23 November 2014

Dot you want your crown? Don't forget the banner!

Behold that Christ, the king of kings (cf. Revelation 19:16), established by decree that no one can see him, unless the person is crucified with him; and this decree is so general that no one is excluded; it is so necessary, that no one is dispensed from it; but each person is held to accept the cross of mortification in one's body so that the life of Jesus Christ may be manifested in one's body (cf. II Corinthians 4:10) through imitation; in other words, no one is worthy to follow him to the crown without the victory banner.


- Saint Bonaventure

22 November 2014

Music Video of "The Lasy Goodbye" by Billy Boyd

Last week I suggested that Peter Jackson and company have saved the best song accompanying the closing credits to his movies for last with Billy Boyd's "The Last Goodbye."

I am delighted to say that a music video has now been released. Enjoy:


American press corps upset over dress code in advance of royal visit

As the winter months fast approach there generally is little discussion about proper attire to be worn while attending the celebration of the Holy Mass, but a recent story concerning the upcoming visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to New York gives us reason to consider this topic again.

One month out - and without any express reminding from Buckingham Palace - many members of the American media are rather upset about the clothing requirements for those who will be in the presence of the royal couple:
"Why should the United States' press corps — who barely bother to brush the muffin crumbs off their polo shirts before lobbing questions at the President of the United States — schlep extra pieces of clothing to work just so they can make small talk with a (perfectly nice-seeming) British air ambulance pilot-in-training and a former chain-store accessories buyer?" asked New York magazine.
Politico, a site covering Washington politics, noted: "Our much more refined brothers across the pond are apparently worried that the American press corps, with our pride of the haggard and ill-dressed journalists, won’t be appropriately attired when interacting with the royals"[more].
Frankly, if that is really how the press core greets the President of the United States, it may be past time for the White House to issue similar protocols.

Leaving aside the question of what one wears in the presence of a President or of a Duke or Duchess, it ought to be obvious that we should dress at least as well when going into the presence of the King of the Universe (whose solemnity we celebrate this weekend).

I've said it before, but it bears saying again: When considering what to wear to Mass, we ought not to wear what we might also wear to bed or to the beach (which, for most of us, isn't a problem at the moment); the old maxim of our “Sunday best” should still guide what we wear.

N.B.: It was almost two and a half years ago that Wimbledon insisted on a dress code for spectators at tennis matches.

19 November 2014

Water jousting: A new form of water fun?

I've always found an afternoon spent on a boat to be very relaxing, peaceful, and enjoyable, especially when spent with good friends and a Dr Pepper.

Some people enjoy water skiing or tubing; I prefer a more tranquil time on the water. There is, though, something I might enjoy trying that Damien Kempf shared yesterday:
I know what you're thinking: That looks dangerous! It does. But it also looks like it could be fun, even if the men in the image don't seem to excited!

18 November 2014

Of Bishops and cathedras

My favorite moment of the Rite of Installation of a Bishop occurs after the Papal Bull of appointment has been read and shown to the College of Consultors and after the Bishop-elect has accepted the Papal mandate. He is then led to his cathedra and seated upon it, after which he has handed his crozier.

Here is that moment when His Excellency the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki was installed as the ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois almost four years ago:



It was with some surprise, then, that I noticed that His Excellency the Most Reverend Blase J. Cupich was seated upon his cathedra a few moments ago when he was installed as the ninth Archbishop of of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

I wondered: If he did not take possession of his cathedra, was he installed as the Archbishop?

The Code of Canon Law provided the answer to my question: Yes. As the canons stipulate:
A Bishop takes canonical possession of his diocese when, personally or by proxy, he shows the apostolic letter to the college of consultors, in the presence of the chancellor of the curia, who makes a record of the fact. This must take place within the diocese (canon 382 § 3).

He did, then, take possession of his See, even if the prescriptions of the ritual were not closely adhered to, apparently through a miscommunication.

What's the life of man, any more than a leaf?

There is a certain melancholic beauty to the month of November as the leaves change their hues and fall to the ground. The colors of the ground turn to yellows, reds, and oranges, while the colors of the skies turn to grey. Soon the colors on the ground will be covered in white, as has already happened in many places.

Though I dislike the autumn and see it basically as a harbinger of the death of winter, there is something moving - nostalgic, even - to the smell of fallen leavens, as anyone who has known their scent can attest. But, if we are honest, that same smell is the smell of decay, the stench of death.

This month of November continually calls us to remember what we hear on Ash Wednesday: "Remember, O man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Memento mori has long been the anthem of this month. Remember death.

All of this is beautifully expressed in a song shared recently by the Clerk of Oxford. It is titled "The Life of a Man" and includes lyrics such as this:
What's the life of a man, any more than a leaf?
A man has his seasons, so why should we grieve?
Oh now in this life we appear fine and gay
Like the leaf we must wither and soon fade away.
Have a listen:


Saint Damien of Moloka'i used to say, "We must all die ... So let us begin from this day to prepare for a happy death.  Let us not lose a moment of the little time we still have to live."

