Dignare Me Laudare Te, Virgo Sacrata

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Excerpts from Pope Pius XI's 'Quas Primas'

[Image of Christ the King, taken from Pius XI: The Kingship of Christ]

[Taken from QUAS PRIMAS (On the Feast of Christ the King)]

In the first Encyclical Letter which We addressed at the beginning of Our Pontificate to the Bishops of the universal Church, We referred to the chief causes of the difficulties under which mankind was laboring. And We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ; and that We promised to do as far as lay in Our power. In the Kingdom of Christ, that is, it seemed to Us that peace could not be more effectually restored nor fixed upon a firmer basis than through the restoration of the Empire of Our Lord. We were led in the meantime to indulge the hope of a brighter future at the sight of a more widespread and keener interest evinced in Christ and his Church, the one Source of Salvation, a sign that men who had formerly spurned the rule of our Redeemer and had exiled themselves from his kingdom were preparing, and even hastening, to return to the duty of obedience...."

17. It would be a grave error, on the other hand, to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power. Nevertheless, during his life on earth he refrained from the exercise of such authority, and although he himself disdained to possess or to care for earthly goods, he did not, nor does he today, interfere with those who possess them. Non eripit mortalia qui regna dat caelestia....

19. When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience. It is for this reason that St. Paul, while bidding wives revere Christ in their husbands, and slaves respect Christ in their masters, warns them to give obedience to them not as men, but as the vicegerents of Christ; for it is not meet that men redeemed by Christ should serve their fellow-men. "You are bought with a price; be not made the bond-slaves of men." If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent. Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man. Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished....

21. That these blessings may be abundant and lasting in Christian society, it is necessary that the kingship of our Savior should be as widely as possible recognized and understood, and to the end nothing would serve better than the institution of a special feast in honor of the Kingship of Christ. For people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but once, the latter speak every year—in fact, forever. The church's teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart, and have a salutary effect upon the whole of man's nature. Man is composed of body and soul, and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites, in all their beauty and variety, may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain of God's teaching, that he may make it a part of himself, and use it with profit for his spiritual life....

24. If We ordain that the whole Catholic world shall revere Christ as King, We shall minister to the need of the present day, and at the same time provide an excellent remedy for the plague which now infects society. We refer to the plague of anti-clericalism [now known as secularism], its errors and impious activities. This evil spirit, as you are well aware, Venerable Brethren, has not come into being in one day; it has long lurked beneath the surface. The empire of Christ over all nations was rejected. The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied [the result of the Protestant Revolution]. Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them [the result of the "Enlightenment" and the Revolutions inspired by its ideas, such as the murderous French Revolution]. It was then put under the power of the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of princes and rulers. Some men went even further, and wished to set up in the place of God's religion a natural religion consisting in some instinctive affection of the heart. There were even some nations who thought they could dispense with God, and that their religion should consist in impiety and the neglect of God [the objective of the Communist Revolution and continues to be the objective of secularists the world over]. The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences. We lamented these in the Encyclical Ubi arcano; we lament them today: the seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin. We firmly hope, however, that the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in future will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to our loving Savior. It would be the duty of Catholics to do all they can to bring about this happy result. Many of these, however, have neither the station in society nor the authority which should belong to those who bear the torch of truth. This state of things may perhaps be attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the Church become bolder in their attacks. But if the faithful were generally to understand that it behooves them ever to fight courageously under the banner of Christ their King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win over to their Lord those hearts that are bitter and estranged from him, and would valiantly defend his rights.

25. Moreover, the annual and universal celebration of the feast of the Kingship of Christ will draw attention to the evils which anticlericalism [secularism] has brought upon society in drawing men away from Christ, and will also do much to remedy them. While nations insult the beloved name of our Redeemer by suppressing all mention of it in their conferences and parliaments, we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity and power, all the more universally affirm his rights....

