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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Berenike's Little Book of Life Thoughts

If you want to be nice old ladies, you have to start now.

(Unidentified Benedictine novice-mistress)

If you're not ready to die today, what makes you think you'll be ready tomorrw?

(Thomas a Kempis, paraphrased)

All you have to do to get a sun tan is sit in the sun.

(Passionist sister in Glasgow on praying before the Blessed Sacrament)

And who do you think you're going to convert by your example?

(Sermon at papal institute)

There is no excuse for being lazy.

(Dominican sermon at same)

Monday, May 30, 2005

Is the West lost?

This is an interesting article by Brian Walden about the growing hostility between America and Europe. He gives decent consideration to the idea that the root-causes are spiritual and demographic, that liberalism is but a self destructive prelude to the triumph of Islam, but draws no conclusion. Perhaps, if the 'non' really is the end for the constitution, the Church will have more time to rally and to construct a better institutional model, one open to the Faith and to the Atlantic. This relies on American Catholics getting their act in order too, crushing liberalism and pushing up to fifty percent. Not impossible...

"The world grows old, but the Church is ever young. She can, in any time, at her Lord's will, 'inherit the Gentiles, and inhabit the desolate cities.'"

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Must be the radiation

While going to Aberdeen station today, I noticed that the kirk stuck onto Marischal College is called 'Greyfriars John Knox.' Did no-one realise - or, worse, did someone realise and really enjoy - the bizarre incongruity of the OFM and the man who (quodammodo) instigated their trashing in Scotland, stuck together in the same name?

Friday, May 27, 2005

Fissurous churches

Celtic Orthodox Church, anyone?

Another African Claims Pope has Blood on his Hands


Just like the BBC was inundated by thousands of Africans furious at the harm caused by the Church's teaching on non-contraceptive sex within marriage.
But, here we go, random Prod, oops, I mean the outgoing (that is, leaving) Moderator of the Church of Scotland, goes on with the same old nonsense. At least, so she is presented, it is difficult to tell exactly what she is saying. Hello? Note also well-informed comment linking artificial contraception and married priests. Why is no-one paying me to sort these people out? Why is a major media wotsit not embrassed to be so clearly and openly clueless about issues that are constantly brought up in the press? On the other hand, for folk reading who huvnae hud the privilege of visiting the Athens of the North, and the present shrine of St Andrew in Scotland, click on the video link and you get to see wur metropolitan cathedral, complete with reporter igroning the Blessed Sacrament.

Church architecture

Have spent hours faffing around, so may as well take another few minutes to add a picture or two.

The chapel built as a mausoleum for the Lubomirski family, until recently the church of my new parish (moved house last week, AGAIN).

And a picture that fails to convey the utter aesthetic horror that is produced when one enters the new church.

I cannot begin to describe how horrible it is. Fortunately weekday Masses and the first Sunday mass are in the Baroque nuttery chapel, so I will just have to catch up on sleep on Saturdays.

My previous parish church

in the wrongest part of Warsaw. Good organist, even the guitar group thing were pretty good. Horrible church, but not offensively so: you could get on with praying and what not. But this one. Oh my.

Where'd everyone go?

So, I thought to myself, it was worth doing this blog thing. Finally a chance to find out why quantum physics means we have to discover a new metaphysic. (In the singular, of course.) Some people who look as though they won't get bored after fifteen minutes, unlike my granny, who asks snide questions about Pius XII/Crusades/ priestly celibacy, but gets bored very quickly if I make any sign of answering. But now everyone's disappeared!

Cara Bettina, you asked what among other things I think I was trying to ask in my second post. I don't know what the different theories are. I can understand that there are purely biological ones, and then that there are theories that go beyond the purely biological. But I am not familiar with any of them. My understanding of evolutionary theory is basically that if you leave lots of male and female fruit flies in a room eventually you get gorillas. You see my problem?!

Re. Berenike:

Was the point: Does the SCIENTIFIC theory of evolution in any way challenge aristotelian/thomist metaphysics? (The INTERPRETETIONS of this theory by "evolutionists" certainly do)

I think, somehow related to this is the question whether or not a Catholic can agree with this theory (limited to its strictily biological sense) without getting into conflicts with the truth of faith. Which I REALLY would like to know!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A Good Year for Polish Goalkeepers

Gems from Adrian Fortescue

'The old Roman rite, in spite of its dignity and archaic simplicity, had the disadvantage of being dull.'

'And the practice of saying a Low Mass while the choir sings bits of things is too dreadful to be described.'

'Certainly we in the West may be very glad that we have the Roman rite in the form of Pius V's missal.'

'The prejudice that imagines that everything Eastern must be old is a mistake. All Eastern rites have been modified later too; some of them quite late. No Eastern rite now used is so archaic as the Roman Mass.'

The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy (London, 1930 [1912]), pp.184, 191 n.1, 208, 213 n.3.

A triumph of scholarship unaffected by partisanship, while wearing its opinions unashamedly on its sleeve. (And O for the days when 'archaic' was a Good Thing!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Twenty Four Theses

1 Potentia et actus ita dividunt ens, ut quidquid est, vel sit actus purus, vel ex potentia et actus tamquam primis atque intrinsecis principiis necessario coelescat.

2 Actus, utpote perfectio, non limitatur nisi per potentiam, quae est capacitas perfectionis. Proinde in quo ordine actus est purus, in eodem nonnisi illimitatus et unicus existit. Ubi vero est finitus ac multiplex, in veram incidit cum potentia compositionem.

3 Quapropter in absoluta ipsius esse ratione unus subsistit Deus, unus est simplicissimus, cetera cuncta quae ipsum esse participant, naturam habent qua esse coarctatur, ac tamquam distinctis realiter principiis, essentia et esse constant.

