Sunday, 31 October 2010
Why do some people think it's ''effeminate'' for men to like clothes so much? Some people relieve stress by walking (works for me sometimes), some by getting massages - I go shopping. As for owning too much, I think there is something very Christian about owning things - about being at once aware, and appreciative, of what one has and aware of those who have not. I work for my money (and my God don't I put up with some crap at work for my money), and therefore for my things, so I appreciate my things that much more. I hate spoiled children though - you know the sort who say ''mum jump for me'', and mum says, ''how high?'' - it annoys me, for instance, when I spend £65 (a day's wages for me) on a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt (I utterly agreed with a friend of mine who once said that polo shirts are the most civilised form of clothing) only for a boy half my years to turn up the very next week wearing one, just because he wanted one too. Three of my younger cousins are like that.
I am rambling now. Payday is Friday, and I aim to have spent about half of it by Saturday. I want Yves Saint Laurent, (don't think I can stretch Prada - the last time I was at Westfield they had a lovely burgundy colour shirt but I'd spent all my money in other shops; I should have gone in the Prada shop first), Ralph Lauren, Lacoste...whatever. Quite apart from the joy of shopping it's nice to have something to show for the hours of toil I've spent in my dead end job...
Saturday, 30 October 2010
Friday, 29 October 2010
Memory, understood as something wholly poignant, and a concept quite different to the Eldar as it is to Men (since, as Gimli said, to the Elves it is more like unto waking life) is one of the central themes in Tolkien; often it manifests as the memory of fair things lost indefinitely, and is therefore a grief, and since he writes chiefly of the Elves, it is a constant motif. Memory ties in significantly with Tolkien's ideas about the second ''fall'' (or error) of the Exiled Elves, the Gnomes of Beleriand. At the end of the First Age, the Eldar of Beleriand were counselled by Eönwë to return into the West to receive the pardon (or in some cases, the judgement) of the Valar. Many hearkened to the summons and left the grey shores of the Hither Lands, but some, and many of the greatest and noblest of the Eldar, (eg: Galadriel and Elrond) decided to remain in Middle-earth, and these went eastwards into Eriador where they founded kingdoms - Eregion, nigh to the great Dwarrowdelf of the Dwarves, and at Lindon, where there were still havens. In Eregion, the Elves struck up a friendship with the Dwarves of the Misty Mountains, such as there had never been before, to the profit of both their realms.
On a time, there appeared in Eregion a certain sage of wise and fair countenance, calling himself Annatar, Lord of Gifts, and he posed as an emissary of the Valar, sent to heal the desolate lands. He became the friend and counsellor of Celebrimbor, son of Curufin, the greatest craftsman of his age, and Celebrimbor respected Annatar, for his knowledge and subtlety were great, and together with his small band of followers, the Gwaith-i-Mírdain (The People of the Jewel-Smiths), under the tutelage of Annatar, they wrought the Rings of Power. ''Annatar'' was, of course, Sauron the Deceiver.
The chief power of the Great Rings was not, as the film trilogy makes out, for the purposes of government - it was, in fact, the prevention or slowing of decay, or change viewed as something unfortunate but inevitable, the preservation of beautiful things, things beloved or desired, or at least the semblance of all these things. The most potent of these things were the Three, unbeknown to Sauron, and these Three were never touched by him. But Sauron wrought in secret the One Ring in Orodruin, and with this Ring he could see the thoughts and govern the actions of those who wore the lesser Rings (even the Three), and would eventually utterly enslave them. But when Sauron assumed the One Ring, and spoke the famous leit-motif ''One Ring to rule them all,'' etc, the Elves were immediately aware of him, and in wrath and great fear they removed the Rings, and hid them. Sauron then made war on the Elves, Eregion was destroyed, and the West-doors of Moria were shut. He seized the Great Rings (all except the Three, which were hidden) and gave them to those who would accept them, for reasons of greed or ambition.
