Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Interesting Catholic poetry site

The good news is that Tiempo de Poesia has lots of Catholic poetry. The bad news is it's all in Spanish! Hee!

However, there's also a very useful section called Marian Spain, which consists of pictures of all the famous Mary statues from cities in Spain and its former colonies. If you've ever wondered why a girl was named Candelaria, Pilar, Luz, Soledad, or Montserrat, this is a good resource for you. Once you know the name to look for, you can Google up the various famous churches and stories for yourself.

La Divina Peregrina is pretty neat. Check our Our Lady's pilgrim scrip, hat with a Compostela cockleshell, and walking stick with water gourd attached.

One thing you'll notice is the huge robes and decorations worn by many of these statues. These often cover up almost entirely the original statues, many of which date back to medieval or even Gothic times. The difference between the statue with and without robes can be substantial! Dressing the statue every year is often an occasion for a big city-wide festival.

This picture of Our Lady of the Abandoned shows the beautiful faces of mother and Child. Unfortunately, you can't see the two "Desamparados", abandoned children, who are kneeling at Mary's feet inside the protective circle of her robes. Here's what the statue looks like without robes.

Here's a Desamparats float for Valencia's festival! And here's the float right outside Valencia's cathedral. (Beautiful window, huh?)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

St. Patrick's Purgatory

Now here's some authentic Celtic spirituality for ya! St. Patrick's Purgatory, where you get to pray and repent for a night and a day while walking barefoot for hours on cold hard stones, doing a near-total fast, and trying desperately to stay awake while standing around underground on a chilly damp stone floor. Sometimes all weekend. Yes, it's St. Patrick's Purgatory! And here's some cheery Celtic thoughts by a medieval pilgrim. Clearly a hard case. I know I'd've been crying from sheer tiredness and hunger, but the medievals were stronger stuff....

If you scroll down, Chamber's Book of Days gives a fairly good (if hostile) account of the history of the pilgrimage, along with a description of conditions there in his time.

But why read about the legend of the island? Read Sir Owain, a medieval English verse romance on the theme! Starring St. Patrick, of course, but introducing Sir Owain, a repentant knight who has a vision of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.

Here's a little slice of Hell for all us bloggers!

And sum in forneise wern ydon,
And some in a furnace were put in
With molten ledde and quic brunston
With molten lead and acid brimstone
Boiland above the fer,
Boiling above the fire;
And sum bi the tong hing,
And some by the tongue hanging;
"Allas!" was ever her brocking,
"Alas!" was ever their crying,
And no nother preiere.
And no other prayer.

And sum on grediris layen there,
And some were on the gridiron laying there
Al glowand ogains the fer,
All glowing against the fire
That Owain wele yknewe,
Whom Owain well knew:
That whilom were of his queyntaunce,
Who once were of his acquaintance
That suffred ther her penaunce:
Who suffered there their penance:
Tho chaunged al his hewe!
Those made his face change hue!


And tho that henge bi the tong,
And those that hung by the tongue
That "Allas!" ever song,
Who "Alas!" ever sung
And so loude crid,
And so loudly cried --
That wer bacbiters in her live:
Those were backbiters in their lives.
Bewar therbi, man and wive,
Thereby beware, man and woman,
That lef beth for to chide.
Who are lief to chide.

We also get the bridge to Paradise, which works perfectly fine with modern spelling.

The bridge was as high as a tower,
And as sharp as a razor,
And narrow it was also;
And the water that there ran under
Burned with lightning and with thunder.
Those he thought mickle woe.

But he gets across and sees the gate into Eden:

Furthermore he 'gan to see
A gate, none fairer might be
In this world a-wrought;
Tree nor steel was thereon none,
But red gold and precious stone,
And all God made of nought:

Jaspers, topaz, and crystal,
Marguerites and coral,
And rich sapphire-stones,
Rubies and celadones,
Onyxes and chalcedones,
And diamonds for the nones.


By as much as our Savior
Is quainter than goldsmith or painter,
That lives in any land,
So far the gates of Paradise
Are richer wrought, I truly know,
As you may understand.

There's a lot more nifty stuff here. Enjoy.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Night Watch Newswatch

Fox Searchlight's Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor) website put additional content up last week and a game called The Hunt up over the weekend. The attention seems to have killed their server tonight, so try this URL instead.

On Sunday, I tried to join as a "Light Other", but ended up as a Witch of the Dark. (Which is only slightly less annoying than being a Vampire. I console myself with the thought that I'm really a Ved'ma and not your ordinary witch.)

It's a fairly simplistic game at the moment. I amassed a ton of points in a very short time (650 or so), mostly by exploring the website and cursing Light players. You have to get 500 points as a Light player and 750 points as a Dark player to become members of your respective Watches. Until then, you can lose points by being cursed or bitten (if you're of the Light) or arrested (if you're of the Dark), so it doesn't behoove you to spend much time logged on in the game. Everyone can earn points from the website, from posting in the forum, or from getting their friends to sign up. You have to have at least 1000 points to be eligible for the prize drawing in August, and IIRC, you need 10,000 points to be eligible for the grand prize of a trip to Russia. So it's pretty much the marketing version of a pyramid scheme; but at least it's a fun pyramid scheme.

If you'd like to see the trailer for Nochnoi Dozor 2, it's on

Filk: Chant in Latin

Chant in Latin
Words: Maureen S. O'Brien, 5/9/05
Music: to the tune of "Black Widows in the Privy", Heather Rose Jones

Everyone knows some hymn
we'd be better off without;
We'd best not say what's lame.
OCP might be about.
But why commit your budget,
and risk your range's strain,
When a little chant in Latin
is all public domain?

There's chant CDs, and chant bands,
and ads chant on TV.
A Cath'lic church 'sthe only place
where chant you seldom see.
But since the zeitgeist's dumped those
old folk and Broadway songs,
Why not try chant in Latin,
that's lasted for so long?

Yeah, Huron's good, and Spanish;
Hawaiian is the best.
It's only Greek and Latin
that diversity won't test.
But when your parish speaks tongues
as many as attend,
You all could chant in Latin,
and no group you'll offend.

So if you want to praise our God
in songs like liquid light,
Go learn the style of worship that's
your heritage and right.
The repertoire is meaty
and deeper than a well;
And a little chant in Latin
says more than I can tell.