version is 53 pages on my browser I suppose I will have plenty to read until the introduction site can get itself sorted out.

St. George for England

Today is the feast of St. George, the patron of England. In the celebration stakes, he seems to be stuck in the "show" position behind St. Patrick and St. Andrew. But he has his backers, and they are nothing if not enthusiastic.

He is patron saint not only of England but also of Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany and Greece; and of Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice (second to St Mark). He's also patron saint of soldiers, archers, cavalry and chivalry, farmers and field workers, riders and saddlers, and he helps those suffering from leprosy, plague and syphilis.

The good old Catholic Encyclopaedia, rather disappointingly, starts out this way in its article on St. George:

Martyr, patron of England, suffered at or near Lydda, also known as Diospolis, in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine. According to the very careful investigation of the whole question recently instituted by Father Delehaye, the Bollandist, in the light of modern sources of information, the above statement sums up all that can safely be affirmed about St. George, despite his early cultus and pre-eminent renown both in East and West (see Delehaye, "Saints Militaires", 1909, pp.45-76).

In spite of the killjoy attitude of the no-doubt otherwise commendable Fr. Delehaye, the C.E. continues on for 4 pages (6, if you count the advertisements) to discuss St. George. After the article finishes slaying drag--, uh, I mean myths, it gets to the more historical (and interesting) bits:

The crusades no doubt added to his popularity. William of Malmesbury tells us that Saints George and Demetrius, "the martyr knights", were seen assisting the Franks at the battle of Antioch, 1098 (Gesta Regum, II, 420). It is conjectured, but not proved, that the "arms of St. George " (argent, a cross, gules) were introduced about the time of Richard Coeur de Lion. What is certain is that in 1284 in the official seal of Lyme Regis a ship is represented with a plain flag bearing a cross. The large red St. George's cross on a white ground remains still the "white ensign" of the British Navy and it is also one of the elements which go to make up the Union Jack. Anyway, in the fourteenth century, "St. George's arms" became a sort of uniform for English soldiers and sailors. We find, for example, in the wardrobe accounts of 1345-49, at the time of the battle of Crecy, that a charge is made for 86 penoncells of the arms of St. George intended for the king's ship, and for 800 others for the men-at-arms (Archaeologia, XXXI, 119).

A little later, in the Ordinances of Richard II to the English army invading Scotland, every man is ordered to wear "a signe of the arms of St. George" both before and behind, while the pain of death is threatened against any of the enemy's soldiers "who do bear the same crosse or token of Saint George, even if they be prisoners". Somewhat earlier than this Edward III had founded (c. 1347) the Order of the Garter, an order of knighthood of which St. George was the principal patron. The chapel dedicated to St. George in Windsor Caste was built to be the official sanctuary of the order, and a badge or jewel of St. George slaying the dragon was adopted as part of the insignia. In this way the cross of St. George has in a manner become identified with the idea of knighthood, and even in Elizabeth's days, Spenser, at the beginning of his Faerie Queene, tells us of his hero, the Red Cross Knight:

But on his breast a bloody Cross he bore,
The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweet sake that glorious badge we wore
And dead (as living) ever he adored.

We are told also that the hero thought continually of wreaking vengeance:

Upon his foe, a dragon horrible and stern.

Ecclesiastically speaking, St. George's day, 23 April, was ordered to be kept as a lesser holiday as early as 1222, in the national synod of Oxford. In 1415, the Constitution of Archbishop Chichele raised St. George's day to the rank of one of the greatest feasts and ordered it to be observed like Christmas day. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries St. George's day remained a holiday of obligation for English Catholics. Since 1778, it has been kept, like many of these older holidays, as a simple feast of devotion, though it ranks liturgically as a double of the first class with an octave.

In the current liturgy of the Pauline Rite, St. George is usually a mere optional memorial. In England, where he is principal patron, his day had been a Feast but has now been upgraded to a Solemnity. There is a proper second reading in the Liturgy of the Hours, a portion of a sermon by St. Peter Damian.

The hymn given as proper in England to his feast in the English language office is this:

Leader now on earth no longer,
Soldier of thh'eternal King,
Victor in the fight for heaven,
We thy loving praises sing.
Great Saint George, our patron, help us,
In the conflict be thou nigh;
Help us in that daily battle,
Where each one must win or die.

Praise him who in deadly battle
Never shrank from foeman's sword,
Proof against all earthly weapon,
Gave his life for Christ the Lord.
Great Saint George, our patron, help us,
In the conflict be thou nigh;
Help us in that daily battle,
Where each one must win or die.

Who, when earthly war was over,
Fought, but not for earth's renown;
Fought, and won a nobler glory,
Won the martyr's purple crown.
Great Saint George, our patron, help us,
In the conflict be thou nigh;
Help us in that daily battle,
Where each one must win or die.

His collect:

Magnificantes, Domine, potentiam tuam, supplices exoramus, ut, sicut sanctus Georgius dominicae fuit passionis imitator, ita sit fragilitatis nostrae promptus adiutor. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.

After a hiatus of more than a century, St. George can once again be celebrated with bagpipes. The English pipes, which at one time were played throughout England, by the beginning of the 20th century had been reduced to the occasional Northumbrian piper. Here in the 21st century Julian Goodacre will make you an English Great Pipe, a Leicestershire Pipe, a Cornish Double Pipe and couple of other English pipes. He and Ray Sloan, who is linked at the "Northumbrian" link above, are not the only English pipe makers. Would that Jonathon Swayne had a web page; he makes some beautiful instruments.

An English celebration ought to include beer and ale. At least a Chestertonian one ought to. There is no shortage. Tetley and Bass are readily available in this country with only a minimum of research. Even Boddington's, if you must. (In this area, try The King's Head in Santa Monica.) This site recommends Hobgoblin Traditional English Ale. Like the reviewer, I've seen it at Trader Joe's. Unlike the reviewer, I've never sampled any. That may change.

And as long as you're in Trader Joe's, they carry some excellent English cheeses to go with the ale. There are some good cheddars - including, dare I mention it here, an Irish cheddar called "Dubliner" - and an excellent melt-in-your-mouth stilton that'll raise a glorious stink in the kitchen.

