Saturday, July 03, 2004

From Book IV of My Imitation of Christ, Part 5

Of the Dignity of This Sacrament, and of the Office of the Priest

The Voice of the Beloved

If thou hadst angelic purity and the holiness of holy John the Baptist, thou wouldest not be worthy to receive or to minister to this Sacrament. For this is not deserved by merit of man that a man should consecrate and minister the Sacrament of Christ, and take for food the bread of Angels. Vast is the mystery, and great is the dignity of the priests, to whom is given what is not granted to Angels. For priests only, rightly ordained in the church, have the power of consecrating and celebrating the Body of Christ. The priest indeed is the minister of God, using the Word of God by God's command and institution; nevertheless God is there the principal Author and invisible Worker, that to whom all that He willeth is subject, and all He commandeth is obedient.

Therefore thou must believe God Almighty in this most excellent Sacrament, more than thine own sense or any visible sign at all. And therefore with fear and reverence is this work to be approached. Take heed therefore and see what it is of which the ministry is committed to thee by the laying on of the Bishop's hand. Behold thou art made a priest and consecrated to celebrate. See now that thou do it before God faithfully and devoutly at due time, and shew thyself without blame. Thou hast not lightened thy burden, but art now bound with a straiter bond of discipline, and art pledged to a higher degree of holiness. A priest ought to be adorned with all virtues and to afford to others an example of good life. His conversation must not be with the popular and common ways of men, but with Angels in Heaven or with perfect men on earth.

A priest clad in holy garments taketh Christ's place that he may pray unto God with all supplication and humility for himself and for the whole people. He must always remember the Passion of Christ. He must diligently look upon Christ's footsteps and fervently endeavour himself to follow them. He must bear meekly for God whatsoever ills are brought upon him by others. He must mourn for his own sins, and for the sins committed by others, and may not grow careless of prayer and holy oblation, until he prevail to obtain grace and mercy. When the priest celebrateth, he honoureth God, giveth joy to the Angels, buildeth up the Church, helpeth the living, hath communion with the departed, and maketh himself a partaker of all good things.

Virtual July 4th Fireworks

If there are no fireworks near you, click on the link above, turn off the lights, plug some John Phillips Sousa or Handel's Fireworks Music, or the 1812 Overture into the CD player, open a bottle of wine, munch on a chicken leg, or a hot dog and some chips, and enjoy.

Have a great July 4th (and 5th). Back on Tuesday.

Happy Independence Day!

For those men who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd, 1776, the odds did not look very good. Public opinion polls, if they existed, probably would have told them that only one-third of the population favored the course upon which they were about to embark. One-third was indifferent. One-third opposed independence. The men gathered from the thirteen colonies in Philadelphia, even without polling, probably had a sense that this was the case.

The army which would be the primary instrument of winning independence was scarcely disciplined, poorly uniformed, badly armed, and ill-supplied with food and ammunition. Pay was a promise (which, in fact, was mostly ignored 7 years later). Its generals had no experience commanding larger bodies of troops than a battalion.

True, there had been some victories. Boston had been rendered untenable for the enemy, and he had evacuated it. Fort Ticonderoga had fallen to a surprise attack, and supplied the heavy artillery that had led the British to evacuate Boston. Montreal had been captured, though that invasion force had been stopped at Quebec, and even now was building an anti-invasion fleet on Lake Champlain. The delegates in Philadelphia probably did not know it, but an enemy invasion of Charleston, SC had been averted a few days before.

But there had also been defeats. Despite inflicting heavy losses on the enemy, Bunker Hill had been captured. The attempt to capture Canada had failed miserably.

