Thoughts About My Father, Twenty Years Out

There are some anniversaries that are harder to note than others.  For me, this is one of them. Twenty years ago today, my father, Henry G. Warrington, passed into eternity in a South Florida hospital.  He was the first of my immediate family to do, but certainly not the last: my brother followed suit six months later, and my mother five years after that.

Evangelicals and Pentecostals love to wax warm about their Christian upbringing.  With me, things were a little more complicated.  But that should serve as a reminder that we’re supposed to be about conversion growth, aren’t we?

My father, in aviator’s garb, with his father, Chet Warrington.

In any case, my father was, in reality, a child of privilege. He was raised in Chevy Chase, MD, just outside of Washington.  How our family got there and what we did after that is documented here.  But privilege has its burdens and responsibilities too.  His father was an outsized “mover and shaker” who left a large, multi-faceted legacy that proved a hard act to follow.  I never realised it until years after his death, but much of my growing up–moving to Palm Beach, cruising the Bahamas and the like–were us following in “Chet’s” wake.

Trying to extend the afterglow: my father, wearing his USCG cap, on his father’s yacht in Lake Michigan.

On the other hand, my father served in the Pacific in World War II in the United States Coast Guard, installing Loran stations and participating in some of the gruesome landings we had to make against the Japanese. The gruesome part he never discussed until his deathbed, but one thing was clear to my brother and me: his time in the military was the defining experience of his life, one which he, to varying degrees, tried to replicate in his family.  My brother got most of that: he spent what I came to call “seven years in boot camp”, including military school, maritime academy, and his own trip to Cape May in the Coast Guard.

My father shared that experience with millions of other people in World War II, and he shared it with people from other walks of life that he would not have crossed paths with otherwise.  Today that would make him an outlier in our class-stratified society where “they” do the fighting.  But with all the talk about tax policy and the like we should never lose sight of the fact that World War II was a great leveller of our society, where people from the top learned a responsibility for those at the bottom and vice versa–and the hope that we could all move up to a better life when it was done.  That high regard for people different from us created a tension, especially in the years we spent in status-conscious Palm Beach.  When he was faced with two contradictory things, he would say that “I have a no-fit going here”. But he never resolved this “no-fit”, which meant that, no matter how I sorted it out for myself, it would be wrong.

At the dedication of the family business’ South Florida office, June 1966: From left to right, Donald Lamsey, who managed the Tennessee plant, my mother, my father.

His experience in World War II left him a super patriot.  Traditionally that meant “my country, right or wrong”, but in his case he made it clear to my brother and me that it was never wrong and that we had to agree with it on every point, even when it was manifestly in error, as it was in its dithering way of handling Vietnam (it repeated that error in Iraq).  What advantage democratic process and liberty have with an attitude towards country like that is another one of those “no-fit” things, but he wasn’t the only child of privilege to have to deal with that.

My father (right) with R.G. “Dick” Castle, who represented our product for the San Francisco bay area, at the 1974 Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, TX,

His outlook, Louisiana bayou-inhabiting ancestors notwithstanding, was typically and narrowly WASP. That meant that he was, by today’s standards, hopelessly politically incorrect.  Blacks, Jews, Catholics, gays were all subject to disparagement.  (He had his exceptional moments such as this one). But that included another group of people: Evangelicals, whom he despised.  That extended to his customer base and potential purchasers of the family business.  “Bible-thumpers” were beneath him in every respect.  Had he understood the difference between WASP and Scots-Irish, he might have thrown that in to the mix.  But not even the expensive lesson my mother gave him was educational; he was, as he was wont to say, “too soon old and too late smart”.

My father (centre, blue jacket) with two of his employees and “the big stuff”, a set of offshore leaders, in the West Palm Beach fabricating facility, mid-1970’s.

