Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Get That Thing Outa Here!

I am fortunate in the extreme not to have to travel very much for my job. I used to travel quite a bit more and I consider myself a seasoned traveller. I do still occasionally have to spend the odd night away from home and my current job seems destined to send me to China once a year.

One aspect of travel that I struggle with is the hotel television. Oh, to be sure it's not as bad here in the U.S. as it is in, say, Sweden, where they pipe free, unrestricted hardcore porn into your room every night. It was there that I adopted a habit I have maintained ever since: every time I check into a hotel I ask them to get the TV out of the room. I had only once to say that it was "a religious conviction" and even in ultra-liberal Sweden, in excellent Old World style, the hotel staff began greeting me with, "Welcome again, Mr. Palm, the television has been removed from your room" before I had said a word. Now that's what I call service.

In the U.S. things are generally better, but far from ideal. There may be many Catholic guys out there who can easily avoid the not-quite-hardcore-but-still-awful stuff that is aired on HBO and
Cinemax. Good for you. I can't.

Men, if you have to travel it's very easy to get the hotel to remove the television. I have taken to faxing ahead, rather than springing it on the desk clerk who may be in a difficult position to respond to my demand on short notice. Rather, a few days ahead of my stay I fax the following letter. I have yet to have anything but 100% compliance with this reasonable request. Be prepared with a good answer for the curious desk clerk who asks about your request; be sure to say that you're a Catholic (not just a generic "Christian") and give a good reason. It's an excellent opportunity for a bit of evangelism. Here's a letter that you can adapt for your own use:

General Manager
Your Hotel

1234 Etc. St.
Homebody, YM 12345

Dear Sir/Maam,

I am scheduled to stay at your hotel next week, checking in on Monday, 10 December and checking out Friday, 14 December.

Due to religious convictions I would like to have the television removed from my room. Most hotels do not have difficulty complying with this request but I find that it is helpful to alert them ahead of time, to avoid any confusion or complication at check-in. If this request presents any difficulties please let me know and I can make other arrangements. Thank you very much for your assistance and I'll look forward to staying with you next week.

Best regards,


The now almost ubiquitous wireless Internet connection poses a new difficulty, but that is fodder for a future posting.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Makin' Hay While the Sun Shines

We got our first crop of hay into the barn last week. Yeah, that's really late. It has been an unseasonably cool and wet summer. In fact, you may have heard about our neck of the woods on the news, for the record-breaking flooding two years running. The Palm HQ sits up on top of Carlson Ridge, so if we ever got flooded I would expect to see an ark floating by. But besides doing a lot of damage to the unfortunate folks down in the valleys, this amount of rain has made it tough for the farmers to get into their fields. Hence the very late hay crop. Moving hay into the loft is a great cardio-vascular workout. I commented to my neighbor who helps us put our hay up that no one needs a treadmill or a membership at the gym if he actually works his farm.

We had to get the loft in our small barn fixed this year. The roof of this outbuilding had been allowed to deteriorate and water damage had undermined the beams holding up half of the loft floor. Buildings go down surprisingly fast when rain can get in through the roof. We had the roof patched as soon as we moved to the farm; we're only just now getting around to having the loft fixed. But mission accomplished, just in time to get the first hay crop put up. (An added bonus is that the kids can fire up the rope swing again.

Hay is made of plants of whatever variety (in our case a mix of grasses, alfalfa, and clover) that are cut, dried, and then stored away for future consumption by animals. It used to be that every farm that kept animals had to put up hay, but most of the larger farms have moved over to corn silage. There is an interesting potential connection between our massive flooding and the move away from hay. A friend of mine was commenting just the other day that as recently as half a century ago much farm land was kept in a mixture of hay fields and cultivated crops. The hay fields helped to hold soil and prevent very rapid water runoff, especially here in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin where farms are often positioned on some pretty steep terrain. But with the big push toward maximizing agricultural profits (especially now through the cultivation of corn, corn, corn--see below), all available farm land is increasingly tilled annually for row crops. This in turn increases soil erosion and also speeds the run-off from these lands into lower lying areas. Throw some record-breaking rainfalls into that mix and you've got the makings for the disastrous flooding we've been seeing. It's interesting how man's greed and short-sightedness really can have some pretty major unforeseen side-effects.

