Friday, February 29, 2008

A Canadian's View of Canadian Healthcare

I know I am a bit slow, but I finally got around to reading last month's Imprimis, which featured a great article by Mark Steyn, a Canadian citizen and columnist. Here's his view on Canadian healthcare, lest Americans be fooled by certain politicians claiming all will be well when we have the same system here...

"Canadian dependence on the United States is particularly true in health care, the most eminent Canadian idea looming in the American context. That is, public health care in Canada depends on private health care in the U.S. A small news story from last month illustrates this:

A Canadian woman has given birth to extremely rare identical quadruplets. The four girls were born at a U.S. hospital because there was no space available at Canadian neonatal intensive care units. Autumn, Brook, Calissa, and Dahlia are in good condition at Benefice Hospital in Great Falls, Montana. Health officials said they checked every other neonatal intensive care unit in Canada, but none had space. The Jepps, a nurse and a respiratory technician were flown 500 kilometers to the Montana hospital, the closest in the U.S., where the quadruplets were born on Sunday.

There you have Canadian health care in a nutshell. After all, you can’t expect a G-7 economy of only 30 million people to be able to offer the same level of neonatal intensive care coverage as a town of 50,000 in remote, rural Montana. And let’s face it, there’s nothing an expectant mom likes more on the day of delivery than 300 miles in a bumpy twin prop over the Rockies. Everyone knows that socialized health care means you wait and wait and wait—six months for an MRI, a year for a hip replacement, and so on. But here is the absolute logical reductio of a government monopoly in health care: the ten month waiting list for the maternity ward. "

Can you tell I don't think socialized medicine is a good idea? I came to this conclusion years ago when we were stationed in Germany. I got a double whammy on it... Firstly, I got to see a military wife and friend go through horrible problems related to a botched operation performed in the German system.

Secondly, I saw an American version of socialized medicine in a little microcosm of the military medical system provided for the military families while over there. All the base services were provided free-of-charge to the military families... you had to report for "sick call" if you wanted to see a doctor for any reason (much like the illegal aliens who use the hospital emergency rooms for their primary health care). Since it didn't cost anything, people were lined up there waiting for the most unbelievably minor things. If it had even cost a co-pay of $5, they would, perhaps, have thought twice about wasting their own and a doctor's time going in for their minor ailment...

Anything that is "free" seemingly has no value...

Kansas City Catholic Post...

Check out this great post by Kansas City Catholic... an interesting analogy.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Chant Choir:
We had a very good rehearsal tonight. We are working to get the propers and ordinaries ready for the next time the schola will sing for Mass, on March 30th. We are hoping to do the entire chanted propers for Low Sunday (Quasimodo Sunday), as well as all the ordinaries from Mass VIII (de Angelis). We continue to work on solfege each week using the Text Book of Gregorian Chant by Dom Sunol (available to purchase or download for free at the CMAA site). It has proven to be of great help to me and the schola in getting better at sight-reading the chant notation.

Home Schooling:
My boys are finishing up their first week in their new grades. My new system of planning out their work for the week, printing it out for them to see all at once has worked well so far. In essence, I put down everything they are required to do for the week and tell them that if they finish up all their work early, they'll get more time to play, perhaps even getting to have a very short day on Friday of each week. So, tomorrow being our first Friday, I am finding that they will, indeed, have a much lighter schedule than normal because each boy has done extra earlier in the week to try to finish up a few subjects before Friday.

Thoughts on Preparing for the Next Move:
It is hard to believe we'll soon be getting ready for the next home... I've already begun mentally thinking of all the things that need to be done... As I look in my kitchen pantry, I am thinking about using up as much as possible before then to reduce waste. Looming in my near future is the prospect of sorting through all our stuff -- clearing out closets, drawers, cupboards and trying to eliminate all non-essential items. As I go through this process with each of these occasions, I am always so amazed at how much stuff we have in our home that we rarely use and even had forgotten about. Each time, after I have taken load after load of stuff to Goodwill and given everything away to friends I could, I vow to streamline our living at the next place, the idea being that I could avoid all this discarding the next time around.

It appears that I haven't yet developed the self-discipline to manage that. Keep in mind that I have just this past week added another 54 books to the load... I have to make up for that weight somewhere... Hmmm... what can I discard that is less essential than books?
Rumor has it that we may have a new bishop for the Diocese of Shreveport announced in the next couple of weeks. We have been praying for a good and holy bishop... we anxiously await the announcement.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Read it and Weep!

You paid attention during 100% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Thanks to the Layman over at Back When We Were Liberal.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Reading updates

My four boxes of Great Books arrived yesterday. I will not lack for reading material for quite awhile. I went through the books (1982 ed., it turns out) to see what was added to the later editions (what I was missing, in other words). I found that many of the more modern authors were added, including Moliere, Racine, Voltaire, Diderol, Kierkegaard, Nietzche, Balzac, George Eliot, Twain, Austen, and Ibsen.

In other reading topics, I came upon a copy of the August 2007 Imprimis issue with an article by S. Fred singer [ Professor Emeritus of environmental Sciences, University of Virginia]. I found his article on Global Warming (Global Warming: Man-Made or Natural?) to be very interesting. Aside from his dispute that any significant Man-Made Warming is occurring, he makes a point about whether this matters or not.

His point is that there are significant policy consequences that emanate from this misinterpretation of naturally-occurring warming/cooling cycles. While encouraging energy conservation to reduce waste, save money and lower energy prices, he makes the point that some of these consequences are:

* Regulation of CO2 emissions is pointless and even counterproductive, in that no matter what kind of mitigation scheme is used, such regulation is hugely expensive.

* The development of non-fossil fuel energy sources, like ethanol and hydrogen, might be counterproductive, given that they have to be manufactured, often with the investment of great amounts of ordinary energy. Nor do they offer much reduction in oil imports.

* Wind power and solar power become less attractive, being uneconomic and requiring huge subsidies.

* Substituting natural gas for coal in electricity generation makes less sense for the same reasons.

Singer characterizes much of the discussion about global warming as "hysteria", rather than science. He had quite a few things to say about the various individuals (Al Gore among them) who are directly benefiting from the global warming scare at the expense of the ordinary consumer.

Summarizing, he mentions that "The nations of the world face many difficult problems. Many have societal problems like poverty, disease, lack of sanitation, and shortage of clean water. There are grave security problems arising from global terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Any of these problems are vastly more important than the imaginary problem of man-made global warming. It is a great shame that so many of our resources are being diverted from real problems to this non-problem. Perhaps in ten or 20 years this will become apparent to everyone, particularly if the climate should stop warming (as it has for eight years now) or even begin to cool."

Check out the article and the other issues online...

I also just received my March 2008 issue of This Rock. Since I recently finished reading Augustus, a fictional account based upon the life of Augustus Caesar, I found Carl E. Olson's article Are the Gospels Myth? particularly interesting. At the beginning of the article he makes the point of just how few manuscript copies exist that document many of the historical events that are not questioned by many who are quite skeptical of the historical accuracy of the Gospels. I read this new issue from cover to cover yesterday while working with the boys on their schoolwork.

