Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Five People Who Should Be Made Saints

1. J.R.R. Tolkien. You can make his wife and his mom saints, too. And probably his son the priest who just died. A family package!

2. Blessed Vilmos Apor, baron and Bishop of Gyor. Made bishop in 1941, he did his best to defend not only his own flock but all Gyor's people from Nazi laws. When the town was bombed, he went out to succor the wounded. When people were left homeless, he gave them his episcopal palace to live in. When the Soviets invaded in turn, he spoke out for his townspeople once more. And when a bunch of Russian soldiers came to his palace and demanded women, he told them to get out. They gut-shot him, then ran away in fright. The bishop died on Easter Monday, 1945.

3. G.K. Chesterton, of course! Give him a really wide holy card!

4. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Because she was a quiet person who nevertheless would not be cowed in following God's will. (And it's Gah-deh-lee Deh-gah-quee-tah.)

5. R.A. Lafferty and "Anthony Boucher" (William White). Saintly science fiction writer and saintly founding editor of the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy/gourmet cook/Opera News reviewer. Again, think of the opportunity for holy card illustrations! Here's Lafferty's haunting story "Land of the Great Horses" and another one best described by its title, "Nine Hundred Grandmothers". Here is a page of obituaries, in which John Clute said, "....his Roman Catholicism governed not only the surface of his work, but its deep structure as well." Anthony Boucher isn't represented as well online, but here's "They Bite".

Friday, February 21, 2003

The True Identity of St. Blog

Those who read St. Blog's Confidential by The Curt Jester may have noticed a post claiming that St. Blog was in reality a St. Blagoje. While I hesitate to argue with Shawn O'Neal, I'm surprised to see that he doesn't realize that St. Blog is an Irishwoman.

St. Blath of Kildare (January 29) was the laysister who cooked for the community of St. Brigid of Kildare. Her name means "flower". It is pronounced "blah". The usual form of this name in Ireland, however, is "Blathnat" or "little flower" (other forms: Blathnet, Blaithnait, Blaithnaid, Blathnaid, Blanaid, Blanid, etc.), and she is called by this name in a tale of St. Brigid collected by Lady Gregory:

The Seven Bishops came to her in a place she had in the north of Kildare, and she asked her cook Blathnet had
she any food, and she said she had not. And Brigit was ashamed, being as she was without food before those
holy men, and she prayed hard to the Lord. Then angels came and bade her to milk the cows for the third time
that day. So she milked them herself, and they filled the pails with the milk, and the whole of Leinster. And the
milk overflowed the vessels till it made a lake that is called the Lake of Milk to this day.

The city of Kildare became known as a place of learning (since St. Brigid attracted scholars), poetry and music (since Brigid had many poets and bards as followers), and great craftsmanship (there was a school of metalwork, teaching craftsmen to adorn the books made in the scriptorium). But because of St. Brigid's generosity and St. Blath's cookery, Kildare also had a tradition of "plentiful diversity of banquets". (From the end of the section from a source of 1625).

Anyway, St. Blath's fame, like Brigid's, must have spread across the sea to Wales. The Welsh version (Cymricization?) of Blathnat was "Blaguryn", blossom. The barbarous English cut off the end and simply called her St. Blog. Meanwhile, in Wales, many devout laypeople began following the example of St. Blaguryn. They called themselves "blagur" (the plural form of "blaguryn"). English devotees of course anglicized the term and called themselves "blagurs" or "bloggers". (Her French followers called her "Ste. Blague", of course....)

All parishioners of St. Blog should keep their patroness in mind at all times. I recommend using the ancient form "Blath, Blath, Blath, pray for us."

Meme Warning

I don't want to get killed by Heather Rose Jones for spreading false medieval onomastic information. Sooooo...everything I said about "St. Blaguryn" being celebrated in Wales and so forth is a big fat lie. Although "blagur" is the plural form of "blaguryn". Also, there's apparently an Advent program for kids in Wales called "Blaguryn o Gyff Jesse", which is the Welsh translation of the English title, "A Shoot from the Stem of Jesse". It's not a very literal translation, apparently, since it seems to refer to the second part of that verse of Isaiah: "and from Jesse's root a bud shall blossom". But this may be more misinformation, since I don't speak Welsh and just go by the dictionaries, and I can't find "root" anywhere.

