Friday, August 29, 2008

Beheading of the Baptist

Andrea Solario. Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist. c.1506–7. New York City.

Solario was a milanese pupil of Leonardo. He painted this scene several times. The head of John is pale green, for the skin, without blood, is that hue. Salome, also, has the blood go from her face, and she is white with discomfort. The head hangs there, suspended by the executioner’s arm in a symmetry of separation and detachment. The trophy is about to be displayed in a basin. Solario gives extravagant portrayal to the girl’s clothing and jewelry. Renaissance draped finery is well painted. The style is a more flamboyant a portrait than da Vinci’s girl with the white ferret, Lady with ermine.
For Herod himself had sent and apprehended John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias the wife of Philip his brother, because he had married her. For John said to Herod: It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.Now Herodias laid snares for him: and was desirous to put him to death, and could not.For Herod feared John, knowing him to be a just and holy man: and kept him, and when he heard him, did many things: and he heard him willingly. And when a convenient day was come, Herod made a supper for his birthday, for the princes, and tribunes, and chief men of Galilee. And when the daughter of the same Herodias had come in, and had danced, and pleased Herod, and them that were at table with him, the king said to the damsel: Ask of me what thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he swore to her: Whatsoever thou shalt ask I will give thee, though it be the half of my kingdom. Who when she was gone out, said to her mother, What shall I ask? But she said: The head of John the Baptist. And when she was come in immediately with haste to the king, she asked, saying: I will that forthwith thou give me in a dish, the head of John the Baptist. And the king was struck sad. Yet because of his oath, and because of them that were with him at table, he would not displease her: But sending an executioner, he commanded that his head should be brought in a dish. And he beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a dish: and gave it to the damsel, and the damsel gave it to her mother. — Mark vi. 17-28.
Caravaggio invented black, (well, not really). He painted dark reality, and limned the darkest portions of the soul, and yet his appreciation of truth guides us to the bright light of salvation, though, he is extra-ordinarily stark and his graphic force would blind a camera, in his harsh drama.

As an exemplar, of the artistic expression, of the catholic reformation, and the baroque, Caravaggio holds a stellar rank. His own life spoke of the turmoil of the age. His interior psychological drama was fearsome. He had rough and seedy company. He, himself was a violent man. He had killed, and he was hunted. He stalked heaven through horror. He wanted the good, but it did not come effortlessly.

The Founder of our church suffered, was tortured and executed. Many of our heroes were red martyrs. Caravaggio’s commissions were often of the horrid, heroic sacrifice, and they are religious master works: grim, graphic, gory.Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.1608. La Valletta.

The sword is a long knife and it cuts. In this fearsome world, it cuts flesh and life’s blood flows away. In Caravaggio’s surviving œurve, there are several decapitations. There is Medusa’s severed head. He has David with Goliath’s head twice (Goliath being a self-portrait). He has Judith decollating Holofernes. He has two scenes of the Baptist. He has the Sacrifice of Isaac, just when the knife is about to be wielded to slice, it is averted by the angel’s intervention. The terror is there.

The other Baptist scene has Salome and the silver salver, comparable to the Solario. The one here was near the end. In the blood, there is Michelangelo’s name, this is his only signature, and it is abbreviated; a self reference with the killed. The scene takes outside the prison entrance, two jailees watch. A commanding official, the executioner, Salome, and an old female servant complete the scene.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saint Bartholomew

Portion of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment (with Saint Bartholomew). Sistine Chapel. Vatican.

The apostle we usually refer to as Bartholomew is also Nathanaël. Bartholomew is a patronymic, ‘bar’ is son, similar to the scot ‘Mac’ or the irish ‘O’. A full name might be Nathanaël son of Tolmai of Cana. He was a friend of Philip, whom brought him to Jesus:
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith to him: We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth. And Nathanael said to him: Can any thing of good come from Nazareth? Philip saith to him: Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him: and he saith of him: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile. Nathanael saith to him: Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered, and said to him: Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. — John i. 45-48.
Ribera has Bartholomew, about to be raised, on the cross. He was both flayed and crucified. Michelangelo was heavily criticised, in some clerical circles, over his fresco, The Last Judgment. In this depiction of Saint Bartholomew, Bart holds a flaying knife in one hand, and his skin in another. In religious iconography, it is common for a martyr to hold, or to be pictured with the implements of their martyrdom. The skin, he is holding, is not his own. There is no beard, and the face is the painter’s.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sébastien Râle

