Lockdowns Are So Over


Perhaps you have seen these pictures of Virginia Gov. Northam at the beach yesterday on Ian T. Lovejoy's Facebook & Twitter (this is my screen shot of a collage of them).

Saucy people might say that given his history we all thank Gov. Northam for not wearing a mask, but what of "social distancing"?

Two conclusions reasonable people might make from these examples. 

1) See how relaxed and happy the governor and the people he's posing with  look?  As Governor he is getting all the medical reports and he is not afraid of getting Covid-19. So why should I be? 

2) Equality before the law means, as the Oklahoma lyric has it, "I don't say I'm no better than anybody else, but I'll be damned if I ain't just as good."  If the governor can do it, so can I. 

A quick search brings up other examples of our nation's leaders violating their own lockdown rules.

Illinois Gov. Pritzker's family has been traveling to Florida and Wisconsin.  He now says his wife and daughter were in Florida when the lockdowns began and are just sheltering in place, but he was awfully coy about this at first if it is true. And he defends the travel to Wisconsin as essential too -- working their farm. Maybe so, but then anyone else's work to save their business seems to be essential as well.

And the nation's mayors certainly are not locking down.
It's not merely the arrogance and hypocrisy on display here that are so galling -- though they certainly are.  It's that these people are destroying respect for the law by teaching that laws are arbitrary, just picky regulations with no basis in reality, so we need have no moral respect for them -- after all, the folks most in the know don't follow them. 

Remember Lincoln? "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is not democracy.If you, as legislator or executive, think you are exempt, then everyone is exempt. That is the meaning of rule of law.

Because you ain't better than anybody else. And they are all just as good. 

In any case, whatever the "Science" may say, between the restiveness of the people after more than 2 months in lockdown, and the financial ruin folks can no longer abide, Gov. Northam's photos are surely the sign that lockdowns are over. What can the state say to anyone at this point? 

P.S. Just because these particular examples are hilarious,  here are some hilarious international examples.  

Here's an Australian mayor who went out drinking under lockdown. 

The mayor in a small town in Peru violated lockdown and then faked his own death to avoid the fine! 

And perhaps the most egregious example: Neil Ferguson, who is the main reason we have any lockdowns in the first place,  felt adultery was an essential task

Dangling Foot Sunday!


image credit:  The Ascension, unknown English illustrator, shamelessly pinched from here

I think it's a pastoral mistake to transfer the Ascension  to Sunday, but Covid has taught me to just roll with it. Instead of Ascension Thursday maybe we can re-christen it DangleFoot Sunday, since so much of the sacred art for the day features Christ's feet as all that's left visible  

Bishop Barron's homily for the Ascension is worthwhile. 

This past Wednesday, together with a few other parishioners, Mr. W. & I participated in my first ever Rogation Day procession. (There seems to be an informal move, even among non- "Trads," to re-introduce rogation days.  There are three leading up to Ascension Thursday, and according to our neighborhood organizer, there was once a tradition in England of "beating the bounds" -- walking the boundaries of the parish in procession, both to remember those boundaries in the absence of maps, and to ask for protection against plague, famine, and natural disaster.  We were a homely little band what w/ social distancing and all, but I am pretty much always game for a procession. 

On another note: earlier in the week -- the 18th-- it would have been Pope St. John Paul the Great's 100th birthday.  Pope Francis noted it in a special Mass and a very nice, simple homily.  And Papa Benedict wrote a letter for the occasion -- I wish I could see the original as the translations seems a bit awkward, but it's still encouraging and instructive.  

Tomatoes in Ground, 2020

The wifi went out Monday, which was fine by me because there were no snow days this semester and I've been weeks and weeks without a true day off.  The weather was gorgeous, and I bought plants, went for a walk with a friend, and then spent the rest of the day in the garden.

I almost planted everything on Palm Sunday, but it's been a cool Spring and I didn't feel confident we were past frost, so I held off until the first glorious, gorgeous May day.

But now they're saying it may snow on Friday? Yikes!  No snow in Jan-Feb, but snow in May? Skeptic though I am, that is some freaky climate change.

Or maybe not. On a lark I went and consulted the external memory drive and discovered this has actually been the pattern for a few years now. Snow would be novel, but cold and rainy all the way through May & June has been the new normal. Why is it that what happened when I was young trumps my memory of what has happened the last 5 years in a row?

To wit:


I might lose my four varieties of tomato, peppers, beans and various herbs. But the good news is, the spinach which I planted against reason since it's a cool-weather crop, may come up before Fall after all.

<googles tomato blankets>

A Madonna for the Month of May

Image credit: Madonna, Wlastimil Hofman, 1910, curtsy: @frajds

Good Shepherd Sunday

Image credit: Lucas Cranach, Christ as the Good Shepherd, c.1540

An excellent homily from Bishop Barron for today (starts at roughly 7:20). 