29. It is not necessary, Venerable Brethren, that We should explain to you at any length why We have decreed that this feast of the Kingship of Christ should be observed in addition to those other feasts in which his kingly dignity is already signified and celebrated. It will suffice to remark that although in all the feasts of our Lord the material object of worship is Christ, nevertheless their formal object is something quite distinct from his royal title and dignity. We have commanded its observance on a Sunday in order that not only the clergy may perform their duty by saying Mass and reciting the Office, but that the laity too, free from their daily tasks, may in a spirit of holy joy give ample testimony of their obedience and subjection to Christ. The last Sunday of October seemed the most convenient of all for this purpose, because it is at the end of the liturgical year, and thus the feast of the Kingship of Christ sets the crowning glory upon the mysteries of the life of Christ already commemorated during the year, and, before celebrating the triumph of all the Saints, we proclaim and extol the glory of him who triumphs in all the Saints and in all the Elect. Make it your duty and your task, Venerable Brethren, to see that sermons are preached to the people in every parish to teach them the meaning and the importance of this feast, that they may so order their lives as to be worthy of faithful and obedient subjects of the Divine King.

Pope Pius XI Inside the Vatican, taken from the above link

31. When we pay honor to the princely dignity of Christ, men will doubtless be reminded that the Church, founded by Christ as a perfect society, has a natural and inalienable right to perfect freedom and immunity from the power of the state; and that in fulfilling the task committed to her by God of teaching, ruling, and guiding to eternal bliss those who belong to the kingdom of Christ, she cannot be subject to any external power. The State is bound to extend similar freedom to the orders and communities of religious of either sex, who give most valuable help to the Bishops of the Church by laboring for the extension and the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. By their sacred vows they fight against the threefold concupiscence of the world; by making profession of a more perfect life they render the holiness which her divine Founder willed should be a mark and characteristic of his Church more striking and more conspicuous in the eyes of all.

32. Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ. It will call to their minds the thought of the last judgment, wherein Christ, who has been cast out of public life, despised, neglected and ignored, will most severely avenge these insults; for his kingly dignity demands that the State should take account of the commandments of God and of Christian principles, both in making laws and in administering justice, and also in providing for the young a sound moral education.

33. The faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God. If all these truths are presented to the faithful for their consideration, they will prove a powerful incentive to perfection. It is Our fervent desire, Venerable Brethren, that those who are without the fold may seek after and accept the sweet yoke of Christ, and that we, who by the mercy of God are of the household of the faith, may bear that yoke, not as a burden but with joy, with love, with devotion; that having lived our lives in accordance with the laws of God's kingdom, we may receive full measure of good fruit, and counted by Christ good and faithful servants, we may be rendered partakers of eternal bliss and glory with him in his heavenly kingdom....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

St. Teresa de Avila's Devotion to St. Joseph

(Image of St. Teresa receiving Holy Communion, taken from Wikimedia)

[The following quotes from St. Teresa de Avila about her devotion to St. Joseph are taken from her autobiography.]

"I took for my advocate and lord the glorious Saint Joseph and commended myself earnestly to him; and I found that this my father and lord delivered me both from this trouble [a temporary paralysis] and also from other and greater troubles concerning my honor and the loss of my soul, and that he gave me greater blessings than I could ask of him. I do not remember even now that I have ever asked anything of him which he has failed to grant. I am astonished at the great favors which God has bestowed on me through this blessed saint, and at the perils from which He has freed me, both in body and in soul. To other saints the Lord seems to have given grace to succor us in some of our necessities but of this glorious saint my experience is that he succors us in them all and that the Lord wishes to teach us that as He was Himself subject to him on earth (for, being His guardian and being called His father, he could command Him) just so in Heaven He still does all that he asks. This has also been the experience of other persons whom I have advised to commend themselves to him; and even to-day there are many who have great devotion to him through having newly experienced this truth."

"I wish I could persuade everyone to be devoted to this glorious saint, for I have great experience of the blessings which he can obtain from God. I have never known anyone to be truly devoted to him and render him particular services who did not notably advance in virtue, for he gives very real help to souls who commend themselves to him. For some years now, I think, I have made some request of him every year on his festival and I have always had it granted. If my petition is in any way ill directed, he directs it aright for my greater good."

