Saturday, November 05, 2016



In itself, freedom is empty; it does not exist in and for itself as such. Nor is it a magician's hat, into which one can put or out of which one can pull all kinds of things. Freedom in general does not exist; only the freedom of something, in something, from something, to something, or for something, exists. Freedom is only a predicate, which can be predicated in relation to different concepts or essences, and it is more negative or delimiting than positive in its application.
[Sergius Bulgakov, The Bride of the Lamb, Boris Jakim, tr., Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI: 2002) p. 125.]

Friday, November 04, 2016

Dashed Off XXV

Half of discovery is knowing what you already have.

rhetorical self-repair

naming as causal summation

Everything that can be a sign may become a word in prayer.

Adam in the garden named the animals, making them such that he could pray with them as signs. But he found none who could pray with him as one like himself. Thus from his side God raised a help appropriate to him, one fit to pray with him.

Logical systems are constituted as logical symbolisms by operation orders of precedence.

being and non-being operators in a logic of analogy (cf hume)

Aristotle treats syllogistic mood as a combination of premises.

classification-based validity (Socrates is a man; therefore Socrates is an animal)

What is tempting about lust (and makes it intrinsically excessive) is not its pleasures but its desires.

Large-scale corruption is most often driven by political and economic incentives.

The Adam, God's Son (cp Luke 3), named the animals (//created them) but found no help fit for Him. Thus God put a deep sleep on Him (the Cross) and drew from His side (whence flowed saving blood and water) a helpmeet (the Church).

"Grace purifies sin." Ephrem

the spiritual gift of piety as ultimate anti-savagery (ST 2-2.159)

families of argument for external world
(1) sensory causation
(2) intersubjective medium
(3) indirect requirement
(4) involuntary regularity

Prudence requires considering not only the possible but also the impossible, so that what happens in the possible may be better understood.

God as condition of the possibility of semiosis

Loyalty, trustworthiness, and tradition are interrelated.

occasional cause: "an imperfect, and not always an accidental, cause" (ST 2-2.43.1 ad 3)

How does negation function in analogical inference?
- negation in analogical inference would seem to have to be non-infinitizing (more like kind/unkind than man/whatever is not a man)

The right to material goods follows from, and is based on, the right to higher goods.

Securing command of the sea
(1) decisive battle
(2) blockade
Disputing command of the sea
(1) active defensive operations (the fleet in being)
(2) minor counter-attack
Exercising command of the sea
(1) defense against invasions
(2) attack and defense of commerce
(3) attack, defense, and support of military expeditions
[cp Corbett]

"If we assume the maxim that the first duty of our fleet is to seek out the enemy wherever he may be, it means in its nakedness that we merely conform to the enemy's dispositions and movements. It is open to him to lead us wherever he likes." Corbett

opposition to
charity in itself : pride
charity in its act of love : hatred
charity in its act of joy
:: for neighbor
:::: in spiritual good : envy
:::: in material good : lust
:: for self
:::: in spiritual good : sloth
:::: in material good : gluttony
charity in its act of peace
:: in will : discord
:: in speech : contention
:: in spiritual unity : schism
:: in deed : strife
:: between peoples : war
:: in political unity : sedition
charity in its act of mercy
:: as beneficence : scandal
:: as almsdeed : greed
:: as fraternal correction : wrath

"All succor given to our neighbor is reduced to the precept about honoring our parents." (ST 2-2.32.5 ad 4)

Direct persuasion by argument generally proceeds by exhaustion of discernible options for evasion.

nomen naturam loquitur (Hilary DT 6.14)
nomen naturae significatio (Hilary DT 7.9)

That the devil is frightened of Eastern Catholics is suggested by the sheer vehemence and often systematicity with which people have been driven to put them down.

If baptism is birth into the family of God, confirmation/chrismation is investment with rights and privileges within the household. Note that this applies regardless of the customary timing of the sacrament.

the Athanasian Creed and the conditions of sublimity

Utilitarianism puts the ultimate end of human will in finite good.

common sense as the natural method of selecting leaders

We interact with body as being in a way substance in a way quantity.

lines, surfaces, and bodies as simply limited measurable quantity in various dimensions

act/potency analysis as related to principiation

human naming as part of human evidence-making

universal facial expressions as a template for emotional moods of argument

The first principle in any complete theological account of Tradition would have to be divine missions in Trinitarian theology.

A key part of prudence consists in cultivating the resources for self-discipline. (Note that this links up to remote and proximate occasions of sin.)

the relation between prudence and occasional causation

3 acts of ownership: management, distribution, use

Recognizing that it is possible for anything to be infinite requires already having the idea of the infinite.

One of the major forms of success an argument can have (and one of the most common) is to establish that a dispute or question primarily turns on one or two points.

Kokko, kokoo koko kokko kokoon.

the Reserved Sacrament as relic
- relics as symbols of sacramental presence

One cannot properly love one's neighbor if one despises in oneself what one shares with one's neighbors.

"Free play of chemical processes can only take place in a corpse; in a living body these processes are connected and determined by organic purposes. Similarly, free play of economic factors and laws is only possible in a community that is dead and decomposing, while in a living community that has a future, economic elements are coordinated with and determined by moral ends." Soloviev

The sacrament of matrimony makes generation an instrument of regeneration.

A catechism, being a summary, by its nature presupposes a background to be understood (a background found in community, in liturgy, in authority, and in reason).

vagueness as ostension or demonstration defeat

immersion method approach to philosophy

beautiful vs ugly pleasure-seeking

A correct understanding of bodily integrity as a moral notion requires recognizing chastity as contributing to it.

the advisory power of Rome
the tribunal power of Rome
the council-forming power of Rome
the council-sealing power of Rome

anticipation, extrapolation, analogy, interlinking

disparity as key to interpretation

As a catechism cannot include everything, nor its compilers foresee every question that might arise, nor its readers properly interpret it without the relevant context of the Church, a catechism on its own will sometimes be merely approximate even if accurate to that approximation.

propositions as operating within a background system of classification

memory as a form of classification

hierarchy of constitution: natural law, customary law, contract/statute, political liberty

pooling of ideas, cooperative distribution, hierarchical cascade, persuasion

love as structuring possibilities of reasoning

perverse and nonperverse incentives in ecclesiastical organizations

the constraint of Babel on theological precision
the constraint of original sin on theological precision
the constraint of divine inenerrability on theological precision

traditions as incentive structures

divine hiddenness arguments as requiring a repudiation of Platonism (exemplarity)

The rise in emphasis on the Doctors of the Church seems linked to the expansion of the literate laity.

