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Maria Lectrix

Public domain audiobooks, six days a week, for folks with a Catholic taste in literature. Enjoy! Clan Honor Mondays: Fitz-James O'Brien works. Lit Tuesdays: Short stories, novels, or poems. Acts of the Wednesdays: Early Christian works. Mystery Thursdays: Mystery short stories or novels. Lit Fridays: Short stories, novels, or poems. Saintly Saturdays: Later Christian works.

Mary reading to ChristA Vatican Library catalog page, 1518

Friday, December 30, 2005

#71: The Imitation of Christ, Book 3, Part 2, by Thomas a Kempis

I'm finally starting up again on The Imitation of Christ.

Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18

#70: Sheer Dunsanity -- Week Two!

The second third of Lord Dunsany's Fifty-One Tales.


"The Latest Thing"
"The Demagogue and the Demi-Monde"
"The Giant Poppy"

"The Man with Golden Ear-rings"
"The Dream of King Karna-Vootra"

"The Storm"
"A Mistaken Identity"
"The True History of the Hare and the Tortoise"

"Alone the Immortals"
"A Moral Little Tale"
"The Return of Song"

"Spring in Town"
"How the Enemy Came to Thlunrana"
"A Losing Game"

"Taking Up Piccadilly"
"After the Fire"

#69: Sheer Dunsanity: Week 1!

That's right, folks! A whole three weeks' worth of nothing but short-shorts by Lord Dunsany! I'm reading all Fifty-One Tales in the book. Death! Time! Poetry! Fame! Small gods! More bizarre ideas than you can shake a pen at!

The regular schedule of blogging will resume in seventeen days. Just hold yourself to three tales a day, and you'll get through.

The first week:

"The Assignation"
"The Death of Pan"

"The Sphinx of Gizeh"
"The Hen"
"Wind and Fog"

"The Raft-Builders"
"The Workman"
"The Guest"

"Death and Odysseus"
"Death and the Orange"
"The Prayer of the Flowers"

"Time and the Tradesman"
"The Little City"
"The Unpasturable Fields"

"The Worm and the Angel"
"The Songless Country"

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

While Light Holiday Blogging Continues....

Remember that you can visit some of my other audiobook podcast links.

I've just started listening to Tom Corven, an audiobook about a boy who finds himself alone and amnesiac in a strange world, with an uncanny power within him. It was inspired by the wild landscape of Arran, and the author reading it has a great accent! So I think you'll enjoy it.

BBC 7 as always has some awesome books and book dramatizations to listen to, right now including C.S. Lewis' Perelandra and some Lord Peter Wimsey detection. But I'm excited about Whisky Galore, the saga of a fictional Scottish island faced with a real WWII problem. What to do when whisky is sternly rationed, but a whole boatload going to America gets shipwrecked on your barren isle? I mean, it'd be a sin to let it all go to waste, as even the priest and the preacher agree....

(The book (and the awesomely fun movie, shot on location!) also features a sweet subplot about how an English soldier sets about marrying his island sweetheart, complete with advice from the local bard. It's by Compton Mackenzie, the same gifted and hilarious Scottish writer who came up with Monarch of the Glen, and so there's a bit of a crossover in it. Highly recommended, if you can get ahold of a copy.)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

#68: "A Christmas Mystery: The Story of Three Wise Men" by William J. Locke

Three Edwardian wise men are called to the wilds of Cornwall at Christmas.

"A Christmas Mystery: The Story of Three Wise Men"
34 min.

#67: "Homily 5" from Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew, by St. John Chrysostom

An interesting homily on what the angel said to St. Joseph. I'm not golden-tongued like the sainted bishop/patriarch of Constantinople, but give it a listen!

Homily 5
33 min.

#66: "The First Christmas Tree" by Henry Van Dyke

In this story set in medieval Germany, we meet St. Boniface evangelizing the wilds of Germany. And yes, you'll see the first Christmas tree. Another fine Christmas story from the author of "The Story of the Other Wise Man". Enjoy!

