Sunday, May 31, 2009

Novena: Postlude

Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium.
Amen. Alleluia.

Give them virtue's sure reward;
give them thy salvation, Lord;
give them joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia.


Come, O Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, And enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V: Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created,

R: And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Oh God Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise and to ever rejoice in His consolations, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.


Matthew 26:52

Today, a notorious abortionist named Dr George Tiller was murdered. Here is what the local newspaper had to say about it:

WICHITA - A suspect in this morning’s fatal shooting of George Tiller is in custody and on his way back to Wichita, deputy chief Tom Stolz of the Wichita Police Department said today at a news conference.

The 51-year-old male suspect was arrested about three hours after the shooting without incident near Gardner on Interstate 35.

Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m. in the lobby of Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member...

Here is what I have to say about it:

Blaming the Pro-Life Movement for the death of Tiller, is like blaming Martin Luther King for the Black Panthers. It is possible to want something, while using either the right way or the wrong way to attain it. “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.’”

If you don’t understand that, I can’t explain it to you.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Novena Day 9: The Fruits of the Holy Ghost

Da tuis fidelibus
in te confidentibus
sacrum septenarium.

On the faithful, who adore
and confess thee, evermore
in thy sevenfold gift descend.


The gifts of the Holy Ghost perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Ghost, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Ghost. These fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.


Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits, Thy charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration, may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Novena Day 8: The Gift of Wisdom

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
melt the frozen, warm the chill;
guide the steps that go astray.


Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written "all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands." It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Savior: "Take up thy cross and follow Me, for My yoke is sweet, and My burden light."


Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all passing joys and satisfactions of the earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
Cincinnati has a masked super hero. So they tell me.

More than that, he is from my town of Milford, outside of Cincinnati. He is known as the “Shadow Hare.” Believe it or not, there is a tradition in our legal system for the concept of the “citizen’s arrest.” Still, this takes it to the limit, especially as the commentator makes a note of the risks involved.

It gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view). This guy has gone national, and the story from the NBC affiliate has gotten attention from CNN, and even the big-time sources like (gasp!) TMZ. He is listed on some sort of national super hero registry, so you know this is not just some uncertified loser running around in tights and a mask, but a genuinely certified (certifiable?) loser running around in tights and a mask.

I feel better already.

I’m not as sure that he and his cohort will, though, after some punk-@$$ kids beat the crap out of them. View these clip from WLWT for yourself, as we feature yet one more quirk of the “Queen City of the West,” for this week’s Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

I should really get home more often.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Novena Day 7: The Gift of Counsel

Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
on our dryness pour thy dew;
wash the stains of guilt away.


The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must be done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. "Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth."


Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...

Are Lost Souls Good Enough?

I recently had contact with a cousin with whom I had not spoken in years. It gave me cause to reflect on leaving my Ohio so many years ago.

In every neighborhood where children gather, there is always one who is left out, one with whom no one will play. Maybe their social skills got off to a bad start, or maybe their parents refuse to put them on Ritalin. Whatever the reason, in my neighborhood, that kid was me. And though my social standing has improved greatly since then, the spectre of the little boy at the edge of the playground haunts me even to this day. And in my final moments on this earth, he will be among those at my side to bid me adieu.

His company is not unexpected, as he has influenced some of the major decisions in my life. He has been less formidable counsel in recent years, but he remains in the shadows, as one who might be called upon at any time.

Everyone has moments in their lives when they stand alone against the world. Such is the nature of the human condition, and the reminder for all of us of how we pass unaccompanied from one world to the next. Love that is unrequited has long been the staple of song and story. When I heard this selection from an a cappella quartet based in Toronto, known as The Nylons, I remembered those moments in the quiet of my own heart. I also remembered how Paul and I have long shared a mutual love of a cappella recording artists. We will be featuring some of them in the weeks to come.

But for now, in this time zone, the evening shades are drawing nigh.


This just came in.

Father Alberto Cutié, the popular Cuban-American priest with a tremendous following in his Miami Archdiocese, is reported to be considering joining the ranks of the Episcopal Church. Under these circumstances, he would be free to marry Ruhama Canellis, the divorced mother with whom he has had a long-standing friendship, and which only recently became more than that.

We might forgive a man like Cutié, who is no less subject to the same foibles as any man, and by all means we should pray for him. But if one is to use this as an argument to render priestly celibacy in the Western church as an option, it should be pointed out that, by indulging this particular set of circumstances, we are saying it is acceptable for any man to leave one spouse for another.

Which begs the question: what is to stop such a man from leaving his spouse yet again?

[Video of local newsbreak can be found by clicking here.]

[UPDATE: Father Elvis has left the building: “Cutie (pronounced koo-tee-AY) was received into the Episcopal Church earlier Thursday at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Miami, Florida. He will pursue the priesthood in the Episcopalian faith, the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida said in a written statement.”]

Guitar Workshop: Anji

Davey Graham (1940-2008) was one of the most influential guitarists of the 1960s “folk music scare,” to emerge from the UK. He pioneered the modal “DADGAD” tuning, long a staple for accompanying Irish fiddle tunes. But perhaps Graham was best known for composing the instrumental “Anji.” When I was in college, there were certain tunes that budding young acoustic guitar pickers just had to know to prove their chops to the world. This was one of them.

