Saturday, February 05, 2005

Samuel McIntire: The Man Who Built Salem

For the most part, only people who live in Salem, or make a close study of early American architecture are familiar with Samuel McIntire. But he was the foremost Federalist-style architect (he called himself a "housewright") and wood carver outside of Boston. Indeed, looking at their surviving work, it is difficult to say who was the more talented, McIntire or his contemporary Bulfinch, who dominated the Boston market.

He was the son of a house wright, and apprenticed with his father, along with his brothers. His father may have built in 1759 the oldest brick house in Salem, the first home (a wedding present from his merchant father, Captain Richard Derby) of the man who would become America's first millionaire, Elias Haskett Derby.

Even before the Revolutionary War was over, young Samuel was producing elegant homes for Salem's new mercantile elite. His first works were heavy and awkward adaptations of the Robert Adam style to American conditions, like the Pierce-Johnnot-Nichols House (1780) on Federal Street.

But shortly he had developed a lighter touch, as seen in the Ward House (1783) on Washington Street (allegedly the most haunted house in Salem, and where George Washington spent the night on a visit to Salem in 1789) and in a house built for Elias Haskett Derby next door to the existing Derby House , called the Hawkes House in 1782 on Derby Street.

McIntire's taste and talent grew from there. The fullest expression is the Gardiner-White-Pingree House (1805) on Essex Street, across from another example of his best, the Gideon Tucker House (1804). The GWP House is cited in most textbooks as the most refined expression of the Federal style of architecture and interior design. It is open as a house-museum run by the PeabodyEssex Museum.

Hamilton Hall (1805) on Chestnut Street, at least three houses on Salem Common, the old Crowninshield House on Derby Street, and several of the earliest houses on Chestnut Street are his.

McIntire was patronized by the Derby Family extensively. Aside from building the Hawkes House for Derby (Derby never lived in it, but used it as a warehouse for his privateers, and then sold it to one of his captains), he remodeled an existing house on the corner of Washington and Lynde for him. He remodeled Derby's farm in present-day Peabody and built a beautiful summer house there, now on the grounds of Glen Magna in Danvers.

Mrs. Derby grew tired of the house at Washington and Lynde, and commissioned McIntire to build a new house between Essex and Front Streets on the site of the current Old City Hall. He finished what was probably the finest example of Federalist architecture in New England in 1799, just months before Mrs. Derby died (followed just six months later by Elias Haskett himself at the age of 60).

But the patronage of the Derby family did not end there. He built houses that are no longer standing for one of Derby's sons in the area ravaged by the Great Salem Fire of 1914, and for Derby's daughter (Oak Hill) on the present site of the North Shore Mall in Peabody, a few hundred yards down the road from her father's farm. Several rooms from Oak Hill are preserved at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.

But McIntire also built great public buildings. I have already mentioned Hamilton Hall, essentially the Federalist-era equivalent of a function room.

He built a school, no longer standing, on Federal Street. He built the old Tabernacle Congregational Church (the new one was built in the 1920s along very similar lines) on Washington Street.

He built a new church for Salem's First Church congregation on Chestnut Street. Unfortunately it burned in a spectacular fire in 1911.

If his architecture was the epitome of refined good taste, his wood carvings somehow managed to surpass even that standard.

His most familiar motif was the sheaf of wheat, which appeared on the sides of many a mantle-piece here in Salem. He carved the federal eagle for the entry-way of Salem's Second US Customs House building (the original is in the PeabodyEssex Museum down the street). Delicate moldings,

mantlepieces, arches, doorways, staircases, entryways, even plaster ceilings, all bore the marks of his exceptional skill.

He even carved the figureheads of some ships, and turned out some fine Federal style furniture.

McIntire died before he could execute many of the numerous commissions he had been given for the new development on Chestnut Street, soon to be the scene of homes of merchants and sea captains. But his brothers were longer-lived, and his son worked in the trade as well. Therefore, Chestnut Street, which the tourist guides will tell you is considered the best-designed and most architecturally harmonious street in the United States bears the McIntire stamp. There, generations of Salem Brahmin families grew up. Some still live there part-time.

Read a brief biography of McIntire by Salem historian Jim McAllister here. Do follow the links, especially the ones relating to the federal mansions, and Salem Common.

The PeabodyEssex Museum also has some part of a site dedicated to the Gardner-White-Pingree House.

