Saturday, February 14, 2004

The Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius
is today. There is information on them here. and here. It is also the feast of the Sts. Valentine, who may or may not be the same person. I posted a poem for this day by Venerable Newman last year.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Blogging may be light for a while..
Just got a job, and need to see how everything goes, schedule-wise...Thanks for all the prayers !
The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
is today. There is information on the shrine here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Since the Readings at daily Mass
have been about King Solomon recently, I think the following may be helpful:
"Who was so variously gifted, so inwardly endowed, so laden with external blessings, as Solomon? on whom are lavished, as on him, the titles and the glories of the Eternal Son, God and man? The only aspect of Christ's adorable Person, which his history does not represent, does but bring out to us the peculiarity of his privileges. He does not symbolise Christ's sufferings; he was neither a priest, nor, like David his father, had he been a man of strife and toil and blood. Everything which betokens mortality, everything which savours of the fall, is excluded from our idea of Solomon. He is as if an ideal of perfection; the king of peace, the builder of the temple, the father of a happy people, the heir of an empire, the wonder of all nations; a prince, yet a sage; palace-bred, yet taught in the schools; a student, yet a man of the world; deeply read in human nature, yet learned too in animals and plants. He has the crown without the cross, peace without war, experience without suffering; and all this is not in the mere way of men, or from the general providence of God, but vouchsafed to him from the very hands of his Creator, by a particular designation, and as the result of inspiration. He obtained it when young; and where shall we find anything so touching in the whole of Scripture as the circumstances of his obtaining? who shall accuse him of want of religious fear and true love, whose dawning is so beautiful? When the Almighty appeared to him in a dream on his coming to the throne and said, 'Ask what I shall give thee;' 'O Lord God,' he made answer, 'Thou hast made Thy servant king instead of David my father; and I am but a child, and know not how to go out and come in. And Thy servant is in the midst of the people which Thou hast chosen, an immense people, which cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.' Accordingly, he asked for nothing else but the gift of wisdom to enable him to govern his people well; and as his reward for so excellent a petition, he received, not only the wisdom for which he had asked, but those other gifts for which he had not asked: 'And the Lord said unto Solomon, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, nor riches, nor the lives of thine enemies, but hast asked for thyself wisdom to discern judgment, behold I have done to thee according to thy words, and I have given to thee a wise and understanding heart, so that none has been like thee before thee, nor shall rise after thee. Yea, and the things also, which thou didst not ask, I have given to thee, to wit, riches and glory, so that none has been like to thee among the kings in all days heretofore.'

Rare inauguration to his greatness! the most splendid of monarchs owes nothing to injustice, or to cruelty, or to violence, or to treachery, nothing to human art or to human arm, that he is so powerful, so famous, and so wise; it is a divine gift which endued him within, which clothed him without. What was wanting to his blessedness? seeking God in his youth, growing up year after year in sanctity, fortifying his faith by wisdom, and his obedience by experience, and his aspirations by habit, what shall he not be in the next world, who is so glorious in this? He is a Saint ready made; he is in his youth what others are in their age; he is fit for heaven ere others begin the way heavenward: why should he delay? what lacks he yet? why tarry the wheels of his chariot? why does he remain longer on earth, when he has already won his crown, and may be carried away in a happy youth, and be securely taken into God's keeping, not with the common throng of holy souls, but, like Enoch and Elias, passing his long mysterious ages up on high, in some fit secret paradise till the day of redemption? Alas! he remains on earth to show us that there might be one thing lacking amidst that multitude of graces; to show that though there be in a man all faith, all hope, all love, all wisdom, though there be an exuberance of merits, it is all but a vanity, it is only a woe in the event, if one gift be wanting,—the gift of perseverance! He was in his youth, what others hardly are in age; well were it, had he been in his end, what the feeblest of God's servants is in his beginning!

