Wednesday, February 25, 2009

From the Mail

The latest number of Gilbert Magazine: Outlining Sanity came today. I haven't done more than thumb through it so far but this quote from the sainted GK stood out:

If the modern world will not insist on having some sharp and definite moral law, the modern world will simply be given over as a spoil to anybody who can manage a nasty thing in a nice way.

Good heavens. And to think the sainted GK died in 1936. Nostradamus, look to your laurels.

Ash Wednesday

Useful references and appealing illustrations.

Whimsical and not quite so useful, but I enjoyed them: click here and here. And fairly accurate for a daily newspaper, even if not wholly in earnest.

Hearken to the sighs of Thy people who cry to Thee, O Lord, we beseech Thee. Grant that we who rely not upon our own merits may find mercy in Thy sight, not the judgement we have deserved.
Lovingly pardon, O Lord, we beseech Thee, all our sins, so that, having obtained remission of our offences, we may serve Thee with hearts unfettered by sin.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, afford the help of Thy consolations to Thy people, and in Thy mercy help them to bear the burden of their daily cares. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

--from Ancestral Prayers, "prayers used by our forefathers before the Norman Conquest". Edited and translated by Abbot Gasquet

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Some Piping for the Weekend

It would seem from some later reports that the Strathclyde Police PB is down but not yet out. Good news.

And so long as we're talking about the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band (a.k.a. "the polis"), here are some samples for your piping weekend:

A classic march, strathspey, and reel performance from 23 years ago:

This is last year's medley performance at the Cowal games:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Tremendous Loss for Piping

I mean the wanton destruction of the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band by blinkered, tin-eared bureaucrats. The story is here.

Speaking of Book-Burning. . . .

. . . .which we weren't exactly, although Someone Else was just recently, a link to this article arrived in my inbox this morning. And this isn't just a bit of fun with one copy of one silly book. This is the United States government in the person of the Consumer Product Safety Commission deciding that children's literature published before 1985 should be as unavailable as possible.

Apparently our beloved protectors in Washington have discovered that legions of tiny tots throughout the land, having wolfed down entire five foot shelves of pre-1985 books, are being struck down with lead poisoning. No actual cases at this point, but it stands to reason doesn't it, what with all those lead-filled chidren's books out there. And one can't be too careful if one is a consumer product safety commissioner.

Of course, this will leave Heather and her Two Mommies prominently on the bookshelf and Laura Ingalls Wilder not so much. But that's just a co-incidence.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday 17 February -- Aimless Rambling and Some Feast Days

It was lashing with rain most of yesterday. Today it's an on-and-off sort of thing. Temperatures are in the high 50's. We have a couple of very confused rose bushes; 80's and 90's and extremely dry in January and now 50's and wet in February. They started blooming a couple of weeks ago and are now regretting the whole project. The almanac says there are 31 days until spring and tomorrow will be sunny and in the 60's. We shall see. My new dancing shoes have not arrived yet. The foot with the plantar fasciitis is growing impatient. In the meantime, this stuff seems to help quite a bit. Recommended. My computer is on the disabled list. Again. Needed a new video card. Installing a new video card is a bit trickier than they will tell you over the telephone. We await the repairman. Herself is kindly allowing me to write this on her own machine.

There are three saints in the old Irish calendar today. The first is St Finan, who succeeded St Aidan at Lindisfarne. St Aidan "gathered all of Northumbria to the faith" says Mrs D'Arcy. And "Bishop Finan carried forward into the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The English historian Bede tells that the people flocked joyfully to hear the Word, that 'the English great and small were by their Irish masters instructed in the rules and observances of regular discipline.'"

He rebuilt the monastery of Lindisfarne, building it of "hewn oak with a thatched roof, 'after the manner of the Scots.'"

St Finan remained loyal to the traditions of his fathers in the faith, of St Colmcille and St Aidan, to the end of his life. "Nothing could move Finan from the traditions of Colmcille. Commendable in every way, blameful in none, Finan died as he had lived, true in every smallest way to the traditions of Iona and the holy men from whom he proceeded. Aidan's regime won all of Northumbria. Under Finan, Celtic jurisdiction reached the Thames and the diocese of London where the Canterbury mission had failed."

The second Irish saint honoured today is St Fintan of Clonenagh. Relying again on Mrs D'Arcy's wonderful Saints of Ireland, we learn that St Fintan "surpassed his teacher, Colman of Terryglass, and all the other abbots of his time in the austerity of his life and Rule." In spite of the second Vatican Council being 1400 years in the future, St Fintan still had to deal with some local ecclesiastics who found him lamentably pre-conciliar. Too rigid. Too strict. Too unbending. Unsuitable for the Modern Church. In desperate need of some aggiornamento. He thanked them for their kind attentions, and carried on as usual. And as you might expect, he encountered the same problem his successors in religion, the monks of Clear Creek, the Carmelite Monks in Wyoming, the Fraternity of St Peter, and so forth, encounter today: overcrowding.

