Till We Have Faces

I miss the human face…don’t you?

Should You Wear a Surgical Mask? Read the Latest Guidelines | Allure

Isn’t it interesting how that is? Did you think you would ever miss the human face? Who would ever have guessed it?

What is about the face that is so important?

I suppose it’s the mouth and the cheeks and the chin.

Pin on Baby Photo Ideas

It really is difficult to communicate with other people who do not have a mouth or cheeks or a chin. What is it exactly?

Obviously, it is difficult to communicate with someone who has no mouth or an obstructed mouth.

In Michigan, mandatory masks a flash point for violence amid ...

I have never been quite so conscious of the extent to which I myself communicate with more than my voice.

Tin can telephone - Wikipedia

Jokes or any kind of irony become impossible without a face!

Imagine what Owen Wister’s “The Virginian” would have done if this jerk did not have a face?!

Normal, ordinary human communication requires a face. So does extraordinary and even life and death communication!

The beauty of the world, the beauty of life itself is distinctly tied up with the human face.

Mother Teresa - Quotes, Death & Saint - Biography

Who doesn’t love the eyes? But suddenly I have realized that the eyes are housed in a face.

I have heard it said that the human body is the most beautiful thing in God’s earthly creation. And further that the human face is the pinnacle of beauty that crowns the body. Somehow it is the face of a person that is most beautiful.

Michelangelo's David Wallpapers - Wallpaper Cave

In some way the beauty of the entire universe of created matter is expressed most completely in the human face. That is to say that consummate beauty, the beauty that makes daily living joyful and fulfilling is all tied up in the face of other human beings.

Not So Secret: Letters Between John Paul II and a Woman

I can’t wait till we have faces!

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Stop Saying Health is a Common Good!

Has there ever been an epoch in human history in which greater service, more profound obeisance, deeper devotion has been paid to the very end and purpose of all creation- the common good?

University of St. Thomas : Life | LinkedIn

Or maybe not?

Let’s remind ourselves quickly about what the common good is.

God is the common good. God is that good which we can share with one another, whom we can possess, to whom we can unite ourselves, in whom we can participate all without diminishing Him.

By way of contrast, when we share a box of ice cream it only goes so far. The more people that share it, the less there is for each. But the common good is a good that can be shared without diminution.

Teach Your Kids About Taxes, Eat 30% Of Their Ice Cream - NestEggRx

Another interesting thing about the common good is that it is common.

The ice cream you eat is not common. Your ice cream is not my ice cream even if it came from the same box. Not so when we “share” God. Even when shared, God remains common to all. The God that I possess in Holy Communion is none other than the God that every Christian possesses.

In recent months we have been asked to make sacrifices for the common good. Out of an abundance of caution and for the common good are ubiquitous phrases which immediately signal the unpleasant reality that something will be imminently discontinued, like free samples at Costco, or that something will be denied like public attendance at Holy Mass.

If you go to Costco for the free food samples you will be ...

The archdiocese of Chicago, like most dioceses throughout the country cancelled public attendance at Masses invoking the common good, saying,

…we make this sacrifice for the common good, convinced that we, like all citizens, have a responsibility in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Bishop Zubick of the Pittsburg Diocese even invoked the common good in reference to the curtailing of Lenten fish fries! He said,

[I] trust that the leadership of every parish is going to make a decision based on what’s important for the common good.

I don’t know about you, but I have been programmed to follow any order, any prescription, any injunction no matter how drastic or demanding just as long as the words “for the common good” are contained somewhere in the injunction.

If you said to me.

“Langley, we need you jump out of the airplane with no parachute…for the common good!”

What If You Jump Out Of A Plane Without A Parachute?

Well then, I would count myself a coward of no worth whatsoever to refuse! It’s like those Australian soldiers at Gallipoli. When the whistle blew they all leapt up out of the trenches into the very teeth of enemy Gatling guns.

Machine Gun - Terrifying Weapons of War

They all knew, every last one of them, that stepping out of trench would gain them each an almost instantaneous death. When that whistle blew, did they hesitate? Did they refuse?

No! Each one of them leapt up and died knowing (at least he thought he knew) he was fighting and dying for the common good. Regardless of what one may think about whether World War I was waged for just reasons, at least those lowly Australian soliders were convinced that in dying they were going to merit a hero’s reward. And I think they did!

