Monthly Archives: March 2016

Happy Easter!

O Sons and Daughers, let us sing!
The King of Heaven, the glorious King
O’er death today rose triumphing. Alleluia!


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Good Friday and the Ring of Power

Today is Good Friday, the day on which Christ was crucified for our sins, and if you know anything about Tolkien, you probably know that it is also the anniversary of the day when Frodo and Sam made it to Mount Doom and destroyed the Ring. It was never a coincidence that Tolkien chose March 25 for this important date in Middle-Earth history (just as it was no coincidence that he chose December 25 as the date the Fellowship set out from Rivendell).

You see, there is a very old tradition that states that the original Good Friday took place on March 25. I’ve heard conflicting reports on whether or not that tradition is accurate, but the important point is that there is a good chance Tolkien had heard of it, him being Catholic and all. Making the day when the power of the Ring is forever broken the same day as when Christ broke the power of sin and death would have been an extremely powerful parallel for a story already rich with Catholic symbols and parallels (there’s a brief mention of Original Sin–“It was fitting that Isildur’s heir should labor to repair Isildur’s fault”–lembas means “life-bread” or “bread of life”, which is a common title for the Eucharist, etc.).

Of course, March 25 is also the Feast of the Annunciation, which is more commonly known, so it’s also possible that Tolkien chose that date for the Ring’s destruction to honor the Annunciation, in which case I have officially lost my mind. But even if I am wrong about why he used March 25, it is still a fascinating parallel to ponder.

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Holy Thursday: The Fourth Cup

With it being Holy Thursday, I wanted to bring this fascinating little presentation out again. I think this was done by a Jewish man who converted to Catholicism, which I find especially interesting because of the parallels between Judaism and Christianity (one was supposed to fulfill the other, after all).

Also, in my mind this just proves that God is really, really clever at doing parallels.


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Different Names for Easter

I was reading an article from uCatholic that addressed the claims that Easter is named after the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar (spoiler alert: it’s not), and in the article, they listed some different names for Easter in different languages. I thought these were pretty cool, so I decided to share them.

  • Bulgarian – Paskha
  • Danish – Paaske
  • Dutch – Pasen
  • Finnish – Pääsiäinen
  • French – Pâques
  • Indonesian – Paskah
  • Italian – Pasqua
  • Lower Rhine German – Paisken
  • Norwegian – Påske
  • Portuguese – Páscoa
  • Romanian – Pasti
  • Russian – Paskha
  • Scottish Gaelic – Càisg
  • Spanish – Pascua
  • Swedish – Påsk
  • Welsh – Pasg

What’s especially interesting is that all of the words listed here are derivatives of the Hebrew word for the Passover, Pesach, which ultimately isn’t too surprising because the Passover feast was supposed to foreshadow Christ’s death on Good Friday. The notable exceptions to this naming convention are the German Ostern and our own English Easter. Why is this?

Well, there are two theories as to how the different names came about. One of those theories we get courtesy of St. Bede the Venerable, who was alive at roughly the same time that Easter/Ostern was being introduced into use (sometime during the 8th century). The peoples using those words used the Teutonic language, and they had a goddess named Eoster (or Eostre). There was a month in the year named after her, Eosturmanath, which just so happened to be about the time when the Resurrection was celebrated. After they converted, they continued to use Eosturmanath to describe that time of the year even though they no longer worshipped Eoster (kind of like how the days of the week are still named after the Germanic/Norse gods even though we don’t worship them).

St. Bede’s direct quote:

“Eosturmanath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month,” and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.”

The other theory is that the name was a mistranslation. Easter Week used to be known as Hebdomada Alba (White Week) because of the tradition for the newly baptized to wear their white garments for the entire week after Easter. Apparently a few people mistranslated the phrase to mean “the shining dawn” or “the shining light of day”, which, in Teutonic, would have been rendered eostarun.

But whatever name you call it, it still remains the most important feast of the liturgical year, the feast around which all of the other feasts are based.

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On Building My Own Violin

It occurred to me that when I first built my violin in October 2014, I said that I was going to write about it on here–and then I realized that it was now March 2016, and I had never gotten around to writing said post. Better late than never, I guess!

I say I built my violin in October 2014, but I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I finished building it in October. I actually got started on it in July, and it took me a few months to complete it. Before you ask, no, I didn’t carve the wooden pieces myself; they came pre-cut in a kit, and all I had to do was assemble them. Oh, and I also had to buy strings and fine tuners (the tailpiece didn’t have them built in).

Why did I build my own violin? Well, when I first asked myself that question, I countered it with, “Why not?” I suppose I was feeling unusually adventurous and wanted something to do over the summer (summers feel empty without 4-H projects to complete). Also, I have come to an important realization about myself–I enjoy a good challenge. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, but I suppose it’s a good thing to discover about myself while I’m still relatively young. And I wanted a chance to work with some higher-quality materials than my trusty Mendini MV300 to see if I could get a violin with a better sound without have to auction my kidneys on the black market.

It was a pretty straightforward process apart from accidentally cracking the wood by one of the F-holes and panicking that all of my work was ruined forever (which is why we have such things as glue). Also, it took a couple of tries for me to get the neck to sit properly against the rest of the body (and I’m still not sure I did it the right way).

It has a few quirks about it–you can see where I can to repair the crack for one thing, but it doesn’t dramatically impact the sound (sometimes you might notice a faint buzzing on the G string if you’re bowing a certain way, but that’s about it). The sound itself is surprisingly clear, especially since I think I put the sound post farther back than it’s supposed to sit. The neck doesn’t angle upward, so the strings sit at a weird distance from the fingerboard, and double-stops can be tricky at times, but I can usually get a good sound out of it.My Violin

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