Thursday, February 26, 2009

February 25, 2009 - Ash Wednesday



(Wisdom 11:24, 25, 27; Psalm 56:2 [57:1])

You have mercy upon all, O Lord, and loathe nothing that you have made, overlooking the sins of men for the sake of repentance and sparing them, for you are the Lord our God.
Have mercy on me, O God; have mercy on me! for my soul trusts in you.
V: Glory be to the Father...
You have mercy upon all, O Lord...

(Joel 2:12-19)

Thus says the LORD:
Turn to me with all your heart - with fasting, weeping, and mourning; and rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the LORD, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and great in loyal love, and He relents from calamity.
Who knows if He will return and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD, your God?
Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a solemn assembly!
Gather the people, sanctify the congregation!
Assemble the elders, gather the children and those who suck the breasts;
Let the bridegroom go out from his room, and the bride from her chamber.
Let the priests, who minister to the LORD, weep between the vestibule and the altar.

Let them say, 'Spare your people, O LORD, and do not give your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, "Where is their God?"'

The LORD has been zealous for His land, and had pity on His people.
The LORD answered and said to His people, "Behold! I am sending grain to you and new wine and oil, and you will be fully satisfied; and I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations," says the LORD almighty.

(Psalm 56:2, 4 [57:1, 3])
Have mercy on me, O God; have mercy on me! For my soul trusts in You.
V: He sends from heaven and delivers me, He has put to shame those who trample on me.

(Psalm 102 [103]:10; Psalm 78 [79]:8, 9)
LORD, do not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
V: LORD, remember not our former iniquities; let your mercies quickly confront us, for we have become very poor.
(Here kneel)
V: Help us, O God, our Savior; and for the glory of your Name, O LORD, deliver us; and forgive us our sins for your Name's sake.

(Matthew 6:16-21)
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, "When you fast, do not be like the hypocrites who put on gloomy faces, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Amen I tell you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will repay you.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on the earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not consume and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be."

(Psalm 29:2-3 [30:1-2])
I will extol You, O LORD, for you lifted me up, and did not let my enemies rejoice over me;
O LORD, my God, I cried out to you, and you healed me.

(Psalm 1:2, 3)
He who meditates on the Law of the LORD day and night, shall bring forth his fruit in due season.

First Reading

(Joel 2:12-18)


(Psalm 51 [50]:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14 and 17 [1-2, 3-4a, 10-11, 12 and 15])
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
According to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash me from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever in front of me.
Against you – only you – have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your Presence, and take not your holy Spirit from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O LORD, open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Second Reading

(2 Corinthians 5:20 - 6:2)
Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us. We plead with you on behalf of Christ: Be reconciled to God. For He made Him who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we would become the righteousness of God in Him. Working together, then, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the 'acceptable time'; behold, now is 'the day of salvation'!

(Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18)
Jesus said to His disciples, "Be careful not to display your righteousness before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

"Thus, whenever you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Amen I tell you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your alms may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Amen, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

"And when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites who put on gloomy faces, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Amen I tell you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will repay you."
(Feria Quarta in Capite Jejunii)


(Proverbs 1:23-32)
Give heed to my reproof; I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known.
Because I have called and you refused; I have stretched out my hand and no one heeded.
You disdained all my counsel, and neglected my reproof.
I will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when your dread comes;
When your dread comes like a whirlwind, and your disaster comes like a storm; when distress and trouble come upon you;
Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will rise in the morning, but they will not find me.
Because they have hated instruction, and did not choose the fear of the LORD, nor consented to my counsel, but despised all my reproof.
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own fancies.
The turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacemency of fools will destroy them.

(cf. Isaiah 1:17a)
Behold, the day of the Lord shall come, with great alms and fasting: be prepared to do good to the oppressed, the widows and the orphans.
P: That you may receive a reward in the last days, says the Lord.
V: Learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed.

P: That you may receive a reward...

(James 1:13-21)
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God", for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Having willed, He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Understand this, my dear brethren! Let every man be swift to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

(Matthew 4:1-11)
At that time, our Lord Jesus Christ was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And having fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written: 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and he stood Him on the highest point of the temple and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written, 'He will command His angels concerning you,' and, 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not put the LORD your God to the test.'"
Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
And he said to Him, "All these things I will give you if, falling down, you will worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and serve only Him'."
Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

(Psalm 105 [106]:4)

V: Remember us, O LORD, in the favor of your people: visit us, o our God, with your salvation.
P: Alleluia.

