Saturday, February 21, 2004

There would have to be a lot of candles on that cake...
Today is Venerable John Henry Newman's 203rd birthday! It would be a most appropriate present to pray for his canonization today. Here is a form that could be used:
Eternal Father, You led JOHN HENRY NEWMAN to follow the kindly light of Truth, and he obediently responded to your heavenly calls at any cost. As writer, preacher, counsellor and educator, as pastor, Oratorian, and servant of the poor he laboured to build up Your Kingdom.

Grant that through your Vicar on Earth we may hear the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the company of the canonized saints."

May You manifest Your servant's power of intercession by even extraordinary answers to the prayers of the faithful throughout the world. We pray particularly for our intentions in his name and in the Name of Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord.


Please report any favours received to:
The Postulator, The Oratory, Hagley Road, Birmingham B16 8UE, England

A special thank you to any bloggers who have mentioned this anniversary- I have seen posts by Lane Core and Gerard Serafin, but the thank you extends to others I may have missed.
In 1858, the Venerable apparently spent part of his birthday giving some catechetical instructions on the Creed. The following notes are still extant:

"1. I said last that the Creed did not contain all that we had to believe, but certain portions, and this is put into our hands for various reasons.

2. First, as a badge of what our religion is: 'Christian is my name, Catholic my surname.' The sign of the cross—so the Creed.

3. Next, as what is fundamental—which 'infants in grace know,' 'other foundation,' etc. 'No one can say Jesus is the Lord,' etc. Disciplina arcani.

4. Thirdly, as being easy of memory, being only a few clauses, a few words in each.

5. Three chief parts—twelve articles—(go through them).

6. As to the twelve articles, there was a belief that each apostle gave an article—thence called Apostles' Creed; but not so, but, as I said last time, because it contains apostolic doctrine.

7. And hence there were originally lesser variations in the Creed in various parts of the Church, in various countries. Rites and ceremonies vary, and though the faith never varies, the expression of it may. We have an instance of this in the Creed of the Mass. (Exemplify.)

8. Each Church, then, had its own Creed, the same except in few words, or a few articles put in or out. The Creed which has remained and which we use as the Apostles' Creed is the Creed always used in Rome. Saying it at the Confessional of St. Peter.

9. Another thing to be said about the Apostles' Creed: the Nicene has additions because of heresies- Consubstantial, etc.; the Apostles' Creed that of the Church of Rome, where heresy never was.

10. But lest the Creed should grow too large, the Council of Ephesus determined that it should not be added to, though heresies arose; hence Theotokos not introduced. "

The Feast of St. Peter Damian, O.S.B., Cardinal and Doctor of the Church
is today. There is information on him here. Asking for the intercession of this particular Doctor, known for his stern denunciation of clerics who indulged in perverted sexual sin, would, unfortunately, be rather apropos at the moment.

Friday, February 20, 2004

On February 20, 1876...
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive:

" Christ our Fellow-Sufferer
1. INTROD.—We have to labour and suffer, as I said last week, but we have this support and consolation, that Christ labours and suffers with us. This a great subject.

2. Adam fell. God never puts on us more than we can do; He gives grace sufficient.

3. But it is much more than this. He might have forgiven and restored us without Christ's death; but He has done so in a more excellent way.

4. The Prince of Wales going into a labour prison, putting on dress of convicts, having his hair cut, all for the sake of converting convicts. So—

5. Christ has sought us—but more, for He has wrought and suffered for and instead of us.

6. Still more; not only He has taken ours, but has given us His—the vine and branches—one body, He the head, Rom. xii. [5] ; 'Why persecutest thou me?' [Acts ix. 4].

