Kiss me, I'm Catholic.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Someone wake me up from this nightmare...

Fr. Pavone describes Teresa Schiavo's last hours.

You know what the most ironic thing was? There was a little night table in the room. I could put my hand on the table and on Terri's head all within arms reach. You know what was on that table? A vase of flowers filled with water. And I looked at the flowers. They were beautiful. There were roses their and other types of flowers and there was another one on the other side of the room at the foot of the bed. Two beautiful bouquets of flowers filled with water. Fully nourished, living, beautiful. And I said to myself, this is absurd. This is absurd. These flowers are being treated better than this woman. She has not had a drop of water for almost two weeks. Why are those flowers there? What type of hypocrisy is this? The flowers were watered. Terri wasn't. The other irony is - had I dipped my hand in that water and put it on her tongue - the officer would have led me out probably under arrest. He would have certainly led me out of the room. Something is wrong here.

As you may have also seen, those who killed Terri were quite angry that I said so. The night before she died, I said to the media that her estranged husband Michael, his attorney Mr. Felos, and Judge Greer were murderers. I also pointed out, that night and the next morning, that contrary to Felos' description, Terri's death was not at all peaceful and beautiful. It was, on the contrary, quite horrifying. In my 16 years as a priest, I never saw anything like it before.

After I said these things, Mr. Felos and others in sympathy with him began attacking me in the press and before the cameras. Some news outlets began making a story out of their attacks and said I was "fanning the flames" of enmity and hatred....

One of the attacks they made was that a "spiritual person" like a priest should be speaking words of compassion and understanding, instead of venom. But compassion demands truth. A priest is also a prophet, and if he cannot cry out against evil, then he cannot bring about reconciliation. If there is going to be any healing between these families or in this nation, it must start with repentance on the part of those who murdered Terri and now try to cover it up with flowery language.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Father StrongBad?

Cool story from Saintly Salmagundi about a Mexican priest who became a wrestler to raise money for his orphange.

Happy Saint Mark's!

If you're a Venetian, you'd better be partying today!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Carolingian Chorus from the Rock

Today the College celebrated the election of Benedict XVI at the 10:00 Sunday Mass. It was a Mass to remember. The bells started ringing and students in their Sunday best began flooding into the chapel. As the priests and deacons and acolytes processed in, we sang "Long Live the Pope!", that deliciously triumphalistic hymn. They really need to update it though. It's "a thousand million," not "three hundred million voices," hymn people. Sheesh. Get with the times. ^_^

There were blazing candles and blue arabesques of incense... gold fiddlebacks... the usual row of altar... guys? holding up red lamps on poles at the Consecration. The choir and schola sang from the loft and everyone in the pews bellowed the Missa de Angelis Credo and Sanctus, shattering (as we do every Sunday) the notion that Catholics can't sing. (I keep wanting to quote The Quiet Man: "Now, I want you all to cheer like Protestants!") The Kyrie, Gloria and Agnus Dei were from Byrd's Mass for Four Voices, there were Gregorian propers, and a few other polyphonic pieces here and there including O Sacrum Convivium, by I don't know who. The sermon went over the Holy Father's sermon today, especially these words:

The pastor must be inspired by Christ’s holy zeal: for him it is not a matter of indifference that so many people are living in the desert. And there are so many kinds of desert. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God’s darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.

Of course I couldn't help thinking of TS Eliot and Choruses from the Rock:

You neglect and belittle the desert.
The desert is not remote in southern tropics
The desert is not only around the corner,
The desert is squeezed in the tube-train next to you,
The desert is in the heart of your brother.

And then there is the answer:

Let me show you the work of the humble. Listen.
In the vacant places
We will build with new bricks
Where the bricks are fallen
We will build with new stone
Where the beams are rotten
We will build with new timbers
Where the word is unspoken
We will build with new speech
There is work together
A Church for all
And a job for each
Every man to his work.

Every man to his work! That was the gist of Father's sermon today. Then came the consumation of all POD'ity: At the end of Mass, we sang the Carolingian Acclamations in honor of Pope Benedict XVI. They seem to be synonymous with the Laudes Regiae, and I think they really do go back to Charlemagne's time. Now, I have sung these only once before, at Our Lady of Peace in Santa Clara sometime around Easter. And I've seen them printed in the Liber Cantualis we use at the College. They are the giddiest piece of Gregorian chant I've ever sung, and they run something like this:

Cantores: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.

Omnes: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.


