Friday, September 30, 2011

The words that changed the Church

                                                          See if you can guess what the definition leaves out

The complete definition of the Mass from the original, 1969 Novus Ordo Missae:

"7. The Lord's Supper, or Mass, is the sacred meeting or congregation of the people of God assembled, the priest presiding, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord. For this reason, Christ's promise applies eminently to such a local gathering of the Church: 'Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst' (Mt. 18:20)."

The reverberations are still felt, and in most places are as loud as ever.   Rorate Caeli has more here.

Sacred Host, offered for the salvation of sinners, have mercy on us.

Straining at a gnat

                                                          David Koch - don't be fooled by his mild appearance

The prospect of accepting a $9 million donation from the (eek!) Republicans at the Koch Foundation has the Jesuits at Loyola University of New Orleans in a tizzy. (h/t Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit)

UPDATE:  The library at Loyola University of New Orleans is named for the late J. Edgar Monroe.  It opened in 1999.  Here is J. Edgar Monroe's former dilatory domicile in Newport, Rhode Island:

Do you suppose Mr. Monroe's views on freedom, justice and economic markets were any more closely aligned with the Jesuits than those of Mr. Koch? 

St. Ignatius, pray for us.

Hail, holy priest and translator

                                                           "St. Jerome" by Caravaggio

Today is the feast of St. Jerome ( ca. 340 AD -  420 AD).  Although he wrote many commentaries on scripture, engaged in forceful disputation with the heretical Pelagians, and conducted a broad correspondence, much of which survives, St. Jerome is today best known for his Latin translation of the scriptures, which came to be known as the versio vulgata ("the commonly used version"), or Vulgate.  Pope Damasus, for whom St. Jerome served as secretary, commissioned St. Jerome to revise the Latin translations of the New Testament.  This task was largely completed by the time of Pope Damasus' death in 384 AD.   St. Jerome subsequently left Rome and settled in Bethlehem, where he undertook the labor of translating the Old Testament into Latin from the original Hebrew texts, called the Tanakh.  Certain books of the Old Testament are not found in the Tanakh, and these St. Jerome translated from the Aramaic or the Greek.  For other books found only in Latin, St. Jerome largely retained the previous Latin renderings. 

Here is the beginning of the Book of Genesis from the Vulgate:

in principio creavit Deus caelum et terram
terra autem erat inanis et vacua et tenebrae super faciem abyssi 
et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas
dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux

St. Jerome, pray for us.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mary, Mother of the Unborn

Remarkable story from Gregory Pfundstein at the Catholic Thing regarding abortion, the power of prayer and the largely forgotten power of sacramentals.

Here is the prayer:

O Mary, Mother of the Unborn,
protect the gift of human life which your
Divine Son has allowed to be given.

Give strength and joy to all parents as
they await the birth of the precious
child they have conceived.

Give courage to those who are fearful,
calm those who are anxious and guide
all of us, with your motherly care, to
treasure and protect the miraculous gift
of human life.

We ask this through your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen


Happy Michaelmas Day!

                         "St. Michael the Archangel," Hamburg, Germany

Today is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. It's also the feast of the Archangel Gabriel and the Archangel Raphael (see Catholic Encyclopedia articles here and here ).

Angels are not to be dismissed as trifling, pious whimsy.  Not only have angels inspired serious reflection from such fine theological minds as St. Basil, St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Bonaventure, but Catholic tradition has accorded them important offices.  For instance, tradition, in accordance with scripture, gives the following duties to St. Michael:

    - To fight against Satan.
    - To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death.
    - To be the champion of God's people, the Jews in the Old Law, the Christians in the New Testament; therefore he was the patron of the Church, and of the orders of knights during the Middle Ages.
    - To call away from earth and bring men's souls to judgment ("signifer S. Michael repraesentet eas in lucam sanctam", Offert. Miss Defunct. "Constituit eum principem super animas suscipiendas", Antiph. off. Cf. The Shepherd of Hermas, Book III, Similitude 8, Chapter 3).

