Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Man Who Blogged Thursday

I. The California Is A Jealous State

It's been a busy week since last Wednesday, when I found out that by dallying a few months in registering my car here in California, I was threatening to sabotage my application for California residency (and thus the university would make me pay next year's difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition). This would be a Very Bad Thing.

So I did just what you all expect: panicked. After successive adventures with
* FedEx (the title was at home),
* the smog test (the old car pulled through, Deo gratias),
* the DMV (no wait, but horribly confusing to me),
* City Hall (I got a blasted parking ticket in front of Barbara's house 1 week before I was eligible to park there in the day),
* AAA insurance (the easiest stop, but most costly of them all),
I am finally in compliance with The State Of All Mercy, May Its Name Be Ever Reverenced. Yeesh.

II. Last Weekend

Me: "Argh! How stupid of me, I didn't do anything last weekend!"

Alice: "Patrick, you went to a party, a football game, and a game night!"

Me: "Well, I mean besides that. Social stuff doesn't count!"

No, really, I meant I didn't get any math done. But yeah, Friday night I went to a dance party put on by the grad student Jeff; the theme was "Homecoming '92" (so I wore a suit with a purple dress shirt and a bad tie), so there was punch (spiked, naturally) and a long mix of early 90's pop (Ace of Base, where have you gone?). It was fun. And I ran into a Chicago alumna who, upon hearing that I was in Shoreland, asked if I knew Nick, whom she worked with on the literary magazine Aubade. So Nick, Monica says hi.

Then on Saturday, I saw my first college football game from the stands, as Cal beat the stuffing out of Arizona, 28-0. I brought Christoph and Thomas with me, and they even seemed to enjoy American football quite well.

After that, it was time to head over to Bianca's house (she's another math grad student) for the first Game Night. I was on a great team for Cranium, as we came back from the brink of defeat to win it all. Card games continued till past 2 in the morning.

No wonder that on Sunday, I found my voice embarrassingly raspy for the opening hymn of Mass. And that reminds me...

III. Why I Like The Tridentine Mass

I've been going to weekday Tridentine Masses at St. Margaret Mary's, a few times a week. It's run by the Institute of Christ the King, as is St. Gelasius in Chicago.

I'd never been to a Tridentine Mass before, and at first I was disconcerted by how distant, how silent, how alien it was to my expectations. Participation is of a different sort: rather than singing every few minutes, and reciting the major fixed prayers in unison, I am asked to simply follow along in the order of the Mass and to unite my prayer to it. For me, I find that it's much less distracting than the Novus Ordo Mass in that respect: I'm less tempted to be saying one thing and thinking another, less tempted to wander off into meditations and daydreams, more focused on the present moment of the worship.

And more importantly, the Consecration is somehow closer to me. All happens in silence, with the priest facing the Sacrament rather than the congregation, reciting a Canon of elegant and beautiful invocations of God (as I follow along in my missal). It is the same each time; there is no ad-libbing to make points, even good points: these are distractions from the very reality of God giving Himself to humanity in the Last Supper and on the Cross. Each time is precisely like the last, which is like the time before, which to me emphasizes that the Mass participates each time in that one Sacrifice at the nexus of history. I feel that I am a witness at the Last Supper itself.

When the priest raises the Body of Christ for the adoration of all, I have never failed to be moved. I find it a moment of excruciating truth and beauty, to the point that I don't really know what to say. Except, perhaps, "Lord, it is good that we are here."

Fr. Jim Tucker of Dappled Things, which I haven't been reading regularly, has recently written a very informative series on the liturgy of the Tridentine Mass, if I've just confused you.

And yet, on Sunday I go to the Novus Ordo (in Latin, yes) rather than the Tridentine. Why?

IV. Why I Like The Novus Ordo Mass

Because, for one thing, I do like the external participation of the faithful. I like to sing the Gloria, the Credo/Creed, the Pater Noster/Our Father. The structure and the responses are universal now, too: just as it was with the Old Mass before Vatican II, the New Mass has the property that if I walk into almost any Catholic parish around the world, I may not know the language but I'll know what is being said and done at each instant. It's a gift I ought not take for granted.

Most importantly, the Novus Ordo is home for me. I like to see the house cleaned up a bit (e.g. when the parish follows the rubrics), I even like to see the real wood floors even when linoleum is more popular (e.g. I enjoy the beauty of Latin in the Mass), but when it comes down to it, it's my home, and it's been very good to me.

And besides, I oughtn't let the Tridentine thing go to my head. Spiritual pride is something I already have too much of.

Though English grammar, it seems, is something of which I have too little.

V. Karandish Watch- Week 3

Well, after the first two Team Matchstick Project Managers fell on their respective swords, I was a bit worried to see David take the mantle. He led his team better, though, than either of his predecessors: he delegated much more than Jeff and worked much more than Chuck. Sadly, it still wasn't enough to win the challenge.

By the way, Mark Burnett (or whoever edits the tape for these shows) is downright evil about creating commercial-break cliffhangers, then only resolving them implicitly later on. He left us hanging on a possible $3000 sale, in a tension resolved only by the downcast faces on Matchstick members in the ensuing conference room scene.

The business team (Primarius) looks nigh invincible now, with good teamwork and 60% more manpower than Matchstick (now down to five members). I don't see Matchstick realistically winning another one of these challenges, so I'm wondering what the rules are. Is there a point where they'll redistribute team members, or would the producers let one team beat the other into the ground? That wouldn't make very good TV, so I'm holding out hope for a realignment before David falls victim to the attrition by default.

And maybe it was the editing, but it was clear to Barbara and I from our armchairs that Marcela had no part in the team's failure, so it was a shock to see David pick her as one of the two team members responsible. I realize it was a tougher pick than either Jeff or Chuck had to make, but in the end Martha had to overrule David and change the rules of the conference-room showdown. She brought back Shawn, Jim and Bethanny into the room, and fired Shawn (a choice which was certainly justified by the scenes shown, though of course the editing is always going to try and make Martha look good).

Well, David promised excitement (see the posts on the last Karandish Watch), and this week did deliver. Last week was like watching a train wreck; this week felt competitive until the end.

Good luck, David; may you survive until at least Sweeps Week!

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