Postcommunion for the Second Sunday after Easter

Grant, we beseech thee, Almight God: that we receiving the quickening of thy grace, may ever glory in the gift which thou bestowest; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: "A Quiet Place"

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Horror seems to be experiencing something of a renaissance. After a decade or three of mostly formulaic and forgettable movies, films like V/H/S, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, The Babadook, The VVitch, Hush, The Invitation, and IT are a cut above the jump-scare-bound slasher films and predictable monsters of the nineties. I don’t often see movies while they’re still in the theater, but I went to see A Quiet Place, and loved it.

The premise of the film is that a race of man-eating creatures (whose origin, wisely in my opinion, is never explained) that are blind and hunt by sound have taken over, and those who survive have done so by never making more noise than a whisper, even creating safe outdoor paths out of sand on which they walk barefoot. The story follows a family eking out an agricultural living in the countryside, raising a deaf daughter and a hearing son—and trying to construct a soundproof room in their home, due to the baby they’re expecting. But even before the birth, keeping silent isn’t easy.

The Strong Points

The acting is outstanding at every point, whether spoken or signed. The cinematography is beautiful, taking in great sweeping shots of upstate New York’s forested mountains; the clear autumn sunshine provides a creepy counterpoint to the terror stalking the characters. The use of silence, which so many movies are afraid of, is superb, varying enough with ambient and exceptional sounds to engage the viewer, while still being continuous enough to effectively communicate the sense of massive wariness that is a ceaseless aspect of these characters’ lives. Even small details, like substitute Monopoly pieces made from yarn, are incorporated.

Like Hush, A Quiet Place made innovative use of a deaf protagonist. Ironically enough for a medium that started without sound, there don’t seem to be many of these: The Miracle Worker, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, and Children of a Lesser God are the only others I’m familiar with. The film doesn’t (as Lonely Hunter did) break with the not-wholly-satisfying tradition of having the character’s deafness be central to the movie, and perhaps it couldn’t, given its premise; but it does avoid the more blatant pitfall of representing deafness solely as something to be overcome, and gives the character in question opportunities to use it to her advantage in key ways.

The Weak Points

The script isn’t great. The acting and directing compensate considerably; but the dialogue tends to fall victim to cliché in the more emotional moments of the film, which in turn causes their artistry to lurch uncomfortably. The plot, likewise, has some flaws. A few of them are continuity problems (how’d that monster get there?), a few are plausibility problems (why would they have kept batteries in something they’d never use?), and a few are just rather stereotypical story decisions that I was hoping A Quiet Place would be clever enough to avoid.

The biggest flaw, to my mind, however, was the decision to eventually show the monsters not only clearly, but close up. Almost any monster is frightening in proportion to its aura of mystery; but filmmakers love showing off their special effects, and A Quiet Place failed to resist the temptation. The result is that, from being an eerie, unearthly presence that we barely glimpse save by their ravagings early on in the movie, close to the end we get something that sort of looks like a cross between an inside-out ear model and a wet cockroach. Gross, but not nearly as intrinsically scary. A more imaginative cinematography might have allowed the concluding scenes to avoid this.

Should You See It?

Totally. Flaws notwithstanding it is an excellent film, plus John Krasinski with a beard is pretty hot. I place it right on the cusp between B+ and A-, in the same territory as IT.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Ten Years in Rome

‘You know I’m not one for a life of mourning. I’ve always been bad. Probably I shall be bad again, punished again. But the worse I am, the more I need God. I can’t shut myself out from his mercy. That is what it would mean; starting a life with you, without him … the bad thing I was on the point of doing, that I’m not quite bad enough to do: to set up a rival good to God’s. … It may be a private bargain between me and God, that if I give up this one thing I want so much, however bad I am, he won’t quite despair of me in the end.
‘Now we shall both be alone, and I shall have no way of making you understand.’
‘I don’t want to make it easier for you,’ I said; ‘I hope your heart may break; but I do understand.’ 
—Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited 
Trying to appreciate a thing is a good way to find that thing’s best qualities, and men are things, especially to a hustler. Many men are heroic in their refusal to be pathetic, and hustlers are sometimes the only people to get a glimpse of a man in his loneliness, or in the weakness of his desire. And it is sometimes only by seeing this contrast—of a man on his knees who is normally an image of strength—that we can perceive the heroic aspect. 
—Rick Whitaker, Assuming the Position

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Welp. As of March 23rd (by the civil calendar) or 31st (by the liturgical), I’ve now been a Catholic for ten years. Weird.

