Sunday, 28 February 2010

Questions about Holy Communion...

Today, when I got in from church, I reflected (after my three hour nap - I find that sleeping when I'm depressed helps a bit) a bit on the reception of Holy Communion and I have a few questions to put to readers.

Is it judgemental to think that some people are unworthy to receive Holy Communion? I ask this because I see people going up habitually all the time, as though they are entitled to receive. Are they entirely innocent of the Scriptures and the teaching of the Church?

The Scriptures say: Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. (1Cor 11:27).

And again: For he that eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. (1Cor 11:29).

Of course, He alone knows each individual soul and its circumstances, but I often find it annoying that when I go without Holy Communion (because I believe that I am not in a state of Grace and fasting from Midnight) I see people queuing up whom I don't think really ought to have left their place at all. That pious and edifyingly devout man Tolkien made a point of going to Confession every time he received (Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien's biographer, rather disparagingly remarks that Tolkien had an almost ''Medieval'' insistence on frequent Confession, and that he imposed this on his children and his wife - but then, Carpenter was not Catholic so he can't be expected to understand), and since he went to Mass nearly everyday for most of his life, he must have gone to Confession a lot more than perhaps some modern Catholics do. But then, Tolkien was in favour of daily Communion (''seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals'' he admonished his son Michael in 1963, then suffering depression and almost coming to lapse), and I am not. I think that St Pius X erred in this, and I would rather people received only on Sundays and Holydays...

Another question: we all know the arguments against reception of Holy Communion in the hand, but why don't old people, long accustomed to this manifest abuse, accept remonstrance from people who know better than they do? The mental image I get when I see people greedily sticking out their hands is like the vision Frodo saw, under the influence of the Ring, in the Tower of Cirith Ungol when Sam offered to help his Master bear the Ring to Orodruin. The text goes:

'''...You'll find the Ring very dangerous now, and very hard to bear. If it's too hard a job, I could share it with you, maybe?'
'No, no!' cried Frodo, snatching the Ring and chain from Sam's hands. 'No you won't, you thief!' He panted, staring at Sam with eyes wide with fear and enmity. Then suddenly, clasping the Ring in one clenched fist, he stood aghast. A mist seemed to clear from his eyes, and he passed a hand over his aching brow. The hideous vision had seemed so real to him, half bemused as he was still with wound and fear. Sam had changed before his very eyes into an orc again, leering and pawing at his treasure, a foul little creature with greedy eyes and slobbering mouth.'' (The Lord of the Rings, Book VI, Chapter I).

Are people who put out their hands to receive like the thieves and robbers Christ speaks of in St John chapter 10? Or are they pitiable people who are entirely ignorant and deserving of our sympathy? I don't understand why people put out their hands even when they have been told that it is intrinsically wrong, but I do often find that some do so out of contempt for the Faith - or at least contempt for the orthodox way of receiving. Such people, in my opinion, do not receive worthily ergo eat and drink judgement and the ancestral wrath of our first parents unto themselves. They must be rehabilitated that their souls might be saved.

Perhaps some of you are now thinking: ''he's off again...''

Friday, 26 February 2010


A friend has alerted me to this post on another blog. It's about Tolkien's dress sense, which he does mention in one of his letters (not that I can be bothered to look it up, it's from about 1960), saying that he dared to wear in those dull days fine waistcoats and tweed trousers (the money he earned from the publication of his books, which he received in cheques every so often, made his retirement better than his pension alone would have allowed - although he was never extravagent and was generous).

Meantime - Patricius has purchased the iPhone 3G S, which I may regret after several months when the monthly expense starts to take its toll, but I am enjoying it at the moment (I brought it this afternoon straight after work - it's payday you see - an early birthday present). I hearby declare all other phones to be obsolete! I felt like the centre of attention in the parish club after Stations of the Cross this evening! I haven't done a lot to it, since setting the thing up took a while, as well as getting used to various bits and pieces. A friend of mine suggested that I should have spent the money on a Prada handbag to go with my Prada spectacles...

It's all making me feel better; although all this may only be palliative...

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Such counsels...

When I published my last post, it put me in mind of this passage from The Lord of the Rings:

'''Pride and despair!' he cried. 'Didst thou think that the eyes of the White Tower were blind? Nay, I have seen more than thou knowest, Grey Fool. For thy hope is but ignorance. Go then and labour in healing! Go forth and fight! Vanity. For a little space you may triumph on the field, for a day. But against the Power that now arises there is no victory. To this City only the first finger of its hand has been stretched. All the East is moving. And even now the wind of thy hope cheats thee and wafts up Anduin a fleet with black sails. The West has failed. It is time for all to depart who would not be slaves.'
'Such counsels will make the Enemy's victory certain indeed,' said Gandalf.'' (The Lord of the Rings, Book V, Chapter VII).

I expect that a Church Militant with all her soldiers locked up inside doesn't go much in favour with the Evangelical doctrines of bearing witness, etc. If only we had a Gandalf least a local one. That pious and apostolic man in Rome cannot see everything, and his saying anything would only be construed in Parliament as yet more outrageous meddling in British politics, even if the very innocence of children is at stake.

Re: my other posts. I may return to them at some point, but I am hardly living in an environment conducive to writing...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Another one of those posts...

I am still here. Between work, bella domestici (''home wars'' for those of you who don't know Latin) and other commitments, I have been unable to continue my two other posts. One is about Tolkien's concept of the ''long defeat'' of human history, which I guess is pertinent given current governmental legislation - although I really don't see what everyone is moaning about and why they expected anything different. This is a secular, and therefore evil and Godless, nation, and I expect that in my lifetime I shall see laws passed that make even the mention of Christ's name except in scorn a criminal offence, so why bother complaining or trying to change anything? Politicians, who are corrupt money-grabbing thieves, simply aren't interested in what the Church teaches. As for the notorious absence of the Bishops in this unfortunate conflict, did we really expect any better? The Bishops are incompetent compared with earlier Church standards (didn't St Gregory the Great refuse to consecrate a candidate because he couldn't recite the Psalter by rote?) anyway. The Church should instead focus on personal internal reform (by which I mean doing away with the New Rite) than wasting precious time and energy on the irreligious - these are the Last Days afterall, or have certain Catholics forgotten this? Shake the dust from your feet, expel the wicked from amongst you, etc...If I were able, I would retreat into a small ''family of God'' (a small band of ardent Traditionalists, have High Mass everyday and sung Office with Tolkien in between) and speak Latin all day.

