The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for April, 2009

A Strange Justification: “We’ve already pretty much destroyed downtown”

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 29, 2009

Oh, and this town
is my town–alright?

Love or hate it–it don’t matter
’cause I’m gonna stand and fight
This town–is my town
She’s got her ups and downs
But love or hate it–it don’t matter
’cause this is my town.

At a Tuesday evening Oneida common council meeting a local business owner told the council: Downtown is falling apart.  If everyone goes home there wont be a downtown.  Letting people work from home is not getting a business space donwtown rented.”  She was at the meeting to voice her concern over a re-zoning plan that would allow city residents to use their homes in residential areas as places of business.   The woman owns and works at a hair and beauty salon on Main Street.  In order to help cover the cost of running the building which houses her livelihood she rents out space to other hair stylist who cannot afford to open their own business’s downtown, and she is concerned that the proposed zoning changes will make it harder for her to rent those spaces.   Losing any of the five people who rent space from her will place her own business and her ability to maintain the building in jeopardy.  All of this seemed to be lost on one councilperson who said: We’ve already pretty much destroyed downtown.”

So I guess if the zoning changes become a reality we should consider it a coup de grace for for downtown; the illogical finish by the present city elders who have chosen to continue the decades old tradition of political mismanagement.

Oneida used to be a beautiful, thriving, pleasant place to live, with attractive buildings in late nineteenth and early twentieth century style, as this series of old photos I once posted helps to show.  Now, however, the entire north side has exactly three retailers; a convenience store, a drug store, and a dollar store, though there is also a fish shop and diner as well.  A number of the old (an often historic) buildings are now gone, having fallen victim to fires.  They’ve been replaced- not with new buildings-but with parking lots.  Almost all business is now located at the extreme end of the south side, near the city boundaries, and sometimes people find it necessary to travel 1 or 2 miles just to buy a lousy loaf of bread.  A fine lot of good those parking lots are going to be now.  They’ll become just another place for late night riff-raff to congregate, dump their garbage, and harass decent people who are unfortunate enough to have to brave walking through downtown at night for some reason.

It’s currently illeagal for kids to roller-blade and and skateboard on city streets and lands,  so I suppose one of the parking lots could be converted into a place for kids to do such things; but inasmuch as the city elders have been so proactive in destroying downtown, while at the same time giving the bum’s rush to those parents and kids who seek such a place, I’m not holding my breath.

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St Catherine of Siena

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 29, 2009

Today is the Memorial of St Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church.  She is best known for her spiritual classic DIALOGUE WITH GOD, an abridged version of  which I’ve uploaded to this post in the iPaper format (see below).  A full version can be found HERE.    Here is  a small snippet from that work via Argent By The Tiber:

My sweet Lord, look with mercy upon your people and especially upon the mystical body of your Church. Greater glory is given to your name for pardoning a multitude of your creatures than if I alone were pardoned for my great sins against your majesty. It would be no consolation for me to enjoy your life if your holy people stood in death. For I see that sin darkens the life of your bride the Church – my sin and the sins of others.

It is a special grace I ask for, this pardon for the creatures you have made in your image and likeness. When you created man, you were moved by love to make him in your own image. Surely only love could so dignify your creatures. But I know very well that man lost the dignity you gave him; he deserved to lose it, since he had committed sin.

Moved by love and wishing to reconcile the human race to yourself, you gave us your only-begotten Son. He became our mediator and our justice by taking on all our injustice and sin out of obedience to your will, eternal Father, just as you willed that he take on our human nature. What an immeasurably profound love! Your Son went down from the heights of his divinity to the depths of our humanity. Can anyone’s heart remain closed and hardened after this?

We image your divinity, but you image our humanity in that union of the two which you have worked in a man. You have veiled the Godhead in a cloud, in the clay of our humanity. Only your love could so dignify the flesh of Adam. And so by reason of this immeasurable love I beg, with all the strength of my soul, that you freely extend your mercy to all your lowly creatures.~St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogues 4, 13

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Why Study Philosophy?

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 28, 2009

We Should scarcely call anyone “educated” who had no knowledge whatsoever of history; we all recognize that a man should know something of the history of his own country, its political, social and economic development, its literary and artistic achievements-preferably indeed in the wider setting of European and, to a certain extent, even World history.  But if an educated and cultured Englishman may be expected to possess some knowledge of Alfred the Great and Elizabeth, of Cromwell and Marlborough and Nelson, of the Norman invasion, the Reformation, and the Industrial Revelution, it would seem equally clear that he should know something at least of Rgoer Bacon and Duns Scotus, of Rancis Bacon and of Hobbes, of Locke, Berkeley and Hume, of J.S. Mill and Herbert Spencer.  Moreover, if an educated man is expected to be not entirely ignorant of Greece and Rome, if he would be ashamed to have to confess that he nad never even heard of Sophocles or Virgil, and knew nothing of the origins of European Culture, he might equally be expected to know something of Plato and Aristotle, two of the greatest thinkers the world has ever known, two men who stand at the head of European Philosophy.  A cultured man will know a little concerning Dante and Shakespeare and Goethe, concerning St Francis of Assisi and Fra Angelico, concerning Fredrick the Great and Napolean I: Why should he not  be expected also to know something of St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas, Descarte and Spinoza, Kant and Hegel?  It would be absurd to insist that we inform ourselves concerning the great conquerors and destroyers, but remain ignorant of the great creators, those who have really contributed to our European culture.  But it is not only the great painters and sculptors who have left us an abiding legacy and treasure: it is also the great thinkers, men like Plato and Aristotle, St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas, who have enriched Europe and her culture.  It belongs, therefore, to a cultured education to know something at least of the course of European philosophy, for it is our thinkers, as well as our artists and generals, who have helped make our time, whether for good or ill. 

