Saturday, April 12, 2003

For Saturday
Mary is the "Turris Eburnea," the Ivory Tower
by Venerable John Henry Newman

"A tower is a fabric which rises higher and more conspicuous than other objects in its neighbourhood. Thus, when we say a man "towers" over his fellows, we mean to signify that they look small in comparison of him.

This quality of greatness is instanced in the Blessed Virgin. Though she suffered more keen and intimate anguish at our Lord's Passion and Crucifixion than any of the Apostles by reason of her being His Mother, yet consider how much more noble she was amid her deep distress than they were. When our Lord underwent His agony, they slept for sorrow. They could not wrestle with their deep disappointment and despondency; they could not master it; it confused, numbed, and overcame their senses. And soon after, when St. Peter was asked by bystanders whether he was not one of our Lord's disciples, he denied it.

Nor was he alone in this cowardice. The Apostles, one and all, forsook our Lord and fled, though St. John returned. Nay, still further, they even lost faith in Him, and thought all the great expectations which He had raised in them had ended in a failure. How different this even from the brave conduct of St. Mary Magdalen! and still more from that of the Virgin Mother! It is expressly noted of her that she stood by the Cross. She did not grovel in the dust, but stood upright to receive the blows, the stabs, which the long Passion of her Son inflicted upon her every moment.

In this magnanimity and generosity in suffering she is, as compared with the Apostles, fitly imaged as a Tower. But towers, it may be said, are huge, rough, heavy, obtrusive, graceless structures, for the purposes of war, not of peace; with nothing of the beautifulness, refinement, and finish which are conspicuous in Mary. It is true: therefore she is called the Tower of Ivory, to suggest to us, by the brightness, purity, and exquisiteness of that material, how transcendent is the loveliness and the gentleness of the Mother of God."

April 12, 1822
was an important day in the life of the Venerable.
" 'I have this morning been elected Fellow of Oriel.' "

"Mr. Newman used also to relate the mode in which the announcement of his success was made to him. The Provost's butler—to whom it fell by usage to take the news to the fortunate candidate—made his way to Mr. Newman's lodgings in Broad Street, and found him playing the violin. This in itself disconcerted the messenger, who did not associate such an accomplishment with a candidateship for the Oriel Common-Room; but his perplexity was increased when, on his delivering what may be supposed to have been his usual form of speech on such occasions, that 'he had, he feared, disagreeable news to announce, viz. that Mr. Newman was elected Fellow of Oriel, and that his immediate presence was required there,' the person addressed, thinking that such language savoured of impertinent familiarity, merely answered, 'Very well,' and went on fiddling. This led the man to ask whether, perhaps, he had not mistaken the rooms and gone to the wrong person, to which Mr. Newman replied that it was all right. But, as may be imagined, no sooner had the man left, than he flung down his instrument, and dashed down stairs with all speed to Oriel College. And he recollected, after fifty years, the eloquent faces and eager bows of the tradesmen and others whom he met on his way, who had heard the news, and well understood why he was crossing from St. Mary's to the lane opposite at so extraordinary a pace."

" There remains a letter, from a school-fellow and University friend, which shows the popular estimate of an Oriel fellowship as well as the writer's sense of his friend's power:


April 12, 1822.
Behold you now a Fellow of Oriel, the great object of the ambition of half the Bachelors of Oxford. Behold you (to take a peep into futurity) in Holy Orders, taking pupils in college, and having a curacy within a short distance; then Public Tutor, Vicar of ——, Provost, Regius Professor of Divinity, Bishop of ——, Archbishop of Canterbury; or shall we say thus—Student-at-law, Barrister, Lord Chancellor, or at least Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench? Which of these ladders is it your intention to climb? You now have it in your power to decide."

"As to Mr. Newman, he ever felt this twelfth of April, 1822, to be the turning-point of his life, and of all days most memorable. It raised him from obscurity and need, to competency and reputation."

Autobiographical Memoir

This was especially remarkable in that, brilliant as the Venerable was, he was very much an underdog candidate, in that he was barely twenty-one and had been an undergraduate at Trinity College, which, at that time, had a rather poor academic reputation. In addition, he had not distinguished himself in his final examinations, earning, not the double First he had hoped for, but a Second and what would now be called a Third, but was then simply referred to as being 'under the line.' (The reason Newman had done so poorly was because before his finals, he completely swamped himself with work, studying nine to 16 hours a day. When the examination actually came, he was so exhausted he pretty much collapsed.)

His 'ladder' was, of course, to be neither one of the ones his friend Thresher mapped out...

