Monday, January 31, 2005

Just One More Paragraph from "The Serpent on the Rock":

I once heard an ex-nun say on the radio that when she wore the habit people would edge away from her. As I had always felt comfortable and unthreatened in the presence of nuns dressed in the old style I wrote an article suggesting that if people were keeping downwind of her it might well be due to some other cause. This thoughtless remark prompted the poor woman to write to me, not in a spirit of complaint but desirous of explaining her position, and I have seldom been so mortified in all my life. I did not agree with her views, and the way of life she described held no appeal for me at all, but one must not be spiteful.

Fighting for the Faith while trying to maintain your status as a Christian gentlewoman can present almost insuperable difficulties. However, so devious is human nature that you can gain great satisfaction simply by stating in the presence of feminists that you aspire to be a Christian gentlewoman, a handmaid to the Lord and to mankind. These words cannot be construed as manifestly offensive yet can be relied on to madden people. You can also claim that you get up early in order to make breakfast for your husband and family before they go out to work, and that you like to rest in the afternoons so that you feel fresh and able to entertain them in the evening. Still, this may be going too far, and may well not be true.

Well, that was two wasn't it. But,sure, it did you no harm now, did it. Wonderful stuff.

Alice Thomas Ellis

A reader asked me the other day if I had read Mrs Ellis's "The Inn at the Edge of the World". I hadn't. I still haven't. But it reminded me that having put aside her excellent "Serpent on the Rock: A Personal View of Christianity" for something more pressing, I really ought to pick it up again. And so I did.

It is a book of conversations with all sorts of modern Christians, the orthodox, the confused and somewhat less-than-orthodox, the completely barmy and all manner of gradations in between. Mrs Ellis leaves the citations from the learned journals to someone else and holds up her end of the conversation with style, wit, and common sense.

In this sample, a very modern Catholic full of angst worries about the Catholic teaching on contraception, celibacy, and sex in general:

But I do think that the sexual doctrine of the Church is causing great problems and is partly responsible for the haemorrhage of young people. The doctrine needs, at the very least, strong updating with the help of social sciences. Wherever you look – divorce, homosexuality, contraception or whatever – the Church’s position appears to be outdated and harmful if it creates guilt where perhaps there shouldn’t be any.’

‘I sometimes get the feeling that a constant awareness of guilt should be the condition proper to mankind,’ I observed. ‘It isn’t pleasant but it often seems entirely appropriate.’ Nor do I have the remotest faith in the ‘social sciences’. Human nature hasn’t changed since Adam and Eve and Cain and Able first all fell out with each other’ since David lusted after Bathsheba, Lot repulsed the Sodomites or Onan spilled his seed. I also know that my own ‘young people’ refuse to go to church because it’s lost its elastic. They prefer rules to being patronized and are aware only of the liberal movement, not of the hard core which does remain, if often seemingly silent. The sophisticated young are even less tolerant of the Church’s attempts to offer them what they imagine they will find inviting than I am. The sneer on the face of the street-wise young person who witnesses a Rave in the Nave is enough to freeze the blood.’

One more:

This unthinking insistence on happiness most probably springs from the absurdity enshrined in the American Constitution that man has a right to ‘the pursuit of happiness’: an empty promise which has conspired with later doctrines to mislead people into selfishness and greed. . . .Freud, despite being the originator of the ‘talking cure’ which has degenerated into the ubiquitous ‘counselling’, cannot be held to blame here, since he acknowledged that the normal state of man was one of mild depression. . . It is futile to make happiness a goal: it is always and only a by-product.

This is a hugely enjoyable read. I can't imagine what it was that seemed important enough to let it be laid aside for so long.

The Royal Martyr

This year Sexagesima Sunday co-incides with the old Anglican commemoration of King Charles the Martyr. Up until 1859 this day was among the State Services in the Prayer Book, i.e., "certain solemn days for which particular services are appointed". According to the rubric "If this Day shall happen to be a Sunday, this Form of Prayer shall be used and the Fast kept the next day following." (The "Form of Prayer" mentioned can be found here.) So I am not, in fact, a day late in mentioning the late king's commemoration.

Charles proved too royal and too Catholic in his old High Church Anglican faith and was executed by the Puritan revolutionaries. He wasn't a Roman, although his wife, Henriette Marie of France, was, yet he died upholding certain essential elements of the Catholic faith against those who denied them.

