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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Vatican newspaper reveals rising star in galaxy of church thinkers

As previously featured on Laodicea...

Happy Trads

World Youth Day. Well. As berenike notes, I was struck down with illness and exhaustion afterwards, neither of which has quite departed, so expect more addled, half-formed, ill-expressed thoughts for the moment. Nonetheless, since to our fast-moving world WJT is already a long time ago, here are some woefully unintellectual and un-analytical postcards. I was there with Juventutem, a Tridentine Rite umbrella group which turned out to be mostly French. First theme of the week: mild Anglophone-French tension. Well, not tension; more that each group was secure in its own feeling of superiority to the other... in an entirely charitable way...

Happy trads! How lovely to have a week of old rite Masses, in a church packed with young people, none of whom were of the '50s time-warp sort. (The last few anglophones, in a cafe in Cologne after it was all over, were all admitting their fear that everyone else there would turn out to be a complete lunatic, what berenike calls the 'tweed pants brigade.' Happy this was not so.*) And yes, sometimes our conversations went off into moaning about bishops who obfuscate and don't allow the Trid Mass to be said, or insist on dead-of-night secrecy etc etc; but for the most part, it was a week happily free of trad paranoia, and full of people just getting on with trying to be Catholics - venientes adorare Eum, indeed.

Less happy trads with all the mundane stuff, like communal showers (genders separated, folks, don't panic), very deficient food organisation (WJT, not Juventutem), and never knowing what we were going to be doing until it happened (and sometimes not then... rambling aimlessly through back streets of Cologne for an hour, anyone...). I have never been on anything that could really be described as a pilgrimage before - sadly can't convince myself that strolling from Santa Maria degli Angeli to Assisi counts - and in these hardships (pretty minimal, when one thinks about them) the pilgrimage nature of WJT really comes out. It's the Lenten experience of realising how weak and feeble one is when deprived of some of the props of fleshly security. All this was, I suspect, the fast-acting result of praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary on the Monday with lots of intentions for mortification of whatnot. Our Blessed Mother sometimes gives us our medicine in short order.

Random images... Praying that rosary in the beautiful St-Andreas, the Dominican church, in Düsseldorf [kudos to Petra for leaving instructions on the code for umlauts in our comments box, by the way! Gratias ago tibi!], before Our Lord in the monstrance.
- The stalwart FSSP seminarians in their lovely cassocks, and their high-quality head-gear: one biretta, one Father Brown hat, one Senegalese straw hat. Marvellous.
- Two occasions when people wanted to take photos of several of us girls, apparently just because we had head-coverings on (the others had nice mantillas whereas I just had some scruffy headscarf, so it was on their account rather than mine!).
- Various attempts in various languages to explain to people what Juventutem was all about... With one German lady: 'Ah, Juventutem! Also für die Kinder?' 'Nein, nein, Juventutem wie in Introibo ad altare Dei... Die traditionelle lateinische Messe...' (rapid realisation that I should have found out the most common German way of referring to the old rite before going there - lovely teutonic readers of ours, what is it? What will people recognise instantly?)
- Juventutem bloggers! The charming Julie, who has two blogs and is a quality muso; and Aristotle, another quality muso whose blog has lots about Juventutem music. And I met someone who reads Laodicea without having been pressured into it by berenike, Aelianus or myself. No, really.
- Continentals can't queue. It's just one of those things. Communal showers are also the most hilariously effective way of vindicating national prejudices.
- Providential workings. Sitting on a train to Köln next to some Slavonic group, I tried my best Polish: 'Jestescie z Polskii?' They turned out to be Ukrainian, so we talked English. And the chap I was sitting next to turned out to be looking to get in touch with an English Juventutem chap he knew, with a view to liaising between Juventutem and the Ukrainians. Said English chap later turned out to have lost Ukrainian chap's number. So had I not been sitting there on that train, and had I not been making feeble attempts to learn Polish before visiting berenike... God is good indeed.
- Ukrainian rite Liturgy! I'd never been to one before. And in fact I only got to half of one. But there were three bishops in crowns!!!
(Note exclamation marks replacing analysis in the decaying Boecian brain. Wonder if the gentleman from whom my name derives ever lost his scholarly capacities (far greater than mine, anyhow) to this extent while jaunting about the Continent?)

But the best bits of the week were the Masses and the Pope. Especially Benediction at Marienfeld. About which more later, God willing. For now: other people's photos! links from Aristotle. Note especially Archbishop Haas!!!

*Disclaimer: I like tweed. I rather like '50s fashions. I just refuse to associate this with liturgy in any apparently necessary way...

pre-WJT thoughts

I wrote this before Cologne, and still am not sure if it's worth posting, but hey, what's a blog for if not to allow the world access to one's addled, half-formed, ill-expressed thoughts?

In Sainsbury's the other day, I noted the headlines on the cover of one of the cheaper glossies:




This seems to summarise some chief cultural preoccupations in Britain today... I was about to say, 'how depressing', but then remembered that a rather liberal friend was telling me off for being too negative, and indeed berating the Church for being too negative. On the one hand, of course, the Church is certainly not too negative. We must not say 'Peace, peace' where there is no peace - there are things worth being negative about. Like money-changers in the Temple... Our perspective is also skewed by our media, which prefers the negative - 'Vatican cracks down on contraception' is a better headline than 'Contraception contradicts the inscribed meaning of the nuptial act, Pontiff notes.' At the same time, however, it is easy for individuals like me (despite only having been Catholic for five minutes, and being surprised by the proverbial joy) to be too negative. (Frivolous aside: especially when the conversation is taking place in a cafe which has stopped its student discount 'for the Festival'! Rargh!) Similarly, when recently in the pub with friendly neighbourhood Dominican, we were pondering how to take a more useful approach to the current local liturgical situation than just moaning about problems. And Cacciaguida made a good observation recently: 'Liturgical activism is not a form of interior life; in fact it tends to drive out the real thing by undermining faith and promoting sloth, which, classically defined, is sadness about the things of God. Sloth is highly compatible with activism, btw.'