That leads to the subject of his religion.  For most of his life, probably the best way to describe it is “Masonry without the Lodge”.  All of his Warrington ancestors (and many others) on this side of the Atlantic were Masons and Lodge members.  In his case, probably as a reaction to his fathers penchant for being a “joiner”, he was never in the Lodge AFAIK.  But the sentiments he expressed on the subject definitely sprang from Scottish Rite Freemasonry.  For someone who disliked ambiguity to espouse the Masonic concept of all religions leading to the same goal and the same god seemed awfully open-ended to me, but that’s another one of those “no-fits” that I had to resolve.

In the small craft: my father, right, with my brother and me on our 8′ “Dilly Boat” at Ocean Reef, Key Largo.

If you, by now, get the impression that my father was a hard person to grow up under, you’d be right.  It wasn’t an easy relationship, and that was made worse by his hard drinking, another family tradition that got him into trouble.  My family was one where the upcoming generation was seen more as a present threat than a future legacy, and that’s not as unusual with families in business as you might think.  It really wasn’t until his last years that real softening took place.

Today we have many groups of people who think they’re morally superior to anyone who has gone before them.  That’s one reason many of these groups are anti-Christian: Our Lord taught us that self-righteousness is a sin.  Ultimately, though, putting on moral airs is easier than making a better world, or even a better life.  My father’s generation wrote the destruction of fascism in their own blood; today we dither in the face of our own challenges, hidebound by currently fashionable prejudices and a hopelessly dysfunctional political system.

The people who exalt themselves today need to really make the world a better place, and not just for themselves. That’s the challenge that comes from my father and all those who have gone before us.

Sewanee, N.T. Wright, and Those Strange Biblical Scholars

It’s hard to be surprised these days at anything, but I must admit that I was surprised at the posting by one Paul A. Holloway, Professor of New Testament at the School of Theology at The University of the South, Sewanee, TN.  He is evidently upset that a) his institution gave N.T. Wright an honourary doctorate, without consulting him and b) people who object to his objection aren’t being very nice about it.

First: I’d have to admit, I was surprised that Sewanee bestowed upon him any kind of accolade.  This is the institution that has placed on display a giant clitoris.  Why such an institution would honour someone who has defended the basics of Christianity is beyond me.  Perhaps they’re trying to butter him up to defect.

Holloway, however, makes a long case that Wright isn’t a legitimate Biblical scholar.  As he put it:

What I dared to say in my letter is that properly speaking Wright is not a “scholar” who comes to the evidence with honest questions to be puzzled out and whose conclusions are always subject to revision, but an “apologist” who comes with ideologically generated answers that he then seeks to defend. I also said that Sewanee’s awarding Wright an honorary degree in my field on my watch was a professional embarrassment and that I felt like a biology professor who has had to sit by and watch a Biblical creationist receive an honorary degree in science. The vitriol protesting even my questioning Wright’s preeminence was instant and more than a little revealing.

You can read the rest of his case in his article.  My thoughts on all of this are as follows:

  1. Vitriol and the Internet are just about synonymous these days.
  2. Holloway assumes that, if you don’t agree with the “consensus” of Biblical scholarship that basically started with Richard Simon and moved forward, then you cannot be part of the conversation.  The problems with this “consensus” (which can be shown to be a moving target, especially with the advent of Biblical archeology) is that it renders the Bible unworthy of the study that people like Holloway supposedly give it.   Putting it simply, if they’re right, it’s not relevant.
  3. He characterises Wright’s supporters as “…marginalized and other socially anxious groups (who) construct and rally behind cult figures of their own construction.  These figures offer the social and cultural capital these groups feel they need.”  That’s a high-handed, classically Episcopalian snob approach to the situation, but I suppose one cannot expect otherwise given the institution.  It’s also a handy way of attacking people by denigrating their followers (kind of the reverse of the appeal to authority fallacy).
  4. He leans to heavily on the peer-reviewed literature system.  As a sometime academic working on a PhD, I’ve come to realise that the literature system is in trouble.  I am reluctant to accept stuff in the literature without some prior reflection; that’s especially true in the fields I work in (numerical analysis and geotechnical engineering) where what’s being analysed can be maddeningly complex and the results ambiguous and subject to manipulation or misinterpretation.  Wright challenges a lot of that scholarly consensus, which is why the “establishment” doesn’t care for him.  Once again Holloway needs to get off of his appeal to authority and get to where Wright has got it wrong.
  5. Holloway needs to define what he means by “Biblical creationist”.  Most people mean a “Young Earth Creationist” like Ken Ham, but that’s not universally the case.

