Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sing Black, Live Red

Today this year collide Ash Wednesday and the Feast of Valentine, Priest and Martyr.

It would not seem unreasonable to lament that the romantic colour of the date, in modern secular sentiment, obscures the ... er... solemnity... I suppose... of martyrdom; but, you know, I'm not so sure, should we be so hasty? The secular emblem of the day is the Heart, construed as the seat of love — and every martyrdom is an echo of the Feast of the Sacred Heart, wounded for Love of Us; the secular colour of the day is Red, as is the Liturgical Colour — and even as for Love of Wife or Child, so too for Love of God, the Lover is called to be ready that his blood be shed. Valentine himself could not have accepted martyrdom but from love for God and sustained by God's love.

But more often (the opposite could not last long!) for Love we take on duller sufferings, and make of our selves little Cinderelli. Today, as Ash Wednesday, it is traditional to do so more theatrically; again, let it be for Love. Or why should we do penance, indeed how could we, except from knowing that we had once fled Love, and now would find Him again?

Happy Valentines Day,
and a Holy Ash Wednesday,
and a Blessed Lent to you all.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

consummatum erit?

_______, Mathematician, lay man baptized and confirmed in the Diocese of _______
In friendly and supportive response to Dr. Peters,

I am not a lawyer of any sort; but I can read books and apply argument.

On sacramentality; The strangeness of the very simple composition of valid marriage of Christians into a Sacrament has nothing peculiar to marriage in it. The necessary condition for sacramental baptism is the imposition of clean water with the proper invocation of the Trinity; no particular consent in the baptizand is required for the sacrament in that moment beyond that he not resist, which is the ancient explanation of why it makes sense to baptize infants; nor need the person handling the water and invoking the Trinity actually believe what he is doing either — which was the admonition Athanasius received when he were a boy. The necessary condition for the confection of the Eucharist is that a Priest, with one of the right matters (wheat bread or live grape wine) speak the relevant famous Words; that this Priest, whatever his subjective beliefs or feelings in that moment, intend to do "as the Church does" in signs at least; one can go through the list, but the general principle is that the Sacrament is effected by making the sign that signifies it upon the matter that constitutes it. And in many cases, the wrong circumstance can make the valid sacrament nonetheless illicit, or a sacrilege.

The developed formula summarizing the preceding principle — that the sacrament is made by making the sign — is the Latin phrase "ex opere operato".

So, "how" is this-or-that a Sacrament? Why, the right form being worked upon the right matter. Peters has recently had occasion to emphasize that form, in the case of the sacrament of Marriage is the exchange of consent in clear sign, between the free and baptized man and woman. My point is that all sacraments are that simple. How Peters' other frequent concern, "Canonical Form", impinges on validity is, actually, the much-trickier issue to sort out theologically. It may have something to do with: the Church was always at work in every marriage, pre- or post- codified-Form, but is free to say She will not act henceforth in absence of a Minster-Designate. Something similar is at work in the necessity of Jurisdiction for Confession. (Why She may be unfree or unwilling to similarly prevent sacrilegious confection of the Eucharist, or rogue Orders, I do not know... ) Or it may be that, Canonical Form being codified, complete and free consent itself is absent in the absence of Canonical Form. I do not know. To my recollection, the Council that first imposed Canonical Form did not explain the operation of the impediment.

And that is all I have to say about Sacramentality.

Now, about solubility. Our modern ears suffer a little (English ears, anyways) in that the lovely word "consummation" has, through its recent relative rarity, fallen to the status of Euphemism for the incarnated union of man and woman. But this is a complete inversion of the proper sense of things: "Consummation", fulfilment, isn't something a man and woman can do before they are married, because absent marriage there is no marriage to fulfil.² Peters quotes an expression, “exchange of rights to the body” as from 1917 CIC; but strictly speaking, that exchange of rights has already been given, specifically in the marriage ceremony because that's a great part of what is consented. Rather, the incarnated union of husband and wife is the realization, the enactment of the consent already exchanged. (Enactment both as something done and something real and present). The incarnated union of husband and wife becomes the consummation of marriage in this sense: the Consent Spoken is then Lived.

So consider by way of analogy that other physical Sacrament, the Eucharist, again: the Sacrament is present, Our Living Lord corporeally present, from the time of consecration; but the purpose, the fulfilment of the sacrament has not occurred before one receives Him in Communion — though, Importantly, not all who witness the consecration need then receive Him — but, if one does, what then? Would any change their mind and spit Him out again? Could that ever be good? Heavens forefend!

the undersigned, who admittedly am also single and know anything only from reading and observation

1) write to qnoodles at gmail for details.

