Monthly Archives: March 2007

Warning: May Cause Brain Meltdown

“Black Monk” apparently does his rapping in Latin. From part of the Requiem Mass. But being a rap video, there are also (not liturgical) dancers, of course….

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Apparently, there are several groups running around in monk robes and trying to imitate Gregorian chant. Not just crazed early music groups, either; that weird Gregorian-Masters of Chant group that “chants” pop songs is apparently not just a joke, but a fairly famous group in Europe.

Not everybody wants to run off and join the circus, apparently; some of them want to run off and join the Benedictines.

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Attacking the Wrong Problem

This week we had a parish mission for four days. On the whole, it was well-planned and well-run, although any time we had to leave our pews to get stuff, there were serious logistics problems. Still, the mission speakers understood the critical principle that people like to get giveaway stuff, no matter how small, and the speakers were pretty good.

However, we also had the increasingly entertaining or disturbing spectacle of hearing a speaker inveigh against problems that don’t exist — or don’t exist widely — or don’t exist in the way described.

For example, last night we heard about how everybody had had thorough catechesis, but there was not enough evangelization. There was too much rules-based Christianity and not enough relationship-based.

Well, obviously I’m not against evangelization. More evangelization is definitely good! But how can we evangelize if we don’t know what we’re talking about?

I’ve been alive and a Catholic since the year this gentleman was ordained. I have a faithful and reasonably well-informed Catholic mother, I went to a good Catholic school in elementary, I went to CCD after that, I’ve been reading St. Anthony’s Messenger since I had the reading skill to do so, and I’ve gone to church pretty much every Sunday. But I’ve never received anything like thorough catechesis in anything. (Except maybe at that chant and polyphony workshop. I’m reasonably secure in the basics of sacred music. Unfortunately, this won’t exactly get me saved.) Despite extensive and constant reading of pretty much any Catholic book I could get my hands on — most of what I’ve learned, I’ve learned in the last five years. It’s an embarrassment that a big church in the richest nation in history can’t do better than this.

You know what I learned last month?

If you go to Confession and purposely don’t tell a mortal sin, your Confession is invalid.

I made my First Confession* the year after our nation’s Bicentennial, people! I’ve still got the workbook with the coloring book pages. Not a word about that is in it, I promise you.
I did have an idea — all my own logic, not from anything I was ever told — that withholding sins was kinda disrespectful and stupid, as contrary to the whole purpose of why you go. But making your Confession invalid? Leaving you with not just a mortal sin on your soul, but all your other sins too??

Whoa. So when were they planning on telling us that little wrinkle??

Another example: apparently, there is much concern in American theological circles that we peons are excessively interested in the tabernacle (the box itself, not the Person pitching his tent among us) to the point of idolatry. Well, I suppose there might be a few folks like this here and there, although not even my mother can remember running into anyone like this or even hearing of it happening. However, here in the mainstream of American Catholicism, there’s a constant problem with people not remembering, or not having any clue, that Jesus’ Real Presence is anywhere, even as they partake of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. I’ve also had to explain to another grown Catholic woman that the red sanctuary light doesn’t represent the presence of the Holy Spirit in church. (But why should she know? I didn’t learn that in school or CCD, or in any homily. I only know because Mom told me.) I also never had a clue why angels are prominent in art around altars, until two years ago. And so on.

Surely a little light catechesis and a liturgical procession would teach the tabernacle-idolaters the error of their ways — but who will teach the rest of us if they take the tabernacle away?

So yeah, you dang betcha I’ve got a personal relationship with God. He’s the only way I’ve been able to experience the Church. The church here in America mostly isn’t interested in teaching us more than vague unhelpful platitudes. He’s the only Person we can trust to stick with us and tell us the truth, all right.

Beyond that, I trust the popes. They talk straight to us. They give us catechisms and compendiums that actually inform of us of important stuff. They got rolling. They evangelize. They are in touch with reality, and the here and now. They know our problems.

This does not seem to be true of a good many of the American bishops. Maybe distance actually helps perspective, or maybe it’s just that geezers get too farsighted to see what’s right in front of them. 🙂 Still, I’m sure most of them mean well. We will muddle through together.

But… it would be nice not to have to muddle through even the most basic basics, you know?

