Saturday, January 18, 2003

Jeff Miller is brilliant...
Click here to see a little sample of why I think this.

For anyone who either lives in the Pittsburgh area, or will be visiting here
The Fathers of the Pittsburgh Oratory are now celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the intention of the canonization of Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., at 10 am each Saturday. The first of these Masses was today. If directions are needed, feel free to e-mail me, and I will get them to you.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Lane Core
reminds everyone that the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity begins tommorow. In addition to the resources at the link, I offer the following prayer composed by the Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

Jesus the Only Begotten Son

Jesus is the only Son of the only Father—as it is said in the Creed, "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty," and then "and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord." And so He Himself says in the Gospel, "As the Father hath life in Himself, so He hath given to the Son also to have life in Himself" (John v. 26). And He said to the man whom He cured of blindness, "Dost thou believe in the Son of God? It is He that talketh with thee" (John ix. 35-37). And St. John the Evangelist says, "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father" (John i. 14). And St. John Baptist says, "The Father loveth the Son and He hath given all things into His hand. He that believeth in the Son, hath life everlasting" (John iii. 35, 36). And St. Paul says, "There is one body and one Spirit—as ye are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all" (Eph. iv. 4-6).

Thus Almighty God has set up all things in unity—and therefore His Holy Church in a special way, as the Creed again says, "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." It is His wise and gracious will that His followers should not follow their own way, and form many bodies, but one. This was the meaning of the mystery of His garment at the time of His crucifixion, which "was without seam, woven from the top throughout" (John xix. 23). And therefore was it that the soldiers were not allowed to break His sacred limbs, for like the Jewish Easter Lamb not a bone of Him was to be broken.

Let us pray for the unity of the Church and the reconciliation and peace of all Christians.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who, when Thou wast about to suffer, didst pray for Thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as Thou art in the Father, and the Father in Thee, look down in pity on the manifold divisions among those who profess Thy faith, and heal the many wounds which the pride of man and the craft of Satan have inflicted upon Thy people. Break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another. Look with compassion on the souls who have been born in one or other of these various communions which not Thou, but man hath made. Set free the prisoners from these unauthorised forms of worship, and bring them all into that one communion which thou didst set up in the beginning, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Teach all men that the see of St. Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre, and instrument of unity. Open their hearts to the long-forgotten truth that our Holy Father, the Pope, is thy Vicar and Representative; and that in obeying Him in matters of religion, they are obeying Thee, so that as there is but one holy company in heaven above, so likewise there may be but one communion, confessing and glorifying Thy holy Name here below.

I'm not quite sure what to do with this article by Mr. Cork. This paragraph in particular threw me for a bit of a loop.
"Campus ministry is ministry to a unique and distinct culture. It is ministry to a culture that above all prizes the quest for truth, goodness and beauty; a culture that transmits the wisdom from the past, but is never satisfied with it; a culture that draws strength from and which feeds all disciplines, all ethnic groups, all nations, all creeds. It is a culture that seeks to form the entire person, so that that person can be an agent of change in a rapidly changing global society. "
I'm afraid I'm a lot less sanguine about the university community. A lot of the folks who are in charge at the modern secular university would deny that truth, goodness and beauty exist as objective facts, let alone that they prize them. And drawing strength from all creeds ? Try to draw on the moral teachings of traditional Judaism and Christianity on the sanctity of unborn human life and see how far you get.
On the other hand there are some excellent insights as well, my favorite being his comment that campus ministry demands "a great ability to balance, infinite patience, and a sense of humor. " Also, the accompanying picture of the Venerable biases me in its favor, as it illustrates something I am hoping for and pray for every day. (See Item 10.) So I'm both appreciative and a bit perturbed by the piece. And why, why does it have to refer to the late Fr. de Chardin ?

The Feast of St. Anthony of Egypt
is today. There is information on him here.
Both St. Philip and the Venerable Newman had a great love for the Church of the early centuries. In the latter's Historical Sketches, Volume 2 , there are two chapters focused on St. Anthony of Egypt.
Anthony in Conflict
Anthony in Calm

Thursday, January 16, 2003

From Loss and Gain, by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.
In which Willis, recently received into the Church, comments upon the Mass....
"To me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Masses for ever and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words, —it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but, if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. He becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble. This is that awful event which is the scope, and is the interpretation, of every part of the solemnity. Words are necessary, but as means, not as ends; they are not mere addresses to the throne of grace, they are instruments of what is far higher, of consecration, of sacrifice."
I think I've been pegged....
Rosa Mystica and the Lively Writer have posts on the topic "You Know You're a Catholic Nerd When...."
Here's a few more:
-You keep a stack of ordination anniversary cards and name day cards on hand
-You not only have a holy water font at the door, but it has a mix of water from two different shrines
-Your mother has told you not to get her any more statues/pictures/icons as Christmas, birthday, or Mother's Day gifts
-You carry a picture of your patron saint in your wallet
(BTW, guilty as charged on all of these !)

