Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I have spent a lot of effort this week creating new Recta Ratio Yahoo Groups (2-5) and moving images from the original group to the new ones, but the text files I plan to leave at the original group, as we are in no danger of hitting limits for text files.
The text files in the original Yahoo Group also include a large assortment of traditional Catholic prayers (some in both Latin and English), lyrics to many traditional Catholic hymns, lyrics to numerous Christmas songs and carols, and many Irish songs, a calendar of important saints' days, and such handy items as the Enchiridion of Indulgences, the Syllabus of Errors, seasonal prose and poetry, some very good Catholic sermons, plus the roughly 400 recipes. All totally free. I work hard to keep spammers out, and don't sell my members' addresses or names to anybody.
A French Orthodox icon representing St. Sidonius, on the left (at the right side of the Roman Emperor).
Today is the feast day of a saint I am very familiar with from my first medieval history class in college. Under the tutelage of Professor William Daly, who was preparing a scholarly biography of St. Sidonius, we spent more than a week studying this saint as a case study in the "fall" of the Roman Empire and the transition to early medieval Europe.
The following brief biography is from Catholic Exchange's Saint of the Day feature:
Caius Sollius Apollinaris Sidonius was born on November 5, 430, in Lyons, Gaul to a noble family. He was educated at Arles and was a student of Claudianus Mamertus of Vienne. Later, he married a woman named Papianilla, a daughter of Avitus, who became Emperor in the year 455.
St. Sidonius lived at the imperial court at Rome, served under many emperors and later became prefect of Rome in 468. The following year, however, after retiring to the life of a country gentleman, he was named bishop of Avernum (Clermont) against his will, because the people felt he was the only one able to defend the Roman prestige against the Goths.
A prolific writer, he was quickly recognized as a leading ecclesiastical authority. He became a benefactor of monks, gave much of his wealth to charities, and provided food to thousands during a great famine. He led the populace against King Euric of the Goths, but was defeated. Cleremont was overtaken and Sidonius exiled. He returned in 476 and spent the remainder of his days in Cleremont speaking and writing. Many of his masterful poems exist to this day.
I find helpful this more detailed essay by re-enacting collegue Eric Goldberg on how Sidonius was typical of Gallo-Romans who, once the structure of Empire collapsed, came to identify with the Romanitas of the orthodox Catholic Church against the ascendant Arian barbarians taking power around them.
I've often liked to compare Saint Sidonius with the slightly earlier Gallo-Roman nobleman Ausonius of Bordeaux. Ausonius was also a poet. His work is correct in form, but often base in subject. He went through the hoops held out for a nobleman from the provinces on the make. But he achieved nothing of value. He could see the end coming for his way of life, and lamented it. But was too busy with his Germanic slave/mistress to rouse himself or his contemporaries to defend his way of life. Sidonius, on the other hand, after becoming Bishop of Clermont, organized resistance to the Arian Goths, at first in the name of holding the Empire together, and later in the cause of the trinitarian Catholic Faith.
He was just too late to stop the process, and too early to see his cause triumph, in a way, via the conquest by the orthodox Clovis and his Franks. Judge Robert Bork, in Slouching Towards Gomorrah, discussed the negative example of Ausonius. The more pro-active response of Sidonius is not mentioned. Those of us who see civilization being rent to tatters around us by modern barbarians engendered from within our own society have much to contemplate from the Fall of Rome, Sidonius, and Ausonius.
Cathlic Exchange offers a prayer to Saint Sidonius Apollinaris. I think Professor Daly would be pleased to see one of his former students invoking St. Sidonius' aid:
St. Sidonius, you were a gentleman of great wealth and prestige who could easily have fallen prey to pride and selfishness as so many do. Instead, you remained compassionate and generous to those in need. We thank you, St. Sidonius, for your contribution to the world. We ask for your prayers that we may be ever mindful of others in need as well as careful not to fall victim to selfishness, greed and power.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Dom has the details.
