Monthly Archives: January 2012

Another Thing I Never Heard Before

I’m watching that Franciscan spirituality/theology/history show, My God and My All, on EWTN. It mentioned that St. Francis (I think it was him) sometimes would sing the glory of God in French (ie, doing his troubadour thing) while playing a musical bow made out of a string and a piece of stick. (Not particularly easy, especially with an impromptu instrument.)

Now, admittedly I was doing something else at the point when music was mentioned, so I may have misheard the details or the identity of the Franciscan.

But the man played an instrument, and nobody mentions this? Especially when it explains the notable predilection of historical Franciscans for stringed instruments? And his vision of an angel with a viol and bow, playing a melody so sweet that it practically took the soul out of his body?

Argh. Argh. Argh. Sometimes I just feel so ignorant.

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This Explains a Lot.

Woodrow Wilson’s grandfather was an abolitionist newspaperman in Steubenville, Ohio.

Woodrow Wilson’s dad and mom moved south of the Ohio in 1851, bought slaves and rabidly supported slavery, favored secession, and always stayed Confederates at heart. Which was why Wilson was so racist himself.

And this is the man they sent to deal with the end of World War I.

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Well, This Has Been Fun Yet Pointless

Well, I thought that the worst case scenario was that my severance pay would be taxed about 30%.

Oh, no. Adding all the taxes together, it’s going to be over 36%. Sigh.

However, this is probably going to be enough that I’ll no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits, and that I’ll have to pay back what I’ve already gotten. I didn’t use much, so I’m fine with that. It’s kinda crazy, though, because the state is all gung ho to have you swallow your pride and apply, and then you have to give it back all the same. It seems like a lot of time and effort for nothing.

But as a cushion just in case, I did appreciate it.

Still working on Beatus. Making good progress, and the book continues to charm and instruct me.

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Because Cannibalism Is Funny Now

Here’s a news story — and a law commentary — that’s not for the weak of stomach. And it involves babies, so feel free to look away now.

Oklahoma state senator Ralph Shortey, like a lot of other people, thought the idea of testing flavors with an embryonic stem cell line taken from aborted babies was disgusting and immoral. If you want to build an artificial tongue, use your own adult stem cells.

Of course, the argument used again and again is that it doesn’t matter, the babies were dead forty years ago, yadda yadda.

There’s also been an increasing industrial use of human placenta in beauty products. Why people would sell their placentas, or why they think that it’s okay just as long kuru and mad cow disease won’t hurt them if they put it on their face, I don’t know. (Opportunistic diseases do tend to arise from this sort of thing.) I gather a lot of this is actually cow placenta or just lies, but it’s not exactly respectful to our fellow humans. And of course, human body parts long have been used as a “beauty secret” in many cultures. Elizabeth Bathory bathed in blood, but there’s plenty of people today who get regular transfusions from children or young people in the hope of being rejuvenated. There’s a horrible underbelly of people who’ll try anything “scientific”, the same way others will try anything “psychic” or “magical.”

Recently, there’s a lot of at-home culinary use of placenta and breastmilk as health food or as something done for togetherness. Um. Yeah. In the past, no adult would drink breastmilk unless starvation was involved; and if you had more breast milk than baby could consume, you helped out another mother who didn’t have enough. (And there are donation programs for those who don’t want to go full-on foster-nurse.) A human woman generally doesn’t eat her afterbirth like an animal; if she does, it’s usually a sign of serious malnutrition driving her to it. But Japan has introduced <a href="And in Japan, there's a pork placenta drink.”>a pork placenta drink for beauty and weight loss (because pig cell physiology is very close to human) as part of a whole suite of placenta products.

China has always had animal placenta recipes, and now they have human placenta for sale to non-relatives. With sweet potato.

And then, finally, there’s been more and more progress recently on culturing meat and various other animal body parts. You can’t get much more tender than “never set foot on the ground.”

And here’s a lady doctor who as part of a placenta article, informs us that, theoretically, she sees nothing wrong with cannibalism, as long as you’re not actually killing the meat source. And that’s not the first time I’ve seen people say that on the Internet under their real names. (Even though anti-cannibalism is one of the strongest human moral principles, because otherwise we couldn’t live together at all.)