Friday, April 11, 2003

From "The Infinitude of the Divine Attributes"
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

" Semetipsum exinanivit, 'He made Himself void or empty,' as the earth had been 'void and empty' at the beginning; He seemed to be unbinding and letting loose the assemblage of attributes which made Him God, and to be destroying the idea which He Himself had implanted in our minds. The God of miracles did the most awful of signs and wonders, by revoking and contradicting, as it were, all His perfections, though He remained the while one and the same. Omnipotence became an abject; the Life became a leper; the first and only Fair came down to us with an 'inglorious visage,' and an 'unsightly form,' bleeding and (I may say) ghastly, lifted up in nakedness and stretched out in dislocation before the eyes of sinners. Not content with this, He perpetuates the history of His humiliation; men of this world, when they fall into trouble, and then recover themselves, hide the memorials of it. They conceal their misfortunes in prospect, as long as they can; bear them perforce, when they fall into them; and, when they have overcome them, affect to make light of them. Kings of the earth, when they have rid themselves of their temporary conquerors, and are reinstated on their thrones, put all things back into their former state, and remove from their palaces, council-rooms, and cities, whether statue or picture or inscription or edict, all of which bear witness to the suspension of their power. Soldiers indeed boast of their scars, but it is because their foes were well-matched with them, and their conflicts were necessary, and the marks of what they have suffered is a proof of what they have done; but He, who oblatus est, quia voluit, who "was offered, for He willed it," who exposed Himself to the powers of evil, yet could have saved us without that exposure, who was neither weak in that He was overcome, nor strong in that He overcame, proclaims to the whole world what He has gone through, without the tyrant's shame, without the soldier's pride—He (wonderful it is) has raised up on high, He has planted over the earth, the memorial, that that Evil One whom He cast out of heaven in the beginning, has in the hour of darkness inflicted agony upon Him. For in truth, by consequence of the infinitude of His glory, He is more beautiful in His weakness than in His strength; His wounds shine like stars of light; His very Cross becomes an object of worship; the instruments of His passion, the nails and the thorny crown, are replete with miraculous power. And so He bids the commemoration of His Bloody Sacrifice to be made day by day all over the earth, and He Himself is there in Person to quicken and sanctify it; He rears His bitter but saving Cross in every Church and over every Altar; He shows Himself torn and bleeding upon the wood at the corners of each street and in every village market-place; He makes it the symbol of His religion; He seals our foreheads, our lips, and our breast with this triumphant sign; with it He begins and ends our days, and with it He consigns us to the tomb. And when He comes again, that Sign of the Son of Man will be seen in heaven; and when He takes His seat in judgment, the same glorious marks will be seen by all the world in His Hands, Feet, and Side, which were dug into them at the season of His degradation. Thus 'hath King Solomon made himself a litter of the wood of Libanus. The pillars thereof he made of silver, the seat of gold, the going up of purple; the midst he covered with charity for the daughters of Jerusalem. Go forth, ye daughters of Sion; and see King Solomon in the diadem, wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of his heart's joy.' "

Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 1849
This is touching...
I think so, anyway. I found this posted on HMS Blog by Mr. Gotcher.

A nice witness to the grace of God

This is great for somebody like me, a cradle Catholic with an addiction to conversion stories. I'll be asking Venerable Newman for his intercession for this man, since the Venerable certainly knew what having family members who are very unsympathetic to one's reception into the Church was like.

The Feast of St. Stanislaus of Cracow, Bishop and Martyr
is today. There is information on him here .

The way I figure it, the intercession of a bishop with backbone is precisely what is needed these days.

It is also the Feast of St. Gemma Galgani. There is information on her here . I knew a girl once who looked a lot like St. Gemma. She came as St. Gemma to an All Saints Day party, and everybody would look at the picture of the saint she had brought, look at her, and do a 'double take ' ! The resemblance was that remarkable.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

For Thursday
Choir rehearsal day in my little corner of the world....

Buried Treasure-Can the Church recover her musical heritage ?
by Susan Benofy

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

To become one flesh, but not one blog....
The bloggers Chris at Rosa Mystica and Jenny at The Catholic Nerd Blog are engaged. Thus they will be consolidating a lot of things, but apparently, not the two blogs.

has a great quote from the Venerable here .

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Now this is useful...
Have You Ever Wondered What the Letters After the Names of Religious Indicate?

If you've ever read a Catholic book or article and seen a string of letters after the author's name which were completely unfamiliar, this may help.

Oratorians are, technically, not 'religious', but I was glad to see "C.O." and "Cong. Orat." listed anyway.

In case anybody was wondering..
Part of why I chose to be the Ratmaiden is because the title "The Rat Lady" is already taken .

The final set of Italy pictures, a recap, and a tour...
These pictures, unlike the rest, have captions added by the ladies who posted them...
The Oratory in Rome
Fr. Michael, St. Philip, Fr. Joseph
Two students, and St. Philip
Group in Florence
Looking out from St. Peter's
Basilica of St. Francis
Basilica of St. Francis-different angle
St. Clare's, Assisi

The other pictures are to be found here , here, here , and here .

