A culling of links

14768069492_581f144c67_oIt’s been a busy few weeks/months. Lots and lots of work. And then a whole array of new church activities. I pray for you, the readers of this blog, and I hope that you have all received many blessings, joys and consolations from Our Lord. Anyway, I’ve got enough time to provide some of the links I’ve been meaning to share here:

Much more to follow in coming weeks and months, as soon as time permits! Hopefully your Easter Season was fruitful, and may you receive many graces from the upcoming Feast of the Most Holy Trinity!

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Vatican daily “L’Osservatore Romano” announces new recycling initiative

Rome (Vatican City) – For nearly 155 years, the “semi-official” daily newspaper of the Vatican city-state, “L’Osservatore Romano”, has printed papal discourses, statements, and news of appointments and audiences in its pages. Over the years, in addition to daily issues printed in Italian, the paper has added weeklies in such languages as English, French, German and Portuguese.

All of that adds up to a lot of paper, and particularly since the release of Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si’, questions have swirled within the editorial offices of the newspaper concerning whether it can continue to print without regard for its “eco-footprint”.

Shortly after the Holy Father issued his encyclical, current L’Osservatore editor-in-chief Giovanni Maria Vian began to fret. “Suddenly we have a Pope who cares about the environment, and a news outlet that looks entirely like an anachronism, with its newsprint and Latin motto. Then (on 27 June 2015) we get the motu proprio establishing a new Secretariat for Communications that will eventually absorb L’Osservatore Romano. The optics of this situation matter a great deal.”

According to Vian, the Pope appointed as new Prefect of the Secretariat for Communications none other than Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, “who hates paper.” Ever since his appointment in 2013 to be Director of the Vatican Television Center, “…it’s been nothing but ‘digital’ this and ‘new media’ that. History and tradition means nothing to the likes of him.”

SPLO

L’Osservatore Romano plan for “newspaper-only” recycling bins within St. Peter’s Square, the first of several locations throughout the Vatican city-state

So functionaries at L’Osservatore wasted no time in infiltrating Casa Santa Martae and embedding themselves “as cafeteria workers” who could discretely pass Pope Francis their idea, unhindered by papal handlers. The plan: recycling bins in St. Peter’s Square, circling the two granite fountains.

According to Vian, it was “This [the bins], or getting rid of the German weekly,” which he admitted no one actually reads but continues to enjoy a “cult following” due to its use for lining the cages of the birds of “high-ranking” clerics.

“Our big break happened one day in January of this year when the Holy Father accidentally dropped the panna cotta on his lunch tray as he was leaving the cafeteria line to join a group of youth from Brazil for lunch at a nearby table. One of our operatives quickly grabbed a new dessert from the line and brought it to Pope Francis, along with a copy of our proposal and a sketch that demonstrates the new bins,” said Vian.

Days later, recounts Vian, “the second assistant to Pope Francis called the offices of L’Osservatore to tell us that the Holy Father had seen the proposal and wanted the recycling bins placed at once, and preferably before the ‘Easter rush’.”

And, soon “we’ll have secured permission for placement of the bins at other major locations, including around the baldacchino inside the basilica, and within the Sistine Chapel.”

Thanks to another Vatican innovation, the future of L’Osservatore is again secure, “for weeks or months, at least.”

Poem for Holy Saturday: Limbo

Limbo

The ancient greyness shifted
Suddenly and thinned
Like mist upon the moors
Before a wind.
An old, old prophet lifted
A shining face and said:
“He will be coming soon.
The Son of God is dead;
He died this afternoon.”

A murmurous excitement stirred all souls.
they wondered if they dreamed-
Save one old man who seemed
Not even to have heard.

And Moses standing,
Hushed them all to ask
If any had a welcome song prepared.
If not, would David take the task?
And if they cared
Could not the three young children sing
The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
They made when God kept them from perishing
In the fiery blaze?

A breath of spring surprised them,
Stilling Moses’ words.
No one could speak, remembering
The first fresh flowers,
The little singing birds.
Still others thought of fields new ploughed

Or apple trees
All blossom-boughed.
Or some, the way a dried bed fills
With water
Laughing down green hills.
The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam
On bright blue seas.
The one old man who had not stirred
Remembered home.

And there He was
Splendid as the morning sun and fair
As only God is fair.
And they, confused with joy,
Knelt to adore
Seeing that He wore
Five crimson stars
He never had before.

No canticle at all was sung.
None toned a psalm, or raising a greeting song,
A silent man alone
Of all that throng
Found tongue-
Not any other.
Close to His heart
When embrace was done,
Old Joseph said,
“How is your Mother,
How is your Mother, Son?”

