{    Cnytr   }

{Thursday, February 26, 2009  }

.:{One last thing}:.

I have a new email address ( LawrenceAquinasCnytr at gmail dot com ), as listed in the sidebar. For years, I would be terrible at checking the old one. If you do wish to reach me, this will do the trick.

And, if you want a postcard from my island vacation with a strange anecdote and a colloquial phrase in the local language, drop me an email with your address.
posted by Lauren, 7:24 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Fr Z posts a freaking adorable chickadee.}:.

Post here .

Oh, I am betaking myself to an island getaway through March 10th. I may have time to blog, but likely not. Farewell!
posted by Lauren, 6:54 PM | link | 1 comments

.:{Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving}:.

The other evening I was fortunate enough to hear Fr. Giles Dimmock, OP preach on the traditional works of Ash Wednesday -- namely: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Please allow me to share something I found both beautiful and interesting about the connection between the three.

Prayer, Fr. Dimmock reminded us, is an emptying of ourselves, a welling up of the heart and mind to God. There is such a thing as "pious busywork" wherein we prattle and prattle to the Almighty, "hearing" ourselves speak rather than letting God speak to us. Fr. Dimmock reminded us of the anecdote of the Cure d'Ars, who found the same beggar man sitting in his church all the time. "What do you do all day?" the Cure asked the man. The man responded, "I look at Him, and He looks at me."

Fasting, too, is an emptying -- an emptying of our stomachs, which is also an emptying of bodily needs. This has a very practical implication. Remembering that fasting is not eating (there's no such thing as "fasting from television"!), one was supposed to use the money one saved from not eating, so that others may eat. This brings us to almsgiving.

Almsgiving is the emptying of the wallet. Even though we have needs, there are those more needy than us. Almsgiving is another form of self-emptying, a letting-go and detachment from worldly goods.

These things, an emptying of the mind, of the belly and of the wallet, are a full emptying of ourselves, so that we may be filled with Christ. When we engage in pryaing, fasting and almsgiving we open wide the doors to Christ, in the words of John the Baptist, we "decrease so that he may increase".

When there is little of ourselves, then Christ can fully enter in.
posted by Lauren, 3:10 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Our Lady, Exterminatrix of Heresies}:.

or, less interestingly, la Madonna del Soccorso

This Lent, the Cnytr has decided to forgo her usual cat-of-nine-tails for the byzantine (meant pejoratively) rubrics of the 1962 breviary, as she has enough pain reading about the state of politics in this country.

One thing very much appreciated and not often seen are prayers for defense against heterodoxy, or prayers for continuing orthodoxy. Take, for example, the Te Igitur. The Latin reads:

Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum, Dominum nostrum, supplices rogamus ac petimus uti accepta habeas, et benedicas haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata; in primis quae tibi offerimus pro Ecclesia tua sancta catholica; quam pacificare, custodire, adunare, et regere digneris toto orbe terrarum: una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N.,et Antistite nostro N. et omnibus orthodoxis, atque catholicae et aostolicae fidei cultoribus.

Note the part in bold. This has not changed in the new mass, yet the translation reads:

P: We come to you, Father, with praise and thanksgiving, Through Jesus Christ your Son. Through him we ask you to accept and bless these gifts we offer you in sacrifice. We offer them for your holy catholic Church; watch over it, Lord, and guide it; grant it peace and unity throughout the world. We offer them for N. our Pope, for N. our Bishop, and for all who hold and teach the catholic faith that comes to us from the apostles.

The word "orthodox" (from the Greek "orthos", meaning "right" or "straight", and "doxia", meaning "teaching") is conspicuously missing, although probably assumed (because, I suppose, if one is teaching the Catholic faith, one is not teaching falsity, because there is no falsity in the Catholic faith).

I am given to understand this is to be emended in the new translation (which I should have seen, but have not, because I was lazy when the copies were available, or have forgotten). Huzzah, says I. While there is truth to the aforementioned assumption, it is good for people to know explicitly (i.e. to be told) that there is right teaching and wrong teaching, and only right teaching is acceptable.

