Friday, 30 May 2008
Catholic martyr of Japan: St Magdalene of Nagasaki
Born in the early seventeenth century, Magdalene belonged to a devout Christian family. Her parents were martyred around 1620, when Magdalene was in her teens.
It was around this time that the first Augustinians arrived in Japan. As a committed Catholic Christian, Magdalene made herself known to them. She served as a catechist and interpreter for the early Augustinian missionaries.
She found their Augustinian spirituality appealing, with its emphasis on the search for God, interior life, and community. She asked to be accepted into the Order of Saint Augustine, and in 1625 was formally received into the Augustinian Third Order.
Being a Christian in Japan became more and more difficult, and with the growth of Christianity persecution became stronger. Magdalene fled to the hills, where she worked at bringing the Word of God to those who did not know Jesus, and strengthening the faith of those who did.
In 1632 the Augustinians Francis of Jesus Terrero and Vincent of Saint Anthony Simoens, who had been her first counsellors, were burned to death by the pagan Japanese government because of their Christian faith. This only served to make Magdalene's faith and commitment to Christ even stronger. She located two other Augustinian Friars, Martin of Saint Nicholas Lumbreras and Melchior of Saint Augustine Sánchez. They mutually encouraged each other in persevering in the faith..
Eventually these two Friars were also martyred. Magdalene then took as her spiritual guide Jordan of Saint Stephen, a Dominican. Dominicans also follow a variant of the Rule of St Augustine.
She considered becoming a full-fledged Dominican sister, but continued religious persecution kept her from doing so.
Moved by her strong Christian conviction, and when she could hide no more, Magdalene voluntarily declared herself a follower of Jesus. She was arrested, threatened, ridiculed and tortured, but her Christian witness was strong and unfailing.
After 13 days of torture, wearing her Augustinian habit, Magdalene was suspended upside down in a pit of garbage and eventually died of her tortures. Then her body was burned and her ashes scattered.
Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1981 and canonized her in 1987.
The Day of the Bomb on Nagasaki's Christians
Mass murder of innocent Catholic women, children and elderly?
Is that a "mote"?
Well, I doubt he/she can really mean that. It was too awful for that.
Here is what one American writer forcefully and dramatically says of the day the bomb fell on Nagasaki:
It had been only 3 days since the first bomb had decimated Hiroshima on 6 August with chaos and confusion in Tokyo, where the fascist military government and the Emperor had been searching for months for a way to an honourable end of the war which had exhausted the Japanese to virtually moribund status. (The only obstacle to surrender had been the Truman administration’s insistence on unconditional surrender, which meant that the Emperor Hirohito, whom the Japanese regarded as a deity, would be removed from his figurehead position in Japan – an intolerable demand for the Japanese.)
The Russian army was advancing across Manchuria with the stated aim of entering the war against Japan on 8 August, so there was an extra incentive to end the war quickly: the US military command did not want to divide any spoils or share power after Japan sued for peace.
The US bomber command had spared Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Kokura from the conventional bombing that had burned to the ground 60+ other major Japanese cities during the first half of 1945. One of the reasons for targeting relatively undamaged cities with these new weapons of mass destruction was scientific: to see what would happen to intact buildings – and their living inhabitants – when atomic weapons were exploded overhead.
Early in the morning of August 9, 1945, a B-29 Superfortress called Bock’s Car, took off from Tinian Island, with the prayers and blessings of its Lutheran and Catholic chaplains, and headed for Kokura, the primary target. (Its bomb was code-named “Fat Man,” after Winston Churchill.)
The only field test of a nuclear weapon, blasphemously named “Trinity,” had occurred just three weeks earlier, on 16 July 1945 at Alamogordo, New Mexico. The molten lava-rock that resulted, still found at the site today, is called trinitite.
With instructions to drop the bomb only on visual sighting, Bock’s Car arrived at Kokura, which was clouded over. So after circling three times, looking for a break in the clouds, and using up a tremendous amount of valuable fuel in the process, it headed for its secondary target, Nagasaki.
Nagasaki is famous in the history of Japanese Christianity. Not only was it the site of the largest Christian church in the Orient, St. Mary’s Cathedral, but it also had the largest concentration of baptised Christians in all of Japan. It was the city where the legendary Jesuit missionary, Francis Xavier, established a mission church in 1549, a Christian community which survived and prospered for several generations.
However, soon after Xavier’s planting of Christianity in Japan, Portuguese and Spanish commercial interests began to be accurately perceived by the Japanese rulers as exploitive, and therefore the religion of the Europeans (Christianity) and their new Japanese converts became the target of brutal persecutions.
Within 60 years of the start of Xavier’s mission church, it was a capital crime to be a Christian. The Japanese Christians who refused to recant of their beliefs suffered ostracism, torture and even crucifixions similar to the Roman persecutions in the first three centuries of Christianity. After the reign of terror was over, it appeared to all observers that Japanese Christianity had been stamped out.
However, 250 years later, in the 1850s, after the coercive gunboat diplomacy of Commodore Perry forced open an offshore island for American trade purposes, it was discovered that there were thousands of baptised Christians in Nagasaki, living their faith in a catacomb existence, completely unknown to the government – which immediately started another purge. But because of international pressure, the persecutions were soon stopped, and Nagasaki Christianity came up from the underground. And by 1917, with no help from the government, the Japanese Christian community built the massive St. Mary’s Cathedral, in the Urakami River district of Nagasaki.
Now it turned out, in the mystery of good and evil, that St. Mary’s Cathedral was one of the landmarks that the Bock’s Car bombardier had been briefed on, and looking through his bomb site over Nagasaki that day, he identified the cathedral and ordered the drop.
