the daily musings ... of faith and culture, of life and love, of fun and games, of a song and dance man, who is keeping his day job.
Monday, June 17, 2013
“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Post-Father’s Day Edition)
As I stumbled onto this video of Bill Whittle from April of 2012, I was thankful for two things. One was that, for all its faults, the Fairfax County Public School system does manage to raise the bar high enough for its students, to avoid the ire of those who pay some of the highest property taxes in America. The other thing is that even my less-than-thirty-year-old son dumps on his own generation for being this shallow.
Now then, elsewhere on planet Earth:
• Commuters from New Jersey to Manhattan got on the highway to hell recently, as a 40-minute bus ride became two-and-a-half hours. (NJ.com)
• So, you're disabled, you're going to Disney World, and you'd like to earn some throwing-around money while you're there. Have we got a plan for you! (NBC News)
• Not long ago, we reported on the prospect of a flying car in mass production. But if the price is too rich for your blood, we found the next best thing out of the Czech Republic. (ABC News)
• We also reported lately of a woman who read her high-school sweethearts letters dating back to World War II. Well, imagine someone finding a whole stack of letters from that part of history, and then finding the writer's family. (KGW.com)
And that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.
One of them posted the link thereto, and I got over 500 visits today, which is about as much as I get in about four days -- weekdays, mind you. (H/T to New Advent.) C S Lewis once said he wrote the things that he wished others would write. I try to do likewise. Most writers will compose either a glowing encomium or a bitter screed. Neither would do justice to my father's story, so I simply wrote the truth. He was an imperfect man, who only reached perfection by Grace, in a life that just as easily could have turned out much differently, but for a decision made at an early age. A pedestal would have been too much even for him.
Since that time, he has passed into eternity, so here's what happened next.
That's my Dad in the picture to the right, from his days in seminary. He would have been eighteen-and-a-half in the spring of 1944. By this time, he would have already received tonsure (the ritual cutting of a lock of the hair, symbolizing admission to candidacy), allowing him the privilege of wearing the cassock outside of ceremonial duties. He would leave the seminary two years later.
Closer to the present, today's homily was about fathers and fatherhood. As master of ceremonies for the Latin Mass today, my place was near the celebrant, which included being seated near the pulpit, so if I had a problem keeping my composure, it would have been hard to miss.
Meanwhile, my son decided to post his own tribute to his dad.
… which is not quite what happened. I should explain.
My son recently graduated from the über-prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design, with a BFA in Interactive Media and Game Development, and a GPA of 3.4. Thirty-five years earlier, I graduated from an equally-über-prestigious program at the University of Cincinnati, with a BS in Graphic Design, and a GPA of 3.0. I simply pointed out that he did better than I did, which is even more remarkable when you consider that his high school GPA was … well, not so remarkable. But somehow, possibly from the after effects of an alcohol-and-drug-induced adolescence (so it's not really his fault, you see), this observation was embellished to take its present form.
So, we'll be having another one of those little talks when he gets back to DC next month. You see, you never stop being a father, especially when some punk-ass kid never stops being a little twit. But he's my little twit, and I love him for it.
The past has always had visions of the future, and when you look at the present from the point of view of the past, the future is the present. Or something. Back when this writer first had cable television in the mid-1980s, there was talk of being able to attach a keyboard to the device and access various and sundry online services. That did not quite happen, but if it had, it probably would have looked like this scenario, a feature of this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Raintown “If This Was A Love Song”
Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.
Raintown is a country music duo (which only looks like a quintet at the moment) from Glasgow, Scotland, consisting of Paul Bain and Claire McArthur, and whoever else is tagging along in the studio or on tour. The latter includes Stevie Lawrence, who plays the Irish bouzouki in this video, and has been known to do the same for ... the Red Hot Chili Peppers (duuuude!). You can add a certain amount of light and shade with just a duo with tight harmonies, and without a lot of overdone instrumentation.
