Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Country

Dear (central, coastal) Italy,

you don't understand Hallowe'en. Not having seasons, you really fundamentally fail to grasp this quintessentially pagan, harvest autumn festival.

You are already well-equipped with death-festival material, the home of charnel houses and chapels made of bones, a place where ladies still go to have parties at the family mausoleum. I realise that the Catholic culture is dying out here, but you can just decide to revive it if you want. It's all written down in books. Go do native Italian things, related to All Souls and All Saints. The sane world wants this stuff to be preserved.

But Hallowe'en proper is something you really just can't grasp. It's about pumpkins and fallen leaves and straw-stuffed scarecrows on the porch. It's about decorating your house like a haunted house, trick-or-treating (properly, and only if you're under 12) and long slow walks, shuffling through fallen leaves in cold windy weather; bare oak trees and Edgar Allen Poe readings. It is, in short, Northern and English.


Umbria is different, of course. They've got both Autumn and Winter there. In the mornings, you can lie in bed, all curled up with the cat under the quilts, listening to the rain on the roof and the sound of gunshots in the hills as the hunters go after the season's wild boars, the smell of woodsmoke rising up from the valley to heaven through the turning leaves like an evening sacrifice...

Though it might start a little later in the year, since I was there last weekend and the leaves were mostly still green on the trees. So we might have to change it to "November Country".


Anyway, Italy, please stop doing Halloweenesque things in the middle of your perpetual-summer, Mediterranean-climate country. It's really just cringingly embarrassing. Like listening to an American trying to do an English accent; you just want to crawl away and hide from the humiliation the person is visiting upon himself.

So, just go to Mass on Saturday, OK?



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Here's for all you Halloween buzzkills out there...


Happy Halloween, ladies...


So, last night's anxiety dreams were fun...

I was dying of ebola in an Italian hospital in which no one was concerned at all about isolation protocols. I kept trying to tell them they needed hazmat suits, but no one could understand me.

Then a bishop came to visit me and started telling me that I was going to be fine because he was there to accompany me. I begged him to hear my confession and he pretended not to understand my English (common Italian dodge when they don't want to do something). He just went on and on about not worrying about my sins and that God loves me just the way I am...

Only there were a lot more bodily fluids involved.

I really, REALLy, need to move up to the hills.


I know: five minutes in the box for sharing too much.


More Pumpkinny goodness

What do you do with the pumpkin after Halloween? Traditionally, you just let it sit there and melt. Which I admit is often pretty fun.

But here's another idea:

a big chunk of pumpkin, about a pound or more
curry powder
cumin seeds
coriander seeds
sesame seeds
heavy cream

Cut the pumpkin into large chunks, about the size of your hand. Slice down into the meat to the skin, to score it and place in a roasting tin. Sprinkle generously with curry powder and cinnamon. In a pan, melt a bunch of butter. Grind a handful of the cumin/coriander/sesame seeds (that you toasted in a dry frying pan earlier and keep in a jar) in a mortar and pestle. Throw the seeds in with the butter and let them fry a little. Then douse the pumpkin with the butter, making sure it gets into the scored cuts. Roast in a hot oven for about an hour, or until it's toasty and crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.

When you plate it, douse in a little heavy cream. This will mix with the spices and the butter to make a truly gorgeous sauce. When you're eating it, gish each forkful around in the butter/spice and cream sauce.

Oh baby!!


The walls that divide us

Christ wants to see us reconciled rather than living as enemies, Pope Francis said in his homily at Mass on Tuesday, explaining that a true Christian lives with this hope.

“We all know that when we are not in peace with others, there is a wall. There is a wall that divides us. But Jesus offers us his service to break down this wall so we can meet,” the Roman Pontiff told those gathered in the Vatican’s Saint Martha residence chapel for his Oct. 21 Mass.


If we are divided, we are not friends: we are enemies. And he has reconciled us all in God. He has reconciled us as friends, as enemies, as strangers, as sons and daughters.”


“He who does not await Jesus, who closes his door to Jesus, does not allow him to go forward with his work of peace, of community, of citizenship,” the Pope noted, saying that this attitude of waiting is part of what constitutes Christian hope.

Unless you're one of those crazy Traditionalists or FFIs, in which case, you're pretty much screwed.

The Catholic faithful cannot participate at Mass, neither request and/or receive Sacraments from or in the Society. Acting otherwise would mean to break communion with the Catholic Church.

