Monthly Archives: May 2005


Interesting Catholic poetry site

The good news is that Tiempo de Poesia has lots of Catholic poetry. The bad news is it’s all in Spanish! Hee!

However, there’s also a very useful section called Marian Spain, which consists of pictures of all the famous Mary statues from cities in Spain and its former colonies. If you’ve ever wondered why a girl was named Candelaria, Pilar, Luz, Soledad, or Montserrat, this is a good resource for you. Once you know the name to look for, you can Google up the various famous churches and stories for yourself.

La Divina Peregrina is pretty neat. Check our Our Lady’s pilgrim scrip, hat with a Compostela cockleshell, and walking stick with water gourd attached.

One thing you’ll notice is the huge robes and decorations worn by many of these statues. These often cover up almost entirely the original statues, many of which date back to medieval or even Gothic times. The difference between the statue with and without robes can be substantial! Dressing the statue every year is often an occasion for a big city-wide festival.

This picture of Our Lady of the Abandoned shows the beautiful faces of mother and Child. Unfortunately, you can’t see the two “Desamparados”, abandoned children, who are kneeling at Mary’s feet inside the protective circle of her robes. Here’s what the statue looks like without robes.

Here’s a Desamparats float for Valencia’s festival! And here’s the float right outside Valencia’s cathedral. (Beautiful window, huh?)

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St. Patrick’s Purgatory

Now here’s some authentic Celtic spirituality for ya! St. Patrick’s Purgatory, where you get to pray and repent for a night and a day while walking barefoot for hours on cold hard stones, doing a near-total fast, and trying desperately to stay awake while standing around underground on a chilly damp stone floor. Sometimes all weekend. Yes, it’s St. Patrick’s Purgatory! And here’s some cheery Celtic thoughts by a medieval pilgrim. Clearly a hard case. I know I’d’ve been crying from sheer tiredness and hunger, but the medievals were stronger stuff….

If you scroll down, Chamber’s Book of Days gives a fairly good (if hostile) account of the history of the pilgrimage, along with a description of conditions there in his time.

But why read about the legend of the island? Read Sir Owain, a medieval English verse romance on the theme! Starring St. Patrick, of course, but introducing Sir Owain, a repentant knight who has a vision of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.

Here’s a little slice of Hell for all us bloggers!

And sum in forneise wern ydon,
And some in a furnace were put in
With molten ledde and quic brunston
With molten lead and acid brimstone
Boiland above the fer,
Boiling above the fire;
And sum bi the tong hing,
And some by the tongue hanging;
“Allas!” was ever her brocking,
“Alas!” was ever their crying,
And no nother preiere.
And no other prayer.

And sum on grediris layen there,
And some were on the gridiron laying there
Al glowand ogains the fer,
All glowing against the fire
That Owain wele yknewe,
Whom Owain well knew:
That whilom were of his queyntaunce,
Who once were of his acquaintance
That suffred ther her penaunce:
Who suffered there their penance:
Tho chaunged al his hewe!
Those made his face change hue!

And tho that henge bi the tong,
And those that hung by the tongue
That “Allas!” ever song,
Who “Alas!” ever sung
And so loude crid,
And so loudly cried —
That wer bacbiters in her live:
Those were backbiters in their lives.
Bewar therbi, man and wive,
Thereby beware, man and woman,
That lef beth for to chide.
Who are lief to chide.

We also get the bridge to Paradise, which works perfectly fine with modern spelling.

The bridge was as high as a tower,
And as sharp as a razor,
And narrow it was also;
And the water that there ran under
Burned with lightning and with thunder.
Those he thought mickle woe.

But he gets across and sees the gate into Eden:

Furthermore he ‘gan to see
A gate, none fairer might be
In this world a-wrought;
Tree nor steel was thereon none,
But red gold and precious stone,
And all God made of nought:

Jaspers, topaz, and crystal,
Marguerites and coral,
And rich sapphire-stones,
Rubies and celadones,
Onyxes and chalcedones,
And diamonds for the nones.

By as much as our Savior
Is quainter than goldsmith or painter,
That lives in any land,
So far the gates of Paradise
Are richer wrought, I truly know,
As you may understand.

There’s a lot more nifty stuff here. Enjoy.

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Night Watch Newswatch

Fox Searchlight’s Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor) website put additional content up last week and a game called The Hunt up over the weekend. The attention seems to have killed their server tonight, so try this URL instead.

