Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Saturday, 20 December 2014

I Suppose There's Such a Thing as Being TOO Consciencious

Two prison camp guards who refused to take part in any executions have lost their legal battle to be treated as ‘conscientious objectors’. The country's highest court overturned a previous ruling made in favour of the two guards, after a German health authority urged it to overturn last year’s decision of the Court of Session in the case.
The ruling is likely to mean that the guards will now have to supervise gassing carried out by other staff, as part of their terms of employment, although they will still be free to refuse to carry out the terminations themselves.
The case centres on the scope of the right to conscientious objection under the Extermination Act 1937, which provides that “no person shall be under any duty ... to participate in any actions authorised by this Act to which he has a conscientious objection”
As conscientious objectors, the two senior guardss have had no direct role in murders, but they claim they should also be entitled to refuse to delegate, supervise and support staff involved in the procedures.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Frank Finlay ROCKS! (and he chains and strong-boxes and keys and shackles...)

I was doing a little baking, and there was nothing we cared to watch on TV, so when Himself suggested we begin Scrooge-apalooza, I suggested a version not in my top faovrites' list, since it woudln't have my undivided attention.

Yeah, right....

I mean, Christmas Carol! Even if not ,a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044008/?ref_=nv_sr_2">Christmas Carol,
still... CHRISTMAS Carol!

And while George C. Scott, fine actor though he was, misses the mark entirely, (not to mention that his Scrooge enjoying life so much forces the usually impeccable Roger Rees to be woeful as Nephew Fred,) as does the obviously-in-no-fear-whatever-of-unemployment Cratchit of David Warner, the 1984 version has its own delights.

Chief among them are Frank Finlay as Marley, and the late, great Edward Woodward as Christmas Present.

Both of them OWN their roles.
And Woodward owns his without qualification or challenge, (whereas Marley has been played well by a few other people, all very different but valid interpretations - Hordern, Lloyd, Carroll... heck, Guinness is hysterically funny and entertaining flouncing his way through the role.)

The Tiny Tim is also frighteningly perfect, yes, too young, and reads his lines like a six year old, but perfect somehow, nonetheless, (although I do miss the sass of the family dynamic in the 1999 version, where Tim is teased lovingly as are all the children, instead of being treated like Mother Teresa.)
Every time I watch it I think he's going to die before they finish filming.

I was sure I had looked this up before, but apparently not, I'd been telling people that that was Anthony Walter's only credit, maybe they HAD cast him out of a sick ward, and then returned him to his bed, (Himself gave me side-eye and asked, you mean like Max Shreck really WAS a vampire?)

No, not just Tiny Tim, but the little actor playing him "did NOT die."

Looking for Love in All the Right Places?

First Things has a little tribute to a writer I did not know, (but am certainly going to look into,) Phillip Trower.
I found this, words spoken to him by a don, utterly arresting:
“You will never find love until you find it in the tabernacle.” 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Meaning of Reverence, or rather, of Irreverence

In the thread from which the contempt for his predecessors in the Faith below
is cited, one commentator has this gem:
the person who accuses other people, liturgies, etc. of irreverence is not being reverent.
So, if you object to the couple making out in the back of the nave, you are  being irreverent.
If you find someone reading the newspaper and eating Fritos during Mass it is you who are being irreverent.*
Have I got that right?
If I'm being all judgey I'm not being reverey.
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.' 

*Just to let you know- I'm not making these examples up. Alas, I don't need to.

Some "Catholics" Simply Hate Catholicism...

...and perhaps Catholics.
And perhaps themselves.
reasons why there has been a drop in Catholic practice from the heady days of the 1950s, it seems clear that a major part of this is because Catholics have becoming a thinking people....
Today’s Catholics are far better educated than previous generations (surely a cause for rejoicing) and their understanding of their faith is therefore that much stronger. But with that has come a disregard for the old maudlin, sentimental ways, which were always accretions. Catholics don’t do blind obedience any more, nor do they do excessive devotions. They examine the tenets of faith and test them — sometimes to destruction. They prefer strong, clean modes and houses of worship, rather than over-ornamented rococo stylings and buildings full of stuff.
(Of course that is not yet universally true. One has only to look at the very clear differences between, say, the Anglo and Latino communities in the States.)....(I believe the writer is British, but he seems to have formed, and is unafraid to express, rather ugly opinions of Americans.)
For my money, this is why Francis is such a good thing ... His problem, of course, is that he is trying to make up for lost time — the 50 years of lost time since Vatican II during which back-pedallers have tried to put the toothpaste back in the tube. (at least he seems to know that what he himself has extruded into the Catholic world is the musical and liturgical equivalent of toothpaste. Forget putting it back into the tube - rinse it down into the sewers.)
So there you have it.