Enough. I need some lunch.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

More Pictures

This time of the Holy Week liturgies at the Society of St. John in Pennsylvania.

Simple and beautiful.


There are more pictures up of the lovely little church of St. Martin de Brethencourt. These were taken last Laetare Sunday at the Solemn Mass celebrating the 30th anniversary of the traditional Gregorian Mass at St. Martin's. One of these is already the new wallpaper on my pc.

There is also a short video here. It shows the censing of altar during the Kyrie and the audio you hear is the polyphonic Kyrie. Both links shown are of the same event; the one on the left is for slower connections.

[And I beg the pardon of any francophones who happen by for the absence of the correct diacritical marks. I don't know how to make them show up on the Blogger system. The ones I put in originally only show up as question marks.]

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Note to Self: Rob Bank

The perils of a "to-do" list.

Friday, April 16, 2004

The Pipes of War

The pipes are gaining more of a foothhold in the USMC everyday. You've been able to read about them here for some time. Now CNN reports about them sounding in Iraq.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

An Explanation

The previous post reminds me of something. I may owe Michelle an explanation of sorts. Some time ago she had a post in which she wondered if she were the only member of the parish who enjoyed literature which was, um, something less than "Literature". I didn't respond. And not just because I'd have to admit that Louis L'amour may not actually be up there with Anthony Trollope either.* The real truth is that I thought it was obvious. As you can see from the note below, I have no hesitation in reading the Long Beach Press Telegram. And as you will note elsewhere in this blog, even the Los Angeles Times. So obviously there are no literary depths to which I will not sink. Quod erat demonstrandum.

*But, of course, neither should you discount Louis L'amour. The world would be, if not a better place, at least a more comprehensible place if more people could write a simple expository sentence like LL. I wish I could. (No, I don't try very hard, do I. But it's still a worthy goal.)

Shattered Dreams

I was reading Dear Abby this morning. I don't usually read Dear Abby. No, honestly I don't. Don't give me that look; it's the truth. I don't. But the Press Telegram prints it right next to the comics, which is where all intelligent people begin perusal of the morning's news (and outside of baseball season often end it) so the eyes early in the morning still affected by sleep can sometimes inadvertantly slide over to that column.

To get somewhat closer to the point, this Dear Abby person (Who is not really "Abby" and not especially dear, coming as she does free with each copy of the paper, but is in fact the daughter of another woman who was considered the real Dear Abby but was also not actually dear or Abby herself. Journalism is a lot more complicated than it looks from the outside.) apparently received a letter from a 13 year old girl some days ago complaining that her dreams of becoming president of the United States were being battered and bruised by the condescension of her teachers and the jeers of her little playmates.

Well, the Dear Abby person gave some sort of moronic answer about every American child having the right to grow up and become President and did nothing to discourage her or point out that many young people with an early fascination with politics have amended their lives and instead gone straight and lived useful and moral lives.

Yet another disheartening letter, prompted by the first, was printed today.

Some woman read this child's pathetic plea and wrote in to say that as a child she, too, had had a great ambition which was derided by her acquaintances. She had wanted to be an astronaut. Alas, she says, her eyesight was not good enough and instead she had acquired a Ph.D. in some scientific field and become a teacher in a college. She closes by crying "Who's laughing now?"

The Dear Abby person unaccountably treats this woman's cry of despair, obviously referring to her tormentors' current hilarity at her plight, as some sort of triumphant slogan. Well, the absurdity of the position is patent: How could anyone seriously consider a position as a teacher in an American college adequate recompense for the failure to be an astronaut? No weightlessness. No space suits. No blast-offs with incredible G forces pulling at the skin. No little packages of Tang to be squirted down the throat. Not even a ray gun. Nothing but American college students as far as the eye can see.

It is yet another of the marks that enable one to know when one is living in a dark age that this Dear Abby person is able to hold down a position in which she is expected to give advice to any one at all. In the first case she completely fails to give moral correction to a child who is in such desperate need of it. And in the second gives no consolation whatsoever to a woman whose dream of being an astronaut has been utterly shattered and who now has no hope of ever being anything other than a teacher in a college. (She notes that she has "tenure". In my experience this, although not yet statutory, is considered in the eyes of the law to be an exception to the 13th amendment. Once "tenured", they never leave.)

Recently added to my "Want List":

Image and Devotion in Late Medieval England by Richard Marks is now on the "want list" as a result of this book review by historian Eamonn Duffy.

It begins:

Richard Marks’s rich and fascinating study of the role of devotional images in late-medieval England starts, as he himself points out, with a huge disadvantage: only a handful of such images have survived from the English Middle Ages. In Lutheran Germany and Scandinavia images were hardly an issue, and many churches there retained their medieval crucifixes, statues and wall-paintings into modern times. By contrast, English reformers, like the Dutch, Scots and Swiss, took a sterner view. Image-worship, they thought, was the badge of Antichrist, the ultimate apostasy. The Tudor authorities therefore not only smashed every accessible carved or painted image of God or the saints, but ordered the systematic destruction of even the niches and pedestals on which those images had stood, so that, as the Elizabethan Royal Injunctions insisted: “There remain no memory of the same in walls, glasses, windows or elsewhere within their churches or houses.”

This book is therefore a work of resurrection, recovering the significance of the religious image for late-medieval English Christians, and reminding us of the ubiquity of those images in the late-medieval cultural and religious landscape. Fortunately for this enterprise, it was easier to legislate for the destruction of stone corbels, brackets and canopies than to secure obedience to such commands. Inertia, cussedness, conservativism and economy ensured that churches all over England retained mute reminders that the scoured and whitewashed interiors were once the scenes of image veneration as extravagant as anything in Mediterranean Europe, vibrant with carved, painted and gilded statues, many of them dressed in garishly embroidered robes, and hung with rosaries, jewels and wax or metal ex voto offerings.

The rest of it is here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

O.K., O.K., I'll do it. . . .

