Wednesday 24 December 2008

Holy Night...

O most Holy Night...

...all the earth being at peace...

Anton Raphael Mengs. Adoration of the Shepherds.

"And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room in the Inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an Angel of the Lord stood by them and the brightness of God shone round about them, and they feared with a great fear. And the Angel said to them 'Fear not; for behold I bring you tidings of great joy that shall be to all people. For this day is born to you a Saviour who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you: you shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger'. And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.' "

[Luke 2:4-14]
[The Gospel of the Nativity of Our Lord, the first Mass of Christmas at midnight]

The Eighth Day before the Calends of January, being

In the 5199th year of the creation of the world, from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the 2957th year after the flood;

the 2015th year from the birth of Abraham;

the 1510th year from Moses, and the giving forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;

the 1032nd year from the anointing of King David;

in the 65th week according to the prophesy of Daniel;

in the 194th Olympiad;

the 752nd year from the foundation of the City of Rome;

the 42nd year of the rule of Octavian Augustus,

all the earth being at peace,


the eternal God,
and Son of the eternal Father,
desirous to sanctify the world by His most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
nine months after His conception
was born in Bethlehem of Judaea,


[From the Martyrology of Christmas Day
sung at the old Office of Prime in Cathedral Chapters and Monasteries of the Latin rite of the Roman Catholic Church, to an ancient chant by a dignitary in Choir recalling the Septuagint chronology. All others in Choir remain standing throughout until the lector comes to the word "Bethlehem" at which all bend the knee unto the ending.]

O Emmanuel,
Rex noster et legifer noster, expectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.

O Emmanuel,
our King and Lawgiver, the desire of the nations and the Saviour thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God.

[Isaias 7:14,33,22]
[The 7th of the Great 'O Antiphons' of Advent, sung at Vespers in the Roman rite for the last 7 days of Advent]

Puer natus est nobis,
et filius datus est nobis, cujus imperium super humerum ejus et vocabitur nomen ejus, magni consilii Angelus.

Unto us a child is born,
a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder and His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor"

[Isaias 9:6]
[Introit of the third Mass of Christmas, during the daytime]

Happy Christmas to all!


Tuesday 23 December 2008

St Thomas teaches that "those who throw contempt on the customs of the Church ought to be punished as those who disobey the law of God."

St Thomas Aquinas

that those who throw contempt on the customs of the Church ought to be "punished as those who disobey the law of God"

...and yet we see how the liturgical laws and traditions of the Church have been radically altered and many now throw contempt on such traditions

St Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica.

Prima Secundae. Question 97.
"On change in laws

Article 2.
"Whether human law should always be changed, whenever something better occurs?"

Objection 1. It would seem that human law should be changed, whenever something better occurs. Because human laws are devised by human reason, like other arts. But in the other arts, the tenets of former times give place to others, if something better occurs. Therefore the same should apply to human laws.

Objection 2. Further, by taking note of the past we can provide for the future. Now unless human laws had been changed when it was found possible to improve them, considerable inconvenience would have ensued; because the laws of old were crude in many points. Therefore it seems that laws should be changed, whenever anything better occurs to be enacted.

Objection 3. Further, human laws are enacted about single acts of man. But we cannot acquire perfect knowledge in singular matters, except by experience, which "requires time," as stated in Ethic. ii. Therefore it seems that as time goes on it is possible for something better to occur for legislation.

On the contrary, It is stated in the Decretals (Dist. xii, 5): "It is absurd, and a detestable shame, that we should suffer those traditions to be changed which we have received from the fathers of old."

I answer that, As stated above (Article 1), human law is rightly changed, in so far as such change is conducive to the common weal. But, to a certain extent, the mere change of law is of itself prejudicial to the common good: because custom avails much for the observance of laws, seeing that what is done contrary to general custom, even in slight matters, is looked upon as grave. Consequently, when a law is changed, the binding power of the law is diminished, in so far as custom is abolished. Wherefore human law should never be changed, unless, in some way or other, the common weal be compensated according to the extent of the harm done in this respect. Such compensation may arise either from some very great and every evident benefit conferred by the new enactment; or from the extreme urgency of the case, due to the fact that either the existing law is clearly unjust, or its observance extremely harmful. Wherefore the jurist says [Pandect. Justin. lib. i, ff., tit. 4, "De Constit. Princip."] that "in establishing new laws, there should be evidence of the benefit to be derived, before departing from a law which has long been considered just."

