Saturday, April 24, 2004

Thirty-two days...
until St. Philip's Day.....
For Saturday
" He says, 'More blessed is it to do God's will than to be God's Mother.' Do not say that Catholics do not feel this deeply-so deeply do they feel it that they are ever enlarging on her virginity, purity, immaculateness, faith, humility and obedience. Never say then that Catholics forget this passage of Scripture. Whenever they keep the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Purity, or the like, recollect it is because they make so much of the blessedness of sanctity. The woman in the crowd cried out, 'Blessed is the womb and the breasts of Mary.' She spoke in faith; she did not mean to exclude her higher blessedness, but her words only went a certain way. Therefore our Lord completed them. And therefore His Church after Him, dwelling on the great and sacred mystery of His Incarnation, has ever felt that she, who so immediately ministered to it, must have been most holy. And therefore for the honour of the Son she has ever extolled the glory of the Mother. As we give Him of our best, ascribe to Him what is best, as on earth we make our churches costly and beautiful; as when He was taken down from the cross, His pious servants wrapped Him in fine linen, and laid Him in a tomb in which never man was laid; as His dwelling place in heaven is pure and stainless-so much more ought to be-so much more was-that tabernacle from which He took flesh, in which He lay, holy and immaculate and divine. As a body was prepared for Him, so was the place of that body prepared also. Before the Blessed Mary could be Mother of God, and in order to her being Mother, she was set apart, sanctified, filled with grace, and made meet for the presence of the Eternal." - Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O, Faith and Prejudice
The Feast of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, O.F.M. Cap., Priest and Martyr
is today. There is information on him here.
It is also the feast of St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, R.G.S., Virgin and Foundress.
To any Capuchins or Good Shepherd Sisters out there, happy feast day !

Friday, April 23, 2004

And it's thirty-three days
until St. Philip's Day !
In 1851
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., preached a sermon at St. Ann's, Leeds,at the reception into the Church of the Rev. Richard Ward, late Vicar of St. Saviour's, Leeds; the Rev. Thomas Minster, late Vicar of St. Saviours; the Rev. J. C. L. Crawley, S. Rooke, and Coombes, all Curates of St. Saviour's; the Rev. W. H. Lewthwaite, Incumbent of Clifford, near Tadcaster; the Rev. W. Neville, Manager of St. Saviour's Orphanage; and fourteen lay persons. ( The reception of most of the ministerial staff of St. Saviour's into the Catholic Church caused a bit of a stir, especially because St. Saviour's had been built by the Venerable's friend Pusey.) While he did not write it down, someone was apparently taking extensive notes.....