Several generations of Episcopal ministers have been trained on Holloway’s idea of the Bible.  The results speak for themselves: a declining church which doesn’t believe in its fundamental tenets and which cannot differentiate itself enough from the society around it to justify involvement.  ISIS reminds us that things in the Middle East haven’t changed as much from Bible times as most would like to think.  Instead of teaching this and other things that get overlooked in Bible studies, Holloway is too busy eviscerating the truth value of what he studies to make it relevant.

And that’s a tragedy for all of us.

To the Holy Trinity: Images in Nature of the Birth of the Son of God

Moving along in Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, 1,3:

See this delicate vapour which the sea, sweetly touched by the sun, and as impregnated with its heat, sent day and night as of its own power to the heavens, without lessening of its vast womb. It is however the purest of its substance and something of the same nature, but not of the same material, of the waters which are held back. Such, says Solomon, the wisdom which God generates in eternity is a vapour of his all-powerful force a very pure emanation of his glory.

One can hear by this vapour, the heat itself which comes from the sun, from which none can hide, as David says.  That which is, one sees that the Wise seeks by all his comparisons, to make us hear a generation which neither alters nor cuts into his substance, and in the Father and the Son a distinction which does not detract from the unity.

It is this one who is not found among his creatures, and less in his physical creatures: but still he proposes to us the purest in physical nature to draw us to the most unconstrained images possible from the variation which appears in ordinary works.

Consider this burst, this ray, this splendour which comes from the son of the sun: it comes without dispersion, without separating itself, without waiting for the progress of time. All at once, as soon as the sun was formed, its splendour was born and poured out and one could see the beauty of this star. As such, said Solomon, wisdom which came from the womb of God was the delicate vapour, the very pure emanation, the lively gushing of his glory, the burst of his eternal light or as Saint Paul says, it is the resplendent ray of the glory of God and the imprint of his substance. As soon as light was, it broke out: and if the outbreak and splendour of the was not eternal, it is because the sun is no more; and on the other hand, if the light is eternal, its outburst and splendour will be also. Now God is a light where there are no shadows: a light which was not made, eternally subsists by itself and knows neither beginning nor decline.  Thus its outburst, which is his Son, is eternal like him and does not divide his substance. All the rays, to speak in this way, hold to the sun, his outburst never detaches; so without detaching from his Father, the Son of God comes forth eternally; and, to place God without a Son is to place the light without a ray and without splendour.

But let us pass to the other expression of Saint Paul: The Son of God, says the Apostle, is the character and the imprint of the substance of his Father. When a seal is applied in wax, it takes the resemblance and incorporates it, so that they cannot be separated. Consider this well: no facet escapes, and from this everything ends up in the seal from which it took its form. Thus the Son of God has taken all from the Father without taking anything away; he is the perfect image, the imprint, the expression, not of his face, because God does not have one, but as Saint Paul says, of his substance: according to the strength of the original, one can translate, of his person. He carries all the traits; it is why he says, Who has seen me, has seen my Father; and as the Father has life in himself, thus he has given to his Son to have life in himself. As the Father raises the dead and brings them back to life, thus the Son gives life to whom he pleases.  And he not only expresses his father in the effects of his power, he expresses all of his traits, all characteristics natural and personal, so that if one can see the Son without seeing the Father, one will fully see him in his Son.

But who can explain what are these traits and characteristics of the eternal Father which glisten in his Son? That is not of this life: and all which one can say, it is that there is nothing in God accidental, all the Father’s traits which the Son has imprinted in his person are of either the substance or the person of the Father. It is this substantial imprinting that the Father works of all that he is, and it is in making this impression that he generates his Son.

