Monthly Archives: June 2015

St. Therese’s Mom and Dad’s Canonization Approved

Yay! Modern Catholicism’s most famous parents of saints will soon themselves be put onto the official list of saints! Here’s the story of the miracle accepted for their canonization, including an English translation.

The Vatican has announced that they will be the first saints canonized together as husband and wife. Um… sorta.

Look, there are tons of husband and wife martyrs and saints. The difference is that post-conciliar saints who received formal modern canonizations were pretty much all canonized as part of large groups of martyrs (“N and companions” is how it usually reads). But we know of a lot of husband and wife saints, starting with the ones mentioned in St. Paul’s letters, like Ss. Aquila and Priscilla and Ss. Philemon and Appia (which tells us the traditional happy ending of Onesimus’ story). There were tons of pre-conciliar husband and wife pairs of martyrs who shared a feastday (for example, Ss. Orentius and Patientia; Ss. Marius and Martha), as well as pairs of non-martyr saints who have their own feastdays all by themselves because they died on different days. (Like St. Paulinus of Nola [Jun. 22] and his wife, St. Therasia [Mar. 5].) If one spouse was martyred and the other just lived a holy life, however, they can also share a feastday if local custom had it that way. (For example, St. Julian the martyr and his wife St. Basilissa; and St. Adrian the martyr and his wife St. Natalia.) Whole families of saints, like St. Basil’s, are also reasonably common.

For those of you playing the home game, the Martins have an unusual story!

Marie-Azelie (“Zelie”) Guerin and Louis Martin were devout single Catholics who weren’t able to pursue religious life, as they each had planned. So they both had their own lucrative businesses (Zelie was a lacemaker, Louis a watchmaker) and did a lot of good works. It used to be thought that they had met through friends’ matchmaking and got together through sheer practicality of it being cheaper to live together. But it turns out that that they actually saw each other first while passing on a bridge, at which time Zelie heard a inner voice (“locution”) from the Virgin Mary* tell her, “This is he whom I have prepared for you.”

They fell in love and decided they could each keep pursuing their religious lives by living together in a marriage without sex. They had a quiet marriage at midnight on July 13th, 1858. (It was at midnight so that they could receive Communion without a long fast. It was on a Tuesday because people used to get married on all sorts of days of the week. There’s a romance anthology called “Married at Midnight,” but it’s not for any cool reason like Communion.) Here’s Louis’ wedding present to Zelie. It’s a picture of Tobias meeting Sarah (and Tobias’ dog).

When they got married, Zelie was considered middle aged at the time (Zelie was already 27), so nobody would be surprised that they didn’t have kids. A friend with financial problems and too many kids asked them to foster his youngest son, a five year old, and they were happy to do it.

But then, they both got strong messages from God (after strong advice from a priest friend) that, while their previous practice had been okay, God now wanted them to consummate the marriage and had kids. Obviously this was ridiculous as Zelie was getting on, but they decided to try. At which point they had seven daughters and two sons, including the future St. Therese of Lisieux. (Two of the little girls and both of the boys died young from enteritis.) They delighted in their kids, and also continued to do good works along with their kids. Zelie’s business was going so good that she brought Louis into her business to work for her as a manager, and he sold his watchmaking business to a nephew.

They had a lot of fun and love as a family. I can’t emphasize this enough. The Martins were very serious and religious, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t play games, tell stories, paint and draw, and do all sorts of fun things. People remembered them all as lively and loving (even the bratty ones, like St. Therese and the Servant of God Leonie).

Then Zelie’s eyes started to give out, which she knew would soon be the end of her lacemaking career. Then she got sick with breast cancer and ended up dying while many of the kids were still young. Louis was heartbroken, but he worked hard to both support the kids and be an extremely loving father to his girls, trying to be both father and mother to them. St. Therese’s writings are full of her loving relationship with her dad, and the thoughtful things he did to help her grow and to learn discipline of her strong feelings and strong will. Louis was also fully supportive of all his girls’ intellectual development, just as he had been proud of his smart and enterprising wife.

As Louis grew older, all his daughters ended up moving away from home and joining convents. He felt that God was calling him to start suffering more seriously, and so he started offering up everything to the Lord for his girls’ success in the convent. As you would expect from someone called to this, his health began to go, and finally he started to suffer from Alzheimers’ of some kind. He continued to be an example of faith until his death, and his wisdom continued to guide his daughters’ lives.

People were tough back in the day. We need to learn to be as resolute as the Martins.

Lots of biographical info links here, including some videos!

UPDATE: I corrected some factual errors in the original post, which I did a little too much from (faulty) memory.