This day, prayer shall make you holy; and shall humble your souls; direct your burnt offering to the Lord your God.
Ad accedentes

(Psalm 33:9, 2, 23 [34:8, 1, 22])
Taste and see that the LORD is good; Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V: I will bless the LORD at all times; continually will His praise be in my mouth.
P: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V: The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.
P: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V: Glory and honor to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.
P: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sundays. Doubtless these names are unfamiliar to many of us born after the 1970 reforms to the Liturgy. What exactly are these three Sundays, anyway?

Septuagesima comes from the Latin word for "seventieth," with Sexagesima and Quinquagesima equalling "sixtieth" and "fiftieth" respectively. They are patterned after the Latin word for the season of Lent, Quadragesima, which means "fortieth" because Lent is forty days long (not counting the Sundays, which are all considered little Easters). Because a week is only seven days long, not ten, and since even then only six of those days might be counted if the pattern of Quadragesima is followed, Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima obviously don't literally correspond to the periods of time they imply.

The 17-day period beginning on Septuagesima Sunday was intended to be observed as a preparation for the season of Lent, which is itself a period of spiritual preparation for Easter. In many countries, however, Septuagesima Sunday still marks the traditional start of the carnival season, culminating on Shrove Tuesday, more commonly known as Mardi Gras (literally Fat Tuesday, because it was the last possible opportunity where one could hold a feast and indulge oneself before the onset of Lent).

In the pre-1970 Roman liturgy, the Alleluia ceases to be said during the liturgy, effective at Compline on the Saturday before Septuagesima Sunday, not to be sung again until Easter. Likewise, violet vestments are worn, except on feasts, from Septuagesima Sunday until Holy Thursday. As during Advent and Lent, the Gloria and Te Deum are no longer said on Sundays.

Because of this temporary discontinuance of the Alleluia in liturgical functions, the liturgical office on the eve of Septuagesima was performed in many churches with special solemnity, and Alleluias were freely inserted in the sacred text (the Roman Breviary notes that after the "Benedicamus" of Vespers two Alleluias are to be added, instead of the usual one), even to the number of 28 final alleluias in the church of Auxerre in France.

This custom also inspired some poems which were sung or recited during Vespers in honor of the sacred word. The best-known of these hymns is Alleluia, dulce carmen (Alleluia, Song of Gladness), composed by an unknown author of the 10th century.

In fact, in a number of places (such as in some areas of France or Germany) during the Middle Ages, there was also developed an elaborate ritual called the "burial of the Alleluia", in which the Alleluia was symbolically "buried". We find the following from a 15th century statute book of the Church of Toul:

On Saturday before Septuagesima Sunday all choir boys gather in the sacristy during the prayer of the None, to prepare for the burial of the Alleluia. After the last Benedicamus they march in procession, with crosses, tapers, holy water and censers; and they carry a coffin, as in a funeral. Thus they process through the aisle, moaning and mourning, until they reach the cloister. There they bury the coffin; they sprinkle it with holy water and incense it; whereupon they return to the sacristy by the same way.
In Paris, meanwhile, a straw effigy bearing in golden letters the inscription "Alleluia" was brought out the church yard and burned. In other areas, a banner or a scroll carrying the word was taken out and hidden or buried. While this custom had largely disappeared, some Lutheran churches preserve it, practicing it on the Sunday preceding Ash Wednesday (Transfiguration Sunday according to the Lutheran calendar).

In other liturgical rites the situation is a bit different. In the Ambrosian Rite, practiced in Milan and surrounding areas, there are three pre-lenten Sundays as in the Roman Rite (also named Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima), but these are only semi-penitential: during Sunday Masses the Gloria and the Hallelujah (the preferred spelling of Alleluia in the Rite) are retained. As there is no Ash Wednesday in the Ambrosian Rite, the liturgical Lent, with its use of litanies (the Divinae Pacis and the Dicamus Omnes) on Sundays instead of the Gloria in Excelsis and the disuse of Hallelujah, began on the first Sunday, with the fast commencing on Monday.

In the Mozarabic Rite (Spain), meanwhile, nine Sundays are given after the feast of the Epiphany, the last being called Dominica ante Cineres ("Sunday before the Ashes") or Dominica ante Carnes Tollendas ("Sunday before the Farewell to Meat"), the rest being numbered one to eight "Post octavam Epiphaniae" ("After the Octave of the Epiphany"). Ash Wednesday ("Feria Quarta In Capite Jejunii") is an evident late Roman borrowing, rather clumsily inserted, since the Sunday that follows, though called "Dominica prima Quadragesimae" ("First Sunday of Lent"), has a Mass and an Office in which Alleluia is used, and at Vespers there is the well-known "Endless Alleluia" (Alleluia Perenne) hymn. In the Mozarabic Hymnal this hymn is entitled "Ymnus in carnes tollendas" ("Hymn at the Farewell to Meat"). The true liturgical Lent does not begin till the Monday after Ash Wednesday, as was originally the case in the Ambrosian. The post-revision Rite however seems to have dropped Ash Wednesday and now considers Lent to begin with the First Sunday of Lent in Carnes tollendas, which can occur somewhere between February 11 to March 14, depending on the year.