As I have said, the Elves desired only the memory of ancient bliss to be made a reality in Middle-earth - which is, I suppose, where the source of their error lay. They wanted the perfection of the West, but in Middle-earth, where they were comfortably above the other uncouth inhabitants (the wild Men and the Dwarves - the Men of Númenor came seldom to Middle-earth in those days). Therefore, the Elves became obsessed with ''fading'', and they were sad. Their art, therefore, became also sad. When Sauron posed as Annatar, he feigned sympathy with this ideal, for it suited his purposes, and therein he sought to twist it, and proposed to them that with his aid, they might endeavour to make Middle-earth a separate paradise, against the Valar. Sure enough, when Sauron was vanquished at the end of the Second Age, his control over the Great Rings was lost, and the Three (while never openly declared) were released, free to act according to their initial design.
Interestingly, there are two important aspects of the ''memory'' of the Eldar depicted in The Lord of the Rings. The one is in the House of Elrond (or perhaps even in the person of Elrond Halfelven himself), a place where Tradition (songs, tales, customs, ancestral ritual) is preserved in reverent memory. The House of Elrond is a place of reflection, a veritable mirror or seeing-glass into the history of Arda. The other place is Lothlórien, where the history of Arda seemed to be alive and not just seen as a remote picture in the mind, just as real as the trees and grass. The Hobbits, Frodo and Sam, stood in wonder at it:
''The others cast themselves down upon the fragrant grass, but Frodo stood awhile still lost in wonder. It seemed to him that he had stepped through a high window that looked on a vanished world. A light was upon it for which his language had no name. All that he saw was shapely, but the shapes seemed at once clear cut, as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering of his eyes, and ancient as if they had endured for ever. He saw no colour but those he knew, gold and white and blue and green, but they were fresh and poignant, as if he had at that moment first perceived them and made for them names new and wonderful. In winter here no heart could mourn for summer or for spring. No blemish or sickness or deformity could be seen in anything that grew upon the earth. On the land of Lórien there was no stain.'' (The Lord of the Rings, Book II, Chapter VI, Lothlórien).
When Sam described his own sentiments, that it was like ''being inside a song'' as it were, Haldir knew immediately what he meant. Sam discerned, of course, the power of Nenya, the Ring of Adamant (one of the Three), which preserved the land of Lothlórien against the menace of Dol Guldur. All outside was dark. But, all the beauty and the memory of good depended upon the Quest of Mount Doom. Galadriel told Frodo that he was not responsible for the fate of Lothlórien, but only for the completion of his task (which encompassed the fate of all realms where the memory of good things was kept in reverence, such as in Gondor (although in the case of Gondor, things are more complex, and arguably, as Faramir says, they had less lore and had become more like the Men of Rohan)). But, since the beauty of Lothlórien was preserved with the power of Nenya, what would happen to that beauty if the One Ring were in fact destroyed? Some had argued at the Council of Elrond that the Three would be eternally released, and that the Elves would be free to heal the hurts of the world, and to preserve in a vivid tradition the memory of ancient days. But, as Elrond himself believed, wise in all lore, the other proved the more likely - and indeed befell. The One Ring was indeed destroyed, but the powers of the Three were not enhanced or set free, but were made impotent. ''For our spring,'' said Galadriel, ''and our summer are gone by, and they will never be seen on earth again save in memory.''
I shall conclude this odd post with a beautiful, but sadly seldom read, passage in Tolkien, from Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings, the Death-bed of Aragorn; and so we might endeavour to reckon the present life of Men:
I suppose this is one reason I find Tolkien's work so beautiful and so resonant. I believe it was Cardinal Ratzinger who said that Tradition is the ''memory of the Church.'' Indeed, and I could not put it better myself. The Tradition of the Church is made present, and alive, in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy - and all the more meaningful in the chanting of the Scriptures, the lessons of the Fathers and the great Anamnesis of the Mass. Christ's ordinance This do for the commemoration of me makes the Blessed Sacrament present upon the Altar, not because the priest utters ''magic words'' of institution (a Traditionalist error which seeks to render the Sacred Liturgy bare of all save sacramental validity) but because it is the waking memory of Christ made present by the Church, who remembers through the faithful ministry of the Liturgy. The Apostles remembered the Risen Christ at Emmaus when He broke bread with them. It is the Sacred Liturgy which is the great connexion, a veritable catena aurea, linking us to the Fathers and thence to Christ on the Cross. What happens, therefore, when this Tradition is interrupted by tampering at magisterial level, when the Memory of the Church is supplanted by something foreign? The Pacelli propers for the Feast of the Assumption (akin, in my view, to what he did to Holy Week) come to mind. How can the People of God remember the mystery of St Mary's Assumption properly when the Church has so distanced herself from the ancestral Liturgy for this Feast? Whether this is legitimate authority or no (as you know I would say that this is misuse of supposed authority), it can only serve to render the memory of the Church void or irrelevant. What is the point of Tradition, of Memory, when you can have the Vicar of Christ make it up in the name of doctrinal clarity? If Tradition is understood as the waking memory of the Church (in the Tolkienian sense), and the Roman Church is in a state of de facto schism with her own Tradition, one could well ask: Man is nothing without his memory, what therefore is the modern Roman Church?
