Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Things are very difficult just now - might I mention New Orleans - and I hope you are all praying.

And while I am thankful not to have to deal with all that water, there are other complications which enter one's life from time to time, which can seem very hard to endure.

In order to thwart those evil tendencies, I have taken the last opportunity I may ever have to send a message into interstellar space... though it also bounced off a satellite and went everywhere across this country.

In the near future, I will explain what I had been doing with that satellite, and why.

But for now I will just tell you the message. You may have heard it before.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God
and the firmament shows forth the work of His hands.
Day unto day takes up the story
and night unto night makes known the message.
No speech no word
no voice is heard
yet their span exends through all the earth,
their words to the utmost bounds of the world.

Psalm 19 (18)

"Thanks are the highest form of thought." -- G. K. Chesterton.

And I must say, at this moment, I am very thankful.

Yes: ora et labora

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Pipe Organs

I think it was on Flying Stars that I happened to mention something about pipe organs, and was asked what connection there may be to me...

Pipe organs are very interesting things, besides their connection to liturgy and Vatican II and all that, they serve as useful analogies to ... well, that will get too long for a Short Wednesday. Anyhow, I have had a hobby-like interest in pipe organs since high school. I learned about diapasons, rohr-gedeckts, salicionals, quintadenas, fagottos, regals, ranketts, and the pestiferous "nitsua celeste" - about flues and reeds, couplers, and how "great" and "swell" are not mere interjections, and that a "bourdon" is not how you spell it when you've drank a lot of it.

By that time in high school I had already become fascinated by the powers of two, and please God pipe organs will never go metric! There are all kinds of handy mnemonic tricks here, and a careful teacher can give a musical perspective to logarithms, as well as a whole array of very important ideas unmderlying computer science. (something for another posting!)

I will digress just a bit. (pun intended!) You hear very much about the use of computers in school. I strongly oppose this. I know someone who never touched a computer until he got to college, and now he has a doctorate in computer science... Well, OK, he built a five-bit adder with switches, and at least one other marvellous toy, but I don't know if these count. (another great pun! Actually two.) End of digression.

Anyhow, the summer after I graduated, I built a SMALL pipe organ in the cellar of my parents' house - maybe I should say "assembled", using existing keyboards, pipes and chests, and a small electric reed organ as an auxiliary. Here are the "Specs" as I recall (I'd have to dig to get the real one out of off-line storage):

Great (61 notes)
Stopped Flute 8'
Flute 4' (from Stopped Flute)
Diapason 2'

Swell (61 notes)
Flute 8' (borrowed from reed organ)
String 8' (borrowed from reed organ)

Pedal (13 notes)
Stopped Flute 8' (from Gt.)
Flute 16' (borrowed from reed organ)
String 16' (borrowed from reed organ)

Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal

There were a few other oddities which I omit in this short list, but there was also two octaves of Christmas tree lights wired to the Great. Not many organs have this.

The humor about this is I could not really play it. But other friends of mine (one of whom I have mentioned in an earlier posting, and is now the cathedral organist for a Midwest diocese) could, and DID, play it.

The organ is long gone, but it was a lot of fun.

There's more to tell, but I am way over the limit, so it will be saved for another time.

A nice long word from Homer

Since I happened to mention fraternities earlier, I had better give you a little Greek to go with it. If you have some nice black olives, maybe some feta cheese, some wine and crusty bread, you're all set for this wonderful poem...

Polyphloisboisterous Homer of old
Threw all his augments into the sea,
Although he had often been courteously told
That perfect imperfects begin with an e.
But the poet replied with a dignified air,
"What the Digamma does any one care?"

[Schoder & Horrigan, A Reading Course in Homeric Greek II, 184]

Yes, polyphoisboio is a real word - in Homer's Odyssey line 1271.

Ah, and I hear someone ask: What is "Digamma" ???