The Feast of Blessed Joseph Vaz, C.O.
is today. There is information on him here . Many thanks to the Oxford Oratory for the article.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Hymn for Vespers- Wednesday
Translated by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.
Cœli Deus sanctissime.

O LORD, who, thron'd in the holy height,
Through plains of ether didst diffuse
The dazzling beams of light,
In soft transparent hues;

Who didst, on the fourth day, in heaven
Light the fierce cresset of the sun,
And the meek moon at even,
And stars that wildly run;

That they might mark and arbitrate
'Twixt alternating night and day,
And tend the train sedate
Of months upon their way;

Clear, Lord, the brooding night within,
And clean these hearts for Thy abode,
Unlock the spell of sin,
Crumble its giant load.

Grant it, O Father, Only Son,
And Holy Spirit, God of grace,
To whom all praise be done
In every time and place.
I was going through my files...
my actual, 'hard copy' files of old newspaper articles, and came across this interesting piece by Fr. Mark Gruber, O.S.B., whom I have met and have heard lecture. It was published in Our Sunday Visitor August 11, 1996. After several searches, I did not find it anywhere online, so I am posting it here.
Facing up to a schism
If any serious watchers of Catholicism doubt that the Church is profoundly fragmented and morally obliged to provide canonical recognition of the fact, they are either ostrich-like and cannot bear the pain of acknowledgement, or they have an agenda to obscure the breach so that they can better conduct their divisive behavior, or they hope that the surpression of institutional awareness and response will permit time to bury the problem.
But the time has come to canonically face the moral fact of schism.
To those who feel that it is just too painful to acknowledge the matter, let them be reminded that preferring ignorance to sober truth is the saddest human condition of all.
To those who prefer denial in order to make further inroads into the faithful, let them be reminded that the moral high ground goes to the side that sacrifices strategy for integrity.
To those who wish to indefinitely postpone the split in order to give dissidents time to retire or reconcile, let them be reminded that this tactic has reached the point of diminishing returns.
The hesitation to name the schism has only served to leave the majority of the faithful flock vunerable to canonically clothed wolves. Strip the predators of their juridical link to the Church, which they have already spiritually repudiated, and the faithful can better discern the mind of Christ.
In fact, a strategic reason exists to act expeditiously to make explicit the Church's true condition. The generation still endures that remember the beauty of a Catholicism that was Roman. So long as that generation holds the balance of ecclesiastical influence, any fundamental division of the Church will create a domino effect, whereby undecided speculators, hesitant dissidents, moderate critics and vast portions of the as-of-yet unpolarized lay people will ultimately find their way home to Rome.
The ordinary gravity of inter-generational dialogue will pull the next generation (who otherwise has no great homing instinct for orthodoxy) into the clarity of spiritual decision. And the work of the Holy Spirit succeeds best in such moments of conscientious choice.
The great majority of the faithful, while confused and often misled, is still on the fence of discerning their conviction of Church. By acting now to declare the reality of separation, most of them will still jump off the fence in the direction of the ancient faith.
If the Church fails to make manifest the reality of schism now,it will still occur-as well it must, given the profound nature of the divisive attitudes, beliefs and actions in institutionally entrenched groups.
But when it does occur, the generation that can best orient the faithful will be diminished sufficently to leave the majority of the would-be faithful adrift.
Instead of a schism in which the Church recovers her direction and moves ahead with renewed vigor, with most of her institutions intact and primed for new growth, she will be incomparably smaller, much the size and cast of a biblical remnant.
Those who depart the ranks of the Church in either case have an even more bleak prognosis. Essentially being indistinguishable from liberal moribund Protestantism on issues ranging from biblical authority, sexuality, the sanctity of life and even the nature of God Himself, they will have no reason for an independent ecclesiastical existence.
Most will be absorbed into some Anglican amalgam, and the few who attempt to hold out as a sect will discover that they have such a habit of rebellion to authority that their 'new church' will simply splinter into oblivion.
No wonder they prefer to linger in the present moment of ecclesiastical denial. So long as they stay within the canonical boundaries of the institution, they're somebodies. They matter.
But once they are recognized as no longer being among us, they will be out in the dust of Gnosticism and a hundred other old fossils of Church history.
A telling lesson of history was the salvaging of the U.S. banks after the onset of the Great Depression. After so many banks defaulted, people began to withdraw their savings in fear of total collapse.
Acting wisely, the president established a commission to investigate the practices and policies of all banks, accrediting the great majority of them, and backing them with government guarantees. On a ccount of the few that were not accredited, confidence-and cash-flowed back to the many that were.
The parallels to the Church are obvious: the confidence of the majority is shaken, and their moral investment in the Church is diminishing. Greater clarity about the worst abuses, and separating them from the Church's ordinary life, will restore confidence and trust.
Can we afford not to be so decisive in this crucial hour ?
I've never been much of a fan of Mark Twain....
and this doesn't help. Politics aside, (I'm rather ambivalent on the Iraq situation) the man has a singularly inapt quote. As the invocation, he has:
"God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest!
Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword! "
I happen to be familiar with those lines. They are a slight misquote of the beginning of a hymn which we sing here on a regular basis:
"God the Omnipotent ! King Who ordainest/
Thunder Thy clarion, the lightning Thy sword/
Show forth Thy pity on high where Thou reignest/
Give to us peace in our time, O Lord. "

