Sunday, August 31, 2014

How to Revive an Old Ballpoint Pen

5-15 seconds in a microwave (cap on). Wonderful! Here's how.

Start with 5 seconds (since microwave intensities greatly vary). Test the pen. Repeat a few times until the thing starts to write! (or ink is warm).

N.B. When you can feel that the ink is warm there is no reason it should not write (if the ball rolls). Liquid ink on ball, ball rolling; it will write every time!

Urbanism: Classical Concepts and Human Progress in Parish Planning

From Parking Places to People Spaces by Andrew Cusack
Philip Bess / Urbanism Video: Patrick Henry College

Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architecture, Urbanism and the Sacred, Philip Bess

On a side note: The Castel Gandolfo Papal Villas, open to the public this Summer!

Diverting the Wave of Apostasy

 Bamberg 1966
A quote from the book The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI: The Christocentric Shift by Emery de Gaal.

During the Second Vatican Council, [Ratzinger] sent brief articles to Germany detailing its progress. He then contributed to and edited a significant commentary on the documents of the Second Vatican Council. In 1968 he authored the best-selling Introduction to Christianity, which influenced quiet a number of educated men and women to remain in the Church during the tumultuous times between 1968-1980. During the Katholikentag (German Catholic Diet) of 1966 in Bamberg, Ratzinger voiced critical words of caution. He warned against a naive postconciliar triumphalism: "As long as the Church is a pilgrim on earth, she has no reason to pride herself on her own works. Such boasting could become more dangerous than a peacock feather duster and a tiara [that is, pompous items of the papal court], which anyway have caused us more to smile than to take pride in ourselves." He continues in the same speech: "A turning of the Church toward the world, which would entail turning away from the cross, cannot lead to the Church's renewal, but [only] to her demise. The purpose of the Church's turning toward the world cannot be to dispense with the scandal of the cross, but exclusively to render its nakedness accessible anew, by removing all secondary scandals [that is, sins committed by members of the Church], which have been interposed and have unfortunately oftentimes covered up the folly of the love of God with the folly of human self-love..." It is erroneous to view the council as a democratic forum or the Church as essentially subject to the hidden laws of evolution. (pp. 49-50)

It seems to me that herein lies a large part of what Pope Francis is up to: the "render[ing of the Church's] nakedness accessible anew, by removing all secondary scandals..." That's the objective of both Roman Pontiffs, to better present to the world the face of Christ! He must increase, while we (yes, even the Popes) must decrease! It's the only recipe for holiness! "Whoever wishes to be the first among you shall be the slave of all!" (Mark 10:44)

Katholikentag in Bamberg 1966  Vortrag: "Der Katholizismus nach dem Konzil" (Audio of Complete Lecture) (First part of text [on liturgical hermeneutic of continuity])
Short News Video of Professor Ratzinger's Talk at the Conference

N.B. Young Father Ratzinger, while never a heretical liberal, wore the suit and tie on that occasion, as was customary for all German Professors at the time (something he certainly never did as a prelate).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Santa Rosa de Lima: A Saint in a City of Saints

200 Peruvian Nuevos Soles equals
70.47 US Dollar

Today's saint is the first American canonized saint (died 1617 and canonized 1671). Very interesting to note that this continent was producing saints long before the foundation of the United States of America (Anglo-America).

Another very significant detail is that she was contemporary with several Saints: e.g. Saint Martin de Porres and the very Bishop who baptized and confirmed them both: Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo (the great pioneer Archbishop of Lima: 1579-1606).

Note also that that capital city is not ashamed of it's Christian foundations! as evidenced by that nation's largest bank note--200 soles. A suggestion for the USA which has recently considered varying the images on our currency. Try the image of one of our Saints: for example

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
Saint Katherine Drexel
Saint Isaac Jogues
Saint Damien of Molokai

Friday, August 29, 2014

Participatio actuosa!

August 9, 2014, FSSPX

You will understand my surprise to find that the Mass of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X is a dialogue Mass, i.e. the people recite the server parts and they recite the gloria in unison with the priest! (The way it is also done in many parts of Europe, including Rome!) Full, active participation! Problem solved!

However, in the priest's sermon the omission of any reference to the actual Vicar of Christ seems a gross omission, because he said we should pray for the leaders of the Church mentioning the leader of the Fraternity but not the Pope! Much talk of Saint Peter and no mention of the Pope! Makes me wonder if he even says "Francis the Pope" in the proper place of the Canon of the Mass?

It is remarkable that the Fraternity of Saint Pius X has been consistently allowed to say Mass on the altar of their heavenly Pontiff Patron, an assuring sign of unity, especially this year marking the centenary of the Saintly Pontiff's death.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Saint Monica Converted Saint Augustine by Bringing Him to Saint Ambrose, Whom She Had Found!

We are all well aware of the persistent prayers of Saint Monica for her worldly son's conversion. What is much less known, however, is that Saint Monica won her son's conversion also with an active apostolate with her son, hounding him through Italy and finally converting him in Milan through the preaching of Saint Ambrose.