In the stack of mail that came in after the trip was an update from the Monks of Clear Creek. With great joy I read the account of their move to the new monastery after 35 years of working to that end. They generously send out wonderful recordings of chant made at their Fontgombault Monastery in France a few times per year to benefactors. These CD's are also available for sale at their website. Buy a few CD's and support this beautiful monastery.

I've also taken up reading Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth, which has been sitting on the shelf for a very long time. I note that the original printing was in 1989 (where have I been?). My boys have a board game based upon this book that is great fun. We picked it up in Germany last spring when we were there, and have never seen it in the U.S. in a store. It is called Die Säulen der Erde (and is available online, btw). The boys and my husband have had a great time with the game -- all the cards and instructions are in German, of course, which helps us along with teaching the boys a bit of the language while having fun.

Time to get to schoolwork with the boys for the day... They've officially graduated to the next grades. We started the next grades after we returned from our trip. New books and materials somehow make it a bit more exciting (at least at the outset).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Middle Name Meme

Scelata has tagged me... first time out for me to answer a meme... here goes:

Firstly, here are the rules for this one:

1.You have to post the rules before you give your answers.

2.You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don't have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother's maiden name).

3.At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they've been tagged.)

My husband asked me what middle name I would use in this meme since I have a choice... as a child growing up, my middle name was Louise, the name of one of my Dad's cousins for whom I was named. I actually never cared much for the name (don't really know why), although my entire family still calls me "Jannie-Lou" at times when we are all together. My husband picked up on it and also has carried it on.

When we married, though, I was a bit reluctant to simply jettison my maiden name and didn't like the idea of the hyphenation (he was in the Army -- hyphened names were a seemingly big problem for military folks to handle on any of the military records). So, I dropped Louise and just kept my maiden name as my middle name... so since that is my legal middle name now (and it has fewer letters), I'm using that one -- Floyd.

F -- follower... since being married I have followed my husband to many different places. We just found out that it is very likely that we'll be moving yet again in May. So, I was mentally counting up all the places we have lived and the number of household moves we have made. In 25 years we have moved (to this point) 16 times, which doesn't include the 4 1/2 months' time we lived in the travel trailer following Hurricane Katrina. We have lived in 9 different cities (twice in the same city on different occasions), two different countries, in 5 different states. My oldest little boy has lived in 6 different homes (only 5 for the younger one). Our moving about is likely to continue until my dear husband retires... we are getting very good at packing up, moving and learning about new places, although we are always very sad to leave the friends we make along the way.

L --lucky. I have been blessed with a wonderful husband and two happy, healthy little boys. We had wished to have children for many years (and had actually given up) before our first child came along. Our grandiose plans of having a large family wasn't to be, but we feel quite lucky to have the two we got. Good health, laughter, wonderful friends and family have blessed our lives at every turn. If that isn't lucky, I don't know what is...

O--outspoken. I tend to be fairly blunt and somewhat quick to state my opinions about things. Since that isn't always an admirable trait (and can tend to cause hurt feelings), I have tried to temper my initial instinct and pause a bit before speaking out. I have found that, many times, people really don't want your opinion about every topic (imagine that). Sometimes they just want to tell you what they think about things and have you listen. Also, I have found that some of my opinions are not fit to share with others... it is far more charitable to keep them to myself! All that being said, I have not gained complete mastery of my inclination to speak my mind and cannot seem to help but say what I think when asked. So... be prepared to get the straight truth if you ask me about something.

Y--yarn... goes along with knitting. I learned to knit from a neighbor who lived across the street from us when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I can remember going across the street several times a week for awhile and spending time learning from her the basics of winding a ball of yarn so that you can pull the yarn out from the middle, casting on, knitting, purling and binding off. After that, I was on my own. I learned the rest from knitting books and magazines and have enjoyed it ever since. As a kid, I used to be the one who would make every person in the family a pair of mittens for Christmas... later on I progressed to sweaters... I don't knit as much now as I used to, but I think it is primarily because of the climate where we live. It just doesn't feel like 'knitting weather' when it is hot and humid most of the time :)

D--December 29. My anniversary. It is hard to believe so much time has already passed. It has been a fun life together...

I'm going to tag the following bloggers... check out their blogs...

Mara Joy

Madd Chatter
Matt at Absolutely No Spin
The Layman at Back When We Were Liberal
The Deacon at Back When We Were Liberal

Thanks, Scelata...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Larry the Cable Guy's brother?

As we drove through Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky on our way to the Show of Shows in Louisville, we managed to get caught up in the ice storm hitting the region during our trip. There was reportedly an accident involving as many as 30 vehicles on I-65 near Bowling Green. We were about 6 miles south of the accident when we were stopped completely in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the interstate. After about 30 minutes of inching along, we turned around and took a detour along a side road. Although it lengthened our trip, mileage-wise, it ultimately shortened the time required.

As we were trying to tune in to local stations during our travels, we happened on a local AM station with a show called "Swap Talk" in progress. As we tuned to the station, we didn't catch the comment the caller made, but did hear the host compliment him, saying: "Nice use of the vernacular, there!" The caller didn't miss a beat, but replied "Yeah, my vernacular is just fine. Just had it checked out with the doctor last week."

We thought at first we happened upon a comedy routine, but as the conversation about the fellow's 'vernacular' continued, the host finally interjected: " That was a comment about your use of vocabulary." The host then made a quip about the similarity to humorous misunderstandings about word usage and mentioned the TV show "All in the Family". The caller again misunderstood and starting talking about "Mama's family". He mentioned that various cast members from "Mama's family" would be making a local appearance in the area...

We wondered if he could be related to Larry the Cable Guy (although this guy's humor seemed to be unintended). Traveling through the South has its own special charm.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Family Outing

We are off to (much colder than Louisiana) Louisville, Kentucky. We plan to take in the excitement at the "Show of Shows" Militaria collectors' heaven. My husband, being a history buff and militaria collector, has been looking forward to this trip with great anticipation... I am going along so that the boys can also experience it (but not to the degree my husband wants to experience it since their attention span on this stuff isn't quite up to his level). The boys are very excited and ready for this trip. They worked so very hard on their schoolwork to finish things up before we leave tomorrow that I was feeling very proud of them both today.

I plan to take along some good books, take the boys on a bit of sightseeing in Louisville and a few kid-type outings while my husband examines as much WWII stuff as he can during our stay there. I don't really know anything about the area (other than basic info. about the Louisville slugger museum and the nearby Science Museum). I would love to put a visit to a wonderful Catholic church on my list of places to visit, but haven't had a chance to research it yet (suggestions welcome). I did a quick search and found the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville. Perhaps we'll at least try to visit there.

We'll probably also visit the Ft. Knox tank museum on the trip (I have visited there -- more than once -- so I know that will be fun!). Methinks there could be a little bit of indoctrination of little boys happening in our family!

I was thinking about how very supportive and encouraging my dear husband is with all the chant and music stuff I spend my time on... he appreciates it a great deal, but doesn't feel any need to get into the detail of actually learning how to read neumes, etc. I feel the same way about his militaria. I appreciate it and am glad it brings him pleasure, but don't really keep up on the latest ebay listings for 17th Airborne gear.

