Saturday, October 04, 2008

Saint Francis Of Assisi

Saint Francis is a great saint, if you can get past the syrupy nonsense people who claim to be devoted to him claim is his legacy. Aside from his personal holiness, and I doubt that many could take holiness to a higher level than Francis did, there is his founding of one of the most important orders in the history of Christendom 9actually, he founded three orders, and others have sprung up from that tradition and family of orders), his invention of the Christmas creche scene, his extension of the love of Christ to animals and all creation, and his being a stigmatist, his is also one of the most striking conversion stories in the history of the Church.
The Golden Legend

The Catholic Encyclopedia

Saint Francis took mortification of the flesh very seriously. When he found the desires of the flesh beginning to take hold, he used to roll around in thorn bushes, to drive them away. If only moderns did that, I doubt we would have heard anything of a pervert priest scandal these last 5 years.

There was no humbug about Saint Francis. He truly loved those in need, the poor, and all creation. Where friars since his time have grown fat and overfed, with far too much luxury for a mendicant order, he, who came from wealth, lived a life of real poverty. And where modern friars make a show of doing good works institutionally, but then drive the poor from their own door, Saint Francis adopted a radical love for others that involved genuine giving of himself.

Saint Francis entertained an abiding, even fierce desire to give his life for the Faith. He made several efforts to go to Moslem lands, so that he would be martyred. But obstacles prevented his first efforts. But he persisted. When he finally made it to Moslem-controlled territory, the local emir or pasha listened politely to him, discoursed with him, and then sent him back to Italy. Later, when some seven of his followers were martyred by the Moslems, he exclaimed, "Now I have seven true friars minor!". Thwarted in his own effort to die for the Faith, he recklessly undertook dramatic penances, and did things like embracing lepers.

The stigmata he received, like that of Saint Padre Pio, gave constant pain and discharge. Also like Pio, he had the gift of bilocation.

One thing most people don't know about Saint Francis is that he was never ordained a priest. He could never say Mass. All he could do was assist at Mass. Why wasn't he ordained? Was he illiterate? No. Too stupid to learn the Latin? No. He was too humble to take onto himself the role of the priest.

Put aside the phony "Prayer of Saint Francis" which he had nothing to do with, and was not even written until the 20th century, when it was "discovered" by an American bishop visiting Italy. Pray instead this prayer, truly the work of Saint Francis:

Hail Lady, Holy Queen, Holy Mary Mother of God,
Who art the Virgin made Church
And the One elect by the Most Holy Father of Heaven,
Whom He consecrated with His Most Holy beloved Son
And with the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete;
Thou in whom was and is all fullness of grace and every good.

Hail His Palace;
Hail His Tabernacle;
Hail His Home.

Hail His Vestment;
Hail His Handmaid;
Hail His Mother
And hail all thee holy virtues, which through the grace and illumination of the Holy Ghost are infused into the hearts of the faithful, so that from those unfaithful thou make them faithful to God.

Or this prayer, which he said before the Crucifix of San Damiano, when he was given his commission:

All-highest, glorious God, cast Thy light into the darkness of my heart. Give me true faith, firm hope, perfect charity and profound humility, with wisdom and perception, O Lord, so that I may do what is truly Thy holy Will.


Today Would Have Been My Father's 88th Birthday

He died December 31, 1989, at the age of 69.

O God, who hast commanded us to honor our father and our mother; in Thy mercy have pity on the souls of George my father and Kathryn my mother, and forgive them their trespasses; and make me to see them again in the joy of everlasting brightness. Through Christ our Lord.

V. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine,
R. Et lux perpetua luceat ei.
V. Requiescat in pace.
R. Amen.

“The Old Man”
The tears have all been shed now
We've said our last good-byes
His soul's been blessed and he's laid to rest
And it's now I feel alone.
He was more than just a father
My teacher, my best friend
He can still be heard in the tunes we shared
When I play them on my own.

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone memory lingers on
And I miss him ... The Old Man.

As a boy he'd take me walkin'
By mountian, field, and stream
And he showed me things not known to kings
Just secret between him and me.
Like the colors of a pheasant
As he rises in the dawn
And how to fish and make a wish
Beside the holly tree

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone memory lingers on
And I miss him ... The Old Man.