So Mr. Shortey, in the spirit of belt and suspenders, proposed to the Oklahoma Senate a bill to ban using aborted fetal parts in food products in any way. You’d think that this would be a no-brainer; you vote yes and are glad to do so. The same people who hate GMO and love regulations ought to be instantly behind it. But instead, the poor guy is getting ridiculed.

Sigh. In five or ten years, it’s probably going to be advertised as All-Organic! No Chemical Additives! The Perfect Balance of Nutrition for Every Body! And it won’t be funny then.

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Blessed Michele Pini: Monk, Anchorite, Chaplet Inventor

So seeing as I’ve never heard of this guy before, and his feast day is tomorrow, I thought I’d better research Brother Michele Pini.

History says he was from Florence, and of good family. He was born in 1440, 1445, or 1450.
Legend says that he was a courtier of Lorenzo de’Medici; this may or may not be true.

Either way, sources say that he went off and became a Camaldolese monk. After he was ordained a priest, he wanted more opportunity for contemplation, so he spent the last twenty years of his life as an anchorite in a little walled-up cell in the church.

(This was actually not all that lonely, as anchorites were always there in church for people to talk to, and worried people pretty much talked the ears off anchorites and anchoresses. Since he was a priest, he was probably busy hearing Confessions too. He was also sent many letters. So it was more like volunteering to be a sort of drive-thru councilor for the rest of your life than being a hermit. But there was also the chance to spend many hours in the company of God alone. Like the psalm says, “Happy are those who dwell in the house of the Lord.”)

An Italian saint site tells us that in 1510, a Venetian nobleman named Tommaso Giustiniani showed up at the Camaldolese monastery one day and begged to become a monk. Since he’d come out of nowhere, they said they couldn’t just take him right away; he’d have to spend some time at the monastery getting to know the life, and letting the monks get to know him. He passed some of the time by writing an account of the monastery and its personalities, including Br. Pini.

“He is a solitary, a secular priest too, a hermit for a little more than five years… I visited him on the day of my arrival, along with the most reverend Father General. In my view, he’s about sixty years old. He has a long white beard and looks like a second St. Jerome. He’s a little pale, but not too thin. He seems to have a sweet nature, and is full of holy humility. To judge by the few words that he gave
me when I made my visit, I find him full of prudence and very spiritual.

“When the Father General told him that I was the one of whom he had told him, he declared to me that I would do well if, following Our Blessed Lord’s words, I left everything to follow the Lord, who promised eternal happiness to those who followed him…

“At the moment… of farewell… he embraced me. Asked to pray for me, he replied, “And you, my son, pray that God answers the prayers that I have asked from you, and that I will ask again. And pray for
my salvation.”

A few months later, Br. Tommaso was accepted into the order. He hoped to have Br. Michele as his spiritual advisor, but his superiors sent him elsewhere to a very different fate. Still, this contemporary personality sketch is history gold. 🙂

During his life, he was known for his spiritual gifts and clear teaching. He was also known as a true prophet, which is probably not the most popular gift in Medici Italy. 🙂 He wrote a “Sermon on the Most Holy Sacrament”, and he started a “Mystical Alphabet” book, of which he finished the sections on A and B. There are also quite a few manuscript letters in existence, written by Bl. Michele to various people wanting his spiritual advice.

But he is best known today (at least in Italy) as the author of the “Corona del Signore”, known best in English as “the Rosary of Our Lord” or the Camaldolese Rosary. My post explaining it is directly below this one.

Another thing we know: Bl. Michele Pini died a happy death in 1522, telling his brothers, “For me, now faith has become true and certain knowledge.”

Many miracles ensued, and he was quickly beatified. A biography of him was published in Florence in 1604; it doesn’t seem to be online.

Here’s a prayer to Bl. Michele Pini from the Camaldolese monks, off somebody’s Italian Facebook page. Hopefully I translated it right:

O beloved of God, Blessed Michael, who in the depths of enclosure in your cell, out of humility and sincere mortification, served God and interceded for the brothers and the whole world:

and who, meditating on the mysteries of the life of Our divine Savior, fittingly were given the gift of “the Crown of Our Lord”, spread throughout Christendom and indulgenced by the Roman Pontiffs:

grant to my heart and to my person, a little of that joy, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, that filled you and shone from your face, for a testimony to the men who serve God with love and faithfulness; Him ruling us on earth Whom we will enjoy forever in Heaven.

