Ha Jolly Ha

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Closing Shop

Well, I want to formally close this old place as I withdraw from the world of blogging in order to prepare for my upcoming entrance into a monastic community. Visitors may still peek through the windows and walk the grounds, but I will not be receiving any messages after tomorrow afternoon. This abode has not only preserved my sanity during long hours of office boredom, but has incidentally inspired a few serious writing attempts, which improved me if no one else. For that reason, I shall remember it with some affection. But it is time to move on to, well, more exciting things. I look forward to finally living out my principles in deeds as well as words.

Some things will definitely be harder to leave behind. The grief of separation from family looms terribly before me in these last months. But whenever my feelings lead me to question the purpose of this stripping away, I remember again that Love is its cause and Love is its goal:

"What does He do to a soul which He has chosen from all eternity to be entirely His? In the great majority of cases 'He leads her into solitude to speak to her heart': Ducam eam in solitudinem et loquar ad cor ejus. Just as a vineyard is enclosed with a hedge to protect it, so the Spouse encloses that soul in the cloister 'in the clefts of the rocks': in foraminibus petrae; the mysterious sepulchre which becomes the cradle of life; He hides her 'in the secret of His face'; in abscondito faciei suae: He makes her dwell in silence, so that she may be recollected, may hear His voice more easily, may please Him alone. He gives the Rule which at each instant shows His will; for light, the Holy Scriptures, which recount His history and reveal His love; He gives the Church for Mother. He confides to her His praises so that 'her voice sounds sweet in His ears' Sonet vox tua in auribus meis, vox enim tua dulcis; He makes her live again the cycle of His mysteries, and by His sacraments gives her sovereign power. Such are the means by which the Spouse establishes safeguards, maintains and augments the love and fidelity of His elect."
Blessed Columbia Marmion, Sponsa Verbi

Friday, April 25, 2008

Clear Creek in the News

Tulsa World recently featured Clear Creek Monastery in a special project including two articles and a pictorial slide show. If you have never visited the Clear Creek website, get over there instantly. It will warm your heart. Here are a few of the pictures you'll find there:

Friday, April 18, 2008

I've Got a Golden Ticket

Photo courtesy Fox News
Though it's more of a scrapbook item now. As you have probably surmised, I attended the Papal Mass in D.C. yesterday. Yes , my sensibilities were offended on any number of levels by the music(most especially by a reggae/tribal offertory piece and a syncopated Veni Creator Spiritus), the concession stands, indecent or casual dress, and pep rally style cheering after the homily. However, I must say there is something indescribably moving about being in the presence of the Holy Father. Il Papa! That says it all. The sense of his spiritual fatherhood really hits home when find yourself physically under his gaze, hearing words directly from his lip, receiving his blessing in person and not on a piece of paper. Besides, there was a dignity about him which transcended the liberal antics - he graciously acknowledged all the cheering before and after Mass, but he gravely remained seated when cheers broke out after his homily. That struck me as a subtle rebuke. Similarly, the only music which he positively acknowledged was Placido Domingo's tasteful rendition of Panis Angelicus. Also, despite a handful of egregious exceptions, I sensed a general intention of accommodating the Pope's preference in the music selections for the Mass which was endearing despite(or perhaps because of) the pathetic ignorance and poor taste it revealed. The Holy Father seems to be biding his time, steadily working for reform but with a patience and gentleness that has caught the world off-guard and won him admiration - even a degree of filial devotion - from unexpected quarters. While this mildness chaffs my righteous inner traddy, I sense a paternal tenderness behind it that I dare not criticize. Perhaps it will even make his reforms more effective in the long run.

So it was mostly a positive experience. I especially enjoyed hearing his homily and bringing home a commemorative metro ticket with the papal flag printed on it!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bees Again

An interesting new explanation for the bee crisis. While a rose by any other name may smell as sweet, it appears that a rose by any kind of factory, vehicle or other noxious engine of pollution will not. These sort of things stir up my latent Luddite tendencies (so she types).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I would just like to mention that TWO students from my alma mater, Christendom College, received awards in ISI's International Student Essay Contest, taking 1st and 3rd places respectively. The topic:
Can Character and Communities Survive in an Age of Globalization?
I skimmed the first place essay and it is worth reading.

The odd thing is that I was just pondering the same question myself and James Poulos over at Postmodern Conservative obligingly offered his thoughts on the question.

