Reviews for The Ballad of Odo the Hero
Qoheleth chapter 1 . 7/31/2012
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

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...)




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
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

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
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

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
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

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
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

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,

Inspiriting habiliments

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
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

"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".

Yours sincerely,


[ 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
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

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!”


Riddle-me, riddle-me-ree,

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
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

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
really creative.
Qoheleth chapter 1 . 8/27/2011
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

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
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

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
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

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".


Qoheleth chapter 1 . 5/26/2011
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

Since this past month featured a royal wedding, it seemed appropriate that this month's reminder involve the hobbies of the British upper classes in some way. And since I happen to have in my possession a book of 161 question and answers on the subject of "Heraldry, Ancestry, and Titles" by a former editor of Burke's Peerage, the opportunity was simply too good to pass up. (Of course, if L. G. Pine knew that I was using his book to inspire you to write a story around Pope Paul VI's Malachy-List motto, he, as a good Anglican, would probably have had a fit, but, hey, that's life.) Here, therefore, without further ado, is your Malachy reminder for this month.


Q. 108: What are courtesy titles?

A: These are the secondary titles of peers that are used by their sons out of courtesy. No subject seems to exercise more difficulty than this one. Yet, if one thinks about it, it is quite simple. Consider the titles born by the Duke of Marlborough. He is, beside his dukedom, Marquess of Blandford, Earl of Sunderland, Earl of Marlborough, Baron Spencer, and Baron Churchill. Clearly, the Duke cannot use all these titles at once. It therefore seems quite in order for his eldest son to be styled by his father’s best secondary title. Thus, the Duke’s son is called, out of courtesy, the Marquess of Blandford. He is not a peer, and, being a commoner, can stand for and sit in the House of Commons.

Courtesy titles are found in each rank of the peerage, but they are only recognisable as peerage titles when they belong to earldoms, marquessates, or dukedoms. A Viscount may also be a baron, but, even so, his eldest son will be called the Hon. So-and-So. The latter is also a courtesy title, but it is not a peerage dignity. With earls, it is very unlikely that they will not possess a secondary or even tertiary peerage; the theory is that a man was created through various grades until he reached the dignity of an earl. Thus, today, anyone created an earl is likely or almost certain to have a viscounty conferred on him also.



Qoheleth chapter 1 . 4/25/2011
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

A nice, simple reminder this time. Since each of the 176 verses of Psalm 118 is an independent stanza in its own right, I thought I'd send everyone the appropriately numbered verse(s) - in the Knox translation, since you can probably find the King James or Douay versions on your own. Whether this will help you write "Flos Florum" or not, I have no idea, but I figured it was worth a try.

Verse 108: "Nay, Lord, accept these vows of mine; teach me to do Thy bidding."


Qoheleth chapter 1 . 3/4/2011
Dear SuGaRLiLy:

This month's reminder (like, I believe, one other reminder many moons ago) comes from the classic Eastern Orthodox devotional collection known as the Philokalia, which contains numerous numbered lists of short texts for meditation, making it perfect for my purposes. The specific list from which your reminder of "Flos Florum" is taken is known as the Four Centuries (i.e., 400 texts) on Love, by the great St. Maximus the Confessor.

A word about this St. Maximus. Born in Constantinople around A.D. 580, he abandoned a civil service career for the monastic life and became one of the most distinguished theologians of his era, participating with distinction in many of the major theological disputes of the time. His stand against the official Monothelitism of Emperor Constans II inspired H. G. Beck to call him "perhaps the last independent thinker among the theologians of the Byzantine church"; it also got him exiled to what is now the Republic of Georgia, where he died in 662. Among the Eastern Orthodox, St. Maximus's holiness and learning are legendary; no other author has so much space devoted to his work in the Philokalia. Nor has the West forgotten him; in addition to the Beck comment quoted above, the future Pope Benedict XVI identified him in "Behold the Pierced One" as "the great theological interpreter" of Dithelite Christology, and credited him with working out "the central distinction which is fundamental to the Council [Constantinople III]" - thereby placing him on a par with Sts. Athanasius, Leo the Great, and Cyril of Alexandria. (Unlike these others, St. Maximus has not yet been declared a Doctor of the Church, but it can only be a matter of time.) His feast day is celebrated on August 13.

Now: on with the texts!

#108 (2nd Century, text 8): He who drives out self-love, the mother of the passions, will with God’s help easily rid himself of the rest, such as anger, irritation, rancor, and so on. But he who is dominated by self-love is overpowered by the other passions, even against his will. Self-love is the passion of attachment to the body.

#219 (3rd Century, text. 19): There are four kinds of men who hoard wealth: the self-indulgent man, the conceited man, the man who lacks faith, and the treasurer or bursar. Clearly, it is only the last who conserves it for a good purpose – namely, so as always to have the means of supplying everyone’s basic needs.

#330 (4th Century, text. 30): If a brother happens to be tempted and persists in insulting you, do not be driven out of your state of love, even though the same evil demon should trouble your mind. You will not be driven out of that state if, when abused, you bless; when slandered, you praise; and, when tricked, you maintain your affection. This is the way of Christ’s philosophy; if you do not follow it, you do not share His company.


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