Friday, October 01, 2004

From Parochial and Plain Sermons
by Venerable John Henry Newman:

Christ has so willed it, that we should get at the Truth, not by ingenious speculations, reasonings, or investigations of our own, but by teaching. The Holy Church has been set up from the beginning as a solemn religious fact, so to call it,—as a picture, a revelation of the next world, as itself the Christian Dispensation, and so in one sense the witness of its own divinity, as is the Natural World. Now those who in the first place receive her words, have the minds of children, who do not reason, but obey their mother; and those who from the first refuse, as clearly fall short of children, in that they trust their own powers for arriving at truth, rather than informants which are external to them.

The Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, O.C.D, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
is today. There is information on her here. A blessed feast to all the Carmelites out there, especially the gentleman at Flos Carmeli and Sr. Claire Benedicta of the Cross, O.C.D. !

From careful study of the writings of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and from the resonance they have had in the Church, salient aspects can be noted of her "eminent doctrine", which is the fundamental element for conferring the title of Doctor of the Church.

First of all, we find a special charism of wisdom. This young Carmelite, without any particular theological training, but illumined by the light of the Gospel, feels she is being taught by the divine Teacher who, as she says, is "the Doctor of Doctors" (Ms A, 83v·), and from him she receives "divine teachings" (Ms B, 1r·). She feels that the words of Scripture are fulfilled in her: "Whoever is a little one, let him come to me.... For to him that is little, mercy shall be shown" (Ms B, 1v·; cf. Prv 9:4; Wis 6:6) and she knows she is being instructed in the science of love, hidden from the wise and prudent, which the divine Teacher deigned to reveal to her, as to babes (Ms A, 49r·; cf. Lk 10:21-22).

Pius XI, who considered Thérèse of Lisieux the "Star of his pontificate", did not hesitate to assert in his homily on the day of her canonization, 17 May 1925: "The Spirit of truth opened and made known to her what he usually hides from the wise and prudent and reveals to little ones; thus she enjoyed such knowledge of the things above - as Our immediate Predecessor attests - that she shows everyone else the sure way of salvation" (AAS 17 [1925], p. 213).

Her teaching not only conforms to Scripture and the Catholic faith, but excels ("eminet") for the depth and wise synthesis it achieved. Her doctrine is at once a confession of the Church's faith, an experience of the Christian mystery and a way to holiness. Thérèse offers a mature synthesis of Christian spirituality: she combines theology and the spiritual life; she expresses herself with strength and authority, with a great ability to persuade and communicate, as is shown by the reception and dissemination of her message among the People of God.

Thérèse's teaching expresses with coherence and harmonious unity the dogmas of the Christian faith as a doctrine of truth and an experience of life. In this regard it should not be forgotten that the understanding of the deposit of faith transmitted by the Apostles, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, makes progress in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit: "There is growth in insight into the realities and words that are passed on... through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts (cf. Lk 2:19 and 51). It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth" (Dei Verbum, n. 8).

In the writings of Thérèse of Lisieux we do not find perhaps, as in other Doctors, a scholarly presentation of the things of God, but we can discern an enlightened witness of faith which, while accepting with trusting love God's merciful condescension and salvation in Christ, reveals the mystery and holiness of the Church.

Thus we can rightly recognize in the Saint of Lisieux the charism of a Doctor of the Church, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit she received for living and expressing her experience of faith, and because of her particular understanding of the mystery of Christ. In her are found the gifts of the new law, that is, the grace of the Holy Spirit, who manifests himself in living faith working through charity (cf. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol., I-II, q. 106, art. 1; q. 108, art. 1).

We can apply to Thérèse of Lisieux what my Predecessor Paul VI said of another young Saint and Doctor of the Church, Catherine of Siena: "What strikes us most about the Saint is her infused wisdom, that is to say, her lucid, profound and inebriating absorption of the divine truths and mysteries of faith.... That assimilation was certainly favored by the most singular natural gifts, but it was also evidently something prodigious, due to a charism of wisdom from the Holy Spirit" (AAS 62 [1970], p. 675).

Pope John Paul II, Divini Amoris Scientia

It is also the feast of St. Romanos the Melodist, Deacon, and of Blessed Edward James and Blessed John Robinson, Priests and Martyrs.

has a great quote from the Venerable.

The Kerry campaign makes another...
brilliant move. You'd think the earlier incident would have warned them that anywhere within 15 miles of Steubenville is not friendly territory for those favoring the elective killing of unborn children.

Link courtesy of Mark Shea.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

The August/September First Things
is now online.

