Fr Hunwicke,'Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment', has pointed out that Fr Tim Finegan, parish priest of Margate has recently resumed posts on his blog 'The hermeneutic of continuity'. This is really good news, for it would indicate that Fr Finegan continues to make a good recovery after his heart surgery last year, also it means the return of a blog which has consistently been at or very near the top of everyone's favourite blogsite over many years. Welcome back Fr Finegan and long may 'The Hermeneutic of continuity' continue! On 20 October, the feast of St John Cantius, Fr Finegan published a post about the church in Chicago dedicated to this Saint and administered by the Canons Regular of St John Cantius. Included in this post was a video entitled 'Saint John Cantius: Restoring the Sacred', which in the words of Fr Finegan 'gives an idea of the amazing life of the parish'. I found this video very encouraging, with the revitalising of the Saint John Cantius parish assuming a symbolism for the future revitalisation of the Catholic Church worldwide, and providing a positive antidote to the rather depressing diet of Catholic news currently offered to the faithful. I strongly recommend you view, it will make your day! Please find the link immediately below:- The hermeneutic of continuity: Happy feast day to our friends in Chicago
ack. Fr Tim Finegan 'The Hermeneutic of continuity' ******************* On a rather different note, I recently enjoyed a birthday party at home, a somewhat genteel party rather than a 'hokey-cokey' type, as befits a certain 'mature' age on my part, and the esteemed company with me, when I was presented by one of my guests, with a somewhat unusual and interesting member of the 'cephalopoda' family. In case you are wondering what strange creature this was, and I hope still is, let me introduce - an octopus! Now I have always imagined octopusses, or should it be octopussi, or even octopi, as large and rather ferocious sea creatures who either sting or crush to death any human who comes within range. Well this particular specimen was in a bucket partly filled with sea-water, and measured approximately 6" in diameter, and was alive and well and blowing regular bubbles! Our guests at the party included Father Michael and Father Magdala, and several Brothers and a postulant from Papa Stronsay. The temporary guardian of this terrifying creature was the postulant, Augustine, who had seen it on the foreshore on Papa Stronsay, apparently stranded above the low-water line. He bravely (my description) rescued it at great risk to life and limb, and I suspect, on his own initiative, coolly placed it in a bucket half-filled with sea water.
Small Common Octopus - Octopus Vulgaris, in bucket of sea-water!
As the monks were virtually on their way here, the octopus came too, and very pleased I was to make his or possibly her acquaintance. With considerable difficulty 'we' managed to take a photograph, although I doubt that it would win the 'Wildlife Photograph of the Year' award, but it is a genuine photograph of a live octopus, a creature quite new to me although probably not to many others. Our reference book on 'Coasts and Estuaries', links octopuses with cuttlefish and squids, members of the Cephalapoda family. Body sac-like; head with large well-developed eyes; mouth with pair of horny jaws, also rasping tongue (radula). Front part of foot fused with head, extending into circlet of suckered tentacles surrounding mouth. Shell internal, reduced. Sights prey and seizes it in tentacles. The Common Octopus - Octopus Vulgaris, can grow to 1 metre diameter. It has eight tentacles, each with two rows of suckers. Grey-brown or greenish, can change colour to match background. Sublittoral - found below the low-water mark. Britain, Ireland, France.
The party had a happy ending, with the octopus returned safe and sound to its watery home on the beach, and the postulant responsible for its rescue no doubt receiving an appropriate commendation from Father Michael! For me it was a party to remember, my first live octopus! Thank you Augustine. ****************
'Humiliation is the touchstone of Sanctity. You will acquire more merit by meekly receiving an affront than by fasting ten days on bread and water.'
'Thoughts from St Alphonsus' compiled by Rev C McNeiry C.SS.R. - Burns, Oates, Washbourne. 1927.