At 11:02 am, Nagasaki Christianity was boiled, evaporated and carbonized in a scorching, radioactive fireball. The persecuted, vibrant, faithful, surviving centre of Japanese Christianity had become ground zero.
And what the Japanese Imperial government could not do in over 200 years of persecution, American Christians did in 9 seconds. The entire worshipping community of Nagasaki was wiped out."
[From The Bombing of Nagasaki August 9, 1945: The Untold Story by Gary G. Kohls]
Horrible and horrifying. What real man or woman can excuse it? It is just too disgusting.
And yet it happened!
However, God was able to draw good out of evil as He often does. Here is a wonderful story by way of example.
It all began only hours after the atom bomb mushroomed over Nagasaki in the summer of 1945. Dr. Takenaka was working as a surgeon in a military hospital just outside the city of Nagasaki. Almost half of the medical personnel in the city died in the first seconds of the blast.
Nagasaki is shaped something like a salad bowl with mountains on three sides. The open side makes Nagasaki one of Japan’s great seaports. When the atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki, fire and radiation splashed up the sides of this salad bowl-like city. It is estimated that about 60,000 people died in the blast.
The American bomber, nicknamed Bock’s Car, had the city of Kokura, not Nagasaki, as its primary target. However, the clouds were so thick over the primary target, that the bombardier could not pick up his aiming point. As fuel was running low, the pilot had to go to Nagasaki, which was his secondary target.
Although there were clouds over Nagasaki, too, the oval stadium, near two Mitsubishi war-goods plants, was visible. The bomb, called the Fat Man, was released by parachute to explode at an altitude of 1600 feet. This was a plutonium bomb, even more devastating than Hiroshima’s uranium bomb. Because the bomb was dropped off target and the wind took it even more off course, Madame Butterfly’s house was saved, but “ground zero”, the epicentre of the blast, was right over the Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption in the Urakami district of Nagasaki.
The only things found in the ashes of the 2000-seat Cathedral were the charred buttons from the cassocks of the Japanese priests hearing confessions during the High Mass going on at the time. Not deliberately, of course, but Christian America had just destroyed the largest Christian church in the Orient, and snuffed out about 75 percent of the Christians who lived in and around Nagasaki.
Dr. Takenaka went on to describe the scene shortly after the A-bomb exploded. He said, “Being only a few miles away, we knew something dreadful had happened to the city. But when we arrived on the scene itself, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Blazing rubble, littered with bodies burned beyond recognition; incredible heat, and the stench of scorched flesh made us nauseous. Horribly burned people, screaming hysterically, twisted and squirmed uncontrollably in pain, terror and panic -- pleading pitifully for help. Many of the irradiated victims were faceless, with only indentations where eyes, nose and ears had once been, their skin hanging in folds from their arms and legs. Among the ashes were both the living and the dead. Even though we were experienced medical personnel, the scale of devastation shocked us, to the point that we were temporarily immobilized”.
This man with bushy eyebrows and greying temples continued, “I thought to myself, if there’s a hell, this is what it must be like. Many of the survivors were burned so badly that even under the best circumstances, nothing could be done to save them. Supplies were short; needs were enormous. Vehicles were stalled in the rubble, so the wounded had to be carried by hand to whatever clearing could be found.”
Dr. Takenaka said that glazed-eyed survivors, screaming in agony, pulled frantically at his white coat, begging him to do something for them.
“I did what I could,” he said dejectedly.
Because everything had been levelled, there were no shelters where the victims could be taken to protect them from the 100-degree heat of the scorching August sun. Many simply expired in the ashes of their own homes and places of business.
In a voice filled with sadness, Dr. Takenaka went on, “The heat from the fires, plus the heat from the very hot sun exhausted us quickly, but we knew we must try to keep going for the sake of the victims. Most of us worked without rest for over 48 hours. Food and water were simply non-existent at that point. Radiation and epidemic loomed as our greatest fears. So many dead, unburied bodies made the danger of plague positively frightening”.
Dr. Takenaka continued: “We were working in the Urakami Cathedral section of the burned-out city. As I made my way slowly through piles of human bodies, I heard what I thought was the sound of singing. I couldn’t believe my ears”.
Dr. Takenaka’s tone softened and quickened. “Frankly, because I was on the verge of exhaustion, I wondered if I was beginning to hallucinate, the horrors of this hell being too much for a human being to bear. Suddenly, I saw them, 20 or 30 people, some critically burned, sitting in a kind of circle singing and apparently praying. They had beads in their hands which reminded me of the Buddhist jus beads. On a closer look, as I made my way over to this little group, I discovered the beads had crosses on one end. They seemed like a tiny island of composure and serenity in what I would forever remember as a nightmarish sea of horror, destruction and panic.”
'Who are you?', I asked, still not sure that I wasn’t going out of my mind.
The noise of screaming and crying around us was so loud, I could hardly hear their reply.
'Who are you?' I shouted again at the top of my voice.
The reply came back, 'We are Christians, and we are praying to our God.'
Of course, I had heard of Jesus Christ, but this was the first time in my life that I had ever spoken to Christians. For people to have such inner composure at a time like this jolted me way down deep inside with a strange mixture of fear and awe. I said to them, ‘Some of you are badly burned. Let me do what I can for you.’"
As the doctor prepared to give these hapless victims medical attention, he was stunned to hear them say, “Thank you for coming to us, doctor, but God is with us and will take care of us. Please go and help those who need you more. We will be all right.”
