Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Fr. William Doyle, S.J.

I wrote a bit about Fr. Willie Doyle on this site last year, as did Mark Sullivan in this excellent piece.

Here is a little more about him from this site dedicated to him:
Father William Doyle was born at Dalkey, Co Dublin on 3rd March, 1873, the youngest of seven children. He was ordained as a Jesuit in 1907 and volunteered to serve as a Military Chaplain at the front in 1914. He was appointed to the 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers, 16th (Irish) Division, in November 1915. His first experience of battle was at Loos where he was caught in the German poison gas attack on 26 April. He ministered to the soldiers in the midst of the battle, displaying a total disregard for his own safety. He was mentioned in dispatches but his Colonel’s recommendation for the Military Cross was not accepted because he had not been long enough at the front. He was presented with the parchment of merit of the 49th Brigade.

In May 1916, he had a lucky escape: "I was standing in a trench, quite a long distance from the firing line, a spot almost as safe as Dalkey (his home village) itself, talking to some of my men when we heard in the distance the scream of a shell......none of us had calculated that this gentleman had made up his mind to drop into the trench itself, a couple of paces from where I stood. What really took place in the next ten seconds I cannot say. I was conscious of a terrific explosion and the thud of falling stones and debris. I thought the drums of my ears were split by the crash, and I believe I was knocked down by the concussion, but when I jumped to my feet I found that the two men who had been standing at my left hand, the side the shell fell, were stretched on the ground dead, though I think I had time to give them absolution and anoint them. The poor fellow on my right was lying badly wounded in the head; but I myself , though a bit stunned and dazed by the suddenness of the whole thing, was absolutely untouched, though covered with dirt and blood."

The reason for this reminiscence is that Roman Catholic Books has now reprinted his biography, "Merry in God". It can be ordered here.

Not in the Calendar of Saints

Not by a long shot. But it is his birthday: Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill's, I mean. He seems to have his own website here with his own domain name and everything. (And after a short review, I wouldn't blame you if you thought I got it wrong about him not being in the Kalendarium Sanctorum. But I've checked. He isn't there.)

In high school I received his multi-volume history The Second World War as a Christmas present (I'd asked for it, believe it or not) and devoured it. Well, perhaps, slogged through it might be more descriptive. In any event, WWII was the most significant event in my parent's lives and I was fascinated with the topic. In Churchill's book I meant to get the complete facts right from the source. A recent review says I might have saved my time for something a little racier.

In fact, as Reynolds makes abundantly clear, Churchill’s The Second World War is not history at all and much of it was not even written by Churchill himself. As often as not the reviewers who lauded the superb Churchillian prose of the book were unknowingly complementing the brilliant Sir William Deakin or the more mundane General Pownall and Commodore Allen or the even more mundane Air Chief Marshal Garrod and, most surprisingly of all, the cabinet secretary, Sir Norman Brook. Churchill selected the documents, choosing those that suited his line, omitting those that did not and sometimes altering others to improve their message. He dictated a series of recollections of varying accuracy and then left it to his assistants to join up these products with narrative prose. The resulting patchwork quilt was then chopped and changed, often at breathtaking speed to meet publishing deadlines, to take account of the surrounding circumstances in which Churchill, as leader of the opposition and then as prime minister again, operated. Criticism of Eisenhower the general was toned down so as not to offend Eisenhower the president. Stalin was shown always to have kept his word because Churchill was hoping to convene a postwar summit meeting with him.

There was still nobody like him. Who else could've bluffed Hitler for two and half years, turned the Dunkirk debacle into a PR triumph, and manouevered so many things his way in the desperate circumstances of the early years of the second world war? Happy birthday, Sir Winston, wherever you are.

St. Cuthbert Mayne

30 November also commemorates the day of martyrdom of St. Cuthbert Mayne, one of the 40 martyrs of England and Wales canonized in 1970. He was the first of the "seminary priests", i.e., the priests trained abroad at colleges outside England, to be martyred. This is his story as related by Fr. Henry Bowden, C.O. in "Mementoes of the Martyrs and Confessors of England and Wales":

He was born near Barnstaple in Devon in 1544 and was brought up by his uncle, a schismatic priest, who had him ordained in the Church of England before he was twenty. At Oxford Mayne came under the influence of Gregory Martin and Edmund Campion; these two kept in touch with him from Douay, he abjured Protestantism, and in 1573 was himself entered at that college. After ordination he returned to England (the fifteenth missionary priest sent from Douay), and was stationed at Golden, Francis Tregian’s house near Truro.

Here he passed as the estate steward, but his priestly ministry lasted only a year. The sheriff of Cornwall, Richard Grenville (of the “Revenge”), suddenly descended on Tregian’s house and searched it; sixteen people were arrested, among them Cuthbert Mayne. When the searchers beat on the door of his room, he had opened it and the sheriff had seized him by the coat, exclaiming “What art thou?” And Mayne replied, “I am a man”. But round his neck was found an “Agnus Dei”: it suggested that he was something else as well as a man – a priest.

