Saturday, December 29, 2012

Random comments...

Today is the fifth day of Christmas. 

On the 5th day of Christmas my True Love gave to me... Gabby!

BTW.  I don't know what the Hobby Lobby is... well I kinda do, but I haven't been paying much attention to it because it is probably the first of many such cases and I can't do anything about it.  I also don't have insurance - so I'll be fined myself. 

I haven't paid much attention to the Fiscal Cliff deal either - I've already fallen off - I'm poor.

Speaking of poor, did you know the poor can be proud?  Let me explain.  Someone wanted to give me a donation and I refused saying, "I don't take donations."  So full of myself, huh?  Too good to take donations - how is that virtuous?  The donation thing has always been my rant - that I'm so above the kindness of strangers.  How strange, huh?  So I'm considering doing a Donate button now.  Haha!  You see, if I had accepted the donation, I would have allowed the benefactor to perform an act of charity, and I in turn could have helped a friend whose car is in the shop and she can't afford to get it out, nor pay her rent, nor buy groceries.  I'm not a good poor man at all.  I'm a bad man.


The other day I glanced at a blog written by a person who is an extraordinary champion and defender of the faith.  This person will take on anyone in the blogosphere of Catholic teaching and orthodoxy.  Valiant soul!  This person assured the readers of the blog she held them up in prayer throughout these days of Christmas.  That is truly a beautiful thing, and a wonderful act of charity indeed.

The tone reminded me of myself.  In those times of feeling so close to the Lord, convinced I'm doing so well spiritually and faithful to the teaching of the Church, and so on.  Praying for all of you - and my enemies too.  "Assuring you of my prayers!"  "Be assured of my prayers!"  "United to you in prayer."  As well as the priestly, "Sending up prayers right now..." or "Lifting you up in prayer!" - Oh wait - I don't say that.  Anyway - it's all good, I'm not at all criticizing prayer for one another - prayer is charity, it is an act of mercy - in fact we are obliged to pray for one another.  Although sometimes I think we can secretly congratulate ourselves in fulfilling this particular duty, and maybe attribute to ourselves just a little too much perfection.  Sometimes we think we did something or we obtained something for someone else.  Especially when praying for enemies.  Slice, dice and pray.  Sometimes - at least in my case - we fail to realize our enemies may have a reason to dislike us, therefore, our prayer might better be understood as one of reparation than lifting any one up... an act of justice, more than of mercy.

Sometimes we holier-than-thou types, who only get by on a wing and a prayer ourselves, can be in denial as regards our own faults and failings...  it's the Pharisee and the publican thing enacted all over again... and again... and again.  (We also have to remember we can't be holier than the Church...)

As the psalmist prays, "From my hidden sins acquit me O Lord!"

Oh my God!  I have this huge log in my eye!  Have mercy on me a sinner!

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

One final note - it seems to me total consecration to Our Lady and the faithful recitation of the rosary covers a multitude of sins, as well as all our prayer needs and intentions.  Our Lady not only helps free us from sin, she applies our prayers according God's will - not ours.

Keep an eye on Terry -
he's got a lot of people fooled!


Penance in modern times...

Another option...

"Many persons," Sr. Lucia of Fatima explained, "feeling that the word penance implies great austerities, and not feeling that they have the strength for great sacrifices, become discouraged and continue a life of lukewarmness and sin." Then she said Our Lord explained to her: "The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfillment of his duties of his state in life and the observance of My law. This is the penance that I now seek and require."

It was in this same spirit that the Angel spoke to the children in 1916: "Offer up everything in your power as a sacrifice to the Lord in reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners . . . More than all else, accept and bear with resignation the sufferings that God may send you." - Source

The duties of ones state in life is the ordinary way of sanctity, the 'little way', encompassing the practice of the virtues, and so on.  Accepting the sufferings of daily life, the sacrifice of selfish self-love - that is penance.  For instance, the virtue of temperance might be a good one to work on for many of us...  More deeply, if you really feel you are not doing enough... the mortification necessary to practice prayer is perhaps the best penance after ones duties.

Exercise and yoga and dieting = self love.


5th Day of Christmas - St. Thomas Becket

Another martyr in the Octave of Christmas...

It is also my cat Gabby's first birthday!  Happy birthday Gabby!


Friday, December 28, 2012

Ain't never heard it like this...

Catholic Cruises - redux - kinda

After due consideration.

