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Last night’s Tenebræ service was incredibly powerful. There were probably a hundred people in attendance, and we had half a dozen servers and the full choir. Fr. Wichert led.
And the choir! Oh, they were fantastic! The last anthem,... (more at

Tenebræ from the Choir Loft (photo by Francine Mastini)

Originally posted at Mundus Tranquillare Hic. If you wish to comment, please do so there.

File under: Chant, community, Divine Office, Francine my love, Holy Days, inside baseball, Rev. Nicholas Wichert, Save the Liturgy, Save the World
This Wednesday evening at 8:00pm, our parish of Holy Rosary will celebrate a Tenebræ service. You are most welcome to join us.
What is Tenebræ?
The word itself is Latin for “shadows”. It is a Holy Week service tied to the prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours, being a concatenation of... (more at

Originally posted at Mundus Tranquillare Hic. If you wish to comment, please do so there.

File under: Annual, Divine Office, Save the Liturgy, Save the World, Seasons


7 Oct 2012 17:21
thomryng: A Sepia Man in a Hat (Galleon)
On this day in the year 1571 was fought the Battle of Lepanto.


White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young.
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain–hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.

Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri’s knees,
His turban that is woven of the sunsets and the seas.
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees;
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.
Giants and the Genii,
Multiplex of wing and eye,
Whose strong obedience broke the sky
When Solomon was king.

They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From the temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be,
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,–
They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
And he saith, “Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done.
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces–four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not ‘Kismet’; it is he that knows not Fate;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey at the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.”
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still–hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.

St. Michaels on his Mountain in the sea-roads of the north
(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea-folk labour and the red sails lift.
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes,
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,–
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships.

King Philip’s in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
Don John’s hunting, and his hounds have bayed–
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid.
Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.

The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in man’s house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
They veil the plumèd lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings’ horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign–
(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate’s sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.

Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade….
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

(G.K. Chesterton)
I was in a building, teeming with children. I had the impression that it was some sort of summer youth program sponsored by the owners of the building. I had come to check it out and possibly to volunteer there.

I arrived by walking down the hill from my house to a secluded, park-like area which clearly doesn't exist in downtown Tacoma. It was a sunny day, with fluffy white clouds. I had the impression that I was unemployed or on leave.

The building itself was brick, a sprawling structure that had clearly been re-purposed from its original use. It was open and airy inside, though on the outside it looked like one of those old schools or institutional buildings of the design so popular in this country in the early part of the 1900s.

The children ranged in ages from grade school through high school, though the older ones appeared to be counselors or such, running herd on groups of the younger kids. It was boisterous and noisy, almost as if I had arrived just as everybody was going from one class or activity to another.

My daughter Victoria was there with a group of other twenty-somethings. They were seated, some on the floor some on wingback chairs, around a low table in front of a very large unlit fireplace. She appeared to be giving a report to the group and she was sinking back into her chair lower and lower as she gave it. One of the others called her on it, and she laughed and sat back up straight and cracked some joke I couldn't hear.

As the place slowly cleared out, I wandered into a small gift shop. It was closed, but I remember looking at sky-blue t-shirts through a glass counter.

I found a quiet room where people were reading on chairs and couches, and there I ran into the men responsible for running the place. Two were younger - maybe in their early 30s - while the older gentleman was bald and had a long grey beard. They appeared to have met by chance in a curtained doorway. I think it lead to a corridor with offices. They were conversing about the facility, and I had the impression that the older gentleman was a visitor. I waited for them to finish their conversation.

The three men were all wearing religious habits, but I am unfamiliar with the type. There was a white cotton (ish) tunic, belted with a black leather belt. Over this was a gray woolen scapular. The scapular was kind of odd. It almost looked like it was felted and very thick, with no discernable hem. It wasn't rough-looking at all, either, although the cloth had a definite texture. In colour it was a cool, almost slate grey.

One of the younger gentlemen sent me to find "Sandra", who was apparently the person in charge of wrangling the volunteers. I found her outside in a wide grassy area between the main building and some brick outbuildings. These were variously used for activity spaces and storage.

She was tall, somewhat wider than average, and had short but stylish blonde hair. She was wearing a white windbreaker, and she was clearly in charge.

She and any number of other people were carrying cases of water bottles from one of the outbuildings to a growing stack in a copse of trees near the front of the main building. I joined their efforts, but was told to stay with a group and not go out on my own.

At some point in this procedure, the whole area was overrun with kids and their counselors again. Apparently it was time to change classes again.