See in the Sage something more delicate. Wisdom eternally conceived in the womb of the Father is a flawless mirror of his majesty and the image of his goodness. An impression of a stamp, or the expression of the resemblance of an image which one cuts with a chisel or makes with colours, are too grossly material for the Son of God.  His nature has something more delicate: and see in the clear waters and in the mirror a new secret for painting or making an image.  There is only to present an object, soon he paints a self-portrait and this admirable painting is not corrupted in any way from the original: it is in some way the same original. Nevertheless neither the original nor the polished mirror where he is wholly imprinted decline. To make this portrait happen, there is no need for time, nor an imperfect sketch: in the same instant he begins and makes it happen, and the design like the end is only one trait.

Parousia: Sedona

Daystar DS 1001 (1975)

Arizona was the birthplace of God Unlimited, probably the best college-based group of the “Jesus Music” era (although this group did the same kind of ministry).  God Unlimited was an Episcopal group; this Arizona gathering was Roman Catholic, connected with the Spiritual Life Institute and Fr. William McNamara.

This is a very pleasant album, but somehow one gets the impression that it’s reaching for some things it just can’t grasp.  It’s tries in spots to be progressive, but ends up being as much MOR as anything else.  It also edges into some very “New Age” types of music and lyrics, but mercifully (with the lyrics at least) doesn’t make that either.  (A lot of that can be explained by Fr. McNamara’s own spirituality, which you can read about here). In the reaching part it resembles A City Set Upon a Hill Cannot be Hid, but that album (which really puts Our Lord’s parousia front and centre) has a stronger orchestration and is more creative than this production.

R-3128696-1317103287.jpegThe songs:

  • Sedona
  • Ladies Of The Sky
  • Passion Father
  • Steadfast Love
  • Praise Be The Lord
  • Friends In My Life
  • God Is Our Friend
  • It’s Called Faith
  • Take A Long Loving Look
  • Good Lady’s Love Song
  • Kingdom

DL

To the Holy Trinity: God of God: The Son of God Does Not Decay

Continuing in Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, 2,2:

A God, can a God come from him? A God, can he bring into existence a being other than himself? Yes, if this God is son. It is repugnant to God to come from another creator who pulls him from nothing; but it is not repugnant to God to come from another like a father who generates him from his own substance. More than that a son is perfect, if one can speak in this way, a son is more of a son if he is of the same nature and substance as his father; more if he is one with him; and if he can be of the same nature and individual substance, he will be more of a perfect son. But what nature could be so rich, so infinite, so immense for this, if it is not the only infinite and immense, that is to say the only divine nature? It is such which he has revealed to us that God is Father, that God is Son, and that the Father and Son are one God alone: because the Son generated from the substance of his father which does not admit division, and has no parts, which cannot be anything less than God and the same God with his Father.  For who speaks of the substance of God, says it all, and says by consequence God entirely. And who comes from God of this kind, that is to say of all his substance, has at the same time the entirety of his eternity, as the Prophet says: His going out is from the beginning, from the days of eternity: because eternity is the substance of God, and whatever comes from God and his substance, necessarily comes with the same eternity, the same life, the same majesty.  For if a father transmits to his son all his nobility, how much more does the Eternal Father transmit to his son all his nobility, with all the perfection and the eternity of his being? In this way the Son of God is necessarily co-eternal with his Father: for he cannot have anything new or in time in the womb of God.  The changing and passage of time of nature is to always change, this does not approach his august womb; and, the same perfection, the same fulness of being which in excluding nothing, excludes all changeable nature.  In God, all is permanent, all is changeless; nothing flows in his being; nothing new comes up; and, what makes up a sole moment, if one can speak of a moment in God, is always.  In the beginning the Word was: go back to the origin of the world, the Word was. Go back higher, if you can and place all the years which you like one after another, he was. He is like God the one who is. Saint John said in the Apocalypse (Revelation 1,4) may grace be given to you by he who is none other than he who is, who was and who is to come: it is God. And a little after, it is Jesus Christ of whom saint John speaks: See him who comes in the clouds. (v. 7) And it is him who pronounces these words: I am the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, says the Lord God, who is and was and is to come. Jesus Christ is thus like his father, he who is and who was: he is the one whose immensity wraps around the beginning and the end of things; and, like Son, being of the same nature and substance of his Father, is he also of the same being, the same duration, and the same eternity.