I have also found a tour of Santa Maria in Vallicella, better known as the "Chiesa Nuova", the Oratorian 'home church' , online. And, wonder of wonders, it's available in English.
Chiesa Nuova

Great article
on the Venerable and ecumenism here. Thanks to Shawn McElhinney for the link.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Too true...
"The world knows that Catholics have a high standard of purity. But the world is not going to be impressed unless it is assured that Catholics keep it. " - Monsignor Ronald Knox
Yet another set of Italy pictures
Again, these are large and scrolling may be necessary.

St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls


Plaque on a church

Raphael's famous painting about the Eucharist

You can find other Italy photos here , here , and here .

This society is just getting more bizarre by the second...
Mother's Day contest winner used to be a man

Thanks to Jeff Miller for the link... I think...

Monday, April 07, 2003


Immense cœli conditor.

Translated by John Henry Newman, C.O.

Lord of unbounded space,
Who, lest the sky and main
Should mix, and heaven should lose its place,
Didst the rude waters chain;

Parting the moist and rare,
That rills on earth might flow
To soothe the angry flame, whene'er
It ravens from below;

Pour on us of Thy grace
The everlasting spring;
Lest our frail steps renew the trace
Of the ancient wandering.

May faith in lustre grow,
And rear her star in heaven,
Paling all sparks of earth below,
Unquench'd by damps of even.

Grant it, O Father, Son,
And Holy Spirit of grace,
To whom be glory, Three in One,
In every time and place.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Personal anniversary...
On April 6th, 1999, I was admitted as a member of the Secular Oratory. In honor of the anniversary of my entrance in the Family of St. Philip, I post the following verse by one of the greatest of his sons.

St. Philip Neri in his Mission
(A song.)
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

In the far North our lot is cast,
Where faithful hearts are few;
Still are we Philip's children dear,
And Peter's soldiers true.

Founder and Sire! to mighty Rome,
Beneath St. Peter's shade,
Early thy vow of loyal love
And ministry was paid.

The solemn porch, and portal high,
Of Peter was thy home;
The world's Apostle he, and thou
Apostle of his Rome.

And first in the old catacombs,
In galleries long and deep,
Where martyr Popes had ruled the flock,
And slept their glorious sleep,

There didst thou pass the nights in prayer,
Until at length there came,
Down on thy breast, new lit for thee,
The Pentecostal flame;—

Then, in that heart-consuming love,
Didst walk the city wide,
And lure the noble and the young
From Babel's pomp and pride;

And, gathering them within thy cell,
Unveil the lustre bright,
And beauty of thy inner soul,
And gain them by the sight.

And thus to Rome, for Peter's faith
Far known, thou didst impart
Thy lessons of the hidden life,
And discipline of heart.

And as the Apostle, on the hill
Facing the Imperial Town,
First gazed upon his fair domain,
Then on the cross lay down,

So thou, from out the streets of Rome
Didst turn thy failing eye
Unto that mount of martyrdom,
Take leave of it, and die.

On the day of his death, Philip, "at the beginning
of his Mass, remained for some time looking
fixedly at the hill of St. Onofrio, which was visible
from the chapel, just as if he saw some great
vision. On coming to the Gloria in Excelsis, he
began to sing, which was a very unusual thing
for him, and he sang the whole of it with the
greatest joy and devotion," &c.—Bacci's Life of St. Philip Neri

The Oratory.

From the homily
Fr. Drew celebrated the noon Mass at Heinz Chapel today. His homily included one of my favorite St. Philip stories, which I duly record here.
One of St. Philip's followers, Agostino Manni, had recently been ordained to the priesthood. Early in his ministry, he was preparing a sermon. Actually, he didn't just prepare it. He polished that sermon until it glistened, and when he preached it, his listeners were spellbound. Afterwards, various people came up and congratulated him on preaching so well. Fr. Manni, listening to all this praise, began to feel, well, pleased with himself.
Philip had been listening as well, and Fr. Manni asked him what he had thought. Fr. Philip said he thought it was brilliant. In fact, he said people ought to hear it again, and promptly ordered he should preach the same sermon again. Word for word. For the next six times he preached ! By the time that was over, Fr. Agostino's temptation to vainglory was dead and buried, mostly from hearing people say as he came in, "Oh, no ! Not that poor priest who only has one sermon again ! "

Great Venerable Newman links
at Lane Core's blog.
Music at noon Mass
Processional Hymn: "Turn Back, O Man"
Offertory: "Peccantem Me Quotidie" - Cristobal Morales (c.1500-1553)
Communion: "Nolo Mortem Peccatoris" - Thomas Morley(c.1577-1602)
Recessional Hymn: "Forty Days and Forty Nights"