Saturday, February 26, 2005

Friday, February 25, 2005

Prayers for the Pope...

A nice BBC slideshow showing Catholics throughout the world praying for the Pope.

Vatican: No More Updates Until Monday

The latest statement from the Vatican indicates that we're unlikely to hear anything more until Monday.

Oremus pro Pontifice nostro!

In the News...

This is one of the more bizarre things I've read of late - a moustache bonus for Indian policemen:
Mr Jain hit upon the idea of a 37 pence per month moustache allowance after a seminar attended by district policemen and local residents. There were a few constables with moustaches in the gathering and he noticed people looking at them with awe and reverence.
This led him to encourage his force to grow moustaches that are an integral part of India's folklore, closely associated with respect, honour and above all masculinity.
But police officials said they were keeping an eye on the shape and size of the moustaches. Only "proper" moustaches were encouraged, ones that twirled rakishly along the upper lip.
Handlebar moustaches were permitted, but only if they did not look overly menacing or challenging.
Policemen were discouraged from growing moustaches sported by villains in Bollywood films. The characters are often portrayed stroking their whiskers malevolently whilst torturing their victims or eyeing up women.
In the Times we read of an enterprising English schoolboy who made his own napalm and brought it to chemistry class. Happily, he seems to have gotten away with a ticking-off.

Mysterium Lunae

Don Jim Tucker links to some resources on the crescent moon as symbol of Islam.
The crescent moon is also associated with Our Lady - sometimes she is shown standing atop a crescent moon, but I've also seen a crescent used on its own as her symbol. This page gives a brief overview of the meaning of the crescent in the Christian context:
Patristic times saw in the symbol of the moon, or the "mysterium lunae", i.e. the three phases of the moon: dying (waning), generating (waxing) and giving birth (full moon) a valid representation of the Church (ecclesia). Ecclesia is virginal and"dying" in the encounter with Christ, the bridegroom; she is maternal and lifegiving in her spousal relation with the redeemer, and resplendent in her grace-filled existence.
John the Baptist is sometimes connected with the waning moon (Baptistry of Östr Hoby, Sweden, 12c) to explicate his role as the last prophet of the waning Old Testament which is regarded, simultaneously, as a promise of the New Testament. The moon contrasts here the sun as symbol of fulfillment, in other words, the New Testament, more specifically Jesus Christ himself, the sol invictus. The same contrast is used to signify ecclesia and synagoga. The latter is identified with the symbol of the waning moon.
Mary as the God-bearer is identified with ecclesia. She is standing on the waning moon which points out that the Old Testament and synagoga are the foundations of the Church. No doubt that we have here also the idea of victory of ecclesia over synagoga. The motif of the luna is very old (~820, MS 99 Paris, Valenciennes) and is not used in the beginning as an attribute of Mary but of the Church. It is only in the 14/15c that a lateral transfer takes place, meaning Mary occupies now in iconography the place of the Church and inherits some of its attributes. The Katharinenthal Gradual of 1312 shows an image of transition, where the same feminine figure contains or bears the attributes of the Church, Mary and the Apocalyptic Woman. The figure stands on a personalized half moon. It is true that the visual elements, half moon, stars, sun, are borrowed from Revelations 12,1. Early representations of Ecclesia (10-12c) show her as the apocalyptic woman with the dragon. The motif of the apocalyptic woman is applied in a variety of ways to Mary.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Invasion of Canada!

Praeterea censeo Canadam esse delendam - Considering this post on her 'blog, Lauren should enjoy this piece of military trivia.
Ireland was under the firm grip of the British in the 19th Century, and many Irish immigrated to America "to escape from under the boot of the oppressor." Some of the Irish-Americans joined together in 1858 in what was known as the Fenian Brotherhood.
The Fenians originally planned to aid a rebellion in Ireland itself, providing officers, men, and muskets. But the outbreak of the Civil War caused them to turn their attention to the rebel enemy of their adopted country. Fenians joined the many Irish regiments of the Union Army, serving with distinction and gaining valuable combat experience.
After the war ended in 1865 the Fenians decided to strike the hated British in Canada, or British North America as it was then known. The open border between the United States and Canada made clandestine transport to Ireland unnecessary. The U.S. territory would provide a base for invasion. And the U.S. government didn't seem to care that the Fenians wanted to invade Canada, any more than the British seemed to care that Confederates were launching raids from Canada into the U.S. during the Civil War. The Fenians intended to take over Canada and rename it "New Ireland." New Ireland, it was assumed, would then be used as a base to liberate old Ireland or as a bargaining chip for Eire.
Read it all!


Obviously the Pope deserves our special prayers again. The 'flu going around Rome this winter is no laughing matter - it seems to be sticking around for longer than usual and I've heard of healthy young men confined to hospital beds with a fever because of it, so the Pope's relapse is a worry.

On a lighter note, whilst looking for something else, I came across the story of a WWII female Russian fighter pilot - the White Rose:
[She] painted a white lily on either side of her aircraft. The Germans mistook the lily for a rose (understandable, as floral arrangement is usually the last thing on your mind when someone is trying to shoot you down) and she became known to the Luftwaffe as the White Rose of Stalingrad. Litvyak's love of flowers made her decide on the emblem. She would often pick wild flowers near the airfield before the mission and take them with her into the cockpit. An extremely aggressive pilot, Litvyak's confidence in her flying ability was often the deciding factor in her victories over the Germans, surprising them with her seemingly reckless manuevers and aerobatics.
It's part of a military oriented website called Buster's Baghdad. Here's an index of his Military Trivia pages - some fascinating stuff there.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Ad Deum qui laetificat...

