Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy!

"As of September 1, I will be the new editor of Catholic World Report magazine..."

"Southern man, better hang your head; don't forget what your Good Book said." -- Neil Young

Today, Father "Don Jim" Tucker gives a scathing commentary on the use of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" for Catholic worship, citing its terrorist overtones, and the misguided notion that the Northern incursion into the South was the hand of justice -- or something like that.

He also gives us a link to the lyrics. Now, I'm the first to maintain that the Civil War was not so much about slavery, as it was the rights of the sovereign States in relation to the central Federal government, and/or the cultural-political conflicts amongst said States left unresolved by the Founding Fathers. And the good Father might have a point regarding its use for Catholic worship, and not just in the South. He also raises another excellent point, about how this makes America look a little too righteous to the rest of the world (which is probably one reason for some of the bad press out there lately).

On the other hand...

If I had never heard of the American Civil War (or The War Between the States, or That Unpleasantness With The North, or whatever you wanna call it), I would never have identified such a hymn with any particular cause. For all I would have known -- just by looking at the words alone, and completely free of context -- it might have been some apocalyptic tribute alluding to the book of Daniel.

But we know it wasn't. It was inspired by a man who employed extreme tactics (terrorism, if you will) to challenge a system of involuntary servitude against a race of people. Jeb Stuart was right: "War is hell." Slavery isn't much better. Not then. Not now.

(ADDENDA: And while we're being nostalgic, this would be a good time to link to the official song of the good Father's home state, My Old Kentucky Home. The words were revised by the state legislature in 1986. As I recall, the second line originally read: "'Tis summer, the darkies are gay." Some things in this world are hard to endure, such that they can drive men to extremes. They did then. They do now.)

Monday, August 29, 2005

And now, for something completely different...

Sal and I attended a wedding last night.

The bride was Filipina, the groom Chinese, so the event combined the customs of both.

An altar was set up front, with a ceremonial urn (most likely carrying the remains of family ancestors) flanked by two red candles. The ceremony began (over an hour late) with the lighting of incense at the altar, and repeated bowing, most likely in tribute to the groom's forefathers. Later on, the couple was covered with a veil and tied together with a cord, a Filipino practice to symbolize the unity of their household. Also on the altar was a silver crucifix with two white candles. And while it was a civil ceremony conducted in a hotel, I'm pretty sure the officiant was not a judge, but an Episcopal priestess stationed nearby. On top of that, there was a Catholic priest, dressed in a clerical suit, who was on hand to bless the rings, and the couple. He appeared to depart from the traditional formula for both. This is just as well, considering his presence was probably -- shall we say? -- "under the radar."

There were a lot of pictures taken while we all sat around looking for something to do. So each table, one by one, started popping the champagne. An announcer asked us to refrain and wait for the wedding toast, but we politely ignored him. All in all, a rather, uh, spontaneous affair.

But certainly not dull. Also on hand were the couple's three children, the oldest a boy of about about eight or nine. (I guess their families have been working on this one for awhile, huh?) Not only that, but a tall and fashionably dressed woman with long beautiful hair came walking in later in the evening and took her seat. Sal identified her as... a "him." Yep, a fellow with, uh, gender issues, I guess. On two occasions, one of the bridesmaids chose to escort "her" outside. "She" didn't look too happy. I didn't get it.

Fortunately, Sal is a terrific dancer, and makes me look a lot more dashing than I really am. It probably also helped that I was the only guy there who paid attention to the "black tie" requirement (other than a four-month old who was chewing on his tie). Between that and the champagne, I'd say these people don't take direction too well.

I still can't get over the role of the priest. I never saw him before, and his name didn't sound familiar. But he was about in his sixties, which tells me he's one of those aging liberal throwbacks, probably from a religious order, who pretty much does whatever the hell he wants when nobody with a bigger title than his is looking.

(Gee, when you get enough of them like that in one church, what could possibly go wrong?)

Most people did not dance. And of course, Sal is usually too chicken to get out there with me until one other couple does it first. Fortunately, everybody got up the nerve by the time we left, in time for that universal favorite -- the Electric Slide.

I should say that the dinner was great too. I should have gone back for seconds and snuck in a Tupperware container to stuff it in. And we each got a little Chinese party favor to take home. It was a lovely little box, tied with a pair of chopsticks by a white ribbon. Inside the box was -- a fortune cookie? Close. It was a lottery ticket.

We'll find out tomorrow who got lucky.

Critical Mass: Introduction

Today, the Holy See is meeting with Bishop Fellay of the Society of St Pius X, the schismatic group of traditionalist Catholics that broke with Rome over (to make a long story mercifully short) the implementation of certain reforms of the Second Vatican Council. In 1988, founder Archbishop Levebvre consecrated four priests as bishops in defiance of Rome. All were automatically excommunicated as a result.

