Saturday, August 28, 2004

My Imitation of Christ, Book IV, Part 11

I would like to finish up My Imitation of Christ, Book IV over the Labor Day weekend (next week: tempus fugit) so this week there will be several installments.

After Labor Day, I will begin serializing the wisdom of the Desert Fathers.

That the Body and Blood of Christ and the Holy Scriptures Are Most Necessary to a Faithful Soul
The Voice of the Disciple
O most sweet Lord Jesus, how great is the blessedness of the devout soul that feedeth with Thee in Thy banquet, where there is set before it no other food than Thyself its only Beloved, more to be desired than all the desires of the heart? And to me it would verily be sweet to pour forth my tears in Thy presence from the very bottom of my heart, and with the pious Magdalene to water Thy feet with my tears. But where is this devotion? Where the abundant flowing of holy tears? Surely in Thy presence and in the presence of the holy Angels my whole heart ought to burn and to weep for joy; for I have Thee in the Sacrament verily present, although hidden under other form.

For in Thine own Divine brightness, mine eyes could not endure to behold Thee, neither could the whole world stand before the splendour of the glory of Thy Majesty. In this therefore Thou hast consideration unto my weakness, that Thou hidest Thyself under the Sacrament. I verily possess and adore Him whom the Angels adore in heaven; I yet for a while by faith, but they by sight and without a veil. It is good for me to be content with the light of true faith, and to walk therein until the day of eternal brightness dawn, and the shadows of figures flee away. But when that which is perfect is come, the using of Sacraments shall cease, because the Blessed in heavenly glory have no need of Sacramental remedy. For they rejoice unceasingly in the presence of God, beholding His glory face to face, and being changed from glory to glory of the infinite God, they taste the Word of God made flesh, as He was in the beginning and remaineth for everlasting.

When I think on these wondrous things, even spiritual comfort whatsoever it be becometh sore weariness to me; for so long as I see not openly my Lord in His own Glory, I count for nothing all which I behold and hear in the world. Thou, O God, art my witness that nothing is able to comfort me, no creature is able to give me rest, save Thou, O my God, whom I desire to contemplate everlastingly. But this is not possible, so long as I remain in this mortal state. Therefore ought I to set myself unto great patience, and submit myself unto Thee in every desire. For even Thy Saints, O Lord, who now rejoice with Thee in the kingdom of heaven, waited for the coming of Thy glory whilst they lived here, in faith and great glory. What they believed, that believe I; what they hoped for, I hope; whither they have attained to, thither through Thy grace hope I to come. I will walk meanwhile in faith, strengthened by the examples of the Saints. I will have also holy books for comfort and for a mirror of life, and above them all Thy most holy Body and Blood shall be for me a special remedy and refuge.

For two things do I feel to be exceedingly necessary to me in this life, without which this miserable life would be intolerable to me; being detained in the prison of this body, I confess that I need two things, even food and light. Thou hast therefore given to me who am so weak, Thy sacred Body and Blood, for the refreshing of my soul and body, and hast set Thy Word for a lantern to my feet. Without these two I could not properly live; for the Word of God is the light of my soul, and Thy Sacrament the bread of life. These may also be called the two tables, placed on this side and on that, in the treasury of Thy holy Church. One table is that of the Sacred Altar, bearing the holy bread, that is the precious Body and Blood of Christ, the other is the table of the Divine Law, containing holy doctrine, teaching the true faith, and leading steadfastly onwards even to that which is within the veil, where the Holy of Holies is.

Thanks be unto Thee, O Lord Jesus, Light of Light everlasting, for that table of holy doctrine which Thou has furnished to us by Thy servants the Prophets and Apostles and other teachers. Thanks be to Thee, O Creator and Redeemer of men, who to make known Thy love to the whole world has prepared a great supper, in which Thou hast set forth for good not the typical lamb, but Thine own most Holy Body and Blood; making all Thy faithful ones joyful with this holy banquet and giving them to drink the cup of salvation, wherein are all the delights of Paradise, and the holy Angels do feed with us, and with yet happier sweetness.

Oh how great and honourable is the office of the priests, to whom it is given to consecrate the Sacrament of the Lord of majesty with holy words, to bless it with the lips, to hold it in their hands, to receive it with their own mouth, and to administer it to others! Oh how clean ought those hands to be, how pure the mouth, how holy the body, how unspotted the heart of the priest, to whom so often the Author of purity entered in! From the mouth of the priest ought naught to proceed but what is holy, what is honest and profitable, because he so often receiveth the Sacrament of Christ.