* Zelie had previously received another locution from the Virgin Mary. After being refused entrance to the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul because of her health, she had prayed a novena for direction on what to do with her life to Our Lady. The nine days of the novena ended on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, on December 8, 1851. That day, as she knelt in church, she clearly heard, “Have point d’Alencon [lace] made.” She had previously considered becoming a lacemaker, but took this as a sign that she should become an assembler for other women’s lace; and that’s why she started her own lace business.

It’s also interesting to note that Zelie’s first sight of Louis Martin, and her second message received from Mary, happened during that same spring of 1858 when Our Lady started appearing to St. Bernadette Soubirous down south in Lourdes. Our Lady was working overtime for the Lord!

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“Exit” Escher Video

Stick with it all the way as Our Hero searches for an exit. You’ll like the end.

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Stuff People Have Done with “Barrayaran Roses”

“Barrayaran Roses” was written during my second year of college. I’d been writing filksongs (both parodies and originals) since I’d been twelve or so, but I’d started serious concentration on songwriting when I was sixteen or thereabouts. So say four years into concentrating on filkwriting. I could tell I’d done something good.

Andrew Eigel (Hi, Andy!) figured the chords and guitar arrangement that you’re likely to hear at a filk circle. [Probably he’s on Livejournal somewhere, but I haven’t seen him in years, alas.]

Here’s my a capella version. As you can tell, I never did quite figure out how to do that overlapping track thing, and some of the harmonies are a little off. Thanks to Steve Macdonald for trying to help me record. (Yeah, that page is old. I think he is still living in Germany. Probably he’s also on Facebook or Livejournal somewhere.)

Anyway, once upon a time in 2005, “Barrayaran Roses” even got nominated for a Pegasus Award for Best Space Opera Song.

It was recorded by W. Randy Hoffman and Kira [Heston], as the group Partners in K’RHyme, back in 2012, on their album A Fifth of Vocals. Sadly, I don’t think it’s available easily anywhere online at the moment, but you might check iTunes and Amazon. You can certainly buy it from filk dealers at sf conventions, if there is a filk dealer in your area.

It turns out that while I’ve been away from filking, Bob Kanefsky parodied my song, also in 2012. “Barrayaran Beetles.” I can die now. Okay, first I will look at Kanef’s illustration page and the “info” earthworm lyrics crawl. Then I will die. 🙂

But wait, there’s more! I also got parodied by somebody I don’t even know!! And it’s a song about ORCS! “Middle Earthly Lotus”. I don’t know who this Dana is, but apparently she writes in Hebrew, too!

So yeah, no music videos, but there’s more songwriting glory in knowing you’ve created an earworm. 🙂


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A Cover Song and a Music Video

“Rosie’s Song” was one of the last filksongs I wrote as an active filker. It’s also been one of my most popular ones, and apparently gets a fair amount of people covering it. Unfortunately, I’m not really in touch with filking or Tolkien fandom, so I’ve missed a lot of people’s nice work on it. (Or I give them permission and then forget to keep track. Sorry… it’s not disrespect, I promise!)

This is a really beautiful fan music video, with unusually good use of stills from the movie trilogy. Bobajames1 has many other videos up also, including an unusual use of an old Perry Como song! He uses the audio of the recording I put up years ago on the blog.

The guitar was by Steve Macdonald! Definitely not by me! It’s his guitar arrangement too.

I think I’ve previously linked to Happyhobbitses’ fan music video, with footage from the movies. In fact, here’s the slightly higher quality older version as an old .wmv video over on Angelfire.

(Sadly, you can hear me run out of breath a lot, because I was singing fairly low in my range and because that was when I was starting to get vitamin deficiencies. Make sure you get plenty of your B vitamins and your A.)

The bright spot of having written what’s essentially a Karen Carpenter contralto, alto, or dramatic mezzo song (seeing as how I’m a lyric mezzo and that range gives me trouble) is that it’s in a range that guys can sing.

So here’s a cover by Randolf, who is apparently from somewhere in the Anglosphere. You can download the song, which is quite nice. His arrangement is a lot more modern!

Another Tolkien “Rosie’s Song” – but this one is from Sam’s point of view and has a totally different tune. Written, arranged and sung by Angelee Sailer Anderson. This is a great example of someone doing something very performance-heavy and clever, but also having good musician chops!

Totally unrelated video of a song from Valkyria Chronicles. Contains spoilers for the game. Very pretty.

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Augustine’s Love Argument

The public domain translation reverses the Bible quote to be “Love is God,” for cute rhetorical reasons. But that wording was the translator’s choice, not Augustine’s choice. Take a look the other way around, and I’ll prove that the argument is still there.

