Monday, May 31, 2010

Crowning of Mary

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"Because the virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the King of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of 'Queen'."
- St. Alphonsus Ligouri

Grant unto us, we beseech thee, O Lord : that we who celebrate the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Queen, may under her most mighty protection merit to receive peace in this present world, and glory in the world to come. Through the same Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever.Amen.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

World's Largest Thurible

Trinity Sunday

When I was in Santiago de Compostela in Spain back in April I saw this scene:

When I was there the crowd was bigger, and people were moving away when the thurible reached peak height overhead.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What's Written in Men's Hearts

A chap I've known since my high school days penned these words about the finale of the TV show Lost:

"What a total disappointment...for you Lost fans out there, after 5 seasons of mystery upon mystery...after a 2-hour 'pre-game' show before the finale...the whole thing turns out to be some collective shared consciousness by a bunch of dead people! Harkens back to that season of Dallas where... a whole season was just somebody's dream...what a crapout! And, to boot, everyone - no matter what they'd done in their real lives or that zombie shared collective consciousness or dream or whatever - all ended up going to the same ecumenical 'place'...the good guys, the arsonists, the killers, the thieves, and the pathological liars...where's the justice in...that. Hmph! Waste of my time..."

I've not watched the series, and I didn't see the finale, so I can't speak to the merits (or lack thereof) about the show itself. It does sound, though, that my friend has a decent instinct for what constitutes justice -- after all, how can it be fair that everyone gets the same reward, without distinction for how badly he acted or how virtuously he performed?

What makes my chum's comments doubly interesting in my view is that he's been an atheist since I knew him in high school. God's ways are written on men's hearts, and a non-believing chap with integrity demonstrated he could recognize the intellectual and moral tripe served up by the TV culture for what it is.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Where's Henry?

Pentecost Sunday


The Archbishop of Canterbury said that King Henry VIII might be in hell.

Given that the monarch in question sent his country unto schism by ushering the Protestant Reformation into England over the protests of his subjects (a great many of whom his majesty executed), I'd say that's not a bad bet to take.

“If Henry VIII is saved – an open question, perhaps – it will be at the prayers of [Catholic martyr] John Houghton," said the Archbishop, Dr. Rowan Williams.

Sic semper tyrannis

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Novena to the Holy Ghost: Day 9

Ninth Day Thou, on those who evermore
Thee confess and Thee adore
In Thy sevenfold gifts, descend:
Give them comfort when they die;
Give them life with Thee on high;
Give them joys which never end. Amen.

The Fruits of the Holy GhostThe gifts of the Holy Ghost perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Ghost, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue becomes more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Ghost. These Fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.

PrayerCome, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits, Thy charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.
Pater Noster
Ave Maria
Gloria Patri (x7)
Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost
Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost

Friday, May 21, 2010

Novena to the Holy Ghost: Day 8

Eighth Day
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray!

The Gift of Wisdom
Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all the other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of Wisdom it is written "all good things come to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands." It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Savior: "Take up thy cross and follow me, for my yoke is sweet and my burden light."

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all the passing joys and satisfactions of earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen.
Pater Noster
Ave Maria
Gloria Patri (x7)
Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost
Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Novena to the Holy Ghost: Day 7

Seventh Day
Heal our wounds--our strength renew;
On our dryness pour Thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away!

The Gift of Counsel
The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must be done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants, and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. "Above all things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth."

Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long. Amen.
Pater Noster
Ave Maria
Gloria Patri (x7)
Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost
Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Novena to the Holy Ghost: Day 6

Sixth Day
If Thou take Thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.

The Gift of Understanding
Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Ghost, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion. By faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to "walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God."

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light of Thy Light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of Thee and the Father and the Son. Amen.
Pater Noster
Ave Maria
Gloria Patri (x7)
Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost
Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Novena to the Holy Ghost: Day 5

Fifth Day
Light immortal! Light Divine!

Visit Thou these hearts of Thine,
And our inmost being fill!

The Gift of Knowledge
The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth--in their relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity, and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first, and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. "Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it."

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Thy glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to Thee, and Thy eternal rewards. Amen.
Pater Noster
Ave Maria
Gloria Patri (x7)
Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost
Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost

Monday, May 17, 2010

Novena to the Holy Ghost: Day 4

Fourth Day
Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

The Gift of Fortitude
By the gift of Fortitude the soul is strengthened against natural fear, and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to undertake without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. "He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved."

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude uphold my soul in time of troubles and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest Good. Amen.
Pater Noster
Ave Maria
Gloria Patri (x7)
Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost
Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Go Home Little Boys


Two would-be assassins of Pope Benedict XVI were intercepted by Italian police and sent home to Morocco. The men were students at a university in the Italian city of
Perugia. They'd talked of attaining Paradise by murdering the Pope, and had expressed a desire to obtain explosives.

