Monthly Archives: June 2009

Good Dog, Bad Dog.

Well, I went over to visit the folks for Father’s Day, and it was pretty fun. But as fate would have it, the big stories of the day had to do with my parents’ dog.

I went out to walk the dog just before noon. I was rather startled to find a raccoon out in broad daylight in the middle of the neighbors’ yard. I yelled at the raccoon, and eventually it unfroze and fled. The dog remembered her manners the whole time, watching and waiting to do whatever I said. Good dog!

In the early evening, my mother set the dining room table for dinner (since my younger brother was coming over and it was a holiday), and then arranged things to keep the dog away from the table. Then she went outside to take a look at the garden out front. I also went outside to keep her company, then went in after a little while. I was surprised to see that the dog had stopped watching Mom out the window, but figured she’d gone back to sit with Dad.

Then I heard a little, little sound. What was it? It was out in the dining room….

You have not lived until you have seen an Irish wolfhound snout-deep in a bowl of artichoke hearts.

Bad dog.

So of course I hurried over, informed her that she was bad, grabbed her collar, marched her into the family room, and shut her in. Then I went and looked at the table. Not only had she been in the process of eating the artichoke hearts, she had already eaten two bowls of fruit salad. (Except for what she’d slopped all over the tablecloth in her enthusiasm.) Furthermore, she’d gotten into the kitchen and eaten two pieces of garlic bread, even though they were sitting fairly far back on the counter.

It must have a very busy five minutes, but she’s very quick.

Needless to say, we had to make some adjustments to dinner. Like cleaning the table, finding new utensils and bowls to replace the slobbered ones, laying out a new tablecloth while soaking the fruit and artichoke stains out of the old one…. Oh, well. Welcome to family life.


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Lipton Brisk Sparkling Green “Tea”

Lipton teabags are… aeh, nothing to write home about. Just tea.

Lipton Brisk soft drink “ice teas” are nasty, chemical-tasting, acidic things. I’m sure they do have tea content somewhere, but that doesn’t matter. They taste like anything but unsweetened tea, or sweet tea, or tea with lemon, or anything else their labels say.

They have recently added to their line “Sparkling Green Tea” with some sort of alleged fruit flavor. It’s not. It’s actually nastier than the alleged black tea Brisks.

Avoid, unless you like that chemical taste.


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Hymn for St. Albert the Great

The first verse is a loose translation of the Dominicans’ morning prayer antiphon for the feast of St. Albert the Great. Steal from the best!

Lyrics: Maureen S. O’Brien, 6/19-20/09
Tune: “At That First Eucharist Before He Died” (UNDE ET MEMORES)

By the austerity of life he led,
By the devotion in the prayers he said,
By love of Dominic’s great brotherhood,
And overflowing teaching, wise and good,
St. Albert glorified the Lord on high;
O Lord, through our work, too, be glorified.

In all his study of new books and old
And all of nature that he could behold,
And in his seeking all that God had made,
And in his speaking, calm and unafraid,
St. Albert glorified the Lord on high;
O Lord, through our work, too, be glorified.

He walked all Europe and defended truth,
He taught Aquinas in his silent youth.
Then when his own brain failed, he humbly
Lived with his weakness in obscurity.
St. Albert glorified the Lord on high;
O Lord, through our work, too, be glorified.

For faithfulness throughout the lives we lead,
And for devotion in each prayer and deed,
For love and will to help all those in need,
St. Albert, pray for us, we humbly plead.
St. Albert glorified the Lord on high;
O Lord, through our work, too, be glorified.

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St. Albert’s (or Not-St. Albert’s) Paradisus Animae

Apparently, there’s a lot of interesting stuff in St. Albert the Great’s little book of virtues (Libellus de virtutibus), aka the Paradisus Animae (Paradise of the Soul, a pretty common book title in medieval Europe). It’s apparently not attributed to him anymore, but in 1910, it was. Anyway….

