Saturday, December 21, 2002

"Well, here comes Christmas ! That astonishing thing that no 'commercialism' can in fact defile-unless you let it."- J.R.R. Tolkien to Michael Tolkien, December 19, 1962, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

Friday, December 20, 2002

Jesus the Eternal King
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

Our Lord was called Jesus, when He took flesh of the Blessed Virgin. The Angel Gabriel said to her, "Behold, thou shalt bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His Name Jesus." But, though He then gained a new name, He had existed from eternity; He never was not—He never had a beginning—and His true name, therefore, is the Eternal King. He ever reigned with His Father and the Holy Ghost, three Persons, one God. And hence, shortly before His crucifixion, He said, "Glorify Thou Me, O Father, with Thyself, with the glory which I had, before the world was, with Thee" (John xvii. 5). He Who was the Eternal King in heaven, came to be King, and Lord, and Lawgiver, and Judge upon earth. Hence the prophet Isaias says, foretelling His coming, A child is born to us, and a Son is given to us, and the government is upon His shoulder; and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace" (Isaias ix. 6). And when He left the world, He left His power behind Him, and divided it among His followers. He gave one portion of His power to one, another to another. He gave the fulness of His power to St. Peter, and to his successors, who, in consequence, are His vicars and representatives—so that, as the Father sent the Son, so the Son has sent St. Peter. But not only St. Peter and the other Apostles, but all bishops and prelates in Holy Church, all pastors of souls, all Christian kings have power from Him, and stand to us in His place.

Let us pray for our Holy Father the Pope, and all Rulers in the Church.

O Emmanuel, God with us, who art the Light that enlighteneth all men, who from the time when Thou camest upon earth, hast never left it to itself, who, after teaching Thy Apostles, gave them to teach others to succeed them, and didst especially leave St. Peter and his successors, Bishops of Rome, to take Thy place towards us, and to guide and rule us in Thy stead age after age, till the end come; Thou hast sent grievous trials for many years upon the Holy See of Rome. We believe and confess, O Lord, without any hesitation at all, that Thou hast promised a continuous duration to Thy Church while the world lasts—and we confess before Thee, that we are in no doubt or trouble whatever, we have not a shadow of misgiving as to the permanence and the spiritual well-being either of Thy Church itself or of its rulers. Nor do we know what is best for Thy Church, and for the interests of the Catholic faith, and for the Pope, or the bishops throughout the world at this time. We leave the event entirely to Thee; we do so without any anxiety, knowing that everything must turn to the prosperity of Thy ransomed possession, even though things may look threatening for a season. Only we earnestly entreat that Thou wouldest give Thy own servant and representative, the Pope Leo(ed. Leo XIII was Pope when this was written), true wisdom and courage, and fortitude, and the consolations of Thy grace in this life, and a glorious immortal crown in the life to come.

Fanfic blues (and a few tips)
As I mentioned before, I am writing my first Tolkien fanfic. However, the library lost the disk I kept it on, and I have to reconstruct it from memory. (AAAAUUUGH!)
I do read Tolkien fanfic as well, but it has become more difficult to find good work since the first of Mr. Jackson's movies came out. Websites are overloaded with, well, dreck, most of it from folks who seem to think that if they've seen the movie(s) and maybe skimmed LOTR once, they are qualified take these characters which have been loved by millions of readers for almost fifty years and do whatever the heck they want with them. My own biggest fanfic peeves are these:
1. "Slash"- Putting Tolkien's characters into same-sex sexual relationships. This is an obvious example of importing modern 'values' (or rather the lack thereof) where they are not only offensive to my faith and the faith of the author, but completely destructive to the spell of Secondary Reality.
2. Related peeve: making his characters heterosexually unchaste in uncanonical ways. (Writing about, say, Maeglin's lust for Idril, is another matter entirely.)
3. Modern person 'drops into Middle-earth'. Middle-earth is not another planet or dimension. It is ours. The Professor was writing about an imagined period of history, not someplace one could drop into. Time travel would be necessary for that sort of thing.
4. "Movieverse" fic. The book is readily available. Writing "movieverse"stuff is just plain lazy.
5. Not bothering to give original characters fitting names. Giving an Elf a non-Elven name (like Rowan or Star or Joy, etc.) is simply unacceptable.
6. "Crossovers" and importations of things which do not have a place in the Legendarium. The worst are the folks who import the little fluttering flower-fairies Tolkien detested.

