Monthly Archives: June 2021

Neurologically Disabled Physicist – Heroic Virtues Declared

The Servant of God, Fr. Severino Fabriani (1792-1849), had his heroic virtue declared this month. This is the first step towards becoming a Venerable.

Fabriani started out as just an ordinary nerdy Catholic guy. (His dad was a learned physician with a big practice, so it ran in the family.) He went to the seminary for high school, graduated in 1814, stayed on for college seminary while also teaching physics and natural sciences, and was ordained a priest. This all allowed him to further his studies in a wide variety of learned fields. In 1821, he was appointed a member of Modena’s Academy of Sciences, Letters, and Arts.

Then, in 1822, he suddenly got aphasia (the expressing yourself kind, not the lack of understanding kind), which lasted for the rest of his life. (He probably had a small stroke in a bad place.) The situation worsened until he was completely mute, although apparently he got a few words back later.

He was now unable to teach seminary classes, or to sing or say Mass. He was heartbroken, but took the whole experience as an invitation from God to deepen his life of prayer, and to trust in God’s Providence. He also got bigger into apologetics, advocating science studies for priests, and other correspondence and publication.

Fabriani had already taken an interest in the scientific and charitable project of educating girls who were both deaf and mute. He ended up being entrusted with running a school for such girls, and eventually founded an order (the Daughters of Providence) to run schools for the deaf. This order still exists today, and does a lot of work in Italy, Brazil, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka.

Fabriani also wrote books on how to teach Italian grammar to the deaf.

He died in 1849 of an attack of apoplexy (ie, he had another stroke), after trying to save all his papers from a fire coming toward his house.

His order, the Daughters of Providence, has a house open in Rome where tourists can stay. They take anyone, but the house is especially set up for people who are deaf, mute, or both.

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Greatest Meme This Year

Okay, you have to see it. It’s inside baseball for both Catholics and Eighties kids… but just read it out in the relevant voiceover, and sing along with the theme music.

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Seal Cylinders Are Gorgeous!

“Rolling Stones” is a lecture about the Mesopotamian seal cylinder collection at the Morgan Library, and all kinds of interesting things about seals.

You will also learn about the connotations of Bible verses, griffins, ostriches, a cyclops, and so very much more.

But the really amazing thing is how gorgeous the cylinders themselves are. Chops and signet rings are nice, but the precious stones and cut stones carved into seal cylinders are just on another level. They were considered valuable amulets all by themselves, and you can see why.

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Today I Learned, UK Edition

Today I learned that UK schools have a “reception year.” Which means that they want every kid to go to school during the calendar year that they turn five… even if they are actually only four.

I mean, geez, I didn’t enjoy going to preschool for a few months in spring when I was four, and that was only a few hours a day with naptime. I was one of the smaller kids in my kindergarten class when I was five, because my birthday was right before the limit of entry. It was kind of a relief when the tornado knocked down the building where the preschool had been, because it meant that I didn’t have to spend the day with strangers anymore.

I cannot imagine being simultaneously a four-year-old in a classroom of five-year-olds, and already able to read short chapter books. It sounds like a freaking dystopian nightmare.


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St. Itzel?

Okay, this one is a weirdie, because (as with Gaelic or Germanic names) the people giving their kids this name “Itzel” do not necessarily care about its actual meaning. They are giving the name out of ethnic pride, or because it’s a family name, or because it’s an “old” name or a “cool” name. And there’s nothing wrong with that. OTOH, there’s a big Mayan language resurgence, among people of Mayan descent and people who just like Maya stuff. So you could run into someone who could give you a dissertation on the name.

“Itzel” means “star” in Nahualá K’iche’, a Guatemalan dialect of Quiche Maya. So it’s the exact equivalent of names like “Esther,” “Stella,” “Estrella,” “Aster,” “Zvezda,” and so on. It’s pronounced with the “ts” in English “mats.”

It may be related to the Mayan word “itz,” meaning dew or nectar. The ancient Mayan tablets record a title, itz’at, which means something like “scholar” or “learned man.” So it’s possible that this title is also a cognate. (Yeah, you can tell I don’t know bupkis about Mayan languages/dialects, and this is just me looking stuff up on the Internet. If you are serious about learning Mayan glyphs and language, has a huge printable study guide.)

There are also close “false friend” cognates which don’t mean the same thing. “Itzehl” is the name of a moon goddess among the Huastecan and Poqom, in southern Mexico. “Itsehl” is a Yucatecan and Quichean name, also in southern Mexico, and people think of it as meaning “rainbow.” Both are names descended from the old Mayan goddess named Ixchel (pronounced “Ishchel,” and meaning something like “Lady Rainbow” or “Female Rainbow,” but her name was also written in Mayan glyphs as “Chak Chel” or “big rainbow”) who was the goddess of the moon, midwifery, etc., was a jaguar, and had the rabbit in the moon as an attribute.

On the old Mayan tablets, a woman holding an office has her office preceded by the prefix “ix-“, meaning “woman.” So anyone titled kalomte’ was a very high status king, but an ixkalomte’ was a very high status woman ruler. (So maybe there were other gods holding the title of Rainbow, at some point, but Ixchel was the female rainbow, or rainbow-ess.) However, it was also used as a generic female name prefix, where the male prefix was ah-. (Unless those “names” were actually titles also.)

Anyhoo, they say that Itzel was an uncommon name in Guatemala, but it’s now a common name among Americans of Guatemalan, Mexican, or Mayan heritage, or those who wish to identify with Mayan heritage. So is Ixchel and its modern-day versions, Itzehl and Itsehl.

Obviously Ixchel can be a sticky Catholic baptismal name if somebody were actually worshipping pagan goddesses or trying to do so. But Christians have a right to give names that have been well-established among local Christians, just like you meet Catholics named Diana.

And like I said, the name Itzel is analogous to Esther in the Bible. So no problem there. The Bible associates stars with angels, and obviously there’s the Christmas star.

St. Esther’s Day is July 1. Her feast is often forgotten because it’s also the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, but she’s got one.

There are twenty-one Maya languages just in Guatemala, so the Guatemalan government standardized the Latin alphabet used to write them down, in 1987. Resources from before this standardization will employ different spellings.

K’iche’-English Dictionary, by Allen Christenson, which includes a pronunciation guide, and reversed English-K’iche’ Dictionary. In this K’iche language, which is spoken in Momostenango and Totonicapan, “ch’umil” means star — and “itzel” means bad or evil, with “itz” meaning a demon or the devil, and “itzij” meaning to bewitch someone. So you can see there’s a lot of differences between vocabulary in closely related languages! OTOH, “Ix Motz” (female star-cluster) is the name of the Pleiades.

Combined Dictionary/Concordance of the Yucatecan Maya Language, linked to the “itz” page. “Itz” is a sap, resin, or liquid. “Itz caan” is dew, ie, sky-liquid, as explained by a legend about the king/god Itzamat-ul. “Idzat” as a verb is to learn an art, and an “idzat” is either a learned, wise man or artist, or the apprentice of such a person. “Idzil” is something annoying that makes you angry.

Ancient Mayan glyphs for “star”. I think it’s a very pretty glyph; and very suitable for drawing, if you’re looking for kids’ activities. (Of course, since I’m not good at drawing anything complicated, I love simple and pretty things!) Anyway, yet another word – ek’. Presumably the “star” meaning of “itzel” is derived from this, somehow.

The morning star (ie, Venus seen in the morning) was associated in ancient Mayan materials with the reborn/deified One Hunahpu, the slain father of the hero twins, who became the morning star, One Ixim. (If I understand this correctly.) Apparently this was reenacted by a lot of Mayan kings in rituals. The day name “Lamat” was supposedly referring to Venus as the star in question.

Dictionary of the Chuj (Mayan) Language. Star is k’anal, from k’an, yellow.

Obviously this is a big topic!


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Yeah, Biden’s So Catholic.

To be fair, we all know that Biden has dementia. He announced today that he was elected fifteen months ago. So it’s possible that if he had his full brainpower, his administration wouldn’t be quite as anti-Catholic as his current administration and handlers.

But probably not. He agreed with them before he lost it.

Anyhow, during June, the US embassy to the Holy See is displaying the “Mock the Noahic Covenant” flag, in celebration of the entire alphabet. Because flouting Catholic doctrine is how America does Vatican diplomacy under a Catholic president.

On the bright side, the new canon law code put teeth back into provisions against both pedophilia and women’s ordination, crimes which have both been advocated by the same people in times past. So that’s a nice move from the Vatican to defend the rights of normal Catholics.

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Boris Johnson’s Catholic Wedding, and Current Canon Law

Okay, apparently the UK Catholic canon law rota is going back to the older theories of what happens if a Catholic marries outside the Church, without the marriage “taking place in the presence of lawful ecclesiastical authority,” and without a dispensation for marrying anywhere but in a church or chapel.