His great father, whose sanctity had been wrought into him by many a fight with Satan, and who knew how difficult it was to persevere, when his death drew near, as if in prophecy rather than in prayer, had spoken thus of and to his son and his people: 'God said to me, Thou shalt not build a house to My name, because thou art a man of war, and hast shed blood; Solomon, thy son, shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to Me for a son, and I will be to him a father; and I will establish his kingdom even for ever, if he shall persevere to do My precepts and judgments, as at this day. And thou, Solomon, my son, know the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and a willing mind, for if thou shalt forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever.' And then, when he had collected together the precious materials for that house which he himself was not to build, and was resigning the kingdom to his son, 'I know,' he said, 'O my God, that Thou provest hearts, and lovest simplicity, wherefore, have I in the simplicity of my heart and with joy offered to Thee all these things; and Thy people too, which are present here, have I seen with great joy to offer to Thee their gifts. O Lord God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep for ever this will of our hearts, and let this mind remain always for the worship of Thee. And to Solomon also, my son, give a perfect heart, that he may keep Thy commandments, and Thy testimonies, and Thy ceremonies, and do all things, and build the building for the which I have provided the charges.'

Such had been the dim foreboding of the father, fearing perhaps for his son from the very abundance of that son's prosperity. And in truth, it is not good for a man to live in so cloudless a splendour, and under so unchequered a heaven. There is a moral in the history, that he who prefigured the coming Saviour in all His offices but that of suffering, should fall; that the King and the Prophet, who was neither Priest nor Warrior, should come short;-thereby to show that penance is the only sure mother of love. 'They who sow in tears shall reap in exultation;' but Solomon, like the flowers of the field which are so beautiful, yet are cast into the oven, so he too, with all his glory, retained not his comeliness, but withered in his place. He who was wisest became as the most brutish; he who was the most devout was lifted up and fell; he who wrote the Song of Songs became the slave and the prey of vile affections. 'King Solomon loved many strange women, unto them he clave with the most burning love. And when he was now old, his heart was depraved by women, to follow other gods, Astarte, goddess of the Sidonians, and Moloch the idol of the Ammonites; and so did he for all his strange wives, who did burn incense and sacrifice unto their gods.' O, what a contrast between that grey-headed apostate, laden with years and with sins, bowing down to women and to idols, and the bright and youthful form standing, on the day of Dedication, in the Temple he had built, as a mediator between God and his people, when he acknowledged so simply, so fervently, God's mercies and God's faithfulness, and prayed that He would 'incline their hearts unto Himself, that they might walk in all His ways, and keep His commandments, and His ceremonies, and His judgments, whatever He had commanded to their fathers!'

Well were it for us, my dear brethren, were it only kings and prophets and sages, and other rare creations of God's grace, to whom this warning applied; but it applies to all of us. It is indeed most true that the holier a man is, and the higher in the kingdom of heaven, so much the greater need has he to look carefully to his footing, lest he stumble and be lost; and a deep conviction of this necessity has been the sole preservation of the Saints." - Venerable John Henry Newman,C.O., "Perserverance in Grace", Discourses to Mixed Congregations
How cool !
The indispensible Dave Armstrong now has a blog ! (and a blog with a great title at that !)

Link courtesy of Envoy Encore.
The Feast of St. Scholastica, O.S.B., Virgin
is today. There is information on her here. To all the Benedictines out there, particularly those at St. Emma Monastery and St. Vincent Archabbey, happy feast day!

Monday, February 09, 2004

More proof that God can use anything..
to bring people to Himself:
"I am the only person I know who came to Catholicism through economic analysis of corporate governance. "

Link courtesy of Christus Victor.

Two important prayer requests...
First off, prayers for Sparki, her family, and all those involved in this terrible tragedy would be most welcome.
Second, a friend has asked for prayers for a woman he knows. She asked him what he thought about abortion, and after he had told her that it is a horror that kills babies and leaves women devastated, she revealed that she is pregnant and considering having an abortion herself. Prayers for this troubled mother and for the safety of her unborn child are urgently needed.
On February 9, 1851
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive:

On the Descent into Egypt
"1. INTROD.—There is one subject not much thought of, the descent into Egypt, though belonging to this season, and it may be accounted one of the Epiphanies of Christ. (1) Magi; (2) purification; (3) idol-breaking in Egypt, for as the Ark levelling the walls of Jericho, and [overthrowing] Dagon, so much more Christ.

2. Circumstances. How one journey to Bethlehem—then they got home to Nazareth—not enough, must set out again. It is remarkable that these first years were spent in a heathen country. There till seven years old.

3. Now why? I will give you a reason. He would undergo every suffering; He would be in a heathen country to share the trials of His apostles and missioners. In Jerusalem was the Temple of God, in the Holy Land His religion; but even there He chose not the Temple, but Nazareth—and the first years of His life Heliopolis, in heathen Egypt.

