Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

What is this aurora before which the brightest constellations pale? Laurence, who has been shining in the August heavens as an incomparable star, is well near eclipsed and becomes but the humble satellite of the Queen of Saints whose triumph is preparing beyond the clouds. 
Mary stayed on Earth after her Son’s Ascension in order to give birth to His Church. But she could not remain forever in exile. Yet she was not to take her flight to Heaven until this new fruit of her maternity had acquired the growth and strength which it belongs to a mother to give. How sweet to the Church was this dependence! A privilege given to her members by our Lord in imitation of Himself. As we saw, at Christmas time, the God-Man carried first in the arms of His Mother, gathering His strength and nourishing His life at her virginal breast: so the mystical body of the Man-God, the holy Church, received, in its first years, the same care from Mary, as the divine Child our Emmanuel. 
As Joseph heretofore at Nazareth, Peter was now ruling the house of God, but our Lady was nonetheless to the assembly of the faithful the source of life in the spiritual order, as she had been to Jesus in His Humanity. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost and every one of His gifts rested first on her in all fullness. Every grace bestowed on the privileged dwellers in the cenacle was given more eminently and more abundantly to her. “The sobered stream of the river makes the city of God joyful, because first of all the Most High has sanctified His own tabernacle, made her the well of living waters, which run with a strong stream from Libanus.”  
Eternal Wisdom herself is compared in the Scripture to overflowing waters. To this day, the voice of her messengers traverses the world, magnificent, as the voice of the Lord over the great waters, as the thunder which reveals His power and majesty: like a new deluge overturning the ramparts of false science, levelling every height raised against God and fertilising the desert. O fountain of the gardens hiding yourself so calm and pure in Sion, the silence which keeps you from the knowledge of the profane, hides from their sullied eyes the source of your wavelets which carry salvation to the farthest limits of the Gentile world. To you, as to the Wisdom sprung from you, is applied the prophetic word: “I have poured out rivers” (Ecclesiasticus xxiv. 40). You give to drink to the new-born Church thirsting for the Word. You are, as the Holy Spirit said of Esther, your type: “The little fountain which grew into a river, and was turned into a light, and into the sun, and abounded into many waters” (Esther x. 6). The Apostles, inundated with divine science, recognised in you the richest source, which having once given to the world the Lord God, continued to be the channel of His grace and truth to them. 
As a mountain spreads out at its base in proportion to the greatness of its height, the incomparable dignity of Mary rested on her ever growing humility. Nevertheless we must not think that the Mother of the Church was to be nothing more than a silent winner of Heaven’s favours. The time had come for her to communicate to the friends of the Spouse the ineffable secrets known to her virginal soul alone, and as to the public facts of our Saviour’s history, what memory surer or more complete than hers, what deeper understanding of the mysteries of salvation, could furnish the Evangelists with the inspiration and the matter of their sublime narrations? How could the chiefs of the Christian people not consult in every undertaking the heavenly prudence of her whose judgement could never be obscured by the least error, any more than her soul could be tarnished by the least fault? Thus, although her gentle voice was never heard abroad, although she loved to put herself in the shade and take the last place in their assemblies, Mary was truly from that time forward, as the Doctors observe, the scourge of heresy, the mistress of the Apostles and their beloved inspirer. “If,” says Rupert, “the Holy Ghost instructed the Apostles, we must not therefore conclude that they had not recourse to the most sweet teaching of Mary. Yes, rather, her word was to them the word of the Spirit Himself. She completed and confirmed the inspirations received by each one from Him who divides as He wills.” And Saint Ambrose, the illustrious Bishop of Milan, speaking of the privilege of the beloved disciple at the Last Supper, does not hesitate to attribute the greater sublimity of his teachings to his longer and more intimate intercourse with our Lady: “This beloved of the Lord who, resting on His bosom, drank from the depths of Wisdom, I am not astonished that he has explained divine mysteries better than all the others, for the treasure of heavenly secrets hidden in Mary, was ever open to him.” 
Happy were the faithful of those days, permitted to contemplate the ark of the covenant in which, better than on tables of stone, dwelt the plenitude of the law of love! At her side the rod of the new Aaron, the sceptre of Simon Peter, kept its vigour and freshness, and under her shadow the true manna of Hheaven was accessible to the elect of this world’s desert. Denis of Athens, Hierotheus, both of whom we will soon see again beside this holy ark, and many others, came to the feet of Mary to rest on their journey, to strengthen their love, to consult the august propitiatory where the divinity had resided. From the lips of the Mother of God they gathered words sweeter than honey, calming their souls, ordering their life, filling their noble minds with the brightness of Heaven. To these privileged ones of the first age might be addressed those words of the Spouse, who in these years was completing His gathering from His chosen garden: “I have gathered my myrrh with my aromatical spices: I have eaten the honeycomb with my honey: I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends, and drink, and be inebriated, my dearly beloved” (Canticles v. 1). 
No wonder that in Jerusalem, favoured with so august a presence, the first group of faithful rose unanimously above the observance of the precepts to the perfection of the counsels. They persevered in prayer, praising God in gladness and simplicity of heart, having favour with all the people. And they were of one heart and one soul. This happy community could not but be an image of Heaven on Earth, since the Queen of Heaven was a member of it. The example of her life, her all-powerful intercession, her merits more vast than all the united treasures of all created sanctities, was Mary’s contribution to this blessed family where all things were common to all. From the hill of Sion, however, the Church had spread its branches over every mountain and every sea. The vineyard of the Pacific King was extended among all nations. It was time to let it out to the keepers appointed to guard it for the Spouse. It was a solemn moment. A new phase in the history of our salvation was about to begin: “You that dwells in the gardens, the friends hearken: make me hear your voice” (Canticles viii. 13). The Spouse, the Church on Earth, the Church in Heaven, all were waiting for her, who had tended the vine and strengthened its roots, to utter a word such as that which had heretofore brought down the Spouse to Earth. But today Heaven, not Earth, was to be the gainer. “Flee away, O my beloved” (Canticles viii. 14). It was the voice of Mary about to follow the fragrant footsteps of the Lord her Son, up to the eternal mountains where her own perfumes had preceded her.
 - From the commentary on the Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 14th) in The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger.


