Monthly Archives: October 2013

Arrow: I called it

One of the big questions since the beginning of _Arrow_ was whether there would be a “Black Canary,” and who it would be. A lot of people seemed surprised by last night’s reveal, which I took to have been the most obvious scenario.

So far, the show has been very interesting in its use and manipulation of DC “mythology,” though it often feels like an attempt to basically be “Batman” without Batman, to an even greater degree than the Green Arrow has traditionally been. I’ve also contended that it has a feel of _Person of Interest_, with the billionaire vigilante having a list (computer generated numbers in one case; last season’s notebook in the other) and hiring an ex-spy/soldier to work for him. The only difference is that, in practice, Oliver does what Reese does, and Diggs and Felicity play the role of Finch. Of course, John Diggle, a character original to the series, is also Arrow’s equivalent of Alfred. Both shows involve the cops pursuing the vigilante (“the Man in the Suit”; “The man in the hood”), and this season, each show’s signature detective has been demoted to uniform patrol officer. In the case of Det. (now officer) Quentin Lance, he’s taking on a more overt role of a Lt./Commissioner Jim Gordon cognate, complete with a signal.

They chose the Green Arrow for this thus-far “grounded” series (a status that will shift this season with the much-publicized introduction of the Flash for a potential spin-off) because the character has always dealt with more “realistic” enemies and story lines, most of whom have already been used. The remaining cast of villains have mostly been drawn from the Batman or Justice League rogues galleries. Some supporting characters, like Felicity Smoak, are only loosely based upon their comic book counterparts. Then you have characters like Oliver’s sister Thea, who appears to be based upon his current “ward” in the comics, Mia. The introduction of Roy Harper in the latter part of Season 1 has raised the question of which of these two will don the mantle of “Speedy,” or perhaps “the Red Arrow” (Roy is known for wearing a read hoodie).

So that brings us to the Black Canary. As one of the original superheroines, Black Canary has, like many DC characters, a rather convoluted history that has been changed with various individual retcons as well as major “events” like _Crisis on Infinite Earths_, _Infinite Crisis_, _Flashpoint_, etc.

Generally, however, the “original” Black Canary of the Justice Society of America is Dinah Drake, who becomes Dinah Lance after marrying Larry Lance. They have a daughter, “Dinah Laurel Lance,” who becomes the second Black Canary and the love interest of the Green Arrow. With Barbara Gordon, Dinah co-founds the female group “Birds of Prey,” who had their own short-lived TV series on WB (now CW) a year or two before _Smallville_ premiered. For a while, a few years ago, Dinah Lance switched places with a world-class assasssin and longtime Batman foe “Lady Shiva,” who was in “trying to be good” mode so common to Batman villainesses. Somewhere along the line, Shiva picked up a sidekick known as “Sin.” As it happens, Shiva is one of the main villains on Cartoon Network’s new CGI series _Beware the Batman_ which attempts to avoid the obvious complaint that it’s yet another Batman iteration, and even yet another “Batman: Year One” iteration, by focusing on mostly B- and C- list villains, with the exception of Ra’s Al Ghul. I had just read about her in that context a few days before last week’s episode of _Arrow_, so her bio was fresh in my mind as I saw the clues laid out.
In addition to Det. Quentin (as opposed to Larry) Lance, his estranged wife Dinah, and their daughter Laurel Dinah Lance (an attorney formerly of a nonprofit called CNRI), _Arrow_ throws one other character into the mix: Sara Lance, Laurel’s sister.