Hay is always important in climates where animals cannot graze year round, but this year hay is a precious commodity. Due to the ethanol-from-corn insanity that grips our nation (more on that in a future posting) hay prices have gone through the roof, while supplies have declined sharply. I am thrilled to have 480 bales of first-crop hay in my newly repaired loft. That's more than enough for my small holdings (and there's at least one more crop coming), so I'll probably end up selling some. I'll try to cut my neighbors a good deal. Gouging folks on the fundamentals of life is pretty rotten; helping them out with what they need from the bounty of my land feels a whole lot better.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Objectively Subeerior

Oh the ways of Divine Providence are mysterious indeed. Just when I swore off public controversy over the objective superiority of the Gregorian rite, the Lord makes clear that He has other plans. From my other blog, the Catholic Beer Review here is the Blessing of Beer from the Rituale Romanum:

V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.


Bene+dic, Domine, creaturam istam cerevisiae, quam ex adipe frumenti producere dignatus es: ut sit remedium salutare humano generi, et praesta per invocationem nominis tui sancti; ut, quicumque ex ea biberint, sanitatem corpus et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

R. Amen.

Et aspergatur aqua benedicta.

English translation:

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

Bless, + O Lord, this creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from the fat of grain: that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race, and grant through the invocation of thy holy name; that, whoever shall drink it, may gain health in body and peace in soul. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

And it is sprinkled with holy water.


Now, here's the kicker. As Fr. Cory Sticha of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings Montana says,

Looking at the modern "Book of Blessings", I see that this blessing has been removed. I guess that's just proof that the Rituale Romanum is far superior. You have to love the old blessings which start, "Lord, bless this creature..." (my emphasis).

Removed, eh? So one rite contains a blessing of beer. The other one doesn't. Objective subeeriority established? I think so and I rest my case.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Reflections on Controversy

I run two blogs. But it is a general policy of mine not to read too many other blogs and especially to avoid commenting much in the comboxes. They become a near occasion of sin for me, burning precious time and too frequently fomenting thoughts and attitudes that are much better left alone. (It is an absolute rule of mine never to post anonymously on a blog--that affords way too much temptation to say things that I would never ultimately want to be connected to.)

I broke that general rule the other day and was reminded again why I really must just Stay Away. The topic was liturgy, specifically the contrasts between the Gregorian rite and the Pauline rite. The fact remains that in the abstract such discussions are still valid. In principle, none of the traditionalist position has changed with respect to the nature of the liturgical reforms since Vatican II. And these discussions can still take place with some profit (I think Fr. Zuhlsdorf pulls that off pretty well.) But for that profitable exchange to take place there needs to be mutual respect between the parties involved, as well as a genuine desire on the part of both genuinely to learn and benefit from the discussion. At least in my two recent discussions, all of those features were lacking. The whole time the voice of conscience was telling me, "You really shouldn't be discussing this." I definitely should have bailed sooner than I did. Mea culpa.

I think my opponent made one good point, namely, that this is simply not the time for serious knock-down, drag-out debates about the liturgy, especially on the Internet. Our Holy Father has issued Summorum Pontificum and in its wake has come a veritable torrent of good news. Just last week the Transalpine Redemporists were reconciled with the Holy See. And there are serious movements toward a like reconciliation of the Society of Pius X. The Holy Father's courage is bearing fruit. He certainly doesn't need a knucklehead like me out there in cyberspace creating resistance to the traditional direction he's moving the Church.

A week ago my wife and I were interviewed by a reporter for a mainstream Catholic publication for an article on the motu proprio (I'll let you know if it gets published.) He asked what our reaction to Summorum Pontificum has been. Certainly our initial reaction was one of jubilation. We had prayed every day in our family Rosary for almost seven years that the traditional Roman rite would be normalized. But we were afraid each time we heard rumors of some impending action by the Pope that we would get a sort of "universal indult", yet another demand to get "permission" for that which had never been forbidden. In short, we were afraid that simple justice would be once more held in abeyance.

But in fact, we got the whole enchilada, with extra guacamole on the side and fried ice cream for dessert. It was more than we had hoped for, it was the complete vindication of the core of the traditionalist position on the traditional Latin Mass. Justice was served.

So in the face of that vindication I ask myself, why am I still out there swinging? For the most part the answer is plain old human weakness. My family was in the ecclesiastical refugee camp for seven years (and that's nothing compared to what some folks have weathered.) We've only been out for one. It just takes a while to adjust.