Well, digamma is one of those secret Greek letters that the "Frat Boys" don't want you to know about. It looked like a capital F - two Gammas one on top of the other - but probably sounded like a W. The Greeks gave it up long ago, and there are some anomalies here and there which suggest that it belongs in words like Foinos = "wine" or "oFon" = "egg"... The Romans liked to write that sound with a V, and so we get the Latin vinum and ovum. Since the Greeks didn't want the Digamma any more, the Romans "borrowed" it for their "f" sound.

So just as the Canadians say "zed" for Z (it used to be the Greek "zeta"), we can say "digamma" for F.

Fraternity badges

Did you ever look up the etymology of the word "diamond"? Do you know the meaning of its Greek root? It's an interesting bit of research. (Hey, I'll let you do some of the digging once in a while...)

There is a certain fraternity (into which I was initiated) which has a diamond as an essential element of its badge. Interestingly, however, the first badges of that fraternity didn't have diamonds. But they still cost 10 bucks, as they were made of gold, and back then (over 150 years ago) that was a lot of money. At the time that fraternity was founded, the college tuition there was $24. Whew.

I wonder: would any fraternity man in the present spend almost half his tuition on a fraternity badge?

The badges which are still made of gold can be expensive. College tuition went up. It's not "higher" education any more. Lots of things changed.

The diamond didn't.

GKC on the New Theologians

Nancy at Flying Stars referred (in a comment I have since lost the reference) to GKC's point about proving the existence of sin. I am happy to provide the context:

Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin - a fact as practical as potatoes. Whether or no man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But certain religious leaders in London, not mere materialists, have begun in our day not to deny the highly disputable water, but to deny the indisputable dirt. Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved. Some followers of the Reverend R. J. Campbell, in their almost too fastidious spirituality, admit divine sinlessness, which they cannot see even in their dreams. But they essentially deny human sin, which they can see in the street. The strongest saints and the strongest sceptics alike took positive evil as the starting-point of their argument. If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.
[GKC, Orthodoxy CW1:217, emphasis added]

Hence it appears that Nancy's antagonist is a "new" theologian, by GKC's view. Odd that GKC wrote this book in 1908.

SWQR: The Idea of a University

The Idea of a University by John Henry Cardinal Newman (Location: Reference/Arm's Reach)

There are few books of any kind as important as this one. My father gave me this book when he was closing his bookstore, and at a critical moment in my academic life, the Dean of Students advised me to read it. I did, and found that all the problems I was seeing and have since seen in "higher education" were foreseen and solved by Newman some 150 years ago. Why research must never be done at a university, why a university must include ALL fields of human knowledge, why God and theology are involved - why we must devote ourselves to the cultivation of the intellect, how every field must work to the glory of Him who gave that field as a gift, how learning arises from social interaction, and the role of the teacher, and where human knowledge and reason fail as they contend with human passion and pride... It is NOT an easy book. But it is exceedingly important. Newman wrote it as a design document, when the Pope ordered him to start a University. The foundation failed (though not from Newman's failure) - yet it lives; God grant it may yet be!

SWQR: Who Is Bugs Potter?

Who Is Bugs Potter? by Gordon Korman (Location: Extremely Good Fiction)

This book, like all the others I have by GK (not to be confused with the OTHER GK as in GKC) is very funny. My mother always knew how good it was going to be by counting the number of times I laughed out loud while reading it. Dave Potter (called Bugs by his friends) is a drummer - a fantastic drummer - possibly the greatest drummer in the world. In fact he is The Most. But he is only fifteen. He is in Toronto to play with the North American High School Band Festival. But the music they play is boring, easy stuff that according to Bugs, nobody has to practice - like Strauss and Gershwin. So he and his roommate Adam (a "flute-dude" to Bugs, a flautist to everyone else) escape their strict curfew to check out the night club scene. At "Dante's Inferno" they find the famous rock group Endomorph, and Bugs begs the chance to play drums for a song... Meanwhile two crooks are attempting to steal the fabulous "Falusi Emerald" valued at $4.2 million. Lots of loud music, great puns, and pure fun. (I don't know if Bugs is related to Harry - it might explain a lot.)

