Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31st: Margaret Beaufort, Patron and Regent

Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, grandmother and regent of Henry VIII and patron of St. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was born on this day in 1443. She founded two colleges at the University of Cambridge, Christ's and St. John's and chairs of divinity at both the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. She also served briefly as regent for Henry VIII after his father died and before his 18th birthday, dying on June 29, 1509, just after the coronations of Henry and Catherine of Aragon.
Margaret was married four times and lived apart from her fourth husband after taking a vow of chastity. She is usually pictured at prayer or holding a prayer book, as in the portrait above. Nevertheless, when Bishop Fisher preached her funeral sermon, he emphasized her role as a Martha rather than as a Mary, because of her good works and efforts. He served as one of the executors of her will.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Reginald Pole and the Fires of Faith

When I was in Oxford last summer--see my Picasa album on the Contact/Events tab of my website--I also enjoyed shopping at Blackwell's where I purchased Eamon Duffy's Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor before it was available in the USA. I read it in my "study bedroom" in Christ Church's Canterbury Quad and finished it on the flight home. My review of the book, posted here today apropos the vigil of the anniversary of Margaret Pole's execution, notes that although "Mary Tudor" is the name in the subtitle, the program of restoration and reform Duffy analyses was really the work of Reginald Cardinal Pole, the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, and the martyr's son:

The brief reign of Mary I has hitherto been regarded as an anomaly in the steady progress of England in the Whig mythology of British history. It's considered a throwback to the Middle Ages, a dark time of superstition and tyranny, illuminated only by the fires of Smithfield and Oxford. Eamon Duffy sets out to revise this view, dealing with at least five major misconceptions about Catholic England under Mary I:

1). Papal Legate and Archbishop of Canterbury Reginald Pole was not that involved with the restoration of Catholicism, he did not agree with the policy of burnings, and did not encourage preaching enough.

Often this is held because Pole refused the assistance of the Jesuits in England. As Duffy notes, Pole had a different program of renewal planned from the Jesuit program. John Foxe actually minimized Pole's culpability in the heresy trials, but Pole was ultimately in charge of them. As Legate and Archbishop, Duffy demonstrates, Pole certainly encouraged preaching, preaching himself or preparing sermons for publication.

2). Pole and Mary ignored opportunities for propaganda against protestants, especially missing out on preaching or controlling the situation at the burning of heretics.

Duffy answers this charge by emphasizing how the new regime took advantage of Northumberland's speech on the scaffold before his execution. The leader of the plot to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne admitted his errors in continuing the protestant reformation under Edward VI and repented, having reverted to Catholicism. Duffy also notes that Pole was very much concerned with guiding popular opinion at the burnings, with preachers there to admonish both the heretics and any in the crowd who might share their errors.

3). The campaign of burnings did not work; the crowds shared the protestant cause of the victims in part because of their revulsion against the cruelty of the judges and the executions.

The judges did all they could to avoid condemning most laymen and women to the stake. The regime had to deal with the leaders of protestantism directly, although Duffy absolutely regrets the execution of Cranmer, surely an act of revenge by Mary for the sufferings he caused her and her mother. John Foxe's Book of Martyrs is the culprit here; a biased and untrustworthy volume, it is usually accepted on face value. For instance, Duffy notes that Latimer never told Ridley to "play the man"--Foxe is paraphrasing Polycarp, martyr of the early Church.

Duffy contends that the campaign to extirpate the protestant heresy from England was working. It only ended because Mary and Pole died. Our 21st century moral standards aside (based on a marvelous record of genocide, world wars, communist and totalitarian tyranny, abortion, etc), Duffy reminds us that the purpose of history is to understand that other country, the past, not to impose our standards upon it. If the purpose of history is the latter, Elizabeth I should be called "Bloody Bess" because torture, hanging, drawing and quartering are not humane ways of dealing with recusancy and dissent either.

4). All the regime had was this negative campaign to impose Catholicism on the people.

Duffy here answers with a culmination of facts: the regime did mount a preaching campaign, a catechetical campaign, a publishing program, and a reforming plan. This judgment is usually based on the hindsight that the reign lasted only five years. But Duffy reminds us that Mary and Pole did not know that they only had five years! They lived life as we do, in the present, ignorant of the future. They had a plan; death and Elizabeth cut its accomplishment short.

5). The restoration of Catholicism under Mary I was out-of-date, ignoring Counter-Reformation guidance of the Council of Trent.

This is backwards, contends Duffy: The restoration of Catholicism in England under Mary I set Counter-Reformation standards of the Council of Trent. Pole's efforts were models for Charles Borromeo, the great reforming Cardinal Archbishop of Milan. Marian England set the standards of seminary training, bishops in residence, the catechism of the Council of Trent, the use of tabernacles in churches, etc. Pole turned around the failure of the bishops under Henry VIII to uphold the unity of the Church and the primacy of the pope. Remember that only bishop, John Fisher, stood up against Henry's power grab. When Mary and Pole died and Elizabeth I succeeded, only one bishop submitted to her religious settlement. The rest declared their belief in transubstantiation, the Sacrifice of the Mass, the primacy of the pope and the unity of the Church--therefore they were removed from office and either went into exile or died in prison.

In summary: Mary and Reginald Pole left a legacy of brave men and women who remained true to their faith, setting up seminaries abroad and returning missionary priests to serve the recusant laity. The campaign against heresy was working in Marian England; the reform efforts of Pole and his bishops were following his plan of renewal. Duffy marshals documentary evidence and clear reasoning to establish their success and true legacy, contra the received opinion of Whiggish historians.

Duffy does not treat all aspects of Marian Catholicism, however. He does not address the material refurnishing of churches, the limited refoundation of monastic orders, or other administration type details. Well illustrated with excellent notes and bibliography: Highly recommended.

On the Air Again, Just Can't Wait to Get on the Air Again . . .

