Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

"The Halls Are Alive With the Sound of..."

I grew up in old houses.
Most of my relatives had old houses
I spent the largest part of my adult life in what was, for all intents and purposes,an historic mansion.
The first house we owned was in sight of its centennial.
The house I live in now is far from new.
I kind of like creaking floor boards and old hardware.
I have said, many times, "Ah, it's just the house settling...." and it made me happier to be settling in to a sofa, my bed, whatever.

But I fear that everything has changed, once you've had a rat...

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Ratzinger the Reasonable

Admit it, you thought this was going to be about Regensburg, didn't you?
We need to be reminded that although the efforts by the great reformer and patron saint of all Europe certainly found an echo down these centuries in this Future Doctor of the Church, (hereafter, FDotC,) it was another Benedict by whom the Pope Emeritus is said to have been inspired to name himself.

So why should it surprise anyone that he is a nurturer of communion, a bringer of peace?

Catching myself up on some old, (by which, in the Age of Twitter, I mean having occurred this summer,)  sectarian shenanigans, which involved a terrible blurring of the line between Faith and political loyalties.
And by "terrible" I do not mean merely extreme, but also very bad. (I may write more about that anon, anon.)
When the argument strayed more onto the churchy side of things, I came across the same quote from the then Cardinal Ratzinger, several times and it tickled, but yes, saddened me, that it was used by both sides in the argument, and both thought it demonstrated the same truth about Pope Benedict, ne Joseph R.
Rad Trads seem to use it as evidence that Ratzinger was an Evil Progressive. Foggy Proggies, likewise used it to prove that Ratz had those fusty old Trads number, and roundly condemned them.
See his words for yourself. In 1982 he wrote:
Was the [2nd Vatican] Council a wrong road that we must now retrace if we are to save the Church? The voices of those who say that it was, are becoming louder and the followers more numerous. Among the more obvious phenomena of the last years must be counted the increasing number of integralist groups in which the desire for piety, for a sense of the mystery, is finding satisfaction. We must be on guard against minimizing these movements. Without a doubt, they represent a sectarian zealotry that is the antithesis of Catholicity. We cannot resist them too firmly.
QED! (whatever you want to D....)
But both used the quote dishonestly, for he continued, in the same paragraph:
But we must likewise ask ourselves, in all earnestness why such contractions and distortions of faith and piety have such an effect and are able to attract those who, by the basic conviction of their faith as well as by personal inclination, are in no way attracted by sectarianism. What drives them into a milieu where they do not belong? Wh have they lost the feeling of being at home in the larger Church? Are all their reproaches unfounded? is it not, for example, really strange that we have never heard bishops react as strongly against distortions in the heart of the liturgy as they react today against a Missal of the Church that, after all, has been in existence since the time of Pius V? Let it be said again: we should not adopt a sectarian attitude, but neither should we omit the examination of conscince to whihc these fact compel us.
I am so tired of dishonesty in debate.
We see that Papa Ratz, as ALWAYS, was moderate, modest and reasonable ..... and above all, CATHOLIC.
Could he be our president?

Monday, 12 September 2016

Censoring the Gospel

I rant regularly about the Lectionary.
Poor Himself, who really doesn't care, has to put up with it, and much of my bluster is no doubt uninformed.
I think the Three Year Cycle is an unmitigated disaster.
I find the suggestion that it is a boon to homilists, who would otherwise have difficulty coming up with material over the years less than compelling - what has put it in their heads that the Gospel text must be the main, or even in the minds of some, only source for their ruminations?
Not only are there three other scriptural texts, (don't forget the psalm or canticle!) every Sunday, and the prescribed Introit and Communion antiphon if they're doing it right, and occult Offertory, (it's still there, albeit veiled from our eyes and banned from our books,) there is the Ordinary.
Why, you could preach on the First Eucharistic Prayer every Sunday for the rest of your days and not exhaust the topic!
(I must interject at this point, one of the finest homilies I ever heard was on the Pax dialogue, delivered by the great Msgr Andrew Wadsworth on Saint Irenaeus' memorial.)
Yesterday for the first time, I noticed that the portion of the prescribed Gospel dealing with the Prodigal is bracketed! It may be left out!
I was unfair in my opinion of a bright and attentive high school student, Catholic schools all the way, who told me she'd never heard that story except in Godspell.
Well, came to learn her parish, with a strong RCIA program, never used the Lenten cycle of readings in which the parable is contained, because they always defaulted to the Year A,
Because ... scrutinies.
And now I realize if she never heard it in late summer, it would have been because, at the (at most 4 times,) it might have come up since she was old enough to understand, (with three years passing in between hearings, mind you,) I know for near certainty that none of those parish priests ever read the long form of anything, especially not in warm weather.

