Friday, December 30, 2005

On the Sixth Day of Christmas. . .

. . .they found him lying in . . .a public baseball field in Vista. Evil, stupid, or merely odd?

A Report on the Carmel in the old French Quarter of New Orleans

Four months along and still ruin and desolation everywhere. Sr Aletheia's report is here.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

St Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury & Martyr

This is an interestng little illustration representing the martyrdom of St Thomas. The artist appears to have transferred the liturgical celebration at which St Thomas was murdered from Vespers to Holy Mass. Perhaps to show him in his chasuble of Sarum blue?

The Hooly Blissful Martir is one of my favourite saints as you may have guessed from past years' lengthy entries, here, here, and here. All of the links in those posts appear still to be operational - in fact, many of them are the same. I repeated myself a few times.

Here are a couple of new links for this year:

A set of links to other sites on St Thomas.
A collection of links to primary sources on St Thomas. This set is especially interesting. It includes the text of the Constitutions of Clarendon, Edward Grimm's eyewitness account of the murder, contemporaneous chronicles, and the text of Pope Alexander's decree of canonisation.

Finally, a pair of antiphons from the Sarum breviary for the feast of St Thomas Becket, as given in Gueranger's The Liturgical Year for this day. The English versions are those of Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.

Ant. Pastor cæsus in gregis medio,
pacem emit cruoris pretio:
lætus dolor in tristi gaudio!
Grex respirat, pastore mortuo;
plangens plaudit mater in filio,
quia vivit victor sub gladio.

Ant. The Shepherd, slain in the
midst of his flock, purchaseth
peace at the price of his blood.
O joyful mourning, O mournful joy!
The Shepherd dead, new life is in
the Flock! The Mother speaks,
through her tears, the praises of
her Son, for still he lives, the
conqueror of the sword.

Ant. Salve, Thoma, virga iustitiæ,
mundi iubar, robur Ecclesiæ,
plebis amor, cleri deliciæ.
Salve, gregis tutor egregie,
salva tuæ gaudentes gloriæ.

Ant. Hail, O Thomas! sceptre
of justice, light of the earth,
strong champion of the Church,
beloved of the people, favourite
of the clergy! Hail, admirable
keeper of the Flock! keep in
safety all us who rejoice in

Monday, December 26, 2005

Europe Celebrates the Empty Manger

Thou shalt kill. Or else. So says the unutterably civilized European Union to the Catholic doctors in its member states. Abortion, the holy sacrament of the degenerate left, is so sacrosanct that it trumps conscientious objection. Brussels Journal relates the sorry tale here.

Where This Blog Got Its Name

A Child of the Snows

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

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

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

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

- G.K. Chesterton

[You can find where we got our address by scrolling to the very bottom of this page.]

On the second day of Christmas. . .

. . .I found this: The Night Before Christmas as written by Ernest Hemingway. Actually written by James Thurber. Well, of course, TNBC was actually written by Clement Moore. But. . .oh, just click the link.

[Noticed at Lex Communis, for which many thanks.]

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas, 1916

From the second world war to the first. This is an excerpt from Merry in God, the biography of Fr William Doyle, S.J. a chaplain in the Irish regiments in World War I whose cause for canonisation is being investigated. The Christmas being described is that of 1916. Fr Doyle had just been transferred earlier that December from the Royal Irish Fusiliers to the 8th battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

