Saint Machar

Interior of Cathedral Church of St. Machar, Old Aberdeen.

St Machor was one of the disciples of St Columba, the famous apostle of the Northern Picts and founder of the celebrated monastery of Iona. According to the ‘Aberdeen Breviary,’ “sanctum virum gignit Hibernia, educavit illum Albania, cujus corpus in reverentia Turonensis tenet ecclesia.” He was the son of Syaconus or Fiachna, an Irish kingling, and Synchena or Finchœmia, his wife, both of whom appear to have been Christians. At baptism, a rite which, according to the ‘Aberdeen Breviary’ was performed for him by St Colman, he received the name of Mocumma. St Colman was also his first instructor. Proofs and indications of his sanctity were vouchsafed while he was yet a child. Angels visited him, and hovered around his home and cradle; at the touch of his body his dead brother was restored to life, and twice he was miraculously delivered from death by drowning and by fire. Sent by his father to be instructed by St Columba, he soon became a most devoted scholar and disciple of that saint. When Columba was about to leave Ireland for Scotland, Mocumma refused to be left behind, and resolved to leave his country and home and friends in order to be with him. Overjoyed with the zeal and attachment of his disciple, Columba changed his name from Mocumma to Machor or Machar. When they landed on the island of Iona, Machor was carried ashore by a certain Melluma. After the cells had been built and the community thoroughly established in their new home, St Columba sent Machor to evangelise the island of Mull. There he preached the Gospel over the whole land and healed seven lepers. Returning to Iona after the completion of his work in Mull, he devoted himself to study and to the copying of the Scriptures, one of the chief works in which the disciples of Columba were engaged. One day as he wrote the light failed him, but blowing on “his fyngre-end,” a bright light immediately issued from it, and lighted him until his task was done. The fame which this and other miracles brought him, soon caused great companies to gather around him, offering him gifts, all of which, however, he refused to accept. On the other hand, his fellow-disciples were moved with jealousy, and attempted to poison him. Alarmed for the personal safety of his favourite disciple, Columba advised him to withdraw from the island, and preach the Gospel elsewhere. Machor accepted his advice, and Columba gave him seven, or, according to another account, twelve companions, a bishop’s staff, a girdle, two coats, and a number of books, and then sent him away in a “galay” or boat, but not before his fellow-disciples who had made the attempt on his life had been reconciled to him. Machor landed in the north of Scotland, where a Christian man named Farcare resided, who received him with great joy, and allowed him to choose any portion of his land on which to build his cell. After much searching, he selected a piece in the shape of a bishop’s staff, which answered to the description Columba had given him of the place where he was to fix his dwelling. Here he caused a “costly kirk” to be built, and miraculously provided a supply of water for the thirsty workmen. Here also he collected round him a great company of disciples. St Devenick came to visit him, and the two agreed that St Devenick should preach the Gospel in Caithness, and that St Machor should confine himself to the Picts. St Machor threw himself into his work with great earnestness, and converted a large number of Picts and wrought numerous miracles. He changed a bear, which was destroying the harvest, into a stone; he overcame a heathen sorcerer named Dinon or Dron, and then converted and baptised him; he gave sight to a man that was born blind, and raised Synchenus, who belonged to the kindred of St Columba, from death to life; two young Irishmen, attracted by his fame, having mocked him, came by a violent end; having ploughed a large field which was lean and dry, and seed failing him with which to sow it, he sent to borrow some from St Teman, who sent instead a sack of sand — but sowing this, it sprang up and bore an abundant harvest; a bone which had stuck in the throat of a man Avho had despised him, he safely extracted, and received in return a piece of land on which to build a church. One day St Teman came to visit him; he entertained him, and the two held a long conversation on heavenly things, Machor becoming the instructor of his visitor, and causing him to marvel at his wisdom. As he lay on the point of death St Devenick besought his disciples to carry his dead body to one of the churches of St Machor for burial, and, instructed by a vision, the latter went to meet the funeral procession. He met it near the Hill of Croscan, and accompanied it to Banchory-Devenick, where the saint was buried, and a church erected over his tomb. When St Columba proceeded on his pilgrimage to Rome, Machor accompanied him. Both were graciously received by Gregory the Great, who appointed Machor bishop of the Picts, or, according to another account, bishop of Tours, changed his name to Morice or Mauritius, and instructed him in the duties of a bishop. On their return journey Columba and Machor visited Tours. The clergy of that city were then searching for the body of St Martin. On applying to St Columba for assistance, he promised to help them on the condition that he should have whatever he found with the body. His search was successful and along with the body he found a missal or “a book of the Gospel,” which he treasured all the remainder of his life as a precious relic. St Columba then took his way home, but left Machor, much against his will, though at the earnest request of the people of Tours. For the space of three years and a half St Machor occupied the Chair of St Martin, by whom he was visited. His deathbed was visited by St Martin from heaven, by St Columba from Iona, and by the Son of God, and ever and around it were the company of the Apostles, and a great host of heavenly beings.

