Daily Archives: January 2, 2012

Classics… in… Spaaaaaaaace!

NASA wants to get some ideas for chemistry from ancient Greek pottery.


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False Mystic and Satanist with Mary-Sue Ambitions

A cautionary tale, which also explains a lot of the extreme skepticism and hostility later focused upon other Spanish mystics, like St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.

This is an especially knotty case, because it seems clear that this woman had serious mental problems of various kinds as well as a serious power trip going on; but that doesn’t preclude bad spiritual stuff also having gone on. (In fact, all those things knotting together sounds probable.) There is a sort of happy ending, and one certainly hopes she did repent as sincerely as everyone believed. But it’s pretty clear that this woman first made life Hell for a lot of other women, and stole the innocence of all sorts of trusting people. (Insert possible effects on Spain’s history here.)

With all the 2012 Mayan doomsday hype, you can expect a lot of people to suffer delusions and deceptions, and a lot of others to attempt frauds. “Test everything: keep what is good.”

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Claude Newman and Our Lady the Teacher

An incredible true story of God’s mercy and love, and of the brotherly and motherly love of Christians.

Via Fr. Longenecker.

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The Other Good News of Great Joy.

The Anglican Ordinariate of the USA, the “Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter,” was officially instituted yesterday.

The Anglo-Catholic has a very enthusiastic comment box on their post!

We also learn that the Greco-Latin ecclesiastical synonym for an ordinary is “antistes”, and that the new Ordinariate “principal church” will be in Houston, at Our Lady of Walsingham Church.

The first Anglican Ordinariate was instituted last year in the UK, and is officially named the “Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.”

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Bah. Pretty Much Everything Is Still Closed.

What I want to do is go downtown, buy a monthly bus pass (pricey, but a good value if I ride at least one round trip more than half the days of the month), and do some errands. But of course, it’s still Monday after New Years’, and things are still mostly closed. No point riding downtown just to ride back again.

It snowed this morning. The first snow of the winter to fall and stick, and it’s all the way into January. Not really all that unprecedented, though. People tend to forget how many weather patterns Ohio gets.

We had very gusty wind yesterday, courtesy of a Canadian front coming down. This year’s homemade radiator reflector over the A/C vents stood the test nicely, albeit I found a few bits that needed tighter taping to hold out the wind. But my windows need more bubblewrap. I think the next layer, I’ll try doing some across instead of straight down, and layer that in such a way that downward drafts are blocked more. The final step is putting bubblewrap on the sill. (Stone windowsills are pretty, but cold. Bubblewrap plus an insulating/decorating tablecloth on top makes a lot of difference.)

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The Pope’s Christmas and New Year’s Homilies

The traditional media said that the Pope’s Midnight Mass homily was all about peace; but actually he prayed mostly for justice in the world, and for the Lord to come down with His rod and straighten things out. Now, granted, the Pope prayed this in an Advent context of the Second Coming, and in a gentle professorial way — but still, the news media totally missed it. They love to paint the Church as drooling for apocalypse; but when actual apocalyptic imagery crosses their path, they don’t know enough to see it. Not enough spittle aviation, I guess.

“We love your childish estate, your powerlessness; but we suffer from the continuing presence of violence in the world, and so we also ask you: Manifest your power, O God. In this time of ours, in this world of ours, cause the oppressors’ rods, the cloaks rolled in blood and the boots of battle to be burned, so that Your peace may triumph in this world of ours.” (cf. Is. 9:1, 3-4)

This is why a lot of gentle people have rotten tempers — because if they’re not yelling, screaming, scowling, and glaring, people don’t notice that they’re unhappy or have a problem. (I’m not saying this is why the Pope used to have a temper problem before he did serious work on it; I’m sure he got it as part of the genetic package, as lots of us do. But you can see how it works.)

His Urbi et Orbi speech for this Christmas was equally stark in its way, pointing out that our hope lies solely in crying out to Jesus to save us, and that Jesus chose to save us the hard way and not some quick and handwaved way.

New Year’s Eve vespers had a gentler message.

“Another year is drawing to a close, as we await the start of a new one: with some trepidation, with our perennial desires and expectations. Reflecting on our life experience, we are continually astonished by how ultimately short and ephemeral life is. So we often find ourselves asking: what meaning can we give to our days? What meaning, in particular, can we give to the days of toil and grief? This is a question that permeates history; indeed it runs through the heart of every generation and every individual.

