31 December 2009

New Year's Resolutions

In the past several years I have tried to make my New Year's resolutions stick. The best way to do so, I've found, is to be profoundly realistic.

For example, a few years back I resolved to be more judgemental, and to jump to conclusions more often. Another year, I decided to be more emotionally distant. Bingo! Success.

In the upcoming year, therefore, I resolve to resist thinking before speaking. And maybe to buy into more conspiracy theories. Like the moon landing hoax.

I just hope I have the dedication to follow through.

Feel free to leave your resolutions, sincere or otherwise, in the combox.

Missed It by That Much


One more crackpot post for 2009...

The Old 'False-Flag Trick'

by William Norman Grigg

You know, Chief, this nude bomb might solve a lot of problems. For one thing, flashers.... And there'd be no more trouble with concealed weapons. I mean, if everyone were nude, there'd be no place to hide a gun or knife. Well, there is a place, but it could be painful.

--Maxwell Smart, the redoubtable Agent 86, finding the upside to KAOS's terrorist threat to destroy the world's clothing with its dreaded Nude Bomb.

In an utterly predictable response to an unsuccessful attempt by a would-be Jihadist to emasculate himself in mid-air by detonating a small explosive charge (a very small one, of course), the Regime is moving, slowly but inexorably, in the direction of requiring airline passengers to strip nude.

There is plentiful evidence to suggest that the same Regime acted as an accomplice – most likely a passive one – in that same failed bombing attempt. Call it a delayed-action nude bomb: One Nigerian nutcase conceals a firecracker in his wedding tackle, and before long everybody will have to strip nude in order to fly.

Granted, the nudity would be "virtual," temporary, and limited in its exposure. Passengers would be violated one at a time by the same thoughtful people who have made a career out of rifling through other people's dirty underwear.

Airport security screeners have "got to have some way of detecting things in parts of the body that aren't easy to get at," insists former Homeland Security Commissar Michael Chertoff. "It's either pat-downs or imaging."

A third alternative is to avoid commercial aviation outright whenever possible. I suspect an ever-larger number of Americans are going to join me in choosing what's behind door number three.

Government is the only human enterprise that profits from failure. Once that principle is understood, many otherwise inexplicable choices made by ruling elites and their servants can be made intelligible.

For instance, we can begin to understand the perverse persistence governments display in courting preventable catastrophes, and then capitalizing on such incidents to enhance their power to do exactly the same things that resulted in disaster. In this case, in addition to requiring the helotry to undergo unconscionable personal violations before flying, the Regime is exploiting the incident aboard Northwest Flight 253 to escalate the ongoing military assault on Yemen, thereby increasing the human misery that helps propel international terrorism.

And so it is that the Regime – which has squandered trillions of debased dollars in the name of "fighting terrorism" (hundreds of billions to build a domestic garrison state, and even greater sums to conduct wars of aggression overseas) – will continue to do exactly the same thing following an episode that demonstrates, beyond serious dispute, that the "war on terror" has done exactly nothing to make Americans safer.

While it's not clear that the flight was in mortal danger, it is clear that the plot failed because a detonator failed to ignite, and a group of passengers shed the shackles of government-imposed docility to subdue the terrorist suspect. The attempt to massacre the passengers of Flight 253 was stopped without the Regime's help – and in spite of what has to be considered, at very best, the Regime's criminal negligence.

Owing to what must have been an anguished report from his father, Umar Abdulmutallab was known to the CIA and the State Department as a potential terrorist. Umar Abdulutallab the elder, a banking official from Nigeria, met personally with CIA officials to express concerns that his son – who had gone to Yemen for the supposed purpose of studying Arabic – was falling into the company of suspected terrorists.

U.S. officials took this valuable intelligence and promptly buried Abdulmutallab's name in an official database. Yet it was not placed on the official "no-fly list"; apparently, that status is reserved for people who make themselves troublesome to the Executive Branch without actually posing a threat to innocent people.

Additional layers of official negligence were revealed by a passenger named Kurt Haskell, who was next to Abdumutallab as the would-be bomber checked in at the airport in Amsterdam:

"An Indian man in a nicely dressed suit around age 50 approached the check in counter with the terrorist and said `This man needs to get on this flight and he has no passport.' The two of them were an odd pair as the terrorist is a short, black man that looked like he was very poor and looks around age 17 (although I think he is 23 he doesn't look it). It did not cross my mind that they were terrorists, only that the two looked weird together. The ticket taker said `you can't board without a passport.' The Indian man then replied, `He is from Sudan, we do this all the time.' I can only take from this to mean that it is difficult to get passports from Sudan and this was some sort of sympathy ploy. The ticket taker then said `You will have to talk to my manager,' and sent the two down a hallway. I never saw the Indian man again as he wasn't on the flight. It was also weird that the terrorist never said a word in this exchange. Anyway, somehow, the terrorist still made it onto the plane. I am not sure if it was a bribe or just sympathy from the security manager."

Haskell also says that he stood a few yards away from another Indian man who was handcuffed and held in customs "after a bomb sniffing dog detected a bomb in his carry on bag and he was searched after we landed. This was later confirmed while we were in customs when an FBI agent said to us `You are being moved to another area because this area is not safe. Read between the lines. Some of you saw what just happened.'.... What also didn't make the news is that we were held on the plane for 20 minutes AFTER IT LANDED! A bomb could have gone off then. This wasn't too smart of security to not let us off the plane immediately."