If you read this, we'd appreciate a little prayer for a safe journey...

Monday, February 18, 2008

More books...

My stack is getting higher... just purchased a set of books I've wanted for a few years and have been sort of watching for... Great Books of the Western World. The set I will be receiving was from a friend and fellow home schooling mom in southern Louisiana. It is the older edition and only includes 54 books, as opposed to the current edition (which has 60 books). I'll pull out my old copy of Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book and try to read more effectively...

Happily, the collection contains many books I've long wished to read and never got to... among them:

Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica

Cervantes' Don Quixote

Jane Austen's Emma

Dickens' Little Dorrit

Darwin's Origen of the Species and The Descent of Man

Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karazamov

plus many others...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Jane Austen

This weekend, I watched the DVD Becoming Jane, a romantic film about the private life of Jane Austen. Probably a great deal of the story had to have been complete fiction, but presumably it was based upon a romance between Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy. I was very impressed with the transformation of Anne Hathaway in the film. I didn't see much of "Ella Enchanted" or "The Devil Wears Prada" in it. Admittedly, I still think "That'll do, pig" whenever I see James Cromwell in a film, even when playing president of the U.S.

It has rekindled my interest in Austen's novels. I have to now add her novels to my list of books to re-read... Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey. I haven't read them all... more books on the wish list...

It was actually very refreshing to see a movie where the main characters ended up doing the honorable and unselfish thing... I won't spoil the show for you, but here is the movie trailer:

Isn't Universal Healthcare Great? Just ask the Canadians...

In Canada, the Schiavo case with an outrageous twist
By Jonathan Rosenblum
An elderly Orthodox Jew is on life support. His children have adamantly opposed his removal from the ventilator and feeding tube, on the grounds that Jewish law expressly forbids any action designed to shorten life. If their father could express his wishes, they say, he would certainly oppose the doctors acting to deliberately terminate his life. The director of the ICU told the children that neither their father's wishes nor their own are relevant, and he would do whatever he decided was appropriate.

Yes, the issue of sanctity of life is a slippery slope, isn't it? We are on the same path here in the U.S. Let's keep in mind that Canada has that wonderful thing -- Universal Healthcare. We should also remember that with it comes many things that aren't so wonderful, this example of lack of personal choice among them. It is so imperative that we vote accordingly...

Read the entire story by clicking on the link above.

Thanks to Inside Catholic.

Book list

Original posting (2/15/08)
Well... I hadn't actually ordered any new books for awhile prior to this week, since I have had a foot-high stack on my bedroom dresser waiting for me for quite awhile. Over the past 2 months, I have worked my way through a great many of them. Some were 'junk food' books, silly novels with very little redeeming value other than the momentary enjoyment.

I'm still working on the book Augustus, by Anthony Everitt. I am enjoying it very much, not having spent a great deal of time studying this particular period in history in the past. I highly recommend it.

So, I am getting close to the bottom of the stack, although my in-progress reading of Crime and Punishment is still looming in my future. Today I ordered three new books for future reading:

They are:

Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis
Christ the Lord, the Road to Cana, by Anne Rice
The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesterton

I must admit, I would never have thought of reading Anne Rice's new book had it not been for the positive review that was given it by Richard John Neuhaus in First Things. I had read a few pages from her previous foray into the world of the non-vampire in her book Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt not long after it was initially published. I was a bit dismayed with her (fictional) portrayal of a story of how Jesus (as a boy in Egypt) caused another child to die (in a fit of pique). Now, I must say that her story line included Jesus bringing the boy back to life (and making everything fine), but that bit of artistic license convinced me not to continue reading the book.

So, I am taking Richard John Neuhaus' positive review on faith and hoping it will turn out better this time. The other two have been on my wish list for some time... I know I won't be disappointed.

Also in my book-reading stack are books on herbal remedies for children... bridge-playing techniques on bidding... yes, my taste is somewhat eclectic!
Postscript and update (2/17/08):
Firstly, I am honored that you visited my blog, Ms. Rice. I very much appreciate your taking the time to tell me about the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. I had done a quick online search of various apocryphal gospels after the posting by Scelata to try to find the account (of Jesus causing a child to die) in order to read the source text and had not had any success.
I found the text of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas online very interesting, although apocryphal. I was made a bit uneasy by the actual text, which has several accounts of Jesus’ purported ‘killing off’ of teachers/playmates that annoyed him. The same sort of reaction I had from my initial read of the account in Anne Rice’s first book about Jesus came to me when I read the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. The immediate reaction I had was that it just couldn’t be true. It does have that feel of a depiction of a pagan ‘child-god’, as referred to by Geoff Trowbridge in the excerpt below.
Following is an introduction by Geoff Trowbridge from the site I found:
“The Infancy Gospel of Thomas was probably the first of many attempts by the early Christians to document the first twelve years of Jesus's life, bridging the gap left in the second chapter of Luke. The original language of the text is unknown—Greek or Syriac are probable—but the story was popular enough to survive in numerous translations, redactions, and parallel stories, including several Egyptian infancy gospels, as late as the Protestant Reformation. The text may have influenced the authors of the Koran.
The gospel's portrayal of Jesus, though perhaps alarming to more orthodox sensibilities, would have been quite familiar to early Gentiles, as the young Christ displays all the precociousness, cleverness, and even destructiveness of the child-gods in pagan mythology. In the early passages of the story, Jesus shows a disturbing tendency to kill off his playmates when they displease him. He eventually learns to channel his divine abilities in more constructive ways and realizes his calling, culminating in the trip to the Jerusalem temple closely paralleled in Luke 2:41-52.
Claims of apostolic authorship were most likely a secondary development within the Syriac church, where most of the traditions surrounding Thomas originated. The oldest surviving text is a Syriac text from the sixth century, but the earliest known reference to the gospel was an unnamed citation by Iranæus c.185 C.E. Later references by Hippolytus and Origen may refer to the Infancy Gospel or the Gospel of Thomas, both of which were viewed as heretical due to their use by Gnostic Christians.”
I certainly understand that a certain amount of license must be taken in order to fill out a possible story of Jesus’ childhood, since there is very little about it in the Bible. After Mel Gibson’s amazing Passion of the Christ, I was very interested in the book he purportedly used as his inspiration for many of the details of his film – The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, from the Visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich. I found this account by a mystic very interesting and, in some ways, inspiring. It led me to continue reading more of her accounts, including The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Light on Light. However, with those accounts I cannot recall reading anything that seemed in contradiction with things we knew from the Bible or Church Tradition.
That being said, I still find the depiction of the child Jesus in this apocryphal 'gospel' as petulant and as doing violence on several occasions irreconcilable with the Jesus we know from the Gospels. This portrayal of Jesus as a person with this destructiveness and petulant anger would be more understandable if not for the fact that we know he was a child without the effects of original sin with which the rest of us are plagued. This tendency toward quick anger and the lack of humility displayed in these stories (with his teachers) doesn’t seem to coincide with our Divine Lord. The fact that the apocryphal books were condemned by the Church and not considered worthy of reading by Christians makes stories built around them troublesome.
I am certainly not a scholar in this field, so I acknowledge that I have a great deal yet to learn about the writings of the early Church fathers and the bulk of the Traditional writings of the Church. I would find it very interesting to hear what theological scholars have to say about the possible truth to these legends and how they either agree or are in disagreement with what we do know or can logically infer about Jesus’ life.I look forward with great anticipation to reading this new book! I’ll read it carefully and also pay close attention to any and all notes and bibliography provided.
Again, thanks very much, Ms. Rice.


