Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blog fast and 40 Days for Life

This 40 Days for Life campaign gives me the idea of fasting and praying for forty days before the national election. A good and important practice, I think, and it starts tomorrow. I plan to give up blogging for one thing-- that'll also give me a bit more time to do some stuff I should have done long ago.

I'll see all you dear ones after the election, and please remember to pray for our country!

Fish on Friday

Fish on Friday by Fr. Leonard Feeney, published in 1934, was very popular in its day and is now available in its entirety online. It's so far from the author's later Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus controversy that he actually affirms, in the sketch titled "Good Christians", that non-Catholics can and do go to Heaven.

It's a really good book! Well, some parts seem too sentimental to me, and other parts are too wordy, but on the whole it's very absorbing. I was really moved by The Journey; especially in the last paragraph it expresses what I feel about so many children. And I loved This Little Thing from beginning to end; Sister Bridget's thoughts towards the end are so realistic and so hilarious. It also contains this line:

Sister Bridget always managed a tear or two at this occasion (for there is always a sense of sadness attending the completion of any task, however agreeable), supplemented by a kiss, a holy picture, and a plea for prayers in behalf of those dreadfully desperate and indefinite desires all nuns possess in the form of “very special intentions.”

That cracked me up because in my parish it's the senior pastor, a six-foot-plus ex-Marine, who's always making the congregation say a Hail Mary at the end of Mass "for some very special intentions". It's good to know the honorable provenance of that practice!

Then I thought this, from Cousin Willie about Lourdes, was an insightful point:

But the statistics show that it is during the last festival, namely the solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament, that Our Lady’s intercession is likely to be most potent and a miracle most likely to occur. And little wonder that this is so. For the solemn blessing of the sick may be called, not irreverently, a “challenge” to God’s pity. His suffering children are made a spectacle to Him as He passes in Eucharistic guise. He is constrained to pause at each cot and bless each sufferer, and to acknowledge each human affliction by individual recognition. Thousands are watching, and the honor of His Virgin Mother is at stake. Our Lord will be heedless to cure at His own peril.

Anyway, if you find yourself at a loss during my blog fast, you could give Fish on Friday a try. :)

An award I must work for

Thanks to Mary Rose for awarding me the "I Love Your Blog" button! All awardees must answer the questions below with one word each. Shouldn't take long; here goes!

1. Where is your cell phone? Bookbag
2. Where is your significant other? Tabernacle
3. Your hair color? "Red"
4. Your mother? Arcadia
5. Your father? Same!
6. Your favorite thing? TLM
7. Your dream last night? Forgotten
8. Your dream/goal? Sainthood
9. The room you're in? Den
10. Your hobby? Blogging
11. Your fear? Backsliding
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Missouri?
13. Where were you last night? Lab
14. What you're not? Touchy-feely
15. One of your wish-list items? Humility
16. Where you grew up? Arcadia
17. The last thing you did? Commute
18. What are you wearing? Skirt
19. Your TV? Non-existent
20 Your pet? Gimlet
21. Your computer? Indispensible
22. Your mood? Hopeful
23. Missing someone? Two!
24. Your car? Faithful
25. Something you're not wearing? Jewelry
26. Favorite store? Half.com
27. Your summer? Full
28. Love someone? Many
29. Your favorite color? Pine
30. When is the last time you laughed? Morning
31. Last time you cried? Yesterday

Recipients of this award, you're supposed to:
* Display your award.
* Link back to the person who gave you the award.
* Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
* Put links to those blogs on yours.
* Leave a message on the blogs of the people you've nominated.
* Enjoy your award!

But I don't care if you bother with any of those things. Just take the award as a token of my appreciation. :) Especially since half of you are on blog fasts right now anyway! I award:

Hithah of Hamarama
Rachel whose blog name always changes
Joe of Verbum Veritatis
Irenaeus of Catholidoxy
David Bennet of Per Christum
Athanasius of 50 Days After
The Cellarer at How the West Was Lost
Andrew Haines at In Umbris Sancti Petri

Vespers dance!

At Valyermo this weekend St. Andrews Abbey is having its Fall Festival. Lots of arts and crafts to look at. But the brochure also warns:

"You will want to stay for our outdoor VESPERS CELEBRATION performed by the Valyermo Dancers at 4:30 pm both days."

