Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I'm leaving on a jet plane.......

Off on holidays with my wife and stepson.

Three days with the folks on Saltspring Island, British Columbia and then off for a week to the Sorrento Centre in the interior of the Province. I first went to Sorrento with my parents in about 1967 or thereabouts and have made my way back there periodically.

It's a magical place filled with grace and good memories. I'm hoping that my new family will sense some of what I sensed there.

Will finish up with a couple of days bumping around the Rockies before getting on the plane in Calgary and returning to Scotland.

And, as it turns out, it's also good for you!

Abundant, grainy and not overly expensive. Think of it as Red River Cereal for the soul. We know already that incense is an appropriate symbol of the soul's ascent and a means of hallowing or 'pointing to' significant places or actions - something which enjoys both clear Biblical warrant and obvious analogues in other religious traditions.

But is it good for you? From the reaction of certain folks it might appear not:
... Consider this symptom of distaste: the Protestant Frankincense Cough, a psychosomatic or (as we used to say) hysterical phenomenon. People who disapprove of incense often respond like Pavlov's dogs to the dinner-bell. I, way up in the sanctuary of my last parish, could merely hold up an unlit thurible, for one dear soul, thirty yards away, to hack and retch as if gassed. Her Scotch blood, perhaps: she only had to see an incense machine to think of popery (rather than pot-pourri), and she couldn't think of popery without gagging on the thought of Inquisitions, idolatry of false bones, pyres at Smithfield, Armadas, papal concubines, Jesuit assassins -- and of Galileo, mocking Abbés in powdered periwigs, salacious nuns, the Provisional Irish Republican Army bombing schools -- .
Now Fr Major has, I suspect, never been accused of understating a case. Nonetheless there is much unhappiness on the part of some people when the new rector begins to slowly and carefully introduce the practise on selected Sunday mornings. Not all of it has to do with the physical effects of the stuff.

This just in: It is now being suggested that the components of frankincense act to reduce anxiety and depression - at least among mice.

Those short unhappy lives, marked by high heartrates and quick dashes between corners of the kitchen looking for crumbs and dodging the cat and the householder's broom. If such lives can be made tolerable with the addition of a little frankincense think of what it can do for you.

If you've not read the irascible Fr Richard Major's (as yet) uncompleted series of articles on the Mass entitled 'The Freeze-Frame Mass" it's worth a read. The link sends you to a table of contents. Look a little further and you'll see a link to download the .pdf file

I heard some vile little creature cheering him on at certain points and realized, to my shame, that it was me.