As this petered off, I was distracted by a group of young boys who had gotten into a scuffle. I broke them up and continued heading back to the outbuilding, when I suddenly realized that the distraction had separated me from the other water-carriers.

And then, I saw a wildcat galloping down the grass field towards me. He looked rather like a giant tabby. He was charging at me in a long, arcing path moving at ludicrous speed. I had just the time to panic and turn my back as he pounced and I felt his teeth on my neck... and I woke up in panic.

I have been unable this morning to find which Order the religious might have belonged to.

9 of 30

10 Oct 2010 13:07
thomryng: A Sepia Man in a Hat (Easter)
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The meme continues. Very nearly a third of the way through, now!

Days of Yore )

Day 09 – Your beliefs, in great detail

One must begin, I suppose, by asking, "beliefs about what exactly?"

God? Philosophy? Science? Art? Literature? History? Other people? Me?

It's quite impossible.

So. Having said that, here are just a few of the things in which I believe.

I believe in love.

I believe in beauty.

I believe in the power of friendship.

I believe in the power of the printed word.

I believe the sun will rise in the east tomorrow over both the just and the unjust.

I believe violence is almost never the solution to a problem.

I believe those who fail to learn the lessons of history will go the way of the Roman Empire.

I believe that great civilizations are not destroyed; rather, they commit suicide.

I believe all of us fall short of our potential and of the glory of God. This is called sin.

I believe my job as a human being is to seek Truth and to love. This is a pretty good response to sin.

I believe governments exist to guarantee to their people life, liberty, and justice.

I believe education is not just career training.

I believe that while science may provide answers to how, who, what, where, and when, it's pretty crappy at answering why.

I believe that one of the primary purposes of the artistic instinct is to create beauty, so that the artist may become a co-creator of the universe with God.

I believe that any technology that doesn't support community or the search for Truth probably ought to be avoided.

I believe that just because you can do a thing, it does not follow that you should do it.

I believe everything that the magesterium of the Catholic Church proposes for my belief.

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.


The rest of the days )
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

Yesterday being Sunday, I did not post. However, today you get two for the price of one!

Day 01 - Introduce yourself
Day 02 - Your first love, in great detail
Day 03 - Your parents, in great detail

Day 04 - What you ate today, in great detail

This is the question I should have answered yesterday. Since I didn't, I'll tell you what I ate yesterday, to the best of my recollection.

My parish celebrates Mass at 10:00AM, and I like to keep the midnight fast*, so the first thing I ate was after Mass downstairs in the parish hall.

I believe I had two cups of coffee, some banana bread, and a few cookies.

Later, Francine and I went to the annual Greek Festival at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church down the hill. We go every year. I just love the art in the church proper, and Francine enjoys the Greek dancing under the big pavilion they put up. The big attraction, though, is the dinner.

I enjoyed lamb, rice, green beans (a secret recipe apparently known to every grandmother on the globe), salad, bread, and a bottle of beer with the unlikely name of Mythos.

You just can't make this stuff up, folks.

I also had some Greek calamari and some loukoumades. A little bit of sweet Greek coffee, and I rather fancy I waddled out of there.

Much, much later that evening, I had a small bowl of moose tracks ice cream.

Now... on to today!

Day 05 - Your definition of love, in great detail

Love is the thing that gives materialists hives, because it's one of the things that you cannot prove using mathematics or the scientific method.

The problem is, of course, that there are many different things that all fall under the same word in English which really aren't the same thing at all. Love transcends any definition that tries to pin it down to an emotional affection, or a romantic or sexual attraction, or a filial devotion.

Perhaps Love is an act of will, where we wish the good of another with no thought to our own good as a consequence. After all,

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:12-13)
The fact is, I don't know that the definition of love can ever be exhausted because human beings are complicated and there is nothing more human than love.

Just think a moment about the overwhelmingly vast number of love songs written in the last fifty years - our species worships the idea of love, I suspect because if you dig deep enough into us, you'll find that we're beings created for love.

I think Augustine said something about that, but I'm not going to pursue it as all that talk about food earlier had made me hungry and distracted.

Tell you what, strike everything I just said and settle for this:

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him”
(1 John 4:16)

* Yes, I know the obligatory minimum Eucharistic fast is technically only one hour, but really, who on earth only does the obligatory minimums for those they love?

The rest of the days )
Well, we had planned to finish the chapel roof today, but Mike is home with a bad cold. Turns out working in the pouring rain on somebody's roof can be hazardous to your health.

Instead, Victoria and I will tarp up the walls for winter. We'll finish the roof Sunday. Helpers enthusiastically welcome!