The "Monday Quiz" that everyone else in the parish is doing. I mean everyone. The last two I've seen were Video Meliora. . . . and Oblique House.


Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, find line 4. Write down what it says "sight of God; but it is they who follow the Law that will be justi-" from volume III of Pius Parsch's "The Church's Year of Grace".

Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What do you touch first? Nothing. There is nothing to the left of me. I have to swing around all the way to the front and I touch only the monitor.

What is the last thing you watched on TV? CNN news programme. Lord knows what it was actually about; I don't usually watch it and I wasn't paying much attention. The last thing I actually watched was a Seinfeld episode I hadn't seen before - which is most of them as I never saw them when they were first out.

What is on the walls of the room you are in? Two icons: the Vladimirskaya Madonna and a Serbian Pantocrator. A small Assumption Abbey icon of Ss. Benedict and Scholastica. A framed print showing a picture of my wife that was used in their annual report. A photo of my father. Another photo of my wife. A painting of a priest walking down an Irish country road. A painting of an unidentified Lowland regiment pipe band practicing in Hyde Park. Three photos of me playing with the old Clan Donnachaidh Pipe Band and our greatly-missed Pipe Major Channon. Assorted diplomas and licenses. A copy of a medieval Irish cross.

What is the last movie you saw? The Passion of the Christ.

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy first? My wife needs a decent car desperately. Even if I don't become a millionaire overnight that's on the list.

Tell me something about you that I don't know. My mother was in the first class of women commissioned in the United States Marine Corps, circa 1943. If she were still alive to ask, I could give you the exact date.

Midwest Saved From Exposure to 23d Psalm

Soon to become a classic text in Political Science, this one from TheSecretAgentMan's Dossier. Avoid drinking any beverages while reading this one.

Thanks to The Curt Jester for the reference.

Monday, April 12, 2004

A Ray of Light

A judge in Denver has awarded nearly $150,000 to a Christian man fired by AT&T Broadband for refusing to sign a diversity policy requiring him to "value" the beliefs of others, including gays. -from the 7 April 2004 (Los Angeles)Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

A small victory for morality. A moral evil is still presented on an equal plane with virtue. But at least one man is not required to recognize it as such. There is more on the story here, including this bit of verbal legerdemain:

A spokesman for Comcast, which owns AT&T Broadband, said, the company "is disappointed in the court's ruling," which they said appears to ignore attempts by companies "to foster diversity and nondiscrimination in the workplace."

I see. One "fosters diversity and nondiscrimination" by getting rid of those appalling Christians. "Diversity" it seems includes everyone except those who don't submit to the thought gauleiters. So when we achieve full diversity we will all be exactly the same.

Or something.

The Traditional Mass at Czestochowa

There are some beautiful pictures at this site of the traditional Roman Rite Mass being celebrated at "the center of Poland", the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. The two above are a sample. A lovely site if you are at all interested in the Roman Rite, Our Lady of Czestochowa, or Poland.

The shrine itself has a webpage in English here.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Easter Mass

Easter Mass today at St. Mary's was balm to the soul. It was one of the most beautiful I've ever experienced. We usually have a High Mass on Sunday. But since there is only Fr. Johnson it's almost never a full Solemn Mass. But today there was not only a celebrant but a deacon and subdeacon so we were able to have the full solemnity according to the rubrics. There is nothing like our magnificent old liturgy. The celebrant was a canon from St. Michael's Abbey, the deacon was a diocesan deacon, and the subdeacon was a local man who is studying for the priesthood with the Institute of Christ the King.

Fr. Johnson has never recovered completely from his bout with cancer and his health was not helped by a recent fall. His retirement has long been planned for this coming May in any event, but he now needs the rest more than ever. If you could find a few moments to pray for this outstanding priest of God it would be greatly appreciated. There are few that deserve prayer as much as he.

And, yes, as you might have inferred from the above, we don't know if or how our indult Mass will continue. A prayer that it will would be very much appreciated by me.

Thanks in advance.

A Conversion Story

And an enthralling and well-written one, too. Fr. Yew began as a Taoist and Buddhist. His journey from Buddhism and Taoism through incipient Judaism, Pentecostalism, and final conversion to Catholicism at Oral Roberts University (no less) can be found here.

Don't miss the pictures from his time in Europe.

Easter Sunday -- Dominica Resurrectionis -- Festa Paschalia

Christ is Risen!

Indeed, He is Risen!

The Catholic Encyclopaedia outdoes itself for Easter. It includes not only a discussion of the word "Easter" itself and a description of the Mass and its feast but a few odds and ends from the non-liturgical - even wholly non-religious - customs and practices of the day.

The bunnies and eggs are ubiquitous. But did you know:

This strange custom originated in Bavaria in the fifteenth century. The priest inserted in his sermon funny stories which would cause his hearers to laugh (Ostermärlein), e.g. a description of how the devil tries to keep the doors of hell locked against the descending Christ. Then the speaker would draw the moral from the story. This Easter laughter, giving rise to grave abuses of the word of God, was prohibited by Clement X (1670-1676) and in the eighteenth century by Maximilian III and the bishops of Bavaria.

Or that

On Easter Monday the women had a right to strike their husbands, on Tuesday the men struck their wives, as in December the servants scolded their masters. Husbands and wives did this "ut ostendant sese mutuo debere corrigere, ne illo tempore alter ab altero thori debitum exigat" (Beleth, I, c. cxx; Durandus, I, c. vi, 86).

I like antique customs as much as the next fellow, but I think we'll forego a revival of that one in this house. However, this next one might be how the prior custom got started:

In the northern parts of England the men parade the streets on Easter Sunday and claim the privilege of lifting every woman three times from the ground, receiving in payment a kiss or a silver sixpence. The same is done by the women to the men on the next day.

More traditions, these from the east:

The Greeks and Russians after their long, severe Lent make Easter a day of popular sports. At Constantinople the cemetery of Pera is the noisy rendezvous of the Greeks; there are music, dances, and all the pleasures of an Oriental popular resort; the same custom prevails in the cities of Russia. In Russia anyone can enter the belfries on Easter and ring the bells, a privilege of which many persons avail themselves.

