29 June 2009

Solemn Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, Apostles

Now I know in very deed, that the Lord hath sent His Angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

The Apostles Peter and Paul are the two Princes of the Apostles, the foundations of the Church, on which she is firmly established as on a rock. This feast is almost entirely devoted to St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome, the great Apostle of the Gentiles being more specially honored on June 30. The lessons and prayers of this Mass describe how his Lord and Master Jesus Christ prepared the fervent Apostle, St. Peter, for the supreme office of the Papacy. This feast marks the day of the translation of their relics.

Today is the solemn closure of the Pauline Year marking the 20th centenary of the holy Apostle's birth in anno Domini 8 or 9. As such, a Plenary Indulgence is available under the following conditions:

"The Christian faithful of the various local Churches, having fulfilled the required conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion, prayers for the Supreme Pontiff's intentions) and in a spirit of total detachment from any inclination to sin, may benefit from the Plenary Indulgence if they take part devoutly in a sacred function or in a pious public exercise in honour of the Apostle to the Gentiles; on the days of the solemn opening and closure of the Pauline Year, in all the sacred places; on other days specified by the local Ordinary, in holy places dedicated to St Paul and, for the convenience of the faithful, in other places designated by the same Ordinary."

Special Indulgences are conceded to faithful on the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of the birth of St Paul the Apostle.
~Apostolic Penitentiary, 10 May 2008.

28 June 2009

Vigil of the Apostles Ss. Peter and Paul

The Lord said to Peter: When thou wast younger, thou didst gird thyself, and didst walk where thou wouldst: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldst not: and this He said, signifying by what death he should glorify God.

After Divine Liturgy in the morning, Henri asked us and some other students if we would like to join him for an excursion to Stift Admont, a Benedictine monastery about an hour south of Gaming.

The largest monastery library in Europe

The monastery church

Leaving Admont, we headed further West for about an hour and a half to Hallstatt to have dinner. Hallstatt is a small mining town famous for its ancient Celtic roots and its fabulous scenery.

The Hallstättersee

The town center

From the Catholic church, which is up on the hillside, there is a great view of the town and lake beneath. The steeple belongs to the Protestant church, which is on the lakeside.
The cemetery overlooking the lake

Happy 21st, Richie

26 June 2009

The End of the Kartuase Era

Today we passed our final inspection. Architect Hildebrand and his wife checked every room of the Kartause, emptyed and cleaned over the past six weeks by yours truly et al., and were quite impressed. It remains for us only to clear out a few last items into the big moving containers tomorrow, and then we say good-bye to the beautiful historic Kartause.

Actually, though, we'll see plenty of it until the very end of September, because we still have our flat above the Spar. We'll spend the next week here, and then when Lisa and the kids depart for Michigan I'll stay here here in Gaming in seclusion and try to learn some German, maybe study for the GRE, and write a Masters thesis. Two weeks should be about enough, right? On the 15th of July apartments supposedly become available for us in Trumau and I'll try to move some things in to prepare for the return of the family and the arrival of Peter and Sara on the 17th.

24 June 2009

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

The Lord hath called me by my name from the womb of my mother, and He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He hath protected me, and hath made me as a chosen arrow.

Today is a first class (solemn) feast day, and one of only three feast days in the whole ecclesiastical calender which celebrate natural birthdays. The other two are the births of Christ (Dec. 25) and Mary (Sept. 8), who together with St. John are the only three human beings ever to be born without the stain of original sin. Christ and our Lady, of course, were conceived without sin, while the Baptist was sanctified in the womb by the presence of our Lord and Lady at the Visitation.

St. John said of Christ, that "He must increase, but I must decrease" (Jn. 3:30). Appropriately, then, our Lord's birthday comes at the Winter Solstice when the days begin to increase, while St. John's comes at the Summer Solstice when the days begin to decrease.

23 June 2009

Vigil of St. John the Baptist

Fear not, Zachary; thy prayer is heard, and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John; and he shall be great before the Lord, and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

The ever informative Fish Eaters tipped us off to the fact that huge bonfires are customary in celebration of the "burning and shining light" (Jn 5:35) who came to announce the advent of the Messiah. There is even a special blessing given in the Rituale Romanum (1962):

On the Vigil of the Birthday of St. John the Baptist
Conferred by the clergy outside of church

In the Church's veneration of her saints the cult of John the Baptist had from earliest times and continues to have a most prominent and honored place. John gave testimony of the true light that shines in the darkness, although he proclaimed in utter humility: "He must increase, but I must decrease." And the Master also spoke in highest praise of His precursor: "I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist." Attuned to the words of the Gospel the Christians of former times were filled with love and enthusiasm for this saint, and expressed a justifiable conviviality at the approach of his feastday by lighting a bonfire the night before in front of their churches, in the market-place, on the hilltops, and in the valleys. The custom of St. John bonfires, indicative of a people with unabashed and childlike faith, continues in some places to this day.