The old Latin life from which the six lections in the ‘Aberdeen Breviary,’ November 12, and the passages in Colgan’s ‘Trias Thaumaturga,’ 318, 514, appear to have been taken, is now lost. Besides these, cf. Reeves, ‘Life of St Columba by Adamnan’; Forbes, ‘Kal. of Scottish Saints,’ sub Mauritius; J. Smith, ‘Life of St Columba.’ The narrative given in the Legend is the longest and fullest and most important known. Machor is mentioned in the Arbuthnott and Aberdeen Calendars, and in Adam King’s, where he is said to have lived during the reign of ‘King Soluathius in Scotland.” The ‘Menologium Scotium’ refers to him, January 15 and November 12. and in the Calendar of David Camerarius he occurs under November 13.

His day is November 12.

— John Barbour, Legends of the Saints, ed. W. M. Metcalfe, Vol. III, Edinburgh: Wm. Blackwood and Sons, 1896.

The Battle of Altimarlach

THE BATTLE OF ALTIMARLACH: A BALLAD.

‘Twas morn; from rustic cot and grange
The cock’s shrill clarion rung:
And fresh on every sweet wild flower
The pearly dew-drop hung.

Given up to thoughtless revelry,
In Wick lay Sinclair’s band,
When suddenly the cry arose,
“Glenorchy’s close at hand!”

For now the Campbell’s haughty chief
The river Wick had crossed,
With twice seven hundred Highlanders–
A fierce and lawless host.

“To arms! to arms!” from street to lane
The summons fast did go;
And forth the gathered Sinclairs marched
To meet the coming foe.

Where Altimarlach opens up
Its narrow, deep ravine,
Glenorchy’s force, in order ranged,
Were strongly posted seen.

They meet, they close in deadly strife,
But brief the bloody fray;
Before the Campbell’s furious charge
The Caithness ranks give way.

Flushed with success, Glenorchy’s men
Set up a savage cheer,
And drove the Sinclairs panic-struck
Into the river near.

There, ‘neath the Campbell’s ruthless blade
Fell more than on the plain,
Until the blood-dyed stream across
Was choked up with the slain.

But who might paint the flood of grief
That burst from young and old,
When to the slaughtered Sinclair’s friends
The direful tale was told!

The shrieking mother wrung her hands,
The maiden tore her hair,
And all was lamentation loud,
And terror, and despair.

Short time Glenorchy Caithness ruled,
By every rank abhorred;
He lost the title he usurped,
Then fled across the Ord.

While Keiss,1 who firm upheld his claim
Against tyrannic might,
Obtained the Sinclairs coronet,
Which was his own by right;

That coronet which William2 wore,
Who loved his Prince so well,
And with his brave devoted band
On fatal Flodden fell.

— James Traill Calder.