2) I do not suggest that Peters suffers such a confusion; merely that he does use the "c" word, that confusion is possible, and would be particularly unfortunate in the present discussion.

Monday, January 29, 2018

ill-constituted ponderings

I read somewhere recently1 (smarter suppliants of the Spiders maybe will be able to find it quickly?) a historian contending that the Mediaeval and similar documents (primarily Magna Carta) such as we would now call constitutions were attempts to codify what "everyone" "here" was already doing; that "Bad" King John had been checked by his barons and given this constitution because he had tried to change the rules. Or some such thing. (The original Carta was promptly invalidated by John deftly submitting his Kingdom as a Direct Subject of the Pope... which gave the Pope ideas... which may, I am fuzzy on tracing the threads through the centuries, have had some bearing on the unfolding of Avignon/Urban/"Consiliarism"... which left Europe ripe with ferment for Luther to sour... oh, that Bad King John...). But a Funny Thing Happened in 1775 in the British Colonies.

The colonists, you see, had got tired of how Westminster wouldn't give them seats (never mind Two Figs that it would take a week to get there, and a week to argue things over, and a week to get back, every time... in Good Weather... once the Colonies had Heard What Was Up in the First Place)... despite Westminster taking as much money as they could manage. You know, the King's business. Anyways, the upshot was that the colonists decided to chuck King George and Westminster, and ... all that. But knowing they didn't want anarchy (most of them) they decided to set down what The Rules ought to have been all along. Which was, mostly, the same as they always had been, but with some pointed Differences, mostly to make the Revolution consistent with the new Constitution (it couldn't be consistent with the Old). This was, I believe, the first instance of a Constitution being an instrument of revolution.

Not long before, the implicit constitutions (which Written constitutions were trying to approximate) had been invented or discovered by Rousseau and given the name "Social Contract". And that's the trouble with giving something a name... the name itself quickly gains a weird life of its own, becomes separated from what it was supposed to be and before you know it, people are putting them on pictures of cats and calling that the "meme".2

In other words, by discovering Social Contract, Rousseau made it possible for Constitutions to exist appart from any natural Social Contract, and in particular to become instruments of Revolution, which is exactly what they did. Nowadays it is still more common for Constitutions to become the excuse for whatever revolution — the Soviet Union, e.g., had a beautiful liberal bill of rights in its constitution, singing poetically the dignity of man and his natural democratic freedom... The trouble was: no-one in Russia had ever lived in a democracy, they had no idea how to maintain one whether as its subjects or its enforcers, and the people who had engineered and operated the whole thing had no intention of actually running the country that way.

Constitutions are only as good as the Tradition they draw on. More: Constitutions are only as good as the Tradition that survives them.

There's another Tradition, related to constitutional disobedience, called in the British nomenclature "muddling through". The Constitutionalist implementation of Muddling is mostly accomplished by Ammendment, though Executive Directive also has its place... A cynical interpretation of Muddling would hold that what we actually do has nothing to do with our written laws at all, but we'll update the old ones now and again to make it look alright. A more moderate interpretation would point out that Circumstances Will Arise which the old written formulas simply have not foreseen and won't work for. A good Catholic will point out that Murder is still, and always, wrong. Anyways, back in Europe, treaties were the reigning instrument of what today we'd call International Law, and all the princes who signed them were entirely used to them being broken and ignored left right and centre. (And then there was that one time, Princedom having become so very tired, when scrupulous obedience to Treaty turned into World War I).

Written Treaty was exported, during the colonial period, to North America, and ... you know what, I wasn't there, neither were you nor your grandfather, it was long long before that. I don't know what either side was really expecting, but I'm quite sure that Strict Observance of Treaty was not in the European mind; I'm pretty sure that Elision of Treaty, or its closest analogue, was also a perfectly ordinary thing among the locals — that I've heard stories of this tribe cheating that other, and burying hatchets, and then fighting again...; and all of whom, by the way, were nomadic, even the farmers. How you understand a teritorial treaty with people who just don't stay put I don't... but anyways. The only novelty to them, I believe, was that the European Treaties were written documents and (in some cases) can still be examined in person.

The European of the time probably thought of the Treaty (I guess), in the old Mediaeval way, as recognizing a pre-existing thing. And because of this, ignoring the same treaty you had written would be not quite a dishonest move: just because a thing existed before didn't mean you agreed it would always be a good idea. Having it written out did mean you could tell when you had to talk things over, again, and that can be a good thing for everyone involved. On the other hand, treaty disobedience could certainly be handled in a bad way, too, and certainly Princes have done wicked things, for their worldly enrichment.

