Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

"Very fun." -- J. Bottum, Editor, FIRST THINGS

"Too modest" -- Elinor Dashwood

"Perhaps the wisest man on the Web" -- Henry Dieterich

"Hat tip: me (but really Cacciaguida)" -- Diana Feygin, Editor, THE YALE FREE PRESS

"You are my sire. You give me confidence to speak. You raise my heart so high that I am no more I." -- Dante

"Fabulous!"-- Warlock D.J. Prod of Didsbury

Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

E-mail me

Sunday, November 30, 2003
Oh, I hate agreeing with Andrew Sullivan, but yes, this is exactly what David Brooks is: "[He'] every liberal’s idea of a sane conservative, and he’s every conservative’s idea of what a liberal’s idea of a sane conservative is."

Cacciadelia at the podium: early medieval geography

"Where is Barbaria?"


Earlier this week the Holy Father, speaking to pilgrims, called Advent "a special time to train ourselves in vigilance as preparation for our Christmas encounter with Christ, who has shown himself to be king and lord in the glory of heaven." (The translation used by Zenit says "educate ourselves" in place of "train ourselves".)

This homily was preached in between the Feast of Christ the King and the First Sunday of Advent; it appears the Holy Father wished to leverage the timing so as to link the baby in the manger with the "king and lord in glory of heaven." As a medieval English poem (one of those set by Benjamin Britten in A Ceremony of Carols) puts it:

This little babe, so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan's fold.
All Hell doth at His presence quake,
Though He Himself for cold so shake.

Saturday, November 29, 2003
Yankee-hating heaven

Pitcher Curt Schilling is going to the Boston Red Sox! He was an essential element in the upset victory of his team, the Arizona Diamondacks, over the Yankees in the 2001 World Series.

Ed at Bambino's Curse will be thrilled: he's been rooting for days for this trade to go through.

Apparently the snag was that, in view of Goodridge, Curt was demanding a no-poofters clause in his contract. KIDDING!!!

Cacciadelia at the podium: pig-tails

"When I wear my pig-tails at night, I can't sleep on my side, because my head doesn't touch the pillow: it only touches the hairband, or the pig-tail."

Fox headline this morning: Suspected Turkey Terror Attacks Planner Detained. This is about the synagogue bombings in Constantinople, known to some as "Istanbul", in Greece, or a portion thereof considered by many to be part of "Turkey", the presently-prevailing name for Anatolia.

Now, be honest: when you first read that headline, you thought al-Qaeda was trying to smuggle a bomb into the U.S. inside a Thanksgiving turkey, didn't you?

Friday, November 28, 2003
Listening to Italo Montemezzi's L'Amore dei Tre Re (The Love of Three Kings); premiere: 1913. One weird-ass opera.

Hugh Kenner (The Pound Era) has died. Obits: Daily Telegraph; Washington Post. The Post labels him "modernist," which he was -- in the T.S. Eliot sense.

Shakespeare, Catholicism, The Phoenix and the Turtle, natural-law theorist and Shakespeare-analyzer John Finnis

At The Inn at the End of the World, you can find a post that ties all these things together, with links.

Thursday, November 27, 2003
New Wagnerian love-muffin: Anja Kampe, DC's Sieglinde

Kampe as Sieglinde, with Placido Domingo as Siegmund,
in Wagner's Die Walküre at the Washington Opera
(Washington Post photo)

Ms. Kampe, who is fluent in German and Italian but still working on her English, says of her Washington success: ""I tell Placido, 'Make me some pinches.' I am in my best dreams and I need wake up."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2003
New bishop for Phoenix, AZ

It's Bishop Thomas Olmsted, presently Bishop of Wichita, KS. Story here.

Note the tone of surprise. One Wichita priest says Olmsted "wasn't even on the radar screen." I wonder if "radar screen" in this context is code for terna, the three-name list that bishops in the area of the vacant see are supposed to send to Rome? If so, then what the quoted priest is telegraphing is that the Holy Father went outside the terna in making this choice. In the present circumstances of the U.S. hierarchy, this is an encouraging development.

