Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cat TV

DSC_3886

All day, every day.

Michaelmas

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio.

Saint George Roman Catholic Church, in New Baden, Illinois, USA - stained glass window of Saint Michael
Saint George Church, in New Baden, Illinois

Saint Michael the Archangel Church, Shrewsbury, Missouri -
Saint Michael the Archangel Church, in Shrewsbury, Missouri

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - Icon of Saint Michael the Archangel
Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri


Most Sacred Heart Church, in Eureka, Missouri

The Feast of Saint Michael was a holy day of obligation in the middle ages, and is still an important date in England, where this feast day goes by the name Michaelmas. Under the liturgical calendar of 1969, this day is known as the Feast of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels. Even prior to Christianity, Saint Michael was the patron of Israel, is venerated in Islam, and is patron of the Universal Church, the military, police, emergency responders, and many others.

Monday, September 28, 2009

From the Parish of Saint Gabriel the Archangel

Saint Gabriel the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis (Saint Louis Hills neighborhood), Missouri, USA - view of church and rectory at sunset

A NOTICE FROM Saint Gabriel the Archangel Church in Saint Louis:
On Tuesday, September 29, at 7:00 PM, there will be a Vespers in honor of our patron, St. Gabriel the Archangel. This sung liturgy, which follows the order of evening prayer according to the current liturgical books, features English-language chant and hymns inspired by Gregorian chant and composed especially for the occasion by Fr. Samuel F. Weber, OSB, director of the archdiocesan Institute of Sacred Music. Vespers, which is one of the liturgical hours, has always been recommended by the Church, many popes, and our bishops as a way of enriching our worship of Christ and increasing our appreciation of the liturgical heritage of the Church. The assembly will join the choir and cantor in singing these beautiful psalms and readings which are so central to our Catholic faith. Please plan to participate as an expression of our thanks to God for 75 years as a parish community.
Examples of Fr. Weber's English chant adaptations can be found here at the New Liturgical Movement and here at Cantemus Domino. Fr. Weber has also adapted chant to Spanish.

Sacred Heart

Mosaic of the the Sacred Heart of Jesus, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missoui, USA

“I adore Thee, O most Sacred Heart of Jesus, inflame my heart with the divine love with which Thine Own is all on fire.”

A new high-resolution photo of the mosaic on the Sacred Heart Shrine at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. Click photo for a much larger version.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On Immigration

I'VE LATELY BEEN thinking about social justice, the phrase and concept discovered by the Jesuit theologian Luigi Taparelli from his study of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and developed into moral doctrine by Taparelli's pupil, Pope Leo XIII, who based his encyclical Rerum Novarum on these principles.

Consider the problem of immigration reform in the United States. There are two opposing hard-line positions:
  • Borders must be tightly controlled; and, immigrants get no rights given to citizens.
  • Borders must be open; and, immigrants get all rights of citizenship.
But what we have is a supposedly moderate policy, where our borders are porous while illegal immigrants — and even many legal ones — live in constant fear of deportation, and are afforded few rights that any citizen would normally enjoy.

Our current situation is rather convenient for some: this ensures cheap labor which can be threatened into submission; and also a ready-made oppressed class who can be exploited for radical political action.

So what could an immigration policy based on Catholic social teaching look like? Perhaps:
  • Borders and immigration are tightly controlled.
  • Immigrants are treated generously, and can obtain full citizenship fairly quickly and easily.
To me, these seem to be policies of both a well-ordered, and a charitable culture, whereas our current system shows signs of both chaos and hate, which are decidedly non-Christian.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Francis Park in Late Afternoon

Trees near sunset - Francis Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Francis Park in Saint Louis, just before sunset. Fall is in the air, and the trees are just beginning to turn color.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

