Sunday, October 27, 2013


Feeling kind of Shatnery for some reason.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Do you have a vocation to religious life?

Every Catholic goes through it. I did. Everyone I know did. A lot of my friends spent time in seminaries, sometimes lots of time, and in convents. Quite honestly, folks, the pickings are slim out there in NewChurchland and I think that one of the more incalculable losses of the post-Asteroid Church are the lost vocations. Women who wanted to give their lives away to God for prayer and service and were confronted with...well, as we have seen. Men who would have devoted themselves to the solemn celebration of the Mass and the cure of souls have gone into business instead because of bad bishops and worse seminary rectors.

But things are different now, at least a little. There really have been a number of small groups coming to light in the last few years who seem genuinely to be doing the Real Thing. I have been keeping notes. I've taken to calling them crocuses; brave little flowers that spring up while all about still looks steadfastly wintry, some of them pushing determinedly up under the hard crust of snow.

No matter what the White Witch may think, it cannot remain always winter.

But the question, Do you have a vocation to the religious life? is one that continues to cause confusion. The collapse of All Things Catholic have left most of us without the spiritual tools to answer this deceptively straightforward question. The noisesome NewChurchian expression "vocational discernment" has come to mean a perhaps endless period of introspection and self-questioning that can drive some people quite dotty. I've seen people, even while receiving "spiritual direction," tie themselves into knots, convincing themselves (in at least one case of my acquaintance) that their revulsion for the notion, the feeling of despair and horror, are sure signs that they're being called.

We are, in our times of spiritual destitution, left to our own devices. We are encouraged by the general culture to think that decisions must be based on feelings. But these are so changable as to be useless as guides to judge what we ought to do. Our times are also rather short on self-knowledge. Oh, I'm sure we're all taught to be "in touch with our feelings" but how long does it take most of us to figure out what are our major character traits, and flaws?

There are all manner of silly "test your personality" quizzes on the internet, and I'm sure we've all indulged in them for amusement now and then, but self-knowledge requires clear thinking, and a certain amount of courage. What sort of people we are can sometimes be difficult to face, and we are again hampered by the culture that does not encourage the virtue of manfully facing up to realities.

In the old days, "vocational discernment" was much more straightforward. Before we began psychologising ourselves into knots, the questions asked by a priest to a young woman or man who came to him asking about religious life were blunt. And the conclusion more easily acted upon.

Below, we have a list of questions that used to be fairly standard, but I think which rarely get asked nowadays. I found them years ago on the website of the SSPX in Asia, but don't let that deter you. They originate from a little manual written by Fr. William Doyle, an Irish priest who was killed giving aid and comfort to dying soldiers at the Battle of Passchendaele on 16 August 1917.

Some years ago, I was talking about these things with a good bishop of the Church. I expressed my frustration with the advice I had received so far, saying that I was no further ahead in my "vocational discernment" than when I had started, being plagued with doubts and hesitations that resulted in me waffling back and forth over the edge.

He said that I was doing it wrong. The only way to "figure out" if you have a vocation to the religious life is to try it. The "discernment period" is what the postulancy and novitiate is for.

Here is the list of questions Fr. Doyle posed to his directees:

1. A desire to have a religious vocation, together with the conviction that God is calling you. This desire is generally most strongly felt when the soul is calm, after Holy Communion, and in time of retreat.

2. A growing attraction for prayer and holy things in general, together with a longing for a hidden life and a desire to be more closely united to God.

3. To have a hatred of the world, a conviction of its hollowness and insufficiency to satisfy the soul. This feeling is generally strongest in the midst of worldly amusement.

4. A fear of sin, into which it is easy to fall, and a longing to escape from the dangers and temptations of the world.

5. It is sometimes the sign of a vocation when a person fears that God may call them; when he prays not to have it and cannot banish the thought from his mind. If the vocation is sound, it will soon give place to an attraction, through Father Lehmkulhl says: “One need not have a natural inclination for the religious life; on the contrary, a divine vocation is compatible with a natural repugnance for the state.”

6. To have zeal for souls. To realize something of the value of an immortal soul, and to desire to co-operate in their salvation.

7. To desire to devote our whole life to obtain the conversion of one dear to us.

8. To desire to atone for our own sins or those of others, and to fly from the temptations which we feel too weak to resist.

9. An attraction for the state of virginity.

10. The happiness which the thought of religious life brings, its spiritual helps, its peace, merit and reward.

11. A longing to sacrifice oneself and abandon all for the love of Jesus Christ, and to suffer for His sake.

12. A willingness in one not having any dowry, or much education, to be received in any capacity, is a proof of a real vocation.