Of course, the issue of greatest concern to Catholics in light of this meeting, is the expanded use of the classical Roman missal, as promulgated by Pope Pius V in 1570, with minor amendments by 1962. The so-called "Tridentine Mass," so named after the Council of Trent of which this edition is a by-product, is in fact a codification of older Roman usage dating back to the time of Pope St Gregory the Great in the fifth century. The reformed Roman missal, as promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970 and the normative use of the Roman Rite, is increasingly acknowledged as a break with organic development of the Mass in the Western church, and as such, not at all with the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council had in mind.

This growing consensus has spawned two parallel trends; one is the approval for use of the 1962 Missale Romanum, with the permission of the local bishop, under the terms of the 1988 decree Ecclesia Dei. The other has been a call for a "reform of the reform," whereupon efforts are made, both to restore a sense of the sacred to the reformed missal to the extent possible, and to discern what the Council Fathers had in mind for a reform of the Latin liturgy at the offest, and to determine how that might set things back on track.

For the most part, liturgical traditionalists seek no less than a complete return to the normative use of the classical Roman rite. They are encouraged by the sentiments of Pope Benedict, who as Cardinal Ratzinger demonstrated great sympathy for their plight, and a venerable practice that was, in fact, never officially abrogated. As a result, they often take a dim view of counter-reformists, considering the latter's efforts to ultimately be a waste of time. In so doing, they tend to ignore two things; one, that the very idea of "the reform of the reform" originated with the man who now wears the Fisherman's Ring (you know, the same guy whose name they keep dropping when they need his endorsement), and two, that of acting as if Vatican II never happened (or at least didn't matter, as if an ecumenical council would thus be worth all the trouble).

It is generally acknowledged that the Council Fathers saw the need for the Roman liturgy to be reformed. Such is the opinion of people with the audacity to admit they were there for the proceedings. This being the case, there is no getting around it. On the other hand, the basis of their reform was a continuous tradition of fifteen centuries, as opposed to that which was, if only by historical standards, rather hastily assembled. Therefore, the fact of the older usage of the Roman liturgy is no more likely to go away, than is the ecumenical council which was said to have its effect thereupon.

And so it goes.

The next couple of weeks will be devoted to various thoughts on the future of Catholic worship in the Western church, and the opinions of this writer with respect to the subject. Included will be references to other brethren of St Blog's who have already commented at length on this matter.

And not without considerable reaction. Stay tuned...

Friday, August 26, 2005

T-ShirtHumor.com

I've heard that housing prices in some parts of Fairfax County VA (west of the Capital Beltway, for all you from outa town) have actually gone down. Thankfully, they're not saying that about my new neck of the woods. Deo gratias.

Truckin'

On Friday, September 9, I go to settlement on the house. That means that Saturday, September 10 is moving day. God forgive me, but it may spill over into Sunday as well.

I've got the truck lined up for the weekend. Sal will be on hand, but we're both hoping for an extra set of hands that day. Maybe my son can be persuaded, especially since he may be moving in as well shortly thereafter. Making all these arrangements, of course, has seriously impaired the profound words of wisdom I was preparing for dissemination here. I simply can't be on the phone or packing bags AND writing at the same time.

There is also an unfortunate side effect to all this. I have an anxiety disorder, and while I'm being treated for it, waking up suddenly at two or three in the morning is not unusual, especially at times when there's a lot going on. Sometimes I use the unexpected rush to start the day early. I'll give up on going back to sleep, maybe watch reruns of The X-Files for a hour or two, then go to IHOP to greet the dawn with a big-@$$ breakfast. Then again, I have been known to go for several days, living on adrenaline alone. I'll eat very little, wake up before the chickens every day, and do just fine -- up to a point.

I mean, really, I should be getting too old for this.

I remember back in April of 1991, while the divorce settlement was in progress, and we had to sell the house. The settlement was in the morning, and that afternoon we went to the house for one last time. Walking through the same door as I always had, it suddenly felt different, as if I no longer belonged where I had lived for nearly eight years. There is something about owning one's own home, that gives a man the keys to his own destiny. When you are renting, no matter how long you are there, you are never really home. Someone else can come into your house, tell you to do this or that, and tell you when you have to leave. But owning a home is different. The mortgage company doesn't tell you how many nails you're allowed to use on the walls, or whether you can throw a party, and they don't raise the monthly payment if you get a roommate. They only step in if you fail to pay them. That can be a lot in itself for some of us, but at least you know where you stand.

I have lived in a basement studio apartment for eleven years, the longest I've lived anywhere since moving to this area in 1980. My last day of access to the place will be the 15th. I wonder how it will feel on that day.

Whatever the case, I have waited a long time for moving on to the next chapter, to be located at 1400 South Barton Street, Unit 405, in south Arlington. (Be sure and check out the "virtual photo tour.") It is a one-bedroom-with-den townhouse, in a modest but picturesque neighborhood.

