a pilgrim and friend of God.

Christ Among The Tombs: Relics found at Jamestown

Christ Among The Tombs: “Crypto-Catholics At Jamestown?” (July 29, 2015, Patheos) [link]:

The archaeology feeds have been buzzing with news of a discovery at a dig in Jamestown, Virginia. The graves of four people are being excavated, among them prominent leader Captain Jeffrey Archer, one of the leading opponents of Captain John Smith. This was found with Archer’s coffin (in situ):

It’s a reliquary.

Archer was an important leader who was there from the beginning until his death in the harsh winter of 1609/10, when he was given a respectful burial at a time when other settlers may have been reduced to cannibalism.

Jamestown was a Protestant colony, and at the time it was founded Catholic recusants, such as Archer’s father, were being persecuted back home in England. Bringing the scourge of popery to the first permanent English colony in the new world would have been extremely unusual. James Fort was founded only two years after the Gunpowder Plot and the Papal Recusants Act requiring Catholic to take the Oath of Allegiance denying papal authority over the king. James I may not have been a monster like Elizabeth I, but he hardly would have wanted to plant Catholics in a new world that he was trying to seize from the Spanish. Catholics were never to be trusted.

But now we know that Catholics were at Jamestown. The recent excavations have uncovered rosary beads, a crucifix, and holy medals. Remember that the Reformation in England was not driven by a groundswell of popular belief, but imposed by a tyrant on a population that was fiercely Catholic. Remnants of Catholicism went underground.

And some, it appears, made their way to the new world.

Two points:

First, the timing of Jamestown, established 1607, is a near contemporary with Shakespeare’s Macbeth [link], first performed, we think, in 1606. Macbeth is full of lovely relic references. The Witches, who along with the ghosts, give the play a uniquely Catholic tinge. In Act One, for instance, the audience sees the witches scouring the battle field for body parts, a not-so-veiled reference to the collection of martyrs’ bodies and relics in the battles between Protestants and Catholics:

First Witch:

    Look what I have.

Second Witch:

     Show me, show me.

First Witch:

     Here I have a pilot’s thumb,

     Wreck’d as homeward he did come.

(There are also multiple references to the recent “Gunpowder Plot” (1605) — the smoke references: “Disdaining fortune, with his brandish’d steel / Which smoked with bloody execution and You wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick night / And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell — as well the strange and strangely humorous drunken Porter (of Hell’s gate) monologue in Act II, Scene III, concerning the “equivocator” qua informant on the members of the Plot.)

Moreover, there is the conversation between Ross and Macduff over the body (and relics) of Banquo:


     Where is Duncan’s body?


     Carried to Colmekill,

     The sacred storehouse of his predecessors,

     And guardian of their bones.

Second, it’s exciting to see the use of relics, especially relics enterred with the dead, in the earliest colonies. The prayers of the Saints, Holy Church teaches, have the efficacy of delivering the soul from Purgation, since the saint’s body, a temple of the Holy Spirit, was and still is a place of power, healing, and a locus of charity and intercessory prayer, for it is written:

For his soul pleased God: therefore he hastened to bring him out of the midst of iniquities: but the people see this, and understand not, nor lay up such things in their hearts: That the grace of God, and his mercy is with his saints, and that he hath respect to his chosen.But the just that is dead, condemneth the wicked that are living, and youth soon ended, the long life of the unjust.For they shall see the end of the wise man, and shall not understand what God hath designed for him, and why the Lord hath set him in safety. (Wisdom 4.14-17)

Silence of the Shepherds

C.H. McCants:

The next installment from the Benedict Post — largely covering the aftermath of the Planned Parenthood debacle.

Originally posted on The Benedict Post:

Undoubtedly, you have heard the latest horror from America’s national butcher: Planned Parenthood sells aborted children’s body parts.  That’s the edited video.  Here’s the full nearly three hours of footage.  The original articlefrom the Center for Medical Progress.  If you don’t want to watch the video, here’s the tone of it:

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part.”

“I’d say a lot of people want liver.”

