Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Monday, 29 September 2014

A Merry Michaelmass!

(I just like that word - it's fun to say.)

I overslept, so I figured I wouldn't head to Church, but I really wanted to go to Mass today, (family resonance,) but also knew I wasn't going to be safe on the highway without a little caffeine in me, and then remembered that the priest who would be celebrant says the fastest Mass of all time, (not lower case on "all" and "time", because, yes, faster than the famously possible to say rapidly Mass of All Time) and at the very best, communion would be distributed thirty five minutes after I had chugged my breakfast...

Long story short, assisted at Mass and did not receive.

Which is a Thing that can happen.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Having the Pope he succeeded living in retirement at the Vatican is like having a 'wise grandparent' at home, Pope Francis has said...

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia). Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI leaves at the end of a meeting with elderly faithful in St.
You know, if your grandpa were, like... eleven years older than you are. (Pope Francis actually has a sister his junior by twelve year younger than he.)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Communion "Meditation"?

Today, we had a medley.

The Malotte Lord's Prayer and Non Dimenticar.

I'm not making this up.

On reflection, we should probably have encouraged the woman who was yodeling to continue.

(I don't want anyone to think this was at Mass, o at a church,  it was a communion service at a nursing home, and a large portion of the congregation has some degree of dementia.)

Truth be told, it was a little livelier than usual.

I might even say.... vibrant.


There is an almost unbearable article in the New York Times about a woman tying desperately to get appropriate care for her elderly father so that he can die at home, as was his wish.
The story resonates too closely and too painfully for me to even discuss right now, too many details are familiar, but this horrified me:
A doctor said withholding liquids [from her aging mother] was “the humane way." Once, arriving for her daily visit, [the daughter] had unthinkingly carried in a cup of tea. Not quickly enough, she hid it behind a curtain, seeing her mother pass her tongue over parched lips. “She was suffering, and I contributed to that,” she said, sobbing. “I will never forgive myself. 

I know that it is arguable that a point may come when a conscious dying person refuses food or hydration and so to not withhold it would be inhumane.
And alternatively, it is possible that if a person is dying and no longer sentient there is no cruelty in depriving her of liquids.

But how in the name of God and all that's holy can it be "humane" to allow someone who feels thirst and visibly suffers from that thirst to die of thirst?

The Catholic Church, and the Yankees

According to Greg Kendra, before leaving the field for the final time at Yankee stadium,
as the crowd roared, Jeter walked to his spot where he played shortstop, crouched down, bowed his head, and made the sign of the cross.
Derek Jeter wanted to pray. For a moment, that great cathedral of baseball, Yankee Stadium, became a small chapel, a place for a private devotion.
Later, he told a reporter:
“I say a little prayer before every game and I basically just said thank you.”
This grandson of a Catholic school custodian remembered where it all began.
In a moment that was both very public and very personal, he reminded us all of what matters.
Now, I’m not going to canonize Derek Jeter this morning. But I think what he did showed grace, and class, and humility, the kind Paul wrote about in his letter to the Philippians. In our secular age, it was an act of faith. And it served, too, as a kind of challenge to a cynical world
I hadn't watched the game, or the endless ENDOFANERA coverage since. It hadn't occurred to me before that Jeter was probably Catholic.

Himself who had the misfortune to grow up anything other than a Yankee fan a Cubs fan, nonetheless likes the Yankees, and is a big fan of Jeter's. He was watching all the sports shows yesterday, and was put off by some of the snarking, and, frankly, hating that was being giving voice.

Why do so many people hate the Yankees? he mused.

Easy, I said, For the same reason that idiot publicity hounds with frat-boy mentalities never announce to the world that they are going to hold a "Satanic Black Methodist Service."

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Truth and Mercy

[T]he word of the LORD came to me...
If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you say, Oh, well, that was a long time ago, it would be a exploitation of the human person to act as if the sacraments meant anything or to make a big deal of a betrayal of a sacrament, oh wait, no, I guess we have to say THAT sacrament doesn't mean anything, or maybe it's just that it kinda woe off, but THIS one does or people who are excluded from it wouldn't feel so bad, right?  give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 
But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you will have saved your life. 
Again, if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and you will have saved your life.”

Forgotten How to Forgive? Rather, How to Ask For Forgiveness

Putting aside what Archbishop Nichols is really talking about, for the moment, let us remember, when he says, (the article doesn't really quote him, but paraphrases, so if he didn't say exactly this, apologies,)
the Church has effectively forgotten how to forgive and must face up to the fact that people’s private lives do not always live up to an its “idealised vision” of family life.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols said compassion for the difficulties people face in their personal lives had not been the Church’s “strongest suit” in recent years. 
... that we are the Church, Her members, and it's no wonder if we don't know how to forgive when we have, as a group,  deliberately absented ourselves from the sacrament wherein we would learn from God how it's done.

