Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day 2011

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

A blessed and Merry Christmas to all!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Big News from the Library - Update

     Just about an hour ago, I finished moving all of the books that the Education department said were OK to withdraw. I was wrong, it wasn't 1600 books - it was more like 1,800 books. But they're off the shelves and tucked away in Technical Services awaiting processing. And you thought librarians just sat about reading books all day!
     But that's not the big news. The big news is that just moments before I had placed the last handful of withdrawn books onto the shelves, the row of shelving collapsed. 1,800 books and the shelves they were on went toppling to the floor.  One moment everything was fine and dandy and the next moment CREAK-CREAK-CRASH. Folk from all over the library came running to see what happened, and stayed to help clean up. Thanks be to God, no one was injured and while some of the books took a beating, they were being withdrawn anyway. 
     I call this a providential happening, because the shelves that failed were erected to hold the mass of new books that will be ordered in the spring ordering rush. Today the area was nearly deserted, in the spring there would have been workers on both sides of the shelves placing and removing books. So if it had to come down, thanks be to God that it happened today. 

Feast Day of Saint Thomas the Apostle

Thomas was one of the Twelve Apostles. Through his doubt in the Resurrection of Christ the Lord, a new proof was given of that wonderful and saving event. The resurrected Lord appeared to His disciples a second time, in order to convince Thomas. The Lord said to Thomas: Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas replied: My Lord and my God (John 20:27-28). After the descent of the Holy Spirit, when the apostles cast lots to see where they would each go to preach, the lot fell to Thomas to go to India. He was a little saddened that he had to go so far away, but the Lord appeared to him and encouraged him. In India, St. Thomas converted many, both aristocrats and poor, to the Christian Faith, and established the Church there, appointing priests and bishops. Among others, Thomas converted two sisters to the Faith-Tertiana and Migdonia-both wives of Indian princes. Because of their faith, both sisters were ill-treated by their husbands, with whom they no longer wanted to live after their baptism. Eventually, they were allowed to go. Being freed of marriage, they lived God-pleasing lives until their repose. Dionysius and Pelagia were betrothed, but when they heard the apostolic preaching they did not marry, but devoted themselves to the ascetic life. Pelagia ended her life as a martyr for the Faith, and Dionysius was ordained a bishop by the apostle.

     Prince Mazdai, Tertiana's husband, whose son, Azan, was also baptized by Thomas, condemned the apostle to death. Mazdai sent five soldiers to kill Thomas. They ran him through with their five spears, and thus the Holy Apostle Thomas rendered his soul into the hands of Christ. Before his death, he and the other apostles were miraculously brought to Jerusalem for the burial of the Most-holy Theotokos. Arriving too late, he wept bitterly, and the tomb of the Holy Most-pure One was opened at his request. The Theotokos' body was not found in the tomb: the Lord had taken His Mother to His heavenly habitation. Thus, in his tardiness St. Thomas revealed to us the wondrous glorification of the Mother of God, just as he had once confirmed faith in the Resurrection of the Lord by his unbelief.

With thanks to Father Patrick Cardine for sending this to me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Big News from the Library

     Weeding. This is the term that librarians use for deciding which books have been on the shelf too long and need to go, to make way for new books. For some in our profession, this terms is entered into the glossary right between the terms "bubonic plague" and "Patriot Act" in terms of discomfort. Seriously. Many libraries put off doing any weeding at all for fear of negative reaction from the user population (Q:"Why are you throwing this out?!?"  A: "because no one has read it since 1953".), or from an attachment to all the old familiar books, or uncertainty about what should stay and what should go. It creates a lot of stress.     
     Strangely, I'm not one of those people. I don't mind weeding our collection. In fact, I'd be very happy if our library director allowed me to do more of it. One reason I don't is that it creates a lot of work for our already overworked Cataloging department. Until you've seen the amount of work it takes to get a book out of the shipper's box and onto the shelf, you don't really appreciate how hard librarians work. But I digress. 
     Why bring up weeding? Because today, after several months of e-mail discussions, faculty from our School of Education came over to the library and took a look through our Education section (Library of Congress Class L) and decided some things could go. I had asked the Chair of the Ed department about the relative importance of the age of the books in that section, and was surprised to learn that the Education faculty would like the books to be no more than five years old, excepting histories of education and some standard works. When I pulled a report of books in that section including publication date, I found that over 80% of our books in Class L were outside that age boundary. I relayed this information to the Chair of Ed and they agreed that something should be done. 
     Did they ever do something about it. I was anticipating, in absence of input from the Ed department, removing about 250 books from the shelves, which is about how many new books we added in that section last year, to maintain total book count parity. The Education professors who came down today selected well over 1,600 books to be removed. BTW, if you're ever in a library and you see a book or books that have been turned down on their spine, don't tip it back up again. It's probably the case that someone wanted to mark the book to find it again (whether to check out, or to pull into Technical Services for some kind of processing). Well, that certainly will keep me and the catalogers busy for a while, clearing all that out of the catalog. Still, on the plus side, we will have plenty of room for new books when the spring book ordering rush arrives, and from all I've read in the professional journals, weeding actually increases the browsing and checking out of books in the weeded section. Don't know why, but it does. And if nothing else, at least we've given the shelves in that area a good dusting. The dust bunnies were piling up pretty fast, especially on those bottom shelves. Achoo!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wisdom from the Fathers - Abba Sisoes