This thought process was triggered by some of the devotions at the end of the breviary this morning, namely in the Suffrage of All Saints, here reproduced, for convenience's sake, in English:

Ant. May the blessed Mother of God, Mary the Virgin, and all the Saints, intercede for us with the same Lord our God.

V. The Lord hath chosen to himself them that are godly.
R. When they call upon the Lord he will hear them.

Let us pray.

Defend us, O Lord, we beseech thee, from all dangers both of body and soul : and at the intercession of the blessed and glorious Ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of thy holy Apostles Peter and Paul, [of blessed N.,] and of all thy Saints, grant us thy saving health and peace ; that being defended from all adversities and all false doctrines, thy Church may serve thee in freedom and quietness. Through the same.
R. Amen.

There are those who complain of a certain militarism in devotions past. Yet I would say, as the phrase in bold illustrates, si vis pacem, para bellum: if you would have peace, prepare for war. In the spiritual life, the man void of virtues and defenses against evil will be constantly beset and will constantly fall and fail. But he who strengthens himself and prepares for said spiritual warfare will be in the state of grace, with God at his side, and be at peace.

Yet as we know, sometimes we just need Mary to whack at our demons with a giant, oversized club. And for this we have the Madonna del Soccorso (not to be confused with the Madonna di perprtuo soccorso or, if you're me, the Madonna di pronto soccorso).

A few excerpts from this link tell her tale:

One such miracle took place when a six-year-old boy misbehaved for his mother. The boy, like most six-year-olds, was full of energy and getting on his mother's nerves. In a rage, the mother shouted to her son "go to the devil you little pest." Suddenly the devil appeared and grabbed the boy. The mother realizing what she had done and truly sorry called on the Madonna del Soccorso to rescue her son from the hands of Satan.

Miraculously the Madonna del Soccorso dressed in a white and gold robe and carrying a wooden club appeared. In one sweep of the club the Blessed Lady hit the devil and knocked him to the ground. The boy now released ran not to his mother but ran instead to Madonna del Soccorso, under whose cape he hid. The Blessed Mother with the boy still under Her cape walked over to the Devil and stood on top of him. She then turned to the boy's mother and said, 'Put your trust in Madonna del Soccorso for I am the protector of Sciacca. " Then releasing the boy to his mother She said "Fear not my children for I shall never abandon you.' [...]

In the year 1503, upon the completion of the statue the townspeople of Sciacca [On the south western coast of Sicily, nearly directly south of Palermo. ~L] were faced with the major problem of transporting the very heavy statue from Palermo to Sciacca. Since Palermo was to the north and Sciacca to the south with no railroads between them, the town decided to use a boat to ship the statue to Sciacca. Unfortunately, there were no transport boats large enough to carry the statue in Palermo or Sciacca. The fishermen of Sciacca realizing that they could help, decided to send their fleet of fishing boats to Palermo and in some way return to Sciacca with the statue of their beloved Madonna. Over two hundred fishermen were needed to carry the statue to the dock where it was then placed on the largest fishing boat available. With such a heavy load as the solid marble statue on board, the fishing boat was barely able to stay afloat let alone move along the seas under its own power. Using their fishing nets and drop lines the fishermen secured their boats to the vessel carrying the statue and in tug boat fashion carefully escorted the statue of the Madonna out of Palermo, across the seas and headed home to Sciacca. Upon entry into the harbor of Sciacca, the fishermen were greeted with tumultuous applause and gratitude. In recognition of their sacrifice and in gratitude to the fishermen the town of Sciacca rewarded the fishermen with the sole honor of carrying the statue of the Madonna. Till this day, the only people allowed to carry the statue in Sciacca are the fishermen of the town.

Madonna del soccorso, preghia per noi!
posted by Lauren, 9:31 AM | link | 1 comments

{Wednesday, February 25, 2009  }

.:{Spare, O Lord, Your People}:.

Dans tempus acceptabile,
Da lacrimarum rivulis
Lavare cordis victimam,
Quam laeta adurat caritas.