Bishop Olmsted was originally ordained for the Diocese of Lincoln, NE, which was synonymous with soundness-and-orthodoxy even before Bishop Bruskewitz.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Greetings to the reader who reached this blog looking for information on Julian Cardinal Herranz. The latest is that Cardinal Herranz has been appointed both to the Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei". Also to the Apostolic Signatura, but that's only what you'd expect.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Sunday, November 23, 2003
Conversation chez Cacciaguida: Gilder Thesis in action

[B-U-R-R-R-R-R-R-P]. Excuse me. [Giggle]

Cacciaguida: Cacciadelia! You're not supposed to do that! You're supposed to stop your brothers from doing that!

Cacciadelia: [Giggle] I said excuse me! [Giggle. Spasmic giggle. ROTFLHAO.]

Cacciaguida: Oh you're a big help.

Burger King to Allow Breast-Feeding

Well, this is the chain whose ad slogan used to be "Have it your way"....

Christ the King

Father Jim's homily is in Spanish, which is fitting enough when you consider all the 20th century martyrs who died shouting "Viva el Cristo Rey!"

Meanwhile, here are some guys who know how to work Google, or else were just lucky (or just had some help?!): the Institute of Christ the King, a Tridentine outfit that happens to be the first hit when you Google "Christ-the-King."

Normally I suspect organizations like this of being schismatic, but these dudes say: The Institute, with the permission of the Holy Father, celebrates the classical Roman Liturgy in its traditional form according to the liturgical books promulgated in 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII. It's the "Blessed John XXIII" touch that reels me in: real rad-trads (a) never have anything kind to say about Bl. John, and (b) tend not to recognize beatifications and canonizations carried out after Vatican II. So, unless anyone knows why I shouldn't, I wish these fellows the best.

Saturday, November 22, 2003
Conversation chez Cacciaguida: finish this sentence

I don't know if it's you or if it's trousers in general, but.......

Friday, November 21, 2003
Oy gevalt...

Today's Washington Post has a full-page ad by Delta touting its eight daily nonstops to Boston. Rings sold separately, I guess.

Oh, come onnnnnn...

Hasn't anybody noticed that of the five pictures in the "literary crushes" post below, two of them show the man kneeling to the woman, and two others show the woman wielding traditional symbols of male intellectual and physical superiority?

Isn't anyone going to call me a traitor to my sex, a fellow-traveller (or gal-traveller), a fem-symp?

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
"Literary crushes"

Not long ago, Elinor wrote:

I had an idea for a blogtopic in the course of corresponding with Peony. What fictional character or characters have you ever fallen in love with? I haven't comment boxes, so email me or reply on your own blogs. I'll go first: Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey.

Many responded (click here). Herewith, my long-delayed list:


At that moment I say truly that the vital spirit, that dwells in the most secret chamber of the heart, began to tremble so strongly that it appeared terrifying even in the smallest pulses; and, trembling, it spoke these words: Ecce deus fortior me, qui veniens dominabitur mihi [Behold a god more powerful than I who comes to rule over me.] At that moment the animal spirit, that which lives in the high chamber to which all the senses bring their perceptions, began to marvel greatly, and, speaking especially to the spirits of sight, spoke these words: Apparuit iam beatitudo vestra. [Now your blessedness has appeared.] At that moment the natural spirit, that which lives in that part that ministers to our nourishment, began to weep, and weeping said these words: Heu miser, quia frequenter impeditus ero deinceps! [Ah misery, since I will often be impeded from now on.]

From then on I say that Love governed my soul, which was so early wedded to him, and began to acquire over me such assurance and lordship, through the power my imagination gave him, that it was fitting for me to fulfill his every wish completely. Often he commanded to go where I might see this youngest angel, so that in those early years I often went in search of her, and saw her to be of such noble and laudable bearing, that those words of the poet Homer certainly might be said of her: ‘She did not seem to be the daughter of a mortal man, but of a god’. And though her image, which was continually with me, was Love’s assurance of holding me, it was nevertheless of so noble a virtue that it never allowed Love to rule me without the faithful counsel of reason, in all those things where such counsel was useful to hear.

