Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Monday, 29 June 2015

I Am Happy

 1.I am on my way to Pittsburgh for the CMAA Colloquium.

2. I was carded, and told , sorry but the stores policy is to card anyone who looks 40 or younger.
(Yes, I am that shallow, and I don't care if it occurred because people in Indiana have bad eyesight.)

Friday, 26 June 2015

"I don' thin' that word means what you thin' it means..." and Irreconcilable Differences

Since there are now irreconcilable differences between what Holy Mother Church means by the word "marriage" and what the state means when she pronounces it, mayhaps the time time has come to divorce the sacramental ritual from the legal folderol completely.

Two separate ceremonies, and a couple who wish to bind themselves together 'til death do them part but have no interest or need for financial and ownership entanglements, (I thinking, for instance, of widow and widower couples who meet and fall in love in their twilight years and are free to contract a Catholic marriage, but would like to continue their current tax statuses, and not upset the heirs from previous marriages,) should be able to ask a priest to witness their sacrament, and he should be willing to do so without requiring of them a piece of paper from city hall.

The break-up, divorce, if you will, of an unholy alliance between the Bride of Christ and civil governments may be "morally necessary."

Just my thoughts....

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Purgatory, Explained

God's mudroom.
(Filed under, Everything I Need To Know, I Learned From Better Homes and Gardens )

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Beauty, Goodness, Truth... on paper!

I am a procrastinator, and forgetful and careless and, .... sometimes, carefree.
(And since while I have quite a bit to do, most of it is on my own schedule or purely elective, so it doesn't matter and I can get away with my slovenly habits!)
Anyway, I've only just had time to sit down and look, really look at an email from 3 weeks ago, the newsletter of the artist and medievalist Daniel Mitsui, and my hand to God, some of it is so beautiful it hurts to look at it. My heart aches!
It is as if it were the physical embodiment of the splendor that Truth exhibits, and really, demands.

Just LOOK at this crown of thorns -
IMAGE
Or this "Christ in Majesty"-
CHRIST in MAJESTY
I think, (I hope,) this year I am going to be pretty much all right as far as finances go and I am really looking forward to giving a small print or two as Christmas gifts.
(This sounds crazy, but I was just thinking how marvelous a Daniel Mitsui coloring book would be... is that crazy?)

Being "Pastoral" and Being Fatherly

It's Fathers' Day, so, listening to Wagner, in honour of...

Frankly, needed to take a shower, a bit muddy from the rabbit hole down which I took a tumble.
Oh, Internet - the things you get me to do!

The Internet, God's gift to conspiracy theorists and extremists of all kinds.
And remember, the social fabric has fringe on all sides...

Sad to say, most of the muck from which I'm trying to extricate myself is written by my co-religionists.
You know, the left-wingers who think the Church is in thrall to the Democratic party, the right wingers who think She's in bed with the Republicans... a shameful way to think about your Mother, isn't it guys?
And a lot of the thought I was examining was NOT of recent vintage. La plus ca.... how do I make that little mark under the "c"? No matter.
In reading about hierarchical skulduggery, and backroom presbyteral politicking, I was struck, (not for the first time, since it has been a talking point for most of the commentary on Pope Francis and his appointments,) how people like to say, "we need men who are 'pastoral', not...."

Not what?
What is the opposite of pastoral? What do we think "pastoral" mean?

As a musician I was accustomed to hearing the word used approvingly as one of the "three judgments," in selecting and preparing music for liturgy - well, more than approvingly.
It is a most lop-sided stool,  we musicians are asked to sit upon, one leg is always favored, isn't it?

Yes, musical excellence; yes, liturgical appropriateness; but above all, pastoral sensitivity!

The which, far too often, boiled down to "give the people what they want!" (and just as important, don't give them what they don't...)

But anyone who's serious about the task, in other words, not an NPM adherent but an NMLPM adherent, were there such an animal, knows it is not a zero sum game.

It's not just with musicians - I think there's a tendency when "being pastoral" is proclaimed as the sine qua non of episcopal eligibility to forget that there's a lot more to shepherding than keeping the wolves at bay.

