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.

Liberty

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary holy card, Maison Bouasse-Lebel, 19th century.

I am quite unable to understand the fuss made by High Church people on this matter. To begin with, what have they got to do with it? No one asks them to use our devotions, although a great many do use them, expurgated, revised, and corrected. Our friends seem to be under the impression that every Catholic is supposed to know about, to possess, and to use, every book of prayers or meditations published by any other Catholic. One might as well assert that every Anglican is bound to buy, and use, all devotional books found in Masters’ shop in Bond-street. A great many Catholics get on very comfortably without any books at all, and this for the simple and sufficient reason that they cannot read. And a great many more cannot afford to purchase such books, and are content with one Prayer Book, such as the Garden of the Soul. I myself, outside Mass and Office, am content with it, and use the copy given to me by an Italian priest at Benares in 1861. Outsiders seem ignorant of our freedom in such matters. The late Canon Oakeley, in his reply to the Eirenicon (which was published before that of Newman), pointed this out. Dr. Pusey would stipulate, said Oakeley, exemption from the obligation of adopting certain expressions of devotion towards the Blessed Virgin, but, added the Canon, “were he [Pusey] one of ourselves, he would come to know” that “no such obligation rests upon” Catholics. “I do not think,” said Oakeley, “that those who are external to us, have any just idea of the room which is allowed us for the free play of personal preferences, which do not clash either in form or spirit with the faith of the Church. . .” And, again “. . . Nothing that I know of would involve in well-grounded suspicion of disloyalty to the Church a Catholic who, while placing no restriction on the liberty of others, should as a matter of taste prefer the more measured language of our Liturgy and Offices on the subject in question, to that in which more ardent temperaments . . . might find a more congenial expression of their devotion.” And Father Lockhart reminded Pusey that the Church tolerated any amount of bad taste. How, indeed, could an Universal Church made up of all nations, peoples, and tongues, do otherwise ? When Pusey complained of a well-known book, The Glories of Mary, Newman replied that he had never read it. I have never read, and have never seen it but once in my life. Others may derive great edification from it, hut what Catholic supposes that every Catholic is obliged to acquire it, or use it ? And with regard to a foreign writer named Oswald, from whom Pusey quoted, neither Newman nor Oakeley had ever heard his name, and it turned out that the book to which Pusey objected had been for some years on the Roman Index.

Oakeley, too, pointed out that the most customary and popular of all devotions connected with our Lady are the Angelus and the Rosary, and added: “It is on this type, rather than on that of the ‘Glories of Mary’ that the ideas of our people are formed.” Pusey found great fault with some of Faber’s writings, and, for myself; I have, possibly to my great loss, never been able to read Faber, although I know that his writings have afforded, and afford, great spiritual edification to countless numbers of Catholics. Not only so, but to many non-Catholics. One Anglican vicar, an intimate friend of my own, must by this time know all Faber’s books nearly by heart. And I recollect, many years ago, lending The Creator and the Creature to a staunch Presbyterian lady who, after a time, sent me a new copy of the book, saying she should keep the old one, as she derived so much spiritual profit from its perusal.

When I lived in Kensington, I met one day in the Cromwell-road an old Oxford friend, an Anglican clergyman. I invited him to accompany me to Benediction at the Oratory, but he declined, not because he objected to Benediction, but because he disliked the Litany of Loreto. I remarked that, if he were a Catholic, he would be quite free to say any prayers he pleased during Benediction, and if he should prefer other devotions to the Litany, when sung, he could substitute such, just as we often see people telling their beads, or clergymen saying office, while the Benediction service is going on. Once, in a country house in Yorkshire, I had as fellow-guest the late Father Jerome Vaughan, and one Sunday after Benediction someone asked him if he liked the music used? To which he replied that he had not paid attention to it, as he had been engaged in asking a particular favour from St. Joseph. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and Catholics in Popular Devotions are not tied and bound to the frigid formalism of the excellent English of the Book of Common Prayer.

The Tablet, 1 January 1898, p. 9.

O Rosary That Recalled My Tear

Close-up of the Spanish colonial-style crucifix.
Close-up of the Spanish colonial-style crucifix.

A phaidrín do dhúisg mo dhéar,
ionmhain méar do bhitheadh ort:
ionmhain cridhe fáilteach fial
’gá raibhe riamh gus a nocht.

Dá éag is tuirseach atáim,
an lámh má mbítheá gach n-uair,
nach cluinim a beith i gclí
agus nach bhfaicim í uaim.

O rosary that recalled my tear,
dear was the finger in my sight,
that touched you once, beloved the heart
of him who owned you till tonight.

I grieve the death of him whose hand
you did entwine each hour of prayer;
my grief that it is lifeless now
and I no longer see it there.

Lament of Aithbhreac inghean Coirceadail, to her husband Niall Óg (mac Thorcuil) MacNeill of Gigha, who was likely constable of Castle Sween in Knapdale in the 1470s. Composed in Classical Gaelic syllabic metre, and attuned to the traditions of bardic elegy, it is found in the Book of the Dean of Lismore.

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!