National Punctuation Day

WITHOUT GOOD PUNCTUATION THE UNITED STATES WOULD NOT HAVE WON WORLD WAR II ALTHOUGH THIS IS LIKELY AN OVERSTATEMENT CERTAINLY THE INVENTION OF PUNCTUATION HAS MADE WRITING A MORE PRECISE ENDEAVOR HELPING INCREASE COMPREHENSION AND THE TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE CLEARLY THIS IS DONE BY BREAKING UP THE STREAM OF WORDS INTO LOGICAL COMPONENTS THEREBY REDUCING AMBIGUITY AND ALSO BY RELIEVING THE READER OF THE NEED TO CAREFULLY PARSE TEXTS INTO ITS COMPONENTS WHICH CAN OFTEN BE PROBLEMATIC DOES THIS NOUN GO WITH THAT VERB OR ANOTHER ONE IS A QUESTION THAT IS RESOLVED WITH PUNCTUATION CONSIDER THIS AMBIGUOUS PHRASE WOMAN WITHOUT HER MAN IS NOTHING WHICH CAN EITHER MEAN THAT A WOMAN NEEDS HER MAN OR THAT A MAN NEEDS HIS WOMAN BUT WE CANT TELL WHICH MEANING WITHOUT PUNCTUATION ANOTHER BENEFIT OF PUNCTUATION IS THAT IT CAN CONVEY SOMEWHAT THE PACING OF SPOKEN SPEECH AND OCCASIONALLY THE TONE OF VOICE AS WELL AS DISTINGUISHING QUESTIONS FROM STATEMENTS READING ANCIENT MONUMENTS IS OFTEN A FRUSTRATING BUSINESS DUE TO LACK OF PUNCTUATION AND EVEN WORSE ARE EVEN OLDER MONUMENTS THATDONTEVENPUTSPACESBETWEENWORDS THE EARLIEST EXAMPLE OF PUNCTUATION CAN BE FOUND ON THE MESHE STELE OF THE 9TH CENTURY BC AND GREEK DRAMATISTS USED PUNCTUATION TO DISTINGUISH THE VARIOUS ACTORS PARTS IN THEIR PLAYS THIS USAGE DATES FROM THE 5TH CENTURY BC ROMANS ONLY ADOPED PUNCTUATION IN THE 1ST CENTURY BC THE CHURCH GREATLY INCREASED THE USE OF PUNCTUATION AND AN EARLY SYSTEM WAS DEVISED BY SAINT JEROME IN HIS SCRIPTURE TRANSLATIONS PUNCTUATION BECAME STANDARDIZED AFTER THE INVENTION OF THE PRINTING PRESS WITH MUCH MODERN PUNCTUATION BEING INVENTED BY ALDUS MANUTIUS IN THE 15TH CENTURY PUNCTUATION CAN ALSO MAKE A TEXT MORE BEAUTIFUL AND THE ART OF TYPOGRAPHY HAS CAREFULLY CONSIDERED THE USE OF PUNCTUATION MARKS AND ESPECIALLY THEIR GRAPHIC DESIGN AS A WAY OF EASING COMPREHENSION AND ARTISTIC APPEAL A SIDE EFFECT OF PUNCTUATION MAY BE THE LOSS OF INFLECTION IN MODERN LANGUAGES SINCE PARTS OF SPEECH NOWADAYS ARE RENDERED BY LOCATION WITHIN A SENTENCE SET OFF BY PUNCTUATION MARKS BUT THIS IS JUST A SPECULATION ON MY PART LETS ALL CONSIDER THE IMPORTANCE OF PUNCTUATION ON THIS NATIONAL PUNCTUATION DAY

Some Newer Buildings at Washington University

Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - newer buildings 1

Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - newer buildings 2

Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - newer buildings 3

After a brief flirtation with Modernism in architecture, new construction at this university has — with exception of a new art school building — returned to the Academic Gothic style of its founding.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Restoration in Saint Louis

VIA Fr. Z's blog and Saint Louis Catholic.

Roman and American History

OF INTEREST is Bill Thayer's website on the history of Ancient Rome and the United States. This site is filled with photographs, and the texts of many primary and scholarly sources of historical information. His site is in English and Italian.

