Saturday, April 22, 2017

Meanwhile, in Scotland

According to a story in The Catholic Herald, more Catholics attend Sunday services (Mass) than Protestants (the Kirk):

The Catholic Church is likely to become the largest churchgoing denomination in Scotland.

Figures from the 2016 Scottish Church Census reveal that the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland both make up 35 per cent of the churchgoing population, but that the Catholic proportion is expanding.

The report found 135,600 weekly Catholic Mass attenders compared to 136,910 attending Church of Scotland services. The figures also showed a total of 389,510 weekly attenders of churches of any denomination.

Peter Brierley, who conducted the study, told the Scottish Catholic Observer the Catholic Church would have the most Sunday churchgoers if trends continued.

The Scottish Catholic Observer provides more detail:

Fr Thomas Boyle, the Catholic Church’s representative on the panel that commissioned the report, said it reflected the fact that ‘Scotland is a very different place from 50 or even 30 years ago.’

“On a simplistic level there are many more different things which people can do on a Sunday than they could decades ago and that has had an effect,” he said. “The traditional Scottish Calvinistic Sabbath observance just doesn’t exist anymore. Social changes mean that there isn’t the same proportion of the Scottish population which professes the Christian faith or belongs to a Church.”

He said that the ‘continuing hostility of the liberal consensus to religious belief and organised religion has its effects, particularly on younger generations,’ but that ‘from a Catholic perspective the residual loyalty of many means that they continue to have their children Baptised and send them to Catholic schools.’

“This is best exemplified in the 2011 census where the figure for people self-identifying as Catholic was recorded as 100,000 higher than what the Church had registered,” he said. “This could be seen as tribal, but equally it can be seen as people who are religious or spiritual but simply don’t attend Church. Non-attendance at Chur
ch doesn’t mean that people don’t pray or live a Christian life with the values that inspire them.”

One reason both papers note for the Sunday Mass attendance is the influx of Polish Catholics, who are faithful to that obligation and opportunity.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Carthusian Gardens: Cells and Horticulture

Via Tea at Trianon: English Heritage describes how the Carthusians at Mount Grace Priory had gardens outside their cells:

The garden of the Mount Grace Priory cell is English Heritage’s best preserved example of monastic horticulture. It was replanted for the first time in 1994, following archaeological excavation of the cells. The excavations showed that the lay-out and use of each garden varied according to the inclination and interest of the individual monk.

The pattern of paths and beds in the garden was based on archaeological evidence, but it was uncertain which plants were used or how they may have been arranged in the beds. None of the recent planting was intended to be a restoration or reconstruction of the original garden. It instead was a demonstration of the kinds of plants that were grown in gardens at the time the monastery flourished.

Equipment, too, has changed how we tend to our gardens today. Monk’s tools would have been simple wooden and metal ards (like a small hand pulled plough) or mattocks rather than the mechanised marvels of today’s horticulture. Rather than a tractor, power for larger plots would have been provided by oxen.

Cell gardens as at Mount Grace Priory provided monks with the opportunity for manual labour within the confines of their own cell, which was a key part of the Carthusian ideal. As a hortus conclusus (enclosed garden) they also had biblical associations including the garden of the ‘Song of Solomon’, and alluded to the ‘original’ Garden of Eden, or to ‘Paradise’ itself. These spaces were not primarily for food production but had multiple functions of spirituality, health and utility. The mass of food for the monks came from much larger kitchen gardens, plots and farms elsewhere.

These cell gardens were strongly geometric in form, often compartmentalised (defining spaces for medicinal or poisonous species) and in the 15th century started to become decorative. This included a mix of medicinal and aromatic herbs, and flowering plants to lift the mind and spirit and to aid contemplation.

English Heritage also describes how Mount Grace was a thriving community as late as 1523, with a waiting list of men wanting to become Carthusians. The last prior, John Wilson, tried to save the house:

Though the Carthusians featured prominently in the early opposition to Henry VIII’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon and the consequent break with Rome, Mount Grace remained relatively untroubled during the first years of the Reformation.

The monks refused to become involved with the Pilgrimage of Grace, the popular rising that broke out in Yorkshire in the autumn of 1536 in reaction to the suppression of the lesser monasteries.

