Thursday, June 25, 2009
Franciscan tertiary. Friend of Raymond of Penyafort. Worked to convert Muslims in the Iberian peninsula, and then in north Africa. He tried to interest the Vatican and assorted European royal courts in this work, travelling throughout Italy, France, England and Germany in search of support, but received little help. Learned Arabic, founded a school for Arabic study in 1276 on Majorca, and encouraged the study of Arab language and culture. Travelled three times to Tunis to preach to the Muslims, but was forcibly deported.
He wrote over 300 works in Latin, Arabic and Catalan on theology, logic, philosophy; wrote fiction and poetry. Known as a alchemist, but had no training in occult arts, and invented his own Christian-based concepts to try to explain the alchemical mysteries. Reputed to have solved the "lead-into-gold" mystery; legend says he worked on it to finance missionary work. Had a small but devoted band of followers known as Lullists who continued their work after his death, though some of them drifted away from the Church in search of alchemical knowledge. His work in this area has been the source of controversy for centuries, and non-Christian occult groups have seen him as a "master" or whatever term they use. Born c. 1234 at Palma, Majorca Died c. 1315; some writers indicate he was martyred by stoning in Tunis, but there is no evidence for it; may have died of natural causes during the return ocean voyage from Tunis; buried at the church of San Francisco, Palma, Mallorca, Spain Beatified
25 February 1750 by Pope Benedict XIV (cultus confirmed); 1847 by Pope Pius IX Canonized pending.
Ramon Lull's Ars Magna - 1274 AD
Possibly the first person in the history of formal logic to use a mechanical device to generate (so-called) logical proofs was the Spanish theologian Ramond Lull . In 1274, Lull climbed Mount Randa in Majorca in search of spiritual sustenance. After fasting and contemplating his navel for several days, Lull experienced what he believed to be a divine revelation, and he promptly rushed back down the mountain to pen his famous Ars Magna. This magnum opus described a number of eccentric logical techniques, but the one of which Lull was most proud (and which received the most attention) was based on concentric disks of card, wood, or metal mounted on a central axis. Ramon Lull's disks.
Lull's idea was that each disk should contain a number of different words or symbols, which could be combined in different ways by rotating the disks. In the case of our somewhat jocular example shown above, we can achieve 4 x 4 x 4 = 64 different sentences along the lines of "I love mice," "You hate cats," and "They eat frogs." a Of course, Lull had a more serious purpose in mind, which was to prove the truth of everything contained within the Bible. For example, he used his disks to show that "God's mercy is infinite," "God's mercy is mysterious," "God's mercy is just," and so forth. Lull's devices were far more complex than our simple example might suggest, with several containing as many as sixteen different words or symbols on each disk. His masterpiece was the figura universalis, which consisted of fourteen concentric circles
(the mind boggles at the range of combinations that could be generated by this device). Strange as it may seem to us, Lull's followers (called Lullists) flourished in the late middle ages and the renaissance, and Lullism spread far and wide across Europe.
Why is all of this of interest to us? Well by some strange quirk of fate, Lull's work fired the imagination of several characters with whom we are already familiar, such as Gottfried von Leibniz who invented the mechanical calculator called the Step Reckoner.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The birth of Saint John was foretold by Saint Gabriel, Archangel of the Lord, to his father, Zachary, who was offering incense in the Temple. The son of Zachary was to be the prophesied Messenger, Zachary was told, whose mission would prepare the way for Christ. Before he was born into the world John had already begun to live for the Incarnate God; even in the womb he recognized the presence of Jesus and of Mary, and leaped with joy at the glad coming of the Son of man. Before Christ’s public life began, a divine impulse sent Saint John into the desert; there, with locusts for his food and wearing haircloth, in silence and in prayer, he chastened his soul. In his youth he remained hidden, because He for whom he waited was also hidden.
Then, as crowds broke in upon his solitude, he warned them to flee from the wrath to come, and gave them the baptism of penance, while they confessed their sins. At last there stood in the crowd One whom Saint John did not know, until a voice within told him that it was his Lord. He affirmed: “I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He upon whom thou wilt see the Spirit descending and abiding, He it is who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ ” With the baptism of Saint John, Christ began His voluntary abasement for the sins of His people; and Saint John indeed saw the Holy Ghost descend, under the visible form of a dove, indicating in the humble Jesus of Nazareth the divine Perfection of the peaceable Eternal King and High Priest. Then the Saint’s work was done. He had but to point his own disciples to the Lamb, he had only to decrease as Christ increased. He saw all men leave him and go after Christ. “I told you,” he said, “that I am not the Christ. The friend of the Bridegroom rejoices hearing the Bridegroom’s voice. This, my joy, is fulfilled.”
