Saturday, May 03, 2003

The Old Man of the Mountain Collapses
For my non-New England readers, the Old Man of the Mountain was a granite outcropping on the side of Cannon Mountain in Franconia, N.H. It looked like the profile of a man. It is a major tourist destination, especially in the fall when foliage gawkers fill the roads of New Hampshire's White Mountains.

It also has come to symbolize the rugged independence of New Hampshire's citizens, people who would rather do without government services, to pay lower taxes. In recent years, the Old Man had been held together with cables and epoxy. However, the natural forces of the freeze/thaw cycle proved too great for this granite outcropping to survive.

I last went up far enough to see the Old Man a few years ago. It will be missed. Let us hope his collapse is not symbolic of the decline in New Hampshire's independence and conservatism, as thousands of Massachusetts natives flood over the border for lower-cost housing and lower taxes, but don't quite grasp how barren of services and penurious the public sector must be so that private sector liberty is maximized.

Daily Marian Reflection
From YeOldeWoburn.com:

Mary And The Blessed Trinity

"Through the Incarnation of our Lord in her immaculate womb, Mary, the Daughter of God the Father, is also the Spouse of God the Holy Spirit and the Mother of God the Son."

Let us offer to our Mother today:

A "Hail Mary" each time the clock strikes another hour.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Sub Tuum
Sub tuum praesidium confugimus,
sancta Dei Genitrix:
Nostras deprecationes ne despicias
in necessitatibus, sed
a periculi cunctis libera nos semper,
virgo gloriosa et benedicta.

We fly to your patronage,
O holy Mother of God.
Despise not our prayers
in our necessities, but
deliver us from all dangers,
O glorious and ever-blessed Virgin.

Daily Marian Reflection
From YeOldeWoburn.com:

Mary: The Most Perfect Creature

"She who is full of grace, the object of God's sacred choice, exalted above all the angels and the saints, lived an ordinary life. Mary is as much a creature as we are, with a heart like ours, made for joy and mirth as well as suffering and tears. Before Gabriel communicates to her God's plan, our Lady does not know that she has been chosen from all eternity to be the mother of the Messiah. She see herself as a lowly creature. That is why she can acknowledge, with full humility, that 'he who is mighty has done great things' for her."

Let us offer to our Mother today:

Many glances of affection and many words of love, when we see her image or picture in our home, in the church, or anywhere.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Rush Rules!
Matt Drudge reports that, according to the latest book, Rush Limbaugh is trouncing Bill O'Reilly in just about every market where they compete head-to-head. Rush's lowest market is right hee in Boston, where he leads O'Reilly by only 11.3%. But his edge, expressed as a percentage, is gigantic in most markets. Chicago: 2,373%. San Franciso: 785.2%. Seattle: 1,540%. Pittsburgh: 533.7%. Providence: 271.4%. L.A.: 132.3%.

It's not just the liberals who can't produce a viable alternative to Rush. The moderates are helpless, too.

Long may Rush reign as king of the radio!

A Coming War On Chocolate?
David Frum, writing in today's National Review On Line, sees it coming in the reaction against a Cadbury's promotion in the UK (to provide athletic equipment for returned candy bar wrappers, like what Campbell's Soups does here) as well as in the general agenda of the leftist safety Nazis.

That is one war in which I will gladly enlist and give of my best in defense of the joys, nay necessity, of cocoa and its many by-products.

First they came for the cigarette manufacturers, and I said nothing, because I don't smoke cigarettes. Then they came for the brewers and distillers, and I said nothing because I have a large supply of amber-colored beverages stored away. Then they came for the gun manufacturers, and I said nothing because I don't hunt, and they don't consider my Brown Bess a "firearm." Then they came for the chocolate-makers, bakers, and confectioners, and they took them, because there was no one left to defend them.

Are they coming for my Godiva Mandarin Orange Truffles? They'll only pry them out of my cold, dead fingers after I take plenty of them with me!