I feel like I should have some “What have we learned?” shit to offer; and, I guess, I sort of do. I’ve definitely learnt that Catholicism is much more human than Protestantism. The idealism of my Calvinist upbringing was a severe, bloodless thing, without the tenderness of flesh or the warmth of breath, unable really to imagine a Christian still entangled in disobedience. The bad Catholic, such a staple of life and art, was a hissing and a byword to my Protestant compatriots: proof that Catholicism didn’t “work.” It was not, as Catholics like the late Fr John Neuhaus would put it, evidence of the power of the Catholic Church to retain ‘the affectionate loyalty of the erring.’

I’m often eager to defend Protestantism to my fellow Catholics, and not only because my mother is a convinced Protestant—I have no higher an opinion of Catholic snobbery today than I did ten, or twenty, years ago. Yet I did after all leave Calvinism for Catholicism, and I think that, subconsciously, this was one of my reasons: I could be a bad Catholic and still be a Catholic. I couldn’t be a bad Protestant at all; that notion was excluded by the Protestants’ own definitions. For in most of the versions of Protestant theology I knew, obedience was the fruit of real faith—which meant in turn that a lack of obedience suggested a lack of faith. Addiction, weakness, and backsliding were understood, in an abstract way; but there were no Protestant versions of Francis Tarwater or Fantine or Sebastian Flyte. Little though I liked to admit it, Pharisaic idealist that I was, I could not breathe that air.

And, well, there’s little use denying it: I couldn’t be a good Protestant because I’m gay. Not that no gay people make good Protestants, but I sure couldn’t. I’m a fiercely sensual creature, with intense admiration of and limited capacity for asceticism. As a bad Catholic, I can manage.

Not that any of this was explicit in my mind when I converted. In my conscious mind, everything was about the intellectual dimension. The sole, simple question was whether (as far as I could discern) Catholicism was true; and the answer to that question was Yes. And although I understand myself now far better than I did then, I don’t regret my answer, nor think I arrived at it for inadequate reasons. If I did I’d probably leave the Church. But, as frail and foolish as I was even then, I believe that in becoming a Catholic, I struck rock. And my ten years on that rock, as difficult as they’ve often been, have only reïnforced that conviction.

It is, no doubt, ridiculous to imagine that I know What My Life Is About at the age of 30. One can hardly grasp the question’s meaning until one’s early teens; and then one is rather preöccupied with hormones and the merry hell they play with, just, everything, for the next ten years, so that one’s power of concentration is curtailed. But, if I have learned any of the things that my life is about, a recurring theme is that God loves mangled things.

That matters for me, because I’m a mangled thing. My earliest introductions to sexuality, and specifically to my sexuality, were internet porn and a series of encounters that have to be described with the word ‘statutory.’ And—partly because of that—at 30 years old, I’m still a scared, shy little boy in a lot of ways.

There are those who would object to me describing myself as mangled. I am more than my wounds, more than my sexuality, more than my history, whatever. To them I can only say that it’s no charity to try and take my wounds away from me. There’s a triumphalism and a weird shame about being sad that pervades American culture, including American Christianity, including American Catholicism. As though suffering and pain constituted some kind of moral failure. And yes, self-pity and wallowing are bad for you; so are repression and fake niceness. Telling a mangled person that their wounds aren’t real or aren’t important is demeaning, not encouraging. More deeply, the urgency with which some people object to this sort of language hints at something: a belief, perhaps unconscious, that really God doesn’t love mangled things, that he has the same shallow addiction to the obviously attractive that we do. That his love is as flawed and self-interested as ours.

