Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Third Sunday in Lent. . . .

. . . .and we're not even half way to Easter. I have a little argument with myself at least once a day, using almost the same versicle and response each time:

V. I should have picked something more congenial for a Lenten penance. This is miserable.
R. And what would be the point of that?

And so we continue to Easter.

Today's Gospel, Luke 11: 14-28, provided an opportunity for Father to preach on the devil. This is the third time in the past eight days that I've heard a sermon or talk on Satan. Old Nick doesn't get much of a mention in the post-conciliar church. So three times in a week must be some sort of a modern record.

The liturgy also provided a collect which could be prayed most appropriately for Terri Schiavo:

Quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, vota humilium respice: atque ad defensionem nostram, dexteram tuæ miestatis extende. Per Dominum.

We beg Thee, Almighty God, regard our humble prayer, and extend the right arm of Thy Majesty in our defense. Through Christ our Lord.

And in an utterly trivial aside, the Latin of today's epistle, Ephesians 5: 1-9, pulls up one of my favourite Latin words: "stultiloquium". What a useful word in our own 21st century. Stupid talk.

Last Friday, "The Third Friday in Lent", in some calendars would have been the feast of the Holy Shroud. The feast has this lovely collect:

"O God, Who didst leave us traces of Thy sufferings on the Holy Shroud in which Thy sacred Body, taken from the cross, was wrapped by Joseph, mercifully grant that, by Thy death and burial, we may be brought to the glory of Thy resurrection: Who art God, living and reigning, in the unity of the Father and the Holy Ghost, forever and ever. Amen."

The proper Gospel is that of St Joseph of Arimathea at Mark 15: 42-46. Some of us used to think St Joseph of Arimathea would make the perfect patron of lost causes. He is a secret disciple of Our Lord when He is alive and preaching, working miracles and raising the dead. St Joseph waits to come out into the open until the very lowest point in Our Lord's earthly journey: He has been convicted and executed but has not yet risen from the dead. Was it just human sympathy? Or was St Joseph one of the few who was actually listening when Our Lord predicted his resurrection?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I looked for some to have pity on me, but there was no man, neither found I any to comfort me. -Ps LXIX: 21b

Surely anyone visiting The Inn already knows of Terri Schiavo's ordeal. But perhaps for those sent here on a wild goose chase by the inventive, not to say erratic, suggestions of the popular search engines, this may be a revelation. This is taken with a couple of adaptations from the people at Catholic Answers and presents a succinct and horrifying precis of the facts of Terri's situation.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + +

A woman is about to be murdered, and you probably already know her
name--Terri Schiavo.

Please help us rescue Terri from a horrible death by starvation. The moment her feeding tube is removed, Terri will begin a long, slow, painful death by starvation and dehydration.

We need your help NOW to rescue Terri from her cruel executioners. They've already tried to kill her once before, and she fought to stay alive. But this may be the last chance Terri gets. Will you help save her life?


If you've heard about Terri only through the news media, you've probably been led to believe things like this:

* Terri brain dead.
* She is in a coma.
* She's a vegetable.
* Extraordinary means are being used to keep her alive.
* She wants to die but her parents stubbornly won't let it happen.

None of these things are true.

Terri is NOT brain dead. She is NOT in a coma. She is NOT in a "persistent vegetative state." And she is not on ANY life-support system.


When her parents visit her, Terri laughs, she cries, she moves, and she makes child-like attempts at speech with her mother and father. Sometimes she will say "Mom" or "Dad" or "yeah" when they ask her a question. And when they kiss her hello or goodbye, she looks at them and "puckers up" her lips.

She's able to sit in a chair, she loves to listen to her favorite music, and she recognizes her brother and sister when they come to visit.

Board-certified neurologist Dr. Jacob Green of Jacksonville, Florida, who examined Terri, said unequivocally: "She is not in a vegetative state." When asked if it would be ethical to remove her feeding tube, he said, "I'd call it murder."

Terri receives food and liquid through a feeding tube because she can't swallow. In other words, Terri depends on food and water to stay alive-just like everybody else!