4 Ens quod denominatur ab esse, non univoce de Deo ac de creaturis dicitur, nec tamen prorsus aequivoce, sed analogice, analogia tum attributionis tum proportionalitas.

5 Est praetera in omni creatura realis compositio subiecti subsistentis cum formis secondario additis, sive accidentibus: ea vero, nisi esse realiter in essentia distincta reciperetur, intelligi non posset.

6 Praeter absoluta accidentia est etiam relativum, sive ad aliquid Quamvis enim ad aliquid non significet secundum propriam rationem aliquid alicui inhaerens, saepe tamen causam in rebus habet, et ideo realem entitatem distinctam a subjecto.

7 Creatura spiritualis est in sua essentia omnino simplex. Sed remanet in ea compostio duplex: essentiae cum esse et substantia cum accidentibus.

8 Creatura vero corporalis est quoad ipsam essentiam composita potentia et actu; quae potentia et actus ordinis essentiae, materiae et formae nominibus designantur.

9 Earum partium neutra per se esse habet, nec per se producitur vel corrumpitur, nec ponitur in praedicamento nisi reductive ut principium substantiale.

10 Etsi corpoream naturam extensio in partes integrales consequitur, non tamen idem est corpori esse substantiam et esse quantum. Substantia quippe ratione sui indivisibilis est, non quidem ad modum puncti, sed ad modum eius quod est extra ordinem dimensionis. Quantitas vero, quae extensionem substantia tribuit, a substantia realiter differt, et est veri nominis accidens.

11 Quantitate signata materia principium est individuationis, id est numericae distinctionis, quae in puris spiritibus esse non potest, unius individui ab alio in eadem natura specifica.

12 Eadem efficitur quantitate, ut corpus circumscriptive sit in loco, et in uno tantum loco de quacumque potentia per hunc modum esse possit.

13 Corpora dividuntur bifariam: quaedam enim sunt viventia, quaedam expertia vitae. In viventibus, ut in eodem subjecto pars movens et pars mota per se habeantur, forma substantialis, animae nomine designata, requirit organicam dispositionem seu partes heterogeneas.

14 Vegetalis et sensilis ordinis animae nequaquam per se subsistunt, nec per se producuntur, sed sunt tantummodo ut principium quo vivens est et vivit, et cum a materia se totis dependeant, corrupto composito, eo ipso per accidens corrumpuntur.

15 Contra, per se subsistit anima humana, quae, cum subjecto sufficienter disposito potest infundi, a Deo creatur, et sua natura incorruptibilis est atque immortalis.

16 Eadem anima rationalis ita unitur corpori, ut sit eiusdem forma substantialis unica, et per ipsam habet homo ut sit homo et animal et vivens et corpus et substantia et ens. Tribuit igitur anima homini omnem gradum perfectionis essentialem; insuper communicat corpori actum essendi, quo ipsa est.

17 Duplicis ordinis facultates, organicae et inorganicae, ex anima human per naturalem resultantiam emanant: priores, ad quas sensus pertinet, in composito subjectantur, posteriores in anima sola. Est igitur intellectus facultas ab organo intrinsece independens.

18 Immaterialitatem necessario sequitur intellectualitas, et ita quidem, ut secundum gradus elongationis a materia sint quoque gradus intellectualitatis. Adaequatum intellectionis obiectum est communiter ipsum ens; proprium vero intellectus humani in praesenti statu unionis, quidditatibus abstractis a condicionibus materialibus continetur.

19 Cognitionem ergo accipimus a rebus sensibilibus. Cum autem sensibile non sit intelligibile in actu, praeter intellectum formaliter intelligentem admittenda est in anima virtus activa, quae species intelligibiles a phantasmatibus abstrahat.

20 Per has species directe universalia cognoscimus; singularia sensu attingimus, tum etiam intellectu per conversionem ad phantasmata; ad cognitionem vero spiritualium per analogiam ascendimus.

21 Intellectum sequitur, non praecedit, voluntas, quae necessario appetit id quod sibi praesentatur tamquam bonum ex omni parte explens appetitum, sed inter plura bona, quae iudicio mutabili appetenda proponuntur, libere elegit. Sequitur proinde electio iudicium practicum ultimum; at quod sit ultimum, voluntas afficit.

22 Deum esse neque immediata intuitione percipimus, neque a priori demonstramus, sed utique a posteriori, hoc est, per ea quae facta sunt, ducto argumento ab effectibus ad causam: videlicet, a rebus quae moventur et sui motus principium adaequatum esse non possunt, ad primum motorem immobilem; a processu rerum mundanarum e causis inter se subordinatis ad primam causam incausatam; a corruptibilibus quae aequaliter se habent ad esse et non esse, ad ens absolute necessarium; ab iis quae secundum minoratas perfectiones essendi, vivendi, intelligendi, plus et minus sunt, vivunt, intelligunt, ad eum qui est maxime intelligens, maxime vivens, maxime ens; denique, ab ordine universi ad intellectum separatum, qui res ordinavit, disposuit, et dirigit ad finem.

23 Divini essentia, per hoc quod exercitae actualitati ipsius esse identificatur, seu per hoc quod est ipsum Esse subsistens, in sua veluti metaphysica ratione bene nobis constituata proponitur, et per hoc idem rationem nobis exhibet suae infinitatis in perfectione.

24 Ipsa igitur puritate sui esse , a finitis omnibus rebus secernitur Deus. Inde infertur primo, mundum nonnisi per creationem a Deo procedere potuisse; deinde virtutem creativem, qua per se primo attingitur ens in quantum ens, nec miraculose ulli finitae naturae esse communicabilem; nullum denique creatum agens in esse cuiuscumque effectus influere, nisi motione accepta a prima Causa.

