Friday, 23 April 2010

St George's Day - 23 April

The Feast of St George

Today is the Feast of St George, Protector of the English Realm.

St George was born to a Christian family during the late third century. His father was from Cappadocia and served as an officer of the Roman army. His mother was from Lydda in Palestine.

St George followed his father into the army. It seems he was of equestrian, or knightly and thus noble, rank in Roman society and he appears to have pursued the cursus honorum beginning as a cavalryman or knight, a position reserved only for those of the knightly class. The better of the cavalry or knights went on to command as Decurion and later were selected as Tribunus militis or Military Tribune, an officer who was one of 5 staff officers in a legion.

The Roman Senate was selected from the ranks of the knights or equestrian class, and the Patrician and Senatorial classes, the supreme nobility of Rome, who were able to trace their lineage to the Senatorial families of the early days of Rome, especially those who had seen extensive military service in defence of Rome and its empire.

The Roman Senate

St George was stationed in Nicomedia as a member of the personal guard attached to Roman Emperor Diocletian and was promoted comes or Count, a title, meaning a “companion”, or sometimes a chamberlain, of the Emperor, an imperial appointment either civil or military (from this idea derived the Counts-Palatine or Paladins of Charlemagne).

Many titles have a military origin including those of imperator (later Emperor but originally the commander-in-chief of the army, lit., “giver of orders”), dux (later Duke or army commander), legatus (Legate – the commander of a legion, and of senatorial rank), tribunus (staff officer of equestrian class already mentioned), praefectus castrorum (Prefect of the Camp, the most veteran soldier in the Legion but non-equestrian), primus pilus (“first spear”, the most senior centurion and commander of the first cohort, non-equestrian but usually ennobled on retirement), pilus prior (first centurion of each cohort and often its commander), primi ordines (the 5 centurions of the first cohort), centurio (centurion – the commander of a “century” of 100 men) and optio (the second-in-command of a century but able to read and write, usually).

Julius Caesar, Roman general, senator and imperator

Each legion had 10 cohorts usually each of 6 centuries (sometimes divided into 3 maniples of 2 centuries each), plus 300 or more cavalry and assorted light infantry, light cavalry and auxiliaries (often of non-Roman origin) totalling about 6,600 men.

A Legate is thus roughly equivalent to a brigadier-general, a Tribune to a captain, major or colonel, a pilus prior to a non-equestrian lieutenant colonel, risen from the ranks, and a centurion to a non-equestrian captain or major, risen from the ranks.

In 303 Diocletian issued an edict authorizing the systematic persecution of Christians across the Empire.

St George was ordered to participate in the persecution but instead confessed to being a Christian himself and criticized the imperial decision. An enraged Diocletian ordered his torture and execution.

After various tortures, including laceration on a wheel of swords, in which he was miraculously resuscitated three times, St George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia's city wall, on 23 April 303.

A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra to become Christian as well and she joined St George in martyrdom.

St George’s body was returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.

The story of St George and the Dragon is by no means necessarily impossible, since reptiles of various sorts were often called dragons in former times. Even today, the Komodo dragon is still so called.

Dragons of today:
Indonesian Komodo dragons, up to 10 feet in length and up to 365 lbs weight, poison-mouthed and potentially lethal, can be seen to this day

Ancient depictions of “fire-breathing” dragons have been misinterpreted.

They were so depicted to indicate the poisonous breath and mouth of such animals. Since it is the case that the Komodo has precisely such a poisonous mouth, by virtue of the bacteria living therein, venom and its diet, the earlier depictions start to look remarkably scientific and not mythical at all. The deadliest bacteria in the Komodo dragon saliva appears to be a very deadly strain of Pasteurella multocida, from studies performed with lab mice.

Alternatively, the dragon might have been a crocodile or alligator which certainly can be found in North Africa near water.

This dragon was said to have made its nest at the spring providing water for a city in the Middle East. The citizens had to dislodge the dragon from its nest for a time, in order to collect water. To do so, and to distract the dragon, each day they had to offer the dragon at first a sheep, then a human sacrifice.

