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‘… On the Wings of the Wind …’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

… he came, cherub-mounted, borne up on the wings of the wind….

Pslam 18:11

Sext

Dominica_in_Sexagesima

Et in Arcadia sumus.

by Valentine Green (c. 1770); Wellcome Library via The Public Domain Review

by Valentine Green (c. 1770); Wellcome Library
via The Public Domain Review

by Valentine Green (1769); Wellcome Library via The Public Domain Review

by Valentine Green (1769); Wellcome Library
via The Public Domain Review

 

from ‘Mystic, Comic, Everything’ — Chapter 1 of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Her Family, Her God, Her Message

bbro_sttherese_lg

 We are still at the dawn of the third great crisis of our civilization: it is no longer merely man confronted with his weakness (with the Greeks); no longer merely man confronted with his guilt (with Luther, at that tragic time for Europe, after the black plagues at the end of the Middle Ages); man today finds himself confronted with his solitude and with the desperate quest for a meaning to his life, confronted with the need to search for what would be an “authentic existence”, “true life”, which he fears never being able to enjoy. Among the innumerable witnesses that could be called to the stand in this interrogation, such as Rimbaud, Van Gogh, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, or Kundera, I have intentionally kept two cries, because they seem to express the question that was Thérèse’s own: “Here is my old anguish, right there in the hollow of my body, like a bad wound that every movement irritates; I know its name, it is the fear of eternal solitude. And I have the fear that there may not be any answer” (Camus).

I implored, I begged for a sign, I sent messages to the heavens: no response. The heavens do not even know my name. I wondered at every moment what I might be in the eyes of God. Now I knew the answer: Nothing. God does not see me, God does not know me, God does not hear me. You see this void over our heads? That is God. You see this hole in the earth? That is God. You see this opening in the door? That is God again. The silence is God. Absence is God. God is the solitude of men. [(Jean Paul Sartre, Le Diable et le bon Dieu, tableau 10, scene 4.)]

Thérèse was familiar with this anguish:

When I want to rest my heart fatigued by the darkness which surrounds it by the memory of the luminous country after which I aspire, my torment redoubles; it seems to me that the darkness, borrowing the voice of sinners, says mockingly to me: “You are dreaming about the light, about a fatherland embalmed in the sweetest perfumes; you are dreaming about the eternal possession of the Creator of all these marvels; you believe that one day you will walk out of this fog which surrounds you! Advance, advance; rejoice in death which will give you not what you hope for but a night still more profound, the night of nothingness.” (SS 213)

snip

I have experienced it; when I am feeling nothing, when I am INCAPABLE of praying, of practicing virtue, then is the moment for seeking opportunities, nothings, which please Jesus more than mastery of the world or even martyrdom suffered with generosity. For example, a smile, a friendly word, when I would want to say nothing, or put on a look of annoyance. (LT 143, GC 2:801)

To understand her secret as a warrior, we might go back to Nehru’s admission to Malraux: “I have three enemies: the Chinese, famine, and myself. But, of the three, the most difficult is myself.” Very quickly she learned that nothing can be done on the path of what for her was the true life without fighting against herself, against illusion. She, who, up to the end, had the childish fears of a little girl, would never fear the truth, never fear to “do the truth”, as Saint John says: whether about herself, her faults, her own limits, about her family, her community, her sisters, or one day about death itself. She did not fear that the truth would diminish her. Quite the contrary. It was never a malicious truth. For she found here the true way to be victorious: by disarming, by never resisting. Instead of sidestepping an issue, cheating, trying to justify herself, telling herself stories, she disarmed, and she disarmed from the very moment when the truth was at issue. Then she found something greater: a confidence that opened up freedom to her.

Her sister Céline, older than she, who entered Carmel six years after she did, reported that one day, in watching Thérèse live, she experienced a moment of discouragement and said to her: “Oh, when I think of all I have to acquire.” And Thérèse answered her at once: “Rather, how much you have to lose” (CSG 23).

— excerpted from ‘Mystic, Comic, Everything’, Chapter 1 of  Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Her Family, Her God, Her Message by Fr Bernard Bro, OP; posted on Ignatius Press’ Insight Scoop; link via Amy Welborn.

Annuntiatio Domini

Cell 3 of the Convent of San Marco by Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), 15th Century

Cell 3 of the Convent of San Marco
by Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), 15th Century

From the Office of Readings in today’s Liturgy of the Hours, an excerpt from a letter by Pope St Leo the Great:

To pay the debt of our sinful state, a nature that was incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer. Thus, in keeping with the healing that we needed, one and the same mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, was able to die in one nature, and unable to die in the other. [… ]

One and the same person – this must be said over and over again – is truly the Son of God and truly the son of man.