Now, no one would suppose that it is a waste of time to read the works of Shakespeare or contemplate the creations of Michelangelo, for they have intrinsic value in themselves which is not diminished by the number of years that have elapsed between their deaths and our own time.  Yet no more should it be considered a waste of time to study the thought of Plato or Aristotle or St Augustine, for their thought-creations abide as outstanding achievments of the human spirit.  Other artists have lived and painted since the time of Rubens, but that does not destroy the interest and beauty of his philosophy.Fredrick Copleston A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY, VOLUME 1:GREECE AND ROMEThis excerpt is given in accord with the Creative Common  Attribution/Non-Commerical Lisence.  See HERE for details.

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The Art Of Dying Well And Other Works On-Line

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 28, 2009

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A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 5

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 27, 2009


TITLE. English Version : To the chief Musician upon Nehiloth,
A Psalm of David. LXX. : To the end : for the heiress, a Psalm of
David. Vulgate : In finem, pro eA qusB hiereditatem consequitor
Psalm of David. Or, as modem critics: To the Supreme ; on the
wind instruments  a Psalm of David.


Thomas. That Christ is the inhabiter of Saints, the
hearer of the Church. The voice of the Church. Christ speaketh
to the Father concerning the Jews, and to the Church which hath
received the heritage of Paradise, not of the old Testament, as the
title of the Psalm proves.

Venerable. Bede. To the end : for her that obtaineth the inheritance.
That is for the Church, who, by the Resurrection of Christ, has
received the gift of spiritual good ; and who herself is sometimes
called the heritage of the Lord, since by His precious Blood she
hath been redeemed. Whence it is written in the 2nd Psalm:
Desire of Me, and I shall give thee the Gentiles for thine heritage.”
All this Psalm is spoken in the person of the Church. In
the first section she desireth that her prayer may be heard, and
showeth how heretics and schismatics are shat out firom the gifts of
the Lobd. In the second, she maketh request that, through the
understanding of HoW Scripture, she may be led in a right path to
that happy country, oom whence she knoweth that they who are
treacherous will be for ever shut out. In the last she setteth forth
the rewards of the blessed, that in one and the same discourse she
may convert the wicked by the prediction of their punishment, and
excite the good by the promise of their reward.

Syriac Psalter. a prayer of David in the person of the Church
when in the morning he went up to the temple of the Lobd.

Various Uses:

Gregorian. Monday: Lauds. [Feasts of Invention and Exaltation
of the Cross : IL Nocturn. Feasts of Crown of Thorns| and
of Nails and Spear : II. Nootum. Feasts of SS. Agnes and Aga-
tha : II. Noctum. Common of One Martyr : IL Noctum. Com-
mon of Confsssors : II. Noctum. Office of the Dead : Lauds.]

Monastic, Ferial; Monday: Lauds. [Common of One Martyr
and of Confessors : I. Noctum.]

Parisian. Wednesday: Lauds.

Lyons, Monday: Lauds.

Ambrosian, Monday of the First Week : Matins.

Quignon, Tuesday : Prime.

Eastern Church, Prime.


Gregorian, Ponder * my words, O Lord. Office for the Dead.
Make Thy way plain, * O Lord, my God, before Thy face. [Common
of One Martyr: Thou hast crowned him with the shield of
Thy eood will, O Lord. Common of Confessors : Let ail them that
put uieir trust in Thee, O Lobd, rejoice, for Thou hast blessed the
righteous, and crowned him with the shield of Thy good will.]

Parisian, All they that hope in Thee * shall eyer be giving of
thanks, and Thou shalt dwell in them.

Lyons. Consider * my crying, O Lobd.

Mozarabic, “Mj Toice shaJt Thou hear betimes, O Lobd. Early
in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.

1. Ponder my words, O Lord : consider my meditation.

Here we distinguish two kinds of prayer: words and
meditations. Words may refer both to that form of prayer
which our blessed Lord has left us, and to those prayers
which, by His teaching. His Church has provided for her
children. Meditations, to the thoughts and desires of our
heart, whether put into, or ascending without, words. We
call upon God to ponder the first, to weigh their full mean-
ing, oftentimes more than we are aware of, and to give us
according to that : to consider the second, bestowing on us
what He sees to be good among the things which we ask, and
regarding our meaning rather man our expressions.

2 O hearken thou unto the voice of my calling,
my king and my God : for unto thee will I make my

Note; there are three things which make prayer accept-
able to God ; faithfulness, humility, and assiduity; and we
have them all here. Faithfulness : My King, showing that
we are subjects to none other. Humility : I will look up.
Assiduity : Early in the morning. My King and my God.
By King, we understand the Son, by God, the Father.
AM the reason of this order of the words may be, that by
Jesus Christ we draw near to the Father, as He saith, ” No man
cometh unto the Father but by Me.”

[All Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are marked in the
opening of this Psalm, in the three titles, Lord, King, and
God,  but the verb is singular, denoting the indivisible Unity.]

3 My voice shalt thou hear betimes O Lord :
early in the morning will I direct my prayer unto
thee and will look up.

In the morning. This may be expounded in several
different ways, first, of diligence in seeking God, not only in the
morning, but early in ike morning. Again, of purity ; the
morning being the clearest and purest time of the day.
Again, the night may be taken of the darkness of original sin :
then the illumination of Baptism is signified by the morning.
And literally, David appointed the Levites to stand every
morning, to thank and praise the Lord (1 Chron 23:30). Look up, because
ooking down to the earth we can obtain no real help.