1 George Sinclair of Keiss, 7th Earl of Caithness.
2 The second Earl of Caithness [of the Fourth Creation (1455)].

A Free and Independent State

Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the Ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong to a free and independent State.

Ordinance of Secession, 17 April, 1861.

Whereas, Seven of the States formerly composing a part of the United States have, by authority of their people, solemnly resumed the powers granted by them to the United States, and have framed a Constitution and organized a Government for themselves, to which the people of those States are yielding willing obedience, and have so notified the President of the United States by all the formalities incident to such action, and thereby become to the United States a separate, independent and foreign power; and whereas, the Constitution of the United States has invested Congress with the sole power “to declare war,” and until such declaration is made, the President has no authority to call for an extraordinary force to wage offensive war against any foreign Power: and whereas, on the 15th inst., the President of the United States, in plain violation of the Constitution, issued a proclamation calling for a force of seventy-five thousand men, to cause the laws of the United states to be duly executed over a people who are no longer a part of the Union, and in said proclamation threatens to exert this unusual force to compel obedience to his mandates; and whereas, the General Assembly of Virginia, by a majority approaching to entire unanimity, declared at its last session that the State of Virginia would consider such an exertion of force as a virtual declaration of war, to be resisted by all the power at the command of Virginia; and subsequently the Convention now in session, representing the sovereignty of this State, has reaffirmed in substance the same policy, with almost equal unanimity; and whereas, the State of Virginia deeply sympathizes with the Southern States in the wrongs they have suffered, and in the position they have assumed; and having made earnest efforts peaceably to compose the differences which have severed the Union, and having failed in that attempt, through this unwarranted act on the part of the President; and it is believed that the influences which operate to produce this proclamation against the seceded States will be brought to bear upon this commonwealth, if she should exercise her undoubted right to resume the powers granted by her people, and it is due to the honor of Virginia that an improper exercise of force against her people should be repelled. Therefore I, JOHN LETCHER, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, have thought proper to order all armed volunteer regiments or companies within this State forthwith to hold themselves in readiness for immediate orders, and upon the reception of this proclamation to report to the Adjutant-General of the State their organization and numbers, and prepare themselves for efficient service. Such companies as are not armed and equipped will report that fact, that they may be properly supplied.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Commonwealth to be affixed, this 17th day of April, 1861, and in the eighty-fifth year of the Commonwealth.

JOHN LETCHER.

Inferences, Analogies, and Sophisms

Time and changes in the condition and constitution of society may require occasional and corresponding modifications. One single object, if your provision attains it, will entitle you to the endless gratitude of society, that of restraining judges from usurping legislation. And with no body of men is this restraint more wanting than with the judges of what is commonly called our general government, but what I call our foreign department. They are practicing on the constitution by inferences, analogies, and sophisms, as they would an ordinary law. They do not seem aware that it is not even a constitution, formed by a single authority, and subject to a single superintendence and control, but that it is a compact of many independent powers, every single one of which claims an equal right to understand it, and to require its observance. However strong the cord of compact may be, there is a point of tension at which it will break. A few such doctrinal decisions, as barefaced as that of the Cohens, happening to bear immediately on two or three of the large States, may induce them to join in arresting the march of government, and in arousing the co-States to pay some attention to what is passing, to bring back the compact to its original principles, or to modify it legitimately by the expressed consent of the parties themselves, and not by the usurpation of their created agents. They imagine they can lead us into a consolidate government, while their road leads directly to its dissolution. This member of the government was at first considered as the most harmless and helpless of all its organs. But it has proved that the power of declaring what the law is, ad libitum, by sapping and mining, slyly and without alarm, the foundations of the constitution, can do what open force would not dare to attempt.

Thos. Jefferson to Edward Livingston, 25 March 1825.

Convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum

Will the baptized of Ireland shut their eyes to the light set ablaze by Saint Patrick? Will the baptized of Ireland stop up their ears to the truth of the Gospel that he preached? Will the baptized of Ireland turn their backs to the burning and pierced Heart that once ruled over every hearth? Is the prophet’s mournful lamentation so soon forgotten? “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord thy God”?