And anyway, what does that sort of aversion to darkness have to do with the Scriptures—looking not only to Job’s protests or Jeremiah’s laments or Abraham’s horror of great darkness, not only to the Passion itself even, but to the attitude evinced by Christ and his Apostles after the Resurrection? Where are Jesus inviting Thomas to put his hand into the gash in his ribcage, or Paul’s glorying in weakness and knowing nothing but the Crucified? That gash was a different thing on Easter Sunday (and is now) than it had been on Good Friday, but it was still a gash. I don’t know what glory is going to look like, but the mess and the hurt are going to be in it, in a way that makes them beautiful.
Crown him the Lord of love!
Behold his hands and side,—
Rich wounds, yet visible above,
In beauty glorified:
No angel in the sky
Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye
At mysteries so bright!

I still don’t know where my life is going, toward a boyfriend or permanent singleness, and I no longer know how much that matters. But I’m a lot more okay with that than I used to be. Like I said, I’m a scared little boy; and even though I don’t exactly trust this purported Father that I’ve barely met, I’m not as set on running away and hiding as I used to be. I’m too shy to say much or ask for anything, but I can watch and listen a little. And that's something.

You must learn to bear for God’s sake the trial of being displeasing to yourself, said St Teresa. I used to hate that quote so, so much; but it’s become a favorite. We are far less patient than he is.

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Meditations for Holy Week 2018

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Palm Sunday
(Matthew 21.1-11, Mark 11.1-11, Luke 19.28-44, John 12.12-18)

Here is no continuing city, here is no abiding stay.
Ill the wind, ill the time, uncertain the profit, certain the danger.
O late late late, late is the time, late too late, and rotten the year;
Evil the wind, and bitter the sea, and grey the sky, grey grey grey.
O Thomas, return, Archbishop; return, return to France.
Return. Quickly. Quietly. Leave us to perish in quiet.
You come with applause, you come with rejoicing, but you come bringing death into Canterbury:
A doom on the house, a doom on yourself, a doom on the world.

We do not wish anything to happen.
Seven years we have lived quietly,
Succeeded in avoiding notice,
Living and partly living.
There have been oppression and luxury,
There have been poverty and license,
There has been minor injustice.
Yet we have gone on living,
Living and partly living.

—T. S. Eliot, Murder In the Cathedral

Fig Monday
(Matthew 21.12-22, Mark 11.12-26, Luke 19.45-48)

A shadow passed over Saruman’s face; then it went deathly white. Before he could conceal it, they saw through the mask the anguish of a mind in doubt, loathing to stay and dreading to leave its refuge. For a second he hesitated, and no one breathed. Then he spoke, and his voice was shrill and cold. Pride and hate were conquering him.

—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

Temple Tuesday
(Matthew 21.23-26.2, Mark 11.27-13.37, Luke 20.1-21.38, John 12.19-50)

Professing only a moral union, they fled
from the new-spread bounty; they found a quarrel with the Empire
and the sustenance of Empire, with the ground of faith and earth,
the golden and rose-creamed flesh of the grand Ambiguity. [1]

Fast as they, the orthodox imagination
seized on the Roman polity; there, for a day,
beyond history, holding history at bay,
it established through the themes [2] of the Empire the condition of Christendom
and saw everywhere the manumission of grace into glory.
Beyond the line of ancient imperial shapes
it saw the Throne of primal order, the zone
of visionary powers, and almost (in a cloud) the face
of the only sublime Emperor; as John once
in Patmos, so then all the Empire in Byzantium:
the Acts of the Throne were borne by the speeding logothetes, [3]
and the earth flourished, hazel, corn, and vine. [4]

—Charles Williams, The Region of the Summer Stars, ‘Prelude’

Spy Wednesday
(Matthew 26.3-16, Mark 14.1-11, Luke 22.1-6)

If suddenly he should change his mind,
Tell the dark boy with copper hair
To go, to go,
And he went, lamenting, granting
His mercy from eyes like ruined planets—
Would the end of the world find him friendless?
Before God Glorified, he thought,
I shall stand,
And my knees knock from not kneeling.

