Friday, December 06, 2002

Significant Posts
I've started to give links to some of my more important posts. I'm going to try to get more listed there soon... most importantly, the posts on St. Philip and on the Pittsburgh Oratory....
Thanks, Father !
Fr. James Tucker was kind enough to mention, and post a link to, my blog. He mentions the Oratorian aspect of the blog, and the rat aspect. He seems to have missed the Tolkien part, unless he's including that with the Oratorian aspect because of the Professor's Oratorian connections.
As for the rat links and such, that's just me. While I am currently ratless, I have great affection for the little furballs and intend to get more when circumstances allow. Actually, a love of animals is a very Philippian trait.
"He was very tender towards brute animals. Seeing someone put his foot on a lizard, he cried out, "Cruel fellow! what has that poor animal done to you?"
Seeing a butcher wound a dog with one of his knives, he could not contain himself, and had great difficulty in keeping himself cool.
He could not bear the slightest cruelty to be shown to brute animals under any pretext whatever. If a bird came into the room, he would have the window opened that it might not be caught."- Novena of St. Philip- Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

Vespers for Friday
Translated by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.
Hominis superne Conditor.

WHOM all obey,—
Maker of man! who from Thy height
Badest the dull earth bring to light
All creeping things, and the fierce might
Of beasts of prey;—

And the huge make
Of wild or gentler animal,
Springing from nothing at Thy call,
To serve in their due time, and all
For sinners' sake;

Shield us from ill!
Come it by passion's sudden stress,
Lurk in our mind's habitual dress,
Or through our actions seek to press
Upon our will.

Vouchsafe the prize
Of sacred joy's perpetual mood,
And service-seeking gratitude,
And love to quell each strife or feud,
If it arise.

Grant it, O Lord!
To whom, the Father, Only Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One,
In heaven and earth all praise be done,
With one accord.
'Tis the season
for Tolkien articles... at least this year, and next year. This one at isn't bad. However, exactly where does he get the idea of Fr. Morgan as a 'severe priest' ? True, he was rather hard on Tolkien's adolescent romance with Edith, but, considering both the times and the circumstances, this is somewhat understandable. A quote from the website of Fr. Morgan's community gives a more accurate picture of the man the dying Mabel Tolkien chose to be the guardian of her two sons: " In the Anglo-Spanish/Welsh Francis Morgan, Mabel found a priest with no intellectual finesse but ebullience, pastoral solicitude, and deep generosity."
Also, see my post from December 3.

St. Nicholas of Myra
It's his feast day, so here's a link to information on the real deal who has been slowly distorted into Santa Claus. (In the homily today, Fr. Drew noted that it's a bit ironic that, given the current image of Santa with his bag of toys, our Gospel today for the feast of St. Nicholas included the verse, "Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way." )
I'm excited about this...
I got my ticket for the midnight showing of The Two Towers on the 18th. Yes, I know that means I won't get home until about 4 a.m. I'm still psyched...12 more days !
Sorry for the lack of posts yesterday
I was kept from getting out of the house by snow. Since I'm dependent on library computers, this meant no blogging.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Christmas Music
Advent is here, which means our choir is going to start rehearsing Christmas music soon. One of the choir pieces we almost always sing at Christmas, but which nobody with any ear at all could possible tire of, is O Magnum Mysterium by Vittoria. There's a link here, as well as the same link on the left under "Sound files".
However, one of my favorites is this hymn, which for some reason doesn't seem to be as popular in most parishes, but which we sing every year.

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bore the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

Sickening !
I know. Compared with the horrific death toll of unborn children every day, this is relatively unimportant. But it's still repulsive. Of course, as someone who has owned several rats, who has played with them, cuddled with them, enjoyed their antics, wept over their deaths, and even watched a litter of them grow up, I can hardly be objective. (I'm sitting here trying to keep myself from crying.) I doubt it's going to get much in the way of publicity, though. (Now if it were, say, puppies, all sorts of folks would be up in arms.) Mr. Lams posted the link.