It is fitting, then, on the feast of St. Michael the Archangel to pray: 

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen


Just the usual battle between meaning and non-meaning

                                               Secular is groovier

With non-meaning triumphant, this time.  The BBC adopts division of history into "CE" and "BCE" rather than BC and AD, because it is "secular," which the modern mind equates with nice, cool, and proper.

However, it is also absurd.  As Francis Philips notes:

[In the words of] Leofranc Holford-Strevens, author of A Short History of Time (2005) . . .: “If [this timeline] does not commemorate the birth of Christ it has no business to exist at all, for no other event of world-historical significance took place in either 1 BC or AD 1… Although, as a date for the birth of Jesus Christ, the epoch is almost certainly wrong, it remains a commemoration of that event. Attractive, especially in a globalised age, as a purely secular era may appear, the Christian era cannot be made secular by denying its origin.”

Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Don't forget your Birkenstocks

                                       By their foot you shall know them

America, the Jesuit magazine, has news of "an intriguing Jesuit initiative" called "Magis."  Magis is sort of the Jesuit version of World Youth Day, only without the pope.  Also without much Catholicism.  Instead, "participants at Magis got involved in a variety of activities related with social engagements (e.g., migrants, childhood, minorities, persons with disabilities), culture and arts (music, photography, restoration), spirituality (pilgrimages), and also ecology."

Do the Jesuits aim to provide the last stop on the way out of the Faith, or the first stop on the way in? 

St. Ignatius Loyola, pray for us.

Communion handling weakens faith in Real Presence

Rorate Caeli calls Communion handling  the gravest problem of the "Ordinary Form."   Mother Teresa was of the same mind.  Pope Paul VI permitted Communion handling "in special circumstances."  So, naturally, it happens everywhere and all the time.

As the Servant of God Father John Hardon, S.J. wrote, “Behind Communion in the hand-I wish to repeat and make as plain as I can-is a weakening, a conscious, a deliberate weakening of faith in the Real Presence.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, great theologian of the Real Presence, pray for us.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No "Simple English Propers" for me

                                          She's not going away anytime soon

Last Sunday, the local parish started introducing portions of the new Missal.  The change from old to new is evidently meant to be seamless and undetectable, because so far it's a matter of an additional note or word or two crammed into the lamentable old settings.  Worse, it served as an opportunity for the the leader of song to yack it up at the microphone even more than usual.

And I'd had such hopes.  Still, I know that somewhere, some lucky parish is singing "Simple English Propers," and that thought gives me joy.  

Saint Cecilia, patron of Church music, pray for us.

Hail, Saintly Apostle to the Poor and Founder of Religious Congregations

Today is the feast of St. Vincent de Paul (1580 AD  - 1660 AD).  Through energetic devotion to the Gospel, St. Vincent accomplished good works sufficient to fill the lifetimes of a dozen saints.  From a peasant background, St. Vincent studied for the priesthood at Dax and Toulouse.  While travelling by sea from Marseilles, where he'd gone to collect a legacy, St. Vincent was captured by Turkish pirates and sold as a slave in Tunis.  St. Vincent's mild goodness converted his master, and the two fled together to France.  His wisdom and ability led to St. Vincent's appointment as chaplain and tutor to several noble families, but with the approval of his employers, the saint left these positions in order to evangelize the poverty-stricken country people of France.  St. Vincent preached missions amongst the country people, but found that the good thereby accomplished did not last without  priests to carry on the evangelization permanently.  St. Vincent founded the Congregation of Priests of the Mission (known as the Vincentians) to do this work.  In order to train his priests, St. Vincent established minor and major seminaries throughout the country.  By the time of the Revolution, one third of the seminaries in France were directed by the Congregation of the Mission.

St. Vincent also wished to care for the poor, and to this end, with Louise de Marillac he founded the Daughters of Charity.  Through hospitals and other charitable enterprises, the Daughters of Charity provided food and other care to thousands of France's poor.  St. Vincent's efforts on behalf of the poor were not confined to France: members of Congregations he founded also relieved the suffering of the poor in Italy, North Africa, Scotland, Poland and other places.