Acta Apostolicae Sedis 8 [1916] 157

Monday, May 23, 2005

That would be an ecumenical matter

Minute-by-minute updates on the Church of Scotland General Assembly here, for anyone interested. It's good to see which issues are being raised, although whoever writes these notes seems to be rather reticent. Today it seems that what might have been an interesting discussion about communion turned into a discussion about the new hymnbook. Oh well. But well done the new moderator.

UPDATE: The debate on the Ecumenical Relations report was incredibly boring, and nothing of substance was raised. Ho hum. But there was a nice speech from Mgr Henry Docherty, who has apparently been the person most involved in relations with the Kirk from the Catholic end; he's celebrating fifty years of being a priest. Gosh.

... when our judgments are highly convenient and gratifying, this is likely a sign that they are the product not of conscience but of wishful thinking

Very good First Things article by Cardinal Pell on 'The Inconvenient Conscience.' (Even if he does use 'likely' when he means 'probably'... but I believe that's valid in colonial English?!)

My inconvenient conscience is now telling me to get back to work...

Nuclear winter?

No Today programme this morning! But no rumours of nuclear war as yet. (Mind you, with Radio 4 news down, we wouldn't know...) Waking up to repeats of Just A Minute is Just Wrong.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Boris Johnson on good form

For some reason I wrote this post when I read the above-linked, and then didn't post it. Oh well.
'As far as I can see we are all losing out to coursework - boys, girls, parents and employers. The whole point about the final exam, when you have to stuff yourself with coffee and digestive biscuits, and then run to the exam hall with your crib sheet bobbing before you - throwing it aside only as the exam hall is unlocked - is that it is like real life. In fact, people's jobs are becoming more and more like time-limited exams. We live in an economy increasingly dominated by the service sector, and everywhere you look people are required to cram, at the last minute, and then perform. [...] You need the fear to push up your brain's RPM, and it is only when the flywheel is humming that you suddenly see the connections, and problems disappear; and there comes a magic moment when the clouds in your head all part at once, and you can see straight up to the stars. [...] If you can keep retaking the paper - as you can with much coursework - you lose your fear of failure, and the whole thing becomes increasingly unrealistic. Because life isn't like coursework, baby. It's one damn essay crisis after another.'

'One damn essay crisis after another.' Marvellous! I wonder if there's theological capital to be made out of this? Cf the Ragemonkey relegation metaphor. In many ways Christian life is more like coursework (or, gulp, a thesis...) - it requires slow hard work and many small victories; and one must pay attention to detail. However, at some point the Invigilator will indeed cry, 'Stop writing!', and then nothing more can be added to the script; it stands or falls.

Sounds like KPO'B was saying more good stuff

Scotland has been shaped by Christianity. It's not rocket science, but it is useful to be reminded of it (if at times embarrassing - oodles of early medieval saints and the patronage of an Apostle, and we're in this condition? Oh dear).

As reported by the Scottish Catholic Media Office, via the Scottish Christian news round-up.

From a mindlessly jingoistic point of view -

- I suppose the one good thing is that this happened in England rather than, as one might have expected, here.

No, actually, it doesn't make it better.

Embarrassingly, the devil had the best tunes on the World Service last night. The science bod was able to point out that it would be legally inconsistent of Britain to ban embryo research when she aborts thousands of babies, destroys many in IVF, and allows 'contraceptives' which can function as abortifacients. Meanwhile the American Christian chap (couldn't they find a British person to talk about this? Like, maybe, Fr Patrick Burke... just a thought...) they wheeled on to oppose it took the fatal line of saying that cures weren't guaranteed to arise from this research anyway, and currently there were better results from adult stem cells.

The Guardian has the usual non sequiturs in its editorial:

...this will not stop fundamentalists protesting that such research should not happen, even though the embryo at the heart of the argument has no brain, heart, or any other human feature and is only just visible to the naked eye...

In looking to see whether the Telegraph has perhaps had a fit of sensibleness over this, I can't find any comment on it, but do find this rather good piece. (My fellow bloggers will find something of interest therein - to be a bit Sherlock Holmes agony column ish - (unless they know it already).)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Another one popes!

Hooray! Oh my, how I love conversions. The suspense was killing me with this chap. Or rather, like Zorak I was beginning to find it impossible to read the blog. What on earth was he waiting for, I wondered in frustration.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Philosophy at large

I was reading the comments on this quiz in Fr Bryce's comment box. A Catholic with some smattering of an education in the faith really is living in a different conceptual world from everyone else. Have a shot of the quiz and when the questions become unanswerable, because they don't make sense, you will see what I mean.
Back to metaphysics and evolution.
  1. I have yet to see how any evolutionary theory necessitates the development of a new metaphysics.
  2. I have never been interested enough in the whole thing to read anything in depth. No-one has ever said anything to me that makes me think there is much to get more excited about than there was with heliocentrism.
  3. Lack of interest, perhaps my bad. But if you can't get your point across in an essay the length of a long newspaper article, then perhaps you need to reconsider your point. By getting across, I mean showing why what you have to say is worth the hassle of reading tens or hundreds of pages.
I've never intended to do anything on this blog that takes a great deal of time or effort, but perhaps this would be worth considering. Bearing in mind that I have exams until the end of June, and that I have no English-language bookshops or libraries within several hundred miles (though access to one poor university library and possibly one each of decent university and seminary libraries), what should I read that will explain to me the challenge the perennial philosophy faces from a version of the evolutionary theory? Perhaps I should start with something explaining the varieties of e.t. and their metaphysical implications.
In the meantime, perhaps "Aumgn" could furnish an initial presentation of the problem? Bearing in mind that I am not a philosopher, and that another of my fellow bloggers is likewise no more than an educated punter in this field, and that what little philosophy we have is likely to be of a decidedly old-fashioned thomistical flavour, why should we keep the notion of "pure reason" safely buried? Do we have to go and read the Critique, or can someone post the Ladybird version?
I don't understand the comment "Unless the Church starts teaching Whitehead and Hartshorne it'd better come up with a metaphysic that can integrate theories of evolution". Or else what? Why not the other way round?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ammunition for Pub Arguments about Monarchy

no more to say, follow the link.