Come on in, we'll leave the light on!

"The Plastic Religion"

It isn't disrespectful, you know, because...art.
[One silly artist manque] and [another one] created a set of boxed dolls designed to represent various religious figures that will be on display in an exhibition named "Barbie, The Plastic Religion" in Buenos Aires on October 11.
"If there's a Barbie doctor, a teacher and a police officer, why shouldn't there be a Virgin of Lujan Barbie?[......] We respect all traditions and religions but our work is intended to pay homage to these figures. We don't intend to offend any religion."
[Thing One] and [Thing Two] have 33 dolls in the collection that represent religious figures from Catholicism, Judaism and Buddhism but they decided against creating a Ken Doll in Muhammad's image. The duo took to Facebook to announce that they respect the Islam culture too much to create one.
Got that?
Making plastic dolls into images of revered religious figures is not disrespectful.
But the "artists" wouldn't do that to Muhammad out of respect.

In other news, the Oklahoma Civic Center is available for Koran burnings, right?

[Edited - I see no reason to use these silly peoples' names and  enhance their googlebility. Will hte Seuss estate allow the use of "Thing One" and "Thing Two" or are they as fierce as Mattel?]

Shouldn't that be "Get used to it, Your Eminence"?

Father Fessio speaks a bit more forthrightly than one might have expected in defending Ignatius Press's publication of a book  that, by all accounts, extolls and supports the sanctity of sacamental marriage.
That the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage needs defending against some princes of the Church is regrettable, no?
On t'other hand, I should say up front - I don't read, or even stumble through French or Italian well enough to catch the tenor of what either “a senior source close to the Argentine Pope” or Cardinal Kasper said in the first place.

There's a lot of idiocy being spewed on the subject of comm- and other forms of union.

I think perhaps the writer at that link should have referenced "a divide that only PRACTICING Catholics understand," since her snarky references to "wafer wars" and the "host with the most" display the sort of ugly contempt for Catholicism that is usually reserved to lapsi, and her absurdly cynical claim that "if people were honest, almost nobody you know could take Holy Communion" is breathtakingly stupid.

Seriously? We're getting upset about how presidents salute?

Bush Salute with dog

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


Okay, as before with The Toast, if you follow the link, yes, there is bad language involved.
But some of it hurts, it's so funny.

Maybe I have a low threshold of amusement?
But i needed a laugh, and Mallory Ortberg was there for me.
Thank you, Mallory, whoever you are.
It's called "Unsatisfied Women In Western Art History."

A few little sips of the tall, frosty, and somewhat bubbly beverage...

babe what is it
what’s wrong
are there not enough leopard skins
i mean
if you call just two enough 

and here is your royal chair
no furs on it i see
just linens and gold
that’s fine, that’s fine

is that a problem?
well you clearly didnt think it was a problem
so i guess it’s not a problem
is it

why is this man talking to me
he doesn’t have any jewels on
i like his furs but he doesn’t have any jewels on
so why is he talking at me

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

St Pio

I owe Padre Pio an apology

Leading Cause of Death in the United States

I am not vouching for the accuracy of the stats, but this seem at least approximately correct:
cancer?565,000 dead
diabetes? 71,000 souls lost to it
suicide? 36,000 every year
heart disease? a whopping 817, 000

abortion? 1,210,000

Take a minute, let that sink in.
Nope, didn't' accidentally transcribe an extra zero.
That was a million/

Every year.

One. Million. Two. Hundred. Ten. Thousand.

A million, two hundred and ten thousand.

All those precious, innocent little lives.

A million, two hundred and ten thousand.

Now think about how civilized we are.

Two Monks Invent Denominations

Not endorsing the entire site, and some of what I might link to uses foul language, but The Toast has some terrifically sharp wit, mostly by Mallory Ortberg.
(The imagined dialogue for classical masterpieces of the painter's art are also priceless.)

Church of England 
MONK #2: whats that one church there is already
MONK #1: what?
MONK #2: what’s the one church we all have
MONK #1: the Catholic Church?
MONK #2: yeah
MONK #1: what about it?
MONK #2: lets do the same thing but just of England
MONK #1: why would we do that
MONK #2: for making the king’s divorce
MONK #1: so the same except for there’s divorce?
MONK #2: yeah
MONK #1: so is it okay of all divorce
MONK #2: no, what?
just the one
don’t get carried away
just the one is fine

Will Someone Without an Axe to Grind Explain to Me Why as an orthodox Catholic the Appointment of Bishop Cupich to Chicago is Supposed To Upset Me?