It's not so much a case of ad orientem, but rather one of ad Aram Agrippinensis - there's an interesting initiative at, namely a Tridentine Rite pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne.
BTW... there's lots of World Youth Day tat available... including 100 Luftballons... (Why couldn't it be 99???)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Busy day...

... so I'll just post a photo or two...

Some Buddhist POD - the 'Sect of the Yellow Birettas' as the Corriere puts it.
One of the changes in Shanghai with the gradual wane of Communism is that pets are now permitted.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The 2nd Coolest Car Licence Plate in the World!

Okay... the coolest is the Pope's licence plate, SCV 1
Today, I saw the 2nd coolest - SMOM 1. Huzzah for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Esau and Isaac...

Lauren, over at the Cnytr 'blog posts about the story of Jacob and Esau which was one of the readings for last Sunday in the old breviary. It must have been part of the office in the Book of Common Prayer too, because Newman in the 2nd Sermon in the 6th Volume of Parochial and Plain Sermons preaches on the same text for the 2nd Sunday of Lent.
Lauren references St Augustine for an explaination of what Jacob was doing, but Newman prefers to reflect on the character of the unfortunate older brother Esau who becomes a type of those who neglect their religious duties because he rejected a Divine Blessing:
The mournful history then which I have been reviewing, is a description of one who was first profane and then presumptuous. Esau was profane in selling his birthright, he was presumptuous in claiming the blessing. Afterwards, indeed, he did repent, but when it was too late. And I fear such as Esau was of old time, such are too many Christians now. They despise God's blessings when they are young, and strong, and healthy; then, when they get old, or weak, or sick, they do not think of repenting, but they think they may take and enjoy the privileges of the Gospel as a matter of course, as if the sins of former years went for nothing. And then, perhaps, death comes upon them; and then after death, when it is too late, they would fain repent. Then they utter a great, bitter, and piercing cry to God; and when they see happy souls ascending towards heaven in the fulness of Gospel blessings, they say to their offended God, "Bless me, even me also, O my Father."
Is it not, I say, quite a common case for men and for women to neglect religion in their best days? They have been baptized, they have been taught their duty, they have been taught to pray, they know their Creed, their conscience has been enlightened, they have opportunity to come to Church. This is their birthright, the privileges of their birth of water and of the Spirit; but they sell it, as Esau did. They are tempted by Satan with some bribe of this world, and they give up their birthright in exchange for what is sure to perish, and to make them perish with it. Esau was tempted by the mess of pottage which he saw in Jacob's hands. Satan arrested the eyes of his lust, and he gazed on the pottage, as Eve gazed on the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve sold their birthright for the fruit of a tree—that was their bargain. Esau sold his for a mess of lentils—that was his. And men now-a-days often sell theirs, not indeed for any thing so simple as fruit or herbs, but for some evil gain or other, which at the time they think worth purchasing at any price; perhaps for the enjoyment of some particular sin, or more commonly for the indulgence of general carelessness and spiritual sloth, because they do not like a strict life, and have no heart for God's service. And thus they are profane persons, for they despise the great gift of God.
And then, when all is done and over, and their souls sold to Satan, they never seem to understand that they have parted with their birthright. They think that they stand just where they did, before they followed the world, the flesh, and the devil; they take for granted that when they choose to become more decent, or more religious, they have all their privileges just as before. Like Samson, they propose to go out as at other times before, and shake themselves. And like Esau, instead of repenting for the loss of the birthright, they come, as a matter of course, for the blessing. Esau went out to hunt for venison gaily, and promptly brought it to his father. His spirits were high, his voice was cheerful. It did not strike him that God was angry with him for what had past years ago. He thought he was as sure of the blessing as if he had not sold the birthright.
And then, alas! the truth flashed upon him; he uttered a great and bitter cry, when it was too late. It would have been well, had he uttered it before he came for the blessing, not after it. He repented when it was too late—it had been well if he had repented in time. So I say of persons who have in any way sinned. It is good for them not to forget that they have sinned. It is good that they should lament and deplore their past sins. Depend upon it, they will wail over them in the next world, if they wail not here. Which is better, to utter a bitter cry now or then?—then, when the blessing of eternal life is refused them by the just Judge at the last day, or now, in order that they may gain it? Let us be wise enough to have our agony in this world, not in the next. If we humble ourselves now, God will pardon us then. We cannot escape punishment, here or hereafter; we must take our choice, whether to suffer and mourn a little now, or much then.
Read the whole thing.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

CoE to pray for Camilla

To be quite honest, I'm not inclined to 'blog about the ridiculous situation regarding Prince Charles and his 'wife'-to-be. However, this article in the Times about the changes to the CoE prayers as a result of the marriage is interesting:
CHURCHGOERS are to be commanded by royal warrant to pray for Camilla Parker Bowles as part of regular Sunday services after her marriage to the Prince of Wales on April 8.
The Queen is planning to issue the warrant in formal recognition of her new daughter-in-law’s status as one of the most high-ranking members of the royal family.
At the moment, only the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Charles are individually remembered by the Church of England in state prayers during services of matins and evensong.
The new wording to be used in the prayers is expected to state: “Almighty God, the fountain of all goodness, we humbly beseech thee to bless Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Charles, Prince of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall.” There is a separate prayer for the Queen.
Know thy enemy
This article is also a fascinating, if chilling, read. It tells of an Iraqi insurgent sniper who taught himself his trade by playing computer games and watching films. He claims 29 kills - 9 Iraqis and 20 Americans. Read it all to find out what motivates him.
Of course, it's not difficult to understand why Muslim fundamentalists might consider the West to be Satanic when we read about the British Navy's new pro-homosexuality policies. Sickeningly, the Times also tells us that in Britain over 1,000 girls under the age of 15 abort their children annually.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Ceremonial Curiosities and Queer Sights in Foreign Churches

