Saturday, May 23, 2015

Marshall Terry, Tom Northway


Opening Passage:

When he awoke, a miraculous new dawn was just beginning to come up over the glazed white land and play and dance at his uncurtained window.He lay very still, for a long moment savoring the light, feeling through him the wonder of it. Once asleep, he had slept long and hard. Overslept, like an old fool.

Summary: Tom Northway, living alone on his Ohio farm with his dogs and with the help of his Amish neighbors, wakes up on his ninetieth birthday. It will be an eventful day, and the reader follows him through it. A worry throughout is that his son Ben is coming; Tom expects that Ben will find some way to force him off the farm where he has lived so much of his life.

There is not much story to pack into such a short time, and although almost the whole book is Tom reminiscing about his life, we don't really get a complete sense of that story, either. But the book, as the title might suggest, excels at character study, and that is perhaps the best way of thinking about the story. The Kirkus review for the book was surprisingly critical when it came out:

Marshall Terry (Old Liberty -- 1961) sets down in a low key, with consistency and constancy that does not reach for effects, a simple, modest life. One is left with the sense that perhaps it has been a little too simple to hold the reader's attentiveness.

I'm not sure that this is quite so, although it's easy enough to see why the reviewer might say this. The primary difficulty with the book is that it in some ways is very much like being stuck in a room with a voluble ninety-year-old rambling about his life for 186 pages. But I think this is an analogy that also shows the other side. Such a ramble is not uninteresting in itself; the difficulty with it is that it never quite gets to the point of explicitly binding it all together in a tight bundle -- the linking idea that, on being seen, would suddenly make it obvious that the associations between these different stories are rational is never quite stated, or the key event that would organize everything else into a meaningful whole is never quite reached. It's in trying to capture the whole that we are lost. The details may nonetheless be quite interesting -- and, again, there often is a real logic to the whole thing, that just needs to be sussed out by patience and thought. Tom Northway is an engaging enough character in his own right, and the book, while perhaps a little long for what it is doing, is nonetheless not interminable. You're really just sitting down to get to know Tom; and getting to know someone is not too simple to hold your attention -- it's a considerable part of what your attention seems to exist for in the first place. But it also takes an interest in getting to know Tom in the first place, and a little work and endurance actually to get to know him.

Favorite Passage:

He put a new sheet in the Oliver and began a letter to Ben.

Dear Ben,
You are a damn fool.

He looked at that. Then he wrote:

I love you very much.
Your father,
Thomas Northway (p. 160)

Recommendation: It takes a taste for characters over story, but it was enjoyable, and can be recommended for those who have it.


Quotations are from Marshall Terry, Tom Northway, Harcourt, Brace, & World, Inc. (New York: 1968).

Sui Juris Churches XIV: The Ethiopian Catholic Church

(on sui juris churches generally)

Liturgical Family: Alexandrian

Primary Liturgical Language: Ge'ez

Juridical Status: Metropolitan

Approximate Population: Between 200,000 and 400,000.

Brief History: Christianity in Ethiopia is very old, as witnessed by the story of the Ethiopian eunuch in the book of Acts, and beginning in the fourth century, when under the influence of St. Frumentius of Tyre, Emperor Ezana converted, the nation became an officially Christian nation. A large number of Ethiopian bishops, however, rejected the Council of Chalcedon, and for much of its history Ethiopia was essentially Coptic nation in its religious life, although they had different customs and used a different language from the Copts in Egypt.

In the late medieval period, however, Ethiopia came into contact with the West again, through the Portuguese, and tentative steps were taken by the West to reinstate communion. Most of these came to nothing, but Ethiopia was in a state of serious peril from the expansion of Islam, and in the sixteenth century, the Ethiopian Empire and the Adal Sultanate (roughly modern-day Somalia) came into direct and active conflict, with the Sultanate making massive gains in Abyssinian territory. Ethiopia appealed to the Portuguese for help, and the Portuguese came through with massive naval and arms support, turning an inevitable defeat into an Ethiopian victory. But the war left the Empire as well as the Sultanate in a weak and vulnerable state, and thus Ethiopia still depended heavily on the assistance of the Portuguese. This led to increased exposure to Western missionaries.