I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cathedrals

Recently, LA Catholic posted a comparison of photographs, between the cathedrals of Cologne and Los Angeles. I was reminded...

In the early 1950s, my Dad's USAF Reserve unit was called up, and he was sent to Germany with the Allied Occupation. Being newly married and faithful to his calling, he eschewed the usual merriment of the conquering soldier, in favor of sight-seeing. He toured not only Germany, but Switzerland and the Netherlands. He took many beautiful color slides depicting every slice of life he could find, from the tulip fields of Holland, to the Swiss Alps from overhead. On one occasion, he visited the magnificent cathedral in Cologne. Sustaining only moderate damage during the War, it was already repaired by the time of his visit. He met with a priest-friend of his, a classmate from his seminary days. On a Sunday morning, at a side altar, the priest said a private Mass, and Dad was his acolyte.

To this day, it is a proud feature of the skyline of Cologne. Would that the City of Angels had benefitted from the same.

Speaking of artists...

...take a look at the work of an eight-year-old girl named Akiane.

Leave It To Beever

An English artist named Julian Beever has been making pavement drawings for over ten years. His work has graced the streets and sidewalks of Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and the USA. His most famous works are "[a]namorphic illusions drawn in a special distortion in order to create an impression of three dimensions when seen from one particular viewpoint."

To give an example, this shot of a "swimming pool" on the streets of Glasgow, Scotland, looks well enough at the proper angle:

http://users.skynet.be/J.Beever/swim.htm

Now then, here is how it looks from the other end:

http://users.skynet.be/J.Beever/wrongview.htm

As one can see, "[t]hese drawings only work from one viewpoint otherwise the image appears strangely distorted."

Another example can be seen in this series of five drawings used by White's Electronics of Inverness in Treasure Hunting magazine.

1      2      3      4      5

If you want your own sidewalk done, Julian can be reached via e-mail at julian dot beever at belgacom dot net. In any case, I suppose the question of whether this constitutes good art depends on your... point of view.

Monday, August 22, 2005

You guys are pulling my leg, right?

"Starting this October, you will be able to get your tires, groceries, and hour of worship all in the same place once Wal-mart Superstores begin offering non-denominational church services on Sundays and Wednesdays..."

(UPDATE: Apparently, this was intended as a parody. Nonetheless, "Susan" wrote in the comments section: "Ok, so when I was in Ireland in 1999 I was somewhat surprised to realize that the local supermarket/shopping center had in addition to a food court and cineplex, a small Catholic Church!" Hmmm...)

Culture Watch

Last Saturday night, we went to see the movie Cinderella Man. "In the middle of the Great Depression, when an America in the grips of a devastating economic downturn was nearly brought to its knees, there came along a most unlikely hero who had crowds cheering on their feet-as he proved just how hard a man would fight to win a second chance for his family and himself. That common-man hero was James J Braddock..." (from the movie website). Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan gave this film a top rating:
"As Braddock walks toward the ring, a cynical reporter dictates the opening line of next day's story, 'The last time Braddock was seen on his feet was when he came down the aisle." But Braddock wins with a startling KO, and the comeback begins. As money comes in, he returns to the window of the relief office and hands the same lady a roll of bills to pay back all that his family had been given.

"These were the values the Jimmy Braddocks were taught. These were the values by which so many in our parents' generation lived. This was how they acted, and they did not think it heroic. When a reporter asks at a press conference about his returning the relief money, Braddock says simply: 'This is a great country, a country that helps a man when he is in trouble. I thought I should return it.'

"Men and women like the James and Mae Braddock of this film were the products of homes, schools, churches and parishes, and Howard's depiction of the community that produced them marks this as one of the most pro-Catholic films Hollywood has produced since the 1940s Bing Crosby-Ingrid Bergman classic, 'The Bells of St Mary's.'"
It was the least we could expect for a movie after his own heart.

+ + +

This morning I came across this piece at lewrockwell.com. For those who want to build a good classical music collection, they should read Brad Edmonds' The Important Works of Music.

+ + +

Now, getting back to me...

Last Friday night, we went to Finn MacCool's, to see an Irish band named Scythian. I signed on to their "street team" list to help out unloading equipment during set-up. One of my occasional dreams is being a roadie. Gotta start somewhere.

Actually, I first saw the brothers Fedoryka about twenty years ago, when they appeared at a country fair near Manassas with about a dozen of their siblings (it seemed that many at the time), all decked out in Ukrainian folk costumes. It would appear their song-and-dance routine has evolved since then. Brothers Danylo (Danu) and Oleksander (Olek) started playing Irish tunes on the streets of Old Town Alexandria about five years ago, with one of the other Fedorykas joining in occasionally. The lineup (including family members involved) has changed since then. At this point the roster appears stable, and with appearances in the Washington Post and on Bob Edwards' show on XM, they have reached the status of regional cult following.

