For the past twenty years scientists have been finding planets outside the solar system. Michael Lemonick’s book is an excellent introduction to the science, as well as the story behind it: real people conducting extra-solar exploration.
It’s logical that astronomers find larger planets easier to detect. However, Jupiter-sized planets are not thought to be prime abodes for potential life in the universe. As detection methods improve, smaller and smaller worlds are found. The big hope is to find a place like Earth out there. Oxygen in the atmosphere. Water on the surface. Life getting by.
This book captures the effort to refine detection methods, to uncover new ones, and to move the search for life in the universe from the page of science fiction to telescopes and other tools and the application of human ingenuity to the challenges.
Finding that Earth-sized planet just the right distance from a star is the prize. (Not too close so as to be molten or have a steam atmosphere, and not too far away for a freeze-out.)
Mr Lemonick takes the reader through the excitement, planning, and expectations of the past two decades. The science is presented in such a way so as to be easily understandable to the casual reader. The human stories give added interest.
Spoiler: we haven’t found life off-planet yet. The effort continues. But this really good read gets you up-to-date as of early 2012.
Let’s wrap up BLS, Chapter Three with an important question parishes sometimes face: what happens when its time for retirement? First, bishops are responsible:
§ 166 § Sacred art that is no longer useful or needed or that is simply worn out and beyond restoration deserves to be treated with respect. To insure the protection of worn or used sanctuary furnishings, vessels, vesture, and other liturgical artifacts, many diocesan bishops have issued directives about their proper disposition when they are no longer suitable for worship. In addition, with the closing or merging of parishes, vessels and vestments can be available for the use of other parishes and missions. In disposing of such artifacts pastors should consult the diocesan worship office or chancery to learn what directives or procedures are in effect.
Show of hands: parishes that keep an inventory:
§ 167 § In addition, bishops have exercised their responsibility as stewards of the Church’s artistic resources by encouraging pastors and diocesan personnel to consult with experts and to create an inventory of historic churches and of objects in any church that have artistic or historical value. Such inventories are most helpful when they carefully itemize and list each entry’s value and note any changes to the objects since they were acquired.(Opera Artis 3) Usually two copies are made so that one can be kept at the local parish and the other in the diocesan curia, both as an historical record and for insurance purposes. In some cases, copies are sent to the Vatican library if this is appropriate.
Not just any donation, but one attached to a vow:
§ 168 § Objects of great artistic or historical value or those donated to the Church through a vow may not to be sold without special permission of the Holy See.(canon law 1292 § 2) When such objects are not to be sold but disposed of in some other way, the diocesan bishop should be contacted so that the concerns of donors and the requirements of canon law are fulfilled.
Effortless and free is not the way to go …
§ 169 § Every community knows that if its house of prayer is to radiate the beauty of divine presence, effort and sacrifice will be required. Besides appropriate remuneration for the work of its artists, the community must show its respect for these works by maintaining and preserving them as the years pass. In doing so, they encourage those with artistic aptitudes to continue to serve the community and in this way build up and support a local community of artists worthy of liturgical work. A covenant is established linking artists and congregations, an “alliance between art and the life of religion” through which may be heard an artistic voice “that love inspires and that inspires love.”*
*Pope Paul VI, Address to the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Art in Italy (December 17, 1969) (DOL 540, no. 4326): “This leads us to conclude by encouraging you to act in such a way that, under the aegis of the liturgy, that is, divine worship, a bond of union, an alliance, will be reestablished between modern art and the life of religion. This should contribute to restore to art its two greatest and most characteristic values. The first is beauty, perceptible beauty (id quod visum placet: a beauty grasped in the integrity, proportion, and purity of the work of art; ST 1a, 39.1). The second is that indefinable but vibrant value, the artistic spirit, the lyrical experience in the artist that is reflected in his work. The alliance between art and the life of religion will also succeed in giving again to the Church, the Bride of Christ, a voice that love inspires and that inspires love.
“There is a second concluding point to which Vatican Council II attributes particular importance. Before anticipating a new epiphany for sacred art, as though it could spontaneously give itself a new birth and new creativity, we must take pains with the formation of artists. As always we must begin with the education of the person (see SC 127).”
Education is important. But it is usually one of the last stages, not one of the first. Some might suggest that the evangelization of an artist is a beginning, in the sense that an artist must come to know the Church, and to know Jesus Christ before embarking on a work of art. It might be that conversion is part of that evangelization. But it might also be that an artist values the encounter with the inspiration for the art. And by the way, since when are we concerned more with with what people give us, and not the person herself or himself?
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Busy day today. First Reconciliation this morning. Thirteen second-graders, plus family. Still out of the church, so our lower lounge, ordinarily the setting for social life and large group catechesis, filled in as a space for worship.
Left, one of four confessor stations.
Catholics devote lots of pen and internet strokes to the orientation of the priest at Mass. I’ve never seen any discussion of the orientation at Penance. The old confessional booth usually finds the priest facing at right angles from the penitent, who is usually oriented toward the confessor.
Outside of the booth and leaving the screen behind, what orientation makes sense? Different priests I’ve worked with have different opinions. One liked to have the chairs facing each other. That is the way the “face-to-face” option is usually set up in the reconciliation chapel upstairs. Other confessors opt for side-by-side.
When we’re in our church, some stations are set up in pews, so the orientation is more the former. Otherwise, I angle the chairs at ninety degree, as imaged here.
Which makes sense given the Catholic understanding of Penance? Would some arrangements, and some clergy attitudes, cloud the action of Christ in the sacrament?