Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Countless Rays of Heavenly Glory

We Are Wiser Than We Know
by Charles Mackay

 I. Thou, who in the midnight silence
 Lookèst to the orbs on high,
 Feeling humbled, yet elated,
 In the presence of the sky;
 Thou, who minglest with thy sadness
 Pride ecstatic, awe divine,
 That e'en thou canst trace their progress
 And the law by which they shine, --
Intuition shall uphold thee,
 E'en though Reason drag thee low;
 Lean on faith, look up rejoicing --
 We are wiser than we know. 

 II. Thou, who hearest plaintive music,
 Or sweet songs of other days;
 Heaven-revealing organs pealing,
 Or clear voices hymning praise,
 And wouldst weep, thou know'st not wherefore,
 Though thy soul is steeped in joy,
 And the world looks kindly on thee,
 And thy bliss hath no alloy, --
Weep, nor seek for consolation;--
 Let the heaven-sent droplets flow, 
They are hints of mighty secrets --
We are wiser than we know. 

 III. Thou, who in the noon-tide brightness
 Seest a shadow undefined;
 Hear'st a voice that indistinctly
 Whispers caution to thy mind:
 Thou, who hast a vague foreboding
 That a peril may be near,
 E'en when Nature smiles around thee,
 And thy Conscience holds thee clear,
 Trust the warning-look before thee --
Angels may the mirror show,
 Dimly still, but sent to guide thee --
We are wiser than we know. 

 IV. Countless chords of heavenly music,
 Struck ere earthly Time began,
 Vibrate in immortal concord
 Through the answering soul of man:
 Countless rays of heavenly glory
 Shine through spirit pent in clay --
On the wise men at their labours,
 On the children at their play.
 Man has gazed on heavenly secrets,
 Sunned himself in heavenly glow,
 Seen the glory, heard the music, --
We are wiser than we know.

Bonaventure for Lent XIII

Now no one despises the supreme Principle or its command in itself, but only because such a person either wants to acquire or fears to lose something other than God. This is why all actual sin may be traced back to these two roots, namely fear and love. They are the roots of evil deeds, even though they are not equally primary.

For all fear has its origin in love, since no one is afraid of losing something unless that person loves it.

[Bonaventure, Breviloquium 3.9.3-4, Monti, tr., Franciscan Institute Publications (St. Bonaventure, NY: 2005) p. 122.]

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Harp of Narekavank

 Today was the feast of St. Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church. He was born in the Kingdom of Vaspurakan, on the border between modern-day Turkey and Iran, around Lake Van, a very large salt lake. This area was one of the major cultural centers of medieval Armenia. He spent most of his life at the Monastery of Narek (Narekavank), which had one of the Armenian Church's major schools, where he taught theology.

From his Litany for the Church: 

 Treasure of profound goodness, desired, discovered, and concealed, absolute fullness that gathers everyone, never wanting, hardly differing from heaven above: Your altar extends beyond its space--into the inaccessible ether, your boundaries are marked by the fiery hosts beyond the chasm; immeasurable image of compassionate care, glorious throne of the King on high, beyond imagination. Please accept our prayers of petition with befitting incense offered in this place, the holy church, we plead. 

 [Gregory of Narek, The Festal Works of St. Gregory of Narek, Terian, tr. Liturgical Press (Collegeville, MN: 2016) p. 93.]

Links of Note

 * Eveline Groot, Public Opinion and Political Passions in the Work of Germaine de Staël (PDF)

* Terry Eagleton, Seeds of What Ought to Be, at "London Review of Books", reviews Richard Bourke's Hegel's World Revolutions.

* Qiong Wu, Alethic modality is deontic (PDF)

* Paul Shrimpton, 'Conscience Before Conformity': What the White Rose Students Can Teach Today's Young Scholars, at "National Catholic Register

* Stephen Harrop, Wisdom and Beatitude in Spinoza and Qoheleth (PDF)

* William Briggs, David Deutsch Rediscovers the Worst Argument in the World. ('The Worst Argument in the World' is a name given by David Stove to arguments of the general form, "We can only know things in such-and-such relation to us, therefore we cannot know things in themselves.")

* Ian Williams Goddard, A logic and semantics for imperatives (PDF)

* Richard V. Reeves, Why Some Are More Equal Than Others, reviews Darrin M. McMahon's Equality: The History of an Elusive Idea, at "Literary Review".

* Alexandre Billon, Why Are We Certain that We Exist? (PDF). This yields an account that is at least in the general vicinity of Malebranche's.

* Damion Searls, Translating Philosophy: The Case of Wittgenstein's Tractatus, at "Words Without Borders" 

* Jonathan Ichikawa, A Euthyphro Problem for Consent Theory (PDF)

* Abigail Tulenko, Folklore is philosophy, at "Aeon"

Bonaventure for Lent XII

  Concerning the origin of the capital sins, this is a brief statement of what we must hold: that actual sins have one source, two roots, three incentives, and a seven-fold head [caput] or 'capital' sin. The one source is pride, of which it is written: pride is the beginning of all sin. The two roots are a fear that badly restrains and a love that badly desires. The three incentives are the three things this world contains: the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life. Finally, the seven-fold head is: pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, gluttony. and lust. Among these, the first five are sins of the spirit, the last two, sins of the flesh.

[Bonaventure, Breviloquium 3.9.1, Monti, tr., Franciscan Institute Publications (St. Bonaventure, NY: 2005) p. 121.]

Monday, February 26, 2024

Bonaventure for Lent XI

 Enter into yourself, therefore, and observe that your soul loves itself most fervently; that it could not love itself unless it knew itself, nor know itself unless it summoned itself to conscious memory, for we do not grasp a thing with our understanding unless it is present in our memory. Hence you can observe, not with the bodily eye, but with the eye of the mind, that your soul has three powers. Consider, therefore, the activities of these three powers and their relationships, and you will be able to see God through yourself as through an image; and this indeed is to see God through a mirror in an obscure manner.

[Bonaventure, Itinerarium Mentis in Deum 3, Boehner, tr. The Franciscan Institute (St. Bonaventure, NY: 1956) 63.]

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Fortnightly Book, February 25

 The next fortnightly book is Sigrid Undset's Saga of Saints. I don't know much about it; it seems to have been published in 1934. It looks at the history of Norway through the stories of the Norwegian saints. The chapter titles are:

1. The Coming of Christianity to Norway
2. Saint Sunniva and the Selje Men
3. Saint Olav, Norway's King to All Eternity
4. Saint Hallvard
5. Saint Magnus, Earl of the Orkney Islands
6. Saint Eystein, Archbishop of Nidaros
7. Saint Thorfinn, Bishop of Hamar
8. Father Karl Schilling (Barnabite)

Karl Schilling is the only post-Reformation Norwegian in the list. Indeed, I wonder if Schilling, now Venerable Karl Schilling, might have been one of the purposes of the book; his cause was only officially opened in 1946, so Undset may have in part wanted to give his story a wider audience, putting it in a broader context. In any case, it should be an interesting Lenten read.