Sedevacantists generally founder on the necessarily juridical character of deposition.

The role of the bishop as original minister of confirmation establishes that the sacrament concerns in part the unity of the Church.

the charisms of particular churches

theories of times // theories of words

A theory of fallacies is in reality a theory of different kinds of irrelevance.

Authority extends beyond the power to bind.

tradition as trajectory and momentum

fasting as symbol for focus on intelligible (withdrawal from food // withdrawal from sensible)

A representation requires a cause adequate to establish that representation.

construction-reasoning vs maintenance-reasoning

"Being fond of truth, I am an admirer of antiquity." Analects 7.1

fallible magisterium as laying down operational objectives

point-failure sources in rational cascades

the double character of epiclesis: transformation of gifts and transformation of us

It is the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in particular that forms the basis for the position that it is the epiclesis that consecrates -- Nicephorus et al. argue for that position on the basis of its being what the prayer clearly and explicitly says. But this is not strictly true of the Liturgy of St. Basil, which uses weaker terms in a more nuanced prayer.
The strongest argument for epicletic consecration is that of Cabasilas: the epiclesis is what applies the words of institution to the gifts.
(cp. Isidore of Kieve's analogy that the words of institution are a seed that by epiclesis is made fruit.)
Scholarios explicitly holds for institutional consecration, taking the epiclesis to be an expression of commemoration and a way of referring the whole work to God.

Sanctity must be lived and embodied.

nirvana as a symbol of humility before God (aneantisement)

ritual as shared memory

mercy as overflow of love, joy, and peace


I recently got around to watching X-Men: Apocalypse, and it is indeed a big-budget mediocrity. Setting aside the fact that structurally it should have begun about halfway in, one of the things that often seemed jarring was something for which I have no name, but which might be called its filmlook.

By 'filmlook' I don't quite mean the look of it, and I have difficulty pinning down precisely the difference. But perhaps it can be conveyed by example. Almost any decent-sized budget science fiction movie produced today will have aliens, ships, and the like, with a better look than you can find in the 1953 War of the Worlds. But this doesn't usually translate into better filmlook. The 1953 movie, which won a very well deserved Academy Award for visual effects, has an integrated aesthetic with a coherent and balanced set of visuals, and the ships look very good in the context of the film. Any hang-ups about realism occur well outside the experience of actually watching the film.

We see this also with horror movies -- the monsters today look a lot better as monsters, but this doesn't always mean better filmlook, which often gives us the paradox of more realistic monsters looking more fake, or things that would be more scary in real life coming across as much less scary. In zombie movies, for instance, the old-fashioned slow zombies, for all that you can make fun of their snail's pace, consistently have a better filmlook than more modern swift zombies; the former allow for creepiness, but the latter only startle. It's often the reason why less-is-more is so important for horror and the like -- one good scene with great filmlook is worth a thousand scenes, however impressive visually, without it.

The visuals for Prometheus (to use a franchise with an SF-horror blend) were stunning, but if you compare it to Alien, where the visuals are often less impressive in themselves, the latter has better filmlook almost across the board. This is obviously true of the alien-monsters, but in fact once you recognize it you start noticing it throughout even in things like how rooms are set up. The earlier movie has visuals that are often deliberately dingy and sterile, nothing impressive to look at compared to the lush and weird novelties of the latter, but they make a real contribution to the entire movie and 'fit' better. The distinction is easiest to see with monsters, but it's really about the visual role of something in the larger spectacle of the movie.

In X-Men: Apocalypse, the filmlook is very uneven. The Quicksilver scene has both brilliant visuals and excellent filmlook -- really, at this point, one almost the X-Men franchise should just have a movie of Quicksilver repeatedly saving the day -- although one could perhaps argue that while it tops the Quicksilver scene in Days of Future Past in look, the latter still trumps it in filmlook. But most of Apocalypse has very poor filmlook despite have impressive visuals -- the aesthetic is mish-mash, the choreography of the big fight film often comes across as fake, the impressive visuals often don't really do anything for the scenes of which they are a part, transitions from visual to visual are sometimes jarring in a way that disrupts the story rather than furthering it, and so forth.

Good filmlook won't always save a film. Oblivion is an example of a movie with excellent filmlook that just comes across as flat overall -- it's a movie, I think, where it's hard to point to anything that was done wrong and yet somehow it doesn't really stick with you. But in a visual medium, getting the visuals right for that particular use of the medium is going to cover a lot of sins. And not getting them right in context will sap most of the value out any spectacle, however impressive it might be in itself.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Philosophic Treatment of the History of Philosophy

A philosophic treatment of the history of philosophy takes an interest, like the merely learned, in the finest differences of systems, admits, with the sceptics, that they conflict with one another, and concedes to the eclectics that there is truth in all. Hence it neither loses sight of the thread of growing knowledge, like the first, nor regards the result as nil, like the second, nor, like the third, recognises in every system only pieces of developed truth, but the whole truth only in an undeveloped form. And thus it does not, like the first, beguile us into regarding philosophic doctrines as mere fancies and opinions, nor does it, like the second, shake the confidence in reason necessary to philosophy, nor lastly does it, like the eclectic method, make us indifferent towards dependence on a principle, i.e. towards systematic form.

