Saturday, September 29, 2012

Shine On, Harvest Moon

Tonight (or more like the wee hours of the morning), there will be a full moon. But it's not just any full moon; the one that appears in September is generally known in our part of the world as the “Harvest Moon.” The website for The Old Farmer's Almanac tells you all you could ever want to know about it. We're going to tell you a little bit of it, plus a little more.

The following is excerpted from The Almanac. Or maybe it was somewhere on YouTube. Whatever.

Traditionally, this designation goes to the full moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal (fall) Equinox. The Harvest Moon usually comes in September ... At the peak of the harvest, farmers can work into the night by the light of this moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice — the chief Indian staples — are now ready for gathering.

This full moon has figured prominently in American culture.

In 1908, Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth penned the words and music to “Shine On, Harvest Moon” for the Ziegfeld Follies of the same year. It was first recorded by Ruth Etting in 1931. That recording is above in the first video clip. It has also been sung by many other artists of the early 20th century, including Laurel and Hardy, and Roy Rogers. The chorus is pretty straightforward on the significance of this celestial event.

“Oh, shine on, shine on,
harvest moon up in the sky,
I ain’t had no lovin’
since April, January, June, or July.
Snow time ain’t no time
to stay outdoors and spoon,
So shine on, shine on, harvest moon,
For me and my gal.”

I first heard the tune while in college, from the Canadian singer and guitarist named Leon Redbone (whose birth name, after years of mystery about it, was Dickran Gobalian, born in Cyprus in August of 1949). In this second video clip, from last year's annual Kitchener Blues Festival, the legendary neo-vaudville crooner treats the audience to a gravelly rendition of our featured song, accompanied by Paul Asaro at the piano.

Thanks to Ruth Etting, he is spared the burden of enunciating.

[The following was first published three years ago this month. It still works, though. -- DLA]

Friday, September 28, 2012

FAMW: Art Imitates Life (and Current Events)

Once again, Jon Stewart and The Daily Show prove to be the superior choice for news of the major events of the day. As the recent dispute between the National Football League and its association of referees draws to a close, Senior replacement correspondent Sir Patrick Stewart makes John Oliver's strike the least effective piece of industrial action in history.

Just "like Henry at Agincourt" for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy. (Hey, do you suppose Jon and Sir Patrick are related? Nah, couldn't be!)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Word On The Street

Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.” In the city, one keeps moving from point A to point B, having to get somewhere by sometime for someone or some reason or another. We condition ourselves to ignore the panhandlers, as there are so many of them. We avoid even those who ask us for the time (as if only personal testimony thereof is available).

But what if one person didn't want anything from anybody?

Such was the man whom yours truly met this morning, near the Farragut North Station in downtown Washington. He agreed to have his picture taken. I never got his name, let alone anything else about him. Maybe he is homeless, or jobless. Maybe he is neither, and simply made himself look indigent to see the reaction. He got at least one, not to mention this month's Tip of the Black Hat.

And so it goes ...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: “Some Nights” (Official Version)

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

“Some Nights” is a song this writer first heard on the radio at the pool. Asking the lifeguards what the name of it was, after hearing it several times, they said "What Do I Stand For?" An internet search revealed the latter to be the unofficial subtitle of a sleeper hit by an American indie pop trio by the name of fun. Released this past June, it spent seven months on the Billboard Hot 100 before peaking at number three this week. It has met with critical acclaim in various countries around the world.

And more, as we will learn this time next week. Stay tuned ...

(CONTENT ADVISORY: Fleeting and rather unnecessary expletive at 3:52.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What Is Mary’s Political Theory?

Sermon for the Feast of the Assumption 2012
Preached by the Right Reverend Philip Anderson
Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey
Lost City, Oklahoma

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Signum magnum apparuit in caelo - A great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
My very dear sons,

Outside the monastery walls the world is on fire. Political debate occupies the American mind — or what is left of it. Even souls who have more or less given up interest in vying for worldly power are forced to take part in the fray, as serious threats to our freedom as Catholics loom menacingly on the horizon. What does the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, whose Assumption into Heaven we celebrate today, have to say to us? What is her political theory?

Of course, she really has none. Even to speak of 'politics' in her regard is an anachronism and a vain hypothesis. Nevertheless, the political nature of man does not date from yesterday. In Mary's world, the Jews of Palestine suffered from an intolerable subjugation to the Roman Empire. The apostles and disciples understood the implications of this situation, and they looked to the Master, Whom they came to know as the Messiah, for an answer to their longings for a better world, often mistaking His power for a merely temporal one.

Now among these men and women of Palestine who followed Jesus, none would seem less politically inclined than the Blessed Virgin Mary, because none was more humble, less given to any earthly ambitions. She was a pure reference to her Son, in Whom she too - she more than anyone - recognized the true king to come, Christ the King. She may not have thought of it in those specific terms, but the luminous reality was with her. The Blessed Virgin, to sum up, represents the perfect example of what Christ referred to as the "poor in spirit", the anawim of the Hebrew tradition.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:3)

And yet, despite her lowly opinion of herself ("Behold the handmaid of the Lord"), God had great plans for her life, plans that she could not ignore. She had to confess as much, under the action of the Holy Ghost, through the words of her Magnificat, as we read in today's Gospel:

"My soul doth magnify the Lord. ... For he hath regarded the humility of his handmaiden. For behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done great things unto me, and holy is his name." (Lk. 1:46-49)

In fact, the vocation that was Mary's included a crown: the very symbol of majesty and power that so many worldly men and women have sought in vain.

It is true that Holy Scripture does not directly refer to Our Lady's coronation in Heaven. It is the liturgical and pious traditions of the Church that speak to us of her queenship, which forms the fifth glorious mystery of the Holy Rosary. The actual event in Heaven is not recounted in the Gospel any more than her Assumption into Heaven. There is, however, a major scriptural text that does speak to us of this theme, that is to say the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelations, the Apocalypse:

"And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." (12:1-2)

The fathers and doctors of the Church interpret this passage as representing both the Church and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The image fits well with the subject of today's feast.

In allowing ourselves to be drawn by the shining example of the Queen of Heaven we are guaranteed to come up on the wiser and truer side of the political debate. By looking upward instead of down at our feet or merely sideways, we are sure to find the right path forward.

But is this view of things not just a bit too "otherworldly?" Are we expected to renounce trying to incorporate authentic Christian principles into the temporal order in which we live, here and now? Is there no hope here below, before the dawning of eternity, to see a certain realization of the Kingdom of God? Indeed, there is. The Church has always maintained that it is good and useful that the laity — rather than priests or religious — bring Christian values into the political arena and into every walk of secular life. Yes, we can strive to impregnate the social tissue with Christian values. This is good and quite necessary, as long as we remember that this temporal order will perish, that the figure of this world passes away.

