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

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Not for excessive iteration, but...

... the Canonist has some worth-while things to say about the (canonical, theological... ) uses of the word "Received".

If I may, I think St. John the Evangelist also has a useful word or two, in the "Last" Gospel.

In propria venit, et sui eum not receperunt

... To His own He came, and His own received Him not.

(I think that's enough, don't you?)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Far be it from me...

There is, in certain circles you may have intersected, a trope of asserting something along the lines of
that “active” there is supposed to reflect Sacrosanctum Concilium’s word “actuosa”, which is better rendered as the deeper “actual”.
You may have read these words somewhere else recently, perhaps set in Red? ... Anyways. There is a small problem, however, if you own/have borrowed/stolen/know how to find a "Lewis and Short":
actŭōsus , a, um, adj. actus,

I.full of activity, very active (with the access. idea of zeal, subjective impulse; diff. from industrius, which refers more to the means by which an object is attained, Doed. Syn. 1, 123): “virtus actuosa (est), et deus vester nihil agens expers virtutis (est),” Cic. N. D. 1, 40; so id. Or. 36, 125; Sen. Ep. 39.—Hence, acc. to Fest. s. v. actus, p. 15, subst., an actor or dancer.—Adv.: actŭōse , in a lively manner, with activity, Cic. de Or. 3, 26, 102.

A Latin Dictionary. Founded on Andrews' edition of Freund's Latin dictionary. revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten by. Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D. and. Charles Short, LL.D. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1879.
So. You see the difficulty. There's nothing about distinguishing between "superficial/profound" in there. There's nothing about genuine or feigned. It's almost as if "active" is exactly the right translation from the Latin to our English.

Nonetheless, there is a substantive criticism to be made where the intersecting circles do criticize, and I should like to add my voice to it, BUT USING A BAD ARGUMENT WON'T HELP and repeating carelessly "the word 'actuosa' is better translated 'actual' than 'active'" is a BAD ARGUMENT for two reasons: 1) it misses the point and 2) it suggests an insupportable translation. I've remarked before that we need grammar to translate properly, and not merely words.

"Actuosa" is an adjective. Adjectives are like verbs in that they are attached (grammatically) to (grammatical) nouns. There is therefore a question: what is the noun to which "actuosa" is attached? In the disputed text, that is obviously "participatio". So, then, the distinction should not be between whether "participatio actuosa" is "actual" or "active", but where the activity of the "active participation" is. To put it differently again, within the very same entry we have an adjective and an adverb: It's as though Lewis+Short imagine that the Council Fathers had a choice between "participatio actuosa" and "participans actuose".

In "participans actuose" what becomes actuosus is the participant — and that's the caricature against which the "actually..." counter was tried. For indeed when all are actuosi, all is Babel and Negotio; but we seek Requiem: "Beati mortui qui in Domino moriuntur... requiescant a laboribus suis". In "participatio actuosa" it is the participatio ipsa that is actuosa. Yes, it's easy to imagine the conjunction of both, participans participatio actuosa actuose as it were, but it is hardly necessary. It's perfectly consonant with the idea of "participatio actuosa" that the part one takes (parte quem cipit) is active, lively, full of activity, within the participant. That attending to the Mass (whatever that looks like from the outside) might, as it were, bring life into the soul. HMMM!

Monday, September 4, 2017

scattered thoughts on how the best words go very wrong cut off from tradition

Peace is a good thing, obviously; and the best peace to have is that of Heaven; to attain it is a struggle, a constant battle, a striving against devils, against powers and principalities; and the only sure way to attain it is to surrender to the Divine Will...

Any good Catholic can agree with all of that, but will insist that it is badly incomplete.

Our Peace hath a name: it is Jesus Christ.

Our Struggle is within our very souls, so that we can then love our Neighbour in Truth and Right.

Our Surrender is to take up our Crosses and to die to ourselves (which, among other ways, we do whenever we make a good confession).

Friday, September 1, 2017

Form and formation

A little while ago, in studying for us the "εφφαθα" Miracle, Father cited St. Thomas' proposition that even those of us disabled of some sense, of sight or hearing or reason... still possess an inclination towards those senses, being part of Human Nature; and this was Father's lead-in to another particular inclination integral to Human Nature against which, that very day, there were in our City a number of parades marching under the banner "Bar-y of disordered colours and metals" and the motto "Hubris!"... Oh, how dull. That's not why I'm writing today.

There is a marvellous illustration of St Thomas' contention in the discovery, within neuroscience, of plasticity: it's possible (though probably not a good idea) to inhibit the development of the parts of the brain closest to the sense of sound — in fact, an effective way is to produce a defective ear — ; and then a funny thing happens when wires are connected between ordinary (probably tiny) microphones and some other part of the brain: that part of the brain being tickled in a way that behaves like "sound" will then reconnect itself to behave more like an auditory centre. And that's the basic idea behind cochlear implants.

However, this doesn't mean that, in the ordinary course of things, a cochlear-implant patient develops perfect hearing: plasticity is limited by age, and it seems to get used-up. In a similar way, people can have perfectly well-formed retinas but congenital cataracts; now-a-days such cataracts can be corrected before a child learns to walk (this happened to a ... er... step-cousin... of mine... !) but before we grew so daring, adults given late correction of early cataracts learned to see in greater resolution, but ordinarily couldn't intuit perspective. Seeing and understanding the space we inhabit indeed belongs to our Human Form, but we usually need to be informed by that space early in life. Just as a rhyming point of amusement, I can tell you with certainty that I have trouble seeing the roundness of circles. If you show me a circle as perfect as can be, if it is large enough (which isn't too large), my brain will insist that the shape is being more tightly curved in four corners, top and bottom, left and right; maybe I've been looking at rectangles for too long? (Me! a geometer...)

Anyways, I bring it up — the limits of ordinary plasticity — to highlight just how complete is the Miracle of the εφφαθα: this man was born and lived a long time with sticking tongue and blocked ears, and in the very minute that his ears are opened and his tongue loosed, he is able to speak what he has never heard before, using muscles that have never been trained; and to understanding what he cannot have learned by hearing. Verily, vino torcularia redundabant!