Johann Eduard Erdmann, A History of Philosophy, Volume 1. Hough, tr. Macmillan (New York: 1893) pp. 3-4. Previously, Erdmann characterized the 'merely learned' approached as one that, practically speaking, treats all philosophical systems as equally true (thus treating the subject as a history of mere opinions), the skeptical approach as one that treats them all as equally false (thus treating the subject as a history of mere error), and the eclectic approach as one that treats all as delivering fragments of truth. In none of these three is the study of the history of philosophy treated as a properly philosophical enterprise in its own right.

Two Poem Drafts and a Poem Re-Draft

Walking in Eden

Where righteous rivers run, smooth is the sunlight!
The sun-bearing grove, the hallow-wood, shines;
the foliage fails not, falls not, the leaf-blade is bright,
vast beams of trees rise up verdantly to the skies.
Winter season, summer season, the woods drape with blossom;
leaves know no withering, the trees never forget.
Their leaf-laden limbs bear fruit, thick on bough,
vital and vivid; their vestments never fade.
The blooms, unfalling and unfallowed, color-bursting,
dress lofty arms of trees; a rainbow on the branches.
A holiness drips from the flame-brilliant rose,
freshness in air and green, cleanness in breath and mind,
a never-ending dew from the never-failing vine.

Dewdrop and Candlelight

The dewdrop slips into the shining sea.
Not the dew but the sea am I.
The deep of the world slips into me
and, joined to me, it does not die.

The candle shines in light of the sun,
its light is mingled and entwined;
the light of self and world are one,
the candle's beam burns small in mine.

Angels with Their Feline Faces

Angels with their feline faces
soar through endless empty spaces,
meow a song of godly graces;
they sport in ecstasy.
Every wing like wild flowers
sparkles with hope's hidden power,
turning minute into hour
and aeviternity.
   Play the tambrel and the drum;
   Juda's lion is now come.

Whiskers white with zeal are burning,
wheels in wheels of love are turning,
emblems of some endless yearning,
in spheres most heavenly.
Eyes like slits of holy fire,
sparks of infinite desire,
pour out light in swaying gyre
of cosmic liturgy.
   Lions roar above my head,
   praising Zion newly wed.

Like a shawm for holy masses,
or wind through spiring garden grasses,
prayer of the saints now passes
in angelic harmony.
Every halo holds a story,
wraps around the world with glory,
burns the very heavens hoary
with frosty dignity.
   Send the message far and wide:
   the Lion-Lamb has wed his Bride!

These ministers of wind and flame,
moving in their spirit-game,
praise the everlasting name
of true divinity.
A purr goes out throughout the ages:
though the dragon shouts and rages
his doom is writ in sacred pages
of God's vitality.
   Rejoice, for they have slain the Beast;
   rejoice and join the wedding feast!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Maronite Year LXXXI

Since last Sunday was the last Sunday of the Maronite liturgical year, and this is the last significant feast after the last Sunday, this is the last post in this series; we have gone an entire year around the Maronite calendar.

Feast of All Souls
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Luke 16:19-31

O Holy Lord, on the day of judgment,
when those on the right receive their reward,
when those on the left discover their shame,
when the fire of judgment divides the two,
bringing enlightenment to the elect
and darkness and flame to the unrighteous,
so all receive their right inheritance,
may the faithful meet You with bright faces
and dwell in light in heavenly mansions,
in Zion's eternal sanctuary,
in Jerusalem, the city of saints.
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
may they through baptism merit Your glory,
and through love pouring down see Your true face.
Through Your endless mercies, pardon their faults,
clothe them with the appearance of angels,
array them with the honor of martyrs,
that they may offer praise to Your great name,
singing before You with joyous faces.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Maronite Year LXXX

Feast of All Saints
Hebrews 12:18-24; Matthew 5:1-12

We remember the prophets and the apostles,
teachers of truth to the whole world,
the virgins and the martyrs, exalted and crowned,
and all the children of the Church,
and Mary, Mother of God, who welcomes them all.
In earnest faith they have received
the holy body and the holy blood of Christ;
they laid down to sleep in His hope.
O Christ, the righteous sleep in faith,
hoping in Your resurrection,
awaiting for Your return in splendid victory,
with a reward eye has not seen,
with a gift ear has not heard, nor the heart conceived,
glory beyond imagining.
Their names, Lord, You have written in the book of life;
their spirits have been made complete;
to them shall come the inheritance of heaven.

All Saints

Let us hold fast, then, by the faith we profess. We can claim a great high priest, and one who has passed right up through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God. It is not as if our high priest was incapable of feeling for us in our humiliations; he has been through every trial, fashioned as we are, only sinless. Let us come boldly, then, before the throne of grace, to meet with mercy, and win that grace which will help us in our needs.

Theodore of Tarsus

Theodore was born in Tarsus in about 602. It was a time of great upheaval in the East, with the wars between the Byzantine Empire and the Sassanid Empire severely crippling both sides. When Theodore was still just a boy, the Persians conquered all the area around which he lived, including not only Tarsus but such important sites as Antioch and Jerusalem. The Persians were tough overlords, but they too fell before a new foe who was sometimes even harsher -- in the 630s Muslim Arab armies swept up and conquered the Levant, and many Greek-speaking refugees fled to the West. It is likely that Theodore was among the earliest of these. He studied at Constantinople and then went West with a group of monks to Rome, there, it seemed, to live out his days in contemplation. However, at the Synod of Whitby in 634 the bishops in England had decided to strengthen their ties with Rome, and when the See of Canterbury fell vacant in 637, King Ecgberht of Kent and King Oswiu of Northumbria agreed to send the bishop-elect, Wighard, to Rome -- we don't know for sure if the intent was that he might be merely confirmed in office and given the pallium or whether he was to be consecrated as well, because the sources we have are confused about whether Wighard ever actually served in the See. But Wighard, in any case, died when he got to Rome, so Pope St. Vitalian had to consider a possible replacement. On the recommendation of St. Hadrian (often called today St. Adrian of Canterbury), St. Vitalian chose Theodore, who was consecrated as the archbishop of Canterbury in 668 and arrived in Kent (with St. Hadrian) in 669. He was nearly seventy, but seems to have been quite active. He called the important Synod of Hertford in 673, which instituted major reforms, and the even more important Council of Hatfield in 680, which brought the results of the Third Council of Constantinople to England. He conducted a thorough survey of the needs of the church in England, consecrated bishops, entered into an intensive dispute over jurisdiction with St. Wilfrid of Northumbria (one of a long line of disputes in the struggle between Canterbury and York for primacy), prevented a major war between Mercia and Northumbria, established a school at Canterbury with St. Hadrian's help, and reformed the curriculum of education for priests and monks. He died peacefully in 690. His feast is celebrated on September 19.