The angel of the Church in Sardis today says, "Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die" (Revelation 3:2). Why wait?

17 November 2014

ONGOING UPDATES: A Boko Haram Ongoing News Round Up

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16 November 2014

Reflections at the Circus Maximus

Since the forecast calls for several more days of rain - beginning some time today - I decided to take a walk this morning around the Circus Maximus. I am glad I did, because various puddles provided a few excellent photographs:



I can't be sure, but I think this dog really wanted to meet me.


November Daily ISIS News Updates

Previous Updates: October 2014 | April - November 2014

19 November 2014
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17 November 2014
16 November 2014
15 November 2014
14 November 2014
13 November 2014
12 November 2014
11 November 2014
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15 November 2014

Saving the best for last? Billy Boyd's "The Last Goodbye"

It was announced some weeks ago that Billy Boyd, who played Peregrin ("Pippin" Took) in Sir Peter Jackson's cinematic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, would sing the during final credits of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Beginning with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Jackson's viewers have been treated to songs which take their inspiration from each of Jackson's films about Middle-earth. Each of these songs has moved Jackson's audiences with their somewhat mystical and melancholy feel.

Beginning with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the songs have been, in order of release:

"May It Be," by Enya, for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring


"Gollum's Song," by Emiliana Torrini, for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers


"Into the West," by Annie Lennox, for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King


"Song of the Lonely Mountain," by Neil Flynn, for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

 
 "I See Fire," by Ed Sheeran, for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

 
Of each of these songs, the only one I do not particularly care for is "Gollum's Song." The song feels too whiny to me. The others, though, I enjoy very much, especially "Into the West."
We were given to wonder for several weeks what Billy Boyd might sing during the final credits for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, with our only possible hint being his "The Edge of Night," which he composed and sang for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:


He impressed me very much, both with his voice and talent as a composer.

As of our yesterday, our waiting and wondering has come to the end with the audio release of Billy Boyd's "The Last Goodbye":


(Click the above audio link for the full song.)

The lyrics to "The Last Goodbye" are clearly inspired by - and sometimes directly taken from - the works of Tolkien and are, I think, a most fitting tribute:

I saw the light fade from the sky
On the wind I heard a sigh
As the snowflakes cover my fallen brothers
I will say this last goodbye

Night is now falling
So is this day
The road is now calling
And I must away

Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams
That run down to the sea

Under cloud, beneath the stars
Over snow and winters warm
I turn it last to paths that lead home

And, oh, where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

Many places I have been
Many sorrows I have seen
But I don't regret
Nor will I forget
All that took that road with me

Night is now falling
So is this day
The road is now calling
And I must away

Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams
That run down to the sea

To these memories I will hold
With your blessing I will go
To turn at last to paths that lead home

And, oh, where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

I'll bid you all a very fond farewell

Something about this song stirs my heart in ways I cannot adequately describe with words. I think Jackson and company has saved the best song for last.

Ten advantages of praying always

In the Gospel text proclaimed today at the Holy Mass, the Lord Jesus speaks "about the necessity for them [his disciples] to pray always without becoming weary" (Luke 18:1).

We sometimes think tat this means we must always be on our knees in prayer and, knowing that have to sleep at least from to time, wonder how it is possible to keep these words of the Lord. To help ease our worries, Saint Bonaventure suggests, in his Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, two possible understandings of this text.

The first explanation he gives is that "this statement must be understood in such a way that always does not apply to every moment of time, but for designated hours according to what is said of that prophetic institution in the Psalm: 'Seven times a day I have given praise to you' (Psalm 119:164)." This manner of praying is kept by the Church through the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours.

The second explanation is gives is that "to pray always is understood here to mean that pray is always either in the heart through desire or an the lips through petition or in work through disposition. For those who perform good deeds dispose themselves to have their prayers heard."

Understood in one of these two ways - or both of them - we see that it is possible to pray always, even if it is not always easy to do so.

The Seraphic Doctor then goes on to enumerate ten "advantages" of praying always. With each advantage, he provides a passage of Scripture to briefly illustrate what he means:
  1. Relaxation of divine punishment - Isaiah 38:2-5
  2. Remission of sin committed - Matthew 17:20; Psalm 32:5-6
  3. Repulsion in the spiritual battle - Matthew 26:41; I Maccabees 4:13-14
  4. Restoration of the power of nature - James 5:15; Sirach 38:9
  5. Preservation of peace during our days - I Timothy 2:1-2
  6. Protection of a serene conscious - Philippians 4:6-7
  7. Enkindling of divine grace - I Kings 18:24; Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1, 3
  8. Illumination of supernal wisdom - I Kings 3:11-12; James 1:5
  9. Opening of the heavenly door - James 5:17-18
  10. Acquisition of an eternal reward - Matthew 6:6; Psalm 61:6; Sirach 51:15; II Kings 20:11