Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Disappearing Christmas Gifts of my Childhood

Seeing a post this morning about the dangers of the Ouija board jogged my memory of a particularly Thurber-esque aspect of some of the Christmases of my childhood. I'm thinking of the times when my two sisters and I lived off and on for years at a stretch with my father's sister, Agnes, her husband, Ray, my father's immigrant Irish widowed mother, Grandma Sullivan to us, and my cousin, Marybelle. Sometimes Uncle Ray's mother, Grandma Corder would be on a long-term visit from Arksasas while we were there and live with us all too.  Uncle Ray's Arkansas' roots account for cousin Marybelle's name, which was previously not heard of in Boston, where we all lived. 

My fireman father, Joseph, had died in a firetruck accident when I was two years old, my sister, Martha, was one, and my other sister, Joe-anne, was about to be born the next month. It was part of the gloomy secret-filled atmosphere of my childhood that my mother would be gone away for long stretches of time. I would be shushed up or the subject would be changed if I tried to ask questions about her.

My rakishly "tall, dark, and handsome" uncle was a barber in a rundown part of Boston, on Commonwealth Avenue near the downtown police station. After Uncle Ray would come home from work every evening, my beautful red-headed aunt left for work. Even though her name was Agnes, we called her Peggy, because she had taken care of a nephew when she was a teenager and he was a toddler; he called her Peggy since he couldn't pronounce her name, and the name had stuck. One  of the jobs Aunt Peggy had over the years was sterilizing instruments at Brigham and Woman's Hospital on the night shift. We were fed and clothed sufficiently but were not well off, and my  aunt and fond grandmother used to shop for bargains at Goodwill and at Woolworth's or the five and dime. 

One Christmas we got a Ouija board; I think Aunt Peggy must have found it at Goodwill. I remember Grandma Sullivan saying something disapproving about how the Ouija board was supposed to have something to do with demons, but my modern-thinking aunt and uncle pooh-poohed that. We were halfway hoping that demons might answer us when we played with the board one day, not knowing that we were really in danger. But we didn't get any answers, and we got bored and lost interest. Thank God for that, since exorcists report that many of the exorcisms they perform are from demons that were summoned by Ouija boards. Maybe it was my Grandma's frequent rosary prayings that kept them away.

In any case, I never saw the Ouija board again after that one experiment.

We didn't see it again because my aunt's odd idea of keeping our toys from cluttering up the house was to throw them away! 

Before we went to Mass on Christmas Day, we would race into the parlor around 6 a.m. and tear open the wrappings on a pile of gifts from under the tree. From the emphasis on quantity over quality, I think now that the value of all the paper and ribbon used to wrap them might have been greater than the value of all the presents combined.  For the rest of the day, after we got home from Mass, we'd play with whatever toys we'd gotten--and then we would never see them again. Only sometimes, some of the games would stay. Aunt Peggy would stick them away in a closet.

I only realized my aunt's idea of housekeeping was to toss things away years later. Most of the gifts we got were usually used from Goodwill or cheap from the dime store, so tacky and uninteresting, we didn't even miss them. We were never asked, what do you want for Christmas? -- except for the few years we were living with our mother.

When my mother came back when I was about 6 and and took us to live with her in another kind of gloomy secret-ridden environment, where we were hiding out from the aunt and uncle and grandmother, her Christmas gifts to us were bought new in the department stores and those were keepers. But that's another story.

On one Christmas when we weren't with my mother, in the parlor near the tree was a four foot tall lumpy package that turned out to be a dolly when it was unrapped. Not a doll, a dolly of the kind you move furniture around with. (I found out just now that they usually are called hand trucks.) 

That's right, Aunt Peggy and Grandma had picked up a red dolly from Goodwill. I remember my uncle saying to my aunt that us kids wouldn't like it. She told him, "Ma thought the kids might like to play with it." Uncle Ray was right, we didn't like it.  We just ignored it until it went away.

By the next day, it had disappeared like all of the other ephemeral Christmas gifts we got from them, and so we never saw the dolly again either.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Conduc in caelum omnes animas pauperculas

What Are the Authentic Words of the Fatima Prayer?