When Mount Grace was eventually suppressed in December 1539 the community were given generous pensions. The prior was granted the hermitage and chapel of The Mount in nearby Osmotherley, which belonged to the priory.[11] He, with one of his monks and two lay brothers, was to join the charterhouse of Sheen when it was refounded under Mary I in 1555.[12]

The last prior of Sheen Priory in Richmond, named the House of Jesus of Bethlehem, was Maurice Chauncey. He was:

one of the few religious of the London charterhouse who purchased their lives of Henry VIII. by compliance with his wishes, and on its dissolution obtained a pension of £5. In his future penitence he deeply bewailed that he had not shared the crown of martyrdom, and spoke of himself as 'the spotted and diseased sheep of the flock.' The Carthusians, who were for a short time gathered together under Prior Maurice at Sheen during Mary's reign, were the scattered remnant of the various English charterhouses. Several died during their brief sojourn at the restored house, and the rest followed their superior into exile on Elizabeth's accession. Prior Maurice died at Paris on 12 July 1581; two years later his history of the sufferings of the Carthusians under Henry VIII. was printed, of which Mr. Froude made so much use in his graphic and sympathetic account of their treatment. (fn. 34)

In exile, the remaining Carthusians gathering in Belgium under Chauncey's leadership in the Sheen Anglorum Charterhouse.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Why the Anglican Ordinariates Have Survived

For the National Catholic Register, Peter Jesserer Smith writes:

Benedict XVI gave a tremendous gift to the English-speaking world in 2009, when he finally realized a dream centuries in the making, and established a permanent canonical home for groups from the Anglican tradition seeking to enter the Catholic Church with the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Today, the Catholic Church has three Personal Ordinariates — informally known as the “Anglican Ordinariates” — that preserve the Anglican patrimony in their Catholic parishes, communities, and religious orders. These Personal Ordinariates have the only English form of the Roman Missal, promulgated by Pope Francis, called Divine Worship — an actual English form, not an English translation of the Latin Mass — written in traditional, poetic “Prayer Book” English. Each Personal Ordinariate covers a region of the globe (Oceania, the United Kingdom, and North America) and is headed by a bishop or ordinary who falls directly under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

But how did the Vatican determine the solution for corporate unification with the Catholic Church had to be this structure called a “Personal Ordinariate?”

The story behind that answer can be found in an illuminating theological address on the CDF by Bishop Steven Lopes, who was tapped by Pope Francis to lead the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (covering the U.S. and Canada) in 2016.

Bishop Lopes delivered his March 28 address “Unity of Faith in a Diversity of Expression: The Work of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” to a gathering of students and professors of the Institut für Historische Theologie, Liturgiewissenschaft und Sakramententheologie at the University of Vienna. The bishop is not a convert from Anglicanism, but is a lifelong Catholic whose work with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith over 10 years immersed him in the Anglican patrimony and the project of corporate reunification between groups of Anglicans and the Catholic Church.

Earlier attempts at this kind of structure within the Church had failed because responsibility for them was placed with the local dioceses. The structures were soon submerged in the local dioceses for several reasons. With the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith coordinating Ordinariate efforts, overseeing the implementation of the Divine Worship, and guaranteeing Ordinariate faithfulness to the fullness of Catholic teaching, the Ordinariates started off at least with a stable foundation.

The text of Bishop Steven Lopes's presentation is here. Note that he was once an official at the CDF. Just another reason to be grateful to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter! Happy Birthday to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger!

Tracey Rowland writes for The Catholic Herald:

Benedict XVI will celebrate his 90th birthday on Easter Sunday. Cardinal Joachim Meisner famously described him as a man who is as intelligent as 12 professors and as pious as a child making his First Communion.

If one inserts the words “Joseph Ratzinger” into the Google Scholar search engine, which records academic publications, one obtains some 24,600 hits in four seconds. The words “Benedict XVI” bring up even more results – 66,100. As a comparison, Walter Kasper scores a mere 6,930 and Hans Küng 6,270. Hans Urs von Balthasar and Henri de Lubac score 16,900 and 13,200 hits respectively.

The only theologian of the last century I could find who trumps the 66,100 figure is Karl Barth, who has been the subject of a massive 127,000 academic articles. The Catholic theologian who came closest to Ratzinger was Karl Rahner, weighing in at 41,500 hits.

As Bavaria’s most famous son since Ludwig II enters his 10th decade of life, it is worth considering what the impact of all these publications might be in the brave new world of 21st-century Catholicism. My thought is that the publications of Ratzinger will form a treasury to be mined by future generations trying to piece together elements of a fragmented Christian culture. . . .

