tree_and_leaf: Alan Rickman in role of Slope, wearing rochet, scarf, swept back hair, and hostile but smug expression (slope)
Admittedly I don't often find myself declaring my love for the Oxford Martyrs, but this display of preacherly snark is rather good:

For preaching of the gospel is one of God's plough-works, and the preacher is one of God's ploughmen. Ye may not be offended with my similitude [...] for I have been slandered of some persons for such things. It hath been said of me "Oh, Latimer! nay, as for him I will never believe him while I live, nor never trust him; for he likened our blessed lady to a saffron-bag:" where indeed I never used that similitude [...] But in case I had used this similitude, it had not been to be reproved, but might have been without reproach. For I might have said thus: as the saffron bag that hath been full of saffron, or hath had saffron in it, doth ever after savour and smell of the sweet saffron that it contained; so our blessed lady, which concieved and bare Christ in her womb, did ever after resemble the manners and virtue of that precious babe that she bare. And what had our blessed lady been the worse for this? or what dishonour was this to our blessed lady? But as preachers must be wary and circumspect, that they not give any occasion to be slandered and ill spoken of by the hearers, so must not the auditors be offended without cause.
tree_and_leaf: Harriet and Peter at a party: caption "Frivoling" (frivoling)
I've been doing a last bit of reference checking, having discovered that I was missing a reference to some Dominican hagiography. This has resulted in me spending the afternoon reading the Vitas Fratrum, a collection of anecdotes about the early days of the Dominican Order. There are a surprisingly large number of stories about Dominic changing water into wine, and an awful lot of ones about people being impressed by his cheerfulness in difficult circumstances (this is unusual in mediaeval hagiography, where there is a general tendency to think that smiling is vaguely dodgy). There is also a vaguely hilarious story about how he would make the rounds of the house at night, and tuck the brothers in if he thought they looked cold. (This, again, is an unusual motif).

More conventionally, we are told, he spent much time in prayer at night. I'm not sure why the following amuses me - apart from the wonderfully pragmatic Dominican attitude to rules - but it does:

"It was his custom to keep nightly watch in the church, and once while praying after the brothers had retired to rest, the devil showed himself under the guise of a friar praying before one of the altars. The blessed Dominic wondered at seeing him remain behind after the signal had been given, so he motioned with his hand for the brother to retire to rest, and the man bowed in return and withdrew. When matins was over he cautioned the brothers not to remain in the church once the signal had been given for retiring; nevertheless the pretended friar did the same thing a second and even a third night. On the third night St Dominic went up to him and rebuked him sharply... At this the devil cried out with great glee: "At last I have made you break your silence!" But the servant of God, seeing how he had been tricked, boldly replied, "Save your mirth for some better occasion, wretch, when it can perhaps profit you; and learn moreover that I am the master of this silence and can speak when I think fit to. You cannot hoodwink me on this score." Then the devil slunk away abashed...."
Vitas Fratrum, 2.15, trans Placid Conway.
tree_and_leaf: Francis Urquhart facing viewer, edge of face trimmed off, caption "I couldn't possibly comment" (couldn't possibly comment)
(Well, via the chap who is reprinting CW's devotionals as a blog; Williams hasn't been communicating with me from beyond the grave, though he is the Inkling I'd think most capable of wanting to try... I mean, communicating from beyond the grave in general, not with me in particular. I sometimes wonder what has happened to my mind and/ or my ability to express myself.)

"I have a mind to draw a complete character of a worldly-wise man . . . He would be highly-finished, useful, honoured, popular—a man revered by his children his wife, and so forth. To be sure, he must not expect to be beloved by one proto-friend [best friend], and, if there be truth or reason in Christianity, he will go to hell—but, even so, he will doubtless secure himself a most respectable place in the devil's chimney-corner."

Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Table Talk.
tree_and_leaf: Photo of spire of Freiburg Minster (14th C broached gothic) silhouetted against sunset. (Schönste Turm)
And a very significant day in the calendar, even if you're not interested in the Annunciation, because it is (a) the old calendar New Year - and how much better as a beginning to the year than the gloom and exhaustion of January and (b) it's also the date on which the One Ring was destroyed and the Gondorian New Year (Tolkien, of course, did this deliberately, as a tiny gesture of piety and to offer a sort of typological parallel between the redemptive acts in LotR and the greater, truer story of redemption in the history of our salvation).