I shall fight at their tofu processing plants, I shall fight at their juice bars, I shall fight at their organic farms, and at their green tea merchants' shops, I shall fight them at Paul Newman's own corporate headquarters. I shall NEVER surrender!

My car? OK. My musket and sword? Maybe. My Cointreau Brownies? NEVER!!!

Light Blogging Today and Tomorrow
Family visiting from out of town.

Ave Maria
Ave Maria gratia plena
Dominus tecum
benedicta tu in mulieribus
et benedictus fructus ventris tui JESUS

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.

Salve Regina
Salve regina, mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve!
Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Hevae,
ad te suspiramus,
gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia ergo, advocata nostra:
illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte,
et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria.

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life our sweetness and our hope, hail.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping
in this valley of tears.
O then, our advocate,
turn thine eyes of mercy toward us
and the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus,
show unto us after this our exile.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

Regina Coeli
Regina Coeli, laetare! Alleluia!
Quia quem meruisti portare -alleluia! -
resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluja!
Ora pro nobis Deum! Alleluia!

Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia:
For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia,
Has risen as He said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

May, The Month of the Blessed Mother
May has been for a long time a month specially dedicated to the Blessed Mother. May crownings are common still (one of the few distinctly Catholic things still done in many Catholic schools).

YeOldeWoburn.com offers daily prayers to the Blessed Mother for May. I plan to link to that site, and repeat its prayer every day during May.

Mary; Mother of God

"When the Blessed virgin said yes, freely, to the plans revealed to her by the Creator, the divine Word assumed a human nature - a rational soul and a body - which was formed in the most pure womb of Mary. The divine nature and the human were united in a single Person: Jesus Christ, true God and, thenceforth, true man; the only-begotten and eternal Son of the Father and from that moment on, as man, the true Son of Mary. This is why our Lady is the Mother of the Incarnate Word, of the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who has united our human nature to himself for ever, without any confusion of the two natures. The greatest praise we can give to the Blessed Virgin is to address her loudly and clearly by the name that expresses her very highest dignity: 'Mother of God'."

Let us offer to our Mother today:

Brief but frequent prayers of love, such as: "Mother of God, your petitions are most powerful."

Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker
Honoring the vocational aspect of Saint Joseph's life is the Church's way of undermining the communist celebration of May Day. Now that communism has faded to irrelevance except in intellectual backwaters like Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, China, and most university faculties, newsrooms, and bar association meetings, the impetus for celebrating this aspect of Saint Joseph's life has waned.

In fact, he was probably, for his time and village, a fairly prosperous tradesman and artisan. He apparently had enough income to permit his Foster Son to follow the higher calling of His Father. The Lord was not forced to work overmuch in the carpentry shop, though he probably learned the trade. He had the leisure to pursue such higher learning as was available in Nazareth. Some of that learning came from the local rabbi, some from the Blessed Mother, and some from Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph probably employed others in the carpentry shop. There was also enough income to support the Blessed Mother during a long widowhood.

So the idea that Saint Joseph was a "simple working man" is probably incorrect. Saint Joseph the Entepreneur would be more appropriate. And a better counter to the evil of socialism.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

A Good Take On Apparitions
Neighbor Domenico Bettinelli has a good solid take on private apparitions. I also am not particularly enamored of them, and have significant distrust of the alleged apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Medjugorje. These private visions, if they are not objectively true, can lead a great many people astray.

John Derbyshire Is A Treasure
From his latest column at National Review On Line:
One more from last month's diary. I boasted of having discovered the difference between men and women. No fewer than three different readers e-mailed in with the following. "No, no, Derb, here is the difference between men and women. Go into a room full of people and call out: 'Hands up those who know the color of their underwear.' Only the women will raise their hands." Now, I don't get this. I know the color of my underwear. It's white. All men's underwear is white, isn't it? Who ever heard of men's underwear in any other color?