[Early in the morning, that is, as soon as Christ, Who is
the bright and morning Star, arises on my darkened heart, I
will begin to pray. Early in the Resurrection morning, which
has no night, I will stand by Thee (Vulg.) at Thy right hand,
and will behold (Vulg.) Thy righteous judgments. Early,
because Divine grace is like the manna, which had to be
gathered before the sun arose to melt it. Early in the morning
says Rabbi Rashi, because we are guilty sinners, and that
is the time of judgment and execution, according to that saying
of the Prophet (Jer 21:12), ” Execute judgment in the morning.”
Observe further, that the seven stages of true prayer are all
set before us in these verses, and in the seventh. First, right
intention. My voice shalt Thou hear: secondly, eagerness,
betimes; thirdly, constancy, Early in the morning will I
direct my prayer unto Thee
; fourthly, a pure conscience, and
will look up
. The three other stages are, — union with God, I
will come into Thy house
; confidence, in the multitude of Thy
; and reverence, I will worship. Look up, in this
life, for help, and yet more to ponder on the Divine mysteries
p, of the New Law. Look up, in the life to come, on the ineffable
glory and the Beatific Vision. Some Greek texts, and
. the Arabic version, read here, Thou shalt see me: and the
Syriac and Ethiopic are nearly the same, I shall appear
unto Thee
. It is David, observes a Saint, calling on God in
trouble, and saying. Thou hast seen me a shepherd. Thou wilt
see me a king, Thou hast seen me harping. Thou wilt see
me prophesying.]

4 For thou art the God that hast no pleasure in
wickedness : neither shall any evil dwell with thee

The God
, Not like the gods many and lords many of the
heathen, which were so often served by, and took pleasure in,
wickedness. He saith not, Come unto Thee, but dwell with Thee;
Thee; for it was in order that, being made clean, they might
dwell with Him for ever that the publicans and sinners came
into the presence of the Lord.

5 Such as be foolish shall not stand in thy sight :
for thou hatest all them that work vanity.

In this and the next verse are set forth three kinds of sinners
who are not to stand in the presence of God; the foolish,
that is, sinners in thought (for ” The fool hath said in his
. There is no God :”) them that work wickedness, that
is, sinners in deed : and them that speak leasing, that is, sinners
in words. Shall not stand in Thy sight. They shall
not in this world, even in His holy temple, because they will
not ; and they will not stand in His sight before His Judgment
seat, because they shall not. That work vanity. Not
that have worked it, or where could any hope to appear?

6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing : the
Lord will abhor both the blood-thirsty and deceitful

Will abhor. That is, though He now abhors them. He
will in the last day manifest His abhorrence by condemning
them to everlasting destruction. Note : the sins of the heart Ay.
are visited as if they were sins of action. Blood-thirsty, not
bloody : deceitful, not an open liar.

7 But as for me, I will come into thine house,
even upon the multitude of thy mercy : and in thy
fear will I worship toward thy holy temple

And yet, nevertheless, we who have so often and so grievously
offended both in thought, word, and deed, will come
into the House of God ; and can only do so upon the multitude
of His mercy
. Or if prevented from actually going
up thither, like Daniel, who when he made his prayer looked
towards Jerusalem, we will worship toward His holy temple.
Again, the words may be taken of that heavenly house into
which we one day hope to enter, and of the Lanb Who is
the Temple thereof.

[Into Thine house. As a stone let into the very substance
of the building, never more to go out, towards, not in. Thy
holy temple
, doing reverence to the human Body of Christ
Jesus, the true sanctuary of God, in which dwelt all His
fulness, the temple destroyed by the Jews, and raised up
again in three days.]

8 Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness,because
of mine enemies : make thy way plain before my

And because in attaining to this celestial dwelling, we
are surrounded by many enemies, we therefore call upon
God to lead us in His righteousness, even Christ Who is
the Way. Because of mine enemies. In a twofold sense;
that they may be preserved from hurting us, or that we may
be enabled to do them good. Before my face. That there
may be no turning back from it; no ”ye did run well.”
Or again, that the true Way, our blessed Lord, may be more
and more plainly manifested to us ; and that we may more
and more Trustfully look to Him.

[Make Thy way plain. There is an especial pathos in
selecting this verse as the Antiphon for that Office of the
Dead which takes its name Dirge from the Vulgate Dirge,
here found. It is the cry of the parting soul, about to be
its mvstic journey to another world, by a road beset with
ghostly enemies, and calling on God for help against them
and for light and guidance by the way.

Through death’s valley, dim and dark,
Jesus guide thee in the gloom,
Show thee where His footprints mark
Tracks of glory through the tomb.
Grant him, Lord, eternal rest,
With the spirits of the blest

It is Thy way before my face in the Hebrew and in the English
versions. The LXX. and Vulgate, and Ethiopic read
it conversely, my way before Thy face, God’s Way is before
our face when we are following Christ, Who is that Way ;
our way is before God’s Face, when, having gone in that
Way from strength to strength, we appear at the last unto
the God of gods m Sion.]

9 For there is no faithfulness in his mouth : their
inward parts are very wickedness

For there is no faithfulness. And therefore, since there
are so many that would lead us into error, we the more require
that God’s way may be made plain to us. In his mouth,
and “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth

10 Their throat is an open sepulchre : they flatter
with their tongue

An open sepulchre. Dangerous and noisome, and as silent
in the praises of God, as the tomb. The two clauses set
forth the open and secret endeavours of her enemies to destroy
or injure the Church, and they thus also doubly attacked
our Lord. Openly, as when they said, ‘*He hath a
devil;” as when ” they took up stones to stone Him ;” as
when they ” led Him to the brow of the hill.” Secretly, as
when tempting Him, they said, ‘We know that Thou art true ;
and as when Judas betrayed Him with a kiss.

[An open sepulchre. And so more dangerous even than
hypocrites, who are like sepulchres closed and whited out.
Open, because they are gaping to swallow up the
labors of others, as the grave gapes for bodies. Open, because
their soul is not only dead m sins, but emits its noisome
savour in evil words of heresy, which bring others down into
the same tomb of unrighteousness. They would do less harm
were they silent.]