The other post is about General Councils of the Church, how they are notoriously ambiguous, how the office of the Pope requires someone who actually knows how to be Pope rather than an arrogant autocrat (I wonder if Ecumenical Councils teach Popes this?) who thinks he can do as he pleases with the Liturgy, etc. I am also going to (although I haven't so yet) work in some of the Syllabus of Errors and compare it to what Vatican II taught. ''Conservative'' Catholics are often embarrassed by the Syllabus of Errors (apostate ''catholics,'' you know who I mean, are simply not interested in it - that is if they've even heard of it), just like the Genesis Creation story; where it plainly teaches something later contradicted by Vatican II, they shy away from it like out-of-date furniture.

Sigh...nothing has ever been entirely to my taste; Western Liturgy should be longer, Low Mass shouldn't exist etc;...except Tolkien, but then I wish that more of his stuff were complete. He was only human and had many other commitments. When The Lord of the Rings was finally published, roughly 17 years after ''the New Hobbit'' was conceived of, the English Faculty at Oxford said: ''so this is what you've been doing all these years! Now we think it behoves you, Mr Tolkien (he was not a D.Phil, but then most Dons weren't in those days), to do some real work!'' As a philologist, and a very good one (he was a pure philologist - fascinated by language and the form of words purely for the sake of words - Literature was secondary), Tolkien knew more than anyone else in the world. I wonder if he'd have been better off writing treatises on complex aspects of philology and English literature instead of writing The Lord of the Rings? Fame puzzled Tolkien, and he was certainly disturbed by fandom in the '60s, too many hippies, and I'm quite sure he'd repudiate the Peter Jackson trilogy. I sometimes wish that he'd never published The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit - but that I myself had discovered the manuscript in the Bodleian Library, as a Classical Moderations student...but perhaps this is just selfish of me?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Questions about Liturgy and Language...

I am writing two other posts at the moment, but both have been stifled by that awful ''writer's block'' phenomenon. But here are some questions to fill the gap:

Is the ability to understand Latin necessarily a ''good'' in the appreciation of Traditional Liturgy? I ask because I can read the Rubrics of the Missal and most of the Propers and Ordinary with relative fluency. Does this enable me to ''understand'' Liturgy better than your average joe?

What is it that determines whether a language is ''liturgical'' or not? Is it the immemorial use of that tongue, such as the Latin and Greek languages? Modern vernacular tongues are by no means ''liturgical'' languages of course...

Sunday, 21 February 2010


Blogging may be slow over the next few days, since I've had another dip, and ''bad atmospheres'' have gone off into other spheres than home for me. I was writing a follow-up post to my ''controversial'' post about Rome and the New Rite, and I may return to it, but it's rather long-winded and I don't think I have the diplomacy to finish it. I significantly modified what I thought the Holy Father should say to people who like the New Rite too...Meanwhile, I have to go to work this afternoon (the first Sunday I have worked for years) for lovely stock take. This means that you go around the shop, scan barcodes with a small machine and enter how many of them there are on the shelf (and they say we're superior to the beasts of the field?). It's even worse in the warehouse where it's all dusty and things are less ordered, and you often end up coming across things you counted earlier and you have to go back etc...

One thing only is keeping me from utter despair, and it's neither Tolkien nor Liturgy...

Friday, 19 February 2010

Does Rome have all the answers?

I often find that when the New Rite is dressed up a bit to look like the Old Rite the result is just farcical. Look at Papal Ash Wednesday this year for instance. I was loath to say anything until a friend emailed me and we had exactly the same grievances. Why are the Cardinal Deacons in Dalmatics rather than Planetae Plicatae? Why are the Cardinals in scarlet rather than violet as is more appropriate for penitential days? It is all in the New Rite and is therefore NOT traditional, even in the slightest, and the spectacle of Cardinals wearing their birettas when not paratus just adds insult to injury. Apropos, why are we supposed to be pleased with it? I thought the Holy Father had more liturgical sense than this...

It all seems to me as though the people in Rome have realised that something has gone wrong in liturgical history and are doing a very fudged job to try and remedy it, getting most of it wrong along the way. ''Oh, if you wear your biretta, your Eminence, I'm sure people with lukewarm liturgical hankerings and no real knowledge will be well-pleased, since you rarely see the biretta in use these days.'' Never mind about when and when not to wear it! If I were the Pope (and I'm sure everyone thinks ''thank God you aren't!''), I would call together all the Cardinals, Bishops, Abbots etc together to Rome, stand up in front of them and say that I repudiate every aspect of 20th century liturgical reform, and that they had better do likewise. Never mind about trying to read things in the light of tradition, which is just a pretentious cop-out and is also Orwellian Doublethink. Something is either good or bad, right or wrong, black or white, traditional or modern. Things can never be both. As regards interpreting things in a traditional context, would you try to read the Qu'ran in the light of Tradition? No, naturally you wouldn't; so why do we try to read things like the New Rite, Nostra Aetate, Unitatis Redintegratio and Gaudium et Spes in the light of Tradition? As Tolkien said of Lewis' idea of the ''miserific vision'' it is rationally nonsense and theologically blasphemous...

What do we do then? If only priests and bishops had ignored what those idiots in Rome said in the '50s. ''I don't care what Rome said, I am observing the Octave!'' You cannot look to Mother Rome when Mother Rome is half infested with Orcs can you? And so, you look to the Tradition of the Church, which is older than Bugnini and Paul VI. I remember from my Latin classes finding something in the Regula Sancti Benedicti that went something like: ''Do not do as the Master does, but only what he says.'' This is good counsel, but I think it rather depends upon the character and honesty of the Master.

So, does Rome have all the answers? Maybe we'll just have to wait a few more years to find out. In the meantime, certainly don't do as they do in Rome, since they're doing everything wrong, just stick with the Old Rite and maybe Rome can look to Tradition and to us traditionalists instead of her own ideas about Tradition...

Thursday, 18 February 2010

I'm still alive...

Forgive the lack of posts recently, but my ISP had a major crash locally. I rang them, only to be told by a computer that they were aware that there was a problem and that we weren't the only ones. I was beside myself with wrath at one point (apparently not a pretty sight), and threatened to leave only my ''calm and reasonable'' mother took over and managed to get us back on. In all honesty, not having had the Internet for almost three days was like being amputated. Indeed, I would go so far as to echo Tolkien's sentiments when he lost the use of his right arm...sometime towards the end of his life (I can't for the life of me find the letter, but it's in there somewhere - if anyone else finds it, do let me know!): that being deprived of the ability to write properly was (to him) like the loss of a bill to a bird.