One of my favourite reads over at Project Canterbury is a 1938 book by an English clergyman called Edward J. G. Forse. Forse, to be quite frank, was a liturgical tourist and seems to have spent a huge amount of time tramping about the European continent recording various curiosities in the (mostly) Roman Catholic churches he came across. The book, grandly titled Ceremonial Curiosities and Queer Sights in Foreign Churches, Ecclesiological and other notes from the travel diaries of Edward J. G. Forse, M.A., F.R.G.S. is a treasure trove of charmingly snarky observations of liturgical irregularities and other curiosites. It's easy to imagine Forse running a 'blog were he around today. Take for instance his pontifications on the subject of altar candles:
Adrian Fortescue says cheerfully, "The High Altar of a church will normally have six larger candlesticks with candles" (Ceremonies of the Roman Rite, p. 7).

On July 17th, 1926, there were no candles at all on the High Altar, or any other altar, of the Cathedral of Huesca in Spain. On December 30th, 1913, there were no candles at all on the High Altar of the Cathedral of Chartres in France, but six fine candlesticks were arrayed, three north and three south of the altar, on the altar steps. At the famous Cathedral of Milan the High Altar is adorned with only two great lights, with a crucifix but no Tabernacle. At the noble church of San Petronio in Bologna you may find four candles on the High Altar, or you may find two: you will not find six. At the High Mass at the High Altar of Seville Cathedral on July 7th, 1912, there were only four lighted candles throughout the service. In the Cathedral of Huesca in Spain and in both the Cathedrals of Zaragoza you will find only two very small candles on any High Altar, and those set on the mensa at the extreme western edge. They are chained to the Table (as at S. Saviour's Cathedral in Southwark) and a lavabo towel is tied with tape to the Epistle Candle: but they are taken away directly after the Blessing and only replaced in time for the next Mass. But in both these dioceses the scarcity of candles is compensated for by the presence of a huge glazed circular recess, full of Sanctuary Lamps, high on the east wall above the altar: a thing I have found nowhere else in all Europe.
Less pedantically, he can also rise to the level of the anecdote:
Lengthy preachers, like myself, will appreciate this: on July 28th, 1907, I attended the 9 a.m. Mass in the Liebfraukirche at Zurich, ready to start for a long tramp as soon as it ended. A Capuchin in a brown habit mounted the pulpit and when the three ministers descended to the banc d'oeuvre, the celebrant sent the server to put out the six lights on the altar, presumably for economy's sake. After thirty minutes of the Capuchin, the celebrant sent the server back to light the six candles once more, presumably as a gentle hint. The Capuchin waited in a stony silence until the sixth was lighted, and then he gave us another twenty minutes more! When I hear how preferable to a cast-iron uniformity is "diversity in unity" I sometimes wonder if the speaker is really intending to praise the practices of the Roman Catholic Church on the continent of Europe!
I could quote dozens of fascinating pasages, but will confine myself to just one more:
At Monza, in April 1929, I was permitted a close scrutiny of the famous "Iron Crown of Lombardy," and saw also many personal relics (hair combs, etc.) of Queen Theodolinda and her contemporaries. I can still not understand the mentality which exhibits in the same room as these genuine antiques "the handbags which the Twelve Apostles carried about Galilee"; nor could I feel excited, in July 1924, when I was shown, in the "Camara Santa" of Oviedo Cathedral, "the actual sandal and purse of S. Peter."
Yet my sense of decency was no less shocked in the Tresor of Rouen Cathedral when I read upon a small box, "Chasse de Notre Dame: XIXe siecle: renferme seulement quelques parcelles des vetements de la Ste Vierge Marie."
But I was really angry on January 30th, 1909, when I copied from a poster in the porch of the Cathedral of S. Gudule at Brussels, the details of a diocesan pilgrimage to Aix-la-Chapelle, where the faithful were promised a view--not of the golden pulpit, and the relics of Charlemagne's Court, but of "the white tunic our Lady was wearing when Christ was born"; "the swaddling bands of our Lord as actually described in the Gospel"; "the loin-cloth worn by our Lord upon the Cross"; "the cloth on which S. John Baptist's head fell and in which his body was shrouded." The psychology of "The Adoration of Relics" must clearly include a chapter on "The Exploitation of the Public."

The Mayor of Monowi (Population 1)

There's a fascinating article in the Times addressing the issue of the depopulation of many towns in the rural US.
WHEN it comes to civic duty, few Americans can compete with Elsie Eiler. In Monowi, in northern Nebraska, she is the mayor, town clerk, town treasurer, town secretary, tavern keeper and chief librarian. When you are the sole resident of America’s smallest incorporated township — everybody else has either died or moved on — the competition for jobs is scarce.
Mrs Eiler, 71, whose husband died in 2001, halving Monowi’s population, runs the one business left in town, a low-slung roadside tavern. Last year she opened what has become the greatest source of pride for the town board — Mrs Eiler, that is — a tiny library, which was the dying wish of her husband, who was a farmer and an avid collector of books.
At its peak, in the 1930s, Monowi was a thriving town of 150. The local railroad, which ran from Norfolk, Nebraska, to Winner, South Dakota, brought farmers and their families. But mechanisation put small farmers out of business, the railway closed in 1971 and the town began to die. Three years ago the last resident apart from the Eilers, an elderly widow, moved away to live with her son.
Now Mrs Eiler is alone, dutifully carrying out administrative chores of Kafkaesque absurdity. She grants her own liquor licence and collects taxes from herself. Every year she must produce a municipal road plan to receive Monowi’s share of state transport funds and a budget to finance the town’s street lights — all four of them.
The Corriere della Sera reports that the Leaning Tower of Pisa has returned to the 'tilt' of 200 years ago thanks to corrective measures.
Lauren at the Cnytr 'blog commemorated Blessed Fra Angelico yesterday. One of my favourite places in Rome is the church of S.Maria sopra Minerva where Beato Angelico is buried. Occasionally one will find that little children have left their drawings near his tomb.
Finally, Enbrethiliel has a nice post on some very POD saints' names.