11 Destroy thou them O God; let them perish
through their own imaginations : cast them out in
the multitude of their ungodliness; for they have
rebelled against thee

Let them perish. This is the first instance of that praying
for evil on others which has so much perplexed some with
the Psalms, and which, as clearly as anything else, shows
that they are to be taken in a sense above that of the letter. a
(This subject is referred to in the Third Dissertation.) But
if we always apply such expressions to our spiritual enemies,
the difficulty will disappear. Through their own imaginations.
Like Gehazi, who thought to obtain the gold, and was
visited with the leprosy, of Naaman.

[Destroy them. The LXX. and Vulgate read. Judge them:
modem critics, far better, Make them repent, let them
perish through their own imaginations
. The LXX. and Vulgate
are somewhat nearer to the Hebrew, reading, as they
do. Let them fall away from their thoughts, that is, let them
abandon, or be baffled in, their evil plans, or, let their own Q..
consciences accuse and condemn them. Cast them out. So
long as the sinner hides his guilt, he is within the grave. But
when the voice of the Lord calls on any Lazarus to come
forth, then, moving him to confession. He casts him out
of darkness mto light in this life, that he may not be cast out
of light into outer darkness in the world to come. Rebelled.
The LXX. and Vulgate read, embittered Thee, By their
own sin, making that Bread of Life which is sweet to the taste
of the righteous, a bitter poison to them.

Hio est panis, sumptuB digne,
A gehenn« servans igne,
Qui, si sumptus Bit indigne,
Mortem dat perpetuam.

12 And let all them that put their trust in thee
rejoice : they shall ever be giving of thanks because
thou defendest them ; they that love thy name shall
be joyful in thee

[Thou defendest them, LXX., Syriac, and Vulgate, Thou
shalt dwell in them
. The Ethiopic, yet better, Thou shalt
dwell over them
. As a shelteriiig tent, notes Cardinal Bellarmine,
but we may better take the Lord’s own simile, as a bird
gathering her young under her wings.]

18 For thou, Lord wilt give thy blessing unto
the righteous : and with thy favourable kindness wilt
thou defend him as with a shield

In these verses we have the help of God promised to His
Church. Where note three things. 1. It is eternal: they
shall EVER be giving Thee thanks
. 2. Divine : Thou defendest
. 3. Free: Thou wilt give Thy blessing, And what
then matters it who scorns or injures us? God be for
us, who can be against us? The Vulgate translation some-
what differs from ours. For Thou shalt give Thy blessings
to the righteous : O Lord, Thou hast crowned us as with
the shield cf Thy good-will
. ” In the life of this world,”
says S. Jerome, ” a shield is one thing, and a crown another :
God Himself is both Crown and Shield. As a shield. He
defends ; as a crown. He rewards.” Well, then, may the
Church pray in one of her sweetest hymns :

Septnun tu tuum inclytum
Tuo defende cljpeo.

[Wherefore :

Glory be to the Father, unto Whom is said, Ponder my
, O Lord ; glory be to the Son, unto Whom is said.
Consider my meditation ; Glory be to the Holy Ghost, unto
Whom is said, Hearken Thou unto the voice of my calling.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
world without end. Amen.]


O merciful God, Who understandest the groaning of the
contrite heart before it is expressed, make us, we pray Thee,
the Temple of the Paraclete, to the end that we may merit to
be crowned with the shield of celestial mercy.

Our King and our God, repel from our hearts the night of
error and ignorance, so that renewing us into a new man.
Thou mayest in the morning hear our voice. Grant that we
may very early by good works present ourselves to Thee,
ana vouchsafe that we may contemplate Thee in the Sacrament
of Thy Resurrection.

O God, Who hatest all that work iniquity, fiU us with the
strength of Thy love ; that they may at some time turn to
Thee and bitterly lament their sin, who now speak falsely against Thee.

O Lord, the expectation of our salvation, receive the
prayers of them that call upon Thee: Though that art the discoverer
of hidden things, give ear to the hidden dry of the
heart; that those things which we tremble to have committed
and blush to confess, Thou, are King, mayest forgive of Thy
clemency, and blot out of Thy goodness; so that our supplication
may arise to Thee in the morning, and the good
gifts of Thy mercy may descend on us right early.

O our King and God, lead us into Thy righteousness because
of our enemies, and direct my way in Thy sight, that
Thou mayest ever rejoice and dwell in us, who are crowned
with the shield of Thy goodwill.

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St Edmund Campion’s TEN REASONS (Reason #2 The Sense of Holy Writ)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 26, 2009

Another thing to incite me to the encounter, and to disparage in my eyes the poor forces of the enemy, is the habit of mind which they continually display in their exposition of the Scriptures, full of deceit, void of wisdom. As philosophers, you would seize these points at once. Therefore I have desired to have you for my audience. Suppose, for example, we ask our adversaries on what ground they have concocted that novel and sectarian opinion which banishes Christ from the Mystic Supper. If they name the Gospel, we meet them promptly. On our side are the words, “this is my body, this is my blood.”  This language seemed to Luther himself so forcible, that for all his strong desire to turn Zwinglian, thinking by that means to make it most awkward for the Pope, nevertheless he was caught and fast bound by this most open context, and gave in to it (Luther, epistol. ad Argent.), and confessed Christ truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament no less unwillingly than the demons of old, overcome by His miracles, cried aloud that He was Christ, the Son of God. Well then, the written text gives us the advantage: the dispute now turns on the sense of what is written. Let us examine this from the words in the context,  “my body which is given for you,” “my blood which hall be shed for many”. Still the explanation on Calvin’s side is most hard, on ours easy and quite plain.