But her husband, Michael, wants to disconnect her only means of food so that she will slowly starve to death.

Medical experts all agree that death by starvation and dehydration is perhaps the most painful, the most tortuous, and the most agonizing way to die.

Yes, Terri's injury left her disabled. But there are tens of thousands of disabled people who depend on gastro feeding tubes every day, and they live otherwise normal lives.

Terri can breathe for herself. She is not on a ventilator. Her vital organs are working fine, which means she is not hooked up to a machine. Furthermore, she is NOT dying or being "kept alive" by artificial means. She does not have a terminal disease, and she will be able to feel pain if she is starved to death.

And that could start to happen in the next few days.


Time is running out for Terri. Her feeding tube could be removed THIS WEEK!!!

There is one last court procedure that is being tried to save Terri's life, but if it fails her feeding tube could be removed Wednesday.

If that happens then only thing that may save her might be action by Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Governor Bush has already fought to save Terri's life. The last time her feeding tube was removed he stepped in and snatched her back from the brink of death. The Florida legislature even passed a special law--"Terri's Law"--to give him the authority to keep her alive.

But then the law was struck down by a judge, putting Terri's life on the line once again.

If the courts continue their anti-life crusade against Terri and others like her, the only thing that may save her would be action by Governor Bush.


The attorneys who are fighting for Terri's life have a few more possible ways to prevent Terri's murder. But these are last-ditch efforts that may or may not work. The courts are decidedly on Michael's side--not Terri's.

So that means we have to come to Terri's aid-especially through the amazing power of prayer and sacrifice--but also by sharing this story with everybody you know, and encouraging Governor Jeb Bush to do everything he can to rescue Terri once again.

Here's what you can do . . .

1.) First, PRAY for Terri--harder than ever before! Not enough people are praying for Terri right now. And she needs our prayers now more than ever.

2.) Second, FAST along with Terri if and when her feeding tube gets removed--and then offer up your sacrifices for her.

3.) Third, please ENCOURAGE Governor Bush to do everything he can to rescue Terri. Since time is of the essence, we recommend that you send him an e-mail at this address:

Or, if you prefer, you can call his office at the Florida State Capitol at (850) 488-4441.

4.) And finally, please FORWARD this e-mail to everyone on your e-mail list. [Well, this isn't an e-mail and it isn't susceptible to forwarding. But do spread the word.] The more people who know the true story about Terri Schiavo and how she is in imminent danger of being murdered, the greater our chances of achieving a victory in this life-or-death struggle between good and evil.

It's hard to believe, but there are many hard-hearted people out there who believe that, due to Terri's condition, she is "better off dead." Words cannot describe the pain and anger such sentiments cause Terri's family.

This is their daughter, their little girl. And even in her disabled condition, she still has the right to life and the right to be loved and cared for by her family.

Terri doesn't have to die. If you'll carry out the steps above, we can win this battle and save Terri's life.

Please do your part--immediately--because tomorrow may be too late.


Catholic Answers

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

More on Terri's plight:

Terri's Fight
Plead for her Life: More People to Contact
ProLife Blogs
Thrown Back (Fr Rob Johanson personal fight for Terri)
Saving Terri’s Life: My Journey With The Schindlers
By Father Robert J. Johansen

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Sr Lucy's Funeral Services

Yahoo has collected 31 pictures of Sr Lucy. They are mostly of her wake and funeral but with a few historical photographs also. As of today they can be found here. Caution: Yahoo doesn't leave pictures up for very long, usually only a few days.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


This is the text of Sr Lucia's death notice from her own Carmel. There are links to some pictures of Sr Lucia here.

At the venerable age of 97, on SUNDAY afternoon, February 13th, in Coimbra Carmel, our Carmelite Sister Lucia went to her eternal reward. She, together with her cousins, Jacinta and Francesco, was a witness to the numerous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, beginning on May 13, 1917. The other two visionaries died young, as the Blessed Virgin had predicted, and have since been declared Blessed by the Church.