Audi, benigne Conditor,
Nostras preces cum fletibus
In hoc sacro jejunio,
Fusas quadragenario.

Having given us this acceptable time,
grant that in the water of our tears we may purify our heart
and that it may become a joyful sacrifice offered out of love.

O Merciful Creator,
hear our prayers with our weeping
in this holy time
of forty day fasting.
posted by Lauren, 12:25 AM | link | 5 comments

{Tuesday, February 24, 2009  }

.:{On love, suffering and sacrifice -- an Ash Wednesday reflection}:.

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

The angels envy us for one thing only, that we can suffer as Christ did, and they cannot.
~St. Padre Pio

To be set at the cross is to be set at the pinnacle of all human possibilities.
~Fr. John Corapi, SOLT

Oh, the course of true love never did run smooth, neither for mankind nor for God. In these days leading up to Lent, we have heard the early stories in salvation history -- Abraham, Noe and the flood, the tower of Babel. We see mercy poured out upon the unworthy, almost as pearls before swine. Again and again when God has stretched out his love to Israel, she has betrayed him. And yet he sent his only Son to die for us. Love reaches out towards the thing it loves, desiring union. But love can only be freely given and freely received, as it is the freest of all gifts. And therefore man's concupiscence is the great tragedy on the stage of salvation history.

But at the same time, it is a tragi-comedy, for of course, the play does not end there: the play is more Orsino and Viola from Twelfth Night than Romeo and Juliet. We poor human creatures seek love everywhere but where it really is for us -- in God -- and those things which we pursue and pursue on the earth are perishable, phantoms that disappear in our Apollo-like embrace. The great, cosmic humor is that it's so obvious.

But silly and comic as we look in that embrace, it is nonetheless a painful one. Mankind loves, and knows several kinds of loves, but the most perfect loves which he seeks and which seeks him is Divine love. It can be frustrating. We seem to see and taste pieces of this love everywhere. But indeed, when we have our clearest glimpses, then we only see "darkly, as through a mirror". Why? Because we have again and again rejected the love that fulfills us and makes us whole. The sin of Adam is the sin of mankind, and in our false love of perceived goods, we become more entangled in ourselves and our pride. Mankind loves, but the most perfect kind of love is when it shares in this Divine Love. This Divine Love is sacrificial, self-giving, totally-outside-of-oneself-for-another (the word "ecstasy" comes from the Greek ex stasis, a standing outside [of oneself]) -- it's kind of mad, in a way. Especially after the fall when concupiscence tells mankind that he is the center of his own world. Reconciling concupiscent love with Divine Love is hard, difficult, painful. When we are attached to our own skins, the stripping of them wounds us. The real Love that takes one outside of oneself enough to lay down one's everything for the Beloved is a threshing-floor of our imperfections. Letting go of one's own concupiscence hurts. We know this, as we know that embracing another concupiscent individual in this real love is also painful, though in a different way. To open oneself and give freely is to give oneself to another who may greet you as they greeted Christ, "with buffets and spitting". The Beloved doesn't mean this for the lover -- in our right minds, none of us want to crucify Christ. But the reality of our sin and concupiscence acts otherwise.

It is the same on the spiritual level, where the Beloved is Christ. Except Love's wounds in that case do not come from embracing another concupiscent creature, but from embracing Perfection Himself. The force of that Perfection burns away painfully our own imperfections, but it is, of course, what makes us Perfect in turn.

This is really at the core of the Lenten call the repentance, this painful stripping of ourselves, a giving of all that we have so that in our poverty we may be truly rich, a decreasing of ourselves and an increasing of Christ, the Beloved, simply so that we may love him the more. In our sin, we wound Christ, as the Good Friday reproaches remind us:

I led you out of Egypt,
from slavery to freedom,
but you led your Savior to the cross. ...

I opened the sea before you,
but you opened my side with a spear. ...

I led you on your way in a pillar of cloud,
but you led me to Pilate's court. ...

I bore you up with manna in the desert,
but you struck me down and scourged me. ...

