Monthly Archives: July 2007

Translator = Traitor, Part 17 Zillion

Geez. If you can’t believe Carmina Gadelica….

It’s been a long time since I looked at Carmina Gadelica, a book of hymns, prayers, and sayings from the (Catholic) Scottish highlands and the (Protestant and Catholic) Hebrides. I’m reasonably sure that none of the reprints I’ve seen have included the Scottish Gaelic. Apparently the original edition (now handily digitized on did. This makes it a lot more useful, but it also reveals certain… interesting… translation choices.

For example, our dear Mr. Carmichael likes to call things “rune”. “Rune Before Prayer”, for example. But what word here is being translated as “rune”?

Rann. Which is not only a lot older word than those punk Viking settlements, but also simply means “stave, stanza” or “quatrain”.

Then we have “Rune of the Muthairn”. What word is he translating as “rune” now?

Duan. Which is another perfectly normal word for “poem”, although the connotation is a more lyric one than just “rann”.

*roll eyes*

You get other interesting choices, too. In “Bless, O Chief of Generous Chiefs”, the prayer for protection includes every “brownie” in the English. In the Gaelic it’s “gruagach”, a very interesting word. Literally it means something like “hairy” or “long-haired”. Depending on the circumstances, it can mean a beautiful longhaired girl, a powerful longhaired old wizard, or a really big and bad-tempered brownie type. The prayer is not against happy little housefairies, in other words. 🙂 The prayer also asks for assistance against other Scottish monsters probably better known today: the glaistig, bean-nighe, fuath, and other bonechilling critters. (“Greann”, translated as “siren” here, apparently means “grim and surly” by connotation, though it’s literally something more like “bristly and hairy”. This is highly ironic, as in modern Irish, the word spelled “greann” means “fun”. “Uruisg” is another word for a brownie, although it usually has a more friendly connotation than here.) There’s nothing wrong about the translation, but it’s a lot more interesting (for those of us who like monster lore, anyway) to know the specifics.

The other rather unamusing thing is that, now that I know more about general European Catholic customs, these straaaaange exotic sayings seem even less exotic and weird than they did in comparison to normal Old English healing prayers and poems. The Rune… er… Verse Before Prayer, for instance, is just a folk version of the invitatory psalm/prayer said before praying the Hours, which has bled onto praying the Rosary and other popular prayers in many countries. It’s a bit more complicated than “Lord, open my lips”, but… *roll eyes* …ooh, biggie dealie. There is also a very elaborate explanation that some people sing it, some people say it; just as some people like to pray in a quiet small room, and some people like to pray out loud outside, where nobody can hear them. Ah, soooooo different from the way ordinary mortals everywhere pray!

There’s a fine line between talking up your subject with enthusiasm and making it sound special, and talking about your subject as if it has no connection to normal human beings and near-universal European customs. I do sympathize with the love of purple prose, but…. this is exactly the sort of thing which leads to people deciding that the Scottish country people were all secretly pagans, or Gnostics, or what-have-you. This has been aided, of course, by people circulating versions without all those nasty hymns to Jesus. *roll eyes again*

So yes, this book is full of litanies and prayers and hymns and poems. Some sayings and prayers probably cross the line to superstition, and some are difficult to understand; they may represent customs or genres that don’t really exist anymore. But on the whole, it shows us the very sane, lively, and simple Christian faith life of the Hebrides people, as displayed in their oral literature.

Carmina Gadelica is a fascinating collection. But clearly, it’s important to have the side-by-side translation version if you want to do any serious thinking about it.

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Love and Whisky is full of any number of good things. One is the (sadly unindexed) book Popular Songs of Ireland by our old friend Thomas Crofton Croker. This very interesting book is divvied up into chapters on various song topics, and includes a good number of lyrics for songs you may only know as tunes. “St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning” is more than just a name!

Anyway, this wonderful book has a wonderful song in it called “Love and Whisky”. It goes to the tune of “Bobbin Joan”. I’ve seen this tune name before in old books, so I figured it would be easy to Google. Not so! Apparently, the Scottish players call it “Bob and Joan” or “Bob and Joan’s”, and the Irish?

That well-known tune “The Butterfly”!

