Impovershed Landscape: For Whom the Bells Toll Not....Anti-Witchcraft Catholic:
May Become Saint....Picture of Holy Mass: His Excellency Bishop James D. Conley...It Just Makes Sense: Bishop Promulgates Norms for Tabernacle Placement
Recently while visiting a cemetery I found, in my mother's old 1950's Marian Missal, a beautiful Litany for the Faithful Departed which I prayed for my parents, my relatives and all lying in repose. Note that the missal stated that this litany was for private use only (and is not one of the official litanies). Ever since blog contributor Larry Bethel urged us to pray the Litany of Saints for Rogation Days (see Post #78) I have been fascinated with the different Litanies. I find them to be beautiful, meditative and edifying. Venite Missa Est! will feature the various litanies over the coming weeks. Enjoy (and pray!)
Litany of LoretoLord, have mercy on us. (Christ have mercy on us.)
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, (have mercy on us.)
Seat of wisdom,
Refuge of sinners,
Queen of Virgins,
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. (That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.)
Let us pray.
Why do you so cower and cling, and fear a fall to that placid pool?
What but ignorance could hold you back? Let me speak to you:
Become a meal for that gaudy trout and you’ll be a part of him!
You might soon be a splash of white pure on his ventral fin,
Or a bright red spot, or a purple ring, there on his brilliant side.
But even if you’d never be more than one of his worm-like markings,
You’d still be raised unthinkably high up nature’s unscalable ladder.
So jump, little worm, and do jump quickly! What I say cannot be wrong,
For as I’m now urging you, so God once urged me.
--- James B. Spencer, 1951
June 2009By R. Kenton Craven
Dr. R. Kenton Craven describes himself as a scholar-in-exile in Sparta, Tennessee.
A world without bells was unimaginable, but in the grim modern process of unimagining, the unimaginable happened when I wasn’t looking. The railroad locomotives and their bells disappeared, to be replaced by the rude blatting of diesel horns; and churches gave up their real bells for electronic chimes. Bell towers were abandoned as unsafe or primitive, and new suburban churches simply ignored 1,500 years of Church history, from the times when the monks of Ireland marked the liturgical hours first with hand bells and then with larger ones, which they had to bury when the Danes came. From something like cow bells — which have also mostly vanished, soon to be replaced by microchips — the monks’ hand bells developed into the great cast bells that began to define the sacred time of Europe and beyond. Then, for more than a thousand years, Europe was not only the Faith, it was the daily sense of the hours marked by prayer, and even the humblest of churches strove to have the best and most melodious of bells. Bells meant prayer; bells meant the holy; bells meant the Church universal; and more, to borrow a phrase from Belloc, they meant "the physical network upon which the soul depends."
Testimony to that need is ancient. Human beings have been striking wood and metal as far back as known, doubtless for various purposes, but most often in connection with religion. Some of the bells from the Orient seem clunky and have little tone. Apparently, the first hand bells used by Irish monks were little more than cow bells. But monasticism, as it came out of the desert and into Europe, required larger bells, and a proud art of great sophistication grew. At present in the West, only a few major church bell-makers exist, mostly in Poland and Russia, though Verdin’s and McShane continue the tradition in the U.S.
When one reads the history and literature of the Christian West from the sixth century onward, one is struck by the omnipresence of bells. As bell-making grew with Christian art and architecture, bells grew larger and the making of many great tones required both wizardry and tonnage, until the point that a bell commissioned by the Tsars weighed 220 tons, and required a warning before it was rung to keep the populace from thinking the apocalypse was upon them. (By comparison, the largest church bell in the West, in Cologne, weighs 27 tons; the great bell of St. Peter’s, nine tons). Simultaneously, through the cunning of metallurgists, bells were developed to exact tones, and groups of bells became veritable orchestras. Bell-ringers became prized as artists, and were even invested with the minor order of ostiarius. Today, here and there, the great bells ring out the monastic hours with soul-moving force, as at Abbaye Fontgombault, where the Benedictines keep the ancient rule and liturgy, prompting one visitor, then-Cardinal Ratzinger, to say, "Now that is the Catholic Church!"
Despite some silly controversies in the 16th century over the "baptism of the bells," instigated by those who hate "the physical network on which the soul depends," Catholics have felt the mystery of the bells to be tied up with the mysteries of the Faith, which gave rise to the practice of the blessing and even naming of bells, for one blesses and names what is beloved of the soul.
