Kiss me, I'm Catholic.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Ecce Bloggum


*taps microphone*

It's official! Christendom has its first group blog: Fiddleback Fever. As its name would suggest, our blog is a veritable enchiridion of TradCatholic nerdiness. Current attractions: the story of the CowPope. Actual PHOTOS of the enigmatic Irish mafia. Parodies of the Odyssey. Commentary on the, um, abnormality of Christendom. (But you knew it was a weird, cool place already.) Oh, and if you were wondering what I look like - there are a couple of pictures there with me in them... though they don't capture my full imperial glory.

Robert: "Having delusions of grandeur, Meredith?"

Please do visit.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Small World...

Catholic Nerddom is a cozy place. Since I've been at Christendom, I've run into so many freakish coincidences that I've stopped being suprised by them. A few examples:

- I was in DC the other week praying in front of an abortion clinic with Christendom's pro-life group, Shield of Roses. There were also people from CUA, as well three priests who mostly spoke Spanish. One of these priests started talking to me, and I thought his accent seemed familiar... then he said, "I am in the Institute of the Incarnate Word." I blinked, mentally translated it into Spanish, and cried, "Oh! The IVE! My parish is run by priests of your order! Fr. Mallo..." His face lit up. "You know Father Mallo? You from California?" Me: "Yes! From Our Lady of Peace!" Sigh... now I'm missing Fr. Mallo and his quirky jokes about the Argentinian mafia... but I have the Mexican mafia and the even more fearsome Irish Mafia to worry about.

- After lunch I was walking down the path in front of the chapel, talking with a girl I had met on the way. Eventually I asked her what her name was... and she said, "Kari." Me: "Do you have a blog?" Kari: "Yeah!" Me: "BlurryFlurry?" Kari: "You read my blog?!"

- Robert and I were reading old issues of Latin Mass Magazine in the library. In one of them we found an article written by our theology professor. Guess we know his allegiance now...

- One of my friends came over just now to look at my blog. She read Cacciaguida's comment and said, "I know Cacciaguida's son. He went to the summer program with me."

- My new friend Sheila and I were having lunch. She said something about Hopkin's translation of Adoro Te Devote, and I chirped, "I love that translation!" We both started rhapsodizing about Hopkins, our beloved poet-priest, whilst the other diners looked on in bewilderment. Sheila: "I love the "th-" sounds in 'Mid-numbered He in three of the thunder-throne!' Amazing..." Me: "I love the same thing in 'How far from then forthought of, all thy more boisterous years.' It has this weight to it..." We ended up reciting "The Windhover" in sync.

- When we came out of Mass last Sunday at St. Mary's, Robert nudged me: "Look over there. It's Pat Buchanan!" Sure enough, there he was at the top of the steps, chatting away.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Computer Update

Well, I finally got my laptop hooked up to the school network. But now the photo-hosting software isn't working... the network is very iffy, and it won't let me start up Picasa. And last night I had a brush with disaster: I was trying (just for kicks) to see what a different template would look like on my blog, and the new template erased all of my modifications. I spent an hour and a half copying my links, graphics, comment service and sitemeter back into the template. Now the only reminder of the fiasco is an odd green line around my syndication links and sitemeter...

Argh! Computers!!!

San Isidro de Sevilla, ora pro nobis!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Polyphonic Bliss

(Last Sunday my friends and I went to Mass at Old St. Mary's, and I felt compelled to write about the experience. Unfortunately, the compulsion didn't make me any more punctual than usual... for which I apologize.)

Old St. Mary's is grey and gothic, rising vertiginously between the flat-roofed buildings on either side and making you notice the sky. Inside it is a very straightforward church. There are statues around the back of the church, and votive candles (electric ones, I noticed with a shudder), but there are no side chapels or mysterious recesses. With its slender gothic columns it is like a long straight road with a line of trees on either side. The walls are a pale peach color and the columns are painted to look like colored marble. The ceiling is dark rose over the sanctuary and blue over the nave, and all bound up with white gothic tracery. The sanctuary itself is an "inexplicable splendor" of white and gold - the intricately carved marble altar rail, the mosaic floor, the tiered steps running up to the high altar and aspiring reredos. It's an ideal setting for the traditional Roman rite.


We had gotten lost in the city and so we arrived late, and we came in crestfallen at the beginning of the Epistle. I had been to Old St. Mary's once before, for a Sunday morning Low Mass. The windows had looked dark and watery, as portholes in the nave - the navis, the ship - still washed in the ebbing tide of night. Dim blue light beaded in the aisles like a chilly dew.