Now this past week I heard something that took me aback, and frankly, with all the licit options made available to celebrants and associates, and sanctioned shortcuts, I've no doubt the man in question thought he was doing anything wrong.
But the deacon simply stopped short after the Beatitudes and left out the... what shall we call them? the "Woes"? the "Damnabilities"?
But woe to you who are rich,for you have received your consolation.

But woe to you who are filled now,for you will be hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now,for you will grieve and weep.

Woe to you when all speak well of you,for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.
Yeah, who wants to hear that...

Deplorable and Deplorabler

Poor Fr. Fox.
For saying that a Catholic can, in good conscience, vote for either the lesser of two evils or abstain from voting, he is ripped by a crazy woman, (who makes her choice quite clear.)

evShe uses a tactic I am seeing more and more, not just from crazy commenters, and careless on-the-fly bloggers and conversationalists at parties, but from actual "journalists," and that is to repeat over and over the accusation that ones target has said something "amounting" to something deplorable, but steadfastly refusing to supply actual quotes, even out of context.
The tactic is used by both sides, of course, the Trumpite right winger against Fr Fox, the liberal Twitter over-lord against a Breitbart gadfly.
Too much reading of Jane Austen, and her free indirect speech!
All I need to do is vaguely describe what I want people to think you said, and damn you for my words, I needn't actually quote you and be honest about it.

You'd think Catholics especially would balk at such dishonesty deception, lies, this method having been used against the Church for.... well, forever.
(Soon to be saint,) Fulton Sheen, anyone?
“There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
The devil's having a grand old time this election.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Same Old Same Old?

The fringe on the left oft circles around and is discovered to be not all that different from the fringe on the right, have you noticed?

"We’re very interested in revealing the truth...and yes we have some material... that will be published"

"I have in my I have here in my hand a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department"

Hate giving them clicks, but I feel compelled to follow links with damning headlines shouting that "so-and-so said/confirmed/claimed that....!" only to find (usually,) that any actual quotes from said person in the know, as opposed to the wishful-thinking gloss of the author, says/confirms/claims nothing of the sort.

I'm not even really disappointed any more, even when it's someone on "my side" doing the prevarication lying.

I admit, it's a little different, it's still painful when the selective quoting and dissembling comes from certain quarters.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Care to join the "Heresy of the Month Club"?

This isn't new at all, not sure why it popped up on the screen, but USCatholic is so dependable...

Really, why settle for a measly little Trinity when you can have a Quaternity?

Saturday, 3 September 2016

And One MORE Thing....

.... about the souls's immortality --
An ordained blogger has written:
I was taught... that if God ceased even to think about us we would cease to exist. It is only through the power of God that we are. This seems to imply to me that we can be annihilated in body and soul! 
Yes. And yes. And no, not really.
Because God knows us.
He knows EVERYTHING, and we, collectively, and each of us individually, are something which He knows.
This is reassuring, for it follows that the Almighty Lord of the Universe cannot cease to know that which He knows, He cannot cease to think about us, He cannot cease to know us, He cannot UNknow us.*
Like Prince Hal, He can, He might, say, "I do not know you," idiomatically denying our acquaintance with Him, (and if we fail in the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy He tells us He most certainly will,) but He will yet have knowledge of us.

The Human Soul Is Immortal.

(*This is like the dumb paradox kids like to address to deny the Lord's omnipotence -"Oh yeah? well can He make a stone so large He can't lift it?")

No, It Is Not True That "We Never Really Die As Long As Someone Remembers" Us

I understand such heretical nonsense, the denial of our immortal souls, in movies and tv scripts.
It's the warm-fuzzy of the Viaticum/Extreme Unction/Anointing of the Sick the way the  "unity candle" is the secular culture's warm-fuzzy of Matrimony, since it doesn't understand the sacramentality of marriage, but knows something is missing is missing without ritual.

I understand that, I accept that.

But how is such   bull*  *t   finding its way into Christian thought and speech, into eulogies and sermons and saccharine poems on the back of memorial cards, even into homilies at Catholic funeral Masses?

Stop it.

Just. Stop. It.

So the lonely and friendless in this life will be even more so in the next? your continued existence is dependent on some other human being, and their managing to escape the scourge of Alzheimer's or senile dementia?
What a wonderful world...

