Saturday, October 04, 2003

Just because ....
I'm posting a link from the great Biblical Evidence for Catholicism website: Mr. Armstrong's fine page of John Henry Cardinal Newman: Photograph and Portrait Page I, like Fr. Ker, am fond of the sketch by Lady Coleridge- I find the eyes particularly haunting.
I also find one of the quotes very revealing, not so much about the Venerable himself as about the kind of prejudice he and other Catholics in the England of his time had to put up with.

" A man who visited Newman in 1875 describes him:

'. . . very kindly, with a sort of grave sweet simplicity which coming from so old a man, has in it something inexpressibly touching . . . He looks very aged, hair more white than silvery, body stooped, a very large and prominent nose and large chin, brow which seems good, though one can't see it for the tangled hair falling over it; an air of melancholy, as of one who has passed through terrible struggles, yet of serenity, as of one who had found peace. Not a priest in his manner - still an Englishman more than a Roman Catholic. ' (ed. my emphasis) "

"Still an Englishman more than a Roman Catholic" if one couldn't be both. As if the Venerable wasn't both. And this was from a friendly source.
Prayers needed....
There is a bill that has been introduced to force Catholic hospitals in New York State to provide abortifacient drugs in certain circumstances. God help us all.

Link courtesy of De Fidei Oboedientia.

For Saturday
I posted this before, but some of the special characters got messed up when Blogger updated. So, once again, here is the Hail Mary... in Sindarin Elvish.

Ai Meri, meleth-phant,
Hîr ah-le; daethannen im bessath phain
a daethannen iaf e-huvech - Iesus.
Aer Meri, Eru-odhril,
hero ammen raegdain
sí a ned lú e-gurthem.


Thanks to Ryszard Derdzinski for doing this translation, and to the Gwaith-i-Phethdain website for hosting it.

Excellent article
by Leonie Caldecott over at Touchstone Magazine: Paradise Denied: Philip Pullman and the Use and Abuses of Enchantment

In case anyone is wondering...
the Mass last night was lovely, and the music went well. I was particularly impressed by the men of our choir, who did a good bit of chant by themselves.
The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Founder,
is today. There is information on him here. A blessed feast day to all the Franciscans out there, and to all who have the Poverello as a special patron !

Friday, October 03, 2003

If anyone is in the Pittsburgh area...
my choir is going to be singing for the Solemn High Mass for the Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face over at St. Boniface- the home of the local Tridentine Mass. Prayers for the musicians and for all who will be at the Mass are most welcome.
For Friday

"O God, be merciful to me, a sinner." Luke xviii. 13.

"These words set before us what may be called the characteristic mark of the Christian Religion, as contrasted with the various forms of worship and schools of belief, which in early or in later times have spread over the earth. They are a confession of sin and a prayer for mercy. Not indeed that the notion of transgression and of forgiveness was introduced by Christianity, and is unknown beyond its pale; on the contrary, most observable it is, the symbols of guilt and pollution, and rites of deprecation and expiation, are more or less common to them all; but what is peculiar to our divine faith, as to Judaism before it, is this, that confession of sin enters into the idea of its highest saintliness, and that its pattern worshippers and the very heroes of its history are only, and can only be, and cherish in their hearts the everlasting memory that they are, and carry with them into heaven the rapturous avowal of their being, redeemed, restored transgressors. Such an avowal is not simply wrung from the lips of the neophyte, or of the lapsed; it is not the cry of the common run of men alone, who are buffeting with the surge of temptation in the wide world; it is the hymn of saints, it is the triumphant ode sounding from the heavenly harps of the Blessed before the Throne, who sing to their Divine Redeemer, 'Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God in Thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.'

