Monday, April 28, 2008

Rogation, Ascension and Saint Joseph

Rogare is latin for to ask, or to beg. Historically, the most ancient rogations were that of the consuls and tribunes to the people of Rome, concerning passage of a new law. The word, rogation, passed on to christian Rome as a particular solemn supplication or petition to the Lord.

Many things that began in the neighborhood of Rome passed to the greater church. The Major Rogation had been on 25 April, since 1969 it is no more. This initial rogation replaced a pagan supplication with a christian one. It fell in early spring, when it was wet and crops were starting. It was bidding for good growing, absent of disasters for agriculture and for food production.

The Minor Rogations are still with us, but rarely and not widely observed. They began in Gaul about the time of the ending of the roman empire in the west. These are the three days before Ascension. These this year are the: 28th, 29th and 30th of April. The Sunday before is, sometimes, called Rogation Sunday. By calendraic quirk, these five days of rogation are nearly consecutive.

These days were formally marked with processions, the blessing of fields and litanies (greek for rogations, from litanos, pleading) to the saints for their petitioning for us to the Lord. People fasted and vestments were violet. An ethos of responsible and successful stewardship of the land was engendered. To-day in the secular world, we have an Earth Day on 22 April and some places have an Arbor Day about the same time.*

Currently, this year around the world, there is a crisis over the availability of food. There is a wicked speculation that has driven the price for the grains that sustains people. People in countries where weekly incomes are in single digits of dollars, are paying in those dollars dollars per pound or kilogram for food. This speculation finds its opportunity through crop failures, climate disasters, war and horrid governance and corruption. People pay in wretched poverty and starvation. Rogations to God Almighty are sorely needed.

The Sunday Gospel has:
Amen, amen I say to you: if you ask the Father any thing in my name, he will give it you.†
The Gospel for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday has:
And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.‡
These are the words of Jesus after His Resurrection and very near his Ascension unto heaven. The yearly cycle of the missal, the church year and the physical year weave well together. The joy and purpose of our existence and the hope of our future is reflected in our practise of living.

Ascension, Jesus rose to heaven and the Easter candle is no longer lit. The signs are metaphors for our salvation perspectives. Ascension is a feast on the fortieth day following the great feast of the Resurrection, Easter season is nearing a conclusion with Pentecost on the fiftieth day, when the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit. There is a beauty of elegance in our lives and it proceeds during the year physical and liturgical.

Ascension is on Mayday, this year. We celebrate Saint Joseph the Worker on that day. Again, he is a looked over. Earlier the 19th of March, his other day, fell in Holy Week. Steady and still Joseph, short of speech and note. Jesus in his Resurrected Body returns to heaven on Ascension. There is a pious belief among a very few, that Joseph, who, so cared for the young Jesus may have been granted the grace to have joined, his virginal spouse and his foster Son, bodily in heaven also. The particulars of his death have not reached us through tradition or scripture.

We live in a convenience society in this country, so divorced from our past. We are not agrarians, whom so see the year intertwined with our lives. With these indulgences that cater to many, Ascension Thursday is transferred to the next Sunday and the Rogations, so fittingly proper, are not enjoined.
*The first Arbor day was 10 April 1874 in Nebraska, now it is on the 22nd, the birthday of its founder, Julius Sterling Morton. Morton was the party of the Democracy in Nebraska before Wm. J. Bryan.
†from John xvi. 23.
‡from Luke xi. 9.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Virtually invisible outrageous Republicans

I was wanting to write about Republicans who proclaim their opposition to abortion, yet oppose other parts of catholic social teaching as being ‘leftist’. These catholics are willing to be catholic when it costs them nothing, but when the capitalist-republican [read fascist] system is threatened they will, either, attack or dissemble. I had in mind: Congressman Thaddeus McCotter or Karl Rove’s pet catholic, Deal Hudson, him of the Rudy Giuliani commitment to marriage. Only very catholic democrats would be incensed over that pair of bullocks. But, this past week, there are two Republicans that even Republicans might find outrageous:

#1. The returning challenger for Indiana's 2nd congressional district, Tony Zirkle, who got 30% of the 2006 primary vote. Zirkle addressed a Nazi social gathering, an American National Socialist Workers Party dinner for the 119th anniversary of Hitlers birth. Some people would think this a democrats attempt at an April fool joke, but no this, indeed, did happen. Of course, many of us think it is a natural.

