Friday, February 06, 2004

For Friday
" Let us suppose that some aged and venerable person whom we have known as long as we could recollect any thing, and loved and reverenced, suppose such a one, who had often done us kindnesses, who had taught us, who had given us good advice, who had encouraged us, smiled on us, comforted us in trouble, whom we knew to be very good and religious, very holy, full of wisdom, full of heaven, with grey hairs and awful countenance, waiting for Almighty God's summons to leave this world for a better place; suppose, I say, such a one whom we have ourselves known, and whose memory is dear to us, rudely seized by fierce men, stripped naked in public, insulted, driven about here and there, made a laughing-stock, struck, spit on, dressed up in other clothes in ridicule, then severely scourged on the back, then laden with some heavy load till he could carry it no longer, pulled and dragged about, and at last exposed with all his wounds to the gaze of a rude multitude who came and jeered him, what would be our feelings? Let us in our mind think of this person or that, and consider how we should be overwhelmed and pierced through and through by such a hideous occurrence.

But what is all this to the suffering of the holy Jesus, which we bear to read of as a matter of course! Only think of Him, when in His wounded state, and without garment on, He had to creep up the ladder, as He could, which led Him up the cross high enough for His murderers to nail Him to it; and consider Who it was that was in that misery. Or again, view Him dying, hour after hour bleeding to death; and how? in peace? no; with His arms stretched out, and His face exposed to view, and any one who pleased coming and staring at Him, mocking Him, and watching the gradual ebbing of His strength, and the approach of death. These are some of the appalling details which the Gospels contain, and surely they were not recorded for nothing; but that we might dwell on them. "- Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., Parochial and Plain Sermons
Carl Olson
writes good articles. Here are two of them. One is on the inseparability of Our Lord from His Church and the other is on the phenomenon of 'un-church' .
A comment on the second article: the suggestion that a prospective convert make up his own 'church' rather than swim the Tiber is not quite as avant-garde as it may sound. In Venerable John Henry Newman's last, difficult stages of his journey into the Church, his younger brother Francis opined in a letter that joining a body as weak and despised as the Roman Catholic Church in England would be pointless and that his brother would be much better off making up a 'church' himself. The Venerable kept the letter, and wrote upon it the rather exasperated marginal comment, "That I could be contemplating questions of Truth & Falsehood never entered his imagination!" .

The Feast of St. Paul Miki, S.J., and Companions, Marytrs
is today. There is information on St. Paul Miki here and on the rest of these incredible witnesses to Christ here.

"The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ. I thank God it is for this reason that I die. I believe that I am telling the truth before I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you become happy. I obey Christ. After Christ's example, I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as a fruitful rain."- Saint Paul Miki, S.J.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

For Thursday
I think I've quoted this before, but it certainly bears repeating...
"The world cannot believe that Catholics really hold what they profess to hold; and supposes that, if they are educated men, they are kept up to their profession by external influence, by superstitious fear, by pride, by interest, or other bad or unworthy motive. Men of the world have never believed in their whole life, never have had simple faith in things unseen, never have had more than an opinion about them, that they might be true and might be false, but probably were true, or doubtless were true; and in consequence they think an absolute, unhesitating faith in anything unseen to be simply an extravagance, and especially when it is exercised on objects which they do not believe themselves, or even reject with scorn or abhorrence. And hence they prophesy that the Catholic Church must lose, in proportion as men are directed to the sober examination of their own thoughts and feelings, and to the separation of what is real and true from what is a matter of words and pretence. They cannot understand how our faith in the Blessed Sacrament is a genuine, living portion of our minds; they think it a mere profession which we embrace with no inward assent, but only because we are told that we should be lost unless we profess it; or because, the Catholic Church having in dark ages committed herself to it, we cannot help ourselves, though we would if we could, and therefore receive it by constraint, from a sense of duty towards our cause, or in a spirit of party. They will not believe that we would not gladly get rid of the doctrine of transubstantiation, as a heavy stone about our necks, if we could. What shocking words to use! It would be wrong to use them, were they not necessary to make you understand, my brethren, the privilege which you have, and the world has not. Shocking indeed and most profane! a relief to rid ourselves of the doctrine that Jesus is on our Altars! as well say a relief to rid ourselves of the belief that Jesus is God, to rid ourselves of the belief that there is a God. Yes, that I suppose is the true relief, to believe nothing at all, or, at least, not to be bound to believe anything; to believe first one thing, then another; to believe what we please for as long as we please; that is, not really to believe, but to have an opinion about everything, and let nothing sit close upon us, to commit ourselves to nothing, to keep the unseen world altogether at a distance. But if we are to believe anything at all, if we are to make any one heavenly doctrine our own, if we are to take some dogmas as true, why, in that case, it should be a burden to believe what is so gracious and what so concerns us, rather than what is less intimate and less winning,-why we must not believe that God is among us, if God there is, why we may not believe that God dwells on our Altars as well as that He dwells in the sky, certainly is not so self-evident, but that we have a claim to ask the reasons for it of those, who profess to be so rational and so natural in their determinations. O my brethren, how narrow-minded is this world at bottom after all, in spite of its pretences and in spite of appearances! Here you see, it cannot by a stretch of imagination conceive that anything exists, of which it has not cognisance in its own heart; it will not admit into its imagination the mere idea that we have faith, because it does not know what faith is from experience, and it will not admit that there is anything in the mind of man which it does not experience itself, for that would be all one with admitting after all that there is such a thing as a mystery. It must know, it must be the measure of all things; and so in self-defence it considers us hypocritical, as professing what we cannot believe, lest it should be forced to confess itself blind. 'Behold what manner of love the Father had bestowed on us, that we should be named, and should be, the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knoweth not Him!' "- Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O. Discourses to Mixed Congregations
Mark Shea
has a new article on the Professor here.
Nice !
The Benedictine nuns over at St. Emma Monastery have added a copy of their Christmas 2003 newsletter to their website, including a photo section. ( Direct links not working- click on "Newletters", then "Christmas 2003" for the letter. The link to the photo section is at the bottom of the newsletter.)
If you do go to the photo section, my friend Angela, now Sr. Angela, is in the first picture. She's the novice on the far left of the third row up.

