Sunday 27 March 2016

Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia!

Happy Easter!

Today is the day of the new creation: all is made new in Christ.

And we sing with joy to His Blessed Mother, given to us as our Mother from the Cross: for the next forty days, instead of the Angelus, which honours the Incarnation, we will sing and pray the Regina Caeli, celebrating the Resurrection.

The Regina Caeli: first the Gregorian Chant, then the arrangement by Gregor Aichinger.

Regina caeli
V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

O Queen of Heaven rejoice, Alleluia: 
For He whom thou didst merit to bear, Alleluia,  
Has risen as He said, Alleluia. 
Pray for us to God, Alleluia. 
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, Alleluia. 
For the Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia. 

Let us pray: O God, who gave joy to the whole world by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of eternal life.  Through the same Christ our Lord.   Amen.  

For those who pray #twitterangelus, the Regina Caeli in tweetable format is here.

Christ makes all things new, and the joy of the reality of Easter far outweighs any problems in the Church or beyond.

May all my readers have a very happy and blessed Eastertide.

Friday 25 March 2016

Good Friday Improperia

Here is Victoria's magnificent setting of the Good Friday Improperia, or Reproaches (incidentally, the other place in our liturgy where we retain some Greek, along with the Kyrie).

It is worthy of note that in the official liturgy of the Church, we find Latin, Greek and Hebrew; just as the inscription on the Cross was in Latin Greek and Hebrew.

Here is the full text (the motet only contains a couple of the verses)

Popule meus, quid feci tibi?
Aut in quo contristavi te?
Responde mihi. 

Quia eduxi te de terra Aegypti: 
parasti Crucem Salvatori tuo. 

Hagios o Theos. Sanctus Deus.
Hagios Ischyros. Sanctus fortis.
Hagios Athanatos, eleison himas. 
Sanctus immortalis, miserere nobis. 

Quia eduxi te per desertum quadraginta annis: 
et manna cibavi te, et introduxi te in terram satis bonam: 
parasti Crucem Salvatori tuo.

Quid ultra debui facere tibi, et non feci?
Ego quidem plantavi te vineam meam speciosissimam:
et tu facta es mihi nimis amara:
aceto namque sitim meam potasti:
et lancea perforasti latus Salvatori tuo.

Ego propter te flagellavi Aegyptum cum primogenitis suis:
et tu me flagellatum tradidisti.
Popule meus…

Ego te eduxi de Aegypto, demerso Pharone in mare Rubrum:
et tu me tradidisti principibus sacerdotum.
Popule meus…

Ego ante te aperui mare:
et tu aperuisti lancea latus meum.
Popule meus…

Ego ante te praeivi in columna nubis: 
et tu me duxisti ad praetorium Pilati.
Popule meus…

Ego te pavi manna in desertum: 
et tu me cedisti alapis et flagellis.
Popule meus…

Ego te potavi aqua salutis de petra:
et tu me potasti felle et aceto.
Popule meus…

Ego propter te Chananeorum reges percussi:
et tu percussisti arundine caput meum.
Popule meus…

Ego dedi tibi sceptrum regale:
et tu dedisti capiti meo spineam coronam.
Popule meus…

Ego te exaltavi magna virtute:
et tu me suspendisti in patibulo crucis.
Popule meus…


O my people, what have I done to thee?
Or how have I offended you?
Answer me.

Because I led thee out of the land of Egypt: 
thou hast prepared a Cross for thy Saviour.

O holy God! O holy God!
O holy strong One! O holy strong One!
O holy and immortal, have mercy upon us.
O holy and immortal, have mercy upon us.

Because I led thee through the desert for forty years: 
and fed thee with manna, and brought thee into a land exceeding good: 
thou hast prepared a Cross for thy Saviour.
O holy God!…

What more ought I to have done for thee, that I have not done? 
I planted thee, indeed, My most beautiful vineyard: 
and thou hast become exceeding bitter to me: 
for in my thirst thou gavest me vinegar to drink: 
and with a spear thou hast pierced the side of thy Saviour.
O holy God!…

For thy sake I scourged the firstborn of Egypt:
Thou hast given me up to be scourged.
O my people…

I led thee out of Egypt having drowned Pharaoh in the Red Sea:
and thou hast delivered Me to the chief priests.
O my people…

I opened the sea before thee:
and thou hast opened my side with a spear.
O my people…

I went before thee in a pillar of cloud:
and thou hast led me to the judgment hall of Pilate.
O my people…

I fed thee with manna in the desert;
and thou hast assaulted me with blows and scourges.
O my people…

I gave thee the water of salvation from the rock:
and thou hast given me gall and vinegar to drink.
O my people…

For thy sake I struck the kings of the Canaanites:
and thou hast struck my head with a reed.
O my people…

I gave thee a royal sceptre:
and thou hast given a crown of thorns for my head.
O my people…

I exalted thee with great strength;
and thou hast hanged me on the gibbet of the cross.
O my people…


Listen, weep, and pray.

The Annunciation and Good Friday

A couple of years ago I posted about the Annunciation falling in Holy Week; and learned a lot from a couple of excellent people on Twitter, as recorded here, including John Donne's excellent poem Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day. 1608.

This year, of course, the Annunciation falls on Good Friday. A wonderful topic for a blog post; and fortunately someone more learned than me has already undertaken that task, and produced a completely fascinating post.  If you don't know the Clerk of Oxford's site, now is the time to visit it, and read  'This doubtful day of feast or fast': Good Friday and the Annunciation.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Passion Sunday

Today, in the traditional calendar, is Passion Sunday.

Here is what my (old, in fact my late Father's) Missal has to say on the subject.
This, the fifth Sunday in Lent, takes its name from its being the day on which Holy Church begins her solemn and mournful commemoration of our Lord's Passion. Henceforth, in the Divine Office, hymns in honour of our Lord suffering, take the place of those proper to Lent; the Preface of the Holy Cross is said at daily Mass; the psalm Judica Me Deus, and the Glory be to the Father are omitted, as in Masses of the Dead; and the portions of the Holy Gospels appointed to be read, are those referring to the plotting of the Jews against Christ, and to the incidents of the last days of his ministry upon earth. Very striking is the veiling in churches - in allusion to the words 'Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple' read in the Gospel of the day - of all the crosses, statues and sacred pictures, at other times so helpful to the devotion of the faithful.
I have blogged before about Passiontide, and the suppression thereof, both here, and as a followup, here, so I won't go on about it any more.

However, do notice that many churches have reintroduced (and some of course had never abandoned) the veiling of the statues and crucifixes today. But one wonders why? (Although I am of course in favour.) But what do they think they are doing? There is no more Passiontide, and the Gospel read at Mass today was the woman taken in adultery, not Our Lord's declaration that 'Before Abraham was, I AM' and his subsequent leaving the temple. 

The integration and resonance of tradition has been lost, and we are the poorer for it.

Thursday 10 March 2016

Cardinal Pell

I have known Fr Mark Withoos for many years, not least in his capacity as Chaplain to the English-speaking Youth Chapter on the Chartres pilgrimage.  He is an Australian, but I don't hold that against him...

He is, in fact a fine man and a fine priest. He is also the private secretary to Cardinal Pell, the cardinal charged with cleaning up the Vatican finances, and also the subject of a vicious media hate campaign, trying to smear him in the wake of the sex abuse scandals in Australia. 

In fact, Cardinal Pell was one of the first to put in place a proper investigation, and a proper process, to address these issues. 

Fr Withoos sent me the link to an interview with Cardinal Pell, saying: 'it gives a real insight into the Cardinal we know. Please make sure it is spread far and wide.'

Here is the link. 

Please watch it, and please remember Cardinal Pell, and the victims of this terrible abuse, in your prayers.

If you are truly charitable, pray, too, for the perpetrators and all others implicated.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Who is the rapist?

In our brave new world, in which the only criterion of morality, with regards to sex, seems to be mutual consent, with a nod in the direction of protecting children given by the law on the age of consent, we find some puzzling anomalies.

The Irish case, in which a boy with learning difficulties is being prosecuted for statutory rape of a girl of his own age (both 16 - the age of consent being 17 in that jurisdiction) highlights these. 

Why is it the boy who is deemed the rapist? Because the girl has parents who complained to the Gardai, whereas the boy is in care?

Likewise, we repeatedly hear of cases in which both parties were incapable of proper consent through drink or drugs. Is that mutual rape? If not, why not? But typically, it will be the man who is deemed the rapist. But surely that is a hangover from those dark days when we thought there was some difference between the sexes...

The current moral consensus (if such it be) is clearly not working. Having abandoned all other criteria, in our collective hedonistic desire to justify whatever we feel like doing, we find ourselves exposed to base forces that we do not know how to deal with.

And notice how that came about. People always decry 'slippery slope' or 'thin  end of the wedge' arguments. But the progression is fairly clear. Firstly, contraception which had always been attempted by the depraved, but always reviled by the majority, was deemed acceptable within marriage. 

So the separation of sex and reproduction was begun. That has gathered pace, with abortion its natural consequence. That then, of course, opened the door to all sorts of other aberrant sex, including between people of the same sex, multiple partners, and so on.

But always in the name of love, of course. 'But if two people love each other...' was always the plea. But now even that pretence has gone. What's love got to do with it? If two (or fewer, or more) people desire physical gratification is all that remains: as long as there is consent, all is good.

And the results: physical sickness (soaring STDs, AIDs etc), mental sickness (it is no secret that those with aberrant sexual lifestyles are disproportionately high users of mental health services, and have high suicide rates), huge social harm, with broken families now so common that we have a growing and potentially catastrophic social problem on our hands, as we struggle to raise a civilised younger generation; and of course, worst of all, the carnage of the abortion industry, leading also to the barbarity of human embryo experimentation, the butchery of IVF pregnancy reductions, and the commodification of human life.

As we approach Passiontide, let us redouble our prayer, our almsgiving, and our sacrifices: for that is the only way some devils can be driven out.

Monday 7 March 2016

The Flight from Reality

In Christopher West's introductory book on Saint John Paul II's Theology of the Body there is a memorable sentence, which I shall have to quote from memory, as one of the children (Bernie, I think) has the book at present. It says something like: 'The argument about abortion is not an argument about human rights, it is an argument about the meaning of sex: nobody arguing for abortion is arguing because they want the right to kill their offspring, but because they want to have sex free of any consequences.'

That, of course, is why contraception is so closely related to abortion; and why pro-life organisations that don't recognise that relationship are incoherent.

That is also why there is a connection between the LGBTQ+ movement and abortion.

That is why gender theory had to be made up.

Because the reality is that sex is about bonding and babies; that is an empirically verifiable fact. So in order to justify other uses of sex, and the ways in which the natural consequences of sex can be thwarted, elaborate theories have to be developed, to flee that reality.

The role of academia in this is truly shameful. Not only the social scientists, who have nearly all long since abandoned any notion of truth, but also the medics, whose training is rather more rooted in reality, have not only colluded with, but often led, the pseudo-intellectual justification of evil.

So we have gender theory, to deny the biological reality of the basic division of human kind into male and female, and the sexual complementarity inherent in that. 

We have theories that deny the humanity of the unborn human child.

We have theories that see personal autonomy as the greatest human good.

We have theories that suggest that sex outside of marriage is a good; or that contraceptive sex is good.

We have theories that suggest that chastity is harmful.

We have theories that suggest that children do not need both their parents.

We have theories that suggest that it is good to create human beings in petri dishes.

We have a proliferation of theories, all of which are a flight from reality. As T S Eliot wrote, Humankind cannot bear very much reality,' - especially when it gets in between the individual and his desires.  So we construct these elaborate tissues of lies, which we know in our heart to be lies, in order to justify ourselves in our sin.

And we know who is the father of lies...