Monthly Archives: July 2012


The IOC was too chicken to commemorate the Israeli athletes murdered in Munich, and the Lebanese managed to inconvenience people with their un-Olympic, unsporting judo training methods.

But a teenage girl from the US won gold for her team with “Hava Nagila.”

Never forget. Never surrender. And enjoy victory. 🙂

And here’s a story about kaddish going to be said for the Munich athletes, outside the Olympics, this Friday/Saturday.

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In the Old Days, Most US Catholic Women Wore Hats

Scroll down and follow the links for photographic proof.

St. Joseph’s, Ravenna, NE, early 1900’s. A pretty small picture.

1919 outdoor Mass during the Spanish influenza epidemic, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mill Valley, CA. Hats. (And face masks.)

St. Jarlath, Oakland, CA. Overhead picture of Mass in 1954 and church steps picture of female parishioners in 1921.

St. Adalbert’s, South Bend, IN, 1927. Hats.

1929 front porch Mass, Reynoldston, NY. Hats.

Overhead shot of a Mass in Massachusetts, 1930. Hats as far as the eye can see.

1942 Catholic Mass, Chicago IL. Kerchiefs and scarves. Looks like it was cold. A 1940’s Mass at St. Martha’s, Sarasota, FL. Hats.

Nuptial Mass at St. John the Evangelist’s, Cambridge, MA. Pre-1956, but date unknown.

Woman in knit tam receiving Communion at the rail. Date unknown. (UPDATE: Link broken. I’ll keep this here for archival purposes.)

Church steps picture from St. Joseph’s, Sturgeon Bay WI. Women in hats.

“The Holy Communion”: Currier and Ives print. Shows French or Irish immigrants and a communion cloth. Women wearing cloaks. Another print, also called “The Holy Communion.” Looks like a nuptial Mass. Woman wearing bonnet.

I keep grinding away at this. Yes. And I will keep on, until people realize the historical facts. In Italian, Portuguese, and Hispanic ethnic parishes (and Filipino, Japanese, and Korean ones, since they were heavily influenced by Hispanic missionaries), sure the ladies wore lace veils and even real mantillas. But in most of the US, pre-Vatican II Catholic women wore a wondrous variety of Sunday hats, sometimes augmented by kerchiefs, shawls, hairbows, and the like. Lace chapel veils (what most people mean by “mantilla”) didn’t become widely popular until the beehive hairdo.

If you like ’em and wear ’em, that’s fine. If you think every Catholic woman should dress like a 1961 Jackie Kennedy reenactment society, you’re weirding me out. They are one little shard of Catholic tradition, not the Law and the Prophets.

What occurs to me is that, since people see so many fewer sisters and nuns in habits, they are unconsciously transferring some of their feeling for nuns over to lace chapel veils. The current weird iconic-ness of Amish women may be part of this also. (We’ve got tons of Mennonites and related churches living close to this neck of the woods; and they’re just normal people, not icons. Seeing them on romance novel covers not written for them is like somebody publicizing love-muffin Moravian Brethren or something.)

Bonus link: Treatise on the Catholic Mass showing Elizabethan women at Mass wearing “French hoods,” those little coif things. It’s a big church, so more than one Mass is going on at the same time.

Illustrations of Penal times Masses in Ireland held in secret. Women in shawls and kerchiefs.

UPDATE: I know it’s traditional to get testy during Lent on the Internet, folks, and I know we’re all sad and grumpy about the Pope’s resignation. But tone it down a tad. There’s nothing wrong with the whole veil thing per se. It’s the oversimplification and the misinformation I don’t like.


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Misconceptions about Female Catholic Customs in the Old Days: Girls’ Edition

People who are trying to be traditional should try to have a reasonable idea of what Catholic traditions are. There are an amazing number of urban legends about traditional practices, both from traditional and liberal Catholics (each of which has a vested interest) and from those in the middle or who don’t care (who you’d think would have less bias in the way).

“Catholic girls always wore dresses down to the ankle or the calf, because knee-length dresses are immodest. And sleeves were always down past the elbow.”