Christmas itself Fr. Doyle had the good luck of spending in billets. He got permission from General Hickie to have Midnight Mass for his men in the Convent. The chapel was a fine large one, as in pre-war times over three hundred boarders and orphans were resident in the Convent; and by opening folding-doors the refectory was added to the chapel and thus doubled the available room. An hour before Mass every inch of space was filled, even inside the altar rails and in the corridor, while numbers had to remain in the open. Word had in fact gone round about the Mass, and men from other battalions came to hear it, some having walked several miles from another village. Before the Mass there was strenuous Confession-work. " We were kept hard at work hearing Confessions all the evening till nine o'clock," writes Fr. Doyle, "the sort of Confessions you would like, the real serious business, no nonsense and no trimmings. As I was leaving the village church, a big soldier stopped me to know, like our Gardiner Street friend, ' if the Fathers would be sittin' any more that night.' He was soon polished off, poor chap, and then insisted on escorting me home. He was one of my old boys, and having had a couple of glasses of beer —'It wouldn't scratch the back of your throat, Father, that French stuff'— was in the mood to be complimentary. 'We miss you sorely, Father, in the battalion,' he said, ' we do be always talking about you.' Then in a tone of great confidence : 'Look, Father, there isn't a man who wouldn't give the whole world, if he had it, for your little toe ' That's the truth.' The poor fellow meant well, but 'the stuff that would not scratch his throat' certainly helped his imagination and eloquence. I reached the Convent a bit tired, intending to have a rest before Mass, but found a string of the boys awaiting my arrival, determined that they at least would not be left out in the cold. I was kept hard at it hearing Confessions till the stroke of twelve and seldom had a more fruitful or consoling couple of hours' work, the love of the little Babe of Bethlehem softening hearts which all the terrors of war had failed to touch." The Mass itself was a great success and brought consolation and spiritual peace to many a war-weary exile. This is what Fr. Doyle says :

"I sang the Mass, the girls' choir doing the needful. One of the Tommies, from Dolphin's Barn sang the Adeste beautifully with just a touch of the sweet Dublin accent to remind us of 'home, sweet home,' the whole congregation joining in the chorus. It was a curious contrast : the chapel packed with men and officers, almost strangely quiet and reverent (the nuns were particularly struck by this), praying and singing most devoutly, while the big tears ran down many a rough cheek : outside the cannon boomed and the machine-guns spat out a hail of lead : peace and good will -- hatred and blood-shed!"

"It was a Midnight Mass none of us will ever forget. A good 500 men came to Holy Communion, so that I was more than rewarded for my work."

On Christmas Day itself all was quiet up at the front line. The Germans hung white flags all along their barbed wire and did not fire a shot all day, neither did the English. For at least one day homage was paid to the Prince of Peace.

Piping Picture for Christmas Week

The picture, shot on Christmas Day, 1944, somewhere in the freezing mountains of the Abruzzi, is taken from Colin Gunner's riveting story of the Irish Brigade's campaigns during the second world war, Front of the Line. Note the two drone pipes played in this Irish battalion. Here is Gunner's description of that day:

The road to Rionero snaked and twisted and always rose higher into the sea of peaks, but the sun shone and some of the marching troops had their jackets slung that warm and spring-like morning until the sky filled like a cistern, the day becme twilight, and the wind, the child of Heaven, came bellowing and cryng down from the now invisible hieghts. Snow we had never dreamed existed hit us, flakes that hissed on the engine covers, hissed, hit again, and choked exhausts and vents; snow that blotted out the carrier in front and drove the marching troops into the lee of any vehicle that could be seen in the white, grey, black bedlam of whistles and wind squalls.

Every carrier became its own little world, every man his own igloo as we struggled on to Rionero and hoped for cover and warmth. The Germans had denied us that by the simple means of attaching a Teller mine to every wall in the village and exploding them. To rub it in they had written up: 'Hope you like your winter billets, Tommy.", on the signpost outside the village. So it was, that when we did slither into the village it only resembled a white ruin with the odd wall or chimney sticking up out of the drifts. Those who got there scratched around like weasels for some hole to burrow in or simply slung a cover over the carriers and, running the engines until the petrol gave out, crouched in them all night.

. . . . .

It was homely when night fell and the great crests glistened in the moon and starlight to hear the old familiar banshee wail of the pipes as [Adjutant] Brian Clark ordered the duty piper to play 'Officer's Mess' outside their shored-up cowshed and let the world know that tempests may rage but the machine of the Regiment grinds on, and it was to this lamplit hovel that a written note bade me report for dinner.

Christmas Day

No midnight Mass. But we did get to the wonderful "Third Christmas Mass - in Daylight" (the Puer natus est nobis Mass)celebrated in the ancient Roman Rite at Santa Teresita Chapel.

