Old Oligarch's Painted Stoa

Past Posts of Note
Substantative, in chronological order
The Sunday obligation and illness: question, research & my answer

Denial of personhood: Dei Filius & Terri Schiavo

On Modesty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Differing with Dulles 1 & 2 on pro-abort politicians

Mad About Manuals 1 & 2

Absinthe recherches early, required reading, 2, 3, 4.

First time at an abortuary

The Maundy

TPOTC impact & analysis and more

Contraception reflections 1, 2

Meiwes, propheta, übermensch

Headship Loggerheads 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Matrix: Revolutions

Matrix: Reloaded
1, 2 & 3

Terrorist Attack Preparations, and follow-ups 1 & 2 & 3


Casuistry of Drinking

Review of Auto Focus

Parish Review 1

The Power of Shame

Biblical Hermeneutics

Ayoob on Guns

Against the Ordination of Women

Two Cents on Braveheart


Thematic Meditations

E-mail Me
oldoligarch @yahoo.com

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I Might Respond!

E-mail Policy
Any e-mail I receive is fair game for publication, with comments, unless you explicitly say so beforehand.

Gabriel Possenti

The WeatherPixie
Weather at Dulles Airport

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"Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing."
-Werner Von Braun (1912-1977)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/25/2003 12:19:00 PM | link

Art find of the day:

St James the Greater Conquering the Moors by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

From the Web Gallery of Art

Legend has it that the Apostle St James the Greater appeared to the Spaniards as they fought the Moors at the battle of Clavijo and that, with the help of this heavenly apparition, they achieved victory. Ever since that time the Apostle has been venerated by the Spanish people as their patron saint and his memory honoured in numerous works of art. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, perhaps the most significant of eighteenth-century painters, worked in Spain during the last years of his life, and it had been assumed that during those years he painted this picture - no doubt for an altarpiece. According to the latest research, however, the painting was commissioned by the Spanish Ambassador to London and executed in Venice in 1749-50; it is true that the Venetian chronicler mentions a picture of St George on horseback, but it is not unlikely that an Italian, unfamiliar with Spanish legend, may have misidentified the subject. Because of the monumental simplicity of its composition and its brilliant colour harmony, this work must rank high in the annals of eighteenth- century painting.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/25/2003 01:20:00 AM | link

Rogue classicism: 1. n. an abnormal state or condition resulting from the forced migration from a lengthy Classical education into a profoundly unClassical world

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/23/2003 10:54:00 PM | link

The wages of sin were paid today. I'd always heard if you're a pedo they persecute you with a vengeance in jail.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/23/2003 06:48:00 PM | link

"Herminus invites you to dine at the table of the lord Sarapis in the Serapeum tomorrow, which is the thirtieth, from the 9th hour."

All this and more -- like 3rd century papyri of the Gospel of John -- at POxy, Oxford's online clearinghouse of Oxyrhynchus papyrus images.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/23/2003 03:40:00 AM | link

Check it out
I added new academic resources to the static-content pages. You owe it to yourself, especially if you are an academic, to check out what is available for you online. Go browse it.

Recently added treasures include:
- The slew of amazing Perseus Greek and Latin language tools
- Latin documents of VCII
- Even more bible editions
- My discovery of the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum, unfortunately by subscription only, from Chadwyck-Healey.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/22/2003 04:18:00 PM | link

With reference to the preceding post, I note that Metallica also has what I believe is a pro-life song, Harvester of Sorrow, from the Justice album, which is almost exclusively concerned with political themes. The song is more cryptic than the Sex Pistols' Bodies, but I think it can be interpreted in a fairly straightforward fashion on a few assumptions. Since I haven't done rock exegesis in a long time, this will fill a gap.

First, the Harvester is abortion itself, in the abstract, personified in demonic terms. Second, the first stanza of the song is from the perspective of the woman having the abortion. The rest is spoken by the Harvester itself, describing the effects. Lyrics in italics, interpretation below.

Harvester Of Sorrow
Metallica, And Justice For All

My Life Suffocates

The woman feels trapped by her pregnancy

Planting Seeds of Hate

A description of what she's planning to do in her mind: the suffocating pressure has turned her towards animosity against her baby.

