Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Martyrs of Revolution: the Carmelites of Compiegne

Today is the feast of the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne, France, who were put to death during the French Revolution on this day in the year 1794AD at the tail end of the Reign of Terror.

These blessed Carmelite martyrs were executed for their faithfulness to the Catholic Faith and their religious vows in the face of the demonic and militantly secularist French Revolutionary government of the Reign of Terror.

God chooses the weak, and makes them strong.  These little sisters were not broken by the fury and malice of that Revolution.

Their names:

They were beatified in 1906 by Pope St. Pius X.

For more:
Catholic Saints Info: Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne

Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne

The Martyrs of Compiegne by Newkirk

Their story was made into a novella, in 1931, by Gertrude von le Fort, entitle The Song at the Scaffold; a liberetto by Georges Bernanos; and based on the Bernanos text, an Opera by Francis Poulenc, Dialogues of the Carmelites in 1957.

The closing scene of the Opera by Poulenc -- the execution of the sisters -- is moving, indeed.  They sing a haunting version of the Salve Regina as, one by one, they are guillotined.  There is some introduction before the sound of the guillotine begins -- and it is heart wrenching to hear the voices dwindle to one, and then none:

Live well!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Pietro Novelli Our Lady of Carmel and Saints.JPG
Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saints, Pietro Novelli

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and seems a good moment to recall the history of this feast and the particular place the mountain, Mount Carmel, had in the Scriptures.

I would also note that it is possible for members of the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular to receive a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, today.  Order of Mt. Carmel: Confraternities

The following is the account of the Old Catholic Encyclopedia on today's feast:

"This feast was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title 'Commemoratio B. Marif Virg. duplex' to celebrate the victory of their order over its enemies on obtaining the approbation of its name and constitution from Honorius III on 30 Jan., 1226 (see Colvenerius, 'Kal. Mar.', 30 Jan. 'Summa Aurea', III, 737). The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock; it was first approved by Sixtus V in 1587. After Cardinal Bellarmine had examined the Carmelite traditions in 1609, it was declared the patronal feast of the order, and is now celebrated in the Carmelite calendar as a major double of the first class with a vigil and a privileged octave (like the octave of Epiphany, admitting only a double of the first class) under the title 'Commemoratio solemnis B.V.M. de Monte Carmelo'. By a privilege given by Clement X in 1672, some Carmelite monasteries keep the feast on the Sunday after 16 July, or on some other Sunday in July. In the seventeenth century the feast was adopted by several dioceses in the south of Italy, although its celebration, outside of Carmelite churches, was prohibited in 1628 by a decree contra abusus. On 21 Nov., 1674, however, it was first granted by Clement X to Spain and its colonies, in 1675 to Austria, in 1679 to Portugal and its colonies, and in 1725 to the Papal States of the Church, on 24 Sept., 1726, it was extended to the entire Latin Church by Benedict XIII. The lessons contain the legend of the scapular; the promise of the Sabbatine privilege was inserted into the lessons by Paul V about 1614. The Greeks of southern Italy and the Catholic Chaldeans have adopted this feast of the "Vestment of the Blessed Virgin Mary". The object of the feast is the special predilection of Mary for those who profess themselves her servants by wearing her scapular (see CARMELITES)."
[Source: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10604b.htm]

File:Caiobadner - mount carmel.JPG
Mount Carmel, in modern Israel.

Mount Carmel itself was the site of Elias (Elijah) challenging the pagans, as we read in 1 Kings 18:

"After many days, the word of the Lord came to Elias, in the third year, saying: Go, and show yourself to Achab, that I may give rain upon the face of the earth. 2 And Elias went to show himself to Achab, and there was a grievous famine in Samaria. 3 And Achab called Abdias the governor of his house: now Abdias feared the Lord very much. 4 For when Jezabel killed the prophets of the Lord, he took a hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty and fifty in caves, and fed them with bread and water. 5 And Achab said to Abdias: Go into the land unto all fountains of waters, and into all valleys, to see if we can find grass, and save the horses and mules, that the beasts may not utterly perish. 6 And they divided the countries between them, that they might go round about them: Achab went one way, and Abdias another way by himself. 7 And as Abdias was in the way, Elias met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said: Are you my lord Elias? 8 And he answered: I am. Go, and tell your master: Elias is here. 9 And he said: What have I sinned, that you would deliver me, your servant, into the hand of Achab, that he should kill me? 10 As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord has not sent to seek you: and when all answered: He is not here: he took an oath of every kingdom and nation, because you were not found. 11 And now you say to me: Go and tell your master: Elias is here. 12 And when I have gone from you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you into a place that I know not: and I shall go in and tell Achab; and he, not finding you, will kill me: but your servant fears the Lord from his infancy. 13 Has it not been told you, my lord, what I did when Jezabel killed the prophets of the Lord; how I hid a hundred men of the prophets of the Lord, by fifty and fifty in caves, and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now you say: Go and tell your master: Elias is here: that he may kill me. 15 And Elias said: As the Lord of hosts lives, before whose face I stand, this day I will show myself unto him. 16 Abdias therefore went to meet Achab, and told him: and Achab came to meet Elias. 17 And when he had seen him, he said: Are you he that troubles Israel? 18 And he said: I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house, who have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and have followed Baalim.  19 Nevertheless send now, and gather unto me all Israel, unto Mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, who eat at Jezabel's table. 20 Achab sent to all the children of Israel, and gathered together the prophets unto mount Carmel. 21 And Elias coming to all the people, said: How long do you halt between two sides? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word. 22 And Elias said again to the people: I only remain a prophet of the Lord: but the prophets of Baal are four hundred and fifty men. 23 Let two bullocks be given us, and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it upon wood, but put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under it. 24 Call on the names of your gods, and I will call on the name of my Lord: and the God that shall answer by fire, let him be God. And all the people answering, said: A very good proposal. 25 Then Elias said to the prophets of Baal: Choose you one bullock and dress it first, because you are many: and call on the names of your gods; but put no fire under. 26 And they took the bullock, which he gave them, and dressed it: and they called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying: O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered: and they leaped over the altar that they had made. 27 And when it was now noon, Elias jested at them, saying: Cry with a louder voice: for he is a god; and perhaps he is talking, or is in an inn, or on a journey; or perhaps he is asleep, and must be awaked. 28 So they cried with a loud voice, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till they were all covered with blood. 29 And after midday was past, and while they were prophesying, the time had come of offering sacrifice, and there was no voice heard, nor did any one answer, nor regard them as they prayed. 30 Elias said to all the people: Come unto me. And the people coming near unto him, he repaired the altar of the Lord, that was broken down: 31 And he took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob to whom the word of the Lord came, saying: Israel shall be your name. 32 And he built with the stones an altar to the name of the Lord: and he made a trench for water, of the breadth of two furrows, round about the altar. 33 And he laid the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid it upon the wood. 34 And he said: Fill four buckets with water, and pour it upon the burnt offering, and upon the wood. And again he said: Do the same the second time. And when they had done it the second time, he said: Do the same also the third time. And they did so the third time. 35 And the water run round about the altar, and the trench was filled with water. 36 And when it was now time to offer the holocaust, Elias, the prophet, came near and said: O Lord God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Israel, show this day that you are the God of Israel, and I your servant, and that according to your commandment I have done all these things. 37 Dear me, O Lord, hear me: that this people may learn that you are the Lord God, and that you have turned their heart again. 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the holocaust, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw this, they fell on their faces, and they said: The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God. 40 And Elias said to them: Take the prophets of Baal, and let not one of them escape. And when they had taken them, Elias brought them down to the torrent Cison, and killed them there."
[Source: http://www.newadvent.org/bible/1ki018.htm]

Later, of course, the first members of the Carmelite order lived on this mountain in the 12th century.  There patroness is Our Lady, Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death!

Live well!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Feast of St. Maria Goretti

29kb jpg holy card, artist unknown

Today is a feast day of a recent martyr for the virtue of holy purity, St. Maria Goretti (+1902), of Nettuno, Lazio, Italy.  She is such a splendid example of purity in our profoundly impure and immodest age -- she was willing even to die rather than consent to grave sin.  She not only showed the fortitude of her chastity in the face of an attack, but she also forgave her attacker on her very deathbed.  Here we have purity and charity in heroic form, and all of this in a girl of a tender 12 years of age.  God, indeed, chooses the weak and makes them strong.

