Friday, January 8, 2016


The Pharisee and the Publican (5th/6th century),
Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna.
     "As a matter of fact, several of the participants at Trent seem to have been willing to serve as the minor for Gregory's syllogism. . . ."  "Bernard Costacciario ([Concilium Tridentium] V 552, 30-48), Nicholas Taborel ([CT V] 630, 19-40), and Ludovicus Vitriarius ([CT V] 569-470) all expressed a willingness to be judged on the basis of their works."

     James F. McCue, "Double justification at the Council of Trent:  piety and theology in sixteenth-century Roman Catholicism," in Piety, politics, and ethics: Reformation studies in honor of George Wolfgang Forell, Sixteenth century essays and studies, ed. Carter Lindberg (Kirksville, MO: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 1984), 52 and 52n21 (39-53), on the speech of Gregory of Padua at Trent:  "As a matter of fact, several of the participants at Trent seem to have been willing to serve as the minor for Gregory's syllogism, but most of the opposition ignored the reference to practice and to liturgy and focused instead on the theoretical ramifications and inadequacies of the doctrine of double justification" (52-53).  "the minor for Gregory's syllogism"?  Here's Gregory of Padua, speaking at Trent in 1546:
One who has been justified by God's mercy through Jesus Christ, if he or she does good works relying on these same helps, fulfills the law, and perseveressuch a one is indeed just and merits heaven itself, blessedness, and God.  But there is a problem in finding a minor for our syllogism:  how shall we find someone who will say 'I am that one; ergo by right heaven is owed me.'  Who, speaking about himself, will provide the minor and say 'I am the very one?'  Who knows that he or she has done all that God has commanded, even down to circumstantial detail (cum debitis circumstantiis)[?]  Who is sure of his or her own works when everyone agrees that the justified do not know (regularly; there may be exceptions) that they are in grace[?]  Who will say, 'All that you have commanded Lord I have done from my youth, what more is wanting to me?'  This judgment, esteemed Fathers, is difficult and is not to be sought from us, who fall daily.  It is to be sought from the saints.  But I do not think that any of them, if they came back to us, would say:  'I'll provide the minor; I am that just one!'  And I accept all the testimonies of the saints adduced to this effect (and I do not think that they were deceived, Fathersnec decepi credo Patres) in which they accused themselves and said that they were unclean and unjust [(CT V, 580, 1-15)].

Monday, January 4, 2016

"I live in a hole here, but God has a beautiful mansion for me elsewhere."

The Blake Archive
     "It has to be remembered that Blake was almost completely forgotten at the time of his death in a tiny two-room apartment in Fountain Court, a narrow alley off the Strand in London, in 1827.  He had sold less than thirty copies of the Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1794).  Of the great illuminated Prophetic Books, The French Revolution (1791) had never been published for fear of prosecution, only four copies of Milton (1804/1810) were printed in his lifetime, and only five of his tortured, apocalyptic masterwork Jerusalem (1810/1810), of which just two fully colored originals now remain.
     "Blake had been mocked in a notorious obituary in Leigh Hunt's liberal newspaper the Examiner as 'an unfortunate lunatic.'  Both Wordsworth and Southey thought Blake was 'perfectly mad,' and even Coleridgewho was exceptional in having read the Songs in a rare copy, thought Blake was gifted but deeply eccentric.  The author of 'Kubla Khan' wrote:  'You perhaps smile at my calling another poet a mystic; but verily I am in the very mire of commonplace common sense compared with Mr Blake, apo- or rather ana-calyptic poet and painter.' . . .
". . . [Damrosch] remarks that Blake could lean out of the window of his last tiny lodgings in Fountain Court and just glimpse the river Thames, sometimes 'like a bar of gold.'  He adds Blake's comment:  'I live in a hole here, but God has a beautiful mansion for me elsewhere.'"

     Richard Holmes, "The greatness of William Blake," reviewing Eternity's sunrise:  the imaginative world of William Blake, by Leo Damrosch (and other books), The New York review of books 62, no. 19 (December 3, 2015):  72, 73 (71-73).

Extra Calvinisticum, Extra Patristicum, Extra Catholicum

St. Gallen,Stiftsbibliothek
(Cod. Sang.) 390, fol. 54 (detail)
"Helpless, he lay in a manger; glorious, he shone in the heavens.  Humbled, he lived among men; eternal, he dwelt with the Father."

"In praesepio jacebat et in cælis fulgebat; ad nos veniebat, et apud Patrem manebat."

In a manger he was lying and in the heavens he was shining; to us he was coming, and with the Father he was remaining.

     Antiphon to the Benedictus, Morning Prayer, Weekday no. 1 (Monday) between 2 January and Epiphany.  According to CANTUS, this antiphon dates back to the late 10th century at least.  (But I haven't yet checked any sources beyond Hesbert's Antiphonale missarum sextuplex, in which it does not appear.)
     "shining" is too tame for "fulgebat" (flashing, burning, gleaming, shimmering).  Unfortunately, nothing better comes to mind.  "Fulgurating" doesn't really speak today.
     In any case, there is a clear if passing echo here of Sermo 200 by St. Augustine, his second on the Epiphany (PL 38, col. 1029 (1028-1031)), preached on 6 January between 393 and 405 inclusive, and read in the old Roman Breviary "in the second nocturn of the second and third days within the octave of Epiphany" (ACW 15, trans. Thomas Comerford Lawler, 159n1 on 226):
Here we have a great mystery.  He was at that time lying in a manger, and yet was leading the Magi from the East.  He lay hidden in a stable, yet He was acknowledged in the heavens, so that He, acknowledged in the heavens, might be made manifest in the stable, and this day might be called 'Epiphany,' which may be expressed in Latin as 'Manifestatio.' 
[WSA translation here.] 
Magnum sacramentum.  In præsepi tunc jacebat, et Magos ab Oriente ducebat.  Abscondebatur in stabulo, et agnoscebatur in cœlo; ut agnitus in cœlo manifestaretur in stabulo, et appellaretur Epiphania dies iste, quod latine manifestation dici potest.
Thus, "in the heavens he was shining" is probably a reference to the star that led "the Magi from the East", though there are no occurrences of fulg* in Mt 1 (but cf. Mt 24:27 (with Lk 17:24), 28:3; Lk 11:36, 24:4; 2 Cor 4:4; etc.).

"To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are . . . exacting and indispensable forms of charity. Charity, in fact, 'rejoices in the truth' (1 Cor 13:6)."

     Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate 1, 29 June 2009.  "Hence the need to link charity with truth not only in the sequence, pointed out by Saint Paul, of veritas in caritate (Eph 4:15), but also in the inverse and complementary sequence of caritas in veritate.  Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the 'economy' of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practised in the light of truth. . . . This is a matter of no small account today, in a social and cultural context which relativizes truth, often paying little heed to it and showing increasing reluctance to acknowledge its existence." (2).  Only "Through this close link with truth, [can] charity . . . be recognized as an authentic expression of humanity and as an element of fundamental importance in human relations, including those of a public nature. Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity.  That light is both the light of reason and the light of faith, through which the intellect attains to the natural and supernatural truth of charity: it grasps its meaning as gift, acceptance, and communion. Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love" (3).

Sunday, January 3, 2016

"The obedience of the star calls us to imitate its humble service: to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all men to find Christ."

Trier, Stadtbibliothek 24
(Codex Egberti), 17r.
     Leo the Great, Sermo 33 =3 in Epiphania Domini, Recension A (6 January 443), as translated at Liturgy of the hours 1, p. 561.  FC 93, trans. Jane P. Freeland and Agnes J. Conway, p. 142:
This star’s subservient function incites us to imitate its submission, so that we may render service to this grace which invites all to Christ, in as much as we can. 
Cuius utique famulatus ad formam nos sui hortatur obsequii, ut huic gratiae quae omnes inuitat ad Christum, quantum possumus, seruiamus [(CCSL 138, 176-177 (170-177); PL 54, col. 244)].
     Earlier in this same sermon, Leo reminds us that Abraham had been promised "countless descendants. . . . generated not from the seed of flesh, but from the fecundity of faith"; that "These were compared to the stars in number"; and that "In order to create this promised posterity, the heirs (symbolically represented in the stars) are [therefore fittingly] quickened by the birth of a new star, so that this new honor given by heaven might serve the one for whom the witness of heaven had been summoned" (FC 93, pp. 139-140).