St. Vincent also wished to care for the convicts in France's galleys, who suffered under appalling conditions, both physically and morally.   In addition to laboring amongst the galley convicts himself,  St. Vincent exerted influence upon the noble families of his acquaintance to obtain appointment from King Louis XIII as Royal Almoner to the galleys.  This position permitted St. Vincent to construct  a hospital for the galley convicts, and see to their care in many other ways.  St. Vincent also looked after their spiritual health by preaching a mission to the galley convicts.

In addition, St. Vincent was quick to note the dangers of Jansenism, and was instrumental in combating this heresy.  St. Vincent also encouraged and assisted in the reform of many religious congregations, including the Benedictines, Cistercians and Augustinians.

St. Vincent de Paul was canonized by Clement XII in 1737 AD.

St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wisdom from St. Alphonsus Liguori (Part 6)

                                    Predella from "Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven" by Fra Angelico

This is from St. Alphonsus Liguori's "The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ:"

They, then, who say "God does not wish us all to be saints" make a great mistake. Yes, for St. Paul says, "This is the Will of God, your sanctification."  God wishes all to be saints, and each one according to his state of life: the religious as a religious; the secular as a secular; the priest as a priest; the married as married; the man of business as a man of business; the soldier as a soldier; and so of every other state of life.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us.

"The Perfection of Sacramental Signification"

The following is taken from Abbot Vonier's "A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist:"

Saint Thomas [Aquinas] has thought it worth his while to devote an Article to this very subject:  Whether the Body of Christ as It is in this sacrament can be seen by any eye, at least one glorified?"
"The Body of Christ," he answers,

according to the mode of being which it has in this sacrament, cannot be detected, either by the senses or by  imagination, but only through the intellect, which is called the spiritual eye.  It is, however, detected by various intellects in various degrees.   As the mode of being according to which Christ is in this sacrament is entirely supernatural, Christ is visible to the supernatural intellect only, I mean, the divine intellect; and, as a consequence, to the beatified intellect, either of angel or man, which in a participated brightness of the divine intellect sees the supernatural thing, in the vision of the divine essence; but as for the intellect of man here on earth, it cannot perceive [the sacramental Presence of Christ] otherwise than by faith, as is the case with all other supernatural things; nor is the angelic intellect capable of seeing it, left to its merely natural resources.

St. Thomas of Aquinas, pray for us.

Benedict's low-drama visit to Germany

                                                 St. Boniface, Mainz, Germany
John Allen's wrap-up here.

St. Boniface, Apostle to the Germans, pray for us.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mary Most Holy in the Liturgy (Part 3)

                                                           "Tree of Jesse," Medieval French Bible

Rorate Caeli has another installment of Bl. Giacomo Alberione's "The Feasts of Mary."

A sample:

Mary is invoked under so many titles because she was granted power over all things. The sinner calls Mary Refugium peccatorum, because he expects from her the graces of penance and forgiveness; the sick calls her Salus infirmorum, because how knows that Mary has the power to heal him; the Priest calls her Mother of the Divine Shepherd; the poor, Mother of Providence; while for other needs there are the Virgin of Perpetual Succour, the Patronage of Mary, the Help of Christians, the Comforter, the Seat of wisdom, etc.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Seven Dolors of Our Lady in Art (Part 2)

September is the month the Church dedicates to contemplation of the Seven Dolors (or Sorrows) of Our Lady.
The second Dolor of Our Lady is the Flight into Egypt.  Over the centuries, many artists have depicted this episode.  Here is a sampling of the finer efforts:

                                                      Gislebertus, Cathedral at Autun, France

The tympanum of Autun Cathedral (ca. 1120 AD) is inscribed "Gislebertus hoc fecit" ("Gilbert made this").  It is not known whether Gislebertus was the patron who underwrote the tympanum, or the principal sculptor of the statues which decorate it.  If Gislebertus was indeed the sculptor, he was the first in medieval Europe to sign his work.  In any event, the Autun style of sculpture, with its expressive, graceful elongated figures, was very influential and imitated in many places.  The Autun statues also include an "Eve," the first large scale nude sculpture in Europe since Roman times. 