An encouraging word from one of the Desert Fathers
A brother confessed to Abba Sisoes.
"I fell, Father. What am I to do now?"
"Get up," said the Holy Elder, with his usual simplicity.
"I got up, Abba, but I fell into that cursed sin again," the brother confessed with great sorrow.
"And what's stopping you from getting up again?"
"For how long?" the brother replied
" Until death finds you either falling or rising. Is it written, "wherever I find you there shall I judge you?" the Elder explained. Only pray to God that during your last moment you will be found upright in holy repentance."
With thanks to Hieromonk Joshua for sharing this. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day

     Seventy years ago today, the United States was attacked at the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by air and naval forces of the Empire of Japan. Thousands died, and the following day the United States went to war. May God remember with mercy the souls of all those who fought in that war, especially those who served our country and gave the last full measure of devotion.
     Let us this day and every day remember the past, pray for peace in the present, and hope for peace in the future.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy Saint Nicholas Day - Tuesday December 6th

Tuesday the 6th is the feast of our Father among the Saints Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra (345 AD)
courtesy of
    Our beloved holy Father Nicholas is, along with St George (and second to the All-holy Theotokos), probably the best-loved Saint of the Church. His numberless miracles through the ages, on behalf of the countless Christians who have called on him, cannot be told.
      He was born in Lycia (in Asia Minor) around the end of the third century, to pious Christian parents. His love of virtue, and his zeal for observing the canons of the Church, were evident from his infancy, when he would abstain from his mother's breast every Wednesday and Friday until the evening. From early youth he was inclined to solitude and silence; in fact, not a single written or spoken word of the Saint has come down to us. Though ordained a priest by his uncle, Archbishop Nicholas, he attempted to withdraw to a hermit's life in the Holy Land; but he was told by revelation that he was to return home to serve the Church publicly and be the salvation of many souls.
      When his parents died, he gave away all of his inheritance to the needy, and thereafter almsgiving was his greatest glory. He always took particular care that his charity be done in secret. Perhaps the most famous story of his open-handedness concerns a debt-ridden man who had no money to provide dowries for his daughters, or even to support them, and in despair had resolved to give them into prostitution. On three successive nights the Saint threw a bag of gold into the window of the man's house, saving him and his daughters from sin and hopelessness. The man searched relentlessly to find and thank his benefactor; when at last he discovered that it was Nicholas, the Saint made him promise not to reveal the good deed until after he had died. (This story may be the thin thread that connects the Saint with the modern-day Santa Claus).
      God honored his faithfulness by granting him unparalleled gifts of healing and wonderworking. Several times he calmed storms by his prayers and saved the ship that he was sailing in. Through the centuries he has often done the same for sailors who call out to him, and is considered the patron of sailors and all who go to sea.
      He was elected Bishop of Myra not long before the great persecutions under Diocletian and Maximian (c. 305), and was put in prison, from which he continued to encourage his flock in the Faith. When the Arian heresy wracked the Church not long after Constantine came to the throne, St Nicholas was one of the 318 Bishops who gathered in Nicea in 325. There he was so incensed at the blasphemies of Arius that he struck him on the face. 
And St Nicholas says BOOM!
     This put the other bishops in a quandary, since the canons require that any hierarch who strikes anyone must be deposed. Sadly, they prepared to depose the holy Nicholas; but in the night the Lord Jesus and the most Holy Theotokos appeared to them, telling them that the Saint had acted solely out of love for Truth, not from hatred or passion, and that they should not act against him.
      While still in the flesh, he sometimes miraculously appeared in distant places to save the lives of the faithful. He once saved the city of Myra from famine by appearing to the captain of a ship full of grain, telling him to take his cargo to the city. He appeared in a dream to Constantine to intercede for the lives of three Roman officers who had been falsely condemned; the three grateful soldiers later became monks.
      The holy bishop reposed in peace around 345. His holy relics were placed in a church built in his honor in Myra, where they were venerated by throngs of pilgrims every year. In 1087, after Myra was conquered by the Saracens, the Saint's relics were translated to Bari in southern Italy, where they are venerated today. Every year, quantities of fragrant myrrh are gathered from the casket containing his holy relics. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Nostalgia Failure

     I have enjoyed over the last few years introducing my sons to the classic cartoons of my childhood. Wonderful Saturday Morning fare like Scooby-Doo, Johnny Quest, the Pink Panther, Bugs Bunny and the Laff-a-Lympics have provided plenty of terrific Saturday mornings. So I wondered whether I should try introducing them to another cartoon I watched with great devotion - G.I. Joe. This mid-80's afternoon cartoon probably had as much to do as anything with my decision to join the Army. I bought the 'action figures' and read the comic books. Hopefully this establishes that I liked the cartoon as a kid. So I recently had the opportunity to watch the mini series "The Revenge of Cobra" which served as one of the 'pilots' for the regular afternoon series.


     It was awful. Completely, cringingly awful. Oh, the animation was decent enough for a cartoon of the time, but in every other respect it was just plain bad. The plot of the mini-series was absurd, with improbabilities of all kinds and plot holes that a tank could drive through. The characters were either flat & interchangeable or ridiculously over-the-top. The leadership of Cobra was particularly susceptible to fits of insane laughter, which made them look dumb rather than threatening.  The laser bolts flew fast and furious, except that even Star Wars Stormtroopers could shoot with better accuracy. Characters on both sides shouted their sides' catch-phrases "Yo Joe" and "Co-braaaaaa" with disturbing frequency. The humor wasn't funny either. 

     Now look, I didn't expect that it was going to be classic theater or anything. But it just wasn't any fun anymore. All those other cartoons I mentioned at the top, they're still fun. They still make me laugh. I still root for the good guys. But GI Joe? It just doesn't hold up. Disappointing but true. At least I still have the comic books.