Samuel McIntire died on February 6, 1811, and was, according to the diary of Rev. William Bentley, greatly mourned in Salem. With good reason. He was the man who built Salem. One of my favorite places to walk and think things over (and occasionally smoke a cigar where no one will object) is the Charter Street Burial Ground, where McIntire is buried. I make the pilgrimage to McIntire's grave at least twice a year, if I can.

Recipes For the Super Bowl

The Patriots face the Philadelphia Eagles tomorrow night in Super Bowl XXXIX, and most of the population of the civilized portion of the planet will be glued to the TV.

But since football games are long affairs, with a few seconds of action punctuating great long periods of nothing, people need to eat while watching football.

Last year, I offered some suggestions, which I still think are good ones.

This year, of course, in the name of variety, I'm offering some other suggestions.

I think a Pepperoni Pesto Pizza would be the thing to offer guests as the main course. Forgo the tomato sauce, or even a slice of tomato. Make a nice pesto sauce from garlic, basil, pinenuts, and extra-virgin olive oil (you know, the oil made from the olives before those pesky pimentoes come along and de-virginate them), make or buy a crust for a fairly deep pizza. Spread the pesto sauce over the dough, add lots and lots of Italian 4-Cheese shredded blend, and then lots of sliced pepperoni. Bake for a while at 350 degrees, and, voila.

I also think that there is much merit in Monte Cristo Sandwiches:

8 slices bread
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper
Sliced breast of chicken or turkey
4 slices cooked ham
4 slices Swiss cheese
Prepared mustard (optional)
butter/oil mix for frying
Cut crust from bread. Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper together. Arrange some thin slices of chicken on 4 bread slices. Cover with slice of ham; top with slice of cheese. Spread lightly with mustard; cover each with another slice of bread. Press down well; cut across diagonally. Use wooden toothpicks to hold sandwich together. Dip sandwich halves in batter, deep-fry in heated oil/butter of 360 degrees until golden. Remove picks before serving

But there must be some salad, you cry? of course. Why not Pistachio Salad?

1 can crushed pineapple, drained
2 small boxes pistachio pudding
2 lg cool whips-thawed
2 cups mini-marshmellows
1 small carton cottage cheese
1 jar marachino cherries
Mix the dry pistachio pudding with the crushed pineapple. When dissolved in, add the rest of ingredients and fold in gently. Pour into serving bowl and top with cherries (drain and wash before topping on salad). Make this the same day that you serve it.

Something to nibble on?

You can't beat my Chocolate Mint/Raisin/Salted Peanut Mix

2 large boxes of Raisinets
2 large boxes of Junior Mints
1/2 can of salted peanuts (cocktail peanuts).
Mix together, and there you are.

Cranberry/Cheddar Snacks are a nice way to celebrate a New England victory.

1 baguette, sliced across into about 20 slices
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (or the same amount of home-made cranberry sauce)
6 oz. cheddar, sliced (Vermont's Cabot Private Stock)

Toast the slices of the baguette in the oven, and then butter them. Spread the slices with the cranberry sauce.vThen lay a slice of cheddar over each slice.Bake the slices at 350 for about 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese melts. Serve hot

Of course, there must be chips. I have discovered Cape Cod Kettle Chips in the last year, and strongly recommend both the Sea Salt and Vinegar and the Nantucket Spice. Buy both and mix 'em up and serve with a plain sour cream.

What to drink during the game?

I suggest something festive, but lacking in kick for the abstemious: Cinnamon Clove Water.

12 cups of cold water
2 cup sugar
8 sticks of cinnamon
40 whole cloves

Begin to boil the water. Add the sugar and spices and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let the water come to a good roiling boil for about 5 minutes. Then reduce the heat to the minimum, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes. Let cool and then refrigerate. Drink either straight, or diluted with more water, according to your taste.

But if that is a little too spicy for your tastes, let me suggest Polar tonics. They are made in Worcester. I particularly like the Orange Dry and the Birch Beer.

If you want to stay alert throughout the game, try this Mocha Frappe.

6 oz cold whole milk
4 T Autocrat coffee syrup (Coffee Milk is the state drink of Rhode Island)
2 T Hershey's chocolate syrup
ice cubes
whipped cream

Mix together the milk and syrups, add ice cubes, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle with a little cinnamon.

