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If there is something like ‘political imprinting’, Helmut Kohl was part of mine. When I first became aware of such a thing as politics, as a pre-teen during the ‘Wende’ in 1989, Kohl appeared to me as ‘the’ Chancellor of western Germany, a fixture you identified with the office itself. For more than ten years, he was an entirely negative figure to communist-y (PDS-voting) me. My conversion to the Catholic Church fell into the Schröder chancellorship. Since then, there have been a number of elections at various levels during which I decided, somewhat reluctantly, that the ‘Christian’ Democrats (CDU) might at least be the ‘least evil’ among the available options – something absolutely ‘not done’ among my family and basically all my non-Catholic friends. During parliamentary elections, however, I might quite likely not have decided this way had Kohl, not Merkel, been CDU candidate for chancellorship.

When I checked the news last night after a very busy working day, I stumbled upon the simple fact of Kohl’s death as already old news, all news outlets having moved on to the specifics of the funeral and reviews of Kohl’s career already. Politically ill-educated me, through lack of information or else through instinct, did not like Kohl. He was born the same year as my grandmother, but lived more than six years longer: when I so much would have preferred it the other way round. His health was not good, and his death to be expected, and yet – upon reading that he had died, I felt like punched into the gut for the very fact, perhaps, that an era of history through which I grew up was now finally at an end.

And in spite of all I might still feel worthy of criticism:

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.  Requiescat in pace. Amen.

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Zion, to Thy Savior sing,
to Thy Shepherd and Thy King!
Let the air with praises ring!
All thou canst, proclaim with mirth,
far higher is His worth
than the glory words may wing.

Lo! before our eyes and living
is the Sacred Bread life-giving,
theme of canticle and hymn.
We profess this Bread from heaven
to the Twelve by Christ was given,
for our faith rest firm in Him.

Let us form a joyful chorus,
may our lauds ascend sonorous,
bursting from each loving breast.
For we solemnly record
how the Table of the Lord
with the Lamb’s own gift was blest.

On this altar of the King
this new Paschal Offering
brings an end to ancient rite.
Shadows flee that truth may stay,
oldness to the new gives way,
and the night’s darkness to the light.

What at Supper Christ completed
He ordained to be repeated,
in His memory Divine.
Wherefore now, with adoration,
we, the Host of our salvation,
consecrate from bread and wine.

Words a nature’s course derange,
that in Flesh the bread may change
and the wine in Christ’s own Blood.
Does it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of light transcending,
leaps to things not understood.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
priceless things, to sense forbidden;
signs, not things, are all we see.
Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine,
yet is Christ in either sign,
all entire confessed to be.

And whoe’er of Him partakes,
severs not, nor rends, nor breaks:
all entire, their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousand eat,
all receive the selfsame meat,
nor do less for others leave.

Both the wicked and the good
eat of this celestial Food:
but with ends how opposite!
With this most substantial Bread,
unto life or death they’re fed,
in a difference infinite.

Nor a single doubt retain,
when they break the Host in twain,
but that in each part remain
what was in the whole before;
For the outward sign alone
may some change have undergone,
while the Signified stays one,
and the same forevermore.

Hail! Bread of the Angels, broken,
for us pilgrims food, and token
of the promise by Christ spoken,
children’s meat, to dogs denied!
Shown in Isaac’s dedication,
in the Manna’s preparation,
in the Paschal immolation,
in old types pre-signified.

Jesus, Shepherd mild and meek,
shield the poor, support the weak;
help all who Thy pardon sue,
placing all their trust in You:
fill them with Your healing grace!
Source of all we have or know,
feed and lead us here below.
grant that with Your Saints above,
sitting at the feast of love
we may see You face to face.
Amen. Alleluia.

O eternal God! O eternal Trinity! Through the union of Thy Divine nature Thou hast made so precious the Blood of Thy only-begotten Son! O eternal Trinity, Thou art as deep a mystery as the sea, in whom the more I seek, the more I find; and the more I find, the more I seek. For even immersed in the depths of Thee, my soul is never satisfied, always famished and hungering for Thee, eternal Trinity, wishing and desiring to see Thee, the True Light.

O eternal Trinity, with the light of understanding I have tasted and seen the depths of Thy mystery and the beauty of Thy creation. In seeing myself in Thee, I have seen that I will become like Thee. O eternal Father, from Thy power and Thy wisdom clearly Thou hast given to me a share of that wisdom which belongs to Thine Only-begotten Son. And truly hast the Holy Spirit, who procedeth from Thee, Father and Son, given to me the desire to love Thee.

O eternal Trinity, Thou art my maker and I am Thy creation. Illuminated by Thee, I have learned that Thou hast made me a new creation through the Blood of Thy Only-begotten Son because Thou art captivated by love at the beauty of Thy creation.

O eternal Trinity, O Divinity, O unfathomable abyss, O deepest sea, what greater gift could Thou givest me then Thy very Self? Thou art a fire that burns eternally yet never consumed, a fire that consumes with Thy heat my self-love. Again and again Thou art the fire who taketh away all cold heartedness and illuminateth the mind by Thy light, the light with which Thou hast made me to know Thy truth.

By this mirrored light I know Thou are the highest good, a good above all good, a fortunate good, an incomprehensible good, an unmeasurable good, a beauty above all beauty, a wisdom above all wisdom, for Thou art wisdom itself, the the food of angels, the fire of love that Thou givest to man.

Thou art the garment covering our nakedness. Thou feedest our family with Thy sweetness, a sweetness Thou art from which there is no trace of bitterness. O Eternal Trinity!

~ St. Catherine of Siena

“And now, my dear Son [Msgr. Cloutier, Bishop of Three Rivers, Canada], if you desire that God should bless your Apostolate and make it fruitful, undertake everything for His glory, saturate yourself and your devoted fellow-workers with the spirit of Jesus Christ, animating yourself and them with an intense inner life. To this end, I can offer you no better guide than The Soul of the Apostolate, by Dom Chautard, a Cistercian Abbot. I warmly recommend this book to you, as I value it very highly, and have myself made it my bedside book.”

And from the words of Chautard in the Prologue to his great work, “O God, infinitely good and great, wonderful indeed are the truths that faith lays open to us, concerning the life which Thou leadest within Thyself: and these truths dazzle us. Father all holy, Thou dost contemplate Thyself forever in the Word, Thy perfect image – Thy word exults in rapt joy at Thy beauty – and, Father and Son, from Your joint ecstasy, leaps forth the strong flame of love, the Holy Spirit. You alone, O adorable Trinity, are the interior life, perfect, superabundant, and infinite. Goodness unlimited, You desire to spread this, Your own inner life, everywhere outside Yourself. You speak: and Your works spring forth out of nothingness, to declare Your perfections and to sing Your glory. Between You and the dust quickened by Your breath, there is a deep abyss: and this, Your Holy Spirit wishes to bridge. Thus He will find a way of satisfying His immense need to love, to give Himself. And therefore He calls forth, from Your bosom, the decree that we become divine. Wonder of wonders! This clay, fashioned by Your hands, will have the power to be deified, and share in Your eternal happiness. Your Word offers Himself for the fulfillment of this work. And He is made flesh, that we may become gods. And yet, O Word, Thou hast not left the bosom of Thy Father. It is there that Thy essential life subsists, and it is from this source that the marvels of Thy apostolate are to flow. O Jesus, Emmanuel, Thou dost hand over to Thy apostles Thy Gospel, Thy Cross, Thy Eucharist, and gives them the mission to go forth and beget for Thy Father, sons of adoption. And then Thou dost return, ascending, to Thy Father. Thine, henceforth, O Holy Spirit, is the care of sanctifying and directing the Mystical Body of the God-man. Thou deignest to take unto Thyself fellow-workers, in Thy function of bringing, from the Head, divine life into the members. Burning with Pentecostal fires, they will go forth to sow broadcast in the minds of all, the word that enlightens, and in all hearts the grace that enkindles. Thus will they impart to men that divine life of which Thou art the fullness.

O Divine Fire, stir up in all those who have part in Thy apostolate, the flames that transformed those fortunate retreat ants in the Upper Room. Then they will be no longer mere preachers of dogma or moral theology, but men living to transfuse the Blood of God into the souls of men. Spirit of Light, imprint upon their minds, in characters that can never be erased, this truth: that their apostolate will be successful only in the measure that they themselves live that supernatural inner life of which Thou are the sovereign PRINCIPLE and Jesus Christ the SOURCE. O infinite Charity, make their wills burn with thirst for the interior life. Penetrate and flood their hearts with Thy sweetness and strength, and show them that, even here on this earth, there is no real happiness except in this life of imitation and sharing in Thine own life and in that of the Heart of Jesus in the bosom of the Father of all mercy and all kindness.

O Mary Immaculate, Queen of the apostles, deign to bless these simple pages. Grant that all who read them may really understand that, if it please God to use their activity as an ordinary instrument of His Providence, in pouring out His heavenly riches upon the souls of men, this activity, if it is to produce any results, will have to participate, somehow, in the nature of the Divine Act as Thou didst behold it in the bosom of God when He, to Whom we owe the power of calling thee our Mother, became incarnate in the virginal womb.”

 

And elsewhere, “The professor who has no interior life imagines he has done all that is required of him if he keeps within the limits of the program of his examination. But if he is a man of prayer some word will now and again slip out, not only from his lips but from his heart: some sentiment or other will show itself in his expression, some significant gesture will escape him, yes, the mere way he makes the sign of the Cross, or says a prayer before or after class – even a class in mathematics! – may have a more profound influence on his students that a whole sermon.”

 

Read it! 🙂

“The Son of God is soon to ascend to His Father. He has said to His Apostles: Going, teach all nations: preach the Gospel to every creature. Thus, then, the nations are not to receive the word from the lips of Jesus, but through His ministers. The glory and happiness of being instructed directly by the Man-God were for none but the Israelites, and even for them for only three short year.

The impious may murmur at this, and say, in their pride: ‘Why should there be men between God and us?’ God might justly answer: ‘And what right have you to expect me to speak to you Myself, seeing that you can otherwise be as certain of My word as though you heard it from Myself?’ Was the Son of God to lose His claim to our faith unless He remained on this earth to the end of time? If we reflect on the infinite distance there is between the Creator and creature, we shall detest such a blasphemy. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater: and how can we reject it? Can we call the testimony human, which was given by the Apostles, when, in proof of their being sent by God, they showed the power, conferred on them by their Divine Master, of working miracles? Of course the pride of reason may rebel; it may protest, and refuse to believe men who speak in God’s name. Did not the very Son of God meet with more unbelievers than believers? And why? Because He affirmed Himself to be God, yet showed nothing exteriorly but His human nature. So that there was an act of faith to be made, even when Jesus Himself spoke; and pride might rebel, and say: ‘I will not believe;’ just as it will do when the Apostles speak in His name. The two cases are alike. God demands of us, as long as we are in this world, that we give Him our faith; and faith is not possible without humility. God confirms His word by miracles; but man has always the power to resist, and for that very reason faith is a virtue.

If it be asked – why, when God took His Son from this earth, He did not commission His angels to teach us in His name, instead of giving such a sublime office to men, frail and mortal s we ourselves are who receive their teaching – the reason is, that man could not be raised up from the state of degradation into which he had fallen by pride, except by submission and humility; and consequently, it was fitting that the ministry of the Divine word should not be entrusted to angels, inasmuch as our pride might have been flattered by our having for our teachers beings so noble and exalted. We believed the serpent when he spoke to us, and we had the pride to think that we might one day become gods: our merciful Creator, in order to save us, has imposed it as a law upon us, that we should yield submission to men, when they speak in His name.”

~ Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year

 

The sooner we recover the proper sense of the gratuity of grace, the better!

1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;

2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.

5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.

6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.

7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.

8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.

9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.

11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.

12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.

14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.

15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;

16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;

18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.

19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;

20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.

21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.

22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.

23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.

26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.

27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.

32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.

34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.

35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.

36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;

38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;

39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;

40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

42. and shall give account of their own works.

43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

“The first association of the intellectual, that which will show him for what he is – apart of course from his needs and his human duties – is association with his fellows. I use the word association, I should prefer to say cooperation, for to associate without cooperating is not doing intellectual work. But how rare, in this age of individualism and social anarchy, is such a kinship of minds! P. Gratry deplored it: he dreamed of Port-Royal, and wanted to make of the Oratory ‘a Port-Royal without the schism.’ ‘What labor could be saved,” he said, “if people could join and help one another! If six or seven together, with the same idea, worked by way of mutual teaching, becoming turn by turn pupil and master of the others; if by some happy concourse of circumstances they could even live together! If besides lectures in the afternoon and study following on the lectures, they could talk in the evening, at supper, of all these noble things, so as to learn more by drinking them in in conversation, than by the very lectures!’ The workshops of old, especially those of artists, were a gathering of friends, a family. The workshop of today is a jail, or a union meeting. But in response to the need which makes itself more and more felt around us, shall we not see the old comradely workshop revived, widened, opened up, and yet no less closely united than of yore? The time would be opportune to conceive and to found the intellectual workshop or consortium, an association of workers all equally enthusiastic and diligent, banded together freely, living in simplicity, in equality, no one aiming at domination, even though someone might have a recognized superiority which would be of advantage to the group. Without pride or the spirit of rivalry, seeking only truth, the friends thus gathered together would, so to say, multiply one another, and their common soul would reveal a wealth of which no sufficient explanation would appear to be discoverable in any single part. One needs such a strongly tempered soul to work alone! What heroism it is to be one’s own intellectual society, one’s own encouragement and support, to find in a poor isolated will the strength that might spring from the impetus of a multitude or from stern necessity! One begins with enthusiasm, then as some difficulty arises, the demon of laziness whispers: what is the good? Our vision of the goal draws dim; the fruit of effort is too distant or appears too bitter; we have a vague sense of being duped. It is certain that the support of others, their example, the exchange of ideas, would be admirably efficacious against this gloomy mood; they would supply the place in many people of that power of imagination and constancy of virtue which only a few possess, yet which are necessary for the persevering prosecution of a great purpose…Friendship is an obstetric art; it draws out our richest and deepest resources; it unfolds the wings of our dreams and hidden indeterminate thoughts; it serves as a check on our judgments, tries out our new ideas, keeps up our ardor, and inflames our enthusiasm.”

 

What a beautiful description!

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