I was amazed to discover that my speech is 77% Dixie! That makes me more Southern than Don Jim Tucker. I guess the quiz doesn't work properly if one isn't American. ;)

Friday, February 18, 2005

Irish Royalty in Rome

A recent post over at the Shrine provoked quite a bit of debate regarding Gaelic Royalty and nobility. Interestingly, there are two sites in Rome with connections to men with claims on the title 'High King of Ireland.'
The better known of these sites is the Church of S.Pietro in Montorio which contains the 'Tombs of the Earls'. The story of the 'Flight of the Earls' is already told elsewhere on the internet - briefly, the Earls of Tyrone (O'Neill) and Tyrconnell (O'Donnell) and their retinues fled Ireland in 1607 following a failed uprising against the British Crown. They ended up in Rome and lived there in exile as pensioners of the Spanish Crown. Had the rebellion been sucessful, O'Neill would have had a strong claim on the throne of Ireland and the title of High King. (It's worth noting that the headship of the Irish Clans and petty kingdoms were not determined by primogeniture, but could be assigned by the clan to any of the deceased man's near male relatives. Nor was the High Kingship an inherited title - its award depended on the relative strenghts and alliances amongst the various smaller Kingdoms and did not necessarily pass to the son of the deceased king.)
The lesser known site of interest is that of San Stephano Rotondo, a fascinating 5th Century round church which seems to have been in a consant state of restoration since the 1950s. In the Battle of Clontarf (1014) the famous High King of Ireland Brian Boru of the Dal gCais dynasty defeated the Leinstermen who rebelled against him and shattered Danish power in the East of Ireland at the expense of his life. His son Donncadh (aka Donatus O'Brien) succeeded to the headship of the clan but was not as effective a ruler as his father. The High Kingship more or less immediately reverted back to the O'Neill Kings of Ulster and the influence of the Dal gCais dynasty declined. Defeated in battle by the King of Leinster in 1058, Donnacadh went on pilgrimage to Rome where he took the monastic habit in S. Stefano and died there in 1064. His tombstone on the left of the church is inaccesible due to restoration works.

More from the CoE Synod and more...

In the Telegraph:
The clergy are urged to bless low-energy light bulbs and recycling bins during services as part of the Church of England's efforts to improve its "green" credentials.
Other suggestions in a report debated by the Synod yesterday included parish environmental audits and the use of organic bread and wine for Holy Communion.
Russian scientists have invented a pill to help keep people drunk!
If you take a tablet you need less alcohol to stay drunk, they claim. Emil Chiabery, a co-founder of the company, told The Telegraph from his offices in Los Angeles: "I never drink and there's no personal story. But RU-21 Red prolongs drunkenness and enhances intoxication.''
New York City is seeking to protect its new slogan:
The city's authorities are seeking to trademark a new catchphrase - "The World's Second Home" - which they will use to promote business, culture and tourism.
However, the risks of complacency were highlighted in 2001 when New York lawyers attempting to trademark NYPD - acronym for the city's police department - found that it was already owned by a pizza restaurant in Florida.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

In the News...

The Telegraph comments on the prospect of women bishops in the Church of England and presents a report on the admission of women golfers to the course of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrew's.
The BBC are televising a reconstruction of a Roman Trial:
The man on trial was accused of murdering his father, Sextus Roscius, a wealthy landowner. Cicero, retained for the defence, was keen to make his reputation. His rhetorical point was that the alleged murderer had nothing to gain from the killing, while others did. The stakes were high on both sides: Erucius, the prosecutor, wanted to avoid being branded - literally - as a false accuser.
All this was regarded as first-class public entertainment by the crowds who swarmed around the forum in ancient Rome looking for the juiciest cases. They came for the oratory and, no doubt, to find out whether young Roscius, the defendant, would be found guilty: the penalty for parricide was to be flayed with a whip, sewn into a sack with a dog, monkey, cockerel and snake, and then thrown into the Tiber.
The Times has a salutary article about making sure that personal information is not left on one's hard-drive when one disposes of a computer:
A research team from Glamorgan University analysed 111 supposedly clean hard drives, bought for less than £1,000, and found that more than half still contained personal information. This included national insurance numbers, evidence of a married woman’s affair and detailed biographical information about children.
Ninety-seven of the hard drives were bought on eBay and four at car boot sales. As a control experiment, ten drives were also sourced from LCS Remploy, a company specialising in the destruction of data. All proved to be clean.
The original owners of the other 101 drives included universities, multinational companies and a Church of England primary school in East Yorkshire, all of which were breaking the Data Protection Act by failing to dispose of the information effectively.
Andrew Blyth, the head of the research team, said that they had found more than enough compromising information to blackmail several individuals even though they had looked only at a small proportion of the recovered data.

And finally, a baby hippo!