So yes, if you want to sing a slip jig, here goes! You’ll have to munge the scansion a bit to fit the current version of the tune, but mostly, you’ll just need a lot of breath control. 🙂

Love and whisky both,
Rejoice an honest fellow,
Unripe joys of life
Love and whisky mellow.
Both the head and heart
Set in palpitation;
(From) both I’ve often found
A mighty sweet sensation.

Love and whisky’s joys,
Let us gaily twist ’em,
In the thread of life,
Faith, we can’t resist ’em.
(Repeat to fit tune?)

But love’s jealous pang,
In heartache oft we find it;
Whisky, in its turn,
A headache leaves behind it.
Thus, of love or drink,
We curse th’enchanted cup, sir;
All its charms forswear,
Then take another sup, sir.


Love and whisky can
To anything persuade us;
No other power we fear
That ever can invade us.
Should others dare intrude,
They’ll find our lads so frisky,
By none can be subdued,
Excepting love and whisky.

REF 2:
May the smiles of love
Cheer our lads so clever;
And, with whisky, boys,
We’ll drink King George for ever.

(Repeat to fit tune?)

I think this is a good solid song. The “King George” refrain may, of course, be modified to suit current tastes also; but since this was a favorite of the Irish Volunteers…. “No other power we fear” might work better as “Fear no other power”; “Should others dare intrude” might work as “And should others intrude”.


Apparently there are a good few other old songs to the tune if you Google around (“Bobbing Joan” is another name), but a couple of those three hundred year old ones are incredibly bawdy! (And no, not just talking about the old days. Even in today’s jaded times. Even that chick at the Renfair who thinks it’s so cute to sing certain limericks in public to all comers wouldn’t sing these. Hooboy.)

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Blessed Elisabetta Hesselblad: Action Saint!

The Vatican’s looking into whether it can accept a rather unusual miracle. They usually like the healing stuff, because miraculous healing unexplainable by science is a pretty straightforward thing to investigate and prove. You just hire a bunch of House, M.D. type doctors and let them do it. Easy.

However, you do sometimes get the more action-oriented miracles. For example, there was the saint who was called upon for intercession by a Chilean submarine guy, who provided him with supernatural strength to close a hatch despite verifiably huge amounts of water and pressure. Again, something verifiably mysterious.

Now we get a sister in Mexico of the reformed-type Bridgettines, who called upon the foundress of the reformed version in the face of a thug’s gun. The gun did not fire. Is this a miracle, or just bad gun maintenance? Who do you get to sit on the panel of investigation? (Maybe Lawdog….)

Anyway, I happen to have a copy of Blessed Elisabetta Hesselblad’s biography. (Parish used book sales rock. You never know what you’ll get.) Blessed Elisabetta mostly did things like bring back super-cool habits and sisters to Scandinavia. But she was a Swedish nurse before that, after she immigrated to the US and worked in a New York hospital.

She ended up locked in the morgue on Halloween night.

And then she heard someone moving inside the drawers

So she opened it and became the first martyr to zombie odium fidei!

Just kidding… Seriously, though, she started praying for the dead folks, and found some poor guy actually was still warm — because he was still alive! She saved his life by being there.

So yeah, I’m sure she would be a good saint to go to, on these unexpected little occasions that make life interesting. Like when a Mexican thug has a gun pointed at your head.


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And This Belongs to the Reds!

You get to hear Marty Brennaman, one of the Cincinnati Reds radio guys, make his first few famous calls —  like Hank Aaron tieing Babe Ruth’s record, in Riverfront Stadium.

Courtesy of Catbird in the Nosebleed Seats, whom I just was introduced to by Irish Elk.

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The Return of Isis!

No, not the Egyptian goddess, silly. The show.

Zephyrs that lift you on high. A science teacher with a magical amulet which once belonged to Hatshepsut, Queen and Pharaoh of the Two Egypts. You know, Mighty Isis!

It’s out on DVD! With scripts, and commentary track, and even a Spanish language track! Yay!

I know, it wasn’t all that great of a show. Even as a kid, I knew it didn’t live up to what I wanted it to be. But there was real beauty and intrigue in the basic fantasy premise, even if the restrictions of the network prevented any real drama. (Originally, the “science teacher” was supposed to be a forensic anthropologist on a state of California CSI team. Now _that_ would have been drama! Okay, so probably my parents wouldn’t have let me watch Quincy-lite, but still….) For nostalgia alone, this would be well worth it, but all the added material will really be interesting for those of us who were fans. (And there’s no boring Shazam show to sit through beforehand.)


