Friday, August 06, 2004

Transfiguration of the Lord

Over at Recta Ratio: The Yahoo Group, the front page features one of Bellini's paintings of the Transfiguration.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Thomas Aquinas College's Great Books Program Profiled

I think Great Books programs are a terrific thing. I am the product of B.C.'s modified program (the Honors Program) which gives you six credits per semester for the first two years for great books study, three in the junior year for a related seminar, and 9 in the senior year for a thesis (if I am remembering correctly, and the program is still the same as when I was an undergraduate back in the dark ages) .

But B.C.'s program left a lot to be desired. It was a compromise. I still took elective courses in history, etc. But the double-course for freshman and sophmore years made things a lot easier on me. The choice of what constitutes the Great Books was rather subjective, and in my view rather wrong-headed (Madame Bovary, yes, yet Jane Austen, no?). It lacked any identifiably Catholic content (Luther, but not any of the documents of the Council of Trent, or the writings of St. Francis de Sales, or St. Ignatius). And I think you ought to study more Greek and Roman classics in their original languages, rather than in translations.

But Thomas Aquinas does a much better job.

Satanists Vandalize Chilean Cathedral

A terrible act of desecration.

I don't want to sound whiny, but had this been a Jewish synagogue, or an Islamic mosque, wouldn't we have heard about this sooner, and would there not have been more attention paid to it by the mainstream media?

In fact, had it been a synagogue, how much do you want to bet that there would be efforts in the press to link the act to The Passion of the Christ?

President Bush's Strong Pro-Life Record

Christopher over at Against the Grain/Ratzinger Fan Club details the President's very impressive pro-life record of solid accomplishment.

He has done more for the pro-life cause than any president, including the great President Reagan.

And that with scarcely any of his important judicial nominations approved by the Senate, and no chance to appoint a Supreme Court justice yet.

The Honor Roll of Bishops On the Communion/Abortion Controversy Expands By Three

Three bishops from the old South, including the Archbishop of Atlanta have written a joint letter indicating the "Catholic" politicians who consistently support the murder of babies in utero will not be admitted to Communion.

Archbishop John F. Donoghue of Atlanta,

Bishop Robert J. Baker of Charleston
Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte

Congratulations, gentlemen. You have done well.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

A Great Idea For the Feast of St. Jean Marie Vianney

Father Sistare over at Not So Quiet Catholic Corner has a thread of comments open for people to make favorable comments about a priest they know.

A Deserved Fisking

Dale Price, over at Dyspeptic Mutterings, the unchallenged King of the Fisk, takes issue with some contentions that the Latin Mass is intended for oldsters who are nostalgic for it.

A look at the congregation at Boston's Holy Trinity will show that it ain't just for the 70-somethings. There are plenty of people my age and younger folks, who grew up with the "butterfly liturgy" who are making the Tridentine Mass their preferred mode of worship (or when that is not available, heading for the Byzantine Rite).

Update: Otto Hiss at Otto-da-Fe takes exception to the same comments.

As does Mark Sullivan at Irish Elk.

Wake up, guys, the Latin Mass isn't just for oldsters anymore.

Missouri Bans Gay "Marriage"

Voters have approved an amendment to the state constitution prohibiting the practice. The only possible challenge is on federal constitutional grounds.

Good for Missouri. If only we in Massachusetts had enough legislators not totally in the back pocket of the politically powerful, and affluent, gay lobby.

At Least This Priest Was With a Woman, and One Over the Age of Consent

But the breaking of two religious' vows makes this a serious matter.

And this was certainly not in the model of St. Vianney.

But on the other hand, the windows were tinted (and presumably it was at night). Apparently the cops in Malawi have more time on their hands than cops here.

The Cure of Ars

Today is the feast day of St. Jean Marie Vianney, the Cure of Ars, that marvelous confessor and model for parish priests.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

A Very Important Article Everyone Should Read

On divorce among faithful Catholics.

Catholic couples "think that if you're punching your time clock, doing your duties to your faith, God promises to take care of your marriage. But your marriage has a life of its own, and if you don't do something about it, it's going to fester and it's going to explode."

The author makes a good point: we are almost all products of the culture. Sin, pride, deceit, sloth, gluttony, are all part of our make-up. But we are here to overcome that make-up. Sometimes we fail along the way, sometimes massively and even systematically. The party that is responsible for the failure is probably sinfully coasting along, knowing that there is trouble brewing, but thinking that God will be the deus ex machina making everything all right. It can't possibly go wrong because God is watching out for us. All those prayers, often daily, can't go unanswered, can they?

Then a crisis hits. And you find out what you and your spouse are really made of. You find out if they really believe in marriage as an unbreakable union for life, no matter what. If they believe in reaching out for agape-type love. If all that stuff they said when you were engaged about "this being for life" was only hot air. Sadly, because so many are aculturated to divorce and disposability, most do not mean that their marriage is literally two people together for life, come what may, no matter what the spouse does or doesn't do, says or doesn't say.