Well might the traveler stop to see
The tall, dark forms that take their way
From the birch canoe on the river shore,
And the forest paths, to that chapel door;
And marvel to mark the naked knees
And the dusky foreheads bending there,
While in coarse white vesture over these
In blessing or in prayer,
Stretching abroad his thin pale hands,
Like a shrouded ghost the Jesuit stands.
Mogg Megone
, John Greenleaf Whittier
The border of what came to be the maritime provinces of Canada, and New England, was not fixed until 1842*. The first half of the 18th century, the territory was disputed between french l’Acadie and english Massachusetts, and of course there were the aboriginals. There is the high school history question, “Who won the French and Indian War†?” Well, those were not the competitors, but the allied opponents of the british empire, of which the colonies, which were to form the United States, were a part.

In that territory, the french and the indians were united in faith. That faith, was the ancient faith that, was demonised by the calvinists of Massachusetts. Because of the valuable timber and furs that were coveted, and the fear of enemies that the english had, there was always a war looming.

Nanrantsouak/Norridgewock was the principle village of the Abenaki/Wabanaki/Abernaquois on the Kennebec. The christian, catholic, identification of the area’s indians began with the Passamaquoddy in 1604, and later with the Penobscot and Abenaki. Sébastien Râle§ S.J.*1652, came to Quebec in 1689, and to the Abenaki in 1695 where he founded a chapel (to replace a previously burned church) and school, which the english first burned with the village in 1705. L’Acadie was lost (when the War of Spanish Succession, ended with the Treaty of Utrecht 1713), and english settlement approached the Abenaki.

It was, specifically, illegal to be a priest in the colony of Massachusetts, the repeated presence was a capital crime. More than one expedition was made to execute the law, on Father Râle. Samuel Shute, governor of Massachusetts, discharged the expedition to take care of Râle, when the english made war|| on the Abenaki, in 1722. It was the first war, in which, an american government offered a bounty on scalps. The english and their colonists always feared, and entertained conspiracies of indians, frenchmen, spaniards and catholics, and hated all of them, and coveted their possessions. Râle was a frenchman, a catholic, a priest, a jesuit (the most hated and feared of catholics) and a major figure amongst the indians. All these earned him martyrdom. On August 23rd, 1724 the Massachusetts militia caught their prey. The accounts differ widely based on partisanship, but his scalp was a prized trophy, along with other items. The oldest account, includes that, he was shot dead, in front of an outdoor cross. Forty years later, the english provided another account.

When the survivors returned, they found his grossly, mutilated body and buried him, where the altar had been. A ‘fama sanctitatis’ began among the Abenaki, concerning Râle, and remains. The requirements, to be recognised, as a martyr are, that he willingly risked life, with fervor for the faith, to those ‘in odium fidei’. Father Râles cause was entered in 1941, with 115 other martyrs, by Dennis Cardinal Dougherty of Philadelphia.
*Webster-Ashburton Treaty
†In the colonial period, wars were often named after the opponent (King Philip’s War 1675, Father Rasle’s War 1724-1726, French-Indian Wars 1754-1763) or the ruler of the time (King William’s War 1689, Queen Anne’s War 1702); similarly, to-day, it would be the Second Iraqui War 2003- , or george bush junior’s war 2003- .
‡The english settled in 1773, the town incorporated in 1804, and is now Madison, Maine.
§the circumflex a (â), in french orthography, suggests a, sometimes missing, following s, hence: Râle, Rasle, Rasles
||Dummer’s, Father Rale’s, Greylock’s, Lovewell’s, Three Years, or the 4th Indian War (1722-1725).

Monday, August 18, 2008


The original meaning of steward was house guardian. His job was to protect and maintain . This, often, in lieu, vicariously of the owner, hence we are all called to be stewards of the earth, because the earth is not ours. The earth belongs to its Creator. Over the centuries the word was applied to other situations.

A union steward (including job and shop) is a full time member working as an employee in his field. He is also a union representative on the job. He is liaison between the union hall and the men (rank and file). He is there to defend the working agreement, and to see that each one of the men is treated equitably. He is there to see that laws and safety regulations are upheld. He is there to represent, and defend, the men from accusations and “disciplinary action”*. It is often said, that, a good steward is laid off at the end of the job. I work construction. The crews wax and wane. In this jurisdiction, we have men who come out of the hall, from the book (the out of work list) and shop regulars. The good steward, having attempted to hold the contractor and his agents to the rules, is resented and dismissed. THE CONTRACTING EMPLOYER CHEATS. Cutting corners equals profit. Profit is the sole reason they became an employer. They see the contract as a one way document, not a dual contract. They are quite jealous of their prerogatives, they are quite ignorant of their responsibilities.