Chesterton on Human Creativity

I recently attend a lecture on Chesterton by Dale Alquist, President of the American Chesterton Society. I've been hoping to attend one of his lectures for several years. The best lectures on Chesterton are always replete with quotes and Mr. Alquist did not disappoint in that respect. He also maintained a light-hearted informality which seemed in keeping with the classic Chestertonian spirit, abbreviating his own remarks in order to leave ample time for questions and conversation.

A few of his insights which bear repeating(these are not direct quotes but my own summary and reflection):
  • Man has unique intellectual powers which distinguish him from other animals. While everything in creation reflects the Creator to a certain degree, the peculiarly human powers are higher because they reflect God more apparently. The imagination is one example. It possesses a kind of limitlessness in creative scope which reflects something of the infinite divine nature.
  • The purpose of the imagination is to help us see the truth in all of its wonder and charm. Art is both the fruit of the imagination and a means of training it. The primary purpose of art is to inspire wonder through beauty, thereby preparing the intellect to receive truth.
  • In general, art should depict the world as it should be. Because of our fallen human nature, we understand and depict the fallen world more easily. However, art instructing through negative examples is not as edifying as art which makes the beauty of truth and goodness visible.
I will leave the final word to Chesterton himself:
“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Good Read

From the About page:
is an online feuilleton and news portal collected from a traditionalist perspective. In the left-hand column of the home page is ‘News of the World’. Here we bring notice of current events in Europe, America, and around the globe. In the right-hand column is ‘Around the Sphere’, our collection of the latest interesting posts and entries from around the blogosphere. The middle column is the heart of Norumbega: our collection of feature articles updated (hopefully) every fortnight.

Norumbega is an entirely amateur effort and no one involved in its production is paid for their contribution.

What is a ‘feuilleton’?

Originally, feuilletons were the sections of continental newspapers that were devoted to criticism, art, history, science, or light literature. The first feuilleton was started by Julien Louis Geoffroy and Louis-François Bertin (“Bertin the Elder”) in their Journal des Débats (printed from 1789 to 1944). As the 1911 Britannica remarked of the feuilleton, “it consists chiefly of non-political news and gossip, literature and art criticism, a chronicle of the fashions, and epigrams, charades and other literary trifles; and its general characteristics are lightness, grace and sparkle”.

Norumbega aims to revive the spirit of the feuilleton by ignoring the heavy fatuousness that marks journals of greater import and instead looking at the world from a serious yet light-hearted traditional perspective. Through its three main components, Norumbega aims to enlighten and inform its readers irrespective of the arbitrary distinctions of “Left” and “Right”, of tribe and faction, that mar both print and online outlets. Norumbega aims to be cosmopolitan rather than nationalist or globalist. Above all, Norumbega aims to hold fast to that which is good and true.

What is the origin of the name?

Norumbega is the name given to an ancient and mythical city which rested on a great bay at the head of a great river in the New World. It first appeared on maps in the first half of the fifteenth century and had largely disappeared from them by the end of the seventeenth."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Obscure Dominican Book Recommendation

The Living Water
Fr. Pierre Thomas Dehau
Translated from the French by Dominic Ross, O.P.

When I first opened The Living Water, I did not realize that the entire work comprises a patient unfolding of one passage from the Gospel of John, that of the Samaritan woman at the well. So I found myself pleasantly surprised as each chapter returned to it at some point, to draw forth new insights and meaning. Indeed, the scope of the meditations is truly impressive. With an admirable mixture of precision and emotion, Fr. Dehau considers every word Christ speaks, revealing how even the most commonplace expressions receive a rich significance when uttered by the lips of the Word Himself. Here is an excerpt from Chapter XI which will recommend Fr. Dehau better than volumes on my part:
"Our Lord said to the Samaritan woman: 'If thou didst know the gift of God, thou perhaps wouldst have asked of Him...'(John 4:10). You will notice that Our Lord here employs a very curious expression, perhaps. This word is terrible because, as St. Thomas remarks, it indicates a frightening contingency--that of our liberty.
One can know and not ask. The intelligence does not necessarily move the will. If liberty is a magnificent gift of God, a gift which makes our glory, we can, alas! use it badly as long as we are not in the light of glory. If we will it, we can remain faithful; if we do not will it there is no power in the world capable of constraining us, of forcing our will, down to its very depth, to turn toward God; even the most beautiful lights from God, can accomplish nothing, for our will can always escape from them. Therefore to ask it is necessary that we will it, which is why Our Lord said to the Samaritan: Perhaps...oh! perhaps...! Let us then beg Our Lord to send us graces so efficacious that no heart however hard can resist them, says St. Augustine, in order that bathed in this light, we may indeed ask; for if we ask, God will give us the living water; here there is no more 'perhaps'. 'And He would have given thee living water'(John 4:10). God will surely give it.

