Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide

'Tis the festival of Saint Michael of Synnada, Bishop (died circa 826, A.K.A. the Confessor): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Tis also the festival of Saint William of Perth, Martyr (died circa 1201, A.K.A. of Rochester), martyred by his adopted son, David the Foundling: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Saint Giovanni Battista de' Rossi, Priest (1698-1764, Anglicized as John Baptist Rossi): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter sixteen, verses twenty-two thru thirty-four;
Psalm One Hundred Thirty-eight, verses one & two(a,b), two(c,d) & three, & seven(c) & eight;
The Gospel according to John, chapter sixteen, verses five thru eleven.

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, once again in today’s Gospel Jesus promises to send us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the fuel of the Church, the energy and life force of the body of Christ. And we can’t get it through heroic effort. We can only get it by asking for it. That’s why for the past two thousand years, the Church has begged for the Holy Spirit, this power from on high.

Jesus told us that the Father would never refuse someone who asked for the Holy Spirit. So ask! And ask again! Realize that every liturgy is a begging for the Holy Spirit. Fr. Hesburgh of Notre Dame once commented that the one prayer that is always appropriate, whether one is experiencing success or failure, whether one is confident or afraid, whether one is young or old, is, “Come, Holy Spirit.”

He’s right, for this is the fundamental prayer of the church. Mind you, we pray it, as the first apostles did, in the presence of Mary and with her support. In the Hail Mary, we say, “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” What are we asking her to pray for, but the Holy Spirit?

Narwhal Day

Fondest wishes for a happy & most sympathetic Narwhal Day to all & sundry! On this day of days we fête the narwhal, the very oddest of whales, noted & celebrated for its "horn" (in actuality a tusk) which in times past was often displayed in cabinets of curiosity (Wunderkammer) as a unicorn's horn. The narwhal is transcendent proof that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

The Ancient & Proper Observance of Narwhal Day
First, the recitation of "The Oath of Narwhal Day;"
Second, the wearing of gray clothing;
Third, the hearing of "Sympathy for the Narwhal" by D.J. Seaghost, an ally of The Aquabats!

The ancient & proper observance need not be observed in any particular order. The recitation of the oath is an internal act; recite it as a jest or a lark only at your own peril, for a man is only as good as his word; it is in sympathizing with the narwhal that Narwhal Day finds its highest purpose. The wearing of gray is an external act, signally to others the sympathy for the narwhal in one's heart & inviting them to experience the same. The hearing of "Sympathy for the Narwhal" is a communal act, for Narwhal Day is as much a day of celebration as it is as day of sympathizing; the narwhal will frolic & so should we.

Even in these latter days, there are still persons, seemingly educated persons, who remain ignorant of the narwhal & all it can illuminate for us about the beautiful oddity of God's Creation. Spread the word about Narwhal Day! Spread the sympathy for & celebration of the narwhal! Invite others to observe the ancient & proper observance, so that they too might come to know the oddball, improbable glory of the narwhal.


The Oath of Narwhal Day
The narwhal is a noble, pitiable creature,
A magnificent, monstrous visage.
An asymmetrical tooth for a horn,
Or sometimes two, or sometimes none,
Half again as long as the beast.

I swear my sympathy for the narwhal.
I will not lie and convince it all is well,
But I will be a friend to the narwhal.
The mocking dolphins and the snobby manatees
Will get their well-earned comeuppance,
And the narwhal will frolic all day.

I dream this dream of the narwhal
And celebrate it in all its oddball, improbable glory,
On this the seventeenth Narwhal Day.


the Narwhal (Monodon Monoceros)—also narwal or narwhale


The Rebel Black Dot Song of Narwhal Day!
D.J. Seaghost, "Sympathy for the Narwhal" from The Aquabats! and Horchata Records Presents Rice Capades Music Sampler, Vol. 1 (Captain Thumbs Up!)

Commentary: "Sympathy for the Narwhal" started it all, inspiring my co-creator & me to celebrate the first Narwhal Day sixteen impossibly swift years ago, on 23 May 2001. The date of 23 May was picked pretty arbitrarily, having no inherent connection to the narwhal of which I am aware, but it has since become very meaningful to many persons. I've never been privileged to receive any report on the popularity or prominence of Narwhal Day within any particular pod of narwhals, but we don't sympathize with the narwhal for its approval; we sympathize because of the narwhal's inherent magnificence & dignity.
"Play something sad,
Convince it all is not well…"

The Wayback Machine Tour of Narwhal Day
Narwhal Day '16 | Narwhal Day '15
Narwhal Day '14 | Narwhal Day '13
Narwhal Day '12 | Narwhal Day '11
Narwhal Day '10 | Narwhal Day '09
Narwhal Day '08 | Narwhal Day '07a & Narwhal Day '07b
Narwhal Day '06 | Narwhal Day '05
Narwhal Day '04 | Narwhal Day '03

Sympathetic Narwhal Day, everyone!

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day

Less Than Jake, "Sunstroke" from See the Light (The Last Angry Man)

Commentary: Though Less Than Jake (L.T.J.) are SKApril All-Stars, I cannot consider the choice of "Sunstroke" as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. part of the SKAfter Party because "Sunstroke" just isn't a ska song: there's no syncopated beat, no bouncing horns, no electric organ. "Sunstroke" wouldn't be the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. if it was not a worthy song, & L.T.J. still stands as one of the pillars of third-wave ska, this just happens to be one of their rare non-ska songs.

The subject matter is vintage L.T.J., all the same:
"When did I become a tourist
In the city I got my name from?…"

Countdown to Narwhal Day: One…


Tomorrow is Narwhal Day, that splendid day in celebration of & sympathy for the narwhal, one of God's oddest creatures, at least amidst the "normalcy" of the mammals, both terrestrial & aquatic. Of course, most of the strangest stuff is in the ocean, like the Portuguese man o' war & the coelacanth & the goblin shark & the anglerfish & the… But I digress. Narwhal!

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide

'Tis the Optional Memorial of Saint Rita of Cascia, Religious, O.S.A. (1381-1457): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duae, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

This is the second consecutive week without any hagiographical material in the Holy Redeemer bulletin. Space is the bulletin has been devoted to the parish festival, which is both a major fundraiser & a means by which we love our neighbors, & only happens once a year; there is also "end-of-the-year" thanks from the music ministry/worship coordinator to all those who helped make 2016-2017 a successful year. O.K., these are legitimate squeezes on the limited space available, but I will be forced to register my displeasure if the hagiographies do not return after the parish festival.


'Tis also the festival of Blessed Dulce Pontes, Religious, S.M.I.C. (1914-1992, A.K.A. Maria Rita Lópes Pontes de Souza Brito), foundress of the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce, the Obras Sociais Irmã Dulce in Portuguese: Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link O.S.I.D.

Commentary: Bl. Dulce was beatified on this date in 2011.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The acts of the Apostles, chapter sixteen, verses eleven thru fifteen;
Psalm One Hundred Forty-nine, verses one(b) & two; three & four; five, six(a), & nine(b);
The Gospel according to John, chapter fifteen, verse twenty-six thru chapter sixteen, verse four(a);

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, today’s Gospel focuses on the Holy Spirit’s role as witness to Jesus. “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.”