They're inflicting dance on the Liturgy of the Hours now? Is there any way that could not be bad? And how long until the LA Cathedral books these people?

Update: I heard from one of the members of the Valyermo Dancers by e-mail, and it turns out they have danced at the Cathedral. :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

It is, of course, fitting that I should be mistaken for a saint

I answered the phone at the convent one day a while ago. "Hi, Missionaries of Charity."

"Hi!" said a bright but hesitating young voice. "Is this... Mother Teresa?"

"Um," said I. "This is the order she founded..."

"Oh, okay!" said the voice. It turned out to be an 18-year-old, pregnant and looking for a place to stay. May God bless her, even if my blessing is not as powerful as Mother Teresa's. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A dessert of all liturgical colors

My excellent friends keep on the lookout for blog material for me. Today when seven of us had a tea party to gorge on tea sandwiches and desserts, Christie carefully constructed her fruit tarts to include every major liturgical color! Kiwis for Ordinary Time, blackberries for the penitential seasons (they look black but bleed purple), pure white peaches for feasts, and strawberries for martyrs. (Yes, Catholic nerds, I know that's a very simplified list of when each color is used.) Being allergic to kiwis, Christie substituted another fruit in her own tart. Not sure what that does to her theology.

The dessert reminded me of these surprising vestments from 18th century Italy, which also include all the colors.

That tea party was awesome, and one of the best things about hosting such an event is that you end up with most of the leftovers. :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

You don't get THIS at Mass!

I have this from my mom, who tells me all the funny happenings from the Protestant church my parents go to. They have an assistant pastor there, Pastor Tate, who's black and knows how enliven the sometimes-staid congregation. It seems that last Sunday, Pastor Tate was giving the announcements and describing the upcoming church picnic:

"It'll be a time for family! And there'll be food! And fun! And fellowship!"

He turned to the senior pastor, sitting to one side. "Greg, how do you like that alliteration?"

"More! More!" called Pastor Waybright with a grin.

Pastor Tate turned back to the congregation. "And the fundamentals of the faith!" he yelled, and the congregation cheered.

"Chuck!" he called to another assistant pastor, "your turn to come up here and give us an f-word!"

Sudden shock from the congregation. And Pastor Tate abruptly clapped his hands over his mouth and sat down.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Lazy Blogger's Post Generator

This will improve my blog so much! Here's my automatically-generated post:

Blimey! I just had a cup of tea and realised I have not updated this since Hammertime was in the charts... You would not believe that I actually have a life. I prostrate myself in sorrow and beg thy forgiveness..

I am distracted with making meals, hoping you haven't found other blogs, just generally being a nuisance to every Lost Boy that crosses my path, my day often feels wasted from dusk to well after sun-down. I am totally loving it, dudes. perchance.

I won't promise anything to you but I will write something that makes sense soon. No, really! This is for my ever faithful, devoted public..

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Learned from the Latin/English Missal

In my 1962 Missal the Nicene Creed mentions the Holy Spirit, "qui locutús est per Prophétas." On the English side: "who has spoken through the Prophets".

Did you notice the Latin word for speaking? Locutus!

I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been is over. From this time forward, you will service us.

That's why Picard took that dorky name when the Borg assimilated him. Because they made him their spokesman! I'd always sort of wondered. It made me grin uncontrollably the first few times I was at a TLM and we hit that part. :)

Then yesterday I was looking at the propers for the Commemoration of the Imprinting of the Holy Stigmata on the Body of St. Francis. (Who knew there was such a day? In the old calendar, anyway.) The collect is beautiful, and the epistle reading from Galatians includes this: "From henceforth let no man be troublesome to me; for I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body." In Latin that line runs, "De cétero nemo mihi moléstus sit: ego enim stigmáta Dómini Jesu in córpore meo porto."

So the Latin for "marks" is "stigmata"! Maybe everyone knows that already, but I never did.

Photo meme

The rules: Take a picture of yourself right now. Don't change your clothes, don't fix your hair...just take a picture. Post that picture with NO editing. Post these instructions with your picture.

From my friend Hithah. I really did some nice shoulder stretches trying to take a photo of myself from behind to show off my framed pictures and the computer screen too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Real Presence

A passage from The Eucharist in Four Simple Mysteries.