Something I forgot in a previous SWQR

Whe I wrote about Tirpule Trouble For Rupert in a previous posting, I neglected to mention that it is one source of an important phrase Ilike to use. Actually I learned the phrase from a friend and former co-worker long ago. (I don't know if he got it from the book, or if it is one of those things that everybody uses. Nor am I going to do the verbal archaeology needed to track it down...)

Anyhow, the phrase is used when you are having something really good to eat (or drink). You say "it tastes like more".

Also, I did mention that I have found Mrs. Parkinson's "worky" to be a very nice word. In the most recent Harry Potter installment, there were a couple of others in that same form: kicky, and scratchy, and I forget what else. (This is where the two house-elves are fighting, and Peeves is doing the commentary.) I was asked to write a review of HP and perhaps I will someday - but not just yet. (Maybe once #7 is out.)

Also, speaking of Harry Potter, he was a character in an Ellery Queen story from rather long ago - when I find that book again I will give you the details.

OK that's enough for this post. Now on to some more fun...

Monday, August 22, 2005



All so different, also the same -
RNA - the ribosome frame,

Hid within the protein curtain,
These exquisite, yet uncertain
Amino acid arrangers -
Close like parents', far like strangers'
Faces, though each with eyes and mouth,
Never a match from north to south.

This code defined by bases four,
Greatest secret of living lore,
Falls within the realm of base two
And subject to a science new.

So by a human written code,
Made of TEST and BRANCH, STORE and LOAD,
Four-fold film blots keeping all vexed,
Are numbered, then hashed and indexed.

As cards of a bridge-playing crank
Are ordered by suit and by rank,
They're sorted: U, C, G, and A
Point to the list place each must stay.

The problem size might make some fear,
(By hand taking many a year)
But now the work is beginning,
Already new facts we're winning.

Written July 14, 1992
Published as part of my doctoral dissertation, approved April 5,1994

Note: I used the word "uncertain" to indicate we (in 1992) were not "certain" about how the ribosome works. Now that it's some 13 years later, I'll check into what more we've learned. I mention this in case someone is thinking "Heisenberg". NOPE! We're in computer science now, Dr. Biologist, Dr. Physicist, Dr. Philosopher - you play by my rules or I'll take my INTERNET and go home... (hee hee) and you can all go back to doing it by hand on paper. Have fun, but play nice.

An update - August 22, 2005

I have been rather busy with work, and there are a lot of changes going on, which may make a good story, but are not very much fun to live through. (Sounds sort of like Sam and Frodo in the upper reaches of the Stairs to Cirith Ungol...)

However, there are some pieces of news...

1. At last report, my friend's daughter Eloise is doing well, thank God; it may ahve just been a misdiagnosis.

2. My dear friend, known under the title of "Mr. Nasium" called last Thursday to announce the birth of a new daughter: Monica. Hurray! a new playmate next time I visit.

3. Today marks the two thousandth day that the system of (*company name suppressed*) has been up and running. Alas, this system is coming to an end - which means I will be able to tell you lots more about things, as it will then be in the past. (Note to software developers: according to Aquinas, not even God can change the past.) It is a bitter cup to drink, but we still have hope, not being billionaires - also, this is almost certainly going to lead to a new book. I have hinted about it - or maybe not. Some of the references will be Rerum Novarum, Centesimus Annus and The House That Jack Built, and though it probably not contain any code, it will almost certainly have lots of nice technical diagrams. I will do what I can to get some dialog into it, or perhaps a story. Poetry is always an option - I actually incorporated (ha! great pun!) a poem into my doctoral dissertation... OK I will post that too.

4. Nancy over at Flying Stars has written about Fr. Jaki's observation regarding the order of creation of the sun versus the earth. After I do some more praying, I may attempt to address this difficult topic - but it needs addressing. Also this urges me to get busy and review a book or two of his... but there are so many crying out for that honor! I think it funny that people get grexy about Harry Potter - one of the most authentic descriptions in them is the books screaming. I can hardly hear some days... (quiet! Hey, what do you think you're doing? No, no, not the Greek Lexicon! Ow! Back!) I had to use the scissors, they're scared of scissors.