Assuming that Haskell's account is correct, Abdulmutallab received some variety of official help to board the plane, and was apparently part of a team of bombers. The reported connection to India is of particular interest, given a growing dispute between Mumbai and Washington over a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen allegedly involved in the 2008 terrorist rampage at the Taj Mahal Hotel that left 166 people dead.

Te Deum Laudamus: Te Dominum Confitemur

As we end the calendar year, here within the Octave of Christmas and on the Feast of Pope St. Sylvester I (of whom I can never think without recalling Benson's Lord of the World), ready to usher in the New Year tomorrow on the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord, I thought I would put out a few lines.

1. I pray that all my readers are having a blessed and holy Christmas; I thank you for the many well-wishes and words of encouragement you have sent during the year. I thank those whom I annoy for sending me the many amusing comments that usually lift my spirits--and only occasionally dampen them-- as well.

2. The end of the year is a traditional time of thanksgiving for the blessings of a loving, almighty God. So for myself, I thank Him most of all for His Being, His Love, and all that He does for us. It is pretty nice of Him to keep the world and all of us in existence, and He sent His only Son to suffer, die and rise to save us from sin. I thank God for His Holy Catholic Church, which is the means of the salvation of man. I am grateful for His Mother, and I thank her as well for all she does to assist me as I try to work out my salvation in fear and trembling. I renew my consecration of myself, my family, my work and all that I do to her. Mother, do with me as you will.

I thank God for the embarrassing bounty of spiritual and material blessings He gives me. My sainted wife, my beautiful children, the means to earn a living to support them, good friends, family and everything else.

I thank Him for our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, who just might be Benedict the Great one day. Summorum Pontificum is not his only achievement, but it would be enough, I think, to merit the title. I thank God for the many faithful sons and daughters in the priesthood and religious life whom I have been privileged to meet and get to know, often because of this ridiculous blog, especially for my spiritual director.

And I thank Him for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. I credit the Institute with being the oasis of the faith in my life.

3. St. Francis de Sales Oratory will be singing a solemn Te Deum in thanksgiving for the past year today at 5 pm. The faithful who attend may receive a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions of detachment from sin, sacramental confession, Holy Communion, and prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Te Deum laudamus:
te Dominum confitemur.


Te aeternum Patrem
omnis terra veneratur.


Tibi omnes Angeli;
tibi caeli et universae Potestates;


Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim
incessabili voce proclamant:


Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.


Pleni sunt caeli et terra
maiestatis gloriae tuae.


Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum
sancta confitetur Ecclesia,


Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;

Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.

Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem,
non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo,
aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.


Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.


(kneeling)Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni:
quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.


Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.
Salvum fac populum tuum,
Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.

Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.

Per singulos dies benedicimus te;
Et laudamus Nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.


Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
Miserere nostri domine, miserere nostri.

Fiat misericordia tua,
Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.


In te, Domine, speravi:
non confundar in aeternum.

(Translation, because it's Christmas:)

We praise thee, O God :
we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee :
the Father everlasting.


To thee all Angels cry aloud :
the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.


To thee Cherubin and Seraphin :
continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy :
Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty :
of thy glory.


The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.

The holy Church throughout all the world :
doth acknowledge thee;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty;

Thine honourable, true : and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.

Thou art the King of Glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man :
thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death :
thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.


Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our Judge.


(kneeling) We therefore pray thee, help thy servants :
whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.


Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.

O Lord, save thy people :
and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.


Day by day : we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.


Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.

O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us :
as our trust is in thee.


O Lord, in thee have I trusted :
let me never be confounded.



---------------


Merry Christmas again, and a very happy and blessed New Year!

30 December 2009

Emergency Repairs at the Oratory

From the Tradition for Tomorrow blog, news of another reason to prayerfully consider practical assistance in the preservation and restoration of this spiritual and architectural treasure. Due to formatting issues, the photos and some captioning are better viewed at the original site:

Save the Oratory's Stained Glass Windows


Emergency work was ordered and performed on the stained glass windows on the north side of the Oratory this Christmas.

One of the consequences of the shifting foundation of the church tower is the cracking in the masonry and the bowing of the historic stained glass windows of the church. The windows most seriously affected are the ones on the north side, on the right side of the choir loft. Unfortunately, the structural damage of the windows has reached a point where it is now necessary to remove the stained glass segments in order to save them.

Detail of damaged stained glass window
Detail of damaged stained glass window, showing daylight streaming through the opening created by the bowing of the wondow.


Exterior view of bowed stained glass

Exterior view of the bowed window.
Due to compressive stress exerted on the main church building by the tower whose foundation has shifted, one of the stained glass windows has been seriously affected. The metal support of the stained glass artwork has been bent outward over time, resulting in a gap in the seam. Immediate intervention is necessary to maintain the integrity of the window and to salvage the irreplaceable artwork.

After removal, the stained glass sections will be carefully stored, and the large openings in the window covered with painted wood for the time being. Complete restoration of the stained glass windows cannot take place until the tower foundation is stabilized. In addition, extensive work is now needed to reinforce the terra cotta columns with horizontal steel bars to maintain its stability.

The stained glass artwork in St. Francis de Sales Oratory was made by Emil Frei, Sr., who immigrated to the United States from Bavaria, Germany, in the late 1800s. The stained glass creations overseen by several generations of the Frei family is renowned throughout the country. Stephen Frei, the great-grandson of the man who designed and made these windows at St. Francis de Sales, is now managing the removal and repair of the windows. We are indebted to Emil Frei Associates, Inc. for their dedication to find an innovative solution to preserve these windows until future repair may take place. The permanent restoration of the stained glass windows will begin only when the tower foundation is stabilized.