“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (St Margaret of Scotland Edition)
We need a palate cleanser and it was either this, via 2Bucks Entertainment, or the report on the nine-year-old in Brooklyn who slammed a door on a robber’s arm, grabbed his gun, and fired at him to chase him out of his home. Yes, it makes for a good story, but it also reminds us of the sad reality, that alpha males are born, not made.
Meanwhile, among the beta males of planet Earth:
• Hillary Clinton began using Twitter today. "Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD ..." Admitting your obsession with pantsuits is the first step to recovery. (AP)
• A seventeen-year-old kid got hit by a car, flipped over, landed on his feet, and walked away with the whole thing on video. Not to mention ... Twitter. (news.ninemsn.com.au)
• Love is in the air, as a woman discovers that her mysterious online boyfriend is actually her ex-husband. So now he's a stalker, is that it? (TwinCities.com)
• Speaking of guns, in Texas, you can shoot anyone trespassing in your home at night, even if it's a hooker who took your money without, uh, completing the transaction. (San Antonio News-Express)
And that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.
Today is National Donut Day, celebrated every first Friday in June. This was the report on ABC News (the least biased of the "Big Three" if that means anything), of the day when we remember the contributions of the Salvation Army providing coffee and donuts at aid stations behind the Western Front during the first World War. Or something. But we're not here to remember a church that is not the One True Church founded by Jesus Christ -- no offense, guys, just sayin' -- but rather, to provide the necessary palate cleanser that is this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
Today, Catholics of the Western tradition celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
Outside of devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, there is none more popular or more identified with the traditional piety of Catholic life, than this feast, occurring on Friday of the week following the Feast of Corpus Christi. It was on that earlier feast when a Novena to the Sacred Heart would begin, culminating in the Mass and Office of today.
“Christ’s open side and the mystery of blood and water were meditated upon, and the Church was beheld issuing from the side of Jesus, as Eve came forth from the side of Adam. It is in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that we find the first unmistakable indications of devotion to the Sacred Heart. Through the wound in the side, the wound Heart was gradually reached, and the wound in the Heart symbolized the wound of love.” (1917 Catholic Encyclopedia)
There were various monastic communities who took up the devotion, but the real tip of the biretta has always gone to St Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-90), a Visitation nun who had a vision. While praying before the Blessed Sacrament, she saw Our Lord with his heart beating openly, and the sight of it all sent her into a spell of ecstasy. “He disclosed to me the marvels of his Love and the inexplicable secrets of his Sacred Heart.” To say the least.
But perhaps the finest explanation of this vision can be found in an episode of The X-Files, a detective series that ran on The Fox Network for nine years, and to this day has a formidable cult following. It is from the series' sixth season, and is entitled "Milagro" (6X18). It originally aired on April 18, 1999. It seems there were people being murdered by their hearts being removed by hand. FBI Special Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) visited a Catholic church, and coming across the image of the Sacred Heart, she runs into this unsavory fellow who explains the story behind the image to her. A piece of the dialogue, from the mysterious writer named Philip Padgett (John Hawkes), describes a vision:
His account portrays an almost sensuous quality to the Saint's reaction to this vision, in a way that one might rarely hear or read anywhere else. And just when we thought the influence of Christendom had faded from the popular culture (unless you include images created in tattoo parlors). Hope breeds eternal ...
A common practice in many Catholic homes until the mid-20th century (including mine), was the "Enthronement of the Sacred Heart," in which the family placed the appropriate image of Christ on the wall, and together recited the necessary prayers, pledging the consecration of the family and the home to Him, in return for special graces. Fisheaters has a good explanation of the whole she-bang, just in case it makes a comeback.
It could happen.
POSTSCRIPT: The above is published every year at this time. Some things need never be improved upon. And with that, we give a Tip of the Black Hat to the hundreds of readers of NewAdvent.org for being here, especially for the first time. And while you're here, you know all those Catholics who have been writing about that Boy Scout thing lately? Well, how about something from a Catholic who's actually ... oh, I dunno, IN Scouting??? Click here.
Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Paul McCartney “Coming Up”
Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature. Let's make this one a double.
