Saturday, May 17, 2003

Eight days to go..
Until St. Philip's Day.... I will post a prayer for his intercession written by Venerable Newman each day until the day itself....
" May 17
Philip's Humility

If Philip heard of anyone having committed a crime, he would say, 'Thank God that I have not done worse.'

At confession he would shed abundance of tears, and say, 'I have never done a good action.'

When a penitent showed that she could not bear the rudeness shown towards him by certain persons who were under great obligations to him, he answered her, 'If I were humble, God would not send this to me.'

When one of his spiritual children said to him, 'Father, I wish to have something of yours for devotion, for I know you are a Saint,' he turned to her with a face full of anger, and broke out into these words: 'Begone with you! I am a devil, and not a saint.'

To another who said to him, 'Father, a temptation has come to me to think that you are not what the world takes you for,' he made answer: "Be sure of this, that I am a man like my neighbours, and nothing more.'

If he heard of any who had a good opinion of him, he used to say, 'O poor me! how many poor girls will be greater in Paradise than I shall be!'

He avoided all marks of honour. He could not bear to receive any signs of respect. When people wished to touch his clothes, and knelt as he passed by, he used to say, 'Get up! get out of my way!' He did not like people to kiss his hand; though he sometimes let them do so, lest he should hurt their feelings.

He was an enemy to all rivalry and contention. He always took in good part everything that was said to him. He had a particular dislike of affectation, whether in speaking, or in dressing, or in anything else.

He could not bear two-faced persons; as for liars, he could not endure them, and was continually reminding his spiritual children to avoid them as they would a pestilence.

He always asked advice, even on affairs of minor importance. His constant counsel to his penitents was, that they should not trust in themselves, but always take the advice of others, and get as many prayers as they could.

He took great pleasure in being lightly esteemed, nay, even despised.

He had a most pleasant manner of transacting business with others, great sweetness in conversation, and was full of compassion and consideration.

He had always a dislike to speak of himself. The phrases "I said," "I did," were rarely in his mouth. He exhorted others never to make a display of themselves, especially in those things which tended to their credit, whether in earnest or in joke.

As St. John the Evangelist, when old, was continually saying, 'Little children, love one another,' so Philip was ever repeating his favourite lesson, "Be humble; think little of yourselves."

He said that if we did a good work, and another took the credit of it to himself, we ought to rejoice and thank God.

He said no one ought to say, 'Oh! I shall not fall, I shall not commit sin,' for it was a clear sign that he would fall. He was greatly displeased with those who made excuses for themselves, and called such persons 'My Lady Eve,' because Eve defended herself instead of being humble.


Philip, my glorious patron, who didst count as dross the praise, and even the good esteem of men, obtain for me also, from my Lord and Saviour, this fair virtue by thy prayers. How haughty are my thoughts, how contemptuous are my words, how ambitious are my works. Gain for me that low esteem of self with which thou wast gifted; obtain for me a knowledge of my own nothingness, that I may rejoice when I am despised, and ever seek to be great only in the eyes of my God and Judge. "

Meditations and Devotions

Kyrie eleison !
The world has long been tolerating- no, encouraging those who corrupt the young with lewd images and vile words. The next stage has begun- ' experts' are starting the waffling process on actual molestation.

Thanks to Justin Katz for posting on this disturbing topic.

"The Church of the Sacred Heart " ?
To me, this looks more like "Our Lady of the Giant Flashcube...."

Friday, May 16, 2003

Nine days before St. Philip's Day
Here's a lengthy quote from Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., on his (and my) founder....