For the less abstemious, I recommend Flip, an ancient New England favorite.

6 oz. good strong beer, maybe a New England microbrew
2 tablespoons of sugar, unrefined
1 tablespoon of molasses
2 tablespoons of dried pumpkin, finely ground
1 measure of New England rum

Get yourself a metal or earthen mug (32oz or larger to allow for overflow from heating) and pour the strong beer into it. Mix in the sugar, molasses and dried pumpkin, blend well.You'll need a fireplace or wood burning stove for this next part ... heat up a loggerhead (an iron poker will do) and stick the red hot end into the liquid for a brief moment. Add the rum and enjoy!

You must toast the victorious Patriots in Champagne Flip.

3/4 oz Brandy
2 - 3 dashes Cointreau
1/4 oz Cream
1/4 oz Sugar Syrup
1 Egg yolk
4 oz Champagne
1 pinch Nutmeg
Shake brandy, cointreau, cream, sugar syrup and egg yolk over ice cubes in a shaker. Strain into a champagne flute, and carefully fill with champagne. Sprinkle with nutmeg, and serve.

Entertaining a crowd and need some desserts?

I dearly love a Whipped Syllabub, an old treat of both New and Old England

2 oz ruby port
8 oz double cream
2 oz cream sherry
juice of 1/2 orange
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
2 oz caster sugar

Divide the port between 4 chilled stemmed glasses, and keep chilled. In a bowl inside a bowl filled with ice, whip the cream, adding the remaining ingredients gradually, in order, until the mixture just holds firm peaks. Pile the cream, mixture into the chilled glasses. Serve as soon as possible. Serves 4

Again, continuing with our New England Triumphalis theme, Indian Pudding would make a nice dessert.

1/2 c Cornmeal, yellow
4 c Milk, whole; hot
1/2 c Maple syrup
1/4 c Molasses, light
2 Eggs; Slightly Beaten
2 tb Butter; Melted
1/2 c Sugar, brown; packed
1 ts Salt
1/4 ts Cinnamon
3/4 ts Ginger
1/2 c Milk, whole; cold

In top of double boiler, slowly stir cornmeal into hot milk. Cook over boiling water, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 300 F. Lightly grease 2-quart baking dish. (8 1/2" round) In small bowl, combine rest of ingredients, except cold milk; stir into cornmeal mixture; mix well. Turn into prepared dish; pour cold milk on top, without stirring. Bake, uncovered, 2 hours, or just until set but quivery on top. Do not overbake. Let stand 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or light cream.

Such a spread, of course, needs a pie, and my favorite is Custard Pie.
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon double-strength vanilla extract
1 egg white
2 1/2 cups scalded milk
fresh nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
Mix together eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir well. Blend in the scalded milk.
Line pie pan with pastry and brush inside bottom and sides of shell with egg white to help prevent a soggy crust. Pour custard mixture into piecrust. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on rack.
Just for fun, try a slice of custard pie with a little Maple Grove Farm maple syrup over the top.

There. That ought to deal starvation a staggering blow and allow you to properly rejoice in New England's hoped-for victory.

A Classic Take-Down

That great hunter of illogic and righter of inanity Dale Price goes after familiar game in the form of reliably bed-wetting leftist James Carroll.

Being in Michigan, he does not have to see Carroll's perpetually sour puss on Channel 5 every Sunday morning, opining on the sad state things (except that what Carroll finds sad is what is good about America and the Faith, and what he rejoices in is what is wicked and evil in both).

Saint Agatha

Catholic Encyclopedia's entry for this great 3rd Century virgin and martyr.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Western Civilization Is Going To Hades In a Handbasket

But temperatures in Boston Saturday-through-Tuesday are supposed to be in the mid-forties, and not below freezing at night.

I would not say winter's back is broken, not for another 3 weeks, but maybe it is giving a little.

More Judicial Tyranny

A New York judge ruled that the portions of New York law pertaining to "husband," "wife," "bride," and "groom," must be interpreted in a gender-neutral way to prevent the law from being unconstitutional under New York law.

So gay marriage will be forced down the throats of the New York electorate by the judiciary, too.

Massachusetts was just the beginning (actually Vermont was the beginning). Gay marriage is coming to every state, it just may take a few more years in some states than in others. And I'm afraid there is not thing one anyone can do to stop it short of a federal constitutional amendment now.