Cantores: Exaudi, Christe. Omnes: Exaudi, Christe.

Cantores: Ecclesiae sanctae Dei, supra regnorum fines nectenti animas: salus perpetua!

Cantores: Redemptor mundi. Omnes: Tu illam adiuva.

Cantores: Sancta Maria. Omnes: Tu illam adiuva.
C: Sancte Joseph. O: Tu illam adiuva.


Cantores: Exaudi, Christe. Omnes: Exaudi, Christe.

Cantores: Benedicto, Summo Pontifici, in unum populos doctrina congreganti, caritate: Pastori gratia, gregi obsequentia.

Cantores: Salvator mundi. Omnes: Tu illum adiuva.
C: Sancte Petre. O: Tu illum adiuva.
C: Sancte Paule. O: Tu illum adiuva.


Cantores: Exaudi, Christe. Omnes: Exaudi, Christe.

Cantores: Paulo episcopo et omni clero sibi commisso pax et virtus, plurima merces.

Cantores: Sancte Timothe. Omnes: Tu illum adiuva.
C: Sancta Katerina. O: Tu illum adiuva.

Omnes: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.

Cantores: Rex regum. Omnes: Rex noster.
Cantores: Spes nostra. Omnes: Gloria nostra.


Cantores: Exaudi, Christe. Omnes: Exaudi, Christe.

Cantores: Magistratibus et omnibus concivibus nobiscum orantibus: cordis vera quies, votorum effectus.

Cantores: Auxilium christianorum. Omnes: Tu illos adiuva.
C: Sancte Michael. O: Tu illos adiuva.
C: Sancte Benedicte.(!) O: Tu illos adiuva.

Omnes: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.

Cantores: Ipsi soli imperium, laus et iubilatio, per infinita saecula saeculorum.
Omnes: Amen.

Cantores: Tempora bona habeant! Omnes: Tempora bona habeant redempti sanguine Christi!

Cantores: Feliciter!
Omnes: Feliciter!
Omnes: Feliciter!

Cantores: Pax Christi veniat! Omnes: Regnum Christi veniat!

Omnes: Deo gratias. Amen.

My friend Stephanie summed it up in one word: "Tribal." You had to be there to hear the schola, deacons and people cheerily trying to outshout each other, raising the roof of the chapel. "Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat"... that's carved on the side of the obelisk in St. Peter's Square. I've seen it myself. "Tempora bona heabeant!" Sorta the Latin equivalent of "Let the good times roll!" It's too bad I can't find a translation or music online. (Come to think of it, I can't find a complete version of Choruses from the Rock either. Huh.) But Catholic Encyclopedia has this super-nifty article on the Acclamation, and how it originated from Republican Rome. Lots of fun!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Cool Blogs

There are several blogs that I have been meaning to introduce for a long time, and I keep forgetting too. But I will do it now!

Enchiridion - This is the blog of SHEILA, my friend and fellow Christendom student. On it you will find lovely commentary on all sorts of poetry, particularly Hopkins, Tennyson and Chesterton.

¿Qué? - Yet another Christendom blog! Happy and silly.

Jade's Trick - My cousin runs this blog and he writes movie reviews. Most creative rating system I've ever seen.

Now go visit!

"The Beautiful is the Good."

The Babylonian starlight brought
A fabulous, formless darkness in;
Odour of blood when Christ was slain
Made all platonic tolerance vain
And vain all Doric discipline.

(from Yeats)

Benedict XVI wrote this back when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. (My thanks go to The Idyllist!) It is really stunning and it addresses all these questions that have been plaguing me for so long. In addition to having written this insightful piece on beauty, Benedict XVI is also a Mozart lover, according to George Weigel. I'm liking him more every day!

The fear that, in the end, it is not the dart of beauty that leads us to truth, but that falsehood, the ugly and vulgar, constitute the real “reality” has caused men anguish throughout time.... In Christ’s Passion, Greek aesthetics, so worthy of admiration because of its perceived contact with the divine, which yet remains ineffable for it, is not removed, but overcome. The experience of beauty has been given a new depth, new realism. He who is beauty itself let Himself be struck in the face, spat upon, crowned with thorns–the Holy Shroud in Turin can help us imagine all this in a moving way. But precisely in this face, disfigured in this way, the authentic, ultimate beauty appears, the beauty of love that goes all the way “to the end” and that, just because of this, reveals itself to be stronger than falsehood and violence.

Here comes little Clothesline... ::strongbad hums::

"Theology's good, but I want to know who killed who!" - Dr. S.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

All your base are belong to Ratz.

