Archive for March, 2010

Logos [3-28-10]

March 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The Priest incenses the Bread and Wine in such a way, that its odour may perfume, and wholly cloud in fragrance the Things offered; while so doing, he says these words: Incesum istud a te benedictum, ascendat ad te Domine, et descendat super nos misericordia tua.  May this Incese, blessed by Thee, ascend to Thee, O Lord, and may They Mercy descend upon us.  This Prayer, whilst being a homage paid to God, is a wish expressed for ourselves also.  The Priest divides these words, at intervals, whilst incensing the several parts to be thus honoured, in performing which ceremony, he follows what the rubrics prescribe.  When he first incensed the Altar, the Priest said no Prayer; but now, when thus honouring it a second time, Holy Church bids him repeat a portion of Psalm cxl., which she selects, chiefly on account of these words which occur therein, and which are the first she puts on the lips of the Priest: Dirigantur, Domine, oratio mea sicut inceunsum in conspectu tuo.  May my prayer, O Lord, ascend as incense in Thy sight.  It is thus she always does, ever selecting with wonderful appropriateness whatsoever suits the circumstance, whether in Psalms, or in Gospels and Epistle.s  The Priest begins by incensing the Cross, or the Most Holy Sacrament if exposed; he then bows before the Cross, or genuflects, if the Most Holy Sacrament is reserved in the Tabernacle of that Altar; then, if there be relics there exposed, he incenses them with two throws of the Thurible, first on the Gospel side, then on the Epistle side; after which he incenses every part of the Altar.  In all other respects, this incensing differs in no way from the first, nor from that which is performed at Lauds and Vespers.

On returning the Thurible to the Deacon, the Priest gives expression to a good wish in his regard as well as in his own, saying: Accendat in nobis Dominus ignem sui amoris et flammam aeternae charitatis. May the Lord enkindle in us the fire of His Love and the flame of everlasting charity.  On taking the Thurible, the Deacon kisses the Priests’s hand, and then the top of the chains; he does the contrary, on presenting it.  These customs have come to us from the East, and, inasmuch as they are marks of reverence and respect, it is to the Liturgy we owe the preservation of them.  The Deacon then honours the Priest with incense, who receives it standing sideways to the Altar; but if the Most Holy Sacrament be exposed, as, for instance, at the Mass of Reposition, the Priest comes down from the Altar, and with his face turned to the people, he receives the said honours from the Deacon, who likewise suits his position to the occasion.  Then follows the incensing of the Choir, beginning with the Bishop, if present; next the Prelates, if there; then the Priests and Clerics; and finally, all of the Faithful, to show that all form but one Body, of which Jesus Christ is the Head.  All, whether Bishops, Prelates, or simple Faithful, should rise on receiving the incense; the Pope alone remains seated for its reception.

[From The Holy Mass, by Dom Prosper Gueranger]

Categories: Daily Logos

Logos [3-26-10]

March 26, 2010 3 comments

Thoroughly worldly people never understand even the world; they rely altogether on a few cynical maxims which are not true.  Once I remember walking with a prosperous publisher, who made a remark which I had often heard before; it is, indeed, almost a motto of the modern world.  Yet I had heard it once too often, and I saw suddenly that there was nothing in it.  The publisher said of somebody, “That man will get on; he believes in himself.”  And I remember that as I lifted my head to listen, my eye caught an omnibus on which was written “Hanwell.” [an asylum]  I said to him, “Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves?  For I can tell you.  I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar.  I know where flames the fixed of certainty and success.  I can guide you to the thrones of the Supermen.  The men who really believe in themselves are all in  lunatic asylums.”  He said mildly that there were a good many men after all who believed in themselves and who were not in lunatic asylums.  “Yes, there are,” I retorted, “and you of all men ought to know them  That drunken poet from whom you would not take a dreary tragedy, he believed in himself.  That elderly minister with an epic from whom you were hiding in a back room, he believed in himself.  If you consulted your business experienced instead of your ugly individualistic philosophy, you would know that believing himself is one of the commonest signs of a rotter.  Actors who can’t act believe in themselves; and debtors who won’t pay.  It would be much truer to say that a man will certainly fail, because he believes in himself.  Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness. Believing utterly in one’s self is a hysterical and superstitious belief like believing in Joanna Southcote [an English “religious visionary”]: the man who has it has ‘Hanwell’ written on his face as plan as it is written on that omnibus.”  And to all this my friend the publisher made this very deep and effective reply, “Well, if a man is not to believe in himself, in what is he to believe?”  After a long pause I replied, “I will go home and write a book in answer to that question.”  This is the book that I have written in answer to it.

