Sunday, 19 March 2017

BREXIT Act receives Royal Assent and Britain discards the shackles of the secularist, anti-Christian EU....

 European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017

2017 CHAPTER 9

An Act to confer power on the Prime Minister to notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.

[16th March 2017]

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1. Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

(1)The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.

(2)This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment.

2. Short title

This Act may be cited as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos, the heroic and saintly last Eastern emperor of Byzantium

Constantine XI Dragases Palaiologos (Κωνσταντῖνος ΙΑ' Δραγάσης Παλαιολόγος) lived from 8 February 1405–29 May 1453, dying on the very day that his imperial city, Constantinople, and his Empire, fell to the heathen Islamic marauders.
He was the last reigning Byzantine Emperor, a member of the Palaiologos imperial family. He and his elder brother, Emperor John VIII Palaiologos, were both supporters of reunion with Rome and both became Catholics, as did the sons of Emperor Constantine XI.
His death marked the end of the Eastern Roman Empire, which had continued for 977 years after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 (later revived in 800 with Charlemagne).
He was the eighth of ten children born to Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos and Empress Helena Dragaš, the daughter of the Serbian magnate Constantine Dragaš. 
Devoted to his mother, he added her surname (Dragases) to his own upon becoming Emperor.

Contemporaries spoke well of the Emperor Constantine and he was highly regarded by all.
While his brother John VIII Palaiologos was Emperor, Constantine had became the Despotes ("Despot" meaning "lord" or "master" and not having the same meaning as its English derivative) of the Morea (the medieval name for the Peloponnesus) in October 1443. He ruled from the fortress and palace in Mistra, a fortified town also called Sparta or Lacedaemon due to its proximity to that ancient Greek city.

Constantine XI married twice, on 1 July 1428 to Theodora Tocco, niece of Carlo I Tocco of Epirus and, after her death, on 27 July 1441 to Caterina Gattilusio, daughter of Dorino of Lesbos but she died in August 1442 after suffering a miscarriage. He had no children by either marriage.

After his imperial coronation in 1449, Constantine XI sent a commission under George Sphrantzes asking Mara Branković, daughter of the Serbian Despot Đurađ Branković and Byzantine princess Irene Kantakouzene, to marry him. 
The proposal was welcomed by her father, Despot Đurađ Branković, but it foundered on the objection of Mara herself who had vowed that "if God ever released her from the hands of the infidel she would lead a life of celibacy and chastity for the rest of her days".
Accordingly, the courtship failed and Sphrantzes took steps to arrange for a marriage with a princess either from the Empire of Trebizond or the Kingdom of Georgia
The choice eventually fell to an unnamed Georgian princess, daughter of King George VIII of Georgia.

Sphrantzes started official negotiations with the Georgian king, who had sent an ambassador to Constantinople for that reason.
It was agreed that the next spring, Sphrantzes would sail for Georgia to bring the bride to Constantinople, but, alas for the course of true love, Constantine's plans were overtaken by the events of 1453 and total disaster.
During the absence of his older brother, Emperor John VIII, at the Council of Florence in Italy, negotiating a reunion of the Eastern Orthodox back to the Catholic stem, Constantine served as his regent in Constantinople (1437–1440).
Constantine XI was an equally avid defender of the reunion with Rome.

Emperor John VIII Palaiologos
from Benozzo Gozzoli's 1459 representation of the Three Kings

At the Council of Florence Emperor John VII was called by the Council "Emperor of the Romans", including in the preface to the decree of re-union, Laetentur Caeli of 1439, and his throne was placed, together with that of Pope Eugene IV, by the empty throne of the Western Roman Emperor, that office being temporarily sede vacante as the Prince-Electors of the Empire had yet to decide upon a new Holy Roman Emperor.

The Council of Ferrara had been moved to Florence in January 1439 and made steady progress on a formula for reunion.

On 6 July 1439 Laetentur Caeli was signed by Patriarch Joseph II of Constantinople and all the Eastern bishops but one, Mark of Ephesus, who, contrary to the views of all others, held that Rome continued in both heresy and schism.