Ever since the conversation over Michael Voris and Fr. Z hosting a luxury cruise retreat during Lent, I've been reading up on Catholic cruises.  (I still haven't changed my mind on the retreat cruise, but who cares?)  BTW - if you Google Catholic cruises, Tom and Katie and Suri come up.  Somehow I find that comforting, Tom will come back to the Church, I know he will.

Anyway, until now I never even thought of 'Catholic cruises' as a niche market in the travel industry, much less as a retreat/vacation alternative.  Then I came across a site full of information about Catholic cruises and pilgrimages - which all sound rather nice.  In fact a Christmas cruise might be very nice for some people.  Although I would never go on a cruise - for many reasons, I can see why other people might enjoy doing so - and to be amongst Catholics and have Mass and confession available on board could only make it better.  Many times the priests travel free, and in some cases, can still charge a stole fee, speakers fee, Elvis impersonation fee, and so on. 
Often the ship itself is as much a destination as the places you will be visiting. Obviously some Catholics are used to attending daily Mass and most are aware of the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays. We assume you are one of those two types of Catholics and not one who does not care one way or the other. Whether traveling individually, as a couple or as a family with children, you will probably want to be able to incorporate your Catholic faith into your cruise experience. - More here.

Did you know there is a Catholic Familyland too?  I remember when Jim and Tammy built Heritage USA. 

Get that creche
outta Ale Mary's now!

More cruise activities information here.

Vicar's Close

Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest ...

I would like to live in a little house like these, on a little street, with the church at the end, so easy to slip in and out of for visits to the Blessed Sacrament during the day and night.  Downstairs could be my studio, upstairs my living quarters.  The entry a tiny little garden.  Ever since I was little, I have liked little places, little hideaways.

These little houses remind me of Carthusian and Camaldolese hermitages, although they were built for the chantry priests of the Cathedral, beginning in 1369.  Imagine if priests could live like this today, how good they all might be.

Origins (from Wikipedia):
The Close owes its origins to a grant of land and buildings by Walter de Hulle, a canon of the cathedral, for the purpose of accommodating thirteen chantry priests. Bishop Jocelin styled these priests the Vicars Choral, their duty being to chant divine service eight times a day. Previously they had lived throughout the town, and Bishop Ralph resolved to incorporate them and provide subsistence for the future. The Vicars Choral were assigned annuities from his lands and tenements in Congresbury and Wookey, an annual fee from the vicarage of Chew, and endowed them with lands obtained from the Feoffees of Walter de Hulle. The residences he built became known as the College, or Close of the Vicars. - Read more here.

Fourth Day of Christmas

The saddest feast in Christmastide.

The feast of the Holy Innocents, traditionally celebrated with such joy during the Christmas Octave, this year it is especially poignant, considering the tragedy at Sandy Hook...

Christmas is very difficult this year for so many.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Breaking News! The Pope's New Butler is Announced.


I wonder who is in charge of Human Resources at the Vatican?  This would never have been tolerated under Madre Pascalina's watch.  It is so hard to find good help now days.

We weren't happy with your service, Poodle.
Pack up the wife and kids and get out!
Georg, get my cape, we're leaving.

Monastery Brews... how to build an Abbey.

Brick by brick...

The monks of Vina, California are rebuilding the Hearst import of a Spanish Cistercian monastery, Santa Maria de Ovila that has sat dormant, and in pieces in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park for years.  Imagine, a well designed monastery...  Funding comes in part through the sale of Belgian Abbey-style ales.
To help raise proceeds for rebuilding, in 2010 the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico began brewing the Ovila Abbey beers, a series of Belgian Trappist-style ales, in conjunction with the monks. - Source
I've tried them - they are quite good.  High alcohol content, very tasty, not too pricey - and worth it.

I've also tried the Trappists and they are better.  If you are interested in becoming a monk, do not overlook the tried and true and approved, there are several Trappist monasteries in the United States, Vina being one of them.
Monks in a small Northern California town are rebuilding a 16th Century Spanish monastery with help from what may seem an unlikely source: beer.

The first phase of the building's decades-long restoration project in the Sacramento Valley town of Vina has been completed, with the Chapter House of Ovila now standing, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

In the 1930s, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst bought the former Trappist monastery— the Santa Maria de Ovila — and imported it from Spain for an estate that was never realized. He had planned to use parts of the church for an indoor swimming pool changing room.

Once that project was scrapped, Hearst donated the monastery's pieces to the city of San Francisco, but the dismantled building sat forgotten in Golden Gate Park for more than 60 years.