Plus, for those of us who are getting the Laodicea feeling, this. Naff graphics, sadly.

Protestant tat

The nun who broke her vows to God to marry the canon who broke his vows to God. Via Confessing Evangelical via Pontificator.

Boeciana and I were discussing tat in Rome last October. Catholic tat with other Catholics around is funny. Catholic tat with non-Catholics around is painfully cringe-making. Why? I think we came to the conclusion that tat is like a really bad photograph of someone you love dearly, but whom other people don't know at all, or perhaps know through hearsay. People who already know and love the person in the photograph will either laugh and say "My goodness, what a terrible picture" (words to that effect, adjust to suit taste in decades), or find it makes them all the fonder of the person badly portrayed. But you would not want to show that picture to other people.

The Holy Face in holograms. Yuck. On the other hand, I really do find my glow-in-the-dark snowstorm of Our Lady of Lourdes an aid to devotion. It's practically a relic, after I left her in the field by the catacombs of San Callisto and had to go back to find her.
I can't share my pleasure in my snowstorm with, per esempio, my godless parents. It is one thing to defuse their contempt for tat, but beyond a certain point laughing at a representation of Our Lord ceases to be a removal of skandalons and becomes the placing of new ones.
Ja, well, there is a profound meditation in there somewhere but I failed to find it.

A higher class of ned

Seen, left neatly by the railings on the nice eighteenth-century street where our department is: an empty bottle of... Jaegermeister.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Caesar's Bath

Can't think of five, but here are four.

  1. Children. Nothing against them as such - was one myself once, don'cher know - but fail to see what is so great about them. Except you can see original sin at work without the veneer of civilisation adults have.
  2. Star Wars. 'S okay. Shrek is better.
  3. Theology of the Body. (with a side helping of JPII-olatry). Yes, fair enough, there was some work to be done, Thomas never did get round to marriage. But how many institutes do we really need?
  4. The Faith movement. Or, to be more precise, the whole Jesus-Christ-the-Master-Key-to-the-Universe stuff. Booooooooring. What a waste of the time of a lot of good people.
  5. Coffee.

Robbing the poor to feed the rich

We haven't got enough Catholic priests for Rome to be seconding them. Someone write to the relevant people and explain that we need him more than they do.

Even if the Faith thing is going in Caesar's Bath, and if Fr Burke has spoken to me twice in his life, and both times he was shouting.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Whitsun edification

Cardinal Ratzinger as was via Fr Sibley, with thoughts of particular relevance to those of us prone to Laodiceanism. And, for deutschspraechiger, the Bishop of Fulda makes it clear that evangelism requires more holiness than strategy.

O lux beatissima,
Reple cordis intima
Tuorum fidelium.
Sine tuo numine
Nihil est in homine,
Nihil est innoxium.

Lava quod est sordidum,
Riga quod est aridum,
Sana quod est saucium,
Flecte quod est rigidum,
Fove quod est frigidum,
Rege quod est devium.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

What is a ziggurat?

Having given the above question as a description of my upcoming exam to those who asked, I thought that it would be asking for trouble not to swot up just a leetle bit on the ole ziggurats. Just as well, because the question did come up and, for example, the only way I could think of dividing the Egyptian gods was into small ones and large ones. Did you know that evidence points to the Hebrews being in the stone age while living among bronze age Canaanites? Didn't have time to chase that up, and that is the story of most of my academic efforts. Somewhat disappointed that all the careful swotting up (at least half an hour at some ungodly hour this morning raking through web pages) of the identity of the Hebrew bits of the deuterocanonicals found in Qumran was for nothing, but mostly relieved I got away with having completely and utterly forgotten about Egypt in revising for an OT geography/archeology exam. Completely. Utterly. Forgot. About. Egypt.

Oh dear

Prayers needed for one of the fathers of Pluscarden, who has gone missing (link in title).

Sancte Benedicte, ora pro filio tuo.
Sanct Maure, ora pro eo.


Worse than it seemed earlier. Hmm. We'll see. (Dark mutterings...)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Thon meme thingy...

Zadok Romanus passes on the 'five things all your chums love but you don't get' 'meme' to us. Yay, we must be real bloggers now... (Blogging intertextuality... just waiting for the AHRB, sorry, AHRC (and how much money do you suppose the new logo cost?) to fund several fat studentships for writing theses about this (cf Blogimus Maximus:the "Meta-inter-textual-narrativity-gimmemyPhD" aspect of blogging).) In considering this task, I find that my friends are a pretty heterogenous bunch, not prone to crazes; and that there isn't much I heartily dislike that everyone else adores. But that apart - and bearing in mind that this has become more a 'things lots of people get but I don't' business -

1. Protesting against the war in Iraq. I suspect I am actually in the wrong here. I'm indeed greatly perturbed by the complete failure to assess intelligence correctly on our and America's governments' parts; there seems little doubt that the war was technically illegal; the way the attacks were carried out, and the way that poor country is being handled now, were and are very far from perfect; the late Pope opposed the war, and he is much more likely to be right than I am, so I am ready to give assent to opposition to the war. But... my gut feeling is still that deposing a wicked tyrant is the right thing to do.