Here a sample from the "While We're At It" section by Fr. Neuhaus:

This is a true story. At least the Seattle Times says so. Two lesbians living together decide they want a baby, so one gets pregnant with the help of sperm from a gay friend and a daughter is born. The two women break up and, after a while, the mother marries the gay friend. Now, with the help of the ACLU and gay activist lawyers who know that a gay man cannot go straight, the other woman goes to court to claim parental rights on the grounds that she was living with the mother when the mother became a mother and is, therefore, also a mother. As of this writing, she and her attorneys expect to prevail. Andrew Sullivan would no doubt point out that such confusion and heartbreak would be avoided if we had same-sex marriage. Then the two lesbians could simply have obtained a divorce before the one remarried, and well-established rules would apply regarding visitation rights and other claims on the child. In short, this situation would be, in Mr. Sullivan’s favored phrase, virtually normal—it being assumed that virtual normality is about as much normality as our society can manage.

On September 30, 1860
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive:

The Holy Angels

1. INTROD.—About guardian angel.

2. The different works of angels. The word [angelos] denotes work and service.

3. What orders of angels have to do with this universe? The lowest, i.e. the angels, are the ministers. Mundane or exterior, and heavenly or domestic works. Extraordinary missions—the cherubim of Eden [Gen. iii. 24]—the seraph [in] Isaias [vi. 6, purifying the prophet's lips with living coal from the altar]—Gabriel and Mary [the Annunciation]. One [angel] making charge over to another to execute.

4. First work—'rolling the heavens' [i.e. directing the movements of the heavenly bodies]—science need not [be supposed to have] superseded this—see my sermon, Parochial, etc., vol. ii. [The Powers of Nature. Feast of St. Michael, etc.]—John v. [Pool of Bethsaida].

5. Second work—guardians of nations, provinces, cities, bishopricks, churches. 'Let us depart hence.'

6. Of individuals. Every one from the time of the soul's creation to death. And every one. Judas, Antichrist.

7. St. Frances of Rome.

8. (1) Odiousness of the charge, e.g. St. Paul linked to a soldier; (2) condescension, etc.; (3) encouragement to us, and comfort.

The Pontificator...
quotes the Professor yet again.

The Feast of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
is today. There is information on him here. I posted a verse on him by Phyllis McGinley last year.
It is also the feast of St. Gregory the Illuminator,Bishop , and St. Honoratus of Canterbury,O.S.B., Bishop .

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

From an extremely obscure codex...
I am the Very Model of a Modern Vicar-General
On September 29, 1843
Venerable John Henry Newman, who was in the midst of resigning his ministry as an Anglican clergyman, wrote to his sister Harriett:

I do so despair of the Church of England, and am so evidently cast off by her, and, on the other hand, I am so drawn to the Church of Rome, that I think it safer, as a matter of honesty, not to keep my living.

This is a very different thing from having any intention of joining the Church of Rome. However, to avow generally as much as I have said would be wrong for ten thousand reasons. People cannot understand a man being in a state of doubt, of misgiving, of being unequal to responsibilities, &c.; but they will conclude that he has clear views either one way or the other. All I know is, that I could not without hypocrisy profess myself any longer a teacher and a champion for our Church.

Very few persons know this—hardly one person, only one (I think) in Oxford, viz. James Mozley. I think it would be most cruel, most unkind, most unsettling to tell them.

My dear Harriett, you must learn patience, so must we all, and resignation to the will of God.

Harriett refused to speak to her brother after his reception into the Catholic Church, and until she died she insisted that he would reconsider and become Anglican again. She had not reconciled with him when she died in 1852.

The Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels
is today. There is information on them here, here, and here. A blessed feast day to all who have these mighty beings as patrons, especially Fr. Michael of the Pittsburgh Oratory, Michael who is discerning a vocation to the Pittsburgh Oratory, and Michael who is a member of the Pittsburgh Secular Oratory !
Last year, I posted a verse from the Venerable on St. Michael.

On today's Festival it well becomes us to direct our minds to the thought of those Blessed Servants of God, who have never tasted of sin; who are among us, though unseen, ever serving God joyfully on earth as well as in heaven; who minister, through their Maker's condescending will, to the redeemed in Christ, the heirs of salvation.

