Monthly Archives: March 2004


An Annunciation Hymn

Yet another song nobody but me will ever sing. Just to make things really special, I’ve once again written it to an Irish tune version which doesn’t seem to exist on the Web. Heigh-ho.

Ttto: “The Blackbird” (Irish version)

Oh, she was the white doe without a spot on her
And she was the lily in Eden might grow
But like any young girl she lived with her relations,
Till God told an angel, “To Mary now go.”

Said the angel, “Hail, Mary. You are highly favored,
And you’ll bear the messiah foretold in God’s plan.”
“Oh, how can this be?” she asked, although frightened.
“For I am a virgin and do not know man.”

“The Spirit of God will throw o’er you His shadow.
And if you should doubt that such marvels you’ll see,
Your cousin thought barren is with child now, Mary,
For with God there is nothing that can’t come to be.”

Then brave Mary told him, “I am the Lord’s servant.
Let it be done to me just as He may will.”
Then the angel departed, and God came to Mary;
The Word became flesh while her yes echoed still.

Oh, she is the white doe without a spot on her
And she is the lily in Eden might grow,
And she says, “Have no fear of the serpent and dragon;
Only listen to my son wherever you go.”

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Happy Medieval European New Year!

Yes, it’s Annunciation time once again, the feast that determined the date of Christmas. And yes, this was once the beginning of Europe’s year, until the Gregorian calendar came in. (The Saxons and Germans had to be different, and started the year on December 25.) Here’s a good page on the old Julian calendar.

The reason this was once considered the beginning of the church year is that Mary’s yes to God undid Eve’s no. Human history began again as the new Adam was conceived; the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, in Mary’s womb.

May we also give God our trust, cooperation and service.

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On Responding to Annoying New Liturgy Elements

Yesterday, Barbara Nicolosi posted some comments about the latest silliness propagated by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the charming fascist way her parish’s priests and ministers were promoting this bizarre interpretation of the GIRM regulations. I really did feel for her, particularly about the latter; and I’m so glad my archdiocese has actually followed the intent of the GIRM and not made me stand around. But I stand by my comments in Amy Welborn’s comment box: there is a lot to be said for just offering it up.

Sometimes we can and must act. Sometimes we cannot. But either way, we have an obligation not to brood about our wrongs. We are not supposed to tell over the beads of our Miseries, meditating on either the Crowning of Liturgists or the Slapping of the Ruler. Conservative and liberal whining is equally stupid. It does not produce progress or peace; it only gives us high blood pressure and a sense of other people’s sins.

(Also, moaning and poning about Latin has been going on all my life. I love languages and naturally felt sympathetic initially. If I can stay away from hearing people whine about it, I can remember how much I like Latin myself. But I think everything has already been said about five zillion times, so you’re not only giving yourself high blood pressure; you’re giving it to me! Whining alone has affected my sympathy for your cause.)

This is not to say that some people do not genuinely suffer at the hands of some other people in the Church. This is not to say that real abuses and even some sillinesses should not be fought; they should. But Catholics should always act in respect, courtesy, and love — sometimes tough love, sure. And before or after action, we need to give ourselves and our troubles to God, not give ourselves to our troubles. If those troubles are not so great and terrible as others’ are, we need to keep them in perspective. And then, we might just offer up our own suffering as a prayer for the relief of those who have it worse.

So don’t whine. Don’t dwell. Don’t get distracted. Offer it up!

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The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This is a wonderful movie about love and how people hurt each other, and all adults should see it. Some of the details of the romance are rather…problematic (and of course the main character live together — Hollywood believes that only sex after marriage is wrong). Still, the movie itself is so good, and has such a pro-life, pro-true love, pro-commitment message, that it seems churlish to punish the rest of the movie for not knowing any better. One could in fact argue that the living together bit is exactly what the target audience is doing, and therefore that anything else would be an unrealistic examination of the problems of modern romance.

Mostly, though, this is a movie about the problem of pain. If you could remove all unpleasant experiences from your brain, our society says that would be a good and healthy thing. This movie says we have to have risk and unpleasantness or live sterile, unloving lives. The same people who love us will at some point hurt us, and we aren’t going to be all that nice to them, either. Love is all about forgivemess, reparation, and trying again.

Mostly, though, this movie is amazingly fun, emotional, and interesting. Even the music is wonderful. I enjoyed it very much. Go see Jim Carrey submerge himself in the character of a normal guy, and Kate Winslet create an impulsive young woman you’ll like and never forget. This is science fiction for people who hate sf, and I don’t begrudge it them. Don’t keep reading this blog. Go!

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Who’s on Ninth?

Christopher Eccleston will play the Doctor on the new season of Doctor Who starting in 2005!

(Happy dance, happy dance) He’s back…and it really is about time!

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A Week of Joy

It’s past the halfway point of Lent this weekend. Yay! Also this week, we had St. Patrick’s Day (Lamh laidir!) and the feast of St. Joseph (we’re freed up from Friday fasting and abstinence, and nobody told me?!). It was a gala week.

But in Iran, it was more than that. The mullahcracy told Iranians they had to mourn, since this year the lunar mourning month of Moharram is now — despite the fact that Nou Ruz, the traditional Persian new year, is on the spring solstice. Also, they announced that Chahar Shanbe Soori, the pre-new year celebrations weren’t Islamic (which they’re not — they come down from the old Zoroastrian society and maybe before), and nobody should celebrate them. They said this to a populace already torqued off.

Chahar Shanbe Soori involves playing with fire. Jumping over bonfires, setting off firecrackers, all that sort of thing. And the mullahs tried to play with Chahar Shanbe Soori. Poor things. if the holiday’s been celebrated for more than two thousand years, and by members of every faith in Iran — and even by the Kurds! — Iranians are not going to give it up now.

So Wednesday was Chahar Shanbe Soori, and Friday was Nou Ruz, and the next two weeks are going to be one continual round of visits by Iranians to other Iranians. The whole thing wraps up with a picnic out in the country on the 13th day (Sizdeh Be-dar). The little grass sprouts folks have been growing (similar to the Adonis sprouts and “resurrection grass” used to celebrate Spring throughout the mideast from ancient times) get flung away, and bad luck and the old year are flung away with it. Unmarried women wish to bring a husband with them next year. (I really love all the Nou Ruz customs. Frankly, I think Americans are very likely to adopt at least a few — like Chahar Shanbe Soori! — because they’re fun.

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With Deepest Sympathy

I’m afraid that I forgot yesterday to blog about the bombing in Madrid. I’ve long known that ETA was a sick and disgusting group, but this was low even for them. They’ve tried it before; this time they succeeded. They are trying to disrupt Spain’s elections. But the people of Spain will not surrender democracy to terrorism, I know. They’ve fought too long and too hard this century to give up tamely. Let us all stand by Spain today and in the days to come.

May St. James the Greater (Santiago) intercede for the police and military seeking the evildoers. May St. Isidore of Madrid and St. Teresa of Avila pray for those seeking answers to such horror. May St. John of the Cross pray for those who suffer and need healing. May Our Lady pray for those who mourn. May the ten Madrid martyrs, also murdered in the name of politics, pray for all those who died, that they may come safely home to God. And may God, who knows all who were murdered and all the murderers, preserve freedom and bring both justice and healing to the noble and beautiful land of Spain. Amen.

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