READINGS FOR THE THREE SUNDAYS (from the pre-1970 Missal)

1.) Septuagesima Sunday (Missa Circumdederunt Me)

Introit: Psalm 17:5-7, 2-3 (8:4-6; 1-2)
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 10:1-5
Gradual: Psalm 9:9-10, 18
Tract: Psalm 129:1-4 (130:1-4)
Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16

2.) Sexagesima Sunday (Missa Exsurge)

Introit: Psalm 43:23-26, 2 (44:23-26, 1)
Epistle: 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9
Gradual: Psalm 82:19, 14 (83:18, 13)
Tract: Psalm 129:1-4 (130:1-4)
Gospel: Luke 8:4-15

3.) Quinquagesima Sunday (Missa Esto Mihi)

Introit: Psalm 30:3-4, 2 (31:2-3, 1)
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Gradual: Psalm 76:15, 16 (77:14, 15)
Tract: Psalm 99:1, 2 (100:1, 2)
Gospel: Luke 18:31-43

Friday, February 6, 2009

Popular (Mis)Depictions of Tolkien

On the same vein as the Popular (Mis)Depictions of Bible Stories series of posts, allow me to introduce the popular conception of Tolkien's Legendarium vs. the text itself.

1.) Samwise Gamgee is fat.

It is a tradition among most film-makers and some illustrators to make Samwise Gamgee fat. In the film adaptation of The Two Towers, Gollum calls Sam "(stupid) fat hobbit", and indeed Sean Astin (Sam) was asked to put on weight to get the role or else the part would go to a fat guy in England, rumoured to be comedian Johnny Vegas.

Yet, the books never explicitly say anything about Sam's weight; Gollum calls Sam a variety of names, including cross, rude, nasty, suspicious, not nice, or silly. But never did he call Sam fat.

Stoutness is a very much a general trait among Hobbits. Tolkien mentioned often that the Hobbits enjoyed eating and drinking: in Letter 27, he describes them as being "fattish in the stomach, shortish in the leg", and like humans, they were inclined to expand as they got older - as shown in the books by Frodo himself, who was middle-aged for a Hobbit (he was around fifty when he set out to destroy the One Ring) and getting rather stout before losing much of his weight by walking and running a lot:
Looking in a mirror he was startled to see a much thinner reflection of himself than he remembered: it looked remarkably like the young nephew of Bilbo who used to go tramping with his uncle in the Shire; but the eyes looked at him thoughtfully.

And by Pippin's remark to Bergil son of Beregond in Minas Tirith:

My father farms the lands round Whitwell near Tuckborough in the Shire. I am nearly twenty-nine...though I am but four feet, and not likely to grow any more, save sideways.
Even so, quite the opposite of what the movies would like to have one believe, Sam, being young and a hard worker, was probably fitter than Frodo, Pippin, or Merry (who are all upper-class Hobbits). Pauline Baynes's illustration of the Fellowship, done while Tolkien was alive, shows all four hobbits as being of very much the same proportions. Oddly enough, the movie shows Sam as more or less the same build when he leaves Hobbiton and when he reaches Mordor, even though he had some weeks of semi-starvation.

An insterestingly similar case happens in a number of adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes novels, where Holmes' sidekick Dr. John Watson is depicted as a fat, bumbling idiot - quite opposite from the novels, where the more competent Watson is, or was, apparently in pretty good shape (he is first described as "as thin as a lath and as brown as a nut" and later as "a middle-sized, strongly built man"; it was only in His Last Bow that he was described as "thickset").

2.) Hobbits, in general, have big feet.

