Thursday, April 27, 2006

Deo gratias

For anyone who has had a seriously sick child - only prayer can make sense of the visceral emotions that are overwhelm a parent in that situation. Young Matthew is home and Albertus shares this profound experince. There is still much to pray for, however. Not only does Al's family, and especially young Matthew need our prayers - so does young Leighton.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Europe's Defender

"...the West is laudably trying to open itself, full of understanding, to external values, but it no longer loves itself; in its own history, it now sees only what is deplorable and destructive, while it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure."

Read the rest here

Locum refrigerii, lucis et pacis

A friend was told this recently by an old lady, close to death.

"God refreshes us in five ways: change, sleep, rest, love and death"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Macauley on The Catholic Church

There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendency extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe. The members of her communion are certainly not fewer than a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be difficult to show that all other Christian sects united amount to a hundred and twenty millions. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.

An Essay on Leopold von Ranke’s History of the Popes
Thomas Babington Macaulay

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Death became its own death

To show that he had power over death Christ had exercised his royal authority to loose death's bonds even during his lifetime, as for example when he gave the commands, Lazarus, come out and Arise, my child. For the same reason he surrendered himself completely to death, so that in him that gluttonous beast with his insatiable appetite would die completely. Since death's power comes from sin, it searched everyone in his sinless body for its accustomed food, for sensuality, pride, disobedience, or, in a word, for that ancient sin which was its original sustenance. In him, however, it found nothing to feed on and so, being entirely closed in upon itself and destroyed for lack of nourishment, death became its own death.

O heavenly bounty, spiritual feast, divine Passover, coming down from heaven to earth and ascending again into heaven. You are the light of the new candles, the brightness of the virgins' lamps. Thanks to you the lamps of souls filled with the oil of Christ are no longer extinguished, for the spiritual and divine fire of love burns in all, in both soul and body.

-St Hippolytus of Rome

Happy Easter.

The Lord is Risen - TRULY He is Risen.

Friday, April 07, 2006

My (Friend’s) Big Fat (Calvinist) Wedding

On Lady Day, Mrs Paulinus and our children were privileged to attend the happy event of my friend’s wedding in a Church of Scotland place of worship. Needless to say that on such a solemn and joyous occasion there were a few things that struck me.

The first was how awesome Christian vows of marriage are – what an incredible stretching of the human spirit, beyond the mawkishly emotional are the commitments that Christians make to each other in the Sacrament of Marriage. There is a very real martyrdom here, especially in an age when marriage is becoming less common. I am not ashamed to say that when I hear the marriage vows spoken (whether within or without a Church) I cannot help feeling a tear pricking my eye (probably at the enormity of the task placed before anyone who marries). I take the chance to renew my own commitment whenever I hear those words.

The other thoughts that went through my head in this Calvinist temple were the clear differences between a Catholic Church and a non-Catholic Church. Paulinus Minor Major took one look around and said “Where are the candles? Where are the statues?”

Where indeed, dear boy?

More importantly I always have the feeling of a metaphorical hole where the Real Presence of Christ should be. There is that feeling of emptiness that Waugh describes when relating the removal of the Sacrament fro m Brideshead in the latter pages of Brideshead Revisited. Interestingly in old (i.e. pre-Reformation) Anglican Churches, the feeling is not so marked. There is always the feeling that here the Old Mass WAS celebrated and before Henry’s men got to work Christ lived among men here.

There were two very positive notes about the liturgy of the Kirk. Boy, can these Proddies sing! I haven’t belted out “Now Thank We All Our God” like that since I don’t know when. Finally, when the Our Father was said there was a care taken over the words of Our Lord that puts us to shame in our speedy renditions (hopefully) in our desire to get to Communion.