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Harry Potter [Here Be Spoileriffic Comments]

If you want spoiler comments, please look in the comment box. If not, don’t.

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My Fandom Is Educational!

Eleven-year-old Texan fan of Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century foils criminal.

With some help from his nine-year-old sister as Watson, of course. (Always bring a writer along. She’ll have a Sharpie. Even if it’s pink.)

It just goes to show you — that cartoon wasn’t lying about eyes and brains! 🙂

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Harry Potter [No Spoilers]

1. Oh, come on, it’s been five hours EST. Aren’t you people done reading by now?

2. I was right about ’em being objects. Otherwise, alllllll my predictions were wrong. (Other than when the deathcount would start. Heh.)

3. I’m a bit sorry that the more baroque interpretations didn’t turn out to be true, but the alchemical thing did. So yay, HogwartsProfessor!

4. There is no number 4.

5. Suuuuuure she’s writing pagan propaganda. *roll eyes*

6. Suddenly, every child in America can spell “Choephoroe“.

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Well. Wasn’t That Pleasant.

I had stomach flu or food poisoning pretty badly all night on Wednesday night, and I was still too sick and sleepy to do much of anything all of Thursday. I couldn’t even bring myself to read!

It is at these times that I really appreciate sports coverage. Golf and biking goes on placidly for hours, allowing one to watch or sleep, without demanding attention every second.


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Happy Fannish News!

Somehow last week I neglected to notice Fred “Piro” Gallagher’s new rant over at Megatokyo. It revealed the following important news:

Megatokyo is going to be published in translation in Japan. By Kodansha!


Honestly, these blessings couldn’t happen to two nicer and more hardworking people. (And I also preen myself on having guessed why Fred was suddenly concerned with certain subjects….) Please drop by the forums and inundate them with fannish love.

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Looking for Solutions

If you follow the links to the priestblog below, you’ll see that Fr. Ed is currently talking about the motu and how it would or wouldn’t work at WSU. He brings up a lot of valid problems here. Also, the new building is coming, and it might be as well to let things lie until that’s done. But theoretically, anyway, where’s the fun in that?!

I am not a canon lawyer or liturgist, and I really don’t want to play one on the Internet. (And I am not about to pick on a priest my mom and dad like! So I’m not doing this to criticize.) But some of the problems seem to have reasonably easy fixes. So, just for the sake of totally theoretical argument, let’s look at ’em.

1. Orientation: The chalet-kit chapel was built in the seventies, and hence could face whichever direction was considered best. (What the priest-builder’s reasoning for the current placement was, I don’t know.) I don’t have a compass. My best guess from looking at Google Maps’ little satellite pic is that the building runs from northwest to southeast, so there isn’t an east wall, per se. If you put the altar in the corner where the music people usually sit, half toward the sloping wall and half toward the glass wall/doors, you’d probably be closest to orientation.

There are probably designers on TV who would argue that diagonal altar placement looks really cool. I would argue it’s probably a lot safer (less likely to bang priestly heads) than a lot of other places that altar’s been put….

But it’s not necessarily a bad thing to be facing, or partially facing, a glass wall. It kinda has that early Irish church thing about eastern windows going for it. (Kinda chilly in winter, but there are such things as curtains — which would help with energy efficiency. The upper window glass probably could get some kind of heat-saving cling on it, while you’re at it. Of course, what’d be really neat would be a heat-saving cling that looked like stained glass. You could even change them around for the liturgical seasons!)

2. No fixed altar: My understanding was that you can say Mass in the extraordinary form on a non-fixed altar _if_ you’ve got an altar stone (a mensa, I believe it’s called) with a relic in it. (For example, priests on camping trips or in WWII just brought the little altar stone along, and said Mass on planks and kayaks and large rocks and such.) Now, I have no idea whether WSU Campus Ministry’s altar has an altar stone, or whether this sort of thing works in chapels and churches the same as outdoors. But surely the archdiocese must have a few altar stones down in Cincy somewhere. It’s not the sort of thing you’re ever going to throw away.

In this case, you could put the portable altar anywhere you darned well wanted, as long as Father and altar were facing east. You could put the altar in the corner by the stairs, or in the middle of the room with a little porta-baldacchino, or what have you. I don’t know that it would be advisable, but I guess you could. Heck, you could say the Mass outside in the woods, if you wouldn’t freeze.

