Saturday, 22 February 2014

Saturday things

It is Saturday.  I don't know about you , dear reader, but for me Saturdays need handling with especial care.  If I am not careful Saturday night can be a shocker, as if something is out to ruin the Lord's day that follows.  Saturday can be too worldly.  Saturday can be like a faint glimmer of Holy Saturday, an empty and mischievous day, seductively "normal" and unspiritual. 

However, never forget it is Our Lady's day.  It is almost as if she held the fort whilst Our Lord was harrowing Hell on that first Holy Saturday. And she continues to hold the fort when trips have to be made to the supermarket, bathrooms need cleaning, I get preoccupied with the football, the car needs cleaning, the blather on the radio becomes so tiresome.....

Being without Original Sin, didn't mean her life was an easy one.  The flight into Egypt and the losing of the Child Jesus for three days attest to that.  That superabundance of grace meant that a superabundance of heroic virtue was expected of her.  Heroic virtue that would lead her to Calvary.  Heroic virtue that meant she could stand at the foot of the cross and not faint away. Heroic virtue that allowed her to endure her separation from her Son after the Ascension.  Heroic virtue in her care for all humanity.

I've been meditating on how her life with Jesus and Joseph in Nazareth would have strengthened her and enlarged and magnified her already Immaculate Heart.  What tiresome irritations came her way?  How did she respond to the petty things in life that she was probably subjected to?

Was she ever short changed in the market?
Did traders ever fleece her with shoddy products?
Did people lie to her?
Did other mothers say derogatory things about "her Boy"?
Did people gossip about her and Joseph?
Was there a particularly odious tax collector in Nazareth?
Was there an inexplicable and unmovable musty damp patch on the wall of Joseph's workshop?
Did they live next door to a wretched foul mouthed and obnoxious drunk?

V. Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata.
R. Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.

V. Let me praise the, most holy Virgin.
R.  Give me strength against thine enemies.

Oh yes, she had enemies.  The enemies of the Immaculate Heart are our enemies too.  We have our own enemies aswell, ones that we allow to walk all over us if we don't admit to our own concupiscence.  However, it is her enemies that are the most subtle and we would do well to look out for them and imitate her response to them.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

broken and whole

I do not doubt the validity of the new Mass, I wish to make that clear.  Indeed, I believe, probably unintentionally Bugnini and his friends pulled off a masterstroke.  They "invented" a liturgy that manages to "subsist" entirely within the Catholic Church, be fully orthodox, yet embrace an "enlightenment" mind-set that should be acceptable to any protestant (provided they can come to accept the Real Presence).  It was a great act of ecumenicism, there can probably be none greater or with a greater cost, we have a "protestant friendly" liturgy, they are welcome into the fold and they will find a form of worship there that will not terrify them.  The fact that the enlightenment is bogus is neither here nor there, we will not be judged on our understanding of metaphysics, but we will be judged on our love.

One aspect of the new Mass, does however deeply distrub me and I ask for help if any of my readers can help me out with this.  I have never felt comfortable at the "ecce Agnus Dei" when the priest holds up the broken Host to the congregation, it seems especially unfortunate when a priest decides to just hold up half the Host and doesn't try to conceal its brokenness.  When I have asked priests why this is done, they say it is because scripture says so.

[In the older rite, the sacred host is broken for the comingling (and this makes sense), it is not displayed before everyone in this broken state, at the "ecce Agnus Dei" a complete Host is elevated.]

But does it actually say in scripture that Christ's body is broken for us?  Not if we read John's Gospel (19:36) For these things were done that the scripture might be fulfilled: You shall not break a bone of Him.

What about what is written in 1Cor 11:24, the earliest account of the Last Supper?  It depends on the translation you read.  In the Douay it says, This is my body which shall be delivered for you.  This do for the commemoration of me.  There is no mention of the work "broken" there.

Then I find a sermon by Mgr Knox (who is no fan of the Douay and was quite happy to go beyond the Vulgate when reserching scripture).  I read this and I am even more disturbed:

Curiously, no one can tell us with certainty what words Our Lord used when he, the first Chritsian Priest, stood there in the Cenacle offering his own flesh to his disciples. [...]  "This is my body on your behalf" - the phrase was a  mysterious one, and it was natural copyists should try to fill it out and make sense of it, some writing "my body which is being broken for you", and others "my body which is to be given up for you".  But it looks as if Our Lord simply said "my body on your behalf".

No one can deny that He broke the bread.  That is not the issue.  That the bread is broken so that we can each individualy receive in entirity, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Saviour is as it is.  I am simply disturbed that the emphasis in the new rite is on the broken and not on the whole.  And I have been disturbed even before I knew of the existence of the old rite.

When I attend the new rite, often I simply don't look.

Isn't unity everything?

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Big Bang Theory

One of my classes has been very persistent that I watch the Big Bang Theory.  I have resisted all the bribery on offer to let them show me clips from YouTube at the end of the lesson, but finally one of them has thrust the box set into my hands and told me to watch in the comfort of my own home.  They do genuinely want to find out what a "real Physicist" thinks of the show. This weekend I  obliged.

As far as I can make out, the show involves two post grad Physicist who share a flat, there is a very attractive girl across the hallway who sells cheesecake for a living.  They are extremely intelligent but socially inept and desperate for meaningful sexual encounters.  There seem to be two types of laughs available.  Firstly some very sharp one-liners that seem to be a common feature of the best of the TV shows from the States.  I like this sort of humour, where the tongue is put to good use by being completely subservient to the intellect.  Secondly there seem to be laughs at the inadequacies of the protagonists. These are mainly due high end autistic spectrum behaviour (admittedly quite common in Physicists) causing sheer incompetence when amorous feelings start to surface. I'm less keen on this type of humour and for me it simply doesn't ring true.

Casting my mind back to the time when I resided nearly exclusively in the company of Physicists I simply do not recall this level of sexual frustration.  Well certainly I didn't notice any, but perhaps that is because I'm a Physicist.  I can remember one particularly pleasant evening in an Oxbridge post graduate college (the post grad colleges have the best food). Our host was an expert in muons. Now I was at the height of my anti-fermion prejudice, bosons rocked my world and I had little interest in muons or any other type of fermion.  However I had to admit that it was mesmerising being in the company of someone who really knew his stuff, who listened to our questions and replied like to them like we were sentient beings capable of understanding what he was saying.  My colleague who was also listening intently, sighed and whispered to me, "wow, this is better than sex".  I think this was the first time a Physicist had ever actually admitted to me to having sexual experiences, well she must have done because she had two children. 



Now it has to be admitted that female physicists are a bit of a rare breed and certainly not seen as sexual beings by the male of the sub-species.  Perhaps, having my formative years in the company of men who did not view me sexually has had a deep impact on me.  I do believe that there is something very special when close friendships are formed between the sexes that are simply not sexual.  We have different ways of approaching problems, there is a complementarity between us, we are different, not sex-less, and we work very well with each other.  Sometimes I wish more people were like the Physicists I knew and were less slaves to biological urges and less obsessed with biological function and could see some underlying hidden attributes and complimentary gifts men and women bring to the world. I'm sure in the long run procreation and child rearing would be less fraught.



So no, the general premise of the show that these guys may understand the Big Bang, but are somehow stymied by and incapable of experiencing a "big bang", is not one I can go with.

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However this is not the review I will take back to my class.....

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And the set designers need telling that no self respecting Physicist would have periodic table t-shirts or shower curtains.  That is Chemistry; a small, unimportant backwater of science that basically relies on Physics to make it make any sense.  Physics few of them understand, because actually the Physicist don't understand it either.