At the Launceston assizes Mayne was indicted for treason under various heads, including importing and publishing a papal document and celebrating Mass. The evidence was very insufficient, and one of the judges had qualms about it. So the case was re-considered in London, but the Privy Council directed that the verdict of guilty should stand. On the day before that set for his execution, Mayne was offered his life if he would renounce his religion, or at least swear that the queen was supreme head of the Church in England: he refused peremptorily, confirming his refusal by a sign of the cross and a kiss upon the bible. The next morning, 30 November 1577, he was dragged on a sledge to Launceston market-place, where he was not allowed to address the people. At the last moment he was invited to implicate Mr Tregian and Sir John Arundell (there were those who had their eye on these gentlemen’s estates); Mayne replied, “I know nothing of them except that they are good and godly men; and of the things laid to my charge, no one but myself knows anything.”

A year later Edmund Campion wrote to Gregory Martin: “We all thank you for your account of Cutherbert’s martyrdom; it gave many of us real religious joy. Wretch that I am, how that novice has outdistanced me. May he be favourable to his old friend and tutor!”

30 November - St. Andrews Day

Andrew, disciple of Jesus Christ, is believed to have travelled as a missionary through the Celtic community of Asiatic and European Scythia thence through Thrace, Macedonia, and Epirus into Achaia where, in the city of Patra, he suffered martyrdom by crucifixion, at the hands of the Romans, in 70 A.D. He was fastened by cords to a diagonal cross and left to endure a lingering death by starvation and thirst.

The body of St. Andrew was exhumed in the fourth century by the Emperor Constantine and removed to Constantinople . Thirty years after Constantine’s death in 368 A.D., a pious Greek monk, named Regulus, or Rule, is said to have conveyed St. Andrew’s remains [or a portion of them] to Scotland and deposited them on the coast of Fife where he built a church and where, in medieval times, was raised a great cathedral in the midst of a town named after the saint. St. Andrew was henceforth regarded as the patron saint of Scotland and his cross, white on a dark blue background, serves as the flag of Scotland. St. Andrew’s day is November 30.

The celebration of St. Andrew’s day was discontinued in Scotland after the Reformation; but, curiously enough, it has been assiduously observed by Scottish emigrants abroad, particularly by the friendly societies named after the saint which were founded in the nineteenth century in foreign parts to help indigent Scottish emigrants.
--taken from George Emmerson's indispensable "Scotland Through Her Country Dances"

More on St. Andrew's Day.

Friday, November 26, 2004


An exquisite meal. . .my gravy, but Mary did the rest. After my ill-advised third helping of same I proceeded to move slowly and carefully to the television set to watch . . . . .baseball.

If you'll cast your minds back to one of the earlier chapters in this enterprise, you'll recall that I missed not only the entire World Series but also games 4 through 7 of the Red Sox/Yankees play-off series. My friend Gary has very kindly given me the loan of these very tapes and I have been rationing them carefully to last. No more than one per day. This is making it an excellent Thanksgiving weekend. One can only pity those relegated to that other game being shown on live television. You know, the one very like rugby, only with full body armour and the rules carefully altered to suck out all the skill and athleticism. And should any remain, large blocks of time where nothing happens are inserted to insure that boredom remains a constant.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Heart of St. Blog's Stops Beating

A visit this morning to Gerard's Catholic Blog for Lovers brought the very sad news that Gerard has died. You won't see it as a post on his blog, but if you check the over 60 additions to the "comments" on the last post (it tells about his then upcoming trip to the Amish country) you'll see the details. His brother reports that his heart just stopped beating at about 3 a.m. last Thursday morning.

Over the years Gerard and I met on several Catholic e-mail lists. And soon his own websites became known to me as a treasure houses of information and inspiration. He's had a few over the years. This one is still up at the moment. Visit and enjoy while you can.

And, of course, Gerard was in on the ground floor of St. Blog's. His "list" is still the definitive roll of parishioners.

His funeral arrangements are posted in the "comments" box listed above.

Inclina, Domine, aurem tuam ad preces nostras, quibus mericordiam tuam supplices deprecamur : ut animam famuli tui Gerardi fratris nostri, quam de hoc saeculo migrari jussisti, in pacis ac lucis regione constituas, et Sanctorum tuorum jubeas esse consortem. Per Domininum nostrum. Amen.

Incline Thine ears to our prayers, O Lord, which supplicantly beg Thy mercy, that the soul of Thy servant and our brother Gerard which Thou has called from this world, Thou wouldst place in the region of peace and light and command that he be joined to the company of Thy saints. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Hope for the old California Missions

California's 21 Spanish missions, crumbling from age and neglect, would receive $10 million for repairs under a bill approved Wednesday by the U.S. House of Representatives. More from the Times here.

