Sunday, October 23, 2016

Christ the King

Next Sunday, the last Sunday of October, on the Calendar for the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite, will be the Feast of The Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  I wrote about that Feast and the celebration of the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe in the Ordinary Form--which falls on Sunday, November 20 this year, for the National Catholic Register:

My husband and I attend Sunday Mass in both forms of the Roman Rite: the Ordinary Form in the vernacular and the Extraordinary Form in Latin. Because we have this opportunity, at least partially because of Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 Summorum Pontificum, and mostly because of the generosity of several priests, we will celebrate the feast of Christ the King twice this fall—once before Election Day and once after. Thus, no matter who is elected President, Christ will be King.

1925: Pope Pius XI

On the Extraordinary Form calendar the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated on the last Sunday of October. Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical “Quas Primas” on December 11, 1925 to establish the feast and provided this reason for its scheduling:
The last Sunday of October seemed the most convenient of all for this purpose, because it is at the end of the liturgical year, and thus the feast of the Kingship of Christ sets the crowning glory upon the mysteries of the life of Christ already commemorated during the year, and, before celebrating the triumph of all the Saints, we proclaim and extol the glory of him who triumphs in all the Saints and in all the Elect.
The propers of the Mass (Introit, Collect, Epistle, Gradual, Alleluia, Gospel, Offertory, Secret, Communion Verse, and Post Communion prayer) all emphasize what Pope Pius XI stated as truths about Jesus Christ’s Kingship. He reigns as the maker and enforcer of Law; His Kingdom, as he told Pilate, is not of this world: it is “spiritual and concerned with spiritual things”; nevertheless, He is King of all the nations on earth, whether their citizens are Catholic or not, baptized or not, and He reigns as the King of peace.

Please read the rest there.

Image credit. (Christ Pantocrator (“ruler over all”) from the Hagia Sophia in Instanbul)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pope John Paul II, The Saint and His Saints

Today is the Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, the pope of my adulthood, whose encyclicals and books I've read, and whose life and death I've loved. He is famous for bringing down Communism in Poland, for urging us to embrace the Culture of Life, and for beatifying and canonizing many saints. Some thought he canonized too many, but in this article from 2006, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, then the prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, gave Pope St. John Paul II's reasons for canonizing so many saints:

The first reason the Pope gave was that he, by beatifying so many Servants of God, did no more than implement the Second Vatican Council, which vigorously reaffirmed that holiness is the essential note of the Church; that the Church is holy: one, holy, catholic, apostolic. 

John Paul II also said that if the Church of Christ is not holy, it isn't the Church of Christ, the true Church of Christ, the one he desired and founded to continue his mission throughout the centuries. 

Therefore, John Paul II said, holiness is what is most important in the Church, according to the Second Vatican Council. Then no one should be surprised by the fact that the Pope wished to propose so many models of holiness to Christians, to the People of God. 

The second reason is the extraordinary ecumenical importance of holiness. 

In "Novo Millennio Ineunte," the Pope said that the holiness of the saints, blessed and martyrs is perhaps the most convincing ecumenism, these are his words, because holiness, he said with even stronger words, has its ultimate foundation in Christ, in whom the Church is not divided. 

Therefore, the ecumenism we all want calls for many saints, so that the convincing ecumenism of holiness is placed in the candelabrum of the holiness of the Church. 

The Pope's third reason was that "the saints and blessed manifest the charity of a local Church," that is, today, the Holy Father said, local Churches are far more numerous than in the last 10 centuries. 

Therefore, we shouldn't be surprised that there are also more saints, more blessed who express and manifest the holiness of these increased local Churches. 

The Vatican website has a list of all the saints he canonized and the Bunsons (Matthew and Margaret) wrote a book about those saints, published in 2007.

Friday, October 21, 2016

There's Just Something about Those Thwings

St. John of Bridlington or St. John Thwing or Thweng, is a Yorkshire saint of the fourteenth century and an ancestor of two recusant era martyrs, Blesseds Edward and Thomas Thwing, uncle and nephew. Saint John was born in 1320 near Bridlington:

John was schooled in the village from the age of five, before completing his studies at Oxford.

He then entered the Augustinian Canons Regular community of Priory of Bridlington. He carried out his duties with humility and diligence, and was in turn novice master, almsgiver, preacher and sub-prior. He became Canon of the Priory in 1346 and was eventually elected Prior in 1356. John initially declined out of humility, but after being re-elected, probably in 1361, that he took on the duties of Prior in January 1362. He served as Prior for 17 years before his death on 10 October 1379.

