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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Happy St Andrew's Day

Adductus Andreas ad locum martyrii, cum crucem vidisset, longe exclamare coepit:
O BONA CRUX, quae decorem ex membris Domini suscepisti, diu desiderata, sollicite amata, sine intermissione quaesita, et aliquando cupienti animo praeparata: accipe me ab hominibus, et redde me magistro meo; ut per te me recipiat, qui per te me redemit.

O blessed St Andrew, First-Called and Fisher of Men, of old thou didst summon thy brother St Peter into the presence of the Saviour; obtain now, we beseech thee, by thy powerful intercession for the people of Scotland that they might recognise in his successor the Vicar of Christ, and so enter into the vision of Him Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Plenary indulgence for Immaculate Conception and 40th anniversary of end of Vatican II

Announcement here, partial translations here. Thanks to Cacciaguida.

The indulgence is attached to taking part in some public rite in her honour, or to veneration of an image of our Blessed Mother set up in some public place, with recitation of the Our Father, the Creed, and some invocation of the Blessed Virgin conceived without sin (e. g. "Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula originalis non est in te", "Regina sine labe originali concepta, ora pro nobis"). And usual conditions.

Cross-posted on Juventutem blog.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Oh no

The BBC take on That Document

'But it treats homosexuality as a "tendency", not an orientation'

'Some Catholic theologians feel the document is not sufficiently clear, the BBC's Peter Gould says.
'That it refers to "tendencies" rather than orientation "has left many people scratching their heads," Jesuit scholar Father Thomas Reese told him.'

What's puzzling about this? I suppose I can see why certain sectors might prefer the concept of 'orientation' to that of 'tendency', but to use the term 'tendency' does not seem unclear to me.

It is rather bizarre that this is the main headline story on the World Service (not BBC News) front page. It really seems very far from the most significant thing happening in the world at present. The piece on Reporting Religion on the World Service at the weekend was sensible enough, though.

Oh well, this story is happier. (Though the headline doesn't strictly make sense... 'Vatican ordains Vietnamese priests'... I do wish that journalists wouldn't make 'the Vatican' the grammatical subject in every headline concerning clerical activity...)

Monday, November 28, 2005

The very splendid Kate Rusby

Go and listen to her songs now; though (alas) her tour has just ended with a very fine concert here yesterday, so you'll have to get a CD or hope she gets played on Late Junction soon.

Sir Eglamore, Fa la lacky down dilly. Hurrah!

You'd think it would be obvious

The non-Christian leaders added that the Kirk had been "too concerned" with being inclusive at the expense of laying down its own beliefs in schools.

From the news monitor.

Compare the report in the Catholic Herald this week that a local cooncil had forbidden a new GP surgery to be blessed by various Christian ministers, on the grounds that it might cause offence to those of other faiths. The local imam, when asked, was rather puzzled by this, it seems.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Quotes from Hans Urs von Balthasar I

A thinking, praying Christian of unmistakable purity reveals to us the symbols of Christian Hermeticism in its various levels of mysticism, gnosis and magic, taking in also the Cabbala and certain elements of astrology and alchemy. These symbols are summarized in the twenty-two so-called “Major Arcana” of the Tarot cards. By way of the Major Arcana the author seeks to lead meditatively into the deeper, all-embracing wisdom of the Catholic Mystery.
Firstly, it may be recalled that such an attempt is to be found nowhere in the history of philosophical, theological and Catholic thought.
(Afterword to Meditations on the Tarot)
Hmmm, perhaps there's a reason for that, no?

Newman, on knowing what you are talking about

MANY a disciple of a philosophical school, who talks fluently, does but assert, when he seems to assent to the dicta of his master, little as he may be aware of it. Nor is he secured against this self-deception by knowing the arguments on which those dicta rest, for he may learn the arguments by heart, as a careless schoolboy gets up his Euclid. This practice of asserting simply on authority, with the pretence and without the reality of assent, is what is meant by formalism. To say "I do not understand a proposition, but I accept it on authority," is not formalism; it is not a direct assent to the proposition, still it is an assent to the authority which enunciates it; but what I here speak of is professing to understand without understanding. It is thus that political and religious watchwords are created; first one man of name and then another adopts them, till their use becomes popular, and then every one professes them, because every one else does. Such words are "liberality," "progress," "light," "civilization;" such are "justification by faith only," "vital religion." "private judgment," "the Bible, and nothing but the Bible." Such, again, are "Rationalism," "Gallicanism," "Jesuitism," "Ultramontanism"—all of which, in the mouths of conscientious thinkers, have a definite meaning, but are used by the multitude as war-cries, nicknames, and shibboleths, with scarcely enough of the scantiest grammatical apprehension of them to allow of their being considered really more than assertions. (Grammar of Assent, pt I, 4, § 1)

Friday, November 25, 2005

From combox obscurity

Many are cauld, but few are frozen.