There have been ages of the world, in which men have thought too much of Angels, and paid them excessive honour; honoured them so perversely as to forget the supreme worship due to Almighty God. This is the sin of a dark age. But the sin of what is called an educated age, such as our own, is just the reverse: to account slightly of them, or not at all; to ascribe all we see around us, not to their agency, but to certain assumed laws of nature. This, I say, is likely to be our sin, in proportion as we are initiated into the learning of this world;—and this is the danger of many (so called) philosophical pursuits, now in fashion, and recommended zealously to the notice of large portions of the community, hitherto strangers to them,—chemistry, geology, and the like; the danger, that is, of resting in things seen, and forgetting unseen things, and our ignorance about them.

Venerable John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

On September 28, 1851
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive:

On the M. Addolorata—the Seven Dolours

1. INTROD.—The usual representation which painters make of our Lord and His mother is that of virgin and child. Describe the peaceful virgin, secure because she has Him, and He the Life and Light. Hence she the Seat of Wisdom, etc., etc.

2. But let thirty years pass, and there is a great change come over the picture. It melts into something different. He is taken up from her soft arms. He is lifted aloft. Something else embraces Him. He is in the arms of the cross. There He lies not easily, etc. He has grown to man's estate. He has been scourged, etc. And she is standing still, but it is at His feet. She can be of no use to Him; she can only lament. How the group is changed! He is covered with wounds; she is almost killed with grief.

Such is the picture which the Church puts before us today, and that because, we may suppose, Easter is so long past.

3. Well, as to the sufferings of the Son of God, they are awful mysteries; but they need not surprise us, for He comes to suffer. He indeed might have saved us without suffering, but it was in fact bound up in His coming. He was a combatant—combatants suffer. He was prophesied as a warrior and man of blood. He fought with the devil. He fought with sin, not indeed His own, but sin was imputed to Him. He came in the place and character of a sinner: no wonder He should suffer.

4. But there was one who neither sinned nor took on her the character of a sinner. What had she to do with blood, or wounds, or grief? She had ever lived in private; she bore Him without pain; she had never come forward. She had on the whole been sheltered from the world, yet she suffered. This makes Mary's suffering so peculiar. She is the queen of martyrs.

5. Yet she too was to suffer. She is innocent, so harmless, not provoking the devil, etc. She was to suffer, and be the queen of martyrs. Joseph was taken away; she remained.

6. It is true she was not to undergo that bodily pain and violent death which literally makes a martyr. He alone suffered all who died for all. He alone suffered bodily and mentally. Her tender flesh was not scourged, but His was; her virginal form was not rudely exposed, but His was. All this would have been unseemly and unnecessary. He was to save us by that body and blood which she furnished; not she. He was to be made a sacrament for us as well as a sacrifice.

7. Yet she was privileged to share the acutest part of His sufferings, the mental, once she came into the midst, at His crucifixion.

8. Mental pain all in a moment, like a spear; despondency, sinking of nerves; no support.

9. Yet she stood.

10. Surely it quite changed her outward appearance to the end of her life.

I've added a new blog to my list...


Link courtesy of Catholic Light.

Monday, September 27, 2004

On September 27, 1856
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., wrote the following:

A Short Road to Perfection

It is the saying of holy men that, if we wish to be perfect, we have nothing more to do than to perform the ordinary duties of the day well. A short road to perfection—short, not because easy, but because pertinent and intelligible. There are no short ways to perfection, but there are sure ones.

I think this is an instruction which may be of great practical use to persons like ourselves. It is easy to have vague ideas what perfection is, which serve well enough to talk about, when we do not intend to aim at it; but as soon as a person really desires and sets about seeking it himself, he is dissatisfied with anything but what is tangible and clear, and constitutes some sort of direction towards the practice of it.

We must bear in mind what is meant by perfection. It does not mean any extraordinary service, anything out of the way, or especially heroic—not all have the opportunity of heroic acts, of sufferings—but it means what the word perfection ordinarily means. By perfect we mean that which has no flaw in it, that which is complete, that which is consistent, that which is sound—we mean the opposite to imperfect. As we know well what imperfection in religious service means, we know by the contrast what is meant by perfection.

He, then, is perfect who does the work of the day perfectly, and we need not go beyond this to seek for perfection. You need not go out of the round of the day.

I insist on this because I think it will simplify our views, and fix our exertions on a definite aim. If you ask me what you are to do in order to be perfect, I say, first—Do not lie in bed beyond the due time of rising; give your first thoughts to God; make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament; say the Angelus devoutly; eat and drink to God’s glory; say the Rosary well; be recollected; keep out bad thoughts; make your evening meditation well; examine yourself daily; go to bed in good time, and you are already perfect.

Meditations and Devotions
The Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, C.M., Priest and Founder
is today. There is information on him here. To any Vincentians, Daughters of Charity, members of the St. Vincent de Paul society or others who have him as a special patron, blessed feast day !