I'll be talking to Brian Patrick early Friday morning, May 28 on The Son Rise Morning Show! At 6:45 a.m. Central/7:45 a.m. Eastern he and I will discuss Blessed Margaret Pole, the mother of Reginald Pole, featured in today's other post. Tune in on your local EWTN station!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Of Secret Treaties and Promises to Convert

Kings Charles II of England and Louis XIV of France met in Dover, England on May 26, 1670 to sign the secret Treaty of Dover. Charles promised to support Louis in the French king’s war of conquest against William of Orange in Holland and even to become a Roman Catholic, while Louis promised financial support so that Charles could pay for his part in the war with Holland without Parliament.

In Supremacy and Survival, I note how the connections and engagements between the House of Stuart and the Catholic kings of France and Spain made the Protestants—particularly the Puritans—nervous and doubtful about Stuart loyalty to the Church of England. I reference J.P. Kenyon’s The Popish Plot, in his consideration of why the ruling classes of England were still so concerned about Catholics in their country and therefore so ready to believe Titus Oates’ perjury.

1. At the beginning of his reign, James I wanted to hold an ecumenical council with the Pope! He also negotiated a treaty with Spain for his son and heir Charles to marry the Infanta. That treaty, like the one eventually signed when Charles married Henrietta Maria of France, sister of King Louis XIII, allowed the foreign bride to remain a Catholic, to have priests at Court as her chaplains and confessors, and to have a chapel in which to worship—and even promised leniency to Catholics.

2. Charles I indeed allowed his wife that freedom and members of his Court were often concerned that his uxoriousness might lead him to become Catholic. Henrietta Maria was a devout Catholic, processing to Tyburn Tree to honor the Elizabethan and Jamesian martyrs, refurbishing her chapel in the latest baroque style, and attracting converts. The presence of the Capuchin friars and the celebration of Catholic Mass shocked and disturbed Anglican courtiers. When Parliament was not in session, Charles indeed showed leniency to Catholic priests and Henrietta Maria often pled for clemency. Parliament indicted her for treason during the Civil War and she fled the country for exile in France.

3. Charles II returned to England in 1660 in the security of the re-established Church of England, the Book of Common Prayer, the Authorized Version of the Bible, and the monarchy. He married a Catholic princess, however, Catherine of Braganza, and refused to divorce her even though she bore him no sons. He treated her as well as possible considering his rampant infidelity, maintaining both Protestant and Catholic mistresses—thus the occasion when Nell Gwynn called out to the crowds jostling her carriage, “Good people, I am the Protestant whore!” If Charles’s cabinet had known what he had agreed on this day in 1670, they would have been stunned. Although they did not know about the Treaty of Dover (no one did until the 19th century), they knew that Charles attempted to extend freedom from the penal laws to Catholics in his Declaration of Indulgence in 1672. Imagine their surprise when they discovered that he had converted on his deathbed.

4. Years of Charles II’s reign were taken up in the Exclusion Crisis—the effort of Parliament to prevent the succession of his brother, James, the Duke of York, who had become a Roman Catholic, along with his first wife, Anne Hyde. Charles had demanded his nieces continue their Anglican religious practices, so that there were two Protestant heirs in waiting. The fact that Charles continued to support his brother as his heir, even if James had to resign his position as Lord Admiral and go into exile, frustrated Parliament. And then Charles allowed James to remarry after Anne died—and marry another Catholic princess (Mary Beatrice of Modena)!

This Stuart track record of favoring or at least allowing a Catholic presence at Court, along with other historical circumstances (the endurance of Catholics in England and the success of the Catholic Counter-Reformation and Reformation on the Continent) led Parliament and the English people to accept whole-heartedly the fictitious Popish Plot. That background also contributed to their response to the news that the Catholic Queen of England had borne a healthy Catholic son thus displacing the king’s Protestant daughters in the succession.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Henry VIII in Hell? wonders Rowan Williams

Of course, it's an open question as Rowan Williams puts it. We don't know who is in Hell or if anyone is. It's better that we concentrate on who is in Heaven, who has gone before us in holiness. But it's just an interesting notion that the Archbishop of Canterbury wonders if the founder of the Church of England was saved by the prayers of a man condemned because he would not accept the king's majestic authority and control of the Church in England:

"If Henry VIII is saved (an open question perhaps) it will be at the prayers of John Houghton. If any persecutor is saved it is at the prayers of their victim. If humanity is saved, it is by the grace of the cross of Jesus Christ and all those martyrs who have followed in his path."

If we wonder where Elizabeth I is now, Heaven or Hell, would it be by the prayers of one or many of those Catholic priests so hideously tortured and executed during her reign that she enjoys paradise? Or Mary I, one of the victims at the stake (if they ever did utter such prayers)?

Archbishop also cites H.F.M. Prescott's novel, The Man on A Donkey, reflecting on Robert Aske hanging in chains from York Castle in his agony:

In one of the great historical novels of the twentieth century, Hilda Prescott's 'The Man on a Donkey' we follow the events around the Pilgrimage of Grace, events around the time, of course, of the martyrdoms we commemorate today. And towards the end of that extraordinary novel, we watch and listen to Robert Aske, the leader of the Pilgrimage of Grace, in his last anguished moments, hanging in chains from the Keep of the Castle in York: "God did not now nor would in any furthest future prevail. Once he had come and died. If he came again, again he would die, and again and so forever, by his own will, rendered powerless against the free and evil wills of men. Then Aske met the full assault of darkness without reprieve of hoped for light, for God ultimately vanquished was no God at all. But yet, though God was not God, as the head of the dung worm turns, so his spirit turned blindly, gropingly, hopelessly loyal, towards that good, that holy, that merciful - which though not God, though vanquished - was still the last dear love of a vanquished and tortured man."


"Robert Aske hangs in chains still, but (as Hilda Prescott Prescott's novel portrays it) a discovery has been made as he falls from level to level of despair and desire 'For now, yet with no greater fissure between then and now, and as a man's eyes are aware where no star was of the first star of night, now he was aware of One, vanquished God, Saviour who could as little save others as himself. But now, beside him and beyond, was nothing - and he was silence and light.'"