In my searches, I have found some gems in the vast mire.
Thundera Tiger - my favorite fanfic author. I'd recommend any of her stories, though I would warn you to pack Kleenex when you read "Beyond This World"...I end up sobbing every time.
A little sample of dialogue.. from "Fear No Darkness", on whether or not Gimli.....snores.....
"I will have you know, oh great prince, that I have never snored before in my long life and…" Gimli trailed off and looked at Aragorn when the man started to splutter. "Is aught wrong?"

"Gimli, I remember very well a certain night along Anduin in which we were attempting to hide from Orcs and your snores kept rattling the boats," Aragorn said between laughs. "Frodo and Merry were paranoid that you would bring the Enemy down upon us, Boromir suggested drowning you, Sam was ready to beat you over the head with one of his pots, Pippin wondered if shaving off your beard might aid your breathing, and the only reason you met with no misfortune that night was because Legolas would walk over and kick you every time one of us rose to strangle you."

"As I recall, my foot was sore by morning," the prince said with a grimace.

"I should have known that you would side with an elf," Gimli growled. "After all, you married one."

I like some of Dwimordene's fics...
Fathers and Sons- Faramir fic, dealing with his life from the age of fifteen up until his meeting with two Halflings...
Brothers At Heart- Young Estel in Rivendell.
A Reason to Celebrate- Before the War of the Ring, Aragorn visits his own folk, the Dúnedain of the North, for a special occassion....
WARNING: THIS ONE IS VIOLENT Roots- As Aragorn delivers Gollum to Mirkwood, he ends up in even more trouble than he bargained for....
Here's a few Silmarillion-based ones....
Long Night - The Fall of the Noldor, through Nerdanel's eyes ( I have a weakness for things Fëanorian...)
WARNING: DISTURBING SITUATION Dark Forge- A look at exactly how Maeglin became a traitor...
And just for fun....
WARNING: MILD ADULT HUMOR: If Women Had Ruled Middle-earth The ending is just too funny !
A Letter from the Principal - Little Fëanor... just imagine trying to be one of his schoolteachers !

This is brilliant
Cool post at Aliens in This World. (My direct link isn't working, so scroll down to "Tolkien by Muggle".

Thursday, December 19, 2002

I have arrived !
I'm now part of the St. Blog's drinking game. (The direct link isn't working for me, so you may need to scroll down a bit.)
I also got a mention (and an e-mail) from Rachel Cunliffe at Blogs4God. Thanks !

"Well, I'm back".... (TTT Spoilers!)
I went to the midnight showing of "The Two Towers". As I did with "Fellowship", I had some problems. The biggest one was the characterization of Faramir, which seemed to make him "Boromir II'. (I'm hoping the extended edition helps this the way it helped the first with Galadriel. ) Also, while I found the appearance of the Ents perfect, I missed the Huorns at Helm's Deep. Actually, it seemed to me that they had made the Ents more "Huornish" than they are in the book: wilder and more hostile to other peoples.
However, there was a good deal to like here as well. The battle scenes were absolutely amazing. They had the Legolas/Gimli Orc-slaying competition. ("Nineteen...(whack), twenty...(whack) ...twenty-one....") There was a lot of Sam here, and you could see Frodo being corrupted before your eyes. I was happy that some of the later Sam/Frodo dialogue was from my favorite scene in the book.("Let's hear the one about Frodo and the Ring !" )
However, the best thing, IMHO ? In his own words, "Gollum, Gollum". If Andy Serkis doesn't get an Oscar nomination I will be miffed.

