Monthly Archives: August 2009

RESPONSE: “And with your spirit.”

This is a very deep response, and I’m very glad that we get to make it again. (I mean, sheesh, everybody else in the Catholic world always said “And with your spirit.” It’s not what they said in the official Latin (“Et cum spiritu tuo”), or the Spanish (“Y con tu espiritu”), or any other language. We English speakers were the odd ones out, with our crazy insistence that “And also with you” was the same as “And with your spirit”.) (Though of course, if you really think it’s the same exact meaning, saying “And with your spirit” will be exactly the same as what you say now, and so it will be easy for you for change to it. Yay!)

2 Timothy 4:22 — “The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you.”

Galatians 6:18 — “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.”

Philippians 4:23 — “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Luke 4:16 — “He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

“‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.’

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The priest, by the salutation ["Dominus vobiscum"], wishes every grace to the people that the presence of God brings; and the people by their “et cum spiritu tuo“, implore that the soul of the priest be filled with God, thus enabling him to offer worthily the Holy Sacrifice.

The Sacrifice of the Mass, M. Gavin, S.J.

Bishops can say “Peace be with you” at Mass instead of “The Lord be with you”, because that was the Lord’s greeting, and bishops are direct descendants in discipleship from the Twelve Apostles.

If the Holy Spirit were not in this your common father and teacher, you would not, recently, when he ascended this holy chair [the bishop's seat, as the bishop got up on it] and wished you all peace, have cried out with one accord, “And with thy spirit.

Thus you cry out to him, not only when he ascends his throne and when he speaks to you and prays for you, but also when he stands at this holy altar to offer the sacrifice. He does not touch that which lies on the altar before wishing you the grace of our Lord, and before you have replied to him, ‘And with thy spirit.

By this cry, you are reminded that he who stands at the altar does nothing, and that the gifts that repose thereon are not the merits of a man; but that the grace of the Holy Ghost is present and, descending on all, accomplishes this mysterious sacrifice. We indeed see a man, but God it is who acts through him. Nothing human takes place at this holy altar.

– “1st Homily for the Feast of Pentecost”, St. John Chrysostom.


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The Wages of Being a Tomboy

A lot of people complain about how women athletes today are always wearing skimpy clothes, accepting deals for revealing photos, and basically acting like some kind of trashy fluffchick-wannabe.

But those who don’t act that way — well, some people wonder if they’re lesbians. If they’re happily married with three kids and obvious heterosexual behavior, people wonder if they’re sleeping around or if they’re secretly lesbians using husbands as cover. Always with the suspicions and nasty comments, even though we supposedly like female athleticism.

And now, there’s poor Caster Semenya, who has committed the horrible crime of being a teenage tomboy who’s smallbreasted, narrow-hipped, and not beautiful in a conventional style. Oh, and who hung around with the local boys playing soccer, and dressed like them to fit in or for her own sense of style. If she had an ounce of fat on her or longer hair, if she used makeup or wore a skimpy running outfit cut to show the breasts she’s got, she’d look a lot more like our conventionalized idea of a female. As it is, she constantly breaks records and is constantly called to submit to ever more invasive tests and proofs of her sex. And of course, the only way a woman of spirit can respond to that is by refusing to use makeup or dress any differently. And of course, the world reacts to that with still more invasion of privacy, until now the whole world is backbiting and making nasty comments about the girl.

(Except her village, I’m happy to say.)

In the few pictures taken of her when she smiles, you can see that she’s a lovely, shy young woman. But she doesn’t have much reason to smile at present. She puts on the tough face she learned from her male friends on the soccer team, and the world sneers at her even more as obviously not a girl.

So this is what our culture wants from her: either for her to get drunk and run around naked in front of tabloid photographers, or kowtow to the dubious beauty culture of contemporary sport, or go home in disgrace, or kill herself and remove the stress of having a tall strong black woman around like the ones sought out by Zulu kings to be their bodyguards.

Did I mention that the track federation has already had a girl try to kill herself after the same kind of treatment? But they didn’t pull that on her between the semifinals and the finals. No, they saved that for Caster Semenya.

There is much talk about her having androgynous or male features. Hate to point this out, but if you shave anybody’s head into that short of a haircut, she’s likely to look androgynous. There’s a lot of very feminine black ladies at work who can make themselves look very masculine if they have a little too short a haircut or braids one week. But they’re not forced to face world scrutiny because of a bad hair day.

There is much talk in the media about her supposedly having hair on her lip. Wow, that means every Greek and Mediterranean woman is secretly a man, if you ask My Big Fat Greek Wedding. How do you imagine they ever managed to reproduce themselves?

And you notice the threat to other women? “Keep in line and keep using your pluckers and depilatories, or somebody will Find Out that you’re not a Real Woman. You’re not thin enough, not pretty enough, and now not womanly enough.”

Oh, and she’s an alto or contralto. Horrors! That never happens. And yeah, contraltos are so well known for being secretly guys. Sure.

It makes me sick.

But I hope that this young lady from a little farming village in the Limpopo will show them all. Regardless of the results of any tests or any races, she is head and shoulders above her critics in terms of character and grace.


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Air Purifiers Are Not Magic

Running the air purifier does seem to have filtered out a good amount of dust and allergens. My nose and sinus does feel better.

However, the sites that tell you to run the air purifier in your bedroom area at night are nuts. It pushes air around, by sucking in dirty air and pushing clean air out. If fans dry out your nose and throat, or drafts make you wake up feeling yucky, so will the air purifier. If you can run it somewhere that doesn’t cause a draft, then fine. Otherwise, run it somewhere else while you sleep and in your bedroom when you’re not in it.

It’s no good to run the air purifier all day and night, if you then proceed to open the windows when the allergens that bug you are sure to blow in.

Learn from my mistakes! Do not follow my bad example!


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A Plan for Annoying People Who Talk in Church

Despite the many areas provided outside the nave for people to talk together after and before Mass, some people insist on yakking. This didn’t use to be a problem at the 8 AM Mass, especially during the summer; all the attendees were pretty hardcore, because nobody not hardcore gets up for 8 AM Mass. (Except for non-hardcore people who’ve figured out that it’s worse to wait, and have to walk in ninety degree weather. That would be me.) But there’s no 12:30 Mass now, so a redistribution of Sunday morning Massgoers has occurred. And now, a lot more of the yakkers are suddenly bugging the people trying to pray after 8 AM Mass.

Not that we don’t love them. But. The traditional primary use of a church is as the Lord’s house, a house of prayer. And while I love the Middle Ages, I’m not in favor of people selling chickens in the nave or chatting loudly and garrulously during prayer time, either one.

However, this behavior is innocently obnoxious, not on purpose. And we do love them. What to do?

It occurs to me that we need to revive the laudable old custom of the Church, in all ages and Rites, of singing the next part of the Liturgy of the Hours right after Mass.

Okay, maybe not right after. Give people five – seven minutes to clear out.

Then, if someone starts singing the Office from her corner in the pews in an inconspicuous conversational tone, it will probably encourage people to pipe down or go elsewhere. Quiet singing usually has that effect on conversations. If not, at least the Office is being sung. Win-win. It doesn’t really matter if you know the right tunes or not. (Though you’re going to be singing the same Office for a long time, until liturgical seasons change, and so not much would be different.)

If anybody else knows it, they can join in. And since both the old and new breviary are perfectly church-legal, it doesn’t matter what you use. You can use the Marquess of Bute’s public domain translation of the old one, if you like. In fact, it’d probably be pretty neat to do it. Those of you with iPhones and the like can use those nifty cellphone breviary readers.

If I were still on the Liturgy Committee at my parish, which I haven’t been since last year, I’d suggest it more formally. But heck, who needs to be formal? It’s perfectly legal and desirable for any normal pewgoer to do it.