I'd wager any crook wielded by a shepherd worth his salt makes a helluva lot more contact with wool than with wolf.

But I don't know, do I? I've never met a shepherd, good or bad, (though I have had way more contact than was good for me with a particular sheep, or rather, with a "little lamb"  - smelly, noisy creatures who won't let an ingenue get on with her business!)

And I doubt I am alone in this. (In the non-acquaintance with shepherds, not in doing musical numbers with livestock.)

But most of us do have a pretty good acquaintance with a father, good or bad, and are better equipped to say what made him so, (mine was spectacularly good and I shall miss him every day until I die,) so I think that's a metaphor we in the first world could probably utilise more effectively in speaking of our bishops.
You wanna go play in traffic? Oh, okay, I don't care what ya do, it's all good.... gee, I love ya, kiddo!
Gosh, dang, I'm afraid we might hafta move, I drank up my paycheck, and there went the rent, but lemme give ya a big hug!

Sorry I forgot to teach you right from wrong, but we sure had some great times fishin', huh, Sport?

Friday, 19 June 2015

"A Different Pathology and a Different Remedy

I do not see his name anywhere, but my recollection is that Vultus Christi is written by Father Mark Kirby. (Incidentally, if you EVER have the opportunity to hear this man preach, or speak, but no - they are the same thing with him! - take it, SEIZE it.)

Something in ones situation changes, routines are broken, bookmarks lost, memory fails and one forgets to check in on writers who have been very important.
Glad to have remembered this.

Anyway, he is writing about the Troubles in Ireland, (you thought they were over with the Good Friday treaty? think again...) but like Pope Francis's demand that we ban all  air conditioning,* encyclical about "global warming", it is actually about a much broader subject.
People of goodwill are attempting to identify the root of Ireland’s [the world's]  spiritual pathology. Some would argue that it has to do with the cultural shift away from immutable objective values, and the consequent spiraling down into the tyranny of relativism. Others would wish for [a new] Savonarola to rouse sleepy consciences, denounce vice, and spearhead moral reform. Still others would wish for a new rising of intellectual insurgents and articulate theologians capable of appealing to reason: teachers of the true faith gifted with eloquence; orthodox catechists; zealous apologists...
I would identify a different pathology and propose a different remedy. Allow me, if you will, to relate a fact communicated to me not a fortnight ago. Two men well known to me attended Holy Mass — it was a Sunday — at a national shrine ... They returned disheartened by the manner in which the Holy Sacrifice was celebrated: the rushed pace of the sacred rites, the breezy disregard of the rubrics, and a general impression of liturgical minimalism. What shocked them most, however, was this: although the Mass was that of a Sunday in Paschaltide, the priest arbitrarily, and in flagrant violation of what the Roman Missal prescribes, omitted the Gloria of the Mass. You may be asking yourself, “What of it?  Is this not a mere detail in the bigger scheme of things. With all that is going on ... surely there is no need to get worked up over the fact that a priest deprived God and the people of the Gloria at a Sunday Mass”. I would argue that this omission of the Gloria at a Sunday Mass in a national shrine is patently symptomatic of Ireland’s [humanity's] spiritual pathology. One believes as one worships, and one acts as one believes. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. Worship is the ground of doctrine, and doctrine shapes morality.
The glory of God comes before all else....
One who is dismissive of the liturgical praise of the Most Holy Trinity will, inevitably, slide into a dismissive attitude with regard to Catholic doctrine; and one who is fuzzy about Catholic doctrine will, inevitably, descend into moral relativism and, ultimately, social chaos. The restoration of Ireland to Christ must begin — not in the media, nor in the schools, nor even in the pulpit — but at the altar. Not for nothing have some perceptive wits quipped that to save the liturgy is to save the world. This is, in fact, the teaching of the Second Vatican Council:
Every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree. . . . The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. (Sacrosanctum Concilium, articles 7 and 10)
Let me repeat Fr Kirby's words -
The glory of God comes before all else
So - why does the Liturgy matter?
Aren't there more important things for us to worry about, the corporal acts of mercy, for instance? the spiritual acts, works of charity, saving the environment? (sorry, had to throw that in.)

