Monday, November 30, 2009

The Weekend

We went to the St Andrew's Ball on Saturday night. That's a picture of my feet not dancing, which is what I did the entire night: not dance. The plantar fasciitis has kicked in with a vengeance and walking isn't even on the menu at the moment. My foot is taped to a fare-thee-well, I have a brace to wear at night, I have tablets to take, I have been injected with. . .something (as I understand it, it is no longer legal for me to play major league baseball), I have exercizes to do, and other things not to do.

But I went to the ball anyway. The music was excellent, I had already bought the tickets, and the company was very good. As it happens, they asked me to play for the Grand March, too. Rather at the last minute. Apparently getting a piper for the Grand March sort of fell through the organizational cracks. It's a good job I had the pipes I was practicing with in the trunk of the car still. It was Granuaille, my Irish pipes, but I don't think anyone noticed. (Thanks again for the Hardie chanter, Ziggy. Once again, it sounded really well with the warpipes.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Swiss?? Really?

It says here the Swiss just voted to ban any more minarets in Switzerland. Not mosques in general, certainly not Islam, not burkas like the French did, and not jihad, or radical imams. And not further immigration. (Perish forbid! as my grandma used to say.) And not all minarets. Just additional minarets.



I guess.

Didn't know they had it in 'em. . . I can think of more useful restrictions, though.

Some Piping for the Weekend

The pipers are Ailean Domhnullach on the Scottish smallpipes in A and Ronan Browne playing the Irish uilleann pipe. Who the others are who join in, I have no idea. Once again, it becomes rather pointless for the smallpipes to continue with the ensemble. They're too gentle to be heard. Good music anyway.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

We Really Are Doomed

Further evidence in the WSJ this morning.

No, no not economic statistics. This article by Joe Queenan. He spends a couple of pages taking the mickey out of The Sainted One's spend-us-out-of-the-recession plan and the Christmas buying frenzy. Not an overwhelmingly funny piece, but pretty good. Better than I could do. Sample:

Electronic book readers are hot this year. But one niggling problem with the Kindle 2 and Barnes & Noble's Nook is that unless people creep up and peer over your shoulder, it's not obvious to them what you're reading. For years, I've noticed that people ostentatiously read books on public transportation in a deliberate attempt to edify others ("Outliers," "SuperFreakonomics," "The Black Swan"). But people also show off their reading material to annoy people. I have a friend who carries Glenn Beck's "Arguing with Idiots" everywhere he goes merely to enrage all the wistful types who still have Al Gore bumper stickers on their hybrids. He is not a nice man. And he'll never buy an ebook reader. It would spoil all the fun.

But that doesn't explain why we're doomed. For that, you have to read the comments at the end of the article. (The first few should suffice; you can overdose on that stuff.) There are perhaps three or four sensible remarks and a boatload of folks who haven't the least conception that they're dealing with a humour column. Completely unfamiliar with the concepts of satire, hyperbole, reductio ad absurdum, or anything else less subtle than a pie in the face. They hate the article; they think it's a pro-Obama article. And they are the overwhelming majority of the people commenting.

The descendants of Mr Gradgrind and Mr Bounderby are alive and well and reading the Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

Praise the lord, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God: yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful. - Psalm 147

Eat you shall to your hearts' content, praising the name of the Lord your God for His wondrous protection. . . . -Joel 2:xxvi

Give thanks upon all occasions. . . . 1 Thessalonians 5:xviii

. . . Let all flesh give thanks unto His Holy Name forever and ever. -Psalm 145

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November 24 -- St John of the Cross

This is the feast of St John of the Cross in the traditional Roman Rite. The Pauline Rite honours him later in December.

The collect for his feast:
O God! who hast made Saint John, Thy confessor and our father, an ardent lover of perfect self-denial, and of the Cross, grant that, by following ever in his footsteps, we may reach eternal glory. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

St Columbanus

Today is the feast of the great Irish missionary monk, St Columbanus. He was also a staunch traditionalist in his day, holding the tradition of computing Easter that had been handed down to him.

