Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thoughts Inspired by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, Part 1 ½ (Murder in the Cathedral)

Not exactly Part II yet, as I'm still organizing my thoughts about the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire as a reaction to the Byzantine Iconoclasm, and the Gregorian-Cluniac Reform as an assertion of ecclesiastical primacy in the West, as opposed to the imperial primacy that had clearly taken hold in the East and the rumblings of statist ambition through the Investiture Controversy.

Nevertheless, it is today the feast of St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, martyred on the (perhaps misunderstood) command of King Henry II of England. Becket began his ecclesiastical life as a loyalist to Henry, but became his enemy when Henry promoted the Constitutions of Clarendon, curbing much of the Church's power in English public life. Becket remains one of the first martyrs to have met his end at the hand of a Catholic potentate.

Rorate Caeli has some excellent lines for reflection from Murder in the Cathedral, a play by the 20th century's finest writer, T.S. Eliot, here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thoughts Inspired by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, Part I

On this day, St. Stephen's Day, in 1790, one of the most damaging pieces of legislation in the Western world became law. France's revolutionary government required all clergy to swear loyalty to the civil constitution--and indeed, this was the revolution at its mildest, before Robespierre and the Terror. Certainly, allegiance of the Church to the sovereign or state had been something strongly promoted before the Revolution, during the age of "enlightened despotry" (Gallicanism, Febronianism, etc.), and we can of course not forget that so many Protestant Churches were state-churches.

However, the principle of ecclesiastical patriotism is profoundly un-Western, and quite alien to the practice of Christianity even in Biblical times. Pray tell, is not the Apocalypse of St. John a thinly veiled vilification of the Roman state as a false deity? Historically do not state-churches generally relegate into caesaropapism?

It can be argued that the schism between the East and the West was not so much a matter of theology, but rather that of a differeing conception of the state. It has been said that iconomachy (the destruction of icons) in action is monachomachy (the killing of monks). Note this from an Eastern Orthodox article about iconoclasm:

Constantine V is well-known for his cruel persecution of monasteries and monks. "Ever since he became emperor," writes Theosterictus, "his entire purpose and desire was to wipe out the entire monastic garb."[16] Constantine forced monks to parade in the hippodrome at Constantinople, each leading a woman by the hand. Upon finding out that the persecution carried out by the 'strategos' (i.e., army general) Michael Lakhanodrakon had left no monk in the Thracesian theme, the emperor wrote to him, "I found you a man after my own heart; you are acting as I wish."[17] Monasteries were taken away from the monks and transformed into public houses. Laymen were forbidden or prevented from entering monasteries. All this led to wide migration of monks to areas beyond the control of the emperor's persecutions.

It is worth noting, in this context, that iconophiles consisted mainly of monks and laymen, whereas the iconoclast faction usually comprised of the emperor, the civil service, and the army. Therefore, any persecution of iconophiles entailed a persecution of monks.[18] The latter (persecution of monks), however, could sometimes constitute the hidden agenda of the former, as actually occurred with Constantine V. The real target was, in some cases, the monk and not the icon.

What this reveals is not merely a desire for the dissolution of the Byzantine monasteries, but moreover a determination to break the power of 'the holy man' (ho hagios, who was usually a monk) in Byzantine society. The holy man of monastic background formed a locus of power that was independent and centrifugal: he met needs that were private, not collective; he was often situated in a non-urban environment (e.g., in a desert or provincial monastery); and his power or holiness was not invested by an appropriate authority, such as a bishop. Consequently, both emperor and bishop often felt their ecclesiastical and political authority threatened by the social influence exerted by the holy man. Thus, the monachomachy of Constantine V and the numerous bishops who followed him - which included the secularization of monastic property, the burning of books such as the Sayings of the Fathers, and forbidding people to visit an 'abba' or to receive communion from him - was aimed at severing the links between the monastic spiritual adviser and his clientele, links which were viewed as undermining the vested power structures of the church and empire.

The Byzantine Empire had maintained the apparatus and infrastructure of the old Roman Empire, while the West remained feudal and tribal. I don't doubt for a moment that it is largely in response to the persecutions in Constantinople that the Pope crowned another Roman Emperor in 800--this one subject to the Church.

To be continued...

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia under a Creative Commons license)

Shakespeare in Rome?

It has long been thought that the Bard was a Roman Catholic, and rightly so, I believe. Protestants just don't understand human nature so well. The finest newspaper in the Anglophone world, The Telegraph, presents further evidence thereof here.

Certainly, however, Shakespeare was married to Ann Hathaway at the time, so he would not have been a seminarian at the Venerable English College at the time. As to his business in Rome, we can only speculate.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Return of the King

On the 800th birthday of Jesus Christ, Charles, King of the Franks, was crowned Augustus Caesar, Emperor of the Romans, by Pope St. Leo III. The Mad Monarchist explains this pivotal event in Christendom here.

To all my readers

Gaudete, Christus est natus ex Maria Virgine!

I give you all my most heartfelt wishes for a merry and most joyous Christmas. Thank you all for visiting this year. I lament that late in the year, work and technical problems have prevented me from posting as much as I would like. This is a situation I hope to address in 2010.

May the Infant Jesus bless and keep you all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Be England thy dowry as in days of yore

An ex-voto in thanksgiving for the excellent news received today. The reintegration of the Anglo-Catholics into the heart of Mother Church will no doubt do much to bring a more "High-Church" liturgical ethos back and promote the furtherance of the Ratzinger Revolution. I am quite happy for the return of any liturgical traditionalist back into the fold, and I certainly hope that the beautiful Tudor prose and stunning choirs of the Anglican tradition will do much to enrich our fair Mother Church just as the Eastern Divine Liturgies said by those Churches in union with us have. I especially hope that the influence of this will be felt in the vernacular practice of the OF Roman Rite throughout the Anglophone world.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Les Plaines d'Abraham

Forgive me from having been absent from my blog for a time.

Yesterday marked the 250th anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, usually reckoned as the transfer of Canada from French to British sovereignty. Much ink will be spilt on this when time warrants.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tragedy of the House of Kennedy

My senator, Ted Kennedy, passed away this morning.

I do not plan on this blog to address the vicissitudes of partisan politics in the United States, being utterly repelled by both of our two parties, the Whigs and the Bonapartists. However, Kennedy's death brings several broader cultural issues into focus. Though there is no contradiction between the two, I will address this first primarily as a monarchist, and then primarily as a Catholic.

