Lamenting nearly every moment lost
Since the end of the Fifteenth Century
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Upon Saint Crispin's Day!
The Battle of Agincourt was fought upon this day, an anniversary those of us whose childhoods were formed around anniversaries of deeds of heroics are inclined to remember.
O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!
What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
October 20th is when I begin to really get into Hallowmas mode, and I like to begin each year with a quotation from one of my favorite novels from my required reading at prep school.
"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 Prickett'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.
Ray Bradbury, who died this year, was very much a modern. But his work was not imbued with modernism. You might call his style modernity without modernism. His Fahrenheit 451, which I read eleven years ago for the first time, is one of the most conservative statements in favor of classical learning and against the mainstream pseudo-culture of TV that you will find written in the 20th century.
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.
In years past, I searched my local bookstores each year for The Halloween Tree, which I was only familiar with from the animated TV Halloween special done years ago (Leonard Nimoy as the voice of Moonshroud). No luck. Finally picked up a used copy for short money last year and read it for the first time. Loved it!
The difference is that, in 100 years, no one will recall who these authors were, or why what they had to say. But people will still read Bradbury for pleasure.
Others achieve the same plateau of excellence: Tolkien, Eliot, 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. Not only is Bradbury a friend of what Russell Kirk called "the permanent things," and a friend of Kirk, but his work is part of that cultural patrimony we must pass down.
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 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, wishing someone would remember you in their prayers with a longing that we can scarcely conceive.
Remember that you will die, too. As you are now, so the dead once were. As the dead are now, so you will one day be.
And the number one thing the dead need is prayers. Prayers, Masses, and Rosaries are of foremost importance for the dead in Purgatory.
My Jesus, by the sorrows Thou didst suffer in Thine agony in the Garden, in Thy scourging and crowning with thorns, on the way to Calvary, in Thy crucifixion and death, have mercy on the souls in Purgatory, and especially on those that are most forsaken; do Thou deliver them from the terrible torments they endure; call them and admit them to Thy most sweet embrace in paradise.
Current Reading "So many books:
so little time! *Sermons For Lent
by Saint Francis de Sales
*The Passion And Death Of Jesus Christ
by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori
*The School Of Jesus Crucified
by Father Ignatius Of the Side of Jesus
*The Seven Last Words
by Father Christopher Rengers OFM Cap.
*The Agony Of Jesus
by Saint Padre Pio
"Indeed, the true friends
of the people are neither
revolutionaries, nor innovators:
they are traditionalists."
St. Pius X
Prayer Requests "If Mary is so good to all,
even to the ungrateful and negligent,
who love her but little,
and seldom have recourse to her,
how much more loving will she be
to those who love her
and often call upon her!
St. Alphonsus Liguori American Catholic Prayer Requests
Catholic Publishers "Well, toward morning
the conversation turned
on the Eucharist, which I,
being the Catholic,
was obviously supposed to defend.
Mrs. Broadwater said
when she was a child
and received the host,
she thought of it
as the Holy Ghost,
He being the most
portable person of the Trinity;
now she thought of it
as a symbol
and implied that
it was a pretty good one.
I then said, in a very shaky voice,
'Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it.'"
Flannery O'Connor Baronius Press Ignatius Press Liguori Publications Neumann Press Sophia Institute Zaccheus Press TAN
Gone, But Not
Forgotten "Quomodo sedet sola civitas
plena populo facta est
quasi vidua domina gentium
facta est sub tributo.
Lamentations 1:1 *The Old Man of the Mountain
*Purity Supreme Supermarkets
*Ann & Hope
*Romie's Oyster House
*King's Grant Inn
*The Scotch and Sirloin
*York Steak House
*Gem Department Stores "Every right is
married to a duty,
every freedom owns
a corresponding responsibility.
There cannot be
unless there exists also
genuine order in the moral realm
and in the social realm."
You are the Celtic Cross: This cross was first made out of stone and is often found atop hills, in front of castles and in graveyards throughout Ireland and Scotland. The stone was carved with various symbols including a circle or halo (representing eternal life) and variations of the celtic knot.
"The Catholic novelist Evelyn Waugh,
that superbly gifted but curmudgeonly
and occasionally malevolent writer,
had a wickedly sharp tongue,
and sometimes behaved as though
he loved to inflict pain by his words.
One day, a brave woman dared to ask him:
'Mr. Waugh, you say such horrible things to people,
I cannot believe you are really religious.
How can you behave as you do,
and still remain a Christian?'
He replied with grim sincerity:
'Madam, I may be all the things you say.
But believe me, were it not for my religion,
I would scarcely be a human being.'"