If the altar has to be fixed-fixed because it’s in a chapel, maybe it doesn’t really have to be very big of a fixed altar. What you’d want for a building that size is a tiny little shelf altar, like people used to have for side altars at big churches. A little diagonal corner shelf altar that small wouldn’t get in the way the rest of the time. (Do people actually use those French window doors? If they do, would it really hurt to keep one locked? You could curtain just that one, if you liked….)

Btw, the altar is currently “oriented” toward the itsy-bitsy crystal cross on it. (I guess it’s a crucifix, but my eyesight wasn’t not good enough to make out the corpus.) A crucifix on the altar is a really good way to remind people Who the Mass is about!

3. No Gregorian chant, no organ: According to the rules, the ordinary form of Mass is supposed to have Gregorian chant and an organ, preferably. If you ain’t worried about it every Sunday, why are you suddenly worried about it with extraordinary form? If you are worried about it (as we all should be), then you don’t have to worry about it any more with extraordinary form. The rules are the same both ways, when it comes to music — and they do recognize that sometimes the preferred things don’t happen. We are called to give our best to God, not the impractical or impossible.

(Of course, Gregorian chant is cheap. You can’t get cheaper than a capella. Okay, there is a steep learning curve. But even a little would be very neat, and attractive to the gothy sort of student. Also, you have really good music students and professors at WSU. A schola would be cool, don’t you think? Or get folks to learn Byrd’s a capella or very quietly instrumented Masses for Three Voices or Five Voices, written for tiny congregations of recusant Catholics in spaces no larger than the chapel — that’d be gorgeous!)

But there’s absolutely nothing (except taste and sense, or possibly the bishop’s merciful intervention) stopping any priest or music director from singing either form of the Mass, or parts thereof, to any tune or none. If somebody really wanted to institute a Missa “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” in which every Ordinary and Proper was set to that tune, a parish could do it, whether or not your Mass started with “In the name of the Father and the Son/and the Holy Spi-i-i-irit”, or “Introibo ad altare Dei”. We have a vast amount of musical freedom, so long as the liturgical _texts_ remain the same as either the official English translation or the official Latin (and quite frankly, the major Catholic music publishers and composers put out a good amount of stuff which controverts the few rules there are). Our real restriction in the matter of music is practice time for musicians, musical budget for parishes — and the imagination and skill of the composers.

(And yes, I know the old Masses to the tune of popular songs just used the popular melody as a starting point for writing countermelodies and harmonies, which then became the only stuff the congregation heard. I’m using this as a silly example.)

4. Don’t know Latin or how to say the extraordinary form Mass. This is the real problem, I’d say, and it’s not the easiest one to solve.

Obviously it’s a little late for those of us in the pews to complain that the seminary was supposed to teach Latin (according to all sorts of Vatican II decrees). But heck, Latin’s just a language like any other. It’s certainly easier than learning to do ministry in Spanish or Vietnamese, and it’s less quixotic or difficult than learning Elvish or Klingon for fun. You don’t have to learn how to converse in it, watch movies in it, ask for the bathroom or a beer in it, or give homilies in it. And it’s got fewer exceptions to the pronunciation rules than Spanish does! All a priest has to do is be able read out loud what’s in the book, and understand what he’s reading.

(Opera singers do this sort of thing all the time, and in more than one language, too! And they have to learn both the words and music by heart, because they don’t go on stage with a book to sing from!)

So it’s no big deal. If a person crammed and had tapes to help, anybody could probably learn to pronounce and understand everything that’s in Latin in a Mass in a single weekend — probably in a couple hours or less, actually. As for understanding the propers? That’s what Latin-English missals are for.

The more one used and studied Latin, of course, the better one would understand it and the more fluent one would be. Languages are one of the things humans are designed to be able to learn. They aren’t impossible for anyone, and memorizing vocabulary or conjugations is a pain but can be done during all sorts of boring chores.

Now, learning to do a sung Mass, or even how to do all the spoken Mass rubric stuff — that would probably be harder and take longer. But I understand that all kinds of learning materials and classes and workshops are available, and will shortly become more available. Of course, it’s not easy to find time in a busy schedule, but a lot of things get easier in small chunks. YouTube seems to provide a few resources, even.