I got a bit curious about the Benediction, so did a wee bit of research in a wonderful resource I have here at home. The book is: Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite: The Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours, by Peter J. Elliott (Ignatius Press).

From Article 34 (p. 12), we find (emphasis mine):

Close to the families of his community, the pastor recognizes the human need to celebrate occasions and events, to celebrate times, seasons, saints, heroes and heroines, joys and sorrows. He exploits the variety of the Church Year, the range of votive Masses and celebrations for special occasions. He leads his people in public eucharistic adoration and Benediction. He wants to share his own celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours with them when this is possible. These are a few examples, incluced in this manual, which indicate the creative use of the treasury of worship that is placed at our disposal by the Church.

From Article 665 (p. 246), comes more information:

The ordinary minister of exposition is a bishop, priest or deacon. Only a bishop, priest or deacon may give the blessing with a monstrance, ciborium or pyx, which is known popularly as "Benediction". However, the bishop may authorize an acolyte, an extraordinary minister or a male or female religious to expose and repose the Blessed Sacrament for a just pastoral reason.

Articles 667 (p. 246) (as noted)

When the monstrance is used, for solemn public adoration, the following preparations are required:

668 (p. 247): Altar: Six or four candles (more according to widespread custom) burn on or around the altar. At least one cloth is on the altar, and the corporal is either spread or folded (in a burse). The monstrance is placed to the left of the corporal. Flowers may be arranged on or near the altar. A white antependium would be appropriate. A throne or "tabor stand" may be placed on the altar for the monstrance.

669: Tabernacle: The key, two candles burning if it is in a separate chapel or area.

670: Altar steps: The book of the rite of Benediction, incense boat and the bell may be placed here. The white humeral veil is folded neatly nearby, preferably on its own stand.

671: Ambo: Lectionary or books for readings or meditations, homilies, etc., if they are to be used during the time of adoration. A white antependium or lectern fall would be approprate.

672: Chair: Office book marked, if the Liturgy of the Hours is to be celebrated.

673: Sacristy: Thurible prepared, torches for the torch bearers. White cope and stole for the celebrant (dalmatic and stole for assistant deacon[s]) and albs or surplices.

674 (p. 248): A deacon, or two deacons, may assist the priest, wearing the dalmatic (or the cope if this was worn at Vespers immediately before Benediction). a priest in alb, or cassock and surplice, and stole may assist the celebrant, functioning in the same way as the assisting deacon. At least two servers assist, one acting as an M.C. (master of ceremonies), the other as the thurifer. Up to six torch bearers may customarily assist at this rite. However, in a case of necessity, one well-trained server may suffice if a stand is used for the thurible and boat.

677: Having reverenced the crucifix or image in the sacristy, all go in procession to the altar of exposition. The procession is led by the thurifer carrying the thurible, but without incense in it. The torch bearers carry torches in their outside hands, followed by the M.C. An assistant priest precedes the celebrant. A deacon walks on his right; two deacons may walk on each side of him, if this is convenient.
678 (p. 249): On arrival at the sanctuary, the thurifer goes over to the right side, the torch bearers part to allow the M.C. and clergy to pass them and arrange themselves across the sanctuary or in some other way. The celebrant, M.C. (on his left), assisting deacon or priest (on his right) bow to the altar or genuflect to the tabernacle. All kneel on the steps and pavement at the front of the altar, which is the preferable area for these rites.
679: The deacon or assistant priest (or lacking these, the celebrant) goes to the altar and unfolds the corporal, if it is not already spread there. He goes to the tabernacle. However, if this is in a separate chapel, he first puts on the humeral veil, assisted by the M.C. Then he goes to the chapel, preceded by torch bearers carrying cancles. He unlocks the tabernacle, genuflects, and takes out the pyx containing the Host. He locks and tabernacle and brings the pyx to the altar of exposition (preceded by the torch bearers, if he comes from the chapel). He places the pyx on the corporal, moves the monstrance onto the left side of the corporal, turns it towards him and opens it. He takes the lunette out of the pyx and carefully places the Host in the monstrance. Then he reverently and precisely places the monstrance at the center of the corporal or on the throne. He closes the empty pyx and sets it aside to the right of the corporal. He genuflects, both hands resting on the altar. He returns to his place on the bottom step and kneels.
680: An appropriate eucharistic hymn of adoration is sung, such as "O salutaris Hostia". The celebrant, (deacon[s], M.C. and thurifer stand. The celebrant turns to this right; the thurifer faces him and offers the open thurible; the deacon or M.C. facing the altar presents the open boat and spoon, holding back the cope from the celebrant's right hand while incense is prepared and blessed. The celebrant turns to the altar and kneels. The thurifer (or deacon) on his right, passes the thurible to him. Kneeling, all bow, and the celebrant incenses the Eucharist with three double swings. The deacon or thurifer and the M.C. hold back his cope to free his hands during the incensations. All bow and the celebrant hands the thurible to the deacon or thurifer. All may remain kneeling in silent prayer at this point, whatever options are chosen for the time of adoration.
The Time of Adoration
681 (p. 250). The Liturgy of the Hours, especially Lauds or Vespers, may be celebrated before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. ...
682. Other possibilities during the time of adoration include: Scripture readings (from the ambo or elsewhere), homilies related to the Eucharist, appropriate hymns, reflective music, litanies, intercessions, a para-liturgy, a novena, popular devotions in harmony with the season, and the Holy Rosary. However, there should always be generous provision for silent prayer before the Lord.
683 (p. 251). During the time of exposition, the following customary principles may well be observed: (1) Silence is maintained always. (2) No one ever sits or stands with his back to the monstrance. (3) The genuflection (double where prescribed) is made whenever passing the monstrance or on entering and leaving the sanctuary even at the side. (4) In the santuary, clergy adoring the Eucharist wear choir dress or an alb (with a white stole, if customary). (5) If Mass without a congregation has to be celebrated in a chapel or at a side altar, the bell is not rung at the elevations.
684. Unless they are already gathered there for prayers, the celebrant and servers come before the altar and genuflect. All kneel as at the beginning of exposition, and a suitable hymn of adoration, such as "Tantum ergo", is sung. (It is customary for all to bow during the second line of "Tantum ergo", at the words "veneremur cernui".) At a convenient time before the final verse of the hymn, incense is prepared as at the beginning of exposition and the Blessed Sacrament is incensed.
685. The celebrant alone stands to sing "Let us pray" and one of the seven collects provided in the rite. During the collect, he either holds the book himself or, preferably, the deacon stands on his right holding it, so that he can intone the collect with hands joined. Towards the end of the prayer, the M.C. or a server gets the humeral veil and waits at the side, holding it in both hands near the clasps or tapes. As soon as the celebrant kneels, the server comes behind him, genuflects and places the veil over his shoulders. The celebrant secures it at the front with the clasp or tapes. He enfolds his hands in it and joins them. He stands and goes up to the altar, to the place in front of or behind the altar from where he will bless the assembly.
686 (p. 252). He genuflects, with his hands resting on the altar, then he takes the monstrance in both his veiled hands. Thurning by his right towards the people, if necessary, and saying nothing, he slowly makes the sign of the cross over the assembly, keeping his eyes fixed on the sacred Host throughout the action. First he raises the monstrance so that the Host is well above eye-level, then he lowers it and, turning to the left, moves it across to the right, the Host slightly above eye-level. Then he moves it back to the center and lowers it slightly. ...(the instructions continue)
687 (p. 253). If a deacon or priest assists, he comes to the altar with the celebrant and genuflects with him. The celebrant stands slightly away from the altar, as the assistant takes the monstrance and places it in his veiled hands, so that the front of the vessel faces out. Then the deacon or priest kneels on the right of the celebrant, on the top step, during the blessing. He may hold back the cope. If two deacons assist, both come to the altar and kneel for the blessing, during which they may hold back the cope. Then the deacon takes the monstrance from the celebrant and places it on the altar. Both genuflect together, before returning to their places at the center of the sanctuary.
688. While the celebrant receives the humeral veil, the thurifer may come to the center of the sanctuary. During the Cucharistic Blessing, he incenses the Eucharist, kneeling, with three double swings, bowing before and after the incensation. (He may remain at his place for these incensations.) According to local custom, the M.C. or a server rings the bell three times, keeping pace with the blessing, or appropriate organ music may be played. After the celebrant has placed the monstrance on the altar, thr thurifer stands and returns to his place, to the right of the celebrant or deacon. According to custom or national or diocesan directive, the Divine Prasis may be said or sung while the celebrant remains kneeling.
690 (p. 254). If the Blessed Sacrament is to be reposed in the tabernacle, then (after the Divine Praises and) during a psalm, hymn, acclamation or appropriate music, the celebrant or the assisting deacon or priest goes to the altar. He genuflects, turns the back of the monstrance towards himself, removes the lunette and places it in the pyx, which he closes. He moves the monstrance to the left of the corporal and may veil it. He then takes the pyx and places it in the tabernacle, genuflecting before he locks the door. (If the tabernacle is in a chapel, a server should place a humeral veil over the shoulders of the celebrant or the assistant deacon or priest before he removes the lunette from the monstrance. Torch bearers should precede him to the chapel and then return with him to the sanctuary, unless it is though more convenient to go directly to the sacristy.) All bow to the altar (or genuflect if the tabernacle is behind or on it) and return to the sacristy led by the thurifer. Sacristans and/or servers carry out their respective duries in the sactuary and in the sacristy.
I really recommend this book for your home reference library... it is great for questions such as this one about Benediction.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Stations of the Cross