Most percussionists in "celtic rock" bands fall into the trap of simply being rock drummers in need of a retrofit. Mike Ounallah doesn't have that problem. In addition to a fine academic background, Mike lends a third-world, Afro-Celtic feel to the rhythm, one that most bands of this niche genre don't quite master, even in this post-Riverdance era. Even the addition of the froittoir (essentially a washboard-type instrument optimized for zydeco music) is respectably outside the box. Scythian has gone through quite a few drummers, but they should really keep the latest one around for awhile. Ounallah sets these guys apart from the crowd. Josef Crosby completes the lineup, holding is own on on the obligatory second fiddle (not bad for a guy who hasn't done it long and has to keep up with a Suzuki alum), and otherwise playing bass.

They're also fun to watch. That they are a high-energy band is putting it mildly. They give the standard Irish pub ditties like "Whiskey in the Jar" and other boilerplate selections a bit more panache than most. And while they're not the first Irish band to dabble in Eastern European fiddle tunes, they raise that foray to new heights as well.

I'd keep an eye on these lads if I was y'all.

Friday, August 19, 2005

T-ShirtHumor.com

Gas prices in the eastern USA could go up to three dollars a gallon by Labor Day. Remember the good old days when we'd complain about prices being only half that amount?

(Wait a minute. That was only last summer!!!)

Next Week...

...we'll take a look at some of our readers' comments, as we've had some really good ones lately. We'll also get an inside look at the new future home of yours truly, and what kind of party action we can expect. In addition, we're preparing a longer installment than usual of the famous "I read the news today, oh boy..." series, since it's been awhile, and the heat brings out the best (or worst) in some people. Finally, a book review (if I ever finish the book), and plans for the local music scene.

Fools on the Hill

Rolling Stone gives us this close-up look at the only reality show this country ever needed -- Congress -- in this piece entitled "Four Amendments & a Funeral."

After all, "A Scout is trustworthy," right?

The following was a commentary written by a local Scoutmaster, one included in a weekly e-letter I got this week:

"When the President was mingling with the Scouts in the crowd, there were no Secret Service Agents standing shoulder to shoulder with him - in fact, none were visible in any of the shots of the President and the Scouts, including the wider angle shots featured in some newspapers. This is extraordinarily unusual for any event where the President 'presses the flesh' with a crowd, and (as I said) could ONLY happen with the Boy Scouts of America."

Wimachtendienk!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Like Father, Like Son

My job with the Feds allows me to assume what is known as an "alternative work schedule," or "AWS." I work a nine-hour day, and have one day off every other week, without use of annual leave. Yesterday was my "AWS day."

It is on my regular day off, that Paul and I have developed the custom of meeting for dinner in the evening. As a young man constantly on the go with long hours at the restaurant, just trying to make it on his own, this affords us the only real time to talk on a regular basis.

We cover the usual hot-button subjects like politics and religion. We aren't far apart on too many things. Where we are, there's the sort of understanding that goes unsaid. Our other deep subjects tend to be about history, philosophy, and trends in both popular music and digital media (you know, video games, web design, stuff like that). Then there's the usual round of things; how's the job, did you get your car fixed, and what's up with going to school next semester.

I've told him about my new place, along with sufficient warning that the second bedroom (officially identified as a "den") measures about seven-and-a-half by eight feet. "Dad, that's smaller than what I've got now." I figure that other than sleeping and studying, he won't be there much.

Doesn't sound like much to some of you? Well, that's 'cuz you never had a son who barely spoke to you for three years, with his mother all but encouraging the trend. What I have now is "better late than never," and I'm grateful.

The father who greeted the prodigal son didn't lament the time lost. He killed the fatted calf and put new clothes on that which was once lost, and now found.

Works for me.

Waiting for Spring

"Frère Roger has entered the life of eternity..."

More on the untimely passing of the Taize Community's founder, is available from the BBC.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Catholic Jihad

"Yesterday at the Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, Catholic pilgrims were threatened and treated rudely by... a radical Evangelical group that believes that all Catholics are going to hell unless they turn away from Catholicism... It was rather bizarre that what few headlines did appear about the events in Carey on Sunday night stated that some fights broke out... One might think a few drunken Catholics had a few too many beers at a parish festival from a headline such as that instead of Catholics being verbally assaulted."

I don't see the problem with defending the Faith by kicking someone's @$$ who is begging for it, do you?

That's Alright, Mama!

I haven't found a reason to report on World Youth Day in Cologne this year. Oh, the pope is gonna be there, and a group of young traditionalists will be able to celebrate the Old Latin Mass. Other than that, what else is there? Until... Rocco of Whispers in the Loggia reports on an Elvis sighting. To be exact, a large image of the King on a wall in downtown Cologne.

They should have seen this coming; Elvis died 28 years ago this Thursday.