And his whole section on the Santorum controversy is brilliant and really should sink in (but won't). Scroll down to it. I'd reproduce the whole 4 paragraphs, but that might be an excessive liberty.

Monsignor George Coleman Named Bishop Of Fall River Diocese
Our neighbors down on the south coast of Massachusetts have a new bishop. Monsignor George Coleman, who has been administering the diocese since Bishop Sean O'Malley was named head of the Palm Beach Diocese, has been named the new bishop by the Holy Father. Coleman is a Fall River native, and a 1964 graduate of Saint John's Seminary. God bless Bishop Coleman in his ministry.

Pakistan Arrests USS Cole Bombing Suspects
Six are under arrest, but five are Pakistanis and only one is a Yemeni. I don't think the Yemeni is one of the six who escaped from a Yemeni prison at the start of the war (but I may be wrong).

GenX Orthodoxy?
Zenit carries an interview with Colleen Carroll on the trend among GenXers to return to Christian orthdoxy despite the materialism and hedonism of their Baby Boom parents. If she is correct in her perception (no sign of it in my parish, sadly, and Mrs. F. and I don't count, as we are Boomers ourselves, albeit just about the youngest possible; born in July, 1964) it would be a wonderful thing.

Many of the same things formed our religious experience. Mrs. F. has Korean War generation parents, and I have World War II generation parents (my parents were in their 40s when I was born). So, although we are Boomers, we were among the first to have that worthless bilge-water known as the "Butterfly Curriculum" of religious education dumped on us. In fact, they were experimenting on it with us. So we learned a whole lot of nothing about the Faith, just like countless kids in Catholic schools or CCD from 1960 to the present (yes it goes on).

We both got serious about Catholicism later, in fact after college (I always had a "high Church" outlook, though I was utterly ignorant of most of the important facts about the Faith).

Mrs. F. drifted into a moderate evangelical church in her late teens, but came back to the Church by the early 1990s when she took a job teaching at a small, independent, and very conservative Catholic school in Anchorage. I never left the Church, but almost stopped attending Mass entirely from 1990-1994. Before that I had flirted with deism and libertarianism in high school, though I left both of those delusions behind before the end of my freshman year in college. I thoroughly despised the Catholicism that was all around me at Saint John's Prep and at Boston College, the Catholicism of guitar Masses, socialist activist priests and nuns (former Boston City councilor Rosaria Salerno was part of the chaplaincy at BC while I was there: one walked by her office only to see banners announcing the next Nuclear Freeze or pro-Sandinista rally), pop psychology, liturgical innovation, and "social justice above all." Genuine Roman Catholicism was hard to find at B.C. in 1983. But conservatism brought me to it gradually, through friends on the Observer staff who had crossed the paths of Muggeridge, Waugh, Chesterton, and Belloc. I slowly realized that there was more to the Church than Father Trendy and the Get Down and Boogie/Self-Actualizing Liturgy. However, with a new liberal pastor in my 1960s parish (replacing a low-key conservative), and no known way to access the genuine reality of the Church, this realization had no real effect on my day-to-day Catholicism. It remained something vaguely out there, but with no practical application readily available to me.

I like to think that there were a thousand invisible lines that would have pulled me back no matter what, as Chesterton had Father Brown say. But it took almost my entire family dying, one by one over a few years, the breaking of almost every old bond, severe disappointment over my career path, and a personal crisis that would make only Job in his greatest distress feel some relief, to bring me back all the way.

Even then my return was gradual. My mother, stricken with dementia in her 70s, was the first agent. Once she was home all day, she took to having the TV on all day. On her daily viewing schedule was the Boston Catholic TV daily Mass. Since I was home most of the time (and had to be there an increasing amount as her dementia worsened and more and more, there was no one else to watch out for her) I ended up watching the TV Mass daily with her. I finally learned about the parts of the Mass and bought a Saint Joseph's Sunday missal so that I could follow along at least once a week.