Well, in the immortal words of every stewardess and steward EVAH -
In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from above. If you are travelling with a child o anyone requiring your assistance, place your mask on first.
(You can't keep them safe if you are unconscious. Okay, maybe you could be of some use as a flotation device even when unconscious, but usually....)
You can't give what you don't have, you can't work on an empty stomach, you cannot give the Living Water to another if you haven't gone to the spring the Source, yourself; you can't celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass properly if you don't think it's important enough to get right, and you can't know how important it is if you don't understand Christ's Real Presence.

* I KID!!!! Do you hear? it's a JOKE. Just because some people choose to believe that's what his Holiness said, doesn't mean we can't all simply read the dang thing and see what he actually said.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

"We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good. When the foundations of social life are corroded, what ensues are battles over conflicting interests, new forms of violence and brutality, and obstacles to the growth of a genuine culture of care for the environment."

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

"Father" Benedict?

Alan Holdren has an article at Catholic News Agency about Papa Ratz's summer plans.
An honorary doctorate from the Pontifical University of John Paul II and its music academy, for Benedict’s “great respect for musical tradition of the Church” and “special concern for the noble beauty of sacred music and its proper place in the celebration of the sacred liturgical rites of the Church.”
Nice.
But this took me by surprise-
Benedict XVI – who now goes by “Fr. Benedict”
Who knew?

Cardinal Sarah on the Liturgy

Many thanks to Jeff Ostrowski for this round-up of wisdom and insight from the head of the CDW.
And since Jeff's title evokes a Lettermanesque approach to things, I will asnwer a rhetorical question of Fulton Sheen which appears in the email heralding this article - They say this.  They say that.  WHO ARE «THEY» ? - in viewer mail one night  Dave supplied the answer to this very question. In reply to the query, when they say "you know what they say" who's the "they" they mean? Dave told us. "The Van Pattens."
Image result for dick van patten
"You know what I say..."
Incidentally, I think he might be Catholic.
Van Patten, not Letterman.
I digress.

Anway, this was my favorite thing he, (Ostrowski, not Van Pattan,) said that he, (Sarah, not Letterman) said -
"When the Holy Father, Pope Francis, asked me to accept the ministry of Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, I asked: ‘Your Holiness, how do you want me to exercise this ministry? What do you want me to do as Prefect of this Congregation?’ The Holy Father's reply was clear. ‘I want you to continue to implement the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council,’ he said, ‘and I want you to continue the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI.'”

My Last Word On the Dolezal Affair, I Promise

(Unless, of course, it isn't.)
I have only just remembered -
From time to time, mostly in my teens, but extending into my 20s, in filling out forms, (nothing official, that I can recall,) I would write "white Afro-American," or "African American,"or "mixed" when asked for "race," based on the fact that there was a (very spurious,) family legend of a Hiberno-Norman antecedent who had a French crusader ancestor who took the long way home and brought back a wife from north Africa.
Girls who read too many novels are always looking for ways to romanticize their own saga.
(And look at what happened to poor Emma Bovary!)

"... to create ourselves anew!"

No, no, it's not Lent - apparently, arranging for your own "rebirth" is a thing.
And it is not only Catholics in Contemporary Ensembles who manage such a feat.
Now that's super power.
(I kid. I've been watching The Tick.)

But this is a sincere question about the acceptable ways of speaking about transgenderism, in this brave new world. 
As [a previously apparently male teenager,] 18, recovered from the surgery that changed her into a female, [emphasis added] she and her family talked about ....
Putting aside the question of whether this person can have "changed into a female", I thought the conventional, PC wisdom, per the Olympian formerly known as Bruce Jenner, was that transgendered persons simply are what they choose to, or feel they must, say they are, there is no "becoming", there is no "changing", and the surgery to remove and add parts is beside the point, and actually, completely optional.

What is the party line on that?
Is there a logic to it that I am just missing?

Happy Days are Here Again!

