Pious stuff



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!



“O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O Ark of the Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides”

Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296–373 AD) , Homily of the Papyrus of Turin


One could be suffused with anxiety looking at the various goings on at the minute (Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, Congregation of Bishops etc.).

Yet, the birth of Christ is approaching, so rejoice!

Tu Es Petrus – oh for a crystal clear recording…

An Update on the Dome of Home in the Wirral, the home of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

Let us pray for holy Bishops like Bishop Mark Davies.

Let us pray for our Nuncio, Archbishop Mennini.

Can’t remember when I last had occasion to write about anything pious on this blog. So, due to this and also due to the need I feel to get over the humiliation of having made the most awful scripture-knowledge blunder just now, I gladly forsake my lecture on nitrogen in grasslands to let you partake of the following:

Just now, I was talking to Aelianus about Our Lord telling St. Peter that we are to forgive our brother until seventy times seven (Math. 18, 21-22), or, seven times in a day (Luke, 17, 3-4).

What struck me some while ago is that St. Luke specifically mentions the sinner repenting, while St. Matthew does not. I do not know if it was a sermon that directed me to the question or not: but might there be a difference between situations where our brother repents (and so implicitly, at least, asks for forgiveness), and where, without repentence, he (or she, says the gender-equality conditioned university employee) might even go happily on sinning?

Given that even Aelianus said this was interesting question and one should look it up in the Catena Aurea, and given that I was given a very impressive edition of this splendid work some time ago, I felt it my duty to do so. The result:

The comments on St. Matthew, by St. Jerome, St. Chrysostomos, and St. Augustine, seem to focus on (i) the fact that in the face of the overwhelming mercy of Our Lord we are of course to forgive our brother, and (ii) why Our Lord did not mean to say it was O.K. not to forgive the seventy-eighth time.

Among the comments on St. Luke, however, some seem to specifically take the fact o repentance into account, particularly the following:

AMBROSE; After the parable of the rich man who is tormented in punishment, Christ added a commandment to give forgiveness to those who turn themselves from their trespasses, lest any one through despair should not be reclaimed from his fault; and hence it is said, Take heed to yourselves.

BEDE; But we must mark, that He does not bid us forgive every one who sins, but him only who repents of his sins. For by taking this course we may avoid offenses, hurting no one, correcting the sinner with a righteous zeal, extending the bowels of mercy to the penitent.

While I do not suggest that we all check ourselves lest we irresponsibly have forgiven an unrepenting brother, I still think that an interesting consideration. If the more knowledgable or more pious than me have any further comments on this, I would be glad to learn.

No, not for all the positive response to my German Autumn Poetry Excesses I would not have subjected you to any more German, had it not been for the encouragement of Aelianus (whom I would accuse, if I was uncharitable, of hoping of Google trafic), and for long-time annoyment with one particular German Marian Hymn.
It used to be a very nice Marian hymn, one just as Marian hymns ought to be: praising Our Lady, assuring her of our devotion, begging her for intercession with the confidence that there is nothing that needs to daunt anyone protected by her;  plus the whole with an appropriately touching tune:


Maria zu lieben, ist allzeit mein Sinn
in Freuden und Leiden ihr Diener ich bin
Mein Herz, o Maria, brennt ewig zu Dir
in Liebe und Freude, o himmlische Zier

Maria, Du milde, Du süße Jungfrau
Nimm auf meine Liebe, so wie ich vertrau
Du bist ja die Mutter, Dein Kind will ich sein
im Leben und Sterben Dir einzig allein

Gib, daß ich von Herzen Dich liebe und preis
gib, daß ich viel Zeichen der Liebe erweis
Von Dir mich nichts scheide, nicht Unglück noch Leid
Dich lieb ich auf ewig, Dich lieb ich allzeit

Ach, hätt ich der Herzen nur tausendmal mehr
Dir tausend zu geben, das ist mein Begehr
so oft mein Herz klopfet, befehl ich es Dir
so vielmal ich atme, verbind ich Dich mir

Du Trost der Betrübten, zur Hilf sei bereit
Du Stärke der Schwachen, beschütz mich im Streit
wenn wider mich kämpfen Fleisch, Hölle und Welt
sei Du mir als Zuflucht zur Seite gestellt.