There's a connection between Henry V and St. John:

St John of Bridlington was commended for the integrity of his life, his scholarship, and his quiet generosity. He was the last English saint to be canonised before the English Reformation. King Henry V attributed his victory at Agincourt to the intercession in heaven of this Saint John and of Saint John of Beverley. Women in difficult labour may pray to St John of Bridlington as their patron saint and he is also associated with the local fishing industry.

Of course Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries led to the destruction of his shrine:

At the English Reformation Henry VIII was asked to spare the magnificent shrine of the saint, but in vain; it was destroyed in 1537. The nave of the church, restored in 1857, is all that now remains of Bridlington Priory

In fact, the last Prior might also be considered a saint as  martyr, for he stood up against the Dissolution of the Monasteries and participated in the Pilgrimage of Grace, according to BHO:

The last prior, William Wood, took part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, was attainted of high treason on 17 January 1537,(fn. 47) and with the Abbots of Fountains and Jervaulx, the ex Abbot of Rievaulx and the ex-Prior of Guisborough, was put to death, the property of the house being then treated as forfeited to the Crown. (fn. 48)

A letter is extant from Prior Wood to Thomas Cromwell, (fn. 49) the exact date of which is uncertain, in reply to one advising the prior to recognize Henry VIII as patron and founder, or to appear before one of the king's councillors. Prior Wood pleaded that he was 'deteyned with divers infirmities' of body 'and in lyke manner am feble of nature, so that without great jeopardie of my lyffe, I cannot, nor am not hable to labor in doing of my deuty to appere before your mastershipp,' &c. The prior therefore sent his brother to represent him.

Another letter, printed more than once elsewhere, is from Richard Bellasys, one of the commissioners for the suppression of monasteries, (fn. 50) to Cromwell, and bears date 14 November 1538. After relating how he had treated Jervaulx Abbey, the writer goes on to say, 'As for Byrdlington I have doyn nothing there as yet, but spayrethe itt to March next, bycause the days now are so short, and from such tyme as I begyn I trust shortly to dyspatche it after such fashion that when all is fynished, I trust your Lordshipp shall think that I have bene no evyll howsbound in all such things as your Lordshipp haith appoynted me to doo.'

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Symphonic Tragedy of the Nine Days Queen

I just happened to hear this symphony, composed by Arnold Rosner. According to the late composer's website:

In 1981 during dinner with a bridge partner, the discussion turned to theater. A full-time lawyer and part-time producer, he told me of the play The Chronicle of Nine, by one Florence Stevenson, concerning the life of Lady Jane Grey and her nine-day rule of England. Wine having been poured liberally that evening, I blurted out “that would make a nice opera,” and I actually followed this instinct despite no hope at all that point for a production.

Of course, the tradition of a suite or symphony taken from an opera is venerable. It was easy to compile such a piece, although it does somewhat alter the dramatic sequence. The first movement is the Act I prelude, and contrasts eerie string harmonies with angry, perhaps frightening, brass interpolations. The second movement appears in the opera as wedding music in Act I, and is something of a mini-suite in itself. The third movement is a la battaglia and corresponds to the prelude to Act III. If the ending (as in Strauss’s Don Juan) seems unexpectedly subdued, the skirmish described ends very badly for Queen Jane’s forces. The finale is actually the Act II prelude of the opera, where it serves as the preceding king’s funeral music. In this setting, however, it may be thought of as a dirge for Jane or the symbol of the English crown in general.

The Chronicle of Nine is based on a historical drama of the same name, written by Florence Stevenson, based on the life and nine-day reign of Lady Jane Grey as Queen of England in 1553.

The three acts begin with orchestral preludes, followed by introductory ballads sung by a minstrel. The first of these welcomes the audience and prepares them for a sad story. The action of Act I centers around Jane’s arranged wedding with Guildford Dudley. When her parents inform her of this plan she sings an aria of lament, to the passion text in the St. Luke gospel. A large-scale wedding ballet is followed by a discussion between Lord Dudley and John.

Act II concerns Jane’s coronation. The minstrel sings of her attendant crown and jewels.