And finally today is also the feast of the 5th century Irish prince and bishop, Fortchern. He father was the local king and was converted by Loman, one of St Patrick's disciples, and offered up to St Patrick and the church "his territory with all his goods and with all his race." St Patrick consecrated Loman bishop of Trim, which included that territory. St Fortchern was appointed to succeed Loman as bishop of that same area. But he felt he was thereby taking back his father's gift and resigned his see of Trim after only a few days.

There was a famous shrine with a miracle-working statue of Our Lady in Trim which was much visited during the middle ages which had "graces dispensed without number". The story which is included in the entry for St Fortchern is worth repeating:

Henry VIII's relic-burning archbishop of Dublin,George Brown, about 1554, at first disavowed any intention of destroying the famous shrine at Trim: "There goeth a common bruite among the Irishmen that I intend to ploke down Our Lady of Tryme with other places of pilgrimage as the Holy Cross and such like, which indeade I never attempted though my conscience would right well serve to oppress such idollys." His "consicence" would not be denied, however, and the wooden statue was soon thrown on the fire in the market place at Trim.

It is believed that the statue was rescued before being badly harmed and that it was kept in great reverence in a Catholic home in Trim. In 1642, Sir Charles Coote came to garrison Trim and lodged himself in the residence that housed the holy relic. He complained of cold and his son hit upon the great ancient sculpture of Our Lady hidden there, a treasure above price in the Irish church. He chopped it up for firewood. But before Sir Charles got to warm himself, the Irish advanced on the city and Coote fell in action defending Trim for the parliamentarians.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sexagesima Sunday

Today is Sexasgesima Sunday in the traditional Roman Rite. The epistle for today, chanted in Latin at St Therese's, as always, is taken from 2d Corinthians and includes that section in which St Paul talks about the "sting", the "thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan sent to buffet" him. And do you know what that sting or thorn is in Latin? Why, it's "stimulus".

Just thought you'd like to know.

Some Piping for the Weekend

This is the Bushmill Irish Pipers' Band (or the Irish Pipers Band of San Francisco as they are still listed on the WUSPBA site) playing their G-III medley at the Pleasanton Games in 2007. The tune list:

The Strutting Hornpipe
The Strathspey King
Chase: The Lame Excuse
Boogaloo ... Boogalarouge*
Joe Cooley's
Gannie Anne

(*Sounds like Boulavogue to me)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

St Valentine's Day. . . .

. . .as it still is in the traditional Roman Rite.

SWMBO and I are off to the Queen Mary in a few moments for the Scottish festival. And then here this evening. So this will probably be it for the blogging wheeze today.

And, yes, Friday the 13th did come on a Friday this month. As it will next month. Mirabile dictu.

The Stimulus Package

a.k.a. the largest appropriation bill in the history of the world.

"The trouble with this country is that there are too many politicians who believe, with a conviction based on experience, that you can fool all of the people all of the time."
-- Franklin P Adams

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Pope, Bishop Williamson, and the SSPX

There was a particularly evil and bigoted article in this morning's paper by someone named Richard Cohen who apparently is syndicated by the Washington Post. I won't link to it. For anyone interested in nosing around sewers, I'm sure google will be delighted to help.

And I've been thinking about the Holy Father, the SSPX, Bishop Williamson and whole situation ever since. Thinking about it, but without coming up with anything really substantive to say about it. The best commentaries - i.e., fairest and most complete - that I've seen come from Rorate Cæli and The Remnant. There are several posts. I suggest scrolling down through both sites as the easiest way to access the relevant articles and posts.

There is one thing I haven't seen mentioned anywhere in the drive-by media's recent orgy of anti-Catholicism. Archbishop Lefebvre's father Rene was a monarchist and a member of the French resistance. He was arrested in April of 1941 by the Gestapo. He was in Nazi jails in France and Belgium and finally died of the brutal treatment he received in the Sonnenberg concentration camp, a sub-camp of Buchenwald, in 1944.

Is it relevant to the issue? Perhaps, perhaps not. Seemed interesting to me. . . .

Monday, February 09, 2009

It does rather feel like that, doesn't it

The national conversation on the economy is frozen, and has been for a while. Republicans say tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts. Democrats say spend, new programs, more money. You can't spend enough for the Democratic base, or cut taxes enough for the Republican. But in a time when all the grown-ups of America know spending is going to bankrupt us and tax cuts without spending cuts is more of the medicine that's killing us, the same old arguments, which sound less like arguments than compulsive tics, only add to the public sense that no one is in charge.