A postscript to (3) above: not only must I thank God for the incredible opportunity to be part of this massive system for 2000 days, but I must also thank the team, of which I am just one part, for all their hard work. When this chapter has finally closed, I will make a more full report, but for these last days, let our thoughts be of gratitude... Please remember me and my co-workers in your prayers, as well as my friends and their families; I will remember you and yours in my prayers.

"Thanks are the highest form of thought."
-- G. K. Chesterton, A Short History of England

What Happened Then

[A note from Dr. Thursday: This playlet appears by special permission from the Editor-in-Chief of Something Good To Read. As August 22 is the feast of the Queenship of Mary and the gospel today was St. Luke's story of the Annunciation, I thought this would be especially good today...]

What Happened Then

[This playlet was written a long time ago by our staff, and we have traditionally printed it in our March 25 anniversary issue. Eds.]


Everyone knows that there have been several important milestones in the history of communication: the first spoken word, the first written word, the double discovery of Europe and of America in 1492, the "What hath God wrought" of Morse, the "Mr. Watson, come here, I need you" of Bell, the trans-Atlantic "S" of Marconi, the video signal of the moon landing in 1969. None of these was the greatest message of all time. Nor yet was even The Announcement of Gabriel to Mary that she was to be the Mother of God. It was the reply which Gabriel brought back to God from her. It is part of the same conversation of Mary and the angel Gabriel - but one upon which very little emphasis seems to be placed. In Luke 1:38, just after Mary utters the greatest words ever spoken on earth - "I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to thy word" - comes the short phrase which states "with that, the angel left her."

Now this moment is of the greatest fascination, since for a "time" infinitely shorter than any physical interval of time, Gabriel "knew" Mary's answer, and with speed beyond speed he "flew" back to the throne of God to report it. That's why they are called "angels" - because they carry messages. Of course God is omniscient, and cannot ever be in the position of not knowing anything. But, in that happy phrase known as the "economy of salvation," it is possible for us to imagine Him waiting anxiously, with all the yearning and hope of the Jews down through the centuries... Then up flies Gabriel with a special delivery "Celestial Express" package:

Scene: Heaven. In the center, God is seated on His throne. Crowds of angels are hovering around; the appearance is of a very busy but perfectly orderly office. Desks, computer terminals, big ledger books with quill pens, immense filing cabinets stretch out into the distance. Gabriel enters, dressed as an overnight deliveryman, wearing a beeper, and carrying a clipboard and an envelope.

Gabriel looks at the package, then back at the Beatific Vision, as if there might be some doubt. He reads the label:

Gabriel: "God?"

God: excitedly, with great anticipation Yes?

Gabriel: nods, and hands Him the package, and a delivery slip. Message for You from Mary in Nazareth. Gabriel hands Him the clipboard. Sign here.

God: Signs, and takes the envelope. Thanks. He reads the outside of the envelope, fumbles with the seal, pulls out the letter and reads.

Gabriel: to a nearby angel Well, it looks like another Earth project. He scratches below his halo with the pen. It's gonna mean a lot more work for us. Maybe even more than that week-long construction project a while back. Lots of messages. He taps the clipboard meaningfully.

God: Excitedly, very loudly: Aaaalriiiight! The sound echoes through the immense room, and all the angels look up from their work. She said yes!

Gabriel: to angel See? to God Will there be a reply?

God: with a slight shake of His head. You need not bother, I'll handle it Myself. Actually with a slight chuckle, or perhaps a loud guffaw, I AM the Reply.

At this, the celestial choirs break into gales of laughter, and immediately begin rehearsals for their Christmas performance... Perhaps the chorus from "Angels We Have Heard on High."