Upon their return, the Eastern bishops found their agreement with the West broadly rejected by the monks, the populace and by civil authorities, with the notable exception of the Emperors John VIII and Constantine XI who remained committed to union until the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Turkish Ottoman Empire two decades later.

In 1446 the Sultan Murad II of Turkey, albeit not so belligerent as some Turkish sultans, came out of retirement, once again to attack the Christian Eastern territories, alleging unjustified action by the Byzantine emperors, and led an army of 50,000–60,000 soldiers into Greece to seize power from Constantine in the Morea.
Constantine and his brother Thomas prepared for the inevitable battle. 

Eastern Byzantine Christian Roman Emperor Constantine XI

Sultan Murad used bombards, siege engines and scaling ladders, breaching the walls on 10 December 1446. Murad's janissaries (captive Christian children indoctrinated and turned into Muslim slave-warriors) poured through the opening and the defenders panicked and fled.

Constantine and Thomas barely escaped to Mistra while Murad devastated the coast line, taking 60,000 prisoners for the Turkish slave markets.

When his brother, Emperor John VIII Palaiologos, died childless, a dispute erupted between Constantine and his brother Demetrios Palaiologos over the throne. Demetrios drew support by opposing the union of the Orthodox and Catholic churches. The Empress Helena, acting as regent, supported Constantine.
They appealed to the Ottoman Sultan Murad II of Turkey to arbitrate the disagreement because, by then, the Eastern Empire was having to pay tribute to the Sultan.
Ironically, Murad decided in favour of Constantine, and on 6 January 1449 Constantine was crowned in the cathedral at Mistra by the local bishop. It was rare, but not unprecedented, for an emperor to be crowned in a provincial city.

The Patriarch of Constantinople at the time, Patriarch Gregory III, being in favour of reunion with Rome, was shunned by most of his clergy. Constantine knew that to receive his crown from Gregory would add fuel to the existing fires of religious discord in the capital.

Sultan Murad died in 1451 and was succeeded by his 19-year-old son, Mehmed II, who was obsessed with the conquest of Constantinople and soon found an excuse to besiege the great city. Belligerent Turkish sultans were obsessively bent upon conquering Constantimople (just as they were obsessed to take what they called "the Golden Apple", Vienna, or, even better, Rome).
Facing the imminent threat, and at the eleventh hour, the reunion was officially proclaimed by Bishop Isidore of Kiev in Hagia Sophia, the great Cathedral of Constantinople (now a mosque), on 12 December 1452 (and it is said that Isidore gave communion to Emperor Constantine XI the same day).  
The bishops and people of Constantinople accepted this act as temporary provision, at least until the removal of the Ottoman threat, but it was too late.

On 29 May 1453 Constantinople fell and the reunion with it.   

Sultan Mehmed II prepares to invade the great Eastern Christian Roman capital of Constantinople

Constantine led the defence of the city and took an active part in the fighting alongside his troops.

At the same time, he used his diplomatic skills to maintain the necessary unity between the Genoese, Venetian, and Greek troops.
The poor state of the Byzantine economy meant he struggled to defend the city from the huge, invading Ottoman army. 
Desperate, he appealed to the West, reaffirming the union of Florence. 
Infamously, Constantine's chief minister and military commander, Loukas Notaras, said “Better to see the turban of the Turks reigning in the City than the Latin mitre”. 
He got his wish with lasting consequences.
In the end, the saintly and heroic Constantine XI doffed his imperial finery and fought with his men as a common soldier, leading a final charge against the invading Islamic marauders.

The Muslim invasion of Constantinople: Emperor Constantine XI leads his troops into battle for the final showdown against the heathen invaders...

These were his last words to his soldiers:

"I would not go if there was any benefit to leave the city, but I cannot go away...I will not leave ever. I have decided to die with you."

He died heroically at the head of his men, sword in hand, faithful and loyal to the last.

