Saturday, May 29, 2004

Light blogging ahead...
since my computer access will be limited over the holiday weekend. If I do not get to blog it on the day, blessed Pentecost !
I'm currently reading...
a very interesting book...Tolkien and the Great War, by John Garth. It's a detailed biographical look at the Professor's early life, concentrating on the time he spent as a soldier in WWI and the periods immediately preceding and following that time. The prologue deals with a innocent pursuit- the rugby game he and other recent alums of King Edward's School,following school tradtion,played against the current school squad in 1913. After the recounting of this bit of hard-fought fun, the last three paragraphs hit this reader particularly hard.
"There is dinner with old friends tonight, and the TCBS (ed. the circle of Tolkien's close friends) is not prone to take anything too seriously. These are happy days, and no less happy for being largely taken for granted. On leaving King Edward's in 1911, Tolkien wrote nostalgically in the school Chronicle : ' 'Twas a good road, a little rough, it may be, in places, but they say it is rougher further on...'

No one has forseen just how rough the coming years will be, or to what slaughter this generation is walking. Even now, at the close of 1913, despite growing signs that war impends for this 'over-civilized' world, the time and manner of its unfolding are unforseeable. Before four years have passed, the conflagration will have left four of Tolkien's fifteen-strong team wounded and four more dead- including T.K. Barnsley, G.B. Smith, and Rob Gilson.

Of every eight men mobilized in Britain during the First World War, one was killed. The losses from Tolkien's team were more than double that, but they bear comparison with the proportion of deaths among King Edward's Old Boys and among former public school boys across Great Britain-about one in five. And they match the figures for Oxbridge-educated servicemen of their age, the vast majority of whom became junior officers and had to lead operations and assaults. It has become unfashionable to give credit to Oxford and Cambridge, and to social elites in general; but it remains true that the Great War cut a deeper swathe through Tolkien's peers than among any other social group in Britain. Contemporaries spoke of the Lost Generation. 'By 1918', Tolkien wrote half a century later in his preface to the second edition of The Lord of the Rings ,'all but one of my close friends were dead.' "
On May 29, 1846
Venerable John Henry Newman, who had been received into the Catholic Church in October of the previous year, wrote this letter to a friend:
"Your letter has just come. Indeed I have thought a good deal of you and your troubles; and was about to write daily, but for a reason I will state presently. I have thought more of your wife, and still more of Mrs. Sargent, whose repeated trials I have talked over and mused upon with St. John. It is all very mysterious. So too is the distress of mind at this moment of other friends of mine, of a different kind—I mean, their struggling to know whether or not they should join the Church of Rome, and not seeing their way—a most consuming, exhausting trial. Yet it will, doubtless, all turn to good. Perhaps, if we knew all, we should know it is impossible for the elect of God to emerge from darkness to light in any other way. Such travail is necessary for the new birth. Perhaps if we saw our way too soon, there might be a re-action and old habits and associations might come over one again. I know too well of the state of those in doubt not to believe that the long trial of some is no sin of theirs, but God's way with them, imparting light slowly that He may impart it more effectually. My only dread is, and it is in some cases very great, when they are not, to all appearance, using the light given them, but shutting their eyes. And as doubt, long continued, may be the fiery process by which one person is brought into the Church, so the loss or alienation of friends by their conversion may be the divinely sent trial of others. It may be the gradual operation by which He prepares their own soul for the trial.

My paper will not let me say more. I am expecting daily a letter from Propaganda, which will determine whether I leave for Rome at the end of next month (June) or not. Keep this secret. I meant to write to you on receipt of it.

As to the reports about me Decipi vult populus et decipiatur. If I put letters with my name into the papers, and the people will not believe, what is to be done?
Ever yours affectionately,

P.S.—Don't tell—but I receive Minor Orders on the day before Trinity Sunday."

Gerard Serafin reminds us all....
that it is Chesterton's birthday.
Christopher posts lots of links in honor of the day.

