Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Public Exorcism, your Excellency!

It's quite amazing to read that a bishop in the Real World has performed a public exorcism, as reported by Father Zuhlsdorf.

You might wish to compare this with episodes like this and especially this and this.

Clearly we need to pray for our bishops, who ought to defend Truth as this one has done - and for all of us who are constantly beset by our powerful adversaries. We must also reassure each other, as Bernie did, that "we have allies who are far more powerful" than our enemies.

We us start, as our heroes, with the appropriate antiphon:
Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
Qui fecit caelum et terram.

Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Who made heaven and earth.

(All Field Agents know what to do when the Dean rings the bells...)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

About the College

Tiffany at Life of a Catholic Librarian has posted a "linkup" appeal, so I will add my own 2 bits. (Tech humor)

She asks several questions:

(1) How you got started in social media; (2) How you started your blog or podcast
I answer: I am a computer scientist and a Chestertonian, and it was through Nancy Brown at Flying Stars back in 2005; she's a Chestertonian and the great biographer of Frances Blogg, who was of course Chesterton's Favourite Blogg. Since 2005 I have sporadically posted comments there, or elsewhere, and have also written a periodic column on the old blogg of the American Chesterton Society. More recently I have been busy with writing the Saga, as mentioned here or on its own site,; a new series called "Case Studies in Computer Science" is about to be launched. One of my readers remarked that he had never read a book on such a technical matter which quoted Chesterton so often... so you may know what to expect. But it is a tech book, NOT a meditation; it also has a good deal on pedagogy and related matters. (I hope to have it ready in the near future.)

(3) Why you value our online Catholic community
One of the major mysteries in my Saga De Bellis Stellarum is a curious organization called the College. Now, as you may already know from Chesterton (ILN Aug 10 1907, CW27:523-8) there are three reasons why secrecy is permitted, and the first of these is the most famous, governing mystery stories and wrapped Christmas Presents: these secrets are kept solely in order that they may be revealed at the proper time; what we know as "the fullness of time". Anyone who violates this secrecy deserves the most severe punishment:

The man who tells the truth about a detective story is simply a wicked man, as wicked as the man who deliberately breaks a child's soap-bubble - and he is more wicked than Nero. To give away a secret when it should be kept is the worst of human crimes; and Dante was never more right than when he made the lowest circle in Hell the Circle of the Traitors. It is to destroy one human pleasure so that it can never be recovered...
[GKC ILN Nov 7 1908, CW28:210]
Hence, while I truly want to tell you more, I can only point to the Saga, and say, "The online Catholic community is valued by me because it is so much like the College." But since that is very self-serving, I will say it another way.

The Catholic online community - indeed every online community when it is well-ordered, honest and charitable and striving to be virtuous - provides a slight faint foretaste of the Communion of Saints, of that "great multitude, dressed in white, which no one could count" that St. John saw, and asked about. It would take me a dozen pages to discuss this at length; issues of things like the various networking protocols, the mysteries of communication between humans - and between angels! - things like how a woman of Nazareth manages to handle thousands of concurrent input requests in dozens of languages, some of which didn't even exist when she was alive... all this and more.

But especially since it helps demonstrate Subsidiarity: the idea that this marvel provides us with a way of transmitting an appeal for PRAYER to more people, in a faster and more wide-spread way, than has ever existed before! It is, as the great Marconi said when he introduced the Pope on the Vatican radio station, the idea that with this technical marvel God has provided the faithful with the comfort of hearing the voice of the Holy Father, wherever they may be.

The same is now true for us, in a lesser degree. We have colleagues who are as close as e-mail. (Or, supply your favourite electronic extension here.) By the very nature of the hierarchy of the Church, every single Catholic is related to every other single Catholic through no more than five other persons... and such a tool helps us relate in more direct ways, with greater convenience for all concerned.

Let us, therefore, as professed Field Agents of the College, sworn to "Watch and Pray" [see Mark 14:38] remember each other frequently in our prayers: we must face such enemies in our daily lives! But as Bernie Brown remarked:

We have allies who are more than a match for our adversaries.
[PJF Ite Milites Audaces]

Friday, August 30, 2013

What to do when "The Enemy is at large..."

Maybe due to the recent trio of feasts - St. Monica, St. Augustine, and the Passion of St. John Baptist - I was thinking about the Battle... you know, the one GKC warned about in his very last words: "It is between light and darkness and every one must choose his side." [Ward, Gilbert Keith Chesterton 650]

And so I thought I ought to post this so you will know what goes on when bad things happen in the Saga. (I hope you catch the Augustinian reference, hee hee) I think it wise for us to keep for reference when bad things happen in our cosmos, since it's really the same cosmos, you know, and as Bernie remarks, "We have allies who are more than a match for our adversaries."