" He lived in an age as traitorous to the interests of Catholicism as any that preceded it, or can follow it. He lived at a time when pride mounted high, and the senses held rule; a time when kings and nobles never had more of state and homage, and never less of personal responsibility and peril; when medieval winter was receding, and the summer sun of civilization was bringing into leaf and flower a thousand forms of luxurious enjoyment; when a new world of thought and beauty had opened upon the human mind, in the discovery of the treasures of classic literature and art. He saw the great and the gifted, dazzled by the Enchantress, and drinking in the magic of her song; he saw the high and the wise, the student and the artist, painting, and poetry, and sculpture, and music, and architecture, drawn within her range, and circling round the abyss: he saw heathen forms mounting thence, and forming in the thick air:—all this he saw, and he perceived that the mischief was to be met, not with argument, not with science, not with protests and warnings, not by the recluse or the preacher, but by means of the great counter-fascination of purity and truth. He was raised up to do a work almost peculiar in the Church,—not to be a Jerome Savonarola, though Philip had a true devotion towards him and a tender memory of his Florentine house; not to be a St. Charles (ed. Borromeo) , though in his beaming countenance Philip had recognized the aureole of a saint; not to be a St. Ignatius, wrestling with the foe, though Philip was termed the Society's bell of call, so many subjects did he send to it; not to be a St. Francis Xavier, though Philip had longed to shed his blood for Christ in India with him; not to be a St. Cajetan, or hunter, of souls, for Philip preferred, as he expressed it, tranquilly to cast in his net to gain them; he preferred to yield to the stream, and direct the current, which he could not stop, of science, literature, art, and fashion, and to sweeten and to sanctify what God had made very good and man had spoilt.

And so he contemplated as the idea of his mission, not the propagation of the faith, nor the exposition of doctrine, nor the catechetical schools; whatever was exact and systematic pleased him not; he put from him monastic rule and authoritative speech, as David refused the armour of his king. No; he would be but an ordinary individual priest as others: and his weapons should be but unaffected humility and unpretending love. All He did was to be done by the light, and fervour, and convincing eloquence of his personal character and his easy conversation. He came to the Eternal City and he sat himself down there, and his home and his family gradually grew up around him, by the spontaneous accession of materials from without. He did not so much seek his own as draw them to him. He sat in his small room, and they in their gay worldly dresses, the rich and the wellborn, as well as the simple and the illiterate, crowded into it. In the mid-heats of summer, in the frosts of winter, still was he in that low and narrow cell at San Girolamo, reading the hearts of those who came to him, and curing their souls' maladies by the very touch of his hand. It was a vision of the Magi worshipping the infant Saviour, so pure and innocent, so sweet and beautiful was he; and so loyal and so dear to the gracious Virgin Mother. And they who came remained gazing and listening, till at length, first one and then another threw off their bravery, and took his poor cassock and girdle instead: or, if they kept it, it was to put haircloth under it, or to take on them a rule of life, while to the world they looked as before.

In the words of his biographer, 'he was all things to all men. He suited himself to noble and ignoble, young and old, subjects and prelates, learned and ignorant; and received those who were strangers to him with singular benignity, and embraced them with as much love and charity as if he had been a long while expecting them. When he was called upon to be merry he was so; if there was a demand upon his sympathy he was equally ready. He gave the same welcome to all: caressing the poor equally with the rich, and wearying himself to assist all to the utmost limits of his power. In consequence of his being so accessible and willing to receive all comers, many went to him every day, and some continued for the space of thirty, nay forty years, to visit him very often both morning and evening, so that his room went by the agreeable nickname of the Home of Christian mirth. Nay, people came to him, not only from all parts of Italy, but from France, Spain, Germany, and all Christendom; and even the infidels and Jews, who had ever any communication with him, revered him as a holy man.' The first families of Rome, the Massimi, the Aldobrandini, the Colonnas, the Altieri, the Vitelleschi, were his friends and his penitents. Nobles of Poland, Grandees of Spain, Knights of Malta, could not leave Rome without coming to him. Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops were his intimates; Federigo Borromeo haunted his room and got the name of 'Father Philip's soul.' The Cardinal-Archbishops of Verona and Bologna wrote books in his honour. Pope Pius the Fourth died in his arms. Lawyers, painters, musicians, physicians, it was the same too with them. Baronius, Zazzara, and Ricci, left the law at his bidding, and joined his congregation, to do its work, to write the annals of the Church, and to die in the odour of sanctity. Palestrina had Father Philip's ministrations in his last moments. Animuccia hung about him during life, sent him a message after death, and was conducted by him through Purgatory to Heaven. And who was he, I say, all the while, but an humble priest, a stranger in Rome, with no distinction of family or letters, no claim of station or of office, great simply in the attraction with which a Divine Power had gifted him? and yet thus humble, thus unennobled, thus empty-handed, he has achieved the glorious title of Apostle of Rome.