Hardly lines from a sabre-rattler, don't you think ?

Today, January 15th...
is the feast of St. Macarius of Egypt.
Also, on this date back in 1994, Fr. David Abernethy of the Pittsburgh Oratory was ordained to the priesthood. Ad multos annos, Fr. David !
Fr. David's ordination day was especially memorable because it was probably the coldest day I've ever experienced in my life. The Cathedral's heating isn't great at the best of times, and when it's 14 below zero outside (real temperature, not 'wind chill' )... well, let's just say that everybody who could kept on their coats and their boots ! And that marble floor must have been freezing.....
Prayers for Fr. David would be appreciated, and also prayers for Fr. Bryan, whose father is in the hospital with a serious illness.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

The Venerable Newman, on St. Philip and Purity
Philip's Purity
Philip, well knowing the pleasure which God takes in cleanness of heart, had no sooner come to years of discretion, and to the power of distinguishing between good and evil, than he set himself to wage war against the evils and suggestions of his enemy, and never rested till he had gained the victory. Thus, notwithstanding he lived in the world when young, and met with all kinds of persons, he preserved his virginity spotless in those dangerous years of his life.

No word was ever heard from his lips which would offend the most severe modesty, and in his dress, his carriage, and countenance, he manifested the same beautiful virtue.

One day, while he was yet a layman, some profligate persons impudently tempted him to commit sin. When he saw that flight was impossible, he began to speak to them of the hideousness of sin and the awful presence of God. This he did with such manifest distress, such earnestness, and such fervour, that his words pierced their abandoned hearts as a sword, and not only persuaded them to give up their horrible thought, but even reclaimed them from their evil ways.

At another time some bad men, who are accustomed to think no one better than themselves, invited him on some pretext into their house, under the belief that he was not what the world took him to be; and then, having got possession of him, thrust him into a great temptation. Philip, in this strait, finding the doors locked, knelt down and began to pray to God with such astonishing fervour and heartfelt heavenly eloquence, that the two poor wretches who were in the room did not dare to speak to him, and at last themselves left him and gave him a way to escape.

His virginal purity shone out of his countenance. His eyes were so clear and bright, even to the last years of his life, that no painter ever succeeded in giving the expression of them, and it was not easy for anyone to keep looking on him for any length of time, for he dazzled them like an Angel of Paradise.

Moreover, his body, even in his old age, emitted a fragrance which, even in his decrepit old age, refreshed those who came near him; and many said that they felt devotion infused into them by the mere smell of his hands.

As to the opposite vice. The ill odour of it was not to the Saint a mere figure of speech, but a reality, so that he could detect those whose souls were blackened by it; and he used to say that it was so horrible that nothing in the world could equal it, nothing, in short, but the Evil Spirit himself. Before his penitents began their confession he sometimes said, "O my son, I know your sins already."

Many confessed that they were at once delivered from temptations by his merely laying his hands on their heads. The very mention of his name had a power of shielding from Satan those who were assailed by his fiery darts.

He exhorted men never to trust themselves, whatever experience they might have of themselves, or however long their habits of virtue.

He used to say that humility was the true guard of chastity; and that not to have pity for another in such cases was a forerunner of a speedy fall in ourselves; and that when he found a man censorious, and secure of himself, and without fear, he gave him up for lost.

Philip, my glorious Patron, who didst ever keep unsullied the white lily of thy purity, with such jealous care that the majesty of this fair virtue beamed from thine eyes, shone in thy hands, and was fragrant in thy breath, obtain for me that gift from the Holy Ghost, that neither the words nor the example of sinners may ever make any impression on my soul. And, since it is by avoiding occasions of sin, by prayer, by keeping myself employed, and by the frequent use of the Sacraments that my dread enemy must be subdued, gain for me the grace to persevere in these necessary observances.
- From "Novena of St. Philip", in Meditations and Devotions