Oh, heck no. In general during this century, tiny babies and toddlers had bare or skirted legs (both sexes), little kids wore clothes thigh-length to above the knee (including boys wearing “short pants”), slightly older girls wore knee-length skirts, and girls hitting puberty wore skirts of various lengths below the knee, depending on fashion and practicality. (They “let down their skirts and put up their hair,” in many cases.) Sleeve length depended on weather and fashion also.

1929 First Holy Communion, Williamstown, Australia. Heh, I think somebody put on a growth spurt after the dress was made. First Holy Communion, 1930. Huge Thirties veil, knee-length dress. The Pulasky family, 1930. A longer Thirties dress for an older girl, as the fashion in hems moves down.

Here’s a bunch of early 1940’s photos. In general, the Thirties and Forties were trying to save cloth, though not for fashion reasons as in the Twenties. So it’s a more austere look, but certainly not immodest. Marie Kenia, First Holy Communion in Duryea, PA, 1940. Sacred Heart Parish’s 1940 First Communion class. Sacred Heart Parish, 1942 First Communion class. 1942 St. Joseph’s Parish, Duryea PA, May Crowning. Note the saddle shoes and the hairbands. 1943 St. Joseph’s May Court, Duryea PA. Note the continued short sleeves, reasonable decolletage, etc. on these high school girls, who were more or less dressing like adult women. They are clearly wearing lipstick, so obviously their parents and pastor didn’t think makeup was evil. Short sleeves are perfectly appropriate for a humid Pennsylvania May, even on a formal dress. 1943 St. Joseph’s May Crowning: more flowers, less cloth, and V for Victory.

Little kids’ classes on church steps, Sacred Heart Parish, Duryea PA, somewhere in the early Forties. Note the huge number of knees, and the fact that none of these kids are wearing pantaloons, slips, or such. Little girls didn’t need that stuff then, and they don’t need it now. (Yeah, I’ve run into some weird, weird modesty ideas on the Internet.) Here’s a little girl from Duryea dressed to the nines for First Communion. Note the crinolines bringing her dress out so that it falls right at the knee.

First Communion (1940) and Confirmation (1962) pictures from Holy Spirit Parish, Little Falls, New York. This is from a parish of the schismatic Polish National Catholic Church, but it seems well in line with normal Polish Catholics of the time.

“Catholic girls always wore “mantillas” (lace chapel veils), particularly at First Communion.”

Sacred Heart Parish, Duryea PA’s 1940 First Communion class. Note that while many girls do wear a First Communion “bridal veil” (possibly their mothers’ actual bridal veils, since they’re huge), the ones gathered around the priest use only a white hairbow as proper headcovering. Holy Rosary Parish, Duryea PA’s 1940 First Holy Communion or May Crowning Mass. Note the huge number of girls using a hairbow as their headcovering. Several girls are wearing a flower wreath, and another is wearing some kind of fascinator draped to one side of her head. There’s a tall girl sitting on a chair in the middle, wearing some kind of tiara without veiling — that’s why I think she’s the May Queen from this picture. Probably these were also the girls’ First Communion outfits, as it was traditional to wear said outfits several times at important Church processions and events during one’s First Communion year.

1948 First Holy Communion, St. Vincent de Paul Orphanage, LA. No veils at all, though all the girls have been provided tiara wreaths. A couple of First Communion girls in Karlsdorf, Yugoslavia, one wearing a tiara crown.

St. Mary’s Catholic School, Millerville MN, 1951. Girls wearing First Communion beanies.

1942 Catholic Mass, Chicago IL. Girls wearing kerchiefs. Looks cold.

Girl wearing flowers in her hair for First Holy Communion, New York sometime in the late Teens or early Twenties. First Holy Communion at Wierzebaum, Germany in the late Twenties. Greenery/laurel wreaths and necklaces.

There’s a great picture I’ve seen of First Holy Communion in a small Arizona parish in 1947, in which none of the kids are wearing special Communion clothes or veils, presumably because the money just wasn’t there. But the site seems to have gone away.