We learn from our Catechism that the three enemies of the soul are the devil, the world, and the flesh. For young people today the temptations of the flesh, promoted by Satan and the secular society in which we live, must seem overwhelming. Certainly without God's grace they could not win this ongoing battle. The mass media feeds our society a diet of news and entertainment, some good but much of it sensational and downright licentious. Active homosexuality, a criminal offence in the UK prior to 1967, is promoted as a lifestyle by celebrities from all walks of life, as is so-called 'same-sex marriage'. Indecent and pornographic material is readily available on the internet, which includes access by millions of young people worldwide using mobile phones, Ipods, etc. In view of - a) current political initiatives to enforce sex-education in all schools in the United Kingdom; and b) outspoken criticism from respected Catholic sources that certain programmes incorporated in the recent Catholic World Youth Day in Poland, were pornographic in content; https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-newman-society-pontifical-councils-sex-ed-program-not-ready-for-ca, https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/exclusive-the-new-threat-to-catholic-youth-the-meeting-point, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/vatican-surrenders-to-sexual-revolution-with-release-of-sex-ed-program-life, - it seems appropriate to remind ourselves of the Papal Encyclical 'On Christian Education’ - ‘Divini Illius Magistri’, issued by His Holiness Pope Pius XI on December 31, 1929. 'Such is our misery and inclination to sin, that often in the very things considered to be remedies against sin, we find occasions for and inducements to sin itself.' (Cardinal Silvio Antoniano b.1540-d.1603. Contemporary and friend of St Charles Borromeo and St Philip Neri. Renowned writer - 'Christian Education of Children'- translated in French and German editions in late 19th century)
Pope Pius XI (1930) This is a comprehensive encyclical, too long to reproduce here, which, although written nearly eighty-seven years ago, is particularly appropriate to our times, with the same relevance and truth. "ON CHRISTIAN EDUCATION - 'Divini Illius Magistri' ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI. DECEMBER 31, 1929" - the following are extracts from this encyclical. To read the whole, strongly recommended, go to http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius11/P11RAPPR.HTM “….It is therefore as important to make no mistake in education, as it is to make no mistake in the pursuit of the last end, with which the whole work of education is intimately and necessarily connected. In fact, since education consists essentially in preparing man for what he must be and for what he must do here below, in order to attain the sublime end for which he was created, it is clear that there can be no true education which is not wholly directed to man's last end, and that in the present order of Providence, since God has revealed Himself to us in the Person of His Only Begotten Son, who alone is "the way, the truth and the life," there can be no ideally perfect education which is not Christian education. Hence every form of pedagogic naturalism which in any way excludes or weakens supernatural Christian formation in the teaching of youth, is false. Every method of education founded, wholly or in part, on the denial or forgetfulness of original sin and of grace, and relying on the sole powers of human nature, is unsound. Such, generally speaking, are those modern systems bearing various names which appeal to a pretended self-government and unrestrained freedom on the part of the child, and which diminish or even suppress the teacher's authority and action, attributing to the child an exclusive primacy of initiative, and an activity independent of any higher law, natural or divine, in the work of his education. But alas! it is clear from the obvious meaning of the words and from experience, that what is intended by not a few, is the withdrawal of education from every sort of dependence on the divine law. So today we see, strange sight indeed, educators and philosophers who spend their lives in searching for a universal moral code of education, as if there existed no decalogue, no gospel law, no law even of nature stamped by God on the heart of man, promulgated by right reason, and codified in positive revelation by God Himself in the ten commandments. These innovators are wont to refer contemptuously to Christian education as "heteronomous," "passive," "obsolete," because founded upon the authority of God and His holy law. Such men are miserably deluded in their claim to emancipate, as they say, the child, while in reality they are making him the slave of his own blind pride and of his disorderly affections, which, as a logical consequence of this false system, come to be justified as legitimate demands of a so-called autonomous nature. Another very grave danger is that naturalism which nowadays invades the field of education in that most delicate matter of purity of morals. Far too common is the error of those who with dangerous assurance and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex-education, falsely imagining they can forearm youths against the dangers of sensuality by means purely natural, such as a foolhardy initiation and precautionary instruction for all indiscriminately, even in public; and, worse still, by exposing them at an early age to the occasions, in order to accustom them, so it is argued, and as it were to harden them against such dangers.