The Vina monks eventually convinced the city to let them rebuild it there, and with the help of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in nearby Chico have raised millions to get started. - Source
Catholics love to drink!  Put the 'merry' back in Christmas, drink Trappist beer!

Quadrupel (Quad) | 10.40% ABV
Very contemplative...
and better than coffee.

Poodles, did you know...

Convex mirrors were not simply decorative?

It's twue.  They were called Butler's mirrors, since their traditional use was to permit the butler or wait staff to view the dinner guests and whatever need may arise without rudely gazing upon the upper classes while they dined.  My mother was like that.  In a restaurant she'd often say - "I can't eat while those people are staring at us!"  And we'd have to put everything in a dogie bag and leave.  No wonder I'm nuts.

Similarly, convex mirror use around the house became a necessity for the other servants to be able to see into a room or a hall before entering to avoid encountering the master or his family.  The downstairs servants especially were an unwelcome sight upstairs. 

But of course!  It was also an early surveillance system - the guests could be monitored in case they tried to steal the silver ... or the accessories.  They are still used commercially today, while domestic use is more decorative than functional.

Oh, Butler!

They can be quite gay when tastefully festooned for the holidays!

St. John the Divine

The Vision of St. John on Patmos.

A virgin clothed with the sun, upon her head a crown of twelve stars.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I'm very sorry...

+ RIP +

For the firefighters who were murdered after a madman set his home on fire and ambushed the fire department as they arrived to extinguish the flames - several other houses were burned down as a result.  Story here

I'm sorry for all who have lost their homes and apartments locally in fires over Christmas.

I'm sorry for all of those affected by the weather.

Christmas is quite sad for many people this year.

Prayers and best wishes to all, especially the sick, the dying, and those who have died so tragically this Holy Season.

The Feast of Stephen, the Second Day of Christmas, and Boxing Day

Boxing day... 

I wanted to make up a story about the origins of modern Boxing Day and how it began the practice of re-gifting Christmas presents one doesn't like.  I had a story all ready to tell about how the late Princess Margaret reinvented the custom after her divorce from Tony. 

According to an obscure urban legend, Princes Margaret, drunk and out of cigarettes had given the servants the day after Christmas off, having no one to send to the store, the Princess called out the window to passers by to fetch her a carton of cigarettes.  When the poor pedestrians returned with the smokes, she threw all the boxes of gifts she had received from her ex-husband onto the pavement below - when suddenly a riot broke out... between the servants (who were returning home from the pub) and the pedestrians who had waited upon Her Royal Highness in their absence.  The Canadian Mounties, who had been in London for a horse show on St. Stephan's Day, had to break up the riot and began to distribute the gifts accordingly.  Many of the servants didn't want the gifts and graciously re-gifted their packages to the poor pedestrians, who later exchanged them for something useful at Herod's.

I decided against the idea of making up a silly story because... well, just because - what's the sense?  However, if you would like to know more about boxing day and re-gifting, go here.

The Second Day of Christmas

Did you know some people actually believe today is the First Day of Christmas?  Catholics know better, I assure you.  From The Widow of Rudd:
Some people have asked me why I start the 12 Days of Christmas on Christmas Day itself, when 'everyone knows' that they start on the day after Christmas.

Well, no. Only the English and those copying them know that they start on the day after Christmas. And even they were not always sure.

I will lay before you all the circumstantial evidence, and you can decide for yourself.

When is the Octave of Christmas? January 1st. If 1 January is the eighth day, then when was the first day? (Go ahead, you can count on your fingers if needed)... Widow's Weeds
Very good, but I have much simpler proof.  If Sunday is the first day of the week, just as Easter Sunday is the first day of Easter - and Easter itself is liturgically considered to be one day concluding on the Second Sunday of Easter, then it follows that Christmas Day is the first day of Christmas.  That's it then.  Today is The Second Day of Christmas.  Merry Christmas.

And happy St. Stephen's Day.

Immediately after Christmas Our Lord teaches us what the Christian life encompasses...


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I'm sorry readers...

Christmas cards received after December 24 will be marked "late" and it will go on your permanent record.  I'm sorry, but that is our policy, fellas.  E-card greetings are always completely unacceptable before or after the cut-off date.


Editor's note:  These quaint little Christmas anecdotes are adapted from the memoirs of my dear mother, presented for your amusement. 
I want him off line!

Christmas Poll

Married Couples Romantic Christmas Dinner Retreat Cruise:  Appropriate or inappropriate?
  • Yes, I think it is good to let the children be on their own for Christmas.
  • Yes, but only if there is a priest on board and it's open bar.
  • Yes, because there is nothing else to do on Christmas night.
  • Yes because it is pro-marriage.

