Monday, October 29, 2012

The Martyrs of Douai in London

In the Archdiocese of Westminster in London, today is the feast of the Martyrs of Douai College which was transplanted from the Spanish Netherlands to London. According to the website for Allen Hall:

Between 1577, the date of the martyrdom of St Cuthbert Mayne, the college’s protomartyr, and 1680, the date of the execution of Thomas Thwing, the college’s last martyr, one hundred and fifty eight college members, priests and laymen, secular and religious, met with a martyr’s death.

Here is a list of the martyrs. More on the protomartyr, St. Cuthbert Mayne, here.

If all goes well, my husband and I will be in London today, riding the Chunnel from Paris!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Extraordinary Form in Paris

Today, the last Sunday of October, is the Feast of Christ the King on the calendar of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite. The feast was moved from the end of the post-Pentecost season to the end of the season of Ordinary Time (the last Sunday before Advent) by Pope Paul VI.

We intend, as of this writing, to attend Mass at St. Eugene-St. Cecile (photo credit: wikipedia commons). Just hope we make it on time, because Europe ends "Summer Time" on October 28! We will "fall behind" twice this year--once in October and again in November.

After Mass and lunch, we plan a visit either to the Basilica of St. Denis or to this museum, filled with casts from great churches and cathedrals.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Erasmus, the Renaissance, and England

Desiderius Erasmus was born on October 27, 1466. He traveled several times to England and met several prominent figures of the English Reformation period. More here.

Most appropriately, my husband and I have planned an excursion today to the Musee National de la Renaissance in the Montmorency chateau at Ecouen, a brief train ride from Paris' Gare du Nord.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Podcasts from "The English Reformation Today"

I wrapped up my radio series, "The English Reformation Today" on Radio Maria last Saturday, October 20. Podcasts of almost all the episodes are here--one broadcast took place during the network's fall pledge drive, so I suppose they have not posted it since Father Young and I talked about the program and the pledge drive in the first few minutes.

This was an interesting venture--the time commitment was pretty intense with at least two hours of prep for the one hour of broadcast. It was a rather different kind of radio program because I was basically telling a story--the story of the English Reformation of the 16th century and the effects of its aftermath on Catholics until the 19th century, with some highlights of the 20th and even 2lst centuries. If you listened to the program or the podcasts and liked them, please contact Radio Maria at and let the network know. I presume the programs will be repeated, but will try to find out more.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

T. B. Macauley Admires the Papacy

On the anniversary of Thomas Babington Macaulay's birthday on October 25 in 1800, it seems appropriate to quote his interesting words on the Catholic Church from a review of Ranke's History of the Popes.

Read the rest here.

Also on this date, in 1970, Pope Paul VI canonized the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jane Seymour, Henry's Rose without a Thorn

Henry VIII's "Rose without a thorn" and Edward VI's mother died in Hampton Court Palace on October 24, 1537--more here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Brief Hiatus

I won't have internet access for the next eight days, but I'll be back in November, perhaps with some new pictures of Paris (and London perhaps) as my husband and I take a long-planned for vacation. I've posted some highlights for important dates, but won't be updating or moderating comments. A bientot!

Today is the anniversary of Blessed Thomas Thwing's martyrdom during the Popish Plot--here's a link to his story.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Lecture Series and a Radio Interview

On November 2, 9 and 16, I will present a Film and Lecture Series at the Ladder, home of the Eighth Day Institute here in Wichita, Kansas:

From the 1534 Act of Supremacy proclaiming Henry VIII as Supreme Head and Governor of the Anglicans Ecclesiae to the late twentieth century revisionist interpretations of the English Reformation, the Church of England has occupied a fascinating and complex role in the history and heritage of Great Britain, and by extension of the British Empire, in even its former colony, the United States. This lecture and film series investigates the standard “Whig” interpretation of English history which placed the English Reformation in a timeline of progress, reform, and inevitability from the sixteenth century until the late twentieth century and its use as patriotic propaganda in the definition of “Englishness”. In juxtaposition to that view, the revisionist interpretation, with its popular roots in late eighteenth century histories by Lingard and Cobbett (and twentieth century contributions by Belloc and Hughes), controversially argues that the English Reformation was not so inevitable or so easily accomplished—and encountered heroic and enduring dissent.

November 2: The First Session includes an overview of the changing patterns of historical interpretation of the English Reformation, including academic and popular publications by A.G. Dickens, Christopher Haigh, and Eamon Duffy.

November 9: The Second Session examines By What Authority?, an historical novel published in 1904 by the former Anglican (son of an Archbishop of Canterbury!) and Catholic convert, Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, exemplifying the Catholic confessional view.
November 16: The Third Session includes a showing of the 1937 film Fire over England, starring Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Flora Robson, and Raymond Massey, which contrasts English freedom and tolerance with Spanish intrigue and persecution. It concludes by addressing the connections between history and propaganda, interpretation and art.
More information about the Eighth Day Institute, which is associated with Eighth Day Books, which just celebrated its 24th Anniversary!
Earlier this month, I recorded an interview with Ian Rutherford of Aquinas and More Catholic Goods (St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Thomas More) for his Behind the Counter Catholic Radio Show. We discussed the history of the English Reformation and its relevance to us today. It will air on Saturday, November 3.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Book Review: Father John Gerard's Memoir

As this author notes:

It is difficult to over-estimate the importance of the Elizabethan period in English history to the problems of our own times. In the sixteenth century, the English crown was determined to assert the authority of the State over the minds and hearts of all those within its borders. This was the essence of the war on the “old religion”, which insisted on the indissolubility of marriage, on the authority of the Pope in spiritual matters, and on the necessity of the Church for salvation.

This situation closely mirrors our own, as the various Western powers, in the name of a secular relativism controlled by the modern State, gradually restrict the rights of Catholics and other non-compromising Christians to express and live their Faith. With each passing year, there are more statements that Catholics are not allowed to say, more actions they are not allowed to perform, and more immoral policies they are forced to support.

For this reason, it is also difficult to overrate the decision of Ignatius Press to bring out a new edition of The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, written by John Gerard, SJ to describe the secret work of the Jesuits in England in the 16th and early 17th centuries. A generation ago, this account might have been read mainly out of historical interest; now it reads like a prophecy.

Even the Gunpowder Plot Society calls Father John Gerard, SJ, "one of the most fascinating of the Jesuit priests in England".

Reading his memoir of his time in England as a missionary priest, I can see why--and in this Year of Faith, he provides a magnificent example of absolute trust in the Providence of God. As Father Gerard hides, finds places for other priests to hide, wears disguises, works to convert fallen away Catholics and sympathetic Anglicans, he is always reliant on God's protection and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He describes his efforts to convince potential converts as never being his own successes, but inspired by the Holy Spirit. Father Gerard endures torture, experiences danger and discomfort, and enjoys comfort and safety, all with the same spirit of faith in God, love for the Church and the people he converses with, and hope that everything he does in the mission for the good of others will be rewarded with success. Father Gerard is even concerned for the wellbeing of the gaoler when he escapes from the Tower, doing all he can to divert blame from the man and his wife! He writes vividly and directly of his efforts and also of those who suffered martyrdom: St. Anne Line, Blessed Edward Oldcorne, St. Nicholas Owen, and several others. His memoir also highlights the Catholics who suffered fines and imprisonment, arrest and questioning, especially the many women who ran their households as safehouses and often yearned for the religious life (for which they had to go into exile, of course.