In a recent message to the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, warned of the "unprecedented gravity" of threats to religious freedom for Catholics in the United States. While praising the American tradition of freedom — especially religious freedom — he underlined "the responsibility of each new generation to preserve, defend and advance those great ideals in its own day.

"At a time," he said, "when concerted efforts are being made to redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom," the Knights must "counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church's participation in public debate."

In a healthier society there would be no need to call for "religious freedom," since protecting the interests of the Church would be seen as the very first duty and strict obligation of the civil authorities. The onus should be on the government to do its duty to God, rather than on the Christians to stand up for their "rights". We have come to a sorry state of things, but it is well to recognize the reality of it all.

As monks we have the privilege of not having to be especially concerned about the temporal order at all. Having renounced the world in a more literal manner than other Christians, we are more free to pursue the Kingdom of Heaven, already in our station here below, without needing to join in political controversies and power struggles. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we look to the realization of the divine politics of the Magnificat:

"He hath shown might in his arm, he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their hearts, he hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble; he hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away." (Lk. 1: 51-53)

May the glorious Queen of Heaven, whom the angels greet today with ineffable songs of love, look down with kindness and pity upon our difficult times. In fact, she not only casts her eyes our way, but beckons us to raise our hearts and minds above the noise and confusion of this "crumbling pageant" of the world, to the place where, already, a new order is taking the place of the old.

“And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” (Apoc. 21:5).

Amen. Alleluia.

Monday, September 24, 2012

If I were a rich man ... (2012 Edition)

VIDEO: Chaim Topol as Tevye, in the 1971 motion picture Fiddler on the Roof, which won three Academy Awards, and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor.

There have been stories of people reaping a fortune in millions of dollars from state lotteries, only to squander it away and subsequently ruin their lives. But oh, no, not me, mes amis. I would be one to show the world that this need not happen.

How dare do I make such a bold claim, you ask, dear minions?

One of my cousins was a professional baseball player. And while he was never among the first-string high-profile talent, his contract did run into the millions before he retired. He now lives in a very fine (and from what I am told, very big) house, and he makes his living as a contractor, building backyard decks. No, he does not just own a company that builds decks; HE builds decks.

This essay is to demonstrate, through the depiction of four scenarios, what would happen to me were I to be so fortunate, be it winning the lottery, writing the next great American novel, or just having it fall into my lap. It includes certain prudent measures, not the least of which would be to have a long and serious conversation with that cousin of mine; you know, what's okay, what's not okay. Taking into account roughly thirty percent going to taxes, and ten percent being tithed to the Church (which is the least I could do), I presuppose for this example, that I would be left with sixty percent of the amount in total. Other than that ...

If I won $100,000 ($60,000) ...

... I would settle my credit card debts (which aren't much, but enough to be inconvenient), and any funds borrowed off my inheritance, as well as make up for any deficiencies in my retirement portfolio. I would also trade in my current car and put a big down payment on a new one. The rest would go to the renovation of my townhouse, or maybe getting ahead on my mortgage. My life would not change much, but would improve.

If I won $1,000,000 ($600,000) ...

... I would do all the above, except that I would keep the townhouse as an investment, and put down a huge payment on a larger one. It would have to be one of the dozen or so three-bedroom units in my neighborhood, because I love my neighborhood that much. I would get two cars instead of one; a larger one, fully loaded, for highway driving, and a Scion iQ or similar vehicle for city driving. I would also establish a fund for the care of Mom, where she would draw from the interest. My life would change, but not go crazy.

If I won $10,000,000 ($6,000,000) ...

... I would do all the above, except that I would find an estate in the middle of town with a large carriage house and a servant's cottage, to create a neighborhood within a neighborhood, one sufficiently insulated by its landscape and other barriers. My wife and I -- hey, it could happen -- would live in the main house, with a separate entrance at the walk-in basement for at least two boarders, most likely expatriates from the Philippines who work in the home health care industry. There would be a quarter-acre garden for flowers and produce, and a shed for chickens, all under the care of a semi-retired couple living in the carriage house above the three- or four-car garage. The guest cottage would be for a retired priest, who would say private (Traditional Latin) Mass in the chapel to be built on the property, preferably on wheels, because zoning laws are such a pain.

What's more, the choice of "highway car" might be a bit more upscale.

If I won $100,000,000 ($70,000,000) ...

... I would do all the above, and quit my day job. Instead of tithing to the Church, I would set up an endowment with the amount in question, to disperse the interest off the principle. This could lead to the reception of papal honors, in which case I would only accept membership in the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. There's just something about being "sovereign" ...

IMAGE: Artists rendering of Hundredfold Farm, a cohousing village near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Used without permission or shame.

Instead of buying an even bigger estate, I would buy property, either in the Blue Ridge, western Maryland, southern Pennsylvania, or southern Ohio, and build a village. It would follow the “cohousing” model, and would hold between twenty-four and thirty-six residences, or up to about three hundred people. Solicitations would be sent to Catholic homeschooling families, for whom would be secured low-interest loans to begin their new lives. We would establish a corporation to oversee the planning, design, and construction, and later govern it as a homeowners association (only we'd call it a "board of selectmen" presided over by a "mayor" and "vice-mayor"). There would be a common house to function as a "village hall," a chapel, something resembling a post office, and one or more small working farms along the perimeter. A village-based cooperative would own the general store, the workshop managed by a guild, and (finally) a produce stand along the main road nearby.

Finally, I would also establish a trust fund for my son and his family.

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In the second, third, and fourth scenario, I would hire an accountant to manage the fortune.

In the third and fourth scenario, I would hire an accountant to manage the fortune, and a lawyer to protect it from the riff-raff.

In the fourth scenario, I would be designated the village idiot, as “all day long I'd biddy biddy bum.”

(The above, with some adjustments, is a reprint of a work first published in December 2009.)

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (National Punctuation Day Edition)

The White House finally came clean about those "little" embassy protests. Also, did striking Chicago teachers idolize an anti-gay bigot? Hear the details about these stories, plus Obama's lavish party with Jay-Z and Beyoncé, from the folks at Pajamas Media.

If you want to know more about the "scary-@$$ chart of the week" (and you really do), click here. Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth.