And what is to the Saints above a theme of never-ending thankfulness, is, while they are yet on earth, the matter of their perpetual humiliation. Whatever be their advance in the spiritual life, they never rise from their knees, they never cease to beat their breasts, as if sin could possibly be strange to them while they were in the flesh. Even our Lord Himself, the very Son of God in human nature, and infinitely separate from sin,—even His Immaculate Mother, encompassed by His grace from the first beginnings of her existence, and without any part of the original stain,—even they, as descended from Adam, were subjected at least to death, the direct, emphatic punishment of sin. And much more, even the most favoured of that glorious company, whom He has washed clean in His Blood; they never forget what they were by birth; they confess, one and all, that they are children of Adam, and of the same nature as their brethren, and compassed with infirmities while in the flesh, whatever may be the grace given them and their own improvement of it. Others may look up to them, but they ever look up to God; others may speak of their merits, but they only speak of their defects. The young and unspotted, the aged and most mature, he who has sinned least, he who has repented most, the fresh innocent brow, and the hoary head, they unite in this one litany, 'O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.' So it was with St. Aloysius; so, on the other hand, was it with St. Ignatius; so was it with St. Rose, the youngest of the saints, who, as a child, submitted her tender frame to the most amazing penances; so was it with St. Philip Neri, one of the most aged, who, when some one praised him, cried out, 'Begone! I am a devil, and not a saint;' and when going to communicate, would protest before his Lord, that he 'was good for nothing, but to do evil.' Such utter self-prostration, I say, is the very badge and token of the servant of Christ;—and this indeed is conveyed in His own words, when He says, 'I am not come to call the just, but sinners;' and it is solemnly recognized and inculcated by Him, in the words which follow the text, 'Every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.' "- Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O. , "The Religion of the Pharisee, The Religion of Mankind", Sermons Preached on Various Occasions
Laita Eru !
I am employed again ! The job starts on Monday. The blogging may be light for a while until I get settled in. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me !

Thursday, October 02, 2003

For Thursday

"We believe that our Lord's human Body and Blood are actually present in the Host and in the Chalice. The explicitness of His own words has forbidden Catholics, in every age, to regard that Presence as conditioned in any way by the faith of the communicant or the worshipper. To say, or to imply, that the change effected by the words of consecration is only a change of significance is to rob our Lord's own words of their plain force. Yet it is a matter of experience that no change perceptible to the senses, whether of size, shape, colour, or texture is observable in the Sacred Elements. Are we to suppose, then, that our senses here delude us? We cannot willingly associate such deception with any work of God. It follows, then, that the accidents (the philosophical description of all that falls within the province of our senses) really remain unchanged. And from that it follows that the substance in which those accidents inhere must have been the thing changed; this is the last stronghold of reality. Transubstantiation is the only doctrine which will secure fidelity to tradition on one side, and the evidence of our senses on the other. The Mass, in which this momentous change is effected, is held by Catholics to be a true Sacrifice--the renewal of that Sacrifice made once for all on Calvary. "- Msgr. Ronald Knox, The Belief of Catholics
Midwest Conservative Journal
fisks the Usual Article by a 'concerned Anglican laywoman" .
The Feast of the Guardian Angels
is today. There is information on them here.

Guardian Angel
by Venerable John Henry Newman. C.O.

"My oldest friend, mine from the hour
When first I drew my breath;
My faithful friend, that shall be mine,
Unfailing, till my death;

Thou hast been ever at my side;
My Maker to thy trust
Consign'd my soul, what time He framed
The infant child of dust.

No beating heart in holy prayer,
No faith, inform'd aright,
Gave me to Joseph's tutelage,
Or Michael's conquering might.

Nor patron Saint, nor Mary's love,
The dearest and the best,
Has known my being, as thou hast known,
And blest, as thou hast blest.

Thou wast my sponsor at the font;
And thou, each budding year,
Didst whisper elements of truth
Into my childish ear.

And when, ere boyhood yet was gone,
My rebel spirit fell,
Ah! thou didst see, and shudder too,
Yet bear each deed of Hell.

And then in turn, when judgments came,
And scared me back again,
Thy quick soft breath was near to soothe
And hallow every pain.