Well were it for his clients and children, Gentlemen, it they could promise themselves the very shadow of his special power, or could hope to do a miserable fraction of the sort of work in which he was pre-eminently skilled. But so far at least they may attempt,—to take his position, and to use his method, and to cultivate the arts of which he was so bright a pattern. "

From The Idea of a University

Added a link
to the Holy See under "Catholic and Pro-Life Links" .
Glad to see this article
by Mr. Weigel in my diocesan newspaper. ( No, it is not about Iraq.) I do wish he had been more careful about calling lay folks distributing communion 'extraordinary eucharistic ministers', but I think it's pretty much on target.
The Feast of St. Brendan the Navigator
is today. There is information about him here.

Part of why I mention him here is because when I was young, I was fascinated by the writings of a gentleman named Tim Severin. After hearing the conventional wisdom that it was impossible for 6th century Irish monks to have reached the Americas, he built himself a curragh ( the type of leather boat St. Brendan would most probably have used), and proceeded to do it himself.

The other part is that the Professor was not only familiar with the St. Brendan story, but found it interesting enough to write a poem based upon it. I have not been able to find it in print, but from the descriptions I have read, it has St. Brendan visiting various islands, including one which bears some resemblance to Tol Eressëa.....

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Ten days
before St. Philip's Day...
Since it is getting very close, I'll post a prayer written by Venerable Newman for his intercession:

"O my dear and holy Patron, Philip, I put myself into thy hands, and for the love of Jesus, for that love’s sake which chose thee and made thee a saint, I implore thee to pray for me, that, as He has brought thee to heaven, so in due time He may take me to heaven too.

Thou hast had experience of the trials and troubles of this life; thou knowest well what it is to bear the assaults of the devil, the mockery of the world, and the temptations of flesh and blood. Thou knowest how weak is human nature, and how treacherous the human heart, and thou art so full of sympathy and compassion, that, amidst all thy present ineffable glory and blessedness, thou canst, I know, give a thought to me.

Think of me then, my dear St. Philip, be sure to think of me, even though I am at times so unmindful of thee. Gain for me all things necessary for my perseverance in the grace of God, and my eternal salvation. Gain for me, by thy powerful intercession, the strength to fight a good fight, to witness boldly for God and religion in the midst of sinners, to be brave when Satan would frighten or force me to what is wrong, to overcome myself, to do my whole duty, and thus to be acquitted in the judgment.

Vessel of the Holy Ghost, Apostle of Rome, Saint of primitive times, pray for me. "

The Venerable, on the aims of the world, and of the Church

" The world is content with setting right the surface of things; the Church aims at regenerating the very depths of the heart. She ever begins with the beginning; and, as regards the multitude of her children, is never able to get beyond the beginning, but is continually employed in laying the foundation. She is engaged with what is essential, as previous and as introductory to the ornamental and the attractive. She is curing men and keeping them clear of mortal sin; she is 'treating of justice and chastity, and the judgment to come:' she is insisting on faith and hope, and devotion, and honesty, and the elements of charity; and has so much to do with precept, that she almost leaves it to inspirations from Heaven to suggest what is of counsel and perfection. She aims at what is necessary rather than at what is desirable. She is for the many as well as for the few. She is putting souls in the way of salvation, that they may then be in a condition, if they shall be called upon, to aspire to the heroic, and to attain the full proportions, as well as the rudiments, of the beautiful. "

The Idea of a University
The Feast of St. Isidore the Farmer
is today. There is information on him here.

One of my friends came as him to an All Saints Party years ago. At the end of his presentation, he mentioned that St. Isidore was canonized at the same ceremony as some much more well-known saints...."Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila...oh, and some Italian priest named Phil....."