It may well be Ireland’s eleventh hour, but God can, even in these last moments, give faith to the unbelieving and rekindle faith in hearts grown cold and hard. “For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world: and this is the victory which overcameth the world, our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Sermon for Low Sunday, 8 April 2018, Dom Mark Kirby, O.S.B.

Adze-head

Robinson, Frederick Cayley; The Landing of Saint Patrick in Ireland; Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery.

Ticfa táilcend tar muir meircenn:
a bratt tollcend, a chrand cromchend:
a mías inairthiur a tigi:
fris[g]erat a múinter huili,
‘Amen, amen.’

Ticfat tailcind, conutsat ruama,
noifit cella, ceoltigi béndacha
ben[n]chopuir ili: fla[i]th himbachla.

Two years or three years before Patrick’s arrival, this is what they used to prophesy:–

Adzehead1 will come over a furious (?) sea;
His mantle head-holed, his staff crook-headed,
His dish in the east of his house.
All his household will answer
Amen, Amen!

Adzeheads will come, who will build cities,
Who will consecrate (?) churches, pinnacled music-houses,
Many conical caps (for belfries), a realm round croziers.

“So,” say they, “when these signs shall come our worship and our heathenism will be destroyed, and the faith and the belief will be magnified.” As, then, it was prophesied and figured, so it came to pass and was fulfilled.

— Bethu Phátraic (Vita tripartita Sancti Patricii).

Patrick (likewise his fellow clerics) is termed tálcend, a reference to his tonsure.

Dixit autem Dominus ad Abram: Egredere de terra tua, et de cognatione tua, et de domo patris tui, et veni in terram quam monstrabo tibi. Faciamque te in gentem magnam, et benedicam tibi, et magnificabo nomen tuum, erisque benedictus. Benedicam benedicentibus tibi, et maledicam maledicentibus tibi, atque in te benedicentur universæ cognationes terræ. Egressus est itaque Abram sicut præceperat ei Dominus, et ivit cum eo Lot: septuaginta quinque annorum erat Abram cum egrederetur de Haran. Tulitque Sarai uxorem suam, et Lot filium fratris sui, universamque substantiam quam possederant, et animas quas fecerant in Haran: et egressi sunt ut irent in terram Chanaan. Cumque venissent in eam, pertransivit Abram terram usque ad locum Sichem, usque ad convallem illustrem: Chananæus autem tunc erat in terra. Apparuit autem Dominus Abram, et dixit ei: Semini tuo dabo terram hanc. Qui ædificavit ibi altare Domino, qui apparuerat ei. Et inde transgrediens ad montem, qui erat contra orientem Bethel, tetendit ibi tabernaculum suum, ab occidente habens Bethel, et ab oriente Hai: ædificavit quoque ibi altare Domino, et invocavit nomen ejus.

Gen. xii. 1-8.

Among the Ruins

We were now treading that illustrious Island, which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish, if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses; whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona!

The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides by James Boswell; Tuesday, 19th October 1773: Inchkenneth, Icolmkill (Iona).

Witnessed

The certainty of the Christian faith ultimately rests on the fact that the human word of the apostles and bishops is the divine Word of salvation, not produced but rather witnessed by the human mediator (cf. 1 Thess 2:13).

Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, By What Authority?, First Things, 16 January 2018.

A Strange Form of Schism

Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan.