Wonder what they were after.
The Red Sox organization has no one to blame but themselves for not trading for pitching help before the deadline. Injuries to Nixon, Veritek, and Wakefield, among others, hurt, but every fan knew the team could not compete with starting pitching as bad as ours. Right now, I'd trade Josh Beckett for a good Reuben, as long as there is a side of fries with it. The Yankees had injuries, but overcame them, and they made deals at the deadline which made them an even better team. The Sox stood pat with a weaker team, and got trampled. Deservedly. There was no excuse for it. The Sox ownership is not the old Charlie Finley or Minnesota Twins people, with no money. John Henry is a billionaire, and can keep up with Steinbrenner in the signing market. He just didn't. The fact that the team will not be playing in the playoffs is no one's fault but ownership/upper management's.
So the Red Sox have had their definative August swan dive, and it is time to think more about the Patriots, BC Eagles, and our local high school football teams (St. John's Prep Eagles for me). Again it is a case of "Wait 'til next year," for us hearty New England fans. At least we shuld have some nice leaves to look at this fall. And rake.
Monday, August 21, 2006
But you know what? All that only moved the original group down to 99% of capacity. It's still full, practically speaking.
So, Recta Ratio 5, which will contain images from Medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts like the Hours of Henry VIII, and Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, and Office of the Dead images from various sources. It now has 1 (one) image, its homepage image. But that will change in the next couple of weeks.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I have long known about the excellent collection of Catholic items from Medieval, Rennaissance, and Early Modern Europe in Boston museums. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum are rich in paintings, manuscripts, sculpture, and other arifacts of early Europe's vibrant and Catholic culture.
The Museum of Fine Arts has images of some, but not nearly all, of its artifacts available on line. And I am beginning the process of going through their on-line catalog, and adding images to Recta Ratio Yahoo Group 2, in the new Artifacts From the Museum of Fine Arts photo album. the only thing holding me back is that Yahoo images is being finicky today. But over the course of time, I hope to build this into a very nice little collection of images.
Virgin and Child on the Crescent Moon
Austrian, Medieval (Gothic), about 1440–50
According to one Wolfgang Hofstätter (in a letter to Hanns Swarzenski of the MFA, dated September 23, 1965), this was the central sculpture of an altarpiece at the parish church of Krenstetten. When the church burned in 1787, the Madonna was salvaged and removed to a nearby building, where it was rediscovered after World War II.
WITH the Greeks, this Sunday—their eleventh of Saint Matthew -- is called the Parable of the King, who calls his servants to account. In the western Church, it has gone under the name of Sunday of the deaf and dumb, ever since the Gospel of the pharisee and the publican has been assigned to the tenth. Today's Mass, as we now have it, still gives evidence as to what was its ancient arrangement. Our commentary on to-day's liturgy will show us this very plainly.
In the years when Easter falls nearest to March 21 the Books of Kings are continued as lessons of Matins up to, but never beyond, this Sunday. The sickness of the good king Ezechias, and the miraculous cure he obtained by his prayers and tears, are then the subject of the first lessons of the night-Office.
The learned and pious Abbot Rupert, writing on this Sunday's Mass previous to the change made in the order of the Gospel Lessons, thus explains the Church's reason for selecting the following Introit: 'The publican in the Gospel accuses himself, saying: "I am not worthy to lift up mine eyes to heaven." St. Paul, in the Epistle, does in like manner, and says: "I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God." As, then, this humility, which is set before us that we may practise it, is the guardian of the union between the servants of God, because it keeps them from being puffed up one against the other, it is most appropriate that we should first sing the Introit, which tells us that God maketh men, in His house, abide together as though they were all but one soul.'