Priest: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.

Priest: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.

Priest: Let us pray. Lord God, almighty Father, the light that never fails and the source of all light, sanctify this new fire, and grant that after the darkness of this life we may come unsullied to you who are light eternal; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

The fire is sprinkled with holy water; after which the clergy and the people sing the hymn Ut queant laxis.

Priest: Let us pray. God, who by reason of the birth of blessed John have made thisday praiseworthy, give your people the grace of spiritual joy,and keep the hearts of your faithful fixed on the way that leadsto everlasting salvation; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

Needless to say, I was bound and determined to have a bonfire, come hell or high water... And high water came. It's been raining for days, and in fact, the river here in town is quite close to spilling over its banks. But we got that fire blazing, even if only barely long enough to have it blessed. It was spectacular; we all got soaked.

21 June 2009

To our dear Fathers...

I think that should read "Fathers' Day," though, rather than "Father's Day."

John Zmirak visits Austria

Andrew Cusack tipped me off to the fact that John Zmirak (co-author of the Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, and Song), has just wrapped up a trip to Austria. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to meet, but he offers some interesting reflections (with which I couldn't be more sympathetic) on Praying with the Kaisers. I give you his opening paragraphs:

"As I'm writing this column at the tail end of my first trip to Vienna, some of you who've read me before might expect a bittersweet love note to the Habsburgs - a tear-stained column that splutters about Blessed Karl and "good Kaiser Franz Josef," calls this a "pilgrimage" like my 2008 trip to the Vatican, and celebrates the dynasty that for centuries, with almost perfect consistency, upheld the material interests and political teachings of the Church, until by 1914 it was the only important government in the world on which the embattled Pope Pius X could rely for solid support. Then I'd rant for a while about how the Empire was purposely targeted by the messianic maniac Woodrow Wilson, whose Social Gospel was the prototype for the poison that drips today from the White House onto the dome of Notre Dame.

"And you would be right. That's exactly what I plan to say - so dyed-in-the-wool Americanists who regard the whole of the Catholic political past as a dark prelude to the blazing sun that was John Courtenay Murray (or John F. Kennedy) might as well close their eyes for the next 1,500 words - as they have to the past 1,500 years."

Read on at Inside Catholic.

19 June 2009

New Skills

Our rapidly developing children have added some new tricks to their respective repertoires. Maria, in a truly exciting new development, has learned to use the toilet without any assistance whatsoever. Start to finish, she is on her own. Since pictures of that would be somewhat undignified, here she is holding her little brother.

Thomas, meanwhile, at a slightly earlier stage of development, has mastered the art of rolling over from back to front - a much more difficult feat than rolling from front to back. Here he is in action:

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Feast of the Sacred Heart was established in order that the faithful might honor with more devotion and zeal, under the symbol of the Sacred Heart, the love of Jesus Christ, which induced Him not only to suffer and to die for the redemption of mankind, but also to institute the Sacrament of His Body and Blood in com-memoration of His death.

INTROIT (Ps. 32:11,19,1).
The thoughts of His Heart are from generation to generation: To deliver their souls from death, and feed them in famine. (Psalm) Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just: praise becometh the upright. Glory be to the Father... The thoughts...

Sacerdotal Year

Today's Solemn Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus opens the "Year for Priests" proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI in honor of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, the patron saints of all priests.

Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Proclaiming a Year for Priests (16 June 2009).

On the forthcoming Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday 19 June 2009 – a day traditionally devoted to prayer for the sanctification of the clergy –, I have decided to inaugurate a "Year for Priests" in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the dies natalis of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide. This Year, meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world, will conclude on the same Solemnity in 2010. "The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus", the saintly Curé of Ars would often say. This touching expression makes us reflect, first of all, with heartfelt gratitude on the immense gift which priests represent, not only for the Church, but also for humanity itself. I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ's words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world, striving to be one with the Lord in their thoughts and their will, their sentiments and their style of life. How can I not pay tribute to their apostolic labours, their tireless and hidden service, their universal charity? And how can I not praise the courageous fidelity of so many priests who, even amid difficulties and incomprehension, remain faithful to their vocation as "friends of Christ", whom he has called by name, chosen and sent?

Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Special Indulgence for the Year for Priests (25 April 2009).

