Monday, August 19, 2019

On the Son Rise Morning Show: Newman and Literature, Part One


As promised, I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show bright and early this morning (6:50 a.m. Central/ 7:50 a.m. Eastern) to talk with Anna Mitchell about Newman and Literature, focusing today on Newman's literary style.

Blessed John Newman was once told in a letter that someone thought he was a saint and he replied humbly:

I return you Miss Moore’s letter. You must undeceive her about me, though I suppose she uses words in a general sense. She called Newman a saint. I have nothing of a Saint about me as every one knows, and it is a severe (and salutary) mortification to be thought next door to one. I may have a high view of many things, but it is the consequence of education and of a peculiar cast of intellect—but this is very different from being what I admire. I have no tendency to be a saint—it is a sad thing to say. Saints are not literary men, they do not love the classics, they do not write Tales. I may be well enough in my way, but it is not the ‘high line.’ People ought to feel this, most people do. But those who are at a distance have fee-fa-fum notions about one. It is enough for me to black the saints’ shoes—if St. Philip uses blacking, in heaven. (LD XIII:419).

Some have used this to deprecate Newman's beatification and canonization saying it was somehow against his will--but isn't this what most of us would reply if someone said we were saints? He did not say that he didn't want to be a saint (be in Heaven), but that he did not want to be called a saint while he was still alive.

Nonetheless, Newman was a "literary" man who loved the classics and wrote Tales and who wanted to be a good writer, communicating truth and action to his audience, reaching them to persuade them, console them, excite them to good thoughts, good works, good ways of living.

In a book published in 1932, Favorite Newman Sermons Selected by Daniel M. O'Connell, S.J., the editor included "Newman's Rules for Writing Sermons":

1. A man should be in earnest–by which I mean he should write, not for the sake of writing, but to bring out his thoughts.

2. He should never aim to be eloquent.

3. He should keep his idea in view, and should write sentences over and over again till he has expressed his meaning accurately, forcibly, and in few words.

4. He should aim at being understood by his hearers or readers.

5. He should use words which are likely to be understood. Ornament and amplification will come spontaneously in due time, but he should never seek them.

6. He must creep before he can fly–by which I mean that humility, which is a great Christian virtue, has a place in literary composition.

7. He who is ambitious will never write well; but he who tries to say simply what he feels and thinks, what religion demands, what faith teaches, what the Gospel promises, will be eloquent without intending it, and will write better English than if he made a study of English literature.

Regarding rule number seven, Newman had also made a study of English literature, and he knew the power of all literature (tales, stories, novels, plays, poetry, etc). He had a high view of the power of Literature to move and influence people. In The Idea of the University he argues that if Theology is not part of a university curriculum, Literature could take its place (and so could Science). Literature, however, may be the greater danger to Theology because, if Science “ignores the idea of moral evil”, Literature recognizes and understands it too well, and can make it both attractive and sympathetic to the reader. Newman states that Literature is the voice of “the natural man”, fallen and sinful: 

Literature stands related to Man as Science stands to Nature; it is his history. Man is composed of body and soul; he thinks and he acts; he has appetites, passions, affections, motives, designs; he has within him the lifelong struggle of duty with inclination; he has an intellect fertile and capacious; he is formed for society, and society multiplies and diversifies in endless combinations his personal characteristics, moral and intellectual. All this constitutes his life; of all this Literature is the expression; so that Literature is to man in some sort what autobiography is to the individual; it is his Life and Remains. Moreover, he is this sentient, intelligent, creative, and operative being, quite independent of any extraordinary aid from Heaven, or any definite religious belief; and as such, as he is in himself, does Literature represent him; it is the Life and Remains of the natural man, innocent or guilty. I do not mean to say that it is impossible in its very notion that Literature should be tinctured by a religious spirit; Hebrew Literature, as far as it can be called Literature, certainly is simply theological, and has a character imprinted on it which is above nature; but I am speaking of what is to be expected without any extraordinary dispensation; and I say that, in matter of fact, as Science is the reflection of Nature, so is Literature also—the one, of Nature physical, the other, of Nature moral and social. Circumstances, such as locality, period, language, seem to make little or no difference in the character of Literature, as such; on the whole, all Literatures are one; they are the voices of the natural man.

He counsels that the university should not censure or bowdlerize works of literature and shield students from them. He warns that you cannot “attempt a sinless Literature of sinful man”. The students at a university must read the classic works of literature if they are to be prepared for the world and to develop the philosophical method that he claimed was the purpose of university education.

Newman had studied the art of writing and noted in a lecture to the Philosophy department at the Catholic University of Ireland, as quoted by Father Juan Velez, that:

. . . writing is essentially a personal work, not something that results from production or a natural process. It is not a mere vehicle of things or symbols as is the case with mathematics. “Literature is the personal use or exercise of language.” And this is proved from the fact each author writes differently, and the genius masters language for his purpose: “while the many use language as they find it, the man of genius uses it indeed, but subjects it withal to his own purposes, and moulds it according to his own peculiarities. The throng and succession of ideas, thoughts, feelings, imaginations, aspirations, which pass within him, the abstractions, the juxtapositions, the comparisons, the discriminations, the conceptions, which are so original in him, his views of external things, his judgments upon life, manners, and history, the exercises of his wit, of his humour, of his depth, of his sagacity, all these innumerable and incessant creations, the very pulsation and throbbing of his intellect, does he image forth, to all does he give utterance, in a corresponding language, which is as multiform as this inward mental action itself and analogous to it, the faithful expression of his intense personality…” Language is as the very shadow of an author, it is unique, not someone else’s shadow.