This soft-spoken, ingenuous man paused reflectively, his eyes misty, and then went on, “Everyone around me was reaching out desperately, begging me to come and give them medical attention. I just could not believe my ears when this group of Christians calmly asked that I go to the others who needed me more. I honestly never dreamed this kind of selfless concern for others really existed. Although I knew nothing about the teaching of Jesus Christ, I immediately saw the difference between a true Christian and the rest of us. In the presence of indescribable suffering, their faith in God never wavered; and they were more concerned about others than themselves.
“I have no way of knowing, but I suspect that most of that little band of Christians died before the fires went out in their incinerated city.”
Now, with a little smile, Dr. Takenaka observed, “My first contact with Christianity revealed a remarkable quality of heart, and an heroic dimension of inner strength. I said to myself, if there is a God, I hope that God will give me the faith to believe what these Christians believed.”
Fifteen years later, in Tokyo, Dr. Takenaka met the famous Paris Foreign Missionary, Fr. Candau. After a year’s instruction, Dr. Takenaka was baptized a Christian.
For this one Japanese naval doctor, the atom bombing of Nagasaki became the vehicle of his conversion from Buddhism to Christianity. Dr. Takenaka’s story and mine intersected only one time in this world, at a Tokyo Rotary luncheon. But I’ll never forget him or the fact a Rotary Club on the outskirts of Tokyo brought us together in the early 1970s.
As Dr. Takenaka and I parted that day in Tokyo, he left me with these words: “The great Jesus Christ taught that the gift you have received, you should give as a gift. I believe the seeds of my own Christian faith were sown in atom-bombed Nagasaki. My heart tells me that those dying Christians passed on to me the gift of their Christian faith. And now I try my best to share my own faith with others. I believe I am the spiritual child of those Nagasaki Christians. For them, dying was truly gain; and for me staying alive meant becoming Christian -- this was also gain. From those Christians, I learned a very important lesson: I must let God be God in my life.”'
[From Atom-bombed Nagasaki by Rev Fr Stephen Lynch OFM]
From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring...
St Paul Miki pray! Lest we forget the Atomic bombing of the sacred site of the Nagasaki Catholic martyrs
Truman used to keep a sign on his desk saying "the buck stops here".
OK, Harry, the buck stops with you, too, for the mass-murder of innocent Japanese Christians. We may doubt that God was impressed by your excuses for such an astonishingly foul deed. So you think you're better than Emperor Hirohito? At least he only attacked military targets at Pearl Harbour! Tell that to the Marines, Mr President!
Shockingly and appallingly, the "Fat Man" A-Bomb dropped on 9 August 1945 in the Catholic district of Nagasaki, a short distance away from Urakami Cathedral, was a "dirty" bomb which was deliberately designed to maximise radiation sickness, so continuing to poison Japanese Catholics even decades after.
Also shocking is the fact that many of the US air crew were of Irish-American stock, including the commander of the B-29 Bomber, Bockscar, who was Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Charles Sweeney.
Other Irish-Americans included Capt Raymond "Kermit" Beahan, bombardier, Staff Sgt Ray Gallagher, gunner, assistant flight engineer, Staff Sgt Edward Buckley, radar operator.
2nd Lt Fred Olivi, regular co-pilot, may well have been an Italian-American.
The rest of the crew were Capt Charles Donald Albury, co-pilot, Capt James Van Pelt, navigator, Master Sgt John D. Kuharek, flight engineer, Sgt Abe Spitzer, radio operator, and Sgt Albert Dehart, tail gunner.
Ironically, some of the aircrew were Catholic and/or were raised Catholic.
As Robin Wright wrote of Pope John Paul II in The Washington Post on 4 April 2005:
It is a sobering thought, is it not? Catholics used to murder other, innocent, Catholics, blasting them to smithereens.
For what is the deliberate, foreseen, intended killing of innocent civilians in war other than murder? So are we taught by the Catholic doctrine of just war. Let us not forget it!
Equally shocking is the fact that Nagasaki is the sacred site of martyrdom of the Nagasaki Catholic Martyrs of 1597, St Paul Miki and his saintly companions, who were crucified for their Catholic faith by pagan Japanese.
St Paul Miki was born into a rich, military Japanese family who all later converted to Catholicism under the influence of St Francis Xavier SJ.
He was educated by Jesuit missionaries in Azuchi and Takatsuki. He joined the Society of Jesus and preached the Gospel to his fellow citizens. The Japanese government feared Jesuit influences and persecuted them. In 1588, Emperor Cambacundono claimed that he was god, and ordered all missionaries to leave Japan within six months.
Miki and his companions did not do so and continued to minister in secret. They were eventually arrested and jailed. He and his Christian peers were forced to walk 600 miles from Kyoto as a punishment against them and the Jesuit community.
Finally they arrived at Nagasaki, the city which had had the most conversions to Catholic Christianity. They did not lament but rejoiced, singing Te Deum to the glory of God.
There they were crucified, in mockery of Christ's own crucifixion, on February 5, 1597.
Miki preached his last sermon, Christ-like, from the cross, forgiving his executioners and calling upon them to recognise that he, too, was Japanese and no foreigner and that he had done them no evil but only worked for the good of his countrymen.
Alongside him died Juan Soan (de Gotó) and Santiago Kisai, of the Society of Jesus, in addition to twenty-three clergy and laity, all of whom were later canonized by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1862.
As Robin Wright recalled above, Pope John Paul II visited some of the many Catholic victims of the dirty "Fat Man" bomb many years later in a Nagasaki hospital, many of them horribly crippled and wasted by radiation sickness caused by the "Fat Man" A-Bomb.