All of which reminds me of something a Presbyterian minister said in a children's address, circa 1995: 'Hint for you, children. When I ask a question, the answer will almost always be 'God,' 'Jesus,' or 'Yes'.' Obviously what the Church is actually doing is showing Her Lord to the world. Obviously what most of us (me, anyhow) are failing to do is to live this out very effectively in our own spheres. It is easier to complain about things than to be a saint, which, as Peter Kreeft points out in a wee book I was just reading, is the only way forward. In other words, say Yes to God, and display Jesus, the answer to all the world's questions. Interior conversion turns out to be the starting point. Again.

The sanctuary lamp is, I suppose, the Church being positive. It says, 'He's still here, folks. He still loves you. He Who created you out of love and deigned to become man, deigns to speak in the words of His priests and offer Himself in His priests' hands.' This is not going to make the BBC front page any time soon, I dare say. On the other hand, if we acted as if we really believed it, it might. How remarkably I manage to disregard the almost terrifying whole-heartedness of Jesus's self-giving in every Mass; how listlessly and feebly many (if not most) of us respond to His love!

Sorry, this isn't exactly profound or original.

Monday, August 29, 2005

End of vac

Sent Boeciana off on her way home, on the 1800 to Brussels. Ice-cream, cake and mosquitoes (-os?) at my aunt's, and then to bed. This after a week of sun, swimming (well, me, while Boeciana was lying in the sun - yes, really, despite her skin-cancer obsession - and snoozing off the WYD-induced exhaustion and fever that hit her after hitting my granny's country seat) sight-seeing and not quite enough sleeping.
We saw: the interesting medieval collection at the Muzeum Narodowe in Warsaw, and the Nubian or suchlike frescoes kept there, from a dig in Sudan. The unexpectedly good city historical museum. An un-labelled unpretentious doorway leads into what one expects to be a few rooms with Roman coins and nineteenth-century pipes, but in fact takes up about fifteen houses and has sixty-one rooms, with lots of detailed maps of economic activity in the old and new towns in 1473 and things of that sort, which we enjoyed very much. A one-day dash around Krakow, enough to realise that one day is not enough. We saw the preparations for the ingress (?) of the new archbishop, which was to be the next day. That next day saw us in Czestochowa, where we did the "squint at the icon for three minutes while short stout old ladies push past muttering under their breath" and then conducted a survey of the tat on offer.
Did you know the archbishop of Warsaw consecrated the nuncio Ratti, the future Pius XI? And lots of other stuff, but as real life has now begun (two meetings today to sign contracts, re-sits to think about, driving test, this morning in the internet caff from 6 in the morning trying to proof-read stuff for a 9 a.m. deadline and not flick through blogs) I will leave it to Boeciana, who is an arts student and therefore has nothing much to do.


Will the Universal Indult be granted?
Is this true? I paste it below, from Cacciaguida, who got it from somewhere else:
But it gets even better: Pope Benedict personally pencilled in some changes -- changes not just to the English translation, but apparently to the Latin text of the Roman Missal. One of those changes is a return to TWO Confiteors instead of one. Also, it seems the Confiteor will return to something very close to the pre-1970 form* -- i.e., it seems that the names eliminated from the Confiteor's "litany" will be restored. (The seminarian wasn't sure on that point, because he didn't have the Missal translation in front of him at the time. I'll get to verify these things he's told me next week, and then I'll post a follow-up comment -- if any of this information is wrong, I'll correct it then.)
Well, given what happened to the liturgical abuses in most British churches after the Instruction on certain questions concerning the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful (i.e. nothing), what happebed to the liturgical abuses in at least one Edinburgh parish church after Redemptionis Sacramentum (i.e. nothing), and what has happened after all the hoo-ha about ICEL's long-overdue dissolution (where is this new translation?, we ask ourselves) etc etc ad nauseam, I am not getting too excited.
I'm still excited enough about the result of the conclave.

Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, thou alone hast destroyed all heresies in the whole world!

"O Immaculata... use all that I am and have without reserve wholly to accomplish what was said of you: 'She will crush your head,' and, 'You alone have destroyed all the heresies in the whole world' On the statues and pictures of the Immaculata we always see the serpent at her feet, surrounding the globe of the earth, as she crushes the head of the serpent. Satan, soiled by sin, endeavors to soil all souls on earth. He hates her who was always unspotted. He waits for her heel in the persons of her children; she crushes his head in the fight in the person of everyone who has recourse to her. We ask her to use us if she wishes, as an instrument to crush the head of the proud serpent in unfortunate souls. Holy Scripture adds, quoting the verse mentioned above, And you shall lie in wait for her heel. The evil spirit really lies in wait in a special way for those who dedicate themselves to the Immaculata; he desires to insult her at least in them. His endeavour against sincerely dedicated souls always ends with his more shameful defeat, hence his fury is more violent, impotently furious. The words, You alone have destroyed all heresies in the world, are taken from the prayers* which the Church orders her priests to say about her. The Church says 'heresies' and not the heretics, whom she loves, and because of this love desires to free them from the error of heresy. The Church says 'all,' without any exception; 'alone,' since 'she' alone suffices. God is hers with all the treasures of grace for the conversion and sanctification of souls. No corner of the earth is excluded in the whole world... we beg her to use us to destroy the whole serpent coiled about the earth, the serpent representing the various heresies." - St. Maximilian Kolbe

*The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which can be purchased or used online. Plus, an interesting article on how Our Lady might be assisted in said task.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?