Oh! who of all thy toils and cares
Can tell the tale complete,
To place me under Mary's smile,
And Peter's royal feet!

And thou wilt hang about my bed,
When life is ebbing low;
Of doubt, impatience, and of gloom,
The jealous sleepless foe.

Mine, when I stand before the Judge;
And mine, if spared to stay
Within the golden furnace, till
My sin is burn'd away.

And mine, O Brother of my soul,
When my release shall come;
Thy gentle arms shall lift me then,
Thy wings shall waft me home. "

The Oratory.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

From "Mysteries of Nature and Grace"
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

"If the Almighty had no beginning He must have lived a whole eternity by Himself. What an awful thought! for us, our happiness lies in looking up to some object, or pursuing some end; we, poor mortal men, cannot understand a prolonged rest, except as a sort of sloth and self-forgetfulness; we are wearied if we meditate for one short hour; what then is meant when it is said, that He, the Great God, passed infinite ages by Himself? What was the end of His being? He was His own end; how incomprehensible! And since He lived a whole eternity by Himself, He might, had He so willed, never have created anything; and then from eternity to eternity there would have been none but He, none to witness Him, none to contemplate Him, none to adore and praise Him. How oppressive to think of! that there should have been no space, no time, no succession, no variation, no progression, no scope, no termination. One Infinite Being from first to last, and nothing else! And why He? Which is the less painful to our imagination, the idea of only one Being in existence, or of nothing at all? O my brethren, here is mystery without mitigation, without relief! how severe and frightful! The mysteries of Revelation, the Catholic dogmas, inconceivable as they are, are most gracious, most loving, laden with mercy and consolation to us, not only sublime, but touching and winning;—such is the doctrine that God became man. Incomprehensible it is, and we can but adore, when we hear that the Almighty Being, of whom I have been speaking, 'who inhabiteth eternity,' has taken flesh and blood of a Virgin's veins, lain in a Virgin's womb, been suckled at a Virgin's breast, been obedient to human parents,worked at a humble trade, been despised by His own, been buffeted and scourged by His creatures, been nailed hand and foot to a Cross, and has died a malefactor's death; and that now, under the form of Bread, He should lie upon our Altars, and suffer Himself to be hidden in a small tabernacle!

Most incomprehensible, but still, while the thought overwhelms our imagination, it also overpowers our heart; it is the most subduing, affecting, piercing thought which can be pictured to us. It thrills through us, and draws our tears, and abases us, and melts us into love and affection, when we dwell upon it. O most tender and compassionate Lord! You see, He puts out of our sight that mysteriousness of His, which is only awful and terrible; He insists not on His past eternity; He would not scare and trouble His poor children, when at length He speaks to them; no, He does but surround Himself with His own infinite bountifulness and compassion; He bids His Church tell us only of His mysterious condescension. Still our reason, prying, curious reason, searches out for us those prior and more austere mysteries, which are attached to His Being, and He suffers us to find them out. He suffers us, for He knows that that same reason, though it recoils from them, must put up with them; He knows that they will be felt by it to be clear, inevitable truths, appalling as they are. He suffers it to discover them, in order that, both by the parallel and by the contrast between what reason infers and what the Church reveals, we may be drawn on from the awful discoveries of the one to the gracious announcements of the other; and in order, too, that the rejection of Revelation may be its own punishment, and that they who stumble at the Catholic mysteries may be dashed back upon the adamantine rocks which base the throne of the Everlasting, and may wrestle with the stern conclusions of reason, since they refuse the bright consolations of faith."

Discourses to Mixed Congregations
More proof...
that Western society is caving in to sheer evil. .

Link courtesy of Times Against Humanity

There's no indication that he repented....
but let's hope that he did and pray for the repose of his soul.
Link courtesy of Mark Shea.

The Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
is today. There is information on her here. Prayers for all the Carmelites out there would be great, and prayers for my friend Sr. Claire Benedicta of the Cross, O.C.D., would be especially welcome. Happy feast day to Flos Carmeli, Kathy the Carmelite, and any other Carmelite bloggers I may have missed !

If any readers are in the Pittsburgh area, the local Latin Mass Community over at St. Boniface is having a Triduum of Solemn High Masses in honor of St. Therese, whose feast is October 3 on the Tridentine calendar. I mention it because the Oratory's organist/choir director is in charge of the music, and my choir will be singing at the Mass on Friday evening at 7 pm.

A quote for the feast:
"Once when shown a photograph of herself Teresa had said with a smile, 'Yes, that's the envelope. When will anyone see the letter inside? I should like to see that letter.'

Now at last she knew. That letter, inspired, worked over, and finished off by her Lord, was before Almighty God, and it seems that it was his will that its message should be at once spread throughout the face of the earth; the young warrior, victor over herself, was given the whole world in which to enlarge her conquests. From her brown scapular as from an apron she scattered roses like rain-not roses of paper or plaster or china or marble, but living ones, white or blood-red, roses of suffering and sacrifice and innocence (any self-respecting artist would hesitate at representing them); and in her hand she bore a banner with two devices, the smiling face of the Child and the agonized face of the Crucified. She did not call for a mawkish veneration, she did not put forward a soft and feeble example: everything was strong; she was of the stock of Catherine of Siena and Joan of Arc, and her 'little way' was an heroic way-nothing less than plenary love of God and total surrender to him down to the least thoughts and actions; to become as a little child is to put oneself through the mill.

Imitation flowers and sham simplicity, products of an emotionalism that becomes sheer sentimentality, ought to be stripped from the devotion accorded to one from whom God withheld sensible consolation for almost the whole of her life. The figure of the 'shower of roses' has served its turn, and served it well in winning over the many who have a taste for the romantical and pretty. But these 'roses' are in fact graces, and grace is not carried easily: for complete fruition it requires a martyrdom of the soul. "-
From The Secret of the Little Flower by Henri Ghéon

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Prayers are needed
for the health of the Holy Father.

"It is with these thoughts then, my Brethren, with these feelings of solemn expectation, of joyful confidence, that we now come before our God, and pray Him to have mercy on His chosen Servant, His own Vicar, in this hour of trial. We come to Him, like the prophet Daniel, in humiliation for our own sins and the sins of our kings, our princes, our fathers, and our people, in all parts of the Church; and therefore we say the Miserere and the Litany of the Saints as in a time of fast. And we come before Him in the bright and glad spirit of soldiers who know they are under the leading of an Invincible King, and wait with beating hearts to see what He is about to do; and therefore it is that we adorn our sanctuary, bringing out our hangings and multiplying our lights, as on a day of festival. We know well we are on the winning side, and that the prayers of the poor, the weak, and the despised, can do more, when offered in a true spirit, than all the wisdom and all the resources of the world. " - Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O. , "The Pope and the Revolution", Sermons Preached on Various Occasions
Now this little cartoon ...
over at Dork Tower made me snicker.
Here's what it's talking about.

The Feast of St.Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
is today. There is information on him here. I admit, I've always liked St, Jerome- the fact that a man of his natural cantankerousness could become a saint means there's hope for me yet !
Here's a verse, courtesy of Mark Shea, on the saint of the day....


by Phyllis McGinley

"God’s angry man, His crotchety scholar
Was Saint Jerome,
The great name-caller
Who cared not a dime
For the laws of Libel
And in his spare time
Translated the Bible.
Quick to disparage
All joys but learning
Jerome thought marriage
Better than burning;
But didn’t like woman’s
Painted cheeks;
Didn’t like Romans,
Didn’t like Greeks,
Hated Pagans
For their Pagan ways,
Yet doted on Cicero all of his days.
A born reformer, cross and gifted,
He scolded mankind
Sterner than Swift did;
Worked to save
The world from the heathen;
Fled to a cave
For peace to breathe in,
Promptly wherewith
For miles around
He filled the air with
Fury and sound.
In a mighty prose
For Almighty ends,
He thrust at his foes,
Quarreled with his friends,
And served his Master,
Though with complaint.
He wasn’t a plaster sort of a saint.
But he swelled men’s minds
With a Christian leaven.
It takes all kinds
to make a heaven. "

Monday, September 29, 2003

The good people over at
have seen fit to ask me a few questions.