A bit of rearranging
I changed the list on the left hand side of the page. Now the links are somewhat in order: blogs first, then Oratorian-related, then Tolkienean, then generally Catholic, and finally a rat site.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Since it's his name day..
I'd like to mention the late Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory . (There's no direct link, so to find the article on Fr. Morgan and his ward, J.R.R. Tolkien, click on "Community", then on "Deceased Members", and then on Fr. Morgan's name.) I don't entirely agree with the article's points ( e.g "Rivendell=Rednal", IMHO, is a stretch), and I became a Tolkien fan long before I met any Oratorians. However, the connection between the Professor and our community is just too cool not to note.
Here's two quotes from a letter written late in the Professor's life.
"And again, I remember after the death of Fr. Francis my 'second father' (at 77, in 1935), saying to C.S. Lewis, ' I feel like a lost survivor in a new alien world after the real world has passed away.' "
"In 1904 we (Hilary (ed. Tolkien's brother) & I) had the sudden miraculous experience of Fr. Francis' love and care and humour..."

St. Francis Xavier, S.J.
It's his feast day today. There's information on him here . It's not absolutely verifiable, but he is quite probable that he knew St. Philip Neri. It is certain that St. Philip and St. Ignatius Loyola were friends. It is also true that all three of them,along with St. Teresa of Avila and St. Isidore the Farmer, were canonized at the same ceremony on March 22, 1622.

Dear Lord, if a tenth of the Catholics in the world could but have the zeal of that magnificent quintet, what could we not accomplish for the love of God and His Kingdom ?

Monday, December 02, 2002

In which the Venerable explains things a lot better than I do

St. Philip in his School - Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.
(A Song)

THIS is the Saint of gentleness and kindness,
Cheerful in penance, and in precept winning;
Patiently healing of their pride and blindness,
Souls that are sinning.

This is the Saint, who, when the world allures us,
Cries her false wares, and opes her magic coffers,
Points to a better city, and secures us
With richer offers.

Love is his bond, he knows no other fetter,
Asks not our all, but takes whate'er we spare him,
Willing to draw us on from good to better,
As we can bear him.

When he comes near to teach us and to bless us,
Prayer is so sweet, that hours are but a minute;
Mirth is so pure, though freely it possess us,
Sin is not in it.

Thus he conducts by holy paths and pleasant,
Innocent souls, and sinful souls forgiven,
Towards the bright palace where our God is present,
Throned in high heaven
Some Oratorian information (with emphasis on official stuff)
In The Catechism of the Catholic Church, there is a mention of the category of religious community which includes Congregations of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri.
930. "Alongside the different forms of consecrated life are societies of apostolic life whose members without religious vows pursue the particular apostolic purpose of their society, and lead a life as brothers or sisters in common according to a particular manner of life, strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions. Among these there are societies in which the members embrace the evangelical counsels' according to their constitutions.[Cf. CIC, can. 731 ## 1 and 2.]" ( Catechism of the Catholic Church )

The Congregations of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri fit into this category. Each Oratory is a community of priests, and in some cases brothers, who live in community but do not take vows. The ones who are priests make promises of celibacy and obedience as diocesan priests do. However, the obedience is promised not to the local bishop, but to the Oratorian's "ordinary", which is the Provost of the community. ( I know. I've been to several ordinations of Oratorian priests. The Bishop asks "Do you promise respect and obedience to your Ordinary ?" )

There are somewhere between 600 and 700 Oratorians proper in the world, in 75 Congregations present in Europe, Latin America, North America, and Africa. The representation is somewhat lopsided in that 51 of the 75 are in Europe, with 17 of those in Italy. There are currently seven Congregations in the United States. Though there is a Confederation, each Congregation is self-governing under the General Constitutions, and each house tends to develop its own customs to a certain extent.

When a man joins an Oratory, it is, if all goes well, for life. There are usually no transfers between Congregations. One could say that men do not have vocations to belong to "the Oratorians", but that men have vocations to belong to the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Pittsburgh, or the Congregation in Rome, or Birmingham, England, or Pharr, Texas, or any of the others. (I remember one lady, unfamiliar with the community, asking one of our priests how long he would be assigned here, and she was startled to get the answer "God willing, until I die." )

The Secular Oratorians, of which I am a member, are laity who are, to the best of our abilities, living the charism of the founder outside of the community life of the Oratorians proper. However, like the Oratorians proper, we are also associated with a particular Congregation... the one in Pittsburgh, in my case. One of their priests is our 'Father Prefect' who leads us in prayer at our bi-weekly meetings, and we assist in their apostolates as we can. We are also known as "the Little Oratory", and this is the name we actually use most ourselves, but I tend to use the term 'Secular Oratory' with those unacquainted with us, since people are often familiar with Secular Franciscans and such, and it's sort of similar. (We're not a 'third order', since Oratorians are not 'order' priests or brothers.)