Jesus' cry on the Cross, dear Brothers and Sisters, is not the cry of anguish of a man without hope, but the prayer of the Son who offers his life to the Father in love, for the salvation of all. At the very moment when he identifies with our sin, "abandoned" by the Father, he "abandons" himself into the hands of the Father. His eyes remain fixed on the Father. Precisely because of the knowledge and experience of the Father which he alone has, even at this moment of darkness he sees clearly the gravity of sin and suffers because of it. He alone, who sees the Father and rejoices fully in him, can understand completely what it means to resist the Father's love by sin. More than an experience of physical pain, his Passion is an agonizing suffering of the soul. Theological tradition has not failed to ask how Jesus could possibly experience at one and the same time his profound unity with the Father, by its very nature a source of joy and happiness, and an agony that goes all the way to his final cry of abandonment. The simultaneous presence of these two seemingly irreconcilable aspects is rooted in the fathomless depths of the hypostatic union.

Faced with this mystery, we are greatly helped not only by theological investigation but also by that great heritage which is the "lived theology" of the saints. The saints offer us precious insights which enable us to understand more easily the intuition of faith, thanks to the special enlightenment which some of them have received from the Holy Spirit, or even through their personal experience of those terrible states of trial which the mystical tradition describes as the "dark night". Not infrequently the saints have undergone something akin to Jesus' experience on the Cross in the paradoxical blending of bliss and pain. In the Dialogue of Divine Providence, God the Father shows Catherine of Siena how joy and suffering can be present together in holy souls: "Thus the soul is blissful and afflicted: afflicted on account of the sins of its neighbour, blissful on account of the union and the affection of charity which it has inwardly received. These souls imitate the spotless Lamb, my Only-begotten Son, who on the Cross was both blissful and afflicted". In the same way, Therese of Lisieux lived her agony in communion with the agony of Jesus, "experiencing" in herself the very paradox of Jesus's own bliss and anguish: "In the Garden of Olives our Lord was blessed with all the joys of the Trinity, yet his dying was no less harsh. It is a mystery, but I assure you that, on the basis of what I myself am feeling, I can understand something of it". What an illuminating testimony! Moreover, the accounts given by the Evangelists themselves provide a basis for this intuition on the part of the Church of Christ's consciousness when they record that, even in the depths of his pain, he died imploring forgiveness for his executioners (cf. Lk 23:34) and expressing to the Father his ultimate filial abandonment: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Lk 23:46).


Wednesday, August 24, 2005


The Holy Father is apparently meeting with the head of the Society of St Pius X on August 29 to the discomforture of some of its more more extreme leaders. Apparently they are asking for a universal indult (fine) and the lifting of the excommunication on Lefebvre (hmmm). What is the point or meaning of lifting an excommunication on a dead person? It cant make any difference to him. It would seem an odd thing to do in the light of his obvious disobedience. Presumably the SSPX see in it an implicit concession that the wickedness of Vatican II and Paul VI was so great that this was ok. If so, that seems a good reason not to agree to it even if it is possible. See: letter by Paul VI in French, longer and more important one in Latin (English translation), and Apostolic letter of John Paul II.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Pius XII on Christ's human omniscience

"Now the only-begotten Son of God embraced us in His infinite knowledge and undying love even before the world began. And that He might give a visible and exceedingly beautiful expression to this love, He assumed our nature in hypostatic union: hence - as Maximus of Turin with a certain unaffected simplicity remarks - 'in Christ our own flesh loves us.' But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all that the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the Beatific Vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced them with His redeeming love. O marvelous condescension of divine love for us! O inestimable dispensation of boundless charity! In the crib, on the Cross, in the unending glory of the Father, Christ has all the members of the Church present before Him and united to Him in a much clearer and more loving manner than that of a mother who clasps her child to her breast, or than that with which a man knows and loves himself." Pius XII Mystici Corporis 75

The Heresies of Hans Urs von Balthasar

...or a small selection thereof.

"Catholics to Poland! Traitors! Agents of the West!"

The principal see of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church moved from Lvov to Kiev yesterday, with the blessing of the Holy See but most emphatically not with that of the Moscow patriarchate. Hgna hgna hgna. The congregation at the Basilian fathers' place last Sunday definitely showed a few smiles when the bishop alluded to the Muscovites' displeasure. Though I hasten to add it was only a gentle smile on both parts, the Muscovites got only a mention and there was no bile.
Note the Latin crucifix in the piccie behind Husar.
The first Divine Liturgy in the new cathedral was picketed by over a thousand people allegedly ancouraged by pro-Russian Orthodox clergy, and including clergy of the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (or whatever the official English name is). Several people trying to get to the church were physically hassled.

The Byzantine-rite Catholics have been persecuted in the Ukraine since the partition of Poland (except in that part that was under Hapsburg rule) under the tsars and under the Communists. The union was forcefully dissolved by the tsars, and during the Soviet era the church functioned underground. My former room-mate remembers the woman who taught her the catechism, whom she discovered to be a religious only after some years.
The Muscovites claim that they are the inheritors of the Christian tradition of Kievan Rus. Ask one day a Russian and a Ukrainian to tell you the history of the Ukraine . . . (probably best not within each other's hearing).
The BBC story.

Now I am going to pack and move house.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Homosexual adoption in Scotland

Probably this was in the SPUC news digest. Write some letters, people.
Here's the letter I found out about it from, published in your friendly local Edinburger rag:

The Scottish Executive has accepted in principle the recommendation that same sex couples (ie homosexual couples) should be allowed to adopt children, and a consultation paper has been issued inviting voters to register their objections by 31 October, 2005.