In 1991, I awoke in Kuwait to the sounds of a dozen mosques roaring that Allah is Awesome! and all must come to prayer. The shock ran up and down my spine. In several countries, I lived six years among the Muslims and daily felt the powerful presence of a serious religion that knows that the consciousness of man requires constant reminders of prayer. Even in the Arab countries that permit a few churches enclosed by walls, no bells are permitted. Islam instinctively understands the religious truth that time must be defined as sacred time, for their muezzins call their faithful to prayer five times a day, wailing away even during a sermon by Pope John Paul II. No phony ecumenism for them; they know that minarets and bells speak different and absolutely opposed languages.
The Protestant Reformers sensed it too, and so Zwingli and others were much exercised to ban them altogether from the bleak Protestant landscape. So, too, atheists and humanists. During the French Revolution, the ideologues who murdered thousands of priests and nuns and sacked the churches and convents did not neglect to melt nationalized church bells into metal for cannon. In the U.S., fellow ideologue Thomas Paine wanted to eliminate those Romish bells because they meant Europe — and Europe, of course, meant the Faith. Later, the rage of revolution would turn against the ten thousand bells of Russia — but about that, more anon.
After Vatican II, even the hand bells of the Mass disappeared from our sanctuaries, as the boundaries of the sanctuaries themselves dissolved into the misty Land of Nuance. I have heard of Catholic priests, the sort who like to be called Mister or Presider, telling their flocks to eschew the Sign of the Cross as potentially offensive to "those of other belief systems," and I suspect that they, too, would prefer the electronic chimes set to the Harry Potter theme or Buddhist gongs. Shall we call it the New Puritanism? As the New Oxford Review’s Michael S. Rose demonstrates with great clarity in Ugly as Sin: Why They Changed Our Churches from Sacred Places to Meeting Spaces and How We Can Change Them Back Again (re-released in paperback this year), American neo-Protestant theology translates churches into suburban meeting halls without aspiring bell towers or bells. No bells, no calling of souls to the highest.
Yet Christian bells do call to us. Dolefully, joyfully, peremptorily, insistently, grandly, slowly, powerfully, undeniably. A bell requires silence; it speaks out of the silence that surrounds it. A bell must be rung with human hands, and ring into something, and it depends on a landscape and a faithful body of hearers for its fulfillment. In a Catholic world, grace flows through God’s created things, not the least of which is sound.
Recently, I have been re-reading with great pleasure the careful fictions of Maurice Baring who, like all Catholic novelists of the 20th century, faced the problem of how to bring the reader into contact with a Catholic sense of reality without straying into didacticism. In one of his best novels, Cat’s Cradle, in which Providence and chance often seem to trade places unexpectedly, the very secular English woman Blanche Clifford marries into an Italian Catholic family, unfortunately to a cruel and despotic Count. The setting is not propitious for her awaking to grace. But early in the novel, the catholicized Roman landscape momentarily breaks in upon her selfish preoccupations: "All at once the church bells began to ring. She seemed to be in a crystal kingdom of ringing sound. The man behind the donkey stopped and took off his hat. It was the Ave Maria."
Suddenly, all around her, people are silent and immobile. And hardly had the Angelus ceased, when she heard the sound of another bell:
Finally, guided through more years by a holy priest, it is Blanche’s turn. Lying ill, she asks for the last sacraments, and "she thought of three things: the procession of the Viaticum she had seen years before in Rome, the death of her Uncle Charles in Seville, and his last words, and the evening when Rose Mary [her step-daughter] was given the last Sacraments in Mansfield Street.... The priest talked of a ‘sick call’; she felt that it was a call that had been sounding all her life: she was now answering it." The sounds of bells had been a grace that called her from one way of life to another, and through them Baring is able to preach more than a dozen sermons.
Years before he wrote his novels, but after his conversion, Baring had written his autobiography, The Puppet Show of Memory, a brilliant portrait of the years before the First World War and his life as a journalist in them. The concluding chapters give us priceless portraits of Russia before the revolution, one of which is the birth of a bell in a Christian culture. The full portrait requires reading to get the full flavor, but "on the day the bell was to be," Baring finds the entire village jammed into the bazaar for the ceremony, in which two priests and a deacon lead the crowd in a majestic procession from the church accompanied by plainsong in deep Russian bass voices.
In a few years, Baring’s suspicions were more than realized and, throughout Russia, churches were destroyed or turned to other uses, and the ten thousand bells of Rus silenced by the forces that hate God and truth. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, already new bells were being cast, and old bells that had been hidden were brought back joyfully. In some places the bells had been buried, but when the people dug for them, they found the remains of murdered counter-revolutionaries, and left the bells with them.