St. Joseph as 'Protector of the Church,' Assumption Basilica, Kevelaer, Germany, from St. Joseph in Art

"I only beg, for the love of God, that anyone who does not believe me will put what I say to the test, and he will see by experience what great advantages come from his commending himself to this glorious patriarch and having devotion to him. Those who practice prayer should have a special affection for him always. I do not know how anyone can think of the Queen of the Angels, during the time that she suffered so much with the Child Jesus, without giving thanks to Saint Joseph for the way he helped them. If anyone cannot find a master to teach him how to pray, let him take this glorious saint as his master and he will not go astray."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Commentaries on Psalm 129, for the Fourth Anniversary of Dignare Me

[Dignare Me Laudare Te, Virgo Sacrata began four years ago on 4 October 2004. This post is therefore 10 days late, but I still want to mark this occasion by posting a commentary on Psalm 129, my favorite psalm, from the 1948 reprint of a 1914 edition of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, printed by E.J. Dwyer, from which I found a commentary on the Ave Maris Stella.]

Psalm 129

De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine: Dómine, exáudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuae intendéntes: in vocem deprecationes meae.
Si iniquitátes observaveris, Dómine: Dómine, quis sustinébit.
Quia apud te propitiátio est, et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Dómine.
Sustinuit ánima mea in verbo ejus: sperávit ánima mea in Dómino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem, speret Israel in Dómino.
Quia apud Dóminum misericordia: et copiósa apud eum redémptio.
Et ipse redimet Israel, ex ómnibus iniquitátibus ejus.

"Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice.
O let Thine ears consider well: the voice of my supplication.
If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: Lord who shall abide it?
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness: and because of Thy Law have I waited for Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath waited on His word: my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night: let Israel hope in the Lord.
For with the Lord there is mercy: and with Him there is plenteous redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel, from all his iniquities."

"Besides being the eleventh of the Gradual Psalms, this is also the best known of the Penitential Psalms."

"'This psalm is generally regarded as a prayer of the Israelite captives in Babylon, imploring of God deliverance from their bitter tribulations. It is par excellence the psalm for the dead, not that it contains more mournful or penitential ideas than some of the other psalms, but it describes more exactly the sad state of the suffering souls in whose behalf the Church recites it' (Fillon).'"

"The psalm is thus summarized by Cardinal Tomasi, the Theatine [died 1713]: 'That Christ may grant us forgiveness of our sins without marking our iniquities. The voice of Christ and of the Church. This psalm is to be read with the prophet Jonas. Wherefore this eleventh step denotes the voice of St. Peter weeping bitterly after his fall, hence it is that of repenting sinners."

"SUMMARY. -- The Psalmist calls upon God in great distress of mind (1, 2). He encourages himself in the belief in His mercy (3, 4). Determines to wait for it (5, 6). Desires all Israel to do the same (7, 8)."

1. De profundis (Out of the depths) of water or mire -- that is, of the deepest affliction. It is the cry of the Jews from the depths of their captivity, and seemingly without hope.
Domine (Lord), Adonai, Sovereign Owner.
clamavi (I have cried). "Note," says St. Gregory the Great, "it is not written 'I am calling,' but I have called, showing us thereby not to end our prayer until by perseverance it has been granted. God loves to be asked, to be constrained, to be overcome, as it were, by importunity, for the loving repetition of His name makes the affection and confidence of His client."

Remark the six conditions of this prayer:
(1) Humble, Out of the depths.
(2) Fervent, I have cried.
(3) Direct to God, Unto Thee.
(4) Reverent, O Lord.
(5) Awed, Lord repeated.
(6) One's very own, hear my prayer.
"If from the depths of our misery into which our sins have brought us, we cry for help through Mary's intercession, we are sure to be heard. Therefore in accordance with the wish of the Church, we place the words of the psalm in the mouth of Mary, and asker her to say it for us. As a Mother she is always ready to pray for her children" (Dr. Schäfer)."

2. Angriani, the Carmelite [the General of the Carmelites and author of a very complete and learned Commentary on the Psalms; died 1416.]: "God is said to bow down His ear, that is, His readiness and mercy, to us. But we, on the other hand, are to lift ours to Him."
"When Mary says: 'Let Thine ears consider well the voice of my supplication,' her Divine Son will remember the joy it was to Him to hear this sweet voice on earth; and therefore He will be unable to refuse to listen to it now in heaven. She reminds Him of His infinite mercy, which moved Him to die on the Cross" (Dr. Schäfer).