In this installment of “Guitar Workshop,” Will Fly gives us an up-close-and-personal sample of how the original Davey Graham version is done. This is a lesson for intermediate/advanced players, and some knowledge of fingerpicking, as well as reading tablature, would be necessary. There is more where this came from, much more, and it can all be found by clicking here.

An arrangement of this tune was also recorded by Paul Simon (who plays it in the first clip, accompanied by his brother Ed), and can be heard on the album he composed with Art Garfunkel entitled “Sounds of Silence,” as the follow-up track to their song “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me.”

You gotta admit, they’re a good match.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Novena Day 6: The Gift of Understanding

Sine tuo numine
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.

Where thou art not, man hath naught,
nothing good in deed or thought,
nothing free from taint of ill.


Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Ghost, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion. By faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to "walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God."


Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Thy light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of Thee and the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...

One Minute Theatre: Waiting for Godot

It is midday Wednesday, and time once again for “One Minute Theatre” here at mwbh.

Waiting For Godot is the work of the Irish writer, playwright, and poet, Samuel Barclay Beckett (1906-1989), about two guys who are waiting for some other guy named Godot. From there it has been subject by critics and commentators to all manner of interpretation. Obviously, this is one of them.

Master Foot Theater, of which this is one of a series of similar works, was created through the Artist-In-Residence Program at The Experimental Television Center, which is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and by private contributions. The feet belong to some guy identified only as “Bianca Bob.”

Let’s dim the lights, shall we?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Novena Day 5: The Gift of Knowledge

O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.

O most blessed Light divine,
shine within these hearts of thine,
and our inmost being fill!


The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth -- in relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity, and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first, and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. "Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it."


Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Thy glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to Thee, and Thy eternal rewards. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...

Plug This: So a Blonde Walks Into a Blog

Our "Plug This" series is devoted to lesser-known figures in the Catholic blogosphere. You know, the ones which the mainstream Catholic print media avoids while obsessing over the same two or three every chance they get.

The subject of this installment is from a niche that is under the radar for some of us, but which has been our subject before; that of the “mommy blog.”

So a Blonde Walks Into a Blog

Dawn (last name unknown) is a free-lance writer for various publications, which she chooses not to identify through this venue. Nor does she say where in Virginia she lives. But she does tell us that she is a 36-year-old homeschooling mother of three, who grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, and who has been married to “my awesome husband” for 20 years.

Okay, let's do the math. That means when she married she was...

Yeah, I know what you're thinking.

But don't be fooled. Remember, she's married to the same guy. Happily, and with three children, who have been homeschooled.

I've corresponded with this gal, and she's definitely not one of those blondes. And if you get past the search for the perfect shoes to match the latest designer handbag, the “desperate housewife” melodrama that lurks at the end of every other cul-de-sac (like a teenage daughter who was the subject of inappropriate devotion, by a manager at said daughter's job, which ended up in court, and you get to read all about it), and occasional descriptions of what we used to call “female problems” out of a desire not to share such things with the whole world -- like I said, when you get past all that, Dawn is a really sharp lady. She waxes eloquently about her Catholic faith, whether it's her son's recent joining with those who serve at the altar of God, or a devotion to particular Saints.

Of course, advice on how to spot a cheap Prada knockoff will probably draw more of a crowd.

And it is quite a crowd that appears in the right sidebar. Our subject has a very devoted following, not only of readers, but of other contenders to be the next Erma Bombeck. This isn't a mommy blog for all mommies, especially those of delicate conversational sensibilities. But if your sojourns to the virtual backyard fence know no limits to subject matter, and if you don't get nearly enough dramatics in your life, this may be the one for you.

That, and... well, let's admit that she is very photogenic, shall we?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Novena Day 4: The Gift of Fortitude

In labore requies,
in aestu temperies,
in fletu solacium.

In our labor, rest most sweet;
grateful coolness in the heat;
solace in the midst of woe.


By the gift of Fortitude, the soul is strengthened against natural fear, and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to undertake without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. "He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved."


Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in times of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest Good. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...

Ed Freeman

I was a boy when the Vietnam War happened. When it was over and the guys came home, some of them were met by the ranks of the self-righteous, who would call them "baby-killers." It was difficult to be appreciated under those conditions.

That was then. What about now?

Recently, the Taliban forces in Afghanistan, who use civilians as human shields, accused the Americans of knowingly killing civilians in the course of retaliating against them. Without taking the time to investigate the contention of enemy forces, both the President (commander-in-chief) and the Secretary of State expressed regret over the incident.

So today, on Memorial Day, we here at mwbh would like to tell a story of one of them, lest anyone in high places encourages us to draw the wrong conclusions -- again.

You're a 19 year old kid. You're critically wounded, and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley, 11-14-1965, LZ X-ray, Vietnam. Your infantry unit is outnumbered eight to one, and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own infantry commander has ordered the Medi-Vac helicopters to stop coming in. You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is halfway around the world, twelve thousand miles away, and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.

Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter, and you look up to see an un-armed Huey, but it doesn't seem real, because no Medi-Vac markings are on it.

