I am pleased and humbled to announce that The Amish Catholic has received 150,000 views! It’s been a wonderful experience since February of 2017. Thank you to all my many readers, especially those of you who take the time to comment on, share, or promote my work. It means more than you know. May God bless all of you!
I have just uploaded Chapter II of my short story, “The Baptism of the Archduke,” over at my Patreon. This rococo satire involves a determined Duchess and her plot to marry off one of her daughters at the occasion of a family baptism – in spite of some very unusual obstacles. The third and final chapter will be coming out in May for Patron Saints of the blog, who can already see the first two parts. You, too, can become a Patron Saint today by pledging $10 a month, which will grant you exclusive creative content not available on my blog. Please consider joining today!
On the 30th of March, 2013, I made the profession of faith at the Easter Vigil and received the sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion from then-Bishop-Elect David Talley. I can still remember the night well. It was raining hard outside, and so we had to light the Paschal fire at the church door. We catechumens and confirmandi huddled in darkness while the rites began. It was a moment of profound holiness, and an Easter liturgy I will never forget.
Much has happened since that night. I am still a sinner, much as I was then. Perhaps I am a bit more aware of the fact, though. That’s a grace in itself. I have been a student, a pilgrim, and a devotee. I have made many friends in heaven and earth who have helped me along the way to God. I am grateful for every one of them, and I hope I have been able to do the same from time to time.
Ever since 2014, I have consecrated every year of my life as a Catholic to some Holy Person. My second year was dedicated to Our Lady, the third to the Holy Ghost, the fourth to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the fifth to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Keeping in this vein, I hereby consecrate my sixth year as a Catholic to the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph.
St. Joseph has been a great friend to me in the past, and has proven the power of his intercession on more than one occasion. I ask my readers to join me in praying now that St. Joseph will bless this coming year with abundant graces proper to my state of life, and especially an outpouring of those virtues which he so admirably exemplified: humility, purity, simplicity, detachment, submission to the will of God, reverence, and a constant, attentive devotion to Jesus and Mary.
Holy St. Joseph, pray for me.
Mighty St. Joseph, pray for me.
Humble St. Joseph, pray for me.
Pure St. Joseph, pray for me.
Pious St. Joseph, pray for me.
Sweet St. Joseph, pray for me.
Heart of St. Joseph, pray for me.
My dear friends and readers,
I am pleased to announce that I have accepted an offer to pursue a Ph.D. in History at Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA, having been awarded a University Graduate Fellowship. I will be working with Dr. Ronnie Po-chia Hsia, known for his scholarship on transnational Catholic reform and mission work in the early modern world. I have had the chance to meet with Dr. Hsia a few times now, and I am really looking forward to engaging with him and the rest of the faculty. The graduate cohort really impresses me, too. On a recent trip to State College, I was happy to discover that my future colleagues in the doctoral program were not only brilliant, but very friendly as well. All in all, it’s a great opportunity. I’m both honored and excited to join the intellectual community there.
My work will probably focus on what I currently study: Catholicism in the long 18th century, with a thematic focus on discourses of the supernatural and gender as well as a regional focus on Western Europe, especially France. My hope is to become more global as I advance in language skills and crystallize my theoretical and methodological foundation.
For me, going to Penn State is something of a homecoming. My ancestors lived in central Pennsylvania for generations. My father grew up in State College, and I still have some family in the area. There are photos of me as a kid standing behind the lion paws at the Palmer Museum of Art; my new office will be located in an attractive old Spanish revival building just across the street. I take this coincidence as a sign of Providence. I thought the same thing when, walking into the Corner Room for lunch, I discovered a large sign over the bar with the words “Haec Olim Meminisse Juvabit” – the motto of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society. There’s a sense of circularity in the journey to Happy Valley.
I’m very grateful to everyone – family, friends, mentors, recommenders, advisors, and others – who have helped me along to this point. I truly could not have gotten here without so many incredible people supporting me. And of course, I am grateful to those heavenly friends who interceded for me along the way – especially at key moments of this last application process. With them, please pray for me as I commence the final act at Oxford and begin a new chapter in my life at Penn State.
And yes, I realize what this means – the Amish Catholic returns to Amish country. Go figure.
Today I am pleased and proud to announce The Amish Catholic Patreon. If you like the content you see here, would like more of it, and want to help make the blog a success, go over and become a Patron! You can either pledge at $3 a month, as a Donatore, $5 a month, as a Cardinal Patron, or $10 a month, as a Patron Saint. Since I am launching it publicly on the 25th of March, 2019, I place this new venture under the Patronage of Our Lady of the Annunciation. Thank you to all my readers and those who encouraged me in this idea. I hope I can keep delivering quality content – including exclusive material available only through Patreon – with your generous support. May God bless you all
The pious among my readers will no doubt be aware that Lent will soon be upon us. Here are 100 ideas for how to have a successful and most fruitful season of penance.