Hence, we must be ready to go into action ourselves, since we also are Warriors. Huh? You say you are waiting for an invitation to join the College? Don't be absurd - you are already belong. (At least as a trainee; I dare not say any more here.) Like Uncle and Auntie, you are a Field Agent, and have the same tools as your disposal as they do. So get busy!

In St. Michael’s Orphanage, Father Bondost gathered the boys and had them pray in the chapel while he made some phone calls. First he called the monastery in Altiora and talked to the diocesan exorcist. Then he called his old friend C. B. Cardinal Tallisen in New York... and from these two points, ripples propagated over both very ancient and very modern networks of communication: The Enemy is at large, the Warriors are mustered.

And so, in certain far-flung places, behind high and thick and near-impenetrable walls, a tiny host of Amazons were marshalled and went into action. Few they were in number, many were no longer young, and most were weak physically, yet they were mighty in spirit and especially in prayer: like their foundress, they had chosen the better part, no less able to confront their Enemy for their seclusion than any others... indeed, perhaps more able, since they were far more single-minded in their discipline, and far less distracted than those who lived beyond their walls.

And in a tiny chapel in New York, a group of men gathered while the eldest among them put on the garb of an ancient Roman, including the stole of authority and the maniple of a servant. Then, now clad in what he called his “Altar-ego,” the Pontifex offered the One Sacrifice...

[PJF Ite Milites Audaces]

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Today: Sunday, August 25, 2013

Yes, the calendar of the Real World has caught up to the Saga... and we now embark on the same journey as our young friends from Quayment...

But finally, the day of transition came. Sunday, August 25, Bernie and Marty went to Mass at St. Ambrose’s up at the top of the north hill. They went with their parents for brunch at Shelly’s. After that, they loaded their gear into the old station wagon Bernie had gotten earlier that summer, and they set off on their four-hour drive north, into Pennsylvania, to the little mountainous town called Stirling, the home of Howell College.


                They parked behind the dorm and carted their things up to their room. They peered around the place curiously. It was a suite for three: a large central workroom with three desks, three chairs, and three comfy chairs by the windows. Open doors led to two smaller bedrooms with doorless clothes closets and chests of drawers: one room, slightly larger, had bunks, the other had a single bed. Obviously, the third person had not yet arrived.

                “I don’t see why we shouldn’t take the bunks,” Marty said. “I’d like the top, if you don’t mind.”

                “Sure, that’s fine. I wonder what our roommate will be like.”

                “We’ll find out soon enough, I guess. But let’s get moved in, then we can go get some dinner.”


                “And the first thing after that is to check out the chapel. Remember what Dr. Grosjean told us?”

                “Oh yeah... It’s open round the clock... the founder wrote it into the college charter that the students were always to have access to the best possible means of assistance...

                “Exactly. I guess it’s not Catholic, but they have Mass there, and it will be a good quiet place. We’ll need it.”

                “Oh yeah.”

[PJF Three Things Which Go Well]

Friday, August 9, 2013

New: Introduction to Heraldry For Chestertonians!

Due to overwhelming demand at the presentation on Heraldry at the just-concluded 2013 ACS conference, I am pleased to announce, as promised, a short introduction to Heraldry.


Please inform me if you wish any augmentation or further details. At some point I will try to devise a glossary, but not just now.  And be sure to check out the various coats of arms for the Saga, which are elswhere on that site...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Modern Knighthood (and the Worse Dragons)

A sample for your contemplation...

                Other than the presence of a cardinal and a bishop – and the youth of the deceased – there was little out of the ordinary about the funeral Mass. The cardinal had selected the usual scripture readings, but to the surprise of many his gospel selection was the healing of the centurion’s servant: “For I also am a man subject to authority...”[Mt 8:9] And, as perhaps only Father Bondost might have expected, his homily was surprising too:

                “Many of you will be wondering about all these men in robes, with swords at their sides – older men, mostly. Or about these young men with swords... men you may have already encountered here in Stirling, and you knew they were bold young men, ready and willing to do the hard jobs, to defend the defenseless and protect the innocent, to help in unusual circumstances. It may sound like some sort of exaggeration to call them modern Knights, especially since knights get some bad press in these decadent ages – but they really are Knights. Don’t go by the fantasy stories and movies – don’t expect to see them jousting on horseback.... but when dragons come to destroy, they will be in the forefront of battle. Dragons! You scoff. Maybe not the fire-breathing lizards of mythology, but these dragons are worse, for they are the kind which lurk in human disguise. Yes: they are Knights, not because they ride horses, wear armor, or have swords, but because they are men sworn to virtue.

