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Thursday 26 September 2013

More Discussions with Millennials

Well, the problems of bad catechesis proliferate. I have been talking with so many young people who either are cradle Catholics or are converts who came through local RCIAs.  There seems to be a lack of understanding in three areas which they have brought up to me.

The first is a woeful lack of knowledge of the Creed. The Creed, of course, is the main subject of the CCC, and therefore, some good commentary is available to all people from age 12 up or so. As Catholics, we are a credal people and not to have understood or studied the Creed reveals that the basics have not been taught.  Without an understanding of the Creed, one is, sadly, an ignorant Catholic. But, this information is not secret and can be found on line as well as in the printed version of the CCC and the Compendium.

The second area of concern revealed in these conversations is almost no knowledge of what Tradition and Revelation mean. Most Catholics think like Protestants and think that only the information in the Scripture is binding, or infallible. The lacuna of understanding regarding where infallibility lies disturbs me. One meets two extremes in the younger Catholics-one, some think all the Pope states is infallible; two, some do not know what teachings are infallible. Sadly, some priests have given bad teaching on these points. A Catholic must know what the teachings of the Church are in order the think and live like a Catholic.

The third area of confusion has to do with sexual ethics. The younger Catholics have not been given clear and consistent teaching locally on ssm, ssa, NFP, and chastity.

However, the good news is that many of the Millennials want the real deal about Catholic teaching. Many of the seminarians have noted that they are more conservative, that is, more Catholic than their parents. Good thing, too....

To be continued....

Mater Misericordiae Will Add to This Number

2013 Worldwide Abortion Count Sept 17th 30,628,000 unborn children killed so far this year.

What a blasphemy for Mater Hospital.

Be Open, Please

This is the time to consider helping with the House of Adoration. Please pray about being part of this project.

Irish Catholic Hospital Agrees To Do Abortions

Have mercy on us, God. They could have held the Catholic position and said no. Horrible. So many people who cooperate with evil do not understand that the evil is now their responsibility.

Second Street Preacher Arrested in Great Britain

How sad that some middle age and older women are rude.

Tolkien, Auden, Sheen and The Pearl Poet All in One Post

As I am  borrowing the latest publication from  J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fall of Arthur, and finally beginning to read it, I shall comment on this amazing poem later.

Tolkien's writings have formed the imagination of several generations of readers and cinema buffs, of course. But, the genius of his writings escapes most eyes. He is truly one of the last centuries' greatest philologists. Recall, also, that he was one of those scholars who worked on the Jerusalem Bible.

Having the joy of teaching the Arthurian myths to classes of eager students long ago, I have studied the various works concerning Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot, including the Mabinogion. Of course, my studies in David Jones would have been another connection to the corpus of works.

I have a strange academic background at the doctoral level, as I took the courses at ND for a Medieval Literature Degree as well as the Modern Poetry and Literature Degree, as I could not make up my mind which to follow for a career. Then, after all my exams and beginning my thesis, I ended up in Theology at Bristol. As it happened, the overlaps proved invaluable. I think I am one of the few people who has actually read some of the arcane Middle English poems and Breton lais which would have been the stuff of Tolkien's daily study. However, his amazing talents lie in earlier poetry, from the Anglo-Saxon and Norse periods, which I studied a bit, but did not pursue as a specialty. Of course, who does not love all of these great poems and epics, even in translation? W. H. Auden, another great scholar, said that Tolkien's poem in The Return of the King, concerning the Battle of Pelennor Fields was the best example of the ancient genre. Quite a compliment from one of the best poets of the 20th Century......

 Here is a section

We heard of the horns in the hills ringing, 
the swords shining in the South-kingdom. 
Steeds went striding to the Stoningland 
as wind in the morning. War was kindled. 
There Théoden fell, Thengling mighty, 
to his golden halls and green pastures 
in the Northern fields never returning, 
high lord of the host. Harding and Guthláf 
Dúnhere and Déorwine, doughty Grimbold, 
Herefara and Herubrand, Horn and Fastred, 
fought and fell there in a far country: 
in the Mounds of Mundburg under mould they lie 
with their league-fellows, lords of Gondor. 
Neither Hirluin the Fair to the hills by the sea, 
nor Forlong the old to the flowering vales 
ever, to Arnach, to his own country 
returned in triumph; nor the tall bowmen, 
Derufin and Duilin, to their dark waters, 
meres of Morthond under mountain-shadows. 
Death in the morning and at day's ending 
lords took and lowly. Long now they sleep 
under grass in Gondor by the Great River. 
Grey now as tears, gleaming silver, 
red then it rolled, roaring water: 
foam dyed with blood flamed at sunset; 
as beacons mountains burned at evening; 
red fell the dew in Rammas Echor.
The Lord of the Rings
Song of the Mounds of Mundberg, The Return of the King Book 5, Chapter 'The Battle of the Pelennor Fields'.

His review of that book from 1956 may be found here.

