Friday, November 18, 2011

About being awake

In my slow but on-going work on my Saga, I have had to consult some of the most unusual and rare references. It has been fun, and most instructive as well as surprising.

One of the most curious and rare references I am using is the Pontificale Romanum, which is the ritual book for bishops. It contains ceremonies like the various forms of ordination (lower orders, Deacon, Priest, Bishop); the consecration of a church or an altar, and many others. I was particularly interested in the ritual for the blessing of bells, which is surprisingly complicated and very beautiful - and perhaps another time I will say something about it. But there was something else which proved to be even more valuable, even as it blew me away.

For there is also a ritual called De Benedictione novi Militis = "On the blessing of the new Knight". (You can find an on-line edition here.) Wow. Talk about surprising! Yes, we could here go off into things like "just war" "capital punishment" or even "self-defence" - or about that most militant of psalms, the one everybody thinks is so peaceful, that begins "The Lord is my Shepherd" - which is quite fitting as a reminder to Bishops, since no real shepherd goes into Dark Valleys unarmed - but the Lord has His rod and His staff... and so we are comforted - which means strengthened.

Ahem. But I wanted to talk about that knight ritual. It is all very startling, but there is one bit which might be the most surprising of all. After the bishop taps the new knight three times with the sword - which is also blessed, and WHOA what a blessing it is! (Imagine a blessing for guns or fighter jets...) Sorry. After the three taps with the sword, the rubrics (instructions) run like this:
The Bishop with his right hand gives the new knight a light blow (slap), saying:
Exciteris a somno malitiae, et vigila in fide Christi, et fama laudabili.
(that is, roughly)
May you be aroused from the sleep of malice, and watch (be on guard, be vigilant) in the faith of Christ, and (in) praiseworthy reputation.
We may not be knights, but we ought to live like them: let us indeed be roused from the sleep of malice, and be watchful in the faith of Christ - which leads to a praiseworthy reputation.

And if you haven't picked up on the link from such a curious thing to Science-writ-large, you are still asleep. Take a GOOD LOOK again, and remember, you ain't gonna see very much of Reality if your eyes are closed...
No two ideals could be more opposite than a Christian saint in a Gothic cathedral and a Buddhist saint in a Chinese temple. The opposition exists at every point; but perhaps the shortest statement of it is that the Buddhist saint always has his eyes shut, while the Christian saint always has them very wide open. The Buddhist saint has a sleek and harmonious body, but his eyes are heavy and sealed with sleep. The mediaeval saint's body is wasted to its crazy bones, but his eyes are frightfully alive.
[GKC Orthodoxy CW1:336]
Or, as I have quoted many times before:
...the object of my school is to show how many extraordinary things even a lazy and ordinary man may see if he can spur himself to the single activity of seeing.
[GKC Tremendous Trifles 6]
You note he says "school" - this is a very Idea-of-a-University, Cardinal Newman sort of slant, you know: it's not just for Science, my dear literary and philosophical friends. Time to wake up and get busy...


Post a Comment

<< Home