Requiescant In Pace

Two fairly well-known actors have died. Character actor John Vernon died at age 72, and Ossie Davis died at age 87. Requiescant in pace.

A Lenten Program That Works For Me

Lent is fast approaching, as we are entering Shrovetide. So now is the time to plan a Lenten reading program.

My own Lenten reading has shifted a bit over the years. I used to rely on those booklets published by various priests with brief meditations for each day of Lent. But to be honest with you, I found them rather lacking in substance. Occasionally, an anecdote from one would strike home and remain with me. But for the most part, the stuff contained in them was pretty banal. Last year, I experimented with Trappist Father Thomas Keating's Lenten reflections, and found them little better.

So now I find myself going back to dig deeper into the fallen nature of man (my own sinful nature), our (and my) need for repentence and reconciliation, as well as the mysteries surrounding the Passion and death of our Lord, at the culmination of Lent.

It was also once easy for me to just give up things, since my need for such things was limited anyway. It was a very small sacrifice to give up tobacco for Lent, as I only smoke cigars in weather nice enough to stay outside in anyway, and often go 4-6 weeks without a cigar. The same with giving up alcohol. If you are a very light drinker, it is only a little sacrifice to give it up for Lent. So now, I am trying to give up behaviours, rather than just consumables.

With regard to viewing, I used to be a Jesus of Nazareth/The Greatest Story Ever Told/The Day Christ Died/Jesus Christ Superstar/Ben Hur/The Ten Commandments viewer. In my teenage days, I had the entire liberetto of JCS memorized. Since I saw The Passion of the Christ, that has rocketed to the top of my Passion viewing.

My prayer habits/Scripture reading habits during Lent have changed, too. I used to rely on reading the Penitential Psalms, the Stations of the Cross on Fridays, The Sorrowful Mysteries weekly, and little else. I would like to think that my Lenten prayer life has deepened and expanded.

Let's start with that last category. In the last two years or so, I have discovered The Book of Lamentations, as well as rediscovered the Book of Job, both of which speak to some of my deepest feelings. While just reading the Seven Penitential Pslams is good, I have discovered that there is a specific prayer exercise that connects each of these Psalms with one of the Seven Deadly Sins (all of which plague me to one degree or another). This I find better.

I discovered the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena last year, and plan to make that an important part of my devotions. Then, there are devotions to the Holy Face, the Seven Last Words, the Five Sacred Wounds. The Threnus Prayer of Saint Augustine, often attached to the longer Psalter of Saint Jerome, is one of the truest reflections of the stubborn and stiff-necked nature of man's (and my own) sinfulness that I have seen. All of these, BTW, can be found in the Lenten Prayers folder at the Files section of Recta Ratio: The Yahoo Group. Last year, I slightly modified and regularized the form of St. Thomas More's Prayer written as a prisoner in the Tower.

The Passion of the Christ reminded me of no prayer so much as the Stabat Mater Dolorosa. I read the Stabat Mater just before viewing the movie, on the good advice of a friend, and found it very edifying, as the movie focuses in so much more than any other on the connection between the Blessed Virgin Mary and our Lord in the suffering of the Passion.

Since I try for an hour of Eucharistic Adoration daily, I plan to modify my routine thus during Lent:

Dies Irae
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Threnus Prayer
Devotion of the Five Sacred Wounds

Dies Irae
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Threnus Prayer
Devotion of the Seven Last Words

Dies Irae
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Threnus Prayer
Seven Prayers of St. Gregory

Dies Irae
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Threnus Prayer
Devotion To the Holy Face

Dies Irae
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Threnus Prayer
Devotion To the Holy Cross
Stations of the Cross

Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Threnus Prayer
Stabat Mater Dolorosa
Litany of Our Lady of Sorrows
Sorrowful Mysteries

Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Psalter of St. Jerome
Threnus Prayer

I have developed the habit over the last year of adding to the end of the Divine Mercy Chaplet an Act of Contrition, A Confiteor, A Salve Regina, and an Anima Christi (since I say it in the Presence).

Now on to Lenten reading.

I would like to spend a half hour each day in reading Bl. Anna Catherine Emmerich's The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or a book I just discovered, St. Thomas More's unfinished Treatise on The Passion. Father Chrisopher Renger's The Last Seven Words of Christ On the Cross, (Tan, 1957) is excellent. I also like Father Alfred O'Rahilly's The Crucified.

