12 December 2022

Our Lady; the Moslems; and a great Patriarch.

On December 8, the Feast of our Blessed Lady's Immaculate Conception, brother priests who use the older breviary, in the form bequeathed to us by B Pius IX, will admire the 7th, 8th, and 9th Readings that morning, taken from the writings of S Germanus of Constantinople. Those who desire a fuller account of this important Saint should summon up Pope Benedict XVI's Catechesis on him from 29 April 2009 (ah; those were the days). He was Patriarch 715-730; a defender of orthodoxy, and an enthusiastic expounder of the Immaculate and of her role as Mediatrix of All Graces. In 717/8, when the Moslems were besieging the Great City, he organised a procession of the Ikon of the Theotokos and of a Relic of the True and Life-giving Cross; the City was saved.

I rather wonder whether the following passage in Reading 9 refers to just such an Islamic onslaught. S Germanus, having reached the peroration of a long address, is addressing our blessed Lady on November 21, Feast of her Presentation in the Temple (a day which often finds Byzantine preachers visiting themes which the later West associates with the celebration of the Immaculate Conception).
The unbelieving nations [kakotekhna barbara ethne] who blaspheme against You and the God who is born of You: lay them low and prostrate them beneath the feet of [orthodox emperors]. Strengthen the subject people, that according to God's command they may persevere in the duty of sweet obedience. Crown this Your City, which has You as its Tower and Foundation, with the triumphs of victory. Guard the habitation of God, girding it with strength. Ever keep the beauty of the Temple. Rescue those who praise You from every crisis [peristasis] and distress. Grant ransom to the captives. Show Yourself a comfort to exiles who lack a roof and any protection. To the whole world stretch out Your hand of assistance [antileptiken kheira], that in joy and exultation we may keep Your festivals ... in Christ Jesus, King of all [ton hapanton basilei] and our true God ...*

Thirteen centuries: not much seems to change, does it? What a triumph the creation of Islam, as of all the heresies, is for the Evil One. The captives ... the vast throngs of refugees ... the desecrated churches ... I know, because our politicians have so often explained it, that Islam is a religion of peace; but quite a number of thoroughly atypical Moslems do seem to inhabit the pages of History as century follows century.

I wonder if you dwelt on the logic of the last two or three lines in my extract. In every previous Christian age, and in both East and West, men and women when under affliction have prayed for divine assistance so that they could worship God in "joy and exultation"; or so that "Ecclesia tua tranquilla devotione laetetur". Few of our neighbours, now, pray at all; in as far as hopes are expressed, they seem to me generally to be hopes for a return to Business as Usual; hopes that a decadent Western society may be able to continue its corrupt and sinfully hedonistic way of life without any ill-mannered and murderous interruptions or any vulgar reminders of its own decadence. 

I am most certainly not saying that everybody who goes out for a Friday Night On the Town in a city like Paris or London or Oxford is manifestly in a state of mortal sin ... Of course all of them aren't. But ... well, if I were to design one of those great baroque pictures abounding in allegorical figures of Virtues and Vices, I think I might portray Decadence and Atrocity in covert alliance. Perhaps we will not be free from our present woes until, as a society, we can again pray and hope for ... peace indeed, but peace-with-the-intention-that, as a community, we will be able joyously to throng our churches; so that in every part of our lives, communally and individually, we may serve Christ our King. 

Her Immaculate Heart will prevail. If I could tell you when, I would.

*A crude translation of the rather erratic Latin translation in the breviary, itself lifted from Migne PG 98. I have given one or two interesting phrases from the original Greek. The breviary text omits a prayer for the Byzantine army!


Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

One of the great joys of this blog (and I do not mean by this that a few other good ones lack this quality), is that after days of jolly, chatty and informative posts, suddenly one comes up with a bang before a fine slab of dense theology, expressed in a few lines. This is one such. Thank you.

Those worthies to whose devotional practices you refer in your opening paragraph will, of course, be in the midst of the Octave of the Immaculate Conception, thus this is a timely additament to their meditations.

It is, of course, what we all wish individually, to be left alone by the World and the Devil to get on with our prayers. But you remind us that We must truly and actively want this collectively, for all, by 'the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Your beloved Spouse."

OreamnosAmericanus said...

Your own land is being invaded by Muslims, Africans, Hindus and all manner of deeply non-British "New British."
Your census shows who is gaining and who is losing.
Your capital city is owned by them and ruled by a Saracen.
Your PM is a Hindu.

Do I hear prayers against that conquest?

Or would that be too "nationalistic?"

armyarty said...


Good point!

It seems that all modern immigration is engineered to destroy Christian and also Western Civilization, by replacing it all with things that are neither Christian, nor reflect the culture of the native population.

There also appears to be a sort of anti-White genocidal intent.

Funny thing, during the recent fake controversy over Lady Hussey's supposed racist comments, the Hindu PM thundered that we had to confront racism in Britain! He should look in a mirror before butting his nose into the affairs of the royal household- where it does not belong.

A wealthy and powerful man, who has made it all the way to being the Prime Minister, but who thinks Britain is racist? If that is true, then how did HE get his job?

Moritz Gruber said...

Back in the very recent bad days hopefully never to be seen again (I am more bold than I would have estimated myself to be), the Friday Night in Town, the Saturday Family Visit and the Sunday Mass of Obligation were in good company because all of them were banned. Without denying at least for the first of said bad days the good intentions of those responsible... er, in my view that very much was a cameraderie of things that, although historical circumstances have admittedly sometimes blurred the connection, naturally are comrades.

Human nature is hunted and has fled into the Sanctuary. (G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles XXX)

Is it by the way just me who thinks that (for a single person and assuming no lack of money for either), while both visiting (say) a theatre and restaurant and (say) watching TV and having some pizza delivered home are obviously legitimate pastimes, that if one of them is the decadent one it is certainly the latter?

Eternity said...

Islam today could be a force to purify Christianity. Godless nationalism will not do anything positive. A devout Muslim vs drunken pagans living mindlessly and dabbling in New Age occultism. Something to think about… (and consider the modesty of Islamic dress codes).