Nilus the Younger

Nilo of Rossano was born in Greek-speaking Southern Italy in the tenth century. He considered becoming a monk, but married instead; after his wife's death, he joined a Basilian monastery. It was a tumultuous time, though, and he ended up moving around to a number of different monasteries, due to Saracen pirates or political disputes disrupting various places he stayed. At one point he even lived in the woods as a hermit. His reputation began to spread, however, and eventually a member of the Byzantine nobility asked the Benedictine monks at Monte Cassino to help Nilus and other monks who gathered around him to found a new monastery. So Nilus came to Monte Cassino. It took some adjustment by both sides -- it's unclear exactly what raised questions, whether it was the Byzantine rite itself or the fact that they could not follow the Greek language. However, he spent some time discussing the details with them, noting that he followed the same rite recognized by the Fathers and the Councils, but that the Latin rite was also good, because God accepted any worthy sacrifice. He convinced them that it was the same liturgy, allowing for differences in language and custom, and that the Basilian rule his monks followed was the same in spirit as the Benedictine rule that they followed. They gave him full support, and helped him set up a monastery at Valleluce, which then later moved to Serperi. However, once when on a journey to visit another monastery, he fell very sick, and while sick had a vision of the Virgin Mary, telling him that the place he fell sick was to be, finally, the permanent home for his monks. Not long after, Gregory, the Count of Tusculum, happened to donate that very land to the monk. Nilus made the preparations to move his monks to their new home, but died before any new buildings could actually be built for them. But the monastery was indeed built, the Abbey of Grottaferrata, which still exists today, the last of the once-common Byzantine Rite monasteries of Italy. He is commemorated on September 26.

Anne Line

Anne was probably born as Alice Higham in a Puritan family; 'Anne' seems to be the name that she took when she converted to Catholicism with her brother William Higham and a family friend, Roger Line; all three were disinherited as a result of their conversion. She married Roger in 1583. It was not to be blissful; Roger and William were arrested for attending Mass, and while William was eventually released, Roger was exiled to Flanders. Anne herself was often sick. But while Roger was in Flanders, occasionally sending back what money he could until he died not long after, the local priest, the daring Fr. John Gerard, set up a refuge for Catholic priests on the run, and Anne became integral to its operation. When Fr. John was caught and imprisoned in the Tower of London, she continued to run it by herself for about three years until Fr. John managed to escape. Because of the notoriety of the escape, Anne had to close down the house and set up a different arrangement for hiding priests from the law. But on the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady in 1601, she had an unusual number of Catholics show up for Mass, and neighbors noticing the crowd called the police. The priest at the Mass, Fr. Francis Page, managed to escape by means of the priest-hole, but Anne Line was arrested and sent to Newgate Prison. She was sentenced to death for the felony of assisting a priest and was hung on February 27. The case had some notoriety, and Anne is sometimes argued to be the referent of various allusions in Shakespeare. She was beatified by Pius XI in 1929 and canonized by Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Mark Ji Tianxiang

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, in response to the interference of Western powers, China began to be swept up in an intense anti-foreigner frenzy, which reached its peak with the so-called Boxer Rebellion between 1899 and 1901. Christians, whether foreign or not, were often regarded as foreign spies by the Boxers, and the violence against them was brutal. Thousands of Christians died. Among these was Mark Ji Tianxiang, who was an opium addict. He had suffered from the addiction for decades, always trying to break free but always being dragged back by the cravings. Because of it, he was barred from communion, but he never wavered in his faith. He was seized in July of 1900 with a large number of others and given the opportunity to recant his faith. He refused, and was killed at the age of 66. He is honored with a large number of Chinese martyrs on July 9.

Maria Elisabetta Hesselbad

Nineteenth century Scandinavia was sometimes a difficult place to make ends meet, and Maria Elizabeth Hesselbad, a Lutheran from Sweden, found it so. She eventually ended up migrating to the United States in order to study nursing and, hopefully, make a better life for herself. For experience, she began home nursing, and had her first close contact with Catholicism -- that of the poor patients she was helping. In order to better assist them, she began studying the Catholic faith, and converted in New York in 1902. She made a pilgrimage to Rome, where she as confirmed, and there visited the house of St. Bridget of Sweden. Not long afterward, she petitioned Pope Pius X to take religious vows under the original rule established St. Bridget, with the intention of founding a convent where St. Bridget had lived. The Pope gave permission, and she took her vows, but her original plan fell through -- she couldn't find any volunteers to help her with it. So she reflected a bit and began to focus instead on assisting the sick; this slowly drew others to her, and thus were the Bridgettine Sisters founded. They eventually acquired the house of St. Bridget, so part of her earlier dream was reached by a longer way around. In 1943 a family of Jews sought refuge at the convent, and Hesselbad and the Bridgettine Sisters began to shelter Jews and political refugees, as well as help those displaced by World War II. She died in 1957 and was beatified in 2000 by Pope John Paul II; Pope Francis canonized her in June 2016. Her feast day is June 4.