The Archbishop made these comments in his sermon on May 4, commemorating the Carthusian martyrs, an annual observance since 2004. This year was the 475th anniversary of their executions.
The entire sermon is an interesting meditation on the Cross of Christ standing at the center of the world.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Toleration, not Freedom of Religion

On May 24, 1689 Parliament passed an “Act for Exempting their Majesties Protestant Subjects dissenting from the Church of England from the Penalties of Certain Lawes” as part of the legislation enshrining the so-called Glorious Revolution. Obviously Catholics were not included in this law, and some Protestant dissenters, Quakers and Unitarians were also excluded.

This law did not establish religious freedom in England; there were still religious tests for holding government office. It did allow freedom of worship to Protestant dissenters who would swear an Oath of Supremacy and allegiance and deny Transubstantiation while assenting to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Quakers could not swear the oath; Catholics could not deny Transubstantiation, and Unitarians did not believe in the Trinity.

James II, before the invasion of England by William of Orange, had proposed not just toleration, but freedom of religion and liberty of conscience for both Catholics and dissenting Protestants. He had tried to force several bishops of the Church of England to read his toleration act from their pulpits, but they refused—because they did not think James would guarantee that the Church of England remained the established church. James was in the midst of working to elect a pro-indulgence Parliament when his son was born. The specter of a Catholic successor to the first Catholic monarch since Mary I—or, ever so briefly, Charles II who was received into the Church on his deathbed—was too much for some members of the nobility. A group of them invited William of Orange who arrived on November 5 (Guy Fawkes Day), 1688 (100 year anniversary of the Spanish Armada). William became king with his wife Mary, James II’s elder, ungrateful daughter as queen and Parliament set about ensuring that no Catholic would ever reign again, nor be married to a monarch.

Many Catholics fled to France with James, his wife Mary Beatrice of Modena and his infant son, James Francis Edward to live in exile as guests of Louis XIV at St. Germain-en-Laye. Catholics became an ever-dwindling minority in England, suspected for their involvement in Jacobite plotting to restore the Catholic Stuarts to the throne.

The Church of England, which might have sought protection from William and Mary, was actually weakened by the defection of the Non-jurors and by this act of toleration which did not include a statement of religious faith beyond the assent to the Trinity and the denial of Transubstantiation. To cite my own book (p. 115):

The Church of England had no control over who would be tolerated, since the religious test consisted of an oath of Loyalty to the Crown, not to any confession of faith, and involved no examination of doctrine or sacramental initiation.

It was not personal, but corporate; the Act of Toleration discounted the notion that Truth in religious doctrine mattered. It was legislation of what Newman called the "anti-dogmatic" spirit, of Liberalism in Religion!

Or, as Alister McGrath notes in his study of Protestantism, Christianity's Dangerous Idea, the Glorious Revolution and the Toleration Act "neutralized the power of religion in English public life" (p. 145). He also refers to the act's unintended consequence of not only granting the right to worship in Baptist or Congregationalist chapels but the right not to worship anywhere at all!

Eventually, the Church of England would be further reduced in power and influence by the Hanoverian dynasty’s latitudinarian and Whig religious policies when George I succeeded Queen Anne in 1714.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cranmer's Choices

On May 23 and 28, 1533, Henry VIII's new Archbishop of Canterbury first declared his master's marriage to Catherine of Aragon null and void and then his master's marriage to Anne Boleyn (which had taken place months ago on January 25) to be valid. These were the decisions Henry had sought from Pope Clement VII and for which he had determined to separate the Church in England from the universal Catholic Church and the authority of the pope.

Henry had asked Clement VII years ago for two decisions: one a reversal of the dispensation Pope Julius II had granted at the request of Henry VII so that Catherine of Aragon could marry his new heir, Henry, after Arthur, the Prince of Wales died. The crucial issue was that Catherine swore the marriage had not been consummated and there was no affinity barring her and Henry's marriage. Sometimes people use a shorthand reference to this issue and mistakenly say that the Church required consummation of the marriage for validity, but the real issue was affinity, sexual relations between in-laws. If Catherine and Arthur consummated their marriage, Catherine and Henry were then sister and brother and their marriage would be incestuous. Henry had developed a tender conscience that something was wrong with his marriage to Catherine since they had no surviving male children, and thus sought the reversal of the earlier papal decision.

Henry also had to petition the pope for a dispenstation FROM affinity because of his sexual relations with Mary Boleyn--otherwise he could not marry Anne Boleyn, her (his) sister!

The Papal curia granted the latter but could not grant the former. The negotiations with the curia were protracted. Henry at one point proposed that he and Catherine separate and retire to monasteries, but that he would need to leave the monastery and continue his work at King of England, which included providing a male heir, which of course required that he marry. Catherine would naturally remain in the cloister.

The death of Archbishop of Canterbury William Warham in August of 1532 gave Henry the opportunity to name Thomas Cranmer to that position. Cranmer was consecrated on March 30, 1533. Cranmer had to hide his wife since Henry was opposed to married clergy and he protested that of the two oaths he took, one to the Pope and the other to the King, he had to obey the second more than the first.