Then, after she went into a nursing home, I took the next step on the road back, making my first confession in probably a dozen years. For that step, I owe a debt to the Carmelites, whose chapel at the North Shore Shopping Center had frequently available confessions in a traditional confessional. I've never been comfortable with confession, and have never liked it. Even now, I don't go nearly as frequently as I should. I just do not like the idea of baring my soul to anyone else, even a trained priest who has heard it all a thousand times before, and so rely on "elastic clauses" like, "For these, and any other sins I may have committed, I ask the Lord's forgiveness." While that may not be good theology, it suits my personality. Without it, I would never confess at all. The Carmelite chapel became my next spiritual home. Since my birthday is July 16th, it is entirely fitting and proper that I should have progresed on my way back to a practising faith via the Carmelites.

The rest was a learning process. After our marriage, Mrs. F. and I settled into a parish we were comfortable with (a lovely late 19th century parish with a reredos, high altar still standing, though not used, and a traditional scheme of devotional art in stained glass, murals, vaulted arches, and a pastor who put candles back on the altar, restored the use of bells during the Consecration, and restored the Eucharist to the Tabernacle in the reredos from a side Tabernacle), and help out there on occasion (though we remain "back benchers" for the most part).

Devotional reading has been a key. The daily exercise of spending a few minutes reading the Lives of the Saints and a portion of the Book of Psalms has added insight and deepened my personal prayer life. Lenten and Christmas spiritual readings have furthered that. Books by Cardinal Ratzinger, Mark Shea (Making Senses Out of Scripture) and Saint Robert Bellarmine (Commentaries on the Psalms) are in my to-be-read pile).

Topical reading on religious issues has played a major part in my return. I owe further debts to Michael Novak, George Weigel, Father Richard John Neuhaus, the New Oxford Review, William F. Buckley, Jr., Paul Johnson, Peggy Noonan, Michael Rose, and others in bringing me up to speed on issues in the Church. None of them are perfect (one of the liberating realizations that one comes to is that there are no perfect Catholics) but together they have had a tremendous effect on my views on religious topics.

Mrs. F. has also played a great role. She came back to the Faith sooner than I did. Our marriage has been a marvelously stabilizing factor in my Church attendance and thinking about doing the "Catholic thing." And she helps by example a great deal more than I think she knows.

The Scandal has, if anything, deepened my devotion to the Faith as it has exponentially weakened any residual trust for the American hierarchy and its national organization and staff. It has been a purging of the Church (though the purge remains incomplete), a purifying. It comes at a time when renewed devotion to the Eucharist and the Rosary are motivating many priests and laity not captive to the "Spirit of Vatican II." It may well end up having the effect of discrediting many of the most prominent proponents of continued liberal reform. It has already ended the career of the truly awful Archbishop Weakland, and is having a serious effect on Cardinal Mahony's credibility and influence. The flagrantly pro-homosexual Bishop McCormack is pretty much bound to fall, too. In the meantime, almost everything I have seen from the Vatican indicates a significant tightening of discipline and openess to conservative reform throughout the Church.

Now, if only this new spirit could translate into more people under age 55 in the pews in my parish on Sunday. We can continue to pray for that.

Palestinian Outrage Du Jour
Three innocent civilians killed by a barbarian near a Tel Aviv pub.

Universal For Sale
Patriotic Americans may soon be able to buy Universal Studios' movies, or maybe even visit its theme park again. The French conglomerate Vivendi is planning to sell Universal, admitting that a French company could not realistically control a major US studio. Universal sales have been hurt in the last quarter because it it owned by a French company, and many Americans have rightly decided to boycott French products.

Saint Catherine of Siena
Today is the traditional feast of Saint Catherine of Siena, the great 14th century Dominican visionary. But the Church has shuffled her feast to April 29th under the reformed calendar of the feasts of the saints.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Al Qaeda Operative Captured In Baghdad
Once again, so much for the argument that there was no connection between Saddam's regime and terrorism.

