|Reviews for The Ballad of Odo the Hero|
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 11/1/2012
If you're looking for something to revive your interest in "Flos Florum", here's a thought. Why not see if you can conceal either the throne name or the birth name of your motto's pope somewhere in the text of the story? It's not impossible; witness the following passage by Ssjshadic, who, as far as I know, wasn't even trying to do it in "The Final Game": “But the blow had been too much, and the mustached Koopa ultimately couldn’t resist descending into a comatose state.”
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 9/27/2012
Since this whole monthly business of ours is about remembering something, it was probably only a matter of time before my thoughts turned to "In Memoriam", the classic poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, consisting of 131 numbered cantos of mourning for Tennyson's friend Arthur Hallam. While I hope I never have occasion to mourn "Flos Florum", it seemed appropriate, none the less, to send you the appropriate canto for this month's reminder. Enjoy.
“I will not shut me from my kind,
And, lest I stiffen into stone,
I will not eat my heart alone,
Nor feed with sighs a passing wind.
“What profit lies in barren faith,
And vacant yearning, though with might
To scale the heaven’s highest height
Or dive below the wells of death?
“What find I in the highest place
But mine own phantom chanting hymns?
And on the depths of death there swims
The reflex of a human face.
“I’ll rather take what fruit may be
Of sorrow under human skies;
’Tis held that sorrow makes us wise,
Whatever wisdom sleep with thee.”
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 8/27/2012
As you know, every pope and antipope whose motto appears on the Malachy List was once a cardinal. (Well, actually, that's not strictly true, but since "Ex Eremo Celsus" isn't currently assigned, I'm not going to worry about St. Celestine V.) And every cardinal, of course, is the canon of a particular church in Rome. This seems a good thing to build a reminder around. So: if you ever happen to be in Rome, may I recommend that you stop by Paul VI's old church of Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti? Maybe you could pray there about what to do with "Flos Florum". It's worth a shot, right?
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 7/31/2012
Some time ago, you may recall, I gave a list of all the Malachites who were still receiving reminders, and urged them to share their old reminders with each other. As far as I know, nobody took me up on that, so it's likely enough that you all still don't know which mottoes the others have. For this month, therefore, I'm giving you a chance to find out.
Have you ever heard of something called the Beaufort cipher? If not, you can look it up. It's a means of coding and decoding messages with the aid of a 26x26 grid of letters and a key word or phrase. I have used it to convert all the mottoes of the active Malachites, using their pen names (or what were their pen names at this time last month) as the key phrases. (For instance, "Flos Florum", using "SuGaRLiLy" as the key phrase, becomes "NJSI MAUUEG".)
All the resulting cryptograms are listed under my signature; with a little research and ingenuity, it should be quite a straightforward matter for you to determine the names and mottoes of your fellow Malachites. (Particularly if I mention that there will be a prize for the person who can solve the most...)
EW CDROQQ PYPMA
FCUO SLAEA KJCPZ
GYIOE KA XQFPO GQWQQ
JA LWVJN AW WEXZA
JU CEPQPWV OORSHVEW
KV UFXNRJ IYWZGPH
OQKMYOO ZZFDS VZYHDGY
SA LUCKPA BPBYVRR
WQ PERMGSWE GAMCEV
XI VJHK GWTJJ
XR UJPNU LCXEJRP
YRMZ WK WOQWJJEFK CJYKA
Note: The Latin diphthongs Æ and Œ are here considered as pairs of letters, and, in the case of any pen name containing digits, the numbers are rendered as a Roman numeral. Punctuation is ignored.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 6/27/2012
I have in my possession a 1993 copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which includes an entry on every pope and antipope traditionally associated with the mottoes on the Malachy List. (Well, all right, not quite *every* pope. Joseph Ratzinger, though an important curial official who was recognized as one of the great theological minds of his generation, hadn't yet been elected pope in 1993, and so that year's Britannica didn't bother to give him an article - though they did find room for Hans Küng, go figure. But, since "De Gloria Olivæ" isn't currently assigned to any Malachite, I'm not going to sweat that.) It occurred to me that, if you imagine the first twelve volumes of the Britannica as a sort of loop in which "a-ak" follows "Żywiec", then every article had a good chance of having a sort of antipode article, one that was farther from it in either direction than any other – and, moreover, that the antipode article of a pope would make a good basis for a Malachy reminder for the person who had that pope's motto. Accordingly, I counted all the articles in those twelve volumes (which is why this reminder is so late; have you ever tried to make a tally like that?) and, having by some miracle not gone blind, worked out the appropriate article for every active Malachite's reminder. I therefore propose, if your inspiration is flagging on "Flos Florum", that you get the juices flowing again by challenging yourself to work in – drumroll, please – Nicephorus Chumnus (a minor classical scholar and statesman of 13th-/14th-Century Byzantium). Thank you.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 4/6/2012
You may remember the Page 394 Challenge that inspired a few stories on this site a while back. The idea was to pick the five books nearest to you that had at least 394 numbered pages, open each one to page 394, write down the second sentence on that page, and then write a story containing all five sentences. (I tried this once, but never got very far with it - my father's taste in literature being partially responsible, since I was in our living room when I chose my sentences.)