Would it be unwarranted and too mean-spirited of me, not to mention "divisive", if I suggested that King Charles's martyrdom reminds one that those who hate liturgy, smash statues, burn paintings and books, denude churches of any art or interest or reverence don't always stop there? Yes, it probably would. So I won't do that. Ignore this paragraph.

There's an Anglican Society of King Charles the Martyr which has a website here. Project Canterbury provides several historical texts associated with King Charles here.

However, I am a day late in metioning Sexagesima Sunday which was yesterday. The Catholic Encyclopaedia gives a brief description here. The liturgical Mass texts in Latin and English can be found here and here. (You'll need both links for both sides of the pages.)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

My New Favourite Diocese

(Next to Barchester, of course. ) View the cathedral; learn the intricacies of Holy Ironing. A valuable website, indeed.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

And now for something completely different

Two completely different things actually. They occupy the same post since the same man referred me to them, although in different fora. (Thanks, Mike.)

The first is this site with a wealth of Jean Shephard broadcasts. Not being a New Yorker, I didn't know his radio show had ever existed. But as The Christmas Story is an annual favourite, I'm delighted at this find.

And then there is this. Hieronymus Bosch Action Figures. Seems as accurate a description as any.

New On The Left

The blogroll on the left side of the page that is. Nothing to do with freshly minted liberal Democrats. New among the weblogs listed on the left side of this page is The Julian Calendar, an Australian entry with a congenial and well-expressed point of view. Also new is Mike Fieschko's blog which is actually entitled "chattr +a -V" although I have entered it on the roll much less originally as "Mike Fieschko's blog" since I will forget his original title almost immediately after typing this.

As of last week there is also a new section each on Scottish Country Dance, Ireland, and assorted other ecclesiastical miscellanea for which I couldn't find a logical heading.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Full Marks to the Knights of Columbus for Courage

The Knights of Columbus in British Columbia stand athwart the tracks of the on-rushing homosexualist freight train shouting "stop" according to this story. Given Canada's current head-long plunge into moral chaos one doesn't like to think about their chances of succeeding. But God bless their efforts.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Leaven in the Dough

If you have a few minutes this article "Why I Returned To The Latin Mass: A Personal Account" from a back number of Oriens magazine was recently recommended to me by my friend Kirk. I second the recommendation and herewith pass it along to you. To quote Kirk's note about Oriens, "the supernatural spirit and sound common sense and absence of bitterness & rancor in the articles I read there put it in a class by itself among the various traditional publications & groups I knew of." Indeed.

$2,400,00.00 for a 30 second spot

That's the going rate for an advertisement on the super bowl football telecast. (You can find that sort of information in all sorts of places on the web. (This is probably one of the more entertaining ones.) Those of you who regularly visit here, as opposed to the slackers who just show up on Christmas and Easter, will already be aware that I don't give a . . . ahem, I mean, I am completely indifferent to professional football and all its works and pomps.

I only bring this topic up at all because of my annual fascination at Big Media's logical contradictions. The same medium which insists that its programmes could not possibly have any harmful consequences - they are, after all, merely flickering electronic images which could have no conceiveable impact on anyone and the putative censor who suggests otherwise is probably unbalanced - this same medium announces that the use of a mere 30 seconds of its air time will have such an impact on the viewer that it'll run you $2.4 million. And a whole stock exchange full of major corporations agrees whole-heartedly hoping to be one of the few chosen to hawk their wares on the super bowl broadcast.

An hour-long programme on adultery will have no effect on anyone. A 30 second shot of people drinking Budweiser will recoup the Anhueser-Busch's $2.4 million investment and more besides, pressed down and over-flowing.


Lightning Meditations

Msgr Ronald Knox wrote a short and very worthwhile book by that title. If you see it at your local second-hand bookshop it will be well-worth the dollar or two it will cost you.

But lightning meditations can be found in any number of places. There's one here, for instance, that contains one's minimum daily requirement of wisdom in only two paragraphs.

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Book Game

Via Mommentary. The game is "You post a list of books that you got from someone else. The game is to remove authors who you do not have in your library and replace them in bold with ones you do have."

I've seen this one mentioned before but Elinor's selection caught my eye because at first glance I thought I had all of them. But at second glance, alas, no Georgette Heyer. In fact, I confess, although the name was familiar, I had to run a Google search to find out precisely who she is.