Stained glass, interior view, MAbeln


Current interior view of the affected window from the choir loft in the church, showing the beautiful Emil Frei artwork backlit by daylight.

While the stained glass sections are in storage awaiting restoration, temporary wood inserts will be used to cover up the opening.

This view of the stained glass window will not be seen again until the tower foundation is stabilized.



All photos courtesy of Mark Abeln of Rome of the West.

Son of Meatless Friday Wednesday

Some random items to cover today, sure to amaze your friends and baffle your enemies:

1. When will people start to ask some serious questions about why it is that the federal government must be the entity to administer airline and airport security? The TSA fails time and time again in stunts carried out by journalists and watchdog groups. These stories get mentioned, occasionally, on page B23 of mainstream newspapers, usually under a headline like "Fraternity prankster sneaks knife onto flight". The latest reported failure concerns the Nigerian bomber, who is reported to have connections to Al-Qaeda. Early reports indicated that a passenger was responsible for neutralizing this guy-- more ominously, reports also indicate he was assisted in his quest by someone who helped him to board the plane without a passport.

The response by our supposedly benevolent and clearly incompetent government is to issue regulations that prohibit passengers from getting out of their seats. But the response is always some kind of limit to our freedom. Always. Regardless of the party nominally in power. Consider:
  • The 9-11 killings led to the execrable Patriot Act, which gutted the ancient right of habeas corpus-- which dated back more than 500 years.

  • The bureaucracy created to ensure "security" in our country makes up lists of potential "terrorists" that encompass pro-lifers, states-rights and individual liberties advocates.

  • The Real ID Act was also foisted on us, which is supposed to make us "safer" by laying the groundwork for a national ID card, and by computerizing sensitive personal information. This of course works really well to keep illegal immigrants from getting driver licenses and auto insurance, thus raising our insurance premiums and causing hit-and-run cases to spike. It doesn't work really well to keep airlines from being attacked, as this latest case shows. Also, it allows crooks to "skim" our personal information off of our passport and "smart" IDs.

  • Every reported failure by the government causes ordinary citizens to suffer greater governmental control, pay more money, and become accustomed to being treated as sub-human.

  • Long lines, no shoes, no belts, no water, no shaving cream. Now, the call is out for immoral "full-body scanners". Why? So we will be safer. Yet a foreigner without a passport but with a bomb waltzes on the plane.

When will people wake up? This is ludicrous. If these terrorist threats are real, why are we so content to allow the government to continue to administer airline security? It has failed miserably. Why not allow the private companies to take over this function? Private companies have a vested interest in their planes not being blown up. Bad for business, yes? Private companies are motivated to succeed because their very existence is at stake. Not so with the government. Private companies have experience in providing for the security of their assets and customers. Armored cars seem to be a good example of a security system, privately implemented, that works well. Obviously, the nature of the threat is different in an airport, but the principles involved are the same.

About the only reason the government still does this is because it wants to. It wants the control. It either believes that it can do this job better, despite every appearance to the contrary, or else it doesn't really want the airlines to be too secure.

Did I just say that? Yes, but you know I'm a little off, right? I mean, what if there really isn't a terrorist threat? Nah, impossible.

2. The reports of the "defrocking" of St. Christopher have been greatly exaggerated, despite what you may have heard. I overheard part of a conversation at a restaurant recently concerning this topic. No, I wasn't eavesdropping. The parties involved were members of what my brother labelled, in an attempt at humor, the BHC-- as in, the Blue-Haired Crowd. They were speaking very loudly. All of them proudly stated they went to 12 years of Catholic school.

Well, one guy begins on how he wasn't going to give any money to the local seminary. Another talks about the lack of certainty in religion, and how the Catholic Church can be wrong. "Just like when they defrocked St. Christopher." Loud agreement by most, complete bewilderment by one. So, the guy relates how they said he didn't exist a few years ago and just booted him from the calendar, and "now you're not allowed to wear St. Christopher medals anymore." At this point I am slightly tempted to try to intervene, because this is not true. But I hold back, just in time to hear this retort:

"But I saw 'em sold over at Catholic Supply."

Whoa! This was the first time I began to doubt myself. Being sold at Catholic Supply is, at best, a 64% indicator of Catholicity. Don't get me started. So, I thought, maybe I'll blog on this.

The deal is this: St. Christopher is a saint. He existed. He was a martyr. His cult goes back at least a thousand years. His feast day is July 25, shared with St. James the Greater.

In 1969, the same people who tried to destroy the ancient Mass also were thoughtful enough to denude the Roman calendar of many, MANY saints. I mean, who would want to venerate a Saint when they could instead celebrate the awe-inspiring Year II, Cycle B, Wednesday after the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time? Thank goodness, St. Christopher was not allowed to gunk up this new religious experience.

In any event, some of the saints were determined by somebody somewhere not to have enough historical evidence to allow them to be on the "official" calendar. This point of view is explained fairly well here. However, even the sceptics admit that he existed-- they just don't like the traditional pious stories believed about him.

But St. Christopher remains a saint, and his feast day is unchanged. It is still marked on the traditional calendar on July 25, and he is still listed in the Roman Martyrology-- the official listing of Catholic saints. Catholic Encyclopedia has an nice entry here.

3. The combination of the above two items leads me to conclude with a third. Somebody asked me over the weekend about how the blog was going. I made a polite reply, and then opined that my target audience might be very, very, very serious Catholics who love Catholic tradition, distrust the federal government, know what a tunicle is, believe that an apocalyptic event is about 5 minutes away at any given time, wish the Spanish Armada had won-- and those who love them.