Some of the missions are in very bad shape indeed. Mission San Miguel probably needs help the most. That is San Miguel at the top of this post; the picture shows the cracks in the facade caused by the recent earthquake. Mission San Miguel's website can be found here. It includes information on how to make a donation to the preservation of the mission.

The missions are at the heart of California's history, the pompous twaddle from the militantly anti-Catholic "Americans United" notwithstanding.

The California Missions Foundation, founded to help maintain the fabric of the missions, has a site here. The California Mission Studies Association has a collection of fascinating links. This very complete site containing potted histories of all the missions was probably designed for children. (Hence the links to definitions of the "hard" words, such as "founded".) But it also has links to realaudio sound files presenting the music of the missions as it would have been sung two centuries ago.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

St. Hugh of Lincoln

Today is the feast of St Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, both in some English calendars and in the Carthusian calendar, of which Order he was a member. The illustration above shows his cathedral in Lincoln, although it has been much altered since St Hugh's own 13th century. A long and detailed biography can be found here, courtesy of the ever-reliable old Catholic Encyclopaedia. A chattier telling of his life can be found here at the site of an Episcopal church named after him. A taste:

[St. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln,] also refused to appoint a royal favorite to a meaningless but lucrative post. Henry [II of England] was furious, and summoned him to his presence. He came, and Henry turned away his face and would not speak, but by way of ignoring his presence took out a torn glove and began to sew it. At last Hugh said, "How like you are to your relations at Falaise." The king might have resented this allusion to the humble birth of William the Conqueror's mother, the daughter of a glove-maker, but he only laughed, and the quarrel was made up.

Riots against the Jews broke out in England at the time of the Third Crusade. In defence of the persecuted, Hugh faced armed mobs in Lincoln, Stamford and Northampton and compelled their submission. Hugh refused to raise money for the foreign wars of King Richard the Lion-Heart, calmed the king's rage with a kiss, and persisted in his refusal: this was the first clear example on record of the refusal of a money-grant demanded directly by the crown, and an important legal precedent. Richard said, "If all bishops were like my lord of Lincoln, not a prince among us could raise his head against them."

His relations with King John were less happy. John showed him an amulet, which he said was sacred and would preserve him. Hugh replied, "Do not put your trust in lifeless stone, but only in the living and heavenly stone, our Lord Jesus Christ." The following Easter he preached at length on the duties of kings, and the king slipped out partway through.

By A Reactionary

Smoke rolls in stinking, suffocating wrack
On Shakespeare’s land, turning the green one black;
The crowds that once to harvest home would come
Hope for no harvest and possess no home,
While poor old tramps that like a little ale,
In natural procession pass to gaol;
Because the world must, like the tramp, move on,
There does not seem much else that can be done.
As Lord Vangelt said in the house of Peers:
“None of us want Reaction.” (Tory cheers.)

So doubtful doctors punch and prod and prick
A man thought dead; and when there’s not a kick
Left in the corpse, no twitch or faint contraction,
The doctors say: “See. . . there is no Reaction.”
--G. K. Chesterton (1925)

Rethinking my Ralphs [Supermarket] Clubcard

The article focuses exclusively on the U.K., and, indeed, Tesco. But the technology is the same on this side of the Atlantic.

Imagine you walk into a Tesco store wearing a jumper with an RFID chip woven into its fabric. Tesco knows who you are. Because you also use a store card, it knows exactly what you have bought on any given hour of any given day. It knows you only shop in the evenings, probably after work; so you will probably be tired, maybe more susceptible to offers. It knows you like chocolate. How long before the television is programmed to talk to you and sell you exactly what you are most ready to buy?

Is such a relationship between surveillance and shopping far-fetched? So great is supermarkets’ knowledge of their customers that, as Jessica Williams writes in her book 50 Facts That Should Change The World, they now know more about you than the government does. So, when the government looked to develop its proposed ID cards, who did it turn to for advice? Tesco.

Last year Tesco was secretly trialling RFID tags in Gillette shaving products in a store in Cambridge. A camera was placed above the shelf where the razors were, and everyone who picked up the products was photographed. Only a protest by members of the public outraged at this invasion of their privacy got the trial stopped.

Earlier this year shopper Lynn Pierce went to her local Tesco to buy some flowers for her mother’s grave, using her Tesco loyalty card when she paid. At home two days later she answered a knock at the door only to find the police standing on her doorstep. Someone monitoring Tesco’s in store CCTV had seen Mrs Pierce put her scarf into her handbag. Wrongly assuming she was shoplifting, Tesco found her home address from data stored in her loyalty card account. It was only when the police inspected the CCTV footage themselves and saw that she had entered the store wearing the scarf that the mistake was realised. ‘I’m disgusted that information from my store card was passed on to the police and used in this way,’ Pierce later told a reporter.