Here is a lengthy, but magnificent, quote, from the great G.K.C.:
"To a Roman Catholic there is no particular difference between those parts of the religion which Protestants and others accept and those parts which they reject. The dogmas have, of course, their intrinsic theological proportions; but in his feeling they are all one thing. The Mass is as Christian as the Gospel. The Gospel is as Catholic as the Mass. This, I fancy, is the fact which the Protestant world has found it most difficult to understand and about which some of the most unfortunate forms of ill-feeling have appeared. Yet it arises quite naturally from the actual history of the Church, which has had to contend incessantly with quite other and quite opposite heresies. She has not only had to defeat these sects to defend these doctrines, but to defeat other sects to defend other doctrines including the doctrines which these sects rightly hold so dear. It was only the Roman Catholic Church that saved the Protestant truths. It may be right to rest on the Bible, but there would be no Bible if the Gnostics had proved that the Old Testament was written by the Devil, or had littered the world with Apocryphal Gospels. It may be right to say that Jesus alone saves from sin, but nobody would be saying it if a Pelagian movement had altered the whole notion of sin. Even the very selection of dogmas which the reformers decided to preserve had only been preserved for them by the authority which they denied.

It is natural, therefore, for Catholics not to be always thinking of the antithesis of Catholic and Protestant any more than of Catholic and Pelagian. Catholicism is used to proposals to cut down the creed to a few clauses; but different people have wanted quite different clauses left and quite different clauses cut out. Thus a Catholic does not feel the special reverence paid to the Mother of God as any more of a controversial question than the divine honours paid to the Son of God; for he knows the latter was as much controverted by the Arians as the former by the Puritans. He does not feel the throne of St. Peter to be any more specially in dispute than the theology of St. Paul, for he knows that both have been disputed. There have been anti-popes; there have been Apocryphal Gospels; there have been sects dethroning our Lady and sects dethroning our Lord. After nearly two thousand years of this sort of thing, Catholics have come to regard Catholicism as one thing, all the parts of which are in one sense equally assailed and in another sense equally unassailable.

Now it is unfortunately impossible for a Roman Catholic to state the principle without its sounding provocative and, what is much worse, superior; but unless he does state it, he does not state Roman Catholicism. Having stated it, however, in its dogmatic and defiant form, as it is his duty to do, he may afterwards suggest something of why the system seems, to those inside it, to be not so much a system as a home, and even a holiday. Thus it certainly does not mean being superior in the sense of supercilious; for in this system alone, only the saint is superior because he feels he is inferior. It does not say that all heretics are lost, for it does say that there is a common conscience by which they may be saved. But it does definitely say that he who knows the whole truth sins in accepting half the truth. Thus the Church is not a movement, like all those which have filled the world since the sixteenth century; that is, since the breakdown of the collective attempt of all Christendom to state the whole truth. It is not the movement of something trying to find its balance; it is the balance. But the point here is that even those heretics, who snatched at half-truths, seldom snatched at the same half. The original Protestants insisted on Hell without Purgatory. Their modern successors generally insist on Purgatory without Hell. Their future successors may quite possibly insist on Purgatory without Heaven. It may seem a natural sequence to the worship of Progress for its own sake, and the theory that 'to travel hopefully is better than to arrive.' For the Catholic each of these things may be disputed in its turn, and all will remain."

The Feast of St. Maximinus, Bishop
is today. There is information on him here.
It is also the feast of Blessed Richard Thirkeld, Priest and Martyr.

Friday, May 28, 2004

And a final few thank-yous...
for the St. Philip posts at Dappled Things, The Inn at the End of the World, and Republic of Virtue.

Mary is the "Virgo Potens," the Powerful Virgin
by Venerable John Henry Newman,C.O.

"This great universe, which we see by day and by night, or what is called the natural world, is ruled by fixed laws, which the Creator has imposed upon it, and by those wonderful laws is made secure against any substantial injury or loss. One portion of it may conflict with another, and there may be changes in it internally; but, viewed as a whole, it is adapted to stand for ever. Hence the Psalmist says, 'He has established the world, which shall not be moved.'

Such is the world of nature; but there is another and still more wonderful world. There is a power which avails to alter and subdue this visible world, and to suspend and counteract its laws; that is, the world of Angels and Saints, of Holy Church and her children; and the weapon by which they master its laws is the power of prayer.