In their heathenism, they treated the dragon as an evil spirit that had to be placated. The victim was chosen by drawing lots. One ill-favoured day, the lot fell upon the daughter of the king who begged for her life but this partiality was rejected by the citizenry.

St George, who was in the country with his troops, scorned the heathen weakness of the citizenry and set out, warmly encouraged of course by the king, to rescue the princess. He did so, slaying the dragon in mortal combat. The grateful citizens abandoned heathenism and converted enthusiastically to the religion of St George, namely Christianity.

Ever after, the story was seen as the triumph of Christian truth over pagan superstition and the supernatural over corrupted nature. Inevitably, it became a great Christian allegory. However, the assumption that it must, therefore, be a fable and not true, is a false assumption. The Bible is full of allegory but that does not mean it is false.

A church built in Lydda during the reign of the Emperor Constantine I (306–337), was consecrated to St George and his cultus became one of the greatest in Christendom.

This church was destroyed in 1010 but was later rebuilt and dedicated to Saint George by the Western Crusaders who quickly came to embrace his cult. In 1191 the church was again destroyed by the Ayyubid Sultan, Sala’haddin (Saladin), during the 3rd Crusade.

The Crusaders wore the red cross of St George, popularised by the Knights Templar

By the fifth century the cult of St George reached the Western Roman Empire and in 494, George was canonised as a saint by Pope Gelasius I. The cult was promoted much in England by King Alfred the Great.

An apparition of St George is said to have heartened the Franks at the Siege of Antioch, 1098, and made a similar appearance the following year at Jerusalem.

Chivalric military orders of St George were established in Aragon (1201), Genoa, Hungary, and by Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor.

The Byzantine emperors had a great devotion to St George and the Palaeologue emperors created an order to restore the Labarum Guard of the Emperor Constantine, being the 50 knights who guarded the Labarum, a standard emblazoned with the Chi-Rho symbol that Constantine had seen in the sky before his victory on the Milvian Bridge.

They dedicated this Order to St George giving it the symbol of the Cross and the Chi-Rho surrounded by the initials IHSV standing for "In Hoc Signo Vinces" - "In this Sign shalt thou conquer". The Order was bequeathed to the Farnese family by the Palaeologues in exile who became its Grand Master.

Here is the Gold Star of the Order with the Chi-Rho and the IHSV - In Hoc Signo Vinces.

The Star of the Constantinian Order of St George

Today the Order's Grand Master is HRH the Infante Don Carlos of Spain.

King Edward III put his Order of the Garter under the banner of St. George. In England the Synod of Oxford, 1222 declared St. George's Day a great feast day in the kingdom of England and, famously, his name was invoked by English kings in battle, not least King Henry V at Agincourt.

"St George for Merrie England"

His feast was raised to a Festum duplex at a church council in 1415, on the date that had become associated with his martyrdom, 23 April.

William Shakespeare was born and died on 23 April, St George's Day.

William Shakespeare, born and died on St George's Day

The Order of the Garter is still given in the name of “God, our Lady and St George” and features an image of St George slaying the Dragon. The hip decoration, at the bottom of the sash, is still called “the lesser George”.

The original Garter Star was always diamond-encrusted until, after the illegal seizure of the throne by the Protestant German Hanoverians, the diamonds were only retained for the sovereign and consort.

The Garter blue of the sash was also darkened so as to distinguish it from the ancient colour which was associated with the Stuarts.

The diamond-encrusted Garter star

The Garter Star features, to this day, in a great many military symbols e.g. the rank stars of officers in the Household Cavalry and Household Division and in the Honourable Artillery Company. St George features in a great many other military symbols and traditions of the British armed forces and in British society generally.

St George’s Day is, indeed, a great day to be celebrated in the Kingdom of England and for Great Britain.

The Queen in the Garter procession as Sovereign of the Order.
The Garter is still conferred in the name of "God, our Lady and St George".

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is set from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge

'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!' "


Sunday, 18 April 2010

Good Shepherd Sunday

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday.

Ego sum Pastor bonus, allelúja: et cognósco oves Meas, et cognóscunt Me Meæ. Allelúja, allelúja.

