Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Novena

Feast of St. Andrew

Hail and blessed be the hour
And moment in which the Son of God
Was born of the most pure Virgin Mary,
At midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.

In that hour vouchsafe, O my God,
To hear my prayer and grant my desires,
Through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ,
And of His Blessed Mother.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Keep it Real

The other day I was talking to someone about the recent high-grossing Twilight film, which is based on a young-adult vampire-romance novel. Word had gotten around that the Pope condemned the movie -- which, it turns out, is not accurate; it was other folks in Rome who had expressed reservations about the novels, the movies, and the author because of the dubious morality of the tales and the frequent recourse to occult devices (I wonder if the latter is of concern in part because of the increase in satanism around the globe).

Matters at the Vatican notwithstanding, I'll keep my distance from a story about a vampiric psychopath who manages to control his murderous cannibalistic impulses for love of the young protagonist. Having known a number of women who remained in abusive relationships because they thought they could "help" a boyfriend/fiancé/husband with anger management issues, I don't care at all for dangerously unrealistic love tales in which the animalistic love interest is portrayed as actually a heroic sort if you just get to know him. To put the matter in terms of everyday reality: how many teenage girls are going to internalize the finer points of Meyer's tales by staying too long in damaging relationships, imagining they can change an abuser by their love and fidelity?

The again, another popular show these days is Dexter, which presents audiences with the murderous antics of a serial killer afflicted by perfect possession who preys on other serial killers -- he's a sociopath with a heart. By comparison, one could argue, a bloodthirsty vampire who shows heroic restraint is a step up.

No doubt. More significantly, no doubt a society engrossed with such dark fantasies is seriously out of touch with reality.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Let's Scrabble

I asked Dad whether I should bring his Scrabble board with me when I returned to the hospital to see him tomorrow.

He gave me an incredulous look.

"I fully expect to be trounced," I said.

"As you should," he replied.

Dad's Arena

The Scrabble board is an arena where Dad consistently excels. Colleagues routinely reach for a dictionary when he speaks; his gift for writing is likewise extraordinary.

"Did you know that 'Aa' is a word?" he asked.

"Do you mean as an acronym for Alcholics Anonymous?"

"No, it's a Hawaiin word for a type of volcanic rock."

"Has it made its way into the the standard American lexicon?"

"I don't know, but it is in the Scrabble official dictionary."

"Great," I said.

"The letters 'Ae' and 'Ai' are also words in the dictionary," he concluded.

Upon returning home I confirmed that "Ae" is a Scottish word meaning one and "Ai" is a word for a three-toed sloth. All are considered standard English.

I'm gonna get creamed.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Stark Assessment


Cathy Lynn Grossman over at USA Today covered Rodney Stark's God's Battalions: the Case for the Crusades.

Stark, author of 27 books on religion and history, is professor of social sciences at
Baylor University. In his latest book he takes issue with modern revisionist history to set the record straight that the Crusades were not a bunch of Frenchmen making an unprovoked attack on peace-loving Mohammedans in the Holy Land.

"All of a sudden (in the 700s) you had all these Muslims coming out of Arabia and conquering the Middle East and North Africa," Stark observes. "That was most of Christendom -- there were more Christians in the Middle East and North Africa than in Europe at the time." In short, the Crusades were a reaction a few hundred years in the making to unprovoked acts of aggression by marauders who erupted out of the Arabian desert.

Certainly the taking of Jerusalem was an excessively bloody affair.

It almost rivaled the atrocities committed against Christians following their defeat at Manzikert in 1071.

It is far short of the murderous activities of modern secular states.

Aside: I've added Stark's book to
my wish list.

Crusaders in Battle

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Unexpected Money

Today a lady I know said she found $20 in a coat pocket she hasn't worn since last winter. It's one thing to roll your eyes at all the Christmas decorations out early; it's something else when the Christmas gift itself shows up ahead of schedule.


Several years back a man at the parish asked Father whether it was OK to play the lottery.

"Father, if I win, I promise I'll give a third of all the winnings to the church."

Father made a face, then said, "Well, if God wants you to win the lottery, then you only need to buy one ticket."

Me, I once put a dollar in an office pool to buy as many lotto tickets as the pool was good for; any winnings would be split evenly among the contributors. We won enough to buy another ticket; that one didn't net anything, and so the experiment drew to a close. And that was my one ticket; I'm done.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More Masses by SSPX Priests in St. Peter's

The blog "An Honor and a Responsibility" provided a bit of news from an Italian site about the SSPX doctrinal discussions with Rome.