Reply to Objection 1. Rules of art derive their force from reason alone: and therefore whenever something better occurs, the rule followed hitherto should be changed. But "laws derive very great force from custom," as the Philosopher states (Polit. ii, 5): consequently they should not be quickly changed.

Reply to Objection 2. This argument proves that laws ought to be changed: not in view of any improvement, but for the sake of a great benefit or in a case of great urgency, as stated above. This answer applies also to the Third Objection.

Article 3. "Whether custom can obtain force of law?"

Objection 1. It would seem that custom cannot obtain force of law, nor abolish a law. Because human law is derived from the natural law and from the Divine law, as stated above (93, 3; 95, 2). But human custom cannot change either the law of nature or the Divine law. Therefore neither can it change human law.

Objection 2. Further, many evils cannot make one good. But he who first acted against the law, did evil. Therefore by multiplying such acts, nothing good is the result. Now a law is something good; since it is a rule of human acts. Therefore law is not abolished by custom, so that the mere custom should obtain force of law.

Objection 3. Further, the framing of laws belongs to those public men whose business it is to govern the community; wherefore private individuals cannot make laws. But custom grows by the acts of private individuals. Therefore custom cannot obtain force of law, so as to abolish the law.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Ep. ad Casulan. xxxvi): "The customs of God's people and the institutions of our ancestors are to be considered as laws. And those who throw contempt on the customs of the Church ought to be punished as those who disobey the law of God."

I answer that, All law proceeds from the reason and will of the lawgiver; the Divine and natural laws from the reasonable will of God; the human law from the will of man, regulated by reason. Now just as human reason and will, in practical matters, may be made manifest by speech, so may they be made known by deeds: since seemingly a man chooses as good that which he carries into execution. But it is evident that by human speech, law can be both changed and expounded, in so far as it manifests the interior movement and thought of human reason. Wherefore by actions also, especially if they be repeated, so as to make a custom, law can be changed and expounded; and also something can be established which obtains force of law, in so far as by repeated external actions, the inward movement of the will, and concepts of reason are most effectually declared; for when a thing is done again and again, it seems to proceed from a deliberate judgment of reason. Accordingly, custom has the force of a law, abolishes law, and is the interpreter of law.

Reply to Objection 1. The natural and Divine laws proceed from the Divine will, as stated above. Wherefore they cannot be changed by a custom proceeding from the will of man, but only by Divine authority. Hence it is that no custom can prevail over the Divine or natural laws: for Isidore says (Synon. ii, 16): "Let custom yield to authority: evil customs should be eradicated by law and reason."

Reply to Objection 2. As stated above (Question 96, Article 6), human laws fail in some cases: wherefore it is possible sometimes to act beside the law; namely, in a case where the law fails; yet the act will not be evil. And when such cases are multiplied, by reason of some change in man, then custom shows that the law is no longer useful: just as it might be declared by the verbal promulgation of a law to the contrary. If, however, the same reason remains, for which the law was useful hitherto, then it is not the custom that prevails against the law, but the law that overcomes the custom: unless perhaps the sole reason for the law seeming useless, be that it is not "possible according to the custom of the country" [95, 3], which has been stated to be one of the conditions of law. For it is not easy to set aside the custom of a whole people.

Reply to Objection 3. The people among whom a custom is introduced may be of two conditions. For if they are free, and able to make their own laws, the consent of the whole people expressed by a custom counts far more in favour of a particular observance, that does the authority of the sovereign, who has not the power to frame laws, except as representing the people. Wherefore although each individual cannot make laws, yet the whole people can. If however the people have not the free power to make their own laws, or to abolish a law made by a higher authority; nevertheless with such a people a prevailing custom obtains force of law, in so far as it is tolerated by those to whom it belongs to make laws for that people: because by the very fact that they tolerate it they seem to approve of that which is introduced by custom.

St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!


The German martyrs falsely accused before the odious Nazi People' s Court - newly discovered film footage

In this extraordinary newly discovered and release footage, one can see Ambassador Ulrich von Hassell, Major Ludwig Freiherr (Baron) von Leonrod and Rev Hermann Wehrle before the People's Court, their eloquent defences and their ill treatment at the hands of the odious Court President, Roland Freisler.

