Saturday, August 04, 2007

Update On Wednesday's Lammas Post

A reader, who shall remain anonymous, kept us up to date on the harvest season in the great Commonwealth of Virginia:

In many parts of the Commonwealth, Virginia remains something of an agricultural society existing side by side with hi-tech corridors, urban centers, retirement centers, political centers, and tourist centers.

At least two crops are planted in the same field depending upon where one is located. Here in Tidewater, Winter wheat, which was harvested some weeks (months)ago, may be followed by corn or soybeans. Melons, tomatoes, and other veggies and fruits have been and continue to be harvested.

Then there are the various seasons for our seafood harvests. In the first weekend of November the Town of Urbanna, on the Rappahannock is the site of the Oyster Festival where over one weekend some 50-75,000 folks descend upon this town of 460 homes solely to consume the oyster in its many culinary guises.

This is something of an endangered way of life as more New Englanders or others head south, more of our farms are turned into developments or planned communities. At some point one has to ask where will the food come from or is Soylent Green to be our future.

I would add that our New England farms are under development pressure, too. Of particulaar concern is the development of the tobacco farm areas of the Connecticut River Valley, which is the source for the best cigar wrapper tobacco in the world.

Catholic Manliness

Very interesting article over at Crisis.


Saint Dominic

Early August is one of those periods when saints days were moved rather haphazardly in the new calendar, so that there was much shifting of this saint one or two days, and that saint for the same period. At least 3 major saints were shuffled back and forth, including Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Saint Jean Marie Vianney, and Saint Dominic de Guzman. In the new calendar, today is the feast of Saint Jean Marie Vianney. But we are trads here, and August 4th is the feast of Saint Dominic de Guzman, founder of the Order of Preachers, which we know better as the Dominicans.

Here is what The Golden Legend has to say about him.

And the Catholic Encyclopedia

It was Saint Dominic who first put the Rosary in the form we know it.


Our Blessed Lady's Saturday

The Church dedicates the month of August to the Immaculate Heart of Our Blessed Lady. Her feast in the traditional calendar falls on August 22nd. And her Assumption, a holy day of obligation, falls always on the 15th. Therefore, August's editions of Our Blessed Lady's Saturday will be devoted to her Immaculate Heart. Today is also the first Saturday of August.

Here is a good precis of the First Saturday devotion, from Memorare.com:
The desire for a First Saturday devotion revealed by the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three children at Fatima in 1917. On December 10, 1925, the Virgin revealed more details about the devotion to Sister Lucia, the only seer still alive and at that time a cloistered nun. From that time, the devotion has spread throughout the world on the day (Saturday) that the Church has traditionally honored the Blessed Virgin. There is no distinct confraternity/association for this devotion, though many apostolates incorporate it into their devotional program.

To establish devotion (in accordance with God's wishes) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to make reparation for...
1. Attacks upon the reality of Mary's Immaculate Conception
2. Attacks against her the reality of Mary's Perpetual Virginity
3. Attacks upon Mary's Divine Maternity and the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all mankind
4. Those who try to publicly implant in children's hearts indifference, contempt and hatred for Immaculate Mary
5. For those who insult Mary directly in her sacred images.

The devotion involves the following practices on five consecutive first Saturdays with the specific intention of making reparation for the offenses (above) against the Blessed Virgin.
1. Go to Confession (within 8 days before or after the first Saturday)
2. Receive Holy Communion
3. Recite five decades of the Rosary*
4. "Keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on fifteen mysteries of the Rosary" (separate from the Rosary itself)*
(*Preferably done in the presence of the Lord in the Tabernacle or at Exposition)

1. The Virgin Mary's assistance at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation for those who practice the devotion.
2. Salvation of souls and peace as a result of promoting of the Devotion to the Immaculate Heart.

This prayer is from The Raccolta

Heart of Mary, Mother of God, our Mother, Heart most amiable, on which the Adorable Trinity ever looks with complacency, worthy of all the veneration and tenderness of angels and of men; Heart most like the Heart of Jesus, whose most perfect image thou art; heart full of goodness, ever compassionate towards our miseries, - vouchsafe to thaw our icy hearts, that they may be changed entirely to the likeness of the heart of Jesus. Infuse into them the love of thy virtues, inflame them with that blessed fire with which thou dost ever burn. In thee let the Holy Church find safe shelter; protect it, and be its sweet asylum, its tower of strength, impregnable against every inroad of its enemies. Be thou the road leading to Jesus; be thou the channel whereby we receive all graces needful for our salvation. Be thou our help in need, our comfort in trouble, our strength in temptation, our refuge in persecution, our aid in all dangers; but especially in the last struggle of our life, at the moment of our death, when all hell will be unchained against us to snatch away our souls, - in that dread moment, that hour so terrible, whereon our eternity depends, and, yes, most tender Virgin, do thou then make us feel how great is the sweetness of thy motherly Heart, and the strength of thy power with the Heart of Jesus, by opening for us a safe refuge in the very fount of mercy itself, whereby we too may one day join with thee in Paradise in praising that same Heart of Jesus for ever and for ever. Amen.