I am the good Shepherd, alleluia: and I know My sheep, and Mine know Me, alleluia, alleluia.

Today's Gospel is from John 10: 11-16:

In illo témpore: Dixit Jesus Pharisæis: "Ego sum Pastor bonus. Bonus pastor ánimam suam dat pro óvibus. Mercenárius autem et qui non est pastor, cujus non sunt oves própriæ, videt lupum veniéntem, et dimíttit oves, et fugit: et lupus rapit et dispérgit oves: mercenárius autem fugit, quia mercenárius est, et non pértinet ad eum de óvibus. Ego sum Pastor bonus: et cognósco oves meas, et cognóscunt me meæ. Sicut novit me Pater, et ego agnósco Patrem: et ánimam meam pono pro óvibus meis. Et alias oves hábeo, qum non sunt ex hoc ovíli: et illas opórtet me addúcere, et vocem meam áudient, et fiat unum ovíile, et unus pastor."

At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: "I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and flieth: and the wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep: and the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling, and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good Shepherd: and I know Mine, and Mine know Me, as the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father: and I lay down My life for My sheep. And other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."

Take note all pastors and bishops and be not hirelings but true shepherds.

We should also note that our Lord says He has sheepthat are "not of this fold" who shall hear His voice - perhaps better than those who are currently of His Flock - and they shall become part of the Flock, too.

This should teach us to be humble and not to presume or become complacent. Some who are not currently of the Flock may be judged better than us to sit amongst the saints in Heaven.

Let us pray for them, also, and remember that the Catholic Church is for all, including those who are not yet members. It is not a convenient little club only for cradle Catholics.

God chose the Israelites but all but a few later rejected Him and he transferred His favour to the Gentiles who converted to Him and loved Him better than many of His own chosen people.


Quasimodo Sunday, Low Sunday or Divine Mercy Sunday

Dominica in Albis Deponendis

(Sunday when the newly baptised finally put off their white garments of Easter)

also called

Quasimodo Sunday


Low Sunday




the Feast of Divine Mercy

"Quasimodo geniti infantes, alleluia, rationabile sine dolo lac concupiscite. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."

"As newborn babes, alleluia, desire the rational milk without guile. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia"
[1 Peter 2:2; Introit for the Mass of Low Sunday]

"Deinde dicit Thomae: infer digitum tuum huc et vide manus meas, et affer manum tuam et mitte in latus meum et noli esse incredulus sed fidelis. Respondit Thomas et dixit ei: Dominus meus et Deus meus!"

"Then He said to Thomas 'Put in thy fingers hither and see my hands and bring hither thy hand and put it into my side and be not faithless but believing'. Thomas answered and said to him 'My Lord and my God!' "
[John 20:27-28; Gospel of Low Sunday]

Caravaggio. Doubting Thomas. 1602-1603

"Dearly beloved, laying away all malice and all guile and dissimulations and envies and all detractions as newborn babes desire the rational milk without guile, that thereby you may grow unto salvation, if so be you have tasted that the Lord is sweet...for you are a chosen race, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people that you may declare His virtues who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light."
[1 Peter 2:2-3, 9]

"Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas answered, and said to him: My Lord, and my God. Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed."
[John 20:19-29]

"In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. (1588)

It's a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them. (848)

Before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the doors of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the doors of My mercy must pass through the doors of My justice... (1146)"

[Diary of Divine Mercy, Revelation of our Lord to St Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament (Helen Kowalska)]

St Faustina Kowalska, messenger of Divine Mercy

"Sanctus Deus, Sanctus Fortis, Sanctus Immortalis, miserere nobis"

"Hagios Theos, hagios ischyros, hagios athanatos, eleison imas"

"Elohim hakadosh, Elohim hakol yakhol, rakhem aleinu, veal kol haolam"

"Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us"

[The ancient prayer of the Trisagion from the Improperia or "Reproaches" of the Good Friday liturgy in Latin, Greek, Aramaic and English, dating back to at least the 5th century. They form part of the Divine Mercy prayers requested of St Faustina by our Lord.]

Domenikos Theotocopoulos (El Greco). The Holy Trinity. 1577.


