Saturday, September 27, 2003

For Saturday
Mary is the "Mater Admirabilis," the Wonderful Mother
by Venerable John Henry Newman. C.O.

"When Mary, the Virgo Praedicanda, the Virgin who is to be proclaimed aloud, is called by the title of Admirabilis, it is thereby suggested to us what the effect is of the preaching of her as Immaculate in her Conception. The Holy Church proclaims, preaches her, as conceived without original sin; and those who hear, the children of Holy Church, wonder, marvel, are astonished and overcome by the preaching. It is so great a prerogative.

Even created excellence is fearful to think of when it is so high as Mary's. As to the great Creator, when Moses desired to see His glory, He Himself says about Himself, 'Thou canst not see My face, for man shall not see Me and live;' and St. Paul says, 'Our God is a consuming fire.' And when St. John, holy as he was, saw only the Human Nature of our Lord, as He is in Heaven, 'he fell at His feet as dead.' And so as regards the appearance of angels. The holy Daniel, when St. Gabriel appeared to him, 'fainted away, and lay in a consternation, with his face close to the ground.' When this great archangel came to Zacharias, the father of St. John the Baptist, he too 'was troubled, and fear fell upon him.' But it was otherwise with Mary when the same St. Gabriel came to her. She was overcome indeed, and troubled at his words, because, humble as she was in her own opinion of herself, he addressed her as 'Full of grace,' and 'Blessed among women;'but she was able to bear the sight of him.

Hence we learn two things: first, how great a holiness was Mary's, seeing she could endure the presence of an angel, whose brightness smote the holy prophet Daniel even to fainting and almost to death; and secondly, since she is so much holier than that angel, and we so much less holy than Daniel, what great reason we have to call her the Virgo Admirabilis, the Wonderful, the Awful Virgin, when we think of her ineffable purity!

There are those who are so thoughtless, so blind, so grovelling as to think that Mary is not as much shocked at wilful sin as her Divine Son is, and that we can make her our friend and advocate, though we go to her without contrition at heart, without even the wish for true repentance and resolution to amend. As if Mary could hate sin less, and love sinners more, than our Lord does! No: she feels a sympathy for those only who wish to leave their sins; else, how should she be without sin herself? No: if even to the best of us she is, in the words of Scripture, 'fair as the moon, bright as the sun, and terrible as an army set in array, what is she to the impenitent sinner? "

Meditations and Devotions
Childhood literary memories...
Over at HMS Blog, there is a series of posts on books which were favorites of the posters as children. I remember that when I was eight my two favorite books were, believe it or not, the book of Genesis (which I read from my grandmother's beat-up Douay-Rheims Bible), and Mythology by Edith Hamilton. ( Yes, I was a weird kid. ) In Genesis, I was fascinated by the 'baby competition' between between Leah and Rachel. I think it was because I'm an only child, and I found the idea of a family with that many siblings amazing. In the Hamilton book, I was very fond of the line drawings, particularly one of Glaucus and Scylla in which poor, lovesick Glaucus has dragged himself, mermans scaly tail and all, up to the rock where the then-pretty Scylla looks down upon him with disdain.
When I got to college, I took a class called "Biblical and Mythological Backgrounds to Literature". When I got the list of required books, I spotted Mythology on it, and nearly burst out laughing, wondering if there was anybody who had taken that course for whom that book would be a nostalgia kick.
The Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest and Founder
is today. There is information on him here To any Vincentians, Daughters of Charity, members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, or any others who have him as a special patron, happy feast day !

Friday, September 26, 2003

Rats in research have been used to make great strides forward...
This isn't one of them.