2. Beethoven. Now it's not that I dislike Beethoven, because I don't; I just don't see why so many people think he's so great. This probably arises from ignorance as much as anything else - I haven't read anything explaining why the late string quartets are so revolutionary, and some day I should. But unlike Bach, say, or practically any Renaissance vocal music, Beethoven coming on on Radio 3 is not a reason to drop everything and listen. I should say that playing Beethoven is much, much more interesting, and I've been at concerts where the astonishingness becomes clear (the RSNO playing Eroica - gosh). But it doesn't seem to work over a recording; and as composers-who-are-more-surprising-from-inside-the-orchestra go, I prefer Haydn.

3. Charles Dickens. So Great Expectations was a mad gothicky page-turner, and A Christmas Carol is a fine morality tale, and Oliver Twist was a mad quasi-gothicky page-turner with morals... But other than these, I've yet to finish a Dickens novel, and I can't agree that he's the best creator of character or atmosphere in the nineteenth century. Trollope has more delicacy, George Eliot more beauty, and Thackeray packs a bigger satirical punch.

4. Ian Rankin/ Inspector Rebus. Er... you really want to read about hideous murders and incompetent policemen in the city you live in? If you must; but please don't tell me about it. In fact, make that gory crime genres in general, in books or on television (CSI, ugh). Sherlock Holmes, Peter Wimsey, Father Brown, Brother Cadfael, Campion, hurrah - none of your forensic officers/maverick policemen/pathologists, thank you very much. Ooh except for Dalziel and Pascoe - murder mysteries that have to be read with a dictionary to hand must have something going for them.

5. The clarinet. Lots of people seem to think this is the best woodwind instrument, but I don't get it. There's something sort of oily about it... It's good for jazz, but otherwise I think that double-reeded things, flutes and properly-played recorders meet all requirements. And the slow movement of Mozart's clarinet concerto is definitely over-rated. Bach two fiddles, if you want the most glorious slow movement in the world.

Runners up: beer, modern Romance languages, apples, Star Wars (yes I like it, I just can't read it as a meta-narrative for everything), Harry Potter (diverting, but I'm still in the dark as to why it's such a craze), loud music in pubs, vodka, painting after c.1480, non-black-tie dinners (a bash without frocks? unnatural), the title 'Ms', flying to London rather than taking the train, milk in (most) tea, Newman's Apologia (I do think it's a very fine book; it's just that I, never having done the whole Anglican thing, can't personally empathise with the angst-ridden course of Tractarianism).

Oh yes, and to whom to pass the blogical baton? Anselmus and Mr McMorrin, if they'd be so kind.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

All your base are belong to Ratz!

Read the comments as well!

And here is something one of the commentators links to.

Not quite as funny as the Ratzenfreude animation.

Sometimes I impress even myself.

I used to laugh at stories of people burning pasta. However, old age is clearly coming on, or else I am just soooooo laid back that I make Zaphod Beeblebrox look like a bow-string. Burnt pasta, or, more often, burnt rice, is a taste I am quickly aquiring. Yesterday I carefully scooped rice out of melted boil-in bags, and this morning began scraping the plastic off the pot. Last week I had to soak the frying pan for two days to remove the black pudding I had left cooking on it and forgotten about.
Today, however, I have managed something quite new, and I think worthy of comment.
I have burnt boiled eggs.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

nolite hoc facere...

Very much in the 'Scotland and the cult of mediocrity' bracket - although not specifically Scottish, it must be said. The National Library of Scotland has a new logo, which can just be seen top right here - follow the link for a close-up:

The old one (still, thankfully, all over the website) looks like this:

Now, I think the older one is much prettier than the new, but that's not the point. The cause for concern is two-fold.

Firstly, the NLS - which, I should say, I love very much and find to be an excellent research library - is not exactly rolling in it. Like every library in the country, it struggles, as far as I know, to maintain its level of staff, get manuscript accessions catalogued as quickly and well as it would like, etc etc.. So why spend however much it must have cost to redevelop the wee picture atop of all the leaflets?

Second is in fact the answer which the powers that be in the NLS actually give, viz., that the new logo represents greater openness and accessibility.

'As readers know, NLS has been developing a new strategy based upon the principles of widening access to its collections and extending awareness of the relevance of the Library to modern Scotland.

The new logo on the cover of this issue leads the way, with its less formal style and its open and modern look...'


Do you feel oppressed by the celtic-coathanger squiggle? Do you feel put-upon by the weight of the Edinburgh bibliographical establishment? I don't. I may, of course, have internalised the patriarchal assumptions of the NLS's past to the extent that I am unable to judge clearly on such matters, but I suspect that the logo is not a major factor in putting anyone off the NLS. Again, couldn't the time, effort and money have been used on the other more sensible ideas that the library has in play?

Big old research libraries are among the last bastions of substance rather than style; please, dear NLS, don't go the way of the world!

Monday, May 09, 2005

To the Laodiceans....

Does anyone know the provenance of this text? I found it on an electronic copy of the Vulgate. It purports to be the Epistle of St Paul to The Laodiceans.

