Sunday, October 28, 2012

Consecration of the Human Race to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before Thine altar. We are Thine, and Thine we wish to be; but, to be more surely united with Thee, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Thy most Sacred Heart. 

Many indeed have never known Thee; many too, despising Thy precepts, have rejected Thee. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Thy sacred Heart. Be Thou King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken Thee, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned Thee; grant that they may quickly return to Thy Father's house lest they die of wretchedness and hunger. 

Be Thou King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and unity of faith, so that there may be but one flock and one Shepherd. 

Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them into the light and kingdom of God. Turn Thine eyes of mercy towards the children of the race, once Thy chosen people: of old they called down upon themselves the Blood of the Savior; may it now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life. 

Grant, O Lord, to Thy Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: "Praise be to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honor for ever." Amen.

Friday, October 26, 2012

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 8

Last week, I skipped my quick takes because I had no interest in writing them. I feel no remorse for this (though I did appreciate Bob's prodding in that direction after the fact). No sense feeling beholden to something that is not actually an obligation. But I'm back for now.

I think I've driven away all my commenters by switching to writing about whatever I feel like. Or perhaps by my 11-month hiatus. If either of these are true, refrain from commenting to confirm my theory. :)

There really is something beautiful about walking places rather than driving. It's one of the things I will miss most about my current location whenever I move to another apartment (closely followed by living right behind the grocery store and bank). Not only does it provide a helpful minimum of exercise, but it puts you into contact with people in a way that's just completely lacking otherwise. Here in Atlanta, the folks you're walking past greet you, so I put on an enormous smile and greet them in return. There's just something warm and wonderful about pleasant interactions with strangers, in the midst of this world of isolation and commuting.

Hey look! I'm famous! Sort of...

As a follow-up to my conference presentation in January, the director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy asked me whether I'd be interested in cutting up that presentation into bite-sized pieces and joining the ranks of their bloggers. The twenty-first century unpaid equivalent of having my very own magazine column! Whoo hoo!

I finally got my introduction to Tim last month, and there it is: the first in what I project to be a 17-installment monthly series. That's right, I will continue to milk my master's thesis for a year and a half's worth of blog posts!

Over the next year or so, I intend to offer a guide through the millennia from creation to eternity—with a focus on the 20th century—to see in various ages what the Church has asked for regarding liturgy and what we gave to God in that respect. With that background, I will venture to offer practical applications for several more months, so as to encapsulate the relevance of this history to today’s churchgoers.

Oh, and I opened the post with a completely relevant Monty Python sketch. No idea how I'm going to match that for the second post, which will be on the Scriptural basis of our worship and the principle of sacramentality. (I'm accepting suggestions, especially either usable or absurd ones.)

Speaking of Tim and ND, I've recommended his pieces to you before, and this one on ending the liturgy wars is no different. He's wonderfully balanced and well thought out. A glimpse:

The problem with liturgical politics (and the liturgy wars) is that it gradually suffocates this spirit of prayer.  Ironically, it turns liturgical prayer (a participation, ever so brief, in the heavenly peace of the city) into an act of war.  We grow to suspect that the hymn chosen at a particular celebration of the Eucharist is intended to communicate some implicit ideological theme.   We hear chant and assume that the music director is dialing back the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.  We “use” the liturgy to institute our own ideas of what reform should look like, rather than celebrating liturgical prayer as an authentic encounter with the living God.

Seriously, it's worth reading. If you have opinions about liturgy, that is.

I just heard a loud scream from elsewhere in my apartment complex. Was about to be concerned... and then  remembered this weekend is Halloween, observed. Never mind!