These victims, too, were "Nagasaki martyrs", innocents caught up in a war not of their making and brutally maimed by the shockingly immoral actions of a thoughtless, sinful government.
Oh, man, what a foolish, arrogant, senseless, sinful creature you are! And even decades later you still idly and evilly defend your gross and horrifying sins. How can you be saved if you will not repent?
God forgive us all...
Here are the last words of St Paul Miki, crucified and lanced in the side at Nagasaki on 5 February 1597:
Thursday, 29 May 2008
I like America but...
1. Jefferson enslaved his own illegitimate children by a slave
Thomas Jefferson fathered children by his black slave, Sally Hemings, keeping his offspring enslaved.
Regarding marriage between blacks and whites, Jefferson wrote that:
"[t]he amalgamation of whites with blacks produces a degradation to which no lover of his country, no lover of excellence in the human character, can innocently consent."
In complete contradistinction to the Spanish Catholic monarchy, church and missionaries who supported and protected the rights of men of all races, and whom, let it be said to his eternal shame, Jefferson so detested and abused, Jefferson considered blacks, hispanics and native Americans inferior. Many modern US Liberals will hotly deny this fact but it is clear and evident from his writings.
In addition, Hemings was likely the half-sister of Jefferson’s deceased wife Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson (John Wayles had a reputation for having sexual relations with his own slaves).
The allegation that Jefferson fathered children with Hemings first gained widespread public attention in 1802, when journalist James T. Callender, wrote in a Richmond newspaper:
“...[Jefferson] keeps and for many years has kept, as his concubine, one of his slaves. Her name is Sally.”
A 1998 DNA study concluded that there was a DNA link between some of Hemings descendants and the Jefferson family. Three studies were released in the early 2000s, following the publication of the DNA evidence. In 2000, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which runs Monticello, appointed a multi-disciplinary, nine-member in-house research committee of Ph.D.s and an M.D. to study the matter of the paternity of Hemings’s children. The committee concluded:
“it is very unlikely that any Jefferson other than Thomas Jefferson was the father of [Hemings's six] children.”
Some have attempted to suggest that Randolph Jefferson, Thomas's younger brother, was the father of at least one of the slave children, Eston, but the National Genealogical Society Quarterly then published articles reviewing the evidence from a genealogical perspective and concluded that the link between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings was clearly credible.
In short, the alleged lover of liberty enslaved his own children.
Let us not forget that this was also the man who wrote of the brutal murder of the French Catholic king and queen and of the very young royal princes and princesses, that "the tree liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants" all the while that he was enslaving his own half-black children.
It was, among others, this man, the drafter of the American Declaration of Independence, whom Dr Samuel Johnson had in mind when he wrote:
“Why is it that the yelps for liberty come loudest from the drivers of slaves?”
And yet this is the man who is held up as the exemplar of American liberty and politics.
2. Harry S Truman lied about Hiroshima
Here is how Truman announced the Hiroshima bombing:
"The British, Chinese, and United States Governments have given the Japanese people adequate warning of what is in store for them. We have laid down the general terms on which they can surrender. Our warning went unheeded; our terms were rejected. Since then the Japanese have seen what our atomic bomb can do. They can foresee what it will do in the future. The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians. But that attack is only a warning of things to come. If Japan does not surrender, bombs will have to be dropped on her war industries and, unfortunately, thousands of civilian lives will be lost. I urge Japanese civilians to leave industrial cities immediately, and save themselves from destruction. I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb. Its production and its use were not lightly undertaken by this Government. But we knew that our enemies were on the search for it. We know now how close they were to finding it. And we knew the disaster which would come to this Nation, and to all peace-loving nations, to all civilization, if they had found it first. That is why we felt compelled to undertake the long and uncertain and costly labour of discovery and production. We won the race of discovery against the Germans. Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbour, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretence of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans. We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan's power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us."
Used against those who attacked Pearl Harbour? Who is he kidding? How many Japanese women and children civilians attacked Pearl Harbour?
But, in any case, he is knowingly lying.
He knew - as did his generals - that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were both cities and not military bases.
It was, regrettably, a base lie.
Moreover, Nagasaki was the city of the Nagasaki Catholic martyrs and the centre of Japanese Catholicism - the one place in Japan that was most likely to be the most sympathetic to the West.
Indeed, they dropped the Bomb only a short distance away from the principal Roman Catholic Cathedral of Japan - St Mary's in Urakami, Nagasaki. Moreover, they got Irish-American boys to do it and that with a dirty, high-radiation, A-Bomb that went on killing by radiation sickness for decades after; and this on the sacred site of the Nagasaki Catholic martyrs of 1597.
What astonishing stupidity and moral depravity!
Pope John Paul II visited some of the many Catholic victims of the dirty "Fat Man" bomb many years later in a Nagasaki hospital.
Hang your head in shame, Harry Truman and the American leaders of that time for this atrocious crime against humanity!
America - do not make excuses for this crime. Just admit it, repent and make reparation to God and man for it.
3. JFK, LBJ and the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem, Catholic President of Vietnam
Here is a clip of President Lyndon Johnson admitting to Sen Eugene McCarthy that the USA orchestrated the assassination of President Diem.
In fact, it was during JFK's Presidency that the decision was made and - as documents now clearly show - with the full knowledge and approval of Catholic President John F Kennedy.
Shocking but true!
I anticipate the usual weak and disgraceful apologies for this act of barbarism:
1. Diem was himself corrupt.
Where's the proof that he was any more corrupt than every other South-East Asian leader? None? Ok - then why kill him?