Today Would Have Been My Mother's 81st Birthday

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

Monday, August 02, 2004

The Traditional Latin Mass Returns To Detroit

Dale Price has what appears to be mostly good news.

Detriot is getting its sanctioned Latin Mass.

Will Boston lose its Indult Mass? Despite the assurances of the Archbishop back in May, it remains to be seen whether Boston's Latin Mass community will actually be accomodated with a suitable parish of its own, or whether it will be foundling, forced into a nomadic existence, wandering from parish to parish, from one side of the Archdiocese to the next from week to week, and treated like pariahs at the parish's whose resources we borrow.

"Can we move that low alter?" "No. It is bolted to the floor."

"Can we install an altar rail? "No. Too much of a problem for us."

"Can we dispense with your altar girls?" "No. If there is a Mass at our parish, our altar servers will serve it, as will our Eucharistic Ministers, and our music minister."

That sort of treatment is the surest way to send many of its attendees back to the SSPX, which the Holy Father's Indult, (and the order not recommendation, but order, that those who favor the Latin Mass be treated generously by local ordinaries) was designed to prevent.

There really is no good solution to the problem other than closing Holy Trinity as a parish, then re-opening it as a Eucharistic Center specifically for the Latin Mass community (unless the Archdiocese cuts a deal with the Oblates for St. Cecilia's, which I attended this weekend: with a little work it would do, as would St. Leonard of Port Maurice in the North End, run by the Franciscans).

Hurricane Alex

Our first hurricane to threaten the Atlantic Coast this year.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Convention Did Not Help Kerry Much

It looks as if Kerry did not get much of a bounce from his home-town coronation. According to a USAToday/Gallup Poll quoted on the front page of Drudge, Kerry is leading Bush 50-47 among all registered voters. He trails the President 50-47 among likely voters. They have been very close throughout the race (since the President has done very little aggressive campaigning, just fundraising and Rose Gardening for the most part).

The President's political advisors were certain that the bounce from Kerry's convention would put him 15-20 points ahead of the President by now. The Boston cornonation gained, I think, the lowest ratings of any convention. That may have something to do with the (for Kerry) disappointing numbers.

Given the media's lack of enthusiasm for covering conventions, it is likely that the President will not get much of a bounce from his convention either.

The fact that the President has August to hone his message, then goes straight from the convention at the end of the month-into-September to the campaign trail for the fall probably gives him a great advantage. Plus he has a large money advantage over Kerry. Add to that the fact that the economy is doing OK (if not great) and that the President has been very successful in taking out two states that supported global Moslem ism, and that we are still at war, and I think the President's prospects look good.

It will be a tough race. It always is grueling for the candidates. Even Reagan v. Mondale in 1984 was a tough race, which saw the President's poll numbers dip alarmingly after the first debate. But Republican strategists can be forgiven if they take a moment to think about expanding our control of both houses of Congress, and don't take too seriously the prospect of losing the White House.

Al Qaeda Plotting Against Financial Services Sector

Orange Alert for buildings that house important elements of the financial services sector, especially in the New York and Washington areas, still Yellow Alert for the rest of us.

St. Alphonsus Liguori

Aside from being Lammas, it is also the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemporists, and author of the best version of the Stations of the Cross.

Bread For Lammas

Since this is the day to celebrate first fruits, why not share a few recipes for bread? After all, grains are the staff of life, and are basic to our culture, indeed to all human survival. And the Bible is full of references to bread and its liturgical significance.

Our Lord decided upon bread as the form His Body would take for us.

And I must admit a terrific fondess for breads. Indeed, you might say that my body has never met a carbohydrate it did not take a serious liking to, and invite to stick around for life in a pleasant spot around my middle.

I'll give three recipes for bread today, all of which I am fond of. All are for a 11/2 pound bread machine, which I use for most of my breads. Bread machine recipes typically offer choices for 1, 11/2, and 2 pound loaves. I'll give the proportions for the 11/2 pound loaf.

Anadama Bread

1 cup warm water
2 Tblspns molasses
11/2 Tblspns vegetable oil
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
11/2 tspns salt
21/2 cups bread flour (regular flour does just fine)
2 tspns active dry yeast or bread machine yeast

Use the Basic setting. I'd suggest a Medium or Light crust. It will take 3 hours for your bread machine to prepare this loaf. Pumpkin butter, a staple in this house, is great on this bread. Orange honey butter is also good on it.

Sally Lunn Bread

The name Sally Lunn has been the subject of much speculation. It may be that a lady named Sally Lunn sold this bread in the form of biscuits at Bath in the 18th Century. It may be that the name derives from the light-on-the-bottom, dark- on-top color of the biscuits, and is a derivative of the French words for sun and moon.

Whatever the derivation, the bread is delicious.