Saturday, 10 April 2010

The fantasy arguments of the atheists collapse once again...

Mr Anonymouse is back replying to my posts (see the comments boxes).

His arguments are, as usual, largely insulting, abusive and intolerant and replete with religious vilification and bigotry.

Shorn of the usual insulting abuse, vilification and bigotry, there is very little left.

But let us nevertheless examine it.

It centres around the claim that Quantum Mechanics (QM) and a flat universe of zero energy prove that nature produces something from nothing. The implication (he does not state it because it is, in fact, a further illogical assertion) is that there is therefore no God.

That simply does not follow logically at all but let's see where the rest of it goes.

First, let us remember that QM, the Big Bang theory and related theories arose not from scientific observation but from what the participants at the 1926 Solvay Conference called “thought experiments” i.e. from the use of metaphysical logic not scientific observation and induction.

Thus did the Solvay men, in arriving at theories like QM, resort to the very thing atheists like Dawkins disparage: metaphysical logic.

Let us, then, look at the “something from nothing” argument of Mr Anonymouse Atheist.

Alan Guth (born 27 February 1947) is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist at MIT and the originator of the inflationary universe theory. Guth has researched elementary particle theory as applicable to the early universe. Guth formally proposed the idea of cosmic inflation in 1981, the idea that the nascent universe passed through a phase of exponential expansion that was driven by a positive vacuum energy density (negative vacuum pressure).

The universe according to Guth began in the era of quantum gravity, a time when all four forces of the universe — gravity, electromagnetism, the strong (nuclear) and weak forces — may have been unified. Energy boiling out of this unstable stew grew during the brief inflationary period at an ever-doubling rate, then decayed into an electron-quark soup as those forces began splitting apart. The soup's fundamental particles combined into ever-more-complex forms as the universe cooled and expanded.

Professor Alan Guth is not quite so famous for his tidiness...

So says Brad Lemley in "Guth's Grand Guess," Discover, vol 23, April 2002, on the net at:

But Guth backs up his hypothesis by asserting its compatibility with the laws of physics which pre-supposes that such laws were in existence before the coming into existence of the Universe.

Guth was therefore asked: “Where do the laws of physics come from?” i.e. the laws that were followed to make his hypothesis true.

To this question he had no answer,

He has no more answer than does Dawkins to the question "where does free will come from?”.

How could he have?

Science simply can never answer the question, or any similar question as to origins, because it is a metaphysical question.

All that has happened here is that Guth has shifted the question from “Who caused the Big Bang” to “Who caused the laws that led to the Big Bang”.

And that simply does not answer the question of who that was or is.

It was, as ever, a Prime or unmoved Mover, a First or Prior Cause.

An anthropomorphic representation of the unmoved Mover, moving things into being. It is, of course, wholly inadequate a representation since man cannot compass an infinite being like the Prime Mover. Equally, however, it is no worse than any other representation that man might come up with.

This, as Aquinas pointed out 700 years ago, men use the term “God” to describe.

Poof, in a puff of smoke, goes yet another attempt to try to disprove the existence of the metaphysical by physics, an exercise as fatuous as trying to the measure the length of free will under a microscope.

It is no accident that the author of the article titles it “Guth’s Grand Guess”.

Guess, indeed!

Guth also says this:

“ a quantum physicist, nothing is, in fact, something...Quantum theory also holds that a vacuum, like atoms, is subject to quantum uncertainties. This means that things can materialize out of the vacuum, although they tend to vanish back into it quickly...”

But then is also forced to admit:

“...this phenomenon has never been observed directly...”

Well, indeed!

Neither has anyone ever seen or measured “curved space” or seen or measured the concept “uncertainty”.

And why not? Because these are metaphysical concepts which cannot be measured by Physics.

Back to square one.

Metaphysics requires the use of logic and reason to arrive at its conclusions – something that QM scientists implicitly recognize since that is how they arrived at their theory in the first place – through “though experiments” or metaphysical logic.

Consider the logic, then.

If nothing is something, then there is no nothing, there is only something and so we can't get something from nothing because there never was a nothing, there has always only been something.

