Sunday, October 25


From This Day Until the Ending of the World

I am somewhat less of an Anglophile than I used to be growing up, having discovered the rich and occasionally bittersweet world of old Spain and the charming, courtly fatalism of the geographical mess that was once Hapsburg Austria, but there still is much to recommend Old Blighty--at least before it is legislated out of existence by Brussels--and all of it is represented perfectly in miniature in this little clip. (We will overlook the fact that had England hung onto her French lands, France might not now be a Catholic nation, as opposed to today where it is a Er. Um. Long awkward pause. Okay, maybe it didn't matter that much after all. Apologies, Joanie, you did your best.)

This speech, and Olivier's masterful (and at times highly stylized) film of Shakespeare's Henry V was a huge formative influence in my childhood--with all its knights, chivalry, pomp, and star-sunbursted black armor, set against a background borrowed wholesale from the Hours of the Duke of Berry--and I was blessed to have parents who thought to put such things in my way. (And then there were some bits that just baffled me, like Falstaff's death.) I had seen it so many times that, when we were called to memorize and recite a monologue from Shakespeare years later in high school it was fairly easy for me to simply brush off Henry's rousing speech before Agincourt with a minimum of fuss.

Incidentally, Sts. Crispin and Crispinian were twin preachers who moonlighted (elves-and-shoemaker-style) as cobblers, eventually getting martyred in Soissons circa 286. They are patrons of all those who work with leather, among other things. Naturally, some tiresome persons have suggested they are the result of Christianizing some local fertility cult, I suppose, because it would seem to some people that's how saints are apparently made, not because some good Christians had the courage to go out and die for their beliefs. Imagine that.


Today, in the 1962 calendar, is the Feast of Christ the King. I love the old calendar a lot, with its various ranks of feasts and its octaves (even if some of those were suppressed from the still older 1952 calendar), but I am mystified why our celebration of Christ's very real rulership over the earth and His paramount place in our society and homes, is stuck at the end of October. But liturgy is not about a priori logic, so I can let it slide. Maybe it has something to do with the October Revolution or something. But the intersection of Christus Rex and Crispin Crispian is an apt one this year, given the wonderful rah-rah nature of this feast's collects, which shine out in our embattled age just as brightly as Henry's speech before Agincourt:
We have received the food of immortality and beg, Lord,
that we who are proud to fight under the banner of Christ our King,
may reign with Him for ever in His realm above.
Naturally, at my local ICRSP oratory, we had quite a blowout, the first solemn high mass I have seen since our pilgrimage out to Holy Hill, and the choir (in the words of friend Matt N.) rocked the Christus Vincit complete with an abbreviated version of the Laudes Regiae, that old papal litany of saints with the wonderful repetition of Tu illam adjuva. Viva Cristo Rey!

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