                “And this young man...  put his own life at the service of virtue – and by divine providence, while he still breathed, one of these knights bestowed the dignity of knighthood on him... who died in defending a young girl from deadly force.

                “This is not the time or place to describe the formalities of knighthood. But there is another sort of knighthood – a sort which is not beyond the reach of anyone, male or female, old or young, strong and hearty or weak and disabled. It is the sort of knighthood to which our centurion alludes.

                “It’s a marvellous story, you know: the singular case in the gospels where someone had the audacity to preach a parable to Jesus! Think about it: this soldier gives quite a perfect little analogy about how obedience works, and very humbly appeals to Authority for assistance. The scholastics of the Middle Ages would cheer this most elegant intellectual presentation; the Popes of modern times would applaud the succinct application of the great principle of Subsidiarity. But there’s more.

                “The centurion did not expect Jesus to ‘join up’ in the Roman military. In fact, he hardly knew what to expect of Christ in the way of action. Certainly he didn’t expect to get that unique commendation ‘Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel.’ Our own case is similar: This daring young man was trying to do what he understood as the knightly thing: to safeguard that young lady from danger. He didn’t expect to suffer... nor did he expect to receive that unique commendation of knighthood.

                “All too often we come to our worship as we come to any of our ordinary duties, not knowing what we might expect. Certainly we don’t expect to run the risks this young man ran – nor do we come as the centurion, expecting assistance from Authority. But we do run risks... we need to recall what Chesterton said: The most dangerous thing in the world is to be alive; one is always in danger of one’s life. [GKC The Apostle and the Wild Ducks 165] We are always running risks, even in the safest and sanest occupations. But if we understand what the centurion understood: that there is one with Authority, Whose commands compel obedience – then we also know that utterly unexpected answers, marvellous answers, amazing results can come from such risks. We do not need to swear in our own blood to defend virtue. We are already obliged to live virtuously, as good Christians, as good citizens, as men and women who expect to live as good neighbors in our little towns... for this vast planet, nay, not even the planets of the entire universe, would be big enough for us to live together unless we are willing to live by virtue. Let us then proceed with our duties, and remember how the centurion phrases his request: ‘I am not worthy... but only say the word...’ May God make us worthy to live – and to die – as this young man did.”

[PJF Et In Luna Pax]

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Petro-Pauline Novena (June 29-Nones of July)

Jesus told us to "pray always"... (see Lk 18:1, repeated by St. Paul in 1 Thes. 5:17) – and every time of day, or of year, is a good time to pray.

But there are certain paradigmatic arrangements of dates where the very great, mystical, and symbolic numerical structure called the NOVENA (from the Greek for "nine") seems to be especially suited - such as the dates between Saint Ignatius of Loyola (July 31) and Saint Dominic (August 8). Another is the one which begins today, from the great Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul to the (old) feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius on the Nones of July. And though there is not a lot of prayer in most fiction, even most Catholic fiction, it is good to bring this most essential action continually to our attention.

For example, in that most wonderful story called The Miracle of the Bells (by Russell Janney) our hero William Dunnigan prays to someone he calls "St. Michael the Scrapper"... and if you haven't read it yet, you ought to make haste, it is quite splendid. And speaking of novenas, and in particular the one which starts today, you might enjoy this excerpt.

[Scene: Mark's room on the third floor of the Weaver home, the evening of June 28, 2008. Mark is struggling with – ah – let us say – his future.]

[Mark was getting ready for bed when] he heard a knock and his sister Mary’s voice, and he pulled on his robe.
 “Come in.”
 “You OK? You were so quiet for so long – I thought maybe you had fallen asleep with the light on.”
 “No... I was... uh... kinda lost in another world.”
 “Oh, I understand,” she smiled, and he stared at her curiously. “I wanted to talk...”
 He sat on his bed, his arms around his knees. “Sure. Have a chair.”
 She sat, her eyes downcast. “Mark, I’m still struggling... you think I’d have worked all this out long ago. But it’s getting hard.”
 “What do you mean? The idea of going into Carmel?”
 “Yes – well – no. The idea of saying good-bye to so many good things. Mom and Dad. You and your brothers. This house. The store. The town. The bay.” She chuckled, but with an odd tone in it. “Even that horrible siren on the roof.” Then she shook her head, her eyes beginning to well with tears. “Thy will be done, O Lord... It’s rough, being attacked like this, with just three weeks to go!”