Look I'm the first one to admit I look at these things emotionally, eg, my melancholy at the rumored mistreatment of Cdl Buke - but that is because I hate seeing anything that lessens the level of the influence, the positive effect he can have on the world, not because I think the holy Father has some agenda that is at odds with his (or mine,) and because I, this is completely subjective, LIKE Cdl. Burke.

But the hand-wringing on the one side, and the boogeying in the end zone on the other over the  appointment of a successor to Cdl George?


He's not pro-life enough or something?

This guy?!????!?
“All we are saying is don’t forget about the baby.” We are here on behalf of the babies in the womb, inspired not by partisanship or pursuit of privilege or power, but by the same passion of patriotism that united a nation to mourn the loss of those babies in Newtown.
We are here because we see how much both tragedies have in common: both reveal the impact of social and emotional isolation when left untreated; both involve a resort to violence in dealing with it; both result in the debasement of human dignity, not only of those whose lives are taken, but of society; and in both there is the lingering threat to innocent and vulnerable life if no solution is forthcoming....
We should not be disheartened or bitter if many of our fellow citizens do not heed us at this moment, nor should we pull back on our efforts to join hands with others to improve the lot of suffering people in need just because they don’t fully agree with us on everything. The truth will win out and we have to believe that a nation whose collective heart can break and grieve for babies slaughtered in Newtown has the capacity and God’s grace to one day grieve for the babies killed in the womb.

Of course, he is "soft" on illicit and disordered sexual activity, on whihc subject he said,
“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.”
Oh, wait, sorry, that was that modern day Torquemada, Benedict XVI.

What Bishop Cupich said was,
I ask your careful consideration of the attached reflections which outline some of the reasons for the Catholic Church’s position recommending that citizens vote “reject” on [a referendum redefining marriage to include same sex unions], and thus overturn the law that redefines marriage. I offer these thoughts with respect, but also out of a sense of duty to contribute to the debate for the good of our state.
But, I also want to be very clear that in stating our position the Catholic Church has no tolerance for the misuse of this moment to incite hostility towards homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity.

Burger Abomination

Okay, I'm just going to say this once.

A fried egg on a cheeseburger is against the laws of God, of Nature and of Me.

It is an atrocity.
Don't do it.

And stop telling me to do it.

I am a fundamentalist, and I know that if the Almighty had meant for this monstrosity to exist, for the egg to intrude on the perfection of beef and cheese, (the bun is just a deliver system,) cows would lay eggs.

(And shut up about my use of mayonnaise, you hobgoblins of consistency.)

The Devil and Unwarranted Expectations

No, no, don't worry, I'm sure "they" will change that...

I think sometimes that much of what went wrong in the wake of, (not AT, mind you, afterwards,) with the Second Vatican Council was that hopes were raised, perhaps even maliciously, about change that would come.

The devil's best weapons are not sins, not vices but virtues -- what better for the old snake than to pervert Love, to pervert Hope?

Surely everyone has taken a bite of an unfamiliar food and had that moment of, almost revulsion, because the expected savory proves sweet, or vice versa - in order to appreciate the food, you then not only have to overcome it newness, but your own disappointment at the first tasting.

It is twice as hard.

I think the Church has seen this many times. hopes were raised before the promulgation of humanae vitae that hard sayings would be done away with.
Sure, sure, the Church which we have been taught has some unchanging teachings, (as opposed to practices,) is going to change Her teaching.
Two birds with one stone, there were both dashed hopes and a weakening of faith in the entire concept of unchangeable teachings - even though the teaching, when push came to shove, was seen NOT to change!

And the prince of darkness and his unknowing dupes played with the hopes and expectations of changes that could have happened.
I know that in my own family there is a priest, (lovely man, lovely wife, lovely children,) who"signed up" pretty darn sure that by the time  he would probably want to, sacramental marriage would be open to him.

I understand torture, both physical and psychological is presumed to work not by application of unremitting pain but by episodes of it interspersed with raising expectations of final freedom from it.

(Those applying enhanced interrogation might be said to also be victims of falsely raised hopes, but that's a different topic.)

Cardinal Burke is calling out those who are engaged in this promulgation of false hopes in October's synod on the Family.
 Next month's Synod on the Family has undergone an attempted hijacking by some media sources, which are fueling expectations that impossible changes will be made to Church doctrine, said the (so far) head of the Church's highest court.

