Invoking the Pig Man: A St Swithun’s Day Card

William Blake (1757-1827), The Ordeal of Queen Emma (1793)

Tomorrow is St Swithun's Day, and it can't come to soon for our parched part of the country.I used to think St Swithun's Day was just a made up feast, a kind of shorthand for all those obscure feasts and festivals in our calendar, or the colloquial equivalent of some far-off day that never comes. "What are you waiting for, St Swithun's Day?" my English father used to say. My former mother-in-law, God rest her, was the greeting card industry's dream. She sent cards for any and every occasion, … [Read more...]

Stop Bashing Bishops! (Seriously)

Chess_bishop

Image sourceI've got a bonnet full of bees today. Here's one.Which Catholic job would I least want to have? Head of the Vatican Bank? President of the LCWR? Negotiator with the SSPX? Butler to His Holiness? Nope. Any of those would be easy peasey lemon squeezee, compared to the Most Thankless Job in Christendom:Catholic Bishop.Any bishop, anywhere, any day. And I say that with full disclosure of my secret ambition, egged on by my friends Michael and Brian, to be named, against … [Read more...]

Ever Ancient, Ever New

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One of the first churches I visited in Rome was San Paolo fuori le Mura, the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls. I was there for the Papal Vespers celebrated on the Vigil of the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul in 2010. It was my first taste of the zoo that is a liturgy celebrated by the Holy Father. I was astonished to see that as soon as the entrance procession was signaled, the standing-room-only congregation who had been so reverently prayerful up to that moment suddenly leaped, as one, … [Read more...]

5 Things That Too Shall Pass

Photo copyright Jean Howat Berry

When we were kids, and grieved some ill or injustice, my mother would say, "This too shall pass." We never believed her, and she was always right.I need her back. I'm feeling stuck in all kinds of impossibilities and griefs at present. That's why my friend Jean's photo---the phrase THIS IS ONLY TEMPORARY stenciled on a concrete barrier by the Great Miami River---speaks so strongly. The phrase carries the weight of consoling prophecy, and Jean's discovery of it was a piece of lovely … [Read more...]

Philomena, the Most Powerful Saint Who Never Was

St Philomena Shrine Web

When the Vatican Congregation of Rites revised the liturgical calendar in 1961, removing a whole list of saints from universal commemoration, it hit my little corner of the world pretty hard. There was the demotion of Mr Christopher, valued among us preteens not as the patron of motorways but because the giving of his St Christopher medal by a boy to a girl was the Catholic sixth-grade mark of Going Steady. ("He LIKES me likes me!") St Vibiana, patroness of the Los Angeles cathedral, suddenly … [Read more...]

Bless the Lord, All You Particle People!

A graphic showing traces of collision of

Particle man, particle man Doing the things a particle can What's he like? It's not important Particle man Is he a dot or is he a speck? When he's underwater does he get wet? Or does the water get him instead? Nobody knows, particle man ~ "Particle Man," They Might Be GiantsImage sourceAs much as I love having TMBG as the soundtrack to my understanding of science, that last line is not quite so true today, at least when it comes to one particular---and particularly … [Read more...]

Anticipating Heaven

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After listening to (and participating in, God help me) the dissonant chorus of response to this morning's Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act for 6 hours, I need to go Somewhere Completely Else. It's my contention---though I've been called today, so far, morally reprehensible, ignorant, a socialist, and a cricket(!) for holding to it---that the ship of state and the barque of Peter are in no worse state now than before the decision came down, and that Chief Justice Roberts, writing … [Read more...]

Split Decisions

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First up, thanks for all the support from my sisters and brothers in Invidia Anonymous. My post the other day flipped a light switch and revealed just how capacious and densely populated the Envy Closet is. Once one of us came out, the whole clattering mess followed, like the contents of Fibber McGee's cupboard (a reference only boomers will recognize from their parents' stories of radio days; the rest of you can Google it). Turns out Dean Martin (Google him, too) was only partially right: … [Read more...]


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