Therefore, any Catholic faithful who requests and receives Sacraments in the Society of Saint Pius X, will place himself de facto in the condition of no longer being in communion with the Catholic Church. A readmission to the Catholic Church must be preceded by an adequate personal path of reconciliation, according to the ecclesiastical discipline established by the Bishop.

...and have a nice day.


Just trying to keep score

Pope Francis said that those waiting at the threshold of the Church without going inside are not true members of the Church which Jesus established and on whom it is built.

“We are citizens, fellow citizens of this Church. If we do not enter into this temple to be part of this building so that the Holy Spirit may live in us, we are not in the Church,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse for his Oct. 28 daily Mass.

Rather, “we are on the threshold and look inside…Those Christians who do not go beyond the Church’s reception: they are there, at the door: 'Yes, I am Catholic, but not too Catholic.'

This, on the same day it was announced that anyone receiving the Sacraments from the SSPX are excommunicated latae sententiae...

Holy Father, I thought the message yesterday from your friend the bishop of Albano was that being "too Catholic" was bad.

Didn't you spend several interviews recently, and do a whole bunch of other things, to tell us all that we really don't need to be Catholic to be just fine and dandy with God? So, if the SSPX people are summarily kicked out (latest in about a dozen different conflicting messages about their status over the last ten years) how come the Evangelicals and atheists, Anglicans, Jews, followers of Tony Palmer and whoever else, all "need" to stay where they are and have just as much hope of going to heaven as the Officially Approved Catholics and we wouldn't dream of being so rude as to attempt to "prostelytise" and convert them?

So, as of yesterday's homily, the message of the Church, if we may attempt a summary, is:


Catholics "on the threshold" need to be "more Catholic," ... but not so Catholic that they embrace the Church's pre-Conciliar teaching about the Social Reign of Christ the King and that there is "no salvation outside the Church" because that would make them "unforgiving," "rigid" and "neo-pelagian" traditionalists with "crypto-lefebvrian" tendencies who like to attempt to "proselytize" people.

But people who aren't Catholic at all, our "separated brethren," liberal Jews, atheists, Muslims, Anglicans and Tonypalmerites all have to stay where they are because the Church and the world "needs" them there, and you can reach "salvation" through reading the Koran or Martin Luther or the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or whatever strikes your fancy, because there are "salvific elements" in ... well... everything.

...Oh wait no. Everything except being "too Catholic" in the wrong way, because Mercy!

Did I get it? What do I win?


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Double standards

Let your no be no and your yes be yes... unless it's politically inexpedient at the moment, in which case you should just start issuing random conflicting orders and confuse everyone.

A friend in another venue writes, "Rorate[Caeli] missed the real headline on this one. Follow me here. The bishop's letter reads:

'Therefore, any Catholic faithful who requests and receives Sacraments in the Society of Saint Pius X, will place himself de facto in the condition of no longer being in communion with the Catholic Church.'

"The real story here as far as I'm concerned is that this bishop has de facto refused the language of Vatican II and opted for a TRADITIONAL 'either or' understanding of COMMUNION! Do you see that there? Read the quote above again if you need to.

"Apparently the Eastern Orthodox and the Protestants are said to be in 'partial communion' with the Church. But the SSPX and whoever 'requests and receives Sacraments in the Society of Saint Pius X' is said to have NO communion."


Another points out the history of using interdict against large groups of faithful as a political weapon as a favourite pastime of Renaissance popes of the past:

Pope Clement V excommunicates Venice


Monday, October 27, 2014

Welcome to NuChurch, and...

Quick question...

If I understand this correctly, despite years of messages to the contrary, now "the Vatican" (ahem) is saying that the faithful cannot receive Communion in SSPX parishes....

But I'd just like to know one thing to help clarify a point of confusion: What if they're divorced and remarried?

Is it OK then?


Pius X"
[Roughly translated by a machine]

In recent weeks, were received by the Diocesan Curia requests for clarification about the celebration of the Sacraments at the "Society of St. Pius X," Albano Lazio. In this regard, it is considered proper to state that the "Fraternity" is not an institution (or the parish, or association) of the Catholic Church.

This is true even after the decree of the Congregation of Bishops, 21 January 2009 by which the Holy Father Benedict XVI, going kindly to repeated requests by the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, which revoked the excommunication since June 30, 1988 were incurred four prelates of the same fraternity.

This was pointed out by Benedict XVI with his Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church March 10, 2009, "the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers - even though they were freed of the ecclesiastical penalty - do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church" (in AAS CI [2009], no. 4, p.272).

