Tuesday, July 28, 2015

You can't make it up

A church refreshed: A dispatch from an American Catholic future.

"Song leader Sophia Santiago stood to the right of the altar of St. Gertrude Church in Chicago and invited those in the crowded pews and in folding chairs to greet their neighbors. 'All are welcome,' she proclaimed.

"To the simple notes of a single piano, the parish choir and the congregation sang a sweet, lilting version of "Come to the Water" as liturgical dancers, altar servers, ministers of the word, parish chancellor Emma Okere and pastor Fr. Antonio Fitzgerald processed up the center aisle. The song filled the soaring interior of the 131-year-old structure. On a banner high behind the altar, in large, easily readable lettering, was a quotation from Pope Francis: 'Who am I to judge?'

"This was one of thousands of celebrations across the globe marking 50 years of rejuvenation and renewal dating from the election of Pope Francis in 2013, popularly called 'refreshment of the faith.'"

At first I thought it was a parody, and then I noticed that it was NCR, and had to laugh. These are the people forever locked in the bleak mid-winter of 1978. Patrick Reardon, apparently stung a little by the fact that the commbox instantly filled up with real Catholics laughing at him, instead of the usual NCR crowd of the greying-dreadlocked, said that he doesn't see what's wrong with it, the Chicago archdiocese, after all, is going broke and there's no one in the pews.

How it has managed, all through the last five decades, to fail to cross the minds of these people that it is precisely the kind of feminized marshmallow rubbish they have offered that has driven Catholics out of their Churches. Think about it for a second, Pat. What is the average age of the only people left in the world who still go to stuff like this?

Need some help working it out?

Good thing we got iPhones and Youtube, huh?

I've never been able to understand the inability of these ambered 70s "progressives" to see the evidence right in front of their faces. The polyester pant-suited anti-nuns who keep pouring more money into newer and shinier "formation programmes" for their orders, concocted by the very most up-to-date psychological experts, and who can't understand why no one comes. The Patrick Reardons who are incapable of seeing the plain fact that the parishes (the ones that are allowed to flourish without being stamped out by their so very loving and merciful bishops) that have retained even a modicum of traditional Catholicity are jammed with people, (young people, mostly married and often crawling with babies).

Dude, the reason the AD of Chi is broke, the reason there's no one in the pews, is because of this crap. The thing is, and obviously I'm not alone here, if you want me to get out of bed on a Sunday morning for this ridiculous chick-centered, nursery-school nanny-fest - and you've already abolished all the moral law - why shouldn't I go to the pub instead? I'll get a lot better music, there's beer and it'll be more fun, and I don't have to get out of bed before noon. And I don't have to be lectured on my failure to comply by a pinch-faced, beta-male feminist in a chasuble.

If all it's about is friendly warmth and "welcome" and togetherness, as Flannery O'Connor is rumoured to have said, "then to hell with it."


Live as though God is real

Live as though you're really going to live forever.

Live for eternity. Start now.


New Mac

Dear, lovely readers, who have supported me so kindly and generously for so many years,

just a quick little thank you for all the help that has come in to cover the cost of the Mac repair. In the end, it was decided that it was best to replace the machine entirely. The old one is still mostly functional, and can be used with some additional hardware as a home entertainment unit, but its days of getting carted around the world on the back of my bike are over.

I type to you today from a brand new Mac Air, which is great, but will take a little paying-for. The friend who purchased it for me isn't really wealthy, and I want to pay him back as much and as soon as possible, so your assistance has been a huge help. Thank you.


Saturday, July 25, 2015


Procession through the town on the Festa di Sant Antonio

Posted by Hilary White on Monday, 26 January 2015
What I like about Norcia is not only the food, the people, the weather, the monks, but the culture. This is a place that loves its traditions, and keeps them very consciously as a shield against the outer world that is becoming denuded of unique traditional life.

This is is a little video I took last winter on the Festa di Sant'Antonio when the townspeople bring their animals up to the monastery of St. Anthony and the priest blesses them all, and they have a little festa.


Friday, July 24, 2015

A long, long time ago, the first time I ever visited a cloistered monastery of nuns, the abbess who was leading our retreat told us to let our minds sit gently on the words of the psalms as they were being chanted in the Office. Don't try to grip it too tightly, that is force yourself to concentrate too hard, but let our minds take it in easily, like a cool breeze. She said that at some point during the retreat a phrase or verse might start to occupy our thoughts, and this was what was usually meant by allowing God to "speak to your heart".