Sergius of Radonezh

Born in the fourteenth century near Rostov, Bartholomew and his older brother Stefan decided to become monks; Bartholomew took the name of Sergius. Sergius tried to be a hermit, but word of Sergius's devotion spread, and soon other monks began to gather around him, and finally convinced him to become the superior of the entire community. Eventually the community was given a monastic charter by Patriarch Philotheus of Constantinople. Soon the monastery was overflowing, and monks from Sergius's monastery began founding other monasteries elsewhere. The result was an extraordinary flourishing of monastic life. When Prince Dmitry of the Don went to battle against the Tartars, he first sought Sergius's blessing, which Sergius only gave after interviewing the prince as to whether he had first tried to solve the political problems with the Tartars through more peaceful means. Sergius died in 1392 and soon became one of the most highly venerated saints among the Russian Orthodox. In 1940, Ven. Pius XII was asked to authorize a liturgical calendar for Russian Catholics (that is, Byzantine Rite Catholics in communion with Rome), which he did; the calendar included a number of saints that had only to that point been venerated by the Orthodox, including St. Sergius himself. Thus veneration of St. Sergius was approved for Russian Catholic churches. St. Sergius was later enrolled in the Roman Martyrology for September 25 (by Bl. Paul VI, if I'm not mistaken), which is universally his feast day. Because he is said to have regularly shared his meager meal with a bear while living as a hermit, he is often portrayed in icons with a bear nearby.

Anna Pak Agi

Anna Pak Agi led a very simple life in Korea. She did not find study of any kind easy, and found many of the details of Catholic theology too difficult to follow easily, so her theology consisted almost entirely of attending Mass and reflecting on the Passion of Christ. She married a fellow Catholic and raised her children as best she could in the Catholic faith. But there was a slow increase in persecution of Christians in Korea in her day, and she and her family were eventually arrested. Under pressure, her husband and her son apostatized, but Anna refused to do so for three months, even when her husband and her son begged her to do so. She died in prison in May 1839, at the age of fifty-seven; she was beatified by Pius XI and canonized by St. John Paul II, and is celebrated with other Korean martyrs on September 20.

Jeanne de Valois

Jeanne was born the daughter of King Louis XI of France and Charlotte of Savoy at Nogent-le-Roi. She was born with physical deformity which would lead to her having a slightly hunched back and a limp. However, she soon showed herself otherwise to be hale and whole, and she received the full education of a princess and she was expected to marry her second cousin, Louis, Duke of Orléans, who was heir to the French throne; they were married in 1476 when Jeanne was 12. However, because of her deformity, gossip widely suggested that she was sterile and that Louis XI was attempting to guarantee that the other branch of the family would no longer have an heir to the throne. Poor Jeanne was not treated well in her marriage because of these rumors. In 1483 Louis XI died, with the throne falling to his heir, Charles VIII, who was just a boy; Anne de Beaujeu, his sister, became regent. Shortly thereafter, Louis, Duke of Orléans, began to lead his armies against the throne, and his military maneuvering continued until 1484, when he was captured. Jeanne managed his estates while he was in prison and negotiated for his release, which happened in 1491. Charles died by accident in 1498, and Louis, Duke of Orléans, became King Louis XII of France. Almost immediately he appealed to the Pope for an annulment of his marriage. The annulment case became one of the most scandalous events of the day, with Louis XII arguing that the marriage had never been consummated due to Jeanne's deformity, which he described in very public detail; Jeanne in response brought witnesses that he had boasted of having sex with her three times in a night. Alas for Jeanne, the Pope to whom the appeal was made was none other than the notorious Pope Alexander VI; the case was decided against Jeanne, almost certainly for purely political reasons. She was given the consolation title, Duchess of Berry, and settled in Bourges. While there, she began devoting her life to prayer and formed a branch of the Poor Clares, the Order of the Virgin Mary, whose constitutions Pope Alexander VI approved in 1502. Jeanne died in 1505 and was buried in the Annonciade monastery. One would look in vain for her there, though. In the Sack of Bourges in 1562, the Huguenots desecrated her grave and burned her body. She was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV in 1742 and canonized by Ven. Pius XII in 1950. Her feast day is February 4.

Vigilius of Trent, Claudian, and Magorian; Sisinnius, Martyrius, and Alexander

Vigilius lived in the fourth century in Trent, but studied in Athens; he might have possibly have known St. John Chrysostom personally. When he returned to Trent, he was chosen bishop by acclamation, and consecrated possibly by St. Ambrose (who certainly at least confirmed the consecration). He preached against Arians throughout his diocese (and in Brescia and Verona, which were outside his diocese) and formed a large number of new parishes, drawing priests for them from those missionaries who helped him in his missionary work. In the first few years of the fifth century, he is said to have gone with his brothers, Claudian and Magorian, to the Rendena Valley to preach to the pagan population there. In the course of doing so, Vigilius, always willing to cross a line, threw a statue of Saturn into the river, and the local people stoned him and his brothers to death. Their feast is June 26. Somewhat ironically, the Cattedrale di San Vigilio in Trent is now famous for the statue of Neptune in its plaza. Sisinnius and the two brothers Martyrius and Alexander were among the missionary companions that St. Vigilius planted at his new parishes. They are said to have been Cappadocians who had been sent by St. Ambrose to assist Vigilius in his labors. They were sent at one point to preach to villages in the Alps, and were killed. Vigilius raised a shrine to memorialize their martyrdom; and their traditional memorial is May 29.

Euphrasia Eluvathingal

Rosa Eluvathingal was born to a Syro-Malabar family in the Indian state of Kerala. She eventually, with some resistance from her family, sought to join the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (which had been founded by St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara), taking the name of Euphrasia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She almost was dismissed out the novitiate because of poor health, but after she had a vision of the Holy Family, her health improved. She would, however, continue to have periods of poor health throughout her life. She became known as the Praying Mother for her devotion to the Sacred Heart, her hours spent in Adoration before the Eucharist, and the thoroughness with which she prayed for anyone who needed it. She died peacefully on August 29, 1952, and her convent, St. Mary's Convent of Ollur quickly became a major pilgrimage site in India. She was beatified in 2006 and canonized by Pope Francis in 2014, and her feast day is August 29.