Am still snorting with laughter as I type. Hanks fur at, Weegie Man.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Fewtril 42

If you have read T. H. White's The Once and Future King then you have no excuse for not knowing what a fewtril is, unless that German chappy, what's his name, you know, the one who's always making me forget stuff, thingy [voice off-stage - Alzheimer, Granny] has been troubling you again. Deogolwulf is right at the bottom of the links so I doubt anyone ever clicks on him, which is a shame. Click now on the title of this post.

A very short post to cheer you up for a long time

The things patients ask

Although no lover of confidants, although absolutely averse from talking with others about my inmost self, I nevertheless think and thought that it is the duty of man not to skip such a factor as that of seeking the advice of another man; only it must not become a foolish confidence, but a serious and official communication. I have therefore consulted my doctor as to whether he thought that the discord between the psychical and the physical could be resolved so that I might realise the universal. He doubted it.

The Journals of Kierkegaard 1834 – 1854, ed. & trans. Alexander Dru

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Alleged Text of New Document...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A man and his wife are sitting in the living room and he says to her:

"Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state dependent on some machine. If that ever happens, just pull the plug."

His wife gets up and unplugs the TV.

Recommended for an evening's Edinbourgeois entertainment

'The older policeman looked at her patiently. Then he raised his wrist and tapped his watch. "I retire in six hours' time," he said. "Thirty-six years of service. In that time, I've seen everything - everything. Horrible things. Sad things. And in my time in the Art Squad, aesthetically disturbing things."'

- Alexander McCall Smith, 44 Scotland Street, pp.80-81.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

[Scroll down for more recent posts.]
(***Tremendously exciting addition - if you turn up a wee bit early, you can have tea and biscuits before Fr Neil's talk!!!***)
All our Scottish-domiciled readers, especially those within striking distance of Edinburgh (which is probably all of you), are warmly invited to an event to be held by

Living Scotland

Saturday, 19th November, 2005
The Vigil of the Feast of Christ the King

St Catharine's Convent, 4 Lauriston Gardens, Edinburgh.

Fr Neil Ferguson OP
will speak on
'Incarnation and Mercy'

Vigil Mass of Christ the King
(Novus Ordo, to be celebrated in Latin)

Cheese (etc), wine (etc), sociability.

Living Scotland is a pro-life association for Catholics, with the aim of establishing the Kingship of Christ in Scotland by bringing all social and civil life into conformity with the natural and revealed law of Christ and of His Church. Cf press reports on earlier activity here (scroll down a bit) and here, and this previous post.

For further information please e-mail livingscotland [at] youthforlife.net , or ring 07754292696.
(Or get in touch with one of the laodiceans, if you already have our details.)
You are all very welcome to come! Note that, if you don't stay in Edinburgh, you'll be able to get the last train home to Weegieland, Fife, the Grim North, etc; excuses concerning new fields and wives are also not acceptable...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


The Executive funds something sensible. Via here, as ever.

Happy Feast Day!

Sadly Turgot's life of his penitent does not appear to be on the web, so instead I have dug out this rather fine print. If I had more pennies I would buy this (see title link): if we all buy this chap's prints it might encourage him to do more, as I gather each one took several years to prepare and is therefore something of a major investment.
Today in Poland is the feast of Our Lady of Ostrobrama, also known as Our Lady Mother of Mercy, who features prominently in the life of St Faustina Kowalska. It is the second Polish Marian shrine after Czestochowa. Here is an amusing pile of rubbish on the subject of Black Madonnas which happens to feature a photo of an icon of Our Lady of Ostrobrama in Falkland Palace chapel. And the icon itself I put in here.

Happy St Margaret's Day!

Ave mater speciosa
Vera syon filia
Tota nitens velut rosa
Candens super lilia
Fac nos huius onerosa
Post carnis exilia
Possidere gloriosa
Celi domicilia.

Hail, most lovely mother,
True daughter of Sion,
Lustrous as the rose,
Brighter than the lily;
Bring us, after our burdensome
Exile in this flesh,
To possession of the glorious
Heavenly mansions.

