A prayer of the ♥

O lorde Jhesu Cryste I commende my
to thy love that ytt may enter into thy
by love and spirituall delectacyon
and I beseche the good lorde to inflame
myn ardently with thy love and so
to kyndle myn with the blessyd
love of the good lorde that never
hereafter I fele inordynately
any ly joye or carnall

For each read “heart,” of course. From Robert Brygandyne’s prayer book, reign of Henry VIII. See Eamon Duffy, Marking the Hours: English People and their Prayers 1240-1570 Yale University Press, 2006), plate 105 and pages 161-162. This is a beautiful book, illustrated with and full of discussion of English prayer books, mostly late pre-Reformation ones.

Thomas Aquinas College

In a recent comment I made mention of a particularly striking curriculum that I’d seen from a small conservative Christian college, particularly in reference to a classical canon of works that are no longer fashionable. At the time I couldn’t recall the college, and couldn’t immediately find my copy of the curriculum. I have found both.

The college is Thomas Aquinas College in beautiful Santa Paula, California. Their motto? Verum. Bonum. Pulchrum. The True. The Good. The Beautiful. Read through the entire site. The college looks and sounds idyllic. Note especially this, from the About the College page:

Fundamental in the Catholic intellectual tradition is the conviction that learning means discovering and growing in the truth about reality. It is the truth that sets men free and nothing else. Since truth concerns both natural and supernatural matters, the College’s program has both natural and divine wisdom as its ultimate objectives.

There are no textbooks. The prescribed, four-year interdisciplinary course of studies is based on the original works of the best, most influential authors, poets, scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, and theologians of Western civilization. In every classroom, the primary teachers are the authors of the “Great Books” from Aristotle, Homer and Euclid to St. Thomas Aquinas, T. S. Eliot and Albert Einstein.

There are no lectures. Teaching and learning demand a meeting of the minds. The course is, therefore, essentially a sustained conversation in tutorials, seminars, and laboratories guided by tutors who assist students in the work of reading, analyzing, and evaluating the great works which are central in the collected wisdom of Civilization. Classes are Socratic in method and do not exceed twenty students. Every student has daily practice in the arts of language, grammar, and rhetoric; in reading and critical analysis of texts; in mathematical demonstration; in laboratory investigation.

There are no majors, no minors, no electives, no specializations. The arts and sciences which comprise the curriculum are organized into a comprehensive whole. The College aims at providing its students with a thorough grounding in the arts of thinking and a broad and integrated vision of the whole of life and learning.

Such a doldrum-shattering, revolutionary approach is so succinctly summarized! The edu(c)rats should tremble at the dawning of such a star! What major university could even attempt to compare with the program of this little college? They are much too far gone down another road, as I see all around me every day. They’re nothing but overgrown high schools, these days.

And so, at long last, feast your eyes, widened in wonder, on their four year curriculum, a reading list of Great Books that will make these young ladies and young gentlemen the envy of all truly well-read people. It is simply stunning, to be honest. I am flummoxed, completely incapable of describing how great a list of books this is, or of emphasizing the benefit to be had of such a curriculum in such a company and within the bounds of such a tradition. I leave you, dear reader, to ponder the benefits yourself! This curriculum is, however incapable I am of singing its paeans, precisely an example of that recent revival of interest in the canons of yesteryear, the recognition of the value of classic works in various fields, whether foundational or exemplary. One learns best from the best.

The college is not only exemplary of an older tradition of education, but of specifically a traditional Roman Catholic one. By this I mean not just an older form of traditional education which happens to be Catholic, which education in most places long since been subsumed into public shooling’s mediocrity, but a more traditional expression of Catholicism and the concommittant education which is appropriate to that expression. There are a number of vocations from this school, of both priesthood and religious, and there’s a magnificently traditional chapel under construction, which will undoubtedly resound to the quiet splendor of a traditional Latin mass in the Extraordinary Form soon after its consecration. President Thomas Dillon and all the faculty, staff, students and families who have made Thomas Aquinas College what it is deserve our thanks for pointing out that there’s another way out of the mess that education is in. A way that some so dismissively call backwards has proven to be a vividly successful way forward. We can, it seems, rest assured that a book on Felt Banner Construction will not be making it onto the curriculum at Thomas Aquinas College

The true, the good, the beautiful indeed.

La Berceuse des Saints

Thou, flood of light, poured into a manger!
Thou, hope and promise!
Tottering from the shadows to the sky.
Thou, eternal dream of the universe!
Thou, song of heaven’s blessing!
Sleep, sleep, O springtime of salvation!
Thy star lightens the horizon,
And burns away the darkness of ignorance.
By Thy coming redemption is enkindled
With love and light,
And the world recovers its existence.

Sœur Marie Keyrouz OSB, from her Cantiques de l’Orient, 1996.
English translation of Arabic lyrics

The Night Friends of Christ

The body of the Saviour hung limp upon the Cross—anybody’s property, but it belonged to the mother especially. No one in all the world, except Mary, could pronounce His words at the Last Supper as she could, though she was not a priestess. Since no one but the Blessed Mother had given Him body and blood, the Holy Spirit overshadowing, only she could say: ‘This is my body; this is my blood.’ She alone gave Him that by which He redeemed; she alone made Him possible; she alone made Him the new Adam. There was no human counterpart; on the Spirit of Love.

Mary claimed Him as her own through the services of two rich men. One was Nicodemus, the secret disciple who made his appearances at night. Nicodemus was a doctor of the law and was looked upon as a master in Israel. From the very beginning, he knew that Our Saviour was a teacher come from heaven, yet in order to preserve his authority and not expose himself to the hatred of his countrymen, he always showed up in darkness. The other, Joseph of Arimathea, gave Him the new tomb. The latter had gone to Pilate to ask him for the Body of Our Lord, and Pilate committed It to him. The wealth, rank, and position of these men was noteworthy; one heard the Crucified One tell about His being ‘lifted up’; the other came from the land of mourning, the site of Rachel’s tomb. Isaias, centuries before, had foretold that Our Lord would be ‘rich in death’; He is now given over to the rich man, Joseph of Arimathea.

These two men with a few devout followers prepared to take Our Lord down, to unfasten the nails and take off the crown of thorns. Bending over the figure on which the Blood was hardened, only the eyes of faith could see the marks of royalty there. But with the love that broke through all bounds of calculation, these two latecomers and hidden disciples tried to show their loyalty. It is likely that when the dead Christ was taken down from the Cross, He was laid in the arms of His Blessed Mother. To a mother no child ever grows up. It must have seemed for the moment that Bethlehem had come back again, for He was a Babe in her embrace. But all had changed. He was no longer white as He came from the Father; He was red as He came from the hands of men.

Nicodemus and Joseph anointed the Body with a hundred pounds of myrrh and spices and wound it about with pure linen. The elaborate embalming rather suggested that these secret disciples, as the Apostles themselves, were not expecting the Resurrection. Physically, they were mindful of Him; spiritually, the knew not yet Who He was. Their concern about His burial was a token of their love for Him, not of their faith in Him as the Resurrection and Life.

In the same quarter where he was crucified
      There was a garden            John19:41

The word ‘garden’ hinted at Eden and the fall of man, as it also suggested through its flowers in the springtime the Resurrection from the dead. In that garden was a tomb in which ‘no man had ever been buried’. Born of a virgin womb, He was buried in a virgin tomb, and as Crenshaw said: ‘And a Joseph did betroth them both’. Nothing seems more repelling than to have a Crucifixion in a garden, and yet there would be compensation, for the garden would have its Resurrection. Born in a stranger’s cave, buried in a stranger’s grave, both human birth and death were strangers to His Divinity. Stranger’s grave too, because since sin was foreign to Him, so too was death. Dying for others, He was placed in another’s grave. His grave was borrowed, for He would give it back on Easter, as He gave back the beast that He rode on Palm Sunday, and the Upper Room which He used for the Last Supper. Burying is only a planting. Paul would later on draw from the fact that He was buried in a garden the law that if we are planted in the likeness of His death, we shall rise with Him in the glory of His Resurrection.

