Monday, August 30, 2004

Your Excellencies:

If you're still wondering why none of us take you seriously when you say that the scandals are "history," click here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Bart Simpson's patron saint is remembered today.

Nathaniel bar Tholmai (son of Talmai), also known as Bartholomew, was one of the Twelve Apostles. Although most Gospel accounts list him by his personal name of Nathaniel, he is usually known by that other one. His friend Philip introduced him to Jesus. Bartholomew is said to have preached the Gospel to India, where he died a martyr. He is usually pictured carrying a book of the Gospels and a dagger. The latter is the most commonly listed cause of his death. Other accounts tend to be more colorful, as the listing from the Catholic Encyclopedia (linked in this entry) will attest.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Thursday, August 19, 2004

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

For one thing, I didn't.

There just wasn't enough time. Between...

...getting Paul situated (after his mom decides it's my "turn" to look after him and so elopes with some unsuspecting fellow and moves back to Cleveland),

...getting "Sal" relocated from California and back to the East Coast (where I can keep an eye on her),

...two auto insurance claims (including living proof that one major company is on their own damn side, thank you very much!),

...the Hilton Hotel empire screwing up my reservations (if only to ensure that the heiress to the Hilton fortune will never have to make another porno film again), and

...straightening out my tax situation for the last two years (after an attempt to start a Catholic magazine failed and the editor left me holding the bag -- and the bank account),'s been quite an eventful summer without having to run off for two weeks in Bora Bora.

But I did buy a car.

I got a 2005 Scion xB, one of three in a line of cars which Toyota is marketing to appeal to the under-30 market -- eventually replacing the Echo, which didn't. After all, it's not enough to sell young people a cheap, hip car. It needs to be a cheap, hip car that can carry their big stuff to college and bring it back, and also make the road trips.

As those who hit the link will see, the xB is a very boxy-looking thing, ugly enough to be endearing. But despite it's appearance, it's classified as a compact (after all, underneath the hood, it's still and Echo), and the passengers get to sit up. Maybe it's a sign I'm getting on in years (egad, did I just say that?), but I like an automobile I can get in and out of without hurting myself. I'm sittin' tall in the saddle now, with satellite radio and all the security measures that money and excellent financing can buy.

At the same time, it LOOKS so damn practical. That's because it is. It's gonna be good for my road trips, and real easy to park. Maybe that's two of the reasons why Consumer Reports recommends it. I wouldn't buy a car that wasn't. I wish it came with "suicide doors" (the ones that open out from the middle on each side, like the similar and heavier-classified Honda Element) and a rear seat that really folded down flat. The former would probably affect the structural integrity of such a small vehicle; the latter was probably unlikely given the seating height in the rear, which is very comfortable.

And speaking of road trips...

After a hiatus of just over thirty years, I have rejoined the Scouting movement, this time as an adult volunteer, or "Scouter." My assignment will be as a Unit Commissioner for the Chain Bridge District, which covers the County of Arlington and the Town of McLean, as part of the National Capital Area Council. As part of my field experience, I'll also be helping out the unit at my home parish, Arlington Troop 111.

I'm also told I look pretty snazzy in uniform. But of course.

Now then, I'm also thinking of ending fourteen years of living in basement apartments, and buying a place of my own. This would require moving above ground.

I could probably use the sunlight. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Like Without Formatting

It happened yesterday. I hit "republish index." Biggest mistake of my life. So if you're reading what I'm reading, all my formatting is gone.

Of course, I deserved this, because I hit the wrong damn button, right? Also, because I think those guys that run this thing are gonna get back to me anytime soon with a real simple answer to all this. Or any answer at all.

So there's only one choice. Either go to another service, or...

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

From Our Bulging "Who Woulda Thought?" Files:

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- The California Supreme Court on Thursday voided the nearly 4,000 same-sex marriages sanctioned in San Francisco this year and ruled unanimously that the mayor overstepped his authority by issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

"The court said the city violated the law when it issued the certificates, since both legislation and a voter-approved measure defined marriage as a union between a man and woman.

"The justices separately decided with a 5-2 vote to nullify the 3,995 marriages peformed between February 12 and March 11, when the court halted the weddings. Their legality, Justice Joyce Kennard wrote, must wait until courts resolve the constitutionality of state laws that restrict marriages to opposite-sex couples."

The report includes the usual what-about-me-me-me whining, from those who went marching up to the courthouse without thinking through to the consequences, and who wouldn't have changed anything they were doing anyway.

in an orderly society, you just don't go around changing laws for something this basic without running headlong into a host of other problems. Most people are not about to resort to the anarchist approach of changing law by breaking the law. You can't expect to inspire support for an institution that you've just spent your entire life trying to destroy.

Unless you're one of the bozos affected by this ruling.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

"With the robe of joyfulness, alleluya,
Our Lord hath this day clothed His soldier, Laurence.
May Thy faithful's joyous assemblage clap their hands
More cheerfully than they have heretofore."