"Addressing those present as dear friends and brethren, Fr. Newman said this was no time for putting into order any thoughts which might be in his mind; nor, indeed, was it necessary, nor would they wish it. What they wished rather was that he should speak out of the fulness of his heart and there leave the matter. Because what was it that they who had that day been brought into the Catholic Church had received? They had received day for night, light for twilight, peace for warfare. There was not a change so great as that which took place from the state of doubt and confusion and misery in which the soul was, external to the Catholic Church, to that peace which it found when it came into it. They knew it was said there is a silence which can be heard, which can be felt. Anyone who had been at sea, and who had for days and nights heard the billows beating at the sides of the vessel, and then came into port, knew what a strange stillness it was when the continued noise of the billows had ceased. When a bell stopped there was a kind of fulness of silence which was most grateful from the contrast. So it was in comparing the tumult and irritation of mind, which they felt in their long seeking for peace, with the joy experienced when they had found it. It was the rich reward of their long anxieties. Those who did not care whether they were right or wrong, those who thought they were right, those who had a dead conscience-they had no anxiety; but it was when a ray of light came, it was when a wounded conscience stung them, it was when they had a misgiving that they were where they should not be-it was then that the warfare began. They had a feeling of duty and wished to do that duty, but they did not know where it lay. Sometimes they thought it lay this way, sometimes that way; and then the voices of friends came and over-persuaded them, and they were driven back; so that one way and another they were in a most miserable condition. It was partly, certainly, their own fault. It was the fault of all of them, doubtless, who had been external to the Catholic Church, that they did not enter it sooner, because if they had had a fuller determination to follow God's will doubtless they would have found it sooner. But Almighty God knew what they were made of, and He mercifully led them on by first one grace and then another, till they were brought nearer and nearer to that haven where they would be. But though they might be getting nearer they did not know where they stood. Others might see they were getting nearer, but to themselves they seemed to be drifted about, tossed up and down by the waves, and there seemed no hope. It often happened that when persons were near the shore they were amongst billows more alarming and more dangerous, because Satan blew the billows more fiercely in order to drown those who were near safety; and they knew that frequently in cases of shipwreck when those who fell into the water were endeavouring to reach the land something happened to carry them off. So it was in like manner that poor souls who were making towards that land where they wished to be might be seen going on gradually and gradually towards the shore, and it might be prophesied-humbly, but still prophesied-that they would be landed safe, and alas! when they were about to land, suddenly they drifted off; they perished, and it was not known what became of them. It was only known that they were not landed on the beach of the Catholic Church. But the Catholics present had all cause for rejoicing that to those to whom God's mercy had been shown that day it had not so happened. They had put themselves into God's hands, and God had brought them into that haven which they had sought. And now on this day they thanked God, as they well might, that He had, in His grace, received them safe. He had brought them within the fold of His Church, He had encompassed them with His everlasting armour, had shielded them from the enemy, and he trusted that they had now got a gift they would never lose; that they were now in a state from which they would never fall, and, through God's mercy, having long sought, having at last found, they would go on from strength to strength, grace to grace, doing more and more in His service, and whatever might be their trials, still they would persevere to the end, and die in the Faith, and so would be brought, through the blood and merits of Jesus Christ, to the land of glory in eternity. What a time was this, that such a thing should take place in it! What did they see? They saw the evil spirit stirred up from the four winds. They saw he was blowing from the four quarters of Heaven upon this land, to make the waves of the people rise against the Catholic Church. They might say, 'This is not the time for the Catholic Church to triumph.' But it was the time. Man's necessity was God's opportunity. The darker the day was, the brighter God's light came. Did they not know it was the property of the truth of God to advance against wind and tide in the most rapid way? It advanced against all the billows because it was divine-it was supernatural. That was the property of the truth of God, and, therefore, just at this season, when men were most furious against them, when they told all manner of lies and falsehoods against them-because Christ was with them when men were so inflamed against them, it was the very time for them to expect triumphs. The world could not conquer: it was impossible. No, they would see, as time went on, that all those things which now looked so black and unpromising would turn to the glory and the salvation of the Catholic Church. If men were called to do that which he did not think they meant to do-persecute the Catholics-it would not hurt them. Did they not know, in the three first centuries of Christianity, that the martyrs went through so much for Christianity that it was said the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church? So was it now. Supposing men were mad enough to inflict chains and imprisonment upon