Naturally, being young keeners, we three girls enthusiastically set about concentrating very hard on energetically allowing our minds to "float gently," which makes me smile now.

But Dom Calvet, (who once wrote an encouraging note to me) says here that this good abbess was quite right, and it has come about at last, now that I am no longer a young keener, that I also have a single line of the psalms rolling slowly back and forth in my mind, again and again.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at thy altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.


ONE DAY, as we were asking a Carmelite sister to tell us how she made her prayer, her heart to heart with the Lord, she responded that, for thirty-five years, one phrase of the Gospel was enough for her, and she returned to it without ceasing. It seemed to her that drawing on another source would be to be unfaithful to her particular vocation, or at least to the attraction which the Lord had given to her for her time of mental prayer. It is very true that the interior life, more than a response to passing impulses, is chiefly an effort to persevere in the direction of a continuous line flowing from the first grace.

The phrase that our Carmelite was taking in this way was drawn from the Gospel of John: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). The whole doctrine of salvation is contained in these few words: the divine paternity, the redemptive Incarnation, the role of faith, the drama of reprobation and the perspective of eternal happiness. The ancients gave a name to this verse of the Gospel of Saint John: they called it Evangelium in nuce, the Gospel in a nutshell.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Off for a bit...

The screen of my 2010 Mac, that has been threatening to die for the last six months, has finally this morning become almost unusable. It's currently only showing half of any page that's open.

So, the Mac is taking a little trip down to Rome to spend a while in the Mac store getting fixed, and I am staying here to hang with the kitties and will be computerless until it comes home.

But here's the catch. I could really use a little help paying for the fix. It's off warranty and the last fix I did (new keyboard and trackpad) was 400 Euros.

If anyone could see their way to dropping a few bucks in the paypal tip jar, that would be a great help. Send me an email at hjmwhite66@yahoo.ca and I can give you the info.

Thanks, and talk to y'all soon.


Saturday, July 18, 2015


This is a capital from a 15th century graduale (in the British Library,) with a little miniature portrait of St. Benedict and there's a hedgehog. Why is there a hedgehog? Because they're cute and people like 'em, that's why.

That's the middle ages.

I'm getting better with gouache, and having fun with marginalia. This is my version of a 12th century bunny playing an oboe.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Night sky over Norcia last night by my buddy, Emanuele Persiani. I commented: "WOW! Ho bisogno di guardare verso il cielo più spesso!" I should look up into the sky more often!

He replies, "soprattutto quando non c'è la luna!" Especially when there's no moon.

This neat moon-phase calendar says we're two days away from the dark-night. Just a little sliver left.

“I know that I am mortal by nature, and ephemeral; but when I trace at my pleasure the windings to and fro of the heavenly bodies I no longer touch the earth with my feet: I stand in the presence of Zeus himself and take my fill of ambrosia”
― Ptolemy, Almagest


Monday, July 13, 2015

St. Henry II, co-patron of Benedictine Oblates

Crown of Henry II, Emperor, Oblate, Monk and Patron of Benedictine Oblates

This from Vultus Christi:

Benedictine Oblates living and working in the world have two holy patrons: Saint Francesca of Rome whom we celebrated in March, and today’s Saint Henry, Emperor.

Holy Kings
Saint Henry, whom we keep today, on July 13th, is the first of a series of holy kings who begin to make their appearance in the calendar of the Time after Pentecost, precisely when, at Matins, we begin reading the story of Solomon, Israel’s wise and glorious King, the builder of the Temple.

On August 25th we shall celebrate King Saint Louis of France; on September 28th, the Martyr King Saint Wenceslaus; on October 13th, King Saint Edward; and on October 21st, Blessed Karl of Austria. What do all these kings in the Kingdom of Heaven have in common? With the exception of Saint Wenceslaus who, as a martyr, is honoured with the Mass In Virtute, from the Common of Martyrs, they all have the Mass Os Iusti, from the Common of Confessors.

An Authentic Spiritual Portrait
The first place to look for an authentic spiritual portrait of any saint is in the liturgical texts appointed for his feastday. From the Mass Os Iusti, we learn that Saint Henry meditated the revelation of Divine Wisdom, he spoke rightly, and held the Word of God ever in his heart (Introit, Psalm 36:30–31). He was not obsessed with the accumulation of wealth; he used his goods to distribute alms to the poor (Epistle, Ecclesiasticus 31:8–11); he flourished like the palm tree with its thousands of luxuriant blossoms (Gradual, Psalm 91:13–14). (A single palm tree bears multiple clusters of flowers; each cluster contains as many as 10,000 flowers.) He stood fast in the face of temptation (Alleluia, James 1:12) and relied on the truth and mercy of God when confronted with the lies and hardheartedness of men (Offertory, Psalm 88:25). Finally, when the Lord came for his good earthly king, he found him keeping watch; in the kingdom of heaven, he has placed him over all his goods (Communion, Matthew 14:46–47).