Went to a Georgia Tech football game this past weekend! It was a ton of fun. First, an entertaining photo from among the madness outside the stadium:

I snapped this during one of the very rare  moments when they
weren't posing with fans. Doesn't this just scream Atlanta!?
From where we sat in back of the student section (by choice), you could see some of the Atlanta skyline, which was pretty sweet.
Those buildings are all within half a mile of the
stadium, so it makes sense they're so visible,
but it was still darn cool to have that backdrop!
I also learned about a certain George P. Burdell, who's been a "student" at Georgia Tech since the 1920s.
The administration were glad to finally get him out of the system when they switched to digital student records in the 60s, only to have an enterprising student promptly hack into their systems and restore his records. He was recognized for something or other during the game; I didn't catch what. Anyway, students have been signing into classes and events as George P. Burdell for nearly a century, so legend has it that he's earned every degree Tech has to offer, among many other distinctions. Seriously, wander over to his Wikipedia page. It's entirely worth the five minutes it will take you to read it. :D

(Full disclosure: I couldn't get the Seton Hall Pirates' fight song out of my head the whole game...)

After the parish group photo (apparently "promptly at 2:00pm" means somewhere around 3) at the (annual?) parish picnic this past weekend...

I think if you click on this, it'll show you the full size photo.
I'm on the far left in front, close by the very pregnant lady.
A couple of the guys started cajoling me into playing soccer in the parish-wide kids vs adults game. Now, I go to a traddy parish. While I do own pants, I wasn't sure admitting that in front of the entire parish was a good idea. But the trouble was, I actually wanted to play. Of course, I was wearing a cute little skirt and blouse combo that wouldn't mix well with diving to save the ball, so their cajoling was all in vain...

Until one of the guys volunteered that I could borrow the pajama pants he keeps in his trunk (which fit me so well that other friends presumed they were mine). Done! Enter: Soccer game!

Aaaaaaand repetitions of this might explain some of those scrapes and
bruises that are still healing from 5 days ago...

In retrospect, I was the only woman on the adults team. But it was enormously fun, and I haven't lost as much of my goalkeeper skills as I'd feared. Turns out, my high school coaches trained me pretty well!

(More photos of the picnic/game here, in case you were wondering. There are some fun ones of Father playing soccer in his cassock. It's nice to have a parishioner who moonlights as a professional photographer!)

Anyway, joining Jen and the gang, better late than never. Until next week, or something like that!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes, Saturday Edition

What? Friday is really just a terribly inconvenient day for me to blog, and I never remember to pre-write one so I can just hit "post" come Friday...

An Atlanta legend of sorts named Brother Sean passed away on Monday. He might've even been a saint, who knows?

Once a successful lawyer, Sean decided one year that he wanted to celebrate his birthday by giving pizza to the homeless people who lived around his favorite pizzeria. Long story short, he ended up literally selling all his possessions to live with the poor (he was barely better off than the homeless). He became known as "Brother" Sean not because he joined an order but because he performed works of mercy, and the homeless can be quick with nicknames. He spent all his money feeding the poor, and spent all his time just being with them. People would give him money to care for himself, and he would spend it on Atlanta's poor. He would often take groups (usually church or school-related) around to feed the homeless, always including that most uncomfortable--and most important--linchpin of spending time with the homeless, of just talking with them.

The poor have human dignity, too, which is often forgotten, especially by those who can't or won't give money to panhandlers. Just saying hello, smiling, chatting, or promising a prayer is often at least as helpful as money or food. Encountering Brother Sean turned the location of my apartment from convenient enough, even if there are beggars nearby, to a blessedly constant opportunity buy food for our wonderful homeless people and sometimes chat with them a bit. Seeing them now genuinely bring joy to my heart, and for this I have Brother Sean to thank. Requiescat in pace.

So I was commissioned to write a piece about how Sacrosanctum Concilium impacted my life, for the 2014 edition of this fairly useful-looking product. Took me a while to pull my thoughts together, but ended up writing about how I grew up with what I termed "ethnic envy," that is, feeling boring because I was white and thus didn't have a cool cultural history like most of my friends did... until I discovered in college that Catholicism is a culture, and I'm perfectly entitled to it. This changed rather a lot, in my experience of the world. (I'm rather pleased with the piece, and am somewhat impatient for it to come out!)