He knew he was defending the ancient Christian capital of Constantine, the Eastern Roman Empire and ‘όι ρωμαίοι ("hoi Romaioi",“the Romans”, as the Easterners always called themselves) from the infidel horde, a true soldier for Christ defending the bounds of Christendom, faithful unto death.

He remains the hero of heroes to the Greeks (and, indeed, to all Christians) ever since.

Majorem hac dilectionem nemo habet, ut animam suam ponat qui pro amicis suis....

μείζονα ταύτης ἀγάπην οὐδεὶς ἔχει, ἵνα τις τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ θῇ ὑπὲρ τῶν φίλων αὐτοῦ...

"Greater love than this no man hath, that he lay down his life for his friends...."

John 15:13

An ikon of the saintly Emperor Constantine XI

He is a saint for our time so threatened by those same heathen infidel terrorists.
His sons later, living in the West, became Catholics, bequeathed the title King of Jerusalem to the Holy Roman emperors (who already claimed it) and the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George to the Farnese Dukes of Parma whose family head, today HRH the Duke of Calabria, remains the Grand Master of the Order.
Emperor Constantine XI, is venerated privately by both Catholic and Orthodox as a saint and, in the West, as a champion of the reunion of the Churches.

Άγιος Κωνσταντίνος ΙΑ, προσευχηθείτε για μας!
Beatus Constantinus XI, ora pro nobis!
Blessed Constantine XI, pray for us!

The imperial double eagle of the Palaiologoi emperors of Byzantium


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Lent is upon us - the season for repentance and spiritual renewal

On Ash Wednesday...

 Feria quarta cinerum in tempi
(The Wednesday of ashes in the time of the 40 days i.e. Lent...)

On this day Catholics the world over receive on their foreheads the sign of the cross in ash, administered by the priest, to symbolise the transience of life, the need for repentance (ash being a sign of repentence) and the hope of immortality in the life to come.
As he administers the ashes the priest says (in Latin in the traditional rites):

Meménto, homo, quia pulvis es, et in púlverem revertéris...

Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return...

 "What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh..." [Ecclesiasticus 1]
So may we well begin this Holy Season of Lent which so much reminds us of the transience of this life and, in contrast, the joys of heaven to come.

In a sense, there is both joy and sadness in Lent - sadness at death but joy at life, the life to come. Lent signifies the 40 days that our Lord spent in the desert fasting and doing penance for us and giving us an example of the way in which we can discipline ourselves to withstand the temptations of the world, grow in grace and virtue and become more truly ourselves, rather than our appetites.

This is our recollection behind the imposition of ashes on the forehead on Ash Wednesday. We are reminded of our mortality and that we shall return unto the dust from which man was originally made.

The words said by the priest come from Genesis 3:19 when Adam and Eve were made subject to the corruption of death and dying with the words of God ringing in their ears:

"for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return"

 "Remember friends as you pass by,
as you are now so once was I.
As I am now so you must be.
Prepare for death and follow me."

From the Roman Office of the Dead, the Anglican divines took the words of Job and used them for the Anglican burial service. They have since thereby become famous, used in many a film setting. They are powerful words:

"MAN THAT IS BORN OF WOMAN hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up and is cut down like a flower; he flieth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay. In the midst of life we be in death: of whom may we seek for succour but of thee, O Lord, which for our sins justly art displeased. Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful saviour, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death. Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts, shut not up thy merciful eyes to our prayers: but spare us Lord most holy, O God most mighty, O holy and merciful saviour, thou most worthy judge eternal, suffer us not at our last hour for any pains of death to fall from thee." [Job 11]

On Ash Wednesday, the ashes are made by the burning of the palms from the previous year's Easter.

The imposition of ashes signifies sorrow for sin, contrition, spiritual aid and the receiving of grace thereby.

The head, being the seat of pride, is then imposed with ashes in the form of a cross as the priest utters the words reminding us of our mortality.

We should wear this sign of penance as a memento mori (remembrance of death) and as a sign of witness against the concupiscence of the world.

This painting shows the return of the Blessed Virgin after the Crucifixion on Calvary.