He notes that these are "some of the ordinary indications of a vocation, taken principally from the works of Father Gautrelet, S.J., and the Retreat Manual. No one need expect to have all these marks, but if some of them at least are not perceived, the person may safely say he has no vocation."

On the other hand, consider this. I have been told by reliable persons that if you do have some or many of these signs, there is a clear moral obligation to try to fulfill a vocation to the consecrated life.

So, chew on that for a minute...


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Churchy, Beery Monastic Goodness!

Hey everybody, look what I found!

The monks of Norcia's YouTube channel.


Friday, October 18, 2013

The Universal Call to Holiness

Hey Catholics,

I could use some help on a project. I'm doing a piece on what I call the Do-it-Yourselfers," saints who became very holy and/or mystics without entering holy orders or belonging to a religious order. Lay people who focused their lives totally on God and achieved great heights of holiness.

In Rome we see a lot of people who have, for whatever reason, been unable or unwilling to join the religious orders of the Church in their current form. They sometimes go so far as to make themselves a habit, and spend a lot of time in Rome's 900 churches, praying and making reparation. Some of them are probably at least a little nuts, and in other, less tolerant nations would likely be locked away or regarded as "homeless" and shunned. Here, they are are at least partly revered and are treated with a certain amount of deference.

Italians and other Catholics remember people like St. Benedict Labre, and Gemma Galgani, Anna Maria Taigi and Margaret of Castello.

It's these kinds of saints and blesseds I'd like to do a piece on, particularly the ones who most people might not have heard of, to encourage people in our... errm... difficult times.

The criteria are simply great holiness and the lay state. Members of secular/third orders, oblates and whatnot too.

Anyone got a favourite lay saint? Suggestions in the commbox pls.

St. Catherine of Sienna
St. Rose of Viterbo
Bl. Margaret of Castello
Bl. Mrs. Anna Maria Taigi
St. Benedict Joseph Labre
Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati
Bl. Ivan Merz
Bl. Frédéric Ozanam
St. Maria Goretti
St. Thomas More
St. Giuseppe Moscati

Nature isn't nice

A couple of friends of mine share a rented apartment here in beautiful Santa Marinella on the ground floor with quite a beautiful garden. It's a pretty big score, actually, since the landlord does all the garden work and my friends are both guys and don't really do gardening, but of course, like normal humans, enjoy having nice plants and flowers to look at outside their terrace.

One day we were all having a barbeque on the terrace, enjoying the beautiful summer day and looking at all the lovely flowers. One of our friends pointed to the tree with the big white trumpet-shaped flowers hanging down and said, "Wow, that's pretty. What is it?" As he said this, he went to poke it.

I stopped him.

Brugmansia has got to be one of the evilest plants nature has ever thrown at unsuspecting gardeners. I first saw one in the big dome botanical garden at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver. It was huge; at least 20 feet high, and the flowers were double. It was so beautiful I immediately wanted one at home, and never forgot it. One of the most exotically beautiful plants I've yet seen.

Seeing that they grow here outdoors and a lot of people have one in their garden, I looked it up to see what it was called so I could ask my friendly garden centre guy for one. After that I decided not only that I wouldn't get one, but that Brugmansia was one of the signs of the End Times. I don't think I recall any plant other than certain species of mushrooms being so horrifyingly poisonous.

Get this:

Brugmansia have also traditionally been used in many South American indigenous cultures in medical preparations and as a ritualistic hallucinogen for divination, to communicate with ancestors, as a poison in sorcery and black magic, and for prophecy. Medicinally... external uses include the treating of aches and pains, dermatitis, orchitis, arthritis, rheumatism, headaches, infections, and as an anti-inflammatory. They have been used internally much more rarely due to the inherent danger of ingestion. ...In a concentrated or refined form, derivatives of Brugmansia are also used for murder, seduction, and robbery.

Apparently, it also makes you do un-fricken-speakable things to your loved ones...
Several South American cultures have used Brugmansia as a treatment for unruly children, that they might be admonished directly by their ancestors in the spirit world, and thereby become more compliant. [!!!bloody hell!!!] has been used to drug wives and slaves before they were buried alive with their dead lord...

[What?!! What?!!]

All parts of Brugmansia are poisonous, with the seeds and leaves being especially dangerous...Effects of ingestion can include paralysis of smooth muscles, confusion, tachycardia, dry mouth, diarrhea, migraine headaches, visual and auditory hallucinations, mydriasis, rapid onset cycloplegia, and death.