And I would like to start each day in Lent with a reading from either the Book of Lamentations or The Book of Job.

I think the time has come to drop Jesus Christ Superstar with the things of one's childhood, and move on. If I get around to The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, The Greatest Story Ever Told, or The Day Christ Died, well and good. But Jesus of Nazareth and The Passion of the Christ are musts.

I will still give up alcohol, tobacco, etc. for Lent. But I plan to put more of an effort into giving up my vices, my common failings, and on doing good things. Repentence is the theme of Lent, and one repents by giving up the bad and doing the good.

The veiling with purple cloth of Crucifixes and saints' images is a good one that I recommend. In the Tridentine Rite, this takes place on Passion Sunday at Church, but many Catholics cover such images throughout Lent at home, and display a crown of thorns prominently. I strongly recommend this.

Confession is essential. No sacrament has been so neglected in the last 40 years. Confessing one's sins to another person is tough, very tough. It hits you right in the pride. But regular, full confession is essential to worthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. At least try to make one worthy and complete confession just before Easter.

Almsgiving is an important Lenten preparation as well. But this is not he Lord's time, when slipping a few coins into the hands of a beggar and donating to the Church were enough. Our Lord set a high standard of almsgiving in His criteria for who will be on His right, and who will be left on His left. Be judicious in your charity. Don't give to street beggars, as invariably the money will go to support a booze or drug habit. Write checks for food pantries, homeless shelters, and religious groups in your area that you see in action. Forgo the big charities with the big corporate donations (and the high-salaried upper echelons). See what charities are doing good in your own area, and reward them directly.

Lent is a time for sacrifice, reflection, repentence, preparation, and spiritual growth. It is not just an opportunity to drop a little weight, or briefly give up a bad habit. I don't think anyone can honestly say that they don't have the means to reflect for Lent. The Church has been busily preparing materials in aid of such reflection for 2000 years. It is up to each of us to make use of what has been provided to properly prepare for the joy and grace of Easter.

Punishing A Guy for Talking Frankly About His Job

It is silly what the Department of Defense is doing to this Marine Corps general.

The purpose of the military, and especiaqlly the Marine Corps, is to kill people and break things. That is what Marine Corps training is all about. And when some high-ranking officer frankly admits in public that he likes his job, he gets slapped around by the politically correct dimwatts of the media and "high" culture.

I, for one, and greatly pleased that the armed forces contain a high percentage of people who are trained to kill enemies and destroy their stuff, and that we have more people and things which are better at it than anyone else.

And isn't it good to rid the world of tyrannical -ssh-l-s who enjoy slapping women around because they are women? Isn't Afghanistan much better off without the Taliban? Of course it is.

In my opinion, the quicker we can despatch people who are not only our enemies, but the enemies of common humanity, the better off we will be, and the better off the world will be. That, in essence is what the general was saying is his job, and he is correct in saying so.

And it is a pleasing thing to see a guy who is serving his country's interests and enjoying his job (and has a sense of humor about it, too, a characteristic sorely lacking on the left).

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Retirement Age For Popes?

A very bad idea, I think. No such unwarranted innovation ought even to be considered.
Notice the justification for it: while the Pope ails, the church is under the care of the "ultraconservative" Cardinal Ratzinger, whose opposition to a change in basic Church moral teachings about the use of prophylactics is leaving the Church "paralyzed."

So we know the motivation of the writer, and can reject the proposed solution.

Is It Just Me?

Or was the President's State of the Union Address the most under-reported one of recent times?

The morning radio news made scarcely a mention of it. Of course, a Boston station would be more interested in the upcoming Super Bowl, since it is only 3 days away and the Patriots are in it again.

But Drudge has had little on the speech, as well.

Saint Blase

Traditional day for the blessing of throats.

Link thingee not working, but here is the link:

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I Don't Care Much About Basketball, Especially College Basketball

But I have to do a little crowing about alma mater Boston College's 19-0 record and 5th place national ranking.

By any standard, they are having a great season so far. But I agree witht he coach, that talk of an NCAA final four appearance is very premature.

Candlemas Day

by Robert Herrick

1. Kindle the Christmas brand, and then
Till sunset let it burn;
Which quench'd then lay it up again
Till Christmas next return.