them, it would only increase the spread of truth. Of course, it was unpleasant to live in the continued anxiety which all this tumult amid opposition created. Catholics did not like to be taken from their usual occupations. Catholics did not like to be taken from their usual religious ceremonies. Bishops did not like to be taken from their flocks. They wished for peace. They wished for peace for the good of the world and for the good of their flocks internally. But would this state of warfare diminish the Church? No; it would increase it. Not a day passed but souls were received into the heart of the Catholic Church. Sometimes they might be high, sometimes they might be low, but the work could not be stopped. They recollected what Gamaliel said in the days of the Apostles. He said if the work was of man it would come to naught, but if it was of God it would go on, and they must take care they did not fight against it. So was it now. Here they were in the nineteenth century after Christ came into the world, and yet what was said by Gamaliel, 1,800 years ago, was fulfilled now. If this work was of man it would fall to naught. How was it that this work had gone on for 1,800 years, and now seemed more strong and flourishing for all the opposition which had existed against it? How was it that the Protestants were in such perplexity? Why, they had seen the Holy Father the Pope driven from Rome and obliged to take refuge elsewhere; they had seen him persecuted by his own people, and had said, 'Here is a poor creature; he can do nothing.'Catholics took them at their word. It was true the Pope was not strong in this world, and yet was strong; he suspected his strength must come, not from this, but from some other world, and he suspected it was from the throne of God. The words of Gamaliel were fulfilled. If the work was of man it would come to naught. It had not come to naught, and therefore it was not of man, but of God. He looked upon the converts present as specimens of this great miracle which is going on continually, this miracle of conversion of souls in spite of the opposition of the world. Every soul that was converted to God was converted by a miracle: it was a supernatural work which no power of man could do. It was a work of grace. It could not be worldly inducements which brought men into the Catholic Church, since they gained no riches, no honours, no praise from the mouths of men; but, on the contrary, they were reviled and called names. They gained nothing of this world. It was nothing, then, but a supernatural might which brought them in: it was nothing but the grace of God, seeing those things which the world could not see, and having a desire after those things which the world could not desire. That was the great distinction between the Catholic Church and every other body. Every other body depended upon the world. Take away its worldly support and it goes. There was no Protestant who would not grant, when he came to think, that the Church of England, for instance, would go to pieces directly the temporal support was taken away. It was impossible that it could stand. Protestants knew that very well. All the most sagacious knew it well. He recollected perfectly well, several years ago, a person in authority in the Church of England gave out a charge. What did he say? 'The State is a very bad mistress, but we must put ourselves under its protection, and surrender ourselves to it, because we cannot get a better. It was once thought reason and intellect would help the Protestants against the Catholics; but we find it is not so. We find the cleverest men become Catholics. It was said that learning, talent, and genius would leave the Catholics, but it was not so. Light, learning, talent, and genius, all go towards the Catholic Church. Well, then nothing is left to us. Let us cling to the State because we cannot do anything better. Our only hope is a worldly hope; our only hope is in the arm of flesh, because we can find nothing better.'Of course, those were not the very words, but the sentiment was nowise exaggerated. It was an honest and true sentiment, though it was very plain to come from a member of the Church of England. It was certain, if the protection of the State were taken from the Church of England it would crumble to pieces. Nothing would be left. It had no unity, no stability, no solidity, no existence, but in the power of the State. How different was the Catholic Church. The State did all it could against it, but it could not destroy it. Here was the State doing all it could against the Catholic Church, and yet the Catholic Church was growing in influence in the country. In spite of the State's having done so much for the Church of England, and so much against the Catholic Church, still, when this poor old man, whom they professed to despise, living two thousand miles off, put out a bit of paper naming certain Bishops of England, the Church of England could not bear the shadow of his hand going over the country. He wrote a few words, the shadow of his hand went over the country, and the whole country was in commotion. The true Vicar of Christ, two thousand miles distant, put into confusion this great country. Could there be a better triumph for all of them than this fact? Their enemies and the inhabitants of their country (part were not their enemies) could not bear the very whisper of the Vicar of Christ in relation to this country; and in spite of all the greatness of the Church of England, they saw it was merely worldly, while the Catholic Church, not standing upon worldly power, rose up by an unseen power, a power which every arm of flesh feared. The State Church feared it, because it knew that it was of earth, and that the Church of God came from Heaven. It was to the preacher an affecting thing that he should be there on that occasion, speaking to them, because whom was it they had received into the Catholic Church that day? Why, it was the first of a portion of a special congregation of the Church of England, of a