Saturday, August 06, 2011

My own perfidy

My most. My most. O my lost!
O my bright, my ineradicable ghost.
At whose bright coast God seeks
Shelter and is lost is lost. O
Coast of Brightness. O cause of
Grief. O rose of purest grief.
O thou in my breast so stark and
Holy-bright. O thou melancholy
Light. Me. Me. My own perfidy.
O my most my most. O the bright
The beautiful, the terrible Accost.

~ José Garcia Villa (1908-97)

How to Know Who Jesus Is

When you love people, you see all the good in them, all the Christ in them. God sees Christ, his Son, in us, and loves us. And so we should see Christ in others, and nothing else, and love them. There can never be enough of it. There can never be enough thinking about it. Saint John of the Cross said that where there was no love, put love and you would take out love. The principle certainly works ...

And this is not easy. Everyone will try to kill that love in you, even your nearest and dearest; at least they will try to prune it. "Don't you know this, that, and the other thing about this person? He or she did this. If you do not want to hear it, you must hear. It is for your good to hear it. It is my duty to tell you, and it is your duty to take recognition of it. You must stop loving, modify your loving, show your disapproval. You cannot possibly love -- if you pretend you do, you are a hypocrite, and the truth is not in you. You are contributing to the delinquency of that person by your sentimental blindness. It is such people as you who would add to the sum of confusion, and wickedness, and soft appeasement, and compromise, and the policy of expediency in this world. You are to blame for communism, for industrial capitalism, and finally for hell on earth."

The antagonism often rises to a cresecendo of vituperation, an intensification of the opposition on all sides. You are quite borne down by it. And the only Christian answer is love, to the very end, to the laying down of your life.

~ Dorothy Day, meditation found in Magnificat, 9/26/2002


Prayer for Peace
To Mary, The Light of Hope

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.

From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.

Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
individual sin and the “sins of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope. Amen.

~ Pope John Paul II

Friday, August 05, 2011

Ave mundi spes Maria

Ave mundi spes Maria,
ave mitis, ave pia,
ave plena gratia.
Ave virgo singularis,
quæ per rubum designaris
non passus incendia.

Ave rosa
ave Jesse virgula:
Cujus fructus
nostri luctus
relaxavit vincula.

Ave cujus viscera
contra mortis foedera
ediderunt filium.
Ave carens simili, mundo diu flebili
reparasti gaudium.

Ave virginum lucerna,
per quam fulsit lux superna
his quos umbra tenuit.
Ave virgo de qua nasci,
et de cujus lacte pasci
Rex cælorum voluit.

Ave gemma coeli luminarium!
Ave Sancti Spiritus sacrarium!

O quam mirabilis,
et quam laudabilis
hæc est virginitas!
In qua per spiritum
facta paraclitum
fulsit foecunditas.

O quam sancta, quam serena,
quam benigna, quam amoena
esse Virgo creditur!
Per quam servitus finitur,
porta coeli aperitur,
et libertas redditur.

O castitatis lilium,
tuum precare filium,
qui salus est humilium:
Ne nos pro nostro vitio
in flebili judicio
subjiciat supplicio.

Sed nos tua sancta prece
mundans a peccati fæce
collocet in lucis domo.
Amen dicat omnis homo.


Hail Mary, hope of the world; hail, O gentle one, hail, O holy one; hail, O one full of grace.  Hail, O singular virgin who are signified by the bush untouched by flames.

Hail, O beautiful rose; hail, O rod of Jesse; whose fruit has loosened the bonds of our grief.

Hail, you whose womb has brought forth the Son against the leagues of death.  Hail, O one unrivaled: you have restored joy to a long grieving world.

Hail, O lamp of virgins, by whom the Light celestial has shone on those the darkness possessed.  Hail, O Virgin, from whom the King of Heaven willed to be born, and from whose milk he willed to be nourished.

Hail, O jewel of the lights of heaven!  Hail, O sanctuary of the Holy Spirit!

O how wonderful and how laudable is this virginity!  In which by the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, fruitfulness has shown forth.

O how holy, how fair, how gracious, how charming a Virgin she is regarded to be!  By whom our servitude is ended, the gate of heaven is opened, and our freedom is restored.

O lily of chastity, beseech your Son, he who is the salvation of the humble, lest we for our sin, in sad judgment, be subjected to punishment.

But by your holy supplication cleansing us from the dregs (fæces) of sin, may he place us in a habitation of light!

Let every man say Amen!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Scattered thoughts

In Magnificat this month, we find Ave mundi spes Maria, a hymn in which we learn, inter alia, that sin is shit. The hymn uses the very word!:

Sed nos tua sancta prece
Mundans a peccati fæce
Collocet in lucis domo.
Amen dicat omnis homo!

(in James Monti's unrhymed translation:

But by your holy supplication,
cleansing us from the dregs of sin,
may he place us in a habitation of light.
Let every man say Amen!)

"Dregs," indeed! "Fæces" is, well, feces. Fascinating. Didn't think you could use such language in a hymn to the Virgin Mary!


Drinking coffee at 4.30 am. Was awake, earlier, from something like 12 to 1.30. Was agitated most of the time, and felt like I wanted to hit someone really hard. I prayed -- desperately! -- which often doesn't "work," but shortly after praying my desperate prayer, I found myself peacefully in bed reading my 1991 New American Bible. Read the very bad translation of the Psalms, and some better passages of the New Testament (the Magnificat and Benedictus in Luke 1 are fairly well-rendered!). And of course, I read Wisdom chapter seven, which is my "icon." And the peace, after the agitation, was most welcome.

I also looked at the Magnificat booklet for August, where I discovered Ave mundi spes Maria.


Today is the feast of St John Vianney, the Curé of Ars. I knew a hospital chaplain who would affectionately refer to the unscholarly Curé as "the dumb priest," as he had difficulty with his studies, and might be a kind of patron for those who lack academic facility. You don't need to be book-smart to be a saint! And I read elsewhere that St John was subject to the most violent demonic pesterings. The devil would shake his bed!

Well, no need for the devil to go to such drastic measures with me. A bit of pique or a bit of fatigue or a bit of allurement for the eye, and I'm basically a goner. Thank Heaven that we have a Savior whose very name means "God saves"!




This Sunday we'll be getting the reading from Kings about Elijah listening for the voice of God, and not hearing it in the earthquake, the hurricane, the thunder, the wildfire, but rather in "a still, small voice." As the NAB renders it, "a tiny whispering sound." (Someone has to tell me how a "whispering sound" differs from a "whisper.")

But this ties in to what Heather King's been saying lately. God is non-violent! Of course, he will occasionally use (in C S Lewis's phrase) "a megaphone to rouse a sleeping world." But oftener than not, his persuasion is gentler. Quieter. Subtler.

It's said that the former communist Whittaker Chambers was instantly a believer in God when one night he got lost in the convolutions of his sleeping daughter's ear. That was his "road to Damascus": the beauty of his daughter's ear, as she slept.


Unrelated.  A fragment of a poem that I always liked:

The might of one fair face sublimes my love
For it hath weaned my heart from low desires:
Nor death I heed, nor purgatorial fires.
Thy beauty, antepast of joys above,
Instructs me in the bliss that saints approve.
For O, how sweet, how wonderful must be,
The God who made so good a thing as thee,
So fair an image of the heavenly Dove!

(attributed to Michelangelo)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


Maybe I should write a blank sonnet
in the manner of the late Robert Lowell --
topical, free, energetic, nervous,
yet not without evidence of erudition.

Maybe I should curl up with my rosary,
pondering the Woman in Wisdom chapter seven,
seeking the intercession of the Virgin,
drifting to sleep as angels finish my prayers.

Maybe I should pray Compline with the help
of the website that posts the breviary
to fortify the pious and the backsliding --

maybe I should lie abed, dreaming of heaven
as the AC breathes its husky litany
of grateful coolness in the August heat.

Dom Anscar Vonier, OSB

This, then, ought to be our great Christian mentality:
a readiness to admire the things of God,
a readiness to admit that he does great and marvellous things,
that he is great in nature;
great in heaven,
great in grace,
that he is the Creator of earth and heaven;
that, in the words of Our Blessed Lord,
heaven is God's throne and earth his footstool;
that there is nothing in the vast universe
which is not the handiwork of God,
and that therefore it is full of endless glories,
possibilities and marvels.
We have but one thing to do --
a very easy thing at first sight --
just to admire it,
to love it for its beauty and riches,
to clap our hands in surprise at its glories
and its mysteries.

(via Magnificat, July 2011)

Monday, August 01, 2011

And speaking of sonnets

Z at 365 Sonnets has written and posted his three hundred sixty-fifth!  This fine poet promises a 366th, as an epilogue or "epitaph."  We look forward to anything that Z has to offer, and pledge to explore with greater depth that which he has already written.

And we are glad to be reminded that he has another poetry blog, Some Turbid Night.  And from that blog, a poem that would favorably impress even the sternest reader, Mélisande.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Charles Vion d'Alibray

Maintenant qu'un air doux nous ramene un beau Jour,
Considere, Phyllis, cette Saison nouvelle,
Comme elle rit au Ciel, et luy parle d'amour,
C'est parce qu'elle est jeune, et parce qu'elle est belle.

Cette fleur qui blanchit les arbres d'alentour,
Ce n'est pas une fleur qui doive estre éternelle
Desja dedans son sein la terre la rappelle,
Desja le chaud hasté la brule à son retour :

Et tu perds cependant le temps de ta jeunesse
Sans suivre les advis d'une bonne Maistresse,
De Nature, qui monstre à chacun son devoir :

Ah si cette saison ne fond enfin ta glace,
Si pour te faire aimer elle a peu de pouvoir,
Qu'elle t'apprenne au moins comme la beauté passe.


(A paraphrase by Daniel Mark Epstein of the poem above may be found here.)