Contemplatio, consideratio & caritas

A triverberate (!) of Latin words does not make for good “clickbait”, but this is for the serious reader not the passing internet surfer. All will soon be clear enough.

Today the Order of St Benedict keeps the feast of Scholastica, the sister of St Benedict (and he, not she, is the patron saint of Benedictine nuns, for the record). Glimpses into her life can be gleaned from Book 2 of the Dialogues of Pope St Gregory the Great (or, in the eastern Church, St Gregory the Dialogist). A homage to his spiritual master, it was written between 593 and 594, less than 50 years after the death of Benedict. The relevant passage was read this morning at Matins, St Gregory as narrator: Continue reading “Contemplatio, consideratio & caritas”

A Late-Night Counsel to the Bold and the Beautiful

In the past 24 hours a previous post here, Vale Vatican II from last September, has received some attention on two very worthwhile, tradition-minded websites: Liturgy Guy and 1 Peter 5. I am grateful and gratified because these are sites which hold clear views directly expressed but season them with intelligent commentary and coherent argument.

As so often on a wide range of websites, religious or otherwise, the comments’ section—the combox for short—reveals a less attractive side to debate and argument. No doubt most of these commenters are decent people of faith, capable of high emotion in defence of the Church and its faith and worship, and brave enough to stand up and be counted for it. However, some of them, invariably laity, while so bold and beautiful in the profession of their faith, sometimes fall into the trap that the internet lays for us: indiscretion. Continue reading “A Late-Night Counsel to the Bold and the Beautiful”

Of Dom and Chant: Benedictine Flashbacks

At present I am putting together the next edition of the monastery’s annual magazine. For this I needed to scan some images from the bound volume containing past magazines from 1924. In my skim-search for the images two little articles came into my ken.

Dom

The monks of Douai sit rather loose to the traditional appellation of Benedictine monks, Dom. Some of our current monks are quite passionately against this title, to which an English Benedictine (EBC) monk is entitled (literally) from first profession. The animus is partly for particular personal reasons in some cases. In the main, however, it probably reflects the consistent commitment of the monks of St Edmund’s to the English mission dating from penal times, and which has developed today into our parochial apostolate. On a parish, priests are called Father, not Dom. So when Downside stirred the EBC pot from the latter part of the 19th century, with its zeal for the cloister and more primitive observance and its consequent partial retreat from the missions, the old houses were confronted with the question of identity. Were we monks or missioners first? The sons of St Edmund at Douai inclined to the missionary identity, in contrast to the Downside inclination to the cloister.

But are the options Father and Dom so neatly and accurately explained in the EBC context? Continue reading “Of Dom and Chant: Benedictine Flashbacks”

Conservative: You’re Using It Wrong (Probably)

Yesterday’s radicals are today’s old farts. This is a loose quotation of something I read somewhere recently. It was to do with la bise, the French tradition of kissing each other on the cheek as a greeting. In the 1960s the student protestors promoted it as an instrument of social equalisation and hierarchical disintegration. Now a French provincial mayor is refusing to give la bise to her colleagues because, given its own conventions, it is sexist and time-wasting (with up to 73 colleagues to kiss each morning one can have some sympathy for her). The question looms: will yesterday’s radicals who championed it rush to its defence or conform to this new, emerging orthodoxy? Will they be conservatives or conformists?

Hang on! Aren’t “conservative” and “conformist” synonyms? Surely a conservative is one who does not like change and conforms to the status quo? The problem lies in the definition of conservative:

Averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values

In the modern context this seems a highly problematic, even obsolete, definition. For the status quo today is anything but traditional. Continue reading “Conservative: You’re Using It Wrong (Probably)”

A Papal Clarification

A recent exchange on another’s Facebook page made me think. The exchange, centring on an article on the Patheos site, saw both the author and the some commenters admonishing those who took umbrage at the recent papal pronouncements on the Lord’s Prayer (and others), to quite whingeing and just get on with being good Catholics.

Of course, we should always be good Catholics, but must we really be content to sit in silence in the face of the most alarming papal phenomena for a long time?

Pope Francis is not evil. He is the pope. His papal court is the most disedifying in recent history. But that is another story. Our purpose at present is the person of the pope. Continue reading “A Papal Clarification”

Paternostergate

Yet again the pope has captured the headlines of the mainstream secular press, both in the UK and the USA, as elsewhere. The coverage is generally laudatory, with +Francis presented as courageously facing sacred cows that have had their day, or never should have had a day at all. The issue this time, as you know, is the Lord’s Prayer. Pope Francis feels that “lead us not into temptation” is “not a good translation”. A father does not “push” his child into temptation, but only Satan leads into temptation, and we can fall or not. Well, that’s his case in a nutshell.

Others, Christopher Altieri for example, are addressing this more comprehensively than I can. Some are more shrill than others. The points they raise are salient in the main.

There are just two things I would dare to note.

The first is that, Continue reading “Paternostergate”

Confronting the non-binary fallacy

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Above is a depressing little advisory from the current edition of The Week. It reads like something from a fantastically dystopian novel about the future from the 1950s or 60s. It is the sort of thing at which we would have cackled in derision on reading. Now it is reality; or rather, what passes for reality. Dystopian it most certainly is; self-destructive, indubitably.

The first reaction on reading of a man referring to himself as “they” was the memory of Mark 5:9. Yet it is disturbing on levels not quite so immediate to the mind.

Last week we celebrated the memorial of St Gertrude the Great, a Saxon nun of 13th-century of Helfta—a monastery which was a nursery of saints at the time. Thinking on things with a view to a homilette, what came to the fore was the nuptial mysticism of this great saint. Her intense devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whatever else it might be, should be seen as the logical development of her nuptial mysticism. Continue reading “Confronting the non-binary fallacy”