Having made these decisions on Henry's marital status in 1533, Cranmer would have to undo one of them on May 17, 1536. Then he declared Henry and Anne Boleyn's marriage null and void because of the affinity issue with Mary Boleyn! The dispensation Henry had sought and received from the pope before becoming Supreme Head and Governor of the Church in England was invalid, after all. The Catholic pope had no authority in such matters in England, even though the King of England had asked him.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Catholic Truth Society and Ignatius Press Collaborate

Last summer, during my week in the Oxford Experience, studying the Oxford Movement while staying in undergraduate lodgings at Christ Church, our class took a tour of Oxford Movement sites. We stopped in St. Aloysius, the Oxford Oratory after walking by the Martyr's Memorial, Blackfriars, and the Eagle and Child, on our way to Keble College.
The Oratory had a fantastic display of Catholic Truth Society (CTS) booklets and I bought several on a return visit. Here at home, I navigate to their website often to see the new releases and have placed a couple of orders.
Word comes now that Ignatius Press and CTS have launched a program to make some of those booklets more readily available in the USA, with Ignatius Press distributing a selection of them for parishes and retailers.
That's good news, even though it appears they may not offer some of the English heritage focused biographies and studies I'm most interested in.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Last Abbot of Westminster

In 1560, John Feckenham, the last Abbot of Westminster, was sent to the Tower of London on May 20th by Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury. Since the reign of Elizabeth I had begun, he had been “railing against the changes that have been made.” Feckenham had been in the Tower before because of his defense of Catholicism. Cranmer sent him there during Edward VI’s reign, although he was freed briefly to debate John Jewel and John Hooper. During the reign of Henry VIII, he had been at Evesham, a Benedictine house suppressed in 1540; he served a chaplain to bishops Bell and Bonner of Worcester and London, respectively until his imprisonment.

When Mary I succeeded her brother in 1553, he was released from the Tower. During her reign, Feckenham preached in London, served as Dean of St. Paul’s, assisted with the establishment of St. John’s and Trinity colleges in Oxford, and was the Queen’s confessor. He counseled Lady Jane Grey before her execution, hoping to convert her and he interceded for Elizabeth after the Wyatt Rebellion, preventing her execution and gaining her freedom. Feckenham engaged Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer in debate, but would not participate in their trial and execution.

He received a D.D. at Oxford in 1556 and was appointed Abbot at Westminster, one of the few monasteries re-established during Mary’s reign, restoring the shrine of St. Edward the Confessor.

When Elizabeth I came to the throne, she offered Feckenham security in his office if he took the Oath of Supremacy and conformed to the new Church of England (the Book of Common Prayer and Thirty-Nine Articles). Since he would not he was expelled from the abbey and for 14 years either held in the Tower or under house arrest as the “guest” of a Church of England bishop who would try to convert him without success. Feckenham prepared John Story (see the upcoming post on June 1) for his execution in 1571 in the Tower and was released on bail in July, 1574.

He was known to be gentle, courteous, and charitable, but proved himself, in the eyes of his bishop-jailers to be an absolutely obstinate papist (Catholic). In 1577, Feckenham was returned to the custody of the Bishop of Ely and was imprisoned in Wisbech Castle in 1580. He finally died there after 24 years of imprisonment on October 16, 1585.

Feckenham’s life certainly demonstrates his loyalty to the Catholic Church, his endurance and his efforts to minister to the people of England. As the last mitered Abbot to sit in the House of Lords, he argued against the religious settlement Parliament crafted at the beginning of Elizabeth I’s reign, and yet he was always known for his kindly temperament. Although he and Lady Jane Grey could not agree on religious matters, she was thankful for his support even at her execution and Elizabeth probably thought she was being as generous and tolerant as possible when offering him a sinecure at the cost of his conscience.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New view of Anne Boleyn

England's The Catholic Herald has published a review of a new book about Anne Boleyn by GW Bernard, Professor of Early Modern History at Southhampton University, titled Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions, from Yale University Press. The Herald's reviewer accepts some of Bernard's arguments--that Anne may indeed have been guilty of adultery; that Mark Smeaton was not tortured; that Anne was neither so politically important or supportive of Lutheranism. From the review it sounds like Bernard analyzes her library and concludes it indicates she was thoroughly, conventionally Catholic--which certainly contradicts the thesis of Paul Zahl in Five Women of the English Reformation (a book of slender intellectual pretension). In a way, Bernard's interpretation of Anne sounds more like that of Karen Lindsey in Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Re-Interpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII, in which Anne is the victim of Henry's sexual harrassment. As Alexander Lucie-Smith concludes in his review of Bernard's study: "In his portrait Anne is a frailer and in a strange way rather more likeable figure."

Don't forget that I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show tomorrow morning at 7:45 am Eastern;6:45 am Central--the Son Rise Morning Show is broadcast from Cincinnati, Ohio on the EWTN radio network.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

St. Simon Stock and Aylesford

May 16th is the memorial of St. Simon Stock, Carmelite, who died in Bordeaux, France in 1265. Before he became Secretary-General of the Carmelites he was at Aylesford in Kent, England. His relics are at Aylesford today after having been preserved in Bordeaux.
Of course, Aylesford was suppressed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and passed through many hands until the Carmelites bought it back in 1949. It has been renovated as a pilgrimage site and conference center including a gift shop and tea room, and offers many special events.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Son Rise Morning Show

Since April of 2009, I've talked to Brian Patrick on the air about an English martyr or a significant event in the history of the English Reformation every month. Once I discussed a martyr of Scotland with producer Matt Swaim. Next week I am going to talk to Annie Mitchell of the Son Rise Morning Show on May 19th about Anne Boleyn and her impact/influence on the English Reformation at 6:45 a.m. Central/7:45 a.m. Eastern. May 19 is the anniversary of her execution, and it is appropriate to discuss her role in Henry VIII's claim of supremacy over the Church in England and subsequent events. Broadcast and Podcast links are on my website.

In the meantime, don't forget to revew the fascinating narrative of Anne Boleyn's arrest, imprisonment, trial, and execution at Gareth Russell's blog.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cor ad Cor Loquitur, May 12, 1879

Pope Leo XIII made Father John Henry Newman a Cardinal Deacon with the titular church of St. George in Velabro on May 12, 1879 (131 years ago). There was some misunderstanding about the offer of the Cardinal’s hat to Newman as he did not want to/could not move to Rome as was the custom at that time (because of his age and failing health, and his work at the Oratory). The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Henry Manning, who did not always appreciate Father Newman’s efforts and talents, may or may not have intentionally contributed to the impression that Newman wanted to decline the honor (leaving out his concerns about staying in England). Newman’s bishop had to straighten things out quite a bit between Newman and Manning to get the right message back to Rome.