-- Dante, La Vita Nuova, II (Link is to the translation by Barbara Reynolds, colleague of Dorothy Sayers. The version reproduced here is by multiple translators, including me.)


-- If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this;
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

-- Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.

-- Romeo and Juliet I v 93-99 (Arden 2nd series) (Link is to Oxford edition: some idiosyncasies, but good intro and nice layout. Arden is currently in between editions. Here is a great audio version: Kate Beckinsale!!!)


Go now, this minute, stand in the crossroads, bow down, and first kiss the earth you’ve defiled, then bow down to the whole world, on all four sides, and say aloud to everyone: ‘I have killed.’ Then God will send you life again.

-- Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, part V, ch. 4

Honorable mention:

Elizabeth Bennet

Eowyn of Rohan

Tuesday, November 18, 2003
MASSACHUSETTS NOW HAS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE; not "civil unions," but "marriage." Details and comments as they become available.

Monday, November 17, 2003
Cacciadelia at the podium: Mozart's The Magic Flute

"You know, his name [the earthy, un-valiant birdcatcher] is Papageno. Why shouldn't his girlfriend be Mamagena?" [To clarify: her name in the opera is Papagena.]

Update from the Vatican Depression Conference: Pope Says Consumerism Helps to Spread Depression

Support Savannah Bishop Kevin Boland, author of the Bishops' recent statement rejecting same-sex marriage. The next few weeks may be rough for him.

Headline from a midwestern diocesan paper: U.S. Bishops to consider statement on agriculture.

I'm dead, they're talkin' about wheat.

Friday, November 14, 2003
Two-day blog break. See you Sunday (or Monday).

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Photo-montage of Kate Winslet.

Just wanted to make a point.

The Holy Father has appointed a new bishop just for Hebrew-Israeli Catholics. And the new bishop, Jean-Baptiste Gourion, is a Jewish convert! Story here.

I'm not sure just what subset of the Mideastern population the name "Hebrew-Israeli Catholics" denotes, but evidently they're distinct from the Latin-rite Palestinian Catholics, whose own Patriarch, Michel Sabbah, has welcomed the appointment of Bishop Gourion and has personally consecrated him.

Perhaps "HICs" are Latin-rite Catholics living in Israel. Maybe some of them are expatriates living in Israel for business or personal reasons -- but that begs the question of why Patriarch Sabbah could not minister to the HICs himself. Could the answer be that Patriarch Sabbah and most of his flock are Palestinian, while Bishop Gourion and most of his flock are ethnically Jewish? Does this mean, in effect, that Jewish converts now have their own bishop, at least in Israel?

Dappled Things: Apostolicae Curae (affirming invalidity of Anglican "priestly" orders) was confirmed as recently as 1998 -- not that it needed confirming. (Though Dr. Forster, infra, is clearly doing his best....)

Good link on St. Martin of Tours, today's saint. As the Benedictine priest said at Mass this morning, he was the first of the great monk-bishops. That's probably true: being 4th century, there probably weren't many, if any, before him who were called both to the monastic life and, later, to be a bishop.

Before entering monastic life he was a soldier, and so an appropriate saint for Veterans' Day. reports:

(London) An Anglican bishop who said gays should get cured will not be charged under Britain's hate crimes law, police said late Monday.

The Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester, said in an interview with a newspaper: "Some people who are primarily homosexual can reorientate themselves." ...

However, Forster is not completely off the hook. [Constable] Gerrard said that Dr Forster would be spoken to by officers, who would would tell him that if they could have, they would have charged him.

Fortunately, in this country, we have the First Amendment, so they can't do things like ban issue ads before an election -- oh, wait -- never mind.

Hat-tip to Extreme Catholic.

Monday, November 10, 2003
"A Father's Rules For Dating His Daughter"
This is great.