Perhaps we will have to wait for an answer, and then it will be for reasons of divine pedagogy. We see good souls who say: I have been asking for a long time and I receive neither promptly nor abundantly; there is nothing but the most complete dryness. How does this happen? Must not the reason for it be sought on the side of God? We do not obtain for one or other of these reasons which I am about to state: we ask poorly--or God wishes us to persevere in our demand.

The first reason: we ask poorly, that is to say, we do not ask humbly. Humility! Ah! such is not easy! And yet if we do not have humility, we stand before God in an attitude which displeases him. Humility is politeness toward God, it is the beholden attitude of the creature toward his Creator; it must begin in the depth of one's nothingness. 'Out of the depths I have cried unto thee, O Lord' (Ps. 129:1). Why do certain little souls obtain all that they wish? Because they ask humbly. He scattered(his gifts), He gave them to the poor. We have already remarked: as soon as God finds really poor, really humble souls He gives with prodigality. 'God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble' (Prov. 3:34). We receive in the measure of our humility. God Himself cannot dispense us from it. He can produce it in us, but He cannot dispense us from it. That, He owes to himself. When a little child, anxious for some object which it covets, does not ask its father respectfully enough, it is quickly put in its place by being told to ask politely. It is not difficult to say to one's father: 'if you please,' but it is sometimes very difficult, so it appears to say it to God. The devil did not want to do it, and we ourselves sometimes have great difficulty doing so and yet as long as we will not do it, God will not grant it, otherwise He would be like a worthless father who does not know how to raise his children. Let us then try to become more and more humble in our prayer.

The second reason why God makes us wait so very long is because He wishes to compel us to persevere. He appears to be sleeping in order that we may continue to knock as in the parable of the Gospel, you know, wherein the poor man makes so much noise at his friend's door, he puts into his demand such importunity, that his friend finally opens up to him. In like manner, the Canaanite woman; the Lord repels her; He seems very hard on her, almost scornful, but it is in order to obtain from her this word, this prayer which He Himself will admire.

I shall add a third reason which can be our consolation when condemned to a delay whose end we do not see: the Lord wishes, by that, to make us copy his own attitude to which most souls condemn Him, to which we have too often condemned Him. Thou waited, says Our Lord, and I...? This is what I do continually, I wait. Thou knocked at the door. And I? 'I stand at the gate and knock' (Apoc. 3:20). The Lord consoles Himself thus by making us suffer what we ourselves make Him suffer. This kind of suffering is very sacred, very holy. We must then know how to say to Our Lord: 'Lord, if I can console you for all the neglect which I have heaped upon you; if I console you by humbly supporting you in your dereliction, by awaiting you for a long time, you whom I have made wait for so long a time, I accept; yes, I am willing to remain waiting at your door as long as you like; but when finally you open it, be sure that I will rush in and when you give me the living water, I shall drink it avidly. For the present, thy will be done.'"

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Well, For Heaven's Sake

It would appear that Tolkien felt as helpless about the whole thing as I do:

"Here ends the SILMARILLION. If it has passed from the high and the beautiful to darkness and ruin, that was of old the fate of Arda Marred; and if any change shall come and the Marring be amended, Manwe and Varda may know; but they have not revealed it, and it is not declared in the dooms of Mandos."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Need to File a Complaint

I have a complaint to lodge against my favorite author, Tolkien, who held the highest place in my affections long before the [blighted] movies were released and remained there despite them. After many years of reading random passages from The Silmarillion every now and again, in fits and starts as it were, I finally sat down this year with the intention of reading the book from start to finish. How cruel I find Tolkien! With prose so lucid and stirring that one imagines some divine inspiration at work in it, he depicts a world of glorious promise...only to introduce the sorrows that befall it, sorrows whose magnitude and number seem to multiply almost exponentially as the story progresses. Sheesh. I feel as one raised into celestial regions where the view was, admittedly, of surpassing splendor only to be summarily dropped into the lower regions of Dante's Inferno without so much as a gin and tonic to fortify me on the way. I hope a little compassion crept into his art somewhere in the final chapters.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Distributist Conference