For Friday
The Power of the Cross
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

"1. My God, who could have imagined, by any light of nature, that it was one of Thy attributes to lower Thyself, and to work out Thy purposes by Thy own humiliation and suffering? Thou hadst lived from eternity in ineffable blessedness. My God, I might have understood as much as this, viz. that, when Thou didst begin to create and surround Thyself with a world of creatures, that these attributes would show themselves in Thee which before had no exercise. Thou couldest not show Thy power when there was nothing whatever to exercise it. Then too, Thou didst begin to show thy wonderful and tender providence, Thy faithfulness, Thy solicitous care for those whom Thou hadst created. But who could have fancied that Thy creation of the universe implied and involved in it Thy humiliation? O my great God, Thou hast humbled Thyself, Thou hast stooped to take our flesh and blood, and hast been lifted up upon the tree! I praise and glorify Thee tenfold the more, because Thou hast shown Thy power by means of Thy suffering, than hadst Thou carried on Thy work without it. It is worthy of Thy infinitude thus to surpass and transcend all our thoughts.

2. O my Lord Jesu, I believe, and by Thy grace will ever believe and hold, and I know that it is true, and will be true to the end of the world, that nothing great is done without suffering, without humiliation, and that all things are possible by means of it. I believe, O my God, that poverty is better than riches, pain better than pleasure, obscurity and contempt than name, and ignominy and reproach than honour. My Lord, I do not ask Thee to bring these trials on me, for I know not if I could face them; but at least, O Lord, whether I be in prosperity or adversity, I will believe that it is as I have said. I will never have faith in riches, rank, power, or reputation. I will never set my heart on worldly success or on worldly advantages. I will never wish for what men call the prizes of life. I will ever, with Thy grace, make much of those who are despised or neglected, honour the poor, revere the suffering, and admire and venerate Thy saints and confessors, and take my part with them in spite of the world.

3. And lastly, O my dear Lord, though I am so very weak that I am not fit to ask Thee for suffering as a gift, and have not strength to do so, at least I will beg of Thee grace to meet suffering well, when Thou in Thy love and wisdom dost bring it upon me. Let me bear pain, reproach, disappointment, slander, anxiety, suspense, as Thou wouldest have me, O my Jesu, and as Thou by Thy own suffering hast taught me, when it comes. And I promise too, with Thy grace, that I will never set myself up, never seek pre-eminence, never court any great thing of the world, never prefer myself to others. I wish to bear insult meekly, and to return good for evil. I wish to humble myself in all things, and to be silent when I am ill-used, and to be patient when sorrow or pain is prolonged, and all for the love of Thee, and Thy Cross, knowing that in this way I shall gain the promise both of this life and of the next.

Prayer intention....
over at Musings of a Catholic Convert. Prayers for all those considering the road home are always important.
The Feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs
is today. There is information on them here. and here.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Close encounters
of the P.O.D. kind....

Last night was the bi-weekly meeting of the Secular Oratory in Pittsburgh. After the prayers and talks were over, but before recreation, Fr. Bryan, who is the Father Prefect, showed us one of the more precious things in the Pittsburgh Oratory- a first-class relic of the Venerable ! Now to most people, perhaps even many Catholics nowadays, it wouldn't be much- a small clump of white hair. But to actually see- and touch- hair from that wise and holy head... wow.

Then today, out of the blue, I was given a rosary bracelet that had been blessed by the Holy Father, by a priest who is studying in Rome and is heading back there next week. (Prayers for his safe travel would be most welcome.)

I just hope this doesn't mean that I'm going to be hit with a lot of temptations and difficulties and I'm being strengthened ahead of time!

September 25, 1843
was not an easy day in the life of Venerable John Henry Newman. It was the anniversary of the dedication of the Anglican church building in the village of Littlemore- a church which he had raised the money to build. His beloved, now deceased, mother had laid the cornerstone, and there was a memorial plaque reading "Sacred to the memory of Jemima Newman" featured prominently on one wall.
He himself noted the day down:
" September 25.—Littlemore commemoration; Pusey administered sacrament; H. W. came; I preached No. 604, my last sermon....."
And as a biographer later put it:
"On September 25 he preached at Littlemore his sermon on the Parting of Friends....He told in that sermon, clearly for those who understood, how he himself had found the Church of his birth and of his early affections wanting; how he was torn asunder between the claims of those he must leave behind him and those who would follow him; that he could speak to his friends no more from that pulpit, but could only commit them to God and bid them strive to do His will. His voice broke (so the tradition runs) and his words were interrupted by the sobs of his hearers as he said his last words of farewell." - Wilfrid Ward, Life of Cardinal Newman, Volumes 1 and 2

The sermon is here :
"The Parting of Friends"
The final paragraph always moves me the most...