Only his mother, he supposed, and one or two
With whom he had never been possessed,
Might say something to extenuate,
Might ask forgiveness for a fool’s despair.
But then, suddenly, he laughed,
The bars are all open in hell.

—Dunstan Thompson, Lament for the Sleepwalker, ‘Merciful God This is a Strange Reckoning’

Maundy Thursday
(Matthew 26.17-46, Mark 14.12-42, Luke 22.7-46, John 13.1-17.26)

And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of pain.
And he said:
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

—Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Good Friday
(Matthew 26.47-27.61, Mark 14.43-15.47, Luke 22.47-23.53, John 18.1-19.42)

Father was eighty years old now, and promptly at 8.45 each evening—an hour sooner than formerly—he would open the Bible, the signal for prayers, read one chapter, ask God’s blessing on us through the night, and by 9.15 be climbing the stairs to his bedroom. Tonight, however, the Prime Minister was to address the nation at 9.30. One question ached through all of Holland like a long-held breath: would there be war?

… Then the Prime Minister’s voice was speaking to us, sonorous and soothing. There would be no war. He had had assurances from high sources on both sides. Holland’s neutrality would be respected. It would be the Great War all over again. There was nothing to fear. Dutchmen were urged to remain calm and to—

The voice stopped. Betsie and I looked up, astonished. Father had snapped off the set and in his blue eyes was a fire we had never seen before.

‘It is wrong to give people hope when there is no hope,’ he said. ‘It is wrong to base faith upon wishes. There will be war. The Germans will attack and we will fall.’

He stamped on his cigar stub in the ashtray beside the radio and with it, it seemed, the anger too, for his voice grew gentle again. ‘Oh my dears, I am sorry for all Dutchmen now who do not know the power of God. For we will be beaten. But He will not.’

—Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

Holy Saturday
(Matthew 27.62-66, Luke 23.54-56)

A voice came from beyond the river: ‘Do not do it.’

Instantly—I had been freezing cold till now—a wave of fire passed over me, even down to my numb feet. It was the voice of a god. Who should know better than I? A god’s voice had once shattered my whole life. They are not to be mistaken. It may well be that by trickery of priests men have sometimes taken a mortal’s voice for a god’s. But it will not work the other way. No one who hears a god’s voice takes it for a mortal’s.

‘Lord, who are you?’ said I.

‘Do not do it,’ said the god. ‘You cannot escape Ungit [5] by going to the deadlands, for she is there also. Die before you die. There is no chance after.’

‘Lord, I am Ungit.’

But there was no answer. And that is another thing about the voices of the gods; when once they have ceased, though it is only a heart-beat ago and the bright hard syllables, the heavy bars or mighty obelisks of sound, are still master in your ears, it is as if they had ceased a thousand years before, and to expect further utterance is like asking for an apple from a tree that fruited the day the world was made.

—C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

Easter Sunday
(Matthew 28.1-8, Mark 16.1-20 [6], Luke 24.1-49, John 20.1-23)

A red-gold glow burst suddenly across the enchanted sky above them as an edge of dazzling sun appeared over the sill of the nearest window. The light hit both of their faces at the same time, so that Voldemort’s was suddenly a flaming blur. Harry heard the high voice shriek as he too yelled his best hope to the heavens, pointing Draco’s wand:

Avada Kedavra!


The bang was like a cannon blast, and the golden flames that erupted between them, at the dead center of the circle they had been treading, marked the point where the spells collided. Harry saw Voldemort’s green jet meet his own spell, saw the Elder Wand fly high, dark against the sunrise, spinning across the enchanted ceiling … toward the master it would not kill, who had come to take full possession of it at last. …

One shivering second of silence, the shock of the moment suspended: and then the tumult broke around Harry as the screams and the cheers and the roars of the watchers rent the air. The fierce new sun dazzled the windows as they thundered toward him, and the first to reach him were Ron and Hermione, and it was their arms that were wrapped around him, their incomprehensible shouts that deafened him. Then Ginny, Neville, and Luna were there, and then all the Weasleys and Hagrid, and Kingsley and McGonagall and Flitwick and Sprout, and Harry could not hear a word that anyone was shouting, nor tell whose hands were seizing him, pulling him, trying to hug some part of him, hundreds of them pressing in, all of them determined to touch the Boy Who Lived, the reason it was over at last …

