Friday, December 25, 2009

Midnight in Rome

Update Jan. 4, 2010: Christmas pic

The Altar at Ssma. Trinita dei Pellegrini, dressed for Midnight Mass. To give an idea of the scale, the tall candles in the back from the bottom of the silver candle stick to the top, is about 12 or 13 feet, we figured. The candle sticks are about five feet high and weigh, what, I think about 40 pounds or so. It took about 20 hours of futzing about all together to get the altar dressed. People think these things just happen.
More pics here

I thought I would throw up some audio files I got last night at Midnight Mass at Ssma. Trinita.

The technology is a bit rough since I was just using my little hand-held digital voice recorder, and of course, we have all the coughing and shuffling that goes with recording in a big stone room filled with 300 people. But maybe this will give you the feel of really being there.

Also, I didn't record the whole thing but turned it on when something good was starting, so many of the clips start a moment or two after the music started.



Regina Caeli, some more Bach and the hymns accompanying the veneration of the Bambino

Later I will put some pictures up with it.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

...and to all a good night

I'll be back after Christmas...

if the world's still here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Of your charity...

Pray for the repose of the soul of the father of a good friend of ours, Thomas, who passed away unexpectedly this weekend.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.


Some words are fading out of the English language that really ought to be kept. A lot of the new words we are used to using, or the new meanings of old words, have nothing to do with The Real and one of the charming aspects of pre-20th century English is that it usually insists that words, the phonemes we make with our various pieces of equippment, actually correspond to something real.

Here is one I like:


Tolkien uses it all through his big book, usually describing the distance the Nine Walkers walked through Middle Earth on their quest with that term. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas, ran the tremendous distance from the Falls of Rauros to Fanghorn forest in pursuit of Merry and Pippin, and he measured it in leagues.

A league is a deeply Real, and very practical, unit of measurement that was originally Celtic, and was the distance a person could walk in one hour. It was about three miles.

Words should always mean real things. Whenever you read something, an article about politics, a book of literary criticism, philosophy, a speech, anything at all, ask the question, what Real Thing does this pertain to?

Only Real Things count.

Quick, what's the capital of...

The other day, someone in the course of conversation, casually asked, "What's the capital of Latvia?" Without batting an eye, I said, "Riga".

In school, I was really crummy at geography. I liked maps and rivers and things, but capitals of Europe all just kind of blurred together in one big unpronounceable heap of consonants, the kind you usually find toward the end of the alphabet.

Today, I'm writing something to do with Croatia, and the first thought I had was, "Is that a country now?" In European history, it can be difficult to keep track.

I have to say that one of the things I appreciate about the work I do is finding all kinds of things out about the world.

That reminds me of an excellent piece of advice John Muggeridge game me once. He said, "Hilary, the best way to approach journalism is as someone who doesn't know much. Start by admitting that you don't know, and then work on finding out. Finding things out and writing down what you have found out is the golden core of journalism. People who start out thinking they already know everything they need to know, end up writing for the Toronto Star."

David Warren once told me that someone once asked him at a party what he did for a living. He is fairly famous in political and journalistic circles in Canada and the US, so he didn't usually have to answer that question. He said this gave him a curious sort of liberty, so he said, "I write the stuff that goes between the advertisements in newspapers".

It is well, I think, to go through life knowing that you really don't know very much and that most of the stuff we do, unless we are building telescopes for NASA or developing cancer vaccines, is really not very important.

Remembering Canadian

I was just writing about the King of Spain, and from somewhere deep in the unused cobwebby recesses of my brain came the urge to start singing. "King of Spain" just started making a funny little memory itch.

Then it all came back to me...

I used to be Canadian.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Something new every day

The President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, came to visit the pope this week.

Just discovered he is a devoted fan of English hard rock, listing Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin as his favorite bands.

and don't forget, he grew up in the Soviet Union.

Where I'm working today

The St. Philip Room at the church.

There are worse places I guess.

The picture, which I just took, is oddly truncated and makes the room and the table look much smaller than it is. The big work table is actually at least 10 feet long.

To my left, there is a portrait of St. Philip Neri, that, I think, was one of very few (perhaps the only one) painted of the saint during his lifetime from life. It was painted on the underside of a table, under which the artist had to hide. St. Philip didn't like to have his picture taken.

"Amare Nescire."

I know that there are people who join us here regularly who know the story better than I, and could perhaps fill us in in the commbox.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A world of weird


Lutheran Benedictines.

Is the world weirder than anyone could imagine?

Why yes. Yes it is.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Irena Sendler

Maybe someone could send this along to Stephen Fry to give him an idea of what good Catholicism has done in the world.

It's Wednesday!

you know what that means...


(It's just for Giancarlo, really. An honourary Englishman who is learning to make soup the old fashioned way.)

Final proof

that Obama is, in fact, the antiChrist.

He's pre-empted a Charlie Brown Christmas...

you know, the one where they actually recite St. Luke's Gospel. On TELEVISION.

Glad tidings

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Pop Quiz

For all you happy NovusOrdoists out there.

1) What religious order is it?

2) Where?

Quick, name five famous Slovenians!


me neither.

Kathy summs it up

During the invasion of Iraq, I was working at a very famous charity in Toronto. The graphic designer sent around an email "suggesting" that we all go over to the new Iraqi "refugee" hire and give her our "condolences".

I emailed back wondering if we'd be making a similar gesture of concern for the American soldiers who'd volunteered to leave their families and fight and die to liberate the nation her countrymen obviously couldn't be bothered to liberate themselves.

My contract was not renewed.

I do that wherever I work. At the last place, they announced a big assembly about "global warming," so I asked if there would be one the following week about Bigfoot.

Arnie hates it, but I hate working for other people anyway, so it all works out great!

I'm with her. I think really the problem with life on planet earth in general is just other people.

Wait, why am I pro-life again?

In honour of the New Mass

It was forty years ago today, Sgt. Bugnini taught the band to play...

Thanks John Paul

In a recent debate on EWTN on whether pro-abort politicians should be given Holy Communion,
Fr. Reese said that "most of the bishops in the United States simply don't agree" that communion should be denied to Catholics, politicians who are pro-choice.

He continued saying that "it's a well-known fact that the pope, Pope John Paul II gave communion to pro-choice politicians in Italy." He put two rhetorical questions: "Now, is Father (Pacwa) more Catholic than the pope? You know, are these bishops (who deny communion) more Catholic than the pope?"

A short time ago, I was castigated in the commbox here for holding things against the Jesuits that were, if I recall, "Oh so 1970s".

I agree, such sentiments as these expressed by Fr. Reese are certainly holdovers from the Era of Peace n' Luv that I remember so well.

The only trouble is, that in the wonders and glories of NewChurch, the 1970s are aaaaaalways with us.