#2. The newly appointed Republican state representative, Douglas Bruce, of Colorado kicked a newspaper photographer, while being sworn in. He was the first member ever censured in Colorado. Monday, the 21st, during debate about migrant braceros, he said, “We don't need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in the state of Colorado.” Now, this is the state Tancredo represents, who also criticised the pope, during his visit in America, over immigration. Kathleen Curry, who was temporarily exercising the Speaker of the House duty, cut Bruce off from continuing after the ‘illiterate peasant’ remark, but she is a Democrat. The man has at least two career anecdotes in his first three months.

When one hears of such antics, he immediately is simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by these human trainwrecks, either by the blatant banality or the audacity of aggravating stupidity. These two do not have a national presence, but they have caught the interest of the teletype wires for — Oh, looky at what this idiot has done to-day! These two are fully representative of a very significant portion of the Republican party and their voters. The difference between them and bushjr’s circle is that they lack …

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The last word with Shakespeare

Tempest Epilogue―Prospero’s Prayer

Spoken by Prospero (the actor – Will Shakespeare’s last appearance, last word)
Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint: now, ’tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon’d be,
Let your indulgence set me free.

Loreena McKennit edits this and sings it with a haunting and lovely tune.
Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint: now, 'tis true,
I must be here confined by you,

[Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon'd the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;] skipped

But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,

[Which was to please] twice Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,

Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be,
Let your indulgence set me free.

Purgatory, a concept that bothered and continues to bother protestants, the soul’s or humanity’s eschatological dilemma must be alluded in this. After this, Shakespeare retired to exile in Stratford, away from London. A fair question is why was this his last statement? He appears on stage alone, the play is ended. There is a recurring metaphor for Shakespeare that the actor on the stage is all men in their own lives. We all must recognize that the word ‘indulgence’ was a politically/religiously loaded term, c.1612, after the Age of Faith and before the Age of Enlightenment. Here the actor is concerned for the fate of his soul and he begs for intercessory prayer, if not that, what else could it refer to? He is asking for mercy of Mercy, God in the person of Jesus. The divine arbiter of justice, who grants pardon and who had been pierced and is still being pierced.

George Abbot was Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, he had strong ‘puritan’ leanings and disapproved of both theatre and catholicks. James I was no friend to catholics, and this was after the Guy Fawkes hysteria. Shakespeare was not free to be a publick figure, yet he needed to speak, when it was perilous to do so. He spoke on multiple layers and not everyone receives every reference. Then as to-day, non-catholics are tone deaf to catholic words and misunderstand catholic concepts.

The english were still using the Julian calendar. William Shakespeare died on Saint Georges Day (and may have been born on that patronal feast of the english), 23 April 1616 (O.S.) (3 May N.S.). His public life was forced to end with this play, and though, not truly an elderly man, he had less than a handful of years left. His mind was considering the last years and the last four things. I believe, he says this in his last speech. He was a catholic. People knew he died as a ‘papist’. The sentiments of this last word fit catholic belief, theology and devotion.

Recently (1993), the Sunday immediately after the Resurrection has been named for the Divine Mercy*. The icon of this has two streams of light, red and white, emanating from the heart of Jesus. Our Lord grants mercy for our sins, and pardons our faults.

An older devotion is that to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It became fixed in the 17th century, but had existed for centuries before. The Sacred Heart is pierced by a crown of thorns and His heart bleeds for us.

Jesus at the end of His life is in torment, yet He prays for us, His fellow men. He asks for their forgiveness. He hears the confession of the penitent thief and promises him paradise. The last of the Seven Words of Jesus on the cross is said to his Father, Our Father:
et clamans voce magna Jesus ait Pater in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum et hæc dicens exspiravit

And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost.
― Luke xxiii. 46.
*In the vision granted to Saint Faustina *1905,†1938, Jesus says to her,
“I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy.”
Of course, this is centuries after Shakespeare, but it is of the same spirit and spirituality. Catholicism has the same flavor in the first century as the twenty first.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Patriot Day

Grant Wood. The midnight ride of Paul Revere. 1931. New York City.
Wood’s painting seems like a playscape of children’s toys placed to form a village. It is extremely well lit in this pristine magical midnight. The smoothness of the trees and knolls, and the castellum hills behind a huge and pointy steeple which dwarves our hero, who rides a steed from a carnival’s carousel. The clarion call for battle readiness does not register in the paint.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s
Paul Revere’s Ride begins,
LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
and ends,
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, --
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beat of that steed,
And the midnight-message of Paul Revere.
The War for American Independence began in Middlesex county, Massachusetts at the battles of Concord and Lexington, the 19th of April 1775. All the colonists were not united. There were two political parties in English/British politics: the Conservative Tories and the Liberal Whigs. The war was fought for the cause of maintenance of rights and freedoms versus governmental power. The Liberals defined, themselves and american history records them, as Patriots. Yes, the liberals were patriots. The conservatives preferred british hegemony.

