Sunday, May 28, 2023

Novena: Pentecost

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.


(And so begins the season following The Mother Of All Novenas. To view whole enchilada, click here.)

Saturday, May 27, 2023

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 ...

(With this entry, so completes The Mother Of All Novenas. To see it as completed, click here.)

Friday, May 26, 2023

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 ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)

Thursday, May 25, 2023

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 ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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 ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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 ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)

Monday, May 22, 2023

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 ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)

Sunday, May 21, 2023

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 ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)

Saturday, May 20, 2023

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 ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)

Friday, May 19, 2023

Novena Day 1: The Holy Ghost

So it begins, The Mother Of All Novenas.

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 ...

As a final note for today, we here at man with black hat just found this precious little gem. In this 1999 recording on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), the late great Mother Angelica explains (among other things) these gifts for us, as only she can, before a live studio audience. Her cause for sainthood is in its very early stages, and she is missed by so many here on Earth below, including yours truly.

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are to appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)

The Next Day of the Rest of My Life

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

IMAGE: A map of Kings Island Amusement Park, as it appeared in 1973.

Mine was fifty years ago last Friday. We looked into that last week. The next one was fifty years ago today.

+ + +

The picnic grounds that later became known as an amusement park occupied a place east of Cincinnati. First known in 1867 as "Ohio Grove, the Coney Island of the West," it was later known as "Coney Island on the Ohio," and eventually just "Coney Island." Between periodic floods in the spring, and having extended the limits of its property, the Taft Broadcasting Company, which acquired the park by the late 1960s saw the need to expand the concept elsewhere. They found a plot 25 miles northeast of the city, near a little town known as Kings Mills. This explains the otherwise-inexplicable name of “Kings Island” for a theme park. Forty years ago today, I neared the end of one adventure, and began another, one that was to change my outlook on life, and on my self-image.

I had worked at the park briefly the previous autumn -- the "post-season" weekends, as they're called -- in the Rides department. I told them I had experience with canoeing, so they put me at a lake helping people get into and out of canoes. When the weather got too cold, they transferred me to the roller coaster. At the end of October, that was the end of that.

But I wanted more. They had a "Live Shows and Entertainment" department. The money was better, and one of my buds from high school, Chris "Seadog" Seipelt, was one of the animal characters. You know, those guys who walk around in the animal costumes and get their pictures taken with little kids and all that. "You should try out, Dave," he told me. "I'll even help you prepare the audition." He had this costume head which I wore as a prop, and with a 45rpm recording of Elvis Presley's "Blue Suede Shoes," I passed the audition with a presentation of "Bingo Learns to Dance." (Don't ask.)

And I was in.

The money was certainly better. And being in the Shows department had a certain caché that wasn't shared by, say, the ride operators or those who worked the food concession stands. Wearing jumpsuits for most of the day, the guys in our crew would go out for a half-hour or forty-five minutes in these costumes based on Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters -- Yogi Bear, the Flintstones, you know the type -- escorted by these girls known as "guardettes," who would do the talking (since we weren't allowed) and help arrange the kids for photographs. We also had a performance in "Hanna-Barbera Land" of "The Banana Splits Show," which was a fictional rock band composed of four animal characters, and a popular Saturday morning kids show at the time. We pantomimed to a pre-recording of the characters in action. Even as a rookie, I became renowned for my rendition of "Fleagle," the de facto leader of the pack.

It was hot. It was grueling. It was three or four times a day. It was worth every minute.

But the character for which I became best known, was "Templeton the Rat," from the Hanna-Barbera production of "Charlotte's Web." I actually learned how to make the character appear quite real. Once inside the costume, I would bend over slightly, with my head down, and bow my legs when I walked. That made the torso jiggle back and forth, and people actually could imagine seeing a live rodent trying to walk on his hind legs. I can still remember the uproarious laughter from the crowds as I walked away.

IMAGE: The Banana Splits, in an undated publicity photo.

I modeled for children's fashion magazines, and promotions for consumer products. But for all that, my greatest single achievement was being in a movie. After building Kings Island, Taft Broadcasting decided to build a sister park north of Richmond known as "Kings Dominion." They produced a fifteen-minute preview film to promote it in the Richmond area. Some footage was shot at Kings Island, after which the new park would be modeled, while other footage was shot at the construction site. The Banana Splits were the main cast, and I was "Snorky" the elephant, and the only rookie in the cast. We drove to Richmond to film some of it, and Dudley Taft (a descendant of President William Howard Taft) flew us home in his private jet.