So, we have, until last night, had several possibilities for who was going to be “the Black Canary.” I thought from the pilot that Laurel was a red herring, that Sara somehow survived and would be the Canary. This season opened with a mysterious blonde woman in black leather and stockings fighting off some thugs with a bo staff and a mysterious sonic weapon. Then we saw her again a few times, briefly, culminating in her rescuing the Arrow from a police sting set up by Laurel (now with the DA’s office), ruling out Laurel as the Black Canary. At the beginning of the episode, I thought it would be Sara, but my view changed with clues laid out during the rest of the episode:
1) regardless of her identity, she hangs out in a clock tower, evoking “Birds of Prey” (even though “the” Clocktower is in Gotham).
2) She has a sidekick named “Cin,” apparently the girl she helped Roy Harper rescue in the season premiere.
3) Most of all, at the ending, a guy comes up to her and says that Ra’s al Ghul is looking for her. I had forgotten that he’d been revealed ahead of time as one of the main villains, with an upcoming episode title being “The Demon’s Head” (meaning of “Ra’s al Ghul” in Arabic).
This had me convinced that the Canary was going to turn out to be “Lady Shiva,” paving the way for Laurel to take over.

Nope, the reveal was, for me, the obvious choice, yet it has apparently surprised other bloggers who’ve commented on last night’s episode, “Crucible”: the mysterious Canary is, after all, Sara Lance, and Oliver knows she survived because she was apparently turned to evil by some mysterious group that held him prisoner during his time “on the island.” So, it’s likely that Sara *is* “Lady Shiva” in this continuity: the writers have already shown a willingness to keep things interesting by mixing and matching different characters.


Here’s a way to confuse people: Dress as St. Nicholas, St. Patrick or St. Valentine for All Hallows’ Eve

I wish I’d thought of this sooner. Hopefully, I’ll be around for at least another three years to apply it.

A friend suggested confusing people by dressing as “Santa Claus for Halloween.” I said, “How about St. Nicholas for All Saints’ Day.”

We know the arguments that get bandied back and forth this time of year:

“Halloween is pagan, and that’s a bad thing.”
‘Halloween is pagan, and that’s a good thing.”
“Halloween is about enjoying the thrill of being scared.”
“Halloween is Catholic, and it’s about mocking evil.”
“Halloween/Day of the Dead prefaces the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls by remembering the damned.”

Regardless, it has certainly been morphed into a time of great evil, and celebrating evil, and that needs to be reclaimed.
What better way to get that dialogue going than by referencing the three saints whose feasts (sort of, in one case) have come to be widely recognized as “secular” holidays?

Santa Claus is coming to Trick or Treat!

If you *really* want to confuse people, and you have two guys available, have one of them wear red “vestments” and say he’s St. Patrick, and have the other wear green and call him St. Nicholas!

I know God exists because I know that “Ghosts” exist–whatever their explanation may be

A writer at US Catholic attempts to address the question “Do Catholics Believe in Ghosts?” in an article which is circulating my Facebook news feed. provides a lot of quotations from theologians and philosophers (including Peter Kreeft), Church documents, the Bible, etc., which collectively present a superficially contradictory picture.
My initial response was that he seems to skirt the distinction between the various definitions of “belief”: a) acknowledging the existence of; b) relying upon; c) seeking out; or d) being obedient to. The Catholic Church “believes in” all sorts of things under category a), but categories b-d apply only to God, and then to “public revelation” and the Church’s interpretation thereof. We’re still supposed to be cautious about applying b-d to private revelation.
Once, I came across a web article by a priest who had a PhD in physics or something, who argued that many phenomena we attribute to “ghosts” may indeed be unexplained scientific phenomena, such as electromagnetic radiation or even wormholes.
It also makes sense that, sometimes, people get apparitions or locutions from their relatives who are in heaven just as people sometimes get them from Jesus or the Saints.
There is debate over whether “malicious” entities that infest homes or possess individuals are always demons or sometimes damned souls. While, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, I’ve always leaned towards the theory that if souls in Heaven have abilities similar to those of the angels, souls in Hell must have abilities similar to demons.
Back in 1986 or 87, a priest who was a family friend, the late Fr. Gregory Kirsch, whom I’ve blogged about before, came over for a visit, bringing a tape he made of an ordination Mass that had occurred the evening before. He had not watched the tape yet before showing it to my parents and me. He had set his camera up on a tripod angled from the sacristy so you could see the altar and most of the congregation. He began the recording before Mass and turned the camera off about 10 minutes after. After we watched the Mass, when everyone had processed out, we left the tape running and talked. Suddenly, someone, I forget who, said something like “What was that?” We all saw “it” briefly while glancing at the screen. If Father hadn’t left the camera on, if we hadn’t kept the VCR playing, and if at least one of us hadn’t glanced at the screen at just the right instant, we never would have seen it, but we rewound it and watched again:

Three or four white shapes floating up from the ground past €the altar.

