Saturday, October 13, 2007
by Dennis A. McCarthy
When the grass was springing,
When the fields were gay,
When the winds were singing
All the happy day,
Then we gathered 'round thee,
Mother dear, and crown'd thee
With the brightest blossoms
Of the meads of May.
Now that the winds are grieving
Over the summer dead,
All the woodlands reaving
Of their riches red,
Once again we're kneeling,
To thy heart appealing,
Twining other garlands
For thy holy head.
Rosy crowns we wrought thee
In thy month of flow'rs,
Rosy crowns we brought thee
From the Maytime bow'rs.
But when roses fail us,
Rosaries avail us;
'Tis with these we crown thee
In October hours.
Denis A. McCarthy
Robert, Cyril. Our Lady's Praise in Poetry,
Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1944.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Second Penitential Prayer of Saint Alphonsus Liguori
O my God! I thank Thee, for making me now remain at Thy feet and not in hell, which I have so often deserved. But of what use would the life which Thou hast preserved be to me, should I continue to live without Thy grace. Ah! may this never be I have turned my back upon Thee I have lost Thee, O my Sovereign Good! I am sorry for it with my whole heart. Oh, that I had died a thousand times, rather than have offended Thee! I have lost Thee; but the prophet tells me that Thou art all goodness, and that Thou art easily found by the soul that seeks Thee. If I have hitherto fled away from Thee, I now seek Thee, and seek nothing but Thee. I love Thee with all the affections of my heart. Accept me. Do not disdain to give Thy love to a soul that has at one time despised Thee. Teach me what I must do in order to please Thee; I am ready and willing to do it. Ah, my Jesus! save this soul, for which Thou hast given Thy blood and Thy life; and, in order to save me, give me the grace always to love Thee in this and in the next life. This grace I hope for through Thy merits.
For this I also hope, O Mary! through thy intercession.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Which Civil War General are You?
Robert E Lee: You are the very image of the gentleman warrior with the soul of a river boat gambler. You place a very high price on honor and personal loyalty. Lee is widely regarded as one of the greatest generals in US history. Personally opposed to slavery, he only joined the Confederate army after Virginia seceded from the Union. Some say that he personally prolonged the war at least two years with his tactical brilliance
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Labels: Toy Soldiers and Wargames
I, too have noticed that the cult of the dead is not what it used to be. And I am as guilty as anyone.
Like Lawrence, my starting point is my reading of Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars, which explains the theory and practice of how Catholics traditionally prayed for the dead, and the importance of death in Catholic life. My reading of Duffy's book two years ago was an eye-opening experience for me, and I had grown up in a Catholic household, where whenever anyone died, the first thing you did was go out and buy a Mass card for them, and month's minds and anniversary Masses were the norm.
I had no idea how much my parents and their siblings were slacking, compared to previous Catholic practice. And I was slacking even more than they were. Duffy introduced me to the concept of a Gregorian trental of 30 Masses for the dead. He showed me how important the concept of Purgatory is, and how indulgences are of critical importance.
Since "going trad" four years ago, I have heard the traditional Requiem Mass, with its black vestments, constant refrain of "Dona ei requiem," the Dies Irae (and in fact, I took a stab at translating it myself, as the Latin is pretty easy).
The problem is that modern Catholics are not properly catechized on the topics of sin, the devil, Extreme Unction and Viaticum, a good death, the Four Last Things, especially death and judgment, Purgatory, indulgences, hellfire, and don't seem able to wrap their minds around the concept of eternal punishment. No one ever hears the sermons about how long souls spend in Purgatory for what seems to us so little, or how much they suffer there. We all think everyone goes right to Heaven, except for real rotters like Hitler, Stalin, and Ted Bundy.
People never hear the "tough" sermons, because most priests don't want to preach on such topics, even otherwise good traditional priests. There was a turning away from real fire-and-brimstone laden preaching a hundred years ago.
The British historian Paul Johnson, who said he got those from visiting Redemptorists annually during Lent when a school boy at a Catholic English boarding school (I am guessing, base don his age, back in the late 1930s), was luckier than most modern Catholics, who have never experienced sophisticated, and convincing preaching on this topic. And he and his chums only heard these sermons once a year, during Lent, from visiting Redemptorists. Notice that the priests who staffed his school didn't preach such sermons themselves, but let the annual dose of fire and brimstone come from visiting priests on a mission. There was something distasteful about preaching about sin, the devil, purgation and damnation, and it was beneath most priests to preach on this topic.
We started sugar-coating death and judgment, Purgatory and Hell a long time ago, with disastrous results. Since everyone thinks everybody gets to Heaven eventually, and that Purgatory is nothing more demanding than an exceptionally long wait in a doctor's waiting room, no one prays for the dead.