Benedict XVI himself, the next letter m. p. Ecclesiae Unitatem of 2 July 2009 reaffirmed "the remission of the excommunication was a measure in the 'field of ecclesiastical discipline to free people from the burden of conscience represented by the gravest ecclesiastical censure. But the doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified, the Society
does not have a canonical status in the Church and its ministers can not legitimately exercise any ministry "(in AASCI [2009], p. 710-711).

As a result of the above, we must reiterate what has already been formulated in the Pastoral Note on SSPX Bishop Dante Bernini, where we read: Catholics can not attend Mass or take and\or receive the sacraments in the fraternity. To do otherwise would break communion with the Catholic Church.

Therefore, any Catholic who requests and receives the Sacraments in the Society of St. Pius X will arise from the fact [latae sententiae] in the position of not being in communion with the Catholic Church. A readmission into the Catholic Church should be preceded by an adjustment to personal path of reconciliation, according to ecclesiastical discipline established by the Bishop

[We] sincerely regret that certain options, especially if they relate Christian Initiation of children and young people, are in contrast with the pastoral guidelines of the Italian Church and the consequent choices of the Diocese of Albano, which are favored training for the growth and maturation of the life of faith.

Parish priests, the task of giving adequate information
to the faithful.

From the Curia Albano, October 14, 2014, Prot. 235/14.

Marcello S
emeraro, bishop

Didja catch that last bit? "...certain options, especially if they relate Christian Initiation of children and young people, are in contrast with the pastoral guidelines of the Italian Church..."

The what-Church, now?

Yes, can't have all that Catholicism messing up our nice NewChurch.



Meanwhile, this was yesterday: the SSPX celebrating a pontifical High Mass in the (hideous) Basilica of Lourdes, with full permission from the local Catholic authorities...

Messe du Christ-Roi en la Basilique Saint-Pie X (26 octobre 2014) from DICI on Vimeo.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Never a dull moment

Packed 15 boxes last night. Got all the paperbacks and most of the hardcovers, all the art supplies, nearly all the linen closet, all the CDs and DVDs. Ran out of juice around 11:30. I don't know why putting things in boxes is so exhausting.

Anyway, was tuckered out, so slept in and have spent the morning perusing the daily disasters, and it seems like the Synod has had quite a... well... an invigorating effect on many.


Here is Alessandro Gnocchi (in translation from Rorate Caeli), under the headline "Over half of the bishops (in the Synod) have already switched religion..."

We find ourselves confronting a Synod in which the majority of Cardinals and Bishops threw at least three Sacraments overboard: Matrimony, Confession, and the Eucharist. Church history teaches us that schisms have been consumed by much less. The dramatic point is in the fact that there are Bishops and Cardinals who are in substance schismatics in playing out their roles, with no sense of contradiction, in response to the pressure exerted by Bergoglio towards “the new”.

Lots of thoughts on this, of course, but something to keep in mind is that we knew what was going to happen at the Synod. I don't know if we anticipated that it would be quite so ... up front, let's say, but we certainly knew the general parameters. We had known, for instance, that for the most part only those bishops who were known to be in general agreement or who were likely to remain timid, were going to be invited. We also knew well ahead of time that the Synod's organisers were going to be getting up to some shenanigans, because, well, they basically told us. So while we know that the Synod itself was very illustrative of the problems we are facing in the post-Asteroid Church, we must remember that it is representative of a certain trend in the Church and is not the whole story. It is of course a very large trend, one might say the dominant trend, but it must be remembered that there are bishops out there, who were decidedly not invited, who feel quite differently about it.


As to that, we have something today which might be even more shocking than the goings-on in the Synod. Is my journalistic spidey sense failing me, or does this look to you like Notpope Benedict (who totally isn't still also the pope no more, not no-how, not no-way becausetherecanbeonlyoneandhetotallyresignedlegitimatelytotallyandcompletelyfreelybecausehesaidso...sothere)

publicly correcting Pope Francis...

"The risen Lord instructed his apostles, and through them his disciples in all ages, to take his word to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all people," retired Pope Benedict wrote. "'But does that still apply?' many inside and outside the church ask themselves today. 'Is mission still something for today? Would it not be more appropriate to meet in dialogue among religions and serve together the cause of world peace?' The counter-question is: 'Can dialogue substitute for mission?'

"In fact, many today think religions should respect each other and, in their dialogue, become a common force for peace. According to this way of thinking, it is usually taken for granted that different religions are variants of one and the same reality," the retired pope wrote. "The question of truth, that which originally motivated Christians more than any other, is here put inside parentheses. It is assumed that the authentic truth about God is in the last analysis unreachable and that at best one can represent the ineffable with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems realistic and useful for peace among religions in the world.