So basically, the really difficult part would be to get the 1962 official missal and other books for saying Mass, and to plan out and follow a learning schedule. (Heh — it’s so easy to think of chores for other people, isn’t it?) That doesn’t mean you would want or have time to do it; but theoretically, one could. Of course, most archdioceses will probably end up instituting training programs of some sort within the next three or four years, or whenever new bishops are appointed to replace retirees; but it’s always better to read ahead in the book.

Of course, once you’d learned the Mass, there’d also be a need for little Mass booklets in Latin and English, etc, so that the people could do their dialogue thing. But by that point, it’s likely that free or cheap versions of such things would be widely available. So I wouldn’t worry about that bridge until you come to it.

Meanwhile, most Catholics know, or should know, most of the important Ordinaries in Latin. (Or Greek, if we’re talking the Kyrie. And yes, this too was mandated by Vatican II decrees.) So including lil’ Latin bits in the ordinary form Mass is no big deal, and most priests and church musicians do it.

Anyway, I guess my real point is that, if one can visualize theoretical solutions for the tiny chapel of a Campus Ministry with a tiny little budget and weird idiosyncrasies, it should be possible for bigger, more prosperous parishes to find ways to provide the extraordinary form Mass.

This post and its comments are about finding resources for saying the extraordinary form Mass. (Interesting stuff here, like a link to free mp3s of the extraordinary form Mass and its text.)


Serious Suggestion: Why don’t parishes and campus ministries organize field trips to Masses in the area which are in different Rites and Uses? If we really believe that all the Rites are equally Catholic, then surely it’s a good idea for young Catholics to be exposed to the full diversity of expressions of the Faith. At least, I’d think that priests from different Rites really ought to be asked to give talks. I know there are Maronite and Byzantine Rite Catholic parishes around here…. (Of course, maybe this is already done. But my college’s campus ministry didn’t, which was weird — because we heard all the time from Baptists at Mass and never from the huge numbers of Byzantine Rite folks on the other side of town.)

Serious Suggestion #2: As for learning Latin — I’m perfectly willing to coach anybody who wants coaching. My Latin’s not great; but I’m certainly better than nothing, and I wouldn’t charge anything. There are vast amounts of Latin resources available over the Internet, also, and many of them for the Church kind.


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Another Local Priest Blogger/Podcaster!

As longtime readers of this blog may recall, my parents live close to Wright State, so of recent years they have been going to the Catholic campus ministry’s little itty bitty chapel on the little itty bitty parcel of land that the archdiocese was donated for this purpose (by the land’s original pre-university owners).

I finally got to see the picture of the proposed big new church building, as approved by Fr. Chris Rohmiller just before he passed away. It looked pretty good.

(Well, of course it’s got round bits. Priests of Fr. Chris’ generation seem to have a fatal attraction to round churches. But it looks like the round bits are on only one end, so maybe it’s just one of those triangles with a round bit at one apex…. Besides, it’s not how it looks on the outside that counts.)

Anyway, the priest, Fr. Ed Burns, has a blog (Fred’s Place) and a homily podcast, too. (No, of course my parents didn’t tell me. They’re not even on the Internet yet.) So I thought I’d better link them here.

He seems like he’s doing a good job. (He doesn’t come across as lame or boring, which is half the battle with college students.) So check it out.

Fear the stripey stole! 🙂

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“Summorum Pontificum” (Of All the Bridgebuilders)

It’s the day after Pope Benedict XVI released his motu proprio, “Summorum Pontificum“. In the Catholic blogosphere, we have been waiting for this for more than two years: first in hope founded on earlier books and statements, and then with the aid of rumor, leak, and tiny press releases. In the real world, people mostly didn’t dare to hope for it at all. Something precious had been lost for ever, or could only be kept alive in small dark corners through special grace: like the Mozarabic or Ambrosian rites, restricted to single churches in single cities.

People who aren’t Catholic probably can’t understand how deeply this ran. Fr. Greeley’s career and popularity as a novelist was almost entirely founded on the fact that he wrote about it.

People my age grew up with a strange wound and longing in their parents: as if we’d all been driven out by flood from a homeland that no longer existed, where on stormy nights, the church bells clanged randomly beneath the waves; and you might hear those who’d refused to leave (and been turned into mermen by some curse or mercy) chanting in their black and golden robes, as strange lights burned in stony caves beneath the sea.