“I don’t think you have to be brilliant to see that the media has, for months, been trying to hijack this Synod,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect for the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura – the office which, among other things, handles annulment cases in the Church.

In particular, he told CNA in a recent interview, the media has been presenting Pope Francis as being in favor of allowing Holy Communion to be distributed to those who are divorced and remarried, and other such propositions, even though this is not the case

The danger, Cardinal Burke continued, is that “the media has created a situation in which people expect that there are going to be these major changes which would, in fact, constitute a change in Church teaching, which is impossible.”...
“Certainly, the culture is extremely confused and in great error,” he said. However, this extends also to the interior of the Church, where are those who question the application of Matthew 19. In the passage, Jesus says that a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; this is the basis for Catholic practice prohibiting the reception of the Eucharist in such circumstances.
“It’s very important at this time,” the prelate continued, “to show the splendor of the truth of the Church’s teaching about marriage, which is foundational, obviously, for society, and for the Church itself.”
“If we don’t get it correct about marriage, there’s very little else that we’re going to be clear about.”...
“The marriage nullity process is the fruit of centuries of development, and by various expert canonists, one of the great ones being Pope Benedict XIV,” the cardinal said. “For us now simply to say we don’t need that anymore is the height of pride and therefore foolishness.” ...
“I wouldn’t be at all opposed to any changes,” he said, “except that a certain amount of complexity is required by the complexity of a claim that a marriage is null. And you cannot simply deal with these kinds of questions by some kind of easy and light-hearted process.”
See that?!!?%!?
 Hide-bound, old meanie traditionalist says that nothing can possibly ever change, that --
 Oh, wait.
Never mind.

Monday, 22 September 2014

I Don't Pay Enough Attention to Professional Sports

What is the MATTER with me?
How could I not know that these existed?

I mean, I knew all about the racing sausages, but this is different, this is vastly better - this is important stuff, this is history!

When Did Pumpkin Become a Thing?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against pumpkin, some of my best pies are pumpkin, but, really.

I heard a local anchor, (male,) on TV the other day squealing like a middle school girl about the arrival of fall and, consequently, the availability of all things pumpkin.
It was embarrassing.

We were driving long distance on a deadline last week, and consequently in constant need of warm caffeine, and at one 7-11 or Quik-Chek or Pilot, or somewhere, (why, oh why, oh why did White Hen, the convenience store with the very, very, very  best coffee of all time not flourish? I shall carry the disappointment to my grave, like Lipton's elimination of Amaretto-flavored tea... ah, well.)

Where was I?

Oh, yes, at one stop Himself poured and doctored himself a pumpkin coffee, sitting right there next to the Hazelnut. (There's another one -- how did that become the if-we-only-carry-one-flavor default of coffeedom? it smells like musty-old-lady-musty-kitchen-cupboard musty mustiness.)

I, with my laser wit, and sherlockian skills of observation said.... Oh. You like that?

And he mumbled uh, yeah.

Fifty miles down the freeway, he said, no, not really, just thought I'd give it a try, (which was odd in the first place, because I'm the one for sissy coffees.)

Anyway, it seems that every purveyor of every commodity that has either a taste or a scent offers it in pumpkin, pumpkin spice, or pumpkin pie for at last part of the year.
This site seems to think it began with a Starbucks latte in 2003, but regardless of its origin myths, it is the Borg of flavors.
It's overpowering and positively drowns subtler aromas in the vicinity.

I want it to stop and I want it to stop NOW.

But having said that, Trader Joe's offers a delicious Pumpkin Bread Pudding, not too sweet, not too heavily spiced, not to rich... a lovely desert.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Dominicans In Iraq, Help in Any Way You Can

This is cut and pasted from an email from the Rosary Shrine.

The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Iraq have been keeping the Dominican family up-to-date on their situation via letters. They have asked that these letters be shared as widely as possible to try to bring help to the situation in Iraq.