Gruesome as it is, murderers selling their victims’ organs is hardly surprising.  As Michael Brendan Dougherty says, “There is no one part of abortion that is more horrifyingthan abortion itself.”

The scandal draws attention once again to the impotence of the American Church’s hierarchy, and the unwillingness of American bishops to prevent the deliberate flaunting of Church teaching by prominent “catholic” politicians and public figures.

For the…

View original 2,601 more words

The Benedict Post – the vision and limits of the Benedict Option

Hopefully a brave and very informative venture from the Benedict Post, a website exploring the scope, thought, and limits (?), as noted by its inaugural post. The story of the Benedict Option is not a new one, an amalgam of MacIntyre’s After Virtue virtuous community and Rod Dreher’s engaging political disengagement from a culture that seems more to want to bite the hand that feeds (fed) it — the Christian Church. The Benedict Option in its open post notes that the story of the Benedict Option of the Church itself: 

The [Church’s] strategy is a refocusing. It is a change in priorities similar to Benedict XVI’s pontificate – shoring up our borders (Anglicans and SSPX) while restoring our liturgical traditions and enforcing ethical restrictions (on priests and bishops in his case). Cardinal Dulles, whose textbook History of Apologetics I recently finished reading, describes Catholic apologetics in the latter half of the 20th century as focused on convincing non-Catholics (mainly Protestants) to become Catholic by persuasive argument. The Benedict Option suggests a more subtle strategy than argumentation. Let’s refine and polish our Catholicism first. If you build it, they will come.

Nota bene.

[Caroto, “Portrait of a Young Benedictine” (16th c.)]

As a teacher at Saint Thomas More Academy, (Raleigh, NC) a school that is itself a form, I think, of the Benedict Option, it’s nice to have imaginative spaces for conversation about these ideas about consciously authentic Catholic life.

The posts look to be a digest with commentary — or newsletter, by its own admission — and in a digital world of excess and overload, it’s nice to have relative articles and thoughtful commentary all in one place.

I applaud this writer’s insight and direction. It’s certainly worth our weekly visit.

Christ Among The Tombs: Solemn Requiem for Fr. Denis Coiffet, FSSP

Christ Among The Tombs: Solemn Requiem for Fr. Denis Coiffet, FSSP,

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine: et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Eternal rest give unto him, O Lord: and let perpetual light shine unto him.

Deus, qui inter Apostolicos sacerdotes famulos tuos sacerdotali fecisti dignitate vigere: praesta quaesumus: ut eorum quoque perpetuo aggregentur consortio.
O God, which among the Apostolic priests hast made thy servants to have power by priestly dignity: Grant we beseech thee: that they may also be joined unto their perpetual society.

Quotidian (X) – Octave of Ss. Peter and Paul

In Octavam Ss. Petri et Pauli.

Lectio Divina:


I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given you in Christ Jesus, that in all things you are made rich in him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; As the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who also will confirm you unto the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful: by whom you are called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. I Cor 1.4-9


Videmus nunc per speculum in enigmate; tunc autem facie ad faciem. Nunc cognosco ex parte; tunc autem cognoscam sicut et cognitus sum. I Cor 13.12

Today a holy priest of God heard my confession. My sins were many but my Lord’s mercy is everlasting.

John Opie, "Confession"

John Opie, “Confession”

I’ve been listening to a series of conference lectures, ten in total, by Fr Cassian Folsom, O.S.B. given at St. Benedict Abbey in Still River, Massachusetts. Edify one another and yourself with these great thoughts concerning the Apostle’s directive: Sine intermissione orate, pray without ceasing! (I Thes 5.17)

Quotidian (IX) – Vigil of the Apostles Ss Peter and Paul

In Vigilia Ss. Petri et Pauli Apostolorum

Tomorrow is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, two of the principle pillars of the early Catholic Church; both worked tirelessly, Holy Scripture tells us, to spread the Gospel from Jerusalem westward (and perhaps eastward, tradition holds), and both received the martyr’s crown:

Lochner, LOCHNER, Stefan Martyrdom of the Apostles Altarpiece (interior left wing)

Introit (Acts 12.11)

Nunc scío vere, quia mísit Dóminus Angelum súum: et erípuit me de mánu Heródis, et de ómni exspectatióne plébis Judæórum.