What is Our Lord's value to us in Real Presence-- apart from His other beautiful benefits and graces in the Blessed Eucharist? Well, we now have a place to which we can go, in the presence of which we can say we are, in the direction of which we can bow our heads and fold our hands, to which we can sing our songs, strew our flowers, light our lights, shake our incense; for which we can build our cathedral, top it with a cross, stain-glass it with our windows, give it a center aisle that leads down to the Real Presence, before which we can genuflect. The Real Presence makes our bodies entitled to the prerogatives of adoration.

I can't add to Fr. Feeney's eloquence but here's a memory of mine:

It was Holy Thursday night, 2007. I'd waited for months and was now two days away from being received into the Church. After that day's one Mass the congregation crowded into the smaller church where the priests had exposed the Blessed Sacrament. We knelt on the floor, praying. In the back a group of men were singing Pange lingua gloriosi. Everyone else was completely quiet. And I was deeply struck with the sense that this at last was real worship of God, the actual straightforward thing, as definitely pleasing to Him as a burnt offering sincerely offered in Old Testament days, and just as objective: we were on our knees in His physical presence. I had been a Christian from childhood but had never worshiped like this before.

I'd long since come to the intellectual conviction that Catholicism is true; that night I felt it in my bones.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Caltech's earthquake building

Every day after work I drive by this monstrosity in the making. At first I hated it and thought it a sign of our civilization's further collapse into postmodern squalor.

Then it occurred to me that this might be the new earthquake center once it's finished. Caltech has a geology building where reporters gather any time there's an earthquake. (Know how to measure an earthquake's strength on the Caltech scale? Count the news vans parked in front of the earthquake building.) If this building is going to be the new gathering spot, I have to admit it's kind of funny. It'll give reporters some great exterior shots for their shows. :) Imagine people watching the news and thinking, "WOW! I thought it was a mild earthquake, but look what it did to that building!"

Someone suggested to me that this building was designed to come together and look nice and straight in the event of an earthquake, while everything around is broken.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

In honor of this feast of the Triumph of the Cross...

... which is also the one-year anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, I'm attending two different traditional Latin Masses today. I'm so glad they're available now!

I also have a friend whose birthday is today, and last year she turned a number ending in zero, on the same day as the TLM was liberated. To celebrate, she actually had two priests (one acting as deacon... or acolyte? I ought to know) say a private TLM for her in their little chapel! We've tried but we can't top a birthday like that.

You know what? I might buy this album.

A trio of priests were recently signed on to a £1.4 million record deal. They're gonna sing stuff like Panis Angelicus, Abide With Me, Pie Jesu, Ave Maria and Vivaldi’s Gloria. Most of the profits will go to their parishes or charity. But 1.4 million pounds! That's hard to believe. The record company director who signed them says, "I thought they were amazing. They have the X-factor"

Story here, via Fr. Longenecker.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The vow of poverty

Fr. Larry, the pastor of my parish, loves St. Faustina and has evening classes to discuss her Diary, largely to carve out some time so he himself can study it too.

Last week we were on the part in Book I where she copies out what she's been learning about the three vows she's going to take: poverty, chastity, obedience. The priests of our parish are all religious priests, members of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, so they take those same three vows. They live in community; there are about five of them in the rectory now and they have people who help with the domestic chores.

"The vow of poverty in our congregation is not very strict," Fr. Larry was explaining to us. "We have a lot of things that we use, things that help us in our work. I love it when people tease me about it." And he recounted the conversations he sometimes has:

"Father, do you live in a nice house?"
"Father, do you have a car?"
"Father, do you have someone who cooks your meals for you?"
"Father, do you have someone who cleans your house for you?"
"Father, please let me take a vow of poverty!"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Coffee-carrying contraption

At my work, the walk from the break room back to our labs is fraught with coffee-spilling potential. Until now we simply had to put up with it. But now an inventive PhD candidate named Stefan has come up with a solution that harnesses centrifugal force to keep his coffee in the mug. No joke, he actually uses this thing to carry his coffee to and fro, and though the cup sways quite a bit, it doesn't spill! I took this video on my camera and I promise it's real.

Technically we shouldn't have drinks in the labs anyway, but we have an awesome, very laid-back Safety Officer who doesn't give anyone a hard time about it. That would be me. I figure my safety requires allowing grouchy labmates their caffeine.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yay technology!