Here is the relevant passage from today's Matins of the Roman Breviary (1962), which last night tipped me off to this important matter of family evangelization! 

"Later he went to Rome and was sent from there to Milan to teach rhetoric. At Milan, he was persuaded by Monica, his most devout mother, to become a frequent listener to the Bishop Ambrose. Ambrose brought it about that Augustine was fired with a desire for the Catholic faith, and baptized him when he was thirty-three years old."

The Latin text says ...suadente Monica! Saint Monica succeeded in persuading Augustine to go listen to Ambrose: that was the victory that sparked the conversion. The active apostolate of the mother (she did not stay home and pray, she prayed and persuaded and orchestrated the greatest opportunities for the final enlightenment of her son). Can we say that it was the rhetoric of the pious mother that first won over the great rhetorician!

Below is the Catholic Encyclopedia's rendition of the same maternal intervention.

"There is no more pathetic story in the annals of the Saints than that of Monica pursuing her wayward son to Rome, wither he had gone by stealth; when she arrived he had already gone to Milan, but she followed him. Here she found St. Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine yield, after seventeen years of resistance. Mother and son spent six months of true peace at Cassiacum, after which time Augustine was baptized in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan. Africa claimed them however, and they set out on their journey, stopping at Cività Vecchia and at Ostia. Here death overtook Monica and the finest pages of his "Confessions" were penned as the result of the emotion Augustine then experienced."

Do not neglect to persuade wayward family members to come and meet and hear great Catholic figures, for their conversion! That is how Augustine was converted by his holy mother Monica. Invite people to God! Introduce people to people who will introduce them to God!

You do not have to be a great teacher to convert people. "Here you must distinguish between the instructing of converts and the seeking of them. The former demands knowledge; the latter only zeal." (Frank Duff, Maria Legionis May Jun Jul 2014)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fornication is Phony!

Joseph and Potiphar's Wife (Guido Reni)

Fornication is an grave act of hypocrisy, pretending to be what it is not!

A fortiori adultery, sodomy, etc.

What should be the holy manifestation of interpersonal self-donation is instead an act of stealing and betrayal on various inter-personal levels (that of man with God; the duties to one's forebears and family, the logic of all of one's personal friendships; the entire dynamic of the wider society) and, thus, a mutual violation.

Be real, fly fornication in all its forms! Don't even look! (Cf. Matthew 5:28Genesis 9:1)

Embrace the Catholic faith in all it's splendor, and be happy!

This is my application of the Gospel of today's Mass, Matthew 23:27-32.

Jesus said,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.
Even so, on the outside you appear righteous,
but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing..."

Charity Inventory

Please remember: You love God only as much as the person you love the least!

Cf. “I really only love God as much as I love the
person I love the least.” --Dorothy Day
Cf. Matthew 25:35-46

Care! (That's an active verb; you must do something about it! If it does not move you, i.e. if it does not make you move, you're not doing it! Just do it! Care! Dare to care! Not to show you care, because it is not a show! Caring is itself an active verb! If you're doing it, it will show!)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pants are Anti-Woman

Pants are so unfair to women, making impossible demands. Why? Because all women are fat, and those that aren't fat, are skinny!

MOST WOMEN NEVER LOOK GOOD IN PANTS THEIR ENTIRE LIVES! and 100% of women look terrible in pants most of their lives! Only a small fraction of women can pull it off for a limited youthful time, and before and after they go back to looking the fool, trying to appear to be what they are not. (Cf. Sex and Salvation) It is a disgraceful conspiratorial plot by the devil and all his minions (including males). Fact is, women aren't made for pants!

So, civilized societies (i.e. ones that protect the integrity of their virgins and their wives), sparing their women the embarrassment of having to fit a perfect mold and exhibit it to the whole world, invented the dress for its greater elasticity and gracefulness, not inhumanly constraining our females to a rigid male controlled mold! Have you ever wondered why women always get married in a dress! ALL WOMEN ARE BEAUTIFUL! They are especially beautiful in dresses!

ALL WOMEN ALWAYS LOOK GOOD IN THE PROPER DRESS, it gives so many more possibilities and does much better at revealing the beauty of the woman than the unforgiving pants! Be a true feminist, reject uncovered pants! (I.e. If you must wear pants, at least have a blouse that covers the tail!)

Oh, and did I mention the matter of modesty! Pants are mostly less modest than a dress, but in no way less feminine! N.B. Islamic dress (from which we have much to relearn of our common millennial immemorial heritage--lost throughout the western world in the short span of the past five or six decades!)

Modesty is as feminine as maternity, lose that and civilization itself is lost!

P.S. This reflection came to me as I gazed at the sanctuary at the end of a daily Mass at a parish not my own. The priest was in the liturgically required elegant and symmetrically flowing robes, and to his right was the inharmonious buttocks (in excessively casual pants) of the sextagenarian female "lector" staring at us all as we intoned the recessional hymn and they reverenced the Most Blessed Sacrament to leave (he rightly genuflecting, she with a profound bow of the head).