Part 1: The Call of the Woodsman
Part 2: The Trail Through the Forest
Part 3: The Shadow of the Thunder-Oak
Part 4: The Felling of the Tree
55 min.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Blog Announcement

Archive.org is taking its own sweet time again. (Hey, it's a volunteer organization and it's almost Christmas. No big huhu.)

When they process the next couple of podcasts, I'll put 'em up.

You can look forward to a Christmas adventure by the author of "The Story of the Other Wise Man", "A Christmas Mystery" in the wilds of Cornwall, and a sermon from St. John Chrysostom. And more of The Imitation of Christ, which I need to catch up on. Also more Surtees, if I can fit it in; I'm moving Mr. Sponge to Fridays.

Sorry for all the light blogging. I'm in two choirs, and I was not only tired but desperate to save my voice. But hopefully things will settle down a bit. I will be away after the holidays for a while, but I'm going to try to leave folks some kind of backlog to fill the time. (These will probably be much shorter pieces, of course.)

After that, I plan to start in again on Dr. Thorndyke with The Eye of Osiris. I feel much in need of Egyptology and cunning criminals.

Monday, December 19, 2005

#65: "Three of a Trade" by Fitz-James O'Brien

I actually managed to get a little podcasting done! So here's another New Year's story from Fitz-James O'Brien, because back in his day in New York, Santa and Kriss Kringle came at New Year's. (Apparently back in his day, midnight was quiet except for bells, too.)

This one is about two street children who are still awake at midnight, waiting for Kriss Kringle to come. Yes, this is O'Brien. Yes, it's gonna be sad. Hankie alert!

Please note that archive.org's audio pages have changed. The only streaming link is over to the left side, and so are all the file-playing ones. You can still access individual soundfiles by going to the "individual files" or "http" links on the page. This will produce a pop-up window. I am going to keep providing links from here, which should also still work. (They've also changed their editor for file information, so I may actually be able to fix some problems that have been bugging me.)

"Three of a Trade"
15 min.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Blog Announcement

I still don't feel up to snuff, so no more audiobooks for the rest of the week. Sorry, folks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

#64: The Proto-Evangelium of James

The Proto-Evangelium of James is almost certainly not by James or entirely factual. The early Church mostly didn't think it was inspired, either. (All of which are excellent reasons why you won't find it in your Bible.)

However, this second century tale has survived in over 130 mss. That's popularity. It's an interesting blend of Bible fanfic and oral tradition. The Church has traditionally accepted it as containing a few grains of truth, such as the names of Mary's parents. Just don't take it too seriously.

Caveats: At times, the translation is jumbled because the manuscripts are pretty jumbled, too. Also, there's a tiny bit of Part 2 that's not work-safe. When the story mentions Salome, you're almost there.

(Btw, you'll notice that the author of this piece took the Eastern view that James the Less was Joseph's son by a previous marriage, not the Western view that James was Jesus' cousin. However, since Joseph and Mary were apparently cousins, and Aramaic uses the word "brother" for every sort of cousin there is, both interpretations could in fact be true. Ah, the joys of Middle Eastern tribal life, in which marrying some cousin is almost unavoidable, if you marry inside your tribe.)

UPDATE: If you've just been reading Time magazine's cover story about Joseph, and you're looking for The Protevangelium of James... well, The Protevangelium of James is a typo. "Proto-Evangelium" is the search term you want.

Part 1 (from Mary's conception and birth to Mary's pregnancy)
Part 2 (Jesus' nativity to the flight to Egypt)
34 min.

#63: Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour, Part 5, by R.S. Surtees

Mr. Sponge's epic continues, and we learn more about Mr. Sponge's determined and bespectacled foe, Lord Scamperdale, and his disgruntled sidekick and almost-twin, Jack Spraggon.