To-day we have the sad situation, where those who most loudly proclaim themselves as patriots, approve of greater governmental power, versus citizens’ rights. These faux patriots use the word ‘liberal’ in contempt or as a calumnious accusation. We have the obscene naming of missiles as patriots. We have an obscene governmental act bearing that name. These measures, this regime has instituted upon us, are akin to those practices that caused the rebellion that gave birth to this nation.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Concord Hymn of 1837 begins with the quatrain:
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.
That shot was fired by an anxious soldier, history does not know whether he was a yankee farmer or a lobsterback. The english were more disciplined, but that does not prove the argument. That shot began the war. The colonies, eventually united (and with foreign aid and troops, especially french) and overcame the british empire.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sound the pibroch

On the 16th of April 1746, at Drummossie Moor, Culloden, the Jacobite army was defeated by the Hanoverians. The Jacobites were pre-dominately catholic Highland Scots, who fought for the Stuart cause, the clan system and a free Scotland. This was to be the last battle fought on the isle of Britain. They were met by english cannon and William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland, captain-general, younger son of George II and a ruthless butcher.

Surviving scots, who had been loyal to the auld cause, were hunted down without mercy. This went beyond the men at arms, to their families: brutal killing, pauperisation, loss of land and animals, deportation and enslavement. As Cromwell had done to the Irish, the previous century, the Butcher Cumberland did do to the Highlanders. The possession of items, that were symbols of the highlands and the scots, became capital offenses: the tartan, the pipes, claymores. A cultural genocide of sorts was implemented, but not fully achieved. Scotland as an independent nation died that day. The Stuart cause was lost, and the Stuarts had not done their supporters well again. Catholicism was reduced. The use, and especially the written use, of the auld tongue was suppressed.The clan system was destroyed. Such was the harrying of the glens and the highland clearances. Of course those who sided with the english prospered. What had been Scotland, became the north of Britain.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Titanic Failure

I was going to write on Father Damien the Leper of Molokai; but then I was watching television, and Craig Ferguson mentioned that 98% of historians viewed bush junior as a failure. I used to watch Johnny Carson, before, to get the news. Comedians will brave to tell a national audience what news programmes are scared to, or self-censored not to announce. Well, the network political shows and commentators, other than Keith Olbermann, have consistently given bush junior an extremely, unjustified credence and undeserved respect; finally a blunt and truthful analysis and judgment is out in public, albeit not broadly diffused.

Yesterday, in 1912, the greatest ship afloat and in existence (to that moment) was on its maiden voyage; but during that night, the ship had a collision with an iceberg and sank that new morning. Of some 2200+, 1500+ died and just over 700 survived. One infant then, is now alive, the last survivor.

When I was a small boy, riding a rocking horse, there came by the house a woman, whom was also aboard. She had been a small child, and had saved her father. She would not go onto the lifeboat, she cried and carried on, until they put, also, her father into the boat. With me, not knowing that moment, she did a wonderful act. History, tells that the lifeboats were not filled, and that the class of passenger ticket factored into survival, more so, than gender and age.

The Titanic was seen, by the world, as a great tragedy; but also as an act of God. A spirit of arrogance was met by disaster. The press, as they often do, oversell, overstate, shill and hype commercial interests. Historical and engineering studies point to the old adage: you get what you pay for. The fatal and catastrophic failure was caused by water rushing in, due to the popping of weak rivets, after the collision. As so often in construction, cheaper materials were used. Steel is stronger than iron. The rivets were of mixed content, from different manufacturers. Uniform and universal use of steel rivets, may have, prevented most of the disaster. In addition to cheaper materials, there were not enough and skilled workers hired, and the job was rushed — standard business practices were maintained.

Popular songs, throughout history, have commemorated sad events: battles, train wrecks, murders, ship wrecks and such. The sinking of the Titanic certainly did. One such version was Ernest Stoneman’s in 1924, which I remember reading, was the first, million selling hillbilly record. Below, there are two verses and the chorus:
Oh, they built the ship Titanic to sail the ocean blue,
And they thought they had a ship that the water would never leak through,
But the Lord's almighty hand said this ship would never land
Oh it was sad when the great ship went down!