This Ignatius Press edition includes some excellent supporting material--an introduction by Father James V. Schall, SJ., footnotes, endnotes with more detail, and several appendices. Please note that I purchased this book; I recommend it highly.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Final Episode of The English Reformation Today

Today's program is the last in the series and I plan to address some historical details about the 20th century and some very recent events:

1) More converts, following the Oxford Movement pattern: from Gerard Manley Hopkins to J.R.R. Tolkien;
2) Beatifications and Canonizations of the English Catholic Martyrs: 1935, 1970 and 1987
3) Papal Visits: Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI
4) Newman's Beatification and the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

But, more importantly, I want to address the meaning and lessons of the English Reformation and what Catholics endured in its long aftermath--again, citing its relevance to us today. Why do we need to know about this story--how can we apply it to the situation of religious freedom and, even more generally, to living our Catholic lives today? In this new Year of Faith, the Catholic martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries are great examples of giving all for the faith, but the people who lived and died in the Faith, struggling, paying fines, enduring imprisonment, etc, are great confessors of the Faith, too. That's just one example--I'll have more!
If you have comments about what the history of the English Reformation means to us today, please call in to the program at 1-866-333-6279 or submit them to me on my facebook page for Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation. Thanks for listening!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Affliction in This Life; Glory with Christ in the Next

St. Philip Howard is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Philip was the earl of Arundel and Surrey and, although a Catholic, led a religiously apathetic life until his personal conversion, after which he was a zealous Catholic in the midst of Elizabethan England. Arrested by authorities, he was placed in the Tower of London in 1585 and condemned to death in 1589. The sentence was never carried out, and Philip languished in the Tower until his death at the age of thirty eight. Beatified in 1929, he was included among the English martyrs canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

Father William Weston, SJ brought the Earl of Arundel back to the practice of his faith and to the faithful love of his wife, Anne. Father Weston did not suffer martyrdom like his convert, but he was imprisoned so long in the Tower of London that he lost his sight--finally exiled after Elizabeth I died.

Anne (nee Dacre), the Countess of Arundel, survived her husband, took a vow of chastity, and struggled to raise their two children--all his possession were forfeit to Queen Elizabeth I.

The Earl wanted to see the son his wife had been pregnant with when he was arrested and confined in the Tower. Queen Elizabeth I said that he could if he would renounce his Catholic Faith. He sent her word to refuse that condition, regretting that he had only one life to sacrifice in the cause of his Faith. I wonder if that response gave the Queen pause.

More here and here. The dog pictured in the drawing above carried messages between St. Philip and St. Robert Southwell--and the artist has depicted St. Philip after carving the words: "The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next."

Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro. Arundell - 22 June 1587. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

John Taverner, RIP

The English composer John Taverner died on October 18, 1545 in Boston, England. According to this site, he was born in 1490 in South Lincolnshire, England :

John Taverner is considered the most important figure in English music of his time. His compositions exist in about 30 manuscripts that were copied over about a 100-year period, beginning around the late 1520s. It is believed that many of his works were lost; a good many others survive but in partial form, such as the Masses Mater Christi and Small Devotion, and the smaller-scale antiphons Ave Maria and Sub tuum praesidium. It is generally more accepted that Taverner's three (six-part) Festal Masses (Corona spinea, Gloria tibi Trinitas, and O Michael) rank with the greatest works of their kind up to that time. Taverner's contribution to the genre of the votive antiphon was also considerable, with Ave Dei patris filia, Gaude plurimum, and O splendor gloriae being among the most important.

Taverner was born most likely in south Lincolnshire, perhaps in the vicinity of Boston or Tattershall, around 1490. Nothing is known of his parents or early years. Some of his compositions -- Ave Dei patris filia and Gaude plurimum -- were discovered among manuscripts of Henry VIII, and there is evidence to suggest that they were written for the Chapel Royal. There is also ample reason to believe these compositions date from 1515-1525, the period during which some therefore believe he lived in London. It may thus be speculated with some good reason that the composer spent some time in London in the early part of the sixteenth century.

In 1524, Taverner became a clerk-fellow of the collegiate church choir of Tattershall. In November 1526, he took on the post of Master of Choristers at Cardinal College, Oxford. The composer wrote a number of works during his Oxford years, including his three Festal Masses, the Mass Sancti Wilhelmi, and Jesu Christe pastor, a votive antiphon. In fact, during this period and the Tattershall years that immediately preceded it -- that is, the period from 1520-1530 -- it is believed that Taverner composed the bulk of his music.

In 1527, Taverner became entangled in a scandal involving the dissident religionist John Clark, who was proselytizing for Lutheran theological ideas. It is believed that Taverner was ultimately exonerated of all charges, but he left the College in April 1530 anyway, owing to its decline following the English Reformation.

Taverner's whereabouts and activities over the next six years are unknown. He is mentioned among the new members of 1537 for the Corpus Christi Gild in Boston, Lincolnshire. The Gild listed the composer as having a wife when he was admitted to membership. Her name was Rose Parrowe, a widow from Boston, with two daughters.

In 1538, Taverner took on the position as agent for the Crown when he began working for Thomas Cromwell. Many music historians have depicted the composer's role during this period as that of a fanatic bent on the demise of various religious congregations and orders, owing to their loyalty to Rome. It appears, however, that Taverner was a compassionate advocate on behalf of those targeted by Cromwell to surrender possessions to the Monarchy. In January 1539, he wrote Cromwell a letter beseeching him to forego further efforts at forcing divestiture of the holdings of many of the religious houses in Boston. In 1540, he resigned from his duties as a Crown agent. The following year, Taverner became treasurer of the Corpus Christi Gild, remaining in that role for at least three years, after which Gild records ceased. In 1545, Boston became a borough, and Taverner served as an alderman there.

The details and interpretations of his activities with Lutheranism at Oxford and with Cromwell and the dissolution of the monasteries introduce some confusion in his career -- "many music historians have depicted the composer's role during this period as that of a fanatic bent on the demise" of the religious orders, yet he "was a compassionate advocate" for the religious houses of Boston? (Boston had houses of the Carmelite, Franciscan, Dominican, and Augustinian orders.) Another site mentions that John Foxe is the source of the "scandal involving the dissident religionist John Clark" but that Foxe may have had him confused with another Taverner at Cardinal College (Wolsey's College that Henry VIII took over and refounded as Christ Church). Don't forget that Wolsey had dissolved the Augustinian Priory of St. Frideswide to establish Cardinal College! As the patron saint of Oxford, her feast day is tomorrow, October 19. Seems like Taverner and his religious views are being used as religious propaganda.