His eyes ought to be single and pure, seeing they are wont to look upon the Body of Christ; the hands should be pure and lifted up towards heaven, which are wont to hold within them the Creator of heaven and earth. To priests is it specially said in the Law, Be ye holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

Assist us with Thy grace, O Almighty God, that we who have taken upon us the priestly office, may be able to converse worthily and devoutly with Thee in all purity and good conscience. And if we are not able to have our conversation in such innocency of life as we ought, yet grant unto us worthily to lament the sins which we have committed, and in the spirit of humility and full purpose of a good will, to serve Thee more earnestly for the future.

Two Good Ones Over At Sacred Miscellany

On going too far with causal attire at Mass,


tired and fed up with Haugen, Haas, and Schutte.

Were We Fed A Line Of BS To Prevent Panic?

Was the November 12 American Airlines flight that crashed in Queens the result of a suicide attack, or not? Al Qaeda sources claim credit for it. US government sources insist it was an accident.

Both sides have reason to lie.

Al Qaeda would like to make itself look like a continuing potent force against the US not only in Iraq, Afghanistan and among the Palestinians, but even in the US despite the "best efforts" of law enforcement and intelligence.

The US government would like to prevent the travelling public from stampeding away from air travel again, and does not want to be caught with egg all over its face for having failed to prevent another attack on the airline industry (and in New York City). And such another attack by Moslem extremists on the US would, almost without question unleash a terrible anti-Moslem popular pogrom, making the politically correct accomodation the government prefers towards Islam impossible.

But I think in this case, it is al Qaeda which is being opportunistic and taking credit for something it did not do. Just a hunch, mind you.

My Imitation of Christ, Book IV, Part 10

The latest installment in my serialization of the section of this great devotional work that deal with the Holy Eucharist.

That Holy Communion Is Not Lightly to Be Omitted
The Voice of the Beloved
Thou must frequently betake thee to the Fountain of grace and divine mercy, to the Fountain of goodness and all purity; to the end that thou mayest obtain the healing of thy passions and vices, and mayest be made stronger and more watchful against all temptations and wiles of the devil. The enemy, knowing what profit and exceeding strong remedy lieth in the Holy Communion, striveth by all means and occasions to draw back and hinder the faithful and devout, so far as he can.

For when some set about to prepare themselves for Holy Communion, they suffer from the more evil suggestions of Satan. The very evil spirit himself (as is written in Job), cometh among the sons of God that he may trouble them by his accustomed evil dealing, or make them over timid and perplexed; to the intent that he may diminish their affections, or take away their faith by his attacks, if haply he may prevail upon them to give up Holy Communion altogether, or to come thereto with lukewarm hearts. But his wiles and delusions must not be heeded, howsoever wicked and terrible they be; but all his delusion must be cast back upon his head. The wretch must be despised and laughed to scorn: neither must Holy Communion be omitted because of his insults and the inward troubles which he stirreth up.

Often also too much carefulness or some anxiety or other touching confession hindereth from obtaining devotion. Do thou according to the counsel of wise men, and lay aside anxiety and scruple, because it hindereth the grace of God and destroyeth devotion of mind. Because of some little vexation or trouble do not thou neglect Holy Communion, but rather hasten to confess it, and forgive freely all offences committed against thee. And if thou hast offended any man, humbly beg for pardon, and God shall freely forgive thee.

What profiteth it to put off for long time the confession of thy sins, or to defer Holy Communion? Cleanse thyself forthwith, spit out the poison with all speed, hasten to take the remedy, and thou shalt feel thyself better than if thou didst long defer it. If to-day thou defer it on one account, to-morrow perchance some greater obstacle will come, and so thou mayest be long time hindered from Communion and become more unfit. As soon as thou canst, shake thyself from thy present heaviness and sloth, for it profiteth nothing to be long anxious, to go long on thy way with heaviness of heart, and because of daily little obstacles to sever thyself from divine things; nay it is exceeding hurtful to defer thy Communion long, for this commonly bringeth on great torpor. Alas! there are some, lukewarm and undiscplined, who willingly find excuses for delaying repentance, and desire to defer Holy Communion, lest they should be bound to keep stricter watch upon themselves.