2. Part must be kept wherewith to teend
The Christmas log next year;
And where 'tis safely kept, the fiend
Can do no mischief there.

Now we have reached the final and undisputable end of Christmas. The holly is down. Christmas merrymaking ceases, though it now blends with Carnival merrymaking. Lent is now so close, the prospect is palpable.

A good history of Candlemas is here. I found this link via Amy Welborn.

The Holy Father Hospitalized For a Few More Days

The Holy Father's flu led to breathing difficulties which led to his hospitalization. His condition is stable and not considered an emergency, just a precaution because of his age and other health problems.

Keep him in your prayers.

Punxatawney Phil Saw His Shadow

Which allegedly means that winter will last another 6 weeks (as opposed to only another 4 weeks if he had not).

The custom stems from the medieval European belief that a pleasant Candlemas means a prolonged winter.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Perpetual Adoration Growing In Minnesota

Since I practise a daily Holy Hour as often as possible, I find this trend both healthy and great.

But I have problems with my Holy Hours that don't seem to plague other people. I have to stick with a rigid agenda of prayers, and have to stay in the uncomfortable kneeling posture for the whole hour. If I do not, the following happens:

* If I ad lib my prayers, and just try to pray what is in my heart, I end up in an hour-long, uncontrolled, silent bitching session at God and the Blessed Mother for everything that is wrong in my life.

*When I try to be silently in the Presence my thoughts wander away from adoration to any topic, sometimes highly inappropriate topics, or I end up in one of those bitching sessions again. I might have gone pretty far before I catch myself and try to get back on track.

*I fall asleep, and only catch myself when my rosary or booklet starts to fall from my hand, or my head starts to loll to one side. I hope I haven't broken out into snoring, as some people around me do, but I'm not sure.

So, I am one of those people who has to stick with a continuous program of prayers, one-after-the-other and try to stay in an uncomfortable posture, if I am to adore the Blessed Sacrament (on Saturday, actually, I like to spend an hour or so with the Blessed Virgin Mary, instead) properly.

Even though my flesh is weak, yet the spirit is willing. I hope in a little under two hours to be giving due adoration.


Well, it is that time again, the time for the annual "good-bye to meat." While the spotlight is on Rio and New Orleans, I think that a Carnival-like atmosphere, though one divested of its Catholic roots, will become more popular in many places.

Boston now does little for Carnival or Shrovetide. But I could see it becoming a big civic celebration, like New Years' First Night.

If this ever happens, it will be the duty of Catholics to remind people why they are celebrating a good-bye to meat.

A Guardian Hit Piece On Opus Dei

The usual Opus Dei=Franco thing.

I rather suspect that if Ruth Kelly had been a third-order Carmelite, or Franciscan, or a member of the Latin Mass Society, the slant would have been pretty much the same: "How could a Labour minister be a member of such a backward-thinking thing as the Roman Catholic Church or any of its subgroups?".

The coincidence that Opus Dei started in Spain at the time of Franco is just that, a coincidence.

Latest On the Shanley Trial

Prosecution is wrapping up. I don't know if they have enough to convict.

Pope: Screening Of Priests Must Be Improved

Well that is pretty obvious, but what do you expect for someone with the flu?

The equally obvious first step is to prospectively, from this moment foreward, make homosexual inclination a bar to entry into the seminary or priesthood. That takes care of 85% of the problem.

The Holy Father Has Come Down With the Flu

Which at his age can be dangerous.

Let us pray that he overcomes this challenge, to rule over the Church for many more years to come.

Aside From Being St. Bridget's Day, It Is Also Candlemas Eve

Candlemas Eve, by Robert Herrick

Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and mistletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all
Wherewith ye deck's the Christmas hall;
That so the superstitious find
Not one least branch there left behind:
For look! How many leaves there be
Neglected there, Maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.


1. Down with the rosemary and bays,
Down with the mistletow;
Instead of holly now upraise
The greener box for show.

2. The holly hitherto did sway,
Let box now domineer,
Until the dancing Easter day,
Or Easter's Eve appear.

3. Then youthful box which now hath grace
Your houses to renew,
Grown old, surrender must his place
Unto the crisped yew.

4. When yew is out, then birth comes in,
And many flowers beside,
Both of a fresh and fragrant kin,
To honour Whitsuntide.