[From Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton]

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Logos [3-23-10]

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Woman restores the physical image, but it is the spiritual image that must be restored, both for man and woman.  This can be done by the Eternal Feminine: the Woman who is blessed above all women.  Through the centuries woman has been saying: “My Hour is not yet come,” but now, “The Hour is come.”  Mankind will find its way back again to God through the Woman who will gather up and restore the broken fragments of the image.  This she will do in three ways.

By restoring constancy in love.  Love today is fickle, although it was meant to be permanent.  Love has only two words in its vocabulary: “You” and “Always.”  “You,” because love is unique.  “Always,” because love is enduring.  Love never says, “I will love you for two years and six days.”  Divorce is inconstancy, infidelity, temporality, the very fragmentation of the heart.  But how shall constancy return except through a woman?  A woman’s love is less egotistic, less ephemeral than a man’s.  Man has to struggle to be monogamous; a woman takes this for granted.  Because every woman promises only what God can give, man is prone to seek the Infinite in a multiplication of the finite.  The woman, on the contrary, is more devoted and faithful to the one she loves on human terms.  But modern woman too often fails to give an example of this constancy; she either lets her love degenerate into a jealous possessiveness, or she learns infidelity from law courts and psychiatrists.  There is need of The Woman, whose love was so constant that the Fiat to physical union with love in the Annunciation became celestial union with it in the Assumption.  The Woman, who leads all souls to Christ, and who attracts only to “betray” them to her Divine Son, will teach lovers that “What God hath joined together let no man put asunder.”

By restoring respect for personality.  Man generally speaks of things: woman generally speaks of persons.  Since man is made to control nature and to rule over it, his principal concern is with some thing.  Woman is closer to life, and its prolongation; her life centers more on personality.  Even when falling from feminine heights, her gossip is about people.  Since the whole present political and economic world is gauged to the destruction of personality, God in His Mercy is trumpeting once more to The Woman to “make a man,” to remake personality.  The twentieth-century resurgence of devotion to Mary is God’s way of pulling the world away from the primacy of the economic to the primacy of the human, from the things to life and machines to men.  The praise of the woman in the crowd who heard Our Lord preaching and exclaimed: “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the breasts that nursed Thee” (Luke 11:27), was typically feminine.  And the answer of Our Lord was equally significant: “Yea! Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:28)  This, then, is what devotion to Mary does in this troubled hour: it restores personality by inspiring it to keep the Word of God.

By infusing the virtue of Purity into souls. A man teaches a woman pleasure; a woman teaches a man continence.  Man is the raging torrent of the cascading river; woman is the bank which keeps it within limits.  Pleasure is the bait God uses to induce creatures to fulfill their heavenly infused instincts–pleasure in eating, fro the sake of the preservation of the individual–pleasure in mating, fro the sake of the preservation of the species.  But God puts a limit to each to prevent the riotous overflow.  One is satiety, which comes from nature itself and limits the pleasure of eating; the other is the woman who rarely confuses the pleasure of mating with the sanctity of marriage.  During the weakness of human nature, the liberty of man can degenrate into license, infidelity, and promiscuity–as the love of woman can decay into tyranny, possessiveness, and insane jealousy.

Since the abandonment of the Christian concept of marriage, both man and woman have forgotten their mission.  Purity has become identified with repression, instead of being seen as it really is–the reverence for preserving a mystery of creativeness until God sanctions the use of that power.  While man is outgoing in his pleasure, womanly purity keeps hers inward, channeled or even self-possessed, as if a great secret had to be hugged to the heart.  There is no conflict between purity and carnal pleasure in blessed unions, for desire, pleasure, and purity each has its place.

Since woman today has failed to restrain man, we must look to the Woman to restore purity.  The Church proclaims two dogmas of purity for the Woman: one, the purity of soul in the Immaculate Conception, the other, the purity of body in the Assumption.  Purity is not glorified as ignorance; for when the Virgin Birth was announced to Mary, she said, “I know not man.”  This meant not only that she was untaught by pleasures; it also implied that she had so brought her soul to focus on inwardness that she was a Virgin, not only through the absence of man, but through the Presence of God.  No greater inspiration to purity has the world ever known than The Woman, whose own life was so pure that God chose her as His Mother.    But she also understands human frailty and so is prepared to life souls out of the mire into peace, as at the Cross she chose as her companion the converted sinner Magdalene.  Through all the centuries, to those who marry to be loved, Mary teaches that they should marry to love.  To the unwed, she bids them all keep the secret of purity until an Annunciation, when God will send them a partner; to those who, in carnal love, allow the body to swallow the soul, she bids that the soul envelop the body.  To the twentieth century, with its Freud and sex, she bids man to be made again to the God-like image through herself as The Woman while she, in turn, with “traitorous trueness and loyal deceits” betrays us to Christ–Who in His turn delivers us to the Father, that God may be all in all.

