Friday, August 31, 2012

Thoughts for the final Friday in August

"Crucifixion," Giotto

The following is taken from Tractate 118 of St. Augustine of Hippo (feast Aug. 28):

For what could we have to say of the cross itself, which every one knows was in like manner made and fastened to Christ by enemies and sinners? And yet it is to it we may rightly understand the words of the apostle to be applicable, "what is the breadth, and the length, and the height, and the depth." Ephesians 3:18 For its breadth lies in the transverse beam, on which the hands of the Crucified are extended; and signifies good works in all the breadth of love: its length extends from the transverse beam to the ground, and is that whereto the back and feet are affixed; and signifies perseverance through the whole length of time to the end: its height is in the summit, which rises upwards above the transverse beam; and signifies the supernal goal, to which all works have reference, since all things that are done well and perseveringly, in respect of their breadth and length, are to be done also with due regard to the exalted character of the divine rewards: its depth is found in the part that is fixed into the ground; for there it is both concealed and invisible, and yet from thence spring up all those parts that are outstanding and evident to the senses; just as all that is good in us proceeds from the depths of the grace of God, which is beyond the reach of human comprehension and judgment.

St. Augustine of Hippo, pray for us.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Know your vestments

What is this?

You probably think you know a lot about vestments, right?   Well, let's find out if you know as much as you think you do.  We'll start with a hard one.  What is that cloth on the bishop's lap called?


It's a gremiale.  According to Wikipedia, a gremiale is:

"a square or oblong cloth which a bishop, according to the "Cæremoniale Episcoporum" and "Pontificale", should wear over his lap, when seated on the throne during the singing of the Kyrie, Gloria and Credo by the choir, during the distribution of blessed candles, palms or ashes, during the washing of feet in the Mass of the Lord's Supper, and also during the anointments in connection with Holy orders.

The primary object of the gremiale is to prevent the soiling of the other pontifical vestments, especially the chasuble."

Those who answered correctly are entitled to an Inigo Hicks refrigerator magnet.   These handy devices don't exist yet, but if and when they do, those who answered correctly will certainly be entitled to one.

A Business Strategy for Judgment Day

Use it to sell books and dvds.  Also, try to get people to send you money. 

That's a guy named William Henry's angle, which is encouraging, in a way.  If William Henry really thinks the world is about to end, why does it look so much like a business opportunity to him?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Beheading of St. John the Baptist

Today is the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, a rather tragic and melancholy subject for a feast.   Despite this, or maybe because of its inherent drama (and gore), the beheading of St. John has been a favorite subject of painters through the centuries, as you may see from the small sample below. 

"Beheading of St. John the Baptist," Peter Paul Rubens

"Beheading of St. John the Baptist," Caravaggio

                                      "Beheading of St. John the Baptist" Di Pietro Sano

"Beheading of St. John the Baptist" Massimo Stanzione

It also inspired a gory opera:

St. John the Baptist, pray for us.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hail, Augustine, Bishop and Doctor

"St. Augustine of Hippo," by Botticelli

Today we celebrate the feast of the great Bishop and Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine of Hippo (354 AD - 430 AD).   According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "[t]he great St. Augustine's life is unfolded to us in documents of unrivaled richness, and of no great character of ancient times have we information comparable to that contained in the "Confessions", which relate the touching story of his soul, the "Retractations," which give the history of his mind, and the "Life of Augustine," written by his friend Possidius, telling of the saint's apostolate."   It is mostly due to his "Confessions," the first autobiography written in the West and a model for many later writers, that St. Augustine is so well known to moderns.  However, similarities in the atmosphere of our times and those of St. Augustine also form the basis for a sort of spiritual kinship with the great saint.  Like us, St. Augustine lived in the shadow of a great civilization's collapse.  Indeed, Augustine died as his episcopal see of Hippo Regius was under siege by Vandals, and defended by Goths, both of whom were heretical Arians.   Although he was greatly anguished by the suffering occasioned by the sack of Rome and similar disasters, in his great work "The City of God," St. Augustine consoled Christians with the thought that, even if the earthly rule of the Empire was imperiled, the City of God would ultimately triumph.   St. Augustine counseled Christians to keep their gaze fixed on Heaven, which became a standard Christian theme  throughout Late Antiquity.