Jose Sanchez del Rio

In the 1920s, the government of Mexico initiated a sharp crackdown on the Catholic Church, ostensibly in the name of separation of Church and state, but in reality going well beyond such a limited goal. Religious buildings that were not churches -- schools, hospitals, convents, and the like -- were seized by the government; churches and priests had to be registered; wearing clerical garb outside of a registered church was made illegal; and so forth. Large sections of the populace rose up in protest of this, thus leading to the Cristero War in 1926. Jose's brothers joined the cause, and Jose, who was only thirteen years old, tried to join with them. Needless to say, the general, Prudencio Mendoza, refused to enlist him. He kept coming back, though, so finally the general allowed him a position in the army as flagbearer. He was well liked by the troops, who nicknamed him Tarcisio, after the boy-martyr Tarcisius from the third century. In January 1928, General Mendoza's horse was killed during an intense battle; Jose gave the general his own horse, and then took cover. He was captured. They made him watch another Cristero being hanged to break his resolve and get him to repudiate the Cristero cause, but he held firm. He was shot the evening of February 10, which is his feastday. He was canonized by Pope Francis in October 2016.

Andrew Kaggwa

Andrew Kaggwa was born a member of the Munyoro tribe; he was captured and enslaved by traders from the Ganda tribe, and thus came to be a page in the court of the Kubaka, or king, of Buganda, Mutesa I. When the explorer, Henry Morton Stanley, came to court, he brought with him European drums, which Mutesa found fascinating, so the king Kaggwa study how to play them under a well-traveled Muslim from Madagascar, Toli. While studying under Toli, Kaggwa converted to Islam. But Toli, who was a man of many trades, did carpentry work for the Catholic missionaries in the area, and through him Kaggwa came into contact with Catholics. In 1880, he joined the catechumenate. He also became the king's bandmaster. When Mutesa was succeeded by Mwanga II, Kaggwa, a court favorite, was promoted even higher and became a regular companion of the king. Mwanga, however, was not enthusiastic about Christians; he had the incoming Anglican bishop, James Hannington, killed in 1885, and in 1886 he began ordering executions of Anglicans and Catholics in his court. While there were policy reasons involved, since Mwanga saw Christians as potential supporters of foreign powers, the immediate cause of the slaughter seems to have been more personal -- anger at the superior airs of the Christian converts and their refusal to accept his sexual advances. When Mwanga's chancellor, Mukasa, reminded him that Kaggwa was still free, Mwanga tried to put it off, but after Mukasa pointed out that Kaggwa was a major reason there were so many Christians in the court, he reluctantly issued the order for Kaggwa's execution. His arm was cut off and he was beheaded. In 1920, he was beatified and in 1964 Bl. Paul VI canonized him; he is commemorated with other Ugandan martyrs on June 3.

Roberto Bellarmino

Bellarmine was born to poor but noble parents, and was the nephew of the short-reigning Pope Macellus II. From an early age he showed a knack for Latin and Greek, and went on to study at Padua and then Leuven, where he became a Jesuit priest. Poor health eventually forced him to return to Italy, where he was selected by Pope Gregory XIII to teach at the Roman College (now known as the Pontifical Gregorian University). It was during this period that he published his Controversies, which quickly became one of the major targets for Protestant polemic, to such an extent that when Protestants of the day speak on Catholic views, it is often Bellarmine in particular that they have in mind. Over time, Bellarmine was drawn by various popes into more extensive responsibilities, including commissions for revising the Vulgate and for reforming the Breviary, and ultimately was made Cardinal in 1599. His catechisms, perhaps his most famous and influential works, were written in the years just prior to his being made Cardinal. In 1602 he was made archbishop of Capua, possibly at the instigation of Dominicans trying to get him out of the Curia, in which he was a heavy hitter on the Jesuit side of the dispute between Dominicans and Jesuits about grace (Thomism vs. Molinism), but he was brought back to Rome under a different pope, who at Bellarmine's recommendation decreed toleration for both views. In 1616, his responsibilities led him to deliver the decree to Galileo Galilei that Copernican theory was not to be defended or held; when it was later claimed that Galileo had been forced to abjure his views at the meeting, Bellarmine wrote out a notice that he had not been required to do so, having only been notified of the decree. Throughout his life he had a reputation for being scholarly and fair-minded, and for having a quiet but stead sense of humor (he is said to have been fond of puns). Throughout his life He died in 1621; the process for canonization began in 1627, but went slowly. He was beatified in 1923 and canonized in 1930 by Pope Pius XI, who also declared him Doctor of the Church in 1931. His feast day is September 17.

2015 All Saints Post
Margaret Clitherow, Kaleb Elasbaan of Axum, Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin, Gertrude of Nivelles, Pius V, Clare and Agnes of Assisi, Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Scholastica, Vinh Sơn Phạm Hiếu Liêm, Thorlak Thorhallson, John Damascene

2014 All Saints Post
Marie Guyart, Alphonsa Muttathupadathu, John Neumann, Hildegard von Bingen, Pedro de San José Betancurt, Benedict the Moor

2013 All Saints Post
María Guadalupe García Zavala, Antonio Primaldi, Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini, Gabriel-Taurin Dufresse and Augustine Zhao Rong, Josephine Margaret Bakhita, John Chrysostom

2012 All Saints Post
Jadwiga of Poland, Kateri Tekakwitha, André Bessette, Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès, Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga

2011 All Saints Post
Bonifacia Rodríguez de Castro, Celestine V, Olga of Kiev, Cyril of Jerusalem, Joseph Mukasa and Charles Lwanga

2010 All Saints Post
Moses the Black of Ethiopia, Micae Hồ Đình Hy, Katherine Mary Drexel, Robert Southwell, Lojze Grozde, Andrew Kim Tae Gon

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Holiday in Fairyland

Patricia. [Smiling faintly.] And what did this friend of yours do?