Drowned Latinesse, lost and lovely and strange — and cruel, we heard from those who were glad it was gone. We heard most about it from its enemies — for its friends dared not speak of what they could not bear to remember. They wanted to be brave and obedient and silent — but there was always the lament. Latin was missing, Latin was gone, nothing would ever be the same.

There was an information hole, out of which occasional facts might emerge. There were books — but we were warned that the Church didn’t teach that anymore, it wasn’t true. What wasn’t true and what still was? Nobody knew. Or they insisted that they did know and taught us what they’d been taught — but in the back of their mind, they worried. Maybe nothing was true anymore.

And now, here we are. Latinesse rises again, shedding salt water, and once more we can see that the Drowned Cantrevs were always smack in the middle of our own Christendom where we’ve always lived. It will not be a mythical city that troubles our dreams and grieves our parents, but a working one which will earn its keep. Granted, it will take a while to clean out the gunk and the seaweed, and flush out the last bits of brackish water and salt. But now we can go there whenever we want. The fields grow together; the bees pollinate orchards of fruit not seen for forty years. The logic of Christendom’s road system becomes clear, now that they no longer disappear into the depths beyond our sight. Also, the long-suffering merfolk, fins turned back into feet, take their first few breaths of sweet fresh air.

I love the current Mass, and I feel no lack when I attend what we will now call “the ordinary form of the Latin Rite Mass”. But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested to go to see Jesus in “the extraordinary form”; I am and always have been interested. It also seems entirely natural to me. I grew up in a parish which offered folk music Masses, formal Masses, children’s Masses, choir Masses, no music Masses, and so on. Whatever Mass we went to, was Mass. Each had its features and facets, but none was fundamentally different.

I look forward to the time when, once again, it’s no big deal, and I’m not particularly worried about it.

In the meantime, I’m still working on filling my information hole with the ordinary form. I keep trying to remember to practice all the bows and nods (at the name of Jesus, the Trinity, and various other things worthy of special honor), which nobody ever bothered to teach the kids my age. I have a Missal for the ordinary form (see, I’m getting used to saying it!) with all the bits where I need to nod highlighted in neon yellow. Why? Because it’s not right that I don’t do it, if it’s what we’re supposed to do. The same goes with Friday abstention from meat (or “another penitential practice”) at times other than Lent. It stinks that I was never taught; and I certainly don’t look down on other people who don’t do it, because I know they weren’t told, either. But I know now, and I am trying to do it. Even though it’s very hard to remember.

And yes, I do mean to get one of those brand new missals for the extraordinary form, reprinting the 1962 ones, so that I can follow along and learn that.

I’m not ashamed to retrain. I’m glad.

I’m glad my mother won’t have to miss Latin anymore, ever again. The bridge is being built. The wound is being healed. Things will get better.

Meanwhile, today’s readings for the ordinary form Mass seemed like a message: “Rejoice with Jerusalem… all you were mourning over her!” “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy…” (and “He has changed the sea into dry land….” Heh.) “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit….” followed by the priest saying “And also with you” (which is really “And with your spirit”, and soon will be translated that way again). Maybe we’re being “sent out as sheep among wolves”, too, but not without hope.

* Btw, I found out the Lyonesse actually probably comes from the name of one of the old viscounties and dioceses of Brittany: Leon. It was probably another Lugdunum, like Lyons and London.

** And yes, I realize that “pontificum” would normally be translated “of the pontiffs” or similar. But I think the Pope chose to refer to the title “pontifex” in the title of the motu, specifically because of its literal meaning, “bridge-maker”.


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Sermon 8, On the Sacrosanct Sacrament of the Eucharist by St. Albert the Great

Sermon Eight.

Of the third and fourth reason that the Lord gives His Body veiled.

Come, eat my bread,” etc. as in the first sermon.
How can he give us his flesh to chew?” John 6:53.
It is good to hide the mystery [Sacramentum] of the King.” Tobit 12:7.

The third reason, therefore, the Lord gives His Body veiled,
is the instruction of morals. Job 28:18 — “Wisdom is drawn
out of secret places.
” Truth is concealed in this sacrament in which morals
are taught, of course: the character of the Savior, great clarity of
excellence, and a wonderful work of the Almighty.