The following excerpt from "The Confessions" is taken from the Office of Readings for the feast:

Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my helper was I able to do so. I entered, then, and with the vision of my spirit, such as it was, I saw the incommutable light far above my spiritual ken and transcending my mind: not this common light which every carnal eye can see, nor any light of the same order; but greater, as though this common light were shining much more powerfully, far more brightly, and so extensively as to fill the universe. The light I saw was not the common light at all, but something different, utterly different, from all those things. Nor was it higher than my mind in the sense that oil floats on water or the sky is above the earth; it was exalted because this very light made me, and I was below it because by it I was made. Anyone who knows truth knows this light.

St. Augustine of Hippo, pray for us.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I'd expected the "Pictures" to be somewhat more magnificent

This inspired "The Great Gate at Kiev"?

Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" was inspired by ten drawings and watercolors done by a recently deceased friend named Victor Hartmann.   You may look over some of the surviving works here.   Strange that such great music was animated by such pedestrian artwork.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

If we humble ourselves before Muslims maybe they'll stop killing us

The Army's traditional method for dealing with enemy brutality has an admirable track record

This is the US Army's not very re-assuring strategy for dealing with a growing number of murders of US soldiers by the Afghan security forces they were training.

UPDATE:  It's not working.
UPDATE:  It's still not working, and so we gave up.  Chalk up one for the terrorists.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Which Host is being consecrated?

The one Father Innovatio Puerilis is elevating, or the one being elevated by his lovely assistant?   Or neither?
From a nuptial Mass (?) in Brazil.   Eponymous Flower has more here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"I show you the times"

"Thomas More," Hans Holbein
We don't face martyrdom, yet

So says St. Thomas More to the Earl of Norfolk in "A Man for All Seasons," after demonstrating to the somewhat lunkheaded Earl just how dangerous England had become for faithful Catholics since King Henry VIII's declaration of war against the Pope.

Things have not reached such a perilous point in America, at least not yet, but frank contempt for religion in general and Christianity in particular is on the rise.  Indeed, a survey of recent US court cases claims to demonstrate that hostility towards religion has grown to "unprecedented" levels.  Evidence of  hostility is certainly not hard to find.  We recently encountered the following during a short drive through Manhattan:

1) A young man wearing a white t shirt with "ficTion" imprinted upon it in red, the middle t printed so as to denote a cross;

2) A fashion photoshoot on the top steps of St. Cyril and Methodius Church.  It appeared to be a guerilla operation, but the indifference on the part of photographer, models and crew to profaning a place others quite obviously consider holy was notable, and chilling.

St. Thomas More, pray for us.  

"A mug is a mug in everything" Part 2

 We noted recently that the case of ex-Bishop Vangheluwe confirms Col. Harrington's dictum that "a mug is a mug in everything,"  insofar as the disgraced ex-bishop is not only an accused sexual predator, but had been an energetic advocate for women's ordination.   To which we now add a further instance of Vangheluwean mug-ness.   As is obvious from the above photo of the disgraced ex-Bishop, Vangheluwe's taste in vestments was appalling (h/t Rorate Caeli).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Being swollen with pride"

"Ezekiel," Michelangelo

Perhaps I am unduly pessimistic, but the first reading for Mass today, which concerns a prophecy God wants Ezekiel to deliver to the people of Tyre, seems uncomfortably apt for US, and, more generally, the contemporary western world.  "Swollen with pride" certainly sounds like us.

Incidentally, Tyre was indeed destroyed, by King Nebuchadnezzar. 