And thus we begin to see the intrinsic absurdity of the atheist argument.

To use QM or Guth’s “Grand Guess” as evidence for creation out of nothing without a Prime Mover is internally inconsistent and illogical.

Alan Woods writes:

"Cosmology writer Marcus Chown concedes it will be extremely difficult to finally prove any model of the universe. He is refreshingly honest about the problems involved: ‘The history of cosmology is the history of us being completely wrong’, he told the BBC. ‘I mean, cosmology is the hardest of all sciences; we sit on this tiny planet in the middle of this vast universe, we can't go anywhere and do any experiments - all we can do is pick up the light that happens to fall on us and deduce some things about the universe."

[See "An alternative to the Big Bang" by Alan Woods,
In Defence of Marxism, 30 April 2002]

Well, quite.

And in the future we can confidently expect yet further and newer theories.

If we say that something else conforming to the laws of physics caused the Big Bang we are still stuck with the fundamental question: where did those laws of physics come from?

A recent article states:

"As emphasized by Penrose many years ago, cosmology can only make sense if the world started in a state of exceptionally low entropy. The low entropy starting point is the ultimate reason that the universe has an arrow of time, without which the second law would not make sense. However, there is no universally accepted explanation of how the universe got into such a special state... Present cosmological evidence points to an inflationary beginning and an accelerated de Sitter end. Most cosmologists accept these assumptions, but there are still major unresolved debates concerning them. For example, there is no consensus about initial conditions. Neither string theory nor quantum gravity provide a consistent starting point for a discussion of the initial singularity or why the entropy of the initial state is so low. High scale inflation postulates an initial de Sitter starting point with Hubble constant roughly 10^-5 times the Planck mass. This implies an initial holographic entropy of about 10^10 which is extremely small by comparison with today's visible entropy. Some unknown agent [emphasis added] initially started the inflation high up on its potential, and the rest is history."

["Disturbing Implications of a Cosmological Constant" by L. Dyson, M. Kleban, L. Susskind, 14 Nov 2002. On the net at:]

Some “unknown agent”, eh?

I wonder Who or What that might be?

See what Phillip Ball has to say:

“In an argument that would have gratified the ancient Greeks, physicists have claimed that the prevailing theoretical view of the Universe is logically flawed. Arranging the cosmos as we think it is arranged, say the team, would have required a miracle [emphasis added]. The problem stems from the observation in 1998 that the Universe's expansion seems to be speeding up. The most popular explanation for this is that there is a cosmological constant - a repulsive force that opposes gravity. So either space is not accelerating for the reasons we think it is, or we have yet to discover some principle of physics, the researchers conclude. Like a guardian angel, this principle would pick out those few initial states that lead to a Universe like ours, and then guide cosmic evolution so that it really does unfold this way. The incomprehensibility of our situation even drives Susskind's team to ponder whether an ‘unknown agent intervened in the evolution [of the Universe] for reasons of its own.’”

["Is physics watching over us?”
Nature News, 13 August 2002 by Phillip Ball. On the net at]

A miracle, eh?

And Who might provide that, pray tell?

Oh dear, back to a Prime Mover, again.

Whom, as Aquinas told us 700 years ago, men, folks, that’s right:


God creating Adam. Physics has not even begun to challenge the existence of God because physics cannot disprove something which is metaphysical. Any fool knows this - but not apparently Richard Dawkins and his mates...


Thursday, 8 April 2010

David Quinn demolishes Richard Dawkins

Here is Dawky Dawkins making a fool of himself again but this time he gets himself demolished by Irish writer David Quinn:

Dawkins' silliest line is when he is asked where "free will" comes from.

He says...wait for it..."science is working on that".


No doubt he thinks scientists have a got a piece of free will and are putting it under a microscope, or in a cyclotron or a test tube?

He thinks that the metaphysical can be put under a microscope and measured showing his complete inability to understand what the very word metaphysical means i.e. not physical.

If ever there was a delusion, that is it.

Perhaps we should call it the "Dawkins Delusion"?


Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter Sunday: Christus surrexit, alleluia, alleluia!