It is not only a risk of schism, but a certain kind of schism already exists in the Church. … We are witnessing today a strange form of schism. Externally, numerous ecclesiastics safeguard formal unity with the pope, at times for the good of their own career or out of a kind of papolatry. And at the same time they have broken their ties with Christ, the Truth, and with Christ, the true head of the Church. On the other hand there are ecclesiastics who are denounced as schismatics despite the fact they live in canonical peace with the pope and remain faithful to Christ, the Truth by assiduously promoting His Gospel of Truth. It is evident that those who are internally the true schismatics, in relation to Christ, make use of calumnies for the sole purpose of silencing the voice of Truth, by absurdly projecting their own state of internal schism on those ecclesiastics who, regardless of praise of rebuke, defend the divine truths. In fact, as Sacred Scripture says, the word of Divine Truth is not bound. Even if a number of high-ranking officials in the Church today temporarily obscure the truth of the doctrine of marriage and its perennial discipline, this doctrine and discipline will always remain unchangeable in the Church because the Church is not a human foundation, but a divine one.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider.

Weapon

Est Rosarium praecipue implorando Matris Dei patrocinio adversus hostes catholici nominis institutum.

Leo P.P. XIII., Salutaris ille spiritus precum, die XXIV. Decembris An. MDCCCLXXXIII.

Our Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula is a Catholic building built by our fathers to be a House of God, for the celebration of the holy Mass, for the praise of God and the saints.

The occupation of our cathedral by Protestants to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is therefore a profanation.

Indeed, the so-called Reformation was really a revolt: under the pretext of combatting abuses, Luther rebelled against the divine authority of the Catholic Church, denied numerous Truths of the Faith, abolished the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments, rejected the necessity of good works and the practice of Christian virtues. Finally, he attacked the veneration of the Virgin Mary and the saints, the religious life and monastic vows.

This terrible revolution was a great tragedy for Christian society and for the salvation of souls. And the Lutheran errors are still heresies today because the Truth is eternal.

Extracted from leaflet (original in French) distributed during youth protest of ceremony celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels.

Omnipotent Moral Busybodies

My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position [imposing “the good”] would act as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants. They might in some respects act even worse. Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under of robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some points be satiated; but those who torment us for their own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to heaven yet at the same time likely to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on the level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock.

A Hard Fate

City Hall, April 28, 1862.
To Flag-Officer D. G. Farragut, U. S. Flag-Ship Hartford:

Your communication of this morning is the first intimation I ever had that it was by your strict orders that the United States flag was attempted to be hoisted upon certain of our public edifices by officers sent or there to communicate with the authorities. The officers who approached me in your name disclosed no such orders and intimated no such design on your part, not would I have for a moment entertained the remotest suspicion that they could have been invested with power to enter such an errand while the negotiations for a surrender between you and the city authorities were pending. The interference of any force under your command, as long as those negotiations were not brought to a close, could not be viewed by us otherwise than as a flagrant violation of those courtesies, if not of the absolute rights, which prevail between belligerents under such circumstances. My views and sentiments with reference to such conduct remain unchanged. You now review the demands made in your former communication, and you insist on their being complied with unconditionally, under a threat of bombardment within forty-eight hours; and you notify me to remove the women and children from the city that they may be protected from your shells.

Sir, you can but know that there is no possible exit from this city for a population which still exceeds in number one hundred and forty thousand, and you must therefore be aware of the utter inanity of such a notification. Our women and children cannot escape from your shells, if it be your pleasure to murder them on a question of etiquette. But if they could, there are few among them who would consent to desert their families and their homes, and the graves of their relatives in so awful a moment. They would bravely stand the sight of your shells tearing up the graves of those who are so dear to them, and would deem that they died not ingloriously by the side of the tombs erected by their piety to the memory of departed relatives.

You are not satisfied with the peaceful possession of an undefended city, opposing no resistance to your guns, because of its bearing its hard fate with something of manliness and dignity, and you wish to humble and disgrace us by the performance of an act against which our nature rebels. This satisfaction you cannot expect to obtain at our hands.

We will stand your bombardment, unarmed and undefended as we are. The civilized world will consign to indelible infamy the heart that will conceive the dead and the hand that will dare to consummate it.

Respectfully,
John T. Monroe,
Mayor of New Orleans.