Such a plan is short-sighted of the two students. Not only would they not reach Paradise, but then they will have created a martyr who would intercede for us in Heaven and who would also serve as a rallying point for the worldwide resistance to Islam's martial branch of expansionism. In any event, hands off my Pope.

Novena to the Holy Ghost: Day 3

Third Day
Thou, of all consolers best,
Visiting the troubled breast,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.

The Gift of Piety
The gift of Piety begets in our hearts a filial affection for God as our most loving Father. It inspires us to love and respect for His sake persons and things consecrated to Him, as well as those who are vested with His authority, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, the Church and its visible Head, our parents and superiors, our country and its rulers. He who is filled with the gift of Piety finds the practice of his religion, not a burdensome duty, but a delightful service. Where there is love, there is no labor.

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart. Enkindle therein such a love for God, that I may find satisfaction only in His service, and for His sake lovingly submit to all legitimate authority. Amen.
Pater Noster
Ave Maria
Gloria Patri (x7)
Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost
Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Novena to the Holy Ghost: Day 2

Second Day
Come, Thou Father of the poor!
Come, with treasures which endure!
Come, Thou Light of all that live!

The Gift of Fear
The gift of Fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by sin. It is a fear that arises, not from the thought of hell, but from sentiments of reverence and filial submission to our heavenly Father. It is the fear that is the beginning of wisdom, detaching us from the worldly pleasures that could in any way separate us from God. "They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and in His sight will sanctify their souls."

Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set Thee, my Lord and God, before my face forever, help me to shun all things that can offend Thee, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of Thy Divine Majesty in heaven, where Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the ever Blessed Trinity, God, world without end. Amen.
Pater Noster
Ave Maria
Gloria Patri (x7)
Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost
Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wikipedia Blowup


Fox News is running a story about the self-imposed demotion of Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. The change at the helm is the latest development in efforts to deal with the large library of pornographic images that appear on the online encyclopedia and related sites.

It turns out that a number of big-name Wikipedia sponsors like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! finally got around to asking why Wales et al thought it was a good idea to make hard-core porn readily available to middle-school children.

Wales had shrugged off just these sorts of comments and questions in the past. When the guys with the big pocket books said their own PR could be affected, however, the chief of the world's largest collaborative online effort made an executive decision and began purging thousands of porn images from the various Wikipedia sites.

Wrote Wales, "We were about to be smeared in all media as hosting hardcore pornography and doing nothing about it. Now, the correct storyline is that we are cleaning up. I'm proud to have made sure that storyline broke the way it did, and I'm sorry I had to step on some toes to make it happen."

The outraged yells and protests from the Wikipedia editorial community erupted on cue.

There was the predictable warbling about the lack of fair play inherent in Wale's "unilateral, king-like massive action." There was also the objection to the lack of egalitarian considerations and the betrayal of the essence of the open user-generated online encyclopedia.

In my view the quotation that sheds the brightest spotlight on the puerile minds running amok at Wikipedia is this one:

"By rush-imposing his views and decisions on people who are not out of the debate yet, he is browbeating their inner self, ignoring their beliefs and opinions, discarding the value of the Other."

Take note: this is everyday banter for the Wikipedia editorial community -- they talk that way all the time. These reprobates are concerned that their degenerate pet projects are actually being treated as miscreant afflictions. They have been campaigning for their distorted notions to be normalized in popular society; they erode and finally eradicate the natural modesty and healthy reserve of their audience; they despise innocence and purity. Wales, for all his faults, had sufficient business acumen to at least try to give his enterprise the appearance of reasonableness. With Jimmy off the conductor's stand, the crazies at the Wikipedia keyboards have no smiling front man to divert attention from their morbidly sophomoric and self-indulgent rants and digressions.

A result of the blowup is that the operations of the virtual giant are in jeopardy. From the Fox article: "By Thursday the discussion had devolved into an all-out war pitting board members against board members, and with top leadership sparring with lower level administrators."

Indeed: the Revolution eats her children.

Novena to the Holy Ghost: Day 1

The novena to the Holy Ghost is the oldest of all novenas since it was first made at the direction of Our Lord when He sent His apostles back to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Ghost on the First Pentecost. It is still the only novena officially prescribed by the Church. Addressed to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, it is a powerful plea for the light, strength, and love so sorely needed by every Christian.

