Daily Archives: May 12, 2011
Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla,
Teste David cum Sibylla.
Quantus tremor est futurus,
Quando judex est venturus,
Cuncta stricte discussurus!
Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulcra regionum,
Coget omnes ante thronum.
Mors stupebit et natura,
Cum resurget creatura,
Liber scriptus proferetur,
In quo totum continetur,
Unde mundus judicetur.
Judex ergo cum sedebit,
Quidquid latet apparebit.
Nil inultum remanebit.
This day, this day of wrath
shall consume the world in ashes,
as foretold by David and the Sibyl.
What trembling there will be
When the judge shall come
to weigh everything strictly!
The trumpet, scattering its awful sound
Across the graves of all lands
Summons all before the throne.
Death and nature shall be stunned
When mankind arises
To render account before the judge.
The written book shall be brought
In which all is contained
Whereby the world shall be judged
When the judge takes his seat
all that is hidden shall appear
Nothing will remain unavenged.
Until not too long ago, as a Catholic you were exposed to the Dies Irae as part of the Requiem, the mass for the deceased. Even if not heard in music, certainly in the popular feeling there was a vivid knowledge of what the dies irae is about. It must have certainly worked as a very sobering reminder of realities that people of those times – like, probably, people of every time – tried not to think too much about.
Sadly for us, those times seem to have gone. I can’t remember an English bishop willing to remember his faithful once about the sheer inevitability of death and judgement and if someone, incredibile dictu, would dare such a feat it would probably be to make some easy populism at the expense of, say, the oil industry.
Nowadays, the prevalent mentality seems to love to sing to a different tune: no “day of wrath” anymore as to nowadays mickey mouse Christians such an event must seem…. un-Christian. Similarly, no “judgment” as they think that God will, of course, “not judge”; joy instead of trembling, forgiveness galore instead of strictness and, of course, nothing that will not be “included” instead of nothing that will remain unavenged.
Alas, I am afraid (and I mean this in the literal sense; which is probably a healthy feeling) that things are not going to go so smoothly, and that those living in the fantasy world of the Last Day as gandhi-cum-pavarotti-peace-event will have a bitter disappointment.
Thankfully, something has remained to bring those ancient wisdom in our houses: music. Among the many composers who have dealt with the issue, I have picked for you the work of my fellow countryman Giuseppe Verdi *. I could write about the Giudizio Universale for very long, but I would never express what this great composer has achieved in, what, two minutes and change. Even if you don’t like classical music, you might do much worse with your two minutes. Very Italian by the way.
Dies Irae, dies illa.
We are well advised not to forget it, and not to downplay it.
* “Giuseppe” is pronounced with the second “e” exactly like the first one. It drives me mad how even at Classic FM they don’t get simple things…
Tomorrow is the 13th May, the day of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin to the children of Fatima.
It migh tbe a coincidence that this be the day for the publication of Universae Ecclesiae, the new Ecclesia Dei document with the instructions about Summorum Pontificum. But I love to think that it isn’t.
The document would appear to be not good, but very good and if the legal part is followed by a robust enforcement (perhaps with the one or other exemplary punishment of some of the most reluctanct bishops, following a pattern that has started to take form in the last months), then this might be an important step forward toward a Church where everyone has reasonable access to a Tridentine Mass.
If I may allow myself the thought, I think it’s fair to say that on the day of John Paul II’s death – around only six years ago – no one would have imagined that things would have progressed so far, so fast. Again, we now need a healthy enforcement.
In all this there was, mind you, no schism. Schism is, I think, rather an excuse for inactivity than a real danger.
I must say, I find American politics extremely entertaining. You find there all the spectrum of nuttiness, from the madmen in “Illinois Nazis”-style of “Blues Brothers’ ” memory to…… some teachers in Catholic institutions.
Take this for example: a group of teachers of several Catholic institutions write to the Speaker of the House, the undoubtedly Catholic John Boehner, and tell him that he is at variance with Catholic teaching. Clearly, the New York Times can’t avoid giving the matter ample space.
Is he in favour of abortion, you may ask? Is he, perhaps, divorced and has remarried? Does he live in concubinage? Is he openly pacifist? Is he against capital punishment? Well, the answers to this are: no, no, no, no and, erm, no.
Mr Boehner is at variance with Catholic teaching because, say the teacher, he is not socialist enough.
Let us read:
“From the apostles to the present, the magisterium of the church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.”
It is fair to say that the “Illinois Nazi”-types are more coherent in their thinking, and more honest in their doings. By such people, at least you know that they are what is written on the tin.
Not so with our teaching heroes. These people say that they are Catholic, but their mentality is completely at variance with those same Catholic principles they – astonishingly – claim to defend. What they want is forced wealth redistribution – that is, statism and socialism in a more or less acute form according to actual manifestation – instead of charity. But as the Church clearly explains to us, socialism and every form of forced redistribution are incompatible with Christian teaching, because they substitute the voluntary, charitable acting in favour of the poor for an unwilled expropriation, and the thankful receiving of one’s neighbours help for an entitlement mentality.
You do not need to read Rerum Novarum to understand all this, though if you do it attentively you’ll be cured from Socialist thinking once and for all. What you must simply reflect about, is that the Church never ever tried to create anything similar to the modern socialist, forced redistribution, expropriation-led systems; not even when her grip to Western societies was such, that every such change could have been easily established and brutally enforced. Modern soi-disant Christians claim, therefore, that Socialism is an improvement on Christian ideals, when two thousand years fo Western civilisation clearly show not only that Christianity steered well clear of it, but that the Christian system was both charitable and efficient.
During those times, we had a system based on an extensive net of private help (mainly driven by the Church’s resources, which were themselves driven by private donations), a net which worked, actually, rather well as it can not be doubted that Christian societies were, by the standard of any other system of the time, the ones who cared the most for the poor.
Christian societies of the past were, for example, charitable enough to think that every child had a right to be born, and that it was the duty of the Christians to charitably provide for every illegitimate child, irrespective of how hard the times. Or you can think of the fact that in those societies, the poor were not subject to hunger and starvation, and shelter and food were customarily apportioned to those who were in need. In fact, the only times when anyone was in dire need of food was in time of famine, but that was a generalised phenomenon due to the technology of the times, and certainly not attributable to Christian ideals.
Modern so-called Christians have completely detached themselves from Christian teaching about wealth and solidarity. To them, “preference to the poor” (another strange way of putting it: the soul of the rich is no less deserving than the one of the poor, nor is he a second-class citizen compared to the former) means forced expropriation, statism, entitlement thinking, and bureaucracy everywhere.
This obviously doesn’t think that the State shouldn’t play a very limited role, when its intervention seems absolutely necessary. But the Christian idea of this intervention is so limited, that Leo XIII doesn’t even endorse it for the establishment of minimum wages, preferring a system based on private negotiations instead. You only need to read and absorb Rerum Novarum to understand how the Christian concept of solidarity has been deformed by modern Socialist thinking; a thinking which makes the assertions of the above mentioned teachers sound utterly un-Catholic and, very probably, disingenuous.
As far as honesty and faithfulness to one’s own ideals are concerned, even the Illinois Nazis have something to teach these teachers.