Monday, November 23, 2015

"Visit this place, O Lord"

St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek 391, 11.
Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in peace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

     Compline/Daily devotions at the close of day, 1979 Book of common prayer.

we beg you to visit this house
and banish from it all the deadly power of the enemy.
May your holy angels dwell here
to keep us in peace,
and may your blessing be upon us always.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

     Night prayer on Sundays and solemnities, Liturgy of the hours.

Vísita, quæsumus, Domine, habitationem istam et omnes insídias inimíci ab ea longe repelle; angeli tui sancti habitent in ea, qui nos in pace custodiant, et benedíctio tua sit super nos semper. Per Christum.

     Completorium, Post II vesperas dominicae et solemnitatum, Liturgia horarum.

     This is not, of course, present in either Bruylants or Corpus orationum, nor have I yet tried to push it back behind the "980+" given in CANTUS (e.g. St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek 391, 11 (above, initial 4 ("V")), where it is associated with the dedication of a church).
     Nikolaus Gihr (whose theological commentary may be worth a look) says of the date of composition only that "The wording shows clearly that this oration stems from a time when Compline was still prayed not in the church but in the cloister or the dormitory immediately before going to bed" (Prim und Komplet des römischen Breviers, liturgisch und aszetisch erklärt (Freiburg im Breisgau:  Herder,1907), 333).

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"reading unimportant books about the important books that I haven't had time to read"
"academic knowledge is as much a distraction from the life of the mind as an application of it."

     "In twenty years of university teaching, poring over footnotes in journals devoted to the study of footnotes, attending conferences in which small increments of knowledge are swamped by large swathes of ignorance, and reading unimportant books about the important books that I haven't had time to read, I retained a longing for the ideal of the collegiate life.  I envisaged a society of friends for whom ideas are captured from the world of real experience, and brought to the place of dialogue, there to be the source and object of our shared interest.  But I came to see that it is far easier to create this society for yourself than to find it in institutions of higher learning."

     Roger Scruton, "Living with a mind," First things no. 258 (December 2015):  45 (43-48).

Religion in the making

"Professor Whitehead. . . . has not spent as many years in America as I have, but he has been very quickly adopted into the fraternity of the American Godhead.  America is said to be 'on the make'; Professor Whitehead's religion must be 'in the making.'  Even in America, a motor-car 'in the making' is not so much prized as a motor-car which is made and will run; but apparently luxury articles like religion are more valuable 'in the making' than when they are made.  It is the hopeless belief of a person who knows that when his religion is made, it won't run; but he enjoys making it."

     T. S. Eliot on Science and the modern world (1925) and Religion in the making (1926) in "'The return of Foxy Grandpa'" (1927), as published for the very first time in New York review of books 62, no. 15 (October 8, 2015):  31 (31-32), in advance of its appearance in "volume 3 of the forthcoming eight-volume edition of The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot:  The Critical Edition," ed. Frances Dickey, Jennifer Formichelli, and Ronald Schuchard.  In response to an inquiry from Edmund Wilson as to why the essay had not appeared as promised in Wyndham Lewis' The enemy, Eliot said, "'On the whole I think I should prefer not to publish this note elsewhere.  I am not satisfied with it and if I had time I should already have revised it'" (32).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

la bouille pour les chats

     "I still recall the stupefaction with which, reading, a very long time ago now, the otherwise very estimable Gospel commentaries of the late Father [Marie-Joseph] Lagrange, I stumbled upon his explication of the 'manifold more' [('surcroît')] promised by Christ, in this world, to those who abandon [(auraient . . . abandonné)] everything for him [(Lk 18:30; cf. Mt 19:29, Mk 10:30)].  The fact is (said this very edifying [(édifiant)] and even more observant [(observants)] religious to us) that when one has pledged oneself to a great order, one finds oneself suddenly provided with all of the comforts one could ever want, without having to do anything to acquire or retain them [(presumably Évangile selon saint Luc, 7th ed., Etudes bibliques (Paris:  J. Gabalda, 1948))]. . . .  It is difficult, in the face of an avowal so simple-minded, not to think of the sarcastic reference to the lilies of the field that Gibbon directed against those he called 'the monks of Magdalen' [(Edward Gibbon, Memoirs; in Miscellaneous works of Edward Gibbon, Esquire, vol. 1 (Dublin, 1796), p. 38)], 'who neither toil nor spin. . . .'
     "But I was still naïve myself at this time.  I was only completely smartened up on this subject about twenty years [later (il y a vingt ans environ)] by my participation in a 'seminar' on 'religious poverty' in conjunction with which I had been assigned the task of setting forth the biblical doctrine on the subject, on the supposition that there was one.  I developed the idea that, according to the whole Bible, poverty 'in spirit' presupposes evidently a real [(effective)] disposition to deprive oneself of the obviously [(bien entendu)] superfluous, and even of a good part of what we all tend to consider the necessary.
     "I had hardly finished speaking when a venerable Jesuit, the most famous specialist in moral theology at that time, rose to address me:  'Father, that biblical poverty about which you have just spoken is a matter of some interest [(c’est très intéressant)], but [surely] you know that this has nothing to do with religious poverty.  [Religious poverty] is defined exhaustively by the renunciation of the ownership of what one utilizes.  According to this [understanding], whether one is in fact more or less provided with the goods that those who have not taken such a vow are able to enjoy, or not, changes nothing. . . .'
     "As if in order to prevent me from assuming that this was only a question of one of those opinions of the schools that one can, in [the context of a commitment to] Holy Church, take or leave at will, a Dominican, just as venerable and scarcely less illustrious, at once finished me off [(paracheva sur-le-champ ma déconfiture)].  'What you have just said is perfectly exact, not only from a canonical point of view, . . . but according to the most strict theology, in truth the only [theology] worthy of the name.  Indeed, the Summa theologiae establishes irrefutably that the vow of poverty, just as that of chastity or that of obedience, does more honor to God, by itself and by it alone, than the practice of that virtue when it is not consecrated by the vow [()]. . . .'
     "I can say that after this I [finally] understood that no reform of [(dans)] the Catholic Church that does not begin with a reform of this ascesis in particular, in order that it might have an impact on the ethical and theological levels as well, will ever amount to anything more than [(ne serait jamais de)] a great deal of effort for nothing [(la bouille pour les chats, the [preparation of] gruel for cats, an 18th-century expression whose significance remains somewhat obscure)].  This, at least, had the advantage of immunizing me in advance against all possible deception when the shipwreck of the greatest reform [ever] called conciliar [(la grandissime réforme dite conciliaire)] followed almost instantaneously upon its launch."

     Louis Bouyer, Religieux et clercs contre Dieu (Paris:  Aubier Montaigne, 1975), 119-121.  On those same three purifications, see also here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Blame the careless 'religious' above all

". . . There is no univocal application to God that we can make of any of the concepts that furnish us [with] our rational exploration of the world. Yet we are not for this reason reduced to silence.  For the very fact that we, [as] Christians, believe that God has spoken to us; that all, in one sense, proceeds from his Word, attests [to] a native kinship of the world, and of ourselves in particular, with him.  Yet this, which authorizes for us an analogical employment of notions drawn from the rationalization of our cosmic experience in order to speak of him as he has himself spoken of them to us, requires that the cataphasis by which we transpose onto him the givens of our experience be constantly corrected by the apophasis that refuses every literal application that we would be tempted to make of them.
     "Even this, however, is not possible without contradiction, except in virtue of a divine condescension that guides us, according to the 'analogy of faith', towards a usage of the fundamental analogy of being that entails an [(l’)] abandonment in the darkness of our whole being to the God who dwells in a light inaccessible.  This is why there is no valid theology except in faith, and [no] authentic faith except that which tends to go beyond itself into mysticism, or, more precisely, that mysticism of 'the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. . . .'
     "One cannot attain to this [(en arriver là)] without a purification of our religion that is not only intellectual, but first moral.  Hence the impossibility of an authentic religion that is only intellectual, or would like to be only such.  Yet this is what the Christian theologians, following the Jewish rabbis, have never ceased to attempt, more or less underhandedly or naively.  One does not apprehend (as one must) the truth of God, in the measure in which he has rendered it accessible to us, except by surrendering oneself to what he wishes to make of us; except by giving oneself up to his agape; except by submitting to that life which he wills to be ours.  Without this, we will never accede to that connaturality of grace for the lack of which our knowledge is unable to come to terms with [(s’accorder avec)] the meaning of his Word.
     "This supposes above all that God ceases to be for us a tribal divinity, however infinitely enlarged, for one would thus enlarge [(agrandirait)] into a monstrosity only our own deformity.  In order that we might think rightly of God, in other words, it is necessary that we learn to consent to his requirements, in place of continuing to strain to capture and exploit him for our own purposes [(dans notre proper intérêt)].
     "But this, again, implies [yet] another catharsis, more radical still.  After the intellectual purification of our theology; after the moral purification of our religion, it is necessary to procede [(en venir)] to th[at] ascetic purification for the lack of which no mysticism can remain worthy of the name.  Or, to put it more accurately, this here is the first purification that the others necessarily presuppose, [and] without which they cannot even be successfully undertaken.  It is a question of a drastic purification, not only of our representation of the world; not only of our activity in the world, but of the sources of our action as well as of our thought, on the most profound, the most intimate, the most unfathomable level of what we might call our sensibility.  Without this properly radical correction of all of our instincts, beginning with the [(notre)] imagination (in the sense that Coleridge, among others, gave to this word; and which concerns the whole prospective of our action and all possible prospection of our universe), it is perfectly vain to hope to act—or, rather, to be acted [upon]—in accordance with agape; [perfectly vain] to (with stronger reason) hope to recognize the divine signification of it [(en)].  And this is precisely why the malefactors ultimately [(premiers)] responsible for the current crisis in the Church, ahead of the irreligious priests and the unworthy theologians, are the 'religious'; i.e. the so-called witnesses to evangelical ascesis [who so] obviously [merely] counterfeit it [(devenus ses contrefacteurs patentés)]."

     Louis Bouyer, Religieux et clercs contre Dieu (Paris:  Aubier Montaigne, 1975), 99-101.  Bouyer hammers away at those same three purifications here.

"'I kn[o]w that you always hear me. . . .'"

Wikimedia Commons
"'I knew that you always hear me. . . .'"

ἐγὼ δὲ ᾔδειν ὅτι πάντοτέ μου ἀκούεις. . . .

     Jesus, just before raising Lazarus, John 11:42, NSRV.