Well, of course, this is the Malachy Challenge, not the Page 394 Challenge - but, all the same, it seemed an entertaining notion, for this month's reminder, to send you five sentences that you might have been obliged to work into "Flos Florum" had it been a Page 108 Challenge. Feel free to actually use any or all of them, or just to amuse yourself by guessing what books I got them out of. (In the latter case, you may find it useful to know that I took them in a clump off my shelves, and I alphabetize my books by title.)
“David felt put in his place.”
“After lying for a couple of minutes on his back, he snapped his fingers, and recalled with a smile that he now owned nearly four hundred souls.”
“They were: Why did Lord Edgware change his mind on the subject of divorce?”
“I call them Every Bowls because they are everything to us.”
“‘I’m going to telephone Miss Match,’ he said, when they were alone in the study.”
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 2/24/2012
It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by... well, Lake Michigan, anyway, that I send out two catechism-themed reminders to the Malachites, one involving the Baltimore Catechism and the other involving the CCC. This latter, however, never really satisfied me, and I found myself wishing that there was a version of the CCC that was arranged in the concise Q&A format of the Baltimore Catechism, which is much better suited to Malachy reminders than the nearly 3,000 sprawling paragraphs of the Johannipauline Catechism.
Well, it turns out that there is just such a version. I therefore present to you, as this month's reminder, all the sections of the "Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church" that correspond to the Malachy-List position of "Flos Florum". (The numbers in parentheses in front of the answers, by the way, indicate which sections of the full Catechism those answers are drawn from; they do not, as may appear at first, identify the years during which the answers were or will be valid.)
Q. 108: Why did Jesus manifest the Kingdom by means of signs and miracles?
A. (547-550, 567): Jesus accompanied His words with signs and miracles to bear witness to the fact that the Kingdom is present in Him, the Messiah. Although He healed some people, He did not come to abolish all evils here below, but rather to free us especially from the slavery of sin. The driving out of demons proclaimed that His Cross would be victorious over “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31).
Q. 219: What place does the liturgy occupy in the life of the Church?
A. (1071-1075): The liturgy, as the sacred action par excellence, is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed, and it is likewise the font from which all her power flows. Through the liturgy, Christ continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through His Church.
Q. 330: What is the effect of the ordination to the diaconate?
A. (1569-1571, 1596): The deacon, configured to Christ, the Servant of all, is ordained for service to the Church. He carries out this service, under the authority of his proper bishop, by the ministry of the Word, of divine worship, of pastoral care, and of charity.
Q. 441: Is it possible to keep the Decalogue?
A. (2074, 2082): Yes, because Christ, without whom we can do nothing, enables us to keep it with the gift of His Spirit and His grace.
Q. 552: How can “adoration” be defined?
A. (2628): Adoration is the humble acknowledgement by human beings that they are creatures of the thrice-holy Creator.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 1/22/2012
This month's reminder corrects a long-standing area of negligence on my part. Here I've been, for Heaven knows how many years, sending out reminders drawn from numbered lists of 111 or more passages from literature, and I've never once called upon Emily Dickinson. Shameful.
Anyway, following is the 108th poem in her compilation of nature poetry. (I should warn you, though, that the book I took it from gives the editor-approved version of Dickinson's poems, with normal punctuation instead of just dashes all over the place. Take this, if you like, as an indication of how lucky you are not to have to get "Flos Florum" past an editor when you finally write it.)
* * * * *
Before you thought of spring,
Except as a surmise,
You see, God bless his suddenness,
A fellow on the skies
Of independent hues,
A little weather-worn,
Of indigo and brown.
With specimens of song,
As if for you to choose,
Discretion in the interval,
With gay delays he goes
To some superior tree
Without a single leaf
And shouts for joy to nobody
But his seraphic self!