He was living in British Columbia, going on with his life. She was from Ireland. They only met for two minutes, and she was gone. That was not enough for him, and so, in the words of Sherlock Holmes: "The game is afoot!" (The Independent)

And speaking of impending heartbreak, this sounds familiar, doesn't it? A 77-year-old Montreal man won $16.9 million in the lottery in 2009, but his life since has been mired with lawsuits and untimely deaths in his family (Sun News)

Think it couldn't be worse? Well, brace yourselves! A guy in Washington state has been charged with stealing a rare coin collection worth $100,000 and spending the coins at face value on a movie and pizza with his girlfriend. (The Columbian)

And speaking of priorities, a father in Massachusetts is upset with his daughter's school. Seems she injured herself in gym class, and they called him before calling 911. Can you say "protocol"? (WCVB-TV)

Finally, are you one of those people who thinks an ellipsis is when the moon moves in front of the sun? Then be warned that this is National Punctuation Day, when we stop and take a moment to recognize the importance in our lives, of crossing those T's and dotting those I's. "Every jot and tittle" has its place in keeping our world from descending into total chaos. And who other than those jokers at Occupy Wall Street wants that anyway? (Wikipedia)

That's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

That Was The (Big-@$$) Week That Was

Today was a busy day, not only with administrative matters on the day job (this being near the fiscal year end), but with research for at least three works, on the order of our recent and highly successful one, “The Latin Mass: Why You Can’t Have It” all scheduled for the next three weeks. As you can see from this chart of our most popular week here at man with black hat (with today's count as of early this evening eastern USA time), we barely dipped below two hundred on any given day. Even the lower counts are nearly double the typical day in this corner of the Catholic blogosphere.

Where do we go from here?

This writer and his associates have been discussing, not only future topics for publication, but how to promote this work effectively. The Catholic Blog Directory, first established by the late Gerard Serafin and continued by one only known as "Andrea," lists nearly 2700 weblogs in the English-speaking world as of the 21st of this month. There are many voices to be heard. How is it that one is heard above the cacophony of sheer numbers?

Yours truly never was one for cheap gimmicks. If a clever title is what you look for in such a medium as a weblog, this venue is not for you. If you are only interested in the same steady diet of "politics and religion" as every other "Catholic blogger," this venue is not for you either. We obviously deal with both here, but we also like to think of this as "a blog for people who don't read blogs."

To wit, we refer you to our “Raison D’Etre” at the top of the blue sidebar. To be a Catholic is to believe in life, and in living that life to the fullest, according to the will of our Father in heaven, and our Mother Church on earth. One must see the presence of His Son (and Her Bridegroom) in all things, as Truth can be found in the beauty of all things, so as to gaze upon beauty, and fall in love with the Truth.

To wit, our lengthy-yet-revealing tagline still defines our mission.

“The daily musings ...”

Friday, September 21, 2012

FAMW: The Oregon Duck Goes “Gangham Style”

By now, most people have learned (whether they wanted to or not) about the biggest new dance craze since the Macarena. You remember that dance, the one that most Latinos stopped doing once they saw enough gringos doing it badly. Well, this one's out of Korea, the brainchild of some guy whose name we're all sure to forget by this time next year. (Yours truly forgot it already.) Until then, The Duck was bored a few weeks ago, and this is what he did as a result, in plenty of time for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: 100 Years in 150 Seconds

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

Sure, they're all speaking Dutch, but if you only know English, and maybe a bit of Latin (as does yours truly), you might be able to count right along anyway, as Dutch filmmaker Jeroen Wolf re-creates the span of a lifetime in two-and-a-half minutes, with the help of 100 different subjects, each one year older than the last.

After all, using the same person would have taken a lot longer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Latin Mass and Liturgical Coexistence

By the end of the 20th century,, e-mail listservs and internet discussion forums were already the scenes of fierce intellectual battles between "papal traditionalists" and "hardliners" over the restoration of the sacred to Catholic worship. Priests such as the late Father John Mole, OMI, sought a measure of "liturgical peace" amidst the fray, while acknowledging the excesses of the liturgical movement in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. In his 2000 book Whither the Roman Rite? (Word of God Hour, Ottawa), he called upon those who favored one form of the Roman Mass or the other, as well as those seeking a "reform of the reform," to pursue their respective aims without opposing the right to exist of the others.

But how to facilitate liturgical coexistence in practice? Can one of the aims of Pope Benedict, that both forms of the Roman Rite benefit from the other, be achieved, or at least aspired to? There has been relative success at the parish of Saint John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia. The celebration of the Sacred Triduum, that of the passon, death, and resurrection of Christ, employs the Novus Ordo Missae (the "ordinary form," if you will) with the degree of ceremony and accoutrement associated with its traditional cousin, both in English and Latin, and with the altar oriented to "liturgical east."

Can such peaceful coexistence play a role in the catechesis of the faithful, with a gradual appreciation for, and a restoration of, the essence of Catholic tradition in the official worship of the Church? We here at mwbh are grateful for the following, written to yours truly by “Romulus” -- the chief master of ceremonies at a downtown parish of a major Southern city, one in which both forms of the Roman Rite are celebrated.

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To begin with, if we are going to talk in terms of supply and demand, one's reminded of Say's law, usually reduced to the memorable phrase "supply creates its own demand". While not wishing to over-work the analogy, it must be said that the faithful will never ask for a thing of which they have no awareness or understanding. Christian parents raise their children in the faith without waiting to be asked: similarly, those entrusted with the care of souls have a certain evangelical obligation to promote and provide to the best of their ability, not to reduce the pastoral ministry to a market-driven order-taking responding to consumer demand. Exposure to the EF changes hearts; it happens all the time.

While I understand and have personally dealt with diffident (and over-burdened) monoglot priests resistant to learning the EF, it is not unfair that a priest of the Latin Rite be expected to be competent in the forms for which he's ordained. Especially given the demands of Vatican II and canon law about pride of place for Gregorian chant and Latin in both liturgy and priestly formation. I too have devoted hundreds of hours to training lay men to serve: neither I nor my colleagues are so burdened with spare time that we search for new ways to dispose of it. It is a sacrifice to which we’ve dedicated ourselves, notwithstanding our already heavy business and family commitments. I am sure you can report much the same thing yourself. We know it’s important, so we find the time.

Again, while sensitive to the practicalities of parochial administration (I also have an MBA and serve on my parish's finance council) the option of scheduling an EF Mass requires a certain amount of leadership (and catechesis) on the part of the pastor. It is burdensome and pointless to ask for an additional mass to be scheduled on a Sunday afternoon when it will be little more than a field trip for the curious or a ghetto for the worst kind of carping malcontents. Plan for failure, and failure will be the result. A Sunday morning mass between the hours of 8 and noon enables family participation, and makes merciful accommodation for those making the private choice to observe the traditional Eucharistic fast. This won’t inevitably lead to rebellion, especially if the change is done by degrees and accompanied by intelligent catechesis. Serve some coffee and pastries afterwards and watch a committed parish community blossom and thrive. You’ll have to chase them home just to lock up. I know.