Quenta Narwen Questions
Umm.. sorry to be picky, but the name of the blog is Quenta Nârwenion , as a parallel to the Quenta Silmarillion. I understand that the circumflex might be a problem, but including the "ion" shouldn't be.

1) Personally, I’m a huge fan of Tolkien (as are several other contributors to this blog), so naturally my first question comes from this position. When did you first read a Tolkien book, or basically, how were you introduced to Tolkien? As a side note, this post, Everything I need to know I learned from Tolkien, is great!
Side note on your side note: Thanks !
I first read The Hobbit at the age of eight. I believe my interest was piqued by that dreadful Rankin-Bass monstrosity of an 'adaptation', which had been broadcast on TV. (I was eight. I didn't have the kind of aesthetic equipment needed to be properly discriminating.) I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time at the age of ten, and The Silmarillion at twelve. ( I think that timeframe may be why I have a bizarre tendency to associate Silmarillion stories with 80's music. Ah, well.... )
I read The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion at least once a year, and have frequently read The Tolkien Reader, "Smith of Wooton Major", and The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. I have read, but do not yet own, the History of Middle-earth series.

2) I had to ask this question: Your blog classifies you as a “Rat Fan.” Can you explain?
Simple. I am a fan of rats- the domesticated pet ones, that is. While currently ratless due to financial issues, I am very fond of the little furballs and plan to get more when the job search is over. I am also an actual member of The Rat Fan Club, founded by the Ratlady herself, Debbie Ducommun. Actually, my online name, Nârwen, is Sindarin Elvish for "rat-maiden" !

3) I read your post 100 things about me and enjoyed it. But it didn’t discuss what motivates an introvert to blog (besides a writing background). Would you like to let us in on how blogging fits into your view of life?
Well, blogging lets me share a lot of the great things I've come across with other people. It gives me a forum in which to request prayers as well. Perhaps the biggest ulterior motive is that it allows me to attempt to acquaint people with the Oratorian charism, our founder and my favorite Cause.

4) Can you explain what a Secular Oratorian is? I couldn’t find it in your blog (FYI- MovableType features a Search function).
Secular Oratorians are members of the laity who are trying to live the charism of the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri . We are assisted in this, and in turn try to assist, the Fathers and Brothers of the said Congregation of the Oratory. To understand the Oratorian charism, (to a certain, limited extent, of course ! ) I would recommend checking out these posts on my sidebar: "St. Philip Neri: Parts One through Twelve", "The Pittsburgh Oratory", "Some Oratorian information (with emphasis on the official stuff) " , "And in Oratory News (includes the Litany of St. Philip Neri) " and "IT'S TOMMOROW (St. Philip Neri links)"
BTW, the Professor himself had an Oratorian connection. After his widowed mother had converted to Catholicism and brought her sons into the Church, she got to know Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan, C.O., of the Birmingham Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. When she was diagnosed with diabetes (not a treatable condition at the turn of the 20th century) she made Fr. Morgan the guardian of her sons, since she could not trust her relatives, many of whom were hostile to the Faith, to raise her boys as Catholics. She died, after a lapse into a coma, when Tolkien was twelve. Fr. Morgan then took responsibility for her sons, and did his best to raise them- not an easy task for anybody, certainly not easy for a parish priest with many other duties, though he did have his community to support him. How well Fr. Morgan did may be judged by these two quotes written by the Professor late in his own life.
"And again, I remember after the death of Fr. Francis my 'second father' (at 77, in 1935), saying to C.S. Lewis, ' I feel like a lost survivor in a new alien world after the real world has passed away.' "
"In 1904 we (Hilary (ed. Tolkien's brother) & I) had the sudden miraculous experience of Fr. Francis' love and care and humour..."