"It is nevertheless lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and its seriousness, everything is reduced to interchangeable symbols, capable of referring only distantly to the inaccessible mystery of the divine," he wrote.


Just some stuff to think about when deciding whether it is still worth observing the Church's old fashioned, rigid, unforgiving and judgmental rules about the Friday abstinence...

Anyway, I'm going to go out into the wonderful breezy sunshiny day, and walk on the beach-o before collecting today's batch of 20-odd boxes from the supermarket, and continuing to dismantle my life.

Here's hoping I make it out in time. I can feel the clarion call of the mountains, like the faint ring of hunting horns at the start of boar season. Enough of this warm, festering, louche and languid coastal existence...I'm ready to fight the elements for my dinner. Chop some wood. Maybe shovel the walk, like a real Canadian.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pumpkinny goodness!

What is wrong with processed food, in a nutshell? It's not food.

Well, as I was watching this very interesting video about the(mainly American) processed food industry, I was making a batch of Orange Soup. A long time ago a hippie/foodie told me that putting red lentils and sweet potatoes together gives you a "perfect protein". I really have no idea what that means, and I'm not really even interested enough to look it up on Google. I figure he was probably right, however, and that a "perfect protein" was probably good for you. Good enough. Other reading/rumours told me that orange food is good food. If it's got an orange colour, it's good for you. Vitamins and whatnot. So, I invented a recipe for soup in which nearly everything is orange in colour, and that involves an actual orange.


a knob of butter
1 onion,
2 or 3 garlic cloves,
3 large carrots,
1 sweet potato
1/2 a regular potato
big hunk of pumpkin
1 cup of red lentils
1 orange.
tablespoon of curry powder
tsp of cayenne pepper
chicken powder
1/2 pint of milk
125 ml heavy cream

Chop and saute the onion and garlic in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Peel and dice all the veg while it's cooking. When the onion is softened, put in the chopped veg and the lentils with enough water to cover comfortably. Simmer together, and while it's simmering, throw in the curry powder, chicken powder and cayenne pepper. Grate the rind of the orange and chop it very fine, and add it into the soup, then use the wooden spoon to ream out the juice from the orange. Let it simmer about 15 mins or until the veg is soft.

When the veg is cooked, take the pot off the stove and set up your blender with a large bowl, ladle, the milk and cream. Put on an apron, since it's going to make a little mess. About two or three ladles full at a time, pour the soup into the blender and combine with the milk and the cream in batches. Pour the soup into the bowl as you blend each batch, and when you're done, stir it all together, since each batch is going to have a slightly different ratio. Blend a good long while to get a really cloud-like texture.


You will be amazed! Really!


A martial race

Of all the positions in Parliament, he held the post of the ultimate protector of the democratic domain in that place. Yet no one seriously expected that he would have to act on it in such a fashion that he would literally be the one to put his life on the line to protect the institution from any invader.

People nowadays tend to forget that Canada was once a very warlike nation, and our military exploits, particularly in WWII, are still legendary. Canadians in war are regarded as personally unassuming, but implaccably courageous in battle.

Under the new Trudeaupian dispensation, Canadians are, with some justification, figures of fun to the rest of the world. We have funny accents and like hockey, apologise a lot, don't have guns, don't like Americans and get a lot of handouts from the government. We are, collectively, thought of as a nation of easy-going betas.

But there are still pockets of the old Canadian martial spirit that made a reputation for Canadians as a stoic, noble, soft-spoken people who are all but unstoppable badasses in combat. A harsh climate and a closeness to the land among most of the population - what politicians and high school social studies teachers call an agricultural and resource based economy - means men and women used to hardship and self-sacrifice, who appreciate the few luxuries they can afford and who are accustomed to looking challenges directly in the face and, most important, who care for their own, their family, their town and their country.

Yesterday, in the face of a particularly loathsome and seething evil that is growing everywhere almost unchallenged, one of those old fashioned Canadians stepped up.

Thank you, Kevin Vickers, not only for protecting our government, but for reminding us what true Canadian spirit really is.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Good thing we disarmed all the law-abiding Canadians...

Oh wait...


Experiencing mental stress and anxiety

Bad dreams... very, very, very bad scary dreams.

Moving is, I'm told, listed by headshrinkers along with the death of a spouse or child, divorce and loss of a job as the most stressful things we can do.


Laying off the coffee for a while.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What was it like to be in the war?

A journalist friend in Canada has just asked me what it was like to be up close and personal during ... recent events...