In any event, the list:

1. Anthony Trollope

2. Josephine Tey

3. Wilkie Collins

4. Jane Austen

5. Margery Allingham

6. E. F. Benson

7. G. K. Chesterton

8. Patrick O'Brian

9. Tony Hillerman

10. Dorothy Sayers

Actually, I think that Mary has a couple of Georgette Heyers somewhere. So in honour of the fact that they are in the house, even if not in my library, I kept the era (even if not the, uh, ambience) for my one new selection.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

At Jeff's Suggestion. . .

. . .I have installed "The Jihad Watch" in The Newsstand in the blogroll to your left. This item referenced in El Camino Real being the operative nudge.

Cardinal Newman and the Post-Modern Age

I'm stealing some of Quenta Narwenion's thunder here. I was looking for something else from Cardinal Newman this evening and ended up (re-)reading the Biglietto Speech. This section struck me once again:

Hitherto the civil Power has been Christian. Even in countries separated from the Church, as in my own, the dictum was in force, when I was young, that: "Christianity was the law of the land". Now, everywhere that goodly framework of society, which is the creation of Christianity, is throwing off Christianity. The dictum to which I have referred, with a hundred others which followed upon it, is gone, or is going everywhere; and, by the end of the century, unless the Almighty interferes, it will be forgotten. Hitherto, it has been considered that religion alone, with its supernatural sanctions, was strong enough to secure submission of the masses of our population to law and order; now the Philosophers and Politicians are bent on satisfying this problem without the aid of Christianity. Instead of the Church's authority and teaching, they would substitute first of all a universal and a thoroughly secular education, calculated to bring home to every individual that to be orderly, industrious, and sober, is his personal interest. Then, for great working principles to take the place of religion, for the use of the masses thus carefully educated, it provides—the broad fundamental ethical truths, of justice, benevolence, veracity, and the like; proved experience; and those natural laws which exist and act spontaneously in society, and in social matters, whether physical or psychological; for instance, in government, trade, finance, sanitary experiments, and the intercourse of nations. As to Religion, it is a private luxury, which a man may have if he will; but which of course he must pay for, and which he must not obtrude upon others, or indulge in to their annoyance.

We have arrived exactly where Newman said we would. And we continue on the same path. The History Channel had a couple of hours of bumpf on Nostradamus a few weeks ago. I dare them to present Cardinal Newman's predictions.

V. Desponsatio est hodie sanctae Mariae Virginis
R. Cujus vita inclyta cunctas illustrat ecclesias.

In some of the old calendars 23 January would be the feast of the Betrothal of Our Lady to St Joseph, i.e., In Desponsatione Beatae Mariae Virignis. Both the Ancient Observance and the Discalced Carmelites once celebrated it today.

The beautiful Introitus to the Mass from the old Liturgy of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem:

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrantes sub honore beatae Mariae Virginis : de cujus Desponsatione gaudent Angeli, et collaudant Filium Dei. (Ps. 44, 2) Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum : dico ego opera mea Regio. Gloria Patri.

Rejoice we all in the Lord, as we keep holiday in Mary's honour; that blessed Maiden whose Betrothal makes angels joyful and sets them praising the Son of God. Joyful the thoughts that well up from my heart, a King's honour for my theme.

The collect for the feast from the old Discalced Carmelite liturgy:

Famulis tuis, quaesumus Domine, caelestis gratiae munus impertire : ut quibus beatae Virginis partus exstitit salutis exordium, Desponsationis ejus votiva solemnitas pacis tribuat incrementum. Per Dominum nostrum. Amen.

O Lord, we beseech Thee to give the gift of heavenly grace to Thy servants: by means of which the giving birth of the Blessed Virgin may point to the source of salvation and the votive solemnity of her Betrothal may provide an increase in peace. Through Our Lord. Amen. [My own bad translation; I'm overlooking something there but I'm not sure what.]

I wasn't entirely through with Christmas yet. . .

. . .and already it's Septuagesima Sunday, the Church's reminder that there are only 17 days left until Lent begins. With Septuagesima Sunday, "alleluia" is retired from the Liturgy until the Easter Vigil.