Our Sister lived humbly and quietly in her community, combining a prayerful-contemplative life with an intense letter-writing ministry, with which she comforted distressed people, replied to VIPs, encouraged her readers to believe and trust in God, always zealous in her devotion to Mary. The Popes have always held her in great esteem. The message that the Virgin had entrusted to the three shepherds touched upon present and future events. Pope John Paul II was particularly fond of this simple Carmelite religious. He met her on several occasions, expressing his clear devotion to our Lady of Fatima, returning there three times on pilgrimage. A year after the attempt to assassinate him in St Peter's square, he offered the Blessed Virgin the bullet that almost killed him: it was placed in the crown of Mary's statue.

The message of Fatima is simple and straightforward: prayer, penance, consecration to the immaculate heart of Mary. Strange phenomena accompanied the numerous visions, such as the last, called "the dance of the sun" before an awestruck and incredulous crowd. But what has especially attracted the attention of the world was the so-called "third secret of Fatima", made public in 2000 on the occasion of the beatification of Francesco and Jacinta. It has been confirmed that Sr. Lucia has had manifestations of our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

The death of Sr. Lucia has saddened especially the people of Portugal. The Prime Minister has declared a national day of mourning and there will be no electioneering on that day for the forthcoming elections, on February 20.

Fr. General is not able to attend the funeral due to commitments elsewhere and has asked Fr. Luigi Gaetani, the Definitor responsible for Portugal to attend the solemn funeral in Coimbra cathedral.

Fr. General has sent the following message to the Coimbra community:

Mother Prioress and Community of Discalced Carmelite Nuns, Coimbra

Dear Sisters,

I am writing to you from Poland, where I am conducting a Visitation to our Cracow Province. This evening, after a long journey, and having learnt of the death of our dear Irma Lucia, I reflected on her life and all that she has meant to us. At this particular time we are brought back in time, almost of necessity, to the marvellous story of the three poor children whose innocent and pious hearts were changed in that place by the light of Mary, Mother of pity and mercy.

In October 2003 I was fortunate to celebrate the Eucharist with your community on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Sr. Lucia's profession. Because of that meeting I am able to give this personal testimony. Together with the gratitude she showed for her vocation for which she had given thanks, what I appreciated particularly was her naturalness and simplicity. Without doubt she lived a life of profound prayerful intercession and praise, carrying within her heart the intentions of the Fatima messages. But all of this occurred with the utmost simplicity. To this naturalness and spontaneity belonged her sense of humour. At the Eucharistic celebration and afterwards in the festive encounter I could clearly see a happiness that was transparently innocent, trusting and warm. I believe that St. Teresa of Jesus would be very happy with these qualities in our Sister. And, what is most important, without doubt these qualities reflect those of Mary of Nazareth, our Mother and Sister in faith and our interior model in her dedication to Jesus and to his Kingdom of justice and communion.

We are happy that Sr. Lucia has been our sister. Very happy that she lived the message of Fatima in such an ordinary human way with simplicity and sincerity. I would like now to assure you, together with this personal testimony, that the family of Carmel is very close to you at this time, as well as to the Church and the people of Portugal. We commend our Sister to the Lord and with confidence ask her to commend us before His throne of glory.

Przemyl, 14th February 2005

[All of the above is taken from this site, the O.C.D. Generalate in Rome. If this link does not work, it can be accessed from the main O.C.D. page through the "news" link.]

Sunday, February 13, 2005

14 February: St Valentine's Day

No matter what the late Archbishop Bugnini thought, the 14th of February is St Valentine's Day just as it has been for a millennium and a half. Roses and greeting cards are in order. Maybe even chocolates if you're sure it won't be a temptation to break Lent in the very first week.

Although not in Riyadh. I heard on the BBC news on Sunday night that the religious police in Saudi Arabia are on the look out for any decadent Valentine's Day observing that might be going on. Apparently they've already collared some ne'er-do-well in Riyadh who was flagrantly selling roses to the general public. Imagine. Children might have been present.