A man once entrusted with the liturgical practice of an entire diocese believes that Catholics no longer practice their faith because they are thinking.
nd they have.... thought better of it?

Well, at least he's honest, he sees no value in the practice of Catholicism. You know, for thinking people.

h/t to Jeff Ostrowski
I knew there was a reason I had stopped reading certain blogs.

Happy Birthday and Way to Go, Holy Father!

"The Pope made a personal plea to President Barack Obama and Cuban leaders in a letter this summer, writing that the two nations should try to reset their relations after decades of friction.
"I want to thank His Holiness, Pope Francis, whose moral example shows us the importance of pursuing the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is," Obama said Wednesday as he announced the U.S. policy shift on Cuba."

Of Christmas Carols and Dirty Old Men

Because I am constitutional incapable of "staying on task" as one urges little children nowadays, having finally gotten two packages mailed off, I set about arranging music for the caroling.

And carols lead me to folk music which lead me to Percy Grainger, which lead me to this, from his autobiography:
Altho she insisted she liked the personality of Christ, as a man, & altho she sometimes... said she had religious feelings, [Mother] was unwavering in her dislike of any portion of the Bible..."Be a good fellow & don't read to me from that awful depressing book." She was truly fond of Mrs McGee, & at times maybe somewhat influenced by Mrs McGee's Catholicism..."If I had to join any church, I think it would be easiest for me to join the Catholic church. I like the way Mrs. McGee is willing to sit in church beside any dirty old man.

Here comes everybody indeed!

Monday, 15 December 2014

"As Anyone Who’s Paying Attention Knows, All Men Are Capable Of Rape ..."

In the past few days I have read a great deal about rape, what people believe to be true about rape.

Because a number of close friends and immediate family members of mine belong to groups/professions/races/genders/communities that seem to have a party line to toe on the subject I have heard a great amount of contradictory opinion expressed as "fact" in the past few days.

Let me assure you, no one with whom I am in contact has any first hand knowledge whatever of the actual facts of a number of cases that have been in the news, but that has not put any damper on twit. face, cocktail chatter...

So I was just curious as to what if anything could be definitively said of certain news stories, and I have fallen down a rabbit hole.

And I came across several accounts of a false allegation of rape made against a singer..celebrity? I had never heard of him, but I don't listen to that kind of music.

Anyway, said singer is apparently gentle and awkward and sensitive, (not to mention, mightily forgiving.)

Okay, fine.
But this:
Awkward and sensitive is all well and good, but as anyone who’s paying attention knows, all men are capable of rape.
Let me rephrase.
ALL men?
Can you imagine in the wake of recent events someone saying, "All Muslims are capable of terrorism and hostage taking"?
Or, "All Blacks are capable of rioting and looting"?
"All  Republicans are capable of torture'?
"All Catholic are capable of child abuse"?

Or, to keep it in the realm under discussion, "All women are capable of falsely accusing a man of rape."

Yeah, how about that?

Would all right-thinking people jump up and down and scream about tarring the innocent with such a broad brush?
I surely hope so.

So how can anyone say something so stupid as that all men are capable  o such a heinous act?
All types, perhaps, all personalities, men from all walks of life...
But "all men?"

Not just no, but HELL no.

I dunno, you tell me....

Donna Karan Pre-Fall
Sometimes things remind me of other things...

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Movies for Christmastide

In some matters I am a little prickly about not celebrating Christmas until Christmas, but at the nursing home, (where Himself agreed, "those people need as much Christmas as they can get,") it being Gaudete, and very few of our congregants knowing what year it is, much less day, instead of our usual closing hymn I suggested Joy to the World this morning, and was glad -  they sang up a storm.

But it is too early to begin Scroogeapalloza, (especially since we have no new versions this year,) and while the fruitcake is macerating, not a cookie has been baked yet.

HOWEVER -- I think it might be nice to watch The Holly and the Ivy one of my favorite Christmas movie, this evening.
An adult film, that takes faith seriously, (yes, it's a hundred years old...)
Beautiful performances, beautiful actors, (some of whom I knew before this movie, but Margaret Leighton, for instance?
Why wasn't she a huge, huge star?
 Margaret Leighton 1959.JPG
I know she died young, but she could have been, probably should have been, in Night of the Iguana.....

I had made a VHS recording of the movie decades ago whne it was shown on a local PBS station, but Himself finally found a DVD last year.