An excellent priest, Fr. Clinton Sensat, uses the occasion to thank the men who have been good shepherds to him. 

Take that, Grey!

Just because it's kind of grey, chill, and gloomy in the Nation's Capitol on this 3rd Sunday of Easter in the time of Corona. 

Went to holy hour -- our pastor has been very generous in making Adoration available-- and on the way out the door noticed the yellow iris were suddenly in bloom. I'd forgotten they existed. I didn't notice them coming up, and I have loads of purple iris that were spent already weeks ago, so these were unexpected. Take that, grey!  Coming at you with yellow.  

Buttercups coming up in the unkempt lawn (if it stopped raining, we could mow it) are bonus. 

Road to Emmaus

Image credit: "La mulata," Diego Velázquez  
(often called "Kitchen Maid at Emmaus," and you should click to enlarge)

PSA: Yesterday Pope Francis wrote us all a letter. It's short, simple, and lovely. You should read it! 

Meanwhile, 3rd Sunday of Easter, and the Gospel of the day is the road to Emmaus. Hear (or read if you must, but preferable in this instance to hear, so scroll down to his video) Msgr. Charles Pope explain how the entire passage represents a Mass -- not just the obvious Eucharistic moment at the end. Winsomely handled! 

You might read also Fr. Paul Scalia's reflection, "Easter Reluctance."

Ordinarily I'm not much of a fan of free verse, but I do like this ekphrasis on the painting above from Denise Levertov

The Servant Girl at Emmaus (A Painting by Velazquez)
by Denise Levertov 
She listens, listens, holding
her breath. Surely that voice
is his—the one
who had looked at her, once, across the crowd,
as no one ever had looked?
Had seen her? Had spoken as if to her?
Surely those hands were his,
taking the platter of bread from hers just now?
Hands he'd laid on the dying and made them well?
Surely that face—?
The man they'd crucified for sedition and blasphemy.
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb.
The man it was rumored now some women had seen this morning, alive?
Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
don't recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen, absently touching
the winejug she's to take in,
a young Black servant intently listening,
swings round and sees
the light around him
and is sure.

Update: Emmaus makes me think of this hymn, which we used to sing in community when I lived in Rome. I always loved it: so tender.  For you Spanish speakers, here are the lyrics

He Is Risen! Happy Easter!

Image: The Myrrhbearing Women, Mikhail Nesterov, 1901

I was unaware of the Orthodox devotion to the Myrrbearing women.

The disciples, men, affrighted and disbanded in all directions, as the Savior had predicted to them beforehand. But the holy women gathered themselves. The men were hiding, but the women went out in the light of day, heading to the market and buying myrrh and spices to anoint the Life-bearing Body of Christ. O, blessed women, how were you not afraid to go out alone at night, and how did you dare to approach that place guarded by royal soldiers, and how did you not fear, but strove to roll away the stone, break the seal, open the tomb and anoint the Body of the Lord with spices? These ascetic feats sprang from the zeal, reverence, and great bravery of your souls. Feeble women by nature, but not in your minds and hearts; for womanly weakness did not appear in you in any way, but all your feats surpassed the bravery of men. Upon you were truly fulfilled the words of Scripture, which say, My strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9), and again, God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty (1 Cor. 1:27; cf. Ps. 8:2, Mt. 21:16). The words of our Most Holy Savior were truly in your hearts, Who said, fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul (Mt. 10:28). And again the Holy Spirit says,  Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord (Ps. 30:24). You completed the apostolic work before the apostles. You displayed the faith and courage of soul of the holy martyrs before them. 

A lovely homily from Msgr. Charles Pope. I have learned a lot about the relationship between a priest and his people from his daily homilette's to his people.

And UD President Thomas Hibbs offers The Shock of Wonder --with a not-apocryphal anecdote about my late beloved Phil professor Fritz Wilhelmsen.

Holy Saturday, 2020


Pieta by Bela Čikoš Sesija, 1896.  With curtsy to J.R's Art Place

Almost over now... at least the voluntary part of Lent. The involuntary may hang around a while longer yet. 

It's the day of my favorite reading of the year. Newman has a wonderful line at the end of his homily "Moses as a type of Christ" which is also about Christ's leading sinners through the sea of sin. But he addresses us, not Adam:

Awake, then, with this season, to meet your God, who now summons you from his cross and tomb. Put aside the sin that so easily besets you and be holy even as he is holy. Stand ready to suffer with him. He can make bitter things sweet to you and hard ways easy, if you have but the heart to desire him to do so. He can change the Law into the Gospel.