Fred Explains Everything For You

Ever since I wrote "My Canaanite Moment" last May, I've been trying to figure out if there really is a definition for "probable cause." Now, a syndicated columnist and career curmudgeon named Fred Reed has helped me see the light: "When I was on the police beat, cops had to have probable cause to search anyone. This was defined as 'an articulable reason for believing that a specific person was committing a specific crime.' Carrying a bolo knife and a severed head meets that standard. I’m not sure that riding a subway is adequately suspicious."

I know an off-duty jarhead with a testosterone imbalance who could use this information. Stay in this town long enough, and you will too.

Or, you could take Fred's advice and move to Mexico.

Karol

Okay, so I didn't watch The History Channel last night. I watched The Hallmark Channel, where they showed that movie "Karol: The Man Who Became Pope." It will show again this Sunday at 9 am Eastern time.

Piotr Adamczyk was very effective as the young Wojtyla. In fact, this is one of those times where the movie was better than the book upon which it was based. I wish they had shown more of the underground theater movement during the Nazi occupation. But they did manage some attention on Nowa Huta, a city planned and built by the Communist government with no church.
"The plan was to bring an enormous steel mill to the city. The communists hoped the factory would weaken the influence of the Catholic Church in the area... The atheist communist’s had a lot to learn. Every time the people put up a cross, the officials had it removed, but another one would be in its place the next day... The Catholics in Nowa Huta ignore the rules and for the next 20 years with the help of their Bishop, Karol Wojtyla and other priests from Krakow, thousands and thousands of them met every Sunday to celebrate Mass in the muddy fields where their church should be."
This scene showed a transformative moment for the future pope, as he come out of his shell of apparent political neutrality, to confront the government.

There was also a woman with whom he was rather close, if only platonically. But it was obvious they shared an affection for one another. Her feelings for him were apparent when she learned of his decision to become a priest. There was such a woman in his life as a young man, but any indication of romantic interest has been refuted. Toward the end of the film, Cardinal Wojtyla is in the Vatican when he meets his old boyhood chum Jerzy Kluger. There is actually a book written about their lifetime friendship. (Did I mention Kluger was Jewish?)

Anyway, I'm getting the DVD when it comes out. For sure.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Ad Random

• We went swing dancing at Glen Echo Park last Saturday night. Or at least we tried to. After a $17 million renovation for the park, the Spanish Ballroom is restored to its former glory. Unfortunately, this did not include air-conditioning then, and does not now. They finally opened the upper-story windows for ventilation once the lesson was over. They could have done it sooner. My guess is that if the place had A/C, they couldn't keep the costs down for events there. But that doesn't stop them from a decent ventilation system, including fans on the ceiling and elsewhere, and opening the damn upstairs windows a lot sooner.

• The White House has appointed a new executive chef -- the first woman and first ethnic minority to hold the esteemed position. Her name is Cristeta Comerford, a native of the Philippines, now a USA citizen. Naturally, I had to call Sal and tell her. It's a kababayung thing!

Don Jim reports on the discovery of an old "music video" of Leonard Nimoy (the guy who played "Mr Spock" on Star Trek) singing a tribute to Bilbo Baggins of Tolkein's The Hobbit. It's admittedly a corny piece of work. Coulda been worse, though, Padre. Imagine William Shatner...

• One month from today, the move to the new place should be completed. Details on the home are to come. Meanwhile, we have a collection of photos to give you the ambiance of the neighborhood.

• Oh, and today's the Feast of the Assumption.

V-J

This month we remember the 60th anniversary of the surrender of Japan, and the end of the Second World War. We've heard a lot about the two atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan, and the enormous human and moral cost of that decision. Then there's what we haven't heard:

1) that both Germany and Japan were conducting heavy water experiments that would have led to their own development of atomic weapons,

2) that Germany's V-2 rockets could have carried atomic payloads,

3) that had the war continued for another year or so, Japan would have already produced high-altitude long-range bombers capable of dropping bombs on California,

4) that had a land-based invasion of Japan been necessary, an estimated one-half to one million Allied troops would have been lost, and

5) that they would have been met by two million Japanese soldiers, along with as many as 20 million members of a "citizens militia," all of whom would have been prepared to die for their emperor.

No, you won't hear any of that. Fortunately, you'll hear some of it on the History Channel tonight. If you've got cable, I'd recommend it.

Was dropping the bomb immoral? Objectively speaking, it probably was. And in a recent column, Pat Buchanan makes a great case against the decision based on traditional Catholic morality. But I'm not sure the alternatives would have been any more palatable, given man's inherent right to defend himself.

I'm not sure whether the "double-effect" principle applies here, and I'm open to comment on that.

To this day, the USA is the only nation ever to have used nuclear weapons. We haven't used them since. We have helped to completely rebuild the nations we defeated, an unprecedented move in the history of warfare.

It coulda been worse, folks.