“Not only was man’s freedom dear to Albertus as giving man his special likeness to God, but we are to use it for the mastery of the world and ourselves.”

The author of this book on ethics starts ripping on medieval Christianity immediately after that, as being “paganized, orientalized” and having nothing to do with Jesus, despite the author (a doctor of Divinity) admitting that Albert’s ethics were good and beautiful. Albert (or any other medieval Christian of orthodox theology) would have reasoned that anything good and beautiful couldn’t help belonging to Jesus, so that condemnation would hardly have impressed him even without the historical dubiousness of it all. Oh, well, the book’s from 1910 and still useful in bits, so we’ll forgive the author his heebie-jeebies.

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St. Albert the Great – Volumes of the Borgnet Edition Available Online

I think I’m going to make a special page for this.

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Yet Again, Poor St. Albert the Great Gets Ignored

Did you know St. Albert the Great was an important figure in the history of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Heck, I didn’t know that, and he’s my parish’s patron saint! Apparently, ye olde Dominicans had a big thing for the Sacred Heart, and he of course did, too.

There’s even some nice mystical Church/Christ stuff:

In three ways did He espouse Himself to the Church on the Cross:
through His blood;
through the stretching out of His arms to embrace His Bride in intimate love;
and after His death, through the opening of His side, from which the Church proceeded,
with the principal mysteries, the blood of redemption and the water of atonement.

This is quoted in a book called Heart of the Redeemer that goes into all this deep theological stuff about the Sacred Heart. It looks really good.

UPDATE: On the bright side, I just found out that the old Borgnet edition of St. Albert’s complete works is now online, thanks mostly to the University of Michigan library. Woohoo! Of course, it’s all in Latin and mostly with no translations available in English. Boohoo!

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A Real “Green Revolution”

The Iranian people are still out there on the street, making their voices heard. They are also using the Internet.

I wish them all the luck in the world.


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Weird Week.

Super-weird. We’ve had all these special projects at work, sinus has been hitting me hard, and I can barely stay conscious, much less think.

And yet, this week I wrote both a parody filksong when challenged (or at least a single verse thereof), and translated a medieval Latin sequence, overcome by the irresistable flash of an idea.

Creativity is a very weird thing. You don’t even have to be fully awake for it.

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Translation: “Salve, parens matris Christi”

“Salve parens matris Christi”
A sequence for St. Anne’s Day
(p. 185-186 in Lateinische Hymnen des Mittelalters, Vol. III)

Translated by Maureen O’Brien, 6/12/09

Christ’s mother’s mother, hail! You are
The first on earth who knew that star
From whence broke forth our Sun!

Through you, Light from Light arose
From that gate to all men closed,
Foretold by prophets once.

Happy would that birthing be
By which God swore eternally
To shatter Death for good.

Authoress of such good, Anne,
Good for evil you gave man
As God’s laws say we should.

You were barren once, so tongues
Teased you. When no longer young,
Your neighbors scorned your quest.

Fin’lly fruitful with a child,
You who once had been reviled –
Then they proclaimed you blest.

Your girl’s Child wills that our prayers
With you and your child be shared.
So we trust them to you –

Whom God trusted to prove true,
Whom God grants to know and do
The great good given you.

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Ten Hardcore “Masculine” Catholic Hymns for Mark Shea

In Mark Shea‘s recent trilogy of books on Catholic teachings about Mary, he points out that people’s heads would probably explode if EWTN suddenly sounded more like “Join the militant missionary legions of CONQUERING KING JEEEESUS!”, or if the Trinity Broadcast Network suddenly started to go all, “Open your heart to eternal love and joy, and like St. Ita, cuddle the Christ Child to your breast….”

Well, okay, that’s not exactly what Mark said, but close enough. There’s this whole hard/soft, masculine/feminine thing that some people feel is going a little too far in both directions, or at least isn’t being balanced out enough. There’s tons of ways you can take spirituality, and too many people only get exposed to one. It’s all talk or it’s all look or it’s all chatchat or it’s all silent solitude, or whatever. Maybe not something helpful to them. Whereas traditionally, you see a little bit of everything in the Bible. Even in one psalm, you get not just green pastures and cool waters, but a rod and staff to beat stuff off in the Valley of Death. Much more rounded.