Speaking of practicalities, you are absolutely right that that a parish celebrating in both forms commits itself to work and expenses which must be supported in time, talent, and treasure. Our parish celebrates solemn mass in both EF and OF every Sunday (each clocking in at about 70 minutes), in circumstances of considerable splendor and ceremony. The people love it. It took us about twelve years to get there, but we’re now known, loved, and sought out as a liturgical oasis. Not every parish will have the resources for Solemn Mass, but a simple Missa Cantata without incense can be attempted with much less up-front investment (a good parish should be moving toward ad orientem celebration even if there’s no plan to celebrate the EF). Sung or solemn mass will not please the lowest common denominator that comes merely to have its Sunday ticket punched, but the Catholic Church is founded and operated on the truth that, touched by grace in an encounter with the transcendent, people do change. I have seen this too.

Again, thanks for this intelligent and thoughtful post. I am going back now to read it again.

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Not a bad idea. Click here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Mid-September Edition)

Why is Chuck Todd more upset with Mitt Romney than with the radical Islamists who raped and murdered US Ambassador J Christopher Stevens? (That does it! He's no longer one of my faves among the "Big Three." But Jake Tapper still is, for the moment.) Also, hear about the radical occupiers who threatened to blow up a bridge, and more, from those zany madcaps at Pajamas Media.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

Some of you may remember this writer's visit to Seattle last month. Well, guess who didn't get out of town a moment too soon? It appears that local citizens may be tired of sharing their city with tourists. (KING-TV)

Here's something to think about the next time you eat watermelon. If you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, you might be a racist. Why aren't they teaching these things in the ... oh, wait. (

If you're ever in Tazewell County, Virginia, beware of the sheriff and his trusty Facebook page. A sex offender wanted in Maryland was caught there after his girlfriend "liked" their page. Wait, this guy has a girlfriend? (WJHL-TV)

Finally, a school in Colorado confiscated a student's rosary, claiming it was a gang symbol. In fact, we reported on this very thing four years ago today. Maybe Catholicism is finally going "gangsta." As was the case then, representatives of both The Jets and The Sharks still could not be reached for comment. (Fox News)

And so, that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Latin Mass: A Postscript

Friday evening, we here at man with black hat published an essay entitled “The Latin Mass: Why You Can’t Have It” which was fairly well received. We had nearly five hundred visitors in the 24 hours that followed. For us, that is doing very well. It's what happened the next day that has left us completely at a loss.

About two or three times a month, we get lucky and are featured at Big Pulpit. But it didn't stop there this time. One of our correspondents suggested where we might send a link to the article. With nothing to lose, we obliged them. We got picked up by Rev Mr Greg Kandra, author of The Deacon's Bench at the Patheos Catholic Channel, essentially the "cool kids table" of the Catholic blogosphere.

One blogger, David Alexander, in the Diocese of Arlington, has taken a pretty exhaustive and detailed look at that question and offers some hard numbers about how many people actually want the “Latin Mass” — and what can be done about it.

We've also heard from several priests who have basically said we're right on the money. But the big surprise came early this afternoon, when yours truly got a phone call from one of his research assistants. The following headline (and you can click on the image to see for yourself) was "above the fold" at New Advent:

Why can't you have the Traditional Latin Mass? It comes down to supply and demand ...

About an hour ago, as this is published, we received OVER ONE THOUSAND VISITORS TODAY. That's another walk in the park if you're with Patheos, but we're lucky to get that many visitors in a week, never mind a day. On top of that, it was on the weekend.

And the evening is still young. So now I want to speak from the heart.

In the past week or two, I was actually beginning to wonder if this venue was worth pursuing, writing things that very few people, if anyone, really wants to read, when someone else who posts cheap Photoshop stunts of nuns in full habit riding skateboards, whines about what crazy stunt Father Fezziwig pulled at Mass last Sunday -- "Oh, oh, stop me if you've heard this one!" -- or simply regurgitates what they read elsewhere, can get invited on EWTN, or a prominent podcast, or otherwise be elevated to international Catholic pundit status. With this recent success, and knowing that "all glory is fleeting," I just might reconsider.

But first, I want to thank Tito Edwards, Deacon Greg Kendra, and Kevin Knight for giving this venue the biggest audience it has ever had, a projected TWO THOUSAND visitors in one weekend.

And ... most important, my long-time faithful research assistant, Sofia Guerra, who has since launched her own blog,, for her continued advice and support.

But I'm still keeping my day job, just to be on the safe side.

(POST-POSTSCRIPT: This weblog gets 1400 visits in a really good week. As of 10:30pm local time, we got that many in one day. I believe Sally Field said it best when she ... nah, never mind.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Latin Mass: Why You Can’t Have It

Well, you can, actually.

We do NOT refer here to the "ordinary form" of the Roman Mass, also known as the "Novus Ordo Missae," promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969, and celebrated in its normative state in Latin, while permitted in an authorized vernacular.

We refer instead to the so-called "extraordinary form" of the same, that which dates in its general appearance to the time of Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century, and which, after a millennium of cross-cultural evolution, was codified by Pope Pius V in 1570, and with minor alterations in the centuries to follow, was in normative use in the Western church until 1964, with the first measures to (ostensibly) reconcile the Ordo Missae with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council (which is another subject for another day). It is referred to most commonly these days as the "Traditional Latin Mass" or "TLM," but in the recent past as the "Tridentine Mass," or the "Old Mass," or the "Mass of All Time" (the latter being a misguided term, inasmuch as EVERY valid Mass is a Mass of all time, regardless of its form).

On the seventh of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand and seven, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI announced the removal of all restrictions to the celebration of this form of the Roman Rite, in his motu proprio (that is, on his own initiative) decree Summorum Pontificum. Given the availability of a priest in good canonical standing who is competent to celebrate it, and given the desire of the faithful themselves to assist thereupon, there is no permission required of the local bishop. That decree became effective five years ago today, on the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross.

So, the challenge of restoring Catholic tradition in worship has been met -- in theory. What follows are some of the most likely reasons as to why, in some localities, this has not been met in practice.

But first ... let us clear the air about two things.