Friday, August 12, 2005

T-ShirtHumor.com

It's supposed to be really hot along the east coast this weekend. Sure wish I could go to the beach.

Dom

As many of us at St Blog's are aware, Domenico Bettinelli, host of the weblog Bettnet.com, is getting married tomorrow. Sadly, I and my entourage will not be on hand to sneak into the back pew during the nuptial Mass, then host the "B-list" celebration at one of the nearby watering holes afterwards. My schedule was interrupted when I decided to put a contract on a house, and the closing is in four weeks.

But I want to take this opportunity to extend to Dom and his bride Melanie my best wishes. Not only that, but to say why.

I've never met Dom personally. I'd know if I had, being the formidable presence that he is. When I began blogging three years ago, we would occasionally speak on the phone. As a resident of the Boston area and managing editor of a most excellent Catholic monthly, Dom had some great insights into the Scandal, not to mention certain groups that got on the media bandwagon.

We still haven't met in person. But over the last three years, Dom's weblog has given me some insight into the type of man he is. He has been so open as to share with us all a brief history of his courtship of Melanie, and how he almost did not win her over. That's a lot to admit for any guy, really. It would be all too easy for a man like Dom to go the straight "macho" route. But he's too smart for that. His idea of a bachelor party was to go fishing with his buddies. At a time when manliness is defined either by the androgynous "metrosexual," or the beer-guzzling Hooter's-Restaurant-patronizing "manly man," Dom has chosen the better part -- a gentleman.

But I don't praise such a man lightly.

I came of age at a time when being labeled a "conservative" didn't put you in any sort of good company. It was before Huey Lewis penned the song, "It's Hip To Be Square." In fact, if I hadn't joined the Boy Scouts, I'm not sure I would have had a crowd to run with. Don't even get me started on trying to fit in during my first year of college. My dating/marriage/childrearing experience was a comedy of errors compared to what it might have been. I tried as best I could, but the dye may have already been cast. In the years since my first marriage ended, I watched my son becoming systematically estranged from his father, before realizing almost too late how much he needed him.

In the meantime, I also saw a new generation of Catholic couples and parents, freed from the bondage of the pop culture bandwagon. Oh, they might not see it that way. They think it's worse now, and maybe it is. But during their lifetime, we had a great Pope to draw the line in the sand, and the choices became clearer.

So when I cruise the Catholic blogosphere, and am introduced to people like The Chevelier, Christine, The Franklins, Kate Cousino, Pete Vere, and a host of others -- yes, including Dom -- I cannot help but feel a certain envy. Where were they when I was coming of age?

Then again, there is also hope, which remains in the heart. Given sufficient recourse to grace, it is hope that breeds eternal.

Dom and Melanie will suffer. As one pastor I know would tell them on that special day: "In fact, I hope you suffer." But it is only through suffering that one knows the meaning of true joy in life. That goes for all of us, but in a special way, those who marry for life.

"For life." Along with death and taxes, Deo volente, they have one more guarantee. This generation that knew only one Successor of Saint Peter until recently, this generation that knows better upon which ground they stand than did those who were duped during "the summer of love," this generation that will outlast the naysayers and skeptics who cling to a dying ethic (if only because the former will leave behind more children than the latter) -- they bring us hope.

And those of us who know Dom for the man he is, we wish him hope. The promise of a better tomorrow, for him and his bride Melanie, for their children and their children's children.

You da man, Dom.

Liar, liar, pants on fire...

The Roe v Wade decision legalizing abortion in the USA was based on an account that turned out to be false. In other words, it was a lie. People who lied to push their cause, still lie to maintain it on the books. They lie about anybody who might get in their way. They lie when they're caught.

Why? Why does anyone do anything wrong? Because they want to, and because they can.

This week, Christine the GOP Soccer Mom has reported on NARAL's lying about John Roberts' record on abortion (thus saving me the trouble -- thanks, ma'am!), as he is considered for the High Court. Now that they're caught, NARAL says: "We regret that many people have misconstrued our recent advertisement about Mr Roberts' record."

"Misconstrued." You gotta be a real dumb-@$$ to buy that one, I don't care what you're position is on abortion; they regret getting caught.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Musing While Moving: I

I've been thinking about a lot of things as I prepare for the big move (from north Arlington to south Arlington -- whew!!!) in four weeks.

That is, besides what to get rid of. You'd be surprised how much you can collect if you stay in one place long enough. Anyway, if you haven't figured it out by now, this is the first of a series.

First off, with the discussion within the Catholic blogosphere about the state of Catholic worship, and its future, I'm reminded that I'm eventually going to end up registering at another parish. If you think the Diocese of Arlington is one big happyland of Catholic orthodoxy, guess again. What some people might call a parish, I'd call a personality cult. You know what kind of yahoos have to show the world who's in charge, when the furniture in the sanctuary has to be rearranged every six years.