Excellent post
by Mr. O' Rama in response to another blogger saying that closed Communion is uncharitable.
Oh, no, here we go again....
The promoters of sexual perversion are trying to co-opt Tolkien. Mr. Shea and Mr. Lams have good comments to make on this. I was disappointed, but not surprised, that the actors 'played along'. Par for the course in today's Hollywood.
It's from a secular perspective, but the classic article on the topic is And in the Closet Bind Them by Quickbeam over at TheOneRing.Net.
Sad though it is that people have this bizarre need to give fictional characters sexual twistedness, it's only to be expected. After all, the same types do this with historical people who are safely dead and unable to defend themselves. ( I once thumbed though a library book in which the clueless author speculated that St. Philip Neri was 'gay'. After all, he had a lot of young, male followers. They couldn't really have been drawn to his holiness- it must have been a secret homosexual clique.I've never defaced a library book, but in this case I was severely tempted ! )
I do have great respect for those who deal with having those particular temptations and overcome them by the grace of God. It must be a terrible cross to bear, particularly in this insane society, and particularly now that there are even those who claim to represent the Church who urge those so tempted to give in. But I'm afraid it's difficult to have much respect for those who drag reputations into the mud without a shred of solid evidence.

Monday, January 13, 2003

From the site of the Toronto Oratory...
A article on St. Philip and the Venerable . (PDF file).
Updated the links again...
In the Catholic section, I added links to The Catechism of the Catholic Church , St. Emma Monastery, where my friend Angela is a postulant and is soon to become a novice, and Tyburn Convent, which has information on some of the wonderful English martyrs . In the Tolkien section, I added Miss Cam's (Ever-Growing) List O' Mini-Balrogs, because... well, you've got to see it to believe it ! ("Treebread" ? "Drawfs"? "Mrikwood"? )

I love this post...
by the Old Oligarch. The pictures are cool, and the rat links are wonderful.
The Feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers
known as "the Athanasius of the West" is today. Information on him can be found here.
"Catholic theologians met this difficulty, both before and after the Nicene Council, by insisting on the unity of origin, which they taught as existing in the Divine Triad, the Son and Spirit having a communicated divinity from the Father, and a personal unity with Him; the Three Persons being internal to the Divine Essence, unlike the polytheism of the Greeks and Romans, the tritheism of Marcion and the Manichees, and the Archical Hypostases of Plotinus. Thus Hippolytus says: "I say, 'Another,' not two Gods, but as light from light, as water from a spring, or a ray from the sun." And Hilary, in the fourth century, confirms him, saying, "The Father does not lose His attribute of being the One God, because the Son also is God, for the Son is God from God, One from One, therefore One God, because God from Himself." De Trin. iv. 15. "- Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., Tracts Theological and Ecclesiastical

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Finally getting around to this...
A few words on the Ordination reception and Fr. Michael's First Mass...
The reception was great, except for the fact that Fr. Drew was feeling poorly and while he was at the ordination itself, he wasn't up to attending the reception. There were lots of interesting people there, including some I hadn't seen in several years, and some I had never met before. I spoke with Fr. Daniels, the Provost of the Pharr Oratory down in Texas, and I mentioned a comment made by the brilliant Msgr. Ronald Knox, that though he had met many Oratorians in his life, he couldn't name any one as being 'typical'.
"Of course." Fr. Daniels replied with a laugh."That's because we're all a little crazy !"
Well, who am I to argue with a Provost ?

The First Mass was very moving. It was the Feast of the Holy Family, and the point I remember best from the homily was that while God blessed family life with fruitfulness from the very beginning, in the Holy Family it is seen that now virginity and chastity are fruitful as well. "In Our Lady's complete surrender of herself to God, she became the mother of Christ, and, though Him, the mother of the Church, and of all Christians. "

My friend Angela, who couldn't come to the ordination, did make it to the First Mass. I hadn't seen much of her lately, as she is a postulant here. She is scheduled to be clothed as a novice this month. Prayers would be appreciated, of course.

In the diocesan newspaper here....
Last week, and this week, there was a two-part article on the book "The New Faithful", and information on some of the 'new faithful' in our diocese.
New faithful: Young embracing orthodox practices
New faithful: Young adults challenging secular values

Thanks to Lane Core for the link.

I was, of course, happy to see the Oratory mentioned in the second part of the article. I was also happy to see my friends Lisa and Randy Koslosky featured in both parts. I've known Lisa since we were both undergraduates, and she and her husband are both wonderful people. ( I was privileged to attend their wedding back in October of 2001. It was beautiful-and the reception was a blast !)
For those in the Pittsburgh area, the current issue of The Pittsburgh Catholic also has a picture of Fr. Michael being ordained. This is not on the website, so I cannot link to it.

Music at noon Mass
Processional Hymn: "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken"
Offertory: "Benedictus Qui Venit"- Gregorian Chant
Communion: "Omnes Qui in Christo"- Gregorian Chant
Recessional Hymn: "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise"
It was particularly interesting today, since the organ went on the fritz in the middle of the Processional Hymn, and the rest of the Mass was a cappella .....