Being in the theater was an adventure in itself. Thanks to a friend of mine, I had a reserved seat, so I could wander about. In the line, which was out the door by 11:10 pm , there were "Elves", a good many "Wraiths", and even a Viggo/Aragorn lookalike, as well as miscellaneous people in cloaks. My actual seat was great, though I was not particularly entranced by the patrons on either side.While we all waited for the start (which was delayed) on my left there was a group of comic book store employees talking shop, and on my right a group of action film/anime folks doing the same, and since I'm into neither, it got a bit tiresome listening to how this or that comic series was going to the dogs and how the subtitling was lousy on films I'd never heard of. So I went back to my tattered copy of "The Silmarillion". Also, I am annoyed that there are commercials as well as trailers before the start of the feature nowadays. (Can't we go anywhere to escape constant bombardment with Pepsi commercials ?)
The audience reaction surprised me at one point. At the point of the Gollum-talking-to-himself scene, I heard laughter. Now what the heck was that about ? This same sort of laughter happened at the first showing of the first film, when Bilbo seems "Gollumish" in Frodo's eyes at Rivendell. Odd.
Well, I need to see it again, of course, at a reasonable hour. I think it will be about three viewings before my opinion is completely solid.
(BTW, if you don't get the reference in the post title, go read the book again.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Tonight is the night...
of the midnight showing of The Two Towers at Loews Theater . I 'll be the one in the grey skirt and black and silver blouse wearing the button which has my Elven house emblem and my full fandom name in Sindarin, written in Tengwar characters (classic mode) . ( In standard alphabet it's Nârwen o herth o Fëanor . )

And in Oratory news....
We are coming up on the two big days, Christmas and the ordination. I stopped by, and Deacon Michael was busy trying to get the programs ready. Everything needs to be pretty much set before he goes on his pre-ordination retreat....
The booklets from the Catholic Truth Society have arrived. I picked up the ones on St. Philip, Blessed Joseph Vaz, C.O., and Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O. I am only halfway through the St. Philip one, but it is quite good. It is organized around Venerable Newman's wonderful Litany of St. Philip. It takes each of St. Philip's 'titles' in the Litany and uses it to comment on his character and life.

Litany of St. Philip
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, "
Holy Virgin of Virgins,
St. Philip,
Vessel of the Holy Ghost,
Child of Mary,
Apostle of Rome,
Counsellor of Popes,
Voice of Prophecy,
Man of primitive times,
Winning Saint,
Hidden hero,
Sweetest of Fathers,
Flower of purity,
Martyr of charity,
Heart of fire,
Discerner of spirits,
Choicest of priests,
Mirror of the divine life,
Pattern of humility,
Example of simplicity,
Light of holy joy,
Image of childhood,
Picture of old age,
Director of souls,
Gentle guide of youth,
Patron of thy own,
Who didst observe chastity in thy youth,
Who didst seek Rome by divine guidance,
Who didst bide so long in the Catacombs,
Who didst receive the Holy Ghost into thy heart,
Who didst experience such wonderful ecstasies,
Who didst so lovingly serve the little ones,
Who didst wash the feet of pilgrims,
Who didst ardently thirst after martyrdom,
Who didst distribute the daily word of God,
Who didst turn so many hearts to God,
Who didst converse so sweetly with Mary,
Who didst raise the dead,
Who didst set up thy houses in all lands,

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

V. Remember thy Congregation.
R. Which thou hast possessed from the beginning.

Let us Pray

O God, who hast exalted blessed Philip, Thy Confessor, in the glory of Thy saints, grant that, as we rejoice in his commemoration, so we may profit by the example of his virtues, through Christ our Lord.

If anybody has a question on any of the lines of this litany, please e-mail me, and I will try to answer you.