The very best Sally Lunn I have ever had was at Gadsby's Tavern in Alexandria, VA (on a re-enactment weekend). With Game Pie and Scuppernog Punch, it was, perhaps, the tastiest meal I have ever had. And the droll fellow in the guise of a strolling minstrel and bard who "entertained" us there by singing The Old Soldiers of the King was a hoot. He pretended to be much perplexed at our appearance, since the Tavern is set for the period 1790, and and we were fully dressed in the uniform of 1775, and there would not be many British soldiers casually strolling into a tavern in Virginia 9+ years after Yorktown.

3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg
11/2 Tblspns butter
3 Tblspns sugar
1 tspn salt
31/3 cups bread flour (regular flour works fine)
21/4 tspns active dry yeast or bread machine yeast

Use the Sweet cycle, and a Medium crust setting. Buttered and served with either sweet hot Earl Grey, or mint iced tea (in hotter weather), this is a snack to look forward to.

Cheddar Onion Bread

This one has a vaguely Alsatian hint to it. It is, I think, the combination of onion and cheese, which is typical of Alsatian cooking. Cheddar, though, is Anglo-American.

1 cup + 2 Tblspns Whole Milk
11/2 Tblspns vegetable oil
1/4 cup grated onion
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
11/2 Tblspns sugar
11/2 tspns salt
1/4 tspn garlic salt
31/3 cups bread flour (regular flour is fine)
21/4 tspns active dry yeast or bread machine yeast

Use the Sweet cycle and a Medium crust setting. Great with soup. Makes a great sandwich with roasted turkey and a tart mayo, like Cain's.


Today is the feast of Saint Peter Ad Vincula. In Europe, it was celebrated as the first fruits of the harvest. "Lammas" probably comes from "Loaf Mass", and a ritual blessing of loaves of bread made from the first grain harvested was part of the Lammas rite. Harvest queens would be crowned in villages, and harvest suppers would be held.

The Feast of Saint Peter Ad Vincula is the Feast of Peter's Chains. Saint Peter, having been arrested, was held in custody, but miraculously was permitted to escape. Two links said to be from the chain that he was confined in are venerated at the church of Saint Peter Ad Vincula at Rome.

The Feast of Saint Peter's Chains was superimposed over the pre-Christian harvest festivals (but with less success than with Christmas, Easter, and All Saints' Day). Though Lammas has lost much of its significance in the last hundred years, it has more cultural resonance than Saint Peter's Chains.

Even my Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter Calendar from last year (when Lammas fell on a weekday) simply lists August 1st as a ferial day.

In Western Europe, the harvest is about 3 weeks earlier, on average, than in New England. We think of harvest time as September and October. But even in our own suburban gardens, aren't the first tomatoes ready about now? Raspberries and blackberries are a few days away. Sweet corn is about ready here. Apples will start ripening in a few weeks. Six weeks to fresh sweet cider!

Just because we are no longer an agricultural society does not mean that we need to lose touch with the traditional seasonal tempo of life.

This was also the beginning of the Autumn fair season. One still hears an Irish folk song called "The Aulde Lammas Faire." Think about it--there are 7 or 8 weeks to the Topsfield Fair and other fairs start before that. King Richard's Medieval Faire starts Labor Day weekend. Many towns on the North Shore have their August festivals, probably the equivalent of the medieval fair near Lammas. Salem has its Heritage Days in August, a week-long festival of street fair, parade, and fireworks, along with ice cream "Scooper Bowls and Chowderfests. Beverly has Homecoming Week, and Newburyport has Yankee Homecoming this month.

Many towns in medieval and early modern Europe held large fairs on Lammas that brought people from far and near to the closest thing Europe then had to a mall. In medieval Europe, those fairs took on a much greater commercial significance than their descendants do today. The fairs were mobile, spending a few days in a given location (like a modern carnival).

Lammas is the only resting point we have until the Feast of the Assumption in two weeks. It is our chance to assess how the summer is going, whether it will be an early autumn, or whether the heat will persist past Labor Day.

You don't need to be Haydn Pearson (the Countryman essayist in the New York Times 50 years ago) to notice that Autumn is on the way. Some sickly trees will start to change by the end of the month. In fact, I have seen one or two with some leaves turning yellow already. July was a little wetter and cooler than average: the drought that threatened us last year seems to be averted, at least in New England. It may still be hot now and then. The "Dog Days" may hold sway until the middle of the month. But the cooler days will start to be noticed more, especially after the fifteenth.

Autumn-themed decor started showing up in stores a few weeks ago. There were back-to-school displays (stacks of binders) in Walmart in June, a few days after school ended!

Unfortunately, I and my fellow ragweed allergy sufferers will start to be miserable in about 10 days, and will stay that way until the first hard frost in October. It has not bothered me as much in Salem or in Boston. Not much ragweed nearby to trouble me.

May the Lord bless this harvest and provide ample food for all His people. As a practical matter, your local food pantry does not want you to bake a loaf of bread for them. But today, as we celebrate the harvest, it would be great to write a $10.00 check to them, so they can buy bread for ten families for the week.

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