So, on that happy note, I thought I'd state for the record what I wish my parish Mass would look like.

By clicking here.

Personally, I wouldn't mind it much if the priest was "facing East," as the saying goes (and which does not occur in this example). But even the current Pope admits that returning to this practice overnight could be unsettling. Besides, this place appears to have that Anglican thing going on, and I'm down with that.

Yeah, you right.

Second Amendment Revisited

William Lind continues his proposal for a citizens' militia at lewrockwell.com: "[T]he militia would have its own General Staff, made up of the kind of 'military dinks' who have been into military history and war games since they were kids."

Sure, start calling us "dinks" now that you have a use for us, huh? Good piece, though.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What happens when bloggers stop being nice?

Well, in at least one case, they resort to a disproportionate number of expletives, as they proceed to complain about damn near everybody else. There is a point beyond which the shock value of such terminology wears off, by which time it becomes clear that the writer has nothing original to say. An excellent example can be found here. (Notice I only used one expletive, and its variants can be found in the Bible.)

UPDATE: Seems our friend is not amused. "David, this may be the most attention your blog will ever get." Of course, we all know better, don't we, Jack? (Parental discretion advised, as this is a very disturbed little man.)

A Second Amendment Solution

William Lind describes an idea that will give responsibility for homeland security to... well, the people in the homeland: "The militia was the basis of America’s defense through most of our history as a republic. More, there are two contemporary models. One is volunteer fire departments, which small town and rural America depend on and which almost always perform well. The other is community policing, where cops walk the same beat in the same neighborhood for a long time, long enough to understand the neighborhood and prevent crimes instead of just responding to them. Neither volunteer fire departments nor community police serve as control mechanisms for the federal government. They respond to their local communities, not to Washington."

What's more, we could all take turns being elected Captain. A boyhood dream come true...

Saint Lawrence...

...is remembered today. He was remembered here last year as well, in a post to be accessed by clicking here.

Susan Torres: The Rest of the Story

An account has been disclosed, of how the husband and father-in-law were awakened at the same time in the middle of the night, to hear the voice of a mysterious woman:
"You and others will tell the world of a fight to save a precious life, not to change hardened hearts, but to give hope to those who believe, so that they know that there is more than what they see and hear. Let them come and see for themselves.”
Thanks for the heads-up, Dom.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Eat, Drink, and See Mary

Recently, Catholic Light drew our attention to a devotion originating from the Netherlands, the result of alleged apparitions in the early 1950s, where Mother Mary appeared to someone, and wished to be known hereafter as "Our Lady of All Nations." Not one to miss a devotional bandwagon, the prayer commissioned by the apparition is viewable on the EWTN website:
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send now Your Spirit over the earth... May the Lady of All nations, who once was Mary, be our Advocate. Amen."
It seems she no longer wants to be known as "Mary."

In addition, the apparition requested that the Church officially declare her "Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate." This so-called "fifth Marian dogma" has been actively promoted by a professor from Franciscan University of Steubenville by the name of Mark Miravalle. There is also a website devoted to this cause entitled Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici.

Of course, the role of Mary as co-operator in our Redemption is already understood as part of Catholic teaching. But that's not good enough for some people. They want this teaching to be raised to the level of an officially declared dogma. While there is much to support this, the recent findings of a pontifical commission, has determined such a declaration to be premature.

There are two problems with such a declaration that Dr Miravalle consistently ignores. One is our relationship with the Orthodox Church, which is closer to reunion now than at any time since the Great Schism a millennia ago. This use of papal authority, for a teaching already understood to be Truth, would cause an unnecessary breach with our brethren in the East. The other problem is evident in this and other alleged apparitions in recent years. Every other little old lady in tennis shoes that has an apple fall on her head starts hearing voices telling her that "Mary wants this" or "Jesus wants this," oblivious to the declaration of Pope Benedict XIV (not to be confused with the current Benedict XVI) in his mid-18th century Decree on Private Revelations, where he warns that teachings of the Church are not to be declared on the basis of private revelations.

Having worked for a Marian magazine some years ago, I can tell you from experience that things like this are guaranteed to bring the nuts out of the woodwork. Some of them are harmless. Some of them are not. And some of the ones that are not... want your money.

This apparently hasn't been lost on the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CPDF), the Vatican dicastery once headed by the former Cardinal Ratzinger. "Your Excellency is requested to take into consideration the above mentioned advisory and inform the members of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines that the CPDF does not permit any Catholic community of Christ's Faithful to pray to the Mother of God under the title of 'Lady of All Nations' with the added expression 'who was once Mary'."

It is said that in the final days, the Evil One would appear as an angel of light, and would succeed in deceiving even the Elect.