By prayer all this may be done, which naturally is impossible. Noe prayed, and God said that there never again should be a flood to drown the race of man. Moses prayed, and ten grievous plagues fell upon the land of Egypt. Josue prayed, and the sun stood still. Samuel prayed, and thunder and rain came in wheat-harvest. Elias prayed, and brought down fire from heaven. Eliseus prayed, and the dead came to life. Ezechias prayed and the vast army of the Assyrians was smitten and perished.

This is why the Blessed Virgin is called Powerful -nay, sometimes, All-powerful, because she has, more than anyone else, more than all Angels and Saints, this great, prevailing gift of prayer. No one has access to the Almighty as His Mother has; none has merit such as hers. Her Son will deny her nothing that she asks; and herein lies her power. While she defends the Church, neither height nor depth, neither men nor evil spirits, neither great monarchs, nor craft of man, nor popular violence, can avail to harm us; for human life is short, but Mary reigns above, a Queen for ever."

Meditations and Devotions
Oh, great...
Between the Hindu extremists and these guys,things are even worse in India than I thought....
A note and a tech question...
I've added my friend's blog to my list. I must say, I really like his subtitle !
The tech question: how does one get links to line up under each other on a template instead of simply piling up next to each other the way my bloglist currently is ?
Mr. Mallon...
links to a priest who tells it like it is.

On a related note, I am disappointed with my own bishop's less-than-firm stand on denying the Sacrament to those who publicly defy the Church's stand on the sanctity of innocent human life. A friend's blog has a post on this which echoes my position.

The Feast of St. Bernard of Montjoux,O.S.A., Priest
is today. There is information on him here. He is best-known as the founder of the Alpine hospices which developed the breed of rescue dog named for him.
It is also the feast of Blessed John Shert, Priest and Martyr and Blessed Margaret Pole, Martyr. I went to an All Saints Day party dressed as Blessed Margaret back when I was in college.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Some more thank-yous
To Peony, Karen, Mark Sullivan and Otto Hiss for posting on St. Philip !

Urgent prayer request...
courtesy of Mark Shea.

Music at the Commemoration of Our Founder, St. Philip Neri
Processional Hymn: "O God Beyond All Praising"
Offertory: "Cantate Domino"- Hans Leo Hassler (1564=1612)
Communion: "Ave Verum"- Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Postcommunion: "Firmly I Believe and Truly"- Warwickshire Folk Tune, arranged by Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958)
Recessional Hymn: "God the Omnipotent"

The words of the Postcommunion are from The Dream of Gerontius by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.
"Firmly I believe and truly
God is three, and God is One;
And I next acknowledge duly
Manhood taken by the Son.

And I trust and hope most fully
In that Manhood crucified;
And each thought and deed unruly
Do to death, as He has died.

Simply to His grace and wholly
Light and life and strength belong,
And I love, supremely, solely,
Him the holy, Him the strong.

And I hold in veneration,
For the love of Him alone,
Holy Church, as His creation,
And her teachings, as His own.

Adoration aye be given,
With and through the angelic host,
To the God of earth and heaven,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. "

My friend Eric...
has a blog and he was kind enough to link to me yesterday.

Pray, pray...
for our our suffering brothers and sisters in Sudan.

Link courtesy of Mark Shea.

The Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury,O.S.B., Archbishop
is today. There is information on him here. Prayers for the return of England to Christ and His Church would be particularly appropriate today.
"St Augustine....the holy missionary..., who came to England and converted our pagan forefathers, and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury" -Venerable John Nenry Newman, C.O.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

To Earl Appleby, for quoting a selection of mine by the Venerable on St. Philip.
To TSO, for his very kind mention.

And finally, to the Pontificator, for his lovely Venerable Newman post.

Two little notes...
First off, I must confess that the biography of St. Philip I wrote has one error. You see, I read a biography which said that he was born on the Vigil of the Feast of St. Mary Magalene, so I assumed that meant that he was born on July 21. He was actually born on July 22- but at 2 am, so it was before sunrise and thus still the Vigil.
Secondly, I must confess that Lane Core is a bit too kind when he refers to my 'refurbished' blog. I'm afraid I'm too lazy to refurbish on my own. What actually happened is that my template got eaten by a bug and I had to start over.....