Conjurer. You have already told me what he did. He destroyed a fairy tale, for he created a fairy tale that he was bound to destroy. [Swinging round suddenly on the table.] But do you blame a man very much, Miss Carleon, if he enjoyed the only fairy tale he had had in his life? Suppose he said the silly circles he was drawing for practice were really magic circles? Suppose he said the bosh he was talking was the language of the elves? Remember, he has read fairy tales as much as you have. Fairy tales are the only democratic institutions. All the classes have heard all the fairy tales. Do you blame him very much if he, too, tried to have a holiday in fairyland?

G. K. Chesterton, Magic: A Fantastic Comedy

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fortnightly Book, October 30

When George Gordon, Lord Byron, headed out on the Grand Tour in 1809, he was a bit of a poetic dabbler, known here and there but not much more. He left on his trip in part to avoid creditors and in part to avoid former lovers, and due to the Napoleonic Wars, he took a more southern route than usual, through Portugal and the Mediterranean areas. While on tour, he continued to dabble, both in poetry and in dissolute behavior, and part of his poetic dabbling was a work about a candidate for knighthood traveling Europe in the pursuit of -- well, something he knew not what. He doesn't seem to have had a high opinion of this bit of dabbling, but on return to England in 1811, some of his friends insisted it was worth publishing, so he published the first two cantos. And to his surprise, it was astoundingly successful. As he later put it, because of it he woke up one morning and was famous. From that moment on he was widely regarded as one of the brilliant lights of Romantic poetry, and he followed up by finishing the work that made him famous and going on to other things of renown -- and other lovers, and other credit troubles.

The work that made Byron famous was Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, a poetic expression of the perpetual search for something more that nonetheless seems, equally perpetually, out of reach. And it is, of course, the next fortnightly book.

Childe harold
(J. M. W. Turner's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage)

Nick Joaquin, Cave and Shadows; and May Day Eve and Other Stories


Opening Passage: From Cave and Shadows:

The vision -- a crab on a string being walked by a naked girl -- occurred in deep hotel-corridor twilight and moreover when he, Jack Henson, was feeling himself in a swoon.

It was after breakfast.

Summary: Everyone is hiding something. In Cave and Shadows, Jack Henson is back in Manila after years in Davao, because a girl, obsessed with discovering the true self everyone hides, was found mysteriously dead in a cave that had been locked up; the girl, Nenita Coogan, had been the daughter of Jack's wife, who had left him to run away with a Jesuit priest. Jack reconnects with his roots, but also finds himself enmeshed in an interlocking set of mysteries with ramifications for what the true self of Philippine culture itself is.

There are enough layers to this work, short though it is, that I can do no more than touch on a few points with regard to it. One thing that seems to be important is a matter Joaquin handles very subtly, namely, how accurate Nenita Coogan actually is. She is obsessed with the notion that people often have a real self that they are hiding, and that you just need to strip off the mask to find it. But I think Joaquin paints a subtler picture of human psyche -- Nenita Coogan is right that much of what people present to the world is a veil to hide something else. But the relation between the veil and the hidden is not necessarily a relation between the false and the true, because recognizing one's true self is not something you can get simply from stripping off outer layers -- there is a context that needs to be considered. We see this with Nenita's own father. Nenita thinks that under this mask of being an ordinary salesman her father's real self is the priest. But, of course, this doesn't actually mean that he isn't a salesman -- as if he's just living a lie. In fact, while there is , a perfectly good sense in which he is really a priest, he is in fact a priest who betrayed his vocation and ran off with another man's wife, and the life that he has built given that is as much part of who he is as his priesthood. Our self is in layers, yes, but this doesn't mean all the outer layers are just masks that can be taken off; Nenita keeps trying to take off a mask and (so to speak) keeps tearing up skin with it.

This serves as a kind of symbol for a larger concern throughout the work, namely, the relation between the colonial Catholic Philippines and the pagan Philippines. It is easy to read the work and get the impression that it is suggesting the view (which Joaquin notes in essays was coming in the Philippines in the 1970s and 80s) that the former is a kind of mask covering the latter, and that the latter is only waiting for its time to reassert itself as the True Philippines. This is certainly the view of a number of the characters. But the fact that Catholic Conversion did not erase the pagan Philippines does not mean that it is merely a veneer, a mask, an artificial covering over the latter. Try to tear off the Catholic 'mask' and you tear up significant parts of the Filipino identity. And it's notable that, apart from perhaps the pagan priestess, the Ginoong Ina herself, the pagans in the novel are pretty clearly posturing as much as any of the Catholics are.

While a number of characters dream of the pagan uprising that overthrows the Catholic falsehood, none of them manages to make this in itself sound very attractive, and I don't think this is accidental. What's actually happening is that they are leaching off a different, and more powerful, kind of dream. Throughout the book, Joaquin gives us the fairy tales and folklore underlying the cave, expressing the layers and layers of meanings involved with it (and thus the layers and layers of meaning in Filipino life itself). And the dream that endures through all these layers of legend is subtly different. It is not of the pagan Philippines arising and simply throwing out the Catholic Philippines. It is of the Catholic Philippines falling in love with the pagan Philippines and joining with it against colonization. The legend is not merely of a pagan priestess rising up against the Spanish. It is of her rising up and, at her side, the Archbishop of Manila riding in revolt with her. It is easy to put the 'Catholic' on the side of colonizer; but the whole point of the Conversion is that at least some of the 'Catholic' started being on the side of the colonized, too. Simply tearing out that part can hardly be made attractive, however much people might talk about it in the abstract. But the idea that there might be a real self to the Philippines that unites the pagan and the Catholic in truth against the lie of the colonizer and oppressor (even if the colonizer and oppressor is also Catholic) is one that has considerably more seductive power, and one which resonates through the folkloric identity of the cave and of the Philippines as Joaquin presents it here.