Here are some shots from two different days - in the first, Victoria and I hang the floor joists, in the second, Victoria, Mike, and I put on part of the new roof.


pix! )

Today is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. In the Orthodox Churches, it is called the Feast of the Dormition.

So here are a couple of versions of a traditional hymn for this day, the Salve Regina.

Hail Holy Queen

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Hail our life, our sweetness and our hope!

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears!
Turn, then, most gracious Advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us,
and after this, our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Salve, Regina

Salve, Regína,
Mater misericórdiæ,
vita, dulcédo et spes nostra, salve.

Ad te clamámus,
éxsules fílii Evæ.
Ad te suspirámus geméntes et flentes
in hac lacrimárum valle.
Eia ergo, advocáta nostra,
illos tuos misericórdes óculos
ad nos convérte.

Et Iesum benedíctum fructum ventris tui,
nobis, post hoc exsílium, osténde.

O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo María!

The Templar Chant is my favourite, as the overtone chanting reminds me of Tuvan throat singing.

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, ‘Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?’

Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, ‘If you will, you can become all flame.’

(From The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, circa fourth century AD)

Our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)

At daybreak on the first day of the week
the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus
took the spices they had prepared
and went to the tomb.

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered,
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were puzzling over this, behold,
two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.

They said to them,
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised.
Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee,
that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners
and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”

And they remembered his words.

Then they returned from the tomb
and announced all these things to the eleven
and to all the others.

The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James;
the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles,
but their story seemed like nonsense
and they did not believe them.

But Peter got up and ran to the tomb,
bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone;
then he went home amazed at what had happened.

(Luke 24:1-12: Gospel for the Easter Vigil, Year C)
Feast of the Holy Innocents
Sounder Train

My one, dear Reader,

If you are one of the twenty-six people who attempted to phone me in the last few days, I deeply apologize. My four year old free cellphone appears to be coming perilously close to the end of its useful life. It suffers from an ailment known as "intermittent ring tone", meaning I can apparently only receive your call if I happen to be looking at the phone at the moment you call and can see the face of the phone illuminate.

Christmas was fantastic. On the eve, Francine and I decorated the tree with the help of fully 50% of the various children and step-children*. For dinner, that number bumped to 75%**, the maximum allowed by law.

Christmas Eve Mass (I can't really call it "Midnight Mass" since it began at 10PM) was simple and homey. It's a small parish, Saint Rita is, and in need of a little liturgical renewal*** to put some of the solemnity back into the celebration. We're singing the "Mass of Glory", which sounds suspiciously like a Billy Joel pastiche. It makes me grind my teeth, and that can't be a good thing at Mass.

Father's homily was electric, and the place was packed.

On the day itself, this merry throng of five was joined by an additional three, as Francine's niece Cara, her boyfriend Erik, and Cara's mother arrived.

I may have more thoughts on this later.

Among the eight people there, I counted at least three colds and one miscellaneous physical ailment. We went through an unexpectedly large amount of tissue.

Several hours later, with the parlour demolished and everyone sufficiently egg nogged, presented, and stuffed, the party dispersed. Eventide, Francine, Sam, and I headed over to [ profile] singingbarista's for more food (duck! duck, I say!), games, and general jolliment. There's really nothing like a game or three of Guillotine to liven up Christmas!

This was followed by two days of illness, lethargy, and collapse.

This week, I'm back to work. Fortunately, I only have to go into the office today. It's amazing to think that only 21 months after I was promised I could work at home two days a week, they're finally going to let me. This one time.

I'll be fairly close to the only one in the office today. Everyone in my division is on holiday. In fact, my writing partner Andy Spletzer and his wife Heidi are currently in Paris. Most of the rest of the company are likewise engaged elsewhere.

I hope you are enjoying your holidays, as many or as few days as you have.

* Victoria and Sam, for those keeping score at home.

** Add Michaela.

*** AKA "Reform of the Reform", "Counter-Reform", or "Can we move out of the 80s now, please?"
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.

The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
(Gospel of Saint Luke 2:8-14)

We finish Advent with O Magnum Mysterium, which is technically a responsorial chant from the Matins of Christmas. These days it is sometimes used in the Masses of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (though not, I venture to add, in any parish within two hundred miles of this writer's present location).

Though it was originally a chant, I recently discovered this polyphony version by Tomás Luis de Victoria that is simply sublime.

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in præsepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.


O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

Enjoy, and if I don't see you before this evening, please allow me to wish you a very merry Christmas.

blessings and love,

We come to the last of the O Antiphons, for tomorrow is Christmas Eve, the Vigil of the Nativity.

I mentioned yesterday that the O Antiphons were arranged backwards into the song Veni, Veni Emmanuel. This was by design, for the Antiphons themselves are a backwards acrostic.

