Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ash Wednesday 2017

Lent Begins

Today Lent begins with the Day of Ashes, also known as Ash Wednesday. For the faithful, 
this is the start of a seasont of fasting, prayer, and repentance for the faithful.

Lent begins 46 days before Easter Sunday, which this year falls on April 16.

As I noted in this space last year, receiving my ashes in the shape of
an actual cross, as you're supposed to
(in theory), is unusual. Once again
this year I got the smudge. Think of it as an abstract cross...

The shape isn't really the important part of this sacramental, of course. What matters is the outward sign of faith and penitence which we display to the world today.

"Is that the purple sweater vest you're wearing today?"

Yes...purple is the liturgical color for Lent...

Pet Peeve

Whenever a president addresses
a special joint session of congress,
as President Donald Trump did last night, most people call it a State of the Union address, but technically that address in a president's first year in office isn't a State of the Union. It bugs me more than a little to hear people who should know better call it by that name.

I'm not going to comment on the specifics of the speech, which were a mixed bag of good stuff and his trademark blustering nonsense, but I did want to take the opportunity to comment on something that has bugged me my entire adult life: The tendency of people (especially in the media) to express surprise when a political figure gives a good speech. The Washington Post's story today, for instance, complimented Trump for doing "a reasonably good job" reading his carefully-prepared remarks. CNN's account said that he sounded "statesmanlike," and that he "was more lofty and unifying" than is usually the case.

I spent 30 years of my life teaching speech at the high school level, and I simply do not understand why the ability to speak well is not something we expect from our political leaders. It absolutely should not be newsworthy when a major political figure gives a good speech, should it?

"Simmer down, you're going to give yourself a conniption."

Maybe I'm due to have one of those, did you ever think of that?

Happy Birthday, Neighbor!

On March 1, 1867 Nebraska was admitted as our 37th state.

Although they like
to call themselves the Cornhusker State, everyone knows their annual corn production usually falls far short of what we grow here in the great state of Iowa.

Winning Streak

"Third BOOM's the charm!"
My beloved Kansas City Royals won their second straight Cactus League game yesterday, scoring a 6-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Irish boys led the offense,
with 1B Ryan O'Hearn and 1B Peter O'Brien each hitting a home run. For O'Brien it was his third home run of spring training.

"The guys sure are hitting a lot of home runs so far this spring!"

And it means even less than the usual spring training nothing...Kauffman Stadium is one of the least power-friendly parks in the major leagues...

Speaking of Baseball...

On March 1, 1969 future Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle announced his retirement from baseball.

As a kid who enjoyed collecting baseball cards, I took note of the fact that this made Mickey's 1969 Topps card pretty unique. Not only did they cut off production of the card after his retirement announcement, making it the rarest card of that season, it also had his complete career stats, which wouldn't be changed by subsequent play.

The Other Mistake They Made On Oscar Night

From the incisive pen of Michael Ramirez, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

As I noted in this space on Ash Wednesday last year, I feel a rather special connection
with the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles even though I had already moved from St. Joseph, Missouri to Atlantic, Iowa before they arrived at nearby Gower, Missouri (just 20 miles from St. Joesph) in 2006. Bishop LeBlond Memorial High School, where I taught in St. Joseph, is actually owned by another Benedictine order.

My first musical encounter with
the group was their splendid 2014 album Lent at Ephesus, which I ran across last year while doing a search for Lenten music on Amazon. There aren't that many recordings of sacred music specifically for Lent, and this
one quickly became my favorite.

Since then I have acquired the rest
of the order's recordings, which can
be ordered directly here. Unfortunately, they have withdrawn almost all of the music which used to be available on their YouTube channel, so I'm forced to repeat last year's selection.

Today's send-off is "Jesu Salvator Mundi," a popular choral work written by 18th century religious composer Bartolomeo Cordans, from the aforementioned YouTube channel. Enjoy...

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