Saturday, June 11, 2005

Weymouth Church Looks To Be Total Loss

Sacred Heart in Weymouth was the scene of a catastrophic fire Friday.

Just a week after the Feast of the Sacred Heart, in the month of June, which is devoted to the Sacred Heart.

A Parade Image

But it could not be more different from the parade that Boston held today.
Here it was Fag Day, not Flag Day

Meanwhile in the streets of Boston

Slow Work

My work on the links project I mentioned yesterday is going more slowly than I expected. It may be next weekend before I am done with this project.

It is bad enough that I have a huge number of links already. But as I go through them, there are very few being weeded out, and a great many new ones being added. Plus some are being re-arranged. That is taking the time. Then laboriously adding code to each entry is going to be quite time-consuming, even with the copy-and-paste technique.

So I'm revising my estimate of being done by the middle of next week. If I'm done a week from Monday, I'll be pleased.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I've Been Thinking

About a complete overhaul of my links list.

I want to get space for more images along that righthand side. I want categories that don't require me to preface every entry with something that will put it where I want in the blog roll. And I want to do without Blogroll, as I have always been conscious of the fact that much of the contents of my links aren't blogs at all, but websites.

And since I have been studying html lately, my project over this weekend, and probably part of next week, will be to recreate my links with my own html coding in this blog's template. And if it works, I'll ditch blogroll. There may be a brief (or maybe lengthy) gap in the availability of the links when I am ready to implement.

But that won't be for some time. Just copying the text and urls will take some time, as I have many links, and I will juggle them around to some extent. For instance, I never noticed that I had two links to The American Spectator, one as The American Spectator, one as American Spectator (ludicrously in the same category). And some new links will pop up, as well as old links that are no longer operative being weeded out. Then I have to laboriously add the coding to each item. Then pick and add images to insert between categories.

So it is a big project, which will cut into my blogging. But I think the blog will be better for it. Besides, can you think of a better way to spend a hot and humid weekend, than in the air conditioning with the computer?

Requiescat In Pace

M. Basil Pennington, OCSO, formerly of St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, and author of numerous books on modern monastic spirituality died on June 3rd. I read and greatly profited from his A Place Apart, about how to introduce monastic solitude to any place. I also read his Praying By Hand, on the Rosary, and greatly liked it.

He had in recent years been sojourning at Trappist monasteries in Asia, but must have returned to Spencer, as his obituary notes that he died as Vespers was being chanted. From the note, I infer that illness curtailed his sojourn in Asia.

Along With Thomas Keating, who was once abbot of Spencer, he was instrumental in the introduction of Eastern ideas into Catholic monasticism (and they were both taking cues and following along trails Merton had blazed). But he also wrote about genuine Catholic devotions in a moving and helpful way. So his legacy is somewhat mixed.

Requiescat in pace.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

"I Remember One Archbishop Telling Me, `My Feeling About This, Tom, Is No One's Ever Going To Sue the Catholic Church."

I guess his feeling was wrong, wasn't it, since costs since 1950 have exceeded $1 billion dollars.

What a complacent idiot to be running an Archdiocese!

No wonder we are in the mess we are in.

Well, That Was Timely

Here I am reading The Way as my June lectio and posting some snippets from it here, Chris Matthews did a piece on Opus Dei.

Thanks to Amy Welborn for the link.

I don't watch TV, so I would have missed it anyway. The commenters at Amy's seem to think it was fairly balanced, given that it was Chris Matthews.

Women To Be "Ordained"

On a boat on the Saint Lawrence River.

The claims in some quarters that they are the first are wrong. Two years ago, as the article notes, another group of female nutburgers did the same thing on a boat on the Danube. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger gave them 30 days to repudiate the sacrilege they participated in, or face excommunication. Thirty days passed without repudiation, and they were duly excommunicated. Now, not only are they not priests (which they will never be as it is beyond the power of the Church to ordain women), they are not even Catholics.

And two of the "priestesses" ordained then are now said to be bishops, and are going to be ordaining the next batch of excommunicants.

Step right up. The gateway to Hell is nice and wide!

I anticipate the same result here.

What is it with these nutters and boats?

In the 18th Century, the Royal Navy Used To Shoot Admirals For Lesser Failures

Than this inexplicable blindness to a serious increase in the threat China poses to the US.