For Christmas, something from the Blessed Ildefonse Cardinal Schuster's Liber Sacramentorum on this "Third Mass" and Christmas Day in the Rome of long ago:

Up to the time of Gregory VII (1073-85) the third Christmas station was held, as was usual in Rome on very solemn days, at St Peter's, as if to keep Christmas as a family feast around the mensa Petri - the table of the common father and shepherd. The shortness of the winter days, however, and the difficulty of going in procession to the Vatican in those troublous times when the Pope was actually torn from the altar ad præsepe at the midnight Mass, and was dragged off as the prisoner of a hostile faction, caused the Liberian Basilica to be preferred as being nearer to the Lateran, the more so as during the eleventh century St Peter's several times fell into the hands of schismatics and their anti-popes.

This custom, which was first made necessary by the difficulties of the times, ended by becoming permanent, and the station at St Mary Major was substituted for that at St Peter's , with this difference, however, that whereas the midnight Mass was celebrated in the oratory ad præsepe, which could accommodate only a limited number of persons, the third Mass took place in the vast aula of Sicininus, which had been restored by Liberius (352-66) and Sixtus III (432-40).

When the Pontiff entered the church – so the ancient Ordines Romani describe the ceremony – the cubicularii received him under a kind of baldachino, and the Pope, holding a taper affixed to the end of a rod, set the two alight which had been entwined in the capitals of the pillars.

This rite, which at the present day [i.e., early 20th century] takes place only on the occasion of the consecration of the Sovereign Pontiff, typified festive joy, as well as providing a figura finis mundi per ignem, but this secondary and symbolical meaning was not attached to it until much later. In more recent times the primitive meaning has undergone yet another modification. As the Pontiff, in all his glory, approaches the altar of St Peter in order to put on the triple crown, a master of ceremonies displays the burning tow before him, saying : Pater sancte, sic transit gloria mundi. The lesson is a deep one, but the Humanists of the Renaissance, to whom we owe it, did not seem in the least to comprehend the unsuitableness of reciting it before the Head of the Faith just as he was in the act of taking possession of the papal throne.

When the procession reached the presbyterium, the primicerius, having removed the Pope's mitre, kissed him on the shoulder, and the Pope, in his turn, having kissed the Codex of the Gospels, exchanged the Kiss of Peace with the senior cardinal-bishop, and surrounded by his seven deacons, began the liturgical action.

After the Collect, the lesser clergy, under the direction of the archdeacon, sang a series of acclamations in the form of a litany — as is always customary at the coronation of a Pope — in honour of the Pontiff, who repaid this compliment by presenting each of them with three pieces of silver. At the Offertory seven other ecclesiastics — bishops and cardinal-priests — went up to the altar and celebrated with the Pope; in fact, this rite of the eucharistic concelebration at a solemn papal Mass was maintained in Rome for a very long time.

At the conclusion of the holy sacrifice the Pontiff was crowned by the archdeacon with the regnum — the second and third crowns were added during the period of the papal exile at Avignon — and the splendid cortege set out on horseback to return to the Lateran, where they dined. Before getting off their horses the cardinals drew up in order in front of the little Basilica of Zacharias, where — like the Polichronion of the Byzantine Court at the Christmas festival — the archpriest of St Lawrence similarly intoned : Summo et egregio ac ter beatissimo papae N. vita. His fellow-priests answered three times : Deus conservet eum. Salvator mundi, or Sancta Maria, omnes sancti, replied the archpriest, and at each invocation the others answered in chorus : Tu ilium adjuva. The Pope gave thanks for these good wishes and distributed three pieces of silver money to each of the cardinals. The judges then came forward, and the primicerius intoned Hunc diem, upon which the rest repeatedly exclaimed: Multos annos. The archpriest then continued, Tempora bona habeas, and the others sang in conclusion : Tempora bona habeamus omnes.