Ed Freeman is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come.

He's coming anyway.

And he drops it in, and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load two or three of you on board.

Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire, to the doctors and nurses.

And, he keeps coming back. Thirteen more times. And took about thirty of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.

Ed Freeman, a recipient of the Medal of Honor, died this past August, at the age of 80, in Boise, Idaho. Today's message is in his memory, and that of others like him. Ed knew then, what we need to know now. In this world, there are things worth dying for. We need to remember this. Those who govern this Nation need to remember this.

We also want to give a big Tip of the Black Hat to the men and women of ROLLING THUNDER, who came into the Nation's capital on motorcycles from all over the country. They came to party, they came together, they came to remember.

God bless America. HOO-rah.

[Another h/t to "D.W." and thanks to the anonymous correspondent who corrected the information on our hero's passing.]

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Novena Day 3: The Gift of Piety

Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae,
dulce refrigerium.

Thou, of comforters the best;
thou, the soul's most welcome guest;
sweet refreshment here below.


The gift of Piety begets in our hearts a filial affection for God as our most loving Father. It inspires us to love and respect for His sake persons and things consecrated to Him, as well as those who are vested with His authority, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, the Church and its visible Head, our parents and superiors, our country and its rulers. He who is filled with the gift of Piety finds the practice of his religion, not a burdensome duty, but a delightful service. Where there is love, there is no labor.


Come, O Blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart. Enkindle therein such a love for God, that I may find satisfaction only in His service, and for His sake lovingly submit to all legitimate authority. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Novena Day 2: The Gift of Fear

Veni pater pauperum,
veni dator munerum,
veni lumen cordium.

Come, thou Father of the poor!
Come, thou Source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine!


The gift of Fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by Sin. It is a fear that arises, not from the thought of hell, but from sentiments of reverence and filial submission to our heavenly Father. It is the fear that is the beginning of wisdom, detaching us from worldly pleasures that could in any way separate us from God. "They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and in His sight will sanctify their souls."


Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set Thee, my Lord and God, before my face forever; help me to shun all things that can offend Thee, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of Thy Divine Majesty in heaven, where Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the ever Blessed Trinity, God world without end. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Novena Day 1: The Holy Ghost

Veni Sancte Spiritus
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.

Come, thou Holy Spirit, come,
and from thy celestial home
shed a ray of light divine!


Only one thing is important -- eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared -- sin. Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts, He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation, we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for "The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us."


Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given us forgiveness of all our sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us Thy sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
So the holiday weekend is here, and you and your buds are stuck in town, with nothing better to do.

Here’s an idea. Each of you call up several of your other buds, then you all go out to Target or Walmart and buy identical blue polo shirts (just the right shade, for reasons to be explained forthwith) and khaki-tan pants. Then walk into the nearest Best Buy store this weekend... and just hang around.

Three years ago this month, eighty people did just that in a Manhattan location of the popular chain. We’ll be hearing more about these zany madcaps in the weeks to come. But if you do decide to pull this stunt, the subject of this week’s Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy, be advised.

The store ended up calling the cops. No idea how they would have been charged (Was it a copyright violation. Do you even CALL the cops for that?) or even if they were. After all, “Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend...”

You have been warned. Enjoy the holiday, buds.

Novena: Prelude

The Church was born on the Jewish feast of the Pentecost, a birth which was preceded by a novena. After the ascension of Christ into heaven, Mother Mary and the Apostles (and according to tradition, a group totalling about 120) remained sequestered in the Upper Room for nine days, awaiting the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:14)

From the Latin word "novem," meaning "nine," a novena is a prayer that is repeated for nine days, after which, according to pious belief, special graces are obtained. Fisheaters elaborates on the devotion, and gives a complete listing of popular novenas for any and all occasions.

The novena to Saint Jude may be the most popular, as he is the patron saint of hopeless causes. Many a Catholic has found a holy card or slip of paper in the pew with the prayer written on it, left by a pious soul whose intention was granted. One of them was the late entertainer Danny Thomas, whose devotion to the saint moved him to establish the children's hospital that bears the saint's name.

mwbh will present a form of the original novena, that which is devoted to the Holy Spirit, over the next nine days. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bonus Theatre: Sherlock Holmes

Last year, Robert Downey Jr gave all the Marvel Comics aficionados reason to cheer, when he starred in the film adaptation of Ironman. Come this Christmas, someone has decided to give him a chance to wreak equal havoc, in a film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Those of us who thought it couldn’t get any better than Jeremy Brett in the series on public television, should be prepared to be, or not to be, disappointed. That is the question.

In this stunning episode, with action scenes to make Basil Rathbone squirm in his grave, Holmes (Downey Jr) and his stalwart partner Watson (Jude Law) engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England. Yeah, sounds like the rest of them. Except that we see Irene (Rachel McAdams), the one woman in whom Holmes ever showed the slightest amount of interest, as she has never been portrayed before (which is why the second clip deserves a content warning).

Frankly, I don’t remember Watson being so sure of himself. In addition, the trailer gives no indication of Holmes’ indulgence in heroin and opium, which is ironic when you consider who they chose for the part.

So, on December the 25th... “Let’s see if this dog can hunt.”