Remember My New England Weather Bitch?

Well, my prediction that we would go from miserable 50s and raw, rainy, windy conditions that prevailed in May to 85-90 and humid seems to be correct.

No mild gentle spring this year. We went directly from a brutally cold and snowy New England winter to a dispiriting, temperate European-style winter, to a blazing hot, sauna-humid blistering summer.

Boston Turns Into Sodom On The Charles Saturday

Gay pride parade.

Good day to be out of town, unless you have a strong stomach, and a high tolerance for flamboyant displays while the perverts are on parade.

I do not, so I will be out of the city that day.

Meanwhile, Saint Augustine, Florida is being forced by a meddlesome judge to fly the "Queer Nation" rainbow flag.

The Anglican Breviary And More

I noticed a pair of blog entries on the Anglican Breviary. Hilary at Fiat Mihi starts us off, and John at The Inn At the End of the World responds.

While you are over at The Inn, check the next entry below, a discussion of an article on Pope Benedict's liturgical priorities.

I see what is spelled out in the article John cites as something of a list for Santa Claus. Great if it could all be done. Also nice if even one or two items show up under the tree. But don't expect the whole thing.

There are "kid in a candy store" possibilities to the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. But, just as politics is the art of the possible, ecclesiastical politics can accomplish only so much in the teeth of a prevailing zeitgeist in the Church's lower and middle levels, even when all good stuff is mandated by the guy at the top.

The hard reality is that local bishops and national conferences of bishops will continue to have a lot to say in what liturgical practices are engaged in, and what are not. So, if you are languishing in a diocese without an Indult Latin Mass, don't hold your breath for the initiation of one. It would take a lot of browbeating and dragooning for the Holy Father to bring every bishop on board. How many times have we seen directives on proper celebration of the Mass ignored at the diocesan and parish level (for "pastoral reasons" no doubt)?

And the Holy Father is going to have his work cut out for him in his main goal, trying to shore up and preserve some remnant of Catholic Christianity in Europe, so much so that he will not have a lot of time for the kind of concentration on liturgy that is also needed (and that he seems personally inclined towards).

From Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer's The Way

From Chapter 1, Character

1.Don't let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love.

With your apostolic life, wipe out the trail of filth and slime left by the corrupt sowers of hatred. And set aflame all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you bear in your heart.

3."Maturity. Stop acting the child; drop that affectation that only suits a silly girl. Let your outward conduct reflect the peace and order of your soul."

4. "Don't say: 'That's the way I'm made... it's my character'. It's your lack of character: Be a man."

5. "Get used to saying No."

6. "Turn your back on the tempter when he whispers in your ear: 'Why make life difficult for yourself?'"

8. "Serenity. Why lose your temper if by doing so you offend God, annoy other people, upset yourself... and have to find it again in the end?"

10."Never correct anyone while you are still indignant about a fault committed. Wait until the next day, or even longer. And then, calmly, and with a purer intention, make your reprimand. You will gain more by one friendly word than by a three-hour quarrel. Control your temper."

11."Will-power. Energy. Example. What has to be done, is done... without hesitation, without more worrying.

Otherwise, Teresa of Avila would not have been Saint Teresa: nor Iñigo of Loyola, Saint Ignatius.

God and daring! 'We want Christ to reign!'

13."Get rid of those useless thoughts which, at best, are but a waste of time."

15."Don't put off your work until tomorrow."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Images At the Top Of the Page

Unless you are either very knowledgeable about medieval books of hours, or an avid observer of Recta Ratio: The Yahoo Group, you will never have seen the images at the top of the page before. They are from Jean Poyet's brilliant late-Medieval work for an unknown patron which has come to be called The Hours Of Henry VIII.

From right to left, the first is Saint Jerome in Penance, with the rock he used to beat his chest, and the thornbush he rolled around in to drive out the temptations of the flesh. It was used to illustrate the Suffrage fo the Saints prayer to St. Jerome, and is the only full-page image in the Suffrages section.

In the middle is the Mass of Saint Gregory. According to legend, while this Pope was saying Mass once, the body of our Lord, supported by angels, and accompanied by the instruments of the Passion appeared on the altar before him. Note the liturgical correctness of the deacon holding up the hem of the celebrant's robe, while the subdeacon holds a torch. Look familiar, fellow Holy Trinity parishioners? This illustrated a devotion known as the Seven Prayers of Saint Gregory On the Passion of Our Lord.