The hallucinogenic effects ...[are] "terrifying rather than pleasurable"..."a powerful trance with violent and unpleasant effects, sickening aftereffects, and at times temporary insanity". These hallucinations are often characterized by complete loss of awareness that one is hallucinating, disconnection from example reported in Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience of a young man who amputated his own penis and tongue after drinking only 1 cup of Brugmansia tea.

The Swiss naturalist and explorer Johann von Tschudi described the effects of Brugmansia ingestion on one individual in Peru:

Soon after drinking the Tonga, the man fell into a dull brooding, he stared vacantly at the ground, his mouth was closed firmly, almost convulsively and his nostrils were flared. Cold sweat covered his forehead. He was deathly pale. The jugular veins on his throat were swollen as large as a finger and he was wheezing as his chest rose and sank slowly. His arms hung down stiffly by his body. Then his eyes misted over and filled with huge tears and his lips twitched convulsively for a brief moment. His carotids were visibly beating, his respiration increased and his extremities twitched and shuddered of their own accord. This condition would have lasted about a quarter of an hour, then all these actions increased in intensity. His eyes were now dry but had become bright red and rolled about wildly in their sockets and all his facial muscles were horribly distorted. A thick white foam leaked out between his half open lips. The pulses on his forehead and throat were beating too fast to be counted. His breathing was short, extraordinarily fast and did not seem to lift the chest, which was visibly fibrillating. A mass of sticky sweat covered his whole body which continued to be shaken by the most dreadful convulsions. His limbs were hideously contorted. He alternated between murmuring quietly and incomprehensibly and uttering loud, heart-rending shrieks, howling dully and moaning and groaning.

Did he start chanting, "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" as well?!

They should re-name this horrifying insanity-plant "Miskatonia Arkhamensis".

"Some municipalities prohibit the purchase, sale, or cultivation of Brugmansia plants."

I should bloody well hope so!

I've been kind of a half-assed amateur naturalist most of my life, and one of the most useful and important rules I've learned from it is: nature wants to kill you. All of nature. All of the time.

When it isn't actively trying to kill you, it's trying to breed on you.

Nature isn't nice.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Charge up your superpowers here

Play it loud enough to scare the neighbours.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013


It was a tree branch?! Seriously?

Remember August 14th, 2003?

That day, I woke up and debated which shoes to wear, the cute pointy ones or the practical flat ones. My guardian angel must have been whispering because I picked the flat comfortable ones. That afternoon I had a doctor's appointment somewhere way out in Scarborough, so I left the office early and got on the subway. I had transferred from the subway to a bus about five minutes before we started noticing that traffic was suddenly insane, and that all the traffic lights were off. Then I saw that the big box stores (Scarborough! yuck!) were all closed early.

Still didn't realise what was really going on until I got to the doctor's office and the building was shut and all the lights off. Some people were clustered around a van listening to the radio. That was when we learned that the lights were off on the whole right hand side of the continent.

Believe me, some thoughts about the end of the world and the post-apocalyptic movies I'd seen flashed through my mind.

Still, if civilisation were going to collapse, best that I be at home, so I started the long trek back across the city. Got a diesel bus back down as far as Bloor street at Pape station, but after that, had to join the throng heading out of the city on foot. And yes, people were standing in the middle of intersections directing traffic. A guy came out of his shop at one point when I was sitting having a rest, and handed me an ice cream bar. Others were selling bottles of water from ice chests for a greatly inflated price.

It took me about three hours to get home, including a stop at a pub to use the loo, feeling my way to the back of the place in the pitch dark. When I got home, I found all was pretty calm. I sat on the front porch, catching the last of the evening light, reading my book and waiting for my roommates. I put a bunch of the perishables into the freezer and made some dinner by candlelight.

A friend from work stopped by, saying she'd been dispatched by our office manager to see if we were OK over at Muggeridge Manor. They were worried in the office because they'd tried to phone, but, though the phone lines were still working ours was off. It was because our phone was a cordless and needed electricity (this was before every human was issued with a cell). So I invited Gillian to stay for dinner, instead of having to trudge all the way home.

We went for a stroll down Bloor street to see how the apocalypse was going. Disappointingly, people were quite cheerful. Lots of people had brought out tables and chairs and candles, and were sitting on their doorsteps chatting with neighbours and passers by, and letting the last of the commuters/walkers use their facilities. A single ice cream van, its on-board generator run on gas, was blazing with light and song, and doing a roaring business. It was August and about 28 degrees. The only other place with power was a Thai restaurant, so we went in and paid for food we weren't very hungry for to enjoy the cool air.