Main web site
LacusCurtius: Into the Roman World
American & Military History
A Gazetteer of Italy
An American Scrapbook
American History blog
American Catholic History

Scholarships to Study in Rome, Italy

A CORRESPONDENT says that the British School at Rome is offering awards to artists and scholars who want to live in Rome, Italy.

Click here for a list of arts scholarships.

Most of these require British or Commonwealth citizenship or residency, and a few are open to citizens or residents of the United States. Willingness to learn Italian is required.

The school was founded in 1901 by royal charter and is under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen.

Evoking images of the Grand Tour, English Nationalism, Imperialism, and now Postmodernism, this school appears to think that not much happened in the world between the years A.D. 313 and 1532, and so it perhaps could benefit from someone with a more catholic view of history.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Photos of Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church. It is located in unincorporated Saint Louis County, at the southwest corner of Page Avenue and Interstate 270, about 18 road miles west of downtown Saint Louis, Missouri.

My visit was on the occasion of the church's annual festival this past weekend.

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - exterior front

This parish was formed in 1976; the church building dates from 1994 and is in the form of traditional Coptic churches. This church was consecrated by the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III. The title ‘Pope’ means papa or dad.

The Copts are Christians of ethnic Egyptian descent. Egypt became Christian at a very early date, and many Christians still live in that country, often in ethnically segregated cities. Coptic Catholics and Coptic Orthodox are often found within the same family.

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - nave

The iconostasis includes icons of the Apostles along the top, with the Last Supper above the veil covering the altar. The altar veil hearkens back to the Holy of Holies at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem; and under the New Covenant, Our Lord's altar is also covered as a sign of sacredness — but during the Divine Liturgy the veil is pulled back, and God comes out to us. The screening of the sanctuary was also found in Latin Christianity in the Middle Ages.

On the veil is depicted the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Christ Child, and Saint Abraam, who was a Bishop who lived in the early 20th century.

The liturgy here is primarily in English, with portions in Coptic and Arabic, and the Missals, seen here in the pew pockets, are trilingual, as are the hymnals, while the Book of Hours is in English. The church uses the Revised Standard Edition of the scripture, which includes the books of the Greek Septuagint; this translation is in contemporary English, in the tradition of the Douai and King James Bibles. Sunday liturgy is about three hours long.


On the left is Deacon Ramses, who led a tour of the church and kindly answered my questions in great detail. Deacons have a liturgically important rôle, and among their various ranks are Archdeacons, who may substitute for a priest or bishop under extraordinary circumstances.

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - high altar and apse

A view of the high altar, with the veil pulled back. In the center of the apse is an icon of Christ Pantocrator, or ruler of all. The priest says Mass towards the liturgical east, which of course is also geographical east.

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - high altar

A detail of the high altar. The liturgical vessels are kept in the tabernacle-like container at the center of the altar, while the vessel on the right holds incense.

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - men's door to sanctuary

According to the ancient tradition of the church, men and women approach communion separately. Here is the doorway to the men's side of the sanctuary, with a depiction of the Annunciation. On the veil is Coptic script, which is the Greek alphabet with letters added to represent sounds not found in Greek.

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - men's communion rail and side-altar

Here is the men's communion rail, located behind the iconostasis. Communion is received under both species separately (that is, not by intinction), while standing. Behind the communion rail is a side-altar; Mass may not be re-offered on a single altar within a nine hour period of time.

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - Reliquary of Saint Samaan the Tanner

This appears to be a reliquary of Saint Samaan the Tanner.

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - Icon of Saint Mary and the Christ Child

Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is co-patron of this church, with the Christ Child. The container in front of the icon is filled with sand and is used to place candles.

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - Icon of Saint Abraam

Saint Abraam, the other co-patron of the church.

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - Icon of Saint Michael the Archangel

Icon of Saint Michael the Archangel, defeating Satan, who according to the book of Revelation, was in the form of a dragon.

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - Icon of Saint George

Saint George slaying the dragon; in many churches, this and the icon of Saint Michael are often displayed together.