To begin, it has often been remarked since the "Camelot" days of JFK's presidency that the Kennedys were a species of American royal family. To this day, those who know little of the policy of John or Robert Kennedy know their image, their oratory, Jackie's grace, and, of course, their tragic deaths. It may indeed be somewhat stretching it to call them royalty, fo that would imply an ecclesiastical mandate and consecration, but they were no doubt a nobility, which can be witnessed by the esteem in which John and Robert are held to this day, and even in the esteem in which Ted was held even across the Senate aisle until his death. For after all, a true aristocrat is not a ravenous ideologue, an intellectual fundamentalist who savages his opposition, but rather a magnanimous man, who has principles and stands by them, but whose opponents will nevertheless go away from a discussion or even argument with him with a much greater respect for him, a man who understands that his calling is not to favour himself or his friends unduly, but to provide service for others, for all, even those we dislike the most. In the ugly business we call law-making, Ted Kennedy had served in the United States Senate since 1962, since a more humane and genteel day, before political culture degenerated into the war dogs of the New Left and neoconservative ideologies barking at one another. The loss of Ted Kennedy is an indication that the American governmental process, as deficient as it always has been, is only going to get worse--and I say this even despite the fact that I almost always had sharp disageements with the Senator.

Now I indeed half-expect some contrary commentary from some of my co-religionists about my gall in eulogizing a man who dared support abortion (aside, another topic generally verboten on this blog; let's not congratulate ourselves for holding the right point of view, for even the Pharisees do that, and let's indeed not be tricked by various warmongers, despots, and demagogues who think abortion the key to our vote. As I said before, all their ideologies are rotten and un-Catholic.) and other radicalisms of the New Left while still calling himself Catholic. This brings into relief another important observation. Like the Kennedys I am from Massachusetts. And the Northeast is both the most strongly Catholic (by self-identification) and the most strongly Democratic part of the United States. Until the 1960s-70s, this would seem unsurprising and rather natural, as the Republicans of early century were the party of wealthy, liberal-Protestant, often eugenicist, industrialist "progressives" whereas the Democrats were the party of working-class urban Catholics and various regionalists (like the Southerners). However, the Democrats of today have become the Republicans of yesteryear, the Republicans of today have become imperialists, and the old Catholic Democrats have become politically homeless.

What has happened? That's easy to explain with but one word: assimilation. Catholics, long regarded as foreigners and scarcely even as "white," finally found themselves with a new respectability in American society at some point in mid-century, found their social, educational, etc. needs met now by FDR's New Deal state, rather than by the Church structures that had done so since they had got off the boat, and moved out of their ethnic enclaves in the cities to a ranch house with lace curtains in that surreal, cultureless place known as suburbia. Thus fell the "machines" like Tammany Hall which had characterized urban Catholic politics. Before long, Catholics saw themselves as indistinct from their non-Catholic neighbours. Then the liturgy lost its distinct qualities. Then the Catholic universities revolted and a generation joined in the radically-stoked temper tantrum of the 1960s. And they're still here today, quite comfortable with their Marty Haugen earworms and their National Catholic Reporter. And now there seem to be two flavours of American Catholicism: liberal-Protestant (John XXIII Santo subito!) and evangelical-Protestant (John Paul II Santo subito!)

But back to the Kennedys. P.J. Kennedy and John F. Fitzgerald were old hands at the old urban ward politics, and the shrewd business practices of Joseph P. Kennedy brought the family to national prominence. All were fighters, tough men who simply refused to quit. And all were pious Catholics. Joe Kennedy was quite close, I understand, to Cardinal Spellman and Cardinal Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII (Santo subito!). I also noted this on Orbis Catholicvs:

"I once heard that when Cardinal Pacelli came to the USA in 1936 little four-year-old Teddy climbed up on his lap to say hello when the Cardinal paid a visit to the Kennedy family at their Bronxville, NY home and that Teddy was confirmed by the newly elected Pius XII when he went to the Vatican for the coronation of the new Pope in 1939. After the coronation he and the family were received into a private audience with the Pope. Ted was later married by Cardinal Spellman in 1958."

And so like the rest of my neighbours, the Kennedys finally made good--better than good, they became a significant national dynasty--and slacked off. Ted's crossbench work in the Senate, like so many other old icons, too will fade in the age of homogeneous barbarity we seem to be entering. May God have mercy on his soul.

+Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetuam luceat ei.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

St. Louis IX de France

The feast day of our finest king.

Crusader, patron of the arts, and pious Catholic. Perhaps more so than anyone else, St. Louis IX exemplifies Christian kingship.

Vive le roy!

My thanks to Mme Vidal.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The archbishop vs. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Courtesy of Rod Dreher

"In our conversations with young people, we have to avoid the temptation to fudge--to adapt the Catholic faith so as to make it palatable to modern tastes and expectations. This so-called "accommodationist" approach generally fails, and it fails doubly with young people. There is a risk in this approach that the Christian message becomes indistinguishable from everything else on offer in the market stalls of secularised religious faith: "In the powerful yet soft secularising totalitarianism of distinctively modern culture, our greatest enemy is...the Church's 'own internal secularisation' which, when it occurs, does so through the '...largely unconscious' adoption of the 'ideas and practices' of seemingly 'benign adversaries'" (Nichols 2008, 141)."

My sentiments exactly--so much so that this reads exactly like a letter I wrote to a prince of the Church some three years ago.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Roncevaux Pass

Today fell the greatest knight of the greatest emperor ever to rule in Christendom:

  "Ah!  Durendal, white art thou, clear of stain!
Beneath the sun reflecting back his rays!
In Moriane was Charles, in the vale,
When from heaven God by His angel bade
Him give thee to a count and capitain;
Girt thee on me that noble King and great.
I won for him with thee Anjou, Bretaigne,
And won for him with thee Peitou, the Maine,
And Normandy the free for him I gained,
Also with thee Provence and Equitaigne,
And Lumbardie and all the whole Romaigne,
I won Baivere, all Flanders in the plain,
Also Burguigne and all the whole Puillane,
Costentinnople, that homage to him pays;
In Saisonie all is as he ordains;
With thee I won him Scotland, Ireland, Wales,
England also, where he his chamber makes;
Won I with thee so many countries strange
That Charles holds, whose beard is white with age!
For this sword's sake sorrow upon me weighs,
Rather I'ld die, than it mid pagans stay.
Lord God Father, never let France be shamed!"

(from the Song of Roland)
Vive le Roy!