It is grossly incongruous with the logic of the Sacred Liturgy that every piece of the Sacred Minister's attire should be so strictly regulated and that of the assisting laymen (women) so overlooked.

What is that type of liturgy (contrary to the true nature of the liturgy) implicitly saying about the dignity of women, the dignity of the laity, and the dignity of the very Liturgy!

At the very least everyone should take care that all ministering tails be covered, minimally, with the tail of a decent jacket, in the Most Holy Sanctuary of God, before His Holy People!
P.S.S. The turn toward Islam for feminine modesty comes very natural to me after having spent, a few years ago, five weeks at Bir Zeit University in Palestine, and there experienced the sublime elegance and refinement of the female university students of the Muslim world. The daily student scene there was just as you see above! That civilization keeps femininity on a very high (quasi-liturgical) level! Very fitting!

I do oppose every form of female oppression, including reducing women to wearing exposed pants! WOMEN SHOULD ALWAYS COVER THEIR PANTS, guarding thereby their feminine gracefulness which otherwise becomes seduction and pitiable shame!

N.B. The elegant and modest pro tennis skirt!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Marriage is the Foundation of the Family.

"Family is the first vital cell of society; the first church, first school, first hospital, first economy, first government and first mediating institution of our social order. Heterosexual marriage, procreation, and the nurturing of children form the foundation for the family, and the family forms the foundation of civil society.

"Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman was not an idea manufactured by the Christian Church. It precedes Christianity. Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by Christian teaching, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Moral Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason."

Source: Supreme Court Stays Redefinition of Marriage in Virginia.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Inexpensive Roman ("Fiddleback") 5-Piece Mass Vestment Sets

Catholic Liturgicals sets starting at $109.99

The above store also has an ebay store at Catholic Church Products.

Autom Church Supplies $199

Autom's history is fascinating from it's beginnings with Ignatius DiGiovanni's youthful broken jaw in Brooklyn to the meaning of the name: an elision of Augustine and Tom, for Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Fallacy of Communion in the Hand Choice (Con't)

I dedicate this post to the intercession of Pope Saint Pius X

How do those who hold that communion in the hand is always the choice of the communicant propose we conduct, for example, First Holy Communion ceremonies?

Must we thoroughly train the first communicants in all of the various options: the universal norm of kneeling and on the tongue (as done by the Holy Father); standing and on the tongue; standing and in the right hand; taking the host directly with the tongue from the enthroned hand [never grabbing the host with one's fingers] (in each of the latter two cases bowing or genuflecting beforehand)? You can be sure that no place offers this type of training because it would be impossible for the children to achieve a good knowledge on how to receive, faced with so many options (at an age when opting itself is a great challenge). So, faced with that impossibility most parishes simply show (and thus practically require) all of the students to receive only one way (according to the preference of the parish, pastor, director of religious ed., etc). So, if you have to teach everyone one way to receive, logic would suggest you do it according to the universal norm and longstanding tradition and the papal preference: kneeling and on the tongue. Who does that? No, the default choice for most parishes is more and more all first communicants receive on the hands. And then you have the problem of the girls first communion gloves. Who is going to purify the gloves after the ceremony? So there are places which now forbid the girls' first communion gloves! Imagine!

So, one of the problems with communion in the hand at First Holy Communions is that the norms for how to receive Holy Communion consistently and very clearly state that communion directly to the mouth by the minister should never be refused, and that care should be taken that this age-old traditional way of receiving the host should be preserved! Communion in the hand is by way of exception (a more restricted concession, only where allowed by the competent authority, which must include the priest! [e.g. Where communion in the hand is allowed "...special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful."] Fact is, there is always a real risk of sacrilege, including many particles going to the floor.) Communion in the hand is itself a profanation because no care is taken for the sacred particles which typically adhere to the hosts. This is grossly inconsistent with the liturgical norm of having a corporal and/or paten (Redemptionis sacramentum, #93) always under the sacred species until their consumption.

The legislative ambiguity involved in the restrictive legislation regarding communion in the hand, and given the widespread abuses in this regard, cannot bind any minister, who has serious objections, to give communion in the hand!

Again, plinthos is not trying to start trouble. The trouble is the communion in the hand to which every custodian of the Eucharist must honestly respond. This is simply a response to an abuse. How must the minister respond to a practice which is so troubling to our long established and highest veneration of the Eucharistic species, and considered by many to be so unimportant.

Furthermore, please do not forget the essential problem with communion in the hand: no one should give himself a sacrament! You cannot take God in hand! This is an unthinkable outrage against every legitimate Catholic and religious sensibility. It is an implicit attack on the distinctive nature of the priesthood and the nature of God's action in the sacramental dispensation and in the dispensation of the sacraments. Every properly formed priest and lay person should be extremely upset about "communion in the hand.

Pope Saint John Paul II, Blessed Mother Theresa, Pope Emeritus Benedict and Bishop Schneider, along with all the traditionalists, are right. Communion in the hand is wrong! It must be opposed!

N.B. This thought expressed above comes to me from so much experience of my home-schooling nephews and their families having to suffer countless parish abuses in this regard.

But, you know, having said all of the above, it is also necessary to say that the ultimate decision regarding the discipline of the sacraments is always under the authority of the Holy Father. If the Holy Father approves it than it is permissible by God ("binding and loosing"). If the Holy Father forbids it than God Himself forbids it. My question here is to get a clarification on whether it is the intention of the Holy Father to obligate priests to go against their sacerdotal instinct on this. Since He has left it up to the bishops then it is clear that at least for the time being (until there is a further clarification) the priests shall not make individual decisions on this matter.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Holy Water Sprinkler (Aspergillum): Eastern Style

While in the Holy Land a few years ago, I came across the eastern style aspergillum. Very elegant and very practical. Below is a web-page on some very nice historic ones ("rosewater sprinklers") from China! Got to get one of those! I did acquire a very nice sterling silver one from Tiffany and Co. (about three inches tall-perfect for the pocket) of about a century ago, which I use on all my house blessings. Here is a link to a Lucknow which sold for £20,000.00 in 2010!

Next time you're in the Holy Land or India or anywhere in the Middle East or Far East pick one or two up for the parish, they are usually made of brass with etched designs and cost around $5-$20 for the basic types. A great deal! When I was in Bethlehem I bought a few for around $7 each, as I recall. However, one of them leaks (be careful at those shops). At Beit Sahour, a town just on the outskirts of Bethlehem has an Arabic Catholic Bookstore of Custodia Terrae Sanctae: Christ the King Book Store, which did have some nice brand new ones at around $30.

