Prayer to St. Joseph over 1900 years old

19 03 2009


O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen

Say for nine consecutive mornings for anything you may desire. It has seldom been known to fail.

This prayer was found in the fiftieth year of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In 1500’s it was sent by the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle.

Whoever reads this prayer or hears it or carries it, will never die a sudden death, nor be drowned, nor will poison take effect on them. They will not fall into the hands of the enemy nor be burned in any fire, nor will they be defeated in battle.

Make this prayer known everywhere.

Most Rev. George W. Ahr
Bishop of Trenton

On seeking refuge from our enemies

19 03 2009


(the above image was found on this site)
A Muslim friend recently sent me a link to an on-line Shia booklet on the Islamic phrase, “Aaoozu billahi min ash Shaitan ir rajeem”. This phrase is most commonly uttered by reciters of the Koran (“Koran” means “recitation”) before they begin their reading. It translates, “I seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Satan”. Use of this phrase can be heard on this rather aesthetically pleasing recitation:

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Santa Muerte Counterpoint

18 03 2009

Epidermal Macabre

Indelicate is he who loathes
The aspect of his fleshy clothes, —
The flying fabric stitched on bone,
The vesture of the skeleton,
The garment neither fur nor hair,
The cloak of evil and despair,
The veil long violated by
Caresses of the hand and eye.
Yet such is my unseemliness:
I hate my epidermal dress,
The savage blood’s obscenity,
The rags of my anatomy,
And willingly would I dispense
With false accouterments of sense,
To sleep immodestly, a most
Incarnadine and carnal ghost.

-Theodore Roethke

On the night battles

17 03 2009


Catholic Witchhunters in Italy and the Decline of the Enchanted World

For a little over a year now, I have been contemplating the idea of a “marginal Catholicism”: a religiosity in contact but not necessarily controlled by the official hierarchy. One can call it, “popular Catholicism”, “folk Catholicism”, or even “underground Catholicism”. I write on it not because I have some romanticist vision of an unspoiled peasant past or because I idolize the voice of the people over and above the voice of their leaders. Nor is it an issue of a religion of the heart versus a religion of the head; such dichotomies ultimately prove trite and useless. There is, nevertheless, a great loss that we have experienced in modernity with relation to our “pre-modern” beliefs; a sense that how we believe and the principles behind those beliefs are fundamentally different from those of the past. At times, one generation removed or even right under our noses now, we realize that the way people saw God, the world, good, and evil is different from our own way of seeing things. The project that I have undertaken is to chronicle those differences; those things that have been silenced during the “purification” of popular religion in the continuing march of modernity.

In the book, The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century, the Italian scholar Carlo Ginzburg tells the story of the relationship between the benandanti (or “good walkers”) and the Inquisition. In the region of the Friuli in northeastern Italy, a group of people born with a caul were summoned on the nights during Embertide to leave their bodies and fight witches for the good of the village. Under the command of an angel or a lead benandante, they would have ritual battles with witches during their “black Sabbaths”. The benandanti would attack with fennel stalks, and the witches would fight back with sorghum stalks. If the benandanti  won, the crops of the village would be safe for the year, but if they lost, disaster and famine would sweep the land. During these episodes, it was claimed that the bodies of the benandanti remained behind in their homes, still as if they were dead.
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Don Juan del Dinero: A Folk Saint for Our Times

16 03 2009


Well, not really a folk saint. More like a benevolent spirit in the cult of Maria Lionza in Venezuela. Here is his “prayer”, in case you are remotely interested:

Yo (diga su nombre) invoco a la sublime influencia del Santo Nombre de Dios Todopoderoso y de Don Juan del Dinero para que me brindes protección y ayuda, para que me libres de la pobreza y la estrechez, me proveas de abundancia y felicidad, que brille para mí la estrella de la buena suerte y la fortuna y el éxito me acompañe en todo lo que emprenda, bajo tu amparo me acojo. Don Juan del Dinero, no me dejes en el olvido y siempre estés junto a mí. Amen.

I (name) invoke the sublime influence of the Holy Name of Almighty God and Don Juan del Dinero so that you may offer me protection and help, so that you may free me from poverty and need, that you provide me with abundance and happiness, that the star of good luck shine for me and may fortune and success accompany me in all that I set out to do, under your patronage I place myself. Don Juan del Dinero, do not leave me in forgetfulness and always be by my side. Amen.

Just thought I’d share, in case you want to have a “folk saint” bailout of your own,

Some Absorbing Work

13 03 2009

I am part of the load
Not rightly balanced
I drop off in the grass,
like the old Cave-sleepers, to browse
wherever I fall.

For hundreds of thousands of years I have been dust-grains
floating and flying in the will of the air,
often forgetting ever being
in that state, but in sleep
I migrate back. I spring loose
from the four-branched, time -and-space cross,
this waiting room.

I walk into a huge pasture
I nurse the milk of millennia

Everyone does this in different ways.
Knowing that conscious decisions
and personal memory
are much too small a place to live,
every human being streams at night
into the loving nowhere, or during the day,
in some absorbing work.


Escrava Anastacia

12 03 2009


…et non aperuit os suum sicut ovis ad occisionem ducetur et quasi agnus coram tondente obmutescet et non aperiet os suum

The above is an image of Brazilian folk saint Escrava Anastacia (Anastacia the Slave), the daughter of an African princess in colonial Brazil who was reputed to work miracles and be a model of virtue in her own lifetime. Renowned for her beauty and her beautiful blue eyes, she is said to have often exclaimed, “eu não sou escrava” (I am not a slave). The popular image is of her muzzled with an iron mask which many believe was a punishment for the refusal of her master’s sexual advances. She more than likely died of gangrene from wearing that mask, and is said to have forgiven her oppressors before her death.
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My article for Catholic Exchange

11 03 2009


In case you haven’t seen this yet, here is my recent essay on religious imagery in Catholicism.

The Music of the Spheres

11 03 2009


A BBC program on the origins and development of this key idea.

Why tyranny can be good for the soul

10 03 2009


So anyway, I was in this taxi cab in Buenos Aires, crammed in with five other seminarians on a Sunday afternoon. On the radio, the Boca vs. River Plate game was blaring, and at one point, a news break was played during an intermission. Hugo Chavez was very much in the news back then (around 2002), and the direction of the conversation in the cab was steered towards politics. The taxi driver, in the midst of the country falling apart one more time*, said that he wished the dictators would just come back to restore order.

“At least it was safe to walk the streets at night back then.”
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