Some might not see the problem. ‘If supermarkets want to sell me things,’ you might think, ‘better if it is more tailored to what I actually buy. If they understand my shopping habits and respond to them more accurately, I’m more likely to get what I want.’ But what if your shopping habits happen to be the same as a terrorist’s? Would you also be happy to know that following the 9/11 terrorist attacks a grocery chain in the US voluntarily handed over all its loyalty card records to the FBI, without telling its customers? Apparently, the US authorities had reviewed loyalty card transactions made by the 9/11 hijackers and created a profile of the ideal terrorist’s shopping preferences. By comparing this pattern with the pattern of every shopper at the helpful grocery store they were able to see which shoppers were potential terrorists.

Lots more at the link above. And a nice riff on the entire concept of the "supermarket" can be found in The Spectator a few weeks ago. The link is here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Nolite conformari huic saeculo

Can one be more "out of it" than I? Less au courant? It may be possible. Both entries in the competition occured this morning and it looks like they're running neck and neck.

The first is my own. In reading this morning's paper I chanced upon two short articles right next to each other. (Not, be in known, in the "Entertainment" section.) One had to do with Tom Cruise the other with Tom Hanks. And, behold, the light shone: Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks are not the same person. They are two separate individuals. I had up until this morning not fully realized this. Now, it's possible that there is someone out there who sees fewer new movies than I do, reads less about them, and knows less about film stars. But, seriously. Is it likely? Even the tiniest smidgen of additional interest in current films and surely the presence of two separate last names would have registered. This may be lack of interest on an Homeric scale.

The second entry is from a relative of ours who, since he/she is unaware that he/she is in this competition and may, in fact, not want the publicity attendant upon winnning, shall remain nameless. My wife brought me an e-mail this morning from this person and read me the question: "Have you ever heard of a company called "E-bay"? A serious question and serious competition for the Head-in-the-Clouds trophy. I mean to say. How can you not have heard about Ebay even if you actively didn't want to know about on line auctions? This person has e-mail. Surely he or she gets the spam?

This is just too close for me to call. I may have to wait for further pop cultural lacunae to develop. Watch this space.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Today isn't a Sunday

And, as it's a Monday, today is the commemoration of All the Faithful Departed of the Carmelite Order.

The old collect for the Discalced Carmelite Order:

Deus, veniae largitor, et humanae salutis amator : quaesumus clementiam tuam ; ut nostrae Congregationis Fratres et Sorores, qui ex hoc saeculo transierunt, beata
Maria semper Virgine intercedente cum omnibus Sanctis tuis, ad perpetuae beatitudinis consortium pervenire concedas. Per Dominum. Amen.

O God, the generous dispensor of forgiveness and lover of the salvation of mankind, we beg Thy mercy that Thou wouldst grant that the brothers and sisters of our Congregation who have passed out of this age may, by the intercession of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, come to join the company of the eternally blessed. Through Our Lord. Amen.

The old collect from the Liturgy of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, as formerly used by the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance:

Inclina, Domine, aurem tuam ad preces nostras, quibus misericordiam tuam supplices deprecamur : ut animas Fratrum et Sororum ordinis nostri, quas de hoc saeculo migrare jussisti, in pacis ac lucis regione constituas, et Sanctorum tuorum jubeas esse consortes. Per Dominum. Amen.

"Lord, give ear to our prayers as we humbly beseech Thy mercy that the souls of the Brothers and Sisters of our Order, who at Thy bidding have departed from this world, may be established in the abode of peace and light, and may at Thy command have entrance into the company of Thy saints : through our Lord." Amen.

If it hadn't been a Sunday. . .

. . .yesterday would have been the feast of All Saints of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. At least in the Carmelite calendar it would have been.

Laudemus omnes Virginem,
Quae, sub figura candidae
Nubis,Prophetae splenduit
Carmeli in alto vertice.

But instead it was the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, this year the penultimate Sunday after Pentecost. Advent is in two weeks.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Friday the 13th. . .

. . .comes on a Saturday this month.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Armistice Day -- Remembrance Day -- Veteran's Day

This is Veteran’s Day or Remembrance Day depending on where you are. It used to be Armistice Day in the United States, commemorating the end of the war-to-end-wars, World War I, The Great War. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month it all came to a halt.

The next day they moved forward again and supported the New Zealanders in the assault on Le Quesnoy. The brigade car was the first to enter the town, where the Colonel, to his intense embarrassment, was soundly kissed by a grateful old woman. He was so unnerved that on his return to head-quarters he poured himself out a tumblerful of neat gin and started to drink, thinking it was water. His staff watched him with amusement. Expressions of astonishment, anger, defiance, and gratification chased each other in succession across his face as without a word, he emptied the tumbler.

Alone 2XX went forward into the Forest of Mormal. It was here, on the 8th of November, that news was received that Merredew had been killed four days earlier at Moen on the Scheldt.