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Eleven days
before St. Philip's Day...
The Professor as illustrator...
My personal favorites among the various pictures he drew of scenes from his own works....

Conversation with Smaug - The smirk on that dragon's face is priceless....

The Hill: Hobbiton-across-the-Water- You can certainly see where a lot of the opening shots of the Fellowship film came from....

Taniquetil - Is there anyone who has read The Silmarillion who isn't haunted by the image of Mount Everwhite ?

The Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle
is today. There is information on him here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Twelve days until St. Philip's Day...
Just because
This was written by the Professor, in answer to something said by his friend C.S. Lewis, then an atheist.....


To one who said that myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though 'breathed through silver.'

Philomythus to Misomythus
J.R.R.T. for C.S.L.

" You look at trees and label them just so,
(for trees are 'trees,' and growing is 'to grow');
you walk the earth and tread with solemn pace
one of the many minor globes of Space:
a star's a star, some matter in a ball
compelled to courses mathematical
amid the regimented, cold, Inane,
where destined atoms are each moment slain.

At bidding of a Will, to which we bend
(and must), but only dimly apprehend,
great processes march on, as Time unrolls
from dark beginnings to uncertain goals;
and as on page o'erwritten without clue,
with script and limning packed of various hue,
an endless multitude of forms appear,
some grim, some frail, some beautiful, some queer,
each alien, except as kin from one
remote Origo, gnat, man, stone, and sun.
God made the petrous rocks, the arboreal trees,
tellurian earth, and stellar stars, and these
homuncular men, who walk upon the ground
with nerves that tingle touched by light and sound.
The movements of the sea, the wind in boughs,
green grass, the large slow oddity of cows,
thunder and lightning, birds that wheel and cry,
slime crawling up from mud to live and die,
these each are duly registered and print
the brain's contortions with a separate dint.

Yet trees are not 'trees,' until so named and seen --
and never were so named, till those had been
who speech's involuted breath unfurled,
faint echo and dim picture of the world,
but neither record nor a photograph,
being divination, judgement, and a laugh,
response of those that felt astir within
by deep monition movements that were kin
to life and death of trees, of beasts, of stars:
free captives undermining shadowy bars,
digging the foreknown from experience
and panning the vein of spirit out of sense.
Great powers they slowly brought out of themselves,
and looking backward they beheld the elves
that wrought on cunning forges in the mind,
and light and dark on secret looms entwined.

He sees no stars who does not see them first
of living silver made that sudden burst
to flame like flowers beneath an ancient song,
whose very echo after music long
has since pursued. There is no firmament,
only a void, unless a jewelled tent
myth-woven and elf-patterned; and no earth,
unless the mother's womb whence all have birth.

The heart of man is not compound of lies,
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
man, sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with elves and goblins, though we dared to build
gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sow the seeds of dragons, 'twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we're made.

Yes! 'wish-fulfilment dreams' we spin to cheat
our timid hearts and ugly Fact defeat!
Whence came the wish, and whence the power to dream,
or some things fair and others ugly deem?
All wishes are not idle, nor in vain
fulfilment we devise -- for pain is pain
not for itself to be desired, but ill;
or else to strive or to subdue the will
alike were graceless; and of Evil this
alone is dreadly certain: Evil is.

Blessed are the timid hearts that evil hate,
that quail in its shadow, and yet shut the gate;
that seek no parley, and in guarded room,
though small and bare, upon a clumsy loom
weave tissues gilded by the far-off day
hoped and believed in under Shadow's sway.

Blessed are the men of Noah's race that build
their little arks, though frail and poorly filled,
and steer through winds contrary towards a wraith,
a rumour of a harbour guessed by faith.

Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme
of things not found within recorded time.
It is not they that have forgot the Night,
or bid us flee to organized delight,
in lotus-isles of economic bliss
forswearing souls to gain a Circe-kiss
(and counterfeit at that, machine-produced,
bogus seduction of the twice seduced).
Such isles they saw afar, and ones more fair,
and those that hear them yet may yet beware.
They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,
and yet they would not in despair retreat,
but oft to victory have turned the lyre
and kindled hearts with legendary fire,
illuminating Now and dark Hath-been
with light of suns as yet by no man seen.

