Friday, February 21, 2014

Bad optics

The Archbishop's taste runs strongly to McMansions

That's political spinmeister jargon for stuff that looks bad.  And, in these days of painful retrenchment, the soon to be retiring Archbishop of Newark's addition to his retirement home looks terrible.  Though the Archbishop is not bound by a vow of poverty, an addition costing at least $500k to an $800k vacation house seems a bit much.  And the Archdiocese's statement on the subject is exactly the long whimper of wounded self regard you'd expect from someone with a boatload of self regard.  The Archdiocese might as well have responded "how dare you inquire?" and left it at that.

Rome quietly appointed a coadjutor bishop to Newark in Sept, 2013.   They don't usually do that because they think you're doing a great job.

Increase your Catholic word power: Grace

"The Annunciation and Two Saints," Simone Martini 1333 AD

The Angel Gabriel addressed Mary as "Full of Grace"

According to the Modern Catholic Dictionary of the Servant of God Fr. John Hardon, SJ, my old teacher:

 "[g]race is the supernatural gift that God, of his free benevolence, bestows on rational creatures for their eternal salvation. The gifts of grace are essentially supernatural. . . . They are the indispensable means necessary to reach the beatific vision ....The essence of grace ... is its gratuity, since no creature has a right to the beatific vision, and its ... purpose is to lead one to eternal life."

The follow up to a hit cd is always the hardest one

Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles
Not coming to a concert hall near you

"Advent at Ephesus," the debut cd of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, spent six weeks at #1 on the Billboard Classical Music Chart.   The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles recently released their second cd, "Angels and Saints at Ephesus."   Even if the new cd doesn't make it to the top of the charts, I have a feeling these nuns won't be one hit wonders.

RELATED:  I hope the story of these nuns ends more happily than The Singing Nun's story did.

Stop signs for thee, but not for me

"When I was talking about obeying traffic laws, I only meant you guys."

NYC Mayor de Blasio gives major address on traffic safety, then hops into police-driven caravan, which is observed to speed and blow through stop signs.  The NYPD responded that they have to use "special driving techniques" in order to protect the mayor.  Right.  In the first place, if that's true, then the mayor should be telling all of us to speed and blow through stop signs, since that's what his own professional drivers say they must do for safety reasons.  Secondly, if speeding is actually as bad as the mayor says it is, why doesn't he tell the people who drive him around to slow down?  That should be pretty easy.  The driver's right there with him, and de Blasio's his boss.

You may have a favorite description for this sort of behavior by government officials.  Hypocrisy certainly fits, as does abuse of power.  Alas, in an increasing variety of ways, the word that fits best is "typical."

Monday, February 10, 2014

No wonder he abdicated

Hermitage of Pietro da Morrone

This is the remote monastery where, in 1294 AD, Pietro da Morrone received the news he'd been elected pope.  He was 80 years old, with a reputation for great holiness but utterly without resources for coping with papal politics.  Pietro da Morrone was duly installed as Pope Celestine V, but four months later he returned to his hermitage, having abdicated the papacy.   In his Inferno, for having made this "great refusal," which he viewed as an act of cowardice, Dante placed Pope Celestine in the antechamber of hell.

In addition to his brief papacy and abdication, Pietro da Morrone is also known for founding a monastic order called the Celestines.  In 1484 AD, the Celestines were invited to take over the monastery at Nursia which had been built over the house of St. Benedict and his sister St. Scholastica, the founders of western monasticism.  In 1810 AD, Napoleon banished the monks, and the monastery remained empty for almost 200 years. 

In 2000 AD, a new order of monks, called the Benedictine Monks of Norsia, re-occupied the monastery at Nursia (now called Norsia).  These monks brew a beer called Birra Norsia.  The motto of the brewery is taken from the Psalms: “ut laetificet cor” (that the heart might be gladdened).  Shortly before he was elected pope, then-Cardinal Ratzinger visited the monastery on the feast of St. Benedict.  After his election, the monks presented Pope Benedict with the very first bottle of Birra Norsia.   The monks like to think that his visit to their monastery influenced Cardinal Ratzinger's choice of his papal name.  By coincidence, Pope Benedict became the first pope since Celestine V to abdicate the papacy.  

The monks also supplied Birra Norsia to the conclave which elected Pope Francis I.   Since their brewmaster's name is Brother Francis, the monks like to think they had something to do with Cardinal Bergoglio's choice of papal name also.  This is perhaps more of a stretch.

Birra Norsia has proven very popular in Italy, but unfortunately is not available in the US. 

The Benedictine Monks of Nursia publish a seasonal newsletter.  You can read the monks' winter newsletter here.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Ralph Kiner, RIP

 "Baptism of the Lord,"  unknown artist

Noticed on Mike Piazza's tweet regarding the death of Ralph Kiner that Piazza uses this sculpture as his Twitter photo.   I don't know why Piazza uses this photo, but it's a nice choice.

Here's a little tune which is sure to bring back memories for fans of Ralph Kiner and the NY Mets.