In honour of the Queen above all others

O how does the source of life pass through death to life? O how can she obey the law of nature, who, in conceiving, surpasses the boundaries of nature? How is her spotless body made subject to death? In order to be clothed with immortality she must first put off mortality, since the Lord of nature did not reject the penalty of death. She dies according to the flesh, destroys death by death, and through corruption gains incorruption, and makes her death the source of resurrection. O how does Almighty God receive with His own hands the holy disembodied soul of our Lord's Mother! He honours her truly, whom being His servant by nature, He made His Mother, in His inscrutable abyss of mercy, when He became incarnate in very truth. We may well believe that the angelic choirs waited to receive thy departing soul. O what a blessed departure this going to God of thine. If God vouchsafes it to all His servants--and we know that He does--what an immense difference there is between His servants and His Mother. What, then, shall we call this mystery of thine? Death? Thy blessed soul is naturally parted from thy blissful and undefiled body, and the body is delivered to the grave, yet it does not endure in death, nor is it the prey of corruption. The body of her, whose virginity remained unspotted in child-birth, was preserved in its incorruption, and was taken to a better, diviner place, where death is not, but eternal life. Just as the glorious sun may be hidden momentarily by the opaque moon, it shows still though covered, and its rays illumine the darkness since light belongs to its essence. It has in itself a perpetual source of light, or rather it is the source of light as God created it. So art thou the perennial source of true light, the treasury of life itself, the richness of grace, the cause and medium of all our goods. And if for a time thou art hidden by the death of the body, without speaking, thou art our light, life-giving ambrosia, true happiness, a sea of grace, a fountain of healing and of perpetual blessing. Thou art as a fruitful tree in the forest, and thy fruit is sweet in the mouth of the faithful. Therefore I will not call thy sacred transformation death, but rest or going home, and it is more truly a going home. Putting off corporeal things, thou dwellest in a happier state.

Angels with archangels bear thee up. Impure spirits trembled at thy departure. The air raises a hymn of praise at thy passage, and the atmosphere is purified. Heaven receives thy soul with joy. The heavenly powers greet thee with sacred canticles and with joyous praise, saying : "Who is this most pure creature ascending, shining as the dawn, beautiful as the moon, conspicuous as the sun? How sweet and lovely thou art, the lily of the field, the rose among thorns; therefore the young maidens loved thee. We are drawn after the odour of thy ointments. The King introduced thee into His chamber. There Powers protect thee, Principalities praise thee, Thrones proclaim thee, Cherubim are hushed in joy, and Seraphim magnify the true Mother by nature and by grace of their very Lord. Thou wert not taken into heaven as Elias was, nor didst thou penetrate to the third heaven with Paul, but thou didst reach the royal throne itself of thy Son, seeing it with thy own eyes, standing by it in joy and unspeakable familiarity. O gladness of angels and of all heavenly powers, sweetness of patriarchs and of the just, perpetual exultation of prophets, rejoicing the world and sanctifying all things, refreshment of the weary, comfort of the sorrowful, remission of sins, health of the sick, harbour of the storm-tossed, lasting strength of mourners, and perpetual succour of all who invoke thee.

O wonder surpassing nature and creating wonder! Death, which of old was feared and hated, is a matter of praise and blessing. Of old it was the harbinger of grief, dejection, tears, and sadness, and now it is shown forth as the cause of joy and rejoicing. In the case of all God's servants, whose death is extolled, His good pleasure is surmised from their holy end, and therefore their death is blessed. It shows them to be perfect, blessed and immovable in goodness, as the proverb says: "Praise no man before his death." This, however, we do not apply to thee. Thy blessedness was not death, nor was dying thy perfection, nor, again, did thy departure hence help thee to security. Thou art the beginning, middle, and end of all goods transcending mind, for thy Son in His conception and divine dwelling in thee is made our sure and true security. Thus thy words were true: from the moment of His conception, not from thy death, thou didst say all generations should call thee blessed. It was thou who didst break the force of death, paying its penalty, and making it gracious. Hence, when thy holy and sinless body was taken to the tomb, the choirs of angels bore it, and were all around, leaving nothing undone for the honour of our Lord's Mother, whilst apostles and all the assembly of the Church burst into prophetic song, saying: "We shall be filled with the good things of Thy house, holy is Thy temple, wonderful in justice." And again: "The Most High has sanctified His tabernacle. The mountain of God is a fertile mountain, the mountain in which it pleased God to dwell." The apostolic band lifting the true ark of the Lord God on their shoulders, as the priests of old the typical ark, and placing thy body in the tomb, made it, as if another Jordan, the way to the true land of the gospel, the heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of all the faithful, God being its Lord and architect. Thy soul did not descend to Limbo, neither did thy flesh see corruption. Thy pure and spotless body was not left in the earth, but the abode of the Queen, of God's true Mother, was fixed in the heavenly kingdom alone.

O how did heaven receive her who is greater than heaven? How did she, who had received God, descend into the grave? This truly happened, and she was held by the tomb. It was not after bodily wise that she surpassed heaven. For how can a body measuring three cubits, and continually losing flesh, be compared with the dimensions of heaven ? It was rather by grace that she surpassed all height and depth, for that which is divine is incomparable. O sacred and wonderful, holy and worshipful body, ministered to now by angels, standing by in lowly reverence. Demons tremble: men approach with faith, honouring and worshipping her, greeting her with eyes and lips, and drawing down upon themselves abundant blessings. Just as a rich scent sprinkled upon clothes or places, leaves its fragrance even after it has been withdrawn, so now that holy, undefiled, and divine body, filled with heavenly fragrance, the rich source of grace, is laid in the tomb that it may be translated to a higher and better place. Nor did she leave the grave empty; her body imparted to it a divine fragrance, a source of healing, and of all good for those who approach it with faith.

We, too, approach thee to-day, O Queen; and again, I say, O Queen, O Virgin Mother of God, staying our souls with our trust in thee, as with a strong anchor. Lifting up mind, soul and body, and all ourselves to thee, rejoicing in psalms and hymns and spiritual canticles, we reach through thee One who is beyond our reach on account of His Majesty. If, as the divine Word made flesh taught us, honour shown to servants, is honour shown to our common Lord, how can honour shown to thee, His Mother, be slighted? How is it not most desirable? Art thou not honoured as the very breath of life? Thus shall we best show our service to our Lord Himself. What do I say to our Lord? It is sufficient that those who think of Thee should recall the memory of Thy most precious gift as the cause of our lasting joy. How it fills us with gladness! How the mind that dwells on this holy treasury of Thy grace enriches itself.

This is our thank-offering to thee, the first fruits of our discourses, the best homage of my poor mind, whilst I am moved by desire of thee, and full of my own misery. But do thou graciously receive my desire, knowing that it exceeds my power. Watch over us, O Queen, the dwelling-place of our Lord. Lead and govern all our ways as thou wilt. Save us from our sins. Lead us into the calm harbour of the divine will. Make us worthy of future happiness through the sweet and face-to-face vision of the Word made flesh through thee. With Him, glory, praise, power, and majesty be to the Father and to the holy and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

-St. John of Damascus

Monday, August 10, 2009

The End of the French Monarchy

Madame Vidal, Monsieur de Brantigny, and Madame Delors relate the events of this tragic day.