If there was no connection, how do you explain Salman Pak's terrorist training facility (complete with a mock-up of a jet liner to train hijackers)? The other terrorist training camp captured by US forces? The Ansar al Islam connection in northern Iraq? The presence of Abu Nidal in Baghdad for a number of years, before Saddam had him murdered? Abu Abbas living in Baghdad? The fact that Saddam paid pensions to palestinian suicide bombers? the flocking to iraq of terrorists of all stripes to help out their friend Saddam in his hour of need? The fact that Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups had offices in Baghdad? The documents discussing an alliance of convenience between al Qaeda and Iraq? Osama bin Laden's audio taped vote of confidence for Saddam? The meeting in Europe between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer? And the presence of this al Qaeda officer living in Baghdad?

If it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, is known to associate with ducks and to promote causes of interest to ducks, chances are you are dealing with a duck.

Russell Kirk
On this date nine years ago, one of the leading intellectual lights of the modern conservative movement, Russell Kirk, died. Kirk's The Conservative Mind is the classic history of conservative thought. He brought 20th century American conservatism back to its roots, to Burke, Hamilton, Adams, Ames, Hawthorne, Cooper, and showed that those of us on the right are not merely reacting to the crisis of the present, but are applying lessons Burke taught about upheaval of the social order, and share insights with Eliot, Frost, Hawthorne, and a host of other writers of non-leftist inclinations.

But the living legacy of Russell Kirk, aside from his collected works, is found in the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal. It is based on his rebuilt ancestral home, Piety Hill in Mecosta, Michigan and is run by his widow Annette. Its site includes a good short biography of Kirk, as well as a Kirk bibliography.

Townhall.com maintains a page of Kirk's six canons of conservative thought.

Eighteen of Kirk's lectures to the Heritage Foundation are preserved here.

Archdiocese of Boston Offers $25 Million To Settle 400 Pervert Priest Cases
The offer is not extended to Mitchell Garabedian's 100 or so clients. The recent SJC ruling upholding the charitable liability cap of $20,000.00 seems to have emboldened the Archdiocese, though plaintiffs' lawyers dismiss the idea that the cap could apply to them.

The Holy Father's Message To the Discalced Carmelites On the Occasion of Their 89th General Ordinary Chapter
From the Vatican Information Service via EWTN.

Pope Urges Castro To Curtail Crackdown On Dissidents
From Zenit, which is operating again after an Easter vacation.

21 American Oil Workers Taken Hostage In Nigeria
This needs to be cleared up right away.

Requiescat In Pace
Just heard that legendary Boston radio talk show host Jerry Williams died last night at the age of 80. Williams hosted shows on WBZ, WRKO, WHDH, and probably some other stations. Williams ran a show in a different style from that which prevails today. He was an activist, who loved to use his show to spur the audience to action. In the last years in which his show ran, he crusaded against the mandatory seat-belt laws and against the bottle deposit law, both causes I agreed with him on, if not enough to be spurred to action. I fondly recall his annual rendition of Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas In Wales just before Christmas. Requiescat in pace.

Hock Tuesday
Traditionally the last day of Easter festivities.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Body of Last Missing US Serviceman In Iraq Identified
That closes the book on POWs and MIAs in Iraq (except for Scott Speicher, from 1991).

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Thanks To Mark Sullivan for the Link
Take the Which 20th Century Pope Are You? quiz. I came out as Pius XII; efficient, dedicated, but not very approachable.

I seem to detect a pattern on these quizzes. I've come out as Major Charles Emerson Winchester, M.D., Fitzwilliam D'Arcy, and Pius XII on quizzes that I can recall.