Distributism in Action

As John Médaille from The Distributist Review pointed out recently, various new endeavors are in preparation for the coming year.
We hinted in the past about a future conference. Now we are working in earnest to secure a site and date for the event. This will be a full day conference with eight speakers who have generously offered their time and support. Please return to our site for updates as developments unfold.
A Grassroots Movement Rising…Again
The original Distributist League initially met at the Devereux pub and spawned 24 like-minded branches across Great Britain within a single year.* These in turn hosted lectures and conferences, and coordinated with complimentary organizations such as Fr. McQuillan's Catholic Land Association.
In recent years, many have made efforts to re-introduce Distributism and, as a result, discussions surrounding the topic have been increasing on the world-wide-web. These consequences are not negligible. Book publishers, online and print journals, lectures, universities, and television programs have either touched on the topic or have dedicated themselves to it.
Short-term Goals
We would like to notify our readers of the following proposed objectives we will meet:
1. The establishment of a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to educate society about and in support of Distributism. This apostolate will engage in the dissemination of educational materials, semi-annual lecture series, and conferences.
2. A chronicle in print is in development with the intent of discussing solutions to our current global dilemmas. Conceptually the magazine will concentrate on both the practical application of Distributism, as well as analysis of various movements conformes with Distributist thought. This journal will include some of the writers featured on our online archive and debates with capitalists and socialists will also be welcome.
3. Fund-raising will play a supporting role towards keeping our costs down for events and all materials. All profits will be used toward our described efforts.
You Can Have an Impact
Send us an email and let us know whether you would like to be contacted with updates and information about said events. We will not release your information to any third parties and you will not have to provide your name if you desire not to do so. Just send us an email that you wish to subscribe and please provide us with your country of residence, city and state/province. This will assist us when preparing future events.
Ultimately we would like to lecture across the globe, so please support this effort by being a part of the mailing list
Establishing a database will allow us to quantify the existing support for these ventures, and inform our readers when and where they will take place.
Please contact us at:
societyfordistributism@gmail.com **
Country of residence:

Sending us your information will be invaluable in our efforts to coordinate these goals
Servire Deo Regnare Est!

Richard Aleman
The ChesterBelloc Mandate
*According to John Michael Thorn's book, An Unexplored Chapter in Recent English History, these branches were founded between 1926 and 1927.
**Upon the establishment of a non-profit, we will notify our subscribers of our new email address.

Hobbit Housing: Whimsical or Practical?

Modern architectural projects obviously lack the attentiveness to aesthetics which was integral to more traditional building methods. Perhaps they are more expensive and less efficient too.

Hat Tip to Zoe at the Inside Catholic.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I am not a frequenter of YouTube but Hilary put me on to these. This guy deserves an award. Too funny.

Hilary said:
"Now, it says on my profile that I'm a Bach person, and it's true. But I find Bach is occasionally annoying. He writes very catchy little tunes that make you want to sing or hum along. But as beautifully as they might play in one's head, they are nearly impossible to sing or hum out loud because they are always in four or five parts.

Fugues and things. Impossible to hum. You follow along one line and it gets interrupted by the next bit of the fugue and you find yourself only humming it in bits and having to play the rest in your head. Annoying.

Fortunately, technology now comes to the rescue."

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Easter Hymn

This is from Lauds for Paschaltide. It is not a literal translation of the original Latin, but I think it is wonderful nonetheless:

Light's glittering morn bedecks the sky,
Heaven thunders forth its victor cry,
The glad earth shouts its triumph high,
And groaning hell makes wild reply;

While He, the King of glorious might,
Treads down death's strength in death's despite,
And trampling hell by victor's right,
Brings forth His sleeping Saints to light.

Fast barred beneath the stone of late
In watch and ward where soldiers wait,
Now shining in triumphant state,
He rises Victor from death's gate.

Hell's pains are loosed and tears are fled,
Captivity is captive led;
The Angel crowned with light hath said,
"The Lord is risen from the dead!"

We pray Thee, King with glory decked
In this our Paschal joy protect
From all that death would fain effect
Thy ransomed flock, Thine own elet.

To Thee Who, dead, again dost live,
All glory, Lord, Thy people give;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To Father, and to Paraclete.

In resurretione tua, Christe, alleluia.
Caeli et terra laetentur, alleluia.

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Motu News

The military is still being denied the Traditional Mass. It probably presents a logistical nightmare, retraining chaplains who might have very little interest in learning an older and more demanding rite.