It always strikes me that those who shout most loudly against "tyranny" always aver themselves tyrants in the end, just as Dr. Johnson said that the loudest cries for liberty always come from the drivers of slaves.

Face it, the basis of democracy is hypocrisy; the tyranny we endure now in the States and indeed throughout the West is far worse than when a Christian king was running the show.

Vive le Roi!

In dedication to the Swiss Guards slain during the riot of the sans-culottes:

My thanks to all.

Back from a brief respite

Dear friends,

Kindly forgive my having been away for a spell; certain issues needed to be dealt with. Among them were compiling a list of all the books I've read over the past 15 years. Needless to say, it's been somewhat arduous.

Nevertheless, Et Lux in Tenebris Lucet is still operational, and the reasons why I've been composing all my various vitaes shall be made apparent within the very near future, as I contribute my promised essays on the man behind the blog.

I do find myself now with some liberty, and so I can presently resume where I left off.


Friday, July 31, 2009

St. Ignatius of Loyola

The brave Basque soldier-saint, author of the Spiritual Exercises, whose spiritual sons, the Society of Jesus, are in many ways responsible for the spread of Christianity to lands not even known a century before his birth, and for the revitalization of Catholicism in Europe in the face of the Protestant Reformation and rampant cynicism.

Dearest Lord,
teach me to be generous.
teach me to serve You as You deserve;
to give and not to count the cost;
to fight, and not to heed the wounds;
to labor, and not to seek to rest;
to give of myself and not to ask for reward,
except the reward of knowing that I am doing
Your will.

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some thoughts on neo-conservatism

I came across this piece in The American Conservative by way of The Western Confucian. Indeed, George Weigel's reaction to Caritas in Veritate gives me much to speak about what is, to my mind, the gravest impending problem in American Catholicism: neo-conservatism, or, perhaps more appropriately, neo-Bonapartism.

Napoléon Bonaparte, like the contemporary American neocons, was a conservative liberal; he scarcely cared much for the traditions of France outside the army, and resisted any effort to restore the monarchy of France. He stood firmly for the results of the French Revolution, with the caveat that it needed the law and order which only he and the army could provide after it degenerated into anarchy. And also like the neocons, he was an imperialist, believing that the rest of Europe would greatly benefit from what that band of drunken hooligans did in 1789 and determined to make it so through force of arms. Yet Napoleon was not content merely to wipe out political principalities; no, he and Pope Pius VII came into a very bitter dispute over the issue of control of the Church, which resulted in Napoleon's excommunication and Pius's kidnapping and imprisonment for six years.

It is plainly evident that the neocons want a civil religion; one need only read their intellectual forefather Leo Strauss, a cynical and atheistic Jew, who promoted civic religion as a sort of Marxian "opiate of the people," to lull them into complacency and ignorance of what his elitist and totalitarian cadre was actually up to. Perhaps they tried using the evangelical megachurches in the vast suburban wastelands without any memory or charm, and perhaps they still are, particularly those Norman Vincent Peale types who are becoming quite rich preaching a very cozy gospel in which a God without wrath brings men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the merits of a Christ without a cross, and everyone feels quite good about themselves. There is, however, a subset among them that desires to see the much more centralized, standardized Catholicism as the new civil religion, and in order for that to take place, they realize that they have a formidable foe in the Papacy, and in a Catholic tradition that does not see imperialistic liberal democracy as the eschaton, and indeed remembers Napoleon all too well.

More forthcoming shortly on this issue.

The soul of England lives in the public house

A reflection from The Telegraph, by way of The Monarchist.

I've noted in the past that the Hudson often seems wider than the Atlantic, i.e., that my native New England shares more in common with the westmost parts of Europe than it does with the rest of North America. That said, I love my taverns, those quiet, cozy holes-in-the-wall where I can meet friends and acquaintances over a pint or two of Guinness. And so many of them tend to be closing for a few months and opening under new management and with far less character than before (and with louder music of terrible quality), leaving my circle often with no place to gather comfortably.

As much a travesty as this is, however, these are only commercial establishments that hadn't even been open 20 or 30 years before their transformation. The English pub, on the other hand, is an establishment from time immemorial, part indeed of what makes England England. To see so valuable a part of English culture vanishing in favour of a bland and tawdry homogenization to some sort of suburbia, in which men graze like cattle rather than living as men, should put any defender of tradition--religious, cultural, or otherwise--up in arms. The House of Lords goes, fox-hunting goes, the public house goes; what will be next?

From the comment section here: "When the last inn closes, then go drown your empty selves, for you will have destroyed the last of England." Hilaire Belloc

My thanks to The Monarchist.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Voyages of Jacques Cartier

It is reported that I am a direct descendant of Jacques Cartier, the Breton navigator who was (excepting perhaps St. Brendan) the first European to sail the St. Lawrence, while under a commission from King François I. Believing the St. Lawrence to be the Northwest Passage, he claimed the lands about it for the King of France. These lands were the root of what we now call Québec. I think it a most appropriate day to recall my noble ancestor, so important to the history of these two lands under the patronage of St. Anne, and all my forbears to have resided in these great North Atlantic lands. Cartier's voyages can be read about here.

I should note that, now that I have a readership (for which I am quite appreciative to you all), I will be celebrating one month in business here by posting more about my ancestry and heritage, and revealing some about the man behind the blog.

Vive le Québec!
Breizh Atao!

Mother of the Mother of God

Glorious Saint Anne,
Filled with compassion
For those who invoke you
And with love for those who suffer,
Heavily laden with the weight of my troubles,
I cast myself at your feet
And humbly beg you
To take the present affair
Which I commend to you
Under your special protection.

(Mention the request.)

Deign to commend it to your daughter,
The Blessed Virgin Mary,
And lay it before the throne of Jesus,
So that He may bring it to a happy issue.

Cease not to intercede for me
until my request is granted.

Above all,
Obtain for me the grace
Of one day beholding my God
Face to face,
And with you and Mary
And all the saints,
Praising and blessing Him
for all eternity.

Pray for us, St. Anne.
That we may be made worthy
Of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray

O Almighty and eternal God,
Who chose St. Anne
To bring into the world
The Mother of Your only Son,
Mercifully grant to us,
We beseech You,
Who devoutly honor her memory,
Grace to obtain through her merits,
The blessings of eternal life.
Who lives and reigns
The world without end.


Good St. Anne,
Mother of her who is our life,
Our sweetness and our hope,
Pray for me. Amen.

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory Be...