He goes further: “Thought and speech are inseparable from each other. Matter and expression are parts of one: style is a thinking out into language. This is what I have been laying down, and this is literature; not things, not the verbal symbols of things; not on the other hand mere words; but thoughts expressed in language.” Men, unlike animals, exercise logos, the Greek word for both reason and speech. A classical author has both; he thinks and writes his thoughts. He is not like a traveler unable to write who engages a professional letter writer. Excellent writers such as Shakespeare or Walter Scott did not aim at diction for its own sake; instead they poured forth beautiful words because they had beautiful thoughts.


Newman definitely had beautiful thoughts, about Jesus, the Catholic Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Saints, education, the laity, faith and reason, etc. That's why getting used to his writing style, as Ciceronian and Victorian as it is, is worth doing. 

Friday, August 16, 2019

Preview: Newman and Literature, Part One

On Monday, August 19, Anna Mitchell and I will begin a two part discussion of Blessed John Henry Newman and Literature in our Santo Subito! Series on the Son Rise Morning Show (at the usual time: 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern). We'll start with discussing Newman's writing style and then next Monday we'll talk about the incredible range of his literary production!

I have been reading Newman's works since I was a sophomore in college and I was an English major, used to reading Victorian novels, etc--and I'd taken four years of Latin in high school. I've gotten accustomed to Newman's style, which is definitely Ciceronian. Having read some of Cicero's Orations in Latin class I was already influenced by this style, but it can take some getting used to.

Ciceronian sentences are also called periodic sentences: you have to read all the way to the period ending the sentence to understand what the author is saying. Taking one ready to hand example, so often quoted from Newman's The Idea of a University:

Quarry the granite rock with razors, or moor the vessel with a thread of silk; then may you hope with such keen and delicate instruments as human knowledge and human reason to contend against those giants, the passion and the pride of man.

Newman's Ciceronian style is classically balanced:

Basil and Julian were fellow-students at the schools of Athens; and one became the Saint and Doctor of the Church, the other her scoffing and relentless foe.

Newman's classic style presents examples in sets of three, as in this sentence describing the different aspects of priest, prophet, and king:

Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ, a prophet in its informations, a monarch in its peremptoriness, a priest in its blessings and anathemas, and even though the eternal priesthood throughout the Church could cease to be, in it the sacerdotal principle would remain and would have a sway.

Newman's Ciceronian style shows the power of invention, building up examples that demonstrate his point so aptly that the reader shares his conclusion:

To consider the world in its length and breadth, its various history, the many races of man, their starts, their fortunes, their mutual alienation, their conflicts, and then their ways, habits, governments, forms of worship; their enterprises, their aimless courses, their random achievements and acquirements, the impotent conclusion of long-standing facts, the tokens so faint and broken of a superintending design, the blind evolution of what turn out to be great powers or truths, the progress of things, as if from unreasoning elements, not towards final causes, the greatness and littleness of man, his far-reaching aims, his short duration, the curtain hung over his futurity, the disappointments of life, the defeat of good, the success of evil, physical pain, mental anguish, the prevalence and intensity of sin, the pervading idolatries, the corruptions, the dreary hopeless irreligion, that condition of the whole race, so fearfully yet exactly described in the Apostle’s words, ‘having no hope and without God in the world’,—all this is a vision to dizzy and appall; and inflicts upon the mind the sense of a profound mystery, which is absolutely beyond human solution.

What shall be said to this heart-piercing, reason-bewildering fact?


I can only answer that either there is no Creator, or this living society of men is in a true sense discarded from His presence.

We know that Newman admired Cicero; he contributed an article to an encyclopedia on his life and works. He praised the orator and politician at the same time that he noted his failures:

It may be doubted, indeed, whether any individual ever rose to power by more virtuous and truly honourable conduct; the integrity of his public life was only equalled by the correctness of his private morals; and it may at first sight excite our wonder that a course so splendidly begun should afterwards so little fulfil its early promise. Yet it was a failure from the period of his Consulate to his Pro-prætorship in Cilicia, and each year is found to diminish his influence in public affairs, till it expires altogether with the death of Pompey. This surprise, however, arises in no small degree from measuring Cicero's political importance by his present reputation, and confounding the authority he deservedly possesses as an author with the opinions entertained of him by his contemporaries as a statesman. From the consequence usually attached to passing events, a politician's celebrity is often at its zenith in his own generation; while the author, who is in the highest repute with posterity, may perhaps have been little valued or courted in his own day. Virtue indeed so conspicuous as that of Cicero, studies so dignified, and oratorical powers so commanding, will always invest their possessor with a large portion of reputation and authority; and this is nowhere more apparent than in the enthusiastic welcome with which he was greeted on his return from exile. But unless other qualities be added, more peculiarly necessary for a statesman, they will hardly of themselves carry that political weight which some writers have attached to Cicero's public life, and which his own self-love led him to appropriate.

What he admired most about Cicero was his philosophical development of the Latin language to explore ideas more deeply and persuasively, which is what he would do in English.

More about Newman and Literature, focused on his writing style, on Monday . . .

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Tradition and the Doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


The University of Dayton has some excellent background on the Tradition and the Doctrine that the Blessed Virgin Mary was Assumed Body and Soul into Heaven:

Belief that Mary has been taken up and is now in heaven with both her body and her soul has been part of the teaching of the Catholic Church since the earliest centuries of Christianity. The strongest evidence for the belief of the early Christians is found in ancient liturgies and in homilies in honor of Mary's passing. A second source, widely spread in the Middle Ages is known as the Transitus writings. Today, the renewed discussion about the location of the tomb of Mary indicates interest about Mary's Assumption into heaven.