The first letters of the Messianic titles — Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia — spell out the Latin words ero cras, meaning, "Tomorrow, I will come".

Which is pretty neat.

O Emmanuel, Rex et légifer noster,
exspectátio Géntium, et Salvátor eárum:
veni ad salvándum nos, Doómine, Deus noster.


O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Merry Christmas, everyone!
With Christmas literally days away, we hear the penultimate O Antiphon this evening.

I mentioned a couple of days ago that the antiphons might sound vaguely familiar to you. In the 12th Century, an unknown songwriter compiled versions of the O Antiphons into a single Advent hymn, called Veni, Veni Emmanuel. You know the English version as O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

The song's verses are in reverse order from the order of the antiphons. More on that tomorrow.

O Rex géntium, et desiderátus eárum,
lapísque anguláris, qui facis útraque unum:
veni, et salva hóminem,
quem de limo formásti.


O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.
Short, sweet, and on the solstice.

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone." (Isaiah 9:1[2])

Today is also the feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle in the old calendar.

O Oriens,
splendor lucis ætérnae, et sol justítiæ:
veni, et illúmina sedéntes in ténebris, et umbra mortis.


O Rising Sun,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
Continuing on, we come closer and closer to the birth of the Messiah, "the holy one, the true, who holds the key of David, who opens and no one shall close, who closes and no one shall open" (Rev. 3:7).

If you are interested in learning more about the O Antiphons, I recommend Fr. Zuhlsdorf's site here. The format is bare-bones, but the information is thorough.

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israël;
qui áperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo áperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo cárceris,
sedéntem in ténebris, et umbra mortis.


O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
By now some of you might be thinking that the O Antiphon words might be sounding kind of familiar, even though you're not really up on your Gregorian Chant.

In fact, these antiphons are some of the earliest attested antiphons in the Divine Office, being mentioned in passing in the works of Saint Boethius in the early sixth century. The version we're listening to is the Solemn Tone. There are also less complicated versions in the Monastic Tone and the Simple Tone.

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populórum,
super quem continébunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabúntur:
veni ad liberándum nos, jam noli tardáre.


O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.
Last night was the first time Francine and I had prayed Vespers in community since shortly after leaving our former parish. Sam joined us. The lack of practice really showed - we were disjointed and could not even chant the opening or the Magnificat correctly.

Tonight, we'll trot out some of our old books and see if we can't put it together a little better.

Today is the second "O" antiphon, O Adonai. These videos, which I will be embedding each day until Christmas, were recorded by the Dominican student brothers at Oxford in 2006.

O Adonái, et Dux domus Israël,
qui Móysi in igne flammæ rubi apparuísti,
et ei in Sina legem dedísti:
veni ad rediméndum nos in bráchio exténto.


O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
As Advent draws to its end, we begin the "O" antiphons at Vespers.

Last year, we attempted to chant vespers every night during this period at my old parish. A series of snowstorms disrupted that plan, though I do have warm and gracious memories of Francine and I alone in the parish chapel chanting one cold, dark night.

Sadly after The Incident, the parish no longer offers chant, and we are no longer at that particular parish. Maybe next year. For now, we will be praying Vespers in our dining room.

O Sapiéntia, quæ ex ore Altíssimi prodiísti,
attíngens a fine usque ad finem,
fórtiter suavitérque dispónens ómnia:
veni ad docóndum nos viam prudéntiæ.


O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.
Today I resolve to listen to the Ninth Symphony, and probably the Third as well. You should too!

Yesterday evening I attended our parish Advent Reconciliation Service. I arrived late, having had to walk up the hill from downtown, and of course I ended up dead last in the longest line for confession.

It gave me some additional time to examine my conscience, but it also afforded me the opportunity to observe people going into and out of the confessionals.

It's amazing to watch people walk out of the confessional; it's like they're floating on air.
Commemoration of All Souls
somewhere on a train

My dear friends,

Today is the Commemoration of All Souls. This is a day we Catholics keep in remembrance for our beloved dead, and when we especially pray for the souls in Purgatory. In some Latin American countries, it has become a quasi-civil holiday you may know as the Day of the Dead.

On this day, I ask you to keep in your prayers the soul of India Escobar.

I know many of you don't keep quite the same theology (or even religion, come to that) as we do, but it would mean a lot to me (and to her) if you spent some time commending her to the Divine.

Thank you.
Feast of Saint Theresa of Avila

Dearest reader,

During my morning commute, I usually do the crossword puzzle in the venerable Tacoma News Tribune. It's usually enough to wake my brain, though they are not so difficult that I can't use a pen to fill them in.