I gave you a royal scepter,
but you gave me a crown of thorns. ...

raised you to the height of majesty,
but you have raised me high on a cross.

How tragic! Of course our hearts are rent within us, and we have many reasons to pour forth our tears. In this season of Lent, our transgressions are continually before us.

But Christ's coming to suffer was no isolated event. Not only has he purchased us by his blood, but he has shown us the way to Him by this suffering. As through his example we know how to love other people, even though they crucify us, so through him do we find the way to perfection through suffering with Christ.

As Fr. Corapi says, there is no love without sacrifice, and there is no sacrifice without suffering. In this simple syllogism is all the wisdom we need this Lent, and highlights the need for sacrifice and suffering, to pour out ourselves completely, to drain the cup to its bitter dregs. As the poet Khalil Gibran says,

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Yet as many know, oftentimes this suffering comes from without. But then how lucky for us! What better way to know our home is not here among the things of earth, but in heaven? Indeed, the Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and a humbled, contrite heart is a most appropriate sacrifice. When we are lowest, then we know best how to be humble, how to love not ourselves, not the things which keep us from He whom our heart loves, and so to stand outside of ourselves in an ecstasy of joy.

Oh yes, for in pain, suffering and sacrifice, there is ultimately joy. We are yet incomplete. Our sacrifices and our suffering from within and without remind us of this. As the CS Lewis character in the play Shadowlands says, "We're like blocks of stone, out of which the sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of His chisel, which hurt us so much, are what make us perfect. The suffering in the world is not the failure of God's love for us; it is that love in action. For believe me, this world that seems to us so substantial is now more than shadowlands. Real life has not begun yet."

The more we walk humbly and love suffering, the more capacity we have for love, and thus for ultimate joy, as we become less and less attached to the phantoms of this world.
To quote Gibran again:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in he potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? [...]

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And you could keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; [...]

Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

The great tragi-comedy of salvation is our mis-seeing the obvious, our seeking He whom our heart loves, disguised in front of our eyes, even though he constantly calls out to us. When we see him, and when we embrace him, the lover becomes like the beloved. Therefore we reject our sinful lives, and we lovingly embrace the pain of being tried, refined through fire as silver. Therefore we suffer, and we live.
posted by Lauren, 8:49 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Excerpt from Viktor E. Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning"}:.

Dr. Frankl, himself a concentration camp prisoner, addresses his fellow inmates on the behest of one of them, after a particularly horrific day:

I said that even in this Europe in the 6th winter of the Second World War, our situation was not the most terrible we could think of. I said that each of us had to ask himself what irreplaceable losses he had suffered up till then. I speculated that for most of them, these losses had really been few. Whoever was still alive had reason for hope. Health, family, happiness, professional abilities, fortune, position in society -- all these were things that could be achieved again or restored. After all, we still had all our bones intact. Whatever we had gone through could still be an asset to us for the future. And I quoted from Nietzsche: "that which does not kill me makes me stronger".

Then I spoke about the future. I said that to the impartial the future must seem hopeless. I agreed that each of us could guess for himself how small were his chances of survival. I told them that although there was still no typhus epidemic in the camp, I estimated my own chances at about one in twenty. But I also told them that in spite of this, I had no intention of losing hope and giving up, for no man knew what the future would bring, much less the next hour. Even if we could not expect any sensational military events in the next few days, who knew better than we, with our experience of camps, how great chances sometimes opened up quite suddenly, at least for the individual. For instance, one might be attached unexpectedly to a special group with especially good working conditions, for this was the kind of thing that constituted the "luck" of a prisoner.

But I did not only talk of the future and the veil which was drawn over it, I also mentioned the past, all its joys and how its light shone even in the present darkness. Again I quoted a poet -- to avoid sounding like a preacher myself -- who had written, "what you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you". Not only our experiences, but all we have done, whatever great thoughts we may have had, and all we have suffered, all this is not lost, even though it is past. We have brought it into being. Having being is also a kind of being, and perhaps the surest kind. Then I spoke of all the opportunities of giving life a meaning. I told my comrades, who lay motionless although occasionally a sigh could be heard, that human life, under any circumstances, never ceases to have a meaning, and that this infinite meaning of life includes suffering and dying, privation and death. I asked the poor creatures who listened to me attentively in the darkness of the hut to face up to the seriousness of our position. They must not lose hope, but should keep their courage in the certainty that the hopelessness of our struggle did not detract from its dignity and its meaning. I said that someone looks down on each of us in difficult hours -- a friend, a wife, somebody alive or dead, or a God -- and he would not expect us to disappoint him. He would hope to find us suffering proudly, not miserably, knowing how to die.