Freisler acts as both prosecutor and judge in a blatant breach of elementary natural justice and then, with all the venom he can muster, he screeches and screams at the victims earning himself the clandestine sobriquet "raving Roland". He ensured that his victims, the false accused, were further humiliated by having them dressed in old ragged clothes, often without any belt to keep their trousers up, so that they appeared before this Nazi kangaroo court looking shabby, scruffy and humiliated, particularly those who had been generals or high officials.

In these clips he finds Major Baron von Leonrod and his Father-Confessor, Fr Wehrle, guilty of knowing of the 20 July 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler, and of following Catholic theology in considering themselves not bound to reveal their knowledge (clearly because of Hitler's tyranny).

He then condemns them to death, to be hanged by wire, suspended from meat hooks, in the cells of Ploetzensee prison as "enemies of the Reich" but, in reality and in the eyes of God, as deeply heroic Christian martyrs.

We salute their courage in standing firm before the odious treachery, heathen villainy and pagan devilishness of the National Socialist German Worker's Party and its atrocious, diabolical leadership who, with their symbol of a cross with arms broken, the satanic swastika, declared war on the old, royal, noble and Catholic Germany of men like Count Claus von Stauffenberg, Baron Ludwig von Leonrod and Fathers Delp and Wehrle.

In so doing these National Socialists grossly besmirched and blackened the good name of Germany and the German people in the eyes of the world and poured filth upon the ancient history and heritage of a nation and people who, for many past centuries, had formed the political heart and centre of a once Christian Europe now banished by the evil of a modern, secularist, anti-Christian, neo-pagan, National Socialism.

Hail Christian martyrs of Catholic Bavaria
and of the old, once Christian, Germany!

Freisler, who had been a Communist in his youth, had been sent to the Soviet Union to learn how they conducted their show trials of dissidents. He learned his evil trade well at the hands of the equally brutal Soviet prosecutors and judges.

Freisler himself was killed in a bombing raid not long after the 20 July plot trials when the court building was struck by a direct hit. He was found with a file in his hands about to persecute yet another victim of the "People's Court".

His victims are now commemorated in modern Germany as national heroes.

RIP. May they rest in peace!

May we draw strength from their courageous stand against evil. Consider what a singular honour it will be to spend eternity in heaven with men such as these. Are we worthy of the company of these gentle giants?

God give us the strength to learn from them and live as they did!

Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs and of Sorrows,
pray for us and for them!


Saturday 20 December 2008

What does a martyr look like? These men gave testimony of faith in the modern world...

Colonel Claus Philipp Maria Schenk Count von Stauffenberg (15 November 1907–21 July 1944), pictured left, was a German cavalry officer and Roman Catholic aristocrat who was one of the leading officers of the 20 July plot of 1944 attempting to assassinate Adolf Hitler and remove the Nazi Party from power in World War II Germany.

Stauffenberg was the third of three sons of Alfred Schenk Count von Stauffenberg, the last Oberhofmarschall of the Kingdom of Württemberg, and Caroline Schenk Countess von Stauffenberg, née Countess von Üxküll-Gyllenband.

Claus was born in the Stauffenberg castle of Jettingen between Ulm and Augsburg, in the eastern part of Swabia, at that time in the Kingdom of Bavaria. The von Stauffenberg family is one of the old and distinguished aristocratic Roman Catholic families of southern Germany.

In 1926, he joined the family's traditional regiment, the 17th Bavarian Cavalry Regiment (the Bamberger Riders) in Bamberg.

Stauffenberg found some aspects of the Nazi Party's ideology repugnant; and he remained a practicing Catholic. On top of this, the growing systematic ill-treatment of Jews and suppression of religion had offended Stauffenberg's strong personal sense of religious morality and justice. While his uncle, Nikolaus Count von Üxküll, had approached him before to join the resistance movement against the Hitler regime, it was only after the Polish campaign in 1939 that Stauffenberg's individual conscience and his religious convictions made him consider joining.

In 1943, Stauffenberg was promoted to Oberstleutnant-iG (lieutenant-colonel on the general staff) and was wounded serving in North Africa, losing his left eye, right hand, and the fourth and fifth fingers of his left hand.

He was later posted to Army HQ in Bendlerstrasse and one of his superiors was General Friedrich Olbricht, a committed member of the resistance movement. Stauffenberg was now fully committed to the resistance himself.

