Saturday, April 19, 2003

Kathleen Norris
"Triduum Notes : Saturday" from The Cloister Walk

The air is full of the anticipation of snow, a howling wind. Words will not let me be : in cold and silence you are born, from the womb of earth, the cloud of snow yet to fall. And from somewhere in the liturgy : What has been prepared for me? Tonight I have a big responsibility; after the Service of Light, after the long story of the Exultet is sung -- "This is the night, this is the night" -- I will speak the first words of the Liturgy of the Word, the opening lines of Genesis : "In the beginning, God ..."

My friend Columba and I share this first reading -- here, they divide it between God and a narrator. Rehearsing in the abbey's chapter house, we had flipped a coin, and Columba won the part of God, which I didn't mind in the least. The narrator has better lines. Now, standing in the church full of people I can barely see, I say them slowly, as if I had all the time in the world. It is the creation of the world we are saying, and I'm surprised to find surprise in the lines : let there be ... and there was, God waiting to see, and to call it good.

As my eyes grow accustomed to the light in the church, I can see my husband hunched in the balcony. I had warned him not to come, because the Mass usually puts him in such a bad mood.


Nearly three hours after we've begun, the abbot announces, just before the final blessing, that coffee and orange juice and light refreshments will be served in the Great Hall. I wonder if Benedictines can do anything without feeding people, without making it a party. And it's quite a party, full of stone-sober people who are drunk on liturgy. I look for my husband. He's been outside smoking, and when he comes up to us he puts his arm around me and says to the monks, "The last time I went to the Vigil it was still in Latin, but you guys do it up right." They laugh. "The choir sounded magnificent," David says to me. "You liked it?" I reply, amazed. "It was beautiful," he says, and he seems to mean it. "Abbot Timothy," I say, "we have an emergency. This is not the man I married." The abbot laughs, we all laugh, and visit until nearly 2 A.M.

Norris, op. cit. (Riverhead Books, 1996), pp. 181-2.

On this page, in English and Latin.

And below, in Latin :

Exsultet iam angelica turba caelorum:
exultent divina mysteria:
et pro tanti Regis victoria tuba insonet salutaris.

Gaudeat et tellus tantis irradiata fulgoribus:
et, aeterni Regis splendore illustrata,
totius orbis se sentiat amisisse caliginem.

Laetetur et mater Ecclesia,
tanti luminis adornata fulgoribus:
et magnis populorum vocibus haec aula resultet.

Quapropter astantes vos, fratres carissimi, (1962: "adstantes")
ad tam miram huius sancti luminis claritatem,
una mecum, quaeso,
Dei omnipotentis misericordiam invocate.

Ut, qui me non meis meritis
intra Levitarum numerum dignatus est aggregare,
luminis sui claritatem infundens,
cerei huius laudem implere perficiat.

(1962: Per Dominum nostrum Iesus Christum filium suum: Qui cum eo vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus. Per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.)

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
V. Sursum corda.
R. Habemus ad Dominum.
V. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.
R. Dignum et iustum est.

Vere dignum et iustum est,
invisibilem Deum Patrem omnipotentem
Filiumque eius unigenitum,
Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum,
toto cordis ac mentis affectu et vocis ministerio personare.

Qui pro nobis aeterno Patri Adae debitum solvit,
et veteris piaculi cautionem pio cruore detersit.

Haec sunt enim festa paschalia,
in quibus verus ille Agnus occiditur,
cuius sanguine postes fidelium consecrantur.

Haec nox est,
in qua primum patres nostros, filios Israel
eductos de Aegypto,
Mare Rubrum sicco vestigio transire fecisti.

Haec nox est,
quae peccatorum tenebras columnae illuminatione purgavit.

Haec nox est,
quae hodie per universum mundum in Christo credentes,
a vitiis saeculi et caligine peccatorum segregatos,
reddit gratiae, sociat sanctitati.