                                                             Chartres Cathedral (12th and 13th centuries)

In its long history, Chartres Cathedral has been spared major damage, though it has had several close calls.  For instance, during the French Revolution the Revolutionary Committee voted to blow up the Cathedral, but the architect in charge of the project argued that the rubble thereby created would take years to remove, and the plan was dropped.  However, the Cathedral did suffer the loss of its lead roof, which was removed to make bullets.   Before the outbreak of WWII, the Cathedral's stained glass was removed for safekeeping.  In 1944, the Cathedral itself was nearly destroyed by the US Army, which believed the structure had been occupied by elements of the German Army.  A two man reconnaissance team led by Col. Welborn Barton Griffin, Jr. revealed that the Cathedral was free of German troops, and the order to bombard the cathedral was rescinded.  In August, 1944, Col Griffin was killed in action.

                                         Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel (also called the Arena Chapel), Padua

The Scrovegni family derived its fortune from usury, which the Church condemned.   Indeed, Dante placed Reginaldo degli Scrovegni in the seventh circle of Hell.  It is believed the Scrovegni family built the beautiful Arena Chapel, decorated with Giotto frescoes depicting scenes from the life Our Lord and consecrated in 1305 AD, as penance for these sins.

                                                       Fra Angelico

Fra Angelico (1395 AD - 1455 AD) , a Dominican friar, was beatified in 1982.

                                                        "Rest on the Flight to Egypt," by Murillo

Though the Rest on the Flight to Egypt is not mentioned in the Gospels, from the fifteenth century onward paintings of this subject became popular.  These paintings often included aprocryphal miracles such as the Christ child ordering a fig tree to bend down and provide fruit to St. Joseph, or ordering a spring to gush forth to provide water for his parents.  The Council of Trent banned depiction of these dubious, non-scriptural miracles, and Murillo does not include them.

                                                               "Madonna of the Rocks" by Leonardo da Vinci

This depicts a legendary meeting en route to Egypt between the baby Jesus and St. John the Baptist, who was likewise fleeing the wrath of Herod.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Mary Most Holy in Sacred Liturgy (Part 2)

                                   “Enthroned Madonna,” Duccio di Buoninsegna, Cathedral of Siena

Rorate Caeli has the second in a series of excerpts from Bl. Giacomo Alberione's "The Feasts of Mary."

A sample:

The more Mary is praised, the more God is honored, souls are purified, and the Kingdom of God is established.  

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Hail, Saintly Confessor and Stigmatic

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Today is the Feast of St. Pio of Pietrelcina (1887 AD - 1968 AD).  Padre Pio entered the Capuchins at the age of 16, received the stigmata at the age of 31 and died almost exactly fifty years later.  He suffered much in his life, spiritually as well as physically.  Padre Pio's wounds and other mystical gifts, such as the odor of sanctity and bilocation, were investigated many times; some investigators found them inexplicable, others accused Padre Pio of being "an ignorant and self-mutilating psychopath who exploited people's credulity."  Padre Pio was a sought after confessor, and is believed to have effected many cures.  More than 100,000 attended his funeral.

Words of wisdom from Padre Pio:

"Through the study of books one seeks God; by meditation one finds him."
"Pray, hope, and don’t worry."

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us.

As we worship, so we believe

                                                      Note the "coat hanger crucifix"

Ugly, modernist liturgy and rebellious, dying Church go together in Berlin.

 St. Boniface, Apostle to the Germans, pray for us.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mary Most Holy in Sacred Liturgy

                                                       "The Visitation" from Rouen Book of Hours

Rorate Caeli has the first of a series of excerpts from Blessed James Alberione's "The Feasts of Mary."  Can't wait to read more.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

"Without justice what else is the state ..."

                                         "St. Augustine"  window by Tiffany, Lightner Museum, St. Augustine FL

".. . but a great band of robbers?"  So asked St. Augustine, and Benedict repeated the question in his address to the Bundestag today.