The Collect which follows is most touching, when we see it in the light of the Gospel formerly fixed for this Sunday. Though that connexion has now been broken, yet the appropriateness is still very striking; for the Epistle, as Abbot Rupert was just telling us, continues to urge us to humility by proposing to us the example of St. Paul; the humility of the repentant publican has been anticipated. Our mother the Church is all emotion at beholding this publican, this object of contempt to the Jew, striking his breast, and scarce able to put his sorrow into words: she, with motherly tenderness, comes and takes up his faltering prayer, and gives it her own eloquence. Nothing could exceed the delicate way in which she asks of the Omnipotent that, in His infinite mercy, He would restore peace to troubled consciences, by pardoning them their sins, and granting them what they, poor sinners, are too afraid to presume to ask for.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui abundantia pietatis tuaelig; et merita supplicum excedis et vota: effunde super nos misericordiam tuam; ut dimittas quaelig; conscientia metuit, et adjicias quod oratio non præsumit. Per Dominum.
In illo tempore: Exiens Jesus de finibus Tyri, venit per Sidonem ad mare Galilææ inter medios fines Decapoleos. Et adducunt ei surdum et mutum, et deprecabantur eum, ut imponat illi manum. Et apprehendens eum de turba seorsum, misit digitos suos in auriculas ejus: et exspuens, tetigit linguam ejus: et suspiciens in cœlum, ingemuit, et ait illi: Ephpheta, quod est, adaperire. Et statim apertæ sunt aures ejus, et solutum est vinculum linguæ ejus, et loquebatur recte. Et præcepit illis, ne cui dicerent. Quanto autem eis præcipiebat, tanto magis plus prædicabant: et eo amplius admirabantur, dicentes: Bene omnia fecit: et surdos fecit audire, et mutos loqui.
Jesus is no longer in Judea; the names of the places mentioned in the beginning of to-day's Gospel tell us that the Gentile world has become the scene of the divine operations for man's salvation. What manner of man, then, is this who is led to the Saviour, and the sight of whose miseries makes the Incarnate Word heave a sigh? And what is the meaning of the extraordinary circumstances which produce the cure? A single word of Jesus could have done it all, and His power would have shone forth all the more brightly. But the miracle which is here related contains a great mystery; and the Man-God, who aims mainly at giving us a lesson by this His mercy, makes the exercise of His power subordinate to the teaching which He desires to convey to us.
The holy fathers tell us that this man represents the entire human race, exclusive of the Jewish people. Abandoned for four thousand years in the sides, that is, in the countries of the north, where the prince of this world was ruling as absolute master, it has been experiencing the terrible effects of the seeming forgetfulness on the part of its Creator and Father, which was the consequence of original sin. Satan, whose perfidious craftiness caused man to be driven out of Paradise, has made him his own prey, and nothing could exceed the artifice he has employed for keeping him in his grasp. Wisely oppressing his slave, he adopted the plan of making him deaf and dumb, for this would hold him faster than chains of adamant could ever do. Dumb, he could not ask God to deliver him; deaf, he could not hear the divine voice; and thus the two ways forobtaining his liberty were shut against him. The adversary of God and man, satan, may boast of his tyranny. The grandest of all God's creations looks like a failure; the human race, in all its branches, and in all nations, seems ruined; for even that people which God had chosen for His own, and which was to be faithful to Him when every other had gone astray, has made no other use of its privileges than to deny its Lord and its King, more cruelly than all the rest of mankind.
What, then? Is the bride, whom the Son of God came to seek upon the earth -- is the society of saints, to be limited to those few who declared themselves His disciples during the years of His mortal life? Not so; the zeal of the newly formed Church, and the ineffable goodness of God, produced a far grander result. Driven from Jerusalem, as her divine Spouse had been, the Church met the poor captive of satan beyond the boundaries of Judea; she would fain bring him into the kingdom of God: and, through the apostles and their disciples, she brings him to Jesus, beseeching Him to lay His divine hand upon him. No human power could effect his cure. Deafened by the noise of his passions, it is only in a confused way that he can hear even the voice of his own conscience; and, as to the sounds of tradition, or the speakings of the prophets, they are to him but as an echo, very distant and faint. Worst of all, as his hearing, that most precious of our senses, is gone, so, likewise, is gone the power of making good his losses; for, as the apostle teaches, the one thing that could save him is faith, and faith cometh by hearing.