I get the impression that there is, in some among today's younger generations, an idea that those same antique treaties have, unammended, moral binding force on today's living neighbours of the people who have held on to the relevant actual written paper. Never mind that one of the Crowns signing those treaties doesn't exist anymore, and the other has suffered heavy changes to its own "Treaty" with Westminster (or the succeeding local Capital). And it's not that I think what's in them might be wrong or such; it's that I think this is a use that neither signatory of those treaties ever intended them to bear. It's either dishonest or a fundmantal misunderstanding. It's not clear to me that Strict Observance of these particular treaties is any good for either side.

Why not let's sit down and write some new ones? But, do you know? ... I don't much trust the heirs of Westminster, today, either.

1) My memory works in weird ways; and this may be a difficulty that limits my effectiveness as a Scholar... "recently" can mean any time since the last Upheaval in my life, and I just can't pin down when this particular reading happened...

2) We live in a strange world in which the same people of a certain kind simultaneously believes that Incorporeal Creatures by the name of Angels are mythical, or at best nonsense, but simultaneously believe that Elemental Communicable Ideas do have a life of their own, and that people can become "addicted" to them. If that's not some kind of Demonic Obsession, I don't know...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

False Friends

in this instance, potential Anglo-Polish bemusements.

In Polish, sok is for drinking, skarpety for wearing, and a dywan for walking on; while in English, if you tried to drink your socks or wear a carpet or stand or walk on a divan, ... people would look at you funny.

Monday, December 4, 2017

"... I do not think it means... what you think it means... "

What a lot of noise about that word...

As it happens, I hold a Degree, the sort colloquially known as "Master of Science". The principal degree requirement for a Master of Science is demonstrated mastery. Of Something. If you like, I wrote a Masterpiece of a Thesis... I'm not particularly proud of it as a Piece of Writing, but I can still tell you what's going on in every part of it, and it definitely all makes sense, while being not-obvious-from-the-get-go. And that was ten years ago.

That's what Mastery is about.

The Latin name for the same degree, from which the English "Master of Science" descends, is Magister Scientis. That's right. I can genuinely speak Magisterially about a small but significant and sometimes-useful bit of Mathematics, and in rather more depth than Baccalaureates are expected to. And it's not because I discovered anything, nor still less invented anything, but because I have mastered it. Got it under my dura, as it were. It was before I was; it now does my bidding (more or less) because I have been conformed to it, and know not to bid it what it will not Do.

Indeed, there is only One Who speaks Magisterially and Creatively in the same pneuma. The Church speaks with Magistras when and because and in how She is Conformed to Him Who Is Ante Ipsa. Her Epi-skopoi speak with Magistras, similarly, when they have mastered Her theology and been conformed to it. Whenever it is Not Her Theology that is spoken, it is not She who is speaking; and whoever speaks opposed to Her teaching has been mastered by Something Else, by something Alien.

I wonder to what extent "Magistras" has taken on the colour of Maiestas in the Public Mind (and elsewhere). They both have that Latinate flavour of Bookishness, haven't they? Not to mention differing only in three letters... easy to confuse? And be not in doubt: the Servus Servorum, and his Antistiti, indeed have maiestas, for instance in authority to discern penitence and so Forgive or Retain; and the SrvsSvrm has maiestas also to order the Episkopoi, defining their Parochia and such; Ligatum/Solutum erit et in Cœlis, remember! However!!! Magistras on the contrary is not about mastery of subjects but of mastery over self in deference to the Truth. (Materialists, btw, will tell you that "the truth" is "what is", whatever else those might be; we can do better: Truth is Who Is).

I don't care who is dropping "Magisterial" into what periodicals over or under what articles: the Magistras (or lack thereof) of anything is, at least in principal, a Falsifiable Proposition, because the Magisterium is a Public Tradition. Our Lord Himself answers those who conspire against him: "I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple, whither all the Jews resort: and in secret I have spoken nothing."

So There.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Musings wandering about his head

The musings are related, though broad-ranging... the Bat wishes to be clear up-front that, so far as he knows, everything non-obvious that follows in this note should be thought Speculation or a place to begin thinking, and he well may indeed go off his rails at some point; and if anyone knows so, would they kindly explain such to him... nonetheless it seems:

Why God is "Father"

Paul writes "... for this reason I bow my knees to the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for whom is named all Paternity..."