As I tell friends, one of the reasons I loved the Medieval studies so much was that all the nice students were in Medieval and the nasty ones in Modern.  Hmmm. And, as another aside, I still have one of my 1970s calendars of Tolkien, by the Hildebrandt brothers, one of whom, Greg, some of you may recognize as the painter of the famous portrait of Ven. Fulton J. Sheen. This calendar is the only one I have left, although I bought them each year in the seventies for several years.

Here is a sample of one of my favorite poems below. I shall get back to the Tolkien later. For some history on the Arthurian texts, check out this site here. By the way, a person has to be a little crazy to take an entire class on The Faerie Queene.

A selection from The Perle.




'O perle', quod I, 'in perle3 py3t,
Art þou my perle þat I haf playned,
Regretted by myn one on ny3te?
Much longeyng haf I for þe layned,
Syþen into gresse þou me agly3te.
Pensyf, payred, I am forpayned,
And þou in a lyf of lykyng ly3te,
In Paradys erde, of stryf vnstrayned.
What wyrde hat3 hyder my iuel vayned,
And don me in þys del and gret daunger?
Fro we in twynne wern towen and twayned,
I haf ben a joyle3 juelere.'That juel þenne in gemme3 gente
Vered vp her vyse wyth y3en graye,
Set on hyr coroun of perle orient,
And soberly after þenne con ho say:
'Sir, 3e haf your tale mysetente,
To say your perle is al awaye,
Þat is in cofer so comly clente
As in þis gardyn gracios gaye,
Hereinne to lenge for euer and play,
Þer mys nee mornyng com neuer nere.
Her were a forser for þe, in faye,
If þou were a gentyl jueler.




'Bot, jueler gente, if þou schal lose
Þy ioy for a gemme þat þe wat3 lef,
Me þynk þe put in a mad porpose,
And busye3 þe aboute a raysoun bref;
For þat þou leste3 wat3 bot a rose
Þat flowred and fayled as kynde hyt gef.
Now þur3 kynde of þe kyste þat hyt con close
To a perle of prys hit is put in pref.
And þou hat3 called þy wyrde a þef,
Þat o3t of no3t hat3 mad þe cler;
Þou blame3 þe bote of þy meschef,
Þou art no kynde jueler.'A juel to me þen wat3 þys geste,
And iuele3 wern hyr gentyl sawe3.
'Iwyse', quod I, 'my blysfol beste,
My grete dystresse þou al todrawe3.
To be excused I make requeste;
I trawed my perle don out of dawe3.
Now haf I fonde hyt, I schal ma feste,
And wony wyth hyt in schyr wod-schawe3,
And loue my Lorde and al his lawe3
Þat hat3 me bro3t þys blys ner.
Now were I at yow by3onde þise wawe3,
I were a ioyful jueler.'





'Jueler', sayde þat gemme clene,
'Wy borde 3e men? So madde 3e be!
Þre worde3 hat3 þou spoken at ene:
Vnavysed, for soþe, wern alle þre.
Þou ne woste in worlde quat on dot3 mene;
Þy worde byfore þy wytte con fle.
Þou says þou trawe3 me in þis dene,
Bycawse þou may wyth y3en me se;
Anoþer þou says, in þys countré
Þyself schal won wyth me ry3t here;
Þe þrydde, to passe þys water fre --
Þat may no ioyfol jueler.

'I halde þat iueler lyttel to prayse
Þat leue3 wel þat he se3 wyth y3e,
And much to blame and vncortayse
Þat leue3 oure Lorde wolde make a ly3e,
Þat lelly hy3te your lyf to rayse,
Þa3 fortune dyd your flesch to dy3e.
3e setten hys worde3 ful westernays
Þat leue3 noþynk bot 3e hit sy3e.
And þat is a poynt o sorquydry3e,
Þat vche god mon may euel byseme,
To leue no tale be true to try3e
Bot þat hys one skyl may dem.





'Deme now þyself if þou con dayly
As man to God worde3 schulde heue.
Þou sayt3 þou schal won in þis bayly;
Me þynk þe burde fyrst aske leue,
And 3et of graunt þou my3te3 fayle.
Þou wylne3 ouer þys water to weue;
Er moste þou ceuer to oþer counsayle:
Þy corse in clot mot calder keue.
For hit wat3 forgarte at Paradys greue;
Oure 3orefader hit con mysse3eme.
Þur3 drwry deth bo3 vch man dreue,
Er ouer þys dam hym Dry3tyn deme.''

Deme3 þou me', quod I, 'my swete,
To dol agayn, þenne I dowyne.
Now haf I fonte þat I forlete,
Schal I efte forgo hit er euer I fyne?
Why schal I hit boþe mysse and mete?
My precios perle dot3 me gret pyne.
What serue3 tresor, bot gare3 men grete
When he hit schal efte wyth tene3 tyne?
Now rech I neuer for to declyne,
Ne how fer of folde þat man me fleme.
When I am partle3 of perle myne,
Bot durande doel what may men deme?'