Few people, it seems, know about this proposal and even fewer about any consultation paper. Therefore, may I appeal for anybody with a view to write to R Girvan, Children and Young People's Group, 2C(S), Scottish Executive, Victoria Quay Edinburgh?

Fir Park, Tillicoultry

Thursday, August 18, 2005


They've gone to Cologne, I'm going to my granny's to sunbathe, swim and sulk.

Scratch yis later.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


If this is full of funny symbols, go to View at the top of your window, Coding, and choose Unicode. I can't face putting in all the html code.

Die Welt: Ein anderes Bodenpersonal, das vom „Spiegel“, hat sich im Vorfeld des Weltjugendtages über Sie erregt und den Kölner Erzbischof als „Gotteskrieger vom Rhein“ und „Fundamentalist“ beschimpft. Wie sehr ärgert Sie das?

Kardinal Meisner: Wissen Sie, ich habe nach diesem ‘Spiegel’-Bericht viele Briefe bekommen, in denen mir die Leute gratulierten, welche großartige Evangelisierung der ‘Spiegel’ damit betrieben hat. Ich habe 40 Jahre im Kommunismus gewirkt und bin die ganze Zeit von keiner Zeitung gelobt worden. Da wäre ich ja erschrocken und hätte Gewissensforschung betreiben müssen, ob ich etwas verkehrt gemacht habe. So geht es mir auch beim ‘Spiegel’. Dort will ich gar nichts Positives über mich lesen.

Die Welt: Das muß aber Kardinal Lehmann, den Vorsitzenden der deutschen Bischofskonferenz, beunruhigen. Der wird öfter im „Spiegel“ belobigt.Kardinal Meisner: Darüber muß Kardinal Lehmann sich selbst Gedanken machen.

Der Erzbischof von Köln, Joachim Kardinal Meisner, im Gespräch mit Die Welt 14. August 2005: zitiert Kreuz.net

und, teilweis wia Lumen de lumine:

GA: Erwarten Sie denn auch kritische Stimmen gegenüber der Kirche?

Meisner: Sie müssen wissen, es ist kein Seniorentreffen, sondern ein Jugendtreffen. Da braucht man die Drewermanns und Küngs und die von vorgestern nicht. Für die ist hier nichts vorgesehen, weil keinen Jugendlichen der alte Schmarrn interessiert, den die dauernd verzapfen. Aber es geht viel kritischer zu, nämlich in der Beichte. Und da bin ich kritisch mir gegenüber, nicht anderen gegenüber.

- - -

GA: Sie haben einmal gesagt, sie wären sehr traurig gewesen, dass Johannes Paul nicht mehr kommen würde.

Meisner: Bei der Aufbahrung des alten Papstes in Rom hat mich das heulende Elend gepackt und ich sagte zu ihm: Heiliger Vater, Du machst Dich davon und mich armen Hund lässt Du mit der ganzen Last des Weltjugendtags zurück. Wie soll das weitergehen? Da bekam ich eine Erleuchtung, und er sagte zu mir: Du musst es doch wissen. Wenn ein Heiliger im Himmel ist, dann geht's doch erst richtig los. Ich mach Euch einen Weltjugendtag, wie es ihn noch nie gegeben hat.

Bonner General-Anzeiger

Sunday, August 14, 2005

That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.

Thomism and the New Theology (1950)

From a bad website but well worth reading...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

"The Words of the Bible and of the Church Fathers rang in my ears, those sharp condemnations of shepherds who are like mute dogs, in order to avoid conflicts, they let the poison spread. Peace is not the first civic duty, and a bishop whose only concern is not to have any problems and to gloss over as many conflicts as possible is an image I find repulsive." - Benedict XVI

Pius XII on Capitalism and Socialism (1942)

In one field of social life, where for a whole century there was agitation and bitter conflict, there is today a calm, at least on the surface. We speak of the vast and ever growing world of labour, of the immense army of workers, of breadwinners and dependents. If we consider the present with its wartime exigencies, as an admitted fact, then this calm may be called a necessary and reasonable demand; but if we look at the present situation in the light of justice, and with reference to a legitimately regulated labour movement, then the tranquility will remain only apparent, until the scope of such a movement be attained.

Always moved by religious motives, the Church has condemned the various forms of Marxist Socialism; and she condemns them today, because it is her permanent right and duty to safeguard men from currents of thought and influences that jeopardize their eternal salvation. But the Church cannot ignore or overlook the fact that the worker in his efforts to better his lot, is opposed by a machinery which is not only not in accordance with nature, but is at variance with God's plan and with the purpose He had in creating the goods of earth.

In spite of the fact that the ways they followed were and are false and to be condemned, what man, and especially what priest or Christian, could remain deaf to the cries that rise from the depths and call for justice and a spirit of brotherly collaboration in a world ruled by a just God? Such silence would be culpable and unjustifiable before God, and contrary to the inspired teaching of the Apostle, who, while he inculcates the need of resolution in the fight against error, also knows that we must be full of sympathy for those who err, and open-minded in our understanding of their aspirations, hopes and motives.

When He blessed our first parents, God said: "Increase and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it." And to the first father of a family, He said later: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." The dignity of the human person, then, requires normally as a natural foundation of life the right to the use of the goods of the earth. To this right corresponds the fundamental obligation to grant private ownership of property, if possible, to all. Positive legislation regulating private ownership may change and more or less restrict its use. But if legislation is to play its part in the pacification of the community, it must prevent the worker, who is or will be a father of a family, from being condemned to an economic dependence and slavery which is irreconcilable with his rights as a person. Whether this slavery arises from the exploitation of private capital or from the power of the state, the result is the same. Indeed, under the pressure of a State which dominates all and controls the whole field of public and private life, even going into the realm of ideas and beliefs and of conscience, this lack of liberty can have the more serious consequences, as experience shows and proves.