St Aloysius Gonzaga S.J. (1568-91) - declared patron saint of youth by Pope Pius XI in 1926. Such persons grievously err in refusing to recognize the inborn weakness of human nature, and the law of which the Apostle speaks, fighting against the law of the mind; and also in ignoring the experience of facts, from which it is clear that, particularly in young people, evil practices are the effect not so much of ignorance of intellect, as of weakness of a will exposed to dangerous occasions, and unsupported by the means of grace. In this extremely delicate matter, if, all things considered, some private instruction is found necessary and opportune, from those who hold from God the commission to teach and who have the grace of state, every precaution must be taken. Such precautions are well known in traditional Christian education, and are adequately described by Antoniano cited above, when he says: 'Such is our misery and inclination to sin, that often in the very things considered to be remedies against sin, we find occasions for and inducements to sin itself.' Hence it is of the highest importance that a good father, while discussing with his son a matter so delicate, should be well on his guard and not descend to details, nor refer to the various ways in which this infernal hydra destroys with its poison so large a portion of the world; otherwise it may happen that instead of extinguishing this fire, he unwittingly stirs or kindles it in the simple and tender heart of the child. Speaking generally, during the period of childhood it suffices to employ those remedies which produce the double effect of opening the door to the
virtue of purity and closing the door upon vice. False also and harmful to Christian education is the so-called method of "coeducation." This too, by many of its supporters, is founded upon naturalism and the denial of original sin; but by all, upon a deplorable confusion of ideas that mistakes a leveling promiscuity and equality, for the legitimate association of the sexes. The Creator has ordained and disposed perfect union of the sexes only in matrimony, and, with varying degrees of contact, in the family and in society. Besides there is not in nature itself, which fashions the two quite different in organism, in temperament, in abilities, anything to suggest that there can be or ought to be promiscuity, and much less equality, in the training of the two sexes. These, in keeping with the wonderful designs of the Creator, are destined to complement each other in the family and in society, precisely because of their differences, which therefore ought to be maintained and encouraged during their years of formation, with the necessary distinction and corresponding separation, according to age and circumstances.
These principles, with due regard to time and place, must, in accordance with Christian prudence, be applied to all schools, particularly in the most delicate and decisive period of formation, that, namely, of adolescence; and in gymnastic exercises and deportment, special care must be had of Christian modesty in young women and girls, which is so gravely impaired by any kind of exhibition in public. It is no less necessary to direct and watch the education of the adolescent, "soft as wax to be moulded into vice," in whatever other environment he may happen to be, removing occasions of evil and providing occasions for good in his recreations and social intercourse; for "evil communications corrupt good manners." The proper and immediate end of Christian education is to cooperate with divine grace in forming the true and perfect Christian, that is, to form Christ Himself in those regenerated by Baptism, according to the emphatic expression of the Apostle. ... For the true Christian must live a supernatural life in Christ ... and display it in all his actions. How grave therefore is the error of those who separate things so closely united, and who think that they can produce good citizens by ways and methods other than those which make for the formation of good Christians. For, let human prudence say what it likes and reason as it pleases, it is impossible to produce true temporal peace and tranquillity by things repugnant or opposed to the peace and happiness of eternity. O Catholic Church, true Mother of Christians! Not only doest thou preach to us, as is meet, how purely and chastely we are to worship God Himself, Whom to possess is life most blessed; thou does moreover so cherish neighborly love and charity, that all the infirmities to which sinful souls are subject, find their most potent remedy in thee.
Childlike thou are in molding the child, strong
with the young man, gentle with the aged, dealing with each according to his
needs of mind and body. Thou does subject child to parent in a sort of free
servitude, and settest parent over child in a jurisdiction of love.
Thou bindest brethren to brethren by the bond of religion, stronger and closer then the bond of blood .... Thou unitest citizen to citizen, nation to nation, yea, all men, in a union not of companionship only, but of brotherhood, reminding them of their common origin. Thou teachest kings to care for their people, and biddest people to be subject to their kings. Thou teachest assiduously to whom honor is due, to whom love, to whom reverence, to whom fear, to whom comfort, to whom rebuke, to whom punishment; showing us that whilst not all things nor the same things are due to all, charity is due to all and offense to none."
Holy Familywith St John the Baptist and female Saint - Titian
'Such is our misery and
inclination to sin, that often in the very things considered to be remedies
against sin, we find occasions for and inducements to sin itself.'