This morning, one of the clues was "Ragamuffin". This immediately put a silly children's counting rhyme into my head:

Ragamuffin, ragamuffin
Hovel for a nest
Tell us now
Who is the best.

It's the sort of thing children use to determine sides or captains for ad hoc ball games and the like.

Except that I don't know whether it actually exists or I made it up.

Has anyone heard of this before?

The experience was made slightly more surreal when the words "hovel" and "nest" proved to be answers in the puzzle - answers I hadn't yet filled in when the rhyme occurred to me.

In other news, today is the feast of Saint Theresa of Avila, one of the great Doctors of the Church. In college I was once called upon to write three essays about her, one from a Marxist perspective, one from a Freudian perspective, and one from a Kierkegaardian perspective.

Needless to say, the sum of the essays was no where near the total of her life and work. I think the Kierkegaard one was the most ridiculous of all. I wrote it without notes from the top of my drunken head on an electric typewriter the night before it was due.

It was my best grade in the class.
Feast of Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop & Doctor of the Church
Sounder Train, somewhere near Auburn, Washington

Dear friends,

Thank you for your support. I have been truly overwhelmed by the kindness and love shown to me and to my family in the past days.

Your thoughts and your prayers have been a source of solace and comfort in this impossible time.

I would like to especially thank those of you who made it to Tristan's sentencing yesterday. For those of you unable to attend, the normally negligent News Tribune did a good job at sensitively painting the scene.

The News Tribune Story )

What the article does not say is that, while the sentence was "at the high end of the standard range" it was, in fact, the high end of a lesser charge to which Tristan ended up pleading guilty, contrary to previous reports.

In closing, dear, dear, friends would like to share with you a passage from today's Office of Readings from a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus that struck me this morning:

Why then, man, are you so worthless in your own eyes and yet so precious to God? Why render yourself such dishonour when you are honoured by him? Why do you ask how you were created and do not seek to know why you were made? Was not this entire visible universe made for your dwelling? It was for you that the light dispelled the overshadowing gloom....

The earth was adorned with flowers, groves and fruit; and the constant marvellous variety of lovely living things was created in the air, the fields, and the seas for you, lest sad solitude destroy the joy of God’s new creation. And the Creator still works to devise things that can add to your glory. He has made you in his image that you might in your person make the invisible Creator present on earth....
The entire sermon is worth reading, but this was the part that particularly struck me today.

It is a glorious world out there, created for our delight. While we some days do our level best to ruin it, to make the world a place of terror and filth and hatred, it is in the end a beautiful, wonderful world, and we should make the time to notice it every day.

So go out there and spread some joy.
Happy Easter, everyone!

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!

Exult, all creation around God's throne!

Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!

Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,

radiant in the brightness of your King!

Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!

Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!

The risen Savior shines upon you!

Let this place resound with joy,

echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,

standing with me in this holy light,

join me in asking God for mercy,

that he may give his unworthy minister

grace to sing his Easter praises.


Exultet iam angelica turba caelorum:

exultent divina mysteria:

et pro tanti Regis victoria tuba insonet salutaris.

Gaudeat et tellus tantis irradiata fulgoribus:

et, aeterni Regis splendore illustrata,

totius orbis se sentiat amisisse caliginem.

Laetetur et mater Ecclesia,

tanti luminis adornata fulgoribus:

et magnis populorum vocibus haec aula resultet.

Quapropter astantes vos, fratres carissimi,

ad tam miram huius sancti luminis claritatem,

una mecum, quaeso,

Dei omnipotentis misericordiam invocate.

Ut, qui me non meis meritis

intra Levitarum numerum dignatus est aggregare,

luminis sui claritatem infundens,

cerei huius laudem implere perficiat.




25 Feb 2009 07:02
thomryng: Statue of St. Bede the Venerable translating the Gospel of St. John (Benedictine)
Meménto, homo, quia pulvis es, et in púlverem revertéris

Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.

Champagne and Francine's fantastic beef last night. Heading for Saint James Cathedral this morning.

Ash Wednesday

It has been some time since I've posted here, and longer still since I've posted regularly.

For this, I deeply apologise to you, my one loyal reader.

My only excuse is this: it has been a trying time, and I've been working long hours.

In the past few months, I've spent weeks at a time out of state. I've been to Charlotte, North Carolina; Palm Desert, California; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (twice, thank you); and most recently to Los Angeles, California.

I'm awfully tired of business trips, and there's another one in the offing: a return to Charlotte in the New Year.

In addition, I've been spending some time with Tristan, though probably not as much as I ought.