Deus, qui anime famule tue beatissime margarete regine eterne beatudinis premia contulisti, concede propitius, ut qui peccatorum nostrorum pondere premimur eius apud te precibus sublevemur. Per dominum.

O God, Who granted the soul of Thy handmaid the most blessed Queen Margaret the prize of eternal beatitude, mercifully grant that we who are weighed down by our sins may be helped by her prayers to Thee. Through Our Lord…

Salve salus infirmorum
Margarita laus scotorum
Et decus albanie.

Salve fida spes reorum
Relevamen oppressorum
Lassis porta venie.

Salve per quam muti fantur
Ceci vident, egri dantur
Sospitati prestine.

Salve sydus quo lustrantur
peccatores et vocantur
Ab erroris tramite.

Salve byssus de tellure
Collecta contrita pure
Cedens in milliciem.

Salve sudans in agone
Perfidorum […] rome
Conquassans perniciem.

Ergo mater in virtute
Deum nostra pro salute
Piis placa precibus.

Ut cum cunctos iudicare
Venerit nos aggregare
Velit cum fidelibus.

Hail, health of the sick,
Margaret, praise of Scots
And ornament of Alba

Hail, sure hope of the accused,
Relief of the oppressed,
Gate of forgiveness to the faint.

Hail, thou through whom the mute speak,
The blind see, the sick are given
Health as good as new.

Hail, star by which
Sinners are illumined and called,
Drawn from their errors.

Hail, byssys collected from the earth,
Purely worn down,
Yielding into softness.
[OK, I have no idea what this verse is about! Cf
here? I don’t have time to go and investigate what might be meant by the hymn, unfortunately.]

Hail, perspiring in the struggle,
Shattering the plague
Of those half-faithful to Rome.

Therefore, mother in virtue,
Placate God with kindly prayers
For our salvation,

That when He comes to judge us with the rest,
He might number us
As part of the faithful.

Deus cuius misericordia anima beate margarete regine ad requiem pervenit sempiternam, presta, quesumus, ut cuius commemoracionem agimus eius precibus in tuo semper conspectur adiuuemur. Per dominum.

O God, by Whose mercy the soul of the blessed Queen Margaret came to eternal rest, grant, we beseech Thee, that we who celebrate her commemoration may always be helped by her prayers in Thy sight. Through Our Lord…

From B.L. Add. MS. 39761, and, marginally more accessibly, published in E.S. Dewick, 'On a MS. Book of Hours written in France for the use of a Scottish Lady', Transactions of the St Paul's Ecclesiological Society vii (1911-15). Sorry about the bargain-basement translations; I don't have time to polish. Please offer any corrections!

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Scene: guesthouse of the lovely Benedictine nuns of Minster in Kent (who are too unworldly to have a website, so no link, sorry). Retreatants drinking tea before Compline. While washing my mug, I hear fellow-retreatant A say:
'So does anyone feel cold here?'
Which is a fair question, as it has been getting chillier. But, being unwarrantedly proud of my harsh Pictish (or thereabouts) blood, I reply from the sink,
'Well, I'm Scottish.'
Bewildered silence.
'So I don't feel cold anywhere...,' I clarify.
More bewildered looks. 'I'm Irish, but I don't see...' says fellow-retreatant B.
The penny (St Benedict medal?) begins to drop.
'Um. You said - '
'Does anyone feel called here?' repeats fellow-retreatant A.

Hilarity (as they say) ensues.

I can't help thinking that this mishearing is somehow deeply meaningful, but have no idea what, if anything, He's trying to say...

A retreat at Minster is thoroughly to be recommended, anyway, even if you're not in the habit of saying really stupid things based on foolish national pride.

The BBC is good for something after all

You MUST listen to Thursday's In Our Time, which will be available online (and you can download it as an MP3) until, I presume, 9am on Thursday coming. The estimable Henrietta Leyser and the splendid Alexander Murray, and Anthony Kenny (no adjective as I have no strong opinions here), talk about the origins of the mendicants. It includes a classic Mr Murray moment where the Loch Ness Monster metaphor of the Church is used. You'll have to listen to it to find out what that means! (And, in case you're perturbed, I'm not being disrespectful: he is one of the last of the great breed of academics who didn't need doctorates to prove anything.)