John Haggerty said...

Thank you for this work of meditation by Dom Gueranger (1805-1875) who was a near contemporary of one of my dearest saints, Jeanne Jugan (1792-1879).

I know of few Catholic blogs that would honour historical Catholicism with such profound writing.
In a time of spiritual drought the laity thirsts for real and living Catholicism as a deer thirsts for running streams, to quote the Psalmist.
'We are hard-wired for God' as Bishop Robert Barron says.

If the shallow priests and the weak hierarchy are not prepared to feed the sheep then the laity must go to the true shepherds.
Dom Gueranger was such a shepherd.
He had a care for souls, a staggering responsibility under God.

Prosper Gueranger's immense contribution to French Catholicism is again being recognised at a time when France, like much of Europe, is in apostasy.

Before the fire at Notre Dame, an American Catholic on the Internet said he had attended Mass there with fewer than 50 of the faithful, while countless thousands of tourists milled about on the streets outside.
Notre Dame was falling into ruin because successive French governments would not fund restoration!

In Poland the siren voices of secularism are on YouTube demanding that the Catholic Church stop baptising infants, ordain women to the priesthood, marry same-sex couples, and adopt a pro-choice stance on abortion.
This is the dystopia of 'diversity' with which the Christian foot soldier will have to do battle in the years ahead.

Dom Gueranger, like Jeanne Jugan, would have been shocked but not surprised at the widespread Satanic rebellion. They had seen the fall-out from the Enlightenment, which the Protestant Scottish minister Andrew Logan called 'a Darkening'.

Hilaire Belloc, who fought with the French artillery in the First World War, said: 'The faith is Europe, Europe is the faith'.

Just now I am reading a monumental book, 'General De Gaulle And The Idea of France' which made me reflect on the relationship between political power and faith.
De Gaulle seemed at times to be a very wordly Catholic.
Yet he never missed Mass, and I imagine he made a full and proper Confession of his sins.
And his friendship with the devout Catholic novelist Andre Mauriac was an important part of the General's spiritual life.

I am sure De Gaulle would be appalled by the moral ruin of France and the weak state of French Catholicism.
As would Dom Gueranger.

'The harvest is great and the labourers few.'

John Haggerty said...

Thank you for printing my lengthy comment.
May I make a correction?

I referred to Andrew Logan when I should have written Andrew Bonar (1810-1892) a minister in the Free Church of Scotland.

Bonar embarked on a mission to Palestine in 1839 with fellow minister Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843) who would die of typhus as a young man.