I've Loved, Turned to Hate

What began as love / sexual attraction has now ended in abandonment, violence.

Trapped Far Beyond My Fate

Fatalism is frequently used as a moral excuse.

I Give
You Take
This Life That I Forsake

She invokes the Harvester. She foresakes the life of her child.

Been Cheated of My Youth
You Turned this Lie to Truth

The deed is irrevocable, and robs the woman "of her youth." I've particularly enjoyed how Metallica occasionally borrows well-worn spiritual images; this time, the image is of the moral life as infused with a perpetual youth. In her turn toward sin, she withers spiritually.

I am not entirely certain exactly what the "lie turned to truth" is. It might be the public acceptance of abortion, or its legality. One thing is certain: Metallica is not using a relativist vocabulary where personal needs are subjectively revalued as "personal truths." Elsewhere on the album, we see examples where "lies turn into truth," and by this, Metallica means that what is false or evil becomes publically honored as true or good.

Now the Harvester gets to speak to the woman:

You'll Suffer unto Me

Clear enough. Next, like a Greek chorus, we get commentary about what has happened from an objective, third-person perspective in a somewhat chanting fashion:

Harvester of Sorrow
Language of the Mad
Harvester of Sorrow

Now, as in Master of Puppets, which is about cocaine addiction, the demonic, personified evil pronounces the fate of the damned for all to hear:

Pure Black Looking Clear
My Work Is Done Soon Here

The darkness (=moral evil) that was once opaque and foreign to the woman now becomes all too familiar, and she will be haunted by her choice for the rest of her life.

Try Getting Back to Me
Get Back Which Used to Be

Whenever you bargain with the devil, the deal is irrevocable. Try as she might, the woman cannot convince the Harvester to undo what has been done. So she enters into despair:

Drink up
Shoot in
Let the Beatings Begin

It is unclear whether the beatings are physical, from a bad relationship, or psychological.

Here again, as in Master, the beast loves to glorify itself:

Distributor of Pain
Your Loss Becomes My Gain

Then we get another chorus, and a final stanza to nail the point home:

All Have Said Their Prayers
Invade Their Nightmares

Praying won't help you keep the Harvester at bay. He casually notes that you've said your prayers, and proceeds to torment you anyway. The song concludes with its clearest lyric, where the beast makes sure you know what its name is:

See into My Eyes
You'll Find Where Murder Lies

As in Master, we fade out repeating to ourselves the awfulness of the beast:

Harvester of Sorrow
Language of the Mad
Harvester of Sorrow
Language of the Mad
Harvester of Sorrow...

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/22/2003 04:28:00 AM | link

Anarchy in NW, DC
For my friends who are fans of the Sex Pistols: I was surprised to find, while reading the Wash. Post's new daily, Express, that the Sex Pistols are (a) alive, and (b) touring. They will appear this Sunday at the 9:30 Club, 815 V Street, NW. Tickets are $40.

I've never been a punk fan. While by far not my favorite, those who dismiss Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten et al. only after hearing the first line of "Anarchy in the UK" are reminded that these guys made punk so authentically nonconformist that they attacked abortion as well as the British government. Go find and download "Bodies," and / or consult the Viscountess of Rock-and-Roll conservativsm, Miss Tushnet, an erstwhile member of a punk band herself.

Lyrics of Bodies here (harsh language ahead).

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/22/2003 04:15:00 AM | link

Ah, the German intellectuals
In the preface to Foundations of Christian Faith, Karl Rahner apologizes for the corners he had to cut in "this short essay...of only 470 pages."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/21/2003 06:48:00 PM | link

Strange Dream
Actually, it's not so strange given my normal fare, which are usually like a Salvador Dali painting. I had a dream that Arnold Schwarzenegger paid a personal visit to my house to convince me to support him for Governor of California. He spent over an hour talking to me about why he thought he could do it, and why he needed my time and money over the next two weeks.

