ROME 22/10 – Day 20: Pizzas, Postcards and Pipsqueaks

Sunrise in Rome was scheduled for 07:26, and it happened. Sunset has been arranged by our Creator for 18:23. Today the Ave Maria bells moves up to 18:30 from 18:45. Time marches on. It is the Feast of St. John Cantius in the traditional calendar.    He was famous in life for his great generosity to the poor.  In the intellectual sphere his scientific work anticipated Galileo and Newton on the theory of impetus.

Anecdote: The other day I was at the Piazza der Fico when some real characters from central casting play chess, or was passes for it.  They engaged me a bit, as Romans will, dressed as I was as a priest.   One of the younger of the gang, sprawl carelessly in a plastic chair magisterially announced that the Catholic Church is against science.  I asked for an example and he came up with the Church saying the world was created in six days and the Big Bang.  In that context let’s just say that he “hanged mate”.   Side-stepping the issue of creation and days, I asked him what his opinion was of the work of Fr. Georges Lemaître.  “Who the (uncouth word) is he?”  He’s the guy who came up with the theory that phenomenon of galaxies receding from each other is explainable by an expanding universe.”  Blank stare.  He’s the guy who came up with the Big Bang theory.

Anyway, St. John Cantius, who died in 1473, worked on Burdian’s theory of impetus, trying to describe motion against gravity.

Some of you might remember this.  It seems a lifetime ago.

Meanwhile, to satisfy those who like the food pics.   There is a piazza by the slice place in the Jewish “ghetto” quarter where the kosher pizza is spectacular.  The pizza scene has over the last years been revolutionized.   The game was kicked up about a hundred notches by Gabriele Bonci.

In the little S.M. di Loreto, next to Trajan’s Column, there is an altar dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo, an amazing saint whose impact on the Church endures today.  Above the altar is this image of the great Bishop of Milan.  I believe it shows San Carlo giving Holy Communion to a victim of the Black Plague: the setting is outside and not in a church, there is a languish figure in the background.  Note the figure carrying the tricerium, the three-fold candle.

In the same church we find a statue of St. Expeditus, about whom I wrote recently.

In Santa Prassede this guy saw the consistory list.


Here I am, mailing post cards to a few particularly helper donors for this Roman sojourn.  This is to prove that I mailed them for, it being Italian post, I have no idea in which year they might reach there destination.  You might have two questions.  First, yes, those are scars.  Second, I didn’t use Vatican Post because I avoid going there as much as possible: I find it very creepy over there, as if the very air is greasy with something wrong.

Your use of my Amazon affiliate link is a major part of my income. It helps to pay for insurance, groceries, everything. Please remember me when shopping online. Thanks in advance.   US HERE – UK HERE

Right now I am reading Scott Hahn’s newest

Holy Is His Name: The Transforming Power of God’s Holiness in Scripture

It has a forward by Peter Kreeft.  That’s a really good sign in itself.     The book explores what “holiness” is.  We often talk about holiness.  But what is it?

The holy Benedictines of Le Barroux are making very good wine with an interesting story.  How about some for Thanksgiving?

Priestly chess players, drop me a line. HERE


I have an affiliate program with a Chess GM with the terrific name of Igor Smirnov, which summons images. In any event, and I’ve related this before, I had a terrible OTB and online slump. One of his online courses pulled me out of that slump and I won a bunch of games in a row against some strong opponents. He is a good teacher. Not all online chess instructors are good teachers. Here’s a new course he has on the middle game.

And your puzzle.  White to move for great material and positional advantage.

Some updates.   I was asked by email what flowers I now have in the apartment. I still that that alstroemeria! It is getting to the end, but it is still lovely. All the blooms are well opened.

In other news, I retrieved a cassock that needed some work. My tailor is a wizard. Also, I spoke with the goldsmith about my chalice which, after over 30 years of use, needed refurbishing. I’ll go have a look at the progress early next week. However, he told me he was able to reset the gems on the node so that the now receive light! They no longer look like black solids, but sparkle (I hope) as the green garnets that they are. I look forward to seeing how he solved the problem.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Neal says:

    1. Nxg6 fxg6
    2. Rg3
    Pins the queen.

  2. Neal says:

    2. Rf3

  3. GregB says:

    I love how you handled the Big Bang conversation. It is amazing how many people don’t know about Fr. Georges Lemaître. An uncrewed European ATV cargo transport to the space station was named in his honor.

  4. The Masked Chicken says:

    The issue of science and its relationship to religion is an interesting one. It is on my list of books to write if I live to be 200.

    There seems to be contradictory opinions within the Church regarding “our science” and “their science” at the present time. On the one hand, LeMaitre is honored, but on the other hand, much of current molecular biology is vilified. It seems that once human issues become mixed up with science, science takes a back seat. It seems that many people make visceral emotional decisions about such issues, then go looking for data to support their conclusions. How else can one explain that while most people support LeMaitre in the rather impersonal area of astronomy, there is great division within the Church with regards to trans sexuality, gay sex, vaccine use, global warming, etc?

    The Chicken

  5. GregB says:

    The Masked Chicken: The issue is a simple one. It all has to do with human rights. Do we want people reduced to the status of lab rats? Some of the greatest abuses of medicine have taken place when the researchers ignored the humanity of their test subjects. A lot of dehumanizing verbal engineering is done by the people who are pro-abortion. When people talk about following the science the science that they are usually following is that of political science. Astronomical bodies are not made in the image and likeness of God. There are passages in the Bible that directly deal with the subject of male and female and of human sexuality. The passages in Genesis of us being made male and female are backed up by Christ in Matthew 19. There is a field called process theology that says that we have a finite god who is not perfect but is still learning. Sounds like a kissing cousin to moral relativism. This can influence a person’s world view as to God and the sanctity and value of human life and how we should be treated. God the Creator is also the Creator of science. Does He get a say in how the sex act that He created should be used? Or are we kicking God the Creator out of the bedroom and terminating His parental rights?

