Bloody Pirates on the Bark of Peter

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I wrote about ninety percent of the following essay more than half a year ago and then left it unfinished for some reason, which I don’t remember.  I thought it worthwhile to finish and publish at this time.

The age of chivalry was characterized—at least according to its ideals—by courtesy in warfare, that is, by a standard of fair play. Prowess was not pure aggression, and courtesy was not mere manners. Both were informed by fidelity and honesty, that is, by religious faith, human justice and sincerity. That was the Christian ideal anyway, not always realized, but as an ideal it created positive peer pressure that served to both perfect the arts of the warrior and check his ferocity.

Anyone who has heard or read anything I have to say on chivalry knows I say this often. It is fundamental.

In the last decade or so there has been a very happy resurgence of interest in that character of the Church we call “militant.” However, the peculiar keynote of Christian militancy is not the violent death of our earthly enemy, but the violent death and resurrection of our King, which puts death itself to death, and conquers our real enemy, the Prince of this World. Thus, the methods of alinskian secularism or of jihadist religion cannot be our methods. To put it another way, the belligerence of the pirate cannot be reconciled with the chivalry of the knight. Continue reading

Mary Victrix, Our Fortress and Defense

A blessed Feast of Our Lady of Victory.

On the Solemnity of St. Francis the seminarians and I went to the prayer vigil of the Holy Father in preparation for the synod, which has now begun.  Afterward, we moved into the new building that the Holy Father has provided us.  I can walk to the Angelicum in a half hour.

Here are a couple of photos of our new surroundings.  More to come.  Click on photos for larger view.  There is a bit of distortion due to my use of the pan setting.

The gate you are looking at is Porta Tiburtina, after which our street is named, otherwise know as Porta San Lorenzo.  The gate was constructed to commemorate a Roman victory.  But our victory is found in the Gate of Heaven.

I post my yearly tribute to Mary Victrix:

I cast myself before Thee, Thy bondsman and fool;
Thy patronage is freedom, Thy slavery my school.
I offer Thee my sword hilt and wait for Thy command
To serve among Thy servants who pledge to take a stand.
That I might die in battle, a victim of Thy love:
My wish, my prayer, my promise, thus written in my blood.

I saw the bark of Peter ride dark into the sun,
But darker still the marking of crescent, hoard and gun.
Her sails lay flat and mellow, Her men had pledged their troth,
Left hand on beaded psalter, the right to keep their oath.
The haughty fiend had counted on fear to win the day,
But Thine own breath has countered to turn the wind their way.

My Queen, to Thee be honor and praise through all Thy knights
Who toiled and bled and parted Thy martyrs robed in white.
All courtesy and prowess, all strength and gentleness,
Thy heart a pyx of virtue, Thy face all loveliness.
Then at the hour of judgment my colors Thou may see,
Thy Son upon His white steed, Thou pray to come for me.

 

Homily for the Memorial of St. Pius X

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Pius X, one of the great popes of the 20th century. He was born in 1835, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, and he grew up in poverty. His father was the village postman and little Giuseppe walked six kilometers to school everyday. This poverty characterized his whole life, and it was not just a matter of physical poverty. St. Pius X was a man who was truly poor in spirit. Our Lord said: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Throughout his life as simple priest and Franciscan tertiary, then as bishop of Mantua, later as cardinal archbishop of Milan and finally as supreme pontiff of the universal Church, Giuseppe Sarto, remained a simple man and a lover of poverty. His last will and testament gives witness to this with the words: “I was born poor, I have lived in poverty, and I wish to die poor.”

Thus, this great man was single minded throughout his life and placed himself at the dispositions of Christ and His Church, without consideration for himself. This was his poverty in spirit. His whole life was to serve Christ and the Church.

Continue reading

Tolkien and Kevin O’brien on Chivalric Love

Read the whole thing. It is well worth it.

They speak of “shipwrecks” and “guiding stars.”  Men tend to look at women as guiding stars and women tend to think they can turn the men they love into knights in shining armor.  In reality, both men and women are “companions in shipwreck.”  Kevin points out that Tolkien’s view is both brutally realistic and at the same time wholly fair and charitable. Continue reading

Christ Our Passover Has Been Sacrificed

The following post is my homily from the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.  It will be the one post I put up during the Paschal Triduum.  It serves as a good introduction to the whole Triduum and in a way is a reflection on all three days.

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For I have given you an example that you also should do as I have done to you.

—Jn 13:15

These words of Our Lord at the Last Supper express the central truth of the sacred mysteries we celebrate during this holiest of times in the liturgical year. Our Lord gives us an example that we are to replicate in ourselves.

He gets down on His hands and knees and He does the dirty work of a slave by washing the feet of His disciples. He does this in the context of the first Mass in which He brings to fulfillment all that the Old Testament sacrifices represent, particularly the Passover sacrifice, which we hear about in the first reading. He is the Lamb that was slain. Yet He lives and He feeds us with His own flesh that death may have no more power over us.