We kept getting interrupted. Nevertheless, I tried to steer the conversation toward Arnie's stance on abortion, which has been bothering me. Before he drove off on his motorcycle, our discussion got tangled up with his mother-in-law, who, in the dream, was your typical raving liberal Catholic. Just before I woke up, I was arguing with Eunice Shriver who was claiming I wanted to return Catholicism to the dark days when women were seen as evil and were forced to wear the veil. I wasn't helping the argument, to no one's surprise, by pursuing my opinion that the the veil is good!

In general, I am hoping Arnie returns to his ardently fiscal-libertarian days. I don't know where he stands on other social issues, but I know where he once stood, but at least he is frank about those days, and willing to kick Clinton while he's at it.

He's always good in the news:

"In an AP interview last year, Schwarzenegger smoked a cigar and said he has been in good health after undergoing surgery to replace a heart valve in 1997." (It was also great to see him chomping on a stogie as Presidential Fitness Advisor under Bush, Sr.)

"He mused about the possibility of becoming governor of the nation's most populous state: "That's the great thing about this country, that as a foreigner, `Mr. Schwarzen- Schnitzel,'" he said with a laugh, "I can come here and say, `Maybe some day I'm going to run this state.' It's a big state. Then we can buy Austria."

I'd prefer to keep the Schwarzwald im Bayern, but being the grandson of an Austrian emigre myself, I wholly support this kind of attitude about leaving one's Vaterland for good.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/21/2003 02:42:00 PM | link

Dark Mood Averted by Unexpected Swayze Enthusiast
So I am waiting for the shuttle to arrive from the garage. It's already 25 minutes late. I've called twice. Someobody forgot to send it the first time, and now it's on its way to the Ballston metro station where I'm waiting. The purpose of this trip is to drop a few hundred bucks to fix my car's broken window which I'm not happy about in the first place. So, despite an OK morning, I'm on my way to a dour mood.

The guy arrives. Since their regular shuttle is out nobody-knows-where, they've sent a mechanic in a beat-up old minivan. He's a short, stocky Hispanic man, probably in his 30s, but looks early 40s. (I've learned to always drop my estimates about 10 years for Hispanics, who often look older because they're haggard from hard work and bad health care.) He is short and stocky. His hair is slicked back. He's got the typical uniform: dark blue, name patch, company logo. I say hello. He speaks English, but he's fairly laconic. He has several scars running up and down his forearms. We get going. Because it has taken them so long to connect with me, the rush hour traffic is getting thick around us. I know I'll likely be caught in the traffic on the way home. Mood meter dips lower.

He turns on the radio. If you've ever been required to take shuttles and cabs in DC, you'll find that your driver, 9 times out of 10, loves to turn on the squawkbox. If the Oligarch had it his way, outside would be like his home when he is alone: silent, 90% of the time, if not more. I never turn on TV, radio, or even mp3s most days. Just nice, calm, focused silence. So the squawkbox is also getting on my nerves: some incessant jabbering about some utterly useless sale described in wildly hyperbolic, vaguely political terms, with nearly orgasmic enthusiasm: "Revolutionary! We're defining what it means to sell mailboxes at the Crickman's all-night mailbox blow-out sale! Red ones! Blue ones! Ones you've never seen! You won't believe what happens to you as you buy one of our mailboxes!..." Mood meter dips another notch.

Then the amazing happens. The station finally gets back to playing the music. It's that kitsch staple of soft-rock channels: Patrick Swayze's She's Like the Wind. About 30 seconds into the song, coming up on the chorus, I think I hear something. No. It couldn't be. Maybe we passed something on the road that was whistling or whining. Nope, there it is again. I don't want to look over, but I prick my ears up. Soon, his volume is sufficiently loud that I don't have to guess. My scarred, oil-stained, haggard, 30-something Spanish mechanic is so enraptured by Patrick Swayze that he is starting to croon along under his breath. I resist chuckling.