(Cardinal Silvio Antoniavo)
Is this not the case with the new Vatican sex-education programme? From all accounts it may represent a real
'occasion of sin' for many young people. It is deeply disturbing, to say
the least, that such a programme has the imprimatur of Rome - 'Woe to himthat shall scandalise one of these My
little ones' - Jesus' own words! We hope in the light of the widespread
criticism, that the contents of the programme will be re-considered and amended, in line with the encyclical 'Divini Illius Magistri'. Finally, why has such an important encyclical as this been ignored? What
is the purpose of papal encyclicals if they are not used as points of reference
for similar encyclicals in later years?
of a Soul’, published eight months after the death of Pope John XXIII,
comprises the notes, spiritual thoughts and prayers, recorded by
the Pope himself from the age of fourteen until a few months before he died.
These notes, recorded in diaries and on loose notepaper, some
hand-written some typed, and kept near at hand by the Pope wherever he happened
to be, reflect the thoughts of a most humble priest, bishop, Pope, and saint. After his death they were annotated by his private secretary Don Loris Capovilla and published in book form. Cardinal Capovilla died in May this year, aged 100 years.
Basilica of San Carlo al Corso, Rome. Father Roncalli was consecrated Bishop here in March 1925, with the title of Archbishop of Areopolis (wikipedia commons. ack. Livioandronico2013)
The following extracts from ‘Journal of a Soul’, relate to the years 1945-1952 when Msgr Roncalli was Papal Nuncio in France.
Annual Retreat, 23-27 November, 1948. Held at the
Benedictine monastery of the Sacred Heart at En Calcat (Dourgne), and given by
the Abbe de Floris.
…………‘I have not been able to read much Holy Scripture during
this time. But I have carefully
meditated upon the General Epistle of James the Less. Its five chapters are a wonderful summary of
Christian life. The teaching about the
exercise of charity, the right use of the tongue, the power of the man of
faith, collaboration for peace, respect for others, the awful fate awaiting the
rich, unjust and hateful man, and finally the appeal for trust, hopefulness and
prayer …. All this and more make it an incomparable treasury of directives and
exhortations, particularly and alarmingly applicable to those of us who are
ecclesiastics, and to lay folk of all times.
One should learn it by heart and return to it from time to time to enjoy
the heavenly doctrine line by line. At
my time of life, on the threshold of my sixty-eighth year, there is nothing but
old age before me. But wisdom is there in the divine book. Here is an example:
wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his good works
in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition
in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from
above, but is earthly, un-spiritual, devilish.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder
and every vile practice. But the wisdom
from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy
and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in
peace by those who make peace’ (James 3:13-18)
Benedictine Monastery at En Calcat (Dourgne). (Ack. Wikipedia Commons Licence. Casablanca1950) **********
spiritual notes written during my brief retreat at Oran
6-9April, 1950, Thursday, Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Day.
‘The Bishop of Oran, Mgr Lacaste, has welcomed me with
brotherly hospitality, for which I am grateful to him. …. It is now a quarter
of a century since Holy Church
made me, poor and unworthy as I am, a Bishop, and I like to think of my past,
my present, and my future.
Holy Thursday: my past.
brought with me on this journey the bundles of spiritual reflections made
during these years, 1925-1950, to jolt me out of any complacency and inspire me
with repentance and an increase of Episcopal fervour, notes written on the
various retreats that I was able to make from year to year in Bulgaria,
Turkey and France. I have read them all over again, with calm,
as if in a confession, and I recite the Miserere, which is all my own, and the
Magnificat, which is entirely the Lord’s, as my penance and as an exercise in
sincere and trustful humility. At a distance of twenty-five years I have
re-read part of the notes I made in March, 1925, while preparing for my
impending Episcopal consecration. I then resolved: I will often re-read chapter
IX, book III of ‘The Imitation of Jesus
Christ’: ‘That all things are to be
referred to God as to their final end.’ This has impressed me profoundly in the
solitude of these last few days. Indeed, in these few words there is
everything! It was on the eve of my new life that I wrote this; I feel the same
way now, and so I enjoy returning to that time and reconsidering this teaching
of Christ’s after a quarter of a century of trials, weaknesses and recoveries,
although, thanks to the Lord, my will has remained firm, faithful and
convinced, in spite of all the seductions and temptations of the spirit of this
Mgr Roncalli, extreme right, Papal Nuncio to Turkey. Photograph taken in Istanbul, c. 1929/30
how much I thank you for having kept me faithful to this principle: ‘From me,
as from a living fountain, the humble and the great, the poor and the rich draw
the water of life.’ Ah, I am numbered among the humble and the poor! In Bulgaria,
the difficulties of my circumstances, even more than the difficulties caused by
men, and the monotony of that life which was one long sequence of daily pricks
and scratches, cost me much in mortification and silence. But your grace preserved my inner joy, which
helped me to hide my difficulties and distress.