Keeping Watch
One of the things related about Saint Henry is that, on arriving in any town, he would spend his entire first night there in a vigil of prayer in a church dedicated to the Holy Mother of God. When he arrived in Rome in 1014, he spent the night in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Rome’s Bethlehem. While keeping vigil, he saw the “Sovereign and Eternal Priest-Child Jesus” enter to celebrate the Holy Mysteries. Saints Lawrence and Vincent assisted Our Lord as deacons. A throng of saints filled the basilica; Angels chanted in choir. It is noteworthy that in Henry’s vision Christ the Priest is a Child. One wonders if he was not keeping vigil before the altar of the Crib of the Infant Jesus in Saint Mary Major, a place of grace for countess souls through the ages.

Touched by the Book of the Gospels
Henry’s vision is very much like those of Saint Gertrude the Great: a pulling back of the veil, a glimpse of “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived” (1 Corinthians 2:9). After the Gospel, an Angel bearing the book of the Gospels was sent to Henry by the Mother of God. Normally, one kisses the book of the Gospels. Instead the Angel touched Saint Henry’s thigh with it, saying, “Accept this sign of God’s love for your chastity and justice.” From that moment on, Henry limped like Jacob after his night vigil spent wrestling with the angel (cf. Genesis 32:24-25). How fascinating — and how consistent with God’s dealings with men — that a mark of weakness should be the sign of a special grace!

The Oblate EmperorHenry was crowned Emperor in Saint Peter’s Basilica by Pope Benedict VIII in 1014. Henry cherished Benedictine life, spending time in monasteries whenever he could. His greatest joy was to occupy a stall in choir and join the monks in singing the Divine Office. Henry founded monasteries throughout the Empire and endowed them liberally. While detained at Monte Cassino by illness, he was miraculously cured through the intercession of Saint Benedict. Saint Henry’s feast, falling within the Octave of Saint Benedict, is a reminder of the special bond that united him with our glorious Patriarch. Saint Henry became an oblate of the Abbey of Cluny and then asked to make profession as monk at the Abbey of Saint-Vanne. The abbot received him as a monk, and then ordered him, in the name of obedience, to take his place again on the imperial throne.

Set Your Mind on Things That Are AboveLiving in virginity with his wife Saint Cunegonda, Saint Henry preserved the heart of a monk. Limping through life, because of his thigh touched by the Angel bearing the Book of the Gospels, Saint Henry represents every man who, while living in the world, is not entirely at home in it. “Set your minds on things that are above,” says the Apostle, “not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:3)

In what way was Saint Henry a monk in the midst of the world? He understood that his basic task as a Christian was to seek the Face of Christ. The Face of the Child Christ was shown him in that mysterious dream by night in Saint Mary Major. The Child Christ he saw was also the High Priest ascending the altar for the Holy Sacrifice. As an Oblate, Saint Henry surely knew that, in every Mass, his place was on the corporal, close by the bread and the chalice. The Child-Priest, in raising the paten and the chalice heavenward was lifting up Henry’s life, making it an oblation to the Father. He will do the same for us today. We have only to seek His Face and abandon ourselves into His hands.


Mad science

Electrocuting mushrooms.

Lightning Makes Mushrooms Multiply

...according to ongoing research that offers a solid scientific basis for Japanese farming lore.

As part of a four-year study, scientists in northern Japan have been bombarding a variety of mushrooms in lab-based garden plots with artificially induced lightning to see if electricity actually makes the fungi multiply.

(See pictures of Brazilian mushrooms that glow in the dark.)

The latest results show that lightning-strength jolts of electricity can more than double the yield of certain mushroom species compared with conventional cultivation methods.

"We have tried these experiments with ten types of mushroom so far and have found that it is effective in eight species," said Koichi Takaki, an associate professor in engineering at Iwate University.

It's interesting, I spose, but what I really want to see is videos of Japanese scientists with a lot of sticky-outy hair, wearing goggles and yelling "THROW THE SWITCH!!"

That's what science is supposed to look like.