File:Soldiers in trench.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

But the point we are currently making, is that when one is ordered to do something for the common good, every valiant soul who has the courage of one of those soliders at Gallipoli, or who is as brave as one of those 300 Spartan Hoplites at Thermopylae (commanded by the fearless King Leonidas in 480 BC),


every such a one, I say, would leap to the task at hand no matter how unpleasant, and strive to accomplish it with might and main…but mostly because it is all to be done for the common good!

Now when it comes to health we need to make a distinction. On the one hand, let us acknowledge that we all ought to be willing to take steps to protect our own health and the health of others.


Because health is a good thing. It’s good for people to be healthy.

But is health a common good? No. Health is a private good.

Human Goods and Moral Precepts - ppt download

Health is a good of the body and is distinctly particular to each person. One person’s health is no more another person’s health than is one person’s beauty the same as another person’s beauty. True, health is not diminished when more than one person has it. But neither does each person share the same health. Health is not shared; it is not common.

It could be that restrictions on liberty and requirements like ‘lockdowns,’ are sacrifices with which reasonable people might comply, at least for a time.

With quirks and restrictions, many states lift lockdowns

But when such requests are made under the guise that these things are required for the sake of the common good, then we overplay the force of the request and ultimately trivialize the common good. To invoke the common good is nothing more than to invoke the highest motivation for which any human being ought to act. But if that good is not the highest good, then it is right to ask questions about what we should sacrifice for it.

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Clarence, Get Me Back! I Want to Live Again!

Well, this certainly has been an exciting experiment! But to be perfectly honest, as they say, I have seen enough.

Sunset Gun: Merry Christmas: It's a Wonderful Life

Whereas Frank Capra’s George Bailey was granted the experience (thanks to his guardian angel!) of seeing what life would be like without him, we have been ‘granted’ the opposite experience (by some darker power), the horrible vision of seeing what we are like without life!

We all now have some taste of the lifeless life, and it is anything but sweet!


The peculiar mark of the artistic genius is the ability to capture the universal in the particular; the artistic genius makes something very large, something important, even something infinite, incarnate in a relatively small thing like a painting, a block of marble or, in this case, a two-hour black and white movie.

And so Capra managed to encapsulate the beauty of life, with its concomitant sufferings and joys, in the life of an ordinary man named George. If he accomplished nothing else, Capra shows us why life is worth living. He shows us what life is and why it is wonderful.

And what is life?

Life is sledding down dangerous hills perilously close to an icy death (where were the parents!?).

Its A Wonderful Life Christmas Movies GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Life is walking and whistling down the public street locked arm in arm with close friends,

25 Questions "It's A Wonderful Life" Left Unanswered

Life is packing into an old jalopy with no seatbelts and way too many kids and a goat to drive to one’s new home!

The Bedford Falls Sentinel - An It's a Wonderful Life Blog: Enter ...

Life is standing shoulder to shoulder with others to confront irrational panic!

NH Credit Unions: Open & offering hardship programs during crisis ...

Life is about coming together to weep and pray…

Yarn | On V-J day, he wept and prayed again. ~ It's a Wonderful ...

celebrating and maybe even taking up a collection…

It's a Wonderful Life' Movie Facts | Mental Floss

and singing Auld Lang Syne (even in flu season!).

25 Questions "It's A Wonderful Life" Left Unanswered

At the top of the list of “most inspirational movies of all time,” Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life reminds us that life is wonderful and worthwhile not because of how we live safely apart from one another, albeit in a sterilized environment.

Even though he was headed for jail, through no fault of his own, George Bailey could not restrain his exuberance…because Zu Zu’s petals were real.

It's a Wonderful Life and the Courage to Live (and Create Art ...

I want to live again, don’t you? 

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) | The Film Spectrum

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Why Scientists Are Still Trustworthy

Let’s not think poorly of the scientists and epidemiological statisticians for scaring the hell out of the American public by their prediction of a possible 2,200,000 deaths in the United States. Plus, doesn’t it feel so much better that we are predicting only 60,000 deaths?

White House Takes New Line After Dire Report on Death Toll - The ...

Actually, after coming down from 2.2 million, I was feeling rather exuberant about the 100,000 – 240,000 death range. I said to myself, “Well, I guess I can live with that!” Only 240,000 people are going to die…that’s not really so bad now is it?

But then when they told us a week later that “Hey, it’s only going to be 60K” I thought
“Wow! Sold! It’s a deal!”

As Trump Imagines '2.2 Million Deaths' From COVID-19 in the U.S. ...