district or parish of the Church of England, which was created under remarkable circumstances-to him especially so. They knew he was not always a Catholic. It was some years ago the grace of God made him a Catholic, and on the very day of his conversion what was taking place in this town? Why, the very day when he was being led, as he trusted and believed by the grace of God, to embrace the Faith of the Church of Christ-that was the very time the Church of St. Saviour was opened. It was opened, if he recollected rightly, with a long devotional service which lasted many days, and when that was taking place here he was being received into the Catholic Church 150 miles away. Therefore it was to him a circumstance of especial interest just at this moment, now he was thrown back to the period of his own conversion, to see in the event of this day a sort of reward of what God led him to do then, that he had been the instrument in part of doing what had been done now. How or when it was that those favoured souls who had that day been made members of the Catholic Church were led by the grace of God towards the Catholic Church, he knew not; but as regarded himself, he felt that they had wished him to come as a kind of witness to receive them, because there was this remarkable connexion between St. Saviour's Church being opened and his own conversion. Then it was that that was begun which now had its end, and they saw in this another illustration of the want of stability of everything in the Church of England. There had been a church-he meant St. Saviour's-opened with how much of pious feeling, with how many sincere aspirations, with how many ready offerings to Almighty God What sums of money had been expended upon that church. It had been the work of persons who in their hearts believed, in doing what they did, they were making an offering, not to the work of man, but to the Catholic church. They were mistaken in thinking so, but they brought their offerings. They did not act with a half liberality, but, bringing treasure by handfuls, they gave it for the erection of a church which they hoped would be a Catholic church. They adorned it, enriched it, and what had become of all those hopes which began six years ago? Why, had they not vanished into empty air? They saw that the church which they built had turned out to be nothing at all; and after a trial of six years there was that remarkable truth which came to him six years ago, that the Church of England was a mere shade, that it had no substance. Here was this trial which they saw had come to naught. There were piety, devotion, sincerity, earnestness?persons who would devote themselves earnestly to God; but alas! they built up the mere creation of this world, which would not last. It was coming to naught, and what had been the case here would be the case all over in the Church of England but for the power of the State. It was the power of the State which alone kept anything in its place in the Church of England. Not so with the Catholic Church. Merely sitting still, ordering its own work silently, it had attracted educated members of the Church of England to it. It was a burning and a shining light, and it preached to the people directly by its example. After some further observations, Dr. Newman begged the prayers of the Catholics present for those who had been received into the Church on that day and some days previously. He begged their prayers that the work begun might go on spreading and increasing daily, till all those were brought into the fold of Christ that ought to belong to it?that all those to whom God had given grace might have the veil taken from their eyes. He asked their prayers also-for prayer was omnipotentthat all those who had anything to do with the erection of St. Saviour's Church might be brought to the light of truth. They could not undo what they had done. St. Saviour's Church, so called, was given up to the Protestants, and there was an end of it. They had given it over to the State. They could not undo their own work; but it would be a great thing for all of them, while they felt that they could not undo much that they had done, that at least they could save their own souls, and show their earnestness by retracing their steps as far as they could. He begged them to pray that every one of the earnest persons who preached sermons at the opening of St. Saviour's Church might be brought into the fold of Christ; that all those who had hung upon their words might be brought fully to the truth; that those who, to some extent, had been nursing fathers to the Catholic Church, though they knew it not, might be brought in; and that every one who had been instrumental in the spread of Catholic doctrines in England, though they knew it not, might be brought into the Catholic Church. Finally, Dr. Newman asked his Catholic hearers to pray for himself that he might be enabled to do his share in the work which had been begun."
William Neville, who was one of those received that day, eventually became Fr. William Neville, C.O., of the Birmingham Oratory. When those fingers that had written so many books and articles, plus literally thousands of letters, became too stiff to hold a pen, it was Fr. Neville who wrote letters from the Venerable's dictation- though Newman insisted on at least scrawling out his initials as a signature on his letters for as long as possible.
Great post by Fr. Johansen
on why Mr. Ekeh's positon is utterly wrong-headed.
The new instruction on the Eucharist
is already online.
I had a nice surprise at Mass today.
My friend Sr. Angela was there. She is a novice with the Benedictines of St. Emma Monastery, and is home on a short visit after finishing her canonical year. We talked for a little while after Mass, and I tried to get her caught up on what news there's been at the Oratory since I last saw her in December. I'm hoping to see her again before she goes back to her monastery on Sunday. Prayers for her and for St. Emma Monastery would be, of course, most welcome.