Another friend, who had power at his apartment building, came by and invited us over to his place, but we all decided to stay put for the night, and so had quite a fun evening. We decided to drink up the remaining mixer while there was still ice.

That night, I went to bed and made sure to switch on my radio so if the power came back on it would play and let me know. The next morning, Friday I think, I woke up, looked over at the dead radio and thought, "SNOW DAY!!" And bounced cheerily out of bed to make breakfast for everyone.

We had a very pleasant day, all sitting on the porch, reading the paper (the National Post had put out a five page edition that morning... the Toronto Star and the Globe were out for the count) and drinking vermouth and soda water. Our favourite diner, Tasty's, was open so we just had our meals out.

They didn't get the power back onto our street until Sunday afternoon. John Muggeridge said it was because there was one house on the block that had voted Tory and still refused to recycle.

It was fun. But I remember worrying about the water. Toronto pumps water out of Lake Ontario. The pumps are electric. There is no more than a few day's reserve. I really did wonder how friendly everyone was going to be when the water wasn't coming out of the taps any more.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Who's the nerdiest one of all?

OK, here's a nerd-tip for the next time you're playing Star Trek with the kids. (Or, you know, not with the the case may be.)

Go to Youtube and type in "Star Trek TOS bridge sound effect". You will find several 3-5 minute videos. Make a playlist of these. Then, open a second tab and type "Star Trek TOS enterprise engine sound". You will (perhaps sadly) find an assortment of "ambient engine noise" videos, some as long as 24 hours!. Pick a good one, and play while playing the playlist in the first tab at the same time.

Plug in your best Bose computer speakers, the really bass-y ones, and you're on. the. bridge.

Don't you love the internet?

Me too.

But don't try this at home with your home-made lirpa, ok?


Join me and together, we'll RULE THE SKIES!!!

I realise I'll probably end my days in an EU re-education camp, but one can dream.

And my favourite dream is that I'm one of those RV people and live my life "on the road", only my RV is a 66-ton vertical takeoff and landing, ballastless, variable buoyancy, rigid-fame cargo airship, kitted out as a Bond-villain lair ... and there is no road.

And my pet (aside from Winnie, of course) is a flying robot penguin named Oobleck.

My mother was an engineer. I coulda been an engineer...


~ * ~

Oh, so this is where all that extra traffic is coming from. Rod Dreher, the apostate who now makes a living talking about how he'll never return to the Truth Faith because... ummm...

Yeah, buzz off, heathens.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

It's SO good to be back on the bridge

Star Trek Continues E01 "Pilgrim of Eternity" from Star Trek Continues on Vimeo.

Apparently I'm not the only die-hard fan out there. This, at last, really is the real "next generation".

It's astonishing what you can do with modern technology. It's ... perfect. In absolutely every detail, music, lighting, the look of it. A tiny bit CGI-ish and green-screeny here and there, but otherwise, note perfect.

And the acting, though a bit patchy, is amazing in places. Vic Mignogna appears to be just channeling Shatner's Kirk. In fact, I'd say it's just pure Kirk. Every twitch, flicker; the walk, the shoulders, way he sat in the chair. It's almost creepy.

And yes, the reason the guy playing Scotty looks so familiar is that he's Christopher Doohan.

This seems to be their first full hour-long episode, but there's more here. And it has received rave reviews, so we can hope for more.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Steam-powered time machine!

It's the Steampunkiest!

Also, Charles Dance!


Why yes! Yes, I would, thank you.

The real question is whether I would ever like to come back down again.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

How to go to the beach

When I was a little girl, my grandma, who was English and born in 1903, taught me that only a certain sort of lady (you could almost hear her putting the quote marks on "lady") allowed her skin to turn colour in the sun. I never asked what sort of lady, exactly, but got the idea she wouldn't be very nice.

Grandma taught me, more through example than words, that it is a kind of feminine duty to maintain one's looks, and that the foundation of that was to care for one's skin, especially face, neck, chest and hands. I wore hats a lot as a kid, even while playing in the garden.

Grandma and I went to the beach together regularly, and she taught me to swim in the sea, but she was quite strict about the proper way to dress outdoors. One covered up. I put my swimsuit on, and then we each had a "beach wrap" of a light dress to put over top, (when I was quite small she made mine by recutting one of Grandpa's old cotton shirts) and then a hat to keep the sun off our faces. I remember hers particularly, it was black straw. Mine was pink with blue flowers.