Solas Bhride

Here's a page on Kildare as it was before the English and the Reformation. This next page is a pagan site but it has information about some nuns who've set up a convent in Kildare and are trying to revive some of the old traditions of St. Brigid's foundation. (There's also a nice picture at the top of the page of the foundations of the house where the fire was once kept -- on the grounds of the cathedral -- which I've never seen before.) This other pagan page has a nice picture of part of the nuns' garden, if you scroll down. Here's a Brigidine page about Solas Bhride, which paradoxically is less informative! It looks like the nuns are trying to draw pagans and New Age folks back to the Church as well as doing more normal stuff. Here's a short report on their activities, and here's a long interview with Sr. Mary Minehan. She seems to be doing a pretty good job of promoting Celtic spirituality without straying into what is not Catholic. I also found a prayer the nuns have been circulating that popped up on several pagan sites! (Sometimes with Catholic stuff hacked out and pagan stuff stuck in, alas. But not always, which is a start.) Those nuns must be working hard. Here's the prayer:

Brigid, you were a woman of peace.

You brought harmony where there was conflict. You brought light into the darkness. You brought hope to the downcast.

May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious,

and may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our world.

Inspire us to act justly and reverence all God has made.

Brigid, you were a voice for the wounded and the weary.

Strengthen what is weak within us. Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens.

May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit.


Incidentally, here's a history of the Brigidine sisters.

The Other Blathnat

St. Blath/Blathnat the cook should not be confused with Blathnat, the daughter of Midhir and sister of Angus Og. She either helped Cu Chulainn of Ulster and Cu Roi of Munster rob her father's mound, or was carried off against her will. Cu Roi (who was both a great warrior and had magic powers) disliked Cu Chulainn's division of the spoils and ran off with Blathnat, forcing her to become his wife. Cu Chulainn showed up at Caherconree to get revenge; Blathnat helped by tying Cu Roi to his bed by the hair, stealing Cu Roi's sword (the only thing that could kill him), and then signaling Cu Roi's helplessness by pouring milk into a stream, turning it white for a while. Then Cu Roi's bard avenged his master by throwing himself at Blathnat as she stood on the wall of the fortress. They both fell into the river and drowned. (Personally, I'm suspicious. If you were a fairy woman who'd had that much trouble, wouldn't you fake your death, turn into a salmon and swim away?) Here's another version of the story.

Fire in Rhode Island Nightclub

You can read the story and updates at the local newspaper, The Providence Journal (registration required) or WLNE, Rhode Island (many stories, including phone numbers to call for information about missing loved ones). This is such a terrible thing. My condolences to the families who lost loved ones, and my best wishes for the recovery of those with burns or smoke inhalation. My prayers are with everyone involved today.

I was never a fan of Great White, but...I could have been. Those people going to see an old eighties band were my age, and their grieving parents are my parents' age. *sigh* But I still can't believe people were stupid enough to run a nightclub so far out of code (it burned up in two minutes? I can't get campfires to burn that fast!) or to run fireworks on stage with only yea-much room between them and the ceiling. The guitarist for the band is still missing. What a terrible way to pay for your mistakes...but fire is unforgiving.

I found this prayer on, and it seems appropriate. It's by St. Augustine.

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and give Your angels and saints charge over those who sleep.

Tend Your sick ones, O Lord Christ.

Rest Your weary ones.

Bless Your dying ones.

Soothe Your suffering ones.

Pity Your afflicted ones.

Shield Your joyous ones, and all for Your love's sake. Amen.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

My First Gray Hair

And my second, too.

I'm not really sad. Just...finding it a bit odd, since I'm only 32 and a half. I knew this album project was worrying me, but I didn't know it was turning my hair white!