Now I know in very deed, that the Lord hath sent His angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation, of the people of the Jews.

[Gregorian Chant – clip]

Today’s vigil – the day before a major feast – is often marked by prayer and fasted, but since the vigil falls on Dominica, or Lord’s Day, fasting is unnecessary.

Note: the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul is a holy day of obligation in most countries, but not the United States of America.

Moreover, this feast occurs during the old Octave of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, which after the major Octaves of Our Lord (Easter, Christmas, Epiphany, Corpus Christi), Our Lady (Immaculate Conception, Assumption), and Pentecost.

Quotidian (VIII) – St Stanislaus Day

S. Stanislai Episcopi et Martyris

I have two essay-like ideas in the works:

1) The Francis Option: how families with usually one income, one parent staying at home, and often with many children can themselves be a witness to Christ by showing familial love, reliance on parochial-networks of support, and patience, the gift of poverty will afford them great missionary/evangelizing opportunities in a culture that struggles with avarice, sex without consequence, divorce, and careerism. This Option would not be an alternative to the Benedict Option, but likely a compliment to it.

2) Mary and the Psalms: In addition to my Christian burial book (currently Christ Among the Tombs), I’ve been thinking of a book on the Blessed Mother, largely modeled after Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI/Father Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth series. But because Sacred Scripture only says so much (explicitly) about the Virgin, the work would be broadly speculative, using the Old Testament, the Fathers, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and and Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, alongside the practices of medieval piety, as a matrix of how to think about the earthly career of the Mother of the Word Incarnate. 

While thinking about such a task, and imagining a slow reading of the Sacred Scriptures, mixing my exegesis with that of the figures above, I began thinking first about the Psalms. I haven’t read the Old Testament devotionally or studiously in a number of years, but I do pray the Psalter within the Divine Office. Saint Augustine noted that the Psalms, though always attributed to the authorship of King David, should be read with the voices of both Adam and Our Blessed Lord, the new Adam. And since Eve is connected to Adam, so there must also be a place for Our Lady, the New Eve, as a hermeneutic for reading the Psalter.

In addition, I am going to begin praying the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary this summer.

Andrea del Sarto, "Assumption of the Virgin" (detail), 1526-29

Andrea del Sarto, “Assumption of the Virgin” (detail), 1526-29

The Selfsame


Your question of translation is a fantastic one, linguistically challenging because it is philosophical, even theologically, challenging: The idea is a self-existing thing.

Idea (idea) is not the difficult part; it is a Greek word brought into Latin, meaning, notion, idea, from the verb ἰδεῖν, to know, see.

But what about this thought of the self-existing thing.

Consider, of course, Saint Augustine:

“And with a loud cry from my heart, I called out in the following verse, ‘Oh, in peace!’ and ‘the self-same!’ (O in id ipsum!) Oh, what said he, ‘I will lay me down and sleep!’ For who shall hinder us, when ‘shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory?’ [1 Cor 15:54] And You are in the highest degree the self-same (Et tu es id ipsum valde), who changest not (qui non mutaris)… [Confessions, IX.11]

Augustine is very interested in a phrase that occurs in the Psalm 4.9: In peace in the selfsame I will sleep, and I will rest (Douay Rheims); In pace in idipsum dormiam, et requiescam (Vulg.).

Only the Lord God is the selfsame, for it is written: I am who am (Ex 3.14, Ego sum qui sum.), and in another place: Jesus Christ, yesterday, and to day; and the same for ever (Heb 13.8, Iesus Christus heri et hodie ipse et in saecula).

Moreover, the phrase (your father’s?) calls to mind the legal/logical expression: res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself.

But to your point:

Idea est ipsa eadem (in se or sibi),

The idea is itself the same (in itself or for itself).