In AD 2005, a new papacy was beginning...

Liberal Catholic: What happen?
Bishop: John Paul II pass away.
Priest: We get signal.
Liberal Catholic: What!
Priest: Look up at chimney.
Liberal Catholic: Habemus papem
Ratz: How are you gentlemen.
Ratz: All your base are belong to Benedict XVI.
Ratz: You are on the way to salvation.
Liberal Catholic: What you say!
Ratz: You have no chance to survive make your time
Ratz: Ha ha ha ha.
Priest: Hallelujah!
Liberal Catholic: Take off every 'Feminist Theologian'
Liberal Catholic: You know what you are doing.
Liberal Catholic: Move 'Feminist Theologian"
Liberal Catholic: For social justice.

*snark* I found this on a thread at Amy Welborn's. She finally closed it because of all the snarling that was going on, but there was some funny stuff there. Someone translated Maureen Dowd's remark "The cafeteria is officially closed" into Latin: Cucumella cafearia clausa est. Wouldn't that make a great Papal moto?


::cue Imperial March::

I'm sooooooooo giddy!!!!!!!!!!

Fiddleback Fever stuff...

There's a lot of cool stuff at Fiddleback Fever: Sheila's account of the news of Pope Benedict hitting the campus, Christendom quotes ("If you're not afraid of dying in mortal sin, you're like a religious Evel Kenieval."), and a poem I wrote about leaving Christendom... before I came to Christendom. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Benedict XVI!!!!!

Te Deeeeeeeum laudaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamus...

Procession time!

Now begin the days of Pope Benedict XVI. May they be blessed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

Fantastic post on Prufrock and trusting God at Flos Carmeli. T.S. Eliot forever!

To think that Eliot wrote that poem when he was 19. I'd better get to work, no?

Elsewhere in the poem we see yet other consequences of refusal. "Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,/I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." Our lives are not beautiful, romantic, and perfect. They are the apotheosis of automation, of turning self off and turning autopilot on. Time is measured out in coffee spoons, in the mundane acts of the every day. We are weighed down by our trivia. We are weighed down by ourselves. So much so that, "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.//I do not think that they will sing to me." Perhaps some of the saddest lines of poetry ever written. I have come face to face with the ineffable, and because I refuse the question, because I refuse to look into the abyss of trust, I cannot experience it. I hear them singing to each other, but I am not invited to the chorus. Rather. "We have lingered in the chambers of the sea. . . Till human voices wake us, and we drown." We are submerged once again in the expectations and the forces of those who surround us. We are plunged into a sea of selfishness even though we have seen a better way.

Nella Terra di Mordor, dove l'Ombra nera scende...

I just found two great new Tolkien links. The first is to an Italian site which has the Italian versions of the poetry in LotR.

O stelle che durante l'Anno Cupo
Le sue brillanti mani hanno tessuto,
In campi ove l'aria è limpida e lucente
Vi vediamo fiorire pari a boccioli d'argento!

O stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sown,
In windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossom blown!

I don't know Italian, but it sounds cool anyway!

Then there is The Lord of the Rings Image Library, which lets you find just about any image from all three movies. You can go through it chapter by chapter... practically frame by frame...

I can tell that I'm going to be wasting colossal amounts of time here.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Pavel Chichikov

Pavel Chichikov has some great poems up today.


He crumbles bread—the well-intentioned one
Squeezes olive pits beneath his thumb,
Why invite a stranger here for bread
When only Friday since our Master’s dead ?

Shadows grow and fall—do not go hence
Cover us with night’s deliverance,
That day may never come may daylight cease
So much better hid from the police.

Now the stranger opens up his hands
Reveals the blackened apertures of wounds
All our napes that bristle with our fear
Have understood what consequence is here—

Sitting in the shadows of a room
It is the flesh of Him that we consume.


Unapproachable dim star above the tabernacle
You bring the dead to us in dreams
Those reconciled to death
To see we are not reconciled
Not knowing that we are signs
And sacraments to them, the living penitents

The candle burns above us, now behind us
Whispering, but when we turn, the darkness
Takes its place—
Those who are the living
Hover and address us in the watch of candles
White shadows of the lighted cross
And we the dead surmise that something present
But unseen
Has spoken words addressed by light:
“You are the dead but shall be living,
Watching in the night”


The helmsman beats the sea
With foam and milkwhite jade
And every wind of torsion
Receives the helm’s correction

No twisting or evasion
Eludes the plunging track
No providential sin
Avoids the chasing wind

Maintaining his direction
The helmsman steers the ship
And nothing can deflect
Not force or intellect

No compass does he need
His rudder is the Creed

Yet another... coincidence.