All Christian preaching is ultimately about the Paschal Mystery, the dying and rising of Jesus and the sending of the Holy Spirit. But this last element is especially important for today, because it signals the way that we are able to participate in the life that Jesus opens up to us. One of the chief marks of the Holy Spirit is the prompting to bold speech. From the apostles through the great evangelists and theologians, up to Billy Graham and John Paul II, the Spirit prompts people to confess the Lordship of Jesus. Remember that Paul told us, “No one can call Jesus Lord except in the Holy Spirit.”

Who is the Holy Spirit? He is the third person of the Holy Trinity, more precisely the love shared by the Father and the Son. As the love between Father and Son, the Spirit comes most fully to historical expression during the great events of the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery.

Mass Readings—Optional Memorial of St. Rita
The Letter to the Philippians, chapter four, verses four thru nine;
Psalm Forty, verse five(a);
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter six, verses twenty-seven thru thirty-eight.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Explorers' Club, № DL

Operation AXIOM: The World War—The Endless Battles of the Isonzo, Part VI
10 May-8 June 1017: The Tenth Battle of the Isonzo—The Italians switched tactics, attacking the Austro-Hungarians across a broad front instead of targeting a breakout from the bridgehead at Gorizia; after initial Italian success in May, an Austro-Hungarian counterattack in June recovered nearly all of gained/lost ground; Italian morale plunged; Austria-Hungary continued to wobble.





Lest we forget.

Countdown to Narwhal Day: Two…


Only two more days 'til Narwhal Day! Only two more days 'til Narwhal Day! I'm so excited I had to type it twice. It's the most narwhalsome day of the whole year!

Project BLACK MAMBA: Sixth Sunday of Easter

'Tis the Sixth Sunday of Easter: Paschal-link & Wikipedia-link Easter.

Scripture of the Week
Mass Readings—Sixth Sunday of Easter
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter eight, verses five thru eight & fourteen thru seventeen;
Psalm Sixty-six, verses one, two, & three; four & five; six & seven; sixteen; & twenty;
The First Letter of Peter, chapter three, verses fifteen thru eighteen;
The Gospel according to John, chapter fourteen, verses fifteen thru twenty-one.

Commentary: Video Easter Gospel reflection by Jeff Cavins: Encountering the Word.

Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus promises to send us the Spirit of Truth who will make us intimate friends of God. The Holy Spirit is the love shared by the Father and the Son. We have access to this holy heart of God only because the Father sent the Son into the world, into our dysfunction, even to the limits of godforsakenness—and thereby gathered all of the world into the dynamism of the divine life.

Those who live in Christ are not outside of God as petitioners or supplicants; rather they are in God as friends, sharers in the Spirit. And this spiritual life is what gives us knowledge of God, a knowledge, if you will, from within.

When the great masters of the Christian way speak of knowing God, they do not use the term in its distanced, analytical sense; they use it in the Biblical sense, implying knowledge by way of personal intimacy. This is why St. Bernard, for one, insists that initiates in the spiritual life know God, not simply through books and lectures, but through experience, the way one friend knows another. That knowledge is what the Holy Spirit facilitates.

Otherwise, 21 May would be the festival of Saint Godric of Finchale, Hermit (circa 1065-1170): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Twould also be the festival of Saint Cristóbal Magallanes Jara, Priest, & Companions, Martyrs (1869-1927, Anglicized as Christopher Magallanes; A.K.A. the Martyrs of the Mexican Revolution), martyred in the reign of the president Plutarco Calles: Martyr-link Charlie Mike Juliett, Martyrs-link ūnus, Martyrs-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

Mass Journal: Week 21
Reflection by Matthew Kelly, founder of the Dynamic Catholic Institute:
In every age, there [is] a small number of men & women who are prepared to turn their backs on popular culture & personal gain to embrace heroically the life Jesus outlines in the Gospels. These [persons] fashion Catholicism into a lifestyle, they listen attentively to the voice of God in their lives, & they passionately pursue their personal adventure of salvation. As a result, they capture the attention & the imaginations of everyone who crosses their path.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Lord's Day

For King & Country, "The Proof of Your Love" via iTunes (from Crave) (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Commentary: An excerpt from this week's Gospel reading, from John, 14:
15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.… 21 Whoever has My commandments & observes them is the one who loves Me. And whoever loves Me will be loved by My Father, & I will love him & reveal Myself to him."
"The Proof of Your Love" is most directly a reflection on St. Paul's famous discourse on what love is & isn't in 1 Corinthians, 13, but even there St. Paul is teaching us how to love as the Triune God loves, how to obey the commandments given us by Jesus, to love God & to love neighbor, because we cannot love God if we do not love our neighbor.
"So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love,
Let my love look like You
And what You're made of,
How You lived, how You died,
Love is sacrifice,
Let my love be the proof,
The proof of Your love…"

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Countdown to Narwhal Day: Three…


Only three days 'til Narwhal Day! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it! Squee!

Operation AXIOM

'Tis Armed Forces Day, the day we as a body politic salute those who are on active-duty service in defense of our freedom & way of life. My sincerest gratitude is extended to those who, in the noble words of A Few Good Men, "stand on a wall and say, 'Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch.'" Thank you.


Please take a few moments to remember the difference 'twixt Armed Forces Day (third Saturday in May), Memorial Day (last Monday in May; traditionally, 30 May), & Veterans' Day (11 November).

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide

'Tis the Optional Memorial of Saint Bernardine of Siena, Priest, O.F.M. (1380-1444): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Tis also the festival of Saint Lucifer of Calgiari, Bishop (died circa 370): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Blessed María Angélica Pérez, Religious (1897-1932, A.K.A. María Crescentia), nicknamed "Sister Sweetness:" Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter sixteen, verses one thru ten;
Psalm One Hundred, verses one(b) & two, three, & five;
The Gospel according to John, chapter fifteen, verses eighteen thru twenty-one.

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, today’s Gospel balances our Easter joy with the warning of danger from a society opposed to God: “If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”

It is altogether appropriate that, during this Easter season, we rejoice. The Lord is risen; he is truly risen. Jesus Christ is Lord. God is King. Sin and death have been defeated. All of that is true and remains centrally important during this season.

At the same time, we must not succumb to a “cheap grace” interpretation of Christianity, whereby Christ is risen and all is well. As Julian of Norwich said, “All will be well, all manner of things will be well.” Notice the future tense. The definitive battle has been won, but the war continues. The struggle is ongoing.

Mass Readings—Optional Memorial of St. Bernardine
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter four, verses eight thru twelve;
Psalm Forty, verses eight(a) & nine(a);
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter nine, verses fifty-seven thru sixty-two.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day: SKAfter Party


Prince Buster, "Madness" via iTunes (from King of Blue Beat) (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary:
"Madness, madness, they call it madness,
But if this madness then I know I'm filled with gladness,
It's gonna be rougher (rough),
it's gonna be tougher (tough),
And I won't be the one, no, no, no, who's gonna suffer…"

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day: SKAfter Party


Less Than Jake, "A Still Life Franchise" from In with the Out Crowd (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary:
"I remember that I kind of laughed at the sparks that spread the flames
Over all the ugly memories these past three years have made,
And I waited for the smoke to full my lungs and suffocate my pain away.