Oh, it was sad, Oh, it was sad; Oh,it was sad, Oh, it what sad;
It was sad when the great ship went down, to the bottom of the ...
Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives,
It was sad when that great ship went down.

Oh, they sailed away from England, and were almost to the shore,
When the rich refused to associate with the poor,*
So they put them down below, where they were the first to go.
It was sad when the great ship went down.

A folklore quickly developed: The builders, Harland and Wolff, had their shipyard in Ireland and were not in the habit of hiring catholics. The White Star Line would not allow negroes on board. A few, famous millionaires were on board and perished, Mollie Brown was unsinkable. The eight man band played while sinking to the end, and there is great interest in their final tune.

A decade ago, an extremely, successful movie was made and shown throughout the world; and everyone knew the ending before seeing the picture — the ship sank! Clearly, people still have a fascination.

Tom Paxton wrote a song about the Chrysler handout with the final verse lines:

If you're a corporate Titanic,
And your failure is gigantic,
Down in Congress there's a safety net for you.
And that brings us to the gigantic failure — george bush junior.
*Third class was steerage, where the poor immigrants would be stored. That night gates were kept closed, while orders were being awaited for their opening.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thomas Jefferson at 265

Jean-Antoine Houdons Bust of Jefferson, 1789
Somewhere in this fine land, to-day or sometime this weekend there are Jefferson Day dinners taking place. Thomas Jefferson, the author, of The Declaration of Independence, and the founder of the party of the Democracy. Most of these tributes, may not give the appropriate time, of celebration and remembrance to this great man, and are there as money raisers for the local parties or particular candidates, men who, may or may not really, concern themselves with these great ideas this man championed.

Years ago, I read an essay in Time magazine*, that speculated on alternative routes of history. What if the British crown had crushed the rebellion in North America, and Tomasso Jefferson would be primarily remembered as a character in an eponymous Verdi opera. The ideals, that which americans crow and boast, that we are proud of, that others admire — are Jeffersonian. Truly, those ideals are greatly endangered under the current usurpation of the american state by tortfeasors, malfactors, frauds and corrupt incompetents who claim entitlement to rule.

To-day, the 13th†, is Tomasso’s birthday, though he may have recognised it as on the 2nd. It was still the time, when the english would rather disagree with the sun and the stars, than agree with the pope on what day it was. But, in a good number of things, we and he disagreed with the english. But. to-day, we should all celebrate political freedoms, while we still can, and recognise Tomasso’s contributions.

* Yorktown: If the British Had Won by Gerald Clarke. 2 November 1981.
† 13 April 1829 Emancipation Act , where the english extended civil rights to catholics (an earlier attempt in 1780 was the cause of riotous murder and vandalism). Freedom is not often recognised and protected by law or the public. Tho. Jefferson died on Independence Day 1826.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Jurij Aleksejevič Gagarin

Human space travel began on the 12th of April 1961. The progression was dog, monkey (chimp), man. The tension and trepidation of the press and the public concerning surviving space was heavy. Lajka, the dog had died. A cosmonaut (spaceman) was as much a prisoner, and an experimentee as a trained pilot. Gagarin survived. Drama, there was: man conquers space.

The next year, it was a national holiday, Cosmonautics Day. It became an annual celebration for the Russians and the Soviets. The (US) National Space Society translated this into Yuri’s Night in 2001. The cold war was over, and the space shuttles made the news, only when they became disasters, and they wanted more space program.

Radio reports were broadcast across Russia, that first day, “The world's first spaceship, Vostok [East], with a man on board, has been launched on April 12 in the Soviet Union on a round-the-world orbit ”. The unnamed launch pad (at Bajkonur) was departed from at 9.07 a.m. Jurij Aleksejevič radioed back, “The flight is proceeding normally. I feel well ”, and “The flight is normal. I am withstanding well the state of weightlessness”. The public heard at 11.10, that at 10.25 the orbit was completed. The new Magellan, had gone faster and higher than any man had ever gone. The most perilous portion remained, re-entry and then the landing. At 12.25, the good and triumphant news came across broadcast radio, “At 10:55 Cosmonaut Gagarin safely returned to the sacred soil of our motherland ”.

Vostok 1 was the sputnik that carried Gagarin into orbit. The Mercury program in the US was put to shame and it groused. The accomplishment was played down, instruments did all that a man could do in space, for now. The russians were in the lead and that was not appreciated. Space was a prestige project. Russia and the United States competed on everything.