Most significant was what was coming. As the delegates debated independence, they knew that the British army that had left Boston was en route from Halifax, probably heading for New York. If their spies were accurate, that army would rendezvous with another escorted by an even larger fleet. Large numbers of British and German troops had driven the American Northern Army from Canada, and were poised to drive down Lake Champlain. These troops who would confront their own tattered, inexperienced army were the best Europe could field. British troops who had conquered an empire just 15 years before would be joined by excellent troops from Brunswick and Hesse Cassel, Frederick the Great's best allies. The enemy was supported by professional artillerists, and by a navy that was (despite peacetime decline and corruption) still, ship-for-ship, the best in the world. Thousands of their fellow countrymen would be happy to take up arms alongside the British army. To make matters worse, the Indian nations were ready to take up arms on behalf of the King, raising the prospect of burned farms, scalped settlers, and women and children abducted into captivity among the savages.

The men in Philadelphia must have found the prospect of declaring independence a daunting task. In the next three months, the most likely outcome was that the British army would take New York, flatten their own army, and then march on Philadelphia to hang them for treason. Their property would be taken from their families. At best they would become fugitives constantly on the run from British authorities.

But the best of them had a vision for the future, and strong reasons to feel the need to break with the past. The vision was that they would govern themselves, as they actually had for the most part, until the Imperial government decided to tap America for revenue to pay for keeping the peace with the Indians. John Winthrop's vision of a city set upon a hill remained a strong one, and merged with Locke's ideas about government, and newer ideas coming from Adam Smith about how an economy ought to be allowed to develop. A unified vision of a new nation which would serve as a beacon of liberty for all nations emerged, and was in the forefront of the minds of the men in Philadelphia. They had in this synthesis of ideas and in adapting to conditions on the American frontier, become a new nationality in need of a new nation.

And yet, despite all the obstacles, it was the vision that prevailed, and not the balance of forces. It is that vision that we celebrate today. John Adams, who did more than anyone to push the cause of independence through Congress, wrote to his wife that July 2, 1776 (the day the Declaration was approved),

"...Will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverence by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more."

May it always be so.

St. Thomas the Apostle

My patron saint.

Friday, July 02, 2004

The Visitation

Magnificat anima mea Dominum;
Et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo,
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae; ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen ejus,
Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam brachio suo;
Dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis, et divites dimisit inanes.
Sucepit Israel, puerum suum, recordatus misericordiae suae,
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros, Abraham et semeni ejus in saecula.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

St. Swithun

Saint Swithun's day, if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain;
Saint Swithun's day, if thou be fair,
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Computer Trouble Today

I finally got to a computer that is functioning properly, but is one that will not display my links (that I use to navigate the net daily).

That's why I've been so quiet today.

Also I should tell you that July 4th and 5th, I won't be around. Hopefully back on the 6th (Good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise).

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Man Falls From USS Constitution's Mast and Dies

A civilian employee of the Navy, whose name has not yet been released, fell 70 feet from one of the masts of "Old Ironsides" this afternoon, and died of his injuries. He was working on preparing her for her annual turnaround cruise on July 4th.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

You Can't Be Both Catholic and Tolerant of Abortion

This is a better suggestion for the slogan the fine kids doing the multi-state walk against abortion are wearing on their t-shirts. It wipes out the wiggle room their slogan creates: "You can't be both Catholic and pro-abortion."

Current Reading

Finished Recently:
A Good Year By Peter Mayle
The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross

The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Bl. Anna Catherine Emmerich
Carnage and Culture by Victor Davis Hanson

Later today, as this is about the half-way point of the year, I might publish my 2004 "books read" list.

Only Wednesday Of A Holiday Week

And already I get the feeling that the working world has been deserted by all but the lowest wage slaves, the ones chained to the cubicles.

"We're Going To Take Things Away From You On Behalf Of the Common Good."

Democrat slogan for 2004, uttered by Hilary!(TM).

Typical Democrats: they are sure they know how to spend our money better than we do.

Hopefully, the voters will respond at the polls with a two-word reply (actually one that is very appropriate for the party in part controlled by a certain sexual interest group):

Sod Off!