What further? Compare the Scriptures, they say, one with another. By all means. The Gospels agree, Paul concurs. The words, the clauses, the whole sentence reverently repeat living bread, signal miracle, heavenly food, flesh, body, blood. There is nothing enigmatical, nothing befogged with a mist of words. Still our adversaries hold on and make no end of altercation. What are we to do? I presume, Antiquity should be heard; and what we, two parties suspect of one another, cannot settle, let it be settled by the decision of venerable ancient men of all past ages, as being nearer Christ and further removed from this contention. They cannot stand that, they protest that they are being betrayed, they appeal to the word of God pure and simple, they turn away from the comments of men. Treacherous and fatuous excuse. We urge the word of God, they darken the meaning of it. We appeal to the witness of the Saints as interpreters, they withstand them. In short their position is that there shall be no trial, unless you stand by the judgment of the accused party. And so they behave in every controversy which we start. On infused grace, on inherent justice, on the visible Church, on the necessity of Baptism, on Sacraments and Sacrifice, on the merits of the good, on hope and fear, on the difference of guilt in sins, on the authority of Peter, on the keys, on vows, on the evangelical counsels, on other such points, we Catholics have cited and discussed Scripture texts not a few, and of much weight, everywhere in books, in meetings, in churches, in the Divinity School: they have eluded them. We have brought to bear upon them the scholia of the ancients, Greek and Latin: they have refused them. What then is their refuge? Doctor Martin Luther, or else Philip (Melancthon), or anyhow Zwingle, or beyond doubt Calvin and Besa have faithfully laid down the facts. Can I suppose any of you to be so dull of sense as not to perceive this artifice when he is told of it? Wherefore I must confess how earnestly I long for the University Schools as a place where, with you looking on, I could call those carpet-knights out of their delicious retreats into the heat and dust of action, and break their power, not by any strength of my own,–for I am not comparable, not one per cent., with the rest of our people;–but by force of strong case and most certain truth.

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Sermon Notes and a Homily for the Third Sunday After Easter (Extraordinary Rite)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 25, 2009

Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Christ, Devotional Resources, Latin Mass Notes, Quotes, SERMONS, St Thomas Aquinas | Leave a Comment »

Aquinas’ Sermon Notes and a Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 25, 2009

This document contains the English text of the Epistle used in the Extraordinary Form of the Rite (the so-called Latin Mass). In addition it contains-also in English- St Thomas Aquinas’ sermon notes on that Epistle. Finally, I’ve included an old-time sermon from Bishop Bonomelli (1831-1914) who, in his day, was a famous preacher.

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The Homilies of St Thomas Aquinas

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 25, 2009

St Thomas Aquinas was by all accounts an outstanding preacher; not surprising since he belonged to the Order of Preachers (i.e., the Dominicans).  Thomistic Philosopher Ralph McInerny, in the foreward he wrote for the book ST THOMAS AQUINAS: THE THREE GREATEST PRAYERS, Commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Apostles Creed writes: “We are told by a contemporary Neopolitan (john Coppa) that ‘almost the whole population of Naples went to hear his sermons every day.’  And Willian of Tocco writes that ‘he was heard by the people with such revrence that it was as if his preaching came forth from God.'”   Sadly, Aquinasleft behind very few of his actual sermons, however, fortunately for us, he did leave behind about one hundred of his sermons notes.  In the near future I would like to begin posting a series of my own notes on those notes of his.  They were published in English in 1867 by their translator, John M. Ashley, B.C.L., who also wrote a preface to that translation; it is this that I reproduce here.

St Thomas Aquinas was by all accounts an outstanding preacher; not surprising since he belonged to the Order of Preachers (i.e., the Dominicans). Thomistic Philosopher Ralph McInerny, in the foreward he wrote for the book ST THOMAS AQUINAS: THE THREE GREATEST PRAYERS, Commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Apostles Creed writes: “We are told by a contemporary Neopolitan (john Coppa) that ‘almost the whole population of Naples went to hear his sermons every day.’ And Willian of Tocco writes that ‘he was heard by the people with such revrence that it was as if his preaching came forth from God.’” Sadly, Aquinasleft behind very few of his actual sermons, however, fortunately for us, he did leave behind about one hundred of his sermons notes. In the near future I would like to begin posting a series of my own notes on those notes of his. They were published in English in 1867 by their translator, John M. Ashley, B.C.L., who also wrote a preface to that translation; it is this that I reproduce here.