The medieval Church had several ceremonies of Farewell to the Alleluia which took place on the eve of Septuagesima. From Dom Gueranger:

The farewell to the Alleluia, in the Middle Ages, varied in the different Churches. Here, it was an affectionate enthusiasm, speaking the beauty of the celestial word; there, it was a heart-felt regret at the departure of the much-loved companion of all their prayers.

We begin with two antiphons, which would seem to be of Roman origin. We find them in the Antiphonarium of Saint Cornelius of Compiegne, published by Dom Denys de Sainte Marthe. They are a farewell to Alleluia made by our Catholic forefathers in the ninth century; they express, too, the hope of its coming back, as soon as the Resurrection of Jesus shall have brightened up the firmament of the Church.

ANT. Angelus Domini bonus comitetur tecum, Alleluia, et bene disponat itineri tuo, ut iterum cum gaudio revertaris ad nos, Alleluia, Alleluia.

ANT. May the good angel of the Lord accompany thee, Alleluia, and give thee a good journey, that thou mayst come back to us in joy, Alleluia.

ANT. Alleluia, mane apud nos hodie, et crastina proficisceris, Alleluia ; et dum ortus fuerit dies, ambulabis vias tuas, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

ANT. Alleluia, abide with us today, and tomorrow thou shalt set forth, Alleluia ; and when the day shall have risen, thou shalt proceed on thy way, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluuia.

From the Gothic Church of Spain, an anthem:

Ibis, Alleluia. Prosperum iter habebis Alleluia; et iterum cum gaudio revertaris ad nos, Alleluia. In manibus enim suis portabunt te: ne unquam offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum. Et iterum cum gaudio revertaris ad nos, Alleluia.

Thou shalt go, Alleluia; thy journey shall be prosperous, Alleluia; and again come back to us with joy, Alleluia. For they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And again come back to us with joy, Alleluia.

Again from Spain, a Benediction:

Alleluia, nomen pium, atque jocundum, dilatetur ad laudem Dei in ora omnium populorum.
R. Amen.

Sit in vocibus credentium clara, quae in angelorum ostenditur concentibus gloriosa.
R. Amen.

Et, quae in aeternis civibus sine sonorum strepitu enitet, in vestris cordibus effectu planiore fructificet.
R. Amen.

Angelus Domini bonus comitetur tecum, Alleluia ; et omnia bona praeparet itineri tuo. Et iterum cum gauio revertaris ad nos. Alleluia.

May Alleluia, that sacred and joyful word, resound to God's praise from the lips of all people.
R. Amen.

May this word, which expresses glory as chanted by the choirs of angels, be sweet as sung by the voices of believers.
R. Amen.

And may that which noiselessly gleams in the citizens of heaven, yield fruit in your hearts by ever growing love.
R. Amen.

May the Lord's good angel go with thee, Alleluia ; and prepare all good things for thy journey. And again come back to us with joy, Alleluia.

And from 13th century France, a vesper hymn from Saturday before Septuagesima:

Alleluia dulce carmen,
Vox perennis gaudii,
Alleluia laus suavis
Est choris coelestibus,
Quam canunt Dei manentes
In domo per saecula.

Alleluia laeta mater
Concivis Jerusalem :
Alleluia vox tuorum
Civium gaudentium :
Exsules nos flere cogunt
Babylonis flumina.

Alleluia non meremur
In perenne psallere ;
Alleluia vo reatus
Cogit intermittere ;
Tempus instat quo peracta
Lugeamus crimina.

Unde laudando precamur
Te beata Trinitas,
Ut tuum nobis videre
Pascha des in aethere,
Quo tibi laeti canamus
Alleluia perpetim.

The sweet Alleluia-song, the
word of endless joy, is the melody
of heaven's choir, chanted by them
that dwell for ever in the house
of God.

O joyful mother, O Jerusalem our
city, Alleluia is the language of thy
happy citizens. The rivers of
Babylon, where we poor exiles live,
force us to weep.

We are unworthy to sing a ceaseless
Alleluia. Our sins bid us interrupt our
Alleluia. They time is at hand when
it behoves us to bewail our crimes.

We, therefore, beseech thee whilst
we praise thee, O blessed Trinity!
that thou grant us to come to that
Easter of heaven, where we shall
sing to thee our joyful everlasting
Alleluia. Amen.

(All the translations from the Latin are by Dom Laurence Shephard, O.S.B. and appear in the volumes of Dom Gueranger's "The Liturgical Year" that he translated.)

