Saturday, July 26, 2003

For Saturday
"I say then, when once we have mastered the idea, that Mary bore, suckled, and handled the Eternal in the form of a child, what limit is conceivable to the rush and flood of thoughts which such a doctrine involves? What awe and surprise must attend upon the knowledge, that a creature has been brought so close to the Divine Essence? It was the creation of a new idea and of a new sympathy, of a new faith and worship, when the holy Apostles announced that God had become incarnate; then a supreme love and devotion to Him became possible, which seemed hopeless before that revelation. This was the first consequence of their preaching. But, besides this, a second range of thoughts was opened on mankind, unknown before, and unlike any other, as soon as it was understood that that Incarnate God had a mother. The second idea is perfectly distinct from the former, and does not interfere with it. He is God made low, she is a woman made high. I scarcely like to use a familiar illustration on the subject of the Blessed Virgin's dignity among created beings, but it will serve to explain what I mean, when I ask you to consider the difference of feeling, with which we read the respective histories of Maria Theresa and the Maid of Orleans; or with which the middle and lower classes of a nation regard a first minister of the day who has come of an aristocratic house, and one who has risen from the ranks. May God's mercy keep me from the shadow of a thought, dimming the purity or blunting the keenness of that love of Him, which is our sole happiness and our sole salvation! But surely when He became man, He brought home to us His incommunicable attributes with a distinctiveness, which precludes the possibility of our lowering Him merely by our exalting a creature. He alone has an entrance into our soul, reads our secret thoughts, speaks to our heart, applies to us spiritual pardon and strength. On Him we solely depend. He alone is our inward life; He not only regenerates us, but (to use the words appropriated to a higher mystery) semper gignit; He is ever renewing our new birth and our heavenly sonship. In this sense He may be called, as in nature, so in grace, our real Father. Mary is only our mother by divine appointment, given us from the Cross; her presence is above, not on earth; her office is external, not within us. Her name is not heard in the administration of the Sacraments. Her work is not one of ministration towards us; her power is indirect. It is her prayers that avail, and her prayers are effectual by the fiat of Him who is our all in all. Nor need she hear us by any innate power, or any personal gift; but by His manifestation to her of the prayers which we make to her. When Moses was on the Mount, the Almighty told him of the idolatry of his people at the foot of it, in order that he might intercede for them; and thus it is the Divine Presence which is the intermediating Power by which we reach her and she reaches us. " - Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O. A Letter Addressed to the Rev. E. B. Pusey, D.D.,on Occasion of His Eirenicon
The June/July edition of First Things
is online. This article by Mary Ann Glendon is worth a look. There are also interesting ones by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus on Christian unity and sacred architecture, plus one on a blogger whose appeal puzzles me, Andrew Sullivan. The While We're At It section also contains some gems, such as this one:
Men are from Mars, women from Venus. I expect there is a strong measure of truth in that. At least men think they should act as though they are from Mars, which means, among other things, as though they are in control. I have written elsewhere that, as a general rule, women are much better around the sick and debilitated than men, not least because they have usually gone through the ordeal of bearing children. They are more at home with the messiness of life. Admittedly, these are generalizations, but they are brought to mind by a report on physician-assisted suicide in Oregon, the only state in which mercy killing is legal. According to American Medical News, the dominant (84 percent) reason for choosing death is the fear of losing autonomy and the ability to do the things one wants to do. A doctor with a suicide advocacy group says, “The No. 1 reason given to me is: ‘I don’t want to have anyone wipe my rear end.’ That is the most humiliating aspect of terminal illness.” Despite there being many more aged and debilitated women, 71 percent of those choosing suicide in Oregon are men.

There is also a link to one article in the August/September edition, by Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.

Pictures from Santiago de Compostela
over at A Catholic Blog for Lovers.
My friend and fellow Secular Oratorian Adam, who often serves Mass here, once remarked that he wished he could take our servers on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, just to show them that compared with dealing with that thurible, handling ours ought to be a piece of cake.
The Rat of the Week over at the Rat Fan Club is a rescue. And the writer calls her, "the best thing my wife has ever given me."

The Feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne
is today. There is information on them here and here.
Prayers for all those who have them as special patrons, and for all grandparents, would be appropriate.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

For Thursday...
The Mass
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

1. I adore Thee, O my Lord God, with the most profound awe for thy passion and crucifixion, in sacrifice for our sins. Thou didst suffer incommunicable sufferings in Thy sinless soul. Thou wast exposed in Thy innocent body to ignominious torments, to mingled pain and shame. Thou wast stripped and fiercely scourged, Thy sacred body vibrating under the heavy flail as trees under the blast. Thou wast, when thus mangled, hung up upon the Cross, naked, a spectacle for all to see Thee quivering and dying. What does all this imply, O Mighty God! What a depth is here which we cannot fathom! My God, I know well, Thou couldst have saved us at Thy word, without Thyself suffering; but Thou didst choose to purchase us at the price of Thy Blood. I look on Thee, the Victim lifted up on Calvary, and I know and protest that that death of Thine was an expiation for the sins of the whole world. I believe and know, that Thou alone couldst have offered a meritorious atonement; for it was Thy Divine Nature which gave Thy sufferings worth. Rather then than I should perish according to my deserts, Thou wast nailed to the Tree and didst die.

2. Such a sacrifice was not to be forgotten. It was not to be—it could not be—a mere event in the world's history, which was to be done and over, and was to pass away except in its obscure, unrecognised effects. If that great deed was what we believe it to be, what we know it is, it must remain present, though past; it must be a standing fact for all times. Our own careful reflection upon it tells us this; and therefore, when we are told that Thou, O Lord, though Thou hast ascended to glory, hast renewed and perpetuated Thy sacrifice to the end of all things, not only is the news most touching and joyful, as testifying to so tender a Lord and Saviour, but it carries with it the full assent and sympathy of our reason. Though we neither could, nor would have dared, anticipate so wonderful a doctrine, yet we adore its very suitableness to Thy perfections, as well as its infinite compassionateness for us, now that we are told of it. Yes, my Lord, though Thou hast left the world, Thou art daily offered up in the Mass; and, though Thou canst not suffer pain and death, Thou dost still subject Thyself to indignity and restraint to carry out to the full Thy mercies towards us. Thou dost humble Thyself daily; for, being infinite, Thou couldst not end Thy humiliation while they existed for whom Thou didst submit to it. So Thou remainest a Priest for ever.

3. My Lord, I offer Thee myself in turn as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Thou hast died for me, and I in turn make myself over to Thee. I am not my own. Thou hast bought me; I will by my own act and deed complete the purchase. My wish is to be separated from everything of this world; to cleanse myself simply from sin; to put away from me even what is innocent, if used for its own sake, and not for Thine. I put away reputation and honour, and influence, and power, for my praise and strength shall be in Thee. Enable me to carry out what I profess.

Meditations and Devotions
Happy Blogoversary
to Jeff Miller at The Curt Jester .
I won't be able to blog tommorow..
due to Real Life, so I am posting two of my favorite selections from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, both dated July 25, 1938, today. The Professor received a letter from a German publisher which wished to publish a translation of The Hobbit . However, they inquired whether or not he was of arisch (Aryan) extraction. The Professor promptly fired off two letters. The first was to his publisher, Stanley Unwin of Allen & Unwin.
"I must say the enclosed letter from Rütten and Loening is a bit stiff. Do I suffer this impertinence because of the possession of a German name, or do their lunatic laws require a certificate of arisch origin from all persons of all countries ?
Personally, I should be inclined to refuse to give any Bestätigung (although it happens that I can) and let a German translation go hang. In any case I should object very strongly to any such declaration appearing in print. I do not regard the (probable) absence of any Jewish blood to be necessarily honourable; and I have many Jewish friends, and should regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine. "
The second was to the German publisher.
"Dear Sirs:
Thank you for your letter.... I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch . I am not of 'Aryan' extraction: that is Indo-Iranian: as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustanti, Persian, Gypsy, or related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject- which should be sufficent. I have been accustomed, none the less, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forebear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.
Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your own country, but that this should be held to apply to the subjects of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its suitability for publication of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without references to my Abstammung.
I trust you will find this reply satisfactory, and remain yours faithfully,
J.R.R. Tolkien "

The German translation did 'go hang', until after WWII.
Interesting column in my diocesan paper
by Russell Shaw:
'Humanae Vitae' foresaw today's confusion

Once you rip apart the procreative and unitive functions of the marital act, why not legalize perversion ? It's the ultimate 'birth control' !
The Feast of St. John Boste
is today. There is information on him here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

From The Idea of a University
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