This evening, my family again attended the parish Stations of the Cross, followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction. Although I didn't grow up participating in this devotion, I have come to love it since I've learned about it. My sweet little boy, who is an altar server, was happy to be one of the candle bearers during the Stations. The candles they carry are actually pretty heavy... big brass (beautiful) things with the danger of fire at the top. I noticed this evening that it was actually a pretty hard thing for those two little boys to carry and hold those candles during the entire 14 stations. They did well. I was thinking 'preparation for the priesthood'... my husband was thinking that it was great preparation for standing at attention at West Point for 45 minutes for inspection in the ranks with a 12 pound weapon.

2008 Catholic Blog Awards

Nominations opened today at NOON for the 2008 Catholic Blog Awards.
Nominations for the 2008 Catholic Blog Awards will open this year at 12:00 Noon CST on Friday, February 15, 2008 and close on Friday, February 29, 2008 at 12:00 Noon CST. Voting will begin on Monday, March 3, 2008 at 12:00 Noon CST and end on Monday, March 17, 2008 at Noon.

Thanks to Adoro te devote for this update and link.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Designer Universe

In a phone conversation my mother mentioned an article she had greatly enjoyed in the most recent issue of Columbia magazine (put out by the Knights of Columbus) which, it turns out, I liked a great deal also. Aside: My husband was unwittingly initiated into a chapter years ago [that's another story -- he thought he was just visiting a meeting to see what it was like and found out he was being initiated!]. Needless to say, he hasn't been the most active member over the years, but he does pay his dues and receives the magazine.

I am the reader of Catholic magazines around our house... my husband prefers to let me just give him a short synopsis of the worthier articles rather than going to the trouble of reading them himself... it is a good arrangement. It gives me a chance to talk to him about things I've read and enjoyed and he likes the shortened versions.

So, in this latest Columbia magazine the main article my mother and I enjoyed was the article by Dinesh D'Souza (author of What's So Great About Christianity). In it, D'Souza gives just a bit of information about how finely-tuned our universe is... and the fact that physics shows that we are here for a purpose... One particularly great part involves his refutation of the idea that "The universe is an accident." [attributed to Physicist Victor Stenger in his book Not By Design] . He also quotes Physicist Steven Weinberg and biologist Richard Dawkins (who seem to be in agreement with Stenger).

A small excerpt:

An accident? Physicist Steven Weinberg and biologist Richard Dawkins are not impressed by the improbability of this explanation. According to Weinberg, "You don't have to invoke a benevolent designer to explain why we are in one of the parts of the universe where life is possible: In all the other parts of the universe there is no one to raise the question." Dawkins concurs: "It is no accident that our kind of life finds itself on a planet whose temperature, rainfall and everything else are exactly right. If the planet were suitable for another kind of life, it is that kind of life that would have evolved here." In science this is called a "selection effect." Since we are here, we know that -- whatever the odds -- the game of cosmic chance must have worked in our favor.

There is a problem with this reasoning that I would like to dramatize by giving an example from the philosopher John Lesle. Imagine a man sentenced to death standing before a firing squad. The shooters discharge their rifles. Somehow they all miss. They shoot again, and again fail to hit their target. Repeatedly they fire and repeatedly they miss. Later the prisoner is approached by the warden who says, "I can't believe they all missed. Clearly there is some sort of conspiracy at work." Yet the prisoner laughs and says, "What on earth would make you suggest a conspiracy? It's no big deal. Obviously the marksmen missed because if they had not missed I would not be here to have this discussion." Such a prisoner would immediately, and rightly, be transferred to the mental ward.

Simply put, you cannot explain an improbability of this magnitude by simply point to our presence on the scene to ponder it. You must still account for the massive improbability. Remember that the anthropic principle does not say that, given the billions of stars in the universe, it is remarkable that life turned up on our planet. Rather, it says that the entire universe with all the galaxies and stars in it had to be formed in a certain way in order for it to contain life at all.