When we got to the beach, grandma would lay out our towels and sit down, and I would take off my dress and run over the flat black shale pebbles and splash madly into the water. She always made me wear canvass sneakers in the water for fear I would cut my feet on the stones and barnacles. The best thing was to get a log off the beach and roll it into the water and use it as a canoe.

She would sometimes "take a dip," and always walked sedately into the water up to about waist deep, and would swim solemnly and deliberately across the little bay several times.

When I got out - and the water in the north Pacific around Vancouver Island is always icy - grandma would help me towel down straight away, and I would put my dress and hat back on. She usually brought a bit of a lunch with us, a thermos of tea and her sketchbooks with a stump or two of charcoal. I would sit drying off in the sun and watch her sketch the trees and mountains around us.

Sometimes I would lie down on the pebbles and let their heat dry me. You could almost hear them sizzling slightly as they boiled off the water, and then you could lie on them for a few minutes while they warmed you up. Then when you sat up, they'd be stuck to your skin. Then it was off to climb around on the rocks and poke my fingers into the velvety green sea anemones, pry the purple star fish off the rocks at the tide line, and see if there were any octopi caught in the pools. The beach always yielded fossils, tiny imprints of unimaginably ancient clam shells caught in the lava flow 300 million years before and turned to stone. I had a large collection.

That was how Grandma and I went to the beach.

This ugly business of displaying as much of your oily hide as possible, laying it down on a rented lounge chair and attempting to turn it the colour and texture of old saddle leather, along with about 10,000 other people doing the same thing, strikes me as unnatural and distasteful in the extreme.



I'm always happy when The Season is over in Santa Marinella, and the regiment of umbrellas comes down and the beach starts being cleansed of the summer detritus by the first storms of autumn.

It is true that Italian women are some of the most stylish and style-conscious in Europe. Their taste isn't really mine, (or at least Roman taste isn't; I was gobsmacked in Florence and have vowed never to shop for clothes anywhere else in Italy again) but in their own way they always take care to look good and they spend a lot of money on clothes, shoes, handbags, hair styling and whatnot. The shops are full of skin care products and cosmetics and there is always a crowd at Sephora.

Which is why I have never understood why they all want to roast themselves in the sun. It simply isn't possible that they don't know what the rest of the world knows about the damage the sun does to you. Quite apart from skin cancer, it simply ruins you. The science is done on this: the two things that most harm your skin, and therefore your appearance, are sun and smoking. And Italian women all deliberately roast their skin all summer and puff away while doing it.

When the doctors told me at the end of my first chemo treatment that, pretty much from now on, I was going to be extremely sensitive to the sun, that I must wear 50 spf sunblock every time I went out, wear long-sleeved tops and hats, and even carry an umbrella, they were a little surprised to hear that I already did all this. I was already well-resigned to walking around Italy looking like one of the little old English ladies in Tea with Mussolini. (I always hoped that I would turn out to be more like Maggie Smith's character, rather than that insufferable nitwit Judy Dench. No chance at all of turning out like the kindly and sensible Joan Plowright.)

Shortly after receiving these encouraging instructions, I was in the station bar buying a train ticket and a bottle of water, and there were two old chaps there having a coffee and a chat, as you do, and I noticed they were teasing me about my white, white skin. Not in a mean way (they're Italians, after all,) but they obviously thought it peculiar. I think they thought that because I was a straniera I wouldn't understand them, so they seemed surprised when I turned around and asked how old they thought I was.

The looks on their faces were priceless when I told them.


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Anne Catherine Emmerich


"I saw also the relationship between two popes ... I saw how baleful would be the consequences of this false church. I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city of Rome. The local clergy grew lukewarm, and I saw a great darkness...

"I had another vision of the great tribulation. It seems to me that a concession was demanded from the clergy which could not be granted. I saw many older priests, especially one, who wept bitterly. A few younger ones were also weeping. But others, and the lukewarm among them, readily did what was demanded. It was as if people were splitting into two camps."


"I see the Holy Father in great anguish. He lives in a palace other than before and he admits only a limited number of friends near him. I fear that the Holy Father will suffer many more trials before he dies.

"I see that the false Church of darkness is making progress and I see the dreadful influence it has on the people. The Holy Father and the Church are verily in so great a distress that one must implore God night and day…”

I don't usually talk about my own religious experiences or practice, really. I never could stand this nauseating, trendy nonsense of "faith sharing" or, as I like to call it, "indiscriminately blabbing all over the place details of the most intimate and private relationship imaginable". But here is one I will share, given the current circs.