"And, O my brethren, O kind and affectionate hearts, O loving friends, should you know any one whose lot it has been, by writing or by word of mouth, in some degree to help you thus to act; if he has ever told you what you knew about yourselves, or what you did not know; has read to you your wants or feelings, and comforted you by the very reading; has made you feel that there was a higher life than this daily one, and a brighter world than that you see; or encouraged you, or sobered you, or opened a way to the inquiring, or soothed the perplexed; if what he has said or done has ever made you take interest in him, and feel well inclined towards him; remember such a one in time to come, though you hear him not, and pray for him, that in all things he may know God's will, and at all times he may be ready to fulfil it. "

It was an end- and it would be two more years before he would come to a new beginning. Yet that beginning would come.
Great post
by a Catholic in Korea on how real Buddhism is not what many in the West think it is.
The Feast of Blessed Herman Contractus
is today. There is information on him here.

Here is his most famous composition:

Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae,
Vita dulcedo et spes nostra salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes,
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eja ergo advocata nostra,
illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.
Et Jesum benedictum fructum ventris tui
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria.

A note: the next time you pray this, either in the original Latin or in English ("Hail, Holy Queen...), remember that if the author were conceived today, it's probable his parents would be pressured to kill him before his birth.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

The archives are working again...
Sorry if I bothered anyone !
In honor of today's Feast...
a bit of verse....
The Pilgrim Queen
(A Song.)

by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

" There sat a Lady
all on the ground,
Rays of the morning
circled her round,
Save thee, and hail to thee,
Gracious and Fair,
In the chill twilight
what wouldst thou there?

'Here I sit desolate,'
sweetly said she,
'Though I'm a queen,
and my name is Marie:
Robbers have rifled
my garden and store,
Foes they have stolen
my Heir from my bower.'

'They said they could keep Him
far better than I,
In a palace all His,
planted deep and raised high.
'Twas a palace of ice,
hard and cold as were they,
And when summer came,
it all melted away.'

'Next would they barter Him,
Him the Supreme,
For the spice of the desert,
and gold of the stream;
And me they bid wander
in weeds and alone,
In this green merry land
which once was my own.'

I look'd on that Lady,
and out from her eyes
Came the deep glowing blue
of Italy's skies;
And she raised up her head
and she smiled, as a Queen
On the day of her crowning,
so bland and serene.

'A moment,' she said,
'and the dead shall revive;
The giants are failing,
the Saints are alive;
I am coming to rescue
my home and my reign,
And Peter and Philip
are close in my train.' "

The Oratory.

my archives are giving me problems. Specifically, the ones for 8/31/03 -9/06/03 and 9/21/03-9/27/03 are not working. I tried republishing the blog, and it was no help. What gives ?
Excellent article...
on why allowing 'marriages' between same-sex 'partners' or multiple 'partners' would have consequences which many of the people pushing it, let alone the rest of us, would find repugnant. (WARNING: ARTICLE TALKS FRANKLY ABOUT SEXUALLY DEVIANT PRACTICES)

Link courtesy of The Mighty Barrister.

The Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham
is today. There is information on it here. Prayers for the return of Mary's Dowry, England, to the Faith would be especially appropriate. There is a link to the shrine website here.
The original shrine was, of course, destroyed by Henry VIII's henchmen. The following Elizabethan-era ballad was written to mourn the loss of this great place of pilgrimage. Tradtionally, it was ascribed to St. Philip Howard, but the authorship is not certain.

A Lament for Our Lady's Shrine at Walsingham

"In the wrackes of Walsingam
Whom should I chuse
But the Queene of Walsingam
To be guide to my muse?