On Sunday, I tried to join as a “Light Other”, but ended up as a Witch of the Dark. (Which is only slightly less annoying than being a Vampire. I console myself with the thought that I’m really a Ved’ma and not your ordinary witch.)

It’s a fairly simplistic game at the moment. I amassed a ton of points in a very short time (650 or so), mostly by exploring the website and cursing Light players. You have to get 500 points as a Light player and 750 points as a Dark player to become members of your respective Watches. Until then, you can lose points by being cursed or bitten (if you’re of the Light) or arrested (if you’re of the Dark), so it doesn’t behoove you to spend much time logged on in the game. Everyone can earn points from the website, from posting in the forum, or from getting their friends to sign up. You have to have at least 1000 points to be eligible for the prize drawing in August, and IIRC, you need 10,000 points to be eligible for the grand prize of a trip to Russia. So it’s pretty much the marketing version of a pyramid scheme; but at least it’s a fun pyramid scheme.

If you’d like to see the trailer for Nochnoi Dozor 2, it’s on

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Filk: Chant in Latin

Chant in Latin
Words: Maureen S. O’Brien, 5/9/05
Music: to the tune of “Black Widows in the Privy”, Heather Rose Jones

Everyone knows some hymn
we’d be better off without;
We’d best not say what’s lame.
OCP might be about.
But why commit your budget,
and risk your range’s strain,
When a little chant in Latin
is all public domain?

There’s chant CDs, and chant bands,
and ads chant on TV.
A Cath’lic church ‘sthe only place
where chant you seldom see.
But since the zeitgeist’s dumped those
old folk and Broadway songs,
Why not try chant in Latin,
that’s lasted for so long?

Yeah, Huron’s good, and Spanish;
Hawaiian is the best.
It’s only Greek and Latin
that diversity won’t test.
But when your parish speaks tongues
as many as attend,
You all could chant in Latin,
and no group you’ll offend.

So if you want to praise our God
in songs like liquid light,
Go learn the style of worship that’s
your heritage and right.
The repertoire is meaty
and deeper than a well;
And a little chant in Latin
says more than I can tell.

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Crazy Like a Fox

Imagine my surprise when I poked my head onto the Harper-Collins site looking for the new Bujold sample chapter and instead found an Isabel Allende novel about Zorro.

Let’s repeat that, and look at it again. Isabel Allende. Wrote. A novel. About Zorro. And yes, she is doing under the McCulley license So we absolutely will not make any comments about daughters of evil local dictators who fall hopelessly in love with the masked man who fights for justice, even if that was also the plot of the 1940 Mark of Zorro (Tyrone Powers).

Btw, the trailer came out this weekend for the Antonio Banderas/Catherine Zeta Jones sequel The Legend of Zorro. We get to see Zorro married with children. (Which of course owes nothing at all to Spy Kids and The Incredibles insisting that parents are their kids’ heroes, in many ways…What a nice new geektrend!)

Also btw, the new Zorro comic is also coming out this month. It certainly looks nice, and the plot of the first issue seems rather unique: Zorro and girlfriend have been fleeing soldiers for a month!

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SONG: Heaven’s Come to Earth

I’ve been rereading Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a book about the Mass and its relationship to the Book of Revelation (among other things), and how the Mass is supposed to sorta prefigure Heaven and sorta be the Kingdom itself. (Sorta being the technical term. Yup, I are a theologiogiogian!)

Anyway, this is what I’ve got.

Heaven’s Come to Earth
Words: Maureen S. O’Brien, 5/1/05
Music: “A Ei Di’r Deryn Du?” (Blackbird, Will You Go?), Welsh trad.

God Who dwells on high
Still makes this house His own,
Takes us to be His saints,
And makes our hands His throne.

Heaven’s come to Earth;
Earth samples Heaven’s feast.
Christ is the Lamb we share,
And Christ is our High Priest.

Bow before the Lamb,
The Shepherd, the Gate of the fold —
I AM, who sent the ram
To Abraham of old.

Remade as His flesh,
In Him, His Church is one:
Both we still on the quest,
And those whose wand’ring’s done.

With the angels, sing
For Him forever. Praise
Him for Eternity
Drawn into all our days.

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The Spoiler Reception

I really really liked Eoin Colfer’s latest Artemis Fowl book, The Opal Deception. And I’m really really unhappy that kids writing Amazon reviews once again spoiled one of the major surprises of the book for me.

Sheesh, kids. Y’all are blabbermouths. Whatever happened to “That’s for me to know and for you to find out!”, huh?