The popular idea that Hobbits have big feet seems to have begun with the Brothers Hildebrant, who did numerous popular Tolkien-related illustrations in the 1960s and 1970s. Apparently this was done to make Hobbits look more distinctive and unusual, as they also showed Dwarves with huge feet. Even so, Tolkien does not anywhere say that Hobbits have big feet for their size: the only Hobbit he describes as such is Mr. Proudfoot, and even then it would seem that his feet were exceptional:
My dear Bagginses and Boffins, he began again; and my dear Tooks and Brandybucks, and Grubbs, and Chubbs, and Burrowses, and Homblowers, and Bolgers, Bracegirdles, Goodbodies, Brockhouses and Proudfoots. 'ProudFEET!’ shouted an elderly hobbit from the back of the pavilion. His name, of course, was Proudfoot, and well merited; his feet were large, exceptionally furry. and both were on the table.
Tolkien describes Hobbits in the Prologue (Concerning Hobbits) thus:
...They seldom wore shoes, since their feet had tough leathery soles and were clad in a thick curling hair, much like the hair of their heads, which was commonly brown. Thus, the only craft little practiced among them was shoe-making; but they had long and skilful fingers and could make many other useful and comely things.
And further:
The Harfoots were browner of skin, smaller and shorter, and they were beardless and bootless; their hands and feet were neat and nimble...The Stoors were broader, heavier in build; their feet and hands were larger...The Fallohides were fairer of skin and also of hair, and they were taller and slimmer than the others...The Harfoots...were the most normal and representative variety of Hobbit, and far the most numerous.
The four Hobbits of the Fellowship appear to have been Harfoots with (in the case of Merry, Pippin and Frodo at least) some Fallohide ancestry. Humans who go barefoot all their lives often develop wider and stronger feet, but not feet which are abnormally long or rubber-like. So why should we expect Hobbits to be any different (considering they were "fairly human" in appearance and are actually a branch or variety of the race of Men)?

3.) Sauron, by the end of the Third Age, is a mere eye atop Barad-dûr.

Throughout The Lord of the Rings, "the Eye" is the image most often associated with Sauron. Sauron's servants bore the symbol of the Eye on their helmets and shields and usually referred to him as the "Lidless/Red Eye". In the Mirror of Galadriel, Frodo had an actual vision of this Eye and much later, Tolkien writes as if Frodo and Sam really glimpse the Eye directly, not in any kind of vision. The mists surrounding Barad-dûr are briefly withdrawn, and:
One moment only it stared from some great window immeasurably high there stabbed northward a flame of red, the flicker of a piercing Eye... The Eye was not turned on them, it was gazing north...but Frodo at that dreadful glimpse fell as one stricken mortally.

Thus, many adaptations (such as the 1980 Rankin-Bass Return of the King and the Peter Jackson trilogy) Sauron is usually portrayed as a disembodied physical Eye high above the Dark Tower - a bit of a departure from the books, since it shows Sauron inside the tower, gazing out through "the Window of the Eye in [his] shadow-mantled fortress"; in addition, it is never clear in the books whether the Eye is disembodied or not.

Even so, from various quotes we can glean that Tolkien cannot have intended the Eye to be Sauron's complete or sole manifestation; his spirit did inhabit some kind of body. Gollum (who was tortured by Sauron in person) tells Frodo that Sauron has, at least, a "Black Hand" with four fingers. In the The Return of the King, the heralds call Sauron out before the Battle of the Morannon, telling him to "come forth", which would seem pointless if he did not have a body. Also, in one of his letters (Letter 246) Tolkien clarifies that Sauron did have a physical form in the Third Age:
Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic. In his earlier incarnation he was able to veil his power (as Gandalf did) and could appear as a commanding figure of great strength of body and supremely royal demeanour and countenance.
J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator includes Tolkien's own drawing of Sauron, depicting him as a literally black humanoid.

The sum of the textual evidence does however allow for different interpretations: that the Eye is part of the physical body, or that the Eye is a mental or psychic manifestation (of Sauron's will, thought, power or presence), coexisting with the physical body. The Eye cannot be purely metaphorical, as Frodo's encounter with it in the Mirror shows.

The exact nature of the Eye, and its relationship to the never-seen body used by Sauron, remains a matter of debate among Tolkienists. Tolkien never elaborated further on these matters. Indeed he may intentionally have left many aspects of Sauron's character vague and mysterious.

Popular (Mis)Depictions of Bible stories, part 3

1.) Jesus' name was Jesus H. Christ.

Jesus' real name was NOT Jesus H. Christ, despite what many swearers and popular culture might tell you. Christ was not a last name, but rather a title: a Greek translation of the Hebrew מֹשִׁיַּח, meshiakh or the Aramaic משיחא, meshiha, both meaning "the anointed" - this refers to an ancient Jewish ritual of anointing and consecrating someone or something with oil. This term was translated in Greek as χριστος, christos. Thus, Jesus Christ (Iesous Christos in Greek) actually stands for "Jesus the messiah", or, more literally, "Jesus the anointed".

The spelling Christ in English itself only became more common in the 17th century, when spellings of certain words were changed to reflect their Greek or Latin origins more. Prior to this, the word was usually spelled Crist in Old and Middle English, the i being pronounced either as /iː/ (as in fEEt or bEAn) or or as /ɪ/, which survives today in the modern pronunciation of Christmas.