St. Augustine, pray for us.

I believe I am alone in saying this

                               Performance of "The Castle of Perseverance," a morality play

Reviving the custom of morality plays would be a good idea.  In the medieval Church, pageants and plays surrounded every feast.  Some of the plays survive and are quite entertaining.  For instance, "The Harrowing of Hell,"  performed in olden days by the cooks and innkeepers of Chester, includes an episode with an offending alewife sent to Hell for adding water to her beer and not including enough malt.  The plays include graceful language and sound instruction, too.  "The Creation, and the Fall of Lucifer, " performed by the tanners of Chester, begins in Heaven, with God announcing "I am gracious and great, God without beginning; I am maker unmade, all might is in me; I am life and way unto wealth-winning; I am foremost and first, as I bid shall it be."

Anyway, it would beat most of the junk on TV.

Hans Kung: Touchstone of Foolishness

                                  The archetype of post-Vatican II theologian, right down to the tan (note the autograph!)

In interview with fawning Der Spiegel, Kung compares Benedict to Putin; calls for new Luther

I especially enjoyed this specimen of Kungian logic:

Kung writes open letter to bishops criticizing pope and "Roman system."
All 5,000 bishops ignore Kung's letter.   
Ergo, bishops lack courage.

The translated interview appeared in Commonweal, naturally.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You've got to be carefully not taught

                                    Not a good time to argue that morality is a matter of taste

Two-thirds of surveyed Americans between the ages of 18  and 23 are incapable of framing a moral dilemma.

The group overwhelmingly viewed morality as a matter of taste.

Having sowed this wind, we must brace ourselves to reap the whirlwind, insofar as we have not already begun reaping it.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, Patron of moralists, pray for us.

"The Power of Sacramental Signification"

The following is taken from Abbot Vonier's "A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist."  Abbot Vonier is again quoting St. Thomas Aquinas:

"My answer is, that, as has been already said, the sacrament, properly so-called, is a thing ordained to signify our sanctification; in which three phases may be taken into consideration, namely: the cause of our sanctification, which is the passion of Christ; the essence of our sanctification, which consists in grace and virtue; and then the ultimate goal of our sanctification, which is eternal life.  Now all these are signified by the sacraments.  Therefore a sacrament is a commemorative sign of what has gone before, in this case the passion of Christ, a demonstrative sign of what is being effected in us through the passion of Christ, that is grace, and a prognostic sign, foretelling our future glory."

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.

Starting over in Germany

                                              St. Boniface, Mainz, Germany

Benedict prepares to visit a country which, after a millenium of Christianity, has become "A Desert of Faith."

St. Boniface, Apostle of the Germans, pray for us.

Hail, Saintly Apostle, Evangelist and Martyr

Today is the feast of St. Matthew.   St. Matthew was a tax collector from Capernaum originally named Levi, who was called by Jesus in the famous episode recounted in the Gospels.  Jesus also bestowed upon Levi the new name Matthew, which means "gift of Yahweh."   The magnificently expressive depiction of St. Matthew's call shown above was painted by Caravaggio. 

Of St. Matthew's career after Our Lord's Ascension little is known for sure, though most ancient writers agree St. Matthew evangelized in the East, in the vicinity of the Caspian Sea.  Neither is it known for sure what manner of martyrdom St. Matthew suffered.  What are believed to be St. Matthew's relics were transferred from the site of his martyrdom to the Cathedral in Salerno in the 10th century AD.

St. Matthew, pray for us. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Michaelmas Embertide Approacheth

                                           Autumn Leaves, by Sir John Everett Millais

Next Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are Michaelmas Embertide.   Courtesy of New Liturgical Movement comes this apropos disquisition by Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP:

Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14th, are known as “Michaelmas Embertide,” and they come near the beginning of Autumn (September 22nd) and were formerly set aside as days of fasting and abstinence. The Lessons focus on the Old Covenant’s Day of Atonement and the fast of the seventh month, but start off with this prophecy from Amos 9:13-15 :

"Behold the days come, when the ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed, and the mountains shall dop sweetness, and every hill shall be tilled. And I will bring back the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the abandoned cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine of them; and shall make gardens and eat the fruits of them; and I will plant them upon their land: and I will no more pluck them out of their land which I have given them; saith the Lord thy God."