I respond:

Have you ever been swimming in the sea on a rough weather day?

It's sort of fun, but the waves just keep coming and coming, and some of them really pick you up bodily and toss you around, and sometimes you land in the same spot and it's still fun, but other times, which are totally random, it drops you in a spot where the water's over your head and then you realise it's not fun any more and you might be in a bit of trouble, but you're in the sea to have fun so you start struggling through the waves back to the fun spot because it's supposed to still be fun, but really, it's the sea we're talking about, which isn't actually a theme park ride but the frickin' SEA and it doesn't care at all if you're having fun or if you're fish-food.

It was kind of like that.

Only with more pizza.



Also, learning some important caffeine lessons. One cup, means alertness and ability to pay attention. Two means jumping around the house every few minutes to burn off excess energy. Three means having your arguments with the internet out loud in high-pitched incomprehensible yelling.

Normal Hilary

Hilary at third cup.


Gettin' outta Dodge

Well, that's two bits of moving news back to back: the moving guy came, looked at my stuff, wrote some stuff down on the clipboard, and said, 1000 E. Which is a little under what I was expecting.

Called Sandro the realtor, and he said, "You-ra 'ouse is a-ready. When-a you come?" It's going to be 1140 E for the flat: first, last and deposit. Then later I have to give Sandro his finder's fee, because the worker is worthy of his hire. I've learned that in Italy, your realtor will often become your biggest helper when you're moving to a new town, and will be your introduction to the whole community, esp in a place as small as Norcia.

My previous realtor, Mrs. Mazzei, the mad, sweet old creature, took a real shine to me, and helped me find a fix-it guy who came and made all my electrical sockets work, for five E. When I said I couldn't do without a freezer, she gave me one she had in her garage. She helped me with legal paperwork to get registered as a legal "guest" at the cop shop, and helped me get connected to the gas and electric and phone and whatnot, and introduced me to all kinds of helpful people. After I moved in and was settled, I made sure to bring her a bottle of something nice once in a while. She retired after year two in this place, but still greets me very warmly. I will miss her and am often at a loss without her when I'm trying to get things done.

Sandro has offered to help me get the paperwork done for a Rezidenza, which means that I would go from being a settled visitor to an actual immigrant, legally and whatnot. I'd have to start paying Italian taxes, but it would mean all kinds of useful official status (including no more annual fees for the health coverage, which is kind of important for me). He also said he knows a place that sells refurbished furnishings and appliances (doubtless his cousin or brother-in-law). This really is the way you have to do things here, and it really does help.

This weekend is the Traddie pilgrimage in thanksgiving for Summorum Pontificum, when Cardinals Pell, Burke and Brandmuller will be saying Masses for the Traddies, and then we all get on a bus and go up to Norcia for a talk from Fr. Cassian.

I told Sandro I'd drop by the office and sign things and give him the rents and deposits. I'm going to ask him if he knows a guy who can get me a gun and a hunting license: it's wild boar hunting season.

Oooo! It's really going to happen! Eeee! I'm excited!

This is the Abbey of San Eutizio, one of the ancient monastic foundations of the Valnerina. Just up the road in Preci.


Monday, October 20, 2014

How to think in three easy lessons

Now my expression, "people who don't know what the jiggety they're talking about" will become famous!

Why is it just nonsensical to say that "doctrine" and "pastoral care" are opposed? Because they are both about the same truth, the Truth, in fact.

Saying "The truth is true" sounds like it shouldn't need saying, but in the last two weeks, we have seen it denied either explicitly or implicitly by many, many people who are supposed to know better.
But what does "nonsensical" mean, really?

"Aristotle wrote: “there cannot be an intermediate between contradictories…This is clear, in the first place, if we define what the true and the false are. To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true; so that he who says of anything that it is, or that it is not, will say either what is true or what is false.”

My first post at Steve Skojec's project 1Peter5

Also, I looked things up to write it, even in a BOOK! So it's a really good one.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.'

Robert Hugh Benson died exactly 100 years ago today.

It's funny, because during the first week of the Synod, I just happened to be re-reading LotW and we were sweltering in some of the most miserable weather I've yet to experience in Italy in October, which is usually our month of relief from the Summer's Awful.

It was (and remains) unseasonably hot, incredibly dense, thick and humid, the kind of weather that makes showering redundant and in which one feels disinclined to breathe too deeply for fear of choking on the water. The air clings to you in a way that makes you wake up from suffocating dreams of being wrapped in a honey-dipped velvet blanket.