I’ve always described them as “wisps.” I’d say now that the shape was similar to that of the more traditional “football”-shaped halo in iconography.

It had been a new tape, so it wasn’t an old recording fading through. It was too low to be coming from the candles. There was nothing that could have produced smoke, and no one was anywhere near the camera. This was before the days of computer editing even coming close to being available to home users, plus there was no reason to fake it. I don’t know what happened to the tape. It just *was*. We watched it over again a few times to make sure. All four of us saw it.

Whatever they were, they were definitely the phenomenon that people describe as “ghosts.” Unless they were, as the aforementioned physicist priest suggested, some kind of unknown electromagnetic phenomenon, they were definitely preternatural. The Occam’s Razor answer would be angels. Whatever they were, the proved to me that some things cannot be easily dismissed.

More on the Hermeneutic of Papal Rupture

Who said the following?

The word ‘Church’ does not sound the way it used to; the good name is gone today. We are in almost the same position as the people in the last century of the Middle Ages, whose impression of the Church was summed up in the call for a reform of the Church in her head and members. Every day we hear about new shortcomings of her officials: one minute we are disturbed by the obstinacy of those who defend tradition, and the next minute we nevertheless have to shake our heads again over the highhandedness of others who on account of their personal problems think the have to raise the alarm in public. . . .
We often get the impression that some demands of the Church that are (or could quite easily become) outmoded are being defended with an undiscerning stubbornness that lays burdens on people instead of helping them to be free; Jesus’ judgments on the scribes and Pharisees then come to mind. . . . “

Sounds like Pope Francis, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s “Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger” (who of course insisted that his personal writings be distinguished from his Papal writings to avoid the very kinds of confusion wrought when the personal and pre-papal writings of Bl. John Paul II were attributed to “the Pope”), in his 2009 book Credo for Today, in the chapter entitled “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
That sounds far more overtly unfriendly to “traditionalists” than anything Francis has said. Francis has, overall, been pretty even handed in condemning the extremism of both the “traditionalists” and the “progressives” in the Church.

Today is St. Crispan’s Day

And so we have Sir Kenneth Branagh’s 1989version of the famous speech from  Henry V Act IV, Scene iii, lines 18-67:

KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
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.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

“Tomorrow is St. Crispan’s Day!”

And so we have Baron Laurence Olivier (1907-1989)’s 1944 version of _Henry V_, Act IV, Scene iii, lines 18-67:

KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
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.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Christianity is not about Morality

Some of my most recent posts have dealt with the reasons for adhering to particular religions, versus the modernist attitude that “all religions are equal.” The latter is derived from the belief, for which Freemasonry was condemned in the 18th Century, that the primary purpose of religion is to “make people good citizens.” Then, of course, there are the controversies about the “papal interviews”,

“Hi, everybody!”

particularly this line from the recent interview for the Jesuit publications:

The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.

This weekend, like many, I’ve been reflecting on Nobel Prize Nominee Malala Yousafzai,

She doesn’t merit a Nobel Peace Prize, but Obama does?

and how her teachings, which she claims are authentic Islam contra the “radical” wing of Islam, which Diane Sawyer claims are “only” 1% of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims (equivalent roughly to the populations of New York and London combined).
Malala’s teachings on non-violence would fit more with the New Testament than the Koran, contrary to what modernist revisionism would say. Similarly, as Fr. Barron points out, another popular non-Christian advocate of peace, Mahatma Gandhi

He read Matthew 5 at Oxford and went to the Christians and said, “This is amazing teaching!” The Christians said, “We don’t really follow that; it’s too extreme.”

(whose name, interestingly enough, was recognized by WordPress’s ‘spell check’ even while many common Christian terms are not), got his teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. While some of Jesus’ teachings may be considered original (and obviously, *all* His teachings are original to Him, since He is God), most of them can be found in previous “moral teachers.”