Charles McCants, M.T.S.
Instructor in Humanities

Meditatio (I) – Pharao’s Chariots

Feria V post Cineres – 19 Feb 2015
Thursday after Ash Wednesday – Lent

Carrus Pharaonis et exercitum emus proiecit in mare.
Pharao’s chariots and his army he hath cast into the sea. (Ex 15.4)

From this morning’s Lauds, we read in the Canticum Moysis (Canticle of Moses, Ex 15) that the Lord God, as a part of His people Israel’s redemption, has drowned the pursuing Egyptian army in the waters of the sea.

This is baptism, the redemptive action of the Lord God upon his people, the Church: the body of the sinner, the chariots of Pharao, is plunged and drowned in the watery tomb of Christ’s saving blood; the demons who haunt, taunt, and tempt the sinner, his army, are scattered, exorcised from about the body of the sinner.

I have baptism on my mind because my friend and colleague’s newest son was recently baptized this last Sunday (right before the Lenten cut-off), and the right was performed in the usus antiquior (i.e., in both English and Latin).

After the saving sacrament of baptism is completed, however, the care of the soul is taken up in Confession, both in the Sacrament of Penance and in the public confession, called the Confiteor (lit. I confess)

We see all this clearly in the Confiteor of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (see below): firstly, to Our Lady, Mary ever Virgin, whose matronal care we as Christ’s disciples are entrusted; secondly, to Saint Michael the Archangel, who is vigilant in battle against the Adversary and all the evil spirits who prowl around the world seeking the ruin of souls; thirdly, to Saint John the Baptist, the forerunner of Our Blessed Lord and the one to whom Our Lord submitted himself to John’s baptism to fulfill all justice. Into John’s care we commend our prayers concerning both baptism and confession, as he is the patron of the First Sacrament, but also since John came in the way of justice, commended his own disciples to fast, and confessed Christ to be the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, connecting John to both confession and to Christ’s absolution of our sin. Our Lord, moreover, even said of John that “amongst those that are born of women, there is not a greater prophet than him; fourthly, to the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul – the former whose successors guard the keys to the kingdom and the power to bind and to loose, and the latter who tells us that with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. In addition, these Apostles made fertile the ground of the Eternal City with the blood and witness of their martyrdom.

The chariots of Pharaoh are also the old man that the Apostle warns us about:

Put you also all away: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy speech out of your mouth. Lie not one to another: stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds, and putting on the new, him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of him that created him.

Note that the old man is given over to all manner of verbal sins. The old man, originally corrupted according to the desire of error,  is now crucified with Christ, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer. With this, it is only fitting that confession be made such an integral part of all remission of sins.

Canon Law commends the faithful to perform, among others, two things: first, once admitted to the blessed Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year (Can. 920 §1) during Eastertide. And second, All the faithful who have reached the age of discretion are bound faithfully to confess their grave sins at least once a year (Can 989). In this way, it is often encouraged that we make a good confession now during the forty days of fasting and prayer,.

In ending this meditatio, let us return to Pharao’s chariots; look, lastly to the Song (of Solomon/Songs):

To a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots
I have likened you, O my beloved (1.9, trans Griffiths)

My graduate advisor Paul J. Griffiths offers this in his commentary on the Song:



Confíteor Deo omnipoténti, beátæ Maríæ semper Vírgini, beáto Michaéli Archángelo, beáto Ioánni Baptístæ, sanctis Apóstolis Petro et Paulo, ómnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres: quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa. Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper Vírginem, beátum Michaélem Archángelum, beátum Ioánnem Baptístam, sanctos Apóstolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et vos, fratres, orare pro me ad Dóminum, Deum nostrum.

I confess to almighty God, to the blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you, brothers, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, brothers, to pray to the Lord our God for me.

Being Religious


Paul J. Griffiths, Religious Reading (1999)

Hearing Mass, chanting the Our Father, doing penance, giving thanks, making a confession, creeping to the Cross, singing Laudes, saying a Hail Mary, blessing oneself, intoning the Kyrie, kneeling at the consecration, genuflecting before the tabernacle, bowing before the altar, kissing a relic, teaching catechism, receiving instruction, receiving the host.

The blessing of throats of the feast of Saint Blaise.

The blessing of throats of the feast of Saint Blaise by Dn Brad Watkins at Saint Thomas More Academy, 2015.


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