Towards the end of the book, when the final confrontation of the Antichrist was coming, Benson wrote of the horrifically and freakishly hot weather that was oppressing everyone and that in the end culminated in a colossal black lightning-riven cloud over half the world...

And then...


Dr. Shaw asks, "Where do we go from here?"

Cue catchy Buffy song which will now play relentlessly in my head until at least bed time.

What we have seen this fortnight is, nevertheless, quite scary. We have witnessed the operation, exposure, and defeat, of a ruthless attempt to manipulate the synod and, through the synod, the whole Church. There is no reason to imagine the threat this represented is going to go away.


How it's done in the old town

Allow me to help people understand what just happened by making a comparison with a piece of legislation that is ongoing in Italy, and the political concept of the "ratchet effect".

The Italian anti-homophobia bill started out an absolutely absurdist, almost parodic piece of legislation that no government could possibly pass. It included, among other things, provisions for the arrest and detaining of people suspected of being likely to cause offense to gays, and allowed the courts to order such people to undergo re-education programmes, part of which was to work for the gay lobbyist groups.

Of course, the response was howls of outrage from the right, and from (likely carefully coached) people on the left, defending civil freedoms like freedom of expression and religion, but with everyone carefully saying, "But of course we deplore the evils of homophobia itself... "

Parliament carved out all the really outrageous stuff in committee, and presented the bill, with its 400+ amendments, in a new and acceptable form. The gay lobby groups dutifully issued press releases complaining that it was now toothless, and the bill is now peacefully sailing through the Senate more or less unopposed, and we are about to insert for the first time into Italian law the concept of "homophobia" (still undefined) as an offence. Mission accomplished.

Ratchet effect.

Now, ask yourself how the mid-way relatio at the Synod could have fulfilled such a role. The first one was a red herring; it was so obvious a piece of liberal engineering that anyone, even those bishops who are not that... shall we say... attuned to the Traditional end of the Church were shouting from the rooftops that it was impossible. Then, a revolt in the synod aula, and everyone congratulating each other on having thwarted the forces of darkness.

Two days later, presto! Along comes the final document with most of the squelchy stuff taken out (sort of) and everyone is shouting that it's a major victory for the faith, and Sauron's Morlocks have been defeated... cue swelling Aragorn coronation music...

Everyone now goes home to carry on our "weak and ambiguous" business as usual.

Wondering if I'm making it up?

Ask our friend Mr. Terrence Weldon over at Queering the Church what he thinks...

"Two (or Three) Steps Forward, One Back Is Still Progress"

"The interim report got such a strong reception on Monday precisely because it was so very much more supportive than anybody had been expecting. The fact that the same language did not make into the final report therefore, should have surprised nobody..

"The LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council press release draws attention to just how close we came to an endorsement of full and explicit inclusion (emphasis added):

'We note that the paragraphs on homosexuality which did not receive the required 2/3 rd‘s vote, failed by only two votes, notwithstanding significant support from a majority of bishops.'


"If the more welcoming / progressive bishops failed to retain the positive language originally proposed, for us or for those who have divorced and remarried, because they only just failed to secure the required two – thirds majority, it is far more important to note the far more dismal failure of the reactionaries to secure even a simple majority..."


Saturday, October 18, 2014

So far from over.

So very, very far...

But Fr. Blake puts into words something I've been thinking: one of the better things to come out of this whole bizarre thing, as painful as it has been to watch, has been the absolutely undeniable fact of two utterly opposed and utterly implacable "factions" in the Church, and the war between them.

What will be very apparent is that there are definitely two factions, let's not be over dramatic, there is not a schism but there is a very visible split. And splits tend to multiply. [And I would say, widen, HJW]

The highly significant Kasper interview identifies it as a North South, black white split but there is also, significantly, a demographic split. Burke will be voting in the next Conclave or two after Francis is laid to rest, and possibly on his way to Beatification.

There is recognition too that Francis is partisan and really against collegiality, as much as any renaissance pope. I suspect that many Cardinals who voted for him are being forced to have serious second thoughts. His high-handed approach is more reminiscent of Vatican I, than Vatican II.

Too bad that war highjacked the Synod from its actual purpose, but maybe in the end that was really the more important topic...The catastrophe in the Church has been this Civil War that has not let up for 50 years. the aggressors were slowed and forced to be more stealthy and quiet for a long, long time, so much so that a lot of people almost forgot the threat. But they have roared back to life like the monster at the end of a horror film.