Many years ago, I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was going through an excruciating process of re-entering the practice of the Faith. During that time, I was Devout. I prayed a lot. I went to Mass every day if I could. I went to confession a great deal. I hung out with other Devout people, and I read a lot of books about the Faith. It was at this time I discovered Peter Kreeft, who sometimes still gets a mention around here. He helped to walk me logically through the process. I think I read nearly every book he wrote up to that point. Kreeft introduced me to Thomas, and the rest, as they say...

However, I never really cottoned on to much of the "spooky" end of things. The Eucharist simply seemed to me a no-brainer. Of course the bread can become the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Son of God and feed us. What's the problem? Angels, demons, miracles, walking on water, bilocation, incorruptibility, liquefaction... it all just seemed perfectly sensible. Hardly even worth remarking on.

Where I drew the line was with all this "charismatic" nonsense. One could not simply work oneself up into a lather of emotional fervour and call it spirituality or "gifts of the Spirit". It was nothing but a bunch of enthusiastic, self-generated, egotism and pseudo-mystical rubbish. When one was praying, one did not get "words". I thought then, and still think even more now, that such things betrayed a childish (not, mind you, "child-like") faith, and the people who indulged in these festivals of egoism needed to grow up.

Thus, imagine my surprise when I was sitting in my usual back pew at St. Mary's Basilica one afternoon, reading my Breeve, and the name "Anne Catherine Emmerich" suddenly popped in there. I had heard the name of course, she was one of these visionaries. Beyond that, I thought it very suspect. But there it was: unmistakable.

I did not immediately go out and buy the book, however. It was not for a few years that I started just happening across her stuff now and then, here and there, as you do.

Many years after that, I was living in Toronto in the house of the late, great John Muggeridge, and we were having our little evening sit-down. It was our little unofficial prayer time. We would say the Rosary, and I would read aloud something spiritual of his choosing. One day, the book was the Dolorous Passion of Our Lord by Anne Catherine Emmerich. We got to the bit where she said that the angel told her that Stan would be released "50 or 60 years before the year of Our Lord 2000" and John, who had been sitting back in his chair listening with his eyes closed, suddenly sat up and said, "What was that?!" "I'll just read it again, shall I?" "Yes please."

After that, I started paying more attention to her.


The great outdoors

Where I start my beach-runs. This public beach access is about five minutes away on the bike. It allows you access to a beach that is partly public and partly private, with some pebble and some bedrock beach. I'll get some more pics today.


Put the duck in the chute...

Give me a ring. On Skype later today.


Monday, October 07, 2013

Dies Irae

Who told you to flee from the wrath to come?

Wikipedia, interestingly, notes that the 13th century hymn, the famous Dies Irae warning the people of God to reform their lives before it is too late, has been dropped from the New Liturgy:

(Emphases added...)

The "Dies Irae" was used in the Roman liturgy as the sequence for the Requiem Mass for centuries, as evidenced by the important place it holds in musical settings such as those by Mozart and Verdi. It appears in the Roman Missal of 1962, the last edition before the implementation of the revisions from the Second Vatican Council. As such, it is still heard in churches where the Tridentine Latin liturgy is celebrated. It also formed part of the traditional liturgy of All Souls' Day.

In the reforms to the Catholic liturgy ordered by the Second Vatican Council, it was retained only in part by the "Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy"—the Vatican body charged with drafting and implementing the reforms (1969–70). It remains as a hymn ad libitum in the Liturgy of the Hours during the last week before Advent, divided into three parts for the Office of Readings, Lauds and Vespers.

Nevertheless, the Consilium felt that the funeral rite was in need of reform and eliminated the sequence as such from the Masses for the Dead. A leading figure in the post-conciliar liturgical reforms, Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, explains the mind of the cardinals and bishops who were members of the Consilium:

They got rid of texts that smacked of a negative spirituality inherited from the Middle Ages. Thus they removed such familiar and even beloved texts as the "Libera Me, Domine", the "Dies Irae", and others that overemphasized judgment, fear, and despair. These they replaced with texts urging Christian hope and arguably giving more effective expression to faith in the resurrection.

Ab. Bug____ could not have been a Catholic. No Catholic would ever allow that anything in the Catholic liturgy or Faith could have "overemphasized judgment, fear, and despair".

Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceit: according to the tradition of men according to the elements of the world and not according to Christ.
Colossians 2:8


Sunday, October 06, 2013

Red Thai Chicken Curry... Hilary version

Finally got the knack of doing my own Thai curry. I bought a bunch of coriander and cumin seeds from the Bangladeshis at the Esquiline market the other day, and have been putting them in nearly everything but my tea.