Monday, August 15, 2005

Books - big and otherwise

Nancy at Flying Stars (see links at side) does not normally respond to the various e-polls people resort to in order to stimulate discussions - and I think she is wise. (She stimulates excellent discussions on her own, as she is a Chestertonian.) But in the interests of literature, she has listed the books on her desk, which I enjoyed perusing (and seeing what I might be missing!) Rhapsody, who runs a new blog, (I believe we have seen such writings under another name, hee hee!) has asked me about the big books I have. On the desk I am presently at, there are NO books, as there is no room. Usually I hold them in my hand while working, then put them back. When reading I do not sit at a desk. (Horrors! Where would I put the beer? Why won't some high-tech firm start making keyboards with cupholders? Cars have them.)

Let's see, the big book question is shorter. First, I would never use books as projectiles. Of course I use them as weapons all the time, just as GKC did (it's always a choice between the book, the pen, or the keyboard.) And there is a scale here which would put the matter precisely, but I only have a limited time at present so I will hurry on to an answer. (I have been very busy recently, and perhaps when things settle will give some kind of report... I will hint that it MAY result in a REAL BOOK.)

The only big "non-ref" book I can think of, without getting up to see, is the one-volume Lord of the Rings. The biggest reference books - hmm, downstairs is a one-volume encyclopedia. Over in the corner is an edition of Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, and on top of that is Black's Law Dictionary. (Woof. Well, OK, I might drop that, especially if the target is a lawyer. Or a politician.)

Now, for the good stuff. Right BESIDE my desk, in seven ranks of six-foot shelves, are the main reference ("Reference, Miss Watson...") area. Some of the biggest books are here.
1. The most wonderful and long-sought-for Liddell and Scott GREEK LEXICON.
2. Ditto, Lewis and Short LATIN DICTIONARY, a gift from my co-workers (more on that also another day!)

Then there are some slightly smaller volumes, like Gardiner's Egyptian Grammar, the Handbook of Applied Mathematics, Gray's Anatomy (falling apart), a Handbook of Mathematical Functions, Grun's Timetables of History, and an old Official Catholic Directory.

But to list all the books as Nancy did would be boring (though perhaps curious). Just a small selection to distort your views of what it is I really do:

De Re Metallica
Medieval Cosmology
The Sources of Catholic Dogma
Burnham's Celestial Handbook (3 vols)
Boehm's The Flute and Flute Playing
Atlas of Human Histology
Scholastic Philosophy (as GKC says, logic works by Barbara - and it does!)
The Sanctifier
The Idea of a University
Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (oh, yes I am in one...)
Liber Usualis
The Roman Pontifical (another one it took AGES to get! Thanks, Loome, thanks!)
National Parks of the West
The Division and Method of the Sciences (by St. Thomas Aquinas!)

And nearly the complete works of Fr. Stanley K. Jaki.

So, care to guess? Nope. The one book which I OUGHT to have, in order to assist me in my work - or three - are: "Rerum Novarum" "Quadragesimo Anno" and "Centesimus Annus"... But they are in the side pouch of the laptop carrying case. (That will give you the hint of the book which is in gestation...)

Yes, there are some Chesterton books here, too - they are on the other wall, along with the Dictionary of Pipe Organ Stops, Alicia in Terra Mirabilis, Boole's "The Laws of Thought" and a few others on various aspects of computing... oh, my, I forgot I had all those... ooo, there's that Vietnamese hymnal, I have to write about that one of these days... Homer, Virgil, Pieper Newman... Eimer's Tilted Haloes, which ought to include Jeff Miller's Curt Jester if they ever do a second edition - maybe that's where he gets all his best jokes!!!

Ah, yes, The Bridges of the World, the Pictorial Guide to the Moon, and the Atlas of the Nearby Galaxies (in case I feel like getting away for a while!) and there's Beeching's The Galleys at Lepanto, where I learned that they gave every man on board the galleys a rosary... that's for October, now... And The Admiral of Ocean Sea, with one of the greatest lines ever penned - I will get to that one also, God willing, in October!

I have to stop. I can hardly believe it. All the thousands of years of human effort poured into these volumes... and here they are, and when I need more I know where to go to find them...

Many books or few books, we ought to thank God every day that we can read.