'Love me, love my dog,' being a favourite saying of his lordship's, he fed himself, his friends, and his hounds, on the same meal. Jack and he were busy with two great basins full of porridge, which his lordship diluted with milk, while Jack stirred his up with hot dripping... His lordship did not eat his porridge with his usual appetite, for he had had a disturbed night, Sponge having appeared to him in his dreams in all sorts of forms and predicaments; now jumping a-top of him -— now upsetting Jack —- now riding over Frostyface -— now crashing among his hounds; and he awoke, fully determined to get rid of him by fair means or foul.

Chapter 25: Jack Spraggon's Embassy to Jawleyford Court
Chapter 25 continued
Chapter 26: Mr and Mrs Springwheat
Chapter 27: The Most Famous Run That Ever Was Seen
1 hr 50 min

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Saturday, December 10, 2005

#62: "Our Christmas Tree" and "The Prisoner of War" by Fitz-James O'Brien

"Our Christmas Tree" is a poor but proud man's comparison of his Christmas tree to a millionaire's.

"The Prisoner of War", which O'Brien wrote in December 1861, is about a Union soldier whose best friend is imprisoned down South.

"Our Christmas Tree"
2 min.

"The Prisoner of War"
4 min.

#61: The Imitation of Christ, Book 3, Part 1, by Thomas a Kempis

The medieval devotional classic continues with a dialogue between Christ and someone trying to be his disciple.

I went and saw Narnia this weekend, so this quote seems appropriate: "It is God’s prerogative to give grace and to console when He wishes, as much as He wishes, and whom He wishes, as it shall please Him and no more." (After all, He isn't a tame lion.)

Here's a link so you can read along with Book Three.

Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
34 min.

Friday, December 09, 2005

#60: Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour, Part 4, by R.S. Surtees

The English comedy classic continues. Miss Jawleyford begins to show interest in Mr. Sponge, and the local master of hounds shows an interest in taking him down a peg. By any means necessary.

Chapter 19: A Wet Day
Chapter 20: The F.H.H.
Chapter 21: A Country Dinner Party
Chapter 22: The F.H.H. Again
Chapter 23: The Long Run
Chapter 24: Lord Scamperdale at Home
2 hrs. 22 min.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

#59: "The Archduke's Tea", Part 1, by H.C. Bailey

This short story is from the early career of Dr. Fortune, a famous series detective from England in the Twenties and Thirties.

"The Archduke's Tea", Part 1
26 min.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

#58: "Sermon 12: On the Fasting in the Tenth Month" by St. Leo the Great (Pope)

Here's an Advent sermon on gratitude to God, giving alms, and fasting, from the guy who faced off with Attila the Hun. (December is the tenth month referred to.)

This is pretty interesting stuff to me, since it doesn't just deal with the Advent message of preparation. It also talks about the very old custom of fasting and prayer on the three "Ember Days" four times a year. I didn't realize this was inspired by Jewish practice, as is pointed out in the homily. (Zacharias 8:19: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and great solemnities.") You'll also notice a repeat of the idea found in The Shepherd of Hermas, that all the money you're not spending on food during a fast is supposed to be given to the poor.

We don't officially have Ember Days anymore, but of course it's still a pious practice. (If you can remember what days they are.) They're the first Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the First Sunday of Lent, Pentecost, the Feast of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14), and the Feast of St. Lucy (Dec. 13). So this year's December Ember Days would fall on Dec. 14, 16, and 17.

"Sermon 12: On the Fast of the Tenth Month"
10 min.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I Didn't Mean to Be a Woman of Mystery....

It's becoming apparent to me that I'm not putting enough information about this blog, or indeed my own website, on my archive.org recordings. Witness this nice lady's puzzlement. Fortunately, we shared an acquaintance who still remembered me from the Continuing Time list.

(What relationship did the Morans have with the People of Peace back in the Old Country, one wonders? And can one count genetically and neurologically altered people as Fair Folk, like us but not really human, and capricious to humans because they don't share our concerns and point of view? But at least the Fair Folk didn't tell you that you really had to get with the program and send them your children to be turned into changelings, and live forever in a land that wasn't real, built on silicon instead of cold iron.)