Very early on the last morning Shadbolt was watching the men dragging the heavy howitzers into a little clearing in the wood. The day was grey and overcast and the raindrops from a recent shower were dripping sadly off the trees. Above them a few pigeons, disturbed by the movements and cries of the men, circled and wheeled. A despatch rider rode up and handed him a message form. 'Hostilities will cease at 11 a.m. to-day. A.A.A. No firing will take place after this hour.' He sat down on the stump of a tree. In any case, the order did not affect them. The enemy was already out of range, and they could move no further.

This then, was the end. Visions of the early days, their hopes and ambitions, swam before his eyes. He saw again his pre-historic howitzer in the orchard at Festubert, and Alington's long legs moved towards him through the trees. He was back with the Australians in their dug-out below Pozieres. He saw the long slope of the hill at Heninel, covered with guns, ammunition dumps, tents and dug-outs. Ypres, the Salient, Trois Tours, St Julien—the names made unforgettable pictures in his mind. Happy days at Beugny and Beaussart, they were gone and the bad ones with them. Hugh was gone, and Tyler and little Rawson; Sergeant Powell, that brave old man; Elliot and James and Johnson—the names of his dead gunners strung themselves before him. This was the very end. What good had it all been? To serve what purpose had they all died? For the moment he could find no answer. His brain was too numb with memories.
'Mr Straker.'
'You can fall the men out for breakfast. The war is over.'
'Very good, sir.'
Overhead the pigeons circled and wheeled.

--Lt.-Col. F. Lushington

11 November 1918.
... the grim business of war itself went on as usual, right up to 11 a.m., and, at one or two points along the line, even beyond. Thus a captain commanding an English cavalry squadron which took the Belgian village of Erquelinnes wrote that morning:
"At 11.15 it was found necessary to end the days of a Hun machine-gunner on our front who would keep on shooting. The armistice was already in force, but there was no alternative. Perhaps his watch was wrong but he was probably the last German killed in the war—a most unlucky individual!"

Elsewhere on the British front an officer commanding a battery of six-inch howitzers was killed at one minute past eleven—at which his second-in-command ordered the entire battery to go on firing for another hour against the silent German lines.
But generally, any firing still going on ended on the last second of the tenth hour, sometimes with droll little ceremonies—as on the British front near Mons, where another and more fortunate German machine-gunner blazed off his last belt of ammunition during the last minute of the war and then, as the hour struck, stood up on his parapet, removed his steel helmet, bowed politely to what was now the ex-enemy opposite, and disappeared.

The British division on whose front that little incident took place had lost, during that one final week of the war, two officers killed and twenty-six wounded, and among the other ranks one hundred and seventeen killed, six hundred and ninety-three wounded and sixty-one missing. Small wonder that its historian recorded 'no cheering and very little outward excitement' as peace came.

--Gordon Brook-Shepherd


I forgot to give proper credits above. Both texts are from "The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes" (A great read. It claims to survey all of military history but, in fact, relies overwhelmingly on the British military. Nevertheless, easy to get lost in for an hour or two.) The first picture shows President Bush at last year's Arlington Cemetery ceremony. The second shows Remembrance Day at the cenotaph memorial in London with the band, pipes and drums of the Royal Irish and the pipes and drums of the London Irish Rifles, recognizable by their piper's cloaks lined in St Patrick's blue.

Finally a repeat from last year, taken from Johnstone's "Orange, Green, and Khaki: The Story of the Irish Regiments in the Great War 1914-1918". After the armistice:

Four selected divisions occupied part of Germany before Christmas – the Guards, the 29th Regular, 15th (Scottish) and 1st Canadian Divisions. The Irish Guards crossed the frontier with their pipers playing ‘St. Patrick’s Day’, while the pipers of the Leinster Regiment played ‘Come Back to Erin'. However, it was on the Rhine that a triumphal crossing was staged. The Canadians, Scots and Regulars were to cross Rhine bridges simultaneously. The Scots marched to ‘Scotland the Brave’ across a bridge of boats at Mulheim. At Cologne the Regulars, led by the fusilier battalions of 86 Brigade, which included 1st Dublins, marched to ‘The British Grenadiers’. Behind them in 88 Brigade the pipers of the effervescent Leinsters, their saffron kilts making a splash of colour, played the rollicking ‘Paddy Maginty’s Goat’. Later, the Guards Division made its imposing entry. And as the Irish Guards swung into the Hohenzollern Ring, fittingly their pipers played ‘Brian Boru’.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

George Bush and the Scots-Irish

A fascinating look at the Scots-Irish as a distinct ethnic group in this country and their effect on the re-election of President Bush can be found here in the on-line edition of the Wall Street Journal. I'm neither politcally nor sociologically astute enough to know if his analyses are accurate. But they certainly sound plausible.

And I have no idea how they got that drawing of me; why, I'm not even Scots-Irish, using the precise definition of the term.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Put Not Your Trust in Princes Dept.

Did anyone else notice this one? The Drudge Report referenced it. Don't laugh, now. It's kind of pathetic actually.