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 12/16/2011
"I dare not say that he is never in error, but, to speak plainly, I hardly know any other writer who seems to be closer, or more continually close, to the spirit of Christ Himself." So wrote C. S. Lewis in the introduction to his anthology of selections from the writings of George Macdonald. High praise indeed, considering the source; given this, and the fact that the anthology contained 365 numbered selections, it seemed only fitting to use the book as a Malachy reminder. Here, therefore, are the selections corresponding to "Flos Florum".
[ 108 ] The Way of Understanding
He who does that which he sees, shall understand; he who is set upon understanding rather than doing, shall go on stumbling and mistaking and speaking foolishness... It is he that runneth that shall read, and no other. It is not intended by the Speaker of the Parables that any other should know intellectually what, known but intellectually, would be for his injury - what, knowing intellectually, he would imagine he had grasped, perhaps even appropriated. When the pilgrim of the truth comes on his journey to the region of the parable, he finds its interpretation. It is not a fruit or a jewel to be stored, but a well springing by the wayside.
[ 219 ] Impossibilities
"I thank thee, Lord, for forgiving me, but I prefer staying in the darkness: forgive me that too." - "No; that cannot be. The one thing that cannot be forgiven is the sin of choosing to be evil, of refusing deliverance. It is impossible to forgive that. It would be to take part in it."
[ 330 ] Prudence
Had he had more of the wisdom of the serpent... he would perhaps have known that to try too hard to make people good is one way to make them worse; that the only way to make them good is to be good - remembering well the beam and the mote; that the time for speaking comes rarely, the time for being never departs.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 11/16/2011
Nothing inspires literature like nursery rhymes. Just ask the late Dame Agatha Christie, who wrote at least six murder mysteries around the poems of Mother Goose. It therefore seems only fitting that this month's reminder draw on "The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes", which contains 549 of the childhood doggerels, numbered in a rather whimsical alphabetical scheme. Enclosed are the four that match your motto's number; hopefully, one of them will suggest an idea for "Flos Florum".
My dame has lost her shoe;
My master’s lost his fiddlestick,
And knows not what to do.
Higglety, pigglety, pop!
The dog has eaten the mop.
The pig’s in a hurry;
The cat’s in a flurry,
Higglety, pigglety, pop!
My little old man and I fell out;
“How shall we bring this matter about?”
“Bring it about as well as you can,
And get you gone, you little old man!”
A hawk sat up in a tree,
And he says to himself, says he,
“Lord! what a fine bird I be!”
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 10/15/2011
Something occurred to me around the time I sent out last month's reminder. Most of the Malachy Challenge reminders are personalized according to the respondent's motto, so that each participant receives a different chess factoid, magic trick, Maximus the Confessor quote, etc. It follows that each of you has, since you joined the Challenge, received innumerable reminders that would be brand-new to any of your fellow Malachites.
Therefore, instead of sending out a new reminder this month, I'm going to propose that you get in touch with the others and share your old reminders with them. It'll be a marvelous thing - a party in your inbox, if you will. A Markov can give you the couplet of the sonnet that begins, “Those parts of thee that the world’s eye doth view…” Bonnie-incognito can explain why the Malachy Challenge and Charms research don’t go together. Bookwormofmassiveproportions can tell you how the chess grandmaster Arthur Dake was once mated in nine moves - while playing White, no less. Captain Kurt Hoffman can give you the key of the original "Ghostly Trio". Erie Maxwell can tell you the answer to the question, "Which is the chief sacramental used in the Church?" Handschuhmaus can share with you how Msgr. Ronald Knox managed to make "The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from Thy precepts" start with an N. Knightlee can give you the secret connection between her Malachy motto and rampant imposters on the Totus Pius blog. Lily22 can tell you which Triple Crown race was won by a horse named Vagrant in 1876. My Dead Tenshi can enlighten you on how St. Alphonsus Liguori's "Stimoli ad una religiosa per avanzarsi nell' amore del suo divino Sposo Gesù-Cristo" differs from his earlier "Stimoli a' Religiosi per avanzarsi nella perfezione del loro stato". Name On The Spine can tell you about the mystic powers contained in the phrase, "Qoheleth, please help me." Simply script can identify the doorkeeper of the interior life. Syuveil can tell you how the lower kind of fear of God is expelled from the human soul. Xxjonibaby can explain why “Ashes” would be an inappropriate hymn to include in the Divine Office. XXBrightsideBumblebeeXx can tell you what the Lord Great Chamberlain of England does to earn his daily bread. And then there are Cantare, Fye Kurokawa, OSUSprinks, and Your Existence, who can likewise share their reminders with you; the original KeT and xXIt’s Only The NightXx, who don’t need to share their reminders, since most of their recent ones (like yours) are publicly visible among their reviews; and DrakkenWasHere, phieosophy, Tyche Nemesis, and zueee, who, sadly, haven’t received any reminders recently, since they’ve rendered themselves incommunicado. (But don’t let that spoil your fun. Just say the word, and I’ll be glad to send you the reminders they *would* have gotten, had they been a bit more sociable.)