Haec nox est,
in qua, destructis vinculis mortis,
Christus ab inferis victor ascendit.

Nihil enim nobis nasci profuit, nisi redimi profuisset.
O mira circa nos Tuae pietatis dignatio!

O inaestimabilis dilectio caritatis:
ut servum redimeres, Filium tradidisti!

O certe necessarium Adae peccatum,
quod Christi morte deletum est!
O felix culpa,
quae talem ac tantum meruit habere Redemptorem!

O vere beata nox,
quae sola meruit scire tempus et horam,
in qua Christus ab inferis resurrexit!

Haec nox est, de qua scriptum est:
Et nox sicut dies illuminabitur:
et nox illuminatio mea in deliciis meis.

Huius igitur sanctificatio noctis fugat scelera, culpas lavat:
et reddit innocentiam lapsis et maestis laetitiam.
Fugat odia, concordiam parat et curvat imperia.

In huius igitur noctis gratia,
suscipe, sancte Pater, laudis huius sacrificium vespertinum,
quod tibi in hac cerei oblatione sollemni,
per ministrorum manus
de operibus apum, sacrosancta reddit Ecclesia.

Sed iam columnae huius praeconia novimus,
quam in honorem Dei rutilans ignis accendit.

Qui, licet sit divisus in partes,
mutuati tamen luminis detrimenta non novit.
Alitur enim liquantibus ceris,
quas in substantiam pretiosae huius lampadis
apis mater eduxit.

(1962: O vere beata nox,
quae exspoliavit Aegyptios,
ditavit Hebraeos!
Nox in qua terrenis caelestia,
humanis divina iunguntur.)

(O vere beata) nox,
in qua terrenis caelestia, humanis divina iunguntur!
Oramus ergo te, Domine,
ut cereus iste in honorem tui nominis consecratus,
ad noctis huius caliginem destruendam,
indeficiens perseveret.

Et in odorem suavitatis acceptus,
supernis luminaribus misceatur.
Flammas eius lucifer matutinus inveniat:
Ille, inquam, lucifer, qui nescit occasum:
Christus Filius tuus,
qui, regressus ab inferis, humano generi serenus illuxit,

(1962: Precamur ergo te, Domine: ut nos famulos tuos, omnemque clerum, et devotissimum populum: una cum beatissimo Papa nostro N. et Antistite nostro N., quiete temporum concessa, in his paschalibus gaudiis, assidua protectione regere, gubernare et conservare digneris. Respice etiam ad eos, qui nos in potestate regunt, et, ineffabili pietatis et misericordiae tuae munere, dirigere cogitationes eorum ad iustitiam et pacem, ut de terrena operositate ad caelestem patriam perveniant cum omni populo tuo. Per eundem Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus: per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.)

et vivit et regnat in saecula saeculorum.

R. Amen.
this post

has been deleted
Easter Vigil, 1966
by Karol Wojtyla (b. 1920)

This is a Night above all nights, when
keeping watch at Your grave
we are the Church.
This is the night of strife
when hope and despair do battle within us.
This strife overlays all our past struggles,
filling them all to their depths.
(Do they lose their sense then, or gain it?)
This is the Night, when the earth's ritual attains its beginning.
A thousand years is like one night :
the night keeping watch
at Your grave.

From The Place Within : The Poetry of Pope John Paul II, trans. Jerzy Peterkiewicz (Random House, 1982, 1994), p. 140.
from Psalm 88
King James Version

10: Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.
Zone of Death
by William Everson (Brother Antoninus, 1912-1994)

Wind is not nigh.

No Holy Ghost,
Spirit outspilt,
Burnt this charred day.

What sin did this?
Could I?

Hot light blares.
Stars, outblistered now,
Mark time, extinct.

Night might bring
The seasonal constellations
In its sphere,
But night is nowhere.

Sun. Sand.
The noon-crazy jays
Cackle and gibber,
Jar on the gritted ear.

Dawn sneaked in unsmelt.
No wine, no water here.

Now the lance-riddled man
On yon pronged tree,
Stretched in the death-tread there,
Opens his executing eye
And gibbets me.

From The Voice That Is Great Within Us : American Poetry of the Twentieth Century, ed. Hayden Carruth (Bantam Books, 1970), p. 353.
mud above the ankles
a smile-engendering simile at Notes from a Hillside Farm

Down at the sheep barn there was mud above the ankles, sometimes up to the boot top, grabbing and holding on like an insistent drunk at a party -- "Have you heard the one about . . .?"
Encyclical letter

Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

I have not read it in its entirety, and prefer to read documents of this length in hard copy so as to underline in faint pencil, or to make marginal notations : but what I have read of it gives the impression of a richness and a depth far beyond that reported by the media ("Gasp! Horror! He's saying Catholics shouldn't receive Protestant communion" -- what the blogger at Disputations called the Ginger factor, after the Far Side cartoon : the media hearing only what they want to hear).
The world's last night

John Donne's Holy Sonnet XIII via Lane Core.

See also, at Blog from the Core, a poem by C S Lewis.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Verse and response

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi :
Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
from Isaiah 52 and 53

He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all.

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.


Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.
Another recent bit
of patristic "roulette" from Doxos

It is better to make peace with your own soul than to pacify those who are at variance by your teaching.
Isaac of Syria
Encouragement from the Psalter
this time, from the Revised English Bible with the Apocrypha

from Psalm 31

7 I shall rejoice and be glad in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my affliction
and have cared for me in my distress.

19 How great is your goodness,
stored up for those who fear you,
made manifest before mortal eyes
for all who turn to you for shelter.

21 Blessed be the Lord,
whose unfailing love for me was wonderful
when I was in sore straits.

22 In sudden alarm I said,
'I am shut out from your sight.'
But you heard my plea
when I called to you for help.

24 Be strong and stout-hearted,
all you whose hope is in the Lord.

+ + + + +

from Psalm 34

18 The Lord is close to those whose courage is broken;
he saves those whose spirit is crushed.
Good Friday
by Vernon Watkins (1906-1967)

After the winter solstice came
Ice and low flame,
The cockerel step by which the light
Shortened the sleep of earth and night.

And slowly as the days of Lent
Waxed and were spent,
Trees, birds and flowers all increased
In expectation of the feast.

Spring with such promise did abound
That the gemmed ground
Already showed in clustered grass
The printless light of unseen stars.

But now light grows where rays decline.
Now the crushed wine
Transfigures all, leaf, blossom, fruit,
By reference to the sacred root.

Day must die here that day may break.
Time must forsake
Time, and this moment be preferred
To any copy, light or word.

In this a night we apprehend
Which has no end.
Day dies. We make our choice, and say :
'This, this we seek; no second day.'

Not in the speculative skies
Instruction lies,
But in the nails of darkness driven
Into these hands which hold up heaven.

For, as old ages antedate
Love's present weight,
So the pulse falling gives the chain
Momentum to what years remain.

All lives, to flourish, here should stop
Still; and all hope
To live, must die here first, and pull
New ages to this mountain skull.

Now let the geography of lands
Learn from these hands,
And from these feet the unresting seas
Take, from unfathomed grief, their ease.

Our mortal life is composite
Until we knit
All possible days to this, and make
A seal, from which true day must break.

Come, Easter, come : I was afraid
Your star had strayed.
It was behind our darkest fears
Which could not see their God for tears.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

from Psalm 22. Deus, Deus meus.

11 O go not from me; for trouble is hard at hand, * and there is none to help me.

19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD; * thou art my succour, haste thee to help me.

24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the low estate of the poor; * he hath not hid his face from him; but when he called unto him he heard him.

Five Short-Shorts
by Hayden Carruth (b. 1921)

Why speak of the use
of poetry? Poetry
is what uses us.


Ah, you beast of love,
my cat, my dove, my spider
-- too late I'm natured.


A hard journey. Yes,
it must be. At the end they
all fall asleep.


Your tears, Niobe,
are your children now. See how
we have multiplied.


So be it. I am
a wholeness I'll never know.
Maybe that's the best.

from The Voice That Is Great Within Us : American Poetry of the Twentieth Century, ed. H. Carruth (Bantam Books, 1970), pp. 482-3.
Nor ever chaste except ...

ELC gives us today one of the most famous of Donne's Holy Sonnets.
Hymn : Vexilla Regis

The royal banners forward go,
The cross shines forth in mystic glow;
Where he in flesh, our flesh Who made,
Our sentence bore, our ransom paid.

Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
Life's torrent rushing from His side,
To wash us in that precious flood,
Where mingled water flowed, and blood.

Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old,
Amidst the nations, God, saith he,
Hath reigned and triumphed from the tree.

O tree of beauty, tree of light!
O tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy limbs should find their rest.

Blest tree, whose chosen branches bore
The wealth that did the world restore,
The price of humankind to pay,
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.

Upon its arms, like balance true,
He weighed the price for sinners due,
The price which none but He could pay,
And spoiled the spoiler of his prey.

O cross, our one reliance, hail!
Still may thy power with us avail
To give new virtue to the saint,
And pardon to the penitent.

To Thee, eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done:
As by the cross Thou dost restore,
So rule and guide us evermore.

+ + + + +

Vexilla Regis prodeunt:
Fulget Crucis mysterium,
Qua vita mortem pertulit,
Et morte vitam protulit.

Quae vulnerata lanceae
Mucrone diro, criminum
Ut nos lavaret sordibus,
Manavit unda, et sanguine.

Impleta sunt quae concinit
David fideli carmine,
Dicendo nationibus:
Regnavit a ligno Deus.

Arbor decora et fulgida,
Ornata regis purpura,
Electa digno stipite
Tam sancta membra tangere.

Beata, cujus brachiis
Pretium pependit saeculi,
Statera facta corporis,
Tulitque praedam tartari.

O Crux ave spes unica,
Hoc passionis tempore
Piis adauge gratiam,
Reisque dele crimina.

Te, fons salutis Trinitas,
Collaudet omnis spiritus:
Quibus Crucis victoriam
Lariris, adde praemium.

Venantius Honorius Fortunatus, 569
trans. John Mason Neale, 1851
Via Doxos
what the blogger calls 'Patristic Roulette' !!

Abba Xanthios said, "A dog is better than I am, for he has love and he does not judge."
The Poets
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

O ye dead Poets, who are living still
    Immortal in your verse, though life be fled,
    And ye, O living Poets, who are dead
    Though ye are living, if neglect can kill,
Tell me if in the darkest hours of ill,
    With drops of anguish falling fast and red
    From the sharp crown of thorns upon your head,
    Ye were not glad your errand to fulfil?
Yes; for the gift and ministry of Song
    Have something in them so divinely sweet,
    It can assuage the bitterness of wrong;
Not in the clamor of the crowded street,
    Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
    But in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.
Encouragement from the Psalter
via the Msgr Knox translation of the Holy Bible

from Psalm 51 (50 in Knox)

... tidings send me of good news and rejoicing, and the body that lies in the dust shall thrill with pride.

+ + + + +

from Psalm 19 (18 in Knox)

... he has made a pavilion for the sun, which comes out as a bridegroom comes from his bed, and exults like some great runner who sees the track before him.

That latter, for the marathoners who take to the course on Easter Monday !!
Bishop KALLISTOS (Ware) of Diokleia
author of The Orthodox Way

God alone is noun; all created things are adjectives.

Orthodox quote for today via the website of Boston's OCA cathedral.

Ware, op. cit. (SVS Press, 2002), p. 45
from the Psalter

Psalm 93. Dominus regnavit.

2 He hath made the round world so sure, * that it cannot be moved.

5 The waves of the sea are mighty, and rage horribly; * but yet the LORD, who dwelleth on high, is mightier.

+ + + + +

Psalm 84. Quam dilecta!

5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; * in whose heart are thy ways.

6 Who going through the vale of misery use it for a well [...]

Psalm 38. Domine, ne in furore.

PUT me not to rebuke, O LORD, in thine anger; * neither chasten me in thy heavy displeasure :

2 For thine arrows stick fast in me, * and thy hand presseth me sore.

3 There is no health in my flesh, because of thy displeasure; * neither is there any rest in my bones, by reason of my sin.

4 For my wickednesses are gone over my head, * and are like a sore burden, too heavy for me to bear.

5 My wounds stink, and are corrupt, * through my foolishness.

6 I am brought into so great trouble and misery, * that I go mourning all the day long.

7 For my loins are filled with a sore disease, * and there is no whole part in my body.

8 I am feeble and sore smitten; * I have roared for the very disquietness of my heart.

9 Lord, thou knowest all my desire; * and my groaning is not hid from thee.

10 My heart panteth, my strength hath failed me, * and the light of mine eyes is gone from me.

11 My lovers and my neighbours did stand looking upon my trouble, * and my kinsmen stood afar off.

12 They also that sought after my life laid snares for me; * and they that went about to do me evil talked of wickedness, and imagined deceit all the day long.

13 As for me, I was like a deaf man, and heard not; * and as one that is dumb, who doth not open his mouth.

14 I became even as a man that heareth not, * and in whose mouth are no reproofs.

15 For in thee, O LORD, have I put my trust; * thou shalt answer for me, O Lord my God.

16 I have required that they, even mine enemies, should not triumph over me; * for when my foot slipt, they rejoiced greatly against me.

17 And I truly am set in the plague, * and my heaviness is ever in my sight.

18 For I will confess my wickedness, * and be sorry for my sin.

19 But mine enemies live, and are mighty; * and they that hate me wrongfully are many in number.

20 They also that reward evil for good are against me; * because I follow the thing that good is.

21 Forsake me not, O LORD my God; * be not thou far from me.
Might be quieter hereabouts

for the Triduum. Although, if truth be told, "quieter" might mean 3 or 4 posts a day instead of 7 or 8 !!

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Wednesday of Holy Week takes precedence

but the saint for April 16th is Benedict Joseph Labre.

Via Quenta Nârwenion.
Record high and record low possible
within 24 hrs.

84 earlier, it's dropped to 50.

I've seen forecasts of 27 by dawn.

Update, just before dawn Thursday : It's 34.
Not done with Donne

Lane Core gives us Holy Sonnet XV.
a few lines from Psalm 56
as it appears in Magnificat

You have kept an account of my wanderings;
you have kept a record of my tears;
are they not written in your book?

This I know, that God is on my side.

O God, I will offer you praise
for you have rescued my soul from death,

that I may walk in the presence of God
and enjoy the light of the living.
Changed a few

of the pictures in the left margin. Also moved "Politics, papers, periodicals" below "Poetry & culture" and just above the weatherpixie, who is evidently enjoying the warmer weather.
estlin alive
poem XLIX from One Times One

            were in(give
give)bud when to me
made for by love
love said did
o no yes

earth was in
with all beautiful
things when to
you gave gave darling

birds are
                  in(trees are in)
when to me you
leap and i'm born we
're sunlight of

Cummings, op. cit. (Liveright, 2002), p. 51

Emily Dickinson


Between these years -- a Life --
Of unobtrusive Fame --
Of nameless Notoriety --
Anonymous -- Renown --

Gathering gemlike Accidents
Of primness and panache --
A coruscating heaven's-worth
Of Treasures -- in the Mesh --

A canticle of Lazarus
That makes a poor soul rich --
A Wealth of Sound -- a golden Trove --
That hallows Avarice --

A talent for the Sparrow --
A farthing for the King --
Such prodigal Economies
And saintly Reasoning!

Your ardent Chill -- engenders --
A realm of Light beyond
The World we know -- of Task and Tears --
Of Thorn and Scorn -- and Wound

Your cloistered Ecstasies possess
A foretaste of the Next
Illimitable brilliancy
Undimmed -- and unsurpassed --

In Country Heaven
by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

      Always when he, in country heaven,
                                                (Whom my heart hears),
Crosses the breast of the praising East, and kneels,
                        Humble in all his planets,
            And weeps on the abasing hill,

Then in the delight and grove of beasts and birds
                        And the canonized valley
      Where the dewfall stars sing grazing still
            And the angels whirr like pheasants
                                                Through naves of leaves,

      Light and his tears glide down together
                                                (O hand in hand)
From the country eyes, salt and sun, star and woe
                        Down the cheek bones and whinnying
            Downs into the low browsing dark.

Housed in hamlets of heaven swing the loft lamps,
                        In the black buried spinneys
      Bushes and owls blow out like candles,
            And seraphic fields of shepherds
                                                Fade with their rose-

      White, God's bright, flocks, the belled lambs leaping,
                                                (His gentle kind);
The shooting star hawk statued blind in a cloud
                        Over the blackamoor shires
            Hears the belfries and the cobbles

Of the twelve apostles' towns ring in his night;
                        And the long fox like fire
      Prowls flaming among the cockerels
            In the farms of heaven's keeping,
                                                But they sleep sound.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Dylan Thomas, reading poetry for the BBC.

Dylan and Caitlin Thomas, c. 1938

Dylan Thomas, in his late 30s.
In my craft or sullen art
by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

with his most fitting observance, Lane Core gives us Holy Sonnet XVI by John Donne.
Had some enemy decried me,

I could have borne it patiently; some open ill-wisher, I could have sheltered myself from his attack. But thou, my second self, my familiar friend! How pleasant was the companionship we shared, thou and I; how lovingly we walked as fellow pilgrims in the house of God!

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + +

The verses above were part of the morning prayers in Magnificat for today. (Magnificat uses the Grail Version; here I have used Msgr Knox's translation.) The verses are from Psalm 55, or 54 in the Vulgate's and in Knox's reckoning. They are included in the Holy Week readings as a foreshadowing of how our blessed Lord is treated by Judas, his disciple turned traitor.

But there is, I would venture, a different way of reading those lines. Perhaps could we read them as what sinners say to God, what Judas might have thought about our Lord, what absurd words reach the lips, what thoughts reach the mind, of those who have been "disappointed" by the infinite grandeur of God, the limitless compassion, the omniscient understanding -- failing to make Itself small and palatable and cozy and free of shock?

Were there not those in our Lord's day who were looking for a political Messiah, a revolutionary savior, to throw off the yoke of Roman oppression, to return the chosen people to temporal glory? Don't we sometimes approach the Lord looking for some temporal or worldly gain, and then, not finding it, use Jeremiah's words "You deceived me, and I let myself be deceived" (cf. Jer 20:7)?

Do we ever approach the Crucified Son of God, strangely, almost bizarrely, expecting him to remove all our obstacles, our roadblocks, our slings and arrows, our thorns and nettles? And aren't we reminded time and time again Unless you take up your cross ... Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake ... but we continue to think "Well, those admonitions are for other kinds of Christians, maybe for the heroic saints of old. It's good enough to be, well, to be good enough."

And when the world, or parts of it, come at us with whatever it comes at us with, don't we turn to the Lord in petulance and defiance and say, "Hey, Buddy," (perhaps not so bluntly but this must be the effect) "weren't you supposed to take care of this problem? Haven't I been one of your friends? Aren't we simpatico? I'm keeping my part of the bargain : I'm going to Mass, I'm praying, I'm steering clear of Grave Sin X and Very Grave Sin Y and (most of the time) More-than-Semi-Grave Sin Z. Aren't you going to hold up your end? Aren't you going to make my life easier? Didn't You say, My yoke is easy and my burden is light?"

And so on, with such similar mockeries of God which we pray are burned up like so many dead leaves in the bonfire of his mercy.

Have we ever come to prayer accusing God, secretly, subconsciously, or even openly, of being a traitor to us?

I know I have. And how is this possible, when to ponder for longer than twenty seconds the smallest of his mercies to me, should send me to my knees in tears of gratitude ... but no ... I have a splinter of the Cross, one thorn of the mockery-crown, a milligram of the scorn that He called his glory ... and I complain endlessly and fiercely and unmanfully. And complain, and complain.

He forgave his enemies from the cross. And I never forget a slight.

He was silent before his judges. I am garrulous with self-justifications and excuses.

His touch brought healing and new life.

He helped all who came to him and believed in him.

His was a life of kenosis, of self-emptying, and of fervent prayer.

And he had not where to lay his head. And he called his death-pains his glory.

May the blood of Christ, shed on the cross for our redemption, silence those devils, and expel them from me, who dare to call God traitor and deceiver, even unconsciously, for whatever flimsy pretext or treasonable reason.
I think

the template problem's fixed. Perhaps only chez moi. So, proceed with caution!

Gracias, google pyra!!
Possibly upcoming (later tonight or tomorrow but if I put it off until tomorrow I might as well forget about it) and I would emphasize possibly not definitely at any rate you know the drill

A personal look at some verses of Psalm 55, which appeared in this morning's Magnificat readings.
Isaiah 49
from today's Mass readings

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
Yet my reward is with the Lord,
my recompense is with my God.

Still a three-month old template when I go to edit, therefore I can't edit.


The patience of the saints, I have. The patience of the saints !!
This is extremely bizarre

Went to edit my template just now, to move the dialy psalm-verse a wee bit closer to the top. And what do I find, but my old template. With the young Russian girl holding a candle, with Queen Latifah, with no psalm-verse at all on the template. Obviously, the current template is in someone's memory or you wouldn't be seeing the church of Spencer Abbey or St Patrick's stamp or the psalm-verse (scroll way down) ... but how can blogger-google-pyra-whatchamacallit properly display what I've put in, but when I go to edit ... provide me with data that a month or two out of date?

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Here is today's psalm-verse

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Psalm 16:11 (KJV)
In parallel accordance

with instruction from a confessor about prayer, I may try to make the remainder of the Holy Week bloggings a bit more personal and informal, more direct, fewer quotations (although I'm sure they won't be absent!), fewer pilferings from the Magnificat booklet unless something really compels -- more relaxed conversation and shared reflection and things like the cordless phone and the second mug of coffee. More personabibble, less literary. More colloquial, less formal. See? I've already started being colloquial; I've used the word "colloquial." But you know what I mean.

And the confessor's advice about prayer certainly wasn't to relinquish the Psalms or the rosary, but to add five minutes or more to every day where such cor ad cor loquitur honest conversation with the blessed Lord takes place. Sound advice, that. Also the reminder that "God is not fragile"!!

So, we get up to heaven by being down to earth!
the estimable & highly esteemed

has given us yet another of John Donne's Holy Sonnets.
Am awake (sort of)

but can't think of what next to blog. So there's this little note, to make sure I let everyone know I'm awake.

This is just to say

that my brain
craves the caffeine
from the second

mug of coffee
which I started a
few minutes ago

in anticipation
of eventual

Forgive me, dear
friends. This
morning, I'm not

quite as alert
and perky as I
should be!