"So I say goodbye
And I just say so long (say so long),
Almost feeling paralyzed,
My still life with vital signs,
And I'll just say so long (say so long),
My good intentions gone so wrong,
Left me feeling so far gone…

"I remember when I found the place for the ends to this abnormal scene,
Living in this haunted house on this otherwise normal street,
Postcards and photographs of who we were start to burn and fade away.

"So I say goodbye, etc."

Countdown to Narwhal Day: Four…


Only four days 'til that day of days, Narwhal Day! Can ye feel the sympathy?

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide

'Tis the festival of Saint Dunstan, Bishop, O.S.B. (909-988, of Canterbury): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Tis also the festival of Saint Celestine V, Pope, O.S.B. Cel. (1215-1296), one hundred ninety-second Bishop of Rome; founder of the Celestines, a branch of the Benedictines: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link O.S.B. Cel.

'Tis also the festival of Blessed Peter Wright, Priest & Martyr, S.J. (1603-1651), martyred in the reign of the lord protector Oliver Cromwell: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Saint Theophilus of Corte, Priest, O.F.M. (1676-1740): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter fifteen, verses twenty-two thru thirty-one;
Psalm Fifty-seven, verses eight & nine, ten & twelve;
The Gospel according to John, chapter fifteen, verses twelve thru seventeen.

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, today’s Gospel instructs us in the way of loving others with God’s love. The whole of the Christian life is on display here: God is love. In other words, God is a self-emptying gift on behalf of the other. But this means, paradoxically, that to have God is to be what God is—and that means giving one’s life away.

Now we see the link which Jesus suggests between joy and commandment: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” Now we begin to understand the laws, commands, and demands of the Church. All are designed to make us more adept at giving ourselves away—more adept at love.

Don’t steal; don’t kill; don’t covet your neighbor’s goods or wife; honor your mother and father; worship God. All of these commands—positive and negative—are meant to awaken and make possible love.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Countdown to Narwhal Day: Five…


Narwhal Day checklist:

1) The Oath of Narwhal Day

2) "Sympathy for the Narwhal" by D.J. Seaghost

3) A minimum of one item of clothing, gray in color

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide

'Tis the Optional Memorial of Saint John I, Pope & Martyr (circa 470-526), fifty-third Bishop of Rome, martyred in the reign of the king Theoderic the Great: Martyr-link ūnus, Martyr-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Oddly, the Holy Redeemer bulletin lists today as St. John I's feast day, but says nothing of his life. I suspect there simply wasn't room, what will all the space occupied by the looming parish festival. A shame, that, but c'est la vie!

'Tis also the festival of Saint Eric of Sweden, Martyr (circa 1120-1161, A.K.A. King Eric IX), martyred bat the hands of pagan Swedish rebels: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Saint Felix of Cantalice, Religious, O.F.M. Cap. (1515-1587): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter fifteen, verses seven thru twenty-one;
Psalm Ninety-six, verses one & two(a), two(b) & three, & ten;
The Gospel according to John, chapter fifteen, verses nine thru eleven.

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, the two most important words in our Gospel today are joy and commandments. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.” And “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.” These are not terms that we would readily juxtapose. We usually associate commandments with the carrying out of duty and responsibility, or with moral rectitude, and that normally seems opposed to joy.

However, in Thomas Aquinas’s treatment of human behavior, the first question raised is not about law or virtue, but rather joy. Thomas wonders what the nature of true happiness is. What all of us seek, whether we are young or old, Christian or non-Christian, male or female, rich or poor, is joy.

The whole point of the moral life is to make us happy. So how do we become happy? Thomas’s answer, which is in line with the great tradition, is through the proper ordering of one’s desire, through learning how to desire the right things and in the right way. And that’s precisely what Jesus commands us to do.

Mass Readings—Optional Memorial of St. John I
The Book of Revelation, chapter three, verses fourteen(b), twenty, twenty-one, & twenty-two;
Psalm Twenty-three, verse one;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter twenty-two, verses twenty-four through thirty.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day: SKAfter Party


Reel Big Fish, " I Know You Too Well to Like You Anymore" from Candy Coated Fury (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: The title says it all.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Countdown to Narwhal Day: Six…


But six days remain 'til the seventeenth annual observance of Narwhal Day. Art thou prepared?

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide

'Tis the festival of Saint Pascal Baylon, Religious, O.F.M. (1540-1592): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Proclaimed the "Seraph of the Eucharist" by Pope Leo XIII.

'Tis also the festival of Blessed Ivan Ziatyk, Priest & Martyr, C.Ss.R. (1899-1952), martyred in the reign of the general secretary Joseph Stalin: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter fifteen, verses one thru six;
Psalm One Hundred Twenty-two, verses one & two, three & four(a,b), & four(c,d) & five;
The Gospel according to John, chapter fifteen, verses one thru eight.

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, our Gospel passage today is from the beautiful, evocative, and challenging fifteenth chapter of John’s Gospel. Jesus declares that he is the vine and we are the branches. He is the power and energy source in which we live. This image is closely related to Paul’s metaphor of the body of Christ.

The point is that we live in him and he in us. Jesus is the source of supernatural life in us, and without him, we would have none of it. If, therefore, you are separated from the vine, you will die spiritually, you will stop living a supernatural life. What does this look like concretely, to be attached to the vine? It means a steady immersion in the prayer of the Church. It means steady communion with God, speaking to him on a regular basis. It means an immersion in the Scriptures, soaking in the truth of the Bible. It means engaging in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

And, of course, it means you must participate in the sacraments—especially confession and the Eucharist. By the sacraments, we stay close to the Christ who forgives our sins and who enlivens our spirits.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day: SKAfter Party


Less Than Jake, "Give Me Something to Believe In, Inc." from See the Light (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: Yes, the picture above & the lyrics of "Give Me Something to Believe In, Inc." are somewhat at odds. This often happens when one is making a funny, funny joke. We here at The Secret Base believe in making funny, funny jokes, almost at all costs.
"Let me bring you back to the living,
Back to the time when you did more than exist.
Your compass is broken, you call yourself broken,
Call yourself all-in, but you're losing your grip.