During one of the Church-approved apparitions to the three children at Fatima, Portugal, Our Lady requested that a new prayer be added after every decade of the rosary, after the "Glory be to the Father" ("Gloria Patri") is said. The prayer is commonly translated as follows, but for some reason I've been trying to discover, this commonly used version doesn't match the words that Lucia told one author that Our Lady used. 
Latin English
Domine Iesu, dimitte nobis debita nostra. Salva nos ab igne inferiori. Perduc in caelum omnes animas, praesertim eas, quae misericordiae tuae maxime indigent. Amen.O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

When I was preparing a Rosary handout for my Latin students, I remembered that a friend had once told me that the last words of the Fatima  prayer as dictated by Our Lady during her appearance on July 13 to the three children of Fatima, Portugal were, according to Lucia Santos: "in most need." The wording that almost everyone uses adds "of thy mercy." 

When I looked it up, I found that Sr. Lucia supposedly told a quite different version of the prayer to author William Thomas Walsh in an interview published in a book titled Our Lady of Fátima (Macmillan, 1947)[1] Sr. Lucia stated to the author that "The correct form is … : 'O my Jesus, pardon us, and save us from the fire of hell; draw all souls to heaven, especially those most in need.'" So Lucia's version does not have the commonly added phrase "of thy mercy" at the end of it.

The author also gave the original Portuguese in a footnote: "Ó meu Jesus, perdoai-nos e livrai nos do fogo do inferno; levai as alminhas todas para o Céu, principalmente aquelas que mais precisarem." The diminutive "alminhas" could be translated as "poor little souls." I love that the phrase expresses a sense of endearment and affection for those who are in danger of going to hell.

In Latin, alminhas can be translated into pauperculas animas. The version I see most often follows next, with "pauperculas animas" inserted in the Latin and "poor little souls" inserted in the English by me:
O mi Iesu, dimitte nobis debita nostra, libera nos ab igne inferni, conduc in caelum omnes animas pauperculas, praesertim illas quae maxime indigent.Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, draw all poor little souls to heaven, especially those in most need. Amen
  • "Domine Iesu," from the first version of the Fatima prayer I showed above has been replaced with "O mi Iesu," an exact translation of the Portuguese words, "Ó meu Jesus." 
  • The word "inferiori" is replaced with "inferni." 
  • The phrase "misericodiae tuae" or "of thy mercy," is removed, so that the thought of the prayer stops with "illas quae maxim indigent," or "those who most greatly are in need."
I've seen "O mi Iesu" and "inferni" in the common translations, but removing the phrase "misericodiae tuae" is the point at which I started to doubt myself.  The dictionaries I looked at say that the verb "indigo, indigere" of which "indigent" is present active participle, takes  genitive or ablative. And so I suspect that "misericodiae tuae" may have been inserted in the Latin version  because of the Latin grammar rule, and then the "of thy mercy" phrase made it over to English.

I brought this point up with Stephen Cordova, medievalist and Latin scholar, and he thought I should use the "versio typica" (official version). I can't find a verso typica, and so, I told him, I would like to use "animas pauperculas" and leave out "misericordiae tuae," because that way my version will most closely match the version told by Lucia to the author I quoted earlier in this post. He said that the participle "indigent" does not require the genitive or ablative. I'm sticking with the version above. Hope it doesn't confuse any of my students that I am teaching them a non-standard version.

I would love to get your opinion on this.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How Did Pope John Paul II Have the Nerve to Create Those Mysteries of Light?

I personally love the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary (also called the Mysteries of Light), even though some traditional Catholic friends of mine won't pray them.[1] The objection of some conservative Catholics to the addition of the Mysteries of Light seems to be that the Rosary was revealed by Our Lady to St. Dominic and for that reason it should not be changed in any way. To that objection, I have no real answer. 