Iraq Again

PM Scott Taylor of the 1st Batt. Black Watch plays his pipes on the Jurf-Al-Sukhr Bridge, in Iraq last Sunday during a memorial for three members of his regiment killed by a suicide bomber the previous week. (Pipers on the web who heard it on television in Britain say it was "Flowers of the Forest".) The Black Watch is standing in at the "triangle of death" for American troops needed for the push on Fallujah.
There is no shortage of news articles on line covering the Watch: here, here, and here for a start.

Now that American troops are advancing into Fallujah, there are stories on the net from the major news sources. But the television news seems only mildly interested. I have been turning channels this afternoon and there is nothing on the major networks. The cable news outlets have news updates at the usual intervals. So far as I can tell, though, the battle seems to be taking a back seat to the Scott Peterson jury. I would have thought that, if nothing else, a battle would be more "televisual" than waiting for a jury to come to a decision. Guess not.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Today's feast is that of a contemporary of St Therese of the Child Jesus and a fellow nun of Carmel. A simple but very beautifully executed website in her honor can be found here. The same web-author provides the propers for her office here and the propers for the Mass in her honor here.

There is a short biography here.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

The Quiet Man

. . .was on again the other night on TCM. In a fit of idle curiousity, I looked them up. The Marquess of Queensbury Rules, I mean. You can find them on-line here. John Wayne and Victor MacLaglen seem to have ignored most, if not all, of them. You would've thought some of those wagers would have been contested.

[If you haven't seen it, a detailed story line can be found here.]

Sunday 7 November

Today is the 23d Sunday after Pentecost in the traditional Roman calendar, the 22d after Trinity in the old Carmelite Rite and in the traditional Anglican calendar. Although it isn't celebrated since it is Sunday, in the current Discalced Carmelite calendar it is also the feast of the Blessed Francisco Palau y Quer, O.C.D.

Bl. Francisco was a 19th century Spanish Carmelite who was serially exiled (vulgo dicta: "kicked from pillar to post") by the anti-clericals of his age. In exile he founded 2 third order regular communities, one for brothers and one for sisters. Two short articles on his spirituality can be found here and here.

[If anyone is wondering how yesterday went, the bronchia/lungs/what-have-you were obedient and held up long enough to play the event. The blowing was fairly steady and there was no major break-down; but the playing was pedestrian and not very musical. I wasn't pleased. But apparently Bl. Josefa caused my people to hear something other than what I played. They were delighted and payed me more than our agreed upon fee. Gratias ago tibi, beata Josefa.]

Distributism. . .

. . .sustainable agriculture, rural life, the family farm, organic/whole foods and a host of other good things were discussed at the Terra Madre 2004 conference in Turin this year. Robert Waldrop's long but fascinating report appears in the archives of the Caelum & Terra mailing list. It can be found here.

"It is impossible to know what the farmer's real work is: whether it is to plow, sow, and mow, or whether, at the same time, it is to eat and drink fresh produce, have children and breathe freely, since all these things are closely connected and when he does one of them he completes another. Everything is labor, and nothing is labor, in the social sense of the term, it is his life." Jean Giono, Letter to Farmers on Poverty and Peace, 1938.

"In the long run, no nation is healthier than its children or more prosperous than its farmers." Harry Truman.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Bl. Josefa Naval Girbes, O.C.D.S.

Today is held in honor of one of the few Carmelite seculars on the calendar: Blessed Josefa Naval Girves. Always encouraging to find one of our own acknowledged. Personally, I'm asking her intercession this morning to get me through this day. I've acquired a miserable chest cold and I have to play for a wedding in about 3 hours. It can be done; I've done it before. But, shall we say, the quality may not always be up to standard. A bit of celestial assistance would be most welcome. Ora pro me, soror mea Josefa.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Some Collectors & Their Collections

arctophile........teddy bears
chiffonier........scraps of fabric
copoclephile......key rings
discophile........grammophone records
incunabulist......early books
notaphilic........bank notes
pasquinader.......lamppoons, satires
preterist.........historical objects
rhapsodist........literary pieces
tatterer..........refuse, rags
tegestologist.....beer mats

This is all from Schott's Sporting Gaming & Idling Miscellany, a delight from first to last and an excellent way to idle away an hour. Or two. Where else could you learn that "Playing snooker gives you firm hands and helps to build up character. It is the ideal recreation for dedicated nuns." - Archbishop Luigi Barbarito, Apostolic Nuncio Emeritus, 1989.

Now, I ask you.

Bl. Frances D'Amboise, O.Carm.

Blessed Frances is considered the foundress of the Carmelite nuns in France by the official text referenced above. The old Catholic Encyclopaedia considers that she can be deemed the foundress of the Carmelite nuns full stop. Her feast day, once on the 6th of November, is now the 5th.

The old collect:

Tuorum corda fidelium, Deus, miserator illustra: et beatae Franciscae precibus gloriosis, fac nos prospera mundi despicere, et caelesti semper consolatione gaudere. Per dominum. Amen.