Our Jesus groans when they have brought this poor creature before Him. He is grieved at seeing the cruelties the enemy has inflicted on this His own privileged being, this beautiful work, of which He Himself served as model and type to the blessed Trinity, at the beginning of the world. Raising up to heaven those eyes of His sacred Humanity —those eyes whose language has such resistless power—He sees the eternal Father acquiescing in the intentions of His own merciful compassion. Then, resuming the exercise of that creative omnipotence which, in the beginning, had made all things to be very good, and all His works to be perfect, 40 He, as God and as the Word,41 utters the mighty word of restoration: Ephpheta! Be thou opened! Nothingness, or rather (in this instance) ruin, which is worse than nothingness, obeys the well-known voice; the ears of the poor sufferer are opened, joyfully opened to the teachings, which his delighted mother the Church pours into them. She is all the gladder, because it is her prayers that have won this deliverance; and he, to whom faith comes now through hearing, finding that his tongue can speak, speaks, or rather sings, a canticle of praise to his God.
And yet, as we were observing, our merciful Lord, by this cure, aims not so much at showing the power of His divine word as at giving a glorious teaching to His followers; He wishes to reveal to them, under certain visible symbols, the invisible realities produced by His grace in the secret of the sacraments. It is for the sake of such teaching that the Gospel has mentioned such an apparently trifling detail as this—that when the deaf and dumb man was brought before Him, He took him apart—apart, so to say, from the multitude of the noisy passions and the vain thoughts which had made him deaf to heavenly truths. After all, would there be much good in curing him if the occasion of his malady were not removed, and he were to relapse perhaps that same day? So, then, having by this separation taken precautions for the future, Jesus inserts into the man';s ears His own divine fingers which bring the Holy Ghost, and make to penetrate right to the ears of his heart the restorative power of this Spirit of love. And finally, more mysteriously, because the truth which was to be expressed is more profound, He touches with the saliva of His sacred mouth that tongue which had become incapable of giving glory and praise; and Wisdom (for it is she that is here mystically signified) -- Wisdom, 'that cometh forth from the mouth of the Most High, and flows for us from the Saviour's fountains as a life-giving drink -- openeth the mouth of the dumb man, just as she maketh eloquent the tongues of speechless infants.
Therefore it is that the Church -- in order to show us that the event recorded in to-day's Gospel is figurative, and regards not merely one individual man, but all of us -- has prescribed that the circumstances which accompanied the cure of this deaf and dumb sufferer shall be expressed in the ceremonies of holy Baptism. The priest, before pouring the water of the sacred font on the person who is presented for Baptism, puts on the catechumen's tongue the salt of wisdom, and touches his ears, saying: Ephpheta! that is, Be opened!
There is an instruction of another kind included in our Gospel, and worthy of our notice, as closely bearing on what we have been saying regarding humility. Our Lord imposed silence on those who had been witnesses of the miraculous cure, although He knew that their praiseworthy enthusiasm could never allow them to obey Him. By this injunction, He wished to give a lesson to His followers, that if, at times, it is impossible to keep men from being in admiration at the works they achieve -- if, sometimes, the holy Spirit, in opposition to their wishes, forces them to undergo public applause for the greater glory of the God whose instruments they are -- yet must they always do all in their power to avoid being noticed; they must prefer to be despised, or, at least, not talked of; they must love to be hidden in the secret of the face of God; and, after the most brilliant, just as truly as they would after the most menial, duties, they must say from the heartiest conviction: 'We are unprofitable servants, we have but done what we ought to do.
It is again the hymn of the humble, whether delivered, or healed, or glorified, by God, which is sung in the Offertory.