Maybe I'm too northern European for the sport in the cemetery. That seems a bit much. But I could go for a bit of Easter bell-ringing.

And finally handball, dancing abbots, and a parade:

In France handball playing was one of the Easter amusements, found also in Germany (Simrock, op. cit., 575). The ball may represent the sun, which is believed to take three leaps in rising on Easter morning. Bishops, priests, and monks, after the strict discipline of Lent, used to play ball during Easter week (Beleth, Expl. Div. off., 120). This was called libertas Decembrica, because formerly in December, the masters used to play ball with their servants, maids, and shepherds. The ball game was connected with a dance, in which even bishops and abbots took part. At Auxerre, Besancon, etc. the dance was performed in church to the strains of the "Victimae paschali". In England, also, the game of ball was a favourite Easter sport in which the municipal corporation engaged with due parade and dignity. And at Bury St. Edmunds, within recent years, the game was kept up with great spirit by twelve old women. After the game and the dance a banquet was given, during which a homily on the feast was read. All these customs disappeared for obvious reasons

Disappeared, that is, as of the turn of the 19th century. This is now the 21st century. So the Victimae Paschali cha-cha may be coming to a Parish Liturgical Commission planning session near you. Or worse: near me.

Haec dies quam fecit Dominus, Alleluia!

Exultemus et laetemur in ea, Alleluia!

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Holy Saturday -- The Easter Vigil

Christus factus est pro nobis oboediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis. Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum, et dedit illi nomen, quod est super omne nomen.

In the primitive Church Holy Saturday was known as Great, or Grand, Saturday, Holy Saturday, the Angelic Night, the Vigil of Easter, etc. It is no longer, like Maundy Thursday, a day of joy, but one of joy and sadness intermingled; it is the close of the season of Lent and penance, and the beginning of paschal time, which is one of rejoicing.

By a noteworthy exception, in the early Church this was the only Saturday on which fasting was permitted (Constit. Apost., VII, 23), and the fast was one of special severity. Dating from the time of St. Irenaeus, an absolute fast from every kind of food was observed for the forty hours preceding the feast of Easter, and although the moment assigned for breaking the fast at dawn on Sunday varied according to time and country, the abstinence from food on Holy Saturday was general.

This is "Great and Holy Saturday" in the eastern Churches. This year Catholic and Orthodox Easters coincide. Alexander Schmemann gives a short description and meditation here on Great and Holy Saturday.

On a personal note, I have to play for the memorial service for the father of a friend of mine this morning. And in the evening a wedding. (Some day I'll learn to check the calendar for holidays before booking engagements.) So if there is time later, there are some interesting Irish customs for this day in Kevin Danaher's "The Year in Ireland" that may show up here. Otherwise, a blessed end of Lent and the Sacred Triduum to all.

Maria Magdalene, et Maria Jacobi, et Salome emerunt aromata, ut venientes ungerent Jesum. Et valde mane una sabbatorum, veniunt ad monumentum, orto jam sole. Et dicebant ad invicem: "Quis revolvet nobis lapidem ab ostio monumenti?" . . . .

Friday, April 09, 2004

Hot Cross Buns! Hot Cross Buns!
One a penny, two a penny
Hot Cross Buns!

I thought surely Thomas would have a recipe for hot cross buns but it seems I'm to be left to my own devices on this one. So here's a site with a recipe for hot cross buns and a Russian Easter cheese for good measure.

This site gives some of the hot cross buns tradition. (It seems to be intended for children so of course it is ideal for me.)

It is traditional to eat warm 'hot cross buns' on Good Friday. Hot Cross Buns with their combination of spicy, sweet and fruity flavors have long been an Easter tradition. The pastry cross on top of the buns symbolises and reminds Christians of the cross that Jesus was killed on.

The buns were traditionally eaten at breakfast time.They were once sold by street vendors who sang a little song about them.

"Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns,
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns."

Hot cross buns baked on Good Friday were supposed to have magical powers. It is said that you could keep a hot cross bun which had been made on Good Friday for at least a year and it wouldn't go mouldy.

Hardened old hot cross buns were supposed to protect the house from fire

Sailors took them to sea with them to prevent shipwreck.

A bun baked on Good Friday and left to get hard could be grated up and put in some warm milk and this was supposed to stop an upset tummy.

Good Friday Superstitions / beliefs:
Many fishermen will not set out for catch on Good Friday.
Bread or cakes baked on this day would not go mouldy.
The planting of crops is not advised on this day, as an old belief says that no iron should enter the ground (i.e. spade, fork etc.).

Good Friday

As it seems I always do, the first reference made here to Good Friday is from the old Catholic Encyclopaedia. The time it takes to load will repay the wait. (Even the Google cache was taking a while today.)

There is, perhaps, no office in the whole liturgy so peculiar, so interesting, so composite, so dramatic as the office and ceremonial of Good Friday. Or so it was. Not any longer, unless you have access to the traditional Rite in your area. The reformed Good Friday liturgy is, in the words of Fr. Groeschel - not known for his traditionalist sympathies - "a disaster". In my experience, it consists almost entirely of being read to from bad translations by lay people with no elocution training. YMMV, as they say in email, and I hope it does.

(But I shall be at it anyway, "offering it up" as my grandmother used to exhort me when I didn't like something.)

The priests at our parish have been hearing confessions since 8:00 a.m. this morning (unless Morning Prayer ended earlier) and will be doing so in relays (we have 5 priests) throughout the day until after the last liturgical service. The Stations of the Cross begin at 3:00 p.m. After the Stations, the "liturgical service" for Good Friday, and after that the Divine Mercy novena begins at 5:30. Then at 6:30 they do it all again, this time in Spanish. The devotion of our priests makes so many things a blessing that would otherwise be close to intolerable.