Like all Embertides but Whit Embertide, the Lessons end with the story of the three boys in the fiery furnace, as told by Daniel. The Gospel readings recount how Jesus exorcised demons from a possessed boy and tells the disciples about fasting to cast out unclean spirits (Matthew 9:16-28), forgave Mary Magdalen (Luke 7:36-50), and healed the woman on the sabbath after telling the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-17). In the midst of this beautiful time, things wizen and seem to begin to die. The air grows cooler, the earth stiffens, the trees tire of holding their leaves. And during this waning we remember our dead — on November 1st, the victorious dead (All Saints’, or All Hallows Day), and on November 2nd, the dead being purified (All Souls’ Day). These Days of the Dead begin with the eve of All Hallows, or “Hallowe’en,” an unofficial evening of remembering the frightening fate of the damned and how we can avoid it. There can’t be a more appropriate time for such a night than Autumn, when foggy mists are likely, and bonfires helpful.

St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

RELATED : Rorate Coeli has much more here.

On God's action in the soul, or Grace

                                         "St. Thomas Aquinas," by Benozzo Gozzoli

From Chapter One of Abbot Vonier's "A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist:"

I cannot end this chapter without quoting from Saint Thomas [of Aquinas] a beautiful passage in which he describes God's action, which he calls grace, keeping faith alive in the soul, even of the sinner:

Grace produces faith not only when faith begins to exist in the soul for the first time, but also while it habitually abides in the soul . . . . God brings about the justification of man in the same way as the sun produces light in the air.  Grace, therefore, when it strikes with its rays the one who is already a believer is not less efficacious than when it comes for the first time to the unbeliever, because in both it is its proper effect to produce faith: in one case strengthening it and giving it increase, in the other case creating it as an entirely new thing.

St. Thomas of Aquinas, pray for us.

We're all converts now

                                                                             Must there be drama?

Pope Benedict seems to think converts make better evangelists (and there are certain precedents, notably St. Paul) but as David Gibson notes, today religion is a choice, which makes all of us, to a degree, converts.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Learning to Listen: Voices of Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church."

That's the title of a conference held at Fordham, ("the Jesuit University in New York") last Friday.  The Jesuit magazine America has been excited about the conference since last spring.

Wondering who was meant to listen, and to what, and for what purpose, I came across this from the sponsor's website:

"For too long, the conversation on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the Roman Catholic Church has been only a monologue — the sole voice being heard is that of the institutional Catholic Church.  We must engage in more than a monologue by having a 21st century conversation on sexual diversity, with new and different voices heard from."

Question answered.

St. Ignatius Loyola, pray for us.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Second Vatican Council was pastoral

Not dogmatic, says Benedict, meaning one may dissent from its controversial points and remain in communion with the Church.  Repercussions are sure to be numerous.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Seven Dolors of Our Lady in Art (Part 1)

The Church traditionally devotes September to contemplation of Our Lady of Sorrows, or the Seven Dolors (or Sorrows) of Our Lady.  Over the centuries, the Seven Dolors of Our Lady have frequently been depicted in art.  The first of the Seven Dolors is the Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34-35).

Simeon's prophecy, in which he foretells that a sword will pierce Mary's heart, takes place during the Presentation in the Temple, which is one of the Joyful mysteries.   Artists depicting the scene  have tended to favor its joyousness over its sorrow.  Here is Raphael's painting of the Presentation, which emphasizes the occasion's joy:

Here is Hans Holbein's, which is similarly joyous:

Here is Fra Angelico's, which though solemn is not sorrowful:

I suppose scenes including a baby do not lend themselves to sorrowful depiction.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Hail, Saintly Cardinal, Cathechist and Doctor of the Church

Today is the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ (1542 AD - 1621 AD).  St. Robert was the most learned churchman of his day, the author of a catechism still  in use, an able controversialist against the protestants, and a friend to Galileo.  UCA News has St. Robert's full story here.

