Friday, November 28, 2014

Edward Short on Ian Ker on Cardinal Newman on Vatican II

I purchased my copy of this book from OUP at Eighth Day Books this week--and had the pleasure of meeting an old acquaintance who promptly placed a copy of my book on his pile of purchases. I signed it after I made my purchase (and indeed that was the second copy of my book sold that day at Eighth Day Books!--if I'd arrived a few minutes earlier, I could have offered to sign that one too!)

Watch this space for the announcement of a fun event at Eighth Day Books next month combining Christmas and Chesterton!!

Anyway, as I start reading this major study, I've also read Edward Short's review of Father Ker's book in The Catholic World Report. 

To quote:

it is good to have so reliable an authority as Father Ian Ker sorting out what Newman would have truly thought of the Council. The author of the definitive intellectual biography of Newman and several other incisive books about the great convert, Father Ker is the perfect person to address this vexed matter and here he does so with acuity and élan. Newman and Vatican II is a superb study, which anyone with any interest in Newman or the Council will find richly rewarding.

Father Ker begins his study with an excellent overview of the subtlety of Newman’s thought, which so many commentators get wrong, choosing to see him either as a “Tory of Tories” (as Avery Dulles gave out) or a misunderstood liberal (as Eamon Duffy contended). In fact, as Father Ker shows, Newman was never a party man, whether in the political or the religious sense. . . .


For Father Ker, “Newman’s theology of the conscience and its relation to the teaching authority of the Church upholds the sovereignty but not the autonomy of the individual conscience.” In such elegant discriminations, one can see the command Father Ker has of his subject’s finely judicious thinking.

This is one reason why
Newman on Vatican II is such a vital read, though there is much else about the book to recommend it. Deeply researched and wonderfully well-written, it is full of insights that go to the very essence of both the Second Council and Newman. In his penultimate chapter, for example, “Secularization and the New Evangelization,” which includes a splendid reading of Newman’s neglected novel of conversion, Callista (1856), Father Ker shows how Newman both anticipates and exemplifies the genuine spirit of Vatican II by extolling the love of Christ that will always bind the faithful to Him and His Holy Church. Here, Father Ker also presents a portrait of the true Newman, in all his faithful caritas and wisdom, which will enlighten liberals and conservatives alike.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Spinning Some Discs

My husband bought a new needle or something for his old turntable (he's the audiophile, not me!) and we listened to a few LPs one night this week. He has lots of rock and roll and I have lots of opera and classical from the days before we were married. We listened to an LP he bought me a few years ago in Kansas City--the soundtrack of Ben Hur in the deluxe boxed set with the hardback book about the movie. It was in good shape, as guaranteed by the shop. My old LP of La Damnation de Faust from Decca with Frederica von Stade and Jose van Dam et al was a little worn and had some scratches.

We pulled out a couple of more unusual discs:

This is the cover of Seals & Crofts 1973 album with the controversial pro-life song, "Unborn Child"--which you can hear on YouTube here. Seals & Crofts were/are of the Bahá'í Faith and as this article notes, were therefore concerned about the rights of the unborn as part of the human family:

Jim Seals and Dash Crofts wrote their music to reflect—though never to proselytize—their Bahà’í faith, which sees all humanity as connected in one family. They understood the unborn child to be simply a part of that universal whole.

There was quite a backlash:

Dash Crofts told interviewer Bill de Young in 1993: “Warner Brothers warned us against it. They said, ‘This is a highly controversial subject, we advise that you don’t do this.’ And we said, ‘But you’re in the business to make money; we’re doing it to save lives. We don’t care about the money.’”

According to de Young, “The critics tore the record to pieces, and Seals and Crofts with it. . . . Unborn Child hurt Seals and Crofts’ reputation—it was as if they had crossed that thin line, that sacrosanct divider that separated their music from their religious beliefs.”

Oh little baby, you’ll never cry, nor will you hear a sweet lullabye.

Oh unborn child, if you only knew just what your momma was plannin’ to do.
You’re still a-clingin’ to the tree of life, but soon you’ll be cut off before you get ripe.
Oh unborn child, beginning to grow inside your momma, but you’ll never know.
Oh tiny bud, that grows in the womb, only to be crushed before you can bloom.

Mama stop! Turn around, go back, think it over.
Now stop, turn around, go back, think it over.
Stop, turn around, go back think it over.


And the LP that had the best sound and fewest pops and/or scratches: A Classic Case: The London Symphony Orchestra Plays the Music of Jethro Tull with Ian Anderson playing his flute:

And in keeping with the beginning of the holiday season we listened to one side of a Deutsche Grammaphone album of Christmas Concertos conducted by Herbert von Karajan, which had a warm and glorious sound:

My husband has plans for more LP listening--he still has some "Yes" albums in storage to retrieve and sample!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Conventional Wisdom Overthrown

Whenever Renaissance art and architecture is discussed, someone says that a certain work was the first since ancient Greece or Rome. The conventional wisdom is that Donatello's bronze David was the first free-standing male nude since antiquity. Perhaps (even though there is a fig leaf) that's not quite true--Tullio Lombardo's Adam might claim that title.

The sculpture has been restored--it was broken into hundreds of pieces when its pedestal collapsed in 2002--and is back on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. According to the exhibition website, its return is important not just because Adam has been restored after his fall, but because the Met developed new processes and techniques for restoration:

The life-size marble statue of Adam, carved by Tullio Lombardo (Italian, ca. 1455–1532), is among the most important works of art from Renaissance Venice to be found outside that city today. Made in the early 1490s for the tomb of Doge Andrea Vendramin, it is the only signed sculpture from that monumental complex. The serene, idealized figure, inspired by ancient sculpture, is deceptively complex. Carefully manipulating composition and finish, Tullio created God's perfect human being, but also the anxious victim of the serpent's wiles.

In 2002, Adam was gravely damaged in an accident. Committed to returning it to public view, the Museum undertook a conservation treatment that has restored the sculpture to its original appearance to the fullest extent possible.

The exhibition allows Adam to be viewed in the round and explains this unprecedented twelve-year research and conservation project. It also inaugurates a new permanent gallery for Venetian and northern Italian sculpture. The installation of this gallery was made possible by Assunta Sommella Peluso, Ignazio Peluso, Ada Peluso, and Romano I. Peluso.

The website includes videos of the process of putting Adam back together again, and to describe the statue's fascinating imbalance--Adam may be ready to eat the "apple", the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He holds the fruit and  his expression is anxious; although his body looks balanced and poised when seem from the front, but from another angle, on the right, he is counterbalanced in an uncomfortable pose--his weight looks even more strangely distributed when viewed from the left. I'm referring to and examining photos from the articles on the website, here and here. Tullio created the sculpture to reflect the image of God in Adam through the beauty of the statue and the crisis of the fall through the tension and anxiety depicted in the marble.

Obviously, the restoration of this statue of Adam after its fall reminds any Christian of the fall and rise of the Old Adam through the Paschal Sacrifice of the New Adam--Romans 5:15-19; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49--and this site describes how St. Paul compares and contrasts the two.

Father and Son: the Wattson's

The father of the founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, whose cause for canonization has begun, was an Anglo-Catholic Tractarian, according to this article:

Grace works in strange ways. The path to sainthood of Fr. Paul Wattson, whose cause for beatification was endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops last week, may have begun with a practical joke one fateful day in 1844.

On that day Wattson’s father, Joseph Wattson, was kicked out of an Anglican seminary for joking that he was secretly a Jesuit.

The General Theological Seminary in New York City was cracking down on anything that smacked of “Popery,” including the reading of the extremely popular tracts of John Henry Newman, which called for a return to the more liturgical traditions of the past (sic).

When the elder Wattson suggested in jest that he was perhaps a “Jesuit in disguise,” he was expelled and, his career options now limited, consigned to life as a poor rural preacher.

According to, Wattson’s father was fond of telling the story to his sons. Perhaps it instilled a desire for reconciliation within his son, because throughout his life, Father Wattson, born Lewis Thomas Wattson in 1863, never wavered from his desire to join reunite the Episcopal and Anglican Church to the Catholic Church of Rome.

The article provides more detail about the crisis in the Anglican seminary brought about by the Tracts for the Times:

The “General” — as the seminary was known — was far too Protestant to welcome the Catholic nature of the tracts; they were forbidden literature to the students. Of course, they were smuggled into the place and eagerly read and discussed. Rumor had it that there were a number of “Jesuits in disguise” who had infiltrated the school and were subverting the students with the Popish literature. Young Joseph Wattson, who was a bit of a practical joker, led one of the more rabidly anti-Catholic seminarians to believe that he (Wattson) just might be one of those infiltrators. The matter was reported to the Dean and poor Wattson and another student were expelled, even though they were exonerated of being “secret Jesuits.” The Oxford tracts were causing such a stir in Anglican circles, that any hint of “Romish tendencies” put the seminarian on the suspect list. Not surprisingly, this incident haunted Joseph Wattson for the greater part of his ministerial career with the Anglicans, and the only pastoral positions he was able to find were in poverty-stricken areas.

On the other hand, the fate of some of his colleagues at the “General” who did “go to Rome” was anything but prejudicial. Edgar P. Wadhams, for example, sometime after his ordination and priestly ministry, became the founding bishop of Ogdensburg, New York, and Clarence E. Walworth befriended Father Isaac Hecker and became one of the original fathers of the Paulists, an order founded by Father Hecker after he was expelled from the Redemptorists. James A. McMaster, another Oxford convert, entered the Redemptorists, but concluded that he did not have a vocation to the religious life. Instead he became an outstanding figure in Catholic journalism, founding the New York Freeman’s Journal, one of the important Catholic American newspapers of the time. One cannot help but wonder what would have happened had the elder Wattson “poped” at the time of his expulsion from the seminary

While the father did not "pope", the son did, eventually, as clergyman Paul Wattson sought to create more "Catholic" structures in the Episcopalian Church, and began to argue for corporate reunion of the Church of England with the Catholic Church. It's quite a story!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Widower Priest

The Recusants and renegades blog tells the story of Father Henry Hawkins, a widower who became a Jesuit missionary to England:

It’s unclear how Henry Hawkins spent the years immediately after his graduation from Oxford, though since he was said to be ‘intelligent in affairs of government, very learned in the English laws’, perhaps he attended the Inns of Court and was destined for public office. On 9th February 1604, when he was twenty-seven years old, Henry married the twenty-year-old Aphra Norton, daughter of Thomas Norton, at the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich, a few miles to the east of Canterbury. The Norton family lived at Tancrey Island in Fordwich. Some commentators mistakenly suggest that Henry abandoned his wife to pursue his vocation as a priest: the source quoted above (a manuscript ‘status’ of the English College at Rome for 1613) claims that he had ‘left a wife, office, and many other commodities and expectations, to become a priest in the seminaries.’

However, the truth is rather more poignant. On 16th January 1605, less than a year after their marriage, Aphra Hawkins died and was buried in the church where they had been married. Her tomb is adorned with a female figure, and a plate with this touching inscription:

Here lyeth buryed the body of Aphra Hawkins, wife of Henry Hawkins, gent. and daughter of Thomas Norton, Esqr. who scarcely having arrived to 21 years of age, yet fully attained perfection in many virtues, departed this frayle life the 16th of January, 1605.

Henry Hawkins must have made his decision to join the Jesuits shortly after his young wife’s untimely death. When he entered the English College of Rome on 19th March 1609, using the pseudonym ‘Brooke’, he had already spent some time studying the classics at the college of the English Jesuits at St Omer. Henry received minor orders in 1613, was ordained priest soon afterwards, and, after spending two years in the study of scholastic theology, left for Belgium and entered the Society of Jesus in about 1615.

I don't think the Society of Jesus would have admitted a man who had proved unfaithful to the vows and vocation of matrimony! Father Hawkins survived being a missionary priest in England, although he was arrested and sent into exile--so he risked the not uncommon fate of being martyred for the faith. Read the rest of his story here. His Oxford DNB article is here. A copy of his Parthenia Sacra, an emblem book devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary was offered by Christie's in 2013 and sold well above its estimated price.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Christ the King

Today is the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe in the Ordinary Form; it is also the last Sunday of Ordinary Time--Advent begins next Sunday. In the Extraordinary Form we celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King on the last Sunday of October, before the Solemnity of All Saints. The New Liturgical Movement site posted a link to an explanation of the different purposes of the different timings of this great solemnity--as originally intended by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and as intended after the Second Vatican Council:

Pius XI’s intention, as can be gleaned from n. 29 [of the Encyclical Letter Quas Primas, which proclaimed the feast], is to emphasize the glory of Christ as terminus of His earthly mission,a glory and mission visible and perpetuated in history by the saints. Hence the feast falls shortly before the Feast of All Saints, to emphasize that what Christ inaugurated in His own person before ascending in glory, the saints then instantiate and carry further in human society, culture, and nations. It is a feast primarily about celebrating Christ’s ongoing kingship over all reality, including this present world, where the Church must fight for the recognition of His rights, the actual extension of His dominion to all domains, individual and social.

Indeed, there's also the obvious fact, unmentioned in Quas Primas but surely in everyone's mind, that the last Sunday in October had, for centuries, been celebrated as Reformation Sunday. A Catholic counter-feast, reminding the world not only of the comprehensive Kingship of Jesus Christ—so often denied socially and culturally by various teachings of Protestantism—but also of the worldwide kingly authority of His Church, would certainly be a reasonable application of the principle lex orandi, lex credendi.

In the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council, its place was changed to the last Sunday of the Church year—that is, so that one week later would fall the first Sunday of Advent. This new position emphasizes rather the eschatological dimension of Christ’s kingship: the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, though begun in time, is here present “as in a mystery” (as
Lumen Gentium phrases it) and in a “crucified” way. This Kingdom will be perfected and fully manifested only at the end of time, with the Second Coming. Hence in the new calendar the feast comes at the very end of the Church’s year, as the summation of the whole of salvation history and the symbol of what we hope for:expectantes … adventum salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi, as the liturgy in the Ordinary Form proclaims after the Lord’s Prayer.

Read the rest here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Leanda de Lisle on New Elizabeth I Biography

Reviewed in The Spectator: Lisa Hilton's Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince:

Women are ‘foolish, wanton flibbergibs, in every way doltified with the dregs of the devil’s dunghill’. So a cleric reminded Queen Elizabeth I. His sermon reassured her that her personal qualities made her exceptional. But Elizabeth was not merely an ‘exceptional woman’, snorts Lisa Hilton. She was also ‘an exceptional ruler’ — one who refashioned her kingdom as ‘a modern monarch, a Renaissance prince’.

Elizabeth’s accession in 1558 coincided with the publication of John Knox’s notorious blast against the ‘monstrous regiment’ or ‘rule’ of women. Happily such views were ‘based more on hostility to Catholicism than to female ruleper se’, we are told. Royalty ‘negated gender’, and Hilton believes Elizabeth would reign largely unrestricted by the issue. While the doltified Mary had wanted to drag ‘England back to Catholic conformity’, Elizabeth was destined to take her kingdom ‘from the darkened constrictions of medievalism towards a recognisable world’, imbued with the ‘new learning’.

But de Lisle takes issue with Hilton's view of Mary v. Elizabeth:

Many of Hilton’s assertions are controversial, not to say startling, and there is plenty to take issue with. Mary I, far from being backward-looking, ruled at the cutting edge of the Counter-Reformation. It was Elizabeth who looked back, clinging to the Protestantism of her brother’s reign, rather than pushing reform forward — to the disappointment of Cecil and others. Her stubborn conservatism was encapsulated in her motto Semper Eadem (‘I never change’), and as a ruler she proved a master of inactivity. Essex (whom Hilton under-estimates) complained that Elizabeth could be ‘brought to nothing except by a kind of necessity’.

She notes that Hilton offers something new:

Whether you agree with Hilton or not, she brings balance to the view that we must judge Elizabeth through the prism of her gender. It is refreshing to be confronted by challenging arguments instead of tired anecdotes. This biography is also full of unusual and interesting insights. I loved the observation that the three most important men in Elizabeth’s life were Cecil, Robert Dudley (whom she loved) and Philip II of Spain. Apparently she kept a painting of Philip in her bedroom. Hilton takes an admirably unsentimental view of Elizabeth’s necessary ruthlessness, while the chapters on Turkey and Russia help place her rule in its wider international context.

More about the book here.

No Debate Allowed at Christ Church in Oxford

I've posted on the censorship of opposing views at American universities on social topics, but now it's come up in England. Christ Church in Oxford was set to host a debate on the issue, "This House believes Britain's abortion culture hurts us all" when pro-abortion groups descried "cisgender" men talking about abortion! The Telegraph and The Catholic Herald published statements by the debater who was going to defend the statement.

Tim Stanley points out in both that they were not going to debate whether abortion should be legal or not:

this wasn’t a pro-life demo and the subject wasn’t whether or not women should have the right to choose abortion. Even though I was speaking for the proposition, my speech would've begun with noting that the motion has nothing to do with abortion rights per se and was simply a consideration of how having effective abortion on demand affects wider society. Brendan, speaking for the opposition, would've doubtless done a fine job and probably run rings round me. It was a fair and free debate that I half expected to lose.

The Catholic Herald now has a statement from a barrister: Christ Church may have broken the law:

A barrister has said that an Oxford college’s decision not to host an abortion debate is unlawful.

Neil Addison, national director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, said: “It’s an unlawful decision under the Education No 2 Act 1986, which guarantees freedom of speech in universities.

Authorities at Christ Church, Oxford, ruled this week that Oxford Students for Life could not hold a debate on the motion “This House Believes Britain’s Abortion Culture Hurts Us All” at the college. The decision followed calls by the Oxford University Student Union’s Women’s Campaign (WomCam) to cancel the debate between journalists Tim Stanley and Brendan O’Neill.

You might note the barrister's organization: The Thomas More Legal Centre:

We are an independent Legal Charity and we exist to provide specialist free legal advice and assistance in cases involving issues of Religious Freedom or Religious Discrimination in England and Wales.

We are a predominantly Roman Catholic Organisation in origin and ethos but we offer our services to all Christians in support of shared Christian principles and faith

We are also concerned about any attack on the Christian heritage of England and Wales by attempts to remove Christian symbols or prevent the carrying on of Christian traditions. We are willing to support legal actions to prevent the destruction of the Christian heritage of our Island

We take our name and inspiration from Saint Thomas More the English Lawyer and Lord Chancellor who was martyred in 1535 because he refused to submit to a Tyrant or to compromise his Catholic Faith and principles.

St. Thomas More, pray for us!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Keeping Up to Date with the Ordinariate in Kansas City

The Catholic Key has this story about the new Ordinariate community in the KC-St. Joe, MO diocese: Our Lady of Hope Society and its new home at Our Lady of Sorrows near Crown Center:

KANSAS CITY — It was a stunning question to open a homily, and one that had more than one answer.

“What in the world are we doing here?” Father Ernie Davis asked his congregation of Catholics who in 2008 came into full communion with Rome as one former Anglican community.

Yes, they were celebrating Mass for the first time in their new home, Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, adjacent to Crown Center.

Yes, though still small in number, they still dream big and of one day becoming a full parish in the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, an organizational structure established by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for united Catholics from the Anglican, Episcopalian and Methodist traditions to celebrate unity while retaining their adapted prayers and liturgy.

In January this year the new society was approved by the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, according to this story.

My husband I attended Mass according to the Anglican Use at St. Therese the Little Flower several years ago, from which Our Lady of Hope is moving to Our Lady of Sorrows:

But make no mistake about it. They still love their first spiritual home at St. Therese Little Flower Church, 58th and Euclid, and they still intend to participate in the work that the small parish does for hundreds of poor and elderly in its parish boundaries.

“We think we can grow and keep connected to St. Therese, especially in the things they do for the people,” said Ann Straulman.

But Straulman said it was difficult for the community to grow at St. Therese Little Flower because the parish is not easy to find, nor its location easy to describe.

“Nobody knew where it was. We would invite people and say ‘58th and Euclid,’ and people would go blank,” she said.

Straulman is one of the more senior members of the Our Lady of Hope community, now officially a “mission” of the ordinariate, but still fully connected to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

The pastor of their new church makes a nice point at the end of the article:

Then he remarked how appropriate that the Our Lady of Sorrows community and the Our Lady of Hope community unite in one church building, as he recalled Mary at the foot of the cross.

“Even in that sorrow, she had hope,” Father Pileggi said. “The two titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary are now joined together in one house.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

G.K. Chesterton and Iron Maiden? Yes!

No, not Yes, but Iron Maiden! Just the first verse of Chesterton's poem, "O God of Earth and Altar":

O God of earth and altar,
bow down and hear our cry,
our earthly rulers falter,
our people drift and die;
the walls of gold entomb us,
the swords of scorn divide,
take not thy thunder from us,
but take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
from lies of tongue and pen,
from all the easy speeches
that comfort cruel men,
from sale and profanation
of honor, and the sword,
from sleep and from damnation,
deliver us, good Lord!

Tie in a living tether
the prince and priest and thrall,
bind all our lives together,
smite us and save us all;
in ire and exultation
aflame with faith, and free,
lift up a living nation,
a single sword to thee.

- G.K. Chesterton, 1906

A more common hymn tune is King's Lynn, here sung by the choir and congregation at St. Martin-in-the-Fields:

It can also be sung to the tune Aurelia ("The Church's One Foundation"). More information about the hymn here. It could be an appropriate hymn for the great Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe this coming Sunday.