A bad steward, is a company steward. The company has no right to choose the steward. When a shop regular is continually a job steward, it is collusion. If the shop is too comfortable with the shop steward, that is not good. Some adversarial relationship is necessary. All union members, and especially representatives, need to be advocates. When accommodation is too frequent, or when, heaven forbid, it is routine, it is disaster. The wobblies (IWW) had a motto “an injury to one is an injury to all.” We need to think that way.

Now some stewards are political animals of self interest. He wants it easy. He wants light work, he may be willing to run the coffee pot, collect for check pools and socialise. Some are appointed by the hall on favoritism. Our agreement has it, that if no one is appointed, the first man on the job is foreman and he second journeyman is the acting steward. Now, as steward, he is to remain on the job as the second last man. On a long job, this is job security. So, the steward has choices, of whom to serve: himself, the employer, the union or the men.

There is a false argument circulating, that the customer is on this list. He may be co-laterally, not directly. There are contracts legal, oral, traditional and moral. These contracts are dual. One way, or singular, contracts are tyranny and slavery, where there exists a master/slave relationship. Labor has a contract with management/employer/contractor. The contractor has another with the customer. Labor does not have one with the customer, now labor could have one; the middleman, the contractor would be expendable. The moneyed interests, that have made an idol of capitalism, will not brook this notion to be made publicly.

In the IBEW (electrical workers) construction locals, there is a movement from the IO President, Ed Hill, to force the “code of excellence”. One of the odious elements is to transform the steward into a whip†. A whip, in legislatures, is that party member that enforces discipline. Here that would make him a goon for the foreman and contractor. It is bad, that, we have members, whom have full member rights, that are foremen and act as agents of the contractor. They often, in that guise, are an enemy to the men. Granted, there are foremen, who are good brothers, and protect their men from the contractor. Such men make the steward’s job easy. But, a steward who becomes a whip is despicable.

To-day, there was a large layoff (38, how appropriate, journeymen and 1 apprentice signed the book) at Brookpark Ford. That includes the two men fired, while maintaining safety protocol, that were mentioned in an earlier post, at Walton Hills Ford. Herbst Electric was kicked off the job, after Ford found out, that Herbst lied and cheated extensively, and were arrogant about it. Many safety protocols were not done. Safety equipment was not inspected or replaced. Much paperwork was not done. Promises were not kept. So, the men are out of work.
*usually termination of employment
†that term is not used

Sunday, August 17, 2008

14th Sunday after Pentecost — God or Mammon

nemo potest duobus dominis servire ... The Gospel for to-day, in the extra-ordinary rite is from the 6th chapter of Matthew:
No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought, can add to his stature by one cubit? And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. And if the grass of the field, which is to-day, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith? Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.
Surely, this chapter would disturb a great many, it is a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount, the ethical apex of christian theology, if it was heard or read attentively. Jesus speaks against the hypocrites, and implores us, not to be like them. He then, gives us His prayer, that begins, ‘Our Father’. He also says, “For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.” Christ the logician. We make choices. As in Dylan’s song, Youre gonna have to serve somebody. This society is materialistic, and desires material things, and the vehicle of this consumption of riches is capitalism. This country needs to hear jeremiads and invocations against Lord Mammon, but our homilists and would be orators are co-opted or fearful. The United States is a plutocracy, where the highest absolute is profit/lucre/mammon.

The first brasilian bishop to be interrogated by the military was Pedro Casadaliga. When, once, he spoke about his country
’s national debt, he did say, ... debt has already been collected by taking our natural resources and cheap labor. It was collected in our infant mortality, and in the blood, and deaths of our people.” This internationalisation of capitalistic materialism preys on all, for the benefit of few. There is nothing the servants of Mammon will not sacrifice for it, especially, if it comes from someone else.Evelyn Pickering de Morgan. The Worship of Mammon.1909. London.
Notice the wretch, supra, who bows before the knee of Mammon and gazes. Mammon does not meet her eyes, his face we cannot see. Perhaps, one or both are blind. His bag of bounty is outstreched and closed. It is a scene of want in spiritual darkness. The lilies of the field make for a pleasanter consideration.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My bugle calls for peace ...