From the beginning of September 1943 until 21 July 1944, Claus von Stauffenberg was the driving force behind the plot. His resolve, his organizational abilities, and his radical approach put an end to inactivity caused by doubts.

On 20 July 1944 he planted a bomb in the conference room in which Hitler was attending a military conference. The bomb went off but did not kill Hitler who was protected by a heavy oak table. If, as was expected, the conference had been held in the bunker of his Wolfshanze (Wolf’s Lair), Hitler could not have survived. But he did and Goebbels quickly restored control.

The conspirators were tracked to their Bendlerstrasse offices and were overpowered after a brief shoot-out, during which Stauffenberg was shot in the shoulder.

In a futile attempt to save his own life, the co-conspirator Colonel-General Friedrich Fromm, Commander-in-Chief of the Replacement Army, present in Bendlerstrasse, to save himself charged the other conspirators, held an impromptu court martial, and condemned the ringleaders of the conspiracy to death. They were shot that night (21 July 1944) by a makeshift firing squad in the courtyard of the Bendlerblock, which was lit by the headlights of a truck.

As his turn came, Stauffenberg spoke his last words: "Es lebe unser heiliges Deutschland!" ("Long live our holy Germany!").

Fr Alfred Delp SJ
before the Nazi People's Court
martyred for the Faith in 1945

Rev Alfred Delp, SJ
(15 September 1907 – 2 February 1945 ) was a German Jesuit priest born in Mannheim, Germany, to a Catholic mother and a Protestant father.

After matriculation – in which he came out top of his class – he joined the Society of Jesus in 1926.

He was later appointed rector of the St Georg Church, part of the Heilig-Blut (Holy Blood) Parish in the Bogenhausen neighbourhood in Munich. He preached both at Heilig-Blut and at St Georg, and also secretly helped Jews who were escaping to Switzerland through the underground.

Outspoken opposition to the Nazis by individual Jesuits resulted in harsh response from government officials, including imprisonment of priests in concentration camps. The government takeover of church property, the so-called "Klostersturm", resulted in the loss of valuable properties and limited the work of the Jesuits in Germany.

It was Augustin Rösch who introduced Delp to the Kreisau Circle. As of 1942, Delp met regularly with the clandestine group around Helmuth James Count von Moltke to develop a model for a new social order after the Third Reich came to an end. Delp's role was to explain Catholic social teaching to the group, and to arrange contacts between Moltke and Catholic leaders, including Archbishop (later Cardinal) Preysing of Berlin.

After the July 20 plot to assassinate Hitler failed, a special Gestapo commission arrested and interrogated all known members of the Resistance. Delp was arrested in Munich on 28 July 1944 (eight days after Claus von Stauffenberg's attempt on Hitler's life), although he was not directly involved in the plot. He was transferred to Tegel Prison in Berlin. While in prison, he secretly began to say Mass and wrote letters.

On 8 December 1944, Delp received a visitor, Franz von Tattenbach SJ, and made his final vows to the Jesuit Order.

He was tried, together with Count von Moltke, Franz Sperr, and Eugen Gerstenmaier, before the Volksgericht (the Nazi People's Court), the odious monster, Court President Roland Freisler, presiding. All were sentenced to death by hanging for high treason.

While he was in prison, the Gestapo offered Delp his freedom in return for his leaving the Jesuits, but he rejected it. Of all prisoners, only Delp had to wear chains and leg irons up to his execution. The sentence was carried out on 2 February 1945 at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.

As with many of those tried, his body was cremated and his ashes strewn over manure fields.

Ambassador Ulrich von Hassell
before the Nazi People's Court
martyred 1944.

Ambassador Ulrich von Hassell (12 November 1881–8 September 1944) was a German nobleman and diplomat during World War II.

A member of the German Resistance against Hitler, Hassell was executed in the aftermath of the failed 20 July plot to assassinate Der Fuehrer, spearheaded by Colonel Count von Stauffenberg.

Hassell was born in Anklam, Pomerania, the son of an Army officer from a Protestant family. Hassell, between 1899 and 1903, studied law and economics at the University of Lausanne, the University of Tübingen and in Berlin. He was active in the Corps Suevia Tübingen (a Student society). He began in 1909 to work as a graduate civil servant (Assessor) in the Foreign Office.

In 1911, Hassell married Ilse von Tirpitz, the daughter of Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz. The couple had four children. In 1911, he was named Vice-Consul in Genoa.

In the First World War, Hassell was wounded in the chest in the First Battle of the Marne on 8 September 1914. Later in the war, he worked as Alfred von Tirpitz's advisor and private secretary. He also later wrote his father-in-law's biography.

After the war ended in 1918, Hassell returned to the Foreign Office and worked until the early 1930s in Rome, Barcelona, Copenhagen, and Belgrade. In 1932, Hassell was made Germany's ambassador to the Kingdom of Italy.

In 1933, Hassell favoured Western-Christian unity in Europe rather than the Nazi-Soviet pact. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Hassell took part in plans to overthrow Hitler.

Hassell's main function was to be a liaison between the conservative opposition groups centred around Carl Friedrich Goerdeler and Ludwig Beck and the younger Kreisau Circle. After 1943, he took a background role and played no part in the plot to kill Hitler.

Nevertheless, on 29 July 1944, Hassell was arrested by the Gestapo for his involvement in the July plot, something that he had foreseen. On 8 September, after a two-day trial at the People's Court, over which presided the monstrous Court President Roland Freisler, he was sentenced to death. He was executed the very same day at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.

Dr Hermann Josef Wehrle
curate at Holy Blood Church, Munich,
martyred for the Faith in 1944

Rev Hermann Josef Wehrle
(26 July 1899-14 September 1944) was a Catholic priest who was also tried by the People's Court and executed..

Born in Nuremberg, in his early childhood his family moved to Frankfurt, which was still an independent city and regional seat at that time. There he grew up and went to the school. In the First World War, from 1917, he took part in the war but thereafter studied Catholic theology in Fulda, finishing his studies in 1922.

He studied philosophy and history in Frankfurt, and attained a doctorate in 1928. In 1942 he was ordained a priest and was appointed curate at Munich/Bogenhausen.

On 13 December 1943 Wehrle was asked by cavalry Major Ludwig Baron von Leonrod, in a private spiritual conference effectively under the seal of the confessional, whether it was a sin to know about an assassination attempt plan and not to reveal it. Wehrle answered this question in the negative after consulting the Encyclopaedia of Theology and the Church on the issue of the assassination of tyrants.

On 18 August 1944 Wehrle was arrested on the accusation of having knowledge of the 20 July assassination plot against Hitler’s life and was brought before the People's Court under its odious Court President, the brutal monster Roland Freisler. Despite his intelligent and well-argued defence, calmly, courageously and even amusingly delivered before the court, and which showed that he had committed no crime, Fr Wehrle was nevertheless condemned to death on 14 September, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

He was hanged on the same day in the state prison of Berlin in Plötzensee, along with other victims of the terror that followed the failure of the 20 July plot.

Major Ludwig Freiherr (Baron) von Leonrod
Cavalry officer and devout Catholic aristocrat
martyred for the Faith in 1944

Major Ludwig Freiherr (Baron) von Leonrod was the oldest child of Wilhelm Baron von Leonrod and his wife Clara, born Baroness von Sazenhofen.

His father was a personal aide at the Royal Court.

After Matriculation in 1926, Ludwig Baron von Leonrod chose the career of an Army officer, following family tradition. His career began in Bamberg in the 17th Bavarian Cavalry Regiment, where he came to know Claus von Stauffenberg, a brother officer.

In 1930 he was promoted second lieutenant, in 1933 to first lieutenant and in 1937 to captain of cavalry. In 1941 whilst a major and commander of a Reconnaissance unit, he was awarded the Iron Cross. After being gravely wounded by a mine at the beginning of 1942, he was transferred to Munich to the VIIth Military District. In March 1943, he married Monika, Baroness von Twickel (born 1908).

In the autumn of 1943, von Stauffenberg sought co-conspirators from within the military districts.

He told Leonrod of his plans in December but Leonrod was opposed. He wanted to support his friend, but, for reasons of conscience, was unsure about the morality of the planned attack. A believing Catholic, he accordingly asked, on 13 December 1943, in a spiritual conference with the parish curate, Rev Dr Hermann Josef Wehrle, whether concealing his knowledge regarding the assassination attempt plan was a sin. Wehrle answered this in the negative after consulting theological works.

Leonrod played no part in the plot during its whole operational sequence.

A training posting sent him to Army HQ in Bendlerstrasse (now Stauffenbergstrasse) so that he was present on 20 July when the plot was put into execution.

In the evening he returned to his training course accommodation, but found himself arrested on the following day. On 14 August he was dishonourably discharged from the armed forces following the decision, on 2 August 1944, of a Court of Honour, so that the Reich Court Martial was no longer responsible for sentencing him.

Instead, on 21 August 1944, he was taken before the People’s Court, under the deeply odious monster, Court President Roland Freisler. After a show trial he was sentenced to death.

Judgement was carried out on 26 August in Berlin’s Plötzensee prison. On 14 September, Fr Wehrle was hanged also.

In Bamberg Cathedral a memorial tablet commemorates the memory of Major Ludwig Baron von Leonrod and the five former members of the 17th Cavalry Regiment who lost their lives in the fight against the brutal Nazi regime.

Hail Christian martyrs of Catholic Bavaria
and the old, once Christian, Germany!


Saturday 13 December 2008

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the Just One...

The Annunciation

Rorate caeli desuper et nubes pluant iustum. Aperiatur terra et germinet Salvatorem.
Drop down the dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down the Just One: let the earth be opened, and bud forth a Saviour.
Isaias 45:8

This versicle appears throughout the Offices for Advent and is yet another example of how much more Scriptural the old Roman rite of the Catholic Church is compared with the new rite of Paul VI in which, sadly, it is almost never sung. Most modern Catholics do not even know that this most beautiful Advent antiphon even exists.
The full hymn is sung thus:
Rorate caeli desuper et nubes pluant iustum.

Ne irascaris Domine, ne ultra memineris iniquitatis: ecce civitas Sancti facta est deserta, Sion deserta facta est: Ierusalem desolata est: domus sanctificationis tuac et gloriae tuae, ubi laudaverunt te patres nostri.
Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.
Peccavimus, et facti sumus tamquam immundus nos, et cecidimus quasi folium universi; et iniquitates nostrae quasi ventus abstulerunt nos: abscondisti faciem tuam a nobis, et allisisti nos in manu iniquitatis nostrae.

Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.

Vide, Domini, afflictionem populi tui, et mitte quem missurus es, emitte Agnum dominatorem terrae, de Petra deserti montem filiae Sion: ut auferat ipse iugum captivatis nostrae.

Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.

Consolamini, consolamini, popule meus: cito veniet salus tua:. quare moerore consumeris, quia innovavit te dolor? Salvabo te, noli timere: ego enim sum Dominus Deus, tuus, Sanctus Israel, Redemptor tuus.
Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.

Listen to these French monks singing the Rorate in the monastic church of their conventual home, calling upon God to forgive their sins as they await with joy, once again, the great Feast of the Birth of our Most Holy Saviour:

Drop down the dew, ye heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the Just One!

Be not angry, O Lord, and remember no longer our iniquity : behold the city of Thy sanctuary is become a desert, Sion is made a desert. Jerusalem is desolate, the house of our holiness and of Thy glory, where our fathers praised Thee.
Drop down the dew, ye heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the Just One!
We have sinned, and we are become as one unclean, and we have all fallen as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away; Thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast crushed us by the hand of our iniquity.
Drop down the dew, ye heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the Just One!
See, O Lord, the affliction of Thy people, and send Him whom Thou hast promised to send. Send forth the Lamb, the Ruler of the earth, from the rock of the desert to the mount of the daughter of Sion, that He Himself may take off the yoke of our captivity.
Drop down the dew, ye heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the Just One!
Be comforted, be comforted, my people; thy salvation shall speedily come. Why wilt thou waste away in sadness? Why hath sorrow seized thee? I will save thee; fear not: for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer.

Drop down the dew, ye heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the Just One!


With this extraordinarily beautiful hymn the prayer of the Church during Advent is lifted up to the heavens in song.
Henry Tanner. The Annunciation. 1898

Monday 8 December 2008

8 December: Yo soy la inmaculada concepción...

On the great Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary we remember the words first said to St Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes only 4 years after the decree Ineffabilis Deus, infallibly promulgating the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, was issued by Blessed Pope Pius IX.

Our Lady spoke to St Bernadette in her own Occitan patois, the language of the Languedoc region of Southern France. This was what surprised the Parish Priest - none of the ordinary Occitan-speaking people of that part of France had heard or used this glorious title because, in an unbelieving and scoffing age, this and other great titles of the Blessed Virgin had fallen into disuse.