I thought he'd live forever
He seemed so big and strong
But the minutes fly and the years roll by
For a father and his son
And suddenly when it happened
There was so much left unsaid
No second chance to tell him thanks
For everything he'd done

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone memories linger on
God, I miss him ... The Old Man.


Our Blessed Lady's Saturday

As the month of October is dedicated by Holy Mother the Church to Our Lady's Holy Rosary, the October installments of Our Blessed Lady's Saturday are dedicated likewise.

In October
by G.K. Chesterton

Where are they gone that did delight in honour
Abrupt and absolute as an epic ends,
What light of the Last Things, like death at morning,
Crowns the true lovers and the tragic friends?

Young priests with eager faces bright as eagles,
Poor scholars of the harp-string, strict and strong,
All the huge thirst of things irrevocable
And all the intolerant innocence that died young.

The dark largesse of the last gesture flinging
The glove in challenge or gold in sacrifice-----
Where are they gone that had delight in honour,
That the world grows so greedy and so wise?

Vow and averted head and high refusal
Clean as the chasm where the dawn burns white,
Where shall they go that have delight in honour
When all men honour nothing but delight?

Out of the infinite came Finality,
Freedom that makes unfathomably sure,
For only a wind of all the widest windows
Can close with such a clang that iron door:

The doors that cannot shut shall never open
Nor men make windows when they make not walls,
Though emptiness extend its endless prison
In the white nightmare of its lengthening halls.

Shall they not rise and seek beyond the mountains
That which unsays not and is not forsworn?
Where should they wander and in what other Eden
Find the lost happiness of the hope forlorn,

Look in what other face for understanding,
But hers who bore the Child that brought the Sword,
Hang in what other house, trophy and tribute,
The broken heart and the unbroken word?

This month of luminous and golden ruin
Lit long ago the galleys and the guns.
Here is there nothing but such loitering rhyme
As down the blank of barren paper runs,
As I write now, O Lady of Last Assurance,
Light in the laurels, sunrise of the dead,
Wind of the ships and lightning of Lepanto,
In honour of Thee, to whom all honour is fled.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Game Two Tonight

Dice-K takes the mound, and Red Sox Nation hopes that this enigmatic fellow pitches a whale of a ballgame (and not limp curveballs that look as fat as whales to Angel batters) and that the Sox offense produces a lot of runs for him, and that the bullpen comes through to win tonight.

Go Dice-K!!!

Go Red Sox!!!!!



Saint Therese of Lisieux

For those who follow the 1970 Ordo, her feast was two days ago. But her feast in the traditional Ordo is today.


O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love.

O my God! I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity.



Friday At the Foot Of the Cross


Eternal Son of the living God, Whom I here acknowledge really present!
I adore Thee with all the powers of my soul.
Prostrate with the Angels in the most profound reverence, I love Thee,
O my Savior, Whom I now behold on the throne of Thy love.
O dread Majesty, O infinite Mercy! Save me, forgive me!
Grant that I may never more be separate from Thee.

St. Basil


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Sox Take Early Lead

The Sox, in my opinion rather unexpectedly, jumped out on top of the ALDS series with the Angels with a 4-1 win early this morning. Lester was brilliant. Bay hit the winning homer. Dice-K is next up, and may he do as well as Lester, or better.




Our Angel Guardians

OK, no mention of the Guardian Angels would be complete without Hansel and Gretel, the image in a million homes and instantly familiar to almost all Christians. Now we move past this chestnut to other, better traditional images of our Guardian Angels at work.

I have often thought, though it is utterly inadequate, and probably impossible, that I would love to sit down with my Guardian Angel, and chat about things over a cigar and a glass or two of Drambuie, and a darned fine steak. A meaningless impulse, since Angels probably do not consume things like that. But, one born of gratitude and love, nevertheless.

One notion about Angels that I am pretty sure we need to dispel is that Angels are the souls of people who have died, gone to Heaven, and "earned their wings." Frank Capra, God love him, really planted that one firmly in the American psyche in It's A Wonderful Life. But it is wrong. Angels are a separate order of creation. People do not become Angels. They can become Saints. Not Angels. Angels never were people living on earth. Saints were. Therefore, we ask for the intercession of "All the Angels and Saints." We are praying for the prayerful assistance of two different and non-overlapping groups.