3. observaveris (mark) -- strictly watch, and keep in mind in order to punish.
sustinebit (abide), endure, or stand in judgment in Thy presence.
When the Lord opens the Book of Doom, wherein are set down all our sins, Who shall abide it? -- that is, endure the shame and guilt. Therefore we beseech Him not to act as a Judge, but as the King of Mercy, and to exert His blessed prerogatives on our behalf.

4. If punishment swiftly followed sin, we would be tempted to cast off all fear of God and to sin in despair. But because with Thee there is merciful forgiveness, the sinner resolves not to offend again.
apud te (with Thee) there is hope and forgiveness, not despair.
propter legem tuam (because of Thy Law). God's law is NOW mercy and love.
"The Psalmist says: I have waited patiently, bearing my chastisement because of Thy law, knowing that in Thee there is an exhuastless fountain of compassion and mercy. And what causes me to hope in Thee is, that Thou makest it a law to have pity on every sinner who in humility seeks Thy pardon" (St. Alphonsus [Liguori]).

5. Sustinuit (relied). "My soul awaits the mercy of God relying on His promise. Thus having hoped in the Lord, it will not be confounded" (St. Alphonsus).
in verbo ejus (in His Word). "God has promised mercy through the Incarnation and Sacrifice of the Word, His only-begotten Son; and the Psalmist declares that he is relying upon a promise which can never fail" (Taunton).

6. A custodia matutina (From the morning watch).
Imagine the tired watchman or sentinel, weary on his night vigil of the lofty tower, eagerly scanning the Eastern horizon to catch the first gleam of morning dawn.
Like this Eastern watchman, we have to wait and hope in the Lord through the long stretch of this earthly life and through the night-watches of death and purgatory, until that day (so long hoped for) dawn[s], and the Sun of Justice illuminates[s] us with the light of glory.
St. Hilary [of Poitiers]: "These words refer to the breaking of the light of faith upon the soul till the close of life, working through all the burden and heat of the day until we receive the reward we know is awaiting us."

7. St. Alphonsus thus translates this glorious verse: "Here the Psalmist points out the foundation of all our hopes -- the Blood of Jesus Christ, by which He was to redeem the human race. He says: Let Israel hope in the Lord, for His mercy is infinite; and He is well able to redeem us from all our evils."
Cassiodorus [Roman writer, statesman, and monk; spent several years on a Commentary on the Psalms; died 583]: "Here is the reason for Israel to hope in the Lord; because in His hand is mercy, which can make the sinner righteous, the weak strong, and give to the carnal the purity of the angels. There is also the plentiful redemption which is the Precious Blood stored up for us in the Church, and ready to do its healing work at every turn of our life. Daily and hourly, It is being offered in the Sacrifice of the Mass on our behalf to the Eternal Father; daily, It is washing away original sin and actual sin."

8. And HE. On this word the emphasis lies.
To a Hebrew no restoration to God's favour could be complete without deliverance also from temporal captivity.
Iniquities -- not from temporal captivity only, or from suffering, which our appointed lot here, but from the bondage of sin. Even the purgatorial fires begin already to redeem our time, ransoming us in our temporal captivity, ridding us of every hindrance that keeps us from The Presence.
Mary encourages us to wait patiently from the morning watch till night, trusting in the abundant Redemption and infinite mercy of her Son; and she assures us of a gracious pardon, for He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

St. John Fisher

[The following an excerpt is from another commentary on Psalm 129 written by St. John Fisher, "translated" into modern English by Anne Barbeau Gardiner in Exposition of the Seven Penitential Psalms, published by Ignatius Press.]

"It is therefore very necessary for every sinner to be diligent and take heed, calling to remembrance the perilous and private jeopardies he lies in, wisely and circumspectly looking on the dangers that can befall him, and that done, lifting up the eyes of his soul to our most merciful Lord God, saying de profundis clamavi ad te, Domine; Domine, exaudi vocem mean, blessed Lord, I a sinful creature call to you for help: I beseech you, hear my voice. It is profitable for good and righteous people also to repeat this verse often so they can avoid the great perils of this wretched world. For no creature living is so steadfast sure not to fall into these deep dangers of sin; for this reason, Saint Paul admonishes us all, saying, qui state videat, ne cadat, he who stands, or he who is in the right way of good living, let him take care not to fall or go out of it (1 Cor. 10: 12). For this reason, let every righteous person say, de profundis clamavi ad te, Domine; Domine, exaudi vocem mean, good Lord, I, being in trouble and in fear of my enemies -- the world, the flesh, and the devil -- cry to you for help; hear my voice, deliver me from their dangers. Thirdly, let us often repeat this verse for those who are in purgatory, for whom Christ's Church has especially ordained this psalm to be said. The souls who are in these great pains await, ever looking for the great mercy of God, for one drop of it to assuage their pains by the help of our prayers. Therefore, as heartily as we can, let us all say this for their comfort: de profundis clamavi ad te, Domine; Domine, exaudi vocem mean...."