The older theory was that the marriage didn’t count for bupkis, because it was invalid. It could be convalidated at any time, if both participants asked a priest to do it, but without convalidation it was non-existent in the eyes of God. (It’s somewhat different if baptized Catholics marry baptized Catholics outside the Church, because that’s more inside baseball and concerns the powers of Catholic laypeople to Do Stuff.)

So in the UK, such marriages (unless convalidated, in which case they become right and tight) “do not require a formal annulment procedure,” because they never even claimed to be valid Catholic marriages. They just document that it was a totally invalid marriage, and go on from there. And I suspect it’s this way in the US also.

Well. On the one hand, this means a lot of people are living in sin who think they are married validly but illegitimately. Whoops. OTOH, a lot of people who were never validly married in the first place can now go forward with their lives a lot more easily.

I also suspect that a lot of “How did they get their annulment so easily and quickly!?” is actually a case like this, where Bob and Katy got married without a priest or deacon, without a Catholic place to get married, and without Catholic spouses.

Anyhoo… it hasn’t been on the news much in the US, but Boris Johnson got quietly married to a Catholic woman this week, in Westminster Cathedral, but without pomp and circumstance.

Boris was originally a Catholic, but converted to Anglicanism while at school. This didn’t affect his marriage status, because he was already a baptized Catholic and can’t really stop being one.

Boris first “married” Allegra Mostyn-Owen, who used to be a glamorous covergirl but now looks like your mom or grandma. (She has gotten over this by teaching art to Muslim ladies at a mosque, and marrying a much younger guy from Pakistan and becoming a Muslim.) She was apparently some flavor of Protestant, and she and Boris got married at her dad’s house while barefoot. She and Boris both worked as journalists, but their marriage broke up through overwork and Boris cheating on her with a childhood friend. There were no children. So, invalid marriage #1.

Boris next “married” Marina Claire Wheeler, QC. Her dad was a Royal Marine and WWII intel guy who worked for the BBC, and he wasn’t Catholic; and her mom was an Indian/Punjabi Sikh born in what is now Pakistan, whose family had to flee to India. They married after Boris’ divorce came through, when she was already with child, and they had four kids who rejoice (or don’t) in these names: Lara Lettice, Milo Arthur, Cassia Peaches, and Theodore Apollo. They separated sometime in 2017/2018, and finalized their divorce in late 2020. But she wasn’t Catholic and they apparently didn’t marry in a Catholic church at any point. Invalid marriage #2.

At some point during this time, Boris cheated on Wheeler… okay, apparently he continuously cheated on Wheeler with various media women or with models, and had at least one illegitimate child. (What an idiot. Also, obviously a lot of stupid women out there too.)

(I do question how people even have time for all these shenanigans. Most of us are kinda busy as we get older, which is why sins of omission are more a problem than sins of commission.)

But this time it was with a particular woman from the media world, Carrie Symonds, the daughter of one of the founders of the newspaper The Independent, and a lawyer working for the newspaper. Their families were political mavens and BBC newspeople. She worked as a PR person for the Conservative Party, combining the same worlds that Johnson lived in. However, Symonds was Catholic, at least by virtue of baptism. And even though she had a pretty extensive history of running around and living with guys, she had never civilly or religiously married anybody.

When Johnson became PM, he notoriously moved her into 10 Downing Street as his first lady while she was just his mistress, which was something not even the crazy 1700’s guys would have done. However, it turned out that she was pregnant with his kid, so there was some kind of security reason. Their son was born several months before the divorce came through, poor kid, but he’s alive and healthy and got baptized as a Catholic early on; so that’s good. He was named Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas, which is… um… a bit hard on the kid, but not as bad as being named Peaches.

Obviously the Church does not support people openly living in sin, or especially those being notorious public sinners. But apparently Johnson and Symonds did manage to roll around to their parish church and attend Sunday Mass regularly (if virtually) enough to count as parishioners despite COVID, which shows willingness to change. I haven’t found any information about Johnson reconciling with the Church; but her Catholic practice would be enough for him to be eligible for getting married with her in a church. Obviously it would be a good thing for him to make her an honest woman and himself an honest man. Getting married under COVID number restrictions was probably a good idea, given how torqued off people are; and getting married in the Lady Chapel is a nod to that.

And so, Boris and Carrie got married on May 29, 2021, and in the eyes of the Catholic Church it’s Boris’ first and only valid marriage. (Carrie’s too, of course.) So I hope they stick with it. If you repent and change your ways, any day can be the first day of a new life. It would be nice if they would both become faithful Catholics, or at least bad Catholics trying to set a good example for their son.

Other than that, it’s not really our business. Mercy is the scandal of Christ.


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