Sunday, September 26, 2004

From Discourses to Mixed Congregations
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

St. Paul on one occasion speaks of the world as a scene in a theatre. Consider what is meant by this. You know, actors on a stage are on an equality with each other really, but for the occasion they assume a difference of character; some are high, some are low, some are merry, and some sad. Well, would it not be a simple absurdity in any actor to pride himself on his mock diadem, or his edgeless sword, instead of attending to his part? what, if he did but gaze at himself and his dress? what, if he secreted, or turned to his own use, what was valuable in it? Is it not his business, and nothing else, to act his part well? common sense tells us so. Now we are all but actors in this world; we are one and all equal, we shall be judged as equals as soon as life is over; yet, equal and similar in ourselves, each has his special part at present, each has his work, each has his mission,—not to indulge his passions, not to make money, not to get a name in the world, not to save himself trouble, not to follow his bent, not to be selfish and self-willed, but to do what God puts on him to do.

Look at that poor profligate in the Gospel, look at Dives; do you think he understood that his wealth was to be spent, not on himself, but for the glory of God?—yet for forgetting this, he was lost for ever and ever. I will tell you what he thought, and how he viewed things:—he was a young man, and had succeeded to a good estate, and he determined to enjoy himself. It did not strike him that his wealth had any other use than that of enabling him to take his pleasure. Lazarus lay at his gate; he might have relieved Lazarus; that was God's will; but he managed to put conscience aside, and he persuaded himself he should be a fool, if he did not make the most of this world, while he had the means. So he resolved to have his fill of pleasure; and feasting was to his mind a principal part of it. "He fared sumptuously every day;" everything belonging to him was in the best style, as men speak; his house, his furniture, his plate of silver and gold, his attendants, his establishments. Everything was for enjoyment, and for show too; to attract the eyes of the world, and to gain the applause and admiration of his equals, who were the companions of his sins. These companions were doubtless such as became a person of such pretensions; they were fashionable men; a collection of refined, high-bred, haughty men, eating, not gluttonously, but what was rare and costly; delicate, exact, fastidious in their taste, from their very habits of indulgence; not eating for the mere sake of eating, or drinking for the mere sake of drinking, but making a sort of science of their sensuality; sensual, carnal, as flesh and blood can be, with eyes, ears, tongue, steeped in impurity, every thought, look, and sense, witnessing or ministering to the evil one who ruled them; yet, with exquisite correctness of idea and judgment, laying down rules for sinning;—heartless and selfish, high, punctilious, and disdainful in their outward deportment, and shrinking from Lazarus, who lay at the gate, as an eye-sore, who ought for the sake of decency to be put out of the way. Dives was one of such, and so he lived his short span, thinking of nothing, loving nothing, but himself, till one day he got into a fatal quarrel with one of his godless associates, or he caught some bad illness; and then he lay helpless on his bed of pain, cursing fortune and his physician, that he was no better, and impatient that he was thus kept from enjoying his youth, trying to fancy himself mending when he was getting worse, and disgusted at those who would not throw him some word of comfort in his suspense, and turning more resolutely from his Creator in proportion to his suffering;—and then at last his day came, and he died, and (oh! miserable!) "was buried in hell". And so ended he and his mission.

has an article on the cause of a fellow Secular Oratorian. (They don't mention that, but at least they mention that his spiritual director was an Oratorian priest.
Also, Fr. Ethan has a post on the Congregations of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri.
Fr. Tucker..
links to a post on liturgical screw-ups.
I've noted a few on my blog before, such as the reader who announced "A reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Philippines", and the one who said that when Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac, he went to "the land of Moria". However, the best example I know of happened when I was not there...but boy did I ever hear about it !

A group of students on retreat were praying . The words were on copied sheets, not in books. The reading was from Isaiah, and it included this verse.

Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own....

Isaiah 58:7

Suddenly, the whole group burst out laughing. A "w" had been left out, so they were being urged to "clothe the naked hen" !

If it were not Sunday...
today would be the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs. It would also be the feast of St. Nilus the Younger, C.S.B., Abbot, and St. Marie Victoire Therese Couderc, R.C.,Virgin and Foundress .

Music at the Noon Mass
Processional Hymn: "Crown Him With Many Crowns"
Offertory: "Adoro Te Devote"- Charles Gounod (1818-1893)
Communion: "Come Down, O Love Divine"- Down Ampney, arr. Ralph Vaughn Williams ( 1872-1958)
Recessional Hymn: "The Church's One Foundation"