But even if he were corrupt, by what conceivable moral rule could the USA claim the right to aid and assist those who sought his life? By what conceivable moral rule does anyone, government or individual, have the right to kill another human person save justly in a just war or after just due process of law? NONE AT ALL. OTHERWISE IT IS CALLED, AND RIGHTLY SO, BY THE ODIOUS NAME OF MURDER. AND THE COMMANDMENT SAYS "THOU SHALT DO NO MURDER". IT COULD NOT BE CLEARER!
2. Diem was not going to unite South Vietnam against the Communist North.
So what? How does that give anyone the right to murder him?
3. Diem probably had some of his opponents murdered.
Says who? Where's the proof? Diem was a devout, traditional Catholic who came from a long line of Catholic aristocrats who had been Mandarins under the Emperor since the 17th century and earlier. Where is the evidence that he was a man who would turn to murder?
Even if it were true, how does that give anyone the right to murder him in return? The US could have called him before an International Criminal Tribunal if they had had the proof. But connive at his murder? How can that be right?
After Diem came President Nguyen Van Thieu - also a Catholic and a convert from Buddhism.
The US government soon enough dumped Thieu, too, and he had to escape his own country for fear of murder by the victorious Communists after the Fall of Saigon in 1975.
And who can forget the harrowing stories, told by US soldiers themselves at various tribunals and enquiries, of their carelessly massacring Vietnamese women and children under orders from equally careless and seemingly amoral officers.
Officers of a great nation like the USA allowing such disgusting behaviour?
How shocking is that? And yet it happened!
4. ...and have things got noticeably better under William Jefferson Clinton or since?
I have just returned from New York and these thoughts crowded into my mind along with many other examples of the insularity and false ideology that is, even today, all too dominant in the USA despite its enormous wealth and power.
There is a lot that is good in the USA but a lot that is still inexcusably not good.
Come on America. You can do better!
The Feast of Corpus Christi
quem in mundi pretium
fructus ventris generosi
Rex effudit Gentium.
Nobis datus, nobis natus
ex inacta Virgine,
et in mundo conversatus,
sparso verbi semine,
sui moras incolatus
miro clausit ordine.
In suprema nocte coenae
recumbus cum fratribus
observata lege plene
cibis in legalibus,
cibum turbae duodenae
se dat suis manibus.
Verbum caro, panem verum
verbo carnem efficit:
fitque sanguis Christi merum,
et si sensus deficit,
ad firmandum cor sincerum
sola fides sufficit.
Tantum ergo Sacramentum
et antiquum documentum
novo cedat ritui:
praestet fides supplementum
laus et jubilatio,
salus, honor, virtus quoque
sit et benedictio:
procedenti ab utroque
compar sit laudatio.
SING, my tongue, the Saviour's glory,
of His flesh the mystery sing;
of the Blood, all price exceeding,
shed by our immortal King,
destined, for the world's redemption,
from a noble womb to spring.
Of a pure and spotless Virgin
born for us on earth below,
He, as Man, with man conversing,
stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
then He closed in solemn order
wondrously His life of woe.
On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He the Pascal victim eating,
first fulfills the Law's command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own hand.
Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;-
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.
Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing,
newer rites of grace prevail;
faith for all defects supplying,
where the feeble sense fail.
To the everlasting Father,
and the Son who reigns on high,
with the Holy Ghost proceeding
forth from Each eternally,
be salvation, honour, blessing,
might and endless majesty.
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Pange Lingua is a hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) for the Feast of Corpus Christi.
It is also sung on Holy Thursday, during the procession from the church to the altar of repose where the Blessed Sacrament is kept until Good Friday.
The last two stanzas, called separately Tantum Ergo, are sung at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
The hymn expresses the doctrine of transubstantiation, the Thomist expression for the transformation of the elements of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
The other great Eucharistic hymn of St Thomas is Adoro Te also often sung at Benediction.
There are numerous good translations of this famous hymn but I think that of Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Jesuit poet, is one of the more unusual. Here it is:
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth Himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.
On the cross Thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here Thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.
I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.
O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.
Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what Thy bosom ran
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.
Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with Thy glory's sight. Amen.
“47 Amen, amen I say unto you: He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. 52 If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. 53 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 54 Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. 55 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. 56 For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. 57 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. 58 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. 59 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever. 60 These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum. 61 Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? 62 But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? 63 If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 64 It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life. 65 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him. 66 And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father. 67 After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. 68 Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? 69 And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 70 And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. 71 Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil? 72 Now he meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for this same was about to betray him, whereas he was one of the twelve.”
For those who (still) think that the idea of bread turning into Christ's Body is un-Scriptural, here is the proof that it is entirely Scriptural: John 6:47-72.
Below it is reproduced in both English and Greek. Note carefully the words highlighted in bold.