And on the right is an image from the Seven Penitential Psalms, Job on his dungheap being afflicted by his three "friends." And yes, Job does look a lot like St. Jerome (and Gaspar in another illustration from the Hours of the Blessed Mother)!

You can see full-size versions of these images (and a few others by Poyet) at Recta Ratio: The Yahoo Group (link on the right at the top of the links column: scroll down to get to the links on most browsers).

What Is Next?

Over the last couple of years, I have regularly featured installments of various classic works of Catholic spirituality. I have posted daily reflections for Lent and Advent, as well as for the month of May. I have posted prayers from The Glories of Mary. I have posted excerpts from The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, and from The Imitation of Christ.

Well, I have been looking around for something to fill up the vacant space when I don't feel like pontificating, and, after some false starts, have found it. I feel a fondness for St. Thomas a Kempis' other spiritual work, Consolations For My Soul, recently translated by William Griffin, but can't get past my frustration with Griffin's relentlessly modern paraphrasing. I like my Thees, Thous, and Thines, and Griffin has stripped St. Thomas' second work of much of the feel that my edition of The Imitation has. And I would literally have to type everything out, as Griffin's edition from last year is the only one available to me, and it is not on-line.

But that little frustration was not important, because I have stumbled upon a gem. I will soon start posting excerpts from Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer's The Way.

I will admit that I am not an unreserved fan of Opus Dei. Yet, I have much sympathy for its goals. And in reading through The Way, I have found myself strongly agreeing with what Saint Josemaria has to say. I think it is a practical guide to living a Catholic life that would, if widely followed, be an obvious and effective rememdy for many of the ills of society.

So put aside the idealogical hats for a while, stop worrying about Franco and The Da Vinci Code's line of BS, and sit back to read, absorb, understand, and internalize what this new saint has to say. The Way has been called a modern Imitation of Christ, and with good reason. But there is a twist. Much of what St. Thomas a Kempis had to say was applicable to those living a cloistered life. St. Josemaria is talking to everybody. And, like St. Thomas, he is full of much practical, and holy, wisdom. Base your judgment on St. Josemaria on what he actually said, not on what his enemies say about him and Opus Dei.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Which of the 110 Banned Books From This List Have You Read?

I found this over at Melanie Scott's site (though I missed the fact that she had her own, until hubby-to-be Domenico pointed it out).

Here for your enjoyment is the list of the top 110 banned books. Bold the ones you've read. Italicize the ones you've read part of. Read more. Convince others to read some. [I don't know if you actually need to read some or convince others as long as you've got practically any marked as read on this list ... you get the point.]

1. The Bible
2. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
4. The Koran
5. Arabian Nights
6. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
7. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
8. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
9. Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
10. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
11. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
12. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
13. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
14. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
15. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
16. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
17. Dracula by Bram Stoker
18. Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
19. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
20. Essays by Michel de Montaigne
21. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
22. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
23. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
24. Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
25. Ulysses by James Joyce
26. Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
27. Animal Farm by George Orwell
28. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

29. Candide by Voltaire
30. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
31. Analects by Confucius
32. Dubliners by James Joyce
33. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
34. Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
35. Red and the Black by Stendhal
36. Capital by Karl Marx
37. Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
38. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
39. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
40. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
41. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
42. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
43. Jungle by Upton Sinclair
44. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
45. Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
46. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
47. Diary by Samuel Pepys
48. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
49. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
50. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
51. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
52. Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
53. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
54. Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
55. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
56. Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
57. Color Purple by Alice Walker
58. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
59. Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
60. Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
61. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
62. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
63. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
64. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
65. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
66. Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
67. Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
68. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
69. The Talmud
70. Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
71. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
72. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
73. American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
74. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
75. Separate Peace by John Knowles
76. Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77. Red Pony by John Steinbeck
78. Popol Vuh
79. Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
80. Satyricon by Petronius
81. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
82. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
83. Black Boy by Richard Wright
84. Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
85. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
86. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
87. Metaphysics by Aristotle
88. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
89. Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
90. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
91. Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
92. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
93. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
94. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
95. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
96. Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
97. General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
98. Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
99. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
100. Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
101. Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
102. Emile by Jean Jacques Rousseau
103. Nana by Emile Zola
104. Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
105. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
106. Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
107. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
108. Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
109. Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
110. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Pretty much what you would expect from a standard prep school education followed by a partial great books curriculum at college.