Sanctus Pater Noster Dominicus

Cell 7 of the Convent of San Marcoby Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), 15th Century

Cell 7 of the Convent of San Marco
by Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), 15th Century

Today is the feast of Saint Dominic de Guzman, founder of the Order of Preachers.

As previously noted in Korrektiv, Holy Father Dominic practiced ‘nine ways of prayer’, based on distinct gestures or attitudes of the body. The Nashville Dominicans have a superb illustrated outline.

Blessed Fra Angelico‘s fresco of the mocking of Christ (above) depicts Dominic off to the side, reading — but, it’s safe to suppose from the context, not just reading: In his Eighth Way of Prayer, Saint Dominic integrated the acts of prayer and reading. Dominic’s reading-prayer did not consist only in his meditation on the text, but also in his reverent handling of the book as a physical object, and in his engagement with the Divine Author as a presence in the room. The Nashville Dominicans quote Fr Simon Tugwell, OP’s description of the Eighth Way:

Sober and alert and anointed with a spirit of devotion which he had drawn from the words of God which had been sung in choir or during the meal, [Dominic] would settle himself down to read or pray, recollecting himself in himself and fixing himself in the presence of God. Sitting there quietly, he would open some book before him, arming himself first with the sign of the cross, and then he would read. And he would be moved in his mind as delightfully as if he heard the Lord speaking to him. […] It was as if he were arguing with a friend; at one moment he would appear to be feeling impatient, nodding his head energetically, then he would seem to be listening quietly, then you would see him disputing and struggling, and laughing and weeping all at once, fixing then lowering his gaze, then again speaking quietly and beating his breast. […] The man of God had a prophetic way of passing over quickly from reading to prayer and from meditation to contemplation.

When he was reading like this on his own, he used to venerate the book and bow to it and sometimes kiss it, particularly if it was a book of the gospels or if he was reading the words which Christ had spoken with his own lips. And sometimes he used to hide his face and turn it aside, or he would bury his face in his hands or hide it a little in his scapular. And then he would also become anxious and full of yearning, and he would also rise a little, respectfully, and bow as if he were thanking some very special person for favors received. Then, quite refreshed and at peace in himself, he would continue reading his book.

Happy, Happy, Happy Trinity Sunday

Sanctus Pius V

St_Pope_Pius_V.._From_the_earlist_Missal_.

Mother Church, in her wisdom, knew that the feast day of the Dominican Third Order’s patroness, St Catherine of Siena, on April 29, would leave you hungry for yet more examples of Dominican sanctity. Wherefore today we celebrate the memorial of the Dominican priest Michele Ghisleieri, who acceded to the Throne of Peter in 1566; reigned as Pius V until his death in 1572; and was canonized in 1712.

Here are three fitting tributes to this holy Pope:

First, from the Canons Regular of St John Cantius – An online tutorial on the Tridentine Mass, whose original texts and rubrics were first promulgated in the Roman Missal issued by St Pius V in 1570.

Second, from G.K. Chesterton, who needs no introduction here – A few mentions of St Pius V as ‘the pope’ in the poem ‘Lepanto’, since the eponymous battle took place during Pius V’s papacy. (See also: Our Lady of the Rosary.)

Third, from atheism.About.com – A concise biographical sketch:

A member of the Dominican order, Pius V worked hard to improve the position of the papacy. Internally, he cut expenditures and externally, he increased the power and effectiveness of the Inquistion and expanded the use of the Index of Forbidden Books. Heresy virtually disappeared from Italy and, for his efforts, he was canonized 150 years later.

‘Heresy virtually disappeared from Italy’! What a thrill this phrase must send through every Christian heart! (As for me, I am skeptical of the claim — but I want to believe!)

Sancta Catharina Senensis

Giovanni di Paolo, St Catherine of Siena Dictating her Dialogues

Giovanni di Paolo. St Catherine of Siena Dictating her Dialogues

Today is the memorial of St Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor, patroness of the Dominican Laity.

Here’s a roundup of relevant links.

The Catholic Encyclopedia article on St Catherine concludes,

The key-note to Catherine’s teaching is that man, whether in the cloister or in the world, must ever abide in the cell of self-knowledge, which is the stable in which the traveller through time to eternity must be born again.

‘… called Emmanuel.’

Armadio_degli_argenti,_annunciation

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

‘Sign you ask none, but sign the Lord will give you. Maid shall be with child, and shall bear a son, that shall be called Emmanuel.

Isaiah 7:14