Blue Mass

This year was the first time I'd ever heard of the Red Mass for lawyers, judges and politicians. Tonight's news said there was a Blue Mass tonight in Englewood. Apparently the Knights of Columbus sponsor a memorial Mass every year for police, firefighters and emergency personnel who die in the line of duty. So I Googled around. In Newark, they apparently also have a "White Mass" for hospital and medical personnel. I think that's really nice, don't you?

Boy, you learn something every day. Even when you're an old lady like me. ;)

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Death of a Great Lady

Yesterday Virginia Kettering passed away, right over the hill from me at Kettering Hospital. It was the end of an era. She was the last steward of the turn-of-the-century Dayton rich, who made their money from inventions and spent it on their community, and taught their children to do the same. When her husband Eugene Kettering died, she became the major heir of "Boss Ket", the man who invented the automobile's self-starter. But she made her own name as a philanthropist, a leader, and an art collector. She was a woman who could have done nothing with her life, but instead made herself into an executive who was both tough and good, and led others to do likewise.

Here she is in life: a gallery of photos of her.

News coverage included "Virginia Kettering dead at 95",
"Dayton lucky to have had Mrs. Kettering", a timeline of her life, elegies, and a list of Kettering family contributions to the area All this is from the Dayton Daily News, which headlined the story of her death on the front page.

I've said she was a great art collector, and I'll say it again. But she wanted other people to see what she collected. When you go to Kettering Memorial Hospital's waiting room, there's a priceless Chinese screen up on the wall behind the seating area. It's covered in glass and has all the thermostat protection you could ask for, but there it is, perfect serenity an inch away from screaming toddlers and worried relatives. She bought enough textiles from different countries that the Dayton Art Institute has to run an endlessly rotating exhibit to get any kind of use out of them all. She bought and gave, bought and gave. That was her way.

Here are a couple of things she gave to the DAI. (You can't search the search engine by donor, so this is what I found quickly.): a Koryo dynasty wine bottle from Korea and a menuki of the Rabbit in the moon.

Here are links to a few of the things she helped fund:The US Air Force Museum, Wright State University, The Dayton Art Institute, Kettering Tower (another picture), Dayton Holiday Festival, SunWatch Indian Village (interpretation center), Victoria Theatre (restoration), Carillon Park, The University of Dayton, and Kettering Memorial Hospital and its sister hospitals.

She will be laid to rest beside her husband in Dayton's Woodlawn Cemetery, where rest the Wright Brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar and many other of Dayton's greatest children. She will have a gravestone there, no doubt.

But if you seek her monument, go to Dayton and look around you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

The Hazards of Going Out to Eat

Eat at a restaurant, have your credit card information stolen. Bear in mind while reading this story that we don't even have Bloomingdale's or Macy's around here. I think the moral of the story is "Only use your credit card on the Internet".

Don't Say the Star Wars Defense Program Never Gave You Anything

Adaptive optics, created to see through clouds for astronomers and developed in the Star Wars program, will now be used in eye operations to let surgeons see what's up with the retina underneath all the rest of the goo in the eye.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Because It's WRONG!

Glenn Reynolds said this story made him ashamed to be from Tennessee. Heck, this story makes me feel ashamed to be human. And these people dare call themselves Christians?

It's not often that I hope somebody will make a lot of money off a lawsuit. This is an exception.

India Tracy came to expect being sent to the principal's office even
though she was a well-behaved, straight-A student.

But the Union County youngster knew she'd probably be the only
student with "no" written on the permission slip to attend a tent revival
during school hours. When she declined to portray Mary in a
Christmas play, she also was sent to the principal's office.

India and her parents, Greg and Sarajane Tracy, allege other students
taunted her, beat her and ridiculed her religion for years. Fed up with
the treatment, her parents filed a federal lawsuit on her behalf

"And whatever you do to the least of my brothers...."