From the CE on the Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday:

As a liturgical function the veneration of the Cross on Good Friday must no doubt be traced back, as Amalarius already in the ninth century correctly divined, to the practice of honouring the relic of the True Cross at Jerusalem which is described in detail in the "Pilgrimage of Etheria", c. 380. The ceremony came to prevail everywhere where relics of the True Cross existed, and by a very natural development, where relics failed any ordinary cross supplied their place as an object of cultus. As Amalarius again sensibly remarks, "although every church cannot have such a relic, still the virtue of the Holy True Cross is not wanting in those crosses which are made in imitation of it." Neither was this veneration, in the case at any rate, of relics of the True Cross, confined to Good Friday. St. Gregory of Tours uses language which may possibly imply that in Jerusalem the True Cross was honoured every Wednesday and Friday. It is certain that at Constantinople a Sunday in Mid-Lent, the first of August, and the 14th of September were similarly privileged.

Even from early times there was no hesitation about using the word adoratio. Thus, St. Paulinus of Nola, writing of the great Jerusalem relic (c. 410), declares that the bishop offered it to the people for worship (crucem quotannis adorandam populo promit), and first adored it himself. (See P. L., LXI, 325.)

A curious practice was also introduced of anointing the cross, or, on occasion, any image or picture, with balm (balsamo) before presenting it for the veneration of the faithful. This custom was transferred to Rome, and we hear much of it in connection with the very ancient reliquary of the True Cross and also the supposed miraculous portrait of Our Saviour (acheiropoieta, i. e. not made by the hand of man) preserved in the Sancta Sanctorum of the Lateran, both of which recently, together with a multitude of other objects, have been examined and reported on by papal permission (see Grisar Die r?mische Kapelle Sancta Sanctorum und ihr Schatz, Fre?burg, 1908, 91, 92). The objects mentioned were completely covered in part with solidified balm. Pope Adrian I, in vindicating the veneration of images to Charlemagne, mentions this use of balm and defends it (Mansi, Concilia, XIII, 778).

The ceremony of the adoration of the Cross on Good Friday must have spread through the West in the seventh and eighth centuries, for it appears in the Gelasian Sacramentary and is presupposed in the Gregorian Antiphonarium. Both in Anglo-Saxon England and in the England of the later Middle Ages the "Creeping to the Cross" was a ceremony which made a deep impression on the popular mind. St. Louis of France: and other pious princes dressed themselves in haircloth and crept to the cross barefoot. At present, instead of creeping to the cross on hands and knees, three profound double genuflexions are made before kissing the feet of the crucifix, and the sacred ministers remove their shoes when performing the ceremony. The collection now commonly made on this occasion for the support of the Holy Places seems also to date from medieval times.

If you don't have a text for the Stations of the Cross, you can find the traditional ones composed by St. Alphonsus Liguori at Recta Ratio. Begin here and scroll up to take them in order. And don't pass up the links to the illustrations of each station.

I haven't found a site giving the text of the "Liturgical Service" for Good Friday either old or new. But the old tenebrae services used to be found here, although it seems to be down at the moment. Maybe you will be lucky later on in the day. Universalis is still an excellent site for finding a version (if not "the" version) of the Pauline rite Office of Readings which has replaced Tenebrae.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Maundy Thursday

Today is the first day of the Sacred Triduum. The wonderful old Catholic Encyclopaedia gives a short history of today's feast here. (I've been using Google's cached copies lately; the actual CE site must be getting fairly popular as it is quite difficult to access these days.)

It is usual on this day for the Chrism Mass to be held in each diocesan cathedral at which the holy oils for the coming year are consecrated. In this archdiocese for some reason it was celebrated last Monday.

The Mass liturgy includes the washing of the feet of twelve men by the priest in imitation of Christ at the Last Supper. In older times, it was not only the clergy who washed the feet of others, but also kings and other rulers and men of power. The following text is from "Chambers Book of Days". It includes descriptions and some of the old Maundy Thursday traditions in England and is followed by a description of the Roman ceremonies of his time. Chambers looks down his Protestant nose at the popish ceremonies to be sure, but it is still a fascinating look at the old ceremonies mostly gone now.

The king of England was formerly accustomed on Maundy Thursday to have brought before him as many poor men as he was years old, whose feet he washed with his own hands, after which his majesty's maunds, consisting of meat, clothes, and money, were distributed amongst them. Queen Elizabeth, when in her thirty-ninth year, performed this ceremony at her palace of Greenwich, on which occasion she was attended by thirty-nine ladies and gentlewomen. Thirty-nine poor persons being assembled, their feet were first washed by the yeomen of the laundry with warm water and sweet herbs, afterwards by the sub-almoner, and finally by the queen herself, kneeling; these various persons, the yeomen, the sub-almoner, and the queen, after washing each foot, marked it with the sign of the cross above the toes, and then kissed it. Clothes, victuals, and money were then distributed. This strange ceremonial, in which the highest was for a moment brought beneath the lowest, was last performed in its full extent by James II.

King William left the washing to his almoner; and such was the arrangement for many years afterwards. 'Thursday, April 15 [1731.], being Maundy Thursday, there was distributed at the Banqueting House, Whitehall, to forty-eight poor men and forty-eight poor women (the king George II's age being forty-eight), boiled beef and shoulders of mutton, and small bowls of ale, which is called dinner; after that large wooden platters of fish and loaves, viz. undressed, one large old ling, and one large dried cod; twelve red herrings and twelve white herrings, and four half-quarter loaves. Each person had one platter of this provision; after which were distributed to them shoes, stockings, linen and woollen cloth, and leather bags, with one penny, two-penny, threepenny, and fourpenny pieces of silver and shillings; to each about four pounds in value. His Grace the Lord Archbishop of York, Lord High Almoner, performed the annual ceremony of washing the feet of a certain number of poor in the Royal Chapel, Whitehall, which was formerly done by the kings themselves, in imitation of our Saviour's pattern of humility.' For a considerable number of years, the washing of the feet has been entirely given up; and since the beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria, an additional sum of money has been given in lieu of provisions. Some examples of the Maundy money recently used by English royalty are here represented.

In Austria, the old rite of the Fusswaschung is still kept up by the Emperor, under circumstances of great ceremony.