This provides a link with a bit of information about St. Maria Goretti:
Catholic Saints Info: St. Maria Goretti

Here is the website of the site of his relics in Nettuno, Italy: Basilica of Our Lady of Grace and St. Maria Goretti

From that site, we have a splendid excerpt from the 1950AD homily of Pope Pius XII delivered on the occasion of her canonization -- this in the presence of her mother and repentant murderer:

"It is well known how this young girl had to face a bitter struggle with no way to defend herself. Without warning a vicious stranger burst upon her, bent on raping her and destroying her childlike purity. In that moment of crisis she could have spoken to her Redeemer in the words of that classic, The Imitation of Christ: 'Though tested and plagued by a host of misfortunes, I have no fear so long as your grace is with me. It is my strength, stronger than any adversary; it helps me and give me guidance.' With splendid courage she surrendered herself to God and his grace and so gave her life to protect her virginity. The life of a simple girl – I shall concern myself only with highlights – we can see as worthy of heaven. Even today people can look upon it with admiration and respect. Parents can learn from her story how to raise their God-given children in virtue, courage, and holiness; they can learn to train them in the Catholic faith so that, when put to the test, God’s grace will support them and they will come through undefeated, unscathed, and untarnished. From Maria’s story carefree children and young people with their zest for life can learn not to be led astray by attractive pleasures which are not only ephemeral and empty but also sinful. Instead they can fix their sights on achieving Christian moral perfection, however difficult that course may prove. With determination and God’s help all of us can attain that goal by persistent effort and prayer. Not all of us are expected to die a martyr‘s death, but we are all called to the pursuit of Christian virtue. So let us all, with God’s grace, strive to reach the goal that the example of the virgin martyr, Saint Maria Goretti, sets before us. Through her prayers to the Redeemer may all of us, each in his own way, joyfully try to follow the inspiring example of Maria Goretti who now enjoys eternal happiness in heaven."

This blogger's family has a particular devotion to St. Maria Goretti, having both a first class relic, and a daughter bearing the name of Marie in her honor.

St. Maria Goretti, pray for us!

Live well!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Neotibicen Cicadas & their Songs

Swamp Cicada (Tibicen tibicen) (14898035959).jpg
A handsome specimen of Neotibicen tibicen, the Swamp Cicada. 
["Swamp Cicada (Tibicen tibicen) (14898035959)" by Andrew C - Swamp Cicada (Tibicen tibicen). Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

As summer enters its mature stages, we are increasingly treated to the buzzing calls of the Cicadas of the genus Neotibicen across the Eastern United States.  These, unlike the Periodical Cicadas of the genus Magicicada who make their appearance every 17 or 13 years, are with us every year.  These unique bugs produce an incredibly loud and intense call that is unique to each species.  They are, for reference, members of the order Hemiptera (true bugs), and family Cicadidae.

An understanding of the individual species and their unique calls makes listening to their chorus that much more enjoyable.  The buzz of the Neotibicen is a far cry from the wail of the Magicicada -- as different as the greens and browns are from the reds and blacks in their appearance.  For more on the Magicicada, you might visit my earlier blog post: Brood II: A tale of three species

The genus of annual, or dog-day, Cicadas of the Eastern United States was, as of July 2015, split into multiple new genera from the original genus of Tibicen [which means "flute player" in Latin].  Those in Europe retain that generic name, but those in the Eastern USA are now designated Neotibicen  [So, "new-flute player;" appropriate for New World species.], while those in the Western USA are Hadoa [Apparently from the Apache for "singer."]  You can read the taxonomic paper that resulted in these changes here  Note especially the wonderful, and complete, photographs of the species on what are pages 19 and 20, and are labelled in the paper as 237 and 238: "Molecular phylogenetics, diversification, and systematics of Tibicen," by KATHY B. R. HILL, DAVID C. MARSHALL, MAXWELL S. MOULDS & CHRIS SIMON

For a variety of Cicada-related resources, you might note the aptly named website, Cicadamania.  They have an entire page on the Neotibicen Cicadas and their recent reclassification:
Cicadamania: Neotibicen Changes

Linne's Cicada (Neotibicen linnei) [Photo by blog author]

Each species of Neotibicen has a unique buzz -- so if you know their sound, you can identify the type of Cicada, even without seeing it.  Of course, the easiest way to learn which species of Cicada is buzzing in your backyard or on the roadside is to consult recordings.  Happily, there are a few quality sites to help you with just that!

This website, Insect Singers: Cicadas of the Eastern United States, is the best, in the sense of most thorough, I have found so far for cataloging the different species and their call.  Go ahead, listen, and see if you can figure out what that fellow singing in your tree is, specifically!

For a more brief and flashy presentation, you should visit this site, which, while not exhaustive, does have great photos and audio: Songs of Insects: Cicadas  This website is a companion to a Book & CD, The Songs of Insects of Elliot & Hershberger, which is splendid and includes not just Cicadas, but a variety of singing insects, including Katydids.

Sit back, take a siesta, and, if you are fortunate enough to live in the right area of this Earth, enjoy the buzzing of late summer!

Live well!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul, Apostles

Sts. Peter & Paul by El Greco.

Happy Feast of the Apostles, Peter and Paul!  St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, was not only the leader of the Apostles, but the first Patriarch of Antioch and first Pope of Rome.  St. Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, is a remarkable example of conversion, and was the author of so many of the Epistles of the New Testament.  These two men figure rather significantly as the foundation of the Church founded by Jesus Christ.

On this great feast of the patron saints of Rome, this following is a link to the great Basilicas dedicated to those two saints, and containing their tombs:
Papal Roman Basilicas

  Peter is shown as a bearded man in draped garment like a toga. He is seated on a chair made of marble, and has his right hand raised in a gesture of blessing while in his left hand he holds two large keys. Behind the statue, the wall is patterned in mosaic to resemble red and gold brocade cloth.Roma San Paolo fuori le mura BW 1.JPG

Above: Statue of St. Peter by Cambio at the Vatican Basilica; 
Below: Statue of St. Paul in front of his Basilica on the Via Ostia.

For more on the lives of these saints themselves, you might note:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Peter

Catholic Saints Info: St. Peter

Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Paul

Catholic Saints Info: St. Paul

You might also note that, on this feast day, a plenary indulgence is available, under the usual conditions, for visiting a Cathedral Church or a Minor Basilica and praying a Creed and Our Father.  Cf., Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, grant 33, § 1, 2° & 3°.

A plenary indulgence is also available today for members of the Confraternity of St. Peter.  Confraternity of St. Peter

This seems a good occasion to recall the origins of the tradition and role of St. Peter, and his successors, the Supreme Roman Pontiffs, or popes.  In other words, the Scriptural and historical basis for the Papacy.

First, we turn to the pages of Sacred Scripture:
From the Gospel of St. Matthew (16:15-19):
"Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?  Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the son of the living God.  And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."

Of course, in most languages, the word for Peter and for Rock is one and the same.

Next, we might note the charge given to St. Peter in the Gospel of St. John (21:17):
"He said to him a third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me?  Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me?  And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee.  He said to him: Feed my sheep."

As to the matter of succession, recall from the Acts of the Apostles, the expectation that someone would take the seat of Judas the Betrayer (Acts 1:15-20):
"1:15 In those days Peter rising up in the midst of the brethren, said (now the number of persons together was about an hundred and twenty): 16 Men, brethren, the scripture must needs be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was the leader of them that apprehended Jesus: 17 Who was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.18 And he indeed has possessed a field of the reward of iniquity, and being hanged, burst asunder in the midst: and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: so that the same field was called in their tongue, Haceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. 20 For it is written in the book of Psalms: Let their habitation become desolate, and let there be none to dwell therein. And his bishopric let another take."

Finally, St. Peter certainly acts with authority in the accounts of the New Testament as the Vicar of Christ who holds the keys of his master, as when he determined that new converts would not be held to the Jewish dietary restrictions.

In the writings of Christians, even from the early centuries, there is a clear understanding of the role of the successors of St. Peter who carry on in his chair.  Even the Orthodox, who deny the full understanding of the office, recognize that the successor of St. Peter, who is the Bishop of Rome, has a primacy of honor.

Turning then to the writings of the Church Fathers, we begin with Pope St. Clement I, who, around 80AD, wrote to settle a dispute in the Greek city of Corinth, even while the Apostle St. John was still alive in Asia Minor:
Our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop.  
For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned, and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry...If anyone disobeys the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger."

Next, the great St. Ignatius of Antioch, successor of Peter as bishop of Antioch, writing around 110AD, first in his letter to the Smyrnaeans and then in his letter to the Romans -- noting what he says about the city of Rome:
"You must follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as you would the Apostles.  Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God.  Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop.  Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints.  Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church."

"to the Church also which holds the presidency in the place of the country of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honor, worthy of blessing, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy of sanctification, and, because you hold the presidency of love, named after Christ and named after the Father: her therefore do I salute."

We move along to St. Irenaeus, second bishop of Lyon in France, student of St. Polycarp, who was a disciple of St. John the Apostle.  These quotations come from his work Against Heresies, written between 180 and 199AD:
"It is possible, then, for everyone in every Church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the Apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world.  And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the Apostles, and their successors to our own times...
            But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all of the Churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner…assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient Church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, that Church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the Apostles.  For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all Churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world; and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic tradition....
            The blessed Apostles [Peter and Paul], having founded and built up the Church [of Rome], they handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus…To him succeeded Anencletus; and after him, in the third place from the Apostles, Clement was chosen for the episcopate.  He had seen the blessed Apostles and was acquainted with them.  It might be said that he still heard the echoes of the preaching of the Apostles, and had their traditions before his eyes.  And not only he, for there were many still remaining who had been instructed by the Apostles.
            In the time of Clement, no small dissension having arisen among the brethren in Corinth, the Church in Rome sent a very strong letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace and renewing the faith…To this Clement, Evaristus succeeded; and Alexander succeeded Evaristus.  Then, sixth after the Apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him Telesphorus, who also was gloriously martyred.  Then Hyginus; after him, Pius; and after him, Anicetus.  Soter succeeded Anicletus, and now, in the twelfth place after the Apostles, the lot of the episcopate has fallen to Eleutherus.  In this order, and by the teaching of the Apostles handed down in the Church, the preaching of the truth has come down to us...
            It is necessary to obey those who are the presbyters in the Church, those who, as we have shown, have succession from the Apostles…But the rest, who have no part in the primitive succession and assembler wheresoever they will, must be held in suspicion."

Those, and many others, all date to the period before Constantine and the liberation of the Church.  Notice the tone and tenor does not change much after the Edict of Milan.

Here we have St. Ephraim the Syrian, and Doctor of the Church (+373AD), from one of his homilies:
"Simon, My follower, I have made you the foundation of the holy Church.  I betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its buildings.  You are the inspector of those who will build on earth a Church for me.  If they should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them.  You are the head of the fountain from which My teaching flows, you are the chief of My disciples.  Through you I will give drink to all peoples.  Yours is that life-giving sweetness which I dispense.  I have chosen you to be, as it were, the first-born in My institution, and so that, as the heir, you may be executor of my treasures.  I have given you the keys of my kingdom.  Behold, I have given you authority over all my treasures!"

Back in the Latin world, we have this from a letter of St. Jerome to the Bishop of Rome, Pope St. Damasus I, that commissioned him to translate the Sacred Scriptures in Latin.  It was under this pontiff that the canon of Scripture was finally settled.  St. Jerome writes thus in this letter from the 370sAD:
"I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but Your Blessedness, that is, with the chair of Peter.  I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built.  Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane."

The well-known St. Augustine, in his letter to Generosus of around 400AD, writes as follows:
"If the very order of Episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said: ‘Upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it.’  Peter was succeeded by Linus…"

We see the Popes themselves wielding their authority, as this address of Philip, the legate of Pope St. Celestine I to the Council of Ephesus (which affirmed Our Lady as Mother of God), in 431AD demonstrates:
"No one doubts, in fact, it is obvious to all ages that the holy and most Blessed Peter, head and Prince of the Apostles, the pillar of faith, and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the savior and the redeemer of the human race.  Nor does anyone doubt that the power of forgiving and retaining sins was also given to this same Peter who, in his successors, lives and exercises judgment even to this time and forever."

In the interest of keeping this blog post something short of a book, I have skipped and omitted a host of quotations that even I have found.  Noting then just a couple more to demonstrate the continuity, I include the following, beginning with Pope St. Leo IX, pontiff during the Great Eastern Schism of 1054, in a letter written by Cardinal Humbert to the Patriarch of Constantinople, and signed by Pope Leo in 1053:
"The holy Church has been built upon a rock, that is, upon Christ, and upon Peter or Cephas, the son of John, who was first called Simon.  It was so built because it never was to be conquered by the gates of hell, that is, by heretical opinions which lead the unwary to destruction…Is it not by the See of the Prince of the Apostles, namely, by this Roman Church, both by this same Peter and by his successors, that all the inventions of heretics stand condemned, exposed, and overcome?"

Finally, from the Council of Florence (1438-1445), which brought a temporary and superficial reunion between East and West, and was presided over by Pope Eugene IV:
"Likewise, we define that the Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff have primacy over the whole world, and that the same Roman Pontiff is the successor of St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and the true vicar of Christ, the head of the Church, the father and teacher of all Christians; and that to him, in the person of St. Peter, was given by our Lord Jesus Christ the full power of feeding, ruling, and governing the whole Church."

