Saturday, March 12, 2016

Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Most Eminent Painters


[Because this two-volume work is a selection out of Vasari's biographical sketches, it doesn't make much sense to do an 'Opening Passage'.]

Sample Passage:

In the vicinity of Prato, which is at the distance of some ten miles from the city of Florence, and at a village called Savignano, was born Bartolommeo, according to the Tuscan practice called Baccio. From his childhood, Bartolommeo evinced not only a great inclination but an extraordinary aptitude for the study of design; and by the intervention of Benedetto da Maiano, he was placed under the discipline of Cosimo Roselli, being taken into the house of certain of his kinsfolk who dwelt near the gate of San Piero Gattolini, where Bartolommeo also dwelt many years, for which reason he was always called Baccio della Porta, nor was he known by any other name. (Vol 2, p. 5)

Summary: I found Vasari's work to be interesting for the same reason that I often enjoy biographies of poets: it is a look at art from the workmanship side, and takes the details of workmanship seriously. In a very real sense one can read Vasari's lives of the painters as a series of studies on the interrelation of talent, education, and reward in good painting, by one who was familiar with all three, and, interestingly enough, the relation of these three things in painting to good character in general, as part of that form of good life that is suitable to painters.

The first teacher of every painter is nature, and the painter by his designs seeks to imitate nature, selecting "the brightest parts from her best and loveliest features" (Vol. 1, p. 21). Some, like Giotto or Michelangelo, have an extraordinary innate talent and drive to learn from nature directly; they are, as Vasari says of Giotto, "induced by nature herself to the arts of design" (Vol. 1, p. 21). Those who are "by nature disposed to the cultivation of the arts" have a sure foundation for a good life, one which can be extended by study; this may be built upon by "character and manners calculated to render them acceptable to all men"; but to achieve true greatness one must be noticed (Vol. 1, p. 50).

The natural talent and study which makes good painting possible needs to be encouraged by reward, "for there are many minds, which might remain dormant if left without stimulus, but which, being excited by this allurement, put forth all their efforts, not only for the acquirement of their art, but to attain the utmost excellence therein" (Vol 1., p. 66). On the other side, however, we have the examples of painters like Sebastiano del Piombo that show that this is not a universal rule, however, good it may be in general:

...the liberality of just and magnanimous princes has, in certain instances, produced a contrary effect, seeing that there are many who are more disposed to contribute to the advantage and utility of the world while in depressed and moderate condition than when exalted to greatness and possessing an abundance of all things. (Vol 2., pp. 340-341)

We see something similar to this with study, which is essential to serious painting, but at the same time can be done badly. Thus the painter Paolo Uccello ruined his native talent by an excessive, almost obsessive, focus on studying perspective, and the quality of the work of Jacopo da Pontormo declined through his life because, instead of cultivating the excellences of his early style, he devoted himself to studied imitation of Northern European painters. As Vasari says in reflecting on the latter, "he who ventures to do himself violence and seeks to force nature does but ensure the ruin of those good qualities which had been imparted to him" (Vol. 2, p. 290). And Vasari repeatedly notes the importance of what one studies in one's youth -- a matter almost of accident, but which can have significant effects on the quality of one's work later. And study itself can get you only so far; as Vasari notes, providence, seeing so many artists struggling in "ardent studies pursued without any result" (Vol 2., p. 107), decided to show them the perfection of art by simply making Michelangelo.

A similar issue can be found with good character. You have painters like Fra Angelico, whose saintly character is part of his skill in painting, in a way that shows that the two are capable of combining in a powerful way. Vasari is likewise very clear that all of the greatest painters had at least some excellent character traits that made them admirable men as well as admirable painters, and that the two ways of being admirable are in some way connected -- and yet others may be overrated because their character gives them an ability to please that does not have much to do with the quality of their work.

We see then throughout the fragility of greatness of painting. Where natural talent is wanting, one can only get so far. But natural talent also requires cultivation, and each form of cultivation has pitfalls. The external cultivation of reward provides the incentives of wealth and glory to intensify the latent motivation to paint -- but in some cases it may have the opposite effect. The personal cultivation of study is a powerful thing -- but it may ruin or mislead as well as stimulate. And the innermost cultivation, that of good character, diligent, sweet-tempered, thoughtful, gives a grace to one's work -- sometimes. Painting itself is a fragile art -- Vasari is already full of stories of destroyed masterpieces -- but the conditions for great painting are themselves fragile. Talent, character, study, and reward: they all must come together, and do so in the right way, for real and lasting greatness to be achieved.

Favorite Passage:

It is related that the prior of the monastery was excessively importunate in pressing Leonardo to complete the picture [of the Last Supper]. He could in no way comprehend wherefore the artist should sometimes remain half a day together absorbed in thought before his work, without making any progress that he could see; this seemed to him a strange waste of time, and he would fain have had him work away as he could make the men do who were digging in his garden, never laying the pencil out of his hand. Not content with seeking to hasten Leonardo, the prior even complained to the Duke, and tormented him to such a degree that the latter was at length compelled to send for Leonardo, whom he courteously entreated to let the work be finished, assuring him nevertheless that he did so because impelled by the importunities of the prior.

Leonardo, knowing the Prince to be intelligent and judicious, determined to explain himself fully on the subject with him, although he had never chosen to do so with the prior. He therefore discoursed with him at some length respecting art, and made it perfectly manifest to his comprehension that men of genius are sometimes producing most when they seem to be labouring least, their minds being occupied in the elucidation of their ideas, and in the completion of the conceptions to which they afterwards give form and expression with the hand.... (Vol 1, pp. 316-317)

Recommendation: It takes an interest in Italian Renaissance painters, but if you have that, it is definitely Recommended.


Good as such cannot make a person sad, but one can be sad about good as understood under the aspect of evil, whether real or apparent. And envy in this way consists of chagrin at the good of another, namely, insofar as the good of another is an impediment to one's own excellence.

Thomas Aquinas, De Malo 10.1 ad 6.

[Thomas Aquinas, On Evil, Regan, tr., Oxford University Press (Oxford: 2003) p. 353.]

Through Dim Labyrinths of Sleep

The Dream
by Arthur Christoper Benson

I dreamed that I was dead, and smiling lay
Glad as a child, that wakens in the dawn,
And sees, across the dewy glimmering lawn
The light that brings some longed-for holiday.

So this was all, I said, and death is o'er;
The shadow that has lain across the years
Is safely passed, and I have done with fears,
And I am glad and free for evermore!

Then with small joyous laughter I addressed
My heart to peace and wonder, when a flame
Of terror seized my spirit, mournful pain;
Dull sadnesses that would not let me rest;
And through dim labyrinths of sleep I came
Back to the cruel day, back to my chain.

Friday, March 11, 2016


Many human beings are stirred to spiritual deeds for the sake of some temporal goods, but the disordered covetousness of temporal goods is not on that account sinless. So also although many perform virtuous deeds for the sake of glory, the disordered desire for glory is not on that account sinless, since we should perform virtuous deeds for their own sake, or rather for God's sake, not for the sake of glory.

Thomas Aquinas, De Malo 9.1 ad 6. 'Glory' here means (following a definition by Augustine) 'clear recognition accompanied by praise'.

[Thomas Aquinas, On Evil, Regan, tr., Oxford University Press (Oxford: 2003) p. 344.]

Thursday, March 10, 2016


The Hans Küng drinking game, if you don't know it, consists in listening to a lecture by the Swiss theologian Hans Küng and taking a drink every time he takes a theological topic -- infallibility, the Trinity, Christology -- and makes it about himself. Actually, it should probably be kept entirely theoretical because, as you know if you have ever been subjected to watching a lecture by Hans Küng, you would get very drunk, dangerously drunk, very quickly. Theology for Hans Küng seems to have as its subject the Twelve Labors of Hans Küng. I thought of that a bit when I read Küng's recent appeal to Pope Francis on the subject of papal infallibility, which he does, indeed, make primarily a discussion of his own experiences and travails.

I find the comments section somewhat more interesting, as the readers of the National Catholic Reporter quickly end up running through pretty much every possible anti-infallibility position imaginable. Most interesting of all was that some of the commenters start arguing that the problem is not papal infallibility but magisterial infallibility -- which is actually more sensible than anything Küng himself usually argues, since the doctrine of papal infallibility is just that the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of Truth, has an infallible authority to teach, and that the Church, insofar as it is animated by the Holy Spirit, sometimes in teaching does so out of the Holy Spirit's infallible authority to teach, and that the Pope's teaching, when he is teaching as successor of Peter and sign of the apostolic unity of the Church, is one of the ways in which the Church does so. Since the Holy Spirit necessarily has infallible teaching authority, the bulk of the doctrine rests entirely on the nature of the teaching authority of the Church. Once you grant that the Church has any kind of magisterial infallibility, the only question left with regard to papal infallibility is whether the Pope ever, in any exercise of his office, is the 'official voice' of the Church, or, to put it another way, whether the Church ever teaches in this way by way of the Pope as successor of Peter. (And if you look at the definition of the doctrine by Vatican I, you notice immediately that the primary bulk of the argument is papal primacy, the sense in which the Pope guides and speaks for the entire Church; papal infallibility is treated as nothing but a particular clarification of papal primacy, and the actual definition explicitly connects papal infallibility with ecclesial infallibility.)


O you sons of men, for the words apply to you, how long will you be hard-hearted and gross in mind? Why do ye love vanity and seek after leasing, supposing life here to be a great thing and these few days many, and shrinking from this separation, welcome and pleasant as it is, as if it were really grievous and awful? Are we not to know ourselves? Are we not to cast away visible things? Are we not to look to the things unseen? Are we not, even if we are somewhat grieved, to be on the contrary distressed at our lengthened sojourn, like holy David, who calls things here the tents of darkness, and the place of affliction, and the deep mire, and the shadow of death; because we linger in the tombs we bear about with us, because, though we are gods, we die like men the death of sin?

Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 7 (Panegyric on St. Caesarius)

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Maronite Year XXIX

It is difficult to know what to make of the Emperor Licinius. Co-emperor with Constantine, he was also co-author of the Edict of Milan, which granted toleration to Christianity. Like Constantine, he seems to have provided some support for Christians in the Empire. But there are plenty of reports of persecutions of Christians under his watch. Some of these may be more political than real, since it was in Constantine's political interest to paint Licinius as a thoroughly anti-Christian pagan; but there are enough reports of sufficient repute to give us reason to think that a number of them are real. Among these are the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. The Forty Martyrs were soldiers of the Legion XII Fulminata, stationed in Armenia; they were exposed naked on a frozen pond throughout the night and then burned. This is said to have happened in 320; we know, because of a homily by St. Basil, that they already had a church dedicated to them in Caesarea and a regular feast-day by the 370s.

Devotion to the Forty Martyrs became quite popular very quickly, then, and also entangled with the customs of Lent early on -- St. Gregory of Nyssa notes the play on the number of forty in a homily probably from no later than the early 380s, and the memorial can be seen as a reminder that every day of Lent is a little martyrdom.

Feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
2 Corinthians 4:11-18; Luke 6:20-23

It is pleasing in the eyes of God
to recall His martyrs with joy,
to celebrate their memorials,
to sing their deeds with hymns and songs;
what satiety of remembrance
can there be for those who love them?

The martyrs rain down help upon us;
like bulwarks they protect our walls,
protect us from the inroads of sin.
Their death is for our sake, for grace,
that we may have thanksgiving to God.
Their light trouble has eternal weight;
the seen fades soon, not their victory.

To the Lord you said, "We are forty,
engaged in a mighty combat;
grant that we may win to the great crown,
grant that not one of us may fail."
Rejoice and leap for joy, O martyrs;
you are witnesses to his grace.

Happy are you when people hate you,
when they revile you and spurn you,
because of the kingdom of Heaven!
Rejoice in that day, leap for joy;
your reward will be great in Heaven.
The Lord said "Follow," and you followed,
O Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.

Lent XXV

It is a great and very precious thing, beloved, in the Lord's sight, when Christ's whole people engage together in the same duties, and all ranks and degrees of either sex co-operate with the same intent: when one purpose animates all alike of declining from evil and doing good; when God is glorified in the works of His slaves, and the Author of all godliness is blessed in unstinted giving of thanks. The hungry are nourished, the naked are clothed, the sick are visited, and men seek not their own but "that which is another's," so long as in relieving the misery of others each one makes the most of his own means; and it is easy to find "a cheerful giver ," where a man's performances are only limited by the extent of his power. By this grace of God, "which works all in all," the benefit and the deserts of the faithful are both enjoyed in common.

Leo I, Sermon 88

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Irina Alexandrovevskivich

I confess that I found this, by Naomi Brockwell, rather funny:


There are two loves from which proceed all wishes, as different in quality as they are different in their sources. For the reasonable soul, which cannot exist without love, is the lover either of God or the world. In the love of God there is no excess, but in the love of the world all is hurtful. And therefore we must cling inseparably to eternal treasures, but things temporal we must use like passers-by, that as we are sojourners hastening to return to our own land, all the good things of this world which meet us may be as aids on the way, not snares to detain us....But as the world attracts us with its appearance, and abundance and variety, it is not easy to turn away from it unless in the beauty of things visible the Creator rather than the creature is loved; for, when He says, "you shall love the Lord your God from all your heart, and from all your mind, and from all your strength," He wishes us in noticing to loosen ourselves from the bonds of this love.

Leo I, Sermon 90

Monday, March 07, 2016

Of the Rise of Philosophy-Department Philosophy

In January at "The Stone", Robert Frodeman and Adam Briggle argued that philosophy had lost its way: by its increasing institutionalization, it has become narrow, ivory-tower, and based on assumptions that effectively divorced knowledge from virtue. Scott Soames responds to their argument, arguing instead that "Philosophy isn’t separated from the social, natural or mathematical sciences, nor is it neglecting the study of goodness, justice and virtue, which was never its central aim."

His argument is a historical argument; unfortunately, I don't see how it is supposed to work at all. He starts out:

The authors claim that philosophy abandoned its relationship to other disciplines by creating its own purified domain, accessible only to credentialed professionals. It is true that from roughly 1930 to 1950, some philosophers — logical empiricists, in particular — did speak of philosophy having its own exclusive subject matter. But since that subject matter was logical analysis aimed at unifying all of science, interdisciplinarity was front and center.

But the institutionalization of philosophy does not start in the 1930s; it starts (as Soames himself explicitly recognizes!) in the nineteenth century. By the time we get to the period at which Soames starts, we already have philosophy departments and philosophy journals that have been going on for decades, and it's pretty obvious that Frodeman and Briggle would argue that the narrowing had already begun. And in fact, there is prima facie reason to think that they would be right if they did argue this way.

How did philosophy departments come about? Here's a 'prima facie history', a first-glance look at what the evidence suggests.* They originally didn't exist at all. Degrees were philosophy degrees unless they were medical, theological, or law degrees. As time there grew up chairs and lectureships and examinations specifically devoted to this or that specific field of philosophy, moral philosophy or experimental philosophy or what have you, but while departments grew out of these, the modern philosophy department did not. Philosophy was most often treated as a general field; it covered multiple 'departments'. What sense would it make to have a philosophy department, when most of your other departments are still at least sometimes seen as covering various fields in philosophy? So where did philosophy departments in particular come from?

There's an answer that has been given, and while it's controversial in parts, it is a good start for our 'prima facie history'. People started thinking of psychology as a science -- mental science. But the movement to do so was closely associated with very specific methods (structuralist, broadly speaking), and so when the push for psychology departments began to develop momentum and financial backing, as a matter of academic politics, a reaction formed among those who studied various matters relevant to the mind who thought these particular methods inadequate, and did not think that psychology could be a science, at least in that particular sense. The first clear, definite philosophy departments arose in response to the formation of psychology departments. The first clear, definite philosophy journals, associated with subject matter studied in departments devoted specifically to what was called philosophy, arose in the same way and for the same reason. It is not an accident that one of the first such philosophy journals, formed in 1876, is called Mind -- the specific reason for the journal, stated right there in the very first issue, was to serve as a forum for discussing whether psychology was a science, and if not, why not, and if so, how so.

And (continuing the prima facie history) what do we then find discussed in philosophy departments and journals entering the twentieth century? Questions relevant to whether psychology is a science. We have direct discussions of what we would call philosophy of mind. Some of those discussions get us directly into epistemological questions, as they still do, so we would get epistemology. One of the big philosophical discussions already going on was Idealism, and being an Idealist of one kind or another is one reason why you might question the idea that psychology was a science, and one's reasons for being an Idealist would be broader metaphysical reasons, so we get discussions of metaphysics -- insofar as it might be relevant to the nature of the mind. Some lines of argument about the mind and psychology get us directly into questions of logic and language; and so you begin to get those kinds of discussion, too -- slowly, and usually at first in ways closely connected to the question of the mind.

All of this is, again 'prima facie history'. The reality covers a wide variety of societies over a period of decades, each with different educational systems (occasionally very different), a large number of different players working with a wide variety of motivations. A closer look might turn up complications requiring a reassessment here and there. But, at least at first glance, it fits the obvious evidence that must be taken into account in looking at the history of philosophy-department philosophy. And note that, so far, we are still decades before Soames's starting point and already have the materials for a Frodeman-Briggle kind of argument: the terrain has already narrowed considerably: mind-focused topics like the status of psychology, epistemology (empiricism and rationalism), logic, philosophy of language. And what kinds of topics are being discussed in the 1930-1950 period when people are elaborating philosophy for the interdisciplinary unity-of-the-sciences approach? Philosophy of mind, epistemology, logical analysis, philosophy of language. And what kinds of examples do we get when Soames tells us that philosophy is not isolated from other disciplines? I list them:

(1) symbolic logic;
(2) linguistics and its relation to cognition;
(3) decision theory and what it says about beliefs;
(4) assisting of psychology in its ridding itself of behaviorism;
(5) philosophy of physics;
(6) philosophy of biology, which follows a route like that of philosophy of physics.

You notice immediately that all of the first four have to do with mind, language, logic, and epistemology, and in fact with very specific approaches to these things; and a closer look at the examples given for (5) shows that it's not actually a different kind of example. If Soames were trying to defend rather than oppose the Frodeman-Briggle thesis, he could hardly have chosen a better set of examples: there is actually a very narrow theme here.

Let's think about a contrast case. Really foundational work in philosophy of science gets done in the nineteenth century, with Whewell (Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences) and Mill (System of Logic) being big names. Why does this work get laid? Part of it is just the expanding success of scientific methods post-Newton. But if you look at the actual philosophical discussions, a pattern emerges: over and over again the discussions are brought back to the question of how these accounts of the sciences related to ethics. Mill, of course, was a major utilitarian. Whewell was Knightbridge Professor of Moral Theology and Casuistical Divinity; he explicitly claims here and there that his work on the philosophy of the sciences was directly relevant to moral philosophy; he was a major force behind the push to have Moral Sciences examinations at Cambridge; he was a major intuitionist opponent of the utilitarians. And while they were both interested in the subject itself, one of the primary motivations is to argue ethics and metaethics. Nor were they the only ones; you even find it in places you wouldn't expect -- Charles Darwin entered the same fray in Descent of Man arguing for intuitionism and against utilitarianism on biological grounds, for instance. Moral philosophy was queen. This is a very different from what Soames seems to suggest -- he claimed, for instance, "the study of goodness, justice and virtue" was "never" the central aim of philosophy. "Never" is an oddly strong word here -- the claim is certainly false (for instance) of very large portions of ancient philosophy. (Try to imagine a Plato who did not regard goodness, justice, and virtue as the central aim of philosophy. Or what in the world were Hellenistic philosophers mostly talking about if not primarily about "goodness, justice and virtue"?) But you don't have to go back so far. While one can argue about whether it's quite correct to call it "the" central aim, "the study of goodness, justice and virtue" was certainly far more central in the nineteenth century than you ever find it in the twentieth century.

Thus when we look at Soames's argument, it seems to say very little that's of any use. His appeal to history seems poorly designed even to address the question the appeal is supposed to address in the first place -- it claims to address the Frodeman-Briggle thesis without actually doing anything that could do so. And the historical appeal in addition raises worries of itself. If the question is the damage done by the institutionalization beginning in the nineteenth century, and is about the course of philosophy over a span of 150 years, both of which Soames explicitly recognizes, why is the history we actually get so obviously piecemeal and so heavily post-1930? If goodness, justice, and virtue were "never" central to philosophy, how does Soames reconcile this with the obvious, often explicit, emphases on moral philosophy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? Part of Soames's argument is just a claim that it's important for philosophy to interact with the sciences, which is not relevant to the Frodeman-Briggle argument, since they didn't claim that it shouldn't interact with the sciences, nor even that it didn't. Soames, weirdly, talks about the idea that "philosophy was and still is isolated from other disciplines ignores much of its history"; but this is not a claim that Frodeman and Briggle made -- they claimed that philosophy was separated from society, and their only talk about "disciplines" is about the rise of disciplines and the 'democratization' of them. And how does Soames reconcile his argument with the specific facts about the history of the university in general and of philosophy departments in particular to which Frodeman and Briggle referred throughout their argument. (Noticeably, none of Soames's argument is about the institutional aspect of philosophy's institutionalization at all, despite the fact that it keeps coming up in the Frodeman-Briggle argument.) The whole argument as a response to Frodeman and Briggle is baffling, and one worries greatly that the argument is more an advocacy for the general self-congratulation with which the piece ends, than a serious attempt to examine the question.


* Those who are interested in these matters might read Edward Reed's work, From Soul to Mind; the book, by a psychologist, is an attempt to argue that philosophy in the disciplinary sense of the word is a creation of anti-psychology reactionaries. Parts of the prima facie history given here go over some of the historical points that Reed considers, although I have mostly stayed with the least controversial ones and, of course, haven't indulged in Reed's occasional sarcasm about the pompous pretensions of academic philosophers. Comparison with comments made by Frodeman and Briggle will show that there is some definite overlap between Reed and Frodeman-Briggle, although the latter account seems to be independent of the former.


Some think it humility not to believe that God is bestowing His gifts upon them. Let us clearly understand this, and that it is perfectly clear God bestows His gifts without any merit whatever on our part; and let us be grateful to His Majesty for them; for if we do not recognize the gifts received at His hands, we shall never be moved to love Him. It is a most certain truth, that the richer we see ourselves to be, confessing at the same time our poverty, the greater will be our progress, and the more real our humility.

Teresa of Avila, Life, Chapter X.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Ugly Things, Reluctantly Defied

S. Vincent de Paul
by Arthur Christopher Benson

Oh, I have fought a little, but not well;
Laboured a little, not because I would;
Loved ease, and grasped a pleasure where I could;—
Of strenuous deeds I have no tale to tell.

But ugly things, reluctantly defied,
Cankers from roses picked, false fertile weeds
Off-stript, ere they could strew their noisome seeds;—
These are my conquests, with no room for pride.

Oh spiritless heart, thou hast not earned thy rest,
Yet thou art weary; and the dark hours roll,
And tired things flee to some protecting breast!
Yet will I hold my life not vainly spent
If one, but one mute, unconsidered soul
Thro' me be richer, better, more content.

Pugin's Pictorial Attack on Utilitarianism

A. W. N. Pugin was one of the major architects (pun intended) of the Gothic Revival in nineteenth-century England. In 1836 he published a book whose full title is worth putting down, Contrasts: Or, A Parallel Between the Noble Edifices of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries and Similar Buildings of the Present Day. Shewing the Present Decay of Taste. Accompanied by Appropriate Text. It was intended to be an argument for Gothic principles in architecture, especially Church architecture. The parallel is not merely verbal; the most striking part of the text is its rhetorical argument in pictures, in which a medieval building is contrasted with its modern counterpart to show, as the subtitle says, the present decay of taste. The most biting of these picture-rhetoric subarguments is that of Contrasted Residences for the Poor, in which he contrasts a poor-house drawn up on Christian and monastic principles with one drawn up on Bentham's utilitarian principles. It's worth looking at in detail (you can get full screen at the above link and use the magnifying glass icon to zoom in). The pictorial parallel is a caricature, not wholly fair to the utilitarians -- but you can in fact go through Pugin's caricature and identify elements that clearly are derived from Bentham and utilitarian reforms by the Benthamites. He is being tendentious for the purposes of his rhetorical argument, but he isn't simply making things up.

Maronite Year XXVIII

Continuing the Lenten theme of salvation for the Sunday readings, the Maronite calendar recognizes today as the Sunday of the Paralyzed Man, and it emphasizes, as the story in the Gospel does, the power of forgiveness.

Sunday of the Healing of the Paralytic
1 Timothy 5:24-6:5; Mark 2:1-12

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal,
protect us in our weakness and our foolishness;
Pledge of true life, heal our souls,
that we may walk in new life.
From the Father the Son came to give the Spirit:
in His name the Church brings absolution and grace.

Because of faith, Christ said to the paralytic,
"Your sins are forgiven, rise and pick up your mat,
walk and return to your home."
O Word, You shared life with us;
You made the paralyzed walk that all might know You,
that all might learn in faith that You are God's own Son.

Praise, O Church, the One who became flesh for our sins;
He turned to wounded humanity to heal it,
and bore the sins of us all.
We stored up retribution,
stubborn and impenitent of heart and habit,
but Your heart pardoned our sins and made us to walk.

O God, undo the paralysis that binds us:
remove selfishness and put justice in its place;
let love rule all that we do,
inspire our mutual help,
that each action may be all for the common good.
Those You have ransomed will go home singing with joy.

Glory to the Son of God, who said, "Rise and walk."
Glory to Christ, who said, "Your sins are forgiven."
You healed the paralytic;
You bring pardon for our sins.
You open the door to all of those who repent;
extend Your hand and grant us the balm of pardon.