Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Seven Quick Pancakes


It is Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in Western Christendom. I wonder how much of Christendom actually makes the pancakes, however. In Poland and Polonia the fun day is Tłusty Czwartek, Fat Thursday, which was last Thursday, when Poles have a good excuse to stuff themselves with pączki, i.e. jam-filled Polish doughnuts. This year I was determined to remember to celebrate Tłusty Czwartek, but then Hilary White converted me to Anti-Sugarism. That said, I shall be making blueberry pancakes for B.A. and me tonight and not stinting on the 100% Canadian maple syrup. As Carnival hijinks go, that strikes me as mild.


I was going to make pancakes for breakfast but unfortunately I was in the grip of a terrible dream. In this dream, I had been hired to give Seraphic Singles lectures at a Catholic or Evangelical conference in Cuba or Bahamas or somewhere like that, but instead of giving the lectures, I had an affair. It had absolutely no glamour of evil, either. There was no deep conversation or shared jokes or high-minded speeches or sunsets. It was basically just being in bed with some skinny stranger while cranky conference organizers burst in the room from time to time to find out where I was and go through the trash for evidence of wrongdoing. They found a lot, for when I got home, my mother revealed that they had written to her, and she was not amused.

At this point the dream got even more confused because it seemed to me very unlikely that I would do such a wicked thing, or have the time to go to Cuba or the Bahamas during my Canadian trip. Although I vaguely remembered something like that, I was sure it must have been a dream. How to explain the letter, though? In great agitation of spirits, I checked my passport to see if it had any corroborative stamps. Hélas! My passport was a patchwork of wrong names and advertising!

From time to time I would half-wake up and notice B.A. snoring away beside me and feel sure that the dream was just a dream, but then I would fall back into it. Really, it never seemed to end. I kept rushing hither and thither trying to prove I had not gone to Cuba or the Bahamas. It was a great relief to wake up entirely and find B.A. buttoning up his shirt. However, when I told him of my ghastly dream, he said, "So that's why I got that letter from the Cuban Health Authority."

Hours later I realized that the skinny stranger was the British "Food TV" presenter who wasted an hour of our lives last night wandering around Los Angeles eating street food. Ugh.


My mother watches a lot of television, but as my parents have a big house, it is quite easy to escape the idiot box. The same is not true of the flat in the Historical House. My mother thinks the flat has the same square footage as her house, but it really does not have all the comfortable nooks and crannies. It also lacks the neighbourliness of several people all looking vaguely like me. The only other person around is B.A., so if I want the comfort of another human presence, I have to go back into the living room where he is watching brainless British telly. "It's not brainless," he is wont to say. "It's a documentary about the coast of Ireland."


Although I can get sucked into "The Great British Bakeoff", I would be perfectly happy if the only channel we got was ITV Three, so I could watch "Poirot", "Endeavour" and "Lewis." Although "UK Border Police" was diverting, watching illegal migrants climb out windows and run like the wind struck me as cruel.


The trad part of the Catholic blogosphere is going nuts because the young, plump bishop of Fort Worth, Texas has tried to solve the problems of a local Catholic college by banning its use of the Extraordinary Form. It is striking that the man was made bishop at age 47, and now he is internationally infamous, too. Nobody gave him the memo that bishops can't ban the Extraordinary Form. Nor did it occur to him (or whoever actually wrote his letter) that suggesting that the Mass of the Ages, which dates long before the Council of Trent, and nourished generations of Christians, including almost all the known saints, is bad for your soul is best left to anti-Catholic tracts.

I have no stake in Fisher-More College, except for any readers there (hello!), but I understand that the bishop's real concern was not about the Extraordinary Form but about the college president's increasingly strident critique of the Second Vatican Council. How happy I will be when we have Trent II, so we have another Council to fight about. All my life people older than me have been banging on about Vatican II like it was Catholic Woodstock. Vatican II was actually quite dull compared to other Councils: the bihops, periti and guests never had to suspend talks and flee because war had broken out, and nobody punched anyone else. My friend Aelianus loves the Council of Florence best; currently I have a soft spot for dear old Trent. At least people obeyed the liturgical reforms of Trent. Very few people seem to have read the liturgical reforms of Vatican II. "Look, giant puppets!" "No, it says Gregorian Chant." "Puppets!" "No, look. Sound it out. G-r-e-g-o-r-i-a-n ch-a-n-t." "Puppets!"