What there is no confusion about is his status as composer. The Tallis Scholars' recording liner notes for a disc of some of his music proclaims him the greatest composer of his era, and the most influential:

There is little in the history of English composition to rival the extent of Taverner's influence on his successors. The development of the 'In nomine' repertoire is the most conspicuous evidence of this, a quite unparalleled event. Originally in a spirit of wanting to flatter Taverner by copying him, composers of every generation up to that of Purcell, and including Purcell himself, tested their contrapuntal techniques by basing music on the 'In nomine' section of the Benedictus of Taverner's Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas. Less well established is that his compositional method, for example in setting chant or developing themes, continued to be used throughout the remainder of the 16th century. It was perhaps to be expected that there would be some carry-through from Taverner's later style in which, by simplifying his lines and turning more to imitative writing, he looked towards the future (as shown, for example, in Byrd's three Masses. But his earlier more florid style was no less inspirational to his successors. To give one example, Robert White transferred Taverner's scoring and texture from the Credo of the Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas at 'Et incarnatus est' wholesale to the 'Sicut locutus est' section in his own six-voice Magnificat.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Death of An Exile

The English Catholic scholar, Father John Pitts, died on October 17, 1616. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Born at Alton, Hampshire, 1560; died at Liverdun, Lorraine, 17 Oct., 1616. He was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, where he remained, 20 March, 1578-1580. He was admitted to the English College, Rome, 18 Oct., 1581, ordained priest 2 March, 1588, became professor of rhetoric and Greek at the English College, Reims, proceeded M.A. and B.D. at Pont-à-Musson, Lic.D. at Trèves (1592), and D.D. at Ingolstadt (1595). After holding a canonry at Verdun for two years he was appointed confessor and almoner to the Duchess of Cleves, and held this position for twelve years. After her death his former pupil, the Bishop of Toul, appointed him dean of Liverdun. His chief work is the "Relationum Historicarum de rebus Angliæ", of which only one part, "De Illustribus Angliæ Scriptoribus", was published (Paris, 1619). The other sections, "De Regibus Angliæ", "De Episcopis Angliæ", and "De Viris Apostolicis Angliæ", remained in Manuscript at Liverdun. The "De Scriptoribus" is chiefly valuable for the notices of contemporary writers. On other points it must be used with caution, being largely compiled from the uncritical work of Bale. Pitts also published "Tractatus de legibus" (Trier, 1592); "Tractatus de beatitudine' (Ingolstadt, 1595); and "Libri septem de peregrinatione" (Dusseldorf, 1604).

His employer, the Duchess of Cleves, must have been Antonia or Antoinette of Lorraine, the second wife of John William, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg. She was one of the daughters of Charles III, the Duke of Lorraine and Claude of Valois, the second daughter of Henri II and Catherine de Medici.

Father John Pitts shows us another path for Catholic priests in exile from England during the recusant era--he did not return to England as a missionary priest but remained on the Continent. Father Pitts taught other English Catholics in exile as they prepared for ordination, served the French nobility, and wrote scholarly works, some of which were never published.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Burning Books and Remembering

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is often read as a story about censorship--yet censorship usually means that certain ideas may not be expressed. The Firemen in Bradbury's dystopia burn ALL books--it's the media that's marked for destruction, not necessarily the message. Books symbolize a way of thinking, trying to understand, wanting to communicate, publishing to preserve knowledge that those in control could not allow. They replaced books with mindless entertainment--big screen walls and faux-interactive "reality shows". As Bradbury said, "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." Behind Bradbury's book is a whole idea of culture--the kind of culture represented by books and education but also by the world Clarisse tells Montag about. She and her family are trying to hold on to a life of thinking and talking about ideas and loving nature--sitting on front porches in rocking chairs enjoying a garden. Montag doesn't recognize that world at all. His wife Mildred is totally absorbed in the meaningless imagery of The Family--yet she cannot even tell him what happens during a day of sitting in a room with three wall screens (which is not enough for her--she demands the fourth wall be covered with a screen). There is nothing permanent in this entertainment; it numbs the brain as much as Mildred's sleeping pills numb her body. And then the war comes and the city is pulverized.

There are two passages in the novel that, not surprisingly, reminded me of the issues of the English Reformation. One is very obvious: Mrs. Hudson, immolating herself among her books, quoting the famous statement of Bishop Latimer to Bishop Ridley: "Be of good comfort, and play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." (Our source for this is Foxe's Acts and Monuments, in a later edition, after the first edition indicated that no one knew about either man's last words before being burned to death in Oxford on October 16, 1555).[Timing, eh?]

The other is more indirect: the situation of the men in the woods who describe to Montag how they have memorized books and are holding on to the memory of primarily western culture to pass it on to their children. This underground memory culture reminds me of Catholic recusants, passing on memories of their English Catholic heritage: "We'll pass the books on to our children, by word of mouth, and let our children wait, in turn, on the other people. . . ." Those underground Catholics of the 16th and 17th and 18th centuries prepared for the revival of Catholicism in England during the 19th and 20th, maintaining their knowledge and practice of the Faith the best they could, even with some losses, until public worship, and buildings, and schools and colleges, the structures of education and culture could be restored and rebuilt.

I suppose a rather troublesome sequel to Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 would come with the restoration of libraries, schools, and institutions of higher learning--then the dispersed unity of those who have memorized the books would have to come together. They would have to organize and accept their places in a hierarchy and a system to rebuild and restore. Perhaps a little like the Catholic community in England during the 19th century?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pilgrims and Park Rangers; Burning Books and Remembering

Image Catholic Books sent me a copy of The Right to be Wrong: Ending the Culture War over Religion in America by Kevin Seamus Hasson, the founder and chairman of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, in connection to a book giveaway, and for my opinion of the book.

I found it to be fascinating read because 1) it made connections for me with my study of the English Reformation and its aftermath, including the affects of religious matters in England on colonial New England, and 2) I was reading--I think for the first time ever!--Fahreinheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and again, the conflict that Hasson frames by using the Pilgrims on one side and the Park Rangers on the other side of the religious culture war in 21st century America resonated for me. It seemed to me that whoever was in charge of things in Bradbury's dystopia, they were both Pilgrims and Park Rangers, using entertainment and distraction to control people--with a message of nothingness and a public square empty of thought and freedom.

I liked Hasson's use of history to present his argument, at first focused on the Pilgrims, the Puritan and Pilgrim English emigrants who left their homeland to found colonies where THEY could practice their religion freely--but no one else could practice any different faith. Then he introduces the Park Rangers, mostly by citing different court cases, who don't want ANYONE to practice ANY faith in the public square. Along the way, Hasson identifies another crucial difference: between government toleration of different religion(s) and government recognition and protection of the human right to religious freedom. He even cites what I have regarded as the Calvert's Maryland colonial experiment in religious freedom and recognition of religious plurality as a case of toleration, because it was not grounded in the Lords Baltimore recognizing the basic human freedom of conscience and religious practice, but in their more limited view that their governance could arrange this toleration and plurality--so much so, that as I noted from Papist Patriots, they limited free speech, with a list of names the colonists could not call each other. Hasson continues this discussion of tolerance vs. freedom's rights through the history of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and the application of those rights in the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.

On my Radio Maria US radio show on October 13, I discussed this difference between tolerance and freedom of religion in the context of the Emancipation of English Catholics in 1829, which was not a recognition of human freedom but a legal removal of penal and recusant burdens. The proof of that--which I understood more fully after reading Hasson's book--is the restrictions on Jesuit and other orders Parliament included in the Act. The government gave freedom with one hand and took it away with the other!