Justified and Not So Ancient

This has been the kind of day that seems to justify my existence. I started a bit slow -- I was still asleep at 7:15 this morning when my boss called to tell me that we weren't supposed to come into work until 10 AM. But sleeping in did me good. I woke up a bit slowly (my apartment's temperature was down to 62 or less), but I finally rolled out. I traversed the nearly-trackless wastes behind my apartment building and the unplowed parking lots. I stood aside to let a truck pass along one of the office complex's lanes, only to see the gentleman getting out at Goodyear. He told me he would've given me a lift if he'd known we were going to the same place! But I went on and further on, only to find a truck stalled (and facing backwards) at the bottom of the hill right before work. So I helped push, as did a black gentleman, and finally we got the guy dug out. That's how we get through winter around here.

We're going through something colder than winter, right now, with more malevolent foes than snow. But working together will get us through that, too.

So I got a lot done at work, came home, and found the apartment temperature was 64 degrees. Now it's up to 67, so I guess those repairmen really did come today. I went to the store on the corner and picked up some milk, orange juice, and tissues. (I didn't have tissues all weekend, and it was driving me crazy. Especially since the store on the corner was closed due to the storm.) I watched Mass on EWTN, which made me feel a bit better. (Wish I'd thought of that yesterday.) I got asked to join a prayer list for a friend (of course I said yes; I was praying for the lady already). I caught up a bit on my website, ate a good dinner, and generally feel pretty good for a Monday. Tomorrow I'll wake up and get to play in the snow some more!

My Single Qualm about Latin Masses

About that EWTN Mass...I did find the sudden discursions into Latin a bit surprising, especially since they weren't just the catchphrases I know. Nothing like trying to translate chanted Latin in your head in real time when you don't know all the vocabulary, even. (Caesar was not talking about the same stuff the Mass does.) Spanish Mass is a lot easier to follow, believe me. But it is still the same Mass, so even if I don't know what they're saying exactly I do know what they should be saying at that point. So I probably shouldn't stress so much about it.


*pant pant pant*

And why don't they at least run Latin subtitles at the bottom of the screen? I can translate stuff I see a lot faster.... Well, okay, that is a bit visually tacky. But it's not like they make Missals anymore...or at least, I've never seen a new one that had Latin stuff in it.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Official St. Blog's Wimp

I didn't go to Mass today. I didn't go to Mass yesterday, either! In fact, my parents called me up to make sure I wasn't going to Mass. It's a half-hour walk to church in the best weather, and I'm sick, and it's snowing. Don't go, they said. I won't, I said.

Then they called this afternoon to ask me when I was going to Mass, even though it's still cold and snowing. Honestly, you can't win.

I almost wish I had gone. It would have been a long cold walk, but church would've been warmer than here. My radiator is once again starting to break down. Yesterday it wouldn't budge above 66 degrees Fahrenheit; this morning it was down to 62. By turning on my sunlight lamp and my hot hall light, I managed to raise the temperature in here to 64. But I've still had cold hands all day.

Mostly, though, I just feel spiritually hungry. I didn't take Communion last weekend because I was cantoring the 8 AM and couldn't fast that morning and still sing or walk up the hill. (I was sick last weekend, too. Walking up and back was a big reason why I'm still sick now. Yes, I'm stupid. It was also stupid for me to let my wallet get stolen yesterday, so I only had enough busfare to get home and had to stay downtown in the cold till it was time for the Celtic concert -- and thank God the tickets weren't stolen too.) It's bad enough to have problems with low blood sugar. But now I feel like I've got low blood sugar in my soul, and there's another hard week at work ahead of me. But I feel so sick and cold....

And speaking of low blood sugar, I really don't look forward to Lent. I used to find fasting very helpful and spiritual, but now it's just a big pain in the butt. I either have to eat more than normal so that I'll be able to skip two meals (while wondering how stuffing myself constitutes any form of fasting), or just skip fasting and feel like a total wimp. Also, I'm always forgetting it's Wednesday or Friday and eating meat by mistake. *sigh* These things never seem to trouble the hardy lot at St. Blog's, who drive their SUVs through the snow and fast every Friday and Ember Days too. But I am a wimp, and I know that if I fast unwarily, I'll be having crying jags and suicidal thoughts and be no good to anyone. I guess I'll have to fast from the Internet instead. *grimace*