The ceremonies of Holy Thursday at Rome call for being described in detail.
Blessing the Oils: This ceremony takes place in St. Peter's during mass, the cardinal arch-priest, or a bishop in his stead, officiating. There are three varieties of the oil to be blessed. The first is the oil of catechumens, used in blessing baptism, in consecrating churches and altars, in ordaining priests, and in blessing and crowning sovereigns. The second is the oil used in administering extreme unction to the apparently dying. Third, the sacred chrism, composed of oil and balm of Gilead or of the West Indies, and which is used in confirmation, the consecration of bishops, patens, and chalices, and in the blessing of bells. The Roman Pontifical prescribes, that besides the bishop and the usual ministers, there should be present twelve priests, seven deacons, and seven sub-deacons, all habited in white vestments.

The bishop sits down before a table facing the altar, and exorcises and blesses the oil for the sick, which is brought in by a sub-deacon. He then proceeds with the mass, during which the balsam is brought in, and also the oil for the chrism and that for the catechumens, by two deacons. The bishop blesses the balsam and mixes it with some oil; he then breathes three times in the form of a cross over the vessel of the chrism, as do the twelve priests also. Next follows the blessing, and then the salutation of the chrism; the latter is made three times, by the bishop and each of the twelve priests in succession saying, ' Hail, holy chrism,' after which they kiss the vessel which contains it. The oil of catechumens is blessed and saluted in like manner; and with the remaining part of the mass the rite terminates. Roman Catholic writers adduce various authorities and traditions sanctioning these ceremonies.

Silencing the Bells: In the Sistine chapel, at the performance of mass, after the Gloria in Excelsis is sung, no bells are allowed to be rung in Rome, except at the Papal benediction, until the same canticle is sung in the Papal chapel on the following Saturday morning. In other words, all the bells in Rome are mute from about half-past eleven on Thursday morning till the same time on Saturday. During this period of two days, such is the force of the custom, that hand-bells, usually employed in hotels to be rung for dinner, are silent. So likewise bells rung for school remain mute. As a substitute for bells, it is the practice to use a kind of wooden clappers, or troccola. These are in the form of wooden boxes, with some interior mechanism turned by a handle, so as to make a disagreeable clattering noise. This species of troccole is said to have been used anciently by the Greeks. The silencing of the bells?a signal comfort to the ears in some parts of Rome?being prescribed in ancient rituals, is thus enforced as one of the old customs of the church.

Feet Washing at St. Peter's: The Pope, who officiates at this and other ceremonies, is this day dressed very plainly, in white, with a red cope, and a small white skull-cap; and instead of being carried he walks, for the object of the usages in which he is concerned is to typify the humility of Christ on the night of the Last Supper. After mass at the Sistine chapel, his Holiness, about one o'clock, proceeds to the balcony over the central door of St. Peter's, and there pronounces his general benediction. As this is repeated in grander style on Easter Sunday, there is usually no great concourse of spectators.

Descending to the church, the Pope proceeds to the northern transept, which is fitted up for the occasion. On the north is his chair of state; on the west and ranged along the draped wall, embellished with a tapestry picture of the Last Supper, is a bench or seat elevated on a platform so as to be conspicuous. The other parts of the transept are fitted with seats for distinguished persons, also for ladies who are suitably dressed and provided with tickets. Just as the Pope is about to take his seat, there enter from a side door thirteen bishops dressed in high white caps and white garments. Twelve of these represent the apostles, whose feet were washed by Christ, and the thirteenth represents an angel, who, according to the legend, appeared to Gregory the Great (590-601), while he was performing an act of charity to poor persons.

These thirteen bishops, who are all habited alike, take their seats gravely on the bench along the wall, and are the objects of general attention; for it is their feet which the Pope is about to wash. After some singing and reading of passages of Scripture, the Pope's cope is taken off, an embroidered apron is put on, and a towel is fastened to his waist by the assisting cardinal deacons; and then he washes and kisses the right foot of each. of the thirteen priests. It is to be understood that the washing is of the slightest possible kind. Little time is occupied. The ceremony terminates by each receiving from the Pope a towel and a nosegay, besides a gold and silver medal which are presented by the treasurer. The Pope now washes his hands, is re-invested in his red cope, and proceeds immediately to the next act of humiliation.

The Pope Serving at Supper: Conducted in procession from the northern transept, the Pope walks across the nave of St. Peter's to a stair which leads to a large apartment above the portico. Here a table is laid, as for a regular meal, the recipients of which are the thirteen priests who have just been honoured by having their feet washed. He gives them water to wash their hands, helps them to soup and other dishes, and pours out wine and water for them to drink. The plates are handed to him by prelates. During the ceremony, one of his chaplains reads prayers. He then blesses them, washes his hands, and departs. The priests who are the objects of these attentions are selected from different countries by the favour of diplomatic agents. Some of them, however, are Italians, selected by officials on the spot, the captain of the Pope's Swiss guard having the privilege of appointing one.

The Grand Penitentiary: Among the remarkable things in St. Peter's, are the number of confessionals, in which are seated clergymen ready to hear the confessions of those who apply to them, and who seem so many religious sentinels at their posts. Still more to accommodate applicants, the confessionals, as is seen by inscriptions on them, are for the French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, English, and. Greek, as well as Italian languages. Besides this usual arrangement, the Grand Cardinal Penitentiary sits in a confessional in the afternoon of Holy Thursday to give absolution for mortal sins which are beyond the sphere of ordinary confession, and which cannot other-wise be absolved. This day, the altars of St. Peter's are all stripped, the hundred lamps that usually burn round the tomb of St. Peter are extinguished, and with the chanting of the Miserere a general gloom prevails.

Washing the Feet of Pilgrims: The ceremonies connected with the so-called pilgrims, take place at the Trinit'a de' Pellegrini, an establishment adapted for accommodating pilgrims and situated in one of the populous parts of Rome. Poor persons are admitted to the benefit of the charity, who have come to visit the holy places from a greater distance than sixty miles, and who bring certificates from their bishop. The ceremonies on the evening of Holy Thursday consist in washing the feet of pilgrims of both sexes, the men in one place, and the women in another.