-Peggy Noonan in the WSJ, 7FEB09


Lent is sneaking up on us. Yesterday Fr Bishop unaccountably processed up the aisle wearing the purple cope. And what do you know, if it wasn't Septuagesima Sunday: we have two and a half weeks until Ash Wednesday and Lent.

With Septuagesima a sudden change of mood occurs in the liturgy. One indication of this change is the disappearance of an acclamation from the Church's official prayers and chants. We children of a generation weak in faith do not notice it, but the faithful of the Middle Ages felt it keenly: the Alleluia is discontinued and will not be heard again until Holy Saturday.

During holy Mass the divine King, as He makes His solemn entrance at the Gospel, will no longer be greeted with a festive Alleluia. Neither will the eight canonical hours of the day be introduced by a joyous Alleluia; in its place we sing or say, "Praise be to You, O Lord, king of everlasting glory!" Certainly this is a beautiful greeting; nevertheless it is a sub­stitute, one, however, which allows us to divine what the Church means by the acclamation it replaces.

What is meant by "Alleluia"? The expression comes from the Hebrew Hallelu-Yah and means "Praise Yahweh (God)." But even in the Old Testament it had already lost its literal meaning and had become a cry of joy. In the Book of Tobias we read, "In the streets (of the heavenly Jerusalem) Alleluia is sung" (Tob. 13:22). In this sense the first Christians received the word and used it as a song of joy, of heaven, and of resurrection. It is imbedded in the oldest strata of the liturgy; centuries pass by as it rises from the lips of Christians, and it will continue to be sung until the end of time, and then forever in the heavenly Jerusalem. The seer of the Apocalypse heard the triumphal song of "Alleluia resounding as the rushing of many waters, as the rolling of mighty thunder" (Apoc. 19:6).

In the first days of Christianity the Alleluia was used as a private ejaculatory prayer. The faithful prayed it at home, farmers behind the plow, craftsmen in their workshops. Sailors sang, "Let us begin our rowing song: Alleluia," and for Christian soldiers it served as a battle cry. With "Alleluia, the Lord is risen!" the early Christians greeted each other on Easter morning. Even the dead were buried to the strains of Alleluia. What faith, what hope in resurrection underlies an Alleluia spoken at an open grave.

But the setting par excellence for the Alleluia is the liturgy. Until the time of St. Gregory the Great the Alleluia was restricted to Easter, when it served as the chief resurrection acclamation. At the present time it accompanies the believing soul through the whole year and stamps Christian life with the seal of joy, of resurrection, and of confidence in victory. The Church sings or says it repeatedly, e.g., at the beginning of each hour of prayer in the Office (eight times a day), and as a prelude to the Gospel at holy Mass. The latter instance, which may be likened to the cry of a herald at Christ's en­trance for the Gospel, is numbered among the richest and finest choral hymns in the Roman liturgy.

Only in Pre-Lent and Lent, seasons devoted to penance for sin, does the Church refrain from voicing this cry of jubila­tion; not without emotion does she discontinue a practice to which her heart is so deeply attached. As to a dear friend Mother Church bids farewell to her beloved Alleluia on the Saturday before Septuagesima Sunday, when at the end of Vespers the acclamation is sung twice after the Benedicamus Domino and the choir responds with its twofold repetition following the Deo gratias.

In past centuries Pre-Lent was compared to the seventy-year captivity of the Jews and regarded as a time of suffering for sin. Durandus, a medieval liturgist, says, "We desist from saying Alleluia, the song chanted by angels, because we have been excluded from the company of the angels on account of Adam's sin. In the Babylon of our earthly life we sit by the streams, weeping as we remember Sion. For as the children of Israel in an alien land hung their harps upon the willows, so we too must forget the Alleluia song in the season of sadness, of penance, and bitterness of heart." (See Ps. 136, "By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept. . . .") In some churches considerable ceremony accompanied the final Alleluia. Durandus tells us, "We parted from it as from a dear friend, one whom we embrace and kiss on lips, brow, and hand many times before he leaves on an extended journey."

Today, at first Vespers of Septuagesima Sunday, we sing the Alleluia for the last time. May its message remain im­pressed indelibly upon our hearts — we are a risen, a heavenly, a joyful people. Since baptism we are a risen race — never again allow yourself to die through sin. We are citizens of heaven; our feet touch the earth, but our hearts are with Christ on high, "Your conversation is in heaven." The mark of a genuine Christian life is a cheerful spirit. Like the sun a Christian radiates light and warmth, life and joy. Let us make real effort to be cheerful and joyful; ill-humor and bad temper must never mar our conduct. With joy in our hearts we should bring joy to others. The Church's daily Alleluia preaches this sermon.

That's from volume II of Dr Parsch's The Church's Year of Grace.

Better Late Than Never

I didn't give you any piping last weekend. No excuse either; time just got away. Perhaps this will perk up your Monday and make up for it. Fin Moore plays a set of reels on the border pipe:

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there. . .