First off, here is a short biography.
You might want to check out the twelve-part biography that I wrote.

Here is a photograph of his body, which rests under one of the altars in Santa Maria in Vallicella (after his death a silver mask and silver mesh gloves were placed upon it), and photos of some paintings.

Here's a a lot of images of St. Philip. I'm rather fond of these two, which show him celebrating Mass.

Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O. preached this two-part sermon on the life of St. Philip, and composed a Litany of St. Philip Neri. Yours truly composed an Oratorian Litany.

There is this lovely passage from The Idea of a University.

Finally, a prayer, written by Venerable Newman, to invoke St. Philip's intercession:
"O my dear and holy Patron, Philip, I put myself into thy hands, and for the love of Jesus, for that love’s sake which chose and made thee a saint, I implore thee to pray for me, that, as He has brought thee to heaven, so in due time He may take me to heaven also.

And I beg of thee to gain for me a true devotion to the Holy Ghost, by means of that grace which He Himself, the Third Person of the glorious Trinity, bestows. Gain for me a portion of that overflowing devotion which thou hadst towards Him when thou wast on earth; for that, O my dear father, was one of thy special distinctions from other saints, that, though they all adored supremely and solely the Holy Ghost as their one God, yet thou, like Pope St. Gregory, the Apostle of England, didst adore Him not only in the unity of the Godhead, but also as proceeding from the Father and the Son, the gift of the Most High and the Giver of life.

Gain for me, O holy Philip, such a measure of thy devotion towards Him, that, as He did deign to come into thy heart miraculously and set it on fire with love, He may reward us too with some special and corresponding gift of grace. O Philip, let us not be the cold sons of so fervent a Father. It will be a great reproach to thee, if thou dost not make us in some measure like thyself. Gain for us the grace of prayer and meditation, power to command our thoughts and keep from distractions, and the gift of conversing with God without being wearied.

Heart of fire, Light of holy joy, Victim of love, pray for me."

A thank you to all those who have mentioned the feast on their blogs, including Gerard Serafin,John da Fiesole, Kevin MIller, and Lane Core. The last-named is also celebrating his Blogoversary today.
Update: Add Fr. Tharp to the list of St. Philip bloggers !

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

is St. Philip's Day !

Philip's Miraculous Gifts
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

"Philip's great and solid virtues were crowned and adorned by the divine Majesty with various and extraordinary favours, which he in vain used every artifice, if possible, to hide.

It was the good-pleasure of God to enable him to penetrate His ineffable mysteries and to know His marvellous providences by means of ecstasies, raptures, and visions, which were of frequent occurrence during the whole of his life.

A friend going one morning to confession to him, on opening the door of his room softly, saw the Saint in the act of prayer, raised upon his feet, his eyes looking to heaven, his hands extended. He stood for a while watching him, and then going close to him spoke to him—but the saint did not perceive him at all. This state of abstraction continued about eight minutes longer; then he came to himself.

He had the consolation of seeing in vision the souls of many, especially of his friends and penitents, go to heaven. Indeed, those who were intimate with him held it for certain, that none of his spiritual children died without his being certified of the state of their souls.

Philip, both by his sanctity and experience, was able to discriminate between true and false visions. He was earnest in warning men against being deluded, which is very easy and probable.

Philip was especially eminent, even among saints, for his gifts of foretelling the future and reading the heart. The examples of these gifts which might be produced would fill volumes. He foretold the deaths of some; he foretold the recovery of others; he foretold the future course of others; he foretold the births of children to those who were childless; he foretold who would be the Popes before their election; he had the gift of seeing things at a distance; and he knew what was going on in the minds of his penitents and others around him.

He knew whether his penitents had said their prayers, and for how long they were praying. Many of them when talking together, if led into any conversation which was dangerous or wrong, would say: 'We must stop, for St. Philip will find it out.'