The missionary activity reached its pinnacle in 1622 when the Emperor Susenyos became Catholic; Rome appointed a Jesuit, Afonso Mendes, to be Patriarch of Ethiopia and Catholicism became the official religion of the Empire. But Mendes and Susenyos acted with a very heavy hand, creating a strong popular reaction to their new reforms, and the Emperor's son, Fasilides, took the side of the populace. When Fasilides took the throne, he began to restrict Catholic activity in his realm, and the Patriarch and a number of other foreign priests were exiled from the country. The union was broken, and for over two centuries the Ethiopians refused to allow Catholic missionaries into the country. These restrictions loosened, very slightly, in the 1830s, so that in 1839 the Apostolic Prefecture of Abyssinia was established and St. Justin de Jacobis began slowly to rebuild the Catholic Church in Ethiopia. One of the things he did was to require priests to celebrate in the Ethiopian Rite. When Emperor Menelik II took the throne, among his many modernizing reforms was to remove the restrictions on Catholic missions, and slow growth continued until the conquest of Ethiopia by Italy in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, after which missionary activity increased, and the number of Latin Rite churches grew.

At the end of World War II, foreigners were expelled, however. This meant that there were a large number of Ethiopian Catholics of Latin Rite with no priests. The duties had to be taken over by Ethiopian priests who had kept their rite on conversion. To handle this complication, the church in Ethiopia was organized into an Apostolic Exarchate in 1951, and Addis Ababa was raised to the status of a Metropolitan see in 1961. There have since developed minor Latin Rite jurisdictions in Ethiopia, but it is still the case that the primary Catholic hierarchy in Ethiopia is Ethiopian Rite.

Notable Monuments: The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Addis Ababa; the church of Santo Stefano degli Abissini in Vatican City, which is the oldest extant church in Vatican City and the national church of Ethiopia in the diocese of Rome.

Notable Saints: St. Justin de Jacobis (July 31); St. Frumentius (October 27); St. Kaleb Elesbaan of Axum (October 27). (It is perhaps worth noting that St. Kaleb, who has been in the Roman Martyrology since the 16th century, lived during a period in which Ethiopia was not in communion with Rome.) There are also a number of beatified Ethiopians, such as Bl. Ghebre Michael, who may eventually end up on the general calendar.

Extent of Official Jurisdiction: Archeparchy of Addis Ababa and eparchies in Adigrat, Endibir, and Bahir Dar-Dessie. ( (Sphere of influence always extends beyond the official jurisdiction due to members of the church living outside of any official jurisdiction of the church.)

Online Sources and Resources:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hanique, Part II

When I returned home I continued to be haunted by the events at the conference; so I did what any academic would do under such circumstances. I went to the library and began wading through books.

For days I researched fruitlessly, poring over tome after tome in a futile attempt to find traces of this Blessed Catharine of Hanique. I did find three small bits of evidence in an author named Daniel Livingston Montgomery. The first was a fragment from a Latin poem (author, unidentified; date, unidentified; provenance, the margin of an unidentified manuscript) that mentioned the phrase, radix Hanicae. The second was the identification of Catharine of Hanique's feast-day as May 9. The third was the attribution to her of the following statement:

En mathématique on ne doit regarder que le principe, en morale que la conséquence. L'une est une vérité simple, l' autre une vérité complexe.

But, as I am sure you can see, it was all nothing. The passage is not from Catharine of Hanique at all; it is from Chateaubriand. The ninth of May is the holiday of St. Catharine of Bologna, and no liturgical calendar, whether Roman, Ruthenian, Coptic, or Syrian, gives any day at all for Catharine of Hanique. I know nothing further about the Latin phrase; even assuming it is not mere fiction, I have no real context within which to place it. Three minor bits of evidence, three dead ends.

I did, however, make an interesting discovery in passing: none of the liturgical calendars I had consulted mentioned the feast-day of any St. Catharine of Boulagnon, either. The day I had usually heard given was the solemnity of another St. Catharine entirely, St. Catharine of Alexandria.