One Minute Theatre: Screaming Eggs

It is midday Wednesday, and time once again for “One Minute Theatre” here at mwbh. The liner notes read thus: “When a girl takes a carton of eggs out of the refrigerator, they soon realize that life is not all it is cracked up to be.”

This was the winner of the 2006 one minute film festival!

Village People

A book has been published recently, authored by Neil Strauss, entitled Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life. It is one of a number of such books to emerge since the Y2K scare, and the 9/11 tragedy, calling upon Americans to embrace self-reliance. This latest opus emerges amidst the increased dependency upon the Federal government by various key industries.

Catholics are being warned by a few good priests, of a coming persecution. It may not resemble that of Germany in the 1930s, when Jews were rounded up en masse. But just as what happened back then in the early stages, certain preliminary measures could be undertaken to make living the Faith more conspicuous and less comfortable on a daily basis. It won't be over abortion, as even so-called "pro-choicers" cannot bring themselves to use the "A" word. This would suggest an inner concession, if only in principle. No, the persecution will be over the refusal to sanction "same-sex" marriage. What has been presumed to be the norm for several thousand years, the forsaking of which is known to have contributed to the downfall of both the Greek and Roman civilizations, is quickly becoming just another option among many in "enlightened" circles.

There is a need for faithful Catholics to avoid a fortress mentality; the isolating of husband, wife, and children, tucked away in cul-de-sacs with high fences to keep out the philistines. The Church, unlike the Protestant construct of "me and Jesus," is a collective, a communion of souls on pilgrimage to Heaven. This goes not only for the pastoral and/or sacramental life of the Church. It pertains not only to the role of the laity in bearing witness to the Gospel to others, but in a special way, amongst themselves.

It is not enough to love our neighbor; we must learn to be a good neighbor.

In February of last year, I wrote a piece entitled "How Then Shall We Live?" This was a model proposal for intentional community-building among Catholics and others of like mind. Last October, I reported on such an endeavor well underway, in Hyattsville, Maryland. Their effort is of such a matter-of-fact nature, that they never bothered to give it a name. Not that anyone should care what I think, but I like to call it "Saint Jerome's Village" or "The Village of Saint Jerome" if you will, as the people center their lives, and their physical proximity, around the parish church. This would have been quite common before the 20th century and the rise of suburbanization (as would be naming a settlement for its parish church, and there are numerous examples in states like Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania).

I submit that that time has come for all faithful Catholics, both families and individuals, to take measure in light of the coming tribulation. (I use that term somewhat guardedly here, as the visions of seers need not be our guide for this scenario.) The next several years could see a transformation of many institutions of American society, the stability of which we have taken for granted until now.

The alternative might be spending much of the next two decades, wishing that we had acted sooner.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Semi-Obligatory Human Interest Piece

[The following is taken from a recent e-newsletter of the journal Human Events, and is reproduced here without permission or shame. After all, somebody has to lighten things up around here. -- DLA]

In recent days, a woman telephoned one of Washington's more famous senior citizens, 97-year-old Roberta McCain, the mother of two-time Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, and invited her to a church function in suburban Maryland.

The woman, who does not wish to be identified, assumed Mrs. McCain would be driven by somebody else to the church. Just about the time the event was to begin, a car carrying only one person rolled into the church's crowded parking lot "and out popped Mrs. McCain -- and she ran, in 2-inch heels, to the church."

Those looking on were "astounded," says our source, especially when Mrs. McCain, whose vigor and zest for life is well-documented (Mr. McCain says his mother still runs circles around him), explained that she "got real lost" on the way to the church, but finally found it.

Observes our source: "Still driving and wearing 2-inch heels. Gotta love her."


Those who watched ABC World News last night, were treated to an adorable tale of a man who came to the rescue of a family in distress:

For the past 35 days, Armstrong watched as a mother duck nested on a ledge outside his office window... two blocks from the Spokane River in Washington state. On Saturday morning, Armstrong arrived in town for the annual Lilac Festival parade. Seeing the newly hatched ducklings nervously pacing back and forth on the ledge, he knew they were stuck. Their mother stood waiting below, but the jump off the ledge was too far for the ducklings.

Joel Armstrong shares this distinguished accomplishment with none other than yours truly, as told in a blog entry dated June 24 2005:

It seems that the side entrance of my building this morning was the haven for a mother duck and ten ducklings. This little-used foyer was a stopping point headed south on the sidewalks, which by now were becoming quite active. I went up to the office after informing the front desk (expecting the Park Service to send someone to retrieve what amounted to Government property), when my colleague "Melanie" got excited at the prospect of seeing her little brood.

So we went down to where they were, just in time to see Mother Duck on the move. Being disoriented by the attention on the sidewalk, and surrounded by two people taking pictures with their cellphones, Melanie and I proceed to coax the family down the sidewalk, south toward the reflecting pool in the park just south of the building.

But first, we had to cross E Street. The cars were generally cooperative. Getting Mama's trust was the hard part. It got even harder when we got to the curb. We had to get the ducklings up the curb, which was taller than them, and had not been able to convince Mama of our goodwill. So, while Melanie created a distraction by getting Mother to attack her, I picked each of the ducklings onto the sidewalk. The worst being over, Mother went back to her charges to lead them down the final stretch, to the reflecting pool.