Early in Act III, Jane, now deposed, is in prison, as is her husband, but he is allowed to visit her. Although married, they have not consummated their relationship and the scene, tentatively at first, is something of a love duet. At the end Jane sings of her hope that she is now pregnant with a son, and muses on Queen Mary’s kindness, while Guildford sings tenderly of the kindness of “this queen”. Act III culminates in Jane’s execution and the Minstrel’s ballad concerns the failure of the duke of Northumberland’s forces to achieve a military victory for Jane’s cause, and goes on to describe a bright sunlit Monday as the approaching day of the beheading. Scene 2 describes Mary’s visit to Jane’s cell. Jane’s father and uncles, under the leadership of one Wyatt have again attempted to proclaim Jane as ruler; their rebellion has failed. To protect the crown from further jeopardy, Mary contends that she cannot sign Jane’s pardon and the execution will proceed. She sings of her need to find Jane guilty of plots against her, and goes on as to the cruel deeds she now must perform. Mary will send her priest to say prayers for Jane, who answers that Mary has more need for these prayers than does she. The final scene begins with a version of the Cries of London and leads to Jane’s farewell and execution. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)

Here's a sample of the symphony.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

St. Philip Howard and the North American Jesuit Martyrs

Just a reminder that today is the anniversary of St. Philip Howard's death in the Tower of London in 1595. From my blog post at the National Catholic Register website:

Suffering in the Tower, he dedicated his hours to prayer, spiritual reading and devotions, and fasting. He carved the motto for his life into the wall of his cell: “Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro.” (“The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next.”)

In the meantime, another Jesuit, Father Robert Southwell, was using Arundell House as his base of operations in West Sussex, serving as Anne Howard’s chaplain. Southwell wrote An Epistle of Comfort for Howard’s consolation. In 1592, he was arrested and after horrendous torture, imprisoned in the Tower of London. Howard’s dog was their messenger for a time before Southwell’s execution on February 21, 1595.

Howard had been condemned to death at his second trial in Westminster Hall, accused of praying for the success of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Incarceration and the stress of never knowing when the death sentence would be carried out were affecting his health and in August, 1595, he became violently ill of dysentery—poison was even suspected.

“But One Life to Lose”

Howard sent a message to Elizabeth I, begging to see his wife, his daughter, and the son born after his imprisonment. She replied that he could and would be freed and all his estates and honors restored, if only he would renounce his faith and attend a Church of England service. He responded that he could not accept such terms: “If that be the cause for which I am to perish, sorry am I that I have but one life to lose.”

This sixteenth century Nathan Hale died of dysentery on Sunday, October 19, 1595 at noon. He was 38. Buried in the Tower’s other chapel, St. Peter ad Vincula with his father, his widow survived him long enough to have his body disinterred and buried in the FitzAlan Chapel in Arundel.

I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning to talk about this great martyr.

Today is also the memorial of the North American Martyrs, Jesuits who suffered horrendous tortures and martyrdoms on various dates from 1642 to 1649. They are: St. René Goupil (1642), St. Isaac Jogues (1646), St. Jean de Lalande (1646), St. Antoine Daniel (1648), St.Jean de Brébeuf (1649), St. Noël Chabanel (1649), St. Charles Garnier (1649), and St. Gabriel Lalemant (1649).

In Willa Cather's novel set in seventeenth century Quebec, Shadows on the Rock, a priest explains why one of those martyrs has inspired him so greatly:

"There was among the early missionaries, among the martyrs, one whom I have selected for my especial reverence. I mean Noël Chabanel, Euclide. He was not so great a figure as Brébeuf or Jogues or Lalemant, but I feel a peculiar sympathy for him. He perished, you remember, in the great Iroquois raid of '49. But his martyrdom was his life, not his death.

"He was a little different from all the others,--equal to them in desire, but not in fitness. He was only thirty years of age when he came, and was from Toulouse, that gracious city.

"Chabanel had been a professor of rhetoric like me, and like me he was fond of the decencies, the elegancies of life. From the beginning his life in Canada was one long humiliation and disappointment. Strange to say, he was utterly unable to learn the Huron language, though he was a master of Greek and Hebrew and spoke both Italian and Spanish. After five years of devoted study he was still unable to converse or to preach in any Indian tongue. He was sent out to the mission of Saint Jean in the Tobacco nation, as helper to Father Charles Gamier. Father Gamier, though not at all Chabanel's equal in scholarship, had learned the Huron language so thoroughly that the Indians said there was nothing more to teach him,--he spoke like one of themselves.