Oh, God, may I use these great resources, and the even more wonderful gift of vision and the ability to read, to Thy glory, to the good of my soul, and to draw more to Thy love. Amen.

Why Mary Wears Blue

Why Mary Wears Blue

When they told me that Mary doesn't wear blue,
I ran home and asked; she said: "That isn't true."
So I said, "Dear Mother, oh please tell me why
Your robes always rival the clear summer sky."

"Oh, my dear little one," she said with a grin,
"I've worn many robes, and green isn't a sin.
But there are good reasons why I now wear blue,
And I'm very happy to tell them to you."

"In ages of knights, when but few men could read,
A sign of identity each one did need.
The coat of arms stood, like his name, for a man -
With seven bold colors they drew up the plan,
Giving meanings to each, and when they chose blue,
They meant, like the sky and sea, faithful and true."

"I see, my dear Mother, because I have heard
How blessed are those who hear and keep the Word.
You said, `Be it done unto me as You will';
You stood at the Cross there on Calvary's hill;
At Cana you said `What He says, you shall do';
So faithful and trusting, your color is blue."

"You know in your day that men walked on the moon
And seen in its night sky the sun's glaring noon;
When your Father and mine planned our lowly earth's sky,
He arranged it to be much less hard on the eye;
As I sheltered my Son in my robe at His birth,
The sun, wrapped in blue, sends its light to the earth."

"Yes, dear Mother of God, so our poor science sings
Of the wonderful truth found in such common things:
Dust in the air scatters sunlight around,
Brings the sky colors that art has not found;
A daily apocalypse - blue sky, golden sun -
An icon of you and Christ physics has spun.

"Water, the humble, always seeks lowest place;
A sign of rebirth which Christ gave to bring grace.
The mighty blue ocean, deep beyond measure,
Full of life, wondrous, full also of treasure;
Risky and dangerous, the sea can wreck and kill -
But Christ calmed its waves, commanding `Peace! Be still!' "

"Mary, my Mother, star of the blue sea!
Humble like you please help me to be.
Like the ocean, unsounded by plumb-lines or hooks,
Your depths only glanced at by thousands of books;
As truly the ocean repeats sky's blue shade
You're the mirror of God, whose will you obeyed."

And while I was thinking about what she said,
And hoping to find out why Jesus wears red,
She faded as did the faint light I had seen
And I only saw my computer's blue screen.

Then one final fragment alone I did hear
As from a great distance though quiet and near:

"Just like the sky, the Church, spread out from west to east,
Directs daily colors that are worn by the priest -
Sunset purple and red; gold and white sunrise new;
But Mary alone shall be always in blue."

(March 9, 1995)

Happy Feast of the Assumption!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Another Long Word from GKC...

Today's "Short Wednesday" word is "Popplepunglechump" and I have supplied it embedded in a very nice portion of an essay. Today we will also have a contest. You will get five points four your House if you post a comment with it used correctly in a MEANINGFUL sentence. If you are not in a House, I cannot give you any points, but I will send you a token which you can use towards a free chocolate bar. (Offer void where taxed or prohibited. You must have the Chocolate® For Windows® or iChoc® for Mac® device installed in your system in order to use the token(s). Sorry, no gold tickets will be available in this chocolate.)

There is a whole romantic region of human life, which seems to me quite as important as what is called the love of nature, that is so much neglected in popular philosophy that it is hard to find so plain a popular word for it. If I call it Childhood, everybody will suppose that I am going to be sentimental; or, what is far, far worse, educational. If I say it is Telling Stories, it will be thought that I am not only returning to the nursery, but to the moral language of the nursery. If I call it Popplepunglechump, it is possible that the word may fail to explain itself. But I mean all that vast unrecorded output of more or less infantile imagination which used to fill the lives of almost every family and especially of every large family. This great game of the family consisted very largely of inventing other families; imaginary families with peculiar names but most pertinacious vitality and will to live. But there were many other variants of the same form of fancy; imaginary voyages; imaginary countries; desert islands and very comfortably appointed rafts.
[GKC, ILN September 8, 1934. (not yet in CW) Thanks to Frank Petta for supplying me with this essay, and my mother for help in transforming it into AMBER.]

