WElcome deare feast of Lent: who loves not thee,
He loves not Temperance, or Authoritie,
But is compos’d of passion.
The Scriptures bid us fast; the Church sayes, now:
Give to thy Mother, what thou wouldst allow
To ev’ry Corporation.
The humble soul compos’d of love and fear
Begins at home, and layes the burden there,
When doctrines disagree.
He sayes, in things which use hath justly got,
I am a scandall to the Church, and not
The Church is so to me.
True Christians should be glad of an occasion
To use their temperance, seeking no evasion,
When good is seasonable;
Unlesse Authoritie, which should increase
The obligation in us, make it lesse,
And Power it self disable.
Besides the cleannesse of sweet abstinence,
Quick thoughts and motions at a small expense,
A face not fearing light:
Whereas in fulnesse there are sluttish fumes,
Sowre exhalations, and dishonest rheumes,
Revenging the delight.
Then those same pendant profits, which the spring
And Easter intimate, enlarge the thing,
And goodnesse of the deed.
Neither ought other mens abuse of Lent
Spoil the good use; lest by that argument
We forfeit all our Creed.
It ‘s true, we cannot reach Christ’s fortieth day;
Yet to go part of that religious way,
Is better than to rest:
We cannot reach our Savior’s purity;
Yet are bid, Be holy ev’n as he.
In both let ‘s do our best.
Who goeth in the way which Christ hath gone,
Is much more sure to meet with him, than one
That travelleth by-ways:
Perhaps my God, though he be far before,
May turn, and take me by the hand, and more
May strengthen my decays.
Yet Lord instruct us to improve our fast
By starving sin and taking such repast
As may our faults control:
That ev’ry man may revel at his door,
Not in his parlor; banqueting the poor,
And among those his soul.
— George Herbert, 1620s
Mr. Kagan received a long standing ovation from students and alumni in the packed auditorium. Heading into retirement, he has been feted as a beloved and popular teacher and Yale icon. The PC wars of the 1990s feel dated. Maybe, as one undergrad told me after the lecture, “the pendulum has started to swing back” toward traditional values in education… .
As he looks at his Yale colleagues today, he says, “you can’t find members of the faculty who have different opinions.”
His sharp tongue and easy sense of humor hearken to the Brooklyn of his youth. Born in 1932 in a Lithuanian shtetl, Mr. Kagan was raised in Brownsville, which was then a working-class Jewish neighborhood. He rooted for the Yankees on Brooklyn Dodgers turf—”everything you need to know about him,” as his son Robert once said. He was a high school fullback. Mr. Kagan is personally warm, always tough and occasionally smart alecky. Imagine Robert DeNiro as an eminent conservative scholar of ancient Athens. He has no patience for “nonsense” or “wrong ideas.” He’s a guy who’ll tell you what’s what and that’s that. Generations of faculty and students came away bruised from Kagan encounters.
The tussles over course offerings and campus speech of course speak to something larger. Democracy, wrote Mr. Kagan in “Pericles of Athens” (1991), is “one of the rarest, most delicate and fragile flowers in the jungle of human experience.” It relies on “free, autonomous and self-reliant” citizens and “extraordinary leadership” to flourish, even survive.
These kinds of citizens aren’t born—they need to be educated. “The essence of liberty, which is at the root of a liberal education, is that meaningful freedom means that you have choices to make,” Mr. Kagan says. “At the university, there must be intellectual variety. If you don’t have [that], it’s not only that you are deprived of knowing some of the things you might know. It’s that you are deprived of testing the things that you do know or do think you know or believe in, so that your knowledge is superficial.”
—Donald Kagan, Yale’s great classicist gives his final lecture, fighting as ever for Western civilization
After I broke my neck in a 1967 diving accident and learned I would be paralyzed for the rest of my life, I was convinced my life was not worth living. Had it been legal, most people would have thought that euthanasia was a rational choice for me, a depressed 17-year-old quadriplegic waning away in a hospital for almost two years. However, time – that prized commodity which is forever lost after you die – taught me how precious life really is, even with hands that don’t work and feet that don’t walk. Now, decades later, millions of people have been encouraged because of our ministry for special-needs families at Joni and Friends International Disability Center. If I had chosen death, none of that could have happened.
And the “slippery slope?” Once it is determined that the life-value of a person with a serious medical condition is less than that without such conditions, society has taken one more step away from its charge to defend the child and family. Choice then moves to an obligation to die. None of us knows what the future holds and what can be accomplished in our lifetimes, and it grieves me to think of decades of fruitful lives snuffed out because of the fear of pain or disability. I hope it grieves you, too.
—Belgium’s Euthanasia Law Doesn’t Protect Children from Themselves
Writing about tomorrow, February 16th, this from Fr Allan Warren, Rector of Church of the Advent, Boston:
Today is the Sunday known as Septuagesima, which, with its companion Sundays, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima, make up the season formerly known as pre-Lent. In the current Prayer Book these Sundays were dropped and became just additional Sundays after the Epiphany. The logic for this was simple: since Lent is itself a season of preparation, to observe an additional time of preparation before Lent was unnecessary. Why prepare to prepare?
This may look good on paper, but it’s not quite true psychologically or spiritually, because, in fact, we often need to prepare to prepare. In this instance that is especially the case. You and I need to begin now thinking about what we will do during Lent. How will we use the season to our souls’ benefit? How will we exercise ourselves so that we grow spiritually during Lent? Let Septuagesima — and Sexagesima and Quinquagesima — be a warning that that holy and intentional season is coming up, and it’s time to give it some thought. Prepare to prepare!
A note on names. Septuagesima: in context the word means seventy days before Easter. There is a problem here, however, for it’s not seventy days before Easter. It’s sixty-four. And yet, exactitude in this would have us saying sexagesima quarta and quinquagsima septimus, rather than septuagesima and sexagesima. And so in her wisdom and in order to avoid the long and cumbersome tags, the Church decided to number by tens rather than sevens. Who cares if it’s accurate? It’s easier to say.
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
—Wallace Stevens, The Snow Man
Simeon: And because of His visitation, we may no
longer desire God as if He were lacking: our
redemption is no longer a question of pursuit
but of surrender to Him who is always and
everywhere present. Therefore at every moment
we pray that, following Him, we may depart from
our anxiety into His peace.
—W. H. Auden, For the Time Being. Quoted by Fr. Billy Shand of St. Francis Church at the end of his Feast of the Presentation sermon
Hail to the Lord who comes,
comes to his temple gate!
Not with his angel host,
not in his kingly state;
no shouts proclaim him nigh,
no crowds his coming wait;
but, borne upon the throne
of Mary’s gentle breast,
watched by her duteous love,
in her fond arms at rest;
thus to his Father’s house
he comes, the heav’nly Guest.
There Joseph at her side
in reverent wonder stands,
and, filled with holy joy,
old Simeon in his hand
takes up the promised Child,
the glory of all lands.
Hail to the great First-born
whose ransom-price they pay!
The Son before all worlds,
the Child of man today,
that he might ransom us
who still in bondage lay.
O Light of all the earth,
thy children wait for thee!
Come to thy temples here,
that we, from sin set free,
before thy Father’s face
may all presented be!
—Words: John Ellerton, 1880, Music: Old 120th, St. Veronica
For the first time I recommend herewith a twitter account. You can follow Augustine of Hiphop, too, if you go this way. I recommend this dawg wholly.
who do I follow
augustine of hiphop
ex opere operato
da mihi castitatem
sed noli modo
I know him yo
and I ain’t tellin
don’t be mewlin
you won’t hear
his name drop
— J. R. R. Tolkien