7. We are all [that] He is—sons of God—full of grace—heirs of heaven.

8. Is not this sufficient to sweeten labour? "

The February First Things
is now online. I found this article from the "While We're At It" section particularly interesting.
“ 'What on earth do those people think they’re doing?' That has been the response of innumerable people watching the Episcopal Church, and perhaps the Anglican communion, on its course of self-destructing. In these pages, Philip Turner, a distinguished Anglican priest, missionary, and theology professor, writing in sorrow laced with anger, gave one answer to the above question (see FT, November 2003). It is easy to dismiss people with whom we strongly disagree as being either ignorant or crazy, or both. But we owe them and ourselves the effort of trying to understand what they think they are doing, and why. Leander Harding, rector of St. John’s Church in Stamford, Connecticut, makes that effort, employing a 1992 book by the noted literary critic, Harold Bloom. In The American Religion, Bloom contended that religious America—whether it is Southern Baptist, Methodist, or even Mormon—is, at its heart, Gnostic. 'We are,' Bloom wrote, 'a religiously mad culture, furiously searching for the spirit, but each of us is subject and object of the one question, which must be for the original self, a spark or breath in us that we are convinced goes back to before the creation.' I will let Harding take it from there: 'The quintessential American Religion is the quest for the true and original self which is the "pearl of great price," the ultimate value. Finding the true self requires absolute and complete freedom of choice unconstrained by any sources of authority outside the self. Limits upon personal freedom and choice are an affront to all that is sacred to the American Religion. When the self-determining self finds "the real me" salvation is achieved and the ultimate self has achieved contact with the ultimate reality. Finding your true self is to the contemporary Gnostic the same thing as finding God. For the Gnostic the purpose of the religious community is to facilitate the quest and validate the results. The contemporary Gnostic church, which can appear in both conservative and liberal forms, is the community of those who know that they have found God because they have found their own uncreated depths. Both devotees of the New Age and many in some "conservative" Christian circles see salvation as purely a matter of personal experience, which can only be validated by those who have had similar "deeply personal" experiences. Notice how perfectly the contemporary presentation of homosexuality fits the American Religion. A person who discovers that he or she is gay has recovered his or her true self and "come out" and come through what the Gnostics called the "aeons," in this case levels of personal, familial, and social oppression that hinder and constrain the true self. It is a heroic and perilous journey of self-discovery which would be familiar to a first-century Gnostic like Valentinus. That the means of liberation is sexual practice is even a familiar theme. Some ancient Gnostics were ascetic but others counseled sexual license. Both stratagems can come from the same contempt of nature and are different ways of asserting the radical independence of the self. Here is the point. Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire not in spite of being gay, not as an act of toleration and compassion toward gay people, but because he is gay and as such is an icon of the successful completion of the quest to find the true and original self. He has been chosen for high religious office because he represents high religious attainment. He is being recognized and receiving regard for being an accomplished practitioner of the American Religion. According to this Gnostic logic, divorcing his wife and leaving his family to embrace the gay lifestyle is not some unfortunate concession to irresistible sexual urges but an example of the pain and sacrifice that the seeker of the true self must be willing to endure. That natural, organic, and conventional restraints must be set aside is time-worn Gnostic nostrum. From the point of view of this contemporary Gnosticism, if the Church does not validate such a noble quest for enlightenment then it invalidates itself and shows that it is no help in the only spiritual struggle that counts, the struggle to be the "real me." Because Gene Robinson has "found himself" he has according to the Gnostic logic of the American Religion found God and is naturally thought to be a truly ‘spiritual person’ and a fit person to inspire and lead others on their spiritual journey which is to end in a discovery of the true self which is just so the discovery of the only real god, the Gnostic god. Seeing the elevation of Gene Robinson through the lens of the mythos of the American Religion explains some of the fanaticism of his defenders, explains why so many bishops of the Episcopal Church including the Presiding Bishop would be willing to take such institutional risks. Here is a paradigm of salvation that echoes deeply in the American soul and promises to restore a sense of purpose to a mainline church which has lost confidence in the story of salvation told by the orthodox tradition of the Church. Inclusion becomes the fundamental value for the Church because it allows the Church to have a real purpose of validating that people have indeed found their true identity, and thus found God. Gay people become icons of hope. To celebrate gays in the life of the Church, not accept but affirm and celebrate, is to celebrate the Church as a truly spiritual community with real spiritual power which can facilitate and validate the salvation of souls. The church leaders who are risking everything for Gene Robinson are in their own way and according to an heretical but powerful vision trying desperately to find a spiritual vocation for the Church that has some liveliness and connects deeply with the deepest yearning of the American soul. The Presiding Bishop and his company of supporters think they are regaining the lost keys of heaven. That these newly discovered keys are not the real thing but Gnostic imitators of the keys of St. Peter will be lost on those who are drunk on the promises of the American Religion of the true, free, and uncreated self.' "
The Feast of Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto
is today. There is information on them here and here.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