 Mark stared, wondering. Could she know? Was the College behind all this? But he did what he had to do, even though he began to hear his own words being applied to himself: “Mary! Didn’t you tell us – isn’t it in the gospels, about seeking God’s will and gaining a hundred times more what you give up? Are you in love? Is Ted? Aren’t Mike and Joan in love? Aren’t Matt and Catherine in love?”
 “Yes, Mark... yes, I am in love. I want to do this. But this part of the world – this little town, our family and our home and our store – is lovely.”
 “Sure it is. That doesn’t stop when you go into Carmel. You add to it, not lose it!”
 “I know that,” she sniffed, pulling out a handkerchief and blowing her nose.
 Gently he said, “Look, Mary – I understand what you’re going through. I’m trying to make a decision about something too – something about the rest of my life.”
 She looked up, her eyes wide. “What do you mean?”
 “I don’t want to say just now, all right? It’s kinda hard to – well, kinda unconventional, perhaps...” Staffs and floating teatrays; ellipsoids and atomic brooms and duels; that huge, ornate cathedral, and the crucifix in Uncle’s room...  and miracles. “But definitely orthodox.”
 “Really?” Her whole face had changed, as the sky changes as the storm departs. “I’d love to hear more.”
 “Not just now. But here’s an idea. Let’s do a novena – I’ll do mine for you, you do yours for me.”
 “For what?”
 “That we’ll know what we’re to do. That we’ll be given a sign.”
 “A sign? It’s a faithless and evil generation that seeks a sign,” she quoted. [See Mt 12:39] 
 “We’re only asking for it, Mary, not seeking one. God can grant it or not; it’s up to Him. But in such a critical matter we ought to ask, in order to be sure that we are not making a mistake.”
 “That’s a good point, Mark. All right. We’ll start tomorrow, it’s saints Peter and Paul.”
 “Thanks, Mark. Good night.”
 “Good night – and thanks.”

[from The Psephy in the Dome. Note: don't bother trying to find a book of that title by any normal means, it will not avail. You will have to proceed into the Saga in the ordinary manner if you want to find it.]

Monday, June 17, 2013

Now Available: Part 13: Et In Luna Pax

Good news on the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

Announcing part 13, the "final" installment of the great Saga Se Bellis Stellarum:

Et In Luna Pax

which is subtitled "How the Pope Went to the Moon".

(There's really nothing I can add to explain further – you will have to read it to find out what that could possibly mean.)

The World of the Saga: Stirling, PA

Stirling, Pennsylvania. No, don't bother to try to find it with your favourite "Map" tool. Since I realized that when I set out to alter history (and create some new history) I might as well do the same with geography, and so I did. I am not a very good artist or draftsman, but eventually I will get a map done so you can see where things are, and then you will realize just how much of the Saga's Mid-Atlantic region is different from that of the "real" world. Though I left the Atlantic, and Philadelphia, and New York, and Wildwood NJ and Baltimore and Washington, D.C., most everything else is different, including rivers. But enough about the general background.

Stirling is in the Appalachians, maybe two hour drive west of New York City, and a two hour drive north from North Belloc, the sister-city of Harley; those two are about an hour west-and-north of Philadelphia. (If you need to have locations, you can think "Scranton" for Stirling, and "West Chester" for Harley/North Belloc, but there is NOTHING to compare as far as town layout or character.)

Stirling is on the eastern side of a mountain, above the Fitch River, which is there flowing south. The famous old Chandler Railroad comes into town, then crosses the valley and the river on the splendid Fisher Viaduct, a curving bridge of stone. (In many ways this resembles the Barentin Viaduct.) The railroad sends off a spur to Zincton on the hill opposite, then goes through a tunnel and curves northward again.

The town is well-known as the site of Howell College, founded in 1866 by Joseph Chandler. Its "Old Main" (properly called "Chandler Hall") is a large four-story building with attached chapel and a soaring tower which is readily spotted from almost anywhere in the valley. It offers a comprehensive collection of liberal arts degrees as well as most of the theoretical sciences (geology, chemistry, and astronomy are very popular here); one can obtain a degree in Engineering in association with either Franklin University (in Tallistown, not quite an hour west) or Collins University (two hours south), which also provides for pre-med and nursing.

The town is a typical small town of eastern Pennsylvania, formerly dominated by mining and metallurgical industries. Its main streets run north-and-south along the mountain; most businesses and town offices are along Main Street. Of particular note is Adirondack's Department Store, a chain in this part of the country. St. John's is the oldest Protestant church in town, and St. Ann's the single Catholic church. Though old, the Stirling Hospital is a modern facility serving the area.

There is a park below the town, along the banks of the Fitch. The hills around are the mixed "old-forest" pines and hardwoods of eastern Pennsylvania; a few tailings and other remnants of defunct mining works are visible, though a recent upswing in development has begun removal of the most objectionable tailings for reprocessing. Zinc and other metals are found in the area, and there had also been a coal mine, since closed.