And it’s not like anyone is going to have the chutzpah to tell you to quit praying the Hours, because it’s disturbing their conversation. (If they do, just tell them you’re having a conversation also. With God. Look very wide-eyed and friendly. Smile.) (And think charitable thoughts. It would really stink to go to Hell because you prayed the Hours snarkily. Blasphemy is one of the Really Bad Sins.)

The more serious problem is that of disturbing other people’s prayer. You don’t want to replace one form of innocently annoying sound pollution with another. If you see other people close to you praying, you might want to find a place further from them and closer to a bunch of yakkers. But if things get quieter, you’ll be able to sing more quietly instead of at conversation level.

If you could do this sort of thing formally, of course, it would be a great thanksgiving for Mass or preparation for it, and might encourage other people to show up early or not rush the parking lot.

Anyway, here’s an idea of what hours you might sing, depending on what Mass you attend:

Saturday night vigil Mass times, depending on the parish: any time from 3 PM to 7 PM.
Old: Nones/ New: Mid-afternoon prayer — 3 PM or so. Fine before an early vigil Mass.
Old: Vespers/ New: Evening prayer — that would probably work after almost any Mass.
Old: Compline/ New: Night prayer — If it’s well after nightfall after Mass, there you go.

Sunday morning Masses also run the gamut.
Old: Lauds/ New: Morning prayer — good before or after early early Masses.
Old: Prime — the first hour after sunrise. Which might be after an early Mass.
Old: Terce/ New: Mid-morning prayer — 9 AM or thereabouts.
Old: Sext/ New: Midday prayer — Noon. So that’ll be after your 9:30, 11 AM, etc.
Old: Nones/ New: Mid-afternoon prayer — That’s what you sing after a noon or later Mass.

All this is pretty approximate, because I am far from a Knowledgeable Source. But since there’s not much singing of the Hours after church going on, that’s good enough. If anybody who knows more complains about how you’re doing it, put them in charge of your new Liturgy of the Hours group. :)

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Medieval Bible Glosses: Glosas Emilianenses

I’ve never heard of this particular set of glosses before, but they sound pretty fascinating. The great importance of the glosses as a memorial of a unique moment in the history of Basque, and of Spanish and other Romance languages slowly developing out of Latin, is now recognized. Here’s a gloss comment to give you the idea, though there’s no Basque annotation here:

Cono aiutorio de nuestro dueno, dueno Christo, dueno Salbatore, qual dueno get ena honore, e qual duenno tienet ela mandatione cono Patre, cono Spiritu Sancto, enos sieculos de losieculos. Faca nos Deus omnipotes tal serbitio fere ke denante ela sua face gaudioso segamus. Amen

Anyway, they come from Codex Aemilianensis 60, from the Monastery of St. Millan.

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Wikipedia Fail

I just discovered “the first Spanish poet”, Gonzalo de Berceo. (I also discovered that my Spanish History and Literature class was far less complete than I paid for, since it seemed to think that Spanish literature began with the Cantigas of Alfonso X “el Sabioso”. But that’s a different post.)

So naturally, I went looking for webpages about the man. Naturally, I checked out Wikipedia. I expected that I’d find a lot more on the Spanish Wikipedia and less on the English one, of course. And indeed, the Spanish page linked to a whole website all about Berceo, full of useful information. It also includes countless other pages of information about medieval Spanish literature that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

It’s not linked off the English page. Indeed, it’s been put on the spam list. Why, people tried to cite it more than once on Wikipedia pages, so it must be spam. And anyway, it’s not a good idea to cite pages in other languages, even if they’re the best source and you note what language they’re in.

(I’ll admit that there’s tons of popup ads. But that’s a minor annoyance, compared to the utility of the info.)

Honestly, I’m really starting to doubt the utility of Wikipedia — in English, at least. Their policies get less and less useful, and more and more neurotic. I’m not saying this is true of all editors, but — phew.