  6. Kentucky Gent says:

    I’d play the same knight fork Neal suggested.

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear GregB,

    Obviously, science and religion have to interact and religion offers or should offer the moral dimension of science, which, in itself, is amoral. The problem is not so such in the area of human actions, such as regarding issues of sex, abortion, etc. – those matters were resolved millennia, ago (some people just don’t like the answers), but in areas touching humanity in a prudential way. Global warming and vaccines rely on science in a more amoral sense – they either are true or they work or they are false and don’t work – either way, the moral dimensions are secondary. In these cases, as much as people might deny it, often times, they make up their mind as to the veracity of the subject through extra-scientific means and then look for studies to prove their views to be correct. Haidt’s group studying moral formation has argued thus position for years. Often times, people who argue against global warming or vaccines or genetically modified foods, do so more from a feeling than based on facts. Astronomy is about as advanced a climatology (they use similar equations and modeling techniques), and yet, people fete LeMaitre, but vilify climate scientists. This inconsistency is not based on the science, but on other sociological factors.

    We cannot live in a purely scientific society, because science cannot tell us how to live. There is a metaphysical aspect to life, but when science and morality seem to be at odds, one of them has misreasoned about the subject. Pope John Paul II made something like this point in Veritatis splendor. Atheists who think science is all there is and moralists who jump to conclusions about science based on incomplete understandings are both denying the fullness of the human being.

    The Chicken

  8. GregB says:

    On the topic of vaccines, I’ve been following the legal side with the live streams of Viva Frei and Robert Barnes. Viva is a Canadian attorney ex-pat who left Canada because of the behavior of the current government. American attorney Robert Barnes has represented some of the Covington Catholic students. At the beginning of the streams Viva gives disclaimers of no legal advice and no medical advice.
    Barnes has pointed out many legal issues that have taken place with the current vaccines. IIRC he says that some of these issues are unprecedented and more extreme than took place during far more lethal disease outbreaks in the past. The vaccine has been released under emergency use authorization which bars any ability to sue anyone if a person is damaged by the vaccines. The recent pandemic has been deeply politicized. It started with lying about mask use. People who died with covid were often credited with dying from covid. The media censorship of dissent has been arbitrary. People on YouTube couldn’t even say the word covid without triggering censorship. People had to call it the coof and Viva had to call it My Sharona Cyrus. Dissent was crushed in a manner reminiscent of a police state. The people pushing draconian covid measures were often found not obeying their own decrees. Frei and Barnes are moving their discussion over to Rumble to escape YouTube censorship. Currently they are mainly posting on YouTube to direct their viewers to their Rumble content. It has been said that a crisis should never be allowed to go to waste. Unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats can use a crisis to seize more power which they are reluctant to give up. Concentration of power can be corrupting.
    From what I’ve read the weather computer models have a high degree of sensitivity to the beginning state of the system. The climate change proponents on one hand say that there is a difference between weather and climate, but they are just as willing to push extreme weather as a signal of human caused climate change as their opponents are in the opposite direction. Climate change claims might be more credible if people like Obama weren’t buying oceanfront properties and John Kerry wasn’t busy jet setting around on private jets. It’s interesting how many people view other people’s carbon footprint as evil while ignoring their own carbon footprint. California says that they want to mandate electric car use while placing limitations on recharging the EVs currently in use because of their power grid. How are poor people who can only afford a beater car to get to work with expected to buy an EV? When an EV has a dead battery pack the cost to replace it can exceed the resale value of the EV. This can also be applied to HVAC systems. How many people can afford to take this kind of hit to their budgets? Especially people who live from paycheck to paycheck. People have not been thinking this through. It displays a profound ignorance of supply chain logistics and provisioning. New astronomical insights rarely trigger wrenching changes to the way people are expected live and work. The ruling class establishment elites live in their own bubble world where they are insulated from the consequences of their rules. On a lot of subjects there is no real shared sacrifice. Actions speak louder than words. Their behavior as much as anything plays a role in discrediting the agendas that they are pushing.

  9. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear GregB,

    I do not want to wade into the vaccine mess, because it is too personal and too painful. While I respect Viva Frei and have enjoyed watching his channel, the issues he raises regarding the vaccine are far more complicated than just questions of legality and personal freedom. For one thing, it would benefit both Frei and Barnes to take a course in medical history to see how actions in the face of medical crises have evolved as knowledge has expanded. I cannot speak about politicians, but most scientists who were working on Covid research really wanted to get things right. Science is a self-correcting process (although, it can be slow) and if politicians had kept their noses out of things, perhaps we would have had a more even-handed and rational response. I never thought the CDC was politically motivated until I saw how they reacted under both Trump and Biden. I wish they were independent of government interference.

    You wrote:

    From what I’ve read the weather computer models have a high degree of sensitivity to the beginning state of the system.

    This is true, but so do astronomical models (we, in fact, do not know if the solar system is stable). Both are governed by nonlinear differential or partial differential equations that may work in the chaotic regime, which shows sensitivity to initial conditions. Weather modeling tries to get around that using three different computer centers that run the same data with different initial conditions. If they converge, then the predictions have more confidence.

    As for climate change. There is no doubt that climate is changing. The question has always been how much man is forcing it to change. This should be a solvable question, but, again, politics is contaminating the science.

    The Chicken

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