To mark today’s Feast of the Presentation: Paweł Łukaszewski’s beautiful setting of Nunc dimittis.
Archive for the 'Church Calendar' Category
Merry Christmas to all!
Who is rising in the east
like the light of many suns?
Bridegroom coming to the feast:
eagerly his race he runs.
Splendor of the rising day,
reaching out from end to end,
all creation in his sway—
and he calls the sinner “friend.”
Camel through the needle’s eye,
for our sake becoming poor,
so the Lord of earth and sky
enters through a humble door:
enters through a Virgin womb,
rises from a borrowed grave.
So he wills to gently come.
Powerfully he comes to save.
He comes forth to be our food
reigning from the Father’s hand.
Eat and live: be filled with good.
Drink, and you will understand.
Every morning mercies new
on the altar, grace for grace,
fall like never-failing dew
till we see him face to face.
Let me alone; for my days are vanity.
What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him?
and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?
And that thou shouldest visit him every morning,
and try him every moment?
How long wilt thou not depart from me,
nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?
I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee,
O thou preserver of men?
why hast thou set me as a mark against thee,
so that I am a burden to myself?
And why dost thou not pardon my transgression,
and take away my iniquity?
for now shall I sleep in the dust;
and thou shalt seek me in the morning,
but I shall not be.
Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating the feast in honour of all the saints, in which solemnity the angels rejoice, while the Archangels praise the Son of God.
Ring out your joy to the lord, O you just;
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.
O how glorious is the kingdom
in which all the saints rejoice with Christ,
clad in robes of white
they follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
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)
A beautiful setting, by Healey Willan, of the first reading for today:
Proposed to his Adversaries for Disputation in the Name of the Faith and Presented to the Illustrious Members of our Universities
St Edmund Campion, S.J.
Campion’s Decem Rationes was written covertly and published illegally in 1581. Campion himself had become, by that time, a notorious (or celebrated, depending on one’s allegiances) figure. He was the most well-known of the Jesuit priests who had slipped into England, under threat of death, to minister to England’s beleaguered Catholic minority. He travelled quietly around the country, often under an assumed name and in disguise, and was something of a thorn in the side of the authorities.
Ten Reasons was given a memorable launch: copies were painstakingly printed and assembled using a mobile press, and, once ready, were taken to Oxford University and slipped into the seats of a hall in which an academic meeting was scheduled. When the attendees arrived and it was discovered, it caused a tremendous stir.
Campion’s purpose was to set forth arguments — ten of them, naturally — against Protestantism. Since his arrival in England some years before, he had been challenging the Anglican churchmen and academics to debate, but thus far none had accepted. The publication of Ten Reasons was his way of forcing the issue.
The ten reasons are gathered under headings: Holy Writ, the Sense of Holy Writ, the Nature of the Church, Councils, Church Fathers, the Grounds of Argument assumed by the Church Fathers, History, Paradoxes, Sophism, and, finally, All Manner of Witness. Because he wrote at a time when Protestantism was new, he had a particularly keen sense of how it was undoing the integrity of the faith, and several of his arguments are probing. His manner is, by turns, jocular, satirical, passionate, and exasperated; the book is a very entertaining read. He was writing to those whose declared intention was to capture and kill him, and he was not inclined to be docile.
I won’t rehearse the arguments themselves here; the book is brief enough that an interested reader could get through it without too much trouble. Basically they boil down to the claim that Protestantism, by rejecting some but not all of its Catholic inheritance, finds itself in a very confused state indeed.
One month after Ten Reasons was published, Campion was captured. He was held in the Tower of London for several months, tortured on the rack, and finally hanged, drawn, and quartered, alongside Fr. Ralph Sherwin and Fr. Alexander Briant, on 1 December 1581.