Pope Leo XIII honored Newman in spite of the fact, as he said, that so many told him that Newman was a liberal—also, Newman was not a bishop. He referred to Newman as “My Cardinal”. Many in England rejoiced at the news of Newman’s honor and he felt that the cloud of distrust and trouble had been lifted.

When receiving the letter or biglietto conferring the Cardinal’s hat, Newman gave his famous Biglietto Speech against the anti-dogmatic principle of Liberalism in religion, saying he had fought against it for thirty, forty, fifty years:

“Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith. Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither. They may fraternise together in spiritual thoughts and feelings, without having any views at all of doctrine in common, or seeing the need of them. Since, then, religion is so personal a peculiarity and so private a possession, we must of necessity ignore it in the intercourse of man with man. If a man puts on a new religion every morning, what is that to you? It is as impertinent to think about a man’s religion as about his sources of income or his management of his family. Religion is in no sense the bond of society.”

In the last decade of the last century, then Father Avery Dulles visited Newman University (then Kansas Newman College) to give a lecture on the anniversary of Newman joining the Catholic Church. Cardinal Dulles analyzed the pattern of Newman’s conversion and noted that at each stage (evangelical, Anglican, and Catholic) there was a common theme: Newman seeking the true teaching and true Church of Jesus Christ. He could not imagine the Christian religion without Truth—and that meant religion had content, doctrine, and authority. Robert Pattison’s The Great Dissent: John Henry Newman and the Liberal Heresy provides a tremendously comprehensive and provocative analysis of Newman’s constant attack on Liberalism in religion. Pattison says that Newman failed; Pope Benedict XVI, in beatifying him, says otherwise!

The Biglietto Speech of May 12, 1879 does indeed offer a summary of this aspect of Newman’s life and thought—and I believe that Newman’s call for champions to defend the Truth is one we should especially heed and act upon as we anticipate his beatification on Sunday, September 19th this year.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Newman and the Via Media

On the eve of the anniversary of Newman receiving word of his Cardinal's Hat, I've read indications that Venerable Newman is still a figure of controversy. The London Times recently printed an article by John Cornwell arguing that Pope Benedict XVI is trying to hijack the liberal Newman for his own conservative causes.

The problem with Cornwell or someone taking an opposite position is that Venerable Newman is NEITHER a Liberal NOR a Conservative. Those are political terms that have no place in any discussion about a man who searched for the TRUTH all his life long (sorry for the shouting, but I need to emphasize!). As I have read and studied Venerable Newman, I think he always found the third way, the way between extremes--not moderation, obviously, but not a position either on the left or on the right. When he was active in the Oxford Movement, he was seeking the via media; when he became a Catholic he was still seeking the via media.

As an example: when Ward was on one side and Acton on the other side of the First Vatican Council's debate on the issue of Papal Infallibility, Newman developed another position. Newman was neither as enthusiastic as Ward, who wanted a Papal Bull delivered with the The Times daily, nor as negative as Action, who was influenced by Dollinger. Although he had concerns about the timing and the impact of the doctrinal declaration, once it was accomplished he obeyed and even defended it!

The Catholic Herald has a much better analysis of Venerable Newman with a review of two excellent sources on his life and work. I have read the Roderick Strange volume and posted a review on; the Cambridge companion is on my stack. I agree with Jonathan Wright's quotation of Cardinal Avery Dulles' wisdom on studying Newman:

In his contribution to the Cambridge volume Avery Dulles offers some sage advice to those who want to understand the man: "To profit from Newman's wisdom we should not be content to quote statements from one or another of his works." That, Dulles argues, is a perilous pursuit because Newman was not a flawlessly systematic thinker and his ideas evolved over time.

We ought to read as much Newman as possible and, as Dulles concludes, "for those who have the patience to familiarise themselves with the full corpus of his writing, he is a teacher almost without peer".

Venerable John Henry Newman, pray for us!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Apology Accepted, Part Two

The Catholic Herald reports that the Foreign Office is following up to make sure another "foolish" memo doesn't hit the news--

An experienced diplomat is to take over the Foreign Office team which prepared a controversial memo for the Pope's visit to Britain.

George Edgar, a senior diplomat in his 50s, was appointed take over the team responsible for writing the memo that suggested the Pope open an abortion ward during his four-day visit to Britain in September.

His predecessor, Anjoum Noorani, 31, was at first moved sideways and later suspended for his role in the affair after senior Catholics put pressure on the Foreign Office for firmer action.

A spokesman for the Church welcomed the news, saying that it was a positive sign that the Foreign Office had chosen a senior diplomat who would be more sensitive to the issues at stake.

Tudor Propaganda at Cambridge

In last year’s December 19th issue of the Wall Street Journal, the back page of the Weekend section included a story on King’s College Chapel at the University of Cambridge. The author noted how the changes in the monarchy delayed and then jump-started its completion after Henry VI began construction in 1446. The delays are understandable when you remember that Edward IV murdered Henry VI and then Richard III usurped the throne, only to be vanquished in the battle of Bosworth Field. The late medieval kings of England were too busy fighting for the throne to finish building a chapel.

When Henry VII came to the throne, Carola Hicks, author of The King’s Glass: A Study of Tudor Power and Secret Art, says that it took him some time to realize the propaganda opportunities for his new dynasty in the chapel’s decoration. The Tudor founder aligned himself iconographically with the kings and prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament. After his father died, Henry VIII had to be advised by Cardinal Wolsey that, since he needed the support of the University of Cambridge in the matter of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, he had better finish what his father started—although the rapid succession of his queens throughout his reign sometimes made hard work for the artisans installing the stained glass. Anne’s out—Jane’s in; Anne’s out—Catherine’s in!