Ever have trouble understanding Chrsitianity? Thankfully we have pages like this where science, philosophy and religion are combined to explain that (so far as I can understand it) Original Sin is some kind of skin disease:

There once were two people, we call them Adam and Eve. They were both healthy with one exception: Once every month they got a pimple (symbolic example) which then again disappeared. One day they said: God (the eternal structure) sends us a pimple every moth. We are not willing to bare this sacrifice any longer, we will create our own God (own structure). And they successfully used a herb to heal the pimple, with the result that the next generation got a pimple twice a month, or two pimples once a month (A new pimple plus the inherited pimple from the previous generation. The sum remains constant only shifted in time!) (Where does the pimple remain in the meantime? Answer: It stays with his brother, i.e. in the Third World in the case of western civilization). The next generation used more herbs, and so on. With time, the "original sin" has multiplied to become what consists of our modern suffering and diseases along with all the medical countermeasures.

The rest of the page is just as interesting... :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

In the News...

A correspondant informs me that the CoE has finally lost the plot (again!):
The Church of England is to grant partners of homosexual clergy who have registered under the Government's new civil partnership scheme the same pension rights as clergy spouses.
The disclosure, made at the General Synod last night, could prove an embarrassment to the bishops because sexually active homosexuals are theoretically barred from the priesthood.

Here in Italy, Berlusconi is trying to soften his image by putting an aging Spaghetti Western 'Star' on his staff.
Kenya's president is having one of those days:
President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya is said to have taken to his bed in despair, finding solace, according to a cabinet colleague, "only in the works of P G Wodehouse".
His choice of author is telling. Mr Kibaki's two wives, when not bickering with each other, dictate the president's schedule and often lock out those who might offer him wiser counsel. Their resemblance to many a Wodehouse aunt may strike a chord with the increasingly doddery septuagenarian leader.
Even those of us without two wives can sympathise!
Finally, the Corriere della Sera prints my picture!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Blog break...

I'm fleeing the Eternal City for some R&R... don't expect any updates until late next week...

In the news...
Red roses are on the banned list in Saudi Arabia.
There's an article in the Telegraph about the 'New Ten Commandments'. There's also a report on the only Muslim chaplain with the American Army in Iraq.
The Times has this amazing story of a abortion surviver:
A BABY survived at least three attempts to abort it from the womb and was born alive at 24 weeks old.
The boy was delivered in hospital after his 24- year-old mother changed her mind about wanting the child after feeling it move on the way home from an abortion clinic.
Although the clinic had told her an ultrasound scan had confirmed the child was dead, she went into labour that afternoon and the boy was born alive.
Now two years old and healthy, he is the first long-term abortion survivor to have been born so prematurely. His remarkable entrance into the world is documented in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Devil on a Giant Tandem...

What more need be said?

In the News...

The Telegraph reports that mafia crime is still a problem in Naples:
Comparisons between Naples and the Wild West were never so apt as yesterday after a bloody shoot-out between two mafiosi that left both men dead in a busy street.
In an initial blaze of gunfire, one man, Giovanni Magrelli, 44, was killed, while the other, Raffaele Di Lorenzo, 45, lay wounded on the ground.
At this point, however, police claim that the murdered man's 14-year-old son, Costantino, took the gun from his dead father's hand, went over to his injured foe and shot him in the head.

In Cuba, Castro's doctors claim that he could live to see 120:
Eugenio Selman-Housein, the senior doctor in charge of President Castro's medical team, dismissed recent concerns for the 78-year-old Cuban leader's health.
He said: "Fidel fulfils all the necessary requirements in that he eats well and walks four kilometres five days a week, even after the operation on his knee. He could perfectly well live until 120 years old.

Faith News in the Times...

A corrspondant sends me a link to the Faith News section of the Times. On the first page we learn that 'An American internet clothing store has withdrawn a line of women’s underwear featuring images of Hindu gods, after complaints'. The second page includes a Brazilian Bishop who is under fire for taking part in a Carnival and also this charming tale:
A woman in Stockport has persuaded her vicar to allow her dog to be her bridesmaid. Sonia Wilde said that the Rev Brian Statham, Vicar of St Matthew’s Church in Edgeley, was shocked when she first proposed the idea. “You should have seen his face,” she said. “He said he’d never had a request like it in 26 years.” Miss Wilde is designing her pet Lucy’s dress for the wedding in October. “I can’t think of anybody else I would rather have as bridesmaid. Lucy’s my best friend and you want the people you love by your side on the big day.”
I shall refrain from the very obvious wisecrack concerning bridesmaids and dogs. :I

Friday, February 11, 2005


From the Telegraph:
The German post office has displayed its adherence to the rulebook by delivering a card addressed "Adolf Hitler, Reichstag" to the current seat of government in Berlin.
The handwritten postcard began "Dear Führer Hitler" and was signed by a "Herr T".
Dated Jan 26, but with an indecipherable postmark, it read: "I love and like you so much. I am your very best good friend and your SS personnel.
"Thank you so much for coming to see me in your splendid image last night... you have my life... and all my money."
The postcard concluded with a copy of an encyclopaedia entry on the "Legend of the Welsh Lovespoon".

This picture from the Corriere della Sera demonstates the proper use of the thurible.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Crackdown on Baggy Trousers in Virginia...