This is the most recent letter, dated 23 August 2014:
Dear all,
We continue to share our daily struggle with you, hoping that our cry will reach the world. We are like the blind man of Jericho (Mark 10:46-52), who had nothing to express himself, but his voice, asking Jesus for mercy. Although some people ignored his voice, others listened, and helped him. We count on people, who will listen!
We entered the third week of displacement. Things are moving very slowly in terms of providing shelter, food, and necessities for the people. There are still people living in the streets. There are still no organized camps outside of schools that are used as refugee centres. An unfinished, three story building has also been used as a refugee centre. For privacy reasons, families have made rooms using UNHCR plastic sheets in these unfinished buildings. These places look like stables. We all wonder, is there any end in sight? We appreciate all efforts that have been made to provide aid to the displaced people. However, please note, that providing food and shelter is not the only essential thing we need. Our case is much bigger. We are speaking about two minorities (CHristian and Yezedians), who lost their land, their homes, their belongings, their jobs, their money, some have been separated from their families and loved ones, and all are persecuted because of their relig ion.
Our church leaders are doing their best to solve the issue. They have been meeting with political leaders, with the President of Iraq and Kurdistan, but initiatives and actions of these political leaders are really slow and modest. Actually, all political meetings have led to nothing. Until now, there has been no decision made about the current situation of the displaced minorities. For this reason, trust in the political leaders has diminished, if it exists, at all. People cannot tolerate it anymore. It is too heavy of a burden. Yesterday, a young man expressed that he would rather die than live, without dignity. People feel that their dignity has been stripped from them. We are being persecuted because of our religion. None of us ever thought we would live in refugee camps because of that.
It is hard to believe that this is happening in the 21st century. We wonder what is exactly happening. Is it another plan or agreement to subdivide Iraq? If this is true, by whom and why? Why are the events of dividing the Middle East, that happened in 1916, being repeated now? At that time it was a political issue and innocent people paid for it. It is apparent that there are sinfully, cunning people dividing Iraq, now. In 1916, we lost seven of our sisters, many Christians died, and more were scattered. Is it just circumstance we face this division again, or is it deliberate?
However, the struggle is not only in the camps, with the displaced people. What has happened in our Christian towns that have been evacuated is even worse. This IS forced out of their homes those who did not leave their towns up to the night of August 6th. Yesterday, seventy-two people were driven out of Karakosh. However, not all of them arrived; those who arrived last night were in miserable condition. They had to cross Al-Khazi river (a tributary to the Great Zab) on foot because the bridge had been destroyed. There are still quite a few on the side of the riverbank. e do not know when they will make it to Erbil. It depends on the situation and negotiations between the Peshmerga and the IS. There are some people who went to fetch the elderly and the unable to walk. One of our sisters went to bring her parents, and told her story. Another woman, said that she was separated from her husband and children, and she knows nothing about them; they are probably among the ot hers who are on the other bank, or they might be among the hostages taken by the IS. Also, a three-year old daughter was taken from her mother’s lap, and she also knows nothing about her. We do not know why the IS are sending people out of Karakosh, but we have been hearing from those who just arrived, that IS are bringing barrels into Karakosh and the contents are unknown.
In addition, we know of four Christian families who are are stuck in Sinjar for over three weeks; they are probably running out of food and water. If they do not get help, they will die there. At the present, there is no contact with them, and there is no way to negotiate with the IS.
As for our community, we know that our convent in Tel Kaif is being used as an IS headquarter. Also, we know that they had entered our convent in Karakosh. Those that recently arrived have stated that all the holy pictures, icons, and statues are being destroyed. Crosses have been taken off the top of churches and they have been replaced with the IS flag. That is not only in Karakosh and Tel Kaif. In Baqofa, one of our sisters hear the situation was calm, so she went back with few people, to get her medicine. She found the convent had been searched; everything was open and strewn across the rooms. The minute they entered the convent, three bombs hit the town. They left immediately.
Apart from what is happening to the Christians, yesterday, Friday the 22nd, a Shiite suicide bomber and gunmen attacked Sunni mosque of Abou Mussab in village under Iraqi government control in Diyala province leaving 68 dead. It is heartbreaking to hear about people get killed while praying. In terms of Media and news release, this massacre overshadowed what is happening to the Christians in the Nineveh Plain. We are afraid that our struggle will become only our own affairs, and that it will not have impact on the world anymore.
At last, we have to say that people are losing their patience. They miss everything in their hometowns: churches, church bells, streets, and neighborhood. It is heartbreaking for them to hear that their homes have been robbed. Although they love their towns, most people are now thinking of leaving the country so they can live in dignity and have future for their children. It is hard to have hope in Iraq, or to trust the leadership of the country.
Please, keep us in your prayers.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena-Iraq.
PS Please share the letter with other people. Let the world hear the cry of the poor and the innocent.
If you are looking for a way to send aid to Iraq, the Order has set up a system through our Province in France. Help can be sent to that Province which will ensure that it is used to help the communities in Iraq as well as Iraqi families who are refugees elsewhere. Contributions should be identified as “For Iraq” and can be sent to the following bank account:
         IBAN: FR 76 3005 6001 4801 4854 2857 016
         Code B.I.C.: CCFRFRPP

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