Augustine, In Epistolam Joannis ad Parthos, Tractatus 9, 10:

“If anyone say,” [John] says, “”I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar.” (1 Jn. 4:20)

— So from where do you prove “he is a liar”?

Listen. “For how can he who does not love his brother whom he sees, love God, whom he does not see?” (1 Jn. 4:20)

— So what? Does he who loves his brother love God, too?

It is necessary that he should love God; it is necessary that he should love Love Himself. Can he love his brother and not love love? [No.] It is necessary that he should love love.

— So what? Does he who loves love therefore love God?

For that reason, certainly. Loving love, he loves God. Can you have forgotten what you said a little while back? “God is love.” (1 Jn. 4:16) If “God is love,” anyone who loves love, loves God. Therefore love your brother and be untroubled.

You cannot say, “I love my brother but I don’t love God.” How you lie if you say, “I love God but I don’t love my brother”! So you are deceived when you say, “I love my brother,” if you suppose that you don’t love God.

It is necessary that you who love your brother should love Love Himself. For “God is love;” it is necessary therefore that anyone who loves his brother should love God. For if you do not love the brother whom you see, how can you love the God whom you do not see?

Why does he “not see” God? Because he does not have Love Himself. Therefore, because he does not have love, “he does not see” God. Therefore, because he does not love his brother, He does not have love. Well, therefore “he does not see” God because he does not have love. For if he had love, he would see God, because “God is love,” and his eye would be purged more and more by love, so that he would see that Unchangeable Substance for Whose presence he would always rejoice, which, together with the angels, he would enjoy for eternity.

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More Thoughts about Yesterday

Justice Kennedy is an idiot whose entire Catholic education was wasted money. His poor parents.

Anyway, he wrote the majority opinion, which is riddled with the idea that our times are somehow sooo much more enlightened than any other time in history, and that human nature somehow changed as soon as the year count clicked over to 2000. Yup, just that stupid.

Fr. Hunwicke has some stuff to say about this.

PS – WordPress, Google, and Bing have highly offensive celebratory markers out today. You can avoid WordPress’ stupid by linking to the old wp-admin/post-new.php version of “Add New Post.”


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The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Of course, the Roman icon is famous around the world. It’s a deep picture. Little Jesus already knows that He will one day be crucified, because He is divine. St. Michael and St. Gabriel show Him the instruments of His suffering and death. But in His humanity, He has run so fast to His Mother for comfort that He has kicked off one sandal and is barely wearing it. Mary, knowing by Simon and Anna’s prophecy that He will suffer and so will she, holds her Son close while she takes her first look at the instruments of the Passion.

Christianity is not about being spared all troubles. We are not going to be treated better than Our Lord and Teacher, Our God and Brother. If we mean to reign with Him, we must carry His Cross and suffer with Him, and sometimes, we will even have to go on the Cross with Him. If we want a crown of glory, we have to wear the crown of thorns.

That said, we should pray always for our wants and needs, because Jesus told us to. We should also thank God often, both when we are released from trials and when we are put through them.

The title and picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help are associated with some really remarkable miracles. In Haiti in 1882, a Candlemas procession in her honor was followed five days later by both the end of a terrible drought and a smallpox epidemic.

There are a ton of different prayers and novenas to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Most of them are products of Italian or Liguorian spirituality, so yeah, lots of flowery poetic language and pleading! (Nothing wrong with that, but I like to warn folks what they’re in for.) The good old “Memorare” is also associated with this title, as is the Rosary.

Here’s part of a new one I didn’t know: “The Praises of Mary,” collected in 19th century Ireland from an oral tradition in the Irish tongue. It’s legendarily attributed to St. Lomman from the 7th century, but it seems likely that most of it is medieval and/or modern. But it’s good stuff anyway.

Here’s a short excerpt from the prayers near the end:

“Stretch forth thy hand to help us; deliver us from our bondage.
We are thy children; thou art our mother.
As little children we come to thee; we know no fear.
O Mary, He changed water into wine for thee,
Even as He said, “My hour has not yet come.”
Now He would not refuse thee, when you plead for us, thy children.
O Mary, come quickly to our aid.
Do not let us stray from the fold;
The wolf is waiting to destroy us.
To your praise, there shall be neither night nor day.

Adoration to the Father who created thee!
Adoration to the Son Who took flesh from thee!
Adoration to the Holy Spirit, thy Divine Spouse!
Three in One, One in Three.
Equal in all things.
To Him be glory
For ever.
For ever.
For ever.

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