Now, back to the ladies.

These girls who accompanied us came from the Guest Relations department, and were hired for their poise, composure, and -- oh yes, their bodaciousness. In fact, they were just about the hottest babes in the whole park. Not only that, but they were the nicest girls you could ever wanna take home to Mama. Most of the guys in the crew were working their way through college, and a few were pretty sure of themselves, especially when it came to the ladies, these ladies in particular. They struck out more often than not, at least at first, which surprised me at the time. After all, high school was nothing like this. I mean, there were rules, you see. You dated within your predestined social class, and never ventured outside of it. There was this one guy -- Tom, I think his name was -- and he told us that he could use every cliché he could think of and still win over the object of his affection. And it actually worked.

There were plenty of opportunities for Tom, of course, and anyone else so bold. We were young, it was summer, and after working hard, we would play hard. There were parties two or three nights a week, just the Characters and the Guardettes. Unlike them, I was not so bold. And one of the first things I learned, is that the girls liked me best for that reason, that I wasn't constantly on the make, which is why they named me "Character of the Year" in an informal poll. Even so, I dated quite a bit that summer, but I usually went for the younger ones, figuring that was all I could, uh, handle. The guys would get on my case for chasing "jailbait," a term someone actually had to explain more than once. I had no idea what they were talking about. I was far from losing my innocence that summer.

But it didn't matter. You see, I could still remember getting beat up by the kids in the neighborhood only ten years earlier. I was physically bullied all through high school. But that summer, for the first time in my nearly nineteen years of a so-called life, I knew what it was like to be ... popular.

IMAGE: George Clooney, yeah, that George Clooney. I knew his dad, sort of.

One week, "The Nick Clooney Show" was broadcast from the park. That was a local variety and talk show back in the 1970s. My buddy Terry and I actually met Nick after work. He was walking around in the park, and against my protestations, Terry called out, "Hey, Nick, over here!" And we talked shop for about five minutes. One day, he brought his family to the park, including a twelve-year-old boy named George. Nick went on to hosting old movies on the American Movie Classics channel. His son has enjoyed a measure of success as well.

Ya think?

I can still remember getting off work at 7:30 in the evening, and going out into the park with a buddy, or a girl I was trying to impress. I remember going on the Alpine Sky Ride as the sun was setting, watching the big band play at the head of the fountain under the fake Eiffel Tower, and being one of the "plants" in the audience for the girl singers. I remember watching the fireworks every evening at ten.

Most of all, I remember never wanting it to end. But it did. We all went off to college, or wherever we were going. Some of my pals went up to Miami University, located in a bucolic college town known as Oxford, northwest of the city. Sometimes when I was there on the weekend for a party, I'd call up my friend Mary Margaret. No, she couldn't join me that night, she was studying. That's right, studying on Friday night. I was disappointed, of course, but I shouldn't have been. I later found out she married a classmate of mine, just after graduating from college.

One of the popular kids. Naturally.

I managed to work at the park for one more summer, but it wasn't the same. I found my only-recently-former girlfriend suddenly "pre-engaged" to some creep who spent three months tormenting me, when he wasn't pretending to be my buddy. He knew how to be everybody else's buddy, too, bringing porn films into the trailer where we took breaks. (Two of us usually left.) I spent the first half of the summer upset that things weren't the same. Why didn't time stand still while I was at college? Where was the magic? And who let all these ***holes in here?

I stayed in touch with some of "the gang" for several years afterwords, but eventually most of them faded away. I am still in touch with two of the guys; one of them a Catholic priest in Cincinnati, the other a retiree in Florida who, like me, married a Filipina. I have not spoken to any of the gals since leaving Ohio more than forty years ago.

It must be a very different experience now. Young women now join the young men in wearing the costumes, and the last time I checked, the characters were from the "Peanuts" comic strip, which can't be nearly as much fun. But most of all, they probably don't get away with half the stuff we pulled off. We had this thing we did to initiate the new girls who escorted us, something called "the squeeze play" ...

I guess you had to be there.

+ + +

I think Frank Sinatra said it best: “Life is like the seasons; after winter comes the spring.” In the summer of 1973, I learned that there was life after high school, a world without a label assigned to you, but one you made for your self. It's hard to believe today that such a thing would never have occurred to me. I also learned that nothing in this world lasts forever. You wait long enough, something changes. People move on, life goes on.