* They wanted us to call it Penance, but nobody did. We already knew that nobody would understand what we were talking about, and that it wasn’t worth remembering new names because they always changed. And sure enough, soon we were told to start calling it Reconciliation. But we still have to call it Confession if we want anybody to understand what we’re talking about. 🙂


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Top Ten Signs You’ve Succumbed to Motu-Mania

Catholics throughout the blogosphere are waiting, eagerly or worriedly, for the release of a new motu proprio widening permission for the use of the Tridentine version of the Mass. But some have been driven crazy by the usual Roman and Vatican customs of spreading lots of rumors, but refusing to announce definite dates for documents to be released.

So from our home office at St. Expeditus Speedway, here are the top ten signs that you’ve succumbed to motu-mania:

10. Your browser’s homepage is now the news page at The one in Italian.

9. You’ve received oxygen treatment three times this week, because you keep holding your breath waiting for the motu proprio to come out.

8. You leave your computer on all night, with that page up. Just in case.

7. During meetings at work, you doodle complicated allegorical pictures involving the Holy Spirit, eucharistic messenger angels, and scantily clad women labeled Una, Sancta, Apostolica, and Ecclesia who are feeding treats to St. Corbinian’s bear.

6. You have written code that makes your browser refresh that page every five minutes.

5. Your local newspaper cites your blog in a story about the Latin Mass, even though it has no idea you live in the area.

4. You decide that five minutes is too long, and soon your browser is a denial of service attack all by itself.

3. You have a nasty ailment, and decide to wait and apply a printout of the motu proprio instead of trying your aunt’s Lourdes water.

2. Rocco calls to warn you that the Vatican’s webmistress has sent over the Swiss Ninja Death Guard to yank out your modem.

And the number one sign you’ve succumbed to motu-mania?

1. “Yes, you’ve reached ze Pope. How did you get zis number? Only ze Sviss Ninja Death Guard has it.”


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In Re: All That St. Kyle Stuff

The guy in my parish’s RCIA who was named Kyle (and really wanted to use that as his Christian/confirmation name, since he was named after somebody who took a bullet for his dad) is going to be allowed to use that. So you see that I don’t always do this stuff out of sheer language nerdiness….

To be honest, I think that as important as it is to say NO! to stuff that’s wrong, it’s just as important to say YES! to stuff that’s permitted and not totally stupid. (It would be stupid to take the name “Lucifer”, even though there are saints named Lucifer since Romans named kids after the morning/evening star. It goes under the “Sheesh, don’t name your kid Adolf” rule. There are equivalent rules for other realms of human endeavor, too.)

Things that are permissible and part of Christian tradition, or things that could become so, are a sort of holy farmland. It’s okay to leave stuff fallow, but it’s also a good idea to get in there and use what we’ve got. If Kyle was the holy name of hardworking though near-forgotten saints, then bring it out and recall those saints to our minds! If you really want to name your kid Ashley, make sure she gets a holy card of the English martyrs, and knows that she has a holy name, too! Give people a nice solid place to stand, with their namesakes in the Communion of Saints always beside them. But don’t surrender to the world any of the territory that’s really ours, especially through sheer forgetfulness.

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Prayer Request

One of my coworkers is feeling very lost and despairing right now. Please, if you would, pray for his guidance, hope, and consolation. He’s been walking through a very dark night.

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Aw, Man, Now I’m Jealous!

The blogmistress of Winds of Westernesse got to shake hands with the Pope.

Furshloggin Numenorean mental powers…. *sulk* *envy*

Unfortunately, as this Pontiff is not currently using the title, it would be wrong to make jokes like “Patriarch of the West, I bid thee hand!”

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Soda Bread Results

The first loaf… well, it tasted good, but it was in the oven a little too long. Crispy around the edges, if you get my meaning. Also, the dough wasn’t completely mixed with the milk, which isn’t a very good thing.

The second loaf was perfect — but it fell when I took it to work before it was perfectly cool. Very sad.

Both loaves tasted very good. (Well, except for the bits of the first loaf where the soda wasn’t mixed in well enough. Raw soda = not good.)

The most serious problem was actually post-baking. I succumbed to the temptation to lick the bowl, thinking it safe because there were no eggs in it. This is not a good idea with soda dough.  Why? Because acid plus baking soda (a base) is what makes soda dough rise. Your stomach is a lot more acidic than whatever acid you put in the dough.