Saint Anne is the patron saint of Québec and of Brittany. While studying in Québec City, I would take every opportunity I could to travel the 30 or so km downriver to the Basilica of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré, doubtlessly one of the loveliest churches of North America. The churches of Québec are prominently situated in every town and village, visible for miles, a very tangible reminder of the staunch Catholicism of this land before the Quiet Revolution, and Ste-Anne is no exception. Indeed, it is a massive church, appearing huge when first sighted from the autoroute several towns away, and, upon arrival, the grandeur and immensity thereof simply dwarfs one. I was indeed very blessed to have prayed in this glorious place and to have ascended the Holy Stair there.

Ste. Anne, St. Joachim, priez pour nous.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

While we're on Moor-Killers...

My thanks to Agnes.

¡Viva España!

¡y Viva Galiza!

¡y Viva el Rey! (photo by Aleph)

Friday, July 24, 2009

St. James/Santiago

Saturday is the feast of St. James the Greater.

Son of Zebedee and brother to St. John, St. James was called with his brother from his father's fishing boat by Jesus with the promise that He would make them "fishers of men." The brothers, together with St. Peter, became like an inner group among the Apostles, witnessing the Transfiguration and going with Our Lord to Gethsamane. He was the first of the Twelve to receive the martyr's crown, a request presaged by Jesus' words upon James and John requesting that they may sit one on His right and one on His left in the kingdom of heaven, and this after He had just prophesied His passion: "You shall indeed drink of the chalice that I drink of: and with the baptism wherewith I am baptized, you shall be baptized." He was beheaded by Herod Agrippa. That is when his story begins to become quite interesting.

The primary place of St. James' cult is Spain, specifically Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, a place that has come to be almost synonymous with pilgrimage. To this day, hundreds of thousands come each year to the Cathedral of Santiago, festooned with the scallop shell as the mark of the pilgrim, and always walking the last 100 km (or bicycling the last 200 km), to venerate the relics of Saint James. Pious tradition relates that St. James had preached to the Celtiberians before returing to Jerusalem for his martyrdom, and that his relics were miraculously translated to Galicia by angels. Pilgrims have come to this site since the time of Charlemagne, making this one of the great and ancient traditions of Christendom. Indeed, readers, the Camino de Santiago is one of the pilgrimages I hope to undertake in my lifetime.

However, the tale of St. James scarcely ends with the establishment of the pilgrimage, for when the pilgrimage began, most of Iberia was under the rule of the Muslim Moors. It is reported that the vastly outnumbered Christian army of Ramiro I of Asturias made battle against the Moorish Emir of Córdoba in 844 near Clavijo in La Rioja, and that St. James miraculously appeared to lead the Spaniards to victory, earning him the soubriquet "Santiago Matamoros," St. James the Moor-Slayer. Thence arrived the Spanish war-cry, "¡Santiago y cierra España!" (Saint James and strike for Spain!) This war-cry was shouted as the Iberian peninsula was reconquered from the Muslims; it was uttered at sea in the Gulf of Patras where the ships of Spain and the Holy League through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary defended Rome and Western Europe from Turkish invasion; it resounded as Cortés and the Amerind tribes allied to him ended Montezuma's empire and the barbaric human sacrifices therein, that Our Lady may place her image on a simple Aztec peasant's cloak, and make Spanish the native language of more Catholics today than any other language; it was heard as a Galician general routed Soviet-supported anti-clerical republicans in an attempt to preserve a Catholic Spain and a Spanish monarchy; it begat a great Catholic empire, the first on which the sun never set, giving us such great and holy saints as Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Ignatius of Loyola. Therefore, we pray Santiago to lead us to victory again today, to intercede with Our Lord that the enemies of His holy Church yet again be routed, and that we may once more be that Christendom that flocked to his holy shrine in Galicia.

¡Santiago y cierra España!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Andreas Hofer

Both Elena Maria and the Mad Monarchist have posted on Andreas Hofer and his armed rebellion in the Tyrol against Bony the Ogre and his puppet régime in Bavaria. I definitely agree that Hofer should be a better-known figure today.

On this note, I've long noted the similarities between Bonapartism and American neocoservatism, a subject which I hope to elaborate here at some future time.

My thanks to Elena Maria and to the Mad Monarchist.

Does the Pope Smoke?

An aficionado of the weed myself, I am all too often appalled at the anti-tobacco puritanism that has become so rampant throughout the Western world. Seriously, if one has too much a problem with smoke in one pub, then he ought to patronize another pub--just as if one's favourite beer is not on tap at one pub, he would go to another pub where it is. However, in contrast to this quite reasonable arrangement, holier-than-thou, know-it-all bureaucrats have stepped in so as to tie the hands of publicans and such. I understand that, for this and several other reasons, the classic institution of the English pub is in dire trouble presently.

Therefore, it's somewhat heartening that Prima at Gregorian Rite Catholic has posted this.

Thank you, Prima

Kingdom of Jerusalem

Thus conquered Godfrey, and as yet the sun
Dived not in silver waves his golden wain,
But daylight served him to the fortress won
With his victorious host to turn again,
His bloody coat he put not off, but run
To the high temple with his noble train,
And there hung up his arms, and there he bows
His knees, there prayed, and there performed his vows.

--Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered

The Mad Monarchist speaks more of Godefroy de Bouillon and of the hard-fought work of Christendom, the foundation of the kingdom which the heads of nearly all Europe's princely houses claim in pretense here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

National Day of Belgium

On this day in 1831, Leopold, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha publicly swore allegiance to the constitution of the newly independent state of Belgium, becoming its first king. The reigning king, Albert II, is his great-great-grandson. Matterhorn gives an account of his life here.

My thanks to Matterhorn.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Drapeaux de nos pères, partie II

I ought to begin today by providing a link based on yesterday's post. Various royal, military, and naval flags used under the French ancien régime may be found here. One will notice the very prominent use of white, particularly of the white cross, and of the fleurs-de-lys.

The tricolour flag, in present usage, was a combination of the revolutionaries' colour of red with those of Paris, white and blue. With the exception of the 15-year Bourbon Restoration (1815-1830), the tricolour has been the national flag in some form or another. During the Restoration, the flag "argent, semy 43 fleur-de-lys or" was used. The question of the flag of France became quite prominent in the early days of the Third Republic, which was devised after the defeat by the Germans at Sedan, the deposition of Napoléon III, and the civil strife caused by the communards in Paris and other cities. The election of a monarchist majority to the National Assembly in 1871 meant that the Third Republic was likely fated to be more short-lived than the four year long Second Republic of 1848-1852. After the Legitimist and Orleanist parties had come to an agreement on his succession, the National Assembly offered the crown to Henri, comte de Chambord, grandson of the last Bourbon king Charles X. Henri accepted, but on one condition: that the white flag of the Restoration be used as the national symbol and that the tricolour be retired. Needless to say, Henri never took the throne of France. Neither did any of his legitimist heirs, nor even a prince of the Orléans house. France has been a republic ever since.