First, I am not just some crank on the internet bitching about things I am powerless to change (like some folks we know). For five years I have been the Senior Master of Ceremonies for the Traditional Mass at the Church of Saint John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia, under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Arlington. We are the only location for a Traditional High Mass EVERY Sunday of the year in the DC metropolitan area (without including Warren County or the West Virginia panhandle). I have trained dozens of young men to serve this Mass, including one now studying for the priesthood, and two others discerning, and have been of some assistance to several priests in learning to say the Old Mass. I am in frequent contact with priests and fellow-emcees throughout the States, often serving alongside them in cities that I visit. (Have surplice and cassock, will travel.) It is safe to say that I possess some facility with the subject matter, thanks to the exemplary guidance of devout clerics and knowledgeable laics, not to mention a group of young men who would make any mother proud.

Second, what follows is not an endorsement of any delay or other dilatory actions undertaken by parish and/or diocesan officials. This presentation is given with the understanding, that the motu proprio was written specifically to be generous to the highest degree allowable under church law. The assumption is not that what is called for cannot be done, but that it can. The burden falls, not on the faithful, but on those who would serve them. That said, it is helpful to know why things are not as they should be, if only to understand, and eventually overcome them.

To put it another way, if you can't imagine why you don't have access to the Traditional Latin Mass in every gosh darn parish in the universe, as of one day after the Pope said you could, or you want to know what has to happen to have one anywhere at all, you should read this.

Then you should read it again. Slowly.

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The short explanation is that it comes down to two things: supply and demand. From there, it behooves us to elaborate.


We start with demand instead of supply. As the latter gives the detailed picture, it helps to see the big one first.

For those who experience difficulties in having the Traditional Mass celebrated in their locality, the inclinations of church authorities notwithstanding, much of that which they encounter may be strictly practical.

It is no secret that many parts of the country face a shortage of priests. We can safely assume that those available have more than enough to do. A return to Catholic tradition in the Church, including collective certainty of Her teachings, may alleviate that eventually, but not immediately. The sentiments of one devoted pastor in rural Ohio are neither insincere nor unusual: "I'm already in charge of three parishes, and they expect me to learn the Latin Mass?" Meanwhile, seminaries are only beginning to offer training in the Traditional Mass in the past year or two as part of the regular curriculum.

The realities of supply, especially when it is limited, are usually the result of demand. For our first case in point, we turn to the Buckeye State of Ohio, to the area where I was raised.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio, has an estimated 500,000 baptized Catholics. They are spread out over an area in the southwestern portion of Ohio that comprises nineteen counties. The territory is over fifty miles in length running east to west, and over one hundred miles running north to south. Sitting roughly in the middle is the city of Dayton, where a priest of the Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) offers the Traditional Mass every day of the week, at a magnificent urban parish church, Holy Family. Once slated for closing, it is now dedicated to this apostolate, and is thriving.

Hold that thought.

Of the half million baptized Catholics, let us suppose (for want of a better method) that ONE PERCENT of them would drive for up to an hour to attend the Traditional Mass. That gives us a total of 5,000. However dedicated, they are nonetheless very small in number relative to the whole. With a central location devoted to them on a daily basis, and a second one in another high-population area for Sundays, one would ask if they are adequately served. Five thousand souls produces more than enough for two good-sized parishes. You would think that the number alone would justify making it available in more locations, wouldn't you?

To answer that question poses another: how is either meeting the demand? Holy Family in Dayton has about three hundred attendees on average, and the church building they use is nearly half full. Sacred Heart Church in Cincinnati has about two hundred attendees on average for its Traditional Mass, and it is about half full. That would put the number at about five hundred, or ONE TENTH OF ONE PERCENT of the faithful. The location in Cincinnati uses a rotating schedule of priests from outside the parish, but both locations begin before noon. If the attendance were merely to double or to triple, you might have a good case for expansion, ergo the support of yet another parish. But for whatever reason, it has not.

(We did not forget the historic Old Saint Mary's, also in Cincinnati, but their Sunday Latin Mass is in the ordinary form, quite beautifully celebrated at the old high altar, although they offer the traditional form on weekdays and First Friday evenings.)

But what if the numbers didn't matter? Surely if it were already more available, people would be drawn to it like bees to honey. For that, we look at the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, with just over 400,000 faithful, in 68 parishes and missions. This diocese is very fortunate, in that the Traditional Latin Mass is offered every Sunday at EIGHT locations. A generous estimate of regular attendees at all locations put together would be around 1,300, or roughly ONE THIRD OF ONE PERCENT of the faithful, availing themselves of that which is provided by just under TWELVE PERCENT of the parishes and missions of the diocese.

While the latter does represent an increase in demand per capita, it is contingent upon the participation of roughly ONE-EIGHTH of the parishes of the diocese. That and the relatively small numbers hardly make for a dramatic trend -- so far.

Is it unreasonable to expect people to drive for up to an hour to attend the Traditional Mass? An answer to that question might be aided with some perspective. For Catholics of the Eastern Rites (who make up roughly TWO PERCENT of the Catholic population in the USA), unless they live in either the northeastern states, specifically in blue-collar cities like Chicago or Detroit, such a weekly trek is not at all unusual. This has been the case at the Byzantine Rite parish I have attended off and on for many years, when roughly three hundred families in the parish (compared to the five thousand mentioned above) would travel for up to an hour to attend Divine Liturgy.

We can expect a chilly reception from local church officials for the return of the Traditional Mass to such a locale. This writer has had occasion to encounter them over the years. They are at times disingenuous, if not altogether dishonest. And yet, in spite of many accounts of institutional connivance which our readers are all too happy to share, attempts to hire goons to physically block the faithful from attending the Traditional Mass, at least in the States, have yet to be reported. Stories of "persecution" may be a bit exaggerated, especially if no one is drawn and quartered.

In a 1983 interview for The Wanderer, the late Silvio Cardinal Oddi said that the Traditional Mass would be restored when people wanted it badly enough. (He said that. I did not.) Perhaps it will ultimately be when ENOUGH people want it badly enough. (Okay, I said that.) There will also need to be priests to celebrate it (inasmuch as the rest of you are not as blessed as we are in northern Virginia). This brings us to ...


We must first consider that, without Summorum Pontificum ever seeing the light of day, the typical parish priest works six days a week.

Let's repeat that: Six. Days. A. Week.

Most of those workdays easily run from ten to twelve hours. The shortest day for most, in terms of hours, is Sunday. Even that one starts early, with several hours of meeting the constant (if genuine) demands of one person or group after the other -- all before lunch. If you've ever wondered why a rectory is the last place to find a priest on a Sunday afternoon, now you know.

This is not to say that there are not priests who make the time to learn the Old Mass. I am saying this is what they generally have to overcome when they make the time.

So let's imagine that a young family with several children in tow visit the pastor. They make a reasonable request along the lines of the aforementioned decree, for an additional Mass, to an already full schedule on Sunday morning. They are also able to assure Father that several dozen other families -- most of them from other parishes, whom Father does not normally serve, and over whom he has no pastoral authority in theory -- will also be willing to attend. Now, Father cannot say more than three Masses on a Sunday except for an emergency. This is not an emergency. Father also knows that most of his parishioners (those whom he IS obligated to serve) like things the way they are just fine. God only knows why, but they do. Oh, it can't be too late in the day, Father, since little John Paul has to go down for his nap just after noon. Father is thinking about that already-crowded schedule, and how he would really like to accommodate these folks. In fact, he rather favors the Old Mass himself. Now, if only he could unbolt the altar weighing two tons from its location and move it back about six or eight feet...

At times like these, forty years of clowns and balloons and dancing girls and other worst-case scenarios that don't happen nearly as much as you wish they would to prove your point, aren't even an issue. It really comes down to the simple matter of adding another obligation to what is already a full plate -- all on the assumption that the person being prevailed upon has the same enthusiasm for the idea as does his petitioners.

But let's give ourselves some latitude for the moment. Suppose a change in the Sunday Mass schedule, rather than an addition, is actually on the table. After all, a pastor who is dedicated to Benedict XVI's vision for restoring the sacred to Catholic worship, cannot overlook the possibility, whether or not the pastoral council gets wind of it. This is also a big issue for families with young children. The best time for them to start seems to be anywhere from eight in the morning, to (maybe, just maybe) as late as ten. After that, the young ones tend to get cranky, as it is coming up on nap time. The parents could probably use a nap as well.

So why doesn't a parish schedule the Traditional Mass for an earlier time? The Pope says we're entitled to this, right?

Here's where thinking in a vacuum has its disadvantages. Let's say a typical parish has a Sunday Mass schedule with starting times at 7:30, 9:00, 10:30, and 12:00 (which is possible at a large parish with at least two priests available). Let's say the pastor is in a position to replace one of those with a Traditional Mass, as opposed to adding to the schedule. Why does he pick the 12:00 noon Mass for that purpose, as this would be inconvenient? Why not replace the 9:00 or the 10:30? It is here that we step out of the vacuum and consider how others are affected. For one thing, the alleged riff-raff of "novus ordo Catholics" who already attend the 9:00 and the 10:30 have children as well, who get just as cranky around nap time. Mummy and Daddy are also active parishioners who contribute financially -- one of the precepts of the Church, not exactly a "novus ordo" concept -- whereas the majority of attendees at a Traditional Mass, for the foreseeable future, may largely hail from neighboring parishes. Maybe they'll contribute financially; maybe they won't.

If you were the pastor, would you bet the ability to pay next month's bills on it?

Finally, a Traditional Mass, in particular a High Mass, can run over an hour quite easily, which can throw off the whole schedule afterwards. Does that mean we make the 12:00 Mass into the 12:30? Shouldn't those affected be considered? Coming from outside the parish, do we care? And if we don't, what does that say about us? What it says about a pastor, is that he is left with knowing that everybody is entitled to something, not just people who want the Old Mass. He also knows that his main obligation to the care of souls, is primarily in the area where he serves -- usually a geographic territory known as a "parish."

Okay. Say we've gotten past all that, and we have a regularly scheduled Traditional Mass, at a regular parish, on a Sunday morning. Now the real work begins...

There is not only the matter of the priest being trained to do so properly, but that of boys or men (not girls or women, as we are bound by conditions under the older observance) who are trained to serve the Mass. The reformed Roman Missal does not require a designated clerk for assistance; the traditional Roman Missal does. If the host parish uses albs for vesture, and you just can't imagine the sight of that, it may fall to you to provide cassocks and surplices. (NOTE: In Eastern Europe, the use of surplices over street clothes, without the use of cassocks, is not uncommon. In Australia, the use of albs instead of cassocks and surplices is not uncommon either.) The requirements for priestly vesture are also more demanding in the traditional form. If the parish cannot fulfill those requirements, will your "stable group" be able to meet the demand? If you want a High Mass at any one time, there has to be a schola, or at the very least, a cantor who is schooled in Gregorian chant, and who is able to lead the chants of the Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, et cetera), as well as sing the propers for the Mass (Introit, Gradual, et cetera).

(NOTE: It is ideal that the schola consist entirely of men, as they are functioning as surrogates for minor clerics. In the event that only women are available, it is preferable that the schola be composed entirely of women. Either case would ensure what is known as "purity of sound." If you have to ask what that is, you are at a disadvantage in challenging this point.)

I know what you're all thinking...

The case is often made for special parishes to be established, dedicated solely to offering the Traditional Mass and Sacraments, and staffed exclusively by priests from Traditional communities like the Fraternity, or the Institute of Christ the King. After all, with our own parishes, we can live happily ever after, and the rest of the "novus ordo church" can go to hell in a handbasket.

Something like that, right?

It all looks so simple. Too simple, really. That's why I spoke with a source close to the Fraternity, on the condition of their anonymity.

The major focus of communities dedicated to the Traditional Mass and Sacraments since the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum, is on the training of diocesan priests to celebrate the Traditional Mass themselves, provided these communities are of sufficient numbers, and not all of them are. While arguably a short-term solution, it has been determined to be the best one for the immediate future. As to the long haul, there are numerous requests from bishops to have these orders come to their dioceses and administer special parishes. This is where the short-term solution comes in, since these same orders currently lack the sheer numbers to fulfill the requests they are getting. Some dioceses have been informed that the wait could be as long as ten years! So, it's a great idea, but it won't happen tomorrow.

And lest we forget, we're usually talking about starting a new parish in an area which may already have enough, if not too many. An enormous amount of financial and human resources are involved in the transaction, on the assumption of a demand that may or may not exist. Sufficient compensation for the order administering the parish must be negotiated (and things have been known to break down on this point). With any luck, a suitable parish in the inner city that is nearly abandoned but still serviceable, would be available for a Traditional order to take over. Maybe a few generous benefactors will step forward. Maybe people from the suburbs would be willing to drive into the city. Maybe they will have a safe place to park. It can happen, but this or something like it is what probably has to happen.

In the meantime, the Holy Father does not wish the Traditional Mass to be the exclusive domain of specially-created parishes, but ultimately a component of the worship life of all Roman Rite parishes. In the larger context, he envisions the Traditional Mass as the spearhead of the eventual counter-reform of the Roman Rite, whatever set of books is used.

We keep forgetting that part of his plan, don't we?


There is a point where everyone is in agreement that something must be done about something. It is what happens next where most of us beg to disagree to no end. But first, there are several steps to overcome, and the first one is ...


Make no mistake about it; the greatest enemy of the proliferation of the Traditional Mass, is the person who wants it badly enough to forget the real reason why he or she wants it -- or for that matter, needs it. Consider the following:

Three priests in one East Coast diocese, who enthusiastically awaited the liberation of the Traditional Mass, couldn't wait to learn it. No sooner did they, when they were inundated by complaints from one amateur rubrician after another, about this or that or the other thing. As a result, they no longer celebrate the Traditional Mass, at least not publicly. Indeed, shortly after the motu proprio took effect, none other than Father John Zuhlsdorf issued “a word to biters of the consecrated hand.”

In one major American city is an urban parish with a long practice of reviving the Traditional Mass, dating back almost to the original 1984 Indult. Several years ago, it was taken over by a new pastor, a priest of middle age who was still learning to celebrate the Mass in that way. He was the object of ridicule by his congregants for quite some time, even as he would genuflect on the wrong knee, due to what was already known to be a war injury. Eventually he became quite competent at celebrating the Traditional Mass, and his good character and resilience won the parish over.

One midwestern distributor of liturgical books and various accoutrement received hundreds of emails within a month of setting up an educational website, from various dilettantes ready to pick at various details. Their endeavor, thankfully, has continued to thrive.

At my own parish, a young man actually walked into the sacristy a few minutes before High Mass, while the priest was vesting and saying the appropriate prayers, to complain about the manner of laying out the chalice on the altar before the Mass began. He was quickly and politely shown the door. (He was also not entirely correct.)

And while blogs such as Rorate Caeli are a reliable source of news and information on Catholic traditionalism (if, on occasion, little more than dignified gossip), the comments box regularly becomes a cesspool of bitching and moaning about the battle already won to some extent; the Missale 1962 is tainted by "creeping novus ordoism" (and there really is such a term), thus we have to go back to 1954, or, at last report, 1948, to find our liturgical nirvana. And so the conversation devolves into a diatribe that is indistinguishable from that of the previous story published there.

One might defend the bitterness for various and sundry reasons compiled over the last forty years or more. However justified it may be, it does not serve those who propagate it. This is reason enough to reconsider its value, if it ever had any.


Have you served at the altar for a Traditional Mass? Can you train boys and young men to do the same? Does your pastor need you to pull this off? Draw your own conclusions.

Can you sew entire outfits? Consider producing traditional liturgical vestments. If the money can be raised, good luck getting bolts of the proper cloth. The demand is such that professional makers cannot keep enough on the shelves. (When you spend enough time doing sacristy work, you learn these things.)

Do you have the ability to sing, or have any choral experience? You can spend your free time trolling the internet for miserables, or you can study the good news of Shawn Tribe's New Liturgical Movement or Jeffrey Tucker's The Chant Café. The latter, in particular, is the gateway to learning the tradition of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. You can read notices of workshops and convocations around the country, or you can invite Mr Tucker and his cohorts to your area to stage your own. Seek fellowship among the like-minded. Network the daylights out of this effort!

Eventually you may have enough people to start a schola cantorum, or a polyphonic chorus. And why not? There is a national trend even in pop music for á cappella singing (as in NBC's recent series The Sing Off). A movement can grow out of nothing, as a new generation emerges from the ashes of popular culture. Is there a diocesan parish with a Mass in the ordinary form that could use choral support? A project known as Corpus Christi Watershed is a valuable resource, much of it free or at low cost, in Latin and English, and much of it geared to the needs of small choirs with little experience. Even if there is not (or the pastor has yet to come to his senses), you can perform at weddings, funerals, open mics, street corners, wherever you won't get arrested for disturbing the peace.

You say you can't get anyone to join you except for the wife and kids? Teach them yourself. Let them learn to sing the chorus to "Rorate Caeli" when lighting the Advent wreath, and that of "Parce Domine" to begin Lenten devotions.

You say you cannot sing, but you can cook? The seasons of the liturgical year provide their own unique forms of celebration, both inside and outside the sanctuary. During the Advent and Christmas season, the aforementioned venues, not to mention this one, can be a source of inspiration. There are books to be read, lectures and colloquia to attend, all the while with the attainment of personal holiness as the ultimate reward. Go to to learn about food customs of various Catholic-dominated cultures.

In time, and with the proper disposition (not to mention faith worthy of moving mountains), others will join you.


There is little to say here, even though this may be the hardest of all. If your canonical parish has deteriorated to the point that only an institutional solution will salvage it, and you are convinced that your soul is in danger, MOVE! Go to another parish, go to another state, if it's half as bad as you imagine it to be. If not, engage yourself in the life of a parish, finding a niche where the damage to your soul and your disposition will be kept to a minimum. Personally, I have never heard of a parish that had a surplus of ushers at Mass, or a waiting list to join the St Vincent de Paul Society.


It is not the intention here to deny anything to say that, while those of us who favor the Traditional Mass have little control over nefarious paperhangers in rectories and chanceries, we must exercise some measure of control over ourselves. However arbitrary or unjust certain conditions may be, they are what they are. It is not the hand we are dealt by which we are judged in this life, but how we play that hand. Common sense, and some familiarity with the building trades, demonstrate that it is generally easier to tear something down, than it is to build it up. Those who expected immediate results from the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum need to step back, get a good grip on their emotions, and take a more strategic approach to restoring Catholic tradition.

Such advice is small comfort to those who have suffered from liturgical banality and assaults upon the Faith. One might also consider a homily of Saint John Chrysostom on the Gospel of Matthew. This is not merely an exercise in pious talk. Consider the times in which he lived, when the Arian heresy consumed nearly every bishop, and threatened the resolve even of the man who was Pope at the time (in this case, Pope Liberius, the first Successor of Peter to never have been canonized). Consider this and more, when reading what follows:

As long as we are sheep, we overcome and, though surrounded by countless wolves, we emerge victorious; but if we turn into wolves, we are overcome, for we lose the shepherd's help. He, after all, feeds the sheep not wolves, and will abandon you if you do not let him show his power in you.

What he says is this: "Do not be upset that, as I send you out among the wolves, I bid you be as sheep and doves. I could have managed things quite differently and sent you, not to suffer evil nor to yield like sheep to the wolves, but to be fiercer than lions, but the way I have chosen is right. It will bring you greater praise and at the same time manifest my power." That is what he told Paul: My grace is enough for you, for in weakness my power is made perfect. "I intend," he says, "to deal the same way with you." For, when he says, I am sending you out like sheep, he implies: "But do not therefore lose heart, for I know and am certain that no one will be able to overcome you."