And so, with our task completed, and Melanie being none the worst for wear -- which is saying something, because Mama got after me too at one point, and it wasn't pretty -- we returned to our more conventional job.

Ah, just another day at the office!

Other than the passersby with cellphone cameras, our heroism was not recorded, but Mr Armstrong's was. Unfortunately, those guys at ABC News are much too clever for our Web Development Team, and the clip cannot be embedded. So click on the first blockquote to read the article, or simply cut to the chase and click here.

You'll notice that the Mama Duck in his case was far more reasonable.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

After Vespers

I have not devoted much space lately, to this year's graduation ceremony at Notre Dame. They tell me that some people got arrested on campus for praying the rosary. Maybe they were trespassing while praying the rosary. How does that work, exactly? When a person just steps onto to the campus of a major university, is someone invariably going to meet them at the property line and check for an ID? Will a pretty young co-ed start screaming and call for the police, if a guy as old as, say, yours truly, is seen strolling across the Quad to visit an old friend at his faculty office? How can they tell the misbehavers (who aren't misbehaving so much as being an inconvenience), from those who are just visiting?

I addressed this issue of the President receiving an honorary degree nearly two months ago, in a piece entitled "Judica me, Deus..." But if you follow the action at American Papist or Creative Minority Report, you'll be up to speed. There are also the reports from the Associated Press, about both the event itself, as well as the protests surrounding it.

The President has asked us to be open-minded about the idea of killing the unborn. But as Chesterton once said, the purpose of an open mind is like that of an open mouth, which is to close it down on something solid.

The Most Reverend Bishop John M D'Arcy is the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and Notre Dame is within his realm. Bishop D'Arcy has led a candlelight vigil in protest of the university's honoring of the President. He has also refused to attend the event. His Excellency has the power to remove the designation of "Catholic" from the university. It sounds like a great idea, but it's also a two-edged sword. Some parts of university life are experiencing a resurgence of Catholicity. This includes not only increased popularity of the Traditional Latin Mass on campus, as well as Eucharistic devotions and Holy Hours, but the entire program at the School of Architecture, which has been the vanguard for the revival of a trend toward "churches that look like churches" across America. All this could be at risk if Notre Dame were merely "a university in the Catholic tradition." Such would be a disingenuous branding strategy, really. But it might appeal to enough people, who like the romance of the school's tradition, without the inconvenience of that which inspired it in the first place. That could close the door to any opportunity to reconcile.

People could also withhold their contributions. While I don't have all the numbers yet (I've been overloading the Research Department lately, and they're threatening to start a riot at this point), the drop in contributions, and unfulfilled pledges, is already starting to pinch the Fighting Irish. But I wonder, will the campus ministry's Holy Hour be a victim of the budget cut?

After all, we're dealing with people who haven't been completely honest with themselves, remember?

[THE MORNING AFTER: Somebody down in Research just did the math. Click here. Archbishop Chaput of Denver always manages to say a great deal with few words. This occasion is no exception. Click here.]

Still, there is a silver lining behind this cloud. The folks who have run Notre Dame into the ground so far, must still contend with the consequences, long after Air Force One leaves town. Nearly half the American bishops have lodged protests against the President's appearance at Notre Dame, which has also violated guidelines they set up over such tributes to public figures, in relation to witnessing to Church teaching. It's one thing to diss Rome, but when you thumb your nose at the American church bureaucracy, get ready to bury yourself in paperwork.

The other bright spot, at least for me, was on my way home tonight. I stopped to pick up groceries. For the first time in months, among the numerous magazines for sale at the checkout line, not one had an image on the cover, of either the President or the First Lady.

As one who would believe in HOPE, if only in the theological sense, I have to wonder if there is a message there.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


What’s this trigger do?
Ouch, my right foot really hurts
Let’s try the left one

- Jim Treacher

(To view more of the same, and some rather irregular attempts by some of his devoted readers, click here.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

“What are you gonna do, drywall me in?”

Some of the offices in our organization have been getting a makeover. They just finished upgrading the press office, resulting in a long monotonous row of over a dozen cubicles. Each of them has those sliding translucent door things. I am told that the management is considering rules for when to open or close them. Mind you, we have grown ups working there, manning the phones, handling the press inquiries. I wonder which of the minions will get this sort of homecoming first.

It is a question worth pondering for this, our Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

One Minute Theatre: Space Paintings

When I was a teenager, I watched a segment of CBS’ 60 Minutes, where they showed how paintings that hang in hotel rooms were made. You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that sell real cheap at liquidation sales and the like. A company will hire a bunch of art students and assign each one along a row of blank canvases, with one “original” composition as a guide. The artist will then go from one canvas to the next, duplicating the original a few brush-strokes at a time, until they all look more or less like the original. You have to see it to believe it.

Hey, it’s a living, right?

I remembered that story when I saw the clip featured for this week’s One Minute Theatre. To see more of this guy’s work, go to He even has instructional DVDs to show you how to make your own creations.

I can just see it now. I could be supplementing my retirement income at flea markets throughout the Midwest, completely edging out the demand for black velvet Elvis paintings.