Once a woman came to him to confession, when in reality she wished to get an alms. He said to her: 'In God's name, good woman, go away; there is no bread for you'-and nothing could induce him to hear her confession.

A man who went to confess to him did not speak, but began to tremble, and when asked, said, 'I am ashamed,' for he had committed a most grievous sin. Philip said gently: 'Do not be afraid; I will tell you what it was'-and, to the penitent's great astonishment, he told him.

Such instances are innumerable. There was not one person intimate with Philip who did not affirm that he knew the secrets of the heart most marvellously.

He was almost equally marvellous in his power of healing and restoring to health. He relieved pain by the touch of his hand and the sign of the Cross. And in the same way he cured diseases instantaneously—at other times by his prayers—at other times he commanded the diseases to depart.

This gift was so well known that sick persons got possession of his clothes, his shoes, the cuttings of his hair, and God wrought cures by means of them.

Philip, my holy Patron, the wounds and diseases of my soul are greater than bodily ones, and are beyond thy curing, even with thy supernatural power. I know that my Almighty Lord reserves in His own hands the recovery of the soul from death, and the healing of all its maladies. But thou canst do more for our souls by thy prayers now, my dear Saint, than thou didst for the bodies of those who applied to thee when thou wast upon earth. Pray for me, that the Divine Physician of the soul, Who alone reads my heart thoroughly, may cleanse it thoroughly, and that I and all who are dear to me may be cleansed from all our sins; and, since we must die, one and all, that we may die, as thou didst, in the grace and love of God, and with the assurance, like thee, of eternal life."

Our Protestant brothers and sisters in the Salvation Army...
are taking a stand against sexual perversion.
Deo gratias !

Link courtesy of Jeff Miller.

Mr. Miller also links to the story of a couple who have come home.

The Feast of St. Bede the Venerable,O.S.B., Priest and Doctor of the Church
is today. There is information on him here.
It is also the feast of Pope St. Gregory VII , St. Aldhelm, O.S.B., Bishop, St. Madeline Sophie Barat, Virgin and Foundress, and St.Mary Magdalen of Pazzi,O.Carm, Virgin.
In addition it is the feast of a large group of martyrs killed in the brutal persecutions in early 20th century Mexico.

It is also the anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of Fr. Drew Morgan of the Pittsburgh Oratory. Ad multos annos, Fr. Drew !

Monday, May 24, 2004

Only two days...
until St. Philip's Day !
Philip's Care for the Salvation of Souls
by Venerable John Henry Newman,C.O.

"When he was a young priest, and had gathered about him a number of spiritual persons, his first wish was to go with them all to preach the gospel to the heathen of India, where St. Francis Xavier was engaged in his wonderful career—and he only gave up the idea in obedience to the holy men whom he consulted.

As to bad Christians at home, such extreme desire had he for their conversion, that even when he was old he took severe disciplines in their behalf, and wept for their sins as if they had been his own.

While a layman, he converted by one sermon thirty dissolute youths.

He was successful, under the grace of God, in bringing back almost an infinite number of sinners to the paths of holiness. Many at the hour of death cried out, 'Blessed be the day when first I came to know Father Philip!' Others, 'Father Philip draws souls to him as the magnet draws iron.'

With a view to the fulfilment of what he considered his special mission, he gave himself up entirely to hearing confessions, exclusive of every other employment. Before sunrise he had generally confessed a good number of penitents in his own room. He went down into the church at daybreak, and never left it till noon, except to say Mass. If no penitents came, he remained near his confessional, reading, saying office, or telling his beads. If he was at prayer, if at his meals, he at once broke off when his penitents came.

He never intermitted his hearing of confessions for any illness, unless the physician forbade it.

For the same reason he kept his room-door open, so that he was exposed to the view of everyone who passed it.

He had a particular anxiety about boys and young men. He was most anxious to have them always occupied, for he knew that idleness was the parent of every evil. Sometimes he made work for them, when he could not find any.

He let them make what noise they pleased about him, if in so doing he was keeping them from temptation. When a friend remonstrated with him for letting them so interfere with him, he made answer: 'So long as they do not sin, they may chop wood upon my back.'