- Give up meat
- Give up chocolate
- Give up alcohol
- Give up social media
- Give up being a social media influencer
- Give up films
- Give up naughty films
- Give up films that are very naughty but not the ones that are naughty while also being either smart or funny or historically dramatic in a passingly educational sort of way
- Give up comic books
- Give up music
- Give up secular music
- Give up Christian praise and worship music (for the love of God and all that is holy)
- Give up lobster, though not on Fridays
- Give up dairy
- Give up various soft cheeses
- Give up all cheeses from Poitou-Charente but not anywhere else in France
- Give up Netflix
- Give up “Netflix”
- Give up petting zoos
- Give up marsupials
- Give up giraffes of any kind
- Give up your ignorance of the various kinds of giraffe
- Give up spy novels
- Give up surprising all of your friends by suddenly screaming at them, apropos of nothing, “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”
- Give up your longstanding telenovela addiction
- Give up trying to learn Portuguese in favor of Esperanto
- Give up learning Esperanto
- Give up reading the poetry of William McGonagall, the Apollo of Dundee
- Give up the various birds, stuffed and otherwise, that you are hoarding in your attic and basement
- Give up your deeply-rooted habit of eating little fragments of ceramic statues
- Give up your swimming lessons
- Give up your avoidance of Luton, Slough, and Swindon
- Give up the American news cycle
- Give up the Busby Berkeley marathons you play in your living room every Friday evening
- Give up pretending you are, in fact, the reincarnation of Senhor Doutor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
- Give up whining
- Give up long walks in the park
- Give up spitting in public
- Give up gossip
- Give up gossip about me, please
- Give up your general wanton demeanor and frowsy mien
- Give up the chips
- Give up all professional sports
- Give up your various simultaneous affairs with the members of the Swazi National Curling Team
- Give up the ghost
- Give up your collection of Rococo snuff boxes depicting various prince-bishops in ermine
- Give up practicing the kazoo at inappropriate hours of the night
- Give up Morris dancing
- Give up peanut butter and eel jelly sandwiches
- Give up your place in line
- Give up the furious Mah-Jong tournaments you regularly host for gangs of aged nuns
- Give up reciting the poetry of William McGonagall, Bard of Dundee
- Give up your participation in the capitalist system enslaving us all
- Give up toast
- Give up the secret alien knowledge you acquired through highly illegal methods of infiltrating government files
- Give up felonies in general
- Give up all the Skittles you have hoarded in your closet
- Give up the various coffee table books of early brutalist architecture that you have received from work colleagues, many of whom have since passed on
- Give up on modern architecture in toto
- Give up writing emoji haikus
- Give up your shoegaze band, Emoji Haiku
- Give up on romance
- Give up on romantic comedies
- Give up those trashy bodice-rippers they sell in the supermarket book aisle (you know the ones)
- Give up your seat in the Académie française
- Give up your seat on the train to Timbuktu
- Give up your seat on the Parish Council (here’s looking at you, Susan)
- Give up your operatic emotional troubles
- Give up addressing everyone in song
- Give up asserting that you are, in fact, Madama Butterfly
- Give up counting time in anything but the Mayan calendar
- Give up your general estrangement from Mesoamerican culture
- Give up your allergies
- Give up your obstinate refusal to learn the Sasquatch language
- Give up your unreliable narration
- Give up your postmodern metairony
- Give up your Twitter account
- Give up treating your dogs like children
- Give up treating your children like dogs
- Give up treating your children better than your cats
- Give up your claim to the long-defunct throne of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
- Give up your alarming habit of musical flatulence
- Give up your covert addiction to locomotive erotica
- Give up your understated unibrow
- Give up your long-awaited nose job
- Give up your embittered attempt to remain Dean of a prominent English Cathedral
- Give up memorizing the poetry of William McGonagall, the Orpheus of Dundee
- Give up any expectations of amusement
- Give up the pipe dream of tenure
- Give up your position to the various paramilitary forces that are hunting you through the tundra
- Give up break-dancing in public parks
- Give up attending Hare Krishna services
- Give up any association with the Libertarian Party
- Give up all hope, ye who enter here.
- Give up the secret recipe
- Give up the art your late uncle Oswald took from various museums over the course of his long and chequered career as a forger and art thief
- Give up approximately 1/4 of your bone marrow
- Give up being lame
- Give up all the excuses you always make for not keeping your Lenten penance
- Just give up
My dear readers,
I should like to apologize for my long hiatus in writing. This term has been especially busy. I have, for instance, just completed a major research trip on the Continent. Various forces seem to have conspired to prevent me from finding the time to write. However, I have a few posts in mind that will, I hope, appear forthwith. In the meantime, enjoy this lovely image of various Bishops of Ghent in ermine and blue-purple.
