Saturday, October 22, 2005

From The Imitation of Christ

St. Thomas a Kempis

Book I, Chapter XXIII
On Thoughts of Death

Very quickly will there be an end of thee here; take heed therefore how it will be with thee in another world. Today man is, and to-morrow he will be seen no more. And being removed out of sight, quickly also he is out of mind. O the dulness and hardness of man's heart, which thinketh only of the present, and looketh not forward to the future. Thou oughtest in every deed and thought so to order thyself, as if thou wert to die this day. If thou hadst a good conscience thou wouldst not greatly fear death. It were better for thee to watch against sin, than to fly from death. If to-day thou art not ready, how shalt thou be ready to-morrow? To-morrow is an uncertain day; and how knowest thou that thou shalt have a to-morrow?

What doth it profit to live long, when we amend so little? Ah! long life doth not always amend, but often the more increaseth guilt. Oh that we might spend a single day in this world as it ought to be spent! Many there are who reckon the years since they were converted, and yet oftentimes how little is the fruit thereof. If it is a fearful thing to die, it may be perchance a yet more fearful thing to live long. Happy is the man who hath the hour of his death always before his eyes, and daily prepareth himself to die. If thou hast ever seen one die, consider that thou also shalt pass away by the same road.

When it is morning reflect that it may be thou shalt not see the evening, and at eventide dare not to boast thyself of the morrow. Always be thou prepared, and so live that death may never find thee unprepared. Many die suddenly and unexpectedly. For at such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh. When that last hour shall come, thou wilt begin to think very differently of thy whole life past, and wilt mourn bitterly that thou hast been so negligent and slothful.

Happy and wise is he who now striveth to be such in life as he would fain be found in death! For a perfect contempt of the world, a fervent desire to excel in virtue, the love of discipline, the painfulness of repentance, readiness to obey, denial of self, submission to any adversity for love of Christ; these are the things which shall give great confidence of a happy death. Whilst thou art in health thou hast many opportunities of good works; but when thou are in sickness I know not how much thou wilt be able to do. Few are made better by infirmity: even as they who wander much abroad seldom become holy.

Trust not thy friends and kinsfolk, nor put off the work of thy salvation to the future, for men will forget thee sooner than thou thinkest. It is better for thee now to provide in time, and to send some good before thee, than to trust to the help of others. If thou art not anxious for thyself now, who, thinkest thou, will be anxious for thee afterwards? Now the time is most precious. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. But alas! that thou spendest not well this time, wherein thou mightest lay up treasure which should profit thee everlastingly. The hour will come when thou shalt desire one day, yea, one hour, for amendment of life, and I know not whether thou shalt obtain.

Oh, dearly beloved, from what danger thou mightest free thyself, from what great fear, if only thou wouldst always live in fear, and in expectation of death! Strive now to live in such wise that in the hour of death thou mayest rather rejoice than fear. Learn now to die to the world, so shalt thou begin to live with Christ. Learn now to contemn all earthly things, and then mayest thou freely go unto Christ. Keep under thy body by penitence, and then shalt thou be able to have a sure confidence.

Ah, foolish one! why thinkest thou that thou shalt live long, when thou art not sure of a single day? How many have been deceived, and suddenly have been snatched away from the body! How many times hast thou heard how one was slain by the sword, another was drowned, another falling from on high broke his neck, another died at the table, another whilst at play! One died by fire, another by the sword, another by the pestilence, another by the robber. Thus cometh death to all, and the life of men swiftly passeth away like a shadow.

Who will remember thee after thy death? And who will entreat for thee? Work, work now, oh dearly beloved, work all that thou canst. For thou knowest not when thou shalt die, not what shall happen unto thee after death. While thou hast time, lay up for thyself undying riches. Think of nought but of thy salvation; care only for the things of God. Make to thyself friends, by venerating the saints of God and walking in their steps, that when thou failest, thou mayest be received into everlasting habitations.

Keep thyself as a stranger and a pilgrim upon the earth, to whom the things of the world appertain not. Keep thine heart free, and lifted up towards God, for here have we no continuing city. To Him direct thy daily prayers with crying and tears, that thy spirit may be found worthy to pass happily after death unto its Lord.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friends Of Saint Colman's Cathedral

The Sacred Weblog of the Universal Inquisition has unearthed a website for those who are interested in preserving St. Colman's Cathedral in Cobh from the wreck-o-vator's jackhammers.