It's my name day (Inigo is merely a nom de blog) so I am going out for a jelly donut to celebrate.

St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Here's a prescription for humanizing the global economy

                                                           They would do better to return to these every day

Alas, it's more of an earnest wish than a prescription.   It's embodied in a high-flown statement recently signed by a long list of US women's religious congregations.   I came across the document  while I was doing research into one of the signatory congregations, the Sisters of the Holy Cross.  The congregation was founded in France after the Revolution, and the Sisters first arrived in the US in 1843.  The Sisters served bravely as nurses in the Civil War, and today run many schools, including St. Mary's College, the famous sister college to the University of Notre Dame. 

I was interested in the Sisters of the Holy Cross because, like the Servites (see previous posts here and here) the Sisters have a particular devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows.   One of the ways the Sisters of the Holy Cross used to express their devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows was by praying the chaplet of the Seven Dolors/Sorrows of Mary in community every day.   The chaplet is prayed upon prayer beads like a rosary, except the beads are organized into seven sets of seven, one for each of the seven sorrows.  An example of such a chaplet is shown above.  According to the Sisters' website, this practice is now a "frequent" rather than a daily one.

Like many other religious congregations, the Sisters of the Holy Cross now view the pursuit of Social Justice as a critical part of their mission.  In connection with this pursuit, the Sisters, along with many other congregations of Sisters, in 2009 signed on to a document called  "A call to integrate FAITH ECOLOGY AND THE GLOBAL ECONOMY."  The signatories note their desire for lots of good things, such as "secure, meaningful, and ecologically responsible livelihoods," but also note the existence of lots of regrettable things, such as "over-consumption."  As to how to achieve the goal of bringing about more of the things they like, while reducing the number of things they don't like, the signatories can do little more than speak wistfully of  "[p]aradigm shift" and "[p]ublic policies for an economy of right relationship."

I suppose if it were easy to build heaven on earth, we'd have done it already.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us

This diagnosis seems accurate

                                                       They didn't know how good they had it

As labor is commoditized globally, only those who perform non-commoditizable labor (e.g., Oprah Winfrey, Peyton Manning) will be able to command non-subsistence wages.

The diagnosis was easy; now for a prescription.

h/t: Instapundit

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wisdom from St. Alphonsus Liguori (Part 5)

                                                "Face of Christ" by Georges Rouault

More wisdom from the great Doctor of the Church.  This is from "The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ:"

During the present life this must likewise be our only thought, our only purpose, to go in search of God in order to love him, and in search of his will in order to fulfil it, ridding our heart of all love of creatures.  And whenever some worldly good would present itself to our imaginations to solicit our love, let us be ready prepared with this answer: "I have despised the kingdom of this world, and all the charms of this life, for the sake of the love of my Lord Jesus Christ."

St. Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us.

"More Chinese at church on a Sunday than in whole of Europe"

                                                                This sort of thing is illegal now

So says the BBC.

Europe, when it was Catholic/Christian, was a light to the world.   In those days, many saw its good works, and glorified our Father in heaven.  But now Europe is like salt which has lost its savor.  Our Lord tells us that's "good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men." 

It feels to me like the casting out and the trodding are in progress.

Ah, to live in a Catholic country!

                                            An Easter procession on Malta

95% of the population of Malta calls itself Catholic, and as mentioned in a previous post, it has more holidays than any other EU country.  Malta celebrates 5 national holidays, 9 public holidays, and more than 70 traditional feasts.

According to Wikipedia, Malta also has charmingly Catholic names for the months of the year:

Maltese name
the coldest month
St. Paul's month
St. Joseph, the Annunciation and Sales' month
the month of blossoms and St. Gregory
the month of harvest, Our Lady of Pompeii
the month of reaping, bonfires, St. Peter and St. Paul, and Sacred Heart
the month of Monte Carmel
the month of fruit, St. Mary and St. Lawrence
the month of Victory, the Nativity of Our Lady, and Our Lady of Graces
the month of the Rosary
the month of fallen leaves, of souls, and of the dead
the Christmas and Conception month

Alas, Malta has just voted to permit divorce, so modernity is encroaching on the island.