The day of the Holy Father's funeral was also the 20th anniversary of our chapel's consecration by Jan Cardinal Schotte. When the Cardinal was leaving Rome for America, John Paul II gave him a chalice and paten as gifts for us. Today Father Heisler used them at Mass.

And the Gospel today! "Stay with us Lord, for it is almost evening." Mane Nobiscum Domine. His last letter to us.

I shivered all over when I heard those words, as I'm sure many did.

Oh, and the rest of my cherry blossom pictures are here, at Fiddleback Fever.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Clothesline. Clothesline. Clothesline.

"I thought Fulton Sheen was God, alive in front of me." Dr. L.

Friday, April 08, 2005

"We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us."

At some dark hour before dawn (I think it ended up being 4:45) I went outside into the mist and cold and came to the gym, where many Christendom students were already gathered around the television. Ratzinger was giving his homily. It was wonderful, of course, and I was especially moved by a passage from the Holy Father's writings which Ratzinger quoted:

In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order: the order of love ... It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love and draws forth even from sin a great flowering of good.

It was awe-inspiring to see the square and streets and bridges full of people. Many had slept in the streets the night before. When the crowds began to leave, flowing over the Tiber, I remembered Dante's description of just such a sight and felt that shock of universality that is so peculiarly... Catholic. The Latin of the Mass was the main source of it though. Yesterday we had a Requiem Mass for the Holy Father in our little chapel, and today we heard those same words again. The same antiphon echoed in our tiny church and in St. Peter's Square: In paradisum...

But it was the singing of the Eastern hierarchs that got to me the most.

After it was over we went outside as the sky was beginning to lighten. The cherry trees around the school had begun to blossom three days ago, and today they are all in flower. This is what I saw:

There are some beautiful images of the last few days here.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Gift of Tears

...Is a gift that I do not possess. I wanted to cry when I heard that John Paul II had died, but I couldn't. I couldn't cry for Terri Schiavo either, even though I had been so close to her. But St. Ignatius of Loyola says that it's all right.

So many people on St. Blog's have seen the Holy Father, met him, made themselves students of his thought. I read all the stories in wonder. And I feel a terrible regret that I never really appreciated him like the others did. For me, he was always the Pope - I suppose that my naive, teenage heart thought he would be there forever.

I do have one concrete link to him, though. At the end of my orchestra's Italy tour, I gave my rosary to my friend Tobias, who was staying behind with his family. He was going to attend a papal audience, and he offered to take my rosary to be blessed by the Pope. Several weeks later I got it back in the mail. I hold it close to me these days.

Now I am going back and reading more of his writings. I can't believe that I had never studied his Letter to Artists before. (Of course, in 1999 I was 13 years old, and had barely started writing poetry. Still...)

And there are still so many stories about him that I have never heard. I loved this story that I read on hilary's blog:

The Young Man Saved My Life

Hitler's Nazi regime was finally defeated. Edith Zirer, a 13 year-old Jewish girl was among the starving people held at Hassak concentration camp in Poland, liberated by the Russian army at the end of the Second World War. Like the others, she was still wearing her dirty striped prisoner's uniform when she arrived by train and was carried inside the station, near the city of Krakow, where the future pope was a 25 year-old studying to be a priest.
On this day, the young girl huddled near a wall. Too weak to eat, she began to fall asleep, certain that she was about to die.
A young man came up to her with a cup of hot tea, the first hot drink she had been given in weeks. He left her and returned with a cheese sandwich on Polish black bread. She didn't want to eat. She wanted to sleep. But the young man forced her to eat for strength. He then told her she needed to walk for several kilometres to get on another train. She stood up but fell with exhaustion. The young man picked her up in his arms and carried her the entire way. She told him that all her family members were dead. As he carried her he told of his own loss of his mother, father and brother and that now he too was alone in the world. He told her that he also suffered but that one must not give in to despair through suffering but must figtht to live with hope.
Edith Zirer is now an elderly woman living in Israel. But she remembers the young man, his brown jacket and his soft voice. His name is Karol Wojtyla. She recounted her story and it was circulated by the newspapers around the world.
"His name remains engraved in my heart forever," she told one newspaper. "I would like to thank him form the bottom of my heart. He saved my life. I will never forget him."

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