But I do want to point out that the gentle suggestion that the new mysteries might be profitably added to our rosary meditations was made by a pope who has been declared a saint by the Church, Pope Saint John Paul II. And it is also significant that the pope of the Mysteries of Light was so devoted to Our Lady that his dedication to her was expressed in his motto, "Totus Tuus," "All yours."

In St. Peter's Square, this mosaic of Mary, Mater Ecclesiae, Mother of the Church, was erected under Pope John Paul II, in gratitude for his having been spared death from an assassin's bullet. Note his motto beneath the Madonna, to the right of his coat of arms: Totus Tuus

The Mysteries of Light were first proposed by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginae Mariae, which was released on October 16, 2002. In Rosarium Virginae Mariae, Pope John Paul II wrote with great devotion about the rosary and its significance as the Church's prayer of meditation on the life of Christ. He explained why he created a new set of mysteries in this way, "to bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary, it would be suitable to … broaden it to include the mysteries of Christ's ministry between his Baptism and his Passion."

Pope John Paul II went on to write about why he called the new mysteries the Luminous Mysteries  "It is during the years of his public ministry that the mystery of Christ is most evidently a mystery of light. 'While I am in the world, I am the light of the world' (John 9:53)." 

He was writing at a time when Marian devotion was being viewed even by some Catholics as Mariolatry (idolatry of Mary). There had been unfortunately a kind of Protestant reaction against Marian devotion in some parts of the Church after Vatican II, and the rosary was included by many in the general disdain.[2]

Some of the Cardinals who elected Karol Wotyla, who then took the name Pope John Paul II, had thought of him as a forward-thinking candidate. Wotyla, for example, was a proponent of Mass in the vernacular, which was one of the liberals' favorite platforms. So the more-liberal Catholics were baffled by and very critical of what turned out to be Pope John Paul II's intense Marian devotion, along with what reformers came to think of the new pope's reactionary stance on the preservation of Church doctrine in many other areas that the reformers had previously thought were up for grabs. 

Using the left's favorite techniques of amateur psychoanalysis, his critics  downplayed this pope's love for Mary merely as a psychological compensation for the early loss of his mother.  

One of the objections of the anti-Marian-devotion camp to the Rosary before the Apostolic Letter was released had been to point out that the rosary was too much centered on the sorrows of Mary, not Christ-centered enough. The events of Christ's life between the Finding in the Temple and the Agony in the Garden were not part of the original three mysteries.

I believe that the Mysteries of Light (Mysteria Lucis) almost certainly came about because John Paul II was guided by Our Lady to whom he consecrated himself. But the new set of mysteries certainly also appropriately addressed the objections of those who thought the rosary was not focused enough on Christ. Some say they bring a missing dimension.  See this comment I got when I started posting about this idea on Facebook earlier today: 

Candid Heart Some Traditionalists do resent this. But personally, I did wonder why the Rosary lack some of the aspects of our Lord's pilgrimage on earth. So, when Saint JPII promulgated the inclusion, my heart, so to say, was ready for it. . . .

I personally have another reason to love these mysteries, because I privileged to be able to visit the sites where they happened when I went on a pilgrimage to Israel in 2005. I stood in the Jordan River, visited Cana, the site of the Sermon on the Mount and of the Transfiguration, and the upper room where Jesus instituted the Eucharist, and those places all come to mind when I pray these mysteries. Actually, at the end of our pilgrimage, someone pointed out that we had visited all the sites of the Rosary, except the site of the Visitation.

Mural of the Church of the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor

  How to Pray the Mysteries of Light

The Mysteries of Light (Mysteria Lucis in Latin) are typically prayed on Thursdays, which in Latin is called Feria V, because it is the fifth day of the week.
Following are the mysteries in English and Latin. Several different titles for the mysteries are used. After some consideration, I used the same titles that are used in the Rosary recordings of both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The usage of two popes is authoritative enough for me.