My archives are back. Have fun trolling through them. Friday will mark the 11-month anniversary of my blog. As long as the archives stay put, and I can take them to the new URL, I will make the URL switch to http://rectaratio.blogspot.com on May 11th. I'll warn you a few times before then. If you bookmark my site, you will have to bookmark the new address then. I'll also e-mail anyone I know who links to me, Blogs4God, The Big List of Catholic Blogs, St. Blog's Parish, the Lepanto Group, etc.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Victory
President Bush is planning to declare victory in the Iraq War in the near future. Not that we didn't win the war well before Easter. But the Administration has been cautious, lest a sudden horrific terrorist attack on US troops there make it seem as if the war was not quite won and the situation not quite under control. It also does not like to brag (you may recall then-Governor Bush in the presidential deates speaking of the US as a "humble" superpower).

Well, I am a triumphalist in both politics and religion, and have no problem with declaring a great victory a great victory, and ascribing the success to the Almighty. In that vein, I offer the Psalm numbered in my psalter as Psalm 17iii, verses 32-51. Others know it is Psalm 18 (verses 32-51).

For who is God but the Lord? Or who is a rock but our God?
The God who girded me with strength and made my way perfect,
Who made my feet as fleet as the feet of stags, and set me firmly upon high ground,
Who trained my hands for battle, and my arms to bend the brazen bow.
And Thou gavest me Thy shaving shield, Thy right hand upheld me, and Thy care made me great.
Thou hast widened the way for my steps, and my feet have not faltered.
I pursued my enemies and overtook them, nor did I turn back until I had slain them.
I smote them, and they could not rise, they fell beneath my feet.
For Thou didst gird me with strength for battle, and bent my adveraries beneath me.
For Thou hast put my enemies to flight, and scattered those who hated me.
They cried out-and there was none to save them; unto the Lord-and He heard them not.
And I scattered them as dust before the wind, I stamped them down as the dirt of the streets.
Thou hast delivered me from the strife of the heathen, Thou hast made me the head of the nations.
A people I knew not became my servants, they obeyed me as soon as they heard of me.
Foreigners flattered me, foreigners grew pale, they came out trembling from their fortresses.
The Lord lives, and blessed be my Rock, my God, my Savior, be exalted,
The God who has avenged me and made the heathen subject to me.
Thou who hast freed me from my foes, and raised me above my adversaries, Thou hast saved me from the man of violence.
Therefore will I praise Thee among the nations, O Lord, and chant a hymn to Thy name:
Thou who hast granted great victories to the King and shown kindness to Thy anointed, to David and his descendants forever.

And, sad to say, I am not so familiar with the Psalms that this just rolled off my fingers. I just happened to read it this morning in my daily reading of the Psalms. You would think that, after 5 years, I would know the Book of Psalms by heart. Not true. I have a few favorites, and certain patterns are very familiar. But for most of the Psalms, I have to come across it when particularly appropriate applications are happening in the world at large for me to take note. Perhaps I read them too early in the day for them to stick better (I read them on rising at around 4:30).

Is the Decline In Sexual Morality A Symptom of a Decline In the Liberal Arts?
Peter Kreeft, writing in the latest issue of Crisis, thinks so. I find his argument interesting, but think he is looking at two related phenomona, not one caused by the other. After all, through most of western history, the kind of liberal education he is talking about was available only to a small percentage of society. Yet, during most of that history, people generally seemed to have somewhat less trouble keeping their pants on than they have for the last 60 years. And that included a huge percentage of the population that received only vocational training. And in some respects, one might argue that your medieval apprentice, once mature, behaved with greater morality and respect for Christianity than many a cleric.

Now something can be said for a "trickle-down effect," of old liberal ideas of the pursuit of truth in education for the elite influencing the sermons common people heard, and how societal elites behaved.

But I think an equally strong case can be made that part of our problem is not that the educated elite has sold its soul for power and practical knowledge, but that our societal elites are practically uneducated in any tradition and lack any grounding in morality at all.