It is a simple historical fact that the original Protestant Reformers accepted almost every major Marian doctrine and considered these doctrines to be both scriptural and fundamental to the historic Christian Faith.

Many modern Protestants object to devotion to the Virgin Mary, or at least, to such devotion as is shown in such feasts as that of the Immaculate Conception. They often seem unable to understand it.

The founders of the Protestant movement believed in the special position of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

For example, Martin Luther defended the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, now seen by most to be a specifically Roman Catholic doctrine, until his death. Like St Augustine, he believed that Mary's divine maternity necessarily implied her perpetual virginity and conception without Original Sin.

"But the other conception, namely the infusion of the soul, it is piously and suitably believed, was without any sin, so that while the soul was being infused, she would at the same time be cleansed from original sin and adorned with the gifts of God to receive the holy soul thus infused. And thus, in the very moment in which she began to live, she was without all sin..."1

John Calvin always referred to the Blessed Virgin Mary as La Sainte Vierge, the “Holy Virgin”.

He wrote of her:

“Elizabeth called Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary was at the same time the eternal God.”2

“Helvidius has shown himself too ignorant, in saying that Mary had several sons, because mention is made in some passages of the brothers of Christ.”3

Even Ulrich Zwingli, had this to say about the Blessed Virgin Mary:

“It was given to her what belongs to no creature, that in the flesh she should bring forth the Son of God.”4

"I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the Gospel, as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin.”5

Zwingli used Exodus 4:22 to defend the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity.

“I esteem immensely the Mother of God, the ever chaste, immaculate Virgin Mary.”6

“Christ ... was born of a most undefiled Virgin.”7

“It was fitting that such a holy Son should have a holy Mother.”8

“The more the honour and love of Christ increases among men, so much the esteem and honour given to Mary should grow.”9

The Protestant Reformers did not reject most of the other Marian dogmas which were then taught by the Roman Catholic Church. The simple reason for this is that they could not avoid the fact that the honour and reverence due to the Blessed Virgin is plainly evident, to any objective eye, from Scripture.

Pelikan, J (ed), The Works of Martin Luther, Concordia: St. Louis, volume 4, 694.
2 Calvin, J, Opera, Braunshweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, Volume 45, 35.
3 Leeming, Bernard, “Protestants and Our Lady”, Marian Library Studies, January 1967, p.9.
4 Zwingli, U, In Evangelii Lucae, Opera Completa, Zurich, 1828-42, Volume 6, I, 639.
5 Zwingli, U, Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Volum 1, 424.
6 Stakemeier, E, in De Mariologia et Oecumenismo, Balic, K (ed), Rome, 1962, p.456.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 Zwingli, U, Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Volume 1, 427-428.

Gaude Maria Virgo, cunctas haereses tu sola interemisti in universo mundo

Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, to thou only has it been given to destroy all heresies in the whole world

[From The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary]

Monday 1 December 2008

Solemn Requiem for David Lumsden of Cushnie

By kind permission of
His Excellency Fra’ Fredrik Crichton-Stuart,
the Grand Prior of England of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta,

Solemn Requiem Mass

will be sung

in the

Conventual Church


the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta,

the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth,
60 Grove End Road,
St John’s Wood,
London NW8 9NH




Saturday 6th December 2008

for the repose of the soul of late confrere

David Lumsden of Cushnie

erstwhile hereditary
Baron of Cushnie-Lumsden
in the Scottish Feudal Baronage

of Hamilton House, West Loan, Prestonpans,

Knight of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta,
Knight of Justice of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George,
Knight of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus,
Garioch Pursuivant to the Chief of the Name and of Arms of Mar,
Margaret, 30th Countess of Mar, 11th Duchess of Mar (in the Jacobite peerage),

born Quetta, Baluchistan, in the Empire of India, 25 May 1933
died at Glenfinnan, Loch Shiel, Scotland on 28 August 2008

Celebrant: Very Rev Canon John MacDonald
Musical Setting: Requiem of Eustache du Caurroy
Piper: Pipe Major David Waterton-Anderson KSG
Dress: Morning dress and decorations, Highland dress
or dark suit (Choir dress for Knights)

Approach from either Grove End Road, through the Hospital entrance, or Circus Road

[Nearest tube: St John’s Wood]