Luminous Mysteries (Thursday)
  • Jesus is baptized in the Jordan
  • Jesus reveals Himself at the Wedding at Cana
  • Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God
  • Jesus is transfigured on the mountain
  • Jesus institutes the Eucharist
Mysteria Lucis (Feria V)
  • Iesus in Jordane baptizatur
  • Iesus apud Canense Matrimonium se autorevelat
  • Iesus regnum Dei proclámat
  • Iesus in monte transfigurátur
  • Iesus Eucharistiam instituit

[1] Often because of sometimes shocking abuses they witnessed after the Second Vatican Council, many devoted Catholics came to hate any changes that were introduced to the liturgy or the devotions of the Church during and after the council, more or less on principle. Let's have a little compassion here. These folks are quite likely to be suffering a kind of PTSS - post traumatic stress syndrome. I have a touch of that PTSS too. I often quote Mother Angelica on this topic. She called the mainstream post-Vatican II Church, the electric Church, because you never know when you go to Mass whether you'll get a shock. A sign of the PTSS syndrom is a knee-jeck reactin of hatred for anything that changed after the council. I just ran across a commenter at Fr. Z's blog who called the Mysteries of Light "JPII's contamination of the rosary.”

[2] Come to think of it, I might as well add that I love all of the Rosary, even though some Catholic friends don't pray any of it at all.

Pope Saint John Paul II's Coat of Arms symbolically shows Mary at the foot of the Cross

New Director of Music at the San Francisco Oratory-in-Formation at Star of the Sea

In early September, I had an interview with Jeffrey Morse, the new Director of Music at Star of the Sea Church in San Francisco, a few weeks after he started his new position there. Star of the Sea is the site of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri,  which Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone launched August 1, 2014 and which will be under formation for the next few years.

The new pastor, Fr. Joseph Illo, and another secular priest from St. Louis, Fr. William Driscoll are the first members of the oratory-in-formation, which for the time being will be known as the Fraternity of St. Philip Neri. If you would like to know more about what the Oratory is and why it is being formed in San Francisco, Fr. Illo's blog provides lots of details. 

Fr. Illo sought out Morse because of his unique reputation from having created well-respected music program at St. Stephen the First Martyr Church in Sacramento, where he trained and led both adult singers in a schola and child choristers from the parish school.

Morse has ambitious plans that include eventually training child choristers from the Star of the Sea parish school to sing in the liturgies at the oratory, along the model of how student choristers from the London Oratory School sing at the London Oratory.

A short article on Morse's new role at Star of the Sea, "Bringing the Inspiration of the London Oratory to the San Francisco Oratory" was published by the Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisc and you can view it here.

The interview itself is tentatively planned for publication at the New Liturgical Movement blog in November.

Below are a few photos from the interview with Jeffrey Morse at the Star of the Sea rectory.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Comment in Which RT Sullivan Answers Some Questions from Other Commenters at Fr. Z's Blog

Background to the Pontifical Latin Mass Celebrated by Archbishop Cordileone at Star of the Sea, September 14, 2014

I just posted this comment at Fr. Z's blog post "San Francisco: Pontifical Mass!"
To answer some questions and respond to some previous comments: Star of the Sea Church is the site designated by Archbishop Cordileone for the new Oratory of St. Philip Neri, which is in formation there.

He initially chose Star of the Sea as the first archdiocesan church to have a regular Extraordinary Form Mass during regular Sunday Mass hours because, as he has been quoted as saying, “it is well suited for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form Mass.”

His Grace then went on to establish the parish as the site for the San Francisco Oratory, because not only is the church beautiful (and not wreckovated), but its rectory is big enough for priests who are expected to join the oratory to live and pray together.

In addition, the parish has a school attached. The new music director, Jeffrey Morse, plans eventually to recruit and train choristers from the school to sing at liturgies, similar to the relationship between the London Oratory and the London Oratory School; see Bringing the Inspiration of the London Oratory to the San Francisco Oratory.

The Benedict XV Institute is well underway. Director Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB, is teaching classes about liturgy and chant at the seminary and leading parish workshops in chant. For example, on Sept. 13 and 14, Fr. Weber led a two-day Sacred Music Workshop at Our Lady of Peace Church and Shrine in Santa Clara where interested parishioners were trained in chant and polyphony and the place of sacred music in the liturgy.