Simethicone is your friend. Remember that if you eat soda dough.

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Irish Bread for St. Patrick’s Day

Diane Duane (darned good sf/fantasy writer) provides us with both her husband’s mum’s recipe for making soda bread and four great YouTube videos showing us how it’s done. The first two show you how to make soda bread loaves in the oven (“cake”) and the second pair show you how to cook triangular quarter-loaves (“farls”) in a frying pan (with bonus instruction on how to make Really Hot Tea).

It inspired me enough to be making soda bread tomorrow morning for our food day at work. It’s been a long time since I made soda bread, and I think this time will be more successful.

(And you thought I was kidding when I said we always have food days on Fridays in Lent! I bet people bring lots of meat dishes again…. Ah, well, they’re helping me mortify my belly.) 🙂

If you’ve got any mashed potato leftovers sitting around and you’re not making potato pancakes, you could cook farls of potato bread instead.

This cute little family video is mostly audio of an ol’ Irish guy talking about soda bread with fruit in it for tea. But if you listen all the way to the end, you’ll hear a snatch of some very fine mouth music. Other videos by the same contributor feature the tale of an Irish wake and other interesting things.

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St. Kyle?

My clue here was the placename “Kyles”, meaning “straits” or “narrows”. The Kyles of Ra, the Kyles of Bute, and Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye are all Anglicizations of “caolas”, strait or narrows. The word derives, logically enough, from “caol”, narrow, slender, slim, thin. And for various reasons, your conveniently differentiated “ao” in Scottish Gaelic or modern Irish is usually spelled “ae” in early Irish. So “caol” is exactly the same word as “cael” — just a little different pronunciation.*

For the period between the Middle Ages and the last fifty years or so, Kyle was best known as the name of a small Scottish family mostly found in North Lanarkshire, who apparently originally hailed from a small Scottish barony in Ayrshire, a bit further west. Kyle was a property of the Stuarts, so presently its lairdship is held by the Prince of Wales. Kyle was apparently named for the River Kyle, which is indeed a narrow one. However, tradition also indicates a link to Coel Hen (Coel the Old, probably the source of the Old King Cole legend), one of the old Welsh kings of Northern England and southern bits of Scotland. Coel was the father of St. Ceneu (or Kenneth) ap Coel. (Like many Welsh king saints, he seems to be regarded as a saints for his defense of his country against pagan enemies, like the Saxon and Irish pirates.) Coel is said to have died in Coilsfield, Tarbolton, Ayrshire, and been buried in the church at Coylton about AD 420.

But Caol or Cael by itself was a pretty common unisex name in early Ireland. There was a St. Cael who was one of the four daughters of Mac Iaar whose feast was celebrated on October 26. St. Caol the Devout (Coelius in Latin, thus a guy) was listed in one of the martyrologies, and there was St. Caila or Caelius on Nov. 10.

Caol and Cael were also extremely common bynames for Irish and Scottish people. (A byname or nickname is how you distinguish one Sean from another. Sean Cael would be Thin Sean, Sean Mor is Big Sean, Sean Beg is Little Sean, Sean Dubh is Darkhaired Sean, etc.)

So it’s not surprising that saints have this byname. St. Conall Caol was a monk. He lived in Donegal on Inishkeel (Inis Chaol – Thin Island) which was apparently named after him, though it might just be a bad pun. One of his friends was St. Dallan Forgaill, the poet turned monk who composed “Amra Choluim Cille”. Through a twist of fate that made Dallan’s long-expressed wish come true, the two were buried in one grave. St. Conall Caol was also connected in legend with the Sunday Law, which he was supposed to have fetched from Rome. We don’t know why this legendary connection is made, since he apparently had nothing historically to do with the Sunday Law’s appearance, but maybe he promoted it. The British Museum has St. Conall Caol’s Bell, which once resided at his shrine. However, the “turas” or “station” pilgrimages still go on today on Inishkeel.

(There’s also St. Cruimther Caol, a guy apparently associated with St. Enda. His feast is May 25.)