"O-o-o, give me something to believe in,
I'm waiting on a reason,
Not to keep on floating along,
O-o-o, give me something to believe in,
So I can give you reasons
To wake yourself up and come in from the storm…"

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide


'Tis the festival of Saint Brendan the Navigator, Priest & Abbot (circa 684-577, of Clonfert): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. I thought a little whimsy about the fantastic Voyage of Saint Brendan appropriate, perhaps even necessary, in light of the rest of today's saints, priests all, having received the Red Crown of martyrdom. All Christians must suffer, as Christ suffered, but suffering is not all there is to the Christian life. As Belloc said:
"Wherever the Catholic sun does shine,
There's always laughter & good red wine."
'Tis also the festival of Saint John of Nepomuk, Priest & Martyr (circa 1340-1393, A.K.A. John Nepomucene), martyred in the reign of the king Wenceslaus IV: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Saint Andrzej Bobola, Priest & Martyr, S.J. (1591-1657), martyred in the reign of the Cossack hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Blessed Vladimir Ghika, Priest & Martyr (1873-1954), martyred in the reign of the general secretary Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter fourteen, verses nineteen thru twenty-eight;
Psalm One Hundred Forty-five, verses ten & eleven, twelve & thirteen(a,b), & twenty-one;
The Gospel according to John, chapter fourteen, verses twenty-seven thru thirty-one(a).

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us an antidote for fear. Whom or what are you afraid of? That is a very important spiritual question. One way to understand our life is to look at those things that we seek: wealth, power, privilege, honor, pleasure, friendship. But another way is to turn that question around and determine what or who it is that we fear.

We might fear the loss of material things, the loss of a job, the loss of physical health, the loss of the esteem of others, the loss of personal intimacy, and ultimately, the loss of life itself. We are afraid of many things, but I’d be willing to bet that there is a primary or principal fear. What is it for you?

Now after identifying that, listen to Jesus: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Any and all of the things that we customarily fear—loss of money, fame, pleasure, and power—have to do with this world. What Jesus is saying is that we should not let those fears come to dominate or define our lives, for he is with us—and with him, his peace.
Bible Study
The Book of Genesis, chapter one (verses one thru thirty-one);
The Book of Genesis, chapter two (verses one thru twenty-five);
The Book of Genesis, chapter three (verses one thru twenty-four);
The Gospel according to John, chapter one, verses one thru fourteen;

Commentary: I. The Primeval History: The First Story of Creation (Genesis, 1:1-2:4a), the Second Story of Creation (2:4b-25), & the Fall of Man (3:1-24); I. Prologue (John, 1:1-14)

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day: SKAfter Party

King Apparatus, "Hold Me Down" from Marbles (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary:
"Well, you tried but you won't be satisfied until you hold me down,
You can hold, but not control me, girl, you can't hold me down,
Come on, try and try, but you gonna find you can't hold me down,
Because better than you have tried and failed to hold me down,
I'm leavin' town!

"You can't hold me,
You can't hold me,
You can't hold me down.
You can't hold me,
You can't hold me,
You can't hold me down.

"No lock and key can work on me, I will be free,
My heart is wild, it was not styled for captivity,
So I stayed a spell, I though time would tell me friend from foe,
But I won't stick around and be held down, let me go,
Don't you know that—

"You can't hold me…"

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Rebel Black Dot Song of This Day: SKAfter Party


The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "The Rascal King" from The Impression That I Get (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary:
"Crooked was the path,
And brazen was the walk,
A cocky swagger up the ladder,
And could he ever talk!…

"The love of God,
In constant contradictions,
And just a smile, wink, and nod,
What's stranger: fact or fiction?…

"A legendary character
Where only there, when only there.
(Do it again!)
A hero or a hooligan?
Well, that part's never clear.
(Do it again!)
What a shame, it's all the same,
(Do it again!)
Who's innocent and who's to blame?
(Do it again!)
Politics or just a game?
Well, iffy if they knew his name…"

Project BLACK MAMBA: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Backlog Edition, II
Sunday, 14 May was the Fifth Sunday of Easter: Paschal-link & Wikipedia-link Easter.

Scripture of the Week
Mass Readings—Fifth Sunday of Easter
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter six, verses one thru seven;
Psalm Thirty-three, verses one & two, four & five, & eighteen & nineteen;
The First Letter of Peter, chapter two, verses four thru nine;
The Gospel according to John, chapter fourteen, verses one thru twelve.

Commentary: Audio Easter Gospel reflection by Jeff Cavins: Encountering the Word.

Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, in our Gospel passage today, Jesus once again explains his union with the Father. The disciples are gathered around Jesus at the Last Supper, abiding in intimacy with him, asking questions and seeking wisdom. Listen to Jesus’ words: “If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Later, Paul picks up on this idea when he refers to Jesus as the “icon of the invisible God.”

In these accounts, we sense the humility of the Logos. Jesus says, “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.” Neither the words nor the deeds of Jesus are his own. They are received from the Father. The Trinitarian theological tradition respects this when it speaks of the Son as the interior word of the father and as having received everything from the Father.

Otherwise, 14 May would have been the festival of Saint Matthias, Apostle (died circa 80): Apostle-link ūnus, Apostle-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Twould have been the festival of Saint Érembert of Toulouse, Bishop, O.S.B. (circa 610-672): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Mass Journal: Week 20
Reflection by Matthew Kelly, founder of the Dynamic Catholic Institute:
In every age, the Church experiences problems & difficulties. Our time is no different. The solution to the prpoblems that plague our lives & the Church is unchanging & singular. The problems are many; the solution is solitary. Personal holiness is the answer to every problem. In every situation of my life, in every problem, in every difficulty, I know that if I allow the values & principles of the Gospel to guide me, it will turn out for the best.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Lord's Day: Eastertide


Sonntag, 14. Mai
Rend Collective, "Build Your Kindgom Here" via iTunes (from Homemade Worship by Handmade People) (The Last Angry Man)

Commentary:
"Build Your kingdom here,
Let the darkness fear,
Show Your mighty hand,
Heal our streets and land,
Set Your Church on fire,
Win this nation back,
Change the atmosphere,
Build Your kingdom here,
We pray!"

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide—Backlog Edition, I

Saturday, 13 May was the Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Fátima (apparitions 13 May-13 October 1917): Our Lady-link ūna, Our Lady-link duae, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
In the spring & summer of 1916, nine-year-old Lúcia Santos & her cousins (Ss.) Jacinta & Francisco Marto (20 February) were herding sheep at the Cova da Iria near their home village of Fátima, Portugal. They later said they were visited three times by an apparition of an angel. They said the angel, who identified [itself] as "The Angel of Peace," taught them prayers, to make sacrifices, & to spend time in adoration of the Lord.
I agree that it is an odd choice of the bulletin's editor, Fran, to focus exclusively on the 1916 preparatory apparitions of the Angel of Peace, instead of the 1917 apparitions of Our Lady, the centenary of which is kind of a big deal to a large numbers of persons within the Church, involving pilgrimages, prayers, indulgences, & such.

It cannot be ignored that some of the Fatima people are vicious conspiracy theorists, bordering on heretics, but most are of good will & sincere devotion.


'Twas also the festival of Saint John the Silent, Bishop & Hermit (454-558, A.K.A. John Hesychastes): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Twas also the festival of Saint Peter de Regelado, Priest, O.F.M. Conv. (1390-1456, A.K.A. Peter Regalatus): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter thirteen, verses forty-four thru fifty-two;
Psalm Ninety-eight, verses one, two & three(a,b), & three(c,d) & four;
The Gospel according to John, chapter fourteen, verses seven thru fourteen.