Sometime in the early fifties, the troubadour, Woody Guthrie wrote, Peace Call. It took over 50 years for anyone to release a recording. Eliza Gilkyson joined Mary Chapin Carpenter, Iris Dement and Patty Griffin, on Gilkyson’s 2004 album, in a sweet plaintive chorus:
Peace, peace, peace, peace, peace, peace, peace.
I can hear the bugle sounding,
Roaming around my land, my city and my town;
Peace, peace, peace, peace, peace, peace, peace.
I can hear the horn and voices ring louder,
While my bugle calls for peace.
The bugle developed from an animal horn blown to signal. Postmen, in some countries, blew their horn to announce mail. Norway, traditionally, had stamps issued with the posthorn pictured. But, its more stereotypical use was for communication on the battlefield. There were calls for: assembly, attention, charge, mess, retreat, reveille, taps, to arms and others. Guthrie added one for peace, one that the army had not.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dormition and Assumption of Mary

The Apostolic constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, was the ex cathedra statement of the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, proclaimed by Pius XII, in 1950. The only other instance, of the exercise, of infallibilty was in 1854, when Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Even these official dogmatic statements were not new. These articles of belief were widely understood since the beginning of christianity. As with the New Testament, and the doctrine of the Trinity, they took time to formulate into declarative statements.

We believe at the end of her earthly life, the Mother of Our Saviour, Mary the Theotokos fell asleep. Later she was bodily assumed to heaven. Before her Dormition, the remaining apostles gathered in the house of Saint John to see her.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Judgment of Solomon

Raphaël. The Judgment of Solomon. c.1518-1519. Vatican

The amazing, yet unrealised, marvel of Solomon’s judgment is, that, it was never carried out. If it was, then great tragedy and wrong would have occurred, but precisely, because, it was not executed (and was not meant to have been) it was just and meet.

This came to me at work, early monday morning. My little project, at the moment, was to reduce the length of an arm of equipment, so that it would clear between two fences. Instead of allowing me to take a good measurement, as I was perched on top of a stool, some unidentified, and rude, Ford management person wanted the halfway point immediately. This was not the right measurement, for the arm moved on a pivot creating a radius, it did not move in parallel. There were other things that might have changed the measurement, they turned out to be negligible, but the operative point was the radius. The piece came back too short. Luckily, the remainder was longer, and that was cut, the next day, with a good measurement, without the presence of management.

Well, it was customary that the king’s, or magistrate
’s, or potentate’s judgment was irrevocable, and had to be carried out exactly. Mercy and sense were not required. Management still has that cavalier air of diktat. Recently (27 July), the Sunday’s Old Testament reading was the gift of wisdom to Solomon. This story, in the second part of that chapter, past the liturgical recitation, of the baby is quite a memorable story to women, and of course to others, that demonstrated Solomon’s wisdom. This was early in his reign, so Solomon should not be portrayed as an old man, for as the years progressed, he allowed for great error to grow in the kingdom.
Then there came two women that were harlots, to the king, and stood before him: And one of them said: I beseech thee, my lord, I and this woman dwelt in one house, and I was delivered of a child with her in the chamber. And the third day, after that I was delivered, she also was delivered, and we were together, and no other person with us in the house, only we two.And this woman's child died in the night: for in her sleep she overlaid him. And rising in the dead time of the night, she took my child from my side, while I thy handmaid was asleep, and laid it in her bosom: and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold it was dead: but considering him more diligently when it was clear day, I found that it was not mine which I bore. And the other woman answered: It is not so as thou sayest, but thy child is dead, and mine is alive. On the contrary she said: Thou liest: for my child liveth, and thy child is dead. And in this manner they strove before the king.Then said the king: The one saith, My child is alive, and thy child is dead. And the other answereth: Nay, but thy child is dead, and mine liveth. The king therefore said: Bring me a sword. And when they had brought a sword before the king, Divide, said he, the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. But the woman whose child was alive, said to the king, (for her bowels were moved upon her child,) I beseech thee, my lord, give her the child alive, and do not kill it. But the other said: Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. The king answered, and said: Give the living child to this woman, and let it not be killed, for she is the mother thereof. And all Israel heard the judgment which the king had judged, and they feared the king, seeing that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment. — 3 Kings iii. 16-28. DRC.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How can I keep from singing?