From the Becket Fund website:

Becket Fund founder Seamus Hasson’s definitive book on religious liberty is now available for purchase in paperback.

Heralded by many as “the best discussion of religious liberty” available, “The Right to Be Wrong” offers an invaluable–and easy to read–examination of the fundamental right of all people to maintain the right to be wrong.

After 20 years of defending the free expression of nearly every religious tradition imaginable: Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Native Americans and even Zoroastrians, Hasson dissects stories from both his career at the Becket Fund and American history that illustrate the trenches of the religious liberty culture war.

In one corner are the “Pilgrims,” referencing the early Americans of Plymouth Colony who “thought only the truth was permissible in public” and so restricted the rights of those who disagreed with their definition of truth. In the other corner are “Park Rangers,” a nick-name (with a hilarious back-story) for bureacrats and organizations who think freedom means erasing beliefs from the public square, no matter how harmless.

Pilgrims and Park Rangers, in one form or another, have fought over the place of faith in society since the founding of our country. To end this culture war we must, as Hasson thoroughly points out, defend the free expression of all faiths, even if we disagree with them. “On any given day, I think most of my clients are wrong,” he says in the book’s introduction. “But I firmly believe that, in an important sense, they have the right to be wrong.”

This is the bedrock principle of the Becket Fund, and precisely the reason why we have become the premiere religious liberty law firm for defending the free expression of all, regardless of faith or conviction. To us, there is no better way than this.

I appreciated Hasson's argument and am still thinking about his final discussion of how we can have "a right to be wrong", which he also expresses in the context of The Becket Fund's efforts: “On any given day, I think most of my clients are wrong.  But I firmly believe that, in an important sense, they have the right to be wrong.” This is a provocative statement and Hasson avers that he can believe it without adopting what Blessed John Henry Newman would call the "anti-dogmatic principle of liberalism in religion" aka relativism:

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.

I think what Newman describes as liberalism in religion ends up in the toleration of religion that Hasson identifies as an ineffective response to religious plurality. Hasson develops an argument that religion is "[a] bond of society" because human beings by nature are religious (for example, when we celebrate something--say Christmas--we want to celebrate publicly, not in hiding as though Puritan soldiers were searching for violations of Parliament's law against Christmas). Hasson argues that we cannot ignore religion "in the intercourse of man with man" and he certainly wants us and urges us to get beyond government merely tolerating different religious practice--it's a fascinating dilemma.

More on Fahrenheit 451 tomorrow.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Stuart Link to Hanover

Sophia of Hanover was born on October 14, 1630, the twelfth child of Frederick V, the Elector Palatinate and Elizabeth, the Queen of Bohemia (and James I/VI's daughter). She would provide the link between the English Stuarts and the German Hanoverians because of her marriage to Ernest Augustus, Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg. She is pictured on the right (wikipedia source) in an Indian costume, painted by her older sister Louise). Also according to the wikipedia article:

Sophia of the Palatinate (commonly referred to as Sophia of Hanover; 14 October 1630 – 8 June 1714[2]) was the Electress of Hanover from 1692 to 1698. She was also an heiress to the crowns of England (later Great Britain) and Ireland, countries she never visited. She was declared heiress presumptive to Queen Anne of England and Ireland by the Act of Settlement 1701, which was passed by the English parliament, and therefore only applied to the Kingdom of England (which included Wales) and the Kingdom of Ireland. A few years later, the Kingdom of Scotland agreed to accept the Hanoverian succession for the new single throne of a new country, the Kingdom of Great Britain that Scotland and England had agreed to unite as, and which came into being under the Acts of Union, 1707. Sophia, a granddaughter of James VI and I, died less than two months before she would have become queen; her claim to the thrones passed on to her eldest son, George Louis, Elector of Hanover, who ascended them as George I on 1 August 1714 Old Style.

Sophia of Hanover was chosen by Parliament in 1701 because she was the closest Stuart heir who was NOT Catholic--even her elder brother Edward's children could not succeed to the throne because they were Catholic. This Act of Succession was necessary because William and Mary had no children (and Mary was dead by 1701 and William would not remarry), and Princess Anne Stuart's only child to survive infancy, William, Duke of Gloucester, died in 1700. James II's son, James Francis Edward, considered by his supporters to be the Prince of Wales and by his detractors, the Old Pretender, were completely shut out, of course, because what had the Glorious Revolution of 1688 been for, after all! (BTW, Sophia's elder sister Louise, the artist, had also become Catholic and a Cistercian nun and abbess!)

She was opposed to her eldest son's marriage to Sophia Dorothea of Celle, even though she had arranged it! The two Sophias did not get along at all and Sophia Dorothea was unhappy in her marriage to the heir-Elector. Although she bore him two children, the future George II and Sophia Dorothea, who married Frederick William I of Prussia (and was the mother of Frederick the Great). Helen Simpson's novel, Saraband for Dead Lovers was adapted by Ealing Studios as a lovely historical movie starring Joan Greenwood and Stewart Granger, with Peter Bull as George.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Penultimate Episode of The English Reformation Today!

Today's topic is the Nineteenth Century and Emancipation at last! It's so appropriate that it comes in the same week as Blessed John Henry Newman's feast day, October 9.

I've divided this broadcast into four parts, one for each momentous date:

I. 1829--Emancipation for Catholics at last--meant the removal of all penal and recusancy laws, now really religious freedom as a human or even civil right, but a legal measure of toleration. I'll examine the reasons for this policy change and some reaction.

II. 1845--Anglican minister and Tractarian/Oxford Movement leader John Henry Newman becomes a Catholic on October 9, 1845. This date gives me the opportunity to make a few comments about the Oxford Movement and then about Newman's contributions to the Catholic community and Church in England as an Oratorian, teacher, and writer.

III. 1850--the Restoration of the Catholic Hierarchy by Pope Pio Nono; this provoked some violent reaction from Queen Victoria, the Prime Minister and some rioters! But it meant that the Catholic Church could start building again: cathedrals, churches, schools, convents, monasteries, etc. I'll highlight the great architect of the Catholic revival, A.W.G. Pugin.

IV. 1870--the First Vatican Council defines the dogma of Papal Infallibility. William Gladstone, former Prime Minister, takes offense and publishes a pamphlet warning that Catholics just cannot be loyal English citizens when the Pope is Infallible. Father John Henry Newman wrote his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk to prove that Gladstone was wrong--because he did not understand either the rights and duties of conscience or the reality of Papal Infallibility in faith and morals:

There are two more crucial points Blessed John Henry Newman makes about conscience: first, that we must follow our conscience but second, that we must take care to form our conscience: “Conscience has rights because it has duties”. Since conscience reflects not on individual judgment and consistency but on God’s Law, we have to work to understand God’s Law. This is where Newman again addresses the authority of the Church and Christ’s Vicar on Earth, the Pope, who are God’s representatives alluded to above.