Then thou Prince of Walsingam
Grant me to frame
Bitter plaintes to rewe thy wronge
Bitter wo for thy name.

Bitter was it oh to see
The seely sheepe
Murdered by the raveninge wolves
While the sheephards did sleep.

Bitter was it oh to vewe
The sacred vyne
While the gardiners plaied all close
Rooted up by the swine.

Bitter, bitter oh to behould
The grasse to growe
Where the walls of Walsingam
So stately did shewe.

Such were the works of Walsingam
While shee did stand
Such are the wrackes as now do shewe
Of that so holy land.

Levell levell with the ground
The towres doe lye
Which with their golden, glitteringe tops
Pearsed once to the skye.

Where weare gates no gates are nowe,
The waies unknowen,
Where the press of peares did passe
While her fame far was blowen.

Oules do scrike where the sweetest himnes
Lately weer songe,
Toades and serpents hold their dennes
Wher the palmers did thronge.

Weepe, weepe O Walsingam,
Whose dayes are nightes,
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
Holy deeds to dispites.

Sinne is wher our Ladie sate,
Heaven turned is to hell,
Satham sittes wher our Lord did swaye,
Walsingam, oh farewell ! "

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

From An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

" Let them (ed. critics of Catholicism) consider, that if they can criticize history, the facts of history certainly can retort upon them. It might, I grant, be clearer on this great subject than it is. This is no great concession. History is not a creed or a catechism, it gives lessons rather than rules; still no one can mistake its general teaching in this matter, whether he accept it or stumble at it. Bold outlines and broad masses of colour rise out of the records of the past. They may be dim, they may be incomplete; but they are definite. And this one thing at least is certain; whatever history teaches, whatever it omits, whatever it exaggerates or extenuates, whatever it says and unsays, at least the Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth, it is this.

And Protestantism has ever felt it so. I do not mean that every writer on the Protestant side has felt it; for it was the fashion at first, at least as a rhetorical argument against Rome, to appeal to past ages, or to some of them; but Protestantism, as a whole, feels it, and has felt it. This is shown in the determination already referred to of dispensing with historical Christianity altogether, and of forming a Christianity from the Bible alone: men never would have put it aside, unless they had despaired of it. It is shown by the long neglect of ecclesiastical history in England, which prevails even in the English Church. Our popular religion scarcely recognizes the fact of the twelve long ages which lie between the Councils of Nicaea and Trent, except as affording one or two passages to illustrate its wild interpretations of certain prophesies of St. Paul and St. John. It is melancholy to say it, but the chief, perhaps the only English writer who has any claim to be considered an ecclesiastical historian, is the unbeliever Gibbon. To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant. "

Fr. Jim Tucker
blogged a quote from the Sondheim musical "Pacific Overtures", which is about the contact of Japan with the West after centuries of isolation . (Direct link not working: scrolling may be necessary) While I've never seen it staged, a friend lent me the soundtrack and I thought a lot of it was wickedly funny. I am particularly fond of the song "Please Hello" in which admirals from various Western nations arrive , each singing in a distinctive way, with my favorite being the British, who sings in a Gilbert and Sullivan-esque patter style. :

Hello, I come with letters from Her Majesty Victoria
Who, learning how you're trading now, sang "Hallelujah, Gloria!"
And sent me to convey to you her positive euphoria
As well as little gifts from Britain's various emporia.
(offers a tin of tea to Abe)


For drink.

I see.
I thank you —

I think
Her letters do contain a few proposals to your Emperor
Which if, of course, he won't endorse, will put in her in a temper or,
More happily, should he agree, will serve to keep her placid, or
At least till I am followed by a permanent ambassador.

A treaty port and, from the court, a permanent ambassador.
A treaty port and, from the court, a permanent ambassador.
A treaty port and, from the court, a permanent ambassador
And more.

Her Majesty considers the arrangements to be tentative
Until we ship a proper diplomatic representative.
We don't foresee that you will be the least bit argumentative,
So please ignore the man-of-war we brought as a preventative.