Then at last the Pope dismounted, and, having entered one of the halls, made the customary distribution of money to his attendants, following, in so doing, an ancient tradition of the Caesars. It is very interesting to note how the papal court of the Middle Ages preserved so many traditions of the imperial era of Rome and Byzantium. In addition to the customary gratuities received by all alike, twenty pieces of money went to the Prefect of the city, four to the judges and to the bishops, three to the cardinal-priests and deacons, and two to the lesser clergy and to the singers. When everyone present had been gladdened by this largess, they sat down to the banquet which was spread in the great triclinium of Leo III (795-816), the mosaic apse of which is still to be seen on the piazza of the Lateran in a building of later date, completed in the time of Benedict XIV (1740-56). Near the Pope at table there sat — in their sacred vestments — on the right the cardinal-bishops and priests, on the left the archdeacon and the primicerius with the high officials of the Court. In the middle of the hall stood the lectern with the book of homilies, from which, halfway through the banquet, a deacon read a passage from one of the Fathers. The reading did not last long; the Pope sent an acolyte to invite the schola to perform some sequences from their collection in commemoration of Christmas, from which we learn the position allotted in Rome to the sequence as being a devout and popular but extra-liturgical chant. After the singers had given proof of their musical skill, they were admitted to kiss the Pope's foot, while he graciously offered to each one a cup of wine and a piece of money (bezant). What poetry lay in these ancient ceremonies of papal Rome, and, above all, what an influence the sacred Liturgy exercised over the whole religious life of the people !

Hodie Christus natus est pro nobis. . . .

When Thou showest Thy power, princely state shall be Thine; amid the splendour of the holy places, Thou art my Son, born before the daystar rises. Ps cix:3

Midnight Mass is beginning as I type this. But if I went to it I would never make it up in time to take my friend Carlo to the 10:00 a.m. at Santa Teresita, bone lazy clot that I am. But it's still good to think of Midnight Mass in the Serra Chapel and unite myself with it.

But that's enough for tonight. And you'll be delighted to know that the LAST MINUTE preparations were completed. I know you were worried.

A very Merry Christmas to all.

And so to bed.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

What Does The Prayer Really Say?

New on the blogroll: In addition to his weekly Wanderer column, "What Does the Prayer Really Say?", Fr Zuhlsdorf has added a blog of the same name. There is already much good stuff there. Clicke, lege.

Last Minute Preparations. . . .

There wasn't much posting this week due to last minute preparations. There isn't much posting again today due to LAST MINUTE preparations.

Hodie scietis, quia veniet Dominus, et salvabit nos; et mane videbitis gloriam eius Christmas Eve Introitus

Tollite portas, principes, vestras: et elevamini, portæ æternales; introibit Rex gloriæ Christmas Eve Offertorium

LORDE rayse up thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our synnes and wickednes, we be soore lette and hindred, thy bountifull grace and mercye, through the satisfaccion of thy sonne our Lord, may spedily deliver us; to whom with thee and the holy gost be honor and glory, worlde without ende. The Book of Common Prayer

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Benedict XVI: Cake, Wine, and Rosaries for Christmas

Is it absolutely certain that Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope and not G.K. Chesterton?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Oh, dear this very late

It'a already the 4th Sunday of Advent. So it's very likely that you've already missed the Tubachristmas concert. It's not absolutely certain that it's too late for the one in your area. You can check the schedule here. It may just still be possible for you to hear an hour or two of traditional Christmas music played on a hundred or so tubas and euphonia. (With maybe the odd Sousaphone. Not every location adheres strictly to the rubrics.)

I probably would have forgotten to remind you at all. Fortunately, the first antiphon for vespers tonight provided the proper seasonal nudge: Canite tuba in Sion, quia prope est dies Domini: ecce veniet ad salvandum nos, alleluia, alleluia.

Tubachristmas; A Short History

Tubachristmas in Los Angeles is already over. It was last week. But there is one coming up in Anaheim this Thursday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

St John of the Cross

The Pauline Rite keeps the memorial of St John of the Cross today. The Discalced Carmelite Order keeps it as a Solemnity. There is a quite a bit on the web about St John. This page contains a little vita and some good links near the bottom. The hymn for Lauds in the English version of the Carmelite Propers for today is a poem of Sr Miriam of the Holy Spirit, a lovely, mystical verse appropriate for the author of The Ascent of Mount Carmel:

Let us together
Up the high mountain
Go where the weather
Keeps a June glow
You in your beauty,
Where'er we go.