In interviews Gagarin spoke about his adventure:

“From the spaceship, I could not see as well as from an airplane, but still I could see very well. I saw with my own eyes the spherical shape of the earth. I must say that the view of the horizon is unusual and very beautiful. I could see the unusual transition from the light surface of the earth to the blackness of the sky. There is a very narrow band that makes the transition. This band is a delicate blue color.”

“The sun in outer space is tens of times brighter than here on earth. The stars are easily visible. They are bright and distinct. The entire picture of the firmament has much more contrast than when seen from the earth.”

“It is difficult to say in words all the feelings that took hold of me when I stepped on our Soviet land. First of all, I was glad because I had successfully fulfilled my task. In general, all my feelings can be expressed by one word: joy. When I was going down, I sang the song, The Motherland Hears, the Motherland Knows.”

On that first space flight, Jurij Aleksejevič sang a tune by Šostakovič of Dolmatovskij's lyrics*, which began:
Родина слышит, Родина знает,
Rodina slishit, Rodina znaet
Где в облаках её сын пролетает.
Gde v oblakakh eje sin proletaet.

The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows
Where in the clouds her son flies.
It was a great event, Gagarin became a celebrated, national hero and a world celebrity, and the Soviet government had bragging rights. He was Russia’s Lindbergh, Russia’s Columbus. A handsome russian boy who braved the future and succeeded. Khruščjev crowed, “Gagarin flew into space, but didn't see any God there”.† He was never to fly as a cosmonaut again. Within seven years he was gone, a victim in a fighter plane crash.

Jevtušenko in a novel quotes from The Angel, in reference to Gagarin:

The angel was flying through sky in midnight,
And softly he sang in his flight;
And clouds, and stars, and the moon in a throng
Hearkened to that holy song.
He sang of the garden of God's paradise,
Of innocent ghosts in its shade;
He sang of the God, and his vivacious praise
Was glories and unfeigned.
The juvenile soul he carried in arms
For worlds of distress and alarms;
The tune of his charming and heavenly song
Was left in the soul for long.
It roamed on earth many long nights and days,
Filled with a wonderful thirst,
And earth's boring songs could not ever replace
The sounds of heaven it lost.
― Mikhajl Jurijevič Lermontov

†This was Khruščjev’s propaganda boast, it was not Gagarin, who was a christian.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Saint Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr

Święty Stanisław ze Szczepanowa, Biskupa i Męczennika, Głównego Patrona Polski.
Martyrdom window. Shrine Church of Saint Stanislaus. Cleveland, O.
O God, our father in heaven to honor you, Saint Stanislas faced martyrdom with courage. Keep us strong and loyal in our faith until death.

Saint Stanislas Szczepanowski, *1039, was elected Bishop of Krakow in December 1071 and took the office after commanded by Pope Alexander II. A successor, to that Krakovian see, became our last pope, John Paul II. He recognised Stanislas as the patron saint of moral order.

With the passing of centuries, and a sceptical and blasé public, history is regarded as a devolved legend. Stanislas was born to noble parents who had been childless for thirty years. He went on to the University of Paris, but refused a doctorate. Upon returning, in 1059, he gave away his inheritance and became a priest. His stature and actions were well known and received and respected. He rose in position as canon, in 1062, and preacher at the cathedral, and as vicar general under bishop Lambert Zula.

The man who became king in 1076 (previously grand duke), Boleslas II Śmiały, *c.1040, †1081, (the Bold or Fierce) was a warrior prince, who twice took Kiev and was greatly involved in the military conflicts of eastern and central Europe. He was wild and willful, careless and cruel, and uncontrolled. He had many lusts and brooked no opposition.

The two would conflict more than once, first over land, which was resolved, in the hagiographies, by the previous owner, Piotr, coming out of his grave to give testimony. Later, Stanislas excommunicated Boleslas over his lust, cruelty and greed. Boleslas declares Stanislas guilty of treason, and sentences him to truncatio membrorum. His knights would not carry this out. The king, himself, kills the saint, in the church of Saint Michael on the hill of
the Rock (Skalka), outside of Krakow, during mass on. Then the sentence of dismemberment was done upon a log.

This murder was not taken well, by the populace, and revolt, and invasion ensued. In July of 1079, the king flees Poland and, eventually, ends his days in a Benedictine monastery at Osjak, Carinthia (Slovenija).

Miracles of healing occurred at Stanislas’s grave and later at his tomb in the Wawel cathedral. It became a pilgrimage site. Most of the later kings of Poland were crowned kneeling before his silver coffin, which was later desecrated by heretical, Swedish invaders during the Deluge (Potop) 1655-60.