"His humiliating inability to learn the language was only one of poor Chabanel's mortifications. He had no love for his converts. Everything about the savages and their mode of life was utterly repulsive and horrible to him; their filth, their indecency, their cruelty. The very smell of their bodies revolted him to nausea. He could never feel toward them that long-suffering love which has been the consolation of our missionaries. He never became hardened to any of the privations of his life, not even to the vermin and mosquitos that preyed upon his body, nor to the smoke and smells in the savage wigwams. In his struggle to learn the language he went and lived with the Indians, sleeping in their bark shelters, crowded with dogs and dirty savages. Often Father Chabanel would lie out in the snow until he was in danger of a death self-inflicted, and only then creep inside the wigwam. The food was so hateful to him that one might say he lived upon fasting. The flesh of dogs he could never eat without becoming ill, and even corn-meal boiled in dirty water and dirty kettles brought on vomiting; so that he used to beg the women to give him a little uncooked meal in his hand, and upon that he subsisted.

"The Huron converts were more brutal to him than to Father Gamier. They were contemptuous of his backwardness in their language, and they must have divined his excessive sensibility, for they took every occasion to outrage it. In the wigwam they tirelessly perpetrated indecencies to wound him. Once when a hunting party returned after a long famine, they invited him to a feast of flesh. After he had swallowed the portion in his bowl, they pulled a human hand out of the kettle to show him that he had eaten of an Iroquois prisoner. He became ill at once, and they followed him into the forest to make merry over his retchings.

"But through all these physical sufferings, which remained as sharp as on the first day, the greatest of his sufferings was an almost continual sense of the withdrawal of God. All missionaries have that anguish at times, but with Chabanel it was continual. For long months, for a whole winter, he would exist in the forest, every human sense outraged, and with no assurance of the nearness of God. In those seasons of despair he was constantly beset by temptation in the form of homesickness. He longed to leave the mission to priests who were better suited to its hardships, to return to France and teach the young, and to find again that peace of soul, that cleanliness and order, which made him the master of his mind and its powers. Everything that he had lost was awaiting him in France, and the Director of Missions in Quebec had suggested his return.

"On Corpus Christi Day, in the fifth year of his labours in Canada and the thirty-fifth of his age, he cut short this struggle and overcame his temptation. At the mission of Saint Matthias, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed, he made a vow of perpetual stability (perpetuam stabilitatem) in the Huron missions. This vow he recorded in writing, and he sent copies of it to his brethren in Kebec.

"Having made up his mind to die in the wilderness, he had not long to wait. Two years later he perished when the mission of Saint Jean was destroyed by the Iroquois,--though whether he died of cold in his flight through the forest, or was murdered by a faithless convert for the sake of the poor belongings he carried on his back, was not surely known. No man ever gave up more for Christ than Noël Chabanel; many gave all, but few had so much to give.

"It was perhaps in memory of his sufferings that I, in my turn, made a vow of perpetual stability. For those of us who are unsteadfast by nature, who have other lawful loves than our devotion to our converts, it is perhaps the safest way. My sacrifice is poor compared with his. I was able to learn the Indian languages; I have a house where I can, at least, pray in solitude; I can keep clean, and am seldom hungry, except by accident in the journeys I have to make. But Noël Chabanel--ah, when your faith is cold, think of him! How can there be men in France this day who doubt the existence of God, when for the love of Him weak human beings have been able to endure so much?"

How, indeed, can there be men and women anywhere who doubt the existence of God when men and women have been willing and able to endure so much?

St. Philip Howard, pray for us.
St. Edmund Campion, pray for us.
St. Henry Walpole, pray for us.
St. Robert Southwell, pray for us.
St. René Goupil, pray for us.
St. Isaac Jogues, pray for us.
St. Jean de Lalande, pray for us.
St. Antoine Daniel, pray for us.
St.Jean de Brébeuf, pray for us.
St. Noël Chabanel, pray for us.
St. Charles Garnier, pray for us.
St. Gabriel Lalemant, pray for us.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Second Spring and the "Catholic Spring"

From Crisis Magazine and the inimitable Father George Rutler, this comparison between a great, holy Newman and 21st-century Newman:

On a Tuesday in 1852, the thirteenth of July for the literary record since it was a day important for English letters, Blessed John Henry Newman mounted the pulpit of Oscott College, its halls relatively new though designed by Joseph Potter and Augustus Pugin to recall the best of the Tudor times before the depredations of the eighth Henry. Always attentive to signs of decay, at 51 he claimed to be entering old age but was ready for a second breath, both for himself and his Church. That sermon, “The Second Spring,” is as poetic as homiletic, and could take its place in the annals of free verse as one of its most lyrical samples.