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus declares his mutual indwelling with God: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” Charles Williams, a friend of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, stated that the master idea of Christianity is “coinherence,” what he described as mutual indwelling.

But we sometimes forget that we are all interconnected. How do we often identify ourselves? Almost exclusively through the naming of relationships: we are sons, brothers, daughters, mothers, fathers, members of organizations, or members of the Church. Yet read the Gospel today and see how Jesus identifies himself. Jesus reveals the co-inherence that obtains within the very existence of God. “Lord,” Philip said to him, “show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus replied, “Philip, after I have been with you all this time, you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

How can this be true, unless the Father and the Son coinhere in each other? Though Father and Son are really distinct, they are utterly implicated in each other by a mutual act of love. As Jesus says, “It is the Father who lives in me accomplishing his works.”
Mass Readings—Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Fátima
The Book of Isaiah, chapter sixty-one, verses nine, ten, & eleven;
Psalm Forty-five, verse eleven;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter eleven, verses twenty-seven & twenty-eight.

Mass Readings—Ordination of Deacons in the Diocese of Lansing
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter eight, verses twenty-six thru forty;
Psalm Ninety-six, verses one & two(a), two(b) & three, & ten;
The First Letter to Timothy, chapter three, verses eight, nine, ten, twelve, & thirteen;
The Gospel according to John, chapter fifteen, verses nine thru seventeen.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Saturday: SKAfter Party


Samstag, 13. Mai
Less Than Jake, "The Science of Selling Yourself Short" from Anthem (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary:
"And so I sit and wait and wonder,
Does anyone else feel like me?
I'm so overdosed on apathy
And burnt out on sympathy…

"I'm so far gone
That deep down inside I think it's fine by me,
I'm my own worst enemy…"

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide

'Tis the Optional Memorial of Saint Isidore the Farmer, Confessor (circa 1070-1130), husband of Bl. María de la Cabeza: Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Tis also the festival of Blessed María de la Cabeza, Confessor (died 1175, meaning "of the Head;" A.K.A. Maria Torriba), wife of St. Isidore the Farmer: Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Saints Bertha & Rupert of Bingen, Pilgrims (died circa 757 & 712-732), mother & son: Saint-link Bravo & Wikipedia-link Bravo, Saint-link Romeo & Wikipedia-link Romeo.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter fourteen, verses five thru eighteen;
Psalm One Hundred Fifteen, one & two, three & four, & fifteen & sixteen;
The Gospel according to John, chapter fourteen, verses twenty-one thru twenty-six.

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to inspire, strengthen, and defend his followers. Speaking to his disciples the night before he dies, Jesus tells them that he and his Father will send another Parakletos. The word, from kaleo (to call) and para (for, or on behalf of) designates something like an advocate, a lawyer, someone who would plead on behalf of another, who would support, advocate, and encourage.

Jesus will depart physically from the scene, but he and his Father will send their Spirit as a friend. This is the supporter, the advocate who will inspire Christians up and down the ages.

When the martyrs went to their deaths, it was with the help of the Holy Spirit; when the missionaries went to proclaim the faith in hostile lands, it was the Holy Spirit who pleaded on their behalf; when Michelangelo painted the Sistine Ceiling, it was the Holy Spirit who lifted him up; when Thomas Aquinas wrote his theological masterpieces, it was at the prompting of the Advocate. What is the Advocate prompting you to do today?
Mass Readings—Optional Memorial of St. Isidore
The Book of Revelation, chapter nineteen, verses one & five thru nine(a);
Psalm One Hundred Three, verses one;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter eleven, verses twenty-five thru thirty.

Bible Study
Commentary: I am leading a new Bible study beginning this evening, The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation, part of the Great Adventure series from Jeff Cavins & Ascension Press. So, that will pretty much be dominating & directing my individual scriptural reading for the next little while.

Bonus! Song of the Day
Patrick Doyle & the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, "Non Nobis, Domine" via YouTube (from Henry V) (The Last Angry Man)

Commentary: "Non Nobis, Domine" is a new composition by Doyle for Kenneth Branagh's 1989 film Henry V, differing from the traditional hymn "Non nobis," but likewise based on Psalm 115 (today's psalm, & thus the selection). The song is sung in a most poignant scene following the climactic Battle of Agincourt: YouTube-link.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Explorers' Club, № DXLIX

Operation AXIOM: The World War
14-15 May 1917: The Battle of the Straits of Otranto—A squadron of the Austro-Hungarian Imperial & Royal War Navy (kaiserlich und königlich Kriegsmarine) under the command of Miklós Horthy raided the Otranto Barrage, sinking over a dozen anti-submarine drifters & two destroyers, & interdicting a munitions convoy, temporarily lifting the Entente blockade 'twixt the Adriatic & Mediterranean Seas.





Lest we forget.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day: SKAfter Party

Reel Big Fish, "She's Not the End of the World" from Candy Coated Fury (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide

'Tis the Optional Memorial of Saints Nereus & Achilleus, Martyrs (died 98, of Terracina), martyred in the reign of the emperor Trajan: Martyrs-link, Martyr-link November, Martyr-link Alpha, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
Nereus & Achilleus were Roman soldiers of the Praetorian Guard (the emperor's bodyguard) who were martyred at the end of the first century, & were said to have been baptized by St. Peter (22 February & 29 June) himself. When they became Christians they gave up their posts which they saw as immoral & were exiled & then killed under the reign of the emperor Trajan.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
Ss. Nereus & Achilleus were at first enrolled in the military tribunal, but both left the military once they had converted to the faith. For this faith they were condemned to death, probably during the reign of [Trajan]. Their sepulcher is preserved in the cemetery on the Ardeatine Way were a basilica has been constructed in their honor.
'Tis also the Optional Memorial of Saint Pancras, Martyr (circa 289-304, of Rome), martyred in the reign of the emperor Diocletian: Martyr-link ūnus, Martyr-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
Pancras was a Syrian boy of pagan origin who went to Rome & was converted to Christianity. He was beheaded in 304 at the age of fourteen during the persecution of the emperor Diocletian.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
St. Pancras died at Rome probably during the Diocletianic Persecution. He was beheaded at the age of fourteen. His tomb over which Pope (St.) Symmachus (19 July) built a church is preserved on the Aurelian Way.
'Tis also the festival of Saint Dominic de la Calzada, Priest & Hermit (1019-1109, meaning "of the Causeway"): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter thirteen, verses twenty-six thru thirty-three;
Psalm Two, verses six & seven, eight & nine, & ten & eleven(a,b);
The Gospel according to John, chapter fourteen, verses one thru six.

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, in today’s familiar and majestic passage, Jesus exhorts us to trust him: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” So much depends on the spiritual meaning of the little word “trust.” Jeremiah the prophet laid it out as starkly and simply as possible: “Cursed be the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord.” And conversely, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord.”

What does it mean to trust, to have hope, to turn one’s heart to God? It means to root the whole of one’s life in God, and not to ground our concerns in the things of this world, in wealth, power, pleasure, and honor.