O.K., that's my blog on the official stuff. I've already blogged on the founder's life and the history of the Pittsburgh Congregation. I'll try to blog more on our spirituality and apostolate later.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Hymn for Advent Vespers
Translated by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.
Creator alme siderum

Creator of the starry pole,
Saviour of all who live,
And light of every faithful soul,
Jesu, these prayers receive.

Who sooner than our foe malign
Should triumph, from above
Didst come, to be the medicine
Of a sick world, in love;

And the deep wounds to cleanse and cure
Of a whole race, didst go,
Pure Victim, from a Virgin pure,
The bitter Cross unto.

Who hast a Name, and hast a Power,
The height and depth to sway,
And Angels bow, and devils cower,
In transport or dismay;

Thou too shalt be our Judge at length;
Lord, in Thy grace bestow
Thy weapons of celestial strength,
And snatch us from the foe.

Honour and glory, power and praise,
To Father, and to Son,
And Holy Ghost, be paid always,
The Eternal Three in One.
Adding a blog
I'm going to add a link to And Then ? . Not only is the title a quote from St. Philip Neri, but the sitemaster also likes Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH . (When circumstances change and I can have rats again, I'm thinking of getting two boys, so that I can name them Nicodemus and Justin. )

If it weren't the first Sunday of Advent
and if the US calendar observed the feasts of these wonderful martyrs, today would be the feast of St. Edmund Campion , St. Alexander Briant , St. Nicholas Owen , St. Thomas Garnet , Blessed John Beche, Blessed Ralph Ashley, and Blessed Richard Langley. All of these have today as their feast, though the canonized ones are included in the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales are honored with that group on October 25.
In honor of this almost-feast day, here is an excerpt from the magnificent biography Edmund Campion, by Evelyn Waugh. This is the statement of St. Edmund Campion, upon being declared guilty of the 'treason' of being a Catholic priest.


" 'It was not our death that ever we feared. But we knew that we were not lords of our own lives, and therefore for want of answer would not be guilty of our deaths. The only thing that we have now to say is, that if our religion do make us traitors, we are worthy to be condemned; but otherwise we are, and have been, as good subjects as ever the Queen had.

In condemning us you condemn all your own ancestors-all the ancient priests, bishops and kings-all that once was the glory of England, the island of saints and the most devoted child of the See of Peter. For what have we taught, however you may qualify it with the odious name of treason, that they did not uniformly teach ? To be condemned with these lights-not of England only, but of the world-by their degenerate descendants, is both gladness and glory to us.

God lives; posterity will live; their judgement is not so liable to corruption as that of those who are now going to sentence us to death.'

The Lord Chief Justice answered: ' You must go to the place from whence you came, there to remain until ye shall be drawn upon hurdles to the place of execution, and there be hanged and let down alive, and your privy parts cut off, and your entrails taken out and burnt in your sight; then your heads to be cut off and your bodies divided into four parts, to be disposed of at her Majesty's pleasure. And may God have mercy on your souls.'

As the Lord Chief Justice's final commendation sounded, with peculiar irony, throughout Westminster Hall, the condemned men broke into the words of the Te Deum , and were led back in triumph to their several prisons."

From the homily
Fr. Bryan celebrated the noon Mass today. Among the remarks in the homily was this one. "The vestments for Advent are purple. When you go to your home parishes, you may see blue ones. This is not correct. Blue is not a liturgical color. Some liturgists have said that blue should be used 'because Advent, unlike Lent, is not a season of penance.' However, if you read the prayers for Advent properly, they show that it is a season of penance, of preparation for the coming of the Lord, both at the end of time and at Christmas. Penance is a part of keeping watch until He comes. "
Music at noon Mass
Processional Hymn: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"
Offertory: "Ad Te Levavi"- Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901)
Communion: "Alma Redemptoris Mater" - Giovanni Pierlugi da Palestrina (c.1525 - 1594)
Recessional : "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence"

It is always especially nice when we sing a Palestrina piece. Not only did the man write amazing music, but he was also a friend (and penitent) of St. Philip Neri, and wrote some music especially for the original Oratorians.