Numerous responsibilities and projects have fallen to the wayside, including this journal.

So what, you may ask, compels me now to write? What new disaster, what new calamity, has stirred my (electronic) pen?

Just this: today is my 42nd birthday.

I thank all of those who have taken the time, quite unbidden and unexpectedly, to wish me happy returns of the day. Thank you.

Of course, if you really loved me, you would have taken me down to the pub for a beer. But I digress.

Looking back at the past year, as one often does on these occasions, prompts me to ask in a somewhat plaintive wail, "what the hell was that all about?"

There were certainly times of joy: co-habitation gave way to glorious wedded bliss. Chronic unemployment fell to relatively lucrative and more or less creative work.

And yet, there was death and disaster in equal measure, tiring my soul and emptying my bank accounts.

I am so very weary so often these days.

So what can I say at 42? At the age of the Ultimate Answer?

Not much, it turns out.

I can say that God is good to me. There is nothing that has been taken that He has not first given me. Why disaster strengthens faith is beyond my ability to discern, but that it is true is now beyond any ability to dispute.

I can say that there is no earthly thing more precious than friendship, than love. It continues to pour out on to me through all the difficulties and the delights.

And I can say that I am continually astonished that the world is so very different than most people - myself included for a very long time - seem to think.

This world is magical and mythical and musical. And if you, my single and beloved reader, doubt that this is so, I invite you to behave as if it were. A week should do. You will be astonished.


Last week on the bus, I sat across from an elderly gentleman wearing brand new jeans and a clean, unpatched coat. His hair was long, lanky, and yellow, and his face was creased so deeply it looked like furrowed earth.

He had a plastic garbage bag on the seat next to him, filled with precious things. He had a soda can that smelled as if it contained kerosene. I suspect he was flammable.

As I approached, he lurched over and touched two fingers solemnly to the seat I was about to take. Then he sat back upright and polished off whatever was in the soda can.

As we went on, he puffed madly at an unlit cigarette butt and muttered to himself. I made the mistake, I think, of trying to ignore him for some time.

And then I caught some of his words - a fragment, really - "carpe diem".

I began to listen more closely. His muttering was fairly indistinct, and I caught no further words for some time. He did stop, I noticed, every once and again. It finally occurred to me that he was having a conversation with somebody I could not see.

And then I finally caught a solid phrase - "benedicta tu in mulieribus". It was the Ave Maria, the Hail Mary. In Latin.

I looked up at him rather sharply as I caught his words.

He stared back at me, wild-eyed, stopping in mid-sentence.

And then he stood up and got off the bus at the next stop.

What did it mean? I confess, I've absolutely no idea. There was a time when that would have bothered me.

You might think him a sad, mad drunk, and perhaps that's a fair assessment. I don't know.

But as today is December 17th, I invite you, my single dear, dear reader, to pray for the wisdom to see the world in all of its hidden splendour.

I pray for that most every day.

Of course, it's part of a very long list.
This evening, President Bill Clinton will address the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

His speech will be broadcast all over the nation.

So it is with some wry amusement that I note today is the Feast of Saint Monica.

Clearly, somebody in scheduling at the DNC has a sense of humour.
And this, my friends, is why ultimately the Pope commissioned Da Vinci instead.

Happy Friday!


6 Feb 2008 09:05
thomryng: Statue of St. Bede the Venerable translating the Gospel of St. John (Benedictine)
Meménto, homo, quia pulvis es, et in púlverem revertéris

Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.

Francine, Victoria and I attended the Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Rita in Tacoma at 6:50 this morning. Some day, I want to have an actual ashen cross on my forehead, rather than a ginormous smudge. I look like an urchin. Ah well, I guess this is really just a tiny cross (or smudge, rather) to bear.

Ash Wednesday


29 Dec 2007 23:50
thomryng: Statue of St. Bede the Venerable translating the Gospel of St. John (Benedictine)
Today is the feast of St. Thomas Becket, one of the earliest saints to fascinate me for many reasons, not the least of which is that I share his name.

His is a compelling story of continuing conversion, culminating in martyrdom.

I consider him one of my patrons, along with St. John the Divine, whose feast was the day before yesterday.

St. Thomas Becket

One must admire the Associated Press for their breathless headline Pope Criticizes Atheism.

This is news?

Apparently I missed the other headline stories: "Bears shit in woods" and "Fire hot".

The encyclical is called Spe Salvi, from the line in St. Paul's Letter to the Romans "spe salvi facti sumus" - in hope we were saved.

Oddly enough, it's a discussion of the theological virtue "hope". In one section (paragraph 42), it contrasts this virtue with the nihilistic atheism of the French Revolution that culminated eventually in the philosophies of Marx and Engels. I think this is the bit AP is on about.

