Now I Know of a Surety

The Liberation of St Peter, 1616-18, by Gerard van Honthorst (1592-1656); oil on canvas, 129 x 179 cm; Staatliche Museen, Berlin.
The Liberation of St Peter, 1616-18, by Gerard van Honthorst (1592-1656); oil on canvas, 129 x 179 cm; Staatliche Museen, Berlin.

About that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

— Acts xii. 1., The Epistle for the Feast of St. Peter from the Book of Common Prayer.

View from Dun-I

A view of Iona Abbey and Baile Mòr, looking southeast from Dun-I, at 331 feet, the isle's highest point.
A view of Iona Abbey and Baile Mòr, looking southeast from the Iron Age hill fort of Dun-I, at 331 feet, the isle’s highest point.

To the Monastery To Which He Belongs

Cross of the Scriptures, Cathedral, Temple Doolin and South Cross at the Monastery of Clonmacnoise (Cluain Mhic Nóis) situated in County Offaly, Ireland, on the River Shannon south of Athlone.
Cross of the Scriptures, Cathedral, Temple Doolin and South Cross at the Monastery of Clonmacnoise (Cluain Mhic Nóis) situated in County Offaly, Ireland, on the River Shannon south of Athlone.
  1. The jurists say that tithe of cattle should be offered once and on that account it will be most holy, i.e., the tithe should not be offered again. But others of the true faith affirm that we should give tithes of living and mortal things to God every year, since every year we enjoy His gifts.
  2. Also, of all fruits of the soil a tithe ought to be offered once a year to the Lord, for as it is said: “Whatever has been once consecrated to God, will be most holy in the sight of the Lord.” For the tithe should not be offered repeatedly from those things, as the learned Columman has taught. But of the fruits of the soil a tenth part ought to be offered every year, because they are produced every year.
  3. Also, tithes are from all living things. So the first fruits of everything, and the animal that is born first in the year should be given. For the first born of animals are like first fruits; and the first born of men and of animals may be offered.
  4. Also, concerning tithes in herds and first fruits. First born are those which are born before any others are born in that year. It should be known how great is the weight of the first fruits, i.e., nine or twelve measures. Hence, the measure of the offering should be sufficient material for nine or twelve loaves. But of vegetables it should be as much as can be carried in the hand. It ought to be paid at the beginning of the summer, just as it was offered once a year to the priests of Jerusalem. But in the New Testament each would offer it to the monastery to which he belongs. And toward this would be especially charitable; of the first-born let males, never females, be offered.
  5. Also, if any have less substance than the tithe they shall not pay the tithe.
  6. Also, in order that all might find it convenient to offer tithes in some way to God, if they have only one cow or ox, let them divide the price of the cow into ten parts and give a tenth part to God. And so let it be done for other things…

— The Irish Canons: Collection of the Tithe, c. 750.

(Source: J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1862), Vol. XCVI, pp. 1319-1320; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 378-379.)

At Our Last Hour

Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.

In the midst of life we are in death: of whom may we seek for succour, but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased?

Yet, O Lord most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.

Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears unto our prayers; but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour, though most worthy Judge eternal, suffer us not, at our last hour, for any pains of death, to fall away from thee.

— Sentences sung at the Grave from the Book of Common Prayer
(as revised by Henry Purcell).

* * *

— March from H. Purcell’s Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary.

The Sustenance of Life and the Example

Ancient Seal of City of Glasgow, Depicting St. Mungo. Mitchell Library, Glasgow City Council.
Ancient seal of City of Glasgow, depicting St. Mungo. Mitchell Library, Glasgow City Council.

He established the seat of his cathedral in the town called Glesgu, which is translated “Beloved Family,” and is now called Glasgow. And there he gathered together many servants of God, a family beloved and well known to God, who lived in abstinence following the pattern of the primitive church under the Apostles, without possessions and in holy discipline and divine service.

And the diocese of that episcopate extended to the borders of the Cambrian kingdom, and that kingdom stretched continuously from sea to sea, just like the earthen wall built by the Emperor Severus. After the advice and counsel of the Roman legions, in order to prevent the Picts from rushing into the country, a wall was constructed in this same place that was eight feet wide and twelve feet tall, and it reached up to the river Forth, and divides Scotland from England as a boundary line. And this Cambrian region over which Kentigern now was placed with episcopal honor, had received the Christian faith (as had the whole of Britain) during the time of Pope Eleutherius, when King Lucius ruled. But when the pagans had attacked the island during various times, and having dominion over it, the islanders had thrown away the faith they had received by falling into apostasy. Many also were not yet washed in the health-giving water of baptism, and many were stained by the contagion of manifold heresies. Many, only Christian in name, were wrapped up in the hog pool of multiple vices. Very many had been taught by ministers inexperiened in and ignorant of the law of God. And for these reasons, all the inhabitants of the province had a need for the counsel of a good shepherd, and the cure of a good ruler. Therefore God, the Disposer and Dispenser of all good things, provided, preferred, and proposed Saint Kentigern as a healing remedy, as the sustenance of life and the example, for all the diseases of all the people.

— Jocelin of Furness, Life of St. Kentigern, Chapter XI.

A New Pair of Beads

I recently commissioned Gayle Murphy of Queen of Peace Rosaries to restring a set of beads and hardware using her excellent — both sturdy and handsome — wire-wrapping technique. The result is magnificent!

The crucifix is a heavy, handmade, sterling silver piece from South America — Peru, I believe. The Pater beads are sterling silver, handmade in Bali; the Ave beads are very fine round amethysts; the accents are a lighter, faceted amethyst. The centre medallion depicts a calla lily (a symbol of Our Lady — and, coincidentally and quite unintentionally, of Irish republicanism and nationalism since 1926 to commemorate the fallen of the 1916 Easter Rising and onwards). The rosary is strung on solid sterling silver wire.

The new rosary.
The new rosary.
Close-up of the Spanish colonial-style crucifix.
Close-up of the Spanish colonial-style crucifix.
Detail of the beads, showing the wire-wrapping technique.
Detail of the beads, showing the wire-wrapping technique.

This is the first sacramental blessed for me by Fr. Doc as a Catholic priest!

Finished Sgian Dubh

Adriaan Gerber emailed today to announce the completion of my long-awaited sgian dubh. Here are two photos of the new knife and its leather sheath.

The newly-created sgian dubh.
The newly-created sgian dubh. The hamon is clearly visible.
Note the notched blade, a characteristic of many Scottish knives.
Note the notched blade, a characteristic of many Scottish knives.
A basic leather sheath (which no one is meant to see as the knife's blade is traditionally tucked into the top of the wearer's hose).
A basic leather sheath (which no one is meant to see as the knife’s blade is traditionally tucked into the top of the wearer’s hose).