-Sister Mary Ada
The Reign Of Mary -Vol. XXV, No 76

Pange lingua gloriosi

Of the glorious Body telling,
O my tongue, its mysteries sing,
and the Blood, all price excelling,
which the world’s eternal King,
in a noble womb once dwelling
shed for the world’s ransoming.

Given for us, descending,
of a Virgin to proceed,
man with man in converse blending,
scattered he the Gospel seed,
till his sojourn drew to ending,
which he closed in wondrous deed.

At the last great Supper lying
circled by his brethren’s band,
meekly with the law complying,
first he finished its command
then, immortal Food supplying,
gave himself with his own hand.

Word made Flesh, by word he maketh
very bread his Flesh to be;
man in wine Christ’s Blood partaketh:
and if senses fail to see,
faith alone the true heart waketh
to behold the mystery.

Therefore we, before him bending,
this great Sacrament revere;
types and shadows have their ending,
for the newer rite is here;
faith, our outward sense befriending,
makes the inward vision clear.

Glory let us give, and blessing
to the Father and the Son;
honor, might and praise addressing,
while eternal ages run;
ever too his love confessing,
who, from both, with both is one.

********
Words: Thomas Aquinas (1227-1274);
trans. John Mason Neale, Edward Caswall and others;
as in The English Hymnal, 1906
Music: Pange lingua gloriosi

Meter: 87 87 87

Apple is Making Recycling Cool

There was an Apple Event on Monday to announce a new, smaller iPhone and a new, smaller (or same size, depending on perspective) iPad Pro. Scanning through the keynote from the event, this caught my interest:

According to MacRumors, “Liam” can take down an iPhone every 11 seconds. Currently there is the prototype located in Cupertino, and a second robot being installed in Europe. Assuming zero “downtime”, a single “Liam” can process 2,866,909 iPhones per year. That’s a small number considering that 215 million iPhones were sold in 2015. But, cool nonetheless.

Coolness aside, we’ve got to stop “personifying” non-humans. It’s getting creepy. Siri, Cortana, Liam. Let’s not.

A Little Pre-Triduum Mirth

Tomorrow (Holy Thursday) begins the Triduum. My kids keep asking whether Holy Thursday and Good Friday are Solemnities; they are not. Officially, Holy Thursday is Feria Quinta in Coena Domini and Good Friday is Feria Sexta in Passione Dominii.e., “ordinary” days in Holy Week for which there is no obligation to attend Mass (were there such an obligation, it would be particularly difficult to fulfill on Good Friday).

Nevertheless, one misses a great deal if one waits until Easter Sunday to plumb the depths of the paschal mysteries. The liturgical celebrations found in the Triduum will not repeat themselves until next year. Early bird and all that. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

That said, here’s a little something fun (albeit irreverent; I apologize; my sense of humor remains soundly adolescent) for “the night before the night before”:

True story: Long ago, a very-young-and-not-yet-Catholic Quartermaster played the role of the “Pope” in this sketch for a (public) high school variety show. There were three performances in total. This stirred up a fair amount of controversy, since at the high school I attended, a significant percentage of students, staff and parents were….. Mormon!

A St. Peter’s Basilica Photo Quiz!

Here’s a little fun on this last Friday of Lent as we await the start of the Vigil of St. Joseph.

On my most recent Retreat, I took a few different books with me, but the one that surprised me most was Professor Warren Carroll’s Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness.1

I had little idea that a book about a 500-year-old Mexican apparition would provide such a wealth of insight for my travels in Turkey and Italy. I can’t even explain what caused me to bring it along, other than it was among the stack of books I’m perennially working to reduce.

Friend, if you don’t know very much about Our Lady of Guadalupe, or why the apparition is relevant to us today, then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this book and read it. At a mere 115 pages, it is approachable for anyone, and you will find it enriching and also spiritually beneficial.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is important. Don’t take my word for it. Someone in the Vatican thinks so too. Imagine my surprise when, somewhere inside St. Peter’s Basilica, I stumbled upon this:

IMG_1176

Perhaps you can identify where this is inside the Basilica, and if you can, and if you read Carroll’s book (or know about Our Lady of Guadalupe), then you can begin to infer the meaning behind why it’s there. The placement, relative to things outside the picture and also in orientation to the other objects in the picture, is very unusual.

———–

1 Professor Carroll was the founder of Christendom College. I recently posted a review of his book on Our Lady of Fatima and the events 0f 1917, here.  I’m currently in the midst of his book on the French Revolution entitled The Guillotine and the Cross. Carroll may well be my favorite history writer of all time.