~The Plenary Indulgence is granted to all the faithful who are truly repentant who, in church or in chapel, devoutly attend the divine Sacrifice of Mass and offer prayers to Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest, for the priests of the Church, and any other good work which they have done on that day, so that he may sanctify them and form them in accordance with His Heart, as long as they have made expiation for their sins through sacramental confession and prayed in accordance with the Supreme Pontiff's intentions: on the days in which the Year for Priests begins and ends, on the day of the 150th anniversary of the pious passing of St John Mary Vianney, on the first Thursday of the month or on any other day established by the local Ordinaries for the benefit of the faithful.

~The Partial Indulgence is granted to all the faithful every time they devoutly recite five Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glorias, or another expressly approved prayer, in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to obtain that priests be preserved in purity and holiness of life.

16 June 2009

Disabled List

Well, I've joined Katie and Elijah on the DL. It was a lower back strain on Tuesday in Trumau that did me in. Fortunately, it's just the 15 day DL for me, unlike Katie who is still on the 60 day DL.

14 June 2009

Second Sunday after Pentecost

We took a lengthly hike this afternoon to the top of nearby Gfoler Alm where there is a little farmhouse sitting in one of the many beautiful mountain meadows. The woman who lives there brought water and apple juice out to refresh us, as well as cheesebread, apple strudel, and coffee. It was really delightful, and we even managed to buy some fresh churned butter from her cows. But we are exhausted. Carrying these two kids up and down these mountains is getting pretty tiring.

And the Tigers are losing badly, so perhaps I'll throw in the towel and head to bed...

13 June 2009


Since our comrades all backed out on our planned trip to see the Grossglockner mountain in the Hoehe Tauern National Park, we decided to take a bus to nearby Lunz am See instead. A much tamer adventure, to be sure, but fun nonetheless. We made it to the Lunzersee by about 9:00 in the morning, and had the place all to ourselves. Almost as soon as we sat down on the shore to eat some breakfast, however, we noticed a large white swan swimming in our direction...

Feed me! Feed me!

Maria was absolutely terrified of the thing, which is quite understandable actually, considering that once it had climbed out of the water it was apparent how much bigger it was than she. After eating, we escaped the swan by renting a peddle-boat and heading out into the middle of the still empty lake.

11 June 2009

Feast of Corpus Christi

He fed them with the fat of corn, alleluia, and filled them with honey out of the rock, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. (Psalm) Rejoice to God our helper; sing aloud to the God of Jacob. Glory be to the Father... He fed them...

We drove from Trumau into Vienna to celebrate the great feast with Cardinal Schoenborn at the Stephansdom. It was a mixed experience, but mostly a very positive one. I say "mixed" because of the oddity of celebrating a twentieth century (modern) ritual with eighteenth century (baroque) music in a twelfth century (gothic) cathedral. Although the orchestral style of music is not the most appropriate for the Mass - that primacy belongs to gregorian chant, with sacred polyphony in the second place - it was great to hear Mozart in the cathedral of Vienna. Would that it had adorned the rite of Mass for which it was written.

After the Mass, the procession. As far as memory serves, this was, believe it or not, the first Corpus Christi procession that I've attended. Lisa has attended many, but I've had the misfortune either to have attended not a one, or to have attended one or many so forgettable as to be completely gone from memory. After such a preface I need hardly remark that I was greatly impressed by what I saw: a great public display of faith in our Lord's Presence in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. The huge procession began from the Stephansdom and wound its way through the city streets, stopping traffic all along the way.

The big guy in the middle was my favorite in the whole procession.

The priests who had concelebrated the Mass were appropriately vested in gothic chasubles.

The Cardinal carried our Lord beneath the canopy,
and behind a rather intimidating looking fellow.

We discovered that the ITI's own Christiaan is a Knight of Malta!
If you count heads from the left (ignoring the men in grey), he's the second one.

The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

10 June 2009

Schloss Trumau

Wednesday was a big moving day. A big truck arrived in Gaming in the morning and we loaded it up with furniture and then hopped in the vans and followed it to Trumau, the new home of the I.T.I. near Vienna. For more info on the move and the new location, see the I.T.I.'s website.

The Schloss (castle) which forms the centerpiece of the new campus is pictured to the left.

After unloading the truck and stashing the furniture in what will become the library of the school we moved ourselves in (about a dozen of us) to spend a couple of nights in the Schloss.

After settling in and getting cleaned up, we ate a lovely dinner (cooked by Lisa) on the back terrase overlooking the gardens. The gardens include cherry trees, pear trees, apricot trees, and apple trees; we found the cherries to be ripe and delicious, as well as the red currents, red raspberries, and gooseberries. Below are a couple of pictures of the terrase, a nice feature which Maria enjoyed a great deal.