By the chorus, he doesn't care if I hear him: "I feel her breath in my face...Her body close to me! I see the look in her eyes...She's outta my lea--gue!" Since the next part has two voices, he pauses, then picks the exclamatory part: She's like the wi--innnd! She's like the wi--innnd!. I am positively tickled by this guy. If I was in a slightly better mood, I would have been tempted to take the other part and duet with him. It was too rich.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/20/2003 05:39:00 PM | link

That's my Vatican! I love their website. They just posted a slew of new mp3s from the Sistine Chapel choir. You can also get a letter signed by Michelangelo.

I found that they run the whole server on Apache, as I bungled around trying to find a Latin copy of the text of Dei Verbum:

You don't have permission to access /archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/ on this server.
Apache/1.3.27 Server at www.vatican.va Port 80

I would love to see an article on the security they have on the Vatican website. Can you imagine the hackers who must try to cause them trouble?

Why a Latin copy of Dei Verbum? Well, the usual reason. Austin Flannery renders a key passage about the literal sense of the OT in DV 15 as such:

"These books, even though they contain matters imperfect and provisional, nevertheless show us authentic divine teaching."

Vatican translation:

"These books, though they also contain some things which are incomplete and temporary, nevertheless show us true divine pedagogy."

With regard to the common question of what one's attitude should be toward historical events recounted in the OT, imperfect (which implies the presence of error) is significantly different than incomplete, which permits the belief that what is said is accurate, just not comprehensive.

The Latin turns out to be ambiguous, but I think "imperfecta" bears the primary sense of incomplete, both in itself (Lewis and Short, s.v.) and when paired with "temporaria," which suggests not future revision, but future progress. The Latin:

"Qui libri, quamvis etiam imperfecta et temporaria contineant, veram tamen paedagogiam divinam demonstrant."

There is a footnote reference to Pius XI's Mit Brennender Sorge, but this passage (as far as I can tell), does not refer to defects in the text, but rather, to defects in the moral constitution of the people of God whose deeds are recorded therein, in constrast to the glory of Christ. From Pius XI:

15. In Jesus Christ, Son of God made Man, there shone the plentitude of divine revelation. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets last of all, in these days hath spoken to us by His Son" (Heb. i. 1). The sacred books of the Old Testament are exclusively the word of God, and constitute a substantial part of his revelation; they are penetrated by a subdued light, harmonizing with the slow development of revelation, the dawn of the bright day of the redemption. As should be expected in historical and didactic books, they reflect in many particulars the imperfection, the weakness and sinfulness of man. But side by side with innumerable touches of greatness and nobleness, they also record the story of the chosen people, bearers of the Revelation and the Promise, repeatedly straying from God and turning to the world.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/19/2003 07:20:00 PM | link

Beware of a possible Paypal scam! (See letter below.)

I get a lot of spam on my e-mail account because I've publically posted the link. This spam deserves attention, however, and I've forwarded it to paypal's anti-fraud department. I was tipped off by the salutation "Dear Costumer" (sic -- someone who makes costumes) and unsolicited request for verification (when I don't have paypal service for this e-mail address). The link, when clicked, doesn't actually take you to paypal, but rather to www.ppalident.com. I didn't click the link directly (in case the referral info from my yahoo account gave them further information), but when I went to pull up www.ppalident.com directly, it didn't load (403 Forbidden). I assume this is a scam to trick people who have paypal on their e-mail address to divulge information which can be used to hack their accounts.

From: service@paypal.com
Subject: Verify Your Identity
Date: Sat, 16 Aug 2003 13:48:06 -0400

Dear Costumer,

This email was sent automatically by the PayPal server in response
to verify your identity. This is done for your protection --- only you, the recipient of this email can take the next step in completing the Verify Your Identity form.

To verify your identity and access your account, follow these steps:

1. Click on the link below. If nothing happens when you click on the
link (or if you use AOL), copy and paste the link into the address bar of your web browser.

https://www.paypal.com/fq/ ac=AwL70ntSAoiktqhzl2375zrFTQpXnrxDbZ7Ah5MW43GDuL8RdRBtI10PVo1JH- o.lBCyujjw1vM0Ag&t=pr

The link will take you to our Verify Your Identity page.

2. On the Verify Your Identity page, answer ONE of the questions, and click Submit.

You will then be able to access your account and becoming a REAL verified costumer.