Updates: I don't feel as depressed as I did, in spite of one or two setbacks. My book proposal was rejected (blast the publishers - this is probably because I didn't enclose a CV - what difference does my work experience make to my ability to write?). Nevertheless, it's been a good week. Most of my books have arrived. The one on ''Greek Love'' is very interesting, although off-putting since it was written by a flaming iron hoof (I should have guessed that when I brought it - I'm going to read it cover to cover though). The others are interesting too. Hildegard's Symphonia is interesting, but irritating sometimes, but I find a lot of Medieval Latin to be inferior anyway. My libellus on Catullus arrived, which Fr Tim was delighted with. It's an old school textbook, and was only 64p! It's a collection of his poems with academic notation and vocab. The Introduction is well worth the read! May blog on this soon. I was asked by Zephyrinus to blog more on Bl Hildegard this evening, so I may devote some time to this tomorrow, now that I am off work. My other book was recommended by a friend and is called Benedictio Aquarum in Vigilia Epiphaniae (The Blessing of the Waters on the Eve of the Epiphany). It's very interesting, since it contains not only two Roman forms, but the Greek, Syriac, Coptic and Russian equivalents. The first Roman form is about 42 pages long; the second one (approved by the SRC in 1890) is two. I have never seen the solemn blessing of waters before, but having gone through this book, I imagine it to be quite magnificent. Maybe we could do it at Blackfen next year...?

Meantime, I am going to bed.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Music and Low Mass...part one?

This is not going to be a complex treatise on Music and Low Mass...I am sorry to disappoint, but I know nothing whatsoever about Liturgy - I merely ask questions. Towards the end of her life, Bl Hildegard of Bingen was placed under ecclesiastical Interdict for having a nobleman, formerly excommunicate, buried with rites within the monastery grounds. Interdict means that she was not allowed to assist at Mass, receive the Sacraments or sing the Office. She was permitted, however, to say the Office in choro. It is likely that there were ''politics'' involved, and some jealousy on the part of the local Ordinary in the decision, but I know too little of the unfortunate circumstances to comment. Anyway, for months of utter silence Hildegard meditated upon the place of Sacred Music in the Divine plan. And so, she sent an appeal to the prelates of Mainz in which she set down her thoughts on the theology of Sacred Music, concluding with a prophetic warning against the enemies of music. She says: ''beware, before you use an interdict to stop the mouth of any church of God's singers...lest you be ensnared in your judgements by Satan, who lured man away from the celestial harmony and the delights of paradise.'' She goes on to warn the erring prelates that if they do not repent ''they will forego the fellowship of the Angelic praise in Heaven, for they have unjustly despoiled God on earth of the beauty of His praise.'' To silence music in Church, therefore, creates an artificial gulf between the celestial harmony in Heaven and the harmony on earth, to put asunder that which God had joined together by His Incarnation.

Music is integral to the Sacred Liturgy. Surely to silence the Liturgy is to put a gag on it? To do some violence or something unnatural to it? You simply cannot get away from the fact that Low Mass is the worst example of a minimalist approach to Liturgy. You should do everything within your means to make the Liturgy as solemn as possible. Anything less is less than litourgia.

I must say again: down with Low Mass, up with sung Office. Low Mass is just horribly wrong, and arguments for it being ''silent,'' ''conducive to private prayer,'' or whatever other nonsense are just stinking red herrings and hot air. This maybe continued...

The Madness of Carcharoth...

Three new books arrived for me this morning (some Hildegard of Bingen; her style of Latin is unique but she can sometimes annoy me because she can't spell! and a book on Greek pederasty - is that a ''morbid'' interest I wonder?), so blogging might be slow over the next few days. My mother might tell you how engrossed I get in an interesting book; it's rather strange, I become oblivious to the outside world! I have long decided my Lenten abstinence, so I indulged in that for the last time (hopefully) for a while yesterday. The thing about my Lenten penances is that I try to carry them over and beyond Easter, but this doesn't always work. Lord willing, I shall be more successful this year. In the meanwhile, let's return to the Lay of Leithian. The Lay was incomplete, and we reached a fateful moment in the last post, but it suddenly cuts off. Tolkien composed various sketches for later stanzas, but I will leave all that out and rely now upon the narrative of The Silmarillion.

Beren thrust the holy jewel into the face of the great Wolf Carcharoth, saying: ''Get you gone, and fly! for here is a fire that shall consume you, and all evil things!'' But Carcharoth was not daunted, and gaping he bit the hand of Beren, still clutching the holy jewel, at the wrist. Suddenly, all his innards were filled with a devouring fire that ate away at him. Howling, he fled before them down into Beleriand, and all the creatures of Morgoth fled before him, such was the horror of his onset. Beren lay in a swoon before the great gates of Hell, for there was venom in the fangs of the Wolf, and Lúthien did all she could unaided to staunch and heal the wound. But they were in dire peril, for behind them in Angband was heard the rumour of fierce wrath suddenly kindled. The hosts of Morgoth were aroused from sleep.

Thus the Quest of the Silmaril was almost doomed to utter failure, but they were saved. For Huan the wise was vigilant, and he had bidden all things watch that they might render the lovers aid. Thus, even as the darts and bolts of the enemy assailed them, Beren and Lúthien were saved by Thorondor the mighty Eagle and his vassals, and souring above the lightning they escaped the wrath of Angband only just. Fire belched forth from Thangorodrim, and there were great quakes that rent the earth, and the lands about were ruined. Thorondor passed over Anfauglith, Taur-nu-Fuin and came over the hidden vale of Tumladen, and Lúthien beheld the white city of Gondolin amid the green jewel of the plain. But she wept, for Beren did not speak and she thought that he would surely die. The eagles set them down at the borders of Doriath and returned to the mountains...

Monday, 15 February 2010

More Catullus...

Last night, I was reading more Catullus. This poem was hard at first, because I always look at the first word - a fundamentally English vice (would that Latin were my mother-tongue). This poem is about fidelity.

Iucundum, mea vita, mihi proponis amorem
hunc nostrum inter nos perpetuumque fore.
Di magni, facite ut vere promittere possit
atque id sincere dicat et ex animo,
ut liceat nobis tota perducere vita
aeternum hoc sanctae foedus amicitiae.

You promise me, O my life, that this, our love
will be pleasant and everlasting between us.
Great Gods, grant that she be able to promise truly
and that she says this sincerely, and from the soul,
so that it may be lawful for us to lead through life
this eternal covenant of holy friendship.

Notice that iucundum (pleasant) is the first word. A more ''English'' or simpler Latin construction would be: mihi proponis hunc amorem nostrum inter nos iucundum perpetuumque fore (thanks to The Cambridge Latin Anthology). I had a similar difficulty when trying to translate St Augustine's introduction to The City of God - both main verbs (defendere and suscepi respectively) were halfway down the page!