I have enjoyed other books and articles by D'Souza... I look forward to reading his new book... I'd also recommend another book about the ongoing debate between atheist Darwinists and those on the other side of the fence -- Michael J. Behe's The Edge of Evolution, The Search for the Limits of Darwinism. I read it awhile back and enjoyed his very detailed discussion of random mutation and selection.

Monday, February 11, 2008

150th Anniversary of Lourdes Apparitions

The boys and I plan to head to daily Mass in just a little while on this, the 150th anniversary of the 1st appearance of Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette. For your reading pleasure, I direct you to the following site: , where a complete write up is there.

My husband and I visited Lourdes on a pilgrimage with members of our military parish stationed in Fulda, Germany back in about 1986 or so... we also went to Nevers to see St. Bernadettes's incorrupt body at the Church of St. Gildard. Absolutely amazing...

L-Mart Products...

Detach-Ment works the opposite of normal cement products that helps to attach two things together. Detach-Ment helps you to detach yourself from undue affections and from sensate satisfactions so that everything is properly ordered to God.Use the included brush included in the cap to brush on detach-ment from an item or person you to whom you are disorderly attached. Detach-Ment is also safe to place on foods and home entertainment products!... whether it is necessary, in order to attain this high estate of perfection, to undergo first of all mortification in all the desires, great and small, or whether it will suffice to mortify some of them and to leave others, those at least which seem of little moment. For it seems to be a severe and most difficult thing for the soul to be able to attain to such purity and detachment that it has no will and affection for anything. But you will be surprised at how a dab of Detach-Ment will help your ascent to Mt. Carmel. -St. John of the Cross.
Thanks to the Curt Jester for this... see all the other L-Mart products there...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

One Fabulous Weekend...

It was a wonderful weekend... We began by attending the Stations of the Cross followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction on Friday. Our parish has this every week during Lent, which we try to make as often as we can. This week was a special one. Because of the 150th Anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes, we also venerated the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes at the end of the Benediction. There was also the opportunity for confession (with four priests) after. The lines were long... many parishioners were hoping for the plenary indulgences and taking advantage of the opportunity for confession. When there are more priests than confessionals available, it offers the opportunity for parents to watch (from a distance, of course) when our little ones make their confession. I have to say I particularly enjoyed seeing the priest kneel down so he could be face to face with my little seven-year old while hearing his confession. We all went home with clean souls...

Saturday morning began early for me. I had to get up about 5:45 to start getting my voice warmed up for singing at Mass. Our pastor was saying his first Extraordinary form Low Mass at 7:30 am. There were two other priests from out of town, one learning along with our pastor, and another helping both of them learn. It was a private Mass, so there were only a handful of people in the pews. The altar servers (who had spent a good amount of time on Thursday and Friday learning how to serve) did a great job. Since it was a low Mass, the music was fairly minimal, but I was asked to sing four chants for it (no accompaniment -- just my little voice). They were:

Parce, Domine
Attende, Domine
Adoro te, Devote
and Ave Maris Stella

It was very solemn, holy,and with a lot more silence than we are used to in the Novus Ordo Mass. I am hoping that I'll get emailed some photos of the beautiful altar that I can post later. The altar was arranged with a beautiful marble crucifix and six beautiful tall candles, three on each side of the crucifix.

I was able to go out for coffee with a very good friend after Mass -- a real treat to get to have some girl-talk without the kids around to chase.

Then, we had a very relaxing and fun weekend -- the boys were happy they got to play outside in their swim trunks and make a huge mess in the yard with the garden hose... yes, it is already quite warm here in Louisiana... and had a neighbor boy over to assist. I took the time to find the bottom of my desk (hasn't happened for awhile prior to this) and tried to work on organization...

This evening was the topper of it all... Mass at 5:30 was especially nice. Singers from the Centenary College choir were guest singers for the Mass. They did a beautiful job... wonderful a cappella pieces, and very simple accompaniment for the Mozart Ave Verum as a meditation piece after Communion. They do such a fine job, I tried my best to sing unobtrusively (as cantor) so that the parishioners could enjoy that beautiful sound. My oldest boy was also serving at Mass, so that also is a special treat for me to watch. After Mass, my husband and boys and I went to dinner... a great time was had by all.

Ending the day, we pulled out the holy candles, got our picture of Our Lady of Lourdes out, prayed day 8 of the Novena, a prayer for the Pope's intentions... and then talked about who we were offering prayers for...

It was a great weekend... I hope to post pictures later on...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gregorian Chant is a Blessing to the Church

I had a sort of epiphany recently. In the recent few months, I have been letting myself get upset when things didn't go perfectly in my little chant world. Let's face it -- how often does everything go perfectly anyway? Well, it was making me crabby and narrow-minded and negative about things completely unrelated to it... Then, for some unknown reason, I suddenly began to see it in a different light.

Awhile back, I read a book about household (and life) organization by a woman who calls herself "flylady". She would get flashes of inspiration her husband named 'God-breezes'. One of her pearls of wisdom had to do with housework and (roughly paraphrased) went like this: "All housework, even when done imperfectly, blesses your home."

What I am thinking goes along those same lines... all Gregorian chant sung as part of a Roman Catholic liturgy, even when sung imperfectly, blesses the Church. In other words, whether I think the phrasing is exactly right on, or whether the choir members are being taught the theory behind reading the notation, or whether I like the organ accompaniment is all irrelevant to the greater good of the Church!

Now, I would like it better if it were perfectly beautiful each and every time our parishioners heard chant... and that is what we must strive toward... but in the meantime, it is still a blessing. Having this attitude is helping me a great deal.
Postscript: And I also have to realize and accept the limitations of what I personally can do in the promotion of chant singing and the training of others... I am not in charge! At the same time, those of us working toward the greater good must not be faint-hearted when hard times and obstacles are put in our paths. We have to cheerfully muddle on, humbly accepting the opportunities we have to move forward, as well as those occasions when it isn't possible.

Rocky Mountain Region Sacred Music Workshop Recordings

Many thanks to Carl Diershow for these great recordings from the Colorado Springs Sacred Music Workshop (Jan 18-19). I was ready to record myself, trying to get some experience in using my Zoom H4, only to discover that I was out of space on the memory chip (bad planning on my part).

If Ye Love Me (Tallis)

Kyrie XI (Orbis Factor)

Sanctus XI (Orbis Factor)

Jubilate Deo (Lassus)

As with many recordings, these don't quite do justice to the beautiful sound we got being there, but it is easy to see what a great job Scott Turkington and Dr. Horst Buchholz did in teaching a bunch of folks how to sing chant and polyphony in a very short amount of time. A great number of the attendees had no experience in singing chant or reading the notation... the results speak well for the possibility of teaching people how to sing chant quickly. Hear the entire list of recordings at:

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Monday, February 4, 2008

Catholics and Politics -- Papal Reminders of the Non-negotiables

From Rorate-Caeli:

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable.Among these the following emerge clearly today:

[FIRST NON-NEGOTIABLE]- protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

[SECOND NON-NEGOTIABLE]- recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family - as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage - and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

[THIRD NON-NEGOTIABLE]- the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity.The Church’s action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have. On the contrary, such action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, because this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself.
Benedict XVI

Sunday, February 3, 2008

When is Stupidity a Sin?

