Sunday, December 31, 2017


Salzburger Missale, Bd. 3
=Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Clm 15710,
Bildnr. 127
"In the time of my childhood, when one saw the Christmas tree [(Tannenbaum)] not, as today, several weeks before Christmas in all places of business and on [every] street corner, [and] when, even at home, the preparation of the tree progressed in secret, there arose [(erwachte, developed)] for the very first time in our young lives the religious experience [(Gefühl, feeling)] of [(als) a] holy and beatifying shudder [(Schauer)] in the presence of [(vor)] the Mystery, when our parents, on the evening of the 24th of December, opened for us expectant children the door to the [four-cornered] room in which, as coming from another world, the [profoundly Christian] tree [of Paradise, of the knowledge of good and evil but ultimately of life as well], flooded in candlelight, stood."

     Oscar Cullmann, Die Entstehung des Weinachtsfestes und die Herkunft des Weihnachtsbaumes (Suttgart:  Quell Verlag, 1990 [1947]), 67-68.  The great biblical scholar Oscar Cullmann was born in 1902, and first published this in 1947.  So he would have been speaking of the first decade of the 20th century.  I have tried to incorporate between the square brackets here some hints at the thesis set out on pp. 50-53, namely that the decorated Christmas tree is profoundly Christian in origin, i.e. that the latter two of its three stages of development were unmistakably Christian, and that only with the third (the second Christian), which was deeply indebted to the late medieval Paradise play staged in front of the church on Christmas Eve, do we begin to arrive at the Christmas tree we would all recognize today.
     This thesis (set forth without the sort of scholarly apparatus one would expect from a scholar of Cullmann's stature) does appear to have withstood the test of tim
     Cullmann is still cited and followed by Susan K. Roll in the great Theologische Realenzyklopädie, sv Weihnachten/Weihnachtsfest/Weinachtspredigt (vol. 35 (2003), p. 465, ll. 10-19).
     Cf. now also David Bertaina, "Trees and decorations," in The Oxford handbook of Christmas, ed. Timothy Larson (2020), who references here Joe Perry, Christmas in Germany:  a cultural history (Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 2010):
     The origins of the practice of bringing a tree into the home has long stumped scholars. Some [beginning in 1858] have mistakenly claimed that the tree can be traced to Late Antique pagan tradition. . . .  Readers have accepted these 'historicist fantasies' (Perry 2010: 55) for their accounts of the Christmas tree, and the myth continues to be repeated by contemporary media today. . . .
     The Christmas tree tradition most likely developed from a combination of medieval liturgical traditions and guild patronage to local communities, which over time were transformed into a private practice beginning in the sixteenth century. . . .

Friday, December 29, 2017

Did Mary and Joseph enjoy a specifically conjugal intimacy?

". . . Mary has a higher allegiance. . . . And yet, in his trust in God, Joseph reveals he has a higher allegiance too.  Their shared higher allegiance, exchanged over the sharing of the most intimate secrets proper only to husband and wife
[(for example 1) the virginal conception and 2) that 'renunciation of' the sex that would have 'begun their own private family' and 'decrease[d] the scope of [a] married life' that had been 'completely turned outward toward all people equally', the sex that would have prevented their conjugal intimacy from being 'a loving preservation of [however still fallen sex] for the rest of us'; and perhaps even 3) an intimation, on Joseph's part, of the fact that the woman to whom he was married had been immaculately conceived)],
define them as husband and wife[,] and in their shared love and trust the 'secrets' hidden from all eternity remain hidden, precisely as marital intimacy. . . .
"Did Mary and Joseph have sex?
"Did they have the specifically sexual intimacy proper to man and wife, a 'sex life,' as we so unfelicitously call it sometimes?

     John Cavadini, "The sex life of Joseph and Mary," Church life journal, 18 December 2007, italics mine.  Cf. Buccellati.  Their marriage was "for the life of the world".  And yet they kept some secrets proper to their married life and for that reason known only to the two of them, though proclaimed later by the Church (the Evangelists and the Church).

Capital punishment as a form of respect

"The act of judicial execution is one of respect toward persons; it honors the fact that they can do things worthy of punishment by execution. . . . Not to execute a murderer is to fail the murderer. . . ."

    Paul J. Griffiths, summarizing Kant, not his own position, in "Against capital punishment," First things no. 278 (December 2017):  61 (58-63). See Kant's The science of right II.49.E.1, "The right of punishing", but surely elsewhere (with more to the point), too.

"Liberalism brings about the very thing, a universal civil war, from which it initially promised deliverance."

     Phillip Blond, "Politics after liberalism" a review of The politics of virtue:  post-liberalism and the human future, by John Milbank and Adrian Pabst, First things no. 278 (December 2017):  51 (51-54).  "None of the goods claimed for liberalism emerged with, or belong to, it" (52).

"We promote the good of the world most fully in prayer and worship, reminding our fellow citizens that they too are meant to enjoy the heavenly peace of the city of God."

     "The Christian way:  a statement by Evangelicals and Catholics Together," First things no. 278 (December 2017):  46 (43-49), italics mine.

"The dominion of sin is another cruel idol toppled by the risen Lord."

     "The Christian way:  a statement by Evangelicals and Catholics Together," First things no. 278 (December 2017):  44 (43-49).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"opinion trusteeship"

Columbia Journalism School
"we live in a state of opinion trusteeship. None of us have the time and few of us the ability to do our own research on all the complex, problematic issues of our day."

     Victor Navasky, "The Rosenberg variations," The nation, 27 October 2010.  I was put onto this by Max Holland, "Much ado about nothing:  almost a third of Americans believe there was a wider conspiracy to kill Jack Kennedy.  They're wrong," The weekly standard 23, no 15 (December 18, 2017):  30 (26-34):
'We live in a state of opinion trusteeship,' Victor Navasky observed in 2010.  'None of us have the time and few of us the ability to do our own research' on historically problematic cases such as the Sacco-Vanzetti affair, the Rosenberg espionage case, J. Robert Oppenheimer's security clearance, or the Kennedy assassination.  As citizens, we depend on historians and investigative journalists to be our proxies and make sense of these complex events.  Specialized knowledge is hard-won, and expertise on one subject rarely transferable to another.  For the media, however, too often any historian will do as a commentator on a controversy so long as he cooperates in ratcheting up the rhetoric and suggesting a story where none really exists.
     "any historian" is of course too generous.  Would that the media were that conscientious!
     One thing we can do, however, it seems to me, is "do our own research" on selected topics in areas in which we are relatively well-qualified, so as to acquire and retain a sharp sense of what it might be like for a real specialist to do so in others.

Two equally requisite forms of the love of neighbor: admonition and prayer

"Our king, despite his exalted majesty, came in humility for our sake; yet he did not come empty-handed. He brought his soldiers a great gift that not only enriched them but also made them unconquerable in battle, for it was the gift of love [(donum caritatis)], which was to bring men to share in his divinity. He gave of his bounty, yet without any loss to himself. In a marvelous way he changed into wealth the poverty of his faithful followers while remaining in full possession of his own inexhaustible riches.
"And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven; shown first in the king, it later shone forth in his soldier. Love was Stephen’s weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown signified by his name. His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbor made him pray for those who were stoning him. Love inspired [Stephen] to reprove [(arguebat)] those who erred, to make them amend [(corrigerentur)]; love led him to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven. In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition [(Ipsa sancta et indefessa caritas desideravit orando acquirere quos nequivit monendo convertere)].
"Now at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exalts, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy. It was Stephen’s love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paul’s love that covered the multitude of his sins; it was love that won for both of them the kingdom of heaven."

    St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, Sermon no. 3 secs. 2-3 and 5, as translated in the Office of Readings for 26 December, Liturgy of the hours (vol. 1, p. 1247).  CCSL 91A, [905-909]; PL 65, cols. 730C, 731A, and 732B.  I am not aware of a translation of the sermons of Fulgentius into English in book form.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Let us "hasten, alert and with lighted lamps, to meet him"

"Grant that your people, we pray, almighty God, may be ever watchful for the coming of your only Begotten Son, that, as the author of our salvation himself has taught us, we may hasten, alert and with lighted lamps, to meet him when he comes. Who."

"Concede, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, plebi tuae adventum Unigeniti tui cum summa vigilantia exspectare, ut, sicut ipse docuit auctor nostrae salutis, accensis lampadibus in eius occursum vigilantes properemus.  Qui."

     Collect for Friday, the Second Week of Advent, Roman Missal.  Corpus orationum traces this back to CO no. 734, an 8th-century prayer present already in the Gelasian sacramentary:

Concede, quaesumus, omnipotens deus, hanc gratiam plebi tuae adventum unigeniti tui cum summa vigilantia exspectare, ut, sicut ipse auctor nostrae salutis docuit, velut fulgentes lampadas in eius occursum nostras animas praeparemus.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Eucharistic Advent. Not First or Second, but Sacramental

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand; | Ponder nothing earthly-minded, for with Blessing in His Hand | Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.

King of Kings, yet born of Mary, as of old on earth He stood, | Lord of Lords, in Human Vesture—in the Body and the Blood— | He will give to all the Faithful His Own Self for Heavenly Food.

Rank on rank the Host of Heaven spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of Light descendeth from the realms of endless day,
That the Powers of Hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.

At His Feet the six-winged Seraph:  Cherubim with sleepless eye
Veil their faces to the Presence, as with ceaseless Voice they cry—
Alleliua, Alleliua, Alleliua, Lord most High!

     Gerard Moultrie, Lyra eucharistica: hymns and verses on the holy communion, ancient and modern; with other poems, 2nd ed. (London:  Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1864), 133, following a prose translation of the Cherubic Hymn (τοῦ χερουβικοῦ) of the mid-5th-century-or-earlier Liturgy of St. James by Thomas Rattray (ODCC, 3rd rev. ed.; J. R. Watson in The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology).  The Cherubic Hymn appears on p. 176 (Greek)/177 (Latin) of the critical edition in Patrologia orientalis 26 (1950):  119-256, and on pp. 41-42 of Brightman, Liturgies eastern and western (1896), pp. 31-68 (Greek) and 69-110 (Syriac).  I reproduce the Greek and latin here from PO 26, but with italics for Brightman's unical:
Σιγησάτω πᾶσα σάρξ βροτεία καὶ στήτω μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου καὶ μηδὲν γήϊνον ἐν ἑαυτῇ λογιζέσθω· ὁ γὰρ βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντωνΧριστὸς ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶνπροέρχεται σφαγιασθῆναι καὶ δοθῆναι εἰς Βρῶσιν τοῖς πιστοῖς, προηγοῦνται δὲ τούτου οἱ χοροὶ τῶν ἀγγέλων μετὰ πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας, τὰ πολυόμματα χερουβὶμ καὶ τὰ ἑξαπτέρυγα σεραφὶμτὰς ὄψεις καλύπτοντα καὶ βοῶντα τὸν ὕμνονἈλληλούϊα.
Sileat omnis caro mortalis et stet cum timore et tremore neve quidquam terrestre in se meditetur.  Rex enim regnantium, Christus Deus noster, prodit ut mactetur deturque in escam fidelibus, praecedunt autem hunc chori angelorum cum omni principatu et potestate, cherubim multis oculis et seraphim sex alis praedita, facies velantia et vociferantia hymnum, alleluia. 
Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and stand with fear and trembling, and ponder nothing earthly in itself; for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Christ our God, cometh forward to be sacrificed and to be given for food to the faithful; and He is preceded by the choirs of the Angels, with every Domination and Power, the many-eyed Cherubim, and the six-winged Seraphim, that cover their faces, and vociferate the hymn, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Let all mortal flesh be silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and meditate nothing earthly within itself:—For the King of kings and Lord of lords, Christ our God, comes forward to be sacrificed, and to be given for food to the faithful; and the bands of angels go before Him with every power and dominion, the many-eyed cherubim, and the six-winged seraphim, covering their faces, and crying aloud the hymn, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

The Liturgy of St. James "at Zante (and sometimes elsewhere) on 23 Oct. (acc. to the E. Church, the day of St James's death) and at Jerusalem on the Sunday after Christmas" (ODCC).

Monday, December 11, 2017

Semper reformanda

Although there are now many variants on the phrase semper reformanda, at the core of them all lies (in the 21st century) the formulation ecclesia reformata semper reformanda"The church reformed [and/but/because] always to be reformed," i.e. perpetually in need of further reformation.  (It should be noted that one might say exactly this of the Christian university (Universitas) as well.)  It was not used by the 16th-century Protestant Reformers, who thought the requisite degree of reformation achievable, and even—as did Calvin, who was followed in this by Jerome Zanchi (1516-1590), André Rivet (1572-1651), François Turretin (1623-1687), and Peter von Mastricht (1630-1709)—urged their successors not to introduce any further innovations (Busch, 298; van Lieburg is rightly more cautious, but cites no specifics:  "The conviction that the church had continually to examine and purify itself in doctrine and practice cannot be denied to great reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin" (44, italics mine)).  Indeed, "The 'reformanda' is in Zanchi and Turretin to be understood of Papism" exclusively, and "not the Reformed Church", such that Peter von Mastricht could speak of a two-fold theology:  "reformanda or papal, & reformata by Zwingli, Luther, and others" (Mahlmann (2010), 405n130 and especially 424n224).
The origin of the idea of, and indeed even the explicit contrast between a church reformata and yet reformanda as applied to the reformed (reformata) churches (according to Mahlmann "a hitherto unheard of claim", a "break with the tradition [that extended clear] back to Calvin" (424 and 424n224)) was until quite recently thought to lie in the late-17th-century Dutch proto-Pietists of the Nadere Reformatie ("further Reformation"), and in particular Jodocus van Lodenstein ("Such a person of understanding would not have called the Reformed Church reformata, or reformed, but reformanda, or being reformed" (Lodenstein in 1678 (not 1674), as quoted at Busch, 286, and Mahlmann (2010), 387 and 387n24, 424)), where it apparently still does represent a reversal of "the dynamic [established by Jerome Zanchius, 'The only sixteenth-century theologian . . . to use the two participles . . . in a single context to speak of the problem of reformation in the [supposedly already reformed] church'], so that reformanda [rather than the 16th-century's relatively achievable reformation] became the ideal, while reformata came to represent a passive, self-satisfied complacency in the face of lax faith and morals" (Busch, 291-292).
But it does not lie there (Mahlmann (2010), 435).  In his groundbreaking article of 2010, already much referenced above, Theodor Mahlmann pushed it—the concept, that is—nearly a century further back, as far as a Reformed 1595 hypothetically, but to a Lutheran 1610 for sure.  Here I list only the relevant Latin (rather than the many vernacular) highlights, though the treatment given this by Mahlmann is nothing if not astonishingly fulsome:
  • 1595 (Bremen)/1596 (Anhalt)/Marburg (1605)/Brandenburg (1613)/Bohemia (1618-1620):  Mahlmann hypothesizes, short of the documentary evidence he is so exceptionally good at uncovering, that the abortive attempt at a "Calvinization" ("Calvinisierung") of these areas is the background against which Friedrich Balduin was writing in 1610 (Mahlmann, 441-442).
  • 1610:  Friedrich Balduin of Wittenberg, on Mal 1:1, the ultimate source of the very nearly identical Latin claim in Johann Schmidt (1719):  "semper in Ecclesia opus esse Reformatione, quia semper occurrunt corruptelæ morum & doctrinæ" (Mahlmann, 438 ff.; in Schmidt it was est).
  • 1629-1637:  Sweder Schele of the Castle Welbergen:  "In omni facultate et ordine semper reformandum est, hos est ad principia redeundum, in Ecclesia ad Principium verbi Dei divinæ veritatis, in Politia ad ius[,] . . . et . . . in domo ad bonum ordinem domesticum et commodum honestum rei familiaris" (Mahlmann, 434 ff.).
  • 1660:  Johannes Hoornbeecks:  "commune opus reformandae in melius ecclesiae" | "reformantium, & non tantum reformatorum, ut semper debeamus reformare, siquidem reformati esse cupimus, & nomine isto digni, quia studio" (Mahlmann, 426 ff.).  1663:  Johannes Hoornbeecks:  "Omnis reformatus, est & reformans", etc. (there is more; Mahlmann, 430 ff., on "Hoornbeecks' program of a reformation of the present Reformed churches . . . on all [of the] levels at which the Reformation of the 16th century was once directed" (430)).
  • 1678 (not 1674, as usually stated, for example by Busch):  Jocodus van Lodensteyn:  "een geleerd Man de Gereformeerde Kerke [(namely Hoornbeecks, above)] genoemt woude hebben niet Reformata of Gereformeerd maar Reformanda of te Reformeeren.  Wat een suy vere Kerek woude dat werden die altijd daar in besig was?  hoe bondig in Waarheyd, hoe heylig in Practijke" (Mahlmann, 424, where, at 424n223, Busch's quotation of this is corrected).
  • 1696:  Johann Heinrich Heidegger of Zurich:  "Ecclesia quaevis particularis purgatione & reformatione indiget | Sed duplex Ecclesiae Reformatio, ordinaria, & extraordinaria est.  Illa continue esse debet" (Mahlmann, 420 ff.).
These, the concept's rather innovative and elemental roots in the early 17th-century (or possibly even the very late 16th century) aside, as blossoming on out into
  • the 18th- and 19th-century vernacular, but into
  • Latin aphorisms in the case of Alexander Schweizer in 1847-1848 and 1863and Wilhelm Goeters in 1911 (Mahlmann (2010), 420, a summary of 411 ff.), and into the Latin aphorism that Mahlmann was still ascribing to Barth alone (Mahlmann (2010), 384 ff.) in at least Kuyper in 1892 (Mouthaan, 88) and Bauer in 1893 (Perisho),
it was in fact the 20th-century Reformed theologian Karl Barth who from 1947 greatly popularized the saying that we tend to think of as so ancient today, as amplified with the re-insertion of reformata by Peter Vogelsanger in 1952 (Mahlmann (2010), 420).
Unaware of those occurrences of "ecclesia semper reformanda" in 1892 and 1893, uncovered in 2014 by J. N. Mouthaan and 2017 by Steve Perisho respectively (but not yet the earliest such, undoubtedly!), Mahlmann could speak of Barth's having forgotten that he had been the one to coin the phrase, and note that within a decade or so of 1947 he (Barth) was apparently asking the Catholic theologian Hans Küng—who, following Barth, had called the Catholic Church, too, an "Ecclesia reformanda" in an unpublished lecture delivered at Barth's invitation in January of 1959, and was later instrumental in getting the phrases "Ecclesia . . . semper purificanda" and "perennem reformationem" inserted into the documents of Vatican II (Mahlmann (2010), 391n43)—if he (Küng) could perchance shed any light on its presumably ancient (perhaps even, as Küng once speculated, its pre-16th-century) origins (since by that time Barth had apparently accepted that his formulation, too, was owed to ancient tradition (in the German of Mahlman (2010) at 388, "scheint Karl Barth . . . gar angenommen zu haben, diese verdanke sich alter Überlieferung").  It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that Peter Vogelsanger, editor-in-chief of the journal Reformatio, was calling it "th[at] ancient [(alt)] Reformed formula of the ecclesia semper reformanda" as early as 1961 (Mahlmann (2010), 394).
For an extensive treatment of the period after Barth (1947-2009), in which, by the way, Vogelsanger's mistake (?) was often made (for example by Pedersen as late as 2007 (Mahlmann (2010), 404)), see Mahlmann (2010), 384-404.
The medieval precedent for the very phrase does not appear to have been studied extensively (van Lieburg, 44), but Mahlmann cites a "monasteria semper reformanda" (403-404), and Mouthaan, a "semper reformari debet monasterium de hominibus eiusdem professionis, si fieri potest" attributed in 1582 to the canonist Bernard of Parma (d. 1266) (88).  To these van Lieburg adds certain "slogans of the Carthusian Order" ("numquam reformata, quia numquam reformanda (never reformed because it never needed reform) or numquam reformata, quia numquam deformata (never reformed because never deformed)"), and the late medieval goal of a "reformatio in capite et in membris (reformation in head and members)" (van Lieburg, 43).
For the patristic concept of reform in general, see (for starters) the undoubtedly somewhat dated classic by Ladner, below.
Busch, at least, claims to be unaware "of any evidence that a reformanda saying served as a motto or slogan for a person, movement, or institution before 1983, when one appeared on the interim seal of the newly created Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)" (289, italics mine, and quoted without any criticism at Mahlmann (2010), 391n44).
A Select Bibliography on the History:

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Do pagans dream of the Cath'lic deep?

Emmanuel College, Cambridge
"Nobody in the West can be wholly non-Christian. We cannot help continuing to be influenced by the old dreams, as for example Marxists, anarchists, utopians, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, and Jürgen Habermas were when they all continued to pursue some version of the old biblical vision of a fully reconciled, free and open future society, the messianic Kingdom here on this earth. Whether or not you personally think of yourself as being a Christian does not very much affect the extent to which Christianity goes on influencing your hopes and your dreams.  Hence the curious fact that although the modern EU seems to have largely repudiated its Christian past, it nevertheless continues to be deeply influenced by it.  You may call yourself a non-Christian, but the dreams you dream are still Christian dreams, and you continue to be part of the history of Christianity. That’s your fate. You may consider yourself secular, but the modern Western secular world is itself a Christian creation."

     Don Cupitt, The meaning of the West:  an apologia for secular Christianity (London:  SCM Press, 2008), 66-67.  I was put onto this by Matthew Rose, "Our secular theodicy," First things no. 278 (December 2017):  41 (37-42).
     Cupitt, I gather, would say that secular Christians such as himself are, however, the true heirs of the Christian tradition.

     As well as these non-religious examples, I have suggested a number of small indelible differences that Christianity has already made to us all, differences that we cannot give up.  As listed in Chapter 4 above, they were: 
1 Christianity's picture of the human being as chronically highly conscious and self-dissatisfied. 
2 Various ethical principles including
a the ethic of mutual love and forbearance; 
b the principle that no human being should be treated as simply expendable, because each human being is in principle unique and redeemable; and 
c the orientation of the ethic of love especially not towards the strong and beautiful, but towards the weakest and most vulnerable.
3 The principle of the uniformity of nature, interpreted simply as claiming that we can expect to be capable of building a coherent world-picture, and effective technologies. 
4 The belief that although there is no objective purposiveness out there at all, we can hope to be able to make some real progress by gradually accumulating a series of small, indelible gains such as these. 
Of these four indelibles, (1) is derived historically from the old Christian doctrine of man and ultimately from St Paul; (2) is derived from Christian ethics; (3) is derived from the old doctrine of creation; and (4) is derived f[rom] the old Christian idea of the working-out of our redemption within history.  A fifth indelible (5), the belief that human beings can be creative, is based precisely upon our coming to see our whole religious history as a progressive transfer of power from God to human beings [(65-66)].

Be a vessel, not a channel, a lake without an outlet

William Pye, Cathedral font, Salibury.
"The man who is wise . . . will see his life as more like a reservoir [(concham)] than a canal [(canalem)].  The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water until it is filled, then discharges the overflow [(quod superabundat)] without loss to itself.  He knows that a curse is on the man who allows his own property to degenerate. . . . Today there are many in the Church who acts like canals, the reservoirs are far too rare.  So urgent is the charity of those through whom streams of heavenly doctrine flow to us, that they want to pour it forth before they have been filled; they are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, and full of presumption to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves."

". . . si sapis, concham te exhibebis, et non canalem.  Hic siquidem pene simul et recipit, et refundit; illa vero donec impleatur exspectat, et sic quod superabundat sine suo damno communicat, sciens maledictum qui partem suam facit deteriorem. . . . Verum canales hodie in Ecclesia multos habemus, conchas vero perpaucas.  Tantae caritatis sunt per quos nobis fluenta caelestia manant, ut ante effundere quam infundi velint, loqui quam audire paratiores, et prompti docere quod non didicerunt, et aliis praeesse gestientes, qui seipsos regere nesciunt."

     Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon on the Song of songs 18.3 (1135/1136), trans. Walsh & Edmonds (On the Song of songs I =Works of Bernard of Clairvaux 2, =Cistercian Fathers series 4 (Spencer, MA:  Cistercian Publications, 1971), 134).  SC 431, 90, 92; Sämtliche Werke lateinisch/deutsch 5, 104.  I was put onto this by Jeff Van Duzer.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Cantemus Alleluia

Samoan firefighters singing an Alleluia
as they come off of the fireline,
Helena Fire, Trinity County, CA,
September 2017.
"[1. . . .] Let us sing alleluia here on earth, while we still live in anxiety [(solliciti)], so that we may sing it one day in heaven in full security [(securi)]. Why do we now live in anxiety? Can you expect me not to feel anxious [(sollicitus)] when I read: Is not man’s life on earth a time of trial? Can you expect me not to feel anxious when the words still ring in my ears: Watch and pray that you will not be put to the test? Can you expect me not to feel anxious when there are so many temptations here below that prayer itself reminds us of them, when we say: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us? Every day we make out petitions, every day we sin. Do you want me to feel secure [(securus)] when I am daily asking pardon for my sins, and requesting help in time of trial? Because of my past sins I pray: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and then, because of the perils still before me, I immediately go on to add: Lead us not into temptation. How can all be well with people who are crying out with me: Deliver us from evil? And yet, brothers, while we are still in the midst of this evil, let us sing alleluia to the good God who delivers us from evil.

"[3. . . .] Even here amidst trials and temptations let us, let all men, sing alleluia. God is faithful, says holy Scripture, and he will not allow you to be tried beyond your strength. So let us sing alleluia, even here on earth. Man is still a debtor, but God is faithful. Scripture does not say that he will not allow you to be tried, but that he will not allow you to be tried beyond your strength. Whatever the trial, he will see your through it safely, and so enable you to endure. You have entered upon a time of trial but you will come to no harm – God’s help will bring you through it safely. You are like a piece of pottery, shaped by instruction, fired by tribulation. When you are put into the oven therefore, keep your thoughts on the time when you will be taken out again; for God is faithful, and he will guard both your going in and your coming out.

"But in the next life, when this body of ours has become immortal and incorruptible, then all trials will be over. Your body is indeed dead, and why? Because of sin. Nevertheless, your spirit lives, because you have been justified. Are we to leave our dead bodies behind then? By no means. Listen to the words of holy Scripture: If the Spirit of him who raised Christ from the dead dwells within you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your own mortal bodies. At present your body receives its life from the soul, but then it will receive it from the Spirit.

"O the happiness of the heavenly alleluia, sung in security, in fear of no adversity [(O felix illic Alleluia! O secura! o sine adversario)]! We shall have no enemies in heaven, we shall never lose a friend. God’s praises are sung both there and here, but here they are sung by those destined to die, there, by those destined to live for ever; here they are sung in hope, there, in hope’s fulfillment; here they are sung by wayfarers, there, by those living in their own country [(Ibi laudes Deo, et hic laudes Deo: sed hic a sollicitis, ibi a securis; hic a morituris, ibi a semper victuris; hic in spe, ibi in re; hic in via, illic in patria)].

"So, then, my brothers, let us sing now, not in order to enjoy a life of leisure, but in order to lighten our labors. You should sing as wayfarers do – sing, but continue your journey. Do not be lazy, but sing to make your journey more enjoyable. Sing, but keep going. What do I mean by keep going? Keep on making progress [(Modo ergo, fratres mei, cantemus, non ad delectationem quietis, sed ad solatium laboris. Quomodo solent cantare viatores; canta, sed ambula: laborem consolare cantando, pigritiam noli amare: canta, et ambula. Quid est ambula? Profice, in bono profice)]. This progress, however, must be in virtue; for there are some, the Apostle warns, whose only progress is in vice. If you make progress, you will be continuing your journey, but be sure that your progress is in virtue, true faith and right living. Sing then, but keep going [(Tu si proficis, ambulas: sed in bono profice, in recta fide profice, in bonis moribus profice: canta, et ambula).  Desire neither to wander, nor to turn back, nor to remain.  Wheel about [and head straight] for the Lord (Noli errare, noli redire, noli remanere. Conversi ad Dominum), etc.]"

     St. Augustine, Sermo 256, "De Alleluia" (Sunday, 5 May 418), secs. 1 and 3, as excerpted without ellipses in the Office of Readings for the Saturday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, Liturgy of the hours (vol. 4, pp. 608-610).  Cf. WSA III/7, trans. Hill.  PL 38, cols. 1191-1193 (1190-1193).
     Cf. the lovely The Oikos or Ikos (Ὁ Οἶκος) to the Kontakion for the Orthodox funeral service in the church.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Prize the reality of virtue over the appearance of it

It was a goodly Swaine, and of great might, | As euer man that bloudy field did fight; | But in vaine sheows, that wont yong knights bewitch, | And courtly seruices tooke no delight, | But rather ioyd to be, then seemen sich: | For both to be and seeme to him was labour lich.

     Edmund Spenser, The faerie queene III.vii.29, of Sir Satyrane.  "sich":  such, so.  "labour lich":  identical work, according to Thomas P. Roche, Jr.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Ah God, what other could he do at least, | But loue so faire a Lady?

But foolish boy, what bootes thy seruice bace | To her, to whom the heauens do serue and sew? | Thou a meane Squire, of meeke and lowly place, | She heauenly borne, and of celestiall hew. | How then? of all loue taketh equall vew: | And doth not highest God vouchsafe to take | The loue and seruice of the basest  crew? | If she will not, dye meekly for her sake; | Dye rather, dye, then euer so faire loue forsake.

     Edmund Spenser, The faerie queene III.v.47.

Friday, November 24, 2017

"Of chastity and virtue virginall"

La dolce vita
Eternal God in his almighty powre, | To make ensample of his heauenly grace, | In Paradize whilome did plant this flowre, | Whence he it fetcht out of her natiue place, | And did in stocke of earthly flesh enrace, | That mortall men her glory should admire | In gentle Ladies brest, and bounteous race | Of woman kind it fairest flowre doth spire, | And beareth fruit of honour and all chast desire.

     Edmund Spenser, The faerie queene III.v.52.

"there is no anxiety or sadness or fear you feel right now that cannot be cured by political action."

     Chris Murphy on Twitter, 28 July 2017, following the defeat of the Republican health care bill.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"our Lords the poor" and "sick"

"domini nostri pauperes" et infirmi

     A very common theme throughout the statutes of the medieval Christian hospitals (Maisons-Dieu), as collected by Léon Le Grand (Statuts d’hotels-Dieu et de léproseries:  recueil de textes duXIIe au XIVe siècle, Collection de textes pour servera l’étude et a l’enseignement de l’histoire (Paris:  Alphonse Picard et fils, 1901).

  • "domini nostri pauperes", our lords the poor (8 par. 2)
  • "quasi dominus secundum posse domus", as if, as able, the lord of the manor (11 par. 16 (on "secundum posse", see, for example, Thomas Aquinas, ST I-II.28.4.Resp., "to the best of his means"; Schütz, Thomas-Lexikon, sv posse:  "nach Möglichkeit, nach Kräften"))
  • "ut domini", as lords (17 par. 2)
  • "quasi dominus domus", as if the lord of the manor (40 par. 34, 46 par. 21, 113 par. )
  • "ensi que li sires de la maison", as if the lords of the manor (56 par. 14)
  • "quasi dominus domus", as if the lord of the manor (113 par. 73, De infirmis; var.:  quia, because, for quasi)
  • "tanquam dominus domus", as if the lord of the manor (124 par. 26)
  • "comme seigneur de la maison", as [the] lord of the manor (137 par. 12)
  • "comme li sires de la meson", as the lords of the manor (159 par. 10)

See also pp. 18 and 79 (index under Seigneurs malades, sick lords, on p. 279).  Other summative phrases I've encountered:  "nos seigneurs les malades", our lords the sick (Dictionnaire de spiritualité, sv Maladie (tom. 10, col. 144)); les seigneurs malades and les seignors malades, the sick lords; seigneurs de la maison, lords of the manor; etc.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Give us a never-failing and ever-increasing appetite for the Good of which you've just given us just a taste, and by which alone we truly live

"We have been fed, O Lord, with heavenly delights, and beseech Thee, that we may ever hunger after those things by which we truly live.  Through" (Baronius Press 1962 Missal of 2009).

Having been fed, O Lord, with heavenly delights, we pray that we may always have an appetite for the same, by which we truly live (Perisho).

"Caelestibus, Domine, pasti deliciis:  quaesumus:  ut semper eadem, per quae veraciter vivimus, appetamus.  Per."

"Coelestibus, Domine, pasti deliciis:  quaesumus:  ut semper eadem, per quae veraciter vivimus, appetamus.  Per."

"Grant, Lord, that we who have feasted at thy heavenly banquet may ever hunger after the true bread of life:  through" (The Missal in Latin and English (New York:  Sheed & Ward, 1949).

     Postcommunion, Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Roman missal (Sixth Sunday after Epiphany in the Missal of 1962 and before).  =Corpus orationum no. 536 (vol. 1, pp. 274-275) =Bruylants no. 97 (vol. 2, p. 35).  8th century (Gregorian no. 54*, Gelasian no. 1311, etc.).

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The "stuttering ineptitudes" uttered by the (presumably encyclopaedic) university when asked to articulate its raison d'être

"In an instructive irony, the very institutions that claim to provide an arena for sophisticated debate about important questions, issue nothing but 'stuttering ineptitudes' when asked to describe the nature, goal, and unified parts of the university itself."

     Thomas S. Hibbs, channeling Alasdair McIntyre, Three rival versions of moral inquiry:  encyclopaedia, genealogy, and tradition, being the Gifford Lectures delivered in the University of Edinburgh in 1988 (Notre Dame, IN:  University of Notre Dame Press, 1990), 221.  "The research university in crisis (again):  MacIntyre's God, philosophy, universities," Nova et vetera:  the English edition of the international theological journal 9, no. 1 (Fall 2011):  951 (947-966).  MacIntyre:
It is precisely because universities have not been . . . places ['where rival and antagonistic views of rational justification, such as those of genealogists and Thomists, are afforded the opportunity both to develop their own enquiries, in practice and in the articulation of the theory of that practice, and to conduct their intellectual and moral warfare'] and have in fact organized enquiry through institutions and genres well designed to prevent them and to protect them from being such places that the official responses of both the appointed leaders and the working members of university communities to their recent external critics have been so lamentable.  How did this come about?  The central features of the history have all already been noted. . . . It is a history with three stages [(222)].

"'God made man male and female'; the male is Christ, the female is the Church"

"the living church is the body of Christ.  For the Scripture says, 'God made the human male and female.'  The male is Christ, the female is the church."

"τό ἅρσεν ἐστὶν ὁ Χριστός, τὸ θῆλυ ἡ ἐκκλησία"

     Pseudo Clement, 2 Corinthians (more commonly known as 2 Clement) 14, trans. Bart D. Ehrman (LCL 24 (2003), 187).  The heading is from the trans. by Kirsopp Lake.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Abramowski on a potential pre-Augustinian source for the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is the bond of love betwen the Father and the Son

"an already pre-Augustinian origin for the interpretation of the inner-Trinitarian function of the Spirit as bond of Father and Son":
1. When Athanasius says that “the Spirit does not bind (or unite) the Logos with the Father, but rather the Spirit receives [the Father] via the Logos” (contra Arianos 3.24), he is attacking Eusebian positions on the Holy Spirit, not Arian ones, and Augustine, too, as it were, in advance (468-469).  
2. When Augustine says that “in the Holy Spirit an agreement [(concordia)] of unity and equality.  And these three are all one on account of the Father, all equal on account of the Son, all connected [(connexa)] on account of the Holy Spirit” (De doctrina Christiana 15.5), he is correcting, in his native Latin, the Eusebian Greek.  The question is whether this neo-Nicene correction of Eusebian disunity and subordination is original to Augustine or was taken over by him from someone else, possibly Ambrose (469).
3. When Augustine says that “the Holy Spirit is an ineffable communion [(communio)] of Father and Son” (De Trinitate V.11-12), he is rendering into Latin the Greek term κοινωνία, which belongs in the ideosphere of the [Eusebian?] terms συνάφεια and ἀσύγχυτος ἕνωσις (469).
4. Augustine was familiar with the late-second-century Neoplatonic Oracula chaldaica, and quotes it twice in De civitate Dei.  The Oracula chaldaica says in its first part that “Out of them both [(namely, the Monad and the Dyad)] flows the bond [(δέμα)] of the first Triad” (Frag. 31, available to us today thanks to the Neoplatonist Damascius, c. 458-post 533), and "This looks like the origin of both [1] the concept of the Holy Spirit as bond of the Trinity and [2] the controversial conception of the procession of the Holy Spirit ex patre filioque."  Porphyry would have been Augustine’s (and before him Eusebius') source for this, the former via Latin translations of the De philosophica ex oracuhs haurienda and the De regress animae.  But as tempting as it would be to assume that Augustine created his Trinitarian principle, so decisive for the Western doctrine of the Trinity, out of a Latin version of Porphyry directly, we must keep in mind what has just been said on the subject of the Eusebian universe of discourse, the Eusebian conceptuality, and its echo in Augustine.  And indeed, Eusebius himself remains our principle source for the 'oracular philosophy' of Porphyry (470-471).
So until we know better for sure, it would be best to continue to think of Augustine’s description of the bond of unity as love as his own contribution.

     Luis Abramowski, “Zur Trinitätslehre des Thomas von Aquin” (16 February 1995), Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 92, no. 4 (1995): 468-471 (466-480).

Sunday, November 5, 2017

"Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises"

Wouter Engler,
Ethiopiër Assefa Bentayehu,
Marathon Rotterdam 2013.
"Almighty and merciful God, by whose gift your faithful offer you right and praiseworthy service, grant, we pray, that we may hasten without stumbling to receive the things you have promised.  Through."

"Omnipotens et misericors Deus, de cuius munere venit, ut tibi a fidelibus tuis digne et laudabiliter serviatur, tribue, quaesumus, nobis, ut ad promissiones tuas sine offensione curramus.  Per."

Mohlberg:  "Omnipotens et misericors deus, de cuius munere uenit, ut tibi a fidelibus tuis dignae et laudabiliter seruiatur:  tribue, quaesumus, nobis, ut ad promissiones tuas sine offensione curramus.  Per."

Almighty and compassionate God, by reason of whose gift it happens that to you by your faithful [people] service is worthily and laudably offered, grant to us, we pray, that we to(wards) your promises may run without stumbling.  Through.

     Collect for the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Roman missal.  =Corpus orationum no. 3739 (vol. 6, pp. 18-19), Bruylants no. 742 (vol. 2, pp. 209-210), and no. 574 in the 1956 Mohlberg edition of the Leonine/Veronese, which considers it a mid-5th-century collect of anti-Semipelagian composition (Datierungversuch no. 28, on p. LXXIV).

1549 BCP (Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity):
"Almyghtie and mercyfull God, of whose onely gift it cometh that thy faythfull people doe unto thee true and laudable seruice; graunte we beseche thee, that we may so runne to thy heauenly promises, that we faile not finally to attayne the same; through Jesus Christe our Lorde."

1662 BCP:
"Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh, that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service; Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen."

1928 BCP:

"Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service; Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen."

1976 BCP (Proper 26, The Sunday closest to November 2), Traditional:
"Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service:  Grant, we beseech thee, that we may run without stumbling to obtain thy heavenly promises; through [. . .] Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen."

1976 BCP:
"Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service:  Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen."

Cf. this one.