I find most modern ''poetic'' translations irksome, because they do not translate faithfully. Edward Caswall's translations of Aquinas' Eucharistic hymns is a prime example. Caswell was a skilled Latinist, but Tantum ergo Sacramentum veneremur cernui does not mean ''down in adoration falling, lo! the Sacred Host we hail;'' it means ''therefore, heads foremost, we venerate so great a Sacrament.'' This is, incidentally, why we make a profound bow at ''veneremur cernui.'' Literal translations do not, of course, capture the beauty of the Latin. No doubt Caswell, and perhaps Fortescue, would accuse me of pedantry and lacking imagination. Translation is an art, but am I sufficient enough an artist to be a translator (my ideal job)? All I do is read, understand, and commit the words to the inferior English tongue.

I am rather bored with Tolkien at the moment, which is why I am doing more Latin. This is clearly advantageous, but for me to be ''bored'' with Tolkien must indicate some underlying problem?

The above photo is of one of my ladies, the beautiful, though notorious, Parisian courtesan Liane de Pougy, who later in life became Sr Anne Mary. She looks like a Gainsborough portrait doesn't she?

Sunday, 14 February 2010

An elegy...

This elegy is one of my favourites. It is a short poem by Catullus, one of the neoterics, whose style I find very attractive. Catullus was in love with a woman he called Lesbia, whom Apuleius identifies as Clodia, the sister of Clodius Pulcher, and he describes her as confident, very beautiful and cultured. However, it turned out that she had a series of affairs, and the style of his love poetry changed as a result. It was quite tragic, but see what you think. The translation is my own:

Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris? Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior. I loathe and I love. Perhaps you enquire, why I do this. I know not, but I feel it being done, and I am tormented.


If you love books like me, I'd strongly recommend They have millions of books on sale, many of them really rare and quite cheap. I know I am hard up at the moment, but I just ordered two new books - an anthology of Bl. Hildegard of Bingen (in Latin with notes) and selections of poems by Catullus (in Latin with notes). They were 81p and 64p respectively...

Saturday, 13 February 2010

A full day...

Today was the Day with Mary at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen. I arrived at the church at around 9:20am to help set up, but there was little for me to do. The Day with Mary is now quite familiar, having experienced it many times (last year I had to rush off to work after Mass, but I didn't have to undergo this unfortunate declension this year!) in various churches. We went in procession into the choir for prayers and devotions, the crowning of the Statue etc, after which we had an outdoor Procession with the Joyful Mysteries. Mass began afterwards, Cum Iubilo (my personal favourite), and Fr Tim preached a varied and edifying sermon on Mary's role as the Destroyer of Heresies; after which we had lunch. I brought my own lunch and sat down to read Catullus in the car park, but it was too cold and noisy out so I went inside. It was here that I had a chat with two good friends of mine, who ''put things into perspective'' for me (as my mother often says - I lack ''perspective;'' being too wrapped up in myself). It was edifying. Often I complained to my mother, when she said things about perspective, that this was just a veiled way of saying: ''there are others worse off than you are, so you have no right to complain about anything.'' Yes, I suppose this is a way of looking at it, but perspective is always good to have, even if it doesn't alter the way we feel about things. I still feel sour about University and the domestic situation - and a host of other things - but perhaps the enveloping bitterness is mitigated somewhat by perspective. Having contact with people is a blessing in this sense. One of the characteristics about the Autism Spectrum is an inherent desire (inherent in the sense that this is the ''fulfillment'' (again, where is Tolkien the master of words when you need him?!) of being a desire to be ''alone'') to be alone, perhaps more than is healthy for a human being, who is necessarily a social being - even hermits, physically alone, feel the presence of God. But being alone all the time is manifestly disadvantageous. If I had spent the day at home, refusing contact with the world, then perhaps I'd have crawled up with bitterness and nursed growing sentiments of hatred, etc, etc; don't let us go down that path.

Suffice to say, I was crestfallen, especially about some grievous news. It's funny how all one's troubles pale into insignificance compared with other problems. Anyway, after lunch we went back for Exposition, a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament (I was the umbella-bearer), and more Exposition (there were sermons during Exposition, and there was also a spot-light aimed at the Blessed Sacrament as well...). The Pange Lingua was not sung during the Procession, which I found disappointing, since I adore this hymn, but the Franciscan Sisters led the procession in other pertinent devotions. Afterwards, there were more Rosaries (with the ''Luminous'' Mysteries - which I, of course, avoided - what was that old pagan maxim? ''Nothing can be both new and true''...?) and other devotions. I was tired by this time and desired repose, and so I went into the hall for a cup of tea and to catch up on Catullus, neither of which I got, the place being overrun with noisy children! I adore the children; I think the mere fact of youth is wonderful, and I tend to dislike the old and the sensible (this is, incidentally, one of those unexplained mysteries of Asperger Syndrome - they get on so much better with people either far older than themselves or a lot younger than them. I am not sure why I have adopted a somewhat avuncular disposition to children, but I may devote another post to this soon). The children, however, very often do not understand me...

There was a tea-break at 3:30pm, where I caught up with my uncle's Godmother Maureen (a parishioner at the church for some 50-odd years, she cannot herself remember) and another friend (you must be thinking I did very little prayer at this Day with Mary!). Benediction followed. I was particularly impressed by the fact that the whole congregation joined in singing the Tantum Ergo Sacramentum (the church was filled almost to capacity, and so the force of this hit-home and was quite moving). One of the visiting young servers asked, when we came back into the Sacristy, whether it was ''tissue-time'' yet, which sure enough it was, and we went back into the church to wave good-bye to Our Lady for another year, waving our tissues and singing hymns with the richest sweet devotion. Fr Finigan then blessed the scapulars and miraculous medals and the day was over. After helping to clear up afterwards, I was assured that I was in fact more a help than a hindrance today (a nice change there then!), and I was invited to dinner at a friend's house, which was wonderful. The only bad thing was having to go home afterwards...

I want to assure readers that I have read and digested all your emails, many of which were moving and profoundly interesting. Many thanks for your kind offer of prayers, and I shall for my part hold you in my own prayers, immediately and continually, for what they're worth.

By the way, I don't know if you know, but in my present state of financial want (it's not as bleak as I let on - I just have a tendency to be melodramatic sometimes) I brought a lottery ticket yesterday for the Euromillions (the first I have ever brought). I received an email this evening informing me that there was some ''exciting news'' about my ticket, and thinking that I had won the jackpot, I went to view my ticket. I won £7. That is the last time I shall ever buy a lottery ticket.