Despite the dominance of mining, the soil is remarkably fertile in the area, and there are many farms lining the Fitch valley and its lesser tributaries. Howell College is the principal employer along with the Hospital. There are a variety of small businesses and trades, and small industries still served by the Chandler rail line; the town is on Route 100 and is not far north of the main east-west Interstate.

At one time the population had been significantly of Eastern European heritage, but there has been a steady mixing ever since World War II. There are two sub-populations which may be noted:
First, there is a sizeable Mexican/Spanish population living south of the downtown area, some of whom have been in the country for a long time, but preserving their dignity and cultural heritage; celebrating the Mañanitas at St. Ann's with a large parade through the town.
Also, the town is also the traditional home ground for the Allegan tribe, most of whom now live in small homes (sometimes considered mini-farms) just outside of the town limits. Most of the tribe has been Catholic for generations. The present Chief of the tribe is Michael Blackwing.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Does Father Zuhlsdorf Know about the Saga Yet?

Today I happened to take a look at the famous blogg called "What Does the Priest Really Say" (hee hee) and saw a discussion about Mass in Outer Space...

So of course I wondered whether Father had heard about the Saga.

Part 13 of the Saga, titled Et In Luna Pax is nearly ready, and there you will get to experience a very unusual liturgical event - yes, even more astounding than the liturgical event recounted in Part 12, Esto Miles Pacificus. But I don't want to spoil that for you.

All right – just one hint. The subtitle of part 13 is "How the Pope Went to the Moon".

Wanna take a guess at what Gregory XVII does there, on Friday January 13, 2017? Last time it happened was December 10, 1854. Before that it was November 18, 1626. (To my knowledge; there may have been other cases.)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

For the feast of St. Joseph...

Here is a thrilling little excerpt (no I won't explain where it fits, or what else it's connected to!) which I am posting to celebrate the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker, who is also the Terror of Demons.

Our enemies are powerful, and always at work to overwhelm us with their hate, but we have Allies who are more than a match for such Adversaries!

Please remember to pray for each other, and especially for our bishops and priests.
In Mobile a sleepy secretary trembled as he went to knock on the bedroom of the archbishop. He was surprised to find Archbishop Gary Martens awake, indeed, already dressed, and hurriedly he imparted the message from New York.

Unlike his brother bishop in Birmingham, the Archbishop of Mobile had no intention of delegating such a task. He had already made his plans for such a case, and he was glad he did. He had his secretary make a few phone calls, then he hurried to his private chapel. He vested quickly but very reverently, picked up a few items, and then went out to the driveway where his car and driver were waiting. A state police escort met them at the entrance, and they set off at high speed for the town where the huge fire was burning...

Hours had passed since the first alarm had rung, but the fire department was still fighting. The fire had spread rapidly through the large building and was pernicious in its vitality. The local police were shocked when the Archbishop arrived – mitered, vested, and crosier in hand – but they didn’t say a word to him, even when he ventured into the cordoned-off area. Nor did the fire officials – they were too busy. His driver (who, though a priest, was trembling with physical terror) held in one hand a bronze vessel of holy water and in the other a fat lighted candle; he followed the Archbishop who walked boldly to the main entrance of the building. There, with a quiet reverence and the dashing aplomb of the Old South, the Archbishop intoned from memory the formal prayers of exorcism.

Archbishop Martens had a strong, rich voice, and the Latin words echoed above the noise of the firemen and their equipment. Then he and his assistant processed around the entire building, heedless of the smoke and falling embers, sprinkling holy water as they chanted the penitential psalms.

Some on-lookers heard them and jeered, but these ran off when a fountain of embers burst out from an upper floor.

The air stank of something sinister – far worse than any common fire – yet the air was surprisingly calm, which had been the Fire Chief’s biggest worry: this was an older part of town, and even a mild wind could be disastrous.

The Archbishop and his assistant had completed three circles when they heard the Fire Chief calling his crews to evacute: the building had become unsafe, and gave every indication of collapsing. The priest gasped but the Archbishop merely put his hand on the priest’s shoulder and said, “We must take our stand here, my son; someone must hold the line against the forces of darkness. But... if you are not willing to remain with me, you may go.”

The priest gulped, and despite his terror he shook his head. “I won’t abandon you... or the battle.”

The Archbishop smiled. “Good. Then let us begin the psalms again...”

[PJF Ite Milites Audaces]

Friday, April 26, 2013

Some News about the REAL Weaver's bookstore

So many readers of this blogg and of the Saga are wondering how to get to Quayment. Unfortunately I can't seem to coax the Map thing into giving me driving directions, though I know darn well you just go south on 100 from North Belloc until you hit Route 801 near Blueville, and then head east!

Note: do NOT try to get off at Route 505. That's not a public road. It leads to Mortimer and the Dark Valley...

Anyway, there is another bookstore which in many ways is the true predecessor of Weaver's - the exceedingly famous Loome Theological Booksellers. It's no longer in an old church, but it's still in Stillwater, Minnesota. They are having their grand opening sale today (Friday) and tomorrow - but perhaps like me that's too far to drive. But my friend Chris has posted two interesting stories about their new place, here and here, which will be of interest.

And if you stop by tell them the Doctor in Pennsylvania says "hello"...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Feast of St. George

Today is the feast day of St. George...

The Cross of St. George:
Argent, a cross gules.

Anyone who is interested in knighthood will be celebrating this day, lifting a toast to that great martyr who fought and defeated the dragon:

The timidity of the child or the savage is entirely reasonable; they are alarmed at this world, because this world is a very alarming place. They dislike being alone because it is verily and indeed an awful idea to be alone. Barbarians fear the unknown for the same reason that Agnostics worship it - because it is a fact. Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give a child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.
[GKC "The Red Angel" in Tremendous Trifles]
Hence it seems fitting to ponder how even Modern knights can be fighting Dragons, even in our Real World - and what better way to ponder this than by means of the Saga...
"Many of you will be wondering about all these men in robes, with swords at their sides – older men, mostly. Or about these four young men with swords... those four you may have already encountered here in Stirling, and you knew they were bold young men, ready and willing to do the hard jobs, to defend the defenseless and protect the innocent, to help in unusual circumstances. It may sound like some sort of exaggeration to call them modern Knights, especially since knights get some bad press in these decadent ages – but they really are Knights. Don't go by the fantasy stories and movies – don't expect to see them jousting on horseback.... but when dragons come to destroy, they will be in the forefront of battle. Dragons! You scoff. Maybe not the fire-breathing lizards of mythology, but these dragons are worse, for they are the kind which lurk in human disguise. Yes: they are Knights, not because they ride horses, wear armor, or have swords, but because they are men sworn to virtue."
[PJF Et In Luna Pax]
Let us be perfectly clear about this, my friends. We are sworn to virtue, by the vows we took at Baptism, and by our Confirmation. This is the sort of knighthood which does not make the particular demands made by formal knighthood: it is open to all, male or female, young or old, physically agile or disabled... It is about Virtue:
"The world has such need of exemplars like them: young men sworn to virtue. Not merely to 'law', or to 'might'... we've had enough of that in the last century. Virtue is not popular, but it is necessary."
There are dragons out there, and they are attacking the innocent. What will you do about it?

Ahem! Oh yes, Et In Luna Pax is the 13th installment of the Saga, and it is even now being readied for printing. Please be patient a little longer.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Never leave such things go unchecked..."

You know we are at war... I don't mean simple human skirmishes. I mean the War, the Great Battle between Good and Evil, which will continue until the End of Time. One of the important tasks we have is to remind each other that (as Bernie remarks somewhere) "we have allies who are more than a match for our adversaries."

And so I thought I would give you another glimpse of the ressuring actions which can occur when this consoling truth is remembered – a fragment from part 13 of the Saga, presently being prepared for publication. Just before this excerpt some of our enemies had invaded the Smith Metal Works, a small father&son business in Stirling, in order to use the furnace to work an infernal ritual to suspend the functionality of all radio and cell-phone activity in the town. But our guys in the Chivalry Club found out, and they informed the proper Authorities, so let us see what occurs...
At the Smith metal shop, Father Parkman had completed three circuits around the building. He was now standing by its front door, nervously trying to pray the rosary – then another car drove up. He smiled with relief when he saw it was Father Psittacus.

The diocesan exorcist got out and smiled as he approached. "Len... God bless you for your fortitude!"

"I... I'm glad you're here, Bob. I just went around, sprinkling holy water, and saying psalms... but I couldn't go inside, Bob. Sorry."

"That may be just as well, Len," he said reassuringly. "I'm here now. Remember what Chesterton said: Two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.  [GKC The Man Who Was Thursday, CW6:548] So... first, let's just make some fresh holy water, then we'll see what we're up against."

"You're sure something's going on here?"

Father Psittacus was putting on his stole. "My radio cut off when I got near town. Does your cellphone work?"


"There's your answer. I mean, a Macbeth-like potion with fresh human blood? We've got to assume there's something rotten in Denmark, Len!" He chuckled at his mixed allusions.