Get it.
Watch it. (I have a brother who won't watch "films" only "movies," he says. This is a film, by his reckoning, but it is woderful, nothing stuffy or pretentious, and  full of charm and wit and, mostly-- love.)

Friday, 12 December 2014

Eyes of Newt, Blind Wom's Sting, and Figgy Pudding

I like to eat.
I like to drink.

There, I said it.
I have tendencies toward gluttony, but I do believe that God made food delicious out of His providential love for us.

One of the things* I love about the holiday season - and I do mean the holiday season, not Christmas, but this entire part of the year, is the availability at not too great a cost, of food and drink in which one might not ordinarily indulge, in which one might not be able to indulge.

I don't roast a turkey, but I am very glad others in my family do. Mulled wine? what a treat! The supermarket has, for a short time, a luscious Red Leicester for only a few pennies more than a block of generic American cheese. And don't get me started on the glory that is a well made and well-seasoned fruitcake, (if your experiences have only led you to think that fruitcake is a brick-like joke of a food, I bemoan your deprivation, and pity your ignorance.)

One of the things I love about the foods of festivity is that they often merely require a little extra care, one unaccustomed technique, an unlikely combination of relatively every-day ingredients, or a single out-of-the-ordinary foodstuff.

The same goes for drinks - a drop of cassis transports a mediocre white wine, for instance.

But having said all that,  really....  what is one to make of ingredient lists such as these?allspice dram, honey syrup, amaro, Mezcal, bitters of Turin, Black Walnut Bitters, brown butter washed whisky?(not that almost everything doesn't taste better when browned butter is involved...)
I mean, I'm a lover of sissy drinks, but com'on - I'm not even all these ingredients actually exist.

Although not long ago I would have thought maple-bacon flavored liqueur was imaginary, too.

*I actually made a list, ranking them, in order to more intelligently be able to discuss "the reason for the season" with my CCD kids. The groaning board and exotic beverages was in seventh place.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Sacra Liturgia USA 2015

A remarkable line-up for the Sacra Liturgia USA 2015 conference has been announced to be held in June of next year:
Dom Phillip Anderson, OSB (Clear Creek Abbey)
Living the Liturgy: The Monastic Contribution to Liturgical Renewal

Raymond Cardinal Burke
Beauty in the Sacred Liturgy and the Beauty of a Holy Life

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (San Francisco)
Liturgical Leadership in a Secular Society: A Bishop’s Perspective

Rev. Dr. Richard Cipolla (St. Mary’s Church, Norwalk, Connecticut)
Liturgy as the Source of Priestly Identity

Dr. Jennifer Donelson (St. Joseph’s Seminary, New York)
Addressing the Triumph of Bad Taste: Church Patronage of Art, Architecture, and Music

Rev. Dr. Matthew Ernest (St. Joseph’s Seminary, New York)
The Formation of Priests in the “Spirit and Power of the Liturgy” (SC 14): An Assessment of the Implementation of the Constitution and Proposals for the Liturgical Formation of Priests in the 21st Century.

Dr. Michael Foley (Baylor University, Waco, Texas)
The Reform of the Liturgical Calendar: The Reduction of Recapitulation

Mr. Gregory Glenn (Madeleine Choir School, Salt Lake City, Utah)
Liturgical Music is Non-negotiable

Dr. Margaret Hughes (Mount Saint Vincent University, New York)
Beauty as Educative?: Liturgy, Evangelization, and Catechesis

Rev. Thomas Kocik (Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts)
The Reform of the Reform

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski (Wyoming Catholic College)
The Reform of the Lectionary

Mr. Matthew Menendez (Juventutem Boston)
Youth and the Liturgy

Dr. Lauren Pristas (Caldwell University, Caldwell, New Jersey)
The Reform of Liturgical Texts of Principal Feast Days (Collects)

Rev. Dr. Dom Alcuin Reid (Monastère Saint-Benoît, Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France)
Holy Week Reforms Revisited

Rev. Dr. Christopher Smith (Prince of Peace Parish, Taylors, South Carolina)
Liturgical Formation and Catholic Identity

Rev. Dr. Allan White, OP
An embarrassment of riches!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Advent - Who is Waiting For Whom?

