Friday, January 11, 2013

News from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 Recently at Oxford in England eleven formerly Anglican Sisters and their Superior were received into the Church, forming a new community called "The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary."  The sisters have adopted the Rule of St. Benedict, and for six weeks will live with a Benedictine community to get used to Benedictine observance.  After that, they will be on their own.  Having left their Anglican community, the sisters, who are penniless, will then become homeless as wellSeveral of the sisters appear to be of an age when hardship and upheaval would have little appeal.  As their superior concedes, "[w]e’ve got an uncertain future. But we are doing this because we truly believe this is God’s call. The Bible is full of people called to step out in faith not knowing where they were going or how they will be provided for and that truly is the situation we are following.”

The estimable Dr. Oddie has more here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

No plans yet for the feast of St. Mungo?

Coat of arms of Glasgow (St. Mungo at top)

You may still be able to get a cheap flight to Glasgow, and once there you can shoot over to St. Columba's Church, which is the best place to be this Sunday for celebrating the feast of St. Mungo.  St. Mungo, also known as St. Kentigern, was Glasgow's founder, first bishop and patron saint.  The city's coat of arms include emblems of St. Kentigern's four miracles, and the city's motto is taken from a sermon of St. Kentigern.  More here. (h/t New Liturgical Movement).

I'm surprised they didn't spin

St. John Bosco's relics during visit to Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool

When the liturgical dance started.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

We Irish are a sentimental lot

Rudy Bowman (left) with Ben Johnson and John Wayne in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon"

Which is why we love stories like this one.  If you've watched John Ford's "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," (and if you haven't you certainly should) you may recall the scene where a gravely wounded "Trooper Smith," who is actually a former CSA general enlisted in the US Cavalry under a pseudonym, speaks a few words in commendation of his sergeant, likewise a former CSA officer, before expiring.  There is a touching story behind this scene that speaks well not only of the actor portraying Trooper Smith, but also of John Ford himself.

The actor's name is Rudy Bowman, and though from his youth Bowman had dreamed of becoming an actor, and though he had indeed appeared in many movies, at the age of 59 Bowman was playing the sole speaking role of his career.  That's because, as an infantryman in the Great War, Bowman suffered a grievous shrapnel wound which tore out a portion of his trachea, including all of his vocal cords.   Though he could barely breathe, much less speak, Bowman was, in a way, fortunate, in that the rest of his squad had been instantly killed by the shell blast.  However, such a wound would seem to have put an end to Bowman's dream of an acting career.   Nevertheless, Bowman persevered, finding work in Hollywood as an extra and as a camera man.  Even more remarkably, through years of practice and exercise, Bowman actually taught himself to speak using the ventricular folds of the throat.  At first, Bowman managed only barely audible grunts, but eventually, through precise breath control, Bowman could achieve clipped, short phrases of otherwise normal sounding speech.

The director of the scene, John Ford, had served as a Commander in the US Navy Reserve during World War II, and was himself wounded by shrapnel at the Battle of Midway.  Ford also filmed the bloody D-Day landings on Omaha Beach, though the undoubtedly shocking footage has never been publicly shown, and is said to be lost.  Moreover, Ford had served in the OSS (the predecessor to the CIA), suffering a gunshot wound during an OSS mission.   As a twice-wounded veteran, Ford took great satisfaction in employing fellow Purple Heart winners in his pictures.   Ford knew of Bowman, and happily offered him the role of Trooper Smith, confident that speaking a dying man's few final words was within Bowman's abilities. 

Everyone on the set that day was aware of Bowman's story.  After an encouraging wink from John Wayne, Bowman began his short scene.  Halfway through his character's short, dying speech, which Bowman pronounced in phrases of a few words each, his voice broke, and a tear ran down his cheek.  Bowman quickly recovered, and when he had finished, even the hardened stunt men were also in tears.
(h/t Directed by John Ford)

Friday, January 4, 2013

First Fridays and the Sacred Heart

I confess there was a time when devotion to the Sacred Heart was mainly a source of embarrassment to me.  I associated devotion to the Sacred Heart with florid holy picture cards, examples of which (like the one above), could be found in every Catholic home and even most Catholic automobiles when I was a wee laddie.  These cards reflected the seemingly unsophisticated, mechanical and somewhat musty piety which, in those heady Vatican II days, the more advanced type of Catholic was abandoning in favor of fuller engagement with the wondrous Modern World.  For fifty years the Church has pursued post-Vatican II style engagement with the Modern World, while largely disengaging itself from traditional devotions such as the Sacred Heart.   Florid holy picture cards, rarely seen now in Catholic homes, are instead ironic kitsch items.  Having observed that the fruits of this program are meager, to put it mildly, it occurs to me that perhaps the time has come to reconsider the value of those discarded devotions   Even a cursory examination of devotion to the Sacred Heart will reveal the power and value of this devotion to be very great indeed.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart was propagated chiefly under the influence of a movement begun by the celebrated visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 17th century France.   However, devotion to the Sacred Heart is much more ancient than this, and moreover does not depend upon the authenticity of St. Margaret Mary's visions.   We have posted about devotion to the Sacred Heart many times , noting its great richness (see also here) and beauty, and examining how the Jesuits, though once the great apostles of this devotion, (see also here), have since 1975 largely abandoned devotion to the Sacred Heart.  The consequent collapse in Jesuit vocations is perhaps not a coincidence.
In the course of his apparitions to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Our Lord revealed the form and features of the devotion to the Sacred Heart.  In the twelfth apparition, Our Lord made the following promise:

"[M]y all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour."

As today is the first Friday of January, this is an excellent occasion to begin performing the conditions required to take advantage of Our Lord's promise.  It certainly can't hurt, and maybe it will lead to the image of the Sacred Heart again being a common item in Catholic homes.  Perhaps, in the interest of engagement with the modern world, this time the images will be more tasteful and less florid.