Laodiceans 1:1 Paulus apostolus non ab hominibus neque per hominem sed per Iesum Christum, fratribus qui sunt Laodiciae. 2 gratia vobis et pax a Deo Patre et Domino Iesu Christo. 3 gratias ago Christo per omnem orationem meam, quod permanentes estis in eo et perseverantes in operibus eius , promissum expectantes in diem iudicii . 4 neque destituant vos quorundam vaniloquia insinuantium, ut vos evertant a veritate evangelii quod a me praedicatur. 5 et nunc faciet Deus , ut qui sunt ex me ad profectum veritatis evangelii deservientes et facientes benignitatem operum quae aet 6 et nunc palam sunt vincula mea quae patior in Christo quibus laetor et gaudeo. 7 et hoc mihi est ad salutem perpetuam quod ipsum factum orationibus vestris et administrantem Spiritum Sanctum, sive per vitam sive per mortem. 8 est enim mihi vere vita in Christo et mori gaudium. 9 et in ipsum in vobis faciet misericordiam suam , ut eandem dilectionem habeatis et sitis unianimes. 10 ergo, dilectissimi, ut audistis praesentia mei , ita retinete et facite in timore Dei, et erit vobis vita in aeternum 11 est enim Deus qui operatur in vos . 12 et facite sine retractu quaecumque facitis. 13 et quod est , dilectissimi, gaudete in Christo. et praecavete sordidos in lucro . 14 omnes sint petitiones vestrae palam apud Deum . et estote firmi in sensu Christi. 15 et quae integra et vera et pudica et iusta et amabilia facite. 16 et quae audistis et accepistis, in corde retinete, et erit vobis pax. 17 18 salutant vos sancti . 19 gratia Domini Iesu cum spiritu vestro. 20 et facite legi Colosensium vobis .

Sunday, May 08, 2005


The Guardian acknowledges liberal wish-fulfillment and anti-Catholicism in Kingdom of Heaven. Well well.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

With the accustomed mature council...

(as Scottish bishops were wont to begin letters of mandate) - my tuppence-worth is that the election result won't change very much. The qualifications to be added to this are:
a) the reduced majority should make it more difficult for Mr Blair to pass controversial legislation, but the Lords have been doing a sterling job on this front anyway. (What is perhaps more worrying than Mr Blair's cavalier way with the Commons when he has a majority is New Labour's attitude to the Lords, which seems to have been less commented-on in the media. Government ministers keep moaning about unelected people blocking legislation when (hello!) the parliamentary system of the country does in fact include a completely legitimate and constitutional unelected upper house. Unelected elements of the government are not here on suffrance. But will this make the upper house less useful?)
b) the appearance and/or promotion of sogenannte Brownites like Ed Balls may or may not mean government is to be less 'Blairite.' I'm a trifle sceptical about the extent of the Blair-Brown rift, at any rate in terms of its effects upon what government does, but we'll see.
c) the whole issue of when Mr Blair will or will not step down. He hasn't shown much sensitivity to getting out or holding back when people want him to, so I don't expect him to depart gracefully or quickly. Unless he's going to be terribly cunning and resign much sooner than expected, giving us all very high hopes for Mr Brown as a nice sensible Fife Prime Minister, which will rapidly be dashed as he turns out to be just like all the rest of them - and this being Britain, over-excitement turns to cynicism faster than - well, faster than most rail services around the country, anyway.

I am intrigued by the remarkable slump in support for the SNP up here. I don't know why that is, and await 2007 with interest. (Which thought is so banal that it's hardly worth broadcasting to the internet - would someone else care to say something more constructive?) Unless boredom with Holyrood politics means that anything with an insular focus has come to seem unattractive? (How odd that 'insular' when referring to Scotland is the opposite of what is truly 'insular', viz (literally) the island of Great Britain or even (historically, technically) the whole British isles. No, that wasn't very interesting either, sorry.)

The better-informed (almost everyone) are welcome to disagree totally and explain why the next four years will see radical changes in British politics.

(Meanwhile, of course, we seem to be trekking into a Brave New World, but it will all happen very quietly and the government will ignore it, as it is a matter for Personal Morality. Even though there's legislation about it. St Gianna Molla, pray for us!)

Friday, May 06, 2005


Well, so far -

Labour 355
Tory 197
Lib Dem 62
Everyone else 7
(A few seats still to declare.)

In Caledonia fair that's:

Labour 41 (down 5)
Lib Dem 11 (up 2)
SNP 6 (up 2 - gaining Western Isles and, just, Dundee East)
Tory 1 (no change, but it's a different solitary seat)

Pretty pictures from the BBC, and, rather pointlessly now, their DIY swingometer for what might have been...

Not quite sure what to make of this. A majority of 66 for Mr Blair - not as much reduced as it might have been. And what to make of Mr Howard's plan to stand down? Oh well. Possibly more insightful analysis to follow after lost sleep recovered. Or possibly not.

Papal arms

Maybe everyone already noticed this, but anyway, there they are, in colour and in the form noted earlier, on the Vatican website.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Slightly disappointing

Cnytr draws attention to the welcome return of the Latin Lover, which alas reveals that Benedict's first speech was translated from Italian into Latin by Reginald Foster. Oh well.

Fr Foster proclaims that, if it were read out clearly, 'a dog could understand it.' I reckon by his standards I have an amoeba's cognitive ability on the Latin front. Sigh.

Every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth...

Has anyone noticed the disturbing trend for a bow of reverence to be substituted for the genuflection when passing in front of the Blessed Sacrament? This seems to stem from a misreading of paragraph 274 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2002). This explains that one must genuflect to the tabernacle (if it is in the sanctuary) when approaching the altar at the beginning and the end of Mass (regardless of the where in the sanctuary the tabernacle is) otherwise the altar just gets a bow. It then goes on to say "Otherwise all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession." So you bow to altars and genuflect to tabernacles apart from at the beginning and end of Mass when, even if the tabernacle isn't behind the altar, you ignore the altar and genuflect to the tabernacle.