The Least Said About Last Night's Red Sox-Yankees Game, the Best

Archbishop O'Malley Disappointed With Slow Vatican Process On Pervert Priest Cases

I think most Americans are less than satisfied with the speed of the Vatican bureaucracy, which seems to be anything but a model of efficiency. Too much putting off until tomorrow what can be done today.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Over at Recta Ratio: The Yahoo Group, a painting of St. Paul and a depiction of the martyrdom of St. Peter will alternate on the front page today.

Update: Except Yahoo Groups has been down on and off for most of the morning, so I have not been able to rotate the images. If you can get through, I think St. Peter is on the front page now.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Two New Links

I'm always posting new links, but I wanted to call your attention to two in particular. The American Life League has really impressed me with the work they have been doing lately. They are, I think, eclipsing National Right To Life in getting the job done.

One of their sub-divisions is the Crusade To Defend Our Catholic Church, the organization to which the young people from Ave Maria I refered to below belong.

Give both a visit, your prayers, and some money if you can spare it (links on the right in alphabetical order).

Small Victories

Ave Maria University may be backing off plans to build that awful house of glass chapel.

The Latin Mass is back in Phoenix, and drew about 1,300 people.

Mark Sullivan at Irish Elk has unearthed more about really undignified Masses, whose celebrants or liturgical planners really ought to be taken out and flogged. He also has some highlights about Anglican-Use RC parishes. Just the other day, I came across a website talking about that, while I was doing research for Recta Ratio: The Yahoo Group (which, for the 8 millionth time is free to join, the only requirement is a Yahoo identity, which you can set up for free in a few minutes).

In contrast to those Masses I would characterize as liturgical abuses, I attended a highly dignified Mass at St. Francis Chapel at the Pru yesterday (it was very early, so there was no Berklee College of Music rock band on hand to do the greatest hits of Haugen and Haas, which is what their hymnal consists of). Everything was done with great reverence in what I think of as a neo-traditional manner, the priest gave a great solid sermon, and one of those young ladies from Ave Maria College who are walking for life addressed the congregation after Mass on the subject of the link between the Blessed Sacrament and being fully in union with Holy Mother the Church on the issue of abortion (and distributed some material at the door). Link from Dom Bettinelli.

Archbishop Burke of St. Louis continues to impress by making it clear that Catholics who vote for pro-abortion politicians (presumably vote against pro-life office seekers) are guilty of a mortal sin that must be confessed before they can receive the Blessed Sacrament. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite prelates. Certainly a great deal better than the wishy-washy stuff we are getting out of Boston on the issue these days.

And my catechumen attended Holy Trinity on his own (without me) because he is getting hooked on saying the Rosary before Mass, while two others of my circle of friends now want to attend Holy Trinity for the Gregorian chant (too bad there are no more High Masses until the fall).

Progress all around, I would say.

Tyburn Shrine Threatened With Government Closure

"Christ to shield me today...from black laws of pagandom, from false laws of heretics..."

The shrine housing the relics of many English martyrs of the protestant rebellion is threatened with closure if the nuns who administer it cannot raise 400,000 Pounds to make the shirne accessible to the handicapped by October 1st.

One hundred-and-five martyrs died for the Faith on this spot, which was the location of Tyburn Tree, London's place of execution until 1783. Among those especially honored there are St. Edmund Campion, a Jesuit whose life was written by Evelyn Waugh, and St. John Southworth, whose feast is today.

England has no written constitution enshrining freedom of religion, as the US does. Here, this could, or should not happen. But in the UK, political correctness is clearly trumping freedom of religion.

Sounds like a cause which those with a few extra dollars could well give to.

Here is their website, with contact information.


For the millions of Patrick O'Brian fans out there, Norton's will publish the 3 chapters of the 21st novel POB had finished before his death in 2000 under the title, 21.

Mixed feelings on this. From only 3 chapters, you don't know where POB was going with the whole novel. True, the important plot development things, especially deaths of characters, are ususally in the start or end of his books. But still, this is very incomplete.

On the other hand, it is a reason for Geoff Hunt to do another of his outstanding covers!!!!!

Eve of SS. Peter and Paul

St. John Southworth

St. Vincentia Gerosa

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