Pious – tips

Hymn for the Church Militant

Great God, that bowest sky and star,
Bow down our towering thoughts to thee,
And grant us in a faltering war
The firm feet of humility.

Lord, we that snatch the swords of flame,
Lord, we that cry about Thy ear,
We too are weak with pride and shame,
We too are as our foemen are.

Yea, we are mad as they are mad,
Yea, we are blind as they are blind,
Yea, we are very sick and sad
Who bring good news to all mankind.

The dreadful joy Thy Son has sent
Is heavier than any care;
We find, as Cain his punishment,
Our pardon more than we can bear.

Lord, when we cry Thee far and near
And thunder through all lands unknown
The gospel into every ear,
Lord, let us not forget our own.

Cleanse us from ire of creed or class,
The anger of the idle kings;
Sow in our souls, like living grass,
The laughter of all lowly things.

G.K. Chesterton

L’oraison est une priere personelle, un discours interieur qui comme tout acte humain doit se passer dans l’intelligence et dans la volonte. […] Il ne faut pas s’habituer a attendre le souffle de Dieu sans rien faire. Il s’agit d’abord de meubler son intelligence de choses saines et fortes afin qu’elle s’etablisse plus facilement du cote de Dieu.

Mere Cecile Bruyere OSB, commentary on the Conferences of Cassian, 29 August 1889, quoted in Oury, Lumiere et Foi

… you will practise therein humility, obedience, simplicity and charity: in short, more virtues than in any other single act of religion.


St Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, pt II ch. 19

(read this time in a great book called  L’art d’utiliser ses fautes, by Joseph Tissot: published in English as How to Profit from Your Faults, in Polish as Sztuka Korzystania z Własnych Błędów, etc.)

Sunday is Quinquagesima, which means a week today is … Ash Wednesday! So it would be a good idea to start thinking about Lent – you know, whether to give up rum truffles or your morning steak, persuade your flatmates that you should all take the discipline together every Wednesday and Friday, that sort of thing.There’s a distressing website out there selling solid silver cilicia. That’s not even camp, that’s, eugh, perverted.

Some time ago for some reason, I think to do with how one should mark Sunday, other than singing the seraphic hymn of praise at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and eating the bread of angels, or listening to very long sermons, someone declared his daily devotional schedule in the combox and asked “well, what about yous?”. I think everyone else was too embarrassed. Well, I was. However, this was at least partly because the comment was part of a discussion in which everyone had been commenting nomenously, and to go all anonymous would have been perhaps rude.


For mutual edification and inspiration, or private embarrassment, I would ask both of our readers, commenting anonymously (fake emails, the lot – I don’t *want* to know who you are!), to outline their Daily Devotional Plan (the theory and the practice!).

This sort of thing is a bad idea, no-one comments and one looks extremely silly. Still.

*”for” in Latin.

**Lent in Polish

Some persons (for example cloistered nuns or persons who do not have access to several priests) are not in a position to choose their own director. In such cases one must do as well as possible with the person available and supply for any deficiencies by consulting books.

Apart from these particular cases, the choice of a spiritual director should be made in the following way. The first thing ot be done is to ask God in prayer for the grace and light to proceed prudently in this important matter. Then one should investigate whom among the available priests possesses the prudence, experience and learning necessary for a good director. Under no circumstances should the choice be made because of one’s natural inclinations toward a particular priest, although it should be recognized that it would be more difficult to open one’s heart with confidence to a priest for whom one feels repugnance or antipathy. It is not advisable to ask teh priest immediately to be the spiritual director, but one should test him for a time to see whether or not he will be able to fulfill the task of director.

Jordan Aumann, OP, Spiritual Theology (Huntington, IN/London, 1980)

IMHO, that about sums it up. Paranoid me found it soothing to read the pages and pages of stuff in Boccardo, but then people get this weird fascination with the whole subject and spend more time thinking/talking about it than just getting on with the hoovering, so I might not bother with more of the other chap for fear of encouraging that sort of thing. On the other hand, perhaps there are more paranoid androids out there who get on with the hoovering but could do with soothing …

It is easy to find a confessor; wherever there is a Catholic pries, free in the exercise of the powers of his ordination, and of jurisdiction, there one has a minister of the sacrament of penance. Things are quite otherwise if one desires a true director. Whatever the cause might be, the fact is that, as St Francis de Sales,  there are fewer truly capable of such an office than one thinks. Even those few who possess the rare gifts of direction do not always “do” for all souls. It is the great variety of spiritual needs and of the wonderful ways by which God makes the soul pass that can well make it the case that one has a holy director wise and practical in the spiritual life,  such as a St Vincent de Paul, described by St Francis de Sales as the holiest priest of his age whom I have known, and yet he is of no help to us, as happened to Jean Jacques Olier, who at one point in his life left St Vincent to place himself under the direction of Fr de Condren. So Our Lady counselled St Catherine of Siena to change director, though her director was a most worthy man, held to be a saint, to entrust herself to Bl. Raymond of Capua.

The choice is therefore a most important thing and very difficult. When we want to choose someone to whom we can entrust the execution of our will, when we shall be no longer in this world, we do not turn to the first person who comes to mind, but we look for someone who will be both able and willing to carry out this service for us, someone worthy of our respect and trust.  Well, at least as much diligence should be used in making a choice in the great matter of our sanctification, so much more important than all other earthly interests put together. It is the advice which the Catechism of Trent gives where it says ” each one should take in selecting a priest, who is recommended by integrity of life, by learning and prudence”.

Following this authoritative and official book of the Church, we find a magisterial [groan] setting out of all the points which we ought to keep in mind in this search. And first of all: the absolute freedom of the individual in this search. In second place, the criteria according to which we ought to carry it out.

[here ends the introduction to Part 2 section 1 Chapter 2 Article 2 ofthe first volume of Bl. Luigi’s Confessione e Direzione, a book given to me by a very holy monk. Trans. bat Ionah, busking at some points. Tomorrow, possibly, §1 – “Absolute personal liberty in the choice of director”. I might put fr Jordan Aumann OP’s suggestion up tomorrow instead, it’s shorter, and not written with early C20 Turin’s particular atmosphere in mind.]


Only a few days ago I was looking at the clerus.org website and thinking “goodness, this is a wasted opportunity”. And lo and behold!

Just made my first mug of Bovril. I found a jar in the larder which was bought by mistake instead of Marmite.  I have drunk Bovril before at Football matches but never taken the grave step of making a mug in a domestic context. As there are no instructions on the jar itself I thought I ought to investigate the matter online before proceeding to put boiling water to gloop. Imagine my shock to discover that Bovril was invented by a British businessman as a hearty drink for the soldiers of Napoleon III during the Franco-Prussian War. So, in a certain sense its original function was to preserve the Papal States. (It was the defeat of Napoleon III at the battle of Sedan which led to Piedmont’s annexation of Rome in September 1870). Furthermore, true to its Papal origins, an advertising campaign of ‘the early twentieth century’ (Wikipedia) boasted that Bovril, like the Pope, possesses an infallible power! In the case of Bovril presumably the power is to keep you warm at football matches, as it doesn’t seem to be much use against Prussians. In the advert the Pope drinking the cup of Bovril is clearly Leo XIII. Now I feel a bit guilty that I prefer Marmite…


They said of Poemen that he never wanted to cap the saying of others, but always praised what had been said.

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