An extremely worthy cause. Time to take a stand athwart the path of history yelling, "Stop!".

Thursday, October 20, 2005

My Traditional First Hallowmas Post

"First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. Not that all months aren't rare. But there be good and bad, as the pirates say. Take September, a bad month: school begins. Consider August, a good month: school hasn't begun yet. July, well, July's really fine: there's no chance in the world for school. June, no doubting it, June's best of all, for the school doors spring wide and September's a billion years away.

But you take October, now. School's been on a month and you're riding easier in the reins, jogging along. You got time to think of the garbage you'll dump on old man ett's porch, or the hairy ape costume you'll wear to the YMCA on the last night of the month. And if it's around October twentieth and everything smoky smelling and the sky orange and ash gray at twilight, it seems Halloween will never come in a fall of broomsticks and a soft flap of bedsheets around corners."

From the Prologue to Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, published in 1962.

I just happened to remember that it is October 20th (that forgetfulness seems to hit me every year). Who can't remember feeling the way Bradbury describes as childhood Halloweens approached?

Ray Bradbury is very much a modern. But his work is not imbued with modernism. You might call his style modernity without modernism. His Fahrenheit 451, which I read two years ago for the first time at the helpful instigation of my wife, is one of the most conservative statements in favor of classical learning and against the mainstream pseudo-culture of TV.

Something Wicked This Way Comes, Dandelion Wine, and The Illustrated Man show us a most welcome positive view of small town America (with a twist, of course, this is fiction, and imaginative fiction at that). Bradbury's normative themes are refreshing and real and far more authentic to the human experience (while being faithful to the cultural tradition of which they are a part) than the works of hundreds of authors whose books cram the local Barnes & Noble or Borders.

The difference is that, in 100 years, no one will recall who these authors were, or why what they had to say was read by people in 2004. But people will still read Bradbury for pleasure.

Others achieve the same plateau of excellence: Tolkien, Lewis, Frost, O'Brian, O'Connor, Kirk, Hawthorne, Pope, Wodehouse, Waugh, Faulkner, Wolfe, O'Conner, maybe Rowling. Their stuff will stand the test of time.

Bradbury has for me made October 20th a milestone, a day in which Halloween begins to be anticipated. Halloween, the eve of All Saints' and the build-up for the Catholic Day of the Dead, All Souls', has taken some hard knocks, mostly unjustified. Opportunistic modern wiccans and pagans, especially in Salem, have claimed as their own a holiday that has nothing to do with them and their New Age, and never did.

The celebration of the day is Celtic and Christian. It is the dying time of the year, with the harvest almost all in now, and even the green leaves of summer suddenly blazing into brilliant color and then dropping to the ground. The days are growing notably colder and shorter. It is the appropriate time to recall our dead, to think about, and to pray for the all the dead. The merry season of Christmas lies ahead. But, as the liturgical year winds down over the next 5 weeks, let us pause to recall death. It is the first of the Four Last Things, after all.

If part of thinking about it is reading old gothic ghost stories over a mug of mulled cider by candlelight in the privacy of one's study, or watching movies about ghosts, witches, vampires, werewolves, and monsters, or impressing the imagination of children by decorating a "haunted house" and handing out enough candy to make them spit out teeth the next day, or carving pumpkins in imitation of the Irish custom of the carved turnip of Jack of the Lantern, or burning leaves at night, there is no harm in it.

But the experience is made richer by remembering the saints of the Church on All Hallows' Day itself, and by praying for the dead, our dead, and the forgotten, unknown poor souls in Purgatory throughout November. And if dressing up as ghosts in bedsheets (I used the "Charlie Brown" costume once or twice as a kid) and going door to door like the people in Celtic villages who dressed up as those who had died during the year did to seek propitiary offerings, or those who, in Christian times, performed the luck-visit ritual of going a'souling, then it is a start. The important thing is to get people to start to remember the dead. Then build on that foundation. Just getting them to think of the dead as something other than inventory for a graveyard and an object of horror is a necessary start. We will all die, and will want to be remembered and prayed for. Purgatory is no easy thing, if we are lucky enough to get there. So remember the dead, and pray for them, because in time you may be that poor forgotten soul in Purgatory.

Latin Staging A Modest Comeback

At least in Connecticut.

As I have said before, I have seen periodically stories like this since I took Latin in prep school back in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Latin never is, but always "to be" blessed, it seems.

More From Judge Bork On Miers

His opposition deepens.