FOR the large circulation which has fallen to the lot of the several portions of these Homilies, now collected into one volume, for the favourable criticism accorded to them by the press, and for the number of private expressions of approval which the Editor has received from fellow Priests, he feels deeply grateful ; yet his gratitude is not so much on his own account, or on that of his little book, a^ that this portion, at least, of the writings of S. Thomas Aquinas is allowed to be capable of supplying one of the wants of the present day a really sound help to sermon- making. It is a most cheering and encouraging fact, that the men of the present day are willing in any degree to acknow- ledge, that they can learn something of value from the great Schoolman. Despite all the undeserved contempt and obloquy heaped upon the Schoolmen, both at the time of the so-called revival of letters and ever since ; despite the vast advances which have been made during the last half century in every department of theological learning and criticism ; and, lastly, despite the growth of that spirit of infi- delity, a combined product of the nominalism which accompanied the religious convulsions three hundred years ago, and of the Protestant dogma of right of private judgment the sermons of the “Angelical Doctor” are
being not only read, but preached, in substance, if not in form, in many churches, both at home and in the Colo- nies. The Translator’s work has been indeed a labour of love, sweetened by the thought and strengthened by the belief that this little book must contribute, in some small degree, to a revival amongst us of the Scholastic Theology. There are many reasons which render such a revival desirable, and at the present time especially so ; but there is one reason above all others which claims to be stated here. In so far as things divine have an intellectual basis, and can be shadowed forth by any operation of the mind, they must be represented to us by conceptions which far surpass any possible earthly manifestation of them. The ” hypos- tasis of things hoped for’ r can only spring from the abiding conviction, that we are now to rest upon certain ideas which hereafter shall be exchanged for their realities. Now, we can form but an idea of what the absolutely good, and true, and beautiful may be like; by-and-by we expect to see these ideas realized, in God, and in our glorified selves. Yet perfect goodness, and truthfulness, and beauty, and holiness are not mere ideas; they are realities, finding their true archetype in the mind and being of God realities of which, by our union with Him through our Blessed Lord, we may hope to be partakers. The teaching of the four great Schoolmen, of Abert the Great, as well as of the Seraphic, Angelical, and Subtle Doctors, was, in common with that of Plato and the New Testament, essentially and entirely realistic. However the Scotists differed from the Thomists on some questions of Theology, they were quite agreed upon this point. However Luther may have differed from Zwingle, and Zwingle from Calvin, in their “views” of
Sacramental grace, they were ” consented together ” in support of that nominalism which would reduce the deep mysteries of the Kingdom of Grace to mere names, and would limit our conceptions of them, and endeavours after them, to what it seems now possible to attain. It is not too much to say, that the Sadduceeism which is now sapping all the vitality of our faith and morals, is but the legitimate product of that nominalism which has lain at the root of all religious belief ever since the religious movement of the sixteenth century. Because the Scholastic Theology is realistic in its teaching, it is the only antidote which will be powerful enough to counteract the effects of that pernicious influence which the Teutonic Upas-tree has cast over so large a por- tion of Christendom. In these skeleton sermons, the realistic teaching is, with one single exception (Epiph. Horn. I., iii.), indirect, giving to them an anti-monastic tone and temper, at the same time not leading to the sacrifice of any portion of their practical bearing. Short and unpretending as they are, they admit of a threefold use. Firstly, they can be taken as profitable guides in directing private or devotional reading ; for they are full of vigorous and condensed thoughts they bring things new and old together in a striking relationship. We notice a few such thoughts. In the Advent Homilies (I.) the sevenfold benefit of our Blessed Lord’s second coming; and the moral aphorism, that “a man is in the judgment by thinking upon the judgment ;” that goodness has its precepts, counsels, and promises (Horn. IV.); the threefold cry of Christ (Horn. IX.) In the Lenten Homilies, the fast in Paradise, and our Lord’s fasting as joined with His Baptism (Horn. I.) ; the seven things that our Lord did upon the Mountain (Horn. VIII.) ; and the threefold nature of the Word of
God (Horn. X.) The Easter Homilies explain the three kinds of flowers in our Lord, and the three typical Maries (Horn. II.) ; what it is for a man to be at peace with him- self (Horn. V.) ; the three gifts of Christ His Body, His Blood, His Soul (Horn. VI.) ; three reasons why the Ador- able Son came forth from the Father (Horn. XIII.) In the Trinity Homilies, we read of the Heavenly Feast, its makers, ministers, and guests (Horn. IV.); how the Holy Angels stand before God in contemplation, love, and praise (Horn. VI.) ; why the Holy Angels desire the creature’s future glory (Horn. VII.) ; the seven loaves with which she feeds the faithful (Horn. XIV.) ; three witnesses against the sinner in the Judgment God, conscience, creation ; it is a momentary thing which delights, an eternal thing which crucifies (Horn. XX.) ; unity of the intellect, of the affec- tions, of the life (Horn. XXXIII.) ; the security, the pleasantness, and abundance of the City of God (Horn. XXXVII.); the translation of the Saints (Horn. XL VII.) Such as these are the lines of reflection which S. Thomas offers to the contemplation of the thoughtful and devout reader, ^presenting the subject in germ, leaving its develop- ment to the effort of individual minds. As neither moral nor spiritual truth affects any two persons in precisely the same way, such a method of presenting truth as this is, leaves for the initiated mind nothing to be desired; whilst the uninitiated soul would scarcely be capable of receiving the generalizations of S. Thomas in any form. * Secondly, these Homilies are valuable as giving the scholastic interpretation of many texts of Holy Scripture; valuable as shewing how the Schoolmen saw our Blessed Lord as shadowed forth in type and prophecy in God’s
servants of old. Amongst a vast number of explained texts, we select the following, as worthy of special notice : In the Advent Homilies, Joel iii. 18, a prophecy of the Incarnation (Horn. I.); Hos. xiii. 14, the spoliation of Hades ; Eph. i. 18, the reparation of Heaven ; Isa. Ixi. 1 fully commented on ; 2 Sam. xxii. 36 applied to our Blessed Lord (Horn. II.) ; Ps. cxlviii. 6, universal service of God by creation (Horn. ILL.) ; Ps. xxxix. 3, the fire that burned, that of contrition. In the Lenten Homilies, Heb. ix. 10, the ” reformation,” as of the Jew ; Prov. i. 8, the ” mother ” is Holy Church (Horn. I.) ; Rev. xvi. 13, the frogs are spirits of detraction (Horn. IV.) ; Job xvi. 22, the walk of death (Horn. V.) ; Ezek. xxviii. 16, interpreted of a devil (Horn. VI.) ; Ps. xxxi. 21, the “shining city” is the City of God; Isa. xxxi. 9, fire and furnace symbols of charity (Horn. VH.) ; S. John xiv. 30, our Blessed Lord walking dryshod over the sea of this world ; Exod. xxxv. 30 gives the twelve breads with which our Lord feeds the faithful (Horn. VIH.); Zech. ix. 11, the deliverance of the Saints from Hades (Horn. IX.) ; Job iv. 12, the mental word (Horn. X.) ; Coloss. i. 30, recruiting of the Heavenly Ones (Horn. XII.) In the Easter Homilies is noted Ex. xii. 21, Numb. ix. 3-5, Jos. v. 10, the three mystical Passovers (Horn. I.); Cant. ii. 12, flowers are the splendour of the Lord’s glorified Body ; S. Matt, xxviii. 2, the earthquake a leaping of the earth for joy (Horn. II.) ; Ezek. xxxvi. 25, clean water of Holy Baptism (Horn. III.) ; Jer. xi. 19, our Blessed Lord the Lamb brought to the slaughter (Horn. V.); Ezek. iv. 14, the Lord feeding His flock (Horn. VI.) ; Judges ii. 1 proves sadness of this present world ; Nah. i. 13 applied to eternal