"Paternity". Paul tells us that (whatever the Accidents of History that led to this situation) God the Divine Person the Father is "Father" before any men are "fathers". That is, it isn't (so far as the Naming of Things is concerned) that Men (or Women) are "More God-Like" or otherwise intrinsically Superior and so we compromise God with the name "Father" after human fathers: it is that All Human Paternity (and all Angelic Paternity... whatever that might be?) is called by (and thus, called unto imitating) the Divine Person the Father.

Since we are, with St. Paul, ignoring the Accidents of History so far as where human words come from, let us remark that Paternity, (rather than "paterity"...) is the Relation of being the Pattern (rather than the pater) of Something That Follows (or Proceeds). Let us remark that, so far as Human Paternity is concerned, not only are men-alone quite incapable of achieving this kind of Paternity, but Mothers Also Participate In Exactly the Same Paternity: that is, children resemble both their parents — in varying degrees and at different times, for Human skulls (weirdly!) change considerably as we mature. More importantly still, good fathers and mothers both provide patterns of living for their children to imitate.

In Brief: "Paternity-as-such" is a relation that both mothers and fathers participate in.

Now, there is, again, a reason that Mother and Father have different names. Mothers do more than pattern their children: they bear and birth them, at considerable hazard, and they feed them of their own living blood. There are different trends in the psychology of human motherhood vs. human fatherhood that follow from (or feed) this distinct role of Motherhood, but they do not obscure the Imago Dei that both men and women bear. The key point, for which cause we do not call God "Mother" is that: to the extent that we are "in God", we never leave ("in Him we move and have our being"), and to the extent that we are outside of God (distinct from... it is indeed a Considerable Extent...) we never were in Him. Or, to put it differently, the Specific Difference that separates Motherhood In Particular from Paternity In General is an Ephemeral Thing; but Nothing In God is changeful. Or again, Motherhood-as-such is a New Creation.

Why Ordinandi are Men

Even that great Falsifier the Worldly Orson Welles could wax lyrical about how Chartres Cathedral was, as are so many Gothic Basilicas, like "a Forest of Stone"; with St. Paul, let us put things backwards and say: The Forests of Old are Foretellings of the Cathedral. But a Cathedral of Stone is itself but a House for an Altar and an Ark. The Ark (in its Tabernacle) is for the Present Hidden God, of course. But what are altars for? Why, for Blood.

Human Priests, before and after Jesus Christ, are not to shed their own blood on God's Altar. Indeed, under the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, there is only one Sacrifice on God's Altar, re-presented continually down through the Ages, resting only once a year on Good Friday... and it so happens that, shortly after the Forest (... or, perhaps, the Garden?... ) foretold the Cathedral, so too Woman foretold the Sacrifice and the Altar. That is, most women regularly shed their own blood, as a matter of course, and of keeping watch until the Master of the House Return, ... Woman portrays Sacrifice and Priesthood in her living flesh, more closely than we could bear to behold every day. Let these sacred things be veiled, but not eclipsed. Let not any think to Better that image of Man's duty of sacrifice unto God by imposing on a woman the work of sacrificing another's living blood, however great and holy. That were to make her less than she is, even the same which makes a man more than he was.

The priesthood of the lay faithful

There are, nonetheless, real and worthy sacrifices that all the faithful can make, and which No Priest can make for them. "If any man would come after Me, let him first deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me", says Our Lord; and St. Paul answers "with Christ, I am nailed to the cross; And I live, now, not I, but Christ liveth in me". As Abraham did sacrifice Isaac without shedding Isaac's blood, so we are called to sacrifice ourselves; and at the root of how we do that is to Repent of all our selfish sins, to Confess them through a Priest, doing Penance, and Receiving Holy Communion. Now-a-days, they even have wood boxes (usually, but not always, a bit larger than coffin-sized) in which to perform this Self-Immolation.

It takes an Ordained Priest with full Faculties to complete this work, to bind up the wound in Christ's Mystical Body, BUT no-one can begin this sacrifice on any other's behalf — and that is our priesthood; that is a Participatio Actuose!

From the Wilds of Urban Metropolis

Sunday, October 29, 2017

[indeed] temporary embarassing note

HURRAH! all sorted, now. Proceed as if we were normal.

The Bat of the Belfry has lost the password to his Other Email Address. You know, the address that I don't mention here.

In the highly-unlikely event that one of you kind souls has JUST written me and is wondering why I don't write back, that is probably the reason. There is a plan to get things fixed tomorrow.

Many thanks for your patience, prayers, and understanding,

one silly little goose of a bat