But in this age of declining piety and love for our Lord in the Eucharist this has been misread as meaning that during Mass you should ignore the Blessed Sacrament and bow to the altar instead! (As if the Mass had nothing to do with the Blessed Sacrament). This is a serious mistake because the same paragraph is very clear that "A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament" while "A bow signifies reverence and honour shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them" (275). Thus to merely bow when passing before the Blessed Sacrament implies either that one denies the real presence and admits the Eucharist only as symbol of Christ, or that one denies the divinity of Christ and is willing only to give Him reverence and honour rather than adoration. This interpretation would also have the absurd consequence that even after the consecration when the Blessed Sacrament is on the altar itself one ought to continue bowing to the altar (a mere symbol of Our Lord) and ignoring Our Lord Himself really present on the altar. It may be that people who interpret the rubric as forbidding genuflection to the tabernacle do not act in this way, but logically they should.

While the initial effect of this misinterpretation is that Priests and servers only genuflect outside and at the beginning and end of Mass; very rapidly the genuflection is omitted altogether both by Priest and people. Thus the impression is given that the doctrine of the real presence has been rejected wholesale. Often the only laity one ever sees genuflect today are those who haven't been to Mass for a long time and whose rusty habits were formed in a more pious era.

Here is the text in full (my emphases)

274. A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.

During Mass, three genuflections are made by the priest celebrant: namely, after the showing of the host, after the showing of the chalice, and before Communion. Certain specific features to be observed in a concelebrated Mass are noted in their proper place (cf. above, nos. 210-251).

If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself.

Otherwise all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession.

Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting.

274. Genuflexio, quae fit dextero genu flectendo usque ad terram, adorationem significat; ideoque reservatur Ss.mo Sacramento, et sanctae Cruci inde a sollemni adoratione in Actione liturgica feriae VI in Passione Domini, usque ad initium Vigiliae paschalis.

In Missa tres genuflexiones fiunt a sacerdote celebrante, hoc est: post ostensionem hostiae, post ostensionem calicis et ante Communionem. Peculiaritates in Missa concelebrata servandae suis locis notantur (cf. nn. 210-251).

Si vero tabernaculum cum SS.mo Sacramento sit in presbyterio, sacerdos, diaconus et alii ministri genuflectunt, cum ad altare perveniunt, vel ab eo recedunt, non autem durante ipsa Missae celebratione.

Secus genuflectunt omnes qui ante Ss.mum Sacramentum transeunt, nisi processionaliter incedant.

Ministri qui crucem processionalem vel cereos deferunt, loco genuflexionis inclinationem capitis faciunt.

God is gone up with a triumphant shout!

Coelos ascendit hodie
Jesus Christus Rex Gloriae:
Sedet ad Patris dexteram,
Gubernat coelum et terram.
Iam finem habent omnia
Patris Davidis carmina.
Iam Dominus cum Domino
Sedet in Dei solio:
In hoc triumpho maximo
Benedicamus Domino.
Laudetur Sancta Trinitas,
Deo dicamus gratias,
Alleluia. Amen.

He has ascended into the heavens today, Jesus Christ, the King of Glory; he sits at the Father's right, he governs heaven and earth. Now all father David's songs have their fulfillment; now the Lord sits with the Lord on the throne of God. In this greatest triumph, let us bless the Lord! The Holy Trinity be praised; let us give thanks to God. Alleluia! Amen.

Alleluia! Not as orphans
Are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us,
Faith believes, nor questions how:
Though the cloud from sight received him,
When the forty days were o’er,
Shall our hearts forget his promise,
'I am with you evermore'?

Alleluia! Bread of Angels,
Here on earth our food, our stay!
Alleluia! Here the sinful
Flee to thee from day to day:
Intercessor, friend of sinners,
Earth’s redeemer, plead for me,
Where the songs of all the sinless
Sweep across the crystal sea.

'This must be Thursday. I never could get the hand of Thursdays.'

Oh dear oh dear, it looks like I'm going to have to vote Tory. SPUC Scotland inform me that he's the pro-est life of the candidates in Edinburgh East. Even though he never replied to my e-mail. Hmm. Having received replies from Labour (eventually), Lib Dem, SNP and Green, I'm more impressed with their responsiveness to constituents, but unhappy with their positions. But Tory... sigh...

It only occurred to me yesterday that the most constructive thing to do with this election is to pray madly about it. How often do I complain to God about the state of the nation without asking Him to pour out the graces He has in store? Perhaps His Divine Mercy will shield us, as it did Poland, from what we deserve.

Deus det vivis gratiam, defunctis requiem: Ecclesiae, Reginae, Regnoque nostro, pacem et concordiam: et nobis peccatoribus vitam aeternam.

Sancte Andrea: ora pro nobis.
Sancta Margareta: ora pro nobis.
Sancte Johanne Ogilvie: ora pro nobis.
Sancte Edwarde: ora pro nobis.
Sancte Edmunde: ora pro nobis.
Sancte Georgi: ora pro nobis.
Sancte David: ora pro nobis.
Sancte Patrici: ora pro nobis.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi: parce nobis, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi: exaudi nos, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi: miserere nobis.

Keith AGAIN!

Bit of a Winning transformation here.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Killing time . . .