Here is an interview with and article about Archbishop Cordileone from The Latin Mass journal, about initiatives he has been taking to improve liturgies in the archdiocese. This New Liturgical Movement article, “Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music" gives details about the plans for the institute. Here is a link to a Regina magazine article about the EF Mass at Star of the Sea "After 50 Years, There’s a TLM in San Fran," which includes more photos of the beautiful interior of the church.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Welcome to München Land (Or: My Lost Trip to Prague)

This post is a modified version of a story of mine that was published in the Santa Clara Weekly in December 2006. I'm reposting it here because a friend posted a story of her own today about being accused of being a bomber while she was in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, and that reminded me of this story about my own misadventure when I was on my way to Prague to sing with the St. Ann Choir in September of 2006.  
After being a prisoner in the Munich (München) airport for 23 hours, I feel qualified to write the definitive guide to that airport as a travel destination.

I wasn’t planning to visit Munich. I was just supposed to be changing planes there on a trip to Prague with the St. Ann choir to sing at a music festival.
We had left San Francisco on Friday, Sept. 14, 2006, and got off the plane at 3 pm Munich time the next day. Although it was early morning for us, some of us went off for a beer (my first introduction to breakfast beer), and as we stood up to leave the bar after the beer, I realized I was missing the little black bag I use for airport necessities. Not only was my passport in that bag, but a credit card, a new cell phone, my license and cash. All gone.

When I told a Lufthansa Customer Service (LCS) clerk, Ruth from Sweden, that my passport was missing, she took my boarding pass (which I released reluctantly) and had my bags removed from the Prague flight.

Ruth tried to reassure me: "We'll send you on the next plane when we find your passport." I told her our first rehearsal was the next day, Saturday, at 10 am. "We'll put you on the 7 am flight. You cannot go to a hotel without your passport. You'll have to sleep here. We'll give you blankets and cushions (pillows)."

The clerk repeatedly called a department she referred to as "Cabin Lost” but the bag never showed up there. It gradually became obvious that the passport was not going to be found. She told me that the only thing that I could do with the copy of the passport I had in my luggage would be to go back to my point of embarkation. Somehow I learned that Octoberfest, which actually starts in September, was going on. There I was in Bavaria, stuck the airport, and with no way to get out and join the fun.

I was, naturally, distressed. Then I remembered that the previous week, I had gotten the sense that God was telling me not to go. I had thought at the time that it would be crazy to back out after I had prepared for months, attended all those rehearsals, studied Czech, and had paid for the trip. So I had prayed that if God didn't want me to go that He should prevent me. My friends’ reaction to this part of story has been to laugh and say, "You've got to be careful what you ask for." 

Chairs like the ones I slept on
After recalling that I had been warned not to go, I was pretty much resigned to my predicament when a border policeman named Walter came to escort me to get the passport copy out of my suitcase. Because the baggage area is officially in Munich, I wouldn't even be allowed in that part of the airport unescorted. Because I was too flustered to grab anything sensible while Walter was watching me go through my luggage, except for a change of socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, I was stuck wearing the same clothes for three days.

Walter reminded me that I should not take anything with me that security wouldn't allow on the plane the next day.

“Oh no, I can't take my makeup.”

“You don't need makeup,” he said gallantly. Obviously, he was a nice guy. As we walked, he told me some things about his life and about his wife and two small children. Walter told me that when Pope Benedict had visted his own hometown of Regensberg in Austria the previous weekend, he too had gone there with his parents and the rest of his family, and he said how elated everyone had been. He brought my bags and me to a ticket counter to get my ticket booked onto a return flight to San Francisco. Before he left, he also told me, "Don't ever lose your smile.

Walter came back later to say goodbye after his shift was over and found me at another LCS desk. The clerks there had left the phone on for me to continue to use when they left at 11 p.m.