Catholicism will not unashamedly live its full cultural life again until a Catholic people reclaims its ancient liberty in the building of church towers, and the making and hearing of bells that remember the monastic hours and the Angelus. In England and many European countries, the landscape rings not with bells, but with the raucous Islamic call to prayer. In America we have neither; we have an insidious modernist denial of the thunderous pealing our bodies and souls need.
CISA (Catholic Information Service for Africa) News 14 July 2009 http://www.cisanewsafrica.org/story.asp?ID=4016
Pretoria — A Catholic who was killed 19 years ago for rejecting his people's belief in witchcraft could become South Africa's first saint.
The Diocese of Tzaneen has completed the first phase of the cause for beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Benedict Daswa. The phase took five years to complete.
The final documents addressed to Archbishop Angelo Amato SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for Causes of Saints, were signed on July 2 by Bishop Hugh Slattery MSC, Bishop of Tzaneen, Sr Sally Duigan OLSH, Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Chancellor of the Diocese, Fr Andre Bohas MSC, Postulator of the Cause and Fr Eddie O'Neill SDB, the Promoter of Justice.
The documents consist of over 850 pages of testimonies of reliable witnesses to the life and death of the Servant of God. The original copy, which was sealed first, remains in the archives of the Diocese of Tzaneen. The transcript copy and public copy were then sealed and are to be taken to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome, through the the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop James Green.
The Transcript and Public Copies will remain sealed until the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approves a Roman Postulator to proceed with the next phase of the process. Information about the Servant of God and the Cause may now be made known to the public.
It is thought that Benedict Daswa led a holy life and became a genuine martyr for the faith.
The next stage will be to prepare prayer cards and a novena to enable people to pray for favours through the intercession of the Servant of God.
A short biography and DVD will be produced to make Benedict Daswa more widely known here in South Africa and in other African countries, as a role model for all and a great witness to the faith.
According to a biographical note published by the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, Benedict grew up in a traditionalist family who belonged to the small Lemba tribe who live mainly among the Venda people in the Limpopo Province. He became a Catholic while training to become a primary school teacher.
Benedict soon realized that witchcraft was against his Catholic faith. From then on in his private life and also in public he took a strong stand against witchcraft because he said it led to the killing of innocent people accused of witchcraft activities.
He also rejected the use of muti or medicines for protection against evil or for success in sport or other activities. It was this stand against witchcraft which eventually led to his death. A few days after refusing to give money for the purpose of smelling out witches, he was stoned and bludgeoned to death on February 2, 1990. He was just four months short of his 44th birthday.
Picture:Holy Mass Celebrated by His Excellency Bishop James D. Conley
Submitted by Luke Headley
Previously as Monsignor, Bishop Conley served St. Anthony as both celebrant (alternating with Fr. Jarrod Lies) and as liaison for the EFLR community of St. Anthony to Bishop Jackels.
Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M Cap., ordained the Most Rev. James D. Conley as the new auxiliary bishop on May 30, 2008 the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, at Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
Burns and Allen, an American comedy duo consisting of George Burns and his wife, Gracie Allen, worked together as a comedy team in vaudeville, films, radio. and television and achieved substantial success over three decades from the mid twenties to the late 50's.
Enjoy this....just for fun.
Gracie: You mean the one who died?
Gracie: Oh, he's fine now.
The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to Heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.
Sr. Lucia dos Santos
Bishop Promulgates Norms for Tabernacle Placement
By Bishop John M. D’Arcy, Diocese of Fort Wayne- South Bend
To Priests, Deacons, Religious, and to All the Faithful,
The presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is at the center of our faith and of the devotional life of our Catholic people.
In recent years, the place of the tabernacle in our churches has become a source of controversy. This should not be. The Eucharist, whether we are referring to its celebration or to the place of reservation, should always be a means of unity and communion, and never of division.
The place of the tabernacle in our church should reflect our faith in the real presence of Christ, and should always be guided by church documents.
My experience is that our people, with their instinct of faith, have always desired that the tabernacle be central and visible. They find it confusing when the tabernacle in their churches is not visible, and if possible, central.
Because of my responsibility to foster the devotional life of our people, and to keep it sound, I have asked our Office of Worship to prepare norms for the placement and design of the tabernacle in this diocese. These norms were brought before the Presbyteral Council, the Liturgical Commission and the Environment and Arts Committee. Suitable refinements and improvements were prepared.
These norms are promulgated to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend on June 14, 2009, the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of the Lord. They will be effective on Aug. 4, 2009, the feast of St. John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of priests, in whose honor the present Year for Priests has been dedicated by the Holy Father Benedict XVI.
I urge all priests to follow these norms carefully and completely, and most importantly — to foster devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Most Reverend John M. D’Arcy