Bonus misconception: “In the old days, brides always wore white.”

Here’s a nice 1943 wedding picture of a Duryea PA girl (Catholic or not) who got married in her best dress, which happened to be green. Her wedding thing is the huge corsage (huge, but still more frugal than a wedding bouquet).

Bonus pics not proving anything: First Holy Communion, Fushun, China, 1940. The girl is a Japanese Catholic from an occupation family. A very nice picture from the Maryknoll folks. First Holy Communion at the Minidoka internment camp, 1943 US. First Holy Communion, 1892, St. Augustine’s Church, Pittsburgh PA. The modern Grahams of Ireland go whole hog for First Communion! (Scroll down for pictures of two boys and two girls.)


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Courage Is Going On

Kayla Harrison speaks out, about how she came back from being sexually abused by her old judo coach back here in Ohio with the help of her new judo coaches in Boston.

Also, the excruciating (and boring) detail of visualizing an Olympic day. A great look at the nitty-gritty of competitive sports on this level.

UPDATE: WDTN talks about this part of the story. As I thought, the local news outlets were all protecting Harrison’s identity at the time, since she was both a victim and a minor, and only brought up the story when Harrison did. The arrest of her coach, I had heard about, because his identity wasn’t up for protection.

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Kim Rhode: Ultimate Olympian

The Christian Science Monitor asks, with exasperation, whether we can now remember Kim Rhode. Considering that she’s won 5 medals in 5 Olympics.

Sporting News notes that she has outdone Mark Spitz, Wilma Rudolph, and other Olympic greats. The only people ever doing this before were a Japanese judo champ and a couple of German luge guys.

Her name is pronounced “Rhodey.” Rhymes with “Annie Oakley.”

Other than a gun donated by fellow shooters after hers was stolen, she and her husband (Mark Harryman — she kept her maiden name for competition) fund her Olympics training all by themselves.

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Heard at the Celtic Festival

Good Mass at the Festival this year. Still had stepdancing to fill time while passing the hat at the offertory, but that part was done fairly solemnly. Other than that, no weirdness and lots of prayerfulness, and a good homily to boot.

Anyway, one of the bands (Finvarra’s Wren from the Detroit area) covered a wonderful song I’d never heard before: “Sister Clarissa” by Michael Smith, from his 1988 album Love Stories. An extremely touching song about parochial school and the teachers who were women religious.

This is by the same guy who wrote “The Dutchman,” but I think it’s clear that this is the superior song. (Possibly even the Mother Superior song.) Anybody who can turn the Baltimore Catechism into a song chorus — with absolutely no mockery or irony, just honest presentation — is a darned good songwriter.

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Bishop Salvatore Cordileone Named Archbishop of San Francisco

It was just four years ago that Bishop Salvatore Cordileone attended the Church Music Association of America’s annual Colloquium and celebrated a solemn Vespers for us.

Now he’s going to be the Archbishop of San Francisco.

I think he’ll be a darned good bishop.

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Rosary of the Most Holy Trinity

From Merlo’s Paradise of the Christian Soul (Paradisus Animae). He cites the learned Bible commentator Cornelius a Lapide, who loved this prayer so much he included it in his commentary on Isaiah! It apparently used to be very popular. It’s not the same as the rosary/chaplet promoted by St. John Eudes, or the one used by Jesuits in Canada.

Cornelius said this rosary was invented by B. Nicolaus Serarius, a Jesuit. Nicholas Serarius, or Serrurier, was born in Rambervillier, Lorraine, France in 1555. He studied in Cologne, became a Jesuit, became a Biblical scholar and theologian of note, and wrote a bunch of books. He taught at Wuerzburg from 1591 until 1597, when he went to Mayence (Mentz) to teach. He died there in 1609. He was considered one of the founders of a whole school of “classic” Catholic Bible interpretation.

Opening prayers:

Apostle’s Creed.

Our Father.
Hail Mary.
Glory Be.

God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.