Here is the reading (Ezekiel 28:1-10):

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows, ‘Son of man, tell the ruler of Tyre, “The Lord says this:
Being swollen with pride,
you have said: I am a god;
I am sitting on the throne of God,
surrounded by the seas.
Though you are a man and not a god,
you consider yourself the equal of God.
You are wiser now than Danel;
there is no sage as wise as you.
By your wisdom and your intelligence
you have amassed great wealth;
you have piles of gold and silver
inside your treasure-houses.
Such is your skill in trading,
your wealth has continued to increase,
and with this your heart has grown more arrogant.
And so, the Lord says this:
Since you consider yourself the equal of God,
very well, I am going to bring foreigners against you,
the most barbarous of the nations.
They will draw sword against your fine wisdom,
they will defile your glory;
they will throw you down into the pit
and you will die a violent death
surrounded by the seas.
Are you still going to say: I am a god,
when your murderers confront you?
No, you are a man and not a god
in the clutches of your murderers!
You will die like the uncircumcised
at the hand of foreigners.
For I have spoken–it is the Lord who speaks.”’

Monday, August 20, 2012

Making a Spiritual Communion

Spiritual Communion is a pious exercise commended by the Council of Trent and practiced by many saints.    Spiritual Communion consists of a burning desire to receive Jesus in the sacrament, and to attain a loving union with Him, as if He had been actually received sacramentally   Spiritual Communion leads the soul to perfection, brings manifold blessings and consolations, and contains graces and benefits similar to those received in sacramental Communion.

St. Alphonsus Liguori provides the following prayers for making a Spiritual Communion:

"My Jesus, I believe that Thou art really present in the Most Holy. Sacrament. I love Thee, and I desire Thee; come to my soul. I embrace Thee; and I beseech Thee never to allow me to be separated from Thee again." Or more briefly thus: "My Jesus, come to me; I desire Thee; I embrace Thee; let us remain ever united together." 

St. John Vianney has a shorter prayer for Spiritual Communion:

"O my God, come to me, so that You may dwell in me and I may dwell in you."

St. Alphonsus teaches further that "spiritual Communion may be practiced several times a day: when we make our prayer, when we make our visit to the Blessed Sacrament, and especially when we attend Mass at the moment of the priest's Communion. The Dominican Sister Blessed Angela of the Cross said: "If my confessor had not taught me this method of communicating spiritually several times a day, I should not have trusted myself to live."

"A mug is a mug in everything" department

Roger Vangheluwe

Former Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges, Belgium, who's already been forced to resign his see on account of sexual abuse accusations, some involving his own nephews, is facing  new charges of sexual abuse.  Rorate Caeli notes that in the days before Vangheluwe's sexual abuse problem became public, the now disgraced ex-bishop was a darling of the liberal Catholic press for his strongly pro view regarding the ordination of women.  Though this is very far from establishing (much less implying) a logical connection between sexual abuse and approving the ordination of women, Vangheluwe's case does at least tend to support Col. Harrington's dictum, "a mug is a mug in everything."    Vangheleluwe is something far worse than a mug, but Col. Harrington's point is that a jackass is generally a jackass (or worse) across the board. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Let's not bicker and argue over who is crucifying who"

President Mohammed Morsi

Muslim Brotherhood supporters are reportedly stripping opponents of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi naked and crucifying them upon trees.  The Muslim Brotherhood follow the Koran very strictly, and Koran Sura 5:33 explicitly requires this penalty for those "who wage war against Allah and his messenger."  That would include Christians, and many are advising Egyptian Copts to flee the country while they still can.

In July, President Obama invited Mohammed Morsi to dinner at the White House.  Morsi has thanked President Obama for the invitation, but has not officially accepted.   Probably depends on how the crucifixions are going.

Friday, August 17, 2012

" A Fervent Thanksgiving"

St. Teresa of Avila

St. Alphonsus Liguori advises that "to reap more abundant fruit from Communion, we should make a fervent thanksgiving."  In support, St. Alphonsus cites St. Teresa of Avila:  

"After Communion let us be careful not to lose so good an opportunity of negotiating with God.  His Divine majesty is not accustomed to pay badly for His lodging, if He meets with a good reception." [Way of Perfection, ch. 35.]