Incidentally, happy St Machar's day for yesterday to all Aberdonians out there.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Africa2000 disappears, and Nouvelle Theologie blog

The amazingly useful Africa2000 website has disappeared without trace. I am trying to find out what has happened to it. In the meantime, a blog about the nouvelle theologie.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Domini feles

It is necessary to point out that the local Dominicans' new kittens are possibly the most adorable (in a non-technical sense) fluffy creatures currently on earth.

Newsflash over. Normal service resumed.

The Twilight Zone

Last week's Spiegel had the most shocking article about 'The World of the Middle Ages.' It doesn't seem to be available online, unless anyone can work out how to get from here or here to the full text without paying. But if you get hold of a copy of number 44/2005, you will too be taken on a roller-coaster ride of distress, anger, bewilderment and hilarity at the tripe with which a supposedly decent-quality mag has filled twelve pages. Mr Matthias Schulz, whoever he may be, may have read a few books and archaeological reports, but he shows a remarkable lack of genuine interest in the 'dark millenium', as the middle ages are unpromisingly designated on the contents page.

Firstly, despite writing with some gusto, Schulz uses his material in a manner one would find unacceptable in an undergraduate essay. The attitude to chronology and geography is cavalier at best. Angela of Foligno and Margaret Mary Alacoque are mentioned in the same paragraph as examples of What Nuns Were Like; never mind that one was a fourteenth-century Franciscan tertiary and one a seventeenth-century nun - clearly The Dark Millenium extends beyond 1600, and anything within that period is all much the same... "Frauen gebaren in Schnitt 4,2 Kinder" [Women bore on average 4.2 children"]- which women? where? when? based on what sort of evidence? Bare statistics cited thus are remarkably unhelpful. And the height of this strange slap-dash approach is found in a bizarre murky accusation:
Die Grabungen auf mittelalterlichen Friedhöfen zeigen, dass die männlichen
Skeletter deutlich überwiegen. Ihr Anteil liegt bei etwa 60 Prozent. Wurden die
weiblichen Babys getötet und verscharrt, um die Mitgift [ie of female
sinfulness] zu sparen? Niemand weiß die Antwort.
[Excavations in medieval graveyards show that male skeletons are significantly preponderant. Their proportion is at around 60 per cent. Were the female babies killed and buried [in shallow graves] to avoid the poisonous infection? No one knows the answer.]
If you can find a piece of evidence to suggest selective murder of female infants, go ahead and cite it. Otherwise, making up horror stories would seem (at best) quite superfluous.

The writer also has a strange fondness for irrelevant 'authorities.' What is the point of quoting Luther on how smelly Bernhard of Clairvaux was? Apparently Bernard smelt awful, but I doubt that a sixteenth-century canon is the best witness to this. Likewise, is it worth noting what Nietzsche said about St Paul or about fourteenth-century beer consumption? It may tell us something about Nietzsche; I cannot imagine it tells us anything about the Middle Ages.

The most pervasive and infuriating quality of this piece, however, is that it is an undeclaredly Freudian reading of the period, where everything is motivated by sex, or rather, controlled by crazed celibates:
Doch in Wahrheit stöhnte das Mittelalter im Würgegriff schwarzberockter Spaßbremsen, die dem großen Mitraträger im Vatikan gehorchten. Und er konnte Sex nicht leiden.
Ah yes, the Vatican, that entirely unitary and non-peripatetic institution. Would folk please grasp that, if they must use a term for papal government, the Curia is considerably less likely to be foolishly anachronistic?
Monasticism is depicted entirely in terms of die grosse Anti-Lust-Kampagne, with never a mention of why Benedict &c left the world. Love of God? Doesn't get a look-in. The mortifications of Francis, Dominic and Bernard are mentioned, with the perceptive and helpful obeservation that 'Kein Zweifel, all dies mutet heute laecherlich an.' Good to see that Schulz is ready to engage with the people of another era on their own terms, then.
Both pubs and crusades turn out to be the fruit of sexual repression:
Ersatz für entgangene Fleischesfreuden lieferten unterdessen die Braureien. Forscher nannten das 14. Jahrhundert das “Säkulum des Biers.” [Do they? I haven’t met any of them. Mind you, my fourteenth-century-Europe paper was my worst in Finals. If only I’d written more about beer…] Schenken und Kneipen hatten Hochkonjunktur. “Mittelalter” meinte schon Nietzsche, “das heißt die Alkoholvergiftung Europas.” [The relevance of Nietzsche’s opinion being…?]
Wo auch diese Form, sezuelle Begierge ze betäuben, nicht fruchtete, bot der Papst ein anderes Ventil, über das sich die angestauten Emotionen austoben konnten – in Form von Gewalt.
In Namen des Kreuzes schob der Kontinent mit militärischer Kraft seine Grenzen vor…
One can almost admire the placing of this last paragraph at this point, to imply, without actually making its (unmakable) case, that the northern crusades were the result of frustrated sexual urges unquieted by sufficient drink. It's a novel take on matters, I suppose.