As for the H, there are many varying theories about it, ranging from explaining the H as an abbreviation for a certain word (usually explained as being either 'holy', 'Hebrew', or even 'haploid' or 'hebe') to tracing it to the IHS-IHC abbreviation of Jesus' name commonly encountered in Christianity.

2.) The giving of the Commandments to Moses was a private event of sorts, unwitnessed by the Israelites.

In The Ten Commandments (both the 1923 and 1956 DeMille versions), Moses climbs up the mountain of Sinai where - apparently - he alone hears God giving out the commandments while the people are busy creating the Golden Calf at the foot of the mountain, ignorant of the "Thou shalt not"s the Lord is talking about at the moment. However, Exodus 19:16-25 to 20:1-21 shows us that the giving of the commandments is a (semi-)public affair and that it was a separate event from the giving of the Tablets of the Law:

And it was on the third day in the morning there was thunder and lightning and a heavy cloud on the mountain, and the sound of a strong horn so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their place at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire, and its smoke went up like the smoke of a great furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. When the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses was speaking and God was answering him with a voice. And the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain, and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

And the LORD said to Moses, "Go down and charge the people, lest they force their way through to the LORD to look, and many of them fall. Let the priests also, who approach the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break out against them."
But Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; because you – you charged us, saying, ‘Set bounds around the mountain and sanctify it.’"

And the LORD said to him, "Go, get down, and come up, you and Aaron with you, but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest He break out against them." So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them. And God spoke all these words, saying: "I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slaves..."

Some verses later, the text describes the peoples' reaction:
...All the people were seeing the thundering and the lightning, and the sound of the horn, and the mountain smoking – and when the people saw it they trembled with fear and they stood from a distance. And they said to Moses, "You speak to us and we will listen, but do not let God speak with us or we will die." And Moses said to the people, "Do not fear, for God has come to test you, and that the fear of Him may be before you so that you may not sin." And they stood from a distance, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.
It was only after loads of instructions and commands - such as blueprints for building the Tabernacle and its necessary furnishings - and eleven chapters later (!!!) that God finally grants the tablets to Moses (31:18) and the Israelites decided to build the Golden Calf (32:1-35):
...And when He had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of testimony, tablets of stone written by the finger of God. When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron and said to him, "Get up, make us a god that will go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him!"
3.) Joseph wore a technicolor rainbow coat.

Notwithstanding the title of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, the actual meaning of the Hebrew phrase commonly translated as "coat of many colors" is ambiguous and unclear.

While the Hebrew term ketonet pasim (כתנת פסים) could mean "coat of many colors" since some of the possible meanings of pasim are "colorful," "embroidered" or "striped" - and indeed the translators of the Septuagint understood it thus and rendered the phrase as chitōna poikilon, meaning "garment of many kinds" or "multi[-colored] garment" - and since the use of clothing with differently-colored patterns or stripes is attested amongst Asiatic nomads in Canaan during the 2nd millenium BC (for example, see wall painting from the tomb of Khnumhotep II, located in Beni Hasan on the left [another detail here]; also see the detail of a mural fresco from the palace of Zimrilim at Mari in Syria, ca. 18th century BC), the word also allows for a long garment, coming down to the the hands and feet since another meaning of pasim is "the flat [palms] of the hands/the flat [soles] of the feet". Indeed, the 2nd-century Jewish proselyte Aquila of Sinope seems to have understood it thus and rendered pasim as astragalōn, "reaching to the ankles" in his translation of the Old Testament into Greek. Interestingly, the same phrase is used in 2 Samuel 13:18 to describe Tamar's clothing. In this case the Septuagint actually renders ketonet pasim as chitōn karpōtos, perhaps meaning "a garment reaching to the wrists".

Yet another interpretation of ketonet pasim is a garment made of fine material, such as silk or fine wool: the rabbis of the Talmud, in fact, understood Joseph's coat to be a silken garment. Still others connect it with the Akkadian phrase kitu pishannu, a Babylonian ceremonial robe studded with gold ornaments (usually with figures of deities), the Phoenician ps "tablet, piece" (suggesting a garment made of patches of material sewn together), or even the Akkadian paspasu "brightly colored bird."

Jerome, meanwhile, translates the instance of ketonet pasim in Genesis 37 as tunicam polymitam, which could mean "garment woven with many threads", "garment made of fine fabric" or "garment woven with different colored threads", and the one in 2 Samuel 13 as talari tunica, "garment reaching to the ankles".