Yes, please ignore the man-of-war
That's anchored rather near the shore,
It's nothing but a metaphor
That acts as a preventative.


All clear?
Just so.
Sign here....."

Series of great posts
on love and sin, over at Disputations. (Direct link not working:scrolling may be necessary.) My favorite quote? " The suggestion has been made that people who say, "Love the sinner but hate the sin," are generally hypocrites who don't, in fact, love the sinner.That may well be true. Loving the saint is hard enough -- at least if the saint is still alive, and especially if he lives with you -- "

There's a nice interview over at GreenBooks...
with Bill Amend, who draws the Foxtrot cartoon strip. It includes several Tolkien-themed strips as illustrations.
The Feast of St. Pio of Pietrelcina
is today. There is information on him here.

While he is undoubtedly an important saint, I'm afraid his canonization process gave me bouts of cause envy.Thinking "Now why aren't there Venerable Newman holy cards in every pamphlet rack and devotional pictures of him in every Catholic bookstore?" -that kind of thing. Plus I've occasionally had to correct folks who complimented me on "that great Padre Pio medal" when what I wear is, of course, a medal of St. Philip Neri .

Monday, September 22, 2003

Jeff Miller ...
is brilliant. Check out Spirits Illustrated and Prayboy plus !

On this day, 164 years ago...
Venerable John Henry Newman wrote a letter to a friend, in which he admitted that a blow had been given to his Anglican foundations....


Oriel College: September 22, 1839.

"Since I wrote to you, I have had the first real hit from Romanism which has happened to me. R. W., who has been passing through, directed my attention to Dr. Wiseman's article in the new 'Dublin.' (ed. This was an article on the Donatist schism, in which Wiseman quoted St. Augustine of Hippo's famous line Securus judicat orbis terrarum, which roughly translates to 'in the secure judgement of the whole world') I must confess it has given me a stomach-ache. You see the whole history of the Monophysites has been a sort of alterative. And now comes this dose at the end of it. It does certainly come upon one that we are not at the bottom of things. At this moment we have sprung a leak; and the worst of it is that those sharp fellows, Ward, Stanley, and Co., will not let one go to sleep upon it. Curavimus Babylonem et non est curata was an awkward omen. I have not said so much to anyone.

I seriously think this a most uncomfortable article on every account, though of course it is ex parte ... I think I shall get Keble to answer it. As to Pusey, I am curious to see how it works with him.

And now, carissime, good-bye. It is no laughing matter. I will not blink the question, so be it; but you don't suppose I am a madcap to take up notions suddenly—only there is an uncomfortable vista opened which was closed before. I am writing upon my first feelings. "

That "uncomfortable vista" was to open out even more for him, and Keble and Pusey were not able to give him the answers he needed .....
Russell Shaw nails it ...
with this fine fisking of a clueless article.
Haunting post..
of an old ballad over at El Camino Real
Now what is this about ?

Officials Say Cloistered Nuns Are Security Risks :Immigration Service Says Sisters Don't Qualify For Visas

The sentence that stuck out to me ? "Both Korean sisters may be deported because the U.S. Immigration Service said they don't qualify for religious worker visas. " Why don't they qualify ? Is it because the visas are for religious workers and the work of cloistered contemplatives, prayer, isn't considered 'real work' ? I've noticed an animus against contemplatives even among certain Catholics ("Why aren't they out doing something ?") and I have a sneaking suspicion that this bias might be a factor. I pray that I am wrong.

Link courtesy of Annunciations
The August/September issue of First Things
is online. I would particularly recommend reading "Fighting the Noonday Devil" by R.R. Reno.

Gala Cormarë !


Happy birthday to Bilbo Baggins the Ring-finder and Frodo Baggins the Ringbearer ! My good wishes go to both of you beyond the Circles of this world.....

And to all the inhabitants of the Reunited Kingdom, I greet you with joy on this day of celebration established by the great King Elessar Telcontar to honor the Ringbearers. Gala Cormarë !