By the end of the Middle Ages, belief in Mary's Assumption into heaven was well established theologically and part of the devotional expressions of the people. The word Assumption comes from the Latin verb assumere, meaning "to take to oneself." Our Lord, Jesus Christ took Mary home to himself where he is.

For Martin Luther, Mary's Assumption was an understood fact, as his homily of 1522 indicates, in spite of the fact that Mary's Assumption is not expressly reported in Sacred Scripture. For Protestant reformer, Martin Butzer (1545), there was no reason to doubt about the Assumption of the Virgin into heavenly glory. "Indeed, no Christian doubts that the most worthy Mother of the Lord lives with her beloved Son in heavenly joy." (Marienlexikon, vol 3, 200)

H. Bullinger (1590), also a Protestant reformer, sought for a theological foundation for the Assumption in Scripture. He showed that the Old Testament tells of Elias, taken to heaven bodily to teach us about our immortality, and – because of our immortal soul – to respectfully honor the bodies of the saints. Against this backdrop he states, "Because of this, we believe that the pure immaculate chamber of the God-bearer, the Virgin Mary, is a temple of the Holy Spirit, that is her holy body, borne by angels into heaven." (Marienlexikon, vol 3, 200)

In the light of a long history of Christian belief since patristic times, in 1950, Pope Pius XII defined Mary's Assumption into Heaven as a dogma of Roman Catholicism:

"the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven."

The proclamation of this dogma is found in the encyclical
(sic): Munificentissimus Deus.

In Munificentissimus Deus, which is actually not an encyclical but an Apostolic Constitution, a more authoritative papal document, Pope Pius XII pointed out that the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary had been celebrated in art, music, and liturgy for centuries.

Blessed John Henry Newman at the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Birmingham preached on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary just about one hundred years before Pope Pius XII proclaimed the doctrine:

It was surely fitting then, it was becoming, that she should be taken up into heaven and not lie in the grave till Christ's second coming, who had passed a life of sanctity and of miracle such as hers. All the works of God are in a beautiful harmony; they are carried on to the end as they begin. This is the difficulty which men of the world find in believing miracles at all; they think these break the order and consistency of God's visible word, not knowing that they do but subserve a higher order of things, and introduce a supernatural perfection. But at least, my brethren, when one miracle is wrought, it may be expected to draw others after it for the completion of what is begun. Miracles must be wrought for some great end; and if the course of things fell back again into a natural order before its termination, how could we but feel a disappointment? and if we were told that this certainly was to be, how could we but judge the information improbable and difficult to believe? Now this applies to the history of our Lady. I say, it would be a greater miracle if, her life being what it was, her death was like that of other men, than if it were such as to correspond to her life. Who can conceive, my brethren, that God should so repay the debt, which He condescended to owe to His Mother, for the elements of His human body, as to allow the flesh and blood from which it was taken to moulder in the grave? Do the sons of men thus deal with their mothers? do they not nourish and sustain them in their feebleness, and keep them in life while they are able? Or who can conceive that that virginal frame, which never sinned, was to undergo the death of a sinner? Why should she share the curse of Adam, who had no share in his fall? "Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return," was the sentence upon sin; she then, who was not a sinner, fitly never saw corruption. She died, then, as we hold, because even our Lord and Saviour died; she died, as she suffered, because she was in this world, because she was in a state of things in which suffering and death are the rule. She lived under their external sway; and, as she obeyed Caesar by coming for enrolment to Bethlehem, so did she, when God willed it, yield to the tyranny of death, and was dissolved into soul and body, as well as others. But though she died as well as others, she died not as others die; for, through the merits of her Son, by whom she was what she was, by the grace of Christ which in her had anticipated sin, which had filled her with light, which had purified her flesh from all defilement, she was also saved from disease and malady, and all that weakens and decays the bodily frame. Original sin had not been found in her, by the wear of her senses, and the waste of her frame, and the decrepitude of years, propagating death. She died, but her death was a mere fact, not an effect; and, when it was over, it ceased to be. She died that she might live, she died as a matter of form or (as I may call it) an observance, in order to fulfil, what is called, the debt of nature,—not primarily for herself or because of sin, but to submit herself to her condition, to glorify God, to do what her Son did; not however as her Son and Saviour, with any suffering for any special end; not with a martyr's death, for her martyrdom had been in living; not as an atonement, for man could not make it, and One had made it, and made it for all; but in order to finish her course, and to receive her crown.

And therefore she died in private. It became Him, who died for the world, to die in the world's sight; it became the Great Sacrifice to be lifted up on high, as a light that could not be hid. But she, the lily of Eden, who had always dwelt out of the sight of man, fittingly did she die in the garden's shade, and amid the sweet flowers in which she had lived. Her departure made no noise in the world. The Church went about her common duties, preaching, converting, suffering; there were persecutions, there was fleeing from place to place, there were martyrs, there were triumphs; at length the rumour spread abroad that the Mother of God was no longer upon earth. Pilgrims went to and fro; they sought for her relics, but they found them not; did she die at Ephesus? or did she die at Jerusalem? reports varied; but her tomb could not be pointed out, or if it was found, it was open; and instead of her pure and fragrant body, there was a growth of lilies from the earth which she had touched. So inquirers went home marvelling, and waiting for further light. And then it was said, how that when her dissolution was at hand, and her soul was to pass in triumph before the judgment-seat of her Son, the apostles were suddenly gathered together in the place, even in the Holy City, to bear part in the joyful ceremonial; how that they buried her with fitting rites; how that the third day, when they came to the tomb, they found it empty, and angelic choirs with their glad voices were heard singing day and night the glories of their risen Queen. But, however we feel towards the details of this history (nor is there anything in it which will be unwelcome or difficult to piety), so much cannot be doubted, from the consent of the whole Catholic world and the revelations made to holy souls, that, as is befitting, she is, soul and body, with her Son and God in heaven, and that we are enabled to celebrate, not only her death, but her Assumption.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Reginald Pole and Last Session of the Council of Trent

Found when looking for something else*: a presentation on Reginald Cardinal Pole's works published for the Council of Trent by the Aldine Press in 1562: De Concilio liber and Reformatio Angliae. 