And finally I spoke of our sacrifice which had meaning in every case. It was in the nature of this sacrifice that it should appear to be pointless in the normal world, the world of material success. But in reality our sacrifice did have a meaning. Those of us who had any religious faith, I said frankly, could understand without difficulty. I told them of a comrade who on his arrival in camp had tried to make a pact with heaven that his suffering and death should save the human being he loved from a painful end. For this man, suffering and death were meaningful. His was a sacrifice of the deepest significance. He did not want to die for nothing -- none of us wanted that.
posted by Lauren, 8:39 PM | link | 0 comments

{Friday, February 20, 2009  }

.:{Your Friday Penance}:.

These days, the Cnytr has gone tri-ritual (Novus Ordo, Extraordinary Form, and ... Ukranian Greek Catholic). Not in any official sense, bless you (that would be quite against canon law!), but as an exercise in a fuller approach to the Faith and especially the sacraments.

Now I've been contemplating the various Lenten practices of the three traditions -- from the Lent-isn't-on-Sundays, to the Lent-is-all-the-time-even-Sundays, to the "Lent is pain ... anyone who says differently is selling something." I'm given to understand Ukranian Lent involves abstinence from butter, eggs, sugar, and many other things too painful to list. An exercise in prudence, humility, temperance, and practically every other virtue plus a few I just made up.

But if I can't quite jump aboard that sort of Lent just yet, I'm certainly subscribing to the old tradition of a sort of "pre-Lent" before Lent, starting with Septagesima Sunday (which was the Sunday before last), in which the priest dons purple, no "alleluia" is said, and some attempt at penance is made. As a favorite priest of mine says, "If you wait until Lent to prepare, it's too late!"

Therefore, in a pre-Lenten spirit, here is a little Friday penance:

posted by Lauren, 11:00 AM | link | 1 comments

{Wednesday, February 11, 2009  }

.:{Um, just to prove the Cnytr isn't totally out of touch with the current liturgical calendar ...}:.

(Now with a less huge image).

Happy feast of Our Lady of Lourdes!

... be sure to think of her this upcoming All Saints Day!
posted by Lauren, 11:56 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Sts. Agatha and Lucy}:.

The side-altar of St. Lucy; Crypt Church, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

"Thou," said he, "art the daughter of a noble family? dost thou feel no shame in living the degraded and slavish life of a Christian?"

Agatha answered him, "The lowliness and bondage of a Christian are far nobler than the estate and pride of a king."

~from St. Agatha's martyrology

A week ago Thursday was the feast day of the Cnytr's patroness -- St. Agatha. While the feast day was not uncelebrated, it was unblogged-about since, as you may have noticed, the blogging has been slack as of late. Understatement of the year.

However, given Lauren's shocking near-complete ignorance of St. Lucy (whose feastday was December 13th), she has recently discovered a connection between the two -- directly in holy Lucy's martyrology:

Lucy was a maiden of Syracuse, the daughter of a noble Christian family. Her mother Eutychia, being afflicted with an issue of blood, went with her to Catania, to pray before the body of the blessed Agatha. Lucy, by her earnest prayers at the grave, ordained her mother's cure, through the intercession of Agatha, and then immediately begged her to give to Christ's poor the whole dowry which had been set apart for herself. As soon, therefore, as they returned to Syracuse, they sold the property, and distributed the money among the poor.