SWQR:The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (Location: Extremely Good Fiction)

This is one of the most important and delightful books one can ever read. Milo, a young boy, is bored. He finds a strange package in his room: a tollbooth kit. He puts it together, then gets in his little car and ... crosses over (? I am not sure if this is the correct preposition; my English, good she not always is!) into the Kingdom of Wisdom, divided between Dictionopolis the city of letters and words, ruled by King Azaz the Unabridged, and Digitopolis the city of numbers, ruled by his brother, the Mathemagician. They have never agreed since they banished their little sisters, the Princesses Pure Reason and Sweet Rhyme, to the [thunder and lightning] CASTLE IN THE AIR guarded by all sorts of horrible demons. Milo meets some friends and... but I cannot spoil it. You MUST read it. And if you have read it, read it again. You may be jumping to conclusions. Or perhaps you are not thinking? Very Chestertonian, very deep, very rich. The movie is also quite good; it has some special elements of its own. But get the book! Read it!

So You Think Mass is Boring?

So You Think Mass is Boring?

(Some Replies)

After seeing and hearing more and more people say that "the Mass is boring," I decided to put a few replies together, which hopefully will make people think twice before saying such silliness.

"I don’t get anything out of Mass."

1. Just what do you think the Mass is, anyway?
2. Of course you do, but grace is not something you can feel.
3. Remember that the Mass is a sacrifice; you offer up yourself along with Jesus.
4. Shouldn’t you be concerned with what God is getting from you?
5. What are you expecting – a door prize?
6. Are you going to Mass expecting to give, or to receive?
7. Oh, and seeing God Himself and hearing His word and receiving Him into your heart is not enough for you. What else could you possibly want?
8. Oh, yeah. And when God hands you a blank check with His Own signature on it, you say that you get nothing out of Mass. (Well, of course you can’t cash it in here; it’s drawn on the First Bank of Heaven, so be careful not to lose it till you get there. You might have a bill to pay.)
9. I never thought that love meant getting something. Do you expect those whom you love to be giving you something all the time?
10. People have risked torture and death to get to Mass. Don’t you wonder what they were getting out of it?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Division of the Waters (conclusion)

The Division of the Waters (Part 5 and last)

(This is excerpted from my The Everlasting Detective - a collection of unpublished essays)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The thirst of Christ

This is in some way a postscript. I have addressed the strange human sensation known as thirst in passing. But there is a unity which I think needs to be mentioned here, one which explains that fearsome cry of Christ on the cross: "I thirst."[Jn 19:28, referring to Ps 22:15] But to explain this, I must first describe something else which is well known but never really seen.

"I raised my eyes, and at the next moment shut them, as at a blow. high in the empty air blazed and streamed a great fire, which burnt and blinded me every time I raised my eyes to it. I have lived many years now under this meteor of a fixed Apocalypse, but I have never survived the feelings of that moment. Men eat and drink, buy and sell, marry, are given in marriage, and all the time there is something in the sky at which they cannot look. They must be very brave."
["A Crazy Tale" CW14:70]

The sun - a great sphere of fusing hydrogen, hanging in the vacuum of outer space, sending forth immense amounts of energy. The sun is a nuclear furnace set aflame in that utter cold. How strange to think that space feels so terribly cold to the sun! And so Christ, who is that promised fountain of living water, was athirst: On the last day and greatest day of the festival [the feast of Tabernacles], Jesus stood there and cried out: "If any man is thirsty, let him come to me! Let the man come and drink who believes in me!" As scripture says, from his breast shall flow fountains of living water.[Jn 7:37-38]

Christ is the Sun of Justice; He is also the Fountain of Living Water, as He Himself said:
If you only knew what God is offering and Who it is that is saying to you: Give Me a drink, you would have been the one to ask, and He would have given you living water. ... Whoever drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again.[Jn 4:10,14]