Reginald Cardinal Pole, the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, was dead of course (+11/27/1558) when Pope Pius IV convened the last session of Council of Trent. Pole had died under the cloud of suspicion of heresy during the reign of Pope Paul IV, who had stripped him of his title as Papal Legate. Mary I showed some of her father's spirit in responding to Papal authority and had not permitted Pole to leave England for Rome to face those charges. Others in Pole's circle, like Giovanni Cardinal Morone, suffered imprisonment and interrogation by the Roman Inquisition. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, he was vindicated after his arrest, imprisonment, and investigation:

[He] was arrested by the pontiff's order, confined in the Castle of Saint Angelo (31 May, 1557), and made the object of a formal prosecution for heresy, in which his views on justification, the invocation of saints, the veneration of relics and other matters were incriminated and submitted to rigid inquiry.

The cardinal strenuously repudiated these charges, but he was kept in confinement until the death of Paul IV. In 1560 his successor Pius IV authorized a revision of the process against Morone, and as a result the imprisonment of the cardinal and the whole procedure against him were declared to be entirely without justification; the judgment also recorded in the most formal terms that not the least suspicion rested upon his orthodoxy.


As H. George Fletcher comments in his presentation, publication of Pole's Book of the Council, written for the first session of the Council of Trent in 1542, 20 years earlier, and the records of Legatine Council he had held in England to begin the re-establishment and the reforms of the Catholic Church, was meant to offer a "posthumous vindication" of Pole's life and work for the Church.

In both Eamon Duffy's presentation on Cardinal Pole and H. George Fletcher's, Pope Paul IV does not come off well. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia calls his pontificate a great disappointment. 

Fletcher's presentation, made at the Grolier Club in 2015, offers some narrative on Pole's life and and works, but is mostly concerned with his acquisition of one of the books published by the Aldine Press in 1562 and whether it could be a copy sent to the last session of the Council of Trent and used by a peritus assisting one of the delegates there.

*Oh, what was I looking for? Some more information about this image.

The Witness of Martyrdom: Blessed William Freeman


Saints, both Confessors and Martyrs, provide us examples and models. We see the goodness of the Confessor Saints in how much they love God and neighbor and want to emulate them in our own lives. But Martyrs, while still providing the same model of love of God and neighbor through their service also offer a heroic pattern to follow: being willing to suffer and die for those same reasons. We may read about the suffering of the Confessors as they face obstacles and setbacks, but hearing about how the martyr endures torture and execution is more drastic. 

Witnessing the brutal execution of hanging, drawing, and quartering: the agony of being partially strangled,  eviscerated while still alive, and being beheaded and chopped up after death--and then deciding to take up the same mission and dangers that led to that horrific death is even more remarkable.

I've written before about how St. Edmund Campion's trial and passion influenced both St. Henry Walpole and St. Philip Howard--and how Walpole imitated Campion so completely that he endured torture, engaged in theological disputations, and suffered martyrdom just like his model. Today's martyr, Blessed William Freeman, witnessed the execution of Blessed Edward Stransham, and it changed his life.

He was born in East Riding, Yorkshire, he studied at Oxford and was converted to Catholicism in 1586 by the martyrdom of Blessed Edward Stransham at Tyburn. (His parents were recusant Catholics but he had conformed to the established church.) He went to Reims, France, where he was ordained in 1587. He went back to England the following year, and labored for the English mission in Worcestershire and Warwickshire until arrested in early 1595 in Stratford-on-Avon. Seven months later he was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Warwick on August 13. William was beatified in 1929. 

Blessed Edward Stransham was born at Oxford about 1554; suffered at Tyburn, 21 January, 1586. He was educated at St. John's College, Oxford, becoming B.A. in 1575-6; arrived at Douai in 1577, and went with the college to Reims in 1578, whence he came back to England owing to illness. In 1579, however, he returned to Reims, and was ordained priest at Soissons in Dec., 1580. He left for England, 30 June, 1581, with his fellow-martyr, Nicholas Woodfen, of London Diocese, ordained priest at Reims, 25 March, 1581. In 1583 Stransham came back to Reims with twelve Oxford converts. After five months there he went to Paris, where he remained about eighteen months at death's door from consumption. He was arrested in Bishopgate Street Without, London, 17 July, 1585, while saying Mass, and was condemned at the next assizes for being a priest. Stransham was also beatified in 1929 while Woodfen was in 1987.

Blessed William Freeman, pray for us!
Blessed Edward Stransham, pray for us!
Blessed Nicholas Woodfen, pray for us!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Dies Natalis of Blessed John Henry Newman

John Henry Cardinal Newman died on August 11, 1890.  It was his "Dies Natalis", his birth into everlasting life.

The Times of London reported his death on August 12: 

We have to record, with feelings of the most sincere regret, the death of His Eminence Cardinal Newman. He died last evening at the Oratory, Edgbaston, in his 90th year, after less than three days' illness. The Cardinal has for many years manifested the feebleness of advanced age, although he has fully retained his mental faculties, and has rallied in a wonderful manner from more than one severe illness. . . . 

"The medical attendants have issued the following account of their patient's last illness. "The Oratory, August 11, 1890. His Eminence Cardinal Newman was seized with inflammation of the right lung at 2 o'clock a.m. on Sunday, August 10. He very rapidly became worse until this evening at 8:45, when he expired. His Eminence expressed himself as feeling quite well an hour before this attack occurred.—G. Vernon Blunt, M.D.; C. H. Jenner Hogg, M.R.C.S.E." The private prayers of the congregation were asked for the Cardinal at the Oratory Church on Sunday, and in the evening there were numerous and anxious inquiries respecting him. He will be buried at the little country retreat of the Oratorians, at Rednall, where there is a private cemetery and chapel. The body will be exposed in the Oratory Church from noon today until it is removed for burial. The date of the funeral is not yet fixed.


Of course, he was buried in Oratorian cemetery in Rednal with Ambrose St. John his great friend and aide in establishing the English Oratorian Congregations. Now his shrine is in the Birmingham Oratory. You might remember that when they exhumed his body in preparation for the shrine, the grave was nearly empty: there are no first class relics. 

Since St. Clare of Assisi's feast day is August 11 when Newman was beatified in 2010 the date of his conversion, October 9 (1845) was chosen as his feast day.

Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem--Out of shadows and imagination into truth! 

Two days before he died his niece Grace Longford, the only child of his estranged sister Harriett visited him. Newman had not seen her since she was three years old. More about his death here.

Cor ad Cor Loquitor--Heart Speaks unto Heart! 

From Elgar's setting of Newman's The Dream of Gerontius, "Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus" sung by Richard Lewis as Gerontius with the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Sir John Barbirolli (includes "Firmly I Believe in Truly"):

Firmly I believe and truly
God is Three and God is One;
and I next acknowledge duly
manhood taken by the Son.

And I trust and hope most fully
in that manhood crucified;
and each thought and deed unruly
do to death, as he has died.

Simply to his grace and wholly
light and life and strength belong,
and I love supremely, solely,
him the holy, him the strong.

And I hold in veneration,
for the love of him alone,
Holy Church as his creation,
and her teachings as his own.


Adoration ay be given,
with and through the angelic host,
to the God of earth and heaven,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


Mark and I listened to this CD often: I think it is out of print, so to speak: Heart Speaks to Heart, A spiritual day with Blessed John Henry Newman in words and music! From Matins to Compline, featuring hymns and poems by Newman and narration by Archbishop Bernard Longley of the Birmingham Diocese, it's a beautiful compilation! (I will listen to it today--and one does have to listen because Archbishop Longley is soft spoken!)

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Holyrood Abbey, One More Time


After describing the history of Holyrood Abbey yesterday, I added the story of how Felix Mendelssohn was inspired to write the Scottish Symphony after visiting the ruins:
Felix Mendelssohn was inspired by his visit to Holyrood Abbey's ruins to compose his third symphony, The Scottish Symphony. This website transcribes his impressions of the ruins:
It is clear from Mendelssohn’s letters even before their tour that he intended to write a symphony based on his Scottish experiences and the opening of the work came to him on the evening of 31st July 1829 when "In the evening twilight we went today to the palace where Queen Mary lived and loved; a little room is shown there with a winding staircase leading up to the door; up this way they came and found Rizzio in that little room, pulled him out, and three rooms off there is a dark corner, where they murdered him. The chapel close to it is now roofless; grass and ivy grow there, and at that broken altar Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland. Everything around is broken and mouldering, and the bright sky shines in. I believe I found today in that old chapel the beginning of my Scottish Symphony."
When I listen to the symphony thinking of Mary, Queen of Scots' life and adventures, joys and sorrows, controversies and sad end, it creates the most dramatic images in my mind. The same would apply to Margaret Tudor, married, widowed, remarried, etc!
The ruins of Holyrood Abbey also inspired the artist Louis Daguerre to create both a painting and diorama. The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool describes these works:

Daguerre's fascination with dioramas stemmed from his interest in finding appropriate ways of capturing light and atmospheric effects in painting, as well as making perspective an expressive and dramatic medium. The increasing taste for travelling and particularly visiting ruins and picturesque sites in the 18th century made Daguerre's dioramas particularly popular among the people of his time. For those who did not have the chance to travel, dioramas offered an experience close to a real visit, while for the privileged it helped revive their memories and emotions.

'The Ruins of Holyrood Chapel' relates to the painting with the same title, which Daguerre exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1824. The only difference between the two was that the Paris Salon work included the figure of a comtess (sic), who was visiting the tomb of her former friend, the Duchesse de Grammont. She died in exile at Holyrood in 1803 and was buried in the royal vault in the south-east corner of Holyrood Chapel. Daguerre exhibited dioramas of the same subject in Paris from 1823 until 1824, in London from March 1825 and in Liverpool from 1825 until 1827. Between 1822 and 1839 Daguerre exhibited twenty dioramas in Paris and three of the scenes exhibited were related to Edinburgh ('Interior of Holyrood Chapel', Roslyn Chapel near Edinburgh and 'Edinburgh during the Fire of 15 November 1824'). There is no record of Daguerre's visit to the Chapel although the view by moonlight of the Holyrood Chapel was famous.

The diorama of this scene was exhibited in Regent's Park, London, in 1825 and inspired the poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon to compose this poem, "Holyrood":

The moonlight fell like pity o'er the walls
And broken arches, which the conqueror, Time
Had rode unto destruction; the grey moss,
A silver cloak, hung lightly o'er the ruins;
And nothing came upon the soul but soft,
Sad images. And this was once a palace,
Where the rich viol answered to the lute,
And maidens flung the flowers from their hair
Till the halls swam with perfume: here the dance
Kept time with light harps, and yet lighter feet;
And here the beautiful Mary kept her court,
Where sighs and smiles made her regality,
And dreamed not of the long and many years
When the heart was to waste itself away
In hope, whose anxiousness was as a curse:
Here, royal in her beauty and her power,
The prison and the scaffold, could they be
But things whose very name was not for her!
And this, now fallen sanctuary, how oft
Have hymns and incense made it holiness;
How oft, perhaps, at the low midnight hour,
lts once fair mistress may have stolen to pour
At its pure altar, thoughts which have no vent,
But deep and silent prayer; when the heart finds

That it may not suffice unto itself,
But seeks communion with that other state,
Whose mystery to it is as a shroud
In which it may conceal its strife of thought,
And find repose.......
....But it is utterly changed:
No incense rises, save some chance wild-flower
Breathes grateful to the air; no hymn is heard,
No sound, but the bat's melancholy wings;
And all is desolate, and solitude.
And thus it is with links of destiny:
Clay fastens on with gold—and none may tell
What the chain's next unravelling will be
Alas, the mockeries in which fate delights!
Alas, for time!—still more, alas, for change!

So now you can read the poem, look at the painting, and listen to the Scottish Symphony, and imagine "beautiful Mary" keeping her court, dancing and singing, praying in the chapel, all unaware of her fate.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Marriage of Margaret Tudor and James IV of Scotland

Image Credit: the Ruins of the Holyrood Abbey Church 
(CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

On August 8, 1503, Margaret Tudor, Henry VII's eldest child, and King James IV of Scotland were married in Holyrood Abbey's church. History Today describes the preparations and the wedding:

Margaret’s train on the journey north by York, Durham, Newcastle and Berwick was headed by the Earl of Surrey, with his Countess as the princess’s chaperone. John Young, Somerset Herald, was sent along to make an official record. The ladies rode on palfreys or were drawn on litters, escorted by gentlemen, squires and pages, with trumpeters, drummers and minstrels. The party crossed the border into Scotland on August 1st, 1503, to be greeted by the Archbishop of Glasgow and a thousand Scottish lords and gentlemen ‘in rich jewels and massy chains’. At Dalkeith Castle on August 3rd, King James himself, in a crimson velvet jacket, rode in with a train of horsemen. Margaret curtsied deeply and he bowed low and they kissed in greeting. They talked together privately and sat together at supper and afterwards he played to her on the clavichord and the lute. Two nights later she played for him.

On Monday August 7th, they made a state entry into Edinburgh, both of them in cloth of gold trimmed with black velvet or black fur. To tremendous cheers and the clangour of bells they rode in on one horse, with Margaret riding pillion behind the King, escorted by two hundred knights and pausing to witness numerous pageants. The union of the thistle and the rose was celebrated next morning in the chapel of Holyrood-house. Margaret wore a gown trimmed in crimson and the Countess of Surrey bore her train, while James was magnificent in white damask with crimson satin sleeves. After the marriage ceremony conducted by the archbishops of Glasgow and York there was a nuptial mass and a short coronation ritual, with the King’s arm round his new queen’s waist much of the time. There followed a splendid feast of fifty or sixty dishes including roast crane and roast swan, and then dancing and supper until finally at last ‘the King had the Queen apart and they went together’. Edinburgh blazed with bonfires that night.


More about Margaret Tudor, who would bear James IV six children and serve as Regent for their only surviving child named James (the second son born given that name), after the king was killed at the battle of Flodden Field in 1513, here.

Holyrood Abbey has a fascinating history. It was an abbey of Augustinian Canons founded by King David I in the twelfth century. During the Scottish Reformation, a mob destroyed the altars and plundered the church and the abbey was suppressed. The abbey was restored for the coronation of Charles I in Scotland, rebuilt further during the reign of Charles II, and as the Catholic Encyclopedia explains, it was truly a royal abbey and church and is much associated with Mary, Queen of Scots:

From the middle of the fifteenth century the abbey was the usual residence of the Scottish kings, and James V spent considerable sums on its repair and enlargement. In 1547 the conventual buildings, as well as the choir, lady chapel, and transepts of the church were destroyed by the commissioners of the English Protector Somerset, and twenty years later Knox's"rascal multitude" sacked the interior of the church. Queen Mary's second and third marriages took place at Holyrood, as well as other tragic events of her reign. From the Reformation to the Restoration little was done to Holyrood, but about 1670 the adjoining palace was practically rebuilt by Charles II. His Catholic successor, James II, ordered the nave of the church to be restored for Catholic worship, and as a chapel for the Knights of the Thistle; but he had to abandon his kingdom a year later. The nave roof was vaulted in stone in 1758, but fell in shortly afterwards, and all that remains of the once famous abbey church is now the ruined and roofless nave, of the purest Early English architecture, with some remains of the earlier Norman work.

Felix Mendelssohn was inspired by his visit to Holyrood Abbey's ruins to compose his third symphony, The Scottish Symphony. This website transcribes his impressions of the ruins:

It is clear from Mendelssohn’s letters even before their tour that he intended to write a symphony based on his Scottish experiences and the opening of the work came to him on the evening of 31st July 1829 when "In the evening twilight we went today to the palace where Queen Mary lived and loved; a little room is shown there with a winding staircase leading up to the door; up this way they came and found Rizzio in that little room, pulled him out, and three rooms off there is a dark corner, where they murdered him. The chapel close to it is now roofless; grass and ivy grow there, and at that broken altar Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland. Everything around is broken and mouldering, and the bright sky shines in. I believe I found today in that old chapel the beginning of my Scottish Symphony."

When I listen to the symphony thinking of Mary, Queen of Scots' life and adventures, joys and sorrows, controversies and sad end, it creates the most dramatic images in my mind. The same would apply to Margaret Tudor, married, widowed, remarried, etc!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Saint Cajetan and the Sack of Rome

Today is the feast of Saint Cajetan, a saint of the Catholic Reformation and the co-founder of the Theatines. He was in Rome when the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V's troops sacked the city. As Father Alban Butler explains:

The army of the Emperor Charles V., which was commanded by the constable Bourbon, who had deserted from the French king to the emperor, marched from the Milanese to Rome, and took that city by assault on the 6th of May, 1527. This Duke of Bourbon, after having committed horrible outrages, was killed by a musket shot in mounting the wall; but Philibert of Challons, prince of Orange, took upon him the command of the army, which was composed in a great measure of Lutherans, and other enemies of the see of Rome. The pope and cardinals retired into the castle of St. Angelo; but the German army plundered the city, and were guilty of greater cruelties and excesses than had been committed by the Goths a thousand years before. The house of the Theatins (sic) was rifled, and almost demolished; and a soldier, who had known St. Cajetan at Vicenza before he renounced the world, falsely imagining he was then rich, gave an information to his officer against him to that effect; whereupon he was barbarously scourged and tortured to extort from him a treasure which he had not. Being at length discharged, though in a weak and maimed condition, he and his companions left Rome, with nothing but their breviaries under their arms, and with clothes barely to cover themselves. They repaired to Venice, where they were kindly received, and settled in the convent of St. Nicholas of Tolentino.

Saint Cajetan and the Theatines were dedicated to renewal and reform in the Catholic Church after the divisions of the Protestant Reformation, according to this biography from ETWN:

When his dream was about to be forged of bringing to ecclesial reform the figure of the cleric regular, knowing the important role of the priest, he wrote to his family: “For some time Christ has been calling me and inviting me, because of his kindness, to take part in his kingdom. And he makes me see more clearly every day that we cannot serve two masters, the world and Christ. I see Christ poor, and myself rich, He is mocked and I am a guest of honor, He is suffering, and I am delighting. I am dying to take a step towards meeting Him.” An insistent prayer arose from the depth of his being: that God would grant him the grace of finding three or four persons prepared to live the Gospel’s radicalism to introduce the reform the Church needed at that time. And he received the answer in the persons of Caraffa (later Pope Paul IV), Boniface of Colle and Paul Consiglieri. They were the first members of his foundation born with the evangelical spirit: “seek first of all the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all the rest will be given to you in great measure.” Approved by Clement VII in 1524, it had in Caraffa its first superior general.

After what he had endured in Rome during its Sack, he became superior general of the Theatines:

They were sent to Venice. In 1530 Cajetan was elected superior general, until three year later when Caraffa was again his superior and sent him to Verona, where he suffered the opposition of a great part of the clergy and the faithful. From there he went to Naples in 1533 and founded another House. His charity, fervor and apostolic ardor, sealed by his devotion to Mary worked countless conversions. He founded the Hills of Piety to help the poor, created hospices and opened hospitals. He was given the grace of working miracles. He died at Naples on August 7, 1547 and that same day the war ceased, which had been unleashed in the city. Urban VIII beatified him on October 8, 1629. Clement X canonized him on April 12, 1671.

The Theatines' church in Rome was Sant'Andrea della Valle, in which Puccini set the first act of Tosca, including the Te Deum to celebrate the supposed victory of Napoleon at Marengo. Scarpia says "Tosca, mi fai dimenticare Iddio!..." ("Tosca, you make me forget God!") before kneeling and praising God--Saint Cajetan would not have been happy to hear that!

Thomas Goldwell, the Bishop of Asaph, became a Theatine while in exile from England. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, he was:

the last survivor of the ancient hierarchy of England; b. probably at the family manor of Goldwell, in the parish of Great Chart, near Ashford, Kent, between 1501 and 1515; d. in Rome, 3 April, 1585. He was a member of a Kentish family of ancient lineage, long seated at Goldwell; and was educated at All Souls College, Oxford, where he graduated M. A. in 1531, and B. D. in 1534. While at Oxford he attained more eminence in mathematics, astronomy, and kindred sciences, than in divinity or the humanities, a point worth remembering in view of his future career. He stood out firmly against the innovations in religion brought about by Henry VIII. At an early date he became intimate with Reginald, afterwards Cardinal, Pole, a friendship which proved to be a long lasting one, and which had considerable influence on Goldwell's subsequent career. Soon after 1535, when the king had begun his drastic measures of ecclesiastical spoliation, Goldwell became Pole's chaplain and joined him in exile, being included in the same Act of Attainder "for casting off his duty to the King, and submitting to the Bishop of Rome". He reached Rome in 1538, and shortly afterwards he was appointed camerarius of the English Hospital of the Holy Trinity. In 1547 he became a novice in the Theatine House of St. Paul, at Naples. On the death of Paul III, Pole, now a cardinal, asked and obtained permission for Goldwell to accompany him to Rome, and thus he was present at the long conclave of 1549-50 in the capacity of Pole's personal attendant. After the election of Julius III, Goldwell returned to Naples, and made his profession as a Theatine.

Goldwell returned to England when Reginald Cardinal Pole was sent as Papal Legate. He was with Pole when he died and then left England again when Elizabeth I succeeded. Goldwell attended the last session of the Council of Trent.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Son Rise Morning Show: Newman and Friendship

As promised, I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show bright and early this morning at 6:50 a.m. Central Time/7:50 a.m. Eastern to talk about "Newman and Friendship" in our Santo Subito! Series.

As an example of how much Blessed John Henry Newman valued friendship, read this homily preached at the funeral of his good friend, James Hope-Scott on May 5, 1873 in London. First, Newman describes his own grief in losing Hope-Scott:

I only know what he was to me. I only know what his loss is to me. I only know that he is one of those whose departure hence has made the heavens dark to me. But I have never lived with him, or travelled with him; I have seen him from time to time; I have visited him; I have corresponded with him; I have had mutual confidences with him. Our lines of duty have lain in very different directions. I have known him as a friend knows friend in the tumult and the hurry of life. I have known him well enough to know how much more there was to know in him; and to look forward, alas! in vain, to a time when, in the evening and towards the close of life, I might know him more. I have known him enough to love him very much, and to sorrow very much, that here I shall not see him again. But then I reflect, if I, who do not know him as he might be known, suffer as I do, what must be their suffering who knew him so well?

Newman then gives a history of their friendship:

I knew him first, I suppose, in 1837 or 1838, thirty-five or six years ago, a few years after he had become Fellow of Merton College. He expressed a wish to know me. How our friendship grew I cannot tell; I must soon have been intimate with him, from the recollection I have of letters which passed between us; and by 1841 I had recourse to him, as a sort of natural adviser, when I was in difficulty. From that time I ever had recourse to him, when I needed advice, down to his last illness. On my first intimacy with him he had not reached the age of thirty. I was many years older; yet he had that about him, even when a young man, which invited and inspired confidence. It was difficult to resist his very presence. True, indeed, I can fancy those who saw him but once and at a distance, surprised and perplexed by that lofty fastidiousness and keen wit which were natural to him; but such a misapprehension of him would vanish forthwith when they drew near to him, and had actual trial of him; especially, as I have said, when they had to consult him, and had experience of the simplicity, seriousness, and (I can use no other word) the sweetness of his manner, as he threw himself at once into their ideas and feelings, listened patiently to them, and spoke out the clear judgment which he formed of the matters which they had put before him.

Newman then describes how Hope-Scott always displayed leadership and sympathy among his friends:

This is the first and the broad view I am led to take of him. He was, emphatically, a friend in need. And this same considerateness and sympathy with which he met those who asked the benefit of his opinion in matters of importance was, I believe, his characteristic in many other ways in his intercourse with those towards whom he stood in various relations. He was always prompt, clear, decided, and disinterested. He entered into their pursuits, though dissimilar to his own; he took an interest in their objects; he adapted himself to their dispositions and tastes; he brought a strong and calm good sense to bear upon their present or their future; he aided and furthered them in their doings by his cooperation. Thus he drew men around him . . .

One of the reasons that Newman valued friendship is that he believed that personal influence was essential in spreading the Good News, in calling others to Jesus, and persuading, where logic and arguments could not, others to accept the Truth. As he said in one of his Oxford sermons, "Personal Influence, the Means of Propagating the Truth":

we shall find it difficult to estimate the moral power which a single individual, trained to practise what he teaches, may acquire in his own circle, in the course of years. While the Scriptures are thrown upon the world, as if the common property of any who choose to appropriate them, he is, in fact, the legitimate interpreter of them, and none other; the Inspired Word being but a dead letter (ordinarily considered), except as transmitted from one mind to another. While he is unknown to the world, yet, within the range of those who see him, he will become the object of feelings different in kind from those which mere intellectual excellence excites. The men commonly held in popular estimation are greatest at a distance; they become small as they are approached; but the attraction, exerted by unconscious holiness, is of an urgent and irresistible nature; it persuades the weak, the timid, the wavering, and the inquiring; it draws forth the affection and loyalty of all who are in a measure like-minded; and over the thoughtless or perverse multitude it exercises a sovereign compulsory sway, bidding them fear and keep silence, on the ground of its own right divine to rule them,—its hereditary claim on their obedience, though they understand not the principles or counsels of that spirit, which is "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." . . .

Will it be said, This is a fancy, which no experience confirms? First, no irreligious man can know any thing concerning the hidden saints. Next, no one, religious or not, can detect them without attentive study of them. But, after all, say they are few, such high Christians; and what follows? They are enough to carry on God's noiseless work. The Apostles were such men; others might be named, in their several generations, as successors to their holiness. These communicate their light to a number of lesser luminaries, by whom, in its turn, it is distributed through the world; the first sources of illumination being all the while unseen, even by the majority of sincere Christians,—unseen as is that Supreme Author of Light and Truth, from whom all good primarily proceeds. A few highly-endowed men will rescue the world for centuries to come. Before now even one man [St. Athanasius of Alexandria] has impressed an image on the Church, which, through God's mercy, shall not be effaced while time lasts. Such men, like the Prophet, are placed upon their watch-tower, and light their beacons on the heights. Each receives and transmits the sacred flame, trimming it in rivalry of his predecessor, and fully purposed to send it on as bright as it has reached him; and thus the self-same fire, once kindled on Moriah, though seeming at intervals to fail, has at length reached us in safety, and will in like manner, as we trust, be carried forward even to the end.

As Newman wrote in his meditation on "Jesus, the light of the soul":

Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as you shine: so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from you. None of it will be mine. No merit to me. It will be you who shines through me upon others. O let me thus praise you, in the way which you do love best, by shining on all those around me. Give light to them as well as to me; light them with me, through me. Teach me to show forth your praise, your truth, your will. Make me preach you without preaching-not by words, but by my example and by the catching force, the sympathetic influence, of what I do - by my visible resemblance to your saints, and the evident fullness of the love which my heart bears to you.