the responsibilities of my pastoral work were at once a torment and a joy to
me. Could I not, should I not, have done more, have made a more decided effort
and gone against the inclination of my nature? Did the search for calm and
peace, which I considered to be more in harmony with the Lord’s spirit, not
perhaps mask a certain unwillingness to take up the sword, and a preference for
what was easiest and most convenient for me, even if gentleness has been
defined as the fullness of strength? O my Jesus, you search all hearts: the
exact point at which even the striving after virtue may lead to failure or
excess is known to you alone.
I feel it
is right not to boast of anything but to attribute all to your grace ‘without
which man has nothing, and very strictly do you demand my thanks in return’. So
myMagnificatis complete, as it should be. I like so much the expression: ‘My
merit, your mercy’ and St Augustine’s
words: ‘When you crown our merit youare crowning your own gifts.’
gratitude to you will never cease, Jesus: ‘For divine charity overcomes all and
enlarges the powers of the soul. I judge rightly, I rejoice in you alone, in
you alone I hope, “for none is good save God alone” (Luke 18:19), who is to be praised above all else, and blessed
in all things.’ So, as the conclusion of
my twenty-five years as Bishop, I put the last words of the same little chapter
of ‘The Imitation’ with which I began them. I still have, to the proper
mortification of my spirit, the memory of my faults, ‘in thought, word, and
deed’, which are so many, so very many in twenty-five years. But I still have
also my unalterable faith in my daily Sacrifice, the divine and immaculate Host,
offered ‘for mycountless sins, offences, and negligences’. Twenty-five years
of Episcopal Masses, offered with all the splendour of good intentions, and all
the dust of the road, oh, what a mystery of mingled grace and shame! The grace
of Jesus’ tender love given as ‘Bishop and Shepherd’ to his chosen priest, the
shame of the priest who finds his consolation only in trustful self-surrender.
Good Friday: my
Last night I said Matins by myself: this morning in chapel I
said the Hours with the Miserere four times and today’s liturgy, uniting myself
in spirit as I followed it in my Missal, as if I were attending the ceremony in
some great church, or as if I were still presiding over it in Sofia, or in the
Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Istanbul.
here I am then, still alive, in my sixty-ninth year, prostrate over the
crucifix, kissing the face of Christ and his sacred wounds, kissing his heart,
laid bare in his pierced side; here I am showing my love and grief. How could I
not feel grateful to Jesus, finding myself still young and robust of body,
spirit and heart? 'Know thyself’: this keeps me humble and without pretensions.
Some people feel admiration and affection for my humble person: but thanks be
to God, I still blush for myself, my insufficiencies and my unworthiness in
this important position where the Holy Father has placed me, and still keeps
me, out of the kindness of his heart. For some time past I have cultivated
simplicity, which comes very easily for me, cheerfully defying all those clever
people who, looking for the qualities required in a diplomat of the Holy See,
prefer the outer covering to the sound, ripe fruit beneath. And I keep true to
my principle which seems to me to have a place of honour in the Sermon on the
Mount: blessed are the poor, the meek, the peacemakers, the merciful, those who
hunger and thirst for righteousness, the pure in heart, the sufferingand the
persecuted. My present, then, is spent in faithful service to Christ, who was
obedient and was crucified, words I repeat so often at this season: ‘Christ was
made obedient.’ So I must be meek and humble like him, glowing with divine
charity, ready for sacrifice or for death, for him or for his Church.
journey in North Africa has brought home to me more
vividly the problem of the conversion of the peoples without the faith. The
whole life and purpose of the Church, of the priesthood, of true and good
diplomacy is there: ‘Give me souls; take all the rest.’