In the 70+ page document, the word "atheism" appears exactly twice.

In other news, Book bound in skin of executed Jesuit to be auctioned in England.

Bonus points to anyone who can find me a photo of the book.
Although they were removed from the calendar, they remain saints. I intend to celebrate in the traditional manner - by purchasing a new pair of shoes.

If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.Read more... )


15 Aug 2007 13:09
thomryng: A Sepia Man in a Hat (Keys)
Today is the Feast of the Assumption*.

For all you Catholics out there, remember that this is a Holy Day of Obligation - I'll see you at church! And let's see a little feasting!

I also count today as the primary date of my conversion just three years ago.

Only three years? Seems a lifetime.

(... and therefore I believe the President and Vice President of the United States must be impeached.)


* In the Eastern churches, this is the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. So far as I can tell, this is simply a different (and much cooler) name for the same event.
VATICAN CITY, JUL 6, 2007 (VIS) - Tomorrow, Saturday July 7, the Vatican Information service will transmit a special service for the publication of the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" of His Holiness Benedict XVI, "Summorum Pontificum," concerning the use of the pre-1970 Roman liturgy. The document will be accompanied by an explanatory Letter from the Holy Father.


The Mass in Latin is coming back to a parish near you. Well, probably at least one in your diocese, anyway. Maybe two.

I can't really see this changing much in Tacoma any time soon. The one parish of which I'm aware where the demand for this is actually organized already celebrates the current rite in Latin on the first Sunday of the month and on Thursdays.

I'd like to think that one of the major parishes in Pierce County will have a regular Mass in what we must now call the "Extraordinary Roman Rite", but I suspect that would require a level of organization that I have so far not found.

Still, St. Patrick's would be perfect for it, if they could find a priest willing and able to celebrate it. Of course, the Mass would have to be on Sunday afternoons, but there you go.

(... and therefore I believe the President and Vice President of the United States must be impeached.)
Book meme from [ profile] some_dumb_blurt via [ profile] garpu :

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next three sentences in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

Just for fun, I took the excerpt from page xxiii.

"It has opened up to us a wealth of material and an abundance of findings that enable the figure of Jesus to become present to us with a vitality and depth that we could not have imagined even just a few decades ago. I have merely tried to go beyond purely historical-critical exegesis so as to apply new methodological insights that allow us to offer a properly theological interpretation of the Bible. To be sure, this requires faith, but the aim unequivocally is not, nor should it be, to give up serious engagement with history."

Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI.

See, this is why I usually skip the Foreward until the end. The book itself is remarkably free of the prose density of the example cited above. In fact, the book itself is freakin' brilliant.
So, thomryng, your LiveJournal reveals...

You are... 4% unique
(blame, for example, your interest in wombats in waistcoats)
and 4% herdlike
(partly because you, like everyone else, enjoy tea).
When it comes to friends you are popular. In terms of the way you relate to people, you are wary of trusting strangers.

Your writing style (based on a recent public entry) is overcomplicated.

Your overall weirdness is: 41

(The average level of weirdness is: 28.
You are weirder than 82% of other LJers.)

Find out what your weirdness level is!

Ooh! I'm overcomplicated! And wary!

Edited to add:

According to this quiz, I'm a republican liberal-leaning planner.

Republican - This includes a large bulk of modern-day American politicians, whether Republican or Democratic. This includes values of basic racial equality but not necessarily affirmative action. It's a strong rejection of racism and a strong embrace of democracy, but not into the social levelling or hyper-secularism of the democrat level.

Liberal-Leaning - Those moving in the direction of individual autonomy, critical of government, opposed to sin taxes and moral codes fall in this area. A majority of Americans fall here or in the moderate section.

Planner - Few Democrats fit here, but FDR is probably the most aggressive move in this direction, followed by LBJ. They believe that the market is useful for many areas, but overall it is too chaotic, irrational or unfair, and it takes the keen eye of the state or bureaucracy to correct market imperfections. They support nationalization of industries, guaranteed employment for all, massive welfare entitlements, and massive public works. They associate economic success with high employment, high production, and massive government involvement; the super-rich are usually allowed to still exist normally, but less so in business or managerial capacities. Ultimately, the market is either short-sighted or unfair, and some outside force must step in to correct it.

Well. Let me just say that the third axis of this quiz has gotten me completely wrong. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a spot in their paradigm for my favoured economic system.

I only recently discovered that this economic system actually has been postulated before and has a name: Distributism. I was rather surprised to read that it was developed by Catholic thinkers like Chesterton in response to the great social justice encyclicals.

