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.

Monday, January 4, 2021

"if our faith has remained at the stage of the immature images, then the story that materialism equals maturity can seem plausible."

The claim ("story") that "Religion is afraid to face the fact that we are alone in the universe, and without cosmic support", to grow up and and "look reality in the face", "will probably make little sense to someone who is deeply engaged in a life of prayer or meditation, or other serious discipline, because this involves in its own way growing beyond and letting go of more childish images of God.  But if our faith has remained at the stage of the immature images, then the story that materialism equals maturity can seem plausible."

     Charles Taylor, A secular age (Cambridge, MA:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 364, italics mine.  "the appeal of scientific materialism is not so much the cogency of its detailed findings as that of the underlying epistemological stance, and that for ethical reasons.  [On unrelated but actually more deteminative grounds, including even, in some cases, a kind of 'inner insecurity',] It is seen [unnecessarily or non-inevitably] as the stance of maturity, of courage, of manliness, over against childish fears and sentimentality." "my general position here" is "that conversions from religion under the influence of 'science' turn not on the alleged scientific proofs of materialism or the impossibility of God (which turn out on examination not to go through anyway), but rather on other factors", for example 1) "attachment to inessential doctrines which can be refuted" or 2) other forms of religious immaturity (365).  "the story that a convert to unbelief may tell, about being convinced to abandon religion by science, is in a sense really true.  This person does see himself as abandoning one world view ('religion') because another incompatible one ('science') seemed more believable.  But what made it in fact more believable was not 'scientific' proofs [(of, for example, 'the impossibility of God' (above))]; it is rather that one whole package:  science, plus a picture of our epistemic-moral predicament in which science represents a mature facing of hard reality, beats out another package:  religion, plus a rival picture of our epistemic-moral predicament in which religion, say, represents a true humility, and many of the claims of science unwarranted arrogance.  But the decisive consideration here was the reading of the moral predicament proposed by 'science', which struck home as true to the convert's experience (of a faith which was still childish—and whose faith is not, to one or another degree?), rather than the actual findings of science" (366, all underscoring mine).

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Why is this granted me, that the Mother of God should come to me?

Ghirlandaio, Louvre
     "Some contemporary biblical scholars would push the evidence for the idea, if not the title, back into the New Testament infancy narratives, where, at least, Elizabeth’s designation of Mary as 'Mother of my Lord' (Lk 1:43) may well mean 'Mother of Yahweh!'"

     Maxwell E. Johnson, "Sub tuum praesidium:  the Theotokos in Christian life and worship before Ephesus," Pro ecclesia 17, no. 1 (Winter 2008):  55 (52-74), citing only C. Kavin Rowe, "Luke and the Trinity:  an essay in ecclesial biblical theology," Scottish journal of theology 56, no. 1 (2003).

"To your protection we flee, holy Mother of God: | do not despise our prayers in [our] needs, | but deliver us from all dangers, | glorious and blessed Virgin."

ὑ]πὸ [τὴν σὴν εὐσπλαγχνίαν
      καταφε[ύγομεν θεοτόκε:
τὰ[ς ἡμῶν ἱκεσίας:
μὴ παρεἰδης ἐμ πειστάσει:
ἀλλ' ἐκ κινδύνου ῥῦσαι ἡμας / /
μόνη ἁ[γνὴ μόνη εὐλογ[ημένη.

     A papyrus (John Rylands Papyrus 470) dated by some to the early fourth but "often" to the "third century or even earlier", according to Maxwell E. Johnson, "Sub tuum praesidium:  the Theotokos in Christian life and worship before Ephesus," Pro ecclesia 17, no. 1 (Winter 2008):  62 ff. (52-74), citing, among other works of scholarship, C.H. Roberts, Catalogue of the Greek and Latin Papyri in the John Rylands Library Manchester, Volume III, Theological and Literary Texts (Nos. 457-551) (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1938).  Johnson's article is notable on other grounds as well, for example for placing "the origins of th[e earliest Marian] feast within the earliest days of Christianity itself" (74, 70 ff.).