Father Parkman tried to laugh. "But Bob – was it... was it worth my doing – what I did?"

The exorcist handed him a vial of salt, and set a canister of water on the hood of the car. "Oh certainly, Len. Just by being here, you already put up a strong front. Maybe kept it hedged in, prevented it from spreading malevolence wider. Never leave such things go unchecked... But we can talk later, Len. Let's proceed." Then, in a surprisingly gentle voice he began: Exorcizo te, creatura salis, per Deum vivum..."

In minutes the blessing of holy water was completed. Then he took out a fat stub of a candle, lighted it and gave it to Father Parkman to hold. "From now on, Father, I shall speak with the authority of his Excellency the bishop. For our safety, I order you to remain silent, until I give you permission to speak."

The pastor bowed in submission. Then they went inside.

Time passed... and when they came out of the shop, Father Psittacus smirked as they heard a bouncing tune on an accordion. "You are released from your silence, Len. You hear that?"

Father Parkman cocked an ear. "Yes – what is it, Bob? Er... you like polka music?"

"Not particularly... but the car radio is working again. I left it on when I parked."

Father Parkman nodded solemnly.

Then Father Psittacus extinguished the candle and gave it to him. "Keep this, just in case you need it again. And first chance you get, say a Mass of thanksgiving."

"Certainly, Bob... thanks... God bless you!"

"Thanks, Len." The exorcist lifted his hand in blessing. "Call anytime."

After Father Psittacus had gone, Father Parkman got into his own car. Then he looked at the candle he was holding – to his surprise, it had not decreased in size though it had been burning the whole time they had been inside the shop. Then he took out his cellphone – it had a connection again – and called the Chivalry Club.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Ensis Corporate Logo

At several places in the Saga you will hear about a certain logo, the Ensis Corporate logo, appearing on various vehicles, jets, and uniforms. With some chagrin, I find it necessary to admit that it is never described... of course there is plenty throughout the Saga that is never described, or very poorly described, and perhaps someday those omissions will be remedied. (I especially lament the lack of maps - I have made sketches and most things are topologically sound and hopefully consistent throughout the narrative, but my draftsmanship is rudimentary at best... Another time, perhaps.) In this simpler case, however, I have managed to coax the machinery into helping me out, and so I am now able to show you this very interesting logo.

However, unless you have read sufficiently far into the Saga, you will not know what Ensis is. For those who haven't yet dared, I will tell you just a little. It is a huge conglomerate of businesses, mostly of the Engineering sort, which have a heritage dating back into the 1800s. In the subcreated world of the Saga, it is very well-known, and generally admired - surprisingly, the admiration is not that of sycophants or some grudging kind of obeisance to vast wealth-and-power, but an honest kind of feeling - a company that does care (generally, anyway) and is very serious about Getting Things Done. That is because the founder of its predecessor company (which was Fisher Engineering) was the very famous John Fisher, an engineer of the mid-1800s, about whom you will eventually learn more. Fisher and his father-in-law, Gregory Mortimer, and their financial backer, associate, and close friend Joseph Chandler, formed this company in the late 1840s, and invested significant sums including a large fraction of the profits from the Chandler railroad linking Quayment to Stirling.

There, that ought to do for a start - except for one more detail. Unlike these intelligent gentlemen, you may not have studied Latin, and so I shall tell you that the word ensis is Latin for "sword".

Now, the corporate logo of Ensis, which their President has kindly given permission to reproduce here:

Description: On a blue background: a regular heptagon, pointing vertically, with seven gold stars at the vertices. Gold lines link every star with every other (this is the graph known to mathematicians as K7). Upon it is placed a sword proper with three gemstones (red, white, green) on its hilt, here omitted for technical reasons.
In heraldry the sword, unless blazoned as inverted, is erect and has its point in chief; it is generally proper which is quite correctly argent, but in painting may be given the metallic-blue sheen of tempered steel.
[Franklyn, Heraldry, 73]
It may be noted that this blue (sometimes called Ensis blue) is actually a background color: hence the logo on Ensis uniforms (which are of that blue) is simply the seven netted stars and the sword. When it is used on something which is some other color (e.g. a vehicle) the logo appears on the stellated heptagon as shown here (That is the closed figure formed by visiting every second vertex in a regular heptagon somewhat larger than the one on which the stars are placed, and filling the entire enclosed space with Ensis blue.)