(from the Mass of Saint Laurence, Old Sarum Rite Missal, 1998, Saint Hilarion Press)

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Lawrence. He was archdeacon of the church of Rome in the third century. When the Emperor Valerian had Pope Sixtus II and six other deacons executed in 258 AD, Lawrence was left in charge.

Now, back then, for a deacon to be left in charge, this actually meant something, inasmuch as deacons were charged with the temporal goods and charitable works of the local church. On August 6, Lawrence met with Sixtus in the latter's prison cell. The boss laid out the plan; no, we're not leaving forever, you're joining us in four days.

Lawrence saw this as a good time to come up with a plan of his own.

Lawrence distributed the funds of the local church among the crippled, blind, sick, and indigent of the city. When arrested by the Emperor, Lawrence was commanded to produce the wealth of the church. Lawrence produced what he called the "true treasure of the Church" -- you guessed it; the crippled, blind, sick, and indigent of the city.

The emperor was not amused.

Legend has it that Lawrence was martyred by being roasted on a gridiron. It is also said that, at one point, Lawrence told them when he was done on one side, and could be turned over. Modern scholars have suggested that the determination of this method of torture is probably a misreading of the original accounts.

Anything to take the fun outa this, huh, guys?

And so, Lawrence is pictured holding a book of records, a money purse, and/or a gridiron. His image is generally found on one of the "deacon's doors" with the iconostasis of any Eastern church.

Lawrence is also the patron saint of cooks. Not to mention librarians, libraries, lumbago, paupers, poor people, restauranteurs, Rome, schoolchildren, seminarians, Sri Lanka, stained glass workers, students, tanners, vine growers, vineyard owners, wine makers (whew!), and... me!

That's because I was named for my uncle Lawrence Rosselot (pronounced "ROSS-uh-low," from the province of Alsace in France, so the "T" at the end is silent), my mom's brother who died before I was born. It was either a farming accident or complications of influenza; to this day I get two versions of the story.

Finally, on the eve of his feast, one may look up into the night sky (at least in the northern hemisphere) and witness the "burning tears of Saint Lawrence." This is the meteor shower that follows the pasage of the Swift-Tuttle Comet, and precedes the one near The Perseides.

Sure, you missed the one last night. But you've got the rest of the week to check it out. The best time will be late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. Especially if you go to Point Lookout State Park in southern Maryland, where there's gonna be a party.

All the stars will be there.

Friday, August 06, 2004

The Feast of First Fruits

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration...

"Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, 'Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah' -- not knowing what he said. As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!' And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. -- Luke 9:28b-36

This feast became widespread in the West in the eleventh century and was introduced into the Roman calendar in 1457 to commemorate Christendom's victory over Islam in Belgrade in 1456. Before that, the Transfiguration of the Lord was already celebrated in the Syrian, Byzantine, and Coptic rites...

Indeed, throughout the liturgical year, the devotions of various feasts are interwoven into the fabric of daily life. It was at this time of year, that the first fruits of the harvest would be anticipated, and on this great Feast, the Eastern churches would bless fruit baskets brought to the priest by the faithful.
"Be a hero, save a whale; save a baby, go to jail..."

"Throughout the Clinton regime, and continuing through the presidency of George W. Bush, a steady drumbeat of media propaganda has demonized America’s pro-life citizens as 'terrorists,' as a succession of executive, judicial, and legislative acts was issued to monitor them and restrict their free speech activities. As the intelligence services pushed a steady stream of information to Washington, alerting both the Clinton and Bush administrations that a major terrorist attack, with airplanes targeting major American symbols, was nearing the end of the planning stages, the Justice Department and the FBI seemed more interested in targeting American pro-lifers."

So far, no plans to run a jetliner into an abortion clinic have been uncovered. Don't hold your breath, sheriff.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

My Weekend with Iggy and "the Fonz"

This past weekend saw the observance of two great saints of the Roman Church.

July 31st is the Feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the "Jesuits." The town near Cincinnati where I grew up was the location of the novitiate (house of formation) for their Chicago Province, until it closed down in the late 1960s. They still maintain a retreat center there. The rest of the property is now a retirement community, but the overall piece of real estate is still as bucolic as ever.

When I first moved to DC in 1980, I joined the Jesuit parish in Georgetown, near the University of the same name -- not because the Washington Post called them "Washington's glamour parish," but because Holy Trinity Parish struck me as a place for those Catholics who didn't quite fit in anywhere else. It still is to this day. And so, "Sal" and I paid tribute to this great saint by attending Mass there this past Sunday. They chose the occasion to allow the faithful to bestow a special blessing on the Jesuit celebrant present.

We also gave a blessing to another priest there, who hailed from another order.

That was because August 1 is the Feast of Saint Alphonsus of Ligouri, founder of the Redemptorist order, and a Doctor of the Church. At one point, St Alphonsus was rejected from the order he founded, and was forbidden to say Mass publicly within the Holy Roman Empire -- even though he was by that time a bishop! All this the result of cutting a deal to keep the peace, "for the good of the Church." Yeah, right. And you thought they played hardball among their own today!

In any case, we celebrated the occasion, as usual, with dinner and Latin dancing.

And besides, "Sal" is back to stay, which is as good a reason as any to celebrate.