''Now, therefore, I will sleep.'' said Aragorn. ''I speak no comfort to you, for there is no comfort for such pain within the circles of the world. The uttermost choice is before you: to repent and go to the Havens and bear away into the West the memory of our days together that shall there be evergreen but never more than memory; or else to abide the Doom of Men.''
''Nay, dear lord,'' said Arwen, ''that choice is long over. There is now no ship that would bear me hence, and I must indeed abide the Doom of Men, whether I will or I nill: the loss and the silence. But I say to you, King of the Númenoreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One [God] to Men, it is bitter to receive.''
''So it seems,'' he said. ''But let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!''
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Do visit the blog - it is now in my blogroll (I shall prune this soon enough).
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Monday, 25 October 2010
This Altar arrangement is ridiculous, yet, lamentably, Catholics of a rather misinformed liturgical disposition would admire this as representing a long-lost Tradition, cruelly done away with by the Second Vatican Council. Baroque liturgy (or whatever period this hideous monstrosity hails from) is not the liturgical ideal.
Sunday, 24 October 2010
But this is not what the Church teaches and enjoins. The worship she offers to God, all good and great, is a continuous profession of Catholic faith and a continuous exercise of hope and charity, as Augustine puts it tersely. "God is to be worshipped," he says, "by faith, hope and charity." In the sacred liturgy we profess the Catholic faith explicitly and openly, not only by the celebration of the mysteries, and by offering the holy sacrifice and administering the sacraments, but also by saying or singing the credo or Symbol of the faith - it is indeed the sign and badge, as it were, of the Christian - along with other texts, and likewise by the reading of holy scripture, written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. The entire liturgy, therefore, has the Catholic faith for its content, inasmuch as it bears public witness to the faith of the Church.
For this reason, whenever there was question of defining a truth revealed by God, the Sovereign Pontiff and the Councils in their recourse to the "theological sources," as they are called, have not seldom drawn many an argument from this sacred science of the liturgy. For an example in point, Our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, so argued when he proclaimed the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Similarly during the discussion of a doubtful or controversial truth, the Church and the Holy Fathers have not failed to look to the age-old and age-honored sacred rites for enlightenment. Hence the well-known and venerable maxim, "Legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi" - let the rule for prayer determine the rule of belief. The sacred liturgy, consequently, does not decide or determine independently and of itself what is of Catholic faith. More properly, since the liturgy is also a profession of eternal truths, and subject, as such, to the supreme teaching authority of the Church, it can supply proofs and testimony, quite clearly, of no little value, towards the determination of a particular point of Christian doctrine. But if one desires to differentiate and describe the relationship between faith and the sacred liturgy in absolute and general terms, it is perfectly correct to say, "Lex credendi legem statuat supplicandi" - let the rule of belief determine the rule of prayer.
Saturday, 23 October 2010
Éalá Éarendel engla beorhtast ofer middangeard monnum sended; ond sóðfæsta sunnan léoma torht ofer tunglas þú tída gehwane of sylfum þé symle inlíhtes!
Hail Earendel, brightest of angels, above the middle-earth sent unto men, and true radiance of the sun, bright above the stars - thou of thy very self illuminest for every season!
