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Just to step out of my Lenten posting for a minute, I thought I would update you on the progress of my journey through The Lord of the Rings with the eldest gel.  Yes, we are still at it, and in fact are now well into The Return of the King.  Indeed, we are now within measurable distance of our first encounter with that coolest of aboriginals, Ghân-buri-Ghân.

This, of course, means that I am going to need to add a new voice to my increasingly complicated repertoire.  In this case, unlike in some of the others that left me scratching my head, I think there’s only one person on whom to model my performance:

mako Mako as “Akiro the Wizard” in the Conan movies.

I mean, who else could it be?

**Trivia Question:  What was the original “new pleasure”?

UPDATE: In answer to my own question, here is the passage from which the title quote came:

The first thing Arthur noticed as they entered into the thick of the party, apart from the noise, the suffocating heat, the wild profusion of colours that protuded dimly through the atmosphere of heavy smoke, the carpets thick with ground glass, ash and avocado droppings, and the small group of pterodactyl-like creatures in lurex who descended on his cherished bottle of retsina, squawking, “A new pleasure, a new pleasure”, was Trillian being chatted up by a Thunder God.

– From Life, The Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams.

Damian Thompson flags the remarks of Cardinal Mahony regarding the use of the Tridentine Mass:

Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, has just given an online interview effectively trashing the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, liberated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007. Here’s the extract (hat-tip: Opinionated Catholic):

Ann Scolari: What are your thoughts on the Trindentine mass?
Cardinal Mahony: Ann – The Tridentine Mass was meant for those w
ho could not make the transition from Latin to English [or other languages] after the Council. But there is no participation by the people, and I don’t believe that instills the spirit of Christ among us.

The Cardinal’s views are patronising, inaccurate and an insult to the Holy Father. How distressing for orthodox Catholics in LA to have this man as their bishop.

Yes, indeed.   I’ve been attending the Latin Mass for about a year now and frankly, I don’t know what the heck the Cardinal thinks he’s talking about.

RFEC does its best to ensure “participation by the people”.  Of course the celebrant faces the congregation.  The readings of the Old Testament and the Epistle are usually done by kids.  During the Offeratory, the Children’s Chapel group are brought in and plucked down in front of the altar, staying there until it’s time for the congregation to come up for Communion.   While the rector has long argued about the importance of incorporating children into the service, personally I have always found it immensely distracting from worship, which I always thought was the whole point of being there.  (Silly me!)

Now maybe it’s just me, but very often I feel that while the people are participating, their “participation” in the rite is secondary to their participation with each other.  Gossip and chatter are widespread prior to the service and during the Recessional, and seem to be increasing during the service itself.  I have even started to see some coffee cups being smuggled in and sipped on the sly.   What’s the old line about familiarity breading contempt? ‘Strue.

Lest some of my readers think I’m indulging in gratuitous Palie-bating here, I’ll further my point by noting that sometimes I attend the Novus Ordo Mass at my Church because I have to.  And while the congregational distraction isn’t as bad as it is at RFEC, there are distinct parallels.

On the other hand,  every time I walk into the Tridentine Mass, I am so overwhelmed by the sense of the Divine presence that sometimes I can barely lift up my head.

As for participation? Well, apart from Communion itself, we always sing a Processional hymn.  We also chant the Apserges Mei and the Pater Noster and the appropriate responses to the priest’s prayers where called for.  We’re sprinkled and incensed and bow, kneel and/or genuflect where appropriate.  To me, that’s always seemed a critical part of the “process” of the Mass, and the suggestion that the congregation is somehow cut out from what the clergy are up to is, IMHO, absurd.

What the good Cardinal means by “participation by the people” is, I think, some kind of Happy Time bonding experience between them and the clergy across the altar.  What I think of by the term is the manner in which the people and the clergy work together as described above all facing the same way – toward God.

But that’s just me, Mr. Vegas.

I took advantage of the snow day yesterday to sequester myself and read three out of the four Gospels (Mark, Luke and John).  I might have managed Matthew as well if shoveling the driveway and dealing with a pack of manic kids had not consumed most of the rest of my time.

Whether this Lenten exercise had anything to do with it I don’t know, but early this morning I had a dream that Julius Caesar was attempting to make himself God and I was part of a small group trying to prevent this apotheosis from happening.  As I recollect, Caesar (yes, it was Ciaran Hinds) was in some kind of mad scientist workshop filled with blue light, shouting at the top of his voice at the Cosmos.  Meanwhile, my friends and I were trying to pick our way toward him via a warren of basement passages and stairwells.  All I remember of the attempt was that the passage was booby-trapped and great care was needed, especially in the vicinity of fire extinguishers.

As is the case with most dreams, there was no resolution of the drama.  Whether Caesar usurps God remains to be seen.

Last evening, despite the fact that the snow was already coming down in buckets in the Dee Cee area, I made my way over to the local little league clubhouse to take part in the O-fficial AAA softball draft.

After getting home from Mass, I spent a fair chunk of the afternoon pouring over scouting reports and my own notes from the try-outs that had been held earlier in the month, looking with eagle eye for any clues, any signs that might tell me whether a given girl on the draft roster might be a diamond (in the rough or otherwise), an ugly duckling waiting to become a swan, or just a plain ol’ lemon.

In the end, I realized that I was blinding myself to no real purpose.  Therefore, I went to Plan B for compiling my list of desirable playahs:



Much to my relief, once I got to the draft itself, I noticed that after we got past the first couple rounds, the other three managers seemed to be doing pretty much the same thing.

About an hour and a half later, I emerged from teh clubhouse into the snow, carrying with me a brand new roster of thirteen gels aged 9 to 11, a thickish rule book and a large bag containing 4 dozen softballs, a bat and a catcher’s rig.

So here we go……

The season doesn’t start until after Easter, but practice begins this week.  My team’s first meeting will be next Sunday – the announcements were just flashed via email a while ago – and I am already working on a little speech designed to a) motivate the players and b) keep the parents at arm’s length.   I would open up the comments here for team name suggestions, but I suppose that’s something I should leave to the team itself.

Anyhoo, of course I will keep you posted about this little project.


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March 2009