One of many versions undergoing continual editing:

1.) My life goes on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

2.) While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
And though the darkness ’round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

3.) When tyrants tremble in their fear
And hear their death knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging,
When friends by shame are undefiled
How can I keep from singing?

The provenance of this song is slightly murky. I would sleuth it in the following manner. The original lines were written by Anne Warner, circa 1864. The Baptist preacher and writer, and sometimes collaborator with Ira Sankey, Robert Lowry, published it in 1869, and has, sometimes, been credited as its author. Doris Plenn learned it in a North Carolina familial setting, surmising it to be a Quaker* song. In 1956, she added the new topical lyrics. It was then introduced to folk music by Pete Seeger in 1957. It has been recorded by several notable folk singers (Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie, Noel (of PP&M) Stookey, Eva Cassidy) and by Enya and by Bruce Springsteen. Finding it on radio would be quite difficult. It has been recently performed by Martin Sheen on Prairie Home Companion.

A version appears in the missal and hymnal at my parish church. The book is printed anew each year, with it being there for many years. I do not recall it, ever being sung, there. A pity, it is a beautiful tune and song.

I have highlighted the anti-Joe
McCarthy, anti-fascist words of Doris Plenn, whom, added on to a religious song of constancy and joy in faith, which was written during a time of war. That war between the Union and the confederates is the fulcrum of american history. No division in this country has ever been greater, nor bloodier. But, Ms. Warner sang with a serene and certain joy. Truly, the words peel off the voice wonderfully.

The tune is both sweet and forceful. With the addition it is triumphant, the wicked leviathan is at death
s rattle and the surviving persecuted are to be redeemed. The celebration of justice is marked.

The original celebrates the paradise, of the New Jerusalem, that will prevail over the present, wretched, destruction of war. That destruction does not whelm, and certainly not overwhelm the faith. The faith is kept, the witness is made, the reward exists, none-the-less. The powers of the world do not win. Love and Truth, the attributes of Our Lord Jesus Christ are irresistible.
*Apparently, it is now in several hymnals. People will confuse Quaker with Shaker. It has become an indeterminate christian hymn, and since it rarely says Jesus, the unitarians can sing it too. Some librarian could chart its publication appearances. I would guess, it may have not seen much ink between 1870 to 1955. The folkies have resurrected a hymn, a song too good not to be sung.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saint Lawrence

Tilman Riemenschneider. Saint Lawrence. c.1502. Cleveland.

In the Cleveland Art Museum, in a time before its recent closure for renovation, there stood in the only room that had a door (a glass door), two, similar, painted and gilded lindenwood statues, that of Saint Lawrence with his grill, and Saint Stephen with rocks, both wearing a dalmatic. It is common in iconography of martyrs, to be portrayed with the implements of martyrdom. The room had 18th century french upholstery, and the stale, choking stench was terrible. In Saint Stephen’s Church, Cleveland, on one wall there are two windows of Stephen; on the opposite wall two of Lawrence. Also in Stephen’s church, there is a window of Nicodemus receiving secret instruction from Jesus. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin (as was Gamaliel). He was scared. He did help to bury Jesus. It was the Sanhedrin, which martyred Stephen. The windows in a church, often, tell a combined and lengthier story, than, many would think.

There stories are similar. Stephen and Lawrence were deacons and martyrs. Stephen in Jerusalem 35, Lawrence in Rome 258.

Pope Sixtus II was executed, and Lawrence was told to bring the riches of the church to the state, by the prefect of Rome. Three days later, he brought the poor, the crippled,the blind, the orphaned and the aged. The state was not amused.

He was executed in the fashion of grilled meat. He had humor. He told them, to turn him over, for he was only being cooked on the one side. The effect of his martyrdom on Rome was dramatic, the city’s conversion was accelerating. He had the Holy Grail, the Chalice of the Cena sent to his native Spain, he had sold the other church property, to be distributed to the poor, before his last day.

Now, August 3rd, is the Invention (the discovery) of Saint Stephen and Gamaliel, Abidon, the son of Gamaliel, and Nicodemus. Their relics (remains) were found in an abandoned tomb, and were brought to Jerusalem, then some to Constantinople, and then to Rome. Some of Stephen’s relics are in the tomb of Lawrence in Rome, in the Basilica of Saint Lawrence outside of the walls.
noto bene: The tears of Saint Lawrence, he cried when Sixtus was taken, and now on his day, the Perseid meteor showers are seen, and are also known by that name. Also, when he was martyred people must have noticed the streaks of the comet Swift-Tuttle.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Chinese Olympics

The propaganda, preening and placement of this Olympics must, assuredly, be compared to the Berlin games. This is a production of the Chinese government and the party that controls it. China wishes a prominent rôle on the world stage, and they wish to direct it as much as possible.