I would that I might with the minstrels sing
and stir the unseen with a throbbing string.
I would be with the mariners of the deep
that cut their slender planks on mountains steep
and voyage upon a vague and wandering quest,
for some have passed beyond the fabled West.
I would with the beleaguered fools be told,
that keep an inner fastness where their gold,
impure and scanty, yet they loyally bring
to mint in image blurred of distant king,
or in fantastic banners weave the sheen
heraldic emblems of a lord unseen.

I will not walk with your progressive apes,
erect and sapient. Before them gapes
the dark abyss to which their progress tends --
if by God's mercy progress ever ends,
and does not ceaselessly revolve the same
unfruitful course with changing of a name.
I will not treat your dusty path and flat,
denoting this and that by this and that,
your world immutable wherein o part
the little maker has with maker's art.
I bow not yet before the Iron Crown,
nor cast my own small golden scepter down.


In Paradise perchance the eye may stray
from gazing upon everlasting Day
to see the day-illumined, and renew
from mirrored truth the likeness of the True.
Then looking on the Blessed Land 'twill see
that all is as it is, and yet made free:
Salvation changes not, nor yet destroys,
garden nor gardener, children nor their toys.
Evil will not see, for evil lies
not in God's picture but in crooked eyes,
not in the source but in malicious choice,
and not in sound but in the tuneless voice.
In Paradise they no more look awry;
and though they make anew, they make no lie.
Be sure they still will make, not being dead,
and poets shall have flames upon their head,
and harps whereon their faultless fingers fall:
there each shall choose for ever from the All."

Thanks to Gazing Upon Everlasting Day for this.

She's on my short list
of 'people who have been appropriated by the White Hand wackos but are cool anyway' : Blessed Julian of Norwich, whose (apparently unofficial) feast is today . I came as her to an All Saints party years ago, and that happened to be the evening when I met my good friend Katie. She still calls me 'Julian'.

The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
is today. In honor of this, here are links to the Shrine , The Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, and a site to post prayer petitions which will be taken to the Shrine.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Thirteen days
before St. Philip's Day...
Over at Pro Deo et Patria
Mr. William Cork posted a link to prayers for priests and for priestly vocations. I'm reposting the link, not only because these are intentions which need much prayer, but also because of the lovely icon-type illustration. When I saw that, in black-and-white, in the Adoremus Bulletin, I thought ' gee, that might make a great ordination present ! ' Well, I ordered it, had it mounted, and gave it to Fr. Michael, along with a copy of The Pastoral and Occasional Sermons of Ronald Knox . ( He's an Oratorian- he already had the Venerable's sermons. ) It is much more impressive in a larger size !
Neat pictures
I mentioned back on March 25 that a new Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri was being officially established that day. Well, the Confederation website has some pictures of the event. The captions are in Italian, as is almost all of the Confederation website. (I've been bugging them with e-mail, reminding them that yes, there are 18 Italian Congregations, but the other 58 speak other languages, like English and Spanish and French and Portugese and German and even Afrikaans..... but they haven't gotten around to translation yet...sigh)

May 12, 1879
was the day John Henry Newman was elevated to the Cardinalate. His Biglietto Speech may be found here . His titular church was San Giorgio in Velabro, which I blogged about here.

The Venerable wrote about his reason for accepting the honor in a letter to his friend Dean Church earlier in the year...

" Haec mutatio dexterae Excelsi ! all the stories which have gone about of my being a half Catholic, a Liberal Catholic, under a cloud, not to be trusted, are now at an end ...
It was on this account that I dared not refuse the offer. A good Providence gave me an opportunity of clearing myself of former calumnies in my 'Apologia'—and I dared not refuse it. And now He gave me a means, without any labour of mine, to set myself right as regards other calumnies which were directed against me—how could I neglect so great a loving kindness?
I have ever tried to leave my cause in the Hands of God and to be patient—and He has not forgotten me. "

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Only a fortnight to go
before St. Philip's Day....
Great link

Mapquest-style directions from Bag End to the Cracks of Doom

Typical Mapquest... it doesn't take into account road conditions or travel hazards....