When this came to the ears of one to whom her parents had betrothed her against her will, he accused Lucy before Paschasius the Prefect of being a Christian. The Prefect could not move her to commit idolatry, either by his entreaties or by his threats ; nay, the more he strove to persuade her, so much the bolder did she become in her confession. Then, seeing that he could prevail nothing, "Words," saith he, "will cease when we come to blows." To whom the virgin answered : "God's servants will never want words, for the Lord Christ hath said : 'When ye shall stand before kings and governors, take no thought how or what ye shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak, for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost which speaketh in you.'"

Then Paschasius asked her, saying, "Is the Holy Ghost in thee?" Whereto she answered, "They that live in chastity and piety are the temples of the Holy Ghost." "Then," said he, "I will send thee to be prostituted in a brothel, and get the Holy Ghost out of thee." To whom she made reply, "Thou canst not prostitute my will. If thou cause this poor body to be violated, the crown of my soul's purity will be brighter through suffering."

Then he bade them take her to the place of shame but by the power of God it became impossible to move her. Whereupon, being inflamed with anger, he had pitch, resin, and boiling oil poured upon her, and then set on fire. But the fire did not take hold upon her. Therefore he practiced many other cruelties upon her, and at last thrust a sword through her neck. When Lucy had received this wound, she began to speak of the peace of the Church, which it should enjoy after the death of Diocletian and Maximian, and presently returned her soul into the hands of God. She testified on the thirteenth day of December. Her body was buried at Syracuse, but afterwards taken to Constantinople, and lastly to Venice.

The responsory, however, for St. Lucy reflects a dialogue between Lucy and Agatha found in the Acta Sanctae Luciae (to which I do not have direct access at the moment).

The responsory is, in Latin:
R. Lúcia virgo, quid a me petis quod ipsa póteris præstáre contínuo matri tuæ? nam et fides tua illi subvénit, et ecce salváta est : * Quia jucúndum Deo in tua virginitáte habitáculum præparásti.
V. Sicut per me cívitas Catanénsium sublimátur a Christo, ita per te Syracusána cívitas decorábitur.
R. Quia jucúndum Deo in tua virginitáte habitáculum præparásti.

in English,

R. Maiden Lucy, why seekest thou of me that which thou thyself canst presently give thy mother? for thy faith hath holpen her, and, behold, she is made whole : * Because thou hast made in thy virginity a pleasant dwelling-place for thy God.
V. Even as Christ hath by me glorified Catania, so by thee shall he glorify Syracuse.
R. Because thou hast made in thy virginity a pleasant dwelling-place for thy God.

This is, I think, a translation from the Acta:

In time, Lucy persuaded her mother to go to Catana, to the tomb of St. Agatha, to beg for a cure of her hemorrhaging. St. Agatha was a virgin-martyr, whose tomb was less than fifty miles from Syracuse. Her fame had spread far and wide since she had died fifty-two years before, in the Decian persecution. When they arrived at St. Agatha’s tomb, Mass had already started, and at that moment, the passage of the Gospel was being read, about Our Lord’s cure of a woman with a similar blood problem.

At this point, Lucy said to her mother, “If you believe what you have just heard, you should also believe that Agatha is always in the presence of Jesus in Heaven, for whose name she suffered martyrdom. And if with this same faith, you touch St. Agatha’s tomb, you will instantly recover your health!”

So, after Mass, when all the people had left, the mother and her daughter stayed to pray at the tomb. Lucy then fell asleep, and had a vision of holy Agatha, adorned with precious stones and surrounded by angels.

Agatha said, “My sister Lucy, virgin consecrated to God, why do you ask me for something that you yourself can do for your mother? Indeed your faith has already cured her!”

As seen above in a (crummy) photo I took in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, the two saints are sometimes depicted together. Friend and fellow-blogger Matt Alderman reflects this tradition with the inset of St. Agatha in his icon of St. Lucy.

Ah, a lovely tradition of saintly fellowship. Hopefully all of us one day will join them.

St. Lucy and her mother seek a cure from the tomb of St. Agnes; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
posted by Lauren, 11:06 PM | link | 0 comments

{Sunday, February 08, 2009  }

.:{St. Thomas Aquinas' Commentary on today's first reading}:.