But then, we had renewal, and a new text.  Now, à la  Eucharistic Prayer IV, we give Our Lady a biography of her own life (It is also incorrect, I am assured, as for however lowly the job of a carpenter might have been, we have no indication in the Gospels that th Holy Family was actually destitute – even if this would be helpful in a Revulutionary Christianity way):


Maria dich lieben, ist allzeit mein Sinn;
dir wurde die Fülle der Gnaden verliehn:
du Jungfrau, auf dich hat der Geist sich gesenkt;
du Mutter hast uns den Erlöser gschenkt.

Dein Herz war der Liebe des Höchsten geweiht;
du warst für die Botschaft des Engels bereit.
Du sprachst: Mir geschehe, wie du es gesagt.
Dem Herr will ich dienen, ich bin deine Magd.

Du Frau aus dem Volke, von Gott ausersehn.
dem Heiland auf Erden zur Seite zu stehn,
kennst Arbeit und Sorge ums tägliche Brot,
die Mühsal des Lebens in Armut und Not.

Du hast unterm Kreuze auf Jesus geschaut;
er hat dir den Jünger als Sohn anvertraut.
Du Mutter der Schmerzen, o mach uns bereit,
bei Jesus zu stehen, in Kreuz und in Leid.

Du Mutter der Gnaden, o reich uns die Hand
auf all unsern Wegen durchs irdische Land.
Hilf uns, deinen Kindern, in Not und Gefahr;
mach allen, die suchen, den Sohn offenbar.

Von Gott über Engel und Menschen gestellt
erfleh uns das Heil und den Frieden der Welt.
Du Freude der Erde, du himmlische Zier:
du bist voll der Gnaden, der Herr ist mit dir.

As a former Protestant, the veneration of Our Lady was a major stumbling block for my conversion. Even now (I have to confess) some ofSt. Louis de Montford’s statements about Our Lady (for all he is my year’s Saint)  quite disturbe me. But such a bland hymn text as the new one presented above would absolutely bore me to sleep, if it would not enrage me sufficiently. If a Marian hymn is not either close-to-kitschy pleeding, or satisfactorily triumphant, or of quiet and queenly dignity, it has no right to exisit, IMnsHO.

From the booklet made up for the profession of a dear friend (through whom I met Cath):

Are you now alarmed by the immensity of what the holy vows require of you? You need not be alarmed. What you have promised is indeed beyond your own weak human power. But it is not beyond the power of the Almighty – this power will become yours if you entrust yourself to Him, if He accepts your pledge of troth. He does so on the day of your holy profession and will do it anew today. It is the loving heart of your Saviour that invites you to follow. It demands your obedience because the human will is blind and weak. It cannot find the way until it surrenders itself entirely to the divine will. He demands poverty because hands must be empty of earth’s goods to receive the goods of heaven. He demands chastity because only the heart detached from all earthly love is free for the love of God. The arms of the Crucified are spread out to draw you to His heart. He wants your life in order to give you His. 

I wonder what the context is. She had a good friend who was a Benedictine, perhaps it was a letter to her. I have a book of St Theresa’s writings in the loo, her lectures on Woman. Gran (the materialist atheist)  thinks it’s disrespectful. Tepidus and I once had a conversation about what books can be kept, or read,  in the loo without disrespect. Clearly the Bible is out, and we decided that things like the Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena are also not really loo material. Lives of saints – depends on their tone and content. I think lectures on the nature of woman and her social role, even if written by a martyr, can be kept in the loo – but perhaps in this case, not without scandal. I suppose I should have gone with Gran’s sensibilities, and not told myself I was being educational and fighting superstition.

[update: uncle Google tells me that the quote is from a meditation for the feast of the Holy Cross, III.2 in this English edition available online.]

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