Speculum sanctitatis

St Clare of Assisi to Bl Agnes of Prague, who was becoming a Franciscan nun to the general disapproval of friends and family.

'Happy, indeed, is she to whom it is given to share this sacred banquet, to cling with all her heart to Him Whose beauty all the heavenly hosts admire unceasingly, Whose love inflames our love, Whose contemplation is our refreshment, Whose graciousness is our joy, Whose gentleness fills us to overflowing, Whose remembrance brings a gentle light, Whose fragrance will revive the dead, Whose glorious vision will be the happiness of all the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem.

'Inasmuch as this vision is the splendour of eternal glory Heb. 1:3), the brilliance of eternal light and the mirror without blemish (Wis. 7:26), look upon that mirror each day, O queen and spouse of Jesus Christ, and continually study your face within it, so that you may adorn yourself within and without with beautiful robes and cover yourself with the flowers and garments of all the virtues, as becomes the daughter and most chaste bride of the Most High King. Indeed, blessed poverty, holy humility, and ineffable charity are reflected in that mirror, as, with the grace of God, you can contemplate them throughout the entire mirror.

'Look at the parameters of this mirror, that is, the poverty of Him Who was placed in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. O marvellous humility, O astonishing poverty! The King of the angels, the Lord of heaven and earth, is laid in a manger! Then, at the surface of the mirror, dwell on the holy humility, the blessed poverty, the untold labours and burdens which He endured for the redemption of all mankind. Then, in the depths of this same mirror, contemplate the ineffable charity which led Him to suffer on the wood of the Cross and die thereon the most shameful kind of death. Therefore, that Mirror, suspended on the wood of the Cross, urged those who passed by to consider it, saying, 'All you who pass by this way, look and see if there is any suffering like My suffering!' (Lam. 1:12). Let us answer Him with one voice and spirit, as He said: Remembering this over and over leaves my soul downcast within me (Lam. 3:20)! From this moment, then, O queen of our heavenly King, let yourself be inflamed more strongly with the fervour of charity!'

from the Fourth Letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague, ?1253, in R.J. Armstrong and I.C. Brady, ed. & tr., Francis and Clare: The Complete Works, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York, 1982), pp.204-5.

NB The sort of mirror to which the metaphor refers is probably slightly concave polished metal, so different parts reflect the image differently.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Back to my proper job:

posting nice pictures of the Pope to fill in the time while Aelianus and Boeciana compose their next intellectual posts.


Found here.

And found here

And not the pope: Sosnowiec, night-time procession with the relics of St Therese. They were in the next parish (soon hopefully to be mine again) last night and this morning, but I can't find any photos yet. This one from here. I don't know what the spooky yellow light off-centre is, but the shiny arch-shaped thing in the middle must be the plastic case the reliquiary is in, seen from the end.

Communal Translating Project

This is not connected to anything on this blog, but I was talking to someone on a bulletin board which in a roundabout way lead to me reading the Angelic and Communal Doctor on Mtt 20:25ish, and thought I would bash out a translation of sorts. Much more interesting than a badly-written digest of Russian retail news. Do add comments. I did it in an hour or so so am proud of my speed if less so of the quality of the work!
Happy original here. You need to poke about a bit to get to where I started, search for Et primo ponit in medium exemplum gentilium.
First he places the example of the nations, secondly he teaches that the example is not to be followed (you know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them), thirdly he sets out what is to be followed (it shall not be so among you). Therefore Jesus called them to him, giving an example of humility. (as above, 11:29: learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart) And he said, you know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them. Among the Jews the gentiles were abominable, as it is said in 18:17, let him be to you as the heathen and the publican. Thus the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them inspired horror, whence it is to be known that this example is not to be imitated. But it should be noted that pre-emininence (being in charge, in command, at the head of) is of two kinds, namely of dignity and of power: and He speaks of them both when he says the princes of the Gentiles etc. Those are princes who preside ex officio. What's this? Is it bad to rule? To rule is sometimes said for to be at the head of, to be in command: and it is not to be taken in this way here: sometimes it is as though correlating to have for oneself ad servum, whence it is the same as to serviliter subdue a servus to oneself, and it is thus taken here. For princes are instituted that they might procure the good of those under them; if on the other hand they want to reduce them to servitudo then they abuse [their position], because they use the free as slaves: quia liber est qui est causa sui, servus qui causa alterius [eh?]. And because the custom is such among the gentiles, and is still among some, so He says, the princes of the people lord it over them, that is they reduce their subjects to slavery. Ezechiel xxii:27 her princes in the midst of her like ravening wolves [Thomas has principes tui, I have just gone along with the DR]. Likewise some have eminence not in dignity but in power, as some nobles. And the custom is that he who has power does not use it for the good [ad beneficium], but exercise power among them, in other words for oppression and not for justice. But the Lord does not want this custom in His church, and so He says it shall not be so among you, that is that there should not be among you one as it were dominating [dominativus – not in my trusty Collins gem, dominans is tyrant, tyrannical, dominor is to rule or fig. to lord it. NB Sunday vespers psalm Dixit Dominus . . . dominare in medio inimicorum tuorum, so it can't be all bad!][why has the Gem got only dominor, and the old Vulgate and Pius XII pss and my Dominican breviary got dominare? Anyone?] I Peter v, 3: neither as lording it over the clergy.
Against these two are set another two, but whosoever will be the greater among you; and this refers to the second saying, and they that are greater exercise power over them; that is as if someone desires to have praesidium in the Church [praesidentiam in Ecclesia spiritus sancti: what goes with Holy Spirit? And I am slightly making this sentence up], that he be like a minister, I Peter iv 10: as every man hath received grace, [oh I suppose praesidium goes with HS] ministering the same on to another, as good stewards, that the more you will have, the more you will spend in utilitas. So then to the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them He says this much, and whosoever will be the greater among you, will be your servant: that is, if anyone should desire to have primacy in the Church, he ought to know that this is not to have dominion, but servitutem. For he is servi [?]who has given his whole self to the service of the master: so the prelates of the Church should subdue all that they have, all that they are: I Cor ix:19 whereas I was free as to all, I made myself he servant of all; II Cor iv, 5: we your servants through Jesus. And so according to Chrysostom miserum est. And so it is said, that it [primacy in the Church] is not to be done according to the custom of the Gentiles. And so they could ask, what [example] should we follow? He said, follow Me, and showed Himself a minister saying as the Son of Man came not to be ministered to but to minister [yes, serve, am being slavish] But on the other hand is it not said above that angels came and ministered to him? (iv, 11) And in John xii, 2 it is said that Martha ministered. I say that He could be ministered to, but He did not come for this. So for what? That He Himself might minister, that is tender the abundance of glory to others. The apostle to the Romans, xv, 8: for I say that Christ Jesus was a minister of the circumcision. And in Luke xxii, 27: I am in your midst as one who ministers. But you say, is He then a servant, if He is a prince? Yes. The servant is he who is accepted in a price/fee [servus enim dicitur qui accipitur in pretium] : and He made Himself a price, and gave Himself as redemption for many; whence He came to minister, and to give his soul, that is His bodily life, a redemption for many. He does not say for all, though as far as sufficiency goes, it was for all, but in regard to efficacy, it is for the many, that is the elect. And so John xv, 13 greater love hath no man than to give his life for his friends, Jeremiah xii, 7 I have given my dear soul into the hand of her enemies.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