Ed, of Bambino's Curse, says:

So the U.S. Olympic Baseball team got "stunned by Mexico" and ousted from medal contention at the forthcoming summer games in Athens. Whatever.

I'm not sure when exactly I stopped caring about the Olympics. But it's a fact that I don't. Haven't for years and years.

Mexico plays baseball? How cute. Didn't know it was an Olympic sport -- and by tomorrow I'll have forgotten. The winter Olympics are OK for some figure-skating, if you can watch it with a real fan like Elinor, or when the gold-medalist is coached by one's cousin. Otherwise, I prefer a bad opera to a good "Olympiad."

Sunday, November 09, 2003
My movie double is Ethan Hawke. The official explanation from Emode is:

Ethan Hawke

An intellectual like you needs to be played by someone who understands how to be deep without being boring, someone who can grasp complicated subjects and make them seem clear cut, someone like Ethan Hawke. Whether bringing Hamlet to life or getting published himself, Ethan has shown the world that being smart can be sexy.

Were you sometimes the kid in class who realized when the teacher made a mistake — even if you didn't always point it out? Now that you're grown up, it wouldn't surprise us if you still liked the challenge of banter or enjoyed staying up late talking about the latest in political, social, or celebrity circles. Your glamour comes from your head first and radiates out through your looks. So keep that confidence up. Ethan's a natural to star as you because he, like you, has a good head on his shoulders. And isn't afraid to use it.


25 %

My weblog owns 25 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

Friday, November 07, 2003
Experts dismiss theories in popular book

Excellent (if overdue) hit on THE DA VINCI CODE.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Krispy Kreme now has an outlet at our local Walmart. “Oh,” says Number One Son, “so, if you don’t look like a Walmart shopper when you come in, you can by the time you come out.”

Next, the posh DC hotel where I stayed for a conference Tuesday night turned out to boast a breakfast station in the lobby, featuring – Krispy Kreme.

Later, standing in line at Reagan National Airport, I wondered what would happen if the KK trend were to reach airports. “Please make sure your butt is securely stored in the overhead compartment, or underneath the seat in front of you. Or contact a member of the flight crew, and we will gladly check it through for you to your final destination.”

Monday, November 03, 2003
Evelyn Waugh centennial

George Weigel has an excellent column on Waugh, reprinted inter alia in the Arlington Catholic Herald. Waugh on sainthood, as quoted by Weigel (the "Helen" referred to is the mother of Constantine, heroine of Waugh's novel Helena):

Saints are simply souls in heaven. Some people have been so sensationally holy in life that we know they went straight to heaven and so put them in the (liturgical) calendar. We all have to become saints before we get to heaven. That is what purgatory is for. And each individual has his own peculiar form of sanctity which he must achieve or perish. It is no good my saying, `I wish I were like Joan of Arc or St. John of the Cross.' I can only be St. Evelyn Waugh — after God knows what experiences in purgatory.

I liked Helen's sanctity because it is in contrast to all that moderns think of as saints. She wasn't thrown to the lions, she wasn't a contemplative, she wasn't poor and hungry, she didn't look like an El Greco. She just discovered what it was God had chosen for her to do and did it. And she snubbed Aldous Huxley with his perennial (agnostic) fog by going straight to the essential physical historic fact of the redemption.

Eve on saints and their role (inspiration for my post here)

Zorak links to this article deconstructing Hugh Hefner

Ninomania has news from Boston:

Listen, my children, and you will hear
Of a conference where folks were mostly queer

Over in Britain, an "unaligned radical" girl reporter (tee hee) finds support for in-coming Tory leader Michael Howard among "[t]hat huge raft of voters who haven't the foggiest idea how to tell a member of the Cabinet, or shadow cabinet, from a cup of Bovril, but with a quick glance up and down reckon they can spot an adult when they see one."