Now how backwards is this ?
Girl suspended for saying h-e-double-hockey-sticks

From all indications, nothing at all happened to the classmate who started the whole thing by taking the Lord's name in vain. Yet the poor little girl who was merely trying to warn a friend of the peril to his salvation gets in trouble. That this is, in my case, a piece of local stupidity makes it all the more worrisome. ("I'm living near people who are this clueless? ARRGH !" )
The Feast of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr
is today. There is information on her here.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

From A Letter Addressed to the Duke of Norfolk on Occasion of Mr. Gladstone's Recent Expostulation
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.
"Our Divine Master might have communicated to us heavenly truths without telling us that they came from Him, as it is commonly thought He has done in the case of heathen nations; but He willed the Gospel to be a revelation acknowledged and authenticated, to be public, fixed, and permanent; and accordingly, as Catholics hold, He framed a Society of men to be its home, its instrument, and its guarantee. The rulers of that Association are the legal trustees, so to say, of the sacred truths which He spoke to the Apostles by word of mouth. As He was leaving them, He gave them their great commission, and bade them 'teach' their converts all over the earth, 'to observe all things whatever He had commanded them;' and then He added, 'Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.'

Here, first, He told them to 'teach' His revealed Truth; next, 'to the consummation of all things;' thirdly, for their encouragement, He said that He would be with them 'all days,' all along, on every emergency or occasion, until that consummation. They had a duty put upon them of teaching their Master's words, a duty which they could not fulfil in the perfection which fidelity required, without His help; therefore came His promise to be with them in their performance of it. Nor did that promise of supernatural help end with the Apostles personally, for He adds, 'to the consummation of the world,' implying that the Apostles would have successors, and engaging that He would be with those successors as He had been with them.

The same safeguard of the Revelation?viz. an authoritative, permanent tradition of teaching, is insisted on by an informant of equal authority with St. Matthew, but altogether independent of him, I mean St. Paul. He calls the Church 'the pillar and ground of the Truth;' and he bids his convert Timothy, when he had become a ruler in that Church, to 'take heed unto his doctrine,' to 'keep the deposit' of the faith, and to 'commit' the things which he had heard from himself 'to faithful men who should be fit to teach others.'

This is how Catholics understand the Scripture record, nor does it appear how it can otherwise be understood; but, when we have got as far as this, and look back, we find that we have by implication made profession of a further doctrine. For, if the Church, initiated in the Apostles and continued in their successors, has been set up for the direct object of protecting, preserving, and declaring the Revelation, and that, by means of the Guardianship and Providence of its Divine Author, we are led on to perceive that, in asserting this, we are in other words asserting, that, so far as the message entrusted to it is concerned, the Church is infallible; for what is meant by infallibility in teaching but that the teacher in his teaching is secured from error? and how can fallible man be thus secured except by a supernatural infallible guidance? And what can have been the object of the words, 'I am with you all along to the end,' but to give thereby an answer by anticipation to the spontaneous, silent alarm of the feeble company of fishermen and labourers, to whom they were addressed, on their finding themselves laden with superhuman duties and responsibilities? "

The Feast of St. Maria de Mattias, A.S.C , Virgin and Foundress
is today. There is information on her here.. To all those who are are members of her religious family, particulary a certain blogger, happy feast day !
It is also the feast of Blessed John Speed, an Englishman who was martyred for protecting priests during the horrors of the Elizabethan persecution. Michelle over at And Then ? found a moving poem dealing with this subject.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Three important things happened on this date..
Important to me, anyway.
On February 2, 1848, the Birmingham Oratory was officially founded. Prayers for vocations to that particular House, and for the canonization of their founder and first Provost would be most welcome.
On February 2, 1979, a young man by the name of Drew Morgan moved into the Pittsburgh Oratory. Happy anniversary, Fr. Drew ! I pray that your next 25 years at the Oratory are even more blessed than the first 25 !
Finally, Gerard Serafin reminds us that on February 2, 1594, the great musician Giovanni Pierlugi da Palestrina went to his reward. Besides being, IMHO, one of the finest composers ever, he was very much a friend to the early Oratorians and often wrote music for the Oratory's gatherings. Our founder, St. Philip Neri , though elderly and ailing himself, rushed to Palestrina's bedside to give him the Last Sacraments.