Friday, August 03, 2007

An Irish Christmas Cake Recipe

1 cup butter
1 cup diced fruit
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon nuts
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup brown sugar
1 bottle of Irish whiskey
1 cup of sugar

Sample whiskey to check for quality. Set out a large bowl.Check the whiskey again to be sure it is of the highest Irish quality. Pour one level cupful and drink. Repeat. Turn on electric mixer, beat 1 cupful of butter in a large fluffy bowl, add one spoon tea of sugar and beat again. Make sure the whiskey is still O.K. Turn off the mixer. Break two legs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Mix on the turner. If the fruit gets stuck in the beaters, pry loose with a drewscriver. Next, sift 2 cups of salt-or something. Check the whiskey. Now sift the lemon juice and strain the nuts. Turn the cake pan to 350 degrees. Don't forget to burn off the turner. Throw the bowl out the window. Check the whiskey once again and then go to bed.
From Irish Culture and Customs


Friday At the Foot of the Cross

Ant. Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Psalm 6
1 Unto the end, in verses, a psalm for David, for the octave.
2 O Lord, rebuke me not in thy indignation, nor chastise me in thy wrath. 3 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak: heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. 4 And my soul is troubled exceedingly: but thou, O Lord, how long? 5 Turn to me, O Lord, and deliver my soul: O save me for thy mercy's sake. 6 For there is no one in death, that is mindful of thee: and who shall confess to thee in hell? 7 I have laboured in my groanings, every night I will wash my bed: I will water my couch with my tears. 8 My eye is troubled through indignation: I have grown old amongst all my enemies. 9 Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity: for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. 10 The Lord hath heard my supplication: the Lord hath received my prayer.
11 Let all my enemies be ashamed, and be very much troubled: let them be turned back, and be ashamed very speedily.

Glory be...

Ant. Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Prayer Against Pride
Our Lord Jesus Christ humbled Himself, obedient unto death, even death on the Cross. And I, the most vile of worms, am but dust and ashes. I am the greatest of sinners who has merited hell a thousand times, do I not fear my soul to be carried off? Be gracious to me, O Lord. I acknowledge and detest my cursing arrogance. Do not, I beseech Thee, throw me down into the pit of Gehenna along with proud Lucifer and his servants. Turn to me and rescue my soul. Help me and save me on account of Thy mercy. I prefer to lie abject upon the threshold of the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of sinners. (Ps 83:11)


Today Would Have Been My Mother's 84th Birthday

O God, Who hast commanded us to honour our father and our mother, in Thy mercy have pity on the souls of my mother Kathryn and father George, and forgive them their trespasses, and make me to see them again in the joy of everlasting light. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.

V. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord,
R. And may perpetual light shine upon her.
V. May she rest in peace.
R. Amen.

A Mother's Love's A Blessing
1. An Irish boy was leaving,
Leaving his own native home,
Crossing the broad Atlantic,
Once more he wished to roam,
And as he was leaving his mother,
Who was standing on the quay,
She threw her arms around his waist,
And this to him did say,

A mother's love's a blessing,
No matter where you roam,
Keep her while she's living,
You'll miss her when she's gone,
Love her as in childhood,
Though feeble, old and grey,
For you'll never miss a mother's love,
Till she's buried beneath the clay.

2. And as the years go onwards,
I'll settle down in life,
And choose a nice young colleen,
And take her for my wife,
And as the babes grow older,
And climb around my knee,
I'll teach them the very same lesson,
That my mother taught to me.

A mother's love's a blessing,
No matter where you roam,
Keep her while she's living,
You'll miss her when she's gone,
Love her as in childhood,
Though feeble, old and grey,
For you'll never miss a mother's love,
Till she's buried beneath the clay.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Be Aware, Be Watchful

Passing on a warning of a possible terrorist attack on the US, perhaps involving multiple targets in multiple locations, within the next 90 days.

Found via Tea At Trianon.


Mystic Monk Coffee

This is a labor of the Carmelite monks of the Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in Clark, Wyoming. This community celebrates the extraordinary mode of the Latin Rite, or Mass according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII (TLM, for short). They were established on the authority of the local ordinary, Bishop Ricken.

And the coffee is hand-roasted in the monastery, and comes in a variety of flavors. Plus there are "Mystic Monk" coffee mugs!

I need a cup of good strong coffee to start my day.


Time Flies; Remember Death

Sermon for the Third Sunday After Easter, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:


On the value of time.
"A little while, and now you shall not see me” -John, xvi. 16.