Really, she is quite an affirmative action choice. We are opening a slot on the Court for room temperature IQs.

Will Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman Soon Become A Blessed?

A miracle attributed to his intercession has been presented to a tribunal here in Boston for investigation. The findings of the tribunal are expected in February. if the miracle is validated, it could move Cardinal Newman up in the rankings of pre-saints from Venerable to Blessed.

You're the Top!

Seems we have lots of creativity around St. Blog's these days. Dom and Melanie of course, and this excellent trad filk of the old Cole Porter (?) tune, Your the Top! from Laodicea.
You're the top,
You're the Roman Canon;
You're the top,
You're the Creed in Latin;
In illo tempore
starts every story
you tell;
You're a chanted Ave,
a solemn Salve,
a Sanctus bell.

You're the lilt
Of the Vulgate Psalter;
You're the gilt
On a baroque altar.
I'm the lumpen prose
even ICEL chose
to drop;
But if, care, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

Way To Go!!! You Da Man!!!

Dom and Melanie are expecting. A honeymoon baby. That is the way it should be for everyone.

Keep the anxious husband and father and the increasingly ill wife and mother in your prayers.

The 7,000th Recta Ratio Blog Entry

I thought about patting myself on the back with some self-congratulatory nonsense, but dismissed the idea as vanity. I thought about a "best of" kind of entry, but didn't want to spend the time combing through the archives. So I think I will just celebrate visually, then get back to blogging.

Miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Not All Our Bishops Are Limp-Wristed, Linguini-Spined, Paper-Pushing Layabouts All the Time

Sometimes, they find a little backbone, and do something right.

Bishop Weigand has fired a parochial school teacher for volunteering to aid in the process of killing babies.

The bishop deserves praise for that. Great job. You made the right decision.

Meanwhile, Here In New England...

The foliage is near peak or even at peak in New Hampshire and parts of Maine and Vermont. the experts at the foliage network think the reason for less-than spectacular color this year is the warm September and the rainy windy October. But I think the very dry July and August might have more to do with it.

Pray For Them

Hurricane Wilma is now the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, and it is heading for Florida by the weekend. Pray for the people down there.

Tour London Shrines

Including St. Thomas More's cell, and Tyburn, with Rich Leonardi of Ten Reasons.

Today's Catholic Cultural Heritage Images

Bishop Magee's persistent wrong-headedness in wanting to take jackhammers to his cathedral in the "spirit of Vatican II" makes my choice for today's Catholic Cultural Heritage Images a no-brainer. It is, of course, St. Colman's Cathedral, Cobh, designed by Edward Pugin in 1868.

Aerial view of the Cathedral from the north side.

A head-on view. The cathedral dominates the town, as it ought.

Imposing when viewed from below.

A slighty different angle. This view just screams "GOTHIC!"

Views of the interior are hard to come by, but this is the altar rail the misguided bishop wants to jackhammer out, in the name of the lame cause of "bringing the priest and congregation together"

I can't tell if this is the reredos of the main altar, or from one of the chapels. I would need a close-up of the view above to have a better idea.

As Grammy Fitzpatrick used to say about anything that ought not to be mindlessly fiddled with: "TOUCH ME NOT!"

STOP THAT MAN!!! Before It Is Too Late!

The bishop of Cloyne (Eire) wants to wreck-o-vate St. Colman's Cathedral, Cobh, which is a lovely Gothic Revival design by Edward Pugin, son of AWN Pugin.

His lame reason? Vatican II.

Vatican II requires no such thing, and Pope Benedict said exactly that when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger.

Bishop Macgee wants to rip up a mosaic floor, tear down the altar rail, and "modernize" (deface) a chapel.

"These are drastic changes in this type of church," said Terry Pender, of the Friends of St Colman's. "This is a church where every stone, every carving was done with a particular reason in mind."

Donough Cahill, of the Irish Georgian Society, said: "The cathedral, and specifically its chancel and sanctuary, are an intact masterwork of high Victorian Gothic Revival design and craftsmanship.

"The alterations proposed would greatly undermine the character and integrity of these works and would diminish a major heritage asset for generations to come."

Over 24,000 signatures have been gathered to stop this mindless destruction. That is a lot for Cobh. And the Irish government is suing to stop it on historical preservation grounds. And well they should.