Ask yourself, what is the center of gravity in my life? The Bible consistently proposes this question. For example, read the book of Joshua, when Joshua lays it on the line for the people of Israel: “Do you serve the Lord or some other gods?” That’s the question being asked of you today.
Mass Readings—Optional Memorial of Ss. Nereus & Achilleus
The Book of Revelation, chapter seven, verses nine thru seventeen;
Psalm One Hundred Twenty-four, verse seven;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter ten, verses seventeen thru twenty-two.

Mass Readings—Optional Memorial of St. Pancras
The Book of Revelation, chapter nineteen, verses one & five thru nine(a);
Psalm One Hundred Three, verse one;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter eleven, verses twenty-five thru thirty.

The Queue

How the Reformation Happened was a most welcome breath of fresh air, a scathing rebuttal of & rebellion against the polite, accepted, & virulently anti-Catholic history so often presented in the English-speaking world, dominated as it has so long been by Protestantism & Protestantism's logical successor, nihilistic atheism. Not that How the Reformation Happened spares the Church, whose many failings are laid out & condemned. I look forward to reading more Belloc, though for the nonce none of his other books have been added to the queue.

I'm not going to read anything else until I finally finish Amoris Lætitia.

Recently
Matthew Kelly, Resisting Happiness
Daria Sockey, The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours
Hilaire Belloc, How the Reformation Happened

Currently
Pope Francis, Amoris Lætitia (The Joy of Love)

Presently
Norman Davies, Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations ***interrupted***
Richard Price, Clockers
Sir Richard Francis Burton, translator, "Sinbad the Sailor" from The Arabian Nights
Sir Ernest Shackleton, South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage
William F. Buckley Jr., The Unmaking of a Mayor
Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World
Scott & Kimberly Hahn, Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism
Sherry A. Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus
William E. Simon Jr., Great Catholic Parishes: How Four Essential Practices Make Them Thrive
Mike Aquilina, Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers
Bishop Robert Barron, Seeds of the Word: Finding God in the Culture
Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
John W. O'Malley, What Happened at Vatican II
Edward Sri & Curtis Martin, The Real Story: Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible
Kevin Lowry, How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming into the Catholic Church

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide

'Tis the festival of Saint Odilo of Cluny, Abbot, O.S.B. (circa 962-1049): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: St. Olido was the fifth abbot of the Cluny Abbey. I don't think that we've ever drawn any particular attention to the lost wonder that was Cluny & the Cluniac network of monastic houses. Methinks this ripe fodder for a rare non-First World War episode of "The Explorers' Club." 'Til then: Cluny-link.

'Tis also the festival of Saint Ignatius of Laconi, Religious, O.F.M. Cap. (1701-1781): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter thirteen, verses thirteen thru twenty-five;
Psalm Eighty-nine, verses two & three, twenty-one & twenty-two, & twenty-five & twenty-seven;
The Gospel according to John, chapter thirteen, verses sixteen thru twenty.

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, in today’s Gospel passage, Jesus pointedly calls us to humble behavior. “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.” St. Catherine of Sienna once heard the Lord say to her, “Remember that I am and you are not.” And St. Paul said, “What do you have that you have not received? So why do you boast?”

To believe in God is to know these truths. To live them out is to live in the attitude of humility. Thomas Aquinas said that humility is truth. It is living out the deepest truth of things: God is God and we are not.

Now all of this sounds very clear when it’s stated in this abstract manner, but we know how hard it is to live out! In our fallen world, we forget so readily that we are creatures, that we have been made from nothing. Then our egos being to inflate: “I am. I want. I expect. I demand.” The ego becomes a massive monkey on our backs, and it has to be fed and pampered constantly. That’s why today’s Gospel is so important. We are only messengers, not greater than the Master.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day: SKAfter Party


Nothing for Something, "Ska Kids" courtesy Sergeant Ska (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: I gave consideration to making this SKAfter Party an all-Mighty Mighty Bosstones affair, & they've got the tunes to sustain it, but that seemed entirely too calculating & regimented, quite contrary to the freewheeling spirit of the SKAfter Party. SKApril is serious business, with goals & objectives & such (which is not to say that it isn't also absurdly fun); but the SKAfter Party is just a party. The fewer rules a party has, the better.

"Ska Kids" was part of the second annual SKApril, being the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. on 2 April 2012.
"Well, I see you at a show and I think that you see me,
I get all my hopes up oh so desperately,
But after we play and I look for you some more,
You are now gone and I want to scream, 'Whore!'

"But when I think about it, well, I think I understand,
Who'd want to kiss a guy like me?
Who'd want to hold my hand?

"Well, many guys will leave the show tonight
With a little girl in tow, (Alright!)
For us it's always just dance, dance, dance,
And we never will get a chance.

"'Cause ska kids (Hey!) we never get laid!
And ska bands (Hey!) we never get paid!
Oh no, oh no, oh no.

"Well, the emo kids, I don't know why they whine and pout,
They're always with some different girl, just laying about,
And the punk rock kids will punch you in your face,
If you step into the pit then you'll get a nice brace!

"Well, these guys all have their girly fans,
And surely they will get with them,
But I guess that that's O.K.

"Well, many guys will leave the show tonight,
With a little girl in tow, (Alright!), etc."
Code Name: CHAOS
Sergeant Ska (initials: Alpha Bravo) was originally code named Ska Army, because he is a devoted ska kid (a member of The Loose Ties!) & serves in the United States Army, but his code name was changed to Sergeant Ska upon his promotion to, you guessed it, the rank of sergeant in that same U.S. Army.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Urbi et Orbi: Of Human Life

I recently received an e-mail that, among other things, posed the following query:
Admittedly, some of the more delicate faith questions I have posed to my friend [Code Name: JULIETT], who became Catholic a couple of years ago. Though, she and I are still a bit unclear on why birth control is wrong. I can see it from both sides I guess. Thoughts? Or, perhaps I should find another resource for this info.
What follows after this paragraph is my e-mailed response. I was in a foul mood when I set about writing this. I wasn't particularly eager to defend one of the Church's most oft-attacked positions—I would have preferred something cute, almost silly, like "Why do we call priests 'Father'?"—but as I wrote I found my mind & my fingers guided by so much that I had learned in just the last five years, how much I had come to appreciate the beauty & coherence of Catholic social teaching. I'm pretty pleased with what I produced on the spur of the moment, if I do say so myself. (Herein we treat only the morality of contraception, not any of the physical mechanics & deleterious side effects.)

The short version of why contraception is wrong: The world, the flesh, & the devil say that sexual intercourse is a mere biological act, that humans being are no more than rutting animals. One person has the right to use another person (with that person's consent) as a sexual appliance, as the living blow-up doll meant to provide pleasure to Person A, with Person B's pleasure or dignity an optional afterthought. The logical consequences of this view include (note that I'm not implying moral equivalence between these acts) fornication, adultery, promiscuity, prostitution, pornography, contraception, & abortion. After all, if sexual intercourse is mere animalistic rutting, what is the logic in constraining it inside suffocating moral structures such as monogamy or non-monetized couplings? The pornographers sell a T-shirt that reads, "Relax, it's just sex."