The 'point' of the Annunciation, anyway, is twofold: it celebrates the fact that God is with us as one of us, flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone, and it celebrates Mary's readiness to say 'yes' to God's costly and outrageous demands, which is the pattern and prototype for all openness to the love of God and of others, an attitude which is faithful and loving but not naive and unaware. It is an openness which sees both the world as it is, and how God wants to use us to transform it, as Mary sang in the Magnificat.

I just found a rather striking passage in Rowan Williams' book on the desert fathers, Silence and Honey Cakes:

"Only the body saves the soul. It sounds rather shocking put like that, but the point is that the soul (whatever that is) left to itself, the inner life or whatever you want to call it, is not capable of transforming itself. It needs the gifts that only the external life can deliver: the actual events of God's action in history, heard by physical ears, the actual material fact of the meeting of believers where bread and wine are shared, the actual wonderful, disagreeable, impossible unpredictable human beings that we encounter in and out of church. Only in this setting do we become holy - in a way entirely unique to each one of us."
tree_and_leaf: Walter von der Vogelweide's birdcage helmet-topper. (mediaevalism)
On a manuscript of conventual rules from Pfullingen (the Pfullineger Statutenbuch". Württembergischen LB Cod.hist.4º177):

"Als Ursache für die Anfertigung der Handschrift wurde immer wieder das Fortwirken der Reform postuliert. Dies ist sicherlich eine berechtige Annahme. Kaum haltbar erscheint jedoch der Hypothese, das die Herstellung der Handschrift von dem Verfasser der Statuten, Johannes de Lare selbst, ausgegangen sei, da dieser bereits 1481 verstarb und somit kaum für eine etwa 35 Jahre später stattfindende Schreibarbeit verantwortlich gemacht werden kann."

(The enduring consequences of the Reform [i.e. the Observance Movement] has been repeatedly postulated as the grounds for the production of the manuscript. This is undoubtedly a justifiable assumption. However, the hypothesis that the production of the manuscript was initiated by the author of the statutes, Johannes de Lare, himself is barely supportable, as he died in 1481, and thus can scarcely be held responsible for work carried out thirty-five years later.)

Bacher, Rahel. 2009. Klarissenkonvent Pfullingen. Fromme Frauen zwischen Ideal und Wirklichkeit. Ostfildern: Jan Thorbecke, p 105.
tree_and_leaf: Portrait of John Keble in profile, looking like a charming old gentleman with a sense of humour. (anglican)
I know, I know, I have just been moaning about how much I have to do and should not be faffing about on LJ, but I have to share my delight in the fact that today George Herbert (Priest, poet, 1633, lesser festival) is commemorated in the Anglican calendar, with a particularly fine collect. So have it, and also one of my favourite Herbert poems:


PRAYER. (I)

PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth ;

Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner's towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear ;

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices, something understood.


King of glory, king of peace,
who called your servant George Herbert
from the pursuit of worldly honours
to be a priest in the temple of his God and king:
grant us also the grace to offer ourselves
with singleness of heart in humble obedience to your service;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Amen.
tree_and_leaf: Photo of spire of Freiburg Minster (14th C broached gothic) silhouetted against sunset. (Schönste Turm)
This is a really good sentence, I think:

"For Mark, the Gospel, like human life itself, begins with a cry and ends with a tomb, and in between is the noise and turbulence of the sea."

Eamon Duffy, Walking to Emmaus.
tree_and_leaf: Portrait of John Keble in profile, looking like a charming old gentleman with a sense of humour. (anglican)
From George Herbert, A Priest to the Temple, cap 35.

Another old custom there is of saying, when light is brought in, God send us the light of heaven, and the parson likes this very well, neither is he afraid of praising or praying to God at all times, but is rather glad or catching opportunities to do them. Light is a great blessing, and as great as food, for which we give thanks: and those that think this superstitious neither know superstition nor themselves.

I do love Herbert.
tree_and_leaf: Photo of spire of Freiburg Minster (14th C broached gothic) silhouetted against sunset. (Schönste Turm)
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"
© Abbey of Gethsemani
tree_and_leaf: Portrait of John Keble in profile, looking like a charming old gentleman with a sense of humour. (anglican)
... just found this quotation from Tertullian, which I rather like (both in terms of ideas and in the witty way that it's expressed):

caro cardo salutis - the flesh is the hinge of salvation.

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