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui beati Valentini Martyris tui natalitia colimus, a cunctis malis imminentibus eius intercessione, liberemur. Per Dominum Nostrum. Amen.

Grant, we pray Thee , almighty God, that we who are celebrating the birthday of Thy blessed martyr Valentine, may by his intercession be preserved from all the ills that threaten us: through our Lord. Amen.

Requiescat in Pace

I've just heard that Sr Lucia, O.C.D. the last of the seers of Fatima has died in Portugal. There's a bulletin here. God rest her soul.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


If you happen to be researching anything in St Thomas, this site seems to have his complete works. All in Latin at the moment, but some translations, perhaps abridgements, are promised.

"You're good. You're very good. . .

. . .It's chiefly in your eyes, I think, and that throb you get into your voice when you say things like, 'Be generous, Mr. Spade." -Sam Spade to Bridget O'Shaughnessy in "The Maltese Falcon"

I have a replica of the Maltese Falcon on the shelf in my library. The sales patter that went with it when I bought it proclaimed that it was made by the prop man who worked on the Humphrey Bogart film of the same name and he used the same mold that made the original. Having seen the original and paused the video a few times for an even better comparison, it seems that its exalted provenance was a crock. It's not as detailed as the original and there are a few other discrepancies. Ah, well. What harm. The "original" dingus was a bit of a crock itself; "the stuff of dreams", in fact.

This article in this morning's paper reminds us that this month marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon, the novel upon which the classic movie was based. Now the movie is, indeed, a classic. And the article cited isn't bad either.

But as much as I loved the film, the adulation of Dashiell Hammett and his book is hard to take. Hammett's "The Continental Op" and "The Thin Man" are both on my shelves and I have never been able to force myself to finish either. The writing is spare, dry, and tedious. The characterization is nonexistent. The only character traits present seem to be deviousness and greed. One is continually flipping back pages in order to figure out who's who. A mystery novel is not supposed to be a chore. Graham Greene called his "entertainments". And so his were. Not so Hammett's.

Perhaps "The Maltese Falcon" is better. It should be as the movie based on it is a treat. It's interesting to learn that the film was actually a remake; "The Maltese Falcon" had been made twice before. One version, seldom related to TMF, is Satan Met A Lady. This was a Bette Davis vehicle, alas not one of her best. This one entitled "Dangerous Female" seems to be several notches above the Bette Davis version. The review is intriguing enough to put "Dangerous Female" on my list to search for at Blockbuster.

And there's even a sequel, albeit everyone seems to hate it.

(Be all that as it may, however good the Hammett films are, if you want to read a hard-boiled 'tec, Raymond Chandler is your only man.)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Two Hours Before the Box

I sat last night for two interminable hours watching PBS Frontline's "House of Saud: A special history on Saudi Arabia, its troubled relationship with the America, and the challenges confronting a nation where tradition and modernity are in violent collision". It was as tedious as only PBS can be when it is trying to be educational.

And yet I did sit it out as it was pretty informative. At least it was so for me. I don't recall any part of my formal education touching upon Arabia or any part of its history, only just enough to comprehend what the Crusaders were doing when they went out east. Considering what a large stake we have now in the Middle East it's rather embarrassing to be so ignorant of it. This programme gave an easily digestible chronology, a framework on which to hang the events of recent history. As for the nuances, well. . .given PBS's well-known leanings, not to say biases, perhaps a bit more reading is in order.

But if it's on again and you not only have a spare couple of hours but are as bolt-ignorant as I am in that area, it's worth having a look at. But make a pot of coffee first.

(PBS always puts together a website for this sort of thing and the "House of Saud" was no exception. It's here.)