Thanks for using PayPal!

Please do not reply to this e-mail. Mail sent to this address cannot be answered. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account and choose the "Help" link in the footer of any page.

NEVER give your password to anyone and ONLY log in at
https://www.paypal.com/ . Protect yourself against fraudulent
websites by checking the URL/Address bar every time you log in.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/17/2003 08:53:00 PM | link

Thanks, Roo, for The Panda Song, by Corky and the Juice Pigs. (Which, as far as I can tell, is a song from a Canadian comedy group, and not copyrighted.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/14/2003 05:12:00 PM | link

Many thanks to all the folks who showed up to celebrate with me this weekend. Zorak threw me a lovely party. Our sets of parents managed to get to know each other, although blending my parents into the group took some special and extremely patient efforts on the part of my indefatiguable wife.

Special thanks to Cacciaguida and Elinor Dashwood for driving up to visit with their two youngest. Ditto Joshua Jericho who also made the long haul. Other luminaries from the blogosphere included Miss Tushnet, Miss Russo and her afianced, Shamed.

Hmmm. I guess the gifts reveal the man. All of mine came in bottles, even those from my parents, with the exception of the gift from Eve, which was almost a bottle, she tells me, but in the end turned out to be a book. It was like turning 21 all over again!

We have a ton of food and a case of beer left over from the shindig. It looks like neither one of us will need to cook until October. Here's to grey hair.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/10/2003 02:16:00 AM | link

Welcome to the Google searcher who entered "Eve Tushnet I'm bisexual." Well, Eve's glad you felt compelled to share that with Google. Now good day. Please bring the google searcher looking for "Canadian porn" with you.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/10/2003 01:34:00 AM | link

Transfiguration, Fra Angelico

Happy Feast of the Transfiguration.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/06/2003 01:14:00 AM | link

This is why you need to back up your computer regularly and get a cheap-o, used, ready-to-run backup machine for less than $200 (which is totally possible on eBay). Kick him a buck and create the blogosphere equivalent of the final scene in "It's a Wonderful Life."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/05/2003 10:43:00 PM | link

Ut-oh. A Jim Beam factory burned down. Link from Zorak.

It shouldn't create a Jim Beam shortage, however. From the article: the 19,000 barrels which burned are less than 2% of the company's stock. If you do the math, that means there are about 1 million barrels of Beam out there.

Does anyone remember the awful fire at Hoyo de Monteray which took out a large percentage of the world's supply of Hoyo Double Maduros? It was over a year before you could regularly buy them again. I am sure Punch picked up a large number of customers through their English Market Selection line, which is as close to the "double mad" as you can get.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/05/2003 10:39:00 PM | link

Those of you who know my appearance will get this one:

I spent the afternoon with two friends of mine, one a Dominican priest and the other a diocesean priest. We were walking down a street in downtown DC, just south of the Capitol, when two college-age guys pass us. One turns, looks, laughs to his buddy, and says to us all, "You look like a joke walking down the street!"

We were perplexed. My Dominican friend quietly got angry, presuming some kind of anticlericalism. About 5 minutes later, we figured it out: "A priest, a minister and a rabbi were walking down the street..."

Both priests -- ardent fans of the clean-shaven look they are required to wear -- then took it upon themselves to rib me about trimming that beard of mine.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/05/2003 10:24:00 PM | link

Welcome to the Google searcher looking for "Richard Dawson sordid past with woman." That should be women, as in indistinguishable hordes of them. If you see the movie Auto Focus or read my review of it to the left, you'll find out what I mean.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/05/2003 10:17:00 PM | link

New template, dear reader.

I got rid of some sidebar clutter by moving a good portion of that content to the geocities page. "Academic resources" and "charities" are the largest updates. Alas, the promised Mass hijinx and etymologies lay undeveloped.


Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/04/2003 04:29:00 PM | link

Greetings to the Google searcher looking for "1.75 liter bottle of whiskey calories." Thank you for that question! You need two facts to get going:

1) Convert 1.75L into 59.17 fluid ounces, since metric is evil.