(Yeah, yeah, all of this is compounded by "theological discourse" of the sort that may or may not have been conducted by an aging atheist and an elderly member of the hierarchy, but which has been allowed to stand uncontradicted by the latter:
Q: What happens to that lost soul? Will it be punished? And how? A: there is no punishment, but the destruction/annihilation of that soul.  All the others will participate in the beatitude of living in the presence of the Father. The souls that are destroyed/annihilated will not take part in that banquet; with the death of the body their journey is finished,) 
but what are you going to do?)

Dear NYTimes -- Stop Othering

Are you aware of how dismissively "other" this declares your black readership to be?

#HereIsMyAmericaHow well do we understand the multifaceted lives of black Americans? Or the lives of anyone of color?

I used to be painfully aware of this casual and unthinking othering in regard to women, (TV Guide would have no trouble describing a crime-fighting duo as "a reformed criminal and a woman," "a hard-nosed cop and a blonde,") and I had to fight this in a former parish where we would have bi-lingual programs and the Spanish was given phonetically.
To consider maleness, or whiteness or English speaking-ness a default is to belittle woman, blacks, Spanish speakers.
Is the white anglophone male even normative anymore?
Shouldn't the flagship of there is no abnormal therefore there is no normal be beyond this?

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Improving My Culinary Skills

Okay, not my skills, just my knowledge.

For the first time in my life I have both the time, the money and the place (wait - "both" is wrong, there are THREE things . I fell as if i am in a Monty Python sketch about the Spanish Inquisition. I digress,) to work on versions of foods I've always enjoyed but often have to forgo because most people and/or manufacturers, use substances to which I am allergic in their production.

My knowledge is expanding and so am I.
Other than beans, (Boston Baked,  cassoulet, chilis, hummuses.... 'zat the plural?) and even some bean recipes, all of my projects seem to be high fat, high sugar, or both.
Cream Cake.
Frozen custards.

Life is good.

And Those Intewebs are a treasure for someone leading such a sybaritic life.

I am crazy for this  guy, David Lebovitz  is interesting, helpful, crazy skilled and learned in his field - but WHAT IS WITH HIS WEBSITE?????

My computer hates it, my SIL's tablet hates it, Himself's computer hates it - is it the graphics? is it the ads?

Any way, I'll just have to keep slogging thru.

How I suffer...

Saturday, 27 August 2016

What does a human person look like?

Except for the apparent malformation of his mouth, this beautiful baby looks very much like an infant I have held in my arms many times over the past two months.
I post because I wonder if I have stumbled upon what I believe may be an important element of acceptance by the people of this generation of the barbarity of abortion.

The child I know is thriving, and is, by the standards of literally anyone who has commonly seen infants, exceptionally beautiful.
Her father is a very good looking man, and her mother is a remarkably beautiful, attractive young woman, (I happened to walk down the street with her in a major city, as work was letting out, at the time of year when summer frocks suddenly appear, and laughed to discover that the sitcom/romantic comedy cliche of people shocked by beauty is no fantasy -in real life I saw heads swivel, men and women alike, stopping dead in their tracks and watching this miracle of nature walked by in her modest summer dress, oblivious to the attention she garners from strangers.
The little child is exactly what you would expect from such parents.
She is stunning, with a more perfectly shaped head than I have ever seen on a baby delivered naturally, coloring like a a china doll, and a rosebud mouth that learned to smile or express wonder very, very quickly.
And everyone, stranger and family alike, marvels at her pictures.
With the exception - several young persons have remarked, in amazement, that she "looks like an alien."

And to them, she does. The people who react so are only children or from small family in which they were the youngest.
More than once
The enormous eyes? alien.
The (at least initially,) spindly arms and legs on a skinny chested, yet big bellied baby? strange.
The head, huge compared to the rest? weird.

So few people today have any real knowledge of how a genuine newborn looks.

Is it any wonder than anyone who is shocked by a newborn's normal appearance finds it easy enough to deny the humanity of an unborn?

