Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ireland and the English Reformation

A few books on my reading list right now: I heard about this first book on the EWTN radio show from Ireland, Celtic Connections, and have it on order from Neumann Press:

Ireland's Loyalty to the Mass by Father Augustine, O.M.Cap. “It is the Mass that Matters”. The persecution of Ireland for hundreds of years, reduced to the most important factor, was the prohibition of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by the Protestant rulers in England. The history of this brutal and monstrous suppression is carefully chronicled in this little book. “The Mass is the very means He has given us to enable us to join with Him, and to share with Him in the Sacrifice of the Cross. The Mass . . . is the very life of the Church, the secret of her holiness and vitality. No wonder that the spirits of darkness should have inspired the heretic with hatred for the Mass, for they know that when they strike at the Mass they strike at the heart of the Church” (From the book’s Introduction). A taste of the heretic’s hatred for the Mass is found in the famous “Oath” required for Irishmen by their English rulers: “I _________, abhor, detest, and abjure the authority of the Pope. . . . I firmly believe and avow that no reverence is due to the Virgin Mary, or to any other saint in heaven . . . . I assert that no worship or reverence is due to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or to elements of bread and wine after consecration, by whomsoever that consecration may be made . . . .” Ireland’s adherence to the Faith and passionate devotion to the Mass proved to the whole world that religion is not “the opium of the people,” but a tonic that gives them strength to support every torture, and face even “death all day long.” “Woodcut” illustrations, sewn signatures of 60 lb. cream paper, hardcover, 228 pages.

This book, from Four Courts Press:

This book presents a new interpretation of the state of the Irish Church before the Tudor reformations. Part I shows that the Irish Church, far from being in decline, enjoyed an upsurge in lay support before Henry VIII’s reformation. Part II shows how the Tudor reformations failed to address the pre-existing weaknesses of the Irish Church, while Cardinal Pole’s programme of Catholic restoration in Mary’s reign did not enjoy the time needed to do so. Instead, the problems of the Irish Church were exacerbated as Tudor policy in Ireland became increasingly militarist and expansionist. Under Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth, the English crown was able to demand degrees of outward conformity to its reformations, but it failed to convert the population to an acceptance of religious change. Without indigenous support, Elizabeth’s reformation foundered. In the face of the widespread continued attachment to Catholicism and the increasing political alienation from the Elizabethan regime, the established Church found its congregations haemorrhaging until by the early 17th century, the Church of Ireland was the custodian of ruined church buildings staffed by a skeleton-crew of mainly British-born pluralists.

Henry A. Jefferies is the head of history at Thornhill College, Derry, and visiting fellow at the Academy of Irish Cultural Heritages, University of Ulster

And this one, also from Four Courts Press:

The Irish martyrs covers 17 of the hundreds of bishops, priests, religious and laity, male and female, who died for their faith in the 16th and 17th centuries. This volume presents the findings of the Historical Commission set up by the diocese of Dublin to examine the evidence for the beatification of the seventeen.

Patrick Corish is emeritus professor of history, St Patrick's College, Maynooth.
Benignus Millett OFM, is librarian in the Franciscian Friary, Dun Mhuire, Killiney, County Dublin.

This book from Cambridge University Press, also looks interesting, but might be a little too focused for my needs to understand the Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation in Ireland:

This 2009 book explores the enforcement of the English Reformation in the heartland of English Ireland during the sixteenth century. Focusing on the diocese of Dublin - the central ecclesiastical unit of the Pale - James Murray explains why the various initiatives undertaken by the reforming archbishops of Dublin, and several of the Tudor viceroys, to secure the allegiance of the indigenous community to the established Church ultimately failed. Led by its clergy, the Pale's loyal colonial community ultimately rejected the Reformation and Protestantism because it perceived them to be irreconcilable with its own traditional English culture and medieval Catholic identity. Dr Murray identifies the Marian period, and the opening decade of Elizabeth I's reign, as the crucial times during which this attachment to survivalist Catholicism solidified, and became a sufficiently powerful ideological force to stand against the theological and liturgical innovations advanced by the Protestant reformers.

Here's a great review of James Murray's book, which identifies the crucial issue--why did the English government's imposition of its "Reformation" fail in Ireland during the Tudor dynasty?:

If the religious changes of early modern England continue to bedevil historians, the Reformation in Ireland presents an even greater complexity. On the one hand, certain points are clear and inarguable. Ireland, for one, did not get a Protestant Reformation but an English Protestant Reformation, imposed from above and by statute, and existing within a larger context of Tudor colonization and dispossession. And the Reformation of course, ultimately failed in Ireland, even as political and military conquest proceeded forward with violent effectiveness. But why and when precisely did this Reformation fail, particularly in the Pale, and can such terms as “success” and “failure” even be utilized to describe the sometimes conciliatory and often moderate religious policies enacted over the course of the sixteenth century? For that matter, how did enforcement of such policies actually proceed? And what role did political figures, and viceroys in particular, play in shaping religious policy, in relation to archbishops and ecclesiastics? In the last forty years, the most notable historians of early modern Ireland, including Brendan Bradshaw and Nicholas Canny, have weighed in on these questions, with lively if at times contentious results; building on this work, and these debates, is James Murray’s Enforcing the English Reformation in Ireland, an essential contribution based on original research that proposes a few convincing theories of its own.

Read the rest here.

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