Then say three decades of the Rosary, each like this:

On the big bead:

Lord’s Prayer.
(followed by:)
Benediction and glory, and wisdom and honor,
and thanksgiving, honor, and power and strength,
to our God for ever and ever.

On each of the ten small beads:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of His glory.

(followed each time by:)
Glory Be.

End of decade.

Cornelius pointed out, “We emulate, in our measure, the life and office of angels, when we thus continually renew our endeavors to praise God, since this is what the angels do incessantly in heaven, and what we shall do with them hereafter… So, in fact, we begin here to be blessed and to have our way of life in heaven, for we rise above earthly things and are occupied with God and His praises.” Praising God more should also mean thinking about our own glory and gain less, and it also allows us to give God thanks as well as praise. Serlo quotes another old prayerbook, advising people to think beforehand about what they particularly want to praise or thank God for.


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Patristics by Alma-Tadema!

This one cracks me up — “The Conversion of St. Paula by St. Jerome”. I think the picture of St. Paula isn’t too far off, but Jerome had already done a stint in the desert by then! He doesn’t look nearly skinny and sunburnt and ascetic-y enough! I suppose the point is to explain why some people would criticize Jerome so much for having all those rich Roman widows as Bible study friends.

“Venantius Fortunatus Reading His Poems to Radegonda VI” is from Alma-Tadema’s earlier period of interest in the Merovingians and other early medieval folks.

“Interior of the Church of San Clemente, Rome” — pretty nice.

This is the sort of place that early Christians with wealthy converts among them would use as a “house church.” Because it’s just that big. We also know they rented the sort of meeting room/eating room places that pagans hired out for their trade and burial clubs, if they didn’t have a permanent meeting place like a house church. (Because there were legal disputes later on about ownership and usage at such places.)

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Jeff Foxworthy’s Bible Quiz Game Show!

Jeff Foxworthy’s hosting The American Bible Challenge, a new quiz show based on Bible trivia.

Like The Singing Bee, this show seems to be designed to allow a wide variety of Americans to play successfully and to show their knowledge. It also looks like they’ve added a fair amount of icebreaking into the game, to encourage camera-shy people to do well on TV. Unfortunately, it’s only being shown on the Game Show Network, which isn’t on basic cable. They have a tab for “full episodes” on the show’s website, though, so you may be able to watch there. Right now, they only have ad trailers up, including showing people at a casting call in Dallas.

It starts August 23, 2012. The contestants play for charity. I’m pretty sure the questions will be based on the abridged Protestant Bible version, so it should be a few percentages easier for Catholics! Jewish folks will obviously have a harder time, unless they are total book nerds. (Maybe as time goes on, they will have OT days and NT days.)

Apparently they are avoiding the “chapter and verse numbers aren’t always the same” problem, by asking questions based on categories and info. I don’t know how they’ll get over the translation versions being different, unless they just allow a range of several correct answers (which is how I’d do it, and which is easy enough to do with all the parallel Bibles software and research sites out there).

Via the Deacon’s Bench.

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“Rare Book School”

Featuring Jesuits, snarky comments about Umberto Eco and The Ninth Gate, and lots of rare book fun.

Fr. Suarez’s course on the History of the Book includes a boxload of Harlequins, because romance novels rule today’s book and ebook market; and he tells his students to “Follow the money” if they want to understand books throughout history, as well as now.

Special bonus: The picture section includes UVa’s Victorian “Authors” card deck of American and English women writers.

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I Do Not Think This Means What You Think It Means

The Anchoress quotes a guy quoting another guy who wrote a book about Japan “Giving Up the Gun”. Japanese history scholars warn people against this book as ludicrously bad and stupid, but not everybody has gotten the word.

1. Japan didn’t “give up the gun,” and certainly not by any kind of society-wide consensus. Guns were made a government monopoly to prevent the overthrow of the Tokugawa warlords, mostly because Tokugawa didn’t have the guts to try to actually govern a free country. So the government executed pretty much everybody who knew how to make a gun, and made the rest into well-paid prisoners whose children were obliged to follow their trade and also become well-paid prisoners. But lots of people still had guns hidden and carefully maintained, and secret Japanese gunsmiths did carry on (in secret). Often they had a dual trade in fireworks or jewelry, to explain all the gunpowder and/or metalworking. Simultaneously, trade was cut off with the outside world. (Although some lords in remote places carried on smuggling, and the government did some trading for itself.)

2. The only reason extreme gun control worked there was that it went along with extreme government terrorization of every level of society, as well as laws designed to prevent unity across social status. (And lots of killing off Catholics, btw. A faith that teaches the brotherhood of humanity and an order that does a lot of science and schmoozing are obviously unwanted by totalitarians, although previous national leaders who just wanted the country unified and running had favored Christianity.)

3. One of the main measures was to allow men of the samurai class to kill any person of the peasant class they felt like, at any time, without government punishment, including rich merchants and tradespeople. This tore apart the natural alliance between samurai and merchants which had been forming, turned samurai into social outcasts that could have no life without approved service to great lords (daimyo), and made it nearly impossible for merchants to offer unemployed but educated samurai jobs as clerks. (It also discouraged samurai from putting aside the sword and living as commoners, because they became big fat targets.) The poor were pretty much helpless, unless they became criminals. (Thus the power of Yakuza organized crime in Japanese society, even today.)

4 So if you are willing to sacrifice all technological development for the sake of gun control, lock everyone into a country-wide prison to prevent trade in guns, destroy society’s bonds of amity and create grudges and constant suspicion so nobody can revolt against it or change things, force organized crime to become powerful enough to survive, maintain large numbers of secret informers, and kill off anybody who disagrees in the slightest, you can certainly make it so that (mostly) only your fanatically loyal servants have guns. (And your fanatically disloyal enemies.) If you’re ruthless enough, you can keep the ball rolling for even four hundred years. But then society will collapse, you’ll be subject to victimization by other countries, you’ll have huge military buildups out of fear, you’ll start a world war, and then you’ll collapse your society again. It’s been two hundred years since the fall of the Shoguns, and Japan is still picking up the pieces.

5. Even now, the enduring effect on the Japanese character was to encourage hiding and repressing one’s feelings, and also to encourage people without family or local ties to feel free to carry out incredibly desperate and bloodthirsty acts, because they were the only ones who wouldn’t be killing off their whole village by freaking out and going on a revenge killing spree. It also encouraged suicide as a cure for unhappiness and desperation, because nobody can kill off your village if you kill yourself. Oh, and the deep class, regional, religious, and professional divisions encouraged by the Tokugawa system still divide Japanese society in ways that outsiders find hard to understand, and the police have some very odd ideas about what they’re allowed to do to you if you’re arrested, because you wouldn’t be arrested unless you were guilty.

So, Japan is not a good example. Not a good example at all. Japan is still clawing its way back from what you think is so great. There was no peace. There were hundreds of years without open battles between lords, but with constant danger to life and liberty and property on every level of society: from government whim, from informers, from bandits and criminals, from angry poor samurai, from each other.


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Penn State Won No Games from 1998-2011

As part of the NCAA sanctions against Penn State for putting coaches’ needs and PR ahead of little kids’ safety, every single football game they won between 1998 and 2011 no longer counts as a win.

I guess they get to keep their defeats.

And the shame, of course.


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Watching CSPAN Drone Committee Hearing

Asst. Professor Todd Humphreys, from the Radionavigation Lab at the University of Texas-Austin, is testifying. He’s the guy who ran the wifi test-spoofing of a UAV. He’s a very interesting testifier, and the House representatives seem to enjoy him and to be asking good questions. He is also supporting innovation, and pointing out that there are a lot of peaceful uses for drones. “Saving money” and “jobs” are being mentioned a lot by him. Heh.

It’s the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management.

UPDATE: The testimony show ended at 10:55 AM (EDT). A lot of this stuff airs again.

UPDATE: Televising of the hearing started up again at 10:57 AM. So maybe this really is live coverage. They’ve got some testimony about Montgomery County, Texas, use of civilian drones from the sheriff there. This should be interesting.

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