The Church, as the Body of Christ guided by the Holy Spirit, knows that the conjugal act has both biological & spiritual dimensions. At the after party bar crawl following a wedding & reception I attended last fall, I had occasion to speak with a rather slutty girl who lamented, as we talked about how God created sex & made man to be a sexual being, "I know, I know, sex is just for procreation." This is not so. This is not the Church's teaching. The conjugal act (the very term "conjugal" indicates that it is limited to the validly married) is first & foremost a profound expression of love. As we know from Christ's earthly ministry, divinely inspired sacred Scripture, & the reason that informs the Church's Tradition, love is not selfish, but self-giving. The sacrament of matrimony is an earthly reflection of the Triune God's espousal to His Church because it is totally & unreservedly self-giving. God gives everything to us: life itself, the necessities of life, a myriad of gifts & abilities, & through the selfless gift of Christ's death for our sins, eternal life & perfect communion with him, for ever & ever, world without end, amen.

The married couple give themselves to each other without reservation. The husband is not meant to be using the wife as a mere instrument of his own pleasure nor is the wife to be using the husband as an instrument of her own pleasure. Instead, they are meant to be giving themselves totally to one other, including giving each other pleasure. Giving each other everything. Upon occasion, as God determines, these instances of sexual intercourse result in the conception of children, as a blessed fruit of the couple's self-giving love. One of Saint John Paul II's greatest gifts to the Church was to remind us that sex is meant to be, &here I am very, very loosely paraphrasing, mind-blowingly awesome. Sex is not just about procreation, though procreation is a great gift of that proper self-giving love.

Now, to use "birth control" inside an otherwise sacred marriage is to say, "No, I will not make a total gift of my life, of my very self, to my spouse. Instead, I will hold back my fertility. I will not give myself totally, I will give myself only as little or as much as I want on a case-by-case basis." The physical act of love is therefore no longer without reservation, as is Christ's love for His Church—the People of God—but has become essentially transactional in nature: I'll give you this in exchange for that, but I won't give you everything. Christ didn't give Himself partially on the Cross, He gave Himself totally.

Now, of course, many persons who consider themselves Christians argue that birth control is morally acceptable, even a positive good. In the same way, there are many persons who consider themselves Christians who insist that Christ didn't really mean "no divorce" when He said "no divorce." After all, that was teaching in first century Judea, not twenty-first century America. Life was essentially different then than it is now. Each of us has to determine for her- or himself how to apply Jesus' teachings to our lives. We can pick & choose those teachings that will help us to be better persons without seriously inconveniencing ourselves; after all, we have busy lives to live & Jesus would never want us to deny ourselves any pleasure or convenience. This is a shabby, bargain-basement, cafeteria Christianity: we pick those teachings we like & disregard those teachings we don't. This sham Christianity is a problem in the Catholic Church, it is a problem in the Protestant & Evangelical churches (which includes the "non-denominational" churches), it is a problem in the Orthodox churches; it was a problem among the Twelve Apostles, both during Christ's earthly ministry & after the Ascension.

This is one of the perils to which the Lord alludes in Matthew, 7:13 & 14:
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide & the road broad that leads to destruction, & those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate & constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.
If I seem particularly aggressive against cafeteria Christianity, it is only because I used to be a cafeteria Catholic before my awakening, following Christ when it was convenience & ignoring Him when it wasn't. Christ did not come to earth, did not suffer the indignity of becoming a human being, so that we could settle for comfort & convenience. He came, & died, so that we could follow Him, could pick up our cross daily, to do the hard work of working out our salvation with fear & trembling. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote:
"The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness."
Helpful references if you want to read the Church's official teaching:
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, Part Three, Section Two, Chapter Two, Article 6—The Sixth Commandment § 2331-2379 (especially § 2364-2372).

YOUCAT (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church), Part Three, Section Two, Chapter Two, The Sixth Commandment § 400-425 (especially § 420 & 421).

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide

'Tis the Optional Memorial of Saint Damien de Veuster, Priest, SS.CC. (1840-1889, of Moloka'i): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
He was a Roman Catholic priest from Belgium & a members of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary, a missionary religious institute. He won recognition for his ministry from 1973-1889 in the Kingdom of Hawaii to people with leprosy, who were required to live under a government-sanctioned medical quarantine on the island of Moloka'i, on the Kalaupapa Peninsula.
'Tis also the festival of Saint John of Ávila, Priest & Doctor of the Church (1499-1569): Doctor-link ūnus, Doctor-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Blessed Ivan Merz, Confessor (1896-1928): Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter twelve, verse twenty-four thru chapter thirteen, verse five;
Psalm Sixty-seven, verses two & three, five, & six & eight;
The Gospel according to John, chapter twelve, verses forty-four thru fifty.

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus makes it clear once again that he and the Father are one. God is not a force or an energy or a spiritual presence occupying the deep background of your life; he’s not something that you can tap into when you feel like it. Nor is God a distant supreme being who organized the universe long ago and now leaves it to its own devices.

Rather, God is the Lord. He is the commander, the ruler, the governor, the one who makes a demand and who then involves himself intimately in the affairs of the world.

More to it, this Lord is one. This is, as argued by Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), a subversive statement, for it undermines anyone or anything else’s claim to be absolute. No country, no president, no prime minister, no culture, no book, no person or political party is absolute—only God. The unity of God, for Jews and Christians, is not simply a theoretical claim; it is an enormously important existential claim. Jesus and the Father are one God who is the Lord of all creation.
Mass Readings—Optional Memorial of St. Damien
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter twenty, verses seventeen, eighteen(a), twenty-eight thru thirty-two, & thirty-six;
Psalm Forty, verses eight(a) & nine(a);
The Gospel according to John, chapter ten, verses eleven thru sixteen.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day: SKAfter Party


The Mighty Might Bosstones, "Where You Come From" from Pay Attention (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary:
"It's not where you come from,
It's more where you're going,
And knowing the going might get strange,
The world's greatest writers
Are all drunks and fighters,
Get going, that isn't going to change…"

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide

'Tis the festival of Saint Pachomius, Abbot (circa 290-348, A.K.A the Great, of Tabenna): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter eleven, verses nineteen thru twenty-six;
Psalm Eighty-seven, verses one(b), two, & three; four & five; & six & seven;
The Gospel according to John, chapter ten, verses twenty-two thru thirty.

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus explains why his sheep listen to him and follow him. They do so because he is leading them to eternal life. He says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” The life of heaven, where we “shall never perish,” is that place where death and sickness have no power over us, where we see God face to face.

Heaven and earth are always connected in the Biblical imagination, that’s true. But heaven should never be reduced to earth, as though religion is just about this-worldly ethics, social justice, or psychological well-being. No, the Christian faith is about a journey beyond this world to the heavenly Jerusalem.

Everything in Christian life—from our ethical behavior, to prayer, to the liturgy, to the works of justice—all of it is meant to conduce to that end. So listen to the voice of the shepherd and follow him wherever he goes.
God's Comic
You've done it again, Eye of the Tiber: E.O.T.T.-link.