Up past the steepest
Cliffs of our striving,
Up from the deepest
Thickets of pain
Where darkness bound you,
Ravaged and slew you,
Till daybreak found you,
Risen again.

Haste then our going
Up the high mountain,
Pure water flowing
Down from the height,
Wind in the spruces
Light on the aspens,
Fruit of sweet juices--
All give delight.

Deep caverns holding
Secrets of heaven,
Summits unfolding
Myst'ries divine,
Nightingale singing,
Grove lit with beauty--
Each new day bringing
Taste of new wine.

Sweet the ascending
Up the high mountain,
Sweeter the ending--
Love spread abroad.
Everyone sharing
Grace of your image.
Everyone bearing
The beauty of God.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Alive With Speculation

The traditional Roman corner of the web is, indeed, alive with speculation. Yesterday this little notice appeared on the Vatican website:


On Saturday, December 10, it was made public that the Holy Father appointed:

. . . . . .

- Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, apostolic nuncio to Indonesia and East Timor, as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

And we said to each other pretty much what you're saying now: "Eh? Who's he?"

The first indications that I read were not promising: a speech that used the phrases beloved of Asian Renewal Theology and the radical "inculturation"-ists.

But some other views of the new secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship then began to be seen. We learned that the Archbishop wrote an article for L'Osservatore Romano in 2004 praising Redemptionis Sacramentum and criticizing liturgical free-wheeling. And then this appeared in the Holy Whapping's comment box, a quotation from an article in an Italian paper, Il Giornale, which reads:

An expert of Sacred Scripture, Ranjith was well known by Joseph Ratzinger: the new Secretary of the Vatican department for Liturgy was in fact one of the front-line Asian bishops affriming the salvific unicity of Christ in the diverse and difficult religious landscape of those countries, where even Catholic theologians seem to indulge in syncretistic conceptions at times. His return to the Curia is of particular meaning also for the perspectives of the liturgical reform and for the possible return of the Lefebvrists to the full communion with Rome.

As a matter of fact, Msgr Ranjith is an esteemed prelate among traditionalists and Lefebvre's followers, and in the april of 2004 he signed one of the first authoritative comments to thew Instruction Redemptionis sacramentum, the document against liturgical abuses. In that text, the new Secretary of CDW recognized that in some cases the conciliar reform didn't bring the results that were hoped, and denounced a "reductionist interpretation" of the Eucharistic sacrament and the many irregularities in its celebration.

Another correspondent provided a link to the Archbishop's L'Osservatore article (it's here) in which there is no hint of inculturation. Instead we find:

The great liturgical reform does not seem to have given rise to the
desired reawakening and reinforcement of the faith, especially in the
ancient Christian Churches.


I think that the general problem was an erroneous idea of the purpose
of the Council. Indeed, speaking of the conciliar reforms, Cardinal
Joseph Ratzinger says: "The [Council] Fathers wanted to update the
faith, indeed, to present it with its full impact. Instead, people
gradually formed the idea that the reform consisted merely of throwing
out the ballast, in other words, of divesting it so that in the end
the reform did not appear to radicalize the faith but to dilute it"
(Il Sale della Terra, p. 86).

And just this evening this arrived in my In Box, a citation to a 2002 article in The Angelus, the magazine in the United States of the Society of St Pius X. The article is here. It is by Fr Franz Schmidberger, at the time of writing the First Assistant to the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X. The relevant quotation is almost half-way down on the cited page, just a couple of paragraphs down from the subheading "Glimmers of Hope":

Another tiny light of hope is the appointment of a bishop from Sri Lanka to the Roman Curia. His name is Bishop Malcolm Ranjith [say: Ran'-jit]. I had
the opportunity to meet him last year in March (2001) in his diocese in the
bishop's house in Ratnapura, located in the middle of Sri Lanka. We had a
very good discussion for two hours. He told me, there is no doubt that there
is a profound link between the crisis of the priesthood, the crisis of the
identity of the priest, on the one side, and all that is going on in the
liturgy on the other side. He said if we want to restore the Church, if we
want to bring a true renewal to the Church, we must begin there, in the very
center. We understood each other very well.