  • No, because there is no snow.
  • No, because it discriminates against unmarried apologists.
  • No because poor couples in steerage can't afford the swim wear.
  • No, because the couples are not screened for contraceptives.

  • What?

Please register your votes in the combox because I don't know how to do polls, nor have I ever danced with one.  Besides, online polls are biased and unscientific.

That's the dumbest thing
 you've ever posted.

Happy Christmas!

What a farce!  Sometimes I wonder why we bother, don't you Trixie?

Christmas traditions...

Well, I fulfilled my obligation and went to Mass and I started taking down all the decorations when I got home, what a mess - every thing's so dusty having been up for a month.  Afterwards I'm going to run over to Walgreen's and get some candy markdowns and later I might go see Les Miserables.

What?  (I'm just kidding!)

Some people do that.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Prayers and best wishes to all who pass by...
Those I know and those I don't.
Those who read me and those who don't.
Those who like me and those who don't...
and most especially, to those who don't...
the sick, the aged, the lonely, the abandoned, the dying...

Art: My favorite image of the Nativityfor this year - homeless, on the street, amid the ruins.  The scene is by Filippo Lippi and is from the Cathedral in Spoleto.

A Dorothy Day Christmas

Seriously, I'm so in to being poor now, that I was skimming through my books on and by Dorothy Day looking for a good Christmas story.  Then I stopped looking.  If I have nothing to say, why say anything at all?  If I can't think of a good story on my own, why spend time looking for one?

Then I came upon this at Shirt of Flame, Heather King's blog... it's exactly what I was looking for.
From reader Sue Hayes. Sue lives in Northern California and has been married for thirty-three years to a Catholic Worker:

"In regard to the canonization of Dorothy Day, it amuses me that both the Catholic Left AND the Right are trying to CLAIM her, when she is NOT claimable... she was incapable of being drawn into petty squabbles of either stripe...she spoke Truth to power, strove to conform herself to the Living, Dying, Rising of true discipleship in Christ, and lived the Gospel with no interest in carving out some niche for herself as "special or admirable," nor did she like it when people called her "a living saint" because then it was " too easy to dismiss her."

There's a story (you can't be married to a quintessential Catholic Worker for 33 years, as I have been, and not know STORIES) that Dorothy, in her seventies, was arrested after a peace protest and they put her in a holding cell. After a bit, they opened the door and shoved in a young woman who was a prostitute and drunk. She cried and swore and said vile things to Dorothy and then fell on the floor at Dorothy's feet and threw up all over Dorothy's feet and legs...without a seconds hesitation, Dorothy sank down on the floor and took the young woman's head gently into her lap and just held her, as a mother would hold her child.

THAT'S why Dorothy is a saint... because she was incapable of marginalizing or being without respect for EVERY human being, regardless of how badly they may have "blotted their copybook"... When Dorothy spoke of "a harsh and dreadful love" [the quote is from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov] it kind of blew all that sky-blue-pink-bejeezely-stuff right out of the water. It was LOVE which Dorothy clung to and was not afraid to offer to ANYONE, a love so God-partaking in its authority, so steely determined in delivery that "even the gates of Hell could not prevail against it!"

THAT's why Dorothy is a saint; not because she championed the cause of the poor, (kudos from the Left) nor because she obeyed all The Rules (high-fives from the Right) but because she was true to her vocation, as each of us should be, to become the person God called her to be. How many people were immeasurably blessed that Dorothy Day came their way?"

I kind of got into the Dorothy Day discussion when news came out regarding her cause.  My trouble is always with a person's followers, not so much the person.  It's like spiritual reading - I'd rather read and re-read what the saints themselves wrote, not someones interpretation of what they said.

Merry Christmas - I'm just going to keep saying that now.


This sign shall take place tomorrow. - Ex. 8:19

Why do people put up Christmas decor that pulsates to electronic music?

Here's a random thought... ordinary life may now be considered lowgrade depression - or lowgrade depression is the new normal.

It must be.  Otherwise, why is everything so hyped?  I thought of that after returning from the store the other night and noticing all of the wild lighting people do for Christmas.  Not that it is a bad thing - it's just really hyped - if not a little over the top.  Chasers, strobes, pulsating lights and obnoxious music.  Cartoon characters all lit up.  Combine that with the fact the malls and stores totally crazed - TV ads with insanely happy people, television shows with screaming audiences going absolutely bezerk over free gift cards and Ellen's underwear...  When alone and all is still, no one knows what to do with themselves... what is that silence?  Am I lonely?  Does something ... make ... me ... feel?  Is that sadness, melancholy?  Why do I feel ... guilty?  What did I ever do?  What's happening to me? 