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“The Rosary of Our Lord”

For them as wants it, there’s an approved and very traditional “Rosary of Our Lord” that was invented by Bl. Michele Pini, a Camaldolese monk of the early 1500’s.

His feast day is tomorrow!

(So yeah, I just happened to come across this thing’s existence today… yeah, nothing suspicious there… Keep whistling nonchalantly, Bl. Michele!)

Anyway, the Camaldolese order is very fond of the “Rosary of Our Lord,” also called the “Camaldolese Rosary,” “Camaldolese Crown”, or “the Crown of Our Lord.” It’s a lot better known in Italy or Spain than here, so here’s a precis of the instructions I found on a Rosary forum, about 3/4 of the way down the thread.

The Crown of Our Lord consists of 33 beads — 3 decades and 3 additional beads — commemorating the 33 years of the earthly life of Our Lord. Mostly it’s Our Fathers. Five “Hail Marys” are recited in honor of Mary and Our Lord’s five wounds. (Three “Glory Be” prayers are sometimes inserted at the end of decades to honor the Holy Trinity.) The Apostles’ Creed concludes the chaplet.

The longer form gives specific events of Our Lord’s life for every Our Father and Hail Mary.

The shorter form is this:

Sign of the Cross to start (of course).

One Hail Mary, ten Our Fathers, One Glory Be = 1 decade.

First decade: Events of Jesus’ childhood, and His humility and obedience.
Second decade: Events of Jesus’ hidden life as a young man and His public life.
Third decade: Events of Holy Week and Jesus’ Passion.

One Hail Mary, three Our Fathers and one Hail Mary = end prayers.

Meditate on events from Jesus’ Resurrection until the Ascension.

Apostle’s Creed.

V. We adore You, o Christ, and we bless You.
R. Because by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, in whose honor we have recited this Rosary, put Your Passion, Your Cross and Your Death between our souls and Your Judgment, now and at the hour of our death. And grant us grace and mercy; grant the faithful departed rest and pardon; grant Your Church peace and harmony; and to us sinners, forgiveness and eternal glory.

Who live and reign, world without end. Amen.


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On the Bright Side

Ever since I got rid of the CFL bulbs in my place, I’ve been feeling a lot healthier. But I’ve been getting mighty tired of sitting around in the dark.

See, I had to resort to some HUGE bulbs previously, just to have enough light to live with. The regular lightbulb equivalents can’t be used in the same fixtures. (Unless I want a fire.) Also, it’s winter, which means a lot of gray days without enough sunlight for reading or anything else, besides depression. It’s actually easier to light the place at night, when the eyes don’t have that gray sunlight contrast. Since I’m staying in the house a lot of the day, this has become a serious problem.

Also, I used to have my desk right up against the wall, which meant I only had to light a tiny amount of deskspace when I was working there. Now I have my desk sitting out, which is less claustrophobic and warmer. But I have to light more area when I’m there.

So now I’m going back to my olden days winter expedient, the Plant Light of Doom. It’s still not that bright, but it has a sunlight spectrum. Stick it up somewhere high and behind you, add a couple more lamps elsewhere in the room, and it makes things pretty cozy. It also produces a lot of heat, which is a advantage in the winter.

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Still Searching for a Job.

Filling out job applications is pretty grueling. You’d think, “Oh, it’ll be quicker now that you can do it online.” Nope. Actually, some companies seem to feel that since it’s all computerized, you ought to have time to give them even more information. In the old days, it only took fifteen minutes or half an hour. Now you can be typing away for an hour and a half and still not be done.

I’m hopeful, and at least there’s some kind of chance. A lot more jobs are being put up right now for February hiring. But it’s pretty hard work.

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Lingonberries: About to Get Expensive

Dr. Oz had lingonberries on his show this afternoon.

Lingonberries are awesome on Swedish pancakes, but you usually can’t get them. (Ikea has ’em in their food store, but otherwise you have to find frou-frou or ethnic grocery stores.) Dr. Oz actually said he had never heard of them before preparing for this episode. (I guess New York isn’t a big Scandinavian immigrant area these days?) However, recent studies say that the lingonberry’s got more antioxidants than any of the other berries.