THERE is nothing shorter than time, but there is nothing more valuable. There is nothing shorter than time; because the past is no more, the future is uncertain, and the present is but a moment. This is what Jesus Christ meant when he said: 1' A little while, and now you shall not see me”. We may say the same of our life, which, according to St. James, is but a vapour, which is soon scattered for ever. “For what is your life? It is a vapour which appeareth for a little while” -James, iv. 14. But the time of this life is as precious as it is short; for, in every moment, if we spend it well, we can acquire treasures of merits for Heaven; but, if we employ time badly, we may in each moment commit sin, and merit Hell. I mean this day to show you how precious is every moment of the time which God gives us, not to lose it, and much less to commit sin, but to perform good works and to save our souls.
1. “Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time I have heard thee, and in the day of salvation I have helped thee” -Isa., xlix. 8. St. Paul explains this passage, and says, that the acceptable time is the time in which. God has determined to confer his favours upon us. He then adds: “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” -II. Cor., vi. 2. The Apostle exhorts us not to spend unprofitably the present time, which he calls the day of salvation; because, perhaps, after this day of salvation, there shall be no salvation for US. The &time ' says the same Apostle, 'I is short: it remaineth that they that weep be as though they wept not; that they that rejoice, as if they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as if they used it not” -1. Cor., vii. 29, 30, 31. Since, then, the time which we have to remain on this Earth is short, the Apostle tells those who weep, that they ought not to weep, because their sorrows shall soon pass away; and those who rejoice, not to fix their affections on their enjoyments, because they shall soon have an end. Hence he concludes, that we should use this world, not to enjoy its transitory goods, but to merit eternal life.
2. “Son”, says the Holy Ghost, “observe the time” -Ecel., iv. 23. Son, learn to preserve time, which is the most precious, and the greatest gift that God can bestow upon you. St. Bannerdine of Sienna teaches, that time is of as much value as God; because in every moment of time well spent, the possession of God is merited. He adds, that in every instant of this life a man may obtain the pardon of his sins, the grace of God, and the glory of Paradise.” Modico tempore potest homo lucrari gratiam. et gloriam”. Hence St. Bonaventure says, that no loss is of greater moment than the loss of time” -ser. xxxvil. in Sept.
3. But, in another place, St. Bernardine says, that, though there is nothing more precious than time, there is nothing less valuable in the estimation of men. “Nil pretiosius tempore, nil vilius reputatur” -ser. ii., ad Schol. You will see some persons spending four or five hours in play. If you ask them why they lose so much time, they answer: To amuse ourselves. Others remain half the day standing in the street, or looking out from a window. If you ask them what they are doing, they shall say in reply, that they are passing the time. And why, says the same saint, do you lose this time? Why should you lose even a single hour, which the mercy of God gives you to weep for your sins, and to acquire the divine grace? “Donec hora pertranseat, quam tibi ad agendam poenitentiam, ad acquirendam. gratiam, miseratio conditoris indulserit”.
4. O time despised by men during life, how much shall you be desired at the hour of death, and particularly in the other world! Time is a blessing which we enjoy only in this life; it is not enjoyed in the next; it is not found in Heaven nor in Hell. In Hell, the damned exclaim with tears: “Oh! that an hour were given to us”. They would pay any price for an hour or for a minute, in which they might repair their eternal ruin. But this hour or minute they never shall have. In Heaven, there is no weeping; but, were the saints capable of sorrow, all their wailing should arise from the thought of having lost in this life the time in which they could have acquired greater glory, and from the conviction that this time shall never more be given to them. A deceased Benedictine nun appeared in glory to a certain person, and said, that she was in Heaven, and in the enjoyment of perfect happiness; but that, if she could desire anything it would be to return to life, and to suffer affliction, in order to merit an increase of glory. And she added, that, to acquire the glory which corresponded to a single Ave Maria, she would be content to suffer till the day of judgment, the long and painful sickness which brought on her death. Hence St. Francis Borgia was careful to employ every moment of his time for God. When others spoke of useless things, he conversed with God by holy affections: and so recollected was he, that, when asked his opinion on the subject of conversation, he knew not what answer to make. Being corrected for this, he said: I am content to be considered stupid rather than lose my time in vanities.
5. Some of you will say:What evil am I doing? Is it not, I ask, an evil to spend your time in plays, in conversations, and useless occupations, which are unprofitable to the soul? Does God give you this time to lose it?” Let not”, says the Holy Ghost,” the part of a good gift overpass thee” -Eccl., xiv. 14. The workmen of whom St. Matthew speaks, did no evil; they only lost time by remaining idle in the streets. But they were rebuked by the father of the family, saying: “Why stand you here all the day idle?” -Matt., xx. 6. On the day of judgment Jesus Christ shall demand an account, not only of every month and day that has been lost, but even of every idle word. Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it on the day of judgment” -Matt., xii. 36. He shall likewise demand an account of every moment of the time which you shall lose. According to St. Bernard, all time which is not spent for God, is lost time.” Omne tempus quo de Deo non cogitasti, cogita te perdidisse” -Coll. I., cap. viii. Hence the Holy Ghost says:” Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly; for neither work nor reason shall be in Hell, whither thou art hastening” -Ecel., ix. 10. What you can do to-day, defer not till to-morrow; for, on to-morrow you may be dead, and may be gone into another world, where you shall have no more time to do good, and where you shall only enjoy the reward of your virtues, or suffer the punishment due to your sins.” To-day, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts” -Ps., xeiv. 8. God calls you to confess your sins, to restore ill-gotten goods, to be reconciled with your enemies. Obey his call to-day; for it may happen that, on to-morrow, time may be no more for you, or that God will call you no more. All our salvation depends on corresponding with the divine calls, and at the time that God calls us.
6. But some of you will perhaps say: I am young; after some time I will give myself to God. But, remember that the Gospel tells us, that Jesus Christ cursed the fig tree which he found without fruit, although the season for figs had not yet arrived.“It was not the time for figs” -Mark, xi. 13. By this the Saviour wished to signify, that man at all times, even in youth, should produce fruits of good works; and that otherwise, like the fig tree, he shall be cursed, and shall produce no fruit for the future. “May no man hereafter eat any more fruit of thee for ever” -ibid., v. 14. “Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it not from day to day; for his wrath shall come on a sudden” -Eccl., v. 8, 9. If you find your soul in the state of sin, delay not your repentance nor your confession; do not put them off even till to-morrow; for, if you do not obey the voice of God calling you to-day to confess your sins, death may this day overtake you in sin, and to-morrow there may be no hope of salvation for you. The Devil regards the whole of our life as very short, and therefore he loses not a moment of time, but tempts us day and night. “The Devil is come down unto you having great wrath, knowing that he bath but a short time” -Apoc., xii. 12. The enemy, then, never loses time in seeking to bring us to Hell: and shall we squander the time which God has given us to save our souls?