Stanislas was canonised by Pope Innocent IV on 17 September 1253 in the Basilica of Assisi. His canonisation trial was a first use of the system that led to a devil’s advocate*. His feast had been on the 7th of May, it is celebrated on the 8th in Krakow, with the calendraic revision, it is now on the 11th of April.

Franz Liszt, worked twelve years on and completed the first and fourth movements of an oratorio on Stanislas, the conflict and martyrdom lay unfinished. The legend of eagles gathering his limbs has inspired patriots, over the centuries, as a metaphor of fragmentation of the country.† This was not the first or last musical composition concerning the saint. The Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyła, for the 900th anniversary of martyrdom, had commissioned Henryk Górecki to compose, Beatus vir. Which was premiered on the pope
’s return to Poland. Vincent of Kielce (Wincenty z Kielc) O.P. wrote two histories with music, Historia gloriosissimi Stanislai, c. 1250 and 1260.

In 1170 Henry II requested his knights to kill archbishop Thomas à Becket. They did him slay in the cathedral. Boleslas had to draw his own sword to kill his bishop. Advocates of the crown over the mitre hold the charges of treason. There are people in El Salvador who regard, Oscar Romero,†1980, in the same fashion. To defend the church, and to defend the people against the desires and trepidations of the state is not safe, and there are those whom, always, side with the state.

The actor, Paul Scofield, has recently died. He portrayed Saint Thomas More in the pictures. More was executed for his absolute reluctance to speak in favor of all the acts of King Henry VIII. The Tudor historian, G.R. Elton, finds More a traitor. Some judge martyrs as criminals. Hobbesian power rests in the sovereign, but justice rests with God. Power jealousy desires absolute power.

Jerzy Popiełuszko, a priest at St. Stanislas Kostka church in a Warsaw suburb, spoke for the church, and the people, and the Solidarity (Solidarność) union against the communist government. The nation listened to his words. He had been arrested, and targeted before, and his full number of days were not to be completed. He was kidnapped by police (Służba Bezpieczeństwa) on 19 October 1984 . Eleven days later his beaten body was found in the Vistula. 250,000 people came to his funeral. His cause began in 1997. He was remembered, by Andrzej Panufnik, in a Bassoon Concerto (1985). Artists and patriots love the romance of the soul whose gestures are grand.
*Advocatus Diaboli, Devil's Advocate or Promoter of the Faith, Promotor Fidei position officially established 1587; disestablished 1983.
†from the 15th century,
Annales seu cronicae incliti Regni Poloniae (The Annals of Jan Długosz): “hacked into myriad pieces which the King orders to be thrown here and there about the city for the dogs, vultures, crows and other predators to eat”, then the eagles come, and people reassemble the corpse from all the red and white pieces, hence the symbolism of the polish flag.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Oldspeak, Verbicide and Incorrectionists

“Life and language are alike sacred. Homicide and verbicide — that is, violent treatment of a word with fatal results to its legitimate meaning, which is its life — are alike forbidden.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. in The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table
Holmes was speaking of puns, but the point made is greater than that. It goes to the nature of truth.

I learned and do speak english, or as George Orwell had called it in 1984,“oldspeak”. I speak as I knew and know. I shall resist attempts to be prescribed and proscribed. Orwell wrote, that the speakers of oldspeak were accused of thoughtcrimes. With the intensity that some of these incorrectionists hoist their words on us, it is as we were criminals. Some incorrectionists have faulty rules and conceptions of the propriety of grammar and vocabulary, and merely incorrect us as if they were schoolmarms; but others have a political agenda and their political correctness, I shall not put up with. People need correction if their thoughts and words are on wrong or incorrect information, but dictating the words and their meanings for one
s interest, independent or contrary of the truth, is evil. Our unapproved thoughts become thoughtcrimes or, in Newspeak, “crimethink”. I object to this malevolent censorship.
“By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. ” — George Orwell
We oldspeak speakers are endangered. There are several sorts of newspeak about us and their purveyors are aggressive. Certain groups have their agendas: commercial advertisers (e.g. I, if I wish to order a hamburger, shall call it a hamburger and not their silly term; likewise a coffee chain identifies cup sizes as short, tall, grande, vente, this is jumbled non-sense, the oldspeak is small, medium, large, extra large); the government (Patriot Act = curbing of the Bill of Rights); the police (person of interest = suspect); and the military (surge = escalation,
air support = bombing, collateral damage = civilian deaths). They use jargon to distort comprehension. They wish to impose their manufactured system onto you. They use verbal subterfuge and camouflage. They wish to change our behavior, as if we were skinnerian rats.
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” — Dr. Joseph Göbbels
There are other transgressors. Recently, a certain Maria Reimondez is trying to use the courts to profit from her transgression. The Whitbread Book of the Year in 2003 went to Mark Haddon. Reimondez was to be the Galician translator. Moisés Barcia, the editor for the publisher, which ended her contract stated, “As we corrected her text, we realised that she was systematically translating neutral words into feminine ones, and masculine words into feminine or neutral forms ”. She went the path of inclusive language, which decries male orientation and replaces it with a feminisation. There is an apt expression for this: Il traduttore è traditore.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis* suggests that our sentient universe is more than described by our mental words and their textures. Your english-language, thought world is not the same as a Navajo’s universe. Different languages present the world differently. If you are bi-lingual you have a greater understanding of the universe, because each language is limited and each language perspective is different. Some things are very self-evident in one language and not in another. From this it follows that: he who tries to manipulate other’s words, manipulates their world. This, if, done for an interest counter to the other is violent.