Thanks to Jeff Miller

For Mother's Day...
A meditation on the mother of all Christians by the Venerable...

Mary is the "Mater Christi," the Mother of Christ

"Each of the titles of Mary has its own special meaning and drift, and may be made the subject of a distinct meditation. She is invoked by us as the Mother of Christ. What is the force of thus addressing her? It is to bring before us that she it is whom from the first was prophesied of, and associated with the hopes and prayers of all holy men, of all true worshippers of God, of all who 'looked for the redemption of Israel' in every age before that redemption came.

Our Lord was called the Christ, or the Messias, by the Jewish prophets and the Jewish people. The two words Christ and Messias mean the same. They mean in English the 'Anointed.'In the old time there were three great ministries or offices by means of which God spoke to His chosen people, the Israelites, or, as they were afterward called, the Jews, viz., that of Priest, that of King, and that of Prophet. Those who were chosen by God for one or other of these offices were solemnly anointed with oil—oil signifying the grace of God, which was given to them for the due performance of their high duties. But our Lord was all three, a Priest, a Prophet, and a King—a Priest, because He offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins; a Prophet, because He revealed to us the Holy Law of God; and a King, because He rules over us. Thus He is the one true Christ.

It was in expectation of this great Messias that the chosen people, the Jews, or Israelites, or Hebrews (for these are different names for the same people), looked out from age to age. He was to come to set all things right. And next to this great question which occupied their minds, namely, When was He to come, was the question, Who was to be His Mother? It had been told them from the first, not that He should come from heaven, but that He should be born of a Woman. At the time of the fall of Adam, God had said that the seed of the Woman should bruise the Serpent's head. Who, then, was to be that Woman thus significantly pointed out to the fallen race of Adam? At the end of many centuries, it was further revealed to the Jews that the great Messias, or Christ, the seed of the Woman, should be born of their race, and of one particular tribe of the twelve tribes into which that race was divided. From that time every woman of that tribe hoped to have the great privilege of herself being the Mother of the Messias, or Christ; for it stood to reason, since He was so great, the Mother must be great, and good, and blessed too. Hence it was, among other reasons, that they thought so highly of the marriage state, because, not knowing the mystery of the miraculous conception of the Christ when He was actually to come, they thought that the marriage rite was the ordinance necessary for His coming.

Hence it was, if Mary had been as other women, she would have longed for marriage, as opening on her the prospect of bearing the great King. But she was too humble and too pure for such thoughts. She had been inspired to choose that better way of serving God which had not been made known to the Jews—the state of Virginity. She preferred to be His Spouse to being His Mother. Accordingly, when the Angel Gabriel announced to her her high destiny, she shrank from it till she was assured that it would not oblige her to revoke her purpose of a virgin life devoted to her God.

Thus was it that she became the Mother of the Christ, not in that way which pious women for so many ages had expected Him, but, declining the grace of such maternity, she gained it by means of a higher grace. And this is the full meaning of St. Elizabeth's words, when the Blessed Virgin came to visit her, which we use in the Hail Mary: 'Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.' And therefore it is that in the Devotion called the 'Crown of Twelve Stars' we give praise to God the Holy Ghost, through whom she was both Virgin and Mother. "

Meditations and Devotions

I missed this yesterday...
A quote from a letter the Professor wrote to Joy Hill at Allen & Unwin (his publishers), on May 10, 1966... She apparently had recommended that he get an unlisted phone number....
"Thank you very much for your suggestion about my telephone number, which I will consider. Removing the number from the directory seems better than the method adopted by Major W.H. Lewis to protect his brother, which was to lift the receiver and say 'Oxford Sewage Disposal Unit' and go on repeating it until they went away. "
Lane Core
continues to link to sermons by the Venerable here.