The Recession is Over!
Oh, wait, not that recession, (except, well, kinda):
WASHINGTON, June 17 (UPI) -- The birth rate in the United States increased one percent in 2014 over the previous year, giving analysts reason to believe the nation's economy is growing stronger.
A National Center for Health Statistics study, published Wednesday, found the surge in birth rate among women ages 15 to 44 was the first increase since 2007, widely considered the beginning of the recession. At the same time, the study found the teen birthrate dropped by nine percent, a record low.
I'm sure it has something to do with global warming, or immigration reform, or the prime rate, or something.
Because, you know, Malthus.

Image result for christmas present dickens
Oh God! to hear the Insect on 
the leaf pronouncing on the 
too much life among his hungry 
brothers in the dust!
But wait, the teen birthrate dropped, because... of what?during the recession girls decided that since their employment prospects were dim they might as well get pregnant, but now...?
I am confused.

And where are we vis a vis replacement rate? that's when fertility is at about 2.1 %, isn't it?
For every 1,000 women of childbearing years in 2014, there were 62.9 births up from 62.5 in 2013, the report said. The nation's total fertility rate -- a measure of how many children each woman is likely to have over her lifetime -- rose to 1.862 children from 1.858.
Hmm...

"Luvvie"

Those Interwebs are good for expanding ones vocabulary.
Thanks to the Catholic Herald, I have now looked into the meaning of "luvvie," and it seems about right.

A piece by Madeleine Teahan, (I adore British names, don't you? even real ones sound as as if they could be Dickensian, or Byatt-esque,) explores why celebrity actors are all on board with everyone going Young Werther, or Lupe Velez:
the luvvie attraction to assisted suicide goes much deeper than a mere yearning for control. Explaining his support for the practice, [someone of whom I'm afraid I have never heard] said: “The issue is not really of death but of how you live out that last chapter, those last sentences.” Luvvies, you see, regard death as the final scene in their personal drama, and that is why they take their departure extremely seriously.

Whew!

Well, that's a relief.
According to PBS's Frontline Homophobia Quiz Questionnaire,
Your score rates you as "high-grade non-homophobic." 
Not quite sure what the "high-grade" means, but I'm certain it is a complement.
FRONTLINE has reproduced this "Wright, Adams, and Bernat Homophobia [by which they mean "negative, sometimes pathological, reactions to homosexuals by heterosexuals",] Scale." It is not a perfect measure of anti-gay feelings or ideas, and is not a predictor of potential for anti-gay violence.
I find these things irresistible - What Does Your Favorite Color Say About You? What Jane Austen Heroine Are You? What Religion Should You Belong To?

(For the record, maroon means I have great depths, Anne Elliot and Roman Catholic with a side of Orthodox and Quaker.)
( I know, I was just as surprised as you.)

"The Older, Deeper, Wiser Instincts of the Heart"

Image result for fifties housewife comic book curtains
I ordered drapes, but when they came, we opened the box and there was a big slub, a flaw in the fabric, so we didn't even take them out of the box, so we'll just keep the ones we have, for now....
Oh, wait, did I say "drapes"? No, not drapes. I meant to say "a baby".

I mean, that is what is done, right?
Aren't we entitled to perfection, especially when we've waited all this time, and sometimes padi good money?
Thankfully, not always.

But the goddess of Medicine  may have found a new way to keep the little woman from making "mistakes."
(Laudata si, Angitia! )