Went to the doctor to have a mole on my back looked at (you'll be glad to know that the exciting I-have-melanoma-and-it's-metastasized! post will not need to be written). Since I hadn't gone in a long time, she ordered some routine blood tests. And that very afternoon I got an email informing me that my test results were in and could be accessed online. How cool is that? Instant gratification and no personal contact required!

My hemoglobin was low, which means my blood's ability to carry oxygen is likewise low. Maybe that explains why a very slow and gentle one-mile jog leaves me gasping and panting for air. You may be theorizing that if I'd jog more than once a month I'd find it easier, but I prefer to blame it on my blood.

"I do not think it means what you think it means"

The Boston Globe reports that Kerry Kennedy "strives to reconcile her Catholic faith with the teachings of the church." Diogenes asks the same question that struck me: "If she's a Catholic, aren't her faith and the faith of the Catholic Church one and the same?"

Silly us. On reading the article it looks like the reason she's able to have a contradiction between her faith and her belief is that "faith", to her, means tradition and culture, the things she did as a child, something that "informed my view of the world, and the work that I do every day on social justice issues." She says, "My Catholicism is so deeply important to me - it was my sense of connection to the Almighty, to humanity, to my heritage, my upbringing." One thing it doesn't appear to be, for her, is a creed, a statement of truth that she actually believes. So she's able to achieve the remarkable state of "having" a religion she disagrees with.

(Not that she's not right in criticizing the sex abuse scandals-- that was a reprehensible contradiction between what the Church teaches and what some of the clergy actually did, a contradiction that is all too easy to achieve.)

Example two of an odd statement from the media, from the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Touchstone magazine:
"The rise of 'political anti-fundamentalism' is largely a reaction to messages about conservative Christians from the media," while "those most tolerant of others holding moral values different than themselves were also most likely to feel antagonistic toward fundamentalists," reported Religion Watch, summarizing a paper by two political scientists delivered at the meeting of the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics and Culture in early November.
The most tolerant were the most antagonistic? How did they measure "tolerance"-- by self-reporting?

Monday, September 08, 2008

The most Catholic dessert yet!

A group of us had dinner together tonight, and as today was a beautiful feast day, the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we naturally needed a cake. Diep ordered it from a Filipino bakery and had them write "Happy Birthday Mary!" in blue.

The bowl of figs on the table was going to be the feature of this post at first. After all, the fig is highly Biblical (see for example here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) and fruit is about all they had for dessert then, so I figured that's plenty good enough for my little Catholic dessert category. But that was before Diep produced the cake that blew the competition away. :)

Saturday, September 06, 2008


For a mere $8,000 - $37,000, you can buy yourself a hypoallergenic cat.

But even $50,000 won't buy you a cloned kitten any more, now that Genetic Savings & Clone has gone under.

I'll bet none of those cats could beat the one I was snuggling with at my sister's house a few months ago. She was part of a litter of kittens that all had various abnormalities. The vet thinks the mother cat was sick during gestation, and somehow she sensed her litter was defective and she abandoned them all. But my sister fostered them and adopted them all out but Callio. Callio has a smallish head, small eyes, and improperly formed eyelids, and she's expected to have a short lifespan. She's also apparently dumb as a rock. But she lives to snuggle. When I pick her up she's all over me with the licking and head rubbing; you've never seen such an affectionate cat. My sister says it can get old, when she leaps up on your lap after being pushed off for the tenth time in a row!

I used a variant spelling of "meow" in the post title 'cause it looks cooler. :)

ADDENDUM, 9/7/08: My sister is happy to see that Callio is famous, and reminds me of her other abnormalities: some of her teeth never came in, and she constantly uses her tail as a pacifier (you can see the evidence of this in the picture). "But I love her!!" she says.

She also provided pictures of Callio's littermate, Bartok, named for a big-eared bat character in a cartoon. :)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Pray for Christians in India

I learn from The Crescat that Italian bishops have set aside today for fasting and prayer for the Christians now under attack in India. Today's the memorial of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, so a good time to pray for her adopted country!