"47 amhn amhn legw umin, o pisteuwn ecei zwhn aiwnion. 48 egw eimi o artoV thV zwhV. 49 oi patereV umwn efagon en th erhmw to manna kai apeqanon: 50 outoV estin o artoV o ek tou ouranou katabainwn ina tiV ex autou fagh kai mh apoqanh. 51 egw eimi o artoV o zwn o ek tou ouranou katabaV: ean tiV fagh ek toutou tou artou zhsei eiV ton aiwna: kai o artoV de on egw dwsw h sarx mou estin uper thV tou kosmou zwhV. 52 emaconto oun proV allhlouV oi ioudaioi legonteV, pwV dunatai outoV hmin dounai thn sarka [autou] fagein; 53 eipen oun autoiV o ihsouV, amhn amhn legw umin, ean mh faghte thn sarka tou uiou tou anqrwpou kai pihte autou to aima, ouk ecete zwhn en eautoiV. 54 o trwgwn mou thn sarka kai pinwn mou to aima ecei zwhn aiwnion, kagw anasthsw auton th escath hmera: 55 h gar sarx mou alhqhV estin brwsiV, kai to aima mou alhqhV estin posiV. 56 o trwgwn mou thn sarka kai pinwn mou to aima en emoi menei kagw en autw. 57 kaqwV apesteilen me o zwn pathr kagw zw dia ton patera, kai o trwgwn me kakeinoV zhsei di eme. 58 outoV estin o artoV o ex ouranou katabaV, ou kaqwV efagon oi patereV kai apeqanon: o trwgwn touton ton arton zhsei eiV ton aiwna. 59 tauta eipen en sunagwgh didaskwn en kafarnaoum. 60 polloi oun akousanteV ek twn maqhtwn autou eipan, sklhroV estin o logoV outoV: tiV dunatai autou akouein; 61 eidwV de o ihsouV en eautw oti gogguzousin peri toutou oi maqhtai autou eipen autoiV, touto umaV skandalizei; 62 ean oun qewrhte ton uion tou anqrwpou anabainonta opou hn to proteron; 63 to pneuma estin to zwopoioun, h sarx ouk wfelei ouden: ta rhmata a egw lelalhka umin pneuma estin kai zwh estin. 64 all eisin ex umwn tineV oi ou pisteuousin. hdei gar ex archV o ihsouV tineV eisin oi mh pisteuonteV kai tiV estin o paradwswn auton. 65 kai elegen, dia touto eirhka umin oti oudeiV dunatai elqein proV me ean mh h dedomenon autw ek tou patroV. 66 ek toutou polloi [ek] twn maqhtwn autou aphlqon eiV ta opisw kai ouketi met autou periepatoun. 67 eipen oun o ihsouV toiV dwdeka, mh kai umeiV qelete upagein; 68 apekriqh autw simwn petroV, kurie, proV tina apeleusomeqa; rhmata zwhV aiwniou eceiV, 69 kai hmeiV pepisteukamen kai egnwkamen oti su ei o agioV tou qeou. 70 apekriqh autoiV o ihsouV, ouk egw umaV touV dwdeka exelexamhn, kai ex umwn eiV diaboloV estin; 71 elegen de ton ioudan simwnoV iskariwtou: outoV gar emellen paradidonai auton, eiV ek twn dwdeka."
Now for the Greek - transliterated into Roman script so that the connections are more obvious. Again note the words in bold.
"Brethren, for I myself have received from the Lord (what I also delivered unto you) that the Lord Jesus, on the night that He was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke, and said 'Take ye and eat, for this is my Body which shall be given up for you; do this in remembrance of me. For as oft as you shall eat this Bread and drink this Cup you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes. Therefore whoever eats this Bread of drinks this Cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord".
The numbering is slightly out of sync in the translation but the words are there. Note this: the word for "eat" changes halfway through the discourse.
It changes from phagein, meaning "to eat", to trogon, meaning literally "to munch" (the "w" is a transliteration of the Greek letter Omega which is a long "o"). The verbs are, moreover, inflected according to the context (e.g phage etc) but it is clear that a different verb is being used by our Lord to emphasize what He means.
Our Lord is emphasizing that we are literally to "eat His flesh" albeit His flesh is in the form of bread and His blood in the form of wine.
Note also that when He refers to the Fathers eating manna in the desert He reverts to phagein to show that such "eating" was different from eating His flesh, albeit a foretaste of what was to come. He then changes back to trogon when referring to eating His own flesh.
Then the Jews say that His words are a "hard saying" and "how can this man give us his flesh to eat" and even many of His disciples "walked with him no more". They clearly understood that He was talking about them literally eating His flesh and they could not accept what He was saying, just as Protestants and others cannot accept it today.
Did our Lord change His teaching then to make it more "acceptable" and "relevant" to the Jews? Not one jot did He change! Instead He asked the Twelve "will you also go away?".
The Twelve, however, stayed and confessed their faith, Simon saying “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life".
Marvellous confession of faith!
What could be clearer? The Catholic belief in the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is the truly Scriptural one - not any other!
Hence St Paul says (1 Cor 11:23-17):
There can simply be no doubt whatever that it is the Catholic doctrine which is the Scriptural doctrine. To believe otherwise is to deceive oneself.
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
The Feast of the Holy and Undivided Trinity
OF THE ONE, HOLY AND UNDIVIDED
"My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them life everlasting; and they shall not perish for ever, and no man shall pluck them out of my hand. That which my Father hath given me, is greater than all: and no one can snatch them out of the hand of my Father.
I and the Father are one."
Whitsun: Veni Sancte Spiritus
and the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Church
"And when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost…"
Pentecost (from the Greek Pentecoste meaning the 50th day i.e. after Easter) was also called White Sunday (or Whitsunday) because the neophytes again put on their Easter baptismal robes of white and - until the atrocious Archbishop Bugnini abolished the ceremonies in 1955 - a second but slightly smaller version of the Easter Vigil occurred on Whitsun Eve. In Christendom it was for this reason that Pentecost was often called Pascha Rosatum or, in Italian, Pasqua Rossa, meaning Rose-Easter for the flames that descended like roses, for the red vestments and for the recalling of the mystery of Easter.
This was the importance given by our ancestors to the Feast of Pentecost.
With a most shameful disregard for hallowed tradition which cannot escape the charge of impiety, Bugnini destroyed these centuries-old traditions and ceremonies.
