Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Hymn for the Faithful Departed

As others may have noted, Christians have been dying for about two thousand years now. Given this fact, one would think there would be more hymns suitable for All Souls Day. But I have found very few. In 2008 All Souls Day fell on a Sunday and this help to focus my mind on the theme. I found a suitable text, written by an Anglican missionary (onetime chaplain to the Bishop of Zanzibar) who first composed the lyrics in Swahili before making his own translation into English. A setting of the beautiful text to a tune of my own devising may be found here.

Jesus, Son of Mary, fount of life alone,
here we hail thee present on thine altar-throne.
Humbly we adore thee, Lord of endless might,
in the mystic symbols veiled from earthly sight.

Think, O Lord, in mercy on the souls of those
who, in faith gone from us, now in death repose.
Here 'mid stress and conflict toils can never cease;
there, the warfare ended, bid them rest in peace.

Often were they wounded in the deadly strife;
heal them, good Physician, with the balm of life.
Every taint of evil, frailty and decay,
good and gracious Savior, cleanse and purge away.

Rest eternal grant unto them, after weary fight;
shed on them the radiance of thy heavenly light.
Lead them onward, upward, to the holy place,
where thy saints made perfect gaze upon thy face.

Words: Edmund S. Palmer, 1902, 1906
based on the author's original text in Swahili

Thursday, January 22, 2009

All Will Be Well

I moved into the present rectory in the latter part of 2007 and have been learning about the wonders of well water ever since. I live in a strange liminal region of Columbus, known as The Land That Time Forgot. In TLTTF, many of the normal laws of human living do not apply. For example: while the church is in the City of Columbus, the rectory, on the other side of the street, is not. Thus, no city water or sewer. For some time now I have been concerned that the well pump was running too often and too long. On Sunday morning, shortly before 7 a.m., when I had finished washing and shaving, the system failed. The pump ran and ran and could not build up any pressure whatever. Paradoxically, the upstairs toilet, which has a pressurized flushing system called the "Flushorama" (if memory serves) was able to spray a couple gallons of water all over the floor at the same time that I turned off the pump. I quickly mopped it up, dried off my shoes, and ran over the Church for the first of the three Sunday Masses. After the last Mass on Sunday was celebrated and the usual crowd of people clustered around the sacristy door had dissipated, I went back to the rectory to consult with Mike the Plumber. We decided to try to prime the pump. To that end we went back across the street and filled various containers with thirty gallons of water and poured same down the pump. Nothing. It appeared that the check valve at the bottom of the well pump had failed. That meant we would have to extract the pipe that goes 30 or 60 feet down into the earth. Great. We appointed Tuesday afternoon to work on the well. There was a funeral Monday so I got up early and went to a neighboring parish to shower. On Tuesday morning I went ot the church office and cleaned up there in campground fashion. On Tuesday afternoon we opened up the well pit outside and found a broken pipe staring us in the face, only 5 feet down. Good news! I climbed into the pit with a hacksaw and cut out the broken section of pipe. Then one of our dedicated volunteers took my place in the pit and installed a coupling. There is not much room to maneuver in there and it took him about an hour (see video). It was all worth it in the end. Next time you turn the faucet and water comes out, be grateful.
By the way some have suggested that we connect the house to city water. That is possible. But the "tap fees" alone would be around 5000 dollars. That does not include any of the work to dig up the ground and install any plumbing. So we will make do with the well for the present.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

dramatic announcement!

My almost-but-not-quite done presentation, "Salus in the Missale Romanum" is almost ready for delivery at the annual meeting of the Society for Catholic Liturgy at the end of this month. See you there!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's all in your head!

As a boy I was blessed to be able to spend a fair amount of time with older relatives during periodic visits to family in Illinois. They were a hard-working lot who had to work hard because they didn't have much money. Taking time off from work because you didn't feel well was rarely an option. Consequently they gave an unsympathetic ear to anyone who claimed to be sick. "It's all in your head" was the usual response to someone who thought he might have a cold, a sore throat, a cerebral hemorrhage -- all malingering. My father, who inherited this bedside manner unmollified, forbade my siblings and me to have allergies. When I tell this to others they are sceptical. "What do you mean, you weren't allowed to have allergies?" they ask. It's not as if Dad said outright "no one in this house will have an allergy." His method showed more cunning than that. We had a number of cousins who had to take shots because of allergies. Like all children, we feared the needle. So, if one of us exhibited any such pantywaist behavior as sniffing, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, and said, "I think I'm allergic to (fill in blank)" all Dad had to say was "Do you want to give yourself shots every day like your cousins?"
"NO!" we screamed.
"Then shut up."

Having been brought up in this sensible fashion, I was smugly pleased to find the paternal philosophy vindicated by a recent study indicating a correlation between reported allergies in children and parental hysteria. While third world kids breathe easy, the children of wealthy left-wing slackers are threatened by death every time their Mexican nanny opens a jar of Jif. Here, read about it for yourself.