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

Marian Mysticism

I return now to my series on “mysticism.” You can find the introduction here. I have said that, whether broadly, strictly or narrowly defined, any mysticism that deserves the name Catholic must be 1) Eucharistic, 2) Marian and 3) Ecclesial. In my last post I explained what Eucharistic mysticism is. In this one I will cover Marian mysticism.

Marian Analogy

In the last post I explained how the Eucharist in a particular way shows forth the power of God to transform the soul. What God does to the gifts on the altar by transforming them into the Body and Blood of Christ, he does in an analogous by our participation in the sacred mysteries, especially in the reception of Holy Communion. In a similar way, the Blessed Virgin is the icon of such a transformation.

A mere creature, She is wholly divinized by grace from the first moment of Her conception, so that when the angel Gabriel appears to Her at the Annunciation he calls Her Full of Grace. This means that She is the one who, already at that moment, possesses the plentitude of God’s supernatural gifts. As a mere creature, in Her Immaculate Conception, She already is the unique temple of a holiness beyond which one cannot even conceive. It is because Our Lady is full of grace that God chooses to take from Her substance the flesh of the Son of God, conceived by Her virginally through the power of the Holy Spirit. 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

Truth

This is an old post that I have revised for today’s feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

In 1940 during the Nazi occupation of Poland, St. Maximilian Kolbe was negotiating with the occupying commanders for permission to publish an edition of his magazine, The Knight of the Immaculate.  The Nazis had taken control of Niepokalanow, the City of the Immaculate, located outside of Warsaw, where St. Maximilian had one of the largest printing operations in the world.  The Nazis had sealed the printing presses with lead so that they could not be used.

They were well aware of the influence the saint had on the Polish populace and had endeavored to win him over to their cause.  The Nazis had even offered to register him as a Volksdeutsche, because of his German sounding surname, so eager were they to have him as a collaborator and propagandist.  St. Maximilian had boldly refused the offer, but kept on filling out applications for permission to publish his magazine, though in retaliation, the Nazis continued to reject them. Continue reading

Queen of the May

O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,
O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

Bring Flowers of the Rarest” is an extra-liturgical May crowning hymn that seems to be a rather sentimental nod to the ambiguity of modern May “devotion,” and perhaps (or perhaps not) an assault upon it.  It is a preconciliar hymn that I have often heard characterized as “schmaltzy” and inappropriate for the liturgy, though I have heard it many times used in traditional circles for Holy Mass.

What interests me here is its relation to the pagan or neopagan celebrations associated with May Day, the spring festival.  The “Queen of the May” or “May Queen” is a personification of Spring which is ritualized in May Day celebrations by the selection of a young girl dressed in white and crowned with flowers who leads the May Day parade. British folklore has it that of old the ritual ended with the blood sacrifice of the May Queen. Continue reading

The Holy Grail of Pope Francis: Our Lady of Lujan and Undoer of Knots

An Argentinian silversmith, Juan Carlos Pallarols, is handcrafting a simple silver chalice for Pope Francis, which will be embossed with two images of the Blessed Mother:  Our Lady of Lujan, an Argentinian image of the Immaculate Conception, associated with a 17th century miracle, and Our Lady Undoer of Knots, a German devotion which Cardinal Bergoglio brought to Argentina in the 1980’s and has since promoted there.  The same silversmith collaborated with Cardinal Bergoglio in designing another chalice, embossed with the image of Our Lady Undoer of Knots, which the Cardinal presented to Pope Benedict shortly after he ascended to the Chair of St. Peter.

It is quite interesting that that this Argentinian pope should have a personal attraction to the German devotion.  It provides a kind of link between the two successors of St. Peter, of which there are others. Continue reading

The Marian Chivalry of St. Joseph

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation! . . . .

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!

Pope Francis, March 19, 2013

Catholic Encampment 2011

This year’s Catholic Encampment for fathers and sons will be conducted at Camp Canonicus, Exeter, Rhode Island, not far from the Griswold friary:

Friday, September 9 – Sunday, September 11

Click image to link to Encampment Page that includes the encamplment flyer, registration information and the registration and release form.

The image in the side bar has the link also and will remain there for the duration.

Templar Tragedy

Considering the fact that I have blogged quite a bit on the Templars in the past, I thought I might be obliged to take time out from my book to write something about the reptile, Anders Behring Breivik, who claims some kind of affiliation with the Templars.  That turns out to be more Templar baloney.