happiness (Horn. VIII.) ; Lam. iii. 26, the elevation of the mind to God. The Trinity Homilies are very rich in deep and thoughtful readings of Holy Scripture. Isa. xxv. 5, the feast of the new Creation (Horn. IV.) ; Isa. vi. 5, seraphims of purifica- tion (Horn. VI.) ; Ps. cv. 6, the reparation of the Heavenly City (Horn. VII.) ; Isa. xxvi., the lost gift of glory (Horn. IX.); Isa. iii. 14 explains the “council” of S. Matt. v. 22 (Horn. XII.) ; Ps. cxxxii. 15, the Eternal Bread (Horn. XIV.); Job xx. 27 referred to final Judgment (Horn. XVIII.) ; Isa. xxx. 1-8, shews the nature of the trust of the wicked (Horn. XXIII.); S. Mark vii. 33, mystical fingers put into ears (Horn. XXIV.) ; Ps. Ivii. 3, healing power of Holy Baptism (Horn. XXVI.); Ps. Ixxvi. 2, Salem, the Tabernacle of Peace (Horn. XXVII.); Isa. xxxiii. 20, a description of the City of God (Horn. XXXVIII.) ; Isa. iii. 14, army of Saints final ministers of punishment (Horn. XL.); Prov. xviii. 4, “deep waters” represent the Old Testament, the “flowing brooks” the New Testament (Horn. L.) These Homilies are, to a limited extent, a commentary upon many difficult passages of the Inspired Canon. Thirdly, the great use of these Homilies is for sermon- making. They bring a text of Holy Scripture to bear upon each statement ; they adopt a natural division of the subject ; they take up minute details which signify much, but which at first sight seem to be wholly unworthy of notice; they con- trast in the strongest possible way nature with grace. These four statements can be proved with the utmost ease by a careful reading of only a few of the Homilies. There are two methods by which these outlines can be expanded into a sermon of the required length for the present
day : by enlarging upon the divisions of each and every head, lengthening the whole sermon equally. But by far the most telling result is obtained, in the majority of cases at least, by confining the expansion to only one head. Take, for example, Homily X., for Lent: “The Word of God and its Hearers.” Omitting the first head, the three ways in which the Saints are of God ; the third and fourth heads, the foolishness and misery of those who hear not ; we treat alone of the second head, the Threefold Word of God which the Saints hear. ” 1. Eternal: S. John i. 1, ‘In the beginning was the Word.’” This naturally leads to the mention of all the utterances of God the Son, whether as the Word creative or prophetical, before the Incarnation ; of what our Lord did in that infinite abyss of past time, in that eternal to-> day of God when the Son went out to create the worlds. The pre-Incarnate naturally links itself on to the Incarnate Word, to our Lord’s eternal words which He spake in time ; eternal in import, containing an eternal consequence either for life or for death. These eternal words He is speaking in His Body the Church now ; as He spake, so speaks the Church, proclaiming those words of truth and life, which became as wells of water in the souls of the faithful, springing up into everlasting life. So for ever to His Elect will the Saviour speak words of encouragement, and hope, and love ; at the end of all things of love only, when charity alone remains. The Eternal Word, “I am Alpha and Omega.” Abel heard His voice ; all the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Elder Church all the Saints, Virgins, Martyrs, Con- fessors of the New Covenant; the Voice of the Beloved, eternal as His own nature is, eternal in power and action upon ourselves. The Saints “hear by faith.” He it is Who
is speaking in His Holy Sacraments, by the mouths of His Priests. Meet it is that the Eternal High Priest should speak in the Eternal Mysteries of His Church and Kingdom. “We need faith in these Mysteries, in order that we may hear His ” Eternal Word.” 2. Mental: Job iv. 12, “A thing [word, Vulg.] was secretly brought to me.” Not that secret word which, as S. Gregory says, the heretics pretend to hear, who represent the Woman of Solomon saying (Prov. ix. 17; Vulg. 7), ” Stolen waters are sweeter, and bread eaten in secret is more pleasant.” Not that secret word which would lift some above others, and which can only be obtained by secret means, but that communication of inward inspiration when the secret word is delivered to the minds of the Elect, of whom S. John says (1 S. John ii. 27), “His anointing teacheth you all things.” This is that mental word which is received in the heart by the utterance of the Holy Ghost ; secret, to be felt, not expressed in the noise of speech ; it sounds secretly in the ear of the soul. Seek we to have our souls silent before God, freed from pleadings of all emotion, to catch the accents of the mental word. This mental word is the fruit of contemplation ; and, by the chinks of such con- templation, God speaks to us, not in voice, but through mind ; not fully developing Himself, yet revealing something of Himself to the mind of man. As we bore through the strata of earth to find that water which is silently circulating through its crust, so we, by contemplation, boring through the strata of the letter, find the ever-flowing grace which reveals itself as a mental word : the Saints hear this ” by inspiration (Ps. Ixxxv. 8), ‘ I will hear what God the Lord will speak ‘ ” (p. 18). 3. Vocal : S. Matt. iv. 4, ” Man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word that proceedeth,” &c. Vocal words: God’s commands, His promises, the dogmatic teaching of the Catholic faith this the Saints learn and hear ” by preaching (S. Luke viii. 8), ‘ He that hath ears to hear, let him hear’ ” (p. 19). Take heed how ye hear. Office of preaching in the Church. Duty of hearers and of preachers. Sum up these words : Incarnate Word, to be believed on ; Inspired Word, to be felt ; Preached Word, to be lived upon. After all, it must be left to the preacher’s own peculiar habit of thought to determine which of the heads shall be expanded ; and the manner in which this is to be done. The Homily upon which the attempt has been made is not as favourable as some others for the experiment; it seemed fairer to take a more unlikely one to illustrate in the process, as far as the translator had the power to do so. Almost a course of Sermons could be founded upon Homily XLV., for the Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity. In regard to the Author of these Homilies, he was born A.D. 1224, in the castle of Aquin, in the territory of Lahore, in Italy, being descended from the Kings of Sicily and Aragon. Educated firstly in the Monastery of Mount Cassino, afterwards at Naples. In 1244, studied at Cologne under Albertus Magnus. Doctor of Paris, 1255. Returned into Italy, 1263. Professor of Scholastic Theology at Naples. Died 1274, in the Monastery of Fossanova, near Terracina. An old distich prefixed to his portrait runs thus : Nobilibus Thomas generatus utroque parente Terrarum scriptis claret ubique suis. And he will shine as long as profound Scriptural
Theology shall continue to hold its own in the world. May this little book be but a first fruit of the revival amongst us of the study of the writings of S. Thomas Aquinas. S. Peter Mancroft, Norwich, Feast of S. Matthew, 1867.