Few have anniversary Masses said. Week's minds have gone, because the grieving are still too much shocked by the funeral and burial. Month's minds are a thing of the past. The anniversary Mass is sometimes remembered, but is seldom attended with the proper solemnity. And it is a very rare thing that such anniversaries are said as proper votive Masses. You pay your $10, and the deceased is mentioned in the prayers for the dead, and you bring up the gifts at the offertory. And that is that as far as praying for the dead is concerned. it is just the regularly sceduled Mass of the day, with no special consideration for the deceased (especially since the dead are cursorily mentioned at nearly every Mass).
Few take the time to pray for the dead in a regular and systematic way. Few offer Rosaries for even their own dead. Few make the Stations of the Cross for the dead.
And what is the result?
Our dead suffer in Purgatory longer than they would have if we were attentive to our duty and obligation to pray for the dead. Prayers, Rosaries, Stations, and most especially, the Mass, help the suffering souls in Purgatory move through the awful, horrifying, excruciating agony of purgation more quickly. And if those prayers are not offered, or are offered in a haphazard sort of way, that helping hand is not given, and they suffer longer.
So the result is that Grandma, Ma, Pa, Uncle Henry, and Aunt Bea might be undergoing the tortures of Purgatory, which are said to be the same as those of Hell, and inflicted by some of the same demons, for 50, 80, 100 years, or might be there, unprayed for and neglected, until the place is closed at the end of time. And our prayers, if offered with loving care and attention, might have helped them through in 10, 15, or 20 years.
And remember, what goes around comes around. When we die, we will be in the same situation, or more likely worse. If we have neglected to pray enough for our own dead, it is very likely that we have also not done our duty in instilling a holy fear of Purgatory in our own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. So when we die, with them just content to put us in the ground and say a few pious words about how good we were and forget us entirely, we'll all be in Purgatory forgotten and neglected (if we are that lucky) until they close the place at the end of time.
As I have in the past few years, from about October 20th through November 11th, Recta Ratio will feature much material, images, prayers, history and story to put us in mind of the realities of death, judgment, purgatory, and hell. I haven't found a lot of new stuff this year, but will recycle as much as I can from previous years. It is a good and essential Catholic thing to pray for the dead. It is a work of mercy, for one thing. And it is beneficial to the soul to remember that we, too will die one day, and be in need of prayers and Masses. Who is going to pray for us?
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
OK, Bad news out of the way, the best news is that the Red Sox swept the Los Angeles Angels with a 9-0 rout behind a fine pitching performance by Curt Schilling. And to warm New England hearts even more, the Yankees lost last night to the Cleveland Indians, which means they will now be able to start working on their golf games much earlier than Herr Steinbrenner would like. And in his pique that he bought the wrong players, Herr Steinbrenner will likely fire Joe Torre. Good. Where else will he get a better manager?
Now that they have dried out from another champagne bath, the Sox will now face the Indians for the American League championship. This will not be easy. The Indians finished the season with the same record as the Sox. Let us hope that the result of this series is a third champagne bath for the Sox personnel.
Meanwhile, the Patriots continue to dominate the AFC East, and the rest of the NFL. This past weekend's victims were the Cleveland Browns. The result was a 34-17 win. And that gives the Pats a 4-game lead in the AFC East, and we are only at week 5.
Rounding out the football scene, Boston College is now ranked 4th in the nation, the highest my alma mater has ever been ranked. They crushed Bowling Green 55-24. They play Notre Dame, another "Catholic" college that isn't as Catholic as it ought to be, next week. Notre Dame is 1-5 on the season. But they have shown signs of improvement. BC should go into this game with something to prove. They have for generations been unfavorably compared to ND, when, in fact, there is little to choose from between the two. Notre Dame is said to be "the" Catholic university in the US, but BC is the emotional home for New England area Catholic kids. And everyone talks about how great Notre Dame's football tradition is (and it is a fine one). But Boston College has a great tradition, too. The Fighting Irish will try to knock BC down a peg or two, and put us "in our place." And, in fact, so disliked are northeast teams by the college football establishment that a loss would certainly knock BC back to 15th or so. But hopefully BC will be ready for the Irish to come at them hard, and will meet and best the challenge.
Let's see, the Red Sox in the ALCS. The Patriots' juggernaut rolling along. BC ranked 4th in the country. Sweet. May it continue, and may New England's Red Sox, Patriots, and Boston College fans be as happy as I am now one week from now, two weeks from now, three weeks, a month from now, two months, and three and four months from now.
Labels: Football Weekend Report