—J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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[1] They here refers to the heretics of the first several centuries and particularly to the Gnostic and Nestorian heretics, whose beliefs refused either the fact or the fullness of the Incarnation (the grand Ambiguity of the two Natures, human and divine).
[2] In Byzantine terminology, a theme was roughly equivalent to a province.
[3] The office of logothete was an administrative role, originally applying to financial affairs and eventually extended to the civil service generally.
[4] The hazel in Williams’ poetry is typically cited because of its pedigree as a tool in magic (wands being by preference made of hazel), and thus by extension as a sign for transcendent and supernatural things generally; corn in contemporary British English could be used to signify grain in general, as opposed to maize in particular. Thus, hazel, corn, and vine could be understood as the spiritual, civil, and cultural aspects of the Empire, or as a trinal symbol of the Eucharist itself (spiritual power in combination with the grain and wine derived from corn and vine), or most probably both.
[5] In Till We Have Faces, Ungit is a pagan goddess of fertility, vaguely equivalent to Aphrodite, but more Sumerian in character, with a devouring aspect as well.
[6] Mark 16.1-9 are original to the Gospel. Mark 16.11-20 are more dubious, and seem to represent a redactor’s effort to harmonize the ending of Mark with the ending of Luke.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Review(ish): "Love, Simon" and "Geography Club"

Did they remain friends when they went back to school on Monday? Or did they immediately return to their respective social circles and continue ignoring each other? … If the kids show up to school on Monday and form a new clique that breaks down social barriers and challenges conventional high school’s idea of archetypes and popularity hierarchies, that makes The Breakfast Club a piece of shit movie. … We’d lose the realism and honesty that was present throughout all of The Breakfast Club’s non-weed-related moments. … The right ending would have the kids all going back to their own cliques, because that’s how you survive high school. The criminal goes back to being high and making fun of the brain, the princess goes back to ignoring everyone, and the jock continues doing whatever popular jocks do in high school. That ending makes The Breakfast Club heartbreaking and real and kind of a perfect movie. 
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I went to see Love, Simon today. As well-made gay movies so often do, it left me feeling really jumbled up inside—caught between liking the characters, empathizing with their angst, and feeling sorry for myself about not having what they have. [1]

The premise is straightforward: the Simon of the title is seventeen, has a generally happy and normal life, and a secret: he’s gay. He has been in the closet for four years, even to his closest friends. He starts trading anonymous e-mails with another gay teen [2] at his school, known only as Blue. He becomes more and more taken with Blue and desperate to find out who he is; but Simon is also still attempting to maintain his passing status, afraid of the social fallout of making his sexuality public. Then an acquaintance, Martin, finds out, and decides to try and blackmail Simon in exchange for a chance with Abby, a friend of his.


The blackmail works, and Simon makes hay of the relationships of his friend group, trying to keep Abby available for Martin by redirecting another friend toward a different girl—who, unbeknownst to Simon, is in fact in love with him. When Abby turns Martin down after a very public, very dramatic declaration of love, he spitefully publishes proof of Simon’s homosexuality. Simon’s friends, on finding out about his lies and manipulation, desert him, and Blue, frightened by the sudden publicity, cuts off all contact with Simon. After a homophobic prank, however, Simon’s friends gradually decide to forgive him, and even Martin feels guilty and tries (with limited success) to make some amends. Finally, Simon finds the strength to accept the ways his life has changed, and sends the anonymous Blue a public invitation to meet him—which is, at the last moment, accepted.

It’s finely acted if formulaic. Nick Robinson (the lead) and Katherine Langford (of Thirteen Reasons Why fame) do particularly well, as do Tony Hale and Josh Duhamel. What I found interesting, though, was comparing and contrasting Love, Simon with a highly similar film that came out five years ago: Geography Club.