Lingonberry jam is really good if you like tart flavors like cranberry, so now you have an excuse to eat that instead.

The problem is that these health food crazes tend to make weird fruits both more available and more expensive. Bah.

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Amy Welborn’s New Sicily Travelogue Book Out Soon

Amy Welborn’s made a book out of her trip to Sicily with her young kids, not long after her husband died. She blogged about it back at the time, with wonderful (and moving and uplifting) pictures and stories.

If you’ve ever wondered how a mere American mom could possibly negotiate tiny cliff’s edge roads in a little Italian car, her blog then explained it. And I bet her book will be even better!

Amy doesn’t regard her kids as a nuisance or as pinnacles of natural perfection. She treats them like kids, and expects them to behave, pay attention to new experiences, learn, and have a good time in Europe. And they do. So you might get some helpful ideas on how to travel with kids, too.

Here’s Amy’s current blog, Charlotte Was Both. She also has a travel blog. Previously, she blogged at several other blogs, but primarily Open Book and In Between Naps. Her husband, Michael Dubruiel, blogged at Annunciations.

For those who don’t know the story, Amy’s husband just up and died one day, not long after they moved down from Indiana to Birmingham, Alabama. He was a healthy middle-aged man and a popular Catholic blogger and writer, and it pulled the rug out from everybody. Amy had to deal with it; her kids had to deal with it; they all had to deal with each other. So this is a book dealing with plenty of heavy stuff, while trying to give herself and her kids some joy.

It’s coming out February 7, 2012, in trade paperback and in (slightly cheaper) Kindle format.

It’s called Wish You Were Here: Travels in Loss and Hope. Be looking forward to it!

Amazon page for Welborn and Dubruiel. You can also buy books through Amy’s blog, to give her added cash!

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Sending Job Applications Shouldn’t Be This Hard….

I found a new job posting this morning, figured out who the cryptic email address was, customized the cover letter and resume, and got everything ready to go…

And then my computer grayscreened. Arrrrgh.

Thanks to some problems with my computer’s graphics card and the computer company not having updated the driver to deal with them, my computer grayscreens or blackscreens every once in a while. Everything else is fine; the screen is just not getting input. Very frustrating, especially since you’re never sure what the threshold is. Things just get to be too much, and down it goes. (Sound and programs totally unaffected; you’re just unable to see anything. If I were blind, it wouldn’t even be a problem.)

Today it just kept gacking and gacking every five minutes. Apparently it didn’t like Open Office, didn’t like Firefox, didn’t like anything. So I had to spend a couple of hours deleting caches, uninstalling, running in safe mode, disabling, restarting, etc. I still don’t know if I’ve fixed the problem, but at least it hasn’t grayscreened in the last hour.

And I did manage to send out the resume and cover letter. So I guess I win.

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Crowdsourced Remake of Star Wars. Shot for Shot.

People signed up two years ago to recreate fifteen second clips of Star Wars. (The original. A New Hope. That one.) They came back with clips in every form of media there is, from pencils and chalk to 3D CGI. (And of course, tons of people just acted it out with their buddies.)

Now it’s done. It’s on YouTube. And they call it Star Wars Uncut.


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“No Me Mueve, Mi Dios”

The lyrics are by an anonymous poet who wrote during Spain’s post-reconquest/colonial period. They have been attributed to St. Juan of Avila, Br. Miguel de Guevara, Lope de Vega, St. Teresa of Avila, etc. The poem is called “Soneto a Cristo crucificado” (Sonnet to Christ Crucified), and whoever it’s by, it’s a great poem of Spanish literature. (And isn’t it annoying, how we don’t learn this stuff even if we take Spanish lit classes in college? Bah.)

Here’s a setting by Domenico Mazzocchi (1592-1665). The singing’s a tad off in places, but that’s probably nerves and difficulty (or the recording being misleading). Anyway, it’s proof of concept.

Apparently there used to be a popular hymn version in the Philippines, but I haven’t found that for sure. Possibly this setting from a Choral Sacred Music group in Tarazona, Spain, may be it.