This site gives an especially good life of St Columbanus. This is from the Rev Sabine Baring-Gould's "Lives of the Saints" and includes some of the wonderful legends that have been handed down to us. And it seems that Irish girls were as pretty then as now:

He received a good classical education, and resolved early to embrace an ascetic life. But the good looks and winning ways of the Irish girls were a snare to him. He tried to forget their bright eyes by toiling (desudavit) at grammar, rhetoric, and geometry, but found that at least syntax and the problems of Euclid were a less attractive study than pretty faces, and that the dry rules of rhetoric failed altogether before the winsome prattle of light- hearted maidens. He consulted an old woman who lived as a recluse. She warned him that if he wished to maintain his purpose of self-conquest he must fly to a region where girls are less beautiful and seductive than Ireland. "Save thyself, young man, and fly!" His resolution was formed; he decided on going away.

Indeed. I married one of them.

Pudding Alert

I missed mentioning that yesterday was stir-up Sunday. Next Sunday is the first of Advent and Christmas is only a month away. Time to start on the Christmas pudding.

STIR UP, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Coffeehouse

Saturday found an entire page of the WSJ devoted to the coffeehouse. It was one of those odd reads that happens every once in a while that makes me nostalgic for things I never knew. You can find it here.

Except I suppose I do know Bewley's, which probably has more of the coffeehouse feel to it even if it is known for its tea.

The article's worth a read.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Found While Looking for Something Else

Small lesson on not re-inventing the wheel: research first, then write.

I've been working on a little project on and off for a few months. I thought it might be useful for someone new to the traditional liturgy to have a little guide to the various hand missals available. It really should not take a few months, or even a few days, not even when allowing for my glacial writing speed. The hitch in the gitalong is that, even though I do have a few missals of my own, I don't have a copy of every missal currently available. The problem was finding borrow-able copies of the ones I don't have.

Well, what should I find this morning but this page. This should be almost everything anyone would need. The only thing missing are my profound editorial comments. (Oh, All right, if you insist: "idiosyncratic editorial comments". Be that way.) Someone somewhere might still want to know that the the English of the Marian Missal is by far the clearest and most readable while still being reverent and ever so slightly archaic: thee and thou are retained as they ought to be. Or that the Lasance Missal has a wonderful little introduction with a short do-it-yourself course for following the Mass in the Missal. But that's for another day.

In the meantime, if you're in the market for Missal click the link to the Southwell Books website for their Missal review summary.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Some Piping for the Weekend

John Walsh playing shuttle pipes of his own making.

The "Anglican" Apostolic Constitution

On the off chance that anyone interested might have missed it, the Apostolic Constitution responding to the Anglican overtures has been released. It's called Anglicanorum Cœtibus and can be found on the Vatican's website here. There is also a second document called "Complementary Norms for the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Cœtibus" which gives more practical details. You can find that one here.

Friday the 13th. . . .

. . .comes on a Friday this month.

So don't walk under any black cats or break any ladders. And whatever you do, don't be superstitious. That's very bad luck, indeed.

Monday, November 09, 2009


We have a brand, spanking new operating system now! Windows 7, yesireebob.

And, um, I can't actually see much difference. It took almost three hours to intall. I was expecting. . .well, I don't know what I was expecting. Fireworks, maybe. I was hoping that perhaps there would be drivers for the scanner that would work with W7. Of course not.

On the other hand none of my files vanished. I suppose I ought to be thankful that anything technological works when done by me.

Against my better judgement. . . .

. . .I'm going to upgrade the pc from Vista to Windows7. By myself. Even though I know full well that when technical prowess was being handed out I was in line for a second helping of cherry pie and ice cream.

The changeover is supposed to take an hour. If you don't see anything here for another week or so you'll what happened.

Onward and upward.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Some Piping for the Weekend

Terry Tully and Richard Parkes go to town on "The Pumpkin's Fancy".

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Gratitude is the First of the Virtues

So said Dietrich von Hildebrand.

I played for a funeral the other day - All Souls Day, appropriately enough. Well, I have never been so profusely thanked in my life for anything. It's really rather humbling. Music is an extraordinary thing; it has an undefinable and unpredictable power. But here there was an added factor.