The Feast of St. George, Martyr
is today. There is information on him here. Prayers asking his intercession for the return of England to Christ and His Church would be particularly welcome. Since he is so venerated by our Orthodox brothers and sisteres, prayers for his interecession for the unity of East and West would be appropriate as well.
It is also the feast of St. Adalbert of Prague, O.S.B., Bishop and Martyr. To all the Benedictines out there, happy feast day !

Thursday, April 22, 2004

From Loss and Gain
The first of the two novels by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.
In this scene, the main character (Charles Reding) receives some news from a close friend (and fellow Oxford undergraduate), which shows a bit of the type of reaction someone who converted to Catholicism in 19th England could expect.....
"Charles had to pass a day or two at the house of a relative who lived a little way out of London. While he was there a letter arrived for him, forwarded from home; it was from Willis, dated from London, and announced that he had come to a very important decision, and should not return to Oxford. Charles was fairly in the world again, plunged into the whirl of opinions: how sad a contrast to his tranquil home! There was no mistaking what the letter meant; and he set out at once with the chance of finding the writer at the house from which he dated it. It was a lodging at the west-end of the town; and he reached it about noon.

He found Willis in company with a person apparently two or three years older. Willis started on seeing him.

'Who would have thought! what brings you here?'he said; 'I thought you were in the country.' Then to his companion, 'This is the friend I was speaking to you about, Morley. A happy meeting; sit down, dear Reding; I have much to tell you.'

Charles sat down, all suspense, looking at Willis with such keen anxiety that the latter was forced to cut the matter short. 'Reding, I am a Catholic.'

Charles threw himself back in his chair, and turned pale.

'My dear Reding, what is the matter with you? why don't you speak to me?'

Charles was still silent; at last, stooping forward, with his elbows on his knees, and his head on his hands, he said, in a low voice, 'Oh, Willis, what have you done?'

'Done?' said Willis; 'what you should do, and half Oxford besides. Oh, Reding, I'm so happy!'

'Alas, alas!' said Charles; 'but what is the good of my staying?-all good attend you, Willis; good-bye!'

'No, my good Reding, you don't leave me so soon, having found me so unexpectedly; and you have had a long walk, I dare say; sit down, there's a good fellow; we shall have luncheon soon, and you must not go without taking your part in it.' He took Charles's hat from him as he spoke; and Charles, in a mixture of feelings, let him have his way.

'Oh, Willis, so you have separated yourself from us for ever!' he said; 'you have taken your course, we keep ours: our paths are different.'

'Not so,' said Willis; 'you must follow me, and we shall be one still.'

Charles was half offended. 'Really I must go,' he said, and he rose; 'you must not talk in that manner.'

'Pray, forgive me,' answered Willis; 'I won't do so again; but I could not help it; I am not in a common state, I'm so happy!'

A thought struck Reding. 'Tell me, Willis,' he said, 'your exact position; in what sense are you a Catholic? What is to prevent your returning with me to Oxford?'

His companion interposed: 'I am taking a liberty, perhaps,' he said; 'but Mr. Willis has been regularly received into the Catholic Church.'

'I have not introduced you,' said Willis. 'Reding, let me introduce Mr. Morley; Morley, Mr. Reding. Yes, Reding, I owe it to him that I am a Catholic. I have been on a tour with him abroad. We met with a good priest in France, who consented to receive my abjuration.'

'Well, I think he might profitably have examined into your state of mind a little before he did so," said Reding; 'you are not the person to become a Catholic, Willis.'

'What do you mean?'

'Because,' answered Reding, 'you are more of a Dissenter than a Catholic. I beg your pardon,' he added, seeing Willis look up sharply, 'let me be frank with you, pray do. You were attached to the Church of Rome, not as a child to a mother, but in a wayward, roving way, as a matter of fancy or liking, or (excuse me) as a greedy boy to something nice; and you pursued your object by disobeying the authorities set over you.'

It was as much as Willis could bear; he said he thought he recollected a text about 'obeying God rather than men'.

'I see you have disobeyed men,' retorted Charles; 'I trust you have been obeying God.' "

And it continues...
Thirty-four days until St. Philip's Day !
OK, I'm desperate here....
I've added a PayPal button on the sidebar. If anybody would care to help out an unemployed blogger, please feel free !
France did something right.
Link courtesy of Mr. Krehbiel

The Feast of St. Apelles, Bishop and Martyr
is today. There is information on him here.
It is also the feast of Blessed Maria Gabriella, O.C.S.O., Virgin.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

On the way...
Thirty-five days before St. Philip's Day !
On April 21, 1864
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., published the first part of his masterpiece, Apologia Pro Vita Sua.
It was published in weekly installments, and was written both at great speed and in long stretches. For example, when he was writing Part Three, he wrote for sixteen hours straight, and he noted in his diary that when he was writing Part Five he was once 'At my "Apologia" for 22 hours running.'
No wonder that he sent this note along with one of his proofs:

'Excuse my penmanship. My fingers have been walking nearly twenty miles a day.'
A thank-you
to Mary Jane Ballou, who picked up on my suggestion of Blessed Juvenal Anicina, C.O. as an example of a heroic bishop. (Martyr for true, Catholic, reform, pray for us !)
The April First Things
is now online.
There is a lot of great stuff in there, but possibly my favorite is this one by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, especially the final sentence. And then there's this short bit of commentary, also by Fr. Neuhaus.
"Forget about the slander that it is anti-Semitic. It appears that the problem with Mel Gibson’s film on the passion is that it’s too pro-Christian. The Rev. Paul Rutger, director of the Council of Religious Leaders in Chicago , saw an advance screening and said, 'Personally, I have mixed feelings about the movie. It’s clearly a message movie. And the message is "I believe in Jesus as the Son of God." It’s straight-out evangelical, Jesus-died-for-your-sins.' Aha. So that’s what Gibson’s up to. Clearly, the film should be accompanied by an advisory giving fair warning to the Christianly challenged."

The Feast of St. Anselm of Canterbury, O.S.B., Archbishop and Doctor of the Church
is today. There is information on him here.
It is also the feast of St. Conrad of Parzham,O.F.M. Cap., .
To all the Benedictines and Capuchins out there, happy feast day !

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

It's coming...
36 days before St. Philip's Day !
From Parochial and Plain Sermons
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.
"Consider for an instant. Let every one who hears me ask himself the question, what stake has he in the truth of Christ's promise? How would he be a whit the worse off, supposing (which is impossible), but, supposing it to fail? We know what it is to have a stake in any venture of this world. We venture our property in plans which promise a return; in plans which we trust, which we have faith in. What have we ventured for Christ? What have we given to Him on a belief of His promise? The Apostle said, that he and his brethren would be of all men most miserable, if the dead were not raised. Can we in any degree apply this to ourselves? We think, perhaps, at present, we have some hope of heaven; well, this we should lose of course; but after all, how should we be worse off as to our present condition? A trader, who has embarked some property in a speculation which fails, not only loses his prospect of gain, but somewhat of his own, which he ventured with the hope of the gain. This is the question, What have we ventured? I really fear, when we come to examine, it will be found that there is nothing we resolve, nothing we do, nothing we do not do, nothing we avoid, nothing we choose, nothing we give up, nothing we pursue, which we should not resolve, and do, and not do, and avoid, and choose, and give up, and pursue, if Christ had not died, and heaven were not promised us. I really fear that most men called Christians, whatever they may profess, whatever they may think they feel, whatever warmth and illumination and love they may claim as their own, yet would go on almost as they do, neither much better nor much worse, if they believed Christianity to be a fable. When young, they indulge their lusts, or at least pursue the world's vanities; as time goes on, they get into a fair way of business, or other mode of making money; then they marry and settle; and their interest coinciding with their duty, they seem to be, and think themselves, respectable and religious men; they grow attached to things as they are; they begin to have a zeal against vice and error; and they follow after peace with all men. Such conduct indeed, as far as it goes, is right and praiseworthy. Only I say, it has not necessarily any thing to do with religion at all; there is nothing in it which is any proof of the presence of religious principle in those who adopt it; there is nothing they would not do still, though they had nothing to gain from it, except what they gain from it now: they do gain something now, they do gratify their present wishes, they are quiet and orderly, because it is their interest and taste to be so; but they venture nothing, they risk, they sacrifice, they abandon nothing on the faith of Christ's word.

For instance: St. Barnabas had a property in Cyprus; he gave it up for the poor of Christ. Here is an intelligible sacrifice. He did something he would not have done, unless the Gospel were true. It is plain, if the Gospel turned out a fable (which God forbid), but if so, he would have taken his line most unskilfully; he would be in a great mistake, and would have suffered a loss. He would be like a merchant whose vessels were wrecked, or whose correspondents had failed. Man has confidence in man, he trusts to the credit of his neighbour; but Christians do not risk largely upon their Saviour's word; and this is the one thing they have to do. Christ tells us Himself, 'Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations;' [Luke xvi. 9.] i.e. buy an interest in the next world with that wealth which this world uses unrighteously; feed the hungry, clothe the naked, relieve the sick, and it shall turn to 'bags that wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not.' [Luke xii. 33.] Thus almsdeeds, I say, are an intelligible venture and an evidence of faith.

So again the man who, when his prospects in the world are good, gives up the promise of wealth or of eminence, in order to be nearer Christ, to have a place in His temple, to have more opportunity for prayer and praise, he makes a sacrifice.