Jesus left us the Church and He established the Papacy because “the sense of right and wrong, which is the first element in religion, is so delicate, so fitful, so easily puzzled, obscured, perverted, so subtle in its argumentative methods, so impressible by education, so biased by pride and passion, so unsteady in its course, that, in the struggle for existence amid the various exercises and triumphs of the human intellect, this sense is at once the highest of all teachers, yet the least luminous; and the Church, the Pope, the Hierarchy are, in the Divine purpose, the supply of an urgent demand.” Therefore, Newman notes that every Catholic owes the teaching authority of the Church at the very least the benefit of the doubt and further observes that the burden of proof is upon the individual, not the Church. Newman warns us that the individual “must have no willful determination to exercise a right of thinking, saying, doing just what he pleases”. . . .

Newman’s Letter to the Duke of Norfolk addressed contemporary concerns but his discussion of conscience has been timeless: it is quoted in the Catechism in paragraph 1778 and Pope Benedict XVI has reflected upon it. Speaking in December 2010 on the beatification of Newman during his visit to Scotland and England that September, Pope Benedict highlighted it as one of Newman’s great contributions. For Newman, he said, “conscience means man’s capacity for truth: the capacity to recognize precisely in the decision-making areas of his life – religion and morals – a truth, the truth. At the same time, conscience – man’s capacity to recognize truth – thereby imposes on him the obligation to set out along the path towards truth, to seek it and to submit to it wherever he finds it. Conscience is both capacity for truth and obedience to the truth which manifests itself to anyone who seeks it with an open heart.”

And I suppose I could add one more date if there is time (if not, at least you have some information about it here and can meditate upon it at your leisure):

V. 1879--Pope Leo XIII makes Newman a Cardinal and Newman warns against liberalism, the great danger to religion and truth:

“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.”

 I welcome all listeners of Radio Maria US to my blog, whether you're listening on one of their radio stations or on line or through one of their apps. I invite you to call in with questions and comments toll-free at 866-333-MARY(6279). Just a reminder, too, that podcasts of previous episodes of The English Reformation Today are available on the Radio Maria US website. Next week: Catholic Revivial and Converts--Two Popes visit the British Isles and the Personal Ordinariate!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Edmund Berry Godfrey, RIP

Titus Oates and Israel Tonge were telling their story about the vast Jesuit wing conspiracy to kill Charles II. They swore a desposition to Edmund Berry Godfrey, a magistrate and then on October 12, 1678, he disappeared. His body was found on October 17, in a ditch on Primrose Hill. It was his mysterious death, impaled by his own sword that really gave impetus to Oates and Tonge's Popish Plot, as authorities assumed it was his knowledge of the Plot that led to his death. Catholics had murdered him to keep him from telling about the Plot, it was alleged--although there were indications that Godfrey had already warned Edward Colman, the Duchess of York's secretary (who would suffer hanging and quartering on December 3, 1678) that there was a plot to ensnare the royal family and its servants.

There is memorial to the magistrate in Westminster Abbey:

"Edmund Berry Godfrey, raised, for his services to King and Country, to the rank of Knight, having filled the office of Justice with a singular faithfulness and diligence, was snatched at last from the sight of his kinsfolk on 12th Oct. 1678, and found on the fifth day following, having suffered an abominable and hideous death. The rest let History tell. This monument, ravaged by age, was restored, and the epitaph to his brother Edmund added, by Benjamin, youngest son and now the sole survivor of the sons of Thomas Godfrey, 2nd April 1696".
 Edmund Berry Godfrey was born 23 December 1621, a son of Thomas, a Member of Parliament, and his second wife Sarah (Iles or Isles). His second name was taken from his godfather Captain John Berrie. He attended Westminster School, like his brother Edward, and Christ Church college Oxford. Ill health and deafness prevented him from completing his law studies. In 1650 he went into trade as a wood and coal merchant in London. He had a house in Westminster and became a local magistrate and was called the "best justice of the peace in England". In 1666 he was knighted for services in helping "to suppress the late fire in the City". In 1678 he became involved in the Popish Plot scandal. His body was found on Primrose Hill near Hampstead on 17 October with a sword wound and it was popularly said that he was murdered by Catholics. He was buried at St Martin in the Fields church, Westminster. Three men were executed for the murder but later many other theories were put forward.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Year of Faith

Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed a Year of Faith beginning today because October 11 is the 50th anniversary of opening of the Second Vatican Council (1962) and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Second Vatican Council is a subject far beyond the reach of this blog, but there is an important aspect of the Council, a specific document in fact, that has a connection to the whole issue of Catholicism and Anglicanism that is certainly a theme of my studies and interests.

In the Decree on Ecumenism, UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO, CHAPTER III, CHURCHES AND ECCLESIAL COMMUNITIES SEPARATED FROM THE ROMAN APOSTOLIC SEE, paragraph 13, the Fathers of the Council specifically mentioned the Church of England:

We now turn our attention to the two chief types of division as they affect the seamless robe of Christ.

The first divisions occurred in the East, when the dogmatic formulae of the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon were challenged, and later when ecclesiastical communion between the Eastern Patriarchates and the Roman See was dissolved.

Other divisions arose more than four centuries later in the West, stemming from the events which are usually referred to as "The Reformation." As a result, many Communions, national or confessional, were separated from the Roman See. Among those in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place.

These various divisions differ greatly from one another not only by reason of their origin, place and time, but especially in the nature and seriousness of questions bearing on faith and the structure of the Church. Therefore, without minimizing the differences between the various Christian bodies, and without overlooking the bonds between them which exist in spite of divisions, this holy Council decides to propose the following considerations for prudent ecumenical action. . . .

Blessed Pope John XXIII had previously established the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury visited the Vatican in 1960 (unofficially). Anglican observers were present at the Council and there was an Anglican reaction to this statement and the entire program of the Second Vatican Council.

In 1966 Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey made an official visit to Pope Paul VI and then in 1967, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) was established. One of the fruits of the dialogue taking place under ARCIC's auspices was the 2005 document on the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in salvation history and devotion, "Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ".

Just as Canterbury visited Rome, Blessed John Paul II met with Robert Runcie during the former's 1982 pilgrimage to England, while Pope Benedict XVI met with Rowan Williams (set to retire at the end of 2012) during the Pope's official visit in September 2010, speaking at Lambeth Palace:

It is a pleasure for me to be able to return the courtesy of the visits you have made to me in Rome by a fraternal visit to you here in your official residence. I thank you for your invitation and for the hospitality that you have so generously provided. I greet too the Anglican Bishops gathered here from different parts of the United Kingdom, my brother Bishops from the Catholic Dioceses of England, Wales and Scotland, and the ecumenical advisers who are present.

You have spoken, Your Grace, of the historic meeting that took place, almost thirty years ago, between two of our predecessors – Pope John Paul the Second and Archbishop Robert Runcie – in Canterbury Cathedral. There, in the very place where Saint Thomas of Canterbury bore witness to Christ by the shedding of his blood, they prayed together for the gift of unity among the followers of Christ. We continue today to pray for that gift, knowing that the unity Christ willed for his disciples will only come about in answer to prayer, through the action of the Holy Spirit, who ceaselessly renews the Church and guides her into the fullness of truth.

It is not my intention today to speak of the difficulties that the ecumenical path has encountered and continues to encounter. Those difficulties are well known to everyone here. Rather, I wish to join you in giving thanks for the deep friendship that has grown between us and for the remarkable progress that has been made in so many areas of dialogue during the forty years that have elapsed since the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission began its work. Let us entrust the fruits of that work to the Lord of the harvest, confident that he will bless our friendship with further significant growth.

Pope Benedict concluded his remarks by citing Blessed John Henry Newman (before the beatification Mass):

In the figure of John Henry Newman, who is to be beatified on Sunday, we celebrate a churchman whose ecclesial vision was nurtured by his Anglican background and matured during his many years of ordained ministry in the Church of England. He can teach us the virtues that ecumenism demands: on the one hand, he was moved to follow his conscience, even at great personal cost; and on the other hand, the warmth of his continued friendship with his former colleagues, led him to explore with them, in a truly eirenical spirit, the questions on which they differed, driven by a deep longing for unity in faith. Your Grace, in that same spirit of friendship, let us renew our determination to pursue the goal of unity in faith, hope, and love, in accordance with the will of our one Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Another major development in the relationship and dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church, certainly, is the establishment of the Personal Ordinariate, founded by Pope Benedict XVI in response to "groups of Anglicans" requesting some provision for communion with the Catholic Church as communities maintaining some aspects of their Anglican heritage. The Ordinariate Portal has several posts on the effects of the Ordinariate on ARCIC, which last met in May of 2011. Major obstacles to reunion between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion remain (certainly, the ordination of women as both priests and bishops in the Anglican Communion and the infallibility of the Pope in the Catholic Church are the really big issues) and yet those obstacles become vehicles of conversion for individuals or groups of Anglicans!

Note that Rowan Williams will attend the Mass celebrating the Year of Faith and the Anniversary of the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council today in Rome. In the U.K. the Catholic Truth Society is offering a wide range of resources for the Year of Faith.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy Birthday to a Hagiographer!

Father Alban Butler was born on October 10, 1710. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "he shares with the venerable Bishop Challoner the reputation of being one of the two most prominent Catholic students during the first half of the dreary eighteenth century, when the prospects of English Catholics were at their lowest."

I just spoke of the "dreary" Long Eighteenth Century, and Father Butler's work during it, on my radio program last Saturday on Radio Maria US.

More about Father Butler, from the same source:

[He was born] at Appletree, Northamptonshire, England; [and died] at St-Omer, France, 15 May, 1773. . . . After the death of his father in 1712, he was sent to the celebrated "Dame Alice's School", at Fernyhalgh, in Lancashire. From thence while still young he was transferred to the English College at Douai, where he went through the full course, and was ordained priest in 1735. He had already gained a reputation for extraordinary diligence and regularity, and was asked to remain at the college as professor, first of philosophy, later on of theology. During his years at Douai, he devoted himself to what became the great work of his life, "The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints". His mastery of ancient and modern languages fitted him specially for a task which involved such wide reading, while his unremitting industry and steady perseverance enabled him to overcome all obstacles. He also assisted Dr. Challoner, by preparing matter for the latter's "Memoirs of Missionary Priests", the standard work on the martyrs of the reign of Elizabeth and later. Butler's notes are still preserved at Oscott College.

In 1745 Alban Butler was chosen to accompany the Earl of Shrewsbury and his two brothers, James and Thomas Talbot, both afterwards bishops, on a tour through Europe. On his return he acted as mission priest in various parts of the Midland District, to which he belonged by origin. Though ever seeking leisure for study, we are told that he was precise in the discharge of all his duties, and his time was always at the disposal of the poor or others who had a claim upon him. We next find him acting as chaplain to the Duke of Norfolk, whose nephew (and heir presumptive), the Hon. Edward Howard, he accompanied to Paris as tutor. During his residence there, Butler at length completed his work on the "Lives of the Saints", on which he had been engaged nearly thirty years. It contains biographies of more than 1,600 saints arranged in order of date; and is a monument of work and research. It was published anonymously, in London, in 1756-59, nominally in four, really in seven octavo volumes. This was the only edition which appeared during the author's lifetime; but there have been many others since, and the work has been translated into Italian and French.

Read the rest here. There are now many editions of "Butler's Lives of the Saints", updated and edited, and some might be far from his original work.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

For Blessed John Henry Newman's Feast Day

Just a couple of months after beatifying Cardinal Newman during his visit to Scotland and England in September 2010, Pope Benedict XVI sent this message to a symposium organized in Rome by the "International Center of Newman Friends" on the topic: "The Primacy of God in the Life and Writings of Blessed John Henry Newman.":

While the joy is still very alive in me of having been able to proclaim as blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman during my recent trip to the United Kingdom, I address a cordial greeting to you, the illustrious relators, and to all the participants in the symposium organized in Rome by the International Center of Newman Friends. I express my appreciation for the topic chosen: "The Primacy of God in the Life and Writings of Blessed John Henry Newman." With it, in fact, is made rightly evident theocentrism as the essential perspective that characterized the personality and work of the great English theologian.

It is well know that young Newman, despite having been able to know, thanks to his mother, the "religion of the Bible," went through a period of difficulties and doubts. For 14 years, in fact, he was under the influence of philosophers such as Hume and Voltaire and, recognizing himself in their objections against religion, he pointed himself, in keeping with the humanist and liberal fashion of the time, to a sort of deism.

The following year, however, Newman received the grace of conversion, finding peace "in the thought of only two absolutely and luminously evident beings, myself and my Creator" (J.H. Newman, "Apologia pro Vita Sua," Milan, 2001, pp. 137-138). Hence, he discovered the objective truth of a personal and living God, who speaks to the conscience and reveals to man his condition of creature. He understood his own dependence on the being of him who is the principle of all things, thus finding in him the origin and meaning of his personal identity and singularity. It was this particular experience that constitutes the basis of the primacy of God in Newman's life.

After his conversion, he let himself be guided by two fundamental criteria -- taken from the book The Force of Truth, of Calvinist Thomas Scott -- which manifested fully the primacy of God in his life. The first -- "sanctity rather than peace" (ibid., p. 139) -- documents his firm will to adhere to the interior teacher with his own conscience, of abandoning himself confidently to the Father and of living in fidelity to the recognized truth. These ideals entailed immediately "a great price to be paid." In fact, Newman both as an Anglican as well as a Catholic, had to undergo many trials, disappointments and misunderstandings. Yet, he never lowered himself to false compromises or was content with easy consensus. He was always honest in the search for truth, faithful to the appeals of his conscience and reached out toward the ideal of sanctity.

The second motto chosen by Newman -- "growth is the only expression of life" (ibid.) -- expresses wholly his disposition to a continuous interior conversion, transformation and growth, always confidently leaning on God. Thus he discovered his vocation at the service of the Word of God and, turning to the Fathers of the Church to find greater light, proposed a true reform of Anglicanism, adhering finally to the Catholic Church. He recapitulated his own experience of growth, in fidelity to himself and to the will of the Lord, with the famous words: "Here on earth to live is to change, and perfection is the result of many transformations" (J.H. Newman, "The Development of Christian Doctrine," Milan, 2002, p. 75). And Newman was throughout his life one who was converted, who was transformed, and in this always remained himself, and always became increasingly himself.

Read the rest here.