The plot reads like a bad plagiarism of Love, Simon, at least at the beginning. Russell, a teenage boy, is starting to think he’s gay and gets interested in an anonymous fellow student online. He and the guy eventually meet, and it turns out to be the quarterback, Kevin. The two share a kiss, which another student sees; she tries to get them involved in the Geography Club, which is in fact a clandestine LGBT support group (they chose the name because they thought it sounded so boring that nobody else would want to join). Russell does, while he and Kevin conduct a secret relationship. Russell and his best friend Gunnar, thanks to the former’s new status as a running back on the football team, even start dating two of the most coveted girls in the school. However, in order to stay on good footing with his teammates, Russell is forced to humiliate another member of the Geography Club, and gets thrown out. Then, when a double date with Gunnar seems to be getting sexual, Russell rejects his girlfriend’s advances, hurting her deeply and prompting the other girl to start spreading the rumor that he’s gay, and he and Gunnar argue over Russell ruining both dates. The other players force him off the football team over the gay rumor, Kevin included, and Russell is left completely isolated; until the kid he humiliated, understanding the pain of being an outcast, extends a friendly hand to him.

The Geography Club finally decides to go public. Kevin begs Russell to keep seeing him secretly, but Russell refuses. He and Gunnar make up, and do a parenting project together for a class. Russell outs himself decisively by attending the first open meeting of the re-formed LGBT club. Kevin almost goes as well, but can’t face the prospect of losing his place playing football, and passes by.

The structural parallels are obvious—and perhaps inevitable, given that high school stories are all but invariably social dramas, which, when dealing with queer issues, become more intense exponentially. But Geography Club’s handling of its material, if on a much lower budget, was to my mind far more inventive and realistic. Like the eponymous group, a film titled Geography Club is not likely to have a vast audience, at least not immediately (some films, like Clue, prove to be slow burns); and I must admit that there were some deliciously cringeworthy moments on the part of the adults in Love, Simon that its predecessor lacked.

But what Geography Club did so well was to present, not only in the character of Russell but in Kevin’s as well, the two distinct arcs of coming out to oneself and coming out to everybody else, and it depicted the possible consequences of the latter with much more force. Not because the consequences for Russell in Geography Club were worse than they were for Simon in Love, Simon, though they were; rather, the power came from how the consequences in the earlier film lasted, whereas the consequences in the later one were all swept away by the end. Geography Club has, on balance, a happy ending, but it’s a complicated and fairly realistic happy ending, and one that doesn’t involve Russell and Kevin riding off into the sunset together; which is almost literally how Love, Simon ends.

In Geography Club, there is moral development in each character, or the definite refusal to develop thanks to cowardice or vanity; Simon and Martin and the rest make choices in the later film, but we aren’t quite left with a sense that they’ve grown. Simon often expresses the fear that everything will be irrevocably different if he comes out, but nothing really is. And that isn’t a terrible message by any means—some people need to hear it; coming out is scary even when it doesn’t have to be—but it is also (in my opinion) a less interesting message than ‘Sometimes change is worth it.’

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[1] I don’t simply mean ‘a boyfriend’ here, though that’s certainly something I want. But whether sad or happy, what (nearly) all movies have in common is resolution, which life often lacks, at least while it’s being lived.
[2] To any LGBT teens who happen to be reading this, for the love of heaven, please do not think that trading e-mails with an anonymous person who might want to shag you is a good idea.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Rosary Meditations

‘Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.’ This he said, signifying what death he should die. 
—The Gospel According to Saint John, 12.xxxi-xxxiii
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The Crucifixion has been one of the principal focuses of Christian piety since the first century, and naturally so. St Paul’s mystical assertion of the Coïnherence set the tone, and the King James translation (to my mind) still captures it more vividly in English than any other I know: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. The interanimation of our being with his, expressed in rare and exceptional cases by the Stigmata, is the principle of all Christian life.

The West has tended to accent identification with the suffering of the Cross. Various devotions to the Passion—the Stations of the Cross, meditations on the sorrows of the Virgin, the very use of the crucifix—are salient features of Latin Catholic piety. The East, by contrast, has tended to emphasize a different image: Christus Victor or ‘Christ the Conqueror,’ drawing on phrases of St Paul and especially of St John, the latter of whom in his Gospel depicts the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension as a single act of divine glory, which might rather be called the Exaltation. Neither image need (or, indeed, can) exclude the other; but different rites have different spiritual styles, and while this is a very good thing, it can lead to neglect of one image or the other.