“Coming Up” is a song written by Paul McCartney, and is the opening track on his second solo album McCartney II. With the album's release in 1980, the song rose to number two on the charts in the UK in just three weeks. Of particular interest is the music video, shown here with Spanish subtitles (and somewhat poor quality, as a better quality version is no longer to be found), with Paul playing ten different roles, and his wife Linda playing two, all through the magic of post-production.
Our second video takes the viewer behind the scenes, with Paul narrating the making of this video, and the identities of those being portrayed. This video is off the bonus disc of the 2011 remaster of McCartney II.
Whether the Beatles ever staged a reunion or not -- it won't happen in this life, obviously -- Paul has always been my favorite Beatle, and not just because he's left-handed or was in the Boy Scouts.
“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Bobbie Gentry Edition)
“It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty, Delta day ...”
I used to hear this song when I was a kid. It was written and recorded in 1967 by a Mississippi singer-songwriter named Bobbie Gentry. Gentry also had a hit later in the decade with "Fancy (Don't Let Me Down)," which was an even bigger hit for Reba McIntyre.
• Speaking of love stories, a ninety-year-old woman found her high school sweetheart's diary. She couldn't believe what it said, and neither will you. (viralnova.com)
• We all know penguins don't need much help looking dressed up for a night on the town, unless it's to greet an entourage of African dignitaries, in which case black tie is definitely optional. (Sky News)
• They look so content with their lives; the horse-and-buggy, the straw hats, the plain dresses with bonnets, the tightly-knit families -- we could go on, or we could uncover the ugly truth behind ... Amish fiction. (SolidarityHall.org)
• Skipping out on a class required for graduation is the kind of thing you’d expect from a slumping senior, but not the high school itself. It seems that students in Gothenburg, Sweden, have to go back and take a required religion class to graduate. They can just forget those alumni contributions. (UPI)
• Finally, in another tale of school days gone wild, they're picking on deaf kids now, as the Grand Island (Nebraska) school district is ordering a three-year-old boy to change the way he signs his name because it looks too much like ... hey, rules are rules, kid! (msn.com)
And that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.
Some of you -- okay, at least one of you -- may remember a story published here about three years ago, about a woman who was raising most of her eleven children on her own, with little or no support from the husband who abandoned them. Well, as with the rest of us, life goes on, children grow up, one thing leads to another, and then ... there's a wedding. This is what a wedding dance should look like, at least at some point in the proceedings, as one of the sons of our heroine starts a new life of his own. Perhaps he will fare better. We can always hope.
With the coming month being all about weddings (or so I'm told), this depiction appeared as suitable as any, for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
... is a sequence prescribed for the Mass of the Feast of Corpus Christi. Upon the institution of the feast for the whole of the Western church in 1264, Pope Urban IV commissioned Saint Thomas Aquinas to compose hymns for its Mass and Office, including Pange lingua, Sacris solemniis, and Verbum supernum. Our featured hymn tells of the institution of the Eucharist and clearly expresses the Catholic belief in the Real Presence.
While the feast is celebrated today, its celebration as an "external solemnity" on the following Sunday has long been tolerated, especially in countries where elaborate processions of the Blessed Sacrament would be better facilitated than on a weekday.
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Lauda Sion Salvatórem
Lauda ducem et pastórem
In hymnis et cánticis.
Sion, lift up thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Savior and thy King,
Praise with hymns
thy shepherd true.
Quantum potes, tantum aude:
Quia major omni laude,
Nec laudáre súfficis.
All thou canst, do thou endeavour:
Yet thy praise can equal never
Such as merits thy great King.
Laudis thema speciális,
Panis vivus et vitális,
See today before us laid
The living and life-giving Bread,
Theme for praise and joy profound.
Quem in sacræ mensa cœnæ,
Turbæ fratrum duodénæ
Datum non ambígitur.
The same which at the sacred board
Was, by our incarnate Lord,
Giv'n to His Apostles round.
Sit laus plena, sit sonóra,
Sit jucúnda, sit decóra
Let the praise be loud and high:
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt today in every breast.