When Oprah Winfrey, Rosie O'Donnell, or almost any athlete or entertainer you care to name brings in millions per year, they become societal leaders, no matter what their preparation. Their philosophy then shapes their philanthropy and filters down to the general public in other ways as well (including example, as their affairs, deviancies, addictions, divorces, bastard children, and public outbursts are eagerly trumpeted by the celebrity gossip industry). These are people with almost no education to speak of (as you might recall from the comparison of the educational backgrounds of the Hollywood Left and members of the Bush Administration I blogged about a month and a half ago). Since every chance saying of these ersatz idols is treasured up by a substantial part of the public, their uninformed morality also filters down.

A society that prizes accomplishment in the theater arts, music, and athletics so much that it pays performers in these fields more than anyone else, including the educated few who are shunted off into the lower-paying fields of journalism, law, and the non-profit sector, should not be surprised when its morality sinks to the level that can be attained by its uneducated, but best-paid, members.

So I don't think it is that classical liberal education (as opposed to vocational education) has declined so much, though it has, and I deplore it because the effect is a less-informed educated person, who can use a computer, but coould not tell you who Plutarch was, let alone translate his works. I think it is because we have chosen to elevate into the most prominent and well-paid positions in society people who, as a group, are utterly unqualified to be societal leaders.

Adapting Plainchant To English
Father Basil Foote, OSB, writing in the latest Adoremus, suggests that slight modifications of the music can make the adaptation of plainchant to translation into English more feasible. It seems like a worthwhile idea. I would like to hear how it sounds.

Wouldn't You Know
We finally have a great day to have the windows open, with temperatures expected to hit the mid-70s. And a block away someone is making a nuisance of himself with a jackhammer, and has been all morning.

Hock Monday
The Octave of Easter ended yesterday, and we have come to Hocktide, the conclusion of Easter festivities. Historians tell us that Hocktide (always the Monday and Tuesday after Low Sunday) was celebrated by a slightly risque parish fundraising technique. On one of the days, any man could capture and bind any woman. She could only be released after payment of a contribution to the parish. On the other day, it was the women of the village who got to do the capturing and binding. For many parishes, it was the best fundraiser of the year.

Here is a photo of the custom being carried on by costumed interpreters in the village of St. Ives (UK).

The Thames Valley Morris Men traditionally perform on this day. You know its spring when I start to mention Morris Dancing.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Low Sunday
The Catholic Encyclopedia defines Low Sunday thus:
The first Sunday after Easter. The origin of the name is uncertain, but it is apparently intended to indicate the contrast between it and the great Easter festival immediately preceding, and also, perhaps, to signify that, being the Octave Day of Easter, it was considered part of that feast, though in a lower degree. Its liturgical name is Dominica in albis depositis, derived from the fact that on it the neophytes, who had been baptized on Easter Eve, then for the first time laid aside their white baptismal robes. St. Augustine mentions this custom in a sermon for the day, and it is also alluded to in the Eastertide Vesper hymn, "Ad regias Agni dapes" (or, in its older form, "Ad cœnam Agni providi"), written by an ancient imitator of St. Ambrose. Low Sunday is also called by some liturgical writers Pascha clausum, signifying the close of the Easter Octave, and "Quasimodo Sunday", from the Introit at Mass — "Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite", — which words are used by the Church with special reference to the newly baptized neophytes, as well as in general allusion to man's renovation through the Resurrection. The latter name is still common in parts of France and Germany.

But I think most Catholics think of it, to the extent that they do think of it, as "Doubting Thomas Sunday." That is the Gospel always read on the Second Sunday of Easter, or Low Sunday.

Modern pastors ruefully think of today as the day the weekly collection drops off, as the parishioners who have been actively attending during the run-up to Easter drop off and start spending Sundays on the golf course, at summer cottages, and doing other summer activities that do not involve church attendance. The decline in attendance after Easter Sunday makes today truly a 'low Sunday" for many parishes.

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