In the old days, yes, there were some incredibly soppy or sentimental Victorian hymns. But then there were the other ones, which we no longer sing for entirely different reasons. It’s the whole “tends to make non-Catholic heads explode” thing that does it. :) But it’s not always fun to always be on our best behavior, always trying not to scandalize somebody who’s looking to be scandalized, is it?

But anyway, just to cheer up Mark with visions of a more Church Militant era in Catholic spirituality, it’s time for ten hardcore, pumped, unapologetic Catholic hymns.

10: “The Clouds Hang Thick o’er Israel’s Camp”: I shall excerpt from Verse 2.

The weapon which our fathers gave, each hand shall fearless wield:
Who bear Our Lady’s Rosary need neither sword nor shield:
With dauntless faith, the ranks they face of error and of sin:
And armed with those blest beads alone, the victory they win.

9. “It is no earthly summer’s ray”: Translation of “Decora lux aeternitatis auream”, a hymn for the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul. From Verses 3 and 4:

Fathers of mighty Rome, whose word Shall pass the doom of life or death,
By humble cross and bleeding sword Well have they won their laurel wreath.

O happy Rome, made holy now By those two martyrs’ glorious blood,
Earth’s best and fairest cities bow, By their superior claims subdued.

8. “Seek ye a patron to defend your cause?”: Translation of “Si vis patronum quaerere”, a hymn for St. Peter. From Verse 2:

Firm rock whereon the Church is based! Pillar that cannot bend!
With strength endue us, and the Faith From heresy defend.

7. “Sound the mighty champion’s praises”: Translation of “Nova atleta Domini”, a hymn for St. Dominic, the noted preacher and religious founder. This is so hardcore I have to quote it all.

Sound the mighty champion’s praises, Raise the song for him who came
Charged to tell the Gospel tidings, Charged to spread the Gospel flame.
Lordly errand, lordly errand, Suiting well his lordly name.

Stainless as a virgin lily, Fervent as a flaming brand,
Lo, he flies, still onward speeding, Flies to do his Lord’s command,
Flies to rescue, flies to rescue Captive souls from Satan’s hand.

Treading down this world of evil, To his mighty task he goes;
Stript of all, he seeks the conflict, Turns him to Christ’s banded foes
Grace sustaining, grace sustaining, With the fire that inward glows.

6. “Omnipotent, infinite Lord!”: Translation of “Regnator orbis summus et arbiter”, a hymn about guardian angels. Also extremely hardcore.

Omnipotent, infinite Lord! To thee the whole universe bends!
Thou madest the world at a word, And still upon Thee it depends.

We bless Thee, whose mercy provides us With guardians sent from on high,
Through ev’ry temptation to guide us, And shield us when danger is nigh.

To cope with the furious foe, Lest haply, unguarded he see
And slay with a treacherous blow The souls that were ransomed by Thee.

High praise to the Lord of all might, All-holy, all-gracious, all-wise!
Who sends us His angels of light To lure us again to the skies.

5. “Crown Him with Many Crowns”. Now that is hardcore and triumphalist and calls Jesus a king. All kinds of stuff that certain people find uncomfortable.

4. “Praise to the Holiest in the Height”: First of all, it’s by Ven. Cardinal Newman. But it also includes verses like these:

O loving wisdom of our God! When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight And to the rescue came.

O wisest love! that flesh and blood, Which did in Adam fail,
Should strive afresh against the foe, Should strive and should prevail.

3. “Hark, hark, my soul”: Translation of “Voces angelorum”. This is hardcore in a different way. Admittingly that life can be hard and scary? Tsk, tsk. From Verse 2:

Darker than night, life’s shadows fall around us,
And like benighted men, we miss our mark;
God hides Himself, and grace hath hardly found us
Ere death finds out his victims in the dark.