There is room to think that Joaquin is skeptical even of this dream -- the recurring cycles of priestess and Archbishop in the folktales presented are always cycles of failure, so that the dream is more one of hope (or fear, depending on your stance) springing eternal than of anything feasible. But the cave in the novel stands as a sort of rebuke against both those who want to strip things down to their pagan 'reality' and those who want to pretend that pagan aspect isn't there at all. Conversion, after all, is not elimination, nor is it merely a mask that can be removed at will.

There are other themes that I thought were interesting throughout. One that I thought was interesting, but would need more time to think about, was the picture of modernity that Joaquin presents in the novel. There's a comment in Part Four that I thought particularly interesting: "The Hermana was being quite modern, we see now, in trying to live a godly life as if, or even if, there were no God." This notion of modernity as the state of everyone -- not just the secular-minded, since the Hermana is no such thing, but everyone -- trying to live a godly life as if, or even if, there were no God, as well as the confusions and corruptions it necessarily causes, runs throughout the work.

May Day Eve and Other Stories is a collection of five of Joaquin's short tales. All of them were excellent.

* "Three Generations" looks at the cycle of rebellion from generation to generation. The path of rebellion against one's father is the easiest thing -- but it is both self-defeating, since it leads to that against which one rebels, and destructive.

* "Doña Jerónima" -- which actually gets mentioned in passing in Cave and Shadows, and has some themes in common with it -- tells the story of an Archbishop of Manila and his relationship to a woman recluse.

* "The Legend of the Dying Wanton", which I like the best, is an invisible miracle story -- it story trades on the twist of a miracle no one knows about because no one knows the full story.

* "May Day Eve", among other things, is about missed opportunity and failed communication.

* "Guardia de Honor" is a very clever time travel story. It's successful, I think, because of the power of one of its core ideas, which is that choices may take into account the past and the future, but choices themselves take place, in a sense, in an eternal now.

Favorite Passage: From Cave and Shadows:

He scaled the cliff, grabbing at root and tuft, and hoisted himself over the edge. Before him was the bamboo grove that encased the chapel; down the slope slept the village. Behind him, across the road below, was the apron of park overlooking the bank of the cave and the curve of the river. Overhead arched a gloom thinly grained with stars.

Not a stir of breeze on the hilltop, yet the air throbbed as if heat were indeed waves. Casting no shadow, himself a shadow, Jack slunk towards the sacred wood, the dark chapel. (p. 98)

The first sentence of "Doña Jerónima", whose length can only be deliberate:

In the days of the galleons, a certain Archbishop of Manila was called to a council in Mexico but on the way there fell in with the pirates who seized his ship, looted the holds, slew the crew, and were stringing up the Archbishop to a mast when a sudden storm ripped up and wrecked both pirate craft and Philippine galleon, drowning all that were on board, save only the Archbishop, who, being bound to the cross of the mast, was borne safely over the wrath of the waters and thus reached the shores of a desert isle, a dry isle that was but a tip of reef in the sea, where, for a burning year, he lived on fish and prayer, on rain water and meditation, crouched day and night in deep thought at the foot of the cross of the mast he had set up on the shore, all alone in that waste of ocean, until a passing ship, mystified by a reflection as of a giant cross shining in the air, tracked the mirage to the horizon and came upon the desert isle, and upon the cross of mast planted on the shore, and upon the bowed, mute, shriveled old man squatting motionless and cross-legged there, stark naked and half-blind and burned black as coal, all his hair turned white and his white beard trailing down to his navel, and hardly able to stand or move or speak or grasp, in which dismal condition he was carried back to his city, arriving there some two years after he had left in glory, having departed a fine blaze of a man, handsome and vigorous, and bidden farewell by all the city to a tumult of bells, banners, fireworks and music, and returning now in decay, terribly altered, terribly aged, mere skin and bone and wild eye, but still amid bells, banners, fireworks, music, and the tumult of the city, for news of his rescue had preceded him, the marvel of his sojourn on the island had grown into legend in the retelling, and he himself had become such a figure of miracle--the man twice saved by the Sign of the Cross; and fed on the desert isle, 'twas said, by ravens, like Elijah, and with manna from heaven, like the Israelites--that the folk who poured forth to welcome him dropped to their knees with a shudder as he was borne past, a frail wraith that, however, had power to stun the eye and seize the soul, that would, indeed, in those days, possess the popular mind, every travelling bard having but this one ballad to sing, and no print hawked at the fairs but carried the Archbishop's picture and a relation of his adventures, by which diverse manners the fame of him spread as a holy man on whom God had showered such mystical favours that when the Archbishop at last emerged from a long convalescence, firmer in fabric but never again to be in his prime, it was to find himself being revered in the land as a saint.

Recommendation: Recommended all around.

Maronite Year LXXIX

The Seventh Sunday after Holy Cross is the last Sunday of the Maronite Year. It is also known as the Sunday of Christ the King, which it has shared with the Latin calendar (Extraordinary Form) since Quas primas was promulgated in 1925. It is a fitting end to the liturgical season of Holy Cross, which is devoted to the victory of the cross.

Sunday of Christ the King
Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 25:31-46

What voice can bless the One above all praise?
No mind or tongue can describe His wonders,
His miracles of grace,
which pour forth from His person and office,
for which He is exalted above all.

He has come from Jacob to rule nations;
He has been set as King over Zion,
which is His holy mount.
The nations He has for inheritance,
the circle of the world for possession.

His great throne is forever and ever,
His scepter a scepter of righteousness,
for He is God on high;
His peaceful kingdom will have no limit,
and justice shall spring up from sea to sea.

Not by any force or usurpation,
but by nature and His holy office,
He rules over all things.
When He comes in glory with His angels,
He will judge all the living and the dead.

Grant, O Christ our King, forgiveness from sins,
grant justice to the oppressed and the poor,
comfort to the lowly.
Grant to Your faithful rest in Your kingdom,
that we may have gladness before Your throne.