The current usage of the traditional rite doesn't have anything so florid or poetic for the beginning of Septuagesima. The best it can do is a double alleluia at the Benedicamus Domino and response at First Vespers of Septuagesima. And the poor old Pauline rite: dear me; don't ask. It doesn't even know Septuagesima has come round again.

The old collect for Septuagesima:

Preces pópuli tui, quæsumus, Dómine, clementer exáudi : ut, qui juste pro peccátis nostris affligimur, pro tui nóminis glória misericorditer liberemur. Per Dóminum. Amen.

O LORD, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The full Mass propers in Latin and English for today can be found here and here as a .pdf text. A more stately version of the English taken from the Anglican Missal can be found here.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Gie us a Haggis!

Last Saturday night I played for a rather early celebration (about 10 days early) of Robert Burns' birthday put on as a combined effort of the San Gabriel Valley and Orange County branches of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (a.k.a. the "RSCDS"). It was an outstanding evening: good food (yes, even the haggis), good company. . . and what music. The dance musicians were Calum MacKinnon and Lisa Scott. They were unbelieveably good. My right foot is still a bit wonky so I only did three dances but their lift and drive made every step easy. If you ever have the chance to dance to their music don't miss it.

Calum made a recording a couple of years ago with Muriel Johnstone which can be ordered from his website here. Highly recommended for any who love traditional Scottish fiddling. (There are clips on the site which can be downloaded for a sample, although I wasn't successful in doing that tonight. Admittedly, I didn't try very hard as I have the cd already.)

ADDENDUM: What do I mean when I say I "played" for a dance but other musicians were the dance musicians? Typically, the piper for a Burns Supper pipes a procession in to the dining room consisting of the haggis bearer(s), a brace of swordsmen guarding the said pudding, the orator who will recite the toast to the haggis, and a maid bearing the dram(s) with which to perfect the toast. And then they're piped out again. I also play for a half hour or so before the evening's festivities. And finally I play for the "Grand March" properly so called which leads the dancers into the assembly room for the dance. This last can be anything for a 3 minute toot to (at least once) a 15 minute ordeal depending upon the circumstances. Last Saturday was closer to the 3 minute stroll. Occasionally an SCD group will have a piper play for "The Reel of the 51st Highland Division" or "The Reel of the Royal Scots" but not this time.

Gunmen Kidnap Catholic Archbishop in Iraq

In Mosul, Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa, 66, of the Syrian Catholic Church, was seized while walking in front of his church, a priest said on condition of anonymity. No group claimed responsibility, but The Vatican (news - web sites) condemned the abduction as a "terrorist act.

From Yahoo News and AP. More here and here.

Charlotte MacLeod

There was a small notice in the back pages of this morning's Press Telegram telling us that Charlotte MacLeod had died. The PT ran the Associated Press obituary that appears here. There haven't been any new books for a few years. And now it's certain that there won't be any more stories of Sarah Kelling, Professor Peter Shandy, or even of The Grub and Stakers.

The obit's short description is correct as far as it goes. It doesn't mention how funny she was. The "cozy" description certainly fits her mysteries. But it doesn't even hint at some of the great comic characters she created: over-blown and even cartoonish at times, but, withal, surprisingly real: the giant Swedish president of Balaclava Agricultural College, Thorkjeld Svenson and his wife, Seiglinde, Cronkite Swope, the demon reporter of The Balaclava County Fane and Pennon, and the mildly hen-pecked Chief of Police, Fred Ottermole, who makes his rounds on his oldest son's bicycle as he can never quite convince the town council to ante up for a new police car. Dickens knew how to do it and so did Charlotte MacLeod. And she was capable of creating real suspense in the same novel, vide the first of the Sarah Kelling novels. The plots might range from the realistic to the surrealistic (if the later is a problem, you might want to skip "The Curse of the Giant Hogweed"). But always great fun.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli, Charlotte.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Divine Mercy Chaplet

In our parish we recite the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet after almost every Mass. There are no meditations specifically assigned to the chaplet as there are to the Rosary. In thinking about the chaplet itself, it seems to me that it is a little paraliturgy of its own, and a highly Eucharistic one at that.