I know... it's been a busy day for posting... but so much good stuff is out there... you really have to read Alice von Hildebrand's article in the latest Inside Catholic Digest... Here are a few choice excerpts to whet your reading appetite...

Dr. von Hildebrand writes about the late G. K. Chesterton:

“In his autobiography, G. K. Chesterton writes, “A large section of the Intelligentsia seems wholly devoid of intelligence.” At first, this surprising indictment might be interpreted as merely humorous; after all, are not “intellectuals” those to whom we turn for enlightenment and guidance, those who are the luminaries of universities – castles of knowledge and wisdom? But upon thinking about it, one is bound to come to an inevitable conclusion: The places of “higher learning” have also been the nurseries of the most ponderous errors and the most devastating heresies that have plagued our world.”

She goes on to say:

“The blue-collar worker is very unlikely to have any illusions about the quality of his work: If a carpenter makes a set of drawers that does not close, he knows he has done a bad job. If the food prepared by a cook is unpalatable, the culprit knows that he should go back to cooking school… Blunt, tangible results are more eloquent than words. The punishment is on the tailcoat of the fault.

Things are very different in the religious, spiritual, intellectual, and artistic spheres. These are domains in which we find both the greatest accomplishments and the greatest aberrations.”

She goes on to describe how, in the history of philosophy,

“...intellectuals have given us many errors and ‘stupidities’. In her words: “The tragedy is that those making these catastrophic mistakes are blessed (or cursed) with a great amount of what Plato calls “cleverness.” They readily find arguments to buttress their position, however indefensible, because they are “glib,” well-trained in rhetoric and know how to hypnotize a gullible public by brilliance and pseudo-depth.

As a result, some of the most disastrous philosophical errors are not always easy to diagnose. One of the most successful means of spreading error is to couch it in such complicated language that many will swallow it because they assume that if they do not understand a text, it must be because “it is way above their heads” and therefore remarkable.”

Another excerpt:

“Why are errors so appealing to the human mind? The answer is original sin: Man’s mind has been darkened, and moreover, every error is tempting because it gives its perpetrator a feeling of intellectual fecundity. Creativity is flattering. One feels good about oneself—“This has never been seen before me.” In fact, it is true that anyone inventing a new error fully deserves to be given a patent: it is truly his own. On the other hand, any thinker who is granted to highlight a truth must acknowledge that it is not his own. “

So… Dr. von Hildebrand leads the readers to the key question of whether or not stupidity can ever dubbed a sin. She speaks of the usual meaning the word stupidity has for us and the fact that charity is called for on the part of those who are “sharp” when we consider those with a “lack of intelligence, a heaviness of mind preventing some people from grasping what is self evident, obvious, or easy to grasp; an opacity of mind for which, we may assume, those afflicted by it have not responsibility.”

She points to a different sort of problem of “stupidity”. She is pointing to a sort of “intelligentsia” that has a “superior education” and people who are ‘intellectual leaders whose views we should respect’. She quotes Chesterton in The Man Who Was Thursday as follows: “The dangerous criminal is the educated criminal. We say that the most dangerous criminal now is the entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral men; my heart goes out to them.”

We have many examples in her article of modern philosophers whose ‘minds have derailed’. One such example is Simone de Beauvoir. A quote:

“Simone de Beauvoir writes in The Second Sex (not surprisingly on the bestseller list): “The law forbidding abortion in unmoral, since it is necessarily bound to be violated every day, every hour.” Her claim could make some sense if applied to purely positive human laws: “Dogs not allowed in the park.” What about murder, theft, or rape? What about the abuses against women that she condemns and rightly so? Should not the law prohibiting these abominable deeds be abolished, because every newspapaer daily informs us that they are constantly taking place?”

She gives us another example in the person of Christopher Hitchens, particularly in his book God is Not Great. She brings up the rather humorous fact that, since the author is an atheist it is a bit strange that he would use this title. To quote her: “… the author seems to forget for a moment that he is an atheist – someone whose dogma is that “god” does not exist. Obviously, if this is the case, to attribute any “size” to him is utter nonsense.”

As with Alice von Hildebrand’s other writing, this article shows that she has a keenness of mind and the wit to battle the ‘clever’ philosphers who lack the light of truth.

The first book of hers I read was The Privilege of Being a Woman in around 2002 or 2003. I was lucky enough to hear her speak in Albuquerque around that time. She is a brave and wonderful woman of faith, one of a seemingly very small minority in the field of philosophy…

What a great beginning to the weekly Inside Catholic digest!

Modern Ugliness to Classical Beauty in Fifteen Minutes

So your altar is a modern monstrosity... don't despair... it can be fixed (and quickly). See this example from Inside Catholic.

EWTN Lourdes Novena

Ave Maria by Seraphim

It's an appropriate piece on the 1st day of the Novena...

Pope Benedict XVI Announces Plenary Indulgence for 150th Anniversary of Lourdes Apparitions

Pope Benedict XVI has announced that a plenary indulgence is available to Catholics who travel to Lourdes during the coming year, for the 150th anniversary of the Marian apparitions there.
The indulgence is available to those who, under the usual conditions, make a pilgrimage to Lourdes between December 8 of this year and the same date in 2008. The pilgrimage should include visits to the famous Massabielle grotto at Lourdes where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous, the Soubirois family home, and the places where St. Bernadette was baptized and received her First Communion.

A plenary indulgence is also available to those who venerate an image of Our Lady of Lourdes at any church or chapel between February 2 and February 11 of 2008, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The indulgences were announced in a decree made public on December 5 and signed by Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, and his deputy, Bishop Gianfranco Girotti. [The exact terms of the decree are reproduced below.]
For those who are unable to make a pilgrimage because of ill health or some other reason, the indulgence may be obtained if, under the usual conditions, they "spiritually visit the above-mentioned places" and offer their prayers on the days February 2 through 11, 2008.

The decree indicates that Pope Benedict wishes to "draw increased fruits of renewed sanctity" from the anniversary celebrations at Lourdes. It notes "the innumerable series of prodigies through which the supernatural life of souls and the health of bodies has drawn great advantage from the omnipotent goodness of God" at Lourdes over the years. The usual conditions for a plenary indulgence are sacramental Confession and reception of Holy Communion within a week, prayer for the intentions of the Roman Pontiff, and freedom from attachment to sin. The particular terms of the indulgence announced on December 5 are:

A) If between December 8, 2007 and December 8, 2008 they visit, preferably in the order suggested:
(1) the parish baptistery used for the Baptism of Bernadette,
(2) the Soubirous family home, known as the 'cachot,'
(3) the Grotto of Massabielle,
(4) the chapel of the hospice where Bernadette received First Communion,
and on each occasion they pause for an appropriate length of time in prayer and with pious meditations, concluding with the recital of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith, ... and the jubilee prayer or other Marian invocation.