I guess it’s not that surprising. Most stuff on the Internet loses its usefulness after a time and collapses from disinterest after a while. I just hope that when Wikipedia dies off in three or four years, it won’t take too much info with it.

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In Which the Gamer Bores Everyone by Talking about Her Character

Our roleplaying game group is starting a new campaign tomorrow. We are going to adventure out on the grassy plains, away from our mesa pueblo home. And I’m going to be a “druid”, which in this case means a user of nature magic.

So I aim to be a ridin’, ropin’, cowgirl druid. I will follow the Code of the Plains, and speak to rattlers and coyotes and prairie dogs and such.

This ought to be even more fun than my brief Norse barbarian character was.


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Bought an Air Purifier with a HEPA Filter

It’s made a pleasant difference in my apartment in just the last couple or three hours. It’s no louder than a quiet fan, and the small one I bought was less than fifty dollars. Since I bought one for “small rooms”, I can move it around to the various areas of my apartment to filter various areas. (Even the one for medium rooms was the size of a big box fan, and the house-sized ones I couldn’t have carried by myself.)

The downside is that I’ll have to buy new filters for the air purifier every 9-12 months, and HEPA filters are pricey. But if it helps my allergies or my sinusitis, I will have no problem with that. None whatsoever.

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Another Long Week Is Almost Over

This has been a very long week. Funerals, work, lack of sleep, sinus, cable going out… oh, yeah. Long week.

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I Wonder.

People said, and say, a lot of terrible things about the Jews. They make up all kinds of things.

The latest stupid one has newspapers in Scandinavia claiming that Jews steal organs. This seems to derive from urban legends of organleggers, transferred to the Middle East.

Another popular one was the blood libel, claiming that Jews were doing some sort of cannibalistic, vampiric version of Mass. This seems to have come from Roman allegations about the early Christians, possibly crossed with allegations about stuff heretics or Satanists supposedly got up to.

But there are some medieval stories about Teh Eevul Eevul Jooze which actually do seem to echo actual atrocities — by Islamists.

Jews don’t treat their enemies like kosher butchers; but a favored tactic among some Islamist extremists even today is to try to imitate the slaughter of halal goats when they slaughter unbelievers, to indicate that they don’t regard these particular unbelievers as human. IIRC, that’s what happened to poor Daniel Pearl.

Jews don’t kidnap Christian girls to marry them against their will or Christian kids to be raised as Muslims. But heck, the whole Ottoman Empire’s government was founded on kidnapping little Christian boys away from their parents, converting them, and making them be the soldiers of the empire instead of their own kids. Pakistani guys who run the creepier Muslim Koran schools sometimes kidnap boys into them, and they’re not picky about whether they kidnap Muslim boys or Christian ones. (Apparently, no parents line up to enter their kids into creepy schools, so these principals help themselves.) Coptic girls are kidnapped and forcibly converted and “married” under duress all the time, in today’s Egypt, and occasionally in Western countries.

Also interestingly, it was forbidden for Christians in Muslim countries, under sharia law, to say anything bad about any Muslim — even if it were true. So I wonder if “Jews” was ever used as a codeword for “our Muslim rulers”, and then later misunderstood by outsiders; or if such stories just transferred to Jews the way urban legends often transfer to other settings and protagonists, because they have more emotional oomph for the teller.

It would be instructive to find out how many “Jewish atrocity” stories are indeed based off things that Muslim hate groups tend to do even today, and did with more frequency back in the days when they had a freer hand.

Of course, it’s even more likely that all these stories came from people with nasty, malicious minds projecting their own secret desires onto Jews; because Jews were a group of outsiders, who couldn’t defend themselves from such lies as well as their Christian neighbors could.

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The Thief-taking Nun Story Gets Even Cooler

Any story about nuns which includes words like “using tracking skills learned in her native jungle” and “baby deer” is just too cool not to be told in full. The Catholic Key is on the case.