Pentecost represents the fullness of God’s gift to men. He gave us His only-begotten Son at Christmas; in Holy Week, by the Passion of Christ, He atoned for us purifying and sanctifying us in His own Precious Blood. At Easter, at His Resurrection, and after, at His Ascension, God gloriifes us in His own Son and makes a place for us in Heaven.
Then, having ascended into heaven, God sends us the Holy Ghost to be our Advocate and Comforter in our earthly sojourn. Descening upon the Apostles as tongues of fire, the Spirit of love comes to us to inform our lives with charity, to create the Church as a bark of salvation and to lead us into all truth and holiness.
During Whit week every day at Mass is sung that most beautiful of hymns, the Veni Sancte Spiritus. But how often do you hear it sung?
VENI, Sancte Spiritus,
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.
Come Holy Ghost send down those beams
which sweetly flow in silent streams
from Thy bright throne above.
At Vespers is sung also the better-known Veni Creátor Spíritus:
Veni Creátor Spíritus,
Mentes tuórum vísita:
Imple supérna grátia,
Quæ tu creásti pécora.
Come, O Creator, Spirit blest,
And in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid,
To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
Veni Sancte is particularly beautiful and it is a great sadness that so few now know it.
Here is a recording of each by French monks so that the difference can readily be seen. Veni Creator is followed by the sublime Veni Sancte:
Come Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Send forth thy spirit, and they shall be created: and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
[Adapted from Psalm 103:30]
Saturday, 3 May 2008
Hierarchy or egalitarianism: what's the issue?
It is one of the great issues of our day. We are urged to egalitarianism by the media pundits and others who treat it as the chief modern political dogma.
The belief that there is a natural order for human society and that, whilst each man is of equal moral worth, it is natural for there to be a hierarchy within human society, is a belief much scorned and derided in the modern world.
"We are all equals here" is the motto of the day and the spirit of the age. The zeitgeist tells us that "Jack's as good as his master" and that, in any case, there should not be masters and servants, kings and subjects, bishops and faithful, nobles and people, pastors and flocks, officers and men.
We should all be put on an exactly equal footing and everyone treated exactly the same. Even the difference between the sexes has to be ironed out according to modern notions of equality.
Total equality, or egalitarianism, is the order of the day.
But is it right, morally, intellectually and logically?
And here's why.
First and last, the creed of egalitarianism is the creed that says Non serviam or "I shall not serve", the motto and cry of the Devil himself. The egalitarian refuses to serve any other man. He may wish to help him on an equal footing - if he chooses - but he refuses to serve him.
This often stems from a false understanding of the master-servant relationship. Modern men often think this relationship is a relationship of unilateral exploitation by the master and degradation for the servant. That, in fact, stems from a false development of the relationship after the French and Industrial Revolutions and the rise of Capitalism when, in the name of a spurious liberalism, corrupt masters became mere "employers" and sought to throw off their obligations to their servants, treating them as mere "employees" good only for enriching the Capitalists and then to be thrown away when no longer useful.
The proper master/servant relationship is one of mutual love and service, one to the other. The servant serves the master like a son and the master cares for the servant like a father. Each must love and respect the other and serve each in their respective capacities. It is a reflection of the familial relationship. It is not a relationship of mere mutual exploitation, each seeking to take from the other as much as he can squeeze out of them. It must be, rather, a mutual relationship.
So, too, should be the relationship of ruler to ruled, king to subject and pastor to people.
Secondly, if there is no hierarchy amongst men and all are absolutely equal in authority then to whom does any man look for a definitive view on morality, law, social ethics or, indeed, anything? Today it is either the self or the majority.
The atheist will say the yardstick is himself alone but that is of little use since it is merely subjective and so ultimately a mere matter of personal taste.
Others will say that, since all are equal, the answer lies in the majority view. It is this view which is popular in today's secular world. But it is of no use since one cannot decide morality by a mere majority vote.
Only hierarchy - and a hierarchy with God at the apex - can provide the final answer to moral questions and to questions about the end and purpose of life.
This does not mean, as some facile and sloppy-thinking critics claim, that man cannot think for himself. On the contrary, man must think for himself all the more under hierarchy and must do so with clarity and logic.
The atheist has no final reference point beyond himself and so his thoughts are ultimately only self-referring which is hardly to think at all. It is he, and not the believer, who ultimately is the creature of every passing fashion that takes his fancy and so cannot truly think for himself.
Consider a practical situation: if we are all absolutely equal and the majority is to dictate our morality because no man has any other moral authority over another, then all authority is merely delegated by the majority to the office-holders in society.
These office-holders must then be obeyed in all they ordain within the authority given to them by the majority.
Indeed, the ordinances of the office-holding delegates must then be considered by all others in the community to be morally right and so must obeyed.
Any individual who disobeys the delegate of the majority is really pitting himself against the majority, since the majority is, in such a scheme, the only moral authority (because all are equal).
Then one has no choice but to act in accordance with that majority authority and upon the orders of its delegate.
One cannot pits one’s own individual view against that of the majority’s delegate since that would be to pit one man’s absolute equality against the absolute equality of the far larger numbers who make up the majority. Thus where one man’s view opposes that of the majority he must give way to the majority and its delegate.
This is the tyranny of the majority and the false, egalitarian view of democracy and government. It was a view championed by men like Jean Jacques Rousseau, one of the "fathers" of the Enlightenment and, willy nilly, of the French Revolution that followed it.
Under this view the majority's delegate could order a man to kill his own mother and he would have to obey since morality under such a view is that of the majority and its delegate.
This is precisely what Communism and extreme Socialism require of men.