It's not as though I don'thave thigs to do, but I am having to lurk expensively for several hours today because times and places have not joined up well. This is the most expensive internet caff I've come across. And the mouse wheel is useless.
So. One at least of my fellow bloggers will recall conversations about the fact that talking to people about the faith is no good, they have to be able to live it (hence e.g. my dragging unsuspecting people to Lichtenstein).
Here some stuff on Catholicvilles.
A more extreme example of taking-people-on-retreats - reality TV saves souls.
From Cacciaguida, a quote from McIntyre:
"Significance of the name Benedict
After Virtue, by Alasdair MacIntyre (a Catholic now, though not when he wrote AV; "Scotland the Brave" will be played in the lobby following this post). That book famously ended with a comparison of our condition to that of the twilight of the Western Roman Empire, and with these words:
What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; that have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another -- doubtless very different -- St. Benedict."
And an interview on EWTN some time ago:
Raymond: The Pope has talked a great deal about the New Springtime and you, yourself have laid out your own ideas. Your vision is a little different from some. Some see the numbers growing and everybody believing and dancing hand-in-hand (the Cardinal chuckles) into the millennium. You see a different picture. Tell us what that picture involves. How do you see this Springtime evolving?
Cardinal: As I do not exclude even this dancing hand-in-hand, but this is only one moment. And my idea is that really the springtime of the Church will not say that we will have in a near time buses of conversions, that all peoples of the world will be converted to Catholicism. This is not the way of God. The essential things in history begin always with the small, more convinced communities. So, the Church begins with the 12 Apostles. And even the Church of St. Paul diffused in the Mediterranean are little communities, but this community in itself is the future of the world, because we have the truth and the force of conviction. So, I think also today it should be an error to think now or in 10 years with the new springtime, all people will be Catholic. This is not our future, nor our expectation. But we will have really convinced communities with élan of the faith, no? This is springtime — a new life in very convinced persons with joy of the faith.
Raymond: But, smaller numbers? In the macro?
Cardinal: Smaller numbers, I think. But from these small numbers we will have a radiation of joy in the world. And so, it’s an attraction, as it was in the old Church. Even when Constantine made Christianity the public religion, there were a small number of percentage at this time; but it was clear, this is the future. So we can live in the future, just give us a way in a different future. And so, I would say, if we have young people really with the joy of the faith and this radiation of this joy of the faith, this will show to the world, “Even if I cannot share it, even if I cannot convert it at this moment, here is the way to live for tomorrow.”
Raymond: Um hum. Do you see the various movements in the Church as part of that ongoing conversion? And is there a danger there, that we get into this competitive Factionalism, if you will, in the Church that we all have to be a part of it if we are going to be a serious Catholic?

Cardinal: Yes, on the on hand, I am really a friend of movements – Communione e Liberazione, Focolare, and the Charismatic Renewal. I think this is a sign of the Springtime and of the presence of the Holy Spirit, today will give new charisms and so on. This is for me really a great hope that not with organization from authorities, but really it is the force of the Holy Spirit present in the people. We have movements and new beginnings of the faith, new forms of the faith. On the other hand, I think it is important that these movements are not closed in themselves and absolutized; but have to understand that even if I’m convinced this is the way, I have to accept we are one way and not the way, and we have to be open for the others, in communion with the others. And essentially we have to be really present and even obedient to the common Church in presence with the bishops and the Pope. Only with this openness to not be absolutized with its ideas and to be in service of the common Church, of the Universal Church, can be really a way for tomorrow.
So. Schwendt, anyone?
(You see? We like cats, we recommend the rosary for insomnia, we think Catholicvilles are the way forward. I have had a great influence on the pope over the years.)
And now for something completely different.
Apparently the Regius Prof of divinity at Cambridge once gave a lecture, soon after his appointment, to a select group of dons and graduates and whatnot at Oxford. He spoke about his theory of self-salvation. After he had gone on for an hour or so it came to questions. Henry Mayr-Harting, a historian present by virtue of his chair (ecclesiastical history) being a divinity chair, asked if he might attempt to sum up the theory. Permission granted by the speaker, Mayr-Harting gies a one-sentence definition of self-salvation. "Now, I wonder if you might tell me the difference between that concept, and this one?", repeating the same sentence omitting only the "self-" before salvation. It is evident that there is no difference in meaning whatsoever. Ward splutters a little before coming out with "I'm afraid I feel very strongly about this!".
Feel some more pain here (also found on UtUnum Sint).
And e-bay are no longer going to sell consecrated hosts!
Ah, Keith, bless him, always that little personal touch. "I looked down from the balcony at the cheering crowd. Among the waving flags I saw a Saltire, which brought to mind the day when I too had waved the flag on that square when I was made a cardinal." Let's start a Cardinal O'Brien When-I-was-made-a-cardinal reference list!
Blogger won't format this post te way I tell it, sorry about the lack of white space.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Olim die inventionis Sanctae Crucis

O Magnum pietatis opus! Mors mortua tunc est, in ligno quando mortua Vita fuit, Alleluia.

Salva nos, Christe Salvator, per virtutem Crucis : qui salvasti Petrum in mari, miserere nobis, alleluia.

Ecce Crucem Domini, fugite, partes adversae, vicit leo de tribu Juda, radix David, alleluia.

O great work of kindness! Death then died, when Life died on the tree. Alleluia!
Save us, O Christ the Saviour, by the power of the Cross : thou who saved Peter in the sea, have mercy on us. Alleluia.
Behold the Cross of the Lord; flee, ye enemy armies: the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered. Alleluia!

Die Sanctorum Apostolorum Philippi et Jacobi

Monday, May 02, 2005

Fat Priest

Cafeteria atheism?

This is very funny, though presumably that's not the intended effect...

(Oh dear, I suppose it's horribly sad as well. Someone shows you a window, and you congratulate them on the lovely metaphorical picture...)

Go Keith!

That news monitor thing has a description of the original event.

How did I miss this? (I was rotting in the trans-Atlantic colonies, that's how).

Here it is as reported in the Rainbow Network (can't get the Scotsman archive search to work - I googled it, not my usual reading).

Well, at least we can be sure that our poor MSPs won't be forced to hear anything they don't like. Like why a country of 5 million maybe doesn't need a parliament of more than one hundred members . . .