Nothing more anti-depressants can't help, huh?

Silent night... have a nice one. 

Presumed dead.

When you get older, and have friends who are even older than you, if you don't receive a card from someone you've been accustomed to receiving one from - they are usually dead.

I never know for sure of course, since I do not get the daily paper and never see the obituaries until Sunday - and sometimes obituaries are not always published - I do not intend mine to be.  That said, I also never know if I may have offended someone enough for them to delete me from their Christmas card list...

An old friend and co-worker who knew all of my friends - many now gone - died recently; her obituary was in Sunday's paper.  The day I wondered about her not sending a card yet, her daughter called to inform me her beloved mother had died.

Rest in peace JK.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: The Christmas Message of Pius XII


This Christmas, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI is under fire for speaking the truth in charity...

I'm reminded of Pope Pius XII - the wartime Pope who was later unjustly calumniated and accused of antisemitism and of being Hitler's Pope.  Today, Pope Benedict XVI is maligned and condemned in similar fashion.  It seems to me the words of Pius XII remain relevant for us even now...  
My Dear Children of the Whole World:

As the Holy Christmas Season comes round each year, the message of Jesus, Who is light in the midst of darkness, echoes once more from the Crib of Bethlehem in the ears of Christians and re-echoes in their hearts with an ever new freshness of joy and piety. It is a message which lights up with heavenly truth a world that is plunged in darkness by fatal errors. It infuses exuberant and trustful joy into mankind, torn by the anxiety of deep, bitter sorrow. It proclaims liberty to the sons of Adam, shackled with the chains of sin and guilt. It promises mercy, love, peace to the countless hosts of those in suffering and tribulation who see their happiness Shattered and their efforts broken in the tempestuous strife and hate of our stormy days.

The Church would be untrue to herself, ceasing to be a mother, if she turned a deaf ear to her children's anguished cries, which reach her from every class of the human family. She does not intend to take sides for any of the particular forms in which the several peoples and States strive to solve the gigantic problems of domestic order or international collaboration, as long as these forms conform to the law of God. But on the other hand, as the "Pillar and Ground of Truth" and guardian, by the will of God and the mandate of Christ, of the natural and supernatural order, the Church cannot renounce her right to proclaim to her sons and to the whole world the unchanging basic laws, saving them from every perversion, frustration, corruption, false interpretation and error.
But once let the baneful spirit of materialist ideas predominate; let the urge for power and for predominance take in its rough hands the direction of affairs; you shall then find its disruptive effects appearing daily in greater measure; you shall see love and justice disappear; all this as the sad foretaste of the catastrophes that menace society when it abandons God.
He who would have the Star of Peace shine out and stand over society should [...] should defend the indissolubility of matrimony; he should give to the family—that unique cell of the people—space, light and air so that it may attend to its mission of perpetuating new life, and of educating children in a spirit corresponding to its own true religious convictions, and that it may preserve, fortify and reconstitute, according to its powers, its proper economic, spiritual, moral and juridic unity. He should take care that the material and spiritual advantages of the family be shared by the domestic servants; he should strive to secure for every family a dwelling where a materially and morally healthy family life may be seen in all its vigor and worth; he should take care that the place of work be not so separated from the home as to make the head of the family and educator of the children a virtual stranger to his own household; he should take care above all that the bond of trust and mutual help should be reestablished between the family and the public school, that bond which in other times gave such happy results, but which now has been replaced by mistrust where the school, influenced and controlled by the spirit of materialism, corrupts and destroys what the parents have instilled into the minds of the children. - Pius XII, 1942
"The Holy Father will have much to suffer." - OL of Fatima

Pilgrims and strangers...

Madonna di Loreto - Caravaggio

Sometimes I wish there was a church for poor people, where the homeless and bums could go without feeling conspicuous.  A church where no one cared or noticed what you were wearing or if you had shaved or were in need of a haircut.  A church where no ID was required.  A church for losers and sinners.

I will be speaking Sunday, December 23, 2012...

If you'd like me to speak to your
church or synagogue, contact me here.

Tomorrow in fact - or today, depending upon when you read this.  I already spoke before Mass last evening at my parish.

Sunday's topic will be:  So Advent is over... now what?  Trying to find meaning between now and Christmas.

He just makes
this crap up!