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Vigueur de Dessus

This seems like a good time to quote one of the O’Brien mottos. I missed it back in December, but seems one of my clan cousins over in Scotland decided to say a few words and caused a little ruckus. Oh, how shocking that a Catholic archbishop would condemn behavior his religion says is a sin, or that he would attempt to call sinners to amend their lives! From the Sunday Herald via The Curt Jester:

Scottish parliament bosses have banned ministers and priests from addressing MSPs unless they refrain from attacking homosexuals and other minorities…The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland had used his short speech last December to claim that gays and lesbians were “captives to sexual aberration”.He also compared non-heterosexuals to prisoners in Edinburgh�s Saughton jail who were waiting to be “set free”.

Hey, you forgot your scare quotes. That’s ‘refrain from “attacking” “homosexuals” and other “minorities” like liars, shoplifters, people who dump chemicals in streams, and totalitarian dictators. You know, sinners. But I’m glad to learn that sinners are such a minority of today’s Scots.

No doubt politicians are worried that people who condemn sin today will start wondering where all the VAT taxes go tomorrow. I guess you shouldn’t ask for people to offer their thoughts if you don’t want them to give them to you!

I wonder how his critics square Cardinal O’Brien “attacking” with Cardinal O’Brien’s more recent run-in with critics, in which he told his archdiocese’s schools that they were not to use background checks to find out if teachers were gay, much less fire them for such a reason. God forbid somebody should do something to demonstrate that the Church views homosexual acts not as something you can’t help, but as the result of falling for temptation — just like shoplifting, cheating on taxes, dumping chemicals in streams, and being a totalitarian dictator. You know. Sinning.

Anyway, my clan cousin the Cardinal is apparently not particularly shy, seeing as he says his aim is no less than to re-Christianize Scotland. Lamh laidir an Uachtar!

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St. Athanasius

As it happens, I am not a theologian nor do I play one on the Internet. There are plenty of other people willing to boldly tread where no angel has tread before (much less danced). But there are some bits o’ theology which really do have a lot of interest and mystical significance to them, as well as the kind of “sense of wonder” bogglement usually only found in good science fiction.

The facts you need to know about St. Athanasius are not many. He only saved Christianity from the Arian idea that Christ was only an extra-super-special man or minor god who was related to God, but not God Himself.

A brief and non-technical explanation of what Athanasius had to do.

From a nice Anglican biography page, a quote from Athanasius:

We were made “in the image and likeness of God.” But in course of time that image has become obscured, like a face on a very old portrait, dimmed with dust and dirt.

When a portrait is spoiled, the only way to renew it is for the subject to come back to the studio and sit for the artist all over again. That is why Christ came–to make it possible for the divine image in man to be recreated. We were made in God’s likeness; we are remade in the likeness of his Son.

To bring about this re-creation, Christ still comes to men and lives among them. In a special way he comes to his Church, his Body, to show us what the “image of God” is really like.

What a responsibility the Church has, to be Christ’s Body, showing him to those who are unwilling or unable to see him in Providence, or in Creation! Through the Word of God lived out in the Body of Christ they can come to the Father, and themselves be made again “in the likeness of God.”

Of course, it’s a tad bit ironic that Anglicans quote St. “I hate schisms and heresies and if you were wise you’d come back to the Catholic Church” Athanasius. But I’ll just be glad they still read Mother Church’s letters. Even if they never call and never write. 🙂


What kills me is how very modern he often sounds. He lived in a modern and diverse society, though, so it’s not so weird. He’d be right at home in the blogosphere. From World of Quotes:

A man’s personality actuates and quickens his whole body. If anyone said it was unsuitable for the man’s power to be in the toe, he would be thought silly, because, while granting that a man penetrates and actuates the whole of his body, he denied his presence in the part. Similarly, no one who admits the presence of the Word of God in the universe as a whole should think it unsuitable for a single human body to be by Him actuated and enlightened.

And also from there:

Human and human-minded as men were, therefore, to whichever side they looked in the sensible world, they found themselves taught the truth. Were they awe-stricken by creation? They beheld it confessing Christ as Lord. Did their minds tend to regard men as gods? The uniqueness of the Savior’s works marked Him, alone of men, as Son of God. Were they drawn to evil spirits? They saw them driven out by the Lord, and learned that the Word of God alone was God and that the evil spirits were not gods at all. Were they inclined to hero-worship and the cult of the dead? Then the fact that the Savior had risen from the dead showed them how false these other deities were, and that the Word of the Father is the one true Lord, the Lord even of death. For this reason was He both born and manifested as Man, for this He died and rose, in order that, eclipsing by His works all other human deeds, He might recall man from all the paths of error to know the Father. As He says Himself, “I came to seek and to save that which was lost.”