Makes you wonder if it's really worth it... eh?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Ad Random

•  I've received the contract for the house, and plan to complete the ratification (or whatever the hell it is I'm doing) today. All this, after going over the whole thing twice, and consulting with... uh, my consultants. It is a one-bedroom-with-den townhouse in the Arlington Village neighborhood, located in the urban corridor of Columbia Pike, an up-and-coming section of southern Arlington.

•  Sal and I went to Mass at the National Shrine yesterday, accompanied by her sister-in-law, visiting from the Philippines. Before leaving, I stopped by the bookstore, where Amy Welborn and her husband Michael Dubruiel were doing a book-signing. Her report pretty well sums it up: "David really did have a black hat."

•  ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings passed away, after losing a bout with lung cancer. He was 67. Say what you will about the liberal bias in the news media, but the guy did pretty well for a high-school dropout. Many thanks, Peter.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Transfiguration

Click here.

Friday, August 05, 2005

T-ShirtHumor.com

So, I hear Microsoft is planning an upgrade for Windows.

This is what happens when they don't pull the plug in time.
"For 20 years, Sarah Scantlin was seemingly unaware of the world around her after she was hit by a drunk driver in an accident that sent her into a comatose state in September of 1984... Then in February [of this year], she shocked her parents and doctors when she began to speak..."
Hope breeds eternal!!!

(Speaking of hope, I just put a contract on a townhouse in Arlington. Saint Joseph, pray for me.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Susan Torres, RIP

(The following statement was delivered by Justin Torres, brother of Jason, at the press conference yesterday.)

"As you know, at 8:18 a.m. on Tuesday, Susan Anne Catherine Torres was delivered by caesarean section at Virginia Hospital Center. This morning, she continues to do well in the NICU unit here at the hospital.

"Earlier this morning, after a brief goodbye with her husband, parents, and other family members, and after receiving the last sacraments of the Catholic Church, Susan Michelle Rollin Torres passed away after the machines which sustained her life for the past 12 weeks were turned off at my brother’s request. She was 26 years old.

"This is obviously a bittersweet time for our family. We are overjoyed at the birth of Baby Susan and deeply grieved at the loss of her mother. From the beginning, we knew that two things would get us through to the baby’s birth: God’s providence and Susan’s determination. Susan was always the toughest person in that ICU room. Her passing is a testament to the truth that human life is a gift from God and that children are always to be fought for, even if life requires—as it did of Susan—the last full measure of devotion.

"We have many people to thank, starting with the doctors, staff, and most especially the nurses at Virginia Hospital Center. You have been innovative, flexible, and determined on our behalf, and walked every step of this journey with us. We are deeply grateful.

"We also must thank the many friends and family members who gave us their time, energy, and shoulders to lean on over the past 12 weeks. Our debt to you is lifelong.

"Finally, on behalf of my brother I wish to thank the many thousands of people who have taken this story to heart, donated to the Susan M. Torres Fund, and most especially, sent us their prayers and best wishes. This family has literally been lifted up in prayer, and I can never express adequately our gratitude for the prayers and support we have received from people all over the globe. We could not have made it through this ordeal without you, and on behalf of my brother, my family, and the Rollin family, I wish to thank you and ask your continued prayers for the newest member of our family."


+ + +

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

This just in...

"The Torres and Rollin families are proud to announce that Mrs. Susan Torres gave birth at 8:18 am on Tuesday, August 2, 2005 to Susan Anne Catherine Torres. The baby weighs 1 pound 13 ounces and measures 13 1?2 inches long.

"There were no complications during delivery. The baby is doing well and is being monitored in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Virginia Hospital Center.

"The Torres family will hold a press conference tomorrow, August 3, 2005, at 1:00 p.m. eastern time at Virginia Hospital Center. Further details will be available at that time.

"Thank you all for your care and support which has helped both families reach this wonderful day."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Rumor has it...

...that the Pope has a weblog. Could this be the real thing? After all, he talks about beer and his cats, and says he knows Cardinal Arinze.

You know me, I'll believe anything.

Monday, August 01, 2005

That Was The Week That Was

Anybody remember that TV news show? If you do, you're older than most of the St Blog's crowd.

But enough about them; let's talk about me.

I was out last week. The office got along fine without me, which is good news -- if only up to a point. I spent the days putting my library into boxes for storage, and getting rid of things I didn't need. Came very close to a rent-to-purchase agreement, but it went south by week's end. I'm in contact with my third mortgage lender. They say the third time's a charm. They also say three strikes and you're out. I'm holding out as long as I can, until I seek an interim rental solution. As to what the remainder of the decade holds for the DC metro housing market, I don't care who you are; when it comes to the future, there's as many predictions as there are pundits making them.

So the Dog Days of August see the search continue in earnest. We all seek a place to call home. As hard as it is in the current market, our Eternal Home is more lasting. Whatever the search, we endeavor to direct our gaze ever onward.

Until then, there will be less blogging than usual this week. What the hell, it's August; everybody's out of town anyway, right? Stay tuned...