Occasionally, the tricolor has been defaced with another heraldic design to symbolize a certain group, movement, or military unit. The only time a defaced tricolour was the national flag was under the Vichy Régime, which featured the fasces. However, the most famous by far was the tricolour defaced with the croix de Lorraine or patriarchal cross, used during the Second World War by the Free French Forces. This symbol derives from the arms of Lorraine and no doubt recalls Lorraine's finest daughter, Ste. Jeanne d'Arc, and her great work of pushing a foreign invader from French soil. The use of the croix de Lorraine was suggested by Georges Thierry d'Argenlieu, who became chief of staff of the Free French Naval Forces. A veteran of the First World War, Thierry d'Argenlieu became a Carmelite friar between the wars, taking the religious name Frère Louis de la Trinité. He was mobilized upon the declaration of war, fled to De Gaulle while eluding the Germans, and was given leave to serve as a fighting officer by his religious superiors due to the dearth of qualified naval officers among the Free French. Andrew Cusack relates his story here.

However, perhaps my favourite defaced tricolour is one presently used by traditional Catholics and by the Scouting movement in France, one that ought to be rather familiar to anyone who has undertaken the Pentecost Chartres pilgrimage. The Sacred Heart of Jesus has long been important in the Catholic Church, but perhaps nowhere more than in France. Indeed, the promotion of devotion to the Sacred Heart was one of the finest works of the French school of spirituality, and resulted in its spread throughout the entire Church. In 1899, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The text on this flag, «espoir et salut de la France», means "hope and salvation of France," something indeed the Sacred Heart was in the days of its growth, when France was much troubled by the heresies of Jansenism and Gallicanism. How much more today then, when the spawns of these heresies seem triumphant! This very symbol was worn as a badge into battle by the Vendéens rebelling against the Revolution, and after them the Chouans, the Tyroleans, the Spanish Carlists, the Mexican Cristeros. Wherever one finds Catholics resisting heresy, and the anti-clericalism and brutality that invariably follow it, one will find the Sacred Heart. This majestic banner is a call to France, the eldest daughter of the Church, never to forget that day when Clovis rose from the font, the first Catholic king in a decayed empire full of Arianism, never to forget how Charles Martel fought off the Moors, never to forget how Charlemagne, after uniting almost all of Western Europe into a common Christendom, was crowned Roman Emperor by the Pope, never to forget the glorious liberation of Jerusalem. In short, that France may never forget her glorious destiny, her divine vocation, to be the defenders and promoters of the Church throughout the world, a bulwark against her enemies, omnipresent in this day and time. Sadly, like all the world, she has faltered in this.

However, the present département of the Vendée has apparently not forgotten neither its destiny nor its history. This is the present coat of arms of Vendée; the flag is half white and thus does not show up well here. The Sacred Heart of Jesus linked with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, surmounted with a royal crown. One wonders why the laïcistes and the politically correct types haven't raised a stink yet. On second thought, one needn't wonder; my first thought after writing that was, "Over my dead body." No doubt there are many who would say the same to any attempts to alter so dear a part of their heritage. Most especially a people who suffered an unacknowledged genocide because of their resistance to the same laïcistes trying to undermine their way of life.

The last image I'll display here is from French Canada, and it is indeed yet another Sacred Heart flag. Legend says that this flag was carried at the victory at Carillon (Fort Ticonderoga) in 1758, though this is highly unlikely. Note the white cross of mediaeval French banners, as well as the fleurs-de-lys. However, rather than the gold fleurs-de-lys of the royal banners, those of this flag are white, as this developed from a flag honouring the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is a variation of the "Carillon flag" designed in 1902 and used unofficially; a version without the Sacred Heart was also flown. The present Québécois flag, the fleurdelisé, was developed from this in 1948; before that the Union Jack flew over the Parliament Building. Also notable here is the distinct Canadianism of the garland of maple leaves, even more notable when one considers that the present maple leaf flag of Canada was not designed until 1965, long after this flag.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Drapeaux de nos pères, partie I

Last week, while commemorating the Vendée, I reproduced here an image of their banner. Matterhorn, whom I cited in my article on the Romanovs, left a compliment as to its beauty, this immaculate white banner which flapped proudly in the breeze as though it were a small piece of France's baptismal garment while observing both dreadfully the horrors inflicted on the people and the countryside by the infernal columns and proudly those true sons of Catholic France courageously fulfilling their Christian duty. So I decided that tonight I'd write a little series on ancient flags of France.

I must first note that there was no real national flag per se until the adoption of the tricouleur during the French Revolution; the flags before that time would either have been the kings' personal banner or the naval ensign. The first of these personal banners was the storied oriflamme, seen here in the hands of Philippe Auguste. This flag is a sacred relic of St. Denis, the patron saint of France, as it is said that its red colour results from it being dipped in the blood of the martyred saint (from whom as well is the war-cry of France, "Montjoie St. Denis!") In times of peace, the oriflamme remained in the reliquary of the abbey of St. Denis. Like many ancient relics, the story of its origin is rather convoluted, and the mediaeval texts do not agree with one another, with many dating it to Charlemagne, considering a gift from the Pope to Charlemagne, and even linking it to the lance of Constantine, part of the reliquary of the Holy Roman/Austro-Hungarian emperors. Whatever the origins of the oriflamme, however, it was seen as a holy gift, and a sure sign of God's grace on the king and the king's men, and always led them into war.

In general usage, however, the three fleurs-de-lys of the king's coat of arms were adopted into what would be nowadays called a national flag. "Azure, three fleurs-de-lys or" is still used in the heraldry of Île-de-France and several other régions and départements of France. I am personally proud to fly this drapeau on eminent occasions.

During and after the Hundred Years' War, however, white flags came to be used more often, in honour of the white flag carried by Jeanne d'Arc (which also contained several fleurs-de-lys and prominently the words "Jhesus Maria." Often used as well was a white cross, usually on the same blue background of the pictured flag. Add a fleur-de-lys to each quarter of that, and you have the flag of Québec, on which more later.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

O Most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein You are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech You from the bottom of my heart to succor me in this necessity. There are none that can withstand Your power.

O show me herein You are my Mother. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

O show me herein You are my Mother. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

O show me herein You are my Mother. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

Sweet Mother, I place this cause in Your hands.

Sweet Mother, I place this cause in Your hands.