All these quotes are fine. But I said there was one that was boggling. Here it is:

For the Son of God became man
so that we might become God.

Don’t freak too much, though! This is what Athanasius meant by it, so don’t go all Mormon or Gnostic, now. Athanasius would have to come after you and show you the error of your thoughts! (Especially since you’ll notice that Mormons and Gnostics have absolutely no problem ignoring everything else that Athanasius wrote about.)

Oddly enough, considering it’s May Day, I just came across this rather interesting article on Mary which refers to the idea that, if Mary is the model of a Christian, “her triumph is not so much unique as typical. Seen in this light the Assumption can be interpreted as having relevance to the most mundane and secular aspects of history, challenging accepted ideas about the value of the human person and the dignity of the human body.”

Stuff by St. Athanasius:
The Life of St. Antony (whom he knew)
Athanasius’ Works

And remember, when Athanasius argued that Christ was God, his foes said, “The world is against you, Athanasius!” But Athanasius said, “If the world is against Athanasius, then Athanasius is against the world.”

(Which, believe it or not, has become a slogan for our times, especially among non-Catholic pro-lifers.)

St. Athanasius, pray for us.

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When Religion Is Your Fandom

I realize that I’ve been one of the more hyper parishioners of St. Blog’s lately. Exciting Catholic stuff has been happening: canonization by populace! secret Conclave! new Pope! Meanwhile, I was able (thanks to the miracle of cable television and being home sick as a dog) to watch hour upon hour of Catholic pageantry and punditry while simultaneously being fed even more information and commentary on the Web. Meanwhile, oh glorious day, the new Pope has been thoughtful and challenging and ooh, oh so cutely bookish! Heady stuff.

The problem is: where does the joy of unified worship of God end and mere fannish enthusiasm begin? Can I keep my joy without becoming embarrassing or turning the culture of the Church into my idol in both senses?

As usual, the test and the corrective action is the same: I have to turn my mind toward Christ, and Him crucified. The pageantry didn’t happen to fall on Passover’s first day; Providence meant us to remember that all this pageantry is to help one of His servants and inspire the rest of us — inspire us not to serve Peter’s Heir (though that would be helpful), but to serve the Paschal Lamb of the Upper Room.

The sobering thing about all the little providential signs (real or imagined) that surrounded this last month is that God doesn’t send signs to say “Good job! Kick back and have a brewski on me!” No, people start seeing signs when the water is getting rough and the skies are turning strange colors. The next few years are not going to be pretty. We are killing the weak and allowing the strong to do whatever they want. We are playing around with genes just because we can, and not putting a great deal of thought into the whys and hows. The craziest sort of Islam is still on the march, and still looking to kill schools full of children and skyscrapers full of infidel souls. The religions and people who stand up and stand in the way of fanatics, hedonists and amoralists are going to get well acquainted with the crazy rage which is in the air. But God is with us, and God will be our strength.

This is not something that any fandom’s Powers That Be can do.

So, having said all this, should I point out that today’s 2nd reading was clearly aimed at the denizens of St. Blog’s and the Christian blogosphere?

Simply reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience, so that those who slander you when you are living a good life in Christ may be proved wrong in the accusations that they bring. And if it is the will of God that you should suffer, it is better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong.

Why, Christ himself, innocent though He was, died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body He was put to death; in the spirit He was raised to life. (1 Peter 3:15 – 18)


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MayDay! MayDay!

Today is a glorious day. You have the right to ring doorbells and run, provided you leave flowers. You have the right to laugh at Communism as it lies twitching on the bonepile of history. (Though unfortunately there are a lot of bones in that bonepile, too.)

It’s also the beginning of Mary’s month. Time for the May crowning. Time to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, too, who having finished her many of her objectives (I did mention that Communism’s on the bonepile of history?) is still working on us to repent our sins and follow Her Son. (For all you X-Files fans, notice the 10/13.) 😉

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Weirdest Appropriate Marian Reference

I saw this tonight on the Ghost in the Shell series. Not to give any spoilers, but at one point, when a robot is about to be destroyed, there’s a statue of Mary looking down on the scene. The robot hears a female voice praising it. The voice isn’t Mary’s, as it happens, but it is the voice of a sort of mother figure. It’s an odd reference, but it worked for me.

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