Easter Sunday

Christus surrexit,
sicut dixit,

Christ is risen
as he said!

[Correggio. Noli me tangere. 1525]

"When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome, bought spices so that they might come and anoint Jesus...and on a sabbath morning they came to the sepulchre after sunrise...and looking up they saw that the stone was rolled back. Alleluia!"
[Taverner, Dum transisset sabbatum from Mark 16, sung at the Easter Vigil mass of Holy Saturday night]

"The Angels said to her 'Woman, why are you weeping?'. She said to them 'Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him'. Saying this she turned round and saw Jesus standing but she did not know that it was Jesus. Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him 'Sir, if you have carried Him away tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away'. And Jesus said to her 'Mary'. She turned and said to Him in Hebrew 'Rabboni!'".
[John 20]

"She went and said to the Disciples 'I have seen the Lord!' "
[John 20]

Victimae paschali laudes
immolent Christiani
Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri
Reconciliavit peccatores.
Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando,
Dux vitae mortuus, regnat vivus.
Dic nobis Maria, quid vidisti in via?
Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
Et gloriam vidi resurgentis:
Angelicos testes, sudarium et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea:
Praecedet vos in Galilaeam.
Credendum est magis soli
Mariae veraci
Quam Judaeorum
Turbae fallaci.
Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere:
Tu nobis, victor Rex, miserere.
Amen. Alleluia.

To the Paschal victim let Christians
Offer up their songs of praise.
The Lamb has redeemed the sheep:
Christ who is without sin
Has reconciled sinners to the Father.
Death and life have fought a huge battle,
The Prince of Life was dead, but lives and reigns.
Tell us, Mary, what did you see on your way?
'The tomb of Christ, who is alive,
And I saw the glory of his rising;
Angels standing as witnesses, the shroud and linen cloth.
Christ my hope has risen:
He has gone to Galilee before you'.
More trust should be placed in truthful Mary
Than in the deceitful crowd among the Jews.
Truly, we know Christ has risen from the dead:
O King and victor, have mercy on us. Amen. Alleluia.

[Wipo of Burgundy, Victimi Paschali Laudes. 1040. Sung on Easter Sunday]

Surrexit Christus hodie! Alleluia!

Christ is risen today! Alleluia!


Holy Saturday: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, be converted unto the Lord thy God!"

Holy Saturday

"See how the city that was filled now sits solitary...there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her...
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, be converted unto the Lord thy God!"

[Caravaggio. The Entombment. c.1602-1604]

"See how the city that was filled now sits solitary...there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her...Jerusalem, Jerusalem, be converted unto the Lord thy God!"
[Office of Tenebrae of Maundy Thursday (Matins), Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet, ch.1]

"Arise O Jerusalem and put off thy garments of joy: put on ashes and sackcloth, for in thee was slain the Saviour of Israel."
[Responsory, Tenebrae (Matins) of Holy Saturday]

"Remember, Lord, what is come upon us: consider and behold our reproach. Our inheritance is turned unto aliens, our houses to strangers. We are become orphans without a father, our mothers are as widows...our fathers have sinned and are no more and we have borne their iniquities.
[Tenebrae (Matins) of Holy Saturday, prayer of the prophet Jeremiah]

Jeremiah lamenting the fall of Israel

"I am counted among them that go down to the pit. I am become like a man without help free among the dead."
[Responsory, Tenebrae (Matins) of Holy Saturday]

"For when every commandment of the Law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of goats and calves and of goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people saying, this is the blood of the Testament which God hath enjoined upon you. The tabernacle also and all the vessels of the ministry in like manner he sprinkled with blood. And almost all things according to the Law are cleansed with blood and without shedding of blood there is no remission."
[Heb. ix.]

"When the Lord was buried they sealed the sepulchre rolling a stone before the mouth of the sepulchre and placed soldiers to guard Him."
[Responsory, Tenebrae (Matins) of Holy Saturday]

"O death I will be thy death! O hell, I will be thy bite!"
[Antiphon of the Miserere, Tenebrae (Lauds) of Holy Saturday]

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, be converted unto the Lord thy God!



Good Friday: "Attend and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow..."