From the Telegraph:
The fashion for wearing low trousers that reveal underwear could be made illegal in Virginia despite claims that such a law is unconstitutional and even racist.
Virginians who display their below-waist underwear in a "lewd or indecent manner" could now be fined £28.
Anything to do with you Lauren?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

To Keep a True Lent

One of the upsides of the liturgical reform is that poems like this made it into the Breviary:
Is this a Fast, to keep
The larder lean,
And clean,
From fat of veals and sheep?
Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
To fill
The platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an hour,
Or rag'd to go
Or show
A downcast look or sour?
No; 'tis a Fast to dole
Thy sheaf or wheat
And meat,
Unto the hungry soul.
It is to fast from strife.
From old debate,
And hate;
To circumcise thy life.
To show a heart grief-rent,
To starve thy sin,
Not bin;
And that's to keep thy Lent.
— Robert Herrick

I have better things to do, but...

... I'm going to post some stuff I found anyway...
In the Telegraph we read about the army pilot who delivered pizza in his helicoptor:
An army pilot has been reprimanded after he used his helicopter to deliver a pizza to his girlfriend.
The lieutenant decided to make the romantic gesture when he realised that a routine flight would take him over where the woman, a cadet at Sandhurst, was involved in military manoeuvres.
But the 25-year-old pilot inadvertently landed the £3 million Lynx helicopter near Sandhurst's commandant, Major General Andrew Ritchie, who was conducting a surprise field inspection.
Mmmmm... Pizza... Just the thing to think about to make a day of fasting a real penance...
Here's an interesting tale of romance from the days of the English Civil War.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Evangelization Continues!

This picture from the Corriere della Sera shows the bemusement of a Japanese crowd on the arrival of a group of Dominican missionaries.
Here's a slightly unusual shot of St Peter's by night.

Some more random facts...

The book (Handbook to Christian and Ecclesiastical Rome by Tuker and Malleson, London, 1900) where I found most of the information about seminarians' soutanes also has lots of other pieces of random Catholic trivia, much of it to do with the various religious orders with a presence in Rome. Obviously, much of what was written in 1900 is now obsolete, but interesting none the less.
Carthusian Nuns
Theses nuns still retained the 'Consecration' which occured 4 years after profession and was related to the ancient Christian rite of institution of deaconesses. The Catholic Encylopedia seems to confirm this.
The recipient presented herself 'in the white Carthusian habit and scapular and a white veil which is exchanged in the ceremony for a black one. She receives the gold diadem and the gold ring of the Consecrated Virgin, and the stole and the maniple of the deacon. The maniple is worn on the right arm. The rite begins with the Veni Creator, and litany of the saints, and terminates with the Te Deum. The nun chants the gospel of the Mass vested with the stole. At the daily conventual mass one of the consecrated nuns still chants the Epistle, and in the absense of a priest, she still reads the Gospel at Matins, vested with the stole.
Among Cistercian privileges is that of celebrating mass with closed doors in time of interdict, granted by Eugenius III, who was himself a Cistercian monk and a pupil of S.Bernard's.
Edited to add
Great minds... Incredibly, Fr Tucker of Dappled Things posted about the Cistercian nuns just a few hours before me.

Monday, February 07, 2005

St Cyril of Jerusalem and Communion in the Hand...

Welcome to all those surfing over from Fr Ethan's 'blog. I see that he's raised the question of communion in the hand and communion on the tongue.
Personally, I prefer that Holy Communion be received on the tongue; however given that reception in the hand is such a widespread practice and that it is not alien to the Catholic Tradition I don't see it as prudent or desirable to suppress it. A respected Sacramental Theologian (not a liturgust!) here in Rome however suggests that the faithful be well cathechised about how to respectfully receive in the hand or on the tongue. He insists that a parish which announces exactly how to respectfully receive Holy Communion weekly for a period of three of four weeks will see a much greater respect for the Body of Christ. With regard to reception in the hand, one could do a lot worse than look at the Cathechesis given by St Cyril of Jerusalem to newly baptised Christians of the 4th Century:
In approaching therefore, come not with thy wrists extended, or thy fingers spread; but make thy left hand a throne for the right, as for that which is to receive a King. And having hollowed thy palm, receive the Body of Christ, saying over it, Amen. So then after having carefully hallowed thine eyes by the touch of the Holy Body, partake of it; giving heed lest thou lose any portion thereof; for whatever thou losest, is evidently a loss to thee as it were from one of thine own members. For tell me, if any one gave thee grains of gold, wouldest thou not hold them with all carefulness, being on thy guard against losing any of them, and suffering loss? Wilt thou not then much
more carefully keep watch, that not a crumb fall from thee of what is more precious than gold and precious stones?
- Catechetical Lecture 12