McCheyne's collected sermons are published under the title 'A Basketful of Blessings'.
In one sermon he said memorably that Jesus caused an uproar when He entered Jerusalem, and will cause an uproar when he enters a human heart.

'Andrew Bonar: Diary and Life' is published by the Banner of Truth.
He also published a biography of McCheyne, who once preached in the open air to many hundreds of people all over Scotland.

Bonar's church in Glasgow has been converted into apartments.
Many Protestant churches in Scotland are now warehouses, theatres, restaurants and licensed bars which open all day Sunday and play loud music.

Thousands come to Edinburgh during August and visit the Book Festival.
Richard Holloway, the former Episcopal archbishop who now calls himself an atheist, often speaks at the Book Festival to large audiences.
He wrote a book called 'Godless Morality' which sold well.

Never have I heard a committed Christian speak at the Book Festival.
They would never invite anyone from the Catholic Church or the Banner of Truth.

We are a sad and lost little country, awash on alcohol and drugs.
Everyone is into Diversity.

Our politicians and arts establishment figures can scarcely conceal their boredom and contempt for Catholicism or Evangelical Christianity.

More and more the Church of Scotland acts like a propaganda arm of the state, the Church of the Nice nobody listens to.

The pre-Reformation motto of my city (some say written by our patron, Saint Mungo) is:
Lord, let Glasgow flourish through the preaching of Thy Word and the praising of Thy Name.

The management team who run the city have cut this down to:
Let Glasgow flourish.

The obliteration of our Christian past is almost complete.

See: The Vortex - Sideline Catholics. YouTube.
Church Militant. 14 August 2019.

'Get off the sidelines and do combat, like you were baptised and confirmed for,' says Michael Voris.

John Haggerty said...

If you will indulge me further, Irenaeus.
Please watch YouTube:

Exclusive Interview: Fr. Eduard Perrone.
Church Militant. 15 August 2019.

Vort 2019 08 15 Vimeo.
Church Militant. 15 August 2019.

The case of Father Perrone, a traditionalist priest hated by the progressive hierarchy of the United States, may just be the tipping point in the laity's final rejection of moral and financial corruption as well as trashy Modernism.

Father Perrone has taken a polygraph test in the hope of clearing his name and proving his innocence.
The polygraph can be faked by professional liars and hardened sociopaths as any cop knows.
But for a priest who has dedicated his life to the Church, it is a brave step.

When lay Catholics withhold money from the collection plate at Mass, and when they stop giving their quarterly collection, then we will see real change.

We'll see the beginning of the fall of morally lax, 'boutique' Catholicism so beloved by the American hierarchy like Cupich and Dolan.
God speed the day these charlatans, and their underlings, are retired.

John Haggerty said...

The Vortex - The Day of Reckoning.

Church Militant. 16 August 2019. YouTube.

John Haggerty said...

Strongly recommended, Irenaeus.

'What would Abp. Lefebvre Say?'
What Catholics Believe. 9 August 2019. YouTube.

This is an interview with Fr. William Jenkins of the Society of Pius V.
He describes Catholic Modernism or Modernist Catholic as an oxymoron and goes on to say:

'It is a tragic error to try to appease Modernists. Especially when they are in power. It is a tragic error. It is impossible to appease Modernists. They will not be appeased because their ultimate objective is to substitute their Modernist error for the Catholic faith. That's their ultimate objective. And they never lose sight of it.'

Throughout the years I heard liberal priests say that Vatican II was not any kind of rupture with the pre-Conciliar church; it was about Newman's development of doctrine; it was about opening windows to let in fresh air; it was about being led by the Holy Spirit into an engagement with the wider world; it was about the pilgrim church instead of the fortress church; it was a closer walk with Christ.
I have a book that outlines all this. It is titled 'Lumen Gentium: A Council That Will Never End'.

Fr. Jenkins makes nonsense of all this, but as Michael Matt and Michael Voris would say, Fr. Jenkins is in schism.

Yet in Fr. Jenkins I recognise that holy, universal and apostolic Catholicism in which my father (1915-2000) was nurtured.