In the distance can be seen the 3 crosses upon Calvary mount. It is a fitting theme for the penitential season of Lent - or Great Lent as the Greeks call it. Lent is a time of very moving and indeed hauntingly beautiful liturgy and chant.

Ash Wednesday begins with the reading from Joel the Prophet, Chapter 2:

“Now therefore saith the Lord: Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning. 13 And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. 14 Who knoweth but he will return, and forgive, and leave a blessing behind him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, 16 Gather together the people, sanctify the church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones, and them that suck at the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride out of her bride chamber. 17 Between the porch and the altar the priests the Lord's ministers shall weep, and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare thy people: and give not thy inheritance to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them. Why should they say among the nations: Where is their God? 18 The Lord hath been zealous for his land, and hath spared his people. 19 And the Lord answered and said to his people: Behold I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and you shall be filled with them: and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.”

On the First Sunday of Lent the Gospel reminds us of the precedent for Lent: our Lord's 40 days in the desert fasting.

On the Saturday in Ember week of Lent, when it was customary to have Ordinations to the clerical state, there are 6 readings including the Gospel and many beautiful chants.
Ivan Kramskoy. Christ in the Desert. 1872.

It is customary to sing the Lenten chant Attende, Domine, et miserere - "Listen, O Lord, and have mercy".

Here it is in chant:

To Thee, highest King,
Redeemer of all,
do we lift up our eyes
in weeping:
Hear, O Christ, the prayers
of your servants.

Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy, because we have sinned against Thee!

Innocent, He was seized,
not refusing to be led;
condemned by false witnesses
because of impious men;
O Christ, keep safe those
whom Thou hast redeemed!

Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy, because we have sinned against Thee!

In many communities, both religious and secular, it was also customary to have numerous additional pious devotions including chants, hymns and canticles dedicated to the instruments of the Passion, for instance the Holy Lance and the Holy Nails.

Love never dies...


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Feast of the Epiphany, the manifesting of the Lord to the Gentiles.....also the Feast day of the Baptism of the Lord and of the Wedding Feast of Cana and the first miracle...

The Feast of the Three Kings or Magi
as it was called in the Holy Roman Empire and in German-speaking lands
the Theophany
or Manifestation of the Lord to the Gentiles

on the same day as later occurred

the Baptism of the Lord


the miracle of wine at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee

Whom Kings adore...
"When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and are come to adore him. And king Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it is written by the prophet: and thou Bethlehem the land of Juda art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, privately calling the wise men learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them; and sending them into Bethlehem, said: go and diligently inquire after the child, and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore him. Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold the star which they had seen in the East, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was. And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him: and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their country."
[Matt 2:12 - Gospel for the Mass of the Epiphany]

The shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral

The Shrine of the Three Kings in Cologne Cathedral contains their relics brought from Milan by ship to the City of Cologne on the order of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, in 1164 as a gift to the Prince-Elector Archbishop, Rainald of Dassel.
This gave rise to the English Carol "I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing in".
The relics had first been taken from Constantinople to Milan in 344 by Bishop Eustorgius of Milan.
Around 1199, the Roman Emperor Otto IV gave three golden crowns made for the three wise men as a present to the church of Cologne, the city where, the previous year, he had been elected King of the Romans and Emperor-elect by the Prince-Electors of the Empire (he later gained the support of all the imperial princes at Frankfurt in 1208).

An inscription reads:

Otto rex coloniensis curiam celebrans tres coronas de auro capitibus trium magorum imposuit.
"Otto the King, the court of Cologne celebrating, gave three golden crowns for the heads of the three Magi."
Emperor Otto IV was the only member of the Welf dynasty to be elected Holy Roman Emperor and, being the son of Matilda Plantagenet of England (married to Henry the Lion, Duke of Bavaria and Holy Roman Emperor), he was allied to England in the Franco-English wars. He was also the personal preference of Pope Innocent III, who crowned him Roman Emperor at Rome in 1209, although they later fell out over the issue of the imperial rights in Italy.