Friday, 12 February 2010

The captives sad in Angband mourn...

We're drawing towards the end of the Lay of Leithian, at least as it was composed by Tolkien in verse. We still have far to go with the narrative, but the Lay is almost over...some of you may be glad to hear! When I started my synopsis of The Silmarillion, in May of last year in fact, I had not given thought over much as to how long it would take. When I arrived at the gest of Beren and Lúthien, I decided that it is better to read the legends of the Elder Days in verse, since this was how the Hobbits would have heard them when they stayed in Rivendell. When we come to the Lay of the Children of Húrin, I think I shall just skip the verse and let you read it alongside an abridged synopsis. I can only do my best.

In the last post, we arrived at the ''moment-of-truth'' (as the saying goes). Imagine, the Dark Lord and his diabolical court are in an uneasy sleep, ready to wake up at any moment, and these two furtive creatures, frail and alone and utterly beyond aid, have wrested one of the Silmarils from the Iron Crown. Then, Beren conceives of going beyond his Oath to Thingol and attempts to cut all three from the Crown. The knife snaps! A splinter wounds the cheek (in the Lay it is his brow) of Morgoth and he stirs in sleep, as does his court. What happens next? The Lay goes on:

Up through the dark and echoeing gloom
as ghosts from many-tunnelled tomb,
up from the mountains' roots profound
and the vast menace underground,
their limbs aquake with deadly fear,
terror in eyes, and dread in ear,
together fled they, by the beat
affrighted of their flying feet.
At last before them far away
they saw the glimmering wraith of day,
the mighty archway of the gate -
and there a horror new did wait.
Upon the threshold, watchful, dire,
his eyes new-kindled with dull fire,
towered Carcharoth, a biding doom:
his jaws were gaping like a tomb,
his teeth were bare, his tongue aflame;
aroused he watched that no one came,
no flitting shade nor hunted shape,
seeking from Angband to escape.
Now past that guard what guile or might
could thrust from death into the light?
He heard afar their hurrying feet,
he snuffled an odour strong and sweet;
he smelled their coming long before
they marked the waiting threat at door.
His limbs he stretched and shook off sleep,
then stood at gaze. With sudden leap
upon them as they sped he sprang,
and his howling in the arches rang.
Too swift for thought his onset came,
too swift for any spell to tame;
and Beren desperate then aside
thrust Lúthien, and forth did stride
unarmed, defenceless to defend
Tinúviel until the end.
With left he caught at hairy throat,
with right, from which the radiance welled
of the holy Silmaril he held.
As gleam of swords in fire there flashed
the fangs of Carcharoth, and crashed
together like a trap, that tore
the hand about the wrist, and shore
through brittle bone and sinew nesh,
devouring the frail mortal flesh;
and in that cruel mouth unclean
engulfed the jewel's holy sheen.
[Here ends the Lay of Leithian]

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Student Life and me...

Gosh, where to begin...

Some of the comments I received (not all of which have been published) for the last post have given me a lot to think about. I daresay, they have told me more about myself, how I see things at any rate, than I could ever have personally imagined. Essentially, it's all about fitting in I think, or at least being able to facilitate my abilities in a context which, without a piece of paper telling the world I am qualified, I would otherwise be unable. ''Having a piece of paper...''; this is how I see having a Degree when my mind is riddled with thoughts of abject fatalism and hopelessness (being acutely aware of my present failure in academia - I shall return to this presently) - it brings about feelings of scorn for people who do have that piece of paper: thoughts like ''just because you conformed to a sausage factory mentality, churned out pieces of derivative drivel, and sat a few exams, doesn't make you more intelligent than me.'' Etc, etc. Naturally, when I read the works of Tolkien and Wilde (my hero), both men who left Oxford with Firsts in Classics and Literature, such bitter sentiments are waived, for I perceive then the inherent worth of University education. Genius pervades their works. But again, this starts the cycle off - why am I not educated? Why did I not go to Oxford? Why did I not learn Latin and Greek at school (these subjects were the nucleus of Tolkien's education at King Edward's) - never mind about P.E and other such useless pursuits. One thing I told my P.E teacher at school, when held to account for my constant absenteeism, was that P.E was the recourse of the markedly stupid. Education is found only in the study of Latin and Greek.

I digress. When I went to University in 2006, I was the happiest soul on earth. I had lots of money, I met a few like-minded people (not all of the students were to my taste), and I was studying Latin for the first time (I adored my teacher, I still do - she was the most educated person I had ever met). My difficulties soon started though. My first essay I wrote easily (on Origen's interpretation of Scripture), for which I was given a First. The next essay, however, (on Fundamental Theology), was different. The subject matter seemed rather boring, and sitting down trying to relate theologies of revelation proved too much, so I put it off until the next week. Instead, I went into the stacks to read periodicals and St Augustine. Then the next week came round, and I returned to the work flippantly, but it was still too boring, and the glamour of learning Latin and finding a well-stacked library were still new upon me, so I went down again into the stacks. Then the deadline finally arrived, and I spent all day (literally in fact; I missed all lectures - except Latin of course, you understand that I would never miss Latin) that day at my computer, surrounded by books of theology (even Tolkien), typing away until 5:00pm. I produced an essay several thousands of words beyond the word limit, but which I thought was good (considering the subject area was not my strong point, and I was not that interested). I submitted the essay at reception, filled in the relevant paper work, and then went off for Mass at Maiden Lane.

Naturally, I was marked down for several things; chief among them being relevance to the subject matter and failure to properly answer the question (also not adhering to the word limit had consequences). Incidentally, the essay was described as ''highly conservative and militant.'' I was given a 2:2, which to me is just a polite way of saying ''you're not good enough;'' and I went away from my tutorial feeling rather sour and depressed, and I reproached myself. I found no solace in Latin (which was still, of course, rudimentary) or even Tolkien, and so I went away. After Christmas, I never went back.

Between January 2007 and enrollment again in September 2007, I squandered most of my life savings on ''riotous living'' (let's say - I will not elaborate over much). I kept my Latin up by purchasing The Cambridge Latin Course. However, knowing the reaction my parents would have, I never told them anything. And so, I had to get up early every morning and spend the days trying to occupy my time. I went all over the place - up town, to Oxford, down to the coast, to the cinema, to Bluewater etc, wasting my money. I got bored of this eventually (as you would), and gave up. When my parents asked me why I had stopped going to University, I riddled them with falsehood about various things (tutors going away to Conferences, sabbaticals, Reading Weeks etc). I was also low on funds, and so there was little I could do.