“I say unto you . . . “

While the Church is certainly the Arbiter of Natural Law, there are two sides to Pope Francis’s argument about the Church’s moral teachings “falling like a house of cards”: 1) because they are about Natural Law, they should be argued based upon reason not “The Church says so”; 2) Christianity is not primarily about teaching morality. It’s “about” the Person of Jesus Christ, Who spoke with authority, unlike the Pharisees. The Old Testament Prophets said, “The Lord said to me, . . . ” The Pharisees would say, “Well, Rabbi X says that, but Rabbi Y says that, the Book of Leviticus says this, but the Book of Deuteronomy says that. . . . ”
Jesus sat down and said, “You have heard it said, BUT I SAY TO YOU . . . ” (Matthew 5:22). That is His claim to divinity. He is the first in the history of the Israelite religion to make such a first-person claim to teaching authority. He is not, as C. S. Lewis points out, “just a good moral teacher,” and His “moral teachings” cannot be extracted from the Gospel in an arbitrary “Jesus Seminar” manner, because the moral teachings themselves contain the implication, “I’m God, and here’s what I have to say”. No, Jesus must be either insane, a liar, or God, since He claims to be God in just about every sentence.
The most “controversial” moral teachings of the Catholic Church can be argued based upon reason without necessarily appealing to Revelation (though that certainly makes it easier). The purpose of Revelation is not to teach us what God wants us to do but to teach us Who God *is*, and to show us that He is willing to “forgive us our trespasses.”

[6] For the wisdom of the flesh is death; but the wisdom of the spirit is life and peace. [7] Because the wisdom of the flesh is an enemy to God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be. [8] And they who are in the flesh, cannot please God. [9] But you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. [10] And if Christ be in you, the body indeed is dead, because of sin; but the spirit liveth, because of justification.

[11] And if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of his Spirit that dwelleth in you. [12] Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. [13] For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live. [14] For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [15] For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father).

[16] For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God. [17] And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him. [18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. [19] For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope: (Romans 8:6-20, Douay-Rheims)

[11] Strengthened with all might, according to the power of his glory, in all patience and longsuffering with joy, [12] Giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light: [13] Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, [14] In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins; [15] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.

[16] For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and in him. [17] And he is before all, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he may hold the primacy: [19] Because in him, it hath well pleased the Father, that all fullness should dwell; [20] And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven. (Colossions 1:11-19, Douay)

[6] Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. [8] He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. [9] For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: [10] That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth
[11] And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. [12] Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation. [13] For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will. [14] And do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations; [15] That you may be blameless, and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:6-15, Douay)

And, finally, as Jesus Himself says:

[11] Amen, amen I say to thee, that we speak what we know, and we testify what we have seen, and you receive not our testimony. [12] If I have spoken to you earthly things, and you believe not; how will you believe, if I shall speak to you heavenly things? [13] And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. [14] And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up: [15] That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish; but may have life everlasting.

[16] For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. [17] For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. [18] He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [19] And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil. [20] For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. (John 3:11-20, Douay)

That’s what Christianity is all about, Charlie Brown.

A Reminder: on October 13, Pope Francis will Consecrate the World to the Immaculate Heart

To refresh everyone’s memory, here is the EWTN summary of the apparitions at Fatima and related events. The key passage is this one:

“The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the Bishops of the world, to make the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means. There are so many souls whom the Justice of God condemns for sins committed against Me, that I have come to ask reparation: sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.”

Our Lady of Fatima with Bl Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and their cousin, Sr. Lucia de los Santos, OCD

This is from the “last apparition” to Sr. Lucia, on June 6, 1929. If we’re going to take it as strictly and legalistically as some traditionalists and “apparitionists” do, the world missed its chance 84 years ago: “The moment has come,” she says, so I guess the “moment has gone.” Cardinal Bertone has said several times that the Consecration was acceptable. There are conflicting reports that Sr. Lucia did or did not approve of the 1983 consecration by Bl. John Paul II, but the reports that she *didn’t* approve come from the dubious Fr. Nicholas Gruner and “Bishop” Pavel Hnilica. On May 13, 2010, at Fatima, Pope Benedict XVI said that the message of Fatima has not been fulfilled.