I Will Live Forever! ... (and not just in someone's memory)

Have not seen this film , so no comment on it, per se, and I am mindful of the Harry Potter is about witchcraft! hysteria, when it was obviously Christian allegory.
But I'd like to say  that the "You never really die as long as someone remembers you" trope is sadly ubiquitous in pop culture. 
 'Kubo and the Two Strings' is brilliantly animated neo-pagan poison | Catholic World Report - Global Church news and views
The spirituality starts out simple as well but becomes more complex before revealing its sinister nature in the third act. An important distinction needs to be made here between traditional paganism and neo-paganism. Ancient pagan societies, not having access yet to God’s divine revelation, relied on the natural law given by God to every person. Born with the innate impulse to worship, they created religious systems out of the most important aspects of their immediate universe: water, sun and moon, plants and animals, fire, war, sexuality, family, and so on. While severely flawed and lacking, their search for truth was genuine, and early Christian missionaries were able to use their philosophies to present the Gospel and being many to Christ (Paul’s ministry to the Greeks in Acts 17 is a perfect example).

It is a way of presenting 'spiritual' stories without admitting, (and sometimes with active denial of,) the existence of the soul, the spirit -- denying any reality, (as opposed to... what? "virtuality"?) of the immortal spirit with which we are each created...
I thought it damaged the finale of Person of Interest, a work that proved to be, ultimately about Redemption.
Although interestingly, that finale, while repeating words said by the protagonist in very early episodes, (thank you, WGN for running these in syndication,) also put the lie to them, as said protagonist was redeemed - in the end, we most certainly do not die alone. Someone is coming, (has come and will come,) to save us.
Haven't I wandered off topic....

Oh, and felicitous typo, (I think) -
Kubo loses its way. This is because it appears to mix together both ancient pagan ideas and beliefs taken from net-paganism.  
I know, right?
But I really appreciate the review/condemnation because it very nicely outline the difference between the ancient Paganism of Ignorance, and the hippie-feminist-hipster-modernist Paganism of Intention

Capsule Wardrobes, What the Hell?

It took me a while, but I finally came to tems with Pinterest.
I started out annoyed by looking for recipes, (how am I gonna use up that scrag end of a pork tenderloin and some tomatoes that are going soft and a nectarine? oh, and B won't eat chunks of onion and E is gluten -free this week and R is dieting), thinking I'd found one when what I'd actually found was a link to a link to someone being all chatty and sharing 25 pictures of the process of greasing a pan, and then at the bottom of the page, "click this link for the complete recipe!" where it was with a sales pitch for something.

But okay, I get it, and I eventually signed on.

But now I am inundated with suggestions from my "friends" (apparently, everyone whose email addy I have ever had,) and I swear, 95% of them are about so-called "capsule wardrobes."


Because Saying Something About Who You Are As Individuals Is What the Sacraments of Christians Initiation Are All About

USCatholic's stable of writers seldom disappoints, ya know?
Planning a Christening?
We needed some ongoing conversations before we could celebrate what I believe is our most important sacrament. Our son’s baptism couldn’t be a rote ritual of water and oil, but one that would say something about who we are as individuals and as a family within a larger community. 
But she needn't ever worry about churchy things, because "God can take care of Godself."
Young enough to have an infant, and talking like one of those aging hippies we need to be kind to at Church as we ease ourselves back into Catholicism...

Oddly, we're heading into the baptism of the newest member of our family, just now.
The father, a nominally Presbyterian non-believer, would like all the sacraments in which he takes part to say something about who he is, and who he is, as he said to the officiant at his wedding, as he tried to wheedle him into allowing a dog as the ring bearer, is a man who could say in front of his bride-to-be, "Nothing in this world means more to me than my dog."

How cherished his fiancee must have felt...

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Wait, You mean "Springtime for Hitler" ISN'T a Real Show?

Not only does this guy owe his investors, he probably owes Mel Brooks royalties.
Roland Scahill claimed to be the lead producer of a new Broadway show and scammed $165,000 from seven would-be investors in less than three months, according to District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office.
Scahill, 41, told his investors he had secured the rights to opera star Kathleen Battle’s life story and that Lupita Nyong’o had signed on to star in a production about her at Broadway’s Booth Theatre, prosecutors said. He also told them Netflix would film the bogus show, dubbed The KB Project, and make it available online, according to prosecutors.
Scahill told his victims he was raising money for the show at a rate of $15,000 per share to fund the first stages of production, prosecutors said.
After a while, the investors wanted their money back, and Scahill sent them checks which bounced, prosecutors said. He had already spent it on stocks, options, credit cards, rent as well as food, alcohol and entertainment, according to prosecutors.
I wonder, were little old ladies involved?

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Corn Allergy Recipe -"Boston" "Baked" Black Beans

This isn't ordinarily the helpful hints/recipes/YouveBeenDoingThisWrongYouWholeLife! kind of blog, but I improvised a food prep that might be worth.