I did enroll again, with the aid of my therapist, and this time I was prepared to do some real work. I started the Degree from scratch, for the sake of ease (I didn't want to have to catch up on most of the work you see), and I did markedly better than my last attempt. For that essay on Fundamental Theology I got a 2:1 this time - which I was prepared to accept, knowing my limited capacity to cope with a tedious subject, and 2:1 is at least next to First. But similar difficulties arose with my essay on the Council of Chalcedon. It was never an intellectual difficulty with the subject matter; this was never a problem. It was, rather, an inability to produce substandard work within a certain timeframe. I am terribly pedantic and a natural perfectionist (typical features of Asperger Syndrome), and so (and this is especially pertinent to an essay on Christological heresy!) trying to handle the philological significance of certain words proved tremendously difficult. I spent literally hours ruminating over the significance of words; how Substantia relates to Hypostasis, how Ousia can be distinguished from Essentia etc. I missed the deadline, but knowing my difficulties, my tutor was clement and allowed me extra time. When I did not produce the essay, I went to have a meeting with him, in which he said to me: ''Patrick, you're not being asked to compose a written masterpiece or a treatise on Chalcedonian Christology; moreover, this is an Undergraduate essay and I think you're taking it a bit too seriously.'' In the end, I sent him an attachment of what I had composed so far, and he gave me a First, since he said he knew where I was going with it, and that it was by far the best he'd seen that year. Was then all that trouble in vain? All those long hours I had spent, reading and re-reading The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon, St Cyril's letters to Nestorius etc. I had similar trouble with other essays, although I was confessedly not as interested with them. The best essay I wrote was about the history of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in relation to liturgical devotion and the other Marian dogma and titles. I enjoyed writing that immensely, and I was again given a First. Alas, though, that I was not wise enough to save it to a USB - my computer crashed sometime two years ago, and with it went everything.

It was not, however, all Firsts. Certainly Latin and Church History were going smoothly, but my other subjects suffered terribly. Biblical Studies I found altogether boring, and so my essays in those subjects were substandard. I was given a 2:1 for my essay on Creation Myths (Gilgamesh, the Atrahasis etc), only because my tutor thought there was ''intelligence behind it.'' I hated getting marked below a First. I had as much of a problem with my essay on St Paul's Epistle to the Galatians as I had with Chalcedon, although this time, I never in fact submitted it for marking. I was given over, moreover, to endless distractions. When I should have been reading the exegetical works of Scripture, I was instead reading the Corpus Christianorum; when I should have been studying St Mark's Gospel, I was translating Virgil. Then came the exams, and I never sat them. I looked at past exam questions, and I feared that my knowledge of the subject matter was lacking. When I enrolled again in 2008, I opted to take the Degree part-time, which suited me better (I would have only one essay to concentrate on at a time, and more time to complete it), and this would have worked, but owing largely to domestic trouble with my sister, I was again frustrated by failure.

The year 2009 came around, and I was no closer to achieving my Degree than when I started three years before. And so, this is the situation: by enrollment in September 2009, I had failed to procure the outstanding work and sit the exams, and so, the decision of the Academic board was that a degree at this stage was not suitable for me. I was literally crushed by this. I suppose the only good thing was that I could devote myself entirely to Latin. But the bad things are: I have no money, no Degree, no prospects and my parents have made it quite clear that I am a burden to them.

What do I want, then, out of life? As a schoolboy, I always aspired to be a University Lecturer, and to work with Latin in some context. As it is, I feel misplaced. Failure in academia, to me, is tantamount to being thrust outside into exile, to wander hopelessly through foreign kingdoms. This is not a grandiloquent way of expressing an inability to cope with failure; this is as it is. I do not belong in retail, and whenever I clock in at work, and I listen to the people with whom I work - common Godless people talking about nonsense all the time. Only yesterday in fact, a woman came up to me with a big grin on her face and she had just come in from outside (it was snowing), and she said: ''ooh, innit cold out'' (I cannot conceive of how to type a strong cockney, or at least local, accent), to which I asked her what she meant by cold and why she had any grounds for not expecting cold weather on a Winters day. Her attempts at answering were, of course, feeble, and I told her, ergo, that she had said something entirely meaningless. I think instances like this demonstrate why most people I work with think I am conceited.

What, then, do I want? I want to go back to University in peace, to study a subject (Classics) I find interesting, and to be free from belli domestici (how I wish my sister was never conceived) and distractions. I want to to be accomplished and recognised. I want art and beauty. A lot of the difficulties I had at University were a direct consequence of my condition. Someone asked me once: would you, then, wish to be cured? Certainly not, no matter how much one might curse the inferiority of one's circumstances. Were I cured, what would be left of me? I am terrified of poverty (I am not, however, greedy for money) and disrepute; but unless things change for the better for me, this is all there is. Like St Francis of Assisi (one of my patrons), I would become perforce wedded to poverty; but I doubt it would suit me as humbly and pertinently as it suited as noble an Apostle of the Gospel as St Francis.

A friend gave me a lift home from Church a few weeks ago, and we were talking about my life, such as it is. And she said to her son: ''Patrick is very intelligent.'' To which the boy replied: ''if he's so intelligent, why is he still in retail?''

I said nothing then, but I thought to myself ''yes, why am I still there?''

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

O tempora...

I was not sure, when I finished this, whether or not to publish it, but I am going to anyway, since no one else that I know seems interested. You may, if you get to the end, think this blog to be nothing more than my vent for frustration, but there needs to be some vent, I suppose. There is not much room for University drop-outs is there? In hindsight, going to University to read Theology is probably one of the worst choices I have ever made. I have landed myself in a Student Finance debt, which I cannot possibly pay off for years to come, and therefore the prospects of my ever getting a respectable career have vanished completely. I don't see why some of them cannot be waived, or refunded by the University to the local council, since I did not in fact come away with a Degree, and I certainly did not benefit from the few lectures I attended.

I have been looking around for another suitable Degree, and I found one which was almost perfect (part-time over four years). But there is always a grotesque catch isn't there? The Degree is indeed suitable, especially pertinent for me, but they say that you can't apply if you're in debt to the Student Finance people. Heaven and earth! Am I to remain in a low-paying, zero respect job for the rest of my adult life? I can put it no better than saying that it feels like there is a great ugly bully holding a degree just over my head, and that I am jumping and jumping, trying to reach it in vain, and that it is just out-of-reach, and that this bully is laughing his socks off. And people? They're simply not interested. My therapist just sits there shaking his head, and going through ''options'' which I am simply not interested in. It's all right for him, though; he has a Masters degree, his wife is also a psychologist, and he has a lovely house in Kent with no financial worries at all. My parents? Their response to my difficulties at University is to simply stop speaking to me, or in my father's case to start bellowing at me about ''contributing'' - and then they wonder why I never tell them anything! Quem patronum rogaturus and all that...