That's why the seven of you reading this are my favorite people in the world. Have a great Wednesday!

Saint Christoper, pray for us!

29 December 2009

Merry Christmas Again

Your blogger here, back in full bloom after a wonderful Christmas mini-break. The Midnight Mass at de Sales was absolutely magnificent. The Director of Sacred Music, Nick Botkins, ought to get a Papal honor for the incredible job he does with the schola and multiple choirs. The orchestra was amazing, too. There is nothing better than Mozart, of course, but all of the music in the Christmas program was exceptional.

No matter what the music, however, the highlight is always the Mass itself. I haven't been to any church where it is celebrated in such glory as at an Institute apostolate. And that isn't a knock on anyone else, just my observation and opinion.

My family and I had a nice series of get-togethers with family and good friends to mark the occasion, too.

Christ is born in Bethlehem of Juda! He Who sits enthroned upon the cherubim became a little Child. Destined to suffer, die and rise to save us from sin, He comes to us in His mercy. Let us not reject this coming, so that His final coming may be a source of vindication, and not condemnation.

Christmas Octave continues. Christmas season goes on until the Feast of the Purification of Mary on February 2. Let us keep the celebration of the season during this time, and not follow secular society that has already put it in the dumpster, along with the tree.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

28 December 2009

Quick quiz. Why didn't the Leader attend Christmas services in a Christian place of worship?

A. Muslims don't believe Jesus is the Son of God.

B. When you think you're God, why worship someone else?

C. Jeremiah Wright came to the vacation villa instead.

D. All of the above.



Mueckl Receives Papal Honor

From the Archdiocese:

Pope Benedict XVI Bestows Papal Honor Upon St. Louisan
Dr. David Mueckl Awarded Honor of Knight Commander with Star of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great

Dr. David Mueckl
Dr. David Mueckl was honored by Pope Benedict XVI.
St. Louis, MO — His Excellency, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of Saint Louis, has announced that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has bestowed upon Dr. David Mueckl, PhD, DBA, the Papal Honor of Knight Commander with Star of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of Saint Gregory the Great.

The Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great was established on September 1, 1831, by Pope Gregory XVI. It is one of the five pontifical orders of knighthood in the Catholic Church. As part of the reform of the Papal Orders instituted by Saint Pius X, in 1905 the grades of the Order were modified by the addition of a Star for a higher category of Knights Commander as well as assigning to the Papal Knights a particular place in Papal processions and in ceremonies of the Church.

The order is bestowed on Catholic men and women (and in rare cases, non-Catholic men) in recognition of their service to the Church, unusual labors, support of the Holy See, and the good example set in their communities and country.

Dr. Mueckl, who has served as Chief Administrative Officer for the Archdiocese of St. Louis for two and a half years, has also served Holy Mother Church at the Vatican level as well. From 2003-2006, Dr. Mueckl served as Consultant to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and from 2006-2009, Dr. Mueckl served as Consultant to the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

You Know Who You Are


Geddy Lee seems to have hit a chord with my readers-- if you'll pardon the pun. Here is some good winter safety advice from the same. Enjoy.

27 December 2009

Merry Christmas!


I expect to resume normal blogging schedule tomorrow. Thanks to all who sent Christmas greetings.

P.S. Don't let Geddy alarm you.

24 December 2009

In the 5199th year of the creation of the world, from the time when in the beginning God created heaven and earth; from the flood, the 2957th year; from the birth of Abraham, the 2015th year; from Moses and the going-out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the 1510th; from the anointing of David as king, the 1032nd year; in the 65th week according to the prophecy of Daniel; in the 194th Olympiad; from the founding of the city of Rome, the 752nd year; in the 42nd year of the rule of Octavian Augustus, when the whole world was at peace, in the sixth age of the world: Jesus Christ, the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by His most merciful coming, having been conceived by the Holy Ghost, and nine months having passed since His conception was born in Bethlehem of Juda of the Virgin Mary, having become man.

A very blessed and merry Christmas to all readers. Venite adoremus!

The Person of the Vicar of Christ Assaulted at Midnight Mass

May God protect our Holy Father. He gets the same respect his Master did. From Yahoo News:

Woman knocks down pope at Christmas Eve Mass


VATICAN CITY – A woman jumped the barriers in St. Peter's Basilica and knocked down Pope Benedict XVI at the start of Christmas Eve Mass, but the 82-year-old pontiff got up unhurt and proceeded as planned with Thursday's service.

Witness video obtained by The Associated Press showed a woman dressed in a red hooded sweat shirt vaulting over the wooden barriers that cordoned off the basilica's main aisle and rushing toward the pope before being swarmed by bodyguards.

The video showed the woman grabbing the pope's vestments as she was taken down by guards, with Benedict then falling on top of her.

The commotion occurred as the pope's procession was making its way toward the main altar and shocked gasps rang out among the thousands who packed the basilica. The procession came to a halt, the music stopped and security rushed to the trouble spot.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini said the woman appeared to be mentally unstable and had been taken into custody by Vatican police. He said she also knocked down Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who was taken to hospital for a checkup.

"During the procession an unstable person jumped a barrier and knocked down the Holy Father," Benedettini told The AP by telephone. "(The pope) quickly got up and continued the procession."

It was the second year in a row that there had been a security breach at the Christmas Eve service and this was the most serious incident involving the public in Benedict's five-year papacy. At the end of last year's Mass, a woman who had jumped the barriers got close to the pope but was quickly blocked on the ground by security.