He was allowed by the Dominican Fathers to take out their novices for recreation. He used to delight to see them at their holiday meal. He used to say, 'Eat, my sons, and do not scruple about it, for it makes me fat to watch you;' and then, when dinner was over, he made them sit in a ring around him,and told them the secrets of their hearts, and gave them good advice, and exhorted them to virtue.

He had a remarkable power of consoling the sick, and of delivering them from the temptations with which the devil assails them.

To his zeal for the conversion of souls, Philip always joined the exercise of corporal acts of mercy. He visited the sick in the hospitals, served them in all their necessities, made their beds, swept the floor round them, and gave them their meals.

Philip, my holy Patron, who wast so careful for the souls of thy brethren, and especially of thy own people, when on earth, slack not thy care of them now, when thou art in heaven. Be with us, who are thy children and thy clients; and, with thy greater power with God, and with thy more intimate insight into our needs and our dangers, guide us along the path which leads to God and to thee. Be to us a good father; make our priests blameless and beyond reproach or scandal; make our children obedient, our youth prudent and chaste, our heads of families wise and gentle, our old people cheerful and fervent, and build us up, by thy powerful intercessions, in faith, hope, charity, and all virtues."

Pro-life people have been warning that this would happen for many years...

Chinese officials warn of gender imbalance

Link courtesy of Extreme Catholic.

Lovely, heart-breaking post...
over at Mr. Shea's blog.
The Feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians
is today. There is information on it here.
It is also the feast of St. Joanna, who was one of the women who went to the empty tomb of Our Lord, and of a saint who followed an unsual method of getting away from it all to pray- St. Simeon Stylites the Younger, Priest.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Almost there !
Three days until St. Philip's Day !

Philip's Patience
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

"Philip was for years and years the butt and laughing-stock of all the hangers-on of the great palaces of the nobility at Rome, who said all the bad of him that came into their heads, because they did not like to see a virtuous and conscientious man.

This sarcastic talk against him lasted for years and years; so that Rome was full of it, and through all the shops and counting-houses the idlers and evil livers did nothing but ridicule Philip.

When they fixed some calumny upon him, he did not take it in the least amiss, but with the greatest calmness contented himself with a simple smile.

Once a gentleman's servant began to abuse him so insolently that a person of consideration, who witnessed the insult, was about to lay hands on him; but, when he saw with what gentleness and cheerfulness Philip took it, he restrained himself, and ever after counted Philip as a saint.

Sometimes his own spiritual children, and even those who lay under the greatest obligations to him, treated him as if he were a rude and foolish person; but he did not show any resentment.

Once, when he was Superior of the Congregation, one of his subjects snatched a letter out of his hand; but the saint took the affront with incomparable meekness, and neither in look, nor word, nor in gesture betrayed the slightest emotion.

Patience had so completely become a habit with him, that he was never seen in a passion. He checked the first movement of resentful feeling; his countenance calmed instantly, and he reassumed his usual modest smile.

Philip, my holy Advocate, who didst bear persecution and calumny, pain and sickness, with so admirable a patience, gain for me the grace of true fortitude under all the trials of this life. Alas! how do I need patience! I shrink from every small inconvenience; I sicken under every light affliction; I fire up at every trifling contradiction; I fret and am cross at every little suffering of body. Gain for me the grace to enter with hearty good-will into all such crosses as I may receive day by day from my Heavenly Father. Let me imitate thee, as thou didst imitate my Lord and Saviour, that so, as thou hast attained heaven by thy calm endurance of bodily and mental pain, I too may attain the merit of patience, and the reward of life everlasting."

And I thought the US has problems...
The Antipodean laments some truly insane proposals being made in his country.
On this day in 1551
a man from Florence was ordained to the priesthood in Rome, in the church of San Tomasso in Parione. From this, God eventually brought more good than that man could have possibly imagined.

Happy anniversary, St. Philip ! And I'm glad to see that I wasn't the only one to remember !

Music at the 11:30 am Mass
Processional Hymn: "Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise"
Offertory: "Cantate Domino" - Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)
Communion: "Ave Verum" - Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Recessional Hymn: "Crown Him With Many Crowns"