For Thursday
"When strangers are so unfavourably impressed with us, because they see Images of our Lady in our churches, and crowds flocking about her, they forget that there is a Presence within the sacred walls, infinitely more awful, which claims and obtains from us a worship transcendently different from any devotion we pay to her. That devotion to her might indeed tend to idolatry, if it were encouraged in Protestant churches, where there is nothing higher than it to attract the worshipper: but all the images that a Catholic church ever contained, all the Crucifixes at its Altars brought together, do not so affect its frequenters, as the lamp which betokens the presence or absence there of the Blessed Sacrament. Is not this so certain, so notorious, that on some occasions it has been even brought as a charge against us, that we are irreverent in church, when what seemed to the objector to be irreverence was but the necessary change of feeling, which came over those who were in it, on their knowing that their Lord was no longer there, but away? " - Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., A Letter Addressed to the Rev. E. B. Pusey, D.D.,on Occasion of His Eirenicon
Now this is good...
Catholic Educator's Resource Center has a lot of interesting articles posted recently.
Here are some of them:
Christian culture and the lives of the saints - a fine article by the remarkable Christopher Dawson
The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage - Sigh... ten years ago I wouldn't have dreamed such an article would be as necessary as this one is....
The Theology of the Body & The New Evangelization - Important....
Mere Spirituality- The next time somebody hands you that "I'm into spirituality, not religion" line, here's a great riposte...

The drive to eroticize every single nook and cranny of our society
goes on....

Link courtesy of Zorak.

The Feast of St. Conrad of Piacenza
is today. There is information on him here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

From Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

"As troubles and trials circle round you, He will give you what you want at present-'a mouth, and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay.' 'There is a time for silence, and a time to speak;' the time for speaking is come. What I desiderate in Catholics is the gift of bringing out what their religion is; it is one of those 'better gifts,' of which the Apostle bids you be 'zealous.' You must not hide your talent in a napkin, or your light under a bushel. I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold, and what they do not, who know their creed so well, that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity; I am not denying you are such already: but I mean to be severe, and, as some would say, exorbitant in my demands, I wish you to enlarge your knowledge, to cultivate your reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and principles of Catholicism, and where lie the main inconsistences and absurdities of the Protestant theory. I have no apprehension you will be the worse Catholics for familiarity with these subjects, provided you cherish a vivid sense of God above, and keep in mind that you have souls to be judged and to be saved. In all times the laity have been the measure of the Catholic spirit..."
From the folks over at DeoOmnisGloria.Com
The Roman(Catholic) Road
The Feast of Blessed John Pibush and Blessed William Harrington, Priests and Martyrs
is today. There is information on them here and here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I'm wondering if anybody else...
has read the book Turmoil and Truth: the Historical Roots of the Modern Crisis in the Catholic Church, by Philip Trower ? I'm more than halfway through, and it is quite good. Here's a quote...
"Part of the mystery of the Church is that, in arranging how His truth is to be handed on, God made Greek philosophers, or anyone resembling them, subordinate to Galilean fishermen. The three wise men kneeling before Dvine Wisdom made visible as a baby provides a prototype. A Pope or a bishop may be personally learned, but his learning does not add anything to his authority as pope or bishop. His authority to pass judgement on the ideas of even the most brilliant thinker, where those ideas touch faith or morals, comes solely form the fact that he is a sucessor of one of Our Lord's little-educated working-class apostles. St. Paul the brilliant 'university type', was brought in later, but only after a big dose of humiliation.
For Catholics, the purpose behind this plan is not difficult to see. Everything in God's designs is directed to keeping us small in our own esteem, since this is the only way into the kingdom of Heaven, and no one needs more help in this matter than clever men and women. (Over the entrance to every Catholic university could well be carved St. Therese of Lisieux's words: "God has no need of any human instrument, least of all me.")
But this ultimate subordination of 'philosophers' to 'fishermen' is not something the clever find naturally easy to accept. With a strong sense of the supernatural they will. But if faith starts to decline it starts to stick in the throat. Then, instead of seeing themselves as servants of Christ and his Church, they become, without realizing it, servants of worldly powers- like William of Ockham in the 14th century when he fled from Avignon to the copurt of Louis of Bavaria- of the spirit of the times, or of their own opinions and ambitions.
One of the most revealing things about some of the theologians who have come to fame since the Council is their apparent indifference to the confusion into which they have plunged the simple and lowly. As long as they can write what they please, they do not seem to care what the consequences are. If doctors had acted like this, leaving behind a trail of corpses and invalids, they would have earned not reputations but infamy."
Interesting new article..
over at Christendom Awake :