A man can dream, can’t he?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pat Buchanan Explains It All For You

“Go, Pat, Go!” was the theme when he ran for President, egged on by the young turks who formed the "Buchanan Brigades." He served in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations. He is an heir apparent of the Reagan legacy. And for all that, he is not just another conservative.

For one thing, Buchanan isn't one to jump on the bandwagon that requires our nation to respond militarily unless our national interests are directly threatened. This, as opposed to simply not getting our way. At the same time (and his autobiography Right From The Beginning should bear this out with a vengeance), he is never one to walk away from a fight. He is a real conservative, inasmuch as he endeavors to conserve the ideals spelled out in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the way in which our Founding Fathers intended. He looks at reality, without resorting to the childish name-calling of the modern-day news pundit. He is a student of history, seeing the patterns of the human condition, and the Powers That Be bring their followers to the precipice of oft-repeated errors.

It is from men like Buchanan, that we learn how to learn from history -- both the mistakes, and the victories.

If history is any guide, the pendulum will swing back in 2010.

After all, in 1952, Eisenhower was elected in a more impressive victory than Obama's, and ended the Korean War by June. And, in 1954, he lost both houses of Congress.

Lyndon Johnson crushed Goldwater by three times the margin of Obama's victory. He got Medicare, Medicaid, voting rights, and a host of Great Society programs. And, in 1966, he lost 47 House seats.

Ronald Reagan won a 44-state landslide in 1980, cut tax rates -- and proceeded to lose 26 sets in 1982.

Bill Clinton recaptured the presidency for his party in 1992 after 12 years of Republican rule. In 1994, he lost 52 seats and both houses of Congress.

Click on the quotation. It gets better. For a bonus, we have an eight-minute public television interview from about a year ago, on a variety of topics.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Obligatory Lovefest

The Mother of All DC Mutual Admiration Confabs is the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. This year had more Hollywood types than usual, since their candidate got elected this time. The President is traditionally the keynote speaker for this event, but if it isn't obvious by now, in all the years I've lived here, I don't follow it much. I have no reason to, really. The people it serves are the people deemed worthy to attend. Guess who's not one of them.

Meghan McCain was supposed to bring only one guest, but she brought two. Apparently her timeless wisdom writing on blogs about why Republicans aren't cool enough, and why she is doing them a favor just staying on the same mailing list with them with and Daddy's friends, wasn't enough to impress the security detail who wouldn't let her and her entourage in. She was overheard to say, "Does he even know who the f--- I am?”

The real question is: Would he care? Security people at events like this tend to get really skittish at the faintest sign of trouble. Sometimes even when there isn't any.

There was also the contribution of comedian Wanda Sykes to the occasion. Despite his being on record as against gay marriages, Sykes left Obama alone (which is what you do to stay on the Hollywood social register), and went after damn near everyone else, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, despite his being on record as supportive of his own daughter in the face of her lesbian lifestyle.

A report on the post-event meltdown brought about a comment by Christopher Hitchens: "The black dyke got it wrong. No one told her the rules."

Rules? There are rules to these things??? The next few years may see how some people put the "vulgar" in "vulgar riche." When those at the head table can behave badly enough to be thrown out of any decent dinner party, it is hard to imagine there being any rules at all.

Those who do not believe this possible may have to view yet again, the childish behavior on national television, of the mere shadow of a man who now calls himself Assistant Press Secretary to the President.

Bon appetit.

[THIS JUST IN: Greta Van Susteren of Fox News Channel teaches CNN -- you know, the channel with the lower ratings -- a thing or two about gentility in professional conduct: "And let me get this straight, I am the only one in the media who brought a guest? Ah….I think not….in fact, EVERYONE in the media brought a guest to the weekend’s social events….so I guess EVERYONE in the media is now a handler? or just those who brought guests and tried to show good manners at a social event?"]


It is a Yiddish word that translates roughly as "insolence," "audacity," "imprudence," or "unashamed self-confidence," depending on the context and/or the subject.

Despite a Democratic presidential victory that was far from a mandate -- 52 to 47 percent, give me a break -- the Republican party is in shambles, the likes of which it has not seen in over thirty years. If they don't get it together in time for the 2010 congressional elections, they will probably lose any chance of taking back the White House in 2012. Given their abysmal failure to come up with something besides the same old, fat-@$$, rich white guys, it's probably just as well. These are the guys who tell supporters to get over their longing for the Reagan years. Then in the next breath, the same K Street Clowns tout stuff reminiscent of Rockefeller and the warmed-over "country club Republican" era.

(By the way, Terri Schiavo was killed in spite of protections already provided for in Florida and Federal law, and in spite of a Republican governor and president, so don't even GO there!)

Recently, a producer for NBC's Saturday Night Live was interviewed. She referred to Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and former GOP vice-presidential candidate, as "the most confident person I've ever met." Read the transcript, or watch the interview.

Bill Bennett says that the future of the GOP does not rest with Palin. Maybe so, maybe not. Without a distinct platform that actually offers the voter an alternative (and worries less about Meghan McCain's obsession with being a political fashion statement), it won't matter who they pick.