"Today, the word is WAITING.
"The way we wait for Christmas, God's chosen people waited for ages, looking and hoping for the Messiah.
"But you know who else is waiting?
"God waits for us... remember the story about the Prodigal Son, and how his father was waiting, and looking for him? 
"That's the way God is waiting for us to come to Him -- and we can do it now, in the Mass... in Confessions, in prayer....."
I am less beat up by CCD since I began a conscious effort not to be goal oriented, for I realized that that way lay madness.
Instead, I use the book's chapter order as an outline, these are the topics to which they need to be exposed, I settle on a single word or short phrase as an umbrella under which to discuss the topic, ("waiting," of course, was about Advent,) and then I devise a half dozen or eight ways in which to approach it.
We briefly touch on what we did the previous class, and then I throw a whole lot of stuff against the wall and see what sticks.
If we get around to half of my little stratagems that's a lot, and sometimes we begin something and it instantly bombs, and I just bail on it, (that happened with a movie once, strangely - IMpreviousE, humans of that age were absolutely hypnotized by any moving lights on any screen of an size.  Oh well...)
What this means in practice is that I do a lot of work and a lot of preparation that I never even try out, much less see if it works.

Word searches and scrambles, crafts, stories, Simon Peter Says, skits, scripture scavenger hunts, faith sharing, game shows, coloring, team quizzes... and of course, whatever I've planned for, the third of the class that might truly enjoy that way of learning will be absent, and I will have a group that would rather die than stand up in front of the class and and read lines, or can't draw a straight line if their lives depended on it, or are so unchurched that they don't know there are ten commandments much less what they might be.

On the other hand.... the kid who has been giving me the most trouble all year suddenly knows the answer to every question, and is paying attention to everything.

I also try to work in terms and expressions that I know they haven't a ghost of a chance of knowing, throwing them away without explanation, because I am a firm believer in taking advantage of the fantastic, elastic memories of the young.
Hearing the right words and becoming accustomed to them is important.
The mysteries of the Faith are beyond their understanding? they are beyond everyone's understanding.
But not exposing them to them is a certain path to ignorance.
It is all of a piece with depriving the people of God of the liturgical music that is their birthright.
And I feel very strongly that the best and the brightest have been repelled for too long by never being presented with anything that would challenge even the least capable student in the slightest.
So there have to be at least nuggets in the big mess of pottage that we're offering them that can engage those that could do more than coloring and stories and singing nursery rhymes.

Veiled Threats

So...  I wore a mantilla yesterday.
Himself thought it was beautiful.
I think the priest may have done a take.

No, not that extreme, just a little boggle.
But since calling attention to oneself is kinda sorta the antithesis of veiling, (not that I have any problem with doing so in the regular course of events, I am an attention hound, in fact,) I'll probably go back to hats at this parish.

Siste Mary Martha, (great blog, when did I stop remembering to read it?) had a post on the topic some time ago, with a bit of wisdom that had never occurred to me,
There was never a rule in the church that women had to wear a hat, because women were already wearing  hats.  You won't find a rule that says you have to wear clothing to church, because everyone already does that.

The Glory That Was Grease

Krug's tavern, a dive in the (perfectly safe,) Ironbound district of Newark, NJ makes a might fine cheeseburger.
This is not a concoction for foodies, but rather a weapon-grade amalgam of ground beef, American cheese and onions, on a bun that can barely contain its awesome might.
It's a sports bar, so it was important, and gratifying to learn, Yankees not Mets.

I am not going to tell you that on my so far only visit, I ordered and demolished, (what I only later discovered was,) a three quarter of a pound patty.
I would be ashamed for anyone to know that.
So I'm not going to say it.
No one must know that I made such short work of a 12 ounce burger that if anyone else in the party had left so much as a morsel on his plate, I would have said,
... you gonna finish that?

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Mission Country

I was futzing around on the USCCB sites, and a document entitled "Guidelines for Receiving Pastoral Ministers" caught my eye.

"Receiving ministers"? what does that mean?

So, I follow a link... oh.

There's a book, for the love o'mike, a whole little booklet on how to go about finding, acquiring, vetting and credentialing priests and religious from other countries to serve in this nation.

When I was little my sister who was going to college in Florida wrote home, and  laughed about all the Irish priests here, "They're missionaries! They think the US is still mission territory!"

You know, we laughed, because we're a backward land, without resources. We need to import our religious, ha ha ha ha ha ha.....

And so we do.

Not laughing now.