I have just discovered that Once I Was a Clever Boy, a blog I used to enjoy but was sorry to see in hiatus, has returned. John Whitehead, the blog’s author, is a friend and a Brother of the Little Oratory here in Oxford. He hasn’t put up any new content recently. Nevertheless, there was a long time when for whatever technical reason – either on John’s end or mine, I was never sure – the blog was totally inaccessible. I’m very happy to see it’s back, and I look forward to more content from this quintessentially Oxonian blog.
Thus concludes Anno Domini MMXVIII. I hope all my readers had a very fruitful year, and I pray for them all to know many blessings in this coming one. I have a lot to be grateful for this year. I made so many wonderful friends, both via this blog and otherwise. You know who you are. My work seems to be progressing well enough. And I was published in First Things, Jesus The Imagination, and The Church Times. This blog received its 100,000th view. So the year was full of activity.
I also feel that I gained more insight into who I am as a person. I’d like to think that in some ways, at least, I’ve become a more self-aware and honest man, and that I’ve learned a little bit more about humility this year.
I encountered God in new ways at different points of the liturgical year and in various holy places. I befriended new saints.
For all this, I am profoundly grateful.
Here are the top 10 posts I published this year, by readership:
1. The Best Monastic Documentaries
Incidentally, my main New Year’s resolution for 2019 remains the same as it was in 2018. I don’t know if I lived up to it very well this past year, but I shall strive to do so in the next.
And to conclude my writings here for 2018,
Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
Fr. Frederick William Faber, that great son of St. Philip, was one of the many Oxford converts. He was a Balliol man who later became a fellow of University College, where he embarked on an ecclesiastical career as an Anglican. Later, of course, he came to the Church of Rome and founded the London Oratory. But as I am now settling back into Oxford, I thought it might my readers might enjoy a few of his poems about life at the University. I’ll probably break the collection up into a few different posts. Although Faber was later famous as a hymn-writer, in his youth he was a Romantic poet who won the admiration of none other than Wordsworth, whom he met in the Lake District. Faber’s style may be rather too Victorian for our tastes today. They also represent his spirituality at a very immature stage, when he was still an Anglican. The contrast between “College Chapel’s” rather pathetic final line and Faber’s “Muscular” pose in “College Hall” amuses, to say the least. But occasionally, as in “College Garden,” his sensuality and yearning anticipate the best of the Decadents who came at the end of the century. Finally, I’ll add that Faber’s romantic attachment to the legends and traditions of the English medieval monastics once again confirms my point that there remains an abiding affinity between the Oratorian and Benedictine charisms.
A shady seat by some cool mossy spring,
Where solemn trees close round, and make a gloom,
And faint and earthy smells, as from a tomb,
Unworldly thoughts and quiet wishes bring:
Such hast thou been to me each morn and eve;
Best loved when most thy call did interfere
With schemes of toil or pleasure, that deceive
And cheat young hearts; for then thou mad’st me feel
The holy Church more night, a thing to fear.
Sometimes, all day with books, thoughts proud and wild
Have risen, till I saw the sunbeams steal
Through painted glass at evensong, and weave
Their threefold tints upon the marble near,
Faith, prayer, and love, the spirit of a child!
Still may the spirit of the ancient days
Rest on our feasts, nor self-indulgence strive
Nor languid softness to invade the rule,
Manly, severe, and chaste—the hardy school
Wherein our might fathers learnt to raise
Their souls to Heaven, and virtue best could thrive.
They, who have felt how oft the hour is past
In idle, worldly talk, would fain recall
The brazen Eagle that in times of yore
Was wont to stand in each monastic hall;
From whence the Word, or some old Father’s lore,
Or Latin hymns that spoke of sin and death
Were gravely read; and lowly-listening faith
In silence grew, at feast as well as fast.
Sacred to early morn and evening hours,
Another chapel reared for other prayers,
And full of gifts,—smells after noon-day showers,
When bright-eyed birds look out from leafy bowers,
And natural perfumes shed on midnight airs,
And bells and old church-clocks and holy towers,
All heavenly images that cluster round.
The rose, and pink acacia, and green vine
Over the fretted wall together twine,
With creepers fair and many, woven up
Into religious allegories, made
All out of strange Church meanings, and inlaid
With golden thoughts, drunk from the dewy cup
Of morns and evenings spent in that dear ground!
A churchyard with a cloister running round
And quaint old effigies in act of prayer,
And painted banners mouldering strangely there
Where mitered prelates and grave doctors sleep,
Memorials of a consecrated ground!
Such is this antique room, a haunted place
Where dead men’s spirits come, and angels keep
Long hours of watch with wings in silence furled.
Early and late have I kept vigil here:
And I have seen the moonlight shadows trace
Dim glories on the missal’s blue and gold,
The work of my monastic sires that told
Of quiet ages men call dark and drear,
For Faith’s soft light is darkness to the world.