At the very beginning of the month of October, we suddenly heard that Bishop
Ranjith was nominated an Archbishop, and that he was appointed Joint
Secretary to the Congregations for the Propaganda of the Faith and the
Evangelization of the People in Rome. Some days later, I again had the
opportunity to meet him, because he has a married sister in Germany. Once
again, we had a very deep and very healthy conversation, and he said, "I
agree 200% with you that there really is a problem in the Church with the
liturgy and the priesthood, and both go together. We must work on this, and
there is no doubt that the Pope has to set free the true Catholic Mass for
everyone-I am going now to Rome where I will have my private chapel. I have
just taken care to get a Missal of St. Pius V to celebrate Mass as it should

Things may indeed be looking up for the classical Roman Rite. Even the Pauline Rite might be made presentable. It could happen.

[Addendum: It looks like Dom Bettinelli was the source for my source on that last SSPX item. In any event, he has a post that sure looks like it here.]

Europe Doesn't Like Us


Ho, hum.

"Partner with us. . ."

So begins the alumni letter I received this morning from my erstwhile high school. They are full of good news about the wonderful things they are doing and, purely as an afterthought mind you, wonder if I would be interested in sending them some money.

Well, I have no money but we won't dwell on that. And we will merely mention in passing the similarity at this school between Holy Mass and a pep rally. Instead, the world should note here that I am not currently writing out a cheque to my alma mater for one reason only: I am humiliated to find that I have graduated from an educational institution that now believes "partner" is a verb.

Brother John would never have countenanced such a thing.

All You Ever Wanted to Know About the Mozetta

. . .can be found here. And with loads of pictures wherein you can spend the afternoon trying to discern red from violet, purple, scarlet, and, God save us, amaranth.

Mozetta commentary is available from Zadok the Roman and from Rocco's Loggia. One happy, one not. At least I think not. Rocco may sometimes be too much like the present writer: having so much fun with snarky comments that it comes off ornerier than is meant.

Monday, December 12, 2005

And the sun being over the yardarm. . .

. . .it would be appropriate to raise a toast to Patrick O'Brian. Tom reminds us here that today is his birthday. He's read them all, the whole Aubrey/Maturin corpus. I've read most of them but not quite all. Now that I know there won't be any more, I have slowed down considerably. The Yellow Admiral awaits but I won't start it for a while yet. It seems to be a quirk unique to me. I don't know anyone else with a crotchet like this but when an author I enjoy dies, I seldom finish reading all his works. There's something about knowing there won't be any more new books. A very sad feeling. I like to keep at least one in reserve. (There may be an article in this for some aspiring psychology student. Psychology Ptoday would eat it up.)

Gentlemen: I give you Patrick O'Brian; God bless him!

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the feast of the the Patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Catholic Encyclopædia gives us the heart of the story of Our Lady's appearance on this continent.

The Washington Post has a picture essay on the Guadalupe celebrations in Washington this year.

An early account of Our Lady's visitation by Don Antonio Valeriano.

Liturgical Catch-up

Yesterday was the third Sunday of Advent: Gaudete Sunday, one of only two times during the year when rose vestments are worn.

It was also the day on which one of the old Carmelite beati was honoured. Blessed Francum Lippi is another of those saints whose feast day didn't make it past Vatican II. Here is his vita from an old Carmelite history that the Carmels of Boston and Santa Clara compiled in 1927. It seems to be taken almost word-for-word from the old second nocturn of his office:

Francum Lippi, a Brother of Carmel, born in 1211, was a glorious penitent of Sienna. From the deeps of wickedness, he rose to sublime sanctity. His life cannot be read without tears. He had innumerable and exalted visions, but never for a moment did he forget his sins, hence his macerations, and the instruments of them, still preserved, are terrible to behold. Before entering Carmel he went barefooted on a pilgrimage to Rome and was absolved by Gregory X. His spirit was tested year upon year, and it was not until he was seventy that the doors of Carmel opened to admit him. There was nothing sufficiently poor, humble or repugnant to satisfy him and he became the admiration of the community and the entire city. His cell was often so flooded with light, that it was thought to be on fire. One day, while meditating upon the Passion, Our Lord appeared to him, nailed to the Cross, his Head bound with thorns, His body covered with wounds, saying: "See, Francum, what I have suffered for men, and how slight is the gratitude they show Me." At these words Francum burst into tears and with a discipline of iron scourged himself to blood. From that time he always held a crucifix in his hand.