During this last two, agonizing, exhausting and incredibly stressful weeks a lot of things have come glaringly into the foreground that had previously remained the stuff of whispered, unofficial, backroom and coffee bar conversations. One of the biggest handicaps we have had has been the fact that very, very few have been willing to talk openly about the Church's civil war. Well, here it is, in all its glory, now undeniable, even to those whose strategy it has been to deny that it is going on.

More later.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Found another glorious Catholic musical gummy-sour

Suck on this for a while, it'll make you feel better.

(The drone really makes it a great creep-fest)


Spooky Catholic medieval wonderfulness!

Jinkies! This Eleanor of Whatsis Kyrie thing is a thrill-ride-stravaganza o' Catholic spooky!

Imna listen to it again. Right nowsies!

Man! Whaddya bet if we had stuck with this stuff in the churches, and tossed all that smarmy Hallmark pancake syrup of the 70s, this whole Synod business wouldn't have happened? Can you really imagine THIS Catholic Church producing that Relatio thing?


And really, it's not all doom n' gloom either...

I can't give details, but I thought readers would like to know that the news out of the Synod isn't all bad. We have received messages from bishops and priests who very much appreciate the threat of the general direction things appear to be taking, and who say that they are fighting for the Truth. Their names are both the famous and the unknown, but they are the real pastors and shepherds, and they are not giving up.

The laity who retain the Faith and seek to find ways to preserve and defend it often feel as though they are alone, but it isn't true. While they may not be getting the press they deserve, there are leaders in the Church who still humbly and bravely follow Christ. I can't for the moment give names and exact quotes, but be assured that we are in contact with these good men, and they know what we know, and are on our side.


Moan moan moan...

Well, yes. I suppose you have reason to complain. I know that since starting to use Facebook more, I have drastically reduced the average number of posts to this site, which I still think of as my Mothership. All the dozens of little quippy posts I used to put up here, just little quickie things responding to the absurdities in the news, I now more or less just started doing on my FB feed. And lately, even that has dropped off significantly.

I am also being told more and more that I can be paid for this sort of thing, which makes me less eager to continue to entertain you lot for free. Nevertheless, I am aware that this is like a virtual home, and all you, my loyal 500-a-day who have been with me for all these years, encouraging and commenting and arguing and making me laugh (not to mention frequently generously donating their hard-earned cash) deserve much better than such venal calculations.

I have come to sort of use this place as a spot for longer more personal, thinky posts about the stuff underneath the surface. This means, of course, that there will continue to be fewer of them. But be assured that this is still the more important place. And I'm thinking of y'all, and remembering that my little band of readers in this cozy little corner parlour are more interesting to me than all those faceless thousands out there.

Sue Sims, one of our longest-suffering reading friends recently shamed me by sending a note along with her very kind and generous donation to my moving/tooth fund: "Even if it's not for the root canal because the antibiotics have worked, put it towards the move. BUT... You'd better blog a bit more, or I'll turn up at your front door (you've described it so well that it's probably easily discoverable) and demand it back."

OK. I guess I forget sometimes that it's not just me talking to myself.

Soh, here are my two favourite videos describing in images...

what I think of Vatican II.5 the Synod...

and the whole yelling-fest, including the bishops and journalists...

(No, not really. I just wanted an excuse to introduce my favourite new funny-animal vidoe genre. Goats-yelling-like-humans... hilARious!!)

Aaand one more, that pretty much summarises how I personally feel about it all these days...


I wanna be a naturalist

And I gotta get me a coat like that one.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014


or, Why I'm not the least surprised or perturbed about the Synod or the Relatio.

Gravity works, doesn't it? It always works all the time. Same with math. Numbers always turn out the same no matter how you put them together on a page. Logic is the same kind of thing; a syllogism will tell you a true conclusion if you follow its rules, starting with true premises.

If you head off in a particular direction and keep walking along the same path for a long time, if nothing stops you, you will eventually reach your destination.

50 years ago, the Second Vatican Council started the Church off in a direction it was never supposed to go. Many, many people followed along in good faith, assuming that the people in charge knew what they were doing. But a smaller number of others sounded a warning, saying that the direction leads to a deadly falls.

Well, now we are seeing the roaring falls that we have been hearing, and largely not heeding, for all this time. There is still time, of course, to start rowing back and return to the true course. The closer we come to the falls, the harder it will be, but it can still be done.

The only problem is that most of the people we have in charge of the boat are paddling for the falls as hard as they can.

What happens in the next week will be crucial. There are, reportedly, a lot of people in the Synod hall who do not agree with this direction. They now have a sacred duty to make it clear that we do not have to go in this direction, that to do so is disaster. Do they have the strength to force the boat backwards now that the falls is in sight? Do they even have the vision clear enough to understand where we went astray in the first place?