The whole thing is enough to make me crawl into some hole and die, cursing both life and death - especially, and this is what angers me the most, when I see people, thousands of people, going to University and coming away with Degrees (in stupid things like Media Studies and James Bond films!) when they don't, in my estimation, deserve them. I would go back to Tolkien's day, when University was exclusively for the rich and the intelligent.

My father summed it all up the other day. He said: ''Patrick, no one cares if you can read Latin. People do care, however, if you say 'I can read Latin, and I earn £100,000 a year...'''

St Scholastica...

Happy Feast all! Today is the feast of St Scholastica, the sister of St Benedict. Early monastic history is fascinating (although in the days of Sts Benedict and Scholastica, this can hardly be called ''early''). Quite off topic, but anyone who is interested in the rites of Holy Week in 4th century Jerusalem, and in the history of nuns, might like to read the Itinerarium Egeriae (Travels of Egeria), a diary, written to her sorores, about the liturgical practices of Jerusalem. We read parts of it in Latin and I found the whole thing fascinating. Of course, her Latin can be rather eccentric at times, but don't let's hold that against her.

I say all that because I know nothing at all about St Scholastica, other than her being related to St Benedict...

Monday, 8 February 2010


Whilst in the Theology Library this afternoon, I was nosing through the rubrics of The Sarum Missal (an 1868 tome). It is entirely in English, which was disappointing, but it was interesting nevertheless. I turned to the section on Collects, and it said (I didn't in fact borrow it, so this is not verbatim): it is never lawful to have more than seven Collects, since Christ made no more than seven petitions in the Lord's Prayer. I had never hitherto thought of this, but it is certainly interesting to have established a link between Collects (the Latin is simply Oratio, or Prayer, and O'Connell, typically pedantic, seldom calls them Collects. I heard once that the word collect symbolises the ''gathering together'' of the prayers of the Faithful, and the Conclusion is addressed, as are all the ancestral Christian prayers, to the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Ghost) and the Lord's Prayer, said to be the most perfect. A nice way of summing up. I wonder how old the Collect is?

I told all this to an experienced MC this evening - who, not surprisingly, laughed and told me to get a life...

More Jonah...

Forgive the lack of posts but I have been lacking a lot of energy lately; I have finished my translation of Jonah (before the publication of Tolkien's version too!), and the inevitable presence of a few errors is probably due to this (at one point, I had to scribble out a whole sentence because I got the tense wrong - I wrote to my teacher in the margin ''no Patrick, operiantur is a Present Passive Subjunctive!''). I shall send it off to my most excellent Latin teacher tomorrow (that is, if I don't see her). I had never read Jonah before, and having done so in Latin, I don't much like him - he was rather obstinate and foolish. In an unpublished letter to his son Michael in 1957, Tolkien wrote: ''Incidentally, if you look at Jonah you'll find that the 'whale' - it is not really said to be a whale, but a big fish - is quite unimportant. The real point is that God is much more merciful than 'prophets', is easily moved by penitence, and won't be dictated to even by high ecclesiastics whom he has himself appointed.'' (The Italics are mine) I wonder, given the time he wrote this, and the curious use of the word ''ecclesiastics'', whether Tolkien had more on his mind than Jonah?

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Rare Tolkien photo...

I found this just now on The Tolkien Library. It is a rare photograph of a Tolkien family gathering in September of 1955. From left to right: Edith (Mrs Tolkien), Mrs Cassidy, Hilary (Tolkien's younger brother), Fr John Tolkien (Tolkien's eldest son - interestingly, I have never in fact seen a photo of him), the Master himself, June, Angela and Tolkien's aunt (then aged 84) Jane.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Liturgy and conscience...

This is not going to be a long post, since I have not the energy at the moment. Someone said something to me the other day about the importance of staying within one's parish for Liturgy instead of going off to other churches dotted about London for Liturgy ''more to my taste.'' My mother said something very similar herself in her veiled attacks on the ''snobbish'' Latin Mass. Is this such a bad thing, I ask? It is a great boon, living in suburban London that is, to have so many more traditional Rite Masses on offer (I say more traditional because not all of them are the Old Rite). I don't go to all of them, but I go to a fair number of them. But forgive me if I don't quite understand the grievance about it all. A former Protestant friend of mine, we have since fallen out of contact, sympathised with me about this and said: ''I expect it is better to go to a church farther afield where one feels more comfortable in the worship of God than to simply 'throw in the towel' and just feel miserable in a local parish setting.'' What he meant, of course, was that I was doing the sensible thing according to the dictates of my conscience. Liturgy is the most important thing in this world.

When the Traditional Latin Mass was in exile (in reality, if not according to the law), I was forced to travel all over the place for a decent Mass, and I feel at home in the Traditional Mass. At New Rite Masses, I often feel very hot inside and I do my utmost to suppress a rising wrath, when I consider the violence so many reprobate men did to the Liturgy...well this is not about all that. I am lucky because my actual parish has Traditional Liturgy, so for Sundays and Holydays I don't have to travel into town. Parishes are important, but I would say that in the last 40 years of liturgical crisis, they have become less important. I would rather go to a Mass where I am a complete stranger than go to a Mass in my parish at which I didn't feel at all comfortable. How can I worship the Lord in spirit and in truth if I am sat there feeling sullen and ill-tempered? I am glad to have a parish, since the parish ought to be (and is, in my case), a love oriented and catholic setting, modeled on the Church herself which mirrors the inner life of the Blessed Trinity; but if the Liturgy vanished, what then...?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

More Quest of the Silmaril...

The last time we looked at the Lay of Leithian, we saw how the maiden Lúthien put Morgoth, the mightiest of all the dwellers in Eä, to shame, even in his own hall. The Lay goes on...