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, chapter 53 of Life of Christ

Happy Western Easter!

The Litany of Humility

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase, and I may decrease,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val.

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val

Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930) was apparently accustomed to recite this prayer daily after his celebration of Mass. He was also a composer, and is even mentioned in Henry Morton Robinson’s famous (or, at least it used to be, among Roman Catholics) fictional book The Cardinal. I found this extraordinary litany in the beautifully produced little Latin-English Roman Catholic Daily Missal produced by Angelus Press, based upon the 1962 Missale Romanum. These missals have become quite popular again, with Pope Benedict XVI having derestricted celebration of the Tridentine Latin Mass. The above litany is a fine example of the kind of apatheia (dispassion, or better, the mastery of one’s passions) that is often found so strikingly in the Desert Fathers, and among many others of the ancient Church Fathers and the lives of Saints, and which is still emphasized in Eastern Orthodox asceticism. In the modern world, it seems foolish, or at the very least counterproductive, to pray for such things. But such is the grand ship of the Church, whose mooring is in another world, that of the eternal Kingdom of God.

Loue al therfore, pray for al

I’ve just finished a first draft of an updating of the Preface to the original publication of the Douay-Rheims Old Testament of 1609. It’s much shorter than the Preface for the New Testament which I posted yesterday, but it’s still interesting.

Eventually, I plan to get the page numbers in and notes showing which of the original words I’ve replaced with others. It’s a work in progress.

I think this Preface is quite a bit more moving in some parts than the other. The faith of the authors is much clearer, and is much more to the forefront than in the New Testament Preface which focused so much more on academic matters of textual criticism and so on. Lest we forget, at the time this Preface was being written, people were dying for their faith. More specifically, they were being killed for their faith. Christians were warring with Christians, specifically as Christians, and Europe was a wreck. Many people are familiar with the perspective of the Reformers. This Preface and the New Testament Preface show us the other side of the coin.

For it is truth that vve seeke for, and Gods honour

In response to the flurry of English translations and New Testament textual criticism in a recently Protestantized late sixteenth century Europe, a certain group of very well-educated English-speaking Roman Catholics, sadly in exile from their home country for the sake of their religion, produced a translation into English of the Latin Vulgate, relatively recently proclaimed at the Council of Trent as the authoritative Latin Bible, essentially the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church. The New Testament was published at Rheims in 1582, and the Old Testament at Douai in 1610, “By Lavrence Kellam, at the signe of the holie Lambe.”

Most people are familiar with this Bible in the form it took under the capable hand of Bishop Challoner in the late eighteenth century, or even the last revision of it as the Confraternity Bible of the mid-twentieth century. Typically, however, reprints of these versions do not include the original prefaces of the translators, just as they don’t include the extensive and numerous notes. The sixteenth century English orthography, wild spelling, peculiar punctuation, and rambling syntax all combine to make the original almost entirely unreadable these days, removing this extremely important piece of English Catholic history from accessibility.

I’ve just edited the preface to make it more easily readable. It’s now roughly at the level of late eighteenth century English, which people are familiar enough with through standard editions of Shakespeare and the King James Bible (the editions of both of which with which most are familiar were established in that time period). So, basically, there are some thees and thous and, yea, some odd sentence that passeth, but it’s now a good site better than the original, let me tell you.

Lo, a link to said Preface, if you’re interested. I intend to reformat the page later, but the text is done. Reading it, I think you’ll be surprised, as I was, at the depth of knowledge on the side of these Catholics regarding textual criticism and the value of the Vulgate for such. Their interaction with the Protestants (“The Adversaries”) is fascinating. It’s really a remarkable document, and should be more widely known. So here it is, and hopefully it will be. Enjoy!