Monthly Archives: February 2015

A Litany from St. Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church

St. Gregory of Narek’s masterpiece, the prayer-poems of the Book of Lamentations, are available in English online.

Here’s part of Prayer 2:

Grant me life,
– compassionate Lord.
Hear me,
– merciful Lord.
Be charitable to me,
– forgiving Lord.
Save me,
– long-suffering Lord.
Protect me,
– defender Lord.
Be generous,
– all-giving Lord.
Free me,
– all-powerful Lord.
Revive me,
– restoring Lord.
Raise me again,
– awe-inspiring Lord.
Enlighten me,
– heavenly Lord.
Cure me,
– omnipotent Lord.
Grant pardon,
– inscrutable Lord.
Bestow gifts,
– bountiful Lord.
Adorn me with grace,
– generous Lord.
Let us be reconciled,
– healing Lord.
Be accepting,
– unvengeful Lord.
Wipe away my transgressions,
– blessed Lord,

So that on that Day of Misery,
when I stare at the abyss on either side,
I may also catch sight of Your salvation,
my hope and guardian;
and on that terrifying journey
Your angel of peace may sweetly guide me.

You, gift of life to the universe,
Who alone have glory in Yourself and of Yourself,
Whose everlasting being is witnessed by everything,
blessed and glorified through three eternities,
and beyond the limits of all conceivable infinities.

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Yet Another “Good Idea” That Isn’t

Apparently the latest thing is to have parents, relatives, and friends of the family write support letters to kids getting Confirmed, so they can read them on their Confirmation retreat. And of course the parents have to hand them in, and then the people running the retreat pass them out.

1. Of course you know some of these kids don’t have any Catholic relatives, or only a few, or relatives who don’t know how to write, or even those who just won’t have time for it or won’t have read the take-home materials. So you know perfectly well that it’s going to turn into another version of Valentine’s Day in a classroom where kids are allowed to send Valentines only to the kids they like — an exhibition of how they are alone in the world, or how other people are more popular. Yay! What a great preparation to receive the Holy Spirit! Feel like crap!

2. Of course you know some of the letters will be full of anti-theological, heretical nonsense. Even if it’s lovingly meant, that’s not helpful.

3. They still call them “candidates.” I didn’t realize when I was a kid that this is deeply insulting. A “candidate” is another word for “catechumen.” It’s a word for the unbaptized, not for Christian kids.

4. They are still making kids buy Confirmation with huge numbers of service hours and hoops. Simony is a mortal sin.

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Calvin Coolidge: Quilter

When you grow up on a Vermont farm that technically isn’t even arable, you have to learn to do everything.

Calvin Coolidge, future President of the United States as well as stock boy and toy factory employee, also knew how to milk cows, raise horses, do all sorts of farming tasks… and quilt.

He did a quilt in this Tumbling Blocks pattern when he was ten.

He was also as red-headed as Thomas Jefferson. Hence the white hair while still comparatively young.

Learn about Coolidge’s fascinating life from Amity Shlaes’ biography, Coolidge. It’s $2.99 on Kindle, which is a steal.

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That Weird Banchan That’s Not Cole Slaw

I went over to the Korean restaurant again, and I got a lot of banchan that was tasty. Unfortunately, it also included the one I don’t like, the one that looks like cole slaw but isn’t.

Except I’m actually starting to get reconciled to it. Once you stop thinking it’s cole slaw and stop being weirded out by the weird squeaky texture, it’s not bad.

And now I think I’ve actually found out what they are: kelp noodles.

The selling point to Westerners is apparently that they are gluten-free. Well, yeah, I guess seaweed wouldn’t have any gluten. However, if you have thyroid problems, be aware that kelp is naturally high in iodine; so don’t eat a giant pot of kelp spaghetti every day or anything.

I also bought frozen fried fishcakes onna stick for Lent, because it was less than $2.50 for a giant bag at one of the Korean groceries. Apparently you cook them in a pot and add your own sauce/broth, what have you. In South Korea they are a common bar snack, so maybe not quite the Lenten feel I wanted! (Probably it was Superbowl food or party food for the holidays, and that’s why it’s cheap.) But they’re still onna stick.