I am not going to waste much time on this, as his manifesto is revealed to be what one would expect, mostly a cut and paste of any kind of conservatism he could find to justify his racism and his plans for violent revolution.  Not that conservative thought leads to the recent events in Norway any more than liberal thought necessarily leads to the dirty deeds of Bill Ayers.

When I first read that Brievik was supposedly a “Christian Fundamentalist,” I thought to myself that he is more than likely some kind of esoteric “Christian.”  In fact, he is a Freemason, but that does not explain things either, because Norwegian Freemasonry is a “rectified rite” that has jettisoned the myth about the Templar origins of the Masons.

Brievik has founded his own “church.”   It is of a cut and paste construction, just like his manifesto: part Christian, part neopagan Odinist, part Freemason and whatever.  I would also add that his church is Nazi as well, but he says that Nazism has been so demonized that  “it is pointless to try to resurrect it in any way or form.”  His interest in Christianity is about cultural unity for Europe through the common patrimony that Christianity offers.  He says he is not interested in a relationship with Jesus.  He is interested in his Norse and European cultural and racial heritage.  And kill anyone who gets in the way.

In spite of his claim that he is a member of a larger cell, I will be surprised if that turns out to be true.  I think he is a lone nutbag, at least in terms of his terrorist agenda.

I once speculated that Europe’s choice to ignore its Christian patrimony in the formation of the European Union would result in the rise of nationalist fascism with a pseudo-Christian face.  There you have it.  Brievik has probably done what others have thought about doing but who were not crazy enough to actually do.  Europe has abandoned Christianity and that is a huge void to fill—rather it is a void that cannot be filled.  So Europe swirls with the liberal culture of death, Islamism and fascism.  Did I mention neopaganism?

The spirit of Benedict, Patron of Europe, resides in the heart of our Holy Father who, commenting on this tragedy said:

I want to again repeat my grief-stricken appeal to all to abandon forever the way of hatred and to run away from the logic of evil.

Shortly after his election to the pontificate the Holy Father explained the importance of the Patron of Europe and his relation to the name of the new pope:

he  constitutes a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a powerful call to the irrefutable Christian roots of European culture and civilization.”

His point was for the people of Europe “to hold firm Christ’s central position” in their lives.

Brievik mentions among other things the Battle of Vienna and the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary.  Unfortunately, he entirely misses the point.  Whose side is Our Lady on?   And a better question would be:  Who is on Her side?  This battle is not of flesh and blood but of principalities and powers.  Catholics need their fortitude back, but we can do without the romantic pieties of externalist chivalry.

Brievik is a chivalric fool, spouting crusading platitudes and quoting St. Bernard’s In Praise of the  New Knighthood, and then writing the following.

While being chivalrous is a good thing in ordinary day-to-day life, it will undoubtfully be fatal in any armed confrontation.

This Templar is a pure romantic.  What does he think chivalry was for, if not armed confrontation?  What he means by explaining away the purpose of chivalry is that one should not lack the pragmatism and cynicism to kill women.  Apparently, he forgot to mention the necessity of killing children in that section.  He gets all dressed up in his Templar tux:  a knight in shining armor, phonier than Lancelot.

Brievik is a self-proclaimed pragmatist, and a conspiracy nut, who in one breath ridicules conspiracy theory and then posits his own without blinking.

Brievik’s case is an example of conservative cultural engineering in the hands of a madman.  We have seen it before.  What Brievik has lacked is a charismatic personality.  He seems to have been pretty much a reclusive pseudo-intellectual who could not invest his time and energy in anything so philistine as deep personal relationships.  I guess it is easier to kill that way.

I think cultural engineering is a bad idea in anyone’s hands.  The long and the short of it is that culture is the result of organic change that takes place with the transformation of hearts and minds, usually over a long period of time with the cost of the blood, sweat and tears of a people’s ancestors.  Someone has to be willing to build a cathedral knowing that he will never see it finished.

What we need is Our Lady of Victory.  We had better be careful about what crusades we call and the drums we beat and the pseudo-elites we try to create.  Marian chivalry is a thing altogether different.

May God have mercy on the souls of Brievik’s victims and may God bring consolation to those who this killer has left bereaved.  And May God have mercy on his soul, as hard as that is to pray for.

May God have mercy on us all.