Saturday, August 14, 2010

Knox - The Sanctus-Bell

I COULD TALK TO YOU for hours and hours about Church bells. Why are they christened, for example, like human beings? I don't mean they get the grace of faith, but there is a kind of christening ceremony, and they are given names. That's surely odd; nothing else in church gets a name given to it. You would think it very unusual if I started calling the alms-dish Percy. I suppose bells are so much mixed up with the important events of our lives; the wedding peals and the funeral chimes and so on, that the medieval people used to have a kind of friendly feeling for them; they were the public pets of the village. They were also supposed to drive the devil away, and I must say I know a lot of Church bells that would drive me away if I were the devil. But we really haven't time to talk about all that ...

It seems to me a very queer notion that at High Mass anyhow, when the priest has been singing his way so vigorously through the Preface, and the choir with great chords on the organ to get through the Sanctus, a tiny little bell in the sanctuary should have the effect of waking the faithful up. I should have thought that kind of faithful would have needed a siren. No, honestly, I think it's all part of this business about the holy Angels, and the priest having the feeling that he's just arrived at the door of Heaven and can look through the key-hole. Having arrived at the door, we ring the bell. And we don't do it to amuse ourselves; we do it to show the holy Angels that we are there. "Please say that Mary Jane has come to call" -- that is the point of the Sanctus-bell.

- Ronald Knox, The Mass in Slow Motion

The Bleak Shall Inherit the Earth?

I see that our commander-in-chief has personally endorsed the building a mosque at Ground Zero.

It just goes to show that anyone is capable of using logic to argue his way into an incredibly bad idea.

St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe

“Courage, my sons. Don’t you see that we are leaving on a mission? They pay our fare in the bargain. What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win as many souls as possible. Let us, then, tell the Blessed Virgin that we are content, and that she can do with us anything she wishes.”

- St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, when first arrested

Friday, August 13, 2010

Parable of the Day-Laborers

Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? -- Matthew 20,16

HERE ARE YOU WHO have been a daily communicant all these years, living in the fear of God, practising meditation; the whole of your past years seem a vista of first Fridays, and yet your prayers are so cold, so dull, so destitute of spiritual consolation! And there is So-and-so, yesterday's convert, with a past which charity forbids you to contemplate, overwhelmed with sweetness and tenderness and every sort of sensible devotion. Must not there be some flaw here in the divine economy? Well, you have your answer. Is it not lawful for God to do what he wills with his own? Must you frown because he smiles, criticize because he lavishes his rewards? His grace is free, else what would be your own's position? His grace is free; how then should your unworthiness limit it?

Hear, if you will, attentively, faithfully, fruitfully; hear, if you will, incredulously, scornfully, with hostility; but do not say that Christ our Lord left us with nothing but a string of moral maxims or a series of devotional considerations, do not pretend that no theology comes from Galilee: in secret he has said nothing. The claim he made for himself and for his Church was enough to make the Jews crucify him; we, too, if we will only listen, must either crucify or adore.

- Ronald Knox

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Knox - Making Heaven Populous

Note to readers: Ronald Arbuthnott Knox converted to the Catholic Church in 1918 after being ordained an Anglican priest in 1912. His father was also an Anglican priest, bishop of Manchester, lest anyone think this decision came easily, fighting a national church, family, and friends.

I admire greatly Monsignor Knox and hope that you will come to see that his thought is original, brilliant, and not given to well-worn troughs of repetition. He does not dodge or quibble with the Church's truth the way 'careful' commentators tend to do.

CATHOLICISM, THEY SAY, DRAINS the life-blood of a nation by its untimely insistence on the claims of the other world. And we have to answer again with a parable. We only know one thing for certain about this mysterious many-sided world on the shores of which we were cast upon at our birth, that God is our Father, that he has planted a vineyard, and told us to go and work in it. Yes, it looks ugly enough now, rows and rows of poles with strings running in between, but that was what he told us to do, and we suppose there must be something behind it all. We do believe that man cannot be called upon to undertake what grace cannot enable him to fulfil.

We do believe that external acts done for God's sake, even if in this world they are fruitless, will earn his commendation. We do believe that the first duty of Catholics is to make heaven populous. And the lip-service which merely applauds pious sentiments and likes a dash of religion about its newspaper articles, but does not alter the lives and the hearts of those who make their tribute of it, is, to us, a grudging and an unfilial apology for doing our Father's will.

- Ronald Knox

Take Your Tolkien

Have you read your Tolkien lately? Don't settle for watching Peter's Jackson's film version, extraordinary as it is for lending you images for your imagination. Rather, delve into the long conversations and deep, poignant thoughts, and mythopoeic narrative of a thorough-going Catholic thinker and writer, devoted to the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

Here is not "escapism" so-called. Here is sub-creation and magic that comes not from without relationship, but from within that which we call Providence.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Knox - Probation

(W)E ARE NOT TOLD of any specially grave sin that Dives committed; pride, hypocrisy, self-satisfaction, the leaven of the Pharisees, brought him to the pass we know of. His purple had blinded his eyes to his spiritual needs, while Lazarus' running sores were enough to keep him in mind of his spiritual infirmities. It is not enough simply to know, as a theological proposition, that we are on our probation here; we have to apply that knowledge and live in the light of it. There are so many other things to be done in the world, so many echoes that deafen us, that we are apt to forget the first principle of our probation, which is this: that the most important moment of our lives, the moment around which all the rest of our life ought to be grouped as its centre and its climax, is the moment when we leave it...

The real commercial equivalent of our life on earth is not so much pleasure, so much fame, so much love from those around us, so much attractiveness to our neighbours, but so much done for God. We are on our trial; there is a term to our effort, a limit to our opportunity. And the time is short and the end sudden. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when he comes, shall find watching.

- Ronald A. Knox