[From The World’s First Love, by the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen]

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Logos [3-9-2010]

March 9, 2010 Leave a comment

“All that which, in the history of philosophy, can be traced back to non-philosophical causes is itself irrelevant to philosophy as such.” Because this judgment of an eminent historian is true, the historian of philosophy must needs be a philosopher in order to be a faithful historian, and the philosopher must needs scan the record of history for philosophical lessons which are as permanent as is the philosophy which he professes.  It is inevitable, therefore, that the philosophical continuity between the history of philosophy and philosophy itself should be an increasingly important meeting-ground between the philosopher and the historian.  It is equally inevitable that those who are not only disciples of scholasticism as a philosophy but also students of its history during the Middle Ages should confront these two experiences with one another and seek in history itself some understanding of the meaning of scholasticism as a philosophy.  This is particularly true in our day when the traditional notion of a universal medieval scholastic synthesis is being replaced by the notion that there were several and mutually irreducible such syntheses; though it may still be true that even in their irreducibilities some of these syntheses betray the influence of common causes.

Such a state of affairs is bound to raise the question as to the unity, the truth and meaning of scholasticism.  What sort of unity has it as a philosophy if it is the heir of rival and conflicting syntheses?  And since this question is raised under the supposition of a philosophical continuity between medieval and modern scholasticism, nothing less than the very significance and coherence of scholasticism is at stake.  More than this, since medieval philosophy ended in exhaustion and decline by the middle of the fourteenth century, and since with Professor Gilson we are driven to seek philosophical causes for this decline, the philosophical continuity between medieval philosophy and present-day scholasticism raises the further question of the philosophical health and purity of the heir of a movement which ended in failure.  So long as Ockhamism remains a strange and distant phenomenon, somehow outside the pale of the golden successes of the thirteenth century, questions of meaning, of unity and of truth within scholasticism might not appear with all the acuity that they really possess.  But just as soon as there are any reasons for thinking that the thirteenth century laid the foundation for th fourteenth, then the present-day scholastic cannot scan his medieval predecessors too closely or too critically.

[From “The Dilemma of Being and Unity” by Anton C. Pegis]

Categories: General

Logos [3-6-2010]

March 6, 2010 Leave a comment

It is right even if it is not quite proper to observe at the beginning of a discourse on Dante, that no writer has held in mind at one time the whole of The Divine Comedy: not even Dante, perhaps least of all Dante himself.  If Dante and his Dantisti have not been equal to the view of the whole, a view shorter than theirs must be expected of the amateur who, as a writer of verses, vainly seeks absolution from the mortal sin of using poets for what he can get out of them.  I expect to look at a single image in the Paradiso, and to glance at some of its configurations with other images.  I mean the imagery of light, but I mean chiefly its reflections.  It was scarcely necessary for Dante to have read, though he did read, the De Anima, to learn that sigh tis the king of the senses and that the human body, which like other organisms lives by touch, may be made actual in language only through the imitation of sight.  And sight in language is imitated not by means of “description”-ut pictura poesis-but by doubling the image: our confidence in its spatial reality is won quite simply by casting the image upon a glass, or otherwise by the insinuation of space between.

[From “The Symbolic Imagination,” by Allen Tate]

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Logos [3-2-2010]

March 2, 2010 Leave a comment

The Rubrics in General

1.  The rubrics are the rules (laws, directions, suggestions) which are contained in the liturgical books for the right ordering of liturgical functions.  For the most part, if not entirely, the rubrics are positive ecclesiastical laws, and so (a) they bind under pain of mortal or venial sin, according to the gravity of the matter with which they are concerned; (b) apart from such considerations as the giving of scandal, contempt for the law, and the like, a sufficient and proportionately grave cause excuses from the observance of an (accidental) rubric.