2) Each fluid ounce of whiskey has about 70 calories, at 86 proof, presuming it is relatively dry stuff like Jack Daniels and not sugared like Southern Comfort.

Thus when you slug back that 1.75 (and good luck with that), you're ingesting: 4142 calories! No wonder you feel like a Greek god. You've just drank two days' worth of energy, which is enough to put more than a pound of fat on you, assuming you ate a regular meal that day. And I sure hope you did.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/04/2003 04:26:00 PM | link

You know you have Quake / Wolf Withdrawal Symptoms
when the two songs in your head all day are the opening music to the Urban Terror mod and the crazy lounge music in Ricochet.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/02/2003 07:37:00 AM | link

Just to make it public, at last weekend's gathering of the Pythagorean brotherhood, I wagered Chickpea Eater that if he didn't like Caputo's Heidegger and Aquinas, I'd buy him a handle (=1.75L) of Jim Beam.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/02/2003 04:09:00 AM | link

If it ain't broke! Opera 6.03 redux

Sometimes I learn the hard way. I have a basic mentality toward all changes in my computer software: Seriously weigh the merits of installing anything to your system. If it's bloatware, all the more reason to resist. If you're at all skeptical of the worthiness of the programmer, try it on a "test system" first. And lastly: If there's an "upgrade" released, but your present version works fine, stay the course. Just because they say it's new and improved doesn't mean its better for you if you're already happy.

I have been very pleased with the Opera browser. I have been running 6.03 without Java module for a while now, and reviewed it at length here. Recently, Opera released version 7.11, so (in pained, Capt. Kirk-esque voice) . . . I . . . forgot . . . my . . . own . . . advice, and installed it.

Opera 7.11 loads pages even faster. It's like lightning. New levels of customizability are great too. Even better mouse gestures (configurable!) and shortcuts. Still a nice small client (3.6MB download). It preserved my bookmarks, despite a warning to back them up, and it was still registered without a fee (I bought 6.03 for $30.) But when I tried to use my dual-scroll-wheel mouse (an A4Tech sold OEM to Radio Shack, using the "Dual Wheel Mouse" system tray program for support), it doesn't work. It appears they have tried to write Opera 7.x from the ground up, and one casualty of this is that they no longer use the standard Windows library for scroll bars. Thus, my beloved wheel mouse don't do jack in Opera 7.11.

I tried all the normal routes of troubleshooting: Searched Opera's own forums and Google's (formerly DejaNews') discussion groups. No avail. Tried to emulate "MS Intelli-Mouse" mode on my mouse driver. No luck either.

Thus, we were thankful we used Norton to monitor the installation of Opera 7.11, and promptly deleted it and re-installed good, ole, slightly slower Opera 6.03.

Oh, and by the way, the new icons and default skins for Opera 7.11 are hard on the eyes. So stay with Opera 6.x until they get the bugs out of 7.x. That will probably be done a week after they release Opera 8.0 beta.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/02/2003 04:03:00 AM | link

The Best Book in Your Library:
Own a Copy of Pristine Tridentine Beauty

Missale Romanum, Editio Princeps

An e-mail to Holy Whapping reminded me to tell all you that the Vatican Library has been publishing absolutely sumptuous facsimile reproductions of all the Tridentine liturgical books in their Monumenta Liturgica Concilii Tridentini series. They have published the Missale Romanum, Pontificale Romanum, Caeremoniale Episcoporum et Breviarium Romanum. All are photocopies of the original 16th-century texts, with some volumes in two-color printing (red and black). All are adorned with excellent line drawings illustrating rubrics. Wanna see some obscure rituals? Here's some thumbnails. Click on them if you want to cost me bandwidth:

De Benedictione Armorum (Blessing of Armor)

De Benedictione Ensis (Blessing of Swords)

De Benedictione Vexilli Bellici (Blessing of Military Banners)

There are truly lovely illustrations of the Canon of the Mass in the Missale which I don't feel like scanning for you. Nowhere did I see the Rite of Canonical Humiliation. Check out the lovely two-page Te Igitur spread from the Canon of the Mass. The first is black and white to save bandwidth, but the last gives you a sense of the full-color glory of this facsimile:

You can buy the entire Monumenta Liturgica Concilii Tridentini series from paxbook.com, which is based in Rome, but seems to be fairly easy for US patrons to use. Here is the Vatican Library page about the series.

What's the perfect companion for these books, you ask? The Old Oligarch shall tell you: A UNIVERSAL INDULT TO USE THEM AGAIN. Keep praying the Holy Father has something special to tell us in October!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/01/2003 02:31:00 AM | link

You know you're a Catholic nerd when you make a parody of Strongbad's Trogdor the Burninator using JPII and evangelism.

But if you live and study at Notre Dame, you just might have to be Holy Whapping Crazy to be orthodox.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/01/2003 01:36:00 AM | link

Gritty pastoral question in the mailbag yesterday. One reader writes:

I just moved the wife and kid down to a new diocese. We asked around to get a fairly conservative, or at least not loony, church to go to...we went, we liked, the priest didn't once suggest that Christ didn't actually rise from the dead. So far, so good. So on the way out, my wife looks over the bulletin, which . . . [basically] says that if you don't give at collection time, every Mass, in the Special Envelopes, and give well, you're not allowed to come to Mass or at least, receive the Sacraments.... [This may be] a slight exaggeration; I don't have the bulletin in front of me, and my wife was yelling at me about it over the phone (and saying something about converting). But you get the idea.

This isn't a poor-me piece, but we give what we can. We always scrape something together for the basket. Even if I had a seven figure salary and could give five figures a week, though, this would rankle.

This isn't the first time I've heard of this -- a friend of my wife's left the Church because a priest called his infirm old mother and told her not to bother coming because she couldn't afford anything for the collection -- but it's the first time I've seen it firsthand.

So my question is, Is this licit?

My response:

I'm taking the situation as you have presented it, even though, as you say, the case may be exaggerated. I'd get a firm fix on the actual policy before confronting anyone. But if the situation is as you say, such a practice is gravely wrong. It is not licit at all. (I also doubt the priest would have the guts to make good on the threat, but it's still completely wrong even if it is an unenforced "rule" of the parish.)

At the same time, you might have encountered a particularly bad way of encouraging people to enroll in the parish via the envelope system, or a ham-handed reminder that only people who are enrolled in the parish (and thus receiving envelopes) can request things like baptism for their child or getting married there. See the end of the e-mail for more on that kind of debacle.

But I'll presume the worst, and hope the situation is exaggerated. Suppose your pastor says: No envelope, no Eucharist. Then the answer is simple: No priest has the right to deny the sacraments to someone who is properly disposed. By "the sacraments" I am presuming you mean primarily the Eucharist at Mass.

You are a lawyer, so I'll get juridical, although I caution laymen from waiving the Code of Canon Law in some priest's face until diplomatic relations have become irrevocably icy.

The Code has quite a few canons which govern this kind of matter. One notable post-conciliar change in the Code adds extra emphasis on the spiritual rights of the lay faithful. The section begins part II of the Code, and in particular, see Canon 213: "The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments."

Canon 912 (in the section on the Eucharist) is especially emphatic: "Any baptized person who is not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to Holy Communion." (emphasis mine)

"Must" means your pastor is obliged to give you the Eucharist if you are properly disposed. The law goes on to state the expected prohibitions: the person must not be in a state of mortal sin, the person must be adequately taught about the Eucharist, the person must be baptized, if the person has been publically excommunicated for some reason, he must make a public act of contrition so as not to cause scandal by appearing again unexplained in the communion line, etc., etc. There is no prohibition made concerning anything like financial support. There is no reciprocal obligation on the part of the layman who is spiritually disposed, in communion with the Church, and sacramentally prepared.

Canon 222 does state: "The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for apostolic works and works of charity, and for the decent sustenance of ministers."

I do not doubt that you take this obligation seriously. Even if your pastor does doubt it, this general obligation does not translate into a quid-pro-quo approach to the sacraments. There is no mention of such an explicit duty. The canon doesn't translate into a specific obligation to support your particular parish church with a certain amount of money, nor in a certain, regular, monitored way like an envelope system. One could give time, talent, or assistance at parish functions just as well. One could drop $500 in the basket one week and nothing for months. Moreover, there's nothing that says this obligation is directed towards the parish church exclusively, although it is customary to give some part of your financial charity to the local church. Zorak and I try to fulfill our obligation to the Church's work through many good organizations, especially pro-life groups and religious orders. I bet our donations to pro-life groups outpaces our parish donations 4-to-1. As far as I know, this is perfectly fine.

I am not a canon lawyer, but as far as I can tell from the Code, the only person with the authority to explicitly obligate a lay individual to give a certain amount of money is the local bishop, This is extremely rare, and largely a Medieval holdover. Canon 1261 states that the bishop is bound to admonish the faithful about their duty to support the church in canon 222, but here again, this is an admonishment. There is no requirement, and this kind of episcopal fundraising often takes the form of diocese-wide voluntary appeals. (If you want the real nitty gritty on who can require what from whom financially, see canons 1259-1272.) Even if the bishop makes a requirement of someone, he must formally impose a penalty (interdict, excommunication, etc.) before anyone can be denied access to the sacraments.

So long story short, it seems that if this pastor is saying "If you don't put money in the envelope every week, don't expect me to give you communion," he is seriously, gravely, wrong.

It shouldn't take a long walk through Canon law to come to this conclusion. A basic Christian spiritual life attuned to the realites of sacrament and temporal goods should be enough. But I wanted to do specifics because that's what Catholic canon law is for: fleshing out precise obligations of both parties where -- for whatever reason: frustration, ignorance, malice -- one or more parties are no longer behaving in a Christian manner, and yet there are bonds of authority and real obligations between them which must be respected.

I have seen a low-grade version of this game played with the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and marriage. It is perfectly OK for a parish to want you to register so that it can have a roll of parishoners. (Although at the same time, I move around so much that I think this idea is a holdover from when people were a lot less transitory.) Some parishes automatically send you envelopes when you're registered, but do not make any demands. Basically the idea is: "OK, you're a member of our church. Here's a reminder to think about donating weekly in a more constructive way than fumbling for a buck a minute for the collection plate reaches you." This too is fine.

Now add a complexity. You're transitory, like Zorak and I. You want to get married. Most churches immediately ask: "Are you registered here?" They have good reason to do so: they can't just go around marrying anyone who shows up and says they're Catholic, and then let them go on their merry way. Marriage prep takes time, and a basic level of investigating to see that the people are baptized, not impeded from marriage in any way, and adequately instructed in what they are undertaking. To "give them the whole package" pastorally speaking, means you need some kind of relationship. "Parish member" is often the rubric wherein this takes place. Ditto baptism.

Sometimes the question of parish membership takes the form: "Are you on the parish rolls?" or worse: "Do you get our envelopes?" The person making this remark, in my experience, is oftentimes not aware of how crass this sounds. They spend their days making sure everyone is connected, and that includes getting new people "set up" in the parish rolls all the time. They're just referring to a state of "belonging" by one of its more tangible signs. But it sends the totally wrong idea: "If I don't see your envelope in the basket, forget about getting married here."

Pastors can also blow this one in basically the same way: "If you want to join our parish, you need to get enrolled for envelopes." I fully sympathize with pastors who want to motivate the large numbers of totally disconnected people who just show up on Sundays -- people speak to no one, and leave before the closing hymn -- into some more formal, active kind of life in their parish. This is an obligation of the layman, and the pastor has the job of reminding the layman of his obligations. But it's not a good way to say it in such a way that the message becomes: "You can't come here unless you start using envelopes." Even the potential for this kind of miscommunication should be avoided.

So I hope that this is basically what your wife ran into in the parish bulletin. Let me know what comes of it.

As a side note, are one or both of you converts? Or have I just had a bad streak of experiences where pastors can sound really crass?


Posted by Old Oligarch on 8/01/2003 01:06:00 AM | link


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