Thursday, 21 October 2010
I spoke to him about Liturgy a few months ago, and asked him what Mass was like in the '50s and '60s. He said that it was terrible, as indeed it was, but of course his personal reason for thinking it terrible is quite different from my own. He said that the priest had his back to the congregation and mumbled from a book (in all fairness this is true at Low Mass) in Latin, and that ''for all we knew he could have been doing a crossword.'' This is another aspect of recent Church history where I differ from certain people. The enormous reaction against this appalling Liturgy (which by 1960 was in a pathetic state) in the '60s was inevitable. If the Roman Church had cultivated its liturgical tradition instead of dogma and devotions then perhaps the present state of the Sacred Liturgy would be a lot better. As you can see my uncle knew little to nothing about Liturgy as a boy, and still knows nothing. Perhaps this is clumsily put - perhaps men of my uncle's generation know little about the Faith because they could not, and cannot, discern the Faith from the Liturgy - precisely because the Liturgy provided them by the Church was exhausted and sterile, as a result of tampering at magisterial level and long neglect. More ''informed'' Catholics (the neo-Conservative kind) are hardly better. The premise of their orthodoxy is ''the Pope says'' rather than ''I am fortified in this belief by the Sacred Liturgy.'' It would not surprise me if these Ultramontane Catholics would go along with the Pope if a future pope declared Christ's Divinity (but not his own as God's oracle) to be superfluous to the Gospel.
It seems to me that orthodoxy for the wrong reasons (like Munificentissimus Deus) is fraught with so much danger. It rather reminds me of the Forms in Plato's cave.
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
It was hard not to hear the news about Malcolm Ranjith. Traditionalists speak favourably of him, and I'm sure he's a decent man, but the news has been greeted with the sense of a victory won, as if Tradworld had captured enemy territory or something, and enslaved the liberals. I must say that to ordinary simple Catholics like me this war going on between the Trads/Neo-conservatives and the Liberals is hard to fathom. What's it all for? Doctrinal orthodoxy? The amount of lace on one's polyester Romish cotta? I must say I find it incredibly rich the way Trads look down their noses on polyester cassock-albs, the liturgical attire of the liberal party, when a polyester lace cotta is hardly better. Let's see now, the agenda of both parties in this conflict seems to be the annihilation of the other. Which side is better though? The liberals seem to propound doctrinal relativism, liturgical...well nothing really liturgical (having a celebration of the Eucharist (how they shy away from the term Mass, or even sometimes liturgy) around a table with tea lights and whale music is hardly inspiring) and a sort of DIY Catholicism where it doesn't really matter what you do, so long as you're ''open-minded'' and are nice to people. Trads propound Catholicism of the 19th and 20th century, anything before Vatican II, the whole lot of it (triumphalism and hauteur not excluded of course)...Ultramontanism, Lourdes, Rosaries, a distinct want of Liturgy comparable to the liberals (why have a High Mass for the Vigil of Pentecost, for example, when you can have a Low Votive Mass of Our Lady of Fatima instead?), and a lot of sell outs to '62ism. Which side is better? If there is a liberal Pope I can't wait til he makes Summorum Pontificum void - what will all the Trads do then, and their so-called ''obedience''? Of course if he comes out with something at variance with the standard of Trad orthodoxy no doubt all the explaining away will start (differences between the ''ordinary'' and ''extraordinary'' magisterium and what not), and the Trads will just wait for a change of days, change of pope so that they can curse his name (like Paul VI). I think he should declare Anglican Orders to be valid too - I mean if Pius X can say that women can't sing in church choirs one year and then 60 years on Pius XII says that they can, what's the difference? To which authority does one render obeisance in the Roman Church? The answer, of course, is the most recent one - how very at odds with my own understanding of authority.
If there is another Trad pope things will hardly be better, in fact they could be worse. Who wants another Pius XII, or a Barberini to put popish spanners into the liturgical work? Who would want centralized bureaucracy, which the Vatican misnames ''apostolic'' or ''holy''? If there could possibly be a use for all this Papal authority I would that the Pope imposed the Old Rite on the Universal Church on pain of latae sententiae excommunication for any objection. Of course by doing so I would be going against everything I say on this blog, and it would not be secure anyway. I mean Quo Primum lasted a mere 34 years before another revision was made to the Roman Missal, and who is to stop the next despot Pope, bent on the destruction of Tradition, from making that void again? To paraphrase George Orwell: ''if you want a picture of the future imagine the Papal slippers stamping on Liturgy forever.''