I like canned baked beans, or did when I was a child, but can't eat them due to my food allergy, as they virtually all have corn starch, or corn syrup, or distilled vinegar, (which is all made from corn in this country.)
I'm also lazy, and am not likely to make them from scratch, (dried beans are such a crap shoot, as to whether they will ever soften and if so, after how long,) or leave the oven on for as long as necessary.
I suppose between the sugar and the fat these aren't particularly healthy, but don't the black beans count for something?

1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp gritty bacon grease
(you know, not pure white, but with some of the pan "cracklings," or whatever they are called)
1 Tbsp tomato paste 
1 tsp apple cider vinegar 
S & P to taste 
Dash of cloves 
Dash of cumin 
Dash of cinnamon 
1/4 c. molasses 
1/4 c. Brown sugar 
2 cans of black beans, drained (and rinsed if they are very starchy) 
I cooked onion in the bacon grease first, but I suspect I could have just stirred it all together in the slow cooker at the same time.
I cooked it on high (very small, weak slow cooker,) for 4 hours, you can give it a stir half way through if you are feeling so inclined

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Receiving Communion, and Personal Preference

Our priest obviously does not care to distribute the Body of Christ by placing It on the tongue of the communicant.
I've noticed it especially lately as he will, when I reach the head of the line, (I'm sorry, it's not a procession, it's just a line,) quite deliberately return a Host to the ciborium, and instead take up the more sizable portion created when the large Host was broken at the fraction rite, the wedge shape giving him, as it were, a handle.
When I realized his discomfort, I thought for a moment about receiving in the hand whenever he has Mass, and I am seated in the section where I will most probably be in "his" lane. Perhaps he had a legitimate reason for his eccentric ways.
I've known priests, and EMHCs, too, who were shaky, or had bad eyesight, or were extremely short, and the palm of my hand is a bigger "target," and I have more leeway on where I put it.

But then I recalled overhearing someone, several years ago, speaking of how discomfited she was by "Father". This is someone I knew always did receive in the hand, and she thought he recoiled a bit as he proffered the Body of Christ, lest he touch the communicant.
"He DROPS the host in my hand, like he thinks he's going to catch something!" (And this is a woman with the state of whose hands a surgical nurse would find no fault.)
The other women in the convo affirmed that, yes, that was how he did it.

So I decided there was no reason I should worry about his preference.

But more recently there was a youngish woman ministering, a bit of a high maintenance type, and I was, frankly, disgusted by her long nails as I received, (not a good distraction,) and I decided if I were to find myself in "her" line I would receive in the hand.
Well, she approached the altar during the agnus dei this morning and stood on the side of the church on which I was kneeling, so I whipped out the purell for my hands - you see, I don't much care to consume food I have touched (I have a skin disease, there's almost always some foul-tasting medicine on my hands, and between the time I leave home and communion there's been a zillion door knobs, grungy hymnals and unavoidable contacts of various sorts.)

So "disinfected" hands at the ready, I made my way up toward the sanctuary and then found that they'd changed the formation, and I would be receiving from the priest.

And so I received on the tongue.

And now I'm feeling a little sheepish, since I was willing, for my own comfort, to forgo the manner which I find is more powerfully ritualistic, and yes, reverent BECAUSE  IT  TAKES  A  TINY  BIT  MORE  EFFORT  AND  ATTENTION -- but not for his comfort.

And I admit, I don't know why her grungy nails were such a big deal to me, I'm not bat-guano squeamish, I've come to terms with the Host tasting of Acqua di Gio, and I have eaten the Body of Christ off the floor more than once...

I don't know.
I should probably admit, I'm a little obsessed with motherhood and babies at the moment.

Another Cause of Climbing Maternal Mortality Rates?

This is a shocking article, and I would say shameful article on the rise, unique to the US, of death during or in consequence of childbirth.
It is horrifying that deaths are especially on the rise among black women.
But nowhere does it mention something about which I wondered - as infertility treatments become more common, less costly for the individual woman, (more likely payed for by insurance, in other words,) more sought after by people who in another era would be spinsters, isn't it possible that some of it is due to many a women not listening to her own body which has made it clear that it is not prepared, does not think it in its own best interest, it does not wish to carry a baby to term?
It's a thought.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Monsignor Pope on #AdOrientem

He speaks of the "Gamaliel Rule". I like that.
It's kind of the flip side of my attitude.
But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up…. “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. … In the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (Acts 5:34-39).
If it is not of God it will not gain adherents? (Though Islam indicates oterhwise.)
Likewise, if it attracts haters - it may be very powerful.