So of course there’s a contemporary song version on YouTube. Several, all different. It’s a very good song text for setting. Here’s more of an art song version, from Costa Rica. Here’s a more folk setting from the Dominican Republic.

No me mueve, mi Dios, para quererte
El cielo que me tienes prometido
Ni me mueve el infierno tan temido
Para dejar por eso de ofenderte.

[It doesn’t move me, my God, to desire you —
The Heaven that you have promised me.
Nor does the Hell, so much feared, move me
To leave this by which I offend you.]

Tú me mueves, Señor, muéveme el verte
Clavado en una cruz y escarnecido;
Muéveme ver tu cuerpo tan herido,
Mueveme tus afrentas y tu muerte.

[You move me, Lord; the seeing you moves me,
Nailed on a cross and mocked.
It moves me to see your body so injured,
It moves me, the insults [against you] and your death.]

Muéveme, en fin, tu amor, y en tal manera,
Que, aunque no hubiera cielo, yo te amara,
Y, aunque no hubiera infierno te temiera.
No tienes que me dar porque te quiera;
Pues, aunque cuanto espero no esperara,
Lo mismo que te quiero te quisiera.

[In the end, what moves me is your love; and in such a manner
That even if there’d been no heaven, I’d’ve loved you,
And even if there’d been no Hell, I’d’ve feared you.
You do not have to give to me, because I would love you.
Then, even if I’d not have hoped how much I hope,
I’d’ve desired you the same that I desire you.]

Three poetic translations into English.
Translation by Alix Ingber.


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Traditional Spanish Holy Thursday Song

A lot of Hispanic parishes in the US get stuck with whatever yuck the music publishers are dishing out this week. So a lot of folks have a low opinion of Spanish devotional and liturgical music, even though (of course) most Hispanic countries have a long tradition of extremely beautiful sacred music.

Here’s an oldish vernacular Spanish hymn used during Lent and Holy Thursday, depending where you are. I don’t know its origins, though I found its name from a Filipino’s posting. It’s called “Perdon, O Dios Mio”, and there are a bunch of renditions on YouTube. This one’s sung and played on the organ by Mr. Eric Ramos (who’s wearing a Roman collar but not a priest’s Roman collar — seminarian?).

It may be one of those songs where the tune comes from another classical piece, because it sounds familiar and I can’t think where I’ve heard it before. It seems it’s also one of those songs where some people sing every verse to the same tune as the chorus, but other people sing the verse to a different tune. (Just like a lot of people only know the first part of “The Irish Washerwoman”, or of “Fire on the Mountain.”)

Here are the lyrics with translation:

Perdón, ¡Oh Dios mío!,
perdón e indulgencia, perdón y clemencia,
perdón y piedad, perdón y piedad.

[Pardon, O my God! Pardon and indulgence, Pardon and clemency, Pardon and tenderness. (2x)]

Pequé ya mi alma
su culpa confiesa: mil veces me pesa,
de tanta maldad, de tanta maldad.

[A little already, my soul confesses its fault. A thousand ways it weighs me down from such evil.]

Mil veces me pesa,
de haber obstinado, tu pecho rasgado,
¡oh suma Bondad! ¡oh suma Bondad!

[A thousand ways it weighs me down; from my keeping obstinate, your breast was torn. O utmost goodness!

Yo fui quien del duro
madero inclemente, te puso pendiente
con vil impiedad, con vil impiedad.

[I was (the one) who put you hanging up on the hard unforgiving wood, with vile pitilessness.]

Por mí en el tormento
tu sangre vertiste, y prenda me diste
de amor y humildad, de amor y humildad.

[And I in return, sin upon sin, have filled the cup of iniquity.]

Y yo, en recompensa,
pecado a pecado, la copa he llenado
de iniquidad, de iniquidad.

[In torment, for me, you spill your blood and hand over your garment to me, from love and humility.]

Mas ya arrepentido,
te busco lloroso, ¡Oh Padre Amoroso!
¡Oh Dios de bondad! ¡Oh Dios de bondad!

[Already I have repented more. I look at you tearfully. O loving Father! O God of goodness!]

I have to blog this stuff when I find it, because otherwise I would forget.

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