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
is today. There is information on it here., Last year on this date, I posted a verse by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O. dealing with this feast.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Again, just because
" This is the love which you, my brethren, must have in your measure, if you would have a good hope of salvation. For you were once sinners; either by open and avowed contempt of religion, or by secret transgression, or by carelessness and coldness, or by some indulged bad habit, or by setting your heart on some object of this world, and doing your own will instead of God's, I think I may say you have needed, or now need, a reconciliation to Him. You have needed, or you need, to be brought near to Him, and to have your sins washed away in His blood, and your pardon recorded in Heaven. And what will do this for you, but contrition? and what is contrition without love? I do not say that you must have the love which Saints have, in order to your forgiveness, the love of St. Peter or of St. Mary Magdalen; but still without your portion of that same heavenly grace, how can you be forgiven at all? If you would do works meet for penance, they must proceed from a living flame of charity. If you would secure perseverance to the end, you must gain it by continual loving prayer to the Author and Finisher of faith and obedience. If you would have a good prospect of His acceptance of you in your last moments, still it is love alone which secures His love, and blots out sin. My brethren, at that awful hour you may be unable to obtain the last Sacraments; death may come on you suddenly, or you may be at a distance from a Priest. You may be thrown on yourselves, simply on your own compunction of heart, your own repentance, your own resolutions of amendment. You may have been weeks and weeks at a distance from spiritual aid; you may have to meet your God without the safeguard, the compensation, the mediation of any holy rite; and oh! what will save you at such disadvantage, but the exercise of divine love 'poured over your hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to you' ? At that hour nothing but a firm habit of charity, which has kept you from mortal sins, or a powerful act of charity which blots them out, will be of any avail to you. Nothing but charity can enable you to live well or to die well. How can you bear to lie down at night, how can you bear to go a journey, how can you bear the presence of pestilence, or the attack of ever so slight an indisposition, if you are ill provided in yourselves with divine love against that change, which will come on you some day, yet when and how you know not? Alas! how will you present yourselves before the judgment-seat of Christ, with the imperfect mixed feelings which now satisfy you, with a certain amount of faith, and trust, and fear of God's judgments, but with nothing of that real delight in Him, in His attributes, in His will, in His commandments, in His service, which Saints possess in such fulness, and which alone can give the soul a comfortable title to the merits of His death and passion?

How different is the feeling with which the loving soul, on its separation from the body, approaches the judgment-seat of its Redeemer! It knows how great a debt of punishment remains upon it, though it has for many years been reconciled to Him; it knows that purgatory lies before it, and that the best it can reasonably hope for is to be sent there. But to see His face, though for a moment! to hear His voice, to hear Him speak, though it be to punish! O Saviour of men, it says, I come to Thee, though it be in order to be at once remanded from Thee; I come to Thee who art my Life and my All; I come to Thee on the thought of whom I have lived all my life long. To Thee I gave myself when first I had to take a part in the world; I sought Thee for my chief good early, for early didst Thou teach me, that good elsewhere there was none. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? whom have I desired on earth, whom have I had on earth, but Thee? whom shall I have amid the sharp flame but Thee? Yea, though I be now descending thither, into 'a land desert, pathless and without water,' I will fear no ill, for Thou art with me. I have seen Thee this day face to face, and it sufficeth; I have seen Thee, and that glance of Thine is sufficient for a century of sorrow, in the nether prison. I will live on that look of Thine, though I see Thee not, till I see Thee again, never to part from Thee. That eye of Thine shall be sunshine and comfort to my weary, longing soul; that voice of Thine shall be everlasting music in my ears. Nothing can harm me, nothing shall discompose me: I will bear the appointed years, till the end comes, bravely and sweetly. I will raise my voice, and chant a perpetual Confiteor to Thee and to Thy Saints in that dreary valley;—'to God Omnipotent, and to the Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin,' (Thy Mother and mine, immaculate in her conception), 'and to blessed Michael Archangel,' (created in his purity by the very hand of God), and 'to Blessed John Baptist,' (sanctified even in his mother's womb); and after these three, 'to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul,' (penitents, who compassionate the sinner from their experience of sin); 'to all Saints,' (whether they have lived in contemplation or in toil, during the days of their pilgrimage), to all Saints will I address my supplication, that they may 'remember me, since it is well with them, and do mercy by me, and make mention of me unto the King that He bring me out of prison'. And then at length 'God shall wipe away every tear from my eyes, and death shall be no longer, nor mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things are passed away' " - Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O. , Discourses to Mixed Congregations
Music at the 11:30 am Mass
Processional Hymn: "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"
Offertory: "I Sought the Lord"- J.H. Moyer (1927- )
Recessional Hymn: "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken"