Monday, April 20, 2015

It's the Third Monday of the Month

That means that I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show to continue our series of discussions of Church History and Apologetics!

Matt Swaim and I will talk about St. Thomas More this morning after the 7:45 a.m. Eastern (6:45 a.m. Central) news headlines from Anna Mitchell. We'll base our discussion on my article from The National Catholic Register (just finished writing another for them which I'll submit for publication soon!)

Please listen live here or on your local EWTN affiliate.

Seven Martyrs on April 20 in Three Years

It's heartbreaking to think that such a beautiful day in the midst of April and springtime would be marred by such violence. In addition to being the dies natalis of seven martyrs, beatified by the Catholic Church, today is also the anniversary of the beginning of Henry VIII's judicial revenge on any and all who opposed his Succession and Supremacy, with the executions of Elizabeth Barton and her confessors and spiritual advisers.

For more information about the Nun of Kent and companions, executed in 1534, click here.

For details about Blesseds James Bell and John Finch, martyred in 1584, click here.

For the stories of Blesseds Richard Sergeant and William Thomson, martyred two years later in 1586, click here.

And finally, for information on Blesseds Thomas Tichhorne, Robert Watkinson, and Francis Page, hung, drawn, and quartered in 1602, click here.

Blessed Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Report on the Catholic Culture Conference

The Catholic Culture Conference was a great success in my view, with excellent presenters, a great venue, and wonderful fellowship during the lunch and breaks. Our local chapter of the American Chesterton Society made some good contacts and we hope to gain new members and/or guests at our monthly meetings.

Dale Ahlquist is a remarkably approachable key note speaker--highly recommended. He mingled with the attendees immediately when we started gathering Friday night. His presentations were filled with Chestertonian wisdom and winsomeness. All the local speakers--I could not bilocate today so only saw four of the six--acquitted themselves well (I can never bilocate of course).

Next year's event is already scheduled and Anthony Esolen will be the keynote speaker. My husband and I took these pictures today:

Also, I feel rather hopeful about attendance at the St. Thomas More presentation I'm making on Saturday, May 2nd, as several attending spoke to me about it and Dusty highlighted it during one of his announcements. One friend is going to drive from Frontenac, Kansas--and then we are going to go to lunch!

As ever with such events, the camaraderie and connections are as wonderful as the learning experience. Not even the fact that the power steering belt on our truck broke on the way home could mar the day!

Judging a Book by Its Cover

New from Gracewing Publishers, this study of Mary I, England's first Queen Regnant, written per the publisher on a popular level:

Although several books on Queen Mary have been published in recent years, they are overly academic in nature. This volume seeks to introduce a more general audience to Mary and her reign as well as offer a pathway to weightier tomes on the subject through three interconnected parts. The first is a historiography which outlines the reasons for the vilification of Mary and her administration, the second is a biography that traces Mary’s life from her birth to her becoming queen and the third is a reappraisal of the key controversies of her reign. It seeks to demonstrate both that Mary’s sobriquet “bloody” is undeserved and that her reign was considerably more successful than its detractors have claimed. This book not only reassesses the state of late Mediaeval and early Tudor religion but examines several aspects of Mary’s reign, including Mary as politician, her personal faith, the role of Cardinal Pole in policy-making and the challenges of the Catholic Restoration.

The book also posits that the critical reaction to Mary’s reign helped to define the nature of the English/British nation-state as well as contribute to Britain’s national “ideology” and self-understanding for five hundred years.

Dr Gregory Slysz has a PH.D in History and Politics from the University of Kent and has taught at both university and high school. Currently Head of History at DLD Independent College in London, he has written and lectured extensively on both current affairs and his research interests in history.

It is certainly a gorgeous cover, with the rich colors and vivid illustration of Mary I's triumphant entry into London after the Duke of Northumberland's attempted coup was defeated.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Walk-Ins Welcome at the Catholic Culture Conference

We enjoyed Dale Ahlquist's first presentation last night--he commented that he looks forward to the day when the Spiritual Life Center unveils the portrait of St. Gilbert K. Chesterton among the Doctors of the Church in the main conference room.

The program begins this morning with Holy Mass at 7:30 a.m. and breakfast before Dale Ahlquist's next talk at 9:00 a.m.: “The Trouble with Catholic Social Teaching”. Then the local speakers take the stage and after lunch and more local speakers, there's a panel discussion.

My husband took this picture of Mr. Ahlquist: he threatened us a few times with a two or three hour lecture, but his hour long talk about G.K. Chesterton, the Dark Ages, King Arthur, and today just flew by. More info here. Eighth Day Books has a table; Dale Ahlquist has a table, and our local American Chesterton Society has a table (there are lots of books available for purchase!).

My Favorite Hymn: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

The New Liturgical Movement features two recordings of this hymn--one in Slavonic "from the Liturgy of St James, [which] is sung at the Great Entrance in place of the Cherubic Hymn, when the Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great is celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday":

Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and in itself consider nothing of earth; for the King of kings and Lord of lords cometh forth to be sacrificed, and given as food to the believers; and there go before Him the choirs of Angels, with every dominion and power, the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, covering their faces, and crying out the hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

And the other is the English version by Gerard Moultrie set to music by Ralph Vaughn Williams to a French carol tune called Picardy (Stephen Cleobury's arrangement):

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

According to this site Gerard Moultrie was born on Sep­tem­ber 16, 1829 at Rug­by Rec­to­ry, Eng­land and died on Ap­ril 25, 1885 in South­leigh, Eng­land:

Moultrie was ed­u­cat­ed at Rug­by and Ex­e­ter Coll­ege, Ox­ford (BA 1851, MA 1856). Tak­ing Ho­ly Or­ders, he be­came Third Mas­ter and Chap­lain in Shrews­bu­ry School; Chap­lain to the Dow­ager Mar­chion­ess of Lon­don­de­rry, 1855-59; cur­ate of Bright­walt­ham, 1859; and of Brin­field, Berkshire, 1860; Chap­lain of the Don­a­tive of Bar­row Gur­ney, Bris­tol, 1864; Vi­car of South­leigh, 1869; and Warden of St. James’ Coll­ege, South­leigh, 1873Moultrie’s works in­clude:
  • The Primer Set Forth at Large for the Use of the Faith­ful, 1864
  • Hymns from the Post Re­form­a­tion Edi­tions, 1864
  • Hymns and Lyrics for the Sea­sons and Saints’ Days of the Church, 1867
  • The Espousals of S. Dor­o­thea and Other Vers­es, 1870
  • The De­vout Com­mun­i­cant, 1867
  • Six Years’ Work in South­leigh, 1875
  • Cantica Sanc­tor­um, or Hymns for the Black Let­ter Saints Days in the Eng­lish and Scot­tish Cal­en­dars, 1850
Looks like he was pretty High Church! 

The arrangement by Gustav Holst is very effective too.

Friday, April 17, 2015

An OFM Martyr in 1643

From the website of the OFM (Order of Friars Minor aka Franciscans) in Great Britain:

Henry Heath was born to Anglican parents in Peterborough. He undertook university studies in Cambridge where he was noted for his piety and perspicacity in religious matters. After gaining his degree he was appointed University Librarian which gave him the opportunity to read Catholic and Protestant authors on the matters of greatest concern to his faith. His reading of the Church Fathers led him to seek reconciliation with the Catholic Church.

He then moved to London and on to Douai in Flanders. There he met the friars of the Province of England who had opened St. Bonaventure College and Friary there in 1618. He asked to join the friars. The founder of the college and Provincial Commissary John Gennings, was understandably wary about accepting him. Henry was a recent convert and the English secret service was apt to use pretend converts to gain information on those training for the mission. Henry convinced Gennings of the authenticity of his faith and so was admitted to the novitiate in 1623 or 1624 at the age of 24. He was given the name Paul of St. Magadelene. His penitential life of fasting and extended contemplation gained him the respect of his confreres and he was known for his devotion to the crucified Jesus and his holy Mother. He was ordained a priest and became in turn Guardian, Novice Master, a lecturer in theology known for his Scotism, then Provincial Commissary of Flanders where he promoted the Recollect reform.