You can also buy bricks of the stuff cut into sheets, and then cut them further into tiny strips, and stirfry them. The picture on top at the second link is pretty much my favorite kind of banchan. You only get a couple strips, but they are tasty.

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In Which the Banshee Is Quoted in Print

Yes, I have hit the big time in A Paleographical Puzzle by Robert Bellamy. It’s a charming self-published book, and I’m very proud to be associated with it.

But I got there by complaining on this blog.

Possibly I need to turn the grumbling down a tad….

Jerome and Isidore Bible prefaces turn out to be fairly available, thanks to Migne, but you have to poke around a bit. There are some books of Latin Bible prefaces, it turns out, but not many. The one everybody cites is Les Prefaces de la Bible Latine, ed. Donatien de Bruyne, Namur, 1920. There isn’t a copy in Ohio, alas. There’s also Sources Chretiennes volume 591A, Prologi in libros Sacrae Scripturae, which was edited by Robert Weber and Roger Gryson. Nobody in Ohio has a copy of that, either. PL 118 of Migne has some, too. There’s also this series of Vulgate volumes with prologues included.

Obviously somebody still needs to transcribe these puppies and make them slightly more available.

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Fun Korean Drama about Curses and Love

He is a star-crossed Korean prince seeking vengeance and able to fight ninjas

She runs a medieval multinational trading company; speaks Chinese, Arabic, Latin, and Korean; and is about to be forced into a marriage with a guy she doesn’t like.

Together, they fight crime! Or rather, curses!

My friend Joy has convinced me to start watching Shine or Go Crazy, a very fun historical romance/adventure based on Bitnageona Michigeona by Hyun Go-Woon. It’s a fairy tale version of the young life of Emperor Gwangjong, who freed the slaves of Korea in AD 958 and picked up the Chinese idea of hiring by examination for the civil service, in order to diminish the power of the nobility. Needless to say, a lot of people didn’t like his reforms, and he was also known for being pretty hard on them.

But before things got to that point, there’s all this complicated Korean history and multiple wars and rulers and marriages and so on. Plus the show’s tone is about fun and excitement, not accuracy. So I have no idea what is going to happen on the show.

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St. Gregory of Narek – Newest Doctor of the Church!

Pope Francis today declared St. Gregory of Narek (aka Grigor Narekatsi) the newest Doctor of the Church. He was an Armenian Catholic monk, mystic, and poet (circa AD 951-1003).

Here’s the story at Vatican Radio. Lots of info.

Gregory was one of the legitimate sons of Khosrov Antsevatsi, a married priest whose wife died young. He did not remarry, became a bishop, and authored the earliest-known Armenian commentary on the Divine Liturgy.

Gregory was taught by his father and by his mother’s brother, Abbot Anania Vartabed of the Narek Monastery. (Vatican Radio had a little translation problem there. Anania is a guy’s name.) Gregory ended up entering the monastery himself, becoming a celibate priest, and authoring a commentary on the Song of Songs at a fairly young age. (Younger than Bede.) He wrote many songs and other pieces still used in the Armenian form of liturgy, Catholic and Orthodox alike. His most famous work is the Book of Lamentations or Book of Prayers, a book of 95 prayer poems.

Here’s a beautiful Marian prayer by him.

His Armenian nickname is “the watchful angel in human form,” and he is known for many miracles.

His traditional Armenian feastday is October 13. His Catholic feastday is February 27.

Now, if you read about the history of the Armenian Catholic Church, you will notice that they weren’t actually in communion with Rome during St. Gregory’s lifetime. (Apparently not for lack of trying, and partly because of logistical difficulties.) However, when a church comes into communion with Rome, Rome honors everyone they honor as a saint. Once things are healed, they’re healed.

And a good thing too. Armenians suffered to stay Christian. Check out some of the other saints on this list.

Armenian Catholics live all around the world, but there are a lot of them in the US and Canada. Here’s a page about their eparchy, and here is their cathedral, St. Gregory the Illuminator, Los Angeles. It’s gorgeous and wonderfully different.

Here’s the Armenian Catholic Church’s official webpage.

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