"O great merciful deed of our Lord shown upon his creatures! O inestimable meekness! O mercy so great, which no tongue can express! No matter how ungentle, merciless, and wicked creatures are, he is still sorry to see them perish. If, after their great offenses, they will look upon almighty God again by true and hearty penance, he will gladly admit them to forgiveness, will mercifully take them to him, and make them partakers of the noble redemption which was performed with the treasure of the precious blood of [H]is Son Jesus Christ. Accordingly, our prophet says thus et ipse redimet Israel ex omnibus iniquitatibus eius, [H]e shall make every penitent person partaker of [H]is redemption once done whenever the sinner will direct penitent eyes to [H]im. For then the sinner can well be called Israel, a man seeing God, whereas before, by sin, he had turned himself away from that most merciful Lord."

"Now let us conclude this sermon with a short summary of it. All you who have heard what we have spoken, I pray you, remember yourselves by how many degrees and how perilously every sinner descends, slips down suddenly, unless he takes heed, toward the deep pit of hell. Therefore, do penance in this life as soon as you can, and beseech almighty God to accept your penance. Trust indeed (if you do so) that neither your sins, nor the righteousness of God, nor the ordinance of his holy law can prevent your being assured ever to have forgiveness: first, by [H]is promise; secondly, by [H]is great power whereby [H]e can observe it; and lastly, because [H]e is so ready to forgive at every hour and every moment. Without doubt every sinner, no matter how wicked, by these great benefits of almighty God can trust indeed to have forgiveness if he does penance and holds himself up by the grace of God from falling into the deep dungeon of despair, which our Lord Jesus Christ grant us, Amen."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

G.K. Chesterton's "Lepanto"

[This post, dated 7 October 2008, was actually put up on 13 October 2008. It is a mirror of a post on BruceLewis.com. I would only add to this post that there are a lot of literary and historical references in the Chesterton's poem that aren't well known. See the notes here from a book on the poem by Dale Ahlquist of the American Chesterton Society for explanations of these references.]

WHITE founts falling in the Courts of the sun, 

And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run; 

There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared, 

It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard; 

It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;         5

For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships. 

They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy, 

They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea, 

And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss, 

And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.  10

The cold queen of England is looking in the glass; 

The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass; 

From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun, 

And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun. 


Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,  15

Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred, 

Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall, 

The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall, 

The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung, 

That once went singing southward when all the world was young.  20

In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid, 

Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade. 

Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far, 

Don John of Austria is going to the war, 

Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold  25

In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold, 

Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums, 

Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes. 

Don John laughing in the brave beard curled, 

Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,  30

Holding his head up for a flag of all the free. 

Love-light of Spain—hurrah! 

Death-light of Africa! 

Don John of Austria 

Is riding to the sea.  35


Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star, 

(Don John of Austria is going to the war.) 

He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri's knees, 

His turban that is woven of the sunsets and the seas. 

He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,  40

And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees; 

And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring 

Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing. 

Giants and the Genii, 

Multiplex of wing and eye,  45

Whose strong obedience broke the sky 

When Solomon was king. 


They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn, 

From the temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn; 

They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea  50

Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be, 

On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl, 

Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl; 

They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,— 

They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.  55

And he saith, "Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide, 

And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide, 

And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest, 

For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west. 

We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,  60

Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done. 

But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know 

The voice that shook our palaces—four hundred years ago: 

It is he that saith not 'Kismet'; it is he that knows not Fate; 

It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey at the gate!  65

It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth, 

Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth." 

For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar, 

(Don John of Austria is going to the war.) 

Sudden and still—hurrah!  70

Bolt from Iberia! 