To the Holy Trinity: God is Fertile: God Has a Son

Starting a new Elevations on the Mysteries by Bossuet, 2,1:

 Why should God not have had a Son? Why should this happy nature lack this perfect fecundity that she gives to her creatures? The name of Father, is it so dishonouring and so unworthy of the first being, that he cannot arrange according to his natural characteristic? I who makes others have children, cannot not I have a child all the same? and if it is beautiful to have them, to make oneself children by adoption, is it not more beautiful and greater to generate them by nature?

I well know that an immortal nature does not have the need like a mortal and fragile one to renew itself, to perpetuate in substituting in his place children when one leaves the world, when one departs. But in himself, independently of this necessary reparation, is it not beautiful to produce another himself by abundance, by fulness, as the result of an endless communication, in a word by fertility and by the richness of a happy and perfect nature?

It is by participation in this happy fertility that man is fertile. When he lived immortal, according to the first design of his creation; when it pleased his creator for him to complete his happiness in his allotted time on earth, one always extends himself, it is beautiful to be fertile and to engender from himself and his own substance another. When this fertile efficacy is turned loose in its original and primitive state, it will be able to end when God wants it to, when the number of men which he wants to make happy is complete: but of itself, it will always be looked upon as rich and complete.  And where does this perfection come, if not from that of God always fertile in himself, and always father?

When the Sage pronounced these words: Who is he who is lifted up at the highest of the Heavens by his power, and who goes down endlessly by his cares? Who holds the winds in his hands? Who holds the sea in its limits and measures the ends of the earth? What is his name and who is the name of his son, if you know it? This is not a simple idea and words in the air: he claims to propose a mystery worthy of God, and something true and real, but at the same time incomprehensible. In his infinite nature, he saw a father whom one cannot understand and a son whose name was unknown. There was no question about naming or knowing him, because one knew that he was ineffable.

That is to say that to know the Son of God, it is necessary to raise up above the senses and of everything which can be known and named among men: it is necessary to take away all imperfection in the name of the son to leave only this: that the son is of the same nature as his father, without which the name of son will not stand. A child one day is not less of a man than his father: he is a man less formed, less perfect: but as less of a man, this cannot be and their beings cannot be so divided. But if a man and a son of a man can be imperfect, a God and a son of God cannot be so. Let us take away this imperfection, from the Son of God, who lives in another way, otherwise put by our fathers in the council of Nicea from the beginnings of Christianity: that he is God from God, light from light, true God from true God: perfect son of a perfect father: from a father who, not waiting to be old enough to be fertile, is father from what he is: who was never without his son: of whom the son has nothing degenerating, nothing imperfect, nothing to have to wait for until he is older, for all of this is nothing but the defect of the birth of men. God the Father has no need to associate himself to any other thing but himself to be father and fertile: he does not produce another outside of himself, because nothing which is outside of God is God. God thus conceives within himself, he carries in himself his fruit which is co-eternal with him. Again he is only father and the name of mother which is attached to imperfect and degenerating sex is not proper to him, all the while he has a maternal type of womb where he carries his son: I have, he says, generated you today from a material womb; ex utero. And the son calls himself the only son which is in the womb of the Father: a character uniquely proper to the Son of God. For where is the son, unless he is always in his father and never leaves his womb? His conception was not distinguished by his birth; the fruit he carried was perfect from when he was conceived, and he never left the womb in which he was carried. Who is carried in an immense womb, is from the start just as large and immense as the womb where he was conceived and never left.  God generated him, God received him into his womb, God conceived him, God carried him, God gave him birth: and the eternal wisdom which was nothing else than the son of God was attributed by Solomon as having been conceived and given birth: and all of this is only the same thing. God will only have this son, because he is perfect, and he cannot have two: one long and unique birth from this perfect nature and empties all the fertility and clothes him in all the love. This is why the Son of God calls himself Unique, the unique Son, Unigenitus: by which he shows at the same time that he is the Son, not by grace or adoption, but by nature. And the Father confirmed this word about the Son from on high by making this voice leave heaven: This is my well-loved son in which I am pleased: it is my Son, I have only him; and, from all eternity I have given him and give him all my love without end.

The Political Party Called “Enough”

In a lengthy piece on Algeria’s succession dilemma, we have this:

At least six opposition parties boycotted the elections, arguing that the results were determined well ahead of the voting and that the ballot would not change the nature of the governing regime. One of the many opposition movements, Barakat (“Enough”), regularly demonstrated for peaceful change after it was announced that Bouteflika would seek a fourth term.

Sounds like something we could use…

Algeria is well worth our attention and prayers, the last thing we need is another country in MENA going in the tank.

Frances Mary Hunter Gordon: The Woldingham Folk Mass

(1968)

It didn’t take long after Vatican II for new forms of the Mass to emerge.  This not only included the Novus Ordo Missae in 1970 (which is still in place, albeit with the Latinate English translation now in force) but also with new music.  On this side of the Atlantic, we had Peter Scholtes breaking new ground in the South Side of Chicago.  But across the pond–and really on the opposite end of the socio-economic spectrum too–things were happening, and this album was one of them.

There is an interesting account of how this album came into being (and it has its own lastfm page too).  Its prime mover, Frances Mary Hunter Gordon, tells us that the motivation for it was as follows:

Before I wrote The Folk Mass, the Catholic Mass was in Latin and all the music was old fashioned, traditional stuff – very beautiful – but – it was not our music. We were the swinging 60’s – the world of the Beatles. So The Folk Mass really broke new ground. The guitar had never been used in church in that way before. We sang the Mass in English for the first time and the style was our style, for our age. At the time it was a big thing, selling to many parts of the world. Meanwhile, I was in my last few years at school, trying to pass exams to get into medical school (I am a doctor), having turned down an offer from EMI to write pop songs for artists such as Cliff Richards!

And its recording pedigree went along with that bold goal:

The Mass was recorded on Saturday 18th November 1967 at Studio 3, Abbey Road, London – the same Abbey Road that The Beatles recorded in. That year the Beatles produced Sgt Pepper. They took over 700 hours at a cost of about £25,000!

All that said, the music style is sparse.  It is simply a harmony of female vocals with acoustic guitars.  With the vocalists coming from an Abbey, one expects a “Nun-Plus” style like this, and the album doesn’t disappoint.  That ethereal style, which the English excel in, would be brought to a different level by Cloud in the next decade.  In addition to Scholtes and the Americans, the Continent was busy pushing things ahead with more adventurous productions like The Mass for Peace and the Beat Mass.  (OTOH, this Mass would fare better in real liturgy use than these two…)

The album also has an “upper crust” feel to it, underscored by the following:

It was a private record pressing although there did not seem to be a charge for the recording. EMI said “we are intending to absorb this ourselves”. This may have had something to do with my uncle knowing Sir Joseph Lockwood (Chairman of EMI)!

Would have been nice if they could have stopped by my home church…but I suppose that stuff like this helped EMI to back its claim that it was “the greatest recording organisation in the world”.

My thanks to Pascual for putting me on to this music.

The songs:

  • Introit
  • In God alone
  • Kyrie
  • Gloria
  • Gradual
  • God My Hope
  • Creed
  • Offertory
  • Sanctus
  • Our Father
  • No not one
  • Agnus Dei
  • Where has the word of God gone
  • Hail Mary

DL

An Old Irish Biker Nails It On Civil Marriage

Nick Park, pastor of the Solid Rock Church and Administrative Bishop of the Church of God in Ireland, gets it:

The solution is clear. It’s time for the Government to get out of the marriage business. In fact, for most of human history, marriage was something practiced by communities (both religious and non-religious) and the State kept its nose out of it. That is why Henry VIII, who was an autocratic despot, got himself in such trouble over his divorce. Even a tyrant realised that the regulation of marriages was not his responsibility!…

The most sensible arrangement would be for the Government to stop trying to regulate marriage at all (since it obviously doesn’t understand marriage anyway) and to return marriage back to the community. Civil Partnerships would continue as a legal status to be available to all couples, irrespective of sexual orientation. Then religious groups, and non-religious groups also, could practice marriage in whatever way we see fit. No-one would be discriminated against, since churches and LGBT groups would be equally free to practice marriage according to their respective beliefs. And all such arrangements would have exactly the same standing under the law – which is none whatsoever.

Personally, I’d skip the civil partnerships/unions business.  I think that his idea would have more traction in the current Irish debate on the subject if his Roman Catholic counterparts would consider their own history in this regard more carefully than they do.

Ireland, like the UK and US, allows ministers to solemnise civil marriages, and Nick takes aim at that too:

The problems occur when we assume that ‘marriage’ means something similar in law and in a secular society. That is why religious organisations in Ireland act as solemnisers for the State – conducting weddings in our churches that are legally recognised and binding. However, this cosy arrangement has blinded us to the fact that there is a massive redefinition of marriage taking place – or, more accurately, a ‘hollowing out’ of marriage.

My true hope is that his idea will be embraced by his counterparts on this side of the Atlantic.

God, His Unity and Perfection: The Holiness of God

This is the last in this series from Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, 1,10:

1. God is the Holy One of Israel

God particularly delights in the name of holy.  Very often he calls himself the holy one of Israel: he wants that his holiness be his motif, and the principle of ours: be holy because I am holy, says the Lord.  His holiness, which is the consolation of his faithful, is also the terror of his enemies.  Whom do you attack, senseless low life? Whose name have you blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and cast proud looks? Against the holy one of Israel? While you carried yourself like a madman against me, your pride rose up to my ears; and here I put a brake on your mouth and an iron ring in your nose and I led you back on the road where you came. And elsewhere: the vigilant and the holy have come down from heaven (Isaiah 37, Daniel 4), it is an Angel if you wish: whatever he is, his power is in his holiness.  And the sentence leaves from on high: And he cried powerfully: cut down the tree, break off the branches, it is thus ordered in the assembly of those who are always awake, it is the sentence of the saints, their strength is in their holiness. And after: The kingdom is given to the people of the saints of the Most-High (Daniel 7) because he is holy and the all-powerful protector of holiness. The Pagans themselves well understood the power attached to the holiness of the divine name: the Queen said to King Belshazzar: There is a man in thy kingdom that hath the spirit of the holy gods in him: (Daniel 5:11 DRB) that was to say, the spirit of preaching and of divine efficacy.

2. The vision of Isaiah and of Saint John

I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated: (Isaiah 6:1-4 DRB) and his train filled the temple. Upon it stood the Seraphims: the one had six wings, and the other had six wings: with two they covered his face, and with two they covered his feet, and with two they flew. And they cried one to another, and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of his glory, And the lintels of the doors were moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.  See the holiness of God: see why he is called the holy one of Israel.  He showed himself to the prophet as the very holy one, the three-times holy one in his three persons: and the glory and the majesty which filled all the earth were the outbreak of his holiness. Holiness is his clothing, said David; and saint John, in the Apocalypse (Revelation 4) saw four animals which never stopped crying night and day: Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord God almighty, who was and is and who is to come.  Note this cry above all: there is nothing which is published with a greater cry and with greater perseverance: nothing which breaks out more highly in all the universe than the holiness of God.

Holiness is the summary and like an abstract of divine perfections.  The Son of God himself in his last prayer, speaking to his Father, as if to encapsulate in one single word his perfections, calls him: my holy Father, my just Father: and we do not find in his Gospel that he gave him another title than these two which make one. Himself he was known under the title of holy and just: the holy thing which will be born in you will be called the Son of God.  The demons spoke like the Angel: I know who you are: the Holy One of God. Daniel had named him in spirit because of his anointing: the Holy One of Holy Ones. Isaiah called him the Just. Saint Peter put together these two qualities in saying: You have denied the Holy and the Just.

3. That Which is Understood by Holiness

Holiness is in God is an essential incompatibility with all sin, with all defect, with all imperfection of understanding and will.

  1. Injustice, iniquity, sin cannot be in him: he is the rule and the good by essence, without which he may have in him some kind of defect. He neither understands nor wants that it is necessary for him to understand and hear: his understanding and will are his nature which is always excellent. His moral perfection and his natural perfection are one: he is equally immune to defect by his being and infallible in his intelligence and will, by consequence incompatible with all sin and defect.
  2. It belongs only to him to purify soiled consciences from sin: he is holy and sanctifier: he is just and justifying the sinner, as Saint Paul says.
  3. He is incompatible with sinners and rejects them in front of him by all his holiness and all his essence. The morning, says the Psalmist, in the time when thoughts are the neatest and when one can offer first fruits to God, Lord, I will present myself in front of you and I will see clearly, in your light, that you are a God and do not want iniquity.  The evil one does not live next to you: and the unjust do not last in front of your eyes.  You hate all those who commit sins: you will lose all those who speak lies: the bloody man and the deceiver are an abomination in front of the Lord.
  4. Sinners uselessly attack by their rebellion: and, his holiness dwells inviolable in the midst of the impious, the blasphemers, the impure ones of which all the universe is filled by the malice of men and demons.
  5. He dwells holy, although to punish sinners he delivers them to their bad desires, because to deliver them is not to produce them. God only removes himself from an ungrateful heart: this removal is holy, because God removes himself justly from those who leave him and punishes their voluntary straying, in striking them with blindness. He makes all in man, except the first sin where his action does not mix. The one who permits this is not soiled, because he alone, he can take away an infinite good and greater than the malice of all sins together, as when he took from the malice of the Jews a sacrifice so holy which expiates all crimes.
  6. He purifies the just by a thousand trials: he places them in the crucible and the fire: in the fire of this life: in the fire of the other and nothing soiled enters into his kingdom.
  7. His holiness is the conviction of all men: Unhappiness to me, wrote Isaiah, after having seen the majesty of the three-times holy: unhappiness to me with my impure lips: in the middle of a soiled people.  I saw with my eyes the King of armies: Go, he says, and say to these people: Hear and not understand. Blind the heart of this people: weigh down their ears: close their eyes. It is the effect of the holiness of God, when it is scorned.

I will be sanctified in their midst in punishing them: I will wash my hands in their blood and my just vengeance will break out my holiness.

Holy things are for the holy, it is written another time before communion. There is only one holy: only one Lord: only one Jesus Christ, the people respond. Oh Lord! Sanctify us, so that we sanctify and glorify your name. In truth, in truth I say to you: I do not know you: go away from me, all of you who work iniquity.

Approach, penitent sinners: purify yourselves in the source of purity. If your sins are red like scarlet, I will whiten them like snow. What a marvellous change! The Ethiopian will no longer have black skin: she breaks out in a heavenly whiteness: the holiness of God has done this work. Be thus holy, because I am holy, says the Lord. Be saints, ministers of God and his altars, dispensers of his word and his mysteries, because God has chosen you to sanctify his people. People of God, be holy, because God lives in your midst. Sanctify your souls where he wants to make his dwelling and your bodies which are the temples of the Holy Spirit.

Sailing the Last Voyage with Newton and Pascal