| The Terrible Jester chapter 1 . 9/16/2011
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 8/27/2011
This month's reminder comes from St. Josemaría Escrivá's book "The Way", which the estimable founder of Opus Dei very thoughtfully divided into 999 short, numbered sections - just enough for every single Malachite to get 9. Here, therefore, are the ones that correspond to "Flos Florum".
108. Following the words of a foreign author, I’ll tell you that your apostolic life is worth only as much as your prayer.
219. If you realize that those sufferings – physical or spiritual – are purification and merit, bless them.
330. How sad you make me feel when you are not sorry for your venial sins! For you won’t have begun to have true interior life until you are.
441. You are hurt by your neighbor’s lack of charity toward you. Think how God must be hurt by your lack of charity – of love – toward Him!
552. Have only a few private devotions, but be constant in them.
663. You ask me to suggest a cure for your sadness. I’m going to give you a prescription that comes from an expert advisor, the Apostle James: “Is any of you sad?” Are you sad, my son? “Let him pray,” he says. Try and you’ll see.
774. Steps: to be resigned to the will of God; to conform to the will of God; to want the will of God; to love the will of God.
885. One pin prick. And another. And another. Suffer them, man! Don’t you see that you are so little that in your life – in your way – you can offer Him only these little crosses? Besides, look: one cross upon another – one pin prick, and another – what a huge pile! Finally, child, you have learned to do one really big thing: to love.
996. You have a poor idea of your way, if lack of enthusiasm makes you think you have lost it! It is the moment of trial; that is why you have been deprived of all sensible consolations.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 7/27/2011
As you are doubtless aware, the traditional symbol of papal authority was the triple tiara, a threefold crown signifying the Pope's triple office as priest, prophet, and king. As you are also doubtless aware, the American Triple Crown is a series of three great horse races that has been occurring annually (with five exceptions) for - you guessed it - over 111 years. Therefore, I have a perfect excuse to use this month's Malachy reminder to deluge you with racing statistics. Joy.
So here goes. The 108th annual running of the American Triple Crown occurred in 1987; in that year, Alysheba, ridden by Chris McCarron, won the Kentucky Derby (with a time of 2 minutes and 3.4 seconds) and the Preakness Stakes (with a time of 1 minute and 55.8 seconds), while Bet Twice, ridden by Craig Perret, won the Belmont Stakes with a time of 2 minutes and 28.2 seconds.
There you have it. Now: you get busy writing "Flos Florum", or next month I'll do the same thing with the English Triple Crown.
| Qoheleth chapter 1 . 6/27/2011
For this month's Malachy reminder, I'm falling back on the classics. The musical kind, I mean - the kind, that is, with opus numbers. Specifically, I'm falling back on the 138 pieces Ludwig van Beethoven composed that were published during his lifetime. So, if you're looking for some sort of musical inspiration to help you write "Flos Florum", you might consider Opus 108: the 25 Folk-Song Settings, for "Music, Love, and Wine", "Sunset", "O Sweet Were the Hours", "The Maid of Isla", "The Sweetest Lad Was Jamie", "Dim, Dim Is My Eye", "Bonnie Laddie, Highland Laddie", "The Lovely Lass of Inverness", "Behold, My Love", "Sympathy", "O! Thou Art the Lad of My Heart, Willie", "O, Had My Fate Been Join'd with Thine", "Come Fill, Fill, My Good Fellow!", "O, How Can I Be Blithe and Glad", "O Cruel Was My Father", "Could This Ill World Have Been Contriv'd", "O Mary, at Thy Window Be", "Enchantress, Farewell", "O Swiftly Glides the Bonny Boat", "Faithfu' Johnie", "Jeanie's Distress", "The Highland Watch", "The Shepherd's Song", "Again, My Lyre, Yet Once Again", and "Sally in Our Alley".