When persecution broke out once more in England, after the defeat of Charles I in the English Civil War, he asked to return home to support his suffering brothers and compatriots. At London he was mistaken for a criminal and arrested but when it was discovered that he was a priest he was condemned to death and confined in Newgate prison. There he continued to give consolation to his Catholic compatriots and heard confessions until on 17th April 1643 he was led to Tyburn and hanged. As he was led to the scaffold the prayer heard on his lips was: “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit”.

This website has an additional detail (and is also the source of the portrait above):

There is a beautiful story relating to the martyrdom of Blessed Henry Heath. Several years previously, his aged father, John, visited him in Douai. So impressed was he that he not only converted to Catholicism but decided to remain at Douai as a lay brother. On the day of his son’s martyrdom, he saw a brilliant light ascending to Heaven and he knew at that moment that his son had paid the ultimate price. His premonition was proved some time later when the reports reached Douai of Heath’s death.

Henry Heath was beatified along with 84 other martyrs of England and Wales on 22nd November 1987 by Pope John Paul II. Read even more here about this brave martyr.

St. Thomas More in the Tower

On April 13, 1534, Thomas More was presented with the Act of Succession and the oath it required at Lambeth Palace in the presence of three other Thomases and one William: Audley, Cranmer, Cromwell, and Benson (The last Abbot and first Dean of Westminster Abbey). Then More was held in the custody of Benson for a few days. By April 17 he was in the Tower of London and wrote to his daughter Meg about his questioning earlier that week. He left the Tower again for trial on July 1, 1535 and then for the last time on July 6, 1535 for his beheading.

The Latin Mass magazine published an article I wrote titled "The Long Lent of St. Thomas More" in its Winter/Spring 2015 issue (print or on-line subscription only). In it I demonstrated that More was preparing either for death from natural causes or by execution throughout those long months in the Tower of London:

From April 17, 1534, through the trial and execution of the three Carthusian priors (John Houghton, Augustine Webster, and Robert Lawrence) with Father John Haile and the Angel of Syon, Father Richard Reynolds on May 4, 1535; the trial and execution of John Cardinal Fisher in June of that year, and his own trial on July 1, 1535, Thomas More prepared for his death in the Tower of London. For more than 14 months in the Tower, More observed a Long Lent of repentance and devotion. He meditated on the Passion of Christ, particularly on His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed to repent of all past sins and to wean himself away from all worldly concerns and seems to have marked his progress toward preparing to die. The purpose of this article is to examine those methods of preparation and thereby trace signs of More’s progress and final acceptance of death.

I examine two of his Tower works: The Sadness of Christ and his "Godly Meditation" prayer and then look at More's progress toward death and martyrdom through his letters to his daughter Margaret Roper and of course his trial and execution.

On Wolf Hall this coming Sunday night (April 19), the episode in which Thomas More is depicted torturing a suspected heretic on the rack is scheduled to air. This is the biggest lie that Hilary Mantel and the BBC are presenting so dramatically in defiance even of G.R. Elton, who acknowledged that More never tortured anyone during the three (3) heresy investigations he was involved in as Chancellor. I hope to be booked on Kresta in the Afternoon next week to discuss.

I was perusing a book by Louis L. Martz on Thomas More: The Search for the Inner Man. Martz was one of the editors of the Yale Edition of The Complete Works of Thomas More and chaired the project between 1963 and 1997 (he died in 2001). Martz demolishes the charges both of torture and of fanatical prosecution of heretics. He was arguing in fact against one of the editors on his project, Richard Marius, whose 1984 biography depicted More as hysterical and savage in his pursuit of heresy. Martz notes that the pursuit of heresy continued after More's death, as Cromwell oversaw the execution of monks, friars, and many others, including an elderly princess (the last of the Plantagenets) and two Knights of the Order of St. John--Cromwell called it treason, not heresy. Blessed John Forest was certainly executed for heresy, burned at the stake. His heresy was exactly what Cromwell called treason: he would not acknowledge Henry's supremacy over the Church in England.