The occasion was the gathering of the First Provincial Synod of Westminster, when the Catholic episcopate had been restored, and hope was mingled with a quality of caution, for the road ahead was not straight and smooth and there were no sureties of rest along the way. That is why Newman took the temperature of the times:

Have we any right to take it strange, if, in this English land, the spring-time of the Church should turn out to be an English spring, an uncertain, anxious time of hope and fear, of joy and suffering,—of bright promise and budding hopes, yet withal, of keen blasts, and cold showers, and sudden storms?

The same might be preached today, in this peculiar period when the Church seems as conflicted as our nation, for the issues at hand have never been greater and the commentaries on them both in Church and State are almost burlesque in their shallowness and venality. Napoleon called China a sleeping giant and various sources have said the same of the Catholic Church. During the present election season, fevered as it is with unprecedented bitterness and banality, the Church could almost pass as a giant more comatose than slumbering.

If anything has stirred the Church, rusty when urban and flaccid when suburban, it has been the discovery of documents revealing cynical attempts by political strategist to subvert and suborn the institution, stripping her of supernatural credentials to become a tool of the State, like the Gallican Church of the French Revolution. Leaked emails from February 10-11, 2012 record exchanges entitled “Opening for a Catholic Spring?” between the current manager of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, John Podesta, and Sandy Newman, president of a political action group called Voices for Progress. Sandy Newman is certainly no heir to John Henry Newman nor are his visions of Spring like those of the Second Spring preached at Oscott. For Sandy Newman, “There needs to be a Catholic Spring in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church.” The mandate for contraception coverage in medical plans might be a rallying point to “plant the seeds of the revolution.”

How Victorian! Accusing the Catholic Church of being medieval! 

Gentlemen, the Catholic Church is ancient; we are one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Podesta and this Newman may think they are sophisticated and brilliant strategists, planning the infiltration of the Catholic Church, but they should look up Julian the Apostate, Napoleon Bonaparte, and a few others along the long history of the Church and see how well they fared in their attempts.

As Father Rutler concludes:

So there we are at this crossroads of culture and, more than that, of civilization itself. Two Newmans proffer two Springtimes and they are not occasional variations of a common climate. Our nation has endured recent years of eroding faith and moral reason. It cannot endure several years more in the confidence that the erosion can be reversed as though it were just the habit of a cyclical season. There is a better prospect, but it is possible only if Catholics assent to the lively oracles of the Gospel and cast their votes and vows against those who are against it. The Newman who is blessed saw a Catholic Spring in the pulpit at Oscott that is not the clandestine plot of e-mails:
I listen, and I hear the sound of voices, grave and musical, renewing the old chant, with which Augustine greeted Ethelbert in the free air upon the Kentish strand. It comes from a long procession, and it winds along the cloisters. Priests and Religious, theologians from the schools, and canons from the Cathedral, walk in due precedence. And then there comes a vision of well-nigh twelve mitred heads; and last I see a Prince of the Church, in the royal dye of empire and of martyrdom, a pledge to us from Rome of Rome’s unwearied love, a token that that goodly company is firm in Apostolic faith and hope.
The photograph above is of the shrine Father Rutler installed in his former parish in New York, the Church of the Saviour. I certainly hope it is still there (the succeeding pastor made some changes). I took this picture in 2011 and so it is (c) Stephanie A. Mann.

Tomorrow, On the Son Rise Morning Show

Anna Mitchell and I will discuss the martyrdom in chains of St. Philip Howard tomorrow morning on the Son Rise Morning Show a little after 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central. Please listen live or find the podcast in due time here.

It's so appropriate that we call St. Philip a martyr in chains, meaning that he died in prison, held there for his Catholic faith, because he was part of a chain--a link in a chain of martyrs. It was because of the example of St. Edmund Campion, the great Jesuit martyr that St. Philip became a Catholic; it was through the solace of St. Robert Southwell, the great Jesuit poet and martyr, that he was able to endure his imprisonment, as I explain in this post on my blog at the National Catholic Register:

The story of St. Philip Howard’s sanctification and martyrdom is inextricably linked with the mission and death of two Jesuit martyrs of the English Reformation era: St. Edmund Campion and St. Robert Southwell. . . .