Ash Wednesday

We went to the 6:00 a.m. Mass this morning to avoid the stampede later in the day. (If you're not in a heavily Mexican area you may not realize that this day is the day for the once-a-year Catholics of that ethnic persuasion. For northern Europeans, it's still Christmas and Easter. But Mexicans have to get their ashes. The rest of the Masses will be S.R.O. and from 3p.m. to 8p.m. there will be an "ashes" ceremony every half hour. And since this is a once-a-year visit for so many, no one may receive who isn't present for the sermon beforehand, wherein it will be explained that ashes will not save one's soul, the necessity of a good confession, prayer, the sacraments, and a good Christian moral life.)

It is so sad to see the liturgy of blessing reduced to one anæmic collect in the Pauline rite. But we are at least fortunate to have prayerful and orthodox priests who employ no gimmicks or creative additions. And Fr John uses the traditional formula of imposition, thank God. In some places it seems to be reduced to an admonition to "be nice". But he reminds us that we are dust and unto dust we shall return.

But enough whinging. In honour of the day, here are the collects for blessing the ashes from the old Carmelite liturgy of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem:

Almighty everlasting God, Who hast mercy on all and hastest nothing that Thou has made, Who overlookest the sins of such as do penance and helpest such as are burdened with troubles; deign to + bless and to + hallow these ashes, which, as a sign of humility and holy religion, Thou hast ordained, after the example of the men of Niniveh, that we should bear upon our foreheads unto cleansing of our sins; and grant that by the invocation of Thy name, all they who shall bear them upon their heads as an appeal to Thy mercy may deserve to receive of Thee the pardon of their sins, and today, so begin this holy fast that on the day of resurrection they may be worthy to drawn nigh with purified hearts to the holy feast of Easter, and to receive never-ending glory in the life to come: through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Almighty, everlasting God, show mercy to those who repent, forgiveness to those who implore it. Deign to send Thy holy angel down from heaven to + bless and hallow + these ashes, so that they may be a wholesome remedy for all who in humility invoke Thy holy name and with guilty consciences accuse themselves, lamenting their crimes before Thy divine clemency, or humbly and earnestly beseeching Thy gracious loving kindness. Grant to us who call upon Thy holy name that all who are sprinkled with them, for the remission of their sins, may be safe and sound in body and soul: through Christ our Lord. Amen.

And during the distribution, these antiphons were sung:

Exaudi nos, Domine, quoniam benigna est misericordia tua: secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum respice in nos, Domine. ~ Salvum me fac, Deus: quoniam intraverunt aquæ usque ad animam meam.. Gloria Patri.

Listen to us, Lord, of Thy gracious mercy, look down upon us in the abundance of Thy pity, Lord. ~ O God, save me; see how the waters close about me, threatening my very life.

Inter vestibulum et altare plorabunt sacerdotes ministri Domini, et dicent: Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo: et ne claudas ora canentium te, Domine.

Let the priests that wait upon the Lord make their lament between porch and altar, crying, Spare Thy people, Lord, spare them: do not silence, Lord, the lips that sing Thy praise.

Immutemur habitu, in cinere et cilicio: jejunemus et ploremus ante Dominum: quia multum misericors est dimittere peccata nostra Deus noster.

Changed be our vesture, ashes and sackcloth be all our wear: fasting and weeping let us come into the Lord’s presence, our God, so full of mercy and pardon for our sins.

And finally, after the imposition of ashes one more collect:

Lord, give us grace to inaugurate with holy fasting the defences of Christian warfare, so that we who are to fight against spiritual wickedness may be helped and strengthened by self-denial: through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The World's Most Influential Brands

Ah, the triumph of American capitalism: Apple, Google, Starbucks, Al Jazeera, Coca-Cola. . . .Al Jazeera?? Apparently so according to this survey. Of course, they also think Apple is at the top of the list and Microsoft isn't even mentioned. But still. AJ at #5 does cause a certain rising of the eyebrows.

Making Iraq Safe for Democracy. . . .

. . .but only if you're a Mohammedan.

Even as Iraqi Muslims proclaimed Sunday's elections a success, the Christians of that country complained that they were prevented from voting both in Iraq and in the United States.