During an audience in 1990 John Paul II is supposed to have said "also the animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren". Obviously he means a vegetative mortal soul (and it has no doctrinal note) but it is quite an interesting stick with which to beat the crypto-Cartesians in our midst. The 1990 audiences are only found on the Vatican website in Spanish. Does anyone know the date of this audience or have an English copy of the address?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Indulgences for World Youth Day

Decree from the Penitentiary in above link. Also a piece in the Malta Times, via Papa Ratzi Post. Deo gratias.

Monday, August 08, 2005

R.I.P. Dom Maurus

A Requiem is finally to be said for the aged monk who went missing from Pluscarden three months ago. He may well be praying for his brethren by now, but say a prayer for him anyway. And while you're about it, for Robin Cook too.

Found via the Scottish Christian news monitor.
Sorry about all these short wee posts. Should anything intelligent shimmer through my head, I'll attempt to nail it down and feed it to blogger. Given the egregious mixedness of that metaphor, we may surmise that it will not be soon. Berenike, Aelianus, say something profound!

Cheer up your Monday morning -

- thanks to the BBC, which, for no particularly clear reason, has a nice wee article about the Tyburn Benedictines, with pictures.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

More on means of knowing

Dappled Things has an interesting post on evolution and the kinds of knowledge involved in the disciplines of biology and theology, including reflection on how God is known in creation. Controversial...

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Wir kommen, um Ihn anzubeten...

Amici di Dio suggest a novena to St Philip Neri for World Youth Day.

Georg Ratzinger out of hospital

Friday, August 05, 2005

Very sensible article in the Spectator

And you don't have to pay to read it. A Tory MP says 'Many moderate Muslims believe that much of Britain is decadent. They are right.' It is rare to hear the word 'decadent' used in any meaningful sense - one usually comes across it in nineteenth-century unthinking condemnations of the later middle ages.

'So, with little understanding of the past, little thought for the future, little respect for others and virtually no guidance from those appointed or elected to give it, many modern Britons - each with their wonderful, unique God-given potential - are condemned to be selfish, lonely creatures in a soulless society where little is worshipped beyond money and sex.

The roots of this brutal hedonism are in soulless liberalism. Against all the evidence, the liberal elite - who run much of Britain's politically correct new establishment - continue to preach their creed of freedom without duty, and rights without obligations. Pope John Paul II - perhaps the greatest figure of our age - said 'only the freedom which submits to the truth leads the human person to his true good'. Freedom without purpose is the seed corn of social decay. It is through the constraints on self-interest and the restraint that good Muslims revere that we can rebuild civil society. The most fitting response to the terrorist outrages would be the kind of moral and cultural renaissance that would make Britons of all backgrounds feel more proud of their country.'

He doesn't get round to saying - as Aelianus did below - that this is going to involve the Church spreading the Gospel, so the that 'the freedom which submits to the truth' can be discovered. This is nonetheless the best commentary on 'British values' that I have yet seen in the press, I think. Please come and be my MP, Mr Hayes... (just hope he's not a mad free market capitalist sort of Tory - I presume there isn't yet an All-Party Distributist Group in the Commons...)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Pray for the Pope's brother

Who has just had heart surgery.

I wasn't joking

A little use of the pause button and Google reveal that the prayer in The Slipper and the Rose is simply taken from the prayer over the bride in the old rite - it appears in this (1604, oddly)Sarum Rite wedding service, and here in the Pontifical Rite for a Wedding Mass (what makes a Mass pontifical, someone?). I don't know if it's the same as prayers over the bride in the new rite; I've only heard that once, and my only memory is that it seemed a wee bit unfair to pray so much for the bride and hardly at all for the groom.