If this is not part of the scientific method yet, then let’s go ahead and add it in as a crucial step.

Scientific Method

  1. Gather data and perform observations
  2. Make an inflated hypothesis about ‘rates’ (e.g. profitability, temperature increase, costs, population increase, mortality, etc.)
  3. Test hypothesis
  4. Collect new data and downgrade hypothesis by factors of 10


Using the Scientific Method to Create Continuous Improvement ...

Remember, the scientists responsible for the “Imperial College Study,” suggesting 2.2 million deaths, made this prediction only under the assumption that so many deaths might occur should no precautions whatsoever be taken to avoid catching and spreading the disease. So, admitting that these catastrophic numbers were responsible for the destruction of the American economy, let us not be angry with the scientists who were really only “throwing them out there” as a sort of intentional outside-worst-case-scenario projection.

After all, as the governor of New York said, 

If everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.

What a noble sentiment! And the governor does show us how to prioritize our values, doesn’t he? Who is there that would be so callous as to value a twenty-two trillion-dollar economy over one human life? What kind of cold-hearted, mercenary, bourgeois, corporate individual would object to the idea of putting twenty-two million people out of work if we could just save one human life? And does anyone really think it is fair to counter this noble idea by speculating about the inevitable cost of committing economic suicide in terms of human lives and misery? I don’t think so.

Andrew Cuomo - Wikipedia

Now about those masks.

Let’s not draw attention to the fact that at first, the experts told us not to wear the masks, and that now we are being told the opposite.  So what!? Who cares if scientists change their minds and say one thing this week that contradicts what was said last week? Why would anyone use this kind of silly reasoning to make an attack on the absolute trust that everyone should place in science?

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After all, first, they told us that the sun went around the earth, and rose and set every evening, and then they tell us that actually none of that is true and that really the earth goes around the sun!

Tom Haney --- Atlanta --- Automata, Kinetic Art

Which is all just to say that if I am told not to wear a mask by an expert, I will not wear a mask. If that same expert tells me a week later to wear a mask, then I will wear a mask. It’s that simple. Thankfully, we don’t all have to think these things out for ourselves!

Actually, that is one of the gratifying things about living in such a scientific age. Really, we are all very lucky to be living in this period of enlightenment especially since there is no chance of anyone – anyone except the experts – of really knowing what is going on!

Now, one of the things that should give everyone confidence about the rigorous data that is being collected with our current pandemic is the fact that we will simply not tolerate the underreporting of the COVID 19 mortality rate here in these good ole U.S. of A!

Contrary to the sloppy job they did over there in China where apparently only 17 or so people died from the disease since December 2019, we (thankfully here in the West!) will not put up with inaccuracy and outrageous under-reporting! Everyone knows that the accurate collection of data is essential for good science. Therefore it felt especially good to hear that every death in which a suspicion or a tangential connection of any sort to the mere possibility of a COVID 19 infection might be brought to bear will, in fact, be counted as a COVID 19 related mortality. If the unfortunate demised broke his neck falling down the stairs after sneezing, then that most assuredly would be a COVID 19 fatality.

By generously erring on the side of reporting most (if not all) deaths as COVID 19 mortality cases, we will certainly not miss a COVID 19 mortality. I think it is safe to say that when the final mortality rate is reported for this scourge, we will all be able to say confidently that our data has certainly not left any COVID 19 mortality out in the cold. It is possible that someone might object that our final number is double or triple or at least somewhat inflated, but no one will accuse us of having underreported, which is the far greater sin in my view. I am, of course, speaking not as an epidemiologist but rather as a sort of theologian (i.e. someone who engages in the highest science). When speaking about God, for example, one simply cannot over-report His Greatness! The sin is in minimizing Him!

FACT CHECK: Peer-Reviewed Study Proves All Recent Global Warming ...

I think it is also re-assuring that hospitals will be paid more to put COVID 19 patients on a ventilator. Nothing ensures scientific precision and accuracy more than financial incentives! I think it is unhelpful to object that ventilators might be overused just because Medicare will pay the hospital $39,000 every time they put a patient on a ventilator. Similarly, it is unhelpful to object that ventilators might be over-used or even damaging to a COVID 19 victim. This is not the time to bicker about ventilators!

Actually, this strategy is win-win for everybody! On the one hand, we can celebrate our success by making great strides in reducing mortality rates from cardiac arrest, while at the same time we can reward hospitals with $39,000 every time they put someone on a ventilator!