Over at Blogs4God
Rachel Cunliffe states that when it comes to "The Lord of the Rings", "(Kati, Brenda, Rachel and Alysha can't be the only big fans out there!)".
Obviously, she hasn't noticed my blog.....or Mark Shea's , Robert Gotcher's , Matthew Shaddrix's .....

A "Haunting" Post
by Jeff Miller
Ai !
Now this almost made me de-link HMS Blog. Fortunately, it was followed by this , so I don't need to take them off my template......

Monday, December 16, 2002

Yesterday evening
was the last time the Oratory had Vespers with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, since the students are now scattering to the four winds for Christmas break. It will begin again on Epiphany. I was glad that the hymns sung were "Rejoice ! The Lord is King!" and my absolute favorite hymn of all time....

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the Body and the Blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own Self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

I almost forgot this !
If any of my readers are in the Pittsburgh area, check out the diocesan newspaper for this week. On the front of the annual Diocesan Financial Report, there's a picture of our bishop at a recent ordination. The deacon standing behind him is the Oratory's own Deacon Michael, whom I blogged about here .

Speaking of Tolkien-related misspellings,
I have a sneaking fondness for "The Official Fanfiction University of Middle-earth" by Camilla Sandman. The humor is sometimes (OK, often) crude, the language is unecessarily coarse, and it is most definitely not for children, teens, or the easily offended. However, some of it is quite funny, particularly to a person who sometimes slogs through the mire that is Tolkien fanfic on the web in search of its infrequent gems. I'm not linking to it because I try to keep my blog family-friendly, but some parts make me laugh out loud.
What does this have to do with misspellings ? Well, perhaps the most brilliant idea in the fic is the concept of ..the mini-balrog. These critters kept things running at the school, and they simply appear out nowhere whenever somebody misspells a Tolkien-related word in a fanfic or a fanfic comment. The author uses only real misspellings found in posted work. I can recommend Miss Cam's (Ever-Growing) List O'Mini-Balrogs wholeheartedly. Some of them are, well, amazing. ("Phrodo" ? "Yowyn" ? And best of all..."Treebread" ! )
Oh, dear....
Tolkien mentions are multiplying in the Blogosphere. For example there's this post , and this one which actually links to my blog as well. I should be happy about this, and I am. But there is one thing in these two posts which makes me less than thrilled...messed up Tolkienean spelling.
The first says "For you Tolkien fans, this is like worshiping a Valor instead of Illuvatar who created them! " The group of beings referred to are, collectively, the Valar, not the Valor. The singular form is "Vala". The Elven name for God is Ilúvatar, "All-father".
The second commits the granddaddy of all Tolkienean errors....'Tolkein'. This one was a problem for the Professor himself in his lifetime.
"My name is TOLKIEN (not -kein). It is a German name (from Saxony), an anglicization of Tollkiehn, i.e. tollkühn. But, except as a guide to spelling, this fact is as fallacious as all facts are in the raw. For I am neither 'foolhardy' (ed. the meaning of tollkühn) nor German, whatever some remote ancestors may have been. They migrated to England more than 200 years ago...." - J.R.R. Tolkien to his American publisher, 1955
"My surname is now usually misspelt TOLKEIN in spite of all my efforts to correct this-even by my college-, bank-, and lawyer's clerks !" - J.R.R. Tolkien to Graham Tayar, June 5, 1971
(Both quotes are from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien ed. Humphrey Carpenter.)
I know, I'm turning into the Nihil Obstat of Arda here......

I thought this was cute...
Jeff Miller sent me this e-mail about my blog title.....
" I was wondering what your title meant.
I am also a admirer of the rat. In my latter high school days my brother and I both kept rats as pets.
They were fun and freaked other people out until they got used to them. In my early Navy days I also had a rat which I had painted it's tail red, white, and blue. I was quite patriRATic. "........