Of the first, Isaiah 45:15 — “Truly, you are a hidden God, the God
of Israel, the savior.
” Of the second, Isaiah 8:17 — “I will await
the Lord who has hidden His face.
” Of the third, Ecclesiasticus 43:36
(Sirach 43:36) — “Many greater things are hidden from us; indeed, we
have seen few of His works.
” In these we get to know, of course, three
things so virtuous could be hidden in us: our characters, bodily excellence,
the intention of good works. The first [is hidden] from the furor of
persecutors, the second from the investigation of fools, the third from
human favor.

The just one learns in this sacrament to hide his character for three
[reasons]: of course, so that the persecutor’s wrath quiets, so that
work fulfils the precept of the Lord, so that he acquires a glorious

Of the first, Isaiah 26:20 — “Go, My people, into your room, close your
door after you to hide a little while until My indignation passes
to wit, in persecution, which many of the just are picked out to
do. Of the second, 2 Corinthians 11:32-33 — “At Damascus, the governor…
guarded the city… to arrest me, and I was lowered in a basket
through a window by the wall, and so escaped his hands.
” Similarly,
Tobit, whom the king ordered to be slain, fleeing naked, he hid,
for of course the works of mercy which he had begun, he carried out.
Of the third, 1 Kings 26:1 (1 Samuel 26:1) — David fled from Saul’s
face; “he is hidden on the hill of Hachila” — that is, in the Lord.
Indeed, Hachila is interpreted as supporting him, for “The Lord is
my supporter”. But he is hidden in the Lord, for the king’s crown
stands firm through his famous, glorious works. John 8:59 — “Jews
got rocks in order to throw them at Jesus. But Jesus hid himself
and went out of the Temple.

Second, the just learn to hide bodily beauty from men’s inspection,
because adorned outer beauty has been the occasion for the fall of many.
Corporal beauty, therefore, must be hidden in three ways: through
cheapness of dress, austerity of fasting, and assiduity of good works.

Of the first, Job 16:16 — “I stitched sackcloth over my skin, and
covered my flesh with ashes.
” Genesis 24:64-65 — “Rebecca also, when
she saw Isaac… took her cloak and covered herself.
” 1 Corinthians 11:10 —
Women must have a veil over their heads for the angels“, that is, for
the good.

Of the second, Galatians 6:14 — “The world is crucified in me, and I
in the world
“, as if he says: The world is vile to me because of worry
about its punishment, and I am vile to the worldly because of the
exhaustion of my body.

* Psalm 148, 2.

Augustine: “Subdue your flesh through fasting and abstinence from
food and drink, as much as strength permits.”*

Of the third, Psalm 38:12 — “You make his spirit waste away like a
” As a spider [spinning a web] drawn out of her innards
dries up for that reason, so the just is exhausted by frequently
repeating laborious works out of true charity, and he fades
in body. Ecclesiasticus 33:27 (Sirach 33:27) — “Yoke and thong bend the
stiff neck, and assiduous labor makes the slave bow.

Canticles 1:5 (Song of Solomon 1:5) — “Do not consider me dark because the sun
has changed my color.
” The hot sun did this — that is, the work
of love. Christ accepted the form of a slave, in which the
brightness of His Godhood hides. From which, Isaiah 53:2-3 —
No kind of beauty is in him… and his face as if hidden and

The third thing the just learns in this sacrament is the
virtue of honor of hiding the intention to do good works
from human favor. Matthew 13:44 — “The Kingdom of Heaven
that is, the conduct of the just, says the Gloss,**
is like a treasure hidden in a field” — in the heart.
Gregory: “So work in public, so long as the intention
remains secret, and so that we provide our neighbors an
example of good works, and yet through the intention,
that we ask only to please God alone, always we wish
in secret.”***

We have to hide three kinds of true good things especially
from the favor of men: to wit, alms, prayer, fasting. Of
the first, Matthew 6:2 — “When you give alms, don’t
blow a trumpet before you
” — the trumpet of swelling,
boasting, and appearances — “like the hypocrites do,
so that they’ll be honored by men. Amen, I say to you,
they have received their pay. But when you give alms,
don’t let your left hand
” (that is, crooked intention)
know what your right hand” (pure love) “is doing, so
that your alms are hidden
” (your pious intention). “And
your Father, who sees what is hidden, will repay you.

* Regula ad servos Dei. n. 4. Migne, S.l. tom. 32. col. 1379. Cf.
De utili jejun. sermo. Ibid, tom. 40. col. 708.