Thursday, September 04, 2008


The Society of Saint Pius X have a chapel in Arcadia that I pass every morning on my way to work. Just before Summorum Pontificum went into effect, when the only licit traditional Latin Mass I knew of was quite far away, I kept thinking about the nice reverent (though illicit) TLMs that were probably being offered right in my backyard. I asked one of the priests at my parish about it: "You know the SSPX? So, not a good idea to go to their Masses?" "Not a good idea," he agreed. "Although they have a valid Eucharist and their Masses fulfill the Sunday obligation, the danger is that you'd be drawn away from the Church by their teaching. But if you want a traditional Latin Mass, we're going to start one here soon."

They did and I went every Sunday and it was lovely. I remained curious about the SSPX chapel, though. Lure of the forbidden and all, and their church was bound to be beautiful inside, and furthermore, when do I ever get to surround myself with people who'd think of me as a soft-headed liberal?

So yesterday I figured I'd just pop in on my way to work-- Mass would be finished, I could wander around and see the place...

Instead I found the parking lot jam packed, and inside the Mass had lasted an hour already and wasn't nearly over. It was a solemn High Mass! Priest, deacon, subdeacon, a whole flock of altar boys, uniformed schoolgirls in the back reeling off one chant after another, lots and lots of people there in the required dress (shirts and ties for the men, skirts and veils for the women), and all this for a simple weekday morning!

They were just finishing the consecration rite when I entered, so I knelt quietly in a corner through the rest of the Mass. It all looked beautiful but felt discordant, as if the people were quietly breathing out defiance to Rome with every mea culpa. No doubt this reaction came mostly from within me and it feels much different to the SSPXers themselves.

I didn't take out my 1962 missal to try to follow the Latin, since there was so much else to look at. So I didn't realize something until later. You know what day it was on the old calendar, the calendar the SSPX follows? It was the feast of Pope Saint Pius X! The Society's titular feast-- no wonder they pulled out all the stops. How funny that I ended up there on that day of all days!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pigeon hero

At the pier today I looked down at the waves, full of surfers, and saw something flapping in the ocean. It was a pigeon. How it fell in I don't know, but its wings were now too heavy with water for it to take off again. It was flapping hard and nonstop, trying desperately to get away-- a piteous sight. A number of surfers in their fashionable board shorts (has to be fashion; otherwise why on earth would you go swimming in a baggy garment that extends to the knees?) passed the poor pigeon by. I'm not sure but I think they might have been self-conscious about interacting with it when they knew there were lots of people watching from the pier. Finally one young man with a yellow surfboard came along, and after some failed attempts he managed to maneuver his board under the pigeon and pick it up that way. As soon as it was on the board, it stopped flapping. Poor thing must've been exhausted. The guy swam with the pigeon all the way in to shore and left it on a pile of seaweed to dry. He's my hero. It would have ruined the day if no one had rescued the bird!

Happy feast day to meeee...

Sorry I didn't blog this past weekend; it's a sign I was having much fun. On Saturday I was at Prince of Peace Abbey for a day of recollection. I spent much of Sunday in the Northridge area where a nurse friend had her home and a crisis pregnancy center blessed by one of our priests. On Monday I caught up on sleep and promptly lost the regained ground by staying up till midnight chatting with two friends. If you think we might have been talking about you-- we were. :) And today I was celebrating my sister's birthday with family at a restaurant over the water in San Clemente. I imagine I'll mosey on over to work later this evening and set up some BAC cultures... with luck my boss will be there and notice me working late. :)

But that's not what this post is about. This is about something I never knew until a month ago. September 2 is the feast day of Rachel, the one I was named for, the one in the Old Testament who was so beautiful that Jacob worked fourteen years to marry her! I had no idea OT people even had feastdays, but at least in the old calendar they do!

It seems odd to me that Rachel ever got to be such a popular name. I suppose many people who use the name now just like the sound and aren't thinking much of the origin, but for the ones who deliberately pick Bible names (and that included my parents), why on earth pick Rachel? Her one good attribute was beauty and that was hardly any credit to her. She otherwise seems to have been a selfish, unfulfilled, manipulative, idolatrous liar whose husband took one other wife and two concubines (all better at childbearing than she) before she died young and in pain. And none of that matters as long as she had good looks?

Such a common name anyway, and therefore very boring. I don't understand the mentality of those who pick names because they're common. Never let me name a child; I'd go for stuff like Hephzibah for a girl and Melchizedek for a boy.

But anyway, it's nice to have a feast day! You may all pray for me now.