7. You say:I will hereafter give myself to God. But “why”, answers St. Bernard, “do you, a miserable sinner, presume on the future, as if the Father placed time in your power?” -serm. xxxviii. de Part., etc. Why do you presume that You will hereafter give yourself to God, as if he had given to you the time and opportunity of returning to him whenever you wish? Job said with trembling, that he knew not whether another moment of his life remained:” For I know not how long I shall continue, and whether after a while my Maker may take me away” -xxxii. 22. And you say: I will not go to confession to-day; I will think of it to-morrow. “Diem tenes”, says St. Augustine, “qui horam non tenes”. How can you promise yourself another day, when you know not whether you shall live for an hour? “If”, says St. Teresa, “you are not prepared to die to-day, tremble, lest you die an unhappy death”.
8. St. Bernardine weeps over the blindness of those negligent Christians, who squander the days of salvation, and never consider that a day once lost shall never return.” Transeunt dies, salutis et nemo recogitat sibi perire diem et nunquam. rediturum” -Serm. ad Scholar. At the hour of death they shall wish for another year, or for another day; but they shall not have it: they shall then be told that time shall be no more. What price would they not then give for another week, for a day, or even for an hour, to prepare the account which they must then render to God? St. Lawrence Justinian says, that for a single hour they would give all their property, all their honours, and all their delights. “Erogaret opes, honores, delicias, pro una horula” -Vit. Solit., cap. x. But this hour shall not be granted to them. The priest who attends them shall say: Depart, depart immediately from this Earth; for you time is no more. Go forth, Christian soul, from this world”.
9. What will it profit the sinner who has led an irregular life, to exclaim at death: Oh! that I had led a life of sanctity I Oh! that I had spent my years in loving God! How great is the anguish of a traveller, who, when the night has fallen, perceives that he has missed the way, and that there is no more time to correct his mistake! Such shall be the anguish at death of those who have lived many years in the world, but have not spent them for God. “The night cometh, when no man can work” -John, ix. 4. Hence the Redeemer says to all: “Walk whilst you have light, that the darkness overtake you not” -John, xii. 35. Walk in the way of salvation, now that you have the light, before you are surprised by the darkness of death, in which you can do nothing. You can then only weep over the time which you have lost.
10. “He hath called against me the time” -Thren., i. 15. At the hour of death, conscience will remind us of all the time which we have had to become saints, and which we have employed in multiplying our debts to God. It will remind us of all the calls and of all the graces which he has given us to make us love him, and which we have abused. At that awful moment, we shall also see that the way to salvation is closed for ever. In the midst of these remorses, and of the torturing darkness of death, the dying sinner shall say: Oh! fool that I have been! O life mispent! O lost years, in which I could have gained treasures of merits, and have become a saint I but, I have neglected both, and now the time of saving my soul is gone for ever. But, of what use shall these railings and lamentations be, when the scene of this world is about to close, the lamp is on the point of being extinguished, and when the dying Christian has arrived at that great moment on which eternity depends?
11. “Be you then also ready; for, at what hour you think not, the Son of Man will come” -Luke, xii. 40. The Lord says: “Be prepared”. He does not tell us to prepare ourselves when death approaches, but to be ready for his coming; because when we think least of death, the Son of Man shall come and demand an account of our whole life. In the confusion of death, it will be most difficult to adjust our accounts, so as to appear guiltless before the tribunal of Jesus Christ. Perhaps death may not come upon us for twenty or thirty years; but it may also come very soon, perhaps in a year or in a month. If any one had reason to fear that a trial should take place, on which his life depended, he certainly would not wait for the day of trial, but would as soon as possible employ an advocate to plead his cause. And what do we do? We know for certain that we must one day be judged, and that on the result of that judgment our eternal, not our temporal, life depends. We also know that that day may be very near at hand; and still we lose our time, and, instead of adjusting our accounts, we go on daily multiplying the crimes which will merit for us the sentence of eternal death.
12. If, then, we have hitherto employed our time in offending God, let us henceforth endeavour to bewail our misfortune for the remainder of our life, and say continually with the penitent King Ezechias: “I will recount to thee all my years in the bitterness of my soul” -Isa., xxxviii. 15. The Lord gives us the remaining days of life, that we may compensate the time that has been badly spent.” Whilst we have time, let us work good” -Galat., vi. 10. Let us not provoke the Lord to punish us by an unhappy death; and if, during the years that are past, we have been foolish, and have offended him, let us now attend to the Apostle exhorting us to be wise for the future, and to redeem the time we have lost.” See, therefore, brethren, now you walk circumspectly, not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil,... understanding 'g what is the will of God” -Epli., v. 15, 16, 17. “The days are evil”. According to St. Anselm, the meaning of' these words is, that the days of this life are evil, because in them we are exposed to a thousand temptations are evil; and dangers of eternal misery; and therefore, to escape perdition, all possible care is necessary. “What”, says St. Augustine, “is meant by redeeming the time, unless, when necessary, to submit to temporal loss in order to gain eternal goods?” -de hom. 50, hom. 1. We should live only to fulfil with all diligence the divine will; and, should it be necessary, it is better to suffer in temporal things, than to neglect our eternal interests. Oh! how well did St. Paul redeem the time which he had lost! St. Jerome says, that though the last of the apostles, he was, on account of his great labours, the first in merits.” Paul, the last in order, but the first in merits, because he laboured more than all”. Let us consider that, in each moment, we may lay up greater treasures of eternal goods. If the possession of all the land round which you could walk, or of all the money which you could count in a day, were promised you, would you lose time? or would you not instantly begin to walk over the ground, or to reckon the money? You now have it in your power to acquire, in each moment, eternal treasures; and will you, notwithstanding, mispend your time? Do not say, that what you can do to-day, you can also do to-morrow; because this day shall then be lost to you, and shall never return. You have this day; but perhaps to-morrow will not be given you.