Sweet Mother, I place this cause in Your hands.

With thanksgiving that the Holy Father's accident was not severe and that he weathered his surgery well.

The Romanovs

Perhaps it is that I inveigh too often against the liberal revolutionaries. Indeed they were premised on materialism, but the last wave of modern revolutions took place in the name of "dialectical materialism," that is, Marxism or Communism. And these were indeed the most miserable and bloody of all. The first nation to be destroyed by this beast was Russia, as anyone who has studied the Gulag system, the Holodomor in the Ukraine, the Eastern front of the Second World War, or the works of the late Alexander Solzheitsyn could tell you. Indeed, the same Russia that gave us such transcendant and mystical pieces of religious art such as Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil and the great icons of the Trinity and Our Lady of Kazan.

On this date in 1918 were killed Tsar Nicholas II and his entire family by firing squad in Yekaterinberg. The Tsar's reported final words are reported to have been, "You do not know what you do," quite reminiscent of among the last words of Christ on the cross. The prayer written by his daughter, the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, who with her mother and sister Tatiana served as a Red Cross nurse during the ugly carnage of the First World War, shows the magnanimity, piety, and Christian courage of the Imperial Family in the face of martyrdom, the same shown by Louis XVI of France, by Queen Marie-Antoinette, and by Charles I of England:

"Send us, Lord, the patience, in this year of stormy, gloom-filled days, to suffer popular oppression, and the tortures of our hangmen. Give us strength, oh Lord of justice, Our neighbor's evil to forgive, And the Cross so heavy and bloody, with Your humility to meet, In days when enemies rob us, To bear the shame and humiliation, Christ our Savior, help us. Ruler of the world, God of the universe, Bless us with prayer and give our humble soul rest in this unbearable, dreadful hour. At the threshold of the grave, breathe into the lips of Your slaves inhuman strength — to pray meekly for our enemies."

The Russian Imperial family was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000.

We would do well not to forget Our Lady's request at Fátima that we pray for this holy yet troubled land.

More on the Vendée

Richard at Le Fleur de Lys too has posted more about the genocide in Vendée here.

Dieu le Roy!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Caritas in Veritate

The new papal encyclical.

I'll add commentary after I've read it.

The French Revolution

So here it is now, Bastille Day, the day on which I proposed the second part of my series indemnifying the liberal revolutionary thinking that is now a global cliché, and I've not yet even finished the first part. So it goes when one is too perfectionist a writer, I suppose.

But one may imagine I would laud France on this, her national feast, eh? Quite the contrary. Behold the true workings of liberté, égalité, et fraternité:

I am proudly of French heritage no doubt; how could one not be proud when one's ancestral nation is the Eldest Daughter of the Church, when one is a direct descendant of one of the siblings of the saintly Maid of Orléans? But France, while one of the mightiest nations on earth, fell prey to the empty promises of liberal revolutionaries, who stem from the rebel heresy of Protestantism (which had already committed one regicide, Charles I of England) and the philosophical errors of the Renaissance and the "Enlightenment." Both of these are premised on the rejection of the magisterial hermeneutical interpretations of both Scripture and patristic texts and the work of the classical philosophers which had defined Christendom, all in favour of amoral cynicism, of an anti-humanistic utilitarianism which they cloaked under the name of "humanism," of a preference for the return of such petty tyrants as Caligula and Nero over such Christian kings as Charlemagne and St. Louis IX. Christendom came from the ashes of the Roman Empire, no doubt, and for over a millennium, none would have dared go back to the days when martyrs were thrown to the lions. Until these Whigs, these Jacobins, these bloodthirsty heretics had the pipe dream that they might be able to cobble something together out of their own vain imaginations, and killed our society.

Now, we've lost our imagination, our literature, our arts, and even a decent sense of our humanity that this French Revolution has overrun the world. And our religion, which interjects the sacred into our everyday live, into our public life? Relegated to a merely private affair, on a par with any other religion or subculture or "lifestyle" movement.

Perhaps, though, my venom precedes my rationality. I'll instead speak of why I'm so venomous. My name, Palardy, originates from the Vendée, the province utterly obliterated by the revolutionaries. The Vendée rose against the revolutionary government upon the murder of King Louis XVI in 1793, after the Civil Constitution of the Clergy had removed loyal priests from the parishes and replaced them with glorified civil servants, and the army had begun to conscript young men to fight those foreign powers threatening to end the revolution by invasion. After the French Army was initially routed, the Vendéen peasants, discontent to submit to this new order, fled into the woods, and a brutal guerrilla insurrection began, and spread to nearby Brittany. The revolutionary army in the end thwarted it in ways too brutal even to mention, in which I'm absolutely certain that the "Rights of Man" that they praised to high heaven were completely honoured. Yeah, right.

And so always to anyone who prefers to be Catholic, to maintain that the social kingship of Christ will always trump the power of the state, to maintain their ancient traditions, and such. Modernity brought no real progress, only more misery. And only to bolster the power of a handful of cynical malcontents.

Eh, well, enough fury for one evening.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Blessed John Henry Newman

Apparently it's now official.

I exhort you all, readers, to read carefully his speech upon his elevation to the cardinalate, posted by Rorate Cæli and linked to above. These are prophetic words no doubt, and sound as fresh and clear today as they did 130 years ago.

Here the Holy Father speaks of Newman.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

End of day

I never did quite get around to my article on legitimate government, did I? Indeed, sometime soon, and sometime about Bastille Day. Be that as it may, for the United States of America; if not for her history, if not for her present reality, for her promise in years yet to come, for her veterans, like my father and my grandfather, and for her folk, I raise my glass.

God save us all.

Founding of Québec

On July 3, 1608, a party led by Samuel de Champlain landed below an imposing height at the place upstream of the Île d'Orléans where the St. Lawrence narrows from a broad estuary to a navigable river. There Champlain built a settlement and began fortifying this strategic location. From here, he set about exploring the area, making alliances and warring with native tribes, and establishing additional habitations elsewhere along the river. This was Québec City, and its establishment was the beginning of the vast French holding known as New France, which stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson Bay, from Newfoundland to Saskatchewan, containing in their entirety both major inland waterways of North America, the Mississippi and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system.

I attended university in Québec, and must encourage you, readers, to visit if you've not yet done so, and see for yourselves that la Nouvelle France still lives to this day.

Vive le Québec!
Vive l'Acadie!
Vive la Louisiane!