My wife volunteered me for this one. The funeral was for the mother of a man she works with. Mary knows I don't like her to volunteer me for these things. So she never does. If the family doesn't want a piper, it makes it difficult, or at least uncomfortable, for them to refuse the offer. This time for reason she can't explain she felt she had to make the offer. The man practically cried. His mother had been a piper in her youth. She still had her pipes and some of her music.

So on All Souls Day I played another piper to her rest. That was a good day.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Bl John Bodey

Since it is All Souls Day, Blessed John doesn't get much of a mention on this, his feast day. He was a married man, a lawyer, and a schoolmaster, one of the few lay martyrs of the English reformation raised to the altars. The good old Catholic Encyclopædia has this lovely story of his life:

Born at Wells, Somerset in 1549, he died at Andover, Wiltshire on 2 November, 1583. Blessed John. . .

. . .studied at Winchester and New College, Oxford, of which he became a Fellow in 1568. In June, 1576, he was deprived, with seven other Fellows, by the Visitor, Horne, Protestant Bishop of Winchester. Next year he went to Douay College to study civil law, returned to England in February, 1578, and probably married. Arrested in 1580, he was kept in iron shackles in Winchester gaol, and was condemned in April, 1583, together with John Slade, a schoolmaster, for maintaining the old religion and denying the Royal Supremacy. There was apparently a feeling that this sentence was unjust and illegal, and they were actually tried and condemned again at Andover, 19 August, 1583, on the same indictment. Bodey had a controversy with Humphreys, Dean of Winchester, on the Nicene Council, and the martyr's notes from Eusebius still exist. After his second trial, he wrote from prison to Dr. Humphrey Ely, "We consider that iron for this cause borne on earth shall surmount gold and, precious stones in Heaven. That is our mark, that is our desire. In the mean season we are threatened daily, and do look still when the hurdle shall be brought to the door. I beseech you, for God's sake, that we want not the good prayers of you all for our strength, our joy, and our perseverance unto the end. . . . From our school of patience the 16th September, 1583."

At his martyrdom, Bodey kissed the halter, saying, "O blessed chain, the sweetest chain and richest that ever came about any man's neck", and when told he died for treason, exclaimed, "You may make the hearing of a blessed Mass treason, or the saying of an Ave Maria treason . . . but I have committed no treason, although, indeed, I suffer the punishment due to treason". He exhorted the people to obey Queen Elizabeth and died saying, "Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus". His mother made a great feast upon the occasion of her son's happy death, to which she invited her neighbours, rejoicing at his death as his marriage by which his soul was happily and eternally espoused to the Lamb.

The original can be found here.

All Souls Day

From the "Handbook on Indulgences", English edition:

Grant number 67
Visiting a Church or an Oratory on All Souls Day

A plenary indulgence which is applicable only to the souls in purgatory is granted the Christian faithful who devoutly visit a church or an oratory on All Souls Day.
This indulgence can be obtained either on the day mentioned above or, with the consent of the ordinary, on the preceding or following Sunday or on the solemnity of All Saints.
This indulgence is already contained in the apostolic constitution, Indulgentiarum doctrina, norm 15. it is included here in light of the Sacred Penitentiary's deliberations since the constitution was issued.
According to norm 16 of the apostolic constitution, this visit is to include the "recitation of the Lord's Prayer and the Creed, (Pater and Credo).
The rather odd use of italics is in the original.

Grant number 13
Visiting a Cemetery

An indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, if only mentally, for the dead. This indulgence is applicable only to the souls in purgatory. This indulgence is a plenary one from November 1 through November 8 and can be gained on each one of these days. On the other days of the year this indulgence is a partial one.

Almighty and eternal God, grant unto the souls of they servants and handmaidens departed the remission of all their sins, that through pious supplications they may obtain that pardon which they have always desired. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Some Piping for the Weekend

Even if the weekend is almost over.

It's a lovely tune called "Apples and Chairs", the piper's own composition. (I know her name but I can't remember it to save my life. She's written a smallpipe tutor with an accompanying CD. The first thing to go is the memory.)