Since it is her month,

Our Lady of Graces, pray for us

Our Lady of Sorrows

                                               "Pieta" by Vincent Van Gogh

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, a feast known since the 13th century, and made popular by the Cistercians and the Servites (posts regarding the Servites here and here).  The sorrowful hymn "Stabat Mater Dolorosa" was written for the feast, and many composers have set the text to music.  Here is Pergolesi's version:

The first stanza of the text, in Latin and English:

Stabat mater dolorosa
juxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.
At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her son to the last.

Our Lady of Sorrows is the Patroness of Slovenia, and the feast is a public holiday there.  Malta, the country with the most holidays in the European Union, also keeps the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows as a public holiday, but the Maltese celebrate it on the Friday before Passion Sunday.  In 1969, these two separate feasts of Our Lady of Sorrows, the one celebrated before Holy Week and the other in September, were officially combined.  

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"The holy cross shines in splendor"

                   "Heraclius entering Jerusalem with the Cross" by Piero della Francesca

Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.  The feast celebrates the discovery of the true cross, which was uncovered during the construction of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.  In the fourth century AD, St. Helena, Constantine's mother, travelled to Jerusalem to search for the holy places in the life of Christ.  A tradition held that the Temple of Venus had been built over Christ's tomb, so Constantine ordered it razed and the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher erected in its place.  During excavation, three crosses were discovered.  According to tradition, the touch of the remnants of one of these crosses healed a dying woman, and therefore the cross from which these remnants came was deemed to be the true cross. 

The Persians sacked the Basilica and carried off the cross in 614 AD.   The emperor Heraclius re-captured the cross in 629.  There is a story that the emperor intended to restore the relics to the Basilica himself, but found he was unable to enter Jerusalem until he removed his imperial finery and proceeded as a barefoot pilgrim. 

The feast also celebrates the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection in Jerusalem in 355 AD.

From the office of Lauds for the feast:

God our Father,  in obedience to your will your Only-Begotten Son endured the cross for our salvation.  Grant that as we have come to know the mystery of the cross here on earth,  we may receive its rewards in heaven.

"Full of Grace"

"Full of Grace: Crowned Madonnas from the Vatican Basilica" is on view now in New Haven, Conn.  No, not at Yale, but at the headquarters of the Knights of Columbus.  Sandro Magister has more here.
I expect the Hicks family will make a visit to New Haven soon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Enigma Variations: Nimrod

On Sunday, WQXR commemorated 9/11 by playing suitable music suggested by listeners.   Amidst a lot of great music (playlist here,) Elgar's "Enigma Variations: Nimrod" stood out for me.  The piece honors a friend of Elgar's named Jaeger who encouraged the composer to persevere.  Jaeger is the German word for "hunter" and Nimrod, according to Genesis, was "a mighty hunter before the Lord." 

Who was Anscar Vonier?

Abbot Vonier "was the most gifted dogmatic theologian writing - and preaching - in England in the inter-war years."  He is also the author of "A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist," a book which Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ said "should never be out of print."  I just ordered my copy.  You can order yours by clicking on the "My Favorites" widget to the right.  That way (assuming I set it up correctly) Amazon will share a tiny fraction of the proceeds with me, at no additional cost to you.
Incidentally, many years ago I had the good fortune to be introduced to Avery Dulles.  Fr. Dulles was at lunch in a Jesuit residence, and surrounded by admirers.  He appeared to suffer rather than welcome this attention.  Fr. Dulles was tall and thin and wore a white dress shirt which had been ironed sufficiently to remove most, though by no means all, of its wrinkles.  I suspect the ironing had been done by Fr. Dulles himself.   He was courteous, though not effusive.   Though our meeting was over in minutes, I knew afterwards that Fr. Dulles didn't attract crowds to himself just because he was famous.  Fr. Dulles, in his quiet, courteous way, was also a holy man.