Perhaps that Augustinian education sank in after all.
This bit of news from Bloomberg caught my eye:

Philanthropist and retired hedge-fund manager Robert W. Wilson said he is giving $22.5 million to the Archdiocese of New York to fund a scholarship program for needy inner-city students attending Roman Catholic schools.

Wilson, 80, said in a phone interview today that although he is an atheist, he has no problem donating money to a fund linked to Catholic schools.

"Let's face it, without the Roman Catholic Church, there would be no Western civilization.''

Now there's a quote.
I got my tax return. I paid some bills.

Then, on Saturday, we ambled over to the Grand Emporium of Home Projects & Hardware and purchased a pallet of cobblestone pavers and 300 pounds of sand. And a new level. Mustn't forget the level.

Other than the level (which we took home in the car), the purchase will be delivered on Tuesday. Hopefully, it won't take me more than two weeks to install it.

It's all part of my Hidden Agenda®. Soon, soon my Precious, we will have a little bit of Roma in Tacoma. Not to mention someplace to put a barbeque grill...

In other news, on Sunday at St. Martin's Abbey in Lacey, Francine and I were blessed by Abbot Neal using a (teeny tiny) relic of the True Cross. Wow.
...and somehow, this seemed appropriate.

The Englishman

Saint George he was for England.
And before he killed the dragon
He drank a pint of English ale
Out of an English flagon.
For though he fast right readily
In hair-shirt or in mail.
It isn't safe to give him cakes
Unless you give him ale.

Saint George he was for England,
And right gallantly set free
The lady left for dragon's meat
And tied up to a tree;
But since he stood for England
And knew what England means,
Unless you give him bacon
You mustn't give him beans.

Saint George he is for England,
And shall wear the shield he wore
When we go out in armour
With the battle-cross before.
But though he is jolly company
And very pleased to dine,
It isn't safe to give him nuts
Unless you give him wine.

(G.K. Chesterton)
I wish all those who celebrate a happy Vernal Equinox!

Also today, we Benedictines celebrate the Feast of the Passing of Saint Benedict. While no longer celebrated on the Roman calendar, the various Benedictine Orders still account this day a patronal feast.

So let's get out there and celebrate!
After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”

(The Revelation of Saint John, 7:9-12)

This is a portion of today's Mass reading, which I will be proclaiming im my capacity as a lector at my parish later this evening. In a few moments, the school will attend the same Mass.

How to explain? It amazes me to be a small part of this "great cloud of witnesses". On a number of occasions, I've felt their presence at Mass, particularly during the Sanctus. I am reminded that the "pilgrim Church on Earth" is but a small portion of the Church Universal.

Or, as I've previously quoted from Chesterton:

"[Tradition] is the democracy of the dead... Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our father."

There's a Deep Truth I'm struggling to articulate here. Perhaps someone can help?
I admit, this made me laugh.

Read more... )

Whatever did we do for entertainment before YouTube?
Late have I loved you,
Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!
Lo, you were within,
but I outside, seeking there for you,
and upon the shapely things you have made
I rushed headlong – I, misshapen.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
They held me back far from you,
those things which would have no being,
were they not in you.
You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;
you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you;
I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;
you touched me, and I burned for your peace.

(from The Confessions, Saint Augustine of Hippo)
Today is the Feast of the Dedication of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. This is, in my opinion, the most beautiful building I've ever been in.
This feast commemorates the miracle of the snowfall that occurred during the night of August 4-5 in the year 358 on the site where the basilica now stands. According to tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream to two faithful Roman Christians, the patrician John and his wife, as well as to Pope Liberius (352-366), asking that a church be built in her honor on the site where snow would fall on the night of August 4-5. Pope Liberius traced the outlines of the church in the snow and the first basilica was built on that site. (Source)
There's even a tiny little mosaic on the walls of the Pope with a snow shovel, if you know where to look.

So here's what it looks like if you decorate a church for fifteen hundred years without ceasing:

(click the images for larger pictures)

301 santa maria maggiore side chapel Santa Maria Maggiore side chapel

This is one of several side chapels at the fantabulous Santa Maria Maggiore
Santa Maria Maggiore high altar Santa Maria Maggiore high altar

This is the high altar. The canopy is roughly two stories tall. The apse mosaics date to the IVth or Vth century; the ones in front are half a millennium later.
303 A closer view of the altar.


23 Jul 2006 12:00
thomryng: A Sepia Man in a Hat (Keys)
Pope Benedict has asked that today be a day of prayer and penance for the cause of peace. Here is the text of his words at today's Angelus:

Read more... )