Vigil and the Tears of St Lawrence

The other day I posted a rather introspective post about my attitude these days, quoting Stevie Ray Vaughn’s version of

The Sky Is Crying

Well, the sky really is crying right now, and not with rain but with burning comet dust.

Today is the Vigil of St. Lawrence, in the older, traditional Roman calendar, replete with purple vestments. Before our feasts we Catholics do some penance.

What this also means, however, is that it is time for the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, so called because the meteors appear to be streaking out from within the constellation Perseus.

And the shower has been traditionally nicknamed the Tears of St. Lawrence.

Each year your little whirling blue ball zooms through the debris of a comet named Swift-Tuttle.

So, those of you in the northern hemisphere should get out there and watch the meteors. If you have children, make a plan. I have fond memories of looking into the heavens as a kid.

From SpaceWeather for 7 August

PERSEID METEOR SHOWER INTENSIFIES: The Perseid meteor shower is underway as Earth enters a stream of debris from giant comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. International observers are reporting as many as 18 meteors per hour from dark-sky sites–rates that could increase 5-fold by the time the shower peaks this weekend. On August 6th, Catalin Tapardel caught this early Perseid crossing a satellite over Kakwa, Alberta, Canada:

“I went out in order to get some shots of the Milky Way and I realized there were quite a few Perseids, too,” he says. “As I was shooting, I realized moving my flashlight around the bushes that a lynx was staring at me! Not a big cat, but scary to watch it, staying still as a sphinx, looking at me….”

Wildcats are something to think about when you consider these Perseid observing tips: Number one, get away from city lights. Rural areas are the best places to see a meteor shower. Dress warmly, lie down on a blanket in a safe, dark place, and look up. Perseids can appear in any part of the sky, although all of their tails will point back toward the radiant in the constellation Perseus.

Earth is just in the outskirts of the comet’s debris stream now. Activity will increase as our planet passes through the core of the stream this weekend. The best time to look is during the dark hours before sunrise on Sunday, August 12th, and again on Monday, August 13th. At those times, the shower’s radiant will be high in the sky, spewing meteors in all directions.

Fun tip: Try looking for Perseids around 10 pm local time when the radiant is hugging the northern horizon. At that time, Perseids skim the top of the atmosphere, producing long colorful fireballs known as “Earthgrazers.” You won’t see many, but even one can make your day. Enjoy the show!

EARTHGRAZERS!   If that is not cool, what is?

Friends, if it is clear, I’ll be out there watching the Tears of St Lawrence and I’ll probably listen to


On another note, speaking about my attitude these days, the texts of Vespers for the Vigil of Lawrence spoke directly to my heart, given the complex situation of the Church today. I was much consoled, and I haven’t had a consolation for many moons.  And speaking of the moon, there are verses from Scripture in the Vespers office today which make me think that someone back when, in assembling these prayers, may have known about the Tears of St. Lawrence.   Check out Vespers and see.  HERE

Magnæ Deus poténtiæ,
Qui fértili natos aqua
Partim relínquis gúrgiti,
Partim levas in áëra.

Demérsa lymphis ímprimens,
Subvécta cælis érigens:
Ut stirpe ab una pródita,
Divérsa répleant loca: ….

Not only that, but right now the seminarians of the diocese are all here together with the Extraordinary Ordinary this week, plus.  Today I was able to give all the seminarians a 1962 handmissal from Angelus Press and they will have a Solemn Mass with newly ordained priests and deacons as the ministers on Sunday!  Very cool.  And we old guys aren’t involved!  Furthermore, the opening antiphon for Vespers was:

Ant. Behold how good * and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. 


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    Stevie Ray! Awesome.

    Legend has it that when British guitarist Eric Clapton was visiting the US, he heard Stevie Ray’s playing on his car radio for the first time. “Who is this guy?” Clapton asked himself. “This music is just pouring out of him!” A meeting was arranged and the two jammed together.

    Also, my husband worked with a man who had once played in one of Stevie Ray’s bands. This man said that Stevie Ray had been “a helluva nice guy” to work with.

  2. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    Sorry for too many comments:

    “Spirit in the Sky” – Norman Greenbaum

    “Heaven is Ten Zillion Miles Away” – Stevie Wonder

    “I Was Made to Love Her” – Stevie Wonder (applying the lyrics to a faithful priest-lover singing about the Church)

    And for when you have one of those “I Can’t Take it Anymore” moments “Katmandu” – Bob Seeger

  3. teomatteo says:

    Earthgrazers….hmm….i recently took my family on a rafting expedition thru the Grand Canyon and one night while lying on my cot I saw a point of light just above the canyon rim flair brightly then dim out. My thought was, could a meteor come out of space right at me? Is that what such a trajectory would look like? A wonderous God.

  4. MrsMacD says:

    “Behold how good * and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity”
    I have this on my living room wall, as a reminder to my children to get along and help out, and as encouragement to me to work towards a peaceful home.

    Father, thank you, your last few posts have helped me calm down and take a better perspective on the state of the world around us, both in the Church and in the world at large.
    PS 22:4; “For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me.”

    On Sunday we went to a parish some six hours away from where we live and I missed most of the sermon because it wasn’t in my native tongue but I did catch that he said, If the North American Martyrs had thrown up their hands and given up when they encountered the Natives, and the hardships, then we wouldn’t have our faith and they never would have converted any of the natives, so we should take courage as they did and conquer our country once again for the Sacred Heart.

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    We are listening to Stevie Ray right now! “Couldn’t Stand the Weather”, Capitol Theater.
    Look up cool in Webster’s. Should be Stevie Ray’s picture.
    I was broken hearted when he died. I still pray for him when I think of it. I’d love to meet him in heaven, please God.
    Can’t wait for the Perseids. I got some kids in the family interested a few years ago. We lay out on my sister’s deck in chairs and gaze up while mosquitos chew on us. We should look up at the sky and see the grandeur of God to help us stop thinking about the ____ running things.

  6. Andrew says:

    These Gregory the Great’s vesper hymns mirroring the days of creation from Genesis, are true poetic masterpieces, each starting with a reference to a particular day of creation, followed by a supplication and ending with a final Trinitarian prayer. This one seems to follow Genesis 1:20 – “Then God said: Let the waters teem with an abundance of living creatures and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky..”

    Here’s an English rendition of the same:

    Oh sovereign Lord of nature’s might,
    who bids the water’s birth to divide;
    part in the heavens to take their flight,
    and part in ocean’s deep to hide;

    These low obscured, those on airy
    wing exalted, that either race,
    though from one element they spring,
    might serve thee in a different place.

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