Poor Italy. It seems to have an entire army - 300,000 strong - that wasn't there.

And it won't go away either.

[For those who led a deprived childhood,
herewith the entire verse:

Yesterday upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish that he would go away

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"The Pope Has Already Spoken Clearly"

A link to the Transalpine Redemptorists who have assembled the relevant quotations.

For those who have ears to hear. . . .

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Perfect Post

The first steam locomotive built in Britain in 40 years made it's maiden run the other day.

The story can be found here in a video news clip. As someone in another forum pointed out, it sets a record for including the most things in one story that delight me: steam locomotives, regional accents, British history, traditional costumes (don't blink or you'll miss 'em), and the train is met at Newcastle by a group playing Northumbrian small pipes.

The Non-Generating Pepsi Generation

Too bad; Pepsi actually tastes better than Coke.

Fortunately, there's always a nice cuppa tea.

Assuming there's no beer.

[And thanks to The Daily Eudaemon for the pointer.]

Monday, February 02, 2009


According to the latest scientific calculations published here, there will be at least six "more" weeks of cold winter weather.

I wonder what that means? It was in the 80's all last week and, with occasional exceptions, for most of January. And it will be again today. And tomorrow. And the day after.

Perhaps I should buy a sweater.

Just in case.

Dateline: Lakewood
The Athens of Southeastern Los Angeles County

2 February -- Candlemas Day

Candlemas Day, or the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady, or the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple. Same thing; just depends on which edition of the liturgical books you're looking at.

And you must have your Christmas decorations down by today because, um, well, because.

More on Candlemas from the always interesting Recta Ratio

Jean Arthur TV-Movie Alert Service Bulletin

If you missed it last month, TCM has it on again tonight: You Can't Take it With You. You not only get Jean Arthur, but James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, and Edward Arnold but one of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's greatest plays. Tonight Monday 2 February at 9:45 p.m. PST.

And tomorrow on TCM at 5:00 p.m. PST, The More the Merrier. Plenty of time to set your Tivo.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

1 February -- St Bridget's Day


She was born at Fochard, in Ulster, soon after Ireland had been blessed with the light of faith. She received the religious veil in her youth. from the hands of St. Mel, nephew and disciple of St. Patrick. She built herself a cell under a large oak, thence called Kill-dara, or cell of the oak; living, as her name implies, the bright shining light of that country by her virtues. Being joined soon after by several of her own sex, they formed themselves into a religious community, which branched out into several other nunneries throughout Ireland; all which acknowledged her for their mother and foundress, as in effect she was of all in that kingdom. But a full account of her virtues has not been transmitted down to us, together with the veneration of her name. Her five modern lives mention little else but wonderful miracles. She flourished in the beginning of the sixth century, and is named in the Martyrology of Bede, and in all others since that age. Several churches in England and Scotland are dedicated to God under her name, as, among others, that of St. Bride in Fleet- street; several also in Germany, and some in France. Her name occurs in most copies of the Martyrology which bears the name of St. Jerome, especially in those of Esternach and Corbie, which are most ancient. She is commemorated in the divine office in most churches of Germany, and in that of Paris, till the year 1607, and in many others in France. One of the Hebrides, or western islands which belong to Scotland, near that of Ila, was called, from a famous monastery built there in her honor, Brigidiani. A church of St. Brigit, in the province of Athol, was reputed famous for miracles, and a portion of her relics was kept with great veneration in a monastery of regular canons at Aburnethi, once capital of the kingdom of the Picts, and a bishopric, as Major mentions.[1] Her body was found with those of SS. Patrick and Columba, in a triple vault in Down-Patrick, in 1185, as Giraldus Cambrensis informs us:[2] they were all three translated to the cathedral of the same city; but their monument was destroyed in the reign of king Henry VIII.[3] the head of St. Bride is now kept in the church of the Jesuits at Lisbon.[4] See Bollandus, Feb. t. 1, p. 99.

From Fr Butler's Lives of the Saints found here.

It's also my grandmother's birthday. Were she alive, she'd be 130 today.

The Burns Ball

"How did the dancing go last night?" I hear you asking.

Wonderfully. I can tell by the number of muscles that ache this morning. And the piping went well, too. I kept the 2/4 beat in my head and paced the opening low-A-to-throw-on-D correctly so that "A Man's A Man for A' That" did not unconsciously turn into "The Bugle Horn". I hate it when that happens.

And so the mind is full of SCD and wonderful rhythms this morning. Therefore here's a sample. This is a performance team's highly choreographed and precisely phrased version of Scottish Country Dancing:

And here's a sample of some rather more common social dancing which you're likely to encounter at a Burns' Ball or an ordinary monthly SCD party: