Monday, June 29, 2009

A Chesterton Litany

(for private use only!)

Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us.
Christ hear us.
Christ graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity One God,

Holy Mary, pray for us.
St. Joseph,
St. Francis of Assisi,
St. Thomas Aquinas,

Gilbert Chesterton, pray for us.
Son of Edward and Marie,
Brother of Cecil and Beatrice,
Friend of Bentley, Belloc and Baring,
Faithful husband of Frances Blogg,
Adopted "uncle" of local children,
Remarkable opponent in debate,
Man of colossal genius, (Shaw in GKC 367)

Jolly journalist,
Prolific essayist,
Author of mysteries,
Indefatigable writer,
Guide for converts,
Lover of paradox, (FVF)
Ethicist of Elfland, (Orth)
Preacher against Pride, (TCM)

Defendant of Penny Dreadfuls,
Defendant of Skeletons,
Defendant of Nonsense,
Defendant of Heraldry,
Defendant of Baby-worship,

Challenger of Wells and Shaw,
Challenger of Darwin and Darrow,
Challenger of Nietzsche and Hitler,
Challenger of the modern world,

Opponent of diabolism,
Opponent of eugenics,
Opponent of tyranny,
Opponent of falsehood,

Praiser of Humility, (TCM)
Praiser of Obedience, (Surprise)
Praiser of Gratitude, (Orth, SHE)
Praiser of Reality,

Poet and Lunatic,
Poet of Lepanto,
Poet of the White Horse,
Poet of Eternities,
Poet of the Arena,
Gracious poet of the Queen of Seven Swords,

The man who rebutted heretics,
The man who revealed orthodoxy,
The man who noticed tremendous trifles,
The man who considered all things,
The man who could take himself lightly, (Orth CW1:325)
The man who discovered England, (Orth CW1:213)
The man who saw the extraordinary everywhere, (TT 6)
The man who chose light over darkness (Ward GKC 650)

Biographer of the Jongleur of Assisi,
Biographer of the Angelic Doctor,
Steadfast follower of the Everlasting Man,

Interpreter of Science, (Jaki CASOS)
Antagonist of Scientism, (Jaki CASOS)
Critic of Evolutionism, (Jaki CASOS)
Champion of the Universe, (Jaki CASOS)

Devoted son of Holy Church, (Pope Pius XI in Ward GKC 652)
Gifted defender of the Catholic faith, (Pope Pius XI in Ward GKC 652)
Knight of the Holy Ghost, (Walter de la Mare in Ward GKC 651)

Frances, who cared for Gilbert,
Frances, who loved Gilbert,
Frances, who assisted Gilbert,
Frances, without whom Gilbert could do nothing,

Frances and Gilbert, united in holy Matrimony,

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us oh Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us oh Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Let us pray.

Almighty and ever-living God, hear the prayers of your faithful people, and if it be Your holy will deign to grant to Your servants Frances and Gilbert the honors of the altar. Through Jesus Christ the Everlasting Man, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This June 28 let's meet in Iceland...

This Sunday, June 28, is the great day on which geologists - and indeed all scientists - all over the world remember the beginning of a most amazing adventure - the adventure which began in Iceland so many years ago on a clear, crisp, sunny June 28.
Might I be permitted to recall the document which made it possible?
In Sneffels yoculis craterem kem delebat Umbra Scartaris Julii intra calendas descende Audas viator, et terrestre centrum attinges.
Kod feci.
Arne Saknussemm.
Which dog Latin being translated, reads as follows:
Descend into the crater of Yocul of Sneffels, which the shade of Scartaris caresses, before the kalends of July, audacious traveler, and you will reach the center of the earth.
I did it.
Arne Saknussemm.
Indeed, though few of the wonderful tales of the great Jules Verne remain to be fulfilled, yet this one still stands as a triumph to the audacious - thank God it is a quality not restricted to geologists, or even scientists!

And I must tell you that though this plan may seem to be sheer fiction, it is not entirely so!

For, on one of the first days after I arrived as a brand new curious freshman at the-school-which-must-not-be-named, I went to the library, wandering in utter delight at the thought of so many new books to read - and I remembered that here would surely be a place wherein I might find highly detailed maps... so I sought out an atlas which would show Iceland in as high a resolution as might be available.

And behold, I saw that there really is a Jokullsneffels and a Scartaris!

So! When shall we go and follow the audacious Arne Saknussemm? What an adventure! What possibilities of new knowledge! What are we waiting for?

Let us make haste, and then join with Hans as he orders "Forüt" - Forward!

To the center of the earth!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Sacred Heart

Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus - which really is nothing more than a feast day to remember that "God is Love". [1John 4:16] I ought to quote something from Fr. Jaki's book on the Litany of the Sacred Heart, which points out how important this devotion is - or should be. He reveals that Pope Leo XIII considered that the consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart was "the most important action" of his papacy - which is saying quite a bit. But I cannot give you all the relevant excerpts just now - I would be quoting the whole book!

