music


Then that old Seer made answer playing on him
And saying, ‘Son, I have seen the good ship sail
Keel upward, and mast downward, in the heavens,
And solid turrets topsy-turvy in air:
And here is truth; but an it please thee not,
Take thou the truth as thou hast told it me.
For truly as thou sayest, a Fairy King
And Fairy Queens have built the city, son;
They came from out a sacred mountain-cleft
Toward the sunrise, each with harp in hand,
And built it to the music of their harps.
And, as thou sayest, it is enchanted, son,
For there is nothing in it as it seems
Saving the King; though some there be that hold
The King a shadow, and the city real:
Yet take thou heed of him, for, so thou pass
Beneath this archway, then wilt thou become
A thrall to his enchantments, for the King
Will bind thee by such vows, as is a shame
A man should not be bound by, yet the which
No man can keep; but, so thou dread to swear,
Pass not beneath this gateway, but abide
Without, among the cattle of the field.
For an ye heard a music, like enow
They are building still, seeing the city is built
To music, therefore never built at all,
And therefore built for ever.’

 

I have been reflecting penitently on the harshness of my comments about American Greek Catholics. One thing to which I did not do justice is the sheer beauty of the innocence of Americans. There is a naivety which is inseparable from American culture. It is genuinely inseparable. The increasingly predominant liberal elite in the USA is just as naive. They remind me of nothing so much as the sneering simulated worldliness of the angry abused child. They are just as heart-breaking to watch and to listen to. Dying Europe is the parental abuser for whom the liberal elite nourish the characteristic self-destructive hatred/loyalty. The naivety in the hearts of those whose innocence has been preserved and immortalised by supernatural wisdom is piercing and convicting in its beauty but still difficult to accept for a wizened old European. The USA demands the same indulgence for its vulgarities and misunderstandings as any enthusiastic adolescent. Adolescence lasts a lot longer nowadays.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Oh Camellia sinensis!

Each time the kettle starts to hiss,

Oh praise Him! Alleluia!

Dihydrogen monoxide too,

Infuse their leaves the whole way through!

Oh praise Him! Oh praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

(more…)

Canon in honour of St. Thomas Aquinas: Ode I

 

by John Plousiadenos (1429 – 1500)

Longing to praise the famous teacher of theology,
I approach You, O Christ, as one of infirm utterance.
Inspire me with wise speech so that I may worthily adorn him
by songs and harmonious melodies.

As a star from the West he illumined the Church of Christ:
The musical swan and subtle teacher,
Thomas, the wholly blessed, called Aquinas the sagacious.
Coming before him let us cry: Hail, teacher of the universe!

Sweet-smelling and pleasant myrrh gushed forth
from the precious coffin in which your all-holy
and lawgiving body reposes, most reverend father,
teacher of piety and the opponent of impiety.

savonarola

Given recent events and fittingly given Cordatus’s last three posts I have rather succumbed to the allure of Fra Girolamo Savonarola. I have always found the great Dominican intriguing but a healthy dose of old English ultramontanism held me back from too doting an admiration. Ultramontanism is not what it was. One sobering thought is the fact that Savonarola himself repudiated his revelations (albeit under the most appalling torture). Still, St Joan had to retract her own recantation so this failing is not irreconcilable with sanctity. It is startling how many saints had a devotion to Fra Girolamo and also what an influence he had on artists and composers. This is William Byrd’s setting of Savonarola’s meditation on Psalm 50 expressing his sorrow about the false confession exracted from him under torture.

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