Sitting back, I puzzled over this new and unexpected problem. Who was this Catharine who kept stealing what belonged to other Catharines? And how had such an obvious error such as that of her feast-day gone unnoticed for so long?

I pondered the question for a quarter of an hour, then decided to take a walk in the quad. I passed the spiky, nondescript bushes outside by the steps, then walked past a statue -- as it happens, it was a statue of Catharine of Bologna, with the motto inscribed below it, "He has favored". I wandered around on the manicured grass for a bit, ignoring the "Do not walk on grass" signs, then returned to my office to ponder the question further. Alas, I had almost no time to think, because I was interrupted by the arrival of two of the Dean's thugs. I recognized them as a professor of biology and a professor of mathematics.

"Well, Dan," said the professor of mathematics, "it's time for your appointment."

"I am busy," I replied.

"Now, Dan," said the professor of biology, "let's not do this the hard way."

Sighing, I rose, and, flanked by the Dean's minions, walked to the Dean's office.

When I entered, the short, arid-looking man who was the Dean rose and said, "Good morning, Dan. I trust you are feeling well today."

to be continued

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hanique, Part I

This is an old short story draft that I'm touching up a bit and completing.

It began, as all good adventures must, at an academic conference in the south of France. The conference was called "Saint Catharine of Boulagnon: Identity and Fragmentation in Transnational Memory", and I had attended to present my paper, "Misattribution of Identity: The Case of Catharine of Bourdeaux", which (of course) discussed the common conflation in the legends of Saint Catharine of Boulagnon and Catharine of Bordeaux. Catharine of Bordeaux, of course, was much later, and, far from being a mystic visionary, she was a merchant's wife around whom a minor folktale had developed about three pigs on a boat. The conflation was perhaps not unnatural. There are similarities between the two lives. Further, nobody knows where 'Boulagnon' is located. Indeed, the common view of the scholarship (but it is really just an educated guess) is that 'Boulagnon' is a textual corruption for some other name; which other name is a matter of considerable dispute.

After I had given my paper at the conference, which was politely received although not, if the questions were any indication, correctly understood, I noticed an earnest young man dogging my steps. He was dressed all in black, rather like a valet, looking odd and out of place in this conference of staid and stuffy academics. He seems, however, to have been one of the presenters, and well known to several others attending the conference. I did not quite catch his name (it sounded vaguely like Dr. Personne, which I doubt is right); but I believe he delivered a paper on the confusion of identities between Saint Catharine of Boulagnon and another Catharine, Catharine of Hanique. I did not attend that paper, because I was eating brunch at the time, but I think he was the one who delivered it based on some comments he made. When I had tired a bit of idle conversation and had moved away from the main mass of chattering academics, he urgently beckoned for me to come with him into a quiet, empty side-room.

"I enjoyed your paper," he said. "I think you are the only one here who could appreciate this as it should be appreciated." He took a small box out of his satchel, and, opening it, carefully produced a book of exquisite make, an incunabulum which had been carefully illuminated to look as if it had been hand-produced. It was small and leather-bound, fitting comfortably into the hand; the spine was about an inch-and-a-half thick. I was not familiar with the typography of the Latin script, but it strongly reminded me of fifteenth-century English print; in particular, a late fifteenth-century edition of Christine de Pisan's The Fayte of Armes and Chyvalrye.

"What is it?" I asked.

"It is a family heirloom," he said. "This book appears to be the only remaining copy of the Vision of Two Souls, by Catharine of Hanique."

"Catharine of Hanique?"

"Yes. The Blessed Catharine of Hanique was the stepsister of Saint Catharine of Boulagnon, or so she claims. They had the same father, but different mothers. The two are often conflated; all the achievements of Catharine of Hanique are attributed to Catharine of Boulagnon. It has been one of the foremost obstacles to her canonization. While I am not Catholic myself, my family had a long history of advocating her cause, which is how this came into my hands."

"It seems like a priceless discovery," I said neutrally, in the useful tone scholars use when talking to people on subjects about which they know nothing, the one that manages not to convey that they know nothing about it.

"Indeed. Not only is it the primary evidence for the distinction of Catharine of Hanique from Catharine of Boulagnon, there is reason to believe it was printed in 1441 by Janszoon Koster, which would make it one of the earliest printed books."

I was naturally very skeptical of such a claim, since it did not seem likely that anyone reasonable would carry a book that significant in a box in a satchel. It would be unprofessional. But I did not have time to express my skepticism because, as the man held the book out to me to show an exquisitely illuminated capital, a man in a mask rushed out of a dark adjoining room, grabbed the book, and sped away.

Without thinking, I ran after the thief. Across the lobby, out the door, and across the field we ran. Although he was fast, and had the headstart that surprise had given him, I was catching up to him. Alas, I could not catch him; for in the middle of the field was a black helicopter. He jumped in and it rose into the air, carrying away the priceless book by Catharine of Hanique.

I returned to report the sad matter to the earnest young man. "Ah," he said sadly, "they have taken it to Hanique." And he would say no more. I began to be somewhat suspicious.

to be continued

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Music on My Mind

Topi Saha, "Nebraska".

The Wild Heart of Truth Unwon

Ballade of a Historical Sceptic
by G. K. Chesterton

I can't keep histories in my hat,
I vow that there is truth in none;
I vow each author, bright or flat,
Is lying like a Rescued Nun;
Lord Mayors of London, one by one,
Have portraits in the "Daily Mail";
I only trust Dick Whittington
Because it is a fairy-tale.

I don't believe our sires begat...
I don't believe our race begun...
"Up Guards and at--". But did they at?
"Do the French run?"--And did they run?
I doubt if Waterloo was won:
Yet till the final fires assail
I'll cry "St George for Albion!"
Because it is a fairy-tale.

Ariel at evening on a bat,
Godiva glorious in the sun,
Come nearer than the college rat
To the wild heart of truth unwon;
A truth like Friar Tuck to stun,
A justice like St George in mail,
This thing may really yet be done
Because it is a fairy-tale.

Prince, you have sworn, to bell and gun,
To guard the poor within your pale;
Suppose you did it, just for fun,
Because it is a fairy-tale.

Not Chesterton's strongest ballade, but the Envoy is excellent. The 'Rescued Nun' bit is a crack against the Maria Monk genre of memoirs, at one time popular, about nuns escaping from convents into Protestantism. Dick Whittington is an excellent example for what Chestrton has in mind in the first stanza: Richard Whittington was Lord Mayor of London in the late medieval period, but also became a character in a very famous folktale, in which he begins life as a poor orphan but rises to wealth and power because his cat has an almost preternatural competence in catching rats. The point, of course, is that while Dick Whittington was a real Lord Mayor of London, what really makes him worth keeping 'in your hat' (unlike almost every other Lord Mayor of London) is that he is the Dick Whittington of the children's story -- just as all the history of England won't raise your spirit to do great deeds or even good deeds for her, or fight with the fire of conviction, unless some of that history also becomes a fairy-tale.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Theodore Abu Qurrah on the Triplex Via

Theodore Abu Qurrah (Theodoros Aboukaras) lived somewhere during the years 750 to 825. He was the Melkite bishop of Harran near the ancient Christian stronghold of Edessa. 'Melkite' was the name given to those Christians who accepted the Council of Chalcedon. In the Syria of the day, the Melkites were not always strongly entrenched, and both Nestorians (who rejected the Council of Ephesus) and Jacobites (who rejected the Council of Chalcedon) were quite common. Even more significantly, the area had been conquered by Muslims, and the Syrian Melkites -- whose very name indicates that they were backed by the Roman Emperor in Constantinople -- were isolated from their fellow Chalcedonians and had lost their political backing. It was a time of clash and argument, and onto this intellectual battlefield stepped Theodore Abu Qurrah, the first significant Christian theologian to write in Arabic and the greatest of the Melkite theologians who lived outside the influence of the Roman Empire.

One of his works is a little treatise usually known as "On the Method of the Knowledge of God", which raises some interesting ideas with regard to theological epistemology. In this work he suggests that there are four ways by which something can be known:

(1) through being seen;
(2) through its effects;
(3) through something like it;
(4) through something contrary to it.

God is obviously not seen, so this can be set aside. The other three, however, are still viable, and Theodore insists that it is important to use all three, and to use all three in appropriate ways, in order to know God properly.

The basic principle of knowledge through effect, he says, is "If we see anything in a state that is not in accord with its nature, we infer that there is something that caused it to be in that state" (p. 158 / B76) Thus, for instance, if it is in the nature of earth to sink and fall, and we find it established in place, we know that something must be causing it to stay, whether it be a material or immaterial power. If, however, we say that a body is causing it to stay in place, this gets us into an infinite regress of bodies caused to stay in place due to bodies that are caused to stay in place by other bodies. Thus there must be an immaterial power holding it up, which could be called 'God'. This would be an example of knowing something by its effect. Theodore suggests that it is possible to have many proofs of God's existence, "from anything that is observed to have different aspects" (p. 159 / B78).

Beyond God's existence, however, one wishes to know things about Him; and this, Theodore suggests, arises primarily from resemblance as a method for knowing God. It could be, of course, that nothing resembles Him, in which case we could never know much about Him, but in practice people do recognize things as resembling God in some way. We recognize, for instance, that it would be appropriate to take things that are excellent to resemble God, somehow; and likewise people of all kinds detest it if anyone tries to attribute to God the names of resembling things that are less than excellent.

Further, we must hold that if there is a God there are things that somehow resemble Him, because there would only be two ways He could be known -- through His self-description and through creation, but both cases require that there be some kind of resemblance. God could only describe Himself to us by means of resemblances, and so if there are none, we would have to say that He describes Himself improperly; and if creatures did not resemble Him in any way, we would not be able to say anything about God on the basis of them. This resemblance, however, is necessarily not complete. God is known by what resembles Him in something like the way a person is known by way of his image in the mirror.

This brings us to knowledge by contrary:

Whenever we say that a created being resembles God, even as we say this we take it back, and as soon as we note the resemblance we deny it, lest the minds of those who hear stop there and fall into error. (p. 161 / B79)

This is not self-contradiction; instead, whenever we describe God in terms of creatures, we have to recognize that God is different even with respect to how creatures resemble Him. Thus, for instance, God is living and human beings are living; there is a resemblance. But treating this as all there is to it is merely anthropomorphism. In recognizing the resemblance we need also to recognize the differences: the lives of human beings have beginnings and endings, but God's living could not possibly begin and end; human life is filled with change, but God is unchanging; human life is vulnerable and fragile, but divine life could not be. By recognizing that some aspects of the resemblance are inconsistent with other things known about God, we learn more about God.

The astute reader will notice that Theodore's account of the ways of knowing God is an account of the triplex via, in at least one of its possible orders: we start with the way of causation, thus establishing that God exists, and then through this travel the way of eminence, by recognizing that he super-excels the excellences of creatures; and then end with the way of negation or remotion, in which we learn what God is not.

Abu Qurrah does not stop here, however, and goes on to argue that this triple method supports the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Begetting one like oneself is an excellence of human nature; indeed, there are few things about us that are more honorable and excellent. Thus by the way of resemblance, we should be able to say that God begets someone like Himself. If one were to object that this means that there was then before and after in God, however, we would see that this is ruled out by the way of contraries: fathers are before sons in human beings for reasons directly attributable to the defects and limitations of our natures, since this happens because we are always born incomplete. We can therefore eliminate this aspect of the resemblance from our discussion. We can see in a similar way that there can only be one Begotten, since if there needed to be more than one this would indicate that the first was insufficient, which brings us again to defect and limitation. Thus Theodore ends with the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, which shows in its very structure the triple method of knowing God.

Quotations are from Theodore Abu Qurrah, Theodore Abu Qurrah, John C. Lamoreaux, tr. and ed., Brigham Young University Press (Provo, UT: 2005).

Sui Juris Churches XIII: The Albanian Byzantine Catholic Church

(on sui juris churches in general)

Liturgical Family: Byzantine

Primary Liturgical Language: Albanian

Juridical Status: Apostolic Administration. The most common reason for an apostolic administration is that a diocese currently has no bishop, and there is a problem with getting one in the near future. The Apostolic Administration of Southern Albania, however, is a stable administration that arose because of unusual historical events, and thus functions almost exactly like a diocese under normal circumstances, except for the fact that its bishop is a titular bishop of a different rite rather than a diocesan one of the same rite.

Approximate Population: Unknown, but certainly less than 3500.

Brief History: Albania historically was part of the patriarchate of Rome, being quite literally just across the Strait of Otranto from Italy. Northern Albania tended to be influenced by the Latin Rite and Southern Albania by the Byzantine Rite, but papal jurisdiction over both was not questioned. In the eighth century, however, the Iconoclasm Controversy led to high tensions between the Pope and the Emperor, and the Emperor removed by force Greek-influenced portions of the Roman patriarchate, including eastern Illyricum in modern-day Albania. Some parts of this stolen jurisdiction, like Southern Italy, returned slowly to papal jurisdiction, but the Albanian parts were more firmly held. There still was occasional communication between the two, however, and despite the increasingly wide split between Greek East and Latin West, and there were notable emigrations of Albanians to Italy in the fifteenth century. In 1660, the Orthodox Archbishop of Southern Albania joined the Catholic communion, and for about a century Southern Albania was Catholic, but the pressure from the Turks was immense, and the union eventually dissolved.

Beginning in the 1890s, however, small pockets of Catholicism kept welling up in Southern Albania, nothing major, but constantly and consistently enough that the Italo-Albanians in Grottaferrata sent missions. The most significant group was centered at Elbasan under Father George Germanos. Rome appointed an Apostolic Administrator for Catholics in the area in 1939. The event was happy, but the timing was less than fortunate. Italy invaded; then Albania was a Nazi Protectorate; then Albania became increasingly Communist, and the Apostolic Administrator was eventually expelled. In 1967, Albania was declared officially atheist, and the persecution of Catholics under the Communists grew intense and brutal. (The stories of Albanian martyrs, of any rite, under the Communist regime are often horrifying, with things like priests being tortured and then stabbed to death with screwdrivers.) The Byzantine Rite Catholics in Albania seemed to vanish entirely.

Only after 1992, when the People's Republic of Albania was dissolved and Albania became the Republic of Albania, was it possible to assess the damage. Ivan Dias was appointed Apostolic Administrator to Southern Albania and began the slow work of repair. He was succeeded in 1996 by Hil Kabashi, who is (I believe) a Croatian Byzantine Catholic.

While the Apostolic Administration of Southern Albania is Byzantine Rite, most of the Albanian Catholics in its care and most of the priests caring for them are Latin Rite. In fact, there seems to be only one parish in the whole diocese, in Elbasan, that is Byzantine Rite. What will happen from this point on is difficult to say. It seems in some ways to be a particular church constituted entirely by historical accidents that have kept it from developing on its own and yet also have kept it from being officially joined to the Latin or Italo-Albanian churches. At present, it is almost a juridical technicality that makes it a particular church at all. But it is also the case the recovery from decades of brutal oppression has been slow, and it is impossible to say what surprises might be in store if it continues to repair.

Notable Religious Institutes: The Basilian Sisters of St. Macrina.

Extent of Official Jurisdiction: The Apostolic Administration of Southern Albania.

Online Sources and Resources: Perhaps needless to say, there is almost nothing online about this tiny barely-church, and much of it seems to be out of date.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Five Poem Re-Drafts

Still in a torrential downpour of grading, but the edge of the storm approaches. In the meantime, a backlog of poem re-drafts, mostly minor touch-ups.

Ayesha in the Fire

A life beyond life no life can now bear,
nor fair beyond fair and yet still more fair,
for fire and light beyond all desire
will quicken the heart to nothing but fire.
Not gods are we, nor burning with grace,
but apes of the gods, and of mortal race,
and though we ascend, as we think, to high throne,
yet still in the darkness we all end alone.
Though shade be deferred by a glorious light,
yet stunted are those who flee from the night,
though long eons stretch, we snap and we die,
and dimness will fall on the brightest of eye,
as darkness will drag us to ash and to dust;
in this fate alone can we mortal men trust.
In ash you will end, and leave nothing but name;
what quickens and slays you are one gloried flame.


Not today, Tantalus, the waters tempt again,
not today, Ixion, the wheel will, burning, turn,
nor even, Tityus, the vulture nip with pain,
nor even, Sisyphus, the stone once rolled return,
but time itself has stopped. The shadow world is calmed
by power born of lyre that covers all with balm.

And you, O most feared god, on dark and judging throne!
You cannot weep. But look, O god, unto your queen,
who weeps beside your seat. You once were god alone,
and knew the name of loss and felt the longing keen.
Behold! The Furies weep, in tears compassionate,
as scourges lie unused from sorrows desolate.

Not Crying

The raindrops fall outside my window
softly into pools in the flower-bed;
my thoughts fall inside, cold and slow,
remembering what you did and said.
The wounds seem healed, but healing is slow
when the heart still bleeds from things you said.

The winds pick up and pull at the walls,
the feelings rise up to tear my calm down;
the rain pours down, and harder falls,
until the world and I might drown.
The wounds seem healed, but soon thought falls
into a sea in which it might drown.

It is hard beginning everything anew,
remembering that human hearts can be true.
It was hard working my way through;
but I'll die before I cry over you.


True love is that which makes the virtues shine.
As this is so, then no true love is mine.
It does not make me seek the juster part,
nor rein in passions raging in the heart,
nor give the strength on which the good relies,
nor sharpen thought to make my head more wise.
It makes me not to rise to be divine,
endure for truth, or take the Good as mine.
Then what can be the good of such a thing,
that makes me want to lesser living cling?


The golden crown upon my head I give,
or would, if golden crown I had to give,
and with it all the life I have to live,
if life were something such as I could give;
for when and where you dwell true good shall live,
and there I too must wish to love and live,
and, though it cost me dear, I dearly love
to love your life and give to you my love.

I love you! Would that you returned the same.
Yet see! I see you love me not the same,
and that your love is mostly love in name.
From day to day your look is not the same;
the tone will change with which you say my name.
Indifference - for that alone can be its name -
it wreathes your look; it stifles every love,
and proves, perhaps, that you will never love.

And yet I still somehow in hope must live.
Without a victor's crown a man will try to live
through other joys, and joy may sometimes give.
Though not the greatest way a man may live,
a man unloved may still his own love give
until new fortunes loves anew will to him give.
Undaunted I to you will give my love
until the day I too am crowned with love.

Entity, Actuality, Cause

...a being cannot be conceived as wholly devoid of action; and if it has some action, it has, on this very account, to a greater or lesser extent the nature of a cause. Entity, actuality, cause, are here synonymous terms. Hence, the concept of beings which are in no sense causes, seems to involve contradiction. The more anything is a being, the more it is a cause.

Rosmini, Theodicy, volume 2 p. 15

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lily of Palestine

When I did my post summarizing the Melkite Catholic Church, I noted that I didn't know of any Melkite Catholic saints on the general calendar, but this has changed. Today, St. Mariam Baouardy, also known as Mariam of Jesus Crucified, and often called the Lily of Palestine, was canonized by Pope Francis; and she is very definitely a Melkite Catholic. (I've updated that post to take it into account.)

After she refused to marry a man who was also trying to convert her to Islam, he slit her throat. She had a vision of a nun in blue who stitched her wound. She did survive, although her voice continued to be weak from that point on. She eventually became a Carmelite nun. She had visions all her life and was a stigmatic. She died on August 26, 1878, and August 26 is now her feast day on the general calendar.

Causes of Good

This fact--namely, that if creatures were not causes, creation would fail to obtain an end worthy of God--should be attentively considered. God, in creating, could only aim at rendering His creatures good, in imitation of Himself. If creatures were merely passive, they would have no goodness of their own, because they would have nothing but what they receive; and mere reception is not goodness, much less moral goodness. Those natures only are capable of any goodness of their own, and especially of moral goodness, which can desire and love goodness, and can operate, and hence become, by their own acts, causes of good.

Antonio Rosmini, Theodicy, vol. 2, p. 14.