People who thrive off popular culture over the last 20 years or so have gone absolutely ga-ga over Angels. Most of what we see about them is sickly-sweet and sentimental in the extreme. And even in these very traditional Catholic images of Guardian Angels, the people they are guarding are always depicted as children. Why are there no good traditional depictions of Guardian Angels watching over adults? My own upbringing did not emphasize the presence of our Guardian Angels. But I have felt the presence of mine strongly as an adult, and never more than in the last 5 years.

The powers of our Guardian Angels are impossible for us to fathom. They work in numerous ways. I know I have benefited from my Guardian Angel's power to delay me with something that annoys me, but delays me just enough to keep me from some catastrophe, like a wild car wreak.

The number of ways in which my own Guardian Angel watches out for me is incomprehensible. He must be working non-stop, and working not just in my vicinity and on what I am concentrating on at the moment, but in numerous vicinities and numerous spheres of my existence simultaneously. The power of the Guardian Angel to protect me in so many ways all the time is, while awesome to me, just a pale shadow of the power of God.

In a family, the various Guardian Angels of the household must cooperate with each other in interesting ways. They must be very sad when families break up.

We, each of us, owe our Guardian Angel thanks in so many ways, we can never adequately express it. Our Guardian Angel has done more for us than even our earthly parents. And, unlike our earthly parents, our Guardian Angel is always there until the moment we die, and probably still protecting us in Purgatory. Thank you, Guardian Angel. I love you.

Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
To whom God's love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and to guard, to rule and to guide.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Red Sox Second Season Begins Tonight

The Red Sox face off against the Los Angeles Angels, who possess the best record in baseball, tonight at the ungodly hour of 10:30 pm in LA LA Land, in Game One of the AL Division Series.

Everything favors the Angels, I must admit. The Sox stumbled across the finish line, and are plagued with injuries to key starters (Lowell, Drew, Beckett), and the first two games (and the fifth, if necessary) are on the Left Coast.

Still, the playoffs are a different thing from the regular season, and this Red Sox team has had much better fortune in October than the Angels have had. Remember last year's
World Series, when it looked like the Colorado Rockies were unstoppable, having mowed through the NL competition in record time? Who thought that the Sox would not just prevail, but crush them in 4 straight?

GO RED SOX!!!!!!!!!




Important feasts observed during the month of October include:

2nd Guardian Angels
3rd St. Theresa of Lisieux
4th St. Francis of Assisi
8th St. Bridget of Sweden
7th Our Lady of the Rosary (Lepanto)
9th St. Denis
11th Bl. Pope John XXIII
12th St. Wilfred of York
13th St. Edward the Confessor
15th St. Terese of Avila
16th St. Gall and St. Gerard Majella
17th St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
18th St. Luke the Evangelist
19th North American Martyrs
20th St. John Cantius
21st St. Gaspare de Bufalo and St. Ursula and Companions
22nd St. Mary Salome
23rd St. John of Capistrano
25th Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, and SS. Crispin and Crispinian
28th St. Jude and St. Simon
31st All Hallow's Eve (Halloween)

The month of October is dedicated by Holy Mother the Church to the Holy Rosary and Our Blessed Lady of the Rosary.

The entire month of October is within the Season After Pentecost, or "Ordinary Time". There are no embertides in October.

Popular novenas during the month of October include the Novena to Saint Jude.

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI's published prayer intentions for the month of October, 2008 are:

That the Synod of Bishops may help bishops and theologians as well as catechists and pastoral workers engaged in the service of the Word of God transmit with courage the truth of the faith in communion with the entire Church.

That in this month dedicated to the missions, through the promotional activities of the Pontifical Missionary Works and other organisms, the Christian may feel the need to participate in the Church’s universal mission with prayer, sacrifice and concrete help.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Concord Grapes

Admission time. I have lived in Greater Boston all of my 44 years. And I have spent a lot of time, both as an amateur historian, and as a re-enactor in Concord. But until yesterday, I had never eaten fresh Concord Grapes. You don't normally see them in the supermarket, even here, practically in the neighborhood in which they were first cultivated.