The discovery of Ratzinger by future generations may well lead them on to the literary and philosophical treasures of his Polish friend Karol Wojtyła and the theology of his Swiss friend von Balthasar, his French friend de Lubac, his Italian friend Giussani and an English author called John Henry Newman. They may even find Tolkien and a writer from the Orkneys called Mackay Brown, the Norwegian Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset and an Etonian called George from the noble house of Spencer who thought there needed to be a prayer crusade for the restoration of the old faith in Britain (he is known today as Ignatius Spencer).

Through these authors, a generation tired of the banality of cheap intimacy and nominalism gone mad may rediscover the buried capital of a civilisation built on the belief that the Incarnation really did happen. They may also gradually learn to distinguish a secularised Christianity that hooked itself up to whatever zeitgeist wafted along from the real mysteries celebrated in something called the old Christian calendar.

Please read the rest (the middle!) there. One reason future generations will be able to rediscover Pope Benedict XVI's great legacy will be Rowland's book!

From Pope Benedict XVI's Easter homily in 2012:

At Easter, on the morning of the first day of the week, God said once again: “Let there be light”. The night on the Mount of Olives, the solar eclipse of Jesus’ passion and death, the night of the grave had all passed. Now it is the first day once again – creation is beginning anew. “Let there be light”, says God, “and there was light”: Jesus rises from the grave. Life is stronger than death. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies. The darkness of the previous days is driven away the moment Jesus rises from the grave and himself becomes God’s pure light. But this applies not only to him, not only to the darkness of those days. With the resurrection of Jesus, light itself is created anew. He draws all of us after him into the new light of the resurrection and he conquers all darkness. He is God’s new day, new for all of us.

But how is this to come about? How does all this affect us so that instead of remaining word it becomes a reality that draws us in? Through the sacrament of baptism and the profession of faith, the Lord has built a bridge across to us, through which the new day reaches us. The Lord says to the newly-baptized: Fiat lux – let there be light. God’s new day – the day of indestructible life, comes also to us. Christ takes you by the hand. From now on you are held by him and walk with him into the light, into real life. For this reason the early Church called baptism photismos – illumination.

Why was this? The darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what is good and what is evil. The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general. If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other “lights”, that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk. Today we can illuminate our cities so brightly that the stars of the sky are no longer visible. Is this not an image of the problems caused by our version of enlightenment? With regard to material things, our knowledge and our technical accomplishments are legion, but what reaches beyond, the things of God and the question of good, we can no longer identify. Faith, then, which reveals God’s light to us, is the true enlightenment, enabling God’s light to break into our world, opening our eyes to the true light.

Dear friends, as I conclude, I would like to add one more thought about light and illumination. On Easter night, the night of the new creation, the Church presents the mystery of light using a unique and very humble symbol: the Paschal candle. This is a light that lives from sacrifice. The candle shines inasmuch as it is burnt up. It gives light, inasmuch as it gives itself. Thus the Church presents most beautifully the paschal mystery of Christ, who gives himself and so bestows the great light. Secondly, we should remember that the light of the candle is a fire. Fire is the power that shapes the world, the force of transformation. And fire gives warmth. Here too the mystery of Christ is made newly visible. Christ, the light, is fire, flame, burning up evil and so reshaping both the world and ourselves. “Whoever is close to me is close to the fire,” as Jesus is reported by Origen to have said. And this fire is both heat and light: not a cold light, but one through which God’s warmth and goodness reach down to us.

The great hymn of the Exsultet, which the deacon sings at the beginning of the Easter liturgy, points us quite gently towards a further aspect. It reminds us that this object, the candle, has its origin in the work of bees. So the whole of creation plays its part. In the candle, creation becomes a bearer of light. But in the mind of the Fathers, the candle also in some sense contains a silent reference to the Church,. The cooperation of the living community of believers in the Church in some way resembles the activity of bees. It builds up the community of light. So the candle serves as a summons to us to become involved in the community of the Church, whose raison d’être is to let the light of Christ shine upon the world.

Let us pray to the Lord at this time that he may grant us to experience the joy of his light; let us pray that we ourselves may become bearers of his light, and that through the Church, Christ’s radiant face may enter our world (cf. LG 1). Amen.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Silence of Holy Saturday

The Tabernacle is empty; the Altar is bare; the Sanctuary Light is out: Holy Saturday. At Blessed Sacrament, where my husband took this picture several years ago, the Adoration Chapel is closed. The pre-sanctified hosts left from Good Friday's communion services are hidden away.

Of course, Jesus reigns in Heaven today as He did yesterday, Good Friday and He will tomorrow, Easter Sunday, and every day before and after, to the ages of ages. But today we pause to mourn for the suffering and death of Our Savior.

I watched some of the EWTN Family Celebrations last weekend. During his talk Father Larry Richards said something like, "Remember when the Romans martyred the Christians in the Coliseum?" Of course I can't remember it as though I directly experienced it; none of us can. But through the Judeo-Christian way of remembering, I can remember it in a significant way. I don't just remember it as a long-ago event; I remember it as something that echoes down the ages today. That's why history fascinates me so much.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger meditated on the silence of Holy Saturday, offering these reflections on the death of God and the pause of this day:

The terrible mystery of Holy Saturday, its abyss of silence, has thus acquired a crushing reality in these days of ours. For, this is Holy Saturday: the day of God’s concealment, the day of that unprecedented paradox we express in the Creed with the words: “Descended into hell”, descended into the mystery of death. On Good Friday we still had the crucified man to look at. Holy Saturday is empty, the heavy stone of the new tomb is covering the dead man, it’s all over, the faith seems to have been definitively unmasked as fantasy. No God saved this Jesus who posed as his Son. There is no further need for concern: the wary who were somewhat hesitant, who wondered if things could have been different, were right after all. Holy Saturday: the day God was buried; is not this the day we are living now, and formidably so? Did not our century mark the start of one long Holy Saturday, the day God was absent, when even the hearts of the disciples were plunged into an icy chasm that grows wider and wider, and thus, filled with shame and anguish, they set out to go home, dark-spirited and annihilated in their desperation they head for Emmaus, without realizing that he whom they believed to be dead is in their midst? God is dead and we killed him: are we really aware that this phrase is taken almost literally from Christian tradition and that often in our viae crucis we have made something similar resound without realizing the tremendous gravity of what we said? We killed him, by enclosing him in the stale shell of routine thinking, by exiling him in a form of pity with no content of reality, lost in the gyre of devotional phrases, or of archaeological treasuries; we killed him through the ambiguity of our lives which also laid a veil of darkness over him: in fact, what else would have been able to make God more problematical in this world than the problematical nature of the faith and of the love of his faithful? 

The divine darkness of this day, of this century which is increasingly becoming one long Holy Saturday, is speaking to our conscience. It is one of our concerns. But in spite of it all, it holds something of comfort for us. The death of God in Jesus Christ is at the same time the expression of his radical solidarity with us. The most obscure mystery of the faith is at the same time the clearest sign of a hope without end. And what is more: only through the failure of Holy Friday, only through the silence of death of Holy Saturday, were the disciples able to be led to an understanding of all that Jesus truly was and all that his message truly meant. God had to die for them so that he could truly live in them. The image they had formed of God, within which they had tried to hold him down, had to be destroyed so that through the rubble of the ruined house they might see the sky, him himself who remains, always, the infinitely greater. We need the silence of God to experience again the abyss of his greatness and the chasm of our nothingness which would grow wider and wider without him. 

But all the glory and joy will come back tonight with the Easter Vigil. In the meantime, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence!

Deo Gratias!

Friday, April 14, 2017

All Together Now: Holy Week In East and West

All Christians--East and West--are celebrating Holy Week and Easter at the same time this year! There are some differences, of course, as this Antiochian Orthodox website explains, including exactly when Lent ends:

Great Lent and Holy Week are two separate fasts, and two separate celebrations. Great Lent ends on Friday of the fifth week (the day before Lazarus Saturday). Holy Week begins immediately thereafter. Let's explore the meaning of each of the solemn days of Passion Week.

Lazarus Saturday: Lazarus Saturday is the day which begins Holy Week. It commemorates the raising of our Lord's friend Lazarus, who had been in the tomb four days. This act confirmed the universal resurrection from the dead that all of us will experience at our Lord's Second Coming. This miracle led many to faith, but it also led to the chief priest's and Pharisees' decision to kill Jesus (John 11:47-57).

Palm Sunday (The Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem): Our Lord enters Jerusalem and is proclaimed king - but in an earthly sense, as many people of His time were seeking a political Messiah. Our Lord is King, of course, but of a different type - the eternal King prophesied by Zechariah the Prophet. We use palms on this day to show that we too accept Jesus as the true King and Messiah of the Jews, Who we are willing to follow - even to the cross.

Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday: The first thing that must be said about these services, and most of the other services of Holy Week, is that they are "sung" in anticipation. Each service is rotated ahead twelve hours. The evening service, therefore, is actually the service of the next morning, while the morning services of Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday are actually the services of the coming evening. . . .

Please read the rest there. Here is the schedule for services at St. George's Orthodox Christian Cathedral this week.

In honor of the occasion, I'm listening to Maximilian Steinberg's Passion Week!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sarum Rite Holy Thursday: The Stripping of the Altars

As this blogger notes, the Sarum Use celebration of Holy Thursday is more solemn than the Latin Rite. As the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite remembers the institution of the sacraments of Holy Communion and Holy Orders, the priest wears white vestments; the Gloria is sung; bells ring, and the Altar is quietly stripped after the Blessed Sacrament has being processed to the Altar of Repose. An air of solemnity sets in with that procession and the chanting of St. Thomas Aquinas's Eucharistic hymn, Pange, lingua and we try to meet Jesus's challenge in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Could you not watch one hour with me?"

The Sarum Use Holy Thursday omits the Gloria, uses Red vestments (as on Palm Sunday and Good Friday), and the Altar is ceremoniously and significantly stripped in preparation for Good Friday, as this post describes.

  • When the Altar is stripped, that symbolizes the stripping of Jesus at Calvary before He is nailed to the cross.
  • When the Altar is washed with wine and water, that symbolizes the blood and water that poured from His wounded side, representing Baptism and Holy Communion.
  • When the Altar is scrubbed with a brush, that symbolizes the scourging at the Pillar. 

More about the Sarum Use here.

A friend of mine posted on his Facebook page that his students were having trouble understanding or relating to Josef Pieper's theories of the relationship between religious ritual and leisure. They are Catholic high school students, but they have been secularized to degree that they don't see the connections between the great public work of the Church and their private lives. Sadly, I think the post-modern Catholic Church liturgy--not because of the Holy Thursday rites at all, which I think are wonderful--has contributed to this problem. The suppression of the prayers of Tenebrae, for example, stripped Holy Week of some of its mystery, not to mention the great cultural riches of musical settings of Jeremiah's Lamentations. Note that many Mainline Protestant churches celebrate Tenebrae, because they recognize the conflict between good and evil during Holy Week, and that we all participate in that conflict and live it everyday. When we remember the Passion and Death of Jesus, we should experience darkness and silence in the liturgy.

Father James V. Schall, SJ, identified the issue in his Foreword to the Ignatius Press edition of Leisure: The Basis of Culture:

When a culture is in the process of denying its own roots, it becomes most important to know what these roots are. We had best know what we reject before we reject it. If we are going to build a chair, the first thing we need to know, above all else, is what a chair is. Otherwise, we can do nothing. We are not a culture that never understood what a human being was in his nature and in his destiny.

Rather we are a culture that, having once known these things, has decided against living them or understanding them. Indeed, we have decided to reject most of them, almost as an act of defiance—as an act of pure humanism—as if what we are is not first given to us. We have let an empty future that we propose to make by our own standards become the ideal over and against a real past that revealed to us what man really was and is: namely, a being open to wonder who did not create himself or the world in which he dwells.

During Holy Week, being "a being open to wonder who did not create himself or the world in which he dwells' also means being a being open to wonder who did not redeem himself and whose suffering and striving only has meaning because of Jesus, who suffered for us, died for us, and rose for us. Something indeed to wonder about through prayer and meditation--which require leisure and time and attention.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pilate's Wife on the Son Rise Morning Show

UPDATE: I did not post this in time for the email distribution, so I've linked the Soundcloud version here, thanks to Anna Mitchell. It may or may not be included in the EWTN national hour on Thursday, April 13. I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show today a little after 6:45 a.m. Central/7:45 a.m. Eastern to talk with Anna Mitchell about my latest blog post for the National Catholic Register: from the Gospel of St. Matthew, we know that Pilate's wife asked him not to get involved in the trial of Jesus. She had a terrible dream and she believes that Jesus is righteous. What did she dream?

Two authors make suggestions in their dramatic and literary works (Dorothy L. Sayers and Gertrude von le Fort), and both of their ideas involve the Creed.

Read more here and listen live here.

In case you missed it, the Register also posted this last week: I wrote it after my husband and I attended Mass in Mountain Home and we saw the statues and crucifixes all veiled.

Blessed Holy Week! God bless you all!

Monday, April 10, 2017

"The Overthrow of Catholic Culture"

Looks intriguing: From Yale this June:

A sumptuously written people’s history and a major retelling and reinterpretation of the story of the English Reformation

Centuries on, what the Reformation was and what it accomplished remain deeply contentious. Peter Marshall’s sweeping new history—the first major overview for general readers in a generation—argues that sixteenth-century England was a society neither desperate for nor allergic to change, but one open to ideas of “reform” in various competing guises. King Henry VIII wanted an orderly, uniform Reformation, but his actions opened a Pandora’s Box from which pluralism and diversity flowed and rooted themselves in English life.

With sensitivity to individual experience as well as masterfully synthesizing historical and institutional developments, Marshall frames the perceptions and actions of people great and small, from monarchs and bishops to ordinary families and ecclesiastics, against a backdrop of profound change that altered the meanings of “religion” itself. This engaging history reveals what was really at stake in the overthrow of Catholic culture and the reshaping of the English Church.

In the meantime, I've received a review copy of Gareth Russell's latest: Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII:

Written with an exciting combination of narrative flair and historical authority, this interpretation of the tragic life of Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, breaks new ground in our understanding of the very young woman who became queen at a time of unprecedented social and political tension and whose terrible errors in judgment quickly led her to the executioner’s block.

On the morning of July 28, 1540, as King Henry’s VIII’s former confidante Thomas Cromwell was being led to his execution, a teenager named Catherine Howard began her reign as queen of a country simmering with rebellion and terrifying uncertainty. Sixteen months later, the king’s fifth wife would follow her cousin Anne Boleyn to the scaffold, having been convicted of adultery and high treason.

The broad outlines of Catherine’s career might be familiar, but her story up until now has been incomplete. Unlike previous accounts of her life, which portray her as a naïve victim of an ambitious family, this compelling and authoritative biography will shed new light on Catherine Howard’s rise and downfall by reexamining her motives and showing her in her context, a milieu that goes beyond her family and the influential men of the court to include the aristocrats and, most critically, the servants who surrounded her and who, in the end, conspired against her. By illuminating Catherine's entwined upstairs/downstairs worlds as well as societal tensions beyond the palace walls, the author offers a fascinating portrayal of court life in the sixteenth century and a fresh analysis of the forces beyond Catherine’s control that led to her execution—from diplomatic pressure and international politics to the long-festering resentments against the queen’s household at court.

Including a forgotten text of Catherine’s confession in her own words, color illustrations, family tree, map, and extensive notes, Young and Damned and Fair changes our understanding of one of history’s most famous women while telling the compelling and very human story of complex individuals attempting to survive in a dangerous age.

I'll be intrigued to follow the author's thesis throughout the book:

Putting her household, and her grandmother's, at the center of a biography of Catherine makes her story a grand tale of the Henrician court at its twilight, a glittering but pernicious sunset, in which the King's unstable behavior and his courtiers' labyrinthine deceptions ensured that fortune's wheel  was moving more rapidly than at any previous point at his vicious but fascinating reign. Accounts of the gorgeous ceremonies held to celebrate the resubmission of the north to royal control [after the Pilgrimage of Grace and the imposition of martial law] saw Catherine, the girl in the silver dress, gleaming, Daisy Buchanan-like, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor--the perfect medieval royal consort. Until, like a bolt out of the heavens, a scandal resulted in an investigation in which nearly everyone close to Catherine was questioned and which ultimately wrapped itself in ever more intricate coils around the young Queen until, to her utter bewilderment, it choked life from her entirely. (from the Introduction, p. xxi)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Holy Week Has Begun

Gregorian chant:

Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit, Rex Christe Redemptor: Cui puerile decus prompsit Hosanna pium.

Israel es tu Rex, Davidis et inclyta proles: Nomine qui in Domini, Rex benedicte, venis.

Plebs Hebraea tibi cum palmis obvia venit: Cum prece, voto, hymnis, adsumus ecce tibi.

Glory, praise and honor to Thee, O King Christ, the Redeemer: to whom children poured their glad and sweet hosanna’s song.

Hail, King of Israel! David’s Son of royal fame! Who comes in the Name of the Lord, O Blessed King.

With palms the Jews went forth to meet Thee. We greet Thee now with prayers and hymns.

And Chesterton's "The Donkey":

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Hosanna to the Son of David! The King of Glory comes!