Yesterday, I watched the first hour and a half of NBC’s coverage, until I could take no more. I dislike shilling, and the first half hour was pure shilling, not just for the show, and China, but for g.ogre bush junior. The president of the United States has never travelled to an olympic game outside the US.

China, as many people know, occupies Tibet. Less publicised, acknowledged and prominent in the mind of the public is China’s relationship with Sudan. China has combined capitalism and communism in an unique and terrifying manner. It is exercising the might of technology against nature. The perpetual smog that envelops Beijing will be emblematic of this olympics. It is a marriage of materialism against the human spirit. Freedom of thought, political and religious, does not exist. The rights of the workers, do not exist. Respect for anything other than profit and political influence, do not exist. It is the exercise of raw power.

Bush is being criticised, justly, in some quarters for his visit. His defenders argue, falsely, that it would be a diplomatic slight if he did not appear. There is no precedent, for him to appear. He has had no problem with ignoring protocol, or creating diplomatic slights. He wants to be there. The chinese way of doing business is his way of doing business. He enjoys being a fêtard as he is the supposed president.

It must also be noted that, the current premier of Russia, Vladimir Putin, was there too, on the day where his country engaged in a new war, with the former province, now state, of Georgia. So goes the olympic truce. The french president has also come. China has become one of the world’s power players. So goes the olympics.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Saint Dominic *1170, †1221

El Greco. Saint Dominic in Prayer. c.1590. Madrid.
Dominique by The Singing Nun, Souer Luc-Gabrielle, Jeanine Deckers
Dominique, nique, nique
S’en allait tout simplement,
Routier pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu.

A l’époque où Jean-Sans-Terre
D’Angleterre était roi,
Dominique, notre père,
Combattit les Albigeois.

Certain jour un hérétique
Par des ronces le conduit,
Mais notre Père Dominique
Par sa joie le convertit.

Ni chameau, ni diligence,
Il parcourt l’Europe à pied.
Scandinavie ou Provence
Dans la sainte pauvreté.

Enflamma de toute écoles
Filles et garçons pleins d'ardeur,
Et pour semer la Parole
Inventa les Frères Prêcheurs.

Chez Dominique et Ses Frères
Le pain s’en vint à manquer
Et deux anges se présentèrent,
Portant deux grands pains dorés.

Dominique vit en rêve
Les prêcheurs du monde entier,
Sous le manteau de la Vierge
En grand nombre rassemblés.

Dominique, mon bon père,
Garde-nous simples et gais
Pour annoncer à nos frères
La Vie et La Vérité.
Dominique, nique, nique
Goes along very simply
Traveling in poverty and singing.
On every road, in every place,
He just talks about the good God,
He just talks about the good God.

In the age when John Lackland
Was the king of England,
our father,
Fought the Albigensians.

A certain day an heretic
Led him through the brambles,
But our father Dominic,
Through his own joy converted him.

Without a camel, nor diligence,
He travelled Europe on foot,
Scandinavia or Provence,
In saintly poverty.

He enflamed
all the schools
Boys and girls full of
And by sowing the word
He founded the Order of Preachers.

In the home of Dominic & his brothers,
Bread started becoming scarce,
And two angels presented themselves,
Bearing two great golden loaves.

Dominic saw in a dream
The preachers of the whole world
Under the mantle of the Virgin
In great number assembled.

Dominique, my good Father,
Keep us simple and merry
By announcing to our brothers
The Way and the Truth.

Who would think that the following verse would be at the top of the radio and ecord charts in an anglo-saxon protestant land? On one certain day, a heretic led through the brambles our Father Dominic, whom joyfully converted him [the heretic].
Certain jour un hérétique
Par des ronces le conduit,
Mais notre père Dominique
Par sa joie le convertit.
There is a parochial humor, a humor of rivalry within the faith, between parts of the church, between orders. Often it is the Jesuit, who is in the punch line. We had essay questions that often began, “Compare and contrast”. Well, this certain one begins: Compare and contrast the Dominicans and the Jesuits.
Student: They were both founded by Spaniards. St. Dominic de Osma founded the Dominicans, and St. Ignatius de Loyola, the Jesuits. An early mission was to combat heresy — the Dominicans: the Albigensians; the Jesuits: the Protestants.