Chapel in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Istanbul. Dedicated to Pope St John XXIII, who as Msgr Roncalli, was Papal Nuncio to Turkey.
Holy Saturday: my
When one is nearly seventy, one cannot be sure of the
future. ‘The years of our life are three score and ten, and even if we are
strong enough to reach the age of eighty, yet these years are but toil and
vanity; they are soon passed and we also pass away’ (Psalm 89:10-11). So it is
no use nursing any illusions: I must make myself familiar with the thought of
the end, not with dismay which saps the will, but with confidence which
preserves our enthusiasm for living, working and serving. Some time ago I
resolved to bear constantly in mind this reverent expectation of death, this
joy which ought to be my soul’s last happiness when it departs from this life.
I need not become wearisome to others by speaking frequently of this; but I
must always think of it, because the consideration of death, the judicium mortis, when it has become a
familiar thought, is good and useful for the mortification of vanity and for
infusing into everything a sense of moderation and calm. As regards temporal
matters, I will revise my will once more. I am poor, thank God, and I mean to
As for my
soul, I shall try to make the flame burn more brightly, making the most of the
time that remains as it passes more swiftly away. Therefore, total detachment
from the things of this world, dignities, honours, things that are precious in
themselves or greatly prized. I want to
redouble my efforts to complete the publication of the ‘Visita Apostolica di
San Carlo Borromeo a Bergamo’, but
I am also ready to accept the mortification of having to give this up.
some who, to flatter me, speak of the Cardinalate. Nothing here of any interest to me. I repeat what I have
already written. Were this not to happen, as is quite possible, I shall think
this also was predestined, and thank God for it.
For the rest,
on my return to Paris I shall
resume my ordinary life without impatience, but with absolute fidelity to my
duty and to the service of the Holy See, with care, with charity and patience,
and in close union with Jesus, my King, my Master, my God, with Mary, my sweet
Mother, and with St. Joseph, my dear friend, model and protector.
Mgr Roncalli - Papal Nuncio to France c.1945
comfort myself with the thought that the souls that I have known, loved and
still love are now almost all in the other world, waiting and praying for me.
Will the Lord call me soon to the heavenly fatherland? Here I am, ready. I beg
him to take me only at a good moment. Has he perhaps reserved for me many more
years of life? I will be grateful for them, but always implore him not to leave
me on this earth when I have become an encumbrance and of no further use to Holy
Church. But in this also the Lord’s
holy will, that is enough.
I end these
notes to the sound of the Easter bells ringing from the Cathedral of the Sacred
Heart nearby, and I remember with joy my last Easter homily in Istanbul, when I
preached on the words of St Gregory Nazzen, ‘the will of God is our peace’.
Coat of Arms - Pope John XXIII. Motto: Obedientia et Pax
The following three poems are taken from 'The Mary Book' an anthology of poems and writings by different authors, assembled by F.J.Sheed, and first published by Sheed and Ward, London and New York, in 1950.
Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)
In a Boat by Hilaire
Lady! Lady! Upon Heaven-height, Above the harsh morning In the mere Light.
Above the spendthrift And above the snow, Where no seas tumble, And no winds blow.
The twisting tides And the perilous sands Upon all sides Are in your holy hands.
The wind harries And the cold kills; But I see your chapel Over far hills.
My body is frozen, My soul is afraid; Stretch out your hands to
me, Mother and maid.
Mother of Christ, And Mother of me, Save me alive From the howl of the sea.
If you will mother me Till I grow old, I will hang in your chapel A ship of pure gold. Hillaire Belloc
Song to Our Lady
- Medieval: author unknown
Of one that is so fair and
bright Velut maris stella, - as the star of the sea, Brighter than the day is
light, Parens et puella. - Mother and maid. I cry to thee to turn to
me; Lady, pray thy Son for me, Tam pia. - So loving. That I may come to thee, Maria. – Mary.