The Lord, however, does want them to contribute something, lest everything seem to be the work of grace, and they seem to win their reward without deserving it. Therefore he adds: You must be clever as snakes and innocent as doves. But, they may object, what good is our cleverness amid so many dangers? How can we be clever when tossed about by so many waves? However great the cleverness of the sheep as he stands among the wolves - so may wolves! - what can it accomplish? However great the innocence of the dove, what good does it do him, with so many hawks swooping upon him? To all this I say: Cleverness and innocence admittedly do these irrational creatures no good, but they can help you greatly.

What cleverness is the Lord requiring here? The cleverness of a snake. A snake will surrender everything and will put up no great resistance even if its body is being cut in pieces, provided it can save its head. So you, the Lord is saying, must surrender everything but your faith: money, body, even life itself. For faith is the head and the root; keep that, and though you lose all else, you will get it back in abundance. The Lord therefore counseled the disciples to be not simply clever or innocent; rather he joined the two qualities so that they become a genuine virtue. He insisted on the cleverness of the snake so that deadly wounds might be avoided, and he insisted on the innocence of the dove so that revenge might not be taken on those who injure or lay traps for you. Cleverness is useless without innocence.

Do not believe that this precept is beyond you power. More than anyone else, the Lord knows the true natures of created things; he knows that moderation, not a fierce defense, beats back a fierce attack.

(Hom 33, 1. 2. PG 57, 389-390)

Every major reform of the Church began in two ways; from among the laity, and through personal reform. We must, at the end of the day, be the solution within ourselves that we seek from others. In so doing, let us pursue our cause with joy, in the genuine Christian sense of the word, with the knowledge that God is still in charge of earthly events, and that the Evil One shall never prevail over the Church that was established by His Son, under whose guidance we offer the Eternal Sacrifice, and follow the cross on our procession toward Heaven.

“The Latin Mass: A Postscript”
“The Latin Mass and Liturgical Coexistence”
“Stairway to Heaven” (from April 2010)


FAMW: Judge Judy and the Divas

Call me sentimental, but there's nothing like a good old-fashioned catfight for light entertainment, so brace yourselves for Judge Judy, and this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy. Meow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

“To everything, turn, turn, turn ...”

We have never met in person, but on occasion, we correspond as though we know each other. Sort of. (I could be exaggerating, just a little.)

Relapsed Catholic (now Five Feet of Fury) was the first "weblog" I ever read, and its author, Toronto writer and syndicated columnist Kathy Shaidle, deserves the credit (or the blame, depending on who you ask) for the existence of this one. She may also have inspired many others, since, after all ...

This year marks my 12th “blogversary.”

That’s right: Before Instapundit, before LittleGreenFootballs, even before PJMedia — I AM.

She certainly is.

Shaidle goes on to highlight the "three turning points in the history of blogging." That's right, there's a history of it now. You'll want to know those turning points (the second of which was a catalyst for yours truly), and watch the fascinating interview from CES 2011 at the end.

So click on the damn quote already.

(UPDATE: In an online column for CBC News, Shaidle also explains her life as a "mediocre Catholic." You have to appreciate both her honesty and her humility. I daresay she may be closer to the kingdom of Heaven than even she suspects.)

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Joe South (1940-2012)

One week ago today saw the passing of a country-crossover singer-songwriter, born under the name of Joseph Alfred Souter, from heart failure, at his home in Buford, Georgia, northeast of Atlanta. He was 72 years of age.

His first major hit was “Games People Play” written and recorded in 1968, and appearing on his debut album that same year, "Introspect." It won a Grammy for Song of the Year in 1970. Dozens of artists have recorded it (some of them badly), including a Scottish folksinger named Dick Gaughan on his album "A Different Kind of Love Song."

“God grant me the serenity to remember who I am ...” till I'm covered up with flowers in the back of a black limousine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kermit Was Right

It's not easy being green.

The following was stolen from my personal favorite "singing sergeant," Janice Reksten Carl, who got it from, via Facebook. It is reproduced here without permission or shame.

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Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truely recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart@$$ young person.

We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off.

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It has been reported that reusable grocery bags, the kind they now sell at supermarkets as part of the usual "going green" stunt, are at risk for carrying food-borne diseases if they are not washed every day.

And for the record, I prefer my brown paper bags with handles. I've also been known to wrap birthday gifts with leftover Sunday comics. After all, using Christmas wrapping would just be wrong.

Nine-Eleven Plus Eleven

We have nothing to add today, except a reference to that which was published last year on this date, the account of an eyewitness.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Biden Revisited

Yesterday, we reported on Vice President Biden's tour through southern Ohio, including this writer's hometown of Milford, 17 miles east of Cincinnati. We also reported on Biden's encounter with the motorcyclists' community in the village of Seaman, located 57 miles farther east. The most reliable reports we can get out of anyone back home, is that the crowd supporting Biden was not that large, and that an impressive number of counter-demonstrators on behalf of "the other guy" were staging their own event nearby.

There has been quite a bit of interest in our coverage of this incident in the Cicinnati area, so we just had to provide a little extra.

Our friends at provide the video clip explaining what little has been reported of the incident, including the testimony of the only one with a press pass allowed in the place, namely an Associated Press photographer, who was fortunate enough to record the incident, and describe it thus.

"[Biden] immediately headed to the counter, where he asked patrons of Cruisers Diner, "Can I borrow one of your bikes? They don't let me ride anymore.'

"'Probably not,' the man responded.

"'Probably not,' Biden repeated, laughing."

Anyone else would have gotten their ass kicked just for having a smart mouth. And they say Romney's the one who is "out of touch with America."

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Pre-9/11 Edition)

It's another Monday morning, but without the usual blogospheric roundup from Pajamas Media, we present another of their contributors, Bill Whittle, in a video from this time last year, where he defends American foreign policy and counterterrorist strategy in the years since 9/11.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

Who said romance is dead? A Russian man wanted to see if his girlfriend really did love him to death, so he faked his, and it worked. (Orange)

Speaking of romance not dying, a photo of an unidentified couple kissing as they are being handcuffed could be the basis for an upcoming film. (NY Daily News)

A mother in China cannot tell her quadruplets apart, so she numbered them by shaving the numbers on their heads. They'll never get to sit with the cool kids now. (

Speaking of winning numbers: "Buddy, can you spare five bucks?" A man in North Carolina has the answer, and was handing out five-spots to celebrate his birthday. (WXII-TV)

Well, that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.