Don John of Austria 

Is gone by Alcalar. 


St. Michaels on his Mountain in the sea-roads of the north 

(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)  75

Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift 

And the sea-folk labour and the red sails lift. 

He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone; 

The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone; 

The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes,  80

And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise, 

And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room, 

And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom, 

And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,— 

But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.  85

Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse 

Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips, 

Trumpet that sayeth ha! 

    Domino gloria! 

Don John of Austria  90

Is shouting to the ships. 


King Philip's in his closet with the Fleece about his neck 

(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.) 

The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin, 

And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.  95

He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon, 

He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon, 

And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey 

Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day, 

And death is in the phial and the end of noble work, 100

But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk. 

Don John's hunting, and his hounds have bayed— 

Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid. 

Gun upon gun, ha! ha! 

Gun upon gun, hurrah! 105

Don John of Austria 

Has loosed the cannonade. 


The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke, 

(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.) 

The hidden room in man's house where God sits all the year, 110

The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear. 

He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea 

The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery; 

They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark, 

They veil the plumèd lions on the galleys of St. Mark; 115

And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs, 

And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs, 

Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines 

Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines. 

They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung 120

The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young. 

They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on 

Before the high Kings' horses in the granite of Babylon. 

And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell 

Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell, 125

And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign— 

(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!) 

Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop, 

Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop, 

Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds, 130

Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds, 

Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea 

White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty. 


Vivat Hispania! 

Domino Gloria! 135

Don John of Austria 

Has set his people free! 


Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath 

(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.) 

And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain, 140

Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain, 

And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade.... 

(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

—G.K. Chesterton 

Monday, October 06, 2008

St. Bruno, Founder of the Carthusian Order

(The following is the legend of the breviary for St. Bruno, as quoted in Dom Prosper Guéranger's entry in The Liturgical Year for October 6, in Volume XIV of the 1983 Marian House edition of the English translation by the Benedictines of Stanbrook.)

"Bruno, the founder of the Carthusian Order, was born at Cologne [Germany], and from his very cradle gave great promise of future sanctity. Favoured by divine grace, the gravity of his character made him shun all childishness; so that, even at that age, one might have foreseen in him the future father of monks and restorer of the anachoretical life [life of a hermit]. His parents, who were distinguished for virtue and nobility, sent him to Paris, where he made great progress in philosophy and theology, and took the degrees of doctor and master in both faculties. Soon after this, he was, for his remarkable virtue, appointed to a canonry in the church of Rheims [France]."

"After some years, Bruno, with six of his friends, renounced the world, and betook himself to [St.] Hugh [of Châteauneuf], bishop of Grenoble [France]. On learning the cause of their coming, the bishop understood that they had been signified by the seven stars he had seen falling at his feet in his dream of the previous night. He therefore made over to them some wild mountains called the Chartreuse, belonging to his diocese, and himself conducted them thither. After having there led an eremitical life for several years, Bruno was summoned to Rome by [Pope] Urban II who had been his disciple. In the great trials through which the Church was then passing, the Pontiff gladly availed himself of the saint's prudence and knowledge for some years, until Bruno, refusing the archbishopric of Reggio [Italy, probably the town on the tip opposite of Sicily], obtained leave to retire."

"Attracted by the love of solitude he went to a desert place near Squillace in Calabria. Count Roger of Calabria was one day hunting, when his dogs began to bark round the saint's cave. The Count entered and found Bruno at his prayers, and was so struck by his holiness, that thenceforward he greatly honoured him and his companions and supplied their wants. His generosity met with its reward. A little later, when this same Count Roger was besieging Capua, and Sergius, an officer of his guard, had determined to betray him, Bruno, who was still living in the desert [place], appeared to the Count in sleep, revealed the whole treason to him, and thus saved him from imminent peril. At length, full of virtues and merits, and as renowned for holiness as for learning, Bruno fell asleep in our Lord [on 6 October 1101], and was buried in the monastery of St. Stephen built by Count Roger, where he is greatly honour to this day."

[St. Bruno's community of Carthusians in the Chartreuse Mountains is still there, after 900+ years. German filmmaker Philip Gröning made a documentary, released in 2005, called "Into Great Silence," which I highly recommend. Below is the official U.S. trailer for the movie.]