Alas! how little charity, what flagging devotion, have they who so lightly put off Holy Communion. How happy is he, how acceptable to God, who so liveth, that any day he could be ready and well inclined to communicate, if it were in his power, and might be done without the notice of others. If a man sometimes abstaineth for the sake of humility or some sound cause, he is to be commended for his reverence. But if drowsiness have taken hold of him, he ought to rouse himself and to do what in him lieth; and the Lord will help his desire for the good will which he hath, which God specially approveth.

But when he is hindered by sufficient cause, yet will he ever have a good will and pious intention to communicate; and so he shall not be lacking in the fruit of the Sacrament. For any devout man is able every day and every hour to draw near to spiritual communion with Christ to his soul's health and without hindrance. Nevertheless on certain days and at the appointed time he ought to receive the Body and Blood of his Redeemer with affectionate reverence, and rather to seek after the praise and honour of God, than his own comfort. For so often doth he communicate mystically, and is invisibly refreshed, as he devoutly called to mind the mystery of Christ's incarnation and His Passions, and is inflamed with the love of Him.

He who only prepareth himself when a festival is at hand or custom compelleth, will too often be unprepared. Blessed is he who offereth himself to God for a whole burnt-offering, so often as he celebrateth of communicateth! Be not too slow nor too hurried in thy celebrating, but preserve the good received custom of those with whom thou livest. Thou oughtest not to produce weariness and annoyance in others, but to observe the received custom, according to the institution of the elders; and to minister to the profit of others rather than to thine own devotion or feeling.

Now That Everyone Has Stopped Paying Attention And Has Started To Focus On the Coming Patriots Season

The Red Sox have managed a little resurrection act, climbing from more than 10 games back to only 51/2 back and into first place in the the wild card race by winning 10 of the last 11 games.

Even if they win the AL Wild Card, they still have to beat the Yankees to get to the World Series. And history has proven that this is not an easy thing to do.

St. Augustine of Hippo

One of the great doctors and bishops in the history of the Church.

And like St. Francis, his youth was dissolute. Sort of gives those of use with much time wasted on our consciences a little hope.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Really Poor Taste

A toy marked "9011" depicting an airplace flying into an office tower. What's next, realistic half-rotted plastic corpses in cereal boxes?

The Battle of Long Island

In late August, 1776, General William Howe at the head of a large army of British and Hessian troops and supported by a fleet commanded by his older brother Admiral Lord Richard Howe, confronted George Washington's army at the western end of Long Island.

Washington's army was drawn up along the high ground of the Heights of Guan on a more-or-less east-west axis. Howe, having landed from Staten Island, was south of Washington's position. Washington had around 11,000 with him (more were on Manhattan and elsewhere). Howe had over 25,000.

At Bunker Hill the previous summer, Howe had learned a healthy respect for Americans holding a fixed position. At the suggestion of his second in command, General Henry Clinton, Howe approved a plan of marching most of his forces under cover of night eastward, past Washington's open left flank at Jamaica Pass., and wheeling north and west, rolling up Washington's unsuspecting army.

On the morning of August 27, with General Charles, Earl Cornwallis leading the vanguard, Howe's forces picked up the three officers tasked by Washington with guarding the pass. The elite grenadiers, light infantry, and Guards filed through followed by line regiments. Once Howe was in position, the Hessian General von Heister launched an attack on Washington's right, designed to fix the Americans in place.

The Maryland and Delaware troops on the right held firm against von Heister, while Howe, Clinton, and Cornwallis rolled up the American left in detail. "Lord" Stirling, the American commander on the right, launched his 250 Maryland troops in attack after attack on von Heister's 6,000, in order to hold open an escape route to Washington's fall-back position- fortifications on the Brooklyn Heights. Finally, a handful of Stirling's men were able to wade across Gowanus Creek. Stirling himself had to surrender his sword to von Heister, after most of Washington's force sought shelter within the fortifications. Washington, watching the stand of Stirling's men from Brooklyn, exclaimed, "Dear God, what brave men I must lose this day."

Howe had pushed Washington back, at a cost of 377 killed and wounded (including both British and German) against American casualties of 1,407 killed, wounded, and captured.