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - Icon of Saint Mark the Evangelist

Icon of Saint Mark the Evangelist, apostle to the Egyptians and founder of the Coptic Church.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Balloon Glow

AS A PRELUDE to today's Great Forest Park Balloon Race, last night was a balloon glow, where racers displayed their grounded airships to the public.

Great Forest Park Balloon Race, at Central Field in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Balloon Glow 1

Great Forest Park Balloon Race, at Central Field in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Balloon Glow 3

Great Forest Park Balloon Race, at Central Field in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Balloon Glow 7

Thousands were in attendance.

Balloon exhibitions have been held in this park for at least a century. But the modern form of hot-air balloons only dates from the first untethered manned flight in 1960 by Paul Edward Yost (1919-2007), who invented a lightweight propane burner which could be carried aloft, and who pioneered much of modern ballooning. Contemporary hot-air balloons are very efficient forms of transportation and can achieve extreme altitudes. Clever use of the varying directions of winds at various altitudes means that these aircraft have a measure of steerability. However, these are not particularly practical, but rather more a visual delight.

Anno Mundi 5770

AT SUNDOWN last night began Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, which began the 5770th year since the creation of the world, according to an ancient calculation based on Biblical chronology.

In the Jewish liturgy for Rosh Hashanah, the shofar, a trumpet made from an animal horn, is blown. The Temple in Jerusalem featured a full orchestra, and even perhaps a pipe organ: but in sorrow for the destruction of the Temple, only this most ancient of musical instruments has been retained.

The shofar does not produce perfect harmonics, so its sound is distinctive: click to hear a sample.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Forest Park at Sunrise

NEW YORK CITY has Central Park, but Saint Louis has Forest Park, which is twice as interesting and half as crowded as its eastern cousin.

The park was established in 1876, developed for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, and afterwards became home to several major cultural institutions. After suffering decline during the 1970s, the park was lately redeveloped.

I took these photos the other day, at sunrise. See the companion article Forest Park at Sunset. Please enjoy!

The Jewel Box, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

The Jewel Box, a conservatory, built in 1936 in the Art Deco style, is popular for wedding receptions.

I used an antique camera lens for all these photos; it has superb quality at a bargain price, and a few of these photos are the most optically sharp images I've ever captured. But there are problems with this lens: it deactivates the exposure meter, must be manually focused, and does not zoom, which forces me to actually think about how to use the camera properly, as well as making me move around more to get the best composition.

Fountain at The Jewel Box, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Lily pond with fountain, in front of the Jewel Box.

Fountain, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

A nearby fountain.

Typically, I color balance my camera so that (as much as possible) subjects that in fact are white, black, or gray, are also neutral in the final image. However, I kept my color balance fixed for all these photos, which ought to give you an impression of the color of the light from the rising sun.

Old Vandeventer Place gates, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

These gates marked the entrance to the former Vandeventer Place private street. The neighborhood had its heyday in the 1890s, but soon succumbed to urban decay. A Veterans Administration hospital now stands in its place, and these limestone gates were relocated here as a picturesque garden decoration.

Korean War Memorial, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

The Korean War Memorial is a sundial, made of stainless steel. Dedicated in 1989, this sculpture commemorates the 54,246 Americans who perished in the Korean War. Its inscription is from Terence, Diem adimere aegritudinem hominibus. It was designed by Brother Mel Meyer of the Society of Mary (the Marianists), who resides at Vianney High School in suburban Saint Louis County.

Lotus plants, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Lotus seedpods.

Statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, by Carl Christian Mose, 1962.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital, as seen from Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Tall buildings flank the park's eastern and western edges. Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Aviation Field, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

At the far end of Aviation Field is a former aircraft hanger, which until recently was used to stable the horses of the Saint Louis Mounted Police.

Planetarium, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

The Planetarium is a part of the Saint Louis Science Center. An enclosed pedestrian bridge, not seen here, connects this structure with the rest of Science Center, which sits across Highway 40 south of the Park.