4. Now it must not be supposed that our Lord was too young to have a trial. (Explain.) Ignorance came from the fall. He was as sensitive [in childhood] as [we] when we are grown. Thus He saw all the evil of the place; and as His body made Him feel in the crucifixion, so His soul was exposed to moral sufferings from the first.

5. And the suffering was greater than we conceive. To live among heathens is a misery, the greater, the purer the mind—Lot in Sodom, St. Paul at Athens—the world is everywhere, and we can understand from a country which is not heathen, such as this, how evil it is, though it would be a great deal worse [among heathens].

6. Even in this country, I say, which is not heathen, the misery of being in the world is great to any holy mind. Take e.g. a city like this, and fancy the thoughts of an apostle in it. Could he go about it freely? A continual service of the devil here. How? By sins of the tongue; not like the seven Catholic Hours coming at intervals, but incessantly; a continual light talk in a thousand places, from morning to night, with scarce breaks. Who is honoured like the devil? Blasphemy and immodesty, so that most men's mouths and all men's ears are polluted from year to year's end. And are not their hearts too? Then imagination. Alas! this is why the devil loves the bad talk; it is the pabulum, the silva of corruption; it sets the heart on fire, as shavings round the wood and coal for a fire. I don't know anything more awful. Other sins men commit from time to time, but this one now. The evil concupiscence boils over and burns without exhaustion, and involves every one, so that religious people are like the Three Children [in the fiery furnace].—and how many, many fall!

7. Well this, bad as it is, is not so bad as Egypt, as heathen Heliopolis, for this country has been Catholic—remains of good, which have soaked in. Grant that a modern city is a furnace of sin—yet it [sin] was deified in Egypt. Vices canonised in animals—heathen idolatry—all vices made gods—the world lieth in wickedness, etc. —the god of this world, etc. .—the prince of the power of this air, of the spirit that now worketh on the children of unbelief . O misery of the infant Jesus walking in the streets! St. Aloysius fainting at the mention of a mortal sin—smell—saints detecting mortal sin [by its smell]. As sick men cannot bear strong scent or sound, so purity here. What a living martyrdom, etc.

8. I have said He did this for our sakes, to taste every trial, to sanctify every state, to sanctify the state of those who live in the world.

9. You who live in the world, resist evil. On confraternities—third order of St. Francis, and so allude to the Oratorium Parvum. Your confessors may, or may not, from not liking to put burdens on you, speak of these. "

BTW, the "Oratorium Parvum" the Venerable alludes to is the "Little", or Secular, Oratory.

From the homily
Fr. Michael was the celebrant at noon Mass today. What I remember most from the homily was the observation that in today's Gospel, many people were cured, not by Jesus saying so, but by touching the tassel of His cloak- a fine example of the sacramental principle.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

St. Paul at Melita
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

"And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid
them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat."

"Secure in his prophetic strength,
The water peril o'er,
The many-gifted man at length
Stepp'd on the promised shore.

He trod the shore; but not to rest,
Nor wait till Angels came;
Lo! humblest pains the Saint attest,
The firebrands and the flame.

But, when he felt the viper's smart,
Then instant aid was given;
Christian! hence learn to do thy part,
And leave the rest to Heaven. "

February 8, 1833.
You may not remember ...
but I blogged about the wedding of two friends of mine back in November. Well, now they are expecting a baby . The little one is due in September. Prayers for Rob, Brenda, and their unborn child would be most welcome.
Gee, someone noticed !
The gentleman over at Mixolydian Mode has awarded me the prize for Most Tolkien-obsessed Catholic Blog.
My heart just swells with gratitude...

Quiz time

Cool ! I'm my favorite character in the book !

You are Lord Brideshead. You do your duty and do
it faithfully. People think you're dull, but
you manage to enjoy yourself.

What Brideshead Revisited character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Quiz courtesy of Cacciaguida, who also posts a link to a picture of "Bridey".

Music at the 11:30 am Mass
Processional Hymn: "Holy, Holy, Holy"
Offertory: "Cantate Domino" - Giuseppe Pitoni (1657-1743)
Communion: "Ave Verum" - Edward Elgar ( (1857-1934)
Recessional Hymn: "Praise My Soul the King of Heaven"