That woman too wore a red hooded sweat shirt, but Benedettini said it was not immediately known if the same person was behind Thursday's incident.

[...]

Benedict lost his miter and his staff in the fall. He remained on the ground for a few seconds before being helped back up by attendants. At that point, a few shouts of "viva il papa!" (long live the pope!) rang out, followed by cheers from the faithful, witnesses said.

After getting up, Benedict, flanked by tense bodyguards, resumed his walk to the basilica's main altar to start the Mass. The pope, who broke his right wrist in a fall this summer, appeared unharmed but somewhat shaken and leaned heavily on aides and an armrest as he sat down in his chair.

[...]

Benedict made no reference to the disturbance after the service started. As a choir sang, he sprinkled incense on the altar before opening the Mass with the traditional wish for peace in Latin.

The incident was the first time a potential attacker came into direct contact with Benedict, and underscored concerns by security analysts who have frequently warned the pope is too exposed in his public appearances.

One More Inducement to Attend Midnight Mass at the Oratory


The Gloria from tonight's Mass.

OK, here is the Credo, too.



As an aside, I have heard some say that Mozart may have been a Freemason (with a nod to the Magic Flute), and he certainly was not portrayed flatteringly in Amadeus. I don't know anything about the state of his soul.

But a man who can make music like this to praise God should get some sins forgiven at least, I would think. In any event, it might be a proper sign of gratitude to pray for his soul.

Eternal rest grant unto him and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul rest in peace.

23 December 2009

Two Christmases

There would be tea brewing on the stove in the kitchen. The coals would show red with thin blue flames where one of the stove covers had been tilted. Then, there would be a candle, perhaps two, for there could only be candles on Christmas Eve. They would be burned down pretty low now, it being after eleven o'clock when he would reach home. About ten minutes past eleven, he always reached home. His stamping the snow off his shoes on the steps outside would be the signal for the handful of tea to be dropped into the pot. There would be candles in the next room, too, the dining room they called it. And then beyond that, another candle or two. Always candles on Christmas Eve. Not many candles. A few candles, but good candles special for the vigil. They would spear the dark with steady yellow flames, and make long, rich shadows on the walls and on the pictures on the walls. The ceiling would be lighted without shadows.

There were never shadows like these Christmas Eve candle shadows. They gave mystery to the house, and a soft strangeness that you never found on any other night.

The Boy would throw his hat and coat on the chair by the kitchen stove. Then, he would go on through the dining room, as they called it, into the other room. She would meet him, as she got up from the floor where she would be setting out the presents before the tiny crib. Her knees would be stiff, he knew, and her poor body tired, but she would get up with her white face happy in spite of its whiteness, and her always bright eyes brighter, and she would turn to him for a glance of appreciative pleasure. He knew she would look for that, though she had made the house clean, had washed and mended the old lace curtains, had scrubbed the floors--hadn't he noticed the kitchen floor, white with the grain showing?-- had swept and dusted not so much for his pleasure this night, but because God was coming. But she would look to see if he were happy. He would scowl. It was defensive, or perverse. But he would scowl, and while he scowled he would notice how white her hair showed on the side that caught the light of the candles.

"My poor boy is tired," she would say.

Then he could hold the scowl no longer. He would say:

"Ma, the crib is beautiful."

Then he would get down on his knees beside it. There would be a little red sanctuary lamp on the floor before it, with the white wick floating in oil. At twelve o'clock the lamp would be lighted. If you should happen into the room--the parlor they called it-- in the early hours when the candles would be out, you would see only this, the red lamp with its tiny light flickering. It would cast a spell over you, this unsteady small light showing red on the floor beneath you. You would stand there and look at it, unstirring, unthinking, for minutes.

So, the Boy would get down on his knees beside the crib. It would be the same little crib they had last Christmas, and the Christmas before that. There would be the little imitation thatch shed, open in front. Outside, would be three shepherds with two sheep, kneeling. Inside, would be St. Joseph with his brown cloak and white beard and our Mother with her blue dress. In back would be the ox and the ass, the ox with his head low. And in the center, on a few wisps of hay-- real hay that the peddler fed his horse--would be the tiny figure of Him who was all the world.

He would kneel there, before the shed that was not a foot high, and move the figures about a bit. He always liked to have the ox and ass close to the crib. Then, he would study the presents, laid out before the crib as tenderly as the Wise Men must have laid out their gifts. They would still be in their boxes. He would not touch them, not until daybreak. Then, they would all stop for a swift minute on their way out to Mass.

Afterward, after Mass and Communion, they, with their glass of water drunk but not yet with breakfast, would strew the floor with red strings and wrapping paper and boxes. How much colorful rubbish a few little things could make! For there were but a few things before the crib: a fountain pen, a tie, two books, a box of handkerchiefs... He could recognize everything from their boxes, thin square boxes for handkerchiefs, long boxes for gloves and ties. . . . But he knew, anyway. He and his mother had conspired together for the family. He had his gifts, too. But they would not be put out until he was safely in bed....

Then, she would call from the kitchen. He had better hurry. It was getting close on midnight. So he would have his cup of tea, and a slice of brown-crusted white bread that had come from the oven that afternoon. And maybe a piece of the fruit cake, the rich, dark fruit cake heavy with spice and raisins that was always in the house on Christmas Eve. She would have her cup of tea with the cream-- for they would use the cream tonight-- showing brown gold on top. But she would have only tea for it was the vigil of Christmas.

That would be beautiful. He would tell her all that had happened at work. How old Nelson was worried because his little girl was ill, and it was Christmas Eve. How the yardmaster who cursed constantly was quiet today, and swore only when he was mad. How Big Mike had gone down to St. Mary's to confession with him, and how the church was crowded. Everything, everything. . . .