On a theoretically unrelated note, I've been reading the Torah lately... It's turned out not to be unrelated it all. Just as the centuries of Catholicism are my culture, so too are the Hebrews' years of wandering in the desert! I could have sworn I'd read these books before, but now I'm suddenly understanding minutiae that never struck me before - the arrangement of the twelve tribes, the year of jubilees, the practical usefulness of a lot of the strange-sounding laws, including those of ritual purity. All of this, too, is my heritage, and it's exciting and fascinating. I always knew I loved our Jewish roots, but wow! :D

New favorite saint alert! St St Stanisław Szczepanowski, or (if you're less comfortable in Polish) Stanislaus of Cracow, or Stanislaus the Martyr. As bishop of Kraków (one of the first Polish-born bishops in Poland), he excommunicated the king for brutalizing his subjects, so the king ordered him killed. The soldiers were hesitant in the face of Stan's holiness, so the king slew the bishop himself - while he was celebrating Mass.


At my new freelance client's office, the guy who sits at a desk across the room heard the following twice this week:

*clap* "Yes!"

That's right: The glorious combination of sounds that means I successfully killed that bug (in this case, gnats) on the first try. I'd be lying if I said I weren't proud of myself. :D

So, Year of Faith, whoo! Totally didn't even realize until about last week that it was in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Vatican II (oops). I've been thinking I ought to, like, care about this whole year of faith thing, but really lacking the motivation to do so. Then a friend booked me to give a talk to a group at her parish about the Year of Faith. Enter: Excellent motivation. Whoo hoo!

Another vaguely work-related take. For one of my clients, the proofreading projects frequently require me to look up one-verse Scripture passages. It makes me very grateful for that song I learned as a child about books of the Bible, and for the shoutouts I added to include the Deutero-Canonical books (it was on some cassette about bees, for the two of you who are wondering)...

Well. Every time a passage is cited from either letter to the Thessalonians (or sometimes just when I flip past Thessalonians), I pull a Larry the Cucumber. I can't help it. Just wanted to confess that publicly on the internet.

Either skip to 48 seconds, or click this link. I can link to the middle of the video, but I don't have the skillz to embed from the middle of a video. Sorry for its poor quality, but really, the audio is all you need there. Yeah.

If you had asked me 7yrs ago, when I was singing them at least weekly, whether I'd ever forget the words to such Ann Arbor classics as the Te Deum and Born Into a Battle, I'd've laughed. My memory for all the verses of a hymn is definitely above average... and yet, after having tried to sing these and others in my car last night, I actually had to look up their lyrics. Wow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Modern-Day Tax Collectors ?

It occurs to me that, in order to put into perspective what people meant when they scorned Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners, we might want to consider the modern-day equivalents: lawyers (and/or maybe politicians).

No offense intended to lawyers and politicians; there are some genuinely good people in the batch, at least a few of whom I would positively enjoy spending time with. But consider the stereotype, the reputation: corrupt quasi-government officials, taking advantage of their positions of influence to fleece innocent people out of their money...

Think about it. Wouldn't it seem at least a bit weird for Jesus to go eat dinner with a bunch of lawyers, when so much of his ministry was to the poorer classes, and so much of his remaining time spent with priests and religious leaders?

St Matthew the Apostle, pray for us.
St. Thomas More, pray for us.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

14 Quick Takes (Vol 6)

What? I'm making up for lost time! I'm relatively confident these will actually be somewhat quick, as opposed to my usual Friday fare... Okay, at least some of them will be.


So today is Plaidurday, invented last year by some guy "to celebrate plaid. To bring together all the wonderful plaid-wearing people of the world." Too hilarious a holiday for me not to celebrate!

...Except I was rather surprised to discover that I own almost no plaid. I mean, I know, I wore it day in and day out for eleven of my twelve years at Catholic school (preschool required no uniform), but I like to think I've gotten over that. However, my entire stock of plaid consists of a gingham shirt, two hats, and some underwear. I might have to go shopping before next Plaidurday.