However, there are also given names derived from “cael”. I don’t know any saints named “Cailte” or “Caolfhionn”. There’s a female St. Caellain or Caeilfhionn from Kilkeevin, who was the patron saint of the Ciarraidhe of Connaught. However, there are at least two male saints named “thin one” — St. Caelan, of Iniscealtra on the Shannon, and St. Caolan***, of County Down. St. Caolan lived in the early part of the sixth century. (He may have been born late in the 5th century, like his brother, St. Donard.) His brother was one of St. Patrick’s disciples. St. Caelan was a monk who lived in the first half of the eighth century. He is known to us as the composer of a life of St. Brigid in Latin hexameters. His feast was July 29.
Other Caelans included: St. Caelan of Cilleo, June 30; St. Caelan of Doire or Doire-Chaolain, June 19; St. Caelan of Echinis, Sept. 25; and St. Caelan of Tigh-na-manach, Oct. 29.**

So I think you Kyles out there are totally covered on the saint’s name front.

“Kylie” is a more difficult name, as Kylie Minogue was notoriously given an Australian aboriginal name. (Possibly meaning “boomerang”.) However, if you wish to interpret Kylie as a diminutive of Kyle, you also have all the Caels and Caelans to choose from.

* The problem with an old language is that the sounds of it can be very different, depending on where it’s being spoken. Take the name “Sean”, for example. Originally, both vowels would have gotten full value, and it would have been pronounced something like “shay-on”. In the south and west of Ireland today, they ignore the “e” sound and just say “shawn”. In the north and east of Ireland, or in Scotland, the “a” gets ignored instead and it’s pronounced “shane”.

Not surprisingly, the same thing happened with cael/caol. The usual Irish pronunciation is apparently “keel” or “kweel”. The usual Scottish pronunciation is… um… well, you can try saying “cool” in a much tighter way. Or you can say a short “a” as in the American pronunciation of “cat”, and add an “o”… or…

Well, you can understand how that kind of weird sound got anglicized to Kyle.

** The vast majority of these guys (and gals) were located by searching and finding Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature by John McClintock. The Martyrology of Donegal by Michael O’Clery also includes them, with some more info.

*** “caolan” apparently can also mean “the small intestine”, because the gut was supposed to be “the narrowest thing in the body” according to the Yellow Book of Lecan. (So says The Games and Diversions of Argyleshire, by Robert Craig Maclagan.)


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Found Hymnody

Hey, if you can have “found poetry”, you can have found hymnody, too.

From Sacrosanctum concilium 48, via From the Anchor Hold:

The Church, therefore, is very concerned

that the Christian faithful
be present
at this mystery of faith

not as outsiders
or mute spectators,
but that, understanding the mystery

through the rites and prayers,
they take part in the sacred action

and actively,

that they be instructed
by the word of God,

that they be nourished
at the table of the Lord’s Body,

that they give thanks to God,

that, offering the immaculate host
not only through the priest but with him,
they may learn to offer themselves,

and that, through Christ
the Mediator,
they may be drawn day after day

into more perfect union
with God and with one another,
so that in the end

God may be all in all.

It’s a wonderful mystical vision of the great importance and sacredness of every part of the Mass, and of the people of God offering up themselves to Him, joining their little sacrifices to Jesus’ great one and thus becoming more fully His Body. No meal if there’s no sacrifice, and His re-presented sacrifice must become ours.

It’s not “yay, we’re so holy and cool that God has to love us!” or “Jesus isn’t any more present in the Eucharist than anything else”. Yes, you can see how some people could take it that way. But then, we see every day on the Internet that reading comprehension assumes some desire to understand what was written.

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Dormant Blog

I was sorry to see that Dermatology Diary has gone dormant. It’s a site I visited every now and again, because the short musings of an experienced old Abilene doctor are interesting and enlightening.

The stuff about nurse practitioners was particularly cogent. I went to a dermatology doctor that had those, and I’m never going to do that again. They don’t act like real doctors — they don’t look you over and ask you questions, and then figure out what’s wrong. No, you’re supposed to come up with symptoms, and heaven help you if there’s more than the magic insurance number of three. Never mind that all the “conditions” you could name might all be one condition! Don’t even consider the fact that a lot of people nervously or unknowingly save the worst for last! No, if it’s more than three, they don’t want to know.

Also, if you go to see a specialist doctor and pay specialist doctor prices, but only see a nurse practitioner, they ought to lop at least 50-75% off your bill. Heck, you could have just stayed home and searched around on the Web.