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Pope Addresses Pontifical Biblical Commission

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 24, 2009

RORATE CÆLI: Pope addresses PBC on the Divine Inspiration and Truth of Scripture

Vatican Information Service has reported that Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday morning delivered an address to 30 members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission upon the completion of teir plenary assembly, which was dedicated to the theme of “Inspiration and Truth in the Bible.” 

The complete Italian-language text of the papal allocution may be read here. I do not yet have access to an English translation, so for now here is the summary of the Pope’s address as reported by VIS, with emphasis added:

Benedict XVI began by underlining the importance of the chosen theme, which “concerns not only believers, but the Church herself, because the Church’s life and mission necessarily rest upon the Word of God, which is the soul of theology and, at the same time, the inspiration of all of Christian life”. Moreover, “the interpretation of Sacred Scripture is of vital importance for Christian faith and for the life of the Church.”

“From a correct approach to the concept of divine inspiration and truth in Sacred Scripture derive certain norms that directly concern its interpretation”, said the Pope. “The Constitution ‘Dei Verbum’, having affirmed that God is the author of the Bible, reminds us that in Sacred Scripture God speaks to mankind in a human manner. For a correct interpretation of Scripture we must, then, carefully examine what the hagiographers really sought to say and what God was pleased to reveal with their words.”

The Pope then recalled how Vatican Council II had identified “three perennially-valid criteria for interpreting Sacred Scripture in accordance with the Spirit that inspired it. In the first place, great attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture. Indeed, however different the books it contains may be, Sacred Scripture is one by virtue of the unity of God’s plan, of which Jesus Christ is the centre and the heart.

“In the second place”, he added, “Scripture must be read in the context of the living Tradition of the entire Church. . . . In her Tradition the Church carries the living memory of the Word of God, and it is the Holy Spirit Who provides her with the interpretation thereof in accordance with its spiritual meaning. The third criterion concerns the need to pay attention to the analogy of the faith; that is, to the cohesion of the individual truths of faith, both with one another and with the overall plan of Revelation and the fullness of the divine economy enclosed in that plan.”

The task of scholars, the Holy Father went on, “is to contribute, following the above-mentioned principles, to a more profound interpretation and exposition of the meaning of Sacred Scripture. The academic study of the sacred texts is not by itself sufficient. In order to respect the coherence of the Church’s faith, Catholic exegetes must be careful to perceive the Word of God in these texts, within the faith of the Church.”

“The interpretation of Sacred Scriptures cannot be a merely an individual academic undertaking, but must always be compared with, inserted into, and authenticated by the living Tradition of the Church. This norm is essential in order to ensure a correct and reciprocal exchange between exegesis and Church Magisterium. Catholic exegetes do not nourish the individualistic illusion that biblical texts can be better understood outside the community of believers. The opposite is true, because these texts were not given to individual scholars ‘to satisfy their curiosity or to provide them with material for study and research’. The texts inspired by God were entrusted to the community of believers, to the Church of Christ, to nourish the faith and to guide the life of charity.”

“Sacred Scripture is the Word of God in that it is written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Tradition, on the other hand, integrally transmits the Word of God as entrusted by Christ the Lord and by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and their successors so that they, illuminated by the Spirit of truth, could faithfully conserve, explain and spread it through their preaching.”

“Only within the ecclesial context can Sacred Scripture be understood as the authentic Word of God which is guide, norm and rule for the life of the Church and the spiritual development of believers. This means rejecting all interpretations that are subjective or limited to mere analysis [and hence] incapable of accepting the global meaning which, over the course of the centuries, has guided the Tradition of the entire people of God.”

In truth, the VIS quotes from the Holy Father do not say anything that Benedict XVI has not said on this subject before. It is noteworthy that in portions of his allocution not quoted by VIS, he refers to Leo XIII’s Providentissimus Deus and Pius XII’s Divino afflante Spiritu, which, though they are neglected or ignored by modern Catholic exegetes (as the Pope seems to hint at), provide the key for a proper understanding of Dei Verbum 11. If an English translation of the complete address is obtained, this post will be updated.

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