As I told Walter, when I called the US Embassy in Berlin and the Munich consulate, they told me that the only way I could get an emergency passport was at the consulate on Monday. The duty officers didn’t explain how I would be able to get to the consulate, since I wasn't allowed to leave the airport. If I hadn’t had the copy of the passport in my bag, I wonder if I would still be stuck there.

I didn’t see anyone all night. The only sign of life was the sound of a floor buffer, buffing away in the distance throughout the night. The next morning I was half-awakened from my sleep on a bench when the big screen TV overhead started a loop of advertisements whose core message was the joy of shopping at the airport.
Upscale Airport Shops
Nearby, a curly headed blonde moppet in green tights tootled randomly on a wooden flute while her mother looked on fondly. 

Ordering Breakfast Beer
At the Weiner Kaffe (Vienna Cafe) restaurant half an hour later, I told the waitress that I was surprised so many people sitting around me were having beer, only beer, for breakfast. "In Germany, this is normal." She had a diamond stud in her nose, and she left a cigarette burning in an ashtray while she rang me up.

I believe natives can always tell the Californians at the German airports. Californians are the ones like me, indignantly hacking and coughing as they walk past the smokers.

After breakfast, I followed the signs to an inter-denominational meditation room and read Morning Prayer in a small chamber dominated by a chunk of barkless tree wedged in between the floor and ceiling.  

Follow the signs and symbols to the nondenominational prayer room
On the floor, a painted compass pointed the direction to Mecca, and as I left, a young Muslim couple with a baby in a stroller came in, unfurled a prayer rug facing Mecca, and began to pray.

Object of meditation
After some souvenir shopping, and a sausage, beer, and potato salad lunch, I boarded the flight back to SFO, for the long uncomfortable flight home. 

On Tuesday, Lufthansa Lost Luggage department called me at my home in San Jose from Munich to tell me that someone had forwarded my lost bag to Prague, but it had come back. They then sent it back to SFO as baggage.  My passport was handed over to the American consulate.

When I called the consulate, an official told me to send the consulate an email describing what had happened, and he would investigate.

I wrote, in part, “Because I couldn't get a temporary passport and continue my trip, I lost not only the money I paid for the travel, I lost the priceless experience of participating in the festival with my choir. All I got for my pains was two uncomfortable 12 hour transatlantic flights, a night's sleep on a bench without a shower or change of clothes, and some marzipan and gingerbread souvenirs I bought for my family at the airport.”

The consulate general wrote me back that the duty officer had actually been correct. The embassy only issues emergency passports during regular business hours. The American consulate’s definition of an emergency is obviously not the same as mine.

After having studied Czech every spare minute for months, the only words I got to use were "Prossim" (Please) and " Dekuji" (Thank you), when leaving messages for the choir director at the Prague hotel. When I asked the fellow choir member who had arranged the trip what Professor Mahrt said when he heard that one of the altos had been left behind, he told me. "Oops."

When I later told my friend Regina that my bag had gone to Prague, I said, "I wonder if it sang while it was there." She said, "Yes it did" and what it sang was "Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah! I got to go to Prague but you didn't!"

I had made a poster for the choir, which had been translated into Czech with the names of all the churches and all the polyphonic Masses they would be singing during the week of the music festival. The choir director told me later that the Masses had been well attended, that the last Mass had standing room only crowds, and that he gives the poster credit for the high attendance. Everywhere the choir went they had seen copies of the poster, which festival promoters had plastered all over the city. So my poster got to go to Prague without me too.

I met the choir at SFO upon their return. A few of the women had sympathetically bought me little souvenirs. The choir director did not say a word. As it turned out, it seems that someone had found my passport in the airplane we took from SFO and had handed it to someone in the flight crew on the connecting plane. As the choir left the plane when they got to Prague someone on the crew was calling my name and holding a passport. Just think, if the passport had stayed in the Munich airport, I might have been able to get it back and take the next plane to join the choir.  And I sometimes wonder if I would have been able to board the connecting plane without anyone asking for my passport if  I hadn't opened my big mouth. As it was, it appears the Lord had other plans for me. 