Of course, the crusades were at the same time primarily economically motivated:
Dass hinter all diesen von Schandtaten unterfütterten Heilszügen wirtschaftliche Interessen standen, versteht sich von selbst. Bein vierten Kreuzzug 1204 stellten der Doge von Venedig und die Kaufleute aus Genua und Pisa die Schiffe.
End of paragraph. Never mind that the Fourth Crusade turned into such a disaster in part because said ships were insufficiently filled and said merchants weren't getting paid...

That the author's misconceptions are quite tragic, however, is revealed by his narrative of the popes' dastardly plan to control the laity's enjoyment of the marital act. A rather curtailed and muddled account of the rise of the theology of marriage as a sacrament is given, which in Schulz's eyes means that "Der Partnerpast war zum Gefaengnis geworden, aus dem es kein Entrinnen mehr gab." And:
Sodann schränkten die Popen den Geschlechtsverkehr auch innerhald der Ehe ein. Während der Menstruation, zur Adventszet, in der Fastenzet, in der Pfingstwoche, an Sonn- und Freitage, an Mittwochen sowie vor und nach der Kommunion war die Liebe verboten.
Die Liebe? Poor man. Are his concepts as desperately confused as that?

Given which, I should probably end on a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger note; but it's difficult, given the sheer drivel which has been published here. Berenike suggests sending him a copy of Southern's Scholastic Humanism. What do you think, lectores dilecti: Southern fuer Schulz along the lines of Katechismus fuer Kaessman? Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages has been translated into German...

stonking rainbow photo

A blog with an Irn-Bru can at the top: but the bit you should look at is the photie of a double rainbow to which the title of this post links (the elaborate placing of the preposition was for Aelianus). I didn't know that the second rainbow has reversed colours, or at least, I didn't remember. When there is a third one, as very occasionally happens, are the colours the right way round again?

Thursday, November 03, 2005


The Christmas stamps this year have managed to offend Hindus. I suppose one can see their point; after all, I would find it unsettling to see a picture of a habited nun, say, venerating Ganesh. (And I suppose, sadly, there probably are photos somewhere of clergy who've taken inculturation into the realms of syncretism and are doing Hindu or Buddhist things; I'm sure I've read about such developments, alas.) On the other hand, the picture is, it seems, a genuine fruit of inculturation, not some awful made-up self-consciously multi-cultural image. (Bit of an excess of hyphens there...) It is within a set of stamps which precisely aims to show representations of the Madonna and Child within different cultures (though sadly not, it seems, including one of the beautiful Chinese versions). I think it would therefore not be ill-mannered to retain the stamp; but suspect that in concluding this I am influenced by a) thinking it's very pretty and wanting to post stuff with it on; and b) desiring to point out that people can convert to Christianity, and that one is not strait-jacketed within a culture as liberal multi-cultural-ists seem to think. More articulate opinions, anyone?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

All Saints in Poland

Not the greatest photos: I hope some of mine come out. But you might get an idea. Click on the title. The trees in the cemeteries uplit by the vigil lights on the graves. The Lutheran cemetery had a tasteful sprinkling of lights, the cemetery where my family are buried had more of a sea of lights. In the former, occasional pairs or small groups of people passing by in the dark, seen more as a moving blackness across the candles in the distance, in the latter, crowds coming and going. Here it was mostly family members, but in the Powazki cemetery people go "just to look". It's huge, alleys of flickering lights, mostly red and yellow but occasionally blue or green stretch off until they fade into darkness. Famous people's graves have crowds, tightly-packed pools of vigil lights blocking half of the path, and poetry readings or a slightly odd man at the grave of a newscaster who died last year of cancer.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Heard, not in an SCR

'The Liturgy is the public face of the truth.'
- Fr Jonathan Robinson of the Oratory

Heard in an SCR

'People like us should get discounts on Gordon's. People over sixty. [...] We don't want winter fuel allowances. We want discounts on gin.'

Quoth an eighteenth century historian.