A better quiz would rule out books you "had" to read for high school and college.

Gay "Marriage" Is Anarchy, Rather That Liberty

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI says that marriage is between one man and one woman for life, and that there are no alternatives.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Meanwhile In the UK

Another anti-Catholic act occured when vandals entered Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire and smashed a statute of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Act Up "Are Savages"

Over the weekend, Act Up attacked Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and staged a mock gay "wedding" inside, before being chased out by secutiry personnel. And a monsignor was injured in the scuffle between the Act Up group and security.

And the characterization of the "activists" as savages was not mine (though I wholeheartedly agree with it) but the injured monsignor's.

I'll seize any excuse to post an image of Notre Dame

Does the Date June 6th Ring Any Bells?

Admittedly, it is only a 61st anniversary. Last year was the big ruckus.

And with every passing day, there are fewer and fewer World War II veterans out there as living testaments to what was accomplished on a bloody day on the Normandy beaches (and many bloody months working their way from the Normandy bocage to Paris, up Hell's Highway, through the Hurtgen Forest and the Ardennes, across the Rhine, and well into Germany).

But the lack of public note of this day is still shocking to me. I grew up on World War II. My toys as a child were its toy guns and soldiers. My reading was heavy on Churchill and von Mellenthin, Guderian and Patton. My TV viewing The Longest Day, A Bridge Too Far, The Battle of the Bulge, Combat and The Rat Patrol (as well as McHale's Navy and Hogan's Heroes).

So June 6th is not a day I am going to forget. Nor should anyone else. Our country, and all the world owes an enormous, almost unfathomable, debt to those men who fought, and those who died, to liberate a continent from the armed plague of National Socialism. Recta Ratio salutes our veterans of World War II, and offers them, inadequate as it is, our thanks, our prayers, and our good will.

Catholic Books Don't Sell

Amy Welborn digests and discusses a Publishers Weekly article on why Evangelical books sell much better than Catholic books (despite the fact that there are more of us than of them).

That datum is for this Catholic author, as they say, a bad hit.

The fact that the "Catholic" books that are being read are by Wills, Carroll, and Cornwell is pretty disappointing.

In fact, through TAN, Ignatius, Sophia Institute, and Liguori, there are editions of many Catholic classics available today. And yet, according to the data presented in the article, they are not moving.

Amy does a nice job discussing the article's attempt at analysis, and is correct that much of it is pretty lame.

But one thing does ring true: that Catholics tend to practice more than read. They have many of the same Church social functions that everyone else does, and a wide liturgical schedule that includes not just weekly Mass, but often daily Mass, Rosary, Holy Hours of Eucharistic Adoration, visits with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Liturgy of the Hours, Novenas, the Stations of the Cross, and other devotions. And to some extent, this crowds-out reading time. Balancing devotional and liturgical (or quasi-liturgical) activities with devotional reading, work, and family is not an easy thing. And if because of the press of time, anything needs to be dropped from that agenda, it would be devotional reading.

The number of Catholics who pull out Aquinas and Augustine, Bellarmine and John of the Cross, Thomas a Kempis and Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila and Theresa of Lisieux, even Hahn or Weigel, is miniscule.

The best bet for selling to the Catholic reading public seems to be a book of prayers, something that they need for the various devotions they engage in. Forget about books of theology. Dismiss from your mind any thoughts of getting rich selling a book about mystics or monastic life.

Catholic readers want the basics. The fact that they are coming out of RCIA, CCD, and Catholic parochial and high schools, as well as most "Catholic" colleges utterly ignorant of the devotional life of the Faith is an opportunity for an enterprising Catholic editor.

But it does not leave much hope for a Catholic writer. We have all seen Mark Shea's only-somewhat-tongue-in-cheek appeals for funds, and the man is a fairly prolific writer (and good, too).

I've spent the last 10 months grinding away on a huge hand-illuminated and lavishly illustrated compilation of traditional Catholic devotions. And I know I will be lucky to walk away from a publisher with a few thousand sheckels. If it sells at all (and there is a fair chance it won't).

The market is what it is. You just have to find a way to work around it.

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