Philip Howard, Edmund Campion, and Robert Southwell were all canonized together in 1970 by Pope Paul VI among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. After enduring affliction in this life, they are experiencing glory with Christ in Heaven.

Read the rest there, please.

St. Philip Howard, pray for us.
St. Edmund Campion, pray for us.
St. Henry Walpole, pray for us.
St. Robert Southwell, pray for us.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Review of "Reformations"

For First Things, Eamon Duffy reviews a new survey of the history of the Reformations of "The Early Modern World, 1450-1650" by Carlos M.N. Eire (Yale University):

Eire is one of America’s most distinguished historians of early modern religion, and his absorption of the newer historiography is proclaimed in the fact that his book is entitled Reformations, in the plural. His book “accepts the concept of multiple Reformations wholeheartedly,” and seeks to deepen the concept by paying equal attention “to all the different movements and churches that emerged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, stressing their interrelatedness.” The ambition to present a synoptic account of the multiple sixteenth-century movements for religious “reform,” Catholic and Protestant, has led some historians to search for a single interpretative framework for the reform impulse, to suggest that fundamental similarities underlay sixteenth-century religious reform wherever it occurred. So, the French Catholic historian Jean Delumeau proposed that we should understand both the emergence of Protestantism and the transformation of Catholicism after Trent as twin aspects of a process of “Christianization.” On this account, both Catholic and Protestant reformers labored to replace the inherited half-pagan folk religion of late medieval Europe with something more authentically Christian, focused on the person of Christ rather than often legendary saints, prioritizing orthodox catechesis and preaching over quasi-magical ritual, and imposing religious and moral discipline on a reluctant populace.

Rejecting the negative judgments implicit in Delumeau’s notion of “Christianization,” the English historian John Bossy, himself by upbringing and education a Catholic, offered a rather less benign overarching analysis of the Catholic and Protestant reformations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The central contention of Bossy’s short but scintillating Christianity in the West was that medieval Christianity had been fundamentally concerned with the creation and maintenance of peace in a violent world. “Christianity” in medieval Europe denoted neither an ideology nor an institution, but a community of believers whose religious ideal—constantly aspired to if seldom attained—was peace and mutual love. The sacraments and sacramentals of the medieval Church were not half-pagan magic, but instruments of the “social miracle,” rituals designed to defuse hostility and create extended networks of fraternity, spiritual “kith and kin,” by reconciling enemies and consolidating the community in charity.

Duffy notes that Eire takes a different view; please read the rest there.  

Note the significance of the dates: as Yale UP says: "from Gutenberg’s printing press and the subsequent revolution in the spread of ideas to the close of the Thirty Years’ War. "

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Virtual Iconoclasm

Next year, Christians will be observing the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. There is a tremendous debate about how this anniversary should be marked. Protestants may celebrate it, but I don'd think a Catholic should--and ultimately an event that stands in the way of Our Savior's prayer the night before He suffered--"That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17: 21 Douai-Rheims)--is not something to rejoice about.

But in Estonia, a museum has developed an odd way to remember one aspect of the Protestant Reformation: the destruction of images. The UK Daily Mail tells  and illustrates the story:

A new exhibit at the National Museum of Estonia which invites visitors to desecrate an image of the Virgin Mary has sparked outrage in some quarters of the Christian community.

The virtual image is projected on a screen in a glass case - and remains intact until a 'smash' zone is kicked at the base of the installation.

This causes the sacred statue to shatter and is replaced by the word, 'Reformation' - after which the exhibit resets itself.

It is intended to celebrate the Protestant Reformation in the historically Lutheran nation.

I have not seen a Catholic response (Catholics are in the minority in Estonia), but not even the Lutherans like it:

Urmas Viilma, the Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, said it insults the feelings of believers.

'I very seriously doubt that this exhibit is suitable for the permanent collection of the National Museum of Estonia, even if it is interesting from a technical point of view or from the perspective of modern approach to the depiction of historical events,' he wrote on Facebook.

He further noted that for a 'huge number of believers,' the Virgin Mary is 'not some historical figure or event, gone into oblivion, but a reality today.'