In any case, we should all join Pope Francis in prayer on October 13, and try to pray at the same time. I’m guessing from the EWTN schedule that it will be 4:20 AM Eastern, US.

Hour of Mercy for the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows: Stabat Mater


Stabat Mater dolorósa
iuxta crucem lacrimósa,
dum pendébat Fílius.

Cuius ánimam geméntem,
contristátam et doléntem
pertransívit gládius.

O quam tristis et afflícta
fuit illa benedícta,
mater Unigéniti!

Quæ mærébat et dolébat,
pia Mater, dum vidébat
Nati poenas íncliti.


Quis est homo qui non fleret,
Matrem Christi si vidéret
tanto supplício?

Quis non posset contristári,
piam Matrem contemplári
doléntem cum Fílio?

Pro peccátis suæ gentis
vidit lesum in torméntis,
et flagéllis súbditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriéndo desolátum,
dum emísit spíritum.


Eia, Mater, fons amóris
me sentíre vim dolóris fac,
ut tecum lúgeam.

Fac ut árdeat cor meum
in amándo Christum Deum,
ut sibi compláceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
Crucifíxi fige plagas
cordi meo válide.

Tui Nati vulneráti,
tam dignáti pro me pati,
poenas mecum divide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
Crucifíxo condolére,
donec ego víxero.

Iuxta crucem tecum stare,
ac me tibi sociáre
in planctu desídero.

Virgo vírginum præclára,
mihi iam non sis amára,
fac me tecum plángere.

Fac ut portem Christi mortem,
passiónis fac me sortem,
et plagas recólere.

Fac me plagis vulnerári,
cruce hac inebriári,
et cruóre Filii.

Flammis urar succénsus,
per te, Virgo, sim defénsus
in die iudícii.

Fac me cruce custodíri,
morte Christi præmuníri,
confovéri grátia.

Quando corpus moriétur,
fac ut ánimæ donétur
Paradísi glória.


At the cross her station keeping
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing
now at lenght the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother highly blessed,
of the sole-begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
‘whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
she beheld her tender Child
All with scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation,
saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O sweet Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all our sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live.

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
by Thy Mother my defense,
by Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
safe in paradise with Thee. Amen.

Flos Carmeli: Full Version

Flower of Carmel,
Tall vine, blossom laden,
Splendor of Heaven,
Child-bearing yet maiden.
None equals thee.

Mother so tender,
Who no man didst know
On Carmel’s children
Thy favors bestow
Star of the Sea.

Strong stem of Jesse,
Who bore one bright flower,
Be ever near us
And guard us each hour,
who serve thee here.

Purest of lilies,
That flowers among thorns,
Bring help to the true heart
That in weakness turns
and trusts in thee.

Strongest of armor,
We trust in thy might:
Under thy mantle,
Hard press’d in the fight,
we call to thee.

Blessings of the Rosary


Blessing of the Rosary

1. Sinners are forgiven.
2. Souls that thirst are refreshed.
3. Those who are fettered have their bonds broken.
4. Those who weep find happiness
5. Those who are tempted find peace.
6. The poor find help.
7. Religious are reformed.
8. Those who are ignorant are instructed.
9. The living learn to overcome pride.
10. The dead (the Holy Souls) have their pains eased by suffrages.

Thirty Days’ Prayer to Mary

Ever glorious and Blessed Mary,
Queen of Virgins, Mother of mercy,
hope and comfort of dejected and desolate souls,
through that sword of sorrow
which pierced thy Heart whilst thine only Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord,
suffered death and ignominy on the Cross;
through that filial tenderness
and pure love through that filial tenderness
and pure love He had for thee, grieving in thy grief,
while from His Cross He recommended thee
to the care and protection of His beloved Disciple,
St. John, take pity, I beseech thee,
on my poverty and necessities;
have compassion on my anxieties and cares;
assist and comfort me in all my infirmities and miseries.