The scariest bit was after they sent somebody in to do minor surgery on my yucky bit of skin. I thought she was a doctor, but it turned out afterwards she was another nurse practitioner! Holy crud! Oh, yeah, and they never were real sure what it was, but they still sent me a bill.

I did some research on the Internet that _was_ better than that.

The sad thing is that, when you’re sick or scared that you are, you’re not in the best position to object, or even think of objecting. You do what they tell you to do, trusting that they’ll make you feel better, and then you find yourself at the desk paying and wrangling with the insurance, and then they let you go out the door thankful to be done with the insurance… and suddenly you realize you didn’t get what you wanted and needed, but it’s too late.

Which is why you should take someone with you. Preferably someone who asks obnoxious questions, like “When do we see the real doctor?” 🙂

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Overheard at the Wal-Mart

Two great opening lines for stories, which I actually heard today.

“Any member of management, please report to the trash compactor! Any manager, please report to the grocery-side compactor!”

“That woman who’ll do your tattoos for free — what do you call it when you’re working on getting a license? — she’s an apprentice, yeah.”

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Space Vulture and Space Hawk

Our friends over at Cosmos~Liturgy~Sex dug up an article from the Tuscaloosa News telling the whole story of the collaboration of Gary K. Wolf (of Who Censored Roger Rabbit? fame) with his childhood friend, Archbishop Myer of Newark. (Here’s another, fuller article about the remake and collaboration from the Boston Globe.) It seems that their new sf adventure novel, Space Vulture, soon to be published by Tom Doherty Associates (the TOR people), is actually a remake of their favorite book as kids, Space Hawk.

(I was afraid this was some sort of veiled Andre Norton reference, but that book was Shadow Hawk.)

I’ve never come across Space Hawk: The Greatest of Interplanetary Adventurers, written by Harry Bates under the pseudonym “Anthony Gilmore”. It came out in hardback in 1952 — highly unusual for the day — with illustrations by Nettie Weber — which argues that it was aimed at the school library demographic. But I deduce this to have been a novelized reprint of his fourth short story publication, “Hawk Carse” (1931), his seventh, “The Bluff of the Hawk” (1932), and his twentieth, “The Return of the Hawk” (1942). All three apparently appeared in Astounding Stories, and all three were co-written with Desmond W. Hall under the pseudonym “Anthony Gilmore”.

It seems a bit harsh to judge a couple of stories from the top of the 1930’s as harshly as the adult Wolf and Myers do. Astounding Stories in 1931 and 1932 was a pulp magazine, not the Astounding Stories of the Campbell years. (Heck, in 1930 it was still called Astounding Stories of Super-Science.) And yet, when Campbell was firmly editor in 1942 and concerned with making his wartime readership happy with quality stories, he apparently asked Bates and Hall to write a third story for the series. So the Hawk stories can’t be as bad as all that.

Or can they? (A 2004 comment by Wolf on Space Hawk.) Apparently the true problem is the other problem with stories written in the thirties — the sins of other days, only evident to us because the consensus has changed. Our unconsidered sins will, of course, be equally sordid and disgusting to people from the future, but we don’t like to think about that.

Finally, I’d like to remind folks that Harry Bates himself is perhaps best known for a story written solo under his own name that is a true classic of science fiction: “Farewell to the Master”. The original version of that came out in 1940.

“So That’s Who Anthony Gilmore Is?”: An old fanzine article from Spaceways (edited by Harry Warner) about the identity of “Anthony Gilmore”. The secret was apparently hotly debated back in the day.

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Nose-Clearing Potion of Dooooom (+1 vs. Sinus Infection)

Make a cup of lemon ginger tea.

(I use Stash Tea. Beats the religious cult company any day.)

Add a pleasing amount of whisky or whiskey.

(At the moment, I have Speyburn, a single malt from Scotland. But any decent whisky or whiskey should do.)

Add a good sprinkling of turmeric and cardamom. (If you have cardamom-flavored Horlick’s malt for malted milk, that’s very tasty indeed.)

Add honey. (Add milk if you like; that’d probably be tasty.)

Stir. Drink. Rediscover your nasal passages. The effects last about an hour to an hour and a half.

Just don’t try to drive anywhere.

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