Teacher: Ok, good. Now, how were they different?

Student: When was the last time, anyone saw an Albigensian?
The song also tells us Dominic travelled through Provence and Scandinavia. He did, and he encountered the cathar heresy in the Occitan (southern France) . He was surprised that the heretical preachers were educated and even eloquent. Dominic wanted to confront and defeat them intellectually. He publicly debated them several times. He wanted to start a movement, and a religious order, to combat the heresy.

The area about Toulouse (Prouille, Fanjeaux, Montpellier, Servian, Béziers, Carcassonne) was a center of his activity, and so was the university town of Bologna. He devoted himself to severe poverty, and mortification to his body. And this was the serious programme that he believed would achieve success. Many miracles were wrked in his life. He was quickly recognised as a saint, officially in 1234.

Final confirmation of the establishment of the Ordo Praedicatorum, Order of Preachers, O.P. was granted 22 December 1216. Pope Honorius III supported the preachers greatly. In 1217 Dominic preached, in Rome, during Lent. He was named to the office and title of Master of the Sacred Palace, theologian to the pope, which has remained with the Order of Preachers. The order was established at the University of Paris, the foremost centre of theology, and at many other sites. The order maintains a preferred rôle in biblical studies in the Holy Land.

The two great mendicant orders were beginning contemporaneously. Dominic and Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Ordo Fratrum Minorum (OFM), met each other in Rome. The Franciscans lived the spirit of the Beatitudes, and the Dominicans the zeal of the Apostles.
It is not by the display of power and pomp, cavalcades of retainers, and richly-houseled palfreys, or by gorgeous apparel, that the heretics win proselytes; it is by zealous preaching, by apostolic humility, by austerity, by seeming, it is true, but by seeming holiness. Zeal must be met by zeal, humility by humility, false sanctity by real sanctity, preaching falsehood by preaching truth. — Dominic 1208.
*albigensian=cathar, Albi is a town in Provence=Languedoc=Midi=Occitan near Toulouse, where one of the debates took place. The cathars were gnostic dualists, who devalued the body since it was the evil creation of an evil god. In their schema: There were two gods. The crucifixion did not happen, reincarnation was possible, the Eucharist was denounced and so on. The Old Testament tells of the evil god. Only the cathars were the true christians, catholics were corrupt. There were two classes of believers. Secret knowledge was denied to the inferior believers. Pregnancy was evil, marriage was too, all sexual activities were permitted by the inferior believers. The superior believers, the perfect, would pretend to extreme asceticism. Frequent preaching with novel, twisting exegeses were employed.
They have been promoted and eulogised by those who hate catholicism: masons, atheists, and extreme protestants. Whom have made them martyrs for enlightenment, or proponents of free thought and “biblical christianity”. They are far, more similar to a new age cult.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Duccio. The Transfiguration. 1308-11. London.
AND after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. — Matthew xvii.1-6.
I always thought, that, this feast deserved more emphasis, than it receives. On Mount Thabor, the inner goup of apostles, Peter and the brothers James and John experience a theophany. They see an appearance of their Master, that they had not seen. They see Him with Moses and Elias, the law and the prophets and all is directed toward Jesus. Both, Moses and Elias, had been in the presence of God the Father on Mount Sinai (Horeb). Moses saw the burning bush there, and received the commandments. Elias was hiding and found God in the description of an enigmatic, even seemingly, contradictory, phrase*, that has been translated many ways: ‘whistling of a gentle air’, ‘still small voice’, ‘sound of thin silence’,‘le murmure d’une brise légère’...

The three synoptic gospels describe this, the two witnesses, John and Peter allude to it. God the Father speaks the words, He spoke at Jesus’ baptism. Jesus becomes transfigured (metemorphothe) and is a brilliant white. The three apostles saw, for the first time, something of His Divinity.