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Facts I Didn’t Really Need to Know

The town where I grew up, and specifically the part of town where I grew up, has the most lightning strikes in the whole county. Fortunately, I did not grow up on the street with the most lightning strikes (which sustained two just this week), but it’s about a mile and a half from our house. The new apartment building that’s about a quarter mile away up the hill and on the other side of the highway got struck this week also.

Thank you, local weather reporters, for this comforting set of facts!

Of course, I knew we lived at a fairly high elevation, which is why we always got such awesome TV reception back in the day. But now I’m wondering if we have giant iron deposits under the plats, or something.

(Well, that’s a joke. We’re all limestone around here. But there’s dissolved iron on the limestone, which is why you get a lot of rust-color in well water.)

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Dracula 3: Path of the Dragon — Catholic Videogame?

There seem to be quite a few videogames coming out which rely heavily on Catholicism as a background. Apparently, this 2008 game is one of them. In fact, you play an Italian priest who’s the investigator of a Romanian sainthood cause, and who in the course of investigation runs into all this vampire and Dracula stuff.

Also, the game includes the entire text of the Latin Vulgate as a file for your reading pleasure, as well as Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.

Pop culture whiplash, eh? One minute they hate us, the next minute we’re videogame heroes.

Anyway, it seems it’s a pretty typical fun point-and-click adventure game with puzzles and pretty artwork and so forth. Made by Kheops Games, distributed by Microids (maker of Syberia, which was so Catholic in places as to require you to know vestment colors).

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Newt Gingrich: Just Another Ordinary Catholic Guy

There’s a pretty nasty piece of telepathic journalism in Time magazine this week, opining that Newt Gingrich didn’t really become Catholic because his wife is, or because he got Catholicism by osmosis by going to church with his wife all the time, or by hearing the music of the beautiful Basilica choir his wife is in, or that he was pushed over the tipping point by Benedict XVI’s crypt church Vespers challenge to the American bishops — for which he was present thanks to his wife. Nope, nothing to do with his wife. He just wanted to be in the Kool Katholic Konservative Klub.

And that’s why he goes to noon Mass every day, plus Mass every Sunday, plus all the other Basilica choir stuff. Not because of his wife. Nope. Not at all.

The other nasty bit is the insistence that because Newt doesn’t walk on water with a visible tongue of fire on his head, he must not really believe. What a nice thing to say to a new convert who’s still finding his feet.

Yes, we know his marital history was sinful. He’s repented. Yes, we know his current politics may not be as Catholic as they should be. Neither are those of most of us. The man says right out that he doesn’t feel he’s all that devout, which puts him head and shoulders above all the devout Catholic former altarboy anti-church folks that the press finds. At least he knows he’s not perfectly following the Lord and the Church; they don’t.

It’s true that he doesn’t seem visibly on fire, as many new converts are, but there are plenty of new converts who believe and love without having a call to get all demonstrative about it. The way you show you believe, in many cases, is just to show up. Newt Gingrich is showing up. He knows he’s not walking on water. He’s got the right attitude to let himself be transformed by Christ, a little more every day. He’s acting like an ordinary Catholic guy, frankly. You’d never guess he didn’t go to parochial school. Heck, most Catholic guys don’t go to Mass as often as he did before he converted, much less now. Am I really supposed to condemn him for high levels of Mass attendance? Am I supposed to be suspicious because he does better at that than me?

And there is no rule in Catholicism against reading books in church; especially when you’re there as early as that poor man must be there, to go to church with his wife when she’s singing. There he waits faithfully while she goes to the pre-Mass choir rehearsal, and all Time‘s reporter can do is mock him. Without revealing the multitude of the reporter’s no doubt meritorious and pious practices, and journalistic experience in feeding the five thousand with two goldfish and five hot dog buns.

Well, it’s nice to know that while Washington prepares to bring down our institutions and bring up our taxes to over 50%, Time has time to oppose a man going to church or converting to another religion. Truly, a great moment in journalism history.


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