07 June 2009

The Holy Trinity

Before the earth or moon or sun
Or stars began to be;
Before Creation was begun.
When all was empty space and none
Of anything or anyone
Could yet be seen, or see:
There always sat upon the Throne
That is, Eternally,
August, adorable, alone;

~ Old Testament Rhymes
by Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson

Trinity Sunday

Well, cool weather and tired bodies combined to keep us from any excursions this weekend. Looking out the windows at the rain, we feel pretty confident that a quiet Sunday at home was the right decision. This coming week should hold some more adventures in store for us. With the Feast of Corpus Christi on Thursday, we'll have only a three day work week; on Wednesday many of us will have to drive to Trumau to unload big moving trucks there, and then I think we'll probably spend the night there in order to spend the feast day in Vienna (I'm eager to celebrate the feast with the FSSP's Haus Sankt Leopold).

Then, the talk amongst the students here is to attempt a one or two day trip to the Hohe Tauern National Park in Carinthia and East Tyrol. The park features glaciers and hundreds of peaks over 3 km including the biggest mountain in all of Austria, the Grossglockner.

05 June 2009

Ember Friday

Today is both an Ember day (traditionally a day of fasting, abstinence, and prayer for good priests) and the first Friday of June. First Fridays in general as well as the whole month of June are dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so today is an especially appropriate day for devotions to the same. The Feast of the Sacred Heart is approaching on June 19th, two weeks from now, which is the day chosen by our Holy Father to begin a "sacerdotal year" in honor of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney. (n.b. indulgences are available - see here ;)

Our kids have been wracking up the milestones this week. First, I came home one day to discover that Maria had learned how to sommersault. "Winter-peppers" are the next challenge. Today she received her first tricycle. One of the families here that is packing up for the move to Trumau had no further use for it, so I brought it home for Maria. She was crazy excited.

Thomas, meanwhile, has begun to eat (relatively) solid food. He loves that rice cereal, and it took him no time at all to get the hang of eating with a spoon.

04 June 2009

Tortilla Recipe

As I said in an earlier post, I have begun cooking lunch for all the summer student workers at the Kartause. The total number of people I cook for is between 15 and 20 a meal. Yesterday, I cooked Mexican food. Tortillas are 2.50 euro for a package of 8. Small ones. I couldn't really afford to buy enough for everyone on our budget, so I made some myself. They were a little time consuming (although making enough for a family meal wouldn't be so bad), but with Thomas strapped to my back, and Maria playing with the leftover scraps of dough, it was doable. And they were really easy, and really good. I made white tortillas, and whole wheat. The white ones were more like the tortillas I'm used to, but the wheat ones were tasty too, and seemed easier to roll out. Here's the recipe (I quadrupled it, and for the wheat ones, I used half white flour, half whole wheat):

Combine 3 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp salt. Blend in 4-6 T butter, shortening or lard (I used butter) until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Slowly stir in up to 1 cup warm water, until a soft, but not sticky, dough forms. Knead until smooth, just a few mintutes.

Separate dough into 12 equal sized balls. Cover and let rest at least 15 minutes, more is fine. Once rested, heat a griddle to high heat. Slighty flatten the balls to make disks (this will make rolling out into circles a little easier), then roll out into very flat circles.

As you can see in the picture below, not all my tortillas were perfectly round. They got better as I did more of them, but the odd shaped ones tasted just as good. Next, put on the griddle. Cook on each side until golden brown marks form. Cover cooked tortillas with a clean, damp towel. This makes them soft and bendable, instead of stiff and brittle.

The finished product:

For about 50 cents more than one package of 8 small ones, I made 48 hot, fresh, tasty tortillas. I realize they are not quite so expensive in the States, but give these a try. They're great!

03 June 2009

Happy Birthday, Dominic!

Happy 1st Birthday, Cousin Dominic! I suppose Maria should stop calling you "Baby Dominic" now. We wish we were there to celebrate with you, eat a piece of cake for us! We love you.

01 June 2009


The whole month of June is dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Feast of which falls on June 19 this year. Magisterial texts include:

~Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Annum Sacrum (On Consecration to the Sacred Heart), 1899.

~Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Miserentissimus Redemptor (On Reparation to the Sacred Heart), 1928.

~Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Caritate Christi compulsi (On the Sacred Heart), 1932.

~Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Haurietis aquas (On Devotion to the Sacred Heart), 1956.

The mystery of the divine redemption is primarily and by its very nature a mystery of love, that it, of the perfect love of Christ for His heavenly Father to Whom the sacrifice of the Cross, offered in a spirit of love and obedience, presents the most abundant and infinite satisfaction due for the sins of the human race... (HA 35).