To encourage devotion to the Holy Ghost, the Church has enriched this novena with the following indulgences:

The faithful who devoutly assist at the public novena in honor of the Holy Ghost immediately preceding the feast of Pentecost (i.e. starting today) may gain:
1. An indulgence of 10 years on any day of the novena
2. A Plenary indulgence, if they take part in at least five of the exercises; and moreover go to confession, and receive Holy Communion, and pray for the Holy Father's intentions.

Those who make a private novena in honor of the Holy Ghost, either before Pentecost or at any other time in the year, may gain:
1. An indulgence of 7 years on any day of this novena
2. A Plenary indulgence under the usual conditions; but if a public novena is held, this indulgence is available only to those who are lawfully hindered from being part in the same.

First Day
Holy Spirit! Lord of Light!
From Thy clear celestial height.
Thy pure beaming radiance give!

The Holy Ghost
Only one thing is important--eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared--sin. Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for "The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us."

Almighty and eternal God, Who has vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given us forgiveness of all sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us Thy sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.
Pater Noster
Ave Maria
Gloria Patri (x7)

Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body, to Thee, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Thy purity, the unerring keenness of Thy justice, and the might of Thy love. Thou art the Strength and Light of my soul. In Thee I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve Thee by unfaithfulness to grace, and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against Thee. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Thy light, and listen to Thy voice, and follow Thy gracious inspirations. I cling to Thee and give myself to Thee and ask Thee, by Thy compassion, to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus, and looking at His five wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood, and adoring His opened side and stricken Heart, I implore Thee, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, so to keep me in Thy grace that I may never sin against Thee. Give me grace, O Holy Ghost, Spirit of the Father and the Son, to say to Thee always and everywhere, "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth." Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost
O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven, didst promise to send the Holy Ghost to finish Thy work in the souls of Thy Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul the work of Thy grace and Thy love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal; the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Thy divine truth; the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven; the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with Thee and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation; the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints; the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable; the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Thy true disciples and animate me in all things with Thy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


In February, 2008 I pilgrimaged in the Holy Land. Most of my trip was in Israel and Palestine, but I did go spend a few days trans-Jordan.

I traveled through Amman en route to Wadi Musa (وادي موسى) in the south, which is close to the ancient city of Petra (البتراء).

Carved from the living sandstone rock 27 centuries ago by the Nabataeans (الأنباط), Petra was the capital of the people in the region and served as a significant caravan spot and oasis because of the city's ingenious system of water management. The society entered into decline after the Romans conquered the people, and the location became ruins after a 4th century earthquake decimated the water management system.

Petra was unseen by westerners until Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt discovered it in 1812. His accounts of the beautiful ruins captured the imagination of Europeans, and in 1845 English poet John William Burgon penned these moving lines about it.
It seems no work of Man's creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;

But from the rock as if by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!

Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;

Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;

But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;

The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,

match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time.

The Treasury (الخزنة) at Petra

The Jordanian side of the Jordan River is also where St. John the Baptist baptized our Lord. The river is much reduced since those days, and the precise spot is empty of water except after a heavy rain. But you can still find the place today because Christians since the 1st century marked the location by building churches there.

I say the plural form -- churches -- because the region would flood from time to time, wiping out the latest structure. But out of reverence for our Lord, the Christians would always rebuild on the exact same spot.

Because of the loving devotion of 20 centuries of Christians, we know the precise place where all three persons of the Blessed Trinity were manifest on that sacred day, God the Son rising from the waters of John's baptism, God the Holy Ghost descending as a Dove, and God the Father speaking with a voice from Heaven (Mark 1:9-11).

Where Christ was Baptized by John the Baptist

Russians Cheer the Resurrection

During a soccer match on Easter Sunday in Moscow, opposing soccer fans chanted at each other.

These were not the usual taunts one would expect from soccer fans, however: the opposing fans took turns chanting "Christ Is Risen!" and "Truly He Is Risen!"

See it for yourself at

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Forgotten Cookies

I forgot I still had Girl Scout cookies in the freezer. I suspect that's a sign that I need to eat out less often.

A lesson I learned in college while baking cookies is that if you forget the flour you end up with cookie soup. Flour, it turns out, holds things together. Good to know.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Magnificat anima mea Dominum,
et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salvatore meo,
quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae.
Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes,
quia fecit mihi magna,
qui potens est,
et sanctum nomen eius,
et misericordia eius in progenies et progenies
timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo,
dispersit superbos mente cordis sui;
deposuit potentes de sede
et exaltavit humiles;
esurientes implevit bonis
et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum,
recordatus misericordiae,
sicut locutus est ad patres nostros,
Abraham et semini eius in saecula.

My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty,
hath done great things to me;
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generations,
to them that fear him.
He hath shewed might in his arm:
he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant,
being mindful of his mercy:
As he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed for ever.