I have had the pleasure of visiting two locations of the International Centre of Newman Friends: in Rome and in Littlemore, outside Oxford!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Oxford and Cambridge Events

Once I Was Clever Boy has some great details about Newmanian and Year of Faith activities in Oxford and Cambridge this week:

Blessed John Henry Newman's Feast

The Oxford Oratory will begin its celebrations of the feast of Bl. John Henry Newman with a Triduum of prayers on Saturday October 6th and Sunday October 7th at 6, and on Monday October 8th at 6.30.

Following that on the evening of Monday October 8th there will be the annual Night Walk to Littlemore to commemorate the journey of Bl.Dominic Barberi to receive Bl. John Henry Newman into the Church.

The pilgrimage begins at the Oxford Oratory at 7.45, pausing for readings and prayers at places associated with Newman. At 9.30 there will be a candlelit procession from 89 Rose Hill to the church of Bl. Dominic Barberi in Littlemore for a Holy Hour with Exposition beginning at 10, during which Confessions will be available. Following Benediction, at 10.45 the pilgrims will process to the College at Littlemore to conclude in Newman's Chapel there. Refreshments are available afterwards at the College. . . .

On the evening of Tuesday October 9th there will be a Solemn Mass at the Oxford Oratory to mark the feast day of Bl. John Henry at 6.

The beginning of the Year of Faith in Oxford:

There will be a High Mass at SS Gregory and Augustine in Woodstock Road in Oxford on the feast of the Motherhood of Our Lady, Thursday 11th October at 6 p.m., to celebrate the opening of the Year of Faith. The preacher will be Fr Aidan Nichols OP. Palestrina's Missa brevis in F will be sung by the Newman Consort. There will be drinks and light refreshments afterwards in the parish hall. The intention of the Mass will be for the Holy Father.

The beginning of the Year of Faith in Cambridge:

On Wednesday October 10th at 7 pm Mgr Andrew Burnham from the Ordinariate will preach at Solemn Evensong and Benediction for the beginning of the Year of Faith in the marvellous Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge. Not only will this be a service worth attending in itself but it is an opportunity or excuse to go to the church, which was built in 1885-90. If you have visited OLEM before you will know what to expect. If you have not, then visiting this spectacular church is a treat in store.

How I wish I could be there for these events!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Professor Eric Ives, RIP

You might remember that I reviewed Professor Eric Ives' book The Reformation Experience recently on this blog. Turns out that this book will be his last (unless he has a work close enough to completion for posthumous publication): he died on the 25th of September at age 81. This obituary comes from the BBC History Magazine online edition:

Eric Ives OBE, a leading Tudor historian and contributor to BBC History Magazine, has died. He was 81 years old.

Ives was emeritus professor of English history at the University of Birmingham and an expert on the Tudor period. He wrote a number of books across a long career, with perhaps his most famous work, Anne Boleyn, published in 1986. His most recent publication, The Reformation Experience, was released earlier this year.

Author and historian Suzannah Lipscomb said: "Professor Eric Ives's death is a sudden and profound loss to the historical community. He was a brilliant historian and one of the leading lights of Tudor history: his work on Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey is unsurpassed (and I say this even as one who disagreed with him on some points of interpretation!). It is deeply sad that The Reformation Experience will be his last book. But, even more importantly, he was also an exceptionally warm, kind, generous and courteous man. He will be greatly missed."

Blessed John Henry Newman: "To Be Deep In History . . ."

"To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant", wrote Blessed John Henry Newman, and that has proven true for historian Edward Norman, according to the Catholic Herald.

Dr Edward Norman, the historian and former Canon Chancellor [one of the canons of the cathedral who has a particular responsibility for matters of education and scholarship, often acting as the cathedral librarian and archivist] of York Minister, will be received into the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on Sunday.

In an article for this newspaper, Dr Norman explains the reasons for his decision to become a Catholic.

He argues that Anglicanism has “no basis for its authority” as its confession “varies from place to place and person to person”. He says: “At the centre of Anglicanism is a great void.”

He adds: “The Church of England provides a masterclass in equivocation; it also, however, is the residence of very many good and faithful Christian people who deserve respect – for their perseverance in so many incoherent spiritual adventures.

“To leave their company is a wrench; to adhere to the Catholic faith is to join the encompassing presence of a universal body of believers in whose guardianship are the materials of authentic spiritual understanding… I have immense gratitude.”

According to a spokesman for the ordinariate, the former Reith lecturer will be received into the ordinariate on Sunday following a “profound intellectual and spiritual journey nurtured and enabled by the Anglican tradition”.

The spokesman said: “Preserving those gifts and enriching them with the peace and communion offered by union with the successor of Peter is the most natural course of action for Anglicans who have a genuine desire for Christian unity.

“We are delighted to welcome Edward Norman, whose considerable academic standing bears witness to the seriousness with which he has taken this decision.”

Please note his irenic and beautiful tone, matched by the Ordinariate spokesman: it's the founding of the Anglican Church that Dr. Norman finds lacking, not the men and women who seek to follow Christ within its structure. His comments about the variations in Anglican teaching reminded me of Newman's Loss and Gain and Charles Reding's cry, "Who wants my obedience?".

I found his book The English Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century to be a model of historical writing, and said so in this review:

This is a very clearly written narrative of the history of the Catholic Church in England, wearing its scholarship lightly. Norman traces the achievements (Emancipation, rebuilding, conversions, education, integration) and the conflicts (between Ultramontanists and Cisalpines, between personalities, and over important issues like university education for the laity) with balance and wisdom. He does focus on the great men who led the Church or contributed to those achievements and conflicts; I wish Norman could reissue the book with greater representation of the ordinary Catholic, lay or clerical, during the era. He begins by highlighting their anonymous and heroic contributions to the growth of the Church in England during the century, but their names should be mentioned and their stories told. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

St. Bruno and the Carthusian Order

I have often posted about the Carthusian Order and its English Reformation martyrs on this blog. Today we celebrate the feast of the order's founder, St. Bruno of Cologne:

Born in Cologne around 1030, he begins studying at the school of the Cathedral of Reims at an early age. Made a "doctor", Canon of the Cathedral Chapter, he is made the Rector of the University in 1056. He was one of the most remarkable scholars and teacher of his time "a prudent man whose word was rich in meaning."

He finds himself less and less at ease in a city where scandal has little affect towards the clergy and the Bishop himself. After having fought, not without success, against this disorder, Bruno feels the desire of a life more completely given to God alone.

After an attempt at a solitary life of short duration, he enters the region of Grenoble, of which the Bishop, the future Saint Hugues, offers him a solitary site in the mountains of his diocese. In June 1084, the Bishop himself leads Bruno and six of his companions in the primitive valley of Chartreuse, where the Order eventually gets its name from. They build a hermitage, consisting of a few log cabins opening towards a gallery which allows them access to the communal areas of the community -- church, refectory, and chapter room -- without having to suffer too much from intemperate conditions.

After six years of a pleasant solitary life, Bruno is called by Pope Urban II to the service of the Holy See. Not thinking of being able to continue without him, his community first thinks of separating, but it allows itself to be convinced to follow in the life that he first formed. Advisor to the Pope, Bruno is ill at ease a the Pontifical Court. He only lives in Rome for a few short months. With the Pope's blessing, he establishes a new hermitage in the forests of Calabria, in the south of Italy, with a few new companions. There he dies 6 October 1101.