Christian Assyrians, 1 million of whom reside in Iraq, claim that Kurdish officials in North Iraq blocked the delivery of ballot boxes from Assyrian-dominated villages, leaving many Assyrians disenfranchised. They also claim that election officials placed U.S. voting locations in areas that maximized the distance expatriate Assyrians had to travel.

The rest of the article is here.

The defense would like to thank and excuse juror #7.

And so they did. As expected. What wasn't expected was that the jury notice was somewhat ambiguous and the "one day or one trial" system had migrated all the way down to the courthouse to which I was assigned. So having spent my one day on duty, I have turned in my little badge and I don't have to do my reading in the jury room for another year or two.

The blogging may still be haphazard in which case I shall have to concoct some other excuse.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Thomas Tallis, Spem in Alium, Queen Mary and much else

All in this fascinating, delightful, and informative post at Basia Me, Catholica Sum.

Salus civitatis in legibus sita est.

The Superior Court of Los Angeles County in its wisdom has decided that I would be a likely candidate for one of their popular jury panels. So tomorrow I am off to one of our (relatively) local courthouses to sit and read for a week, with occasional interruptions for voir dire where counsel, carefully concealing looks of horror, will vie with each other to be the first to send me back to the jury room to continue my book. My career as an active venireman is inevitably short-lived. (A law degree, being on the police volunteer list, and playing pipes for police funerals doesn't make me defense counsel's ideal candidate.) But that doesn't mean I'm allowed to go home.

In short, if this week's blogging is even more haphazard than usual, now you know why.

Quinquagesima Sunday

The last Sunday before Ash Wednesday. The Benedictus antiphon this morning summarizes the coming Lenten journey:

Ecce ascendimus Ierosolyman,
et consummabuntur omnia quæ scripta sunt de Filio hominis:
tradetur enim Gentibus,
et illudetur,
et conspuetur:
et postquam flagellaverint,
occident eum,
et tertia die resurget.

Behold, let us go up to Jerusalem,
and all will be completed as it was written concerning the Son of man:
He will also be handed over to the gentiles,
and He will be ridiculed,
and spat upon,
and afterwards they will flog and kill Him,
and on the third day He will rise.

If you're a Byzantine Catholic you are right out of time to prepare: Lent begins tomorrow.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Random Acts of Kindness in the 21st Century

I suppose they ought to be thankful no one sicced the Homeland Security apparat on them.

From the L.A.Times:

Two teenage girls who surprised their neighbors in Durango with homemade cookies were ordered to pay nearly $900 in medical bills for a woman who says she was so startled that she had to go to the hospital with an upset stomach.

The rest of the article is here.

As always, this is the Times so don't dawdle. If you wait more than a week from today to click the link you'll have to pay $2.98 to read it.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Ioanne Paulo. . .

The news agencies now report that the Holy Father's health is improving. This is good. But the papal press releases have a history of being as optimistic as possible regarding His Holiness's health. Continued prayer for his welfare would probably be a good idea regardless.

Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et non tradat eum in animas inimicorum eius.

What Do They Be Thinking Of?

Music in church these days is usually a trial. I'm fairly good at ignoring most of it, although some is inappropriate enough to be seriously disturbing. At this morning's Mass we made a lateral transfer from the childish and annoying to the bizarre. Some bright spark at OCP has whipped up some "religous" lyrics to the tune of The Butcher Boy. And the music maven chose that for a Communion hymn at this morning's Mass.

It takes the breath away. Never did I think I would be listening to The Butcher Boy for Holy Communion. It's a pretty folk tune, well suited to its lugubrious and tragic lyrics. And the religous doggerel OCP came up with to replace "He went upstairs and the door he broke, he found her hanging from a rope" aren't striking enough to make one forget the original.