In sorrow, counsel, thou
art best, Felix fecundate: - Happy and with offspring: For all the weary thou art
rest, Mater honorata: - Honourable Mother: Beseech Him in thy mildest
mood, Who for us did shed His
blood In Cruce, - On the Cross, That we may come to Him In luce. - In light.
All this world was forlorn, Eva peccatrice, - From Eve a sinner, Till Our Saviour Lord was
born De te genetrice; - Of thee Mother; With thy Ave sin went away, Dark night went and in came
day Salutis. - Of salvation. The well of healing sprang
from thee, Virtutis. - Of virtue.
Lady, flower of everything, Rosa sine spina, - Rose without a thorn, Thou borest Jesus, Heaven’s
King, Gratia Divina. - Grace Divine. Of all I say thou borest
the prize, Lady, Queen of Paradise Electa: - Elect: Maiden mild, Mother Es effecta. - Thou are become.
Well He knows He is thy
Son, Ventre quem portasti: - Whom thou didst bear in
thy womb: He will not refuse thy
bone, Parvum quem lactasti: - Whom thou didst suckle as
a baby: So courteous and so good He
is, He hath brought us to our
bliss Superni. - Of heaven. Who hast shut up the dark
foul pit Inferni. - Of hell. Medieval - author unknown.
Caryll Houselander (1901-1954)
The Reed by Caryll Houselander
She is a reed, straight and simple, growing by a lake in Nazareth:
a reed that is empty, until the Breath of God fills it with infinite music:
and the breath of the
Spirit of Love utters the Word of God through an empty reed.
The Word of God is infinite music in a little reed:
it is the sound of a
Virgin’s heart, beating in the solitude of
adoration: it is a girl’s voice speaking to an angel, answering for the whole
it is the sound of the
heart of Christ, beating within the Virgin’s
heart; it is the pulse of God, timed by the breath of a
The circle of a girl’s arms has changed the world – the round and sorrowful
world to a cradle for God.
She has laid love in His
cradle: in every cot Mary has laid her Child.
In each comes Christ; in each Christ comes to birth; comes Christ from the
Mother’s breast, as the bird from the sun returning- returning again to the tree
he knows, and the nest, to last year’s rifled nest.
Into our hands Mary has given her Child: heir to the world’s tears, heir to the world’s toil, heir to the world’s scars, heir to the chill dawn over the ruin of wars.
She has laid love in His
cradle, answering, for us all, “Be it done unto me”:
The child in the wooden
bed, the light in the dark
house, the life in the failing
soul, the Host in the priest’s
hands, the seed in the hard earth, the man who is child again- quiet in the burial bands, waiting his birth.
Mary, Mother of God, we are the poor soil and the dry dust; we are hard with a cold
Be warmth to the world; be the thaw, warm on the cold frost; be the thaw that melts, that the tender shoot of
Christ, piercing the hard heart, flower to a spring in us.
Be hands that are rocking
the world to a kind rhythm of love: that the incoherence of war and the chaos of our unrest be soothed to a lullaby; and the round and sorrowful
world, in your hands, the cradle of God.
Caryll Houselander N.B. If you, like me, enjoy the writings of Caryll Houselander, you will find further works by her on this website (umblepie), with direct link through the sidebar. 'The Rosary' on 18.1.12; 'Philip Speaks' on 4.8.14; and 'Advent' on 18.11.15.
'God has created ME
to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has
not committed to another. I have my mission - I may never
know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection
between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do
good, I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a
preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it - if I do but
keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.' BlessedJohn Henry Newman
'Cardinal Newman' (1801-1890) by John Everett Millais
Prayer for the beatification of Bishop Richard Challoner, Bishop of Debra, Vicar Apostolic of the London District 1758-1781. O God, who didst make thy servant Richard a true and faithful pastor of thy little flock in England, deign to place him among the Blessed in Thy Church, so that we who profit by his word and example, may beg his help in heaven for the return of this land to the ancient faith, and to the fold of the one true Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Slightly frayed around the edges and still trying to pretend that I'm not really as old as that! I thank God for all my blessings, particularly my Catholic faith; my wife a 'pearl of great price'; my children and grandchildren; my friends; our dog Dartmoor; and our good neighbours and spiritual mentors, the F.SS.R community from Papa Stronsay.