Only once have I walked out of Mass thanks to the musical stylings of the soi-distant ministers of music. That really amazes me when I think back to what I have sat through in my time. Long electric guitar solos in the middle of the Gloria. Outrageously loud amplification in a German seminary chapel. A parish choir singing the atheist "We Rise Again in the Faces of Our Children" during Communion. No, what did it for me was a Filipino folk band in Toronto. The place was packed with stolid-faced white folk, and the only one smiling was the elderly priest, who did a little dance behind the altar as the happy band banged and strummed, tootled and wailed through microphones. I forget if I lasted to the Gloria, or if it was the Kyrie that inspired my retreat. As my heels hurriedly clicked-clicked to the blessed quiet of the street, all eyes to the left and right followed me enviously down the aisle.


I once told a flame that what I liked best in music was the silence between the notes. He was most impressed and said I was ready for jazz, which is the sort of thing flames say. Men love to instruct women on just about anything: shooting pool, shooting baskets, Wittgenstein. Use this knowledge for good.

What I like very much in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is the extraordinary hush it fosters in a congregation. At the 11 o'clock at Holy Family Church in Toronto, you can hear the flutter of the Mass booklets and the gentle thumps of the kneelers going down. Sure, sometimes a baby has to wail a bit. but he is usually taken out if Mass has actually begun.

I am strongly of the opinion that we hear God in the silence between the notes. A world that hates silence is a world afraid to hear God.

Update: Mark J. Miller of Catholic World Report differs on the subject of bishops being able to squelch celebration of the EF. Still unanswered, however, is the question of how squelching it would in any way help the college president's or his students' souls.

Update 2: When I say "young, plump" bishop, please don't think I have it in for obese priests. As a matter of fact, I feel terrible for them, as I do for any priest who has an obvious health problem. We have developed an understanding and supports for priests who abuse alcohol, poor souls, but so far I haven't heard anyone address the problem of clerical obesity. My only uncle died at my age, and I am absolutely sure this was related to his weight, his eating habits and his Single state, poor man.


Jam said...

The only thing I have to say about the Fisher More thing is that many of the people who are terribly, terribly offended by the tone of the bishop's letter are the very same people who, when you point out that at the very least Michael Voris' tone is problematic, have never even heard of such a thing as tone. And I don't mean that in a vague "they wouldn't say that about a Democrat" kind of way; I mean the very same people. Unsurprisingly, tone does turn out to matter.

How tedious, yet another horse rider of the apocalypse, here to show us that Traditionalists *really are* under attack and the pope and the bishops *really are* Masonic plants out to get us. Happily, all those years at the hippy-dippy "enlightened" Catholic center on my college campus taught me a thing or two about going to mass for Jesus, and not for the other people in the pews.

Sorry, that was venting.

I had a dream a couple nights ago where I was at a party talking to a Guy of My Acquaintance. Another girl came up to him and said, "hey, you have such nice arms" (she must have had x-ray vision? also, RUDE). "Oh thanks," he said, calm as you like: "I don't really work out or anything. Just bare-knuckle boxing." The weirdness of this statement jolted me awake, and when I remembered it on my train it made me giggle. Needless to say, this guy is not exactly a bare-knuckle boxing type...

Seraphic said...

Re: Dream: ha!

Re: Traddie Freakouts: I think a lot of people still feel completely stunned by Benedict's abdication. It was unprecedented; the last chap (in the 14th century or whatever) was an elderly pawn who just wanted to go home, not the towering intellect and lifelong gift to the Church who is Benedict XVI. So it was (and is) all very strange, especially to everyone who thought a nice long Benedictine reign would put the European Church on the path to healing and renewal. But it was not to be.

Me, I do not watch Voris although I met him in Rome once and thought it was nice that he bought my friends and me lunch. Personally I am not sensitive to tone although I am sensitive to violations of "Summorum Pontificum".

This is partly because the European/Anglosphere Catholic cultures that seemed eternal in the 1950s were blown to smithereens by 1970, and the creation of the New Mass--with faint regard for what the Council actually asked for--was unfortunately a big part of that. Rightly or wrongly, trads believe that renewing lost treasures of Catholic worship is integral for rebuilding a culture in which the Catholic faith and Catholic families may flourish.

amused said...

I've never paid any attention to Michael Voris. I did read the bishop's letter when it was posted on fb, and found nothing particularly offensive in the "tone". But I confess I do find it very odd that a bishop would go and ban the Extraordinary Form, when Rome has been so very, very clear that priests do not need special permission to celebrate it, and that it should be made available to all Catholics who desire to attend it.

Seraphic said...

Exactly. And hence the traddy freakage.

Sheila said...

Have you read Fr. Z's take? Since the college has no priest (they have been illicitly hosting priests with no faculties to say their Mass for them) and they aren't a parish, the bishop does indeed have every right to deny their request. It's that, or provide them with a priest to say their Mass for them, and I can't imagine the bishop has a free EF-only priest to assign to them.

Also, what's with the college stopping all daily Masses if they can't have an EF one? Seems the wrong attitude to have.

Seraphic said...

I think he can ban ALL Masses, but I don't think he can ban ONE form and not the OTHER. Or so they are arguing at Laodicea. http://exlaodicea.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/bishop-of-fort-worth-tries-to-suppress-summorum-pontificum-rights/

The College president may be a freakazoid, but the solution is not to ban the EF. Banning the EF makes it seem like the Bishop thinks there is something wrong with the EF. I'm relieved to read in other quarters that actually he is supportive of it. Still, why ban it?

To be frank, I doubt any traddy outside Texas cares two hoots about the college. It's the precedence set that is causing the worldwide traddy outrage.

Stellamaris said...

On a lighter note, we had waffles for breakfast, not pancakes. But I think it was less in favour of Mardi Gras and more of me being at their house for breakfast, which is infrequent. Does it still count?
I actually felt very very slightly guilty because I'm trying to put my Lenten practices up a few notches. I recently read that very strict Orthodox Christians do a kind of pre-fast before the Lenten fast and then go VEGAN for all of Lent. GASP! Now that would be a challenge. I have sort of been making an effort at eating more simply since sexagesima or thereabouts. Still, you can't refuse your mother's waffles or she would be sad.

Seraphic said...

Oh, Stellamaris, how BRAVE! I thought of doing an Orthodox Lenten fast, so I could write about it later, but B.A. vetoed the suggestion. Too tough--and we wouldn't now how to do it, the way Greek mothers probably do from long experience and training by THEIR mothers.

The pancakes are even now in the warm oven waiting for the sausages to finish baking.

Nzie said...

Re: Fisher More - I think the ban on EF but not all Masses is because the FMC seems to have a policy where only EF Masses are allowed - so it looks like singling out, but only because they've already prohibited all other forms. I recommend checking the public figure Facebook page of Dr. Taylor Marshall for his statement on the matter, as someone who used to work there, loves EF, and still quit as a matter of conscience with a new baby and no job lined up.

I had a lot written about Voris, but I can sum it up by saying I don't think his videos are helpful to the faithful or the seekers, and am glad that apparently in person he is generous and pleasant.

Magdalen said...

1. I am both sugar and grain free, but there's a wonderful blog called "I Breathe I'm Hungry" and she has a recipe for pancakes made from eggs and cream cheese with a little bit of sweetener that I'm trying ce soir.

2. "Endeavour" is wonderful. We get it on Netflix here, and Shaun Evans is just wonderful as Morse.

3. I have sat through masses that made me almost wish that I was tone-deaf and no music sounded either fantastic or terrible, but never have I walked out. I find there is a happy medium, as a musician, because if the music is too wonderful and complicated and the singers accomplished professionals, I tend to suffer from envy...

Kathleen said...

I've just about weaned myself of uncharitable, unnecessary hate reading of Taylor Marshall, whose writing I find both pedantic and inflammatory, so I hope you'll take my recommendation to read his comments, which are clearly the fruit of much prayer and consideration. Here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/DrTaylorMarshall/posts/400180263452671?stream_ref=10

Jenna St. Hilaire said...