Moreover, although it looks like an hierarchical creed, Nazism is little different. The "Fuhrer" or "Leader" is meant to be the delegate of the majority once again, the chief difference being that the majority excludes supposedly "sub-human" persons who are said not to be of the master race.
Where there is no true hierarchy there can be no true humanity.
When there is hierarchy and its recognition, then any single individual man can appeal over the head of his immediate superior to a higher superior and, ultimately, to the highest superior of all, God.
Thus if a genuine superior, or master, orders something that is immoral then the servant can look beyond him to a higher superior e.g. the law or the Constitution or international law and if these, in turn, still require him to follow an evil order then he can look to the Natural Law and Divine Law ordained by the highest superior, God.
A military analogy may assist: if a Captain tells a Corporal to shoot a civilian in cold blood then the Corporal can appeal to the Colonel who is higher in rank. If that fails he can appeal to the Geneva Convention and national and international law. If that fails then he can appeal to the Natural Law and God which are both higher than any human law or authority.
This is not disobedience, as some silly people say, but rather it is to obey the higher law, that of God, in preference to the lower law, that of man.
This is how hierarchy works. Even if the Pope himself were to give an unlawful or immoral order, one can appeal over his head to the law of God.
Moreover, the law of God is written in the heart of man so every man has immediate access to it in the form of his own conscience. But conscience is of no use to the strict egalitarian since one man's conscience, to him, is of no greater consequence than that of any other man and so we must again turn to majorities to decide whose "conscience" shall prevail.
Thirdly, an hierarchy of authority reflects the hierarchy of God and heaven.
Those who think that everyone is equal in heaven are simply wrong. As Scripture says:
"the first shall be last and the last, first"
[Matt 19:30, 20:16; Mark 9:34, 10:31; Luke 13:30]
There is undoubtedly an hierarchy in heaven with God at the supreme height, our Lady next, then St John the Baptist, St Joseph and the Apostles. Below that are ranked the saints in order of their sanctity with no accounting for any worldly honour but only for holiness which in turn means service to others. For, as Scripture says:
"[He] emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names."
This is the very example of God who, despite being the Supreme Being and Creator of the Universe, humbled Himself to serve all men, even unto death upon a cross.
Egalitarian atheists like the British-born, American journalist, Christopher Hitchens, detest hierarchy because they detest God being at the apex of it. They want to be at the apex themselves. Such a man hates the idea of a servant-king-God and prefers the idea of a selfish-man-god, namely himself. Thus everything becomes referable solely to self - but only to his own self. There is then no more morality but that which the self wishes.
But what happens when one self clashes with another self? Whose morality is to prevail?
Either it is the majority, as I have said above, or else it is whichever self can prevail over the other self - whether by force or cunning. In short, it is the law of the jungle. But atheists like Hitchens are prepared to risk this because they consider that they can prevail over others and so occupy the apex at the top of the tree.
This view is little different from Nazism and Communism under which creeds there is no real morality beyond that of whomever is in charge.
Worse still is the self-worship of those who, living in a society that has not yet become completely corrupted by the totalitarianism of relativism, nevertheless consider their own will the final arbiter of all morality and so claim the right (at least to themselves) to prevail over all others.
Hypocritically, they do this whilst benefiting from a society where there are still many people who do not take such a selfish view of morality.
Such people are the true enemies of society and are its true subversives. To such a man there is only one God, namely himself.
Hitchens is one such. And he has shown himself such in his own life, deserting his pregnant wife to run off with another, ratting on his own best friend, Sydney Blumenthal, and writing a book entitled "God is not great". This latter shows that he is not really an atheist but rather he wishes to replace the real God with the god of his own ego. A true atheist would simply not be so hot and bothered about a God in whom he did not believe.
Hitchens thinks God is a totalitarian tyrant and that heaven is a prison camp. The reverse is true. God is the ultimate liberal (in the good sense) and lets every man have his own free will and choose his own path - even if it is to Hell which is the real prison, the prison of the selfish ego.
Heaven is the place for those who wish to serve others and do so freely, recognising that to serve others feely and willingly is the greatest freedom of all since man is a social being for whom there is no freedom without his interacting with other beings. A man without society is like a man confined to a solitary cell in prison, the very worst form of deprivation of freedom.
But Hitchens cannot see that. He prefers to serve himself and not others. He is thus like his real master, Satan, who is, indeed, the very embodiment of the totalitarian tyrant, ruling Hell like the very acme of a totalitarian prison camp of the most unimaginably awful kind. For in Hell all wills and egos are in constant clash, no man can live in charity with his neighbour and, ultimately, the will of the one with the biggest ego - Satan - prevails.
This is what awaits poor Mr Hitchens unless he has a change of heart. So let us pray for him.
A good man and a good ruler recognises that there is always Someone greater than himself to Whom he must later render account. Such a leader will seek to serve others and to be a servant to others and he will always treat those who serve him with great love and respect.
The best leaders will seek to emulate Christ who, though the Supreme Being and the Creator of the entire Universe, nevertheless made Himself the servant of all others, even unto death.
One such modern leader was the Blessed Emperor Charles I of Austria-Hungary, the last of the great line of Catholic Habsburg emperors.
Fine examples of the mutual community and hierarchy which concurrently exist both in heaven and on earth can be seen in Catholic art.
One such is the painting by El Greco called "The Burial of Count Orgaz". In it is one sees both the court of heaven arrayed in hierarchy and the court of the Kingdom of Spain arrayed in hierarchy - but all are meant to serve each other and are doing so as they bury the Count. Here it is depicted below: