Sunday, February 28, 2021

The virtues before talk of miracles

"every act of God in human existence is judged by its spiritual fruits.  It elicits prudence before talk [(Ce qui engage à la prudence avant de parler)] of signs from heaven or of 'miracles'.  Confidence in God [(L'attitude confiante)] and an openness to mystery [pre]suppose often endurance [(supposent souvent la durée)] and the crossing of many deserts."

     André Dupleix, "La responsabilité de l'église et des médecins devant les miracles de Lourdes," Bulletin de littérature ecclésiastique 94, no.1 (1993):  27 (19-36).

What is this rising from the dead?

τί ἐστι τὸ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῆναι[;]

     Mk 9:10:  "And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of man should have risen from the dead.  So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant" (RSV).

Friday, February 26, 2021

"I have been rightly told that it [my pride] will die fifteen minutes after I do."

      St. Bernadette Soubirous to Jeanne Védère, René Laurentin, Bernadette vous parle, 2 vols. (Paris:  Lethielleux, 1972), vol. 1, p. 354, as quoted in René Laurentin, Bernadette of Lourdes:  a life based on authenticated documents, trans. from Vie de Bernadette (Desclee de Brouwer, 1978) by John Drury (Minneapolis, MN:  Winston Press, 1979), 206.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

"very stupid and unworthy things on the subject of women"

Polygamia triumphatrix
(1682), p. 123
      "On the sex of souls and on the image of God in the souls of women we have . . . alluded to some [important] discussions anterior to the second Council of Mâcon [held in 585].  We sought only to indicate trajectories of research, cite some recent studies, and, at the same time, suggest a larger context for the polemics to which so many have devoted themselves [(on s'est livre)] not unwillingly, [and] in the 19th century above all, although the arrows flew low:  'perfidious falsification', 'blunder', 'enormity', 'Voltairean jokes', 'ridiculous objection', 'ludicrous tradition', 'scholars of contraband [(savants de contraband)]'.  On the precise terrain on which they fought, the Catholic apologists were right.  [It is] a matter of fact that there has not existed, in the history of Christianity, a legend as unfounded and [yet] tenacious [(aussi tenace et aussi mal fondée)] as that of the Council of Mâcon, with the possible exception of that—a legend not unlike it in character—of the She-Pope Joan.

     "And yet, the refutations, perfectly justified in themselves, were accompanied by triumphalist declarations that have not contributed to a decontamination of the atmosphere. . . .

     "We would prefer, rather, to hear from [the likes of] the distinguished Jesuit Max Pribilla, who noted in a [far] humbler tone [that] 'Over the centuries there certainly have also been Catholic theologians who said [(ont soutenu)] very stupid and unworthy [things] on the subject of women. . . .'  (Although [Pribilla] did add, in effect, [that] one cannot, all the same, impute to them a debate over the existence in them of a soul!)"

          Émilien Lamirande, "De l'âme des femmes:  autour d'un faux anniversaire," Science et esprit 37, no. 3 (1985):  350-351 (335-352).  It's pretty easy to find solid information in English on the Council of Mâcon.  See, for example, Michael Nolan:  First things, New Blackfriars, etc.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Pseudo-Ulysses S. Grant? "there are three political parties in the United States: the Republican, the Democratic, and the Methodist Church."

Here's what I've found so far.  Search hits dropped off the map behind 1900, and in the low-hanging 19th- (and even early 20th-) century newspaper/magazine fruit in the University of Washington databases, too.  Significantly, perhaps, I also encountered "three political parties in the United States"/"this country"-references with "Temperance" or "Prohibition" in that third or "Methodist" slot.  (So one could see how this could have been a variation on an established trope, or vice versa.)  I would welcome any substantive additions, but the historians I've consulted do little more than cite each other, IF anything at all:

With thanks to Douglas M. Strong for the diversion.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

"even when [people] come to feel [the immanent frame] as obviously supporting closure, this doesn't constitute a valid argument. The sense of 'obvious' closure [against transcendence] is not a perception of rational grounding, but an illusion of . . . 'spin'. . . . [W]hile the norms and practices of the immanent frame may incline to closure, this neither decides the effect that living within the frame in fact will have on us, nor even less does it justify the closed take."

      Charles Taylor, A secular age (Cambridge, MA:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2007), 555.

"The issue here is not how many positive invocations of the body we hear"

      "But leaving these aspects and counter-movements aside, official Christianity has gone through what we can call an 'excarnation', a transfer out of embodied, 'enfleshed' forms of religious life, to those which are more 'in the head'.  In this it follows in parallel with 'Enlightenment', and modern unbelieving culture in general.  The issue here is not how many positive invocations of the body we hear; these abound in many forms of atheist materialism, as also in more Liberal Christianity.  The issue is whether our relation to the highest—God for believers, generally morality for unbelieving Aufklärer—is mediated in embodied form, as was plainly the case for parishioners 'creeping to the Cross' on Good Friday in pre-Reformation England.  Or looking to what moves us towards the highest, the issue to what degree our highest desires, those which allow us to discern the highest, are embodied, as the pity captured in the New Testament verb 'splangnizesthai' plainly is."

     Charles Taylor, A secular age (Cambridge, MA:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 554.

A flat or bemused tolerance, as it were, but no fraternal correction

"The emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) gives a similar instruction on how to deal with someone who behaves rudely in the gymnasium:  'We keep an eye on him, not though as an enemy  nor from suspicion of him but with good-humored avoidance [(καίτοι φυλαττόμεθα, οὐ μέντοι ὡς ἐχθρόν οὐδὲ μεθ' ὑποψίας, ἀλλ' ἐκκλίσεως εὐμενοῦς)]' (Med. 6.20).  Unlike Paul, however, Aurelius demonstrates no interest in the reform of this offensive person and 'recognizes no duty of remonstrance towards the offender ὡς ἀδελφόν' ([as a brother; ]Moffatt 1901)."

     Jeffrey A. D. Weima on 2 Thess 3:6-15, 1-2 Thessalonians, Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Academic, 2014), 627, but without Weima’s transliteration and more of the Greek (which I have taken from pp. 140-141 of the 1916 LCL edition ed. and trans. Haines).  Underscoring and boldface mine.
     Marcus Aurelius is invoking the dirty competitor figuratively:  "Act much in the same way in all the other parts of life.  Let us make many allowances for our fellow-athletes as it were.  Avoidance is always possible [(
ἔξεστι . . . ἐκκλίνειν)], as I have said, without suspicion or hatred."
     And so a flat or bemused tolerance, as it were, but no fraternal correction.

Friday, February 5, 2021

"When I am among my seniors I am proof that games are forbidden; when I am among the wild, they think that I am younger than they."

     An anonymous 10th-century quatrain ("Tan bím eter mo shruithe
Dublin, Royal Irish Academy,
MS. 23 P 16 (early 15th cent.),
p. 90 | ISOS
") attributed to St. Mo Ling (d. c. 697; "Mo Ling dixit") and associated with 17 June, his feast day.  In Early Irish lyrics eighth to twelfth century, ed. and trans. Gerard Murphy (Oxford:  The Clarendon Press, 1956), 33 (32-33), 186 (185-186).  CODECS.

"God be with me"

Dublin, Royal Irish Academy,
MS 23 N 10 (16th cent.), p. 19 | ISOS
16 From here may they all protect me against the fog-surrounded demons, these companions of the King's Son from the lands of the living.

18 May my King guard me; may he aid me always; may I be at every need beneath the protection of God's hand.

     Anonymous (c. 900), "God be with me" ("Día lim fri cach sním").  In Early Irish lyrics eighth to twelfth century, ed. and trans. Gerard Murphy (Oxford:  The Clarendon Press, 1956), 27 (22-27), 180-183.  CODECSRoyal Irish Academy.

"Let us adore the Lord, maker of wondrous works, great bright Heaven with its angels, the white-waved sea on earth."

Adram in Coimdid
     cusnaib aicdib amraib,
nem gelmár co n-ainglib,
     ler tonnbán for talmain.

     Anonymus (9th century), "Adram in Comdid."  In Early Irish lyrics eighth to twelfth century, ed. and trans. Gerard Murphy (Oxford:  The Clarendon Press, 1956), 4-5, 173-175.  "The ib ending in the dat. pl. adj. amraib suggests that the quatrain may be as early as the ninth century" (174).  CODECS.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

"the choicefulness of life"

"my personal narrative splits from that of the American gay and lesbian movement.  The latter was based on choicelessness.  A choice may have to be defended—certainly, one has to be prepared to defend one's right to make a choice—while arguing that you were born this way appeals to people's sympathy or at least a sense of decency.  It also serves to quell one's own doubts and to foreclose future options.  We are, mostly, comfortable with less choice—much as I would have felt safer if my parents had not set out [from the Soviet Union] on their great emigration adventure." . . .

     "Also, some of the women I had known had become men.  That's not the way most transgender people phrase it; the default language is one of choicelessness:  people say they have always been men or women and now their authentic selves are emerging.  This is the same 'born this way' approach that the gay and lesbian movement had put to such good political use in the time that I'd been gone [in Russia]:  it had gotten queer people access to such institutions as the military and marriage.

     "The standard story goes something like this:  as a child I always felt like a boy, or never felt like a girl, and then I tried to be a lesbian, but the issue wasn't sexual orientation—it was gender, specifically, 'true gender,' which could now be claimed through transitioning.  I found myself feeling resentful at hearing these stories.  I too had always felt like a boy!  It had taken some work for me to enjoy being a woman (whatever that means)—I'd succeeded.  I had learned how to be one.  But still:  here I was, faced with the possibility that in the parallel life that my left-behind self was leading in the United States while I was in Russia, I would have transitioned.  True gender (whatever that means) didn't have much to do with it, but choice did.  Somehow, I'd missed the fact that it was there." .  . .

. . . In short, "I had failed, miserably, at seeing my [transgender] choices, made as they were under some duress, as an opportunity for adventure.  I had failed to think about inhabiting a different body the way one would think about inhabiting a different country.  How do I invent the person I am now?" . . .

". . . I lay no claim to someone I 'really am.'  That someone is a sequence of choices, and the question is:  Will my next choice be conscious, and will my ability to make it be unfettered?" . . .

     Masha Gessen on "the choicefulness of life," "the freedom to invent one's future, the freedom to choose," no matter the hand dealt.  "To be, or not to be," The New York review of books 65, no. 2 (February 8, 2018):  4-5.

"the majesty of God cannot be propitiated by that which defiles the dignity of man."

 "Nullo modo his artibus placatur diuina maiestas, quibus humana dignitas inquinatur."

     St. Augustine, City of God II.29, trans. Dodds.  Trans. Bettenson:  "It is impossible for the divine majesty to be propitiated by arts which cast a stain on human dignity."

"Just as he was"

Hessische Landesbibliothek, MS 1640
"And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was" (Mk 4:36 (N)RSV, italics mine).

1.  without further ado; i.e. without first, say, returning "home" to Capernaum (3:19; 2:1; 1:21).

2.  as per the emergency plan (3:9).  But the plan had already been executed, for Jesus had long since stepped into the boat and sat down (4:1).

3.  as per an improvisation on the emergency plan (3:9).  This, with no. 1, seems to me the most likely historical sense.  Jesus, following the emergency plan, had long since stepped into the boat and sat down (4:1).  The disciples, by contrast, are with the crowd on land.  Jesus says, "'Let us go across to the other side.'"  They leave the crowd (4:36 and two variants), step into the boat, and "t[ake] him with them in [it], just as he [had been]" (4:36).  Before long he lays down in the stern and falls fast asleep.  Hence:

4.  exhausted as he was (4:38).  Exhausted, pressed by the crowd (3:9), and threatened—albeit in sleep—by the storm (4:37).  I.e., as supremely vulnerable as he was.  This seems to me to be a legitimate figurative sense, a sense that stands then in marked contrast with the flash of divinity displayed from v. 39 (cf. 1:27).  "just as he was," i.e. fully man and, as it turned out, fully God.

Friday, January 29, 2021

"'If I have accomplished anything in my life,' she said late in her life, 'it is because I wasn’t embarrassed to talk about God.'"

     Dorothy Day, according to Jim Forest in

Forest, "a member of the New York Catholic Worker c[o]mmunity in the early 1960s" (611) who lived with Dorothy Day and knew her well, cites nothing.  I have not looked further.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

"if [you] can't get the little things right, [you] can't be trusted on the big ones."

"Citations protect you from a charge of plagiarism, but beyond that narrow self-interest, correct citations contribute to your ethos.  First, readers don't trust sources they can't find.  If they can't find your sources because you failed to document them adequately, they won't trust your evidence; and if they don't trust your evidence, they won't trust . . . you.  Second, . . . if a writer can't get the little things right, he can't be trusted on the big ones."

     Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. Fitzgerald, The craft of research, 4th ed. (Chicago & London:  The University of Chicago Press, 2016), 203.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Christianity and classical culture

"the whole of this discussion may be summed up in the following syllogism.  The Greeks give us the major premise:  If such gods are to be worshipped, then certainly such men may be honoured.  The Romans add the minor:  But such men must be no means be honoured.  The Christians draw the conclusion:  Therefore such gods must by no means be worshipped."

     St. Augustine, City of God II.13, trans. Dodds.  CSEL 40.1, p. 77 ll. 2-7:

In hac disceptatione huiusce modi ratiocinatio summam quaestionis absoluit.  Proponunt Graeci:  Si di tales colendi sunt, profecto etiam tales homines honorandi.  Adsumunt Romani:  Sed nullo modo tales homines honorandi sunt.  Concludunt Christiani:  Nullo modo igitur di tales colendi sunt.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Copenhagen School

     "But everything that Bohr and his circle [(the Copenhagen School so imperiously)] believed about these matters turns out to have been wrong.  Everything that they declared to be impossible has actually been accomplished."

     David Z. Albert, Frederick E. Woodbridge Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, "Quantum's leaping lizards," a review of What is real?  The unfinished quest for the meaning of quantum physics, by Adam Becker, The New York review of books 65, no. 7 (April 19, 2018):  56 (55-57).  See this article, on file under Quantum physics, for the implications, among them that "Each of ['a number of promising theories of what things are "actually like" in the interiors of atoms'] entails that the world is very different from anything that we had imagined before, but what's important for our purposes is that each of them offers us some realistic and comprehensive account of how nature actually is, whether anybody happens to be looking at it or not.  None of these theories requires that we draw any line or make any distinctions, between whatever is being measured and whatever is doing the measuring" (56), etc.  "One of the upshots of the story that Becker tells [(namely, the story that Einstein was 'flawed', 'proud and stubborn', unprepared 'to followed where that new science led', unprepared 'to believe that nature might refuse to accomodate itself to his intutions')] is that this is all nonsense.  Einstein was out of step with his fellow physicists for the simple reason that he thought more clearly and spoke more honestly than they did" (57).

Scipio "did not consider that republic flourishing whose walls stand, but whose morals are in ruins."

"Neque enim censebat ille felicem esse rem publicam stantibus moenibus, ruentibus moribus."

     St. Augustine, City of God I.33, trans. Dodds.  CSEL 40.1, p. 56 ll. 13-14.  Scipio did not consider that republic happy with standing walls, ruined morals.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

'The appointment of a woman to office is an innovation for which the public is not prepared, nor am I.'

     President Thomas Jefferson to Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin, 13 January 180 (Founders Online).  "when Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin noticed a shortage of individuals qualified to hold office during the second Jefferson administration, he suggested that the president consider hiring women.  President Jefferson, taking his role as the symbol of the nation to heart, replied," (Annette Gordon-Reed, "Female trouble," The New York review of books 65, no. 2 (February 8, 2018):  12 (12-14).

Monday, January 18, 2021

"the body is not an extraneous ornament or aid, but a part of man's very nature."

"Haec enim non ad ornamentum uel adiutorium, quod adhibetur extrinsecus, sed ad ipsam naturam hominis pertinent."

     St. Augustine, City of God I.13 =CSEL 40.1, p. 25, ll. 19-21.

"Do but listen to me, O Israel, and I will give you a land flowing with milk and honey."

℟. Hear, O Israel, the precepts of the Lord, and write them on your hearts as in a book, and I will give you a land flowing with milk and honey.

℣. O my people, heed my warning.  Do but listen to me, O Israel, and I will give you a land flowing with milk and honey.

℟. Audi, Israel, praecepta Domini, et ea in corde tuo quasi in libro scribe; Et dabo tibi terram fluentem lac et mel.

℣. Audi, populus meus et contestabor te; Israel, utinam audias me.  Et dabo tibi terram fluentem lac et mel.

     Response to the first reading (from Dt 4:1-8, 32-40), Office of Readings for Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, Liturgy of the hours.  Cited:  Dt 4:1; cf. 6:6, 31:20; Ps 81:8.  But to that Et dabo tibi clause Lev 20:24 Vulgate seems closer to me.  Etc. (I haven't analyzed this in full).

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Ropo mían dom menmain-se (11th cent.)


It were my soul's desire
To see the face of God;
It were my soul's desire
To rest in His abode.

It were my soul's desire
To study zealously;
This, too, my soul's desire,
A clear rule set for me.

It were my soul's desire
A spirit free from gloom;
It were my soul's desire
New life beyond the Doom.

It were my soul's desire
To shun the chills of hell;
Yet more my soul's desire
Within His house to dwell.

It were my soul's desire
To imitate my King,
It were my soul's desire
His ceaseless praise to sing.

It were my soul's desire
When heaven's gate is won
To find my soul's desire
Clear shining like the sun.

Grant, Lord, my soul's desire,
Deep waves of cleansing sighs;
Grant, Lord, my soul's desire
From earthly cares to rise.

This still my soul's desire
Whatever life afford,—
To gain my soul's desire
And see Thy face, O Lord.

     Trans. Eleanor Hull, The poem-book of Gael:  translations from Irish Gaelic poetry into English prose and verse (London:  Chatto & Windus, 1912), 142-143.


It were my mind's desire to behold the face of God.  It were my mind's desire to live with Him eternally.

It were my mind's desire to read books studiously.  It were my mind's desire to live under a clear rule.

It were my mind's desire t be cheerful towards all.  It were my mind's desire to win the prize of resurrection after doom.

It were my mind's desire to attain triumphant sanctity of body.  It were my mind's desire to avoid cold Hell.

It were my mind's desire to dwell in bright Paradise.  It were my mind's desire to shine as shines the sun.

It were my mind's desire to be for ever in the company of the King.  It were my mind's desire to hear manifold melodies throughout the ages.

It were my mind's desire to reach cloudy Heaven.  It were my mind's desire to shed vehement waves of tears.

It were my mind's desire to forsake this world.  It were my mind's desire to behold the face of God.

     Trans. Gerard Murphy:  "Anonymous [11th century]" | "My mind's desire," trans. Gerard Murphy, in Gerard Murphy, Early Irish lyrics: eighth to twelfth century (Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1956), 58–61 (Middle Irish—English, with Notes), 199–200 (Introduction).  The 15th-century manuscript depicted above—Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland Adv.MS.72.1.5—is the one that Murphy, following Mackinnon, dates to the 14th century ("MS. No. 1 of the Kilbride Collection ('K')").  Next earliest would appear to be London, British Library, MS Add. 30512 (15th-16th century).


It were my soul's desire
To behold the face of God,
It were my soul's desire
Eternally to live with Him.

It were my soul's desire
Studiously to read little books,
It were my soul's desire
To live under a clear rule.

It were my soul's desire
To be cheerful towards all,
It were my soul's desire
Triumphantly to rise after Doom.

It were my soul's desire
. . . the body after triumph,
It were my soul's desire
Not to know cold Hell.

It were my soul's desire
To dwell in the clear mansions of the King,
It were my soul's desire
To glitter as the sun.

It were my soul's desire
To be for ever in the company of the King,
It were my soul's desire
(To listen to) many strains throughout the ages.

It were my soul's desire
To forsake this world,
It were my soul's desire
To behold the face of God.

Écrasez l'infâme!

     "Voltaire's agitation came at the cost of truth.  As the legal historian Benoît Garnot has shown, the famous philosophe[, inventor of 'that political-moral-literary event, "l'affaire,"'] rode roughshod over the facts of his 'causes.'  He caricatured the law's careful and restrained procedures, and he brushed aside inconvenient evidence as he sought to shape images of cruelty and injustice that had as their goal the smearing of the Church.  Records show that it was usually the Church that took the lead, before Voltaire joined the fray, in seeking mercy and reprieve.  If Voltaire invented 'l'affaire,' he did not wield it as a tool of reason.  Harnessing the crowd for the sake of righteousness required appealing to passions and manipulating sentiments.  Voltaire sought to whip up the 'intimate' heart, often through the deliberate distortion of facts.  The modern word for such techniques is propaganda."

     Ephraim Radner, "L'affaire Voltaire," First things no. 309 (January 2021):  63 (64-63).  Radner is probably referring to the following, among (possibly) others, none of which I have yet read:

Thursday, January 14, 2021

"Rowlandson is a highly trained reader"

      Michael "Warner locates the intellectual origins of the regime of critical reading in the holistic biblical analysis of Locke and Spinoza, and he contrasts it with a religious regime exemplified by a reading of the scriptures by Mary Rowlandson, who was held captive by Indigenous Americans in 1676 and who took certain passages in Jeremiah to refer directly to the promise of salvation from her own captivity.  Rowlandson is precisely the sort of reader against whom Locke's analytic schema was directed:  unintersted in the philological resources of 'analytic collation, linguistic comparison, contextual framing, or any other effort at detachment from the rhetoric of address' (31), she reads the biblical text on the assumption that it 'is everywhere uniformly addressed by God, in the vernacular, to the believer (31).  She takes alighting on passages by chance to be a form of providential direction, but this is not a passive mode of reading; to the contrary, 'it requires repetition, incorporation, and affective regulation' (31), and it is supported by an extensive theological apparatus and extensive instruction in devotional manuals on the correct application of scripture.  Mary Rowlandson is a highly trained reader:  the regime that shapes her reading, with its focus on 'the elemental dyad of God and the soul as the situation of address' (31), is a rival framework to that of critical reading:  not pretheoretical, strongly reflexive in its own way, but directed to different ends and with quite a different understanding of how a text addresses a reader and of how intention is to be imputed to it."

     John Frow, On interpretive conflict (Chicago and London:  University of Chicago Press, 2019), 33-34.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

"It is opinion that loses and wins battles."

"It is opinion that loses and wins battles.  The fearless Spartan used to sacrifice from fear (Rousseau somewhere expresses astonishment at this, I don't know why); Alexander also sacrificed from fear before the Battle of Arbela.  Certainly those people were quite right and, to correct this sensible devotion, it is enough to pray to God that he deigns not to send fear to us.  Fear!  Charles V made great fun of that epitaph he read in passing, Here lies one who never felt fear.  And what man never had felt fear in his life?  Who has never had occasion to realize, both in himself, in those around him and in history, the way in which men can be overcome by this passion, which often seems to have the more sway over us the fewer the reasonable causes for it.  Let us then pray, Knight . . . ; let us pray to God that he keeps us and our friends from fear, which is within his power and which can ruin in an instant the most splendid military ventures.

     ". . . I put this question one day to a soldier of the highest rank whom you both know.  Tell me, General, what is a lost battle?  I have never been able to understand this.  After a moment's silence, he answered, I do not know.  After another pause he added, It is a battle one thinks one has lost. . . .  Opinion is so powerful in war that it can alter the nature of the same event and give it two different names, for no reason other than its own whim.  A general throws his men between two enemy armies and he writes to his king, I have split him, he has lost.  His opponent writes to his king, He has put himself between two fires, he is lost.  Which of the two is mistaken?  Whoever is seized by the cold goddess."

     The Senator in Joseph de Maistre, The Saint Petersburg dialogues (1821) 7 ("sur la guerre"), The works of Joseph de Maistre, trans. Jack Lively, Minerva series 15 (London:  George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1965), 256-257 (245-258).  French from the original:  Les soirées de Saint-Pétersbourg, ou Entretiens sur le gouvernement temporel de la providence: suivis d'un traitée sur les sacrifices 7 (vol. 2, p. 43-46 (1-99)).

"God . . . is not obliged to do miracles and never does one needlessly. . . . ."

"Dieu . . . ne le [(un miracle)] doit à personne, et . . . n'en fait point d'inutiles. . . ."

God . . . owes no one [a miracle], and . . . never performs an unnecessary [one]. . . .

     The Senator in Joseph de Maistre, The Saint Petersburg dialogues (1821) 7 ("sur la guerre"), The works of Joseph de Maistre, trans. Jack Lively, Minerva series 15 (London:  George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1965), 256 (245-258).  French from the original:  Les soirées de Saint-Pétersbourg, ou Entretiens sur le gouvernement temporel de la providence: suivis d'un traitée sur les sacrifices 7 (vol. 2, p. 41 (1-99)).
     De Maistre is overly Enlightened here.  There is a sense in which this is obvious, and also a sense in which it sets itself up against the extravagant logic of the doctrine of redemption, which, rooted in the astonishing signs performed by Christ, and in his resurrection, is ultimately eschatological.  This is but the (in de Maistre (?) admittedly open) grammar of this present age.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

On which does the anathema fall?

"suppose that for some good reason a stranger to our planet comes here and talks to one of us about the condition of this world.  Among the strange things that are recounted to him, he is told that corruption and vices, of which he has been fully informed, in certain circumstances necessitate men dying by the hand of men, and that we restrict the right of killing within the law to the executioner [(bourreau)] and the soldier [(soldat)].  He will also be told:  'The one brings death to convicted and condemned criminals, and fortunately his executions are so rare that one of these ministers of death [(ministres de mort)] is sufficient for each province.  As far as soldiers are concerned, there are never enough of them, because [(car)] they kill without restraint and their victims are always honest men.  Of these two professional killers [(tueurs de profession)], the soldier and the executioner [(exécuteur)], one is highly honored [(fort honoré)] and always has been by all the nations who have inhabited up to now this planet to which you have come; but the other has just as generally been regarded as vile [(infâme)].  Try to guess on which side the obloquy falls [(devinez, je vous prie, sur qui tombe l'anathème?)]."

     The Senator in Joseph de Maistre, The Saint Petersburg dialogues (1821) 7 ("sur la guerre"), The works of Joseph de Maistre, trans. Jack Lively, Minerva series 15 (London:  George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1965), 246 (245-258).  French from the original:  Les soirées de Saint-Pétersbourg, ou Entretiens sur le gouvernement temporel de la providence: suivis d'un traitée sur les sacrifices 7 (vol. 2, pp. 5-6 (1-99)).  Cf. Dialogue 1, on pp. 193 ff.

     Of course, soldiers don't (or aren't supposed to) kill "sans mesure", and those they kill don't fight (or aren't thought to fight) for an "honnêt" cause.  Nonetheless, de Maistre is onto something interesting here (which, however (I'm only guessing), had probably been noticed before).

"in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God"

Ilya Veselov, YICCA
"in [wisdom] there is a spirit that is intelligent [(νοερόν)], holy [(ἅγιον)], unique [(μονογενές)], manifold [(πολυμερές)], subtle [(λεπτόν)], mobile [(εὐκίνητον)], clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety [(ἀμέριμνον)], all-powerful, overseeing all [(πανεπίσκοπον)], and penetrating through [(διὰ . . . χωροῦν)] all spirits that are intelligent [(νοερῶν)] and pure [(καθαρῶν)] and most subtle [(λεπτοτάτων)]. For wisdom is more mobile than any motion [(πάσης . . . κινήσεως κινητικώτερον)]; because of her pureness [(τὴν καθαρότητα)] she pervades [(διήκει)] and penetrates [(χωρεῖ)] all things. For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into [(εἰς . . . παρεμπίπτει)] her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. Though she is but one [(μία)], she can do all things, and while remaining in [(μένουσα ἐν)] herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into [(εἰς . . . μεταβαίνουσα)] holy [(ὁσίας)] souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets; for God loves nothing so much as the man who lives with wisdom. For she is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail."

     Wisdom of Solomon 7:22b-30 RSV.  Greek from here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

"Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall a soul except sin." God "commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry": a St. Francis de Sales-St. John Vianney pastische

     I was able to find the first sentence in St. Francis de Sales.  Searching for the source of the second, which does not follow the first in the Introduction to the devout life, I stumbled upon this 22 May 2017 post by Fr. Horton of Fauxtations, which confirmed what I had suspected, namely that I might want to look for it in St. John Vianney.  But though Fr. Horton interprets this as a quotation from a homily, I have yet to find it outside of the 1861 Vie by Monnin that he cites (which is to say, in the four volumes of the standard 1883 edition of the Sermons (which, however, I've only searched in Google Books, not read)), where, it should be noted, it occurs more in passing than in the context of a treatise on anxiety specifically.

Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall a soul except sin.
"With the single exception of sin, anxiety is the greatest evil that can happen to a soul" (trans. John K. Ryan).

     St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the devout life 4.11 (Anxiety), translated, with an Introduction and Notes, by John K. Ryan (New York:  an Image Book, Doubleday, 1989 [1972]), 251 =Introduction à la vie devote, 1st 1609 edition, 2.40 =vol. 3 of the standard 1892-1964 Visitation Annecy edition, p. 133*; definitive 1619 edition, 4.11 =vol. 3, p. 311 (for an "Ordre de l'édition définitive comparé avec celui de l'édition princeps," go here; for an "Ordre de l'édition princeps comparé avec celui de l'édition définitive," go here):

"L'inquietude est le plus grand mal qui arrive en l'ame, excepté le peché."

The Pléiade edition of 1969 (p. 272) places an accent aigu over the first e:

"L'inquiétude est le plus grand mal qui arrive en l'ame, excepté le peché."

God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry.


"il vous commande la prière, mais il vous defend l’inquiétude."
He requires prayer [of] you, but . . . forbids you anxiety.

     Though I have tried some searches on vol. 3 (those two editions of the Introduction) alone, like Fr. Horton I have not yet looked for a version of the second half of the quotation in all 27 volumes of the standard 1892-1964 Visitation Annecy edition of the Œuvres de Saint François de Sales present in (unlike the Hathi Trust Digital Library) Gallica.  I don't think it's there, but I suppose it could be.