In a dry fry pan, toast a handful each of coriander and cumin and sesame seeds, until the sesame seeds start to turn golden and the coriander starts to pop and crackle. Set them aside in a dish to cool then store them in an airtight container.


half an onion, chopped
two minced cloves garlic
slice some mushrooms
slice into thin spears some Romanesco Broccoli
slice some carrots into thin ovals
a large fresh plum, sliced thin
knuckle of fresh ginger, grated

(other nice things are yellow and red sweet peppers, Thai aubergines, Japanese sweet potatoes, parsnips, lotus root, or really any fairly hard sweet vegetable. All orange veg is good.)

Cut up one full breast of chicken (this recipe would also be good with gamberoni or other seafood if you're not into meat)

2 tbsp olive oil

250 ml coconut milk
teaspoon Thai green curry paste (watch out, hot! omit if you're not into spicy stuff)

1-2 tbsp Thai anchovy sauce (the Romans called it liquamen and put it in everything so this is not just a Thai recipe, but could easily be a Roman one)

a blob of tomato paste
a squeeze or two of ketchup

Saute in the olive oil the chicken and all the veg and fruit in a large skillet, until the chicken is cooked and the veg starts to soften. Meanwhile grind up in a mortar and pestle a couple of generous handfuls of the coriander/cumin/sesame seeds.

Once the meat and veg has cooked a bit, throw in the ground spices and toss so it' evenly coated. Allow a few more minutes on the heat.

Once it's becoming fragrant, dump in your coconut milk and reduce the heat to very low. Season with the liquamen, tomato paste, ketchup, curry paste, stirring gently. Once you've got it tasting the way you like it (all amounts above are approximate), stick the lid on, turn the heat down as low as you can, and go away and leave it alone for at least 20 minutes.

Eat with rice, or just by itself if you're paleo.

The secret to making Thai food taste that heavenly way that Thai food does, is the fish sauce. I was skeptical about this until I started trying to recreate Thai curry at home, but no matter what I did, it never did come out the way it was in restaurants. I did the curry paste, the coconut milk, the spices, everything, but it just lacked that special something.

Turns out it was fermented anchovies.

And that, as Robert Frost said, has made all the difference.


Thursday, October 03, 2013

OK class, pop papal infallibility quiz

Alright... everybody get down from that ledge, right this minute!

Sit down. Put your head down.

Here, breathe into this paper bag.


Now before you read any further, go put the kettle on and make some tea.


Feel a bit better? Now, just for fun, we’re going to review our papal doctrine,

OK? Pencils out...
1. Does the Faith come from the pope? Y/N

2. Does papal infallibility operate in every single thing the pope says and does? Y/N

3. Does papal infallibility mean the pope will always be on the right side of every political question? Y/N

4. Is the pope impeccable? Y/N

5. Does the pope have to understand the subtleties and nuances of Church politics, geopolitics, economics, the agenda of the media or the machinations of the various factions in the Curia and hierarchy in order to really be the pope? Y/N

6. Is it necessary for either the validity of the papacy or the survival of the Church for the pope to be a media rock star, a major player in academic philosophy or theology, have the right ideas about politics, economics, culture, sociology or history… or to even be personally likeable? Y/N

7. Can a pope be crazy and still be pope? Y/N

(Now here comes a hard one, so get ready,)

7. Can the pope be wrong on matters of Faith and morals? Can the pope be a heretic and still be the pope?

Give your answers in the commbox below.


Wednesday, October 02, 2013


Amazed at a fascinating new discovery I've made, through patient and painstaking experimentation, about nutrition and health.

1) If you don't eat very much of anything for a couple of days, you get tired. Really tired.

And absent-minded.


2) Caffeine suppresses the appetite, and makes you forget to eat.

Peer review journal, here I come!

~ * ~

Not for the first time
, I'm starting to feel sorry for Fr. Lombardi. Imagine doing fire-duty for This Man?

During the question and answer session, significant attention was paid to the lengthy interview published in the Tuesday edition of the Italian daily La Repubblica. Fr. Lombardi SJ explained that the text, like that of the interview published recently in La Civiltà Cattolica and America magazine (among other Jesuit reviews of affairs around the world), represents a “conversational” or “colloquial” form of communication. “It is not,” he explained, “a magisterial document.”

Gee, no sh...

~ * ~

Scruton! On beauty and painting, and the challenges for the artist in our [horrible] times.

He's sooooo dreamy!

~ * ~

My next piece for the Remnant: "How Pope Francis will save the Church. Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love schism."

~ * ~

From FB comments with friends:

K: As a member of the laity I can come to only two conclusions (without using my personal interpretation to decipher what is implied), and that is either he knows what he means and can't articulate it, or doesn't know what he means. Either way, both are exceptionally bad.

G: ... Shepherds are supposed to feed the sheep, not turn them loose and say "Figure out where the food is your damn selves."

K: Which is exactly what it sounds like to me. With the added sting that my pasture is too pretty and lush, so I must graze in the modern dirt heap.

Hilary Jane Margaret White: Unfortunately, K, there is a logical third possibility. One that even the Trads are afraid to articulate: that he does know what he means and he's saying it.

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Hmmm... it does kind of sound like a lot of people are going to be here for The Canonisation(s) in April.

I wonder if the historical moment in the Church is ripe for another


What do y'all think?


Let's play a game! - The "Shrinking Ice Floe" game

I hope everyone feels better today. No silly panicked runnings-off to the Orthodox or the SSP-2.5?

Good. The sun continues not to set on the Catholic world, and the Faith is still the Faith.

In fact, I predict that in, oooo let's say a year's time, nothing from the highest office in the Church, no implicit denials of doctrine, no fuzzy New Age blatherings, no ambiguously worded incomprehensible pseudo-theological nonsense will any longer come as a surprise or shock to anyone.

What we are experiencing now is merely the shock of hearing plainly spoken what has been implicit and said in coded language by the hierarchy for decades. We thought we could ignore it or wish it into the cornfield when it was "just" a local bishop, or "just" a parish priest or "just" a high-ranking Vatican prelate. We had the luxury of having the pope to point to and say, "Well, he's not saying that, so things are fine."

But how long has it been since anyone has been shocked by incomprehensible New Age Modernist gibberish coming from a cardinal or bishop? How long has it been since we learned to just ignore it, or at least allow it not to burden us personally?

If you are a Catholic, you know what the Faith is. If you don't, trust me, its written down somewhere, using very *very* precise and comprehensible language, leaving NO room for ambiguity or "misinterpretation". Look it up.

Do the work, people. The time of just sitting back and letting the pope do the driving is over.

In fact, we can have some fun.

Let's play a game! I like to call it the "Shrinking Ice Floe Game". We can sit back and watch to see which of our NeoCatholic friends will be the first to abandon their compromises and face up to reality. It'll be fun also to watch the increasingly desperate attempts of the professional neocatholic apologists to keep the whole business afloat. And I think I agree with Kat; this ought to be a drinking game.

Whenever the next interview, off-the-cuff remarks or homily chips away a few more feet of ice, we can yell, "Extra ecclesiam nulla salus" or "Viva il papa!" and chug a beer.

On the day, (which is certainly coming) when the first encyclical or other formal teaching document tries to deny a dogma or doctrine of the Faith, we can all meet back at Scholar's Lounge on the Via Del Plebiscito and get plastered together. Won't that be fun?

It's not a mean game. Polar bears can swim, did you know that? And Catholics don't depend on the pope for the Faith. There's nothing to fear; you don't have to stay on the ice floe.

I have to say, though, that all this has really made me feel much better. Unburdened. I can't tell you how sick I was getting of Cassandra Syndrome. Now that the Successor of Peter has decided to take over the task of demonstrating that the Traditionalist critique of the post-Conciliar Church was right all along, I can relax, and get on with what we should all be doing: being Catholic. Which means? ... Come on people, you know this one...

Embrace the Cross. Sure there's going to be suffering. Sure it's going to suck. Things are going to get higgeldy-piggeldy. But this is nothing new. We've known about this for a long time, whether we have been in stubborn denial or not. The Index of Leading Catholic Indicators and a bunch of other books told us all decades ago where this was going, and anyone with Catholic eyes to see knew precisely how and by whom it was being pushed.

Why should we be surprised or upset now when it actually gets there?

So, calm down. Nothing important has changed, because nothing important can change.

I've got more to come, of course, but I'm afraid I'm not going to be the one to waste my time demonstrating with documentation exactly which quotes were heretical or nonsensical. There's more than ample of that stuff around about. Plus, it's booooring, and I'm not going to do your homework for you.

Back in my day, when I started down this path, you had to actually leave the house to look things books... in a "library".

So don't complain.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Remain calm.

Watch the dandelion.

Do not freak out.

(More later. Busy now.)

~ * ~

One thing I will say, quickly, is: No more mister nice-blogger. Gloves are off. I prefer a straight fight to all this sneaking around. Bring it!