“But there is an answer: it is written on the face of a Child who was born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, and is today the Living One, risen for ever from the dead. From within the fabric of humanity, rent asunder by so much injustice, wickedness and violence, there bursts forth in an unforeseen way the joyful and liberating novelty of Christ our Saviour, who leads us to contemplate the goodness and tenderness of God through the mystery of His Incarnation and Birth. The everlasting God has entered our history and He remains present in a unique way in the person of Jesus, His incarnate Son, our Saviour, who came down to earth to renew humanity radically and to free us from sin and death, to raise us to the dignity of God’s children…

“…since the Day of the Lord’s Nativity, the fullness of time has reached us. So there is no more room for anxiety in the face of time that passes, never to return; now there is room for unlimited trust in God, by whom we know we are loved, for whom we live and to whom our life is directed as we await His definitive return. Since the Saviour came down from heaven, man has ceased to be the slave of time that passes to no avail, marked by toil, sadness and pain. Man is son of a God who has entered time so as to redeem it….

“Te Deum laudamus! We praise you, O God! The Church suggests that we should not end the year without expressing our thanks to the Lord for all His benefits. It is in God that our last hour must come to a close, the last hour of time and history. To overlook this goal of our lives would be to fall into the void, to live without meaning. Hence the Church places on our lips the ancient hymn ‘Te Deum’…

“With hearts full of thanksgiving, let us prepare to cross the threshold of 2012, remembering that the Lord is watching over us and guarding us. To Him this evening we wish to entrust the whole world. Let us place in His hands the tragedies of this world, and let us also offer Him our hopes for a brighter future.”

Anyway, nobody panic. The Pope’s New Year’s homily, for the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, and for the World Day of Peace, was a pretty standard recap of Marian dogma about her role as Theotokos and Mother of God, and of why the first reading for the feast is an Old Testament blessing. This is where you see the Pope as just the local shepherd of souls, giving a homily so simple that any parish priest could have delivered it.

Then we get some transition. He does slip in a little reference to Mary in the Fathers, with his reference to the parable about the seed that falls on “good soil”. This is pointing also to the patristic image, of the Immaculate Conception/sinlessness of Mary and Mary’s virginity, as being the “virgin earth” of the new Eden out of which God made new Man “after Our image and likeness; male and female He made them,” the new Eve and the new Adam. And so Mother Church is the good soil and a mother too: making a new human race out of the old, giving birth in Baptism to us, and bearing Jesus to the world.

Which brings us to peace — the peace that the world cannot understand, which is Jesus’ business, and Jesus as both peace and the way toward it. So there’s a nice little meditation on peace that is as non-hippie as you could possibly imagine, but which also doesn’t attack anybody else’s ideas of peace. It’s a neat trick, being able to contradict common ideas without putting them down.

This leads to a big chunk of talk about education, peace, justice, and other topics important to society as a whole, Christian or not.

“Boys and girls today are growing up in a world that has, so to speak, become smaller, where contacts between different cultures and traditions, even if not always direct, are constant. For them, now more than ever, it is indispensable to learn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding. Young people by their nature are open to these attitudes, but the social reality in which they grow up can lead them to think and act in the opposite way, even to be intolerant and violent. Only a solid education of their consciences can protect them from these risks and make them capable of carrying on the fight, depending always and solely on the power of truth and good. This education begins in the family and is developed at school and in other formative experiences. It is essentially about helping infants, children and adolescents to develop a personality that combines a profound sense of justice with respect for their neighbour, with a capacity to address conflicts without arrogance, with the inner strength to bear witness to good, even when it involves sacrifice, with forgiveness and reconciliation. Thus they will be able to become people of peace and builders of peace. In this task of educating young generations, a particular responsibility lies with religious communities. Every pathway of authentic religious formation guides the person, from the most tender age, to know God, to love him and to do his will.

“God is love; He is just and peaceable; and anyone wishing to honour Him must first of all act like a child following his father’s example. One of the Psalms says: “The Lord does deeds of justice, gives judgment for all who are oppressed … The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.” (Ps 102:6,8) In God, justice and mercy come together perfectly, as Jesus showed us through the testimony of His life. In Jesus, “love and truth have met, justice and peace have embraced.” (cf. Ps 84:11)”

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