My sister's been telling me for weeks that her school is ranked by the Princeton Review (or somebody equally impressive, give me a break, I'm no guidance counselor) for being one of the Prettiest College Campuses in the USA. It's not so much that I doubted her as that I wasn't sure what to expect.

It's pretty. This particular photo (which, of course, doesn't do justice to the real view) shows part of a section of campus known as The Colonnades. Unsurprisingly, this impressive colonnade is whence these dorms get their common name.

Speaking of my sister's school, one of their eateries makes these fantastic muffins--which are really just the socially acceptable form of eating Chocolate Cake for Breakfast...

Anyway, as part of their meal plan, they get a certain number of free food items from the non-cafeteria eateries on campus, called "swipes" because the food costs one swipe of the card.

...which resulted in my sister offering all weekend to swipe me a muffin. Totally legit. Did not get old!

On second thought, that might've been a "you had to be there" moment, but at least it gave me a reason to link you to one of Bill Cosby's most memorable comedy sketches...

While I've mentally returned to my sister's campus, I can't help but recall how wonderful it was to see my family this weekend. Not only was it delightful to be in their company again all together, with no one else to distract us, something possibly more important: it felt so profoundly normal!

Probably it felt this way because the routine of a college visit became familiar to me during undergrad, when they visited close to every semester, but there's something wonderful about an adult visit with your family wherein it's just good old-fashioned family time, no distractions; wherein your adulthood is neither negated nor ignored, yet the stresses and changes of adult life are not present. It was fantastic. I miss them already. :)

But it's back to reality! My newest freelance client, in metro Atlanta, wants me to come into the office for about 30 hours each week. It's great to have the structure and the social element of an office environment (not to mention the consistent work), but wow does transitioning to a normal work schedule take a toll on you! I'd forgotten quite how tired those first few weeks are.

However, there are other fun perks to this job. I don't want to give away too much detail, but suffice it to say that I've been organizing a sort of inventory of saints for them. The inventory was put together piecemeal over several years and by various people, and as a result, it's an impossible-to-navigate mess. A simple example: St. Matteo and St. Matthew have separate categories, as do St. Cecilia and St. Cecila. Don't even get me started on the collection of Saints Catherine!

Because of this project, I've gotten to dabble in translations of names. Some are simpler: The Latin Jacobus produced both Jacob and James. Emmerich (or Emeric) = Imre* = Henry. Eduvigis = Hedwig! (Believe it or not, I backed into Hedwig via Spanish and Polish, two languages in which I have very limited competence.)

*I swear, the name Imre came up in some fiction I've consumed within the past several months. Or perhaps something that sounds very similar? My sincerest gratitude to anyone who can figure it out...

Most entertaining website that I came across in the aforementioned search to confirm saint names in various languages? This one.
Seriously tempted to buy one of these for my gambler uncle for Christmas, just because...

So, between my trip out to see my sister and my return to a commuting lifestyle, I have found a way to solve my aforementioned literary dilemma: Les Mis from! It's actually been pretty fantastic (notwithstanding nearly two hours about the Battle of Waterloo, most of which I lacked the military jargon to understand, and whose entire purpose, I think, was one five-minute scene that helped to firm up the despicable character of Old Man Thenardier). I'm about 18 hours in, and it's a 60 hour book, so I have some hope of finishing it by mid-December...

I forget this whenever I'm not reading very much: My life is always better with fiction. Movies and TV aren't the same at all. I suspect part of this comes from the fact that most of the fiction I'm reading is at least a generation or two old, so it's of some quality, having stood the test of time. But I think it's largely just that encountering the world and its truths in that particular medium takes me out of myself and causes some reflection.

Speaking of reflection, I realized quite suddenly this week (and with some surprise) that I positively disbelieve in the Hegelian dialectic. For those of you who did not take that class with me (or, perhaps, at all), it is from Hegel that we derive the notion that society is always improving, that "progress" is inherently good. Hegel posited that the new ideas popular in society form into a sort of "thesis," which is followed by a backlash, by people trying to turn back the clock--the "antithesis"--and the two slowly meld and become the "synthesis," which essentially means progress. (I'm no philosopher, but that's how I understand it, anyway.)