Because of the importance of the shrine and the cathedral for the later development of the city, the Coat of Arms of Cologne still shows these three crowns symbolizing the Three Kings.

Construction of the present Cologne Cathedral was begun in 1248 to house these important relics. The cathedral took 632 years to complete and is now the largest Gothic church in northern Europe.

On 20 July 20 1864, the shrine was opened, and the remains of the three Kings and the coins of Philipp von Heinsberg, Archbishop of Cologne, were discovered.

An eyewitness report reads:

“In a special compartment of the shrine now there showed - along with remains of ancient old rotten or moulded bandages, most likely byssus, besides pieces of aromatic resins and similar substances - numerous bones of three persons, which under the guidance of several present experts could be assembled into nearly complete bodies: the one in his early youth, the second in his early manhood, the third was rather aged. Two coins, bracteates made of silver and only one side striken, were adjoined; one, provably from the days of Philipp von Heinsberg, displayed a church, the other showed a cross, accompanied by the sword of jurisdiction, and the crozier on either side.”

The bones were wrapped in white silk and returned to the shrine where they remain to this day to be venerated by all the Faithful.

By long tradition, on the Feast of the Epiphany – called Dreikoenigsfest (the Feast of the Three Kings) in the lands of the old Holy Roman Empire – the Rector of the Parish (or in his absence, the father of each family) visits each house with a cross-bearer, 2 acolytes and 3 children dressed as the kings, one bearing a censer with lighted incense. At each house a little ceremony takes place, the house is blessed with Epiphany water, and over the door lintel of the house the following is inscribed with blessed chalk:
20 + C + M + B + 17

In my house we always perform this traditional ceremony.

This symbolises the present year and the blessing of the three Magi, Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, upon each home.

The symbols remain all year or until the weather has washed them away.
Blessed Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, wise men and kings from the East, pray for us!


The Journey of the Magi

by T S Eliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

+ + +

"three trees on the low sky... I should be glad of another death."

Saturday, 17 December 2016

ADVENT: the Os of Advent...Christmas approaches...

O ORIENS, splendor lucis aeternae et sol iustitiae: vei, et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbra.
O Dayspring! Brightness of eternal Light and Sun of Justice: come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

~~~~~ " ~~~~~

This is the 5th of the 7 great "O" Antiphons of Advent that are sung at Vespers up until Christmas Eve.

These are beautiful prayers that tell of the coming of our God in the flesh using the words of the Old Testament that predict the coming of the Messias.

There are 7 of them. 7 is a sacred number - 7 days of the week, 7 Sacraments, 7 deadly sins and contrary virtues, 7 ages of man, 7 ranks of Holy Orders (Priest, Deacon, Subdeacon, Acolyte, Lector, Exorcist and Porter), 7 ranks of the Christian nobility, 7 diurnal hours of the Divine Office (Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline - Matins being the Night Office) and so on. 7 is the Biblical number of perfection whereas 6 is the number of sin.

The 7 "O" Antiphons are a most wonderful and ancient way to usher the Christian people into the Holy Presence that comes to us in the depth of the night on Christmas Eve as a tiny babe.

Who but God could think of such a marvellous way to come down from on high to visit His people.

Anton Raphael Mengs. The Adoration of the Shepherds.


NOLITE timere: quinta enim die veniet ad vos Dominus noster!
FEAR not: on the fifth day our Lord shall come to you!
[Antiphon of 21 December, 5 days before Christmas]

~~~~~ " ~~~~~


to all readers

 O most Holy Night, all the earth being at peace...

Sebastiano Conca. Adoration of the Shepherds. 1720.