Deus ... Respice propitius super hanc famulam tuam, quae maritali iungenda consortio, se tua expetit protectione muniri. Sit in ea iugum dilectionis & pacis: fidelis & casta nubat in Christo, imitatrixq[ue] sanctarum permaneat foeminarum. Sit amabilis viro suo vt Rachel ...

Can't cope with that wee man beating himself to death over the Guardian. Someone post enough to put him below the bottom of the screen, please...

Me too! Me too!

A picture of what the blogger (evidently some Godless Wretch ® but who apart from having a healthy reaction to a certain paper also has an interesting wee post on just how great taking the morning-after pill is - that is, from what he observed in his lady friend, not that he tried it himself) says the Guardian makes him do. Makes me do it too. And most deforms of the education system. And many a thing said by our revered pastors of various ranks. And. And. And.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Blighty and the Umma

On The World At One today there was a discussion about the possible dangers of multiculturalism. It was pointed out that the affirmation of each 'community' in its particular culture had weakened a general sense of Britishness and encouraged members of the Muslim community to feel that they belong first and last to the Umma and much less if at all to Britain. It was then suggested (I cant remember by whom) that general embarrassment with Britishness and patriotism since the end of Empire mean that even if one wanted to go back to instilling a sense of pride in British identity in the population there was a lot of work to do in re-establishing what British identity actually is and why one should be proud of it.

Now it occurs to me that all of this is probably true. Furthermore there is probably some more or less Whiggish account of why it is splendid to be a Brit that could be dusted off and put into school history books and trumpeted by politicians at relatively short notice. However, there is a problem with this. The last word in Whiggery is to show how jolly splendid things are now, how they were always heading in this direction and by gum they've come out better in Blighty than anywhere else. 'Now' in this context means New Labour Britain. No problem there. They are always keen to tell us how we've never had it so good. Unfortunately, in the New Labour modernising world there is no real place for things like the Monarchy and the House of Lords and an established Church. If we keep some or all of these things it is because we are sentimentally reluctant to do away with them. In themselves they are a drag on 'modernisation'. This means that Johnny foreigner has stolen a march on us. The French and the Americans have got rid of these things and we have foolishly kept them. In short, New Labour Whiggery fails because it leaves us all wishing we were American or French. Places, incidentally, even more inimical and aggravating to the Islamic community than Britain.

If we are going to be proud to be British we will have to bring in Edmund Burke to bolster our Whiggery. We will have to come up with good reasons why we are jolly lucky not to have had a revolution and to show that it is testimony to the general inferiority of the French that they did indeed have one. We will have to believe in Mediaeval things like Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus which have no place in the 'Republic one and indivisible of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or Death' (or for that matter in the world view of New Labour). We will have to say like Burke that, while their grievances may have justified their actions at least in part and their constitution might be very well put together (and based on our own), all in all it would have been better - whoever's fault it may be - if the American colonies had parted with us on better terms and rather later, like Canada or Australia.

Now many have detected a certain tension in Burkean liberalism that has led them to suspect him of Jacobite or even Papistical sympathies. In the opinion of the present writer they have done so with good reason. And here lies the crux of the problem. Claims of particular excellence for this or that country require universal standards of comparison. Universal standards more often than not imply universal loyalties. Islam provides such standards and British society is found wanting. Thus the universal loyalty those standards imply jars with loyalty to Britain. We cannot change British society on a way that will bring us up to these standards without us all becoming Muslims. Non-Burkean liberalism of the New Labour sort has a set of universal standards as well (the negation of universal standards is a kind of universal standard in itself). But the sort of society to which they tend rightly inspires any Muslim worth his salt with contempt. An attempt to instil pride in British Muslims for a Britishness of this sort will not only be confused and self contradictory for the reasons already stated but will really be a disingenuous attempt to make them abandon their religion.

In fact everything that is good and particular and excellent about Britain does indeed stem from a set of universal standards and they are Mediaeval standards and they also imply a universal loyalty but not to the Umma but to the Unam Sanctam. There is a modified kind of Catholic Burkean Whiggery that is neither confused nor self contradictory and which, though it also requires an attempt to make not only our Ismailite brethren but all our non-Catholic countrymen abandon their false religions, ought to be if it is to succeed the very opposite of dishonest. If it were to succeed those Muslims who were not convinced might still reject the basis of the society thus created but they would at least be unable to treat it with contempt.

Meaning and Limits of the Present Rationalist Culture

If you haven't read Benedict-when-he-was-Ratzinger on'Europe's Crisis of Culture', read it here now.

"If you wish to be a Catholic, do not believe, nor say, nor teach, that infants who die before baptism can obtain the remission of original sin."

So says St Augustine. It is fashionable these days to dismiss the doctrine of limbo, to point out that it is no more than a Mediaeval Theological Opinion. This may be true, but if the overview presented by the Catholic Encyclopaedia is anything to go by it is the optimistic upper limit on theological speculation. If you want anything else it will have to be nastier. What are the consequences of ditching the apparently unanimous consent of the fathers and going for a more optimistic position than limbo? A wholly unprecedented claim is often bandied about at the moment that "no one will be lost without consciously rejecting salvation". That is to say: anyone who dies before the age of reason will be saved.