Several other sermons of Saint Alphonsus are available on line from the Transalpine Redemptorists.


Crucifix Painted By Saint Alphonsus

Chris Gillibrand tells us that Saint Alphonsus himself painted this crucifixion image.


Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

August 1st was the date of his death, and is his feast in the ordinary mode of the Latin Rite. In the extraordinary mode, his feast is August 2nd, presumably to avoid conflict with that of Saint Peter Ad Vincula.
His biography from the Catholic Encyclopedia

There is an excellent short biography (20 pages, lavishly illustrated) by Brother Matthew, MICM, of Saint Alphonsus in a 1998 back issue of From the Housetops that I currently have. It can be ordered here.

I cannot personally recommend his The Glories of Mary highly enough. It is not just a book that every Catholic should own, but one that every Catholic should study and take to heart.

A selection of his spiritual writings, and those of other Redemporists, is available on the website of the Papastronsay Transalpine Redemporists.

I highly recommend his Visits To the Blessed Sacrament, as well.

His method for making the Stations of the Cross is the very best and most timeless ever. I speak as one who grew up with the ever-so-au-courant version with pictures of little kids burned by napalm in Vietnam and other images of the 1960s rather than with genuine Catholic tradition. The best version of Saint Alphonsus' Stations, convenient for carrying with you into church for the devotion, is available from TAN for only $1.50.

Saint Alphonsus, who suffered terrible arthritic pain and a curvature of the spine that left his chin impressed onto his chest for the last years of his life, is the patron of those suffering from arthritis.


Requiescat In Pace

Back then, in their trademark Aran Islands sweaters. Tommy is on the right.