Angels of Jesus, angels of light,
Singing to welcome the pilgrims of the night.

2. “Hark, the Sound of the Fight Hath Gone Forth”. Back to fight songs!

Hark, the sound of the fight hath gone forth,
And we must not tarry at home,
For Our Lord from the south and the north
Has commanded His soldiers to come.
We must on with our banner unfurled;
We must on: it is Jesus who leads;
We must hasten to conquer the world
With the sign of the Lamb who bleeds.

1. “Dies Irae”: One of the most hardcore songs ever. Death, prophecies, the end of the world, the Last Judgment. Hardcore. So hardcore, composers make settings of it part of videogames. It’s been translated into jillions of languages; here’s an awesome version in Sarda/Logudorese showing Sardinian ruins. And yet, it’s virtually unused these days at Catholic funerals and memorial Masses, even though that is its reason for being!

Why should we let everybody else have the fun of singing something hardcore?

When we’re not singing something else, anyway.


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Sometimes You Have to Watch Those Translators.

I’m usually pretty grateful to our deceased Anglican friends, who translated the Fathers early enough to get their version securely in the public domain. Sometimes you have to endure footnotes of the “Roman Catliks R stupid! N corrupt n pagan!” variety. Still, that can easily be ignored.

However, there are some times when you look at a translation and just _know_ this has to be wrong.

So okay, it’s Book Three, Chapter 16 of St. Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine, and Augie is demonstrating how you shouldn’t take some things literally. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man” sounds like it’s suggesting a life of crime if you take it literally. Augie laughs. Instead you should take the plain obvious figurative meaning, which is….

….Um, share in Christ’s sufferings and remember Him. Yeah. That’s it.

The beauty of the Internet is that even shlubs like me can go look up the Latin. And sure enough, Augie is not suggesting that it means just sharing in Christ’s sufferings; you’re supposed to be “communicandum” in them. And you’re supposed to be calling things to mind “in memoria” of Him.

Yep, I thought so. That’s a pretty plain and obvious figurative meaning, especially since Augie was just talking about the easy-to-understand signs and sacred rites instituted by Jesus.

Sometimes you have to watch those translators. But honestly, this one was just embarrassing. It’s not even as if Anglicans didn’t have communion services or anything, though obviously this particular Anglican wasn’t a fan of the whole Real Presence idea. But to pretend St. Augustine hadn’t written what he wrote? Sheesh.

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Neumes, Glorious Neumes!

This t-shirt is wrong. Deeply wrong. And yet, oh so right.

Anyway, if you’ve been wondering how neumes work, this will certainly demonstrate them. :)

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Corpus Christi Procession Article!

I know where I’m going to be on Saturday….

Yes, darn it, I am a sucker for this kind of thing. I spent a lot of years not even knowing we could still have processions and stuff, so I’m not going to miss out now.

(Btw, the DDN also ran a little article on the Marian Library over at UD. It’s a super-cool place, but since it’s only open weekdays, most people don’t get to see it. But if anybody out there is a scholar, it’s got huge amounts of stuff. And of course their webpage comes up any time you run a search on Mary.)


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About That Giving Away the Bride Foofaraw….

Apparently there’s a very good Latin name for this Anglo-Norman tradition: “traditio puellae”, the handing on of the girl.

Also, I had no idea that rings in medieval Europe were used as “arrhae”, although coins also got used as a betrothal gift/payment/bond of security on occasion and in different places. I mean, now that you mention it, an engagement ring is sort of “arrha”-ish, but I never thought of it that way….

Or that the happy Anglo-Norman fiance gave his new fiancee a knife along with the betrothal pennies. Crimony, if only my knife-loving SCA friends had known about that! Or the knifemongers, for that matter!

All this is to be found in To Have and To Hold, an academic book on medieval documentation practices associated with betrothal and marriage. Me want, but me see it’s $88.00 new.


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