To the female department ladies only are admitted as spectators. After the feet-washing, each class is entertained at supper. The following account of the affair is by an eye-witness in the present year:? 'I went to the feet-washing of the male pilgrims about eight o'clock. On entering a passage, I saw a tremendous crush at the further end, where there was a door opening on a lower floor, in which the ceremony takes place. With some little squeezing, I got through the doorway, down a few steps, and found myself in a hot and close apartment, crowded nearly to suffocation. Along one end and side was a bench to be used as a seat, with a foot-board raised off the floor. A paling and guards kept back the crowd. In half an hour, a troop of poor-looking people, very much resembling the ragged beggars whom one sees in the streets of Rome, entered by a side door, and ranging themselves along the bench, proceeded to take off their shoes and stockings. Several priests now appear, and one of them having read some prayers, they join the body of operators.

These are gentlemen and persons in business in Rome, who form a confraternity devoted to this and other acts of charity. They are habited in a red jacket, a little cravat, and apron, and sit chatting and laughing till the tubs with warm water are brought in, and set, one before each poor person. They now begin the operation of washing, the general remark of the on-lookers being that to all appearance the feet had previously been cleaned, so that the act of voluntary humiliation does not seem particularly nauseous, nor does it last long. The priests get their hands washed by having hot water poured on them, along with a squeeze of lemon, and another prayer ends the ceremony, which, to say the least of it, is not pleasing.

The pilgrims afterwards adjourn to a hall, where, at long tables, the same operators wait upon them at supper. To my mind, the whole thing had a got-up look, and one wonders how it should be perpetuated. Similar ceremonies take place in the female department, where the operators are ladies of distinction. These ceremonies are repeated on Friday and Saturday evenings. The pilgrims arc lodged and otherwise entertained during this period, and are dismissed with small money presents.'

At Rome, on the evening of this day, the shops of sausage-makers, candle-makers, and pork-dealers are decorated and illuminated in a fantastic way. The most prominent object in each is a picture of the Virgin and Child, enshrined amidst flowers and candles, as on a sort of altar. Festoons of flowers and evergreens are otherwise stuck about, and there is a profusion of patches of divers colours on the pork, candles, and other articles on the shelves: These grotesque illuminations draw crowds of strangers and others to witness them; the shops so lighted up doing apparently a little more business than usual.

Queen Elizabeth still distributes the Maundy money at a different Anglican cathedral each year, although no one's feet are washed. This year's ceremony was at Liverpool Cathedral. This site has some pictures if you click on the "Maundy Monarch" link in the middle of the page.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Our Lady of the Atonement, one of the Texas parishes in the Anglican Use of the Catholic Church has recently released a DVD of the Anglican Use Mass. My copy arrived today. The Anglican Use people are very fortunate indeed. This is the way the liturgy ought to be celebrated. It does have a few infelicities of language, thanks to the ICEL which provided a (very) few portions of the liturgy. (The Anglican Use is technically, so I'm told, a usage of the Novus Ordo of the Roman Rite.) But the overwhelming effect is wonderful. And the technical quality of the recording is excellent also.

You can order your copy here. A nicely produced pamphlet containing the full text of this Mass is included in the DVD. But you can can obtain a copy of The Book of Divine Worship containing the text of all the Anglican Use liturgies, including the daily offices, at the same website.

(The photograph at the top is of Our Lady of the Atonement but is not from the DVD. This shows it decorated for Christmas but the church and the clergy are the same.)

Baseball in Afghanistan

A great story. (As filtered down to me from the Irish Elk and the Irish Eagle. Gratias ago vobis.)

Sen. John Kerry, Catholic Candidate for President

Sort of. I guess that's what you call a follower of Pope Pius XXIII. Only fitting, I suppose that someone with as many positions on the same issue as he has should have eleven more Piuses than the rest of us. Fun stuff if you've a strong stomach for idiocy. You can read it here and some follow up here.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Paenitet Me Pecasse

Alan Phipps of the Ad Altare Dei blog has taken issue with an article I recently recommended here.

His point respects the matter of the archbishop's legal correctness and his point is well taken. (And he's nicer than I am, avoiding the whiny sarcasm that I should have outgrown years ago but didn't.) I give you his comments:

I wanted to point out one issue of clarification about your post about
Mahony asking people to stand after the Agnus Dei. The article you quoted
in the Lay Catholic Mission is a little misleading. Kirk Kramer suggests

'Section 43 of the new General Instruction stipulates that the
congregation should kneel after the Agnus Dei, at the moment when the
priest holds up the Host and says, "This is the Lamb of God, Who takes
away the sins of the world." But in his October 24 letter in Tidings,
Cardinal Mahony wrote, "in this archdiocese, the faithful stand from the
Our Father until all have received Communion."'

But this is misleading because it isn't fully quoting Section 43 of the
General Instruction and implies that what Mahony is doing is somehow
contrary to the GIRM, when in fact, it isn't, regardless of our opinion of
it. Section 43 actually states:

"In the dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel
beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the
Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by
reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or
some other good reason. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound
bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration. The faithful kneel
after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise."

The option to kneel after the Agnus Dei is an option that the diocesan
bishop has the authority to regulate. Kneeling at this particular point
is a valid variation within the US, yet it wasn't even mentioned in the
previous General Instruction.

Concerning the point about kneeling after Communion, Mahony has been much
more rigid, though he did inform the pastor of my home parish that
communicants may kneel immediately after receiving, but only briefly (I
cede that it's somewhat of a half-baked compromise). But I am still very
happy to kneel during the Consecration, which even the Cardinal asked us
to do at his own Cathedral mass.

Now, I knew that provision existed. (For those who would like to see it in its entirety it can be found as a link to a pdf file in about the middle of this page. Look for the "GIRM".) I read the article with that provision in mind and as it seemed to me the thrust of Kirk's article was other than the legality of the Archbishop's command I didn't notice that Kirk didn't mention it. It seemed to me that Kirk was discussing the wisdom of the command rather than the legality.