Or he who, from a noble striving after perfection, puts off the desire of worldly comforts, and is, like Daniel or St. Paul, in much labour and business, yet with a solitary heart, he too ventures something upon the certainty of the world to come.

Or he who, after falling into sin, repents in deed as well as in word; puts some yoke upon his shoulder; subjects himself to punishment; is severe upon his flesh; denies himself innocent pleasures; or puts himself to public shame,-he too shows that his faith is the realizing of things hoped for, the warrant of things not seen.

Or again: he who only gets himself to pray against those things which the many seek after, and to embrace what the heart naturally shrinks from; he who, when God's will seems to tend towards worldly ill, while he deprecates it, yet prevails on himself to say heartily, 'Thy will be done;' he, even, is not without his sacrifice. Or he who, being in prospect of wealth, honestly prays God that he may never be rich; or he who is in prospect of station, and earnestly prays that he may never have it; or he who has friends or kindred, and acquiesces with an entire heart in their removal while it is yet doubtful, who can say, 'Take them away, if it be Thy will, to Thee I give them up, to Thee I commit them,' who is willing to be taken at his word; he too risks somewhat, and is accepted. "

Over at Christendom Awake
There's an article by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. It's not easy reading, but I particularly liked the first paragraph....
"In Wladimir Solowjew's History of the Antichrist, the eschatological enemy of the Redeemer recommended himself to believers, among other things, by the fact that he had earned his doctorate in theology at Tübingen and had written an exegetical work which was recognized as pioneering in the field. The Antichrist, a famous exegete! With this paradox Solowjew sought to shed light on the ambivalence inherent in biblical exegetical methodology for almost a hundred years now....."
The Feast of St. John Payne, Priest and Martyr
is today. There is information on him here.
It is also the feast of Blessed Francis Page, S.J., Priest and Martyr, and Blessed John Finch, Martyr. .

Monday, April 19, 2004

From Discourses to Mixed Congregations
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.
"When our Lord gave to the Apostles their commission to preach all over the world, He continued, 'He that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be condemned'. And He declared to Nicodemus, 'He that believeth in the Son, is not judged; but he that doth not believe is already judged, because he believeth not in the Name of the Only-begotten Son of God'. He said to the Pharisees, 'If you believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins'. To the Jews, 'Ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep'. And you may recollect that before His miracles, He commonly demands faith of the supplicant: 'All things are possible,' He says, 'to him that believeth'; and we find in one place, 'He could not do any miracle,' on account of the unbelief of the inhabitants.

Has faith changed its meaning, or is it less necessary now? Is it not still what it was in the Apostles' day, the very characteristic of Christianity, the special instrument of renovation, the first disposition for justification, one out of the three theological virtues? God might have renewed us by other means, by sight, by reason, by love, but He has chosen to 'purify our hearts by faith'; it has been His will to select an instrument which the world despises, but which is of immense power. He preferred it, in His infinite wisdom, to every other; and if men have it not, they have not the very element and rudiment, out of which are formed, on which are built, the Saints and Servants of God. And they have it not; they are living, they are dying, without the hopes, without the aids of the Gospel, because, in spite of so much that is good in them, in spite of their sense of duty, their tenderness of conscience on many points, their benevolence, their uprightness, their generosity, they are under the dominion (I must say it) of a proud fiend; they have this stout spirit within them, they determine to be their own masters in matters of thought, about which they know so little; they consider their own reason better than any one's else; they will not admit that any one comes from God who contradicts their own view of truth. What! is none their equal in wisdom anywhere? is there none other whose word is to be taken on religion? is there none to wrest from them their ultimate appeal to themselves? Have they in no possible way the occasion or opportunity of faith? Is it a virtue, which, in consequence of their transcendent sagacity, their prerogative of omniscience, they must give up hope of exercising? If the pretensions of the Catholic Church do not satisfy them, let them go somewhere else, if they can. If they are so fastidious that they cannot trust her as the oracle of God, let them find another more certainly from Him than the House of His own institution, which has ever been called by His name, has ever maintained the same claims, has ever taught one substance of doctrine, and has triumphed over those who preached any other. Since Apostolic faith was in the beginning reliance on man's word, as being God's word, since what faith was then such it is now, since faith is necessary for salvation, let them attempt to exercise it towards another, if they will not accept the Bride of the Lamb. Let them, if they can, put faith in some of those religions which have lasted a whole two or three centuries in a corner of the earth. Let them stake their eternal prospects on kings and nobles and parliaments and soldiery, let them take some mere fiction of the law, or abortion of the schools, or idol of a populace, or upstart of a crisis, or oracle of lecture-rooms, as the prophet of God. Alas! they are hardly bestead if they must possess a virtue, which they have no means of exercising,-if they must make an act of faith, they know not on whom, and know not why!"
Mr Armstrong
has a fine post on the development of doctrine, with plenty of reference to the Venerable, of course.
And it begins ...
37 days before St. Philip's Day !
The Feast of Pope St. Leo IX
is today. There is information on him here.
It is also the feast of Blessed James Duckett, who was a bookseller martyred for the 'crime' of printing and selling Catholic books in Elizabethan England.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