His love for silence was so great he kept a leaden pellet in his mouth that he might be reminded never to speak without necessity, but his devotion to the crucifix was ever his distinguishing feature. He wished to die upon a cross like our Saviour, and his last words were, "Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit." Immediately after the air resounded with angelic voices leading his soul to Paradise, and such prodigies and miracles ensued, that in 1308, only sixteen years after his death, (December 11, 1291), Clement V beatified him at the supplication of Sienna and all Tuscany.

Ah, they don't write 'em like that any more.

These days there is a new saint filling the December 11 slot on the Carmelite calendar, Saint Maria Maravillas of Jesus, a Spanish nun and mystic who endured the horrors of the Communist atrocities in the Spain of the 1930's. There are several websites relating her story. This one gives a fairly complete life story. This one has a shorter version but contains a few pictures, apparently based upon photographs. This one is more of a meditation on the spiritual lessons of her life. And the Vatican website has this to say about her.

Summit Meetings

For those of us who languish in the liturgical desert that is the Archdiocese of Hollywood, where Mass in the traditional Roman Rite is rationed out in miserly servings of one (1) per week (except on the third Sunday when we fast from such things) this sort of meeting is endlessly fascinating. Trads ponder it the way the Washington Post meditates on international gatherings at Camp David.

The original notice in Italian can be found here. The Remnant provided an English version here. The heart of it:

A traditionalist dinner by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy, who received Lefebvrites in his Roman residence, in Piazza della Citta Leonina, a stone’s throw from the Vatican.

The influential Columbian Cardinal, appointed by the Pope to entertain relations with the traditionalists, has invited to dinner, with the utmost discretion, Monsignor Bernard Fellay, successor to Marcel Lefebvre at the head of the Society of St. Pius X (so the community is called that comprises the Lefebvrites), and Don Marc Nély, Superior of the Italian District of the Society. Witnesses report that it was much more than a simple lunch break: the Lefebvrists, in cassock, arrived in great secrecy at the residence of the Cardinal about 11:00 a.m. and departed after 4:00 p.m.

A protracted luncheon in Italy is not unheard of. But five hours? Dare we hope substantive issues were put on the table also and maybe even, Deo volente, settled?


Friday, December 09, 2005

The Strand

Have I ever mentioned The Strand Magazine here? The latest number, which actually arrived some time ago, came to the top of the stack today. It's one of the last periodical refuges for short stories, and most are very good indeed.

This is not the old Strand in which Conan Doyle got his start. That one is long gone. This reincarnation, started only 4 or 5 years ago, is dedicated to the detective story with at least one story or essay on Sherlock Holmes in each issue. In addition there are reviews of 'tec novels and collections, interviews - the current number interviews P.D. James - and the excellent short stories.

$20 more of less for a large-size quarterly, glossy paper, loads of pictures, even purpose-drawn illustrations which you don't see anywhere any more. You can't go wrong. The Strand's website is here.

{No, I don't get a kickback. However, should one be offered. . . .]

Thursday, December 08, 2005

In Conceptione Immaculata Beatæ Mariæ Virginis

The fact that the Virgin Mother of God had at the moment of her Conception triumphed over the foul enemy of man, hath ever been borne out by the Holy Scriptures, by the venerable tradition of the Church, and by her unceasing belief, as well as by the common conviction of all Bishops and faithful Catholics, and by marked acts and constitutions of the Holy See. At length the Supreme Pontiff Pius IX, in compliance with the wishes of the Universal Church, determined to publish it as a truth of faith, on his own absolute and unerring authority, and accordingly, on the 6th of the Ides of December [the 8th day of December] 1854, in the Vatican Basilica, in the presence of a great multitude composed of the Fathers Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and Bishops from all parts of the earth, he, with the consent and jubilation of the whole world, declared and defined as follows : That doctrine which declareth that the most blessed Virgin Mary was in the first instant of her Conception preserved, by a special privilege granted unto her by God, from any stain of original sin, is a doctrine taught and revealed by God, and therefore is to be held by all faithful Christians firmly and constantly.