This was a thoroughly enjoyable post. I laughed loud and long over the puppets/chant back-and-forth.

There's no Sunday EF in our town, but I was allowed to direct a men's schola in singing most of the Latin propers during three Novus Ordo Masses a few weeks ago. The schola members and some of the congregants enjoyed it so much that there's talk of repeating it at intervals in future. Baby steps! It might've been one of the best weekends of my life. :)

I have only once dreamed about having an affair (which was totally embarrassing even though I wasn't about to tell anyone, and even though it wasn't someone I was ever interested in [on account of which I was a little shocked and grossed out in the morning]). But the number of times I have dreamed about my husband or I becoming a polygamist would suggest that I spend a lot of spare time watching Big Love or Sister Wives. I do NOT.

Seraphic said...

I have just read Dr Marshall's post, and it was very interesting. The FSSP strike me as prudent & full of integrity, so if they have fled, things are rotten in the state of Denmark, Texas.

That said, screaming till we are blue in the face at every threat, real or merely perceived, to the EF is likely to become Trad policy. Sad but true.

Jessica said...

Totally unrelated, but I'm sitting in the student center of my university and the guys sitting next to me are having a loud conversation (ok fine, I'm eavesdropping) and one of them just said, "I'm more into chasing girls, y'know, like, if one of them comes after me I'm not that into it.")

Maggie D said...

A boy who I had a huge (unreciprocated) crush on for much of high school (I'm now a college freshman) is very Traddy (rather too much so for my comfort -- evidently he used to get upset when his mom would wear pants, lectured my hot friend about her immodesty, etc, though I think most of it was immaturity) and he withdrew from FMC. It's an insane school.
Apparently there's a rule in the student handbook that a man and a woman cannot talk to each other without a third person present? Anyway, if he says the environment was toxic, that's something. Plus, the financial situation was weird--they were offering full tuition to students who looked like they were the "right type" there, and that's how this guy ended up there.

Seraphic said...

Jessica. Yes.

Maggie, all very weird except for the full scholarship part. I think BC gave me the fellowship for being "the right type" but they were wrong.

Listen, I hope nobody is getting the idea that the EF is for weirdos. It's just the Latin Rite Mass at it was before nineteen sixty-three, the only Latin Rite Mass G.K. Chesterton, et alia, knew. It's usually quiet and very lovely and almost everyone follows along with a bilingual missal. A French lady in my community has a French-Latin one.

Naturally weirdos occasionally pop up although very rarely in Edinburgh. In Edinburgh there's a high ratio of converts from High Church Anglicanism, who were brought up almost from birth to love painstaking ritual and a high standard of sacred music. They're all normal chaps.

Seraphic said...

N.B. It is not weird to say "chaps" when you are a permanent resident of the United Kingdom.

Amused said...

Hm, yes, read Fr. Z--thanks Sheila! I was a bit outraged to see on fb that "a bishop is banning the TLM". It's good to know that there is another side to the story, and that all may not be as it appears. It is sad that many people will take this occasion to bash those who love the TLM, as if they were all disobedient, prideful weirdos. But it's just as sad that many will take the opportunity to "bishop bash," as if all of them were undercover commies or masons.

Leah said...

Sadly, I think the amount of weirdos in the TLM community is higher in the US, or at least that's been my experience. :/ One of the families I know won't go to Mass on Sunday at all if they can't go to the EF.

It's really too bad, because there are tons of lovely people in the TLM community, but the weirdos tend to be more vocal and get more attention.

Seraphic said...

Oh dear, that's so sad about the family who won't go to Mass if they can't go to the EF. On the other hand, some priests celebrate the NO SOOOO badly that I wouldn't let children go to their masses. And I am dead serious. I forget what age a child absolutely must go to Mass, but until that age, I would not take a kid to the Mass I'm thinking of.

What's worse, I wonder: traddie weirdos or tin-eared proggies whose shenanigans shock the stuffing out of traddie non-weirdos? Both?

Sheila said...

Both. Both have at least one foot out of the barque of Peter, and it doesn't really matter if you're hanging out of the port or starboard side.

Plus, they shock each other and drive each other further off the boat.