I was very sad to learn just now of the death of Irish/American singer and songwriter Tommy Makem, at the age of 74, after a bout with lung cancer. I have been privileged to hear Tommy perform more than once in concert with his sons Conor, Rory, and Shane, the Makem Brothers. I have been listening to Irish music, on and off, for almost 40 years, via Boston's WROL Saturday Irish Hit Parade. My parents were devoted listeners. And prominent among the selections on the playlist were The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. At one time or another, I have owned and loved all of his recordings with the Clancy Brothers from the early days, when Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers, along with the Chieftains, were putting Irish folk music on the cultural map. Tommy was from Armagh in the North, but had lived in New Hampshire these last few decades, so that the Boston area was essentially his new home-base. Of the Clancy Brothers themselves, only Liam is still with us. This is truly the passing of an era in Irish folk music. But his music will live on, as will his immortal soul, prayerfully in peace, I hope. Requiescat in pace. God rest his soul.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Gagne Comes To the Red Sox

It may just be for the rest of the season, since he becomes a free agent during the offseason, but the Red Sox acquired former Cy Young winner reliever Erik Gagne for Kason Gabbard and two prospects from the Rangers yesterday.

The move strengthens the already formidable Red Sox bullpen, where Papelbon and Okajima and the rest have combined for a 2.74 ERA. Papelbon has 23 saves, while Okajima has a very impressive 0.87 ERA and 18 holds. Gagne is 2-0 so far this season. He at one time realized an amazing 84 consecutive save opportunities.

The Sox lost last night, and now lead the Yankees by only 7 games. But keeping Gagne out of the Yankee bullpen, where Mariano Rivera has been asking publicly for help, is a very good thing.

I regret the loss of Gabbard, who was 4-0 with a very impressive ERA. But the Sox felt that with Schilling coming back into the rotation, and Lester replacing Tavarez, they are overstocked in good starting pitching (Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, and Lester make up the five-man rotation).

The only regret is that the Red Sox did not pick up some additional offense. Ortiz and Ramirez are having less than stellar years, and Lugo, Crisp, and Pena could be pinch-hit for by pitcher Josh Beckett without fear of losing offensive punch.


Lammas and Saint Peter Ad Vincula

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 start of the 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.

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!

While we are in agriculture mode, a rather rare thing for me, take a look at Mary Alexander's gardening tips.

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 Oulde Lammas Faire."

At the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle long ago
I met a pretty colleen who set me heart a-glow
She was smiling at her daddy buying lambs from Paddy Roe
At the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O!
Sure I seen her home that night
When the moon was shining bright
From the ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O!

At the ould Lammas Fair boys were you ever there
Were you ever at the Fair In Ballycastle-O?
Did you treat your Mary Ann
To some Dulse and Yellow Man
At the ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O!

In Flander's fields afar while resting from the War
We drank Bon Sante to the Flemish lassies O!
But the scene that haunts my memory is kissing Mary Ann
Her pouting lips all sticky from eating Yellow Man
As we passed the silver Margy and we strolled along the strand
From the ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O!

Repeat Chorus
There's a neat little cabin on the slopes of fair Knocklayde
It's lit by love and sunshine where the heather honey's made
With the bees ever humming and the children's joyous call
Resounds across the valley as the shadows fall
Sure I take my fiddle down and my Mary smiling there
Brings back a happy mem'ry of the Lammas Fair

Repeat Chorus

For your edification in things edible and Irish, Dulse is a dried seaweed eaten as a vegetable, and Yellowman is a kind of toffee.

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 in . 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 or near 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).

The largest Lammas Fair that continues to this day is the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.

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 was shocked to see trees near the Prudential Center in Boston starting to turn yellow two weeks ago! Despite signs of the approach of fall, it may still be hot now and then, especially in early August. The "Dog Days," which began July 25th or so, may hold sway until the middle of the month. But the cooler days will start to be noticed more, especially after the fifteenth of August. By mid-month the growing shortness of the days will be evident.

With regard to the "Dog Days," a reader last year very helpfully sent this in for our edification (thank you very much!):

2) These Transitus days give us an extra bonus for feasting days of saints we love. St. Swithin's Feast is July 2, but "St. Swithin's Day" is July 15, his Transitus; and it is on the latter date that the weather depends. In France the weather saint is St. Medard (June 8), and the farmers know that "Quand it pleut a la saint-Medard, it pleut pour quarante jours plus tard."

3) In the USA, July 3 marks the beginning of Dog Days, and if it rains on this day, you'll have plenty of rain for the forty-day period of Dog Days. Plus the usual phenomena of dogs getting irritable and snakes biting more frequently, with especially powerful venom. My grandmother used to keep a dish filled with water in the yard for the dogs during Dog Days.

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! And this past weekend (at the end of July!), I saw in a TJ Maxx/HomeGoods store a startling array of fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving decorative items. What, no Christmas decorations yet?

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. But when I am in the suburbs, or in more rural areas, gosh do my sinuses act up!

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.

Bread For Lammas

Since this is the day to celebrate first fruits of the wheat harvest, 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.

The liturgical readings at Mass at this time of year focus on grain, wheat, bread, and the harvest.

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 1 pound bread machine, which I use for most of my breads.