* * * * *

Thursday, 9 March was the festival of Saint Catherine of Bologna, Virgin & Abbess, O.S.C. (1413-1463): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

The R.B.D.S.O.T.D.: SKAfter Party | Project PANDORA


The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Don't Worry Desmond Dekker" from Medium Rare (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: Quite without intending to do so, I broke a girl's heart last night. She is a darling girl who is important to me, & I thought we were strictly friends, but she had hoped otherwise; I didn't realize that the renewal of our friendship put us on a collision course with my discernment to the priesthood, to lifelong celibacy. The lyrics of "Don't Worry Desmond Dekker" don't match what happened last night, but this is still the song that spoke to my heart when I woke up this morning.
"What happened up on Hemingway, we will never change,
You used to be a friend of mine.
The last five years went past so fast, so fast I find it strange,
The beneficial medicine of time.

"And I, I can hear your laughter,
It stays with me after
All this time.
And I, I still got your records,
Clash and the Selecter,
And don't worry, Desmond Dekker's doing fine.

"The doors were shut, the lines were cut, the walls went up so quick,
The windows of opportunity were small.
Prides collide, divides were wide, sides we had to pick,
And, oh yeah, I forgot to call.

"And I, I can hear your laughter,
It stays with me after
All this time.
And I, I still got your records,
Clash and the Selecter,
And don't worry, Desmond Dekker's doing fine…"

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day: SKAfter Party

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Chasing the Sun Away" from A Jackknife to a Swan (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones rarely sing of love, but when they do so, it never ends well. There is no happily-ever-after in third-wave ska.
"How could the sun come
Out after the night
She walked away
From what you thought was true love?
And how come
There isn't barrels of rain
On the day after the night
She said, 'There's someone else'?

"How come? Could someone explain,
Where is the rain?
Rain, send barrels of rain,
To coincide with the pain.

"You're chasing the sun away, hey!
You're chasing the sun away, hey!
You're chasing the sun away, hey!
You're chasing the sun!
Hey!
Hey!
Hey!
Chase it away!

"Outside the sun rose,
And you stayed inside
You kept your eyes closed,
Pulled down the shades on your windows,
You decided to high out
From the sunlight, it's too bright,
Just doesn't sit right,
With the way you're feeling today,
You're cloudy and gray…"

Project BLACK MAMBA: Eastertide

'Tis the festival of Saint Benedict II, Pope (died 685), eighty-first Bishop of Rome: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Saint Peter of Tarentaise, Bishop, O.Cist. (1102-1174): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Fun Fact: Pope Bl. Innocent V (22 June), who lived a century after St. Peter of Tarentaise, was also named Peter of Tarentaise before taking the regnal name Innocent.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Easter Weekday
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter eleven, verses one thru eighteen;
Psalm Forty-two, verses two & three & Psalm Forty-three, verses three & four;
The Gospel according to John, chapter ten, verses eleven thru eighteen.

Commentary: Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
The image of God as shepherd is a classic one in the Bible. In the book of the prophet Ezekiel, we hear that God would one day come and shepherd Israel himself. Shepherds guarded, guided, protected, and watched over their flocks—just as God guards, guides, protects and watches over Israel.

This image comes to a climactic expression in the words of Jesus: “I am the good shepherd.” What precisely makes him good? A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The good shepherd is so other-oriented, so devoted to his sheep that he is willing to surrender his life that they might live. Sure, a good shepherd should do all that he can to protect and guide his flock, but who among us would really expect him to give his life for them? But this is precisely what Jesus claims to do.

Imagine the difference between humans and sheep; and now multiply that difference infinitely. That would give you some idea of the difference between God and humanity. And yet God is willing to lay down his life for the likes of us.
Bible Study
The First Letter of Peter, chapter four, verses twelve thru nineteen;
The First Letter of Peter, chapter five (of five; verses one thru fourteen).

Commentary: IV. Advice to the Persecuted: Trial of Persecution (4:12-19), Advice to Presbyters (5:1-4), & Advice to the Community (5:5-11); V. Conclusion (5:12-14).

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Explorers' Club, № DXLVIII

Operation AXIOM: The World War—The Nivelle Offensive, Part IV
May-June 1917: The French Army mutinied—Its morale shattered by the failure of Nivelle's promises to end the war within forty-eight hours & over 5% of military-aged French males (from the whole populace) having already been killed in three years of war, twenty-one divisions mutinied by the end of May; the offensive was halted (9 May); & General Nivelle was relieved of his command (15 May).





Lest we forget.

Project BLACK MAMBA: 4th Sunday of Easter

'Tis the Fourth Sunday of Easter: Paschal-link & Wikipedia-link Easter.

Scripture of the Week
Mass Readings—Fourth Sunday of Easter
The Acts of the Apostles, chapter two, verses fourteen(a) & thirty-six thru forty-one;
Psalm Twenty-three, verses one, two, & three(a); three(b) & four; & five & six;
The First Letter of Peter, chapter two, verses twenty(b) thru twenty-five;
The Gospel according to John, chapter ten, verses one thru ten.

Commentary: Video Easter Gospel reflection by Jeff Cavins: Encountering the Word.

Easter Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, today’s Gospel presents one of the most enduring and endearing images of Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd who guides and lays down his life for his sheep. How wonderful and strange that Christianity is not a set of ideas. It’s not a philosophy or an ideology. It’s a relationship with someone who has a voice. The first disciples were privileged to hear the voice of the historical Jesus. They heard its very particular tone and texture.

But we hear his voice too in our own way, especially when we hear the Scriptures proclaimed at Mass. Mind you, we don’t just read the Bible; we hear the Bible. We also hear the voice of Jesus when the bishops and the Popes speak. We can also hear the voice of Jesus in the conscience, which Newman called “the aboriginal vicar of Christ in the soul.” We can hear the voice of Jesus in good spiritual friends as well, in those people who comfort us and challenge us and keep calling us to higher ideals and encourage us when we fall.

We listen to the voice of Jesus because he is leading us to a renewed and transformed life with God.
Otherwise, 7 May would be the festival of Saint John of Beverley, Bishop, O.S.B. (died 721): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Twould also be the festival of Saint Rose Venerini, Religious M.P.V. (1656-1728), foundress of the Venerini Sisters, formally the Religious Teachers Venerini: Saint-link ūna, Saint-link duae, & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link M.P.V.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

Mass Journal: Week 19
Reflection by Matthew Kelly, founder of the Dynamic Catholic Institute:
How I wish that when people discovered you or I are Catholic, they could immediately conclude that we are honest, hardworking, generous, loving, joyful, compassionate, temperate, humble, disciplined, prayerful, & generally in love with life. You wouldn't need too many people like this to develop a positive reputation for Catholicism in a local community. I pray that God raises them up. I pray that God will transform you & me into Catholics of that caliber. All it will take to radically alter the way Catholics are perceived in society today is for you & me to become… honest, hardworking, generous, loving, joyful, compassionate, temperate, humble, disciplined, prayerful, & generally in love with life.