Wonderfully, King’s College Chapel survived Edward VI’s Calvinist Reformation, not to mention the English Civil War and the Interregnum rule of the iconoclastic Puritan Parliament and Oliver Cromwell. We are also fortunate that no one remodeled it, as the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris was during the reign of King Louis XIV when stained glass was not in style. The Gothic architecture so highly developed in the fan vaulting and perpendicular style would fall out of favor in England after the English Reformation, not to be revived until Pugin began his great work in the nineteenth century.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Apology Accepted

Sometimes the use of historical events or persons is a little weird. It’s like the event or person is so far out of the context that the original significance is lost. I have two examples in mind:

1) For some reason, a “diplomat” in the Foreign Office in England sent around a foolish memo of brainstormed ideas re: Pope Benedict XVI’s STATE VISIT (at the invitation of the Prime Minister and welcomed by Queen Elizabeth I), with a list of suggestions, all in poor taste. This memo included the notion that the pope should apologize for the Spanish Armada.


It failed! The Spanish lost!

Perhaps Queen Elizabeth II should apologize for her namesake’s lack of interest in the Battle of Lepanto, the great naval battle against the Turks the Spanish won. The Foreign Office apologized and the diplomat has been reassigned.

2) For even less reason, the Republican Governor’s Association has adopted Guy Fawkes as a heroic figure. “Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November” is being adapted (“Remember November”) as a motto for peaceful regime change in the mid-term general election.

The problem is that Guy Fawkes conspired to blow up Parliament and the royal family early in the reign of James I in a foolish plot by desperate Catholics to overthrow the government and lead an uprising in England—The Gunpowder Plot.

Oh—he failed. And because the Gunpowder Plot failed, things got a lot worse for Catholics in England. I don’t think that’s a parallel the politicians thought of!

The Foreign Office and the Republican Governor’s Association should investigate these historical analogies a little bit further before citing them. I can suggest a source of good information . . . .

Thursday, May 6, 2010

William Byrd and Playing Elizabeth’s Tune

The Tallis Scholars, directed by Peter Phillips, released a CD and DVD of William Byrd’s music in 2006 titled Playing Elizabeth’s Tune. The DVD includes performances of his music recorded in Tewkesbury Abbey. Then Charles Hazlewood explores the historical context of Byrd’s position as a Catholic musician serving Queen Elizabeth I, a Protestant queen persecuting his fellow Catholics. It is a very good presentation of the times and I enjoy the Tallis Scholars’ performances.

Another recording of William Byrd music I have really enjoyed contrasts his Catholic, Latin works with Thomas Tallis’ works for Protestant services in English. Stile Antico performs Byrd’s motets and Tallis’ psalm tunes alternating throughout the album, Heavenly Harmonies.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tyburn Tree and the English Martyrs

For the Memorial today of the English Martyrs, here is a fascinating poem by Francis Thompson (best known for “The Hound of Heaven”) on the English Martyrs, which I found on this blog:

RAIN, rain on Tyburn tree,
Red rain a-falling;
Dew, dew on Tyburn tree,
Red dew on Tyburn tree,
And the swart bird a-calling.
Thence it roots so fast and free,
Yet it is a gaunt tree,
Black as be
The swart birds alone that seek,
With red-bedabbled breast and beak,
Its lank black shadow falling.

The shadow lies on England now
Of the deathly-fruited bough,
Cold and black with malison
Lies between the land and sun;
Putting out the sun, the bough
Shades England now!

The troubled heavens do wan with care,
And burthened with the earth’s despair
Shiver a-cold ; the starved heaven
Has want with wanting man bereaven.
Blest fruit of the unblest bough!
Aid the land that smote you, now!
Which feels the sentence and the curse
Ye died if so ye might reverse.
When God was stolen from out man’s mouth,
Stolen was the bread; then hunger and drouth
Went to and fro ; began the wail,
Struck root the poor-house and the jail.
Ere cut the dykes, let through that flood,
Ye writ the protest with your blood ;
Against this night wherein our breath
Withers, the toiled heart perisheth,
Entered the caveat of your death.
Christ, in the form of His true Bride,
Again hung pierced and crucified,
And groaned, “I thirst!” Not still ye stood,—
Ye had your hearts, ye had your blood ;
And pouring out the eager cup,
“The wine is weak, yet, Lord Christ, sup !
“Ah, blest ! who bathed the parched Vine
With richer than His Cana-wine,
And heard, your most sharp supper past,
“Ye kept the best wine to the last !”

Ah, happy who
That sequestered secret knew,
How sweeter than bee-haunted dells
The blosmy blood of martyrs smells!
Who did upon the scaffold’s bed,
The ceremonial steel between you, wed
With God’s grave proxy, high and reverend Death ;
Or felt about your neck, sweetly,
(While the dull horde
Saw but the unrelenting cord)
The Bridegroom’s arm, and that long kiss
That kissed away your breath, and claimed you His.
You did, with thrift of holy gain,
Unvenoming the sting of pain,
Hive its sharp heather-honey. Ye
Had sentience of the mystery
To make Abaddon’s hooked wings
Buoy you up to starry things ;
Pain of heart, and pain of sense,
Pain the scourge, ye taught to cleanse ;
Pain the loss became possessing ;
Pain the curse was pain the blessing.
Chains, rack, hunger, solitude these,
Which did your soul from earth release,
Left it free to rush upon
And merge in its compulsive sun.
Desolated, bruised, forsaken,
Nothing taking, all things taken,
Lacerated and tormented,
The stifled soul, in naught contented,
On all hands straitened, cribbed, denied,
Can but fetch breath o’ the Godward side.
Oh to me, give but to me
That flower of felicity,
Which on your topmost spirit ware
The difficult and snowy air
Of high refusal ! and the heat
Of central love which fed with, sweet
And holy fire i’ the frozen sod
Roots that had ta’en hold on God.

