It’s a day late for the feast, but perhaps some of our small yet select readership might be interested in this poem to St Athanasius that I recently came acros. Despite the archaizing style, it seems from the content to be reasonably contemporary.

‘At Alexandria, the birthday of St Athanasius, bishop of that city, most celebrated for sanctity and learning. Amost all the world had formed a conspiracy to persecute him’ (from the Roman Martyrology for 2nd May)

Athanasius! Thou art living at this hour

Though night has seized and manned each highest tower

Where sons of light in opium’s pleasant power

Lie sleeping still, or ‘wake but speechless cower;

As once across the Alexandrine main

Thou gazed’st and saw’st the world dissolve again

In weakness, whom the true Son’s blessed pain

Had scarce delivered from the unclean reign.

   For Him thou wander’dst then in every land.

   The Gallic snows thou felt’st upon thy face

   And lay’st concealed amid the pious sand

   While Caesar’s thundering armies sought thy trace.

   Five times a beggar, six times thou held’st the throne.

   Father, but once, restore us to our own.

The prophet Zechariah once had a vision of four successive chariots, each pulled by a pair of horses, emerging between two brazen mountains. The first pair of horses were red, the second black, the third white and the fourth were grey and strong. What does it all mean, he asked the angel?

The angel told him:

These are the four winds of the heaven, which go forth to stand before the Lord of all the earth. That in which were the black horses went forth into the land of the north, and the white went forth after them: and the grisled went forth to the land of the south. And they that were most strong, went out, and sought to go, and to run to and fro through all the earth.

Adapting an exposition of Pope Gregory IX, we can see this as a reference to the four great religious rules in the Church. The earliest is that of St Basil. He is symbolized by the red or chestnut horses, since this is the closest a horse can be to the imperial colour: and his very name means king or emperor. His horses are not said to go to some new location, since Catholic religious life in the East has on the whole not moved far, down the centuries, from those places where it began.

The black horses represent the rule of St Benedict, and in their chariot are the black monks. Starting in Monte Cassino, or Nursia if you prefer, they “went forth into the land of the north,” and filled it with their monasteries.

The white horses stand for the rule of St Augustine. Why do these ‘go forth after’ the black ones, when Augustine lived a hundred years before Benedict? Perhaps because the Orders which have perpetuated his rule in the Church are ones that came later – the Premonstratensians and the Dominicans. These Orders also go forth after, that is, imitate, the Benedictines in being committed to a solemn choral office. The religious of these two Orders wear white, hence the white horses.

The last of the great rules is that of St Francis, symbolised by the strong, grey horses pulling his chariot of grey friars. Why do they go to the land of the south? At first I wondered if this could be a reference to the evangelisation of South America; but the Dominicans were prominent in this as well. Perhaps then it stands for some future great effort of evangelisation of the Muslims, foreshadowed by the early Franciscan martyrs of north Africa, and by St Francis’s own attempt, ultimately successful according to the Fioretti, to convert the sultan of Egypt. May then the strong sons of Francis go forth against the sons of Mahomet and slay them, with the sword not of steel but of the Spirit!

The other day, I went to Australia on business, as one does. (Now, this is only my third time outside Europe, and I have never been so far away, or on the southern hemisphere at all, so I was reasonably excited about it.)

Through a concatenation of planning failures on the part of various parties, I ended up in Canberra with three more days to stay and no plans of what to do. The current Plan B (or C) had suddenly come to nought due to my guidebook cheerfully asserting that German driving licences were valid in Australia – true – but omitting the fact that you need an official translation into English to go with them (or else an International Driving Licence, in English). I could have got one easily, earlier on, if any of the many Germans experienced in travelling, and driving, in Australia, and to whom I talked about my rather spontaneous plan of hiring a car, had mentioned this interesting fact. As it was, I had just spent several hours well into the night planning the details of my trip for the next day when I became aware of the complication. Having spent another hour or so trying to find ways around it, and failing, I was quite distraught: There I was, in Australia, maybe for the only time in my life, and for the want of a nail, as it were, I was condemned to spend my time in probably the least exciting city of Australia.

Now, I was probably somewhat unfair on Canberra. They are really quite good at monumental official architecture, even though the German in me has to stifle some internal trauma stirring inside to properly appreciate it. (And this photograph of the War Memorial does not capture the whole thing at its best.)

Now, I was probably somewhat unfair on Canberra. They are really quite good at monumental official architecture, even though the German in me has to stifle some internal trauma stirring inside to properly appreciate it. (And this photograph of the War Memorial does not capture the whole thing at its best.)


They also have one of the tallest fountains in the world there (147 meters). All the more impressive in such a dry place. (Do not be fooled by the green you see: apperently this lushness is unusual even for spring.)

Aelianus, who, unluckily for him, was on Skype at that time, had the questionable privilege of having the situation explained to him, with all concomitant complications and complexities and interspersed with exclamations of utter despair and frustration, via Skype messaging (I had left my headset at home). After making a number of constructive suggestions (such as sending me the link of the Canberra TLM people’s blog, and telling me to visit Mr. Abbot and convince him that what he needs most is to hire me), Aelianus finally said that I just had to focus on the fact that, for some reason, God wanted me to be in Canberra on Sunday – maybe I would meet really interesting people to talk to at church. “I never meet people at church”, I protested, “and how utterly boring would it be to spend my time talking to people when there is so much Australia around to explore!”


So much exciting Australia all around!

However, the thought gradually sunk into me that, actually, it should be possible to trust in Providence in what was, if you really looked at it objectively, not the single most important and dramatic thing ever happening to me in this life. With some internal grumbling I finally achieved some sort of resignation – most likely, I thought, I would have died in a terrible accident after hitting a kangaroo if I had made the scheduled trip with the hired car. As it turned out, however, Aelianus had spoken in an eerily prophetic way…

To be continued tomorrow.

So next Friday, work takes me off to the antipodes, to be poisoned either by spiders that lurk in shady corners even in cities (!) or by evil jellyfish that either (i) are small enough to swim through protective nets at beaches, or (ii) reach through protective nets with meters-long tentacles (all according to my travel guide that tries to get people to go there!) And my colleagues have been quite horrified that I am leaving on Friday the 13th. Is there quite as noxious a superstition about this in Britain as there is here? Anyway, after pooh-poohing this notion, tonight I was checking the liturgical calendar (NO) for the time I would be away. So whose commemorations are on (Friday) 13 September? My very own pseudonymous patron saint, St. Notburga (yes, I am very bad about remembering saints’ days), and: St. Tobit and St. Tobias. Well…

*there were meant to be ten, but I miscounted

During my recent trip to Italy, I made the extremely spontaneous decision of, in the 11 hours between the end of my business and my train back, to make a quick dash for Venice. I spent a full 7 h there, so here are my insider tips for visiting this place –  which is definitely worth it, no matter how short the time.


The Canale Grande. Great to see when you did not expect to until some few hours before you actually do.

1. Everything is expensive in Venice. This includes luggage deposit at the station. It is 5 € for the first 5 hours, plus 70 cent per hour after that.It is also very much worth it.

Venice, it is said, has some 400 bridges. I am not sure whether this can be right, because while I definitely visited only a small part of the main island, and did not retrace my steps to any large extent, I feel rather certain that I have covered close to that number of bridges during my stay. Keeping in mind that most of the roads are close to the water level, while bridges have to ensure that the gondolier can pass under them standing; this means: stairs. So, no fun with trolley suitcases.

2. Everything is expensive in Venice. This includes toilets. Public toilets are 1,50 € (!) in both station and city. The better option is to go to some non-too touristy cafe and have a cafè (or even a cappuccino, you wimp, even if it is already in the afternoon, because even there they will know that tourists will have cappuccino in the afternoon (the barbarians!), and anyway, the coffee or cappuccino will be excellent, and no more than 3.50 €, probably, and given you can use the toilet for free (and refill your water bottle; do not underestimate the price of actually buying drinking water [is the running water there drinking water ?, my Inner German asks, only to be silenced quickly with no adverse after effects])) this is a great bargain. And, at least if you are female, you might try offering 50 cents for using the toilet without bying anything (in the less touristy areas, at least), and the good-looking barkeeper will give you access for free. Chivalry apparently survives in Italy.

3. Probably many friends will have told you how Venice is just not worth visiting, being stinky, decaying, and flooded with tourists. To which I have to say: Visiting in winter or spring may be a good idea, stink- (and probably tourist-) wise, compared to summer. Also: Yes, as soon as you leave the Piazza San Marco and its surroundings, much of the beauty of Venice is a decaying beauty. But then, it is decaying rather charmingly. Thirdly, you have to take the hordes of tourists as a sight in themselves. Of course the narrow alleys of Venice (some not much more than  1 m wide) were not made to channel 30 Mio. of tourists per year. Enjoy the incongruity. Enjoy also the groups of street traders, and if so inclined, make a sociological study of them. When I was there, there was a group of Indian-looking ones, selling rubber spherical objects in the shape of pigs, eggs, strawberries, and other things, which, being thrown down forcefully, dissolved into a puddle, just to re-solidify with a ‘pop’ again. This group changed, after dark, to the sale of propellor-powered, LCD-lighted objects that rise with great velocity to glide gently down. There was also a group of African-looking street traders selling handbags, apparently fake trademark ones, and the same models through the whole of Venice.


Would have loved to make a better photograph of the pig-puddle, but did not dare to show any obvious interest, obviously.


Well, you could not expect me to make a photograph when it was really crowded.

4. Somewhat connected to that: Decide, as you set your foot on Venice soil (or whatever it is you set your foot on there in this amphibious place), that you will not buy anything. I repeat this again for all female readers. There is an awful load of trash sold there (one word: masks), and an awful load of overpriced designer stuff, but in between, there is some rather fine and beautiful Murano glass jewelery, glassware, and the like. However, if you try to find these amongst hoax and trash, you will go mad. Believe me and ignore them, other than as a pleasant visual stimulus in the shop windows.


This is what I mean.

5. Venice is stunning. Walk into any random church, and you will  find, casually displayed,  the relics of some spectacular saint (like St. Roq), and/or frescoes or oil paintings by really famous painters, such as Tintoretto or Bellini. There are some few churches charging as much a 10 € for entry (ptui!), but then, as you will wish to go to Mass anyway, just note down Mass times and go there then. In drastic contrast to my previous experience with Italy, nearly every church has a list of Mass times at their main doors.


Did not go to that church (San Giorgio Maggiore, or so, I think), but probably has impressive relics/paintings/frescoes as well.

6. St. Mark’s Cathedral, can we praise it too much, does not charge you for entry. You are not allowed to take backpacks and luggage, but there is a nearby place, both advertised by placards at the queuing site, and yet extremely obscure in real life, and: for free (!!), that takes your luggage for one hour (I took a wee bit longer on account of meeting a North American group having a very correct though swift Mass in English there, and no-one said anything to me.) But: If you really want to get as close as possible to St. Mark, you have to pay (only 2 €, so no big deal). However, this is not for seeing the sarcophagus of St. Mark, but for seeing the Pala d’Oro. All right with me, in a way, but if not a good friend (Magdalena, who occasionally honours us with her comments here at Laodicea) had pointed this out for me, I would never have found St. Mark. His body is under the high altar (obviously, in a way, but then again so inconspicuously that one might very well miss him.) Now this is really impressive, isn’t it?

7. The Piazza San Marco, World Heritage Site. On first entering, I thought: Well, there it is. ‘s quite all right.
It took me a while to get my mind into the frame of looking at it as what it is, and not at the thing seen  innumerable times in photographs and films. Again, it was not made as a World Heritage Site. It was built, in the way it is now, in the 16th cent., and as far as the proclamation of ‘We have power, we have wealth, and we have good taste, too’ goes, it is probably the most impressive thing I have met yet. Yes, there are these Baroque and Rococco castles, but they seem to imply decadence as well as power and wealth. The Procuratie Vecchie, on the other hand, seems to imply ruthless efficiency. Looking at the Piazza and the pillars at the landing site, I still felt the slight terror of someone of a lesser power, or of lesser importance, landing in 16th cent. Venice and just hoping to get back again without any grievous damages.

8. Even today, the Italian Navy seems to be stationed in Venice. There were handsome young Italian Navy officers in dark blue coats leaving the area of the Venetian Arsenal. This was quite striking for a current reader of Hornblower (I feel a blog post on that coming up, for sure).


The Venice Arsenal. Really impressive when you think of the seapower once behind it. I did not get a good photograph of the good-looking young navy officers, though.

9.  Thanks to Magdalena, I had the information that a very short distance from the main tourist attractions might take you to another world. Now, my uninformed spontaneous ambition was to go to the Isola St Pietro. I promptly got lost after the Pizza San Marco (Look at Google Maps and decide if you wouldn’t have been so, too). And I found myself in places of even more charming decay, and washing drying on lines spanning the narrow lanes, and not seeing a living, breathing human being for minutes on end, just some 10 minutes from St. Mark’s. Now these places are extremely picturesque and romantic and they probably do not set out to rip of tourists as they do elsewhere (in fact here is where handsome young Italian barkeepers let you use toilets for free), but still everything is rather expensive here. And yet, curiously real, not at all Disneyfied, from the man going walkies with his dog [insert here peculiarities connected with walking your dog in an amphibious lagoon city], to what our British friends would call working class people going shopping with bags and little trolleys (no cars there, remember) in the more remote parts of Old Town Venice.

Decaying – but charmingly!


Papal Court – well…


A building site. No cars.

10.  Unless you are awfully acutely in love with someone (I wonder: would this be a sufficient excuse?) – do not go by gondola. Smile charitably at the gondoliere, and take a bus. Or whatever they call it there. I did not do it, but given that public transport is on the water, in cannot be ruinously expensive, and this would be what I’d do most certainly do the next time I was in Venice.


A ‘bus’ (or whatever) stop.

11. You might think, with your night train leaving at  10 pm, and your cunning (see points 2, 4, 9 and 10)  having you saved quite some money, you might have a beer before taking your train. Well, what do you think prices are for a beer (0.3 l) drunk at a table in the vicinity of ~10 min walk of the station? You say 8 €? Congratulation, you have won full points.

If you do not like this, you might wish to try an entirely new experience: drinking (non-too bad Dutch) beer from  a tin (only 3 €) on the stairs in front of the railway station. Although it being Venice St. Louis Railway Station, with a view on the Grand Canale, might rob it of some of its sordidity.

I received an email a few weeks ago asking that I lay out my views on the origin of social authority in the family as opposed to contract or consent. I am not sure if they are fully formed…. but here goes.

The basic difference between Catholic and Modern views on the origin of political authority lies in the gulf between realism and nominalism. The rejection of the reality of universals necessarily entails the rejection of the social nature of man. Man’s social nature therefore cannot be the basis of civil authority. Nevertheless, there are Catholic authorities (albeit Jesuits) who hold that even though the authority of the state comes from nature and so from God it is mediated through the people because, in the event that the state were dissolved by some cataclysm, social authority would revert to a pure democracy. This pure democracy would then function as a constitutional convention bestowing legitimacy on the form of government its constituents elect to impose upon themselves and their descendants. What is the alternative to this account?

The family is the alternative. Man’s social nature is most obviously displayed in his dependant condition at birth, his need for sustenance, protection, socialisation and education, the frame of the male and female bodies and the need of the latter for protection and sustenance from the former while she provides their offspring with sustenance, protection, socialisation and education. The end of man in the-most-excellent-reciprocal-willing-of-the-good-of-the-best-possible-other demands the exemplary friendship of the child’s parents in the indissoluble bond of matrimony. The family and not the individual is the fundamental unit of civil society. Indeed, only two factors obstruct the simple identity of the family with civil society: a) the impossibility of marriage within the family b) the supernatural end of man. Because human beings cannot marry their kin without escalating disastrous consequences the family cannot perpetuate itself without forming a wider society that transcends itself. St Thomas points out in the De Regno that because the actual end of man in this order of providence is supernatural the true King can only be He Who unites man to the Divine Nature in Beatitude – Jesus Christ. Thus all the Kings of the Christian People must be subject to Christ’s Vicar, the Roman Pontiff, as to Himself.

How does this logic impact upon the question of the state of society at its actual beginning in time and in some hypothetical moment of destruction and re-constitution? Revelation has some very interesting light to shed upon these questions. It is clear from Genesis that the effects of the Fall have a progressive element. With each successive generation between the Fall and the Flood the life span of the antediluvian patriarchs diminished. According to Augustine’s interpretation our first parents possessed complete control of all their bodily functions. On this principle it ought to have been possible for them to beget pairs of children who, through a judicious distribution of chromosomes, were scarcely related to each other at all. If, as Genesis seems to imply, the loss of the praeternatural gifts was in some sense progressive then the key natural factor which prevents the family from being an unqualifiedly perfect society is removed. What of the supernatural factor? This too is resolved by revelation. For originally Adam would have transmitted sanctifying grace by generation to all of his descendants so this Adamic familial commonwealth would have truly fulfilled St Thomas’s requirements to qualify as a perfect community.

The Fall, of course, dramatically alters this but it does not abolish it altogether. Adam was still the recipient of revelation capable of conveying saving truth. The distinction between the family and the state was established by the Fall but (if we are right about the delayed removal of the praeternatural gifts) it was not yet applied. Likewise, the fact that the perfect exercise of the evangelical counsels is rendered by the Fall incompatible with property, marriage and  autonomy establishes the distinction between priesthood and kingship (because, in fallen man, the state of perfection required by priesthood is incompatible with the requirements of kingship) but the delayed effect of the Fall postpones the necessity of investing these offices in separate persons. Adam passes the plenipotentiary sovereignty of the human race to Seth, Seth to Noah, Noah to Shem (who I am assuming is Melchizedek), Melchizedek to Abraham, Abraham to Isaac, Isaac to Jacob and Jacob to the people of Israel as a whole. In the Exodus the full distinction between family and commonwealth, priesthood and magistracy is established. These successions pass down through the Levites and the scribes, the judges and the Davidic line until they converge once more in the Messiah Who reigns for ever and administers the Church militant through St Peter and the Apostles and their successors down to the end of time (ideally assisted by a suitably docile temporal power).

This resolves the question of a hypothetical moment of social destruction and re-constitution. The unqualifiedly perfect society in this world – the City of God – The Catholic Church – is indestructible and will endure until the end of time. The hypothesis of social destruction and re-constitution can never be realised. The question of the nature and prerogatives of the family in the abstract is best answered in the eloquent words of the Irish constitution, “The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.” The contingency upon the Divine Will of man’s actual end in any order of providence means that the sovereign authority in the perfect society can necessarily only be established by positive revelation – even were man’s end merely proportionate to his nature. As it is, God made us for Himself and the sovereignty is taken by the Divine King Jesus Christ Himself and wielded on earth through the power of the keys.

Forty-five hours ago I set foot, for the first time of my life, on Chinese soil (or, for that matter, on non-European soil at all).  I would have written a brilliant and detailed essays on my reflection, indeed, I had written a witty and thoughtful piece of some 2000 words – which was eaten by wordpress. I a steaming with vexation. Nevertheless, a helpless and impatient second attempt; just jutting down my thoughts as they come (and no guarantee for spelling / grammar / language given).

1. Forty-five hours. Already I miss bread. Never would I have thought that I am one of those people who within a day pine for simple, plain European food. Or in fact, for simple, plain rice. Rice and noodles seem to be so much the staple food here, that at a really good dinner, you are given enough more expensive stuff to gorge yourself so that it would be lowering the tone to offer something as simple as rice. Today’s dinner, as yesterday’s dinner and lunch, were eaten at big round tables with a revolving glass plate in the middle. At the beginning of the meal, this plate contains eight (or nine, I forget) starters. One by one, eight (or nine, whatever) main courses are added. You turn the plate (taking care no-one just has their chopsticks in anything to serve themselves) and choose what you like. This enables you to avoid chicken feed, accusingly-looking crabs, thousand-years-eggs, pig’s ears, turtle and other not easily identifiable stuff without too much offence. In general, anything I had was very well cooked, but still there were some – surprises – as to taste and texture that made me rather careful the second day. I would not have thought how demoralising the uncertainty into what culinary experience one’s next choice of dish will plunge one can become after a while. This morning, at any rate, I already made a straight bee-line towards a lowly side table, ignoring all the tables with (probably) mouth-watering Chinese dishes, right, to find some sourt of buns, butter, little cream cakes, coffee and milk. I am never too adventurous before coffee, I have to say. Give me your steamed taro, if you must, but not for breakfast.

2. So far, we have spent most of our time in the hotel. It is a curious mixture of probably being one of the grandest hotels I have stayed at, with seemingly at least twice the staff one would expect, and yet sporting, spread over the building, non-flushing / non-locking / raining (probably some water damage somewhere) toilets. The rooms are furnished very tastefully, even if the elegance is somewhat faded. I could give balls in mine (but the very high-up window looks out on some service roof).

3. Jet-lag must be a myth. What knocked me down yesterday was a night with only four hours of fitful and uncomfortable sleep. In the ensuing haze in which I spent the day, my body could not have cared less what time it ‘actually’ was and took darkness outside and the completion of the third square meal that day as sufficient indicators that it was now night, even though it might ‘really’ be only 4 pm. It likewise slept like a stone and was no more reluctant to get up in the morning at 7.30 pa than it would have been had it not ‘in fact’ been 1.30 am.  I guess having an utterly random night-and-day rhythm even when one is not joining the jet set sufficiently confuses one’s body clock after a while to send it off with a frustrated ‘whatever’ whenever anything irregular happens.

4. The spaciousness of my room feels all the more decadent as flats are probably none too large around here. There are many pretty newly built large houses, some of which, however already have a somewhat lived-in look. Nearly all have outside drying facilities for washing, be the place for these ever so improbable. For all that, what we have seen looks all pretty European. One is nearly glad (in a way) to get the occasional glimpse in a curvy, narrow side street, or into a tiny shop stuffed with a seemingly haphazard collection of goods and apparently the family’s dinner table behind the last shelf. In the ‘picturesquely Chinese’ category there were also bamboo building scaffolding, tiny little food stalls, and transport bicycles laden with ridiculously large piles of cartons.

5. Though large roads have bicycle lanes that would put European cities to the blush – they are some four or five meters wide and entirely separate from the road, packed with both bicycles and motor cycles – roads in general are full of cars and mini busses. When we drove in one, I voluntarily fastened my seat belt. It is hard to perceive if ‘red’ means ‘go’ and ‘green’ ‘stop’, or the other way round. The people with whom I travel, being scientists, tried the empirical approach, but data were to conflicting to allow any conclusions. These colours nevertheless seem to have some significance, as next to each traffic light there is a countdown showing the seconds up to the next change of colours. Not many people seem to pay attention. Instead, blowing one’s horn appears to be the main way of negotiating; there are even ‘don’t hoot here’ signs.

6. Though Aelianus would say that, as a non-British, this is my natural state anywhere, I feel very much that I am a foreigner here. Never have I felt so obviously and so foreign a foreigner. It is not only the language – I have, at least, by myself, identified the signs for ‘fire’, ‘door’ and ‘China/Chinese’. I also fear with every step that I am doing something wrong. Come to that, I probably do. Ever heard that in some Asian countries exchanging cards is an important part of good manners in business settings? So did I, only I just remembered when I was offered one for the first time, and, for the first time in four years, was not in possession of any of my own (having just changed jobs, and waiting for my final certificate to put the ‘Dr.’ on them). That said, everyone is very kind and friendly, no-one made me feel the rude foreigner so far, but still.

7. Given the culinary, and other, stress, one is grateful not only for coffee, but even more for beer, even if it is some sort of Chinese Lager. However, even this has its pitfalls, since their seem to be rather elaborate toasting customs. Apparently, in a group of forty at three tables, in the course of the evening everyone gets up once, and speaks a toast not only at their own, but at the two other tables as well, and separately chinks glasses with everyone (moving around the table) before either everyone drinking a little, or everyone draining their glasses. During this ceremony, those not saying the toast either sit, or stand. This seems to be related to hierarchy, and I might have figured out eventually, had not the German  senior scientists sitting at my table, themselves clouless, apparently had confused even the Chinese sitting with us. Only two or three of the German delegation voluntarily made their round. A third one, as the youngest member of that delegation, was most politely invited by the Chinese host to do so. I guess I got through it quite creditably, though.

This was the last coin minted in Scotland before the Union of the Crowns. James VI took many of them south with him when he assumed the throne of England. For the first time since the death St Edward the Confessor the head of the Royal House of Wessex, the heir of St Margaret, sat upon the English throne. In this way the prophecy of St Cuthbert to Alfred the Great on the Isle of Athelney was finally fulfilled “All Albion is given to you and your sons”. James VI was baptised into the one fold of the redeemer but abducted from his mother and raised apart from the Catholic Church. His son would be the only Stuart monarch never at any time to have been a Catholic. The sceptre and sword of Scotland depicted on the coin were the gifts of Popes Alexander VI and Julius II respectively (the former being the founder of the University of Aberdeen).  Together with the crown they symbolise the three aspects of human law: the Ius Civile, Ius Gentium and Ius Naturale. They are surrounded by the maxim upon which the supremacy of the Holy See over all earthly sovereigns is founded: The Salvation of the People is the Supreme Law. Once it is baptised a country, like an individual, can never cease to be Catholic it can only cease to be itself.

The Missionaries of the Divine Mercy. I’m afraid I’ve not read everything and made a careful digest, so I myself have many questions. But somehow the idea … aj, I’m once more all dewy-eyed. I think I am at the moment possibly even more enamoured of them than I am of the Wonderful Petites Soeurs.

Our community was born of the meeting of two men, two pastors: Dominique Rey, bishop of the diocese of Frejus-Toulon, and abbé Fabrice Loiseau, then a priest of the FSSP. The bishop was looking for a community attached both to the old rite and to diocesan unity, the priest was seeking that same unity and the possibility of being profoundly missionary through the spirituality of the Divine Mercy.

After many meeting in the diocese, including evangelisation camps on the beaches of Var [region of France], the project of the community was born as a response to these aspirations. Frs Jean-Raphaël Dubrule and Eloi Gillet, then seminarians, joined the project and completed their formation at the diocesan seminary at La Castille. Other young men joined the community and became diocesan seminarians at La Castille, where they prayed the liturgy of Paul VI during the week and the traditional liturgy at the weekend in the parish, and during their apostolate.

The Society of the Missionaries of the Divine Mercy was born in September 2005, as an association of diocesan right attached to the diocese of Frejus-Toulon.

Three pillars emerged naturally

– witness to Mercy, as Christ revealed it to sr Faustina

– a great eucharistic devotion, with a particular attachment to the celebration of the liturgy in the rite of St Pius V, in the spirit of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum

a missionary zeal for the New Evangelisation, especially among the muslims.

Here’s (sorry, can’t get it to embed) a video featuring three different priests, one of which is the of the MDM (no, not that MDM). It’s in Frog, but there are nice pictures (custody of the eyes warning, lots of underdressed fit bodies of both sexes at the beginning – bit of a mission minefield, I’d have thought …)

If you read any French, their website looks interesting.

Priests on the Rails – the occasionally updated blog of the Scottish Clergy Railway Circle.


With esoteric patristic references in the comboxes.

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