Oh yes... just in case you are curious about the symbolism underlying this logo, you will have to wait for future revelations.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Francis in the Saga

I was thinking about Pope Francis I and Gilbert Keith FRANCIS Chesterton, whose wife was FRANCES Blogg... and I decided to give you just a brief and possibly relevant excerpt for your contemplation during the Triduum.
Sitting there in his dimly lighted room, Steve recalled (with the power of his trained memory) how St. Paul had written it: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.”[1 Cor 13:11]

Some time ago, Steve had spoken with Father Stensen about this, since he was a serious young man, and wanted to proceed with the approval of authority. Father Stensen had nodded solemnly, recalling the wisdom Pope Innocent III had shown to the enthusiastic John Bernardone[see below] and had first pointed out the famous contrary line in the gospel: “Unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”[Mt 18:3] He had then listened to Steve’s plans, and found them nothing more strenuous than the regimen undertaken by any serious athlete. Being a wise priest, and seeing Steve’s aptness for such discipline, he pointed out another verse from the book Steve had already quoted: “Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize. So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from all things. And they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible one.” The priest wondered, too, if this could be the sign of a vocation, and determined to keep a careful watch. Reassured, Steve proceeded to strive for the mastery.
[PJF The Tree of Virtues]

Note: John Berardone is St. Francis of Assisi. See GKC’s book St. Francis of Assisi, especially CW2:96-8 and 127-8, but the critical line is this: “...the Church could include all that was good in the Franciscans and the Franciscans could not include all that was good in the Church.” CW2:128

Monday, March 25, 2013

Nine Months Until Christmas

Since it is Holy Week, the great feast of the Annunciation is deferred. Yet by the calendar it is nine months until the birthday of Christ, a day of most special significance to the Equester Ordo and to the Saga.

And despite it being Holy Week, I will announce the Good News that part 12 of the Saga, entitled Esto Miles Pacificus, is now available! See here for details.

In case you are wondering, the title comes from the formula for the making of a Knight:
Esto miles pacificus, strenuus, fidelis, et Deo Devotus.

Be a knight of peace, vigorous, faithful, and devoted to God.

[From De Benedictione Novi Militis (For the Blessing of a New Knight) in Pontificale Romanum]
If you want to know more about that ritual, you can find it here.

I am sure you will want to know more - but if you do, you will need to read the book.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Part 11 now available!

Yes, it was a long winter, and we have a new Pope - and there's more good news:

Part 11 of the Saga De Bellis Stellarum is now available! It is called Ite Milites Audaces... and you can order it here.

I strongly advise you not to go peeking, but then that really holds true for the entire Saga. There's just too many beans which could be spilled.

Next is Esto Miles Pacificus, and perhaps I will get the prequel out soon also - that's the one about Joe the Control Room Guy. (No it's not about a short guy who finds a ring. Hee hee.)

In other news, I've started going over the last part (#13) and will begin turning that crank shortly - and just in case you are wondering whether there could be any more to come... ah, well, keep wondering.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Surprising Blessing

Given all the chatter and whine and errors being scraped up over weapons, it may be distinctly satisfactory for you to read something serious and solemn and impressive - and quite authentic - about how the Church actually considers such things and their use. Even more: this particular item will appear in a future installment of the Saga, so if you want to see it "in situ" so to speak, stay tuned.

From Pontificale Romanum:
De Benedictione Militis Novis

(For the Blessing of a New Knight - my rough translation)

V. Save your servant, O Lord.

R. My God, I will hope in you.

V. Be to these, O Lord, a tower of strength.

R. From the face of the enemy.

V. O Lord hear my prayer.

R. And let my cry come unto you.

V. The Lord be with you.

R. And with your spirit.

Bishop: Let us pray. Holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, who alone orders all things and disposes them rightly, by your wholesome disposition you permit the use of the sword in the human world to the curbing of malice and the support of justice, and you will the institution of the order of knights for the protection of the people: and you spoke through blessed John to whom in the desert the soldiers came that they may do violence to no one, and they may be content with their pay; by your clemency, we humbly beg, that as you enlarged the ability of your servant David to prevail over Goliath, and you made Judas Machabee to smite the people who would not invoke your name, so also grant to these your servants, whose now place their necks under the yoke of knighthood, power and boldness toward the defence of faith and justice, and give to them an increase of faith, hope, and charity, give your fear and in like manner love, humility, perseverance, obedience, and good patience, and in them dispose all things rightly, that they may harm no one unjustly, with these or other weapons; and that with them they may defend the just and the right: and as they by a minor step to new knighthood are advanced in honor, so putting off the old man by their actions, may put on the new man, that they may fear you and cultivate righteousness, avoid the consort of the wicked, and increase in their charity to their neighbor, obey their superiors in all things rightly, and in all things justly execute their duty. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

The very pattern of the cosmos, so to speak, is a pattern of crossed swords.

GKC May 31, 1913 CW29:502