19th century silver gilt rosewater sprinklerBy Adrien von Ferscht
It was back in 2012 that I first wrote an article about Chinese Export Silver that was clearly made for the Islamic world. A further year of research has brought to light much more information; what was already an interesting niche in an even more interesting silver category has now become all the richer for this knew knowledge. For this reason, I’ve decided to revisit the subject in order to present a more complete picture.
By “the Islamic World”, in the context of Chinese Export Silver in the 18th and 19th centuries, we are talking of Arabia, South East Asia, the Indian sub-continent, the various “Stans” of southern Russia and Armenia. The silver, again in the context of Chinese Export Silver, is almost totally confined to rosewater sprinklers. What can be a highly decorative yet not particularly significant object in principle becomes quite a complex object in the context of silver made by Chinese artisans for cultures that are, in the main, not directly connected with China.
Firstly, the rosewater sprinkler is not an exclusively Islamic item, but it is intrinsically part of Islamic culture; it is to be found connected with Islam, Judaism and Hinduism and this has a relevancy when connected to Chinese silversmiths. The earliest silver that came into China in the Sung and Tang dynasties came from Sassania [modern-day Iran]. This silver, although created mainly by Jewish silversmiths that lived in Sassania, had what we would recognise today as having distinct Persian and Mediterranean influences. Many of those Jewish silversmiths Gothic K 1840 rosewater sprinklereventually settled in Pien-Liang [Kaifeng] in China in the 10th century and carried on the family tradition of silversmithing down through the generations. Some 22 current Chinese surnames can trace their roots back to 10th century Kaifeng, including Ai, Gao, Jin, Li, Zhang, Shi and Zhau; a Jewish Chinese silversmith is to be found to this day in Kaifeng.  Two of these names, Jin and Shi, are equivalent to the traditional Jewish names of “Gold” and “Stone”. So it’s not totally incongruous that we find in the Qing dynasty – 1644-1912 [the last Imperial Chinese dynasty], Chinese Export Silver objects made specifically for the “Islamic” market; of these, the predominant was the rosewater sprinkler.
But it is probably us in the 20th and 21st centuries that regard the rosewater sprinkler as Islamic, when it was [and still is] used widely by Sephardi Jews in marriage ceremonies and ritual meals at Passover and New Year. At the Jewish festival of Shavuot [Pentecost], Sephardi Jews traditionally eat Sahlab andMahlabi, both rosewater infused dairy desserts. Certainly the Sassanian Jews would have used them – Sassania being modern-day Iran, but Sassanian Jews were not technically Sephardi; they were pre-Hasmonean Jews or remnants of the first exile after the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem. Some Sassanian Jews also eventually settled in Bombay, again many of them being silversmiths. In the 18th and 19th centuries we have silver rosewater sprinklers being made in Canton and Bombay and is highly probable why it is often difficult to distinguish between Chinese and Indian work, especially before makers’ marks became the norm. Peranakan and Batavian silver rosewater sprinklers also have a similar style of work, silver filigree often being incorporated. The art of silver filigree was very much associated with Sephardi Jewish silversmiths. We also know that Jewish silversmiths took their filigree techniques with them when they were expelled from Spain and Portugal in the 15th century. Asian contacts in particular, not least through the founding of the Dutch East India Company, were to have a great influence on the further development of the technique of filigree. Jewish silversmiths, however, were adept at optimising ancient family and tribal links around the world; their trades and links were part of their naturally peripatetic survival mechanism. Karimnagar in Andra Pradesh and Trivandrum in Kerala were both known centres for highly superior silver filigree work; they also had significant Jewish populations. It is this ability to move their skills and their families to safer havens and the sharing of expertise with others that most probably helps account for the similarities between the various filigree silver work produced in South East Asia, the Indian sub-continent, North Africa and even Eastern Europe.
YatShing 1830 rosewater sprinklerRosewater sprinklers are also used in the Maha Shirvratri festival, a day dedicated to Shiva, a significant deity in Hinduism. Rosewater sprinklers have been used in the Indian sub-continent from the Mughal period (1526-1857) to the present day and are prevalent in many Islamic customs and rituals.
What is especially interesting is that given Chinese Export Silver MK 18090 rosewater sprinkleris a large and highly significant silver category, we have almost no evidence of silver being made for use in Christian rituals. We have silver tankards in the high Chinese style that were adopted as novelty christening mugs but not specifically made as such, but hardly any chalices or other Christian ceremonial ware. Yet we do have Jewish “megillot” [scrolls of Esther] and Sabbath candlesticks and we have rosewater sprinklers that we can attribute to three religions, yet nothing overtly Christian. This is particularly strange since the China Trade had a predominance of Christian merchants from Great Britain and America. It’s a mystery yet to be unravelled. The only overtly Christian objects I’ve ever come across were made at T’ou Se We in Shanghai, which was run by Jesuit priests for Chinese orphans to learn artisan skills.
Perfumation and thurification have a very long history and can be traced back to prehistoric times. For thurification various types of incense burners were and are used until this day. For perfumation, rose-water was used that was stored and applied in specially made sprinklers. Rose, from which the rose-water was made, has a very long history. Some scholars claimed that the importance of the rose or indeed, the origin of roses, was discovered by the Persians – the biblical Hebrew for “rose” is “shoshannah”; the biblical Hebrew for Persia is “shushan”. Susa was the capital of Elam – residence of King Darius.
Wang Hing 1895 rosewater sprinklerFor storing perfumes the shape of the “tear bottles” or unguentaria was favoured. Evidence for the continuity of rose-water sprinklers is well provided by surviving bronze and later by copper and silver examples. The Arabic name for these rose-water sprinklers is qum-qum. In Iran and Central Asia, first of all in Afghanistan, such metal vessels became very popular and widespread during the early medieval Islamic period. There were several types made, but perhaps one of the earliest of these had pear-shaped bodies which was decorated with almond-shaped, or as they are sometimes called ‘tear-drop’ elements. These were not only decorative, but also functional since they provided better grips on the vessels. They had short waisted necks, opening mouths which had several small knobs around the rim. It is claimed that this type owes its origin to the earlier Roman bronze sprinklers. In Persian they are known as golabdan.
