Wednesday, August 29, 2012

a word against careless use of the Sacrament

More from Thomas a Kempis:

But greatly must we mourn and lament over our lukewarmness and negligence, that we are not drawn by greater affection to become partakers of Christ, in whom all the hope and the merit of those that are to be saved consist. For He Himself is our sanctification and redemption. He is the consolation of pilgrims and the eternal fruition of the Saints. Therefore it is grievously to be lamented that many so little consider this health-giving mystery, which maketh heaven glad and preserveth the whole world. Alas for the blindness and hardness of man's heart, that he considereth not more this unspeakable gift, and even slippeth down through the daily use, into carelessness.

The Imitation of Christ, Book Four

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

the wondrous grace of the Eucharist

O God, invisible Creator of the world, how wondrously dost Thou work with us, how sweetly and graciously Thou dealest with Thine elect, to whom Thou offerest Thyself to be received in this Sacrament! For this surpasseth all understanding.

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Monday, August 27, 2012

from Dracula

"It is the eve of St. George's Day.  Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway?  Do you know where you are going, and what you are going to?"  She was in such evident distress that I tried to comfort her, but without effect.  Finally she went down on her knees and implored me not to go; at least to wait a day or two before starting.  It was all very ridiculous, but I did not feel comfortable.  However, there was business to be done, and I could allow nothing to interfere with it.  I therefore tried to raise her up, and said, as gravely as I could, that I thanked her, but my duty was imperative, and that I must go.  She then rose and dried her eyes, and taking a crucifix from her neck offered it to me.  I did not know what to do, for, as an English Churchman, I have been taught to regard such things as in some measure idolatrous, and yet it seemd so ungracious to refuse an old lady meaning so well and in such a state of mind.  She saw, I suppose, the doubt in my face, for she put the rosary round my neck, and said, "For your mother's sake," and went out of the room. 

Bram Stoker, Dracula

more precious than the greatest shrine on earth

From The Imitation of Christ:
Many run to diverse places to visit the memorials of departed Saints, and rejoice to hear of their deeds and to look upon the beautiful buildings of their shrines. And behold, Thou art present here with me, O my God, Saint of Saints, Creator of men and Lord of the Angels. Often in looking at those memorials men are moved by curiosity and novelty, and very little fruit of amendment is borne away, especially when there is so much careless trifling and so little true contrition. But here in the Sacrament of the Altar, Thou art present altogether, My God, the Man Christ Jesus; where also abundant fruit of eternal life is given to every one soever that receiveth Thee worthily and devoutly. But to this no levity draweth, no curiosity, nor sensuality, only steadfast faith, devout hope, and sincere charity.

Thomas a Kempis, 1380-1471

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Preparing to receive the Eucharist

A passage from the fifteenth century:
Behold, Noah, that just man, laboured for a hundred years in building the ark, that he might be saved with the few; and I, how shall I be able in one hour to prepare myself to receive the Builder of the world with reverence? Moses, Thy servant, Thy great and especial friend, made an ark of incorruptible wood, which also he covered with purest gold, that he might lay up in it the tables of the law, and I, a corruptible creature, shall I dare thus easily to receive Thee, the Maker of the Law and the Giver of life? Solomon, the wisest of the kings of Israel, was seven years building his magnificent temple to the praise of Thy Name, and for eight days celebrated the feast of its dedication, offered a thousand peace offerings, and solemnly brought up the Ark of the Covenant to the place prepared for it, with the sound of trumpets and great joy, and I, unhappy and poorest of mankind, how shall I bring Thee into my house, who scarce know how to spend half an hour in devotion? And oh that it were even one half hour worthily spent!

The Imitation of Christ-Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)

early church reverence for the eucharist

When Lutherans advocate and practice traditional reverent care for all clear and discernible particles of the consecrated bread and wine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, are they relapsing into a thirteenth century vintage scholasticism rejected by the Blessed Reformer?  This accusation has been in the air now for several years, and has not been recanted; so it still must be answered and thrown down anew with every opportunity, for the sake of the Gospel and of those who might be impressed by such as make these allegations. 

Certainly such care and reverence is not a departure from the theology and practice of the Reformer himself, as has been amply shown here and elsewhere.  But is it even the case that it arises only out of late medieval theology and rubricism?  We might not be so quick to entertain such ideas if we go back a millenium earlier, and give a fair hearing to the early church. 

And so, for example, from the third century, let us consider these words of Origen, who gives witness to the prevailing practice of his day.
You who are accustomed to attending the divine mysteries know how, when you receive the body of the Lord, you guard it with all care and reverence lest any small part should fall from it, lest any piece of the consecrated gift be lost.

As further food for thought, I suggest that this witness, in itself, implies the likelihood that this type of practice and level of care for the Sacrament predates the third century, and goes back into the silent age of the first few centuries, the age when the Sacrament was considered such an awesome mystery that it was considered best for the most part not to even speak or write about it publically, and comports with the care intimated in the New Testament itself, where, eg., our Lord instructs after the miraculous feeding in John 6,  "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

the essence of typography

I like how Robert Bringhurst, in his book, The Elements of Typographic Style, sums up the art of typography (page 11).
Typography is the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual form, and thus with an independent existence.  Its heartwood is calligraphy-the dance, on a tiny stage, of the living, speaking hand-and its roots reach into living soil, though its branches may be hung each year with new machines.  So long as the root lives, typography remains a source of true delight, true knowledge, true surprise.