Oh my gosh, are they good. There was a farmers' market in Boston yesterday, and I blundered across it. The scent of the Concord Grapes from a few yards away drew me in. And before you could say "Jack Robinson," I was handing over $3.50 for a pint of the succulent orbs.

I see that they are extraordinarily healthy, and loaded with antioxidants.

But much more important, they smell and taste terrific, without question the best grapes I have ever eaten.

Of course, it took some getting used to. Apparently, only the outer layer is edible. There is a sack with seeds inside, and this seems like it can only be spit out. Most grapes you can eat the whole thing, minus seeds. I wonder if these were fully ripe. But how could they be otherwise, as the skin was practically bursting off of them?

Now, if I ever get to build my Fitzpemberly estate (not very likely, but I can dream, can't I?), I want an arbor or two covered with Concord Grape vines.

I have conditioned myself to think of pumpkins, apples, squash, corn, cranberries, and so on in the fall. In fact, I went to the farmers' market in search of fresh apple cider which was not to be had at all. But now I have to add Concord Grapes to the list of New England's eagerly anticipated Fall treasures.


Saint Jerome

The Golden Legend

The Catholic Encylopedia

A familiar image to old readers, once a banner image here at Recta Ratio


Monday, September 29, 2008

The Friars At Arch Street Are Too "Gay-Friendly"

Friday's Boston Globe had news that a Boston man who served as a lector (and held other responsible positions at the Shrine) was removed from leadership because he is the author of gay porn, along with his gay partner.

Apparently people in the know there have known for some time that he is involved in this. Several of the friars were interviewed for the latest book. And he was allowed to continue as a lector.

And only now is he removed from any authority.

This sort of thing is endemic at Arch Street, where heterodoxy, lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament, and lack of respect for the rubrics of liturgy, as well as a refusal to maintain an orderly environment for prayer and adoration abound. The place needs a thorough cleaning out, like the Augean Stables.

The whole problem of the friars' approach to homosexuality can be summarized thus: they are too busy accepting homosexual people as they are and advancing their interests as homosexuals to try to bring them to conversion, to call to them to live chastely, to lead them away from identifying themselves as homosexuals, and to bring them back into the real mainstream. In other words, they are affirming them in their "OK-ness," but not telling them that their sexual orientation is essentially and fundamentally perverted, and trying to lead them back from it to full life in Christ. They accept the sinner, but accept the sin, too. Too much DIGNITY, and not enough COURAGE.

Boston needs to have a ministry that does much of St. Anthony's Shrine does. Early morning Mass, as well as nearly round the clock confessions, combined with health care and other social services are vital to the Downtown Crossing area. But I am not sure that this particular group of friars ought to be running it.

Maybe a large-scale reposting of Franciscan personnel is enough. But that just spreads the sickness around to other Franciscan institutions. Just maybe, the Archdiocese ought to look into an order that is less over-tolerant, and more faithful to basic Catholic doctrine as new administrators of Saint Anthony's Shrine and its social services.


Michaelmas 2008

Today is Michaelmas, the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels.

Saint Michael, perhaps the greatest of the Archangels, is the protector of the Church.

Michaelmas was a quarterly rent day in England and Ireland. It is the start of the university term at both Oxford and Cambridge. Presents and feasts featuring geese were very much the custom at this time of year.
Check here and here for Michaelmas customs.

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio, contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute, in infernum detrude.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
Defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the
Wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him,
We humbly pray.
And do thou,
O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
By the Divine Power,
Thrust into Hell
Satan and all the other evil spirits
which prowl about the world,
Seeking the ruin of souls.

St. Michael protecting a newly deceased soul from the clutches of demons lurking by the deathbed.

Saint Michael also has another important duty. He is the principal usher of newly deceased souls to heaven. Medieval Books of Hours, as part of the Office of the Dead, often included a deathbed scene, where the soul of the just-departed leaves the body, and St. Michael has to fight off various demons who try to snatch the soul and carry it off to Hell. St. Michael is, therefore, one of the saints whose intercession is customarily invoked for a happy death, along with Our Blessed Lady, St. Joseph, and St. Peter.

And of course, St. Michael is believed to be the one who will measure the worthiness of souls at the Last Judgment, as seen in this detail from Memling's Last Judgment triptych.

Here is a site with prayers to Saint Michael, including the variations of the basic prayer above.


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