I looked with ambivalence on the idea when I first learned of it, but it wasn't until this past week that I realized that I completely disagree. Shaped as my worldview is by a desire for virtue and the belief that original sin has dogged humanity since the beginning of time and will until the Parousia--albeit perhaps in different forms--the idea that life in previous centuries was so bad, and things are getting better and better... it just took me by surprise how patently ridiculous is the whole idea.

After all, that's what blogs are for, right? Making the internet read whatever you feel like sharing with it?

If any of y'all are still reading, you're quite the troopers. While I'm still talking about surprising moments while reading Les Mis... *~*SPOILER ALERT!!*~*

Okay, I'm only a few books in; Jean Valjean and Cosette have just moved to Paris at present. So I've really only encountered Javert in Montreuil-sur-Mer. I've also gotten the full dose of the Thenardiers. I remembered coming into things that both are pretty terrible characters, but that was all I remembered.

Well. The Thenardiers actually didn't make me all that angry, as book characters go. But Javert! During the scene where he arrests M. Madeleine at Fantine's bedside, I actually dropped at least one F-bomb on him--out loud! I was SO furious at him!

With a bit of reflection, I've concluded two possible reasons for the intensity of my reaction: 1) The Thenardiers barely pretend to be "good people," whereas Javert thinks he's being righteous in his utter lack of mercy (or human courtesy). 2) Or perhaps the crux of the matter is that the Thenardiers treat everyone more or less equally (the difference only being the best method to bleed a man dry), whereas Javert has a very strict code wherein some people are sub-human.

The more I think about it, the more I vote for explanation number two. Bonus points for Jennifer Fulwiler's latest article, conveniently timed for my musings. I must be influenced by Hugo's views on society creating its criminals (which I want to say Dickens also spread?), because I have no sympathy for people treating them any differently. Or maybe by Catholic social teaching, which explicitly abhors anything that denigrates any person's human dignity. But let's cut off this rant before it begins...


I believe I promised last week to report on my marshmallow brownie experiment. When I put it in the oven, I was entirely certain that I had messed up by putting WAAAAAAAAAY too many marshmallows in the brownie. Instead, what I pulled out of the oven was actually boiling on the top. The marshmallows had all melted and risen to the top, and taken a lot (though not all) of the chocolate chips with them. The result was that the top layer of brownie was almost caramelized (sticky but not hard), while the bottom 2/3 was much cakier than usual. It made a good brownie (I love me some foolproof desserts!), but it wasn't at all what anyone expected.

Another update: The bunch of us who built the St Francis Scarecrow went to visit him at the Atlanta Botanical Garden last night! It was an enormous amount of fun (and they waived the $18 ticket price for all of us, whoo hoo!). St Francis was nestled down below the path, but near the front of the maze of scarecrows. (I use the word scarecrow loosely. Most of the "scarecrows" submitted bore little to no resemblance to the traditional scarecrow; they were just sort of themed statues cobbled together out of stuff...)

Note the button on his lapel that says "Ask me a question, I'm Catholic."
Don't note the three of our gang who are (presumably illegally) behind the gate...

But he looked great in the Garden, and whenever one of our gang dawdled inconspicuously near St Francis to eavesdrop, they noticed that people were stopping to take a closer look at him, which we found encouraging. One pair of ladies nodded approvingly, one saying to the other, "And on his feast day, no less!" while they clinked their classes and drank to St Francis. What a perfect Catholic moment!

Like all good things, this must come to an end, despite the fun I've had writing it. At the Botanical Garden last night, I kind of checked something off my bucket list:

Meeting a carnivorous plant! It would have been way cooler if we'd actually seen any of the pitcher plants eat anything, of course, but it was still cool (especially since the quail in the other exhibit eluded our sight, though they were quite vocal).

Anyway! That's more than enough of me for two weeks. The rest of these Quick Takes (which are still probably quicker than mine) are at Jen's home page. Until next time!
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