The Anglican Use, though obviously about as Western as rites come in geographical terms, may bear some relation to the ancient rites of the East. [1] And there does seem to be a persistent tendency, if not to turn, yet at least to glance eastward, among Catholics of the English tradition; perhaps St Theodore of Canterbury [2] bequeathed it to us. In the spirit of the glance eastward, I’d like to suggest some Scriptural meditations for the mysteries of the Rosary, connecting them with the Exaltation seen as a single action.

The Joyful Mysteries

I. The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Gabriel
- In the holy tabernacle I served before him; and so was I established in Zion: and I took root in an honorable people, even in the portion of the Lord’s inheritance.
- I shall put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
II. The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth
- The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant.
- By the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people: insomuch that they brought the sick into the streets, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
III. The Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ at Bethlehem
- The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us: and we beheld his glory.
- Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be shaken at his presence.
IV. The Presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple
- Take thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer him for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
- There shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand as an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
V. The Discovery of the Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem
- Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
- As for that place wherein the ark is laid, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather his people again together, and receive them unto mercy.

The Luminous Mysteries

VI. The Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Jordan
- Behold the lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.
- As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
VII. The Miracle of the Lord Jesus Christ at Cana
- Jesus said unto her, ‘Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.’
- When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand.
VIII. The Proclamation by the Lord Jesus Christ of the Kingdom
- This day this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.
- The night is far spent; the day is at hand. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.
IX. The Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the Mountain
- Behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elijah: who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish in Jerusalem.
- I have resolved to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified.
X. The Institution by the Lord Jesus Christ of the Eucharist
- Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh.
- If then ye have been raised with Christ, set your minds on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

The Sorrowful Mysteries

XI. The Agony of the Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane
- By night I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
- Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none on earth I desire but thee.
XII. The Scourging of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Pillar
- My beloved is radiant and red, the chiefest among ten thousand.
- Lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
XIII. The Crowning of the Lord Jesus Christ with Thorns
- Behold the king with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him on the day of his espousals, and on the day of the gladness of his heart.
- His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself; and he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood.
XIV. The Bearing by the Lord Jesus Christ of the Cross
- Who is this that cometh up out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense?
- Having despoiled principalities and powers, he made a spectacle of them openly, triumphing over them in his cross.
XV. The Crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Death
- I sleep, but my heart is awake.
- As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The Glorious Mysteries

XVI. The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the Dead
- He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.
- That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us.
XVII. The Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ into Heaven
- Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.
- Ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.
XVIII. The Descent of the Holy Paraclete Spirit upon the Cenacle
- He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, rivers of living water shall flow from him.
- I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
XIX. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven
- The Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
- The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
XX. The Crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Theotokos
- I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars upon her head.
- Christ is all and is in all.

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[1] Specifically: the Anglican Use (or Divine Worship as it is now officially called) derives from the Book of Common Prayer, the basis of all liturgies of the Church of England. The Book of Common Prayer was itself derived from the Sarum Use, the most illustrious of the several local forms of the Mass in Mediæval England (and which even influenced rites outside the Isles, as far off as Norway and Portugal). The Sarum Use is descended from the Gallican Rite, which is widely conjectured to be of ultimately Eastern antecedents: either directly, according to the once-popular Ephesine theory that it was brought to Lyons by St Irenæus from Ephesus, or indirectly, through the heterogeneous ancestry of the Ambrosian Rite used in Milan. This may sound far-fetched to a modern reader, but Eastern influence on the whole of the Church was far greater in the first few centuries; monasticism was the child of Egypt, yet rapidly spread as far afield as Ireland, and as late as the eighth century there was a long string of Greek and Syriac Popes.
[2] St Theodore was originally from Tarsus in Asia Minor, and served as the Archbishop of Canterbury from 668 to 690.