The Feast of the Seven Founders of the Order of Servites
is today. There is information on them here. To any Servites out there, happy feast day !
It is also the feast of Blessed William Richardson, the last martyr under Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Monday, February 16, 2004

In February of 1956...
The Professor wrote a letter to a Mr. Michael Straight in which he discussed Frodo's motives and actions, in view of the petitions in the Lord's Prayer.


" 'Lead us not into temptation etc.' is the harder and the less often considered petition. The view, in the terms of my story, is that though every event or situation has at least two aspects: the history and development of the individual ( it is something out of which he can get good, ultimate good, for himself, or fail to do so), and the history of the world (which depends on his action for its own sake)- still there are abnormal situations in which one may be placed. 'Sacrificial situations', I should call them; such positions in which the 'good' of the world depends on the behavior of an individual in circumstances which demand of him suffering and endurance far beyond the normal- even, it may happen (or seem, humanly speaking), demand a strength of body and mind which he does not possess; he is in a sense doomed to failure, doomed to fall into temptation or be broken by pressure against his will; that is any choice he could make or would make unfettered, not under duress.
Frodo was in such a position; an apparently complete trap: a person of greater power could probably never have resisted the Ring's lure to power for so long: a person of less power could not hope to resist it in the final decision. (Already Frodo had been unwilling to harm the Ring before he set out, and was incapable of surrendering it to Sam. )
The Quest was bound to fail as a piece of world-plan, and also was bound to end in disaster as the story of humble Frodo's development to the 'noble'; his sanctification. Fail it would and did as far as Frodo considered alone was concerned. He 'apostasized'- and I have had one savage letter, crying out that he should have been executed as a traitor, not honoured. Believe me, it was not until I read this that I had myself any idea how 'topical' such a situation might appear. It arose naturally from my 'plot' conceived in main outline in 1936. I did not foresee that before the tale was published we should enter a dark age in which the technique of torture and disruption of personality would rival that of Mordor and the Ring and present us with the practical problem of honest men of good will broken down into apostates and traitors.
But at this point the 'salvation' of the world and Frodo's own 'salvation' is achieved by his previous pity and forgiveness of injury. At any point any practical person would have told Frodo that Gollum would certainly betray him, and could rob him in the end. (Not quite 'certainly'. The clumsiness in fidelity of Sam was what finally pushed Gollum over the brink, when about to repent) To 'pity' him, to forbear to kill him, was a piece of folly, or a mystical belief in the ultimate value-in-itself of pity and generosity even if disastrous in the world of time. He did rob and injure him in the end- by by a 'grace', that last betrayal was at a precise juncture when the final evil deed was the most beneficial thing anyone could have done for Frodo! By a situation created by his 'forgiveness', he was saved himself and relieved of his burden. He was verey justly accorded the highest honours- since it is clear that he and Sam never concealed the precise course of events."
Fr. Bryce Sibley
has a wonderful quote from Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., on his blog.
A thank you
to Cacciaguida, for mentioning and linking to this blog.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

From Parochial and Plain Sermons
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.- a sermon on this verse from today's Gospel:
"Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation." Luke vi. 24.
The new job, which was supposed to be temporary to permanent, did not pan out. ( I was told it was not because of anything I did wrong, but because the company is "considering taking that position in a new direction." The cynic in me suspects that that translates to "filling the spot with a part-timer or two so that no benefits are involved" but I don't have any proof... ) Prayers for me in my continuing search for gainful employment would be a great blessing.
In international Oratorian news...
Fr. Antonio Ortega Franco, C.O., of the San Pablo Oratory will have to leave his community for a while.
The reason why is because he's been nominated to be an auxilary bishop of Mexico City. Prayers for Fr. Franco would be very welcome.
Music at the 11:30 am Mass
Processional Hymn:"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty"
Offertory- "Fairest Lord Jesus" - Silesian folk melody, arr. Richard Storrs Willis (1819-1900)
Recessional Hymn: "Alleluia ! Sing to Jesus! "