Howe stopped at the fortifications. He had no desire to attack fortifications head-on again. He reasoned that his brother's fleet would sail into the river separating Long Island from Manhattan, while his own army laid siege to the fortifications. It would not be long before Washington hoisted a white flag. Clinton was disgusted at what he considered cowardly behavior on Howe's part. Washington's army was demoralized by the disaster. At the cost of a 1000 casualties more, at most, Washington's army could be wiped out, Clinton reasoned.

The winds proved adverse for Lord Howe's fleet for several days.

On the night of August 29th, with Colonel John Glover's regiment of former fishermen from Marblehead manning the boats, Washington managed secretly to extract the remnants of his army (some 9,000 men) from the Brooklyn Heights and across the river to Manhattan.

Howe was knighted for his victory, and rightly so. His battle plan was a masterpiece of tactical audacity, all the more amazing in its because very few of his troops had seen battle before. But Clinton was probably right. Had he pushed the offensive against the Brooklyn Heights, Washington would have had to hand over his sword. Faced with the defeat of Washington's main army, Congress might very well have sued for peace on generous terms short of independence. Howe could have ended the war and the short-lived American republic on August 27, 1776.

Bismarck later remarked that there is a special Providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America. I would not dispute him. Let us pray it holds.

St. Monica

Today is the feast of that long-suffering mother, whose prayers for the conversion of her son were eventually granted, and the Church gained one of her greatest bishops and doctors, St. Augustine of Hippo.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Bush Edging Into Lead Even Before Convention

A small lead, but this is an LA Times Poll, which I expect to be neither accurate, nor biased in the President's favor.

I expect the convention to give the President a very small boost (1-2 more percent).

The Parish Hall At St. Blog's Has a New URL

And here it is.

I've updated the link on the right as well.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

When I Have Completed Book IV of My Imitation of Christ

I will serialize some of the wisdom of the Desert Fathers, a brand of Catholic spirituality that seldom surfaces in the modern world.

My Imitation of Christ, Book IV, Part 9

Another installment in my ongoing serialization of this important section of the second-most popular devotional work in the history of Christendom which specifically deals with the Holy Eucharist.

That We Ought to Offer Ourselves and All That Is Ours to God, and to Pray for All
The Voice of the Disciple:

Lord, all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine. I desire to offer myself up unto thee as a freewill offering, and to continue Thine for ever. Lord, in the uprightness of mine heart I willingly offer myself to Thee to-day to be Thy servant for ever, in humble submission and for a sacrifice of perpetual praise. Receive me with this holy Communion of Thy precious Body, which I celebrate before Thee this day in the presence of the Angels invisibly surrounding, that it may be for the salvation of me and of all Thy people.

Lord, I lay before Thee at this celebration all my sins and offences which I have committed before Thee and Thy holy Angels, for the day whereon I was first able to sin even unto this hour; that Thou mayest consume and burn them every one with the fire of Thy charity, and mayest do away all the stains of my sins, and cleanse my conscience from all offence, and restore me to Thy favour which by sinning I have lost, fully forgiving me all, and mercifully admitting me to the kiss of peace.

What can I do concerning my sins, save humbly to confess and lament them and unceasingly beseech Thy propitiation? I beseech Thee, be propitious unto me and hear me, when I stand before Thee, O my God. All me sins displease me grievously: I will never more commit them; but I grieve for them and will grieve so long as I live, steadfastly purposing to repent me truly, and to make restitution as far as I can. Forgive, O God, forgive me my sins for Thy holy Name's sake; save my soul, which Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious . Behold I commit myself to thy mercy, I resign myself to Thy hands. Deal with me according to Thy loving-kindness, not according to my wickedness and iniquity.

I offer also unto Thee all my goodness, though it is exceedingly little and imperfect, that Thou mayest mend and sanctify it, that Thou mayest make it well pleasing and acceptable in Thy sight, and ever draw it on towards perfection; and furthermore bring me safely, slothful and useless poor creature that I am, to a happy and blessed end.

Moreover I offer unto Thee all pious desires of the devout, necessities of parents, friends, brothers, sisters, and all who are dear to me, and of those who have done good to me, or to others for Thy love; and those who have desired and besought my prayers for themselves and all belonging to them; that all may feel themselves assisted by Thy grace, enriched by consolation, protected from dangers, freed from pains; and that being delivered from all evils they may joyfully give Thee exceeding thanks.