"Another reason of a kindred nature is to be found in the difference of method by which truths are gained in theology and in physical science. Induction is the instrument of Physics, and deduction only is the instrument of Theology. There the simple question is, What is revealed? all doctrinal knowledge flows from one fountain head. If we are able to enlarge our view and multiply our propositions, it must be merely by the comparison and adjustment of the original truths; if we would solve new questions, it must be by consulting old answers. The notion of doctrinal knowledge absolutely novel, and of simple addition from without, is intolerable to Catholic ears, and never was entertained by any one who was even approaching to an understanding of our creed. Revelation is all in all in doctrine; the Apostles its sole depository, the inferential method its sole instrument, and ecclesiastical authority its sole sanction. The Divine Voice has spoken once for all, and the only question is about its meaning. Now this process, as far as it was reasoning, was the very mode of reasoning which, as regards physical knowledge, the school of Bacon has superseded by the inductive method:—no wonder, then, that that school should be irritated and indignant to find that a subject-matter remains still, in which their favourite instrument has no office; no wonder that they rise up against this memorial of an antiquated system, as an eyesore and an insult; and no wonder that the very force and dazzling success of their own method in its own departments should sway or bias unduly the religious sentiments of any persons who come under its influence. They assert that no new truth can be gained by deduction; Catholics assent, but add that, as regards religious truth, they have not to seek at all, for they have it already. Christian Truth is purely of revelation; that revelation we can but explain, we cannot increase, except relatively to our own apprehensions; without it we should have known nothing of its contents, with it we know just as much as its contents, and nothing more. And, as it was given by a divine act independent of man, so will it remain in spite of man. Niebuhr may revolutionize history, Lavoisier chemistry, Newton astronomy; but God Himself is the author as well as the subject of theology. When Truth can change, its Revelation can change; when human reason can outreason the Omniscient, then may it supersede His work.

Avowals such as these fall strange upon the ear of men whose first principle is the search after truth, and whose starting-points of search are things material and sensible. They scorn any process of inquiry not founded on experiment; the Mathematics indeed they endure, because that science deals with ideas, not with facts, and leads to conclusions hypothetical rather than real; 'Metaphysics' they even use as a by-word of reproach; and Ethics they admit only on condition that it gives up conscience as its scientific ground, and bases itself on tangible utility: but as to Theology, they cannot deal with it, they cannot master it, and so they simply outlaw it and ignore it. Catholicism, forsooth, 'confines the intellect,' because it holds that God's intellect is greater than theirs, and that what He has done, man cannot improve. "
Got an invitation today...
from my friend Clare, asking me to come to the Mass where she will, God willing, become a Benedictine novice. That will be on August 10th, at 10:30 am. Prayers for her and her community are, of course, very welcome.
The Feast of St. Bridget of Sweden
is today. There is information on her here. It is also the feast of St. John Cassian. His writings, particularly The Conferences, were favorites with St. Philip and the early Oratorians.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The Evil of Sin

by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

"1. My God, I know that Thou didst create the whole universe very good; and if this was true of the material world which we see, much more true is it of the world of rational beings. The innumerable stars which fill the firmament, and the very elements out of which the earth is made, all are carried through their courses and their operations in perfect concord; but much higher was the concord which reigned in heaven when the Angels were first created. At that first moment of their existence the main orders of the Angels were in the most excellent harmony, and beautiful to contemplate; and the creation of man was expected next, to continue that harmony in the instance of a different kind of being. Then it was that suddenly was discovered a flaw or a rent in one point of this most delicate and exquisite web—and it extended and unravelled the web, till a third part of it was spoilt; and then again a similar flaw was found in human kind, and it extended over the whole race. This dreadful evil, destroying so large a portion of all God's works, is sin.

2. My God, such is sin in Thy judgment; what is it in the judgment of the world? A very small evil or none at all. In the judgment of the Creator it is that which has marred His spiritual work; it is a greater evil than though the stars got loose, and ran wild in heaven, and chaos came again. But man, who is the guilty one, calls it by soft names. He explains it away. The world laughs at it, and is indulgent to it; and, as to its deserving eternal punishment, it rises up indignant at the idea, and rather than admit it, would deny the God who has said it does. The world thinks sin the same sort of imperfection as an impropriety, or want of taste or infirmity. O my soul, consider carefully the great difference between the views of sin taken by Almighty God and the world! Which of the two views do you mean to believe?

3. O my soul, which of the two wilt thou believe—the word of God or the word of man? Is God right or is the creature right? Is sin the greatest of all possible evils or the least? My Lord and Saviour, I have no hesitation which to believe. Thou art true, and every man a liar. I will believe Thee, above the whole world. My God, imprint on my heart the infamous deformity of sin. Teach me to abhor it as a pestilence—as a fierce flame destroying on every side; as my death. Let me take up arms against it, and devote myself to fight under Thy banner in overcoming it. "

Meditations and Devotions
This man needs prayer ....
It's hard for me to even imagine the kind of pain he must live with every day.

Link courtesy of Zorak.