Somewhere in the Gospels, Our God and Brother said something to the effect,“let your ‘yes’, be yes, and your ‘no’, be no.”† Jesus transmits that we should be honest and accurate in our speech. Politically correct or politically or socially coerced language is a sin against truth. Euphemisms such as “collateral damage” are lies. As Solženitsin said in his Nobel speech, “Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose falsehood as his PRINCIPLE.” Lies are violent, remember Aleksandr Isajevič spoke on their method and use. To substitute for socio-political reasons, “Our Creator” for “Our Father ” is of the same method and purpose. Jesus, always addressed the God of the Old Testament, by Abba, the familiar for Father. He, Jesus, was the Son, not the offspring. Any change for this Father-Son relationship is heresy, that is why language other than, in the name of the Father and of the Son ... is heresy; and if used in baptismal formulæ are invalid.

“And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. ” — Genesis i. 27.

If the common or unitive gender of our and many other languages is masculine, then the above is sensible, and beautiful. Feminist language of supposed inclusion makes this what?
*Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf. To some this is a form of linguistic determinism and linguistic relativity.
† But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.— Matthew v. 37. Here, Jesus was saying that the use of oaths, in addition to language, was not necessary, but still, the point is there. Later in James, the similar, “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath. But let your speech be, yea, yea: no, no: that you fall not under judgment.”

Monday, April 7, 2008

bushjr and Posterity

from Gary Trudeau’s Doonesbury strip 27 August 2006.

Richard Gephardt’s evaluation of bushjr as “a miserable failure”, stated September 4, 2003 at Albuquerque, New Mexico, is succinct and charitable. If history, dear Clio, were to be loquacious, she will produce a jeremiad of volumes, with footnotes to fill a shelf.

Jim Hightower, at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, in Atlanta Georgia spoke of his progenitor as a man “born on third base [who] thought he had hit a triple”. Well, jr, is a one, who swings wildly at three pitches, straight and fat down the middle and misses, all three, and says he hit a 500 foot home run.

bushjr is, now, fond of saying, that history will judge him well. He is lying. One, of his script liars, created a campaign to have him compared to Harry Truman. Truman is turning and cursing in his grave. Truman knew Republicans, and described them perfectly. bushjr is no Truman. Harding was a better president than bushjr, at least Harding realised he was incapable of the job, and he was not a warmonger; oh!, and he was legally elected. Now, there are some historians, who count Buchanan as the worst, because his presidency led to a war of secession. bushjr is creating new lows. No american individual, not Andy Jackson nor Dick Nixon, was so cavalier about the law. No one, other than possibly Cheney or Aaron Burr, has deserved impeachment more.

He is saying this to deflect criticism and questions. He is trying to use one-ups-man-ship to maintain, that he, knows more than you. The man is proud to be an anti-intellectual, and with that great standing, he posits his validity and false superiority; imagine a demonic, idiotic Münchhausen.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Emmaus Sunday

Abraham Bloemaert. The Emmaus Disciples 1622. Brussels.

And it came to pass, whilst he was at table with them, he took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to them.
And their eyes were opened, and they knew him: and he vanished out of their sight.—Luke xxiv. 30-31.

Here to-day, again, the mass. The resurrected Jesus meets two befuddled disciples. He explains how the scriptures refer to Himself (the liturgy of the Word). They go to a roadhouse, sit at table for cena, supper, and then finally (the liturgy of the Eucharist), they understand that it is Jesus before them.