I offer also to Thee prayers and Sacramental intercessions for those specially who have injured me in aught, made me sad, or spoken evil concerning me, or have caused me any loss or displeasure; for all those also whom I have at any time made sad, disturbed, burdened, and scandalized, by words or deeds, knowingly or ignorantly; that to all of us alike, Thou mayest equally pardon ours sins and mutual offences. Take away, O Lord, from our hearts all suspicion, indignation, anger, and contention, and whatsoever is able to injure charity and diminish brotherly love. Have mercy, have mercy, Lord, on those who entreat Thy mercy; give grace to the needy; and make us such that we may be worthy to enjoy Thy grace, and go forward to the life eternal.

Icon of Virgin of Kazan To Be Returned To Russia

OK. No problem, there.

But the best news in the article is that the Holy Father is better than he was at Lourdes after resting at Castello Gondolpho.

What the Major Orders Need Is A Good Enema

Strike that. Many of the members of the orders for men might enjoy that too much.

What they need is a heavy dose of intervention from the Vatican, and a root-and-branch overhaul of policies, education, doctrinal views, and world view, a complete suppression of the heterodox. Otherwise, they'll be leading the way in the creation of a Modernist American Catholic Church, as they are in a far more gangrenous state than the diocesan priesthood.

Excise the diseased parts now, or soon it will be too late. Not only will these orders become useless and counterproductive in the Church's effort to evangelize the laity of all nations, but they will become dessicated, irrelevant, and defunct from the calcified liberalism of the 1960s. And a great part of the Catholic tradition will be lost.

Saint King Louis IX

Patron of the French monarchy, and one of a handful monarchs raised to the altars of Holy Mother the Church.

"In prosperity, give thanks to God with humility and fear lest by pride you abuse God's benefits and so offend him. " St. Louis.

Today is also the 60th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris from the Nazis. Tell me it was a coincidence that the liberation came on the feast of the patron of France.

While some in France regard Charlemagne as a saint, he is recognized as only a Blessed by the Universal Church. Saint King Wenceslaus of Bohemia is another royal saint. Blessed Emperor Charles (Karl) of Austria may well become another. I'm probably missing a few.

There have been more royal consorts recognized as official members of the Communion of Saints than monarchs. St. Clotilde and the Empress Helen are two that come immediately to mind. But there are many others.

The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend

At least as far as destroying al Qaeda is concerned.

This has all the hallmarks of al Qaeda, given the hijack warning, and the almost simultaneous crashes of the two planes.

While the US is al Qaeda's main enemy, Russia is a secondary target because al Qaeda is deeply involved in the Chechen revolt.

Strategic cooperation between the US and Russia in regard to the Chechen rebels/al Qaeda/Moslem terrorism generally is highly desirable. In fact, it is a fact of life little known to the general public.

It occurs to me that one revelation would be very damaging to the credibility Administration (and I hope it is not going on at any level): that one or another arm of the US goverment is aiding the Chechen rebels in any way, shape, or form, in order to discomfort Russia. Such a revelation would bring back all of the embarrassment of the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s. Let us hope we have learned our lesson and are not giving any aid and comfort in any way to what is now our main enemy in order to poke a finger in the eye of an old strategic rival`(which now has more in common with us than is generally publicly acknowledged).

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

St. Bartholomew

August 24th is the feast of this Apostle and martyr.

The Traditional Latin Mass Returns To North Carolina

Once again, a reporter is agog to find that the congregation is not made up entirely of nostalgic blue-hairs, but instead contains a fair number of younger people who grew up after the Vatican II reforms and find the way in which the Novus Ordo is often celebrated in many parishes somewhat lacking in reverence, transcendence, and beauty.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Saint Sidonius Apollinaris

Today is the feast day of a saint I am very familiar with from my first medieval history class in college. We spent more than a week under Professor William Daly, who was preparing a scholarly biography of Sidonius, 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 Erik 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.

A more secularist view of Saint Sidonius' career can be found in this essay by Lynn Harry Nelson, Professor Emeritus of Medieval History at the University of Kansas.

I've often liked to contrast Saint Sidonius with the slightly earlier Gallo-Roman noble, 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 accomplished nothing. 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 resistence 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 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. Professor Daly would be pleased to see one of his former students invoking 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.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?