I think I may have jumped the gun....
Some of my sources say that St. Philip was born on July 21st, but some say July 22nd. Given his strong devotion to St. Mary Magdalene, the second date is looking more likely. Sorry for the error.
The Feast of St. Mary Magdalen
is today. There is information on her here.
It is also the feast of St. John Lloyd. I mention him not only because he is one of my beloved Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, but because his name happens to be the same as that of one of my music teachers back in high school- now retired. (When I informed him that he had the same name as a saint, he seemed rather amused. I do not believe that he was, or is, Catholic. )

Monday, July 21, 2003

From Discourses to Mixed Congregations
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

" The world then witnesses against you by being good friends with you; you could not have got on with the world so well, without surrendering something which was precious and sacred. The world likes you, all but your professed creed; distinguishes you from your creed in its judgment of you, and would fain separate you from it in fact. Men say, 'These persons are better than their Church; we have not a word to say for their Church; but Catholics are not what they were, they are very much like other men now. Their Creed certainly is bigoted and cruel, but what would you have of them? You cannot expect them to confess this; let them change quietly, no one changes in public,—be satisfied that they are changed. They are as fond of the world as we are; they take up political objects as warmly; they like their own way just as well; they do not like strictness a whit better; they hate spiritual thraldom, and they are half ashamed of the Pope and his Councils. They hardly believe any miracles now, and are annoyed when their own brethren confess that there are such; they never speak of purgatory; they are sore about images; they avoid the subject of Indulgences; and they will not commit themselves to the doctrine of exclusive salvation. The Catholic doctrines are now mere badges of party. Catholics think for themselves and judge for themselves, just as we do; they are kept in their Church by a point of honour, and a reluctance at seeming to abandon a fallen cause.'

Such is the judgment of the world, and you, my brethren, are shocked to hear it;—but may it not be, that the world knows more about you than you know about yourselves? 'If ye had been of the world,' says Christ, 'the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.' So speaks Christ of His Apostles. How run His words when applied to you? 'If ye be of the world, the world will love its own; therefore ye are of the world, and I have not chosen you out of the world, because the world doth love you.' Do not complain of the world's imputing to you more than is true; those who live as the world lives give countenance to those who think them of the world, and seem to form but one party with them. In proportion as you put off the yoke of Christ, so does the world by a sort of instinct recognise you, and think well of you accordingly. Its highest compliment is to tell you that you disbelieve. O my brethren, there is an eternal enmity between the world and the Church. The Church declares by the mouth of an Apostle, 'Whoso will be a friend of the world, becomes an enemy of God;' and the world retorts, and calls the Church apostate, sorceress, Beelzebub, and Antichrist. She is the image and the mother of the predestinate, and, if you would be found among her children when you die, you must have part in her reproach while you live. Does not the world scoff at all that is glorious, all that is majestic, in our holy religion? Does it not speak against the special creations of God's grace? Does it not disbelieve the possibility of purity and chastity? Does it not slander the profession of celibacy? Does it not deny the virginity of Mary? Does it not cast out her very name as evil? Does it not scorn her as 'a dead woman,' whom you know to be the Mother of all the living, and the great Intercessor of the faithful? Does it not ridicule the Saints? Does it not make light of their relics? Does it not despise the Sacraments? Does it not blaspheme the awful Presence which dwells upon our altars, and mock bitterly and fiercely at our believing that what it calls bread and wine is that very same Body and Blood of the Lamb, which lay in Mary's womb and hung on the Cross? What are we, that we should be better treated than our Lord, and His Mother, and His servants, and His works? Nay, what are we, if we be better treated, but friends of those who thus treat us well, and who ill-treat Him? "

Cool !
Earlier I posted the Our Father and Hail Mary in Sindarin. Well, I found a link that has them in Quenya. Even cooler, these translations were not made by a later writer, but by the Professor himself !

" Átaremma i ëa han ëa · na aire esselya · aranielya na tuluva · na care indómelya cemende tambe Erumande : ámen anta síra ilaurëa massamma · ar ámen apsene úcaremmar sív' emme apsenet tien i úcarer emmen. Álame tulya úsahtienna mal áme etelehta ulcullo : násie : "

"Aia María quanta Eruanno i Héru as elye · aistana elye imíca nísi · ar aistana i yáve mónalyo Yésus : Aire María Eruo ontaril á hyame rámen úcarindor sí ar lúmesse ya firuvamme : násie "

Courtesy of my favorite Tolkien language site, Ardalambion. ( No direct link available- Check under the heading "Corpus Texts Analyzed" )

Fr. Tucker
has a fine post on marriage.

The candles on this birthday cake would be quite a fire hazard....

but we can still sing !
"Happy birthday to you !
Happy birthday to you !
Happy 488th birthday, St. Philip !
Happy birthday to you ! "
The Feast of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church
is today. There is information on him here.