Rosemary Currant Focaccia Bread

3/4 cup water, warm
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped*
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tspns Fleischmann's Bread Machine Yeast
1/2 cup Sun-Maid Raisins or Currants

Measure carefully, adding ingredients to bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough/Manual cycle. Add raisins or currants at the raisin/nut cycle or 5 minutes before last kneading cycle ends.

Lightly grease a large cookie sheet, Flatten dough with hands or rolling pin into a 12-inch circle for 1 pound loaf on lightly floured surface, Place on cookie sheet. Cover top of bread with plastic wrap and place in a warm place 30 to 45 minutes or until dough has almost doubled. Using the handle of a wooden spoon or your fingertips, make indentations in top of dough.

Heat oven to 400 °F. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cut into wedges.

* 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves may be substituted for 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves.

Classic French Bread
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
Vegetable oil
1 white from large egg
1 tablespoon water

Add ¾ cup [1¼ cups] water, salt, bread flour, and yeast to bread machine pan in the order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough/manual cycle.

When cycle is complete, remove dough from machine to a lightly floured surface. If necessary, knead in enough flour to make dough easy to handle. Roll dough into a 15x10 inch rectangle. [For 1½ pound recipe, divide dough in half and roll each half into a 10x8 inch rectangle.]

Beginning at long end, roll up tightly as you do for a jelly roll. Pinch the seams and ends to seal. Taper ends by gently rolling back and forth. Place each loaf, seam side down, on a greased baking or cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Lightly brush each loaf with the vegetable oil. Cover and let rise in warm, draft-free place until almost doubled in size, about 10 to 15 minutes. With a sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about ¼ inch deep across the top of each loaf. Lightly beat egg white and 1 tablespoon water; brush some of the egg-white mixture over top of each loaf. This will give it the traditional 'shine' on the Classic French Bread(s). Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Brush again with remaining egg white mixture. Bake 5 tp 10 minutes more or until done--bread should sound hollow when tapped. (For even browning when baking two loaves, switch positions of sheets halfway through baking). Remove the bread(s) from the sheet(s); cool on wire rack.

Cycle: Use the dough/manual cycle.

Sweet Orange Bread

3/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Water (warm)
1 Large egg
2 tablespoons Orange juice concentrate
3 tablespoons Sugar
4 teaspoons Nonfat Dry milk
2 cups Bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Bread machine yeast

Add ingredients to the bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer, adding the Orange Juice Concentrate with the liquid. To measure 1/2 an egg, lightly beat egg before measuring; one-half egg is equivalent to 2 tablespoons. Adjust dough consistency -- (see Adjusting Dough Consistency tip below).

Recommended cycle: Basic/white bread cycle; light or medium/normal crust color setting, or as desired. Remove bread from pan, cool on wire-rack.

Tip: Checking Dough Consistency:
Check dough after 5 minutes mixing; if should form a soft, smooth ball around the blade. If dough is too stiff or dry, add additional liquid, 1 teaspoon at a time, until dough is of the right consistency. If dough is too soft of sticky, add additional bread flour, 1 teaspoon at a time.



Typical New England stone wall in late summer, Lexington, MA

Important feasts celebrated during August include:
1st St. Peter Ad Vincula (Lammas) and St. Alphonsus Liguori (formerly August 2nd)
4th St. John Vianney (formerly August 8th)
6th The Transfiguration
8th St. Dominic de Guzman (formerly August 4th)
9th St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
10th St. Lawrence
11th St. Clare of Assisi (formerly August 12th)
15th Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
16th St. Stephen of Hungary
18th St. Jane Frances de Chantal
19th St. John Eudes
20th St. Bernard
22th Queenship of Mary
23rd St. Rose of Lima (formerly August 30th)
24th St. Bartholomew
25th St. Louis of France
27th St. Monica
28th St. Augustine of Hippo
29th Martyrdom of John the Baptist

The monthly dedication for August is to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

August falls entirely within the Time After Pentecost. There are no embertides in August.

Since August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart, and the Feast of the Assumption (a holy day of obligation) falls on August 15th, it would be appropriate to make a novena to the Immaculate Heart beginning August 5th, and ending on the vigil of the Assumption:
Novena To the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Immaculate Heart of Mary, full of love for God and mankind,
and of compassion for sinners, I consecrate myself entirely to thee.
I entrust to thee the salvation of my soul. May my heart be ever
united with thine, so that I may hate sin, love God, and my
neighbor, and reach eternal life together with those whom I love.
Mediatrix of All Graces and Mother of Mercy, remember
the infinite treasure which thy Divine Son has merited by His
sufferings and which He has confided to thee for us, thy children.
Filled with confidence in thy motherly Heart, which I venerate
and love, I come to thee with my pressing needs.
Through the merits of thy loving Heart, and for the sake of
the Sacred Heart of Jesus, obtain for me the favor I ask:
[Mention your request.]