The events unfolding in Rome will be made public one day, and I don't want to speculate on what's happening; for now I commend the matter to prayer.

What I thought was of interest on the blog was this little nugget:

Since all the altars at the Domus are already booked for Masses, the SSPX’s Masses are celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica.

I think it's delightful.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2,500 Years Later


The remains of the vanished Persian army is found in the Egyptian desert -- 2,500 years after the fact.

One wonders what other military marvels are hidden in the sands of the various middle eastern deserts.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Your Opinion Matters

My employer sent out an employee survey to solicit feedback on job satisfaction. Today an observant colleague noticed this curious scene in the office supply room:

Employee Survey Notice
At least they used the recycle bin

Monday, November 9, 2009

St. Theodore

Today is the feast day of one of my personal favorites, St. Theodore (+ 304 AD), who hailed from the city of Tyre.

Theodore was an officer in the Roman army of the east, and was enjoined by his commander to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods. The young Christian refused, and so was allowed the night to think over his decision. Theodore took the opportunity to sneak out and set the local pagan temple of Cybel on fire. He was subsequently starved, beaten, and tortured, but he stuck by his guns; he was finally martyred by being burned alive. Pious witnesses saw his soul rise to heaven like a flash of light and fire.

Come Holy Ghost
Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created;
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Souls to Pray for From Ft. Hood

I scanned this image from this morning's WSJ -- souls to pray for from Ft. Hood.

Requiescant in pace...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

360 of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre

This site shows a 360 degree view of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem:

Click F11 key to get the full screen. Click F11 again to return to the normal window.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Vancouver Man in the News


A Vancouver man has recovered from advanced myositis and necrotizing fasciitis. An Irishman is to be thanked.

Peter Andersen was within hours of dying when he recovered under amazing circumstances from a septic state and organ failure brought on by the flesh-eating bacteria. The recovery is a mystery to his doctors.

After bags full of rotted flesh were surgically removed from his leg, Andersen was visited by his parish priest, Fr. John Horgan. The good Father arrived carrying with him a relic of the Irish-French Abbot Columba Marmion, O.S.B. -- a fragment of his habit.

The priest was gowned and masked and led into Andersen's intensive care unit. While praying that God would spare his friend's life for the sake of his wife and their two adopted children, he took the relic and placed it on Andersen's head, heart, and on the dressing covering his diseased leg.

"I asked Blessed Marmion to intercede with the Lord and bring healing," said Horgan.

At Mass the next day he asked the congregation to pray for a miracle for Andersen, "as this was his only hope."

Five days after he fell ill, Andersen's blood culture came back negative for the bacteria.

He spent the next four months in the hospital. Doctors said he would never walk again or drive a car and that he would likely be brain-damaged.

None of which happened. Although he needs a cane, Peter is walking and driving a car, and he has lost none of his mental faculties. He's also returned to work as the pastoral care director of Columbus Residence, a care facility for the elderly in south Vancouver.

Blessed Marmion

Blessed Marmion was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1858. He entered Maredsous Abbey in Belgium, where he became abbot in 1909. He wrote a number of books, including Christ, the Life of the Soul, that are considered spiritual classics.

From his writings:

"If Grace does not destroy nature, neither does it suppress our personality."

"If, while reading, you feel yourself moved to speak to God, stop for a moment and speak."

"I recommend that you pay great attention to the whispers of the Holy Spirit."

"The crucifix is the most vivid revelation of sin."

"Love is like the philospher's stone which turns all that it touches into gold."

"To abandon the least of our brethren, is to abandon Christ Himself."

"The life of union with God can only develop in a soul filled with peace and joy."

"I became a monk because God had revealed to me the beauty and greatness of obedience."

His motto was "Magis prodesse quam praesse" -- "To serve rather than to rule."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It Made Sense at the Time


Police officers in Carroll, Iowa -- located about 100 miles northwest of Des Moines -- arrested two burglars last week. Identification was made easy for the arresting officers by the fact that the failed robbers had blackened their faces with permanent magic marker.

Crooks as a rule are stupid: if they had brains, they'd have real jobs.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hugs and Kisses

A while back during a conversation with a group of friends, Judy -- a kind and sweet lady -- asked, "Sean, why is it that when we girls get together we hug each other and kiss each other on the cheek and hold hands and smile and laugh with each other, but you guys never do that?"

The answer seemed pretty obvious to me, but I tried to deliver the news gently to my friend.

"Because if we did, your husbands would punch us."