The true Mass, both the Ordinary Mass and the Tridentine Mass.
The Real Presence.
Following the Mass in the Missal.
Making a good Confession on Saturday before receiving the Eucharist on the tongue on Sunday.
Mass on Days of Obligation.
Fasting (from meat on Friday) and abstinence.
Mortification during Lent.
Exposition of the Host.
Novenas to Mary.
Reciting the Rosary both in the church and at home.
The wearing of the blessed scapular.
The blessing of holy medals.
The intercession of the Saints.
The blessing of the sick.
The Men's Sacred Heart to which my father belonged.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society to which my father also belonged.
The announcement of Papal encyclicals, and their availability.
The Catholic Truth Society.
The Catholic Book Club.
Catholic newspapers free of doctrinal error.
The Index of Forbidden Books.
The reading of The Lives of the Saints.
Belonging to a Catholic sodality.

All of the above belongs to another world.
It can only be found in rare churches or in the fiction of Evelyn Waugh and J.F. Powers.
I pray Pope Benedict will address this issue before he goes home to the Lord.

John Haggerty said...

'A Council That Will Never End - Lumen Gentium and the Church Today' by Paul Lakeland was published in 2013, the year in which I purchased my copy from St. Paul's Bookshop.

Mr. Lakeland is a professor of Catholic Studies and a former Jesuit, now married.
He believes the Catholic Church should be more open to sexual diversity and same sex relationships.

There are excellent online essays on J.F. Powers.

The Letters of JF Powers. The New Yorker by Adam Gopnik.
A Saint with a Bad Temper: JF Powers and Company. FX Feeney.
JF Powers, R.I.P. Jon Hassler. America Jesuit Review.
The Gospel According to JF Powers. John Rosengren. Portland Magazine.
The Priests of JF Powers. No Strings Attached. John Loranger.
His Bleak Materials. JF Powers At One Hundred. Jeffrey Meyers. Commonweal.

I reread 'Morte d'Urban' after many years (it was praised by Evelyn Waugh) and found it captivating.
I am now rereading 'Prince of Darkness and Other Stories' and hope to reread 'Wheat That Springeth Green' republished by the New York Times Books.

Muriel Spark and Mary Gordon have written about their Catholic experience in the guise of fiction as have Beryl Bainbridge and Alice Thomas Ellis, friends and fellow converts.

Evelyn Waugh thought that Graham Greene was mistaken in his understanding of Catholic theology. I agree with Waugh, though Greene's 'Father Quixote' is worth reading.
Greene had a sentimental attachment to Pope John XXIII as he had to the traitor Kim Philby.

Waugh felt some unease in writing fiction because it was a wordly and sensual pursuit.
His non-fiction books, two of which I recall, are rooted in his firm grasp of Catholic history.
Waugh felt betrayed by the new order of the Mass under Paul VI, and said that the Catholic Church to which he had converted had been largely dismantled.

J Haggerty said...

Positively my last comment on this post, Irenaeus.

Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) is more widely read than ever.

Her novel 'The Violent Bear It Away' has been reissued in paperback.
The same publishers have issued her collected spiritual writings, 'A Prayer Journal' edited by W.A. Sessions (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

The culture in which she grew up, in Savannah, Georgia, was Protestant fundamentalist, and her understanding of this religious culture was profound.
The title of the novel I mentioned above is taken from the Gospel of Matthew 11:12: 'From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.'

Bishop Robert Barron has several YouTube videos on Flannery.

Flannery O'Connor and the Eucharist.
Why Flannery O'Connor is a Pivotal Player.
At Flannery O'Connor's Childhood Home.
Flannery O'Connor the Storyteller.

This last, all too brief video, shows a photograph of Flannery in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, standing just behind Pope Pius XII, the Pontiff of my early childhood.

I worship with Protestants who have a close walk with the Lord, but everything they think they know about Catholicism is wrong.

I value Flannery O'Connor because she is a bridge between fundamentalism and the Church of Rome - Rome, which is 'both hated and loved' as Hilaire Belloc said.

In my youth I read a great deal of American literature.
Now I read Canadian poets and fiction writers.
I hope to make my first visit to Canada and Toronto next spring.

A Canadian friend who lived six years in Scotland, comes from Kingston, Ontaria; a beautiful town, judging from what I've seen on YouTube video tours.
Her town will be on my itinerary.
I will attend Mass there and pray for Canada.

John Haggerty said...


Firing Line with William F Buckley Jr: Skepticism and Disorder.
Guest, Fulton Sheen. Recorded 6 January 1970.

Archbishop Sheen speaks about the sins of a nation, and God's retribution.

Recorded nearly 50 years ago, it feels like a message of hope and instruction, from beyond the grave.