Because, before you come up with new ideas, you must first have a clue.

Friday, May 08, 2009

We have been running late with everything today, including our Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy. But fear not. In light of the impending award ceremonies in the Catholic blogosphere, we bring you now a healthy dose of “church chat,” the lack of which on this weblog is undoubtedly a factor in our poor showing over the years (as if you could never get it anywhere else).

Mildred, the church gossip, and self-appointed monitor of the church’s morals, kept sticking her nose into other people’s business. Several members did not approve of her extracurricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.

She made a mistake, however, when she accused Frank, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town’s only bar one after noon. She emphatically told Frank (and several others) that every one seeing it there would know what he was doing!

Frank, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn't explain, defend, or deny. He said nothing. Later that evening, Frank quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred's house, walked home -- and left it there all night!!!

Frank knew what he was doing. (h/t to “D.W.”)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

One Minute Theatre: Prince Caspian (Likes to Move It, Move It...)

For this week’s One Minute Theatre, we are featuring a 30-second version (or 48-second, depending on who is counting) of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. It has the essence of the original -- yelling, sword duels, epic battle scenes, talking animals in costumes without pants (or am I the only one who notices this?) Aslan roaring, anthropomorphic tidal waves, walls caving in, and more yelling.

In addition, since the first clip does not quite make it to sixty seconds, we have provided a second clip. You might call this the "dance mix" version. This one features our heroic archeress Susan giving Prince Caspian a goodbye lip-lock, that he'll be sure to remember well into the next sequel.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Minor Holidays, and Other False Assumptions

On the fifth of May, 1862, Mexican forces succeeded in driving back a superior French army at the city of Puebla. This only delayed the inevitable, unfortunately, and the French were able to invade Mexico City, and within a year occupy Mexico. They proclaimed one of their own as Emperor of Mexico, Maximilian I, with the help of Mexican monarchists. Under pressure from the USA, and Republican forces within Mexico, he was eventually removed from power.

The holiday known as "Cinco de Mayo," while a source of Mexican pride for expatriates throughout the world, is not an obligatory celebration in its country of origin, its remembrance limited largely to its home state of Puebla. So they won the battle, lost the war, and still walk away with an excuse for people the world over to get wasted.

Now, there are those who could successfully maintain, that we never treated Mexico particularly well, but more like a puppet state of ours. The main reason there is even a state of Texas, they would claim, is that enough of us moved there to help in blowing them off. They would also argue that the persecution of Catholics in the early 20th century, was due in no small part, to some back-door maneuvering from the White House, with the encouragement of anti-Catholic Masonic leaders in positions of influence.

So, you can remember the Alamo as one of the great heroic last-stands of American history, which it was. But history is usually more complicated.

Meanwhile, on this side of the border, life apparently isn't complicated enough for the faithful of the Diocese of Corpus Christi. There was recently a state of emergency in Mexico due to the prospect of a "swine flu" epidemic. Most of it has blown over. But not before a little child in Texas died from the illness. This, as well as the immediate reaction from other nations, including the USA, has caused the Most Reverend Edmond Carmody, Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas, to issue a "pastoral" response regarding human contact at Mass.

Due to the seriousness of the Swine Flu, which recently took the life of a child here in Texas, let us take the following measures as a precaution until the danger has passed... Give Holy Communion in the hand and not on the tongue.

Now, bear in mind, that there has been nothing established, to maintain that the remote prospect of hand-to-tongue contact, is any more dangerous than the very likely prospect of hand-to-hand contact. And you certainly won't find any such hard data in the decree from which we just quoted. (No, that would require someone on the staff to actually look something up. Oh, the humanity...) That didn't stop the good Bishop from wanting to look like a real take-charge kinda guy. This has recently been the subject of our good Father Zuhlsdorf of What Does The Prayer Really Say?, who took the time to point out what should have been really, REALLY obvious to Bishop Carmody.

Keep in mind what the Holy See’s document Redemptionis Sacramentum 92 clearly states... No one may be prohibited from receiving on the tongue. A lower authority (e.g., bishop, pastor) cannot amend the legislation issued by the Holy See. They can recommend, but they cannot forbid.

You see, the multiple options notwithstanding, Catholics of the Latin rite are ENTITLED to communion on the tongue, but are merely permitted communion in the hand. This bishop's attempt to restrict it is illicit -- that is to say, it is unlawful. He has no authority to restrict that which a higher authority allows. Even if he has an excuse. Even if he likes the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from people blissfully following one's every official utterance.

That being said (and, as we also said, really, REALLY obvious), look what's coming from the peanut gallery that is the combox of WDTPRS...

[I]n the view of a possible pandemic, it seems to me that communion on the tongue is a luxury that we cannot afford. I am the only priest here and have great difficulty getting help if and when I am sick. We have about 5% of people here who receive the old-fashioned way on the tongue, and of them, about 1 out of 5 insist on licking my fingers. That is NOT right! Regardless of what the doctor said above about the flu not being transmitted this way, it is abhorrent to have saliva on my fingers from the previous person, and have to distribute to many more people. What if that person DOES have Hep A? I have asked my people to forgo communion on the tongue for the time being . . . I have found that if I hold the host over their hands they will get the idea, and receive in that fashion. I do not agree that people’s “option” to receive on the tongue requires me, the only priest in a 15-mile radius, to have their saliva on my hands while giving communion. It is not sanitary, and it is NOT right for them to expect this!

