Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Feast of St. Thomas a Becket, Archbishop and Martyr
is today. There is information on him here.

On this date in 1850, Venerable John Henry Newman,C.O., preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive:

On the Office of the Church—St. Thomas the Martyr
1. INTROD.—This is the birthday of a great saint, one of the greatest of English saints, whose fame has gone out, etc.; a saint of the universal Church, especially known in France, North Italy, Roman States, etc.; nay, whose feast is embodied in the octave of Christmas.

2. His manner of death.

3. What did he die for? If you ask a Protestant history, it will mention some minute ground, some question of detail, of course; but, if examined, for that which is ever the cause of battle between the world and the Church. Parallel it to the early age, a grain of incense; the present moment, calling bishops bishops of sees, etc. But all these are accidents—the ground, one and the same.

4. To explain this I must go into the subject. State of the world before Christ came—the world left to itself; doubt and inquiry; philosophers; pagans; yet no known truth. Philosophers felt it impossible to throw truth into a popular form. Hence they were tempted to believe there was no truth. Great difference between religious truth and scientific, etc. We can get to sciences of geology, etc., because we start from what we see, but who shall tell the designs of the Divine Mind?

5. Prophecy of a Teacher—voice behind thee [?]—a law—a light (Isaias ix.)—Isaias xxv.—Thus a master, or guide, or monitor to be set up.

6. Such is the one province which Christianity was to fulfil. Now Protestants think this fulfilled in the Bible. But the Bible has not in fact been the means. (1) The majority have not been able to read. (2) And now fifty years' experience shows it is not God's way . (3) Nor can it be, for a book does not speak; it is shut till it is opened. A law cannot enforce itself; it implies an executive; not a book instead of a physician, etc. (4) It is nowhere said in Scripture that Scripture was to be the guide, but it is said what is to fight with the gates of hell, viz.

7. the Church—texts. This is set up, and did exist before, etc., in all lands to appeal to high and low, to all ranks and callings—(enlarge). To moderate, and in a certain sense to interfere, viz. with the conscience—on the misery of princes being made so much of from youth—to give the law and to teach the faith.

8. This is the quarrel—the world does not like to be taught. (The Jewish kings did not like prophets.) The Church interferes with it; she lifts up a witness. Men regret the old pagan times when each could say and think what he pleased. Kings and ministers, etc., etc., don't like to be interfered with.

9. This, then, was the world's quarrel with St. Thomas. Henry II. felt the Protestant ground just as the meetings now held do—it is the same spirit—therefore does the world persecute us now. When, then, men object that we interfere with conscience, etc., etc., we say 'yes.' And if we did not, we should not be the Church; if we did not, there would be no good in a Church.

10. And you may be sure that the Church will never betray its trust.

It is also the feast of a later English martyr, Blessed William Howard.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

From Parochial and Plain Sermons
by Venerable John Henry Newman

It is surely right and meet thus to celebrate the death of the Holy Innocents: for it was a blessed one. To be brought near to Christ, and to suffer for Christ, is surely an unspeakable privilege; to suffer anyhow, even unconsciously. The little children whom He took up in his arms, were not conscious of His loving condescension; but was it no privilege when He blessed them? Surely this massacre had in it the nature of a Sacrament; it was a pledge of the love of the Son of God towards those who were included in it. All who came near Him, more or less suffered by approaching Him, just as if earthly pain and trouble went out of Him, as some precious virtue for the good of their souls;—and these infants in the number.

The Catholic Carnival...
is small this week, but it is up.
The Feast of the Holy Innocents
is today. There is information on them here. Prayers for today's threatened innocents would be appropriate.

Upon the Infant Martyrs
by Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)

To see both mingled in one flood,
The mothers' milk, the children's blood,
Makes me doubt if heaven will gather
Roses hence, or lilies rather.

Prayers are also requested for Fr. Michael, whose anniversary of priestly ordination is today.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

From Addresses to Cardinal Newman with His Replies
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

Now the family is, even humanly considered, a sacred thing; how much more the family bound together by supernatural ties, and, above all, that in which God dwelt with His Blessed Mother. This is what I should most wish you to remember in future years. For you will all of you have to go out into the world, and going out into the world means leaving home; and, my dear boys, you don't now know what the world is. You look forward to the time when you will go out into the world, and it seems to you very bright and full of promise. It is not wrong for you to look forward to that time; but most men who know the world find it a world of great trouble and disappointments and even of misery. If it turns out so to you, seek a home in the Holy Family that you think about in the mysteries of the Rosary. School-boys know the difference between school and home. You often hear grown-up people say that the happiest time of their life was that passed at school; but you know that when they were at school they had a still happier time, which was when they went home; that shows there is a good in home which cannot be found elsewhere. So that even if the world should actually prove to be all that you now fancy it to be, if it should bring you all that you could wish, yet you ought to have in the Holy Family a home with a holiness and sweetness about it that cannot be found elsewhere.

(This is taken from an address the Venerable made to the School-Boys of St. Mary's College, Oscott)

Music at Noon Mass
Processional Hymn: "O Little Town of Bethlehem"
Recessional Hymn: "Joy to the World!"
Music at Christmas Midnight Mass
A Festival of Carols:
"Once In Royal David's City"- Congregation and Choir
"Ding, Dong! Merrily On High"- 16th century French tune- Choir
"Up! Good Christen Folk, and Listen" - Piae Cantiones, 1582- Choir
"Angels We Have Heard on High"- Congregation and Choir
"The Infant King" - Basque Noel- Choir
"God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" - Congregation and Choir
"This is the Truth Sent from Above"- Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958)- Choir
"Silent Night"- Congregation and Choir

Processional Hymn: "O Come, All Ye Faithful"
Offertory: "Puer Nobis Nascitur" - Traditional German Chorale- (1500's)
Communion: "Salve Virgo Singularis" - Chant
"When Blossoms Flowered 'Mid the Snows"- Pietro Yon (1886-1943)
Recessional Hymn: "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing!"