On a more humorous note, every time I told anyone in the Munich airport about my dilemma, that person invariably said, in Bavarian-accented English, "Chust like the movie Terminal!" In case the reference escapes you, that's the movie in which the Tom Hanks character was stuck in an airport for months.

I had seen the movie but had forgotten most of it, so I rented it on the way home from the airport and viewed it again when I got home. 

Yup, it is possible to be stuck in international transit area of an airport facing the possibility that you may never again get to leave. Life imitates fiction. A bit of a cliche but true.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How to Pray the Rosary and the Angelus in Latin

For my Latin tutoring of homeschoolers, I prepared a handout with the prayers of the Rosary and of the Angelus in Latin and English.  Here is a link to my handout.  I'm always finding things I want to change, and I update it pretty often, so each draft is dated. The most recent one is dated:  09/15/2014. If you like it, feel free to download a copy. I'm keeping a printed copy out on my front porch next to the porch swing where I usually pray the Rosary, because, I have to admit, I haven't memorized all the prayers in Latin, yet. Comment on this post if you see anything that needs to be changed, or if you find it useful, I would love it if you would tell me.

I had to make a few editorial decisions in getting the prayers together. You might be interested in why this amateur Latin sleuth felt the need to sort through multiple Latin names for the mysteries, to spend some time thinking through the controversies about Pope Saint John Paul II's addition of the Luminous Mysteries, and to rewrite some of the most commonly used version of the Fatima prayer. To keep this short (I'm trying to write like a real blogger), I'll make separate posts on the authentic Latin names for the mysteries, for the controversy about the Luminous Mysteries (Lucis Mysteriorum), and for the actual words of the Fatima prayer. I'll come back and make links on this page to the separate posts when I'm done. 

Deus te benedicat (May God bless you)!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Latin Tutoring Goals : Conversation, Rosary, Angelus, Ordinary Form Latin Mass

Yesterday I began teaching Latin again for the 2014-2015 school year at St. Joseph Homeschool Academy in Santa Clara. This year I have a tiny class of three 6th and 7th graders for 40 minutes on Thursdays and Fridays just before the school breaks at midday. I'm planning to write some blogs here about what I'm teaching and learning.

After my class is over at 11:30, the children pile into cars with their mothers and go to the noon Mass at Our Lady of Peace. During the afternoons, the students continue working with their parents at home. The school is a unique homeschooling co-op with parent involvement required every day. It is run by Sisters of the Virgin Mary of Matara (Serviadoras) who are part of the IVE family (Institute of the Eternal Word). The IVE is the order in charge of Our Lady of Peace Church and Shrine in Santa Clara. 

The young religious sisters who run the school are energetic, bright, and generally awe-inspiring. They put together a program that gives home schooling parents the chance to have their children learn from others who may have more expertise than the parents do. I don't know the details of the arrangement, but for most classes (Latin is one of the exceptions), St. Joseph Academy tutoring is coordinated with a homeschooling organization called Kolbe.  Grades are submitted to Kolbe at the end of each semester and at the end of the school year, and the teachers for subjects that are being taught using Kolbe homeschooling materials follow their lesson plans, and use their quizzes and tests.

Me, after following a textbook the first year, and developing materials for teaching Latin conversation and prayers for use while I substituted last year, I'm continuing to make it up as I go along, with the the full permission of the principal. Yesterday I started to tell the students that I would be teaching them conversational Latin, the Rosary, the Angelus and other prayers, and the Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form.  

You might ask, "What's the Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form?"I realize that a lot of people think that the term Latin Mass refers only to the traditional Latin Mass. To explain to my class yesterday what the Latin Mass is and how you can attend one in the Ordinary Form, I spun off into a partial history of the Mass since the Second Vatican Council that eventually filled the white board.  Even the mom coordinator  (who attends the traditional Latin Mass at the Oratory at Five Wounds) looked fascinated as she took notes, and one bright kid, the only boy out of the three students, showed me his own clear notes that he transcribed from the white board, which I really believe were an improvement on my scribbles  

I told them that with the introduction I was giving them, they will understand a lot more about the topic of where the Mass has been than most people around here (the San Francisco Bay Area) who are a lot older than they are. 