For the uninitiated, here is a common version of the original lyrics:

In London city where I did dwell, a butcher boy I loved right well
He courted me my life away, but now with me he will not stay

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain, I wish I was a maid again
A maid again I ne'er will be 'til cherries grow on an ivy tree

I wish my baby it was born and smiling on it's daddy's knee
And me, poor girl, to be dead and gone, with the long green grass growing over me

She went upstairs to go to bed, and calling to her mother, said:
"Give me a chair till I sit down and a pen and ink till I write down"

At every word she dropped a tear, at every line cried: "Willie dear
Oh, what a foolish girl was I, to be led astray by a butcher boy"

He went upstairs and the door he broke, he found her hanging from a rope
He took his knife and he cut her down, and in her pocket these words he found:

"Oh, make my grave large, wide and deep, put a marble stone at my head and feet
And at my breast, a turtledove, that the world may know that I died for love.

Yes, indeed. That's just what I want running through my mind at Communion time.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Candlemas Day

Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all
Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas hall;
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind;
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.

(-Robert Herrick)

This is the absolute last day for taking down the Christmas decorations. Your final liturgical excuse for leaving them up goes away tonight at Vespers. Even if it weren't already Wednesday in Sexagesima week, Candlemas Day or the feast of the Presentation or the feast of the Purification as it is also known, is the last of the feasts surrounding the birth of Our Lord. In fact, one old piseóg says that if you don't have the decorations down by Epiphany Eve, you have to keep them up until Candlemas. A very useful tradition. A whole month of pine needles will keep one on one's toes next year.

Today is also one of the traditional weather predicting days:

If Candlemas Day be dry and fair,
The half o the winter's to come and mair;
If Candlemas Day be wet and foul,
The half o the winter's gane at Yule.

The sun is cracking the stones here today so it seems I will be playing in the rain on St Patrick's Day.

The Catholic Encyclopaedia gives the liturgical history of the day here. The Mass propers for today's feast in the traditional Roman Rite can be found here and here. A meditation on the day by Fr Hugh Thwaites, S.J. can be found here.

No one seems to have put the texts of the candle blessings and the processional hymns on line. A combination of time constraints and consitutional laziness prevents me from remedying that lacuna. Instead here is a Sequence by Adam of Saint-Victor which Gueranger includes in his entry for today. He says he "should not be surprsed if [our readers] gave it the first place among all the Hymns to our Lady written in the Middle Ages."

Templum cordis adornemus,
novo corde renovemus
novum senis gaudium;
quod, dum ulnis amplexatur,
sic longevi recreatur
longum desiderium.

Stans in signum populorum,
templum luce, laude chorum,
corda replens gloria,
templo puer presentatus,
post, in cruce, vir oblatus
pro peccatis hostia.

Hinc Salvator, hinc Maria,
puer pius, mater pia
moveant tripudium;
sed cum votis perferatur
opus lucis quod signatur
luce luminarium.

Verbum Patris lux est vera,
virginalis caro cera,
Christus splendens cereus;
cor illustrat ad sophiam,
qua virtutis rapit viam
vitiis erroneus.

Christum tenens per amorem
bene iuxta festi morem
gestat lumen cereum;
sicut senex Verbum Patris
votis strinxit pignus matris
brachiis corporeum.

Gaude, mater Genitoris,
simplex intus, munda foris,
carens ruga, macula:
a dilecto praeelecta,
ab electo predilecta
Deo muliercula.

Omnis decor tenebrescit,
deformatur, et horrescit
tuum intuentibus;
omnis sapor amarescit,
reprobatur et sordescit
tuum praegustantibus.

Omnis odor redolere
non videtur, sed olere
tuum odorantibus;
omnis amor aut deponi
prorsus solet, aut postponi
tuum nutrientibus.

Decens maris luminare,
decus matrum singulare,
vera parens veritatis,
via, vitae, pietatis,
medicina seculi;

Vena vini fontis vitae
sitienda cunctis rite,
sano dulcis et languenti,
salutaris fatiscenti
confortantis populi.

Fons signate
rivos funde,
nos infunde,
fons hortorum
riga montes
unda tui rivuli.
Fons redundans,
sis inundans,
cordis prava
quaeque lava,
fons sublimis,
munde nimis,
ab immundo
munda mundo
cor immundi populi.