From the Raccolta, an Act of Reparation to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Most glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, turn thine eyes in pity upon us, miserable sinners; we are sore afflicted by the many evils that surround us in this life, but especially do we feel our hearts break within us upon hearing the dreadful insults and blasphemies uttered against thee, O Virgin Immaculate. O how these impious sayings offend the infinite Majesty of God and of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ! How they provoke His indignation and give us cause to fear the terrible effects of His vengeance! Would that the sacrifice of our lives might avail to put an end to such outrages and blasphemies; were it so, how gladly we should make it, for we desire, O most holy Mother, to love thee and to honor thee with all our hearts, since this is the will of God. And just because we love thee, we will do all that is in our power to make thee honored and loved by all men. In the meantime do thou, our merciful Mother, the supreme comforter of the afflicted, accept this our act of reparation which we offer thee for ourselves and for all our families, as well as for all who impiously blaspheme thee, not knowing what they say. Do thou obtain for them from Almighty God the grace of conversion, and thus render more manifest and more glorious thy kindness, thy power and thy great mercy. May they join with us in proclaiming thee blessed among women, the Immaculate Virgin and most compassionate Mother of God.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

St. Richard Gwyn, Welsh Schoolmaster and Martyr

Today, in Wales, The Latin Mass Society is honoring St. Richard Gwyn with a Missa Cantata and veneration of relics.

In 2011, The Catholic Herald featured St. Richard Gwyn as the Saint of the Week on its website. He put up quite a fight against the Elizabethan authorities who tried to force him to worship as the state dictated:

Richard Gwyn (1537-1584) was a victim of Queen Elizabeth I’s persecution of Catholics, conducted with increasing intensity after 1581.

Born in Llanidloes in central Wales, Gwyn matriculated at Oxford before removing swiftly to Cambridge where, at St John’s, he lived by the charity of Dr Bullock, the college’s Catholic Master.

After the death of Queen Mary in 1558, however, Bullock refused to take the oath of supremacy administered by Elizabeth’s government and was ejected from the Mastership.

Gwyn fled to the continent, spending some time at Douai. Around 1562 he returned to Wales and for the next 16 years worked as a schoolmaster, mainly in Wrexham and Overton. He was much loved, not merely for his excellence and dedication as a teacher, but also for “other good partes known to be in him”. . . .

When his persecutors laid him in heavy shackles before the pulpit of a Protestant church in Wrexham Gwyn “so stirred his legs that with the noise of his irons the preacher’s voice could not be heard”.

Placed in the stocks as a punishment, he was taunted by an Anglican priest who claimed to possess the keys of the Church as surely as St Peter did. “There is this difference,” Gwyn riposted, “namely that, whereas Peter received the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, the keys you received were obviously those of the beer cellar.”

Indicted for high treason, Gwyn was eventually condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered at the Beast Market in Wrexham in October 1584. “I have been a jesting fellow,” he told the crowd from the scaffold, “and if I have offended any that way, or by my songs, I beseech them for God’s sake to forgive me.”

The execution was hideously bungled, so that Gwyn remained conscious throughout his disembowelment. His last words, in Welsh, were: “Iesu, have mercy on me.”

It is clear that he did nothing to oppose the reign of Elizabeth I but practice his Catholic faith. For that he was harassed, mistreated, tortured, and brutally executed. As a beloved teacher, his Catholicism made him liable for accusations of trying to bring pupils or families to the Catholic faith. Wikipedia has these details about his trial:

Richard Gwyn, John Hughes and Robert Morris were indicted for high treason in 1583 and were brought to trial before a panel headed by the Chief Justice of Chester, Sir George Bromley. Witnesses gave evidence that they retained their allegiance to the Catholic Church, including that Gwyn composed "certain rhymes of his own making against married priests and ministers" and "[T]hat he had heard him complain of this world; and secondly, that it would not last long, thirdly, that he hoped to see a better world [this was construed as plotting a revolution]; and, fourthly, that he confessed the Pope's supremacy." The three were also accused of trying to make converts.

Despite their defences and objections to the dubious practices of the court Gwyn and Hughes were found guilty. At the sentencing Hughes was reprieved and Gwyn condemned to death by hanging, drawning and quartering.

His relics are venerated and he is remembered at Cathedral Church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Wrexham, which will celebrate his feast tomorrow with Mass at 3:00 p.m., with two schools in Wales named for him. Mary's Dowry has produced a documentary of his life and death. While he was executed on October 15, his memorial is observed in Wales on October 17, since St. Teresa of Avila's memorial is on October 15.