O merciful God, enlighten the hearts of Thy faithful, and through the efficacious prayers of blessed Frances, teach us to despise worldly comfort and to find our joy always in heavenly consolation: through our Lord. Amen.

Before the calendar revisions that occurred after the council, today was the feast of the Holy Relics Preserved in Carmelite Churches.

The Ancient Observance Carmelite collect:

Deus, qui hanc sacrosanctam Ecclesiam tot voluisti Sanctorum decorare Reliquis: concede nobis famulis tuis; ut, quorum memoriam veneramur in terris, eorum consortio perfruamur in caelis. Per Dominum. Amen.

O God, Who didst will to adorn this church with the relics of so many saints, grant that we Thy servants may enjoy in heaven the fellowship of those whose memory we venerate on earth: through our Lord. Amen.

The Discalced Carmelite collect:

Auge in nobis, Domine, resurrectionis fidem, qui in Sanctorum tuorum reliquiis mirabilia operaris: et fac nos immortalis gloriae participes, cuius in eorum cineribus pignora veneramur. Per Dominum. Amen.

O Lord, Thou Who dost work wonders in the relics of Thy saints, increase in us faith in the resurrrection: and make us sharers with them whose remains we venerate as a pledge of immortal glory. Through our Lord. Amen.

If the final translation looks worse than the other two, it's because the first two are taken from "The Missal according to The Carmelite Rite" and the last one is mine own. Corrections accepted, indeed, welcomed.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

St. Emeric

Today is the feast day of the Hungarian prince, St. Emeric. A 15th century Italian navigator and map maker, Amerigo Vespucci, was named after him. And it's after Amerigo Vespucci that we get the place name America. So it may be our feast day today, after a fashion.

The Month of the Holy Souls

November has been the month dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory since at least the 16th century.

According to the latest Enchiridion Indulgentiarum a plenary indulgence can be gained for the souls in Purgatory during each of the first 8 days of November by visiting a cemetery and praying, even if only mentally, for the dead. (On other days of year the indulgence is available as a partial indulgence.)

The Enchiridion can be downloaded in its entirety as a pdf file here.

A Good First Step

This story brightened my day considerably.

LEESBURG, Va. — A brother and sister who sent unsolicited junk e-mail to millions of America Online Inc. customers were convicted Wednesday in the nation's first felony prosecution of spam distributors. More here.

I was only away for two weeks yet I came home to 10,000+ pieces of spam last Monday. Most people won't have that sort of volume but I have four e-mail addresses - two of them for business purposes - that are published on the web and available to every spam-bot in the universe. Theoretically, I can deal with my e-mail accounts while away from the website. But with a dial-up connection and the painfully slow loading of each new screen that that implies, combined with the volume of spam I receive, it's an impossible task. Spam arrives faster than I can delete it with that sort of set-up. (At home broadband, assorted filters, firewalls, Symantec's handy products, and Eudora's "Junk sorter" make it a much different situation. 90% of it I probably never even see when working here.)

And that is why I am smiling all over at this story. Although 9 years isn't nearly long enough. Nevertheless, a very good start indeed.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Another Sweep!

Yes, once again, right across the board, everyone I voted for lost. Well, maybe the occasional judge might have won. They haven't reported on the judgeships. Otherwise, I am represented entirely by Democrats: state assembly, state senate, congress, and U.S. Senate. Dick-and-George were the only Republicans on my ballot who won and, natch, I didn't vote for them.

And then there's this:

Wagering that embryonic stem cells could provide cures for the most disabling ailments, Californians on Tuesday voted to create a $3-billion research effort that would be the nation's most aggressive. . . .Underwriting 10 years of scientific study, Proposition 71 — placed on the ballot by venture capitalists, Hollywood stars and rich people with sick relatives — will swell the financial obligations of what is already the most indebted state in America. With all of the state's precincts reporting, the measure was approved by 59.1% of the voters.

What a state.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Real Irish Breakfast

I tried to recreate it this morning not very successfully. Which may be just as well. Even Dr. Atkins would have second thoughts: Eggs, sausages, bacon (a.k.a. "rashers"), black pudding (a blood sausage), white pudding (ditto), and a fried tomato. And bread or a brack and tea. Lovely. I could eat that every morning for the rest of my life. Of course, it would be a much shorter life than otherwise. But it could be worth it.

But, so far, it isn't working. In the first place, the bacon is wrong. We have belly bacon in this country, whereas the Irish use the much less fatty back bacon. You can buy "Irish" bacon at some of the import shops (at hugely inflated prices) but it usually turns out to be Danish. No one seems to bother with the puddings. And it seems I shall have to make my own brack. (Or maybe a nice fruity soda bread. Yes, I think so.) And the sausages just aren't the same.

Back to porridge for the time being, though.