Dies enim solémnis ágitur,
In qua mensæ prima recólitur
On this festival divine
Which records the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.
In hac mensa novi Regis,
Novum Pascha novæ legis,
Phase vetus términat.
On this table of the King,
Our new Paschal offering
Brings to end the olden rite.
Here, for empty shadows fled,
Is reality instead,
Here, instead of darkness, light.
Quod in cœna Christus gessit,
Faciéndum hoc expréssit
In sui memóriam.
His own act, at supper seated
Christ ordain'd to be repeated
In His memory divine;
Docti sacris institútis,
Panem, vinum, in salútis
Wherefore now, with adoration,
We, the host of our salvation,
Consecrate from bread and wine.
Dogma datur Christiánis,
Quod in carnem transit panis,
Et vinum in sánguinem.
Hear, what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.
Quod non capis, quod non vides,
Animósa firmat fides,
Præter rerum ordinem.
Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending
Leaps to things not understood.
Sub divérsis speciébus,
Signis tantum, et non rebus,
Latent res exímiæ.
these signs are hidden
to sense forbidden,
Signs, not things, are all we see.
Caro cibus, sanguis potus:
Manet tamen Christus totus,
Sub utráque spécie.
Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine,
Yet is Christ in either sign,
All entire, confessed to be.
A suménte non concísus,
Non confráctus, non divísus:
They, who of Him here partake,
Sever not, nor rend, nor break:
But, entire, their Lord receive.
Sumit unus, sumunt mille:
Quantum isti, tantum ille:
Nec sumptus consúmitur.
Whether one or thousands eat:
All receive the self-same meat:
Nor the less for others leave.
Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
Sorte tamen inæquáli,
Vitæ vel intéritus.
Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food:
But with ends how opposite!
Mors est malis, vita bonis:
Vide paris sumptiónis
Quam sit dispar éxitus.
Here 'tis life: and there 'tis death:
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.
Fracto demum Sacraménto,
Ne vacílles, sed memento,
Tantum esse sub fragménto,
Quantum toto tégitur.
Nor a single doubt retain,
When they break
the Host in twain,
But that in each part remains
What was in the whole before.
Nulla rei fit scissúra:
Signi tantum fit fractúra:
Qua nec status nec statúra
Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form:
The signified remaining one
And the same for evermore.
Ecce panis Angelórum,
Factus cibus viatórum:
Vere panis fíliórum,
Non mittendus cánibus.
Lo! bread of the Angels broken,
For us pilgrims food, and token
Of the promise by Christ spoken,
Children’s meat, to dogs denied.
In figúris præsignátur,
Cum Isaac immolátur:
Agnus paschæ deputátur
Datur manna pátribus.
Shewn in Isaac's dedication,
In the manna's preparation:
In the Paschal immolation,
In old types pre-signified.
Bone pastor, panis vere,
Jesu, nostri miserére:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuére:
Tu nos bona fac vidére
In terra vivéntium.
Jesu, shepherd of the sheep:
Thou thy flock in safety keep,
Living bread, thy life supply:
Strengthen us, or else we die,
Fill us with celestial grace.
Tu, qui cuncta scis et vales:
Qui nos pascis hic mortales:
Tuos ibi commensáles,
Cohærédes et sodales,
Fac sanctórum cívium.
Thou, who feedest us below:
Source of all we have or know:
Grant that with Thy Saints above,
Sitting at the feast of love,
We may see Thee face to face.
PHOTOS: Celebrations of the Feast in Greenville, South Carolina, USA (First Annual Southeastern Eucharistic Congress), in Antigua, Guatemala (Infrogmation), in Poznań, Poland (Radomil), and in Vaduz, Liechtenstein (Joyce Chan).
“Our entire daily lives cannot be occupied with purely religious practices; all of us have to eat, and most of us have and want to do many other activities besides. So though we cannot always be religious in this sense, we can always be Catholic, that is, the round of our daily activities can be conducted in such a way as to express and be in harmony with our Faith. And [this] can involve more than avoiding sin and exercising virtue.”