This must be stopped, or another precious part of the Catholic cultural and liturgical heritage will be swept away by goons with jackhammers in the employ of mindless empty-vessels who call themselves bishops. As the grandmother in Angela's Ashes says about the priest who she has annoyed about the First Communion incident, "that ignorant bog trotter!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hold Until Deportation

The Homeland Security chief wants to end the 'catch and release" policy on illegal immigrants.

I have no sympathy for illegal immigration. I have no vested interest in seeing huge numbers of non-English speakers illegally crossing the border to either work here for wages that depress the market for those born here, or leech off the welfare and charity system with the connivance of big-city Democrat machines that want votes. Nor do I care that illegal immigration from south of the border increases the number of Catholics in the US (we could do the same with targeted legal immigration from Ireland, Italy, the Philippines, and other Catholic countries).

Hold until deportation ought to be the norm, and the INS ought to be very aggressive in tracking down illegals. They ought to sweept the cities throughly. They ought to make every suspect produce a green card and if they can't, hold them for a brief time for them to use the phone to prove that they are, in fact, legal immigrants or US citizens, and, if they fail in that, deport them immediately, whether their native country wants them or not.

No more maids, landscapers, and agricultural workers? Too bad. Pay a market rate for American workers.

European Secularist Smarm and the Need for Exorcism

George Neumayr in The American Spectator.

Synod Proposal: Outreach To Latin Mass Worshippers

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, who heads up the Ecclesia Dei commission, has suggested that the final message of the synod include some outreach to those who prefer the traditional Latin Mass.

I don't know if the synod will adopt this proposal, or just let the Holy Father issue something on his own afterwards, as seems to have been the plan all along. The Cardinal is suggesting "equivalent rite" status, which would put the Latin Mass adherents on the same level with the Byzantine and other Eastern rites.

There are many ways for the Church to reach out to Latin Mass folks. One is the so-called "universal indult" which would affirm (not give, because it can be argued that, absent a direct order from the local ordinary forbidding it, every priest is already empowered to say the 1962 Missal's Mass whenever he wants) the right of all priests to say the traditional Latin Mass. But,k to be honest, if a local bishop wants to keep the Latin Mass orders out of his diocese, he could still do so, and this would not lead to more traditional Latin Masses being said out here in the provinces.

Second would be to create either Apostolic Administration or a personal prelature. This would essentially give the Latin Mass the same status as Opus Dei: it would not need the local ordinary's consent to operate in a diocese. I am not sure that this would be entirely feasible, or that it would even help much. It would certainly tread on local bishops' toes a great deal.

Then there is "equivalent rite" status, which would create a whole hierarchy of Latin Mass bishops alongside the existing diocesan organizations. I think this is the best outcome for the Latin Mass. But where will the personnel come to staff the hierarchy? And will there be enough indians left out in the parishes to say the Masses once you make so many chiefs?

Whither Europe?

A Brussels Journal interview with George Weigel on his new book The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America and Politics Without God

The Man Who Was Ratzinger

Michael Rose has a book out on our Holy Father.

Americans Believe In Creation

88% of us believe that creation, or God-directed evolution is responsible for life as we know it.

Over 2100 Antique Catholic Devotional Images

Pointed out by Catholic Church Conservation.

A true treasure trove!

As the Synod and the Year Of the Eucharist Wind Down

Check out this discussion of Eucharistic miracles over at St. Peter's Helpers.

And be sure to click on this link to the Real Presence Association with its fuller description of various miracles associated with the Blessed Sacrament.

What's Wrong With a Protestant Bible?

Fellow evil trad The Sacred Weblog of the Universal Inquisition quotes Saint Pope Pius X's Catechism on the subject.

Round 'em up and get a bonfire going.

Saint Jude: A Quick Reminder

If you want to start a novena to Saint Jude to end on the vigil of his feast, tomorrow is the day to start.

Here is a common novena prayer:

To Holy Jude, Apostle and Martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, near kinsman of our Lord Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor of all who invoke thy special patronage in time of need. To thee I have recourse from the depths of my heart and humbly beg thee, to whom God has given such great power, to come to my assistance. Help me in my present and urgent petition, in return I promise to make thy name known and cause thee to be invoked. Saint Jude pray for us and all who invoke thine aid.

Say 3 Our Father's, 3 Hail Mary's and 3 Glory Be's.

Another form, with a different prayer for each day of the novena, can be found here.