Martz concludes:

It is difficult therefore to argue that Thomas More's prosecution of those he suspected of heresy was any more severe than Thomas Cromwell's prosecution of those he suspected of treason. For both it was a grim matter of quelling what they, for different reasons, saw as sedition. Let us lay aside, then, this ancient and unfounded charge against More.

Martz's book was published in 1992.

Please note that Matt Swaim and I will discuss St. Thomas More and Wolf Hall on the Son Rise Morning Show Monday morning, April 20, during the last segment of the EWTN broadcast, after the 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central news break.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

King James VI/I and Witches in Scotland and England

The Tea at Trianon blog features a post about James VI of Scotland (and I of England) and his fear of witches and witchcraft. Tracy Borman writes about how he acted upon that obsession in law and literature:

There was thus a fertile ground for James's witch hunting beliefs to take hold. In 1597, he published Daemonologie, a treatise on witchcraft that became so influential that it was republished several times and distributed across Europe. It inspired a witch hunting fervour of dangerous proportions, giving sanction to all manner of horrific persecutions. Those most at risk were women: as many as 95% of those convicted for witchcraft were female. Most were unmarried, poor and misfits in their community. Many had a 'familiar', such as a cat, dog or rat, which would supposedly help to carry out their evil spells.

The witch hunts also became a convenient way of getting rid of troublesome neighbours. The old saying that there was 'no smoke without fire' certainly held true here: an accusation was all that was needed to bring someone to trial, and a staggeringly high proportion of those who were hauled before the courts were found guilty.

Tracy Borman, Joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, and a respected author of biographies and historical works, including Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant and Elizabeth's Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen, also written a book about witches and witchcraft in Scotland and England with an alliterative and sibilant subtitle: Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction (what about Superstition?) A survey of the reviews in the London press suggests that Borman succeeds in informing readers of the appalling injustice of witchcraft trials in both Scotland and England under James VI/I but not in convincing them of the significance of the particular case she examines to prove the guilt of James' favorite, the Duke of Buckingham in the death of the sons of Francis Manners, the 6th Earl of Rutland.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Next Issue of The St. Austin Review

Publisher Joseph Pearce announces its topic and its contents. If you are interested in the French Revolution and its effects on the Catholic Church in France, this is the issue for you:

The theme of this issue is “Revolution versus Revelation: France & the Faith”.
Stephanie A. Mann compares “Revolution and Private Revelation”, sketching “Some Notes on Marian Apparitions in France”.
Joseph G. Trabbic writes on “Étienne Gilson on Doing Philosophy in the Light of Revelation”.
Fr. Henri Giroux reveals “What everybody seems to have missed” in Pascal’s Wager.
Matthew Chominksi admires the aesthetic of Chateaubriand and Ratzinger as “A Frenchman and a German Walk the Path of Beauty”.
John Beaumont considers “The Case of Adolf Retté: A Great French Convert and Catholic Apologist”.
Lisa Salinas teaches “A Lesson in Trust at the Feet of Millet”.
Ken Clark offers his impressions of “Monet’s Rouen Cathedrals”.
Susan Treacy scales the heights of the “Requiem Aeternam: Gabriel Fauré’s Vision of Rest”.
James M. Wilson follows Raïssa Maritain into the mystical depths.
Brendan D. King translates Rainer Maria Rilke.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker joins C. S. Lewis in condemning the hideous strength of the “N.I.C.E. New World”.
James Bemis praises the classic movie, The Life and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Kevin O’Brien is aghast as “The Germans Invade St. Louis” and recalls when he was Jung at heart!
Fr. Benedict Kiely discusses “The Real Moral Equivalence” with regard to the Islamist slaughter of Christians.