As for ''the red hat'' business, I wish Ranjith well but I'd personally go back to the days when bishops were elected by Christ's faithful in the diocese and were not appointed by the Pope - I doubt we'd have as many inept ones then.
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
I have now, after much waiting and hassle, rearranged my hours at work, for the better. I am now in charge of the Newspapers and Magazines and do a basic 29 hour working week, Monday-Friday; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 6:00am-11:00am, Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00am-1:00pm. However, there is a horrible catch. In order the get the job I had to look willing, and was confessedly a bit sycophantic (I hate sycophants - particularly the sort of suck up who fawns over ''important'' people but treats us mere mortals with disdain), so I offered to cover my old shifts on top of my 29 hour basic working week. Now all my old shifts are evening-based, so I have been doing ten and a half hour shifts, back to back, all week (last night I finished at 11:00am, went home to twiddle my thumbs then went back at 4:00pm and finished at 9:45pm, only to be back again at 6:00am this morning) and I am exhausted. This is why blogging has been poor lately. Hopefully when things sort themselves out (I won't be holding my breath) this will change.
I'm worried about University...The only good thing about this near-50 hour week I shall have done by Friday is that come payday I won't be so hard up.
On a more pleasant liturgical note, Gregory DiPippo of The New Liturgical Movement blog has resumed his compendious history of the Roman Breviary 1568-1961. I encourage readers of this blog to read that excellent series (I did have them all in my Favourites but they have gone missing for some obscure reason). Part 8.1 (on the Psalter) can be read here.
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
Monday, 11 October 2010
Sunday, 10 October 2010
Boob. As far as ''true'' Popes go Pius XII was the absolute worst in the history of the Papacy (even worse than John XII, who funded his far too numerous mistresses at the Lateran by the sale of episcopal consecrations). A thousand anathemas upon that awful, heretical, man. And now the ''Tridentine Rite''...To my knowledge the so-called ''Tridentine Rite'' has not been celebrated since 1604 when Clement VIII introduced his new reformed Missal (and I think that the ''ethos'' of the Tridentine Rite died a death when Gregory XIII imposed the Gregorian Kalendar on the Universal Church in 1582). No doubt these ignorant extremists celebrate the '62 Rite merrily, woefully ignorant (or wilfully so) of the fact that the '62 Rite is as far removed from any holistic and authentic hermeneutic of Tradition as is the rest of their deplorable position. But it was before the Council so it's all ok; it's Vatican II which is the enemy of Tradition, not Pius XII! If the See of Peter is vacant then the Church of Christ is builded upon sand. But then some have even gone so far as to elect their own popes. Idiots.
According to their logic because I am not a Sedevacantist I can't possibly care much for Tradition. Well I hope they'll forgive me if my understanding and appreciation of Tradition goes back farther than the 1950s. Also I prefer communion of the Church to schism for its own sake. If the Church is the guardian of Tradition then methinks it is worthy to trust more to the Church than my own finite self in this matter (please do not misunderstand me here: when I poke at the Church for departing from Tradition it is usually individuals I have in mind - Pius XII and Pius X being prominent among them, who because of their exalted positions exerted vast and lasting influence).
See here for another Sedevacantist site, with a nice image of the Sacred Heart to welcome you. Under their Liturgy section no mention whatever is made of the Divine Office but they have no qualms about listing the Rosary (or including a Confiteor before Holy Communion during ''the Latin Mass''). If I would thank Vatican II for anything (and I welcome many of the changes instigated by that Council most Traditionalists blanch at) it would be the schism of these ignorant extremists.
Since Sedevacantists aren't remotely traditional, what are they? Are they merely ignorant or insincere?
Saturday, 9 October 2010
Friday, 8 October 2010
Thursday, 7 October 2010
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.