In any event, the long and the short of it is, Alan is correct in what he says.

Having gotten myself wound up about kneeling, I would like to make a couple of other points, for which, I hasten to add, Alan is in no way responsible. Nor Kirk either, for that matter.

It seems to me that there is a moral issue also. So far as I can tell that provision not only serves no good purpose, it also causes a sincere problem of conscience for many people. (If I, who don't get around all that much, know several who've expressed such a problem, surely there must be many more?) Trifling with the consciences of people for whom Christ died is not itself a trifle.

I have seen more than one article explaining the value of standing instead of kneeling. They impress me as mendacious. Calling it our real tradition because (according to the author) it is older is a misuse of language. Standing before the Blessed Sacrament is not our tradition. Whatever it may have been a thousand years ago, tradition is what was handed down to us; standing at such times was not handed down to us. Our tradition is kneeling. Anything else is an archaeologism, the sort of thing frowned upon by Mediator Dei.

That standing is a reverent posture is true. That standing is a posture more reverent than kneeling is untrue on the face of it. And yet some of its promoters claim this.* This seems to me not only mendacious but preposterous. If they were to tell some group with no knowledge of worship that standing was "the" reverent posture it would be an inconsequential statement. But to tell a kneeling people that standing is a more reverent posture deserves a horse-laugh.

The most astonishing aspect of the whole thing is that anyone takes these people seriously.

*As in several other posts in this blog, you'll have to take my word for it. I don't have a cite for you. I didn't know I was going to ride this particular hobby horse today and I don't even have any printed references. But I have read such things; surely you have too? That stuff is out there.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, also called the Second Sunday in Passiontide in the traditional Roman Rite, which commemorates Our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey and being hailed by the people with shouts of triumph. Nevertheless, the Gospel of the day is taken from the 26th and 27th chapters of St. Matthew, relating Our Lord's Passion. The Catholic Encyclopedia's discussion of the day is here.

In places where palms cannot be found, branches of olive, box elder, spruce or other trees are used and the "Cæremoniale episcoporum", II, xxi, 2 suggests that in such cases at least little flowers or crosses made of palm be attached to the olive boughs. In Rome olive branches are distributed to the people, while the clergy carry palms frequently dried and twisted into various shapes. In parts of Bavaria large swamp willows, with their catkins, and ornamented with flowers and ribbons, were used.

In the Byzantine-Ruthenian Rite branches of pussy willows are distributed, sometimes in place of palms, sometimes in addition.

Friday, April 02, 2004

2 April -- Friday in Passion Week: Our Lady of Sorrows

In the traditional calendar this is one of the two feasts of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The feast is associated particularly with the Servite Order. Their basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows in Chicago was my mother's family's home parish many years ago.

Quite a few places on the web provide devotions to Our Lady of Sorrows. This one quotes St. Alphonsus Ligouri and the Ambrosian Rite liturgy. The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows is here and the Stabat Mater Dolorosa here. A pair of litanies to Our Lady of Sorrows can be found here.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

The Budget Crysal Cathedral III

Crux News points out today that the Ave Maria University has taken down its photos of the proposed new glass chapel. Does this mean changed minds? Regrouping to confront annoyed donors? Or just hurt feelings?

In memetipso juravi:
Egressa est de ore meo justitia,
verbum, quod non revertetur;
quia mihi curvabitur omne genu,
et jurabit omnis lingua.

--Is. 45:23

As some may know, in this benighted Archdiocese, our most reverend ordinary, alone among his American colleagues, has commanded that everyone at the "Ecce Agnus Dei" will continue to stand in the face of the Son of God. It is wonderful that he can take so much time out of his busy day dodging the grand jury and side-stepping the district attorney to afflict the consciences of the devout.

My friend Kirk Kramer has an excellent article in the lastest number of the Los Angeles Lay Mission analyzing His Eminence's most recent venture into liturgical choreography. You can find it here. Highly recommended.

The sidebar to this article is largely excerpted from Cardinal Ratzinger's The Spirit of the Liturgy It is a consolation for those of us in partibus infidelium:

Cardinal Ratzinger himself, in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, has addressed the theology of kneeling. Here are a few passages from the chapter, "The Body and the Liturgy."

"Kneeling does not come from any culture -- it comes from the Bible and its knowledge of God. The central importance of kneeling in the Bible can be seen in a very concrete way. The word proskynein [to kneel before] alone occurs fifty-nine times in the New Testament, twenty-four of which are in the Apocalypse, the book of the heavenly Liturgy, which is presented to the Church as the standard for her own Liturgy....

After considering several Biblical passages, Cardinal Ratzinger continues: "I have lingered over these texts, because they bring to light something important. In the two passages that we looked at most closely, the spiritual and bodily meanings of proskynein are really inseparable. The bodily gesture itself is the bearer of the spiritual meaning, which is precisely that of worship. Without the worship, the bodily gesture would be meaningless, while the spiritual act must of its very nature, because of the psychosomatic unity of man, express itself in the bodily gesture.

"The two aspects are united in the one word, because in a very profound way they belong together. When kneeling becomes merely external, a merely physical act, it becomes meaningless. On the other hand, when someone tries to take worship back into the purely spiritual realm and refuses to give it embodied form, the act of worship evaporates, for what is purely spiritual is inappropriate to the nature of man. Worship is one of those fundamental acts that affect the whole man. That is why bending the knee before the presence of the living God is something we cannot abandon....

"There is a story that comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers, according to which the devil was compelled by God to show himself to a certain monk. The devil looked black and ugly, with frighteningly thin limbs, but most strikingly, he had no knees. The inability to kneel is seen as the very essence of the diabolical.

"...The expression used by Saint Luke to describe the kneeling of Christians (theis ta gonata) is unknown in classical Greek. We are dealing here with a specifically Christian word. With that remark, our reflections turn full circle to where they began. It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture -- insofar as it is a culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the one before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the intrinsically necessary gesture. The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core. Where it has been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in fellowship with the apostles and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos, indeed in union with Jesus Christ Himself."

Thank God for the indult Mass on Sundays.