Saint John was cast into the fortress of Herod on the east coast of the Dead Sea by the tyrant whose crimes he had rebuked; he would remain there until beheaded at the will of a girl and her cruel mother. During this time of imprisonment, some of his disciples visited him. Saint John did not speak to them of himself, but sent them to Christ, that they might witness His miracles and hear His doctrine, proofs of His mission. After Saint John’s death, the Eternal Truth pronounced the panegyric of the Saint who had lived and breathed for Him alone: “Verily I say unto you, among those born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist.”
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
October 13, 1973
"My dear daughter, listen well to what I have to say to you. You will inform your superior."
After a short silence:
"As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests."
"The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres...churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.
"The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them"
"With courage, speak to your superior. He will know how to encourage each one of you to pray and to accomplish works of reparation."
"It is Bishop Ito, who directs your community."
And She smiled and then said:
"You have still something to ask? Today is the last time that I will speak to you in living voice. From now on you will obey the one sent to you and your superior."
"Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved."
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sir Thomas More was born in London on February 7, 1478 and received martyrdom on July 6, 1535 because he would not recognize Henry VIII as head of the so-called Anglican Church. He refused to give written approval to the Parliamentary Act of Succession by which the English Sovereign pretended to be superior to the See of Rome, that is, to the Pope.
In his defense Sir Thomas stated that such an act was not valid because it went against the foundation of Christendom, as well as the law of England itself, the Magna Carta. It also violated the solemn oath of allegiance to the Church and Rome that.all Christian Kings pronounced at their coronation. He argued that by refusing obedience to the Pope, the Kingdom of England was like a child refusing obedience to his natural father.
For two years, he remained imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he wrote the book Dialogue of the Comfort against Tribulation. In this book, two Hungarians, an uncle and his nephew, discuss the problem of suffering and death under the threat of an imminent invasion of the country by the Turks. He refers metaphorically to Henry VIII as the Great Turk, and the Turkish invasion as the threat of Protestantism against the unity of the Catholic Faith.
In its last chapter he has the uncle speak these words:
"How many Romans, how many noble hearts of other sundry countries, have willingly given their own lives and suffered great deadly pains and very painful deaths for their countries, to win by their death only the reward of worldly renown and fame! And should we, then, shrink to suffer as much for eternal honor in Heaven and everlasting glory? The Devil also has some heretics so obstinate that they wittingly endure painful death for vain glory. And is it not then more than shameful that Christ shall see His Catholics forsake His faith rather than suffer the same for Heaven and true glory?
If we had the fifteenth part of the love for Christ that He both had and has for us, all the pain of this Turk's persecution could not keep us from Him, but there would be at this day as many martyrs here in Hungary as there have been before in other countries of old.
And I doubt not but that, if the Turk stood even here with his whole army about him; and if every one of them were ready at hand with all the terrible torments that they could imagine, and were setting their torments to us unless we would forsake the faith; and if to the increase of our terror, they fell at us all at once in a shout, with trumpets, tabrets, and timbrels all blown, and all their guns going off making a fearful noise; if then, on the other hand, the ground should suddenly quake and rive at wain, and the Devils should rise out of Hell and show themselves in such ugly shape as damned wretches shall see them; and if, with that hideous howling that those hell-hounds should screech, they should lay Hell open on every side round about our feet, so that as we stood we should look down into that pestilent pit and see the swarm of poor souls in the terrible torments there - we would wax so afraid of the sight that we should scantly remember that we saw the Turk's host.
And in good faith, for all that, yet think I further this: If there might then appear the great glory of God, the Trinity in His high marvelous majesty, our Savior in His glorious manhood sitting on the throne, with His Immaculate Mother and all that glorious company, calling us there unto them; and if our way should yet lie through a marvelous, painful death before we could come to them - upon the sight, I say, of that glory, I daresay there would be no man who once would shrink at death, but every man would run on toward them in all that ever he could, though there lay by the way, to kill us for malice, both all the Turk's tormentors and all the Devils.
And therefore, nephew, let us well consider these things, and let us have sure hope in the help of God. "
Comments of Prof. Plinio:
These beautiful considerations by St. Thomas More call to mind the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. They have a similar method, the same reasonable tone, and the frequent use of contrast. St. Ignatius draws on contrast a great deal to move souls.
For example, St. Thomas More describes the Devil who wants our souls to be lost, and then he shows God in all His glory Who wants to save us. He seeks to move the soul not only by the consideration of perdition, but perdition in contrast with salvation. He touches the soul in its deepest points to incline it toward a good decision. Contrast is an excellent psychological tool to move souls.
He presents the dreadful situation of a man facing persecution and martyrdom. In such situation, he vacillates. To keep him from wavering, St. Thomas More presents an argument that ends with this eminently Ignatian metaphor: There are the armies of the Turk ' Henry VIII ' that will take his life. But behind the Turk's armies are the armies of the Devil, filled with demons in their most horrendous forms. Therefore, the man thinks: "If I do not vanquish this fear I have of the Turk, then I will be taken by the Devil, and I will become a devil like those hideous creatures. The human body can die, but the soul will live forever."
So, to avoid being eternally tormented, the man agrees to a transitory suffering at the hands of the Turk. He is disposed to resist the Turk's army, and to die doing so.
This is not a theoretical consideration. It is one that St. Thomas More made because it applied to his case. He knew that he would suffer martyrdom, that he would have a violent death, and that he was describing his own agony. He remained two years in prison: it was a long, slow anguish. Then, after he learned the date of his execution, he suffered some days of intense distress. Finally, when he climbed the scaffold on Tower Hill and the executioner lowered the axe to his neck, he had some minutes, hardly more than ten, before his soul separated from his body. It was done. He went to Heaven. What was all that suffering compared to being damned for all eternity?
If he had chosen the Devil's army, which meant apostasy from the Catholic Faith, he would be like a hideous devil, filled with contradictions, unhappiness and afflictions, tormented by his own conscience and by other dammed souls for all eternity. That is to say, considering only the realm of torments, the ones he chose were much less than the ones he would have had to suffer if he had apostatized. He decided to face the executioner.
Then, as a contrast to these torments, St. Thomas portrays a vision full of charm. Suddenly, above those infernal hosts, Our Lady appears, seated at the right of her Divine Son, accompanied by all the Celestial Court. They look at that man threatened with martyrdom with warmth and tenderness, with that thirst for souls that Our Lord manifested at the height of the Cross, when he said: 'I thirst.' Our Lord wants the soul of that martyr to be with Him for all eternity. He wants to share His joy with him. Toward this end, He asks that soul for an act of sublime fidelity. This is the immense recompense awaiting the martyr. An act of pure love added to an act of holy fear leads the soul to choose martyrdom.
This is the argument of St. Thomas More based on contrasts.
Is this consideration only valid for martyrdom? No, it is also valid for similar situations. The life of fidelity of a Catholic is a long martyrdom. For a serious, upright man who seeks to serve Our Lady in everything, life is an extended martyrdom. He must make renunciations and sacrifices; he has to make violence against himself. This is the cross each one of us has to carry and the martyrdom we have to face.
Thus, we should apply to this parallel martyrdom the same advice that St. Thomas More offers for the real one.
Sometimes living a life of virtue becomes tedious. In those moments when we can be tempted to abandon our vocation, it is salutary to remember the two armies of St. Thomas. At other times, it is the small pleasure of a forbidden gaze, to look just for a moment at that immoral magazine or that badly dressed person. It is wrong; we should avoid it. The bad gaze often propitiates a bad thought, and then a bad action. Again, we are choosing between the two armies.
At still other times, we can consent to an act of pride, overestimating our qualities, declaring ourselves autonomous when we should obey. A concession in this realm cools the enthusiasm for our vocation, which in turn weakens the strength we need to persevere.
We are called to make a constant fight at all times and in all things against the Revolution and its tendencies even as it presents itself appealingly, inviting us to adhere to it. This is in many senses more than martyrdom. The latter is much harder, but it ends quickly, while the former goes on forever and ever.
So, for all such situations, the argument of St. Thomas More must be applied. We are choosing between an eternity of happiness with Our Lady, Our Lord and the Celestial Court or an eternity of torment and blaspheming in Hell.
It is good to note here that to save ourselves, we should be motivated not only by fear, but also by the love of God. It is not enough to be moved by fear. We should also think about the graces we have received in our counter-revolutionary vocation, about the recompense prepared in Heaven. We are called to be completely orthodox, having an acutely clear notion of what is right or wrong and a strong Catholic sense that allows us to understand the Church with a great lucidity and to love the Catholic Religion with a special love. Since God gave us these gifts, He prepares a place for our souls in Heaven where we will have a greater intimacy with Him than other souls to whom He gave less. Therefore, we should expect and love this reward He prepared for us. It will be a particularly clear beatific vision.
Since this Court has a King, it also has a Queen. And we will also have an intimacy with Our Lady, Queen of the Universe, proportionate to the devotion we had for her in this life. We are slaves of Our Lady following the method of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort, that is, we gave everything to her, for her service and glory, therefore, we should expect that in her, with her and through her, we will receive our reward in Heaven.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Once upon a time, there was a young man torn by a critical conflict of affections. He loved his charming spouse with all his soul. Yet at the same time, he had profound affection and respect for his mother. However, relations between mother in-law and daughter in-law were tense. The enchanting but evil young woman, out of jealousy, conceived an unfounded hatred for the aged and venerable matron.
At a certain moment, the young woman literally put her husband against the wall: either he kill his mother and bring her heart to the wife, or she would abandon him. After a thousand torments, the young man succumbed. He killed her who had given him his life. He tore her heart from her breast, wrapped it in a cloth and headed back to his house. Along the way, he tripped. Suddenly, he heard a voice, full of concern and affection, coming from his mother's heart asking him, "Did you hurt yourself, my son?"
With this allegory, the author, whom I am told is Emile Faguet, wished to emphasize the most sublime and touching aspects of maternal love: complete selflessness, entirely disinterested concern, and unlimited capacity to forgive. A mother loves her son when he is good. She does not, however, love him only because he is good. She loves him even when he is bad. She loves him simply because he is her son, flesh of her flesh, blood of her blood. She loves him generously even when he does not return her love. She loves him in the crib, when he is still unable to merit the love that is lavished on him. Whether he rises to the splendors of happiness or glory, or falls into the abysses of misfortune or even of crime, she loves him as long as she lives. He is her son and that is all that needs to be said.
This love, profoundly in accordance with the dictates of reason, is also present in parents. In its instinctive aspect, it is akin to the love for their offspring that Providence instilled, found even in animals.
To fathom the sublimity of this instinct, it is enough to say that the Son of God Himself compared His most tender, pure, sovereign, august, sacral and self sacrificing love for man (the greatest that ever existed on earth) to animal instinct.
Shortly before suffering and dying, Jesus wept over Jerusalem, saying: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem,··· how often would I have gathered togther thy children as the hen doth gather her chicks under her wings, but thou wouldst not!" (Matt 23:37)
Without this love, there is neither fatherhood nor motherhood worthy of the name. Therefore, he who denies this love in its sublime gratuity denies the family. This love is what leads parents to love their children more than others in accordance with the Law of God and to earnestly desire for them better breeding, better education, more stable life and true ascent in the scale of all values, including their social standing.
For this end, parents work, struggle, and save. Their instinct, reason, and the dictates of the Faith itself lead them to this. It is natural for them to desire to accumulate an inheritance so they can pass it on to their children. To deny the legitimacy of this desire is to affirm that a father is like a stranger to his own child. It is to disintegrate the family.
Inheritance is the rendezvous of family and property. It is not only of family and property but of tradition, as well. Indeed, the most precious of the forms of inheritance is not money. In fact, it is a common observation that heredity sets certain facial and psychological features that constitute a link between the generations in a family line be it noble or plebeian. Thus, in a certain way, the ancestors survive and continue in their descendants.
A family, conscious of its own peculiarities, must distill, in the course of generations, its own style of manners and domestic life, as well as a style of public action in which the original wealth of its characteristics may develop so that they can reach their most legitimate and authentic expression. This aim, achieved in the course of decades and centuries, is tradition. A family either develops its own tradition as a school of being, acting, progressing and serving one's country and Christendom, or it runs the risk of not infrequently generating maladjusted individuals who do not know who they are and who cannot stably and logically fit into any social group. What good does it do to receive a rich matterial inheritance from one's parents if one does not receive from them, at least in a seminal state, as in the case of a new family tradition, a moral and cultural patrimony? By tradition, of course,we mean not a stagnant past but rather the life that a seed receives from the fruit containing it. We mean a capacity to germinate in its turn and produce something new that is not opposed to the old but rather the harmonious development and enrichment of it. From this standpoint, tradition melds harmoniously with family and property in the formation of the family heritage and continuity.
This is a principle of common sense. That is why we see cases where even the most democratic countries welcome tradition. There is something hereditary about gratitude. It leads us to do for the descendants of our benefactors, even after they have passed away, what they would ask us to do. The State, just as the individual, is subject to this law.
It would be a flagrant contradiction for a country to keep a pen, the glasses, or even the slippers of a great benefactor in a museum as a sign of gratitude, but relegate his descendants to indifference and abandonment. Are not his descendants much more than his slippers?
Hence comes the consideration that good sense gives to the descendants of great men, even though they may be ordinary citizens. That is why, for example, all the descendants of Lafayette, the French military officer who fought for U.S. independence, enjoy the honors of American citizenship, regardless of their country of birth. This same principle also gave rise to one of the most beautiful historic moments of the Spanish Civil War. The Communists had captured the Duke of Veraguas, the last descendant of Christopher Columbus, and were going to kill him. All the republics of the Americas united to ask clemency for him. They could not look on indifferently at the extinction of the lineage of the heroic discoverer.
These are the logical consequences of the existence of the family and its reflections in tradition and in property.
Are they unjust and hateful privileges? No. As long as the principle that heredity does not justify crime nor prevent the rise of new values, it is simply a matter of justice -and of the best kind.