Christ our Passover has been sacrificed (1 Cor. 5:7).   This is the Easter mystery, or the paschal mystery, meaning the Passover mystery. And it begins not on Easter Sunday, but today with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Continue reading

Good Night Sweet Gabe

It is with sadness, but confidence that I entrust here to the mercy of God the soul of Gabriel Altieri, a father figure, a spiritual son and a great friend.  After a long fight with cancer, Gabriel passed away in the Lord and the Immaculate yesterday around 2:00 PM. He was a long time friend of the community in Griswold, Connecticut and a faithful son of the Immaculate.  Please pray for the repose of his soul and the strength of his family and friends, especially his wife, Ruthy.

It might be a bit ironic to call such an old salt “sweet Gabe.”  He had a conversion late in life after many years of “being a hard man,” and he was just as uncompromising in virtue as he had been in the ways of the world.  But he was as easily brought to tears by compunction or devotion as he was to fierce zeal in the face of heresy and cowardice.

As a result of his rather colorful, Italianate pronouncements on everything from the beauty of our Lady, to the state of the nation, to food recipes (he was an excellent cook, and a great culinary teacher), as well as his escapades at the Father, Son Encampments (pictured above), we came to know him as “Sir Gabriel.”  We threatened many times to put him on camera and start up a channel on Youtube in order for him to deliver his daily address to the world on whatever topic was stuck in his craw.  But alas, this never came to pass.  We will all have to satisfy ourselves in the retelling of the many tales of “Sir Gabriel.” Continue reading

Did you know that . . .

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Did you know that the Jordan River Valley is actually the deepest valley on earth? In Christ’s Baptism, creation opens at her depths to receive her Creator; the heavenly Bridegroom “espouses” the earth to himself, filling (“impregnating”) her waters with the power to “bring forth sons to a new and immortal life.”

Christopher West pornifies the Baptism of Our Lord.

God help us.

From a Cor Thoughts email via The Cor Project.

The Crack of Doom

Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, voices, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets made ready to blow them.

—Rev 8:5

In medieval English churches a standard architectural/artistic element of the liturgical environment was the Doom painting in the tympanum of the western wall of the Church. This depiction of the Last Judgment was located above the doors of the Church, so that it could be seen by the people as the exited the building.  “Doom,” in this sense, is a synonym for Judgment Day.  Thus, the Crack of Doom, does not refer to some opening in the earth from which proceeds the apocalyptic judgment, but, the moment in time when the impending judgment is announced by the “crack” of thunder and trumpet blast. Continue reading

Son of God and Son of Mary

Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins

May there stand no darkness between you and the Christ Child on this Blessed Day.
The past is gone and the Daystar rises in the East!

The Light, the Light! The Morning Star, who is the Virgin in conceiving and birthing. The star in the heavens that leads the poor and lowly in mind and heart. The brightness of angels that chases away fear and loathing. And the Daystar from on High who is the fulfillment of all hope and all that we have never thought to imagine.  The light belongs to those who long for it and who embrace it in its fulness, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary.

May you and yours have a blessed and merry Christmas.

Pope Francis and Our Lady

Francis-Fidenzio

In the above photograph Fr. Fidenzio Volpi, Apostolic Commissioner of the Franciscans of the Immaculate greets the Holy Father at the latter’s arrival at St. Mary Major on December 8th.  The Friars of the Immaculate are the sacristans in the Basilica.

The narrative below is from John Allen Jr.:

Dec. 8 was the festival of the Immaculate Conception, known in Italy as the Immacolata, and Francis made the traditional outing to Rome’s Piazza di Spagna to venerate a column with a statue of Mary erected in 1857 to celebrate the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, proclaimed by Pope Pius IX three years earlier.

Francis composed a special prayer for the occasion, the heart of which was a plea that “the cry of the poor may never leave us indifferent, the suffering of the sick and of those in need may never find us distracted, the loneliness of the elderly and the fragility of children may always move us, [and] every human life may always be loved and venerated by all of us.”

It was a classic Francis outing. He showed up in a blue Ford Focus, not a Mercedes limo, not even riding in the back this time but sitting in the front chatting with his driver. He stopped briefly to greet shopkeepers, then decided to take an impromptu walk the rest of the way. He paused to greet locals and tourists, paying special attention to children and the sick. Some folks tossed the flowers they brought to honor Mary in the pope’s path, and he bent over to pick them up and carry them to the column.

Afterward, Francis crossed town to visit the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Rome’s premier Marian shrine, to pause a few moments before the famous icon of Mary as Salus Populi Romani, “Protector of the Roman People.” He didn’t give a speech, and there was no scrum of photographers and TV cameras because Francis wanted it to be an intimate act.

This was the sixth time Francis has stopped at St. Mary Major since becoming pope, with the first coming on March 14, less than 24 hours after his election. It’s easily his most visited location in Rome outside the Vatican, illustrating how important the basilica and its dedication to Mary is to Francis’ spirituality.

As Argentine journalist Elisabetta Piqué notes in her terrific recent biography of Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio made a point of visiting St. Mary Major every time church business forced him to travel to Rome. The only difference now, Piqué writes, is that he shows up in a white cassock rather than a simple priest’s outfit. (She might also have observed that he no longer takes the bus.)

In popular parlance, “the Vatican” is shorthand for the papacy. One could argue, however, that the real spiritual center of this pontificate lies across town in St. Mary Major.