In order to remain faithful to the Church's teaching concerning original sin and uphold this new doctrine, one would have to suppose that children are conceived without sanctifying grace and, if they are un-baptised or un-evangelised but will reach the age of reason, live until the age of reason without sanctifying grace; and yet, those who will die before the age of reason without baptism or evangelisation (for it must be possible to receive propositional knowledge before reaching the age of moral responsibility) will have faith, hope and charity infused into them without a visible human act of preaching or baptism. As the non-evangelised world has not been and is not filled with five-year-olds tragically doomed to an early death but reciting the Athanasian Creed, the new doctrine must imply that the explicit belief required of an adult wholly ignorant of the Gospel to possess the virtue of supernatural faith does not exceed in any appreciable way what can be attained by natural reason. This would technically 'save' the doctrine of original sin, but at the price of making it trivial.

De facto the human race would be in the same position as Adam: they are definitely saved unless they perform an actual sin. Doubtless the conditions in Eden were more conducive to the avoidance of sin than those in the world as it now is, but this is not an essential point. There would in fact be no true distinction between the objective and subjective redemptions. All men would be saved from the moment of the crucifixion onward (and perhaps retrospectively too); the Catholic Church would provide helps to the avoidance of sin and the world would provide many occasions of sin, but as such man would be saved already. In fact, given that the failure to accept the Church's teaching would itself be a sin, it would be impossible to exclude in theory the possibility that the missionary activity might be counter-productive, providing numerous occasions of sin and imperilling the salvation of the virtuous pagan. The saving rump of the Church's teaching would be present in many other religions. What had been considered central - viz, the Trinity and the Incarnation - would be frills: true, but not important for the individual's salvation. The raison d'etre of the visible Church would have become very thin.

It seems to me that men are far more logical than may people or even the individual himself believes. Once a logical keystone is taken away from some intellectual edifice, very precise adjustments to the whole are made subconsciously without the individual ever noticing. Limbo is just such a keystone; false ecumenism and many other ills the Church is now facing are the consequences of the adjustments required by its removal.


- which title is to be read as ironical with regard to the content of the opinions expressed in the article, and as more or less serious with regard to the fact that someone important is expressing them and a newspaper covering it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Catholic Action Group

Does anyone know who these people are? They just popped up on the radar but no names are mentioned.

Oh those cuddly Cathars

A novelist, one Kate Mosse, was talking on Start the Week about the Cathars. She asserted that the Cathars were Christians - I suppose they were Christian heretics, since they claimed to be Christians, but objectively it's pushing it: believing in two gods and not really believing in the Incarnation would seem to be somewhat problematic. And she lauded the Cathars for their wonderful tolerance, absence of hierarchy and general modernity. (Verbatim: 'very contemporary people.' Insert rant about the impossibility of not being, in some sense or other, contemporary with something....) How can people still spout this stuff? How can the small matters of hating all flesh and starving oneself to death escape their attention? And behold Miss Mosse's sympathetic and balanced treatment of St Dominic; and equally balanced treatment of the 'bons hommes.'

I'm sorry; I should be less scathing, I expect. But the destructive nature of Catharism is now so clear to see - we are not peasants with no opportunity to hear the Faith preached, or bamboozled by the corruption of the local hierarchy as compared to the apparent purity of the perfecti. Why do people still look to Catharism as an answer? And moreover, I didn't get the impression that Miss Mosse thought Catharism was actually true - although she wasn't speaking for very long, so I could be wrong - nor that most modern apologists for the Cathars think so. So why prefer the Cathars over the Catholics in an account of the period? If the Cathars were still around today, I don't think the Guardianistas would be their biggest fans, do you? They'd be trying to encourage a liberal, secular Cathar identity that didn't involve condemning the pleasures, and indeed the existence, of the flesh, and that didn't tempt their children away into zealous self-destruction...


Compare an interesting review, by someone eminently respectable, of some recent books on the Crusades.
It is something to have wept as we have wept,
It is something to have done as we have done,
It is something to have watched when all men slept,
And seen the stars which never see the sun.

It is something to have smelt the mystic rose,
Although it break and leave the thorny rods,
It is something to have hungered once as those
Must hunger who have ate the bread of gods.

To have seen you and your unforgotten face,
Brave as a blast of trumpets for the fray,
Pure as white lilies in a watery space,
It were something, though you went from me today.

To have known the things that from the weak are furled,
Perilous ancient passions, strange and high;
It is something to be wiser than the world,
It is something to be older than the sky.

In a time of sceptic moths and cynic rusts,
And fattened lives that of their sweetness tire
In a world of flying loves and fading lusts,
It is something to be sure of a desire.

Lo, blessed are our ears for they have heard;
Yea, blessed are our eyes for they have seen:
Let the thunder break on man and beast and bird
And the lightning. It is something to have been.

Sidney 2008?

It seems Pell's loyalty is to be rewarded with World Youth Day 2008, or so rumour has it. Hopefully when the Holy Father goes down under Bugnini's disciples will not be able seize control of the liturgy as they seem to have done last time. Chiesa says the papal MC Archbishop Piero Marini is 'awaiting assignment to other duties'.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A Righteous Gentile: Pope Pius XII and the Jews

Rabbi David Dalin summarizes the heroic efforts of Pius XII to save the Jews during the Second World War and refutes the charges against him. I assume his enemies are motivated by hostility to his teaching and a desire to accentuate the discontinuity in the Church before and after the council by discrediting the last pre-conciliar Pope. The flimsiness of their charges and the weight of evidence for Pius's opposition to the Nazis (even before the more recent research Dalin cites) is so strong and their slogans so outrageous that it is hard to believe that they have any other goal than to discredit the man by any means.

Compendium of the Catechism - translations in via

The German bishops have got their act together. (Dilemma: order it off Amazon now, or hope that there are still copies kicking around Cologne by the time I get there?) The Americans are getting there too, so I suppose that will have to serve for us. (Any chance of a native British version, though?)