O Adonai,
et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Prince and Commander of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
[Great O Antiphon for 18 December, sung before the Magnificat at Vespers]

Non auferetur sceptrum de Iuda, et dux de femore eius, donec veniat qui mittendus est: et ipse erit expectatio gentium

The royal sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruling prince from his loins, until He come that is to be sent, and He shall be the expectation of the nations.
[Genesis 49:10, sung at Vespers of the Advent Office]

"And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room in the Inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an Angel of the Lord stood by them and the brightness of God shone round about them, and they feared with a great fear. And the Angel said to them 'Fear not; for behold I bring you tidings of great joy that shall be to all people. For this day is born to you a Saviour who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you: you shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger'. And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.' "
[Luke 2:4-14]
[The Gospel of the Nativity of Our Lord, the first Mass of Christmas at midnight]

The Eighth Day before the Calends of January, being


In the 5199th year of the creation of the world, from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the 2957th year after the flood;
the 2015th year from the birth of Abraham;
the 1510th year from Moses, and the giving forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the 1032nd year from the anointing of King David;
in the 65th week according to the prophesy of Daniel;
in the 194th Olympiad;
the 752nd year from the foundation of the City of Rome;
the 42nd year of the rule of Octavian Augustus,

all the earth being at peace,


the eternal God,
and Son of the eternal Father,
desirous to sanctify the world by His most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
nine months after His conception
was born in Bethlehem of Judaea,


[Sung at Prime on Christmas Day from the Roman Martyrology]


ADVENT: Rorate Caeli desuper...Drop down dew ye heavens from above...

Rorate Caeli...

Drop down, dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the earth rain down the Just One! 

Let the earth be opened, and bud forth a saviour!

 Fra' Angelico. The Annunciation. 1450.

The season of Advent is the season before the coming to fruition of the promise of the Archangel Gabriel to our Lady on Lady Day, the Feast of the Annuncation, 25 March, when God our Father gave to us His only Son in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, coming to man as any other man, through the pregnancy of a mother, born from the flesh of the Virgin Mary, truly her Son and thus, as He was later to describe himself:

Ο Υιός του Ανθρώπου - the Son of Man 

Thus did God raise to the highest dignity the supreme calling of Motherhood whereby a woman, saying yes to her husband, to Life, and to God, brings forth humanity in the shape of a tiny child. For God Himself chose to come to us in this way: the great God of Earth and Heaven chose to come to us as a tiny, defenceless child.

This is the way of God: he stoops to conquer; he obeys to command, he becomes frail to demonstrate eternal strength.

~~ " ~~

Rorate caeli desuper et nubes pluant iustum. Aperiatur terra et germinet Salvatorem.

Drop down the dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down the Just One: let the earth be opened, and bud forth a Saviour.
Isaias 45:8

This versicle appears throughout the Offices for Advent and is yet another example of how much more Scriptural the old Roman rite of the Catholic Church is compared with the new rite of Paul VI in which, sadly, it is almost never sung.

Most modern Catholics do not even know that this most beautiful Advent antiphon even exists. The full hymn is sung thus:  

Rorate caeli desuper et nubes pluant iustum.

Ne irascaris Domine, ne ultra memineris iniquitatis: ecce civitas Sancti facta est deserta, Sion deserta facta est: Ierusalem desolata est: domus sanctificationis tuac et gloriae tuae, ubi laudaverunt te patres nostri.

Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.

Peccavimus, et facti sumus tamquam immundus nos, et cecidimus quasi folium universi; et iniquitates nostrae quasi ventus abstulerunt nos: abscondisti faciem tuam a nobis, et allisisti nos in manu iniquitatis nostrae.

Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.

Vide, Domini, afflictionem populi tui, et mitte quem missurus es, emitte Agnum dominatorem terrae, de Petra deserti montem filiae Sion: ut auferat ipse iugum captivatis nostrae.

Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.

Consolamini, consolamini, popule meus: cito veniet salus tua:. quare moerore consumeris, quia innovavit te dolor? Salvabo te, noli timere: ego enim sum Dominus Deus, tuus, Sanctus Israel, Redemptor tuus.

Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.

Listen to these Spanish monks of Santo Domingo de Silos singing the Rorate in the monastic church of their conventual home, calling upon God to forgive their sins as they await with joy, once again, the great Feast of the Birth of our Most Holy Saviour:


Drop down the dew, ye heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the Just One!

Be not angry, O Lord, and remember no longer our iniquity : behold the city of Thy sanctuary is become a desert, Sion is made a desert. Jerusalem is desolate, the house of Thy holiness and of Thy glory, where our fathers praised Thee.