Thou art the Mother of mercy,
the sweet consolatrix and refuge
of the needy and the orphan,
of the desolate and the afflicted.

Look, therefore, with pity on a miserable,
forlorn child of Eve,
and hear my prayer;
for since, in just punishment of my sins,
I am encompassed with evils
and oppressed with anguish of spirit,
whither can I flee for more secure shelter,

O amiable Mother of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
than to thy maternal protection?
Attend, therefore, I beseech thee,
with pity and compassion to my humble and earnest

I ask it through the infinite mercy of thy dear Son,
– through that love and condescension wherewith
He embraced our nature, when,
in compliance with the divine Will,
thou gavest thy consent, and Whom,
after the expiration of nine months,
thou didst bring forth
from the chaste enclosure of thy womb,
to visit this world
and bless it with his presence.

I ask it through the sores of His virginal Flesh,
caused by the cords and whips
wherewith He was bound and scourged
when stripped of His seamless garment,
for which His executioners afterwards cast lots.

I ask it through the scoffs and ignominies
by which He was insulted,
the false accusations and unjust sentence
by which He was condemned to death,
and which He bore with heavenly patience.

I ask it through His bitter tears and bloody sweat;
His silence and resignation;
His sadness and grief of heart.

I ask it through the Blood
which trickled from His royal and sacred Head,
when struck with His sceptre of a reed,
and pierced with the crown of thorns.

I ask it through the excruciating torments He suffered,
when His hands and feet were fastened
with huge nails to the tree of the cross.

I ask it through His vehement thirst,
and bitter potion of vinegar and gall.

I ask it through His dereliction on the cross,
when He exclaimed:
“My God! my God! why hast Thou forsaken me?”

I ask it through His mercy extended to the good thief,
and through His recommending His precious Soul and Spirit
into the hands of His Eternal Father before He expired.

I ask it through the Blood mixed with water,
which issued from His sacred Side,
when pierced with a lance,
and whence a flood of grace and mercy has flowed to us.

I ask it through His immaculate life,
bitter Passion,
and ignominious death on the cross,
at which nature itself was thrown into convulsions,
by the bursting of rocks,
rending of the veil of the temple,
the earthquake,
and the darkness of the sun and the moon.

I ask it through His descent into hell,
where He comforted the Saints of the Old Law with His
and led captivity captive.

I ask it through His glorious victory over death,
when He arose again to life on the third day,
and through the joy
which His appearance for forty days after gave thee,
His blessed Mother,
His Apostles,
and His Disciples,
when, in thine and their presence,
He miraculously ascended into heaven.

I ask it through the grace of the Holy Ghost,
infused into the hearts of the Disciples,
when He descended upon them in the form of fiery tongues,
and which they were inspired with zeal
for the conversion of the world
when they went forth to preach the Gospel.

I ask it through the awful appearance of thy Son,
at the last dreadful day,
when He shall come to judge the living and the dead,
and the world by fire.

I ask it through the compassion He bore thee in this life,
and the ineffable joy thou didst feel
at Thine Assumption into heaven,
where thou art eternally absorbed
in the sweet contemplation of His divine perfections.

O glorious and ever-blessed Virgin,
comfort the heart of thy suppliant,
by obtaining for me the graces and the favours
which I now most earnestly solicit.

(Here mention your requests)

And as I am persuaded my Divine Saviour honour Thee
as His beloved Mother, to whom He can refuse nothing,
so let me speedily experience
the efficacy of thy powerful intercession,
according to the tenderness of thy maternal affection,
and His filial,
loving Heart,
who mercifully grants the requests and complies
with the desires of those that love and fear Him.

Wherefore, O Most Blessed Virgin,
beside the object of my present petition,
and whatever else I may stand in need of,
obtain for me also of thy dear Son,
our Lord and our God,
a lively faith,
firm hope,
perfect charity,
the contrition of heart,
unfeigned tears of compunction,
sincere confession,
just satisfaction,
abstinence from sin,
love of God and of my neighbour,
contempt of the world,
patience to suffer affronts and ignominies,
nay, even, if necessary,
an opprobrious death itself,
for the love of thy Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Obtain likewise for me,

O Holy Mother of God,
perseverance in good works,
performance of good resolutions,
mortification of self-will,
a pious conversation through life,
and at my last moment,
strong and sincere repentance
accompanied by such a lively
and attentive presence of mind,
as may enable me to receive
the last Sacraments of the Church worthily,
and to die in thy friendship and favour.