5. Green rushes then, and sweetest bents,
With cooler oaken boughs,
Come in for comly ornaments,
To readorn the house.

6. Thus times do shift;
Each thing his turn doth hold;
New things succeed,
As former things grow old.

In case you are missing some context, Candlemas, tomorrow, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was at one time considered the best day to remove the Christmas holly, and replace it with fresh boxwood to keep the semblence of greenery about the house. The holly was often retained to light the fire for the Shrove Tuesday pancakes. Shrove Tuesday is (can you believe it?) only a week away.

Pope Again Admonishes Diocesan Tribunals Over Easy Annulments

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam has the details, though I was having trouble opening the Zenit link provided.

Not every marriage that breaks down is invalid. Given the careful preparation of most Catholic marriages today, it takes a lot of stretching of the circumstances that existed at the time of the marriage to declare a Catholic marriage invalid. The tribunals really have been looking for a reason to grant the annulments to grant the huge percentage that they have granted for the last 30 years.

Some 90% of petitions are still granted in the US, Canada, and Western Europe. This is a shameful state of affairs, and anyone who takes advantage of it is participating in the sin and scandal of a too-lenient clerisy, rather like all those folks just before the Reformation who bought indulgences and thought they were going to Heaven.

I for one have never believed that one's personal happiness is paramount in life. There are more things in life to be endured than to be enjoyed, said Samuel Johnson, and I agree. Reasonable people, through prayer and counseling from organizations like Retrouvaille, which St. Blog's Father Keyes is so involved in, can learn to live in comity together under just about every circumstance. You just need to grow up, suck it up, and try.

Mercy, do people think all those arranged marriages of generations ago were happy love matches? That they had no problems? No, that were certainly not, and certainly did not. People just learned to live together and work for a common goal, and for the most part kept their pants zippered and their legs closed to all but their spouse.

Once you take that marriage vow, it is for life. Don't go looking for a slimy, sneaky way out, taking advantage of the open scandal of the American diocesan tribunals.

The Vatican can stop this by overturning appealed grants of annulment more frequently. And it ought to.

The premise that God always wants people to be happy and re-marry is false. Self-fulfillment and self-actualization are not the goals of human existence. The goal is salvation and living within sacred vows. God wants us to work through the problems, stick it out, and dance until the day you die, with the one that brung ya. That's why the marriage vows say things like "for better or worse," "for richer or poorer," "in good times and in bad," "in sickness and in health", and "until death do you part."

Update: While we are on the subject of annulments, Dom Bettinelli raises the excellent point that the process is too opaque, much more so than required by privacy laws. The fact that a petition for annulment has been filed, and whether it has been granted or not, or whether it is currently under consideration, and where it stands procedurally, without any personal details, ought to be made available by the Church to any party, not just parties to the marriage.

St. Bridget

Today is the feast of the patroness of Ireland.

Here is a St. Bridget's Cross,

and here are instructions in how to make one. I can't as I'm hopeless at this kind of thing. Though I'm a little more artistic than I used to be, as I've been spending one morning a week lately experimenting with painting illuminations for my book of prayers (almost a very large modern Book of Hours), though I must admit I am not very good, as most 6th graders could do better painting than I am doing.

I've Said It Recently, But I'll Say It Again

I find Penitens' reflections over at A Penitent Blogger very relevent to my own life and very much worth the few minutes it takes to read. It is a daily read for me now that I know about it. You should make it a regular stop as well.

Monday, January 31, 2005

We're Having A Heat Wave, A Tropical Heat Wave

Temperatures are supposed to be around or above freezing for the next 5 days!

WaaHoo!!!! Break out the shorts and sun block!

This Is Messed Up!

German government and society have no grounding in Christian morality any longer.

Here is the story. A woman with a background in computer technology lost her job, and took one as a waitress. She lost that job, and filed for unemployment benefits.

Under German law, the employment center hooks the jobless person up with a job if a potential employer contacts them. If you refuse an offer, you lose your benefits. Also under German law, the employment center cannot discriminate against brothels, as prostitution is now legal in Germany.

So a brothel calls an employment center about this woman. She refuses to work as a prostitute. So she is going to lose her unemployment benefits because she refuses to become a prostitute.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

Sexagesima Sunday

Roughly 60 days until Easter.

Still in the period of pre-Lenten penitence.

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