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.)