-from the Acta of the Blessed Pope Pius IX and appointed as the 6th Lesson for Matins in the traditional Roman Breviary.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Habemus Manager

So the announcement went from the McCourts to the three or four remaining Dodger fans. It was Grady Little who appeared on the balcony after the white smoke drifted off over Chavez Ravine. He seems an excellent choice to me. Especially considering who else was on offer. (Some very likely candidates apparently hid under the bed until they were assured that the McCourts had given up ringing the bell and had driven off.)

But there are two schools of thought on Mr Little. Bill Plaschke thinks it is a great choice. Bob Keisser thinks it's a disaster. I agree with Bill. Even if Bob is right and Little's great fault is not listening to the owner's instructions, considering the Dodger ownership, this is yet another check mark in the plus column.

But I did forget St Nicholas Day

. . .which was yesterday.

Well, not so much forget as run out of time. So a day late, and in honour of the great bishop, who according to one story punched an Arian bishop in the nose at the Council of Nicæa, ecumenism not being his strong suit, the old collect for his feast:

Deus, qui beatum Nicolaum Pontificem tuum innumeris decorasti miraculis: tribue, quæsumus; ut eius meritis et precibus a gehennæ incendiis liberemur. Per Dominum. Amen.

O God, Who didst glorify the blessed bishop Nicholas by countless miracles, grant, we pray Thee, that by his merits and prayers we may be delivered from the fires of hell: through our Lord. Amen.

That gets right to the point, doesn't it.

The collect in the Pauline rite is completely different and, avoiding those outdated and problematical miracles, sticks to praying that via salutis nobis pateat expedita. A noble sentiment, no doubt. And it has the added benefit of preventing the modern, educated, wise and independent laity from coming over all faint at the mention of the fires of hell.

In the English, the ICEL dilutes it anyway. Just to be on the safe side.

And so it goes.

Oh, who loves Nicholas the saintly!
Oh, who serves Nicholas the saintly!
Him will Nicholas receive
And give help in time of need,
Holy Father Nicholas!

December 7, 1941 - A date that will live in infamy. . .

. . .but not it seems in the Los Angeles Times. No mention this morning. (Strange that, when you think about it. "Los Angeles Times". "Infamy". Hmmm.) Unless, of course, you count this review in the Calendar section of a sympathetic book on those normal, every-day, decent fellows the kamikaze pilots. There weren't any at Pearl Harbor in 1941 but it's as close as I could find to a reference to this day's antecedents in the Los Angeles Newspaper Monopoly.

The Long Beach Press Telegram did a bit better: two large photographs on the front page of the "California" section with a large half-page article continued-on-the-inside. It turned out to be mostly about video games, although still sympathetic to a loss of the sense of history. Tom Hennessy's column was rather what I was looking for.

I don't know if this post is so much about patriotism as it is a lament for the passage of time from a middle-aged grump. When I was growing up every house in our neighbourhood was headed by a World War II veteran. Some had two. (Except the Paulings. But Mr Pauling was quite old and neighbourhood rumor had it that he had been in the horse cavalry which made him something of an icon in my eyes. Alas, he never talked about it and I was a little afraid of him and never asked.) So World War II and its significant dates were the background of my childhood, ever-present and never to be forgotten. Tarawa, Guadalcanal, and Okinawa were names to conjure with in our house. Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge, where his dad was surrounded, was of more significance at Ronnie Cranford's house.

Forget December 7th? Never.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Usquequo oblivisceris in finem?

Found while looking for something else: Cut Down the Phone Tree tells you how to cut through the telephonic button pushing at over a hundred organizations and reach a human being. It doesn't, alas, guarantee that you will get hold of someone who speaks American English instead of highly accented pidgin. But you can't have everything in this life. And it's a start.

Don't say you never learned anything useful from this highly opinionated enterprise.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Illinois and Walgreens

I can't boycott either one since I never go to either place. But this sort of thing makes me want to.