It begins with the a Pater, and Ave, and the Apostles' Creed. Not particularly significant now, but at the time of its composition it would have been immediately recognized by anyone who prayed the Divine Office as the beginning and ending of the daily office. Prior to the breviary reforms of the early 1960s, those three prayers began Matins and ended Compline. (They also began Prime which in the monastic context often began the day's office as Matins and Lauds were prayed at night and a short period of sleep separated them from Prime.)

The final prayers of the chaplet, the "Holy God, Holy and Mighty, etc.", are found in the Good Friday Liturgy both at the time of the chaplet's composition and now, in the old preces at Prime, and in every celebration of the Byzantine Liturgies of St John Chrysostom and St Basil with only a slight adaption, i.e., the words "and on the whole world".

The prayers at the heart of the chaplet seem to me highly Eucharistic. The "Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity" of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the old catechism definition of the Eucharist. The first of the decade prayers, "Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Thy dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world." could serve as a one-sentence summary of the priest's prayer at Mass. And "For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world." the prayer of the people. Looked at Eucharistically, the chaplet also thereby reinforces the doctrine of the Mass as sacrifice.

One more point that occurs to me: how similar the prayers of the chaplet are to the prayer taught by the angel to the children at Fatima: "Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference by which He is offended. And through the infinite merit of His Most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners." It seems to make much the same point as the chaplet prayer. The same diamond but seen through different facets.

Or so it seems to me.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sunday 9 January

In the traditional Roman Rite today is the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The collect prays Lord Jesus Christ, Who in the days of Thy subjection to Mary and Joseph didst hallow the life of the home with virtues beyond all telling, cause us, by the help of them both, to learn from the example of Thy holy family and to share its everlasting bliss: Thou who art God, living and reigning. Amen.

The traditional Roman Rite continues with Epiphanytide for another two weeks until Septuagesima Sunday on 23 January. But in the Pauline rite Christmas and Epiphanytide come to a screeching halt with today's celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Tomorrow "ordinary time" for this year begins.

Were this not a Sunday, it would be the feast of St Andrew Corsini in the Carmelite calendar. Like St Augustine, Andrew spent his early youth following the devices and desires of his own heart and was only brought back to a Godly, righteous and sober life by the prayers of his mother. Apparently he was easier to convince than St Augustine, as he became a Carmelite friar at the age of 15. Eventually he was named bishop of Fiesole. The Catholic Encyclopaedia gives his life here. A meditation by Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II on the life of St Andrew given on the 700th anniversary of his birh can be found here.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

St Peter Thomas, O. Carm., Bishop.

In the revised Carmelite calendar this is the feast of St Peter Thomas, O. Carm. At one time he was listed as both bishop and martyr as it was believed that he died of wounds received by the Mohammedans during the siege of Alexandria. Later research shows this not to be so. A letter from his secretary, Philip of Mezieres, says:

As the feast of Christmas drew near, my father presided in person at the divine services. In the middle of the night which ushered in the feast of he made his way from the Carmelite monastery where he was staying to the cathedral of Famagosta for the solemn celebration of Matins. He celebrated with full solemnity the three Masses of Christmas, but was affected by the cold and caught an infection in the throat, for he was weakened by fasting and vigils and wore only light clothing, following the example of the holy fathers of the desert.

Philip goes on to describe St Peter Thomas' holy death but, although he did preach and participate in a holy crusade, there is no mention of a Saracen wound.

A couple of years ago I recorded a short traditional biography of St Peter Thomas here. There is another much shorter precis of his life here.

The current collect for his feast:

Lord, You inspired in Your bishop St Peter Thomas an intense desire to promote peace and Christian unity. Following his example may we live steadfast in the fatih and work perseveringly for peace. We ask this through our Lord.

The collect from the old traditional liturgy:

Sancti Petri Thomae Martyris tui atque Pontificis, quaesumus, Domine, meritis et intercessione placatus : veniam delictorum nobis tribue; et ab omni pestilentiae morbo nos liberos esse concede. Per Dominum. Amen.

["Be Thou appeased, we beseech Thee, Lord, by the merits and intercession of Thy blessed martyr and bishop Saint Peter Thomas; grant us the pardon of our sins, and preserve us from the evils of pestilence: through our Lord. Amen."]

Friday, January 07, 2005

This Can't Be Said Too Often

From Dappled Things. It's about much more than William Tecumseh Sherman.