Further, resemblance in instruction, the two candles are lit, as in all celebrations of mass. In Palestine, at the time, it probably would have been oil lamps. There are two jugs in the foreground, with water and wine?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Martin King and America -- 40 years on

Martin King was growing as a man and a leader, at the time, when a bullet ended his life. Civil Rights for negro americans was a just cause. For this alone, many revile him to-day. Since the success of legal recognition of equality, not one Democratic nominee for president, has achieved fifty percent of the white people’s vote. Clearly, Johnson’s belief, that the south was written away for a generation, was no exaggeration―it wasan understatement.

But, King was becoming more than an ethnic or race leader. His stature encompassed greater justice: peace, economic justice, labor rights, an end to unjust and unnecessary war and the failings and wrongdoing of his country on the world stage. This earned him greater enmity, even among those who agreed with him on the race issue. Many americans are willing, to a degree, to admit to racial inequality and suppression (especially in the past), but capitalism, militarism, nationalism and imperialism in calvinistic triumphalism and license are more central to the national psyche, and these views have not, yet, fallen.

The crisis of Kings original movements plaintiffs was being fractured, and to-day the negro [now identified as black or african american] family and culture is in greater crisis, and much of it is self afflicted. King was non-violent, some thought that was too soft and wrong or not adequate. Within the black community, King, if he to were to have lived, would have undergone further confrontation. We cannot know how it would have played.

Some of his speeches should be read by all students of american history and civics. He speaks, in them, as a striving christian, cognisant of the Old Testament prophets and of the teachings and passion of Jesus. As a personal aside, I was struck, by a certain understanding and reference that looked Catholic and Orthodox*; I am not personally familiar with the number of currents within black, american, christian churches. I asked a comrade at work, who grew up in that tradition, and he confirmed that he was not familiar with that emphasis or dwelling.

Martin King, like Bobby Kennedy, was taken from America too soon. Forty years is a long time. Martin did not finish forty. His death in Memphis, was caused by one, opportune, angry and hateful man, but one man alone was not the totality of his opposition. He came, in order, to aid striking garbagemen. They were negroes, but they were men, and they were workers, and they were mistreated on all these counts. To stand for what is right, even in America, is perilous. It was surely recognised then.

You don’t need to go out this morning saying that Martin Luther King is a saint. Oh, no. I want you to know this morning that I’m a sinner like all of God’s children. But I want to be a good man. 3 March 1968.
*One, in my understanding, was on the suffering Christ, the Christ we see on Good Friday.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Day by Day: another tale of Tom, Dick and Harry

Saint Richard of Wyche *1197, a pious farm boy of the lower gentry, went on to university at Oxford, Paris and Bologna. He became Bishop of Chichester against the wishes of royal Henry (III) and, for a time, was homeless. His exercise of sanctity was demonstrated in his insistence of correcting his priests and his generosity to the poor, precisely his office and duty as a christian. His canonisation was within a decade of his death. The guild of milanese coachman chose him as their patron.

Medieval England was intensely christian in many respects. His grave by the high altar in the cathedral became a pilgrimage center. His shrine was looted and destroyed on the command of Henry VIII, in 1538, as part of his plunder and pillage campaign against the one, true church. His bones were to be destroyed, as Becket’s and others were, but the zealousness of Henry’s courtiers was not quite so and, those, bones were divided and hid.

Upon his deathbed, on the 3rd of April 1253, surrounded by his clergy, he prayed:
Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits Thou hast given me,
For all the pains and insults Thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly,
Day by day. Amen.
Would this sound familiar? In the musical Godspell, it became the song; Day by Day.
Day by day
Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day
Are these the sentiments of the youth of the age of Aquarius or a servant of God in his middle 50s, full of the experience of life and of completed mental faculties? He recognizes Christ fully and wants to be continually, more acquainted with his "Redeemer, friend and brother". It is not the rhyming joy of frenzy, but the warm, intense, sincerity of love.

Perhaps, Richard echoed from Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians:

6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, and not of us.
8 In all things we suffer tribulation, but are not distressed; we are straitened, but are not destitute;
9 We suffer persecution, but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we perish not:
10 Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.
11 For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake; that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
13 But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have spoken; we also believe, for which cause we speak also:
14 Knowing that he who raised up Jesus, will raise us up also with Jesus, and place us with you.
15 For all things are for your sakes; that the grace abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory.
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen, are eternal.