Today's Catholic Cultural Heritage Images

Today we will be looking at the Isenheim Altarpiece, Matthias Grunewald, c. 1500:

From the Web Gallery of Art:
The Isenheim Altarpiece was executed for the hospital chapel of Saint Anthony's Monastery in Isenheim in Alsace, which explains the presence of the plague saint, St Sebastian, and the patrons of the more austere and solitary forms of monasticism, St Antony Abbot and St Paul the Hermit. The altarpiece is now at the Unterlinden Museum in Colmar, a nearby town.

The Isenheim Altar is a complicated structure with four layers of painted surfaces - that is, two sets of folding wings, like a double cupboard, enclosing the final altarpiece, which consists of three carved wood statues of saints. There are also two side panels and a predella. In form, therefore, it harks back to the type of Burgundian and German carved altar of which the Broederlam at Dijon is a classic example.

There are three views of the altarpiece. The first, with the wings closed, is a Crucifixion showing a harrowingly detailed, twisted, and bloody figure of Christ on the cross in the center flanked, on the left, by the mourning Madonna being comforted by John the Apostle, and Mary Magdalene kneeling with hands clasped in prayer, and, on the right, by a standing John the Baptist pointing to the dying Saviour. At the feet of the Baptist is a lamb holding a cross, symbol of the "Lamb of God" slaughtered for man's sins. In the second view, when the wings are opened, three scenes of celebration are revealed: the Annunciation, the Angel Concert for Madonna and Child, and the Resurrection. The third view with wings opened again discloses on either side of the carved innermost shrine two panels, Sts Paul and Antony in the Desert and a Temptation of St Antony.

The Crucifixion is sombre and livid; inside, all is a magic glory of brilliant colour and light, and the final scenes of the Desert Saints are again lurid and eerie, with, in the Temptation, the kind of devil-haunted imagery that permeated Bosch's visions of sin.

The work of Grünewald expresses the torment of the early sixteenth century more fully than that of any other artist. Dürer was too steeped in Italian culture to have much use for the tortured Gothic forms which Grünewald twisted to suit his expressive purposes in his masterpiece, the Isenheim Altar, of about 1515. This was painted before Luther nailed his theses to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral in 1517, but it is painted by a man who, like Bosch, used his great technical powers to express a simple, unmistakable message of emotional intensity and terrible realism. These visions are entirely in the spirit of St Bridget of Sweden, whose Revelations were one of the most popular devotional books of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; they would have been repugnant to all but a very small number of Italians, of whom Savonarola would certainly have been one, and Botticelli might well have been another.

This is the first, or open, position, with the central carving flanked by Saints Jerome and Augustine. In the two painted scenes on the sides, are the meeting of St. Anthony the first abbot and St. Paul, the first hermit, on one side, and the tempation of Saint Anthony on the other.

The second or middle Position, with the Annunciation on our left, the Nativity in the center, and the Resurrection on our right. The Lamentation is below.

The Annunciation

The Archangel Gabriel

The third or closed position with Saints Sebastian and Anthony flanking a Crucifixion

You have probably seen this Crucifixion before, without knowing the source ( I know I did)

Our Blessed Lady and Saint John

It was this detail of our Lord's hand that recalled the scene to memory. I don't know if it is the agonized posture of it, or its greenish tinge that makes it stick out in my memory the most. But I recognized the scene instantly when I first saw it.

A Great Cat Poem

Over at Fructus Ventris.

Thanks, Alicia!

Saint Luke

Saint Luke the Evangelist from the Lindisfarne Gospels

Saint Luke was probably the author, or at least the source, of the Acts of the Apostles, as well.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Weekend Football Wrap-Up

Well, it was a good weekend for my alma maters, but not a good one for the New England Patriots, who lost to Denver 21-3, making them a pathetic 2-2 on the season. Chances of another Super Bowl fade further every week, it seems.

But Saint John's Prep beat St. John's of Shrewsbury 14-7 on the road. That makes my Eagles 5-1 this year.

And my other Eagles, the ones from Boston College, beat Wake Forest 35-30, and rose from 14 to 13 in the AP national rankings. They are now 6-1, and look to be headed for a bowl.

"Over-Population" Is A Load of Horse Dung

And Dom did the math to prove it.

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

A revelation to her in 1675 solidified the devotion to the Sacred Heart of our Lord:

The Twelve Promises of Our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary for those devoted to His Sacred Heart:
1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will establish peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
9. I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Read more about the Nine First Fridays devotion to the Sacred Heart here.

A brief biography of Saint Margaret Mary can be found here.

Gay Priests Are the Problem

Says Michael Rose.

And I agree.

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