Blessed Solanus Casey!

The Capuchin monk and priest Solanus Casey, friend of the poor and sick, fool for Christ, healer, prophet, and wonderworker (thaumaturgus), was beatified yesterday at Ford Field in Detroit, with over 60,000 of the faithful in attendance.

He was born in Milwaukee. He wanted to become a priest, but failed classes in the seminary because they were taught in Latin and German. He had many blows and strokes of bad luck, but persisted in serving God and in not fighting back against unfair treatment of himself. (Other people’s treatment was another story.)

After being accepted as a Capuchin, he was stationed in his home city, Detroit, Brooklyn, St. Meinrad’s in Indiana, and many other places. Everywhere he went, his simple piety and actions, and his gentle accepting love for people being nasty to him, tended to win the hearts of those in trouble or powerless, while inexplicably torquing off a lot of his brothers and superiors.

He was given the job of doorman at most of the Capuchin houses – a simple job without prestige, but which required being on duty at all hours to give alms and help. When it became known that his prayers often were answered by miraculous healings and divine favors, opinion grew more divided. He was shipped all over the place, often to get rid of crowds of people coming to see him.

The late Father Benedict Groeschel, as a novice Capuchin, was fascinated by him. He once saw him praying in the chapel in the middle of the night, obviously in a state of ecstasy. Many of the Capuchins had similar stories, as it was gradually realized that they had a great contemplative living among them.

Solanus Casey died in 1957, but he is a living presence among the faithful of Detroit and elsewhere. People still rely on his help.

So it’s wonderful to have him raised to the altars now.

UPDATE: It wasn’t at Tiger Stadium. It was at Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions play.



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Spekulatius Cookies at Aldi’s

Yup, it’s that time of year again. Aldi has its “Winternacht” line of Christmas food products back on its shelves. They are targeted at all those US folks with a little bit of German in them… but obviously, they are good for anyone!

I wish to recommend their delicious Butter Spekulatius cookies. It’s a small tray of cookies, but it’s less than 2 bucks here. (Slightly larger trays at Meijer’s are 3 or 4 dollars.) They have a great flavor, and they are made the old -fashioned way, with non-yeast leavening. There are four designs: a man, a woman, a horse, and a windmill.

They break in half pretty easily, so don’t shake or drop the package.

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Zeal: Good. Presumptuousness: Bad.

The blog Rorate Caeli has a news item about the “reconciliation” (renewal of dedication) of a previously de-sanctified church. A medieval-style Victorian treasure, St. Willibrord’s Church in Utrecht, has been bought by Catholics, and is to become a Catholic church again. Yay!


The church was never a Protestant one. It was formally desanctified at one point, however.

The Catholic archbishop of Utrecht isn’t doing the “reconciliation.” It was to be performed by Bishop Fellay, the head bishop of the SSPX. He has no diocese; he has no native standing in Utrecht. And St. Willibrord was the first bishop of Utrecht, so it’s not exactly flattering to flout his successor in his own church. Or so one would think!

This isn’t the first time the church has been an object of contention. At about the time of Vatican II, the church was set to be closed and demolished by the Catholic archdiocese. It was bought by a group of laypeople and a priest, Fr. Winand Kotte, and became a private chapel where Fr. Kotte said Mass. (Which is legal enough.) The contentious point was that Mass was always said in Latin under the old missals; but there were legal arguments for priests to do so, and obviously Summorum Pontificum made it clear that it was okay. But private groups of this kind sometimes become hinky; it’s hard to tell if this was the case.

Fr. Kotte died in 2006, but the lay society kept up the church as their chapel. They reached an agreement with Archbishop Eijk, the archbishop of Utrecht, which allowed them to remain independent but be fine with the archdiocese. Archbishop Eijk re-dedicated the church in 2009 and named it a “rectorate”, and all seemed well.

At this point, the lay society that owned the church rented it out during the week for the performance of an avant-garde play. The problem was that part of the play simulated various church liturgies, in an offensive way. The apostolate served by the rectorate petitioned the archdiocese to declare the church as having been desacralized by blasphemy, until the owners agreed not to run any more performances. The church-owning society objected to having no operating funds.

Apparently they had various priests say Mass for them, but in 2015 they settled on using priests from the SSPX. (Such priests are pretty much all illicitly ordained, and don’t have valid faculties to perform any Sacrament unless the local bishop grants them. Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis graciously stretched a point to grant a few faculties, but yeah, not a great sign. In this case, the archdiocese seems to have gotten disgusted at having all their efforts thrown back in their face.

The lay society ran out of money (or got tired of the wrangling) and put St. Willibrord’s up for sale. The SSPX bought it. After having SSPX priests saying Masses at this church for two years, the SSPX’s illicitly consecrated bishop, Bishop Fellay, decided the church needed to be “reconciled” before any other Masses took place.