Sunday, December 15, 2002

If it were not Sunday,
today would be the date of commemoration of Blessed Antony Grassi, of the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Fermo, a beatus for whom I have an especial fondness. Unfortunately, I don't see much about him in English on the Internet. So I will post a little on him here.
Antony Grassi lived in Fermo in what is now Italy, in the 17th century. As a young boy, he met Fr. Flaminio Ricci, who had been a disciple of St. Philip himself, and joined the Oratory at Fermo at the age of seventeen. While he suffered from scruples as a seminarian, he overcame this with the help of the Lord and his community. He became known for his amazing serenity, and several people testified that they had never seen him annoyed, let alone angry. (Oh brother, do I need his intercession !)
Perhaps the most remarkable event of his life occurred when he was a young priest of 29. He went to the Holy House at Loreto, and while praying there he was, believe it or not, hit by lightning. When he first regained consciousness he was unable to move or speak, and once he could speak he, understandably, asked for the last sacraments, thinking that he would die soon. However, this did not happen, and after a few days he made a complete recovery. For the rest of his life, Antony constantly gave thanks to God for sparing his life in this spectacular fashion. (He gave some of his scorched clothing to the shrine as an ex voto, and made a pilgrimage to Loreto every year on the anniversary.)
He spent large amounts of time hearing confessions and visiting the sick and the dying. People with problems flocked to him, and he made time for them. Later, when riots broke out in Fermo over a food shortage, he attemped to mediate between the rioters and the government. Unfortunately, this was not successful, and Antony was nearly shot by someone in the mob of rioters.
In 1635, his community elected him Provost ( superior), and they continued to do so every three years for the rest of his life. He was known for both his insistence on following the Oratorian constitutions closely, and for his gentleness. When he was asked why he was not more severe, he stated that he did not know how, then remarked, "Is this the way ?" and proceeded to assume an air of mock pomposity and arrogance. He, like St. Philip, was less enthusiastic about physical penances than many devout people of his time. He said "Humbling the mind and will is more effective than a hair-shirt. "
In the last few years of his life, he had to stop preaching, as he could not make his listeners understand him. Then he realized that he was going deaf, which made his apostolate in the confessional at first difficult and finally impossible. However, even as an elderly man, he tried to keep and spread the joy of Christ. One of his last recorded acts was his reconciliation of two brothers who had been violently quarreling for years. Antony Grassi went to his reward in 1671. Due to various civil disturbances in Italy, his beatification did not happen until 1900.
The Third Sunday of Advent...Gaudete Semper !
Today is special to Oratorians, as it is a day in which the Scripture tells us to 'rejoice always'...which St. Philip did so very well and his sons and daughters strive, stumblingly, to do also.
Fr. Joseph was the celebrant. What I remember most about the homily was his statement that true joy comes "not from papering over our sins, but from repenting of them and receiving the joy of the Lord."
Music for noon Mass
Processional Hymn: "Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying"
Offertory: "Creator alme siderum"- Gregorian Chant
Communion: "Dicite Pusillanimes" - Johann Joseph Fux- (1660-1741)
Recessional Hymn: "Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates"

The Offertory was especially nice . We chanted all six verses, with certain variations on them. (The first verse was sung by the men only, the second by all, the third by women only, the fourth by all, the fifth by all, but with the basses and altos dropping down so that we were singing parallel fifths, and the sixth by all. )
A big thank you
to all the folks who sent repsonses to my plea for technical assistance . I received mail from dylan , Mr. Riddle, Mr. Miller, and Mr. Esguerra . Showing me how to put in these characters this is a big help, especially because I like my quotes in Elvish to be accurate, and these characters are necessary for that. For example, my 'online name' is Nârwen, not Narwen. The two have different meanings,"Rat-maiden" and "Fire-maiden" respectively. The blog is Quenta Nârwenion , the 'story of the Rat-maiden' as the tale of the Great Jewels, or silmarilli, is the Quenta Silmarillion .