If we'll look into early artworks, such as those depicting the brothers showing the (bloodstained) coat to Jacob, a number of them usually depict Joseph's coat as being of one color (such as here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), or apparently made of fine material.

Rendering the coat with all seven colors of the rainbow only became in vogue recently, perhaps somewhere around the 19th-20th century (see Horace Vernet's 1853 painting); on the other hand, this depiction, made in 1867, still depicts the coat as being of one color, yet adds multicolored designs at the lower hem and at the sleeves (personally, I actually find this depiction closer to reality than the full-fledged "rainbow coat" we so commonly see today).

So how did we come by with the "coat of many colors"?

Translating ketonet pasim as "coat of many colors" is an old tradition in the art of translating Bibles into English - John Wycliff and his associates, one of the first (but not exactly THE first) people to translate the Bible into English, already used the term in the late 14th century even before the King James Version of 1611, and its subsequent revisions, used it. Because the KJV was very influential - and because for some people it served as the Bible - many translations have followed the King James in understanding ketonet pasim as "coat of many colors".

One of the first translations to break this long-standing custom was the Revised Standard Version (1952), which translated the phrase as "long robe with sleeves"; since then many English Bibles have opted follow suit and to either render the phrase somewhere along the lines of "a richly ornamented robe" (New International Version) or "a long tunic" (New American Bible) or, in cases where the traditional rendering is used, have started to include footnotes which give either background detail on the phrase in question in the original Hebrew or alternate possible renderings.

Even if we can't know for certain what the word actually meant - whether the coat was actually colorful or made of fine material or was very long, we can still conclude that this piece of clothing is a very special gift, as Joseph was given the coat by his father Jacob (who favored him); as a result, he was envied by his brothers, who saw it as indicating that Joseph would assume family leadership (Genesis 37:3-4):
Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was a son of old age to him, and he had made him a ketonet pasim. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

February 6 - St. Paulo Miki & Companions


St. Paulo Miki (パウロ三木) was born in Settsu Province into a rich family, son of the military leader Miki Handayu (三木半太夫). His father, along with 72 other bushi, were baptized in the castle of Iimori in 1563. He was also baptized and took the name of Paulo.

He was educated by Jesuits in the "seminariyo" of Azuchi - the construction of which was finished in 1580 - and in Takatsuki, eventually joining the order as a lay brother (being dubbed イルマン iruman in Japanese, from the Portuguese irmão, "brother") and becoming a preacher; this would continue for eleven more years.

In the fall of 1596, a Spanish ship, the San Felipe, en route to Mexico from Manila was wrecked off the coast of Shikoku. While Japanese officials confiscated the vessel’s cargo, a remark by the ship’s captain was interpreted to mean that missionaries intended to help in the conquest of Japan by Spain. Toyotomi Hideyoshi quickly ordered the arrest of several priests and laymen.

Paulo, along with two of his novice brothers, John Soan De Gotó and James Kisai was among those arrested by order of Toyotomi in late 1596 to early 1597. They were in the residence of the Jesuits in Osaka when they were arrested. The three were brought to a prison in Kyoto, where they were joined by six Franciscans and fifteen members of the Franciscan third order (such as Gonsalo Garcia, Pedro Bautista Blasquez, and Felipe de Jesus). Ishida Mitsunari, a vassal of the Toyotomi clan, originally planned to have Paulo and the other Jesuits to be released, but this eventually did not come to fruition.

They were bound with rope and had their left ear cut off - a departure for the original order given, which stipulated that their noses and both their ears should all be chopped off. Then, to warn other hiding Christians of the punishment that would await them if they were caught, they were paraded through the streets of Kyoto. It was then decided that these 24 people were to be executed in Nagasaki by crucifixion (磔, haritsuke).

Eventually, for one month Paulo and the 23 other priests and converts were crowded in carriages for the six-hundred mile ride from Kyoto to Nagasaki. Along the way, two more prisoners had joined the group, arrested for trying to comfort the victims. The total number of victims had now become twenty-six.

Paulo and the others were led up Nishizaka Hill (西坂), the final mass of land greeting Nagasaki Bay. The road to Omura divided the hill. One side of the road was scattered with human remains, where common criminals were executed; the other side was covered with new, green wheat. The government official in charge of the executions, Terazawa Hazaburo, had been persuaded by influential Portuguese to give the martyrs a more decent place of execution than those of criminals.

The victims were then fastened to crosses - each one tailor-made for the martyrs - with metal bands and ropes, with the hands, feet and neck being kept in position by the rings and the rope keeping the victim bound to the cross through the waist. Fixing Paulo to the cross proved to be difficult, as he was too short and his feet would not reach the lower rings. Under the pressure of time, the executioner had to do without the rings, and strapped Paulo's chest to the cross with a piece of linen, stepping on his chest in the process. A missionary standing by protested, but Paulo assured him: "Let him do his job, Father. It does not really hurt."