Lastly, obtain, I beseech Thee,
for the souls of my parents,
brethren, relatives,
and benefactors both living and dead,
life everlasting.


How October 7 and the Battle of Lepanto connect to multiple Marian devotions

Today, we call it “Our Lady of the Rosary,” but in the past, October 7 was the feast of Our Lady of Victory, both titles referring to the Battle of Lepanto.
There are several statues titled “Our Lady of Victory” or “Our Lady of Victories.”

“Our Lady of the Smile” to St. Therese devotees, this was originally known as “Our Lady of Victory”

The statue pictured above is the one that St. Therese believed “smiled” at her when she was healed of her mysterious illness (most likely a severe depression)–her only known “vision” or miracle.
The statue is based upon the same one at Our Lady of Victory in Rue de Bac, Paris, where a few generations before Therese, St. Catherine Laboure had her visions of Our Lady which resulted in the “Medal of the Immaculate Conception,” now known as the “Miraculous Medal” (or, to St. Pio, the “silver bullet”):

Compare to the “Lady of the Smile”: the main difference is that Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is veiled.

While the victory at Lepanto is rightly credited to St. Pius V’s call that all Catholics pray the Rosary together that day, credit is also due to Our Lady through her title(s) of Guadalupe. “Guadalupe” is a Spanish compound word, from Arabic, meaning “Wolf-river.” It originally referred to a Shrine known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Extremadura, From the Wikipedia article I just linked:

The shrine housed a statue reputed to have been carved by Luke the Evangelist and given to Saint Leander, archbishop of Seville, by Pope Gregory I. When Seville was taken by the Moors, a group of priests fled northward and buried the statue in the hills near the Guadalupe River in Extremadura. According to local legends, at the beginning of the 14th century, the Virgin appeared one day to a humble cowboy named Gil Cordero who was searching for a missing animal in the mountains.[1] Cordero claimed that the Virgin Mary had appeared to him and ordered him to ask priests to dig at the site of the apparition. Excavating priests rediscovered the hidden statue and built a small shrine around it which evolved into the great Guadalupe monastery.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Extremadura

Thus, when the Spanish settled in modern day Mexico, and Juan Diego experienced the apparition we now know as Our Lady of Guadalupe, some say the latter image got its name from a conflation of the original Spanish shrine with similar sounding Nahuatl words: “Tecuatlanopeuh [tekʷat͡ɬa’nopeʍ], ‘she whose origins were in the rocky summit’, and Tecuantlaxopeuh [tekʷant͡ɬa’ʃopeʍ], ‘she who banishes those who devoured us,'” or, better yet, ” Coātlaxopeuh [koaːt͡ɬa’ʃopeʍ], meaning ‘the one who crushes the serpent,’ and that it may be referring to the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl.”

Thus, in preparation for the Battle of Lepanto:

The Archbishop of Mexico had an exact copy of the Holy Image of Guadalupe sent to King Philip II, who in turn gave it to Andrea Doria, one of the three principal admirals of the fleet, who placed it in his cabin. When the Armada went from file to line abreast and attacked on the morning of October 7, 1571 the blue standard of Our Lady of Guadalupe was also flying from the masthead of Don Juan’s flagship. But Our Lady’s presence that day was more acutely felt through the Holy Rosary.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Pope Pius V, a Dominican (who started the tradition of Popes wearing white in honor of the Dominican habit), ordered all the monasteries and convents in Rome to pray the Rosary, and to have Rosary processions. The ships, which set sail on October 7, prayed the Rosary and celebrated the Mass daily. When the actual battle occurred, most of the fleets were wiped out by the superior Muslim forces, except for the fleet of Andrea Doria. A storm swept through and wiped out the Muslim fleet.