And so did I.

Friday, May 12, 2023

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

IMAGE: Archbishop McNicholas High School, Cincinnati, Ohio, as it appeared back in the day.

You might remember that expression from when you graduated from high school. It signaled a rite of passage, of moving on in life, whether to college, a job, a marriage, or whatever fate decided to bestow upon you as an adult. Mine actually occurred in the weeks before graduation, in two parts.

The first was fifty years ago this evening.

+    +    +

I spent my senior year of Catholic high school in the advanced placement "Humanities Seminar," which combined the mandatory subjects of English, Religion, and Social Studies, into a unique interdisciplinary symbiosis. It was quite the challenge compared to conventional high school classwork, but one that cultivated a scholarly atmosphere worthy of college. The experience saved me from the boredom of "senioritis," not to mention the occasional degeneracy of whatever upper-class suburban white trash managed to slip through the cracks of the Admissions office four years earlier.

Mary Margaret -- her real first and middle names; I will spare her the disclosure of the rest -- was the quintessential "nice Catholic girl." She was very pretty without being overly glamorous, and had no pretensions about herself. We spent much of the latter part of the school year sitting next to one another. Even then, the way to my heart was for a gal to laugh at all my jokes. I won't say that a romance blossomed, although part of me at the time wished it had. While she was very much down to earth, something about her was inaccessible, untouchable, rendering me almost unworthy. This did not prevent a deep and apparently abiding friendship from developing. I had no steady girlfriend, and would not have known what to do with one anyway (having learned the hard way earlier in the senior year -- twice). So when the equivalent of the senior prom arrived -- we called it the "Spring Formal," don't ask me why -- I called her on the phone and asked her to accompany me, and she accepted. Fortunately for me, she was equally inaccessible to everyone else. She made no attempt to be. Mary wasn't one of those girls who hiked her uniform skirt six inches above the knee when she was a safe distance from the house. Nor was she interested much in "dating," so far as I knew.

I will save the perspective on that for later. Meanwhile, back to our misadventure ...

IMAGE: Some guy named Bill with (bad fashion sense and) his prom date. Used without permission or shame.

When that magic evening came, it was without a tuxedo.

My mother could not fathom my going to the expense of spending twenty dollars (about one hundred and forty dollars in today's currency, oh yes!) to rent a suit that I would only wear once. This was actually a mixed blessing. That meager price would have afforded me a garden-variety black tuxedo, with a plain white shirt and black bow tie, as opposed to the more expensive, and eminently more "stylish" brightly-colored polyester regalia with a ruffled shirt that was popular back then, and the subject of retrospective shame in the present day. So I wore my favorite brick-red Norfolk jacket with grey slacks, and my favorite tie.

Mary's mother was very nice, and took our picture by the fireplace before we left. She seemed to know my parents, my father in particular, but I don't remember how. I also don't remember who the other couple was that we went with that night. But he drove, and Mary and I sat in the back seat, holding hands, her head gently perched on my shoulder, wearing the orchid I bought for her. We had a very grand time, dancing the night away in the suitably decorated school cafeteria, as this was before renting an overpriced hotel ballroom was de rigueur.

When it was over, and I finally took her home, that goodnight kiss that every teenaged boy meets with anticipation and dread, never came. Girls like Mary didn't take kissing lightly, if at all.

I was driven back to Milford, and stumbled into the house at about three in the morning. Naturally, the old man was waiting. Now, in my younger days, there was rarely a euphoric occasion that he couldn't find a way to ruin somehow, at the breach of any infraction. The good news was, it wasn't in front of a crowd (which never stopped him before). The bad news was, I was up for at least an hour (which seemed much longer), admonished in no uncertain terms for keeping a young innocent girl out so late at night, and bringing shame and dishonor to our entire household. Immersed in his own Euripides play that he was, he ordered me to apologize to the poor lass at school on Monday morning, for being such a thoughtless rogue.

Needless to say, she was sufficiently amused by the whole thing.

Before I left high school, I gave her a final token of my affection; a pair of Snoopy earrings I bought at a greeting card store. (It was the early seventies, after all.) She put them on immediately. After I left, we managed to stay in touch during the summer, but not as much as I might otherwise would have wished.

For you see, there were other events on the horizon, and the matter for our sequel, one week from today. Stay tuned ...