The crosses were lifted and slid into holes in the ground, twenty-six stretching in a row from the bay to the road. The martyrs raised their eyes to heaven and sang different hymns and psalm, including the Sanctus, the Song of Zechariah and the Te Deum. Finally, one of the prisoners chanted, "Jesus, Mary. Jesus, Mary."

In front of Paulo's cross was the death sentence Toyotomi had declared:

"As these men came from the Philippines under the guise of ambassadors, and chose to stay in Kyoto preaching the Christian law which I have severely forbidden all these years, I come to decree that they be put to death, together with the Japanese that have accepted that law."
Fastened to his cross, Paul Miki gave his final defense and said in a loud voice:

"All of you who are here, please, listen to me. I did not come from the Philippines, I am a Japanese by birth, and a brother of the Society of Jesus. I have committed no crime, and the only reason why I am put to death is that I have been teaching the doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I am very happy to die for such a cause, and see my death as a great blessing from the Lord. At this critical time, when, you can rest assured that I will not try to deceive you, I want to stress and make it unmistakably clear that man can find no way to salvation other than the Christian way.

The Christian religion commands that we forgive our enemies and those who have wronged us. I must therefore say here that I forgive Taikō-sama* and those resposible for my death. I have no hatred for Taikō-sama; indeed I wish that he and all the Japanese would become Christians.

*Taikō-sama (太閤様): Taikō (a retired kampaku) combined with the honorific -sama; usually used in contemporary sources, usually foreign, to denote Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
And then lifting up his heart to heaven, he said: "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit. Come to meet me, you Saints of God." Eventually, soon the victims and even the bystanders chanted in unison, "Jesus, Mary...Jesus, Mary!"

But not all chanted. Fray Felipe de Jesus could not sing, as the sitting prop in his cross was too low, and the whole weight of his body hung from the ring around his neck, choking him to death. With the little strength he had left, Philip invoked three times the name of Jesus. Two executioners then put an end to the sufferings of the Mexican martyr by piercing him with spears.

The death of Felipe signalled the start for the executions, There are four men to carry them out, two for each end of the rows. Their lances have long, sword-like blades protected with sheaths. After taking positions, they remove the scabbards and stand at attention.

A guttural yell, a sudden thrust, and the two spears cross each other in the chest of the martyr. Sometimes the blades come through the body at the shoulders. The death is almost immediate. If the victim does not die, another thrust to the neck will give the coup de grace. And so it was that Paulo Miki and the twenty-five others who were crucified in Nishizaki on February 5th of the year 1597 gave up their lives for Christ.

(Homepage of the Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum here)


(Hebrews 13:1-8)

Brotherly love must continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Remember the prisoners as if imprisoned with them; those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves are in the body also.
Marriage must be honored among all and the bed undefiled, for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for He has said, "I will never leave you nor abandon you"; so we may confidently say: "The LORD is my helper, (and) I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you, reflect on the outcome of their conduct and imitate their faith.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

(Ps 27:1, 3, 5, 8b-9abc)

R. The LORD is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the defense of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
R. The LORD is my light and my salvation.
Even when an army encamps against me, my heart will not fear.
Even if war rises up against me, in this I will be confident.
R. The LORD is my light and my salvation.
For He will hide me in His booth in the day of trouble;
He will hide me in His tent, on a rock will He lift me up.
R. The LORD is my light and my salvation.
Your face, O LORD, I seek; hide not your face from me!
Do not push your servant away in anger;
You are my Help; do not cast me off.
R. The LORD is my light and my salvation.


(Mark 6:14-29)
King Herod heard about Jesus, for Jesus’ name had become known. And some were saying, "John the Baptizer has been raised from the dead, and that is why mighty powers are at work in him." But others were saying, "He is Elijah." And others said, "He is a prophet, or like one of the prophets." But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised up."

For Herod himself had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife." And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not (because Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he enjoyed listening to him).

And a day of opportunity had come, when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his chief men, and the chiliarchs, and the leaders of Galilee; and when his daughter, Herodias, came in and danced, she pleased Herod and those who reclined at table with him; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you." And he swore (many things) to her, "Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you, up to half of my kingdom." And she went out and said to her mother, "What should I ask for?" And she said, "The head of John the Baptizer."

And at once she came in with haste to the king and made her request, saying, "I want you to give me, on a platter, the head of John the Baptizer immediately."