Beneath the vast and empty throne
the adders lay like twisted stone,
the wolves like corpses foul were strewn;
and there lay Beren deep in swoon:
no thought, no dream nor shadow blind
moved in the darkness of his mind.
''Come forth, come forth! The hour hath knelled,
and Angband's mighty lord is felled!
Awake, awake! For we two meet
alone before the aweful seat.''
This voice came down into the deep
where he lay drowned in wells of sleep;
a hand flower-soft and flower-cool
passed o'er his face, and the still pool
of slumber quivered. Up then leaped
his mind to waking; forth he crept.
The wolvish fell he flung aside
and sprang unto his feet, and wide
staring amid the soundless gloom
he gasped as one living shut in tomb.
There to his side he felt her shrink,
felt Lúthien now shivering sink,
her strength and magic dimmed and spent,
and swift his arms about her went.
Before his feet he saw amazed
the gems of Fëanor, that blazed
with white fire glistening in the crown
of Morgoth's might now fallen down.
To move that helm of iron vast
no strength he found, and thence aghast
he strove with fingers mad to wrest
the guerdon of their hopeless quest,
till in his heart there fell the thought
of that cold morn whereon he fought
with Curufin; then from his belt
the sheathless knife he drew, and knelt,
and tried its hard edge, bitter-cold,
o'er which in Nogrod songs had rolled
of dwarvish armourers singing slow
to hammer-music long ago.
Iron as tender-wood it clove
and mail as woof of loom it rove.
The claws of iron that held the gem,
it bit them through and sundered them;
a Silmaril he clasped and held,
and the pure radiance slowly welled
red glowing through the clenching flesh.
Again he stooped and strove afresh
one more of the holy jewels three
that Fëanor wrought of yore to free.
But round those fires was woven fate:
not yet should they leave the halls of hate.
The dwarvish steel of cunning blade
by treacherous smiths of Nogrod made
snapped; then ringing sharp and clear
in twain it sprang, and like a spear
or errant shaft the brow it grazed
of Morgoth's sleeping head, and dazed
their hearts with fear. For Morgoth groaned
with voice entombed, like wind that moaned
in hollow caverns penned and bound.
There came a breath; a gasping sound
moved through the halls, as Orcs and beast
turned in their dreams of hideous feast;
in sleep uneasy Balrogs stirred,
and far above was faintly heard
an echo that in tunnels rolled,
a wolvish howling long and cold.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


I have often said that I received no education at school. This is not a slight against teachers, teaching being a noble profession (that is not, of course, to say that all teachers are noble), but it is a self-evident truth. I am not very well educated. I am privileged to know, and have spoken with, many well-educated people (my tutor, my Latin teacher, my parish priest and many others). I have often spoken with them about their education, and told them about mine, and I always end up feeling altogether rustic and brought up ill. My Latin teacher, for instance, read at least three works of Shakespeare a year at school. I, on the other hand, read only two in my whole five years at school (Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet, which I cordially loathed). Her History lessons spanned two and a half thousand years; mine didn't go beyond the Suffragettes. I could go on, but you probably know the story already. With the exception of Latin, the only things I know that I consider to be of any intrinsic worth I have taught myself. And what a horrible thing to have to own up to - being an autodidact! I daresay, my only real education came merely four years ago, when I was taught to conjugate Paro in the Present Tense...

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

In Purificatione Beatae Mariae Virginis, quae dicitur ''Candlemas''

Happy Feast day to all my readers! Candlemas is one of my favourite feasts in the liturgical year for a number of reasons: it is a double feast of Our Lady and Our Lord, and for this reason it encapsulates one of the central mysteries of the Catholic Faith; apropos, how the cult of the Blessed Virgin developed in the Church as a logical juxtaposition to Eve's fall, Mary's relation to Christ in the mystery of Redemption etc. It is one of those feasts where the two Christological themes (Mariology is a form of christology in my opinion) interpenetrate and are seen beautifully in the context of a mother and child in the Temple of God. I see Marian devotion in terms of logic, but there is manifestly more to it than that. I also love Candlemas because of the Liturgy, which to all Catholics ought to be the chief direction of all loves and desires; there is something markedly sacred and resonant about the blessing of candles and the procession.

I was going to translate one of Bl Hildegard of Bingen's (unrelated) Sequences in praise of Our Lady (O viridissima virga, ave), but I haven't had much time (it isn't especially hard but there are one or two points I wasn't sure about and my Latin teacher hasn't got back to me yet! - her style of Latin is rather excentric, which to me indicates that her tutoring was not that good. She seems overly reminiscent of the Scriptures, especially the Psalter, a lot of the time, often saying things like '' et factum est sermo Domini ad me dicens...'' etc, and her spelling is often atrocious!). Instead, here is part of her Symphonia (no. 13) which I translated a while ago; again, I haven't had time to properly peruse it for solecisms, but I'm sure it's mostly accurate:

O quam magnum est in viribus suis
latus viri quo Deus
formam mulieris produxit,
quam fecit speculum
omnis ornamenti sui
et amplexionem omnis creaturae suae.
Inde concinunt caelestia organa
et miratur omnis terra,
o laudabilis Maria,
quia Deus te valde amavit.
O quam valde plangendum
et lugendum est
quod tristicia in crimine
per consilium serpentis
in mulierem fluxit.
Nam ipsa mulier,
quam Deus matrem omnium posuit,
viscera sua cum vulneribus ignorantiae
et plenum dolorem generi suo protulit.

Sed, O Aurora,
de ventre tuo novus sol processit
quia omnia criminal Eve abstersit
et maiorem benedictionem
per te protulit
quam Eva hominibus nocuisset.
Unde, o salvatrix,
quae novum lumen
humano generi protulisti,
collige membra filii tui
ad caelestem armoniam.

O how great is the strength among his men,
the greatness of men, from which God brought forth the form of a woman.
He made her as a mirror
of all of his adornments
and the embrace of all his creation.
Thence the heavenly harmony sounded
and all the earth marvelled thereat,
O praiseworthy Mary,
since God has greatly loved you.

O how plangent and mournful it is
that sadness in crime
through the counsel of the serpent
flowed into a woman,
For that woman,
whom God placed as mother of all,
destroyed her body with the wounds of ignorance
and brought much sorrow upon her sons.

But, O Dawn,
from your womb a new sun has come forth
who has scared away all the sin of Eve
and has brought forth
greater blessing through you
than Eve did hurt unto Men.
Whence, O saving lady,
you have brought forth a new light to humankind,
gather together the members of your son
into the heavenly harmony.

Book news et al...

I received an email from the publishers today, who said that my proposal was accepted. Although they also said that book proposals take up to six weeks to process (for some obscure reason which they did not explain). I expect, being a specialist publisher, that they have to ''sift the wheat'' in a certain sense - decide what is publishable and what isn't - but I still can't understand why a book proposal takes so long to sort out. In the meantime, I am still short of money - and a friend showed me another greatly interesting book this evening which I have added to my ''wish-list.'' My Amazon basket (that is, the stuff I haven't ''saved for later'') is currently at £53 or thereabouts - dare I add more? It has been a while since I treated myself, and so I think I shall just go to the checkout regardless...