Yesterday, July 3

On this date on 987, amidst the great Carolingian dynasty passing from the world stage, Hugues Capet is crowned King of the Franks by Adalberon, Archbishop of Reims, and so became the eldest son of the Church. His descendants would hold the kingship of France until its destruction (and still do in pretence), among many other crowns throughout history. Juan Carlos, King of Spain, and Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, are male-line descendants of Hugues and are thus, properly speaking, members of the Capetian house. The senior member of the house according to the Salic succession, and therefore pretender to the throne of France, is Louis-Alphonse, duc d'Anjou, known among his supporters as Louis XX.

Vive le Roy!
Vive la France!

July 4

The celebration of American Independence. We would be wise not to forget who made this so.

After noting some more historical anniversaries, which I did not remark upon yesterday due to my being inclined otherwise, I shall preempt my ecclesiastical series to speak some about legitimate government.

My thanks to Skiteufr and the Cajun.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thoughts on Vatican II

As promised, I'll now present some musings on the Second Vatican Council and its mixed legacy.

Two words were often thrown about by journalists during the conciliar time: aggiornamento and resourcement. Aggioramento is from the Italian and means, roughly, a bringing up to date, and entered the general lexicon through a pre-conciliar speech of John XXIII. Ressourcement is from the French and indicates a return to sources. I believe its popularity derived from the work of French patristic scholars in the era of Pius XII.

I'll focus on aggiornamento for now, as we've seen far more of it over the past half-century than we have ressourcement. Aggiornamento, as it's been practiced, implies an opening to the contemporary world. Certainly we've seen that, so much indeed that the Catholic Church as too often seen as an institution of the Zeitgeist rather than an eternal and timeless reality. A certain sensus fidei on the part of laymen and clergy alike has been lost, leaving a Church in many regards indistinct from Protestantism. Ecumenism was a main goal of the aggiornamentoniks, and the reintegration of Christendom is a laudable goal to be prayed and worked for, but 95% of it nowadays is done on the relativistic terms of the liberal Protestants. Dialogue with the secular culture and the academy is likewise important, but it's too bad that our Catholic universities have scarcely a Catholic ethos any longer. Let's face facts: some excellent goals were made, but those charged with the Church's endless "dialogues" usually merely assume the worldview of those with whom they're making the dialogue. Therefore, it's no longer a true dialogue, but a grand opportunity for defection--and not really a defection, but treason, as they remain in our own ranks, spewing their civilly respectable, politically-correct, vile drivel out on the faithful either to poison their minds or make them run for the church door.

Nowhere is this treacherous destruction of our own identity more evident than in the ill-conceived liturgical reforms which nauseate me still. This is not necessarily to lionize the Tridentine Mass, the present extraordinary form of the Roman Liturgy, for that too can be said shabbily, but with the Novus Ordo, shabby seems to be the norm. Gone suddenly were the Latin and plainchant of yesteryear, with much of the liturgical art that adorned our church buildings, with much of the ceremony that adorned and oriented our lives, replaced with spare meeting-halls, unsingable and sappy guitar songs--an ugly, charmless religion mangled by Puritans, who robbed us of the former touchstones of our lives and replaced them with ephemeralities. The charm, mystery, and magic of the Church that I first experienced as a wee lad while lighting candles before the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary was gone, replaced by yet another consumer product, and not a very good one at that.

As a personal note, readers, how I've languished in the past, enduring Disney-movie music and almost incoherent pep-talk homilies to make my way through to receive Our Lord in the Sacrament, knowing that a "meditation," an insipid puppy-love song with no theological merit whatsoever would be playing when I returned to kneel at my pew and would bother any true meditations out of my head at the time! But I'll not bring up this maddening inappropriate liturgy out of context, which is the general loss of Catholic culture and imagination through this faulty, and ironically ever so passé, aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council. Something worthy of being reclaimed, this culture, eh?

Therefore, my next brief essay will touch on the ressourcement--not so much what it meant in conciliar days, but the ressourcement which His Holiness proposes to lead now, with perhaps some reference to other bloggers whom I am finding to be a gold mine of information regarding the happenings in Rome, likely at this very moment.

Canada Day

Just a quick test to see if I could upload an image. Happy Canada Day to all my friends and guests from up north, a land in which I was very pleased to reside for a few months some time ago.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Critically reappraising the Council


Here's a brief essay touching on many of the same ideas I hope to explore in my upcoming essay on Vatican II. The author is an Anglo-Catholic priest in Normandy, of the Traditional Anglican Communion, which we hope shall be in union with Rome soon. My many thanks, Fr. Chadwick.


Good evening, friends, and welcome to my little acre of cyberspace. Please feel free to grab a beer from the fridge, draw your chair up to the hearth, and converse with my other guests and me about whatever may please you. I don't quite know how to do much with this yet, so please pardon that it may look somewhat spartan here as yet; hopefully that will soon change--and should anyone know how to add images or links or other such things, a brief letter would be appreciated.

Before I post anything (and whether I am able to post frequently or not remains to be seen), let me first indicate what it is that I am doing here and why I am doing it, starting with the title, "Et Lux in Tenebris Lucet!" This is Latin, from the introduction to the Gospel According to St. John, usually translated, "And the light shineth in darkness." Certainly these are dark times in which we live, in which our families, our communities, our politics, our religion, our academies and professions and institutions, and even our mental health seem rather topsy-turvy. Well, friends, 'twas not always so, as any cursory reading of history can attest. We'll not know where we're going unless we know whence we come, and so, I wish to shine some light on that. But lest you think I'll merely be examining history here, think again. Events are often unthinkable without the milieu behind them understood, and so, cultural studies will be discussed extesively here, and not just those of the past, but those of the present, perceived analytically, with most emphasis on what I find praiseworthy. After all, were I to list my discontents with the present day, the list would fill books, and neither you nor I have time for that.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, I am Roman Catholic. The genuine kind, not just one who is barely a Catholic for an hour on Sunday and a secularist indistinguishable from his neighbours for the rest of the week. Nay, I reside in the presence of Christ in the milieu of His Holy Church, or at least seek to. It's rather difficult in these days of lackadaisical and iconoclastic liberal and neoconservative churchmen for whom fighting the culture war in the aloof legislatures trumps actually building (or, more approriately, recollecting) culture separate from that of the utilitarian, materialistic world among their own flocks. Thus, much will be said here about the Church here from a traditional, legitimist perspective, with full support for the Vicar of Christ, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.

Consider that last paragraph an oblique reply to the one before. Catholicism is the Western Tradition. Period. The eclipse of that tradition in favour of liberalism and relativism that began with the Protestant Reformation and continued through the revolutions of modernity to its seeming triumph today has left us in a great state of disorientation and anguish. And those of us for whom the Church was, in Chesterton's words, the only thing that saved us from the banal and degrading slavery of being a child of the age, have felt ourselves betrayed by excessive aggiornamento.

I'll leave this post off. More on Vatican II when I return