From Meditations and Devotions
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.
God Alone

Thomas says to Him, "My Lord and my God."

"1. I adore Thee, O my God, with Thomas; and if I have, like him, sinned through unbelief, I adore Thee the more. I adore Thee as the One Adorable, I adore Thee as more glorious in Thy humiliation, when men despised Thee, than when Angels worshipped Thee. Deus meus et omnia-'My God and my all.'To have Thee is to have everything I can have. O my Eternal Father, give me Thyself. I dared not have made so bold a request, it would have been presumption, unless Thou hadst encouraged me. Thou hast put it into my mouth, Thou hast clothed Thyself in my nature, Thou hast become my Brother, Thou hast died as other men die, only in far greater bitterness, that, instead of my eyeing Thee fearfully from afar, I might confidently draw near to Thee. Thou dost speak to me as Thou didst speak to Thomas, and dost beckon me to take hold of Thee. My God and my all, what could I say more than this, if I spoke to all eternity! I am full and abound and overflow, when I have Thee; but without Thee I am nothing-I wither away, I dissolve and perish. My Lord and my God, my God and my all, give me Thyself and nothing else.

2. Thomas came and touched Thy sacred wounds. O will the day ever come when I shall be allowed actually and visibly to kiss them? What a day will that be when I am thoroughly cleansed from all impurity and sin, and am fit to draw near to my Incarnate God in His palace of light above! what a morning, when having done with all penal suffering, I see Thee for the first time with these very eyes of mine, I see Thy countenance, gaze upon Thy eyes and gracious lips without quailing, and then kneel down with joy to kiss Thy feet, and am welcomed into Thy arms. O my only true Lover, the only Lover of my soul, Thee will I love now, that I may love Thee then. What a day, a long day without ending, the day of eternity, when I shall be so unlike what I am now, when I feel in myself a body of death, and am perplexed and distracted with ten thousand thoughts, any one of which would keep me from heaven. O my Lord, what a day when I shall have done once for all with all sins, venial as well as mortal, and shall stand perfect and acceptable in Thy sight, able to bear Thy presence, nothing shrinking from Thy eye, not shrinking from the pure scrutiny of Angels and Archangels, when I stand in the midst and they around me!

3. O my God, though I am not fit to see or touch Thee yet, still I will ever come within Thy reach, and desire that which is not yet given me in its fulness. O my Saviour, Thou shalt be my sole God!-I will have no Lord but Thee. I will break to pieces all idols in my heart which rival Thee. I will have nothing but Jesus and Him crucified. It shall be my life to pray to Thee, to offer myself to Thee, to keep Thee before me, to worship Thee in Thy holy Sacrifice, and to surrender myself to Thee in Holy Communion. "

The Lady in the Pew...
has hit a home run.
"Thanks be to God ! (not to all the “special guest stars”)
Lane Core
posted the link to lots of sermons by the Venerable again.
Music at the 11:30 am Mass
Processional Hymn: "Jesus Christ is Risen Today"
Offertory: "Ye Sons and Daughters" - Chant
Communion: "I am the Living Bread" - Michael McCabe
Recessional Hymn: "The Strife is O'er"

The chant "Ye Sons and Daughters" was in English- a translation done by Fr. Edward Caswall, C.O.