Let us adorn the temple of our souls, and with new hearts bring back again that old man's joy, whose long-cherished wish is granted, as his arms press Jesus to his breast.

This Child is the Standard of the people, filling the Temple with light, our choirs with praise, and our hearts with jubilee. This day is He presented in the Temple, and will another day, when grown to manhood, be offered on the Cross, the offering for sin.

On one side Jesus, on the other Mary; here the sweet Infant, and there the sweet Mother; Oh! What a glad sight! But let us devoutly carry within us that work of Light which our lighted tapers symbolize.

The Father’s Word is the light; His virginal flesh is the wax; our lighted taper is Christ Himself, Who enlightens our hearts with that wisdom which rescues the sinner from the error of his way, and sets him on virtue’s path.

He that holds Jesus by love, carries, as our Feast would have him do, the Candle blest with light. So did Simeon love the Father’s Word, and fondly carry in his arms the Mother’s Babe.

Be glad, O Mother of thy God! Simple, pure, unwrinkled, spotless Mother! O Maiden! Chosen by the God of thy love, and loved by the God of thy choice.

All beauty is clouded, deformed, and displeasing to him that has seen thine. All sweetness seems bitter, sour or insipid, to the soul that has tasted of thine.

All fragrance, put near thine, grows faint or foul; all other love must cease, or be but an afterthought, in hearts that feed on thine.

Beautiful Star of the sea! Thou beautiful honour of all mothers! O true Mother of Truth! O path of holy living! O remedy of the world’s ills! Source of the fount of that Wine of Life, for which all men should thirst, and whose strength-giving chalice is sweet to the healthy and the sick and restores the drooping heart!

O Fount sealed up in holiness! Pour out on us thy streams! O Fount of inner gardens! Water with thy rivulet’s wave our parched and stony hearts!

Overflowing Fount! Flow out on us, and wash our hearts’ defilements. O Fount sublime, limpid above our thoughts, cleanse thy servants’ hearts from an unclean world. Amen.

Some final decorating hints out of tradition from Robert Herrick for Candlemas and a few other up-coming days in the liturgical year:

Down with the rosemary and bays,
Down with the misletoe;
Instead of holly, now up-raise
The greener box, for show.

The holly hitherto did sway;
Let box now domineer,
Until the dancing Easter-day,
Or Easter's eve appear.

Then youthful box, which now hath grace
Your houses to renew,
Grown old, surrender must his place
Unto the crisped yew.

When yew is out, then birch comes in,
And many flowers beside,
Both of a fresh and fragrant kin,
To honour Whitsuntide.

Green rushes then, and sweetest bents,
With cooler oaken boughs,
Come in for comely ornaments,
To re-adorn the house.
Thus times do shift; each thing his turn does hold;
New things succeed, as former things grow old.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

St Brigid of Kildare

Today is the feast of one of my wife's patron's, St Brigid of Kildare. The stories of her life vary greatly, some of them consising almost entirely of wonderful, extravagant Celtic miracles. This relation of her tale seems to stick to the basics. You can even learn something of "St Brigid's Cross."

The old collect for her feast day:

O God, Who on this day dost make us to rejoice in the yearly solemnity of blessed Brigid Thy Virgin: graciously grant that we who are enlightened by the example of her chastity, may be aided by her merits. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The collect in the Pauline liturgy:

Lord, You inspired in Saint Brigid such whole-hearted dedication to Your work that she is known as Mary of the Gael; through her intercession bless our country; may we follow the example of her life and be united with her and the Virgin Mary in Your presence. We make our prayer through our Lord. Amen.

Yesterday was the feast of St John Bosco which I entirely forgot to mention. A terrible failing for an old Salesian boy. Perhaps I can atone by sending you here to The Commonplace Book of Zadok The Roman for a sample of Don Bosco's prophecies. If you were taught by the Salesians in the old days you know some of these prophecies very well indeed. Don Bosco was almost a living presence in Salesian schools all those years ago when I was in school. I wonder, do they still tell their boys all about their patron? He isn't mentioned much in the promotional literature from my old high school.