But all parenthetical speculations aside, I've really got to do something about this. The problem is that I've got sixty directories up already, and to make any changes in the notes, I'll have to re-upload all my files. Which will be a right pain in the left buttock. Sigh.

I actually thought of emailing the lady back at the time, since it was her Tam Lin site that put me in mind of doing a big version of the song, but we all know what happens to email when I'm even vaguely busy. Also, that wasn't long before I started getting sick, IIRC. Also, I didn't realize she knew Batya, too, and had some of her art on the Tam Lin website.

So I'm interested to see the transcript, but I'm also a bit concerned about my diction on the song. Obviously my enunciation failed in a few places, or my microphone technique, anyway. Must practice more! But at least the song is available to folks in some form, and that's the general idea for all the audiobooks on this blog. Or podcast. Or whatever it is.

#57: "Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift" by Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift describes how he'll be mourned and remembered (or not) after his death. Funny stuff.

You can also read the poem at U of Toronto, though the scanning on this one leaves something to be desired. But the endnotes are good.

Why do we grieve that friends should die?
No loss more easy to supply.
One year is past; a different scene!
No further mention of the Dean;
Who now, alas! no more is miss'd,
Than if he never did exist.

"Verses on the Death of Swift"
22 min.

Monday, December 05, 2005

#56: "The Wondersmith" by Fitz-James O'Brien, Part 2

The creepy Christmas story becomes a creepy New Year's Eve, as the Wondersmith's evil plans move into their final phase. Beware the Wondersmith!

Btw, I knew I'd heard that phrase before. I have a fairy tale book about the Gobhan Saor called The Wonder Smith and His Son. (It came out in 1927.) Wayland, Mimir and Regin are also called "wonder smith", so the term may come from Norse kennings. Wherever it comes from, it's a good title, ne?

Section 4: "The Manikin and the Minos"
Section 5: "Tied Up"
Section 6: "The Poisoning of the Swords"
Section 7: "Let Loose"
46 min.

#55: The Imitation of Christ, Book 2, by Thomas a Kempis

In this part, Thomas a Kempis tells us a few things about the Interior Life with a little wisdom, a little love, and a little poke in the ribs. The chapter on "Ourselves" is particularly cogent.

I forgot to post the last couple of chapters of this section of The Imitation of Christ, so I will be uploading that part to archive.org as soon as possible. This post will be updated when the matter is corrected.

Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
53 min.

#54: "To the Immortal Memory of the Halibut on Which I Dined This Day" by William Cowper

It's just a little late, but here's my Fishy Friday offering. The title seems self-explanatory. It's short, so download it!

"To the Immortal Memory of the Halibut on Which I Dined This Day"
1 min. 45 sec.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Blog Announcement

Blogging will be increasingly irregular during the Advent season. It's not that I don't love you guys, but rather that I've got a ton of things to do. Singing carols at nursing homes two nights a week definitely takes away recording time. I'll be taking some days off, but those will be devoted to Christmas shopping and preparation, or to spending time with my family. Heck, I haven't even seen Goblet of Fire yet!

Also, I'm afraid that archive.org is getting really crazy on Thursday nights, what with all the folks uploading stuff for Friday morning. So, though I'm going to try to load Friday stuff early, it may slip between the cracks.

I really will continue with Mr. Sponge. I swear. Ditto The Compleat Angler. Especially ditto The Imitation of Christ. But honestly, I am going nuts here. If I'd known things would be this bad, I would have put up the whole month early.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

#53: "In a Cellar" by Harriet Prescott Spofford, Part 2

Here's the dramatic denouement to this story of diplomats, diamonds, and damsels decidedly reluctant to admit they're in distress. Intrigue in Paris salons, back streets, and cellars! (Not to mention a pretty darned unique ending....)

First part of the story here.

Part 3
Part 4