Good Friday

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 dedi tibi sceptrum regale: et tu dedisti capiti meo spineam coronam.

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

"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 lance thou pierced the side of thy Saviour!

I gave thee a royal sceptre and thou didst give My head a crown of thorns…

O my people! What have I done to thee? Wherein have I offended thee? Answer me!"

Titian. Christ Crowned with Thorns. 1540.

"For he hath taken us and he will heal us: he will strike and he will cure us. He will revive after two days: on the third day he will raise us up and we shall live in his sight. We shall know and we shall follow on, that we know the Lord...for I desired mercy and not animal sacrifice and the knowledge of God more than holocausts."
[Hosea 6, First lesson sung at the Good Friday Service of the Mass of the Pre-sanctified]

"He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the whole chastisement that made us whole and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter and like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers, he opened not his mouth."
[Isaiah 53, Epistle for Wednesday in Holy Week]

Ecce Homo! Behold the Man!

"Jesus answered: ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from hence’. Pilate therefore said to Him ‘Art Thou a King then?’ Jesus answered ‘Thou sayest that I am a King. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, that I should give testimony of the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth My voice…

…Then therefore Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him and the soldiers plaiting a Crown of Thorns, put it upon His head and they put upon Him a purple mantle and they came to Him and said ‘Hail King of the Jews!’ and they gave Him blows."
[John, 18]

Regnavit a ligno Deus.
"God hath reigned from a tree."
[From Vexilla Regis, St Venantius Fortunatus, sung during the Good Friday Service of the Passion.]

"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 lance thou pierced the side of thy Saviour!
… For thy sake I scourged Egypt with its first-born and thou didst deliver Me up to be scourged…
… I gave thee a royal sceptre and thou didst give My head a crown of thorns…
… I exalted thee with great strength and thou didst hang Me on the gibbet of the Cross…
O my people! What have I done to thee? Wherein have I offended thee? Answer me!"
[Improperia or Reproaches of Christ to His people and to us all, from the Good Friday Service of the Passion.]

O vos omnes, qui transitis per viam, attendite et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus.
"O all ye that pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow."
[Lamentations of Jeremiah, sung at Tenebrae (Matins and Lauds) on Maundy Thursday]

Diego Velázquez. Christ Crucified. c. 1632.

"And they took Jesus and led Him forth. And bearing His cross, He went forth to that place that is called Calvary but in Hebrew Golgotha, where they crucified Him and with Him two others, one on each side and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title also and he put it upon the Cross and the writing was ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’… and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin."
[John 18]


Friday, 2 April 2010

Maundy Thursday: "A new commandment I give you: love one another as I have loved you"

Maundy Thursday

Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos, dicit Dominus.

"A new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved you, saith the Lord."

Philippe de Champaigne. The Last Supper. 1654.

ALEPH: Quomodo sedet sola civitas, plena populo, facta es quasi vidua; domina gentium, princeps provinicarum, facta est sub tributo.

ALEPH: How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!
[Lamentations of Jeremiah 1:1, the beginning of Tenebrae (Matins) for Maundy Thursday]

How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! (Lamentations)

"And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 'This month shall be to you the beginning of months. It shall be the first in the months of the year...on the tenth day of this month let every man take a lamb by their families and houses... and it shall be a lamb WITHOUT BLEMISH, a male, of one year...and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month and the whole multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood thereof and put it upon both the side posts and on the upper door posts of the houses wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh that night roasted at the fire and unleavened bread with wild lettuce... neither shall there remain any thing of it until morning. If there be anything left you shall burn it with fire. And thus shall you eat it: you shall gird your reins and you shall have shoes on your feet, holding staves in your hands and you shall eat in haste for it is the Phase (that is the Passage) of the Lord... And I shall see the blood and shall pass over you...and this day shall be for a memorial to you and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord in your generations with an everlasting observance'... And Moses said... 'Thou shalt keep this thing as a law for thee and thy children forever...and when your children shall say to you "What is the meaning of this service" you shall say to them "It is the victim of the passage of the Lord when He passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, striking the Egyptians and saving our houses..."
[Exod 12]

The Paschal lamb.
Scripture fittingly depicts the Christ as an innocent lamb led to the slaughter - the innocent "Lamb of God" sacrificed for the wicked sins of ungrateful and rebellious men, going dumb, innocent and in silence to torture and death at the hands of sinful men.