What kind of mistakes, you ask?
the baby has spina bifida. Knowing that this is one of the conditions easily detected during pregnancy, I asked if the couple had known about it. “Oh yes,” he said. And of course they were immediately offered a termination. They refused. I should add that the young couple referred to have no religious beliefs. But this was their first baby and they were instinctively determined to hold on to her. The latest news is that she was operated on almost straight after her birth to close the gap in her spine, and she is now “kicking vigorously” – a hopeful sign for the future.
Events like this happen all the time. An amniocentesis or other test is administered during pregnancy, a serious (or occasionally not so serious, like a cleft lip or club foot) condition is picked up and then the couple is offered the “solution” – a quick termination; problem solved. Some parents reject it, not necessarily for religious reasons, but because they listen to the older, deeper, wiser instincts of the heart: this is our baby; we will love him/her, whatever the future holds. Others, less confident, more vulnerable to all the medical and emotional pressure put on them, believing the propaganda of a bleak future for them and their baby, succumb to what is seen as a routine medical procedure.
I mention all this because of the recent headline in the Telegraph: “Blood test for Down’s babies may save lives.” My heart always sinks when I read this kind of news – an odd response really, given the brilliant medical breakthroughs of the last 50 years which have saved countless lives. But I have a daughter with Down’s syndrome and I know that this new blood test is never intended to save the lives of babies like her; indeed it will probably prove to be a more efficient way of weeding out such babies earlier in pregnancy. The babies who will be “saved” are all those who die by misadventure from miscarriage due to the nature of the tests. Apparently there are 300 such babies lost every year in this country. According to Professor Lyn Chitty from the UCL Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital: “There will be significant savings resulting from a decrease in invasive testing while increasing the detection of affected babies. [It] also means there will be a reduction in miscarriages and loss of unaffected babies which is much better for parents.”
Phillips goes onto speak of the trauma and depression mothers who abort for such reason are subject to, and the push to prevent relevant stats from being bruited about.
Even when studies  that note ill effects of abortion on women, or absence of ill effects on women who don't have abortions are publicized, I find the denial astounding.
The NYTimes had a ludicrous piece where they noted that while, yes, women who sought abortions and were denied them later report being happy with how things turned out, they simply MUST have been hiding their true feelings, trying to put a good face on things, pretending they were okay when they weren't!
(Whereas women who have abortions, and later declare themselves happy? can you imagine the outcry if the author had suggested that THAT group was hiding their true feelings, trying to put a good face on things, and pretending they were okay when they weren't?)

Monday, 15 June 2015

"Gadaph"

I probably ought to learn how to use "do not link" and such... what? devices? is that what that is? procedures? websites?

Whatever.
I am growing increasingly dismayed at the ugliness and vitriol from people with whom I essentially agree.

No sooner do I leave a site where, yeah, I'm interested to have learned a new word, ("nithing,") but appalled that it was applied to our co-religionists; than an email pops up in my inbox offering a free "Verbal Abuse Chart".
"Hmmmm, well there's a funny thing, say I. What in the wide world of sports is a "Verbal Abuse Chart"? Instructions for the kindly, the meek-mouthed?
No, it is a Biblical approach, courtesy of some of our separated brethren, to identifying and dealing with the problem.
(I wish  it had a little more advice for the abuser, since I am wont to use my words ill, but you can't have everything, if you did, where would you put it?)
So, a second new word learned!

The Hebrew word for revile is gadaph, from a root word that means “cut” or “wound.”
Nithing is word from Norse lore referring to an exceptionally vile, despicable person - a person completely without honour. Examples include murderers and oathbreakers. 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Calling Laurence Fox and Kevin Whately!

Or rather, the producers of "Lewis".

Does this situation not seem like a tailor-made, (should I say "bespoke"?) milieu for an episode?
A group of pompous, nasty Oxford students?
They'd be so unlikable you'd really want one of them to be the murderer, less so that justice be meted out than to see the self-righteous child get her come-uppance; and then when one becomes a victim you have to confront your own blood-thirsty vindictiveness.
Damian Thompson meets James Hathaway!
The-
hard core of a feminist cult ...has gripped Oxford and makes life miserable for hundreds of undergraduates across the university. The cult uses Facebook to snoop on students who aren’t ‘proper’ feminists. It tries to force young women to use its extreme rhetoric and denounces them if they don’t.
Its digital tirades can poison college life. One young woman told me that new friends she’d made at Oxford suddenly shunned her in the dining hall after the word went out that she held ‘incorrect’ views on women’s rights. (She was so worried about repercussions that she asked me not to mention which area of women’s rights she felt strongly about.)
I’m going to call the cult ‘Country Living’. That’s not quite accurate: it’s actually spelled without the ‘o’, a gynaecological pun that’s the only evidence of a sense of humour you’ll find among its leaders. I reckon calling it Country Living will make them cross. Which, to be fair, is not difficult. These lasses are very, very cross all the time. If there was an Oxford blue for taking offence, they’d be champions.
Country Living is an internet cult that polices behaviour both online and offline. Its manifesto can be read by anyone who visits its page on the blogging platform Tumblr, which is mocked up to look like a 1970s student magazine. Here we learn that anyone can become a C-word, which is a badge of honour, not a term of abuse. Those four letters have been ‘reclaimed’ by the group. (Like feminists everywhere, Country Living does a lot of reclaiming.)
But to earn this honour you must pass tests as severe as the binge-drinking initiation rituals of an all-male Oxford dining society. You must promise to ‘accept that gender is a social construction and embrace its fluidity’. You must ‘recognise your place and privilege within intersectionality’.
Why are so many of the dumbest movements arising nowadays left-leaning? They give liberality a bad name.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

