Archive for the 'Church Calendar' Category

Sing, but keep going

November 28, 2015

A favourite passage from today’s Office of Readings, which comes from a sermon of St. Augustine (and which I have posted before):

O the happiness of the heavenly alleluia, sung in security, in fear of no adversity! We shall have no enemies in heaven, we shall never lose a friend. God’s praises are sung both there and here, but here they are sung in anxiety, there in security; here they are sung by those destined to die, there, by those destined to live forever; here they are sung in hope, there, in hope’s fulfillment; here they are sung by wayfarers, there, by those living in their own country.

So, then, my brothers, let us sing now, not in order to enjoy a life of leisure, but in order to lighten our labors. You should sing as wayfarers do — sing, but continue your journey. Do not be lazy, but sing to make your journey more enjoyable. Sing, but keep going. What do I mean by keep going? Keep on making progress. This progress must be in virtue; for there are some, the Apostle warns, whose only progress is in vice. If you make progress, you will be continuing your journey, but be sure that your progress is in virtue, true faith, and right living. Sing then — but keep going.

Tomorrow marks the start of a new year. Sing, but keep going. I wish you a good Advent.

Easter Sunday, 2015

April 4, 2015

I got me flowers to straw thy way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

The Sunne arising in the East,
Though he give light, & th’ East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many sunnes to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we misse:
There is but one, and that one ever.

– George Herbert (1633)

Happy Easter to one and all!

Epiphany 2015

January 6, 2015


Epiphany, which closes out the twelve days of Christmas, is always a joyful feast but this year I have a particular, additional reason to rejoice, for today a friend has been received into the Church. Or, I should say, “today”, for these movable feasts can sometimes prove elusive quarry, and in fact he was received on Sunday. But no matter! Let’s celebrate today.

Since this friend is rather fond of music, I offer John Sheppard’s setting of Reges Tharsis, the Gradual from the Epiphany Mass.

Reges Tharsis et insulae munera offerent,
reges Arabum et Saba dona (Domino Deo) adducent.
Et adorabunt eum omnes reges terrae,
omnes gentes servient ei.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.

The kings of Tarshish and the islands will offer tribute,
the Kings of Arabia will bring gifts to the Lord God;
And all kings will adore him,
and all nations will serve Him.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

Why do I use my paper, ink, and pen?

December 1, 2014

Today is the feast of St. Edmund Campion, martyred at Tyburn on this day in 1581. A young man, Henry Walpole, was present at the execution and afterwards wrote a poem, “Why do I use my paper, inke, and penne?”, to commemorate the occasion. Walpole was inspired by Campion’s example to become a priest and, in time, a martyr as well.

Some years after Campion’s death, William Byrd set a few stanzas of Walpole’s poem to music. This was a rather bold move on his part; the only previous attempt to publish the poem had resulted in the torture and death of the publisher. But Byrd, because his talent had made him a favourite with the Queen, had more latitude, and made use of it.

Why do I use my paper, ink and pen?
And call my wits to counsel what to say?
Such memories were made for mortal men;
I speak of Saints whose names cannot decay.
An Angel’s trump were fitter for to sound
Their glorious death if such on earth were found.

That store of such were once on earth pursued,
The histories of ancient times record,
Whose constancy great tyrants’ rage subdued
Through patient death, professing Christ the Lord:
As his Apostles perfect witness bare,
With many more that blessed Martyrs were.

Whose patience rare and most courageous mind,
With fame renowned perpetual shall endure,
By whose examples we may rightly find,
Of holy life and death a pattern pure.
That we therefore their virtues may embrase
Pray we to Christ to guide us with his grace.


Byrd did not publish the more controversial stanzas, of which these are but a sampling:

My soveraigne Liege behold your subiects end,
your secret foes do misinforme your grace:
who in your cause their holy lives would spend
as traytors dye, a rare and monstrous case,
the bloudy wolfe, condemnes the harmles shepe
before the dog, y whiles the shepherds slepe.

England looke up, thy soyle is stained with blood,
thou hast made martirs many of thine owne,
if thou hast grace their deaths will do thee good,
the seede wil take which in such blood is sowne,
and Campions lerning fertile so before,
thus watered too, must nedes of force be more.

You thought perhaps when lerned Campion dyes,
his pen must cease, his sugred tong be still,
but you forgot how lowde his death it cryes,
how farre beyounde the sound of tongue and quil,
you did not know how rare and great a good
it was to write his precious giftes in blood.

But these stanzas could have been, and, with the right audience, perhaps were sung in performance.

You can read the whole poem here.

Toward appropriately festive feasting

July 31, 2014

I dare say I yield to no-one in the annoyance I feel when I look at cooking blogs: all those colourful utensils, long ingredient lists, and gently-lit photographs of unburnt confections are enough to drive me out of the kitchen entirely. But I do like the idea of feasting on feast days, and I can see the argument for celebrating those special days with something apropos (rather than, say, just eating a bag of beef jerky).

Which is why my usual annoyance is moderated when I look at a blog called Catholic Cuisine. The good folks who run it have all the usual photographs of little bowls and clean countertops that you’d expect, but they redeem themselves by coming up with some great feast-day-themed recipes.

For instance, today, for the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, they show us how to make Jésuites — little French pastries, it turns out. For tomorrow, which will be the feast of St. Peter in Chains, they are making a kind of pretzel chain.

A few weeks ago, for the feast of the Sacred Heart, they put together a really nice vegetable tray in the shape of the Sacred Heart. Blessed is he who has not seen and yet has believed — but in this case you really ought to see it anyway.

Easter Sunday, 2014

April 20, 2014

I got me flowers to straw thy way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

The Sunne arising in the East,
Though he give light, & th’ East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many sunnes to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we misse:
There is but one, and that one ever.

– George Herbert (1633)

Here is the joyful opening section of Bach’s Easter Oratorio. Happy Easter to one and all!

Holy Week with Fra Angelico

April 17, 2014

At her blog The Three Prayers, my friend Janet has been writing this Holy Week about Fra Angelico, and specifically about the panels he painted for the Armadio degli Argenti which depict many scenes from Holy Week. The pictures are wonderful, and Janet’s remarks on them are very much worth reading.

You can find posts on this topic here, here, here, here, and here, or you could just try the home page, since she may well write more posts between now and Easter.

Contrariwise, things will be quiet around here for a few more days. If it is not precipitant to do so, I wish everyone a very happy Easter.

Lenten reading: Traherne III

April 9, 2014

Wants are the bands and cements between God and us. Had we not wanted we could never have been obliged. Whereas now we are infinitely obliged, because we want infinitely. From Eternity it was requisite that we should want. We could never else have enjoyed anything: Our own wants are treasures. And if want be a treasure, sure everything is so.

— Thomas Traherne, Centuries, I.51.

Lenten reading: Traherne II

March 27, 2014

They in Heaven prize blessings when they have them. They in Earth when they have them prize them not. They in Hell prize them when they have them not.

— Thomas Traherne, Centuries I.46.

Lenten reading: Traherne I

March 20, 2014

Your enjoyment of the World is never right, till you so esteem it, that everything in it, is more your treasure than a Kings’ exchequer full of Gold and Silver. And that exchequer yours also in its place and service. Can you take too much joy in your Father’s works? He is Himself in everything. Some things are little on the outside, and rough and common, but I remember the time when the dust on the streets were as precious as Gold to my infant eyes, and now they are more precious to the eye of reason.

— Thomas Traherne, Centuries I.25.


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