[ADDENDUM: Her name is Vicki Swan.]

Pride Goeth before a Fall

It seems it also goeth before a minor humiliation known only to oneself.

I was so delighted with myself this morning. I, who have nothing but trouble with Latin poems and hymns, breezed right through the hymn for Lauds this morning. All Latin hymns are a complete brick wall to me; I can never make head nor tails out of them, even the dictionary doesn't help often enough. Oh, sure if the hymn comes up often enough like Te lucis ante terminum or O Salutaris Hostia. That's different. But getting a once-a-year hymn this morning like Iesu, Salvator sæculi and actually knowing what it meant without consulting a dictionary three times in every line. . . .what a delight.

And then we came to the collect. Couldn't make the second half make sense. Never quite got all the grammatical bits to line up with the modifiers and the modified in happy unity. Had to look at the provided English translation in my missal. You can't fiddle with this stuff forever; it stops being prayer. And then, of course, it was blindingly obvious. I hate it when that happens. The bloody things could at least have the courtesy to have something arcane and subtle about them to provide a decent excuse. But, no. Just move the modifier a few words away from the modified and I'm at sea.

The Week

Well, the picture host server came back on line almost immediately after I mentioned that it was out. All the illustrations seem to be present and accounted for. A happier outcome than expected.

The rest of last weekend didn't go quite as predicted either. There were to be, if you will cast your minds back, "two funerals, a class, and an evening dance if my plantar fasciitis quiets down." The first funeral was ideal. Played the processional and the recessional for a Catholic Mass and had my own pew in the back to sit in. Got to play the Irish pipes for a change in a big church with a wonderful reverb. The services ran a bit long so I didn't make the class.

But the second funeral was a sort of extremely pious secular non-denominational affair and ran in excess of two and a half hours. The deceased had an abundance of friends (which meant no seat available for the piper) most of whom got up to say a few words. Indeed, a great many words. A self-appointed lay preacher took the occasion to spend half an hour exhorting us to repent of our sins and come to Jesus so that on our passing we could join Brother Al in the celestial homeland. Now, as a rule I am four-square in favour of sin-repentance. But after a certain amount of time the law of unintended consequences begins to kick in and instead of sin-repentance one begins to be inclined toward sin-commission. Something involving violence and grievous bodily harm to long-winded preachers. St Teresa of Jesus advises that all things are passing, God only is changeless and that patience gains all things. One's faith in the sayings of Our Holy Mother Foundress wavered that afternoon.

So even though the feet were feeling a bit battered after two hours plus in uncomfortable shoes on a marble floor, we were feeling the need to be in a jollier gathering, one that didn't involve any dead people. We went to the dance. Great fun. Hence much limping on Sunday. On Monday we made an appointment to see the podiatrist who injected us with stuff that will make us ineligible to play major league baseball, gave us detailed instructions on new shoes to buy, gave us a prescription which according to the accompanying literature will either cure us or kill us in a terrifyingly painful and long-drawn out manner. Hanging, drawing, and quartering have nothing on the side-effects of this stuff. Highly appropriate for Hallowe'en. But so far, so good; still feeling relatively fit. (But I have another ten days worth of pills left, so I may not be out of the woods yet.) Oh, yes, and I got a nifty foot brace thingummy to wear to bed. The Holy Inquisition had one like it, except for the blue plastic. Don't know which part or parts of this treatment is effective, or whether it's all of it together, but our foot is feeling remarkably good. Our three-beat pas de basque days may not be over yet.

Otherwise, where has the time gone since last week's post? No idea. The days have been devoured by locusts.

Yes, the Angels lost. But we won't go there. Yankees vs Phillies? Ho, hum. I imagine they're excited on the east coast. Can't really be bothered here. I imagine that the Yankees will win. They paid for it; they're entitled.

Note to new readers: We understand your concern but we have no intention of settling on either first person singular or first person plural in any particular piece, or indeed, any particular sentence. We have had a lot of complaints about this but nothing seems to help. We have given up. However, we do still try to keep their, there, and they're straight, not to mention to, too, and two.