In one of my next blogs, I plan to write down what I told the students to help them understand what the term Ordinary Form Latin Mass means so that it will be available 
for anyone else who might benefit.  While singing in Latin Mass choirs and in researching articles I've written, I've picked up a lot  of facts and a constantly growing understanding of this topic

Weird Latin news. I just read that an "American social media star" named Gabi Grecko has begin studying Latin because she wants to improve her song writing skills and 'rhyme in Latin'." I'd post the link to this news in the Daily Mail of the UK, but I refuse to share  the images I saw on that page with anyone.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bejeweled

Computer game ads tout the game's addictive qualities -- as if addiction is a good thing. During the Bejeweled Blitz game I am hooked on, you drag together and destroy groups of three or more bright jewels of the same color, as many as you can in one minute. It's a rush of color, and light, and noise, a far cry from the early Tetris game with the repetitive background music that got a lot of us started. Never thought of that before, Tetris was a gateway drug …
Explosions and lightening flashes on the screen accompany the destruction of jewels. Destroyed jewels are replaced with new ones that cascade down as fast as you can explode the old ones. It's a heart thumping race with thrills, a mini drama with an adreline rush, and it is all over in a minute.  
The action stops and your score is totaled as a loud ticking adding machine sound accompanies the counting.
If you exceed your prevous  high score in the "Weekly Tournament." a throaty male voice whispers excitedly, "New. High. Score." The screen then lies quiescent, with the big PLAY AGAIN button waiting for you to push it and launch the thrill ride again.
Trying to reach higher and higher scores, you can get drawn into repeating that same minute of play over and over for hours. I've even in my worst days played twelve hours straight.

At first I set myself a goal of 100,000 points, and it took me months to get there, and  I thought then that at last I could stop. But no, as could have been predicted, my goals have risen. A friend of mine routinely gets scores in the 600,000s or higher, and I wonder, a bit enviously, "How does she do it?" Maybe she pays for extra "Boosts" and "Rare Gems"?

As I found out in the first couple of months to my frustration, skill can only get you so far.  Even though the game is free, the highest score ceiling you can reach without buying the extra helps is low.  You get a Free Spin every day that gives you some points you can use to buy some extra helps, but those soon run out. The boosts and rare gems seem to act like a Las Vegas controller behind the scenes. Only when they "loosen up the slots" do the higher scores come within your reach.

Even though I refuse to pay anything to play this or other computer games, there are lots of incentives to start. And I'm sure there are many thousands of people playing these games every day shelling out good money to try to reach  ever higher scores. How to get rich: Program a hit computer game, get a big following, and sit back and collect  the bonanza. The Bejeweled Blitz Facebook page has over 6,000,000 Likes. If only 2/3rds, maybe 4,000,000, play the game regularly, and maybe 10% of the regulars buy extra Spins, Rare Jewels, and other boosts, let's see, that's 400,000 people regularly paying for points.

Can that repetition of a minute's intense pursuit of a high score, with only your mouse hand and your eyes moving for long stretches of time be good for a person's brain or body? Of cours not.

For one thing, the repetition leads to  a kind of meditative state during which you empty your mind. We all know the devil loves an empty mind.  He'll do his best to fill  it with his imaginings and broodings and worse.

The repetition  is also physically damaging. Remember that repetiton is behind RSI, repetitive stress injury, where nerves get injured and people get carpal tunnel syndrome?

Besides all this, I truly believe that playing computer games are a type of sloth, and I confess it that way.  All the hours that could have been used to do my duty, lost.

When I try to pray or go to sleep, the bright images of the jewels falling down the screen float before my eyes, and when I'm dreaming my mind is often frustratedly trying to match the combinations, to solve the puzzle of how they all fit together. I am only too well aware of the weakening of my body and my will …  After a long siege of playing, my attention span is pretty shot. I can only do any one thing for a minute at a time. After all those hundred and maybe thousands of hours, I've been programmed that way.