A Lost Feature of Ecclesiastical Rome

Jane over at Alle Psalite congratulates a seminarian friend on receiving the ministry of lector and in the comments box I note that the pictures from the ceremony show that the North American College still retain their 'college soutane' for service at important ceremonies.
Let me explain - currently in Rome the normal black priest's cassock (or soutane) is the seminarian's most formal outfit. Whilst it is everyday dress for some of the congretations, in general the diocesan seminaries in Rome reserve the cassock for altar service or attendance at certain lituriges and for formal occasions. Depending on the stage of formation and the custom of the particular seminary the every-day dress of the seminarian is either the Roman collar or lay-clothes. The Roman diocesan regulations specify that clerical dress is only required of seminarians after they have gone through the ceremony of 'Admisssion to Candidacy' which normally occurs a few months before dicaconate ordination. An exception to this is the practise of the North American College which insists that all its seminarians go through 'Admission to Candidacy' before they arrive in Rome to begin their theological studies. This, it seems, is a throwback to the now-defunct Italian practice of performing 'Admission to Candidacy' early in seminary formation becuase this exempted Italian seminarians from compulsory military service.
However, until the 1970s, the cassock was not the formal wear of the seminarian, but his everyday uniform and unlike today, most of the older Roman Colleges had their own distinctive style of cassock. Now, alas, it seems that only the Scottish, the students at Propaganda Fide and (on special ceremonial occasions) Americans retain the older dress. Consulting the 1900 Handbook to Christian and Ecclesiatical Rome by Tuker and Malleson and an old edition of Georgina Masson's classic Companion Guide to Rome we find the following descriptions of the seminarian dress of yore:
Seminary of the Diocese of Rome Purple Cassock and soprana with pendant strings and no sash.
Pontificio Provincale Pio Black cassock, violet sash, a full cloak
Vatican Seminary Dark purple cassock with cromson bindings and buttons, one crimson string decorated with the papal arms, buckle shoes
Capranica College Black cassock, black soprana of shiny cloth, stings, no sash, shoes with silver buckles
Propaganda Fide Black double breasted cassock, red pipings and buttons, scarlet sash and strings
Germanic College Scarlet Cassock, black sash, scarlet soprana with pendant strings (Masson notes that they had the nickname 'gamberi cotti' or 'boiled lobsters' and that their distinctive dress was imposed due to their reputation for uproarious behaviour)
Greek College Blue cassock, red sash and pipings, blue soprana with strings - out of doors: a black soprana with wide sleeves
English College Black cassock and soprana, black strings and no sash
Scots College Purple cassock with crimson sash, buttons and pipings. Black soprana with pendant strings
Irish College Black cassock with red piping, no sash, black soprana and strings
French College The first college to abandon collegiate dress for the priest's cassock, no sash
Lombard College Black cassock, violet sash, soprana and strings
Seminary of SS. Peter and Paul Priest's dress with a black sash
Belgian College Priest's dress with a black sash edged with red
North American College Double-breasted black cassock, blue pipings and buttons, crimson sash, pendant strings
South American College Black cassock with blue edgings, blue sash, black soprana and strings
Maronite College Black cassock, soprana and strings
Bohemian College Black cassock, maroon sash edged with yellow
Armenian College Black cassock with red pipings, out of doors: black coat with wide sleeves
College of St Boniface Black cassock with yellow pipings, black soprana with black pendant srings lined with red
Polish College Black cassock and soprana with green sash
Spanish College Black cassock with blue sash, round black cape with vertical blue pipings
Candadian College Priest's dress and no sash
Ruthenian College Blue cassock, soprana with strings, orange sash

Note - the Soprana was a long sleeveless coat, often with two long strings or streamers hanging from the armholes to signify the state of tuition. The 'sash' is also known as the fascia or more colloquially the 'belly band'.

Edited to Add
If you look at the photograph gallery for the cause of Servant of God Frank Parater you'll see the difference between the plain black soutane of his American seminary and his more colourful Roman outfit. It would be remiss not to link to the page of his cause and give a biretta doff to the Shrine.


For lots of Newman goodness, have a look at this post by Quenta from his Parochial and Plain Sermons:
Your life displays Christ without your intending it. You cannot help it. Your
words and deeds will show on the long run (as it is said), where your treasure
is, and your heart. Out of the abundance of your heart your mouth speaketh words
"seasoned with salt." We sometimes find men who aim at doing their duty in the
common course of life, surprised to hear that they are ridiculed, and called
hard names by careless or worldly persons. This is as it should be; it is as it
should be, that they are surprised at it. If a private Christian sets out with
expecting to make a disturbance in the world, the fear is, lest he be not so
humble-minded as he should be. But those who go on quietly in the way of
obedience, and yet are detected by the keen eye of the jealous, self-condemning,
yet proud world, and who, on discovering their situation, first shrink from it
and are distrest, then look to see if they have done aught wrongly, and after
all are sorry for it, and but slowly and very timidly (if at all) learn to
rejoice in it, these are Christ's flock.

The Telegraph has this interesting report on a British survey about sin:
Cruelty was considered the most evil sin, with 39 per cent of people voting for
it in a BBC poll. Adultery came second (11 per cent) followed by bigotry (eight
per cent), dishonesty (seven per cent), hypocrisy (six per cent), greed (six per
cent) and selfishness (five per cent).
Ross Kelly, from the Heaven
and Earth Show that commissioned the poll, said: "Attitudes towards sin
have changed. We're more concerned about actions which hurt others.''

How true! The great weakness of contemporary modern thought is the limitation of sin to that which hurts others. The Christian should also be concerned with the effect that his thought and behaviour has on himself (i.e. growth in virtue) and on his relationship with God.

Maria Mater Gratiae...

Maria, Mater gratiae,
Mater misericordiae,
tu me ab hoste protege
et hora mortis suscipe.

Friday, February 04, 2005

More bells...

Lauren of Cnytr complains that none of the University of Dallas bells are names after St Thomas Aquinas.
I'm sure some Domincan church somewhere has done this, but the complain reminds me of the charmingly named Great Tom of Christchurch College Oxford. It's located in Tom Tower which is in Tom Quad. But who was Tom? There's more info on the tower and bell here including the bell-inscription:
"Great Thomas Jane of Oxford Recast April 18th 1680. In the Reign of Charles 2.nd John (Fell) Bishop of Oxford being then Dean, William Jane DD sub-Dean. Henry Smith DD Treasurer. By the Care and Art of Christopher Hudson."
However, that doesn't answer my question - why 'Thomas Jane'?
Another One
We all know that Big Ben is not a tower or a clock, but is instead London's most famous bell. Less well know, but with an interesting history is Great Tom of Westminster and laterly St Paul's Cathedral. Latin freaks will appreciate the following:
The inscription, if accurately transcribed on later castings, suggests that the original bell was cast as a clock bell:
Tercius aptavit me rex Edwardque vocavit
Sancti decore Edwardi signantur ut horae

This translates as:
King Edward III made and named me
So that by the grace of St Edward the hours may be marked

However, as St Edward is genitive and the grace/beauty is ablative, the second line may have been intended as a pun with the alternative inference ‘So that the hours of St Edward [presumably the Confessor, but possibly Edward of Westminster the original contractor] may be marked with grace/beauty’.