B) "If between February 2, 2008 ... and February 11, 2008, Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes and 150th anniversary of the apparition, they visit, in any church, grotto or decorous place, the blessed image of that same Virgin of Lourdes, solemnly exposed for public veneration, and before the image participate in a pious exercise of Marian devotion, or at least pause for an appropriate space of time in prayer and with pious meditations, concluding with the recital of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith, ... and the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes
Day 1
O Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, virgin and mother, queen of heaven, chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the Eternal Word and in virtue of this title preserved from original sin, we kneel before you as did little Bernadette at Lourdes and pray with childlike trust in you that as we contemplate your glorious appearance at Lourdes, you will look with mercy on our present petition and secure for us a favorable answer to the request for which we are making this novena. (make your request)
O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.
Our Lady or Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.
Some information about indulgences:
Indulgences: What And Why?

Eternal punishment for mortal sin cannot be removed by indulgences: only the infinite power of Christ can do that in the soul of someone who is truly contrite. It is the non-eternal punishment that is the subject of indulgences, and here, even the non-infinite contributions of our older siblings can contribute.

An "indulgence" means taking away the after-effects of sin when the guilt is already forgiven. An indulgence is an action on the part of the Church to spread the treasury amassed by Christ and by our older siblings to the less fortunate members of the family of God.

Why does the Church want us to gain indulgences? First, they help us to expiate our sins. Second, they encourage us to do works of piety, penitence, and charity. Third, when we gain an indulgence, we are admitting that by our own power, we cannot adequately remedy the harm we have done to ourselves or to God’s world by our sins. Finally, indulgences remind us of the enormous liberality which God gives to those who love him: we can honestly say that we are taking advantage of blessings which God is still pouring out on people who loved him centuries ago.

Indulgences make me truly feel like a member of the Church.

Pennies From The Youngsters: The Holy Souls

Indulgences show how closely knit we are as the family of God. They remind us of the good lives which our older siblings lived. And although these older siblings are much richer than we will ever be, nevertheless, the doctrine of indulgences does not by any means sneer at the little we can contribute. What we have to offer may seem like pennies compared with what the giants of the Church have contributed. Just as in a human family, the youngest members cannot come up with much spending money when they want to buy Christmas presents: but family spirit is built up when even these youngest members contribute what they can. So it is in the Church: we who are alive today, the youngsters in the family of God, can gain indulgences to help the holy souls, our suffering brothers in purgatory. When we do this, we are practicing charity in what Pope Paul calls "an outstanding way."
How to Gain a Plenary Indulgence
Plenary indulgences can be gained in several ways. For example, by spending at least one half-hour in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or in reading the Scriptures with the veneration due the Divine Word; reciting the Rosary in a church with pious meditation on the mysteries; praying the Stations of the Cross. These indulgences are available at all times of the year. Certain practices carry plenary indulgences only at certain times of the year. For example, each day from November 1 to November 8, a plenary indulgence applicable only to the souls in Purgatory is granted to the faithful who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray for the dead. On All Souls Day, a plenary indulgence, also applicable only to the souls in Purgatory, is granted to the faithful who piously visit a Church and recite one Our Father and the Creed. Other feasts of the Church on which plenary indulgences can be obtained include the Sacred Heart, Christ the King, Pentecost, Lenten Fridays, and the Easter Vigil.
Conditions for gaining plenary indulgences
While it is true that indulgences are gifts to those of us who are members of Christ’s Catholic Church, there are certain conditions for gaining them. To gain a plenary indulgence, the indulgenced practice must be performed, and the following conditions must be fulfilled: (i) sacramental confession; (ii) Eucharistic communion; (iii) prayer for the Pope’s intentions (Our Father and one Hail Mary). Further, it is necessary to be free from all attachment to any sin at all, even venial sin.

Why should we pray for the Pope’s intentions? Because we have access to indulgences through the generosity of the Church, of which the Pope is the visible head on earth.

The three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after the indulgenced work has been performed. One sacramental confession suffices to gain several plenary indulgences. But for each plenary indulgence, communion must be received, and prayers for the Pope’s intentions must be said.

No more than one plenary indulgence can be gained in one day, except on the day of death.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Muppet candidates

Click on the title "muppet candidates" to see a very cute youtube video...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Happy Candlemas!

Blessing of Candles

On February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, also known as Candlemas, the priest blesses the candles before the Mass. He sings or recites five prayers of blessing, two of which are given here in English translation. This prayer is from the old Latin rite. See the Book of Blessings for the new blessing of candles on the feast of the Presentation.
O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, thou hast created all things from nothing; thou hast commanded the bees to produce this liquid of wax which has been made into a perfect candle; thou hast on this day fulfilled the petitions of the just Simeon: We humbly implore thee through the invocation of thy holy name and through the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, whose feast we devoutly celebrate today, also through the prayers of all thy saints: Deign to bless and sanctify these candles for human use, for the welfare of body and soul both on land and on water. These thy servants desire to carry them in their hands while they praise thee with their hymns: Hear their voices graciously from thy holy Heaven and from the throne of thy majesty; be merciful to all who cry to thee, whom thou hast redeemed by the precious blood of thy Son, who lives and reigns with thee, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, true light that enlightens every man who comes into this world, bestow thy blessing upon these candles, and sanctify them with the light of thy grace. As these tapers burn with visible fire and dispel the darkness of night, so may our hearts with the help of thy grace be enlightened by the invisible fire of the splendor of the Holy Ghost, and may be free from all blindness of sin. Clarify the eyes of our minds that we may see what is pleasing to thee and conducive to our salvation. After the dark perils of this life let us be worthy to reach the eternal light. Through thee, Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, who in perfect Trinity livest and reignest, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

1Endnote 1. Missale Romanum, In Purificatione Beatae Mariae Virginis February 2, English translation by the author.
Prayer Source: Holyday Book, The by Francis X. Weiser, S.J., Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc., New York, 1956

Last year on Candlemas, my two boys and I were able to make it to daily Mass, when we were able to get Monsignor to bless a candle for us to use at home during rosaries and other prayers.

Our pastor also celebrates his birthday today! Happy Birthday, Father...

New Bishop of Munich and Freising

"Fresh from a private audience earlier this week with his second predecessor, Archbishop-elect Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising formally touched down in his new charge yesterday in advance of his Saturday installation.As rain fell on the Marienplatz -- the great square outside Munich's Cathedral of Our Lady -- the long-awaited successor to 79 year-old Cardinal Frederich Wetter performed the traditional homage to the Mariensaule, the statue of Mary that's stood atop a pillar there since 1638 as a "monument of peace.""

Archbishop Marx was still in Trier, presiding over the Latin Mass we attended at the Trier Dom on Easter morning last April when we were there. Having arrived an hour before the early morning Mass in order to get good seats, we were on the front row facing the altar. The Mass was beautiful, the organ and choir music was fabulous. I recall the homily had a lot to do with standing fast to our faith and not succumbing to the pressures of the secular world. He has a quality not unlike Pope John Paul II, I think, in that he has such joy in his face and his manner. He doesn't seem to just look over the crowd, but actually sees the individuals.
At the end of the Mass, on his way out, Archbishop Marx stopped to give special blessings to our two little boys on the front row. We wish him well in Munich and know he will be missed in Trier.
Update: See photos from New Liturgical Movement showing the Enthronement...