But now the windows were glowing saffron with the light of the setting sun, their saints crowding forward, suddenly imposing in their startling brightness. The church was warmer and all its colors were quickened. The Solemn High Mass was unfolding at the altar. Little by little we lost our shame and disappointment in the wonder of it.

Plainsong came drifting down from the choirloft and we took up the familiar Credo from the Missa de Angelis. After that, the schola gave way and a second choir began a massive chord that sent chills down my spine. Fiat sonus... The ordinary of the Mass (excepting the Credo) was a polyphonic setting by some master of the Renaissance, and there was more of it during the Canon and during Communion. Overwhelming... I came out of Mass blinking back tears.

It seems to me that such music is a figure of God's grace. All I could think after hearing it was "Domine, non sum dignus." That I could hear this music! Music that really was "praying twice." Music so powerful that I couldn't imagine an unbeliever listening to it and wanting to remain apart from the Faith a moment longer, if only for the time that he was in the church. Music that could not be paid for, music requiring no entrance fee, music demanding only our reverence and our inner participation in its supplications. Music that, by soaring over everyday things, gave me an inkling of how much more glorious God must be than everything we know - than even the music itself. That was a Mass to remember...

There are times when I become resigned to the ugliness of rap thudding down the street, to bleak concrete buildings, to crudeness of imagination and stinginess in ceremony. I become embarassed at expecting anything better. And then this beautiful polyphony, so generous, so full of richness and dignity. It cheered me to think that this music wasn't outmoded by the passage of time, that it wasn't denied even to deracinated moderns like myself. It seemed to say to us, "You are not doomed to be children of your age. You are not estranged from your ancestors. You are one with your fellow Christians throughout time. Your lives have the same eternal significance, the same weight. The world is more wonderful and dangerous than you know, and God is greater than all of it." Oh, we say we believe all that, but the music makes you feel it in your bones.

Chant and Renaissance polyphony. I know that the world of liturgical music is wider than those two staples, but I could live on that stuff for the rest of my life...

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

"There was a disturbance!"

Sigh... my blogging ambitions are being mercilessly thwarted. If only I could tell you the secrets of my double life as the Liturgical Avenger.... but my enemies are many and powerful, and I would not want to arouse suspicion in the diocese of Los Angeles. I have said too much as it is. So here is my cover story, take it or leave it: I haven't been blogging because I can't figure out how to register my laptop on the school network. The administrator I wrote to hasn't emailed me back. That is why I have no pictures to give you.

But I do have sundry stories of my first three weeks at Christendom. First of all, here are two things I have discovered that you will not read in the College's promotional literature:

- There are more Trads at Christendom than you can shake a stick at.

- The woods behind Christendom are infested with Mexican bandits.

The first discovery did not suprise me - I met several Traddies at the summer program (including you, my dear lost_noldo), and Christendom is an ideal school for a Trad wanting a serious - and seriously Catholic - education. Still, it was a shock to see that half the girls at Mass wear mantillas. (Speaking of those thingumabobs, I finally joined the collective and bought one in DC. Whee! I could feel my POD quotient going through the ceiling...) I quickly fell in with four other Trads, and we decided to drive to Old Saint Mary's in DC every Sunday for the Low Mass. (We call ourselves the Quintrad... and we're planning a group blog. Because Christendom needs one, don't you think?)

I found out about the Mexican bandits in a more dramatic fashion. My friend Kathren (she calls herself Ren to distinguish herself from the rest of the Kathren's, Catherine's, Cathy's and so on) came back to Campion Hall the other day and cheerfully told us this story:

She had been having a picnic down by the river with some friends. As she was coming back up the path (by herself), she met a Mexican carrying a safe.

Ren: "Hey."

Bandit: "Hey, wanna come help me crack open this safe?"

Ren: "How about some other time?"

Bandit: "How about now?"

Ren: "How about later?"

Bandit: "..."

Bandit: "Oh man! You wouldn't call the cops on me, would you?"

Ren: "Nah, I'd never do that."

Satisfied, the Mexican trundled off with the safe, and Ren went back to the school. And called the police.

The police found the empty safe in the woods, but the Mexican was long gone. Apparently these Mexican safe-stealers have become a serious problem in the area, and there are Mexican gangs operating up and down the Shenandoah Valley. Exciting.


Well, this is the end of my dispatch from the Highest Tower of Regina Coeli. I'll be back with more to tell of Christendom... if the Mexican Mafia doesn't get me first.


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