And then he would empty his pockets of all his money, including the gold piece the firm had given him for Christmas. That would be his supreme moment-- to give over every dollar, every cent. He had been doing that so long now but it never, for some strange reason, failed to make him gulp with happiness. Hadn't they bought the piano together, his mother and he, the upright piano with the green covering that came with it? Hadn't thy bought the new heavy rug for the parlor, the two of them, conspiring this way? Weren't they saving now to buy the house?-- the house out of town a little distance, the house with a garden, quiet, but near the church.

How happily she would look at him. How proudly. And he would drain his teacup so that he could hold the cup high and hide his eyes, his moist eyes. . . .

That would be beautiful, beautiful.

"Pray for those poor souls who have no home on Christmas Eve," she would say, as always she had said.

And the Boy would pray.



The Pullman porter gave a quick turn to the Young Man's chair. The Young Man who had been dozing sat up abruptly.

"Grand Central, suh."

The porter was holding his overcoat.

The Young Man was dazed.

Wasn't there tea brewing, and a red fire showing where the stove corner had been tilted? And across from him. . . .

Across from him was a row of Pullman chairs. Empty, of course. Who else but a harried reporter would be traveling thus into New York at eleven o'clock on Christmas Eve?

The porter took his tip and was gone. The Young Man made his way hazily out into the station.

And there were candles, one or two that spotted the room with yellow flames and threw long shadows. . . .

"Reservation?" asked the room clerk in the hotel.

The Young Man nodded and wrote his name. A tall bald-headed man in a dinner jacket staggered across the heavily ornate hotel lobby. Two gaudy young women tittered.

Candles, a few candles. . . .

"Front!"

A thin, small, ageless bellboy, in blue uniform and silver braid, appeared mechanically. He took his bags and led the way to the elevator.

And she was there, rising from the crib on the floor. How white her hair showed where it caught the light of the candles. . . .

"The heat on, sir?" The bellboy was turning the valve on the radiator. The steam began to pound through the pipes.

The Young Man moved to the window. Twenty stories below him the city was stirring out of its newly laid cover of snow. Even in the dark, the roofs were white, the cornices and window ledges were white. Far, far down, the streets were white, white spotted with black, streaked with black.

"Looks like a white Christmas."

The bellboy spoke impatiently. The Young Man gave him his tip. He banged the door as he left.

The Young Man turned back to the window.

It was the same little crib with its imitation thatch, and the few wisps of hay-- real hay the peddler fed his horse. . . .

The Young Man looked down. Everywhere there were lights, ragged lights, pointed lights, clustered lights, solitary lights, white, red, yellow lights. But the Young Man did not see. He drew the shade and turned from the window.

And there was St. Joseph in his brown cloak and our Lady in her blue dress and the tiny figure of Him who was all the world. . . .

The Young Man still had on his overcoat. Under the mirror of the dresser was a collar button of a former guest which the maid, in her cleaning, had missed. He fixed his eyes on it but did not see. He was without heart and his mind whirred. Where, he was asking himself dazedly, where in this world's maze of people and places, where in this wilderness of stars and philosophies, where is Home?

Hadn't they bought the piano together, and the rug....

The Young Man threw himself on the bed.

"Dear Jesus! Dear Mother of God!"

His sobbing filled his cell in the mountain of earth and steel, glass and stone.

"Dear Mother of God!"

And she would say, "Pray for those poor souls who have no home on Christmas Eve..."

"Dear Jesus!" He sobbed.

The while midnight came, and with it Christmas.



--From Dan England and the Noonday Devil, Myles Connolly, 1951

Nothing Necessary is Impossible

Last night I was able to hear the choir and orchestra rehearsal for Christmas Midnight Mass at the Oratory. I can't put into words how beautiful it was.

The bad news in and about our world is known. In its fundamental form, it isn't new, either. But the word I received while listening to the beautiful strains of the children's choir sing of the birth of Our Savior in Bethlehem was simple and direct. Nothing is impossible for Christ.

He entered our world of sin and darkness in profoundest humility, and conquered all. He desires our salvation, and has the power to effect it, if we but accept and respond to His love.

Come, Lord Jesus!

22 December 2009

Not-to-be-Missed: Midnight Mass at the Oratory


If you have read this blog for at least a nanosecond, you will know that I am a fan of St. Francis de Sales Oratory. But this Christmas, for Midnight Mass, there is something very special planned.

The Mass setting will be Mozart's Missa Solemnis in C, K.337. The usual excellent choir and schola will be supplemented by other musicians and singers of note, much as the Oratory has done for other classical Masses in the past. There will even be a performance by the children's choir--at least those who can stay up past midnight. ;-)

The priests of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest celebrate Solemn High Mass with a beauty not often encountered. A fitting way to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.

Midnight Mass starts at, well, midnight. There will be Christmas music before the Mass, beginning around 11:30pm. After Mass, a relic of our Lord's creche will be venerated by the faithful.


If you have not been to the Oratory yet, you couldn't pick a better time. Information and directions at the link.

Hey, Why Doesn't This Work for Quo Primum?


Thanks to Peggy at Southern Illinois Catholic for posting on yet another what-would-be-considered-an-outrage-if-the-Democrats-hadn't-already-committed-so-many-outrages-in-this-heathcare-takeover-that-our-outrage-meters-are-burned-to-a-crisp in the Senate bill.

To use shorthand of the playground, "I call no take-backs!"