Pius V was going over accounts in the papal apartments with Bartolo Busotti, his treasurer. Suddenly, he arose with his face radiant with joy and announced, “Let us go and thank God, for this moment our fleet has defeated the Turks.” Human agency brought news to Rome two weeks later.

In addition to today’s feast, the Holy Father added the title “Help of Christians” to the Litany of Loreto. Subsequent major victories against Islam were attributed to Our Lady’s intercession, especially victories like Vienna in 1683, which were also won by weather.

A Rosary Prayer

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in the vestibule of Our Lady of the Angels in Irondale, AL.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in the vestibule of Our Lady of the Angels in Irondale, AL.

O Sweet, Loving Mary, Mother most pure and most chaste, thou hast shown unto us the secrets of thy most holy Rosary. Grant, I beseech thee, thy special blessings and graces upon all your children of this parish and diocese, that more may come to pray the Rosary every day and to partake of the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass. Show unto disbelievers, O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the powers of thy most Holy Rosary in defeating heresies, converting sinners, and bringing all unto thy merciful son, Jesus, through His life, passion, death and Resurrection. Amen.

–This was on a prayer card I memorized when I was a teenager. I don’t know what it’s “called,” who wrote it, etc., but I usually say it before the Rosary.

“Ask not what God can do for you; ask what you can do for God.”

Something dawned on me today about Luke 17:6:
“The Lord replied,
‘If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.'”
We always take this as being “if you have enough faith, God will work miracles for you.” In context, it’s just the opposite.
Our Lord tells the disciples that it’s worse to cause another to sin than to sin (17:1-2); then He says to rebuke sinners but forgive them when they repent, even several times a day (17:3-4).
In that context, the disciples ask, “Increase our Faith” (17:5), and Jesus replies with the mustard seed metaphor. Continuing from there, He teaches about the servant who cooks and serves dinner *after* working in the fields all day, and says, “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do'” (17:7-10), the definitive text on heroic virtue.
So, in context, the disciples ask for more faith because it’s difficult to a) speak out against sin and b) forgive people. Jesus says they can do anything with minimal faith, and then says it’s important to do *more* than God commands of us. So He’s not saying “with ‘minimal faith,’ God will do great things for you”; He’s saying, “with ‘minimal faith,’ you will do great things for God.”
It’s like the vision St. John Bosco had late in his life, after he had lived to see his former student Dominic Savio canonized. He was in the most beautiful place he had ever seen, hearing the most beautiful music he had ever heard. There were, as my great-uncle put it in his dying moments, “Millions of children playing.” There were also even more boys standing at a gate, in a dark place, clamoring and screaming to be let in.
Dominic Savio appeared, and Don Bosco asked, “Dominic! Where am I? Is this Heaven?”
“No. No one can see Heaven and live.”
So St. John pointed to a bright light from beyond a distant mountain.
“Is *that* Heaven?”
“Not even the gateway. Heaven is even more beautiful than that.”
Then he pointed to the children at the gate: “Who are they?”
“Those are the boys you could have saved but you did not have enough faith.”
At the end of every day, when we examine our consciences, *even* if we have completely avoided sin and fulfilled our basic “obligations,” we must remind ourselves that we are merely unprofitable servants and beg God’s forgiveness.

Tips for serving at the altar

We were talking with the kids over dinner about the question of serving at the altar.  I recounted my top lessons/anecdotes from my brief time as an altar boy:

1. Put the cruets on the table:
The very first time I served, with little training, Father whispered, after I brought him the cruets, “You can put them down now, John.”
I did.
On the floor.

2. Try not to set the church on fire.
I’m pretty sure the first time I was asked to put the candles out, I nearly knocked them over with the little snuffer things.
I definitely recall the first time I was asked to *light* the candles and explained that I didn’t know how to light a match.

3. Remember to breathe.
Father said, “When we get back to the vestibule, stand there and don’t move until I say so.”
So I did.
I stood there as perfectly still as I could. After about 20 minutes, Father said to my dad, “I think John’s catatonic!”