Unwithering youth in you renewed
Those rosy waters of your blood,—
The true Fons Juventutis—ye
Pass with conquest that Red Sea,
And stretch out your victorious hand
Over the Fair and Holy Land;
Compasses about
With a ninefold-battled shout,
Trumpet, and wind and clang of wings,
And a thousand fiery things,
And Heaven’s triumphing spears: while far
Beneath go down the Egyptian war—
A loosed hillside—with brazen jar
Underneath your dreadful blood,
Into steep night. Celestial feud
Not long forbears the Tudor’s brood,
Rule, unsoldered from his line,
See unto the Scot decline ;
And the kin Scots’ weird shall be
Axe, exile and infamy ;
Till the German fill the room
Of him who gave the bloody doom.
Oh by the Church’s pondering art
Late set and named upon the chart
Of her divine astronomy,
Though your influence from on high
Long ye shed unnoted! Bright
New cluster in our Northern night!
Cleanse from its pain and undelight
An impotent and tarnished hymn,
Whose marish exhalations dim
Splendours they would transfuse! And thou
Kindle the words which blot thee now,
Over whose sacred corse unhearsed
Europe veiled her face, and cursed
The regal mantle grained in gore
Of Genius, Freedom, Faith and More!

Ah, happy Fool of Christ ! unawed
By familiar sanctities,
You served your Lord at holy ease.
Dear Jester in the Courts of God !
In whose spirit, enchanting yet,
Wisdom and love, together met,
Laughed on each other for content !
That an inward merriment,
An inviolate soul of pleasure
To your motions taught a measure
All your days ; which tyrant king,
Nor bonds, nor any bitter thing
Could embitter or perturb ;
No daughter’s tears, nor more acerb,
A daughter’s frail declension from
Thy serene example, come
Between thee and thy much content.
Nor could the last sharp argument
Turn thee from thy sweetest folly ;
To the keen accolade and holy
Thou didst bend low a sprightly knee,
And jest Death out of gravity
As a too sad-visaged friend ;
So, jocund, passing to the end
Of thy laughing martyrdom,
And now from travel art gone home
Where, since gain of thee was given,
Surely there is more mirth in heaven !

Thus, in Fisher and in thee,
Arose the purple dynasty,
The anointed Kings of Tyburn tree ;
High in act and word each one.
He that spake and to the sun
Pointed—”I shall shortly be
Above yon fellow.” He too, he
No less high of speech and brave,
Whose word was : “Though I shall have
Sharp dinner, yet I trust in Christ
To have a most sweet supper.” Priced
Much by men that utterance was
Of the doomed Leonidas,
Not more exalt than these, which note
Men who thought as Shakespeare wrote.

But more lofty eloquence
Than is writ by poets’ pens
Lives in your great deaths : O these
Have more fire than poesies !
And more ardent than all ode
The pomps and raptures of your blood !
By that blood ye hold in fee
This earth of England ; Kings are ye,
And ye have armies Want, and Cold,
And heavy judgements manifold
Hung in the unhappy air, and Sins
That the sick gorge to heave begins,
Agonies, and Martyrdoms,
Love, Hope, Desire, and all that comes
From the unwatered soul of man
Gaping on God. These are the van
Of conquest, these obey you ; these,
And all the strengths of weaknesses,
That brazen walls disbed. Your hand,
Princes, put forth to the command,
And levy upon the guilty land
Your saving wars ; on it go down,
Black beneath God’s and heaven’s frown ;
Your prevalent approaches make
With unsustainable Grace, and take
Captive the land that captived you ;
To Christ enslave ye and subdue
Her so bragged freedom : for the crime
She wrought on you in antique time,
Parcel the land among you : reign,
Viceroys to your sweet Suzerain 1
Till she shall know
This lesson in her overthrow :
Hardest servitude has he
That’s gaoled in arrogant liberty ;
And freedom, spacious and unflawed,
Who is walled about with God.

Holy Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us!

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 4 Radio Interview

If you wish to listen to my radio interview tomorrow morning discussing the Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales on their memorial, please visit my website for links to Sacred Heart Radio in Cincinnati and to The Son Rise Morning Show blog, where they post podcasts after the show airs. Just click on the Contact/Events tab. (Please note there are also links for ordering Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation if your local bookstore does not carry it!) Also, if you subscribe to The Catholic Answer magazine, my article on the English Martyrs is on-line from the January/February 2010 issue.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Prelude to a Feast

In England and Wales, Tuesday, May 4th, is the Memorial of the Martyrs of England and Wales, which honors all those beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987 and canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

I will be on The Son Rise Morning Show Tuesday morning at 7:45 Eastern/6:45 Central to talk with Brian Patrick about this feast, focusing on the Carthusian priors martyred on May 4, 1535. These are the priors St. Thomas More saw from his cell in the Tower of London being led away to Tyburn for their executions for treason against Henry VIII. They had refused to swear the Oath of Supremacy and were thus drawn, hung, and quartered in their habits, including their hair shirts, which posed difficulties for their executioner. Thomas More had tried his vocation at the Charterhouse in London—these monks were renowned for their observance of the rule (there was certainly no corruption or laxity among them!). He remarked to his daughter Meg that the priors went as joyfully to their deaths as bridegrooms to their weddings! It was no accident that More saw them on their hurdles—this was a warning to him.

The rest of the Carthusians received ever more brutal sentences of execution—Henry VIII really wanted to make an example of them: some were hung and left to die of exposure (dehydration) and others were starved to death in prison, chained standing up in their cells. This blog (The Hermeneutic of Continuity) includes a post with pictures from a Carthusian chapter house depicting their martyrdoms.