The word attar, which is today a synonym for rose oil essence, comes from the Arabic‘itr, meaning “perfume” or “essence.” The first description of the distillation of rose petals was written by the ninth-century philosopher al-Kindi, and more sophisticated equipment was described in the 10th century by al-Razi; one of the earliest centers of rose-water production was in southern Persia. Later, in the 13th century, rose water was produced widely in Syria, and the name of the oil-bearing rose genus Damascena may trace its origins to the city of Damascus. But true attar—rose oil as we know it today—was not produced until the late 16th century, when the double-distillation technique was developed.
Hand-held rose-water sprinklers, traditionally made with long straight necks 18th century pair rosewater sprinklersand bulbous bottoms, have a time-honoured role in festivities in much of the Islamic world. To mark the end of a wedding feast, rose water is sprinkled on the hands and faces of guests; at a Sephardi Jewish wedding guests are greeted with the same ritual. Aesthetic appreciation and commercial demand have encouraged silversmiths and other artisans to develop exceptionally beautiful sprinklers, examples of which can be found in museums throughout the Arabian Gulf region. In the home, a precious rose-water sprinkler is a symbol of hospitality and, incidentally, a demonstration of social standing and affluence.
Rose water sprinklers were more often than not originally made as pairs. Today, it is a matching pair that will have enhanced value due their rarity.
Pictured right we have a particular fine example of a pair of late 18th century parcel gilt filigree rosewater sprinklers. This is actually a good example of silver filigree work not being able to be exactly identified, since these could either be Chinese or Batavian. Now part of the collection at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore, they do come with the provenance of having been listed in the inventory of the Duke of Portland’s country seat at Welbeck Abbey. The early dating of these sprinkler would account for the lack of maker’s mark. Chinese Export Silver makers had not yet adopted the use of marks and Batavian silversmiths might well have been Chinese; only silversmiths who had converted to Christianity were required to mark their silver after 1730.
Hermitage rosewater sprinklersShown left, we have one of the finest examples of Chinese Export Silver rosewater sprinklers on the planet in the shape of this exquisite pair of silver gilt and enamel filigree sprinklers that are part of the toilet set of Catherine the Great. They date from the mid 18th century and were acquired in 1789 from the Winter Palace main collection; they now sit in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.
They have a globular body, long neck and flower-shaped perforated mouth for sprinkling. This shape originated in the Near East and became popular in India, China and even in Europe in the 18th century but are equally in the high Rococo style that Catherine admired so much. Such vessels were made from different materials including silver, porcelain or enamel. Both bottles were modelled from a sheet of silver, gilded and dressed into thin openwork gilded filigree of different designs. On the sides the sprinklers are decorated with small branches of flowers and leaves, cut from a silver sheet, gilded and covered with blue and green enamel and paint. The branches are fixed with wires.
Catherine the Great, probably one of the most voracious collectors of the 18th century, Hermitage filigree toilet sethad an obsession of all things Chinese; one of many obsessions she maintained most of her life.
Here [right] we see the sprinklers in the context of the complete 32-object priceless toilet set. The objects of the toilet set were made in pairs and organized on a table symmetrically around the mirror. The exquisite and fragile pieces are made in such a way that we still admire the skill of the Chinese silversmiths: they look like a silver lace. The granulation is rarely used, but sometimes we can see additional decoration with gilding, enamelling, painting or with feathers and silk. The Chinese filigree has not still been surpassed in workmanship and thinness.
Apart from articles for the toilet of an aristocratic lady, there are two groups of decorative sculptures included into the set – pairs of birds on stands with branches and trees. They are brightened with paint, silk and feathers. The elaborate mirror and toilet set of Chinese make of the mid-18th century are still unique in the fineness of execution and completeness. Only a few similar individual objects or smaller groups can be found in other important collections, including  the collection of Lord Clive of Plassey [aka Clive of India] at Powis Castle, Wales and are listed in the 1774-5 inventory, some pieces of which we see on above right, including the Chinese Export Silver, silver gilt and enamel rosewater sprinkler.
Canton Bonhams rosewater sprinklerOn the left we have a single late 18th century Chinese Export Silver filigree rosewater sprinkler, made in Canton it is said for the Indian market. Very much in the high rococo style of their Catherine the Great counterparts – the globular body between two squat bulbous mounts on an arched foot, the tall slender neck rising to a terminal of stylised floral form. Silver and parcel gilt filigree decoration throughout with swirls and cellwork applied with enamel workflowers and vines.
This particular piece was sold at auction at Bonhams, London in April 2013 for $7600.
We have to contemplate whether rosewater sprinklers are, in fact, Islamic or is it a misperception due to our romantic ideal of the east and the orient. My own research indicates that it is a multi-cultural object that has its roots in ancient Persia. Which brings us back to the 10th century silversmiths in Kaifeng, because the rosewater sprinkler is also used in an ancient ceremony practiced by Sephardi Jews to mark the end of the Sabbath and the start of the new week; the Havdalah ceremony. Its name comes from the Hebrew word L’Havdel, meaning to separate or distinguish. It marks the separation of the Sabbath from the rest of the week. There are two blessings, the second is a blessing over spices. This is the only instance in Judaism when aromatics are used ritually. The use of rosewater pre-dates the more commonly used spices today by thousands of years, the container dispensing this being a rosewater sprinkler. The blessing contains the words Hebrew words borei minei besamim [who has created various fragrances]. All this would have been very familiar to the 10th century Kaifeng silversmiths.  On the right, we see a late 19th Havdalah rosewater sprinklercentury Ottoman silver rosewater sprinkler specifically made for Havdalah, because the base [below left] has 3 Hebrew letters inscribed bet; mem; bet – standing for borei minei besamim.
Havdalah rosewater sprinkler baseIt is not inconceivable, therefore, that many of the Jewish merchant families connected with the China Trade, such as the Sassoons and the Khadoories would have been using Chinese Export Silver rosewater sprinklers for Havdalah, while Maharajahs, Muslims and Hindus would have used them for other purposes, leaving Catherine the Great and Clive of India to treasure their decorative merits.
Finally, we should not forget that rosewater was and still is widely used in Arab, Persian, Indian and Sephardi Jewish cuisine and that rosewater sprinklers, apart from their ritual and decorative uses, would also have been used in the same way as condiment sets on a festive table.
GlasgowAdrien von Ferscht is an Honorary Research Fellow at University of Glasgow’s Scottish Centre for China Research

worthpoint_w_coin_header_logo copyAdrien von Ferscht is the Worthologist expert for Chinese Export Silver

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 14.19.20This article also appears on 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Lord [Jesus], Son of David, Have Mercy on Me [a Sinner]" Cf. Matthew 15:21-28 (The Canaanite Woman)

The Mercy Of God
The depth of God’s mercy gives us a continual place of refuge.
By Mike Treneer
“Now show me your glory.” Moses’ straightforward request drew from God one of the greatest and most helpful revelations of God in the Old Testament. As Moses waited, hidden in a cleft in the rock, covered by the hand of God and surrounded by the cloud that veiled God’s presence, he heard God proclaim Himself, revealing His character and nature in words that became a theme song of the Old Testament. “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).
What an overwhelming revelation this is, that the God who created and rules the universe, the One who holds the ultimate power and authority over our lives, is compassionate, gracious, and abounding in love. This is the truth that God made known to Moses on the mountain. This is the truth that generations of Old Testament believers experienced in their lives and enriched with their testimonies. This is the truth confirmed and wonderfully amplified in the birth, life, and death of the Lord Jesus. This is the truth to which we refer when we speak of the mercy of God.
Not that we can overlook the balancing emphasis on God’s justice, for Moses was clearly told that “. . . he does not leave the guilty unpunished . . .” (Exodus 34:7). A vivid appreciation of God’s justice will sharpen our view of His mercy and enable us to appreciate its wonder, like the black jeweler’s cloth against which the sparkling beauty of the diamond is seen in its greatest splendor. But in revealing Himself to Moses, God gives the first place to His mercy. Do we want to know the glory of God as Moses did? Then God would have us focus, not on the “clouds and thick darkness” that surround Him (Psalm 97:2), not even on the blazing fire that the cloud hid (Deut. 4:11–12), but on the Word of God as He declares Himself to be a God of compassion, love, and mercy.
God used three Hebrew words for mercy when He declared Himself to Moses, words with different but closely related shades of meaning. These words have been translated in various ways in different English versions of Scripture, but they bring out the different facets of the wonderful quality of God that we call mercy. They are words specifically chosen by God to convey to us what is most important about His character.
The three Hebrew words, when transliterated into our English alphabet, are rahum, hannun, and hesed. In Exodus 34:6 the New International Version translates these words as “compassionate” (rahum), “gracious” (hannun), and “abounding in love” (hesed). The King James Version uses “merciful,” “gracious,” and “abounding in goodness.”
Different translators have chosen a variety of different words, displaying the depth of meaning in the original language. However, running through all three words is the underlying sense of God’s mercy. The better we understand these important words and all the richness of meaning with which the Bible invests them, the better we will understand God.
The word rahum and the words related to it focus on the aspect of God’s mercy that springs from His feelings of compassion for us. This family of words in Hebrew may well be derived from the Hebrew for womb, which is very similar. If so, one might almost translate with the sense of “mother feeling.” This is clearly the way in which it is used in Isaiah 49:15: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion (raham) on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
I vividly remember incidents when our children were small and they would wake up in the night distressed by teething, earaches, or bad dreams. A grumpy daddy would roll out of bed and stomp down the landing to the child’s room, angered at being awakened at this unearthly hour, only to be overwhelmed with feelings of compassion, tenderness, and pity at the sight of a helpless bundle gazing hopefully with pleading, tearful eyes. Such experiences give us a tiny glimpse into God’s heart of mercy toward us for “as a father has compassion (raham) on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13). So the prophet Isaiah can exhort us (Isaiah 55:6–7),
Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy (raham) on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Such is the mercy of God as He declared Himself to Moses. We may cry out to Him in our darkest moments and be absolutely confident that He is more merciful, more compassionate, more full of pity toward us than any human parent is even capable of imagining.
The second word that God chose to use of Himself in His encounter with Moses is the word hannum, from hen, meaning “grace” or “favor.” God’s mercy is not only full of compassion and pity, it is full of grace. This word emphasizes the sovereign nature of God’s mercy “. . . I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy (hanan) . . .” (Exodus 33:19). It focuses on the fact that God’s mercy is not evoked by any goodness or deservedness on our part, it is of His own grace and goodness. Such mercy is the gracious favor of a superior to an undeserving inferior.
In the Roman arena, the defeated gladiator was killed by the victor. The loser’s only hope was that the emperor, as he watched from his rostrum, would give him the “thumbs up,” the sign that he was to be spared as an act of imperial favor. If we picture ourselves as a vanquished gladiator thrown to the ground, with our opponent’s sword poised over our neck, and if we imagine looking up in our despair and seeing against all hope that imperial “thumbs up,” we may begin to understand the meaning of this aspect of God’s mercy.
Those times when we feel most keenly our unworthiness to enter the presence of God are the times when we gain the most insight into this aspect of God’s mercy. “. . . O LORD, have mercy (hanan) on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you” (Psalm 41:4). So we say with the psalmist (Psalm 123:1–3),
I lift up my eyes to you,
to you whose throne is in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he shows us his mercy (hanan).
Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us . . .
And as we look we hear God declaring Himself to be “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious (hanan) God” (Exodus 34:6).
The third word describing God’s mercy is the Hebrew word hesed, translated most often in the New International Version as the simple word “love” but often in the King James Version as “loving kindness” and in the Revised Standard Version “steadfast love.” This is the great covenant word of the Old Testament that spells out God’s commitment to be merciful to His people. “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love (hesed) to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands” (Deut. 7:9). It also describes the nature of God’s mercy in its kindness as well as its constancy. “It is a word that combines the warmth of God’s fellowship with the security of God’s faithfulness.” 1 It is what Naomi prays for Ruth and Orpah: “. . . May the LORD show kindness (hesed) to you as you have shown . . . to me” (Ruth 1:8), and it is the word that comes to Boaz’ mind to describe the character of Ruth (Ruth 3:10), who committed herself to stay with Naomi no matter what befell them and whose very name is so linked with the idea of kindness that we call people “ruthless” if they lack this quality. This is the word that comes to the mind of the prophets as they reflect on God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and review the constant mercy, the steadfast love that God has shown to their descendants (Micah 7:18–20):
Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy (hesed).
You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
You will be true to Jacob,
and show mercy (hesed) to Abraham,
as you pledged an oath to our fathers
in days long ago.
By using this word, God is reminding us that He has “pledged an oath.” Since He has told us that He is a faithful God who “keeps his covenant of love,” let us resolve never to doubt the constancy of His mercy. Instead let us determine that we will always trust in His steadfast love knowing that “though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love (hesed) for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed . . .” (Isaiah 54:10).
So we have seen something of the richness of God’s mercy. It is filled with feeling, compassion, and pity. It is sovereign, unhindered by our unworthiness. It is steadfast, unfailing in its constancy and kindness. Studying these words gives us a good beginning in our attempt to understand God’s mercy, but we can get an even clearer picture by seeing the impact of these truths in the lives of people.
The great self-portrait of His mercy, which God painted for Moses when He declared Himself on Mount Sinai, imprinted itself deeply on the consciousness of God’s people and inspired the faith of future generations of Israelite believers. We find these words describing God’s mercy recalled often throughout the Old Testament. At crucial times in people’s lives they are anchored and motivated by these truths in a way that deeply affects their responses to difficulty, failure, and success.
When God’s people are in trouble, needy, or under attack, what do they call to mind? “But you, O LORD, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15). When they are moved to celebrate, what do they sing about? “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love” (Psalm 145:8). When God has granted them success, as in the amazing exploit of rebuilding in Nehemiah, they are kept humble by an overwhelming sense of God’s mercy. They had been stubborn and rebellious, stiff-necked and disobedient; “But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them, or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God” (Neh. 9:31). It is impossible to read Ezra’s great prayer in Neh. 9 without seeing how deeply the conviction of God’s mercy had touched and influenced his thinking. His response to success was rooted in the truths about God’s mercy. “. . . But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them” (Neh. 9:17). There is nothing that can keep us humble like this sense of God’s mercy. It is the great antidote to pride, for pride and a deep awareness of God’s mercy simply cannot coexist.
As the Israelites attributed their times of success to God’s mercy, so they found it their only source of hope in the depths of personal failure. David—man of God, at the height of his career, with visions of building a temple to God’s glory, perhaps the greatest devotional writer of human history—commits adultery. He then arranges the death of his lover’s husband in an attempt to cover his sin. For months he hardens his heart and lives with this sickening burden of guilty secrecy. Then the horrible truth is made known. How can a man come back from such appalling personal failure? From the depths of defeat David holds on to what God has revealed about Himself: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1). David believed God meant what He told Moses, that He was “slow to anger,” “forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6–7). That deep personal conviction in the mercy of God enabled him to come back with a determination and straightforwardness that was beyond the understanding of those around him (2 Samuel 12:1–25).
None of us can know what great success, deep trouble, or abject personal failure may lie ahead of us, but we do know from the testimonies of these men of old that God is merciful. His mercy is gracious, completely independent of our worthiness. It is compassionate, touched with a deep understanding and feeling for our weakness and need. It is full of unfailing love, and of a commitment to remain faithful to us. What could provide us with a stronger “shield of faith” to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephes. 6:16) than these great truths that Moses learned on the mountain? If we believe and wholeheartedly embrace these truths they will be a strong and stable foundation for our lives that will stand the tests of success and failure, trouble and joy.

 P.S. This thought on the Hebrew notion of mercy was triggered regarding this Gospel because of Bishop Johannes Wilhelmus Maria Liesen of the Netherlands at EWTN who referred to the Hebrew prophetic origin of a new term for Love of God meaning "wombs"-rahamim (minute 09:00). This same idea is found in Pope Benedict's book Credo for Today, pp 69-70.  I always wondered what the Latin "viscera misericordiae" of God meant (which is never adequately translated into English). Finally here is the answer (especially in the link to Dives in Misericordia of Pope Saint John Paul II)!

Listen to the visiting bishops' four days of excellent preaching on EWTN!

Johannes Wilhelmus Maria Liesen

N.B. The Divine Mercy Message Scripture
Dives in Misericordia footnotes 52, 60, 61.
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