(Note to the true geeks out there- I know, I know, I'm ignoring the calendar difference.....)
The Feast of St. Maurice, Martyr
is today. There is information on him here.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

From "The Religion of the Pharisee, The Religion of Mankind"
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

"Now this age is as removed in distance, as in character, from that of the Greek philosopher; yet who will say that the religion which it acts upon is very different from the religion of the heathen? Of course I understand well, that it might know, and that it will say, a great many things foreign and contrary to heathenism. I am well aware that the theology of this age is very different from what it was two thousand years ago. I know men profess a great deal, and boast that they are Christians, and speak of Christianity as being a religion of the heart; but, when we put aside words and professions, and try to discover what their religion is, we shall find, I fear, that the great mass of men in fact get rid of all religion that is inward; that they lay no stress on acts of faith, hope, and charity, on simplicity of intention, purity of motive, or mortification of the thoughts; that they confine themselves to two or three virtues, superficially practised; that they know not the words contrition, penance, and pardon; and that they think and argue that, after all, if a man does his duty in the world, according to his vocation, he cannot fail to go to heaven, however little he may do besides, nay, however much, in other matters, he may do that is undeniably unlawful. Thus a soldier's duty is loyalty, obedience, and valour, and he may let other matters take their chance; a trader's duty is honesty; an artisan's duty is industry and contentment; of a gentleman are required veracity, courteousness, and self-respect; of a public man, high-principled ambition; of a woman, the domestic virtues; of a minister of religion, decorum, benevolence, and some activity. Now, all these are instances of mere Pharisaical excellence; because there is no apprehension of Almighty God, no insight into His claims on us, no sense of the creature's shortcomings, no self-condemnation, confession, and deprecation, nothing of those deep and sacred feelings which ever characterize the religion of a Christian, and more and more, not less and less, as he mounts up from mere ordinary obedience to the perfection of a saint.

And such, I say, is the religion of the natural man in every age and place;—often very beautiful on the surface, but worthless in God's sight; good, as far as it goes, but worthless and hopeless, because it does not go further, because it is based on self-sufficiency, and results in self-satisfaction. I grant, it may be beautiful to look at, as in the instance of the young ruler whom our Lord looked at and loved, yet sent away sad; it may have all the delicacy, the amiableness, the tenderness, the religious sentiment, the kindness, which is actually seen in many a father of a family, many a mother, many a daughter, in the length and breadth of these kingdoms, in a refined and polished age like this; but still it is rejected by the heart-searching God, because all such persons walk by their own light, not by the True Light of men, because self is their supreme teacher, and because they pace round and round in the small circle of their own thoughts and of their own judgments, careless to know what God says to them, and fearless of being condemned by Him, if only they stand approved in their own sight. And thus they incur the force of those terrible words, spoken not to a Jewish Ruler, nor to a heathen philosopher, but to a fallen Christian community, to the Christian Pharisees of Laodicea,—'Because thou sayest I am rich, and made wealthy, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; I counsel thee to buy of Me gold fire-tried, that thou mayest be made rich, and be clothed in white garments, that thy shame may not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise; be zealous, therefore, and do penance.' "

Sermons Preached on Various Occasions
From The Letters of J.R. R. Tolkien, September, 1963
to Mrs. Eileen Elgar:

"We only meet exceptional hobbits in close companionship-those who had a grace or gift: a vision of beauty, and a reverence for things nobler than themselves, at war with their rustic self-satisfaction. Imagine Sam without his education by Bilbo and his fascination with things Elvish ! Not difficult. The Cotton family and the Gaffer, when the 'Travellers' return are a sufficent glimpse. "
Music at the 10:00 am Mass:
Processional Hymn: "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise"
Offertory: "Adoro Te Devote" - Charles Gounod (1818-1893)
Communion: "Here, O My Lord" - Warren Swenson (1937- )
Recessional Hymn: "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"
If it were not Sunday...
the feast of St. Matthew the Apostle would be today. There is information on him here. A blessed feast day for all those who have St. Matthew as a special patron, most particularly to Matt, the Oratory's organist and choir director.