The Food of Love? Then Morricone is a Master Chef!

Shakespeare seems to have meant sexual love when he described music as "the food of love," but there are so many more, and greater kinds of love, aren't there?
And there is music that can be, in a small way, source and summit for them.
There is no question that music can stir the emotions, (melt the heart, as Aquinas might say,) or that music, singing specially is the natural outpouring of the expression of these various loves.

True liturgical music must be our love song to God.

I was watching a movie on tv last weekend, didn't realize the entire thing would not be broadcast then and there, (going out, have to ask Himself to DVR the final part tonight.)
Knew nothing about this biopic of Padre Pio 'til I turned it on.
I am generally leery of foreign films on EWTN, they are sometimes rather cheesy, even second -rate, sorry to say, if it's a subject that interests me I'll stick it out, but...

And here's another matter, because of the way all but American films generally record sound, there's a real distancing that occurs, with me at any rate, I have trouble really engaging - the artificiality is more pronounced, the voices less "present" seem less real, and sometimes the dubbing is just plain bad either in acting or synchronicity.
At my most pretentious in artsy student days I probably saw more foreign films than I did Hollywood product, so I learned to usually disregard this, (the way I did static on the radio, or the sound of vinyl, or the fighting of my brothers three feet away while I was reading, ;oD) but it's still a thing.

Anyway, this started out pretty well done, I liked the gruffness of the actor in the title role, I liked the depiction of the dangers of cult of personality, I liked that for a, literal, hagiography it wasn't hagiographic, someone had put real effort into the voice casting.... and then the music welled up and I thought, "Well, A picture, A+ picture production values!"

And so it was - a quick check on IMDB revealed that the score was by none other than the peerless Ennio Morricone.

What a treasure this man is!

I have bemoaned for years and years, why doesn't HE write for the Church? why hasn't HE composed Masses and Vespers and Hymns? why won't HE...

And now I learn that he has, at long last!
Thank you, Papa Francesco, thank you, Society of Jesus, for inspiring that!
Image result for gesu church rome
(Have to go listen to it now...)

Friday, 12 June 2015

So Sex is an Artificial Construct But Race Is Not?

Or at least, if not artificial, fluid, and ultimately dependant on the preference of the individual?
Why is this news?
I thought the world at large had decided we all had to affirm whatever descriptors anyone applied to... oh, I hate for the numbers not to agree, but... themself.
Isn't that how this guy person was allowed to beat the living daylights out of women in MMA?
Image result for fallon fox
(I should be upfront about that fact that I find women's MMA disgusting anyway. Actually, I find MMA disgusting, period.)
If Caitlynn Jenner dresses as a woman and the politically correct world is required to honor this choice, (in fact, a bot may chase down those on the internet who use the wrong pronoun for Jenner,) is there any particular reason Ms. Dolezal can't self-identify as black?
Image result for Rachel DolezalImage result for bruce jenner as a woman
Traditionally, one might choose a reductio ad absurdum argument in debate with those whose viewpoints were at odds with ones own, but it seems to me some people on one side of this particular question are supplying one ready made to the opposition.

If you have long hair and live near a Dollar Tree...

... they have those DNA-shaped hair pins.
Image result for hair pins twisted
Yes, for a dollar. (There are also bobby pins and elastics included in what the packaging describes as "Hair Bun Set.")
Anyway, they are brilliant and you'll never get them for less.

Like the news, only important...

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