2.  The rubrics of the Missal comprise (a) the General Rubrics (new Code of July 26, 1960), (b) the rite of the actual celebration of Mass, (c) the defects that may occur in its celebration, (d) the special rubrics scattered throughout the Missal intercalated in the text of the actual formularies of the Mass, and especially in the Ordo and Canon (where they form a synopsis of the rubrics of the Ritus).  It is these special rubrics that are, ordinarily, printed in red (ruber), so that they may easily be distinguished from the prayers and reading.

3.  The rubrics of the liturgical books are classified as:
a) Substantial and accidental, the former being those that prescribe the matter or form of a sacrament (e.g., the imposition of hands in Confirmation, or at the ordination of a priest), or regulate the validity of a liturgical act (e.g., the anointing at the consecration of an altar or of a chalice); the latter are rubrics which do not concern the validity of a liturgical act, but regulate the rite in which it is enshrined.  Substantial rubrics are based on divine law and, for the sacraments and Mass, are immutable; the accidental rubrics are purely ecclesiastical laws, and may be changed or dispensed from, but only by the Holy See.
b) Preceptive, directed, facultative.
Preceptive rubrics are those which bind in conscience and are real laws; directive rubrics are those that do not per se bind in conscience, but set forth–by way of counsel or direction–the approved way of carrying out a liturgical act; facultative rubrics are those which permit of a choice between two courses, or between doing or omitting something, or which allow liberty to follow existing usage.

4.  Obviously, substantial rubrics are binding in conscience, sub gravi, while facultative rubrics do not bind at all in conscience.  The question that has been hotly disputed by theologians and rubricians, since the end of the sixteenth century, is whether accidental rubrics are all preceptive or not.

The Obligation of Accidental Rubrics

5. While some rubricians and moral theologians hold that not all accidental rubrics are preceptive, that some are directly only, the better opinion seems to be that all such rubrics are preceptive, except, obviously, when they are facultative.  All rubrics are ecclesiastical laws, and laws do not direct, they prescribe, forbid, or permit.  And so accidental rubrics bind in conscience, but like all laws the extent of the binding force of any particular rubric and the obligation of obedience to it depend on the nature of the law which the rubric embodies, and such other considerations as govern the observance of any ecclesiastical law.  And as laws, rubrics are subject to the general canon law on custom as set forth in Canons 25 to 30 of the Code of Canon Law.


6. Whether each single rubric (except the facultative ones) binds in conscience or not is, then, an open question.  What all theologians and rubricians are one in believing and teaching is that Sancta sancte tractanda sunt–that the object of every rubric is to aid the priest in performing as perfectly as possible those sublime acts of worship whose end is to honour God worthily and edify men.  It is the spirit of the rubrics, in the long run, rather than the letter of them, that is important.  With reverence and love towards God, out of obedience and loyalty to his Church, should they, each and all, be fulfilled.

[From The Celebration of Mass, A Study of the Rubrics of the Roman Missal, by Rev. J.B. O’Connell]

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Logos [3-1-2010]

March 1, 2010 Leave a comment

“The history of Christianity is the history of a divine intervention in history, and we cannot study it apart from the history of culture in the widest sense of the word.  For the word of God was first revealed to the people of Israel and became embodied in a law and a society.  Secondly, the word of God became Incarnate in a particular person at a particular moment of history, and thirdly, this process of human redemption was carried on in the life of the Church which was the new Israel–the universal community which was the bearer of divine revelation and the organ by which man participated in the new life of the Incarnate Word.

“Thus Christianity has entered into the stream of human history and the process of human culture.  It has become culturally creative, for it has changed human life and there is nothing in human thought and action which has not been subjected to itse influence, while at the same time it has suffered from the limitations and vicissitudes that are inseparable from temporal existence.

“Now there are those who reject this mingling of religion and history, or Christianity and culture, since they believe that religion is concerned with God rather than man, and with the absolute and eternal rather than the historical and the transitory.  We certainly need to recognize how important this aspect of religion is and how man has a natural sense of divine transcendence.  And we know from the history of religious thought that we do actually find religious men of this kind–men who seek to transcend human nature by the flight of the Alone to the Alone, in the words of the Neo-Platonist philosopher, and who find the essence of religion in the contemplation of pure being or of that which is beyond being.

“But this is not Christianity.  Although Christianity does not deny the religious value of contemplation or mystical experience, its essential nature is different.  It is a religion of Revelation, Incarnation, and Communion; a religion which unites the human and the divine and sees in history the manifestation of the divine purpose towards the human race.”
-Christopher Dawson, The Formation of Christendom

Categories: Daily Logos