Live well!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

"Ipsum oportet crescere, me autem minui."  "He must increase, I must decrease." (John 3:30)

This statement embodies both St. John the Baptist and his sublime role in the salvation of mankind.  St. John was the forerunner, the "Vox clamantis in deserto : Parate viam Domini, rectas facite semitas ejus," "A voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths." (Mark 1:3) about whom our divine Lord said, " Amen I say to you, there has not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matthew 11:11)

St. John the Baptist by Titian, 1542AD.

St. John the Baptist is, as it were, the last character of the Old Testament, the final prophet, who, having "made straight the paths of the Lord" stepped aside in humility before his cousin, and Saviour.  From St. John we learn not only austerity and devotion to God, but humility and obedience.  His resolve in teaching the truth is, ultimately, a contributing factor to his execution by Herod.

For more on St. John the Baptist, be sure to check out:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. John the Baptist

Patron Saints Index: St. John the Baptist

This Feast of St. John is associated with bonfires, owing to its proximity to the Summer Solstice.  Go ahead, have a St. John's fire!  Here is the blessing of fire traditional for this time:

"Lord God, almighty Father, the light that never fails and the source of all light, sanctify + this new fire, and grant that after the darkness of this life we may come unsullied to you who are light eternal; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen."

It is interesting to note that this feast is associated with the origin of musical notes:
"The Benedictine monk Guido d’Arezzo (c. 990-1050) introduced the now familiar syllables ut re mi fa sol la for the tones of the hexachord c to a… or, more modally, the tonic, supertonic, mediant, etc. of a major scale. The Guidonian syllables derive from the hymn for the feast of St. John the Baptist:
UT queant laxis
REsonare fibris
MIra gestorum
FAmuli tuorum,
SOLve polluti
LAbii reatum,
Sancte Ioannes (SI)."
[Cf., http://wdtprs.com/blog/2015/06/23-june-vigil-of-st-john-bonfires-and-witch-burnings-solstices-and-snails/]

For a list of other details and customs associated with the feast, you might note:
Fisheaters: St. John's Day

I would also like to recall a few places and Churches associated with St. John the Baptist:

In Italy, the first city is that of Florence, whose patron Saint is the great precursor of Our Lord, St. John the Baptist.  Buona festa, Firenze!

The Duomo of Florence, Tuscany.

The Basilica in Italy to which I refer is that of St. John Lateran in Rome, the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome.  This Cathedral-Basilica, whose feast of 9 November, was originally dedicated to Our Divine Savior, but was also consecrated to both St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.  This link allows you to virtually visit the Pope's Cathedral: Archbasilica of St. John Lateran

File:Facade San Giovanni in Laterano 2006-09-07.jpg
The facade of St. John Lateran, in Rome, by Alessandro Galilei, 1735AD.

In North America, the Cathedral of the City of Savannah, Georgia, is named for St. John the Baptist:
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

To conclude, we turn then to St. John's, the port town on the island of Newfoundland that was named for St. John the Baptist, and its cathedral is a basilica named for the very same.  St. John's is, indeed, a delightful situated city, as the following picture attests:

File:St. John's, NFLD harbour.jpg
A view of the harbor of St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.
["St. John's, NFLD harbour". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

Here is a link to the Cathedral-Basilica of St. John the Baptist, in St. John's:
Basilica-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Finally, I leave you with a great little video which artistically features the sights and scenes of modern St. John's, Newfoundland, a city with a 500 year history (you can see the Basilica-Cathedral on the hillside at 0:52 into this video):

Live well!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Feast of St. Etheldreda


Today is the Feast of the Anglo-Saxon Saint, St. Etheldreda (+679AD).  She is also known as St. Audrey or, in another form, Audra.

She was a member of the royal family of East Anglia, the daughter of the king, became the queen of Northumbria, and, when widowed, founded a monastery in Ely, England.  When her body was moved in the 12th century, it was still incorrupt.

Here is a bit more information on this saint, little known outside England:
Catholic Saints Info: Saint Etheldreda

This is the account in the Old Catholic Encyclopedia:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Etheldreda

This link goes to the site of the Church of St. Etheldreda in London, England:
St. Etheldreda's Church, London

Live well!