Tuesday, 8 November 2011

On the Octave of All Saints...

(which, in proud defiance of Papal authority, we continue to celebrate here)...

I found this image ages ago, presumably depicting a meeting between St Dominic and St Francis of Assisi. Some Orthodox believe that St Francis of Assisi was possessed of devils and find the very idea of stigmata a blasphemy. I am undecided. St Francis was the saint I chose at my Confirmation twelve years ago and, despite being rather embarrassed by that these days, he remains one of my patrons. While being crypto-Orthodox I do not believe that all the saints of the Roman Church canonized after 1054 are heretics; many of them were just as holy and heroic as Orthodox ones. I have, for example, a special place in my heart for St Thomas of Canterbury, and even rather late, simple ones like St Thérèse of Lisieux whose relics I visited two years ago in Westminster Cathedral. The Dominicans, at any rate, enriched the liturgical patrimony of the Roman Rite (are there not similarities between their liturgical books and those of the illustrious cathedral church of Sarum? did they not number Sundays after Trinity, for example?), and many among the more distinguished theologians of that Order (such as St Thomas Aquinas) were opposed to such things as immaculate conceptions, well into the 19th century. We can't really say the same for the Franciscans, who were (and remain) a very aliturgical bunch - at least the ones I've met. The sons of St Francis valued poverty as an end, not a means, and there was never much scope for sung Office and high Mass among itinerant friars who were seldom even allowed to own liturgical books. Instead they adopted the abridged rite of the court of Innocent III and took this across Europe. The little I know of that process would be reckoned a matter of tears were men gathered for the telling of tales.

Still, a very blessed Octave to you all. St Dominic, St Francis and all the Saints, pray for us.

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