I may go off & read the Psalms in the Revised English Bible -- the translation is sometimes flat & faltering, but I find it less cacophonous than NAB. And, from a bibliophiliacal standpoint, the REB with Apocrypha is one of the most attractive books I own. And I got it second-hand, but scarcely thumbed -- it would seem -- by its previous owner.

Yesterday was, briefly, a Psalm 22/ 88/ 102 kind of day. But then, as if in answer to an unconsciously offered (Advent!) antiphon Rorate coeli desuper, the heavens rained a wee bit of grace upon the parched and weary land. Now that's the good kind of rain!

It vexes me a little that I don't know who or what Scoglietto is in the Oscar Wilde sonnet directly herebelow. A place? A painter of old? Maybe the former : it means "little rock" or "small crag."

I shall, as MacArthur said, return.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Written in Holy Week at Genoa
by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

I wandered through Scoglietto's far retreat,
    The oranges on each o'erhanging spray
    Burned as bright lamps of gold to shame the day;
Some startled birds with fluttering wings and fleet
Made snow of all the blossoms, at my feet
    Like silver moons the pale narcissi lay :
    And the curved waves that streaked the great green bay
Laughed i' the sun, and life seemed very sweet.
Outside the young boy-priest passed singing clear,
    "Jesus the Son of Mary has been slain,
    O come and fill his sepulchre with flowers."
Ah, God! Ah, God! Those dear Hellenic hours
    Had drowned all memory of thy bitter pain,
    The Cross, the Crown, the Soldiers and the Spear.

I haven't even read all of it yet

but from the initial few hundred words, it is the most necessary article ever written : A long look at Oscar Wilde's Catholicism, the years of pondering and (if you will) flirtation with Rome that laid the groundwork for his deathbed conversion. Via Don at Catholic Bookshelf.
Encouragement !!
from today's first reading at Mass

A bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench ...

gives us a sonnet by John Donne.
from The Wisdom of the English Mystics
ed. Robert Way (New Directions, 1978)

William Blake wrote in his letters : The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.

William Blake wrote in Jerusalem :

I rest not upon my great task
To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes
Of man towards the World of Thought : into Eternity
Ever expanding in the Bosom of God, the Human Imagination.
O Saviour, pour upon me thy spirit of meekness and love,
Annihilate the Selfhood in me : be thou all my life.

Love is the true price of love.
Chiara Lubich
from today's Magnificat reflection

Christians are called to live their lives fully, to swim in the light, to plunge into a sea of crosses, and not to mope. Instead, all too frequently our life is listless, our mind is misty, our will indecisive. Why? Because educated in the ways of the world, we have become used to living as individuals. This is a contradiction of the Christian life.

Christ is love. The Christian cannot be anything else. Love generates communion. Communion is the foundation and the summit of the Christian life. [...] However, fraternal communion is not a static beatitude. It requires repeated conquests. [...]
A silver trumpet muffled in silk

The phrase above is how Sir Alec Guinness described the voice of the late Sir John Gielgud, who would have been 99 today.
Gee, thanks!

Check out the droll explanatory paragraph for the No Spring Chicken webring (we note thereat the presence of one member of St Blog's Parish!).

Sunday, April 13, 2003

via g. minefield & o. house

You are drip coffee. You are practical, business-
like and hands-off, except for when your
'machine' needs 'servicing' and 'cleaning'.

What Kind of Coffee Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Exactly right. And I am grateful that there wasn't an indefinite article preceding "drip."
Olivier Clément

I mentioned him below in connection with meditations written for the Via Crucis, but I should also like to recommend this particular book called Three Prayers. It is a book I must reacquire.

The three prayers are the Our Father, the O Heavenly King (to the Holy Spirit), and the prayer of St Ephrem.
John Derbyshire

on the Europeanness of Ireland. On the word "Republican" meaning something drastically different in Ireland than it does in the USA. And with an excellent Waugh quotation. I'm summarizing badly, but the Hibernian bloggers especially should read the whole thing, and possibly smile more than once.