Pindar, the great poet, would be proud of our age if for no other reason than that we so excellently embody the truth of his famous statement when he said,

Νόμος ὁ πάντων βασιλεύς

θνατῶν τε καὶ ἀθανάτων

ἄγει δικαιῶν τὸ βιαιότατον

ὑπερτάτᾳ χειρί. τεκμαίρομαι

By which he meant something like,

Custom is the king of all, of mortals and immortals and Custom guides us with its sovereign hand justifying the utmost violence.

Thankfully, we who live in the twenty-first century,  unlike those who lived in the hazy fifth century before Christ, enjoy the enlightening and illuminating air of granular metrics. Thankfully we, unlike Pindar and his superstitious contemporaries who lived under the sway of an entire pantheon of sometimes cruel deities major and minor,

Bas-relief And Sculpture Of Ancient Roman Gods Stock Photo ...

we (happy denizens of the twenty-first century!) live safely under the protection and guidance of expert modelers and scientists!

Scientists at the Research Institute for Advanced Studies (RIAS ...


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Easter 2020!

Ahh, the joy of waking up on Easter Sunday morning and discovering the table magically adorned with flowers and gifts! We will let the pictures do the talking, from early morning to brunch to dinner. 


Ordinarily, someone paints the Easter candle but a little paper, tape, and some colored markers suffice.


Lucy made this year’s fruit salad. Berries have a funny way of gradually disappearing in the days leading up the fruit salad.



I think the Blanc de Blanc from Trader Joe’s is an acceptable bubbly for the Mimosas- and of course a couple of those strawberries


Hollandaise in the making.





This year’s Easter pastry was a star-shaped chocolate sweet bread of sorts. Here it is directly before getting baked.



We opted to cut some thick ham slices to put over the tomatoes for our Eggs Blackstone.


Meanwhile, the table was set and ready for action.




Now comes the fun- and of course timing is everything.











Here is my plate- the avocado was a pure extra!


Thankfully we were able to finish brunch before noon- and so there was plenty of time to build up a late dinner appetite. This year we returned to Beef Wellington. Underneath that lush covering of Phyllo dough lies a beautiful fat-covered rib roast! IMG_4626


Here is the Wellington resting a little



A little too dark to see, but this is a nice mug of gravy.





Happy Easter!


Posted in beauty, breakfast, Easter, Feasts, Fine Arts | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Easter Morning with Claudio Casciolini

Part One and Two of Easter Sunday morning Mass. (unfortunately, the live feed was interrupted after the second reading and so the sequence -Victimae Paschali as well as the Gospel were cut)

With fond remembrance for my old organ and piano teacher Jerry Philips who arranged the three-part setting of the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei by Claudio Casciolini. This arrangement is perfect for a small choir.

Part two picks up next! Some of the musical high lights include the rest of the “Casciolini Mass,” my current favorite and easy Regina Coeli by Juan Garcia de Salazar, the Regina Coeli Jubila that can be found in the revered Pius X Hymnal, and the ancient chant “O Filii et Filiae

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Feasting on Holy Thursday!

We always have a big feast on Holy Thursday. I suppose this is one of the clever tactics that my family has developed over the years in order to cope with–  and build up resources for the imminent fasting on Good Friday. After all Good Friday is the second of the only two official fast days of the year!

I suppose I should include a disclaimer here, to the effect that, as we are Catholics, we do in fact believe that the traditional Seder supper has been fulfilled and supplanted by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. And that the Seder meal, in fact, is a foreshadowing of the Mass. And so I freely admit that when the veil of the temple was ripped from top to bottom, the Mosaic ceremonial law was then pretty much abrogated and therefore ceremonies such as the Seder meal are also part of that abrogation.

I am not certain if I have made a sufficient apology, but the fact is, we just love Matzo and horseradish!

So here is what we did. We started off with the Mustard Greens from our local Heinen’s Supermarket which is famous for its fresh produce and meats!


My daughter Christine made the Haroset. A foundational food indeed!


Seldom do we eat hard-boiled eggs at dinner, but we all agreed we should do this more often, especially with the creamy horseradish.


I always enjoy seeing the matzo alone on the plate at the beginning. Another foundational food.


Of course, Lamb makes the meal especially something to look forward to after a lengthy Lent.


Sparkly grape juice for the kids.


Unfortunately, I will have to wait for Saturday to finish this left-over chunk of lamb.