Dearest Mother, if what I ask for should not be according to
God's Will, pray that I may receive that which will be of greater
benefit to my soul. May I experience the kindness of thy
motherly Heart and the power of thine intercession with Jesus
during life and at the hour of my death.

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI's published prayer intentions for the month of August, 2007:

That all those who are going through moments of inner difficulty and trial may find in Christ the light and support which leads them to discover authentic happiness.

That the Church in China may bear witness to ever greater inner cohesion and may manifest her effective and visible communion with Peter's Successor.


The Portiuncola Indulgence

From The Confraternity of Penitents:

According to a legend, the existence of which can be traced back with certainty only to 1645, the little chapel of the Portiuncola was erected under Pope Liberius (352-66) by hermits from the Valley of Josaphat, who had brought thither relics from the grave of the Blessed Virgin. The same legend relates that the chapel passed into the possession of St. Benedict in 516. It was known as Our Lady of the Valley of Josaphat or of the Angels -- the latter title referring, according to some, to Our Lady's ascent into heaven accompanied by angels on the Solemnity of the Assumption. However, a better founded opinion attributes the name to the singing of angels which had been frequently heard there.

The Portiuncola today is a town and parish situated about three-quarters of a mile from Assisi. The town, numbering about 2000 inhabitants and officially known as Santa Maria degli Angeli, has grown up around the basilica of Our Lady of the Angels and the adjoining Franciscan monastery.

In the early 1200's, when St. Francis was repairing the small Portiuncola chapel, the basilica which now encloses the chapel was non-existent. The humble Portiuncola was surrounded by the dense woods which covered the plain of Assisi.


Francis, who had previously repaired the chapels of San Damiano and San Pietro della Spina, was enraptured by the Portiuncola, a nick name which means "the little portion." He loved its formal name--Santa Maria degli Angeli (Our Lady of the Angels), its poverty reflective in its nick name, its isolation and silence, and its proximity to the leper hospitals where he tended the pitiable residents.

On February 24, 2008, the Feast of St. Matthias, while hearing Mass at the Portiuncola, St. Francis of Assisi recognized his vocation in the day's Gospel. Preach the Gospel. Take nothing for the journey. Stay with those who are worthy in the towns you visit.

Francis made the Portiuncola the headquarters of his Order while refusing to accept ownership of it from the Benedictines. Francis settled on presenting the Benedictines a yearly rent of a basket of fish, thereby feeling comfortable about using the chapel and the huts the friars built around it.

On October 3, 1226, after blessing his friars and asking to be laid naked on the ground so as to come to the Father in utter destitution, Francis died at the Portiuncola after recommending the chapel to the faithful protection and care of his brethren.


The Portiuncola Indulgence is a special favor granted by the Pope to St. Francis at his request.

One night in 1216, Francis awoke and felt a strong impulse to enter the chapel of the Portiuncola and pray. While at prayer, Our Lord and Our Lady appeared to Francis and asked him what he desired. Thinking of others and recognizing his own sinfulness, Francis spoke. "0 God, although I m a great sinner, I beseech You to grant a full pardon of all sins to all who, having repented and confessed their sins, shall visit this church."

Our Lord answered, "Francis, you ask much, but you are worthy of greater things, and greater things you shall have."

The Lord granted the Indulgence and Pope Honorius III ratified it. Originally the Indulgence was attached only to the Porticuncola. However, subsequent Popes expanded the churches in which the Indulgence can be gained.


The Indulgence, if the person gaining it is free from every sin including venial sin, remits all the temporal punishment due to sin and may be applied to the person himself or herself or to a soul in Purgatory. If there is any adherence to sin in the person gaining the Indulgence, the Indulgence becomes partial.

The Indulgence may now be gained in any public or semi-public oratory in the world beginning from noon August 1 until midnight ending on August 2 (that is, any church or chapel open to the public). It cannot be gained in a private chapel. The person wishing to gain the Indulgence must fulfill the following requirements:

a. Intend to gain the Indulgence

b. Be detached from all sin

c. While in the church pray one Our Father, one Apostle's Creed, and one other prayer of the individual's choice

d. Pray for the intentions of the Pope (prayerfully saying an Our Father and a Hail Mary will suffice although other prayers may be said)

e. Receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist within one week either before or after August 2.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rupert Murdoch Now Owns the Wall Street Journal


Catholic Gift Wrap

Available here.
Found this over at The Shrine of the Holy Whapping.

And while we are on the subject of Catholic Goods, allow me to recommend the Gift Shop at the Saint Benedict Center at Still River, Ma. Heading off the "They're Fenneyites!" objections I know are coming, allow me to say that they host the indult Mass for the Worcester diocese at their lovely Immaculate Heart of Mary chapel. So, if they are good enough for the Bishop of Worcester, they are good enough for me. Their From the Housetops quarterly is chock full of solid Catholic writing and lovely illustrations. They are not sedevacantists as far as I can see, and they are very joyous in welcoming Pope Benedict's Summorum Pontificum.


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