Instead, I will give you another quote, which Fr. Jaki references several times - it took a bit of hunting to find a use where he gave the annotation, and it is this, from one of his most recent books:
If it were not for the usual closeness of March 25 to the Holy Week, it might not be impracticable to make the Visitation the octave of Annunciation. This would provide another stunning seal of the Church's respect for any and all foetus as a truly human being. But even as it stands, the Feast of the Visitation powerfully translates the principle of legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi and should thereby serve as a strong guidance in an agonizing confrontation. Of course, what happened at the Annunciation is a far greater fact than the visit made in virtue of the fact. But the actual human recognition of that fact came only with the visitation of Christ to John the Baptist, the visit of the Creator become-a-mere-fetus to the greatest of mere human fetuses ever alive in a woman's womb.
[SLJ The Ethical Foundations of Bioethics 134]
Father Jaki gives the translation and source of this Latin formula,
legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi
in footnote 4 of chapter 11:
"Let the law of prayer determine the law of belief," or Saint Prosper's of Aquitaine famous "practical" defense of the true doctrine of grace against the semi-Pelagians.
[Ibid. 136]
Here it needs to be recalled that
As a mammalian embryo advances through the stages characterized by cleavage, morula, blastocyst and germ layers, it satisfies all its metabolic needs by simple, diffusive interchanges with the fluid medium in which it is immersed. But as the embryo continues to gain size and begins to take form, a functioning circulatory system becomes necessary in order to make use of the required food and oxygen obtainable from the mother's blood. Hence it is that the heart and blood vessels are the first organ system to reach a functional state.
[Arey, Developmental Anatomy 375]
As important as this is, I wish to suggest a larger - hence a Chestertonian - study for us to consider today, yetone which unites these two thoughts in that most loving heart of our Lord:
We have all heard people say a hundred times over, for they seem never to tire of saying it, that the Jesus of the New Testament is indeed a most merciful and humane lover of humanity, but that the Church has hidden this human character in repellent dogmas and stiffened it with ecclesiastical terrors until it has taken on an inhuman character. This is, I venture to repeat, very nearly the reverse of the truth. The truth is that it is the image of Christ in the churches that is almost entirely mild and merciful. It is the image of Christ in the Gospels that is a good many other things as well. The figure in the Gospels does indeed utter in words of almost heartbreaking beauty his pity for our broken hearts. But they are very far from being the only sort of words that he utters. Nevertheless they are almost the only kind of words that the Church in its popular imagery ever represents him as uttering. That popular imagery is inspired by a perfectly sound popular instinct. The mass of the poor are broken, and the mass of the people are poor, and for the mass of mankind the main thing is to carry the conviction of the incredible compassion of God. But nobody with his eyes open [See OrthodoxyCW1:336] can doubt that it is chiefly this idea of compassion that the popular machinery of the Church does seek to carry. The popular imagery carries a great deal to excess the sentiment of "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild." It is the first thing that the outsider feels and criticises in a Pieta or a shrine of the Sacred Heart. As I say, while the art may be insufficient, I am not sure that the instinct is unsound. In any case, there is something appalling, something that makes the blood run cold, in the idea of having a statue of Christ in wrath. There is something insupportable even to the imagination in the idea of turning the corner of a street or coming out into the spaces of a market-place, to meet the petrifying petrifaction of that figure as it turned upon a generation of vipers [Mt 23:33], or that face as it looked at the face of a hypocrite [Mt 15:7]. The Church can reasonably be justified therefore if she turns the most merciful face or aspect towards men; but it is certainly the most merciful aspect that she does turn.
[GKC The Everlasting Man CW2:319-30]

Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, have mercy on us. [See Col 2:3]

Sunday, June 14, 2009

June 14 1936

For you to remember today. The liturgical calendar of 2009 coincides with that of 1936. (Bear in mind that the feast of Corpus Christi was transferred to Sunday for America; it is NOT that way in Roma. Today IS the Sunday in the Octave.)

--Dr. Thursday

The summer was cold and bleak and the tour was all too short. Home again GKC's mind seemed not to grip as well as usual and he began to fall asleep during his long hours of work. The doctor was called and thought very seriously of the state of his heart - that heart which many years ago another doctor had called too small for his enormous frame. The thought of a Chesterton whose heart was too small presents a paradox in his own best manner. ... Soon after this he fell into a sort of reverie from which awaking he said:

"The issue is now quite clear. It is between light and darkness and every one must choose his side."

Frances and he had both thought his recovery in 1916 was a miracle. "I did not dare," said Frances, "to pray for another miracle."

Monsignor Smith anointed him and then Father Vincent arrived in response to a message from Frances which he thought meant she wanted him to see Gilbert for the last time. Taken to the sick room he sang over the dying man the Salve Regina. This hymn to Our Lady is sung in the Dominican Order over every dying friar and it was surely fitting for the biographer of St. Thomas and the ardent suppliant of Our Lady:

"Salve Regina, mater misericordiae, vita dulcedo et spes nostra salve.... Et Jesum benedictum fructum ventris tui nobis post hoc exsilium ostende...."

Gilbert's pen lay on the table beside his bed and Father Vincent picked it up and kissed it.

It was June 14, 1936, the Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi, the same Feast as his reception into the Church fourteen years earlier. The Introit for that day's Mass was printed on his Memorial card, so that, as Father Ignatius Rice noted with a smile, even his Memorial card had a joke about his size:
The Lord became my protector and he brought me forth into a large place. He saved me because he was well pleased with me. I will love Thee O Lord my strength. The Lord is my firmament and my refuge and my deliverer. [Ps 17:19-20; 2-3]

[Ward, Gilbert Keith Chesterton 650-651, emphasis added]