Reid Bill Says Future Congresses Cannot Repeal Parts of Reid Bill

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) pointed out some rather astounding language in the Senate health care bill during floor remarks tonight. First, he noted that there are a number of changes to Senate rules in the bill--and it's supposed to take a 2/3 vote to change the rules. And then he pointed out that the Reid bill declares on page 1020 that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board cannot be repealed by future Congresses:

--There's one provision that i found particularly troubling and it's under section c, titled "limitations on changes to this subsection."

--And I quote -- "it shall not be in order in the senate or the house of representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection."

--This is not legislation. it's not law. this is a rule change. it's a pretty big deal. we will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law.

--I'm not even sure that it's constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a senate rule. i don't see why the majority party wouldn't put this in every bill. if you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future senates.

--I mean, we want to bind future congresses. this goes to the fundamental purpose of senate rules: to prevent a tyrannical majority from trampling the rights of the minority or of future congresses.


______________________


This leads me to demand that if such a provision can stick, I demand that it work for Quo Primum. Heck, if the powers that be would trade even up, I'll call it a deal.

The Only Reason This Isn't My House on the Right Is Because Even That Is Too Much Work


One More Thing about the Thing

I was talking to my brother yesterday, after the last post on the "health" "care" "bill", and it struck me during this conversation that there is one other major result of the Senate sell-out. While it may have been true for some time now, it was not yet undeniable.

And that is that there is no more semblance or pretense of representative government in this country.

After all, what are people advised to do when they want to support or oppose legislation? Call your representatives; write letters to the editor; email, write and speak on behalf of your position; show up at constituent meetings; testify before the legislative body; vote in public opinion polls; sign petitions, bring community pressure to bear-- in short, make it clear to those public officials who are supposed to represent you that the majority feels the way you do.

Now, in the healthcare takeover debacle, not only was all this done, but it was done in such groundbreaking numbers and with unflagging zeal and effort that it could not have been more obvious that people did not want this bill to pass. The mainstream media smears and information blackout couldn't stop the success of the protests. Voting in the middle of the night like cockroaches afraid of the light couldn't hide the fact. Despite every disadvantage, the polls reflected unanimously that at least a solid majority opposed the House and the Senate bills. In fact, more people thought doing NOTHING at all was preferable to the bills on the table.

Yet, your so-called representatives, including every Democrat in the Senate, and the nearly every Democrat in the House, ignored you. Out of 216 Republicans in both houses of Congress, only one voted for it, Rep. Cao of Louisiana. These people couldn't care less about what you think. The leader demanded action from his chattel, and they performed.

Now, you are going to pay. You face being forced at the point of fines and jail to buy a product from a private company. Aren't the 5th, 10th, 13th, and 14th Amendments still in effect? I guess not.

The Republic is dead. Enter the Brave New World.

21 December 2009

Some Points to Ponder in the Aftermath

In the wake of the Senate's ram-job passage of the abortion-funding, old-and-infirm-killing, unconstitutional government takeover of the health care of every American (and those foreign persons present on our soil), I have the following thoughts, randomly presented:

1. Should sell-0ut Ben Nelson's "compromise" language on abortion funding stick in the final bill, at what point will we as Catholic and other pro-life citizens have to ask the question, "Can I purchase this insurance in good conscience?" If the answer is "no", and I am not saying it is until the final language is known and thoroughly analyzed, am I prepared to be fined or jailed for my moral stance? Or will we just cave? Then Ben Nelson can call us sell-outs.

2. Will this vote finally, please, end the abusive love relationship the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has with the Democrat party, and big government in general? This decades-long debacle has to stop. There are two analogies relevant here: one, the USCCB, the faithful and battered spouse, just keeps taking its punishment and hopes her bully husband will change his ways, all the while defending him to the neighbors; and two, the USCCB, the naive girlfriend who keeps getting cajoled into sacrificing more and more of her modesty in the vain hope that this last humiliating compromise of virtue will finally make the boyfriend love and respect her.

Persecution of the faith is already here. It will intensify. We need to remember that the true Spouse of the Church is Christ. He stands at the door and knocks. However many faithful Catholics who are left in this country are facing the prospect of fines, jail or worse in the coming decades. Will the Church not stand with them?

3. It is always good to remember that Christ's victory is assured. Assured. All we have to do is to be on His side to enjoy it when it is consummated. No earthly power can prevent this victory, and we must pray for courage, grace, and the accomplishment of God's will in our lives. I remember someone told me a few weeks ago that (I think) St. Ignatius of Loyola was asked in the light of some crisis of the time where was the safest place to be in the time of danger.

His answer is most instructive: Firmly in the will of God.

Amen.

20 December 2009

Declaring Pius XII Venerable Angers Jews, Says the NY Daily News

In other breaking news, water is wet.

I don't know, it seems a little outrageous to oppose the path to sainthood in a religion other than one's own by clinging to slanders and libels that have been disproven one hundred times over.

But what do I know?

The Church has bent over backwards for decades trying to clear Venerable Pius' name while reaching out to Jews. Enough already.

Santo Subito!

19 December 2009

2,009 Years Later, in America


Herod gets an early start on Christmas.

The Price


Readers, no photo of the price here. My wife convinced me not to post images you can easily obtain from searching Google images for "aborted babies".

May the Blessed Mother protect us from the wrath to come.

Ben Nelson, the last sell-out.

Venerable Pius XII

The Holy See released a declaration today confirming the heroic virtues of Pope Pius XII.

18 December 2009

Total. Joke.