[For short form, read only the portion in bold]

Since Eliphaz spoke before (5:17-27) to move Blessed Job from despair, he promised him earthly happiness if he would not reject the rebuke of the Lord. Here then, after Blessed Job demonstrated the rational causes of his sorrow, wants to further demonstrate that this aforementioned consolation of Eliphaz based on promising him the recovery of earthly happiness is unfitting. He first demonstrates this from the condition of the present life and then, later (v.5) from his own individual condition.

The opinions of men have differed about the condition of this present life. Some held that ultimate happiness was experienced in this life. The words of Eliphaz seem to follow this opinion. The ultimate end of man is in that place where he expects the final retribution for good or evil. So if man is rewarded by God for good deeds and punished for evil deeds in this life, as Eliphaz is eager to prove, it seems necessary to conclude that the ultimate end of man is in this life. But, Job intends to disprove this opinion and he wants to show that the present life of man does not have the ultimate end in it, but is compared to this end as motion is compared to rest and the journey to the destination. He therefore compares this state to those states of man which tend to some end, namely the state of soldiers who tend to victory in military campaigns. So he says, "Man's life on earth is combat," as if to say: The present life which we live on earth is not like a state of victory, but like the state of a military campaign. He also compares it to the state of a hireling, as so he adds, "and his day like the day of the hireling," i.e. the time of man living on earth. He compares the present life to these two states because of two things which threaten man in this present life. First, he must resist impediments and harmful things and on account of these he is compared to warfare. He must also do works useful for the end and on account of this he is compared to a hired man. From both images, one is given to understand that the present life is subject to divine providence. For soldiers fight under a general and hired men wait for their pay from an employer. Also, the falsity of the opinion which Eliphaz defended is plain enough in these examples. For it is clear that the general of the army does not spare the vigorous soldiers from the dangers or toils, but the whole nature of warfare demands at times that he exposes them to both very great dangers and tasks. After the victory has been won, the general honors those men more who proved more vigorous. In the same way, the father of a family entrusts the more difficult tasks to the better hired men, but on pay day he gives higher salaries to them. So divine providence does not dispose things so that the good are more freed from adversities and labors of the present life, but rewards them more at the end.

Therefore, since the whole position of Eliphaz is undermined by these arguments, Job intends to strengthen them and demonstrates them efficaciously from reason. For clearly, each thing rests when it attains its ultimate end. So once the human will has attained its ultimate end, it must rest in that and must not be moved to desire anything else. Our experience is contrary to this in the present life. For man always desires the future as though he were not happy with the things he has in the present. So clearly the ultimate end is not in this life, but this life is ordered to another end like warfare is ordered to victory and the hired man's day is ordered to his pay. Note however that what we have now is not sufficient in this present life, but desire tends to the future for two reasons. First because of the afflictions of the present life, and so he introduces the example of the slave desiring the shade, saying "Like the slave," worn out from the heat, "he sighs for the shade," which refreshes him. Second, from the defect of the perfect final good one does not possess here. So he uses the example of the hired man saying, "or the workman, for the end to his work." For the perfect good is the end of man. "So I have passed empty months," for I considered the past months passed empty for me, because I did not obtain final perfection in them. "and nights," i.e. when I should have been resting from my afflictions. "I have counted sleepless," i.e. I considered them sleepless because I was delayed in them from the attainment of my end.

He next explains how his months have been empty and his nights sleepless adding, "If I sleep," when it was time for sleeping at night, "I say, `When will I arise,'" longing for day. "And again," when day has come, "I wait for the evening," as he is always tending to the future in his desire. This desire is indeed the common experience of all men living on earth, but men feel it more or less in the measure in which they are affected by either sorrows or joys. For he who lives in joy, desires the future less; but he who lives in sorrow, desires it more. So Job passionately shows this desire for the future is in him as he continues, "I will be filled with pain until dark," for because of these pains, the present time is tedious for me and I desire the future more.

[Translated by Fr. Brian Mullady]
posted by Lauren, 9:49 AM | link | 0 comments