Epiphany Update

Well, my family didn't invent it: there is a tradition in Ireland of calling Epiphany "Little Christmas" or "Women's Christmas". (That's the real Epiphany on January 6th whose origin is lost in the mists of time not the USCCB ersatz version appearing on random Sundays. Harrumph.) Bill White of Summa Minutiae kindly referred me here and, lo, there it is in black and white: "Little Christmas" and "Women's Christmas".

And Tom Fitzpatrick of Recta Ratio had a similar inspiration and remembers both terms in a post here. Not only that, but he can find the books in his library and is able to cite Danaher's "The Year in Ireland". (I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't cheat, though, and use some sort of rational filing system. The Inn relies on the "If-I-take-these-three-small-books-and-turn-them-sideways-and-stuff-them-in-this-space-up-here,-there-will-be-room-for-this-larger-one-in-this-space-next-to-hey,-here's-my-copy-of-Barchester-Pilgrimage.'-All-other-books-then-placed-on-floor-or-nearby-table-where-they-will-remain,-possibly-forever,-while-I-spend-the-rest-of-the-afternoon-with-Barchester-Pilgrimage system". This is sometimes called the Serendipity System.)

I should also point out that I mis-wrote. What my wife and in-laws do not recognize is Women's Christmas. Mary is moderately annoyed that I have told the world that she never heard of Little Christmas when that was, in fact, what it was always called in her childhood.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

In festo Ephiphaniae Domini

This has been the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord for most of two thousand years and still is in the traditional Roman Rite. When I was a boy it was known as Little Christmas and Women's Christmas. I was told that these titles were from the Irish tradition but the Irish relatives don't seem to have heard of it. So I don't know where they came from. If I knew where I left it, I'd look it up in Kevin Danaher's The Year in Ireland.

Today's feast is principally known as the day which commemorates the visit of the three magi to the new-born Christ Child. This is the aspect the old Lauds hymn commemorates:

O Sola Magnarum Urbium

How great soe'er earth's cities be,
None, Bethlehem, can equal thee;
Salvation's King from heaven's dread throne,
Was born in flesh in thee alone.

A star, whose fairness and whose light
Exceeds the sun's own radiance bright,
Hath come, to all the lands to tell
That God in flesh on earth doth dwell.

Right soon the Magi see his face,
And eastern gifts before him place,
And bending low, their prayer unfold
With incense myrrh, and royal gold.

The fragrant incense which they bring
Shews him as God; and gold as King;
The bitter spicy dust of myrrh
Foreshadows his new sepulchre.

All glory, Jesu, be to Thee,
For this Thy glad Epiphany;
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Ghost, for evermore. Amen.

The feast is actually a commemoration of three separate events in the life of Our Lord: the visit of the Magi, the Baptism in the Jordan, and the wedding feast at Cana. The Vespers hymn gets them all in, with even an allusion to the blood-thirsty Herod:

Hostis Herodes Impie

Why, impious Herod, vainly fear
That Christ the Saviour cometh here?
He takes not earthly realms away
Who gives the crown that lasts for aye.

To greet His birth the Wise Men went,
Led by the star before them sent;
Called on by light, towards Light they pressed,
And by their gifts their God confessed.

In holy Jordan's purest wave
The heavenly Lamb vouchsafed to lave;
That He to Whom was sin unknown,
Might cleanse His people from their own.

New miracle of Power Divine!
The water reddens into wine;
He spake the word, and poured the wave
In other streams than nature gave.

All glory, Jesu, be to Thee
For this Thy glad Epiphany;
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Ghost, for evermore. Amen.

Another Parish for the Anglican Use

This time in the Diocese of Scranton. The announcement is on the Diocese's website here.

For the first time in the history of the Diocese of Scranton, the Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, D.D., Hist. E.D., Bishop of Scranton, has begun the implementation of a special Vatican process that provides for the acceptance of a married former Scranton Episcopal clergyman and father, who is seeking to become a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.

The process, known as the “Pastoral Provision Decision,” will result in the conversion, priestly formation and potential ordination of Mr. Eric Bergman, a former priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, as a member of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton. He and his wife, Kristina, are the parents of three children, Clara, Eric and Julia, all of whom who will become Catholic.

Mr. Bergman, former pastor of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in the Green Ridge section of Scranton, said he would no longer serve the Episcopal Church USA, a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, because of differences he has with its teaching and practices.