I note this on the website: "Liturgical celebration does not have any pastoral intent. This explains why those outside the Order are not admitted to participate at the offices or the Mass celebrated in the churches of our monasteries. Because of our call to solitude, visits are limited to the family members of the monk (2 days a year) and to those who feel called to our life, whom we call retreatants."--so when St. Thomas More spent any time with the Carthusians of the Charterhouse of London, it would have been as a retreatant. Note also how much Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Audley, at al, were interrupting the solitude of the Carthusians.

There is a Charterhouse in England today: St. Hugh at Parkminster (make sure you have the sound turned on your computer; the site comes with chant!) It was founded in 1873 and the house originally had two houses from the Continent to accommodate. Their site includes a gift shop, with this book about the Beauvale martyrs of the English Reformation.

The English Reformation Today: Episode Ten!

Today's topic is The Long Eighteenth Century for English Catholics after the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 until the first Catholic Relief Acts of 1778 and 1791. During this period, Catholics were really at their lowest point since Henry VIII's Break from Rome in 1534. They were but a small minority, they had no national center at Court (as they had throughout the 17th century with the original Stuarts), and in Enlightenment England, with the Broad Church mentality of the Church of England, they weren't really even worth persecuting!

I'll start with the story of James II's reign, his attempts to bring about religious freedom through an Act of Indulgence, and the invasion of England by the Dutch, invited by Members of Parliament and the Church to keep Protestantism safe in England from James and his Catholic son and heir. Then the story has two narratives--the new Stuarts, William and Mary, then Anne, and the Parliamentary acts that prevented Catholics from even being near the throne: no Catholic monarch, no Catholic spouses allowed; while the old Stuarts, James II and his heirs in French exile, led invasions in Ireland and Scotland, attempting to regain the throne, especially when the Hanoverian dynasty came to England.

I'll describe how the Latitudinarians took over leadership of the Church of England when the High Church Anglicans lost power, especially after the Non-Juror movements meant the loss of some of the better bishops, including an Archbishop of Canterbury and two great spiritual writers, Thomas Ken and William Law. All of this history, of course, is laid out in the narrative of Chapter 9 of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation.

As for Catholics, as I mentioned, they were at the lowest point in their history, but there are a few high points:

Richard Challoner is one of the heroes of this era: as Vicar Apostolic, he worked to remind Catholics of their heritage in England. He completed the great work of gathering details about the martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries which would be the basis on their causes for canonization in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Alban Butler wrote his great Lives of the Saints, still a basic work of hagiography.

Fathers George Leo Haydock and John Lingard were born near the end of the 18th century and in the next century, they would produce great intellectual works. Father Haydock would write and edit a great Biblical Commentary, while Father Lingard would produce a great history of England that would redress some historical errors of the Whig version of history, paving the way for full emancipation of Catholics in 1829.

The Catholic Relief Acts of 1778 and 1791 will wrap up this episode, including the horror of the Gordon Riots, provoked by the first easing of restrictions on Catholic worship. I welcome all listeners of Radio Maria US to my blog, whether you're listening on one of their radio stations or on line or through one of their apps. I invite you to call in with questions and comments toll-free at 866-333-MARY(6279). Just a reminder, too, that podcasts of previous episodes of The English Reformation Today are available on the Radio Maria US website. Next week: Emancipation at Last! and four important dates: 1829, 1845, 1850, and 1870.

Friday, October 5, 2012

You Can't Make This Up!

For the first time since Henry VIII broke away from Rome and set the English Reformation on its course, a Catholic Mass has been celebrated in Beverley Minster, according to The Catholic Herald:

The first Mass celebrated by a bishop since the reign of Henry VIII has taken place in Beverley Minster.

The Mass marked the 50th anniversary of a local Catholic primary school named after St John of Beverly.

Bishop Terence Drainey of Middlesbrough celebrated the Mass, which was attended by teachers, students and their families.

“It was a very great privilege to be able to celebrate Mass in a place which has been a focus of prayer and worship for hundreds of years,” he said. “St John of Beverley is a major figure in our Catholic and English cultural history. He is the second patron of our diocese as well as being the patron of the Roman Catholic school in Beverley whose anniversary we were celebrating.”

St. John of Beverley was really a royal saint--King Henry V urged devotion to the saint after his victory at Agincourt! Henry VIII ordered his shrine destroyed in 1541, but his bones were found again in 1664 and reburied with a new shrine.

Revolutionary England, Almost

Frank McLynn writes about seven times when England could have experienced a complete revolution--somehow passing over the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution of 1688. He includes the Pilgrimage of Grace and the Jacobite uprising (the '45) among the seven. As Nigel Jones comments in this review, the premise is a little weak, and the selection might be questionable:
It is axiomatic in British history that this country – unlike many European neighbours – does not ‘do’ revolutions. This assumption is at least arguable. If the Civil War of the 1640s, resulting in the quasi-legal killing of a king, and his replacement by a military dictatorship with millennial overtones, was not a revolution, then the term has no meaning. Ditto the 1688 ‘Glorious Revolution’. Yet according to Frank McLynn, neither of these upheavals constituted a true revolution, which, he argues, Britain has never experienced.

His book focuses on seven moments when he claims Britain came closest to “the possibility for overthrow of a regime and a drastic change of direction politically, economically, socially”: the Peasants’ Revolt, Jack Cade’s 1450 rebellion, the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, the Civil War, the 1745/6 Jacobite uprising; the Chartists of the 1840s, and the 1926 General Strike. . . .

The examples McLynn lumps into his revolutionary sack are questionable: if the Pilgrimage, why not the Prayer Book or Kett’s rebellion? And if Chartism, why not the era of Peterloo and the Cato Street conspiracy? This is also very old-fashioned history, with heroes and villains praised – or more frequently damned – featuring Henry VIII, Cromwell and (bizarrely) Stanley Baldwin in a rogues’ gallery of tyranny.

As to why Britain avoided revolution, McLynn discounts such theories as its insular isolation, its small professional army, the popularity of its modern monarchy, or the myth that its people were less violent than their continental counterparts (before the 18th century the reverse was the case). He identifies a few factors as crucial: Britain’s early industrialisation; its acquisition of an empire to export its surplus workforce; and finally the preference for gradualist reformism to revolutionary activism, exemplified by the popularity of Methodism over Marxism.

Whenever I think of book about revolutions, I think of Susan Dunn's Sister Revolutions: French Lightning, American Light, published in 2000:

The American and French revolutions presented the world with two very different visions of democracy. Although both professed similar Enlightenment ideals of freedom, equality, and justice and set similar political agendas, there were also fundamental differences. The French sought a complete break with a thousand years of history; the Americans were content to preserve many aspects of their English heritage. Why did the two revolutions follow such different trajectories? And what lessons do they offer us about democracy today? In lucid narrative style, Dunn captures the personalities and lives of the great figures of both revolutions, and shows how their stories added up to make two very different events.

I completely agree with the assessment of this reviewer: "Everybody should read this book. It offers a lively education in a small package. Then, if there's time, reread Federalist 10 and 51, as well as Simon Schama's book Citizens. What the French took from the Americans, Lord Acton once wrote, "was their theory of revolution not their theory of government — their cutting but not their sewing.""