And being very dejected, the king did not want to reject her because of his oaths and because of those reclining at the table. And the king sent an executioner at once to bring his head; and he went and beheaded him in the prison and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. And when his disciples heard this, they came and took his corpse and laid it in a tomb.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Mass in Köln (the Use of Köln, Germany), part 6

Hic accipit corpus in manibus dicat. Panem coelestem accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo.
Hic ter tundat pectus suum. Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea.
Sumat corpus et dicat. Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam aeternam. Amen.
Inclinatus dicat. Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus quae retribuit mihi? Hic accipit in manus calicem dicens Calicem salutaris accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo. Laudans + invocabo Dominum, et ab inimicis meis salvus ero.
Hic sumat Sanguinem dicens. Sanguis Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam aeternam. Amen.

Post perceptionem. Corpus tuum, Dómine, quod sumpsi, et Sanguis, quem potávi, adhaereat viscéribus meis: et praesta, ut in me non remáneat scélerum mácula, quem pura et sancta refecérunt Sacraménta: Qui vivis et regnas in saecula sæculórum.

Quod ore sumpsimus, Domine, pura mente capiamus: et de munere temporali fiat nobis remedium sempiternum. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

Deinde Communio et postea.
V. Dóminus vobíscum. R. Et cum Spíritu tuo.
Oremus. sequitur Complenda quam finitam respondetur Amen. deinde benedicens populum.
V. Dóminus vobíscum. R. Et cum Spíritu tuo.
Quando Gloria dicatur Ite Missa est, quando non dicitur Benedicámus Dómino. R. Deo grátias.

Benedícat vos omnípotens Deus, Pater, et Fílius, + et Spíritus Sanctus. R. Amen.
Finita Missa inclinet se dicens. Placeat tibi, sancta Trinitas, obsequium servitutis meae: et praesta, ut sacrificium quod oculis tuae majestatis indignus obtuli, tibi sit acceptabile, mihique, et omnibus, proquibus illud obtuli, sit te miserante propitiabile. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Osculando Altare dicit: Méritis et intercessiónibus istórum et ómnium Sanctórum suórum miseriátur nostri omnípotens Deus per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

deinde in cornu Evangelii
V. Dóminus vobíscum. R. Et cum Spíritu tuo.
Prosequitur. + Inítium sancti Evangelii secundum Joánnem.
In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat in principio apud Deum. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt, et sine ipso factum est nihil quod factum est; in ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum; et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt. Fuit homo missus a Deo cui nomen erat Joannes. Hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum. Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. Erat lux vera quae illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum. In mundo erat, et mundus per ipsum factus est et mundus eum non cognovit. In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt. Quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri; his qui credunt in nomine eius, qui non ex sanquinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt. Et verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis; et vidimus gloriam eius gloriam quasi unigenti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis.


Here he shall take the Body in his hands and say: I will take the Bread of heaven, and call upon the name of the Lord.
Here he shall beat his breast three times: Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.
He shall receive the Body and say: May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul unto life everlasting. Amen.
He shall bow and say: What return shall I make to the Lord for all He has given to me? Here he shall take the chalice in his hands and say: I will take the Chalice of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. Praising + I will call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies.
Here he shall receive the Blood, saying: May the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ keep my soul unto life everlasting, Amen.

After partaking: May your Body, O Lord, which I have received, and your Blood which I have drunk, cleave to my bowels; and grant that no stain of sin may remain in me, whom your pure and holy sacraments have refreshed; who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Grant, Lord, that what we have taken with our mouth we may receive with a pure mind; and that from a temporal gift it may become for us an eternal remedy.

Then the Communion follows; and afterwards:
V. The Lord be with you. R. And with your spirit.
Let us pray. Then follows the Post-Communion, when it is ended is said Amen. Then the blessing of the people.

V. The Lord be with you. R. And with your spirit.
When the Gloria is said: Go, the dismissal is made (the Mass is ended), when it is not said: Let us bless the Lord. R. Thanks be to God.

May the almighty God bless you: Father, Son, + and Holy Spirit. R. Amen.
When Mass is ended, he bows and says: May the homage of my service be pleasing to you, O holy Trinity; and grant that the sacrifice which I, though unworthy, have offered in the sight of your majesty, may be acceptable to your: and through your mercy win forgiveness for me and for all those for whom I have offered it. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Kissing the Altar, he says: Through their merits and intercession, and of all His saints, almighty God have mercy on us; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then on the Gospel side (of the Altar):
V. The Lord be with you. R. And with your spirit.

Then follows: + The beginning of the Holy Gospel according to John.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came for a witness to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the Light, but was to give testimony of the Light. That was the true Light, which enlightens every man that comes into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came to His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name: who are born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.