When Mr. Bergman, a Bethlehem native, announced his intention to resign to his former Scranton congregation, he said he learned that a number of members also indicated that they, too, were either leaning toward turning to the Roman Catholic Church, or had decided not to remain Episcopalian. That number now stands at over 30 adults and more than 10 children who plan to convert to the Roman Catholic faith with the former Rev. Bergman.

The Pastoral Provision Decision, rendered in 1980 by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, came in response to a request from the North American Province of the Society of the Holy Cross, a secular institute of Anglican priests, whose married members wished to offer themselves for priestly ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as lay Episcopalians who wished to enter the Catholic Church with a common spiritual and liturgical identity.

In its acceptance of former married Episcopalian clergy as clergy of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pastoral Provision Decision grants a special exception to the Roman Catholic Church’s rule of mandatory priestly celibacy. However, the Decision stressed that this particular exclusion “should not be understood as implying any change in the Church’s conviction of the value of priestly celibacy, which will remain the rule for future candidates for the priesthood from this group.”

“I warmly welcome Mr. Bergman, his family and members of his former lay community on their new faith journey to become Roman Catholic,” said Bishop Martino. “We assure them all of our prayers and complete cooperation as they take the initial steps toward full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in the Diocese of Scranton,” the bishop stated.

Bishop Martino said that the Diocese of Scranton and Mr. Bergman have taken initial steps to begin the conversion/ordination process established through the Pastoral Provision Decision. The steps include preparation and submission of a dossier, or report, containing required documents which will accompany Mr. Bergman’s petition to the Holy See for priesthood and incardination, or service to the Diocese of Scranton. The report will contain Bishop Martino’s statement of willingness to ordain Mr. Bergman -- provided that the Vatican Congregation consents to this action -- along with various records provided by Mr. Bergman, including baptism and marriage, a profession of faith, seminary transcripts and a biography. The dossier will then be forwarded to the Holy See for approval. When the consent, is provided, the candidate then begins a period of theological preparation. A Scranton diocesan priest will be appointed to meet regularly with the petitioner and serve as his formation director. After the petitioner undergoes sacramental preparation and reception, and is in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church for a specified period of time, he may be ordained a transitional deacon, then as a priest.

As of January 1, 2005, Mr. Bergman has resigned as a member of the Episcopal clergy. Effective January 2, Bishop Martino has announced that Mr. Bergman will become Executive Director of the newly-formed St. Thomas More Society of St. Clare’s Church in the Green Ridge section of Scranton. Members of the St. Thomas More Society of St. Clare’s Church will provide for the temporal needs of Mr. Bergman and study with him in preparation to enter the Catholic Church. Mr. Bergman said that membership in the St. Thomas More Society is open to all former Anglicans or Episcopalians.

“The parish community of St. Clare’s offers its hospitality with open arms,” said pastor Monsignor William J. Feldcamp. “We are most happy to provide Mr. Bergman and the St. Thomas More Society of St. Clare’s Church with shelter, a place to conduct worship and religious instruction, and our utmost support in their efforts,” he said. Msgr. Feldcamp is announcing the establishment of the Society at all liturgies at St. Clare’s Church the weekend of January 1 - 2.

Msgr. Feldcamp noted that the St. Thomas More Society of St. Clare’s Church will conduct weekly Sunday Vespers, or Evening Prayer services, while its members begin their period of catechesis, or religious education in the Catholic faith. The service, taken from the Book of Divine Worship, a book of Anglican-style liturgies approved for use by the Holy See, is open to the public. The group has held organizational meetings at the Catholic parish in preparation of the creation of the Society.

To date, the Holy See has permitted the ordination of a number of former Anglican or Episcopal priests who have become Catholic in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain.

Though only just beginning, the new St Thomas More Society has a small website here.

A Prayer for the Anglican Use
O Holy Ghost, the Lord, who gavest the Church the gift of tongues that Christ might be known by peoples of divers nations and customs: watch over the Anglican heritage within thy Church, we pray thee, that, led by thy guidance and strengthened by thy grace, that Use may find such favor in thy sight that its people may increase both in holiness and in number, and so show forth thy glory; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Son, one God, world without end. Amen.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Party for April 13, 2029 is Back On

False alarm. It seems we're not going to be clobbered by an asteroid on that Friday the 13th after all. Astronomers have been able to plot more of the asteroid's orbit and have decided that it isn't a threat after all. The hard hat can go back in the closet. The article is here.