OBAMA SAYS BECAUSE OF WEATHER REASONS WILL RETURN TO WASHINGTON

12.18.09, 04:33 PM EST

OBAMA SAYS BECAUSE OF WEATHER REASONS WILL RETURN TO WASHINGTON BEFORE A FINAL VOTE AT UN SUMMIT

Let's Play Jeopardy!


Was it just a dream? Or did I appear on Jeopardy! this week?

[dooodly-doot, dooodly-doot, wavy lines...]

"I'll take State-run Media Headlines for 400, Alex."

"Answer:
Federal Hate Crimes Cases at Highest Level since 2001"

Bing!

"thetimman"

"What happens when you call everything your politically-incorrect opponents do a hate crime and you have no problem using the power of the federal government to persecute them?"

"Correct!"

"Headlines, 800."

"Answer:
22 mid-Missouri people arrested in drug sweep"

Bing!

"thetimman"

"What does law enforcement do with billions of dollars of strings-attached government money instead of looking for Bin Laden?"

"Correct, well done!"

"Cool, Alex, let's do it for 1200."

(siren blares) "That's our first daily double!"


"I'll wager it all, Alex."

(crowd gasps)

"Answer is: Drunk 4-year Old in Drag Steals Christmas Presents."

"hmmm...."

"3 seconds"

"What is evidence of the first homework assignment of Safe-schools Czar Kevin Jennings' preschool program?"

"Correct! Nicely done! And that puts thetimman in the lead as we head to our first commercial break. Now a word from Metamucil..."

Perhaps the Only Time Dick Morris' Writing Will Appear in This Space

But, man, he has some insight here:

The charge of the 280 Dems

By Dick Morris - 12/08/09 05:45 PM ET

Let’s first channel Alfred, Lord Tennyson from his poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade”:

[...]


“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred. (two-hundred eighty)


But still you charge. Still you vote for a bill the American public has repudiated, after extensive debate, by 18 points. Still you back legislation that seniors oppose by two to one. Still you use your majorities to pass the single most unpopular piece of legislation in recent history.

Civil rights, Social Security, women’s suffrage — all of Harry Reid’s metaphors — were popular and had broad approving majorities. This bill has the opposite: a nation paralyzed with fear for what you are about to do to its healthcare.

Will you listen to the elderly who absorb 40 percent of medical care and not to the AARP, which you have bought by way of a promise to eliminate Medicare Advantage?
Will you listen to the doctors of America, two to one in opposition, and not to the AMA, which you have bludgeoned into submission via your threats of reimbursement cuts?

Will you stop to examine how, as Democrats, you can vote to slice $500 billion from Medicare and cut home healthcare? Former comrades-in-arms, former party-mates, do not commit party-cide by passing this bill!

Is this to be your epitaph? That you put all healthcare under government control? That your legacy is to be the waiting list to see a doctor? That the memorial to your public service is to be the denial of care at a bureaucrat’s whim?

Many of you must know that you are sacrificing your careers. Can Blanche Lincoln, Byron Dorgan, Harry Reid and others really believe they will return?

Can any of you believe you will remain in the majority after you have so flouted the obvious will of your constituents?

Why does this pied piper have such power over you? His approval is sinking in every poll at a pace unprecedented for presidents. If he promises you judgeships, ambassadorships, Cabinet posts or other patronage to enliven your retirement, can you doubt that there is but a two-year term in the offing?

And think about what the deficit you are creating will do to your country. The nation you have already burdened with so much debt that you know and we all know that inflating the currency is the only way out! In your souls you must know that in five years and 10 years and 15vyears, it will be the skyrocketing cost of the system you now put in place that will animate future deficits. You must realize that the CBO estimates are a fiction created by 10 years of taxing divided by six years of spending.

What has gotten into you? Where are your senses? What happened to your instincts?
Are you all to line up and drink the Kool-Aid, march off the cliff in lockstep? Charge into the cannon?

Charging an army, while
All the world wonder’d:
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

Have you truly worked for this all your life: to sacrifice your political careers to pass the most unpopular piece of legislation I can ever remember passing Congress?

17 December 2009

They Seek Beauty in Catholic Liturgy

The Anglican-rapprochement initiative issued by the Holy See is having an effect, and the flow of former Anglicans will likely continue to increase. Of course, as a primary matter, a person must convert his system of beliefs-- he must accept the Catholic faith.

But the other side of the coin--keeping the basic Anglican liturgical form-- begs the following question:

Why is keeping the Anglican form of liturgy necessary or desirable when the Catholic Church already has readily-available English language Masses? Why wouldn't former Anglicans simply attend the Novus Ordo in the vernacular?

To ask this question is to answer it. While it is not my intention to conduct a full analysis of the rubrics and theology of the Anglican use versus the Novus Ordo, simply observing the two readily leads one to the conclusion (assuming both have valid consecration as would be the case for Anglican use Catholic Masses) that reverence and beauty are found in greater quantity in the former. The beauty of the liturgy stirs the soul and lifts it to God.

This beauty and truth (speaking of accidents only--in substance they are the same) is most completely found in the Traditional Mass. The classical rite is celebrated exclusively in Latin. But the general rule that beauty in liturgy is not solely based on language is one draw to the Anglican use by English speaking converts.

In the Missouri area, it seems there is a group of Anglican use Catholics forming in Springfield. Information and videos at this link.

It is vital that the Church ensure that all her forms of the Mass are celebrated with greatest possible reverence and beauty. In this way, all of the faithful, regardless of preference of form, will believe as they pray and pray as they believe. Liturgical beauty is the a safeguard of truth and promoter of faith.