'Thow deme3 no3t bot doel-dystresse',
Þenne sayde þat wy3t. 'Why dot3 þou so
For dyne of doel of lure3 lesse
Ofte mony mon forgos þe mo.
Þe o3te better þyseluen blesse,
And loue ay God, in wele and wo,
For anger gayne3 þe not a cresse.
Who nede3 schal þole, be not so þro.
For þo3 þou daunce as any do,
Braundysch and bray þy braþe3 breme,
When þou no fyrre may, to ne fro,
Þou moste abyde þat he schal deme.

Deme Dry3tyn, euer hym adyte,
Of þe way a fote ne wyl he wryþe.
Þy mende3 mounte3 not a myte,
Þa3 þou for sor3e be neuer blyþe.
Stynt of þy strot and fyne to flyte,
And sech hys blyþe ful swefte and swyþe.
Þy prayer may hys pyté byte,
Þat mercy schal hyr crafte3 kyþe.
Hys comforte may þy langour lyþe
And þy lure3 of ly3tly fleme;
For, marre oþer madde, morne and myþe,
Al lys in hym to dy3t and deme.'

On Beauty Two

When I was in my twenties and thirties, the popular Bible studies for women were based on the characteristics of certain women in the Bible. Most of these were Protestant based. Such holy women as Ruth, Esther, Judith and others were highlighted with a particular virtue. I do not know if these are still floating around out there, and I have written my own thoughts on some women on this post, which you can find. I have emphasized Judith, Ruth and Deborah.

Of course, we have the most perfect woman of all as our model, Mary, Mother of God.

However, besides her great faith, hope and love, what virtues can we see in order to emulate her daily?

Let us look at a few. Mary's obedience is the hallmark of the Annunciation, as well as her meekness and trust in Providence. We do not see a panicking youth, but a calm and cooperating spirit open to God's Will.

We also see prudence, as Mary did not run out and tell people of her special position. A mark of a real saint is humility, another virtue.

The silent years of Christ in the home of Joseph and Mary remind us that Mary had to have and did, of course, all the virtues a woman needs in running a peaceful house. I like to think of Mary having the fullness of the Spirit and therefore the fullness of the virtues of temperance, justice, prudence and fortitude. We know in our own lives how much we, as women, need these virtues.

Remember, we are entering into perilous times, when the woman with virtue will be needed more than ever. A great trust in Providence will be a necessity.

Ask Mary for a removal of the blocks we put up in our lives through sin which stop the flow of the virtues given at baptism and the gifts of confirmation. Ask to become an interiorly beautiful woman.

It is our duty as women to learn humility and beg God for the full loosening of the virtues in our lives.

The times demand this.

On Beauty

When I was younger, I use to marvel at these handsome men who married less than pretty women. I would think in my adolescent brain, "What does he see in her?" Well, those men had more sense than those who chose for exterior beauty only. These handsome men saw the real beauty of these plain girls-their virtues. Two of my plain friends are extremely holy women.

Listening to Father Chad Ripperger on what type of woman makes a good wife, I was thrilled to hear him say that virtue is more important than beauty. He went so far to say that if a woman is ugly but virtuous, marry her.

This problem of not looking for the virtuous but for the outward beauty for men is that they buy the culture's obsession with beauty instead of virtue. The women of our culture are also obsessed with outward beauty.

As Catholics, we have models of virtuous women, which I shall write about in my next post.

Now, do we have to dress like the Amish? No, and we have had this conversation on this blog before. But, the problem is not merely modesty. The lack of formation from parents allow this preoccupation with outward looks instead of inward beauty. One can look at my series on virtues and formation for more on that subject.

One question has to be, how can we adjust our views either as parents or as women on developing inward beauty? What does it mean to be a virtuous woman?  Fr. Ripperger goes through the famous Biblical passage from Proverbs 31-10-31. This is a good meditation for both parents and daughters.

However, the real problem lies in the predominant faults of pride and vainglory. A parent can actually encourage faults rather than form the opposite virtues. This is a hard lesson for many moms to learn, but frequently they pass on their preoccupation with the latest cloths to their daughters. To be "in" becomes more important than being virtuous. Moms can encourage the predominant faults of pride and vainglory.

I am in complete agreement with Father Ripperger on this point. Single men, if you find a virtuous woman, marry her. Do not pass her up if she is not Miss America or poor. In fact, those plain women and poor women may have become virtuous because they were not raised to be princesses. They did not expect the handsome prince because they were and are humble.

As Father Ripperger states, if a man marries a virtuous woman, his life will be happy. If a man marries for beauty instead without virtue, he will be miserable.

To be continued....

Apply this to the Church

The cause which is blocking all progress today is the subtle scepticism which whispers in a million ears that things are not good enough to be worth improving. If the world is good we are revolutionaries, if the world is evil we must be conservatives. These essays, futile as they are considered as serious literature, are yet ethically sincere, since they seek to remind men that things must be loved first and improved afterwards. G. K. Chesterton "In Defence Of A New Edition" - Preface to the second edition (1902)