5) Who would you like to see as the next Pope (what were you expecting)?
Well, he was only just made a Cardinal, but I like what I've read and heard about George Pell...

I love the intermixing with Tolkien and Middle Earth, by the way and I've also added Quenta Narwen to our links list.

Thank you. But it's Middle-earth, not Middle Earth. (End of 'Nihil Obstat of Arda mode' )
The Mighty Barrister
reposts an important prayer.
A little article
which happens to mention the Professor's first job.
Lane Core
has made some great additions to his blog.
The Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels
is today. There is information on them here , here , and here. Prayers for all those who have these mighty beings as patrons would be most appropriate. A blessed feast day to Fr. Michael of the Pittsburgh Oratory and to Michael of the Pittsburgh Secular Oratory !

St. Michael
(A Hymn.)
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

Thou champion high
Of Heaven's imperial Bride,
For ever waiting on her eye,
Before her onward path, and at her side,
In war her guard secure, by night her ready guide!

To thee was given,
When those false angels rose
Against the Majesty of Heaven,
To hurl them down the steep, and on them close
The prison where they roam in hopeless unrepose.

Thee, Michael, thee,
When sight and breathing fail,
The disembodied soul shall see;
The pardon'd soul with solemn joy shall hail,
When holiest rites are spent, and tears no more avail.

And thou, at last,
When Time itself must die,
Shalt sound that dread and piercing blast,
To wake the dead, and rend the vaulted sky,
And summon all to meet the Omniscient Judge on high.

The Oratory.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

From "Preface to the Third Edition of Lectures on the Prophetical Office of the Church- The Via Media"
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

(ed. This preface is particularly interesting inasmuch as it shows the Venerable, as a Catholic, giving a critique of his own earlier work as an Anglican. )

"When our Lord went up on high, He left His representative behind Him. This was Holy Church, His mystical Body and Bride, a Divine Institution, and the shrine and organ of the Paraclete, who speaks through her till the end comes. She, to use an Anglican poet's words, is 'His very self below,' as far as men on earth are equal to the discharge and fulfilment of high offices, which primarily and supremely are His.

These offices, which specially belong to Him as Mediator, are commonly considered to be three; He is Prophet, Priest, and King; and after His pattern, and in human measure, Holy Church has a triple office too; not the Prophetical alone and in isolation, as these Lectures virtually teach, but three offices, which are indivisible, though diverse, viz. teaching, rule, and sacred ministry. This then is the point on which I shall now insist, the very title of the Lectures I am to criticize suggesting to me how best to criticize them.

I will but say in passing, that I must not in this argument be supposed to forget that the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ, inherits these offices and acts for the Church in them. This is another matter; I am speaking here of the Body of Christ, and the sovereign Pontiff would not be the visible head of that Body, did he not first belong to it. He is not himself the Body of Christ, but the chief part of the Body; I shall have quite opportunities enough in what is to come to show that I duly bear him in mind.

Christianity, then, is at once a philosophy, a political power, and a religious rite: as a religion, it is Holy; as a philosophy, it is Apostolic; as a political power, it is imperial, that is, One and Catholic. As a religion, its special centre of action is pastor and flock; as a philosophy, the Schools; as a rule, the Papacy and its Curia. "
From the homily
Fr. Michael was the celebrant at the 10 am Mass. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that he was made a reference in his homily to... The Lord of the Rings. After a note that the Professor was a devout Catholic and a mention of his Oratorian connections, he made the observation than, unlike many of the great quests of literature, in The Lord of the Rings the goal is not gain, but the casting out of evil. Similarly, as Our Lord states so forcefully in today's Gospel, anything which leads us into sin must be cast out of our lives, now.