** Interlinearis.

*** In Evang. hom. 11. n. 1. Migne. S. 1. tom. 76. col. 1115.

Of the second, Matthew 6:6 — “When you pray, go into your room
(that is, the privacy of your mind), “and close the door” (all
the entrances to the heart), “pray to the Father in secret
(with hidden intention), “and He will repay you.

Of the third, the same: “And when fasting, anoint your head
(that is, restore to the Anointed the works of mercy that you
draw upon, bestowing them upon His members among the poor)
and wash your face“, (purging the heart and senses of sin
with penitential tears); “do not let men see that you are fasting,
and your Father, who sees what is hidden, will repay you.

The fourth reason that the Lord gives His Body veiled is the
feebleness of all that is done here. For no mortal man’s eye can
bear the brightness of His glorious Body, unless it is veiled.
Which is tested in three ways: by a legal figure, by material
accidents, by natural reason.

The first is tested by a legal figure. Exodus 34:29 — “The children
of Israel seeing that from sharing conversation with God,
Moses’ face was horned
[shining], they feared to come near him;
so he put a veil in front of his face when he spoke to them.

Indeed, Moses’ face receives so great of beams of radiance from frequent and
familiar approach to the divine light, which was seen by human eyes
as horns, because they could not bear the brightness of His looks
unless veiled. So doubtless, indeed many more, the Body of Christ
in His Resurrection was glorified, and made spiritual and in the form
of God, no human eye can examine Him unless veiled under another

The second is tested by this, what happened to Mary the Mother of God,
who could not bear the brightness and glory of the presence of the
Son of God, unless she were overshadowed. But the majesty was veiled
for the flesh of the Virgin; it was made possible for the Virgin to
bear, by the work of the Holy Spirit, and it is seen by us, too.  Hence:
The Word is made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory.
But this flesh, after the Passion and through the Resurrection, was
glorified and clarified to the likeness of God, according to this
from John 17:5 — “Father, clarify Me… to the brightness which I had before
the world was made
” — it is made impossible to us to see, or
to see it naked in its own shape with mortal eyes, unless it be veiled
as another visible species. Ecclesiasticus 11:4 (Sirach 11:4) — “Wonderful the works
of the Highest, and glorious, and secret, and hidden.
” Together with
this from Exodus 33:20 — “Man shall not see Me and live“, in His own
real form. 1 Corinthians 13:12 — “Now we see through a mirror” of reason,
and in a riddle — that is, in the figure of bread.

The third is tested by that same natural reason, for which there is
too great a unlikeness, to the light of our eyes, from the brightness
of the light of the Body of Christ. “Indeed, our eye”, says Augustine,
“is sick and corruptible; this is the real brightness of the incorruptible,
and in a certain way is immeasurable”, because as it said, it is God-shaped.
Indeed, this is the reason for the visibility of all light; the likeness
somehow is seen to light, and as much greater as is the likeness to the greatest
light, so the vision is clearer and sweeter. Hence it is that the healthy eye
can see the body of the Sun naked, to a certain point, and not the Body of
Christ; because the Sun has a lot of likeness to the light and is
corruptible; which the Body of Christ doesn’t have. Indeed, unless the eye
somehow be like the light from the heavenly region, by no means can this be
seen, as not even the ear nor the finger can sense; but the eye is likewise
blind; of course, because of too great an unlikeness.

* Epist. 148. Migne, S. l. tom. 33, col. 623. (sed non ad verbum).

Therefore, because of our feebleness and the excessive brightness of the
Body of Christ, we cannot see it bare in this life; by His goodness, with
joy we have it in wrappings — until the Body transforms our humbleness
and configures our bodies to His brightness, and so through this brightness
are magnified — and until we are strengthened to incorruption, we may
sweetly see eye to eye with the brightness of the Lord’s Body. Luke 11:34 —
If your eye be single” — that is, the intention of your heart is pure —
the whole body will be bright” to see, of course, the brightness of Christ.
1 John 3:2 — “We know, when He appears, that we will be like Him, because
we will see Him as He is.
” Bernard: “Indeed, it is worthy that truth be
seen to have to entered into the soul through the higher windows of the eyes,
but this to us, o soul, is kept for last, when we shall see face to face”*,
and this vision will be for us eternal life. Amen.

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