Votin' Day

For what it's worth, I cast my ballot about a couple of hours ago. Since Herman Munster is way ahead of Dubya in this state - anywhere from 9 to 15 points ahead depending upon which of the recent polls you believe - I was blessedly free to cast a third party presidential vote for Mr. Peroutka. After that a couple votes for some good guys, a couple votes for some not-so-good guys, but who at least aren't the other guys, a couple votes for some relative unknowns but who seem from endorsements and expressed positions at least a little better than the other relative unknowns. And a few damfinos which were left blank. Here in North Disneyland we get to vote for a raft of propositions, too. Some good stuff, some bad stuff, and a large selection of "Say, what?" If I can't figure it out - and I am, Lord knows, a simple soul - I vote to keep things as they are until somebody trustworthy 'splains it to me.

There are some easily applied principles that make voting for (or against) propositions easy. There is the Never Vote For A Bond Issue maxim. This simplifies large sections of the ballot and it only has two exceptions. The first I haven't seen in a while. In this state we used to issue bonds to fund a program of loans that enabled veterans to buy homes. This was a self-funding sort of scheme that worked very well. Since they were loans, the bonds were funded by the payments the home-buyers made. The second exception is bonds for water projects. This southern section of Alta California is a semi-desert. Without huge and expensive water projects this little corner of the world dries up and everything blows away. (Or they could restrict immigration, development and expansion. Yes. You laugh and how right you are.)

Had the race in this state been a skosh tighter I would have voted for George. He won't actually do anything for us, i.e., the Old Right, the Evangelicals, the home schoolers, the traditional and conservative Catholics, the unborn babies, but at least he won't sic the cops on us, a point made rather bluntly here by Charles de Nunzio.

Monday, November 01, 2004

All Saints Day

This is All Saints Day. Not so very long ago, this was a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States, and in most other places. These days here in the Archdiocese of Hollywood and in our suffragan Diocese of Disneyland to the south, it is assumed that attending Mass two days in a row might be too much for the sensibilities of the local faithful and cause siezures or palpitations or some such. So All Saints Day coming on a Monday this year, it is not a day of Obligation. Given the state of so many parochial liturgies, I am not prepared to say that the concerns of our Most Reverend Fathers-in-God are not warranted. But it is still sad to see the old holy days ignored.

A selection from Fr. Pius Parsch's "The Church's Year of Grace" (vol. V, pg. 321):

No Vespers during the whole year makes so deep an impression upon me as Vespers of All Saints. Artistic reliquaries decorate the altar; in the relics the saints themselves are present, and Christ their leader is the altar. The latter is adorned in feast-day robes, golden antependium, glistening snow-white linens. Upon six golden candlesticks burn six huge candles. Behind them resplendent is the Lamb of the Apocalypse. Upon the throne as representative of the eternal Father sits the abbot in a golden-threaded cope. About him are the "seniors" of the monastery in white robes, while below four chanters, clothed in flowing pluvials, lead the monastic choir in the heavenly melodies. Out in the nave stand or sit the 'multitude of faithful which no man can number, from all peoples.' And throughout the edifice resound the jubilantly sonorous harmonies from the organ. It is an hour in heaven." (from a description by Fr. Kutzer of Mindelzell).

The Traditional Mass In Ireland

The traditional rite has a foothold in Ireland but meets with much hierarchical resistance. Many (most?) of the bishops have refused to comply with the Holy Father's wishes expressed in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta. The photo above is the venue for one of the happy exceptions, the every-Sunday indult Mass in the Archdiocese of Dublin at St. Audoen's Church on High Street. As you can see it is a beautiful church, a fitting location for the classical Roman liturgy. The choir is outstanding, singing both chant and polyphony each time I have been there. The Sunday Mass is at 11 a.m. if you happen to be in Dublin.

A word of advice though. The Church of Ireland church bearing the same name is right next door and is far older. (In fact it is the last remaining medieval parish church in Dublin.) It's easy to arrive at the wrong church and many do. The Church of Ireland verger, I'm told, is adept at guiding the bewildered traditional Catholic to the correct church. Look for the classical facade rather than the medieval. This is the outside of "our" St. Audoen's:

The Latin Mass Society of Ireland website has a wealth of information, not only on the various venues for the traditional rite in Ireland, but on many other things of interest to Catholics of the traditional sort.

Home Again

We are back, unpacked in record time, and full of thoughts about Ireland.

But first the Boston Red Sox. Congratulations to Mark, Tom, and the rest of the Red Sox Nation on The Magnificent Win. There wasn't much in the Irish press about the playoffs except the bare final scores and not much more about the series. Needless to say, I didn't see any of it.

We left on the 17th of October. The Yankees having won the first three games in the play-offs at that point, the only thing for it was to flee the country. At 5:15 the plane took off and the 4th game of the play-offs against the Yankees began. Boston never lost another game. So perhaps the Babe wasn't to blame at all. Perhaps the secret all along was to get me out of the country. If anyone would like to test the theory next year, let me know and I'll let you know the address to which you can send the plane tickets.