Gregory Palamas, makes a great deal of this light of Thabor. Amongst the eastern church, there has been debate about this internal light of Jesus made manifest, and the mystical, quiet, experience and prayer that considers it, hesychasm. Recently, John Paul II has added five mysteries to the prayer of the rosary, the 4th Luminous Mystery is the Transfiguration.
*but this is the misunderstanding of evocative and poetical language, rules of mathematics do not apply, a small silence, or sound of silence is comparative, not opposite.
et post commotionem ignis non in igne Dominus et post ignem sibilus auræ tenuis — 3 Kings xix.12. And after the earthquake a fire: the Lord is not in the fire, and after the fire a whistling of a gentle air.— DRC
noto bene: in Cleveland, O., there was a Transfiguration parish. The first george bush campaigned there, it was struck by lightning and burned to ruin.

August 6th, was also the bombing of Hiroshima, the beginning of the atomic age.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

12th Sunday after Pentecost — Good Samaritan

Immaculate Conception Church. Cleveland, O. Luke x. 30-34.

25 And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him, and saying, Master, what must I do to possess eternal life?
26 But he said to him: What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said to him: Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbour?
30 And Jesus answering, said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him, and having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead.
31 And it chanced, that a certain priest went down the same way: and seeing him, passed by.
32 In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by.
33 But a certain Samaritan being on his journey, came near him; and seeing him, was moved with compassion.
34 And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine: and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And the next day he took out two pence, and gave to the host, and said: Take care of him; and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee.
36 Which of these three, in thy opinion, was neighbour to him that fell among the robbers?
37 But he said: He that shewed mercy to him. And Jesus said to him: Go, and do thou in like manner.

It is the Charity of the despised (for the chosen people were haughty and disdainful of others) Samaritan, that, Jesus enjoins on us, not the cleverness of the lawyer, or the self righteousness of the self justified pious. The attitude of the satisfied Levite, (the priest is already distant on the road, not much more distinguishable than a stump or a stick), as he pretends not to see, is wonderfully caught in the window supra. His hands are holding each other, so that, they can do nothing. ‘Who is my neighbour?’ Let this question be asked, in different forms, in America, and watch the responses.

The christian faith is a demanding one. It is not the way of the comfortably selfish. Often, as Jesus shows us, it is those, whom are looked down upon, as not being proper citizens of the correct beliefs and heritage, that are the true neighbours, the true followers of Christ. As it has been said, Jesus has come to comfort the afflicted and ...
noto bene: some gospel passages are repeated, this one was also read on September 9, for Saint Peter Claver.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Saint Peter in Chains

Filippino Lippi. Deliverance of St. Peter from Prison. c. 1480. Brancacci chapel. Florence.

St. Peter’s chains, are traditionally believed to have, arrived in Rome in 116, brought by the martyr St. Balbina and her father, St. Quirinus. San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains), a minor basilica in Rome, holds those chains from Jerusalem, and Rome’s Mamertine Prison. That church also has Michelangelo’s horned statue of Moses is also there.Saint Peter in Chains is also the cathedral in Cincinnati.
AND at the same time, Herod the king stretched forth his hands, to afflict some of the church. And he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. And seeing that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to take up Peter also. Now it was in the days of the Azymes. And when he had apprehended him, he cast him into prison, delivering him to four files of soldiers to be kept, intending, after the pasch, to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison. But prayer was made without ceasing by the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him: and a light shined in the room: and he striking Peter on the side, raised him up, saying: Arise quickly. And the chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said to him: Gird thyself, and put on thy sandals. And he did so. And he said to him: Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And going out, he followed him, and he knew not that it was true which was done by the angel: but thought he saw a vision. And passing through the first and the second ward, they came to the iron gate that leadeth to the city, which of itself opened to them. And going out, they passed on through one street: and immediately the angel departed from him. — Acts of the Apostles xii. 1-10.
It is a relic, that most people would not expect. The faith of a believer is often rewarded harshly, yet he keeps the faith. The chains are less a burden than the cross.

Filippino Lippi *1459,†1504 was the son of Fra Filippo Lippi. In 1469 he was orphaned. He became apprenticed, to one of his father’s pupils, Sandro Botticelli. The young Lippi completed the commission started by Masaccio †1428, with several frescoes on the life of Saint Peter. About the pilaster of the entrance is, the above, in another fresco Peter is being visited in prison, by another saint. The angel is at centre calmly in white, at right is a sleeping jailer, and the haloed Peter in between. The man on the other side of the angel, looking at the viewer, is, sometimes, identified as having the likeness of the painter.

Also traditionally this day, or the Transfiguration, five days later, was celebrated the “blessing of new fruits”. In England, to-day was Lammas Day, loaf mass day, when the wheat harvest was celebrated. A loaf was brought to church. Rents were paid.