So yeah, that’s the sort of convoluted congregationalism that can take place on the fringes of the Church.

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Sterling Lanier’s Son, the Computer Guru

Jaron Lanier was interviewed by the New York Times about just what Silicon Valley is up to, and why it is so weird and creepy these days.

When a neo-hippie living in a Super Slan Shack is telling Silicon Valley guys how out of touch they are… well, yeah, that’s pretty out of touch.

Sadly, I don’t think I’ve ever gone filking with this guy. One thousand musical instruments?! Pretty awesome.

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Partial Translation of St. Albert’s 36 Sermons

It turns out that there is a partial translation available of a partial version of St. Albert’s 36 Sermons.

But there’s a reason I’d never seen it before!

First of all, the gentleman who translated it, Fr. Rawes, was really not interested in doing a full translation, but rather was writing up a meditation book for the priests of his new confraternity (that’s like a club for praying together), the Society of Servants of the Holy Ghost.

So he translates the major headings, but then goes off in his own direction. Also, many of the major headings are altered somewhat to sound more modern (which is to say, Victorian), and there is no clear line drawn between his own work and that of the original author. His preface says he didn’t see this as being a problem, as the treatise was readily available and priests all could read Latin easily, right?

Second, he was translating the version attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas as a treatise, which leaves out a bit of stuff; and he really did think he was doing an Aquinas work.

The book has been available on since 2008, and has been reprinted by Aeterna Press. Apparently they also have no suspicion that it’s a St. Albert the Great-related book instead of a St. Thomas Aquinas-related book.

So anyway, here is a link:

The Bread of Life: or, St. Thomas Aquinas on the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar.

Arranged as Meditations, with Prayers and Thanksgivings for Holy Communion,

By Father Rawes, D.D.

London: Burns and Oates, 1879.

So now what?

Well, I intend to finish the translation, because it should be done fully, authentically, contemporaneously, and under the correct title and author!

Also, Fr. Rawes was not providing references other than the Scriptural kind. The Latin editions do include references to patristic and ecclesiastical writers, but sometimes they are incorrect or outdated. Also, sometimes they have missed something entirely. (Like the reference to Valerius Maximus that I located this morning!)

Still, Rawes’ meditations are undoubtedly cool. The original is a deeply prayerful book, and includes a lot of examples and neat thoughts that don’t appear in the Aquinas-attributed version. So it’s not surprising that Rawes would want to “fill in” what was left hanging. It makes me happy to think that I’m not the only fan of the book, but it makes me sad to think that he never read the real one. (At least up to the point of publication in 1879.) I have discovered a colleague!

Here’s the Catholic Encyclopedia on Fr. Henry Augustus Rawes, DD, STD. He was an Anglican convert who spent all his fortune on his parish. He was a member of the English Congregation of Oblates of St. Charles. Besides the Society of Servants of the Holy Ghost, he also founded a confraternity for devotees of St. John the Evangelist. He wrote a tonload of books and hymns, and he passed away in 1885 in great holiness.

Fr. Rawes, pray for us!

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Commentary on Luke by Eusebius

Roger Pearse just put another of the patristic translations he has commissioned. This one is a fragmentary Commentary on Luke, attributed to Eusebius, and derived from bits of an 11th century catena collection.

Whoever wrote it, it includes some beautiful thoughts.

Here’s what it has about Mary’s fiat:

I am the handmaiden of the Lord.

I am the writing-tablet. Let the scribe write what He wills.

Let the Lord of all do as He wills.

Let it be done to me according to thy word.

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Choir Stuff

1. After several years without cable, I was happy to hear how much EWTN’s choir music has improved. They always provided serviceable music, of course. But now they’ve got some kind of professional choir director doing great things with a small but excellent force of musicians. They also seem to be in the habit of performing more of the great choral repertoire of sacred music. Even the priests are chanting more.

EWTN’s usual daily choir seems to consist of seven men (Franciscans) and five women (laywomen, not sisters or nuns). The men usually chant the psalm.

Another nice touch is that the choir bows at the name of Jesus, which is actually in the rubrics for everybody but is often forgotten.

2. Newt Gingrich’s wife, Callie, was named ambassador to the Vatican and confirmed a few weeks back. She’s also joining the Sistine Chapel choir in her capacity as soprano. I am not sure how this avoids being a conflict of interest, except probably she is not getting paid like choristers usually are. (Also, to be fair, none of the female voice parts are particularly important in that choir. Which is probably how she avoids it being too much of a timesuck.)

Callie Gingrich has always been an interesting figure, to say the least. But harnessing her energies in the service of the United States is a pretty good idea; and sending a conservative woman to deal with Pope Francis’ curia will probably make quite a few heads explode.

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