I don't know. I only know that this is the wrong direction, and I don't have to follow. Even if I am the only one, I don't have to go over the falls with them. I seem to have been standing on the shore with my friends shouting at the people in the boat, trying to warn them. But they do seem to be getting further and further away, and the roar of the falls is now so loud, that I wonder if they can hear us at all.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thank you

Holy cow! Eleven days since the last post! Sorry.

There's just been a lot of stuff going on: bishops, popes, sore tooth and my little brain going "worryworryworry" all day long. The Asteroid 2.0 continues on course. Running madly around Rome talking to people. Editorial staff arrived from the New World. Miserable weather, with the humidity shooting up and giving the zanzare more encouragement...


First, I wanted to thank very sincerely the kind readers who donated so generously to my bleg for help with funding the move up to the mountains and tooth-repair. The money donated will make a huge difference.

The tooth has settled down with the application of antibiotics, but as soon as the move is done it's going to have to get a visit. I think it will be safe to push the root canal back another couple of months. No pain and the abscess is down (tbgt) but this time I'm finally convinced. It's going to have to happen sooner rather than later.

I looked it all up on teh internets, and found out that just trying to ignore a tooth with a chronic root infection can lead not only to the loss of the tooth, but "bone loss" in the surrounding err...bones. Yeah, that's my skull we're talking about "losing". So, OK. My fear of dentists and lack of moolah has just lost out to fear of my skull disintegrating. (No, it doesn't happen over night, and antibiotics can stave it off for a while... but still! Yi!)

The moving plan proceeds apace, though thus far, a bit slower than I'd hoped to get packing because of ... some stuff... going on in Rome, err... anyway...

Winnie still doesn't suspect a thing. (She's pretty dim, but always gets suspicious when the boxes start appearing.) But it really is truly astounding how much worthless crap we tend to accumulate in this life, even if we're not the sort of person who's into recreational shopping.

This weekend is set aside for shoving a lot of stuff into the huge double-strength garbage bags I bought. A friend has promised to come over and help me ditch a load of it and strengthen my resolve. We will be honouring the ancient tradition of getting rid of the really big stuff, an old mattress, by sneaking it out of the house at three am, propping it up against the local dumpster and running away.

But of course, at this stage in my life, no matter how much stuff I leave to the elements, it's going to be too much to deal with myself, so I'm looking at traslochi companies. It's the furniture. All this time, I've mostly had stuff that would go in boxes, but I guess part of being a grown-up is having stuff you need movers for. With any luck, this will be the last move for a long time.

In total, the amount kindly given will take a bunch of pressure off closing out the utilities accounts. Between my regular paycheque and other writing work, it's going to cover the gas and probably the electric.

I'm still looking at the moving company (€1150) and the actual cost of the flat (€1500) to go, so would still be very grateful for any help.

I managed to get a pic of the house from the internet.

It's up on the hill from the town walls, about a ten minute walk. The flat is the whole middle floor (that the Italians call the first but Anglos call the second.) There's a covered car port on the other side and the garden on this side goes up a sharp incline and is mostly shaded by that big oak tree. Above the oak there's a little flat space with one of those nice Italian brick barbeque things, and a little wooden table and chairs where you can have your tea in the mornings.

Th garden is much bigger than it looks in this pic, with the laurel hedge in the front hiding a strip of flat about ten feet wide running along the length of the property. Perfect place for climbing flowers and herbs.

I'm hoping little Winnie will learn to like going outside a bit. We had a flat in S. Mar for a while that had a garden and she got used to poking about and sitting in the sunshine in the flower beds, and even caught a bird once! I was so proud! But one of the neighbourhood bully feral cats started coming round and beating her up, so she gave it up. Having been the target of neighbourhood bullies, I was sympathetic. But it can't be good for cats to spend all their time indoors, and I have felt guilty about it ever since we moved in here. In the new place, the front door opens straight onto the garden, so I can start letting her try Outdoors again. Inside at night, though, because ... wolves. (Yes, actual wolves).

The road goes zooming straight down the hill to the Porta Romana, the gate that the sign says leads to Rome. I walked up the hill from the gate to the house in exactly 11 minutes. The monastery and basilica of San. Benedetto is another five minutes walk.

On another, completely unrelated note,

while the swimming season comes to a close, there are others who continue the exploration of the real final frontier.

I've been watching the videos of the Nautilus deep sea exploration expedition.

Ever heard of a siphonophore? Me neither until a short while ago.

Cool, huh?