And while I'm talking about bells...
Here's a folktale about a bell called Great Tom of Kentsham.
There's also Great Tom of Lincoln:
Lincoln has a wonderful bell called Great Tom of Lincoln. It has been recast, having been accidentally broken, and is of immense weight and size It is six feet high, six feet ten and a half inches broad, and weighs five tons eight hundred-weight. Its tone and volume are very grand and melodious
There is a fascinating correspondence here concerning the recasting of Great Tom of Linclon.
How Strange
The strangest theory I ever came across concerning bells is the following Anti-Catholic silliness:
A baby gets water poured over its head. Shocked by the cold water, separated from its mother by the godmother and exposed to an unfamiliar environment, the baby experiences a feeling of helplessness.
In the baby's mind, this feeling becomes inseparably connected to the sound of the ringing bells, forming a psychological image. This image finally settles inside the subconscious thinking.

The bell tower: Later in life:
Each time a bell is sounded, this same feeling of uneasiness and being at someone's mercy and the helplessness encountered during the baptism becomes re-activated in the subconscious (depending on the individual's sensitivity). The countless bells ringing from every church tower - 24 hours a day - have for many centuries guaranteed a life-long, subconscious helplessness of the baptized against the sinister machinations of Catholicism. This method finds a more primitive application in the form of cowbells which are attached to the grazing cows!
Catholicism may be compared to a cow which forgets that it is her own bell that she is chasing after!
Catholicism must not be confused with Christianity:
Christianity is the Philosophy of Jesus Christ,
Catholicism is the teaching of Roman Empire
There are many traumatic occurrences during childhood, but none of these is used for systematic manipulation and constantly renewed as follows:

Pawlow's cows:

The period of seven years plays an important role in human biology. (Human cells become renewed every seven years). The rituals of Catholicism follow the same pattern:
In the beginning there is the ritual of baptism, accompanied by bells;
about seven years later, the First Communion ritual comes along, again accompanied by bells;
about seven years after that, the ritual of confirmation takes place - again with bells;
about seven years later, the wedding bells ring.
In between these rituals there is the constant ringing of bells from the church towers, every 15 minutes around the clock. Other religions are not very different, besides the fact that the methods have been adapted to the different cultures, providing different psychological images.

'Adopt a Sniper'

[Marquette] University officials rescinded the College Republican's "Adopt a Sniper" table in the Alumni Memorial Union Monday, saying the program's message did not fit the university's mission and therefore could not be set up in the AMU.
The College Republicans had approval from the Office of Student Development to set up the table in the Union to promote the national "Adopt a Sniper" program. Two hours after the table was set up, individuals from OSD confiscated the literature and materials that were on display.
Henak said most snipers receive standard equipment from the U.S. military that restricts mobility and flexibility, causing snipers to sometimes remove their armor in order to shoot and putting them at risk.
When an individual donates at least $5 to the program, he or she will receive a dog tag with the U.S. Marines slogan: "One Shot, One Kill, No Remorse, I Decide," he said. The organization also offers metal wristbands with the Web site's name and the military unit that will benefit from the donation.
Henak said the decision was a tactic to stifle the voice of the College Republicans.
"It's obvious that they have liberal leanings — that's a Jesuit trait," Henak said. "They don't believe in what the snipers are doing and so they don't support our program."
The university statement said the table did not reflect Catholic, Jesuit values.
"In the context of the university's Jesuit, Catholic mission, we could not allow fundraising in the student union for a group whose rhetoric regarding snipers could be widely misinterpreted as having a cavalier attitude toward the taking of a human life," O'Brien said.

On the Eve of the Feast of St. Agnes...

... we have this story about bells in the Telegraph:
For more than 100 years the bells of St Peter and St Paul Church in the Oxfordshire market town of Wantage have chimed every quarter hour.
For a considerably shorter period 33-year-old Graham Taylor has been the licensee of The Swan pub next door.
This, he says, has been time enough for him to endure sleepless nights and, finally, to lose his patience and storm into Sunday morning worship and shout at the priest: "What about love they (sic) neighbour?"

More yawns...
The Times brings up the old 'Richard III was innocent chestnut. I have certain Richardian sympathies, but am tired of articles revealing the 'truth' about Shakespearean characters.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


The Telegraph brings news of a campaign to rehabilitate the reputation of Macbeth. Imagine that! Shakespeare not historically accurate? I think a more interesting task would be to find a Shakepearean play which is historically accurate. Facts just get in the way of a good plot.
And here's a nice picture of a squirrel.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Exam Food...

Things are hectic here at the moment, but I was very taken by this article about how a British chocolate bar has become exam-food in Japan:
The makers of Kit Kat are struggling to cope with a surge in demand for the chocolate bar in Japan, because the country's teenagers believe that it will help them pass exams.
Kit Kat, an expression invented in Britain in the 1930s, sounds eerily close to "kitto katsu," a Japanese exam-season mantra that literally means "I'll do my best to make sure I succeed".
I don't suppose my American readers are familiar with the Kit-Kat which is certainly availible here in Italy... mmmmm...