St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us.

Hail, St. Stephen of Hungary, model of Catholic manhood

St. Stephen of Hungary

Yesterday was the feast of St. Stephen of Hungary.  The Office of Readings for the Feast includes a letter from St. Stephen to his son, admonishing the young man to be "strong," "humble," "gentle" and "honorable."  Wise advice to young men of all times and places.   Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith has more here.

We confess a sentimental attachment to St. Stephen of Hungary, as Filius was baptized in St. Stephen of Hungary Church in Manhattan.

St. Stephen of Hungary, pray for us.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Frequent Communion is great, but

Holy Communion - not to be taken lightly

It is necessary to prepare ourselves for receiving the sacrament.   One fears there is a tendency amongst contemporary Catholics to neglect this necessity.  St. Alphonsus Liguori recommends the following:

[A] suitable preparation is most useful to communicate well. The first preparation, or, in other terms, the remote preparation, to derive the greatest profit from frequent and daily Communion, is:

1. To keep free from all deliberate affection to sin-that is, to sin committed, as we say, with open eyes.

2. The practice of much mental prayer.

3. The mortification of the senses and of the passions.

4. Although it is most expedient that those who communicate frequently or daily should be free from venial sins, at least from such as are fully deliberate, and from any affection thereto, nevertheless it is sufficient that they be free from mortal sin, with the purpose of never sinning mortally in future; and, if they have this sincere purpose, it is impossible but that daily communicants should gradually emancipate themselves from even venial sins, and from all affection thereto.

5. That the practice of frequent and daily Communion may be carried out with greater prudence and more abundant merit, the confessor's advice should be asked.  Confessors, however, are to be careful not to dissuade anyone from frequent and daily Communion, provided that he is in a state of grace and approaches with a right intention." [Decree of Pius X.]  In the next place, the proximate preparation for Communion is that which is made on the morning itself of Communion, for which it is recommended to make at least half an hour of mental prayer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tolerance for me

Immaculate Heart of Mary
Feared by demons, even in Chicago

But not for thee.   Fr. Gerald O'Reilly prays rosary at Gay Liberation Network protest in Chicago and is quickly set upon by people screaming "Go where you're wanted, you hateful bigot."

The Future of the Church

New novices of the Franciscans of the Immaculata

Will tend to look like this.  Eponymous Flower has more here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

If Satan had lawyers

"Satan falling from heaven," Gustav Dore
Could timely legal action have achieved a better outcome for Satan?

He might make legal threats against pro-life people for using blue and pink rosaries.   Marie Stopes International, which is not Satan but concurs in a great deal of his agenda, has done just that.   The estimable Dr. Oddie's thoughts here.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Is this the worst piece of classical music ever written?

Karl Jenkins, composer of "The Peacemakers"

Damien Thompson thinks so.    Have a listen; I'll bet you've never seen so many headphones in one place. 

It's like they have an agenda or something

I doubt these nuns were on that bus the MSM promoted so adoringly

Crowds flocked to Chick-fil-A restaurants on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, but to judge from MSM, nothing happened.

Word of the Chick-fil-A contretemps has reached England; the estimable Dr. Oddie's thoughts here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Well, that's all straight then

Nil nisi bonum

When Gore Vidal died a couple of days ago, he was nearly 87 years old, and so his demise could not have caught the NYT entirely by surprise.   Yet that bible of the bien-pensant, which was somehow once regarded as  "the Newspaper of Record," managed to get quite a few of the facts in Vidal's obituary wrong.  One of these falls into the TMI category, but I suppose if you're going to include that sort of thing in a family newspaper, you may as well be accurate.  The correction below :

"All the news that's fit to print," while never really true, has certainly acquired a broader meaning.