Sunday, November 02, 2003
All Souls

"The souls of those who depart this life in the grace of God, but with debts still owed to His justice, are purified of stain in Purgatory. They may be assisted by the sacrifice of the Mass and the suffrages of those on earth. Hence the Church, after praising the Saints in glory, turns today to her suffering children and sends her prayers to God for their relief and release. Prayer for the dead goes back to the beginning, and there was a special day of remembrance for them in the ancient calendars. St. Odilio of Cluny in 998 fixed the commemoration of All Souls after the date of All Saints. Special observances of this day are the three Masses, the visits to the cemetery, and the toties quoties indulgence for the dead."

-- headnote for All Souls' Day, The Catholic Missal, New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, Publishers to the Apostolic See, 1943, p. 1044

"The Church, after celebrating the feast of All Saints, today prays for all who, in the purifying suffering of purgatory, await the day when they will join the company of the saints. The celebration of the Mass, which is the sacrifice of Calvary renewed on our altars, has always been the principal means for the Church to fulfill the great commandment of charity toward the dead. We can also relieve their sufferings through our prayers, suffrages, and penances. Even after death, links with our fellow-travelers and brothers are not broken."

-- headnote for All Souls' Day, Daily Roman Missal, Princeton, NJ: Scepter Publishers, 1998, p. 1711. (N.B. A new and enlarged edition of the DRM is expected out in a few weeks.)

This morning our pastor, at our quite-ordinary Novus Ordo parish, here in the Diocese of Weird, gave a ripsnorting homily about the Church Triumphant (Heaven), the Church Suffering (Purgatory), and the Church Militant (us, now), and how we've regrettably lost sight of these amid the "Church as community of faith." He then said the consecration using the Roman Canon, with all the saints' names.

Cacciadelia: "Linus"?

Cacciaguida: St. Linus. The second Pope.

Cacciadelia: Not Linus from Peanuts?

Cacciaguida: No.

Good news elsewhere in the region. Friday night, a deacon at the parish that we left, because it was going downhill, but which still gives cool All Saints parties for the kids (alternative to "Halloween"!), gave the kids a strong homily about Purgatory. Saturday night, when my sons went to yet a third parish so they could get their All Saints Mass in, a priest with an annoying preaching style -- an unhappy mixture of charismatic revivalist and circus barker -- nonetheless spoke strongly about Purgatory and the need for sacramental confession. To which we went right afterwards, as it was offered in the side chapel immediately following Mass.

Clearly the saints are praying for the Church.

All Saints

My crew (in no particular order):

Thomas Aquinas: Faith seeking understanding, and, to an amazing extent, finding it.

Thomas More: "This primacy was given to St. Peter and to his heirs by Our Lord whilst He lived and was Himself directly present on this earth. [The indictment charging me with denying the ecclesiastical primacy of the King] is therefore insufficient in law to charge any man."

Mark: not the only Jewish writer of a canonical Gospel, but the one to whom my parents kind-a sort-a linked me at birth.

Edmund Campion: Elizabethan martyr. "And touching our Societie, be it known to you that we have made a league -- all the Jesuits of the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practices of England -- cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay on us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God, it cannot be withstood. So the Faith was planted: so it must be restored."

Those are the ones who were already canonized at the time I was received, in 1982. Of those canonized or beatified later, I would add St. Josemaria Escriva, St. Edith Stein, and numerous saints and beati of the English Reformation and the Spanish Civil War.

Saturday, November 01, 2003
Conversation chez Cacciaguida: birthdays in the world of toy pandas

Why is there a "pandy" event on the calendar every Friday?

Cacciadelia: Those are "pandy" birthdays.

Cacciaguida: Do they have them several times a year?

Cacciadelia: Every few months.

Cacciaguida: The same panda?

Cacciadelia: Uh, yes.

Cacciaguida: How can that work? Your birthday is February 11th. After that, you don't get another birthday until the next February 11th.

Cacciadelia: I know, but they're an endangered species.

NOTE: Actually they're not. Stuffed ones, I mean. They proliferate so fast they turn up regularly at thrift stores, whence they all seem to arrive eventually at my house. It's the real ones that need some clues, fast. Btw, the stuffed ones have learned the "endangered species" line and use it as an all-purpose excuse.