Finally, (thanks to my daughter Mary!) the coconut covered lamb cake representing The Lamb that was slain on the cross!


Posted in Easter, Feasts, The Passion | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Mass of The Lord’s Supper 9 April 2020

Although there was no Mandatum tonight (i.e. washing of feet ceremony) nor Eucharistic procession in which the blessed sacrament is reposed in a separate tabernacle, we still managed to get the Ubi Caritas sung at around 33:57.

Holy Thursday is just not complete unless Ubi Caritas is sung!

(The video starts at around 6 minutes)

Other treats included the O Esca Viatorum (a fairly popular setting) at 50:48.

For the ordinary of the Mass we sang the Missa Sancti Phillipi Nerensis by Massachusetts composer Paul Jernberg (“The Mass of Saint Philip Neri”)

Happy Holy Thursday!

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Today, Sing “Ubi Caritas!”

Today, Holy Thursday, is the day for singing the ancient chant Ubi Caritas!

UBI caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exultemus, et in ipso iucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.

Which I translate freely,

Where charity and love are, there is God. The love of Christ has gathered us into one. Let us exult, and let us take delight in Him. Let us fear and let us love the living God. Let us love out of a sincere heart.

This of course is only the first verse. But it is beautiful! And totally appropriate for today’s feast!

Apparently this chant was composed sometime between the fourth century and the twelfth century. Now how is that for historical precision?

Image result for ubi caritas

According to one, Mr. Aaron Green,

What began as a Gregorian chant that some music scholars believe originated before the formation of the Catholic Mass, “Ubi Caritas” (“Where Charity Is”) has evolved into many iterations and compositions. The actual origin of the chant is unknown and ambiguous, although musicologists and researchers believe it was written between 300 and 1100 CE

I am not sure what Mr. Green means by “before the formation of the Catholic Mass,” given that Our Lord formed and instituted the “Catholic Mass” on the Thursday before he died.

Image result for last supper

In Sacrosanctum Concilium we read,

47. At the Last Supper, on the night when He was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity [36], a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us [37].

Nonetheless, when I open my Liber Usualis (“The Usual Book” which contains all the normative and usual Gregorian chant that anyone would ever need- except of course in unusual times and circumstances!)

Image result for liber usualis

I find Ubi Caritas, on page 664, as the last antiphon offered to be sung during the washing of the feet ritual. There appear to be at least nine (yes, count’em, nine!) different antiphons that can be sung during this ceremony.

Now it seems ambiguous to me (are we really supposed to sing them all?), but the instructions in my Liber says,

After the Gospel, whilst the Priest performs the ceremony of the washing of the feet, the following chants are sung.

I have always admired the choir that can sing all nine antiphons before the priest washes twelve feet. Perhaps this is an indication of how much time the priest should spend washing each foot. Or, speaking as a choirmaster with nine antiphons and psalm versicles to sing, maybe there should be mandatory policy that requires washing both feet! With twenty-four feet to be washed, I think we could squeeze in all those antiphons and maybe even repeat a couple.

Image result for catholic feet washing

Who composed the prayer? Who composed the music? When precisely was it composed?

Although Ubi Caritas is certainly among the most beautiful hymns in the chant repertoire, this side of heaven we will never know the answers.

UBI caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exultemus, et in ipso iucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.

UBI caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur:
Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus.
Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites.
Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus.

UBI caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul quoque cum beatis videamus,
Glorianter vultum tuum, Christe Deus:
Gaudium quod est immensum, atque probum,
Saecula per infinita saeculorum. Amen.

Posted in beauty, Easter, Feasts, Sacred Music, Sacrosanctum Consilium, The Mass, The Passion | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tenebrae 8 April 2020

Heading into the Triduum – this Tenebrae Service provides a lovely Spiritual warm-up for Holy Thursday. I am thankful for the help that my wife and children provided in singing the various psalms and motets.

Among the motets sung (as responsories) were Palstrina’s Vide Domine, his O Bone Jesu, Richard Farrant’s Lord For Thy Tender Mercy’s Sake, and the Victoria Popule Meus. (I am going to lay the blame for the lack of a tenor squarely on the shoulders of the COVID 19 Panic.) I still thought they all came off pretty well as three-part motets.

(Those of you who are big fans of the “Strepitus” – you are in for a treat at around 53:30 or thereabouts)

It is helpful to use the handout – in order to hear the words of the psalms and the Lamentations of Jeremiah a little better.


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