"Now the feast of the unleavened bread which is called the Pasch was at hand...and when the hour was come He sat down and the twelve apostles with Him and He said to them 'With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer, for I say to you that from this time I will not eat it till it be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God'... And taking bread He gave thanks, and brake and gave them saying 'This is my body which is given up for you. Do this for a commemoration of me'. In like manner the chalice also, after He had supped, saying 'This is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you'.
[Luke 22]

"On the night of that last supper,
Seated with His chosen band,
He the paschal victim eating,
First fulfils the Law's command.
Then as food to all His brethren
Gives Himself with His own hand"
[Pange lingua gloriosi, sung at the Maundy Mass.]

"Before the festival day of the Pasch, Jesus knowing that His hour was come...having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end. And when supper was ended... He riseth from supper and..having taken a towel, girded Himself. After that, He putteth water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded...Then after He had washed their feet and taken His garments, being set down again, He said to them 'Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord. And you say well; for so I am. If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet."
[John 13]

Vincenzo Civerchio. Christ washing the feet of the disciples. 1544.

Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos, dicit Dominus.

"A new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved you, saith the Lord."
[John 13:34, sung at the Maundy Mass]

Ubi caritas et amor ubi Deus est. Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor. Exultemus et in ipso jucundemur. Timeamus et amemus Deum vivum. Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.

"Where charity and love are there is God. The love of Christ has gathered us together. Let us rejoice in Him and be glad. Let us fear and love the living God and let us love one another with a sincere heart."
[John 2:3-4, sung at the Maundy Mass]

"And going out He went, according to His custom, to the Mount of Olives and His disciples also followed Him... and kneeling down He prayed saying 'Father, if Thou wilt, remove this chalice from me but not yet my will but Thine be done'...And He being in agony, He prayed the longer and His sweat became as drops of blood trickling down upon the ground."
[Luke 22:39-44]

Christ sweats blood in fear at the torment to come and is comforted by an angel.




Tenebrae, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday.

Come and take part.


The supposed tolerance of anti-Catholics

Judging by two or three recent mails from some crazed anti-Catholics, the spirit of intolerance toward Catholicism is as strong as ever among that minority whose spite and hatred is what chiefly motivates them.

One chap from Mexico who says he hates Catholics agrees that his country is in a bad way and has been for a very long time, detests his government and previous governments but then considers it naive to look back to the Emperor Maximilian because, says he, it is unfair for a foreigner to rule a country which he was not born in.

And this self-confessed hater of his own country thinks it is naive for someone not born in his country to be its ruler.

See the self-contradiction?

He hates his own country but he wants only people like himself - who hate their own country - to rule it.

Why shouldn't someone from outside a country be invited to rule it? If the people want that then why not?

Isn't it just the most naked and narrow racism to think that only one's own country and people matter and that no-one else should have anything to do with them?

But, hey, folks! Welcome to the funny farm that is your average, modern, anti-Christian nihilist.

And is it any wonder that Mexico is in the state that it is in, if people like this geezer are its citizens?

Poor Mexico!

Some other half-wit thinks it is clever to ask "why the silence on clerical sex abuse". And of course he/she/it signs itself "anonymous"! It obviously hasn't been reading my posts if it thinks I am silent on the subject!

But then it obviously hasn't been reading much at all if it thinks that only the Catholic Church has abusers in its ranks.

Protestants have an even bigger problem with abuse and secularists have a bigger problem still. But - hey- Mr Anonymous isn't interested in anything so boring as the truth.

Some other nihilist called "Samantha" is so unable to articulate a sentence that all she/he can do is shout obscenities, effing and blinding without any coherence.

Welcome to the semi-literate world of the modern nihilist, folks. It is really is truly pathetic.

And the poor wretches do not realise that their inanity proves them all the more wrong and the Catholic Church all the more right.