The Carthusians of the Charterhouse of London:
· Saint John Houghton, prior of the London Charterhouse, executed at Tyburn, London, on May 4, 1535.
· Saint Robert Lawrence, prior of Beauvale Charterhouse, executed at Tyburn, London, on May 4, 1535.
· Saint Augustine Webster, prior of Axholme Charterhouse, executed at Tyburn, London, on May 4, 1535.
· Blessed Humphrey Middlemore, vicar of the London Charterhouse, executed at Tyburn, London, on June 19, 1535.
· Blessed William Exmew, procurator of the London Charterhouse, executed at Tyburn, London, on June 19, 1535.
· Blessed Sebastian Newdigate, choir monk of the London Charterhouse, executed at Tyburn, London, on June 19, 1535.
· Blessed John Rochester, choir monk of the London Charterhouse, exiled by the government to the Charterhouse of St Michael at Hull in Yorkshire, executed at York on May 11, 1537, by being hanged in chains from the city battlements until dead.
· Blessed James Walworth, choir monk of the London Charterhouse, exiled by the government to the Charterhouse of St Michael at Hull in Yorkshire, executed at York on May 11, 1537, by being hanged in chains from the city battlements until dead.
· Blessed William Greenwood, laybrother of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation in Newgate Prison, London on June 6, 1537
· Blessed John Davy, deacon, choir monk of the London Charterhouse, and two days later the deacon on June 8. 1537
· Blessed Robert Salt, laybrother of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation in Newgate Prison, London on June 9, 1537
· Blessed Walter Pierson, laybrother of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation in Newgate Prison, London on June 10, 1537
· Blessed Thomas Green (perhaps alias Thomas Greenwood), choir monk of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation in Newgate Prison, London on June 10, 1537
· Blessed Thomas Scryven, laybrother of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation in Newgate Prison, London on June 15, 1537
· Blessed Thomas Redyng, laybrother of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation in Newgate Prison, London on June 16, 1537
· Blessed Richard Bere, choir monk of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation in Newgate Prison, London on August 9, 1537
· Blessed Thomas Johnson, choir monk of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation in Newgate Prison, London on September 20, 1537
· Blessed William Horne, laybrother of the London Charterhouse, hanged, disembowelled, and quartered at Tyburn, London on August 4, 1540.

The next group includes the martyrs Pope Paul canonized on October 25, 1970. This list contains many famous names: St. Edmund Campion, St. Margaret Clitherow, St. Philip Howard, St. Robert Southwell, etc. On The Son Rise Morning Show, I have been discussing some of these saints on the anniversary of their martyrdoms. Actually, St. Margaret Clitherow, St. Anne Line, and St. Margaret Ward are all honored on a separate feast day on August 30th.

· Saint John Almond
· Saint Edmund Arrowsmith
· Saint Ambrose Barlow
· Saint John Boste
· Saint Alexander Briant
· Saint Edmund Campion
· Saint Margaret Clitherow
· Saint Philip Evans
· Saint Thomas Garnet
· Saint Edmund Gennings
· Saint Richard Gwyn
· Saint John Houghton
· Saint Philip Howard
· Saint John Jones
· Saint John Kemble
· Saint Luke Kirby
· Saint Robert Lawrence
· Saint David Lewis
· Saint Anne Line
· Saint John Lloyd
· Saint Cuthbert Mayne
· Saint Henry Morse
· Saint Nicholas Owen
· Saint John Payne
· Saint Polydore Plasden
· Saint John Plessington
· Saint Richard Reynolds
· Saint John Rigby
· Saint John Roberts
· Saint Alban Roe
· Saint Ralph Sherwin
· Saint John Southworth
· Saint Robert Southwell
· Saint John Stone
· Saint John Wall
· Saint Henry Walpole
· Saint Margaret Ward
· Saint Augustine Webster
· Saint Swithun Wells
· Saint Eustace White

These are the names of those beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 22, 1987. The martyrs are not as well known, but they are mostly priests who were executed for being present in England during the recusant era starting during Elizabeth I’s reign:

· John Adams
· Thomas Atkinson
· Edward Bamber
· George Beesley
· Arthur Bell
· Thomas Belson
· Robert Bickerdike
· Alexander Blake
· Marmaduke Bowes
· John Bretton
· Thomas Bullaker
· Edward Burden
· Roger Cadwallador
· William Carter
· Alexander Crowe
· William Davies
· Robert Dibdale
· George Douglas
· Robert Drury
· Edmund Duke
· George Errington
· Roger Filcock
· John Fingley
· Matthew Flathers
· Richard Flower
· Nicholas Garlick
· William Gibson
· Ralph Grimston
· Robert Grissold
· John Hambley
· Robert Hardesty
· George Haydock
· Richard Hill
· John Hogg
· Richard Holiday
· Nicholas Horner
· Thomas Hunt
· Thurstan Hunt
· Francis Ingleby
· William Knight
· Joseph Lampton
· William Lampley
· John Lowe
· Robert Ludlam
· Charles Meehan
· Robert Middleton
· George Nichols
· John Norton (martyr)
· Robert Nutter
· Edward Osbaldeston
· Anthony Page
· Thomas Palaser
· William Pike
· Thomas Pilcher
· Thomas Pormort
· Nicholas Postgate
· Humphrey Pritchard
· Christopher Robinson
· Stephen Rowsham
· John Sandys
· Montford Scott
· Richard Sergeant
· Richard Simpson
· Peter Snow
· William Southerne
· William Spenser
· Thomas Sprott
· John Sugar
· Robert Sutton
· Edmund Sykes
· John Talbot
· Hugh Taylor
· William Thomson
· Robert Thorpe
· John Thules
· Edward Thwing
· Thomas Watkinson
· Henry Webley
· Christopher Wharton
· Thomas Whittaker
· John Woodcock
· Nicholas Woodfen
· Roger Wrenno
· Richard Yaxley

Each of these lists could be used in a litany for private devotion (Saint John Houghton, pray for us; Saint Robert Lawrence, pray for us; Saint Augustine Webster, pray for us and so on). Thinking of the willingness of these priests to lay down their lives to serve the stricken Catholic people of England could be fruitful in this Year of the Priest. Another way to honor these men and women on their memorial is to be as true to the Catholic faith as they were. We may not have the opportunity to die for Christ, but we certainly must live for Christ. They did both and thus truly blessed.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Confessions of a Ci-Devant has begun a series of posts describing the events leading to the execution of Anne Boleyn on May 19, 1536. It will surely be fascinating to follow.