Now that's just brilliant! I can see the poster hanging in church vestibules now: "The Eucharist: It's Finger Lickin' Good!" Apparently it is not enough, that the Church has maintained a practice which outlasted both the Black Plague, and the Influenza pandemic of nearly a century ago. It is also not enough that a priest traditionally washes his hands (as opposed to his tongue) thoroughly before vesting. Fortunately, at least one person is using the sense God gave a duck.

The problem with priests touching the tongue is because the priests don’t know how to distribute communion on the tongue these days. Where I receive communicants have been instructed to open their mouth, rest their tongue on their bottom lip and the priest should take the host between thumb and forefinger (the forefinger underneath the host), as he places the host on the tongue, he slides his forefinger back pressing down with his thumb which is in the middle of the host. But anyway the Ministers touching someone’s unwashed hands, which have been in the holy water font; coughed and sneezed into their hands; taken coins out of their pockets and touched hand rails all before Mass, not to mention the numbers of people who do not wash their hands after using the toilet. We had a priest announce twice he would not distribute Communion on the tongue; then he proceeded to cough and blow on the altar, distributed communion in the hand and shook people’s hands after Mass – what a joke!

And, as we have said many times before, God did not give a duck very much sense. Which is to say that this is not rocket science.

But even if it were, we are only compounding a mistake if we begin to treat science as we have matters of the Faith. Science is not based upon feelings, for "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride." Science is based upon the Truth. You draw your conclusions devoid of preconceptions, and based upon the evidence, or that which has otherwise been established by the appropriate means. That we can say this about the Catholic Faith has not stopped people (including more than a few bishops) from bending it and twisting it to their liking. Now they're doing it with science, which means the Powers That Pretend To Be now have the opportunity, to look really stupid in front of an even larger audience.

Don't believe me?

As this is published, the United States Center for Disease Control has just announced that all the schools in the country that closed down due to the previous warnings can now open again. The acting Surgeon General has already publicly downplayed the original scare. But you can bet dollars to donuts that, six months from now, some twit "communion minister" in Texas will refuse someone the Eucharist, because of something he/she heard while trying to stay awake during a workshop the previous spring.

After all, if the Bishop of Corpus Christi wants to jump off a cliff, why shouldn't the rest of his subjects follow?

(POSTSCRIPT: It should be mentioned, in all due fairness, that numerous parishes and jurisdictions, including the Diocese of Corpus Christi, have also used recent events to eliminate Communion from the chalice. After all, that drinking from a common cup was already linked to hepatitis types A and B, not to mention the common cold, is insufficient reason to panic.)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Sumer Is Icumen In

Well, folks, it’s that time again. The April showers give way to the May flowers. Thus we have “May Day.” Makes sense, right?

“Sumer Is Icumen In” was written by an anonymous English composer, probably around the mid-13th century, as a round in six parts. This can be really confusing, as seen in what is possibly the most amusing example our Research Department could find, a rehearsal for a circle dance. These people would have enough trouble chewing gum while doing this, never mind counting to three.

Maybe the lyrics would help.

Summer is a-coming in,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew,
Sing, Cuckoo!
The ewe bleats after the lamb
The cow lows after the calf.
The bullock stirs, the buck-goat turns,
Merrily sing, Cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo, well you sing, cuckoo;
Don't you ever stop now,
Sing cuckoo now. Sing, Cuckoo.
Sing Cuckoo. Sing cuckoo now!

Doesn’t do it for ya, does it? Maybe if we went totally authentic and used Middle English...

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med
And springþ þe wde nu,
Sing cuccu!
Awe bleteþ after lomb,
Lhouþ after calue cu.
Bulluc sterteþ, bucke uerteþ,
Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu, wel singes þu cuccu;
Ne swik þu nauer nu.
Sing cuccu nu. Sing cuccu.
Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu nu!

Nah, still ain’t happening? Well, why not take it to the next level, starting from scratch?

“The Safety Dance” was the biggest hit single by that wacky 1980s pop group known as “Men Without Hats” (which has a similar ring to the title of this weblog, so now know you where we got the idea. Now quit screwing up the name on your blogrolls and get with the program!!!). It was written by lead singer Ivan Doroschuk, who does his own stunts for this video, as you can see. It was released in the States in 1982, and in the UK in 1983. Don’t ask me why. Anyway, it hit number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on Cash Box, as well as number one on the Billboard Dance Chart. In the UK it reached number six. It was the only major international hit for the group.

The video was filmed in West Kington, near Bath, in southwest England. Ivan is the only band member who is obvious; the others appear somewhere in the town square. This is the perfect video for May Day. It has everything: mandolins, masks, Maypoles, merriment, Morris dancers (the Chippenham Town Morris from Wiltshire, to be exact), mullet heads, musicians -- and of course, midgets! (I know, I know, he‘s a dwarf, not a midget, but that doesn’t begin with an “m” now, does it?)

So, we’ve decided just to go with this for the Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Now then, everybody look at your hands!