Designed by Gyo Obata and completed in 1963, this structure epitomizes the style of High Modernism, with Obata being perhaps one of its foremost practitioners. One of the ironies of Modernism is that the best examples of the style are by those who had a grounding in the orthodox artistic tradition (reflected in this building's Latinate name and Euclidian form); when architecture schools divorced themselves from the past and replaced truth with Marxist ideology, the resulting products likewise suffered. But the recovery is underway.

Hydrant spewing water into lake, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

The River des Peres once flowed through Forest Park, but it was prone to flooding and much of the land was swamp. The stretch of this creek that goes through the Park now is underground in concrete tunnels. However, artificially maintained watercourses now flow through the lowland in the park. A few years ago, the artificial ditches looked rather unattractive, but vegetation has made the area picturesque.

Yellow flowers, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Wildflowers now cover areas that were bare dirt just a few years ago. In late Summer, it seems that nearly all wildflowers in this region are yellow, and are of the Compositae (or Asteraceae) family of plants that include the daisies and sunflowers.

Yellow flowers 2, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

River, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Wildflowers backlit by sunlight, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Water lily, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Water lily, as seen from a walkway over the water.

Victorian footbridge, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Victorian footbridge, dating from 1885.

Bridge over Metrolink, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Two highways and a railroad go through the park, making some parts almost inaccessible and disjointed from the rest of the park. This bridge goes over a railroad track, now used by the Metrolink light rail.

Fall colors, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Early Fall colors.

See the article Forest Park at Sunset.

Forest Park at Sunset

FOREST PARK, in Saint Louis, Missouri, at 1,371 acres, is the largest park in the City, and it is one of the earliest, and dating from 1876.

The park was founded not too long after the decisive victory of the North in the American Civil War; as this victory was apparently won by mass-produced weapons rather than by courage, so it was believed that strong manufacturing was essential for the future security and growth of the Republic. This meant that the cities were to grow to immense size. The often ugly and squalid conditions found in big cities led to the development of large public parks, which offer a retreat from urban noise, crowds, and pollution.

See the companion article Forest Park at Sunrise.

River, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Forest Park is home to the zoo, and the art and history museums, as well as golf courses and ball fields, but here I will concentrate my photos on the watercourses that snake through the park. Once the valley of the River des Peres, these picturesque waterways are artificially maintained via pumped water, while the actual river runs through concrete tubes underground.

River 2, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

These photos were taken around sunset, about a week ago.

I fixed the white balance of the camera to ‘daylight’, so that my viewers can get some idea of the changing color of light as the day waned. Also, I used an antique fixed-focal length lens, so all these photos have similar perspective and compression of distance.

River 3, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

The Park Plaza Apartments, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - view from Forest Park,

The Park Plaza. The east and west sides of the park are lined with tall buildings.

Hospital, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - view from Forest Park,

A hospital.

Fountain, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

A fountain, in the middle of Round Lake.

River 4, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Forest Parkway, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

The Forest Parkway runs through the park.

River 5, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Suspension bridge, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

A suspension bridge. This is one of my favorite photos from that evening. Where are Monet and his water lilies?

World's Fair Pavilion, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

World's Fair Pavilion.

Paddleboats, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Paddleboaters enjoy the evening. These are available for rent at the Boathouse. However, consider renting a rowboat instead; the paddleboats are very uncomfortable to paddle if you are tall or heavy.

Suspension bridge 2, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Paddleboats 2, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

More paddleboaters.

River 6, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Waterfall, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

A constructed waterfall.

Waterfall 2, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Yellow flowers, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Is this goldenrod?

Paddleboats 3, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

More boats in the Grand Basin. In the background is the large lawn of Art Hill, used in Winter for sledding: hay bales are placed along the lake edge to stop out-of-control sleds from plunging into the lake.

Art Museum, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Art Hill rises up to the Saint Louis Art Museum. In front is a statue of Saint Louis IX, King of France.

Also see my article Forest Park at Sunrise.