Saturday, December 12, 2020

"Churches without people, people without priests, priests without the reverence due to them, and Christians without Christ."

"Basilicae sine plebibus, plebes sine sacerdotibus, sacerdotes sine debita reverentia sunt, et sine Christo denique Christiani."

     St. Bernard, Letter 317.1 to Alphonsus, Count of St. Gilles, concerning the heretic Henry, trans. Bruno Scott James (Letters of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (Chicago:  Henry Regnery Company, 1953), 388 (387-389)).  Latin from PL 182, col. 434 (for now).  317.2:

Unhappy people!  At the voice of one heretic you close your ears to all the Prophets and Apostles who with one Spirit of truth have brought together the Church out of all nations to one faith in Christ.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

"the historicity of our contemporary options"

 "God is still a reference point for even the most untroubled unbelievers, because he helps define the temptation you have to overcome and set aside to rise to the heights of rationality on which they dwell. . . .

     ". . . [And so,] there are serious reasons to doubt whether [this utterly Godless society] could exist. . . . [For] the interesting issue is whether there could be unbelief without any sense of some religious view which is being negated.  A condition of absence of religion which would no longer deserve the name unbelief.  If so, it would be different from our present world in one crucial respect.  Unbelief for great numbers of contemporary unbelievers, is understood as an achievement of rationality.  It cannot have this without a continuing historical awareness.  It is a condition which can't only be described in the present tense, but which also needs the perfect tense:  a condition of 'having overcome' the irrationality of belief.  It is this perfect-tensed consciousness which underlies unbelievers' use of 'disenchantment' today.  It is difficult to imagine a world in which this consciousness might have disappeared.

     ". . . in a similar way, the founding importance of the exclusive humanism of freedom, discipline, and beneficent order remains ineradicable in our present world.  Other modes of unbelief—as well as many forms of belief—understand themselves as having overcome or refuted it.  The whole Nietzschean stream is a case in point, depending as it does on seeing the filiation between Christian belief and beneficent order, and then defining itself against both."

     Charles Taylor, A secular age (Cambridge, MA:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 268-269, italics mine.  This point is made again on pp. 591-592:

the very self-understanding of unbelief, that whereby it can present itself as mature, courageous, as a conquest over the temptations of childishness, dependency or lesser fortitude, requires that we remain aware of the vanquished enemy, of the obstacles which have to be climbed over, of the dangers which still await those whose brave self-reponsibility falters.  Faith has to remain a possibility, or else the self-valorizing understanding of atheism founders.  Imagining that faith might just disappear is imagining a fundamentally different form of non-faith, one quite unconnected to identity.  It would be one in which it would be as indifferent and unconnected to my sense of my ethical predicament that I have no faith, as it is today that I don't believe, for instance, in phlogiston, or natural places. . .
. . . Religion remains ineradicably on the horizon of areligion; and vice versa. . . . 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

England the palimpset

 "Can you make a new England? You can write a new story. You can write new texts and destroy the old ones, set the torn leaves of Duns Scotus sailing about the quadrangles, and place the gospels in every church. You can write on England, but what was written before keeps showing through, inscribed on the rocks and carried on floodwater, surfacing from deep cold wells. It’s not just the saints and martyrs who claim the country, it’s those who came before them: the dwarves dug into ditches, the sprites who sing in the breeze, the demons bricked into culverts and buried under bridges; the bones under your floor. You cannot tax them or count them. They have lasted ten thousand years and ten thousand before that. They are not easily dispossessed by farmers with fresh leases and law clerks who adduce proof of title. They bubble out of the ground, wear away the shoreline, sow weeds among the crops and erode the workings of mines."

     Hilary Mantel, The mirror and the light, Wolf Hall trilogy 3 (London:  4th Estate, 2020), so far unverified.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Not "since we have no merits," but "where we have no merits" (in this one)

 "Placare domine, quaesumus, humilitatis nostrae precibus et hostis et, ubi nulla suppetunt suffragia meritorum, tuae nobis indulgentiae succurre praesidiis" (Corpus orationum no. 4246).

 "Placare domine, quaesumus, nostrae humilitatis precibus et hostiis et, ubi nulla suppetunt suffragia meritorum, tuae nobis indulgentiae succurre praesidiis" (Missale Romanum).

"Be pleased, O Lord, with our humble prayers and offerings, and, since we have no merits to plead our cause, come, we pray, to our rescue with the protection of your mercy" (Roman missal, 2010 translation).

     Super oblata, Second Sunday of Advent, Missale Romanum.  Present at various points in the 8th-century sacramentaries.

     Clearly, that "since," which stood out to me at Mass this morning, was too good to be true.  For I see no indication that ubi functions in that way in even the medieval Latin covered by the Dictionary of mediaeval Latin from British sources, let alone the classical.  That phrase should run not "since no votes or backings of merits—i.e. no judgments of merit—suffice," but rather "where no votes or backings of merits—i.e. no judgments as to merit—suffice."