Drop down the dew, ye heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the Just One!
We have sinned, and we are become as one unclean, and we have all fallen as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away; Thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast crushed us by the hand of our iniquity.

Drop down the dew, ye heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the Just One!
See, O Lord, the affliction of Thy people, and send Him whom Thou hast promised to send. Send forth the Lamb, the Ruler of the earth, from the rock of the desert to the mount of the daughter of Sion, that He Himself may take off the yoke of our captivity.

Drop down the dew, ye heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the Just One!
Be comforted, be comforted, my people; thy salvation shall speedily come. Why wilt thou waste away in sadness? Why hath sorrow seized thee? I will save thee; fear not: for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer.

Drop down the dew, ye heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the Just One!

With this extraordinarily beautiful hymn the prayer of the Church during Advent is lifted up to the heavens in song.

Henry Tanner. The Annunciation. 1898

Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II - a timely reminder of what the inauguration of a Head of State and Christian Monarch should look like and be

The Queen's Coronation, a timely reminder....

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place on 2 June 1953 in a profoundly Christian ceremony which derives from the imperial coronation ritual of the Holy Roman Emperors dating back to the coronation of Blessed Emperor Charlemagne by Pope St Leo III on Christmas Day 800 AD, and, indeed, beyond.

The addition, mid-way through the ceremony, of a short Protestant promise to uphold the Church of England, its doctrine and discipline, does not detract from the fact that the remainder of the ceremony is profoundly Christian and entirely borrowed from the Roman Catholic Imperial and Royal Coronation ritual, albeit Anglicans still, for the most part, refuse to admit this.

It was no accident that the fourth nobleman to swear fealty and allegiance to her Majesty, after her husband, HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, her uncle, HRH the Duke of Gloucester, and her cousin, HRH the Duke of Kent, was his Grace, Bernard, the Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of England and the principal Roman Catholic nobleman of the realm.

The Catholic Duke of Norfolk was (and still is), as Earl Marshal of England, the principal officer of state responsible for the ceremonies of every Coronation.

See if you can spot his oath of fealty being given in the recording at the bottom of this post.

The surrounding military ritual, ceremony and glamour, coming from all parts of the British Empire and Commonwealth, adds wonderfully, powerfully and movingly to this great Christian Coronation and reminds one of the fact that the coronations of Holy Roman Emperors similarly had a surrounding military ritual, ceremony and glamour, coming from all parts of the Christian Roman Empire and Commonwealth, from a wide range of races, creeds and cultures.

The ancient Roman Christian Empire and the British Empire have this in common and utterly defy and totally demolish the fatuous, and mendacious, claims that they were racist hegemonies based upon "white supremacism" or some such other fatuous nonsense. Both Roman Emperor and British monarch ruled for all their peoples of whatever race, colour or creed, BUT remained themselves Christian monarchs at the head of a Christian empire.

This is further proof, if it were needed, that the safest, best and second-to-none form of government for all races, creeds and cultures, is that of Christian monarchy - always was, always will be, forever.

With the US Presidential Inauguration in prospect for January 2017, it is timely to remind ourselves of what the inauguration of a true Head of State and Christian monarch and ruler looks like.

Because of the secularism of the US Founding Fathers, the USA is a forcedly secular state, albeit most Americans are Christians of one sort of another, and thus the Presidential inauguration has an unfortunately secular flavour to it.

By contrast, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was an unashamedly Christian celebration and a very sacred and solemn ceremony, moreover, reflecting some of the deepest symbols of the Christian Faith, even despite the addition of a Protestant promise to uphold the Church of England, its doctrine and discipline.

Here is the full recording of the Coronation and surrounding ceremony, ritual and splendour for all to enjoy:


"Zadok the Priest, and Nathan the Prophet, anointed Solomon King. And all the people rejoiced, and said: God save the King! Long live the King! May the King live for ever. Amen! Alleluia!"
1 Kings 1:38–40
Vivat Regina!
God save the Queen!