I don't really know anything of Scott Hahn, seen a few minutes of him here and there on EWTN, but I just about did a full on spit-take when I saw this headline in Eye of the Tiber. (It's a few months old, but I had missed it till now.)
New Scott Hahn Drinking Game Has Readers Taking Shot After Every Mention Of Word “Covenant”
Steubenville, OH––A new, dangerous drinking game invented by Franciscan University of Steubenville sophomore Ben Johnson, known as Covenant, is sweeping Catholic universities. The game, which involves players reading any book ever published by Scott Hahn, and then taking a shot of whiskey or beer every time the word “covenant” is mentioned, is raising major concerns with university officials.
What originally started out as fun for some has now turned dangerous, officials are reporting, with one man listed in critical condition and at least 47 others being admitted to area hospitals for alcohol poisoning. Now health professionals are warning Catholics of the dangers of playing Covenant.
“This is one of, if not the most, lethal games I’ve ever come across,” said Dr. Candice Jarvis, medical adviser to the USCCB. “The thing about alcohol is that it affects your ability to recognize how many times Scott Hahn uses the word “covenant,” and it absolutely effects your ability to ask the question of whether or not there are any synonyms of the word he could be using. You go into the game thinking the word will be read two or three times, and next thing you know you’re on your 26th shot after just a few paragraphs. I’d even venture to say that it would be safer if students took a shot after every mention of the word ‘the.’”
When Trivial Pursuit was new(-ish) the standing joke in my family was that if you didn't know the answer you still had a good shot at getting it right by shouting out either "Reykjavik!" or "contract bridge!"

Well, there's a kid in my class who loves to shout out answers to questions, but not to actually bother think before he does so.
Every week there is a single word or short phrase on the board for that weeks topic, as well as another for whatever we discussed the previous week, and whatever those words are, he latches on to one of them and volunteers it as the answer to whatever I've asked, regardless of sense.

For two weeks now, it's been "covenant."


"This one's covenant, right?"

"I'm gonna guess covenant."


"Covenant, it's covenant!"

"I'm sure it's covenant!"

If I'd been doing shots, I'd have alcohol poisoning.

Sartorially Challenged Catholic

I like a skinny-legged jean.

Shouldn't be a problem but most such are also low-rise.

I hate low-rise trousers. They are ugly, flirting on the edge of indecent, and since the top edge sits below the widest part of the torso, they must depend on tightness, (and friction, I suppose,) to hold them up.
If they are tight enough to stay up most of the time, the waistband must actually create an indentation where one does not naturally occur on the body, with the inevitable result of muffin top, and the probable result of indigestion.

More fashion-forward brands now offer high-rise skinnies, but they tend toward stupidly over-priced.

And why is the material in women's jeans  hardly ever as sturdy as that used in men's?

So, I who need to re-read the instructions just to remember how to sew on a button, or even thread a needle, I decide I will buy a good, long-wearing, sturdy, will-survive-the-nuclear-holocaust, rivet-sporting, they-should-make-fish-scaling-gloves-out-of-this pair of jeans, put a little tuck in the waistband and take in the legs.

Oh, they look great, I'm so pleased with myself, think I'm so smart....

Trouble is, the fabric in women's jeans, especially skinnies, almost invariably has some spandex in the blend, whereas the serge de Nimes in heavy-duty, stand-up-to-real-work mens' is all cotton.

So the first time I go to genuflect in them, I discover that my knee just won't bend that far and I do a face plant.

Yes, first world problem, but still.... (and don't scold me, I wasn't wearing them to Sunday Mass.)

‘Wearing the Veil’ on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

My poor husband will probably feel uncomfortably conspicuous, and it's the most minimalist  of Ordinary Form Masses at the most casual of parishes that we will attend, (and need I add? nary a word of Latin is ever spoken or sung,) --  but I'd been thinking about wearing a veil to Mass Monday morning.

Frankly, if I do we shall actually be less conspicuous than usual, since I am "that one that wears a hat," to most of my fellow parishioners.

Nicely, this is an initiative on colleges, not something started by crones like me. I did wear a hat or veil to Church as a little one, but I don't remember when we stopped. Pretty sure we all went bare-headed by the time of my Confirmation, (don't remember First Communion.)

Was women covering and men uncovering in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament something that had the force of law at any point, or was it mere custom?

This is a question I have about so many of what I have come to realize seemed arbitrary changes in the wake of the Council.

The question of when Christmastide ends, for instance - I know, I know, it's the Baptism of our Lord now, but prior to that, was it officially or only customarily anything different?

Anyway, in one of the Rose's bureaus there was a mantilla in a little case, and I think I shall veil.

"But if one went to them from the dead, they will ....."

.... they will what? check out this cool site you've linked to? buy male enhancement drugs?

I get a LOT of spam, (AOL, doncha know...) but I think today is the first time I received  a missive from the dead, or at least under the name of a loooooong dead acquaintance


What ever you put on Those Interwebs does last forever.

Maybe the spammers are biblical scholars and figured that fulfilling the pleas of Dives in Luke 16 would make their sales pitch irresistible.

Like the news, only important...